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Title: Australian Essays
Author: Adams, Francis William Lauderdale
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Australian Essays" ***

                      _TWO SHILLINGS AND SIXPENCE_


                          FRANCIS W. L. ADAMS.
                               _AUTHOR OF
                     “LEICESTER, AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY.”_


                           THE SALVATION ARMY.
                      SYDNEY AND HER CIVILIZATION.
                        “DAWNWARDS:” A DIALOGUE.

                        PRINTED AND PUBLISHED BY

                     LONDON: GRIFFITH, FARRAN & CO.




LEICESTER, AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY. (REDWAY, Publisher, York Street, Covent
Garden, London; 6_s_.)

POEMS. (ELLIOT STOCK, Publisher, Paternoster Row, London; 5_s._)

THE BRUCES, A Novel. (_Shortly_).



                           AUSTRALIAN ESSAYS.

                          FRANCIS W. L. ADAMS.
                               _AUTHOR OF
                     “LEICESTER, AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY.”_



                    WILLIAM INGLIS AND CO., PRINTERS,
                          FLINDERS STREET EAST.


    ‘_Master, with this I send you, as a boy_
    _that watches from below some cross-bow bird_
    _swoop on his quarry carried up aloft,_
    _and cries a cry of victory to his flight_
    _with sheer joy of achievement—So to you_
    _I send my voice across the sundering sea,_
    _weak, lost within the winds and surfy waves,_
    _but with all glad acknowledgment fulfilled_
    _and honour to you and to sovran Truth!_’

                            _January, 1886._



    PREFACE                                ix.



    THE SALVATION ARMY                     27


    CULTURE                                73


        INTRODUCTION                       90

        I.                                 97

        II.                               105

        III.                              114

        IV.                               122

        V.                                138

        VI.                               146


It would be absurd to suppose that it will not seem clear, to whatever
readers this little book may find here, that one of the principal
characters of the Dialogue is a man for whom we all, I think, feel more
interest, admiration, and respect than any other among us. That this
is so in reality, I must beg to deny, and I hope that, when I state
that I neither have myself, nor know anyone who has, the honour of
his acquaintance—nay, that I have never even _seen_ him—I hope that I
shall stand acquitted of all charges of personality. As for the other
characters, there will too, I daresay, be found people ready to declare
who are the originals, and to explain everything which is inconsistent
with their theory by ascribing it to designed mystification on the part
of the Author. For this, it seems, is an occupation like another. The
Author believes that so much of a man’s life as is public belongs to
the public, and is at the fair use of the public’s literary analysts,
_videlicet_ the critics, and that it is by no means an unfair use, to
take such a life and freely present it in that individual form which
it actually has to us in our moments of imagination and reflection. It
seems, then, to him foolish, in considering, (to take it in the form of
a well-known example), a book like D’Israeli’s “Lothair” or “Endymion,”
to be trying to identify the characters with actual men. D’Israeli simply
uses as much of actual men and actual events as he requires for his
criticism of the time he is portraying, and is careless of the rest. I
see here no attempt at mystification. I simply see an artist picking out
the choicest materials he has to hand.

As regards both the Dialogue and the Essays, I would like to point out
that they are professedly didactic, and, as such, are of course cast
into the form which I believe most calculated to achieve their object.
I am sure that I have neither the intention nor the wish to impugn the
competency of the australian Press to deal with things australian. I am
myself a member, a very humble member of it, and am quite ready to do
myself the sincere pleasure of praising it. At the same time I cannot
blind myself to the fact that its criticism is not (let us say) ideal.
The “business of criticism,” says the first of living critics, “is simply
_to know the best that is known and thought in the world, and by in its
turn making this known, to create a current of true and fresh ideas_.”
Well now, I cannot, I say, look upon this australian Press, of which I
am so humble a member, as the creator of such a current; and, (I will
make a clean breast of it at once!), bright and charming as I have always
found him in the “Echoes of the Week” and places of like resort, I have
viewed the triumphal approach of Mr. Sala to us, and his even more
triumphal progress among us, with (as someone will presently be saying
of me)—“with a jaundiced eye.” And why? The truth, the real truth, is,
(May I be forgiven for saying so?), that I do not believe that even Mr.
Sala can help us australian pressmen, (since I dare to place myself in a
company which includes such stupendous personages as “The Vagabond” and
the Editor of the Melbourne _Herald_), to create that “current of true
and fresh ideas” to which we have alluded. Truth, alas, is the private
property of no man—not even of Mr. George Augustus Sala. And I confess
to finding myself at the point of wishing that, even for mere variety’s
sake, we should hear more than we do of the ideas of such personages as
Goethe, Emerson, Renan, Arnold, and so on: writers, of course, familiar
to us all, and whom I, at any rate, must still continue to consider
as not wholly exhausted. They may not have the depth of thought, the
accuracy of detail, the exquisite tact of expression which distinguish
the genial _littérateur_, and make his work, as one of my fellow pressmen
said the other day, “epoch-making,” but I really do still continue—I
_must_ still continue—to think that, despite all these disadvantages,
they are still capable of helping us a little to that critical haven
where our souls would be—to the source of “a current of true and fresh

                                                       _September, 1885._



It is difficult to speak of Melbourne fitly. The judgment of neither
native nor foreigner can escape the influence of the phenomenal aspect
of the city. Not fifty years ago its first child, Batman’s, was born;
not forty, it was a city; a little over thirty, it was the metropolis
of a colony; and now (as the inscription on Batman’s grave tells us)
“_Circumspice!_” To natives their Melbourne is, and is only, “the
magnificent city, classed by Sir George Bowen as the ninth in the world,”
“one of the wonders of the world.” They cannot criticise, they can only
praise it. To a foreigner, however, who, with all respect and admiration
for the excellencies of the Melbourne of to-day as compared with the
Melbourne of half-a-century ago, has travelled and seen and read, and
cares very little for glorifying the _amour-propre_ of this class or of
that, and very much for really arriving at some more or less accurate
idea of the significance of this city and its civilization; to such a
man, I say, the native melodies in the style of “Rule Britannia” which he
hears everywhere and at all times are distasteful. Nay, he may possibly
have at last to guard himself against the opposite extreme, and hold off
depreciation with the one hand as he does laudation with the other!

The first thing, I think, that strikes a man who knows the three great
modern cities of the world—London, Paris, New York—and is walking
observingly about Melbourne is, that Melbourne is made up of curious
elements. There is something of London in her, something of Paris,
something of New York, and something of her own. Here is an attraction to
start with. Melbourne has, what might be called, the _metropolitan tone_.
The look on the faces of her inhabitants is the _metropolitan look_.
These people live quickly: such as life presents itself to them, they
know it: as far as they can see, they have no prejudices. “I was born in
Melbourne,” said the wife of a small bootmaker to me once, “I was born in
Melbourne, and I went to Tasmania for a bit, but I soon came back again.
_I like to be in a place where they go ahead._” The wife of a small
bootmaker, you see, has the _metropolitan tone_, the _metropolitan look_
about her; she sees that there is a greater pleasure in life than sitting
under your vine and your fig-tree; she likes to be in a place where they
go ahead. And she is a type of her city. Melbourne likes to “go ahead.”
Look at her public buildings, her New Law Courts not finished yet, her
Town Hall, her Hospital, her Library, her Houses of Parliament, and
above all her Banks! Nay, and she has become desirous of a fleet and has
established a “Naval Torpedo Corps” with seven electricians. All this is
well, very well. Melbourne, I say, lives quickly: such as life presents
itself to her, she knows it: as far as she can see, she has no prejudices.

_As far as she can see._—The limitation is important. The real question
is, _how_ far can she see? how far does her civilization answer the
requirements of a really fine civilization? what scope in it is there (as
Mr. Arnold would say) for the satisfaction of the claims of conduct, of
intellect and knowledge, of beauty and manners? Now in order the better
to answer this question, let us think for a moment what are the chief
elements that have operated and are still operating in this Melbourne and
her civilization.

This is an English colony: it springs, as its poet Gordon (of whom there
will presently be something to be remarked) says, in large capitals, it
springs from “_the Anglo-Saxon race ... the Norman blood_.” Well, if
there is one quality which distinguishes this race, this blood, it is
its determined strength. Wherever we have gone, whatever we have done,
we have gone and we have done with all our heart and soul. We have made
small, if any, attempt to conciliate others. Either they have had to
give way before, or adapt themselves to us. India, America, Australia,
they all bear witness to our determined, our pitiless strength. What
is the state of the weaker nations that opposed us there? In America
and Australia they are perishing off the face of the earth; even in New
Zealand, where the aborigines are a really fine and noble race, we are,
it seems, swiftly destroying them. In India, whose climate is too extreme
for us ever to make it a colony in the sense that America and Australia
are colonies; in India, since we could neither make the aborigines give
way, nor make them adapt themselves to us, we have simply let them alone.
They do not understand us, nor we them. Of late, it is true, an interest
in them, in their religion and literature, has been springing up, but
what a strange aspect do we, the lords of India for some hundred and
thirty years, present! “In my own experience among Englishmen,” says an
Indian scholar writing to the _Times_ in 1874, “I have found no general
indifference to India, but I have found a Cimmerian darkness about the
manners and habits of my countrymen, an almost poetical description
of our customs, and a conception no less wild and startling than the
vagaries of Mandeville and Marco Polo concerning our religion.” Do we
want any further testimony than this to the determined, the pitiless
strength of “the Anglo-Saxon race ... the Norman blood?”

Well, and how does all this concern Australia in general and Melbourne
in particular? It concerns them in this way, that the civilization of
Australia, of Melbourne, is an Anglo-Saxon civilization, a civilization
of the Norman blood, and that, with all the good attendant on such a
civilization, there is also all the evil. All? Well, I will not say all,
for that would be to contradict one of the first and chief statements
I made about her, namely that “as far as she can see Melbourne has no
prejudices,” a statement which I could not make of England. “_This our
native or adopted land_,” says an intelligent Australian critic, the
late Mr. Marcus Clarke, “_has no past, no story. No poet speaks to us._”
“_No_,” we might add, “_and (thus far happily for you) neither, as far
as you can see, does any direct preacher of prejudice_.” And here, as I
take it, we have put our finger upon what is at once the strength and the
weakness of this civilization.

Let us consider it for a moment. The Australians have no prejudice about
an endowed Church, as we English have, and hence they have, what we have
not, religious liberty. As far as I can make out, there is no reason why
the wife of a clergyman of the Church of England should in this colony
look down upon the wife of a dissenting minister as her social inferior,
and this is, on the whole, I think, well, for it tends to break up the
notion of caste that exists between the two sects; it tends, I mean, to
their mutual benefit, to the interchange of the church’s sense of “the
beauty of holiness” with the chapel’s sense of the passion of holiness.
Here, then, you are better off than we. On the other hand, you have no
prejudice, as we at last have, against Protection, and consequently you
go on benefiting a class at the expense of the community in a manner that
can only, I think, be defined as short-sighted and foolish. Here we are
better off than you. Again, however, you have not the prejudice that we
have against the intervention of the State. You have nationalized your
railways, and are attempting, as much as possible, to nationalize your
land.[1] You are beginning to see that a land tax, at any given rate of
annual value, would be (as Mr. Fawcett puts it) “a valuable national
resource, which might be utilized in rendering unnecessary the imposition
of many taxes which will otherwise have to be imposed.” Here you are
better off than we, better off both in fortune and general speculation.
Again, you have not yet arrived at Federalism, and what a waste of time
and all time’s products is implied in the want of central unity! Now the
first and third of these instances show the strength that is in this
civilization, and the second shows a portion of the weakness, at present
only a small portion, but, unless vigorous measures are resorted to and
soon, this Protection will become the great evil that it is in America.
There is just the same cry there as here: “Protect the native industries
until they are strong enough to stand alone”—as if an industry that has
once been protected will ever care to stand alone again until it is
compelled to! as if a class benefited at the expense of the community
will ever give up its benefit until the community takes it away again!

On one of the first afternoons I spent in Melbourne, I remember strolling
into a well-known book-mart, the book-mart “at the sign of the rainbow.”
I was interested both in the books and the people who were looking at
or buying them. Here I found, almost at the London prices (for we get
our twopence or threepence in the shilling on books now in London),
all, or almost all, of the average London books of the day. The popular
scientific, theological, and even literary books were to hand, somewhat
cast into the shade, it is true, by a profusion of cheap English novels
and journals, but still they were to hand. And who were the people that
were buying them? The people of the dominant class, the middle-class. I
began to enquire at what rate the popular, scientific, and even literary
books were selling. Fairly, was the answer. “And how do Gordon’s poems
sell?” “_Oh they sell well_,” was the answer, “_he’s the only poet we’ve
turned out_.”

This pleased me, it made me think that the “go-ahead” element in
Victorian and Melbourne life had gone ahead in this direction also. If,
in a similar book-mart in Falmouth (say), I had asked how the poems of
Charles Kingsley were selling, it is a question whether much more than
the name would have been recognized. And yet the middle-class here is as,
and perhaps more, badly—more appallingly badly—off for a higher education
than the English provincial middle class is. Whence comes it, then, that
a poet like Gordon with the cheer and charge of our chivalry in him, with
his sad “trust and only trust,” and his

    “weary longings and yearnings
    for the mystical better things:”

Whence comes it that he is a popular poet here? Let him answer us English
for himself and Melbourne:

    “You are slow, very slow, in discerning
      that book-lore and wisdom are twain:”

Yes, indeed, to Melbourne, such as life presents itself to her, she
knows it, and, what is more, she knows that she knows it, and her
self-knowledge gives her a contempt for the pedantry of the old world.
Walk about in her streets, look at her private buildings, these banks
of hers, for instance, and you will see this. They _mean_ something,
they _express_ something: they do not (as Mr. Arnold said of our British
Belgravian architecture) “only express the impotence of the artist to
express anything.” They express a certain sense of movement, of progress,
of conscious power. They say: “Some thirty years ago the first gold
nuggets made their entry into William Street. Well, many more nuggets
have followed, and wealth of other sorts has followed the nuggets, and we
express that wealth—we express movement, progress, conscious power.—_Is
that, now, what your English banks express?_” And we can only say that
it is not, that our English banks express something quite different;
something, if deeper, slower; if stronger, more clumsy.

But the matter does not end here. When we took the instance of the books
and the people “at the sign of the rainbow,” we took also the abode
itself of the rainbow; when we took the best of the private buildings, we
took also the others. Many of them are hideous enough, we know; this is
what Americans, English, and Australians have in common, this inevitable
brand of their civilization, of their determined, their pitiless
strength. The same horrible “pot hat,” “frock coat,” and the rest, are to
be found in London, in Calcutta, in New York, in Melbourne.

Let us sum up. “The Anglo-Saxon race, the Norman blood:” a colony made
of this: a city into whose hands wealth and its power is suddenly
phenomenally cast: a general sense of movement, of progress, of conscious
power. This, I say, is Melbourne—Melbourne with its fine public buildings
and tendency towards banality, with its hideous houses and tendency
towards anarchy. And Melbourne is, after all, the Melbournians. Alas,
then, how will this city and its civilization stand the test of a
really fine city and fine civilization? how far will they answer the
requirements of such a civilization? what scope is there in them for the
satisfaction of the claims of conduct, of intellect and knowledge, of
beauty, and manners?

Of the first I have only to say that, so far as I can see, its claims
are satisfied, satisfied as well as in a large city, and in a city of
the above-mentioned composition, they can be. But of the second, of the
claims of intellect and knowledge, what enormous room for improvement
there is! What a splendid field for culture lies in this middle-class
that makes a popular poet of Adam Lindsay Gordon! It tempts one to
prophesy that, given a higher education for this middle-class, and
fifty—forty—thirty years to work it through a generation, and it will
leave the English middle-class as far behind in intellect and knowledge
as, at the present moment, it is left behind by the middle-class, or
rather the one great educated upper-class, of France.

There is still the other claim, that of beauty and manners. And it is
here that your Australian, your Melbourne civilization is, I think,
most wanting, is most weak; it is here that one feels the terrible need
of “a past, a story, a poet to speak to you.” With the Library are a
sculpture gallery and a picture gallery. What an arrangement in them
both! In the sculpture gallery “are to be seen,” we are told, “admirably
executed casts of ancient and modern sculpture, from the best European
sources, copies of the Elgin marbles from the British Museum, and other
productions from the European Continent.” Yes, and Summers stands side by
side with Michaelangelo! And poor busts of Moore and Goethe come between
Antinous and the Louvre Apollo the Lizard slayer! But this, it may be
said, is after all only an affair of an individual, the arranger. Not
altogether so. If an audience thinks that a thing is done badly, they
express their opinion, and the failure has to vanish. And how large a
portion of the audience of Melbourne city, pray, is of opinion that quite
half of its architecture is a failure, is hideous, is worthy only, as
architecture, of abhorrence? how many are shocked by the atrocity of the
Medical College building at the University? how many feel that Bourke
Street, taken as a whole, is simply an insult to good taste?

“Yes, all this,” it is said, “may be true, as abstract theory, but it is
at present quite out of the sphere of practical application. You would
talk of Federalism, and here is our good ex-Premier of New South Wales,
Sir Henry Parkes, making it the subject of a farewell denunciation. ‘I
venture to say now,’ says Sir Henry Parkes, ‘here amongst you what I
said when I had an opportunity in London, what I ventured to say to Lord
Derby himself, that this federation scheme must prove a failure.’ You
talk of Free-trade and here is what an intelligent writer in the _Argus_
says _apropos_ of ‘the promised tariff negotiations with Tasmania.’ ‘In
America,’ he says, ‘there is no difficulty in inducing the States to see
that, whatever may be their policy as regards the outside world, they
should interchange as between each other in order that they may stand on
as broad a base as possible, but we can only speculate on the existence
of such a national spirit here.’—These facts, my good sir,” it is said,
“as indicative of the amount of opposition that the nation feels to the
ideas of Free-trade and Federalism, are not encouraging.”—They are not,
let us admit it at once, but there are others which are; others, some
of which we have been considering, and, above and beyond everything,
there is one invaluable and in the end irresistible ally of these
ideas: there is _the Tendency of the Age_—_the Time-Spirit_, as Goethe
calls it. Things move more quickly now than they used to do: ideas,
the modern ideas, are permeating the masses swiftly and thoroughly and
universally. We cannot tell, we can only speculate as to what another
fifty—forty—thirty years will actually bring forth.

Free-trade—Federalism—Higher Education, they all go together. The
necessities of life are cheap here, wonderfully cheap; a man can get a
dinner here for sixpence that he could not get in England for twice or
thrice the amount. “There are not,” says the _Australasian Schoolmaster_,
the organ of the State Schools, “there are not many under-fed children in
the Australian [as there are in the English] schools.” But the luxuries
of life (and let us remember that what we call the luxuries of life
are, after all, necessities; they are the things which go to make up
our civilization, the things which make us feel that there is a greater
pleasure in life than sitting under your vine and your fig-tree, whatever
Mr. George may have to say to the contrary)—the luxuries of life, I say,
are dear here, very dear, owing to, what I must be permitted to call, an
exorbitant tariff, and, consequently, the money that would be spent in
fostering a higher ideal of life, in preparing the way for a national
higher education, is spent on these luxuries, and the claims of intellect
and knowledge, and of beauty and manners, have to suffer for it. Here
is your Mr. Marcus Clarke, for instance, talking grimly, not to say
bitterly, of “the capacity of this city to foster poetic instinct,” of
his “astonishment that such work” as Gordon’s “was ever produced here.”
He is astonished, you see, that the claims of intellect and knowledge,
and of beauty and manners are enough satisfied in this city to produce a
talent of this sort; he is astonished, because he does not see that there
is an element in this city which, in its way, is making for at any rate
the intellect and knowledge—an element which is a product, not of England
but of Australia; a general sense of movement, of progress, of conscious

Free-trade—Federalism—Higher Education, they all, I say, go together;
but if one is more important than the other, then it is the last.
Improvement, real improvement, must always be from within outwards,
not from without inwards. All abiding good comes, as it has been well
said, by evolution not by revolution. “Our chief, our gravest want in
this country at present,” says Arnold, “our _unum necessarium_, is a
middle-class, homogeneous, intelligent, civilized, brought up in good
public schools, and on the first plane.” How true is this of Australia
too, of Melbourne! There are State schools for the lower-class, but what
is there for the great upper educated class of the nation? The voluntary
schools, the “private adventure schools.” And what sort of education do
_they_ supply either in England or here? “The voluntary schools,” says
a happy shallow man in some Publishers’ circular I lit on the other
day, “the voluntary schools of the country” [of England] “have reached
the highest degree of efficiency.” This, to those who have taken the
trouble to study the question, not to say to have considerable absolute
experience in the English voluntary schools—this is intelligence as
surprising as it ought to be gratifying. To such men, the idea they had
arrived at of the English voluntary schools was somewhat different; their
idea being that these schools were, both socially and intellectually,
the most inadequate that fall to the lot of any middle class among the
civilized nations of Europe. “Comprehend,” says Arnold to us Englishmen,
and he might as well be saying it to you Australians, “comprehend that
middle-class education—the higher education, as we have put it, of the
great upper educated class—is a great democratic reform, of the truest,
surest, safest description.”

“But there are many difficulties to be overcome—so many, that we
doubt these abstract theories to be at present within the sphere of
practical application. There is such a mass of opposition to the idea of
Federalism. And, as for the idea of Free-trade, we can only speculate on
the existence of a national spirit here. The thinking public is quite
content with its State schools for the lower class, and cares little or
nothing about State schools and a higher education for the upper class.
They are much more interested in the religious questions of the day—the
Catholic attitude, the conflict between Mr. Strong and his Presbytery
on the subject of Religious Liberalism or Latitudinarianism, as you may
please to call it, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.”—All this is so, let
us admit it at once, but it does not discourage us. We know, or think
we know (which is, after all, almost the same thing), that these three
questions—Free-trade, Federalism, Higher Education—are the three great,
the three vital questions for Australia, for Melbourne. We know that,
sooner or later, they will have to be properly considered and decided
upon, and that, if Melbourne is to keep the place which she now holds
as the leading city, intellectually and commercially, of Australia,
they will have to be decided upon in that way which conforms with “the
intelligible law of things,” with the _Tendency of the Age_, with
the _Time-Spirit_. For this is the one invaluable and, in the end,
irresistible ally of Progress—of Progress onward and upward.

                                                       _December, 1884._

NOTE.—No one, speaking of Free-trade and Federalism in Australia, can
omit a tribute of thanks to the _Argus_ and the _Federal Australian_ for
what they have respectively done for the two causes. The cause of Higher
Education, however, still waits for a champion in the Press.



“In the whole range of English literature,” says an Australian critic
reviewing the complete edition of Gordon’s poems, “in the whole range
of English literature there have been few poets possessed of a finer
lyrical faculty than Adam Lindsay Gordon.... ‘Ashtaroth,’” continues our
critic now warm at his work, “‘Ashtaroth’ is worthy to rank with any of
Tennyson’s songs, and is far more musical than the best of Browning’s.”
Then there is “the beauty of his ballad poetry, such as ‘Fauconshawe’ and
‘Rippling Water,’ which are perfect of their style;” and so on in the
same strain, more or less, until the reader is surprised that our critic
ends up with no further claim for his poet than that he “deserves to be
ranked with the genuine poets of his generation.” One does not propose
to criticise, verbally, criticism of this sort: it would be unkind to do
so, and, above all, it would be useless. This is a native melody in the
style of “Rule Britannia:” “Australia, and especially Victoria, is great
and therefore her poet must be great also. Let us say that Melbourne is
the equal of any English city save London, and Gordon the equal of any
English poet save Shakspere and Milton!”

Now let us hear what another Australian critic, one who cares more about
finding out the real deep true significance of Gordon and his poetry
than of glorifying the _amour-propre_ of this class or of that: let
us hear what Mr. Marcus Clarke has to say. “Written as they were” (as
Gordon’s poems were) “at odd times in leisure moments of a stirring
and adventurous life, it is not to be wondered at if they are unequal
and unfinished. The astonishment of those who knew the man, and can
gauge the capacity of this city to foster poetic instinct, is, that
such work was ever produced here at all.”—What a different tone is
this from that of our first and enthusiastic critic! “_Unequal and
unfinished_”—“_astonishment that such work was ever produced here at
all!_” But this is not all that Mr. Clarke has to say about Gordon’s
poetry: he has also to notice what influence was at work in it, and
(most important of all!) what is its real deep true significance. He
talks of Gordon “owning nothing but a love for horsemanship and a head
full of Browning and Shelley,” and follows this up by saying that
“the influence of Browning and of Swinburne” (who, as we all know,
has been, creatively and demonstratively, the chief prophet in his
generation of the poet who, he likes to think, is ‘beloved above all
other poets, being beyond all other poets—in one word, and the only
proper word,—divine’)—“the influence of Browning and of Swinburne upon
the writer’s taste is plain. There is plainly visible also, however, a
keen sense of natural beauty and a manly admiration for healthy living.”
Well, and the conclusion of the whole matter? “The student of these
unpretending volumes will be repaid for his labour. _He will find in them
something very like the beginnings of a national school of Australian

Let us hasten to offer up our small tribute of praise and thanks to Mr.
Clarke for his critical sagacity here, and let us venture to hope that
the “Poems of Adam Lindsay Gordon” may go down to posterity accompanied
always by this small “Preface” of Mr. Clarke, who both “knew the man” and
was yet the first to appreciate this aspect of his work.

What, however, Mr. Clarke has to say about the facts of Gordon’s life
is, at best, inaccurate. It is Mr. Sutherland to whom our gratitude is
due here, gratitude for having discovered for us all the details of the
poet’s life which it is necessary for us to know.[2]

What, then, remains for any other critic to do? There remains to him,
as it seems to me, the task of doing what Mr. Clarke tells us he did
not propose to do, “of criticising these volumes,” and also of trying,
as befits one who comes later, and to whom, therefore, the events of
the past have fallen into that symmetry and proper proportion that the
events of the present can scarcely ever fall into: of trying, I say, to
bring out more clearly (one aspect of which he has done little more than
indicate), the real, deep, true significance of the poet’s work; in a
word, of trying to understand, instead of being “astonished” at it.

The first thing to notice about Gordon’s poetry is, that it is almost
all in regular and rymed rhythms. There is not a line of blank verse in
it. Now, a “fine faculty” for regular and rymed rhythms is by no means
a synonym for a “fine lyrical faculty.” Shelley, our greatest master
in poetry of pure melody, has a “fine faculty” for regular and rymed
rhythms, but has also a fine faculty for irregular rhythms: lines in
which the regular rhythm is broken, in order that a more subtle melody
may be expressed, are frequent in him. In Mr. Swinburne such lines are
rare—he has a fine faculty for regular and rymed rhythms, but his faculty
for irregular rhythms is (let us say) less fine. Gordon, who is the
disciple of this first side of Mr. Swinburne’s technical talent, who, in
his turn, is a disciple of the first side of Shelley’s—Gordon, I say, is
in this respect to Mr. Swinburne what Mr. Swinburne is to Shelley.

Mr. Hammersley, one of the few survivors of that peculiar phase of
colonial and Victorian feeling which produced the poetry of Gordon, and
who “may say he knew him intimately” —tells us[3] how he “was often
amused to hear him quote from the poets, and his recitations used to make
me laugh outright. One day I said, ‘Hang it, Gordon, you can write good
poetry, but you can’t read.’” What was the matter with his “reading,”
then? He used to “read” in “a sing-song fashion.” Mr. Woods, too, tells
us[4] that “Gordon had an odd way of reciting poetry, and his delivery
was monotonous; but,” he adds, “his way of emphasising the beautiful
portions of what he recited was charming from its earnestness.” Gordon’s
criticism on his own verses was: “They don’t _ring_ so badly after all,
old fellow, do they?” He had no faculty for irregular rhythms. He cannot,
then, be said to possess a “fine lyrical faculty;” he possessed a fine
faculty for regular and rymed rhythms. (As for his rymes, as rymes, they
are as a rule excellent, although there is often too little of the “poet
or prophet,” as he says, in them, and too much of the “jingler of rymes,”
the dealer in “verse-jingle chimes.”) Since, however, this faculty of
his is a fine faculty, it must not be described as (in the usual and
bad sense of the word) imitative. There are, I think, passages in him
that Byron might have written (“To my Sister”), that Lord Tennyson might
have written (“The Road to Avernus,” scene x.), that Mr. Swinburne might
have written (“A Dedication”), and the latter are frequent. In no other
poets, save Wordsworth and the earlier works of Mr. Arnold, do I find
precisely this same sort of (shall I say) parallelism of feeling and
expression on certain subjects that I do in Mr. Swinburne and Gordon. But
it is, I think, very open to question whether Gordon would have grown,
as Mr. Arnold has, into a purely distinctive style of his own. Gordon
is terribly lacking in variety: to live with a close study of him for
several days is one of the most trying of critical tasks. “My rymes,” he

    “My rymes, are they stale? If my metre
      is varied, one chime rings through all;
    one chime—though I sing more or sing less,
      I have but one string to my lute.”

I doubt, I say, whether under any circumstances Gordon would have
produced, as Mr. Hammersley thought, “poems worthy to be ranked with some
of the masterpieces of the English language.” He had not patience enough,
he had not clear-sightedness enough! “A more dare-devil rider,” says Mr.
Hammersley, “never crossed a horse.... As a steeplechase rider he was, of
course, in the very first rank, and his name is indelibly associated with
many of the most famous chases run in Victoria, although in my opinion,
and I think in that of many good judges too, he was deficient in what
is termed ‘good hands,’ and when it came to a finish was far behind a
Mount or a Watson.” (And, considering his shortsightedness, which Mr.
Woods designates as “painful,” this is not to be wondered at). It is the
same with his poetry. All in his poetry that is good has been done at
a rush; the rest is inferior, poor, and sometimes quite worthless. He
has little, if any, sense of real artistic workmanship either in whole
or in parts: “he is deficient in what is termed ‘good hands.’” Take,
for instance, his dramatic lyric, “Ashtaroth.” It is worth reading.
There are two beautiful songs in it, “On the Current,” and “Oh! days
and years departed.” There are a few fine passages, a few fine dramatic
touches, in it, and one splendid outburst of Orion’s (“I hate thee not,
thy grievous plight”), but the poem, taken as a whole is, I say, worth
reading. Many of the speeches are weak, and some are not poetry at all,
but rymed prose, and bad at that. A sustained effort, such as a piece
like this requires, was impossible to him. I say nothing of the ludicrous
attempt at an adaptation of Faust, Mephistopheles and Margarete, which
is the basis of the poem: I merely remark that, judged by its own poor
standard of judgment, it is quite a failure. Perhaps some day we shall
have a selection from the poet’s work, from which what is worthless will
be eliminated, in order that all our attention may be fixed on what is
good, and perhaps the selector will have the courage to dismiss all this
poem, save some dozen or so of extracts, into the gulf of oblivion or
an appendix. Encumbered as Gordon at present is with such an amount of
worthless work, there is a danger that much of what is good may perish

All his poetry that is good, I say, has been done at a rush. The dramatic
touches in it are as frequent as they are fine. Take, for instance, this
from the “Rhyme of Joyous Guard.”—Lancelot, old, worn-out, feeling that
“there is nothing good for him under the sun but to perish as” (his
bright past) “has perished,” is thinking of the close of his career
and Arthur’s: of the discovery of his amour with Guinevere, his siege
in Joyous Guard, his encounters with “brave Gawain,” whom he virtually
slew, and then “the crime of Modred,” and “the king by the knave’s hand

    “And the once-loved knight, was he there to save
      that knightly king who that knighthood gave?
    _Ah, Christ! will he greet me as knight or knave_
      _in the day when the dust shall quicken?_”

This is splendid! And, as I have said, it by no means stands alone. As
a set-off against this excellence of his, is the defect of prolixity.
Byron had it, but Byron was an unsurpassed improviser, not an artist.
Like, too, his technical master of the “Poems and Ballads” when he gets
hold of a regular or rymed rhythm that pleases him, Gordon will go on
making it “ring,” listening as the “verse-jingle chimes,” till we are all
quite weary of it. He is regardless of what Goethe calls “the æsthetic
whole.” Indeed, it may justly be said that few, very few, of his poems
are “æsthetic wholes” at all, but only passages.

So much, then, for the outward form of his poetry. We have now to
consider what is the significance to us of his life and work, of his
personality, and of his “criticism of life.”

In the first place, let us begin by stating that Gordon _has_ a
personality. Mr. Hammersley tells us how “at times Gordon was the
strangest, most weird, mysterious man I ever saw, and I could not help
feeling almost afraid of him, and yet there was a fascination about him
that made me like to see him.” There was the fascination of his converse.
“He was one of the few men I have known in the colonies,” asseverates
Mr. Hammersley, “that never made me tire of listening to him.” And there
was the fascination of his individuality: “His wild haunting eye,” “a
look something like what is termed the evil eye.” (This reminds one
of what Mr. Clarke has to say about “the dominant note of Australian
scenery: Weird Melancholy.”) Mr. Woods’ whole article bears witness
to this personal fascination of Gordon’s. Well, it is the same in his
poetry: I mean, that it is the same as Mr. Hammersley _means_. There is
attraction in Gordon. We want to go to see anything that he has had to do
with. We seek out his grave and brood over it.[5] He is the Australian
fellow to Baudelaire and James Thomson, the last martyrs, let us hope,
to our terrible period of transition from the Old World into the New,
from Mediævalism into Modernity. There is attraction in Gordon. We should
like to have seen and known the original of Laurence Raby, of Maurice,
of the man of the “Sea-spray and Smoke-Drift,” and “Bush Ballads and
Galloping Rhymes.” He is an individuality, and a modern and a colonial
individuality. He looks at life as it is, not as it is represented.

    “In thy grandeur, oh sea! we acknowledge,
      in thy fairness, oh earth! we confess,
    hidden truths that are taught in no college,
      hidden songs that no parchment express.”

And, as for the pedants of the Old World, why! (as we know)

    “They are slow, very slow, in discerning
      that book-lore and wisdom are twain.”

Here, then, is the first charm in Gordon, and his work; they are
modern, they represent the main-current of the age, not some side-water
or back-water, that are perhaps nice enough in their way, but
still—side-waters or back-waters, and _only_ side-waters or back-waters.

Gordon and his work are modern, but not wholly modern; he belongs, as I
have said, to a period of transition. Like Mary Magdalene, he feels that
“they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid Him.”
He has lost the Old, and he has not won the New Faith. He is a poet of
the twilight and the dawn. “On this earth so rough,” he says,

    “on this earth so rough, we know quite enough,
      _and, I sometimes fancy, a little too much_,”

and so, we have to suffer! Burns, Byron, Leopardi, Heine, Musset,
Baudelaire, Clough, Thomson—greater and lesser, this is true of them all!
Their early life is embittered by it, their later life made desperate.
“Years back,” says Gordon,

    “Years back I believed a little,
      and as I believed I spoke.”

Years back he could utter prayer, years back when he was a child. He
cannot utter it now: “For prayer must die since hope is dead.” _Now_ he
can only wonder

    “Is there nothing real but confusion?
      is nothing certain but death?
    is nothing fair, save illusion?
      is nothing good that has breath?...”

“I can hardly vouch,” he says, again,

                    “I can hardly vouch
    for the truth of what little I see....
    On earth there’s little worth a sigh,
        and nothing worth a tear.”

But ah,

    “the restless throbbings and burnings
      that hope unsatisfied brings,
    the weary longings and yearnings
      for the mystical better things....
    There are others toiling and straining
      ’neath burdens graver than mine—
    They are weary, yet uncomplaining—
      I know it, yet I repine.
    I know it, how time will ravage,
      how time will level, and yet
    I long with a longing savage,
      I regret with a fierce regret....”

We are sorely tired, “we, with our bodies thus weakly, with hearts hard
and dangerous.”

            “We have suffered and striven
    till we have grown reckless of pain,
    though feeble of heart, and of brain.”

Who has expressed the malady of our time better? “Our burdens are heavy,
our natures weak,” he says again. We cannot escape from them:

    “Round about one fiery centre
      wayward thoughts like moths revolve;”

We cannot write a description of a horse-race without letting them come
in, without calling our description by a name expressive of them—“_Ex
fumo dare lucem:_”

    “_Till the good is brought forth from evil,_
      _as day is brought forth from night._—
    Vain dreams! for our fathers cherished
      high hopes in the days that were;
    and these men wondered and perished,
      nor better than these we fare;
    And our due at least is their due,
      they fought against odds and fell;
    “_En avant les enfants perdus!_”
      We fight against odds as well.”

_Enfant perdu_: so the dying Heine calls himself. _Enfants perdus_, that
is what they were! The storms of our terrible period of transition raged
about them: “they could not wait their passing,” as Arnold says—

    “they could not wait their passing, they are dead.”

“I am slow,” says Gordon,

    “I am slow in learning, and swift in
      forgetting, and I have grown
    so weary with long sand-sifting!
      T’wards the mist, where the breakers moan
    the rudderless bark is drifting,
    through the shoals of the quick-sands shifting—
    In the end shall the night-rack lifting,
      discover the shores unknown?”

The idea of killing himself seems to have been with him from almost the
first. It was not “bitter” to him: “man in his blindness” taught so; but,
to him that

                            “mystic hour
    when the wings of the shadowy angel lower,”

was not without its charm. “When I first heard the sad news,” Mr.
Hammersley tells us, “I was not the least surprised. I really expected
that what did happen would happen.” We all know Gordon’s poem, “De Te.”
The last two verses of it are the best criticism that we have to offer
“of him,” “found dead in the heather, near his home, with a bullet from
his own rifle in his brain:”

    “No man may shirk the allotted work,
      the deed to do, the death to die;
    at least I think so—neither Turk,
      nor Jew, nor infidel am I—
    And yet I wonder when I try
      to solve one question, may or must,
    and shall I solve it by-and-bye,
      beyond the dark, beneath the dust?
    _I trust so, and I only trust._

    “Aye what they will, such trifles kill.
      Comrade, for one good deed of yours,
    your history shall not help to fill
      the mouths of many brainless boors.
    It may be death absolves or cures
      the sin of life. ’Twere hazardous
    to assert so. If the sin endures,
      say only, ‘_God, who has judged him thus,_
    _be merciful to him, and us:_’”

And his work, his “criticism of life?” Is there nothing in it but
this “_trust and only trust_?” There is more, much more! “There is
plainly visible,” says Mr. Clarke, “a keen sense of natural beauty,
and a manly admiration for healthy living ... a very clear perception
of the loveliness of duty and of labour.” Let us see if this, too, is
so, or if any qualification of this remark is needed; and, if so, what

Gordon’s life and work were a failure. He himself would, I am sure, have
been the first to admit it and have assigned the cause, and rightly, to
bad luck in general and certain failings in himself in particular. Is it
not bad luck to be born into an age that makes of its poets its martyrs?
Gordon struggled and schemed. He was a livery-stable keeper, a landowner,
a member of assembly, a keeper of racehorses, and a failure in all.
It was only as jockey and stockrider that he was a success—that is to
say, an object of admiration to others and of happiness to himself. “He
sometimes,” says Mr. Woods, “compared the lot of a bushman with that of
other states of mankind, saying that it was in many ways preferable to
any one,” and for himself he was right. Let us not lament his failure in
what he was not meant to be a success. Gordon, happy in life and love,
might well have become at best a _dilettante_, at worst a materialized
blockhead, he has so little patience, so little clear-sightedness!
Perhaps it is, after all, better as it is. The axe cuts down the sandal
tree, and the tree sheds forth its perfume.

    “Our sweetest songs are those which tell of saddest thought.”

We love a poet more for what he has suffered than what he has done, and
yet ultimately, if we will only see it, what he suffers and what he does
are the same. As boys we love our Byron and our Shelley; as men our
Goethe and our Shakspere. Gordon, I say, as poet and failure is better
than prose-man and success. But see now what he has to say about this
life in which he failed so.

Firstly, there is all the doubt and bewilderment of a period of

    “We are children lost in the wood.”

“Lord,” prays this woman that loves Laurence Raby,

    “Lord, lead us out of this tangled wild,
    where the wise and the prudent have been beguiled,
      and only the babes have stood.”


    “Onward! onward! still we wander,
      nearer draws the goal;
    Half the riddle’s read, we ponder
      vainly on the whole....
    Onward! onward! toiling ever,
      weary steps and slow;
    doubting oft, despairing never,
      to the goal we go!”

To what goal? Well,

    “The chances are I go where most men go.”

Let us leave the rest with God—God whose “dealings with us” are
unfathomable, God who is “fathomless.” Thus he achieves his resignation.
But he never blinds himself to things; he never answers “the painful
riddle of the earth” by “stopping up his mouth with a clod” (as Heine
says). This world is a

        “world of rapine and wrong,
    where the weak and the timid seem lawful prey
      for the resolute and the strong.”

Sometimes there rises in him the

    “wail of discordant sadness for the wrongs he never can right,”

for the brothers, and ah for the sisters, he cannot help. But sometimes,
also, he bursts forth into “a song of gladness, a pæan of joyous might.”
Both are in him: the wail for the lost Lord and the thanksgiving to God
for his “GLORIOUS OXYGEN.” (The capitals are his own.) With the first, we
have done: let us look at the second and see what he has to show us of
living and loving, of action and women, and then see what he has to show
us of life as a whole, “the conclusion of the whole matter.”

I have said elsewhere that there is in Gordon the cheer and charge of our
chivalry. There is. He was well worthy of a place in the charge of our
cavalry at Waterloo, or Balaclava. There is in him that “magnificence”
which now, alas, as the Frenchman truly said, “is not war.” These men
“glory in daring that dies or prevails.” And when, as at Balaclava, they
die, their poet exclaims (in capitals)—

                “not in vain,
    as a type of our chivalry!”

What exclamations of rapture such a sight draws from him!

    “Oh! the moments of yonder maddening ride,
      long years of life outvie!...
    God send me an ending as fair as his,
      who died in his stirrups there!...”

Here is a race:—

    “They came with the rush of the southern surf,
      on the bar of the storm-girt bay;
    and like muffled drums on the sounding turf
      their hoof-strokes echo away.”

I know no poetry that describes the rush of horsemen quite as Gordon
does. Take this description of the Balaclava charge from his “Lay of the
Last Charger.”

    “Now we were close to them, every horse striding
      madly;—St. Luce pass’t with never a groan;—
    Sadly my master look’d round—he was riding—
      on the boy’s right, with a line of his own.

    “Thrusting his hand in his breast or breast-pocket,
      while from his wrist the sword swung by a chain,
    swiftly he drew out some trinket or locket,
      kiss’t it (I think) and replaced it again.

    “Burst, while his fingers reclined on the haft,
      jarring concussion and earth-shaking din,
    Horse counter’d horse, and I reel’d, _but he laugh’t,_
      _down went his man, cloven clean to the chin_!”

Lord Tennyson has watched his charge through Mr. Russell’s field-glass,
and we follow his view of it, but Gordon has ridden it and takes us with
him. Old and miserable, the friend of the man who had ridden this “Last
Charger,” offers up the same prayer as the man who had “visioned it in
the smoke:”

    “Would to God I had died with your master, old man,”


    “he was never more happy in life than in death.”

What I find so admirable in Gordon, and in almost all his characters is,
that they are _men_, I mean _men_ as opposed to dreamers or students.
His Lancelot _is_ Lancelot, the knight who has lived and loved largely.
Tennyson’s is not. I must confess that I really think that “The Rhyme
of Joyous Guard” is worth all the other “Idylls of the King,” save
“Lancelot and Elaine,” and “The Passing of Arthur,” put together. I mean
that I really think it has more real deep true significance. Take this
conclusion, the last prayer of Lancelot, old and passed from the world:

    “If ever I smote as a man should smite,
    if I struck one stroke that seem’d good in Thy sight,
      by Thy loving mercy prevailing,
    Lord! let her stand in the light of Thy face,
    cloth’d with Thy love, and crown’d with Thy grace,
    when I gnash my teeth in the terrible place
      that is fill’d with weeping and wailing.”

This is splendid! His men, I say, are _men_, men such as we find in
Byron. Orion (Satan) says that

      “The angel Michael was once my foe;
    _He had a little the best of our strife,_
      _yet he never could deal so stark a blow._”

The lover in “No Name,” thinking of meeting “the slayer of the soul” he
loved, says:

    “And I know that if, here or there, alone,
      I found him fairly, and face to face,
    _having slain his body, I would slay my own,_
      _that my soul to Satan his soul might chase_:”

a remark in the strain of Heathcliff. Most of his lovers love
passionately and sensuously, and only passionately and sensuously: The
poet “revels in the rosy whiteness of that golden-headed girl:” if one
thing is harder to forgive to a successful rival than another it is that

      “he has held her long in his arms,
    and has kissed her over and over again:”

his chief regret over a dear dead girl is

    “for the red that never was fairly kiss’d—
      for the white that never was fairly press’d:”

and, when he leaves his love for ever, he is in anguish at the thought

    “’twill, doubtless, be another’s lot
        those very lips to press:”

a remark in the more morbid strain of Keats to Fanny Brawne.

When Lancelot first kisses Guinevere, he, the mighty knight, “well nigh
swoons.” Love, with Gordon’s lovers, “consumes their hearts with a fiery
drought.” “Laurence,” says Estelle to her lover,

    “Laurence, you kiss me too hard:”

and the man of “Britomarte” is at hand with the appropriate criticism that

    “men at the bottom are merely brutes.”

But we must not think that _all_ Gordon’s lovers love in this way, any
more than that all his men merely charge and cheer. The battle is over.

    “And what then? The colours reversed, the drums muffled,
      the black nodding plumes, the dead march and the pall,
    the stern faces, soldier-like, silent, unruffled,
      the slow sacred music that floats over all.”

This is beautiful, and no less beautiful is the tenderness of his love.

    “A grim grey coast, and a sea-board ghastly,
      and shores trod seldom by feet of men—
    where the batter’d hulk and the broken mast lie,
      they have lain embedded these long years ten.
    _Love! when we wandered here together,_
    _hand in hand through the sparkling weather,_
    _from the heights and hollows of fern and heather,_
          _God surely loved us a little then._”

Nor is it rare to find passages in him

    “with the song like the song of a maiden,
      with the scent like the scent of a flower.”

For “dark and true and tender is the north” with all its storm and stress.

Poor “sick stock-rider” and poet, with his wild eyes and wild words,
and that “shyness and reserve which kept him locked up, as it were, in
himself!” Our proud, passionate heart “out-wore its breast” as “the
sword outwears its sheath,” and so we “took our rest,” but not before we
had won our resignation and known, or almost known, the truth, even as
Empedocles did, and yet died because “he was come too late”—or too soon—

    “and the world hath the day, and must break thee,
    not thou the world.”

Gordon won his resignation, and knew, or almost knew, the truth. The
“criticism of life” that we find in the first two scenes of “The Road
to Avernus” is almost ripe: pessimistic, it is true, but almost ripe.
Laurence has lost his love, (and Laurence, let us remember, is the lover
that “kisses too hard!”) Does he despair in the strain of “Rolla,” or
“bluster,” and take refuge in the breast of “the wondrous mother age,”
and the “vision of the world” in the strain of the man of “Locksley
Hall?” No, he has lost his love, and the loss is bitter, but

    “such has been, and such shall still be, here as there, in sun or star.
    These things are to be and will be; those things were to be and are.”

“As it was so,” he says again,

    “as it was so in the beginning,
      it shall be so in the end.”

There is the feeling here of a man who is striving to see things as they
are. He will not blind himself to things: he will not answer “the painful
riddle of the earth” by “stopping up his mouth with a clod.” He will have
true faith, or no faith. Fate rules us, he sees:

    “Man thinks, discarding the beaten track,
      that the sins of his youth are slain,
    when he seeks fresh sins, but he soon comes back
      to his old pet sins again....
    Some flashes like faint sparks from heaven,
      come rarely with rushing of wings;
    We are conscious at times, we have striven,
      though seldom, to grasp better things;
    These pass, leaving hearts that have faltered,
      good angels with faces estranged,
    and the skin of the Æthiop unalter’d,
      and the spots of the leopard unchanged.”

And yet life, life as life, independent of living and loving, of activity
and women, is not altogether hopeless:

    “Doubtless all are bad, yet few are
      cruel, false, and dissolute.”

He never gets any farther than this. He sees, or almost sees, truth, as
Moses saw Canaan, and then he fails. He has not had patience enough,
not clear-sightedness enough! He cannot enter the Promised Land. “In
defiance of pain and terror he has pressed resolutely across the howling
deserts of Infidelity;” but he has not the strength left to do more
than reach “the new, firm lands of Faith beyond.” He has loved life,
living and loving, activity and women, and he has not feared to look
into the reality of things, man and Nature and God, their sunshine and
their shadow, their life and their death, and there is no hesitation in
his message to us—“Onward! Onward!”—But that is all. He knows nothing
of _how_ we are to go onward, or to _where_. He has had enough to do to
get himself as far as he has got, to achieve what he has achieved. His
life and work are a failure. We cannot for a moment think of calling
him a great poet: his claim on our interest as a poet is that he is one
of the poets, one of the martyrs, of our terrible period of transition,
and that in him is to be found “something very like the beginnings of a
national school of Australian poetry.” Of this second aspect of him—of
how he is representative of what I have taken to be the distinctive marks
of this Australian, this Melbourne civilisation, its general sense of
movement, of progress, of conscious power: of this aspect of him I have
spoken elsewhere, too, and there seems no need to do more here than to
repeat the assertion. But, for my part, I cannot lay the stress on either
this aspect of him, or the other which makes him “the poet of Australian
scenery,” that I do on the first aspect of him. Gordon’s life and work
are a failure, but they are a failure with enough redeeming points to
raise them from local, or even colonial, into general interest. As our
first and enthusiastic critic puts it: “he deserves to be ranked with
the genuine poets of his generation,” and I feel sure that he ultimately
will be. For he is representative not only of Australian, but of
modern feeling: he tells not only of Australia from the fifties to the
seventies, but of our terrible period of transition from the Old World
into the New, from Mediævalism into Modernity.

Poor “sick stock-rider” and poet, with his wild eyes and wild words—Our
proud, passionate heart “outwore its breast,” as “the sword outwears
its sheath,” and so we “took our rest.” “Sleep!” says Mr. Swinburne, in
the most beautiful and satisfactory of his poems, “Ave atque Vale,” the
lament over another of the martyrs—the author of “Les Fleurs du Mal:”—

    “Sleep; and, if life were bitter to thee, pardon,
      if sweet, give thanks; thou hast no more to live;
      and to give thanks is good, and to forgive ...
    Content thee, howsoe’er, whose days are done;
      There lies not any troublous thing before,
      nor sight nor sound to war against thee more,
    for whom all winds are quiet as the sun,
      all waters as the shore.”

                                                         _January, 1885._




When a man speaks of Modern Europe, he is generally taken to mean the
Europe of steam and electricity. As a matter of fact, Modern Europe
really dates back to about the middle of the last century, when certain
ideas which we call “modern” first began to be promulgated. And these
ideas were not, as in this expression “Modern Europe” it is tacitly
supposed, merely scientific; they were not only concerned with steam and
electricity; they were social. And thus, when we use the expression,
if we are to use it, in this particular sense, we should remember that
it means, not only that the whole world is netted with railways and
telegraphs, but also that, speaking generally, the European races are
no longer governed by kings or aristocracies, but by middle-classes or,
as some prefer to put it, by peoples. And this, as I take it, is far
the more important fact of the two. I will go further, and say that it
is the most important fact of our civilization—nay, that it _is_ our
civilization, and that, therefore, whoever would seek to understand the
meaning of any movement, great or small, which is taking place in our
civilization, must seek it here, and here only! Our civilization is our
government by the Middle-class or, as some prefer to put it, by the
People. But that these individuals who prefer to put it so are, let us
say, if not mistaken, at any rate inaccurate, is precisely what I want
in this little article to try to show, and in as striking a manner as I
can, so that, not only may I try to do something towards making clear
to us the real deep true significance of a much misunderstood movement,
but also that of a much more misunderstood power—the Middle-class of the
European races. I do not propose to go through my subject thoroughly: to
do so would require more time and more space than any editor could afford
me. I shall merely touch on one phase of the great spiritual movement
which is at present permeating the European races, and then turn to
consider another phase of it—a phase which is of peculiar interest to us
of England, America, and Australia.


In Europe there is but one country that still suffers the despotism of
an aristocracy, and that country is Russia. The modern ideas, the modern
social ideas, have taken all this time to pass from France, Germany,
and England into Russia, and have seized on what, for lack of a better
word, I might call, its nascent middle-class. The results have been, and
still are, wonderful and terrible. A group of men (for they are little
more) has suddenly realised that the immense mass of the People is being
despotised over in the interest of a group in reality little larger than
itself. All, I will not say freedom, but possibilities of freedom are
resolutely withheld. Russia at present has not the guaranteed protection
of its men’s and women’s liberties which the English of the fourteenth,
the thirteenth, the twelfth, the eleventh, the tenth centuries had!
This to-day is a state of things which cannot continue. The group of
men who see and feel this, not clearly and quietly as we outsiders can,
but intensely and passionately, is waging a duel to the death with the
other group, with the despotism, for the bare principles of freedom.
On the one hand are knowledge and light, on the other ignorance and
darkness, the modern against the ancient spirit. But, thanks to the
fact that there are men whose whole interest is to resist the one and
support the other to the last, the light has become lightning and not
only irradiates but strikes. It is considered by some a question whether
this despotism, armed with all resources of wealth and military power,
will be able to stamp out this group before the immense mass of the
People is awakened to the meaning of it all. Others, however, merely
consider whether the Russian government will be destroyed by a revolution
or constitutionalized by a reform. We English, you see, consider it all
clearly and quietly as mere outsiders, and so, as regards the _aspect_ of
the problem, we are; but not, not as regards the problem itself! These
modern ideas, these social ideas, are working not only in Russia, where
the abuses which surround them make them burn so fiercely, but more or
less all over Europe, and in England rather more than less. Ireland,
we all see, smoulders with them. And why, pray? Because England and
Ireland are always snarling at one another, “it being their nature to?”
Not so. It is because that aspect of the problem which is presented to
Great Britain generally is a little more pressing in Ireland than in
England or Scotland. The trouble in Ireland is not national but social.
The strife is not between Irish and English: it is between peasants and
landlords. Unhappily many landlords are English: unhappily many peasants
believe that the English as a nation support the landlords as a class.
Hence whatever Irish hatred of England there may be; but the trouble is
not, I repeat, national, it is social. It is the People rising against
the Middle-class.

Well, this movement, whether it be in Russia, in England, in Germany,
in France, in America, we are all pretty well agreed to call the
Socialistic movement. It represents the effort of the People after social
improvement. It took its rise not from _within_ the people, but from
_without_. The French, English, and German Socialists were originally
groups of men who suddenly realized that the immense mass of the People
was being despotized over in the interest of the Middle-class. Each
country has its peculiar aspect of this fact, but the fact is the same
in each. In France the Middle-class made and supported the Empire, and,
having stamped out the People’s wild attempt at power in ’71, made and
supports the Republic. In Germany—dismembered Germany—the problem was
pushed back before the apparently greater one of national unity, but now
it arises again and demands solution. In England the landed proprietors,
and still more the capitalists, are beginning to have qualms; but the
real struggle does not lie between them and the Socialists: they are but
overgrown individuals of a class. There will be no more Tories and no
more Conservatives: the future lies in the struggle between Liberals and
Socialists, the Middle-class and the People.

This Socialistic movement, then, took its rise not from _within_ the
People but from _without_, and not in connection with Religion, the
great ally of the powers that were, the Middle-class, but on the whole
antagonistic to it. This movement took its rise in men of intellect who
had little or no care for Religion, and its tendency is intellectual and
careless of Religion. The Middle-class has shown nothing but dislike to
this movement: the Middle-class has understood enough of the ideas of
this movement to know that they are subversive of its own superiority.
As for the People, they have understood little or nothing. Socialists
tell them, what is indeed the truth, that they are the masters:
that to-morrow, if they pleased, they could send a parliament up to
Westminster that should dictate what terms they pleased to “their lords
and masters, the landowners and the capitalists.” The People does not
happily believe it. They are so hopeless: they have been deceived so
often by those who said they would help them. (Bill here, you see, with
a wife and six children, all living in a den that the Zoological people
would consider unfit for a hyena—Bill cannot be made to understand how
the question comes home to _him_!) Besides which, let us say it at once
and insist upon it, the People is the most long-suffering of all things:
it desires to despoil no man, it only desires the happiness which mere
food, clothing, and a house will give it.

In this state of affairs—the powerlessness of the Socialists to bring
home to the People the great idea of social improvement—lie the causes of
the religious movement whose best-known and best representative is the
Salvation Army.


Consider it—first generally and then particularly.

In Russia the People has religion and no freedom. In England the People
has freedom and no religion. (In both, let us add, the People has misery
unspeakable). The one question presses for solution in the one country,
the other in the other. The two most piteous spectacles in Europe are
the religious People of Russia, and the free People of England. The
Aristocracy which governs the one, the Middle-class which governs the
other, both are equally indifferent to the People. Add to the fact of
the utter want of religion of the English People (it is understood that
by People I mean the masses), the fact of their utter want of, I will
not say the comforts, but the necessities of life, and you have a field
for revolution such as nowhere else, I believe, presents itself save
in Russia herself.—I speak in the present, as if the problem presented
itself to me to-day just as it did years ago, and I am delighted to
notice that at last the English Middle-class is awakening to the fact of
the misery of the People, and also of the danger of letting that misery
continue. But it is quite a mistake to suppose that either the one or the
other is mitigated, not to say ended, or that it will be so for years to

Religion in England—and Religion has, inaptly enough, become a
synonym for Christianity, in which general sense of the term I use it
here—Religion in England, just like everything else, is conducted in
the interest of the Middle-class. Go into the London back-streets on
a sunday morning. You will find the men leaning against the walls, the
women at the doors, the children in the gutters. The public-houses,
you observe, are closed: the Middle-class does not like that the
People should be drinking beer and spirits while they themselves are
indulging in religious worship. Enter the church or the chapel. What are
the services like? We all know them—a performance on the part of the
choir, or a discreet, sibilant, half-articulate murmur on the part of
the congregation. The clergyman or minister reads out a portion of the
wonderful and beautiful history of Jesus in a fine meaningless monotone,
and “here endeth the second lesson.” But of the passion and the peace
of the Galilean story, what does _he_ know? He has forgotten or never
known Jesus, but he can tell you plenty about Christ. Listen to the
sermons. What do they treat of? Matters that are likely to interest the
men and women outside there? The sermons are empty of Jesus and full
of Christ—empty of the truth of the Master and full of the dogmas of
the Pupils. Theology, theological dogmas, Catholic or Protestant, are
perhaps interesting to men and women who are well to do, and like to
have something to argue about; but what does poverty care for them? The
man who has eaten a good breakfast and is waiting for a good dinner may
care to have it shown to him, that he and his fellows are the one body
of Christians that is absolutely and entirely orthodox; but the man with
an empty belly, and little or no prospect of filling it, may perhaps be
forgiven for not caring a jot whether these are blasts of true or false
doctrine, or not. The matter does not affect him: he stops outside. So
should we.

Now, I would not for a moment imply that there are not priests,
clergymen, and ministers who have done, and are doing, fine and noble
work among the People. There are many such. But what I do say is, that,
speaking generally, the church and the chapel have both utterly failed
to seriously affect the mass of the People, and that they have done
so for the reasons I have given above.—“In the year 1865,” says Mr.
Booth in one of the Salvation Army pamphlets, “Mr. Booth was led, by
the Providence of God, by no plan or idea of his own, to the East of
London, where the appalling fact that the enormous bulk of the population
were totally ignorant and deficient of real religion, and altogether
uninfluenced by the existing religious organizations, so impressed him
that he determined to devote his life to _making_ these people _hear_
and _know_ God, and thus save them from the abyss of misery in which they
were plunged, and rescue them from the damnation that was before them.
The Salvation Army is the result.” _The Salvation Army is the result._ He
simply states the fact. It was “by no plan or idea of his own.” He has,
so far as I know, never explained more than the phenomena of it.[6] I
have talked with one of his sons on the subject, and all he has to tell
me in explanation of 859 corps or stations, 2041 paid officials, and
_War Cry_ newspapers with a weekly circulation of 550,000, is _how_, as
he takes it, the Salvationists “get at” the People; but he knows, and
probably cares, absolutely nothing about the _why_. “The grate was set,”
I say, “You were the match, and behold the fire!” “It is the Lord,” he
says, and I do not think of contradicting him. It is not natural that a
man who takes part in a movement should know more than the _how_ of it,
should know the _why_. If he did, he would not be as unhesitating as he
is in his belief that his movement is so good. To achieve little we must
aim at much. He who lives passionately in the present must leave the dead
to bury their dead and the babes unborn to consider their suckling: he
must create, he has not time to criticise. At the same time how important
it is that there should be not only doers but watchers; not only creators
but critics; not only those who concern themselves with the _how_ but
also those who concern themselves with the _why_, for the _why_ unlocks
the gates of both the past and the future: it tells us not only the
_whence_ but also the _whither_.

Now, as I have said, in a certain state of affairs which we have noticed
lies _this why_, and there, if we can only look well enough, we shall
find it. The Salvation Army is, like everything else an organism. It
has its seed, and all its stages of development up to its maturity and
down into its decay, when it, too, like everything else, will go to form
nutriment for other organisms, just as others have for its own.

Now, nothing will help us more in our search after this _why_ than a
knowledge of the _how_, and, since this knowledge is, at any rate among
the governing classes, wonderfully limited, I propose giving a short
account of how the Salvation Army and its work has struck me personally.
It seems almost needless to state that I am an unprejudiced observer.
The Salvation Army, as the Salvation Army, is literally nothing to me:
my only interest in it lies in the influence which it exerts, whether
for good or evil, on the People. I have no cause to plead. If anyone can
point out mistakes of mine, or even demonstrate to me that my whole view
of this matter is an illusion, no one, I am sure, will be more pleased
and grateful than myself. Those are our real benefactors who demonstrate
to us an illusion and open the way to a better view of things.


I propose, I said, giving a short account of how the Salvation Army and
its work has struck me personally. When I was in England I studied it,
as I study all movements that are going on around me, with more or less
care. Since I have been in Australia I have done the same, and, as I have
found the differences between the English and Australian Salvation Armies
to be immaterial ones, and as I am now addressing an Australian audience,
I shall speak of the Salvation Army as I have seen it here, so that he
who cares may go and see for himself whether I am correct or incorrect in
my view of it. This, too, will enable him more easily, if he desires it,
to point out my mistakes and even demonstrate to me that my whole view is
an illusion, and make me his pleased and grateful debtor for life. First,
however, let me just notice what these differences between the English
and Australian Salvation Armies are. In one word the Australian is less
exaggerative. The People in Australia breathes free: it does not feel
the weight of the two great divisions of the Middle-class that is above
it, the well-to-do and the gentlemen. Workmen here do not go slouching
down the streets, as they do in England, crushed under the sense of
their inferiority. This is a true republic, the truest, as I take it,
in the world. In England the average man feels that he is an inferior:
in America he feels that he is a superior: in Australia he feels that
he is an equal. This is indeed delightful. It is the first thing that
strikes a new arrival in this country, and although Australia’s sins—sins
against true civilization, I mean—are as many as they are heinous, still
a multitude of them, as it seems to me, is covered by this—namely, that
here the People is neither servile nor insolent, but only shows its
respect of itself by its respect of others. Nowhere else but in France is
there, I think, anything quite like it.

There is, then, naturally less exaggerativeness in the Australian than
the English Salvation Army. When a man is, as they say, “saved” there,
it is from a far deeper “abyss of misery” than it is here. The very
atmosphere of England is heavy with the degradation of the People. For a
man to become, no longer passively, but actively aware of this, is almost
overwhelming, and so is his feeling when he believes that he has escaped
from it. Hence those wild words and acts of the Salvationists which have
offended so many. Add to this the excitement caused by a large gathering,
religious emulation, etc., etc., and the matter is a simple one.

Now let us go to a Salvationist popular service, and see their manner of
work there. The hall is crowded. The great bulk of the congregation is
made up of the upper stratum of the People, servants, small shopkeepers,
etc. There are also a not inconsiderable number of the lower stratum of
the People, labourers. Many outsiders have come from curiosity. On the
stage or platform are a certain number of the regular paid officials in
their uniforms, and of “hallelujah lasses” in their straight dresses
and poke-bonnets. Considering these men and women attentively, what
most strikes us is that the generality are, as Jeffrey said lightly of
Carlyle, “terribly in earnest.” Some have the business-like air of all
officials, religious or otherwise: some have a somewhat disgusted air,
as if they were rather wearying of it all, now that the novelty has worn
off. But the generality of them are, there is no doubt of it, “terribly
in earnest.” Presently the head officials enter, and the service is
opened with a hymn. The Salvationists sing well: I remember that, at the
first Salvationist service at which I was present, this singing of theirs
was something like a revelation to me. It was not its “go,” as we say,
that affected me: it was its depth and sweetness. It comes from the heart
and goes to the heart. This is the only language the People can either
use or understand.

Just beside me a little boy of four or five, standing between his
father’s knees with shut eyes and waving arm, is shouting and bawling
out the words of the hymn, so that he may attract attention and be an
“edification.” It is painful. (Later on during a prayer he lies along
the floor on his stomach and eats a green apple and pinches a bigger
boy’s legs. Myself, I prefer him like that.) During the prayers there
are frequent interruptions, chiefly from the platform, of “Hallelujah,”
“Praise God,” and so on, for the most part in a business-like fashion,
quite formal. A man cannot repeat the same words and acts for long with
impunity.—These, and things like these, are the inevitable accompaniments
of all services, religious or otherwise. We take them for granted, and
pass on.

Presently a man is brought forward to give his testimony. He begins by
saying that he never thought to address such a gathering as this, that he
is a poor ignorant man, and so on, but that he trusts in Jesus to help
him through alright. He tells his tale. It is a tale for ever old and for
ever new. He was a drunkard, he was debauched, a blasphemer. He used his
wife and children ill, he paid no heed to the clergyman and the minister.
Then a Salvationist came to him and told him about Jesus. And that
converted him, and now, etc., etc., etc. His excitement grows: his voice
rises to a high-pitched monotone. He implores, he begs, he entreats, he
abjures. “Come to Jesus, come to Jesus! It’s only him can make you happy!
You don’t know how he loves you!—O dear people,” he bursts out at length,
“I could _die_ for you, if you would only come to him!” In the end, it is
painful: the high-pitched monotone oppresses us, and we are glad when he
has ended.

Another follows, but with little or no variety. Then a girl speaks,
“happy Janet” (say). She has just the same tale to tell: it is all Jesus,
nothing but Jesus! “To think,” I heard one of these girls say, hushed
and awed, “to think that the Son of God loved us so that he suffered all
this for _us_! To think of the thorns wounding his beautiful brow!” and
her voice broke.—Janet cannot say too much about the suffering of Jesus,
because it was because he loved us all so, that he suffered. Then she
tells how she had a brother, and the brother thought he was old enough to
be by hisself, and do for hisself, and he went away, away to Màn-chester,
and they were all very sad about it, e-specially mother. And the days
and the weeks and the months went by, and they never heard anythink
about him, and they went out and up and down the town, hoping he might
come back and they might see him again, for he might be ashamed, they
thought, to come into the house. And sometimes mother’d come to wake her
up early in the morning, and say: “Come, Janet, let’s go out and look for
Tom: maybe we’ll find him _this_ morning.” And they used to go out and
look for him in the early morning, and they couldn’t find him. But at
last he _did_ come back, and O, dear people, how thin he was! Yes, he’d
had enough of it! He found he couldn’t do for hisself after all, so he
came back to mother and us, and we loved him more than ever.—And O, dear
people, that’s the way with _us_ and Jesus. We think we’re old enough
to be by ourselves and to do for ourselves. But we ar’n’t: we’re never
old enough to do without Jesus! He’s always loving us and strengthening
us and giving us peace. So come to him; don’t wait any longer but come
to him! Don’t think you’re too wicked. No one’s too wicked for Jesus:
he suffered for us and he died for us, for _you_ and _me_, and he loves
us more than all the others do, and we can’t tell how glad it makes him
when we come to him! Here, as in the singing, it is not the “go,” the
excitement, which affects us most, it is the depth and sweetness. It
comes from the heart and goes to the heart. It is the only language the
People can either use or understand.

_Jesus!_—It is always Jesus, I say, never or very rarely Christ. These
Salvationists feel and know their Master. With them he lives: with
us he exists. And Jesus is to them as some one dowered with all the
possibilities of mortal happiness who yet renounced everything from his
great love for the People, and suffered and died for them a cruel death.
Herein is the secret of the sempiternal influence of Jesus: he is the
great Lover. I do not for a moment think that these Salvationists have
any connected scheme of the character or life of Jesus. They cannot
argue about him, they would say: they know that he _lives_. They lay
little or no stress on the risen Jesus, the Christ. Their concern is
with the living Jesus, him who loved the flowers and the children and
the publicans and the harlots, him who showed his love by his life and
above all by his cruel death. This Jesus was not a philanthropist: he
was better, he was a lover. “He, who might have been a great king,
actually preferred to come and suffer and die a cruel death because
he loved us so!” This love, this pity seems to them unique, godlike.
“_To think of the thorns wounding his beautiful brow._” Hence the power
of Jesus to awaken in men a sense of sin, and, still more, a hope of
salvation. “Why,” they ask, “did this wonderful beautiful Jesus suffer
all this?—_why?_” Then comes the answer. “_Because he saw that I was a
sinner and he loved and pitied me so, that he suffered all this for my
sake._” It is an overwhelming fact. Once get a man to see it and his life
is revolutionised: he believes in Love.

Napoleon, we remember, was puzzled by this sempiternal influence of
Jesus. He remarked that he himself understood how to awaken in his
own behalf the enthusiasm of men, but he was alive, whereas Jesus was
dead. “_O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and
stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered
thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her
wings, but ye would not!_” Yearning love like this was a mystery to
our wonderful destructive Emperor: he would have called it foolish.
And to many others beside him this sempiternal influence of Jesus has
been, is, and will be the same. Here is our good Man of Science, the
immortal dunce who dates knowledge from “Social Statics” and the “Origin
of Species,” who thinks Jesus was a very fine character, you know, but
full of superstition and delusion. And here is our most irrational of
Rationalists who has a pathetic faith in the method of the late lamented
Bishop Colenso, a method which consists in the profound consideration
of the geometry of the empyrean and the colour of mathematical figures.
And lastly, here is our dear blatant Secularist whose discourse so
pleasantly shows us how a man who was a blockhead as a Christian can be
doubly a blockhead as a Secularist.—Here, I say, are these three types,
or let us take them as individuals. Here is our good friend Mr. Caffyn,
who was writing such brilliant letters to the _Argus_ the other day,
letters which show a nice acquaintance with the books of Dr. Maudsley and
the rudiments of modern physiology; and here is the late lamented Sir
Richard Hanson of Adelaide, whose mantle is just now descending on Mr.
Justice Williams; and, lastly, here is our loquacious friend at the Hall
of Science, Mr. Joseph Symes. All these gather around the poor ignorant
labourer who is “saved,” and demonstrate to him his foolishness in
believing in such an outworn piece of nonsense as Christianity. “As for
this Jesus of yours, my good man,” they say after their several fashions,
“he was a very fine character, you know, but—_he was only a man just like
you or me_!” To whom the poor ignorant labourer answers with a smile:
“Whether he be a fine character or not, I know not: one thing I know,
that, _whereas I was blind, now I see_.” Come away, Mr. Caffyn: come
away, ghost of Sir Richard: come away, Mr. Symes. It is quite useless
to talk with a besotted Christo-maniac like this. Why, he absolutely
believes that he has a spiritual experience of which you are ignorant,
and can afford to smile at you! After this, the deluge!—Gentlemen, hadn’t
you better go home to dinner, and leave the poor devil alone?

To return to the meeting, which is not yet concluded.—When the
testimonies are all given, those who feel that they have been leading a
life of sin are exhorted to come forward and profess. The hall empties.
Ten or twelve, men and women, young men and girls, come forward and
kneel down at a bench in front of the platform. Some are inclined to be
hysterical. The Salvationists, men and women, come and talk to them,
leaning against them, their arms round their shoulders, exhorting and
encouraging. This, you see, is Religious Socialism. No one can love
Jesus, “the divine Communist” (as Heine calls him), with impunity. If you
love, and to love is to know, Jesus, you must get others to love and to
know him, and your desire to get others fills you with the same yearning
love for them that Jesus has for you: “_O dear people, I could ~die~ for
you, if you would only come to him_!”

Then, when no more will come forward, the service concludes with each of
those who is “saved,” speaking before them all—saying what has come to
him to make him repent, and expressing his firm determination to lead
a better life. The first step has now been taken—the man by his public
confession is compromised. He cannot now so easily fall back. He is known
to his fellows, who will exhort and encourage him. He has every incentive
to date a new life from to-day, not to put it off over and over again to

What, is all this, then, a trap? Yes, if you care to call it so. Men,
to whom the “saved” and the “unsaved” life, the bliss of heaven and the
anguish of hell, is a passionate reality, speak of it passionately to
the ignorant or the careless, and then (like true guilefully guileless
religionists) take advantage of the moment of realization which they have
aroused in a soul, to compromise that soul before the world to lead a new
life of continual realization. You see, these Salvationists are of the
men and women of the People and they know the men and women, not only
of the People, but of each and every class of us: they know how frail
is unaided resolution, and they act on their knowledge. Do not think,
though, that they believe that weakness of will is to be found only
among the People. Far from it! They attack Respectability, they attack
the hypocrisy of the Middle-class, as fearlessly as they attack the open
sin of the People. Our good clergymen and ministers, for whom I have, in
many respects, so much admiration, are afraid to attack the Middle-class:
the Middle-class is the payer of pew-rents. Alas, alas, ye cannot serve
God and Mammon! It is really a great nuisance; but ye cannot! Now these
Salvationists do not happen to have pews: so they need not stand hat
in hand before Respectability. They can say boldly that the Publican
is as good as the Pharisee: that hypocrisy is no better, if it is not
far worse, than open sin. Look, to it, my in-so-many-respects-admirable
clergymen and ministers, you are not masters here but pupils!


I am not going to discuss the question of Salvationist ritual. Brass
bands and concertinas give but a poor idea of “the beauty of holiness:”
a dissenting chapel does the same. Banners and handkerchiefs and so
on are apt to be tawdry: so are dressed statues, standards, incense,
and the rest. But who, considering the hideousness of Protestantism
and the tawdriness of Catholicism, would therefore call Protestantism
hideous and Catholicism tawdry? Certainly not I who am so sincere an
admirer of them both. Neither, then, considering what we hear called the
Christy-Minstrelism and Music-Hallism of the Salvation Army, must we
think that, when we have called their meetings Christy Minstrels or Music
Halls, we have quite disposed of them. Alas, my dear Middle-class, cannot
you see that the People is what you, who govern the People, have made
it? Might I, a humble unit of your millions, suggest to you that it is
just because, what you call, your Upper Ten Thousand is hideous that you
are more hideous? and that it is just because you, my dear Middle-class,
are more hideous that the People is most hideous? Will it be many ages,
I wonder, before you can be got to see this?—to see that you had better
take the mote out of your own eye before you are so enthusiastic about
taking the beams out of the eyes of your neighbours?

If, however, anyone wants to see what Mr. Booth himself has to say
in defence of his “Colours, Bands of Music, Processions, and other
sensational methods employed” (as he says), I would refer him to a
little penny pamphlet called “All about the Salvation Army,” which
can be got at the Salvation Army Head-quarters in Russell Street. For
myself, I have nothing to do with this side of the question: I profess
that I consider most church-bells are as bad as most brass-bands, and am
profoundly indifferent as to whether they are, as Mr. Booth would like
to know, “unscriptural” or not. I am of opinion that the admirers of
church-bells and brass-bands had better fight it out among themselves.

I have as good as said that what makes the outer strength of the
Salvationists is their realization of Jesus as liver and lover. Love,
yearning love, is undoubtedly the chief characteristic of Jesus. But,
just as the sun gives forth not only heat but light, so did he. His
life was love: his death was peace. “_My peace I leave with you._” And
it is just here, just in their realization of “the mildness and sweet
reasonableness” of Jesus that the Salvationists are apt to be lacking:
and it is just here that the Church of England more than any other
Christian sect is, as it seems to me, so strong. The _Hymns Ancient and
Modern_ are, on the whole, the best song-book extant of this “mildness
and sweet reasonableness.” We must not, however, think that this
demand for the peace as well as the love of Jesus is not recognised
by the Salvationists: it is, but I cannot think that it is recognised
adequately. As soon as a man is “saved” and has “professed,” there are
open to him, what they call, the Holiness Meetings. These are the answer
to the demand for peace. But they differ only particularly from the other
meetings. They are smaller, and hence quieter, than the others; but there
is, so to speak, too much heat and too little light in them. Here is the
weak point in the Salvationist movement, just as it is the strong point
in (I always take the best example our Christianity can give us) the
Church of England. Here it is the turn of the Salvationists to be not
masters, but pupils. Let us hope that they will see this, and not only
teach, but also (which is so much more difficult) be ready to learn from,


There are still two parts of the work of the Salvationists to
consider—their work with the inmates of the prisons, and their work with
the inmates of the brothels. Here again we have everything to learn
from them, from them the true disciples of “the divine Communist.” The
former work they have made a speciality of, and they are rapidly making
the latter. I doubt very much that our churches and chapels (I am not
speaking now of the Catholics, whose work is almost exclusively among the
Irish, and the Irish are of a race that, save in the matter of agrarian
crime and a curious cruelty to dumb animals, is truly admirable for the
honesty of its men and the chastity of its women): I doubt very much,
I say, that our churches and chapels will ever get much at either the
criminals or the prostitutes. Our clergymen, who are so gentlemanly, and
our ministers who are so respectable, can neither speak nor understand
much the language of the People, the language of the heart. The clergymen
are shocked by the foulness, the ministers by the ferocity, of the
People. Both feel that they are condescending—the one from the height of
refinement, the other from the height of righteousness. The people has no
love for condescension of this sort. There are few words that stink more
in its nostrils than that of charity, and indeed charity, when it means a
gift from a superior to an inferior, is hateful enough. It is a popular
delusion with the “charitable” that street beggars and the inmates of
the workhouses are the People. Far otherwise is it, O “charitable” ones:
these are not independent animals, they are parasites: they are (if you
will pardon me saying so) your spiritual lice; so please make the best of
them, since it is not only on account of, but _on_, you that they live.

Well, now, wherein is it that these fanatical ignorant Salvationists _do_
get at the People? One of them answers us at once: “_No one’s too wicked
for Jesus, and so no one’s too wicked for me who am the simple follower
of Jesus._ If _he_ could do with publicans and harlots, why cannot I?”
They say, as Walt Whitman says to “a common prostitute,”

    “Not till the sun excludes you do I exclude you,
    Not till the waters refuse to glisten for you and the leaves to rustle
      for you, do my words refuse to glisten and rustle for you.”

This, you see, is Religious Socialism. It proclaims the spiritual
equality of all men. The _spiritual_ equality, let us notice; it will
have nothing to do with the social equality. “_My kingdom is not of
this world.... Give unto Cæsar the things which be Cæsar’s, and to God
the things which be God’s._” “Honour all men,” says Peter, “love the
brotherhood, fear God, honour the king.” And more: Religious Socialism
has a tendency to be careless of the dogmas of the creeds. “Is the Army
hostile,” asks Mr. Booth, “to the existing evangelical denominations?
Just the contrary. Numbers of its converts go to swell the membership
of the churches. More than 400 persons, converted and trained in its
ranks, have been engaged by other different religious organisations
as Evangelists, Ministers,” etc., etc., etc. We notice that he says
“_evangelical_ denominations?” The Catholics, of course, from (who shall
I say?) Augustine to Pascal and Newman, are poor belated idolaters, only
slightly better than the heathen. This, you see, is where Mr. Booth,
like Mr. Spurgeon and the rest, so pleasantly shows us what nonsense an
earnest short-sighted man is capable of believing and brandishing about
the world with a godless blatancy. Personally, I cannot make myself angry
with any of them for it. For what would an earnest man be without his
faults? without, as D’Israeli puts it, a single redeeming vice?

In Melbourne there is a tendency now to let the Salvation Army have its
own way unmolested with the criminals and the prostitutes. “It can’t
do any harm,” people say, “and it may do good, and really, you know,
the—the Social Evil wants looking to.” Nay, more: having made this
nice expression “Social Evil,” we are at last plucking up courage to
acknowledge that it exists, and that it is not necessarily a sign of
filthy-mindedness to wish to discuss it. We speak of it now in papers
which come under the eye of those dear creatures about whose stainless
purity of mind we are all so anxious (even that Puritanic print, the
_Melbourne Bulletin_ is anxious, and the _Sydney Bulletin_, also, for
all I know to the contrary)—“our wives and daughters.” Why, possibly
there are those among us who will live to see the day when the expression
“fearful sinner,” as applied to some poor girl driven out into the
miseries of the streets, will be confined to the utterance of our good
friends of the Scotch Presbytery, and other few such like. Then, it will
be amusing: at present, it is only detestable.


Now let us go to the Barracks of the Prison Brigade, and see what has
to be seen there. The officials (all, I believe, old criminals) and the
men that they have just got hold of, are gathered for a sort of home
service. Man after man, boy after boy, rises to give his “experience.”
The “experiences” can be pretty easily imagined. Then there are hymns,
choruses, addresses by the higher officials present. All, or almost
all here, there is no doubt of it, are “terribly in earnest.” The
interruptions, “Hallelujah,” “Praise God,” and so on, are all earnest.
One boy with a maimed face gets up and says: “I was miserable in the
streets, I’m very happy now. God bless the Major,” and sits down again.
For me, I confess that, over and over again, I have not known whether
to answer the word and acts of these men, or shall I say children, with
smiles or tears. Now and then I have answered them with both.

Afterwards we are shown the bedrooms, observing that we do not want
to see them. I have seen many bedrooms that were delightful, and many
keepers thereof whose hearts were as clean and hard as the floors.
Also I have seen bedrooms that were poor and crowded, and the keepers
thereof whose hearts were as rich as love and as soft as pity. I prefer
the latter, myself, if I must choose between them, but tastes of course
are different. Then the boy with the maimed face is brought in, to tell
his tale and show his wounded leg. The People like you to look at their
wounds and sores and casualties generally. It is painful. It is like the
young ladies of the Middle-class who like you to look at their drawings
and paintings, or listen to their playing and singing. I do not know
which habit is the more painful of the two—perhaps, on the whole, the
latter. The first only hurts my senses: the second hurts my soul. It
makes me lose hope in my ideas for the future of the Middle-class: it
makes me think it is doomed to the hideousness of clap-trap for ever. It
is like a visit to the sculpture at the Melbourne Public Library.

They show us the rooms and bring us the boy, you notice, in that
practical English spirit which is intent on making it clear that their
cry is proportionate to their wool, a fact of which we are not altogether
ignorant. Hence our carelessness about more than a glance at the rooms,
or a short talk with the boy with the maimed face. I think I could tell
him as much about himself as he can tell me. I have known him many times

It is pleasing to notice here how much they insist on the new life, how
comparatively little stress they lay on the “conversion,” on the being
“saved.” Also, that the Salvationists know how to laugh. It is only men
who keep their religion for a fine heavy diet on sunday who cannot pray
at one moment and laugh at another. If my religion is a part of _me_, it
is also clearly a part of my laughter.

Now let us go the rounds of the opium dens and brothels round about
Little Bourke Street. We walk, my Salvationist and I, into any house that
we wish. No one opposes us: only once in the whole evening are we spoken
to other than respectfully. “_You see_,” says the mistress of the most
facially contorted Chinee I have yet seen, “_You see, the Salvationists
helps the girls, that’s why we likes ’em!_” Here we are in a den, a girl
lying on one side of the bed (the Chinese beds are like large alcoves.
In the middle is the opium-tray, containing the pipe, a lamp, etc.), a
Chinee on the other, getting her pipe ready for her. We sit and chat
with her. She tells us about herself simply enough, showing no signs
of wishing to alter her condition. Then the other girl comes in, and
we chat with her. My Salvationist recognises her: she was at Bella’s
funeral. (Bella was a girl who fell down dead in the brothel opposite,
and the Army buried her. All “the girls” about clubbed together, hired
cabs, and went to the funeral.) “O yes,” says the girl to him, “you said
the service for Bella.” She too tells us about herself simply enough.
Her mother is at Ballarat.—“Does she know you’re here?”—“O yes, she
knows.”—“Does she think you’re in service?”—“O no, _she_ knows what I’m
doing;” and so on. Presently I go into the other room and talk pigeon
English with the remarkable spectacled Chinee, who is like a venerable
old ape. Why will the English girls come and live with the Chinese? The
answer is simple: the Chinese both pay them well and are kind to them.
These girls are not bruised on the face and arms as most of the others

You perceive now how the Salvationists work here? They are the “friends”
of the girls: they “help” them. Find out from a girl if she is miserable:
find out if she would sooner go back to a respectable life. Go everywhere
fearlessly: Find out if any girl is being detained against her wishes. Be
gentle with them as with equals. Make them feel that you care for them
for their own sakes. Work upon their feelings—speak of their home, their
mother, their father, their brothers, their sisters. Offer them a new
start. Then, the moment that of their own free will they are ready to
come, put them into a cab and drive straight away with them to the Home.
Here they come under the influence of the women officials of the Army,
(some of whom, however, also do visiting work), the same system being
pursued with them as with the men. They are not made to feel that they
are dealing with people more loftily refined or more loftily righteous
than themselves. They are not made to feel that they are “fearful
sinners.” They are made to feel that sin is fearful and that they have
sinned fearfully, but that they have every hope before them, hope of a
new life before God and man. As for the women officials of the Salvation
Army, I will say this, that in no body of female religionists, except
the Catholic Sisters, have I found so many sweet true women. I have also
known Anglican Sisters who were well worthy of a place beside them.
Such women are the essence of Christianity. They are the true children
of Mary Magdalene and Monica, of the love and of the affection of the
soul. Preference for any one of these three classes, there can be none.
I cannot exalt true love above true affection any more than I can exalt
heat above light: their joy is equal. But in one respect the Salvationist
women have an advantage over the others, just as the Salvationist men
have over the celibate priests—in just that, in the fact that they need
not be celibates. Many of these Salvationist girls and women are the
sweethearts or wives of their fellow-workers. This, I think, is as it
should be. He who neglects or despises that great law of Nature and God,
passion, will be assuredly punished for it. To make a large body of men
and women celibates is to put a premium on immorality and hypocrisy. This
great rock the Salvation Army has avoided, and herein it has done most
wisely. Here, where Rome is weak, it is strong. We must not, however,
think that there is nothing to be said in behalf of celibacy: there is
much, very much. If we were all men like Francis of Assissi or Vincent
de Paul, it would be perfect; but unfortunately we are not. At the same
time, he who has seen the work of Catholic priests and of Protestant
clergymen or ministers in times of plague and pest must feel how great
a clog to perfect courage are those hostages a man has given to fate in
wife and children. On the other hand, observe that times of pest and
plague are comparatively rare, and that every great idea when put into
practice is but a mixed good. What we have to do is to choose that which
has least evil, or shall we say most good, and this can, we feel sure, be
only chosen in conformity with all of those few great primeval laws which
are the guides of life, which are the direct words of Nature and of God.


So much, then, for the _how_ of the Salvation Army. Let us now consider
if it has helped us to the _why_—nay, if it has not absolutely told us
the _why_! Did we not instinctively catch at something we saw two or
three times rising before us as with small but teleological significance
in it? Did we not feel, as we uttered that expression with which this
something inspired us, that here was the _why_ in propria persona?
_Religious Socialism._

In this state of affairs—the powerlessness of the Socialists to bring
home to the People the great idea of social improvement: in the misery
unspeakable of the People; in the atmosphere heavy with the degradation
of the People—what is it that the People has done? _It has evolved a
movement_, _no longer from_ without, _but from_ within _itself_. _It has
sought for consolation for its unspeakable wretchedness in the perennial
spring of Religion, of the yearning love of Jesus. It has, at the touch
of the first match that came to it, blazed up into the flaming fire of
Religious Socialism._

In the early part of the thirteenth century the People did the same, the
People of Italy. But what a heaven lies between the man who led _that_
movement and the man that is leading this! O my eloquent Rationalists, O
my loquacious Secularists, both of you whom I esteem so much—how ready
are you to talk of the degradation which that gigantic superstition and
delusion, Christianity, wrought upon the People! Whenever are you tired
of brandishing “starry Galileo” and scattering the scattered dust of
poor old Copernicus in the face of Catholicism, making it to tremble and
sneeze fearfully? Does it never occur to you that that divine Goddess
Scientia, whom you worship with such noble devotion, has wrought a
far deeper degradation on the people than Catholicism ever did? Have
you never seen, crouching under the shadow of your railways and your
telegraphs and all your improved machinery, the unspeakable wretchedness
of London, of Birmingham, of Manchester, of Glasgow? And now that this
People, whose lives your Goddess has made of such a sort that they will
not stand too favourable a comparison with those of dogs—now that this
People, in its passionate searching after some consolation, however
slight, of whatever sort, seizes on this creature of superstition and
delusion, this Jesus who is _only a man, just like you or me_, and
whom you have so triumphantly proved so, and makes him the text for
this flaming fire of Religious Socialism—has it never struck you, O my
eloquent Rationalists, O my loquacious Secularists, what an appalling
difference there is between Salvation Army banners, handkerchiefs,
brass-bands, and concertinas, and the “green boughs, flags, music, and
songs of gladness” that came forth from the Umbrian towns and villages
to welcome Francis of Assissi? have you never felt that there is any
essential difference between the perpetual Revivalist hymn of “My Jesus
to know and to feel his blood flow,” and the “Canticle of the Creatures?”
But, above all, have you never felt that it is more to that divine
Goddess Scientia, whom you worship with such noble devotion, than to
anything else that this appalling difference is due?

And you, O my Middle-class, of whom I am so humble a unit, did it
ever occur to you that it is rather a foolish thing to paint a boy’s
face black and then be shocked at it? If the People, its foulness and
its ferocity, makes you shiver and shudder, who pray made it foul and
fierce but you who govern it?—What do you say? “It was no business of
yours?” That was what Cain said, but respectable Christians like you
are not surely going to take that eminent casuist as your mouth-piece?
If you were Atheists or Agnostics, now, worshippers of “the struggle
for existence and survival of the fittest,” of course that would be
another matter, but you are Christians, respectable Christians who
always wear black coats on Sundays, and object to having the Library and
Picture-Gallery open.

Well, there! I cannot make myself angry with you, my dear Middle-class.
I admire your good qualities too much for that—too much indeed, as I
often tell myself; for who shall say but that my belief in your ultimate
regeneration and new birth unto a really glorious place in a true
civilization be not, after all, but infatuation? Here is Carlyle, whom
we all love and admire so, trying to be our benefactor by demonstrating
to us our illusions on this matter, and telling us, ever since 1830, of
the “steady approach of democracy with revolution (probably explosive)
and a finis incomputable to man; steady decay of all morality, political,
social, individual; this once noble England getting more and more
ignoble, and untrue in every fibre of it, till the gold (Goethe’s
composite king) will all be eaten out, and noble England will have to
collapse in shapeless ruin, whether for ever or not none of us can
know.” Really there are hours when I am made quite to suffer by thinking
of what is going to happen to my dear Middle-class when the People rise
unanimously against it,—“roaring million-headed unreflecting, darkly
suffering, darkly sinning ‘Demos’” (as Carlyle says again), “come to call
its old superiors to account at its maddest of tribunals.” It will, I
fear, be little good for the Mr. Caffyns of those times to write letters
to the _Argus_ of those times, explaining the physiological aspects of
the movement. On such an occasion in Paris, in 1793, Mr. Caffyns went up
into the arms of La Guillotine for much less heinous offences than that,
and who would be left capable of recording whether, in this case, they
went up “with a tripping movement” (as Mr. Caffyn tells us the fanatical
“Hallelujah lasses” go), or whether they marched, as perhaps Mr. Caffyn
himself marches to church or chapel every Sunday morning, to the
edification of all beholders? But let us not think of such an appalling
spectacle. Mr. Caffyn is still with us, and the _Argus_ is still with us,
and perhaps some morning we shall have some more brilliant letters on the
physiological aspects of Mr. Caffyn’s friends, the hallelujah lasses.

I cannot, I say, make myself angry with you, my dear Middle-class of
England (and you might plausibly suggest that it would not matter much if
I did), and how then shall I even frown at this Middle-class of Victoria,
about whom (if Carlyle is right) I am more infatuate still? Does not
the People breathe free in Australia? Are we not liberated here from
that charming “Upper Ten Thousand” which monopolises the best of the bad
education England has to offer, the Public Schools and the Universities?
Is there not a hope that, now that the primary education of the People is
progressing so satisfactorily, some of our young rising politicians, (or
even some of the old ones), may bring home to us the fact that we want
equally—nay, far more!—a secondary education for the Middle-class? so
that Victoria may step forward as a competitor with the most universally
civilized nation in the world, France, and teach England the unspeakable
glory and advantage of (we should call it) an Upper-class, “homogeneous,
intelligent, civilized, brought up in good public schools” (and not,
as now, in more or less good, or more or less bad, denominational, and
“private adventure” schools) “and on the first plane.”

If only this Upper-class of Victoria and of Australia generally could be
brought to see it! If only it would confess its sins, many and heinous,
against true civilization and be “converted” and lead a new life!
Nothing, I think, strikes an Englishman more, coming out here, than the
brightness and intelligence of the Victorian girls! (“Our daughters,” you
know.) And how heart-rending to discover that all this brightness and
intelligence is wasted on the mere accidents and incidents of every-day
existence! Two-shilling novels are her idea of literature: “Some day” and
“Ehren on the Rhine” her idea of music: the coloured illustrations of the
illustrated papers, her idea of art. And her brother is in a worse state!
The tortoise English girl is, after all, better than the Australian hare,
and the young male bull-dog than the kangaroo.

Everything cries out for the education, for the civilization, of the
Upper-class, the ruling class. Educate it, civilize it, let it know what
Truth is and what Beauty is, and abolish the bells and the brass-bands
for ever! If the Upper-class is beautiful, its beauty will react on
the Lower-class. Give us public schools for the Upper-class, as there
are public schools for the Lower-class. Fight tooth and nail against
any attempts after an “Upper Ten Thousand,” whether it be of land or
of wealth. Keep clearly before us the ideal of an Upper-class that
is _homogeneous_. Let us have the man of business as cultured as the
professional man, and the professional man as cultured as the man of
means. Let us be a true Republic, offering every opportunity to the
intelligence of the Lower-class to attain to the culture of the Upper.
Let us not have ten thousand aristocrats, but ten hundred thousand,
ever more and more, and never less and less! On the other hand, let us
learn from the People the great lesson which they have to teach us—the
lesson of the language of the heart. Let us learn from them the softness
of pity, yea and the richness of love. Let us give them our _Social
Socialism_ and let us take their _Religious_; for, in the perfect
marriage of light and heat, is the perfect day, the true civilization,
the beauty of the truth of Nature and of God.

                                                        _February, 1885._


It was in 1770 that Cook entered the bay to which he gave the name of
Botany: in ’88 that Philip landed in Port Jackson with his convict
settlement: in 1849 that the settlers refused to receive any more
convicts: and in ’56 that the settlement was acknowledged as a colony
and dowered with a constitution. These few facts have a very different
significance to those which correspond to them in the history of
Melbourne. The epithet phenomenal cannot be applied to the former in the
same sense as to the latter; nor yet, let us hasten to add, the epithet
premature. English people, who carry to a quite quaint degree their
modern representative poet’s dislike of

    “Raw Haste, half-sister to Delay,”

find Melbourne “too American,” as they say, and reserve all their praise
for “picturesque Sydney” and the harbour about whose description Mr.
Trollope went (as we are all never likely to be able, at any rate in
Sydney, to forget) into diffuse despair. “The business thoroughfares,”
says a simple English traveller, “as well as the shops themselves, have a
far more English appearance than those of the capital of Victoria,” and
shuns all comment as superfluous. Let us not think of contradicting him.
That elemental characteristic of the British architect, “the impotence
to express anything,” is in no danger of disappearing in Sydney, nor
yet, let us again hasten to add, in Melbourne; but, if it be possible to
distinguish the matter thus, I should say that in Sydney he had found his
happy hunting-grounds, whereas in Melbourne he was just beginning to feel
that there was a rival about.

No, it is just where Sydney is _un_-English that she has charm. I do
not now refer to her natural position, nor to her age—age which will
tone down, and perhaps some day almost mellow, the masterpieces of even
the British architect. I refer to those buildings in the town, few and
far between enough, it is true, in which the Sydney perception of its
individual life has striven to express itself. The Sydney perception of
its individual life is not strong. As a local guide-book puts it more
particularly, “in the nomenclature of the streets Sydney shows intense
loyalty, and the lover of history will be delighted by the associations
which some of the names will summon to his memory. For instance, his
historical predilections will be gratified in noticing that the principal
street is named after George the Third, during whose reign the colony
was founded.” Of course, when the local guide-book tells us that a thing
is so, it _is_ so; and when it says that our predilections, historical
or otherwise, will be gratified and delighted, they _are_ gratified and
delighted. But these Sydney men and women, with their intense loyalty,
or rather what the writer in the local guide-books means thereby, have
not, what we called, the metropolitan look—have not the metropolitan
feeling. Mr. Marcus Clarke, in the cleverest and also the most fantastic
of his clever but often fantastic criticisms, “The Future Australian
Race,” says boldly: “It is more than likely that what should be the
Australian Empire will be cut in half by a line drawn through the centre
of the continent.... All beneath this line will be a Republic, having
the mean climate, and, in consequence, the development of Greece. The
intellectual capital of the Republic will be in Victoria; the fashionable
and luxurious capital on the shore of Sydney Harbour.” Then he adds that
“the Australians will be a fretful, clever, perverse, irritable race,”
showing us what, under all their superficial differences, the people of
Victoria and of New South Wales have, he thinks, in common. I do not
believe that the whole secret of the matter is here laid open before us.
Mr. Marcus Clarke had an admirable acuteness of perception, but he was
apt, having swiftly perceived one aspect of a thing, to write it down
at once as _the_ aspect without staying for a second or third look at
the thing itself. The consequence is that he rarely reaches the whole
secret of a thing: witness, for instance, his view of Christianity,
(but Mr. Arnold notices how even a critic of Sainte-Beuve’s calibre was
capable of illusion here), or of the significance of Gordon’s poetry,
which I have spoken of elsewhere; and it is lamentable to think how much
of this false tendency in him was due to the circumstance that he was a
man of letters, and an Australian man of letters. I do not believe, I
say, that, when he tells us that the really distinctive characteristic
of Sydney is (for “will be” is only “is” unmaterialized) fashion and
luxury, and Melbourne intellect, he has laid open before us the _whole_
secret of the present tendencies of these cities, or yet when he sees
them united with the common characteristics of fretfulness, cleverness,
perverseness, irritability. But here, undoubtedly, is one aspect of the
matter expressed admirably. The men and women of Sydney do not live so
fast mentally as the men and women of Melbourne: they give more free play
to their emotional passions. As we say, they “take things easier.” They
cling to the past which Melbourne throws away: they consider the present,
which Melbourne has very little time for. Their attachment to “the old
country” is deeper; they have intense loyalty, as the writer in the local
guide-book says. They are much more possessed by the affairs of Melbourne
than Melbourne is about theirs. The _Sydney Morning Herald_ and the
_Sydney Mail_ do not hold the same position in Melbourne as the _Argus_
and the _Australasian_ do in Sydney. The Sydney people are captious in
their criticism on the younger capital, just as Boston is on New York:
they talk about being “dragged at the chariot wheels of Victoria,” and
asseverate that they will not endure it. Melbourne people criticise
Sydney good-humouredly, and justly so, since in that aspect of them both,
which people seem to think is alone worth criticising, Melbourne is
undoubtedly far superior. Intellect in the modern world is the master:
emotion is the handmaid. Or, to put it in another way, our best average
work at present is being done in clear, nervous prose, while poetry is
praised and left to starve. Science is a better paymaster than Art, and
nearly all the best average intelligence of the world has turned to the
rising, and from the setting, sun. And Melbourne, I say, Melbourne with
her perception of movement, progress, conscious power, has out-stripped
this Sydney, whose perception of her individual life is so weak that all
she has to point to are her natural advantages, her age, and the meagre
fact that her “business thoroughfares, as well as the shops themselves,
have a far more English appearance than those of the capital of
Victoria.” And yet, undoubtedly, Sydney has—or so it seems to me—a rich
and rare possession of her own, and one which is worth as much as that of
Melbourne, even as emotion is worth as much as intellect, as poetry is
worth as much as prose. And there are, as we know, good judges who would
change the “as much” into “more.” I, however, who have no pretentions
to be a good judge, and am, as an acute English critic of mine so aptly
put it once, only “Whitman and water:” I must still cling to the belief
that perfection is to be found, and only to be found, in the _union_ of
these two qualities—of emotion and intellect, of poetry and prose. Or, as
I said the other day,[7] true science (which is essentially intellectual)
and true faith (which is essentially emotional) are to be, as they must
be, harmonies, eternal harmonies, the “perfect music” and “noble words”
of truth.

Well now, let us try and find out a little more definitely wherein
these men and women of Sydney, these who have not the metropolitan
look, the metropolitan feeling, show themselves, at any rate to the
disinterested seeker after a really fine civilization, as the equals of
our intellectual men and women of Melbourne. (“Intellectual,” we are
agreed, is here used as meaning that spiritual quality which is opposed
to emotional). First of all, however, let us examine this phrase of ours,
metropolitan look, metropolitan feeling, for fear it should be nothing
but a phrase, a mere catchword, and, as such, worthy only the places
where sawdust is stored.

Nothing is more certain than that our individual lives form, if not our
faces, the expression of them. Our eyes and all the facial muscles are
at the command of our natural inherited dispositions as modified by the
circumstances of our lives. The average man who spends his days in the
open air in companionship with the inanimate things about him, or in
the settled intercourse of country life, married or single, will have a
quite different look, a quite different _tone_, from the man whose days
are passed in the brisk interchange of words and thoughts of the life
of the city. And how much will this difference be accentuated by the
fact that the city is a seat of large and intense ideas, that the very
air is impregnated with the passionate thoughts, words, and acts of the
whole civilized world! It is in such men that we find the metropolitan
look, the metropolitan feeling. Their faces seem stripped of all useless
flesh like the body of an athlete: their eyes are quick and clear, ready
servants of the quick clear brain behind them. This is what we call the
average intelligent man, the labourer of the past, the partner of the
present, the master of the future! Put this man, however, into a state
of stress, intellectual or emotional, in his business or in his private
life, and that fine nervous face of his will become lean and rigid, those
quick clear eyes hard and naked. And, just as it is the pleasure of
our civilization to see this man in the first stage, so is it the pain
thereof to see him, alas too often, in the second. These are the most
dread spectres that haunt metropolises: their anguish wrings the heart
with an intensity, with an abidingness that the sight of mere misery
brutal and degraded does not and cannot inspire us. London and New York
swarm with such, and our miniature Australian intellectual capital, too,
knows them only too well. They press the stamp of their struggle into the
very brow of their city. It is they who bring home to us the lean and
rigid, the hard and naked side of the best life of their city. While it
is to their successful brothers that we owe what of us is phenomenal, it
is to them, the unsuccessful, that we owe what of us is premature. They
are the men who have formulated that exceeding bitter cry of “_Cruel
London_.” Yes, London is cruel in this sense of the word, and so, to
a less degree (In a hundred years shall we be able to say this?) is
Melbourne. I do not think anyone would call Sydney cruel.

“Well,” retorts the metropolitan, “perhaps not; but, on the other hand,
the provincial look, the dull look of intellectual death, is far more
common with such towns than with us. For me, I would sooner have heaven
with hell than purgatory by itself.—Pah,” he says, “Sydney is the city of
smells and shopkeepers!” And I for my part, with all my admiration for
the intellect of the average intelligent metropolitan in general and the
Melbourne metropolitan in particular, should not think of contradicting
him here. My only wish here is, as I have said, to find out wherein
these people whom he calls, with such fine scorn, “provincials” and
“shopkeepers,” show themselves his equals, and whether they _do_ show
themselves his equals, or that I shall stand convicted of a delusion on
the subject.

I believe much in first impressions (good ones, that is) provided only
that we bring, what I have called, a second and third look to bear on
the thing which has impressed us. And since I am graceless enough to
speak of my own little private beliefs, let me add that I often find
some difficulty in making my last impressions as good as my first, which
is provoking to anyone who has a dread and dislike of “impressionists”
and an attraction and affection towards “students.” Hence I find myself
quite ready, when in the latter humour, to call my first impressions
shallow and careless, and when in the former, to call my last impressions
dead-dark and pedantic, so that Mr. Marcus Clarke delights me not nor
(some laborious scholar of the Australasian future) neither, and all
is vanity and vexation of spirit! Let me, however, on this occasion
retail my first impressions with a trustful pen, for, as they were
unselfconscious and therefore unconnected with any theory on the subject
in hand, I believe they are really the best offering I have to make on
its altar.

The first thing, then, that struck me on walking about Sydney one
afternoon, looking at the place and the people, was the appalling
strength of the British civilization. In Melbourne, for reasons spoken
of elsewhere, this fact is not so striking. Melbourne, I have said, has
something of London, Paris, New York, and of its own. The prevailing
characteristic of Sydney is its Britishness—the happy hunting grounds
of the British architect with his “impotence to express anything,” the
intense and gratifying and delightful loyalty of the nomenclature of the
streets, and the rest. Everywhere are the thumb marks and the great toe
marks of the six-fingered six-toed giant, Mr. Arnold’s life-long foe, the
British Philistine! I call this strength appalling; for observe that this
is a country lying in a band of some five or six degrees south of the
tropic of Capricorn, whereas England is a country lying in a band of some
twenty-five or six degrees north of the corresponding tropic of Cancer,
and yet here are the two peoples living lives almost identic! Rome
changed her Jupiter into Ammon when the Tiber flowed into the Nile: Woden
and the God of the Christians blended into one another; but the Jehovah
(or shall we say the Moloch?) of Puritanism, of Calvinism, is the same
in Sydney as in London, in Melbourne as in Edinburgh! There is nothing
like it, save in the history of that wonderful people which produced this
God that is “a jealous God.” And further. These people in Sydney have
clung, not only to the faith but to the very raiment of their giant. The
same gloomy dresses, cumbrous on the women, hideous on the men, that we
see in England! Now in Melbourne, where those dear “old-country” days,
wherein spring, summer, autumn, and winter alternate with a fifth
season excruciatingly peculiar to the place itself, are not infrequent;
in Melbourne, I say, an attachment to the very tricks of one of the
worst climates in the world might not be so unnatural; but in Sydney
such an attachment becomes positively monstrous. The same food, the same
overeating and overdrinking, and (observe how careful we are) at the same
hours! If there is one thing, I believe, that the people of Sydney really
grudge to Melbourne, it is her factories. If they could only make the
atmosphere of Sydney (they do their best, however, with their steamers
for the harbour) as supremely filthy as that of London, Birmingham,
Manchester, Glasgow, the people, the intensely loyal people of Sydney,
would be happy. As it is, they have reluctantly to concede a point in
favour of, what the newspapers call, “her younger rival.” And yet how can
I say this in the face of their eminently successful pollution of their
harbour and their very streets with their drainage?

It is no wonder, then, we see, that, unlike Melbourne, Sydney’s
perception of her individual life is weak, miserably weak, all but
imperceptible. She has to point to her natural advantages and her age.
Now it is very nice to have a fine harbour, and Mr. Trollope is in his
grave and we may safely say that he had a profuse literary talent, like
many writers who lived before and many who will live after him; but the
chief point of interest in the harbour, at any rate to your disinterested
enquirer into the present and future social state of the owners, is,
_what effect does it, and the climate generally, have upon them?_ not
whether Mr. Trollope or anyone else “despairs of being able to convey to
any reader his own idea of the beauty” of either. Now we all know what
effect the “sabbath rest” has on the Middle class and People of England,
and we all know how zealously all those “pious and simple-minded” people
who, as Dr. Moorhouse puts it so well, live “entrenched in the old
fortifications of unintelligent orthodoxy,” are striving that that effect
should not be in any way lessened—striving, not only in London but in
Melbourne, and, so far, with considerable success in both. But here in
Sydney, where, at first sight, one would least expect it, they are more
liberal in these matters: their public institutions, Museums, Picture
Gallery, and so on, are thrown open to the public on sundays.[8] No
neighbouring town, so far as I know, partakes in the virtuous hatred of
Geelong to sunday boats. The harbour is plied by a large number of small
steamboats. The Middle-class and the People, thanks to the short hours
of work (hence in large part Australia’s excellence in sports) and the
saturday half-holiday, can disport themselves on its banks or where they
please. “Our harbour,” then, and _our parks_ too, are of more real use
than merely, as they say, to blow about; and so far, so good. Pleasure,
that light fair Pleasure which should find its natural home in every fine
climate, is undoubtedly drawing breath in the Sydney air. Mr. Marcus
Clarke’s acuteness of perception did not deceive him when he followed up
this pallid plant into the full-grown tree with its flower and fruit of
fashion and luxury. Yes, climate will ultimately work a transformation
upon even the six-fingered six-toed giant. Moloch’s fire will cease to
burn and brand: Jehovah’s jealousy will lose its harshness, and the sweet
bright love of the White Christ will brood over and temper the hearts
of this people to beauty and melody. Meantime, down there in Melbourne,
Pleasure when it opens its mouth to breathe, will also open it to bite:
the taint of cruelty will be upon it as it is upon all things purely
intellectual, all things in which emotion has no part. “Melbourne,” the
wise man of Sydney will say then, “Melbourne is the city of stew-pans
and stockbrokers. They know how to make money, but not how to spend it.
If they have pleasure, it borders on pain as lust does on love. All the
beauty they know is the beauty of light; heat is a stranger to them.
Their music lacks the minor keys. Years ago their one poet, Gordon, ran
away from the city, and took refuge in the bush: if he were alive now, he
would come to Sydney. No poet, no painter, no musician will be brought
forth out of Melbourne.—You will make fine logicians, you Melbournians,
and it does a man’s heart good to think of your cog-wheels; but believe
me that you know no more of life than that it is an existence, or
of death than that it is the stopping of a mouse-wheel.” Thus our
problematical “provincial,” returning fine pity for the fine scorn of our
problematical “metropolitan.” Or, to drop the symbolism, thus my first
impressions of the actual or inherent melody and beauty of the Sydney
life, as evolved from my last impressions of the leanness and rigidness,
the hardness and nakedness that is to be found so easily in life in

More than once that afternoon did this melody of beauty come back to me
wandering, like a sweet far-off chime. It is years since I heard that
chime, the chime of Pleasure light and fair, breathing around me—years
ago, in its imperial haunt of Paris. Other chimes have their several
melodies and beauties, melodies and beauties perhaps above compare with
this one, but this one is pre-eminent for sweetness, and sweetness is a
rich and rare offering to the soul. The afternoon was not a fine one, and
I had just been spending two months in peerless weather by the Riverina.
I had, then, no meteorological “pathetic fallacy,” as Mr. Ruskin says,
to help me to a thoughtless faith in the actual or inherent melody of
Sydney. On the contrary, the rain rained, and the wind blew, and the
bursts of sunshine were few and far between, so that the Genius of the
place had to speak out if he wished to be heard. And, as we have noticed,
he did speak out, and was heard, and was, and is, approved of.

Pass now from the outer public world into the inner: pass from
the parks and streets into the Picture Gallery, and think of a
similar passage in Melbourne. It is quite useless to murmur here,
“_Melbourne_—_movement_—_progress_—_conscious power_;” the words only
pass into a dry tuneless jingle, like Gordon at his worst, wherein
nothing can be heard but, “_Leanness and rigidness_—_hardness and
nakedness_.” We see the throng of the virtuous wives of the Bourke Street
tradespeople and of “our wealthy lower orders” moving about in that badly
constructed room, with its badly chosen and badly hung pictures. We think
of the low, low ebb at which the intellect of the metropolis has left
its sense of melody and beauty. We wonder what Adelaide Ironsides, whom
Mr. Brunton Stephens has told us of in some charming verses,[9] would
have made of that people, of that city, whose capacity to foster poetic
instinct was “gauged” with such grimness by Mr. Clarke.[10] And then
we turn to this room, this people, and this city, and the fatuity of
their intense loyalty seems a venial offence beside the arid barrenness
of their intellectual neighbours. Such a construction (and, alas, not a
merely temporary but a quite everlasting one) as the Melbourne Picture
and Sculpture Galleries, such a choice, such an arrangement of pictures
and statues, would not satisfy these men and women of Sydney, as it
does the virtuous wives of the Bourke Street tradespeople and of “our
wealthy lower orders.” I do not say that the _Morning Herald_ would
burst out into correspondence on the subject, nor yet that that company
of eminent men who legislate for an ungrateful country would speak with
scorn or pity of these things. The chime of melody and beauty here is,
if sweet, far off. Pleasure light and fair is as yet but drawing breath.
The outer public life and the inner are but feeling their way to a
perception of an individuality, to an individuality that seeks after
that form of happiness whose chief expression is in melody and beauty.
But in Melbourne there is nothing, or scarcely anything, of this. If
no one would think of calling Sydney cruel, neither would anyone think
of calling Melbourne sweet. The average intelligent man in Melbourne
worships at the master-shrine alone: Intellect is his god, Intellect with
its speech of clear nervous prose and its poetry of vigorous, if rather
meretricious metres and “galloping rymes.” He has no, or very little,
care for Art as Art: that is an affair for women, and, as the only
organised female public opinion is that of the virtuous tradeswoman and
the wife of the wealthy lower orders, spiritual leanness and rigidness,
hardness and nakedness are the popular product of the day.

Now there is, I will venture to say, not one social phenomenon, good or
evil, in Victoria and New South Wales that cannot be traced to these
their spiritual conditions which I have been trying to express. Let us
take, what I have called, the three vital questions of the day—Free
Trade—Federalism—Higher Education. New South Wales is in favour of Free
Trade. Her perception of her individual life is weak: she clings to the
past, she considers the present. Whereas Victoria—Victoria with her swarm
of intelligent labourers and men of business—strong in her reliance on
her intellect, resolutely turns to the future from which she thinks she
will be able to carve out all her desires. Like America, she wants no
help from without, she will brook no interference. She will not let her
mineral products lie idle as New South Wales does. She is impatient of
the true British characteristic, the slow patient evolution of things, the

            “broadening down
    From precedent to precedent.”

She believes in the modern scientific spirit, and in none other. “Let
us, then,” she says, in her heart, “let us, then, by all means, move
towards Federalism. Union is strength.” But the eager grasping nature of
her swarm of intelligent labourers will not let her see that the wisdom
of her penny tariffs is but the foolishness of the pounds to come. New
South Wales, on the other hand, is adverse to Federalism. She does not
understand this modern scientific spirit—she dreads it, is jealous of it,
and admires it! It is so self-reliant, so self-confident! And she, poor
thing, is too much under the sway of the ancient historical spirit to
perceive that there is also a modern historical spirit, and that it is
good and at her doors. Hence her changeableness, hence her irresolution
in the matter. Like her clever unscrupulous politician, Sir Henry Parkes,
yesterday she wanted Federalism, to-day she does not: she will not be
dragged at the chariot wheels of this dreadful modern scientific spirit
which she does not understand, with Victoria shouting and cracking a
stockwhip to urge on the horses faster and faster. Is she not the “Queen
of the Pacific?” did not Governor Philip tell her she would be “the
centre of the southern hemisphere—the brightest gem of the Southern
Ocean?” and who shall say he counted her chickens before they were

To the disinterested seeker, then, after a really fine civilization,
it is hard to say which is the more painful sight—Victoria, with her
resolute pursuit of a purely intellectual future, which must end in
arid barrenness, or New South Wales with her fatuous attachment to
the monstrous aspect of the past and present. Which, after all, is the
better or the worse, illusion or delusion? Is Victoria never going to
perceive that logicians and engineers are not the highest product of
civilization? Will New South Wales never shake off the British architect,
spiritual and material, and begin to evolve an individual life of her
own? Is Mr. Marcus Clarke right when he tells us that “in another hundred
years the average Australasian will be a tall, coarse, strong-jawed,
greedy, pushing, talented man, excelling in swimming and horsemanship.
His religion will be a form of Presbyterianism, his national policy a
democracy tempered by the rate of exchange. His wife will be a thin,
narrow woman, very fond of dress and idleness, caring little for her
children, but without sufficient brain-power to sin with zest.” Yes, this
is indeed the future of the two tendencies, which are represented by
the illuded progress of Victorian, the deluded stagnation of New South
Wales. “_The virtuous tradeswoman and the wife of the wealthy lower
orders, walking in the happy hunting-grounds of the British architect!_”
What a picture! It is a satisfaction to think that, if it is to be, we
shall never live to see it. But the question arises, “Is _it to be_?”
Has not this acute perceiver of ours been once more writing down one
aspect of the thing as _the_ aspect, without staying for a second or
third look at the thing itself? is not this a clever view of a part,
but a fantastic view of the whole? has not Mr. Clarke, in a word, been
leaving us this appalling picture of our future in much the same spirit
as the world-wounded Hamlet left his cruel dowry to Ophelia? This, we
are agreed, was indeed the future of the two tendencies, which are
represented by the illuded progress of Victoria, the deluded stagnation
of New South Wales; but we should add—_only if they are left to

_Only if they are left to themselves_; and it is our hope, our trust that
they will not be. We hope, we believe, that these two countries will
learn from one another, each the lesson which the other will be competent
to teach: that Victoria will awake to the vital importance of giving her
Upper Class a Higher Education to correspond to the Elementary Education
that she is giving her Lower Class, and that this Higher Education may
be one filled with what we have called the modern historical spirit,
with culture, with literary Culture: that New South Wales, leading and
instructing Victoria here, having first learned from her example to
have the courage to evolve an individual life of her own, will in her
turn imbibe the modern scientific spirit, will imbibe what I may call
scientific Culture; and thus we shall be brought on to the day in which
the people of Victoria and New South Wales shall, from their superficial
differences, be united by common qualities better than those of
fretfulness, cleverness, perverseness, irritability: For in this people
lies the possibility of a really fine civilization, in the marriage in
them of emotion and intellect, of poetry and prose.

    “Is the goal so far away?
    Far, how far no tongue can say.
    _Let us dream our dream to-day._”

One last word on the last of the three vital questions of the day—Higher
Education. When, on 1st April, Mr. Patterson, who presides over the
Victorian Education Department, went down to Malmsbury to lay a
foundation-stone for the Wesleyan denomination, and favoured us with
his views on this question, or rather on the education system as it
at present stands in Victoria, we had a hope (a faint hope) that he
would do something more than sing the praises of the denominational
schools in general, and the state schools (“those majestic monuments to
enlightenment,” as he says in his profuse political way, “that adorn
and bless even the remotest portions of this colony”)—the state schools
in particular. Our hope was destined to disappointment. Mr. Patterson
had something to say about “the only legitimate checks on the abuse
of political power when conferred upon the masses,” and about “the
unscrupulousness, as well as the boldness beyond reason” of that man who
“would deny that the rising Australians, for sobriety and unassuming
intelligence, would compare favourably with the old stock,” so that he
“was bound to record his conviction that the future of Australia would
be quite safe in the hands of the Australians.” He had also ready a
defence of the secular character of the teaching in the state schools,
and some nice little left-handed compliments for our good Wesleyans, _et
hoc genus omne_, but not a word, and apparently not a thought, for the
legitimate checks on “the abuses of _educational_ power when conferred”
on a middle-class as unprepared for rule as the worst education in the
world can make it. “The Australian public,” he says, “desires, above
all things, to ensure good citizenship.” The Australian public cares
little that, in the state schools which it has founded for that especial
purpose, dead dry intellectual knowledge is rampant—“that asinine feast
of sow-thistles and brambles,” as Milton disgustedly puts it, “which is
commonly set before our youth as all the food and entertainment of their
tenderest and most docile age”—“inanimate mechanical gerund-grinding,”
as Carlyle equally disgustedly called it—gerund-grinding and spiritual
cockatoo screeching. Nor yet does it care that, in the denominational
schools in which its own children are being brought up, the only
supplement to the dead dry educational knowledge of the gerund and the
cockatoo, is the merest flimsy smattering of Science caricatured and
Literature misunderstood. Let us not, however, despair because our
sucking colonial statesmen cannot see more than a few educational inches
in front of their noses. Have we not got Dr. Moorhouse, our good Bishop
of Melbourne, with us, “a mighty man with broad and sinewy hands?” And
does he not, on every available opportunity, batter against the brazen
walls of the gerund and the cockatoo, and bid them leave off grinding
and screeching, and listen to reason? And here, too, is our good Roman
Catholic Bishop of Sydney, Dr. Moran (whom we are all so sorry to think
of losing), expressing his “fears that the atmosphere of the public
schools is too chilly for a great many of our youth?” Perhaps one of
these mornings the Victorian public will wake up, tired of listening to
the chatter of the religious and secular dogmatists gathered together
like eagles over the carcase of “Religion without Superstition,” and
there may arise a curiosity and a care for Higher Education and High
Schools; and we will hope, then, that no one will be foolish enough to
say that they have been a very doubtful success in New South Wales and in
Sydney—in Sydney, the home-elect of the six-fingered and six-toed giant
of British Philistinism! And, perhaps, some day poor little Culture,
putting off the cumbrous armour with which the gerund and the cockatoo
want to load him, taking his sling in his hand and a few smooth stones
from the brook, may smite great Goliath in the forehead, and cut off his
head, and there be a signal rout of all the Philistines, even unto Gath
and Gaza and the utmost borders of the land.

                                                             _May, 1885._

[NOTE.—I am tempted to republish here a letter, which I sent lately
to the _Sydney Morning Herald_ wherein one aspect of the secondary
education question was (more or less unconsciously) being discussed.
No one, so far as I am aware, thought the letter worth serious
consideration: at any rate no one thought it worth replying to, perhaps
the reasons for its insertion were simply those which the “able Editor”
assigned to me for the insertion of all his correspondence, namely that
it be not either too illiterate or too offensive for publication. Well,
I am sure that for my own part I am grateful for even so much toleration
as this, and shall strive, as becomes my humble position in this great
Australian press, to continue to deserve it.]

                   A RUGBY FOR NEW SOUTH WALES.

                 (_To the Editor of the Herald._)

    SIR,—In your issue of Saturday, May 9th, Mr. Edwin Bean, of All
    Saints’ College, Bathurst, brought under serious consideration
    the suggestion made by your correspondent “A. N.,” as regards
    what he called “A Rugby for New South Wales.” Anything that
    a schoolmaster of Mr. Bean’s talent and experience has to
    say must be interesting to those of us (alas, too few!) to
    whom the question of secondary education, whether in England
    or Australia, is a care. He will understand, then, that when
    I pass over, almost without notice, his criticisms on the
    individual aspects of the “reproduction” here “of that which is
    certainly best,” as he says, “in the English Public schools,
    viz., what is called the Public school spirit”—that the only
    reason of my doing so is the fear of encroaching too much on
    your “valuable space.” For, interesting as these criticisms
    are, the interest which lies in what I take to be the two
    real points at question here is, I must think, greater: these
    two points being (_1_), _the growing sense in all competent
    judges of discontent with the present condition of middle-class
    secondary education in Australia_; (_2_), _the means of
    ameliorating this condition_.

    As regards the first point, I must here almost take it for
    granted, in the face of the fact that, so far as I am aware,
    there is not a single colonial politician who seems to realise
    that if the education of the People, the rulers of the future,
    is of vital importance to us all, the education of the Middle-,
    or, as we should say now, the Upper-class, the rulers of the
    present, is of importance at least quite as vital. The mass
    of intelligent men here, then, or, as we are wont to say, the
    intelligent public, naturally enough, holds the same opinion
    about upper-class secondary education that their political
    representatives do. “It is all right,” they say. “What are you
    grumbling at in these ‘private adventure schools,’ as you
    call them? They do well enough, we think, for us upper-class
    people; and if you want your son to have a really first-rate
    education, why, are there not plenty of fine Denominational
    schools about—the King’s School, Newington, and so on, and our
    splendid Grammar-school?” The only answer to “prophesyings” of
    this sort is, that the Upper-class, as a class, are, whatever
    they may think themselves, simply abominably educated; their
    education is, even when judged by its own miserable standard,
    superficial, incoherent, impalpable; and the sole necessary
    proof of this is, that a good three-quarters of the knowledge
    acquired by an average boy at an average private adventure
    school is of no subsequent use whatever to him, either in the
    culture of himself or in the prosecution of his business or
    trade. As for the best Denominational schools where a secondary
    education is to be obtained, if inadequate, at any rate much
    superior to that of the private adventure schools, these are
    out of the reach of the pockets of the average upper-class
    people, who, even if they appreciate this misfortune (which, as
    a rule, they do not), are unable to remedy it.

    Here, then, as it seems to me, lies the difficulty; and we
    have now to look at the solution which the apparent tendency
    of things is proffering to us. “If ‘A. N.,’” says Mr. Bean,
    “had resided in Victoria, he would have learnt that the Public
    schools (as they are there called) of Geelong and Melbourne
    are already taking something of the position, and aspiring to
    fulfil the functions, of the English public schools.... And,”
    he goes on, “at Paramatta, Stanmore, Bathurst, Bowenfels, and
    elsewhere, there are already boarding-schools, not private, but
    belonging to Denominational corporations, which, if fostered
    by private assistance, will eventually grow into something
    resembling the Public schools of England.” Mr. Bean is, of
    course, right. If things progress in the way in which they
    are now progressing, if our colonial statesmen turn all their
    attention, and as much of ours as we will give them, _to_ the
    education of the People, and _from_ that of the Upper-class,
    then, I say, more and more will the Upper-class be thrown into
    the hands of schools which are mere private speculations,
    which are really under no control but that of personal caprice
    (and the personal caprice, great heavens! of what a stamp of
    intellectual and spiritual man), which, accordingly, provide
    an education, even when judged by its own miserable standard,
    superficial, incoherent, impalpable. And these other schools,
    I say, the best Denominational and Corporation schools, the
    Australian Public schools of the future, will become more and
    more the educational monopoly of the professional and wealthy
    portion of the Upper-class, just as in England they have become
    that of the aristocracy and these portions of the Middle-class.
    These “_great schools_,” exclaims Mr. Bean justly of the
    English Public schools—“_which have done so much to form the
    character of the English gentleman_.” Of the English gentleman?
    Yes, and alas! of the English middle-class man, that terrible
    and pathetic being whom Mr. Arnold has taught us to know as
    the British Philistine. “I declare,” says General Gordon, the
    hero-elect of this very class, “I declare I think there is more
    happiness among these miserable (Soudan) blacks, who have not a
    meal from day to day, than among our middle-classes. The blacks
    are glad of a little handful of maize, and live in the greatest
    discomfort. They have not a strip to cover them; but you do not
    see them grunting and groaning all day long as we see scores
    and scores in England, with their wretched dinner-parties and
    attempts at gaiety where all is hollow and miserable.”

    What a future for the Upper-class, the by far largest class
    of Australia! What an appalling solution to an educational
    difficulty is this:—_A small class made up of our squatters,
    professional men, and wealthy tradesmen, forming a sort of
    intellectual and spiritual aristocracy; our Upper-class not
    only itself intellectually and spiritually dull and debased,
    but debasing and dulling all the better spirits which, in
    their social ascension, pass into it from the ranks of the
    People._ The thought of such a future to those of us to whom
    the progress onward and upward, whether of England or of
    Australia, is a care, is appalling, heartrending, unendurable!
    There is nothing that we could do, by the devotion of our
    powers, energies, and means, that we should not, would not,
    do to prevent it. And we should be, and are, encouraged in
    our struggle against it by the reflection that the real deep
    true spirit of the time is against all monopoly, practical and
    physical, intellectual and spiritual—that once the Upper-class,
    and after them the People, is aroused to the realisation of
    the fact that there is a danger here of the formation of a new
    aristocracy, an aristocracy which, with all its charm (let us
    suppose) of social manners and of intellectual and spiritual
    culture (and this is supposing a very great deal), means
    nothing less than the materialisation, the dulling and the
    debasing, of everything beneath it—when the Upper-class and the
    People, I say, are aroused to the realisation of this, we may
    be sure that they will not rest till they have prevented it.

    And how, it is asked, is such a future to be prevented? how
    such a present to be ameliorated? By the formation, not of
    Denominational and Corporation schools at a charge which places
    them out of the reach of all save the richer among us, but by
    the formation of Public State schools that provide a secondary
    education as good, and, we will hope, better, than that of
    these others, and at a charge that is within the reach of the
    average upper-class people. “Yes, but,” at once is answered,
    “such schools already exist in the High schools, and they have
    not been a success.” I will not here contest, although I well
    might, the first assertion; but I cannot, if I would, contest
    the second. I began by noticing the cause of it, this general
    satisfaction of “the intelligent public” with the educational
    pabulum provided for its offspring. I deplore it; I hope for
    the day of its removal to the gulf of oblivion. In the meantime
    all that can be done is to strive to assist this “consummation
    devoutly to be desired” earnestly and perpetually.

    One word more. No one is more in sympathy (if I may be pardoned
    for speaking of such an unimportant entity) than _I_ am, with
    the efforts of such men as “A. N.” and Mr. Edwin Bean to
    reproduce, or try to reproduce, in Australia as far as may be,
    “that which is certainly best in the English Public schools,
    viz., what is called the Public school spirit.” I have not the
    least prejudice against English Public schools, at one of the
    oldest and most conservative of which I was myself educated,
    and from which I almost entirely derived the circle of my
    most valued friends; nor yet against the Denominational and
    Corporation schools here. I have only to remark to Mr. Bean,
    what I am sure he will at once admit, that if the danger of
    State schools is the excessive interference of the State,
    the danger—nay, the absolute abuse—of endowed Public schools
    is that they become mere feeders of the universities; and in
    England to such an appalling extent was this the case that
    the State absolutely had to alter and narrow its Indian Civil
    Service examinations in order to bring them within reach of the
    Public schools, which were being quite left out in the cold!
    Doubtless, then, the Australian endowed Public schools would
    have their danger too, a danger which “even no less a thinker
    than Herbert Spencer,” as Mr. Bean says, has not perhaps, in
    the application to artificial civilization of the laws of the
    natural “struggle for existence and survival of the fittest,”
    quite comprehended.

    With all apologies to you for the amount of your “valuable
    space” on which I have encroached in even this far too
    perfunctory consideration of the matter in hand,

                            I am, etc.,

There is no one whose opinion on this question of secondary education is
more worthy of our attention than that of Mr. Matthew Arnold. Our debt
of gratitude to him for the general advancement of the Idea of Culture,
not only at home, but everywhere where our language is spoken, is so
great that we have begun to accept it almost as an impersonal fact. The
work which he did long ago, and has never ceased to recapitulate, for
the cause of middle-class secondary education, can only be appreciated
by those whose attention has been turned to it more especially. This,
I hope, will hold me excused to him for quoting here from a letter of
his to me, some expressions of his, and the more so as they seem to
show something like a modification of the view he has so far publicly
enunciated. “I think,” he says, “I see signs that the education question
is likely to present itself at no distant date in this wise: ‘Shall
the majority give public money for any education except the education
necessary for every citizen?’ The education necessary for every citizen
will be somewhat extended in scope, but no account will be taken of the
higher culture hitherto deemed necessary for a leisured and governing
class, and to which so great a mass of endowment has been made to
contribute. On the Continent of Europe a great change will be produced
if this new view prevails, for the endowments have in general been
seized by the State, and the State has directly subsidised secondary and
superior instruction. In England it has not, but the endowments which
these instructions enjoyed have been left to them. Probably they will
not be taken away, but further public aid will hardly be given. Nor do
I think it will be given in the Colonies; and as there the endowment of
secondary and superior instruction is inconsiderable, these instructions
will be, as they are now, at a great disadvantage. The wealthiest people
will send their sons to be educated in England; private schools will, of
course, exist locally, but I do not think they will have influence enough
to create a class and a power out of those they train. Society will
thus be, on the whole, much more homogeneous than with the old nations
of Europe; but, as in the United States, this condition of things will
have its own dangers and drawbacks. The best way to meet them is for
individuals to keep up a love of genuine culture in themselves, and so to
create an even larger force in the nation to favour it.” Of the truth,
or very probable truth, of the educational future here drawn out, there
can, alas, be little question. M. Renan, whose work for France can well
be paralleled with that of Mr. Arnold for us, takes an even gloomier
view. We may count ourselves lucky, he says, if Democracy will consent,
not to encourage, but to tolerate independent study. Democracy, he says,
again, is the advent of universal mediocrity, of that most terrible of
mediocrities, the aggressive. “Great qualities,” cried Empedocles, facing
the same problem as we do,

    “Great qualities are trodden down,
    and littleness united
    is become invincible.”

If this, then, is to be the case in Europe, what will it be in America,
and still more in Australia? Aristocracies may not be ideal, but they
have their use: they establish a certain high tone of social intercourse
which is certainly valuable as one element in a really fine civilization;
and, when they have passed away, it still lives as a tacit influence.
France to-day, for instance, is a republic, but her outward manners,
despite all that has happened, bear something of the mark of the Grand
Siècle. England, again, is swinging away with heavy speed from her
old ideal of Puritanism, and yet, as Mr. Arnold says so well, “the
seriousness, solemness, and devout energy of Puritanism are a prize once
won, never to be lost; they are a possession to our race for ever.”
But America? but Australia? America is not leavened by Puritanism as
England is, neither has she any hereditary tone of social intercourse
to be compared with that of England, not to say of France. America must
settle her own problem for herself, despite all the outer influence which
is brought to bear on her: two hundred miles out from the Amazon mouth
the water is still fresh, but it is salt at last. But consider this
Australia where the Puritanism only began to operate when its sincerity
was souring into cant, where the tone of social intercourse flourishes
in the hands of those who attain to it as the imitation of an imitation!
What can be so disastrous for Australia as the thrusting into power of
a class of this sort, to be followed by a class which is to the first
as the first is to its prototype in England? How this future presents
itself has already been considered here. Mr. Marcus Clarke’s picture
of it stands like a perpetual nightmare. What hope, then, remains to
us except in that very “higher culture hitherto deemed necessary for
a leisured and governing class,” which Mr. Arnold tells us our local
private schools will not have influence enough to create as “a class and
a power?” Is the only aristocracy possible to us to be, not a broad one
like that of Athens, but a narrow one like that of Rome? We all know the
picture Juvenal has painted of the decadence of this last, and Johnson’s
application of it to the London of his time is not a memory altogether
pleasant. “The lustre of a capital,” says M. Renan, with his eye on
that of his own country, “springs from a vast provincial dung-heap,
where millions of men lead an obscure life, in order to bring forth some
brilliant butterflies which come to burn themselves in the light.” And
if for capital we substitute plutocracy, and for butterflies creatures
of a nature less savoury, we see something like the sort of future with
which we are threatened here. Political life at present in Europe can
scarcely be called noble, but here in Australia it is positively so base
that there is a danger of its becoming the monopoly of men whose verbose
incompetence is only equalled by their jovial corruption. The Plutocracy,
such as it is, is being thrown in upon itself. Its present generation,
it is true, is content to work—and, indeed, can find its only happiness
in work; but this will not be so with the next, and still less with
the third, generation. The desire to enjoy will grow into a lust, and
this lust will spread. The end of this we know, and there will not lack
writers to look back upon the present, even as so many of us look forward
to the future, with a sort of eager envy. Well, and what is to be done to
prevent this, if it is to be prevented? To cease from trying to obtain a
secondary education for the Upper-class? to obtain Australian Rugbies,
not only for the Plutocracy, but for the Upper-class, and for any one of
the People that has the care to climb up to them and the best education
which his age and country can afford him? to create a class and power
that shall, in their turn, create a really fine civilization?—are we to
cease from all direct struggle for this, and meet the present crisis by
simply trying “to keep up the love of genuine culture in ourselves, and
so to create an ever larger force in the nation to favour it?” I cannot
believe that this is so; I cannot even believe that, good way as it is,
it is “the best way.” We have all been reading lately what Mr. Arnold had
to say in favour of this indirect method, this creation of a Remnant that
should at last become a power, and I am sure I should be the last person
to say a word against it. All I have to say is, that I have too much
belief in the power of institutions (a power “the benefits of which,” Mr.
Arnold has just been telling us, “he had not properly appreciated” before
his trip to America) to neglect anything that could bring them to the
side of Culture. I appreciate the indirect method, and I believe that,
in the long run, it is the method which gives permanent solidity, but I
cannot blind myself to the immense importance of the direct method. If
it is necessary to conduct a river into a city, the pipes must first be
made, and care taken that they are not too small. The French Revolution
was a violent attempt and a premature one, and yet, such as it was, it
brought a greater volume of happiness into France than the abortive
attempt that we made in England. _We_ have still to face the problem of
the happiness of the few and the debasement of the many, and I cannot see
that it is an easier problem to resolve than that which is presenting
itself to the French just at present. I still, then, must continue to
believe that it is not wise in England, and how much more in America,
and how much more in Australia, to refrain from the direct struggle for
a higher education for our Upper-class. Our aim is not for the few but
for the many, and not for elementary Culture for the many, but for the
possibilities of a really fine Culture. We have, too, our distrust of
Remnants. We dread their tendency to take to lotus-eating. They are apt
to care so little for the propagation of either their species or their

    “Let us alone! What pleasure can we have
    to war with evil? Is there any peace
    in ever climbing up the climbing wave?”

It is with difficulty, with great and perpetual difficulty, that a Goethe
can keep his duty to his art and his duty to his neighbour at the perfect
poise. It is so hard to keep your duty to yourself from running into your
duty to your selfishness. Light, and the love of light, and the love
of bringing light to others, is after all impossible without a certain
admixture of heat. Let us, then, still continue to nourish our enthusiasm
for a direct purpose, which shall be the future to that great mass of
average human beings who are thoughtlessly moulded by whatever they find
is strong enough to mould them. Let us be jealous of individuals. “_Non
Angli, sed angeli._”

    “_Leave not a human soul_
    _to grow old in darkness and pain!_”

                                                         _October, 1885._



Everyone nowadays has something to say about Culture. Even the
politicians have heard of it, and some morning we may read in our
newspapers that one of them is of opinion that there is some meaning in
the term. Naturally enough we have all of us for some time been groping
after the thing itself. The Time-Spirit is like a skilful driver of
sheep. He may have considerable trouble with his flock, but, thanks
to his unruffled intelligence and the ceaseless exertions of his dog
Genius, he brings them all in in time for the market. It is now almost a
century since the Idea of Culture took definite shape in the mind of a
single man, and ever since then the number of its followers has kept on
increasing, until at last everyone, as I remarked, has now something to
say about it. If, however, one enquires of people, not what they _think_
of Culture, (For everyone from the Vatican Œcumenical Council[11] to
the author of “In Memoriam”[12] is agreed as to the advantage of it),
but what culture _is_, one may go far for a satisfactory answer. Women
are growing dissatisfied with the sphere of their work. What is it that
they need? “More breadth of culture,” answers the Prince of Tennyson’s
Princess readily enough, “more breadth of culture!” And it will be said
that it is easy to see that what the Prince means is, that women should
have thrown open to them the education that has so far been the monopoly
of men. But is this Culture? is this the whole truth about it?—simply the
giving to the many—to women, to the Middle-class and to the People—what
is the education of the few? would that man in whose mind the Idea of
Culture first took definite shape have been satisfied with the sight
of ubiquitous Harrows and Etons and Grammar Schools of Melbourne and
Geelong? There can be no doubt but that such a sight would have pleased,
but it certainly would not have satisfied him. “Schools,” he would
have said, “are of high importance, but what is taught in them is of
importance still higher.”

And so we come back again to our question as to what Culture _is_ with a
sense that the ready answers to it are only half answers. Now everyone
has heard of Goethe, and everyone has read some of his writings—“Faust,”
at any rate—and, as it is to Goethe that we owe the Idea of Culture (as
indeed most things that are really good in the sphere of modern thought),
it would be best to at once quote his own words on the matter, and see
if we cannot find a definition, or at any rate a description, of Culture
that shall satisfy us. Poetry, however, does not exactly lend itself to
definitions of such things as this, or even to descriptions. In Faust
himself the idea may be more or less, as they say, incarnated, but we
plain practical people, who like things put as much in black and white
as may be, have some difficulty in these matters, and would far rather
hear of them in simple English prose which means what it says and says
what it means, than in poetry (and particularly German poetry) which
seems to us to do exactly the reverse. Well, then, let us turn away from
this parabolic Goethe for a little, and see if we cannot find someone who
shall be his expounder to us. And who else should this be, at any rate
in this case, than he whom the newspapers like to call the Apostle of
Culture, Mr. Matthew Arnold? Let us go to Mr. Matthew Arnold, and say:
“Sir, you are constantly talking about Culture, and you have said many
uncomplimentary things to us all about our want of it. Now would you be
so kind as to tell us precisely what you _mean_ by it? And we warn you
that we are plain practical people who like things put as much in black
and white as may be, and that we have a decidedly poor opinion of your
efforts to make us believe that ‘the Eternal not ourselves that makes for
righteousness’ is the same thing as our ‘loving and intelligent Governor
of the Universe,’ and that it makes no difference to us when we eat our
Christmas goose and plum-pudding whether we believe that we do so because
those shepherds and those Three Kings _did_ come that day to Christ in
the Bethlehem manger, to the accompaniment of an angelic concert, or did
not. We want, Sir, a definition of this Culture of yours, or, if you
cannot give us that (But, really now, you are so clever at definitions
that we shall be quite disappointed if you cannot!), then you must give
us a good description of it, so that we may be able to arrive at a proper
decision about it.” Then an expression of bland patience would cross
Mr. Arnold’s countenance, as he sat in his study chair, listening with
that “native modesty” of which he has told us all, to the words of our
curious foreman; and, after a short pause, he would perhaps answer:
“Gentlemen, I am much honoured by this deputation and inquiry. Long ago
in some remarks of mine on translating Homer.... But I will refer you to
a more recent period. A new and revised edition of a little book of mine
called ‘Literature and Dogma’ has just been issued in a cheap form by
Messrs. Smith, Elder and Co. You will find that in the Preface to it the
following words occur, which I venture to think may, on investigation,
be found to answer the question with which I am now honoured. But, as
you possibly may not remember it, (for I cannot expect you, any more
than myself, to be always studying my works), I will quote it to you.
‘_Culture_,’ I said (Culture in italics)—‘_Culture_, knowing the best
that has been thought and known in the world.’ I can give no better
definition than this. ‘True Culture,’ I say again, ‘true Culture implies
not only knowledge, but right tact and justness of judgment, forming
themselves by and with judgment.’ Or, yet again: ‘Culture is _reading_’
(Reading in italics), ‘but reading with a purpose to guide it, and with
system.’”—And with this, and a renewal of compliments on both sides, our
jury bows itself out, and presently the sound of the closing hall-door
mounts up to the silent chamber.

    “But an awful pleasure bland
    spreading o’er the Poet’s face,
    when the sound climbs near his seat,
    the encircled library sees;
    as he lets his lax right hand
    which the lightnings doth embrace
    sink upon his mighty knees.”

This, then, it seems, is Culture—_knowing the best that has been thought
and known in the world—not only knowledge, but right tact and justness of
judgment, forming themselves by and with judgment_—reading, _but reading
with a purpose to guide it, and with system_. And is not this something
like what Goethe meant in that enigmatic sentence of his, which we have
heard so often quoted by people who understood it as much as we did:
“Vom Halben zu entwöhnen; Im Ganzen, Guten, Schönen resolut zu leben.”
“I resolved to wean myself from halves, and to live for the Whole, the
Good, the Beautiful.” But even now, even now that we know what it is (And
after all, we say, what much more is it than saying that we ought to try
for the best article, and not rest content with anything but the best
article?), wherein are we, we plain practical people with our attachment
to black and white, helped to the attainment of it? Culture, we are told,
is reading, but reading with a purpose to guide it and with system. The
purpose, it is presumed, is attainment, but what is the system? We are
to have knowledge, and not only knowledge but right tact and justness of
judgment, forming themselves by and with judgment. All very nice, we say,
but how are we to get them? You say to a man who hobbles, “Run:” he is
quite as capable of saying it as you are. Either show him how to run, or
hold your tongue!—unless it be that he thinks he _is_ running, and even
then it seems useless enough to undeceive him without you can teach him
how to do what he now thinks he is. What, then, is this system of which
you speak? what is the receipt for it? is it a system possible to _us_?

Well, I really have not the courage to go and face Mr. Arnold again.
Handlers of the lightnings like he is can be so disagreeable when they
please. Where is the joy of figuring in some ludicrous or contemptible
attitude in their writings for the next few hundred years or so? It is
all very well to say that we shall all of us be in our graves presently,
and all equally ignorant of what our descendants may think of us, but the
truth is no one likes to be held up to the nations as a fool or a knave,
and especially if he be both. I see nothing for it but to let the oracle
alone. I for one will have nothing to do with stirring up Phoibos again.
I have done so more than once already, and am too grateful for a whole
hide to tempt the arrows further. We must be our own Oidipous. At most
we can reverently finger the Sibylline leaves, and see if anything of
“pleasant to the eye and good for food” can be extracted therefrom.

To begin with, however, does it not seem best to say at once that, after
all, there is no receipt for not saying and doing foolish things except
not to be foolish? No system in the world will give wings to a worm. On
the other hand, there is really no reason why the descendants of that
worm should not one day navigate the sky; and, as a matter of fact, they
do. Similarly with the stupidest and the most degraded of us, I cannot
see why a single moment should be lost in attempting to better them. The
earth is likely to be inhabitable for the next eight millions of years
or so, it seems, and I am sure that is long enough for us. We need not
be in such a hurry as the Socialists would have us, nor yet creep along
on all fours in the Conservative manner; but we must not, of course,
undervalue either fashion or progress, since both wheels and a drag are
important parts of a carriage in uneven country. But here again, as is
always the case, we are brought face to face with the question, not only
of the wheels and the drag, not only of the carriage itself, and not only
of even the driver of it, but of the end of the journey. “The purpose,”
we said a moment ago in our ready way, “is, it is presumed, attainment,
but what is the system?—Never mind,” we say, “about where we are going
to: let us hear about the carriage we are going in! Let us have Etons and
Harrows and Melbourne and Geelong Grammar Schools everywhere, and then we
shall be alright. Let us resolve to have the best article, and not rest
content with anything but the best article, and that’s all!”

Alas, for the impatience of mankind! In order to _try_ for the best
article, not to say to _have_ it, must we not first know what the best
article _is_? should we not know where we are going to, before we
construct our carriage and purchase our horses? And yet, in ninety-nine
cases out of a hundred, are we not content to _go_, and leave more or
less to chance where we are going _to_? do we not waste half our lives in
overcoming difficulties with which we ought to have had nothing to do?
It is so easy to talk and to act: it is so difficult to think, and mould
your words and actions to your thoughts rather than your thoughts to your
words and actions. It is the weary old tale of the more haste and the
less speed, the weary old tale that is for ever new. And yet we will not
listen to it. Sooner than trouble ourselves with the _whys_ of things,
we will throw ourselves with energy into the first _hows_ that present
themselves, and leave the rest to chance, or, as Dr. Moorhouse’s good
“unintelligent orthodox” people say, to God. But nothing real, nothing
lasting, is achieved in this way. Nature does not work in this way: God
does not work in this way. The beasts do and the vast majority of men do,
and that is why, in Hamlet’s words, life is such “an unweeded garden that
grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature possess it merely.” No,
if we are to understand, not only Culture but anything at all, we must
begin at the very beginning: we must learn the _whys_. Take care of the
_whys_, we might say, and the _hows_ will take care of themselves. And
let us not for a moment be deceived by those who tell us that our fathers
got along very well without inquiring into the _whys_, into the causes of
things, and so can we. This is not so. Whatever success has been achieved
has been achieved by a recognition, conscious or unconscious it may be,
of the causes of the thing worked upon. Instead of our fathers having had
any success from their ignorance of causes, or their reliance on good
fortune, they have had success in despite in these, and only so far as
they banished the one and knew how to turn to account the other.

And Culture? what has this to do with Culture? Everything!—In this, as
in so many other cases, we concentrate all our attention on the _how_
and leave the _why_ to take care of itself. “More breadth of Culture,
more breadth of Culture,” cry the Princes and the Priests, and everyone
else, in emulous chorus. But when they are asked what they _mean_ by
Culture—what Culture _is_, then they have no answer ready save one (as
Shelley says),

    “pinnacled dim in the intense inane;”

and this sort of thing will, in the end, satisfy no man.

Well, we have heard what Culture _is—knowing the best that has been
thought and known in the world_. But we have been brought up sharply at
the very next step: _Culture is reading, but reading with a purpose to
guide it_. What is the purpose? Attainment. Yes, but _how_? _how_ and

But before we try to answer that, let us think a moment whether the
expounder of our parabolic Goethe has given us a definition that is
quite satisfactory. We have nothing to say against his definition of
Culture itself. It expresses Goethe’s “the Whole, the Good and the
Beautiful” perfectly. But what about this second definition? what about
Culture being reading, but reading with a purpose to guide it? Is
this a pure parallel equivalent of the first, or has it something of
a limitation in it? Can we, indeed (supposing us the happy possessors
of a certain purpose and system), achieve a knowledge of the best that
has been thought and known in the world—of the Whole, the Good and the
Beautiful—by reading, and by reading only? is this what Goethe has to
say to us? is this the lesson of Goethe’s life? If it is, why is it that
he lays such stress on the absolute personal experience of things? If
Faust could have achieved Truth in his study, why does Goethe show us
his achievement of it by taking him away from his reading, and flinging
him in the arms, first of Love and then of Life? Faust does not leave
his reading and his thinking behind him: they accompany him everywhere,
from Margarete’s bedroom to the witch-revel on the Brocken. And what does
this mean but that, to achieve a knowledge of the best that the world
has thought and known, two things are necessary—reading and experience;
or, in the same words, thought and knowledge. No amount of reading will
compensate for want of experience. It is useless for me to think I
have attained to Truth, if I have never felt her absolute presence. Is
idealization the essence of true love? Is there a more real inspiration
to be found in the faëry princesses of Shelley, than in the breathing
women of Wordsworth? Idealization is good, but it must have a firm
foundation in reality, or it is barren of anything but fantasticality. So
it is with thought and knowledge. No man who has not himself lived and
loved can tell us the truth of love and life. Gibbon had immense reading,
and a purpose and a system in it (I do not here enter upon their precise
nature), and his history of the Decline and Fall of Rome is in many
respects quite admirable, but he does not attain to truth in it. And why?
Because he has not experience, he has not knowledge. All his reading, all
his purpose, all his system will not compensate for the want of their
corollary. No, Culture, the achieving of the best that has been thought
in the world, is not reading, not reading with any purpose or system that
has been or will ever be devised. Culture is the combination of reading
with experience, of thought with knowledge. The one thing acts as a check
on the other; the one is the spirit and the other the body; the one,
in Shakspere’s words, the “judgment” and the other the “blood,” and in
their “co-mingling” is found the perfect man. The purpose, the system
remain unchanged. We have only, as it seems to me, to develop our second
definition: to say that Culture _is reading and experience, but reading
and experience with a purpose to guide them, and a system_.

And so, having disposed somewhat of the _why_, we come back to the _how_,
the purpose and the system. In reality the two are one. Mr. Arnold
speaks once of Goethe’s “profound impartiality,” and elsewhere he lays
the greatest stress on that which alone can help criticism “to produce
fruit for the future”—_disinterestedness_. By _disinterestedness_ he
means the sincere endeavour, the pure and simple endeavour, to get at the
truth of things, to see them as they really are. And what is this but
Goethe’s determination to “wean himself from halves,” from partial views
of things? Now nothing is easier than to say that you seek for Truth
and Truth only, and nothing is more difficult to do. Who is there that
does not make this profession? And yet how few, how infinitely few, are
those who turn it into practice! And why is this? The answer of course is
because, say what they may, the pursuit of most men is merely relative.
I no more attain to Truth by saying “Go to, I will attain to it,” than I
should fly over the moon by a like formula. It is only the really honest
and sincere, the really pure and simple endeavour to find Truth that
makes me competent to even set out in search of it, and it is only by
the ceaseless use of a system of resolute patience and clear-sightedness
that I can hope to proceed with any success upon my way. This is indeed a
hard saying; but who, except him who ought to feel it least, feels that
Truth is a goal to be won by rose-crowned processions to the sound of
cymbals and dances? Some people, indeed, have a conviction that a special
exception has been made in their case, and that what has been hidden
from the wise and prudent has been revealed to babes and sucklings; and
I am sure it is a pleasant sight enough to see the way the babes and
sucklings enjoy this idea, and will continue to do so as long as the
milk lasts. (And, indeed, at this very hour when the milk is running
rather low, what a dismal howl the poor little things are setting up, and
how on earth are we ever going to wean them?) No, it is only by utter
and unwearying honesty, by the obstinate determination to admit of no
delusion or illusion, however attractive, however pleasant to our souls,
that we can hope to attain to anything like Truth. How often, when we
think we have found the jewel, must we put it down and remove ourselves,
now to this side, now to that, to be sure that the cutting is indeed
flawless! how much must we give up, and how much must we win, before our
mind is trained to, as it were, of itself, effortlessly, spontaneously,
look at things with that patient clear-sightedness which reaches to their
essence! This, then, is our purpose in Culture, and this our system, and
this is the fruit of it—a habit of thought which shall have _not only
thought and knowledge, but right tact and justness of judgment, forming
themselves by and with judgment_. And so our scheme is complete.

Now, leave this theoretical consideration of it for a moment, and see
with what result it has been applied to actual things. It has been
applied, it is being applied, everywhere and to almost everything. Take
the domain of Science, where it has, so far, been applied in a manner
which appeals most to most people—practical success, as we call it. There
is no need for me to sing the praises of this practical success. It rises
all round me in choruses and peans and hosannas. What I want to say
about it is, that all this practical success is due solely and entirely
to the fact that its creators have applied that purpose and system of
ours on, it is true, a more virgin soil than most, but also with a more
thoroughness than any. Look at the patience and clear-sightedness that
breathes and shines in every page Darwin wrote! It was well said of him,
that you could be sure no one would state the case against anything he
had to say more fully than he did himself. What a serenity the man had,
what depths of power and peace! It was my privilege to have had for
father one who, to his own depths of serenity, and power, and peace,
added those drawn from his friendship with this great Darwin, and from
an unrivalled appreciation of his work. When I think of that method of
the pursuit of the truth of things which I have myself seen in the late
Professor Leith Adams, my father, I seem to myself to despair of ever
thoroughly mastering the reality of anything at all. I am overwhelmed
with the mystery of Butters’ Spelling Book: I dare not lift up my eyes
to criticise a barrel-organ, and the young lady so painfully practising
scales there is a whole heaven above me. We cannot too much praise the
complete singleness of heart and soul with which the Scientists have
faced their problems. When I compare Lord Tennyson’s consideration of
the Struggle in Nature in _In Memoriam_, with Darwin’s in his _Descent
of Man_, the radical insincerity of the former, I confess, disgusts me,
and I fear to do some one or other of its good qualities an injustice.
What intellectual exercise all this despair is! The poet’s mind is made
up before he starts, and all this paraphernalia of doubt is really simply
to show that he can enter into the opposite point of view to his own,
and yet retain his original convictions! What is the sum total of it?
That here is a man of the past, born into a present from which none but
those of the future can evolve that future. Five are five and ten are
ten, and he adds them together and makes seven! With how different a
temper does Darwin face his problem! He has become “as a little child”
in his simple attitude towards things. “Where’er thou leadest, will I
follow thee.” And it was just because this was so, that what he had to
say to us prevails more and more; for, having attained to the secret of
the purpose and system of patience and clear-sightedness, he had not only
knowledge but right tact and justness of judgment, forming themselves by
and with judgment; and so he achieved Truth for himself and for others.
Nor does the good of such a man, his life and his work, end here. He has
communicated to all who have anything to do with his work, his secret
or something of his secret, even as Goethe did before him. Why, here
we have Professor Huxley warning the coming race of Scientists against
taking for granted the very things in the discovery and revelation of
which he has himself toiled all his life, and the cry has been taken up
with enthusiasm. “All is possible,” said Professor Clifford, “to him
who doubts.” What an admirable temper is this. Imagine Cardinal Newman
warning the young Catholics against taking the Infallibility of the
Church for granted! Or Lord Tennyson assuring us that that fine personal
individuality theory of his (“I am I, thou art thou,” and so on) must
not be considered by young Churchmen as finally settled! And yet it is
in the possession or non-possession of this temper, I say, that lies
the essential difference between the men of the past and the men of the
future. Mr. Arnold laments that Cardinal Newman, “that exquisite and
delicate genius,” was not born a little later, so that the Time-Spirit
might have touched and transformed him. The same may be said of Lord
Tennyson, and will be said in another fifty years. But let us have an
end to such laments. To these men, as to their contemporaries, the light
came, and they chose the twilight where others chose the dawn, and,
having had their hour of victory in the applause of the mass of their
time, the doubters and the believers, let us recognize that, at any rate
as influences on thought, they are but ghosts in the bright daytime,
speechless and ineffectual.

I have, despite myself, been singing the praises of the Scientists.
And why not? Have they not shown us that they have (as Darwin says so
gracefully of Mr. Wallace) “an innate genius for solving difficulties?”
But they, too, have their assailable side. I have spoken of Professor
Clifford. His talent we were all bound to admire, and his sincerity;
but how wonderfully inept he was when he came to consider things
outside his own immediate sphere! We all remember what he had to say
about Christianity. He had the same narrowness towards Christianity
that the Christians have towards Science. In them it is excusable,
perhaps. Circumstances have been all against them. They have had such
little opportunity of attaining to the secret of the purpose and system
of Culture. It has taken its rise outside their pale, and has been
combated as a foe, and is still combated. But in a man who _had_ this
secret, how inexcusable the not being able to apply it outside his own
immediate sphere! and how doubly inexcusable to apply to his opponents
that very method which had made them so! Really he should have known
better. And unfortunately there are so many of the young Scientists that
are following in his footsteps, and not in the footsteps of Darwin. And
this is a great misfortune, and should be struggled against with all
our powers. But otherwise (since I cannot end here with the note of
blame), how truly admirable is the temper of these men when they are only
let alone in their own sphere! Compare the teaching of Science in our
colleges and universities with that of Literature! And yet, slow as is
the progress of Literature in its application of the purpose and system
of Culture to things, it _is_ a progress. The success of that charming
series of biographies, the English Men of Letters—nay, of the little
shilling Literature Primers—is a sign of it. And the same thing, too, is
being done with regard to Philosophy; but, so far, the men of Science
have the lead, and they deserve it; for, as I have said, theirs has been
the most complete singleness of heart and soul with which Truth has been
sought out, they have the most thoroughly applied the secret of the
purpose and system of Culture.

Now, let us again leave our consideration of these things, and see
wherein this question of Culture concerns us plain practical people with
our attachment to black and white; how does it, in a word, come into our
daily life. I can only answer as before, everywhere!—The other day the
son of a friend of mine, (say) Jones, wished to apprentice himself as
a brewer, or, rather, wished to start as a brewer at once. His father
sent him to a well-known brewer to be, as the father said, put through
his paces. The young man returned crestfallen. What was the matter? The
father could not understand it, and I was set to find it out.—“_Tom
hasn’t enough Culture_,” I reported.—“What do you mean?” asked the
father.—“He doesn’t know the best that has been thought and known in the
world in the matter of brewing,” I replied, “I should advise a course of
practical chemistry.”—“But I’m sure X ..., the brewer’s father, didn’t
know anything about chemistry, or his father before him.”—“Probably; but,
if _X_ ... didn’t, I expect he’d have to give up brewing,” I said. And it
is the same in everything. More and more the perception that things move
by fixed laws, which must be obeyed if we would direct ourselves with
success, spreads and intensifies. The necessity of moulding our words
and actions to our thoughts, rather than our thoughts to our words and
actions, is becoming apparent to all men who would avoid the workhouse,
actual or metaphorical. The _whys_ of things press upon us. It is no use
contenting ourselves with the _hows_. If we do, someone else finds out
the _whys_, and we are left in the lurch. The other day an intelligent
sheep-breeder told me an amusing tale. He had with much trouble and
cost purchased in Tasmania a small stud of prize sheep, which he took
up to his station in the North. The flower of the first generation he
sent to a neighbouring show. The wool of the sheep was thick and close,
unlike that of the locky sheep which are considered the best there. His
sheep was laughed at by all the judges, who wondered such a sensible man
should have sent such a senseless sheep! These judges were deficient
in Culture: they did not know the best that has been thought and known
in the world in the matter of sheep-breeding. The sheep of these men
were shearing on an average less by more than two pounds of wool than
the sheep of the more scientific sheep-breeders further south! It is a
question, then, whether their children will be so jubilant when they are
brought face to face with the competition of an enormously increased home
wool-production, and a still more enormously increased wool-production
from South America. You cannot now with impunity be wanting in Culture.
The stream of life flows too fast for the straws that want to go
exploring back-waters, or stopping to admire the scenery.

And Australia—this Australia in which we live—what a need for Culture is
here! I see nothing here of the best, and much of the worst. Take this
very question of sheep-breeding. Australia is in advance of England,
for sheep-breeding is the staple support of the one country, and only
an item in the produce of the other. But in what a backward state it is
to what, as a staple support, it ought to be! By what rough and ready
methods things are still done here. What a dearth of real intelligence
there is! of that patience and clear-sightedness which is the secret of
the purpose and system of Culture. Who seems to see that in this, as in
all matters, the _why_ is the important matter on which the _how_ will
follow, and not the reverse? There is abundance of shrewdness to hand,
and finger and thumb wisdom, but who sees that the great necessity is
sheer knowledge? Australia was made by men of this stamp, and they still
rule it, but their rule is passing, as it was bound to pass, before
the unruffled intelligence of the Time-Spirit. These were the men who
gave us our absurd nomenclature of birds and flowers. If they saw a
bird was black and had one dissonant cry, they called it a jay, and it
sufficed. A flower is yellow and little: call it a primrose. And so on.
Then their children arose in their turn, and found themselves rich, and
took to building cities, and we have (what Mr. Sala calls) Marvellous
Melbourne, with the Picture-gallery and Statue-gallery which we know,
and the crowning glory of its Government House, perhaps the most hideous
hospital in existence. Or the good Sydney people would like to decorate
their Post-office with emblematic sculpture, and the result is, what has
at last become, the mockery of a Continent. And at last, too, the Picture
Gallery at Melbourne is coming into disrepute, and some day, perhaps, the
Government House will do the same. It would be pleasant, I think, to see
it turned into an asylum. No nation that calls itself civilized stands
in more need of Culture, of the best that has been thought and known in
the world, in each and every branch of it, than Australia does. Some
faint perception of this seems positively to be beginning to dawn upon
its complacency. Let us do all we can to forward this. “The Australians,”
said an Australian to me the other day, “are much more fond of beautiful
things than the English.” “Alas,” I answered, “that is not saying much,
but I have not yet remarked it.” No, the one commendable wish that the
Australians have, is that they really do want the best article in things,
and for the best article they are ready to pay. The unfortunate thing is,
that there seems nothing in which they are yet qualified to know the best
article when they see it! “We want fine pictures,” say the Victorians,
and they are befooled by ship-loads of London tea-trays, which no one but
members of Assembly and the wives of tradespeople and squatters would
take for anything else.—And yet, how is it possible for me to continue to
pile up anathemas like this against these Australians for whom I hope so
much, unless it be that I think in this way to do the little best I can
towards helping to the realization of my hopes? But this is an old tale
now, and we will say no more of it.

In every aspect of life, then, from its highest to its lowest, let us
remember this idea of Culture, let us make for the best article, and
be secure in its possession. The other day a Melbourne lady was saying
to me how pretty and charming a place the Fitzroy Gardens were as a
public park. “But the brown plaster statues,” I said, “and the concrete
water-shrines.” And this Melbourne lady frankly declared her allegiance
to these things, and, when in my disagreeable unsatisfied way I began to
compare them with the marble copies from the Antique which are to be seen
in the Inner Domain and Botanical Gardens in Sydney, she frankly told me
that _after all_ it was only _a matter of opinion_, and _my_ opinion was
this and _hers_ was that! “And so,” I said, “my dear lady, it is, _after
all_, only _a matter of opinion_ whether the Apollo of the Belvidere or
the Venus of Milo is more beautiful or less beautiful than the statue of
Burke and Wills in Collins Street, not to say the brown-plaster statues
in the Fitzroy Gardens?” And then this Melbourne lady, who had read many
novels and magazines, and several volumes of sermons and even popular
“philosophy books,” maintained her original assertion with the charming
assurance of her sex; and I could only think that it was a pity she had
not Culture—did not know the best, or even the second or third best, of
what has been known and thought in the world in the matter of sculptural
beauty, for then she would not have helped to persuade her husband to
vote for the erection of any more brown-plaster statues and concrete
water-shrines in the public places of his city. But, as it is, I am
so thankful that the Sydney people have decorated one of their public
places with really fine marble copies from the Antique (which none of
these Australians, with their superior love for beautiful things has
yet, so far as I am aware, thought of defacing), that I wonder at myself
for thinking of saying it is a pity to see beside these so many poor
modern and perhaps colonial products; for who can be wise—do I say in an
hour, in a day, in a year, in a life-time? nay, rather, in a generation?
Certainly not the architects and public decorators of Australia. Let
us be thankful for what we have got, and diligently go on showing our
thankfulness by asking for more.

But no; the time has passed when silly people can say that silliness is,
_after all_, only a _matter of opinion_—or, if it has not passed, then we
ought all of us to be striving our utmost to make it be passed. Culture
is possible to so many! Its text-books are no longer in the hands of the
incompetent: we have really no excuse for thinking Mr. Martin Tupper
is preferable as a poet to Lord Tennyson, or Miss Eliza Cook to Mr.
Arnold; and I will confess that I look with suspicion on the intellectual
attainments of a man who sees no difference in the _opinion_ of Darwin
or Professor Huxley and of the popular Theologians and Mr. Lilly. Look,
I say, at the text-books of Culture now, of the best which has been
known and thought in the world. We have all seen Professor Huxley’s
little primer of Physiology. Well, that is for Science. Then there is
Mr. Stopford Brooke’s little primer of English Literature. That is for
Literature; and these are only examples. Really, now, we _have_ no excuse
for reading the wrong books and thinking the wrong thoughts any more.
And we have not, either, to confine ourselves to the thought of our own
language. Everywhere excellent translations of noteworthy works are to be
found. We would get to know something of the literature of Greece? At the
end of Mr. Jebbs’ excellent little primer of Greek Literature, we shall
find a list of the best translations. We have heard people talking of
Professor Haeckel and his wonderful physiological work? Good translations
of his best-known books are to hand. And so on throughout the whole
domain of thought.

Let us sum up and conclude. We see, then, I think, what Culture is, and
what is the purpose and system which should form and guide it. There
is only one thing more to say about it, and that is that Culture, in
this sense of the word, is the distinct product of our own times. No
other country at no other time possessed it. The Jews possessed an
unrivalled insight into Religion, into the sense of Righteousness. It is
to a Jew that we owe most of what is best in Religion. Indeed, to the
great majority of us his name is still a synonyme for Religion. But
Righteousness is not the sole necessity of life—there is also Beauty.
“Beauty,” says Keats,

    “beauty is truth, truth beauty: this is all
    ye know on earth or that ye need to know.”

But Keats, we remember, was a Pagan, a modern Greek, and men like
this are quite as apt to think that Beauty is “the one thing needful”
as the other stamp of man is to think that Righteousness is “the one
thing needful;” whereas the real fact is that both are needful. What an
advantage, then, have we over both Jews and Greeks in our appreciation of
this! At the best, it is not possible to look upon either Paul or Plato
as exponents of anything final. It requires two wings to soar with, and
who can think that this “ugly little Jew,” as M. Renan has it, who talked
nonsense about an Art which at best seemed to him mostly diabolical,
was dowered with two? Nor yet can we think this of that “high Athenian
gentleman,” as Carlyle retorts, with his illustrious Master who would
have been so “terribly at ease in Zion.” Let us recognize it at once:
the Jews are great and the Greeks are great, but neither of them by
themselves can satisfy us. Nay, further; to the sense of Righteousness
and Beauty must now be added that sense which Bacon first brought with
any fertility to us—the sense of Science. “And we,” says Arnold,

    “and we have been on many thousand lines,
    and we have shown, in each, spirit and power.”

And it is just from the combination of the results of our spirit and
power on these many thousand lines that this Culture of ours, this unique
product of our times, springs. It was not before this possible. How could
Paul understand the Greek Art? how could Plato have understood the Hebrew
Righteousness? It was not till the Renascence, till Shakspere, that such
a thing was possible, and it was not till Modernity, till Goethe, that
it was possible to find these two senses, the sense of Beauty and of
Righteousness, united to that third great sense, the sense of Science.
I do not say that our age is necessarily a peculiarly great age: you
may call it the dwarf on the giant’s shoulders, if you please; but what
I do say is, that it is the first age which has been able to attain to
anything like a really comprehensive Culture, a knowledge of the best
that has been known and thought in the world. Possibly we are only on the
threshold of Truth: possibly it will be left to another age to work out
and complete what we have but begun; but this I think is certain: We
_are_ on the threshold, and the sooner we realize it, the sooner shall
we realize that we are men in whom it is incumbent to put off childish
things, the sooner shall we advance into the palace and very home.

Ah, then, let us no longer content ourselves with anything less than
the best article! Let us live for the Idea of Culture, for and by
it—for the best that has been thought and known in the world! Let us,
too, like Goethe, resolve to wean ourselves from halves, from partial
and prejudiced views of things, and to live “_im Ganzen, Guten,
Schönen_”—“for the Whole, the Good, the Beautiful!”

                                                     _December, 1885._





Horace Gildea was the grandson of one of those self-reliant energetic
men of the English upper Middle-class, who at an early period of life
conceive a particular ambition, and devote themselves wholly to the
successful achievement of it. Edward Gildea, the man in question,
desired, or we may even say intended, to possess both wealth and
position, and he was, as the expression goes, still young (between forty
and fifty years of age, that is) when his intentions were fulfilled. A
baronetcy was conferred on him by a grateful Conservative government:
his marriage with the only daughter of Lord Mainwaring had already
brought him a considerable amount of landed property; and now, having
bought more, he retired from the troublous and busy world to the “easeful
dignity” of the life of a rich and respected English country magnate. Our
Aristocracy is adaptive (here, indeed, lies its strength, as compared,
for instance, with that of France): it will enrol among its members of
to-day an outgrowth of the Middle-class, upper and lower, professional
or trading, with the same ready complacency with which it enrolled among
its members of yesterday the offspring of some poor royal amour or other;
and this is not surprising, when we perceive how little difference there
is, intellectually speaking, between the three classes. The aristocratic
ideal in England does not, or did not, soar much higher than grouse to
shoot, land to shoot them on, and savoury cooking to eat them with;
and the aristocratic ideal is, with slight modifications, the ideal
of the country at large. In one generation the Gildeas were counted
among, what is called, the best people. The two sons of Sir Edward
were educated at public schools and Oxford and Cambridge, and passed,
the one into parliament, the other into the Diplomatic-service, where
neither distinguished themselves. Horace Gildea, too, an only child,
was sent to a public school and Oxford, and with the same result. At
Oxford, however, although he did nothing more, educationally, than take
his degree, he did not spend his time in mere amusement. Thanks to the
friendship of Sir James Gwatkin, the well-known æsthetic critic, Gildea
learned to appreciate the delights of that wonderful modern production
which we call Culture. He had sufficient knowledge of Greek and Latin to
enter into the spirit of their art and poetry, and he learned French,
German, and Italian in the pleasant sexual manner prescribed by Byron. He
travelled more or less all over Europe, “living and loving largely,” but
(unlike Byron) saved from that excess whose inevitable fruit is satiety,
by the talisman with which Sir James had dowered him. Gildea had, too,
what the Romans called _curiositas_. The merely physical ideal of the
English viveur did not satisfy him: he used to say that, if he was to be
a blackguard, he should like to be a fine blackguard, and how can you be
a fine blackguard if you know nothing but what can be known by any fool
that can pay for it?

Several years after the death of his father, Gildea, living a life of
considerable enjoyment between the pleasures of the countries and the
capitals of Europe, began to perceive that, after all, his talisman
was not omnipotent: it could not lay, it could only distance, that
ancient spectre which he now for the first time learned to face, if
not to dread, Satiety. At this point, however, Fortune, whose child he
seemed, came to the rescue: he fell in love. The best definition of
love is, perhaps, the care of someone else more than yourself, and (the
passionate would add) than anything. Gildea, then, did indeed fall in
love; but as his care for himself or for anything was not very great,
it cannot be said that he fell in love deeply. But Fortune, having
given him a spell with which to once more distance the ancient spectre,
now deserted him. The lady he loved did not love him in return: her
friendship—and friendship from so sweet and passionate a nature as hers
was of a somewhat intense character, partaking more of the warm sunlight
than the clear moonlight—her friendship she eagerly gave to him, but her
love was, past recall, given to someone else. On the day on which he
first realized this, Gildea, who had hoped otherwise, left England in
his little yacht the “Petrel,” alone. He had intended visiting the east
with her, returning by Naples, Rome, and Paris, with many sweet years,
nomadic or otherwise, in the radiant future. Now he was quite careless
where he went: for the first time in his life he knew what it was to feel
miserable. The loss of this woman was a loss from himself. He felt a void
in his soul, in his future. “And yet,” he used to tell himself, “she was
not ‘the twin soul that halved my own:’ we should not have made perfect
lovers, passionate, deep, abiding! None the less do I—or did I—long for
her. She is the most beautiful soul I have yet seen, or probably shall
ever see. Who would not straightway go and sell all that he had to
possess her?—and willingly chance the rest!”

A violent storm caught the “Petrel” as she was about halfway down the Bay
of Biscay, and hurried her past Gibraltar. When Gildea perceived this,
and was asked by his skipper if they should put back, he kept silence for
a moment. Then, looking up with an amused smile, said:

“No, Barry. We’ll go straight on to Madeira for provisions—from thence to
St. Helena, and then double the Cape and make for Australia.”

Gildea had not been to Australia: it was one of the few places in the
world to which he had not been. He might, he thought now, as well go
there as anywhere. Several things in Australia interested him, and this
was enough reason to make him, in his present state, care to go.

One bright, showery november afternoon, then, the “Petrel” passed Port
Phillip Heads: was piloted up the harbour to Port Melbourne pier, and
Gildea disembarked. He knew one person in Melbourne, and only one,
Charles Maddock. Maddock, and his father before him, had been friends
of the Gildea family. Maddock was some fifteen years older than Gildea,
whom he had known well as a boy at Katharinasbury, he himself at that
time being in the midst of his brilliant scholastic career at Cambridge.
Almost immediately after his ordination, Maddock came out to a high
ecclesiastical position in Australia. It had been the wish of his life to
work in one of the Pacific Colonies, and now his wish was fulfilled. The
appointment of one so young to the post he had at first held, had caused
a little murmuring both at home and in the Colony, it being known that
he was possessed of the highest influence; but the murmuring had soon
passed into pleasant greeting, and was now swelled to a regular chorus
of applause from friends, foes, and indifferent alike. Maddock had great
charm of manner: he was a more or less refined scholar, yet was not
lacking in that spiritual robustness which goes so far to make up what
is called a personality. It would not be too much to say that he was the
most popular man in the colony. Society delighted in the gentleman: the
outer world in the man, and both were right, for (here was the secret!)
he sympathized with both.

Gildea on his arrival took up his abode at an hotel until he saw rooms
that pleased him, and began, after his fashion, to examine the city
and its inhabitants. He went everywhere and saw everything, happy to
find that his _curiositas_ was not after all dead in him. Pleasure, in
the sense of _living_, is in Melbourne but, what Tennyson says of the
pleasure of London, “gross mud-honey,” and had not much attraction to
one who had been through the best specimens thereof in London, Paris,
New York, and Vienna. Gildea, however, if he did not go through it here,
mingled with it as an amused half-spectator half-actor, seeking out
its meaning as regards this dawning civilization which was interesting
him just at present. He fell in with Sydney Medwin, a squatter’s son
and ex-Cambridge undergraduate, whom he had known by repute as an
inter-university runner and would-be rake, and they spent some pleasant
days together. Medwin’s father wished him to take to station work, but
Medwin, having tasted the “gross mud-honey” of London, Paris, and the
Continent generally, was doggedly determined to do no such thing.

“Damn it all,” he said once in his half-acute way to Gildea, “there’s
quite enough money made already in the family, and now it’s time to spend
it. If my governor had wanted me to look after sheep, he shouldn’t have
sent me to Europe.”

Europe was to Medwin—to Medwin held down by his inexorable “governor”
to an allowance and a place in the home establishment—a sort of far-off
beautiful dream which had once to a certain extent been his and, he
feared, would never be his again. His life was reckless: he was knowingly
doing his best to spoil a fine constitution by his excesses, and looked
forward to death within ten or fifteen years with stupid stoicism.

After a little Gildea thought that he would like to see something of
colonial society, social and intellectual, and presented himself to
Maddock. Maddock knew the Medwins well, and even Sydney Medwin who, in
his unreflective way, had a great respect for him.

“The governor,” Medwin said once to Gildea, “the governor has ruined
my life! I had an ambition—I was _ambitious_; yes, I was _ambitious_!
But I had to keep it dark! I can’t argue about it, you know: I haven’t
thought for years, and now I can’t. But if Christianity’s good enough for
Maddock, it’s good enough for me. I believe in Maddock.”

Accordingly, whenever Maddock was to be met at the Medwins’, Sydney
Medwin was to be seen listening attentively to everything the Doctor
said, trying to think, trying to understand, the look of intelligence
varying on his face with the look of puzzlement.

“A fuddled intelligence,” said Gildea once, smiling and laughing; “now
he’ll be off and get drunk with one of his girls at Dicks’.” (Dicks’
was a private hotel where “the set,” as Medwin and his friends called
themselves, often met for the purposes of recreation.)

Maddock was very pleased to meet Gildea again, and during the next month
they saw much of each other. Gildea mingled with the Colonial society
as he had mingled with the outer world, but with less interest. The
Colonial outer world is at any rate original: it does not imitate, it
_is_. Colonial society, on the other hand, imitates and imitates badly.
It is a case of the new wine in the old bottles. The young people wish
to break away from all the old social convenances and bien-séances: they
have almost a contempt for the old people; but the old people rule, and
their rule is as yet too strong to be openly disobeyed. The young people,
therefore, lack social self-reliance: they have no distinctive “style”
of their own as in America. “Indeed,” as Medwin used to say, “no one
_has_ any style out here, except the people at Government House.—And
they,” he would add, admiringly, “look down upon us all as louts.” The
young people, then, feel their ideas of happiness to be frail, immature:
pleasure is not, as in the European capitals, provided for them; they
must provide it for themselves. Pleasure, however, is their aim, and
pleasure, so soon as they rule in their turn, they will have. The
question is whether this pleasure is to be “mud-honey”—“mud-honey” with
its grossness drained somewhat, but still “mud-honey”—or whether that
wonderful modern production which we call Culture is going to intervene
and complicate matters.

Gildea soon wearied of a society in such a painful state of transition.
Having arrived at these conclusions on its tendencies, or what he took
to be its tendencies, the painfulness of it began to afflict him. At the
same time his interest in the problem of this small social hot-house did
not, somewhat to his surprise, show signs of leaving him.

One evening, at a large ball, he had been dancing and talking with a
singularly bright and intelligent girl, who had pleased him by herself
expressing her consciousness of this state of social transition of
theirs, and ascribing the true reasons for it. They sat out several
dances together, he enjoying her talk as that of a clever child, she with
her woman’s vanity pleased to be monopolizing the most distinguished
man in the room, and also glad of his mental appreciation of her. He
half lay in a low chair beside her, looking at her with smiling eyes and
smiling lips, amused. She was a little excited, just enough to give extra
brilliance to her words and acts. She was not speaking to him alone: she
was aware of the audience of guests, all of whom, she felt, were noticing
her, and some catching parts of the conversation. He, who read her soul
as if it were transparent, became more and more amused as she proceeded,
and by an occasional movement helped her out with the impression he
saw she wished to give her friends, namely, that he was more or less
entranced by her. The thought of taking her to Paris and introducing her
to its society, of watching her intense capacities of social pleasure
expanding there in their natural atmosphere, occurred to him and pleased
him. He had arrived at that spiritual state when much of our pleasure is
in watching the pleasure of other people.

“Well,” he said at last, “and do you not find yourself lonely here,
with all these wonderful ideas of yours, Miss Shepherd? All the other
Melbourne young ladies do not, surely, participate in them?”

She was not quite sure for a moment whether he was mocking at her or not;
but, looking at his face, decided in the negative.

“Yes,” she said, “I _am_ lonely—rather. The other girls want to see
things. They want to go to Europe—London, Paris, and all that. But they
say it’s such a bother, and they’ve no memory. They don’t know _what_
they want: they only know that they don’t want what they’ve got.—But
I—,” she added, turning to him, and catching her lower lip lightly with
her pretty visible teeth, one hand on her knee closing slightly.

“But you?”

“_I_ want to—_live_!”

A pause.

“Ah,” he said, “that means that some day you will want to die.”

“I daresay! But I shall have lived _first_!—This Melbourne is just waking
up. I wish, O I wish I had not come into it till it was awake!”

“You would like to go to Paris, then?”

“Paris!” (She stopped breathing.)—“O that,” she said, looking at him
again, “is simply heaven!”

“How do you know that, Miss Shepherd?”

“Oh, I have read it! I have read all Alphonse Daudet’s novels, and a lot
of Balzac’s.”

As Gildea strolled through the warm night streets, smoking a cigar, he
thought of her again for a moment, and laughed to himself.

“The one Parisienne I have met out of Paris,” he said to himself, “She is
of the tribe of the fine steel-pearl mangeuses who rend life with their
dear little white teeth for the pleasure of rending. She should have been
born in a concierge’s lodge, with a future in ermine—and the Morgue.
And yet she is better than the mere mangeuse: she has intelligence. She
has to thank Australia for that. For a month, or even two, she would
be supportable—but the “Petrel” would take three to get her to Naples,
perhaps, and it would be more trouble to loose her and let her go then
than now.”

He had been strolling about the streets for more than an hour. He was not
quite sure where he was. He stopped for a moment to look about him. A
short well-moulded figure in a close dress and a poke bonnet passed him
and turned down a narrow street ten or twelve yards ahead. He threw away
his cigar.

“Janet,” he said to himself, “sweet child! And she recognized me and went

Janet, a Salvation Army “lass,” going down into the Little Bourke Street
slums had indeed recognised him. The figure of a man, in a light overcoat
open in front showing that he was in evening dress, was remarkable
enough, to have attracted anyone’s attention there. She had looked up for
a moment: caught a glimpse of his face and, with a wild throbbing heart
and quivering lips, hurried by, and on, and away. Gildea’s investigations
into the social condition of the place had made him many unexpected
friends. Here was one who was something more than a friend, a lover, and
he knew it.

“I am sick of it,” he said to himself, almost bitterly, “I will go away.
I want change.”

At about five o’clock that morning Sir Horace Gildea was rowed aboard
of the “Petrel,” which passed out of the Heads a little after one, and
turned to the east, making for Sydney.


It was about eleven o’clock in the morning of a day late in april. The
sun shone with bright warmth, a fresh breeze blowing in from the sea.
Great deep masses of cloud, luminous-white or here and there shaded with
that slaty black which denotes incipient rain, were moving in the blue
vault of the heavens. Gildea was descending the steps of the entrance to
St. Mary’s Cathedral, accompanied by a young man of about his own age. At
the foot of the steps they both paused.

“Well,” said Gildea with a look, “You will be at my rooms in time for
lunch, you say?”

The other nodded, and, in a few moments, saluting one another with a
movement of the hand, they parted. The young man went with a quick firm
step in the direction of St. James’ Church, while Gildea sauntered across
the road into the Domain. He was thinking of the young man, Francis
Fitzgerald, a young Jesuit whom he had met years ago at a seaside place
in the south of France, and who, as he said, for the sake of his health,
had come out on a voyage to Australia.

“It is wonderful,” said Gildea to himself, “how quickly and thoroughly
the religious bodies are waking up to the intellectual necessities of the
time. Romans—Anglicans—Lutherans, and even Calvinists are sucking lustily
at the two paps of the Modern Spirit which we call Science and Culture.
It is the instinct of self-preservation. If they do not suck they will
starve. But ah, how many of us are cross-tempered enough to prefer to
starve rather than imbibe the milk of a cross-tempered mother!” He looked
up with a fine smile, suddenly realizing his humour of thought. “I am
quite serious,” he said to himself, the smile deepening and broadening,
lighting up his face with amusement, “which shows how adaptive I am.
Really now, I listened to Fitzgerald’s hopes and beliefs in the future
of Romanism with quite as much interest as if I were a Romanist myself.
I can quite conceive of myself taking very considerable pains to forward
a cause in which somebody else believed. This surely was the central
idea of my attachment to Olivia Bruce? I used to think I should be
quite satisfied to live the life of a poet in that of my poetess? So
far, this power of living your own life in the life of one you love has
been a female gift. And indeed I have often thought that I should have
been better as a woman. I can quite imagine myself as Lady Bellfield
or d’Israeli’s delightful Berengaria; whereas now, I am but an aimless
wanderer on the face of an aimless planet, a pilgrim without a shrine.”

He walked on half-thoughtful half-amused, till he had crossed the Domain
and found himself opposite the Picture Gallery and the Botanical Gardens.
He entered the gardens, and was proceeding down one of the walks when,
some fifteen yards before him, he beheld a well-known figure. It was
Maddock, Maddock standing at the side of the walk, observing a plant
through his pince-nez with serene interest. Gildea came up to him with

“Ah, Doctor,” he said, “you here! This is a surprise!”

They shook hands: greeted one another, and exchanged health notes both of
themselves and Mrs. Maddock, as they went on down the walk together, the
Doctor rubbing his glasses with his silk handkerchief and keeping step.

“The truth is, my dear fellow,” he said, his head up and moving from side
to side as he drew into himself the enjoyment of the fine morning air
and scene, “the truth is, I am here for a holiday—or rather, for half
a holiday. Sydney is a favourite place of mine.—But,” he added in his
humorous confidential way, “you know I don’t care for the _people_! They
are not in earnest enough! I would sooner, I believe, have an earnest
atheist than a lukewarm orthodox man. Isn’t it your friend Renan who says
somewhere, that the atheist has an idea of things, a quite inadequate
idea, it is true, but still an idea, whereas ‘the average sensual man’
has none?—or something to that effect.”

“Yes,” said Gildea, “he says so; and he adds elsewhere that ‘atheism is
one sense the grossest of anthropomorphisms. The atheist sees justly
that God does not act in this world after the manner of man; hence
he concludes that he does not exist; he would believe if he beheld a
miracle—in other words, if God acted as a finite force with a determinate
object in view.’”

“That is good,” said Maddock, “I did not give Renan credit for saying
such a thing.”

“No,” said Gildea, “you have never got much further in Biblical criticism
than the Germans. Strauss satisfies you as the great _Against_, and poor
Westcott as the gigantic _For_!”

They both laughed.

“Come, come,” said Maddock, “you must not poke fun at me!”

“It is impossible,” Gildea answered, “to poke fun at an ecclesiastic who
calls Heine ‘a great poet and brilliant philosopher.’”

“Ah, you have been reading my last polemic, I see?—Yes, you _must_ have
been reading it; for no newspaper man would ever think of quoting an
opinion like that.”

“I have been reading it with admiration and wonder: admiration at its
excellence as polemical work, and wonder that you should take the
trouble to castigate a production which you yourself declare to be, as a
contribution to theological knowledge, utterly useless.”

“Yes, but did I not explain myself? The book is fundamentally vicious.
It confirms the shallow heterodox in their heterodoxy, the shallow
orthodox in their orthodoxy. It gives forth light to no one and darkness
to everyone. Progress in foolishness and stupidity, that is all that it
signalises; the foolishness of ‘go-aheadism,’ the stupidity of re-action.
I have no patience with a man of presumable intelligence who could write
such a book.”

“But do you not think that your attack on it will only, by bringing it
into public notice, increase its powers of mischief?”

“I hope not. I hope that I have sufficiently laid bare its gross
ignorance of the subject of which it treats to bring it into that
contempt whose fruit is oblivion.”

“In England—in London or in any country or capital where there is a
large intellectual life—this might be so. But am I not right, Doctor,
in believing that this Victorian Melbourne of yours is a place where
pure intellectual life scarcely exists? You have the mass of intelligent
money-makers who care, or who do not care, for things (I will not say
religious but) sectarian. Then there are those who care for things
political; but where will you find any number of men who aim at making
their life the purely intellectual life? They are all partizans here.
When, therefore, you attack a Rationalist like Judge Parker, all the
Rationalists rally round him, just as the orthodox rally round you; and
the result is, as the _Argus_ says, a boxing match, wherein the great
thing is to at all price shout down their man and shout up your own.
Truth turns away in disgust from such an exhibition of blind deaf bawling
partizanary. These men are not of the sort that are open to reason: you
cannot lay bare to such as these the gross ignorance or perfect science
of their champion; they will only hiss or applaud as you blame or praise
him. I may be wrong: my observation of your so-called intelligent public,
is, you know, necessarily but small.”

Maddock kept silence with rumpled brows. At last:

“I do not know,” he said, “that you are not, after all, to a large degree
right. We are very narrow here. A thing done in the street is done in the
city, and indeed in the whole country!”

“And am I not right in thinking that the only two native subjects,
which are capable of arousing public interest and curiosity here, are
those which appeal to the two portions of your mass of intelligent
money-makers—things pertaining to business, and things sectarian?”

The Doctor suddenly regained his humour.

“Are,” he said, the deep humorous smile playing about his mouth, “are all
the fashionable young men who come out here in yachts as acute observers
as you, Sir Horace?—But I object to your word sectarian: you should say
religious. I am quite ready to admit that (to put it as a Melbourne
printer put it to me the other day) the only subject that will pay for
book-printing here is Religion, and Religion, alas, in its polemical
aspect. But I cannot look upon this, as you seem to do, as a great
misfortune. I—I ... well, I may say _candidly_, that I rather _like_ a
bit of polemics now and then, and the shouts of the men round the ropes
do not altogether disgust me, as of course” (his eyebrows went up) “they
ought to do! No, I do not look upon that purely intellectual life of
yours as by any means the ideal for us to aim at. It smacks too much of
dilettantism for _me_!”

Gildea smiled.

“Dear Doctor,” he said, “we all know that you prefer a climate where
the sky is not always a cloudless vault of blue insipidity. The sound
and feel of a buffeting wind is pleasant to you. As I said just now,
you prefer Strauss to Renan, and the good secular Saint Matthew Arnold
finds small favour in your eyes. Now too that you are taking to science,
I expect every day to hear you tell us Cuvier was a greater man than
Darwin, and that Huxley is an impudent young amphioxus that has no place
beside the dignity of our dear old behemoth, Owen.”

“Now I really won’t let you poke fun at me,” said the Doctor, “I really
won’t! The next thing is, that you will be saying something rude about
Professor Mosley and his “Ruling Ideas in Early Ages,” and scoffing at my
idea of having some of his essays reproduced in our _Daily Telegraph_.”

“Oh no, Doctor, I will not do that. Even Mosley’s essays are better than
the sermons of the local ecclesiastics.”

“You are very impudent,” said Maddock, his face all beaming, “to call me
a local ecclesiastic! I shall have to get you to write a pamphlet on my
review of ‘Religionless Religion,’ so as to be able to denounce you _ex

“Well, I should very much like to do so, only ... you know my cowardice:
I cannot write——”

“Even letters to your best friends, to explain that you have only gone
off to sea at an hour’s notice, and are not, as they anxiously expected,
drowned, or murdered and secreted in some hole in the slums.”

“I prostrated myself in apology to Mrs. Maddock.”

“Yes, in over a week! As for Dr. Maddock, of course such a casual
acquaintance as _he_ could not expect.... Ah, you are a quite too
eccentric young man, Sir Horace! I wish you were well married, with a
definite aim in life. Someday one of your wild freaks will end you, and
then, what, what will have been the result of those great abilities with
which God has gifted you?—Now,” proceeded the Doctor, “this is not an
extract from the _Daily Telegraph_ sermon corner, but only the expression
of the affectionate anxiety of one who hopes you will allow him to call
himself your true friend.”

Gildea kept silence for a moment. Talk of this sort only served to show
him how completely his real inner view of things was unknown to his
companion, and so the idea of making an answer did not occur to him: he
felt how useless it would be. Then he genially thanked the Doctor for his
friendship and its kind wishes, and added lightly:

“You ask what will be the result of, as you are pleased to say, those
great abilities with which God has gifted me. The result (you perceive
it) will be nothing; but, Doctor, what, let me ask you, in a hundred
years will be the result of those great abilities with which God has
gifted _you_? In the hundred and first year we shall start equal; and
I, who have not a belief in a personal God and a personal immortality
as _you_ have, find the whole matter, I confess, rather absurd! This
would not probably have been so always. If I had lived in the days when
action indeed contained the highest stakes of life, I should have played
for them; but, as it is, the highest stakes now belong to the thinker,
the writer, and I—I cannot write ... even letters! I, like all my
contemporaries, am more or less under the sad dominion of the perception
of, what Leopardi calls, the ‘infinita vanità del tutto,’ but, unlike the
best of them, I have no care for the only immortality we have left, the
immortality of Art or Science. I think of the hundred, or thousand, or
million and first year, and find myself smiling.”

Gildea was soliloquising, Maddock forgotten. He had, then, after all,
drifted into making the answer, the idea of making which had, by reason
of its clear uselessness, not occurred to him; and yet he had not made
it to Maddock, but to himself. Maddock, indeed, did not altogether
understand it, but the feeling of it, the belief that inspired it, he
felt and hastened to reply to. He laid his hand gently on Gildea’s arm,
bringing him to a pause, and said simply:


They had come down as far as Farm Cove—skirted it, turning off along Lady
Macquarie’s Walk—then mounted up onto the drive, and, having passed by
the Chair, were now standing on the brow of the slope with an open view
of Garden Island (Clark Island being hidden), the harbour, and the woody
hills behind it. Great deep masses of cloud, luminous-white or here and
there shaded with that slaty black which denotes incipient rain, were
moving in the blue vault of the heavens. Light and shade lay everywhere
in alternate streaks or patches. One round piece of water to the left
was like a burnished blazing mirror of steel. Other parts were blue,
gray, or dark, reflecting the cloud-colours above them. The anchored
ships rose and fell gently, their flags fluttering. A steamer came
stealing out of one of the harbour arms into the open. The only sounds
of life were the far-off hammer-strokes of the builders, the occasional
cry of the white fleeting sea-gulls, the striking of a ship’s bells, the
cricket humming at their feet.

“And,” Maddock said, in his deep voice of earnestness, “in the face of
such a scene as this—the free glory of nature so great and so glad,
the wonderful toil and effort and happiness of mankind—you will say to
yourself: ‘_There is no soul in me, for there is no God to give it!_’
Ah, my dear Sir Horace, you surprise and grieve me! Are you not—you, oh
heavens, _you_!—at heart an atheist? are you not guilty of that grossest
of anthropomorphisms yourself?”

Gildea smiled, a fine sweet smile of sadness that made even the strong
steady heart of his companion turn faint for a moment and sick. There was
something so absolutely inevitably hopeless, as it seemed to Maddock, in
this strange soul that he saw before him, now for the first time laid
bare. Here was a patient for which the physician felt he had no power
of healing or even alleviation. What view of christian faith and hope
and love did not this strange soul know? Maddock, for the first time in
his life, felt himself in the presence of one, the breadth and depth
and height of whose spiritual experience encompassed him like an ocean.
The words of remonstrance died on his lips: exhortation lay lifeless in
him: silence and sorrow possessed him. He turned away with a heavy sigh,
a sigh which was the unconscious acknowledgment to himself that life
and death, time and eternity, man and God, could indeed be read in two
diametrically different ways. For the first time in his life he realized
the truth of “the Everlasting No” in a human soul greater than his own.

They walked on together for a little in silence. Then Gildea said as
simply and naturally as if nothing unusual had happened:

“Now, Doctor, tell me will you come and have lunch with me? Mrs. Maddock,
you say, has shaken you off for the sake of a long morning with Lady
Whitfield, and why should you not retort on her spinster’s déjeuner with
a bachelor’s lunch? I ought to have thought of it before.”

The Doctor again suddenly regained his humour.

“Thank you,” he said, “I shall be charmed.”

“Nay,” said Gildea, smiling, “but I must bid you pause a moment, aimless
dreamer that I am, and tell you who you will meet there. Perhaps you will
want your assent back again.”

“Speak on,” said Maddock, “and, provided it is not some one who will
object to my smoking afterwards, I ... I don’t think I shall!”

“The guests, then, are three in number. Firstly, James Alcock, who, they
tell me, is the most secular and scientific member of all the Australian
Legislative Assemblies——”

“Go on,” said Maddock.

“Doctor,” Gildea said, “he reads Haeckel and swears by no other prophet
of Science. Pause before it is too late. They say too that he sleeps
every saturday and sunday with Mill “On Liberty” under his pillow, and
all Spencer’s “Principles” strewed about the counterpane. He knew my
father years ago in England, and his heart warms towards me as towards an
incipient disciple.”


“Secondly, Francis Fitzgerald, a young man learned with all the learning
of the Egyptians; a pilgrim and devotee at that simple west-England
shrine which holds the Catholic pearl beyond all price, John Henry
Newman; a scholar of the Parisian seminaries; a pupil of the inner Jesuit


“Frank Hawkesbury, the young Australian poet; a Socialist, delighting in
Trades-Unions, Religious Revivals (the Salvation Army is a hobby of his),
and Secular Organizations with a grand impartiality! Nay, it is even
whispered that he had dealings with Holden and the Irish and Continental
Nihilists two years ago in London. Our friend Mrs. Medwin almost fainted
when Sydney Medwin asked her if she would care to know him.”

“I have looked through one of the young man’s books of poems,” Maddock
said, serenely, “and rather liked them. He is in earnest. Your lunch
will be amusing.—It smacks to me,” he added, with a touch of grimness
in his humour, “a little of those shows one sees now and then at the
street-corners. They call them, I believe, happy families.”

Gildea laughed.

“Yes, Doctor,” he said, “but what if the animals should take to fighting?
Alas, then, for the canaries and the mice, who will be worried and eaten
by the dogs and the cats.”

“Which are who, or who are which?”

“Let us say that Alcock is a dog, and Fitzgerald a canary.”

“Then _you_, I suppose, are the mouse and _I_ the cat? But what is your
young Australian poet to be? You have left him out.”

“Oh, he will be a rabbit. You will see that he can burrow. It is the
forte of Socialists, burrowing.—Now,” he proceeded, “we must go this way
if we are to get to my rooms in time. And as we go, will you let me first
express some tentative thoughts of mine, and then ask you a few questions
about your friend Mr. Parker and yourself?”

“Ask on,” said Maddock, getting into step, “and I will do my best to
answer you.”


“It is about this little book of his,” Gildea said, with slow
reflectiveness, “‘Religionless Religion.’ I found it interesting.”

“Indeed?” said Maddock, “As interesting as the production of your dear
continental sceptics?”

“Well now,” Gildea said, in a tone that implied a certain amount of
candour, “to tell, what the French call, the true truth, I was struck
by several things both in it and in your reply to it. I thought that it
would have been difficult to have found a more typical example of the
average intelligent secular view of theological Christianity than that of
our good Judge.”

“I agree with you, and that was one of the reasons that made me decide to
attack it. It is typical.”

“And, therefore, to anyone who is, though only as an amateur, an observer
of things contemporary, it is interesting. Its very deficiencies will be
instructive. Well, what I want you to do, Doctor, if you will be so good,
is to help me with your superior knowledge of the things treated of to
arrive at the spiritual condition of the treater. Perhaps you will not
find the attempt too uninteresting, or....” He paused with a movement of

Maddock, who had a faint suspicion that Gildea was mocking, half grumbled
out humorously:

“Go on, then! Qualify yourself as a psychologist, my dear fellow, and
then we will have a plunge into social metaphysics. It is refreshing in a
country where they are all partizans, and Matthew Arnold and the purely
intellectual life are not appreciated. _Sic itur ad astra._ In the name
of all the lucidities, forward!”

“In the first place, then, we have to notice, have we not, that the
little book is polemical, which, at any rate to the amateur observer of
things contemporary, detracts somewhat from its historical value; for,
after all, is not a polemist, to a large extent a man who defends the
delusions of his friends against the delusions of his enemies, and leaves
Truth, like the proverbial pounds, to look after herself? But, if we
always remember to take off a percentage for the polemics, we need not
miss what it is that the polemist really means and feels?”

“Πως γαρ οὐ?” said Maddock.

“And the more easily, as our Parker is in earnest about, what he calls,
‘his most serious and difficult task.’”

“Forensic flourishes!”

“—In earnest as far as suits the disposition of a theistic polemist.”

“—Microscopically, that is to say. The lawyer’s, and especially the
successful lawyer’s, habit of thought tends towards earnestness as the
sparks fly downwards.”

“For the average lawyer’s habit of thought is perhaps the most typical
example of the average intelligent secular view of things. Is it not
the final fruit of what is called common-sense, that is to say of the
sense of common people? Our good Judge more than once speaks of himself
and his audience as “persons of ordinary common-sense,” as opposed to
“metaphysicians,” and especially “ecclesiastical metaphysicians.” He
wants clear solid statements which his mind can see, and as it were,
touch and handle. He scoffs at all statements other than these, looking
upon them as at bottom sophistical. It follows that, when he comes to
criticise the Bible, he claims the right to criticise it, not only with
the same spirit, but with the same manner, as he would criticise any
other book. He will not only look at it straight, fearlessly, logically,
but he will demand of its statements that they be clear and solid, that
they bear the ordinary interpretation of ordinary statements. He will
apply the same principles of examination to Moses and Jesus as he would
do to Blackstone or Chitty. And all the secular persons of ordinary
common-sense cry out: ‘Hear, hear!’”

“With the Judge,” said Maddock, “a metaphysician is a man who examines
the Bible by the aid of principles other than those of one who is
ignorant of all contemporary history save that which the Bible gives him.”

“The consequence of which is, that he is capable of such a statement as,
that ‘without question early Christianity was far more free from paganism
and from the taint of superstition than the Christianity of our own
time,’ and others of a like force.”

“He has no notion whatever of the philosophy of history—of, what I call,
the development of divine Truth.”

“And yet he is contradictory enough, while asserting the degradation
of the Christian ideal, to lay much stress on the development of
Divine truth in a civilization that has, till comparatively lately,
been Christianic. Yes, he sees the development of divine Truth, but
he does not understand the forms which that development has taken in
Christianity. The Trinity—the Atonement—the Deity of Christ—are to him
‘mere crude superstitions which disfigure and obscure pure and true
religion.’ It never seems to have occurred to him that, although these
doctrines may be empty formulæ to him, they were and are passionate
realities to others.”

“That is very true.”

“He will talk with the same ignorance of what he would call Jesuolatry
as a Protestant will of what he calls Mariolatry, neither he nor the
Protestant understanding any more of a deep spiritual truth than its
cut-and-dried dogmatical letter.” The Doctor assented, though with a
movement of slight qualification.

“We agree at starting, then, that his criticism as that of an historical
Bible student does not exist. The authorities he quotes are, as you point
out in your Reply, ludicrous. They culminate in his poor little some
‘celebrated Unitarian minister’ or other, than whom the habit of thought
of the legal Biblical critic can, it is to be hoped, no further go! He
is too, we agree, careless and superficial even in his own style, but
we must not lay too much stress on individual cases of this in the face
of his request for ‘indulgence’ for his ‘doubtless many imperfections

“When a man speaks publicly of such a grave matter as religion,” said
Maddock, “he should _not_ be careless, he should _not_ be superficial! We
have a right to demand of those who make explosives, that they, at any
rate, do not smoke in the magazine.”

“True; but, if we all got our deserts, who, you know, should
escape whipping? Certainly not the producers of orthodox religious
literature.”—(The Doctor, after a pause, assented as before).—“Well,
we will proceed further against our good Judge, and say that his
appreciation of what is, as he says, ‘good and ennobling’ is ludicrously
inadequate. What can be said of a man who seriously speaks of Jesus,
‘when, in the garden of Gethsemane, he went apart and prayed, three
times over, the same prayer to God, within a short period,’—of Jesus
thus ‘_doing that which he told his disciples not to do—“use not vain_
repetitions, _as the heathen do,” for the reason that your heavenly
Father knoweth what things ye have need of_ before _ye_ ask _Him_.’
Habemus confitentem asinum! We can only burst out laughing: a reply to
such a statement is impossible! The lawyer’s habit of thought is at its
apogee, and (as Heine says) ‘_Gegen die Dummheit kämpfen wir Götter
selbst vergebens._’—Against stupidity the very gods themselves struggle
in vain.” The Doctor assented smiling.

“And statements similar to this are not scarce here. Our good Judge,
then, has not, it is clear, much experience of the spiritual life, of
those who live in the spirit. The ‘sudden conversion of Paul,’ for
instance, strikes him as one of the (it is supposed) ‘improbabilities so
forcible that no sane _thinking_ man or woman can accept’ the inspiration
of the Scriptures which relate them. Now, any one who knows anything
of human nature other than that of ‘persons of ordinary common-sense,’
knows that such ‘sudden conversions’ are not only not improbable, but
passably frequent. In some cases, as in that of Staniforth, quoted by
Arnold in his ‘St. Paul and Protestantism,’ the circumstances approach
so closely to those of Paul’s that we are enabled to assign to them a
definite place in the science of psychology. Nor are our good Judge’s
‘errors,’ as you say, exhausted yet. We have still to bring against him
the charge of, what Celsus calls, κουφοτης, and Arnold translates ‘want
of intellectual seriousness.’ So confused and incoherent is his knowledge
of the real position that the secular biblical critic takes up, that he
absolutely calls the position taken up by the orthodox biblical critic
(that is to say, biblical _critics_ who are orthodox; as, for instance,
you yourself, my dear Doctor): he absolutely calls this position
critically ‘untenable,’ not perceiving that it is his own only differing
in degree!—This is simply appalling! The κουφοτης of the Secularists is
not a whit better, after all, than that of the Christians!”

“Yes,” said Maddock, disregarding the last remark, “but then you must
remember that the Judge ‘does not intend to resort to any process of
subtle argument, nor to make any display of scholastic knowledge, nor to
indulge in learned disquisitions.’ He merely writes ‘popular, clear, and
simple’ nonsense for ‘the doubter who is trying to grope his way to the
light, but cannot; to the Atheist who believes in nothing, neither in a
Supreme Power, nor in a future life.’ And your secular ingratitude to
him, Sir Horace, strikes me, I must confess, as keener-toothed than the
winter wind of orthodoxy!”

“Doctor,” said Sir Horace, “you are poking fun at me! But I, who am, as
Shelley said of himself ‘rather serious’—I proceed in my examination,
whose sole confirmation as truth I find in your words or gestures of
approval. You will, I hope, forgive me for any repetition I may make of
your own criticism, as a master should a humble disciple? It is only a
proof of attention and admiration.”

“Go on,” said Maddock, “mocker!”

“All these faults, then, which we have remarked in our good Judge—his
polemically; his ignorance of the grammar (or, perhaps, as your Reply
says, the alphabet) of historical criticism; his ludicrously inadequate
conception of the good and the ennobling, of the spiritual calibre of
such men as, for instance, St. Paul; his superficial acquaintance with
the data of the subject of which it is treating; and, finally, his
κουφοτης, his want of intellectual seriousness—all these faults, are we
not agreed, are the faults of the average intelligent secular view, in
its negative consideration of Christian Theology? The question that now
arises is, has this view nothing but faults?—has it no excellencies?
Does there remain, after the attack on it of so admirable a theological
polemist as Dr. Maddock is, no residuum of real and vital truth?
Let us try and see.—To begin with, did we not find that, despite a
contradiction, our good Judge perceived the reality of, what you so
finely call, the development of divine Truth?—

    “_Yet I doubt not thro’ the ages one increasing purpose runs,_
    _and the thoughts of men are widened with the process of the suns._”

“No,” said Maddock, “I cannot grant him even that! A faint glimmering of
a thing cannot be called a perception. Consider this very contradiction
of his! Consider, again, his unspeakably gross and ignorant treatment of
the Old Testament which he brands with blood-thirstiness and impurity. He
works by a rule of thumb. The higher spiritual mathematics are mere names
to him. He is—I must declare—too much of a blockhead to ever rise beyond
the spiritual Rule of Three.”

“I agree to a large extent, dear Doctor; but you will admit, I think,
that even the Rule of Three is not without its use, without its real and
vital truth?”

“Not when the schoolboy cannot use it properly! I have pointed out, for
example, that, in attacking the doctrine of the Divine Sonship, he only
attacks a dummy doctrine of his own. Your schoolboy does not know which
of the three is his third quantity! He wants, then, to be whipped and put
onto the dunce’s stool—to encourage the others!” The Doctor spoke for the
first time with a little testiness.

“Be it so,” Gildea said, “our good Judge is not to be allowed more than a
faint glimmering of that fine theory of ours of the world’s unseen τελος.
The ‘divine far-off event’ is not more than a fog-lamp to him, which he
will not, then, mistake for the moon, or its light for moonshine. But
that he is too much of a blockhead to even rise beyond the spiritual
rule of thumb, the spiritual Rule of Three, seems to me, I confess, dear
Doctor ... well, a rather strong statement. The average intelligent
secular view of things is, is it not, less pedantic, less given to
accepting the conventional value of things as their true value, than the
average intelligent orthodox view? Are not, indeed, these tears a most
convincing proof of it? Is it not just because our good Judge refuses,
for instance, to accept the orthodox view of Jesus and of God that he
wrote his little book, and you replied to it? Now the orthodox view of
God is, if you will let me say so, excessively pedantic: it adheres to
the expressions of a belief in which in its heart it does _not_ believe
at all. Parker’s criticism on this is excellent. ‘It is impossible,’ he
says, ‘to lay down any definition of God which will even satisfy man’s
conception of God.’ What, then, is the good, he asks, of holding up this
‘magnified non-natural man’ of yours, and asking me to fall down and
worship it? Common-sense revolts against such an idea and common-sense,
dear Doctor, is, will you not agree, for once right?”

“You surprise me, Sir Horace,” said Maddock. “Are you too going to spend
your time and trouble in demolishing the survivals of verbal inspiration?”

“Certainly _not_! I am only trying to see wherein common-sense is a safe
guide as a biblical critic. We are agreed, then,—you, that is, the Judge
and I—that we must unite in opposing many of ‘the statements which,’ as
the Judge says, ‘the orthodox are pleased to call evidence.’ Because, for
instance (to continue with the Judge’s own words), ‘the fallible man Paul
says in a letter to Timothy that the Scriptures were inspired, it does
not make them so.’ We are agreed here?”

“We are agreed here,” said Maddock, with deliberation.

“Or again, to take another instance, when Matthew and Luke, for whatever
purpose, strive in their genealogical tables ‘to give Jesus’ (I always
use the Judge’s words) ‘a divine origin, conceived of a virgin by the
Holy Ghost, and yet to connect him with David by making Joseph the
natural father of Jesus.’—are we not here faced by two ideas which ‘no
one short of an ecclesiastical metaphysician,’ or, as you say, a ‘very
bad critic,’ would or could ‘reconcile?’—We are still agreed, of course.”

“We are still agreed—to a certain extent.”

“Nay, let us go further, then, and chime in with the Judge to the effect
that ‘on far stronger evidence (if evidence it can be called) than that
which supports’—let us say, almost all—‘of the events or miracles’ of
the Scriptures, ‘the Roman Catholic Church propound to the world their
miracles,’ which ‘the Protestant section of Christianity reject as

“Proceed,” said Maddock.

“Nay, let us go further still, and notice how we no longer look on the
Genesis account of the Creation as more than allegory, of the Flood as
being strictly accurate; of the tower of Babel as, again, more than
allegory, and so on in many other similar cases. And how in the same way
we do not look upon the statements of Christ, and after him of the author
of the ‘Revelations,’ of the close approach of the Apocalypse, as literal
but only figurative. ‘The statement of Jesus,’ as the Judge puts it, ‘as
to his coming again before the then generation have passed away does not
mean that he will so come: ‘generation’ being merely used figuratively,
but when he does come he is still to come in the clouds of heaven, and
with great glory, sounds of trumpets, rushings of winds, and mourning
of tribes; for’ (Gildea paused)—‘all this has not yet been falsified by
the event.’ This is, I think, undoubtedly the conclusion at which common
sense arrives, but common sense is of course wrong.”

“Common-sense is wrong,” said Maddock.

“Common-sense too, as exemplified in this its typical blockhead
who cannot ever rise beyond the spiritual Rule of thumb and Three;
common-sense observes of the development of divine Truth, as exemplified
in the Christian theology of yesterday and to-day, that its ‘golden
rule apparently is to adopt those interpretations’ of its Scriptures
‘which best satisfy the exigency of the particular position of the time
being,’ and thus we have no further guarantee that the God of to-day
will be the God of to-morrow than that the God of yesterday is certainly
not the God of to-day. ‘Heaven forgive me,’ exclaims ‘that great poet
and brilliant philosopher,’ Heine, ‘but I often feel as if the Mosaic
God were but a reflected image of Moses himself.’ And we all remember
with what contempt Taine speaks of this God of Christianity, revised
and amended to suit the latest edition of scientific and historical
discovery—rooted up out of the earth and momentary intercourse with
man—driven out of the clouds and the occasional interposition of his
strong right hand—spied and telescoped from the radiant bowers of the
stars, and finally lodged out of sight, and all but out of mind, in the
eternal infinitudes of Time and Space! After all, then, may not our good
Judge have had, not of course a perception, but a faint glimmering, of
sapience, when he spoke of the position taken up by the orthodox biblical
criticism as critically ‘not only untenable, but absolutely suicidal?’
The thought is, as we agreed before, simply appalling. Spirits of Butler,
Paley, Neander, Weiss, Westcott, Lightfoot, and many another mortal or
immortal immortal, rise and thunder ‘_No!_’ When this exponent of the
average secular intelligence declares that contemporary Theology is an
impossible compromise between Reason and Absurdity; that the Protestant
is quite inconsistent who with one face rejects ‘the events or miracles
propounded by the Roman Catholic Church because they involve a violation
or suspension of unvarying natural laws; because such things do not
happen, and because _reason_ refuses to give credence to them,’ and with
another face accepts as truth the sojourn of Jonah in the belly of some
sea-monster (at present conveniently extinct, even to the bones), or the
communications of, what Gordon describes as,

                      ‘that duffer at walls,
    the talkative roadster of Balaam:—’

rise, I say, and in Olympian accents demonstrate to him and his benighted
audience, that these were but links ‘in the development of divine Truth,’
and that ‘one lesson at a time of this difficult kind was enough, and as
history shows more than enough, for human weakness.’”

“You are a treacherous and malicious young man,” said Maddock, laughing
in spite of himself, “and have no right to quote my words in such an
irreverent and grotesque manner!”

“It is my orthodox ingratitude,” said Gildea, “—And yet,” he added
suddenly, with a complete change of tone and manner, “in less than fifty
years polemics like these will be looked upon as childish, and, those who
spent their life and energy upon them, as we now look on the mediæval
Schoolmen. It is a sad thought.”

Maddock was a little puzzled at these swift chameleon changes in his

“And now,” said Gildea, looking up with yet another change of tone and
manner, “and now we have done with the negative side of the good Judge’s
criticism and can turn to the affirmative.—But that,” he added, “must, I
am afraid, be after lunch—if you will, Doctor?”

“I will,” said Maddock, “and you shall not then find me so passive, for
your treachery and malice are now quite laid bare to me.”

Gildea smiled.

“But not my loyalty and admiration? Believe me, Doctor, that, if it were
only for this one remark of yours, I could never fail in my interest and
gratitude to you. ‘Our blackfellows,’ you say, ‘had no punishment for
offences against their elementary ideas of purity but spearing. _And
it was infinitely better that they should spear for impurity than lose
their first step towards a higher life._’ ... But here we are,” he said,
“This is the house. Fitzgerald and Hawkesbury have to leave us soon
after lunch. Mrs. Medwin and her niece, Miss Medwin, are coming later
to make tea for me, and then we are going out for a sail in the yacht.
Mr. Medwin is thinking of a legislative career, and so Alcock is to be
cultivated. Can you come with us? You know how pleased it would make us

The Doctor explained that he was due at his hotel at half-past three to
meet Mrs. Maddock, and both he and Gildea expressed their due regrets at
his not being able to make one of the party on the yacht.


Gildea led the way upstairs and ushered Maddock into the sitting-room. It
was in reality two rooms joined together by a large folding-door, which
was now thrown open and draped with four looped-up curtains, two of some
dark-red material behind two of delicately-wrought muslin. The two rooms
were of the whole depth of the house, the large bay-windows, open and
with a glass-door in the middle of them open also, at one end looking
out over the city, at the other over the harbour. A grass-slope, and a
garden with flower-beds and rustling trees, spread all round and down to
the water’s edge; while, a little way out, the “Petrel” rode at peaceful
anchorage, her boat behind her. Maddock was for the moment so taken up
with the beauty of the place within and without—the room with all its
harmonies of form and colour, the garden and harbour scene—that he did
not notice that someone was standing, half hidden by the curtains, in
the next room on the hearth-rug. Then Gildea passed through and greeted
this person whom he brought forward and introduced to Maddock as Mr.

Hawkesbury was a small but well-made man with a tendency to muscular
leanness. His face was striking and interesting, and betrayed a
strongly-defined individuality. At one moment he might have been called
handsome, and his manner frank, free, and open: at another his features
took such a contracted intensified look, and his movements were so
nervously acute, that the whole man seemed to have suffered distortion.
It seemed as if he were suddenly seized by some keen pain, spiritual and
physical, and was being racked by it. When Gildea entered, there was
for a moment a trace of this latter manner in Hawkesbury: his sensitive
pride found something antagonistic in, what seemed to him, the consummate
luxury which surrounded him and even in the consummate culture of its
owner: he was almost asking himself what right this man had to spend so
much money and care in decorating a few rooms for a few months, this
man whose life was so radically selfish? Hawkesbury’s was, he might
have said, the feeling of one who was a socialist and worker by intense
conviction, finding himself opposed to one who was an aristocrat and
hedonist by the mere chance of birth and fortune. But, when Gildea met
and greeted him with the frank sweet unconscious cordiality of an equal
whose acquaintance is pleasant, the dark look passed from Hawkesbury’s
face and he gave himself up to the simple pleasure of the situation.
His unexpected introduction to Maddock, who represented to him the more
or less sumptuous aristocrat of religion, for a moment, it is true,
threatened to bring back the evil spirit to him; but Maddock, with his
fine social tact, almost divining the state of affairs, was equally
frank, sweet, unconscious and cordial in his manner, and Hawkesbury was
at his ease.

The three men stood talking together, Maddock in the middle, in the
bay-window that looked out over the harbour.

“Why, Sir Horace,” said Maddock, “you will never be able to get away from
this enchanting place again! Are you sure you do not intend to make it
into a home? You did not honour your Melbourne rooms with such care—such
choice of furniture, and....” (He raised his arm and outspread hand,
smiling humorously).

“‘Man delights not me,’” answered Gildea, “‘No, nor woman neither, though
by your smiling you seem to say so.’” The smile broke out on Hawkesbury’s
face too. It was soothing and very pleasant to find these two talking in
his presence of such an intimate matter as that alluded to here: he was
not accustomed, in the company of, what in Australia and even England
goes by the name of, ladies and gentlemen to this complete absence of
social and individual constraint.

Then Edgar, Gildea’s valet, ushered in someone else, Mr. Fitzgerald, and
there was a movement and introductions between Maddock, Hawkesbury, and
the new-comer, the three being left alone for a moment while Gildea was
giving some directions to Edgar about domestic arrangements.

Maddock and Fitzgerald fell almost immediately into a conversation,
Hawkesbury playing the part of silent member. The Doctor was interested
in finding out what the impressions of a cultured Roman Catholic were
of Australia and more particularly of Victoria and New South Wales.
He asked a few questions, the answer to which, he thought, would show
him whether Fitzgerald had observed things with care and sympathy, and
was answered with a gentle readiness that pleased and satisfied him.
The two men felt themselves to a certain extent on common ground, and,
Fitzgerald touching incidentally on the education question, they began to
parallelise each other’s views with cordiality.

“We quite recognise,” said Fitzgerald, “all the difficulties of
the case—the danger of the unfair influence of catholic teaching
over protestant children, or vice versa, just as each happens to be
stronger in the particular place and school. But we would accept this
danger—accept it, even supposing we were the losers by it—rather than
have the present state of things continue. As our Archbishop said only
the other day at Leichardt: ‘Besides the faculties of intellect and of
reason, there are certain passions of the soul,’ and to develop the
former and wholly neglect the latter is to send a boy out into the world
with _only one eye_. You have prepared him for the temporary business of
life, and unfitted him for the glorious service of eternity: you have
given his ship fine sails, and forgotten to add a rudder! He may be an
acute man of business, but he will be a bad citizen; for, in taking away
from him his sense of religion, you will take away from him his sense of
morality, of honesty, of integrity! We can, at the present stage, see for
Australia no future save that of corruption—a corrupt political life, a
corrupt national life, the unlimited worship of Mammon!”

“I agree with you to a large extent,” said Maddock, “and we all know
that, practically speaking, the talk about ‘religious education at home’
is mere verbiage. If the education of a child is secular, his spiritual
lungs, so to speak, end in being able to inhale no other air and thrive
on it.”

“And,” Fitzgerald said, “the education _is_ secular! Every effort is
being made to drive the voluntary schools out of the field. Their state
aid here in New South Wales is withdrawn: in England it is reduced to
a pittance and hedged about with annoyance. And this, although the
educational reports, drawn up by a secular commission, show that, at
any rate the catholic schools educate on the average both better and
more cheaply than the state-schools do! We only ask for fair play, and
now it has come to this pass that we cannot get it! All over England
the protestant voluntary schools are failing and disappearing. But we,
we Catholics, who cannot, as Protestants do, console ourselves with the
reflection that the atmosphere of the state-schools, if secular, will be
tempered by that of our own beliefs—we _will_ not fail and disappear! We
are the poorest of all religious bodies in England; but I will venture
to say, that not a single case can be found of a catholic school which
has surrendered itself up, as these others did, into the hands of the
Secularists. Our educating priests and laymen have to suffer much
privation: I know, shall I say hundreds, of them who deny themselves all
but the bare necessities of life; but—_we stand our ground_!... You see,”
he added smiling gently, “we Catholics cannot labour under any delusion
here. We recognize that this is a stupendous crisis in the world’s
history. We will have no compromise and secular tempering of the wind to
the shorn Christian. We will stand to our guns, and, if we must perish,
perish there!”

Maddock was impressed, and so even was Hawkesbury. This man’s enthusiasm
was so quiet, so clear, and yet so radiant. Gildea returned and joined

“We were speaking of the popular education,” said Fitzgerald, turning to
him, “and I would persuade Dr. Maddock that his cause and ours are here

“I need no persuading,” said Maddock, “I have for some time been
persuading _myself_!”

“And yet,” Fitzgerald put in gently, “the alliance between us and you
seems farther off than between us and the Dissenters.”

“And that, I think,” Gildea said, “is because you have more in common.
You are afraid of one another. In the one case, you know that the
frontier of your alliance will be observed, in the other there is a
chance that it may not. At present the most dangerous opponents of
Catholicism in England are, what they call, the High Churchmen. The
Church of England is a compromise between Catholicism and Protestantism;
hence its adaptiveness, hence its strength! It more nearly, in my
opinion, approaches ideal Christianity than any other sect in existence.
It unites the Faith, the Poetry, of Catholicism, with the Freedom, the
Prose, of Protestantism.”

“We thank you,” said Maddock.

“Logically speaking, however,” added Gildea, “it is an absurdity.”

They all began to laugh.

“Ah,” said Maddock, “I was right when, even while thanking you, Sir
Horace, I thought to myself: _Timeo Danaos, et dona ferentes_.”

“The Christianity of the Future,” Gildea proceeded gravely, “lies, I
believe, in two transformations—in Catholicism learning that its kingdom
is not of this world, that it no longer requires a Pope, a Rome, as a
Palladium whereby it may fight; in a word, in learning the lesson of
Protestantism, of Freedom: and in Protestantism doing the converse, and
absorbing into itself the catholic Faith, the catholic Poetry!”

“And what are the Secularists going to do in your Future?” asked
Hawkesbury, “are Messrs. Arnold and Huxley to be put up on a shelf in
your spiritual Museum, in two large spirit bottles, labelled respectively
‘Culture’ and ‘Science?’”

“Culture,” answered Gildea, “is, after all, but Secular Catholicism, just
as Science is but Secular Protestantism. They too will each learn their
lesson of the other.”

“Humph!” said Maddock, who again had a faint suspicion that Gildea was
mocking, “and so, after all, Sir Horace is an optimist.”

“We do not lay stress,” Fitzgerald said gently, “on the temporal power
of the Holy Father. As Sir Horace implied, this temporal power was once
the one shining light in a chaotic world, and it was well that it should
be set on a hill. But now the light is diffusing itself. It is our
wish that, as the Vatican Œcumenical Council declared: ‘Intelligence,
Knowledge, and Wisdom may grow and perfect themselves—as much with the
mass as with individuals, with one man as with the whole church!’ We are
no foes to Freedom. What we _are_ foes to, is Anarchy! At the Reformation
you gave the right of deciding on the deepest religious questions to
every ignorant man that chose to discuss them, and the seamless robe of
Christianity was rent into a hundred pieces! Look at all these miserable
little protestant sects and sub-sects, Plymouth Brethren, Primitive
Methodists, Ana-baptists, and I know not what noisy, ignorant fanatics.
At the Revolution, you did the same for social questions, and what is
the result? The Dynamiters of Russia, of Germany, of Ireland, initiated
by what you, Dr. Maddock, so well call ‘such gentleness as was revealed
in the diabolical deeds of the Commune,’—to say nothing of those of the
Reign of Terror.”

Maddock half-deprecated, half-approved by a gesture and an inarticulate

“Yes, but,” said Hawkesbury with the thrilled voice of suppressed
passion, “has not history justified the Reformation? and how can you say
that it will not justify the Revolution? These, as it seems to me, are
the two fiery portals which lead to Religious and Social Liberty. But you
are right to depreciate them: they knew nothing of the poetry of Culture
and Catholicism, or of the prose of Protestantism and Science. They were
volcanic eruptions of the People. Heine says well, when he talks of ‘the
divine brutality’ of Luther, and we do not shrink from the same phrase
for Hugo or Whitman. Sir Horace has painted us a Future which is indeed
heavenly. It is thronged with sweet-singing angels, and there is not a
shadow in its perfect light. But what has become of the _men_, and what,
O what, has become of the _devils_? They have no place in this Future.
You do not care for the People, I say, except as you care for your dog
which, if he is quiet and docile, shall have a kennel and the bones and
scraps from your table; or, if he is surly, shall be chained up; or, if
he goes mad, shall be shot! Ah believe me, gentlemen, the People _has_
a place in the Future, for the People, and none other, _is_ the Future!
‘_All for the modern_,’ cries Whitman, ‘_all for the average man of
to-day_.’ But you—you only care for the Upper and the Middle-class. Your
scheme of civilization does not reach to the People. The Upper-class is
exhausted: it needs invigorating. ‘_Cultivate the Middle-class_,’ is the
cry, ‘_Give us Higher Education for the Middle-class!_’ This is the whole
social teaching of the best representative man you have, Matthew Arnold.
Now we, we Socialists as you call us, _love_ the People, and (you will
pardon me) _hate_ the Middle-class;—the dispossessed, the sufferers,
_not_ the possessors, the usurpers! The People is the Prodigal Son. What
sympathy have we, then, with a man like Arnold who has devoted himself
to the edification of the Elder Brother? Arnold says once that he has
evolved that perfect style of his which we know so well—that style which
encloses a minimum of ideas in a maximum of catch-words—or, as he likes
to call it, ‘plain popular exposition’—for the especial benefit of the
British Philistine, the divine Middle-class, who otherwise could not be
got to read him! He would have done better, perhaps, if he had not turned
to the setting, but to the rising sun. The People are the masters of the
Future, and the People’s great men will be the great men of the Future.”

There was a pause. Then:

“There is much truth in what Mr. Hawkesbury says,” says Gildea, “Just at
present we think too much of the ultimate Culture of the Middle-class
and too little of that of the People. But the fact is, that the question
of the Middle-class is pressing: they are, as you say, Hawkesbury, the
possessors; they are the Present! And this, I think, is why men like
Arnold, who believe that, in the organization of the Present, lies
the only hope of the success of the Future, are so anxious about it.
It is a case, as he believes, of ‘Culture or Anarchy’—Culture now or
Anarchy then. And Carlyle, a disciple of whom Mr. Hawkesbury has, in
the admirable Preface to his second book of Poems, declared himself to
be; Carlyle too, who laid much stress on what he calls ‘the radical
element’ in himself, yet mocks at ‘Mill and Co.’ as he says, in whom he
declares the opposite element was ‘so miserably lacking.’ Carlyle had no
respect for ‘Rousseau fanaticisms,’ even in a man like Mazzini: he saw
that, if the Middle-class were purblind and slow, the Socialists were
only purblind and quick. Supposing that we grant that the Dynamiters
of Russia are justified in meeting an absolutely dense despotism with
violence, what excuse but impatience can we find for the Dynamiters of
Ireland? The first have no means of free agitation, the second have every
means. Ireland has been wronged: no one denies it; and never, in the
whole course of her history, has England shown such alacrity as she is
doing now to right the wrong; never, not even for herself. But the Irish
Socialists are impatient: their cry is for everything to-day, this very
hour! To grant it them would be the greatest unkindness possible. Well,
they too have taken to dynamite as a hypochondriac takes to opium. The
Russian Nihilists are noble people, none nobler, but they taught fools
and knaves an appalling lesson when they inaugurated the reign of terror
in Petersburg. At the present moment, as Heine clearly foresaw, the
Civilization, not of Europe, but of the whole world is in danger.”

“You speak well, Sir Horace,” said Maddock, “and express my opinions
better than I could myself, but—_Timeo_.”

He, Gildea, and Fitzgerald smiled. Hawkesbury was grave. There was a
pause. Then:

“I think,” he said, “that you do the People wrong. These extreme
Socialists, the Nihilists as they are called, are not from the People,
but from the Middle-class. They are, as a rule, men who have received the
best education of the time, and who yet find themselves unrecognized and
unrewarded. Most of them are journalists. It would astonish you, I think,
to see the amount of really first-rate talent that is being flogged to
death in the shafts of the modern Press. These men cannot work in shops
and banks: the narrow material life has been made impossible to them.
The only opening for the life they would—nay, that they _must_ live, or
perish, is that of Literature. Literature caters for the Middle-class,
the ruling class. These men, then, are the slaves of the great caterers,
the newspaper editors. One of the most thorough Socialists I ever knew,
Holden, in fact, was on the regular staff of the English _Spectator_,
the organ of the enlightened portion of the Middle-class; and there, as
he said to me, he went as near Socialism as he could for threepence!
(Threepence is the price of the paper.) This same man wrote, too,
political articles for a distinguished radical politician, and I have
seen the proof-sheets of these hacked and mauled by the patron to
suit the palates of the Radicals. It was this man who once seriously
contemplated dropping a bomb in the House of Lords, to show that herd of
hereditary liars, as he put it, that there was such a thing as justice
in the world! He loved the People: he hated the Middle-class, but the
People cared nothing for him. It is, then, I think, a mistake to lay the
paternity of Nihilism to the charge of any but the over-fed tyrannous

“What you say,” Maddock said slowly and courteously, “is very interesting
and instructive, Mr. Hawkesbury, and I perceive that the ground which
you, and I think I may say Mr. Fitzgerald,” (Fitzgerald smiled and
bowed), “and myself have in common is large enough to admit of our
working—at any rate not in opposition to one another. Is not our mutual
object the enlightenment of the unintelligent mass of the People and of
the Middle-class? I am, I am sure, grateful to you, sir, for the manner
in which you have brought this home to me. I always felt that underneath
all our differences—I mean, the differences of our beliefs, religious
or social—we had a common ground, the advancement of a really good and
true Civilization, and now, I think, I know this. He renders us a great
service who makes our feelings self-conscious, who turns them into the
articulate thought of words.”

There was a slight pause.

“And now,” said Gildea, in his half-amused way, “we will, if you please,
go down to lunch. Mr. Alcock particularly asked me not to wait for him,
and we have waited, it seems unconsciously, for over half-an-hour.”

They went down together into the dining-room, chatting lightly and


The dining-room was the corresponding room on the ground story to the
sitting-room up above. It was quite as well furnished, but in a different
style. A fine rather than an exquisite form of beauty had been sought
after. It was a saying of Gildea’s that a dining-room ought to give you
an impression somewhat similar to that of a beach-brake in spring: the
architecture and furniture should have clear outlines, the colours should
be clear, the lights should be clear. All massiveness and duskiness was
to be avoided. A meal ought to be a repast, not a feast: we should rise
pleasantly satisfied, not dully satiated. In a sitting-room, on the other
hand, the sworn abode of the sweet and delicate talk and music of women,
just as the dining-room was that of the serene discussions of men, there
should be something of the lush luxuriance in shape and colour of the
midsummer woods, knights and ladies and all the figures of romance and
fairy-tale passing together. But such an arrangement of rooms as this,
he would say with his bright half-mocking smile, was at present like a
damsel of the Middle Ages suddenly awakened in the dull derisive streets
of London or Manchester. This will only come to pass in that wonderful
Future, when we have all learned that Beauty and Truth are synonyms, and
Keats has statues and altars like Sophokles of old.

Considerable time, wealth and trouble had been spent on this house.
Sydney and Melbourne had been ransacked for beautiful things worthy
of Gildea’s ideas of “the nest,” as he called it to himself, that he
desired; for this was indeed one, and not the least remarkable, of his
freaks. It had been aroused in this fashion. One afternoon, sauntering
across a road in the Domain, he had almost been run over by someone
riding a splendid bay horse. Looking up, with a fine touch of anger, he
had perceived that it was a lady, who was looking down at him with a
look, he suddenly felt, so precisely his own that, the ludicrous aspect
of the thing coming upon him, he smiled. She too, at once following his
change of feeling, smiled, and then in a moment, with a slight courteous
movement of hand and body, had passed. It had all taken place in a few
seconds. Her face and form made up between them, he thought, the most
beautiful woman he had ever seen, and he had not seen few so-called
whether in Europe or elsewhere. Beauty in women was, according to Gildea,
a thing which was not _in reality_ to be seen in the present world,
implying, as it did, perfection of form and perfection of spirit, καλον
κἀγαθον. The Athens of Perikles had produced female beauty; in the
face and form of the Venus of Milo the highest physical and spiritual
perfection of the time is apparent. Florence too, in such a woman as
Vittoria Colonna, had produced female beauty, and the Renascence had
incarnated it in a Marie Stuart; but, so far, our Modernity was not ripe
for it. Lovely female faces it, as all times, had in abundance, but these
faces knew nothing of spiritual perfection: they knew nothing of life,
they were not beautiful. And the female faces that _did_ know of life,
the faces of women like George Sand, Charlotte Bronte, George Eliot,
were quite wanting in physical perfection. They imply mental passion,
the struggle of pain: they have not reached to the serene pleasure of
spiritual sovereignty. No, Beauty, καλον κἀγαθον, is to be a produce of
the Future when Modernity has passed through the pangs of its travail
and, in the bright light of health and youthfulness, “grows in wisdom
and stature” to the perfect self.—But this face that he had seen for a
moment, was, he thought, really beautiful.

A few yards from him a man was standing looking back at the rider passing
along under the trees. Gildea came to him, and asked him courteously if
he happened to know who the lady was?

“No,” said the man, “I don’t know who she is, but I often see her.”

And on this incident Gildea had founded a freak which had for some time
amused him. He intended to see this woman again, and, if he was correct
in his supposition (which he used amusedly to doubt to himself) that
she was some phenomenal anticipation of the Future, to possess her. He
set about choosing and furnishing a house, therefore, which should, as
far as possible, be worthy of such an individual, and much amusement
it occasionally afforded him. A private enquiry-office was meantime
seeking her out; and, about a month ago, Gildea to his surprise had
been informed that she was, beyond doubt, a Miss Medwin, niece of the
well-known squatter, english, eccentric even to the extent of riding
about and shooting in man’s clothes on one of Mr. Medwin’s stations in
New South Wales, and, moreover, strongly suspected of having had, and
of still having, an intrigue with a Mr. Frank Hawkesbury, a writer and
man of uncertain means, in Melbourne. Gildea laughed much on receiving
this unasked-for report, (He had just by accident made the acquaintance
of Hawkesbury), and his interest in his freak somewhat revived; but his
all but conviction that he was incorrect in his view of Miss Medwin (if
it were indeed she), prevented him from having any great interest in the
matter or any great anticipations of success. As usual, however, he was
satisfied to find that he had any interest or anticipations at all. He
learned from Mrs. Medwin that she was in a short time coming to Sydney
for a week or so on her road up to one of Mr. Medwin’s New South Wales
stations to which she had not been for years, and would be pleased to
see him. A few days ago, then, she and Miss Medwin had arrived, and were
waiting for Mr. Medwin who was detained by business in Melbourne. Hence
Gildea’s invitation to Mrs. Medwin and her niece, to come and make tea
for him and go for a sail in the “Petrel.”

The party arranged itself round the table, Maddock at one end, Gildea at
the other, an empty place on Gildea’s right hand for Alcock, Hawkesbury
on his left with Fitzgerald next to him. Maddock, as before, could not
help observing with admiration the beautiful room in which they were
sitting. Hawkesbury, however, following out a train of thought suggested
by his own last words, sat serious, looking at the table-cloth.

The lunch began. Gildea and Fitzgerald could both, when they pleased,
excel in that graceful sweetness of manner which is supposed to be the
peculiar gift of women. They pleased now. The talk flowed lightly and
pleasantly, and soon returned to, what seemed to be to them all, the most
interesting topic—the People. Fitzgerald spoke of the far greater ease
and leisure of the People here than in England, and that led on to a
consideration of the question of Labour here.

“Carlyle declared long ago,” said Hawkesbury suddenly, “that the great
question of the time was no other than the organization of Labour. Well,
Labour is at last organizing. The consequence is that, as Mr. Fitzgerald
remarked, there is greater ease and leisure among the People, not only
here in Australia where Labour is comparatively scarce, but even in
England where it is plentiful.—The question here, however,” he added,
“shows signs of complication. The employers are to form—nay, have already
formed—a union: ‘The Victorian Employers’ Union.’ The only wonder is
that it is in Victoria and not in England that this idea has first been
adopted. In Trades-Unionism in England, let me say it at once, there have
been many abuses; but, let me hasten to add, not nearly so many abuses as
there were under the old despotism of Capital. Trades-Unionism, which so
few people seem to understand, originally meant the combination of many
oppressed small units against a great oppressing unit. _Now_ it means
more: it means the determined effort of the People after happiness.”

“That is very true, I think,” said Gildea, “The People, ever since the
deception practised upon them by the compromise Reform Bill of ’32, have
been slowly learning to organize themselves and to rely on themselves
alone. Such a fact soon makes itself apparent. There is not a single
considerable political measure since ’32 which has not a socialistic

Hawkesbury acknowledged Gildea’s remark, and proceeded:

“The People, and by the People I mean of course the masses, is everywhere
realizing that there is something better worth living for than frantic
competition and the scramble for wealth. Trades-Unionism, then, is
the sworn foe of all this. I am not speaking either for or against
Trades-Unionism: I am simply stating what it _wants_, what it _is_! The
Trades-hall delegates, in the late conference anent the Bootmakers’
strike in Melbourne, refused to let a bootmaker work for more than eight
hours a day, although, by so doing, he might better himself, and by not
so doing might keep himself for ever a mere journeyman. ‘Further argument
with men of such a way of thinking,’ says Mr. Bruce Smith, the chief
mover of the ‘Victorian Employers’ Union,’ ‘further argument seemed
useless.’ And it was indeed as it seemed; for these men were of opinion
that if, in the frantic competition and scramble for wealth, one or two
journeymen _did_ rise and become rich, hundreds and thousands would have
to lead lives which would not stand too favourable a comparison with
those of dogs. ‘Therefore,’ the delegates would say, ‘we will check this
frantic competition and scramble for wealth, and we will even be so
wicked as to sacrifice the one or two possible journeymen who might rise
and become rich, for the sake of the actual hundreds and thousands whose
lives otherwise would not stand too favourable a comparison with those
of dogs.’ Well, and what will be the end of this new phase of the great
battle of Capital _versus_ Labour on which we seem to be now entering
here? Let me not be thought a terrorist, if I remark, what is indeed
patent to all, that, in a country with a franchise like ours, Labour, if
driven into a corner and confronted by Capital triumphantly brandishing
its sword of ‘Frantic-competition-and-the-scramble-for-wealth—Labour,
I say, might make things excessively uncomfortable for the community
in general and Capital in particular. I am not hinting at mobs and
sticks and stones. I am merely stating a fact that is patent to all.
Our good friends the Landed-proprietors, videlicet the squatters, have
experienced in Victoria and elsewhere—are indeed now experiencing even in
Queensland[13]—the undoubted benefits of a little judicious legislation.
Might not someone suggest to the ‘Victorian Employers’ Union’ and Mr.
Bruce Smith, who seem to have such quaint notions of what Trades-Unionism
really wants and is, that the same fate may possibly be in store for our
other good friends, the Capitalists?”

“It is a pity,” said Gildea smiling, “that we have not a Capitalist here
to answer you. But, I think, I know what one of them, Mr. Alcock, would
say. He would say that the great law of Nature is this very frantic
struggle which you deprecate, and that, if you attempt to put a check
on it, you will only end by first arresting and then destroying all
progress. He would oppose the interference of organized Labour quite as
much as of organized public opinion, that is to say the State. He would
of course recognize all the evils of the frantic struggle, but he would
say that it yet contained the great ascending and progressive power of
Nature, it was yet capable of Evolution; whereas the artificial state of
popular leisure and ease contains the great de-scending and retrogressive
power of Nature, Dissolution.—But here,” he said, “at the very nick of
time, he comes himself.”

Edgar, who had just left them, returned ushering in Alcock, who came
forward with somewhat off-hand apologies to shake hands with Gildea. He
was then introduced to Maddock and shook hands with him, compromising
the matter, as he thought, with the others by a bow and an expression
of his pleasure at making their acquaintance. He sat down in his place
and, having told Edgar what he chose to eat, was ready for a few moments’
talk before setting somewhat vigorously to work on the victuals. Gildea
explained to him the conversational context, and what he himself had
ventured to say in the person of the typical scientific capitalist.

“Well,” Alcock said, with a half-pleased half-amused look on his face,
when Gildea had finished, “I will observe that, on the whole, you didn’t
put my sentiments so badly, Sir Horace.—I am opposed to all state
interference,” he declared, turning to Maddock, “It doesn’t pay in the
long run; it enervates people! Look at this New South Wales here. They
can’t put a bridge across a creek now, without petitioning government for
assistance! In England a half-dozen men or so would have got together and
settled the matter themselves. And they want more state interference in
Victoria! Why, it’ll drain out all their independence, and energy; and,
in twenty years, they’ll be as lazy and lackadaisical as they are here in
New South Wales! Competition’s the law of Nature.” By this time Alcock’s
mouth was full, and he was beginning to enjoy the delicate food and
wines, for he was hungry and thirsty. There was a pause.

“True,” said Fitzgerald, gently breaking it, “but does not Mr. Alcock
too think, that it is just where the law of Nature ends that the law of
Humanity begins? Surely this is the essential position of Christianity,
that it says to the brutality of Nature: ‘Thus far shalt thou go, and no

“You can’t,” answered Alcock with his mouth full, too intent on the
victuals to be more explicit, “You can’t interfere—impunity—great

“Here, then,” said Fitzgerald who ate little and drank less, turning
to Hawkesbury, “_we_ are at one, I think, as opposed to the pure

“I do not believe,” Hawkesbury said, “and I do not think any Socialist
believes, in carrying the initiative of the individual to the extent
that Herbert Spencer would like. But we are not in favour of state
interference. We want to nationalize things, the land, the unearned
increment, the great public enterprises, but we include in this term the
State also. The State at present means the tool of the Middle-class,
worked by Capital and the Land Interest. This arrangement partakes
too much of the nature of a political joint-stock company to please

“And you think,” asked Gildea, his hand on his wine glass, looking
at Hawkesbury, “you think that when the People wins, as it of course
ultimately will win, the control of things, that it will not work the
State in its own interest, just as the Aristocracy did and as the
Middle-class does?”

“You know,” Hawkesbury said, “I _believe_ in the People! The People is
the only unselfish part of society. Their one desire is for justice and
mercy; and, when they could not get it themselves, they have always died
readily for those who, they believed, wished to give it them. Herein lies
the secret of all great popular devotions—from that of Christ to that of

“I,” said Alcock, “do _not_ believe in the People, as you call them,
and their unselfishness has not yet come under my notice. The People,
like everyone else, are led by what they believe to be their interests,
their immediate interests, and our great effort should be, by giving them
a good sound practical education, to get them to see that their true
interest lies in e-volution and not in re-volution. Let us have a fair
chance for everybody, and let the best men win.”

“Yes,” said Hawkesbury, with suppressed eagerness, “but the trouble is
that, in this so-called free competition of yours, the best _don’t_
win! In Nature the best win, I agree; but Civilization has complicating
clauses that modify and all but change, what you rightly call, her great
law—the struggle for existence and survival of the fittest.”

“I do not see that,” said Alcock, returning to his victuals which he had
left for a few moments.

“I will give you an instance,” said Hawkesbury, “A, B, and C are three
men who start as beggars in the market of free competition. A has the
best wits, and A accordingly wins, and makes a fortune. Good: we applaud!
Then A, B, and C all die, leaving sons D, E, and F, the best-witted
of whom does not happen to be D, A’s son, but E, the son of B. Does E
therefore win and make a fortune, and D sink down to his proper level
with F? Not a bit of it! D has not only his own second-rate powers to
help him: he has also the wealth which he inherits from his father.
E, then, has no chance against him: the second-rate man with wealth
overwhelms the first-rate man with beggary. What are the consequences,
generally speaking? Why, that, instead of the best surviving, the second
or third or fourth or fifth-best survive, and the market is drugged with
successful mediocrity. Here, I think, is the delusion under which Herbert
Spencer’s social philosophy labours: he does not see that Civilization,
as we know it at present, is not a natural but an artificial state, and
that therefore the laws which hold good in Nature by no means necessarily
hold good in Civilization. Look at the bees or ants, whose Civilization
is a natural and not, as ours is, an artificial one: do _they_ encourage
free competition with its inevitable concomitants of wealth and power
accumulated in the hands of a few to the prejudice of the community? Not
so. To each is assigned an equal, if varying, share in the economy of
the community. With them work has its duty, and, as for idleness, it is
not possible. But what duty has the successful business man, except to
his own success? what duty has the wealthy aristocrat, except to his own
pleasure?” There was a slight pause.

“It won’t _work_,” said Alcock, his eyes a little opened, sitting
considering this young man with sudden interest. (Alcock had so far
thought that, in the present company, nothing would be acceptable save,
what he called, a popular exposition of his own views)—“Believe me,”
he added with gravity to Hawkesbury, “I have gone through all this at
length, repeatedly, and with care, and I am convinced that, with many
drawbacks, free competition within and without is the only thing which
will give us a civilization of progress. The real tendency of everything
else, I say, is towards stagnation or retrogression. Free competition
universal, the great problem of which is to be the dominant race will
proceed to settle itself quickly and thoroughly. Until that problem is
settled, we cannot hope for a Civilization worthy of the name. All the
inferior races must be stamped out, all the stagnatory or retrogressive
ideas eliminated, and the best men with the best knowledge left masters
of the situation. It is impossible to foresee what such men may achieve.
We may yet, perhaps, open communications with the planets and even modify
the courses of the stars.”

“Well,” said Fitzgerald smiling, “we have had the Vision of the Future
from the Christian, the Cultured, the Socialistic point of view, and now
we see that Science too has her dreams. I have no objection myself to any
of these Visions which, as I take it, all contain a not inconsiderable
amount of truth. I would only observe that I believe them to be all
impossible solely and individually. The Socialistic Future that would
banish Christ, the Scientific that would also banish God, can no more
exist as, in Mr. Alcock’s phrase, masters of the situation, than the
Future of Christianity that would ignore the glory of our discoveries in
Natural Law, or the Future of Culture that would deny to the People our
highest joy.”

“No,” said Alcock drily, “we don’t want Superstition mixed up with
Religion, _that_ is clear enough.”

“Nor yet,” added Fitzgerald sweetly, “do we want Superstition mixed
up _without_ Religion.” (Alcock, with the look of a man who does not
understand a thing and does not much care to, took a drink at his
champagne, which, it was evident from the new expression on his face,
was to his taste. Fitzgerald proceeded suavely to the table at large and
more particularly to Maddock.) “For, as perhaps Mr. Alcock,” (with a
slight bend of the head to Alcock), “will permit me to say, the purely
scientific view of things, which sees, in the unrestrained application
to civilized life of the brutality of Nature, the undoubted parent of a
Civilization worthy of the name, may be after all, and I believe is, a
great superstition. Is not a superstition a belief in a thing not worthy
of that belief? And is it not, then, a superstition, in calculating the
progress of Humanity, to leave out of all account, as the pure Scientists
seem to me to do, the most distinctive thing in Humanity—Religion.”

“_I_ should say,” observed Alcock, “that _Reason_ is the most distinctive
thing in Humanity.”

“Indeed?” asked Fitzgerald, “You surprise me! Is it not generally
admitted now that the rudiments of Reason, and considerably more than
the rudiments, are to be found in the animals? But I am not aware that
anyone, not even Ernst Haeckel, has discovered in them the rudiments of
Religion. Can we not, then, agree with Max Müller that it is ‘certain
that what makes man man, is that he alone can turn his face to heaven;
certain that he alone yearns for something that neither sense nor reason
can supply?’”

Alcock had the look of a man who feels the prompting of flippancy
and, restraining it, is amused at what his flippancy would have said.
Fitzgerald, perceiving this, answered it:

“Müller,” he proceeded, “in criticising Kant, who is of course the Father
of all the worshippers of Reason, again says finely that ‘he closed the
ancient gates through which man had gazed into Infinity; but, in spite of
himself, he was driven, in his “Criticism of Practical Reason,” to open a
side-door through which to admit the sense of duty, and with it the sense
of the Divine.—This is the vulnerable point in Kant’s philosophy,’ he
goes on, ‘and if philosophy has to explain what is, not what ought to be,
there will be and can be no rest till we admit, which cannot be denied,
that there is in man a third faculty, which I call simply the faculty
of apprehending the Infinite, not only in religion but in all things,
a power independent of sense and reason, a power in a certain sense
contradicted by sense and reason, but yet a very real power, which has
held its own from the beginning of the world, neither sense nor reason
being able to overcome it, while it alone is able to overcome both reason
and sense.’”

“That it has held its own from the beginning of the world,” said Alcock,
“is no proof that it will do so to the end.”

Fitzgerald smiled.

“What you say,” he answered, “makes clear to me, then, that you do not
accept this ‘faculty of apprehending the Infinite,’ and philosophically
make the best of it, but you wish to call it mere childishness or, as you
say, superstition and—‘eliminate’ it! And yet you talk of Religion! What,
may I ask, does a pure Scientist, as you seem to be, Mr. Alcock, _mean_
by Religion?”

“Well,” said Alcock frankly, “I confess that, to me, it means little
more than credulity. I am not, of course, hostile to Religion; on the
contrary, I support it. It helps to keep society together.”

“It will do,” said Hawkesbury, “for the People! Pending the arrival of
that education, which is to teach them the high satisfaction of social
evolution, the masses may amuse themselves with such used-out mummeries
as the Devil, Christ, and God. The People is grateful. It has, it knows,
as much to expect from Science as from Culture.”

Fitzgerald was quite amused.

“Mr. Alcock,” he said, “since you pure Scientists are generally reckoned
as the foes of us Christians, we can ask you to do us no kinder service
than to nail these colours of yours to the mast in the sight of all men.
I do not alone mean your belief that Religion is all but a synonyme for
credulity; but this general conception of things of yours which includes
no further consideration for Religion than elimination. We can have no
doubt of the results. The world will doubtless find in _our_ conception
of things a certain amount of, what Mr. Hawkesbury has called, used-out
mummery (for man’s free-will has ever turned use into abuse), but it will
find also things which savour of the kindly earth and the genial sun;
whereas, if you will let me say so, in _yours_ all that it will find
will be the steel-cold atmosphere of some heatless planet, filled with
the dreary whirr of abstract machinery. Superstition _with_ Religion,
they will say, is better than Superstition _without_. And then, after
they have given you a trial—and a trial they will give you, and such a
great and long trial that we shall be eliminated almost as much as even
you, Mr. Alcock, could wish us to be—then they will come back to us,
and, having been driven by sore anguish of soul to re-discover, as their
Father did, the sense of duty and of the Divine, they will find that this
first step leads inevitably to another, and that to yet another. And,
in the end, all high souls, and after them of course all other souls
(for the wisdom of to-day is the common sense of to-morrow), will see
that their best and truest Father was a man who, passing through all
this before them, has these years stood with clear and radiant faith,
his longing hands held out to all that would take their strong help and
guidance to that place of joy and of peace!”

Alcock, supposing this man to be Jesus and having made it a rule never
in mixed company to speak of that to him, under such circumstances,
embarrassing personage, kept silence, looking at the table-cloth.
Hawkesbury too did not understand the allusion, which even Maddock,
unless he had been warned by Gildea of Fitzgerald’s connection with
Cardinal Newman, might have missed. As it was, Gildea, perceiving and
amused at Alcock’s misunderstanding, was ready to at once dissipate it.

“Newman,” he said, “is indeed the great modern example of a man of high
intellect and all spiritual powers giving, not only, as Heine did,
‘his tribute of admiration,’ but everything he had, ‘to the splendid
consistency of the Roman Catholic doctrine.’ I remember once hearing a
rather able High-churchman say that he could not see, any more after
than before reading the celebrated _Apologia_, why Newman had joined the
Church of Rome: which is to say, that he could not see that, to a certain
type of mind, the only two logical positions for a man of thought to-day
are those of Scientific Atheism or of Catholic Faith.”

“He leaves no place, then,” said Hawkesbury, “for the Theists or the

“The Theists,” answered Gildea, “leave no place for themselves—except
in the spiritual out-houses and the Unitarian chapels. There is not, I
think, in modern times, one man of first, or second, or even third-class
intellectual power that has believed in a personal God and not believed
in a divine Christ. All men of thought are really now divided into two
classes, Christians and Atheists: the first believing in a personal
Christ and a personal God, the second in Law. All other differences
are, as it seems to me, at heart mere divergences of symbolism. We are
accustomed, for instance, to call those who hold that matter produces
spirit Materialists, and those who hold that spirit produces matter
Idealists, and those who hold that matter and spirit are identic and
divine, Pantheists; but really they are all Atheists. There is no
Atheism, no disbelief in a personal God, more intense than that of our
Idealists, Renan, Arnold, Emerson, who never cease, however, to talk of
God and bid us find in Him our only comfort and guide: they are the true
children of Goethe whose conception of God was Humanity in Nature, and of
Religion Humanity in Art.”

“So we Catholics feel,” said Fitzgerald, “and this is, as I have implied,
the great truth which we owe to the life and work of Newman. He has saved
us from any temptation to compromise with Atheism. We are to stand to our
guns, and, if we must perish, perish there!”

“The only thing is,” Gildea answered ruefully, “that no great spiritual
movement, religious or otherwise, was ever yet produced, retained, or
destroyed by the action of logic, and they have all partaken largely of
the nature of compromise. Voltaire and the philosophes sent such a douche
of logic onto Christianity in France that they literally beat it out of
the country, but it came back again. And why? Because it contained the
satisfaction of the demands of one side of Humanity which Logic had not,
and could not have. Well, they compromised the matter, and the result
is, (Dare I declare it, Fitzgerald?), none other than men like the fine
and intellectual ecclesiastics who presided over the education of that
lay priest, as he calls himself, Ernest Renan. History repeats itself.
What Logic tried to do yesterday, Science is trying to do to-day. And,
as you,” (he turned his eyes to Fitzgerald), “foresee, Christianity,
and Religion generally will suffer a defeat and even decapitation, only
to return with processions, ringing of bells and the glad shouts of the
populace. Then the Parliament will shut up all the sunday theatres, and
the skeletons of Professor Huxley and Herbert Spencer will be removed
from the Pantheon at Westminster and lodged in Madame Tussaud’s, and the
land have rest—for the space of forty years!”

“Well,” said Alcock, “you young gentlemen are getting too far head
for steady-going seniors like Dr. Maddock and myself. We will ask
for matches, and smoke a cigar, while you tell us all about our

Cigars, cigarettes, and lights were brought and, with some pleasant small
talk, the party loosened and eased its position at table and physical and
mental state generally.

“Talking of compromise,” said Hawkesbury, taking his cigarette from
his lips and leaning the elbow of the hand that held it on the table,
“between Religion and Logic, or Reason, is not, what is called,
Positivism an attempt to organise such a compromise?”

Gildea began to laugh.

“Ah,” he said, “is not Arnold’s ‘grotesque old french pedant,’ a late
foolish Monsieur Comte, as Carlyle would say, to leave me alone even
beyond ‘the long wash of Australian seas?’ Am I to be persecuted even
here by his tiresome adaptations and school-boy notions, all bundled up
in superlatively bad French?—You do not know,” he added, “what I chance
to have suffered at the hands of my positivist friends at home, or I am
sure you would not ask me to discuss them here where I am come for a
holiday. They and Mr. Mallock are the most tiresome people in existence.
You have heard of Mr. Mallock out here? and of his tilts with the junior

Hawkesbury acquiesced.

“We have heard of everything out here,” he said smiling.

“Mr. Mallock,” said Gildea, “was a young man who wrote a charming book
called ‘The New Republic,’ one of the most charming books that had been
written for several years, and then took to polemics, and has been
logically agonizing there ever since. For this too we all ought to owe
this religio-intellectual pedantry called Positivism a grudge. And, when
we remember what Positivism did for George Eliot,—reduced a good quarter
of herself and her characters into edificatory machines—I think that all
of us, to whom Nature and Art are precious, should look upon Positivism
as the contemporary accursèd thing.” Gildea spoke with a certain
exaggerativeness of tone and manner that to Maddock, observing and
listening to everything with humour, was somewhat puzzling. Maddock with
average profundity suspected that here was a case of some personal memory
of a more or less disagreeable character; but average profundity, when it
has to deal with that which is out of the range of the average, nearly
always makes mistakes. Gildea was subject to sudden losses of interest
in what he was saying or doing, spiritual twinges of that terrible wound
from which he suffered: to those to whom “the endless emptiness of all
things” is a reality, moments of acute weariness and disgust are ever
lying in wait, and then the harness of life and living is often resumed
with impatience or even pettishness. It had been so just now with Gildea.
He had looked forward to his meeting with Miss Medwin, and heard those
beautiful lips open and sounds come forth that showed that, however
fine the harp, its strings were unattuned. The sense of his intense and
perpetual loneliness had rushed upon him, and he had gone back again into
his surroundings with an irritation that in a few moments amused him at

The talk passed onwards, Maddock for the first time taking his share
in it. And yet again it came round to the People. It was clear that
the strongest impression that had been given to the party was that of
Hawkesbury’s Socialism.

“If I had been speaking of it some five or six years ago,” said
Fitzgerald, “I should have certainly said that I thought the Secularists
had made most impression on the People of late years. But, in the face of
the American Revivalist meetings and the Salvation Army, I have had to
modify my views.”

“These movements or rather this movement,” said Gildea, “strikes me as
reactionary. British Middle-class Liberalism and Secularism have been
at work, with much cry, and the egregious littleness of the wool has
disgusted the People who have rushed off into the opposite extreme. The
workmen, the skilled workmen, are I think secular. I remember hearing a
lecturer on art who had been on a tour in America say, that the American
workmen all asked him if he knew Darwin or Huxley or Tyndall, and
expressed little or no care about anyone else, which seemed to surprise

“Cardinal Manning,” Fitzgerald remarked, “said well, then, that ‘the
spiritual desolation of London alone would make the Salvation Army
possible’—‘this zealous but defiant movement.’ Are we right in our
supposition, do you think, Mr. Hawkesbury?”

Hawkesbury assented.

“There are three movements,” he said, “at present going on among the
People—the Socialistic, the Religious, and the Secular. They are all
strong. In Ireland I have seen the two first clash, and the first was
almost invariably victorious. If the priests will not go with the People
in their socialistic views, (For of course the Irish Question is really a
socialistic one, although it is not spoken of as such), then the priests
are given up. Usually, however, the priests, being themselves of the
People, are in full sympathy with them. The Socialists are by no means
necessarily Atheists, but they are not Christians. ‘The sooner,’ I heard
one of them say once, when pressed on the point, ‘the sooner Christ is
made a thing of the past and Jesus a thing of the present, the better it
will be for all of us.’ That expresses them excellently. The same idea
lies at bottom in the popular Religious movement.—We Socialists,” he
added with a touch of bright humour, “like the Booths better than we like
the Bradlaughs, but we recognise that both are in earnest and working for
the People.”

“And what, religiously speaking,” asked Fitzgerald, “do you believe is to
be the future state of the People, and of us all?”

Hawkesbury had another touch of bright humour.

“Socialism,” he said, “nothing but Socialism! We are all Socialists,
whether we know it or not. Just, then, as in the first and second
centuries the platonistic Time-spirit radically influenced before it
was absorbed into the christianic: so in the eighteenth and nineteenth
centuries has the christianic Time-spirit radically influenced, before
it shall be finally absorbed in, the socialistic. Socialism has, after
all, its universal modern expounder in Goethe. Goethe was the first to
look upon Civilization as a great organic whole, every part of which has
fixed pleasures and duties. He was the first, we believe, to conceive
a natural as opposed to an artificial Civilization. Carlyle, too, felt
something of the sort, although he could not express it, any more than he
could not express what he took God to be. But we know Carlyle loved us,
and therefore we love Carlyle. As for your Idealists, Sir Horace,—Renan,
Emerson, and Arnold—we have no care for them, nor they for us. I remember
once hearing Holden call Arnold ‘the man who slew so many Philistines
with the jawbone of an ass.’ Well, the remark is expressive of his
attitude towards Culture.” Gildea and Fitzgerald were laughing, Maddock

“The end of it all,” said Maddock, “seems to be, then, Mr. Hawkesbury,
that ‘the People,’ as we say, is the great unknown quantity of the social
equation. We all more or less feel its power, and we all more or less
wish that power to be arrayed on our side, but no one quite knows what it
is and everyone is a little afraid of it.”

“You say truly,” said Hawkesbury, “The People is the great unknown power,
and it puzzles us. Pharaoh has dreamed a dream, and there is none of all
the magicians of Egypt and all the wise men thereof that can interpret
it unto him. What to make of the People’s noisy Tichborne or Salvation
Army devotions but political and religious infatuations? Be it so! But I
will say this, that the People has a shrewd humorous instinct for both
politics and religion that is a whole heaven above the purblind prudence
of the Middle-class.” He sighed, the sigh of a man who has somewhat
outspoken himself. “‘—And all these things,’ he added as if to conclude
the matter, ‘are only known to the Deity.’”

Gildea smiled.

“Well,” he said, “Are there not those among us who look forward to what
is to come with the brightest faith or with the darkest despair? And
there are those who dream and those who doubt,—and those too who possess
their souls with patience, nourishing a modest hope. For

    “what was before we know not,
    and we know not what shall succeed.

    “Haply the river of Time—
    as it grows, as the towns on its marge
    fling their wavering lights
    on a wider, statelier stream—
    may acquire, if not the calm
    of its early mountainous shore,
    yet a solemn peace of its own.”

Little more was said after this of the chief subjects of their talk, and
presently both Fitzgerald and Hawkesbury took their leave, Maddock and
Fitzgerald, and Alcock and Hawkesbury, expressing mutual hopes of seeing
one another again.


Maddock went out into the balcony and stood there, leaning on the rails,
reflectively smoking his cigar and looking out at the scene stretched
before him like a panorama. Alcock held quiet converse with Gildea for a
few moments, apologetically asking permission to go and write a letter,
the importance of which he would have explained at length, had not Gildea

“By all means,” said he; and, with a word of excuse to and gesture of
acknowledgment from Maddock, took Alcock off into a room opposite, a
study, where he ensconced him at the desk and, having pointed out the
position of all the epistolatory necessities and told him to ring the
bell for Edgar who would see that the letter was posted at once, withdrew
and rejoined Maddock on the balcony.

“You will excuse Alcock,” Gildea said, lighting a cigarette, “He has a
letter of importance to write, which he does not care to leave till we
come back.”

Maddock at once acquiesced. There was a pause, both smoking with leisure.

At last:

“Well,” said Gildea, taking his cigarette from his lips, “and how did you
like the happy family? You were a very quiet member of it.”

“Yes,” said Maddock, “I refrained from mewing and sat still, purring and
pleasantly watching the others. It struck me, shortly after Alcock came
in, that we were a very representative happy family.”

“We only wanted a genial Theist to make the pile complete. Your good
Judge is a Theist. Now if we could only....”

“Ay, ay,” said Maddock with something like a chuckle, “Judge Parker is a
Theist! As your friend the _Argus_ said, he was ‘the learned gentleman
who discovered Unitarianism in the early months of 1885.’—Come now,” he
proceeded with a sudden concentration of interest, “what are you going
to say of the affirmative side of this man’s criticism, after your
remark that there was not, in modern times, one man of real intellectual
power that has believed in a personal God and not believed in a divine
Christ? Are you going to turn upon me again with your precious purely
intellectual view of things, and say: ‘The question that now arises is,
has not Theism, after all,’ et cetera, et cetera, et cetera?”

“Certainly I am,” said Gildea laughing, “but all hope of utilizing
the purely intellectual view seems lost after my unwary committal of
myself.—No,” he added more seriously, “I have of course little more left
to do than to try and get you to join me in abuse of the good Judge for
his superstition, that is to say his Theism, and that other egregious
vice of his—his ludicrously inadequate conception of what is ‘good
and ennobling.’ To take the last first, I will say, as I once heard
Hawkesbury say on a like occasion, that I would far sooner believe in
the Orthodox Christ than in the Unitarian Jesus. Indeed I might broaden
my saying, and declare to the whole Rationalistic conception of Christ
and Christianity generally, what Carlyle declared to Voltaire: ‘Cease,
my much respected Herr Von Voltaire, shut thy sweet voice; for the task
appointed thee seems finished. Sufficiently hast thou demonstrated this
proposition, considerable or otherwise: That the Mythus of the Christian
Religion looks not in the eighteenth century as it did in the eighth....
Take our thanks, then, and—thyself away.’”

“Judge Parker’s view of Our Lord,” said Maddock frowning, “is,—not to
say blasphemous,—simply _fatuous_! I do not know whether indignation at
impudence or contempt at stupidity the most possesses a man, when he is
told, by such an one as this, that ‘the Christian Theist, who regards
Jesus as man, considers, and rightly from his point of view, that it _is_
within his power to attain to the life of, and to follow the example
of, Christ.’ Imagine Judge Parker attaining to the life of anyone but a
blatantly successful lawyer in the truculent spiritual quagmires of a
colonial capital!”

“Our good Judge’s discovery and investigation of the character of Jesus,”
said Gildea, almost ready to laugh outright at Maddock’s concluding
dythramb, “are certainly not unlike those of a man who should charter a
penny steam-boat for a trip up the Nile, and proceed, on his return to
England, to give a lengthy description of certain large triangular-shaped
buildings which, he should say, bore considerable resemblance to the
common-sense conception of pyramids! And it _is_ possible perhaps to
denominate such a description as fatuous. His conception of Jesus _is_,
we are agreed—inadequate: ‘an exemplar ... who merits all praise, all
esteem, and love, and admiration for that, _being human_, he led so pure,
so blameless, so noble and unselfish a life.’ This, what this with our
good Judge _means_, is an inadequate conception of Jesus. He perceives
nothing of the real essence of Jesus. Anything that Arnold, whom he
quotes so often, may have said of ‘the mildness and sweet reasonableness’
of Jesus, or that Renan may have said of the wonderful powers of personal
attraction that are in Jesus—all this has fallen like water on the
judicial back of our duck here! It is for none of these that our good
Judge, our typical man of common-sense, goes to his New Testament.
‘Mildness and sweet reasonableness,’ the yearning of a consuming personal
love, are not clear solid spiritual qualities which his mind can see and
touch and handle. They have no place in the copy-books of the soul, nor
yet in the sum-books thereof, and you shall search its ‘Little Arthur’s
History’ from beginning to end and find no mention of them. Their only
place is in the thoughts, words, and actions of the men and women who
have moved thousands and millions of their fellows, in the radiant days
of high civilizations, in the agonies of the travail or the destruction
of peoples and races. ‘It is apparent,’ says he, ‘that we can collect
from the Christian Bible, a purer, more beautiful, and more advanced
ethical code, than is to be obtained from any other book or books.’
O good Judge, O belovèd Judge, if all that is to be got out of the
Christian Bible is an ‘ethical code,’ then the sooner Martin Tupper and
Mr. Harrison are deified, the sooner will the human soul have reached its

“That is well,” said Maddock, “but, at the same time, there are few
things that disgust me more than the man of the opposite sort—he who,
like so many of these Socialists of yours, will sing the love of Christ
with passion, and then go out and commit a hundred of the grossest sins.
Christ is morality.”

“Ah no,” said Gildea, “he is something better; he is religion! It is
immoral to commit adultery: it is moral to punish it: (‘Infinitely better
that they should atone for it, than lose a step towards a higher life’):
it is religious, not to condemn it, but to bid go and sin no more. It is
immoral to take your share in your father’s substance and waste it in
violent living: it is moral to punish this prodigal, to whom repentance
has only come with a belly that was fain to fill itself with the husks of
the swine: it is religious to kill the fatted calf for such a penitent,
and rejoice and make glad. Jesus’ sole criticism on practical morality,
on the realization of an ethical code in everyday life, is, that ‘it was
not so from the beginning.’”

“Just so; but this is precisely the difference of the ethical code of the
Old and of the New Dispensation.”

“Will you let me say, that it has nothing to do with any ethical code
at all? For, surely, the essence of ethical codes is justice, and the
essence of the religious code, of the code of Jesus, is love. The Amazon
may be a big river, but you shall compass all time in trying to put into
it the unspeakable ocean.—No, it is just here that, as Fitzgerald would
say, all these good people are superstitious. They believe that the
spiritual progress of humanity is synonymous with the progress of one
portion of the spirit of humanity, namely the ethical portion; and this,
being a belief in a thing not worthy of that belief, may justly, as it
seems to me, be denominated a superstition. It is superstition without

“And what, then,” asked Maddock, “do you call the belief of men like your
friend Hawkesbury?”

“Those who are immoral? men and women who, as most of these Socialists,
work in the spirit of Jesus and act (as a polemist would say) in the
manner of Bradlaugh?—what is _their_ belief?”

“Yes,” said Maddock.

“Why, clearly,” answered Gildea smiling, “religion _with_ superstition!
The men of enthusiasm like Hawkesbury, and the men of morality like Judge
Parker, are surely both of them right, and surely both of them wrong:
right in their appreciation of the truth of one portion of the spiritual
life, wrong in their ignorance of another portion. They both possess
truth, and they both possess superstition.”

“And what of a man like our friend Alcock here, who is ignorant of
religion and more or less lax as regards morality?”

“He too,” answered Gildea, “as Fitzgerald clearly demonstrated, is
a victim of superstition. But he is not, for all that, without his
belief, without his appreciation of truth. He believes in that portion
of the spiritual life which we call intellect. Men like him have their
enthusiasm, for which they are ready to suffer and do suffer all things;
and that enthusiasm is the enthusiasm for that portion of truth which we
call Science.”

“And your Fitzgerald—is he too both right and wrong?”

“Of course he is; for has he not both belief and negation? All belief is
truth, not _the whole_ truth, but _a part_ of the truth. There is but one
thing that is the whole truth.”


“No, not God, for God does not include Nature, from which He is the
outcome—not God, not Nature, but that which contains them both,
Everything, the All!”

“Pooh,” said Maddock, “flat Pantheism!”

“_And suppose_,” cried Gildea, “_it were_ Pot-_theism, if the thing is
true_!” (He laughed outright.) “—That answer of Carlyle’s,” he said, “is

“Oh, it was Carlyle said it?” said Maddock, “I had forgotten.—And so,” he
proceeded, “the secret is out, and Sir Horace Gildea ‘stands confessed a
Pantheist in all his charms!’”

“Two of the happy family still remain unaccounted for,” Gildea said,
“although they too have not probably attained to perfect truth.”

“Oh, that is you and I. As for me, I can describe myself without your
aid. I believe in morality and religion, with a touch of superstition in

“Worse,” said Gildea, “worse!”

“What, then?”

“You believe in theology which is as bad a superstition as, what Judge
Parker calls, ‘the calm blissful sea of pure _theistic_ belief.’ (You
notice how emphatic he is about his superstition and casual about his

“Stop a moment now, my bright Apollo, and explain to me, what you have
not yet attempted to, what the superstition of Theism is?”

“_What is Theism?_—‘It is a faith,’ answers our good Judge, ‘which is
_the_ faith of all others’ (that is to say the faith of Judge Parker and
all the ‘celebrated unitarian ministers’), ‘to be clung to, cherished
and maintained as long as man exists—belief, trust in, and love for
the All-loving, All-righteous, All-wise Universal Spirit of God.’ Now
observe that this faith, this unique faith of faiths, is ‘refreshing,
and invigorating in its simplicity’—(as, we might add, is also its
formulator, if we did not shun flippancy as we would the pest)—‘warm and
glowing in its absolute unclouded devotion to, love for, and perfect
trust in God alone—_proclaimed by_ NATURE!’ O wise Judge, O upright
Judge, O Judge much more elder than thy looks, where, when, and how,
in the name of all observers of Nature from Darwin through Haeckel to
Tennyson, did you discover therein either this love or righteousness of
which you make such mention? ‘The struggle for existence and survival of
the fittest,’ the parent of theistic righteousness and love! ‘_Proclaimed
by_ NATURE!’—and Nature in italics! O immemorial phrase that eats up
all the others even as Aaron’s rod swallowed up all the rods of the
magicians!—Who, after this, would care to trouble himself with all the
other potent items of this faith of faiths? The idea of God, God ‘the
All-loving, All-righteous, All-wise Universal Spirit’ ‘originated in
instinct,’ and is not the slow and painful growth of time? Think of the
love of Jehovah! the righteousness of Baal! the wisdom of Moloch!—The
beauty and sympathy and warmth of the theistic form of belief,” he
added, “are recognizable as a half-hearted mixture of the clap-trap of
Religion and Science—Superstition, which knows that it is naked, and sews
fig-leaves together, and make itself an apron!”

Maddock, however, could have no confidence in the expressed views of this
man, from whose face the light of amusement, amusement at others and
himself, seemed never to be absent long. There had, indeed, been moments
when it required all Maddock’s intuition to prevent his perception rising
in absolute revolt against what seemed Gildea’s flagrant insincerity:
then his perception had said to him that this was but a youth, endowed
with brilliant abilities, the mere exercise of which was a pleasure
and satisfaction to him, caring too little for any one thing to owe it
loyalty. Whereto his intuition had replied that this was not a youth but
a man, and a man whose secret could not thus be read. And the feeling
that Maddock had, once before that day, felt towards Gildea returned
now with an intensity and strangeness that seemed to Maddock, when
he afterwards considered it, as little short of wonderful. Maddock’s
profundity was often beyond the average, and herein indeed lay his
secret, herein nestled “the heart of his mystery.”

“And yet,” said Gildea, “here, as in the other case, the common-sense
view of belief has, of course, its excellence. ‘To take nothing else,’
says the Judge, ‘the very idea of “space” and “distance” that astronomy
has given us fills the mind with wonder and with awe, clothing nature
with a sublimity, a majesty, and a beauty which, otherwise, we had never
known.’ For observe that _Space_ and _Time_, these two inexhaustible
ideas, are not, to our average intelligent secular view of things,
the mere words that they are to the orthodox: they are realities thus
far, that they help us to perceive that ‘there exists throughout
space,—throughout the vast limitless universe,—motion, order, beauty;
that there is behind all motion, all order, all beauty, a force that
produces the motion, the order, and the beauty.’ And further. They are
realities thus far, that they help us to be (whatever Dr. Maddock, in
a polemico-theological spirit, may declare) earnest in our life and
earnest in our wish to bring home to others the truth of that life, a
‘most serious and difficult task!’ They help us to all this, and an
unrecognized intuitional belief in the essence which, in other forms
and other men whom we fail to appreciate, not to say understand, we
condemn—our intuitional belief, I say, in the Faith, Hope, and Love,
which are the great movers of the progress of Humanity both upward and
onward, will not let the forms that portions of this belief may take in
us make the whole grow cold, lifeless, petrified, but the beauty and
melody of our acts will often be found to contradict the deformity and
discord of our words.”

“I confess, Sir Horace,” said Maddock, “that you are a puzzle to me. I
really should not be surprised to see you some day walking side by side
with the Judge, the best friends in the world!”

“And perhaps,” said Gildea, “the Judge would not subsequently be
surprised to see me doing the same with yourself! For that indeed is the
only use of such poor creatures as I: we see the good in opponents and
serve as links in the spiritual bridge of Humanity.”

“I should very much like,” said Maddock, “to hear how you would abuse me
to him. I think I see the urbane expression with which you would delight
him by shewing how, in this ecclesiastical, metaphysical, theological
polemist here, habemus confitentem asinum; and then turn upon him and
say: ‘The question that now arises, my dear Judge, is, has this man
nothing but faults—has he no excellencies? does there remain, after the
attack on him of so eminent a biblical critic as Judge Parker is, no
residuum of real and vital truth? Let us see.’”

“Doctor, Doctor,” said Gildea, “to make me laugh so, is cruel!”

“You do not consider me,” said Maddock, “in the least.”

They both laughed heartily.

“And now,” said Maddock, “in order to complete the matter, tell me, what
is _your_ superstition? Here are Alcock and Parker with their respective
superstitions of Atheism and Theism, of purely scientific and purely
ethical progress. Here is Hawkesbury with his superstition about the
unselfishness of the People and the practical neglect of Morality. Here
is Fitzgerald with his superstitious belief in a Church whose splendid
logical consistency will prove its ruin. Here am I, a member of a sect
that more nearly approaches ideal Christianity than any other sect in
existence, and is a logical absurdity—blessed with the superstition of
theology and, worse, of polemical theology, with.... But I cannot express
all my superstitions: they seem more in number than the hairs of my head!”

“Let us say broadly, then, that Alcock and the Judge are those who have
superstition _without_, and Fitzgerald, you, and to a certain degree
Hawkesbury, those who have superstition _with_, Religion.”

“And that you?”

“And that _I_ am he who unites in my proper person the superstitions of
all with the actualities of none.”

There was a pause. Then:

“Sir Horace,” said Maddock, “I take you seriously. And I will confess
that I would sooner, far sooner, be any one of us than you.—Verily and
indeed,” he added, solemnly, “I cannot see why you should care to live.”

“Nor yet,” said Gildea, “why I should care to die?”

Maddock was possessed by sadness. The absolute, inevitable hopelessness
of this man made him again turn faint and sick at heart.

“Nor yet,” he said, “why you should care to die.”

There was a long pause. Never again could Maddock be illuded into
momentary misunderstanding of this man: he had now not only seen this
strange soul laid bare before him and felt the influence of that sight,
but had felt as if he had, as it were, almost received it into his own,
almost made it a part of himself.

At last:

“I asked you to believe,” he said with a touch of wistfulness in face
and tone, “that I was your true friend. You will perhaps, forgive me if
I ... if I offer you the one token of it that seems left to me to offer.
Some day—I cannot tell, but so I trust—you may care to think that, each
night you close your eyes in sleep, there is one whose prayers for you
are rising, as he believes, to the God and Father of us all, to bless and
keep you, to lift up the light of his countenance upon you, and to give
you peace.”

The two men stood facing each other for a few moments in silence: then
their hands met in a close, long clasp, and parted; and they turned,
standing almost touching each other, looking out over the lovely scene of
earth and water and sky.

At last:

“Those clouds,” said Gildea softly, “they have a peerless radiancy. One
seems to understand how the men of the past days saw a spirit therein,
and held converse with it with wonder and delight and awe. Those were
days of a music and beauty and sweetness such as we shall never know

“_If not_,” said Maddock as softly,

                “_if not the calm_
    _of its early mountainous shore,_
    _yet a solemn peace of its own._”

A footstep was heard behind them. It was Edgar, come to say that Mrs. and
Miss Medwin had arrived and were up in the drawing-room with Mr. Alcock.

Gildea stepped out onto the lawn.

“Let us go up by the balcony,” he said to Maddock.


Mrs. Medwin was the only native-born australian lady who was “good
style.” So at least a Governor’s wife, about the “goodness” of whose
“style” there could be no question, had declared. It was not, this
Governor’s wife had explained, that there were no ladies in Australia,
(There were not however many, par parenthèse, and such style as they had
was at best but second-rate american), but they none of them had that
manner of dressing, moving, and speaking which characterizes what (to use
this rather objectional term again, for want of a better) we call “good
style.” This Governor’s wife, with her usual delicate feminine instinct,
had felt on the occasion of this now socially celebrated description
of Mrs. Medwin, that she had not quite satisfied herself, that the
description did not contain the truth, all the truth, and nothing but
the truth, of the matter; and she was right, it did not. Mrs. Medwin
undoubtedly possessed that serene refinement of movement and speech which
go so far to making up that all but defunct individuality, a “lady,” but
she was wanting in the final gift of a “lady,” social charm. The flower
was scentless, or rather the scent it had was of another description.
Her life had not, indeed, been favourable to the development of this
final gift. She had been married early, a ready enough victim to the
convenience of her family, to a man with whom she had little in common
and much in opposition. He was liked by none and feared by all those
who had any personal dealings with him: his savage outbursts of passion
recalled to memory the dark stories that were told of his father who had,
as the Australians euphemistically put it, come out at the government
expense. But she, having calmly decided to accept Medwin and life with
him, set herself by the sheer intrepidity of her sweet high beauty, to
dominate them. She succeeded. And she won, not only the control, but
the deep, admiring love, of the man. Then came the catastrophe which
those who knew him had prophesied and recanted. In one of his savage
outbursts of passion, he struck her. The blow was a cruel one and its
results life-long. Much as she then suffered in body and soul, she could
have no other feeling for him than that of pity. For days he would take
no food, but sat in a chair outside her door, like a dog that waits in
silence on an idolized master; and, when he was first permitted to enter,
flung himself onto his knees by the bedside, sobbing and moaning and
covering her hand with kisses. And she, who had had little or no care for
him before, save as the principal incident in her life, now to her own
surprise found that from out this appalling misery was born affection
for him and even love. Her life from then onwards had been spent in
a struggle far more terrible than that which she had waged with him.
At first the idea of wasting away inch by inch on a diseased sick-bed
almost overwhelmed her: she longed, she prayed for death. But death
did not come; and then her spiritual pride began to reassert itself,
and, like the captain of a battered ship, she once more thought how she
could rule these waters that had ruled her. For long it seemed as if
the effort would be too much for her: she said to herself one sleepless
horrible night that she was being consumed alive. Her very latest gift
seemed but as an added thorn to her; for now that she had affection
and even love, she had also jealousy. The spell of her sweet, fearless
health and strength and beauty was passed from him save as a memory: his
love, deepened it might be by his abiding remorse, was (as she thought)
deprived of that admiration which had been her first and strongest
hold on him. Nothing more pitiful, than to see the womanliness in her
assert itself against her pride and speak in jealousy! With wonderful
intuition, however, she divined and with wonderful determination carried
out, what was the only plan of still keeping for herself his admiration.
She, who since she had married him had not given his business affairs
a thought, now gave herself up to the mastery of them. She had herself
taught all arithmetic thoroughly, and, in little less than three years
after her misfortune, knew more of all his business affairs than he did
himself. And more. She stirred up in him the ambition to become the
leader of that great amorphous section of colonial society of which he
was a member, the land-owners, the “squatters.” She had a certain liking
for society, and when she was in England went into it as much as her
extremely delicate health would permit her: in Australia, however, where,
as she said, there was no society, or only of a sort which she did not
like, she yet entertained a good deal, as she wished her husband to be
popular in view of his entering parliament and attempting to organize his
party. But her entertainment was more after the fashion of a listless
social empress than an interested hostess: she did not care enough about
these people to make, what would have been to her, a painful physical
effort to attract them. She had indeed something of the feeling of one
of the old aristocrats forced by the pressure of the time to open their
houses to the Middle-class; she acknowledged the salute of her guests,
and provided them with fine rooms, music, amusement, foods and drinks,
and what more could they want? Her coldness was generally ascribed to
her notorious ill-health, but the young people felt instinctively that
she condemned them, and were not drawn to her. Between her and Gildea,
however, there was an understanding that was not without either charm or
brightness to both. He understood her, and she half-felt this and, never
having been really understood before, was in a way pleased at it and
drawn to him. She amused him and at times, thanks to the pity with which
her sweet courage inspired him, affected him. He was not too without
respect for her intuitional capacities. He said once to Sydney Medwin,
who was complaining that his mother was fifty years behind the time,
(Mrs. Medwin supported her husband in his views for their elder son),
that, on the contrary, she was fifty years before; for she was the only
person he had met or heard of in the Colony who clearly saw that the Land
Question was upon them. Mrs. Medwin indeed, as has been noticed, saw that
the attempt of the Australian land-owners to repeat the performance of
those of England and form a dominant aristocracy, would be met with keen
opposition, and that the only hope of success lay in creating out of an
amorphous class a party, and organizing it. The feeling of possession
and caste had grown a strong one in her, in her more or less absorbed in
the life of her husband. Hers, then, with all its powers of passionate
attachment to an individual, was one of those not frequent female souls
that see beyond a man into the cause which he represents. Her elder son
she looked upon as a failure, as useless, as worth no more than making
behave himself. Her younger son, Stephen, she was training with some
care, and to him the far greater bulk of his father’s wealth and property
was at present destined. Miss Medwin, whom Mrs. Medwin called her niece,
and who called Mr. and Mrs. Medwin respectively uncle and aunt, but who
was in reality no such relation, being the daughter of Mr. Medwin’s
father’s brother’s son; of Miss Medwin it will perhaps be enough to
state, that the report which Gildea had unexpectedly received of her from
the Private Enquiry Office was correct, and that she was the possessor
of a moderate fortune who had come out to Australia, half for a change
from her English life of which she was weary, half in search of an old
schoolfellow to whom she was much attached.

Gildea and Maddock stepped out together along the lawn and mounted the
steps that led up to the sitting-room balcony. The sunlight, intercepted
by an angle of the house, covered half of this portion of it, almost so
exactly half that the glass door, open in the middle of the bay window,
was partly in the sun and partly in the shade. As they reached the
balcony, Gildea, with the gesture of a courteous host, indicated to
Maddock to enter first, but he, with the no less courteous gesture of
a guest, refused and returned the indication. Gildea stepped into the
open doorway and, as he stood there for a moment with the sunlight and
shade playing upon him, met the gaze of Miss Medwin, seated upright,
looking almost proudly before her. Behind her was the dark red of the
curtain with its subdued white of delicately wrought muslin. Two rays of
sunlight lay along the rich variegated colours of the carpet, diffusing
a little light about her. She was very beautiful. They had recognized
one another at once. And more. They both were undergoing that feeling
of half-forgotten recollection that affects us with such unprepared and
mystic strangeness. Had they, then, seen one another before that day
when she had almost ridden over him under the Domain trees? had they met
in some way similar to their meeting now? At such moments the past, the
present, and the future, all half unknown, seem to join hands, and kiss,
and part with eyes dimmed with a regretless regret.

It had passed in a few moments. Gildea, with something that might be
called a sudden freak of tact, stepped into the room, turning a quite
self-possessed face to Mrs. Medwin. She was sitting on a sofa dispensing
serene little nothings to Alcock, whose face and manner beamed with
social polish. Gildea came straight to her and made his greetings with
winning grace: then, obeying a slight gesture of hers, moved aside and
she introduced him to her niece, Miss Medwin. With the same winning
grace, head courteously bowed, he stepped to Miss Medwin, and lightly
raised the hand she held up to him. Maddock was greeting Mrs. Medwin.

“I think,” said Gildea smiling slightly, “I think, Miss Medwin, that we
are not quite strangers.”

“And how is Mrs. Maddock?” asked Mrs. Medwin, “I hope she is quite well.”
Gildea sat down in a chair by Miss Medwin.

“No,” answered Miss Medwin gravely, “I was careless enough to have almost
ridden onto you.”

“The carelessness was mine. I was dreaming. Day-dreamers should be
awakened.” Maddock was assuring Mrs. Medwin that Mrs. Maddock was
in excellent health, and at this very moment enjoying herself quite
satisfactorily without the society of her lord and master.

“Indeed,” said Mrs. Medwin, “I hope we shall be able to see her before we
leave Sydney. We are stopping at Winslow’s.”

“That,” Miss Medwin said gravely again, “seems to me to depend a good
deal on the day.”

“Mr. Medwin is _with_ you, Mrs. Medwin?” interrogated Alcock with his
politest manner, “I understood that I should not have the pleasure of
seeing him till monday or tuesday?”

“It is true,” said Gildea, “that to-day the reality of things is so
troubling to the peace and pleasure of many of us, that it is cruel to
wake us from our dreams.”

“Oh no!” said Mrs. Medwin with her usual unruffled serenity, “Mr. Medwin
is not coming up till tuesday or perhaps wednesday.”

A swift sense of the humour of a social scene like this, where the
tendency of things is for the dramatis personæ to beat unlimited time
with musical voices, graceful gestures, and a charming expression of
countenance, dawned upon Gildea as a memory of almost distant days. The
poetry of society is mostly expended in its common-places. To be able to
do this is an art, an art of which provincial and colonial society is
ignorant. Hence Gildea’s sense of the humour of the present scene was as
an almost distant memory. “Here,” he thought, “we have four excellent
musicians who would make the most charmingly meaningless quartet
possible, Alcock being reduced to the part of accidental audience.”
It was not, of course, that Gildea’s talk with Miss Medwin was social
time-beating: it was, rather, spiritual time-beating, rendered in a
manner that partook of the social. Miss Medwin had not recovered from the
to her strange sensations of this second sudden meeting with him: she was
neither as consummate a master of her emotions as he was, nor careful of
becoming one, nor yet was she prepared, as he was, for their meeting: she
was left by it as one is who has had some swift revelation of good or
evil in himself—considering himself if he really was this, is that, and
will be something that contains them both. The individualities of other
men she had known had touched her as much, or almost as much, as his had
on that day in the Domain, but none had ever entered into her and, as it
were, “blown a thrilling summons to her will” as his had, as he stood
looking at her in the shadowy sunlit doorway there. And her will had
answered that summons, and instantaneously. To him that sight of her,
sitting upright, looking almost proudly before her, was ever to be as the
sight of an Antigone, one who felt “it was better not to be than not be
noble,” the depth of whose scorn for unworthiness was equal to her love,
high as the everlasting hills, deep as the unplumbed sea.

“Yes,” she said, “it is sometimes cruel to wake us from our dreams, and
yet it is best, I think.”

“—You think it is best to modify our poetry with prose? Was it better to
have awakened Shelley, and given us his ‘Prometheus’ with wooden limbs of
a day’s social dogmatism, than to have let him make delicate music in the
italian woods and by the italian shores, for ever sweet and fair?”

“So he told me,” said Alcock, “and I was very glad to hear it. The
interests of all wealth, whether in land or in money, is identic. But
we have no organization.—And Labour,” he added with a look to Maddock,
“as Mr. Hawkesbury just told us, is organizing, if it is not already

If it had been possible for Mrs. Medwin to be amazed at anything, she
would have been amazed at this. Hawkesbury had a few years ago been an
employé on one of Medwin’s stations, the very station to which she was
now on her road. This was a reflection which was positively annoying
to her. “It would,” she had once simply remarked, “have been as well
perhaps, if he had eaten some poisoned meat when he was there, as they
used to say the troublesome blacks did. He is a danger to society.”
Sydney Medwin, who liked to do his best to ruffle his mother’s serenity
now and then, used not unfrequently to speak in praise of Hawkesbury
(his friend Hawkesbury, a clever fellow too, and who would make his mark
out here yet!) and had once even, as Gildea told Maddock, offered to
introduce him to her. “You know, Sydney,” said Mrs. Medwin simply, “I am
not interested in Mr. Hawkesbury. If you like to make up a shooting-party
at Lathong,” (a station of Medwin’s in Victoria), “with all the men on
the station, I daresay he would be pleased to join you.”—What, then, was
the meaning of Mr. Alcock’s remark that this firebrand socialist, this
impertinent journalist and pamphleteer, had been _just telling_ something
to Mr. Alcock, Dr. Maddock, and presumably Sir Horace?

“I’m sure,” said Alcock with his politest manner again, “that we all
of us cannot be too—too pleased to have found a lady who realized
this, and could help us to what we so much want—a ... a sort of general
rallying-point.—Nothing,” he proceeded, “struck me so much in England
as the use that the political parties made of their social gatherings,
and they tell me that this was much more the case once than it is at
present.” Alcock found a certain amount of difficulty in saying that he
thought women might, after all, be made of some use in political life, in
a manner that should be pleasing to _this_ woman.

The talk progressed more or less easily, Maddock, with a humorous
perception of the effect Alcock’s innocent allusion to Hawkesbury had
produced on Mrs. Medwin, playing the part of conversational mediator
between the two.

“You are not, then,” said Gildea, in answer to a remark of Miss Medwin’s,
“in sympathy with dreams and dreamers?”

“No,” she answered shaking her head, “not if they take their dreams for
realities. It is just, I think, because we have been dreaming so long and
dreaming so much, that our waking is so miserable.—You speak of prose
and poetry,” she continued, turning her head a little and looking at
him, “as if the prose had something disagreeable in it. Well, so it may
have—to the dreamers. I too am a dreamer, of course, in my way; but I
dream about the earth and the things of the earth, and so my dreams are
real as the wind is real, or the sunlight, or the moonlight, or the light
of the stars, none of which fear the contact of the earth or the water.
But these people seem to me to dream of the things of heaven, filling all
space with them. But space is empty—at any rate of things like theirs.”

“You do not believe,” he said, “as Taine does, that ‘at bottom there is
nothing truly sweet and beautiful in our life but our dreams?’”

“Yes,” she said, “yes and no! But what does it matter _what_ I believe?
I have no opinion of my own in this way. You would make me dogmatic. Now
I shall always try not to be dogmatic. I rebel against defining things,
especially things that I like; they are never the same afterwards. But
I am often doing this, and I have to suffer for it. This comes of being
born in an age which can describe everything and do nothing.—You see, you
make me petulant!”

It flashed across Gildea’s mind as she finished speaking that there
was a great difference between the manner of his talk with this girl
and with that bright intelligent girl in Melbourne. He perceived the
difference, and the greatness of the difference, but not much farther.
It was many years, and in point of spiritual time many ages, since
Gildea had been blind to the fact that another nature was influencing
and being influenced by his own with the force of fatality. It is the
distinguishing mark of the moderns that they are not blind in this
respect. None of Shakspere’s men, not even the intellectual Hamlet,
get beyond a suspicion that Fate is playing upon them. The chief cause
of Hamlet’s delay lies in this suspicion and his antagonism to it: the
others submit blindly, and only recognise fatality when the “wheel has
come full circle,” but _the process_ of fatality is all unknown to them,
not even a mystery. Miss Medwin too was in the same state as Gildea but
even deeper in it. She spoke to him as she had never spoken to anyone
else in her life, as to a comrade, without leaning, without supporting,
with complete simplicity. The spell that compels a mutual truthfulness is
the perception that you understand and are understood.

“I see,” he said, “that _you_ complain of your age because its senses are
deranged, and idlers like me because the gifts that it assigns to the
doers, as opposed to the thinkers, are not gold but tinsel.”

“No, no,” she said, “I do not complain of my age! If I complained of
anything, it would be of myself who am unfit for my age. And I do not
think that the gifts of our actions are tinsel.”

“Perhaps you are right, and the fault is mine because _my_ senses are

“There is great room for action now, as it seems to me. If a man appeared
to-morrow with the secret of attraction in him—the secret that Napoleon
had or Byron—he would control us as much as they did. They are ours too,
these men.”

“But we think too much? we can describe everything, and do nothing?”

“I do not know,” she said, “I have no opinion!”

“Alice,” said Mrs. Medwin.

“Yes, aunt,” answered Miss Medwin.

“Will you please make the tea?” she said.

Miss Medwin rose at once, Gildea rising too, smiling. It was Mrs.
Medwin’s peculiar charm that, at certain apparently eccentric moments,
she would speak and act with the pretty spontaneous sweetness of a young
girl. This was the scent this wonderful flower had retained, despite all
the terrible heats of the noontide and frosts of the dawn that had fallen
upon its life. She had spoken in this manner now.

Miss Medwin went behind the tea-table which Edgar had just brought in
and on which he was placing the bright silver tea-urn, and the water-can
with its blue-violet-flamed spirit-lamp; then, at a nod from Gildea,
disappeared. Miss Medwin poured out a cup of tea which Gildea took to
Mrs. Medwin, returning for the milk and sugar, while Miss Medwin took the
second cup to Maddock, who received it with suave and charming thanks.
Mrs. Medwin thanked Gildea, who passed on with the milk and sugar to
Maddock, and, as he returned to the tea-table for the cakes and biscuits,
passed Miss Medwin with the third cup on her way to Alcock. Alcock
received her with thanks profuse and jocular.

“Do you take milk and sugar?” asked Miss Medwin.

“No, no, thank you, Miss Medwin,” returned Alcock, “I take neither!”

Gildea arrived, with a plate of cakes in one hand and a plate of biscuits
in the other. Mrs. Medwin recognised in the biscuits those of a sort to
which she was somewhat addicted, and divined that Gildea had noticed the

“Thank you, Sir Horace,” she said, with her manner of pretty spontaneous
sweetness, “And presently Alice shall play for you. I know you will find
her style of playing a treat.”

Sir Horace made a suitable reply and passed on with the cakes and
biscuits. Mrs. Medwin and Maddock began to talk together, Alcock playing
the part of silent member.

“There is your tea,” Miss Medwin said to Gildea as he came back to the
tea-table. She was standing with her own cup in her hand as if about to
move away to a seat. Gildea proffered the biscuits. She took one. He put
down the plates and took up his cup.

“You are an epicure in tea,” she said, sipping a little of hers from her
tea-spoon, “are you not?”

“I do not know,” he answered with a slightly amused look, “but I believe
that the Russians are the only people in Europe who understand it.”

“They take neither sugar nor milk, do they? and a slice of lemon floating
in the tea?”

They were moving back to their places. He assented.

“And who are the only people in Europe who understand coffee?” she asked.

“Undoubtedly the French.”

“Ah, you mean the café au lait—with the milk and coffee both boiling and
poured in together? I like it that way, but not with too much milk. We
had a french cook once who used to make it for us, and, as I liked it, of
course I found out how to make it myself.”

“Yes,” he said, “certainly coffee with cold milk is a barbarism; but the
shape in which I like coffee best is as, what the French call, café noir.”

Miss Medwin said she had never seen it in that way, and, in answer to
Gildea’s slight expression of surprise, explained that she had never been
in France. Gildea described the café noir and the proper manner in which
to drink it.

“You fill the spoon with cognac,” he said, “into which you put a lump of
sugar—In France the sugar is in little thin slabs, not, as with us, in
squares—and then you set the cognac alight. This melts down the sugar
and, when all the spirit is burnt up, except that which saturates the
sugar, and goes out, you put in your spoon. The flavour of burnt sugar
and cognac is pleasant.”

“It is indeed, Sir Horace,” said Alcock, tired of playing the part of
silent member in the other conversation, “I drank it that way myself
in Paris. A friend of mine, an American told me of it. Paris is a very
pleasant place. You have a treat in store for you, going there, Miss

“Yes,” she answered, “I should like to go to Paris; the Louvre is there.”

“A very fine collection,” said Alcock, “I was much struck with it!
Unfortunately all the best works of art are now either in collections, or
so expensive that they are out of the reach of us Australians who have
claims upon us more pressing. You saw the Picture Gallery in Melbourne?”

“Yes, I saw it. I think it is rather painful. I liked the Library better.”

“The building—the room, you mean?”

“No, I meant the books. I used to go and sit there and read.”

“Oh indeed?” said Alcock. “And what now do you think of the Picture
Gallery here?”

“Alice,” said Mrs. Medwin, “you are not to say! I won’t have you say that
the things in Sydney are better than in Melbourne!”

“Very well, aunt,” said Alice, “then I will not say it.”

“And now,” said Mrs. Medwin, “I want you to play for us.”

Miss Medwin rose at once with a look for the piano, which was on the
other side of the curtains. Both she and Gildea were amused and delighted
by Mrs. Medwin’s characteristic interruption and command: Maddock
was amused: even Alcock, who did not yet know her ways, was too much
influenced by the charm of this her happiest manner to think it rude or
imperious. “She is such an invalid,” he said, recounting this incident
as an anecdote to a friend of his at the Melbourne Club, “and rules
everyone about her like a little empress. But her manner is irresistible,
really irresistible; and it doesn’t offend you in the least—in fact you
rather like it. There is no woman in Melbourne who could help us to
consolidate a party in the english social manner as _she_ could. And I
really attach—I really do!—considerable importance to the idea.” Such
was the subsequent expression of the thoughts which were passing through
the mind of Alcock as Gildea, having held back the curtain for Miss
Medwin to pass, was opening the piano for her. Mrs. Medwin sat in serene
unconsciousness of the possibility of her manners being considered as
otherwise than her own, and would have been surprised if she had heard
that anyone thought they were open to question.

“Is there any piece, aunt,” asked Miss Medwin, bending back so as to see
Mrs. Medwin through the curtains, “that you would like me to play?”

“Oh no!” Mrs. Medwin said, “Why, I wanted you to play for Sir Horace, not
for me!”

Miss Medwin smiled assent, and, after a few moments’ pause to consider
what piece she would play and to collect her thoughts, began. The piece
was the one which she considered would most please her audience, and
which of course she knew. It was Chopin’s Eleventh Nocturne. It suited
her humour at many times, but particularly at the present. The Nocturne
is divided into two parts: passionate and half-weary wandering, and rest
in which passion is merged in peace. To her it conjured up the vision of
a twilight road winding up between woody rolling fields and a plantation.
The dark figure of the man, whose passionate and half-weary wandering is
here expressing itself, is coming slowly up the road. Low down and far
away behind the close straight stems of the plantation lie a few pallid
veins of sunset light. The shadows are stealing swiftly around him. He is
near to hopelessness, near to the wish to

        lie down like a tired child,
    and weep away the life of care
    which he has borne and yet must bear:

but passion and yearning are still too strong in him for self-abandonment.
Then he hears sounds—a strain of music and voices—the nuns or monks
perhaps, singing an evening hymn to the blessèd Mary, mother of passion
and of peace! He moves on slowly and softly, listening. His hopelessness,
his weariness are soothed into rest: trust enters into him, trust in the
aims of life, that general life in which his own is now merged, even as
the yearning of passion is lost in the sweetness of peace....

When she had finished, there was a long pause, and then Gildea thanked
her for the pleasure she had given him. Mrs. Medwin and Maddock began
to speak of the piece, Maddock expressing his pleasure at it and his
admiration for Miss Medwin’s playing.

“You are, then, a lover of this Chopin?” said Gildea to Miss Medwin. “But
he is not your Master, as you would say?”

“No,” she answered, “he is not my Master.—I suppose you mean Beethoven by
that?” she added, looking up at him. He assented.

“And yet,” she said, “I cannot somehow call even him Master. I do not
love music as I ought to do—especially Beethoven and Wagner. They are
great, these men, very great, but I cannot lose myself in their spirit as
I should do. I often feel this.”

“It was one of Heine’s few fantastic sayings,” said Gildea, “that
Chopin was the Raphael of the piano, and indeed a piece like this, or
the stately opening of the Thirteenth Nocturne—You remember it?” (She
assented)—“or the Marche Funèbre, help to see what he meant; but to call
him a Raphael seems to me inapt. No Raphael, for instance, would have
dreamed of so entirely giving himself up to the influence of his passion
as Chopin does. Surely it is not in _his_ spirit that you can lose

“No,” she said, “less than in Beethoven’s. But perhaps Heine only meant
his expression about Chopin comparatively. Chopin, you remember, is the
only great composer who devoted himself to the piano. Certainly he is a
master of it, but his style of art is not like Raphael’s—at least so far
as I know of Raphael.”

They came back talking into the other room, where Gildea, from a glance
at Mrs. Medwin’s face, perceived that she now wished them to go down
to the yacht. In a few minutes he brought the conversation round to
the subject and, having asked and she having expressed her wish, the
party was presently crossing the lawn on its way down to the small
landing-stage, close to which the “Petrel” had now been brought in. Mrs.
Medwin, between Maddock and Alcock, was some yards ahead of Gildea and
Miss Medwin who were following them.

“You did not know,” Gildea was saying to her, “that Mr. Hawkesbury was a
friend of mine? He has been having lunch with us, and only just went away
before you arrived. He, and another friend of mine whom you perhaps have
met in Melbourne, Mr. Fitzgerald—No?—were unable to stay.”

“So I supposed,” said Miss Medwin, “or something like that.—You do not
perhaps know,” she added, “that my aunt has a dislike for him that really
almost amounts to antipathy?”

“Yes,” said Gildea, “I was aware of it: his social opinions are too much
for her, and Sydney Medwin annoys her by constantly mentioning both
them and him. A meeting would have been awkward indeed, but I made my
calculations carefully, and I should have regretted not giving my friend
Fitzgerald the opportunity of making Hawkesbury’s acquaintance. In a few
days one will be going due north and the other due south, but I hope they
will meet again later on. Two more charming examples of the two species
of enthusiast it would be hard to find.”

“What do you call the two species?”

“The enthusiast of heat and the enthusiast of light: both are to me
equally beautiful, equally charming!”

“Mr. Hawkesbury, then,” she said, “is the enthusiast of heat? I have
never known any man so much in earnest as he is. He seems to understand
nothing but devotion or abhorrence; and yet how well he generally
conceals this from those whom he thinks unworthy of the knowledge of
it! His patience and courtesy have often astonished and filled me with
admiration. I have heard him arguing with a stupid opponent, and I have
heard him addressing a crowd. His self-restraint, his clearness, were
simply wonderful. Has he ever spoken to you of his friend and Master, as
he says,—James Holden?”

“No,” answered Gildea, “but I happen to have seen Holden myself.—But here
we are!”

Alcock from the deck and Maddock from the shore had assisted Mrs. Medwin
over the plank into the “Petrel,” and now Miss Medwin, after shaking
hands, expressing her regrets that he could not come, and saying good-bye
to Maddock, followed.

Mrs. Medwin, Miss Medwin, Alcock and Gildea gathered opposite Maddock,
with whom they talked while the ropes were being cast loose and the yacht
got ready for starting. Then, as she glided away, bending slightly as
the wind caught and filled her sails, Maddock took off his hat and stood
bare-headed, bowing and waving farewell.

A more charming day for such a trip, it would have been hard to choose.
The air was warmer than in the morning, but the breeze was still strong
enough to prevent the volumes of foul smoke which issued from the funnels
of the harbour steamers from polluting the air and spoiling the view.
The “Petrel” made straight for the main channel of the harbour in the
direction of the Heads.

While Gildea was away talking with his skipper about the arrangements
that had been made for the trip, the other three passengers moved about
looking at the yacht, praising and admiring its neatness and cleanness.
And it was worthy too both of the praise and admiration which they
bestowed on its general completeness, that namely of silence, and of
the praise and admiration which they who were skilled in such matters
bestowed on its sailing-powers.

Presently Gildea rejoined them, and the conversation flowed on lightly
and pleasantly.

“I notice,” said Miss Medwin, “that you carry very little gear up aloft.
Your masts too are unusually tall, are they not?”

Gildea gave a pleased smile.

“Yes,” he said, “they call her the ghost yacht at Cowes. I use as little
hempen rope as I can. When the great point is speed, every extra inch
that you give to the prise of the wind is of importance. The steel, you
see, does not offer half as much resistance as the ordinary hempen rope.
Besides which, I have in several cases done away with a rope altogether
where I believed one, if properly handled, could do for two.”

Miss Medwin, who knew the rigging and handling of a sailing-ship fairly
well, asked for an explanation of how one or two things were done, which
he gave her with a certain pleasure.

“And what,” she said, “do your sailors think of your alterations?”

He laughed.

“They say the Old Man—that is my name with them—”

“It is the name of all skippers with their sailors, is it not?” she asked

He assented.

“—They say, or rather used to say, that I had a twist that way. The
conservatism of sailors and builders as regards ships is quite wonderful.
Imagine that, when they came to build iron sailing ships instead of wood,
they actually had and have the stupidity to put up masts of the same
circumference as the old wooden ones, although thereby they gain no extra
strength, and expose square yards on yards needlessly to the prise of the
wind! I would venture to say that this alone makes a difference of three
or four knots per hour in a head wind to the speed of the vessel.”

Miss Medwin thought Gildea more charming in his capacity of intelligent
amateur captain than as consummate master of things social. They moved
down together towards the stern, and stood there talking and looking
forward. Mrs. Medwin and Alcock were standing together talking a little
way in front of them. Then Edgar appeared with seats and rugs, which he
offered to Mrs. Medwin and Alcock, who sat down, Mrs. Medwin with a rug
over her knees, and then came aft to the other two, who accepted two
chairs, but for the present remained standing as they talked.

Presently there came a pause in the conversation and Miss Medwin sat
down, Gildea following suit. The pause became a silence. At last he broke

“You have noticed,” he said, “how different is the effect on you of the
sea, in a steamer and in a boat?”

“Yes,” she said, “I have noticed it. The steamer goes its own determined
way, breaking its sympathy with winds and waters, and you—you are so high
up that you cannot mingle in the being of the spirits, the breathings of
their lips, the wavings of their hands, the tossings of their hair.”

“_Where_,” he said smiling,

    “_where the wild white horses play,_
    _champ and chafe and toss in the spray._”

She smiled in turn. She was looking before her across the sunny rolling
billows to where, against some high brown jagged rocks, the foam-mantle
of the breakers rose ever silently and fell. She was breathing in gently
and serenely the delight of the sea, the bright breeze, the movement of
the yacht, the divine blue free expansion of the clouds and skies. There
was a silence.

“You are not fond of steamers, then?” he asked with a side-look.

“No,” she said, “except in rough weather, and then I too feel the elation
of my kind,—the frail race of men which can yet dominate the winds and
waters and make their paths along the neck of the untameable sea.—You do
not know,” she added, leaving her extraneous delight for a moment and
looking at him with a touch of self-amusement, “you do not know how I
swell with pride when I watch a great man-of-war sailing on and on with
such serene confidence, dominating the expanse of water like a thing
of self-evident strength and beauty. I remember once making sand-forts
with some children in England in a little rock-girt cove, and suddenly
I looked up and there, almost filling our narrow horizon, was a great
white troop-ship passing close to the shore. It struck me quite dumb
for a moment; and then I began to applaud and shout like a Bacchant,
the children following suit.” She turned her face away again, laughing,
looking here and there, delighting again in what she felt and saw.

“You are a true daughter of kindly men,” he said, laughing too, all
suspicion of mockery passed away from look and tone. There was another
silence. Gildea was beginning to perceive in himself a feeling he had
never felt before, the feeling that he was in the presence and even in
the influence of a girl-woman, (such was the idea presented to him),
of a spiritual force as consummate as, but wholly differing from, his
own. In a few moments he had recognized this, and by a wonderful stroke
of intuition divined the meaning of it. It partook of the nature of a
revelation. He seemed to see all his past life in a new light. He felt
that she—she, this woman, this girl, this child here—had, by some unknown
wonderful means, won the true talisman of life, that talisman whose
omnipotence is perpetuity. It was, then, possible, after all, to combine
perfect knowledge of life with the radiant joy and peace of perfect trust
in it!—It partook of the nature of a revelation and, to second thoughts,
of a delusion. His lip curled: he almost despised himself for the swift
speed with which a suddenly begotten hope had leaped to a birth whose
form and pressure was but the mask of credulity. “There has been no man,”
he said to himself, “save Goethe, who knew what life was and yet could
have a weariless joy in it. Carlyle well said that this man was to have
no imitators or successors.—_Nostra vita a che val? solo a spregiarla._”
And yet the idea of a new life, a life wherein might be found something
more than sweet resignation, hedonistic merely or even optimistic,
but supplying thought, action, and speech with a motive-power whose
strength should be in its truth—the idea would not be shaken off by mere
self-contempt at credulity in it.

“To tell you the truth,” he said to her, “I could almost envy you your
pure free joy in things.”

She looked at him, surprise passing swiftly into serene observation.

“What troubles you,” she said, “that you should not have it yourself?”

He smiled slightly as he answered her.

“Pleasure, however sweet, however clear, is not joy.—And yet,” he added
quickly, “I would not change my pleasure for your joy.”


“A child has joy, a man has pleasure: joy, then, is a step backward. It
may excel in height, as we should say, but breadth is the finer quality.
The mountains are noble, but the sea, encompassing all lands, is great.”

“The sea also is deep, it has its valleys whose shadow is nadir to the
zenith peaks and light. I will not grant you your simile. You must not
mock at joy, for joy is the gift not only of childhood which precedes,
but of maturity which follows, manhood. I would sooner be a Christian and
have joy than a Heathen with only pleasure.”

“Christianity,” said Gildea, “is spiritual opium. You do not eat it?”

“No,” she said, “I see no use in drugs. But, as I said, I would sooner
take drugs that give me joy than live on meats and wines that only gave
me pleasure. Joy is mine, but pleasure is every one’s.”

“You had, then, once the temptation of drugs?”

“Yes,” she assented a little dreamily, “I had the temptation.—And yet,”
she added with a sudden return of interest, “it is wonderful how little
of _these_ drugs you can take, and live with energy and joy. Are the
lips of Monica pallid or her eyes stony? Theresa has a clear mind: she
can set her house in order. The songs and glories of the Creatures, do
they not pass purely and freely, as you say, through the lips of Saint

“True, but for us this aspect of the thing is past. The central trust in
the Christ-God is a skeletoned shadow, that the grate holds up a moment
beyond its time of falling in. You see it lying, a pile of shapeless ash,
and wonder it ever stood. The Mother of Love and Grief appears no more
save in the brilliant burning of distorted vision. It is a case of opium
or nothing!”

“You are right,” she said, “and so I saw it.”

“What, then, remains,” he asked, “but resignation? There is no joy in
patience. Nay, worse, there is little pleasure. I too take drugs, and
I have more than once thought that, if Fate had not kindly given me
the wherewithal to buy them, I should have ended the dreary business
for ever. What is the good of our life except to despise it? says
Leopardi. It is just bearable with drugs, but, without, I cannot think
it worth the bearing. Pure indifference keeps more of its high souls
alive now than the world wots of. They are careless of life, but they
are equally careless of death. They live merely waiting for chance to
kill them, or for life to become unendurable enough for them to care
to kill themselves. Such men are not miserable. Sometimes, it is true,
they suffer disgust; but they know nothing of despair, for despair means
illusion, and they have the truth. Sometimes, again they have pleasure.
But how, tell me, is it possible to have at once both truth and joy?”

“All this,” she said, “I too felt, and not so long ago—although I could
not have put it to myself so clearly. You, I think, have learned your
belief more by living than by reading: with me it was different. Before
I began properly to live,—to be free, that is, to examine and try
everything for myself,—I had arrived at my belief, and all my living has
only confirmed me in it.”

“_What_ is your belief?” he asked.

She smiled and shook her head.

“I will not try to tell it you explicitly,” she said, “for fear of
harming it. Analysis is a mistake, and now I have so long known this,
that I have little temptation to give way to it. You, it seems, have
tried to be a Heathen. You gave yourself up to the natural joy of your
youth and fortune, your health and strength and riches and powers, until
the joy turned to pleasure and the pleasure to almost pain. Then you went
for interest to the spiritual life of those about you, and again joy
turned to pleasure and pleasure to almost pain. But _you_—you were not
one that knew how to be resigned! You could not, as your great Master
could, add to the ‘Vanity of Vanities, all is vanity’ the ‘Fear God and
keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man.’ Far otherwise
with _you_, as you have told me, was ‘the conclusion of the whole

“And you?” he said with the tone of comrade to comrade, “and you?”

“I had a revelation. It took place in a London fog in front of a fire in
a little backroom where I had my books. And, as it were, scales fell from
my eyes, and I saw men as trees walking.” Gildea, the true arch-mocker,
for the first time in his life had to undergo the sensation of doubt
whether or no he was being mocked at.

“Well?” he said.

“Well, I was in a rather miserable state at the time. Someone to whom I
was attached had had to leave me. I was sick of trying to satisfy myself
with the life of pleasure as pleasure, and I had the temptation to take
spiritual drugs, for I felt an appalling loneliness of soul. I thought
that no one had ever looked at things as I felt I should like to look
at them, and I was at times almost afraid that I was suffering under a
delusion that might end in something very like madness. Then I had my
revelation. I found out that there had been a whole race whose central
belief was the one I was stretching out my arms to.”

“Greece?” said Gildea, “Greece?”

“Yes, Greece! Here I found were men who realized the secret of life, who
knew what Truth was. They looked at life as it was, and they saw calmly
and clearly that the butterfly’s life is enough for the butterfly, and
the man’s for the man. They took no spiritual opium as the Christians do:
they have no yearning love. They have not resignation as the Heathens
have, resignation that sullenly accepts the evil, or that brightly
determines to make the best of the good in things. They have better;
they have truth and light and joy! Take, then, your Christian Faith and
Love: your Heathen Trust and Hope: _I_ am a Pagan, and my care is Truth
and Light!—And I found,” she went on, “I found, after a time, that there
had been others in these later days that had looked, or striven to look
at things, as I did. Such was Goethe, such was Keats. With Goethe the
freedom of his Paganism was bought at a great price, but Keats was born
free. When Goethe recognised what it was to have been a Christian, to be
a Heathen, and to wish to be a Pagan, he renounced his past and present
with all the strength of his soul, and fixed his eyes resolutely on his
future. But he never won it—that is to say, as he had won the others. He
was never a Pagan as he was a Heathen or a Christian. The Second Part
of Faust is not like the First. It is not with impunity that we have
passed through the Christianity of Catholicism and the Heathenism of the
Renascence. A Dante or a Shakspere could not be shaken off by a Goethe,
and a Sophokles wholly put on. Is a great pagan soul possible yet? How
shall we say no with what Keats might have become before us?—Sometimes I
think,” she said a little dreamily, “that I am the only one of my time
who understood these great men; Goethe, the god of the Transition, Keats,
the Herakles of Modernity, strangled in his cradle by the serpents of
Hera! And, for either of them, I would readily have given my life.” ...

Mrs. Medwin turned round towards them, Alcock turning too, as if they had
reached a point in their conversation in which a break was expedient.
Then Mrs. Medwin and Alcock rose and came up to them.

“Is not the water exquisitely clear?” she said to Gildea, “It reminds me
of Capreae. It only wants the beautiful coral rocks.”

Gildea smilingly assented. He remembered a remark of Mrs. Medwin’s to the
effect that, as you approached Melbourne from the north, it was like the
bay of Naples with Vesuvius.

“Miss Medwin,” he said, with the smile changing on his face and becoming
sweet and radiant, “Miss Medwin has just been explaining to me a passage
from Goethe which I never understood.”

“Indeed?” said Mrs. Medwin, “I did not know you read German, Alice. Was
it a passage from Faust? I think Faust is very difficult, and I do not
understand the Second Part in the least.”

“No,” answered Gildea, “It was not from Faust.—

    Vom Halben zu entwöhnen;
    im Ganzen, Guten, Schönen
    resolut zu leben.”

“That is not very difficult, Sir Horace,” said Mrs. Medwin.

Gildea, in answer to the dumb look on Alcock’s face, who did not happen
to know German, translated it with courtesy:

“‘I resolved to wean myself,’” he said, “‘from halves, and to live for
the Whole, the Good, the Beautiful.’”

“And what does it _mean_?” asked Alcock.

“Ah,” answered Gildea smiling, “Miss Medwin must tell you that!”

                                                           _April, 1885._



[1] The remark is, of course, general. Most of Victoria, as we all know,
is unfortunately definitely sold.

[2] _Melbourne Review_, October, 1883. (No. 32.)

[3] _Victorian Review_, May, 1884. (No. 55).

[4] _Melbourne Review_, April, 1884. (No. 34).

[5] I may parenthetically remark that the idea that Gordon is buried
in St. Kilda Cemetery is incorrect, as my doing so may perhaps save
others from the trouble of a fruitless pilgrimage there, not to say an
examination of all the Cemetery books. He is buried in Brighton Cemetery.
The tombstone is a block of blue-stone, topped with a shattered column
crowned with a laurel-wreath. The four sides of the block have marble
tablets let into them, on which are severally written: “The Poet Gordon.
Died June 24, 1870, aged 37 years;” “Sea-Spray and Smoke-Drift;” “Bush
Ballads and Galloping Rhymes;” “Ashtaroth.” The Cemetery is wooded
and wild, the vegetation, including the grave-flowers, stragglingly
luxuriant. Not altogether an unfitting “sleeping place” for him.

[6] His little article on it in the _Contemporary Review_ is a mere

[7] _Victorian Review_, February, 1885, in a series of articles on
contemporary English poets.

[8] It is gratifying to notice at the Technological Museum, where one
would least expect it, the number of sunday visitors more than halves
that of all the other days put together.

[9] A volume of his, in which is included his “Miscellaneous Poems” and
“Convict Once,” has lately appeared—at last another book, out of so much
of this hopelessly worthless colonial literature, which counts!

[10] Three of Miss Ironsides’ pictures were, when I was in Sydney, housed
in a sort of shed behind the temporary Picture Gallery. On one side of
it the windows were open to the dust and rain! One of the pictures, the
“Ars Longa, Vita Brevis,” was much spoiled; another, the “Adoration of
the Magi,” a little. I did what I could to alter this state of affairs,
but I could do nothing. The Trustees do not know to whom the pictures
belong, and there is not room enough in the Gallery, as it is, for even
the purchased pictures. Perhaps when these three pictures are permanently
spoiled, something will be done. For me, I must confine myself to
pointing out the wonderful depth of quiet feeling which is the chief
characteristic of the work of this remarkable girl. This is to be noticed
most in the “Marriage” picture and the “Ars Longa.” At the same time
there is something of passionate—of passion suppressed, but none the less
existent and strong, which adds a peculiar flavour and attraction to her
work. The mother’s face in the “Adoration” and the girl playing on the
harp in the “Marriage” are really beautiful in thought and execution.
For pure execution, however, I would direct attention to the drapery of
the angel in the former picture, or, in a particular shape, the thorns
in the “Ars Longa.” I suppose that there is such a plethora of work like
this of Miss Ironsides’ in both Sydney and Melbourne that only one or two
mentally impoverished people like myself can be expected to trouble about
it, and it is in the hope of attracting the attention of one or two such
that I write this. There are, however, three pictures by Mr. Folingsby in
the Melbourne Gallery which would, I am sure, look quite nice in one of
our new æsthetically furnished hotels, Mr. Hosie’s (say) or the Grand,
and then perhaps someone might put Miss Ironsides’ in their places. This
would be a gain for both the Hotels and the Gallery.

[11] Crescat et proficiat tam singulorum quam omnium, tam unius hominis
quam totius Ecclesiæ, Intelligentia Scientia Sapientia.

[12] “In Memoriam,” cxiv.

[13] In the Land Act that came into force in March, 1885.

                    WILLIAM INGLIS AND CO., PRINTERS,
                          FLINDERS STREET EAST.

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