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Title: Patrins - To Which is Added an Inquirendo into the Wit & Other Good - Parts of His Late Majesty King Charles the Second
Author: Guiney, Louise Imogen
Language: English
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love to Emmy's memory.



PATRINS

_TO WHICH IS ADDED_

  An INQUIRENDO Into the WIT &
  Other Good Parts of HIS LATE MAJESTY
  KING CHARLES the Second


  _WRITTEN BY_
  LOUISE IMOGEN GUINEY


[Illustration: SICUT LILIUM INTER SPINAS]


  _BOSTON_
  Printed for _Copeland and Day_
  _69 Cornhill_ 1897


COPYRIGHT 1897 BY COPELAND AND DAY



[Inscription: M.R.D., from her affectionate
old friend who wrote it. 1897]



TO BLISS CARMAN


A _patrin_, according to _Romano Lavo-Lil_, is "a Gypsy trail:
handfuls of leaves or grass cast by the Gypsies on the road, to
denote, to those behind, the way which they have taken." Well, these
wild dry whims are _patrins_ dropped now in the open for our tribe;
but particularly for you. They will greet you as you lazily come up,
and mean: Fare on, and good luck love you to the end! On each have I
put the date of its writing, as one might make memoranda of little
leisurely adventures in prolonged fair weather; and you will read, in
between and all along, a record of pleasant lonely paths never very
far from your own, biggest of Romanys! in the thought-country of our
common youth.

  Ingraham Hill, South Thomaston, Maine,
  October 19, 1896.



Contents


                                                                    Page

  On the Rabid _versus_ the Harmless Scholar                           3

  The Great Playground                                                13

  On the Ethics of Descent                                            29

  Some Impressions from the Tudor Exhibition                          39

  On the Delights of an Incognito                                     63

  The Puppy: A Portrait                                               73

  On Dying Considered as a Dramatic Situation                         83

  A Bitter Complaint of the Ungentle Reader                           99

  Animum non Coelum                                                  109

  The Precept of Peace                                               117

  On a Pleasing Encounter with a Pickpocket                          131

  Reminiscences of a Fine Gentleman                                  139

  Irish                                                              153

  An Open Letter to the Moon                                         169

  The Under Dog                                                      181

  Quiet London                                                       191

  The Captives                                                       205

  On Teaching One's Grandmother How to Suck Eggs                     223

  Wilful Sadness in Literature                                       233

  An Inquirendo into the Wit and Other Good Parts
    of His Late Majesty, King Charles the Second                     247



ON THE RABID _VERSUS_ THE HARMLESS SCHOLAR


A PHILOSOPHER now living, and too deserving for any fate but choice
private oblivion, was in Paris, for the first time, a dozen years
ago; and having seen and heard there, in the shops, parks, and
omnibus stations, much more baby than he found pleasing, he remarked,
upon his return, that it was a great pity the French, who are so in
love with system, had never seen their way to shutting up everything
under ten years of age! Now, that was the remark of an artist in
human affairs, and may provoke a number of analogies. What is in the
making is not a public spectacle. It ought to be considered very
outrageous, on the death of a painter or a poet, to exhibit those
rough first drafts, which he, living, had the acumen to conceal.
And if, to an impartial eye, in a foreign city, native innocents
seem too aggressively to the fore, why should not the seclusion
desired for them be visited a thousandfold upon the heads, let us
say, of students, who are also in a crude transitional state, and
undergoing a growth much more distressing to a sensitive observer
than the physical? Youth is the most inspiring thing on earth, but
not the best to let loose, especially while it carries swaggeringly
that most dangerous of all blunderbusses, knowledge at half-cock.
There is, indeed, no more melancholy condition than that of healthy
boys scowling over books, in an eternal protest against their father
Adam's fall from a state of relative omniscience. Sir Philip Sidney
thought it was "a piece of the Tower of Babylon's curse that a man
should be put to school to learn his mother-tongue!" The throes of
education are as degrading and demoralizing as a hanging, and, when
the millennium sets in, will be as carefully screened from the laity.
Around the master and the pupil will be reared a portly and decorous
Chinese wall, which shall pen within their proper precincts the din
of _hic, hæc, hoc_, and the steam of suppers sacrificed to Pallas.

The more noxious variety of student, however, is not young. He is
"in the midway of this our mortal life"; he is fearfully foraging,
with intent to found and govern an academy; he runs in squads after
Anglo-Saxon or that blatant beast, Comparative Mythology; he stops
you on 'change to ask if one has not good grounds for believing that
there was such a person as Pope Joan. He can never let well enough
alone. Heine must be translated and Junius must be identified. The
abodes of hereditary scholars are depopulated by the red flag of
the _nouveau instruit_. He infests every civilized country; the
army-worm is nothing to him. He has either lacked early discipline
altogether, or gets tainted, late in life, with the notion that
he has never shown sufficiently how intellectual he really is. In
every contemplative-looking person he sees a worthy victim, and
his kindling eye, as he bears down upon you, precludes escape: he
can achieve no peace unless he is driving you mad with all which
you fondly dreamed you had left behind in old S.'s accursed
lecture-room. You may commend to him in vain the reminder which
Erasmus left for the big-wigs, that it is the quality of what you
know which tells, and never its quantity. It is inconceivable to him
that you should shut your impious teeth against First Principles,
and fear greatly to displace in yourself the illiteracies you have
painfully acquired.

Judge, then, if the learner of this type (and in a bitterer degree,
the learneress) could but be safely cloistered, how much simpler
would become the whole problem of living! How profoundly would
it benefit both society and himself could the formationary mind,
destined, as like as not, to no ultimate development, be sequestered
by legal statute in one imperative limbo, along with babes, lovers,
and training athletes! _Quicquid ostendis mihi sic, incredulus odi._

For the true scholar's sign-manual is not the midnight lamp on a
folio. He knows; he is baked through; all superfluous effort and
energy are over for him. To converse consumedly upon the weather,
and compare notes as to "whether it is likely to hold up for
to-morrow,"--this, says Hazlitt, "is the end and privilege of a life
of study." Secretly, decently, pleasantly, has he acquired his mental
stock; insensibly he diffuses, not always knowledge, but sometimes
the more needful scorn of knowledge. Among folk who break their
worthy heads indoors over Mr. Browning and Madame Blavatsky, he moves
cheerful, incurious, and free, on glorious good terms with arts and
crafts for which he has no use, with extraneous languages which he
will never pursue, with vague Muses impossible to invite to dinner.
He is strictly non-educational:

     "Thou wast not born for death, immortal bird!
     No hungry generations tread thee down."

He loathes information and the givers and takers thereof. Like Mr.
Lang, he laments bitterly that Oxford is now a place where many
things are being learned and taught with great vigor. The main
business to him is to live gracefully, without mental passion, and to
get off alone into a corner for an affectionate view of creation. A
mystery serves his turn better than a history. It is to be remembered
that had the Rev. Laurence Sterne gone to gaze upon the spandrils
of Rouen Cathedral, we should all have lost the _fille de chambre_,
the dead ass, and Maria by the brookside. Any one of these is worth
more than hieroglyphics; but who is to attain that insight that these
are so, except the man of culture, who has the courage to forget at
times even his sole science, and fall back with delight upon a choice
assortment of ignorances?

The scholar's own research, from his cradle, clothes him in privacy;
nor will he ever invade the privacy of others. It is not with a light
heart that he contemplates the kindergarten system. He himself,
holding his tongue, and fleeing from Junius and Pope Joan, from cubic
roots and the boundaries of Hindostan, from the delicate difference
between the idiom of Maeterlinck and that of Ollendorff, must be an
evil sight to Chautauquans, albeit approved of the angels. He has
little to utter which will sound wise, the full-grown, finished soul!
If he had, he would of his own volition seek a cell in that asylum
for protoplasms, which we have made bold to recommend.

The truth is, very few can be trusted with an education. In the
old days, while this was a faith, boredom and nervous prostration
were not common, and social conditions were undeniably picturesque.
Then, as now, quiet was the zenith of power: the mellow mind was
unexcursive and shy. Then, as now, though young clerical Masters
of Arts went staggering abroad with heads lolling like Sisyphus'
stone, the ideal worth and weight grew "lightly as a flower." Sweetly
wrote the good Sprat of his famous friend Cowley: "His learning sat
exceedingly close and handsomely upon him: it was not embossed on
his mind, but enamelled." The best to be said of any knowing one
among us, is that he does not readily show what deeps are in him;
that he is unformidable, and reminds whomever he meets of a distant
or deceased uncle. Initiation into noble facts has not ruined him
for this world nor the other. It was a beautiful brag which James
Howell, on his first going beyond sea, March the first, in the year
sixteen hundred and eighteen, made to his father. He gives thanks
for "that most indulgent and costly Care you have been pleased, in
so extraordinary a manner, to have had of my Breeding, (tho' but one
child of Fifteen) by placing me in a choice Methodical School so far
distant from your dwelling, under a Learned (tho' Lashing) Master;
and by transplanting me thence to Oxford to be graduated; and so
holding me still up by the chin, until I could swim without Bladders.
This patrimony of liberal Education you have been pleased to endow
me withal, I now carry along with me abroad as a sure inseparable
Treasure; nor do I feel it any burden or incumbrance unto me at all!"

There, in the closing phrase, spoke the post-Elizabethan pluck.
Marry, any man does well since, who can describe the aggregated
agonies of his brain as _no incumbrance_, as less, indeed, than
a wife and posterity! To have come to this is to have earned the
freedom of cities, and to sink the schoolmaster as if he had never
been.

1889.



THE GREAT PLAYGROUND


IT has seemed to many thoughtful readers, within the last fifty or
sixty years, that Wordsworth's _Ode on the Intimations_ is altogether
mistaken in its assumption that the open-air world is dearer to the
child than to the man: or that the Heaven which so easily fuses with
it in our idea lies nearer to the former than to the latter. Some
abnormally perceptive child (like the infant W.W. himself) may have
a clear sense of "glory in the grass, of splendor in the flower."
But the appreciation of natural objects is infinitely stronger, let
us say, in the babe of thirty; and so is even the appreciation of
the diversions which they provide. Were it not for the prospects of
unforeseen and adventurous company abroad, the child prefers to play
in the shed. But the post-meridian child, who is not a "grown-up,"
but only a giant, desires "the house not made with hands": he has a
delicate madness in his blood, the moment he breathes wild air.

Scipio and Laelius cannot keep, to save them, from stone-skipping on
the strand, though they have come abroad for purposes of political
conversation. Poets and bookmen are famous escapers of this sort.
Surrey shooting his toy arrows at lighted windows; Shelley sailing
his leaves and bank-notes on the Hampstead ponds; Dr. Johnson, of
all persons, rolling down the fragrant Lincolnshire hills; Elizabeth
Inchbald ("a beauty and a virtue," as her epitaph at Kensington
prettily says) lifting knockers on April evenings and running away,
for the innocent deviltry of it;--these have discovered the fun and
the solace of out-of-doors at a stroke, and with a conscious rapture
impossible to their juniors. Master Robin Hood, Earl of Huntingdon,
probably kept to his perfectly exemplary brigandage because he
liked the "shaws shene," and objected to going home at nightfall.
No child ever tastes certain romantic joys which come of intimacies
with creation. That he may write a letter upon birchbark, that he
may eat a mushroom from the broken elm-trunk and drink the blood
of the maple, that he may woo a squirrel from the oak, a frog from
the marsh, or even a twelve-tined buck from his fastness, to be
caressed and fed, strikes him as an experiment, not as an honor. It
will not do to say that the worship of the natural world is an adult
passion: it is quite the contrary; but only certain adults exemplify
it. Coleridge, in the _Biographia Litteraria_, has a very beautiful
theory, and a profoundly true one. "To carry on the feelings of
childhood into the powers of manhood; to combine the child's sense of
wonder and novelty with the appearances which every day, for perhaps
forty years, have made familiar:

     "'With sun and moon and stars throughout the year,
     And man and woman,--'

this is the character and privilege of genius." The genuine
faun-heart is the child conscious and retrieved, the child by law
established in happy natures. I knew one boy of six who met an ugly
gypsy in a lane, and who, on being asked whether he would like to
go and live with her, replied in Americanese, with slow-breathed
transports: "Oh-ee, yup!" In his mind was an instant vision of a bed
suspended among leaves; and the clatter and glitter of the sacred
leaves had nearly stolen his soul away. But he was not a common boy.
His nurse being close behind, he was providentially saved, that time,
to be abducted later by much more prosaic influences. Nor has the
love of Nature, of late so laboriously instilled into the young,
thanks to Froebel's impetus, made much progress among its small
supposed votaries. The examination-papers, which, in a lustier age,
began with--"Who dragged Which around the walls of What?" now stoop
to other essentials:

     "The wood-spurge has a cup of three."

Yet unless misled by the tender cant of their elders, even the modern
Master and Missy would rather find and examine the gas-metre than the
wood-spurge.

In his best estate, the out-of-doorling hunts not, neither fishes: he
simply moves or sits, in eternal amalgamation with the eternal: an
enchanted toper of life and death, one with all that has ever been,
or shall ever be, convinced that "there is a piece of divinity in us
which is older than the elements, and owes no homage unto the sun."
He is generally silent, because his sincere speech cannot be what
we call sane. No one, however, who is truly content in the sought
presence of Nature, can be sure that it is she who gives him all, or
even most, of his comfort. It is only the poetic fashion to say so.
It is at least doubtful if Nature be not, in her last exquisiteness,
for the man already independent of her. There are those who may
accost her, not as a petitioner, but as one sovereign to another in
a congress of the Powers. Moral poise is the true passport to her
favor, not a fine eye for "the leopard-colored trees" in late autumn,
nor an ear for the bold diapasons of the surge. The man of vanities
and ambitions and agitated fears may as well go to the football game:
for the woods are cold to him. The lover, indeed, is notoriously
rural while his fit lasts; he has been known to float into a
mosquito-marsh, obliviously reading _Tristram of Lyonnesse_. But
so oblique a cult as his can count for nothing with the Mother. Her
favorite spite is to deepen melancholy, as her prayer and purpose are
to enhance joy. Not primary in her functions, she waits upon man's
anterior dispositions, and gives her delights, as Fortuna is said
to do, to the indifferent. But he shall not be indifferent after:
her praise drips, honey-bright, from his lip. If any question him,
remembering Vaughan's

     "O tell me whence that joy doth spring
     Whose diet is divine and fair,
     Which wears Heaven like a bridal ring?"

he may say that it is the possessing love of Nature which makes his
day so rich. She meanwhile, could put a gloss upon that plausible
text. The order and peace in him had first subjugated her terrible
heart.

No babe, indeed, is born other than wild: he springs up on the
farther border of civilization. Happy for him, if he can find his
way back, with waking choice, even once a year, in his maturity, to
recapture the perfect condition, and subject to it his own developed
faculties. How many have suffered the pure epic homesickness, the
longing for decivilization, which has drawn them "to discover islands
far away," or to roam without purpose at all, like Alastor and
the Scholar Gypsy! Observe, that in all tradition the courtesies
of the countryside are showered on the race of the deliberately
glad. Magdalen of Pazzi, alone in the cloister-garden, rapturously
catching up the roses to her face, and extolling Him who made them
fair, signifies much: not only that she was dowered with the keen
perception of beauty,--hardly that at all; but that she was at the
apex of moral sanity, which has as much right to be passionate with
beauty as the sun itself. It is inconceivable that barbarians should
admire the sunset: though it is not inconceivable that barbarians in
good society should say that they do so. For one of the earmarks of
our latter-day culture is this patronal relish of the works of the
Most High. Literature is over-ballasted with "descriptive passages,"
which the reader skips, but which no self-respecting author can
afford to do without. We talk incessantly of the hills and the
sea, and the flora and fauna thereof; and insolently take it for
granted that we alone have arrived at the proper inwardness of these
subjects. In naught have we more wronged the feudal ages than in
denying to them an intimate knowledge and love of scenic detail. One
glance at their cathedral capitals, at leaves, rose-haws, antlers,
cobwebs, and shells, in stone carven since the tenth century, should
have been corrective of that foolish depreciation of a people far
nearer to the heart of things than we. The common dislike of gypsies
is another revelation of jealousy: for we are not the Mother's
favored children. Us she consigns to starched linen, and roofs,
retorts of carbonic acid gas: would we sleep again on her naked
breast, we come home to endure gibes, and the sniffles.

Well may the "sylvan" (a dear Elizabethan word gone into the
dust-heap) feel that he is manumitted and exempt. He has no occasion
to grow up. He looks with affectionate strangeness on his life past,
as on his life to come, thinking it a solecism to anticipate decay
where hitherto no decay has been, or where indeed, if it have been,
he "has had the wit never to know it." The Heaven which lies around
us in our infancy is always there afterwards, waiting in vain, for
the most part, for reciprocations. Symbolisms, sacraments, abound
in the natural world, and to avail oneself of them is to regain
and retain fleeting good, and to defy the time-dragon's tooth with
a smile as of immortality. Devotion to a blackberry pasture and a
swimming-pool confers youth on the devotee, provided he has not to
pick fruit nor rescue ribald little boys for a living. A travelled
man, a man of the world, has a ripe expert look: one says of him,
admiring his talk and his manners, that he bears his age with grace.
But nothing is so ageless as a sailor: he can bear his age neither
well nor ill, for the obvious reason. In his hard cheek and blue
eye are innocence, readiness, zest, taciturnity, daring, shyness,
truth: all the fine wild qualities which "they that sit in parlors
never dream of." It is not a physiological fact alone, that for
health's sake you must be in league with the open. Whoever clings to
it for love, is known by his superior simplicity and balance. Many
a coast-guardsman, or scout in the Canadian forest, has achieved
the complete power which is mistakenly supposed to come, like an
imposition of hands, upon the educated; and he gets this inestimable
accolade, mark you, merely by smelling sea-kelp and sassafras, and
welcoming a rainstorm as a pleasant sort of fellow: by the exercise
of sheer natural piety, whose processes turn about and hit back by
keeping him young. Would you perpetrate an elfin joke on such a one,
present him with a calendar: the urban and domestic accuser. To
register time, and consult its phases scientifically, is to give it
a deplorable advantage over you. A brook scoffs at birthdays: and
many a violet errs in chronology, and sidles forth at Martinmas. It
is the shepherd-boy in the _Arcadia_ who "pipes as if he should never
grow old": marry, it is not anybody in a theatre orchestra! Which,
think you, died with her girlhood yet unconsumed within her, Madame
Récamier or the Nut-brown Maid? The victory is not with cosmetics.
To the soirées of the hermit thrush, tan is your only wear. The
"sylvan" is anti-chronological. He who comes close to the heart-beat
of progress and dissolution in the wilderness, the vicissitudes of
the vegetable world, must feel that, save in an allegory, these
things are not for him: they go under him as a swimmer's wave.
"Change upon change: yet one change cries out to another, like the
alternate seraphim, in praise and glory of their Maker." The human
atom gets into the mood of the according leaf, caring not how long
it has hung there, how soon it may fall. God's will, in short, is
nowhere so plain and acceptable as on a lonely stretch of moor or
water. Who can feel it so keenly in the town? The town has never
allowed man to guess his superiority to it: creature of his own
exaggerations, it cows him, and compels him to remember, in his
unrest, that he is no longer a spirit, no longer a child.

At Hampton Court, in the Great Hall, in the right lower corner of the
rich pagan borderings of one of the Old Testament tapestries (that of
the Circumcision of Isaac), there is a tiny delicate faded figure of
a lad, all in soft duns and dusty golds. He wears curious sandals;
a green chaplet is on his brows; a hare hangs over his shoulder;
he carries a stocked quiver, and a spear. His look is one of sweet
sensuous idleness and delight. He is centuries old, but to him the
same sun is shining in the aromatic alleys of the forest. He does
not know that there is a very fine Perpendicular roof over him, and
he has never noticed the kings and their courts who have been blown
away like smoke from before his path. The parent and the schoolmaster
who sought him have also fallen to dust. But for him the hunt and the
moist morning: for him the immortal pastoral life. We used to see him
often, and we saw him once again, after a long interval. His charm
was all that it had ever been: but at the encounter, he brought hot
tears of envy to the eyes. All those years, those years of ours and
the world's, wasted in prison on casuist industries, he had been at
large with the wind, he had been playing! How some of us have always
meant to do just that for ever, and that only! for why not do the
sole thing one can do perfectly? But an indoor demon, one Duty,
a measly Eden-debarring angel armed with platitudes, has somehow
clogged our career. Were it not for a cloud of responsibilities,
a downpour of Things to Do, one might be ever at the other side
of window-panes, and see Pan twelve hours a day. Ah, little Vita
Silvestris! Blamelessly may we feel that you have found the way, and
that we have missed it, growing gray at the silly desk, and sure
only of this: that presently we shall indeed find ourselves inside
sycamore planks, so that all the dryads in their boles, watching our
very best approximation to their coveted estate, shall smile to see.
But thereafter, at least, and for good, we are where we belong, "_sub
dio_, under the canopy of Heaven," and ready for the elemental game.

1895.



ON THE ETHICS OF DESCENT


IT will never do for a biographer to look too narrowly into his
hero's genealogy; for speculation is at all times fatal to an
accepted pedigree. Every man is presumably deduced from male and
female, from generation to generation; and from these only. There
is more of superstition than of science in this mode of reckoning:
it has no great philosophic bearing, and it is very illiberal. The
truth is, we belong, from the beginning, to many masters, and are
unspeakably beholden to the forming hands of the phenomena of the
universe, rather than to the ties of blood. What really makes one
live, gives him his charter of rights, and clinches for him the
significance without which he might as well be unborn, is, often
enough, no human agency at all. Where it happens to be human, it
is glorious and attested: "I owe more to Philip, my father, than to
Aristotle, my preceptor."

But it may be debated that the climbing spider was considerably
more to her appointed observer, Robert Bruce, than his own father;
inasmuch as she alone put heart into his body, and revivified him
into the doer whose deeds we know. A moral relation like that, at
the critical moment, establishes the ineffable bond; annuls, as it
were, every cause but the First, whereby the lesser causes arise;
and makes men over new. No mere soldiering Bruce, but the spider's
Bruce, the victor of Scotland; no mere Newton, but the dedicated
heir of the falling apple and her laws; no mere young rhetorician of
Carthage, but Austin the saint, perfected by the _Tolle, lege_, from
Heaven. Many a word, many an event, has so, in the fullest sense,
started a career, and set up a sort of paternity and authority over
the soul. We are all "under influence," both of the natural and the
supernatural kingdom. Far from being the domestic product we take
ourselves to be, we are strangely begotten of the unacknowledged,
the fortuitous, and the impossible; we lead lives of astonishing
adventure, consort with eternity, and owe the thing we are to
the most trivial things we touch. We are poor relations of every
conceivable circumstance, alike of our sister the Feudal System, and
of our sister the rainbow. We are interwoven, ages before our birth,
and again and again after, with what we are pleased to call our
accidents and our fates.

     "For so the whole round earth is every way
     Bound by gold chains about the feet of God."

There is real dutifulness in the recognition of all this by the
science of heraldry; for heraldry exists but to commemorate some
personal contact with marvels, and a generative occasion without
which the race would not be itself; as if to reprove the boy who
believes himself descended from Sir Magnifico, whose big shield hangs
in the hall, and from nothing else in particular. Sir Magnifico's
cat may, in reality, account for the continuity of the house; and
a spindle or a vesper-bell come to the front in the history of its
averted perils, and get handsomely quartered upon the baronial arms.
But heraldry avails very little; for she was always limited to the
minority, and being old, has ceased to watch to-day and design for
to-morrow, as she was wont. The best she can do is to suggest how it
depends upon trifles and interferences whether we get here at all,
or whether we cut a figure in the crowd; and how foolish it is in us
to scorn anything that happens. The road is long from Adam to his
present estimable and innumerable brood, and our past has been full
of rescuing events. What has preserved us, under Providence, in the
successive persons of our progenitors? Clearly, more items than are
easily numbered, or could be set down in symbols and devices on the
escutcheon: so that it is well to maintain an attitude of great and
general deference toward creation at large, for fear of not honoring
our father and our mother.

Stradella's kinsfolk yet in Italy may know, or may not know, the hymn
which once saved his life. They may pass over the hymn as a tiresome
affair, necessary on holy-days, or they may look upon it as a lucky
omen--how lucky!--for them. But what they ought to do is to pay it
excessive ancestral honors; and canon law, the wide world over, would
acquit them of the idolatry. Music, indeed, has been potent, first
and last, in the crises of men. It becomes a factor of enormous
importance in more than one history, if you search for it. Never
do some of us hear that plaintive old song of Locke's, _My Lodging
is on the Cold Ground_, without thinking of James Radcliffe, third
Earl of Derwentwater, who had apparently no connection with it, but
whom one finds himself regarding as its very harmony forwarded into
another age, like Arethusa stream returned from underground. Fresh
from the composer's meditations, it was sung on the stage by the
comely Moll Davies (said to be daughter to the Earl of Berkshire),
before the notorious Persian person who then graced the English
throne, and who was struck immediately with an excellence new as
Locke's, and hardly of a contrapuntal nature. Time conjured up, from
the bonnie comedian and the bad king, the innocent figure of a girl,
Mary, who duly married a great noble, and vanished into history as
the early-dying mother of the most stainless knight outside of a
romance. Derwentwater was grandson, indeed, to vagabonds; but was
he not great-grandson to the sweetest of the fine arts? His present
representative, Lord Petre, may not openly refer one branch of his
lineage to an origin which might seem more frankly fabulous than any
divine descent of the ancients. At any rate, here is music of the
seventeenth century, going its operative channel through imperfect
humanity, and upspringing in the wild days of the Jacobite '15, into
corporate beauty again: into a young life, dowered to the full with
the strange winning charm of the Stuarts, and with a halo about it
which they can scarcely boast. And therefore, reverting to "the
source and spring of things," one is free to cry: "Well done, Master
Matthew Locke, in F minor!" which is indeed reputed by tradition,
the right heroic key. But who, writing of the darling of the legends
of the North, will be bold enough to set _My Lodging is on the Cold
Ground_ in full song, on his genealogical tree? James the First and
Charles the First will be sure to show up there, and so will a
number of other Britons not especially germane to the matter. This
is how we forge pedigrees, in our blunt literal way, skipping over
the vital forces, and laboriously reckoning the mediums and the
tools of our own species. Any hard-headed encyclopedia will accredit
an advocate of Ajaccio and his wife Letitia with the introduction
into the nineteenth century of its most amazing man; but to William
Hazlitt, an expert among paradoxes, Bonaparte was "the child and
champion" of the Revolution.

1892.



SOME IMPRESSIONS FROM THE TUDOR EXHIBITION


THE New Gallery on Regent Street, filled, at this time last year,
with the memories of the Stuarts and with the graded grace of
Vandyke and Lely, has taken a step backward into history to show us
a hardier and less enchanting society. The luckless, weak, romantic
race are everlastingly dear, as Chopin cleverly said of his own
music, to "the _cognoscenti_ and the poets." But this present plunge
into the sixteenth century is excellent cold water. The Stuarts
are myths to these hard facts of Tudors, these strong-minded and
dominant familiars, who destroyed, annexed, altered, and were
deposed from nothing except from the Lord Pope's opinion of some of
them. Everything here is wide-awake, matter-of-course, bracing: the
spectator's mind tempers itself to the indicative present of Queen
Bess, and

               "to trampling horses' feet,
     More oft than to a chamber melody."

The men and women on the walls are neither sophisticated nor complex.
They are vehement in oath as in compliment, and hit at Fate straight
from the shoulder. The best among them has a certain fierce zest
of habit. Sidney and Sir Thomas More, each in his stainless soul,
would have put the other in the pillory for blunders of piety. And
such characters, with their stormy circumstance, their distinct
homogeneous look and mien, get to be fully understood. Nobody
pretends to know the involutions of James the Second; but bluff
Hal is no riddle. Wolsey and Drake, Archbishop Parker and Anne
Boleyn, even Shakespeare, are more comprehensible units than, say,
Dr. Donne, or the Duke of Monmouth. They stand in the red morning
light, tangible as trees. They are the bread-and-cheese realities who
have made English literature, English policy and manners, English
religion. The heartbreak for Essex; that other heartbreak for Calais;
Wyatt's succoring cat; Raleigh's cloak in the mud; Sidney's cup or
water;--

     "Battle nor song can from oblivion save,
     But Fame upon a white deed loves to build:
     From out that cup of water Sidney gave,
     Not one drop has been spilled!"

Christina of Milan's reply to her suitor, the asking and axeing
monarch: "Had I a second head in reserve, sire, I might dare to
become your wife;"--all these are nursery tales, the very fibre of
our earliest memory, as of our adult speculation. Old friends, these
painted folk! You look at them on canvases which Evelyn admired
at Weybridge; which Pepys longed to buy; to which Horace Walpole
provided a date and a name; which brushed Ben Jonson and Carew
passing towards the masques of Whitehall; which have seen change
and the shadow of change, and are themselves ever richer for the
remembered eyes which have looked up at them, during three hundred
years.

As you glance from the entrance of the New Gallery, this London
January of 1890, the first thing to take the eye is a loan from
Hampton Court, the full-length of the pioneer poet, Henry Howard,
Earl of Surrey: a young powerful figure all in red, poised on a
hill-top above a vexed white-and-blue sky. He steps forward there,
as if in dramatic confirmation of the little known of his proud,
obstinate, disinterested career, straight through love, scholarship,
adventure, to the Tower axe. One can hardly look at this stripling,
with his jewelled cap's white blown feather, and hands laid airily
but meaningly on hip and hilt, without remembering the most jocose
and off-hand of his verses, written in the spring:

     "When I felt the air so pleasant round about,
     Lord! to myself how glad I was that I had gotten out."

This is No. 73, the authorship of it hanging undetermined between
Holbein and Gwillim Stretes. No. 51, a famous and much-reproduced
portrait of Surrey under an archway, is certainly Stretes'; but
you covet this other for "Hans the Younger." Its vistas are not
uncharacteristic of him; and what a daring bugle-blast of color it
is! Masterfully does it light the room, and call you into the Tudor
company, and make you glad, likewise, that you have "gotten out." It
is great so to find a certain Howard, which is a possible Holbein,
the key-note of this exhibition. And the race crops out on the walls
every here and there, making trouble in your thoughts, as once in
thoughts long quieted. They are shown thus contemporaneously, from
"Jocky of Norfolk" to the Philip who died for conscience' sake in the
Beauchamp Tower; and wherever they are, there is a free wind, a rebel
sunshine. Roam about a little; and you return with gratification to
these lean, tense, greyhound personalities. The visitor wearies of
the _Fidei Defensor_, the much-connected-by-marriage, and of the
kinsmen and servants, the Brandons and Cromwells, who flatter him by
fat approximate resemblance, and of the same dimly-recurrent aspect
in the timid burgess noblewomen of the hour; so that his first and
last impressions are fain to spring from the spectacle of these
firm-chinned soldierly Howards, thin and bright as their own swords,
with the conscious look of gentlemen among cads. From the dazzle of
history it is a bit difficult, at first, to turn the inward eye upon
art alone. But it is Hans Holbein whom we have really come to see.
And he is here in his plenary pomp: in chalk drawings, miniatures in
hone-stone, burnt wood, and enamel, and in easel-pictures of every
sort.

No. 42, in the West Gallery, is an immense cartoon with outlines
pricked, made for a fresco in the old Whitehall, comprising a
life-sized group of the two Henries and their respective queens, the
estate of only one of whom, had, as the modern world knows, finality.
It dates from the twenty-seventh year of the reign of Henry the
Eighth. His admirable housekeeper of a father, long dead, is, as in
Lord Braye's comely picture (No. 33), a white-haired, mild, austerely
gracious presence, at physical variance, at every point, from his
burly heir. The latter stands _à califourchon_, well to the front,
his arms akimbo: a figure familiar to us as the alphabet, and with
the force and value of spoken truth. There are many authentic Holbein
portraits of the King in this collection, and their unanimity is
without parallel. In the masterpiece labelled No. 126, Waagen "finds
a brutal egotism, an obstinacy and a harshness of feeling such as I
have never yet seen in any human countenance. In the eyes, too, there
is the suspicious watchfulness of a wild beast; so that I became
quite uncomfortable from looking at it." Holbein's greedy instinct
for form wreaks itself on Henry's characteristic contours: everywhere
you recognize the puffy flesh, the full jaw and beady eyes, the
level close-shaven head; and, more than all, the round, protuberant,
malformed chin, like an onion set in the thin growth of carroty
beard. Other artists slur over that ugly little chin, but not the man
from Augsburg. Hardly do the elaborations of embroidered doublets and
jewelled surcoats with barrel sleeves, laughably misplaced on this
hogshead Majesty, give the great court-painter such easy pleasure in
the handling. Yet as Vandyke,

     "Gilding pale streams with heavenly alchemy,"

is prone to temper the commonplace to his chivalrous ideals; as
Sir Joshua "sees partially, slightly, tenderly, catches the flying
lights of things, the momentary glooms, paints also partially,
tenderly, never with half his strength,"--so here is one too much
bent on his accuracy and his reporter's conscience. Nobody who
has seen these thirty or more versions of the hero of matrimony
according to Holbein, will ever forget his power in clinching an
impression. High, low, east, west, straddles the royal Harry: a
magnificent piece of pork, arrayed like Solomon in all his glory.
There is no contradiction from first to last; the testimony is not
patched. No historiographer, in face of them, has any option to
think of Henry but as Holbein's brush thought of him. Mr. Froude is
hereby checkmated: his idol crumbles. The perfectly square florid
countenance, the little crowded features, the indomitable leer under
the flat hat and feather, the expanding velvets, the sturdy calves
of which their owner was vain, the whole air of an aggressive and
successful personality,--these are your statistics, "State papers,"
as Hazlitt once happily called them. They do not allege; they
convict. This, they seem to say, is he who celebrated his wedding on
his old love's burial-day, who sacrificed the truest liegemen in his
islands, and who made war on the architecture of monastic England in
a maintained fit of crazy and vulgar spite. The ornate No. 55 is also
a terrific "human document." Yet the special plea, for all that, is
not fair; it is only as fair as Holbein can make it. He had not the
centrifugal mind. To look before and after is not his wont. The royal
sitter is impeached unjustly.

     "Tell Isabel the Queen I looked not thus,
     When for her sake I ran at tilt in France."

Was this the mirror of chivalry in his youth? the handsome Henry
of joust and debate, who walked by choice with thinking men, in an
atmosphere of Christian statecraft and the fine arts? he who wrote
devotional essays, and composed winning music? If so, that Henry has
no survival here. Something of him must have lingered about the later
aspect of the tyrant King, as good is sure to do wherever its shrine
has been; but Holbein failed (for we cannot think he refused) to bear
it witness.

It is pleasant to find Holbein himself looking from No. 52: a noble
portrait, in distemper, from his own hand, in his prime. It makes
one revert, however, to the prior Holbein, also done by himself, now
in the Museum at Basle: a sweet sketch, which, judged by the face
alone, could instantly be relegated to the era where it belongs, that
of the dawn of humanism. There, the straight hair has yet a soft
ring or two over the brow; the mouth is sensitive, but ironic; the
young neck full of power; the eyebrows diversely arched, as if in a
passing press of thought; the whole mien already suggests, as Woltman
says, "seriousness and mental superiority." This picture before us is
very splendid, but it is not so reassuring. Holbein's body-color at
Berlin, of the chunk-headed, thick-bearded, small-eyed Englishman,--a
miracle of a drawing,--may be accepted as the crass original John
Bull. With all manner of exception in favor of the painter, Holbein
was rather that sort of a man. His work had the warrant of his
genius: what he saw was what his whole habit fitted him to see. Each
century has its own casts of physiognomy, greatly accentuated once
by the passive individuality, now, alas, vanished, of costume.
There seem to have been, in Holbein's day, but two physical values:
the grave, alert, "sunnily-ascetic" men, who were dissatisfied with
the time; and the able bold time-servers, who kept their flesh upon
them, and their peace. Henry himself, at his best, was the second
type, as Erasmus was the first. It is with a sigh of relief that one
turns from the imperious presence which chases you through the West
Gallery, and "lards the lean earth as he walks along," to confront,
in another room, the memorials of his little son.

Of these, there are some sixteen portraits, exclusive of the
drawings, and five of them are from Holbein's hand. The half-length
lent by the Earl of Yarborough, No. 174, shows a charming child with
a great hat tied under his chin; No. 182, Lord Petre's, is a spirited
bust on a misty green ground; in No. 190, a gem of the first water,
belonging to the Earl of Denbigh's collection, the Prince stands,
lovely as a lily, habited in white and cloth-of-gold, with a long
fur-lined crimson surcoat, his slender beautifully-modelled hand
closed on a dagger. The family beauty begins and ends with Edward,
in his grave at sixteen; there is no Edward, by Holbein, older than
six. As usual, the master draws you from his own art to the root
of the thing before you, even as he drew Ruskin from counting his
skeleton's clacking ribs in the Dance of Death: and forthwith you
begin speculating on the moral qualities of the royal bud, "the
boy-patron of boys." There is no denying that he looks like Another.
Yes, he is very Henry-the-Eighthy! when you study him at short range.
And he had a unique talent, you suddenly remember, for signing the
death-warrants of uncles. Princess Mary, from the same hand, is
decorously dressed; she has flat hair and brown eyes. Acid and dismal
as she is, you would say at once of her, that she is sincere,--_sine
cera_, without wax. She also resembles a parent: but it is Katharine
of Aragon. No. 94 (one mentally thanks Mr. Huth for a sight of it in
the original!) is the warmest thing in the room: the famous portrait
of Sir Thomas More. The nap of his claret velvet sleeves appears
never to have lost a particle of its lustre. One knows not which
to admire the most in this picture: the breadth of composition, the
precision and sweep of line, or the spiritual dignity and repose.
Its mate, the half-length of Sir John More, the father, Senior Judge
of the King's Bench, "_homo civilis, suavis, innocens_," is very
nearly as superb, though it has less body. Both were done by Holbein
during his happy stay at Chelsea. His presentation of More is always
inestimable: you recognize, by some little accent ever and anon,
that he painted him with enjoyment and understanding love. "Thy
painter, dearest Erasmus," wrote More, "is an amazing artist." It
was on a hint of the Earl of Arundel that Holbein went to England.
When asked there who had persuaded him to cross the Channel, he
could not remember the nobleman's name, though he remembered his
face: one turn of the pen, and the answer was apparent. But it was
Erasmus who gave him his letters of introduction, who was in reality
his patron; for Erasmus sent him to More, and from the Chancellor's
roof he passed to that of the King, at an honorarium of three hundred
pounds a year. And as he painted these friends, so he painted their
colleagues: with sympathy and authority. Our most intimate knowledge
of the finer spirits among the publicists of the sixteenth century
comes from Holbein's canvas. We cannot fail to observe "the weight
of thought and care in these studious heads of the Reformation."
Such a weight is in every Holbein of Colet and Warham and More, of
Melanchthon, Froben, Erasmus himself, (borne in him, as in More,
with an almost whimsical sweetness), and of "the thoroughly Erasmic
being," Bonifacius Amerbach. Looking at them, and mindful of their
diverse sagacities, one must corroborate the celebrated wish of
Goethe that the business of the Reformation, spoiled, as a work of
art, by Luther and Calvin, and as a theological issue, by the popular
interference, had been left to the trained leaders: to men like these
in one generation, and to men like Pole and Hugo Grotius in the next!

Wolsey and the great and quietly-handled Archbishop Warham hang
here together in strange posthumous amity, parted only by the
panel of Anne, Bluebeard's fourth Queen, which Holbein went to
Cleves to paint. A very undistinguished person No. 108 must have
been, quite worthy of her safe suburban pensioner's life, and the
humorous commuting title of the King's Sister. All her forerunners
and successors are here to the life, limned by Holbein's brush and
pencil. The dearth of female beauty, from 1509 to 1547, was truly
extraordinary, if we are to believe the believable pigments before
us. The women of the court have the fullest possible representation,
with the adjunct of exceptionally picturesque, though stiff, attire.
But among them all, it would be a hard task to bestow the apple upon
the belle, for a reason quite other than any known to Paris on Ida.
Even Anne Boleyn, full-lipped and gay, has but an upper-housemaid
prettiness. It is small compensation that most of them were learned.
The best female portrait, admirably hung, is No. 92: the young
Duchess of Milan, in Holbein's latest and largest manner. The demure
girl, set in novel blacks and whites of her widow's mourning, posed
with consummate simplicity, has always an admiring crowd in front
of her. Wornum's critical last word echoes: it is "a stupendous
picture." But the Duchess might be Lancelot Gobbo's sweetheart,
so far as the actual bearing and expression are concerned. No
wonder that the fright Gloriana passed for all that was comely and
thoroughbred! Could it be that her subjects had no loftier criterion
in the memory of their own mothers?

The fine flower of the picture department of the Tudor Exhibition is
the Queen's loan from Windsor Library: eighty-nine drawings on tinted
paper, ranged on the screens of the West and South Galleries. Queen
Caroline, in George the Second's time, found them in a Kensington
Palace cupboard, and had them framed. (We know nothing else so nice
of that bore of a martyr.) Behold Holbein's methods running free!
In decisive and rapid chalk lines, with a mere suggestion of color,
or a touch, here and there, of India ink, he gives us his English
contemporaries: some in playful perfection commended to posterity,
as a matter of a dozen conscientious touches. How he delights in a
hollow cheek, a short silken beard, an outstanding ear, or the hair
sprouting oddly on the temples! Despite his uncompromising truth of
locality, the result is often of astounding delicacy: notably in the
heads of Lords Clinton and Vaux, and that of Prince Edward. Most
of these Windsor sheets are studies for pictures; and thus we have
Holbein's splendid roll of familiar faces over again; but that of
Sir John Godsalve is complete, and in body-colors, of grand breadth
and tone. The catalogue names were affixed much later, and are not
perfectly trustworthy: but those indicated as Sir Harry Guilford, the
Russells, Earls of Bedford, the Howards, Lord Wentworth, Sir Thomas
Eliott, and John Poins (the latter overbrimming with individual
force), lead in interest and technique. No. 514, the scholarly and
lovable Eliott, is perhaps the thing one would choose, of all here,
to win Holbein the admiration of those who have yet to appreciate
him. Its refined finish and bold conception are in unique balance.
Sir Thomas Eliott, in half profile, is grave and plain. But whoever
likes to pay homage to intelligent human goodness, will delight in
this report of him. You feel that Rembrandt would have turned from
his cloudless, treeless table-land of a countenance; and that such as
Sir Peter Lely would have found him cryptic enough, and so smothered
him in ultramarine draperies. But among Holbein's men, after the Jörg
Gyze (1532) in the Museum at Berlin, the Hubert Morett in the Dresden
Gallery (1537), and the Young Man with a Falcon (1542) in the Gallery
of the Hague, after his immortal major achievements, in short, one
might rank this little unshaded frost-fine drawing of Sir Thomas
Eliott, a sitter placed forever on this side of death.

But the ladies, again, in their close bodices and triangular
head-dresses, generally come off second-best. Holbein's elemental
candor befitted them not. Failing to be themselves in full, they are
more or less Elisabeth-Schmiddy! tinctured with reminiscences of the
artist's muddy-tempered _Hausfrau_ at home in Basle. The one quality
they cannot convey is breeding, social distinction. Holbein's woman
may have youth, goodness, capacity, even authority; but

     "_Was_ the lady such a lady?"

You miss the aroma of manners. The mystery of sex is absent, too:
a thing the Florentines never missed, and which Gainsborough and
Romney found it impossible not to convey. When you see Holbein's men,
you wish you had known them; but his women merely remind you that
he was a very great painter. It is well to remember, nevertheless,
that he had no very great woman to paint: no such patroness,
for instance, as "Anne, Dorset, Pembroke, and Montgomery." His
organ-hand does what it can for souls frangible as lutes. Wherever
there is sincerity, kindness, or a brave soul, wherever there is
sagacity or thought in these Tudor faces, their delineator makes
it tell. Did the she-visionaries, if there were any rich enough to
engage Holbein, did the persons born in Hawthorne's "brown twilight
atmosphere," habitually avoid his studio? No kirtled aristocracy
of any age or country was ever so flat and dozy. Surrey occupied
himself in scorning "the new men" of his day; and it is conceivable
that new men abounded, to fill the places depopulated by the Wars of
the Roses, when all that was gallant and significant in the upper
ranks, seemed, in one way or another, to have gone under. But the
Wars of the Roses touched not the female succession in the ducal and
baronial houses: and the wonder remains that Honthorst and Vandyke
just after Holbein, and Jan de Mabuse just before him, could have
found, among English maids and wives, the lofty graces which he
never saw. Exceptions might be made, however, in favor of Elizabeth,
Lady Rich; for "high-erected thought" is bodily manifest in her, as
in the dark-eyed Lady Lister, and in Lady Surrey, a sweet patient
good woman who had known tears. Lady Butts is pleasingly modern. At
what four-to-six has one met her? All the ladies of the More family
are alluring acquaintances; and no one is to be envied who does not
declare for Lady Richmond, with her absurd cap and feather, the big
water-drop-shaped pearls in her ears, the downcast lids, and that
delicious, kissable, cheerful mouth!

Our famous old friend, the great sovereign who saw fit to box the
ears of offending gentlemen, and make war upon their wives, possesses
the North Gallery. Pale, beaked, sinister; amiably shrewd, like
Becky Sharp; now as a priggish infant with a huge watery head, anon
as a parrot-like old woman; here with dogs frisking about her, and
there with a grimace which would scatter a pack of dogs to the
four winds; always swathed in inexpressible finery, Elizabetha Dei
Gratia Regina arises on the awed spectator's eye. Her vanities were
fairly inherited from her straddling sire. Any authentic portrait
of her is a mass of fluff and sparkle, an elaborate cobweb several
feet square, in which, after much search and many barricades of
haberdashery surmounted, you shall light upon the spectral spider
who inhabits them. There is nothing much more entertaining in this
world than a study of the royal and virginal wardrobe. Those were
epic clothes! They defy analysis, from the geyser of lace circling
the neck and ears in a dozen cross-currents, to the acute angles of
the diamonded, rubied stomacher, and the stiff acre of petticoat.
They brought employment and money to artists, who painted in the
significant occupant as they could, and they serve to illustrate for
ever the science of dress-making, whose heraldic shield should bear
Eve couchant on one side, and Elizabeth rampant on the other. In the
balcony above is No. 484, an appalling picture of Her Majesty, in a
ruff like isinglass. When we recall that, grown old, she had all her
mirrors broken, and all paintings of herself which were not liars
destroyed, what must have been the terrors of that countenance for
which such a copy as this proved sufficiently flattering! Despite
Zucchero, Hilliard, and Pourbus, he is the wisest man alive who
knows how that illustrious lady really looked. And as you glance
about, be it on the first visit or the twentieth, full of optical and
consequent historical bewilderment; as you see how to right and left
of Queen Bess the hosts of that wonderful reign have gathered again,
you become keenly aware that one who died in the parish of S. Andrew
Undershaft, in 1543, "should have died hereafter." Hunger for that
bygone genius is in your thought there: O for an hour of _Hans Ho.
pinxit_!

1890.



ON THE DELIGHTS OF AN INCOGNITO


PERFECT happiness, which we pretend is so difficult to get at,
lies at either end of our sentient pole: in being intimately
recognized, or else in evading recognition altogether. An actor
finds it inspiring to step forth from the wings, steeled cap-à-pie
in self-consciousness, before a great houseful of enthusiastic faces
and hands; but if he ever knows a moment yet more ecstatic, it is
when he is alone in the hill-country, swimming in a clear pool,
and undemonstratable as human save by his habiliments hanging on a
bush, and his dog, sitting on the margin under, doubtfully eyeing
now these, now the unfamiliar large white fish which has shed them.
Thackeray once said that the purest satisfaction he ever took, was
in hearing one woman name him to another as the author of _Vanity
Fair_, while he was going through a ragged and unbookish London lane.
It is at least as likely that Aristides felt pleasure in accosting
his own ostracizer, and helping him to ruin the man whom he was tired
of hearing called The Just. And the young Charles the Second, between
his defeat at Worcester, and his extraordinary escape over sea, was
able to report, with exquisite relish, the conduct of that honest
Hambletonian, who "dranke a goode glass of beare to me, and called me
Brother Roundhead." To be indeed the King, and to masquerade as Will
Jones, _alias_ Jackson, "in a green cloth jump coat and breeches worn
to shreds," in Pepys' sympathetic detail, with "little rolls of paper
between his toes," and "a long thorn stick crooked three or four
several ways" in his artificially-browned hand, has its dangers; but
it is the top, nevertheless, of mundane romance and felicity.

In fact, there is no enjoyment comparable to walking about "unwept,
unhonored, and unsung," once you have become, through your misfortune
rather than your fault, ever so little of a public personage. Lucky
was the good Haroun Al Raschid, inasmuch as, being duly himself by
day, he could stroll abroad, and be immeasurably and magnificently
himself by night. Nothing but duty dragged him back from his post of
spectator and speculator at the street-corner, to the narrow concrete
humdrum of a throne. But there are, and have always been, in every
age, men of genius who cling to the big cloak and the dark lantern,
and who travel pseudonymously from the cradle to the grave; who keep
apart, meddle not at all, have only distant and general dealings with
their kind, and, in an innocent and endearing system of thieving,
come to understand and explain everything social, without being once
understood or explained themselves, or once breaking an inviolable
privacy.

     "Not even the tenderest heart and next our own,
     Knows half the reason why we smile or sigh."

The arrangement is excellent: it induces and maintains dignity. Most
of us who suffer keenly from the intolerable burden of self, are
grateful to have our fits of sanity by the hour or the week, when we
may eat lotos and fern-seed, and die out of the ken of _The Evening
Bugaboo_. To be clear of mortal contact, to resolve into grass and
brooks, to be a royal nobody, with the dim imbecile spectrum taken
to be you, by your acquaintanceship, temporarily hooted out of
existence, is the privilege which the damned on a Saratoga piazza are
not even blest enough to groan for. "Oh," cried Hazlitt, heartily
inhaling liberty at the door of a country inn, after a march, "Oh,
it is great to shake off the trammels of the world and public
opinion, to lose our importunate, tormenting, everlasting personal
identity in the elements of Nature, and to become the creature of the
moment clear of all ties; to hold to the universe only by a dish of
sweetbreads, and to owe nothing but the score of the evening; and, no
longer seeking for applause or meeting with contempt, to be known by
no other title than The Gentleman in the Parlour." Surely, surely,
to be Anonymous is better than to be Alexander, and to have no care
is a more sumptuous wealth than to have sacked ten cities. Sweetly
has Cowley said it, in his little essay on _Obscurity_: "_Bene qui
latuit, bene vixit_: he lives well, that has lain well hidden; in
which, if it be a truth, I'll swear the world has been sufficiently
deceived. For my part, I think it is; and that the pleasantest
condition of life is in incognito.... It is, in my mind, a very
delightful pastime for two good and agreeable friends to travel up
and down together, in places where they are by nobody known, nor know
anybody. It was the case of Æneas and his Achates, when they walked
invisibly about the fields and streets of Carthage. Venus herself

     "'A veil of thickened air around them cast,
     That none might know or see them as they passed.'"

The atmosphere was so liberally allowed, in the Middle Ages, to be
thick with spirits, that the subject arose in the debates of the
schools whether more than a thousand and fifty-seven of them could
execute a saraband on the point of a needle. We are not informed by
what prior necessity they desired to dance; but something, after all,
must be left to the imagination. Dancing, in their case, must be, as
with lambs and children, the spontaneous witness of light hearts;
and what is half so likely to make a shade whimsically frolicsome, as
the sense of his own absolute intangibility in our world of wiseacres
and mind-readers and myopic Masters of Arts? To watch, to listen, to
know the heretofore and the hereafter, and to be at the same time
dumb as a nail, and skilful at dodging a collision with flesh and
blood, must be, when you come to think of it, a delightful vocation
for ghosts. It is, then, in some sort, anticipatory of part of our
business in the twenty-sixth century of the Christian era, to becloud
now our name and nativity, and,

     "Beholding, unbeheld of all,"

to move musingly among strange scenes, with the charity and
cheerfulness of those delivered from death. I am told that L.R.
had once an odd spiritual adventure, agreeable and memorable, which
demonstrated how much pleasure there is to be had out of these moods
of detachment and non-individuality. He had spent the day at a
library desk, and had grown hazy with no food and much reading. As
he walked homeward in the evening, he felt, for sheer buoyancy of
mind, like that thin Greek who had to fill his pockets with lead, for
fear of being blown away by the wind. It happened that he was obliged
to pass, on the way to his solitary lodging of the night, the house
where he was eternally the expected guest: the house of one with whom
and with whose family he was on a most open and affectionate footing.
Their window-shades were drawn, not so low but that he could see
the shining dinner-table dressed in its pomp, and the little ring
of merry faces closing it in. There was S., the bonniest of wives,
smiling, in her pansy-colored gown, with a pearl comb in her hair:
and opposite her was little S., in white, busy with the partridge;
and there was A.H., the jolly artist cousin; and, facing the window
at the head of his own conclave, (_quos inter Augustus recumbens
purpureo bibit ore nectar!_), sat dear O., with his fine serious
genial head bobbing over the poised carving-knife, as he demolished,
perhaps, some quoted sophism of Schopenhauer. There were welcome and
warmth inside there for R.: how well he knew it! But the silent day
just over had laid a spell upon his will; he looked upon them all,
in their bright lamplight, like any vagrant stranger from the street,
and hurried on, never quite so paradoxically happy in his life as
when he quitted that familiar pane without rapping, and went back to
the dark and the frost, unapprehended, impersonal, aberrant, a spirit
among men.

1893.



THE PUPPY: A PORTRAIT


HE is the sixty-sixth in direct descent, and his coat is like amber
damask, and his blue eyes are the most winning that you ever saw.
They seem to proclaim him as much too good for the vulgar world, and
worthy of such zeal and devotion as you, only you, could give to his
helpless infancy. And, with a blessing upon the Abbot of Clairvaux,
who is popularly supposed to have invented his species, you carry
him home from the Bench show, and in the morning, when you are told
that he has eaten a yard and a quarter of the new stair-carpet, you
look into those dreamy eyes again: no reproach shall reach him,
you swear, because you stand forevermore between. And he grows
great in girth, and in character the very chronicle and log-book
of his noble ancestry; he may be erratic, but he puts charm and
distinction into everything he does. Your devotedness to his welfare
keeps him healthful and honest, and absurdly partial to the squeak
of your boots, or the imperceptible aroma which, as it would seem,
you dispense, a mile away. The thing which pleases you most is his
ingenuous childishness. It is a fresh little soul in the rogue's body:

     "Him Nature giveth for defence
     His formidable innocence."

You see him touch pitch every day, associating with the
sewer-building Italians, with their strange oaths; with affected
and cynical "sales-ladies" in shops (she of the grape-stall being
clearly his too-seldom-relenting goddess); and with the bony
Thomas-cat down street, who is an acknowledged anarchist, and whose
infrequent suppers have made him sour-complexioned towards society,
and "thereby disallowed him," as dear Walton would say, "to be a
competent judge." But Pup loses nothing of his sweet congenital
absent-mindedness; your bringing-up sits firmly upon him and keeps
him young. He expands into a giant, and such as meet him on a lonely
road have religion until he has passed. Seven, nine, ten months go
over his white-hooded head; and behold, he is nigh a year old, and
still Uranian. He begins to accumulate facts, for his observation
of late has not been unscientific; but he cannot generalize, and on
every first occasion he puts his foot in it. A music-box transfixes
him; the English language, proceeding from a parrot in a cage, shakes
his reason for days. A rocking-horse on a piazza draws from him the
only bad word he knows. He sees no obligation to respect persons
with mumps, or with very red beards, or with tools and dinner-pails;
in the last instance, he acts advisedly against honest labor, as he
perceives that most overalls have kicks in them. Following Plato,
he would reserve his haughty demeanor for slaves and servants.
Moreover, before the undemonstrated he comes hourly to a pause. If
a wheelbarrow, unknown hitherto among vehicles, approach him from
his suburban hill, he is aware of the supernatural; but he will not
flinch, as he was wont to do once; rather will he stand four-square,
with eyebrows and crinkled ears vocal with wonder and horror. Then
the man back of the moving bulk speaks over his truck to you, in
the clear April evening: "Begorra, 'tis his furrust barry!" and you
love the man for his accurate affectionate sense of the situation.
When Pup is too open-mouthed and curious, when he dilates, in fact,
with the wrong emotion, it reflects upon you, and reveals the flaws
in your educational system. He blurts out dire things before fine
ladies. If he hear one of them declaiming, with Delsarte gestures,
in a drawing-room, he appears in the doorway, undergoing symptoms
of acutest distress, and singing her down, professedly for her own
sake; and afterward he pities her so, and is so chivalrously drawn
toward her in her apparent aberration, that he lies for hours on the
flounce of her gown, eyeing you, and calumniating you somewhat by his
vicarious groans and sighs. But ever after, Pup admits the recitation
of tragic selections as one human folly more.

He is so big and so unsophisticated, that you daily feel the
incongruity, and wish, in a vague sort of way, that there was
a street boarding-school in your town, where he could rough it
away from an adoring family, and learn to be responsible and
self-opinionated, like other dogs. He has a maternal uncle, on the
estate across the field: a double-chinned tawny ogre, good-natured as
a baby, and utterly rash and improvident, whose society you cannot
covet for your tender charge. One fine day, Pup is low with the
distemper, and evidence is forthcoming that he has visited, under his
uncle's guidance, the much-deceased lobster thrown into hotel tubs.
After weeks of anxious nursing, rubbings in oil, and steamings with
vinegar, during which time he coughs and wheezes in a heartbreaking
imitation of advanced consumption, he is left alone a moment on his
warm rug, with the thermometer in his special apartment steady at
seventy-eight degrees, and plunges out into the winter blast. Hours
later, he returns; and the vision of his vagabond uncle, slinking
around the house, announces to you in what companionship he has been.
Plastered to the skull in mud and icicles, wet to the bone, jaded,
guilty, and doomed now, of course, to die, Pup retires behind the
kitchen table. The next morning he is well. The moral, to him at
least, is that our uncle is an astute and unappreciated person, and
a genuine man of the world.

Yet our uncle, with all his laxity, has an honorable heart, and
practises the _maxima reverentia puero_. It is not from him that Pup
shall learn his little share of iniquity. Meanwhile, illumination
is nearing him in the shape of a little old white bull-terrier
of uncertain parentage, with one ear, and a scar on his neck,
and depravity in the very lift of his stumped tail. This active
imp, recently come to live in the neighborhood, fills you with
forebodings. You know that Pup must grow up sometime, must take his
chances, must fight and be fooled, must err and repent, must exhaust
the dangerous knowledge of the great university for which his age
at last befits him. The ordeal will harm neither him nor you: and
yet you cannot help an anxious look at him, full four feet tall from
crown to toe, and with a leg like an obelisk, preserving unseasonably
his ambiguous early air of exaggerated goodness. One day he follows
you from the station, and meets the small Mephisto on the homeward
path. They dig a bone together, and converse behind trees; and when
you call Pup, he snorts his initial defiance, and dances away in
the tempter's wake. Finally, your whistle compels him, and he comes
soberly forward. By this time the ringleader terrier is departing,
with a diabolical wink. You remember that, a moment before, he stood
on a mound, whispering in your innocent's beautiful dangling ear, and
you glance sharply at Pup. Yes, it has happened! He will never seem
quite the same again, with

     ----"the contagion of the world's slow stain"

beginning in his candid eyes. He is a dog now. He knows.

1893.



ON DYING CONSIDERED AS A DRAMATIC SITUATION


A MAN of thought wears himself out, standing continually on the
defensive. The more original a character, the more it is at war
with common conditions, the more it wastes its substance scourging
the tides and charging windmills; and this being recognized, the
exceptional person, your poet or hero, is expected to show an ascetic
pallor, to eat and sleep little, to have a horrible temper, and to
die at thirty-seven. Has he an active brain, he must pay for it by
losing all the splendid passivity, inner and outer, which belongs to
oxen and philosophers. Nor, on the other hand, will stupidity and
submission promote longevity: for this is a bullying world. A wight
with no mind to end himself by fretting and overdoing, is charitably
ended by the action of his superiors, social or military. How many
privates had out of Balaklava but a poor posthumous satisfaction!
The Saxon soldier does not shed his skin in times of peace: he is
the same in garrisons and barracks as amid the roar of guns; and his
ruling passion is still to stand in herds and be killed. A few years
ago, an infantry company, in the south of England, were marching into
the fields for rifle-practice. Filing through a narrow lane, they saw
two runaway horses, half-detached from their carriage, round the bend
and rush towards them. The officer in charge either did not perceive
them so soon as the others, or else he was slow to collect his wits,
and give the order to disperse into the hedgerows for safety. As the
order, for whichever cause, was not uttered, not a single recruit
moved a muscle; but the ranks strode on, with as solid and serene
a front as if on dress-parade, straight under those wild hoofs and
wheels: and afterwards, what was left of eleven men was cheerfully
packed off, not to the cemetery, by great luck, but to the hospital.
And in Germany, only the other day, the sergeant who superintends
the daily gymnastic exercises of a certain camp, marched a small
detachment of men, seven or eight in number, into the lake to swim.
In went the men, up to their necks and over their heads, and made an
immediate and unanimous disappearance. The sergeant, impatient to
have them finish their bath, returned presently, and was shocked to
discover that they were all drowned! Now, it happened that the seven
or eight could not swim a stroke between them, but they thought it
unnecessary to make any remark to that effect. Is it not evident that
these fine dumb fellows can beat the world at a fight? Yet their
immense practical value has no artistic significance. They strike
the unintelligent attitude. It is no part of a private's business
to exert his choice, his volition; and without these, he loses
pertinence. Therefore, to wear the eternal "piece of purple" in a
ballad, you must be at least a corporal.

The mildest and sanest of us has a sneaking admiration for a soldier:
lo, it is because his station implies a disregard of what we call
the essential. The only elegant, gratifying exit of such a one is in
artillery-smoke. A boy reads of Winkelried and d'Assas with a thrill
of satisfaction. Hesitation, often most meritorious, is unforgivable
in those who have espoused a duty and a risk. Courage is the most
ordinary of our virtues: it ought to win no great plaudits; but for
one who withholds it, and "dares not put it to the touch," we have
tremendous vituperations. In short, that man makes but a poor show
thenceforward among his fellows, who having had an eligible chance
to set up as a haloed ghost, evades it, and forgets the serviceable
maxim of Marcus Aurelius, that "part of the business of life is to
lose it handsomely." Of like mind was Musonius Rufus, the teacher of
Epictetus: "Take the first chance of dying nobly, lest, soon after,
dying indeed come to thee, but noble dying nevermore." Once in a
while, such counsels stir a fellow-mortal beyond reason, and persuade
him "for a small flash of honor to cast away himself." And if so, it
proves that at last the right perception and application of what we
are has dawned upon him.

Though we get into this world by no request of our own, we have
a great will to stay in it: our main desire, despite a thousand
buffets of the wind, is to hang on to the branch. The very
suicide-elect, away from spectators, oftenest splashes back to the
wharf. Death is the one visitor from whom we scurry like so many
children, and terrors thrice his size we face with impunity at every
turn. The real hurt and end-all may be in the shape of a fall, a
fire, a gossamer-slight misunderstanding. Or "the catastrophe is a
nuptial," as Don Adriano says in the comedy. But we can breast out
all such venial calamities, so that we are safe from that which
heals them. We have, too, an unconscious compassion for the men of
antiquity. Few, if it came to the point, would change day for day,
and be Alexander, on the magnificent consideration that, although
Alexander was an incomparable lion, Alexander is dead. Herrick's
ingenuous verse floats into memory:

           "I joy to see
     Myself alive: this age best pleaseth me."

Superfluous adorners of the nineteenth century, we have no enthusiasm
to be what our doom makes us, mere gradators, little mounting
buttresses of a coral-reef, atoms atop of several layers, and
presently buried under several more. We would strut, live insects for
ever, working and waltzing over our progenitors' bones. Seventy-five
flushing years are no boon to us, if at that tender period's end,
we must be pushed aside from the wheel of the universe, and swept
up like so much dust and chaff. Nor does it help us, when it comes
to the inevitable deposal, to recall that while there were as yet
no operas, menus, nor puns, one Methusalem and his folk had nine
lazy centuries of it, and that their polar day, which was our proper
heritage, vanished with them, and beggared the almanac. Appreciation
of life is a modern art: it seems vexing enough that just in inverse
proportion to the growing capacity of ladies and gentlemen, is the
ever-diminishing room allotted wherein to exhibit it to "the scoffing
stars." Time has stolen from us our decades sacred to truancy and the
circus, to adventure and loafing. Where is the age apiece in which to
explode shams, to do vast deeds, to generalize, to learn a hawk from
a hernshaw, to be good--O to be good! an hour before bedtime? Evening
for us should be a dogma _in abstracto_; seas and suns should
change; horizons should stretch incalculably, cities bulge over their
boundaries, deserts thicken with carriages, polite society increase
and abound in caves and balloons, and in starlit tavern doorways
on Matterhorn top: and still, crowded and jostled by less favored
humanity, elbowing it through extinct and unborn multitudes, we would
live, live! and there should be no turf broken save by the plough,
and no urns except for roses.

It demonstrates what an amusing great babe a man is, that his love
of life is usually equivalent to love of duration of life. To be
ninety, we take to mean that one has had ninety years' worth out
of the venture: a calculation born of the hoodwinking calendar,
and of a piece with Dogberry's deductions. But this estimable
existence of ours is measured by depths and not by lengths; it is
not uncommon for those who have compassed its greatest reach to be
translated young, and wept over by perspicuous orators. And the smug
person who expires "full of years," and empty, forsooth, of all
things else, whose life is indeed covered, in several senses, by a
life-insurance, is thought to be the enviable and successful citizen.
It is quite as well that the gods have allowed us no vote concerning
our own fates: it would be too hard a riddle to guess whether it
is a dignified thing to continue, or when it is a profitable hour
to cease. A greedy soul, desiring to live, reaps his wish, like
Endymion, between moonrise and dawn, and gapes, yet unaware, for a
bank-account and octogenarianism. Why wouldst thou grow up, sirrah?
"To be a philosopher? a madman. An alchemist? a beggar. A poet?
_esurit_: an hungry jack." Mere possibility of further sensation
is a curious object of worship and desire. It has no meaning, save
in relation to its starry betters in whose courts it is a slave,
for whose good it may become a victim. A lover protesting to his
lady that she is dearer than his life, is paying her, did he but
consider it, a tricksy trivial compliment: as if he had said that she
was more precious than a prejudice, adorable beyond a speculation.
On the negative side only, in the subjective application, life is
dear. Certainly, one can conceive of no more monstrous wrong to a
breathing man than to announce his demise. Swift's mortuary joke on
Partridge is the supreme joke. A report that you are extinct damages
your reputation beyond repair. We may picture a vision of wrath
bursting into the editor's office: "I am told that yesterday you had
my name, sir, in your column of Deaths. I demand contradiction." Unto
whom the editor: "_The Evening Bugaboo_ never contradicts itself. But
I will, with pleasure, put you in, to-night, under the heading of
Births." Some considerations are to the complainant a fiery phooka:
strive as he will to adjust them, he gets thrown, and bruises his
bones.

Life is legal tender, and individual character stamps its value. We
are from a thousand mints, and all genuine; despite our infinitely
diverse appraisements, we "make change" for one another. So many
ideals planted are worth the great gold of Socrates; so many impious
laws broken are worth John Brown. We may give ourselves in ha'pence
fees for horses, social vogue, tobacco, books, a journey; or be
lavished at once for some good outranking them all. And of the two
dangers of hoarding and spending, the former seems a thousand times
more imminent and appalling. Our moralists, who have done away with
duels, and taught us the high science of solidarity, have deflected
us from our collateral relative, the knight-errant, who seemed to
go about seeking that which might devour him. But there are times
when a prince is called suddenly to his coronation, and must throw
largesses as he rides; when the commonest workaday life hears a
summons, and wins the inalienable right to spill itself on the
highway, among the crowd. We make a miserable noisy farcical entry,
one by one, on the terrene stage; it is a last dramatic decency that
we shall learn to bow ourselves out with gallantry, be it even among
the drugs and pillows of a too frequent lot. But the enviable end is
the other: some situations have inherent dignity, and exist already
in the play. Death in battle is (for the commissioned officer) a
gracefully effective mode of extinction; so is any execution for
principle's sake. The men who fill the historic imagination are the
men who strove and failed, and put into port at Traitors' Gate.
The political scaffold, in fact, is an artistic creation. When a
scholar looks up, the first eyes he meets are the eyes of those who
stand there, in cheerful acquiescence, "alive, alert, immortal."
"An axe," says Bishop Jeremy Taylor, "is a much less affliction
than a strangury." While the headsman awaited on every original
inspiration, under "hateful Henry" as under Nero, life certainly had
a romance and gusto unknown to modern spirits. The rich possibilities
of any career got, at some time, congested tragically into this.
How readily any one might see that, and welcome the folly and
ignominy which drove him to an illustrious early grave! Raleigh, at
the last, kissed the yet bloodless blade "which ends this strange
eventful history," saying: "'Tis a sharp medicine, but a cure for
all diseases." Disguised and hunted, Campion of S. John's, following
his duty, steals along the Harrow Road, by Tyburn tree, and passing
it, in a sort of awful love-longing, and as if greeting the promised
and foreordained, smilingly raises his hat. Not by grace only are
men "so in love with death," but by habit, by humor, and through
economic effort. Logic as well as faith understands the evangel:
"Whoso loseth his life shall find it." The hero can await, without
a flutter, the disarming of his hand and hope; for he can never be
stolen upon unawares. His prayer has always been for

     "Life that dares send
     A challenge to its end,
     And when it comes, say, 'Welcome, friend!'"

He must cease _en gentilhomme_, as he has heretofore continued. To
have Azrael catch him by the leg, like a scampering spider, is not
agreeable to his ideas of etiquette. At any age, after any fashion,
it is only the hero who dies; the rest of us are killed off. He
resembles Cartright's "virtuous young gentlewoman":

     "Others are dragged away, or must be driven;
     She only saw her time, and stepped to Heaven."

We act out to its close our parable of the great babe, who has
clutched his little treasure long and guardedly, unwilling to share
it, and from whom, for discipline's sake, it must needs be taken. But
the martyr-mind, in conscious disposal, is like the young Perseus,
bargaining with Pallas Athene for a brief existence and glory. The
soul meets its final opportunity, as at a masked ball; if it cannot
stand and salute, to what end were its fair faculties given? Or, we
are all pedestrians in a city, hurrying towards our own firesides,
eager, preoccupied, mundane. Perhaps at the turn of a steep street,
there is the beauty of sunset, "brightsome Apollo in his richest
pomp," the galleons of cloud-land in full sail, every scarlet pennon
flying. One or two pause, as if from a sharp call or reminder, and
beholding such a revelation, forget the walk and the goal, and are
rapt into infinitude. _Immortalitas adest!_ Now, most of us crawl
home to decease respectably of "a surfeit of lampreys." We keep the
names, however, of those who seem to make their exit to the sound
of spiritual trumpets, and who fling our to-morrow's innocent gauds
away, to clothe themselves with inexhaustible felicity.

1887.



A BITTER COMPLAINT OF THE UNGENTLE READER


AN editor, a person of authority and supposed discretion, requested
a friend of mine, the other day, to write an essay with this weird
title: "How to Read a Book of Poems so as to Get the Most Good out
of It." My friend, "more than usual calm," politely excused himself,
suffering the while from suppressed oratory. He felt that the
diabolic suggestion, made in all

     "Conscience and tendre herte,"

amounted to a horrible implied doubt concerning the lucidity of
himself and other minor bards, publishing to-day and to-morrow. They
have become difficult to read, only because a too educational world
of readers is determined to find them so. Now, eating is to eat,
with variations in haste, order, quantity, quality, and nocturnal
visions: with results, in short; but eating is to eat. Even thus, as
it would appear to a plain mind, reading is to read. Can it be that
any two or two thousand can wish to be preached at, in order that
they may masticate a page correctly, in squads? that they may never
forget, like Mr. Gladstone's progeny, to apportion thirty-two bites
to every stanza, with the blessing before, and the grace after? No
full-grown citizen is under compulsion to read; if he do so at all,
let him do it individually, by instinct and favor, for wantonness,
for private adventure's sake: and incidental profit be hanged,
drawn and quartered! To enter a library honorably, is not to go
clam-digging after useful information, nor even after emotions. The
income to be secured from any book stands in exact disproportion to
the purpose, as it were, of forcing the testator's hand: a moral very
finely pointed in _The Taming of the Shrew_, and again in _Aurora
Leigh_. To read well is to make an impalpable snatch at whatever item
takes your eye, and run. The schoolmaster has a contradictory theory.
He would have us in a chronic agony of inquisitiveness, and with
minds gluttonously receptive, not of the little we need (which it is
the ideal end and aim of a university education, according to Newman,
to perceive and to assimilate) but of the much not meant for us.
Wherefore to the schoolmaster there may be chanted softly in chorus:
_Ah, mon père, ce que vous dites là est du dernier bourgeois_. The
Muse is dying nowadays of over-interpretation. Too many shepherd
swains are trying to Get the Most Good out of her. When Caius
Scriblerius prints his lyric about the light of Amatoria's eyes,
which disperses his melancholy moods, the average public, at least in
Boston, cares nothing for it, until somebody in lack of employment
discovers that as Saint Patrick's snakes were heathen rites, and as
Beatrice Portinari was a system of philosophy, so Amatoria's eyes
personify the sun-myth. And Caius shoots into his eleventh edition.

Mr. Browning, perhaps, will continue to bear this sort of enlargement
and interfusion; indeed, nothing proves his calibre quite so happily
as the fact that his capacious phantasmal figure, swollen with the
gas of much comment and expounding, has a fair and manly look, and
can still carry off, as we say, its deplorable circumference. But
at the present hour, there is nothing strange in imagining less
opaque subjects being hauled in for their share of dissection before
Browning societies. Picture, for instance, a conclave sitting from
four to six over the sensations of Mrs. Boffkin,

     "Waiting for the Sleary babies to develop Sleary's fits."

(For Mr. Kipling must be a stumbling-block unto some, as unto many
a scandal.) Is there no fun left in Israel? Have we to endure, for
our sins, that a super-civilization insists on being vaccinated by
the poor little poets, who have brought, alas, no instrument but
their lyre? Can we no longer sing, without the constraint of doling
out separately to the hearer, what rhetoric is in us, what theory
of vowel color, what origin and sequences, what occult because
non-existent symbolism? without setting up for oracles of dark
import, and posing romantically as "greater than we know"? To what a
pass has the ascendant New England readeress brought the harmless
babes of Apollo! She seeks to master all that is, and to raise a
complacent creation out of its lowland wisdom to her mountainous
folly's level; she touches nothing that she does not adorn--with a
problem; she approves of music and pictures whose reasonableness is
believed to be not apparent to the common herd; she sheds scholastic
blight upon "dear Matt Prior's easy jingle," and unriddles for you
the theological applications of

     "Says gorging Jack to guzzling Jimmy:
     'I am extremely hungaree.'"

She is forever waking the wrong passenger: forever falling upon
the merely beautiful, and exacting of it what it was never born to
yield. The arts have a racial shyness: the upshot of this scrutiny
of their innocent faces is that they will be fain to get into a hole
and hide away for good. We lay it all to the ladies; for the old lazy
unprovincialized world of men was never so astute and excruciating.
There were no convenings for the purpose of illuminating the text
of Dr. John Donne, although the provocation was unique. Poets were
let alone, once upon a time; and all they did for their own pleasure
and sowed broadcast for the pleasure of others, failed not, somehow,
to fulfil itself from the beginning unto the end. What is meant for
literature now, begotten in simpleness and bred in delight, arises as
a quarrel between producer and consumer,

     "And thereof come in the end despondency and madness."

The man's attitude, even yet, towards a book of poetry which is
tough to him, is to drop it, even as the gods would have him do; the
woman's is to smother it in a sauce of spurious explanation, and gulp
it down.

In a sophisticating age, it is the nature of poets to remain young.
Their buyers are always one remove nearer to the sick end of the
century, and being themselves tainted with a sense of the importance
of the scientific, are in so much disqualified to judge of the
miracle, the phenomenon, which poetry is. To whomever has an idle
and a fresh heart, there is great encouragement in the poetic
outlook. The one harassing dread is that modern readers may scorch
that hopeful field. They refuse to take us for what we are: they
are of one blood with the mediæval Nominalists, who regarded not
the existence of the thing, but the name by which they denoted it.
They make our small gift futile, and their own palates a torment.
We solemnly pronounce our wares, such as they be, handsomer in the
swallowing than in the chewing: alas, so far, it is our fate to be
chewed. Who can help applying to an adult magazine constituency which
yearns to be told How to Read a Book of Poems, the "so help me God"
of dear Sir Thomas More? "So help me God, and none otherwise but as I
verily think, that many a man buyeth Hell with so much pain, he might
have Heaven with less than the one-half."

  1894.



ANIMUM NON COELUM


HORACE was not often wrong, in his habitual beautiful utterance of
commonplace; but was he not altogether wrong when he gave us the
maxim that the traveller may change the sky over him, but not the
mind within him? that the mood, the personal condition, is not to be
driven forth by any new sea or land, but must cling to a man in his
flight, like the pollen under a bee's wing? Sick souls started out
from the Rome of Augustus, with intent to court adventure and drown
care, even as they do now from Memphremagog and Kalamazoo, U.S.A.
These Horace noted, and discouraged with one of his best fatalisms.
Human trouble, nevertheless, has for its sign-manual a packed valise
and a steamer-ticket. Broken hearts pay most of the bills at European
hotels. For they know, better than the wounded in body, that the
one august inevitable relief, the wizard pill against stagnation,
is, was, shall ever be, "strange countries for to see." In the long
run, self cannot withstand the overwhelming spectacle of other faces,
and the vista of other days than ours. Unrest, however caused, must
melt away insensibly in the glow of old art, and before the thought,
widening the breast, in cities or on the Alpine slopes, of what
has been. The tourist, be he of right mettle, falls in love with
the world, and with the Will which sustains it. As much solace or
exhilaration as comes into the eye and ear, so much evil, in the form
of sadness, rebellion, ignorance, passes out from us, as breathed
breath into the purer air. Boast as we may, we are not, immigrating,
what we were, emigrating. We come away bewitched from the great
playhouse of our forefathers; no thorn in the flesh seems so poignant
now as it was, in that remembrance. Time, master-workman that he is,
annuls and softens grief, and allows joy to sink in and spread. What
we alter, surely, is not the same dumb blue ether overhead, but the
little carnal roof and heaven domed between that and us. Travel,
to the cheerful, is cheerful business; to the overcast nature it
is something better. Upon the smoky and clouded ceiling of his own
consciousness, darkened once despite him, but perhaps kept wilfully
dark since, "for very wantonness," travel lays her cunning finger.
Sudden frescos begin, unawares, to gleam and flush there, in gold
and olive and rose, as if Fra Angelico had been set loose with his
palette in a sequestered cloister. Your Horace, be it known, was a
home-keeper, and, as Stevenson claimed that dogs avoid doing, "talks
big of what does not concern him."

There is but one thing which can honorably draw the heart out of an
American in Europe. He has wrought for himself the white ideal of
government; he belongs to a growing, not a decaying society; there
is much without, upon which he looks with wonder and even with pity;
for he is, as the monkish chroniclers would say, _filius hujus
sæculi_, a child of to-day and to-morrow. In "that state of life to
which it has pleased God to call" him, he should be the proclaimed
brother of mankind, and the outrider of civilization; he has an
heroic post and outlook, and these bring their responsibilities: why
should he, how can he, forego them for the accidental pleasure to be
had in alien capitals? But one thing he sees far away which he can
never live to call his, in the west; he cannot transfer hither the
yesterday of his own race, the dark charm of London, the glamour of
Paris, the majesty and melancholy of Rome. If he has a nature which
looks deep and walks slowly, he shall not pass the image of any old
kingdom unbeguiled; either to his living senses, or to his distant
and hopeless meditations, that world beyond wide waters will seem to
him the fairest of created things, like the unbought lamp worth all
that Aladdin ever cherished in his narrow youth. For yesterday is
ours also, to have and to hold, though it be an oak which grows not
within our own garden walls, and is to be reached only by a going
forth, and a wrenching of the heart-strings. And that which makes
the worthy pilgrim into an exile and a cosmopolite is no vanity, no
ambition, no mere restless energy: it is truly the love of man which
calleth over seas, and from towers a great way off. His shrine is
some common and unregarded place, a mediæval stair, it may be, worn
hollow as a gourd by the long procession of mortality. That concave
stone touches him, and makes his blood tingle: it has magic in it, of
itself, without a record; for it speaks of the transit of human worth
and human vices, both of which Dante makes his Ulysses long for, and
seek to understand. It is our sunken footfall, ages ere we were born,
while we were on forgotten errands, nursing irrecoverable thoughts.
To have marked it, with perhaps the largest emotion of our lives, is
to walk Broadway or a Texan tow-path humbler and better ever after.

Who is to be blamed if he do indeed go "abroad," or stay abroad, so
strangely finding there, rather than here, the soul's peace? for the
soul has rights which may cancel even the duties of the ballot. Of
what avail is Americanism, unless it earn for a man the freedom of
rival cities, wrap him in a good dream, taking rancor from him, and
put him in harmony with all master events gone by? The young Republic
has children who come into the field of historic Christendom, to
bathe themselves in the dignity and roominess of life, and to walk
gladly among the evergreen traditions, which surge like tall June
grass about their knees. What they never had, natural piety teaches
them to desire and to worship, and their happy Parthian faces are
bright with the setting sun. There are hundreds such, and blessed are
they; for they move meanwhile under an innocent spell, and ignobler
visions cannot touch them. It is their vocation to make a thronged
spiritual solitude of their own. Under the self-same night of stars,
they are changed: they have found other minds, more reverent, more
chastened, more sensitized. Because they are converts, they cannot
always be judged fairly. You shall meet them in summertime at Bruges
and Nuremberg, and in the transept of Westminster Abbey, elbowed by
pilgrims of another clay, but ever rapt and mute: "whether in the
body, or out of the body, I know not; God knoweth."

  1894.



THE PRECEPT OF PEACE


A CERTAIN sort of voluntary abstraction is the oddest and choicest
of social attitudes. In France, where all æsthetic discoveries are
made, it was crowned long ago: _la sainte indifférence_ is, or may
be, a cult, and _le saint indifférent_ an articled practitioner. For
the Gallic mind, brought up at the knee of a consistent paradox,
has found that not to appear concerned about a desired good is the
only method to possess it; full happiness is given, in other words,
to the very man who will never sue for it. This is a secret neat as
that of the Sphinx: to "go softly" among events, yet domineer them.
Without fear: not because we are brave, but because we are exempt; we
bear so charmed a life that not even Baldur's mistletoe can touch us
to harm us. Without solicitude: for the essential thing is trained,
falcon-like, to light from above upon our wrists, and it has
become with us an automatic motion to open the hand, and drop what
appertains to us no longer. Be it renown or a new hat, the shorter
stick of celery, or

     "The friends to whom we had no natural right,
     The homes that were not destined to be ours,"

it is all one: let it fall away! since only so, by depletions,
can we buy serenity and a blithe mien. It is diverting to study,
at the feet of Antisthenes and of Socrates his master, how many
indispensables man can live without; or how many he can gather
together, make over into luxuries, and so abrogate them. Thoreau
somewhere expresses himself as full of divine pity for the "mover,"
who on May-Day clouds city streets with his melancholy household
caravans: fatal impedimenta for an immortal. No: furniture is clearly
a superstition. "I have little, I want nothing; all my treasure is
in Minerva's tower." Not that the novice may not accumulate. Rather,
let him collect beetles and Venetian interrogation-marks; if so be
that he may distinguish what is truly extrinsic to him, and bestow
these toys, eventually, on the children of Satan who clamor at the
monastery gate. Of all his store, unconsciously increased, he can
always part with sixteen-seventeenths, by way of concession to his
individuality, and think the subtraction so much concealing marble
chipped from the heroic figure of himself. He would be a donor from
the beginning; before he can be seen to own, he will disencumber, and
divide. Strange and fearful is his discovery, amid the bric-à-brac
of the world, that this knowledge, or this material benefit, is for
him alone. He would fain beg off from the acquisition, and shake the
touch of the tangible from his imperious wings. It is not enough to
cease to strive for personal favor; your true _indifférent_ is Early
Franciscan: caring not to have, he fears to hold. Things useful need
never become to him things desirable. Towards all commonly-accounted
sinecures, he bears the coldest front in Nature, like a magician
walking a maze, and scornful of its flower-bordered detentions. "I
enjoy life," says Seneca, "because I am ready to leave it." _Ja
wohl!_ and they who act with jealous respect for their morrow of
civilized comfort, reap only indigestion, and crow's-foot traceries
for their deluded eye-corners.

Now nothing is farther from _le saint indifférent_ than cheap
indifferentism, so-called: the sickness of sophomores. His business
is to hide, not to display, his lack of interest in fripperies.
It is not he who looks languid, and twiddles his thumbs for sick
misplacedness, like Achilles among girls. On the contrary, he is a
smiling industrious elf, monstrous attentive to the canons of polite
society. In relation to others, he shows what passes for animation
and enthusiasm; for at all times his character is founded on control
of these qualities, not on the absence of them. It flatters his
sense of superiority that he may thus pull wool about the ears of
joint and several. He has so strong a will that it can be crossed
and counter-crossed, as by himself, so by a dozen outsiders, without
a break in his apparent phlegm. He has gone through volition, and
come out at the other side of it; everything with him is a specific
act: he has no habits. _Le saint indifférent_ is a dramatic wight:
he loves to refuse your proffered six per cent, when, by a little
haggling, he may obtain three-and-a-half. For so he gets away with
his own mental processes virgin: it is inconceivable to you that,
being sane, he should so comport himself. Amiable, perhaps, only
by painful propulsions and sore vigilance, let him appear the mere
inheritor of easy good-nature. Unselfish out of sheer pride, and ever
eager to claim the slippery side of the pavement, or the end cut of
the roast (on the secret ground, be it understood, that he is not as
Capuan men, who wince at trifles), let him have his ironic reward
in passing for one whose physical connoisseurship is yet in the
raw. That sympathy which his rule forbids his devoting to the usual
objects, he expends, with some bravado, upon their opposites; for he
would fain seem a decent partisan of some sort, not what he is, a
bivalve intelligence, _Tros Tyriusque_. He is known here and there,
for instance, as valorous in talk; yet he is by nature a solitary,
and, for the most part, somewhat less communicative than

     "The wind that sings to himself as he makes stride,
     Lonely and terrible, on the Andëan height."

Imagining nothing idler than words in the face of grave events, he
condoles and congratulates with the genteelest air in the world.
In short, while there is anything expected of him, while there
are spectators to be fooled, the stratagems of the fellow prove
inexhaustible. It is only when he is quite alone that he drops his
jaw, and stretches his legs; then, heigho! arises like a smoke, and
envelops him becomingly, the beautiful native well-bred torpidity of
the gods, of poetic boredom, of "the Oxford manner."

     "How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable!"

sighed Hamlet of this mortal outlook. As it came from him in the
beginning, that plaint, in its sincerity, can come only from the man
of culture, who feels about him vast mental spaces and depths, and to
whom the face of creation is but comparative and symbolic. Nor will
he breathe it in the common ear, where it may woo misapprehensions,
and breed ignorant rebellion. The unlettered must ever love or hate
what is nearest him, and, for lack of perspective, think his own
fist the size of the sun. The social prizes, which, with mellowed
observers, rank as twelfth or thirteenth in order of desirability,
such as wealth and a foothold in affairs, seem to him first and sole;
and to them he clings like a barnacle. But to our _indifférent_,
nothing is so vulgar as close suction. He will never tighten his
fingers on loaned opportunity; he is a gentleman, the hero of the
habitually relaxed grasp. A light unprejudiced hold on his profits
strikes him as decent and comely, though his true artistic pleasure
is still in "fallings from us, vanishings." It costs him little to
loose and to forego, to unlace his tentacles, and from the many
who push hard behind, to retire, as it were, on a never-guessed-at
competency, "richer than untempted kings." He would not be a
life-prisoner, in ever so charming a bower. While the tranquil Sabine
Farm is his delight, well he knows that on the dark trail ahead of
him, even Sabine Farms are not sequacious. Thus he learns betimes to
play the guest under his own cedars, and, with disciplinary intent,
goes often from them; and, hearing his heart-strings snap the third
night he is away, rejoices that he is again a freedman. Where his
foot is planted (though it root not anywhere), he calls that spot
home. No Unitarian in locality, it follows that he is the best of
travellers, tangential merely, and pleased with each new vista of the
human Past. He sometimes wishes his understanding less, that he might
itch deliciously with a prejudice. With cosmic congruities, great and
general forces, he keeps, all along, a tacit understanding, such as
one has with beloved relatives at a distance; and his finger, airily
inserted in his outer pocket, is really upon the pulse of eternity.
His vocation, however, is to bury himself in the minor and immediate
task; and from his intent manner, he gets confounded, promptly and
permanently, with the victims of commercial ambition.

The true use of the much-praised Lucius Cary, Viscount Falkland,
has hardly been apprehended: he is simply the patron saint of
_indifférents_. From first to last, almost alone in that discordant
time, he seems to have heard far-off resolving harmonies, and to
have been rapt away with foreknowledge. Battle, to which all knights
were bred, was penitential to him. It was but a childish means: and
to what end? He meanwhile,--and no man carried his will in better
abeyance to the scheme of the universe,--wanted no diligence in
camp or council. Cares sat handsomely on him who cared not at all,
who won small comfort from the cause which his conscience finally
espoused. He labored to be a doer, to stand well with observers;
and none save his intimate friends read his agitation and profound
weariness. "I am so much taken notice of," he writes, "for an
impatient desire for peace, that it is necessary I should likewise
make it appear how it is not out of fear for the utmost hazard of
war." And so, driven from the ardor he had to the simulation of
the ardor he lacked, loyally daring, a sacrifice to one of two
transient opinions, and inly impartial as a star, Lord Falkland
fell: the young never-to-be-forgotten martyr of Newbury field. The
imminent deed he made a work of art; and the station of the moment
the only post of honor. Life and death may be all one to such a
man: but he will at least take the noblest pains to discriminate
between Tweedledum and Tweedledee, if he has to write a book about
the variations of their antennæ. And like the Carolian exemplar
is the disciple. The _indifférent_ is a good thinker, or a good
fighter. He is no "immartial minion," as dear old Chapman suffers
Hector to call Tydides. Nevertheless, his sign-manual is content
with humble and stagnant conditions. Talk of scaling the Himalayas
of life affects him, very palpably, as "tall talk." He deals not
with things, but with the impressions and analogies of things. The
material counts for nothing with him: he has moulted it away. Not so
sure of the identity of the higher course of action as he is of his
consecrating dispositions, he feels that he may make heaven again,
out of sundries, as he goes. Shall not a beggarly duty, discharged
with perfect temper, land him in "the out-courts of Glory," quite as
successfully as a grand Sunday-school excursion to front the cruel
Paynim foe? He thinks so. Experts have thought so before him. Francis
Drake, with the national alarum instant in his ears, desired first to
win at bowls, on the Devon sward, "and afterwards to settle with the
Don." No one will claim a buccaneering hero for an _indifférent_,
however. The Jesuit novices were ball-playing almost at that very
time, three hundred years ago, when some too speculative companion,
figuring the end of the world in a few moments (with just leisure
enough, between, to be shriven in chapel, according to his own
thrifty mind), asked Louis of Gonzaga what he, on his part, should
do in the precious interval. "I should go on with the game," said
the most innocent and most ascetic youth among them. But to cite
the behavior of any of the saints is to step over the playful line
allotted. Indifference of the mundane brand is not to be confounded
with their detachment, which is emancipation wrought in the soul,
and the ineffable efflorescence of the Christian spirit. Like most
supernatural virtues, it has a laic shadow; the counsel to abstain,
and to be unsolicitous, is one not only of perfection, but also
of polity. A very little non-adhesion to common affairs, a little
reserve of unconcern, and the gay spirit of sacrifice, provide the
moral immunity which is the only real estate. The _indifférent_
believes in storms: since tales of shipwreck encompass him. But once
among his own kind, he wonders that folk should be circumvented by
merely extraneous powers! His favorite catch, woven in among escaped
dangers, rises through the roughest weather, and daunts it:

     "Now strike your sailes, ye jolly mariners,
     For we be come into a quiet rode."

No slave to any vicissitude, his imagination is, on the contrary,
the cheerful obstinate tyrant of all that is. He lives, as Keats
once said of himself, "in a thousand worlds," withdrawing at will
from one to another, often curtailing his circumference to enlarge
his liberty. His universe is a universe of balls, like those which
the cunning Oriental carvers make out of ivory; each entire surface
perforated with the same delicate pattern, each moving prettily
and inextricably within the other, and all but the outer one
impossible to handle. In some such innermost asylum the right sort of
devil-may-care sits smiling, while we rage or weep.

  1894.



ON A PLEASING ENCOUNTER WITH A PICKPOCKET


I WAS in town the other evening, walking by myself, at my usual rapid
pace, and ruminating, in all likelihood, on the military affairs
of the Scythians, when, at a lonely street corner not adorned by
a gas-lamp, I suddenly felt a delicate stir in my upper pocket.
There is a sort of mechanical intelligence in a well-drilled and
well-treated body, which can act, in an emergency, without orders
from headquarters. My mind, certainly, was a thousand years away, and
is at best drowsy and indifferent. It had besides, no experience,
nor even hearsay, which would have directed it what to do at this
thrilling little crisis. Before it was aware what had happened, and
in the beat of a swallow's wing, my fingers had brushed the flying
thief, my eyes saw him, and my legs (retired race-horses, but still
great at a spurt) flew madly after him. I protest that from the
first, though I knew he had under his wicked thumb the hard-earned
wealth of a notoriously poor poet (let the double-faced phrase,
which I did not mean to write, stand there, under my hand, to all
posterity), yet I never felt one yearning towards it, nor conceived
the hope of revenge. No: I was fired by the exquisite dramatic
situation; I felt my blood up, like a charger

                 "that sees
     The battle over distances."

I was in for the chase in the keen winter air, with the moon just
rising over the city roofs, as rapturously as if I were a very young
dog again. My able bandit, clearly viewed the instant of his assault,
was a tiger-lily of the genus "tough": short, pallid, sullen, with
coat-collar up and hat-brim down, and a general air of mute and
violent executive ability. My business in devoting this chapter to
reminiscences of my only enemy, is to relate frankly what were my
contemporaneous sensations. As I wheeled about, neatly losing the
chance of confronting him, and favored with a hasty survey, in the
dark, of his strategic mouth and chin, the one sentiment in me, if
translated into English, would have uttered itself in this wise:
"After years of dulness and decorum, O soul, here is some one come to
play with thee; here is Fun, sent of the immortal gods!"

This divine emissary, it was evident, had studied his ground, and
awaited no activity on the part of the preoccupied victim, in a
hostile and unfamiliar neighborhood. He suffered a shock when,
remembering my ancient prowess in the fields of E----, I took up
a gallop within an inch of his nimble heels. Silently, as he ran,
he lifted his right arm. We were soon in the blackness of an empty
lot across the road, among coal-sheds and broken tins, with the
far lights of the thoroughfare full in our faces. Quick as kobolds
summoned up from earth, air, and nowhere, four fellows, about twenty
years old, swarmed at my side, as like the first in every detail
as foresight and art could make them; and these darting, dodging,
criss-crossing, quadrilling, and incessantly interchanging as they
advanced, covering the expert one's flight, and multiplying his
identity, shot separately down a labyrinth of narrow alleys, leaving
me confused and checkmated, after a brief and unequal game, but
overcome, nay, transported with admiration and unholy sympathy! It
was the prettiest trick imaginable.

It was near Christmas; and, brought to bay, and still alone, I
conjured up a vision of a roaring cellar-fire, and the snow whistling
at the bulkhead, as the elect press in, with great slapping of hands
and stamping of shoes, to a superfine night-long and month-long
bowl of grog, MY grog, dealt out by Master Villon, with an ironic
toast to the generous founder. I might have followed the trail, as I
was neither breathless nor afraid, but it struck me that the sweet
symmetry of the thing ought not to be spoiled; that I was serving
a new use and approximating a new experience; that it would be a
stroke of genius, in short, almost equal to the king pickpocket's
own, to make love to the inevitable. Whereupon, bolstered against
an aged fence, I laughed the laugh of Dr. Johnson, "heard, in the
silence of the night, from Fleet Ditch to Temple Bar." I thought
of the good greenbacks won by my siren singing in the _Hodgepodge
Monthly_; I thought of my family, who would harbor in their memories
the inexplicable date when the munificent church-mouse waxed stingy.
I thought even of the commandment broken and of the social pact
defied, gave my collapsed pocket a friendly dig, and laughed again.
The police arrived, with queries, and ineffective note-books. I went
home, a shorn lamb, conscious of my exalted financial standing; for
had I not been robbed? All the way I walked with Marcus Aurelius
Antoninus, who came to mind promptly as my corporeal blessings
departed. He intoned no requiem for the lost, but poured a known
philosophy, in which I had now taken my degree, into my liberal ear:--

"Why shouldst thou vex thyself, that never willingly vexed anybody?"

"A man has but two concerns in life: to be honorable in what he does,
and resigned under what happens to him."

"If any one misconduct himself towards thee, what is that to thee?
The deed is his; and therefore let him look to it."

"Welcome everything that happens as necessary and familiar."

Marry, a glow of honest self-satisfaction is cheaply traded for a
wad of current specie, and an inkling into the ways of a bold and
thirsty world. Methinks I have "arrived"; I have attained a courteous
composure proof against mortal hurricanes. Life is no longer a rude
and trivial comedy with the Beautifully Bulldozed, who feels able to
warm to his own catastrophe, and even to cry, "Pray, madam, don't
mention it," to an apologizing lady in a gig, who drives over him and
kills him, and does so, moreover, in the most bungling manner in the
world.

  1892.



REMINISCENCES OF A FINE GENTLEMAN


MY friend was of illustrious ancestry. While so many trace their
life-stream to pirates or usurpers who shed their brothers' blood to
possess their brothers' power, it is a distinction worth recording,
that this Fine Gentleman was descended from a princely person in
Switzerland who saved some sixty lives, and whose ancient portrait
is loaded, like a French marshal's, with the ribbons and medals of
recognition. Though of foreign origin, he did an American thing at
my introduction to him: he shook hands. I dropped the white pebble
of the Cretans to mark the day he arrived. It is needless to say
I loved and understood him,--blond, aggressive, wilful, from the
first. He had then, despite his extreme youth, the air of a fighting
aristocrat, a taking swashbuckler attitude, as he stood at the open
door: the look of one who has character, and a defined part to play,
and whose career can never reach a common nor ignoble end. Comely
in the full sense he was not; but impressive he was, despite the
precocious leanness and alertness which come of too rapid growth.

He had every opportunity, during his babyhood and later, of
gratifying his abnormal love of travel; he managed to see more of
city life than was good for him, thanks to many impish subterfuges.
His golden curiosity covered everything mundane, and he continued
his private studies in topography until he was kidnapped, and
restored by the police: an abject, shamefaced little tourist, heavy
with conscience, irresponsive to any welcomes, who sidled into
his abandoned residence, and forswore from that day his unholy
peregrinations. But he had a roaming housemate, and grew to be
supremely happy, journeying under guidance.

His temper, at the beginning, was none of the best, and took hard to
the idea of moral governance; he overcame obstacles after the fashion
of a catapult. His sense of humor was always grim: he had a smile,
wide and significant, like a kobold's; but a mere snicker, or a wink,
was foreign to his nature. With certain people he was sheer clown;
yet he discriminated, and never wore his habitual air of swaggering
consequence before any save those he was pleased to consider his
inferiors. The sagacious and protective instincts were strong in him.
For children he had the most marked indulgence and affection, an
inexhaustible gentleness, as if he found the only statecraft he could
respect among them. For their delight he made himself into a horse,
and rode many a screaming elf astride of his back for a half-mile
through the meadow, before coming to the heart of the business, which
was to sit or kneel suddenly, and cast poor Mazeppa yards away in
the wet grass: a proceeding hailed with shouts of acclaim from the
accompanying crowd of playfellows. And again, in winter, he became an
otter, and placing himself upon his worthy back at the summit of a
hill, rolled repeatedly to the bottom, drenched in snow, and buried
under a coasting avalanche of boys.

He never found time, in so short a life, to love many. Outside his
own household and his charming cat, he was very loyal to one lady
whose conversation was pleasingly ironical, and to one gentleman
whose character was said to resemble his own. Several others were
acceptable, but for these two visitors he had the voice and gesture
of joyful greeting. He had so arrant an individuality that folk
loved or hated him. One could not look with indifference on that
assertive splendid bearing, or on the mighty muscles as of a Norse
ship. A civil address from you made him your liegeman. But the
merest disregard or slight, no less than open hostility, sealed him
your foe. And there were no stages of vacillation. A grudge stood
a grudge, and a fondness a fondness. He was a famous retaliator;
none ever knew him to ride first into the lists. Battle he loved,
but he had a gentlemanly dislike of "scenes": when a crisis came,
he preferred to box or wrestle; and what he preferred he could do,
for no opponent ever left a scar upon him. A rival less in size, or
impudent solely, he took by the nape of the neck and tossed over
the nearest fence, resuming his walk with composure. Training and
education helped him to the pacific solving of many problems. His
good dispositions, all but established, were once badly shaken by a
country sojourn; for he had been taught there a bit of cabalistic
boys' Latin whose slightest whisper would send him tiptoeing to every
window in the house, scanning the horizon for a likely enemy, with a
rapture worthy of another cause.

He was rich in enemies, most of them of the gentler sex. Upon a civic
holiday, three villageous women were seen to bear down upon him, as
he was calmly inspecting the outposts of their property, laden with
weapons (_timor arma ministrat!_) no less classic than a pail, a
broom, and an axe. Not Swift's self could have added to the look of
withering comment with which he turned and confronted his assailants:
a single glance which dispersed the troops, and held in itself the
eloquence of an Aristophaneian comedy. Eternal warfare lay between
him and the man who had peevishly flapped that haughty nose with a
glove, before his first birthday-anniversary, and revenge boiled in
his eye, long after, at sight of a citizen who had once addressed
to him a word unheard in good society. A loud tone, a practical
joke, a teasing reminder of a bygone fault, disconcerted him wholly.
Sensitive and conservative of mood, my Fine Gentleman could never
forget a rudeness, nor account satisfactorily for such a thing as a
condescension. All his culture and his thinking had not taught him
to allow for the divers conditions and dispositions of mankind. To
the last he looked for courtesy, for intelligence, and, alas, for
fashionable clothes, in his ideal. For the Fine Gentleman was a
snob. Hunger and nakedness, even honest labor, had for him no occult
charm. Throughout his youth, he courted patrician acquaintances, and
on the very highway ached to make worse rags yet of the floating
rags of a beggar's coat; but the experience of friendship with a
kindly butcher-lad made inroads upon his exclusiveness; and I know
that, had he outlived his years, there would have been one more
convert democrat. His own personal appearance was of the nicest; by
scrupulous superintendence of his laundry, chiefly by night, he kept
himself immaculate and imposing. His colors were those of the fallen
leaves and the snow; the November auburn falling away on either side
from the magnificent brow and eyes, and from the neck in its triple
white fold: a head to remind you of Raleigh in his ruff.

He must have been patriotic, for he revelled in the horns, gunpowder,
rockets, and smoke of the Fourth of July. Archery and rifle-practice
seemed to strike him as uncommonly pleasant devices to kill time.
In all games which had noise and motion, he took the same strong
vicarious interest. He had heard much music, and learned something of
it; he was once known to hum over an august recitative of the late
Herr Wagner. Singular to relate, he had an insuperable objection to
books, and protested often against the continued use of the pen by
one he would fain esteem. Yet he seemed greatly to relish the recital
of a tribute of personal verse from a United States Senator, and the
still more elaborate lines of a delightful professional satirist.

His health, aside from his great size, his spirit and nervous vigor,
was never steady nor sound. Every chapter of the Fine Gentleman's
biography is crammed with events, perils, excitements, catastrophes,
and blunders, due in great part, by a scientific verdict, to this
tremendous vitality balancing on too narrow a base. With years, there
began to come the "philosophic mind." His sweetness and submission
grew with his strength; never was there a sinner so tender of
conscience, so affected by remonstrance, so fruitful, after, in
the good works of amended ways. New virtues seemed to shoot on all
sides, and the old ones abided and flourished. He had never tried
to deceive, nor to shirk, nor to rebel, nor to take what was not
his, nor to appear other than he was. In the country town where he
had many a frolic, and where he lies buried, he found congenial
circumstances. There were no gardens there, no timid neighbors; he
had opportunity, being allowed to inspect everything that stirred
in air, or upon the earth, or in the waters under, for the pursuit
of natural history, which was his passion; he ate what he pleased,
he lorded it as he liked, he shifted his responsibilities, he won
endless flattery from the inhabitants. His frank acknowledgment of
all this was unique. On his return, while his escort was still in the
room, the Fine Gentleman was asked whether he would rather remain
now at home, or spend a week longer in the fascinating precincts
of Cambrook. He arose briskly, bestowed on the questioner, whom he
professed to adore, his warmest embrace (a thing unusual with him),
and immediately, pulling his escort by the sleeve, placed himself
at the door-knob which led into the more immoral world. His last
accomplishment was to acquire an accurate sense of time, to make his
quarter-hour calls, his half-hour walks, when sent out alone: "as
wise as a Christian," an honest acquaintance was wont to say of him,
perhaps on the suspicion that the Fine Gentleman, after he reached
his majority, was a free-thinker.

He was in his perfect prime when a slight seeming disgrace fell upon
him, though an incident never clearly understood. His believers
believed in him still; but, for the need of quiet and impartial
adjustment of matters, persuaded him to stay an indefinite while in
the beloved farming district where many of his earlier vacations
were spent. So that, after all his tender rearing, he was at last
abroad and divorced: with a mist, such as we recognized immortals
call sin, upon his spirit, and, because of that, a scruple and a
doubt upon mine, answerable for much of what he was. Before the
eventual proof came that he was clear of blame, there were thoughts
even of an imperative parting, and a reaching for the rectification
towards the Happy Hunting-Grounds, where, at an era's end, we could
be joyous together; and where under the old guiding then never
unskilful, the old sympathy then never erring, the Fine Gentleman
could be to his virtue's full, and in no misapprehending air, his
innocent, upright, loving self again. But instantly, as if to wipe
out forever that possible evil of which men could dream him guilty,
came the moving and memorable end. Amid the tears of a whole town,
and the thanksgiving of some for a greater grief averted, very
quietly and consciously, under the most painful conditions, the Fine
Gentleman laid down his life for a little child's sake. The fifth
act of his tragedy had a sort of drastic consistency, to those who
knew him; it was in line with his odd, inborn, unconventional ways:
the fate one would have chosen for him, and the fittest with which
to associate his soldierly memory. In exile and cashiered, he had
overturned his defamers at a stroke.

It is not too proud a sentence to write over him, that this world,
for the most part, was jealous of his nobility. Human society was
some sort of huge jest to him; he did not always do his best there,
as if the second-best were the shrewder policy, and the neater
adaptation to the codes of honor he found established. His main
concern was certainly the study of mankind, and he stood to it, a
free and unbookish philosopher, looking on and not partaking, with
his reticent tongue, his singularly soft footfall, his "eye like a
wild Indian's, but cordial and full of smothered glee." To his own
race he must be an epic figure and a precedent, and to ours something
not undeserving of applause.

     "Go seek that hapless tomb, which if ye hap to find,
     Salute the stones that keep the bones that held so good a mind."

Such are the only annals of the Fine Gentleman, a Saint Bernard dog,
faithful and forgotten, who bore a great Bostonian's name nearly five
years without a stain, and who is, to one or two of us, not alone a
friend lost, but an ideal set up: Perseus become a star.

  1889.



IRISH


THEY say the Celt is passing away,

     "Encompassed all his hours
     By fearfullest powers
     Inflexible to him."

For he represents yesterday, and its ideals: legendry, ritual, the
heroic and indignant joy of life, belong to him; and he can establish
no manner of connection with modern science and the subjugating of
the material universe; with the spirit of to-day and to-morrow. Of
all Celtic countries, Ireland has the richest background; with so
varied and exciting a past, it may well be that she has difficulty in
concentrating herself on the new, and hangs to her own consistencies
in a world of compromise. Every one save herself has forgotten what
she was, and how her precedents, rather than any outer consideration,
must still govern her, and keep her antagonist and unreconciled. It
is not to be modified, this pauper's pride of blood. She says to
the powers, in charming futile bravado, what a Howard once said to
a Spencer: "My ancestors were plotting treason, while yours were
keeping sheep!" The word warms her heart like wine. "_Le moyen
âge énorme et délicat_," in Verlaine's beautiful colors, seems a
phrase made for Irish mediævalism. It was the watershed of European
knowledge and moral culture: the watershed truly, which, sending
streams down and out and far away, can never call them back. It gave
Scotland her "naked knee" and her kingly line; it gave England its
Christian creed; it gave modern France and Spain the noble enrichment
of its banished and stainless gentry, its Jacobite Wild Geese. It has
been in America, from the Revolution on, an influence incalculable.
It won the perfect understanding sympathy of De Beaumont, Renan and
Matthew Arnold: men of antipodal judgments. It has an intangible
throne in every mind which loves scholarship, and imaginings more
beautiful than any folk-lore in the world. "See you this skull?"
Lucan makes Mercury say to Menippus, in the shades: "this is Helen."
Great is the gulf between happy Innisfail, sovereign and wise, with
her own laws, language, sports, and dress, and this wrecked Ireland
we know: a country of untended flax-fields, unworked marble-quarries,
silent mills on river-banks, little collapsing baronies whose
landlords are absent and cold, and a capital whose lordly houses are
given over, since the Union, to neglect and decay.

Yet of her glory there are glorious witnesses. Her rough and winding
historic roads are open all along. The country is full of ruins
and traditions and snatches of strange song, to "tease us out of
thought." A gander off on a holiday, with his white spouse and
their pretty brood, lifts his paternal hiss at the passer-by from a
Druid's altar; and where young lambs lie, in a windy spring, to lee
of their mothers, is a magnificent doorway, Lombardic, Romanesque,
or Hiberno-Saxon, arch in arch, with its broken inscription, an
_Orate_ for immemorial kings. At well-sides are yet seen ablutions
and prayers, and May-Day offerings of corn and wool, even as they
were "before the advent of the Desii into the County Waterford." By
a waterfall, plunging under cleanest ivy and long grass, is a cross
with circled centre and intricate Byzantine ornament, displaying
David with his harp, or Peter with his keys, set up by a monastic
hand twelve hundred years ago. Forty feet away, is something dearer
to the archæologist: a kitchen of the primeval hunters, its wall and
hearth and calcined lime-stones bedded among laughing bluebells.
A brook's freshet, any March, may bring ashore a strange staff or
necklace; a rock is overturned under a yew-tree, and discloses
horns and knives elder than Clontarf. But yesterday, in a Carlow
garden adjoining the ruins of a Butler fortress, put up at the time
when Richard the Lionheart was looking with tears of envy over the
walls of Jerusalem, closed urns were found in vaults, each with its
shining dust: a tenantry long anterior to Christianity, and conscious
perhaps, of Christian goings-on overhead, when The MacMorrough
Kavanagh was pressed to dine with the Warden of the Black Castle, and
slain among his followers at the pouring of the wine. There can be
no other country so fatal to the antiquarian: for zest and labor are
superfluous, and a long course of incomparable luck must drive him,
for very satiety, from the field.

Venerable Ireland has failed, as the world reckons failure. She
cannot take prettily to her rôle of subjugated province. Abominably
misruled, without a senate, without commerce, she has fallen back
into the sullen interior life, into the deep night of reverie.
From that brooding dark she has let leap no modern flame supremely
great. For the great artist is not Irish, as yet, though with warm
exaggerations, uncritical enthusiasms, affectionate encouragements,
her own exalt her own. As Goldsmith accused Dr. Johnson of doing,
she lets her little fishes talk like whales. And this, of course,
tends to no good: it only blunts the ideals of the populace, lowers
the mark of achievement, and makes it difficult indeed for the
true prince to be recognized in the hubbub of mistaken acclaim.
The constituency of Aneurin and Ossian lacks a single sovereign
poet: a lack apparent enough to all but itself. Verse, from of old,
is pervasive as dew or showers: but nowhere is it in process of
crystallization. The persecution of age-long ignorance, imposed upon
a most intellectual people, is a miasmatic cloud not yet altogether
withdrawn. Only in the best is Ireland perfect: in heroes and in
saints. In life, if not in art, we can sometimes do away with
economy, restraint, equipoise. We can hardly judge the epic figures
of antiquity: but from Columba to "J.K.L.," from Hugh O'Neill and
Sarsfield to Emmet and Lord Edward Fitzgerald, runs an endearing
family likeness: scorn, pity, sweetness, disinterestedness, honor,
power, brave ill luck, in them all. Most of these are rebels; their
names are under the baffling shadow of exile and the scaffold, and,
alas, count for naught save in their mother's memory.

"Where be thy gods, O Israel?" The gibe comes with ill grace from the
English. England has, by the world's corroboration, her divine sons,
whose names are in benediction. But she has also a Sahara spectacle
of the most stolid, empty folk in the universe: the sapless,
rootless, flowerless millions who pay, as it were, for Shakespeare
and Shelley, for Turner and Purcell, for Newton and Darwin. Easy,
is it not, for the superlative quality to form and act, in fullest
power here and there, in a nation where no smallest grain of it is
ever wasted on the common mortal? But Ireland reeks with genius
impartially distributed. It is infectious; every one suffers from it,
in its various stages and manifestations. "The superior race" makes
the superior individual impossible. There is no situation open to
him; he is notoriously superfluous: a coal brought to Newcastle. It
is his lot to awake contradiction, and to be made to feel that he has
no nominating committee behind him. He may be a great man in theory:
but where every other man is demonstrably quite as great as he, he
may be excused if he fails to move mountains. Eccentricity is in
your Irishman's blood; and organization he hates and fears, perhaps
through a dim consciousness that in organizations mental activities
must be left to the leaders. If Celticism, with its insuperable
charm, has never led the world in trade or war, can never so lead
it, the cause is only that the units, which can hardly be said to
compose it, use their brains with unhallowed persistence. The most
dashing spirited troops in Europe, the Irish are natural critics even
of authority. Their successes are everywhere spasmodic: they juggle
with success, they do not woo it to wife. In a career dramatically
checkered, it happens that their onset wins Fontenoy, and that their
advice forfeits Culloden.

It has been well said that the cultured classes are everywhere
much the same, and that the true range of observation lies among
the lowly and the poor. Now, no peasantry in the world furnishes
such marked examples as does the Irish, of original speculation,
accessibility to ideas. Threadbare old farmers and peddlers keep
you in amused astonishment, and in an attitude of impious doubt
towards the ascendancy of the trained thinker. You fall, nay, you
run into cordial agreement with the suggestion of Tom Jones to the
Ensign, "that it is as possible for a man to know something without
having been at school, as it is to have been at school and to know
nothing!" To handle the inscrutable Celt on his own acres is to
learn, or at least to apprehend, the secret of a live resistance,
incredibly prolonged, to a power almost wearied out with maintaining
mastery. The sense of equity, the sense of humor itself, in the
humblest and silentest Irishman, is armor enough against fate. He,
the law-breaker, has compensations which the law-makers wot not of,
in his own ethic subtleties. His soul swells big with dreams. In
his native village, he is rated sympathetically by the dream's size
and duration, rather than, as in grosser communities, by the deed.
The man is a trafficker in visions; he becomes a cryptic mystery to
his wife. She admires him for his madness, and has heard of fairy
influences: "_satis est_, it suffices," as old Burton oracularly
says. Ah, well, the poor devil is with Fergus in his woodland car,
when the rent comes due, and the crops are rotting in the rain!
He has no turn for temporalities, no ambition to rise; yet in a
pictorial sense, by the grace of God, or the witchcraft of the soil,
he walks unique and illustrious. It is a memorable sight, this
monstrous average and aggregate of whim. Nowhere the lonely planetary
effulgence: everywhere the jovial defiant twinkle of little stars!
According to Emerson's sweet prediction,--

     "As half-gods go,
     The gods arrive."

But in Ireland no clever half-god ever gets up to go, for the sake of
any sequel.

Niecks, the biographer of Chopin, noting the extreme nationalism of
Chopin's genius, would have us mark that the same force of patriotism
in an Italian, Frenchman, German, or Englishman, could not have
promoted a similar result. Poland is a realm, he tells us, where
racial traits remain intact, and uninfluenced from without: she is
more esoterical than any state can be which is on the highway of
Continental progress, in touch with to-morrow; and therefore her
expression in the arts is sure to be more individual, distinct, and
striking. Ireland is such another spiritually isolated country.
Her best utterance, or her least, is alike betrayingly hers, to be
scented among a thousand. And this homogeneity, in her case, is quite
unaccountable, unless we accept as its explanation, the magnetic and
absorbent quality in the strange isle itself, which has blended
a dozen alien strains in one, and made of Scythian, Erse, Norse,
Iberian, the Norman, the Dane, the English of the Pale, the Huguenot,
and the horde of Elizabethan and Cromwellian settlers, something
"more Irish than the Irish." And in Poland, again, the aristocracy,
though malcontent and impoverished, for honor's sake, maintains
its own traditions in its own station, as the feudal vassals
maintain theirs. But the genuine Irish gentry is extinct, or utterly
transformed, on its ancient acres. The original peasant stock has all
but perished from famines and immigrations. Most significant of all,
what remains of the two, blends as in no other European territory.
The peasants were long ago driven from the estate of free clansmen;
the gentry, who would neither conform nor flee, were crushed into
the estate of peasants, by the penal laws of the Protestant victor,
which made education treason; by the most hateful code, as Lord Chief
Justice Coleridge named it, framed since the beginning of the world:
and one class impacted on the other, as mortar among stones, became
indistinguishable in a generation. Time, which was expected to bring
about No Ireland, has in reality engendered a national life more
intense than ever. The physical strength, the patience and passion,
of the common people; the grace, loyalty, and play of thought of
gentlemen, have in that national life come together. Unique patrician
wit, delicacy of feeling, knightly courtesy, have run out of their
allotted conduits, and they color the speech of beggars. Distinction
of all sorts sprouts in the unlikeliest places. Violent Erin produces
ever and anon the gentlest philosopher; recluse Erin sends forth the
consummate cosmopolitan; hunted and jealous Erin holds up on its top
stalk the open lily of liberality,

           ----"courteous, facile, sweet,
     Hating that solemn vice of greatness, pride."

Ireland is at work in every department of every civilization: it is
a seed-shedding, an aroma, intangible as April. No pioneer post,
no remote wave, no human enterprise from Algiers to Peru, but can
answer for it, ill or well. Yet none know whether Ireland itself
is at this hour a mere menace of terrible import, like Samson, or
ready, another Odysseus, to throw off disguises, and draw, at home,
"in Tara's halls," the once familiar bow. Its own future, in its own
altered valleys, is hidden. The tragic cloud hangs there. Foreboding,
unrest, are stamped on the very water and sky, and on proud sensitive
faces. It was on a day in spring, in sight of Wicklow headlands,
the Golden Spears of long ago;--a day when primroses and celandine
and prodigal furze splashed the hillsides, down to the rocks where
fishers sat mending nets, and stitching tawny sails; when there
was a sense of overhanging heights, and green inlands, and ruined
abbeys whose stone warriors sleep in hearing of the surf, and of huge
cromlech, fairy rath, and embattled wall, long and low, looking sadly
down; when the shadows in that cold enchanted air at sea, fringing
every sapphire bay, chased from silver through carmine to purple,
and back again;--on such a day of caprice and romance, the true
day of the Gael, a woman beautiful as the young Deirdre said to a
stranger, walking the cliff-path at her side: "No: we have never been
conquered: we are unconquerable. But we are without hope."

  1889.



AN OPEN LETTER TO THE MOON


     "TO THE CELESTIAL AND MY SOUL'S IDOL, THE MOST
     BEAUTIFIED":--

IT might appear to us an imperative, though agreeable duty, most high
and serene Madame, to waft towards you, occasionally, a transcript
of our humble doings on this nether planet, were we not sure, in
the matter of friendly understanding, that we opened correspondence
long ago. You were one of our earliest familiars. You stood in
that same office to our fathers and mothers, back to your sometime
contemporary, Adam of the Garden; and while we are worried into
acquiescence with the inevitable design of age, we are more pleased
than envious to discover that you grow never old to the outward eye,
and that you appear the same "lovesome ladie bright," as when we
first stared at you from a babe's pillow. You are acquainted, not by
hearsay, but by actual evidence, with the family history, having seen
what sort of figure our ancestors cut, and being infinitely better
aware of the peculiarities of the genealogical shrub than we can ever
be. Therefore we make no reference to a matter so devoid of novelty.
But we do mean to free our minds frankly on the subject of your
Ladyship's own behavior. We take this resolve to be no breach of that
exalted courtesy which befits us, no less than you, in your skyey
station.

We have in part, lost our ancient respect for you: a sorry fact to
chronicle. There were once various statements floating about our
cradle, complimentary to your supposed virtues. You were Phoebe,
twin to Phoebus: a queen, having a separate establishment, coming
into a deserted court by night, and kindling it into more than
daytime revelry. You were an enchantress, the tutelary divinity of
water-sprites and greensward fairies. Your presence was indispensable
for felicitous dreams. To be moonstruck, then, meant to be charmed
inexpressibly, to be lifted off our feet.

Now, we allow that you have suffered by misrepresentation, or
else are we right in detecting your arts; for, by all your starry
handmaidens, you are not what we took you to be! We are informed (our
quondam faith in you beshrews the day we learned to read!) that you
are a timid dependent only of the sun, afraid to show yourself while
he is on his peregrinations; that you slyly steal the garb of his
splendor as he lays it aside, and blaze forthwith in your borrowed
finery. That you are no friend to innocent goblins, but abettor to
housebreakers; conspirator in many direful deeds, attending base
nocturnal councils, and tacitly arraigning yourself against the law.
"Let us be Diana's foresters, gentlemen of the shade, ... governed,
as the sea is, by our noble and chaste mistress, the moon, under
whose countenance we--steal." That your gossip is the ominous owl,
and not Titania. Your inconstancy, to come on delicate ground,
shineth above your other characteristics. Since we have seen your
color come and go, we surmise that there is no dearth of intrigue
and repartee up there; and in a red or a grey veil, you masquerade
periodically, at unseasonable hours. Of painting your complexion we
are disposed to acquit you; yet it is a severe blow to us to learn,
from the most trustworthy sources, that you wax.

Selene, Artemis! you are worldly beyond worldlings. We hear that you
have quarters, and that you jingle them triumphantly in the ears of
Orion, who is nobody but a poor hunter. Beware of the exasperation
of the lower classes! whose awakening is what we call below a French
Revolution. Who, indeed, that hath a mote in his eye, cannot still
discern a huge beam in yours? Have you no resident missionary?
for you persist in obstinate schisms, and flaunt that exploded
Orientalism, the crescent, in the teeth of Christendom. You are much
more distant and reserved, O beguiler! than you pretend. Your temper
is said to be volcanic.

You that were Diana! who is the Falstaffian, Toby Belchian, Kriss
Kringlish person to be seen about your premises? He hangeth his great
ruddy comfortable phiz out of your casements, and holdeth it sidewise
with a wink or a leer, having never yet found his rhyming way to
Norwich. We look on him as an officious rascal. He peereth where you
only, by privilege, have permission to enter. He hath the evil eye.
He thinketh himself a proper substitute for you, and King of the
Illuminari; he reproduceth your smile, and scattereth your largesses;
he maketh faces (we say it shudderingly) at your worshippers below.
Frequently hath he appropriated kisses that were blown to you
personally, or consigned to you for delivery, from one sweetheart to
another.

O Lady, O Light-dispenser, think, we hereby beseech you, of the
danger of his being taken for you! Picture the discomfiture of
your minstrel, who, intoning a rapturous recital of your charms,
and casting about for a sight of your delectable loveliness, is
confronted, instead, with that broad ingenuous vagabond! In some such
despairing rage as the minstrel's, must have been the inventor of the
German tongue, who discarded all other chances of observation after
once beholding this thing, ycleped your Man, and angrily insisted on
"Der Mond,"--the Moon, he--as the proper mode of speech. I cite you
this from old John Lyly: "There liveth none under the sunne that
know what to make of the man in the moon." We clamor at you from
the throats of the five races: Abolish him, or at least, depose the
present incumbent, and get you straightway some acceptable minion,
one of more chivalric habit, of more spare and ascetic exterior! Your
credit and our comfort demand it. "Pray you, remember."

What scenes, Cosmopolite, Circumnavigator, Universalist, have you
beheld: what joy, what plenty, what riot and desolation! You are the
arch-spectator. Death sees not half so widely. He lurketh like an
anxious thief in the crowd, seeking what he may take away. But your
bland leisurely eye looketh down disinterestedly on all. Caravans
rested thrice a thousand years ago beneath you in the desert;
Assyrian shepherds chanted to you with their long-hushed voices;
the south wind, while the infant world fell into its first slumber,
leaped up and played with you in Paradise. You have known the chaos
before man, and yet we saw you laugh upon last April's rain. Are
there none for whom you are lonely through the ages? Are there not
centuries of old delight in your memory, unequalled now? faces fairer
than the lilies, on whose repose you still yearn to shine? Do you
miss the smoke of altars? Have you forgotten the beginners of the
"star-ypointing pyramid"? Can you not tell us a tale of the Visigoth?
How sang Blondel against the prison door? How brawny was Bajazet? How
fair was Helen; Semiramis, how cruel? Moon! where be the treasures of
the doughty Kidd?

You, Cynthia and Hecate, sweet Lady of Ghosts and guardian of the
underworld, have been fed upon the homage of mortal lips: you have
had praises from the poets exquisite as calamus and myrrh. Many a
time have we rehearsed before you such as we recall, from the sigh of
Enobarbus:--

     "O sovereign mistress of true melancholy!"

to the hymnal

     "Orbèd maiden, with white fire laden,"

of the noble salutation of a mirthful-mournful spirit:

     "Oh! thou art beautiful, howe'er it be,
     Huntress or Dian, or whatever named;
     And he the veriest pagan, that first framed
     His silver idol, and ne'er worshipped thee."

Have we not sung oft that strophe of Ben Jonson's, full of
inexpressible music to our ear?

     "Lay thy bow of pearl apart
     And thy crystal shining quiver;
     Give unto the flying hart
     Space to breathe, how short soever,
     Thou that mak'st a day of night,
     Goddess excellently bright!"

and the beloved rhymeless cadence of old Jasper Fisher's drama,
beginning:--

     "Thou queen of Heaven, commandress of the deep,
     Lady of lakes, regent of woods and deer."

Sidney, Drummond, Milton, glorified your wanderings. And your truest
votary, one John Keats, spake out boldly that

           ----"the oldest shade midst oldest trees
     Feels palpitations when thou lookest in."

You are an incorrigible charmer: but as he reports you likewise as

                           ----"a relief
     To the poor, patient oyster, where he sleeps
     Within his pearly house,"

we infer, with pleasurable surprise, that you have set up as a
humanitarian.

Now, we venture to assert that you remember compliments meant to be
of the same Orphic strain, and inscribed to you, of which we are not
wholly guiltless. We have all but knelt to you, with the Libyan.
The primeval heathen has stirred within us. We have been under
the witchery of Isis. We aspire to be a Moonshee, rather than any
potentate of this universe. Have we not followed you, O "planet of
progression!" all our bright, volatile, restless, tide-like days? We
wound you not with the analytic eye, nor startle you with telescopes.
The scepticisms of astronomy enter not into our rubric. Are you not
comely? Do you not spiritualize the darkness with one touch of your
pale garment? Then what are they to us, your dimensions and your
distances? Gross vanity of knowledge! Mere abuse of privilege!

If we affect the abusive, shy of more ceremonious forms of address,
forgive us, Luna. We make recantation, and disown our banter. We
extend the hand of cordiality even to your month-old Man. How blithe
and beauteous he is! He is embodied Gentility. We bow to him as your
anointed Viceroy, your illustrious Nuncio. You know our immemorial
loyalty, nor shall our rogueries teach you so late to doubt it.

     "_Da Lunæ propere novæ,
     Da noctis mediæ, da, puer!_"

Forgive us, benignant, peaceful, affable, propitious Moon. Poet are
we not, nor lunatic, nor lover; "but that we love thee best, O Most
Best! believe it."

  1885.



THE UNDER DOG


WHAT a pity a memoir cannot be written without regard to its alleged
incidents! Annalists are naturally the slaves of what happens; and
that glows between them and the eternal, like gorgeous-colored
minster glass, a spurious man-made heaven. A written Life may be
true to fact and false to law, even as a lived life may be so. It
is utterly impossible for the most philosophic among us to know, to
judge, or even to speculate, in behalf of any but himself. A word, a
risk, a blunder, the breadth of a hair, the difference betwixt the
two Kings of Brentford, lifts the obscure into apparent greatness, or
forbids the potentially greater to descend to that table-land where
there is no mist, where human senses come into play, and where he may
become a subject for the approbation of history. In whatsoever degree
a creature is burdened with conscience and stiffened with will, his
course must be continuously deflected by countless little secret
interior collisions and readjustments, which have final cumulative
influence on what we call his character and his achievement. The
means to this end are nowhere discoverable, unless in a perfect
autobiography, and under the eye of the perfect reader. Fate must
have her joke sometimes, as well as the least of us, and she suffers
cheap energy to fill the newspapers for a lustrum, and genius to
await identification at the morgue. These are truisms, but here is
truth: in nine hundred and ninety-nine instances out of a thousand,
it is folly to name any success or failure as such; for either is a
mystery, and the fairest evidences by which we can form an opinion of
it are altogether and irremediably fallacious.

Now, what has often used up and ended a man's vital force, is
some constraint much more significant than that of early death, a
constraint sought and willingly undergone. His own moral weakness
stopped Coleridge; but Erasmus might have uttered with Sidney:

     "My life melts with too much thinking."

Socrates, it will be remembered, "corrupted the Athenian youth." Not
one of them he moulded or breathed upon, except the transient pupil
Alcibiades, turned his hand cordially to the practical, or ramped
in the civic china-shop. What ghost is it which certain minds see
upon the way, and which lessens their destined momentum? Something
extra-rational, we may be sure: something with an august enchantment.
They act under the impulse of an heroic fickleness, and forsake a
known and very good result for "the things that are more excellent."
The spectators can only wonder; the crucial third act has passed
swiftly and in silence behind the curtain, and the rest of the drama
sounds perverted and confused. A mere secular enthusiasm may have the
power to draw a career to itself, absorb and devour it, and keep it
shut forever from the chance of distinction in selfish and pleasant
ways. But what shall be said for those who have become impassioned of
the supernatural, beholding it in amaze, as Hubert the hunter beheld
the holy sign between the antlered brows in the Aquitanian forest:
a sight enough to stay them and carry them out of themselves, and
change what was their prospect, because "the former things are passed
away?" What of the allegiance to a cause, the espousal of hunger
and thirst, the wilderness, and the scaffold, in the hope, never
ultimately in vain, of awakening and bettering the world? "If the law
require you to be the agent of injustice to another," wrote Thoreau,
in his good manful essay on John Brown, "then I say to you, break
the law. Let your life be a friction to stop the machine." Even thus
have many gone under, of whom no audiences have heard, but whose love
and wisdom feed the race, century after century. In our reckoning of
the saints, we lose sight of half their meaning; for we cannot guess
accurately which of them has lost most, humanly and æsthetically,
nor how much any one individual has lost, by his chosen concentration
on matters in which there is no general competition, and where there
can be no established canons of criticism. Some saints, in a double
sense, follow their vocations; they attain their only legitimate
development in the cloister. But others are saints at a sacrifice.
An infinite number of men and women, painfully approximating moral
perfection, lose, either gradually, or at once and forever, in that
supreme compensation, their aptitude for common affairs. "_Ejiciebas
eas, et intrabas pro eis, omne voluptate dulcior_," says the son of
Monica's tears, himself gloriously stricken out from the pagan roll
of honor.

Such as these have outgrown their own existence; they become
impalpable to the general apprehension; they have sold the mess of
pottage again for the birthright of the sons of God. And God, in the
audacious old phrase, has "destroyed" them. What they bade fair to
be, or what they could have done, before they were crippled by vigils
and visions, rolls back into the impossible and the unimagined. We
have no clue to alienated souls: we can compute with those solely,
who, as we say, get along and amount to something; and we seldom
perceive what purely fortuitous reputations, what mere bright flotsam
and jetsam, accidentally uppermost, are those whom we set first in a
fixed place, and cry up as exemplars in art, trade, and policy. For
what might have been is not this crass world's concern: her absent
have no rights. The spiritual man is likely to be possessed of a
divine indolence; would he strive, he is hampered and thwarted by
the remembrance, or the forecast, of whiter ideals in Paradise. It
is sometimes urged as a reproach against the courteous Latin nations
that they lag behind in modern progressiveness; that they do not,
like the Border lads, "march forward in order." The reproach is, at
bottom, a delicate and exquisite compliment. With genius in their
blood, and beauty never far from their hand, what wonder if they
continue to be careless about rapid transit?

     "I have seen higher, holier things than these,
     And therefore must to these refuse my heart."

The endearing fable of elf-shot or bewitched children, little
goose-girls waylaid on the hillside by fairies in green and silver,
and enticed away, and set free after a while, though with the
dream and the blight ever upon them, is, like most fables, deep as
immortality. The mystic has already gone too far, and seen too much;
he is useless at the plough: he is, as it were, one citizen less.
The fine lines just quoted are from an expert in inaction, the poet
who, among all others with an equal equipment in English letters,
may be named pre-eminently as a failure: Arthur Hugh Clough. Let his
lovers proclaim as much with gentle irony. Most poets, it may be,
are heroes spoiled; they know somewhat of the unknown, and suffer
from it; the usual measure of their esoteric worth must still be the
measure of their mundane impracticability: like Hamlet, they have
seen spirits, and forswear deeds for phrases. Artists and thinkers,
in fact, must outwardly follow the profession of the queen bee, not
as yet with honor, nor by general request. But they are omens; they
are, let us hope, the type and the race, the segregated non-cohesive
thing, the protest which counts. The noblest of them is least in love
with civilization and its awards; but what they have not hoarded
for themselves, strangers hoard for them; and because success is
most truly to them a thing foregone, therefore they prevail forever.
If they have not "made a living," they have, in the opinion of a
young Governor of Massachusetts, a philosopher not of the Franklin
breed,--"made a life."

  1893.



QUIET LONDON


IF one had to try his hand at the eternal parallel of London and
Paris (next weariest, in the scale of human comparisons, to that
between D----s and T----y), or, indeed, of London with any city of
known size, it might be said, in a word, that the chief variance
between them is a variance of sound: and that under this, and
expressed by it,--"alas, how told to them who felt it never?" as
Dante sighs over the abstruse sweetness of his lady,--is a profound
spiritual difference. Whatever tradition may say of

     ----"the chargeable noise of this great town,"

its instructed inhabitant knows it by strange whispers, meek
undertones. Conceive anything more diverting than that a monstrous
awe-engendering institution like the 'bus should be almost as deft
and as still as a humming-bird! Monosyllables, and pipe-smoke, and
sciential collecting of fares make up the rolling van masculine;
ever and anon the less certain step and the swish of a skirt on the
lurching stair, announce to the heroes of the serene height that

     "Helen is come upon the wall to see."

With perfect skill, with masterful rapidity, the wheels slide over
surfaces smooth as an almond-shell, in a mere ballroom jingle and
rustle. Cabs are dragon-flies by day, and glowworms by night: they
dart, noiseless, from north to west. Even the tuft-footed dray-horses
vanish with such reverberation as might follow Cinderella's coach.
Exquisite voices of children, soft and shy, fall like the plash
of water on the open paths of the Parks. In the viscid openings
of alleys off the Strand, in the ancient astonishing tinkerdom
of Leather Lane, where villainous naphtha torches light up the
green lettuce on peddler's carts, the pawnbroker's golden balls
significant above, and a knot of Hogarth faces in the Saturday
evening flare,--there also, are the cockney gamins with honey-bright
hair: profiles which corroborate Millais' brush, and illustrate a
lovely phrase of Mistral in _Mirèio_, "couleur de joue;" flushed
little legs in ragged socks, which have piteously set out on the
dark thoroughfares of life; voices, above all, which have often a
low harp-like tone not to be heard elsewhere out of drawing-rooms.
It is as if tremendous London, her teeming thoughts troubling her,
said "Hush!" in the ear of all her own. Hyde Park orators are seldom
brawlers; immense crowds, out for sight-seeing, are controlled by the
gentlest of police, who say "Please," and are obeyed. Few stop to
salute or exchange a word at the shelters. This is no experimental
or villageous world: one man's affairs are in India, another's on
the deep sea, and a third's in a cradle three stories up. Sidneys
and pickpockets intermingle, each on a non-communicated errand. Here
whisks a Turk, in his extraordinary unnoticed dress; and yonder, a
sprout of a man who might have been bow-legged, had he any legs at
all: nothing new goes at its value, nothing strange begets comment.
The long-distance ironies, or intelligential buzz of street-life
in New York, where folk go two and two, are here foreign and
transatlantic indeed. The even pavements drink in all that might
mean concussion, the soft golden air deadens it, the preoccupied
seriousness of the human element contradicts and forbids it. An
awful, endearing, melancholy stillness broods over the red roofs of
High Holborn, and hangs, like a pale cloud, on the spires of the
Strand, and the yellow-lustred plane tree of Cheapside: gigantic
forces seem trooping by, like the boy-god Harpocrates, finger on lip.
The hushing rain, from a windless sky, falls in sheets of silver on
gray, gray on violet, violet on smouldering purple, and anon makes
whole what it had hardly riven: the veil spun of nameless analogic
tints, which brings up the perspective of every road, the tapestry
of sun-shot mist which Théophile Gautier admired once with all his
eye. The town wears the very color of silence. No one can say of S.
Paul's that it is a talking dome, despite the ironic accident of the
whispering gallery in the interior. Like Wordsworth upon Helvellyn,
in Haydon's odd memorable portrait, it sees with drooped eyes, and
exhorts with grand reticences and abstractions. Mighty stone broods
above, on either hand, its curiously beautiful draperies of soot
furled over the brow, in the posture of the speechless martyrs of
Attic tragedy. There is an alchemic atmosphere in London, which
interdicts one's perception of ugliness. At the angles of the
grimiest places, choked with trade, we stumble on little old bearded
graveyards, pools of ancestral sleep; or low-lying leafy gardens
where monks and guildsmen have had their dream: closes inexpressibly
pregnant with peace, the cæsural pauses of our loud to-day. Nothing
in the world is so remote, so pensive, so musty-fragrant of long
ago, as the antique City churches where the dead are the only
congregation; where the effigies of Rahere the founder, Sir Nicholas
Throgmorton, John Gower, and our old friend Stow are awake, in
their scattered neighborhoods, to make the responses; and where the
voices of the daily choir, disembodied by the unfilled space about,
breathe ghostly four-part Amens, to waver like bubbles up and down
the aisles. And to go thence into the highway creates no great
jar. The tide there is always at the flood, and frets not. The
perfectly ordered traffic, its want of blockade and altercation, the
sad-colored, civil-mannered throng, the dim light and the wet gleam,
make it as natural to be absent-minded at Charing Cross as in the
Abbey. Shelley must have found it so; else whence his simile,

     "The City's voice itself is soft like Solitude's."

There is no congestion of the populace; yet the creeks and coves of
that ancient sea remain brimmed with mortality, hour after hour,
century after century, as if in subjection to a fixed moon. It is
the very poise of energy, the aggregation of so much force that
all force is at a standstill; the miraculous moment, indefinitely
prolonged, when achieved fruition becalms itself at the full, and
satiety hesitates to set in. A subdued mighty hum, as of "the loom
of time," London lacks not; but a crass explosion never breaks it.
The imponderable quiet of the vast capital completes her inscrutable
charm. She has the effect of a muted orchestra on ears driven mad
with the horrible din of new America. As still as her deep history
on library shelves, so still are her pace and her purpose to-day:
her grave passing, would, like Lincoln in camp, discourage applause.
Everywhere is the acoustically perfect standpoint. The cosmic
currents ripple audibly along.

     "Therein I hear the Parcæ reel
     The threads of life at the spinning-wheel,
     The threads of life and power and pain."

Coal-smoke and river-fog are kind to the humanist. They build his
priory cell, where he can sit and work on his illuminations, and know
that he lays his colors true. "The man, sir, who is tired of London,"
said the great Doctor, in one of his profound generalities, "is tired
of life."

At certain hours, the City is tenantless, and sunrise or sunset,
touching the vidual tower of All Hallows Staining, gives it the
pearl and carmine tints of a shell. At such a time you may wander
in the very luxury of loneliness, from London Bridge to Lambeth,
watching the long yards swing at their moorings by the palace wall,
and Thames running tiger-coated to sea; and from the Gray's Inn limes
pass on to an unvisited and noble old bronze of an inconsiderable
Stuart, lustrous from the late shower, beyond whom are the
forgotten water-stairs of Whitehall, above whom is his own starlit
weather-vane, with "the Protestant wind still blowing." Where the
Boar's Head was, where the Roman Baths are, in strange exchanges of
chronology, where, in a twinkle, the merchants and journalists shall
be, are the depopulated presence-halls in which you are

     "In dreams a king, but waking, no such matter."

All that was temporal in them has been swallowed by the wave of the
generations of men who are no more. Poet by poet, from the beginning,
has known the look of London's void heart at night, and has had,
next it, his keenest gust of sovereignty, on jealous marches when
his own footfall is soft as a forest creature's, for fear of man
and of mortal interruption. The living are gone for the moment:
the dead and their greatness are "nearer than hands and feet." The
divinest quality of this colossal calm, "mirk miles broad," is that,
to the sensitive mind, it is a magic glass for musings. In such a
mysterious private depth Narcissus saw himself, and died of his own
beauty. The few who have had eternity most in mind, have worshipped
London most; and their passion, read of in biographies, has expanded,
insensibly, the imagination of the many. The terror of the vast town
lies on any thoughtful spirit; but without some touch or other of
golden casuistry, of neo-Platonism, none can sincerely adore her. For
the adorable in her is man's old adoration itself, breathed forth and
crystallized. That indeed, is the everlasting delight: London has
nothing so simple in her bosom as instinctive charm. She is the dear
echo, the dear mirror, of humanity. The Charles Lamb who was wont to
relieve his tender overburdened spirit by a plunge in the surging
crowd, and who was not ashamed that he had wept there, "for fulness
of joy at so much life," might be the first to apply to the majestic
and bitter mother who bred him, the illumining line of Alfred de
Musset:

     "_Car sa beauté pour nous, c'est notre amour pour elle._"

She gives us freedom, recollection, reverence; and we attribute to
her the sweetness of our own dispositions at her knee. Blessing us
with her silence, the glad incredible thing, she lets us believe we
have discovered it, as a fresh secret between lover and lover.

On Sundays, too, the dreary English Sundays of old complaint,
what idyllic opportunity wastes itself at the door! Hampstead and
Blackheath are efflorescent with the populace, but dark London wears
her troth-plight ring of meditation. Her church-bells, indeed,
speak: there is a new one at every turning, like the succession of
perfumes as you cross a conservatory, and felt as a discord no more
than these. Good to hear are the chimes of S. Giles Cripplegate, the
aged bells of S. Helen, with their grace-notes and falling thirds,
the great octave-clash of Wren's cathedral, which booms and sprays
like the sea on the chalk-cliffs almost within its sight. And the
ghosts are out again under the eaves of Little Britain and Soho.
It is usually on Sundays, or at night, that you may view the young
Cowley (curled up, among the geraniums, on the window-ledge of the
Elizabethan house next S. Dunstan's-in-the-West) reading Spenser,
his light bronze curls curtaining the folio page; and a figure of
uncontemporaneous look, coming heavily from the Temple gateway,
almost opposite, with a black band on his sleeve, is saying brokenly
to himself: "Poor Goldy was wild, very wild; but he is so no more."

The elective London of choicest companionship, of invited sights and
sounds, of imperial privacy, is always open to the explorer: "London
small and white and clean," walled and moated, fairer than she ever
was at any one time, warless, religious, pastoral, where hares may
course along the friendly highway, and swans breast the unpolluted
Fleet. Like the gods, you may, if you will, apprehend all that has
ever been, at a glance, and out of that all, seize the little which
is perfect and durable, and live in it: "in the central calm at the
heart of agitation." By so much as London and her draggled outer
precincts are bulging and vile, and her mood stupid, cruel, and
senseless, victory is the larger for having found here a spiritual
parterre of perpetual green. And it is, perhaps, owing to respect
towards those who yet believe in her, whose presence imposes upon
her, in romantic tyranny, the remembrance of what she has been to her
saints, that she does, in reality, walk softly, speak low, as if her
life-long orgies were fabulous, and wear, to her faithful lover, the
happy innocent look becoming the young Republic of Selected Peace.
Donne's subtly beautiful cry is ever in his ear:

     "O stay heere! for to thee
     England is only a worthy gallerie
     To walk in Expectation: till from thence
     Our greatest King call thee to His presènce."

O stay here! Who would not be such a city's citizen?

  1890.



THE CAPTIVES


THE lions at the Zoo "bring sad thoughts to the mind": they chiefly,
for they are the most impressive figures among our poor hostages. The
pretty moons of color, cream or bronze, pulsating along their tawny
sides, seem but so many outer ripples of a heart-ache subtle enough
to move your own. Couchant, with a droop of the bearded chest, or
erect, with an eternal restless four steps and back again, they drag
through, in public, their defeated days. It is inconceivable that we
should attach the idea of depravity to a lion. Surely, it is no count
against him that he can kill those of us who are adjacent, and juicy!
In the roomy name of reciprocity, why not? Yet what he can do, he
leaves undone. A second glance at him corrects inherited opinion:

     "I trow that countenance cannot lie."

Benignity sits there, and forbearance; else we know not what such
things mean. Those golden eyes, pools of sunlit water, make one
remember no blood-curdling hap; but rather the gracious legendry
of long ago: how a lion buried the Christian penitent in the lone
Egyptian sands, and another gambolled in the thronged Coliseum,
kissing the feet of the Christian youth, when the task laid upon him,
in his hunger, was to rend his body in twain. Something about the
lion reminds one of certain sculptured Egyptian faces. This great
intellectual mildness, when blended with enormous power (power which
in him must be expressed physically, or we were too dull to feel
it), appears to some merely sly and sinister. Incredible goodness we
label as hypocrisy. For the ultimate quality in the expression of the
lion is its sweetness. He may be, as one hears him called, the king
of brutes, but the gentleman among brutes he is, beyond a doubt. He
has tolerance, dignity, and an oak-leaf cleanliness. With passing
accuracy, Landor or William Morris, is often described as "leonine";
but the real lion-men of England are the thin and mild dynamos:
Pitt, Newman, Nelson. In these are the long austere lines of the
cheek, the remote significant gaze, the look of inscrutable purpose
and patience. As Theseus says, smiling upon his Hippolyta, of the
lion in the masque of the _Midsummer Night's Dream_: "A very gentle
beast, and of a good conscience."

Year after year, so long as the splendid creatures are cheapened
"to make a Roman holiday," they move not so much under protest as
with black sullen fatalism. We have all seen them rise to the lash
in the hands of a spangled circus female, who must end, forsooth,
by inserting her pomatumed head in their too-enduring jaws; and it
is not unusual for them to spring at the just-closed door, with the
fell strength of that soft and terrible left fore-paw. Their action
is, of course, perfunctory; and since they are notoriously brave,
and not to be cowed, obedience in them has a strange pathos. They
are trained to sit up, and roll barrels, and fire cannon, and jump
hoops; yes, even to scowl and swear, to the terror of "men, women
and Herveys," between the scenes of their bitter comedy; yet the
clown's circumstance cannot touch a hair of those mournful magnific
heads. Their sleep is broken with poked umbrellas, and a patter of
foolish nuts and cookies; and, from a dream of the fragrant jungles
and the torrents of home, they come anew upon the cyclorama of
human faces, and the babble of foreign tongues. They live no longer
from hand to mouth, as they do in their native haunts; their needs,
nay, their whims, are studied and gratified; they serve painters,
naturalists, schoolboys; they give employment; they call forth
thought, love, courage. And many sympathizers and well-wishers are
shortsighted enough to congratulate caged animals, and think them
happily circumstanced. Your point of view depends, perhaps, on how
much passion for out-of-doors, for solitude, is in your own blood;
and on your sense of the lengths to which human interference may go
with the works of God. We give these lives subjected to our laudable
curiosity, strange exchanges: for moss knee-deep, and the dews and
aroma of the woody ground, a raised sawdust floor; and for an outlook
through craggy glens,

     "Chamber from chamber parted with wavering arras of leaves,"

a whitewashed wall nine feet high, a stucco sky which has not the
look of Nubia, nor Barbary, nor Arabia, any more.

Our father Adam is said to have dwelt in peace with all the beasts
in his Garden. And there is no evidence in the Mosaic annals that
it was they who became perverted, and broke faith with man! Marry,
man himself, in the birth of his moral ugliness, set up the hateful
division, estranged these inestimable friends, and then, unto
everlasting, pursues, maligns, subjugates, and kills the beings
braver, shrewder, and more innocent than he. He has wrested from its
beautiful meaning his "dominion over them." Power made him tyrannous,
and tyranny bred in its victims hate and revenge and fear, and from
the footfall of man all creation flees away, unless, indeed, as in
Swift's most telling allegory, where the cultured Houyhnhnms may
succeed in subjecting the Yahoos. For man alone is the fallen angel
of the lower order:

     "The King, from height of all his painted glory,"

has sunk into vulgar dreams of coercion, breathing dual impiety
against his Maker and his mates. Save him, there is no other
perverted animal; not one clad otherwise, or minded otherwise,
than his archetype. Men in sealskins; women in swansdown, with
heron-aigrettes; children in cocoon-spun silk, their hands and
feet in strange sheathings torn from the young of the goat and the
cow;--what are these but ludicrous violators of the decencies of the
universe? If there be beasts in Heaven "with eye down-dropt" upon
the temperate and polar zones, they cannot lack diversion. It is,
moreover, part of our plot to deny them immortality, and to attempt
to interpose our jurisdiction, in such abstruse matters, between them
and their Author, towards whom they yet bear an unshamed front. For
man the animal is but a beggarly lump. He has never shown himself
so provident as the ant, so ingenious as the beaver, so faithful as
the dove, so forgiving as the hound. His senses are eternally below
par; his artistic faculties are befogged. The humblest thrush is an
architect and musician by eldest family tradition, while it takes
him a thousand years to conceive an ogee arch and a viol d'amore.
And having driven from his pestilential company the whole retinue of
dear esquires, he began shamefacedly to reclaim them to his service.
The horse came back, generously hiding his apprehensions; the pig and
the hen mechanically, at the prospect of free bed and board; the dog
with his glad conciliation, the cat with her aristocrat reserves.
These abide with us, suffer through us, are persuasive and voluble,
and endeavor to reconcile us with the great majority of wild livers,
from whom we are divorced. In vain do they so press upon us our own
lack of logic. We address them individually: "You, O immigrant, are
personally pleasing unto me; but your fellows, your blood-relations,
your customs in your own country,--_ach Himmel_!" Our popular speech
insults them at every turn: "as silly as a goose," "as vain as a
peacock," "as ugly as a rat," "as obstinate as a mule," "as cross
as a bear," "as dirty as a dog," "as sick as a dog," "to be hanged
like a dog," "a dog's life," "Cur!" "Puppy!" Surely, no class of
creatures, unless Jews in the twelfth century, have ever undergone
such groundless contumely. Every word of Shylock's famous plea stands
good for them, as also its close. "If you prick us, do we not bleed?
if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison us, do we not die?
and, if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in
the rest, we will resemble you in that." When we hear of a writer
who advises the practice of "courtesy" towards animals, and of a
little girl who hoarded up wisdom from the speech of a turtle, our
memories couple them as Alice--and Sir Arthur Helps--in Wonderland.
If it be in _Utopia_ alone that murderous "sport" is impossible,
and that only there it breeds rational pity when after a day's run,
"a harmless and fearfull Hare should be devour'd by strong, fierce,
and cruell Dogges," how far are we not from the time when modern
conscientiousness shall make us just even to the exiles pent in a
menagerie? Our laws deal with these in a spirit of the most flagrant
injustice. While every jury allows for reprisals, when dealing with
human crime, no biped else, and no quadruped, with however blameless
a record, under whatever provocation, can be allowed an instant's
hearing, when so much as suspected of a transgression. A leopard
here at the Zoo revolts, perhaps for no specific cause. He is tired
of being enslaved, and would resume sincerity. He offends; he is
executed, leaving ineradicable influences among the cages, as if
their Danton had gone by, audible again: "_Que mon nom soit flétri;
que la France soit libre!_" Or the keeper abominably abuses a certain
elephant, a very saint for patience, a genius for cleverness, a hero
for humor; and six years after, the same elephant, in another duchy,
spies his old tormentor, winds his lithe proboscis about his waist,
and neatly cracks him against a wall. A dozen influential persons
plead, as defence for the assassin, his unparalleled nobleness of
character; but the public blood is up: he has to die. To some reforms
we shall never come, for thought about them is deadened in us by the
operation of our accursed generic pride. Our codes approximate too
painfully to the largeness of the universal plan. We have, indeed,
conceived of other suns, other systems, than ours; but the hope
is slight that we can ever admit beasts, not to certain terms of
equality with our own esteemed species, but even to the personal
pronoun, and a place in the divine economy. Arrogance is bad for us,
and bad for them. The very bliss of power is to protect and forbear;
could we learn it, we might, perhaps, inspire it in the shark, the
jackal, and the butcher-bird. Meanwhile, in the maintenance of
penal laws against our Ishmaels, it can at least be urged that,
as yet, we know no better. As we are drowned in ignorance, it is
inconceivable that we shall be hanged for sacrilege! Could we analyze
the impressions of uncultivated persons, received from the centaurs
in the Parthenon frieze, or the Sphinx of elder Egypt, we should
probably discover that these are looked upon as mere monsters: a
compound of man and horse, or of woman and lioness, the conception
of which is abhorrent and distressing to the mind. (It is to be
hoped that there are "stuck-up" horses and lionesses to adopt the
corresponsive view). But the artists of the race, from the world's
beginning, souls of a benign fancy, have gone on creating these
mythic "monsters." Long-eared fauns abound, and mermaids with silver
and vermilion scales, and angels borne on vast white gull-like wings:
dear non-anatomical shapes, for the most part, full of odd charm, and
of a spiritual application which will last out until we are humble
and humorous enough to read it. Nor, on second thought, can we fail
to see gravest changes adumbrating the subject. The Latin nations
lag behind in conciliations, and England leads. There were not many,
long ago, who passed the fraternal word to beasts: those who did so,
Sidney, More, Vaughan, were the flower of their kind, and not without
suspicion of "queerness." Lord Erskine, less than three generations
back, suffered great obloquy for his championship of what we are
almost ready to concede as the "rights" of animals. Coleridge was
well laughed at for saluting the ass's little foal as his brother.
But Burns was not laughed at for his field-mouse, nor Blake for his
fly. And there is no single characteristic of modern life so novel,
so significant, as the yearning affectionateness with which our
youngest poets allude to fauna, and so adorn a moral. The habit has
grown with them, until every Pan's pipe breathes sweet pieties to the
less articulate world. A line of Celia Thaxter, addressed to a mussel
on the stormy Maine strand, has been their unconscious key-note.

     "Thou thought of God! ... what more than thou am I!"

For Darwin has come and gone, and cut our boast from under us.

On their own part, how benevolent are the estranged allies far away!
how ready to resume "the league of heart to heart" with some soul a
little primal! Any one, indeed, may tame a wild thing by no deeper
necromancy than a succession of suppers and of kind words. Animals
are disinterested also, and ready to serve without rewards. Ravens
are gentle marketers for Elijah; the lions purr about the prophet
Daniel; the shyest fish swim into Thoreau's hand; S. Francis, in the
tenderest of folk-tales, goes out to the hills, and reasons with
the wicked wolf who sacks the Umbrian villages. He offers him free
and ample maintenance, promises him immunity from the hunters, and
brings him down among the women and children, to pledge himself to
better behavior on his apologetic paw. S. Francis was not a very
great fool: he was only Adam sane again, and interharmonized with
the physical universe. The majority of infants still show pleasure
at the sight of a beetle, or a toad. Of course, their grasp kills
it; but that is not voluntary, as the pleasure is. The fatuous
parents, however, are certain to change all that: toads, be it
known, produce warts, and beetles sting. A lizard on a tree-trunk,
a mink in the creek, a delicate gray squirrel on the stone wall,
(charming persons exclusively minding their own business,) are at
all times providentially provided for our sweet little boys to
kill. Strange that, whereas, by Tigris and Euphrates, we creatures
had our communications with creatures in one kindly language, we
should now roam over the face of the earth, everywhere accosting
our demonstrable superiors with a gun! Mr. Bryan, candidate for the
Presidency of the United States, went into the forest, the other
day, for rest and recreation, and had a stroke of luck: he shot
something. It was a beautiful doe. We learn from the newspapers
that she had "stood looking at him, without any fear." Here is your
typical high treason in these nice matters. Who will say but that the
doe was about to give some sign? _Ça donne furieusement à penser._
Blind bullies, sodden usurpers that we are! It is our dense policy
to rebuff the touching advances of our old allies and kindred. Not
Rhoecus only instinctively bruises the ambassador bee, and stifles
the immortal message.

If the Oriental religions have any mission to discharge in our
behalf, let them teach us speedily, through any gracious superstition
whatsoever, their grave respect for animal life. When we are
thoroughly converted, we shall not only cease to vivisect, but
manumit our slaves of the exhibition-hall and the Zoo: we shall
hear no longer from the lion-house the fell foreboding sound, as of
Vercingetorix, Jugurtha, Zenobia, all together, imploring the gods
for vengeance upon Rome. The captives have borne their fate, yet not
quite dispassionately. They lose, behind bars, day by day, something
of themselves hard to part with; and they know it: but they are no
atheists. Outside is the hateful city, but the sun also, bringing
strange fancies to them as it crosses the threshold. So much lies
back of them, in that cell of humiliation, where they were not born!
What if there should be freedom again for them, beyond death? Some
thought as profound surges this morning in a vast antiphonal cry
among the tanks and cages, and shakes, in passing, the soul of man.

     "O socii, neque enim ignari sumus ante malorum,
     O passi graviora! dabit deus his quoque finem."

  1896.



ON TEACHING ONE'S GRANDMOTHER HOW TO SUCK EGGS


IN the days of the Schoolmen, when no vexed question went without
its fair showing, it seems incredible that the important thesis
hereto affixed as a title went a-begging among those hair-splitting
philosophers. Since Aristotle himself overlooked it, Duns Scotus
and the noted Paracelsus, Aureolus Philip Theophrastus Bombast de
Hohenheim himself, were content to repeat his sin of omission. Even
Sir Thomas Browne, "the horizon of whose understanding was much
larger than the hemisphere of this world," neither unearthed the
origin of this singular implied practice, nor attempted in any way
to uphold or depreciate it. The phrase hath scarce the grace of an
Oriental precept, and scarce the dignity of Rome. It might sooner
appertain to Sparta, where the old were held in reverence, and where
their education, in a burst of filial anxiety, might be prolonged
beyond the usual term of mental receptivity.

It is reserved therefore, for some modern inquirer to establish,
whether the strange accomplishment in mind was at any time, in any
nation, barbarous or enlightened, in universal repute among venerable
females; or else especially imparted, under the rose, as a sort of
witch-trick, to conjurers, fortune-tellers, pythonesses, sibyls, and
such secretive and oracular folk; whether the initiatory lessons were
theoretical merely; and at what age the grandams (for the condition
of hypermaternity was at least imperative) were allowed to begin
operations.

It is a partial argument against the antiquity of the custom, and
against the supposition of its having prevailed among old Europe's
nomadic tribes, that several of these are accused by historians of
having destroyed their progenitors so soon as the latter became idle
and enfeebled: whereas it is reasonably to be inferred that the
gentle process of ovisugescence, had such then been invented, would
have kept the savage fireside peopled with happy and industrious
centenarians. After the arduous labor of their long lives, this
new, leisurely, mild, and genteel trade could be acquired with
imperceptible trouble. Cato mastering Greek at eighty, Dandolo
leading hosts when past his October, are kittenish and irreverend
figures beside that of a toothless Goth grandmother, learning, with
melancholy energy, to suck eggs.

We know not why the privilege of education, if granted to them
without question, should have been withheld from their gray spouses,
who certainly would have preferred so sociable an industry to
whetting the knives of the hunters, or tending watch-fires by night.
But no one of us ever heard of a grandfather sucking eggs. The gentle
art was apparently sacred to the gentle sex, and withheld from the
shaggy lords of creation, by whom the innutritious properties of the
shell were happily unsuspected.

By what means was the race of hens, for instance, preserved?
Statistics might be proffered concerning the ante-natal consumption
of fledglings, which would edify students of natural history.
One bitterly-disputed point, the noble adage under consideration
permanently settles; a quibble which ought to have

     "staggered that stout Stagyrite,"

and which has come even to the notice of grave inductive theologians:
_videlicet_, that the bird, and not the egg, may claim the priority
of existence. For had it been otherwise, one's grandmother would
been early acquainted with the very article which her posterity
recommended to her as a novelty, and which, with respectful care,
they taught her to utilize, after a fashion best adapted to her time
of life.

Fallen into desuetude is this judicious and salutary custom. There
must have been a time when a yellowish stain about the mouth denoted
an age, a vocation, a limitation, effectually as did the bulla of the
lad, the maiden's girdle, "the marshal's truncheon, or the judge's
robe," or any of the picturesque distinctions now crushed out of
the social code. But the orthodox sucking of eggs, the innocent,
austere, meditative pastime, is no more, and the glory of grandams is
extinguished forever.

The dreadful civility of our western woodsmen, the popular
dissentient voice alike of the theatre and of the political
meeting,--the casting of eggs wherefrom the element of youth is
wholly eliminated, affords a speculation on heredity, and appears to
be a faint echo of some traditional squabble in the morning of the
world, among disagreeing kinswomen; the very primordial battle, where
reloading was superfluous, where every shell told, whose blackest
spite was spent in a golden rain and hail. What havoc over the face
of young creation; what coloring of pools, and of errant butterflies!
What distress amid the cleanly pixies and dryads, whose shady haunts
trickled unwelcome moisture: a terror not unshared in the recesses of
the coast:--

     "_Intus aquæ dulces, vivoque sedilia saxo,
     Nympharum domus._"

One can fancy the younglings of the vast human family, the success
of whose lesson to their elders was thus over-well demonstrated,
marking the ebb and flow of hostilities, like the superb spirits
of Richelieu and the fourteenth Louis, eyeing the great Revolution.
What marvel, if, struck with remorse at the senile strife of the
"she-citizens," they vowed never, never to teach another grandmother
to suck eggs! So it was, maybe, that the abused custom was lost from
the earth.

Nay, more; its remembrance is perverted into a taunt more scorching
than lightning, more silencing than the bolt of Jove. _Sus
Minervam_ is Cicero's elegant equivalent; and Partridge says to Tom
Jones, quoting his old schoolmaster: "Polly Matete cry town is my
daskalon": the English whereof runneth: Teach your grandmother how
to suck eggs! Is not the phrase the cream of scorn, the catchword
of insubordination, the blazing defiance of tongues unbroken as a
one-year's colt? It grated strangely on our ear. We grieved over the
transformation of a favorite saw, innocuous once, and conveying a
meek educational suggestion. We came to admit that the Academe where
the old sat at the feet of their descendants, to be ingratiated into
the most amiable of professions, was nothing better, in memory, than
an impertinence. And we sadly avowed, in the underground chamber of
our private heart, that, as for worldly prospects, it would be fairly
suicidal, all things considered, to aspire now to the chair of that
professorship.

Let some reformer, who cherishes his ancestress, and who is not
averse to break his fast on an omelet, dissuade either object of
his regard from longer lending name and countenance to a vulgar
sneer. Shall such be thy mission, reader? We would wish the extended
acquaintance with that mysterious small cosmos which suggests to the
liberal palate broiled wing and giblets _in posse_; and joy for many
a year of thy parent's parent, who is in some sort thy reference and
means of identification, the hub of thy far-reaching and more active
life; but, prithee, wrench apart their sorry association in our
English speech. Purists shall forgive thee if thou shalt, meanwhile,
smile in thy sleeve at the fantastic text which brought them together.

  1885.



WILFUL SADNESS IN LITERATURE


     "Leave things so prostitute,
     And take the Alcaic lute!"
                          BEN JONSON.

MR. MATTHEW ARNOLD, in the preface to the first edition of his
collected poems (1853) withdrew from circulation, and gave reasons
for withdrawing, his splendid _Empedocles on Etna_. Nothing in Mr.
Arnold's career did him more honor than that fine scrupulousness
leading him to decry his dramatic masterpiece as too mournful, too
introspective, too unfruitful of the cheer and courage which it is
the business of poets to give to the world. He says of it, that it
belongs to a class of faulty representations "in which suffering
finds no vent in action; in which a continuous state of mental
distress is prolonged, unrelieved by incident, hope, or resistance;
in which there is everything to be endured, nothing to be done.
In such situations there is inevitably something morbid, in the
description of them something monotonous. When they occur in actual
life, they are painful, not tragic: the representation of them in
poetry is painful also." The same verdict that condemns the stagnant
sadness of _Empedocles_, reacts upon Clough's _Dipsychus_, to some of
us the most attractive of modern monodies, on Marlowe's _Faustus_,
and on _Hamlet_ itself. But every one of these is an inestimable
experience to the happy and the virtuous who love the intimate study
of humanity, and are made, by the perusal, more thoughtful and
tender. On none but general considerations, could Mr. Arnold have
attempted to suppress _Empedocles_. The great rules of æsthetics, as
for ethics, must be for the many, not for the few; and the many are
neither happy nor virtuous: and it may well seem a sort of treachery
in a man of genius to speak aloud at all, in our vast society of the
desponding and the unspiritual, unless he can speak the helping word.
This cannot be sufficiently insisted upon before young writers,
who are too ready to burst in upon us with their Ahs and Welladays,
and to set up, at twenty, for jaded cynics, and lovers who have
loved, according to their own pinched measure, too well. Some public
censor, a Stoic having a heart, and perfect control of it, should
be appointed, in every township, to kill off whatever is uselessly
doleful, in the egg, and spread abroad the right idea of what is fit
to be uttered in this valley of tears. The elect should be supplied
with Empedocleian extras: but the multitude which can be impressed
by their intrinsic evil should never be incited to approach their
extrinsic beauty.

The play which leaves us miserable and bewildered, the harrowing
social lesson leading nowhere, the transcript from commonplace
life in which nothing is admirable but the faithful skill of the
author,--these are bad morals because they are bad art. With them
ranks the invertebrate poetry of two and three generations ago, which
has bequeathed its sickly taint to its successor in popular favor,
our modern minor fiction. Authors are, in a sense, the universal
burden-bearers: those who can carry much vicariously, without
posing or complaining. Mr. Arnold's penance for his melancholy is a
noble spectacle; and it will always do what he feared _Empedocles_
would fail to do, "inspirit and rejoice the reader." The ancients
stepped securely in this matter of sadness; for piety, retribution,
awe, spring from every agony of Oedipus and Orestes. Many of
the Elizabethan dramas are dark and terrible; but they compel men
to think, and teach more humanities than a university course. Mr.
Meredith's influence, in our own day, is not such as will induce you
to sit shaking your maudlin head over yourself and all creation;
neither--need it be added?--is Mr. Stevenson's. Mr. Henry James has
just said of Mr. Lowell: "He is an erect fighting figure on the side
of optimism and beauty." What made Browning exceedingly popular at
last, was his courage in overthrowing blue devils.

               "What had I on earth to do
     With the slothful, with the mawkish, the unmanly?"

His many and unique merits have small share in the result.

Now, wilful sadness, as Plato thinks, as the Schoolmen heartily
thought after him, is nothing less than an actual crime. Sadness
which is impersonal, reluctantly uttered, and adjusted, in the
utterance, to the eternal laws, is not so. It is well to conceal the
merely painful, as did the Greek audiences and the masters of their
drama. That critic would be crazy, or excessively sybaritic, who
would bar out the tragic from the stage, the studio, the orchestra,
or the library shelf. Melancholy, indeed, is inseparable from the
highest art. We cannot wish it away; but we can demand a mastery
over it in the least, as well as in the greatest: a melancholy like
that of Burns, truth itself, native dignity itself; or the Virgilian
melancholy of Tennyson in his sweet broodings over the abysses of our
unblest life, and the turn of his not hopeless thought and phrase.
We can demand, in these matters, the insincerity of the too-little,
rather than the cant of the too-much. The danger of expressing
despondency is extreme. The maudlin shoots like a parasite from the
most moving themes, and laughter dogs us in our rapt mood. It was
not without reason that Thackeray made fun of Werther. What Sidney
sweetly calls--

     "Poore Petrarch's long-deceasèd woes,"

stirred up the scepticism of one Leigh Hunt, and of the indelicate
public after him. No poet can put fully into words the ache and
stress of human passion: no very wise poet will ever try to do so,
save by the means of reserves, elisions, evasions. The pathos which
goes deep is generally a plain statement, not a reflection. The old
ballad, _Waly, Waly_, for instance, is a terrible thing to get away
from, dry-eyed. Nothing is so poignant, at times, in poetry, as a
mere obituary announcement. Hear the long throbbing lines of the old
elegy supposed to be by Fulke Greville, Lord Brooke:

     "Learning her light hath lost, Valor hath slain her knight:
     Sidney is dead, dead is my friend, dead is the world's delight."

Or Chapman:

     "For now no more of Oeneus' race survived: they all were gone.
     No more his royal self did live; no more his noble son,
     The golden Meleager now: their glasses all were run."

The heartbreaking climax of _Lear_, the bursting-point of so much
grandeur and so much suffering, is a dying commonplace almost
grotesque: "Pray you, undo this button." But to harrow us is
another affair altogether. Plato could never forgive a subject
not inevitable, chosen simply because it is in itself piteous or
startling, and invites the rhetorical gabble which its creator, after
one fashion or another, can spend upon it.

The French and their followers have driven us into a demand for
decency, and unmuzzled pessimism is no more decent than the things
oftener named and contested by our worthiest critics. What use have
we for any Muse, be she the most accomplished in the world, who
lives but to be, in a charming phrase of Southey's, "soothed with
delicious sorrow"? Art has little to do with her: for art is made
of seemly abstinences. The moment it speaks out fully, lets us know
all, ceases to represent a choice and a control of its own material,
ceases to be, in short, an authority and a mystery, and prefers to
set up for a mere Chinese copy of life,--just so soon its birthright
is transferred. "I answer paradoxically, but truly, I think truly,"
that even Beauty has her responsibilities, and Art her ideals of
conduct. Nay, she has her definite dogma. "Our only chance," says
Addington Symonds in a private letter to Robert Louis Stevenson,
"seems to me to maintain, against all appearances, that evil can
never, and in no way, be victorious."

We owe our gratitude to the men of letters who deliberately undertake
to be gay: for nobody expects unconscious and spontaneous gayety in
books nowadays. The modern spirit has seen to that. No thanks of
ours are too good even for the bold bad Mr. Henley, who is so acrid
towards Americans: for he is the one living poet already famous,
who has struck, and means to strike, the very note of "How happy is
he born and taught," and "Shall I, wasting in despair." But if our
dilettantes lament a withered wildflower, or praise a young face,
they feel that they have done enough towards clearing the air, and
justifying "the ways of God to man." It is inconvenient to have
the large old fundamental feelings: to be energetic, or scornful,
or believing. The fashionable poetic utterance is dejected, and
of consummate refinement; _le besoin de sentir_ is about it like a
strange fragrance. We have had disheartening modern music, and of
the highest order, too long. Beginning with Byron, and, in a far
different manner, with Shelley, we may count those problems of our
life few indeed which have lacked the poor solution of a protest or a
tear. Wordsworth was the last great man

     ----"contented if he might enjoy
     The things that others understand."

Yet Wordsworth counts for little in this case, since he had no marked
constitutional sensitiveness. The lyres of "Parnaso mount" have
grown passive and unpartisan. They have ceased to rouse us, and we
have ceased to wonder at them because of it. To sigh, to scowl, to
whimper, is the ambition of minstrels in the magazines; of the three,
whimpering is the favorite. Now, to "make a scene" is not mannerly,
even on paper. Before the implacable Fates we may as well be
collected. It seems less than edifying to ask the cold one, though in
enchanting numbers, whether her bosom be of marble, or of her ghost
whether it will not visit us in the garden. Yet such attitudinizing
pathos, impossible so long as faith was general, and true emotion
therefore unexhausted, the pathos of the decadence, the exaggeration
of normal moods and affectation of more than is felt, _l'expression
forte des sentiments faibles_,--is the prevailing feature of current
verse. Rather, to be quite accurate, it was the prevailing feature a
moment ago. There are, in the east, other portents more significant.
It is indicative not only of his middle age, but of something
touching ourselves and our to-morrow, that Mr. Swinburne, let us
say, is less stormy and maledictionary, and longs not so incessantly
to be laid in the exquisite burial-places of his imagination. They
that wail well in duodecimo may presently be accused of giddiness
and shallow thought. For literature, at last, is picking up heart:
health and spring and fight are re-establishing themselves. Out of
the alcoves of time, certain sunny faces of old look fatherly and
smiling, as the vapors disperse. Hail also, young meek out-riders,
morning-colored contemporaries! At least, you are of excellent
cheer. You have done with sourness, and

                   ----"hear it sweep
     In distance down the dark and savage vale."

Change is at hand. The Maypole is up in Bookland.

  1892.



  AN INQUIRENDO INTO THE
    WIT AND OTHER GOOD
    PARTS OF HIS LATE
      MAJESTY, KING
       CHARLES THE
         SECOND


     SCENE: Saint James's Park, on the afternoon of the
     twenty-ninth of May. Edward Clay, with a twig of oak stuck
     in his hat is on the bank of the little lake, feeding the
     water-fowl. Percy Wetherell, a fellow-author, and Rhoda,
     his wife, who are crossing the bridge, perceive him.

MRS. WETHERELL

See! there's our dear Mr. Clay. What is he doing that for?

WETHERELL

The motive must be pure benevolence. Give me a little start, and I
will run him down. [_Followed by Rhoda, he goes down the steps,
close to his friend's shoulder, observes the decoration, and utters
in a sepulchral tone: "Long live Oliver!" Clay looks up, and smiles,
still breaking his biscuit. Finally he speaks_:]

CLAY

You have guessed it: I am keeping Restoration Day. It struck me as
a pleasing rite to come up here and feast the descendants of King
Charles the Second's water-fowl. I have to lecture on him to-night.

MRS. WETHERELL

King Charles the Second! Why, Mr. Clay, I thought he was the
dreadfullest person!

WETHERELL

Easy now, my only love: don't hurt Edward's little feelings. He is a
notorious Carolian specialist, a quasi-Cavalier, a pre-Jacobite, a
seventeenth-centurion, and all that.

MRS. WETHERELL

Oh! a Royalist, a White Rose man? I never dreamed it.

CLAY

Nothing so concrete, Mrs. Wetherell. Only, you see, I honestly like
the rogue; people don't understand him. If I had your husband's
leisure, I should never rest until I had moused in the archives at
first hand, and said the authentic last good word for him. There
would be no end of fun in it, and fun and justice are a fine pair.

WETHERELL

That green bird on your boot will choke himself. It is wonderful how
tame they are!--I thought you knew more than anybody alive, on that
subject, these ten years.

CLAY

I might say with Margaret, Duchess of Newcastle: "I have thought more
than I have read, and read more than I have written."

MRS. WETHERELL

Do you really mean to make people like him? They taught us in the
school-books that he was a bad good-for-nothing king.

WETHERELL

Perhaps, as Mark Twain might allege, he did not choose to consider
himself as being in "the king business." He was a choice wag, at any
rate.

CLAY

Yes: though not much worse than you. And he was the last Mind we have
seen, or shall ever see, on the throne.

WETHERELL

Owch! Treason! She is all she should be, God bless her.

CLAY

[_Laughing._] Allowed. I was contending that Charles the Second
had wit, and a keen survey of men and things: he had the
literary-philosophic turn, in short. He wasn't good, he wasn't
beautiful, he wasn't much of a Protestant, or a Constitutional
Sovereign; but it is my long-standing theory that he was an indolent
original genius of the first water, and a fine character spoiled.
Here, billy, quack, quack, quack!

WETHERELL

Your indolent original point of view! I don't deny we have some
pretty valuable bequests from that bacchanalian reign: the Habeas
Corpus Act, for instance. But Charles himself! Who is a neater Pocket
Compendium of all the vices? How are you going to excuse him? Because
he was weak?

CLAY

Why do you think he must be excused? My pious intention is only to
extra-illustrate him: "naught extenuate, and naught set down in
malice." I mean to provide the ordinary listener at the Institute
with a little dispassionate extra acquaintanceship, pleasant in its
nature, with the gentleman in question; and I distinctly mean not
to tamper with what knowledge of him he may have acquired on other
themes, and from other sources. You see how sly a plan of campaign it
is. But your adjective, Wetherell, will never do. Weak? Where did you
hear that fiddle-faddle? He had the most tremendous will. Repeatedly,
and with the greatest severity and despatch, he took matters over
into his own hands; and very often he was right, and ahead of
contemporary policy. Look at the way he prorogued Parliament, in the
May of 1679, after the famous quarrel over the trial of the five
lords; the way he rejected the application of the Roos divorce bill,
shaped so as to give himself latitude and precedent; his speech in
the Upper House, insisting on holding to the terms of pardon which he
had offered from Breda; his letters to the young Duke of Gloucester,
when there was rumor of a change of religion; or, to come to smaller
and uglier matters, look at his obstinate maintenance of his right to
appoint the ladies of the Queen's bedchamber, his whole inexcusable
treatment of the great Chancellor. Weak! Haven't you read Green?
Green, who comes down hard on him, would sooner have you think him an
accomplished tyrant, and so should I.

WETHERELL

Ungrateful, then. He was ungrateful to the very people who brought
about the Restoration, wasn't he?--Rhoda, these swans are actually
fatter than Lord Whidbourne's. (Do you like to hear Clay talk? I am
egging him on; it does me good.)

MRS. WETHERELL

I shall ask him to dinner, Percy, to atone for you. Yes: it is great
to find so much animation expended on dead issues.

CLAY

Never wilfully ungrateful, that I can see. Think of the times, think
of the hue and cry after indemnities and offices; think of the
million million services, little and great, reported, invented,
exaggerated, and real, all being urged together, on the day when
fortune first smiled on the King. Could any one man satisfy such
greed? Might not any one man get confused in such a muddle of
beseeching hungry hands, and despair of ever dealing justly, save
with the few he knew and remembered? And those he never forgot: not
the least Penderell among them.

WETHERELL

How about the epigram,--Barrow's, wasn't it? A very good hit: let me
see. _Te magis_, that's it:

     _Te magis optavit rediturum, Carole, nemo:
          Et nemo sensit te rediisse minus._

CLAY

That is just the sort of dig Charles enjoyed. It isn't malicious.
He was immensely amused by the protestations of the realm which,
according to its own tale, had prayed for him, longed for him, and
labored to bring him to his own again. He said ironically: "The
fault is plainly mine that I came not before." How did he keep his
patience through the incessant begging? He must have suffered more
than a newly-elected president in America. As it was, he granted
innumerable pardons, and restitutions, and awards, "hearing anybody
against anybody," and sure to be of propitious bent when petitions
forced their way into his own hand. But he kept no memoranda. Or,
as his apologist, Roger North, put it in capital plain Saxon, "he
never would break his Head with Business." Long before there was
much chance of his securing his succession to the crown, the hints
of his adherents fell about him as thick as snow-flakes. Hasn't he
told us how the country innkeeper, alone with him a moment, during
his fugitive days, read him through his disguise? "He kissed my hand
that was upon the back of the chair, and said to me: 'God bless you
wherever you go, for I do not doubt, before I die, to be a lord,
and my wife a lady.' So I laughed and went away.... He proved very
honest." That same innkeeper must have turned up, two hundred strong
at least, at Whitehall. Again, you know how poor the King was, and
how estates and emoluments had been parcelled out, and tied up,
during the Protectorate. He had actually nothing, at first, to give.

WETHERELL

Except scandal.

CLAY

Irrelevant!

WETHERELL

And, of course, the immortal house-warming: a gift to the
imaginations of all Englishmen forever. I am sorry I wasn't there
myself.

CLAY

O that day! What a wonderful procession it must have been, from
London Bridge to Whitehall, through what Evelyn, in his Diary, so
beautifully calls "a lane of happy faces," and troops pressing to
their lips the hilts of their weapons, and waving them overhead, in a
unique salutation; the King, whom the Speaker of the House of Commons
was about to address as King of Hearts, riding, on his thirtieth
birthday, between his brothers of York and Gloucester, past the long
waving of scarfs and glitter of rapiers, bowing to left and right,
like a dark pine in the wind; the saddle-cloths of purple and gold,
the salvos, the tears, "the ways strewn all with flowers, bells
ringing, steeples hung with tapestries, fountains running with wine,
trumpets, music, and myriads of people flocking; and two hundred
thousand horse and foot brandishing their swords, and shouting with
inexpressible joy."

WETHERELL

Yes; joy with a bill of expenses. England clamored against the
Judges, and for the King; and, like Saul, he came: tall, robust,
keen, suave, comely, with the curse of retrogression behind him.

MRS. WETHERELL

Hear the magnificent phrases!

CLAY

But they are true.

WETHERELL

Our collaborated Prose Works, specimen sheets.

MRS. WETHERELL

And to think you are all out of practice!

WETHERELL

Of what, shepherdess? Of truth?

MRS. WETHERELL

Mr. Clay, haven't you some more nice Charles-Secondy things to tell
me? I am so interested.

WETHERELL

More of your ingenious charities, Clay, by all means. Those
faithless ducks of yours are seceding to the children, and Rhoda and
I are out for a walk. Come, let us sink to the occasion. We might
pace up and down awhile, under the trees beyond, at the edge of the
old tilt-yard. Then let us all go together to the Abbey. We have
promised to meet two American relatives of Rhoda's, at half after
three. They wrote us that they arrived only yesterday; but your
homing pigeon of a Yankee always must make straight for the Abbey.
Meanwhile, can't you give us a sort of rehearsal of that lecture?

MRS. WETHERELL

He will, he will!

CLAY

I haven't all my notes with me. You are sure it won't tire you?

WETHERELL

Never. I love the æsthetic point of view. If any man remind me now
that my father was a Whig, I will bray at him.

CLAY

Well, well, nice of you, I'm sure. You know my idea is just to
present a special plea. How will you have me begin? I can't go on
automatically, as if you were the Public Eye.

WETHERELL

Oh, anecdotes: or his witticisms. There must be scores of them
running wild. Leave out the done-to-death ones. Cut me no sirloin,
sirrah; starve me no Nellies.

CLAY

I believe "Sir Loin" to be spurious. It belongs with ever so many
Charles Lamb puns, sayable enough, only not said by the sayer.

WETHERELL

There isn't much chance for a king who has a genius for concise
conversation.

CLAY

No. He doesn't get reported correctly, for one thing. How could
Sir Walter, weighted as he was, as writers of his time were, by
the heavy-artillery ideas of diction, reproduce, in _Peveril_ or
_Woodstock_, this light super-civilized fashion of speech, supple
and stinging as a whip? And no writer of fiction since, has quite
captured it, except Mr. Marriott Watson. You remember that episode
in _Galloping Dick_? Exquisite! Charles the Second's talk is
altogether the most admirable thing about him: though courtly, it
had none of the circumlocutions of courtliness; it was exclusive and
pertinent. "All this," as Walton sweetly says of Donne, "with a most
particular grace, and an inexpressible addition of comeliness." The
King's only long story, which for years he was always ready to tell
from the beginning, "ever embellished," says mischievous Buckingham,
"with some new circumstance," and which was wont to gather a knot
of listeners old and new, was the story of his adventures after
the battle of Worcester, in 1650. No heartier romance exists of
pluck and patience, save the later record, so like it, of Prince
Charlie's hardships, and his heroism under them; and its author's
attachment to his only novel is simply a connoisseurship, a piece of
esoteric appreciation: he took and gave delight with such thrilling
biographical details as might have come from the mouth of Odysseus
himself. His short sayings are all sterling, and his nicknames stuck
like burs. Mr. Henry Bennet, afterwards Earl of Arlington, the grave
and too inductive gentleman who so moved the mirth of Miss Frances
Stuart, was "Whereas" to his royal master; the yacht named after the
stout Duchess of Portsmouth, the yacht to whose great sheets the
King and the Duke of York sprang "like common seamen," in a terrible
storm once, off the Kentish coast, was known far and wide as "The
Fubbs." Another joke about "Hans in Keldar," patronizing the ice-fair
on the Thames, and inscribing his name there among the visitors, one
need not recall too circumstantially. The Queen Dowager, Henrietta
Maria, was always "Mam," to her perfectly respectful and solicitous
eldest son; in an alliteration like an early English poet's, he
congratulated his sister on her recovery from a grave illness,
"between Mam's Masses, and M. de Mayerne's pills." His little
portraitures of people, his given reason for a human like or dislike,
his insight into character, and his gently sarcastic turn of phrase
in expressing it,--are they not all superior things of their kind?
He felt it impossible to marry a princess out of Germany: she would
be "so dull and foggy." Of Isaac Vossius, the imperfect sceptic,
Charles said: "Voss refuses to believe nothing, save the Bible." A
celebrated man of affairs, then a deft page at court, won this neat
encomium: "Sidney Godolphin is never in the way, and never out of the
way." Sedley, shining Sedley, whom Charles greatly liked, he dubbed
"Apollo's viceroy." His "Save the Earl of Burford!" when riding under
the window whence Mistress Eleanor Gwynne ironically offered to throw
her small son, since she had no name to call him by, is like the
very finest _coup de théâtre_, and too like him not to be true. This
climate he rated as the best climate, "because it gives the greatest
number of out-of-door days." Not so thought Charles of Orleans,
long before him, arraigning English weather from the standpoint
of its unwilling guest, as at all times "prejudicial to the human
frame." And every one knows the inimitable apology of Charles to his
watchers, for "being so unconscionably long a-dying."

Unlike most wits, he preferred dialogue to monologue. His gravity
and authority were so fixed, his merriment so obviously local and
temporal, that repartee was part of his game; he winced at nothing,
and often accepted, with excellent grace, sharper thrusts than his
own. It is sometimes repeated that he was angered by Rochester's
incomparable epigram, pinned to his chamber door:

     "Here lies our sovereign lord the King,
       Whose word no man relies on;
     Who never said a foolish thing,
       Nor ever did a wise one."

But we have on record his amusing and sufficient footnote, that
his sayings were his own, and his doings were his ministers'.
(This answer, by the way, must have been made to fit the occasion,
and the gay exigency of it, for he was exceedingly jealous of
his unused prerogative. "I assure you," he writes to one of his
family, about 1668, "that my lord of Buckingham does not govern
affairs here." And Clarendon attests later, that "he abhorred to be
thought to be governed by any single person.") At Whitehall, as the
gentlemen-in-waiting laid the plates before the King, they bent a
knee. "You see how they serve me," Charles said pleasantly to his
guest, the Chevalier de Grammont. "I thank your Majesty for the
explanation," that accomplished wag replied, "for I thought they
were begging your Majesty's pardon for so bad a dinner." No reply at
all, were it but pungent, offended him. "Shaftesbury, Shaftesbury,
I do believe thou art the wickedest fellow in my dominions!" "Of a
subject, Sire, mayhap I am." "Killigrew, whither goest thou, booted
and spurred?" "To Hell, to fetch up Oliver to look after the welfare
of the English." As a monitor, this same lewd, lying, scribbling,
kindly, music-loving Killigrew was almost as successful with Charles
as was Nell Gwynne. For sharp sensible comment went home to him; he
saw a point none the less because it told against him. "Such ability
and understanding has Charles Stuart," growled the man who was called
his jester, "that I do long to see him employed as King of England."
Libels and satires had small sting for him. Mistress Holford, a young
lady of the court, seated in her own apartment, warbles _Old Rowley_,
the ballad of close but inelegant libel, at the top of her silvery
voice. A rap comes at the outer door, from one strolling by. "Who's
there?" she asks, with unconcern. "Old Rowley himself, Madam!" in the
"plump bass" of Carolus Secundus. Nothing much more diverting ever
happened to him than the inverted salute of a worthy citizen, who
once ran along in the street, beside his coach, with a half-formed
fervent "God bless your Majesty!" upon his lips: the spaniel pup on
his Majesty's knee, suddenly reaching out, gave the man a nip, and
caused the ready benison to blurt forth incontinently as "God bl--amn
your dogs!" The well-worn tradition of Master Busby of Westminster
School reversing conditions with the King, is characteristic on both
sides: Charles all humor and toleration, the little man stiffened
with conscious reputation, to be upheld at all costs, and heroically
wearing his cap before the face of visiting royalty, "lest the boys
should think there lived a greater than myself." And was it not a
prettier pass yet, between the monarch and his impregnable Quaker who
wanted a charter? Penn came to his first audience with his hat, on
the principle of unconvention and equality, firmly fixed upon his
brows. Presently the King, having moved apart from the attendants,
in his gleaming dress, slowly and ceremoniously bared his head.
Penn interrupted his own plea. "Friend Charles, why hast taken off
thy hat?" "Because it has so long been the custom here," said the
other, with that peculiar lenient smile of his, "for but one person
to remain covered at a time." (It strikes one that a little of this
humor would have saved his father from much woe on a not dissimilar
occasion in the Commons; and, indeed, throughout.) Equally charming
was his behavior, on being laid hold of, by the hiccoughing Lord
Mayor,--Vyner, wasn't that his name?--who insisted that he should
come back and "finish t'other bottle." Charles, instead of glowering,
hummed a line of an old song, a synopsis of the difficult situation
to the company, which none other but he could have given with any
grace:

     "The man that is Drunke is as good as a King!"

and sat again. He never became, as his tutor, the loyal Duke of
Newcastle, feared, "seared with majestie."

The Lord's Anointed liked to forego his authority, and come as a mere
spectator into a session of Parliament. "'Tis as good as a play,"
the provoking creature said. He would get down from his throne in
the Lords, to stand with folded arms by the hearth, drawing a group
around him, and breaking up the order and impressiveness of the
place. Those really interested in statecraft, whose fond incubations
he so overturned, must have found him an _enfant terrible_ to an
incorrigible degree. A memorandum-book, to be seen in one of the
cases at the Bodleian, lies open at a bit of scribbled correspondence
between himself and his Chancellor, passed from one to the other in
the middle of debate. The King's share is as wayward and roguish as
Sterne could have made it.

--"I would willingly make a visite to my sister at tunbridge, for a
night or two at farthest. When do you thinke I can best spare that
time?"

--"I know no reason why you may not, for such a tyme (two nights) go
the next weeke about Wednsday or Thursday, and return tyme enough
for the adiournement, which you ought to do the weeke following. I
suppose you will goe with a light Trayne."

--"I intend to take nothing but my night-bag."

--"God, you will not go without forty or fifty horses?"

--"I counte that part of my night-bag."

The young fugitive at Boscobel, a more willing Alfred, insisted on
preparing supper, and produced "Scots collops," with Colonel Careless
for under-cook. His minute solicitude for others, at this time and
after, in the stress of his own troubles, left indelible impress
on many hearts. He was at his bravest on the open road, and in the
secret manor and the oak tree: the odd situations became him as if
he were King of the Romany. For ceremony and trammels of all kinds
he had a thorough disrelish, and passed his time but resignedly
amid "the pomp of music and a host of bowing heads." Cosmo III.,
Grand Duke of Tuscany, relates, in his book of travels, that at a
state banquet at Whitehall, the host privily requested that his
chair be removed and changed, because it was conspicuously the
most comfortable in the room. Could informality farther go? But
Charles maintained his gay grace and easy simplicity deliberately,
and in conjunction with decisive dignity. With mere standoffishness
he had nothing to do. Sir Walter Besant tells us in his _London_:
"The palace was accessible to all; the guard stood at the gate,
but everybody was admitted, as to a town; the King moved freely
about the courts, in the mall, in the parks, sometimes unattended.
The people drove their packhorses or their waggons up and down the
road, and hardly noticed the swarthy-faced man who stood under the
shade of a tree, watching the players along the mall. This easy and
fearless familiarity vanished with the Stuarts." Whosoever wished
it, might see his sovereign dance the brantle, perhaps with the
young delicate-footed Italian Duchess, his brother's wife; or hear
him tell over the "grouse-in-the-gunroom" stories of his Scotch
captivity. Here at home he went his way, with a nod, a smile, and
a word for all: "a far more successful kingcraft," says Macaulay,
"than any his father or grandfather had practised." In the beginning,
Charles had a beggarly income, and whimsically complained of it.
"What troubles me most, is to see so many of you come to me to
Whitehall, and to think that you must go somewhere else to seek your
dinner!" He was hostile only to "fuss and feathers," the dry husk
of social laws. He had his father's instinct for what was beautiful
and imposing. At his coronation, he revived for the last time, and
with its most august splendors, the ancient custom of procession
from the Tower to the Abbey: a personal revelation, moreover, of
that generous kindness towards the common people, which made them
adore him. He also endeavored, though in vain, to re-establish the
masque, the most charming form of court entertainment, intertwined
with all manner of old fragrant poetic associations. At his coming,
he found the Maypoles down, the shows over, races, dances, and
merry-hearted sports cut short; the theatres were dismantled, and
the sole appreciation that actors got, or hoped for, was at the
whipping-post. His first thought was for the London parks and
drives; his second, for the London stage. The way was soon cleared
for those dramas which managers must now handle, as Thoreau handled a
certain newspaper, "with cuffs turned up"; but these, despite their
build and basis, have never been surpassed for wit, vitality, and
mastery of incident. The plays seen by our friends Mr. and Mrs. Pepys
from the middle gallery, were nearly all equipped at the expense
of the King and gentry, and were brought out with nice details of
costly scenery and costuming. Charles, Queen Catherine, and the Duke
of York even gave their coronation suits to the actors. When Nokes
played Sir Arthur Addle, in 1670, before the beautiful Duchess of
Orleans, young Monmouth, beautiful as she, loosened the jewelled
sword and belt which he wore, and enthusiastically clasped them upon
the comedian, proud of both to his dying day. Charles originated the
plot of Crowne's sprightly production, _Sir Courtly Nice_ (the King
died the night of its final rehearsal), and also that of Dryden's
_Secret Love_: he was very vain of the latter when it was nobly
cast, in 1666, and always delighted to have it called his play.
He was responsible, in the same degree, for _Oronokoo_: for it was
he who first discerned, in the affecting tale of the West Indian
insurrection of slaves, led by an enslaved prince, choice material
for a tragedy.

He was no reader, no student, in the usual sense: he read folk, and
not folios. Newcastle had written him, then the child Prince of
Wales: "Whensoever you are too studious, your contemplation will
spoil your government; for you cannot be a good contemplative man,
and a good commonwealth's man. Therefore take heed of too much
book." Never was tutor eventually better obeyed. Charles was a
shrewd observer; he could sift ambassadors, ministers, and "persons
of quality," as ably as Elizabeth herself; and remain, the while,
impervious as rock. His early education was neglected: he was forced
too soon into active life. Fortunately, he had the æsthetic bent of
his race: thought and travel taught this Oxonian, by easy processes,
all he knew. He became a good mathematician, and a good draughtsman;
he was something of an expert in anatomy; he perfectly understood
the sciences of fortification and shipping. He once invited his
beloved Prince Rupert to race "the two sloopes builte at Woolidge,
which have my invention in them." (It is to be hoped the landsman
Rupert of the Rhine did not command his crew, as Monk did, to wheel
to the left!) Charles was as thorough a sailor as his brother, and
would have made as fair a record on deck, had his lines been cast
there. Aboard "The Surprise" Tattersal averred that he directed the
course better than himself. It was this King who gave the charter
to the Royal Society, and founded the Observatory at Greenwich, as
well as the Mathematical School at Christ Hospital. Nor were these
things done perfunctorily, but from close personal interest. Charles
could gossip in several languages. His taste for chemistry was almost
as marked as his cousin Rupert's; and in the month he died, he was
running a process for fixing mercury. Cowley, before that period, had
lapsed into a pretty conceit about his liege lord in the laboratory.

     "Where, dreaming chemics, are your pain and cost?
     How is your toil, how is your labor lost!
     Our Charles, blest alchemist, (tho' strange,
     Believe it, future times!) did change
     The Iron Age of old
     Into this Age of Gold."

Dr. Burney remarks, and almost with justice, that the King seems
never to have considered music as anything but an incentive to
gayety. Catherine of Braganza had a genuine passion for the art,
and was its munificent patron so long as she remained in England.
It is well to remember, when Charles is accused of developing only
the newly-imported French music, that in his day cathedral organs
were re-established, and the way was opened for the return of those
beautiful choral services which had a potent successive influence
over Purcell, Croft, Bennet, Barnby, and which have forever enriched
themselves through association with these dedicated talents. The
King had examined the principles of Romanesque architecture with
some enthusiasm. No one followed Wren's great labor, after the Fire,
especially in S. Paul's, with closer attention; and when he had a
practical suggestion in mind, no one could have offered it more
modestly. It was not Charles the Second who hampered that great
man, and vexed his heart with mean conditions. He had a rational
admiration for Wren; it did not prevent him, however, from jesting on
occasion. The architect was a very little man, and the King a very
tall one. They had an amiable dispute at Winchester. "I think the
middle vault not high enough." "It is high enough, your Majesty."
With the same air, no doubt, the young Mozart contradicted his
Archduke: "The number of notes is not at all too many, but exactly
sufficient." In this case, the critic looked at the roof, and then
he looked at Wren. Presently, he crumpled himself up, and brought
his anointed person erect, within four feet of the floor, as if
from the other's illiberal point of view. "High enough, then, Sir
Christopher!" he said.

His relation to literary men was one of ample appreciation and
no pay. He is reported to have wished to buy the favor of George
Wither, and especially of Andrew Marvell: yet he never approximately
endeavored to discharge his long-standing debts to his own choir.
Sedley, Edmund Waller, Rochester, and the Roscommon of "unspotted
lays," were in no need of encouragement; but it would have befitted
Charles to do something for the others, before it was too late. It
seems to have been his purpose to make Wycherley tutor to the Duke of
Richmond, at fifteen hundred pounds a year, had not Wycherley, in the
nick of time, snubbed the King by marrying Lady Drogheda, and drifted
into the Fleet prison. The poets always returned his liking. Though
he was an entrancingly pat subject for pasquinades, even Marvell
touched him gently.

     "I'll wholly abandon all public affairs,
     And pass all my time with buffoons and with players,
     And saunter to Nelly when I should be at prayers.

     I'll have a fine pond, with a pretty decoy,
     Where many strange fowl shall feed and enjoy,
     And still in their language quack _Vive le roy_."

Charles, at his birth, came into the poetic atmosphere of his more
poetic father. When the latter set out, at the head of a triumphant
train, to return thanks at the Cathedral for his heir, the planet
Venus (_abstit omen!_) was clearly shining in the May-noon sky. The
people saw it, and were wild with superstitious delight; and they
recalled it at the Restoration. Festal lyres, because of it, were
struck with redoubled zest. "Bright Charles," Crashaw began; and old
Ben Jonson's voice arose in greeting:

                   "Blest be thy birth
     That hath so crowned our hopes, our spring, our earth."

And Francis Quarles, not long after, quaintly offered his _Divine
Fancies_ to the "royall budde," "acknowledging myself thy servant,
ere thou knowest thyself my Prince." Again, no sooner was Charles
the Second laid in his grave, than the flood of seventeenth-century
panegyric, which he had never invited, but held back considerably
while he lived, burst forth over England: unstemmed by any
compensating welcomes for the ascendant Duke of York. Dryden, in
his _Threnodia Augustalis_, Otway, Montagu, Earl of Halifax, and a
hundred lesser bards, intoned the requiem. Most of this prosody is
pretty flat: but it has feeling. One of Richard Duke's stanzas is
questionable enough; only the shortsightedness of genuine grief
can save it from worse than audacity. Following Dryden in his
quasi-invocation, he named the dead King as "Charles the Saint"; and
wherever the poor ghost chanced to be, that surely hurt him like an
arrow.

If he was not so protective as he might have been to his poets,
it was not owing to any parsimony on his part. He was by nature a
giver. The thrifty Teutons who inherited the throne and the royal
bric-à-brac have long begrudged divers treasures scattered by Charles
among persons and corporations of his individual fancy. While in
exile, he had sold his favorite horses, to provide comforts for his
suite; and in 1666, when he was in need of all he had, he allowed
nothing to interfere with his lavish and wisely-placed donations to
the houseless City. Perhaps he neglected the fees of literature, as
he neglected to put up a monument to his father's memory: not because
he failed to know his duties, but because he must have held your true
procrastinator's creed, and discovered, in the end, that what can
be done at any time gets done at no time. Dryden helps us to think,
however, that the King was not wholly oblivious of his bookmen:

     "Tho' little was their hive and light their gain,
     Yet somewhat to their share he threw."

Perhaps he was almost as liberal as his gaping pocket allowed.
Long-headed sirens, too, were battening on the national revenues,
and Charles had no strength of purpose left to withstand them. He
had bartered that for rose-leaves and musk and mandragora: eternal
quackeries which had never for an instant eased him of his sore
conscience. For downright hypocrisy (to which, with whatever wry
faces, he had to come), nothing in the snuffling deeps of Puritanism
can beat the wording of a clause in the grant made to Barbara,
Countess of Castlemaine, in 1670, when she received her magnificent
domains, titles, and pensions, "in consideration," as the patent
states, "of her noble descent, her father's death in the service
of the crown, and by reason of her personal virtues." This lady
"hectored the King's wits out of him." The reason is not far to
seek why Butler went hungry, and _deliciæ decus desiderium ævi
sui_, otherwise Abraham Cowley, Esquire, felt that his fidelity
was at a discount. Royalty occasionally tossed gold to its admired
Dryden, in the shape of several capital suggestions, which availed,
as we know. "Now, were I a poet (and I think I am poor enough to
be one), I should make a satire upon sedition." The parenthesis is
sympathetic. The knights of the ink-bottle were very welcome to
Whitehall; there was no class with which Charles, who was not a
promiscuous friend, liked better to surround himself. It is a pity
he did not have illustrious opportunity to associate with the best
of these altogether and forever, as his cousin of France did, as he
himself seemed born to do; for he had the patronal temperament. There
is a beautiful expression in Montesquieu, which might be applied
as sanctioning as a virtue the passive intellectual perception
of the Stuarts: "Que le prince ne craint point ses rivaux qu'on
appelle les hommes de mérite: il est leur égal dès qu'il les aime."
This is the principle of faith without good works. Charles the
Second, interpreted by it, ought to cut a rather fair figure before
posterity.

He was no stranger to a pen. How well he could employ it, his
speeches, letters, and despatches show. Grace and point are in
every line. He had, in fact, a curious neat mastery of words, not
to be excelled by most trained hands. Good pithy prose came easy
to him: which is a phenomenon, since nobody expects King's English
from a king. He had much to write, "and often in odd situations,"
as Mr. Disraeli the elder amicably adds. His performances in rhyme
seem to have been discredited by himself, and are, perhaps happily,
irrecoverable. Excellent David Lloyd, of Oriel, mentions "several
majestick Poems" of Charles's youth. He does not quote them.
"Majestick" reminds one of the reputed Muse paternal, pontificating
from Carisbrooke:

     "And teach my soul, that ever did confine
     Her faculties in Truth's seraphic line,
     To track the treason of Thy foes and mine."

The son's productions were not quite of this order, if we may judge
from a specimen given by Burney, in the appendix to his _History of
Music_. It is an artificial pastoral, in singable numbers, which
Pelham Humphrey took pains to set in D major.

Humphrey was an ex-chorister boy then newly come back from over seas,
to be "mighty thick with the King"; bringing with him French heresies
of time and tune. Charles had musical theories of his own; and
would sit absently in chapel, swaying his head to Master Humphrey's
rhythm, and laughing at a dissonance in the anthem before the singers
themselves were half-conscious of the slip. When he was not sleeping
there, he seems to have done a deal of laughing in chapel. On one
classic occasion, his father felt called upon to "hit him over the
head with his staff," in S. Mary the Virgin's, Oxford, "for laughing
at sermon-time upon the ladies that sat against him." He sang tenor
to Gostling's great bass: the Duke of York (afterwards James the
Second) accompanying them upon the guitar. His favorite song was an
English one, and a very grave one: Shirley's beautiful dirge in _The
Contention of Ajax and Ulysses_:

     "The glories of our birth and state
     Are shadows, not substantial things."

Many a time young Bowman was bidden to the solitary king, and chanted
those austere measures. The true semblance of the Merry Monarch,
undreamed-of by Gibbons or Lely, would be his portrait as he sat
listening, in a tapestried alcove, to the touching text on the vanity
of mortal pride, and the ever-during fragrance of "the actions of
the just": his little dogs at his feet, his dark eyes fixed on the
unconscious lad; the motley somehow fallen from him, and a momentary
truce set up between him and his defrauded thinking soul. How the
court which he had taught, the court with its sarcasms and sallies,
would have laughed at the preposterous situation! Yet, if he had any
outstanding spiritual characteristic, it was precisely this love for
serious and worthy things. His perception of human excellence was
never clouded. We all know his famous saying, which must have been
more than half in jest, and unallowable even so, that the "honor" of
every man and of every woman has its price. Yet this furious cynic
was a tender believer in disinterestedness, wherever he found it. Not
once or twice alone did he yield applause to a life which followed
virtue "higher than the sphery chime," though his cue lay not in that
part, though he went back on the morrow to the Hörselberg. From the
middle of the revelry which filled his opening years in London, he
stole away privately to Richmond, to kneel beside the dying Bishop
Duppa, and beg a blessing. He had a most deferent regard for Sir
William Coventry. Towards the close of his life, he was troubled
with memories of the fate of Sidney and Russell. He was not thinking
of intellectual achievement when he said: "I hear that Mr. Cowley
is dead. He hath left no better man behind him." He appreciated
something else beside the comeliness of the sweet Duchess of Grammont
(la belle Hamilton), when he wrote to his favorite sister in Paris:
"Be kinde to her: for besides the meritt her family has, she is
as good a creature as ever lived." That young lily of perfection,
Mistress Godolphin, observed a rule of her own in never speaking to
the King. How prudent, to be sure, and how obtuse! And it will be
admitted by every reader of historical gossip that, to whatever
humiliations Charles subjected his poor queen (who ceased not to love
him, and to love his memory) he would at no time hear her disparaged,
were she even so disparaged ostensibly for his own political
advantage. For he respected in her the abstract unprofanable woman.
He wrote to his Chancellor, on his first sight of Catherine, who
had been described to him as an ugly princess: "Her face is not so
exact as to be called a beauty, though her eyes are excellent good;
and not anything on her face that can in the least shoque one. On
the contrary, she has as much agreeableness altogether in her look
as ever I saw, and if I have any skill in Physiognomy (which I think
I have!) she must be as good a woman as ever was born." And again:
"I must be the worst man living, (which I hope I am not,) if I be
not a good husband." In Edward Lake's diary, we are told that to the
patron who recommended Dr. Sudbury to the Deanery of Durham, and Dr.
Sandcroft to that of S. Paul, the King said, after some years of
that attentive observation of his saints which no one would suspect
in him: "My lord, recommend two more such to me, and I will return
you any four I have for them." Most pertinent of all such cases, was
that of the beloved Bishop Ken. When the King went to Winchester,
in 1681, to superintend Wren's building of his palace, he put up at
the Deanery, and sent word to Ken, then one of the Prebendaries, to
resign his house to Nell Gwynne. Ken stoutly refused, to the fear and
amazement of the time-servers. Three years later, the last year of
the King's life, there was a great scramble for a rich vacant see.
Charles did not lack a dramatic inspiration. "Od's fish!" he cried:
"who shall have Bath and Wells but the little fellow that would not
give poor Nelly a lodging!" In 1679, the King did his best to keep
in their high offices the many useful and loyal magistrates whom his
councillors voted to supplant on account of their being "favourable
to Popery." His more general plea having been passed by, he read the
list of names over again, before placing the signature which he could
no longer refuse; and since his opposition was then as strenuous as
ever, took leave of the subject in some remembered oblique remarks.
Why depose Such-a-one? He had peerless beef in his larder, and no
kickshaws. What had So-and-so done, that he should be removed?
Surely, no man kept better foxhounds! And he could not only thus
discern and prefer goodness, but he submitted himself to it, and bore
reproofs from it with boyish humbleness. There is no reminiscence
of the Prince's comic catechumen experiences in Scotland, in the
accents of "your affectionate friend, Charles Rex," addressed to the
admonishing Mr. James Hamilton, a minister of Edinburgh, from Saint
Germain. "Yours of the 26th May was very welcome to me, and I give
you hearty thanks for all your good counsel, which I hope God will
enable me the better to follow through your prayers: and I conjure
you still to use the same old freedom with me, which I shall always
love." But his instinct was sharp: his sarcasms were forth in a
moment against mere bullies and meddlers. Checked once for employing
a light oath, he had ready a shockingly brusque though legitimate
retaliation: "Your Martyr swore twice more than ever I did!"

As we have seen, he had no appetite whatever for compliments. He
probably thought quite as Pepys did, regarding the silly adulations
lavished on a certain January tennis-playing. "Indeed, he did play
very well, and deserved to be commended; but such open flattery is
beastly." Charles _fils_ habitually "kept his head," as we say in one
of the most telling of our English idioms. It was difficult indeed so
to do, through the highest known fever of national enthusiasm, while
he was fed every hour of every day with praises out of all proportion
to the deeds of an Alexander. Virtuous men like Cowley went into
frenzies of approbation at the outset of the reign; sensible men
like Evelyn thanked Heaven with seraphic devotion for each execution
and exhumation wherewith the King, or rather the wild popular will,
to which he was no breakwater, signalized his entry. Hear the same
temperate Evelyn, in a dedication: "Your Majesty was designed of God
for a blessing to this nation in all that can render it happy; if
we can have the grace but to discover it, and be thankful for it."
Genuine toadies had small countenance from this acute Majesty. When
he propounded his celebrated joke to The Royal Society, concerning
a dead fish, _i.e._, that a pail of water receiving one would weigh
no more than before, and when he watched the wiseacres all solemnly
conferring, it cannot have been that they were unanimously caught
by the impish query he had put upon them, but rather that they
would avoid correcting the Crown: fain would they humor it with an
acquiescent reason why. But one little hero of science, far down the
table, greatly daring, spake: "I--I--I do believe the pail _would_
weigh heavier!" and was acquitted by a peal of the royal laughter:
"You are right, my honest man." Waller's clever excuse, when rallied
on his fine Cromwellian strophes, and on their superiority to those
written for the King's home-coming, that "poets succeed better in
fiction than in truth," must have been met with the appreciative
smile due to so exquisite a casuistry. Persons chosen to preach
before Charles, bored him, long after his accession, with superfluous
abuse of the Regicides and of the mighty Protectorate in general. One
bishop, squarely asked why he read his sermons instead of delivering
them impromptu, made the elegant response to his questioner, that
it was for awe of such august assemblies, and of so wise a prince.
Charles instantly rejoined that it was a monstrous pity no such
consideration weighed with himself, in reading his speeches in the
House: for the truth was, he had prayed for money so often, he could
no longer look his hearers in the face! To the Earls of Carlisle
and Shaftesbury, unduly anxious for the Protestant succession,
who announced themselves as able to prove Monmouth's legitimacy,
to the satisfaction of the nation, the King replied: "Dearly as I
love the Duke, rather than acknowledge him will I see him hanged on
Tyburn tree." Plain-speaking at a crisis was the hallmark of the
loose and conniving time. When a clergyman of the Establishment
was called to see the Duke of Buckingham, and inquired, by way of
the usual preliminary, in what religion he had lived, the dying
firefly answered gallantly: "In none, I am well pleased to say; for
I should have been a disgrace to any. Can you do me any good now,
bestir yourself." It was this engaging reprobate, (remembered rather
through Pope and Dryden than through his own extraordinary talent)
to whom the King once gave a kindly but authoritative rebuke for his
atheistic talk. It is possible that on that occasion fastidiousness,
and not reverence, was the motive power in Charles.

For it was his humor to disarm all moral questions by applying to
them the measure of mere good taste. We know the characteristic
exception he took to Nonconformity, as being "no religion for a
gentleman." He had, in the perfect degree, what Mr. James Russell
Lowell calls "that urbane discipline of manners, which is so
agreeable a substitute for discipline of mind." As in Prince Charlie,
(whose career was so closely to resemble his own, much in its heyday,
and more in its decline), winning courtesy was founded on genuine
sweetness of nature. He brought back into storm-beaten England the
vision of the Cavalier: a vision like a rainbow, which made beholders
giddy. The very first things he did, on his triumphant entry into
London, on May 29th, 1660, were gracious grand-opera things: he
singled out the pink-cheeked hostess of The Rose, in the Poultry,
kissing his hand to her, as he passed; and he brought the tears to
the eyes of Edmund Lovell, riding at the head of his troop of horse
raised for the Restoration, by drawing off his rich leather gauntlets
then and there, as a memento of thanks for one loyal welcome. Such
a carriage was sure to establish him in the popular heart: he might
light his fire with Magna Charta! His tact and his evenness of
deportment stood forth like moral perfections. Addison, who, as a
child, had seen the King humming lyrics over D'Urfey's shoulder, and
knew all the folk-tales of his twenty-five years' reign, must surely
have been thinking of him, when he painted this picture of "one of
Sir Roger's ancestors." "He was a man of no justice, but great good
manners. He ruined everybody that had anything to do with him, but
never said a rude thing in his life; the most indolent person in the
world, he would sign a deed that passed away half his estate, with
his gloves on, but would not put on his hat before a lady, if it
were to save his country." All this enchanting punctilio was but the
velvet sheathing of uncommon power and purpose. Charles was never
off his guard. No contingency ever got the better of him. He had
reasons for being gentle and affable, for being, as the peerless Lady
Derby thought him, on her own staircase, "the most charming prince
in the world," for keeping his extremely happy chivalry of speech,
equal to that of his cousin Louis the Fourteenth: the speech "which
gives delight and hurts not." "Civility cannot unprince you," was
another saying of the Newcastle beloved of his childhood, who seems
to have had a strong influence over him. The gay address and gentle
bearing, deliberate as we now perceive them to have been, had the
highest extrinsic value in that severe masculine personality. "These
advantages," says a contemporary writer, "were not born with him, for
he was too reserved in his youth." It is ludicrous that we should
speak of him as The Merry Monarch. He was, in sober truth, under his
beautiful mask of manners, a morose, tormented, unhappy man. It was
part of his perfect courage that he had learned small talk, banter,
puns, games, and dances: they were so many weapons to keep the blue
devils at bay. He had to beguile the thing he was with perpetual
cap and bells. Before he became a distinguished actor, he was not
"merry." The gilded courtiers of France, during his exile, found
him a serious and awkward figure of a lad; his admired Mademoiselle
Montpensier, the great prime-ministerial Mademoiselle, trailing her
new satin gowns back and forth under Henrietta Maria's knowing eye,
looked on Henrietta Maria's son, standing reticent the while, lamp in
hand, with girlish derision.

Nothing in human history is plainer, I think, than this double
personality of Charles the Second, evoked by the inescapable
situation in which he lived and died. He had the benefit of parental
example, and he started life as a good, slow, attractive, thoughtful
child, the sad-eyed child of Vandyck's tender portraits between 1632
and 1642. He was not strong of frame then. "His Highness' particular
grief," we smile to read in the pages of the good Lloyd, "is thought
to be a consumption." From that house where all the children were
fondly measured and painted and chronicled from year to year, his
mother wrote of him to Madame Saint George, and to Marie de Medicis.
"He has no ordinary mien ... he is so full of gravity." Prince James,
however, was her favorite. At four years old, Charles staggered
some Oxford dons with a display of infant philosophy. A twelvemonth
before that, as we learn from a pretty passage in the Harleian MSS.,
he had been condemned to take a certain drug; and his attempts to
get off, his retaliating talk afterward, are already very much of a
piece with the makeshifts of the Charles the Second we know. But in
general, he cannot be said to have been in the bud what he was in
the flower. Besides his seriousness, he had other apparently exotic
qualities: piety and candor among them. Lord Capell declared on the
scaffold: "For certainly, I have been a counsellor to him, and have
lived long with him, and in a time when discovery is easily enough
made; (he was about thirteen, fourteen, fifteen and sixteen years
of age, those years I was with him,) and truly I never saw greater
hopes of virtue in any young person than in him: great judgment,
great understanding, great apprehension; much honor in his nature,
and truly a very perfect Englishman in his inclination. And I pray
God restore him to this kingdom." Montrose, on the scaffold, in his
turn, "exceedingly commended," says Clarendon, in his _History_, "the
understanding of the present King." The glorious Marquis bore no
testimony to Charles's ethic make-up: but that could have lacked no
lustre in his eyes, since the January of the preceding year, when the
heir to the crown twice offered his life, or the acceptance of any
conditions imposed upon himself, in exchange for his father's safety.
Madame de Motteville assures us that "the greatest heroes and sages
of antiquity did not rule their lives by higher principles than this
young Prince at the opening of his career."

The poverty and inaction of his eleven years' exile, the sickness
of hope deferred, the temporizing, the misery of his faithful
friends, the wretched worry and privation of the sojourn at Brussels
and Breda, he bore passing well: but they spoiled him. He grew
recklessly indifferent; at thirty he could have said his _Diu
viximus_, for the savor of life was gone. An innate patrician, he
could never have been ruined, as most men are all too ready to be,
by "success and champagne." Hardship, which heartens the weak, was a
needless ordeal for him: yet he had nothing else from his fourteenth
to his thirty-first year. In him, endurance and courage were already
proven, and the "mild, easy, humble" temperament which, long after,
was to be allotted to him in _Absalom and Achitophel_. His chief
diversions, while abroad, were the single military campaign in
Spain, the reading and staging of amateur plays, the ever-welcome
associations with his brothers and sisters. When Grenville brought
thirty thousand pounds, and the invitation from the Parliamentary
Commissioners, to the ragged royalties at the Hague, Charles
called his dear Mary and James to look at the wonder, jingling it
well before he emptied it from the portmanteau: a more innocent
satisfaction than he was able to take later when, as Bussy de Rabutin
remarked, "the King of England turned shopkeeper, and sold Dunkirk,"
and rode to the Tower to see the first three million livres rolled
into his coffers. That he managed to fight besetting trouble may
be inferred from his letters to Mr. Henry Bennet. "Do not forget
to send me the Gazette Burlesque every week.... My cloaths at last
came, and I like them very well, all but the sword, which is the
worst that ever I saw.... We pass our time as well as people can do,
that have no more money, for we dance and play as if we had taken
the Plate Fleet.... Pray get me pricked down as many new corrants
and sarrebands, and other little dances, as you can, and bring them
with you; for I have got a small fiddler that does not play ill on
the fiddle." King Charles the First, in his affecting last advices
to his eldest son, had apprehended nothing but good results for him
from the difficult circumstances of his minority. "This advantage
of wisdom have you above most Princes, that you have begun and now
spent some years of discretion in the experience of trouble and the
exercise of patience.... You have already tasted of that cup whereof
I have liberally drunk, which I look upon as God's physic, having
that in healthfulness which it lacks in pleasure." But too much trial
is enervating, as well as too little. Could the spirited Prince
have had, ever and again, through those dark seasons, a pittance
of the abounding prosperity which befell him after he had given up
self-discipline, and had almost given up hope, it might have saved
from fatal torpor "the only genius of the Stuart line."

So perverted grew his habit of mind, that eventually the strongest
incentives could barely move, anger, or rouse him. To act like a
man awake, he needed a shock, an emergency. He was of the greatest
possible use at the Fire; he was of no use at all during the
Plague. Planning a thing out, thinking of it beforehand, came to be
intolerable to him. He who feared nothing else, feared communion with
himself. "For he dared reflect, and be alone," is a sentence in the
_Warwick Memoirs_, touching Charles the First, which looks as if it
were intended for an oblique comment on his son. As it was, even at
the worst, he prided himself on certain temperances. He liked good
wine, but he kept his brain clear of hard drinking. "It is a custom
your soul abhors," said the Speaker of the Commons before him, in
the August of 1660. He liked a game of chance, but he never won or
lost a pound at dice. In a time of the silliest superstition, when
my lord and my lady conferred mysteriously with M. le Voisin or the
Abbé Pregnani over in France, to whom the casting of horoscopes and
the concocting of philters were "easy as lying," Charles held his
own strong-minded attitude, and was delighted to see some applauded
predictions quite overturned in the Newmarket races. "I give little
credit to such kind of cattle," he writes to Henrietta, "and the
less you do it, the better; for if they could tell anything, 'tis
inconvenient to know one's fortune beforehand, whether good or bad."
Yet he amused himself with the psychological, when it suited him.
"Sir A.H. and Mrs. P., I beleeve, will end in Matrimony: I conclude
it the rather because I have observed a cloud in his face, any time
these two months, which Giovanni Battista della Porta, in his
_Physionomia_, says, foretells misfortune." He frowned on irreligion,
and stopped religious controversy with a wave of his hand. "No man,"
says Roger North, "kept more decorum in his expression and behavior
in regard to things truly sacred than the King.... And amongst his
libertines, he had one bigot, at least, (Mr. Robert Spencer) whom
he called Godly Robin, and who used to reprove the rest for profane
talking."

"Until near twenty," we learn from an anonymous pamphleteer who
claims to have been eighteen years in the Prince's friendship and
service, "until near twenty, the figure of his face was very lovely.
But he is since grown leaner, and now the majesty of his countenance
supplies the lines of beauty." "Majesty" sounds euphemistic; yet
there was a great deal of genuine majesty in Charles the Second.
Black armor was always wonderfully becoming to him, as we see in at
least one Cooper miniature, in the print by Faithorne, and the rarer
one by Moncornet. The lines of his cheek and mouth were very marked;
when he needlessly began to wear a wig, their severity became
intensified. He had the shadowy Stuart eyes, red-brown, full of soft
light; but his look, in all of his portraits, is something so sombre
that we have no English word for it: it is _morne_, it is _macabre_,
Leigh Hunt well implies, in _The Town_, that such an appearance,
linked with such a character, was a witticism in itself. He says:
"If the assembled world could have called out to have a specimen
of 'the man of pleasure' brought before it, and Charles the Second
could have been presented, we know not which would have been greater,
the laughter or the groans." His face was brown as a Moor's, and
singularly reserved and forbidding; though "very, very much softened
whensoever he speaks." One hardly knows why it was thought necessary
to blacken it further with walnut-juice, for disguise, to provide the
"reechy" appearance dwelt upon in Blount's narrative, when he set
out from Boscobel. His long hair had been of raven hue, thick and
glossy, "naturally curling in great rings"; but at the Restoration he
was already becoming "irreverendly gray." When he turned suddenly
upon you, we read, in _Ralph Esher_ (Hunt, first and last, shows a
Rembrandtesque preoccupation with this dusky King), "it was as if a
black lion had thrust his head through a hedge in winter." To the Rye
House conspirators he was known as "the Blackbird," as they named
the Duke of York, who was blonde, "the Goldfinch." It is a little
curious that a Jacobite ballad, very familiar in Ireland, dating from
before the Fifteen, bestows the same secret name (as a love-name, it
need hardly be added) on James the Third, called the Pretender. James
Howell, in a dedication to Charles the child, says:--

     "Wales had one glorious Prince of haire and hue
     (Which colour sticks unto him still!) like you."

Howell had in mind the Black Prince, when he set out so to compliment
his swarthy little successor; but he must have forgotten that the
hero had his sobriquet from his dread prowess, or his armor, not from
his complexion. Charles was well-made. "Le roi ne cédait à personne,
ni pour la taille ni pour la mine." But he was too grim and gaunt
to be handsome. Burnet, who had no regard for him, tells us that
he resembled the Emperor Tiberius: "a statue of the latter at Rome
looks like a statue made for him." (Any reader of Tacitus knows
that the parallel could be maintained throughout. But it would be
unfair. Tiberius, with all his high handed capability, was jealous
and perfidious; Tiberius,--this is the core of the matter,--could
not take a joke!) Standing before the portrait of himself by Riley,
Charles sighed sympathetically: "Od's fish! but I'm the ugly
fellow." Vanity was not in him, and he left the last refinements of
the fashions, the crève-coeur locks and the passagère, and the
venez-à-moi, to his retainers, to the men of great personal beauty,
like the Villiers, Wilmots, and Sidneys, whom they became. He turned
dress-reformer in 1666, and brought the whole court to habits of
simplicity. No better and manlier clothing ever was devised: the
silk doublet and breeches, the collar, shoes and sword-belt of the
time, without the slashes or the furbelows. But he was driven out
of his model costume by the bantering motion of the French monarch,
who immediately arrayed his footmen in it. This is a fine historic
instance of the truth of Hazlitt's epigram: "Fashion is gentility
running away from vulgarity, and afraid of being overtaken by it." At
Whiteladies, in old days, the young King was eager to get into his
leathern doublet and white and green yarn stockings, "his Majesty
refusing to have any gloves," though his hands were of tell-tale
shape and slenderness. His fellow-fugitive, Lord Wilmot, was not so
enchanted at the prospect of a peasant disguise; "he saying that he
should look frightfully in it." "Wilmot also endeavored to go on
horseback," continues the playful King's own animated dictation to
Pepys, "in regard, as I think, of his being too big to go on foot."
Charles himself was a hard rider, though he preferred, whenever he
could, to walk. His little suite had every reason to remember his
posting through France and Spain, in 1659, when his energy tired them
all out. His long legs always went at a tremendous pace. "I walked
nine miles this morning with the King," Claverhouse writes wearily in
1683, "besides cockfighting and courses." (He was waiting, in vain,
to catch his sovereign in a humor for business.) Charles was fond of
foot-racing, tennis, pall-mall, and all out-of-door sports. According
to Reresby, he would have preferred retirement, angling, and hearty
country life, to his thorny throne. But who, except a tyrant, would
not? Most of the Stuarts were excellent marksmen, and he among them.
He took intelligent care of his health, and liked to weigh himself
after exercise. We learn that his lonely leisure was sometimes
invaded by afflicted but admiring subjects. "Mr. Avise Evans," writes
dear garrulous Aubrey, "had a fungous nose; and said it was revealed
unto him that the King's hand would cure him; so at the first coming
of King Charles Second into S. James's Park, he kissed the royal hand
and rubbed his nose with it. Which did disturb the King, but cured
him."

Charles's physical activity set in early; he succeeded, at nine,
in breaking his arm. All his life, he was up with the lark: it was
almost the only circumstance in which he differed from _Le Roi
d'Yvetot_, in Béranger's biting ballad, which did so take Mr.
Thackeray; and he played all morning and every morning. Early-risen
Londoners, like the child Colley Cibber, used to watch him romping
with his hounds and spaniels, stroking the deer, feeding the
wooden-legged Balearic crane, or visiting the old lion in the Tower,
not the least of his pets, whose death, accepted as a portent, was
soon almost to coincide with his own. For birds he had a passion; he
was an unexampled dog-lover. He squandered much of his professional
time in the society, innocent at least, of these favorite animals,
and much of his professional money, in seeking and reclaiming such
of them as were lost. There is a funny little advertisement in
_Mercurius Publius_ for June 28th, 1660, the sly good-humor of which
marks it as having been written out by none but the King himself.
The advertisement was a renewed one. "We must call upon you again
for a Black Dog, between a greyhound and a spaniel; no white about
him, onely a streak on his Brest, and Tayl a little bobbed. It is
His Majesties own Dog, and doubtless was stoln, for the Dog was
not born or bred in England, and would never forsake his Master.
Whosoever findes him, may acquaint any at Whitehall, for the Dog
was better known at Court than those who stole him. Will they never
leave robbing His Majesty? Must he not keep a Dog? This Dog's place,
(though better than some imagine) is the onely place which nobody
offers to Beg."

It is not uncharacteristic of his hatred of suffering, that it was
Charles the Second who abolished the statute which had thoughtfully
provided for the roasting of heretics. He might quite as well have
abolished "cockfighting and courses," but he did not. On a certain
22nd of July, he wrote to his "deare, deare Sister" Henrietta: "I am
one of those Bigotts who thinke that malice is a much greater sinn
than a poore frailty of nature." And Burnet has assured us that the
same remark was made, by the same moralist, to him, "that cruelty and
falsehood are the worst vices": an opinion of pedigree, antedated by
Taliesin, Chief of the Bards, in the sixth century. It would seem
an irresistible inference that Butler must have heard of the royal
speculation when he penned his immortal couplet:

     "Compound for sins they are inclined to,
     By damning those they have no mind to."

(Charles used to carry in his pocket a copy of _Hudibras_ which
Buckhurst gave him.) Cruelty, especially, was very far from this
indulgent King. His first official appearance had been on an errand
of mercy. As a spectator of ten, he had sat through the first session
of Strafford's trial, "in his little chair beside the throne"; but
he was sent as Prince of Wales, to carry his father's letter to the
Peers, urging them to forbear or delay Strafford's execution. As
the young nominal leader of the army in the west, he was full of
compassion. "There's a child," said the Earl of Lindsay, "born to
end this war we now begin. How gravely doth he pity the dead, the
sick, the maimed!" His nature was thoroughly humane; and more: it
was affectionate. It is the modern fashion to say he had no feeling.
In this regard he has never been fairly appraised, and no wonder!
He affected cynicism, and disclaimed sensitiveness; he made no
confidences; he avoided "scenes." Yet he originated at least two
scenes, which may be worth something to those who recognize true
emotion, from whatever unexpected source, and honor it. One was in
1663, when the good Queen fell very ill, and when Charles, more and
more conscience-stricken, dropped beside the bed, and begged her,
with tears, to live for his sake. The other was when he himself lay
dying, in his fifty-fifth year; when his old friend, the Benedictine
priest, John Huddleston, came into the room before the lords,
physicians, and gay gentlemen, to reconcile him to the Catholic
Church, and give him the Holy Communion. The King was extremely
weak, and in the greatest pain; but he was with difficulty kept
in his recumbent position. "I would kneel," he said aloud several
times, endeavoring to rise, "I would kneel to my Heavenly Lord." What
if by such touching demonstrations, rather than by his miserable
stifling stoicism, his taint of drugged indifference, he were to be
judged? But to some he had always shown his heart. The dearest to
him were those longest about him: even his old nurse, Mrs. Wyndham,
had an extraordinary hold upon him. He was kindness itself to his
sister-in-law, Anne Hyde, the first Duchess of York, at the very time
when she was exposed to ridicule, and most needed a powerful friend;
and he was no less kind to her successor, Mary of Modena, who never
forgot him. His attachment to Monmouth is beyond question; yet it
was no greater than his attachment to James, whose succession he
safeguarded, with whom he had few qualities in common. For besides
being the perfect companion Hume allows him to have been, he was
a perfect brother. Mrs. Ady (Julia Cartright) justly observes, in
the preface to _Madame_, her valuable memoir of Charles the First's
youngest daughter, Henrietta, Duchess of Orleans, that the private
letters from the French archives, there first printed, written by
Charles the Second, establish two novel points greatly in his favor:
"the courage and spirit with which he could defend the privileges of
his subjects and the rights of the British flag," and the extreme
love and concern he had for his only surviving sister. Patriotism
and affection are about the last things of which historians seem
even yet likely to accuse him. Let us have a few of these epistolary
extracts, at random; they are delightful, and worded with a careless
idiomatic force equal to that of any correspondence of the time.
Moreover, they make one surmise that a volume of Charles's less
accessible letters to his mother and Prince Rupert, those to his
sister Mary, not excluding the beautiful one on the occasion of their
father's death, those to Clarendon, Lord Jermyn and others, would
make, if collected from the private packets or state papers where
they lie unread, in his own delicate, clear, whimsical hand, an
uncommonly pleasant publication.

     "To my deare, deare Sister.

     "Pour l'avenir, je vous prie, ne me traitez pas avec
     tant de cérémonie, en me donnant tant de 'majestés,' car
     je ne veux pas qu'il y ait autre chose entre nous deux,
     qu'amitié."

     "I will not now write to you in French, for my head is
     dosed with business!"

     "Pray send me some images, to put in prayer-books: they
     are for my wife, who can gett none heere. I assure you it
     will be a great present to her, and she will looke upon
     them often; for she is not onlie content to say the greate
     office in the breviere every day, but likewise that of Our
     Lady too; and this is besides goeing to chapell, where she
     makes use of none of these. I am iust now goeing to see a
     new play; so I shall say no more but that I am intierly
     yours." (These are "the pretty pious pictures" which Pepys
     saw and admired.)

     "They who will not beleeve anything to be reasonably
     designed unless it be successfully executed, have neede
     of a less difficult game to play than mine; and I hope
     friends will thinke I am now too old, and have had too much
     experience of things and persons to be grossly imposed
     upon; and therefore they who would seem to pity me so for
     being so often deceeved, do upon the matter declare what
     opinion they have of my understanding and judgment. And I
     pray you, discountenance those kind of people."

     "I hope it is but in a compliment to me, when you say my
     niece" (the little Marie-Louise d'Orléans, afterwards Queen
     of Spain) "is so like me: for I never thought my face was
     even so much as intended for a beauty! I wish with all my
     heart I could see her; for at this distance I love her."

     "Sir George Downing is come out of Holland, and I shall now
     be very busy upon that matter. The States keepe a great
     braying and noise, but I beleeve, when it comes to it, they
     will looke twise before they leape. I never saw so great an
     appetite to a warre as is in both this towne and country,
     espetially in the parlament-men, who, I am confident, would
     pawne there estates to maintaine a warre. But all this
     shall not governe me, for I will look meerly to what is
     just, and best for the honour and goode of England, and
     will be very steady in what I resolve: and if I be forsed
     to a warre, I shall be ready with as good ships and men as
     ever was seen, and leave the successe to God." (Here we
     have a sort of original for the modern chant:

          "We don't want to fight:
          But, by Jingo, if we do,
          We've got the ships, we've got the men,
          We've got the money, too.")

     (Of Harry Killigrew.) "I am glad the poore wrech has gott
     a meanes of subsistence; but have one caution of him, that
     you beleeve not one worde he sayes of us heere; for he is a
     most notorious lyar, and does not want witt to sett forth
     his storyes pleasantly enough."

     "There is nobody desires more to have a strict frindship
     with the King of France than I do; but I will never buy it
     upon dishonourable termes; and I thanke God my condition is
     not so ill but that I can stande upon my own legges, and
     beleeve that my frindship is as valuable to my neighbours
     as theirs is to me."

     "I have sent, this post, the extracts of the letters to
     my Ld. Hollis, by which you will see how much reason I
     have to stande upon the right my father had, touching the
     precedency of my ambassador's coach before those of the
     princes of the blood there. I do assure you, I would not
     insist upon it, if I had not cleerely the right on my side;
     for there is nobody that hates disputes so much as I do,
     and will never create new ones, espetially with one whose
     frindship I desire so much as that of the King of France.
     But, on the other side, when I have reason, and when I
     am to yeelde in a point by which I must goe less than my
     predesessours have done, I must confesse that consernes me
     so much as no frindship shall make me consent unto."

     "Your kindnesse I will strive to diserve by all the
     endeavours of my life, as the thing in the worlde I value
     most."

Charles was dear to the masses, as any ruler of his unimperious humor
is sure to be. When the King and Queen came down from Hampton Court
in their barge, the Thames watermen shouted cheerfully at him: "God
bless thee, King Charles, and thy good woman there. Go thy ways for
a wag!" Among his inferior subjects he never lacked partisans and
apologists. He was something of a hero even to his valet: faithful
Tobias Rustat, Yeoman of the Robes, spent a fortune putting up
statues, at Chelsea and Windsor, "domino suo clementissimo." The
Roundheads whom Charles had released, chiefly men of no rank or
influence, watched him after, with friendliest longing and regret;
never without extenuations, and certain hope of change. "By enlarging
us," they said in their message of thanks, "you have multiplied our
captivity, and made us more your prisoners than we could be in the
Tower." When Death gave him his abrupt summons, "amid inexpressible
luxury and profaneness," on a wintry Monday in his town palace,
the poor crowded the churches, for the whole six days, "sobs and
tears interrupting the prayers of the congregations." Joy-bells
and bonfires bespoke their relief at the mistaken report that he
was convalescent. Every schoolboy, prentice, and serving-maid in
London wore mourning for him; although he had been buried secretly
by night, and there was no pageant at Westminster to memorialize
their grief. Always, and despite all, he was sure of the loyalty
of the people. "Fret not that I go unattended," he would tell his
brother: "for they will never kill me, James, to make you king."
"The horrid plot" found him the coolest head in England. But towards
the end, it began to tell upon him and dash his spirits. He closed
his doors for the first time, and went abroad with a guard, hurt and
dejected. This was but an incident in a life as free from suspicion
as a tree's. The folk who came to see Charles at his masques and
fairs and Twelfth-Night dice-throwings and Easter alms-givings; the
two hundred and forty thousand whom, with great boredom and greater
patience, he touched for the King's Evil; the multitudes who had
experienced his concern and practical energy during the Fire, when he
had done them all manner of personal service,--these were his vassals
to the last. Nor had he ever a private enemy. He was popular in the
extreme; and might be commemorated as an admirable prince, if tested
by the measure of Martial's epigram, that a prince's main virtue is
intimate knowledge of his subjects. Tradition does not aver that he
made integrity of living contagious among them, though society copied
his tolerance and affability, his sense, spirit, and gracefulness.
But nothing ever broke their faith in him. Says Lingard: "During his
reign the arts improved, trade met with encouragement, the wealth
and comforts of the people increased. To this flourishing state of
the nation we must attribute the acknowledged fact, that whatever
the personal failings or vices of the King, he never forfeited the
love of his subjects. Men are always ready to idolize the sovereign
under whose sway they feel themselves happy." Charles might have
confessed with Elia: "How I like to be liked, and what don't I
do to be liked!" His wheedling charm was irresistible. He was an
adept, when he willed, in the science of honeyed suasion. Like the
Florentine painters, he could suffer no slovenly detail, nor a
convention to pass him without some individualizing touch. Before he
had contracted the Portuguese alliance, Count Da Ponte had taken his
letter to Lisbon: "To the Queen of Great Britain, my wife and lady,
whom God preserve." The blood royal has a pretty etiquette of its
own; not quite this, however. How beautifully, again, was it said to
the Commons, shortly after the accession: "I know most of your faces
and names, and can never hope to find better men in your places."
And this intimate conciliatory tone, which it was Charles's pleasure
to employ towards others, others used in speaking of him. There is
a fatherly pang in some of the little messages plying between the
noble colleagues, Clarendon and Ormonde. "The King is as decomposed
as ever: which breaks my heart.... He seeks for his satisfaction and
delight in other company, which do not love him so well as you and I
do." And there is nothing tenderer in all history than the narration
of Charles's leave-taking from his hushed Whitehall, written at the
time by the Reverend Francis Roper, chaplain to the Bishop of Ely,
unless it be an account of the same strange and moving scene, sent
later by the Catholic Earl of Perth to the Catholic Countess of
Kincardine, on the tenth of December, 1685.

Every street-corner evangelist may harp on the rottenness of the
Restoration: what concerns us is its human sparkle. There was an
astonishing dearth of dull people; the bad and bright were in full
blossom, and the good and stupid were pruned away. The company
reminds one of Aucassin's hell, which, on a certain occasion,
he chose with such gusto, for its superior social qualities.
"Charles the Second!" exclaims William Hazlitt, in his most
enjoying mood: "what an air breathes from the name! What a rustle
of silks and waving of plumes! What a sparkle of diamond earrings
and shoe-buckles! What bright eyes! (Ah, those were Waller's
Sacharissa's, as she passed.) What killing looks and graceful
motions! How the faces of the whole ring are dressed in smiles! How
the repartee goes round; how wit and folly, elegance, and awkward
imitation of it, set one another off!" These are the days when young
Henry Purcell bends for hours over the Westminster Abbey organ,
alone; and Child, Locke, Lawes, and Gibbons are setting ballads to
entrancing cadences, and conveying them to Master W. Thackeray, the
music-printer, at The Angel, in Duck Lane; when another Gibbons,
rival of the spring, carving on wood, makes miraculous foliage
indoors, to cheat the longing wind; when a diligent Clerk of the
Acts of the Navy, curiously scanning the jugglers and gymnasts on
his leisurely way, trots by in "a camlett coat with silver buttons";
when Robert Herrick, the town-loving country vicar, ordering his
last glass, stands watching through the tavern window-pane the King
gravely pacing the greensward with Hobbes and Evelyn, or bantering
Nell Gwynne over her garden wall; when Walton angles with his son
Cotton in the Dove, and Claude Duval exquisitely relieves travellers'
bags of specie; when the musical street-cries run like intersecting
brooks: "Rosemary and sweetbrier: who'll buy my lavender?" "Fresh
cheese and cream for you!" "Oranges and citrons, fair citrons and
oranges!" when Richardson, the eater of glass and fire, is bidden
to entertain in drawing-rooms, broiling an oyster on a live coal
held in his mouth, and the instant he departs, hears the company
fall to playing blind-man's buff, and "I love my love with an A";
when the click of duelling swords is heard in the parks at sundown,
and groups of affectionate gentlemen sway homewards by the fainter
morning ray, and coaches roll along lending glimpses of pliant
fans, and of Lely's languishing faces. In and out of this whirl
of thoughtless life move the august figures of Sir Thomas Browne
and "that Milton that wrote for the regicides," and, later, of Sir
Isaac Newton; the golden shadow of Jeremy Taylor, and the childish
footsteps of Steele and his head boy Addison, regenerators to be;
the vanishing presence of Clarendon, and the patriots, Russell,
Vane, Algernon Sydney, good hearts in the dungeon and at the block;
of Bunyan the tinker, and the fighters Fairfax and Rupert, and the
scholar poets who prodigally strew their delicate numbers on the
wind. Execrable ministries, Dutch defiances and insults, French
pensions, pestilence and plot: but still the moth-hunts go on. "At
all which I am sorry, but it is the effect of idleness" (who should
it be but Pepys, making this deep elemental excuse?) "and having
nothing else to employ their great spirits upon." The irised bubbles
were soon to scatter, and the Hanoverian super-solids to come and
stay. The great change is germinal, as all great changes are, and
more visible in its processes than most. The reign of Charles the
Second is full of supplements and reserves; nothing is so lawless as
it seems; the genius ever unemployed, the virtue in arrest, "tease
us out of thought," and change color under our eyes. Hornpipes turn
to misereres; masks, one by one, fall away. Mrs. Aphra Behn, be it
remembered, was, off the printed page, nothing more unspeakable than
a decent industrious woman. That bygone England played at having no
moral sense: on a subtle argument of Browning's, one may quarrel
with it that it did not play equally well to the end. Neither was it
the minor actor of the Restoration who, near the exit, flagged, saw
visions, and spoke strange words out of his part: it was Rochester,
it was Louise de Quérouailles, it was the King. "Without desire of
renown," Macaulay finds him, "without sensibility to reproach." Why
arraign the King? He will agree with Macaulay or another, charge
by charge: which is damaging to the arraigner. As for accusations
not personal, his retorts might be less gentle. Great Britain sued
for him: and he never posed for a moment as other than he was. His
coming hastened a reparative holiday; itself but the breath of
reaction. That inevitable abuses should be ranked among the laws of
Nature, is one of Vauvenargues' fine profound inferences. If, in
some of his inspirational moments, the King exceeded his prerogative
(by endeavoring, for instance, to abrogate the code bearing so
cruelly upon all persons of other religious opinions than those of
the State), Parliament and the people had foregone their right of
complaint: they had deliberately chosen to make him an autocrat.
No fanatic on any point, Charles would have bound himself readily
to reasonable conditions, while his fortunes were pending; yet no
pledges were exacted. Moderate precautions and safeguards, suggested
in the Commons by Hale and Prynne, had been set aside by Monk, and
overruled. Monk was but a dial's shadow, "the hand to the heart
of the nation." He brought in not only the monarchy, but a potent
individuality: one not led hither and thither, but a maker and marrer
of his time. That melancholy figure was the axis of fast-flying and
eccentric revelry. To some of us he is one of the most complex and
interesting men in history. Judge him by old report and general
current belief, and he is "dead body and damnèd soul"; examine his
own speech and script, and the testimony of those who had him at
close range from his boyhood: and lo, he has heights and distances,
as well as abysses; he is self-possessed, not possessed of the devil;
he is dangerous, if you will, but not despicable. Following an evil
star, he, at least, after Ovid, perceived and approved the highest.
Until the Georgian succession, his was a popular memory. But with
the Stuart decadence, and the consummation of what _The Royalist_
smartly labels as "the great Protestant Swindle," down went his name
with better names: all, from Laud to Claverhouse, doomed to share a
long obloquy and calumny, from which they are singly being rescued
at last, as from the political pit. I know nothing so illustrious of
Charles the Playgoer as that he was able to win the strong attachment
of Dr. Samuel Johnson, albeit a century of ill repute lay between.
Our wise critic, though he formulated it not, must have seen clearly
the duplex cause of the King's failure in life. For half of that
failure there is a theological term. Permit me to use it, and to
illumine the whole subject by it: no flash-light is keener. Charles
the Second was unfaithful to Divine Grace. Again, no man, endowed
with so exquisite a sense of humor in over-development, can, of his
own volition alone, escape lassitude, errancy, and frivolity founded
on scorn. Humor, as a corrective, is well: but

     ----"the little more, and how much it is!"

To have been born with a surplus of it is to be elf-struck and
incapacitated. Nothing is worth while, nothing is here nor there;
the only way to cut short the torture of self-observation and
the infamy of not being able to form a prejudice, is to abandon
ideals. Pass over, in the King, this too mordant and too solvent
intelligence, and you lose the key to a strange career. Perhaps two
of his ancestors, two of the Haroun-al-Raschid temper, dominated
him: the gallant Gudeman of Ballangleich, and as a nearer influence
on Charles, that gay, beloved, fickle, easily-masterful man, his
grandsire of Navarre. He was like these, and in harmony with their
adventurous soldier-world: naturally, he was incurably out of joint
with his own isle, her confused introspective moods hardly subsided.
He was a philosopher, and above all, an artist: such a king, in
England, can never be the trump card. He seems to have thought out
the situation, and to have capitulated with all his heart. We need
not tell each other that he might have been different. Let us mend
our tenses, and agree that he would and must have been different, in
Scotland or in France.

Yet Lord Capell's dying word was right: his King, though a traitor,
and intellectually as homesick for France as Mary Stuart before
him, was "a very perfect Englishman": he had, in some degree, every
quality which goes to make up the lovableness of English character;
and his Latin vices, large to the eye, are festooned around him,
rather than rooted in him. One who knows the second Charles, all in
all, and still preserves a great kindness for him, might do worse
than borrow for his epitaph what Mr. Henley has written of Lovelace,
Richardson's Lovelace, "the completest hero of fiction." "He has wit,
humor, grace, brilliance, charm: he is a scoundrel and a ruffian; and
he is a gentleman, and a man."

CLAY

(_After a pause, shyly._) That's all. Will it do, Wetherell?

WETHERELL

Why, yes; on the whole. It is--well, lopsided; and so mortal serious,
you know. Not that it isn't great fun, too. You will carry the
audience. You really ought not to: it is a sort of abduction! (_They
stroll out through the Horse Guards, and towards Parliament Square._)

MRS. WETHERELL

I thought you might say something about Chelsea Hospital. It is a
good thing, I am sure; and Charles the Second was the founder.

WETHERELL

No, Nell Gwynne: she put him up to it. I am told the old war-dogs
over there will eat you, Lord love 'em, if you say a word against
either of these.

MRS. WETHERELL

What was she like?

CLAY

Oh, wild honey. Just such a one as Mr. Du Maurier's Trilby.

WETHERELL

Quite true, quite true! (_They laugh._) A capital comparison: thank
you for it. And comparisons, being odorous, remind me of my dinner.
Rhoda very much wishes you to come home with us.

MRS. WETHERELL

Please do, Mr. Clay, and quite as you are. No one but ourselves and
my nice New York cousins, whom we are going to meet. We shall dine
early, so that you may have time afterwards, before your lecture.

WETHERELL

To repent.

CLAY

Aye, quicksilver creature! to re-dress. There! Mrs. Wetherell, have I
not understood you and avenged you, too?

MRS. WETHERELL

Indeed, you always do. Will you come?

CLAY

Many thanks to you; I should like nothing better. Will you mind if
we go directly into the Abbey? It is early yet for your appointment;
but I should delight in showing you the effigy. I'll wager a full
farthing Percy never saw it.

MRS. WETHERELL

The effigy?

CLAY

Yes; King Charles the Second's.

WETHERELL

Heigho! it would seem that we have not buried the biographee, after
all. But I am sceptical. I remember no effigy. Unfold.

CLAY

Here we are at the porch. Just follow me.... (_They go quietly in
file through the north transept and ambulatory, and up the great
steps of Henry the Seventh's Chapel._) There: to the right; inside,
east end. How dark it is!

MRS. WETHERELL

Aren't you coming?

CLAY

No; if you will excuse me. Conceive of me as sentimental; I hate to
step over that slab, or go by it, somehow.

WETHERELL

(_Farther up._) Not a soul here, to adore this surpassing tomb of
Lady Richmond. There's art for you! But no effigy of yours visible.
Your infallibility waneth. _Animus vester ego, Argilla mea!_ the
which is choice Schoolboy for--Mind your eye, O Clay.

CLAY

Of course there's none now.

WETHERELL

Avaunt, then, deceiving monster!

CLAY

But it used to stand, with Anne, William and Mary, and with Monk
behind it, there on the site of the old altar-stone; his name is cut
over the vault. That is where Dr. Johnson visited it often.

WETHERELL

I had forgotten. What were you saying about stepping over the slab?

CLAY

Not that slab. I meant the other, where Mrs. Wetherell is standing.
The tragic names are all together there: Mary Queen of Scots,
Rupert, and the lovely and dear Queen of Bohemia, and young Henry of
Gloucester, and poor Arabella Stuart, and--

MRS. WETHERELL

(_Slowly reading_)--ten infant children of King James the Second, and
eighteen infant children of Queen--

WETHERELL

Tee-hee!

MRS. WETHERELL

Percy!

CLAY

Sure enough, it does sound ticklish! But hush, Wetherell: people will
hear. (_They descend._) That verger in the dim amber light, standing
in the dear little doorway of S. John's, will let us see the cases
in the chantry. You have to show the Dean's pass. Wait a moment:
I must get mine. (_He draws a card from his pocket and approaches
the verger, who immediately leads the way to the stair of the Islip
Chapel._)

MRS. WETHERELL

(_First on the stair, five minutes after._) Ghastly things! Truly,
aren't they perfectly appalling?

THE VERGER

Oh, it's wax, you know, _isn't_ it? We think them uncommonly
precious. So ancient, ma'am. Carried at their own funerals, and
dressed in their own clothes. King Charles the Second, this is: he's
the oldest genuine one of those we show.

MRS. WETHERELL

Can it be possible that this lace all black with age, this beautiful
lace--? Yes, it is point! (_Hangs enraptured._)

WETHERELL

The head is surprisingly fine, for anything of the half-spook
half-dolly order. You say it was modelled on the death-mask?

CLAY

Yes; you have seen it in the Museum.

WETHERELL

I like it better than any of the portraits. It gives one a gentler
impression, somehow. Who are these? (_He and his wife move on to the
Duchess of Buckinghamshire and Queen Anne._)

CLAY

As for me, I shall stay with you, of course, my poor old
never-obsolete Most Sacred Majesty. What a pity you shirked your work
so!

     "Qu'as-tu fait, ô toi que voilà,
     De ta jeunesse?"

Ah, well! It is not beyond my right to say that to you, since I am
the only one alive who loves you.

TWO FEMALE VOICES BELOW

Cousin Rhoda! Rhoda! Percy! We saw you come up, from where the
Coronation Chair is; and the little door was left open. Oh, isn't
this splendid to find you? How DO you do?

THE VERGER

I beg your pardon, gentlemen; Evensong is just about to begin.

WETHERELL

Thank you; then we the heathen must go at once. Clay, let me present
you to---- See: he's in dreamland.

MRS. WETHERELL

I wonder if thoughts of dinner can rouse him.

WETHERELL

Not unless you can provide the suitably archaic wild boar, and the
flask of canary.

THE MISSES FRANEY

You both look so well! Dreadful, Percy, if you'll believe it. The
stewardess said there had not been such a passage for--

MRS. WETHERELL

Hurry, Cornelia. The service is beginning.

(_A strain from the organ wakes Clay. He follows them down, tiptoeing
past the filling pews, covering the oak-twig still in his hat._)

WETHERELL

(_In an undertone, on the threshold._) The air is good, again. Lo,
I perceive the genial 'bus yonder, also several nimble cabs. Come,
ladies fair; come, Clay. You shall eat posthumously in the nineteenth
century, and make us all drink the health of "the Blackbird"; as the
old song has it,

[Music: "With a fa la lá, la-la, la-la, la la lá, with a fa la lá,
la-la, lá, lá."]

(_Clay smiles, and they pass out into the Square._)


  THIS BOOK WAS PRINTED BY
  JOHN WILSON AND SON, AT
  THE UNIVERSITY PRESS, CAMBRIDGE,
  MASSACHUSETTS, DURING
  MAY, 1897


These essays have appeared, during the last ten years, in The
Contributor's Club of _The Atlantic Monthly_, _The Chap-Book_, _The
Independent_, _The Catholic World_, and _The Providence Journal_.
_An Open Letter to the Moon_, and _On Teaching One's Grandmother to
Suck Eggs_, are reprinted, by permission, from _Goose-Quill Papers_,
Roberts Brothers, Boston, 1885.


[Transcriber's Note: Obvious printer errors have been corrected
without note.]





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