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AUTHORS AND I 



BY THE SAME AUTHOR 

THE ENCHANTED STONE 
LIFE S LITTLE THINGS 
LIFE S LESSER MOODS 
ADVENTURES AMONG PICTURES 
DAYS WITH VELASQUEZ 
DAYS IN CORNWALL 
AUGUSTUS SAINT GAUDENS 
THE EDUCATION OF AN ARTIST 
THE DIARY OF A LOOKER-ON 
TURNER S GOLDEN VISIONS 
REMBRANDT 

THE POST IMPRESSIONISTS 
BRABAZON: His Art and Life 
THE CONSOLATIONS OF A CRITIC 
THE SOLDIER BOY 
THE INVISIBLE GUIDE 
WHAT S FREEDOM? 
THINGS SEEN IN AMERICA 
ART AND I 
ETC., ETC. 



AUTHORS AND I 



BY C. LEWIS HIND 

AUTHOR OP "A*T AND I," 
"THE POST IMPRESSIONISTS," 
"AUGUSTUS SAINT GAUDENS," ETC. 



NEW YORK : JOHN LANE COMPANY 
LONDON : JOHN LANE, THE BODLEY HEAD 

M, MXXl 



COPYRIGHT, igao, 
BY JOHN LANE COMPANY 



Press of 

J. J. Little & Ives Company 
New York, U. S. A. 



r\ 

m 



TO THE READER 

Why this book was written will be found at the 
end. The authors are arranged alphabetically. So 
Henry Adams begins and William Butler Yeats 
completes the list. Then I come in. 

C. L. H. 




CONTENTS 

1. Henry Adams 

2. Sherwood Anderson 

3. Gabriel e LfAnnunsio 

4. William Waldorf Astor 
- 5. /. M. Barric 

6. Max Bccrbohm 39 

7. Hilaire Belloc 45 
a Arnold Bennett 50 
9. G. K. Chesterton 56 

10. Joseph Conrad 61 

11. Kenyon Cox 65 

12. Stephen Crane 7 

13. William Henry Davies 75 

14. Richard Harding Davis So 

15. /oJm Drinkuvter 86 

16. Lorrf Dunsany 9* 

17. 7oA Galsworthy 95 

18. Edmund Gosse 99 

19. Kenneth Grahame 104 
ao. T/ir Grossmiths 108 

21. Thomas Hardy 114 

22. Brr/ //or/^ "9 

23. /o/in Hoy 124 

24. W. E. Hfnlty 130 

vii 



viii Contents 

PAGE 

25. " O. Henry " 136 

26. Maurice Hewlett 142 

27. /0/w Oliver Hobbes 147 

28. TVi? Ho us mans 152 

29. William Dean Howells 157 

30. Henry James K 

31. Kudyard Kipling 

32. Andrew Lang 171 

33. William }. Locke 177 

34. . F. Lwra.? 182 

35. Maurice Maeterlinck 189 

36. Edwin Mark ham 195 

37. 70/rn Mascficld 201 

38. George Meredith 206 

39. Leonard Merrick 212 

40. /4/iV* Mcyncll 217 

41. Stephen Phillips 223 
. George Moore 229 

43. /o/w Morley 234 

44. Walter Pater 239 

45. /I. 7\ Qiiiller-Couch 246 
. Siegfried Sassoon 252 

47. George Bernard Shaw 256 

48. /. C. SwaM 262 

49. Robert Louis Stevenson 267 

50. Francis Thompson 273 

51. Tolstoy 280 

52. HwpA Walpole 283 

53. A/rr. Humphry Ward 289 

54. William Watson 294 
55- // C. H^/fc 300 



Contents ix 

PAGE 

56. Edith Wharton 306 

57. Walt Whitman 3 2 
5a W. B. Yeats 318 

59. My First Book 3*5 

60. My Latest Book: This One & 



AUTHORS AND I 



AUTHORS AND I 



1. HENRY ADAMS 

D I ever see Henry Adams? We may have 
met, for he was a cosmopolitan. London, 
Paris, Rome and Chartres were as familiar to him 
as Boston. He may have been the man I saw 
at a London reception in intimate talk with John 
Hay, and I paused to watch the pair because here 
were two men engrossed in that rare thing real 
conversation. 

The legend of Henry Adams has long been familiar. 
At Chartres you can hardly fail to strike his initiate 
trail ; in that grove at Rock Creek Cemetery, Wash 
ington, where the Figure by Augustus Saint Gau- 
dens sits in the aura of a silent question you are 
in the presence of this visionary man, for it was he 
who inspired the Figure. Yes, the legend of Henry 
Adams is insistent, but the man eludes. Those who 
were so fortunate as to be able to borrow a copy of 
the privately printed (1904) "Mont-Saint-Michel 
and Chartres: A Study of Thirteenth Century 
Unity" realised that here was an author who 
counted, an unprofessional writer, a questioner, a 
scholar with humour and tang, a quintessential Bos- 
13 



14 Authors and I 

tonian, who made the world of thought his city, 
and who, strange to say, was born and bred in the 
same land that produced Mr. Woolworth of the 5 
and 10 cent stores. 

In 1906 a sequel to the "Mont-Saint-Michel and 
Chartres" was privately printed to the number of 
100 copies under the title, "The Education of Henry 
Adams: A Study of Twentieth Century Multi 
plicity." In 1918 this book was given to the world 
under the title, "The Education of Henry Adams: 
An Autobiography." 

He was the most modest of men, probably the most 
aggressively modest man of the century. His modesty 
was so modest that it blossomed into a rare flower 
of vanity, a vanity that a casuist would find it 
extremely difficult to diagnose or to condemn. Yet 
Henry Adams was modest, and self-depreciatory to a 
degree that almost amounts to genius. What then 
would have been his amazement if he could have 
known that in 1919 his "Education," which he 
never even regarded as a finished work, was, ex 
cluding novels, "a best seller." It appeared in every 
list in the Books in Demand at Public Libraries and 
it usually came first. 

Henry Adams a popular author! What a chapter 
he could have added to his autobiography on this 
amazing piece of news! Yet there must be many 
people who have begun it and never found the 
end. I can count half a dozen acquaintances who 
have failed to reach the last chapter. They are not 
readers ; they have not learnt how to read. He who 
perseveres and peruses the last three chapters must 



Henry Adams 15 

at once read them again and again. The book is 
supposed to be a record of failure. But what is 
failure? If it be failure to leave to the world the 
Rock Creek Figure and this "Education" then the 
meaning of the word failure will have to be entirely 
changed. 

I am amazed at his power of character drawing, not 
only of men but also of inanimate things (so we call 
them) as the magnet, the compass, the dynamo, and 
also at his eloquent analysis of the convulsion of 
310 when the Civitas Dei cut itself loose from the 
Civitas Romae, and the Cross took the place of the 
legions." 

How fresh is the account, how un jaded, of his first 
meeting with Swinburne. 

It happened in the year 1862. Henry Adams, then 
private secretary to his father, who was Ambassador 
to Great Britain, was invited to a week-end bachelor 
gathering at Fryston, the Yorkshire place of Monck- 
ton Milnes, afterward Lord Houghton. One of the 
guests was a young man, "a tropical bird, high- 
crested, long-beaked, quick moving, with rapid utter 
ance and screams of humour, quite unlike any Eng 
lish lark or nightingale." This was Algernon 
Charles Swinburne. In the course of the evening 
Milnes "thought it time to bring Swinburne out." 
And out he came, to such an extent that he held 
the company spellbound till far into the night. No 
one in my experience, says Adams, ever approached 
the rush of his talk his incredible memory, his 
knowledge of literature, classic, mediaeval and mod 
ern; "his faculty of reciting a play of Sophocles 



1 6 Authors and I 

or a play of Shakespeare, forward or backward from 
end to beginning; or Dante, or Villon or Victor 
Hugo." These men of the world knew not what 
to make of Swinburne s rhetorical recitation of his 
own unpublished ballads "Faustine," "The Ballad 
of Burdens," which he declaimed as though they 
were books of the "Iliad." 

Monckton Milnes, and Sterling of Keir, afterward 
Sir William Sterling-Maxwell, who was one of the 
party, regarded Swinburne as a prodigy and 
descanted on the wild Walpurgisnight of his talk. 
That night was Swinburne s dress rehearsal, a fore 
taste of his uncanny power of intellectual perform 
ance. He was yet to prove himself. "Queen 
Mother and Rosamund" had been published, but 
"Poems and Ballads," which made him famous, was 
still in the press. 

Years and years later when the poet was living with 
Theodore Watts-Dunton at The Pines, an ugly 
suburban villa at the foot of Putney Hill, we hero 
worshippers would linger on the hill to watch the 
fierce little poet taking his fierce morning consti 
tutional up to Wimbledon Common. An invitation 
to a Saturday evening dinner at The Pines was not 
difficult to obtain. All one had to do was to be 
properly humble and appreciative to Theodore 
Watts-Dunton at one of the important private views 
of pictures which he rarely missed. Did Swinburne, 
I wonder, in after years remember the shy young 
American private secretary that wild Walpurgis- 
night at Fryston when he was snubbed by the 
flaming poet for admiring Alfred de Musset? An- 



Henry Adams 17 

other member of that famous party was Laurence 
Oliphant, author of "Piccadilly," and a contributor 
"like all the young men about the Foreign Office" 
to "The Owl." Here is Adams on Oliphant: "He 
teemed exceptionally sane and peculiarly suited for 
country houses, where every man would enjoy his 
company, and every woman would adore him." 
Later in life Kipling flashed across the path of 
Henry Adams, who in his declining years was still 
passionately seeking education and who saw no hope 
of ever earning a living. He did not seem to realise 
that he was earning it beautifully, and bountifully 
giving away to posterity all he earned. Thanks 
to the mediation of Henry James he met the author 
of "Barrack Room Ballads" on a voyage to America, 
and Kipling dashed over Henry Adams who "the 
more he was educated, the less he understood" 
"his exuberant fountain of gaiety and wit as 
though playing a garden hose on a thirsty and faded 
begonia." 

Adams saw many people: he saw most people of 
importance: he saw Abraham Lincoln "at the mel 
ancholy function called an Inaugural Ball, ... a 
long, awkward figure; a plain, ploughed face; a 
mind absent in part, and in part evidently worried 
by white kid gloves." 

And Adams would sit in the grove at Rock Creek 
and listen to the comments of the visitors upon 
Augustus Saint Gaudens Figure. None felt, he 
ttys, what would have been a nursery-instinct to a 
Hindu baby or a Japanese jinrickisha runner. He 
himself supposed its meaning to be the one common- 



1 8 Authors and I 

place about it the oldest idea known to human 
thought. Yet he does not tell us what the meaning 
is. So the world will continue to guess. But he 
does say that the interest of the Figure is not in its 
meaning, but in the response of the observer. 
If the American Academy of Letters crowned a 
book in the manner of the French Academy the 
choice would surely fall upon "The Education of 
Henry Adams." I would say that it is the out 
standing American work of the Twentieth Century, 
the swan song of the failure of culture as an end, 
and not as a means. It is the most egoistic of 
books, and writing it in the third person does not 
in the least efface the ego which was Adams aim. 
It is entirely self-centred and intellectually entirely 
delightful. 

Only Bostonians can understand Bostonians, says 
Henry Adams. Well, he must be a dull foreigner 
who, after reading this rare Autobiography, fails 
to understand this rare Bostonian. If an author, 
however talented, never emerges from the thought 
of his own education, he is quite apt to find the 
world a place which "sensitive and timid natures 
regard with a shudder." 

Henry Adams could appreciate exuberant buoyan 
cies like the young Rudyard Kipling, but after the 
contact he would at once glide back into the easy 
grooves of his uneasy shell. 



2. SHERWOOD ANDERSON 

IN America Walt Whitman in verse and Wins- 
low Homer in painting stand apart, above, 
fixed two great forces. They arc racial; they are 
America. The New England school, which in 
cluded and includes so many fine writers, carried 
on and carries on, with variations, the English 
tradition. 

The alphabetical progression, used in this book, 
makes Sherwood Anderson follow Henry Adams. 
That is curious and interesting. These two rep 
resent the two Americas the static and the dynam 
ic, the past and the future. 

The twentieth century men, chiefly novelists and 
poets, who have surged up from the west and the 
middle west, are akin to Walt Whitman and Wins- 
low Homer; but they are rougher, more amazed, 
more confused by the growth and spread of towns, 
and the boundless activities of the hustlers and the 
hustled. They are entirely racial, bred of the soil: 
their themes are the big rough men who are doing 
big rough things in big ways. Their material is 
so vast and complex that they have hardly yet had 
time to consider the niceness of style. They are 
hewers, grabbers: they rarely pick and choose: they 
have strength but little daintiness or delicacy. They 
are what they should be. They are pioneers. They 
19 



2O Authors and I 

symbol the America that is to be. Figures like 
Anatole France and Matthew Arnold belong to 
another century, another world. 
When I first read Sherwood Anderson s "Marching 
Men" I knew at once that he is a man to watch. 
There is something prophetical in his vision of the 
brotherhood and solidarity of man typified by the 
sound of feet, marching in step, rhythmically, with 
a purpose. Again and again in recent years when 
organisations have loomed up, seemingly resistless 
because of their solidarity, have I thought of his 
"Marching Men" and McGregor, the forceful, 
illiterate hero. I wish that Anderson could have 
kept this book by him for ten years; I wish that 
he had not followed the advice of friends and cut 
down the latter part before publication. It falls 
away toward the end ; his grasp of the subject, so 
firm at the beginning, loosens. But it is a remark 
able study of a personality emerging from crude con 
ditions and raw men, envisaging how to herd and 
lead, and well, read "Marching Men." 
An Englishman could not have written "Windy 
McPherson s Son," his first book. It is pure Amer 
ican, middle-west American, this story of a news 
boy who, with no help but his wits and grit, be 
came a millionaire, and then finds that he is a 
man with a hunger for other things. Chicago, 
pushing ahead, Chicago in the making, splurges 
through this rough but reasoned story, this 
Odyssey of a westerner (so different from 
the method advocated by Dr. Samuel Smiles), to 
be followed by the discovery that there is something 



Sherwood Anderson 21 

better beyond the horizon. It was a Chicago 
critic, Floyd Dell, who read the manuscript and 
hailed its merits. He tried to find a publisher for 
it in New York, failed, sent it to London, where 
"Windy McPherson s Son" was promptly accepted 
by John Lane. He cabled to his firm in New York 
to sign a contract with Sherwood Anderson for 
three books. 

The second was "Marching Men," the third was 
"Mid-American Chants." This is not his most 
popular book a chant has small chance against a 
tale but it may be his most significant, his most 
self-expressive book. It is in free verse: it is in the 
Whitman tradition: it could not be in anything else; 
and the Foreword explains just why it is so. Here 
is an extract: 

"I do not believe that we people of mid-western 
America, immersed as we are in affairs, hurried and 
harried through life by the terrible engine indus 
trialism have come to the time of song. . . . We 
do not sing, but mutter in the darkness. Our 
lips are cracked with dust and with the heat of 
furnaces. We but mutter and feel our way toward 
the promise of song. ... In secret a million men 
and women are trying, as I have tried here, to 
express the hunger within. . . ." 
And here is a scrap from the chant called 

CHICAGO 

"I am a child, a confused child in a confused world. 
There are no clothes made that fit me. The minds 
of men cannot clothe me. Great projects arise 



22 Authors and I 

within me. I have a brain and it is cunning and 
shrewd. 

"I am a little thing, a tiny little thing on the vast 
prairies. I know nothing. My mouth is dirty. I 
cannot tell what I want. My feet are sunk in the 
black, swampy land, but I am a lover. I love life. 
In the end love shall save me." 
His fourth book was "Winesburg, Ohio," a group 
of tales of Ohio small town life. "The Spoon 
River Anthology," by Edgar Lee Masters, dealt 
with the past. The tales in "Winesburg" deal 
with the present and the future. These studies, 
direct, uncompromising, might stand for any small, 
growing industrial town in America. They are 
documents; a hundred years hence they will have 
a great historical value. They cry out against con 
ditions: they seek escape, they move. 
How did this middle westerner come to writing? 
He began late; he wrote as a relief, an escape from 
conditions. He was and is a business man who 
writes in trains, at night-time, anywhere, any time 
when he can find a spare hour. Like other western 
boys he has turned his hand to many things (see 
"Windy MacPherson s Son"), but his chief success 
is in the advertising world; his mind bustles. I 
am told that the "trade," when you ask about him, 
say: "Sherwood Anderson oh, yes, he s bright, 
humming with ideas makes stories too." 
A remote ancestor was Major Anderson of Fort 
Sumter: a nearer ancestor was Governor of Ohio. 
Who can tell how the arts touched this family, and 
with such dissimilarity? Karl Anderson, the artist, 



Sherwood Anderson 23 

is his elder brother. Clyde, Ohio, is their home 
town. A third brother, Earl, might have been a 
painter had he cared ; he is now in the United States 
Navy. 

Sherwood was a forceful, pushful boy, "jobby and 
swatty," turning his hand to anything, making a 
living anyhow from selling the Cincinnati Inquirer 
to working on a farm; from a cold-storage job in 
Chicago to managing a baseball team. He enlisted 
for the Spanish-American War: he was one of those 
who policed Cuba. Then he went to Wittenberg 
College; he was a good debater, and leader of the 
college always, you see, a go-ahead fellow; soon 
he drifted into advertising and writing. At this 
moment he is in Alabama finishing a novel. 
I saw him last in his brother s studio. The talk 
about art and life was fierce. Sherwood was restless 
because he wanted to read us a short story he had 
just finished. At a late hour we succumbed. It 
was a fine story and he read it wonderfully, ham 
mering the points at us, standing. I reflected that 
the authors I know in Hampstead, Middlesex, never 
read their stories aloud. They endeavour to convey 
the idea (this is camouflage) that their stories are 
not worth reading and hardly worth writing. That 
is the way of authors in Hampstead, Middlesex. In 
Winesburg, Ohio, authors are different. 



3. GABRIELE D ANNUNZIO 

SOON after the beginning of the present century 
I happened to be in Italy. Arriving at Venice 
I instructed a gondolier to convey me to the Hotel 
Danieli, which, as everybody knows, has an Anglo- 
Saxon savour. I was tired of macaroni and Italian 
newspapers: my system called for a chop and the 
Times. 

I chose a secluded seat in the dining-room and was 
waiting patiently for my chop a la Edward VII 
when a party of Italians noisily entered and seated 
themselves at an adjoining table. They were talking 
all at once, and wildly, as they approached ; and 
they continued to talk all at once, and wildly, as 
they tucked their napkins into the space between the 
neck and the collar ; they talked on without cessation. 
Realising that my fancy for an evening of Anglo- 
Saxon savour would not be gratified, I amused my 
self by awaiting an answer to the sporting question 

-"How long can they keep it up?" 
I am not so foolish as to approve or disapprove of 
Anglo-Saxon taciturnity, or to approve or disapprove 
of Italian vivacity. Each is indigenous, racial. But 
listening (I could not help overhearing; as one 
cannot avoid, on an August night, overhearing the 
crickets) to those voluble Italians I felt how much 
more intense a social pleasure the Latin derives from 
24 



Gabriele D Annunzio 25 

life than the Anglo-Saxon. They talked as if talk 
ing mattered ; they scattered ideas, they flashed com 
ments, they behaved to each other as if each had 
something to contribute to art and life. Soon they 
were talking about the flowers that decorated their 
table. My meagre knowledge of Italian told me 
that, even if they had not handled the blossoms 
and expatiated upon their beauty. One of the party, 
dropping into English, spoke of "savage flowers." 
Not until the next morning did I realise that he 
meant wild flowers. Soon the conversation turned 
to poetry, and I caught the names Tasso and 
Carducci. When they spoke of Carducci all turned 
to a slight, short, animated bald-headed man who 
sat at the head of the table. Throughout the 
evening they had paid him especial deference, but 
with the name of Carducci he seemed suddenly to 
assume the role of a king, and he talked, oh, how 
he talked! I have never heard anything like it. 
I should not have thought that the human mentality 
could fashion thoughts so quickly, or that human 
lips could utter them so rapidly. It was wonderful, 
and it was like music such cadences, such spasms 
of prose melody. The soup passed, the fish came, 
and still he talked. Once I thought that no utter 
ance was so musically rapid as Sarah Bcrnhardt s. 
But he beat her. I forgot my chop, I forgot my 
Times, I beckoned the waiter, one of those polyglot 
people who speak no language, but something of 
every tongue. 

"Who is he?" I whispered. "Do you know?" 
The waiter looked at me curiously, patronisingly 



26 Authors and I 

as the Irish policeman looked when I asked him 
which was Boston Common and answered, "He 
with the bald head and the (his fingers pantomimed 
the upword turn of fierce moustachios) he? That 
is d Annunzio the great Gabriele d Annunzio." 
Many years have passed since then, and during the 
period I have acquainted myself, indifferently well, 
with the novels, plays and poems of Gabriele 
d Annunzio. Frankly, if I had consulted my own 
choice, I do not suppose that I should ever have 
opened a book by him. Amorists do not interest 
me, and although I fully admit the literary skill and 
subtlety of "II Trionfo del Morte," of "Le Vergini 
delle Rocce," of "II Piacere," which have all been 
translated into English, they do not please me; 
worse, they are unpleasant. To me they narrowed 
life, they exaggerated bits and left whole tracts 
much more interesting, untouched, unexplored. It 
was like being confined in a small, overheated room 
heavy with perfume. I remembered, when I re 
turned "II Trionfo del Morte" to the library, a 
copy of "Tom Jones" happened to be lying on the 
table. I turned the pages, inhaled drafts of whole 
some air and swept out into tracts of broad human 
ity. I took the book to a chair, and at the end of 
an hour d Annunzio, in spite of his amazing gifts 
of analysis and his power of word painting, was 
forgotten. 

To follow a course of d Annunzio with a course of 
George Eliot is to understand the difference between 
the Latin and the Anglo-Saxon. I am not proud, 



Gabriel c D Annunzio 27 

I hope that I do not consider myself better than 
anybody else, but, nevertheless 

I thank the goodness and the grace 
That on my birth has smiled 
And made me in this troubled place 
An Anglo-Saxon child. 

Why, then, the reader may ask, trouble about 
d Annunzio why not spend your leisure time with 
George Eliot, Mrs. Humphrey Ward, and Kate 
Douglas Wiggin? The answer is that the true 
Bookman is international. He must know some 
thing about letters everywhere, and it would be 
mere stupidity to ignore one whose reputation as 
an artist is as great as his notoriety as a man. Of 
him a countrywoman has said: "For thirty years 
Europe has been aghast at d Annunzio s escapades, 
which have served to make him the arch-type of the 
decadent superman of the 1890 s." This may have 
served as a description of him before the war, but 
his daring and heroism as an airman revealed a new 
side in d Annunzio. He, a man past middle age, 
rose to be one of the first airmen of the day, and, 
as if that were not enough, he astounded, and 
secretly, against their judgment, ingratiated the 
world with the wild adventure of Fiume. 
When that folly was at its height I picked from a 
friend s shelves his "La Figlia di Jorio," a pastoral 
thirteenth century tragedy which was issued in Eng 
lish in 1907, thinking that I would make one more 
brave attempt to be captured by Gabriele d Annun 
zio. No. I went labouriously through it. I 



28 Authors and I 

yawned. And having finished it I turned for relief 
and reward to a re-reading of John Drinkwater s 
"Abraham Lincoln." 

Next day a piece of good fortune befell me. I met 
an Italian-American, now an American citizen, who 
has been living in the United States for twenty 
years. I unburdened myself to him about Gabriele 
d Annunzio; I explained to him how the pastoral 
tragedy "La Figlia de Jorio" had wearied me. He 
smiled, he brushed away my anxieties. "It s a sheer 
waste of time," he said, "to read d Annunzio in Eng 
lish. His plots are nothing, his characterisations are 
on one string only. It is for his language we read 
him, his magical Italian, his cunning use of words, 
his mastery of rhythm, his gift of resuscitating old 
forms of verse and inventing new ones. Why in 
Tuoco it is calculated that he has added a thousand 
words to the current Italian vocabulary. I read 
him with delight, as you read Swinburne, for the 
sound, not for the sense. He ought never to have 
been translated. You can t translate d Annunzio. 
It s absurd. Apart altogether from his work as poet, 
playwright and novelist, there is the man himself. 
You can t place him; you can t describe him. He 
seems to be compounded of flame, of fire that 
nothing can quench. Why was the Italian Govern 
ment lenient with him about the Fiume escapade? 
Because everybody in Italy knows how much the 
country owes to him. His fiery speeches, rhetoric 
you would call them, brought Italy into the war; his 
Laudi, songs in praise of Italy, roused his country 
men to fervour; and what episode of the war was 



Gabriele D* Annunzio 29 

more magnificent than his flight to Vienna? He was 
the leader of the escadrille; he hovered over the 
city; he swooped low and dropped his leaflets. He 
had written them himself in his impassioned prose. 
The leaflets said: We might have dropped bombs; 
we drop messages of warning, we airmen, we poets. 
Oh, yes, I know all about him, his wildness, his way 
wardness, his wil fulness, but he is a great poet and 
a great man. Blame him as you wish, like or dislike 
him, but for pity s sake don t read him in English. 
And if ever you have the chance just hear him 
talk." 

Thinking it all over, I was fortunate in dropping 
in to dinner at the Hotel Danieli, Venice, one night 
at the beginning of the present century. In future, 
when anybody says to me "Have you read Gabriele 
d Annunzio s latest?" I shall reply "No, but I 
have heard him talk." 



4. WILLIAM WALDORF ASTOR 

IN July, 1919, American newspapers proclaimed 
the following in bold headlines "Viscount 
Astor Goes into Seclusion. Former American in 
Mystery House at Brighton, England, Bars All 
Callers." Then followed the article, "a good 
story," clever journalism, inaccurately accurate, and 
all that. 

This fal-lal of news, flashed by cable, omnivorously 
read, merely meant that an elderly gentleman, bored 
by society, as are most of us, had taken a house at 
Brighton, one of the healthiest places in England, 
and was there engaged in cultivating his garden. 
That venerable phrase meant, in this case, pursuing 
literature. Others have done this without troubling 
the cable, or making any particular stir in the 
world; but William Waldorf Astor, a British peer, 
with the pleasant title of Viscount Astor of Hever 
Castle, had the misfortune to be one of the richest 
men in the world; so his harmless occupation of 
cultivating literature, with the ordinary safeguards, 
encouraged some lively journalist to flash the words 
"Mystery House" across the Atlantic. Also to in 
form Americans (it was naughty of William Wal 
dorf to become a British citizen) that a formidable 
person, something between a gamekeeper and a 
family retainer, "parades before the Mystery 
30 



William Waldorf Astor 31 

House/ to warn off callers." Surely, reader, that 
is what you and I would do if we could afford it. 
Boat owners at Coney Island and Yarmouth Sands 
also warn off callers but they can afford to issue 
their warning cheaply: they merely write on the 
inside of their boats when drawn up for hire "Keep 
out ! This means you !" 

Viscount Astor of Hever was not gregarious. Few 
millionaires are. His public appearances were few 
after he became a British subject, and of the crowds 
who frequent the sea front at Brighton or the few 
who visit the purlieus of the Tudor village that he 
aimed to create around Hever Castle, probably not 
5 per cent knew that the tall Solitary, engrossed in 
reflections, indifferent to passers-by, very lonely, was 
Lord Astor. And perhaps not 1 per cent knew that 
he was a man of letters or would have been if he 
could. 

Writing was always his hobby, and the hobby of 
a millionaire is a serious matter. When I, in an 
editorial capacity, knew him, now some years syne, 
I was aware that he always had some literary work 
on hand, usually stories, long and short. The life of 
today presumably did not interest him: in each of 
his literary efforts his mind rolled back a few hun 
dred or a few thousand years, and he produced 
literature garbed in what was known in the nineties 
as Wardour Street English. Lest his fellow mil 
lionaires may think I am romancing, I beg to cull 
from "Who s Who" a list of William Waldorf s 
literary productions: "Valentino, a Story of 
Rome"; "Sorza, a Historical Romance of the Six- 



32 Authors and I 

teenth Century in Italy"; "Pharaoh s Daughter, and 
Other Stories." 

Parts of the longer books I have read and some of 
the shorter stories, and I frankly admit that they 
did not carry me off my feet; but neither do the 
romances of William Morris. Lord Astor had not 
the antient knack of Maurice Hewlett, who defi 
antly refuses to allow us to be bored by the past. 
But Mr. Hewlett can also write vividly of the 
present. That, I imagine, was impossible to Lord 
Astor. His heart was in a leisurely world of long 
ago: his heart was in the Hever Castle recreated 
to look as it looked in Tudor times. 
Yet it was ordained that this medievalist who left 
America to be quiet (so they say) should have been 
the cause of one of the most revolutionary and 
exciting affairs in London journalism. 
The Pall Mall Gazette, still running, has a long, 
honourable and versatile career. It has been in 
many a skirmish, many a fight. In 1893 a bomb 
fell. The bomb was in the shape of a letter from 
the proprietor announcing that he had sold the 
Gazette and the Budget. The name of the buyer 
was not disclosed. For months he was the journal 
istic dark horse of the day; but it was whispered 
that he had unlimited wealth, that he was de 
termined to make the Gazette and the Budget the 
most wonderful daily and weekly of the period, 
and that he was going to add to them a monthly 
the Pall Mall Magazine. 

Mystery enwrapped the enrolment of the staff. 
They were engaged by a handsome lawyer and a 



William Waldorf Astor 33 

handsomer financier; they were handsomely paid 
and told not to talk; but the principals were bid 
den to Carlton House Terrace, where a sedate 
butler conducted them into the presence of Henry 
Cockayne Cust, Member of Parliament, with a 
dashing maiden speech to his credit, heir to the 
Earldom of Brownlow, and one of the most tal 
ented and charming young men of the day. He 
announced himself as the new editor of the Pall 
Mall Gazette, and he asked me if I would be editor 
of the Pall Mall Budget; he spoke of wonderful 
new offices, amazing new printing machines, a pro 
gram to beat the band, and he let out that the dark 
horse was the Hon. William Waldorf Astor of 
America. 

Those were days. Money was no object. The 
editors of the three publications could spend what 
they liked. They did. They reveled in the novelty 
of seeking the best and buying it. And periodically 
each of the editors paid a ceremonious visit to the 
proprietor. The invitation was issued by Mr. 
Astor s confidential solicitor, the day and hour 
named, and punctually the editor presented himself 
at the palatial and beautiful offices of the Astor 
estate, which had been erected upon the Thames 
Embankment, the choicest site, adjoining the 
Temple. With due ceremony, handed on from 
grave factotum to grave factotum, the editor was 
conducted into tRe Presence, to be commended or 
chided, and to receive instructions. One of the 
editors (I was he), alarmed at the gigantic nature 
of a journalistic scheme propounded by the proprie- 



34 Authors and I 

tor, blurted out: "But that will cost a vast deal 
of money, sir." There was a pause; then I was 
vouchsafed this answer, quite friendly, but scornful 
and final: "Pray, sir, who pays the bill?" 
The publications had a brilliant life of a few years. 
Today only the Pall Mall Gazette remains, and it 
now belongs to another. If Lord Astor s books did 
not have the circulation of Nat Gould s, at least 
he had the satisfaction of knowing that he played 
a hand, dour, domineering, and unprecedented, in 
the journalism of the nineties. 
Many books have since been published that had 
their origin in the Gazette, the Budget, and the 
Magazine Stevenson, Kipling, Wells and last 
year, so long after, there was issued from the press 
another "Occasional Poems by Henry Cust, edi 
tion of 450 copies." 

I think he was the first editor to publish a poem 
daily in his newspaper, and certainly he was the 
first editor, and perhaps the last, to show his readers 
that an editor s poems can be better than the others. 
They were unsigned. But we knew who wrote 
them Harry Cust, editor and poet ! Viva adhuc et 
desiderio pulcriora Living still and more beautiful 
because of our longing. 



5. J. M. BARRIE 

HE gives his address as Kirriemuir, Scotland, 
and his club as the Athenaeum. That is like 
hi m ~to say that he lives in the wee Scots village 
where he was born, which he has made famous; and 
to link with Kirriemuir membership of the most 
exclusive club in London. Everybody, of course, 
knows that he lives in the Adelphi Terrace over 
looking the Thames, and that his real club is the 
nursery of any house. 

I saw him first many years ago when he took the 
call, with his collaborator Marriot Watson, at the 
end of the performance of "Richard Savage," his 
solitary failure, and I believe the only time that he 
has bowed acknowledgments before the curtain. It 
was not a good play there was little of the real 
Barrie in it, and little of the real Marriot Watson. 
I have forgotten all about "Richard Savage," but 
I remember the authors distinctly. Marriot Wat 
son is an Australian, tall and burly, with a fuzzy- 
wuzzy shock of hair, who looks as if he could, like 
Milo the Cretonian, slay an ox with his fist and eat 
it at one meal: Barrie is a little man, shy-looking 
and dark, with black hair, a dome-like forehead, 
pale as ivory, and eyes that look as if they always 
want to escape from what he is doing. He reached 
to Marriot Watson s shoulder: they held hands and 
35 



3 6 Authors and I 

tried to bow: they looked miserable; then the cur 
tain mercifully released them. 
Barrie as a man is elusive. You hardly know when 
he is in a room: you always knew when Richard 
Harding Davis was in a room. Once I met Barrie 
at a tea party. That amused me because he is not 
usually amenable to parlour festivities. For a short 
time he crept about the purlieus of the company; 
soon he seated himself on a stool behind the door 
waiting till somebody should open it; then he slipped 
out. 

He probably enjoyed the affair because he has his 
own Lob-like thoughts. He is very observant, and 
examines himself as minutely and whimsically as he 
examines other people. Have you heard the story 
of the great literary dinner in London with Barrie 
in the chair, and the article upon it in the National 
Observer which chaffed Barrie as chairman, and 
made him look rather silly. The readers of the 
National Observer resented this descent to person 
alities, and protested that the article chaffing Barrie 
as chairman was in bad taste, and beneath the dig 
nity of the National Observer. The editor received 
so many angry letters that he was obliged to publish 
a note saying that the article was written by Barrie 
himself. 

He is like his own Lob in "Dear Brutus"; he loves 
to spring surprises on rather a dense world. He is 
the child a silent, inward-laughing, restless child, 
learning his lessons in his own way who will never 
grow up. There is nothing of Darwin or Spencer 
in him, nothing of Matthew Arnold or Dean Inge. 



/. M. Bar rie 37 

The pathos and humour of actual life suffice for 
him. His war contributions are things like "The 
Old Lady Shows Her Medals," so touching and so 
moving; his sociological contributions are things like 
"The Admirable Crichton," which had such a 
searching moral because it was founded upon, not 
theories or books, but human nature. 
I do not think that he has changed at all in the 
passage of years. Those early articles in the St. 
James Gazette had all the Barrie pathos, fancy, 
and freakish humour. They were a clear stream of 
tender fancy running amid the muddy wordiness of 
journalism. Many of them were about nothing. 
But it is his way to take a subject that no other 
author would consider worth troubling about, and 
make it memorable. What author would find him 
self able to write about his mother in the way that 
Barrie treated the little Scots lady in "Margaret 
Ogilvy"? And who else would have had confidence 
to write an important play on the subject of "Little 
Mary"? 

The career of J. M. Barrie shows how useless 
schools of journalism or literature are to produce 
the real writing man or woman. What were Bar- 
ric s assets? An intense love for home, for the 
Scots folk with whom he grew up; for children; 
the power to express himself in straightforward, 
supple English and, above all else, humour; some 
thing of Puck, something of Ariel, something of 
Charles Lamb and Tom Hood, mixed with Celtic 
wistfulness and wonder. Add to that sympathy, the 
observation of a cat watching a bird, with the power 



38 Authors and I 

to use everything he sees and feels as material for 
his craft, with not the slightest wish to be Guy de 
Maupassant or anybody else, and we begin to under 
stand why the poor Scots boy has become Sir James 
Matthew Barrie, 1st Bt. cr. 1913. I wager that 
all this is nothing to him. In his heart he is still 
Jamie of Kirriemuir, N. B., always making mental 
notes, hurrying over high tea (scones and jam) so 
that he may dip his pen in a penny ink bottle, and 
chuckle over the writing of an Auld Licht Idyll, 
and, mind you, being a Scot, always with his eye 
on the goal. 

Were he proud-minded, little Barrie might well 
succumb and feel proud, for a great fellow Scot, 
Robert Louis Stevenson, expressed himself about 
the author of "A Window in Thrums" in a way 
which here it is. In a letter to J. M. Barrie from 
Vailima, dated December, 1892, R. L. S. says: 
"I am a capable artist; but it begins to look to me 
as if you were a man of genius. Take care of 
yourself for my sake." 
It takes a big man to praise bigly. 



6. MAX BEERBOHM 

WHEN I turn to Max Beerbohm s name in 
"Who s Who," and read the brief, bald 
biography, I feel "at home," and also "not at home." 
I am at home when I read that he was educated at 
Charterhouse and Oxford: that in the nineties, 
when he was in the twenties, he issued "The Works 
of Max Beerbohm" (this was humour) ; a year or 
so afterward "More" (this also was humour), and 
a little later "Yet Again" (additional humor). 
This serious fun was like Max, the Max we know, 
the aloof, silent Max, who was always in the social 
world and yet not of it; who never grinned through 
a horse collar, he couldn t, he wouldn t if he could ; 
who smiled wearily at his own fun; who took in 
credible pains to be the most gentlemanly and the 
most elusive of humourists, descending from 
Charles Lamb and Thackeray; and he might almost 
call Andrew Lang uncle. He is our aristocrat of 
humour: he is the author of "The Happy Hypo 
crite" (oh, the delight with which I read it!), of 
"The Christmas Garland," and of "Zuleika Dob- 
son." 

Will he be angry if I, who am his devoted admirer, 
who peruse him with consistent pleasure; will he 
cavil if I say that "Zuleika Dobson" docs not 
intrigue me? He himself knows better than anyone 
39 



4O Authors and I 

else that, with the best intentions, one cannot ask 
a ladybird to become a bumblebee. 
But I have not yet explained why, in reading Max 
Beerbohm s brief, bald biography, I find myself in 
parts of it "not at home." These are the passages: 
" m. 1910 Florence Kahn, of Memphis, Tennes 
see. Address, Villino Chiaro, Rapallo, Italy." 
There is nothing wrong in this. I myself married 
a southerner, and I have lived for a time in Italy. 
But I do not feel at home with him when I 
visualise him rusticating in the vineyards of Rapallo 
and perhaps exchanging military witticisms with 
Capt. Gabriele d Annunzio. For he was and is a 
London dandy of the choicest kind ; the gentle emi 
nence of St. James s Street, as Lord Beaconsfield 
called it, not entrancing Rapallo is his walk in life; 
he, above all others, understands the nice conduct 
of a clouded cane, the right shape and tilt of a 
silk hat, and the proper point where a frock coat 
(now unmodish) should artfully bulge in the bosom. 
It was he, too, who some years ago tried to make 
man ashamed of his sombre, faultless evening garb. 
What was the method, Beau Max? Really, I have 
forgotten. Was the exquisite coat purple or dark 
chocolate? The knee breeches I know were black, 
and I fancy there was a shimmer of moonlight in the 
hue of the silk stockings. Whatever it was, be sure 
there was nothing vulgar about the dress, for our 
author has the quietest of tastes in raiment as in 
writing. Only a very fastidious mind could wear 
a smile so bored yet so observant, a shoe so dainty, 
a buttonhole so chaste. 



Max Beerbohm 41 

And yet all these things were, and arc, really 
nothing to him ephemera amused attempts to 
decorate a rather drab and dull world. In reality, 
our friend, the last of the dandies, for now nobody 
outside these United States has any money left for 
clothes, is a very serious and hardworking artist. 
Have I not seen him in the act of composing one of 
those dramatic articles for the Sun Jay Review, so 
wise, so witty, that we were obliged to put down our 
six-pences for this weekly journal written by crusted 
Tories for crusted Tories, so long as he was on 
the staff. He would write, through spacious morn 
ings, on cream laid paper, in large important callig 
raphy and the erasures? Ah, the erasures! They 
were blacked out with an artistic blackness that a 
war-time censor might have envied. And why? 
Because the artistic heart of Max would not allow 
even the printer or the printer s reader to guess at 
the toil that went to a perfect paragraph. 
If Max Beerbohm is a writer, what is Theodore 
Dreiser? I suppose the only answer is that there 
are many mansions in the city of writing, and that 
some are big, rambling and spready, and that others 
are small, neat and compact. 

Read "That Young, Shy Clergyman," by Max 
Beerbohm. Not only has it humour: it also has the 
humourous outlook, sly yet virile. (Oh, but Mrs. 
Gaskell might have been Max s literary mother, and 
Cranford the place from which he escaped into the 
larger life of London, where he was tutored by, say, 
the young Disraeli). 
How well I remember his nineties story called 



42 Authors and I 

"Knock Soames" just nothing, just everything. 
"Enock Soames" was republished in that delightful 
book, "Seven Men." I had written about it in a 
"Literary Letter," and the next week was obliged to 
print the following 

"A correspondent who has been reading Max Beer- 
bohm s Seven Men complains that he has carefully 
counted the list and can only find six. Ha, ha! 
I expected that. The seventh man is, of course, 
Max Beerbohm himself. He is implicit on every 
page of this delightful book." 

"A Christmas Garland," parodies the writers who 
interest him. He tells us in the preface, a char 
acteristic preface (everything about Max is char 
acteristic), how he came to write these parodies 
so alarmingly good. In studying his contemporaries 
he was "learning rather what to avoid," and "the 
book itself may be taken as a sign that I think my 
own style is, at length, more or less formed." You 
observe the pose, as of a Titan relaxing over a cup 
of tea. Like Bernard Shaw, he is able, while taking 
himself conscientiously, seriously, to assume a play- 
hour manner. He seems indifferent, but inwardly 
he is tense and almost pushing. Christopher in 
"The Hand of Ethelberta" might have had Max 
Beerbohm in mind when he said to Ethelberta 
"Make ambition your business and indifference your 
relaxation, and you will succeed." 
He succeeds, but this elegant figure, when you 
meet him at parties or First Nights, never seems to 
be giving a thought to success. He seems to live 
for the humour of life. The effort tires him, but 



Max Beerbohm 43 

he never quite gives up. All of his writings have 
humour, and it is humour of rather a rare kind. 
In a word, he is a cultured humourist. He can 
always amuse the stalls, never the gallery. Thack 
eray is on his shelves, but Dickens I doubt it. 
Dear me, here I have been extolling Max Beerbohm 
as a writer, and have not yet mentioned the fact 
that he also draws. Without doubt he is the 
first of British caricaturists. In the six exhibitions 
of his drawings that have been held since 1901 I 
am sure that he has aroused more laughter than any 
two other caricaturists. His drawings are a little 
unkind, very caustic, uncannily penetrating, but oh, 
so witty! He is a man of affairs, a retiring pub 
licist, as well as a very able draftsman. 
Thirdly, he is a humourist in conversation. He it 
was who invented the story about let me call him 
Sir Goahead Blank who, as everybody knows, set 
himself with the aid of his accomplished wife to 
climb to the pinnacle of London society. "Some 
times," said Max, "in the middle of the night I am 
aroused from my slumbers by a faint but persistent 
noise. I lean upon my elbow listening, then relieved 
I fall back upon my pillow murmuring to myself 
It is only Sir Goahead Blank, climbing climbing 
climbing. " 

He was the brother, or half-brother, I forget which, 
these things slip from the memory, of Sir Herbert 
Beerbohm Tree. A friend meeting him on the 
street one day said to him "Well, Max, and what 
literary work hive you in hand just now?" 
To which Max replied "I am meditating a series 



44 Authors and I 

of articles on the brothers of great men. I shall 
begin with Herbert." 

Max Beerbohm is not a new humourist. He 
evaded the new humour which flickered in London 
in the nineties, and which, in its American patent, 
is flaming in the United States today. If I were 
a magazine editor I should ask Max to write an 
article on American humour from Artemus Ward to 
Don Marquis. Then I should retire to Tahiti for 
a year. 



7. HILAIRE BELLOC 

T PREFER Bclloc s writings to Chesterton s. He 
A is more disagreeable, but he is saner ; he touches 
my imagination more readily, and he makes me 
laugh louder and oftener. I have just re-read 
Belloc s "The Path to Rome," and if you know of 
any modern book with greater gusto, ampler 
humour, and a more fervid love of places and 
characters, I beg you to give me its name. I do not 
care tuppence about the purpose of his tramp; but 
I do care immensely for it as a travel book, a wander 
document from the delightful preface called 
Praise of This Book" to the final "Dithyrambic 
Epithalamium or Threnody" doggerel beginning 

In these boots, and with this staff 
Two hundred leaguers and a half 
Walked I, went I, paced, tripped I, 
Marched I, held I, skelped I, slipped I, 
Pushed I, panted, swung and dashed I, 
Picked I, forded, swam and splashed I, 
Strolled I, climbed I, crawled and scrambled, 
Dropped and dipped I, ranged and rambled. . . . 

Is there anybody who has a finer and fuller love of 
Place? Some years ago there appeared in the West 
minster Gazette several third-of-a-column essays by 
him on French places. The series was called "Little 
Towns": his pen gave personality to each of these 
45 



46 Authors and I 

half -forgotten towns. I could walk through France 
seeking them, and when I find them they will be 
old friends. 

He is a copious writer very copious and he writes 
as easily as he talks ; so some of his travel books are 
less good than others. In a genial mood he might 
call them "hack work" ; but even his potboilers are 
redeemed by the Bellocian gusto, his broad geo 
graphical outlook, his grasp of history, and his 
sense of form. "Hills and the Sea" was a spacious, 
breezy volume, and "The River of London" and 
"The Stane St." seemed to treat of eternity, not of 
time. 

Perhaps it is not wise to hear him lecture. His 
matter is solid, sententious, with sardonic and arro 
gant humorous asides, and his assurance is amazing. 
In manner he is rather like a bull in a meadow, and 
as he proceeds, ramping and tossing, although I 
appreciate his knowledge and power of expression, 
I feel that I like him less and less. There is too 
much of the schoolmaster in him, too much of the 
pope. 

He is the kind of man who would not wait to be 
elected pope; he would take his seat, and then 
defend it without pity and without compromise. At 
the opening of the Great War he stepped upon the 
throne of authority, and the British public, being 
rather bewildered, hardly knowing where to look 
for a mentor, accepted Hilaire Belloc as military 
guide, philosopher, and friend. He issued his 
ukases in the pages of the weekly journal, Land and 
Water, and as at the very beginning, before any 



Hilaire Belloc 47 

news had come through, he announced that Ger 
many would sweep through Belgium, we accepted 
him as One Who Knows. It was easy for him to 
play that role, as that has been the role he has 
always played, ever since he began to write and talk. 
He prophesied on the future of the war; he com 
mented with an "I-told-you-so manner" on the past ; 
he made his own plans and diagrams. For he is a 
draftsman, too, a kind of artist (see "The Path to 
Rome"), who, like lesser men, finds it difficult to 
make snow mountains sit back in their place in a 
picture. But the Great War proved too great for 
the prophets. They all tumbled down. Just when 
Hilaire Belloc tumbled I know not, for after some 
months I ceased to read his pontifical prognostica 
tions. His three or four books about the war 
"The First Phase," "The Second Phase," and so on 
have gone into the "not wanted" corner of my 
library. 

Nevertheless Belloc makes a fine showing on my 
shelves. Whenever I open them I take delight in 
"Lambkin s Remains," "Mr. Burden," and "The 
Four Men." These are the works of a Man of 
Letters who is speaking for himself, not to a 
brief. His novels are dull. Most Men of Letters 
want to write fiction, most fail. The teller of tales 
needs a special kind of outfit. It is quite possible 
to know all about Romance, and yet not be able to 
write it. With his history books I am not 
enamoured. If ever I do want to know anything 
about "Robespierre," "Danton," "Mary Antoin 
ette," which is not often, I go to a cyclopaedia. But 



48 Authors and 1 

his essays are very readable: they have more struc 
ture and less ornament than Mr. Chesterton s. 
From 1906 to 1910 he was Member of Parliament, 
in the Liberal interest, for South Salford; but he 
was not a success. Members of Parliament, with 
all their faults, have views, and they object to being 
driven and herded except by their chiefs. Per 
suasion may mollify them, but not arrogance. I 
have not read his book, "The Party System," which 
he w T rote in conjunction with Mr. Chesterton. 
Hilaire Belloc was educated at the Oratory School, 
Edgbaston, and at Balliol College, Oxford, where 
he was the Brackenbury history scholar and first 
class in honour history schools. Between school and 
college he served as a driver in the eighth regiment 
of French artillery at Toul, Meurthe-et-Moselle. 
Thus early in life we find him eager in pursuit and 
in practice of his two chief subjects the Mind of 
History and the Mind of Soldiering. 
He enlisted in the French Army because he is of 
French extraction. His father was a French bar- 
rirter; his mother, an Englishwoman, was descended 
from Dr. Joseph Priestley, discoverer of "dephlogis- 
ticated air" or oxygen. He was also minister of a 
congregation in Suffolk, and later a citizen of the 
French Republic. Mr. Belloc, in "Who s Who," 
is silent about Dr. Priestley. It is his sister, the 
novelist, who obliges with the information. 
Like all well-brought-up Men of Letters, Mr. 
Hilaire Belloc is also a poet. At the age of 25 he 
published "Verses and Sonnets," and since then he 
has, intermittently, broken into verse. One of his 



Hilaire Belloc 49 

poems is famous and fine. It is in the "Anthol 
ogies," and it gives Sussex men an advantage over 
men of Kent and Surrey. They have no such song 
as Hilaire Belloc s song in praise of Sussex, of 
which I quote four of the ten stanzas: 

When I am living in the Midlands 

That are sodden and unkind, 

I light ray lamp in the evening: 

My work is left behind; 

And the great hills of the South Country 

Come back into my mind. 

The great hills of the South Country 

They stand along the sea; 

And it s there, walking in the high woods, 

That I could wish to be, 

And the men that were boys when I was a boy 

Walking along with me. 

I will gather and carefully make my friends 

Of the men of the Sussex Weald. 

They watch the stars from silent folds, 

They stiffly plough the field. 

By them and the God of the South Country 

My poor soul shall be healed. 

If I ever become a rich man, 

Or if ever I grow to be old, 

I will build a house with deep thatch 

To shelter me from the cold, 

And there shall the Sussex songs be sung 

And the story of Sussex be told. 

History, Politics, Warmongering, Essay Writing, 
Controversy what arc they to a song? 



8. ARNOLD BENNETT 

THAT dynamo, Enoch Arnold Bennett, began 
to function in 1867. He is now very famous 
and very rich. This is precisely what that dynamo, 
which has dropped the Enoch, and now calls itself 
Arnold Bennett, intended should happen. What he 
intends docs happen. Odd, but provable. 
I have known three or four great men in my time; 
all had, incidentally, moods, miseries, and weak 
nesses. E. A. B., for so, occasionally, he has called 
himself, is without moods, miseries, or weaknesses. 
He may have had them once, but being unprofitable 
for the life work he ordained for himself to become 
rich and famous he at once expelled them from his 
organisation. 

Arnold Bennett is not only a dynamo; he is also 
the controller of the dynamo. I mean by this that 
his well-controlled will can order his well-controlled 
mentality to do exactly what the will dictates. In 
spiration, ecstasy, loafing, and inviting the soul 
what are such things to him? Nothing. Dynamos 
don t have ecstasies. Dynamos don t loaf. 
He is the controller of the machine that converts 
mental energy into ten pound ($50 or so) per 
thousand words energy. So good are these words, so 
efficient is the driving force of the dynamo, that one 
of the modest pleasures of my life is a new Mood, 
50 



Arnold Bennett 5 1 

a new Fantasia, a new Frolic, a new Play, a new 
Pocket Philosophy, or a new "Miscellaneous" by 
Arnold Bennett. I am never disappointed. The 
adventure is like buying goods at an old established, 
reliable London shop. Whatever you purchase 
shirts, braces, or collars you know that they will 
be of the best material and the best workmanship, 
honestly made, "all wool and a yard wide," without 
fripperies or fal-lals, and the buttons will never 
drop off. "But," the intelligent reader interjects, 
"Arnold Bennett, you know, wrote one novel of 
genius, The Old Wives 1 Tale/ perhaps two." 
True. He wrote a novel of genius, perhaps two, 
because the controlling will of this dynamo re 
marked : "The time has come to write a novel of 
genius. Begin tomorrow morning at 8.55. That 
will give you five minutes to wash out your ink 
bottle and fill it with the excellent anti-corrosive 
fluid you discovered yesterday." 
But I am going too quickly. I am giving the present 
aspect of the Arnold Bennett edifice without refer 
ence to the architectonic intelligence that produced 
the edifice. It was my privilege, for a time, to 
watch the edifice rising, and it was as plain as an 
advertisement in a tram-car, even in those long past 
days, that the edifice would rise to stately propor 
tions. That was inevitable, because Arnold Ben 
nett was the architect, the builder, the contractor, 
and the edifice. 

Toward the end of last century, I was editing 
The Academy and seeking daily for new writers 
with nimble pens. My tenure of the editorial chair 



52 Authors and I 

(it was the new swivel-kind, and considered rather 
chic in those days), began in 1896, the year in 
which Enoch Arnold Bennett succeeded to the 
editorship of Woman, a penny weekly. 
Soon I subscribed to Woman, not because I was 
particularly interested in woman, but because this 
paper was edited with spirit, finesse, and male- 
sense, and because there was a column of Book 
Notes signed May, or Rosalind, or Sophy, or some 
such name, which was so good that I yearned to 
acquire the writer for the journal I was editing. In 
a month or two I discovered that May, or Rosalind, 
or Sophy was E. A. B. or Enoch Arnold Bennett. 
A little diplomacy, a little flattery and the dynamo 
presented itself at my office for a talk. Within a 
few minutes he had told me how my paper should 
be edited categorically and vehemently. That 
was and is Arnold Bennett s way. I have no doubt 
that since he has become famous and has met many 
distinguished men he has told Mr. David Lloyd 
George how to run the British Empire, and Mr. 
Woodrow Wilson how to circumvent the Republi 
cans, etc, etc. That is his way. His foible is om 
niscience. Who but Arnold Bennett could or would 
have found time amid the aesthetic attractions and 
financial allurements of novel writing and play- 
writing to instruct the proletariat in "Mental Effi 
ciency" and "How to Live on 24 Hours a Day." 
That first interview with Arnold Bennett told me 
that, at any cost, I must persuade him to join our 
staff: the first article he wrote assured me that at 
any cost I must keep him there. He never wrote 



Arnold Bennett 53 

a superfluous word, every sentence told; he had 
sound opinions upon everything; and his sledge-ham 
mer manner of stating those opinions, what a relief 
it was after reading proofs of reviews and articles 
by the ordinary young man with the ordinary artis 
tic temperament. I never altered a word in an 
Arnold Bennett proof. And there was rarely an 
erasure in his copy. His orderly mind said to his 
obedient hand: "Write my masterly and masterful 
thoughts in copperplate calligraphy, always with 
the same number of words upon a page, for though 
I suspect that I have the artistic temperament I am 
also a business man, and a man of affairs, and it is 
those qualities that \Vill advance me quickly in the 
world." 

As a writer of reviews and articles he was capable, 
conscientious and incredibly hard working. E. A. B. 
was determined to leam the business of writing 
thoroughly. He was not going to take any chances. 
I wonder if he remembers the labour he put into a 
review of a new translation of Balzac. The article 
in two parts was a miracle of research and wisdom. 
He knew it would pay him wise youth. That 
labour taught him all he needed to know about the 
construction of the Balzac novel. He was the most 
valuable member of the staff. I knew it. He 
knew it. So I was not surprised when one day he 
demanded a 50 per cent increase of pay. Of course 
I meekly assented. I would have assented even if 
I had been forced to deduct the extra honorarium 
(that s what we called it: honorarium sounded 
better than pay) from my own salary. A good 



54 Authors and I 

editor knows when he has a good thing. Bennett 
has described this advance in his honorarium in the 
preface to "The Truth About an Author," a per 
fectly delightful and humorously cynical account of 
his own career which has a merit most autobiog 
raphies lack it is true. Consequently many 
reviewers disliked it extremely. The passage runs: 
"I well remember the day when, by dint of amicable 
menaces, I got the rate raised in my favour from 
10 to 15 shillings a column, with a minimum of two 
guineas an article for exposing the fatuity of pop 
ular idols." 

He has become a popular idol himself and he has 
strenuously striven to keep the popular idol class 
select. In the words of the old song "There s flies 
on me, there s flies on you, but there ain t no flies on 
Arnold." Between 1908 and 1911 under the pseu 
donym of "Jacob Tonson" in the New Age he 
revalued all the current popular and unpopular 
idols. Excellent reading were these corybantic 
essays: excellent reading they are today in the 
volume called "Books and Persons." 
While he was writing them he was himself becoming 
daily more of a popular idol. Rather piquant, eh? 
But he was not in the least surprised by his pop 
ularity. His will had planned it, therefore the 
popularity followed. 

One afternoon, just after the new century had 
turned, somewhat impressed by the immense amount 
of time and effort he was putting into reviews and 
other ephemera, I said to him, "What about your 
future? What arc you going to do?" 



Arnold Bennett 55 

Readily, always ready is E. A. B., he answered, 
"It s all arranged. I shall write two novels for 
fame, two for fun, two for money; plays I shall 
treat in the same way, and I shall live for a time in 
France and marry a French girl." 
Which is precisely what he has done and more, 
much more. 

The problem now is What next? Happy thought! 
Why should he not write another novel of genius? 
Meanwhile I sit down to re-read his frolic called 
"A Great Man." It is vastly entertaining; but 
there is more in it than mere fun. This frolic is a 
criticism of life. Perhaps there is more in it than 
Arnold Bennett thinks. Oh, no, that s impossible. 



9. G. K. CHESTERTON 

HAVE busied myself with many of his many 
* books, and I have wearied of his paradoxes and 
rhetorical gallivanting. I find the utmost difficulty 
in getting to the end of an article by him; but I 
persevere because if he annoys me seven times he 
stimulates me twice. That is about the proportion. 
My eyes rove down his columns for the flashes 
of insight. I read them twice and skip the rest. 
Yes, he does give us, in everything he writes, these 
flashes of insight. He cannot help them, they are 
himself, and apparently he does not know and does 
not care whether he produces flashes of insight or 
horse-collar jokes. 

Editors regard him as a popular teacher and direc 
tor, but is he? Those who read him do so for his 
Chestertonisms, for his fun, for his chunks of com 
mon sense, and they try to forgive him for his 
belief that if you say a good thing once, it becomes 
twice as good if you say it twice. But they do 
not read him for his message. What is his mes 
sage? Does any reader get anything from his book 
on Divorce, except that in the recesses of his alert 
hide-and-seek brain he has beautiful mystical 
thoughts about marriage? Really I do not think 
it matters much what Mr. Chesterton s subject is. 
Stardust, Lobsters, Bric-a-brac, Ireland the subject 
56 



G. K. Chesterton 57 

is merely a peg to hang Chestertonian daydreams 
on. His method is simple. He might begin an essay 
thus: "You may think that in the jungle a tiger 
acts like a tiger. It does not: it acts like a geranium. 
The reasons arc obvious. . . ." 
He is a figure in the literary world in a wider sense 
than usual. Usually and rightly an author s per 
sonal appearance is regarded as something separate 
and apart from his writings, as sacred as his home 
life. But Mr. Chesterton s great bulk, massive 
face, and wild crop of untidy hair are as well known 
and popular as were Dr. Johnson s appearance and 
idiosyncrasies. Each is a legend. Chesterton himself 
is by no means shy on the subject. It is on record 
that, at a public dinner, a speaker said that Chester 
ton s chivalry is so splendid that he had been known 
to rise in a tramcar and offer his seat to three ladies. 
Mr. A. G. Gardiner, who tells this story, adds that 
Mr. Chesterton s laughter sounded high above all 
the rest. "You may laugh with him, and at him, 
and about him," adds Mr. Gardiner, "but there is 
one thing, and one only, about which he is serious, 
and that is his own seriousness." 
It is this seriousness that the reader loves to track, 
to pick it from the bustling byways and the bursting 
fireworks of his prose; to track in the pages of 
"Heretics," "Dickens," "Browning," "Tremendous 
Trifles," "Alarms and Discussions," "A Short His 
tory of England," "The Crimes of England," 
"What s Wrong with the World." I admit that 
I would not do it for pleasure. A chapter in each 
book is about all I can assimilate. For, after all, 



58 Authors and I 

Chesterton has few surprises. He has a typical 
Protestant mind, yet he loves ritual, superstition, 
legends, saints, fairies, and he still believes, so he 
has told us, that the moon is made of green cheese ; 
he is always for the under dog, the voiceless, and 
the lost cause; he is a Little Englander, an Eng 
lishman who resents Belfast and reacts rhythmically 
to Dublin. 

I have often wondered how the rectory public that 
subscribes to The Illustrated London News likes 
the page he writes each week and if they approved 
of the change from the popular erudition of George 
Augustus Sala, and the cheerful humanity of James 
Payn. That page, "Our Note Book," was, for a 
time, handed over to Hilaire Belloc. Strange how 
these two literary men, these two mediaevalists 
have run together through the present century. Mr. 
Bernard Shaw noted this and invented a two-faced 
capering and combative elephant, which he called 
the "Chester-Belloc." 

Mr. Chesterton is the outstanding type of the lit 
erary journalist. It is as an essayist that he earns 
his living and wins his fame. I fancy that he would, 
if he could, be a maker of romances and draw as 
near to the success of Stevenson as the public would 
allow. He does not succeed. I can enjoy passages 
of "Manalive," "The Flying Inn," "The Napoleon 
of Notting Hill," and "The Man Who Was 
Thursday," but reading them through is an effort. 
They are shaped like romance; they ought to be 
riotously romantic and funny, but they are not. As 



G. K. Chesterton 59 

for the Father Brown detective stories, if I want 
to read such things I go to Sherlock Holmes. 
If I were asked to select three of Chesterton s 
books for a public library, which could not afford 
the whole of his Brobdingnagian output, my choice 
would fall upon his "Browning," his "Dickens" and 
"Irish Impressions." 

He has also published poems, sometimes humorous. 
Indeed, it was as a poet, the author of "The Wild 
Knight," that I first heard of him. He was a great 
figure in Fleet Street even in those days, and people 
would say: "Come, quickly, and you will see Gil 
bert Chesterton getting out of a cab." Oh, the 
stories ! It is said that he was driving in Paris, and 
his companion, a novelist-publisher, remarked, 
"They all seem to know you." To which G. K. C. 
replied, "Yes, and if they don t they ask." And I 
remember one evening in London when, to every 
body s delight (it is the way of erring human nature 
to jest at its benefactors) somebody read aloud 
G. K. C. s verses on the Shakespeare Memorial 
Committee. It begins: 

Lord Lilac thought it rather rotten 
That Shakespeare should be quite forgotten, 
And therefore got on a committee 
With several chaps out of the city, 
And Shorter and Sir Herbert Tree, 
Lord Rothschild and Lord Rosebery 
And F. C. G. and Corny ns Carr, 
Two dukes and a dramatic star. . . . 

But as a poet he can be very serious and very fine. 
It is quite likely that "The Wiltf Knight" and 



60 Authors and I 

"The Ballad of the White Horse" (a ballad that 
took the bit between its teeth and raced into a 
book), and his "Lepanto," a poem that has already 
drifted into the Anthologies, will be read when 
"Heretics" and "Tremendous Trifles" are forgotten. 
Somebody should always be standing by his side when 
he is writing essays, saying, "Gilbert be dull for a 
bit. Paradox should be a souffle, not a joint." 



10. JOSEPH CONRAD 

TS it, can it be a quarter of a century ago since 
* I sat one summer afternoon on the sands at 
Sandgate, Kent, with H. G. Wells and Joseph Con 
rad? Wells was our host. He was living then at 
the charming Voysey house he had built on the cliff 
perched between Folkestone and Hythe. I had come 
from London. Conrad had emerged from the in 
land farmhouse where he was then living, working 
at, I fancy, "The Nigger of the Narcissus," which 
was published in 1897. I remember H. G. s quick, 
blue, watching, amused eyes, and intriguing manner 
with a touch of asperity; such a contrast to Con 
rad s virility and violence of utterance. I re 
member watching Conrad dig his hands fiercely into 
the loose sand, and say, "Ah, if only I could write 
zee English good, well. But you see, you will 
see!" 

Joseph Conrad is eager and forthright, as prompt 
in speech as in action, which is what we might 
expect from a "Master in the Merchant Service" 
who has spent many years of his life at sea. His 
literary style is as broad, deep and full as a rolling 
Atlantic breaker. He handles our sonorous and 
plangent English with the ease that a captain 
handles a ship, and yet he is not an Englishman. He 
is of Polish parentage; he tells how, on long 
61 



62 Authors and I 

voyages, he learnt the way to use words in the 
right way, in the great way, from studying the 
Bible and Shakespeare; and, as I have said, it 
was not so many years ago, that he told us how 
he almost despaired of ever mastering the English 
tongue. He did it. There is a foreign inflexion in 
his speech, never in his prose. Milton might have 
envied the colour of many of his words. 
How well I remember the time when his short 
story, "Youth," first appeared in Blackwootfs 
Magazine, about 1901. I read it on a long train 
journey, and then re-read it, because I was still 
far from my destination. When I had finished it, 
I wrote: "Amazing! This may be the best short 
story of the decade; certainly it is the finest state 
ment in literature of the romantic impact of the 
East upon the West." 

You preceive that I read and re-read "Youth" on 
a train journey; that is, I gave it my mind and 
my undivided attention. Perhaps, if I were to 
read a long novel by Conrad in that way, say "Lord 
Jim" or "Typhoon," I should admire the innumer 
able pages as much as I admire slender "Youth"; 
but a busy man rarely has time to read long 
novels carefully. Who has? And yet I feel that 
I ought to read Conrad carefully, as he is a writer s 
writer, as Manet was a painter s painter, and my 
young literary friends call him Master. So, when 
Land and Water arrived in America with the first 
installment of "The Rescue," I said to myself: 
"Here is a chance to make up my mind about Joseph 
Conrad. I can read, and re-read this installment of 



Joseph Conrad 63 

The Rescue* in an hour an hour of my mind 
and my undivided attention." 

To produce such prose requires composure and con 
centration. And as for the architecture of the open 
ing of this story, I find in it the same kind of method 
that Mr. Conrad employs in many other of his 
romances that I have read or skipped. He delights 
to take some vast, outlying immensity of ocean and 
sky with hints of land, where little cellular beings 
called men dwell. You must be patient while he 
is developing his immensity; then, you will view 
with relief the introduction, at first hardly more 
than ejaculations, of the little cellular beings called 
men into this expanse of immensity, but presently 
and gradually the man or men become characterised 
swiftly and neatly. Follows more immensity, and 
the little men in the vastness begin to assume shape, 
form and disposition, and so on, and so on, until 
man takes his place in the Conradian immensity. 

* * * 

Since the above was written I have read in book 
form "The Rescue," which he began, worked on for 
a time, and then dropped twenty years ago. I feel 
about it as I felt about "The Arrow of Gold," 
and other of Conrad s novels. I am intensely in- 
terested in the art with which he drops Man into 
the Immensity of his landscape, but I am little 
interested in the story he tells. The opening of "The 
Rescue" thrilled me as before, but as the story pro 
gressed my interest flagged. The art of writing is 
stronger in Conrad than the art of story-telling. 



64 Authors and I 

So with the small book by him called "A Personal 
Record," telling how "Almayer s Folly" was writ 
ten, so with the Prefaces to the new editions of 
his books. I begin with avidity, I seem ever on the 
threshold of learning something, and becoming a 
Conrad enthusiast ; but the conversion never comes, 
and I turn with hope to the next Preface, or the 
next book. 

The Conrad enthusiasts are so many that my defec 
tion may be overlooked. Once when I was asked 
which of his works leads me nearest to enthusiasm, 
I answered "The Nigger of the Narcissus" and the 
short story "Youth." 

The Bible and Shakespeare may have moulded 
Conrad s style, as his years at sea gave him knowl 
edge of the ways of the ocean, and the men who go 
down to it in great ships. Is it not wonderful that 
.a Pole should be able thus to fuse manner and ma 
terial and make romances in an alien tongue? This 
is a mystery of the craft or of genius. 
You cannot say that reading "The Tempest" gave 
Conrad his insight into the ways of seafarers; you 
cannot say that chancing upon a copy of Chaucer s 
"Parliament of Fowls" put John Mascfield in 
the way of writing "Salt Water Ballads" and "The 
Everlasting Mercy." Chaucer gave him the start, 
and then followed Shakespeare, Milton, Keats and 
Shelley. But these were but fuel. The fire was 
there. So with Conrad. The fire to write was 
smouldering within him in his Polish home, and the 
spark came, and the fuel came, as the wind comes, 
where it listeth. 



11. KENYON COX 

SHE had been reading Kenyon Cox s last article. 
It was on "German Painting." But I doubt if 
she reached the end of the essay, for the paper 
wherein it was published had fallen from her hands, 
and she was almost crying. 
"Tut! Tut!" I said. "What is it?" 
"Lots of things," she answered, "but chiefly 
memories. Oh, while people are hailing Kenyon 
Cox as a great mural painter, to me he was just a 
poet." 

She turned away. For some reason or another she 
was disturbed. So I talked. 

"Kenyon Cox was a better writer than painter," I 
said. "He was an artist in words, if you like; 
he was never an artist in paint. His pictures are 
commonplace, formal ; but, in his writings, he some 
times ascends to the threshold of the Initiates. It 
is given to few to excel in the two crafts of writing 
and painting." 

"If William Hunt, author of Talks on Art/ had 

been able to paint as well as he wrote about painting, 

what a great artist he would have been. He it 

who, when Oliver Wendell Holmes handed him 

a Chinese vase, asking if he would like to see it, 

answered: Like to see it? By Gosh, it s one of 

those dashed ultimate things! There is more real 

65 



66 Authors and I 

appreciation, my dear lady, in that slangy sentence 
of William Hunt s than in pages of tall writing. 
Kenyon Cox would have taken a chapter to say it, 
and please understand that he would have said it 
charmingly. Hunt was a torrent. Cox was a 
gliding stream." 

Here I paused, because the lady was not listening. 
"How strange," she said, "and how enviable to 
be remembered by one little poem. It must be thirty 
years ago since I first read it. We were living by 
the sea, a lonely place in a remote part of Europe; 
and one day, oh, how well I remember it, dear 

B and C surprised us with a visit. They 

were on their honeymoon; they brought us all the 
news of America, and among other odds and ends 
a copy of the current Century magazine. In it was 
an essay by Kenyon Cox on Early Renaissance 
Sculpture, and at the end of it was a poem. I was 
younger then, and it moved me in a way that few 
poems have ever moved me. It was inspired by 
the Temme Inconnue, in the Louvre, and it began: 

She lived in Florence centuries ago, 
That lady smiling there. 
What was her name or rank I do not know 
I know that she was fair. 

I have been trying to remember the rest of it, but 
I can only recall detached lines. Do find it for 
me. And the sad thing is that I have a copy of it 
somewhere, and I can t remember where it is hidden 
a copy in Kenyon Cox s own handwriting. Oh, 
how kind he was! It happened like this: Dear 



Kenyan Cox 67 

C was a friend of Cox s, and, when he returned 
to America, he told him of my love for the poem. 
And Kenyon Cox copied it out and sent it to me, 
but that wasn t all. He added a fourth stanza 
which the magazine, for some reason or other, did 
not print. Somebody told me that the Editor 
thought it was not quite proper. Entre nous, the 
poet, in that rejected stanza, presses a kiss upon the 
lips of stone." 

The lady laughed through her tears. "I ll have a 
hunt for the poem tonight," she said, "but I am 
afraid that I have hidden it away somewhere so 
carefully that I shall never find it." 
Obviously it was my pleasure to track the poem. 
I told the girl librarian at one of the New York 
Branch Libraries about it, and she suggested that 
I should consult the Century Magazine index. That 
part of my mission failed. I became so interested 
in the writers of circa 1890 that the time passed 
without discovery of any reference to "She lived in 
Florence centuries ago." As for the index, well, 
you know what indexes arc. I have never been able 
to discover anything I want in an index anywhere. 
The girl librarian handed me more copies of the 
Century, and offered to help me in the search. I 
declined graciously. I could not put her to the 
trouble; but I accepted from her a little lot of books 
by Kenyon Cox. On the way home, I made a men 
tal note to write an essay, a la E. V. Lucas, in 
quiring why librarian girls are always kind, and 
telephone girls arc always cross. Perhaps it is be 
cause one sees us and the other doesn t. 



68 Authors and I 

So behold me that afternoon, engaged on a task 
a Bookman loves, the task or the joy of dipping into 
an author with whom one is fairly familiar. I 
began to browse on Kenyon Cox s "Old Masters 
and New" and "Artist and Public"; I dipped here 
and there, feeling sure that I should find some 
where a clue to the lost poem. 
There are no surprises in Kenyon Cox, and shall 
I add, no faults? He is a cultured and scholarly 
conformist. Compared with Cox, John Ruskin was 
a Bernard Shaw, and William Hunt a Clemenceau. 
Kenyon Cox was always on the side of order and 
safety. Even his insight was safety first. The old is 
according to law, and consequently agreeable; the 
new is irregular, and consequently disagreeable. 
It might be said of Kenyon Cox in literature, as he 
says of his contemporaries in painting: "Our most 
original and most distinguished painters, those who 
give the tone to our exhibitions and the national 
accent to our school, are almost all engaged in 
trying to get back one or another of the qualities 
that marked the great art of the past." 
The new art of the present he disliked extremely. 
Post-Impressionism was almost evil, Rodin s draw 
ings were almost a disgrace; but I did not dwell 
on those essays. I turned to where he dallies lov 
ingly with some phase of the great art of the past; 
there he is quite at home and a charming companion. 
And so I came at twilight, while the great city 
hummed below, and the young moon with one lone 
star peeped out above, to his essay on "Sculptors of 
the Early Italian Renaissance." If I had to choose 



Kenyan Cox 69 

one essay by Kenyon Cox for an Anthology, this 
would be my choice. He loved the subject; his love 
passes on to us. I read pages 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 with 
growing delight and, when I turned to page 8 
there, at the end, was the poem. My feelings can 
hardly have been excelled by Peary when he found 
the North Pole. There it was and with the 
missing last stanza: 

THE "FEMME INCONNUE" OF THE LOUVRE 

She lircd in Florence centuries ago, 

That lady smiling there. 

What was her name or rank I do not know 

I know that she was fair. 

For some great man his name, like hers, forgot 
And faded from men s sight 

Loved her he must hare loved her and has wrought 
This bust for our delight. 

Whether he gained her love or had her scorn, 
Full happy was his fate. 

He saw her, heard her speak; he was not born 
Four hundred years too late. 

The palace throngs in every room but thi 
Here I am left alone. 
Love, there is none to tee I press a kit* 
Upon thy lips of stone. 

Surely, we may absolve that Editor of thirty years 
ago of prudery; surely he omitted the last stanza, 
because it is weak an anti-climax. The poem ends 
at "Four hundred years too late." 



12. STEPHEN CRANE 

TO have written "The Red Badge of Courage" 
before he was 25 ; to have produced all of his 
work ere the age of 30 is wonderful. 
Slender, quiet, and neat; unaffected, unromantic, 
and unobtrusive; always watchful yet always seem 
ing weary and brooding, with the penetrating blue 
eyes of the visionary so I saw, and remember 
Stephen Crane vividly. That was in the summer 
of 1899. 

We were thrown together under circumstances that 
have made a lasting impression upon me. He had 
rented Brede Place, in Sussex, and there Mr. and 
Mrs. Crane entertained in a way that was very 
original if seemingly rather extravagant. 
Brede Place, I should explain, is one of the oldest 
manor-houses in Sussex, standing in a vast untidy 
park. At that time the owners had not lived there 
for some years; house and park had been neglected, 
and it would have cost a small fortune to give the 
place the patted and petted look of propriety in 
which Englishmen love to garb their estates. How 
old Brede Place is I know not, but I well remember 
a stand for falcons in the outer entrance hall, that 
has survived all changes! The house has grown; 
wings have been added; the floors are of different 
levels; you lose your way; you peer from the win- 
70 



Stephen Crane 71 

dow embrasures to learn where you are, and seeing 
the thickness of the wall you wonder at the men of 
old time who built so perdurably. 
In recent years Brede Place has been put in order; 
today you may see tennis played on the lawns, and 
hear Debussy in the parlours. But when Stephen 
Crane rented it all was delightfully muddled and 
mediaeval. Why he took Brede Place I know not. 
He liked adventures and new experiences, and 
Brede Place, Sussex, was a change from Mulberry 
Street, Newark, New Jersey. 
He found himself in a far-flung colony of writers. 
Crane was a fine horseman, and within riding, 
cycling or driving distance (motors were uncommon 
then) lived Henry James, H. G. Wells, Joseph 
Conrad, Ford Madox Hueffer, and others. They 
were proud to have the author of "The Red badge 
of Courage" among them, and he had lately achieved 
another brilliant success with "The Open Boat." 
That year I was spending my summer holiday at 
Winchelsea, and as I had been writing in The 
dcademy, with admiration, of this young American 
who had captured literary England, it was natural 
that I should wish to see him. So one day in full 
summer, when the hops were head high, and all the 
country decked with bloom and greenery, I cycled 
over to Brede Place. 

Stephen Crane was seated before a long, deal table 
facing the glorious view. He had been writing 
hard; the table was littered with papers, and he 
read aloud to me in his precise, remote voice what 
he had composed that afternoon. One passage has 



72 Authors and I 

remained with me about a sailor in a cabin, and 
above his head swung a vast huddle of bananas. 
He seemed over-anxious about the right description 
of that huddle of bananas; and it seemed strange 
to find this fair, slight, sensitive youth sitting in the 
quiet of Brede Place writing about wild deeds in 
outlandish places. 

Our next meeting was amazing. I received an in 
vitation to spend three days in Brede Place ; on the 
second day a play was to be performed at the school 
room in Brede Village a mile away up the hill. This 
play we were informed, sub rosa, had been written 
by Henry James, H. G. Wells, A. E. W. Mason 
and other lights of literature. 

Duly I arrived at Brede Place. Surely there has 
never been such a house party. The ancient house, 
in spite of its size, was taxed to the uttermost. There 
were six men in the vast, bare chamber where I 
slept, the six iron bedsteads, procured for the 
occasion, quite lost in the amplitude of the chamber. 
At the dance, which was held on the evening of our 
arrival, I was presented to bevies of beautiful Amer 
ican girls in beauteous frocks. I wondered where 
they came from. And all the time, yes, as far as 
I remember, all the time our host, the author of 
"The Red Badge of Courage," sat in a corner of the 
great fireplace in the hall, not unamused, but very 
silent. He seemed rather bewildered by what had 
happened to him. 

Of the play I have no recollection. The perform 
ance has been driven from my mind by the memory 
of the agony of getting to Brede village. It was a 



Stephen Crane 73 

pouring wet night, with thunder and lightning. 
The omnibuses which transported us up the hill 
stuck in the miry roads. Again and again we had 
to alight and push, and each time we returned 
to our seats on the top (the American girls were 
inside) I remarked to my neighbour, H. G. Wells, 
that Brede village is not a suitable place for 
dramatic performances. 

Many people reread "The Red Badge of Courage" 
during the Great War, and the strange thing is 
that this work of imagination seems more real than 
the actual accounts of the fighting in Flanders. Yet 
this is not strange. The imagination is able to give 
a verisimilitude to invented happenings that a report, 
however accurate, does not achieve. The artist 
selects. He treats only that which is necessary to 
produce his effects. Stephen Crane was an artist. 
He imagined what he himself, an inarticulate, be 
wildered unit in the Civil War, would think, feel, 
and do; he projected his imagination into the con 
flict, and the result was that astonishing work 
"The Red Badge of Courage." 
The Civil War stories in "The Little Regiment" 
volumes are as good as "The Red Badge," but the 
editor or publisher who asked him to write essays 
on "The Great Battles of the World" did not know 
his business. They are routine work. His imagina 
tion was not moved, as it was in "The Red Badge," 
and in "Maggie," the first book he wrote, which 
was published when he was 21. 
It was natural that Crane should want to see actual 
warfare, and editors were eager to employ him. So 



74 Authors and I 

he saw the Gneco-Turkish War, and the Spanish- 
American War, but nothing vital came from these 
experiences. His imagination worked better in a 
room than on a battlefield. 

Yet one thing came out of his experiences of real 
warfare one sentence. When he returned he said : 
" The Red Badge is all right." 






13. WILLIAM HENRY DAVIES 

1TAAVIES is a real poet, an authentic poet, a 
-L simple-minded poet in the noblest sense. As a 
man and as a poet he is the most innocent-minded of 
living writers. He sings because he has to sing, as a 
bird sings, without premeditation, unaware that 
people are listening, and indifferent if they are. He 
has had a remarkable life, very remarkable, but 
before discussing it I should like to copy out a piece 
by him called "Sheep." 

SHEEP 

When I was once in Baltimore, 
A man came up to me and cried, 
"Come, I have eighteen hundred sheep, 
And we will sail on Tuesday s tide. 

"If you will sail with me, young man, 
Til pay you fifty shillings down; 
These eighteen hundred sheep I take 
From Baltimore to Glasgow town." 

He paid me fifty shillings down, 
I sailed with eighteen hundred sheep; 
We soon had cleared the harbour s mouth, 
We soon were in the salt sea deep. 

The first night we were out at sea 

Those sheep were quiet in their mind; 
The second night they cried with fear 
They smelt no pastures in the wind. 

75 



76 Authors and I 

They sniffed, poor things, for their green fields, 
They cried so loud I could not sleep: 
For fifty thousand shillings down 
I would not sail again with sheep. 

This poem is not a fancy. It happened. The 
poet heard the sheep crying on one of the many 
voyages he took when he was a cattleman helping 
to convey cargoes of cattle and sheep from America 
to England. It is all set down in that remarkable 
book by William Henry Davies, called "The Au 
tobiography of a Super-Tramp," wherein the Odys 
sey of his vagrancy in America and Canada, extend 
ing over many years, is told with the artlessness and 
simplicity that mark his poems. A Welshman, born 
in Monmouthshire, this natural truant, this wan 
derer without luggage, this pedlar, hawker, poet- 
tramp, stands out as an Original. Social conventions, 
the nice proprieties of civilised life, were no more to 
him than they are to a dog or a bird. He touched 
life through his passion for reading and roaming- 
that was all. Always he looked forward to the life 
of a student, but he delayed. Throughout his wan 
derings there were long periods when he never 
opened a book, when he was content just to drift 
from county to county, from state to state, and 
watch the world. 

While still a youth his grandmother left him an 
annuity of ten shillings (about two and a half dol 
lars) a week, which sum, to the unambitious serenity 
of his mind, seemed a competence, relieving him 
from the trouble of earning a living. He did not 
always draw the annuity; sometimes he would al- 



William Henry Davies 77 

low it to accumulate, so again and again when he 
returned to England from America he would find 
himself a capitalist. 

He reduced life to its simplest elements. Such 
bogies as the police, doss houses, jails, poorhouses, 
the companionship of thieves and wasters did not dis 
turb him. Airily and companionably he mixed 
with them, but they did not change or affect Davies. 
He went to America because it was far away, large 
and potential ; he stayed there several years, tramp 
ing and travelling long distances without a ticket, 
"working here and there as the inclination seized 
me, which, I must confess was not often." Then he 
set out for the Klondyke, thinking that there "the 
rocks were of solid gold," but meeting with disaster 
(he lost a foot in a railway accident) he returned 
to London and lived in Rowton House, a doss house 
in Newington Butts, where the charge is sixpence 
a night. At the end of two years he left Rowton 
House for less expensive quarters at The Farm 
House, Kennington, as he had handed over two 
of his ten shillings a week to a needy relative. 
At this point Mr. George Bernard Shaw enters as 
the Good Fairy of the Davies history. In the year 
1905 he received by post a volume of poems from 
a stranger. It was marked "Price half a crown" 
(60 cents), and was accompanied by a curt, civil 
letter, asking Mr. Shaw either to send half a crown 
or return the book. Mr. Shaw read the book, deter 
mined that Mr. Davies was "a real poet," "a gen 
uine innocent writing odds and ends of verse about 
odds and ends of things," showing no sign that he 



7 8 Authors and I 

had ever read anything, "otherwise than as a 
child reads." Mr. Shaw bought several copies 
of the poems and sent them to literary friends. 
Then the reviews began, interviews followed, and 
this tramp, this pedlar, this griddler, this hobo, 
this cattleman, this poet, this child of innocence, 
awoke one morning in his doss house (he always 
tried for the bed next to wall, so that he would 
not have a sleeping tramp on each side) to find 
himself famous. He became a Man of Letters 
(the eight shilling a week still kept him, including 
postage and paper, and he wrote his Life "The Au 
tobiography of a Super-Tramp," to which George 
Bernard Shaw contributed a characteristic preface, 
telling, with amazement, the story of finding Davies 
through the post. 

There is little about literature in the autobiography. 
Throughout the pages Davies is content just to live 
with the idea, perhaps lurking in his mind, of one 
day writing out the poems he was forever making. 
Not till his wandering years were over did he 
seriously "commence author." One day in Rowton 
House he sat down to write a tragedy in blank 
verse called "The Robber"; this was followed by 
a long poem wherein dumb nature meets to impeach 
man for his cruelty; then he wrote other things, 
including hundreds of short poems. No publisher 
would take them. He remained in obscurity, dis 
couraged and unknown, adding to his income by 
hawking and peddling, until one day he had the 
happy idea of drawing a sum in advance on his an 
nuity, printing his poems at his own cost, and offer- 



William Henry Davies 79 

ing the book, through the post, to eminent littera 
teurs, on sale or return. 

Now he is arrived. He is a successful poet; he 
lives in the eminent respectability of Bloomsbury, 
and there, as it is a neighbourly section of the world, 
I may hope one day to meet him. There, too, an 
other poet-tramp, an American, Nicholas Vachel 
Lindsay, will, I trust, present himself some day 
during his prolonged sojourn in London. I have 
just reread Lindsay s delightful tramp book, "Ad 
ventures While Preaching the Gospel of Beauty." 
It is so different from the book by Davies. 
Lindsay is self-conscious; he has a mission; his book 
is the work of a literary man, exuberant, gay, who 
sets out with the intention of writing a book about 
his tramp from Springfield, Illinois, to Kansas and 
back. Davies had no thought of writing a book. 
His "Super-Tramp" is written in the way that an 
unmoral, adventurous child might tell his mother 
how he spent a holiday. So his poems were written 
just to tell himself simple and beautiful things 
about the world, about unhistoric, homely men, 
women and children, their sojourning, their strug 
gles, their sorrow and their joy 

The strangest moment of my life 
Is when I think about the poor; 
When, like a spring that rain has fed, 
My pity rises more and more. 

The flower that loves the warmth and light, 
Has all its mornings bathed in dew, 
My heart has moments wet with tears, 
My weakness is they are to few. 



14. RICHARD HARDING DAVIS 

I MET him once. It was a strange encounter. He 
spoke but five words. They were self-revealing. 
From the way he spoke those five words I knew 
approximately the kind of man that Richard Hard 
ing Davis was. 

The time was the month of January, 1900. Great 
Britain s trouble was then the Boer War, and the 
centre of the trouble was the siege of Ladysmith. 
Hemmed within the Natal village was General 
White with 10,000 troops and several war cor 
respondents including young George W. Steevens of 
the Daily Mail, the best war correspondent of 
the day, perhaps the best in the annals. One Satur 
day morning of that bleak January the heliograph 
flashed the news from Ladysmith, and the cable 
flashed it to London, that George W. Steevens had 
passed away. He was my dear friend, so I took 
a train for Merton Abbey, Surrey, where in peace 
time I had spent happy days with Mr. and Mrs. 
Steevens. 

Mrs. W. K. Clifford was with Mrs. Steevens. We 
did our best, and were beginning to calm and com 
fort her when Alfred Harmsworth was announced, 
plain Alfred Harmsworth, then, untitled, founder 
and proprietor of the Daily Mail. He was very 
fond of George, and he was deeply distressed at 
80 



Richard Harding Davis 8 I 

what had happened, so distressed that I found the 
scene too painful to witness. I could do nothing. 
I was in the way, so I pushed open the French 
window and wandered into the garden. There was 
a long pond or lake in the grounds (Merton Abbey, 
associated with Nelson and Lady Hamilton, is now 
pulled down) and at the head of the water was 
an heroic statue. Posed in front of the statue 
I observed a handsome man standing in a hand 
some attitude. 

Being a habitue of the house, and knowing that 
Mrs. Steevens was particular about preserving the 
privacy of the historic grounds, I suppose that my 
eyebrows lifted ever so little, as if to say: "Pray, 
sir, what are you doing here?" 
His voice rang out: "I am Richard Harding 
Davis." 

The fine words admitted of no argument, no dis 
cussion. It was final. He meant it to be so. If 
I did not know who Richard Harding Davis was 
that was my fault, my loss. He was Richard Hard 
ing Davis, and the world, including myself, must 
know it. 

I raised my hat and prepared to retire. There was 
nothing else to do. He raised his hat; we bowed 
again, both enjoying the exchange of courtesies. 
The only mistake I made was in not handing him 
my card. He would have appreciated that useless 
but proper addition to the ceremony. Later I 
learned that Mr. Alfred Harmsworth had invited 
Richard Harding Davis to accompany him in his 
motor car on the visit to Mrs. Steevens, so that 



82 -Authors and I 

he might give him instructions at leisure. Mr. Al 
fred Harmsworth never wasted time. He had djc- 
cided to ask Richard Harding Davis to take 
George s place as correspondent of the Dally Mail 
in South Africa. The rest is history. Davis saw the 
relief of Ladysmith, and presently joined the enemy 
"to watch," as he laconically expressed it, "the Boers 
fighting the same men I had just seen fighting 
them." 

Richard Harding Davis was not a stylist, and he 
had little love or reverence for the tongue that 
Shakespeare spoke and Milton ennobled. He Jast 
used it as a vehicle for the expression of the interest 
that he, a Man of Action, took in life. He liked 
the kind of people and things that Kipling likes, but 
when a headstrong critic called him the American 
Kipling, and another said that his story called "Gal- 
legher" is "as good as anything in Bret Harte," 
these gentlemen wrote nonsense. Kipling, like 
Davis, graduated from newspapers, but Kipling 
is a genius and nothing that Davis ever wrote ap 
proaches within sight of the wonder of Bret Harte s 
Californian tales. 

But Richard Harding Davis was a very remarkable 
man, and few newspapers have ever had such a prize 
reporter and correspondent. One of the finest and 
most awesome stories written during the Great War 
was his account of the entry of the Germans into 
Brussels; and one of the best pieces of descriptive 
writing is his account of how he saved himself from 
being arrested by the Germans, and shot as a spy, 
through remembering, at the critical moment, that 



Richard Harding Davis 83 



he was wearing a hat marked with the name of a 
well-known New York hatter, thus proving his 
identity, saving his life, and giving him a typical 
Davis newspaper story. 

His sense of the dramatic was vivid; he saw him 
self as a person in the drama; and when he met 
something interesting and dramatic he could make 
a vivid story out of it, understandable of all men, 
without circumlocution, and without art. 
He was an ideal magazine writer, and he had the 
sense of personal honour, of doing one s job, of play 
ing the game, of seeing a trouble through and emerg 
ing victorious, that made him popular with every 
kind of reader. How well I remember the emo 
tion and joy with which I first read his story called 
"The Bar Sinister," telling how a street dog, a 
mongrel, proved to be a champion with a perfect 
pedigree. It is beautifully told. I have given away 
copies of "The Bar Sinister" merely to watch the 
reader s heightened colour and air of gratification as 
this fine story unfolds. And "Gallegher," telling 
how the printer s devil made good, came through, 
"beat the town," how gay and full of gusto it is. 
"Gallegher" was enormously popular. Dickens 
would have liked it. Henry James, too. Every 
condition of man and woman likes "Gallegher" and 
"The Bar Sinister." 

He was as well known in London t as in New York. 
Indeed, he was known throughout the world, and 
he took good care not to let the world forget him. 
No war was complete without Richard Harding 
Davis. Correctly dressed, according to martial cos- 



84 Authors and I 

tume (he was no blue-serge suit and umbrella war 
correspondent), he acted as war correspondent in the 
Turkish-Greek, Spanish-American, South African, 
Russian-Japanese wars, and he went twice to the 
Great War. Cuba, the Congo, Egypt, Greece, Cen 
tral America the efficient R. H. D. was every 
where, and always in the limelight. 
His greatest limelight effect was the Jaggers epi 
sode. It was a splendid piece of bold advertisement, 
mixed with the fun of doing it, so swift and suc 
cessful that the advertisement was condoned. He 
asserted that he did not mean the public to know of 
the Jaggers journey which carried the name of 
Richard Harding Davis to the ends of the earth. 
I am sure that he would have been annoyed if it had 
not become known. At that time the District Mes 
senger Service was a new toy in London. If you 
wished to send a quick letter from Kensington to 
Kew, the post being too slow, all you had to do was 
to call up a District Boy Messenger, pay him and 
dispatch him on his errand. Jaggers, aged 14, had 
been employed by Mr. Davis. He was a boy of the 
type of Gallegher, surprised at nothing, ready for 
anything. One day Richard Harding Davis, after 
debating with some friends at the Savoy Hotel 
whether anything would startle or deter Jaggers 
from doing anything in the way of business, he 
casually gave Jaggers a letter addressed to a lady in 
Chicago. Jaggers went, delivered the letter and 
beat the post. Some months later Richard Harding 
Davis married the lady. 
His interests were in the present, in people who are 



Richard Harding Davis 85 

doing adventurous, odd and amusing things. From 
the abundance his quick brain and moving eye 
selected the best magazine features, and he turned 
them into copy with confidence and brilliance, quite 
aware that Richard Harding Davis was doing it, 
and that in his opinion, what he did was the best 
of its kind. 

On February 29, 1916, dire days for the Allies, he 
wrote to his brother 

The attack on Verdun makes me sick. I was there six 
weeks ago in one of the forts, but of course could not 
ihen nor can I now write of it. I don t believe the drive 
can get through for two reasons, and the unmilitary one 
is that I believe in a just God. 

A brave man, a chivalrous man, an honest man, 
who never doubted how the Great War would end. 
He did not see the promised end, but he helped it 
on, "doing the best and finest work of his career 
in the cause of the Allies . . . fretful for the morn 
ing that he might again take up the fight." So 
writes his brother, who has written his Life. 



IS. JOHN DRINKWATER 

I AM an old playgoer, but I cannot recall, in 
all the plays I have seen, a moment so tense 
with spiritual significance as the fall of the curtain 
at the close of the first scene on Lincoln kneeling 
in prayer against the parlour table. It is so simple, 
so perfectly simple, and inevitable. The pageant- 
play called "The Wayfarer," which, at great cost 
and with amazing scenic effects, sets out diligently 
to seek such moments, fails to find one. It needed 
a poet like Drinkwater to pierce through externals 
to reality, and it needed an actor like Frank Mc- 
Glynn to be in the character, not outside, act 
ing it. 

There must be many dramatic authors who, in face 
of the success of "Abraham Lincoln: a Play," are 
saying to themselves, "Why did I not think of this 
as a subject, why did not I write a play on Abraham 
Lincoln, why should an Englishman do it? These 
be mysteries. Yet are they? Did not an English 
man, Lord Bryce, write "The American Common 
wealth," which eminent Americans have called "the 
best treatise on American government?" Is it not 
because distance and aloofness from a subject give 
clearness and simplicity of vision? The man on a 
hilltop looking down upon a wood can write a 
better account of it than the man who is plodding 
86 



John Drinkwater 87 

through the undergrowth. The walker sees the 
trees; the man on the hill sees the shape of the 
wood, and its bearing on the country. Some Amer 
icans who saw the play in London were angry 
because the local colour was sometimes wrong, be 
cause there were anachronisms, because the "hired 
girl" was called a servant-maid, because General 
Grant was made to say, "My word!" instead of 
"By gad, sir," and so on. As if such ephemera 
matter. The shape and bearing of the wood is not 
affected because two or three of the trees are mis 
named. I am reminded of the British colonel who 
protested that he would never read another word of 
Kipling "because, By gad, sir, the fellow is all 
wrong about the number of buttons on the tunics 
of the Heavy Dragoons." 

Why was John Drinkwater, an English poet, not 
very well known, able to do it, when there are so 
many able dramatists who should have been able 
to write a play around Lincoln ? Is it because he is 
a poet and an idealist, who had a vision of Lincoln 
as God s man, and kept that vision clear and 
clean? 

In part that answers the question, but it is not the 
whole answer. Let us look at John Drinkwatcr s 
past. He was born a poet, not by any means a 
great poet, but one whom the Muse had called, 
touched lightly, and to whom she had also given the 
philosophic, spiritual, humanist outlook, say of Mat 
thew Arnold and William Watson. That, by 
itself, is not a very marketable equipment for life. 
Most poets of this kind earn a living in a govern- 



88 Authors and I 

ment office, the Board of Trade, or the British 
Museum, and compose poems in the luncheon hour, 
or during week-ends, adding to their income by 
writing for the Spectator and The Nineteenth Cen 
tury. 

This John Drinkwater did; I mean he wrote for 
high-class weeklies and magazines; but he has also 
moved across a much more substantial and fertile 
background the Theatre. He may be said to have 
been called cradled in the Theatre. His father was 
manager to Granville Barker; and although the 
early years of his life were spent clerking in Assur 
ance companies (safety first is the way of fathers all 
the world over), he eventually stepped into his 
rightful niche as Co-Founder of "The Pilgrim 
Players," and eventually as Producer, etc., to the 
Birmingham Repertory Theatre. There he learnt 
practically and strenuously the business of writing, 
producing, and acting in plays. The poet in him 
had to face facts. Lucky poet! 
One day he read Lord Charnwood s monograph on 
"Lincoln." He took fire, and wrote "Abraham 
Lincoln: a Play." He was ripe for it. The poet 
in him dreamed the dream of Lincoln, the play 
wright and the actor in him curbed and directed 
the poet. It was all so natural ; the circumstances 
synchronised; and the world, tired of self-seekers, of 
politicians masquerading as statesmen, of man-made 
dogmas masquerading as Faith, hungering for just 
such a play, found it in "Abraham Lincoln." 
He is a quiet poet. I can see why he could write 
the simple, unadorned dialogue of "Abraham Lin- 



John Drinkwater 89 

coin," a style that looks so easy, but is so hard. He 
is a contemplative poet who walks serene pastures; 
who makes poems on places and on cloistral 
thoughts. How do you like this, called "Reci 
procity"? 

I do not think that skies and meadows arc 
Moral, or that the fixture of a star 
Comes of a quiet spirit, or that trees 
Have wisdom in their windless silences. 
Yet these are things invested in my mood 
With constancy, and peace, and fortitude, 
That in my troubled season I can cry 
Upon the wide composure of the sky, 
And envy fields, and wish that I might be 
As little daunted as a star or tree. 

Oh yes, a calm poet, a studious poet, who entirely 
forgets when he is writing poetry that there arc 
such poeple as actors, and such places as Broadway 
and Leicester Square. Here are four lines from 
"The Last Confessional": 

For all the beauty that escaped 
This foolish brain, unsung, unshaped, 
For wonder that was slow to move, 
Forgive me, Death, forgive me, Love. 

And here is a fragment from a longer poem called 
"To One I Love": 

I am thirty-six years old, 

And folks are kindly to me, 

And there are no ghosts that should have reason to haunt 

me, 
And I have tempted no magical happenings 



90 Authors and I 

By forsaking the clear noons of thought 
For the wizardries that the credulous take 
To be golden roads to revelation. 

Would you have thought that this kind of poet 
reflective, gentle, companionable, trim could write 
one of the most successful plays of the day, and 
himself, at one time or another, act all, or nearly 
all, the chief characters in the play? 



16. LORD DUNSANY 

T ORD DUNSANY, eighteenth Baron, created 
-L 1439, late captain in the Royal Inniskilling 
Fusiliers, with seats at Dunsany Castle, County 
Meath, Ireland, and at Dunstall Priory, Kent, likes 
America. 

And America likes him. The ovation he received, 
at his first lecture on "My Own Lands," was 
whole-hearted and excited. He might have been 
a conquering general, not a mere poet. Once only 
did he have bad moments. 

It occurred in the reception room at the close of 
his lecture. This tall, athletic poet he is over six 
feet high was receiving the usual gushing congrat 
ulations from the usual bevy of women who delight 
to felicitate an attractive male lecturer, when the 
chorus of flattery was suddenly disturbed by two 
excited Irishwomen, who pushed themselves to the 
front and demanded to know why he had been civil 
to England, and why he had not mentioned the 
distresses of the distressful country. They did not 
frame their questions quite as politely, but that was 
what the questions signified. The author of "A 
Book of Wonder" and "A Dreamer s Tales" 
drooped with astonishment, drooped like an un- 
watered flower. When the questions were repeated 
louder and more violently he answered wearily: "I 
9i 



92 Authors and I 

am a poet, not a politician." With some difficulty 
the excited Irishwomen were persuaded to retire, 
and his admirers were restoring the poet s equa 
nimity when another Irishwoman hurled herself into 
the fray, uttering cries of indignation at the absence 
of any reference to the woes of Ireland in the lec 
ture. Again the distinguished Irishman said sadly 
but politely : "I am a poet, not a politician." Then 
an Englishman made a little ferocious speech which 
was applauded ; the Irishwoman, amazed, withdrew, 
and presently Lord Dunsany was able to escape from 
his first experiences of the Irish in America. 
I tell this story because of the aptness of his reply: 
"I am a poet, not a politician." That is the way 
he writes. He says what he has to say in the 
simplest language; he goes straight to his point as 
all do who, like him, have founded their literary 
style on the Bible. An inferior mind would have 
attempted to explain, to compromise, to placate the 
petty politicians. He contented himself with the 
direct and ample statement: "I am a poet." 
Lord Dunsany likes America for the simple and 
human reason that his plays and books have been 
received with more favour in America than in Eng 
land. Lord Dunsany speaks of the "black neglect" 
which has been his portion in England. To me this 
statement is an exaggeration. "The Gods of the 
Mountain" and "The Golden Doom" were beauti 
fully staged at the Haymarket Theatre, London, 
when that playhouse was under the direction of a 
fellow poet Herbert Trench. "King Argimenes" 
and "The Glittering Gate" were produced by the 



Lord Dunsany 93 

Irish Players, and "The Lost Silk Hat" was given 
at Manchester. These performances may seem un 
important compared with all that Mr. Stuart 
Walker has done for the Dunsany plays at his Port 
manteau Theatre; but they hardly merit the re 
proach of "black neglect." Moreover, the few and 
fit in London hailed his first book, "The Gods of 
Pegana," published in 1905, with acclamation a 
new voice, a new vision. It may not have sold in 
thousands, but Lord Dunsany can hardly have ex 
pected "The Gods of Pegana" which begins, 
"Before there stood gods upon Olympus, or even 
Allah was Allah, had wrought and rested Mana- 
Yood-Sushai" to have the sale of "Dere Mable." 
And I remember reading "A Dreamer s Tales" 
week by week in the Saturday Revieu . Some 
authors would call that delirious success. 
I also remember a great gathering in London of the 
Poets Club, when Lord Dunsany was the guest of 
honour; when he received an ovation; when he 
made a speech that may be described as poetry and 
sense. That was before the war, in which he 
fought gallantly, and those who heard his first 
lecture in New York were glad to realise that the 
tress of war had stressed the poet in him even to 
finer issues. Often on his lips were the words in 
spiration and infinite: with waving arms he wrought 
out from himself the statement: "Anybody can 
give low ideals, that s why I give high ones"; and 
there was dejection in his cry: "I began late at 
23 oh, late ! Think what Keats had done then." 
The word poet is ever in his utterance. To him it is 



94 Authors and I 

the proudest title in the desire of man. But the 
pedantic reader must not expect to find the poems 
of Lord Dunsany in a book shop. If he has written 
poems he has not published them. Yet he is a poet 
because poetry is the heart, and warp and woof of 
all his work. It informs the whole structure as 
colour does a flower. 

He has created a new mythology entirely his own, 
and he calls the places where his gods, kings, queens, 
and camel drivers dwell the Edge of the World or 
the Lands of Wonder. The period is Uncertain, 
or about the time of the decadence in Babylon, or 
the Sixth Dynasty, or today, or a long time ago, 
or any time. But his people all speak plain, simple, 
and beautiful English ; his fancies are always 
founded on facts, and within each play and tale is 
an esoteric meaning, which often does not fully 
express itself until the very end and then wonder, 
delight, and something to roll the mind on. 
His tales and plays are tales and plays of wonder 
and faith. Seek and ye shall find. 
"I am a poet, not a politician." 
It is poetry and faith, not politics and friction, that 
will help to rebuild a broken world. 



17. JOHN GALSWORTHY 

TI7HEN I close my eyes and recall John Gals- 
^ worthy I see his smile. 
It is not an impulsive smile, not the smile that 
ripples over a face unbidden : it is the smile of one 
who seems to have set himself to smile, and would 
perhaps rather cry. For the world weighs heavily 
upon him its problems, its injustice, the veil it 
puts before the face, thus hiding the Beauty that is 
lurking, waiting, eager to be seen and enjoyed. 
This sad knowledge must be kept private, except in 
books, plays and essays. So in public he smiles. 
I wonder if that smile means that he is aware that 
within him are two dark voices forever calling, one 
of abysmal cynicism, the other of soaring sentiment. 
Is the smile like the thick coat of paint with which 
a battleship hides its wounds? 
In his latest books sentiment and cynicism mingle. 
"Tatterdemalion" is compact of the twain. They 
are mingled in the sad, short story called "Defeat," 
which he has converted into a play. The Times 
began its notice with "Beneath the surface we can 
see Mr. Galsworthy s obstinate faith and his passion 
for beauty." In the review of the book, published 
in the Times, a month before the play was pro 
duced, I find this passage "Mr. Galsworthy is not 
afraid to be pitiful, to be a worshipper of beauty, 
95 



96 Authors and I 

etc." You perceive what has happened ? He is not 
now reviewed as a teller of tales, as a maker of 
drama, as an artist ; he is reviewed as a man with a 
heart and a conscience. Can it be that the smile 
does not deceive anybody, that Mr. Galsworthy is 
now accepted as a propagandist of the right kind, 
the very right kind, but a propagandist? Can it be 
that he is now more interested in ideals than in 
characters, in exposing abuses, and all other kinds of 
foolishness than in artistry? Has the preacher over 
come the artist? Yet still he smiles. 
I have just read "Tatterdemalion" and "A Sheaf," 
and I can only say that had these two books been 
sent to me for review, and had the name of John 
Galsworthy been suppressed, I would have given 
them a few lines of pleasant and perfunctory praise, 
with a compliment to the author for his good inten 
tions and graceful, rather oversensitized style. But 
John Galsworthy also is the author of "Justice." 
There, that is my complaint, merely that the man 
who wrote such plays as "Justice," "The Silver 
Box," "The Fugitive" should be publishing such 
excellent but unimportant books as "A Sheaf/ 
"Tatterdemalion," and "A Motley." 
Well do I remember the afternoon I first saw 
"Justice," at the Duke of York s Theatre, London, 
in February, 1910. It was painful but enthralling. 
The play marches with the inevitableness of a 
Greek tragedy, but in "Justice" we are also given 
the modern view, and humanity and humour. I 
shall never forget that Third Scene of Act III all 
stage directions, no dialogue a triumph of dramatic 



John Galsworthy 97 

art. I left the theatre scalded with apprehension 
lest such prison experiences be true. Others felt as 
I did statesmen and legal luminaries, for I am told 
that this play changed the law, or at any rate 
humanised punishment. "Justice" reads as well, 
perhaps better, than it acts. I went through it last 
night at a sitting, and was again profoundly moved. 
Equally vital is the impression made upon the 
reader by another of the Galsworthy plays "The 
Fugitive." Here, too, the drama is unfolded with 
an art and an integrity that grips and saddens to 
the point of tears. I console myself with the reflec 
tion that Clare, had she been anybody else but 
Clare, might a dozen times have evaded her fate; 
but the dramatist had too sure a grip of his charac 
ter. The cynic holds the man of sentiment well in 
hand, and Clare is pursued to the end by, what shall 
I say, by her better self? You see I do not 
complain of such books as "A Sheaf" and "Tatter 
demalion." I only say that being by the author of 
"Justice" and "The Fugitive" they seem slight 
things. In "The Pigeon," which might be called 
"Charity," there are signs of weakening. The thesis 
is clear, but the working out is loose. It is not 
convincing, not inevitable. Did the smile begin 
then? 

This weakening, this desire to teach, not to relate, 
this gradual descent to the propagandist, applies also 
to his novels. What could be better than "The 
Man of Property," published in 1906, that urbane 
criticism and implied appreciation of the old social 
order the Haves in old England, now disappear- 



98 Authors and I 

ing through the assaults of the taxgatherer, and the 
solidarity of the Have Nots. "The Country House" 
was excellent, too, but "The Patrician," and "The 
Dark Flower" no! 

He is a sensitive and rather a recluse, that is a 
recluse who likes to seek people himself, not to be 
sought. I doubt if he enjoyed his American tour 
of lecturing and reading from his works. I heard 
him lecture and read more than once, and had I 
been asked to introduce him to an audience (once 
I came very near doing so) I should have startled 
him and the audience by comparing him to Charles 
Dickens. They had this in common the burning 
to right wrongs. That was the basic motive of 
Charles Dickens, that is the basic motive of John 
Galsworthy. It is explicit in Dickens; it is 
implicit in every play, novel, tale and sketch by 
Galsworthy. Each is at his best when the artist 
overrides the propagandist. 

That is what I should have tried to convey to the 
audience had I been appointed to introduce John 
Galsworthy. Perhaps it is as well that I did not, 
because I should also have been tempted to explain 
his smile. 



18. EDMUND GOSSE 

I HAVE sometimes allowed myself, in Hans 
Andersen vein, to have been present at Edmund 
Gosse s cradle when the fairy godparents were cir 
cling about the promising infant. 
The Fairy of the Future asks him what career he 
will choose. The sapient infant, with a baby 
twinkle in his brooding eyes, replies: "I should 
like to be a distinguished literary man with much 
commendation from the elect, and many friends, 
including troops of peers of the realm." 
This is just the career that Edmund Gosse has had, 
and I am sure he has enjoyed it immensely. Numer 
ous books, always of a high average, have proceeded 
from his eloquent and agreeable pen, including one 
great work, "Father and Son," which in 1913, six 
years after publication, was crowned by the French 
Academy. His friends have been legion, and he 
has written bright essays about all the important 
ones. 

Of course Mr. Gosse knows many intellectual com 
moners, such as George Moore, Maurice Hewlett, 
and Andre Gidc, but his chief friends arc, I opine, 
people of title. This may be due to the fact that 
from 1904 to 1914 he was librarian of the Home 
of Lords. His fairy godmother was very oblig 
ing. 

99 



ioo Authors and I 

And as if all this was not enough, the foremost 
British men of letters in September, 1918, united 
to honour Mr. Gosse. He was the recipient of a 
bust of himself, executed by Sir William Goscombe 
John, R. A., and an address signed on behalf of 
the most eminent, including Mr. Arthur Balfour 
and Lord Crewe. 

"The genial companion of gayer hours" is one of 
the sentences. How true that is, for Mr. Gosse, 
who is witty and anecdotic over dining tables, as 
in relaxation hours at his various clubs, is one of 
the few literary men who can be human when 
delivering addresses on Eminent Ones at the Man 
sion House cr at meetings of the British Academy 
of Letters. Some obtrusive people say that they 
enjoy his writings and occasional speeches because 
they occasionally betray a touch of malice. That, 
of course, is ungenerous. The Times, in its review 
of "Some Diversions of a Man of Letters," put it 
more kindly, with a reference, in passing, to the 
fact that a cat s claws owe something of their sharp 
ness to the velvet in which they are for the most 
part encased. The explanation really is that Mr. 
Gosse s mentality is not dull. It is alert. While 
gazing admiringly at the sun through his large 
gold spectacles he is quite aware that there are 
spots upon the luminary . He sees the oddities as 
well as the effulgence, and he is as much interested 
in the oddities as in the effulgence. So we find acid 
asides in his writings on Tennyson, Ruskin, Swin 
burne, and lesser luminaries such as "Orion" Home, 
and the authors of "Festus" and "John Inglesant" 



Edmund Gosse 101 

that have a way of remaining in the mind longer 
than the eloquent passages. Sometimes, too, his 
talent for friendship and admiration leads him into 
statements that leave the ordinary man who has 
few friends, and fewer admirations, rather breath 
less. This, for example, on Andre Gide: "There is 
no other writer in Europe, at the present moment, 
whose development is watched with so eager an 
interest, by the most sensitive and intelligent judges 
as that of M. Gide." 

Mr. Edmund Gosse s passion for letters is as con 
sistent as it is passionate, and he is as eager today 
as when he first knew Tennyson, Swinburne, and 
Ibsen. What an array of books he can show, includ 
ing a masterwork in autobiography, "Father and 
Son," and a masterwork in biography, "The Life 
and Letters of Dr. John Donne." He has also 
written a novel, a kind of novel, "The Secret of 
Narcisse." And he has the honour of having been 
the first to introduce Ibsen to the English public 
in an article in the Spectator on March 16, 1872. 
For he is a linguist, and it was as a linguist, I 
imagine, that he was most useful at the Board of 
Trade. 

Truly he has been a hard worker, for this inde 
fatigable man of letters, whose books fill shelves, 
has never depended entirely upon literature for a 
livelihood. He has always had pleasant posts, that 
with the passing of the years have, I suppose, grown 
more lucrative, and today when, like Charles Lamb, 
he is Retired Leisure, he draws, I hope, a pension, 
perhaps two. It must be wonderful, in the after- 



IO2 Authors and I 

noon of life, to sit in one s library, many of the 
books autograph copies from friends, and to allow 
the eyes to roam from one s own bust by an emi 
nent Royal Academician, to an address of congrat 
ulation, from the best minds in England, signed by 
a member of the House of Peers. 
Outwardly such a career for a man of letters looks 
very satisf actor)", indeed splendid. How different 
from the lives of Edgar Allan Poe and Francis 
Thompson! But, perhaps reviewing it, Mr. Gosse 
may detect a drop of bitterness. He has never been 
greatly accepted of song. Many books of poetry 
stand to his credit, beginning with "On Viol and 
Flute" in 1873, and ending, for the present, with 
"Collected Poems" of 1911. But is he a poet? Is 
he the real thing? He is an accomplished writer 
of verse, but the real poet sings a different kind of 
song. I cull one at random, his "Whitethroat and 
Nightingale." It begins: 

I heard the Whitethroat sing 

Last eve at twilight when the wind was dead, 

And her sleek bosom and her fair smooth head 

Vibrated, ruffling, and her olive wing 

Trembled. 

Quite pretty, quite cultured, rather forced, rather 
literary, but not the real thing. But poetry was 
his first love, and may be his last. Mr. Gosse is 
quite frank about it. In 1867, at 18, he writes in 
the Introduction to the Swinburne Letters, "I was 
having a feverish and absurd existence, infatuated 
with poetry." He sent some verses to Swinburne, 



Edmund Gosse 103 

and Swinburne, in Swinburnian prose, "turned them 
down." But who can check the desire to write 
verse? Mr. Gosse wrote more and more, and in 
1890 Walter Pater reviewed "On Viol and Flute" 
in the Guardian. The notice is quite nice, but on 
the second page is a reference to "some of our best 
secondary poetry." With that word "secondary" 
Pater let the cat slip from the elusive Paterian bag. 
Later he calls Mr. Gosse a "Poetic Scholar," and 
pretends that the title is rarer than poet, which, as 
Euclid says, is absurd. And Pater quotes one of the 
poems called "Lying in the Grass," of which the 
first stanza runs : 

I do not hunger for a well-stored mind, 
I only wish to live my life, and find 
My heart in unison with all mankind. 

I should have said that aspiration is exactly unlike 
Mr. Gosse. But who knows the heart of the 
poet? Perhaps now that he is free from the 
Board of Trade and the House of Lords, he will 
tell us, ironically or elegiacally, how a Poetic 
Scholar feels in a turbulent world of which one of 
the few sanities seems to be the cultivation of Poetry. 



19. KENNETH GRAHAME 

IT was a mixed and versatile group of men that 
gathered around William Ernest Henley, in 
London, in the early nineties. Diverse in tem 
perament and achievement, Henley was the cord 
that bound them together he, and the fact that all 
were writing, more or less, for the Scots Observer 
and the National Observer. 

Most of these men earned their living by their 
pens, but there were a few of the group to whom 
literature was a well-loved, but a leisure-hour, 
occupation. They held positions with regular 
salaries, and they wrote in the evening or on Sun 
day. I always fancied that I could distinguish 
those who had salaried positions; who were not 
obliged to live by their pens. They looked more 
comfortable; they ate their food in a more leisurely 
way; they were readier to praise than to blame, 
because literature was to them a delightful relax 
ation, not an arduous business. 
Among these leisure-hour gentlemen of the pen was 
a tall, well-knit, blonde man, who moved slowly and 
with dignity, and who preserved, amid the violent 
discussions and altercations that enlivened the meet 
ings of the group, a calm, comprehending demeanour 
accompanied by a ready smile that women would 
call "sweet." 

104 



Kenneth Grahamc 105 

And yet this blonde, temperate, kindly-looking man 
had also a startled air, such as a fawn might show 
who suddenly found himself on Boston Common, 
quite prepared to go through with the adventure, as 
a well-bred fawn should do under any circumstances, 
but unable to escape wholly from the memory- of the 
glades and woods whence he had come. He seemed 
to be a man who had not yet become quite accus 
tomed to the discovery that he was no longer a 
child, but grown-up and prosperous. Success did 
not atone for the loss of the child outlook. Every 
one of us has his adjective. His adjective was 
startled. 

There were so many men in this group, so many 
strangers were continually coming and going, that 
it was some time before I learnt who this blond 
gentleman of letters was. I addressed a question 
to my neighbour at one of the dinners. "Who is 
that man ?" I asked. My neighbour replied, "Ken 
neth Grahame. He wrote that jolly thing about 
children called, The Olympians. Henley thinks 
very highly of him. He s something in the Bank 
of England." 

Time passed. We met several times. Probably we 
did not have much to say to one another, and curi 
ously, one of our meetings, a chance encounter, 
when we did not exchange a word, made a vivid 
impression upon me. Readers of "Pagan Papers" 
know that one of the author s favourite spots is the 
Hurley backwater on the Thames, near "the great 
shadow of Streatley Hill," near where "Dorches 
ter s stately roof broods over the quiet fields." 



106 Authors and I 

By that time I \vas a devoted admirer of Kenneth 
Grahame. I had read "Pagan Papers," "The 
Golden Age," and "Dream Days," and knew his 
standpoint and how charmingly he took it, not with 
the light-hearted genius of Stevenson, not with the 
playful erudition of the author of "Religio Medici" 
but hovering between them, with a gay twist here, 
and a classical tag there. How well, I reflected, 
he knows the heart and spirit of the child: how 
neatly and completely he analyses from the stand 
point of the child-world the stupidity of the adult 
world, its interests in social trifles, and its concern 
for the formal, daily routine that the child knows 
is so unimportant compared with a discovered bird s 
nest, a castle in the clouds, or a new place where the 
river may be forded. "" 

Well, on one of my holiday journeys to the Thames 
the train stopped, as usual, at a riverside junction, 
and on the platform, welcoming friends, was Ken 
neth Grahame, watchful, a little fussy, bothering 
about wraps and a carriage, ignoring two children 
who were of the party, but studiously polite to 
their parents. 

I smiled, and continued to smile long after the 
train had left the station because I was recalling 
to mind the closing passage of "The Olympians." 
That night I reread the lines. Do you remember 
them? 

"Well! The Olympians are all past and gone. 
Somehow the sun does not seem to shine so brightly 
as it used ; the trackless meadows of old time have 
shrunk and dwindled away to a few poor acres. A 



Kenneth Grahame 107 

saddening doubt, a dull suspicion creeps over me. 
Et in Arcadia ego, I certainly did once inhabit 
A ready. Can it be I, too, have become an Olym 
pian?" 

When I examine Kenneth Grahame s small sheaf 
of books I discover that almost all of them are am 
plifications of the idea expressed in "The Olym 
pians" that is, the importance of the child life 
and viewpoint, and the unimportance of the objects 
pursued by the elders or Olympians. For literary 
purposes it was perhaps fortunate that the elders in 
Kenneth Grahame s upbringing were uncles and 
aunts, not parents. 

^ He has one other theme, that of escape : escape 
from prose to poetry; escape from the prose of 
Threadnecdle Street, where the Bank of England 
is placed, and of which eventually he became sec 
retary, to poetry of the trackless meadows to 
Centaurs or trout, to Orion or gypsies, to a human 
uncle or an unsophisticated artist, to anything that 
had nothing to do with banking and prosperity. 
"The Wind in the Willows," published in 1908 
what is it but the attempt of an Olympian to see 
the animal kingdom, through the eyes of a child, 
as an abode where things happen exactly as they do 
in the man world, where the rat, the otter, the 
badger, and the toad act as the man acts. 
"The Golden Age" and "Dream Days" are his best 
works. 

^Just a few little books! A banker s escape from 
the prose and tedium of life. How easy it seems! 
How hard it is to do! "> 



20. THE GROSSMITHS 

THERE were George Grossmith 1 and George 
Grossmith 2 ; there is George Grossmith 3 ; 
there was Weedon Grossmith; there is Laurence 
Grossmith. 

This family of entertainers has held the stage for 
more than half a century. In the eighties George 
Grossmith 1, a ripe, smiling, humorous, shortish 
man, could hold an audience for two hours and more 
with recitals from the works of wise, witty, and 
tender eminent authors. I have sat entranced 
through an evening at the old Birkbeck Institution 
in Breams Buildings, Chancery Lane, London, 
listening to George Grossmith 1 recite Dickens. 
There was no band, no dancing, no songs, but it 
never occurred to us to be bored. His characteri 
sation was neat and jolly. It remains. 
Indeed today whenever I read a remark by Mr. 
Pickwick the words seem to be uttered by George 
Grossmith 1. His only other rival, that is the only 
other entertainer who drew capacity houses in the 
old Birkbeck Theatre, was Samuel Brandram. His 
line was Shakespeare: his triumph was to recite 
an entire play without a book or note. George 
Grossmith 1 was a jolly, rubicund man who 
chuckled. Samuel Brandram was an austere, well- 
groomed, aristocratic personage who modulated his 
1 08 



The Gr os smiths 109 

voice to the utterance of Juliet or Polonius as if he 
was rather conferring a favour on those characters. 
It was very wonderful. But Brandram never aroused 
the laughs that George Grossmith 1 did when he 
described how Mrs. Gamp "bore up," or when he 
impersonated Mr. Weller diagnosing the gout. 
"The gout, sir, is a complaint as arises from too 
much ease and comfort. If ever you re attacked 
with the gout, sir, just you marry a vidder as has 
got a good loud voice, with a decent notion of usin 
it, and you ll never have the gout agin." George 
Grossmith 1 revelled in Mr. Weller and Mrs. 
Gamp. Brandram was always a little standoffish 
with Hamlet, with Juliet and the Nurse. I know 
now the secret of the allure of George Grossmith 1. 
He had humour. 

Time passed: the old gentleman introduced his 
offspring to the world. One night he was billed 
for the first half of the performance only. When 
he had finished he advanced to the footlights and 
said: "Ladies and gentlemen, I now have the 
honour to introduce you to my son, Mr. George 
Grossmith, Jr." 

Tall, eager, alert, with quick, birdlike movements 
and a thin mobile face that never rested, George 
Grossmith 2 became, in a moment, the most popular 
of "drawing-room entertainers." He outran the 
massive geniality of Corney Grain. He was so 
much more modern ; he set the pace which countless 
light vaudeville comedians have since followed. 
Perhaps he derived from the nimble mentality and 
nimble body of Arthur Roberts. Be that as it may, 



HO Authors and I 

he was an active humourist. Probably I have never 
laughed so much in my life as when George Gros- 
smith 2 seized a chair and danced round the stage 
to the refrain of "You should see me dance the 
polka. You should see me cover the ground." It 
was the new humour a facet of it. For the new 
humour with Jerome K. Jerome and Barry Pain 
and Zangwill and Chesterton was then beginning 
to captivate the town. It was time for George 
Grossmith 1 to retire. He knew it. That continent 
of humour called Charles Dickens was shrinking 
before the age of speed. Verbal quips and antics 
drove from the drawing-room stage the leisurely 
urbanities of Mr. Pickwick and Mr. Wellcr. 
George Grossmith 1, like the Phoenix, did his best 
to give the boy a send-off. Little did he think what 
a career was in store for George Grossmith 2 : little 
did he think that his boy would emerge from a 
drawing-room entertainer into the chief actor at 
important London theatres for years and years, and 
that he would be the chief cementer in that amazing 
partnership between Gilbert and Sullivan. The 
parts he played fitted him exactly: they were not 
made for him, he created them. Who could sing 
a patter song like him? 

His articulation, his precision of utterance, his finish, 
his air of neat finality, who has rivaled them? 
Much as I enjoy the Gilbert and Sullivan perform 
ances of today, there is a ghost, there are ghosts at 
the feasts, the ghosts of George Grossmith 2 and 
the others who, under the shaggy martinet eye of 
W. S. Gilbert, created the parts. George Gros- 



The Grossmiths III 

smith 2 was one of my heroes, and once I drew very 
near to him. He lived at Camden Town. I farther 
on. One night I was travelling home by the last 
train when suddenly he sprang into the carriage at 
Farringdon Street. Yes, it was he, and he beguiled 
the sulphurous journey (it was before electrifica 
tion) humming to himself the airs of a new Gilbert 
and Sullivan opera from a big score book. He 
ignored me utterly, but it was thrilling. When he 
alighted I sat in the seat that he had occupied and 
dreamed. 

His father had humour; he had wit, and his son, 
George Grossmith 3, what of him? He has bodily 
agility, mental quickness, he dresses wonderfully, 
he capers and patters, but I am bored and pine for 
the humour of his grandfather, or the wit of his 
father. Perhaps he will develop: perhaps he has 
not yet had his chance. What chance has an actor 
who plays prominent parts in "Go Bang" and "The 
Gaiety Girl," and who is co-author of "The Spring 
Chicken"? 

Weedom Grossmith had humour, the ripe humour 
of his father translated into modern terms. The 
plays and the theatres I have forgotten, but the 
parts that he played, how they lurk in memory. 
Explain Weedom Grossmith and you can explain 
humour. It bubbled up ; it could not be suppressed ; 
it was like the perennial fountain of Charles Lamb 
and Andrew Lang. I remember a whole scene, a 
dining-room, in which he played the part of a 
pleasant parvenu. It had just become "the thing" 
to locate your handkerchief in your sleeve, and 



H2 Authors and I 

Weedon, throughout the scene in which he had little 
to say, was watching how the blades who were 
present did it, and furtively imitating them. It 
was by-play of the highest order, serious fun. Yes, 
he always seemed to be serious. George Gros- 
smith 3 is always aching to be funny. And Weedon 
looked serious; he would talk seriously about paint 
ing and collecting old furniture. But the twinkle 
was always lurking. It came into his eyes one 
morning on the parade at Westgate-on-Sea, when 
I charged him, in collusion with his brother George, 
with being the author of "The Diary of a Nobody," 
a work of delightful humour, which was appearing 
in the pages of Punch. 

Alas poor Yorick! I have for these entertainers, 
who added to the gaiety of the world, something of 
the feeling that Francis Thompson had for the old 
cricketers who added to his infrequent joy. Do 
you know the poem? 

AT LORD S 

It is little I repair to the matches of the Southron folk, 

Though my own red roses there may blow; 

It is little I repair to the matches of the Southron folk, 

Though the red roses crest the caps, I know. 

For the field is full of shades as I near the shadowy coast, 

And a ghostly batsman plays to the bowling of a ghost, 

And I look through my tears on a soundless-clapping host 

As the run-stealers flicker to and fro, 

To and fro: 
O my Hornby and my Barlow long ago! 

Vanished cricketers! Vanished entertainers! Run 
stealers! Laugh stealers! And strange to say 



The Grossmiths 113 

George Grossmith 1, he who loved Dickens, is not 
the palest. Of him it may be said, as the Master 
said of Mr. Jobling in "Martin Chuzzlewit" "He 
was one of the most comfortable fellows you ever 
saw in your life." George 2 was not comfortable, 
neither was Weedon, neither is mercurial George 3. 
Has Laurence an inclination that way? 
A great family, and still active. 



21. THOMAS HARDY 

T TSUALLY I travel with one of his books; it is 
^ well to pause in the hectic gabble-gobble of 
the week s reading and study a page by this master 
of sombre, closely-knit prose. You cannot skip 
Thomas Hardy: you must pause to visualise such a 
passage as "Marty heard the sparrows walking 
down their long holes in the thatch above her 
sloping ceiling to their exits at the eaves": you 
must pause to assimilate such a passage as "A 
north wind w r as blowing that not unacceptable 
compromise between the atmospheric cutlery of the 
eastern blast and the spongy gales of the west quar 
ter." In a word, Thomas Hardy demands respect 
deep respect and diligence and unless you can 
give him that, in full measure, read somebody 
else. 

He is not popular. He never was. Neither was 
George Meredith. The reason is that each is much 
more than a teller of tales: each is a profound critic 
of life, Hardy as a pessimist tinged with irony, 
Meredith as an optimist tingling with buoyancy. 
Each too is a poet. 

These two writers are the two great figures of 
their time, stretching over into the twentieth cen 
tury, who chose the novel as a vehicle for their 
criticism and observation of life. Hardy obsessed 
114 



Thomas Hardy 115 

by the Unfulfilled Intention, Meredith glorying in 
the Fulfilled Splendour. Study these two extremes, 
and you get the mean which is life. 
Once I found myself in Dorchester, and I thought, 
being younger then and bolder, that I would send 
a note to Thomas Hardy by messenger (we had 
been having, during the past year, an interesting 
correspondence) asking if he would allow me to 
be his companion on his afternoon walk. Rightly 
I thought that a tramp through Wessex with 
Thomas Hardy would be something to tell my 
grandchildren. He replied that he would be glad 
to see me at 3 p. m. On my way to Max Gate I 
called at a bookshop in Dorchester and inquired of 
an elderly, prim, and rather tart female if she had 
a copy of Hardy s "Jude the Obscure," which 
had lately been published, and which had been 
received by what is known in England as the 
"rectory public" somewhat superciliously. I 
think it shocked them. In response to my inquiry 
the prim female said that she had not a copy of 
"Jude the Obscure" in stock. "What!" I cried, 
"in his native Dorchester you have not a copy of 
the latest book by the greatest living English 
novelist." She eyed me with hauteur, and, tossing 
her head, said: "Perhaps we have not the same 
opinion of Mr. Hardy in Dorchester as you have 
elsewhere." 

I withdrew. I was too amused to be angry. In 
deed, so amused was I at this encounter with the 
"rectory public" that when I reached Max Gate 
I told the story to Mr. Hardy with glee. He did 



1 1 6 Authors and I 

not smile: perhaps he looked a little sadder than 
usual. For it is a sad, tired face, very gentle, 
with much sweetness, yet alert as a bird s. He did 
not suggest a walk: we sat for an hour in his 
rather dim study, the trees swaying outside, I 
prattling literary gossip, and trying, craftily, to 
make him talk of his work and himself. I began 
to succeed. He told me that he was firmly resolved 
to write no more novels ("Jude the Obscure," 
published in 1895, was the last, for "The Pursuit 
of the Well-Beloved," published in 1897, had been 
issued serially five years before). I believe that he 
was about to tell me why he had decided to write 
no more novels, when Mrs. Hardy entered the 
room. This was his former wife, niece of Arch 
deacon Gifford. Said Mrs. Hardy to me "Oh, I 
want to show you my watercolours." And I, being 
weak, and courteous to the nieces of archdeacons, 
was wafted away. So my interview with Thomas 
Hardy ended. Later, when I was about to depart, 
he came into the hall and looked at me with sad 
sympathy. He accompanied me to the garden gate, 
and as I was in the midst of bidding him a respectful 
adieu he said in his gentle voice "By the by, which 
shop is it where they are disinclined to stock my 
books?" 

When in 1895 Thomas Hardy ceased to write 
novels he turned to his early love verse, that 
strange, haunting, melancholy verse, rhythmic prose 
if you like, yet with a lilt and an undercurrent of 
forlorn melody that distinguishes it from all other 
forms of verse and prose. 



Thomas Hardy 117 

They ve a way of whispering to me 

Fellow-wight who yet abide 
In the muted measured note 

Of a ripple under archways, or a lone cave s stillicide. 

And he has produced "The Dynasts," that amazing 
epic-drama, in three parts, 1903, 1906, 1908, which 
Professor Quiller-Couch told his students at Cam 
bridge is "the grandest poetic structure planned and 
raised in England in our time." And all through 
his long life he has pursued his favourite recre 
ations of architecture and old church and dance 
music. He was trained as an architect, and careful 
readers of his books know how often architecture 
delightfully intrudes. It touches the pages of "The 
Woodlanders," which I am now re-reading for the 
third time, finding every page as absorbing as of 
old, and turning more than once to Marty s final 
cry of faithfulness Marty who "looked almost like 
a being who had rejected with indifference the attri 
bute of sex for the loftier quality of an abstract 
humanism." Yes, the final note of "The Wood- 
landers" is faithfulness. "... But no, no, my 
love, I can never forget ec; for you was a good 
man, and did good things." 

It bears, does this book, all the marks of a Definitive 
edition. Here is the map of the Wessex of the 
Novels, here are Shaston and Sherton Abbas, out 
lying over Blackmoor Vale; and here is the preface, 
signed T. H., with its reference to "the units of 
human society during their brief transit through 
this sorry world." 
Now, I hear of another edition to be called the 



Ii8 Authors and I 

"Mellstock." Yes, I shall have to buy it; but not 
for myself. Nothing would make me give up my 
marked and scored copies of the 1903 Wessex issue. 
What will I do with the "Mellstock" edition? Per 
haps some day, in some little New England town, 
pretty as a poem, I shall find a library which has 
no Thomas Hardy on its shelves. How nice it 
would be to drop the "Mellstock" edition on the 
doorstep one night, so that the dwellers may learn 
what old England was, in the old days, old rural 
England, seen through the eyes of genius. And the 
New England lad or lass, living, perhaps, in a town 
with a good old Dorsetshire name, can say 

William Dewy, Tranty Reuben, Farmer Ledlow la:e at 

plough 

Robert s kin, and John s and Ned s, 
And the Squire, and Lady Susan murmur mildly to me 

now. 



22. BRET HARTE 

AT the beginning of the present century, in the 
spring of 1901 to be precise, a literary 
luncheon was given in London. It was quite inter 
esting. There were present at least six important 
literary people, besides merchants and barristers. 
My kind, lion-hunting hostess had shown me the 
list beforehand, and I had noted with excitement, 
literary excitement, that among the lions was Bret 
Harte. 

During luncheon I studied the lions, and was able, 
by their names and manners, to identify five of them. 
But I could not place Bret Harte. Which was he? 
Finally I addressed a whispered inquiry to my neigh 
bour. She nodded toward a well-groomed gentle 
man facing me across the table. "What," I ex 
claimed in breathless undertone "that Bret 
Harte?" 

Throughout the luncheon I had noticed him with 
some amusement merely because he was a dandy. 
I have no objections to dandies: I like looking at 
them ; they have their place as objects of interest in 
the world, and the mind is interested in speculating 
on the influences or notions that induce a man to 
overdress. It is not easy, after the lapse of so many 
years, to explain why I thought this gentleman too 
adorned. Was it the glint of wax on the moustache, 
119 



I2O Authors and I 

or the hair too artfully curled, or the extra height 
of the collar, or the five buttons on the sleeve, or 
the tricky cut of the coat, that no tailor would 
make on his own initiative? 

That Bret Harte? Yet, why not? Thirty years 
had passed since he left California. This prosper 
ous, feted, dapper, lionised gentleman had become 
a citizen of the old world: he had held important 
official positions United States Consul at Crefeld, 
Germany, and later at Glasgow; now he was living 
at Camberley in Surrey, a highly respectable outer 
suburb of the metropolis, a place of trim lawns and 
retired leisure, where .ascetic bankers and portly 
merchants dwell. 

He gave a twirl to his moustache, .sighed, and re 
arranged his cravat. "Never mind," I murmured 
to myself, but really to him, "never mind, you 
wrote The Luck of Roaring Camp, and Miggles, 
and Tennessee s Partner, and Plain Language 
from Truthful James, and Dickens in Camp, 
and The Society upon the Stanislaus. You live 
now at Camberley, Surrey, but once you resided 
elsewhere : 

I reside at Table Mountain, and my name is Truthful 

James; 

I am not up to small deceit or any sinful games; 
And I ll tell in simple language what I know about the 

row 
That broke up our society upon the Stanislow. 

While this attractive dandy fingered his ring and 
then glanced meditatively, and with approval, at his 
manicured finger nails, something like a tear 



Bret Harte 121 

dimmed my eyes, for this Bret Harte was a master 
of pathos as well as of humour. While I watched 
him the years receded and there stole to memory his 

RELIEVING GUARD (1864) 

Came the relief. "What sentry, ho! 

How passed the night through thy long waking?" 

"Cold, cheerless, dark as may befit 

The hour before the dawn is breaking." 



u V 



No sight? no sound?" "No, nothing save 
The plover from the marshes calling, 
And in yon western sky, about 
An hour ago, a star was falling." 

"A star? There s nothing strange in that." 
"No, nothing; but above the thicket, 
Somehow it seemed to me that God 
Somewhere had just relieved a picket." 

I looked at him sitting there so complacently, so 
decorated, so content to be in a luxurious London 
house in the year 1901. I thought of him as our 
Bret Harte, the world s Bret Harte, in those wonder 
seventeen years in California between 1854 and 
1871, when his genius flowered, apparently without 
effort, nourished by his fresh, uncultured environ 
ment. 

Who can say that he has been enthralled by any 
writings of Bret Harte, written after he left Cali 
fornia? I have read some of them. I have an 
indistinct memory of Spanish Mexican local colour, 
but these post-California things have left no im 
pression upon me. Like the young Kipling in 



122 Authors and I 

India, he was great when he grew from the soil and 
with the soil, but when he fared forth and found 
culture culture caught and desiccated the truant. 
Antaeus, we are told, was invincible so long as he 
remained in contact with his mother earth. Bret 
Harte left California in 1871, his years being 32. 
His work was done, but nobody thought so. 
His journey east has been described as a triumphal 
progress; he was the most popular of American 
authors, and England hailed him as "the long- 
looked for American laureate." He came east to 
affluence. The Heracles of success held him aloft, 
away from his Californian earth, and in 1878 he 
dropped into the nice little post of Consul at Cre- 
feld, Germany. 

I watched him tenderly at that luncheon party. 
One wing of his moustache had fallen somewhat 
out of curl : he gave it a brisk upward twist with his 
elegant white hand. That was the hand that had 
written of Miggles, and Stumpy, and Kentuck, and 
Mr. John Oakhurst, and Tennessee s Partner, and 
Brown of Calaveras, and of the Aged Stranger, and 
the Old Major, and Jim, and Flynn of Virginia, 
and that wonderful spelling bee at Angel s reported 
by Truthful James, and Her Letter, and His An 
swer, also reported by the Truthful One. Well, 
that suffices, that is enough for one man. I never 
addressed a remark to him at that luncheon party. 
I couldn t. Perhaps he had forgotten all about 
California. Perhaps not. 



Bret Harte 123 

I have not forgotten, because I have just re-read all 
his CaJifornian sketches, and all his poems, and I 
am amazed to find how little I had forgotten. I 
snivelled (such happy snivelling) as I always shall, 
when the Judge toasts Miggles, and when the Luck 
"rastled" with Kentuck s finger, and when Tennes 
see s partner "passing by" just looks in at the court, 
and, yes, when by the camp fire beneath the Sierras 
the boy reads "aloud the book wherein the Master 
had writ of Little Nell. " It is easy, of course, 
for anybody to find fault his treacly sentiment, his 
drawn-out pathos, his cheap moralising; yet if you 
admit all these blemishes, which I don t, how splen 
did, how unequalled he is. O rare young Francis 
Bret Harte of California! 

[ am glad that I was not forced to read Bret 
Harte at school, that I came to him by chance and 
with joy. With him as guide I entered a new 
world, which, after all these years, is still new. 



23. JOHN HAY 

MIDWAY through dinner, in the year 1898, 
at one of those cosmopolitan gatherings held 
at the Hotel Cecil by the American Society in 
London, I was told that John Hay was at the high 
table. 

As soon as the speeches began I sidled round toward 
the high table to have a particular look at him. 
For John Hay as a man of letters interested me 
immensely. Incidentally, at that time, he was 
American Ambassador to the Court of St. James; 
but that might happen to anybody. What interested 
me was to see the author of two such disparate 
works as the rough "]im Bludso," written as far 
back as 1870, and the exquisite speech he made in 
1898 at the Omar Khayyam Club, which set all 
literary London talking. As for "Jim Bludso," 
everybody knows it, and most literary folk can 
quote 

He weren t no saint but at jedgment 
I d run my chance with Jim, 
Longside of some pious gentlemen 
That wouldn t shook hands with him. 
He seen his duty, a dead sure thing 
And went for it thar and then; 
And Christ ain t a-going to be too hard 
On a man that died for men. 
124 



John Hay 125 

"Jim Bludso" and "Little Breeches" are the best of 
Hay s "Pike County Ballads." "They rolled out 
spontaneously," says Mr. Thayer in his excellent 
"Life of John Hay," and they ran round the Eng 
lish-speaking world. Eager papers quoted them. 
John Hay, who by instinct and training was a 
modish classicist (he was a bosom friend of Henry 
Adams) was almost ashamed of the success of these 
rough ballads. Their popularity annoyed him, so 
much so that he flatly refused Stedman s invitation 
to include them in "An American Anthology." As 
a youth he desired to be a poet, a real poet, but 
his poetical verse (as Mayor Hylan might call it) 
is no better than the verse produced by thousands 
of young men of culture and breeding. Quite early 
he discovered that for him poetry was not a fame 
or a bread-winner. Perhaps that was why he 
dropped his second name of Milton. 
Two points of interest attach to "Jim Bludso." 
Bret Harte s "Plain Language from Truthful 
James" had been published a month before. Dialect 
was in the air. Bret Harte used a Chinaman, John 
Hay a Westerner. Possibly, probably, Hay had 
read the plain language of Truthful James. When 
J. Hay "dashed off" "Jim Bludso" in the train from 
Boston, it is said, the poem lacked the last two 
lines. Hay showed it to Whitelaw Reid, editor of 
the Tribune; he growled that it needed "some 
thought drawn from it that was vital and would 
live." So Hay sat down and dashed off "And 
Christ ain t going to be too hard On a man that 
died for men." John Hay was a ready man, as 



126 Authors and I 

ready with a Poem as with a Treaty, with a Witti 
cism as with an Arbitration, or with an epigram 
matic couplet such as 

There are three species of creatures who when they seem 

coming are going. 
When they seem going they come: Diplomats, women, 

and crabs. 

Knowing all this you may imagine that I crept with 
some stealthy fervour toward the high table to have 
a better look at John Hay. On the way I thought 
of his "Castilian Days." That is a delightful book. 
It was my companion on my first visit to Spain and 
of all the books I read on Spain that was the cheer- 
fulest and the most intimate and informing. As 
I drew near the high table, bobbing behind an Hotel 
Cecil palm when a speaker paused in his oratory, 
suddenly, I remembered that John Hay had been 
for four years one of Abraham Lincoln s secre 
taries, beginning at the age of 23. He was a Lin 
coln man. He had been in daily, and often nightly 
converse, with the greatest American. Had John 
Hay done nothing else, that, by itself, would have 
been ample honour for one life. I tried to recall a 
passage from a letter he wrote to J. G. Nicolay, his 
fellow biographer of Lincoln. It was a passage 
setting a standard for their joint efforts. Whii^ 
I was trying to recall it I reached the end of the 
high table and there was John Hay. 
He looked a severe man, a thinker, a logician who 
would pursue a subject to its logical conclusion. It 
was an alert face, stern in repose, but when he spoke 



John Hay 127 

it lightened like a gleam of sun through set, grey 
clouds. It was a tired, rather pugnacious face, the 
face of a man with whom it would not be easy or 
safe to trifle. Troops of friends he had, some very 
intimate, some of them great men, but it has been 
said that nobody ever slapped John Hay on the back. 
His mind was witty, not humorous. He could 
never, like Mark Twain, have explained at a fash 
ionable London assembly that the reason he carried 
a cotton umbrella was because Englishmen would 
not consider it worth stealing. His wit was of a 
different kind, as when he wrote to Henry Adams: 
"I have spent the last cent I got for Democracy, in 
minerals for Mrs. Hay." (It was an open secret 
that the novel "Democracy," published anony 
mously, was by Henry Adams.) Oh, and as I gazed 
at John Hay I remembered that another anony 
mous novel, "The Bread Winners," was written by 
this versatile man in the winter of 1882-83. It was 
the novel of the year, but Hay never acknowledged 
the authorship. Silent John Hay! As I gazed his 
face grew stern again. Was he bored? The 
speeches, I remember, were rather tedious. Some 
thing in his face seemed queerly familiar; then I 
remembered that when Zorn etched Hay s head it 
was said that he gave him "the badger-like appear 
ance which the admirers of Zorn so greatly 
value." 

Later in the evening I drew closer to John Hay. 
It was in the prosaic and democratic cloakroom. I 
had made my way to the table, and was about to 
tender my ticket, when I noticed that the man 



128 Authors and I 

behind me was John Hay, patiently waiting, looking 
rather amused at being one of the howling prole 
tariat. I vacated my place, and motioned him for 
ward. He thanked me with a smile; today that 
smile is he. In a glimpse I saw the man, and 
understood the charm he had for those who knew 
him. That smile seemed to lubricate my memory, 
for, on the way home, the passage I had been trying 
to remember, the passage wherein he set the standard 
for writing the "Life of Lincoln," and gave his 
creed as an historian, came to me. I discovered 
afterwards that it is printed in a letter addressed to 
Nicolay, on Aug. 10, 1885: 

"We must not write a stump speech in eight vols., 
8vo. We will not fall in with the present tone of 
blubbering sentiment, of course. But we ought to 
write the history of those times like two everlasting 
angels who know everything, judge everything, tell 
the truth about everything, and don t care a twang 
of our harps about one side or the other. There 
will be one exception. We are Lincoln men all 
through. But in other little matters, let us look 
at men as insects, and not blame the black beetle 
because he is not a grasshopper." 
John Hay and Henry Adams, so different yet so 
closely allied, one so effective, the other so ineffec 
tive, one seeing the world through a telescope, the 
other through a magnifying glass, to me stand out 
as the two finest American minds, short of genius, of 
their time. At Washington, Mr. Thayer tells us, 
they walked together every afternoon "Hay with 



John Hay 129 

one arm crooked behind his back two small men, 
busily discussing great topics or . . ." 
Every honour came to John Hay, every success, 
including a rich and charming wife, but all his 
honours, in these days of lesser men and lingering 
squabbles, fade before one honour that was supreme. 
For four years he walked and talked with, watched 
and listened to that Great Companion Abraham 
Lincoln. 

The knowledge that he was a Lincoln man gave 
to John Hay a wisdom passing the wisdom of states 
men and poets. 



24. W. E. HENLEY 

IT was in 1890 that I first met Henley in the 
Art Journal office. He had been appointed 
consulting editor of that venerable magazine. 
How well I remember the day he attended his 
first Tuesday committee meeting. Imagine a 
Viking blown by storm into a Dorcas assembly, and 
you may visualise the advent of W. E. H. into the 
precise Art Journal parlour. He opened the gates 
of French art to me Corot, Rousseau, Daumier: 
he opened the gates of literature, and I shall never 
again hear such talk as that I heard from men who 
gathered, Saturday evenings, in his house at Chis- 
wick* He was always the chief. I hear now his 
laugh, his thunder, his softness, his savage trucu- 
lence, his infinite gentleness, when he spoke of the 
child, that wonder child, Margaret Emma Henley, 
1888-94, about whom he wrote two poems, one in 
1891, the other in 1897, which now stands as the 
Epilogue to his "Poems"- -"a little exquisite Ghost, 
Between us, smiling with the serenest eyes, Seen in 
this world." The book about this child was never 
written. He tried, but could not do it. 
In after years I took Francis Thompson to call upon 
Henley when he was living in Muswell Hill. By 
that time Henley had "arrived." He was known 
to all literary England. Fame had accosted him and 
130 



W. E. Henley 131 

tarried. He nad expressed a wish to see Francis 
Thompson. This, to me, was tantamount to a 
Royal command, so I conveyed the younger poet to 
Muswell Hill, not without difficulty, and not with 
out apprehension as we approached the house, for 
Francis Thompson had no sense of time. Our 
appointment was for three o clock; it was five 
minutes past five when I rang the bell. All went 
well, however. Thompson idolised Henley, and 
quite naturally took a stool at his feet while Henley, 
a splendid leonine figure, hair and beard now white, 
lounged in a high chair. Each received from the 
other high compliments, and for a considerable space 
of time each compared the other, courteously and 
emphatically, to Virgil. 

Francis Thompson, like many others, indeed all the 
young Intellectuals, had become Henleyites through 
his editorship of the Scots Observer, a sixpenny 
weekly, the title of which was afterward changed 
to the National Observer. Henley edited this fight 
ing journal from 1889 to 1893. It was the best 
written paper of the day; it was anti-sentiment, 
anti-cant, anti-humbug; it was the antithesis to the 
eloquent and robustious sentimentality with which 
Clement Scot filled the columns of the Daily Tele 
graph; it was high Tory; it sided with the claei 
and scorned the masses; it was brilliant and witty 
and hard ; it was written in the best English, and 
every article (except the signed ones) bore the 
impress of Henley s personality. He was the most 
conscientious of editors, and the most autocratic. 
Even when he returned an article it would come 



132 Authors and I 

back to the unfortunate author scored all over with 
Henley s corrections. But he forced his staff to 
do their best, and no young writing man of the 
period was content until he had an article accepted 
by Henley for the National Observer, and later 
for the New Review. 

Kipling s "Barrack Room Ballads," Barrie s best 
early work, appeared in the National Observer, and 
Conrad s "Nigger of the Narcissus" in the New 
Review. Authors were pilloried, politicians were 
pounded, faddists were flaunted. It may be said 
that literary London was divided into those who 
hated and those who adored Henley. We who knew 
the gentle side of Henley s nature also knew that 
in his chief henchman, Charles Whibley, he had 
an adviser whose will to destroy the Clement Scott 
element in literature and journalism was stronger 
than Henley s; it was Whibley s pen and influence 
that gave to the National Observer its bias and 
its bludgeon. It was the most quoted journal of 
the time, but it did not sell. The great public 
was, and is still, faithful to Clementscottalism. Hen 
ley himself told me that the proprietor of the Na 
tional Observer said to him: "I would keep the 
paper going if I could ever look forward to a pay 
ing circulation of 1000 copies a week." 
But it was as a Poet that Henley wanted to be 
known, remembered. So I was glad, one day in 
1920, when I saw in a bookseller s window in New 
York, the definitive edition of William Ernest 
Henley s "Poems." I bought it, I talked with the 
Bookseller, and said to myself. This is fame; this 



W. E. Henley 133 

would have pleased Henley; this would have 
brought a smile into his large, twinkling blue eyes. 
Henley was a human person, and to have known 
that he is remembered and honoured, 3000 miLj off, 
years after he had passed away, would have con 
soled him for a lot of adversity and neglect. For 
this ardent bookseller knew all about Henley ; knew 
that Rodin had addressed him as "Dear and great 
friend"; that in 1898 his "Essay on Burns" had 
been crowned by the "Academy"; that he had 
written a play, "Deacon Brodie" in collaboration 
with his friend, R. L. Stevenson ; that he was part 
author of an amazing Slang Dictionary, and that he 
had edited the Tudor Translations and the Works 
of Byron. 

Re-reading his "Poems" I am surprised to find how 
many numbers have become part of my poetical 
anthology. 

Some of them Vernon Blackburn set to music. He 
would sing them to Henley and to me. They sing 
still. 

Perhaps these poems meant all the more to me be 
cause I loved, admired, and reverenced Henley. 
Yet my affection does not blind me to his demerits. 
He was a mighty huntsman with the pen, a traf 
ficker in personal and arresting sentences, and when 
the inspiration was not entirely fresh and pure 
he would bend words to his service, force them 
into forcible collocations, so that in certain of his 
poems, and in some of his prose, the artifice out 
runs the art. I could never be enthusiastic over 
his "London Voluntaries" and "Arabian Nights 



134 Authors and I 

Entertainments." They seem to be saying, "We 
will be great poems." 

He is never dull, never banal, never commonplace, 
but sometimes I am aware that Pegasus is being 
forced to a gallop. Like R. L. S. he was a stylist, 
but Henley lacked R. L. S. s air of gay ease, also 
Stevenson s facility for popularity. Perhaps it is 
this that made Henley, in after years, jealous of 
his old friend, and vindictive to him. Still, al 
though in "Views and Reviews" Henley skims the 
surface of his subjects overmuch, and sometimes 
hides his lack of spadework in the gusto and quips 
of his style, every page is readable, and the last 
essay on R. A. M. S. (Bob Stevenson, as he was 
called), Louis brilliant cousin, is an essay to ponder 
and to treasure, to rejoice in, and to be very glad 
to have and to hold. 

This volume of his "Poems" contains a reproduc 
tion of the bust Rodin made of his "dear and 
great friend." It is fine, manly, yet gentle, and 
the eyes have the half-closed, peering look, a for 
ward glance, that Henley so often had in intense 
repose. But it cannot give the colour of the man, 
the tangle of red hair, the strong red beard, the 
fair complexion, the Viking look of him; and it 
cannot give his explosions of laughter, the quizzical 
look in his blue eyes, and the way he manoeuvred 
his big maimed body, ever seeking a way to rest 
it, kneeling on a chair, with his hands clutching 
the rail, crouching this way and that way, and 
talking, always talking. 



W. E. Henley 135 

Henley was a great force, a noble influence. Time 
passes. Why is there no biography of him? 
Let me end with a snatch from one of his poems, 
persuasive, stronger than force: 

My task accomplished and the long day done, 

My wages taken, and in my heart 

Some late lark singing, 

Let me be gathered to the quiet west 

In the eleventh line of the poem there is this 
The lark sings on. 



25. "O. HENRY" 

WILLIAM SYDNEY PORTER chose the 
pen-name of O. Henry because he had an 
unfailing instinct in such matters. What an admir 
able pen-name O. Henry is! It is just right, but do 
not ask me to explain why. The titles he chose for 
his volumes of stories are also just right. He 
called his first book of Latin American tales "Cab 
bages and Kings." Perhaps not immediately but 
soon the reader realises how right it was to snatch 
a line from Lewis Carroll 

"The time has come," the Walrus said, 
"To talk of many things; 
Of shoes and ships and sealing wax, 
And cabbages and kings." 

And "The Four Million" for his New York 
stories about the people, always the people. How 
pat in explanation is his introductory note "Not 
very long ago some one invented the assertion that 
there were only Four Hundred people in New 
York City who were really worth noticing. But a 
wiser man has arisen the census taker and his 
larger estimate of human interest has been pre 
ferred in making out the field of these little stories 
of the Four Million. " 
When the new census is established perhaps his 



"O. Henry" 137 

publishers will change the title. It will not matter. 
O. Henry s men, women and observations do not 
change, whether their number grows more or less. 
They are changeless because they are drawn and 
shaped from life. 

Who is this O. Henry? Why is he so amazingly 
popular? Why is he read with delight by the 
Four Hundred as well as by the Four Million? 
Why did a lively Englishman, Mr. S. P. B. Mais, 
when in 1917 he collected his studies in literature, 
call the volume "From Shakespeare to O. Henry." 
That, too, is an excellent title. Pedantic people 
purse their lips and shake their heads. But what 
is a title for? To describe a book, to arrest atten 
tion, to lodge the book in memory. Mr. Mais de 
sired to relate his literary adventures from Shake- 
rpeare and the elder writers, through Samuel Butler, 
Thomas Hardy, Richard Middleton, John Mase- 
field, Rupert Brooke, to the present, to such a 
vitality, so American, so racial, so untouched by 
schools, class rooms and textbooks as O. Henry. He 
was curious about O. Henry; he wondered why 
Professor Leacock in writing of this "mere story 
teller" should call his article "The Amazing Genius 
of O. Henry." He was eager to know why 
O. Henry should have been called by various ad 
mirers "The American Kipling," "The American 
de Maupassant," "The American Gogol," "Our 
Fielding a la mode," "The Bret Harte of the City," 
"The Y. M. C. A. Boccaccio," "The Homer of 
the Tenderloin," "The Twentieth Century Haroun- 
Al-Raschid," "The Greatest Living Writer of the 



138 Authors and I 

Short Story." If he could have looked forward 
a year or so he would have been impressed to know 
that in 1918 the American Society of Arts and 
Sciences decided that their memorial to O. Henry 
should take the form of prizes awarded annually 
for the two best short stories written during the 
year. 

So it fell out that "From Shakespeare to O. Henry" 
was the right title, as were "Cabbages and Kings," 
and "The Four Million." 

Is all this praise of O. Henry justified? Is a 
slangy, boisterous writer of short stories worthy such 
high honour? I think so. Henry did what the young 
Kipling did some years before; what Giotto had 
done in art cenuries before. It is the old story, often 
repeated; they went back to life. They spurned 
the literary and art convention; they looked at 
men and women about them with keen eyes and 
sympathetic hearts; they tell us about them in the 
language of our own day, laughing, crying, scorn 
ing, applauding as their theme urges them to laugh, 
cry, scorn or applaud. The young Kipling and O. 
Henry cared nothing about art for art s sake; they 
grabbed at life; they were watchers of life, mixers 
with life; the yarns they told were about life. But 
each offers something more than the mere yarn; 
each consciously or unconsciously exposes an esoteric 
as well as an exoteric meaning ("O. Henry gives 
you something to think about," said my Negro 
elevator boy), and as each writes about the Four 
Million, not the Four Hundred, each gets the 
approval of the Four Million. 



"O. Henry" 139 

I do not compare or contrast O. Henry with 
other masters of short stories. He is just him 
self; he goes his own rapid, riotous way, with 
everything shaped in his mind: he twists and 
turns in the narrative, he accumulates the char 
acteristics of his characters; he peppers the page 
with argot, street humour, misquotations (inten 
tional), tinges the narrative with pathos and pity, 
and then at the end starts the surprise staggering, 
ironical, subtle but always a surprise. It makes 
my elevator boy think ; it makes me think. 
I acknowledge myself an Ohenryite. A decade 
ago in London I was one of those who by chance 
read "The Trimmed Lamp" volume (it contains 
"Brickdust Row," "The Pendulum," and "The 
Buyer from Cactus City") and forthwith I went 
out and bought the other eleven O. Henry volumes. 
But I do not think O. Henry should be read in 
volume form. The stories were written for news 
papers and magazines, and thus they should be 
enjoyed. In the volume form I am always con 
scious that there are other stories waiting for me. 
That makes me hasty ; makes me skip. In a news 
paper there is one story, no more. I read it once. 
I read it twice. Strange newspapers come into 
my house. They are the newspapers that have 
fallen into the delightful habit of republishing an 
O. Henry story each day. Yesterday I read "The 
Cop and the Anthem," the day before "The 
Assessor of Success," and I am looking forward 
to rereading "A Lickpcnny Lover" and "The 
Social Triangle." 



I4O Authors and I 

He wrote over 250 short stories, some of them 
less good than others. In the wildest or windiest, 
or most improbable, there are always flashes of 
insight. He wrote them at the rate of one a week; 
in some weeks he would turn out two, even three. 
A few were written in prison. Prof. Alphonso 
Smith of the University of Virginia, who has writ 
ten the standard "Life of O. Henry," makes it 
quite clear that he was guiltless of the crime of 
misappropriating bank funds for which he was 
charged and sentenced. Money was not his weak 
ness. A well-known publishing firm, which had 
refused his short stories when he was unknown, 
sent him a check for $1,000 after he had become 
famous for anything from his pen. He returned 
the check. He was a giver; he bestowed money 
as hastily as he made it. 

In New York, as in North Carolina, where he 
was born, in New Orleans, in Texas, he mixed with 
the people. His material was always drawn from 
contact with characters a look, a word and his 
imagination began to work. All sorts and condi 
tions of men (except what the world calls gentle 
folk) flash through his pages, and all sorts and 
conditions of women; but the nearest to his heart 
were the little shopgirls, pretty, poor, steering their 
fragile barqes through the shoals of earning a 
living. Rightly was O. Henry called by Nicholas 
Vachel Lindsay "the little shopgirls knight." 
Through Galsworthy s "Justice" the law relating 
to solitary confinement was humanised. Many of 
O. Henry s stories, sociological documents, state 



11 0. Henry" I4I 

conditions as they are in terms of humour, pity, sym 
pathy and irony. I hope lawmakers read them. 
Regarding advice to literary aspirants O. Henry was 
quite himself. "There are two rules," he said. 
"The first rule is to write stories that please your 
self. There is no second rule." 
His metier was to produce short stories, and of 
course people tried to persuade him to write a long 
novel. Friends are always striving to make a 
creative artist do something against his instincts. 
At length O. Henry entertained the idea of a novel, 
and in 1909 or 1910 wrote a long letter on the 
novel he might write if- The letter was never 
finished. While he was writing it he was caught 
up in the greatest adventure of all. 
The little shopgirls knight! 

Do you remember at the end of Meredith s 
"Rhoda Fleming" that last cry of Dahlia s "Help 
poor girls." 
O. Henry helped them. 



T 



26. MAURICE HEWLETT 

HE Record Office, London, hides. You may 
walk up Chancery Lane and not notice it ; but 
there it is, a little east of the Lane, near Fleet 
Street, a noble building, rather spick and span, a 
cheerful contrast to the musty, mouldering docu 
ments that lie within. When I think of the Record 
Office, which is not often, I think of Domesday 
Book, and Maurice Hewlett. 

Domesday Book was completed in 1086: Maurice 
Hewlett was employed in the Record Office, as 
Keeper of Land Revenue Records and Enrollments, 
from 1896 to 1900. During those four years he 
must have pored over many time-stained parch 
ments written in the centuries that have passed 
since William the Conqueror ordered the census 
or survey of England known as Domesday Book. 
In those four years he garnered from the original 
documents his love for the Past. 
One would have thought that this dry-as-dust oc 
cupation would have stifled the poet in him. Far 
from it. "Pan and the Young Shepherd," pub 
lished in 1898, has in it the steps of youth and the 
scents of spring. It is as fresh as a May morning. 
And if another of his poems, "The Song of the 
Plough," is more sedate (it was written eighteen 
years later), yet this, too, has the lilt and the eager 
142 



Maurice Hewlett 143 

look. He, himself, has the look of a man who has 
thought hard and delved deep, who with the pen 
has trafficked with great men and great ladies, and 
who knows the Scandinavian and Icelandic Sagas 
as we know our daily newspapers. An intense man, 
thin, sturdy, and wiry; energetic; with a face finely 
trained and somewhat battered, eyes that watch, 
lips that utter quick, incisive comments. A fearless 
man! Perhaps that is well, as his wife was the 
first woman aviator, long before the war a builder 
of airplanes, and a daring and skillful flier. 
I wonder if he is popular today. So bright and 
scholarly a writer, so full a mind, should have a 
large circle of readers. Perhaps his mannered 
style is against him (I like it) and his air of pa 
tronage (I like that, too). "Here am I," he seems 
to be saying. "I am one who knows. I write 
what I like. Take it or leave it." 
What would have happened had not Maurice Hew 
lett spent four years in the Record Office, and had 
he not buried himself in the Sagas? Frankly, I 
find all Sagas a bore, and so do most reviewers of 
his latest book, "The Outlaw." It is the fifth 
volume of Mr. Hewlett s "Sagas Retold." I am 
unable to be interested in these huge, monosyllabic 
heroes, these grown-up dolls of Norway, who are 
always fighting about something that is not worth 
fighting about. I prefer Ibsen s people. To me 
Burgomaster Solness is much more interesting than 
Hr.izcnhead the Great. I like his novels of modern 
"The Stooping Lady," "Open Country," 
"Rest Harrow," because I like a personal style and a 



144 Authors and I 

personal outlook and attack, even if the style has 
a twist of the archaic, a turn for inversion, and a 
brilliant determination to be unique. His modern 
novels were "out" when I examined the Hewlett 
shelf of my pet New York Branch Library, but 
there was a closely packed stack of the others. 
"Maurice Hewlett doesn t seem to be very popular," 
I said to the librarian. 
"No," she answered, "he s too fine." 
"Fine" is an excellent word to describe this excel 
lent writer, who may be also called precious, ex 
clusive, and certainly "high-brow." To the real 
reader who appreciates style, and who knows 
that the style is the man, certain of his books 
are a delight. Rarely have I had a greater literary 
pleasure than in reading his "Earthwork Out of 
Tuscany," his first published work, "Little Novels 
of Italy," and "The Road in Tuscany." I know no 
one else who has Italy so fervidly and so delicately 
in his blood. "Little Novels of Italy" is a book 
that will live. The episodes have a charm, pathos, 
and a gaiety that I do not find in the episodes of 
his "New Canterbury Tales." His brain moved to 
Chaucer s England, but his heart speaks in Botti 
celli s Italy. 

It was "The Forest Lovers" that made him famous, 
and showed the world that a new writer had arisen 
who counted. I have just reread that spirited 
romance, and find it as enthralling as of yore. On 
the second page he springs upon his high, literary 
horse, and announces, urbi et orbi, the Hewlettian 
viewpoint : 



Maurice Hewlett 145 

I rank myself with the historian in this business of tale- 
telling, and consider that my whole affair is to hunt the 
argument dispassionately. Your romancer must neither 
be a lover of his heroine nor (as the fashion now sets) 
of his chief rascal. He must affect a genial height, that 
of a jigger of strings; and his attitude should be that of 
the Pulpiteer: Heaven help you, gentlemen, but I know 
wht is best for you! Leave everything to me. 



There ! That is Maurice Hewlett to the life. 
He wove his three modern romances into a trilogy 
(trilogies are fashionable), and his best historical 
romances, although quite dissimilar in theme and 
period, are three "The Forest Lovers," "Richard 
Yea-and-Nay," and "The Queen s Quair," which 
is dedicated to Andrew Lang "by his permission 
and with good reason." Lang, also, had given days 
and nights to the mystery of Mary Queen of Scots, 
she who, tossing high her young head, cried, "Let 
me alone to rule wild Scotland." 
It is reported that a Scotsman after reading "The 
Queen s Quair" said, "And so is the whole lot 
of jhem." 

King Richard Yea-and-Nay, whom we know as 
Richard of the Lion Heart, but here portrayed as 
"torn by two natures, cast in two moulds, sport 
of two fates," was a fine Hewlett subject. It is 
done in great sweeps, fierce and fine in places. I 
prefer "The Forest Lovers," but I like him best, 
I delight in him most, when Italy is his theme. 
Yes! he is a fine writer, .student, romancist, poet 
a man who keeps his youth bravely. I had hoped 
to hear that he had been made Professor of Poetry 



146 Authors and I 

at Oxford University. He was in the running ; but 
the post was given to another, a pity, I think, for 
Maurice Hewlett is a poet in his prose as well as 
in his verse, and he would have led the youth of 
Oxford into delightful, dainty, dashing, and daring 
poetical adventures. 



27. JOHN OLIVER HOBBES 

WHEN I asked the girl librarian (girl librari 
ans, I observe, are always better dressed than 
men librarians) for a copy of the life of John Oliver 
Hobbes, she looked blank and doubtful. "Mrs. 
Craigie," I added "Pearl Mary Teresa Craigie 
you know, the famous novelist American who 
m?de her home in England." 

The girl librarian glided to the card index bureau 
and hovered over Hobbes. "We have some of her 
book* Robert Orange, The School for Saints/ 
The Gods, Some Mortals and Lord Wickenham, 
but no Life. I m sorry." 

I was sorry, too, and somewhat surprised. Born 
in Boston and taken to England by her parents at 
an early age, there becoming famous as novelist, 
playwright, essayist, and one of the wittiest and 
most accomplished women in London, surely her 
Life should be among the books in an important 
branch public library of New York. To me it did 
not matter, for I knew that clever, charming and 
witty lady well, and can write about her without 
opening a book. 

About 1890, Mr. Fisher Unwin, eager to enliven 
publishing routine, determined to issue the Pseudo 
nym Library. He had this literary adventure, in 
the way of publishers, whispered through the press, 
M7 



148 Authors and I 

and he placed the arrangements for the Psuedonym 
series in the hands of one of his clever readers (a 
"reader" is one who reads and reports upon manu 
scripts), Mr. Edward Garnett. This able literary 
critic, whose wife is the translator of Turgueneff, 
has a keen sense for the new note, and new talent. 
So when among the many manuscripts sent in, he 
one day picked from the pile and tasted "Some 
Emotions and a Moral," by John Oliver Hobbes, he 
knew at once he had found the book that, in every 
way, was suitable to inaugurate the Pseudonym 
Library. Mr. Garnett has since told me that he 
was first attracted by the handwriting. It was very 
small, very neat, very firm (those were the days be 
fore typewritten manuscript) original and confident, 
as if saying, "I am in a different class from ordinary 
writers"; and it was written in violet ink upon 
thick cream-laid paper. Pearl Craigie was a wise as 
well as a witty woman. She made plans. She 
left nothing to chance. 

"Some Emotions and a Moral" had an instant 
success. It was short; it could be read at a sitting; 
the story was rapid and amusing; cynical yet kindly; 
well expressed ; and obviously, John Oliver Hobbes, 
whoever he was, could write, was a scholar, and a 
linguist, and had a quick eye for the fancies and 
foibles of London society. This first book was as 
unlike George Eliot s first book as any book could 
be. The only resemblance between them was that 
each author had chosen a male pseudonym, and each 
had immediate success. George Eliot was a recluse, 
John Oliver Hobbes was a mondaine: George Eliot 



John Oliver Hobbes 149 

never thought that she was a mondaine; John 
Oliver Hobbes sometimes thought that she was a 
recluse. 

"Some Emotions and a Moral" was not a great 
book, but it was vastly entertaining. It cheered 
people: it made the idle rich feel that they were 
intellectual and rather uncommon ; it made the 
busy intellectuals feel that, with luck, life might 
become more engaging than books. 
Easily I fell a victim to the swift charm of "Some 
Emotions and a Moral" (I have quite forgotten 
now what it was all about) ; I provided elderly 
ladies with copies, and they asked me to dinner in 
requital for the pleasure the book had given them. 
One day I said to myself, "I must know this John 
Oliver Hobbes." So I addressed a letter to him 
care of his publishers, expressing my admiration, 
and saying how much I should enjoy meeting John 
Oliver Hobbes. The reply, to my astonishment, 
came from Pearl Mary Teresa Craigie, then 24 
years of age: the letter was sent from her father s 
home in Lancaster Gate. He was John Morgan 
Richards, a leader of "The American Society" in 
London, one of the finest types of American gentle 
men I have met, and a man of ideas and action 
who revolutionised the art, or business, or eyesore, 
whichever you like to call it, of advertising in Eng 
land. His wife, Laura Richards, was a woman of 
genius who expressed herself amazingly not in 
book or pictures, in everyday life. 
It was to her father s house that I was invited to 
tea by Pearl Craigie. She had been married at 19 ; 



150 Authors and I 

it was an unhappy marriage. After much study 
and preparation she had launched her first book, 
and found herself famous in society and in literary 
circles. Our friendship began that day and con 
tinued. She had, I think, as quick and lively a 
mind as any woman I have ever met. She sparkled 
in conversation; her brown, lustrous eyes would 
dance with merriment when she had said something 
or seen something that roused her irony, her com 
passion or her ire. Her father s house became a 
centre of literary and social hospitality : at luncheon 
and dinner parties, with covers often laid for twen 
ty, you met all kinds of eminent people, and you met 
them again at his country place, first Norris Castle, 
and later Steephill Castle in the Isle of Wight. 
The centre of every function was this brilliant 
young American woman, whom her father idolised, 
and whose quick mind and historical knowledge 
worked in public affairs as eagerly as in literature. 
It was an open secret that her counsels were sought 
by more than one eminent statesman. She was 
also intimately interested in religion, philosophy, 
and music. The literary world was astonished one 
day to find in the Sunday Sun a whole page 
review by John Oliver Hobbes of Arthur Balfour s 
"Foundations of Religious Belief." As to music 
I remember one evening in her drawing-room the 
conversation turned upon the acting of prima 
donnas. Mrs. Craigie was amusing on the subject, 
and finally she took the centre of the room and 
regaled us with a series of parodies of great singers 
who attempt to act in opera. She continued for 



John Oliver Hobbes 151 

an hour singing and acting, familiar with the 
music, familiar with the ways of prima donnas. 
It will be observed that I have wandered from John 
Oliver Hobbes as writer to Mrs. Craigie as woman 
in the limelight. She filled each role with spirit 
and success; but as writer she never reached the 
first rank. I think she realised this. She had 
almost every gift except the supreme gift of genius. 
She was not a George Eliot, and she lacked the 
human sympathy of Mrs. Humphry Ward. Bril 
liant, metallic, artificially elegant and smart are 
the words that rise to my lips when I re-read the 
novels and plays of John Oliver Hobbes. Her 
brilliant mind wrote because writing was the career 
that she had chosen, and in which she meant to 
succeed. 

The real expression of her talent was "Some Emo 
tions and a Moral" and the small books in the 
same genre that followed it "The Sinner s 
Comedy," "A Study in Temptations," and so forth. 
Her longer books, the large canvasses, such as 
"The School for Saints," and "The Gods, Some 
Mortals, and Lord Wickenham," although done 
with great care and art, and packed with good 
things, somehow always fell short of the best, as 
did her plays. She never wrote a slovenly page; 
she put her best into everything and yet, and 
yet! 

She was the best dressed woman in London, and at 
a dinner party with a congenial companion, she 
was unparalleled. The dialogue in her books 
was quick and epigrammatic: her talk was better. 



28. THE HOUSMANS 

THERE are two Housmans as you know: there 
is Alfred Edward, and there is Laurence. 
Perhaps you have heard Laurence lecture in an 
American city : you may have heard Alfred Edward 
lecture at University College, London, or at Cam 
bridge; but that is not likely, as his subject is 
Latin, and much as you may enjoy the tongue that 
Virgil spake, it is improbable that you would 
choose to spend an afternoon listening to a Pro 
fessor of Latin. Yet your curiosity to see the 
author of "A Shropshire Lad" may have been so 
great that you were willing to smuggle yourself 
as a student into a Cambridge or London class 
room to listen to a lecture on Latin. 
A. E. Housman is a one-book man. Laurence 
Housman has written many volumes. 
When I call A. E. Housman a one-book man I 
am thinking of him as the author of "A Shropshire 
Lad"; for though they may be tremendously im 
portant, neither I nor you, reader, is habitually 
interested in his other productions, say, "Manilius," 
Book I, edited 1903; Book II, 1912; Book III, 
1916; and "Juvenal," edited 1905. 
But everybody who cares anything for poetry is 
interested in "A Shropshire Lad." This little 
volume of 96 pages was published in 1896, and, if 
152 



The Housmans 153 

the author of it cares about fame, he has the satis 
faction or amusement of knowing that this little 
volume has made him famous. A score of times 
during the twenty-four years that have elapsed 
since it was first published, I have met men and 
women who knew it, who could quote from it, 
and who always expressed surprise that the author 
had written no other books. (They don t call his 
Latin editions books.) 

It has been my habit to explain to some would- 
be Housmanites that A. E. s attitude toward 
literature is consistent, understandable, and admir 
able. The making of the poems in "A Shropshire 
Lad" filled his life, and occupied his thought until 
he was well on in the thirties, and an equal period 
may elapse before he is ready to publish a second 
volume. His well-balanced mind, caustic and 
cynical wit, and classical training, urge withdrawal 
from the literary arena until he is quite convinced 
that his second book is as austerely and funda 
mentally himself as his first effort. This eminent 
Cambridge don, Professor of Latin and Fellow of 
Trinity, lives in a hesitant environment, and for 
better or worse lacks the "go-in-and-win-my-boy" 
confidence of a Richard Harding Davis. 
Laurence Housman has a great admiration for his 
elder brother, and during his recent visit to Amer 
ica allowed himself to be interviewed by a repre 
sentative of the Evening Post on the Housman 
family in general, and on A. E. in particular. I 
am afraid that the headlines of the interview, run 
ning right across the page, rather startled A. E. in 



154 Authors and I 

"the scholastic seclusion of Cambridge." I copy 
them out. 

"The Famous Shropshire Lad and His Brother. 
"Years Ago A. E. Housman Created a Master 
piece. 

"Since Then He Has Been Silent. 
"Now Laurence Housman Tells Us About Him. 
"And of His Own Adventures Among American 
Poets." 

I can imagine A. E. saying when he reads these 
headlines "So that is the way they do it in Amer 
ica. How curious!" 

The interview is excellent and informative. We 
are told that it was dislike of anti-climax that 
prevented A. E. from publishing more poems after 
"A Shropshire Lad." It was "too successful." 
He was besieged with offers for his next book 
(publishers are awful). To the most importunate 
of them his answer was: "This volume was thirty- 
five years in the making; I shall write the next just 
as slowly." And he allowed himself to give the 
following definition of the writing of verse: 
"Poetry is something that gives one a strange sen 
sation in the back of the neck, or down the spine, 
or a funny feeling in the pit of the stomach." 
He is a strange figure, we are further informed, 
retired largely into himself. In the last two decades 
he has written from 400 to 500 lines of poetry, 
every line chiselled and polished, but up to the 
present only one of these poems has appeared in 
print. 
So his admirers must for the present content them- 



The Hottsmans 155 

selves with re-reading "A Shropshire Lad." I 
have just done so. For the past week I have 
carried the little volume about in my pocket, dipping 
into it all times, re-reading it until I know almost 
by heart many of the grim, sad, ironical, cynical, 
tender, clear-cut little poems. It is the most un 
affected of books. It is absolutely without pose 
or artifice, yet you feel that it has been wrought 
upon until simplicity can be no longer simplified. 
The attitude of this Shropshire lad is akin to that 
of Thomas Hardy in many of his poems. They 
might be brothers in spirit. If A. E. is directer 
than T. H. he is quite as morose. The burden of 
the world is lyrically heavy on each. A. E. can 
never enjoy the present moment because he is 
always looking before and after. 
When this Shropshire lad (you get to know him 
very well through these poems) went to London 
his thoughts in the train were all of the past, 
never the future. He always uses the right word, 
the neat word; and the thought is always clear 
and candid, but never joyful. 

Laurence Housman is more a man of the world. 
He is keener in getting wrongs righted than in the 
accuracy of Latin texts; in the equalisation of the 
franchise than emendations of Juvenal. His 
interests are many playwriting, fiction, art, crafts 
manship, poetry, woodcuts, fair) tales. He has 
published many books, and I suppose that the most 
popular, the most successful was "An English 
woman s Love Letters," issued anonymously in 
1900. This sensitive and sentimental book led the 



156 Authors and I 

critics a pretty dance. For weeks guesses at the 
authorship were made in the literary journals, and 
all sorts of people had to deny that they had 
written "An Englishwoman s Love Letters." Then 
one day a student of modern belles lettres brought 
into the Academy office an article proving, through 
citations from other books by Laurence Housman, 
that he was the author of the confessions of this 
love-hipped Englishwoman. That ended the quest, 
Laurence now acknowledges the authorship of this 
pretty book. He did not conceal that he was the 
author of "Rue." 

Very many people in England and America are 
grateful to him for that delightful play "Prunella, 
or Love in a Dutch Garden." I cherish a moving 
memory of his "Bethlehem: A Nativity Play," 
and I have just read his "King John of Jingalo." 
About this I feel, as I feel about other of his 
books, and about his poetry and illustrations. It 
is on the threshold of being a fine book but it 
does not quite succeed in being one. As to "The 
Sheepfold" a curious experiment in biography, it 
would have been better if fiercely pruned to half 
the length. It is in him, I believe, to write a great 
book. 

Meanwhile he has done a service to letters by 
reminding a busy world of A. E. and incidentally 
of himself. 

Laurence has strong views about American Free 
dom, and American Poetry, and is fearless and 
polite in expressing them. 



29. WILLIAM DEAN HOWELLS 

MY early reading of Howells (it began quarter 
of a century ago) had a curious effect. I 
imagined that all American men and women had 
the subtlety of insight, the delicacy of perception, 
and the beautiful manners of the ladies and gentle 
men in the novels of Mr. Howells. I held that 
idea until my first visit to the United States, and 
really it persists a little still. I am always expect 
ing to meet a Kitty Ellison or a Lydia Blood, and 
young men whose one desire in life is to be gentle 
and sympathetic to young ladies. And when I was 
told that Mr. Howells was raised in Hamilton, 
Butler County, Ohio, that as a boy he set type in 
a remote newspaper office, and worked his way up 
through rough-and-tumble journalism, I pictured 
him supposing Ohio to be in the wild I pictured 
him as a sort of Buffalo Bill, a lion among ladies, 
with a big, soft heart, a sombrero hat, and an 
amazing power of divining the antecedental epi 
sodes of a proposal. Years afterward, when I 
met him in New York, I found him, well, you 
know a quiet, kindly, and observant gentleman, 
sanely and sweetly interested in the respectable side 
of life, and I wanted to say to him, "Dear Mr. 
Howells, do you really think that people have the 
"57 



158 Authors and I 

abnormal intuitions that you ascribe to them in 
your books?" 

I have just, after a quarter of a century, re-read "A 
Chance Acquaintance" and "The Lady of the 
Aroostook." I went through them with immense, 
quiet pleasure and immense astonishment pleasure 
in the rippling gaiety of the stories; astonishment 
at their finished art and understanding. The char 
acterisation is as direct as a primitive picture; the 
humour is as fresh as a drawing by George du 
Maurier. I prefer him to Henry James, I prefer 
him to Anthony Trollope. His girls are adorable, 
his middle-aged ladies are witty, his middle-aged 
men accept their destiny cheerfully, and, oh ! w r hat 
a relief it is to read a mild teacup Howells novel, 
after the tempest flagons of modern fiction. 
I freely admit that the Howells young men are 
unlike the doughboys who marched down Fifth 
Avenue behind General Pershing. Mr. Howells 
young men would never sing, "The Gang s All 
Here." One of them, a man of fashion, a club 
man, calls another clubman in friendly conversation 
"a goose," and this is how Staniford explains him 
self to Dunham in "The Lady of the Aroostook": 
"I can t turn my mind to any one thing I m too 
universally gifted. I paint a little, I model a 
little, I play a very little indeed; I can write a 
book notice. The ladies praise my art, etc." Per 
haps young Americans did talk like that in the 
heyday of Victoria. Readily I accept it from the 
au chor who once wrote: "Oh, human life, how 



William Dean Howells 159 

I have loved you! and would I could express all 
I see in your poor foolish face." 
But I owe William Dean Howells a further debt. 
He has given flesh and blood, and dear human 
frailties to the Brahmins of Boston. Under his 
pen they become human beings, not mere Proper 
Names in the Century Dictionary: mere catalogues 
of perfected deeds. When I pick up his "Literary 
Friends and Acquaintances," published in 1901, I 
see and listen to Emerson, Lowell, Hawthorne, 
Thoreau, Holmes, Longfellow, Whittier, Mrs. 
Stowe, Harriet Prescott Spofiford, Bayard Taylor, 
Motley, Parkman, Norton, Higginson, Dana, and 
Channing. I hear Emerson say that John Brown 
had made the gallows glorious like the cross; that 
Hawthorne s "Marble Faun," is "a mush," and that 
Poe was "the jingle man." Howells at 23 won 
the affection of Hawthorne thus: the author of the 
"Marble Faun" had been saying that Thoreau 
prided himself on coming nearer the heart of a pine 
tree than any other human being. To which 
young Howells replied, "I would rather come near 
the heart of a man." I hear Holmes say, "Haw 
thorne is like a dim room with a little taper of 
personality burning on the corner of the mantel," 
and I seem to be present at that dinner party when 
"Holmes sparkled and Lowell glowed, and Agassiz 
beamed" and Howells listened. I hear Lowell 
saying to him, "Sweat the Heine out of you," and 
I sec the card of introduction to Emerson that 
Hawthorne handed to Howells. On it he had 
written, "I find this young man worthy." 



160 Authors and I 

Well, it is a great life if you don t weaken. Wil 
liam Dean Howells of Ohio, Boston, and the 
world never weakened. He passed on in harness, 
watching with shrewd, glimmering eyes the America 
of his day passing away. 



30. HENRY JAMES 

I WAS never a Henry James man. Admiration 
yes: perhaps even reverence; but, to be 
frank, for years I have not had the patience to read 
him. The day is short, and to peruse a Henry 
James novel properly would take the leisure hours 
of a week. Would it be worth while? What has 
happened when his long, involved tale is told? 
Am I any the wiser or better? Have I been 
amused or edified? Has anything been added to 
my life? In reading a novel, say, like Herges- 
heimer s "Java Head," I get something a place, 
an epoch, the customs of a time, but most of Henry 
James novels give me only an aroma of genteel 
society, of people who have analysed their feelings 
to such an extent that they have no feelings left, 
and a style sometimes exquisite, always sensitive, 
but so involved and long-drawn-out that at the 
end of a chapter I say to myself, "Why am I 
reading this? Why, why, why?" 
Of course, there arc stories by him that set his 
fame and can never be forgotten. I am their great 
admirer. There was "Daisy Miller" and "Rod 
erick Hudson" and "Washington Square" and 
"The Portrait of a Lady" and essays on certain 
artists with whom he was in sympathy, and every 
thing he wrote about Venice. Sometimes I think 



1 62 Authors and I 

that the most beautiful work he did was about 
Venice sad, meditative essays, wistful and wan 
tonly wayward, but so beautiful. 
Henry James was never a popular author. No 
book of his reached the best selling list, but he 
always had his few and extremely ardent admirers. 
Henry Harland was one of them. It was at his 
fiat in Cromwell Road in the nineties that I first 
met Henry James. Even then he was a lion, an 
acquiescent Old Master among the living. He 
paced the room, ponderously complacent, with his 
air of determined hesitation, and the young writers 
gathered there gave him homage and waited for 
his words. It was the thing to do. It was always 
the thing to do. I can never remember the time 
when Henry James was not a Feature and a Figure 
in London life. He stood apart. He was Henry 
James, and whether you read him or not there he 
was Henry James. 

This lover of England and English ways found the 
exact spot in the world that suited him, that might 
have been made for him. It was Lamb House, 
a Georgian dwelling, at the top of one of the twisty 
streets of Rye in Sussex, perched above the marshes 
and the sea, a jewel set in the plain, as Coventry 
Patmore called it, with its sister town, ancient 
Winchelsea, also on its hill three miles away. He 
would receive chance guests with a courtesy and 
kindness that erred only on the side of a massive 
cordiality that made many of his guests speechless. 
They did not know where to look, or what to do, 
when he was seeking the right word in a sentence 



Henry James 163 

from which you had long given up all hope that 
he would ever recover the verb. 
At Lamb House he suffered me gladly on several 
occasions. Year after year it was my custom to 
spend a portion of the summer at Winchelsea, and 
what was pleasanter than to cycle over to Rye 
with a few friends, and call upon Henry James. 
The telephone had not penetrated to Winchelsea, 
and I cannot imagine Henry James using it, 
although he did essay, with gravity and dignity, 
to ride the bicycle. His partiality for it was 
brief. 

Our visits were prefaced by a polite letter, and a 
politer answer. The ritual of the adventure was 
always exact. Each episode, each afternoon was the 
same. I see again the stocky, impressive figure, 
with large head and the observant eyes, advancing 
with outstretched hand into the cool hall, from the 
garden study, a book under his arm, usually French. 
This would be followed by a stroll round the trim 
lawn, a disquisition, uneasily accurate, on the 
flowers and the views, followed by a set tea at a 
table perfectly arranged. Our host, if the company 
was sympathetic, would talk slowly, laboriously, 
delicately, with swift, ponderable efforts of humour, 
embracing all in the conversation, and startling the 
timid when he directed toward them a question or 
a comment. Sometimes there was a pause in the 
conversation. When this happened the pause could 
be felt. On such occasions I would try to save the 
situation. Once, during a pause longer than usual, 
in despair, I praised the canary. For some seconds 



164 Authors and I 

Henry James gave the bird his undivided attention, 
then he said "Yes, yes, and the little creature 
sings his songs of gratitude and admiration with-er 
the slightest modicum of encouragement from-er 
me." 

If I say more about Henry James as a Man than 
as a Writer it is because he impressed me more 
as a Man than as a Writer. 

The Man grew greater as he grew older. I saw 
him several times in the early months of the war, 
and whenever I saw him I thought of those three 
pregnant words of Shakespeare s: "Ripeness is all." 
Ripe was the word for him, but the cataclysm of 
the war and all it meant made him unutterably 
sad, not uselessly sad, far from it, for he was 
ceaselessly at work for humanity. He went no 
more to Rye: he spent his spare time visiting 
wounded soldiers, talking to them, comforting 
them. What Tommy thought of Henry James 
and of his talk will never be known, but Tommy 
knew well that this big, distressed man, this Great- 
heart, felt for him and loved him, even if "the old 
buffer" was unable to express himself in Tommy s 
language. This all happened in those days, those 
dire days when England, his beloved England, had 
her back to the wall. Then it was that he became 
a British subject. It was, as he said, the least 
that he could do. Then it was that he produced 
a phrase of five words that are perhaps to English 
men the best known and the most cherished among 
the millions of words that he wrote. He referred 
to the English as "that decent and dauntless race," 



Henry James 165 

and Englishmen who have never read one of his 

books, and never will, are proud and glad. 

On Lamb House, Rye, a tablet has been placed 

bearing these words: "Henry James lived here 

1898-1916." 

It will be a place of pilgrimage. 

What would he have said if he could have known 

that, of all his books, his "Letters" is the most 

popular ? 



31. RUDYARD KIPLING 

IN 1889 we in London who were living by 
literary journalism, began to talk with awe and 
wonder about a new Anglo-Indian author called 
Rudyard Kipling, whom his intimates addressed as 
Ruddy. 

My friend Vernon Blackburn got to know him and 
to idolise him; and it was through Vernon that I 
began to hear wonder talk about Rudyard Kipling. 
He was not a society man, or a frequenter of clubs: 
he was a worker, an investigator of London human 
ity, like O. Henry in New York, a prowler about 
the streets who would copy the names of striking 
thoroughfares in his note book, and talk to anybody 
who was engaged on an interesting job. He was 
an old young man, who checked and chided Ver- 
non s youthfulness. Sometimes Vernon would be 
admitted into the Kipling workshop. He told me 
how the author of "Barrack Room Ballads" would 
rush to the window when a soldier passed down the 
street; how he would compose stanzas at white 
heat, one after the other, and rush upstairs each 
time to read the new effort to his parents ; and how 
once when he was declaiming "The Blind Bug" 
to Vernon, and had reached the line "He flipped 
the blind bug into the dark" he suited the action to 
the word so vehemently that the blood spurted. 
1 66 



Rudyard Kipling 167 

We bought, not without difficulty, and read and 
re-read those collections of stories, in blue paper 
covers, with the imprint of an Indian publisher 
"Soldiers Three," "In Black and White," "Under 
the Deodars" and all the other wonders .of ^prose 
and verse. For a poet, too, a writer of swinging, 
haunting verses, who used slang without fear and 
without reproach, was this young Anglo-Indian 
who took young literary England by storm. 
The dons of Oxford and Cambridge were rather 
shy of Kipling, but the undergraduates opened 
their Norfolk jackets to him, and by 1890, when 
he published "Life s Handicap," and in 1891, "The 
Light That Failed," he had won his way almost 
into the ranks of the "best sellers." "Barrack 
Room Ballads" was not published till 1892, and 
by that time even the Quarterly Reviewers were 
almost ready to accept his violent wayfaring with 
the tongue that Shakespeare spake. Of course when 
"Kim" was published Kipling became a classic. 
W. E. Henley had prepared the way for the intro 
duction of "Barrack Room Ballads" into the 
fortresses of classicism by publishing them week by 
week in the Scots Observer. Henley, being 
joint author with Farmer of "The Slang Diction 
ary," was of course vastly interested in Kiplingese. 
Reading the proofs in the office of the Scots 
Observer in Westminster, he would roar with 
laughter and hammer the table with blows of 
delight. One of the ballads especially pleased 
him. Turning to me he said : "Will you take this 



1 68 Authors and I 

telegram when you go?" He handed it to me. It 
contained three words: "God bless you!" 
Parties and functions are not for Kipling. He is no 
hermit, but his friends have to be of his own 
choosing. I heard about the oyster supper parties 
he gave when he was living in one of the dim little 
streets by the Thames near Charing Cross, and 
once I was taken by Vernon Blackburn to see 
him in the house that his father had rented in the 
Earl s Court Road. It was a Saturday afternoon: 
he was at work before a roll-top desk, and carved 
upon it (he did it with his penknife) w r ere the 
words, "Oft was I weary when I toiled at thee." 
He read us the poem he was then writing. No, he 
did not write it out: his mouth was his pen. That 
has always been his way, to compose a poem in his 
head, to get it right and taut, and when it is all 
done to copy it out on paper in his clear, small 
handwriting. He read fiercely. 
The next time I saw Rudyard Kipling was under 
rather shameful circumstances for which I was not 
responsible. I was staying at Rottingdean, a sea 
side place in Sussex, and, having an idle hour, 
succumbed to the blandishments of a char-a-banc 
conductor to see the sights of the neighbourhood. 
We were driven past the village green and pond, 
past the Burne-Jones dwelling to a white house in a 
garden surrounded by a high wall. "Sight No. 1," 
shouted the conductor. "This is the house of the 
celebrated author, Rudyard Kipling." The con 
ductor craned his neck, rose on his toes, and said, 
in an excited voice, "If you will stand up, ladies and 



Rudyard Kipling 169 

gentlemen, you will see the celebrated author in a 
garden hat, just entering his porch." Can you 
wonder that soon afterward Mr. Kipling moved 
from Rottingdean and settled in a delightful old 
house near Burvvash, in Sussex, where there are no 
char-a-bancs and no tourists. 

Once more I saw him a chance encounter. I was 
cycling from Rottingdean to London, and in a 
puncture interval at a wayside blacksmith s en 
countered him in a mess of grease and rags assisting 
in taking a motorcycle to pieces. That was the 
mechanical Kipling, the author of the difficult-to- 
read mechanical, technical stories. 
There was nothing technical, just sheer inspiration, 
in the article that appeared in the London Spec 
tator describing how Shakespeare, strolling one 
afternoon into the pit of the Bankside Theatre, fell 
into conversation with some sailors, plaited hair 
and rings in their ears, and obtained from them the 
seafaring knowledge that he used in "The Tem 
pest." The article was unsigned. We wondered 
who the author might be ; we sought in vain. Years 
later an American publisher issued this article as 
a pamphlet-de-luxe. It was signed Rudyard Kip 
ling. 

And there was nothing technical about the speech 
he made at a Royal Academy banquet, one of his 
rare appearances in public, wherein he gave an 
account of the first artist, he who took a charred 
stick from the fire and made a sketch on a rock 
of his companions bringing home a deer. "How 



170 Authors and I 

did it go?" I asked a Royal Academician. "Great!" 
he answered. "Great ! We were spellbound." 
It is a chastened Kipling that holds our attention 
in "The Years Between," but there is much of the 
old fire and lilt, and more of the fine preacher 
quality he showed in "Recessional." Who can 
wonder ? 

In this volume he returns to the theme which he 
worked so beautifully in that "Tempest" article in 
the Spectator. For in "The Craftsman," a poem 
of seven stanzas, the old magic, he tells how 
Shakespeare garnered the material for his craft 

How, while he hid from Sir Thomas s keepers, 
Crouched in a ditch and drenched by the midnight 
Dewe, he had listened to gipsy Juliet 

Rail at the dawning. 

How on a Sabbath, hushed and compassionate 
She being known since her birth to the townsfolk 
Stratford dredged and delivered from Avon 

Dripping Ophelia. 

Book after book by him appears. They may vary 
in interest: they may be different, as "Stalky" is 
different from "Recessional"; but in each and all 
there is the magic that starts somewhere, if not 
everywhere, in everything signed Rudyard Kipling. 



32. ANDREW LANG 

A BOUT the autumn of 1888, two young men 
* * with literary ambitions (my friend W. Pett 
Ridge was one, I was the other) put their excited 
heads together, and determined to publish a book. 
The volume was not to their own honour and 
glory; it was homage to Andrew Lang, to his 
honour and glory. The "Languid Lang," who had 
a consistent sense of humour, may have smiled his 
weary smile at the notion. I know not, I was 
much too far advanced in awe and admiration of 
him to inquire if he considered our action funny. 
Enthusiasm begat the book, the enthusiasm of youth 
for a Master of their trade who had succeeded so 
wonderfully in doing, in the Daily News, what 
we were trying falteringly and poorly to do to 
write. Those were the days when the Daily 
News was the most literary of the London journals. 
It had upon its staff a small constellation of liter 
ary stars, including Richard Whiteing, author of 
"No. 5 John St."; but the brightest star was 
Andrew Lang, humourist and scholar, humanist 
and poet. He did not sign his editorials, or leaders 
as they are called in England: their place on the 
editorial page was third or fourth, following the 
nuisance of the political, economical, or sociological 
leaders. He always wrote on literature or some- 
171 



I 7 2 Authors and I 

thing allied; but whether on books, folklore or 
people, on fishing, fal-fals or cricket, his leader was 
always graceful, amusing, and clear as a dewdrop: 
scholarly but the learning was worn lighter than 
a flower; allusive he seemed to know all poetry, 
ancient and modern, all characters in fiction, and 
all about fairies and heroes, and folklore, and 
ballads. Above all, his leaders had humour that 
bubbled up and overflowed from every subject he 
played with. These leaders appeared three or four 
times a week, and I confess that my first employ 
ment each morning was to search for the Lang 
leader, to read it carefully and with delight in the 
train going down to the city, to cut it out, and 
later to discuss it with Pett Ridge, who was even 
more of a Lang enthusiast than I. 
One day we had the daring notion of collecting 
the Lang leaders, retrieving them from the files of 
the Daily News and of writing to Mr. Lang and 
suggesting that they should be published under the 
title "Lost Leaders." Our hero agreed, languidly, 
without enthusiasm. It was one of the parlour 
poses of this tall, silent aristocrat of letters, with 
the aquiline features and the wavy locks parted in 
the middle, carefully cut; with the air of a sensi 
tive child tossed into a chilly and clamorous world, 
that nothing was worth while, that everything was 
rather a bore. If he approved of our enthusiasm 
he certainly never showed it. 

The book duly appeared under the title "Lost 
Leaders," 1889, one of the long list of his books. 
What an array! There were at least sixty begin- 



Andrew Lang 173 

ning with "Ballads and Lyrics of Old France" in 
1872, passing through "Ballads in Blue China," 
1880, "Custom and Myth," 1884, the yearly Fairy 
Books, Blue, Green, and Yellow, the translations 
of the "Iliad" and the "Odyssey," Scottish History, 
down to "The World s Desire" in collaboration 
with Rider Haggard, another novel in conjunction 
with A. E. W. Mason, interspersed with heavier 
volumes such as the "Life of John Gibson Lock- 
hart," and "The Making of Religion." Add to 
these more books of verse and jeux d esprit such 
as "Pictures at Play," a funny running comment 
on the Royal Academy exhibition which he rattled 
off through a few May afternoons with W. E. 
Henley. 

All these by no means represent his production; 
he was forever writing articles and causeries, and 
there were the lectures he gave periodically at St. 
Andrew s University and elsewhere. He spoke 
his lectures in an Oxford drawl, and always seemed 
a little surprised when he made his audience 
laugh. 

A great worker: yet when you saw him dreaming 
through long summer afternoons at Lord s cricket 
ground, or doing bad rounds on the golf links, 
you would think that he was a man of leisure 
instead of the hardest working literary journalist of 
his day. That he was, but he also accomplished 
his work with almost incredible ease, always pre 
tending that he knew very little, and that what he 
did know was hardly worth expressing. He never 



174 Authors and I 

relaxed either this amusing affection or his indus 
try. 

I am told that he was beloved by his intimates, but 
to the casual person, eager to admire him in draw 
ing room or club, he was distant and unresponsive. 
I think he was a disappointed man. He raised high 
hopes at Balliol College, Oxford, whither he went 
from St. Andrew s, which perhaps were never ful 
filled. Jowett predicted that he would be a great 
poet, and it is said that he hoped his poem, "Helen 
of Troy," published in 1882, would "set the Thames 
on fire." It did not. 

But the poet in him never ceased. He produced 
verses with the ease that he produced his leaders 
and literary articles. It was said he could write 
an article so quickly that if he began it standing he 
would finish it before he gave himself the trouble 
of sitting down. 

Mr. Edmund Gosse, who in his "Portraits and 
Sketches" has written the best memory of "Dear 
Andrew with the brindled hair," as R. L. Stevenson 
addressed him in a poem, gives us an example of his 
quickness. One day Gosse showed him Emerson s 
famous epigram called "Brahma." Lang, who 
detested Emerson (I don t know why) read it with 
"a snort of derision," and immediately improvised 
this parody: 

If the wild bowler think he bowls, 
Or if the batsman thinks he s bowled, 
They know not, poor misguided souls, 
They, too, shall perish unconsoled. 



Andrew Lang 175 

I am the batsman and the bat, 

I am the bowler and the ball, 

The umpire, the pavilion cat, 

The roller, pitch, and stumps and all. 

This, as Mr. Gossc justly remarks, would make a 
pavilion cat laugh. 

Having made up his mind that he was not to be 
a great poet, Lang allowed his muse to be merry, 
sad, or musical, according to his mood. His muse 
just picks up her skirts and trips on. 

There s a joy without canker or cark, 
There s a pleasure eternally new, 
Tis to gloat on the glaze and the mark 
Of china that s ancient and blue. 

He can laugh whimsically at himself as in the lines 
he addressed to Doris: 

Doris, I, as you may know, 
Am myself a Man of Letters, 
But my learned volumes go 
To the top shelf like my betters, 
High so high that Doris could 
Scarce get at them if she would 

Doris, there be books of mine, 
That I gave you, wrote your name in. 
Tooled and gilded, fair and fine: 
Don t you ever peep the same in? 
Yes, I see you ve kept them but 
Doris, they are "quite uncut." 

His fancy played: it played, and yet was serious, 
with everything from Folklore to Fishing, from 
Custom and Myth to Cricket and Meters, from 
Ariadne to annual art exhibitions. One of his 



176 Authors and I 

funniest smaller books was "How to Fail in Liter 
ature." He told the beginner exactly how to 
do it. 

His memory was amazing. Not even Lamb excels 
him in the number of his allusions. Some he 
worked over hard. He was particularly fond of 
"wet, bird haunted English lawns," and of 

Like Dian s kiss, unasked, unsought, 
Love gives itself, but is not bought 

He was Victorian in his love for Morris "Earthly 
Paradise" and Rossetti s "Poems," but his chief 
devotion was for Matthew Arnold. There was 
something of that aloof Olympian in Andrew Lang: 
each was an aristocrat of letters; Lang s tempera 
ment was sympathetic to the undercurrent of sad 
wistfulness that runs through Matthew Arnold s 
poems. 

One of his books that will surely live is the version 
in English of the "Odyssey" he made with Pro 
fessor Butcher. Not long ago I read a fine essay 
by a soldier inspired by "a mildewed Butcher and 
Lang," which had been read and re-read by exiles, 
tense with waiting, in a Red Cross hut at Brest. 



33. WILLIAM J. LOCKE 

I" N the late nineties I began to know a tall, 
* graceful, well-dressed youth, who was then 
Secretary of the Royal Institute of British Archi 
tects. It was in the Bodley Head Parlour, in 1897, 
that we first met. This fair young man of distin 
guished appearance wore his clothes with such an air 
that I was inclined to cultivate him. He was W. J. 
Locke; he had just published "Derelicts," and I had 
not read it. Such things happen. Later we met 
at teas and evening parties, and I remember think 
ing how fortunate the Institute was in having a 
secretary (most secretaries are so stuffy) who was 
a man of the world with charm, tact, and a 
capacity for listening as well as for talking. He 
held that position from 1897 to 1907, cultivating 
literature in his leisure hours, wooing the muse so 
assiduously that within this period he published 
ten novels. His first book, "At the Gate of 
Samaria," goes back to 1895. In 1906, "The Be 
loved Vagabond" was issued. With this book he 
stepped into the Locke easy stride, or perhaps I 
should say the Locke gay amble, an amble that his 
readers find so pleasant that he has become one of 
the most popular and well-liked novelists of the 
day. So successful was "The Beloved Vagabond" 
177 



178 Authors and I 

that within a year of its publication he took his 
silk hat for the last time from its peg in the office 
of the Royal Institute of British Architects, and 
became William John Locke, novelist, one of the 
few graduates (Mathematical Tripos 1884) of St. 
John s College, Cambridge, proposing to live en 
tirely by the pen. 

I* count myself a Locke man. If I can t borrow 
a new novel by him, I buy it. I do so because I 
know that I shall have entertainment, that I shall 
mix with people of breeding whether they be low 
born or high born, people with ideas and ideals, 
who behave themselves, and who take it for granted 
that there is something more in life than getting 
and spending. He is not insular. His writings, 
like those of Henry Harland, have the Gallic touch 
and esprit. He is a man of feeling, his books are 
debonair, and if he deals sometimes with sad things, 
he does so with an air, showing us that, as in life, 
they pass; and that good may issue from them. 
He does not soar to heights or plunge to depths; 
he is a cheerful writer, who pursues the mot juste 
with a lilt, and who delights to turn a phrase 
happily. Briefly; his novels cheer me, and he has 
introduced me to a lot of agreeable, lovable, and 
fantastic people. I do not pretend to remember 
them all, but pleasant hours troop back when I 
look through the amusing list of his books that 
his publishers (or he) designed for the "By the 
Same Author" page in "The Red Planet." Here 
it is: 



William J. Locke 179 

IDOLS 

JAFFERT 

VIVIETTB 

SEPTIMUS 

DERELICTS 

STELLA MARIS 

THE USURPER 

WHERE LOV1 IS 

THE WHITE DOVE 

SIMON THE JESTER 

A STUDY IN SHADOWS 

A CHRISTMAS MYSTERY 

THE WONDERFUL YEAR 

THE FORTUNATE YOUTH 

THE BELOVED VAGABOND 

AT THE GATE OF SAMARIA 

THE GLORY OF CLEMENTINA 

THE MORALS OF MARCUS ORDEYNE 

THE DEMAGOGUE AND LADY PHAYRE 

JOYOUS ADVENTURES OF ARISTIDE PUJOL 

If I were Mr. Locke I would warft to keep the 
neat pattern of this design. It will be easy to find 
titles longer than "Joyous Adventures of Aristide 
Pujol" ; it will not be so easy to find titles shorter 
than "Idols." ... I have been thinking hard, and 
suggest "Them," "You," "Oh," "I." 
Reading one of Locke s novel s, "The House of, 
Baltasar" in a train and enjoying it, I was arfnoyed 
by the efforts of a Stranger in the adjoining chair 
(he was reading Snaith s "The Undefeated") to 
draw me into a conversation on the relative merits 
of Locke and Snaith. He was also interested in 
and troubled about William de Morgan. I 
snubbed him, I wanted to read; but he would not 



180 Authors and I 

be suppressed. Presently he asked me where I 
would place Locke and Snaith in regard to what 
he called "the big men." He was so persistent and 
so pleasant that I finally closed "The House of 
Baltasar" (it wasn t Locke s fault), and answered 
him something in this wise 
"If we agree, and I suppose we do, that the greatest 
modern English-writing novelists are Dickens, 
Thackeray, Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, George 
Eliot, Hawthorne, Meredith, and Thomas Hardy, 
then we have a clearly defined first class. That 
being so, I should place Joseph Conrad in the 
running as a candidate for the lower ranks of the 
first class, not there yet, but promising. Kipling is 
also a candidate. He may yet write another "Kim." 
Midway in the second class, perhaps two-thirds 
down, I should place Locke and Snaith, and, some 
distance below, William de Morgan. I place Con 
rad high because he is a master of style, perhaps, 
after Thomas Hardy, the best writer of English 
now living. I place William de Morgan low be 
cause he has no style at all. He was a voluminous 
and volatile letter writer. Locke is a gay and 
sensitive stylist; Snaith is impersonal, clear, and 
forcible." 

"What I want in my fiction reading," said the 
Stranger, "is the story; I don t bother about style. 
William de Morgan can tell a story fine. He s a 
bit long-winded, but he gets there. Did you ever 
see William de Morgan ?" 

"I saw him once," I answered. "It was in the 
second year of the war. I had gone into an iron- 



William /. Locke 181 

monger s shop in Chelsea to buy a penknife. While 
waiting I could not help being interested in a vener 
able but rather draggled Early Victorian so he 
looked who was having an animated discussion 
with the proprietor of the shop. The assistant 
informed me that the old gentleman was often 
there, that he had invented a device for locating 
submarines, and that the friendly ironmonger was 
helping him with the model. Bits of metal were 
scattered over the counter. 
"Who is he?" I asked. 

"He s rather a famous old bird," answered the 
assistant. "A lot of eminent men live in Chelsea." 
"Indeed, what s his name?" 

"He s Mr. William de Morgan the potter. He 
writes books, too, I m told." 
"That s a good one, Doctor," said the Stranger. 



34. E. V. LUCAS 

YOU owe me, my dear Lucas, a cab fare. When 
we meet in London after your journey through 
India, Japan and America, I will claim it. 
As you are, besides being the most successful liter 
ary man of the day (I don t count such folk as 
popular novelists and playwrights), a person with 
a nice sense of honour, I am sure you will indorse 
my claim to that cab fare. 

Here are the facts: When I suddenly decided (was 
it because John Galsworthy dedicated "A Motley" 
to you, and "Tatterdemalion" to Mrs. Lucas?) to 
write about you, naturally I called at my favourite 
branch Public Library. 

"Have you any books by E. V. Lucas?" I asked. 
In a few minutes there stood upon the table a pile 
of nineteen volumes all for me. I hailed a cab. 
There was no other way. 

On consideration I do not think that I will charge 
you for the cab fare because of the pleasure I 
enjoyed in going through nineteen books by you. 
Most of them were familiar to me, and many a time 
I laid down a volume, and recalled the days when it 
was written back, back to our first meeting. That 
must have been in the early nineties, soon after 
you had settled in London to enroll yourself as a 
student at University College, Gower Street You 
182 



E. y. Lucas 183 

were always a writer, always making mental notes, 
always observing, and even in those days you held 
your pen askew, your half pen, for you always 
broke the holder in two and threw away the upper 
half, between your first and second fingers; and 
you wrote, oh so quickly, with the lines running 
up the page, not along it, in little words minute and 
so difficult to read. I believe you still dislike the 
typewriter, almost as much as you detest the motor 
car. 

Even in those days your humour, always a little 
sardonic, a little atrabilious, began to spurt forth, 
and it found a pertinent and impertinent outvent 
in the "By the Way" column of the dear old pinky 
Globe newspaper, the cradle of so many writers 
(including myself) who "commenced author" by 
writing "Turnovers" (so-called because they 
turned over the page) at a guinea a time. I believe 
you were actually on the staff of the Globe and 
when you find how popular in America the Funny 
Column is, it may amuse you to write an essay 
claiming that the "By the Way" column of the 
Globe, a hundred and more years old, was the 
parent of these wise, witty, tender and caustic 
Columns. 

Those days and these! You have indeed made 
good. You began in the most modest way; you 
tiptoed into die sea of literature, making no splash, 
hardly a ripple, on a Brighton paper, was it not? 
Something under a quarter of a century passes and 
here is Mr. Edmund Gosse after reading your 
happy book "The Phantom Journal" asserting that 



184 Authors and I 

you are "more proficient in the pure art of the 
essayist than anyone since R. L. Stevenson." And 
here is Mr. Clement K. Shorter saying that you 
have had "the most entrancing career as a man 
of letters of any living writer in England." You 
are the only writer of my acquaintance who runs 
into new editions so quickly that I become quite 
giddy. Reviewers love you and say no end of things 
about your charm and humour. Everybody seems 
to read you from Mr. Edmund Gosse to your sea 
side landlady, and everybody likes you and says, 
"What a nice man he must be! I should like to 
meet him." I smile at that because I know how 
retiring you are: by that I mean that you prefer to 
choose your friends, not be chosen ; that you are 
splendid on a country walk, and delightful at a 
remote cricket match, but that in a club lounge or 
at the high table of a public dinner a curled-up 
hedgehog, compared with you, is a hail-fellow-well- 
met. 

How many books have you published? I give it 
up. But I know that very soon the interesting 
list, that authors sneak into the page "facing title" 
which is called "Books by the Same Author," will 
have to run over to a second page. Has this ever 
happened before? I doubt it. But at least I can 
attempt to group your books. Your first was a 
book of Poems ("that nobody knows anything 
about") : your second was "Bernard Barton and 
His Friends" published in 1893. There are the 
Essays, such as "Comedy and Character" and "Fire 
side and Sunshine"; the Wanderer books, such as 



E. V. Lucas 185 

"A Wanderer in London" ; the Lucasian novels (not 
really novels) such as "Over Bemerton s" and 
"Landmarks"; the Poetry, Prose, and "Letter" 
anthologies, such as "The Open Road," "Some 
Friends of Mine" and "The Gentlest Art"; the 
Books for Children, such as "Anne s Terrible Good 
Nature" and "The Slow Coach"; the Humorous 
Books, such as "Wisdom While You Wait." And 
there is "The Life of Charles Lamb." 
Besides all this you are a busy literary journalist 
writing regularly for the London Times Literary 
Supplement and other journals; you are Assistant 
Editor of Punch, very useful, and often rather 
bored at the Wednesday dinner when the Cartoon 
is discussed; and you are a publisher s reader, and 
I believe a partner in the firm of Mcthucn & Co. 
You must have, I think, what the world calls a 
good business head. You told me once that you 
have never sold a book outright, that you always 
retain a royalty. With such ever-selling anthologies 
as "The Open Road" and "The Friendly Town" 
and the "Wanderer" books this foresight must be 
agreeably rewarded. You make friends of the 
right kind ; your mind is so compact and inquisitive, 
your opinions so reasonable, your judgment so sound 
and independent of ulterior motives, your outlook 
so humorous and unbiased by convention, your 
silences so eloquent, your conversation so alert and 
to the point, when it does break out, that you make 
friends in all worlds the literary and the sporting; 
in art circles and in those devoted to billiards, 
conjuring vaudeville and sport. Your clubs arc 



1 86 Authors and I 

The Athenaeum, the Burlington Fine Arts, and the 
National Sporting Club. Indeed, it may be said 
of you that nothing human is alien to your sympathy 
but the diverse humanity you seek must have 
character and comedy and play the game, whether 
it be annotating Lamb, planting bulbs, singing a 
comic song, or capping quotations. You are sym 
pathetic, but you are also always an observer, 
never an actor, and an observer with an inward 
and not always a gracious smile. 
It will be observed that I consider you a wise 
youth: You had a four-square literary foundation. 
As a young man you set yourself the gigantic task 
of writing the "Life of Charles Lamb" in two thick 
volumes, and editing his works. You did it su 
premely well, and the years of research you gave to 
it furnished you with an erudite and canny knowl 
edge of the literature of the period, and opened 
the way to many of your later books. On Charles 
Lamb s shoulders you climbed up from the horde 
of writers, carrying Elia with you, loving him, and 
learning much from him. It was easy because as 
humourists and observers you are much akin, and 
it is the humourist and the observer that the world 
loves in you and Elia, whom you rightly call "the 
most lovable figure in English literature." You 
understand Lamb beautifully. In the famous inter 
view between Charles Lamb and Carlyle when 
Elia pulled the Sage s leg, so quietly but so naught 
ily, your comment is: "The history of misunder 
standing has few things better than this. I like to 
think of the poor broken-down Cockney sizing up 



E. y. Lucas 187 

his visitor in a twinkling and deciding to give him 
exactly what he merited." 

You have also, my dear Lucas, done a thing which 
many essay writers and versifiers would like to do, 
but they shrink from the attempt through lack of 
encouragement, aplomb, and a publisher. You have 
compiled an anthology from your own Prose, Verse, 
Letters, and Child Things under the title of "A 
Little of Everything." It is excellent reading. 
My favourite is the essay called "A Philosopher 
That Failed" Oliver Edwards, the solicitor, who 
is famous, for ever and ever, because he once said 
to Dr. Johnson: "You are a philosopher, Dr. 
Johnson. I have tried, too, in my time, to be a 
philosopher, but I don t know how; cheerfulness 
was always breaking in." 

Of your fugitive poems I like best that called "The 
Cricket Ball Sings," but perhaps that would not be 
fully appreciated in this land of Baseball. Here is 
a stanza: 

Give me the fieldsman whose eyes never itray from me, 

Eager to clutch me, a roebuck in pace: 

Perish the unalert, perish the "buttery," 

Perish the laggard I strip in the race. 

Grand is the ecstasy, soaring triumphantly, 

Holding the gaze of the meadows is grand, 

Grandest of all to the heart of the ball 

Is the finishing grip of the honest brown hand. 

In an essay, a delightful reminder of Elia, called 
"My Cousin the Bookbinder" that dear man, 
that unforgottcn Bookbinder, speaking of Charles 



1 88 Authors and I 

Lamb, says, ". . . this little one who calls himself 
Elia is all for quietness and not being seen, and 
having his own thoughts and his own jokes. . . ." 
Really, that is not at all a bad description of you. 



35. MAURICE MAETERLINCK 

T T AD Maeterlinck not come to America it 
A A would have been simple to write about him, 
to recall, with gratitude, his literary advent in 
London, and my joy. Those were white days, the 
days when I first saw "Pelleas and Melisande" and 
"The Intruder"; when I first read "The Treasure 
of the Humble" and "The Life of the Bee." He, 
himself, has not changed. Of that I had testimony 
at his second lecture in Carnegie Hall. He is still 
the quiet, aloof, self-contained man, a sage in dress 
clothes, watching the audience, a little surprised, a 
little anxious, as a thoroughbred racehorse looks 
when examining the crowd about him. 
The Vortex called. Maurice Maeterlinck has been 
in the Vortex. The Apostle of Silence came to 
America to deliver a message, and lo! the Apostle 
of Silence found himself in a Hubbub. 
No doubt, by this time, Maurice Polydore Marie 
Bernard Maeterlinck has learned that America is 
more eager to see him, and to note how he delivers 
his message, than to be informed of the content of 
the message. That is the way of audiences, and 
that being so I hardly see why audiences should 
object to the delivery of his lectures in French, 
which was the basis of his dispute with Mr. Pond 
of the Pond Lyceum Bureau. (I hope it has 
189 



190 Authors and I 

been settled.) It is a rare treat to hear such French ; 
it was painful to listen to the Sage trying to 
express himself in phonetic English. It was a 
failure, but he emerged from it beautifully. Actors 
of wide experience might envy his poise and self- 
command. Never before has there been such an 
acute example of the precept about a good man 
struggling against adversity. Gratefully upon his 
ears must have fallen the voice of a lady crying 
from the audience, "Say it in French, sir." 
Perhaps when Maeterlinck has thought it all over, 
and has returned to the Villa les Abeilles, Avenue 
des Baumettes, Nice, he will write a new essay and 
call it "Manhattan, or, How I Was Drawn into 
the Vortex." And perhaps of all the strange expe 
riences he underwent in the New World the 
strangest was the interview with a group of New 
York newspapermen. It may not have been strange 
to him, for his meditations carry him into strange 
vagaries of thought ; but it was strange to them for 
New York newspapermen have been schooled to 
regard Maeterlinck the Mystic as a Figure of Mys 
tery, and here was this vigorous transcendentalist, 
clad in a woolen lounge suit, with carpet slippers 
upon his feet, saying, "I love the boxing. I have 
boxed with Kid McCoy. He is not only a boxer, 
but a philosopher, too." The reporters also realised 
that the Sage knows what Carpentier weighs. "I 
have boxed with him three or four times," he said 
proudly. The present writer was not at the inter 
view, but there it is all set down in cold print. I am 
glad I was not there. It is so much more interest- 



Maurice Materlinck 191 

ing to imagine it; but it is rather difficult. I can 
imagine Mr. Henry Ford as an Interior Decorator 
with a leaning toward salmon-pink. I can even 
imagine Mr. William Randolph Hearst as an Eng 
lish Gentleman with a leaning toward chivalry, but 
only with a great effort can I imagine the author of 
"Wisdom and Destiny" and "The Intruder" as a 
boxer nimble on his pins, and quick on the uptake. 
Here is the account "The poet threw forward his 
body, doubled his fists and danced about Mr. Russell 
for several seconds. Despite his great size and portly 
build the Belgian s footwork was swift, . . . his 
toes tapped lightly on one of Mr. Anderson s valu 
able bear rugs, nearly upsetting a vase of lilies. I 
love the boxing, cried the Sage, I have boxed with 
Kid McCoy. And Kid McCoy in turn has told 
the world this: I had the pleasure of boxing with 
a poet some time ago. His name is Maeterlinck. 
He s a good boxer and a mighty good sport. You 
know I didn t think much of poetry until re 
cently. " All things work together for good. Per 
haps now that Kid McCoy has come into contact 
with poetry he will introduce it into the boxing 
arena. I hope I have got the gentleman s name 
right. One is apt to make mistakes in nomen 
clature with new reputations. 

So disturbing was the passage of Maeterlinck across 
the Manhattan firmament that I find it difficult to 
recapture the equable state of mind that the name 
of Maeterlinck evoked in me ere he sailed up New 
York bay with his young wife to attend the first 
performance of "The Blue Bird" as an opera. All 



192 Authors and I 

this is too near and restless. I must go back to 
days long before "The Betrothal" and "The Blue 
Bird," back, back to the first performances of his 
plays at the Court Theatre in Sloane Square that 
home of lost and won theatrical causes. I see 
again in memory Mrs. Patrick Campbell and Mr. 
Martin Harvey in "Pelleas and Mclisande" ; I see 
play after play, so still, so moving, and it is strange 
now to think that we thought then that these plays, 
passing behind gauzes, lifting the veil, so still, so 
moving, were to be the prefaces to the drama of the 
future. Perhaps they will yet. 
Then came "The Treasure of the Humble" with 
the shock of a witty and cynical Introduction by 
A. B. Walkley. But he did one good service. He 
asked point-blank "Has M. Maeterlinck anything 
to say?" 

Of course he has. It may not be new because 
nothing is new, but this Belgian Master has 
gathered up and written down in beautiful French 
the interior teaching and wisdom of mankind from 
Plotinus to Emerson, whispering the while to an 
obdurate world, "What we know is not interest 
ing. 

The mystery of life is what makes life interesting." 
We of the Anglo-Saxon world have taken to him 
more freely than the Latin or the Flem, and we 
have had the immense advantage of two sym 
pathetic and understanding translators Alfred 
Sutro and Teixeira de Mattos. One of them, 
Alfred Sutro, is a dramatist, and perhaps he is still 
asking himself if a Maeterlinckian theatre is not 



Maurice Materlinck 193 

still possible, "a static theatre, a theatre of mood not 
of movement, a theatre where nothing material hap 
pens and where everything immaterial is felt." 
Literary success came to Maeterlinck early per 
haps too early. Popular success envelops him in 
1920 perhaps too popular. With me he is a mas 
ter of the Past. He calls from the Past. Some 
years ago when he began to write for the Daily 
Mail I felt that he was slipping out from his Pla 
tonic cave, and when I read his latest book, "Moun 
tain Paths," I had a feeling that the Maeterlinck 
of "The Treasure of the Humble" had gone to 
other adventures. He has not gone over to Kid 
McCoy, but he now treats subjects about which 
there is really nothing to be said because we know 
everything about them or nothing. 
The Belgian Sage s platform manner is admirable. 
He looked at his second lecture just as the author 
of "The Treasure of the Humble" and "Wisdom 
and Destiny" should look. Nothing, I am sure, 
would ruffle him, nothing disturb him. He has 
poise. He delivered his message neither quietly nor 
riotously; he just delivered it. 
Do not ask me what it was about, 
I have no knowledge of Odic Effluvia, of the 
Major and Minor Memory, and I have little apti 
tude for investigations into the communal life of 
Insects. 

Such matters do not trouble me. But they seemed 
to disturb a young American, a stranger, who sat 
by my side. Halfway through the lecture he leaned 
toward me and said "This is deep stuff." 



194 Authors and I 

When it was all over and Maeterlinck had taken 
his triple call, the young American remarked, "He 
takes you along a strange road, and a pretty steep 



one." 



"Yes," I answered. "But why travel out of the 
way? If you want to go to Philadelphia why not 
go straight there? Why go via the Rocky Moun 
tains, California, the South Pole and Florida?" 
The young American looked at me curiously. 
"There s something in that," he said. 



36. EDWIN MARKHAM 

YOU are invited," said the invitation, "to 
participate with the Joint Committee of 
Literary Arts in a dinner in honour of Edwin Mark- 
ham in recognition of his genius as a poet and his 
worth as a man." 

That seemed all right. So I acquired a ticket and 
noted the date of the dinner. In the interval I 
tried to recall what I knew about Edwin Markham 
and his very popular poem, "The Man with the 
Hoe." It was published nearly twenty years ago; it 
was suggested by Millet s painting; and it had the 
distinction of being the most quoted poem of the 
day. Innumerable newspapers published it; in 
numerable sermons were preached upon it; innu 
merable editorials were written on the questions 
with which the poem concludes 

O masters, lords and rulers in all lands, 
How will the future reckon with this Man? 
How answer his brute question in that hour 
When whirlwinds of rebellion shake the world? 

X" 
Strange to say the future reckoned with this Man 

by begging AH Mjn to take up the hoe and help 
to feed the world. "* Neither Mr. Markham, nor 
anybody else, could foresee that with the pressure 
of the submarine menace in 1916 the Man with the 
195 



196 Authors and I 

Hoe would become a very important, a very neces 
sary and much-admired person. In England every 
body in their leisure hours wielded a hoe. It was 
unpatriotic not to do so. The present writer, clad 
in a costume as like to the garments worn by 
Millet s peasant as his scanty wardrobe permitted, 
hoed himself into a state that bordered upon ecstasy. 
He was doing his bit, not doing it surpassingly 
well, but he was helping to feed his native land; 
he was the new Man with the Hoe. And he 
murmured to himself the cheerful reply made twen 
ty years ago by John Vance Cheney to Edwin 
Markham s sad "Man with the Hoe": 

Strength shall he have, the toiler, strength and grace, 

So fitted to his place. 

Tall as his toil. Nor does he toil unblest, 

Labor he has, and rest. 

I did not trouble to acquire the three editions 
of "The Man with the Hoe and Other Poems" 
at $2, at $1 and at 50 cents, because I was confident 
that the poem would be recited at the dinner; but 
I did reflect on popularity, and the extravagance of 
some literary judgments. I remembered a story, 
current at the time, that a well-known man had 
offered $5,000 to anybody who could produce a finer 
poem than "The Man with the Hoe," and in the 
advertisement pages of "The Shoes of Happiness 
and Other Poems," by Edward Markham, I read 
a series of "critical opinions." Well, not being a 
poet, I am not in the least envious, but I looked 
forward to the dinner with redoubled interest, eager 



Edwin Markham 197 

to see if such extravagant praise had had any effect 

on the venerable poet. Here are a few of the 

"critical opinions." 

"The greatest poet of the century," Ella Wheeler 

Wilcox. 

"The Whole Yoscmite the thunder, the might, 

the majesty," Joaquin Miller. 

The Man with the Hoe/ will be the battle 
cry of the next thousand years," Jay William 
Hudson. 

-"A poem by Markham is a national event," Robert 
Underwood Johnson. 

"Excepting always my dear Whitcomb Rilcy, Ed 
win Markham is the first of the Americans," 
William Dean Howells. 

Can you wonder that my pulse beat high as the 
day of the dinner approached ? Even though I do 
not write poetry, a Bookman s pride extends to all 
members of his craft, from the paternal poet to 
the pointed paragraphist, and I longed to see the 
man who wrote a poem that "will be the battle 
cij of the next thousand years." My hoe now 
stands in the umbrella stand in the little hall of 
my native home, from the oriel window of which 
may be seen the croquet lawn converted into a 
potato patch where 

Bound by the weight of centuries I leant 
Upon my hoe and gazed upon the ground, 
The emptiness of ages in my face, 
And on my back the burden of the world. 

(The opening of "The Man with the Hoe" 
slightly altered.) 



198 Authors and I 

Five hundred or so attended the dinner mostly 
poets. It was heartening to see the guest of the 
evening greeted by his admirers, a kindly, wise, 
distinguished-looking man, in appearance something 
between Robert Browning and Walt Whitman. Of 
course there was more extravagance of praise. 
There always is on such occasions. The name of 
Shakespeare was used freely, but distinguished poets 
are accustomed to such flatteries, and they can do 
nothing but sit still and smile while they listen 
to the flattery. It was near midnight before the 
poet rose to reply and then something happened that 
endeared the author of "The Man with the Hoe" 
to me. In his speech, after a proper period of 
seriousness greatest moment of my life, never to 
be forgotten, and so on he side-tracked into remi 
niscences of delightful humour. A humorous poet! 
I could hardly believe my ears! He gave us a gay 
and sly account of his early years in Oregon and 
California, farming, blacksmithing, herding cattle 
and sheep, and so on, to newspaper writing, Chris 
tian sociology and poetry. The room rippled with 
laughter, and although midnight had struck we 
were quite willing that he should continue his auto 
biography to the present day, for a serious poet with 
an aura of humour is an infrequent experience. 
The next day I went to a club which has an excel 
lent library and asked the librarian for Edwin 
Markham s poems. He looked blankly at me. The 
club did not possess a copy. "Such is fame," I 
murmured. "Is it some particular poem you 
want?" asked the librarian. "Yes, The Man with 



Edwin Markham 199 

the Hoe. " He retired, and presently returned 
staggering under the load of the largest book of 
poetry I have ever seen. It is called "The Home 
Book of Verse"; it contains 3,742 pages, which is 
necessary, as it enshrines poems from Spenser to 
the present day. When I have asked a carpenter if 
my bookshelves will stand the strain I shall cer 
tainly acquire this volume. It contains hidden in 
its 3,742 pages "The Man with the Hoe" and 
Cheney s "Reply," and Markham s "Lincoln," and 
"Auld Lang Syne," by Robert Burns, which I 
read that afternoon for the first time, although I 
have pretended to sing it on hundreds of occasions, 
and a little thing by Walt Whitman beginning "At 
the last, tenderly," and ending "Strong is your 
hold, O love!" that has been singing itself to me 
ever since. 

That rich afternoon of poetry (it was Sunday and 
the library was empty) drinking from so many 
fountains placed Edwin Markham for me. He is a 
noble, dignified and beautiful singer of noble, dig 
nified and beautiful themes, but he lacks magic. 
He could not have written 

that found a path 

Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home, 
She stood in tears amid the alien corn. 

He is an author rather than a bard. You remember 
Macaulay s distinction between the two. But when 
I reached home that evening I read Markham s 
"Birthday Greeting to John Burroughs" and felt 



2OO Authors and I 

very grateful to him; and still more grateful when 
I read a quatrain which he calls 



OUTWITTED 

He drew a circle that shut me out- 
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout 
But love and I had the wit to win: 
We drew a circle that took him in. 

There are folk who would rather have written 
that than most things. 



37. JOHN MASEFIELD 

OF all Englishmen now writing, John Masefield 
answers readiest to the fine old term Man 
of Letters. He has turned his deft hand to every 
thing, and he has succeeded in everything. Poet, 
playwright, essayist, teller of tales, war historian, 
he has tried them all, and he is now in the happy 
position of knowing that his latest work is his 
best. There can be no doubt about that. "Reynard 
the Fox" is a book that will live, a narrative poem 
that delights the great public as well as readers of 
poetry. 

In 1896, John Masefield was working as a hand in 
a carpet factory in Yonkers. The wonder of poetry 
came upon him with a rush. Poetry was not 
dribbled out of him as to most, at school and col 
lege, dribbled out in set tasks, the splendour slowly 
evaporating in the drudgery of the lesson. It came 
to him suddenly, on great wings, one Sunday 
afternoon when he first lighted upon Chaucer s 
"Parliament of Fowls." It was a new life, the 
real life. The gates were opened. He rushed in 
and met Shakespeare, Milton, Shelley, Keats. This 
lore of great literature has never left him. Readers 
of his "Gallipoli" will remember that he prefaces 
the sections of this admirable narrative with extracts 
from "The Song of Roland." 

201 



2O2 Authors and I 

If I linger over John Masefield s early years in 
New York it is because he himself has touched 
them vividly, in his collection of tales and studies 
called "A Tarpaulin Muster." He gives in "A 
Raines Law Arrest" a realistic description of what 
he saw in the humble position he filled in the bar 
of a downtown establishment; in "On the Pal 
isades" he describes in a few bold strokes the fea 
tures of the Palisades, and he also shows, to New 
York and to the world, his method as a writer. His 
teacher is life. Great poets and prosemen showed 
him the way of beauty and strangeness, how to 
handle and shape his material, but he finds his 
material in life. Thus the fabric of this sketch 
"On the Palisades" is woven out of what a ferry 
man told him. Like Kipling, he has the gift of 
talking with strangers, gleaning stories from them: 
he remembers the saliencies. And he has the 
power of writing simple, straightforward English, 
in which every word tells. Here are two speci 
mens: 

If you take a boat and row across to the Palisades their 
beauty makes you shiver. 

It is like being in the wilds, in one of the desolate places, 
to lie there in a boat watching the eagles. 

His name first became a reality to me in rather 
a curious way. I was calling upon Sir Douglas 
Straight, who was then editor of the Pall Mall 
Gazette. It was noon; and while I was waiting 
(editors are always doing something else) an office 
boy brought me a copy of the paper just off the 



John Masefield 203 

press. Instinctively I turned to the editorial page, 
and then to the poem, which Harry Cust, a former 
editor, had introduced daily into the Occasional 
Notes. Years before John Morley had originated 
the term, but the printers always called them Oc. 
Notes. I read the poem there printed with im 
mense interest. In it was the tang of the sea and 
it moved to a measure like a rolling billow. When 
Sir Douglas Straight at last came quickly into the 
room with a greeting I interrupted him with the 
words: "Who wrote this fine poem? Who wrote 
it?" He did not know. He sent to inquire. 
The answer came back John Masefield. "A new 
man," said Sir Douglas. This poem has since been 
published in "Salt Water Ballads." 
A year or so after this I met John Masefield at a 
luncheon party in London. A quiet man, a modest 
young man, virile and keen, and observant in the 
almost shy, almost furtive way of H. G. Wells. 
I do not remember anything he said. Probably I 
did not pay much attention to him, for I had no 
idea that he would do the fine things that he hasi 
since done. 

Austen Harrison, the editor of the English Review, 
played a noble part in making the poetry of John 
Masefield popular. In October, 1911, he pub 
lished "The Everlasting Mercy" in his review. 
That needed courage, for the poem is quite 13,000 
words in length and it filled a large portion of the 
magazine. Such courage had its reward. The 
number was sold out, John Masefield, as poet, was 
made, and the literary world recognised that one 



2O4 Authors and I 

editor at least regarded poetry as a feature, not as 
a "fit par." This admirable experiment was re 
peated. "The Daffodil Fields," and I think "The 
Widow in the Bye Street," were also published in 
the English Review. After "Reynard the Fox" 
I place "Dauber." 

Like Conrad, he has been a sailor, but the sea, and 
those that go down to it in ships, does not dom 
inate him. Yet the sea had a great share in his 
intellectual and emotional make-up. Here is a 
passage from his sketch called "The Cape Horn 
Calm": 

Ah, what profound thoughts I thought; what mute, but 
Miltonic, poetry I made in that dim half-deck, by the 
smoky bogey, in the night, in the stillness, among the 
many waters. 

As a playwright he has not yet had a great success. 
"The Campden Wonder" and "Nan" were out 
standing plays, and were admired by the few. His 
greatest theatrical success is, I suppose, "The Faith 
ful," which was played in New York by the Drama 
League. It was a moving piece, beautifully pro 
duced, but as it was founded on an ages-old Jap 
anese legend, the author became so involved in 
the point of view of Japan that I should never 
have guessed, had not the program said so, that 
"The Faithful" was by the author of "The Widow 
in the Bye Street." 

His war books are excellent, straightforward state 
ments, well-shaped, and written in the sound, bal 
anced prose that comes to poets. He might have 



John M as e field 205 

written "The Old Front Line" as a narrative 
poem, but "Gallipoli" could only have been done 
in prose. The intricacies of that magnificent 
failure are set forth so lucidly that it becomes one 
of the classics of the war. John Masefield is the 
penman who tells the tale. The theme being so 
colossal, he himself is the narrator no more. 
With "Reynard the Fox" he reaches the height of 
his achievement. I have read it four times and 
each time I have kindled. It goes on my bookshelf 
against Chaucer s "Canterbury Tales." It sings 
the England we all love, the wholesome out-of-doors 
England, the types, the cries, the sights, the sounds. 
It gallops into our hearts, and it is John Mase 
field s best poem, because he loved the doing of 
it every line. 

Everything he wrote before was a preparation for 
this English poem, this saga of English fields and 
English folk, the rush from hill to hill, the cry of 
the hounds, the thunder of the horses, the shouts of 
the huntsmen, and at night the home-coming. 



38. GEORGE MEREWTH 

COE was Meredith s valet and gardener 
everything to him for thirty years. One day 
he recalled to Mr. Waldo, over the hedge of the 
Box Hill Cottage, the visit of an American pub 
lisher to George Meredith. 

"We want your books," said the American; "we 
want to circulate them in cheap covers and make 
them known among the crowd." 
"That," remarked Coe, "seemed to please the 
master." 

Yesterday I journeyed by trolley car from the village 
where I am staying to the nearest town a pleasant, 
unaggressive Connecticut town to do my week s 
marketing. I purchased bread, butter, a bag of 
onions, and a can of tomato soup, had them packed 
in a strong parcel and then entered the Public 
Library. 

"Have you any of George Meredith s works?" I 
asked. 

The librarian led me to a shelf and handed me 
"Richard Feverei" and "Rhoda Fleming," in the 
1889 author s edition, and "Diana of the Cross- 
ways" in the 1907 pocket edition. 
"May I take them all home?" 
"Certainly," said the librarian. "We like to cir 
culate good books." 

206 



George Meredith 207 

"Then there is not much call for George Mere 
dith?" I ventured. 
"No. 1 

She examined the date cards of the three volumes. 
"None of them has been out since 1917," she 
murmured, a little sadly, I thought. 
"Have you his poems?" I asked. She shook her 
head; her curls looked dolorous. "We ought to 
have George Meredith s poems," she said. 
I saluted her and stepped outside, opening "Richard 
Feverel" at the chapter, an old favourite, called 
"The Blossoming Season": my eyes fell upon this 
passage: "Culture is halfway to Heaven"; and 
below was this from "The Pilgrim s Script" 
"Who rises from Prayer a better man, his prayer 
is answered." 

The arrival of the trolley car interrupted my read 
ing, but seated in the corner I plunged into the 
first meeting between Richard and Lucy, perhaps 
the most beautiful analysis of dawning love between 
two young, high-spirited and charming creatures in 
the English language. I had just reached: "To 
morrow this place will have a memory the river 
and the meadow, and the white falling weir," when 
the trolley car stopped. It was the end of the 
journey. I bundled out, and remembered, sud 
denly, that I had left my parcel of marketing in 
the Public Library. It looked as if I would have 
a skimpy supper. But that is another story. At 
any rate, I had Meredith with me. 
On the way home up Ferry Lane I asked myself if it 
was not quite natural that the patrons of that 



2o8 Authors and I 

rather remote Connecticut township should dis 
regard Meredith. He is so essentially English; he 
is dyed in the aristocratic viewpoint and he loves 
the iridescent stain. What could a Connecticut 
farmer make of Sir Willoughby Pattern s leg, or 
of Diana and Redworth, or Lady Blandish, or the 
Wise Youth, all so English, so very English? In 
truth the brilliant restlessness, the bird s flight 
quickness of George Meredith mind, the alert syn 
copated dialogue is too fatiguing for many English 
men. And although English women are fond of 
saying that he is the only author who understands 
women, it was Marie Corelli s books they bought 
wholesale. But those who really call themselves 
Meredithians are his wholly and absolutely. They 
accept him in his entirety, and they will not hear 
a word against "Lord Ormont and His Aminta," 
"The Amazing Marriage," or even those bewilder 
ing odes celebrating French history "The Revo 
lution," "Napoleon," "France, 1870," and "Alsace- 
Lorraine." In these odes, I admit, I stuck. 
Frankly, it did not seem to me worth while to 
unravel their meaning, and I remember one dis 
tracted night when I had tortured myself over "the 
incandescent Corsican," turning for relief to the 
last page of "Rhoda Fleming," to the poignant sim 
plicity of Dahlia s ultimate cry "Help poor 
girls." 

It was the ardent Meredithians who resented the 
master s corrections in the novels for the uniform 
edition issued nearly twenty years ago. The changes 
hurt. Disciples did not want a word altered, and 



George Meredith 209 

when Meredith s friends wrote articles in the liter 
ary papers urging that the changes were unimpor 
tant, the stalwarts retorted with parallel columns 
giving the old text and the new, showing that the 
exacting Master had cut and slashed at will. 
Slowly, very slow his novels brought him fame ; 
the Meredithian beverage was much too heady for 
the Victorian public, nurtured on the spiritual 
everydayness of George Eliot, and the cathedral 
town proprieties of Anthony Trollope. 
Many of the novels were written by Meredith, 
writing-board on knee, in the chalet that he had 
built on an eminence in his garden at Box Hill. 
Behind the chalet a path led through a wood where 
he would walk and compose. When the fit was 
on, Coe had to carry the dinner back to the kitchen 
and wait patiently till the winged words were 
written down. 

One summer evening I was invited with a friend 
to dine at Box Hill. We arrived near sundown; 
Meredith was in the chalet, still at work; we 
waited. Presently he emerged, clad in white, with 
a big white sombrero hat upon his head. He did 
not see us, but he saw the sun, a round red ball. 
Off swept his hat; he made a deep obeisance. In 
looks he was quite unlike the typical English 
man, regular aquiline features, white hair and 
beard that curled (Senator Lodge might be his half- 
brother), and eyes that twinkled and flashed. 
The dinner grieved me. Meredith was in his 
liveliest Robin Goodfellow mood, mischief and 
humour dominated him, and his butt was a young 



210 Authors and I 

man, a relative. This sententious youth made a 
sententious remark with the soup. It was about 
the vintage of the wine we were drinking. Like 
a sword, the Master s irony leapt forth, and what 
ever turn the conversation took he brought it back 
to the discomfiture of the sententious youth. His 
mental agility was wonderful, but (I thought) un 
kind. 

A few years later I saw him again at a Private 
View in charge of a lady popular in London society ; 
his face wore a continuous smile; the attention he 
received evidently pleased, perhaps amused him. 
My last view of him was sitting in the Bath Chair, 
drawn by a pony, or pushed by a friend, in which, 
when he could no longer walk, he used to make 
little excursions over the hills around his house, 
ever talking, ever smiling. 

His mind, in those latter days, was alert and 
vigorous as ever; his sympathy with youth and the 
coming generation never flagged. "I suppose," he 
said to a friend, "I should regard myself as getting 
old I am 74. But I do not feel to be growing old, 
either in heart or mind. I still look on life with a 
young man s eye." That was so ; and he had written 
in "Love in the Valley" a poem which stands with 
Spenser s "Epithalamion" and Mrs. Browning s 
"Sonnets from the Portuguese" as one of the three 
finest love poems in die language. It is the essence 
of lyric love, half angel and half bird, and it is 
compact of young-eyed Meredith he who wrote 
of Richard and Lucy. Once I knew "Love in the 



George Meredith 211 

Valley" by heart. It sings still. Bits come back 
to me as I write. 

When her mother tends her before the laughing mirror, 

Tying up her laces, looping up her hair, 
Often she thinks, were this wild thing wedded, 

More love should I have, and much less care. . . . 
Shy as the squirrel and wayward as the swallow, 

Swift as the swallow along the river s light . . . 
Lovely are the curves of the white owl sleeping 

Wavy in the dusk lit by one lone star. . . . 
Happy happy time, when the white star hovers 

Low over dim fields fresh with bloomy dew . . . 
Prim little scholars are the flowers of her garden, 

Trained to stand in rows, and asking if they please . . . 
Peering at her chamber the white crowns the red rose, 

Jasmine winds the porch with stars two and three. 
Parted is the window; she sleeps! the starry jasmine 

Breathes a falling breath that carries thoughts of me. 

And so on, and so on Meredith s spring song, the 
song of one who remained perennially young. 
George Meredith s poems are the light, Thomas 
Hardy s the shadow. Each has enriched our lit 
erature; each, with great art, has communicated 
to us the progress of his wayfaring. Hardy leaning 
to Acquiescence in the Inevitable, Meredith, like 
Stevenson, to the Undiminished gladness, the Un- 
decaying glory, the Undeparted dream. When 
things looked blackest Hardy bows his head ; when 
things seem to be at their worst, Meredith, like 
Foch, attacks, and, lo! the light. 
Yes, when I read that great utterance by Foch, I 
think of Meredith: "Mon centre cede, ma droite 
rccule, situation exccllentc, j attnquc." 



39. LEONARD MERRICK 

WHO are those two men?" I asked, indicating 
two figures on the outskirts of the lawn. 
My host replied "One is George Gissing, the 
other is Leonard Merrick." 

With the grey life and novels of Gissing I was 
fairly familiar, and a great admirer of his few, 
scholarly, intensive travel books. Of the work of 
Leonard Merrick I knew nothing save that his 
novels usually dealt with actors, literature and 
journalism, that he had been on the provincial stage, 
and that he was hardly more successful as a novelist 
than as an actor. 

I began to perceive, as years passed, that he had 
strong backers. He is one of those modern, unob 
trusive, uncompetitive sensitive men of letters whom 
fellow craftsmen delight to praise. One day 
George R. Sims astonished me by becoming dithy- 
rambic about Leonard Merrick. He praised his 
novels; he blamed the public for not appreciating 
this unemotional, unsentimental craftsman; he ex 
plained to me the Merrick method of fiction. "Per 
haps he s a novelists novelist," I murmured. In 
the light of future events, which I am about to 
relate, I am rather proud of that intuition. 
Some day I meant to read a Merrick novel. It was 
Mr. W. D. Howells who put the idea into my 
212 



Leonard Merrick 213 

head. His appreciation of "The Actor Manager" 
was so hearty and acute that I felt the time was 
drawing near when I must spend six shillings on a 
Merrick novel. Mr. Howells had written: "I can 
recall no English novel in which the study of tem 
perament and character is carried farther or deeper, 
allowing for what the people are, than in "The 
Actor Manager." 

But this was not all. The Merrick star was 
ascending. Writers began to vie with each other 
in their eagerness to praise Merrick. Grave Pro 
fessor Tyrrell wrote in~The Speaker: "A lady whom 
I know said to me, Mr. Merrick seemed so near to 
me as I read "The Man Who Understood Women" 
that it embarrassed me to remember I was in a 
dressing gown and my hair was down. " And Sir 
J. M. Barrie wrote this: "There is no doubt in my 
mind that Conrad in Quest of His Youth is the 
best sentimental journey that has been written in 
this country since the publication of the other one. 
... I know scarcely a novel by any living Eng 
lishman except a score or so of Mr. Hardy s that 
I would rather have written." 
All this was extremely interesting. I wondered 
how Mr. Merrick took it. And I had not yet 
read one of his novels. I was so interested in watch 
ing the accumulations of praise from fellow writers 
that it seemed supererogatory to read a Merrick. 
I bepan to make inquiries. I was told that "he 
writes very little, that he finds it difficult to get 
started, and to keep going, and that a few thousand 
words a week are a large output for him." 



214 Authors and I 

I also learned that in London (this was some 
years before the war) his books were quietly suc 
cessful, that Barrie s enthusiasm had sent the book 
sellers orders up, and that he was a very good 
Tauchnitz seller. But his admirers were not con 
tent. They hustled. Every writer seemed bent 
on booming Merrick. It was a curious literary 
phenomenon. 

When the novelists of eminence began to show 
signs of exhaustion through their effort of praising 
Leonard Merrick, the publishers began. Mr. 
Mitchell Kennerley was the pioneer in America. De 
scribed by a fellow publisher as one of Leonard 
Merrick s most generous patrons and best friends, he 
began to issue his novels in 1910. They were suc 
cessful; about 10,000 copies of each sold; there the 
sale paused as Merrick was caviare to the large pub 
lic. He almost ceased to write; this novelists 
novelist, who had always taken a back seat, seemed 
to be seeking for a still more retiring position in the 
upper gallery. 

Suddenly another firm of publishers dragged him 
out into the centre of the orchestra stalls, and 
started the band playing a triumphal march. No 
body can stop a publisher when he is determined to 
push a timid author into the blaze of publicity. 
The firm in question was Messrs, Hodder & 
Stoughton of London, an astute firm who took quick 
advantage of the extraordinary enthusiasm shown 
by contemporary writers to keep Mr. Merrick in 
the orchestra stalls with the band at full blast. 
It was decided to issue a uniform edition of his 



Leonard Merrick 215 

novels, and to preface each volume with an intro 
duction by literary and admiring contemporaries. 
They hastened to the adventure. They fell over 
each other, to quote Sir James Barrie s words, "in 
their desire to join in the honour of writing the 
prefaces." Such a confraternity of praise from fel 
low writers has never happened before in the his 
tory of literature. The writers who fell over each 
other in their eagerness to write prefaces were: 
W. D. Howells, Sir James Barrie, H. G. Wells, 
Maurice Hewlett, W. J. Locke, G. K. Chester 
ton, Sir W. Robertson Nichol, Sir Arthur Pinero, 
J. K. Prothero, Neil Munro, Granville Barker, and 
Nell Lyons. 

So everybody was able to buy any or all of the 
novels of Leonard Merrick each with a preface, per 
sonal and particularly eulogistic, by a famous au 
thor. And of course America was not going to 
allow England to beat her in forcing this fortunate 
novelist to remain in the best seat in the orchestra 
stalls. Mr. Mitchell Kennerley sold his plates and 
rights to E. P. Dutton & Co., and that firm issued 
a limited, uniform edition of the Merrick novels, 
each with a preface by a famous author. 
In the many books Mr. Leonard Merrick has writ 
ten about authors, successful and unsuccessful, he 
has never imagined for a hero such an extraor 
dinary compliment as has been paid to him. Had 
the idea entered his head he would have dismissed 
it as incredible. 

It might almost have seemed incredible to me had I 
not the ocular demonstration of the twelve volumes 



2i6 Authors and I 

of the English edition standing in a pile on my writ 
ing table. I have read all the prefaces, such caper 
ing, delightful Merrick idolatry, and I have read 
six of the volumes. It was no hard task ; each story 
was a grave pleasure. Leonard Merrick is an artist, 
not a great artist like Turgenev, not a master of 
insight like Meredith. He works in the temperate 
zone; he is never wrong but he never soars. His 
subtlety is equable; his finesse is exquisite, but I 
find it difficult to remember the plots and characters 
of the six Merricks I have just read. I shall give 
myself a holiday. I shall postpone reading the other 
six till next week. 



Later. I have read them with grave pleasure, and 
grave interest. To "merrick" is to write as 
Leonard Merrick writes. 



40. ALICE MEYNELL 

npHERE were two girls who had an admirable 
A education. Those who know these ladies 
will not accuse me of exaggeration. Their father 
gave them this education, mainly in Italy. His 
name was T. J. Thompson. The girls were called 
Elizabeth and Alice. Each has become famous; one 
as artist, the other as poet and essayist. Eliza 
beth (Lady Butler) is the painter of "The Roll 
Call," "Quatre Bras," "Inkermann," "Tent- 
Pegging in India," "Missed." 
Alice (Mrs. Wilfrid Meynell) published her first 
volume of poems, "Preludes" while she was still 
a girl; "Preludes" was republished with some 
changes and additions in 1893; her latest volumes 
are "A Father of Women, and Other Poems," and 
a volume of essays called "Hearts of Controversy," 
both issued in 1917. 

It is not easy to write dispassionately of the Meynell 
household, one of the few homes in London where 
poetry and thought have been highly and consistently 
honoured, and mingled with ever-ready hospitality 
and encouragement. So many Americans, so many 
English can testify to this. Francis Thompson (he 
was not a relation) found in this family the in 
spiration of many of his poems; Mr. and Mrs. Mey 
nell were his counsellors, and the custodians of his 
217 



21 8 Authors and I 

welfare during an unbroken intimaq of nineteen 
years; the dedication of his Poems is to Wilfrid and 
Alice Meynell. Had it not been for them he would 
have sunk under the burden of an existence which 
he was unable to confront alone. Poets and writers 
of high purpose came, and come, to this household, 
by instinct of a right of way to the things that mat 
ter. Many of these visitors, who soon became 
friends, have dangled the children on their knees, 
and have watched Viola Meynell take her place, so 
early, as one of the new novelists who count ; have 
acknowledged that her brother, Everard, has written 
one of the best biographies of the decade in "The 
Life of Francis Thompson" ; and have laughed 
secretly and happily, knowing that the author of 
"Aunt Sarah and the War," published anonymously, 
in the first year of the war, which leaped quickly 
into the 100,000 circulation, was the father, Wilfrid 
Meynell. 

And while the family were, in various ways, pro 
ducing and encouraging literature and art, the 
mother, the usually silent but exquisitely sympathetic 
hostess, Alice Meynell, was adding year by year, so 
slowly, so fastidiously to her slender sheaf of poems 
and essays; and slowly, quite slowly her fame it 
seems absurd to call so quiet, cloistral and gradual a 
recognition fame was spreading among those who 
value distinction, restraint, packed thought, insight, 
and delicacy of observation. But the other day I 
found in an American magazine two pages by her 
called "Superfluous Kings," the title taken from 
Shakespeare s "Superfluous Kings for Messengers." 



Alice Meynell 219 

I read no more that day. I did not want to dis 
tract myself from those brief pages. 
Alice Meynell is not an easy writer to read, and 
she does not find composition easy. She works very 
slowly with pencil and pad in the morning hours. 
Words and sentences are a sacred rite to her. She 
broods until her thought shapes itself, and she does 
not allow the high and intricate altitude of her art 
to be scaled easily by the reader. He must rise to 
her austere level. The reward is great, but the 
casual reader must be prepared to give himself, and 
to consider and reconsider such sentences as: 

In Spain was the Point first put upon Honour. 

Not excepting the falling stars for they are far lets 

sudden there is nothing in nature that so outstrips our 

unready eyes as the familiar rain. 

Tribulation, Immortality, the Multitude: what remedy of 

composure do these words bring for their own great 

disquiet 

To mount a hill is to lift with you something lighter and 

brighter than yourself or than any meaner burden. 

These are but four extracts taken at random; they 
are given to show that this writer, so chary in pro 
duction, so reluctant to publish, gives to the reader 
something that makes him reconsider and revalue 
his thought from her enwrapped thought. 
Her first volume of twenty essays "The Rhythm of 
Life," containing "Dccivilised," Composure," 
"The Lesson of Landscape," was published in 
1893. In literary circles it had immediate recogni 
tion and success. Coventry Patmore published a 
eulogistic article in the Fortnightly Review, which 



22O Authors and I 

began, "I am about to direct attention to one of 
the very rarest products of nature and grace a 
woman of genius." The poet of "The Unknown 
Eros" continued to be a most devoted admirer of 
her gifts, and before long George Meredith also 
enrolled himself among her intellectual admirers. 
He was able to read Mrs. Meynell week by week, 
for she was one of the six women-writers engaged 
by the editor of the Pall Mall Gazette, Harry 
Cust, to contribute to "The Wares of Autolycus" 
column. There, for two or three years, she wrote 
a weekly essay, and George Meredith rarely missed 
sending a letter, with flowers grown in his garden, 
at Box Hill, of enthusiastic appreciation. The 
essayist had come into her kingdom and her chief 
courtiers, George Meredith and Coventry Pat- 
more, were the chief lights of the literary world. 
In the same year, 1893, her "Poems" were pub 
lished, uniform with "The Rhythm of Life." I 
do not suppose that two volumes, such slender 
volumes, have ever been received with equal favour 
and gratitude by the few and fit. In America, too, 
she had her great admirers, and her brief lecture 
tour is remembered as something separate and apart 
from other lectures. 

Although "Preludes" of 1875 had long been out of 
print copies of it were treasured. William Sharp 
in "The Sonnets of the Century" had said : 

In its class I know no nobler or more beautiful sonnet 
than "Renouncement"; and I have so considered ever 
since the day I first heard it, when Rossetti (who knew it 



Alice Mcynell 221 

by heart), repeating it to me, added that it was one of 
the three finest sonnets ever written by women. 

Ruskin, too, said great things about the poems 
in "Preludes": 

The last verse of that perfectly heavenly "Letter from a 
Girl to Her Own Old Age," the whole of "San Lorenzo s 
Mother," and the end of the sonnet, To a Daisy," are the 
finest things I have yet seen or felt in modern verse. 

"Renouncement" is in the "Anthologies" ; but since 
there may be some to whom it is unfamiliar, I give 
myself the pleasure of copying it: 

RENOUNCEMENT 

I must not think of thee; and, tired yet strong, 

I shun the love that lurks in all delight 

The love of thec and in the blue heaven s height, 

And in the dearest passage of a song. 

Oh, just beyond the sweetest thoughts that throng 

This breast, the thought of thee waits hidden yet bright; 

But it must never, never come in sight; 

I must stop short of thee the whole day long. 

But when sleep comes to close each difficult day, 

When night gives pause to the long watch I keep, 

And all my bonds I needs must loose apart, 

Must doff my will as raiment laid away, 

With the first dream that comes with the first sleep 

I run, I run, I am gather d to thy heart. 

So you learn, reader, that in the household where 
this poet and essayist presides, the arts arc treasured, 
reticence encouraged, and rejection favoured. But 
there is laughter too and delight in life, for Mrs. 
Meynell has humour which ripples forth when the 



222 Authors and I 

burden of the world compassion she carries presses 

less heavily on her. 

The charm of her tall, light figure is preserved 

in a drawing by Sargent; and perhaps she never 

said anything more characteristic than this of her 

Father "He had an exquisite style from which to 

refrain." 



41. STEPHEN PHILLIPS 

ANEW YORK church announced for Sunday 
evening a Community service. 
Curious, like the Athenians, for the new thing, I 
attended. The service was a succession of surprises, 
but the chief surprise and the chief interest was 
when the curate, instead of reading the lesson from 
the Bible, informed the congregation that he had 
selected for their edification "Marpessa" by Stephen 
Phillips. He did not read it very well; and some 
times he paused to draw attention to a passage of 
"surpassing beauty." He dwelt, I remember, with 
immense approval on the opening line "Wounded 
with beauty in the summer night." 
Sitting there and listening, I said to myself, "This 
is surely a very unusual proceeding, this reading a 
long poem to a very attentive congregation in an 
Episcopal church in the Empire City; and after a 
while I found some solace in recalling that Stephen 
Phillips was a son of the Rev. Stephen Phillips, 
D.D., Precentor of Peterborough Cathedral. 
The Community sen-ice proceeded, and as much of 
it had little to do with religion, yet quite proper, 
and of a character to which I would not hesitate to 
invite the strictest of my relations, I fell to thinking 
of Stephen Phillips, and going over in memory our 
meetings. Perhaps the cadences of "Marpessa" 
223 



224 Authors and I 

moved me to tranquil and sweet remembrances, for 
Phillips had the secret of beauty, and of brief pathos; 
of careful beauty such as: 

And live in simple music, country songs, 
And mournful ballads by the winter fire. 

I saw him first in a London drawing room in the 
early nineties. He had not then made his great 
success; he had not then achieved what might have 
seemed to be impossible ; he had not then persuaded 
London managers, astute men like Sir Herbert Tree 
and Sir George Alexander, that there was a public, 
a paying public, a packed, cheering public for the 
poetic drama. 

His great year was 1900. On October 31 "Herod" 
was produced at Her Majesties Theatre with Sir 
Herbert Beerbohm Tree (he never took the worst 
part) as Herod. It was a wonderful occasion. 
Poets were jubilant, and they whispered one to 
another between the acts that Sir George Alexander 
(he was untitled then like Tree, and, like Tree, 
never out of the movement) had commissioned and 
accepted for production "Paola and Francesca" by 
Stephen Phillips. Those were great days. The first 
night of "Herod" was an event. Between the acts 
an eminent poet said to me: "What price Charley s 
Aunt now?" And we all went home mouthing as 
much as we could remember of 

I dreamed last night of a dome of beaten gold 
To be a counter-glory to the sun. 



Stephen Phillips 22$ 

And we whispered : 

To me it seems that they who grasp the world, 
The kingdom and the power and the glory, 
Must pay with deepest misery of spirit, 
Atoning unto God for a brief brightness. 

Great days! When I reached home, I remember 
that I dug out from the cupboard under the stairs 
my own poetic tragedy called "The Unpardonable 
Sin," and began to polish it. 

But memory is travelling as fast as that champion 
horse, Man o War. I must draw rein. I was say 
ing that I first met Stephen Phillips in a London 
drawing-room in the early nineties. He was already 
a poet, known to the inner circle, but not yet 
famous. I think he had recently published the 
lovely "Lyrics" and "The Apparition," than which 
I doubt if he ever wrote anything finer: 

She had forgotten nothing, yet 
Older she seemed, and still: 
All quietly she took my kiss, 
Even as a mother will. 

And before these, some years before, in 1890, he 
was one of the four friends who published at Ox 
ford a slender, brown paper-covered pamphlet of 
poetry called "Primavera." The other friends were 
Laurence Binyon, his cousin ; Manmohan Ghose, 
and A. S. Cripps. 

But I am still in that London drawing-room. He 
came in; he stalked to a corner and stood there 
very erect, rather severe, without any intention of 
making himself agreeable, as writers of prose try 



226 Authors and I 

to do. A minor poet who happened to be sitting 
by my side nudged me and whispered "Stephen 
Phillips." I examined him. He was a fine figure, 
but a singularly stiff one; and his clear, cold blue 
eyes did not invite one to slap him on the back 
and say: "Well, and how are things going?" He 
had regular features, a strong chin, and a chiselled 
nose. I was still looking at him and saying over 
to myself: 

And all the blue of thee will go to the sky, 
And all thy laughter to the river s run; 
But yet ... 

Thy tumbling hair will in the West be seen, 
And all thy trembling bosom in the dawn; 
But yet ... 

I was murmuring these lines to myself when the 
minor poet who was sitting next to me, looking 
straight at Stephen Phillips, said "Did you ever 
see anything so exactly like a Roman emperor on 
a coin?" 

We met several times after that but he never re 
laxed his unbending attitude. It may have been 
merely shyness. One heard of him from time to 
time, and gleaned particulars of his life how he 
had been an actor with Frank Benson s company, 
and an army coach; how he had a passion for 
cricket, and how in the end, after his great success, 
he settled down at Ashford in Middlesex, to live 
by his pen, by poetry, and the poetic drama, and 
to suffer money and other troubles. He was not a 
good manager of his own affairs, better than Fran- 



Stephen Phillips 227 

cis Thompson, but worse than the humblest com 
muter. But he must have had moments of ecstasy 
when he sat down to read the press notices that 
are printed at the end of most of his books. Again 
and again it was said that nothing like his work 
had been seen since Browning and Tennyson. And 
he had the memory, too, of the success he won in 
1897 when his "Poems" were "crowned" by the 
Academy and he received as a prize 100 guineas, 
which went much farther in those days. 
But it is a sorry business for a poet to be obliged to 
live by his verse. In 1915 Martin Harvey produced 
his "Armageddon" at the New Theatre, London. 
No, the Academy would not have crowned that. 
But there was something of the old chaste fire, 
tranquil beauty and sensitive interpretation in 
"Panama and Other Poems" published in 1915. 
When he passed away, four and a half years ago, 
his fellow poets wrote beautiful things about him, 
for everyone was touched at remembering this 
most successful and most unfortunate poet who 
used our sweet and flexible English tongue with 
a distinction of simplicity, a sense of gliding beauty, 
and a nice taste in words that is not given to 
many. And but the other day, his brother, Harold 
D. Phillips, who is organist at the Peabody Institute 
in Baltimore, published in the New York Evening 
Post an article of memories of the poet. It is very 
well written, but rather severe, very severe, and, 
unlike most articles, it makes me long for more. 
But this is mere curiosity. His poetry is with 
us, and for me there is now the memory of hearing 



228 Authors and I 

"Marpessa" read in a church in place of the Lesson 
which almost makes me smile; and when I come 
to think of it I did see Stephen Phillips smile once. 
It was when I told him the story of "Herod," Beer- 
bohm Tree and the Head Carpenter at Her Majes 
ties Theatre. 

Two days before the performance Tree called a re 
hearsal of the scenery of "Herod" without actors, 
without speech. Beerbohm Tree and the Head 
Carpenter sat in the dress circle and watched the 
magnificent scenery pass across the stage from the 
first scene to the last. They sat in silence. There 
was no hitch. Just before the end Beerbohm Tree 
turned to the Head Carpenter and said "Well, 
Johnson, what do you think of the scenery, now?" 
To which the Head Carpenter replied "Governor, 
it ll take mighty fine words to carry it." 
Adieu happy, unhappy poet. You are not for 
gotten. 



42. GEORGE MOORE 

EORGE MOORE never says anything for 
effect: he conceals nothing: when he has a 
thought or an impression he utters it as if nobody 
else had ever had a thought or an impression 
before. Nothing exists anywhere until it has 
busied itself in his consciousness. All the world 
may use a telephone, but until our author has 
brought his mind to bear upon the telephone it 
does not exist for him. But having once become 
conscious of the telephone, having reflected upon it 
by his fireside in Ebury Street, London, he can say 
something interesting and original about the tele 
phone, because it is his mind and nobody else s that 
is working upon the subject of the telephone. He 
thinks out things, in the detached, unmoral, un 
afraid, confined, yet free George Moore way, and 
laboriously narrates with the pen the processes 
of his thought. 

Whatever George Moore is writing about women 
and men in the form of fiction, art, confessions, 
memoirs, Ireland, drama, impressions, opinions, his 
friends, himself his procedure is the same. He 
unwinds and rewinds his views and reflections; he 
keeps nothing back; he does not seem to make any 
distinction between good and bad taste, between 
propriety and impropriety; his aim is merely to 
279 



230 Authors and I 

wind upon the spool the yarn of his thought which 
represents the subject uppermost in his mind at the 
moment. One has only to reflect upon three of 
his latest books "Hail and Farewell," "The Brook 
Kerith," and "A Story Teller s Holiday" which 
was "privately printed for subscribers only," to 
realise the detachment of his literary adventures, 
and that to him nothing happens in the world 
unless it has happened in his intellectual and 
aesthetic experience. He is the most subjective of 
writers and he is also old-fashioned, for does he 
not insist that all his books are written not for 
the public but "for men and women of letters?" 
Of course what he is really interested in is self- 
expression ; he is interested in his own thoughts and 
memories. Whenever I think of George Moore I 
see him in an armchair by his fireside in Ebury 
Street, stroking his cat, and through a long evening 
allowing his extraordinary able mind to reflect on 
the past, and also encouraging it to open avenues 
into the future. He reads very little, but what he 
reads he absorbs and thinks about. I remember 
calling upon him one morning when he was living 
in a spacious flat in Victoria Street, Westminster. 
I remarked on the absence of books and asked him 
how he spent the day. He looked at me, reflecting 
on my question, and then said: "Oh, I write till 
it is time to go out to dinner. Writing bores me 
less than anything else." 

The hard-worked word naive is insistent in a con 
sideration of George Moore. The burr of the world 
has not affected his childlike vision. Even unpleas- 



George Moore 231 

ant subjects he treats with the candour of a child. 
He is always making literary discoveries such 
extremes as Virgil and Trollope, but when he dis 
covers them they become not only new to him but 
also new to us. When he was preparing to write 
"The Brook Kerith" he discovered the beauty of 
the Bible, and so deep and fresh was his admira 
tion that he made the Bible a subject of discussion 
and wonder among his friends. You cannot resist 
a talker who has enthusiasm without rhetoric, 
understanding without confusion, opinions that are 
never didactic, and who is always inquiring. One 
day he will discover the primrose by the river s 
brim. Then prepare to be charmed. In one of his 
books he speaks of the humility of a lane s end. He 
would brood for an hour on that humility, and talk 
about it for a week. 

He never seeks for a style. The epigram does 
not attract him. He is content just to tell the tale 
of his mental and imaginative adventures. He loves 
his thoughts. They never bore him. 
He is an Irishman. It is difficult for a Saxon to 
analyse the entity called George Moore. I have 
always known him as a writer merely, as he would 
like to be known, and I remember my astonishment 
one night when he had invited me to dine with him 
at an exclusive London club frequented by land 
lords, county gentry and the like. My astonish 
ment was due to the discovery that in this exclusive 
club he was not known as the author of "Esther 
Walters," "Evelyn Inncss" and "Modern Painting," 
but as Moore of Moore Hall, Ballyglass, County 



232 Authors and I 

Mayo. Readers of his latest books will recall that 
Moore Hall is today something of a white elephant 
to George Moore of Ebury Street and author of 
"The Untilled Field." 

Many, many years ago, at the beginning of his 
career, he studied painting in Paris, and mixed 
with Manet, Zola and others of that great group. 
History is silent as to the kind of pictures that 
George Moore painted, but history is eloquent on 
the fact that his "Modern Painting" is one of the 
best books on painting ever published in the English 
tongue. We find in it the same childlike sincerity, 
integrity and awakening interest in art that we 
find in his novels and essays. Being an Irishman 
he is of course against the government in art, and 
of course he is limited, but his attraction is that 
he is candid in telling us where his interest ceases. 
He does not pretend to a culture that he does not 
feel, a fault which most of us try to enjoy. This 
frankness runs into his conversation. I met him 
last at a private view in London of an exhibition 
packed with exciting pictures by ultra modern mas 
ters. He was standing in the middle of the gallery 
looking as forlorn as Little Bo Peep when she had 
lost all her sheep. I suid, "Fine show this?" He 
answered wearily, but with conviction "My dear 
friend, painting ended with Manet. There has 
been nothing since." 

It is said that now he amuses himself urging his 
friends to subscribe for his books "privately printed," 
because, "you know, they always go up in value." 
That is so. One of the enigmas of the auction 



George Moore 233 

room is that George Moore s works fetch a higher 
price than the works of any living author. At a 
recent sale in New York "Pagan Poems," published 
in 1881, brought $540, "Confessions of a Young 
Man," $52, and "A Story Teller s Holiday" more 
than four times the price it was issued at in 1918. 
He has been painted by William Orpen and Walter 
Sickert, and caricatured by Max Beerbohm. In 
each case the artist enjoyed himself immensely. Also 
the public. 



43. JOHN MORLEY 

A CERTAIN son, desirous of entering 
nalism, instanced John Morley as a light of 
the profession, and recalled to his father that the 
author of "On Compromise" had been editor of 
the Pall Mall Gazette, and the Fortnightly Re 
view. The father was impressed, but being a 
careful man, he purchased "Recollections," by John 
Viscount Morley, O. M., Hon. Fellow of All Souls 
College, Oxford, and after reading it urged his son 
to enter politics, and to use journalism as an aid. 
In John Morley s "Recollections" there is but a 
meagre page and a half of reference to the Pall 
Mall Gazette, which he controlled from 1880 to 
1883, with a complimentary aside to the redoubt 
able W. T. Stead, who was his assistant on the 
paper. And there is not much more about the 
Fortnightly Review, which he edited from 1867 to 
1882, succeeding George Henry Lewes, "that won 
der of versatile talents." No, although journalists 
and literary men may continue to claim John Mor 
ley as one of themselves, his attitude toward us is 
haughty. 

Statesmanship has been his career, literature a 
refuge, journalism an episode. As a man of letters 
he is world famous, but although he had regrets 
upon leaving literature, the lure of the writer in 
234 



John M or ley 235 

him had no chance against the lure of the statesman. 
Still he could write on the morrow of his elevation 
to the House of Lords "My inclination, almost 
to the last, was to bolt from public life altogether, 
for I have a decent library of books still unread, 
and in my brain a page or two still unwritten." 
He reappeared among his journalistic acquaintances 
when he attended the banquet in honour of Fred 
erick Greenwood, originator and first editor of the 
Pall Mall Gazette, whose foresight induced the 
government of Lord Beaconsfield to acquire the 
Suez Canal shares. 

I was close to John Morley the night of the Green 
wood dinner and watched him closely, for he was 
a man who not only had made a great figure in the 
world, but whom everybody trusted and liked 
even the Irish. A man absolutely without affecta 
tion, susceptible yet impervious; in the arena, yet 
not of it; with a mobile face, strong features, a face 
too lively to be ascetic, too reflective to be dubable. 
He is not an orator but his words carry absolute 
conviction. You perceive, while he is talking, that 
he is speaking logic. Of him A. G. Gardiner said: 
"In the deep-set, contemplative eyes and indeter* 
minate chin you see the man who inspires others to 
lofty purpose, rather than the man of action." 
At a certain luncheon at Lord Haldane s some 
years later he sat next to the German Emperor, 
with Lord Kitchener on the other side. The faces 
of these three would have made a curious composite 
photograph. Morley, the man of reflection, Kitch 
ener, the man of action, and the head of the Central 



236 Authors and I 

Empire without any centre. That was the occasion 
when the Kaiser told Lord Morley that he admired 
a certain book by Bishop Boyd Carpenter so much 
that he had it translated into German, and that he 
often read pieces aloud to his ladies while they sat 
stitching and knitting. What, I wonder did 
"Plain John" his own phrase, see p. 252, Vol. 1 
of "Recollections" think of the Kaiser s admira 
tion for Bishop Boyd Carpenter? 
John Morley was given another title, on anot 
occasion, which has remained with him. In t 
days of the Scots Observer I called upon the editor 
W E Henley, on a press night. I asked him i 
it was a good issue. He chuckled, took a proof 
from the table, and pointing to the title said- 
"That alone is worth the money." It was an article 
on John Morley, headed "Honest John." 
Recently I related this story to an American, c 
some importance in the financial world, who sat 
near me at a public dinner. Honest John 
good " he said. Then the American proceeded 
talk about Roosevelt, and I, my head full of John 
Morley, said to him, "Do you think sir, that John 
Morley was ironical when, in his Recollections, 
he wrote that the two things which seemed to him 
the most extraordinary in America were Niagara 
Falls and President Roosevelt?" The American 
answered, "Sure." 

Later in the evening we met in the queue before 
the cloak room. As it is always more interesting to 
talk of first-rate things than of second-rate things, 
I said, as he handed his check to the attendant 



John HI or ley 237 

"So you are a student of John Morley!" He 
paused; he forgot his hat and coat; he murmured 
"Years ago the direction of my thought, and con 
sequently of my actions, was settled by reading 
Compromise ; yes, that is so, and you may add to 
that remarkable book Voltaire* and Diderot, and 
the Encyclopaedists. " We bade each other good 
bye. At the door we met again. There was a 
twinkle in his eye as he said to me "Don t you 
think Morley had Compromise in his mind when 
he wrote the Life of Gladstone ?" Then he shook 
his head, cried, "Ah! ah!" and assisted his wife 
into the limousine. 

I submit that there are hundreds, perhaps thousands 
of men and women who look upon "Compromise" 
as a turning point in their lives. I have just been 
re-reading it in the perfect Eversley series. Well, 
I m older now, and know more about the real 
things, but how fine it is, how fine after the "futile 
impatience" (Morley s phrase) of Carlyle. 
"Honest John" tells in his "Recollections" the 
story of his elevation to the House of Lords. He 
asked for it, asked Prime Minister Asquith to 
make him a lord, and perhaps "Honest John" was 
the only man in England who could have asked 
for such a thing, and known that his motive would 
not be misunderstood. It was merely because "I 
shall do my work all the better for the comparative 
leisure of the other place." Writing on April 20, 
1918, he remarks: "There s as much vanity in 
Plain John* as in John Viscount." 
His "Recollections" is a book to read and to keep. 



238 Authors and I 

I know no volume so full of communing with the 
best thought and the highest culture. He knew 
and knows everybody worth knowing from Mill to 
Tennyson, from Meredith to Arthur Balfour. He 
has held high offices twice Chief Secretary for 
Ireland, Secretary of State for India, Lord Presi 
dent of the Council. He was Lord President of 
the Council when war was declared in 1914. On 
that day he dropped back into private life. So did 
another John John Burns. When years hence, 
the memoirs of that day in August, 1914, are 
written some will read the account of the conver 
sation when "Honest John" handed his resignation 
to his old friend, Prime Minister Asquith. 
There is but one reference to the war in his "Recol 
lections," which were published in 1917. It is the 
opening sentence of the Introduction "The war 
and our action in it led to my retirement from 
public office." 
The rest is silence. 

And there is one sentence in "On Compromise" 
which the author chose as the motto of the book, 
and which who will disagree is the invisible 
motto engraved on John Morley s escutcheon. He 
dug it from the writings of Archbishop Whately 
"It makes all the difference in the world whether 
we put Truth in the first place or in the second 
place." 



44. WALTER PATER 

1P\ID I ever see Walter Pater? Last week I 

* should have said no. Today after reading 
the Pater section in George Moore s "Avowals," 
I am inclined to answer yes. 

It was at a London dinner party, an unconvivial 
gathering, one of those solemn functions where 
you feel that the hostess is not entertaining for 
pleasure: she is paying social debts, and flattering 
her husband s business friends. 
A gentleman sat opposite me whom I could not 
catalogue. He seemed to be at the dinner and yet 
not of it: his massive and immobile exterior ap 
peared to be acting properly and formally, accord 
ing to the laws of good society; but it looked as if 
his actions were governed by marionette strings, 
while his real self was inactive and unmoved by 
his surroundings. This also was the method of 
Henry James, polite to punctilio, but giving very 
little of himself when he was cajoled into society to 
which he did not react. Indeed this stranger was 
not unlike Henry James. They were both examples 
of the "joli laid," of the ugliness that is not ugjy, 
because behind it is mind and esprit. Henry James 
in those days wore a beard: the stranger at the 
dining table had decorated himself with a heavy 
moustache, and perhaps he was, if possible, still 
239 



240 Authors and I 

more magisterially shy than James. Each I am 
sure called his neighbour Madam, and the manner 
of each would be correct and quite courteously dis 
tant whether she was a frisky ingenue or a stern 
dowager. That was years ago. I thought no more 
of the remote, massive and kindly stranger with the 
heavy moustache until I read George Moore s 
"Avowals," which contains a chapter or two on 
Walter Pater, written with art and candour. Only 
George Moore can write thus naively and discur 
sively. He draws a picture of Pater when the au 
thor of "Imaginary Portraits" was living in London 
and attending just such dinner parties as that at 
which I had been present ; and the picture is so clear 
that I said to myself the remote, massive, kindly 
stranger was certainly Walter Pater. The author of 
"Marius the Epicurean" never used slang, but slang 
is expressive. I will employ it. Pater was present at 
those forlorn dinner parties because he was eager 
to "play the game," to "do his bit." He had not 
only a beautiful but also a conscientious nature, 
and Moore suggests that when Pater came to live 
in London he decided that to avoid society would 
neither be decorous nor seemly. "He wanted to 
live, to join up, to walk in step," so he solemnly 
accepted these invitations to boring dinners, talked 
platitudes to ingenues and dowagers, lawyers and 
stockbrokers, and all the while he was far away; 
the real Pater was elsewhere "burning with a hard 
gem-like flame," in that twilight land of the 
Pagan-Christian world through which Marius 
glided ; or in Greece, or with the young Botticelli, 



Walter Pater 241 

or with Wattcau, or in Oxford. Of course he 
returned to Oxford, to the city of lost causes and 
dreaming spires; of course he returned to his 
dreams, after this attempt to "play the game" in 
London. Oxford was his real home. 
It was from Brasenose College, Oxford, that he 
wrote a letter to "my dear audacious Moore" 
about the "Confessions" (not Augustine s), and 
Moore, who at one time idolised Pater, prints in 
his "Avowals" a story about Pater s literary origins, 
and about his style, "that style unlike all other 
styles," which, whether it be fiction or fact, is de 
lightful. 

Someone had given to George Moore a copy of 
Goethe s "Italian Journey," which he had looked 
into and wearied of, finding it pompous and empty. 
He was about to throw the book aside when his 
eyes alighted on a chapter called "S. Philip Neri." 
He read a little, read more, read on with avidity; 
then he allowed the volume to drop upon his knee 
and meditated. George Moore is always most 
Mooreish when meditating in Ebury Street with his 
cat on his knee. His next book should be called 
"Meditations." 

He had a vision. He saw Pater alone in a library: 
he saw him standing on the fifth step of the ladder 
taking a book from the shelf: he saw him turn the 
leaves indifferently, then suddenly fix his mind 
acutely upon Goethe s study of S. Philip Neri. Im 
mediately he knew the thoughts that were flocking 
through Pater s mind: they were these Shall I 
write an article on Goethe s style with special 



242 Authors and I 

reference to S. Philip Neri, or shall I say nothing 
about it? Pater decided against writing about 
S. Philip Neri. He replaced the book, descended 
cautiously from the ladder and looked anxiously 
around. Then he removed the ladder to another 
part of the library. 

There the vision ended, and George Moore said 
to himself, "I have come upon Pater s origins, but 
if I make it known to the world it will be said that 
I have robbed Pater of part of his glory." Hardly, 
George! But you have caused a run on Goethe s 
"Italian Journey." I have ordered a copy from the 
little bookseller round the corner. 
All the week I have been going about with a copy 
of "Marius the Epicurean" in my jacket pocket. 
I have been reading it in tram-cars and in subways, 
on the elevated and in elevators, in tea rooms, and 
while waiting for election returns. I had read it 
before, years ago, in the sumptuous edition of 
Pater s works which I purchased feeling that no 
page could be too noble, no margins too ample, for 
his exquisite prose. But that edition is in England. 
So I borrowed Marius in a crowded page, and a 
cloth binding. Nothing, neither binding nor local 
ity, can lessen its remote and wistful beauty. Some 
one has said that what distinguishes fine from other 
literature is that the former suggests a withdrawal 
from the common life. That is why "Marius" is 
fine, and why Pater s literary life was fine. 
They were withdrawals from the common life. 
In the wonderful second chapter of "Marius" 
called "White-Nights" there is a passage that ex- 



Walter Pater 243 

plains this withdrawal gently and beautifully. It 
is his mother who is speaking to Marius. "A white 
bird, she told him once, looking at him gravely, a 
bird which he must carry in his bosom across a 
crowded public place his own soul was like that! 
would it reach the hands of his good genius on the 
opposite side, unruffled and unsoiled?" 
We all know so much about the Renaissance, and 
the great figures who moved through it (indeed we 
are all a little tired of the Renaissance), that we 
are apt to forget the dark time before we were 
awakened to the Renaissance, to forget that it was 
Walter Pater s delicate and sensitive artistic and 
literary antennae that made the persons and prod 
ucts of the Renaissance living and lovely. The pres 
ent bustling generation can hardly realise what the 
books of Pater meant to the youth of Oxford and 
Cambridge, of Harvard and Yale. Greece and 
Italy, under the spell of his interior imagination, 
became spiritual actualities: he opened the doors to 
comradeship in beauty. He understood what was 
significant and vital, and he could explain. No 
book that has ever been written about Watteau can 
approach in insight and charm his "Imaginary Por 
trait" of Watteau. 

To produce his finest work Pater had to make a 
withdrawal from the common life, to remove him 
self from the Present to the Past. I have added 
his "Essays from the Guardian," and his "Sketches 
and Reviews" to my Pater shelf, as I have added 
George Moore s dinner story to my Pater biblio 
mania. I place these two Pater volumes in the 



244 Authors and I 

dinner-table category. He wrote the essays, con 
tained in them, dear man, just to keep in touch 
with modern life: he reviewed the books of his 
friends Moore, Symons, Gosse, Wilde and he 
wrote on Flaubert and Robert Elsmere; but all 
in his dinner-table, polite manner. There is no 
withdrawal in them. These essays, produced when 
Pater was trying to "do his bit" in modern literary 
life, are not the real Pater. You must seek him 
in his earlier exclusive and seclusive books: yes, and 
also in the famous passage on Mona Lisa. 
I cling tft that and always shall. I go farther and 
say that Pater s prose is better than Leonardo s 
painting. 

Pater wrote with difficulty in the leisure of ample 
mornings; he corrected and re-corrected through 
quiet after-noons with imperturbable assiduity, and in 
the evenings, like Marius, he absorbed nourishment 
from other minds. He has said in "The Renais 
sance" that the tendency of all the arts is to aspire 
to the condition of music. His jewelled, consciously 
wrought, and beautiful prose certainly has that 
tendency. But his gift to the world is something 
more. It lies in his withdrawal, in his communi 
cation of something beyond and above the insistent 
Present, something hidden yet revealed to initiates. 
Like his own Marius he seems to be carrying 
secretly a white bird in his bosom, always with 
him, always unruffled and unsoiled, across the pub 
lic places. 

So much is this sense of withdrawal needed that, if 
I had my way, I would make every Mayor and 



Jl alter Pater 245 

Governor, before he is allowed to take office, 
whether Democrat or Republican, sign a paper, 
saying that he had read recently every word of 
"Marius the Epicurean." 



A white bird, a bird which he must carry in his 
bosom. , 



45. A. T. QUILLER-COUCH 

T PERMIT myself to think of him as "Q." So 
*- he signed in The Speaker during the early nine 
ties. This signature appeared, week by week, at 
the foot of an essay story racy, humorous, 
pointed, brief. I thought them fine at the time: 
these swift studies in characterisation seemed to 
promise that one day "Q" would become a fore 
most novelist, a sort of second Robert Louis Steven 
son. 

He did not. He tarries. As a novelist he has not 
conquered. Others have passed him, and I fancy 
that, since "True Tilda" issued about ten years ago, 
he has gradually eased away from the fiction market. 
Many novels stand to his name. I remember read 
ing, with rather an effort, "The Splendid Spur," 
"Hetty Wesley," and "Shining Ferry," and I 
studied with much care his conclusion of "St. Ives," 
which Stevenson left unfinished. It was a deft 
piece of work, the mechanics faultless, but it was 
not Stevenson. He is not a great romancer: he 
lacks Stevenson s lilt and background ; and his child 
like joy is metallic: it does not ooze out in the way 
of his master. As a romancer I submit "Q J> has 
not found his centre. 

Is he a poet, is poetry his true centre? I think 

not. He has written some charming and pretty 

246 



A. T. Quiller-Couch 247 

poetry, he has made some neat and witty parodies 
(some think that they are better than Owen Sea 
man s), but his heartiest admirers would not label 
him a great poet. 

Let us look at the man himself and see if we can 
discover what is "Q s" line in literature. He is a 
stay-at-home. For a few years he tried London, 
but in 1891 he returned to Cornwall where he has 
lived ever since. The first book he published after 
his return to Cornwall was "I Saw Three Ships." 
Ships he can see from his windows at the Haven, 
Fowey, Cornwall, adventuring out from Plymouth, 
or Plymouth bound. Ships are his companions; he 
is a great yachtsman, and his club is the Royal 
Fowey Yacht Club. Are we then to suppose that 
his centre is yachting? Hardly. Yachting is his 
recreation. 

When I made a walking tour through Cornwall 
and reached Fowey early on a spring evening my 
fiwt employment, after a bite of supper, was to 
call upon "Q." We sat in his library and I won 
dered mildly at the number of books owned by 
this tall, slight, blonde, athletic-looking writer who, 
in spite of his tan breeziness, and Yo, Heave Ho air, 
spoke like a scholar. Fleet Street has left little 
impression upon him. Oxford has. Scholarship 
might have tamed and tied him, as it tames and ties 
so many; his learned honours are numerous: M.A. 
Oxford, M.A. Cambridge, Litt.D. Bristol, but 
like G. W. Steevens academic honours have been 
powerless to stultify the essential "Q." He is of 
the Stevenson school gay, original, with flashes of 



248 Authors and I 

insight, wearing his learning lightly and bend 
ing it to bright use in the give and take of the 
day s work. While we sat talking in his library 
above the Cornish sea, hearing his rapid comments 
on books and thought, I said to myself: "You are 
a born writer, and you could write decently and 
daringly on anything; you could turn out a lyric 
or an epic, a paragraph or a novel of a couple of 
hundred thousand words, but at heart you are a 
creative critic, a stimulating guide and brotherly 
friend to all who would shape their thought and 
lives from a study of the best literature. Yes, you 
are a creative critic. That is your literary centre." 
If anyone wants to be convinced of this let him 
read Quiller-Couch s "On the Art of Writing" and 
particularly "Studies in Literature." 
Since 1918 when it was published by the Cam 
bridge University Press, "Studies in Literature" has 
been my chief bedside book. Dip into it where I 
will, a page here, a page there, I always find it tonic. 
Some of the essays were delivered to his class at 
Cambridge. Fortunate undergraduates! Your 
fathers, by Cam and Isis, heard Ruskin and Mat 
thew Arnold: you have heard one who is worthy, 
as lecturer, to rank with them. Who that heard 
it can forget his indignation that anybody should 
call a "sloppy sentence good enough" ; and who, 
having heard it, can forget his illustration and com 
ment : "I desire that among us we make it impos 
sible to do again what our Admiralty did with the 
battle of Jutland, to win a victory at sea and lose 
it in a despatch." 



A. T. Quiller-Coiich 249 

And the Rhymer, the budding Cambridge poet, 
hearing the following would he not hurry home, 
with quick feet, to re-fashion his verses? 

Gentlemen as your noun is but a name and your adjec 
tive but an adjunct to a name, while along your verb 
runs the nerve of life; so, if you would write melodiously, 
throughout vowels rr.jst the melody run. 

And this about those pedagogues who classify poets 
into the Classic and the Romantic School is it not 
final? 

"The play s the thing." "Hamlet," Lytidas," or "The 
Cenci" is the thing. Shakespeare, Milton, Shelley did not 
write "classicism" or "romanticism." They wrote "Ham 
let," "Lycidas," "The Cenci. 1 

And would not this burst of praise, no qualifications 
here, send a literary undergraduate, with eager eyes 
and rising pulse, to "the great Donne, the real 
Donne" 

. . . his Sermons, which contain (as I hold) the most 
magnificent prose ever uttered from an English pulpit, if 
not the most magnificent prose ever spoken in our tongue. 

This appears in the essay on "Some Seventeenth 
Century Poets." The thoughts of youth are long, 
long thoughts, and I can well imagine an under 
graduate who heard this lecture never losing, 
throughout his life time, the memory of how Donoe, 
Herbert, Vaughan, Traherne, Crashaw, and others 
swung our noble tongue, soaring as they shaped it. 
It is like drinking from a deep well. 



250 /jitthors and I 

And if the reader, having read some of "Q s" novels, 
and knowing how alert and lively is his fancy, 
desires something more than creative criticism of 
the best of the past, let him absorb the essay called 
"The Commerce of Thought," wherein "Q" lets 
his imagination play over the old trade routes. 

You will see, as this little planet revolves back out of the 
shadow of night to meet the day, little threads pushing 
out over its black spaces dotted ships on wide seas, 
crawling trains of emigrant waggons, pioneers, tribes on 
the trek, olive-gatherers, desert caravans, dahabeeyahs 
pushing up the Nile ... the trade routes. 

So he worms into this fascinating subject till he 
comes to his main thesis the wanderings, alight- 
ings, and fertilising of man s thought. 
As my eyes roam these pages they fall upon a foot 
note just a footnote, and you know what foot 
notes usually are. What do you think of this foot 
note? Does it not set the imagination stirring? 

It is observable how many of the great books of the 
world the "Odyssey," the "^neid," "The Canterbury 
Tales," "Don Quixote," "The Pilgrim s Progress," "Gil 
Bias," "Pickwick," and "The Cloister and the Hearth" 
are books of wayfaring. 

I repeat: it is in creative criticism that "Q" has 
found his centre. Let others busy themselves with 
the novel. It is his destiny to deal creatively with 
the higher branch, with poetry, and the literature 
that is safe beyond the phases and fashions of our 
day. He makes us long to read the best ; he makes 



A. T. Quiller-Conch 251 

us lament that we pretend we have no time for 
that great adventure. 

Undergraduates and graduates owe him another 
debt. He gave us the "Oxford Book of English 
Verse." My copy is falling to pieces through 
much reading. It was bought in 1901: it is 
scrawled with markings and comments. Among 
them are these: that the anonymous poem "Non 
Nobis" is by Harry Cust, and the last poem in the 
book, "Dominus Illuminatio Mea," is by R. D. 
Blackmore, author of "Lorna Doone." It was 
found among his papers. 

He, like "Q," was an open air man, and when I 
think of Quiller-Couch and Blackmore I see the 
Doone Valley, and the Haven of Fowey. 



T 



46. SIEGFRIED SASSOON 

HIS soldier-poet is a bad lecturer; but it is 
the kind of badness that delights an American 
audience accustomed to a standardised efficiency in 
lecturing. He is shy on the platform; he does not 
know how to stand properly ; he mixes up his points; 
and when he reads his poems, he reads to himself, 
not to the man at the top of the top gallery. Yet 
he "puts it over" because he is sincere, because he 
has something to say, and because he laughs at him 
self. So his audience is tense for half the time, and 
for the other half is rippling with laughter. A lady 
sitting next to me during one of his lectures on war 
poetry whispered: "I shall never again say that 
Englishmen have not a sense of humour." To 
which I replied: "Why did you ever say it?" 
Siegfried Sassoon, being young, is not enthusiastic 
about the elder, contemporary British poets; but he 
has one great admiration Thomas Hardy. I sus 
pect that as a poet he ranks Hardy higher than 
anybody in the world. His admirations among the 
younger poets include Rupert Brooke, Julian 
Grenfell, and Charles Sawley. His high appre 
ciation of the ironists and satirists includes Richard 
Aldington, Herbert Reed, J. C. Squire, and Os 
wald Sitwell. Then being obliged to speak about 
himself, he did so briefly with a blush and a pro- 
252 



Siegfried S as so on 253 

test. Seated at the table he read some of his nice 
nature poems, and some of his bitter, disillusioned 
war poems. 

Had there been no war Siegfried Sassoon might 
have remained just what he was before the war a 
minor poet, in love with life, fond of music, keen 
about hunting and tennis. There are many such 
in England. This tall, alert young man, of Anglo- 
Jewish stock, his mother a sister of the capable sculp 
tor, Hamo Thornycroft, educated at Marlborough 
and Oxford, wrote his youthful poems, like so many 
others; but being rather modest he printed them 
for private circulation only. You may guess what 
they were like by their titles: "Twelve Sonnets," 
"Melodies," "An Ode for Music," "Hyacinth," 
"Apollo in Doelyrium." Masefield s success influ 
enced him. His poem "The Old Huntsman" has 
something of Masefield and something more. Pro 
test is its note. The yeast of protest against com 
fortable conventions was already beginning to work 
in this athletic, life-loving youth. 
Then the war broke out, and Siegfried Sassoon, like 
other young men of spirit, rushed to the colours, 
knowing that this was a war for righteousness and 
freedom, and that it had to be fought out to the 
bitter end. The war changed him. Like the others 
he went gaily, his head high; and we who stayed 
at home prayed that it would be the last war, the 
war that would end war; and we wondered, with 
nice anxiety, what would be the effect of the horror 
and brutality of war upon the artist-soldier, upon 
poets, painters, and musicians. 



254 Authors and I 

As everyone knows, one of the minor effects of the 
war was to open the verse and poetry floodgates. 
Every newspaper, every magazine, published war 
poems by stay-at-homes and soldiers. Soon Sieg 
fried Sassoon s poems began to appear in such jour 
nals as the Cambridge Magazine, The Nation, 
The New Statesman. He had seen war, and he 
was in no mood to temporise with it, or to gloss its 
beastliness. 

His poems shocked many people: they horrified those 
who clung to the idea that there might be some 
thing of splendour and purification in modern war 
fare. There were poets who sang that side of it; 
but to Sassoon the rivulets of gallantry 7 and sacrifice 
were swept out of sight by the torrents of horror, 
misery, and brutality. Those who read his poems 
said to themselves, with all the emphasis of which 
they were capable: "This vile thing called war 
shall never happen again." 

His published works are three: "Counter-Attack," 
"The Old Huntsman," and "The Picture Show." 
One does not read them for pleasure: one reads as 
a warning, as a poetical uncovering of a horrible 
evil that must be exorcised from man s conscious 
ness. His poems are statements red from the con 
flict, and so vivid are they that the pleasanter 
pieces in these volumes seem discoloured by the 
smoke and flame of outrageous war. Rough, rude, 
and slangy are many of the poems, for Sassoon is 
a realist and fighting men are fighting men. But 
he can be calm and cool when he likes, as in 



Siegfried S as soon 255 



A MYSTIC AS SOLDIER 

I lived my days apart, 

Dreaming fair songs of God, 
By the glory in my heart 

Covered and crowned and shod. 

Now God is in the strife, 

And I must seek Him there, 
Where death outnumbers life, 

And fury smites the air. 

I walk the secret way 

With anger in my brain, 
O music, through my clay, 

When will you sound again? 

This poet soldier who has raised his voice so poig 
nantly and angrily against war, who cries again 
and again, "War doesn t ennoble: it degrades," 
saw four and a hilf years of fighting in France and 
Palestine. The Military Cross is his. In America 
he lectured and read his poems, insisting upon the 
criminality of even speaking of a future war. "It 
never must happen again." That is the cry of a 
poet who knows what war is. 



47. GEORGE BERNARD SHAW 

TO me a new volume of "Plays with Prefaces," 
by George Bernard Shaw, is an event. In 
him I find those high forms of pleasure mental 
stimulus, inward laughter, and the truth, the truth 
as he sees it, unvarnished and undecorated. What 
matter if I do not agree with him? It is G. B. S. 
I am reading, not myself. 

How barren the modern stage would be without 
Ibsen and Shaw! Actors, the right kind, idolise 
Ibsen and Shaw. Their characters being real, 
saying real things, act themselves. Shaw s plays, 
to his own astonishment, and to everybody else s, 
have become popular. 

In the second year of the war two plays were 
being performed in the Pier theatres of a south coast 
watering place. One was a revue the usual inane 
vulgarity. I attended the performance. The house 
was half empty, and the audience tepid and inat 
tentive. I left before the end, while a boisterous 
chorus was singing a boisterous song. The next 
night I attended the performance at the other Pier 
theatre. It was "Man and Superman," by George 
Bernard Shaw. The house was packed, every point 
was taken; throughout there was laughter, applause, 
and the tensity of attention that informs an au 
dience with purpose and power. "Give the public 
256 



George Bernard Shaw 257 

good stuff," said I to my companion, "and they will 
react to it." 

G. B. S. has tried everything except sport (he gives 
his Recreation as "everything except sport") and 
succeeded in everything. When, in 1898, he penned 
his journalistic Valedictory in the pages of the Satur 
day Revinv he could look back upon ten years of 
continuous weekly criticism of the arts of music and 
the drama, and still more years of Fabian Society 
work, public speaking and pamphleteering. And 
before that there were the novels, "The Irrational 
Knot," "Love Among the Artists," "Cashel By 
ron s Profession," and "An Unsocial Socialist." 
After ten years of criticism of the arts "Shaw gave 
up exhausted," says Mr. Achibald Henderson in his 
Life of G. Bernard Shaw, perhaps the best Life 
of a living man that has ever been written. Of 
course G. B. S. had a hand in it. Frankly, openly, 
quizzically he gives personal attention to all matters 
of personal publicity. But Shaw never "gave up 
exhausted." This non-mcat-cater, rion-smoker, 
whose beverage is water, was never exhausted. 
Neither his mind nor his body ever rest. That 
Valedictory simply meant that he was about to turn 
from serious criticism to serious creation. He had 
done what he meant to do he had forced upon 
the world "that most successful of all his fictions 
G. B. S." We, in London, who had followed him, 
who had heard him speak at Fabian meetings, who 
had shouted to the Pan-like, mustardy-grey figure 
to get upon his legs, who could quote passages from 
"The Quintessence of Ibsen ism" and "The perfect 



258 Authors and I 

Wagnerite" ; we who knew of the basal seriousness 
that underlay his levity were delighted with the 
following passage from the Valedictory in the Satur 
day, but I wondered then, and I wonder still, how 
the readers of that last stronghold of High British 
Toryism took it. 

"For ten years past, with an unprecedented per 
tinacity I have been dinning into the public head that 
I am an extraordinarily witty, brilliant, and clever 
man. That is now part of the public opinion of 
England ; and no power on earth will ever change 
it. I may dodder and dote. I may pot-boil and 
platitudinise; I may become the butt and chopping- 
block of all the bright, original spirits of the rising 
generation ; but my reputation shall not suffer ; it is 
built up fast and solid, like Shakespeare s, on an 
impregnable basis of dogmatic reiteration." 
For years he had been regarded by one section of 
the public as a prophet, by the other as a buffoon. 
It was the stupidity of the latter section that des 
ignated him a buffoon. Anybody with any kind of 
instinct knew that under his raillery, levity, and 
determination to build up the G. B. S. legend was 
grim seriousness and implacable integrity. Why, 
he himself gave himself away again and again. 
"Waggery as a medium is invaluable," he once ex 
plained. "My method, you will have noticed, is to 
take the utmost trouble to find the right thing to 
say, and then say it with the utmost levity. And 
all the time the real joke is that I am in earnest." 
After years of thought about G. B. S., that learned 
critic and former Oxford Don, Mr. W. L. Court- 



George Bernard Shan- 259 

ncy, remarked: "The annoying part of Mr. G. 
Bernard Shaw s career is that he is more often right 
than wrong right in substance, though often 
wrong in manner, saying true things with the most 
ludicrous air in the world, as if he were merely 
enjoying himself at our expense." 
Which he was, and is. 

As a journalist he was delightful. He made writing 
about music human ; he pointed the way to the 
knowledge that organists are real people who live 
in houses, and often have wives anu children. He 
was Corno di Bassetto of the Star, that pioneer 
rocket of the new journalism, set flying by T. P. 
O Connor, who when he engaged G. B. S. to do 
the music, whispered to him, "Say what you like, 
but don t tell us anything about Bach in B minor." 
And C. di B. said just what he liked, and people 
who had never read a word about music read the 
Star columns regularly, and spoke ecstatically about 
Shaw s cleverness in concealing his ignorance. The 
joke was that Shaw knew as much, perhaps more, 
about music than anybody in London. He himself 
described Corno di Bassetto s column as "a mix 
ture of triviality, vulgarity, farce and tomfoolery 
with genuine criticism." 

His vogue, his great popularity, was due to the fact 
that he was always amusing. Make people laugh 
intellectually, and they will forgive you anything. 
He would instill humour into the drycst, abstrusest 
subject. One Sunday afternoon in December, pass* 
ing St. James Hall in Piccadilly, I noticed that at 
4 p. m. G. Bernard Shaw was announced to speak 



260 Authors and I 

on "Education," admission one shilling. I became 
one of the crowded audience, and listened for an 
hour and a half, without effort, without my thought 
once wandering, and with many explosions of 
laughter. He told us merely about his own educa 
tion, and drew a moral, and the moral was that his 
education began when he left school. When it was 
over I happened to meet him outside on the way 
home, and said: "Shaw, it cost me a bob, but it 
was worth it." 

He smiled ; he had a ready smile. 
I can see him now walking rapidly about the 
platform, the tall, lanky, springing figure, the 
mustardy-grey suit that he always wore, the wide, 
heavy, health-boots, the scraggiy reddish-brown 
beard and hair (now turning white), the high brow 
and the clear, grey-blue eyes that can be amused, 
alert, penetrating, but never angry. He always 
looked the same (I believe since he married he 
does sometimes wear a dress suit), walking furiously 
in the street, or coming to a public dinner where 
he had been announced to speak, ridiculously late, 
slipping in with the sweets so as to avoid the odour, 
to him horrible, of the joint course. 
He has a ready smile. He supers fools gladly be 
cause, I suppose, nothing human is alien to his sym 
pathy. Once the ready smile, once only in all my 
knowledge of him, did not lighten his pallor. It 
was at an exhibition of caricatures by Max Beer- 
bohm; one of them showed a cartoon of G. B. S. 
standing on his head on the largest rug in a draw 
ing room, his long legs nearly touching the ceiling. 



George Bernard Shaw 261 

Underneath was this: "When I left London two 
years ago the dear man was standing on his head. 
On my return I find him in the same position." I 
drew Mr. Shaw s attention to this with the words, 
"Look! Max has got you this time." G. B. S. 
examined the cartoon carefully and passed on with 
out smiling. 

Those who want George Bernard Shaw only in 
serious mood can find plenty of solid seriousness in 
his writings. "The Showing-Up of Blanco Posnet" 
was banned by the censor because it deals with 
realities. The censor felt that even at the cost of 
looking foolish, he must protect those who cling to 
unrealities. Au fond it is a very serious play. 
"There s no good and bad," says Posnet, "but by 
Jiminy, gents, there s a rotten game, and there s 
a great game. I played the rotten game; but the 
great game was played; and now I m for the great 
game every time. Amen." 

And what do you think of this, the real Shaw: 
"We have no more right to consume happiness 
without producing it than we have to consume 
wealth without producing it." 
And of this, also the real Shaw, in a letter he 
wrote to Tolstoy: "I think the root reason why we 
do not do as our fathers advise us to do is that we 
none of us want to be like our fathers, the inten 
tion of the Universe being that we should be like 
God." 

P. S. As to Mr. Shaw s opinions about the 
late Great War oh, perhaps I should have ex 
plained earlier that he is an Irishman. 



48. J. C. SNAITH 

IT is possible for an author s books to be well 
known, and he himself quite unknown. This, 
undoubtedly, is the right way for an author to con 
duct himself. Often, ultimately, this way pays bet 
ter than the way of publicity. 

I know nothing about John Collis Snaith outside 
his books. Do you? I am a little curious. He 
does not help my curiosity. In "Who s Who," the 
biographies of which are written by the subjects 
themselves, there is a list of a dozen of his works. 
Printed before that list is his biography in three 
words "Writer of fiction." At the end of the list 
is his address, "Care of John Murray." This is 
biography Bovrilised ; this is a shining example of 
the modesty of authorship. 

Readers of books are the best advertisers of books. 
They talk; they carry the good tidings of a good 
book. Fourteen years ago a certain painter, to 
whom a book is usually a bore, began to bewilder 
his friends with praise of Snaith s "Broke of Coven- 
den." So insistent was his commendation, in the 
fishing village frequented by painters where he lived, 
that a dozen people acquired "Broke of Coven- 
den." I was among the twelve, and was delighted 
with the spirit and wisdom of the tale. 
Three years ago a daughter of my acquaintance 
262 



/. C. Snaith 263 

gave, as a Christmas present to a mother of my 
affection, a copy of "The Sailor" by Snaith. "Why 
did you choose that?" I asked. "Because," 
answered the daughter, "I like it better than any 
other book." I borrowed "The Sailor" from the 
mother and was much interested and entertained. 
John Collis Snaith continued to remain, so far as 
I was concerned, in complete retirement. His books 
circulated, he hid. In the summer of 1919 every 
one who skimmed the book columns of the news 
papers was aware that a new war novel by J. C. 
Snaith called "The Undefeated" (in America) 
was receiving a "good press." Every reviewer was 
pleased. Some were enthusiastic. Not one had 
anything unkind to say, a sign that it was a real 
book, striking a human note. 

I have a friend who does not read much; he has 
not the time; but he buys the notable books of the 
day, and arranges them upon his shelves, purposing 
to read them during his vacation which, of course, 
he never does. From his shelves on Independence 
Day I withdrew "The Undefeated," and, it being 
a holiday, carried it home and began to read. I 
perused half of it without stirring, oblivious to time, 
so that I was surprised when, at half past 6 ap 
peared the companion who had arranged to accom 
pany me to the Victory Celebration in the Stadium 
of the College of the City of New York. "What," 
I cried, "is it half past 6 already?" 
A summer night, a daffodil sky, and nearly 20,000 
people in that vast Stadium! I sat on one of the 
topmost stone benches upon which the sun had been 



264 Authors and I 

blazing all day, and in my hand was "The Un 
defeated," for there would be a long tram-ride 
home. The book allied itself to the Victory Cele 
bration in the Stadium. Each was an expression 
of the undefeated ; each was an aspect of victor} , 
the one a whirlwind of rejoicing, the other a still 
small voice of thankfulness. When a company 
of marines marched into the arena, and the audience 
shouted, and the boy scouts saluted, and the nurses 
waved handkerchiefs, I rejoiced with them, for is 
there anywhere a finer sight than marines in their 
light yellowy marching kit? They moved like one 
man; their faces were indistinguishable as they 
marched to the wailing pride of Sousa s "The Stars 
and Stripes Forever." As I watched them, symbols 
of the Victory of Right, I clutched the book closer, 
and thought of a character in its pages, one Private, 
afterward Corp. William Hollis, who passed from 
defeat to victory, who came through the war un 
defeated. 

Thus literature may be allied to life. The 
Pageant and the Book were one, working toward 
one end. There was time to reflect, for the pro 
ceedings included speeches. In the book there is a 
speech that is the right kind of speech, but the 
addresses at the Victory Pageant were the wrong 
kind. Eminent gentlemen declaimed the obvious. I 
know it was the obvious because the speeches were 
reported at length in the next day s papers, and I 
am sure that there was not one person in that vast 
audience who heard one word. The 20,000 fanned 
themselves and cheered; they cheered vociferously, 



/. C. Snalth 265 

wildly, because they wanted the speeches to end 
and Tschaikowsky s "1812" overture to begin. But 
the eminent speakers thought it was their oratory 
that was being cheered. So they spread themselves, 
amplified their periods, whereupon the audience 
cheered louder than ever. It was almost amusing. 
And while the torrent of words rushed forth in 
dumb show I read the speech that the Mayor of 
Blackhamptbn makes on page 282 of "The Unde 
feated." It was a great occasion. Usually he was 
a facile speaker, but for a special reason his powers 
threatened to desert him now. He recovered him 
self, and at last slowly and grimly the great voice 
boomed out, "Ladies and gentlemen, there are those 
who think they can down the Anglo-Saxon race, 
but" slight pause "they don t know what they 

are un-der-ta-kin " 

Through the long tram-ride home I read "The Un 
defeated," hanging to a strap, startled by the ex 
plosion of fireworks, disquieted by the size and 
threat of the mobs that thronged the streets; but 
"The Undefeated" kept me cool and content. Such 
is the power of literature. That night, the hottest 
night of the year, unwilling to sleep, I finished "The 
Undefeated." 

Then, the time being 2 a. m., I reflected on the 
potency of the modern novel. When it is a mere 
story it is a mere story; but a novel like "The Un 
defeated" carries much more than the brisk and 
entertaining tale. It takes the place of the exhorta 
tion, the sermon, not explicitly but implicitly. This 
story, true to life, and quite credible, tells the effect 



266 Authors and I 

of the stress of war upon a group of quite ordinary 
people. Some come through it purified and 
strengthened, others remain as they are. It is just 
life, and the difference between a novel of this kind 
and the sermon is this: The sermon teaches through 
dialectic, the novel teaches through characterisation. 
Good characterisation always convinces. The 
characters in "The Undefeated" act and evolve be 
cause they belong to life; they are selected from 
life and organised into a pattern which becomes a 
work of art. 

In fiction the episode is easy to state, the coherent 
whole is hard to relate. There are some novelists 
who, starting from the episode of Liz and Polly, 
could build it into a coherent whole, a work of 
art. Do you know the episode? 
It happened in London during an air raid. Polly 
was conductor of a motor-bus which had just 
emerged from the zone upon which the bombs were 
falling. As the bus rushed out of the area another 
bus approached going toward the danger zone, and 
in the conductor Polly recognised a friend. The 
busses flashed past each other; she shouted: "Stick 
it, Liz," and Liz shouted back, "You bet!" 
Problem: To create the lives of Liz and Polly 
from their action and those few quick words. I 
think the "Stick it, Liz" episode should come at the 
end of the volume. 

Polly and Liz and the Mayor of Blackhampton are 
among the Undefeated. It is they, the Undefeated, 
who move and make the world. 



49. ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 

T HAD clean forgotten that R. L. S. ever lived at 
Saranac Lake in the Adirondacks. It was 
brought to my knowledge in a direct and pictorial 
way. 

Here I am at Lake Placid, and here lives T. M. 
Longsteeth who hns published a book on the Adiron 
dacks, and who knows the district as R. L. S. knew 
Edinburgh. One day he invited me to climb Mt. 
Cobble. It is not a mountain at all; it is a pro 
digious hill, and half an hour s rough scramble takes 
you to the summit. But what a view the range of 
mountains, the wilderness of forest, the innumer 
able lakes! He pointed out to me Whiteface Moun 
tain, the Indian Pass, John Brown s farm, and then 
he said, "There s Saranac Lake." 
I looked an interrogation. 

"Where Robert Louis Stevenson lived during the 
winter of 1887-88, and where he wrote the Scribner 
essays, and part of "The Master of Ballantrac." 
The house he occupied is now the Stevenson 
Memorial. You should see it." 
Dimly I began to remember; and how from Saranac 
Lake R. L. S. and his household travelled to San 
Francisco, and thence to the South Seas on the 
schooner yacht Casco; and the end of those adven 
tures was his Samoan home, world-wide fame, exile, 
267 



268 Authors and I 

and the bestowal upon him by the natives of Samoa 
of the title of Tusitala Teller of Tales. 
It was exciting and stimulating to be on the Steven 
son trail once again, for he was master among the 
young writers of my youth, and, yes, to open a 
book by him today is to recapture the old thrill. He 
is the writer s writer; his words don t walk, they 
dance into their right places; he surprises, soothes, 
and elates. He is the real man of letters. Every- 
thing he handled he adorned, and he touched every 
room in the house of letters. But do the young men 
and young women of today know him and read 
him? I wonder. 

They know all about him at Saranac Lake. That 
was a pleasant surprise. Four Saranac folk, a man, 
a woman, and two boys, of whom in turn I asked 
the way, knew of Stevenson and knew the Steven 
son house. It stands just without the growing 
town, that has spread over-much since Stevenson 
lived there, on a little hill beyond the traffic. Half 
way up the hill, I made another inquiry of a gar 
dener. "Oh, yes, it s just up there you go along 
Stevenson Lane to that white frame house with the 
veranda. You can almost read the sign from here 
there it is, The Stevenson Memorial/ " Truly, 
it was strange and gratifying to find this wandering 
Scot, our R. L. S., so far from home, a mere bird 
of passage in this neighbourhood, known so well to 
day at Saranac Lake. 

This is owing to the Stevenson Society at Saranac 
Lake, that evolved from the Stevenson Memorial 
Committee. This society, with a membership of 



Robert Louis Stevenson 269 

200, was able in October, 1916, to dedicate as a pub 
lic memorial the rooms Stevenson occupied in the 
Baker Cottage in 1887-88, and to fill them with 
memorials of R. L. S. It is a simple and affecting 
shrine, done well, done with fervour and affection. 
You climb the grass garden and reach the veranda 
where, as he has told us, R. L. S. walked for inspira 
tion ; you pause before a bronze tablet, nearly three 
feet high, imbedded in the wall, and there is R. L. 
S. himself in bronze by Gutzon Borglum, clad 
well, R. L. S. was always an idealist in dress and 
here he wears a big fur coat and a tight-fitting 
cap. He is very erect ; he is walking on these very 
boards. There can be doubt about that, for en 
graved on the side of the figure is this inscription: 
"I was walking in the veranda of a small cottage 
outside the hamlet of Saranac. It was winter, the 
night was very dark, the air clear and cold, and 
sweet with the purity of forests. For the making 
of a story here were fine conditions. Come, said 
I to my engine, let us make a tale. " 
Then he went inside and the tale he began to make 
was "The Master of Ballantrae." 
Soon I went inside and stood silently in the smaller 
room, and looked from it to the larger room, each 
crowded with Stcvensoniana. In a comer was the 
desk, plain wood with a glazed bookcase above, con 
taining first editions, etc. At this desk he wrote 
"A Christmas Sermon," "The Lantern-Bearers," 
"Pulvis et Umbra," part of "The Master of Ballan 
trae," and "The Wrong Box," in conjunction with 
Lloyd Osbourne. In cases and upon the walls arc 



270 Authors and I 

objects, photographs, drawings, that cry in every 
fold and line the name of Stevenson his velvet 
coat, his red sash, Siron s Inn at Barbizon, Skerry- 
vore at Bournemouth, wood blocks by him, his skull 
cap, the last pen he used, much bitten at the butt- 
end over half a hundred records of this beloved 
writer, who paused here, and pressed the Adiron- 
dacks. With care, with love, his imprint has been 
preserved. 

His presence became insistent. I walked the 
veranda, a trifle ashamed to think how in the rush 
of life and letters, the many claims and the many 
distractions, the presence of R. L. S. had faded 
almost to a wraith. How vigorous and persuasive 
his influence was in the late eighties and nineties, 
among young men of letters ! We all tried to write 
like R. L. S. so foolish an emprise. We tried to 
be fantastic, and romantic, and to use tickling and 
caressing words so absurd, because we were not 
Stevensons. We decided that beside "Travels 
with a Donkey" and "An Inland Voyage," all travel 
books were banal, and we asserted that after "Dr. 
Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," all textbooks on psychology 
were immature and tedious. O youth, so generous 
and unreflecting! But we did not see R. L. S. the 
gay, the buoyant, the prankish. Before 1887 he 
had left London, never to return. He was already 
becoming a tradition, a legend, his wild talk at the 
Savile Club, his visits to Sidney Colvin, his sudden 
appearances in Soho and elsewhere. He but passed 
through London as he passed through Saranac; he 
was always a wanderer. 



Robert Louis Stevenson 271 

Vicariously we knew him. When Henley published 
his "Book of Verses," there he was cut with cunning 
words into a cameo "Thin-legged, slight unspeak 
ably, a hint of Ariel, a touch of Puck, with some 
thing of the Shorter Catechist." 
How great was our delight when Andrew Lang 
and Stevenson began hurling poems at one another 
"Dear Andrew with the brindled hair," to which 
Lang replied with a poem beginning, "Dear Louis 
of the awful cheek." Charles Baxter, too, became 
known to us. To him Henley dedicated his "Old 
Friends" poem "We have been good friends, you 
and Lewis (Henley always spelt him Lewis) and I. 
How good it sounds you and Lewis and I." And 
Henley hoped that in these three "you and Lewis 
and I," was something of the gallant dream that 
old Dumas, the great, the humane, the seven and 
seventy times to be forgiven, dreamed as a blessing 
to the race the immortal Musketeers. Lewis, as 
Henley sang, became the world s. Years later Hen 
ley had an unkind moment about Lewis but that is 
another story. 

I never pass the British Museum and look up at 
the stone house where the keeper of the Prints lives 
without thinking of R. L. S. For that was the official 
residence of Sidney Colvin, his austere and lifelong 
friend. To him Vailima letters were addressed; he 
was closer than anybody to R. L. S. and in all the 
letters he never once addressed Mr. Colvin by his 
Christian name. 

No writer ever had such a faithful friend and 
admirer, or so competent a biographer. How neatly, 



272 Authors and I 

in this passage, S. C. places R. L. S.: "To attain 
the mastery of an elastic and harmonious English 
prose, in which trite and inanimate elements should 
have no place, and which should be supple to all 
uses and alive in all its joints and members, was 
an aim which he pursued with ungrudging, even 
with heroic, toil." 

And R. L. S. himself! Here is the real man the 
innermost of him. In a letter to Henley he is try 
ing to keep up his spirits with brave phrases: 
"Sursum Corda: 
"Heave ahead. 
"Here s luck. 
"Art and Blue Heaven. 
"April and God s Larks. 
"Green reeds and the sky-scattering river. 
"A stately music. 
"Enter God ! 

"Ay, but you know, until a man can write that 
Enter God he has made no art ! None !" 
The light begins to fade. I must leave the veranda, 
sweet with the purity of forests, where R. L. S. 
walked and said to his engine, "Come let us make 
a tale." When I told this to a practical American 
boy he answered, "But why does he say engine? 
That s silly." 

Yes, Stevenson was a writer s writer. We read 
him for the vivid phrase, the radiant thought; for 
the unexpected word which so often happens to be 
the right one. 



50. FRANCIS THOMPSON 

AND while I loitered I saw a small, green 
volume, and on the back of it were the words, 
"Modern Library, Complete Poems: Francis 
Thompson." 

It was a happy encounter, because I was going on 
a Hudson River steamer to Poughkeepsie. Why 
to Poughkeepsie? Because that thriving educa 
tional riverside town is mentioned, with respect, in 
that minor classic, "Washington Square," by Henry 
James. I had meant to reread "Washington 
Square" on the voyage. Francis Thompson took the 
place of "Washington Square." 
All my Francis Thompson books are 3000 miles 
away, and as he was pre-war, and pre-vers libre, he 
should have seemed remote and old-fashioned. It 
was not so. A river trip is the place for poetry, 
and as we swept up the lordly Hudson, Francis 
seemed to be speaking to me in his involved splendid 
language, so rich, so obscure, so simple when his 
emotion raced over his obsolescent Latinities, and 
drove him into the simplicity of "Love and the 
Child," "Dream Tryst," and that haunting poem 
which he calls "The Kingdom of God," with the 
motto, "In No Strange Land." This poem refers 
to the Thames; here was I on the Hudson. Can 
you wonder that I turned first to 
273 



274 Authors and I 

O world invisible, \ve view thee, 
O world intangible, we touch thee, 
O world unknowable, we know thee, 
Inapprehensible, we clutch thee! 

Does the fish soar to find the ocean, 
The eagle plunge to find the air 
That we ask of the stars in motion 
If they have rumour of thee there? 

Not where the wheeling systems darken, 
And our benumbed conceiving soars! 
The drift of pinions, would we hearken, 
Beats at our own clay-shuttered doors. 

The angels keep their ancient places; 
Turn but a stone, and start a wing! 
Tis ye, tis your estranged faces, 
That miss the many-splendoured thing. 

But (when so sad thou canst not sadder) 
Cry; and upon thy so sore loss 
Shall shine the traffic of Jacob s ladder, 
Pitched between Heaven and Charing Cross. 

Yea, in the night, my Soul, my daughter, 
Cry, clinging Heaven by the hems; 
And lo, Christ walking on the water 
Not of Gennesareth, but Thames! 

Occasionally, very occasionally, he played with his 
Muse, but for the most part he was her devoted, 
prone yet proud servant. Coventry Patmore was 
his master. Intellectually and emotionally he was 
a deeply religious man and absolutely sincere accord 
ing to his light and training. He kept a common 
place book; he bought these books at a cheap sta 
tioner s for a penny apiece; in them the whole of 



Francis Thompson 275 

his poetry was written, in upright, even calligraphy, 
a boyish handwriting, with hardly an alteration. He 
wrote much in bed through long mornings that 
sometimes extended through the afternoon. And he 
would write through the evenings, often with lead 
pencil, pacing up and down his dingy, disorderly 
bed-sitting room. His penny notebooks were tossed 
into a drawer where he kept his scant, his very scant 
wardrobe, and in one of these commonplace books 
he wrote this sentence which explains Francis 
Thompson : "To be the poet of the return to nature 
is much, but I would rather be the poet of the 
return to God." That was the life and purpose 
of this unworldly man, who lived in a world of 
his own with which he was well content. Comfort, 
cleanliness, order, provision for the future did not 
interest him. His life was lived in his dreams. There 
was little shock when he came out of them into the 
world because he ignored the world. 
People who had read his poems were disturbed 
when Francis Thompson was pointed out to them. 
"Thqf Francis Thompson!" they would say, gazing 
mournfully at the shabby, strange, emaciated figure, 
darting rather than walking through London streets, 
in mud-spattered, ancient clothes, with the fish 
basket in which he kept his review books slung over 
his shoulder, unconscious of rain or mire, oblivious 
to the jibes of street Arabs for his thoughts were 
elsewhere; he was seeing the world invisible, touch 
ing the world intangible, his eyes were shining on 
the traffic of Jacob s Ladder pitched between 
Heaven and Charing Cross. 



276 Authors and I 

It was unnecessary to pity him. He had the life he 
wanted. He was content to be relieved of the prob 
lem of paying his w r ay. For a long time, when I 
was editing the Academy,. I sent weekly to his land 
lady a modest check for his lodging and intermittent 
board, and doled him out a crown or a half crown 
when he troubled to call for the money. It was 
unwise to give him more. When he brought in to 
the Academy office the "Ode on Cecil Rhodes" many 
hours late ("I thought today was Wednesday" was 
his expected and accepted excuse), written on scraps 
of paper, he was handed three shillings, which won 
the retort, "Thank you. I shall certainly give my 
self a good dinner." These doles were not charity. 
Far from it. They were payment for magnificent 
literary w T ork. He would write interminable letters, 
interspersed with chaotic figures, trying to prove 
that there should be a balance of eighteen pence in 
his favour. Although indifferent to promises and the 
fulfillment of engagements, he never swerved from 
rectitude in his intellectual performances. Whether 
he was writing on Caesar or on Shelley, he always 
gave of his best, but his habit of bringing in his 
article the day after the paper was published dis 
turbed his editors. They never got used to it. 
This literary journalism he practised in his latter 
years when his muse had ceased to come at call. 
From first to last his "Father, Brother, Friend" 
was Wilfrid Meynell (see the poem to W. M.). 
He raised him from the gutter whither Francis 
had gone from choice to be free. For nineteen 
years he kept him, not easily, from a return to the 



Francis Thompson 277 

gutter and freedom. No poet ever had such a 
friend ; no poet ever had such a home as the home of 
the Meynell family. Certes, he was a difficult guest. 
He would arrive for dinner thinking it was lunch 
eon, and come prepared to dine at bedtime. He rare 
ly sat down; he would pace the room for two or 
three hours, following his own train of thought, and 
interjecting into the general conversation a passage 
explanatory of the point his thought had reached. 
Often it was about an overcoat that someone had 
stolen from him years before. He rarely talked 
poetry, but he would talk cricket with vigour and 
animation. Suddenly he would disappear without a 
good-night. 

He adored the children of the household. Many 
of the poems in this volume are inspired by and ad 
dressed to them. The second son, Everard Mey 
nell, has written his life, a remarkable biography, 
a rare combination of insight and narrative. The 
father, Wilfrid Meynell, made the poet s acquaint 
ance through Francis Thompson s "Essay on 
Shelley," one of the finest pieces of prose in the 
language. It was sent to him as editor of Merry 
England after it had been refused by the Dublin 
Reinew; the author gave an address at Charing 
Cross post office, but it was long before he could 
be found, as he was holding horses heads in the 
Strand. Twenty years later this "Essay on Shelley" 
was published with acclamation in the Dublin 
Rfi ini*. Francis Thompson had arrived, and Wil 
frid Meynell set himself to arrange a definite edition 
of the poems. 



278 Authors and I 

So on the way to Poughkeepsie I went sadly and 
gladly through the poems. I could remember the 
advent and environment of many of them. Perhaps 
the Middle West is not yet quite ready for Francis 
Thompson. Such words as corrival, chiton, levin, 
enhavocked, assuaries, are not easily digested; 
neither are such stanzas as: 

The abhorred spring of Dis, 
With seething presciences 

Affirm 
The preparate worm, 

nor 

Wise-Unto-Hell Ecclesiast 

Who siev dst life to the gritted last! 

But everyone can understand 

On Ararat there grew a vine; 
When Asia from her bathing rose, 

and 

Look for me in the nurseries of Heaven 

and 

Where is the land of Luthany, 
Where is the tract of Elenore? 
I am bound therefor. 

On the way to Poughkeepsie I chose a secluded 
spot to leeward and read aloud, three times over, 
to the bright air and the brighter waters that won 
derful poem, "The Hound of Heaven." That is 
the way to begin your study of Francis Thompson. 
Read this amazing poem aloud, again and again, ab- 



Francis Thompson 279 

sorb the splendour of it, and gradually the meaning 
will come to you. Then you will find that Master 
Eckhart said it all in seventeen words, "He who 
will escape Him only runs to his bosom, for all 
corners are open to him." 

So we came to Poughkeepsie on Hudson, but I 
was thinking of Charing Cross on Thames, and of 
those who find the many-splendoured thing. Fran 
cis Thompson did not have to find it, because he 
always had it, in spite of "the bur o the world." 



51. TOLSTOY 

WAS reading in a club when I heard a man 
-*- say, "I m going to write a play round Tolstoy." 
The name of Tolstoy aroused so many memories 
that I dropped the book and mused on a scroll of 
history. On one side of the scroll was the pa 
triarchal, bearded figure of Tolstoy for we who 
were brought up on Carlyle, Emerson, and Tolstoy 
always regarded him as venerable and bearded; on 
the other side of the scroll is present Russia. How 
does this great man stand today in Russia? How 
do the Bolsheviki regard Tolstoy? You may read in 
the "Reminiscences" of his son how Tolstoy was 
visited from time to time by certain "dark people," 
unkempt and unwashed, with whom he always 
argued warmly; you may read of certain nihilists 
who often appeared at Yasnaya Polyana, "and under 
my father s influence gave up terrorism altogether"; 
you may read that, during the siege of Sebastopol, 
Tolstoy proposed to the allies to avoid bloodshed by 
deciding the dispute with a game of chess. And 
you may have heard of the noble letter that Tolstoy 
wrote to the Tzar of Russia on the massacre of the 
Jews at Kishinev, which was a plea for paternal 
authority against state authority paternal author 
ity to which, in Tolstoy s words, men submit 
voluntarily, as the members of a family submit to 
280 



Tolstoy 281 

the senior members. The original draft of this 
letter from Tolstoy to the Tzar came, in the whirli 
gig of time, to New York and was sold by auction. 
I saw it, and handled it. 

Examining the thin, unemotional calligraphy of this 
letter, I recalled the accounts of the proof reading of 
"Anna Karenina," which Tolstoy described as "my 
tedious, vulgar Anna Karenina " ; how he would 
interwrite into the long galley proofs to such an 
extent that poor Countess Tolstoy had to sit up 
all night to copy the whole thing out afresh; how, 
in the morning, the new manuscript would be 
neatly piled up on the table in her fine, clear hand 
writing; how "my father would carry the sheets 
off to his study to have just one last look," and by 
evening it would be just as bad again; "the whole 
thing had been rewritten and messed up once more." 
It was Jane Walsh Carlyle, was it not, who said 
to a girl friend: "My dear, never marry a man 
of genius?" And it was the son, Count Ilya Tolstoy, 
who said: "Papa was the cleverest man in the 
world. He always knew everything. There was 
no being naughty with him." 

Then I took from the shelves Aylmer Maude s 
"Life of Tolstoy" and, turning to the Chronology, 
read some of the entries: 
1878 Writing "Confession." 
1881 Letter to Tzar. 
1883 Writing "What Do I Believe?" 
1885 Becomes a Vegetarian. 
1885 Renounces Hunting and Tobacco. 
1889 Finishes "The Kreutzer Sonata." 



282 Authors and I 

1891 Renounces Copyrights and Divides Property 

Among His Family. 

1893 Finishes "The Kingdom of God Is Within 

You." 

1898 Finishes "What Is Art?" 

1901 Excommuncation. 

1902 Finishes "What Is Religion?" 

1903 Letter to Tzar. 

1906 Seizure by Police of Many of Tolstoy s 
Works. 

1908 Jubilee in Honour of Tolstoy s Eightieth 
Birthday. 

Soon afterward followed his departure into the 
wilderness which has puzzled so many, but which 
Tolstoy, being Tolstoy and nobody else, was pre 
cisely what might have been presaged of him. Then 
I read the chapter about his difference, or quarrel, 
with Turgenef. Strange! And so there came into 
the ken of memory the little group of Russian intel 
lectuals, with Tolstoy at their head, who, we used 
to think, represented Russia. To us, they stood for 
Russia. Now we know, alas, that these intellectuals 
represented no more than 1 per cent. Perhaps not 

even that. 

* 

I wonder what the man will make of a play with 
Tolstoy as a subject. Is he not too great, too 
elusive, too spiritual? 



52. HUGH WALPOLE 

VJTTHEN I heard that Hugh Walpole was about 
to make his last public appearance in New 

York as a Lecturer before returning Home, I said, 

to myself, "You must be there!" 

Why? 

I am not an ardent admirer of Mr. Walpole s books. 

Perhaps they are not quite adult enough for me. 
Even "The Dark Forest," much liked, all about 
Russia and the war, failed to hold my attention. 
Halfway through I got lost, as most people do, who 
adventure actually, or imaginatively, into Russia; 
and I know not how "The Dark Forest" ends. 
Moreover, I do not like diaries or letters in novels. 
Their intrusion assumes that the author is not facing 
the music squarely; he is putting up another fellow 
to speak for him. 

Why, then, was I so eager to attend his last lec 
ture? 

You will remember how tired the Athenians became 
of hearing Aristidcs called The Just. I think the 
reason that I wanted to see Mr. Walpole upon the 
lecture platform was, not because I was tired of 
hearing him called Charming, but because I wanted 
to discover how it is done, how one gets the reputa 
tion for being Charming. He had been lecturing 
up and down America for months; advertisemcnti 
283 



284 Authors and I 

of his eleven books, in heavy type, with half a dozen 
lines of praise about each (don t be silly; I am not 
jealous) were displayed in the daily newspapers ; the 
chroniclers always wrote delightful things about his 
lectures, and at every dinner party I attend some 
nice young thing inevitably asks, "Oh, do tell me 
about Mr. Hugh Walpole." Then I begin: "His 
father is a bishop, he loves Cornwall, he is a 

bachelor, he writes " Even the young lions of 

the Chicago Daily Neu s fell to his charm. They 
like his "English accent"; they have determined 
that he is "an English writer who is at the same 
time a gentleman," and they admit that he shows 
"no air of condescension." In brief, he is a success 
in America, a great success, as man, lecturer, and 
writer; and as it is one of my gay duties to 
chronicle the success, or non-success, of English, 
Scottish, Irish, Canadian and Welsh lecturers, and 
writers in America I said to myself, firmly, when I 
saw his lecture announced, "You must be there." 
It so happened that on the day of the lecture a West 
erner, who is also a writer, was lunching with me. 
This Westerner is a one hundred per cent Ameri 
can (I have never heard of a one hundred per cent 
Englishman). His attitude toward the New Eng 
land authors, and to their English forbears, past 
and present, is one of genial patronage; but his 
crust of patronage is not able to conceal his in 
tense curiosity about the younger English writers. 
His questions were as many and as bewildering as 
the questions on "The Readers Guide" page of the 
New York Evening Post. Suddenly I asked him 



Hugh Walpole 285 

if he would like to accompany me to Hugh Wai- 
pole s lecture on "Creating a Novel." He accepted 
with ardour. 

Hugh Walpole was introduced by Owen Johnson. 
That was clever. They are a neat contrast. Mr. 
Walpole is a blond, with a fair complexion and 
a dimple. Mr. Johnson is a brunette, with a 
dark complexion, and the look of a man who has 
written "The Woman Gives." Mr. Johnson is 
also the son of an Ambassador, which is piquant in 
these days when the younger novelists rather over 
whelm their parents. In his introductory remarks 
Mr. Johnson ingeniously let the audience (it was 
large, and mainly ladies) understand that the author 
of "Fortitude," "The Secret City," and "The Green 
Mirror" is rather nicer than other novelist-lec 
turers of the English invasion. 
The Westerner and I sat in the second row of the 
stalls. He leaned forward on the back of the chair 
in front; not once did he take his eyes off the 
lecturer. I could see that he was impressed by 
something, but whether it was the manner or the 
matter of the author of "The Prelude to Aventure," 
I could not determine. 

Of one thing I am sure: Mr. Walpole is a charm 
ing lecturer. He knows just what to do, when to 
be softly serious, when to tell an amusing story, 
and when to smile mildly at himself and his en 
thusiasms. He was severe on the family genius, 
and told the delighted audience how he himself 
had been checked and subdued in his young days. 
"And here I am now," he might have added, "lee- 



286 Authors and I 

turing to a large and fashionable New York 
audience, with eleven books to my credit, and the 
wide, delightful world still before me." I turned 
to look at Mr. Owen Johnson, who had seated him 
self behind us in the third row. I tried to see if he 
was smiling, but the light was too dim. 
Air. Walpole s manner is as charming as his mat 
ter. He has the buoyancy, enthusiasm, and candour 
of Mr. Alfred Noyes. He and Mr. Noyes talk 
directly to the audience; they admit them to their 
confidence. They might be twin brothers. Mr. 
Walpole does not use notes. Ease and frankness 
are his adjectives, and confidence. He is not in the 
least aggressive; he just speaks on as if lecturing 
were a pleasant duty like tipping the club servants 
handsomely at Christmas, or playing for the game s 
sake, not for personal prowess, in a football match. 
His division of the modern novel into four classes, 
with appropriate comments, was neat and enter 
taining (1) the novel of Style (Stevenson, etc.); 
(2) the novel of Ideas (selling a birthright for "a 
pot of message") ; (3) the novel of Adventure and 
Incident (Dumas was idolised) ; (4) the novel of 
Character and Psychology (he pretended to tell us 
how he does it). The ladies laughed and ap 
plauded, but Mr. Owen Johnson, the Westerner, 
and I know too much. We were glum. The per 
oration was about Russia. He was there during the 
first year of the war with the Russian Red Cross, 
and returned later as a King s Messenger. With 
Russia came the serious note the great simplicity of 
the Moujik, the pity of it all. Then a pause, a 



Hugh Walpole 287 

repetition of Tolstoy s pet idea that the world will 
never become better until the individual improves; 
and then, click, the end. Loud applause. A re 
call. It was all beautifully done a finished per 
formance. 

The Westerner was silent as we walked away. 
Presently he said: "I didn t get much from the 
lecture itself. What fascinates me is his ease, his 
assurance, the idea that he is acceptable, that he 
can t go wrong. I suppose it s the tradition that 
envelops him. He walks in a protecting back 
ground. I seem to be striding along all alone 
in a raw light." 

"Don t worry," I said. "Each has his own, and 
each must grow up in it and use it. You have 
the prairie and the pioneers behind you. He is 
descended from Horace Walpole and Sir Robert 
Walpole; his father is the Bishop of Edinburgh; he 
was educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, 
and his recreation is music. The Mississippi is 
your alma mater, and your recreation is travelling, 
without luggage, in wild places. Don t worry." 
Later I called at a branch public library, and asked 
for any of Hugh Walpole s books. They were all 
out. So, being a Person of Decision, I entered a 
shop and bought his first "The Wooden Horse," and 
his latest, "Jeremy." 

"The Wocden Horse" did not interest me very 
much. But "Jeremy"! I delighted in it. I de 
light in it. It is the best book about a boy that I 
have ever read, not cnly Jeremy himself, but hi* 
environment, his people, his home life. It is told 



288 Authors and f 

to ripples of humour ; the characterisation is neat. 
The people are beautifully observed. Yes, a very 
charming book. His best book by a long way. 
In future, when I am asked what I know about 
Hugh Walpole, I shall answer: "He wrote 
Jeremy. " 



S3. MRS. HUMPHRY WARD 

BEING an Arnold in England is, I suppose, 
something like being a Lodge in America. 
Born into the Arnold family, granddaughter of the 
famous Dr. Arnold of Rugby, known to every 
reader of "Tom Brown s Schooldays"; niece of 
Matthew Arnold ; married to a Fellow and Tutor 
of Brasenose College, Oxford, Mrs. Humphry 
Ward lived in an atmosphere of culture, and in an 
environment of intellect, breeding, and high pur 
poses that the ordinary person reads about, but 
seldom experiences. 

She knew everybody of importance Scholars and 
Statesmen, Dukes and Debutantes, Ambassadors 
and Artists, Bishops, Poets, Novelists, Historians, 
and Politicians. 

From the best society in Oxford she passed to the 
best society in London when her husband, T. 
Humphry Ward, was appointed art critic of the 
Times and leader writer. 

Culture, breeding, and well-being mark her books, 
and was one reason for their immense popularity: 
it also marks her Literary Recollections wherein 
we move through a society in which high thinking, 
and meeting eminent people, is the routine of each 
day. Think of calling Matthew Arnold uncle; 
think of choosing nine books for Lord Acton s bed- 



290 Authors and I 

side when he visited the Wards at Stocks, their 
country house; think of hearing Mr. Gladstone say- 
in private conversation "There are still two things 
left for me to do. One is to carry Home Rule; 
the other is to prove the intimate connection between 
the Hebrew and Olympian revelations"; think of 
being in a railway carriage with Mr. Arthur Bal- 
four while he was reading Green s "Prolegomena 
to Ethics." 

To the large world Mrs. Humphry Ward was 
know r n as a most readable and most helpful novelist, 
with a fascinating power of depicting girls. Her 
young men, usually rising personages of good family 
and good looks, are not as convincing to males as 
are her young women. Mr. W. L. George in his 
division of British novelists into the neo-Victorian, 
the Edwardian, and the neo-Georgian groups does 
not mention Mrs. Ward. Personally, I prefer her 
books to those of Mr. W. L. George. Nothing 
Mr. George has written has affected me like "Hel- 
beck of Bannisdale" and "Eleanor." I do not pre 
tend to have read all Mrs. Ward s novels, for she 
was rather prolific, and her books do not permit 
themselves to be skipped; but all that I am 
acquainted with are on the side of right living, right 
thinking, and aspiration, and I find them a deal 
more consolatory and stimulating than many of 
the works by members of the neo-Victorian, the 
Edwardian, and the neo-Georgian schools. I 
imagine that Mrs. Ward would have been quite 
pleased and proud simply to be called a Victorian 
novelist, that is, one who is concerned with world 



Mrs. Humphry Jt ard 291 

movements rather than with local movements. Mr. 
W. L. George announces his recreation (see "Who s 
Who") as "Self-Advertisement." Mrs. Ward s 
recreation was (I knew her) Doing Good with an 
Air (the Arnold Air). 

It is many years since I read "Robert Elsmere," 
which was published in 1888, but I well remember 
the discussion it aroused and its popularity which 
was greater, I believe, in America than in England. 
More than 500,000 copies were sold in the United 
States. It was selling well before Mr. Gladstone s 
famous review in the Nineteenth Century, but it 
was that review that hastened the pace and made 
"Robert Elsmere" the best seller of the day. It 
was begun in 1885, the writing of it took nearly 
three years, and when it was finished in March, 
1887, writes Mrs. Ward, "I came out from my 
tiny writing room, shaken with tears, and wonder 
ing, as I sat alone on the floor, by the fire, in the 
front room, what life would be like, now that the 
book was done." 

That was quite the right way to behave in Victorian 
times, and the right answer to the tears was, of 
course, to write more novels. This the author 
proceeded to do, and to remove in time from Russell 
Square to Grosvenor Place, facing the gardens of 
Buckingham Palace, and from Haslemere, which 
was becoming quite suburban, to Stocks, a beautiful 
little estate near Tring in Hertfordshine. 
"Robert Elsmere," which Oliver Wendell Holmes 
said was "the most effective and popular novel we 
have had since Uncle Tom s Cabin/" was not 



292 Authors and I 

Mrs. Ward s first book. It was preceded by "Milly 
and Oily," 1881, a story for children that "wrote 
itself," a translation of Amiel s "Journal," 1885, 
and "Miss Bretherton," 1886. Before that there 
was hard intellectual preparation for her chosen 
career of letters with a leaning toward exegesis, 
not as arduous and thorough a preparation as that 
of George Eliot, but a preparation, in each case, 
for a life of plain living and high thinking, and in 
each case the writing of fiction sprang uneasily but 
inevitably from severer studies. To each fiction 
eventually revealed itself as the right method of 
self-expression. 

Among the future novelist s intellectual preparations 
were several articles on early Spanish Kings and 
Bishops, and on the origins of modern Spain; a 
pamphlet on "Unbelief and Sin"; magazine papers, 
articles for the Times, and the translation of 
Amiel s Journal Intime; then "Miss Bretherton," 
suggested by the brilliant success in 1883 of Mary 
Anderson, and so to "Robert Elsmere." 
Her philanthropic efforts alone would be sufficient 
for most lives. She created, and was the guiding 
power of the Passmore Edwards Settlement: she 
founded the Invalid Children s School; she made 
time to help in any movement for the Public Wel 
fare. 

A full life, a life crowded with effort and interest, 
a life that any woman of intellect and vision would 
delight to live. And in it three unique episodes. 
She called the magnificent Matthew Arnold Uncle 



Mrs. Humphry Ward 293 

Matt, she was reviewed by Gladstone, and she sat 
in the City of London as a Woman Magistrate. 
Happily she saw the end of the Great War, in 
which and for which she worked so splendidly with 
pen and tongue. The name of Arnold, through 
her, has gained fresh lustre. 



54. WILLIAM WATSON 

I HAVE known many poets. They are a touchy 
lot, and to remain on friendly terms it is neces 
sary to control one s conduct carefully. I seem to 
remember two or three occasions when high and 
hasty words swept between Sir William Watson 
and myself. (He was created a knight in 1917. 
Richly he deserved it, and I must proffer him his 
title once ; but he is, and always will be to me plain 
William Watson, Yorkshireman and Poet.) 
What were our spasmodic quarrels about? Ques 
tions of the day the Boer War, vivisection, and so 
on. He feels things deeply, has strong views; but 
he is also magnanimous and quick to forgive and to 
forget. Once I remember he abruptly left a dinner 
table because I had rattled out something obnoxious 
to him (he is a strong anti-vivisectionist). He 
strode from the room erect and stiff, and I played 
with my food, sorry and angry, trying to look 
unconcerned. In three minutes he returned, still 
erect and stiff, but with his strong, mobile face 
(full eyes and square jaw) suffused with a com 
panionable smile "Such old friends," he said, in his 
quick, sententious way, "must not quarrel over an 
opinion," and his hand shot out. 
Magnanimous, courteous, touchy, forgiving, with a 
vast capacity for indignation and scorn, the foe of 
294 



William Watson 295 

slippery thinking, and slipshod writing, something 
of a lonely figure, belonging to no clique or school, 
communing, I am sure, in his long, lonely walks 
through the Yorkshire dales, with the writers with 
whom he is most in sympathy say Samuel Johnson, 
John Milton, and Wordsworth such is William 
Watson. 

If poetry were the natural vehicle of expression for 
mankind, and if newspapers were written in verse, 
William Watson would be the first editorial writer 
in the land. He watches events with eagle eye, 
bruised heart, and impassioned pen. He might have 
been Poet Laureate years ago if if he were a 
courtier. That is just what he is not. Righteous 
anger inspires his sonnets. We may agree or dis 
agree with his belligerent literary activities, alwa>s 
expressed in polished classical language; we may 
have sympathy or antipathy for the folk or cause 
he chastises or cherishes, but we never doubt his 
integrity. He sets himself to write in verse, for 
verse is his natural expression, and in my opinion it 
is, alas, when he is in his leading article mood 
that his poetry is the least attractive. He delights 
to honour his friends in verse. Sometimes, as in 
the case of the address to Richard Holt Hutton, the 
result is memorable: 

And not uncrowned with honors ran 

My days, and not without a boast shall end! 

For I was Shakespeare s countryman 
And were not thou my friend? 

In some the.c is something pedestrian as in the 
beginning of the poem to H. D. Trail!: 



296 Authors and I 

Traill, tis a twelve months space and more 
Since feet of mine have sought your door. . . . 

Yet how apt he is. Here is the second stanza of 
his poem to Austin Dobson: 

Of wilder birth this muse of mine, 
Hill-cradled, and baptised with brine; 
And tis for her a sweet despair 
To watch that courtly step and air! 

And how apt are his epigrams. There are pages 
of them, each has its point, twist and lilt, and, when 
necessary, its lordly procession of words as in "After 
Reading Tamburlaine the Great": 

Your Marlowe s page I close, my Shakespeare s ope; 
How welcome after gong and cymbal s din 
The continuity, the long slow slope 
And vast curves of the gradual violin! 

But his full flight is in the odes and elegies. "What 
magnificent rhetoric there is in the "Hymn to the 
Sea." How full and rolling it is! I have read it 
aloud to two or three people. Not one of them 
has been able to catch at any definite meaning, and 
vet I have left them murmuring such sonorous lines 



Now while the vernal impulsion makes lyrical all that 

hath language, 
While, through the veins of the Earth, riots the ichor of 

spring. . . . 

His tribute to Wordsworth, perhaps the most 
esteemed of his poems, draws nearer to the average 
heart. What could be truer or finer than the fol 
lowing stanzas essential William Watson: 



William H at son 297 

Not Milton s keen, translunar music thine; 

Not Shakespeare s cloudless, boundless human view, 
Not Shelley s flush of rose on peaks divine; 

Nor yet the wizard twilight Coleridge knew. 

What hadst thou that could make so large amends 
For all thou hadst not and thy peers possessed, 

Motion and fire, swift means to radiant ends? 
Thou hadst, for weary feet, the gift of rest. 

From Shelley s dazzling glow or thunderous haze, 
From Byron s tempest-anger, tempest-mirth, 

Men turned to thee and found not blast and blaze, 
Tumult of tottering heavens, but peace on earth. 

It will be observed that he is a reflective poet; that 
he fashions his numbers with extreme care ; that he 
is dignified, and a studious walker in the older 
ways; that he has no patience with free verse, and 
no love for the free and easy jolt of, say, Kipling s 
"Barrack Room Ballads," and a horror at the liber 
ties certain American writers (including, I am sure, 
baseball reporters, and the artists of the comic 
pages) take with the English tongue. 
He is ever loyal to Johnson and Milton: his latest 
poem, "The Super-human Antagonists," six hundred 
lines of rhymed decasyllabic verse, is, as the Times 
says, "rhetorical with a rhetoric that he seems to 
have learned very thoroughly from all the great 
poetic rhetoricians of the past." His rhetoric is 
intentional. Happy accidents, gushes of emotion, 
the things that dazzle and move us in Browning are 
not for him. He weighs his theme, shapes it, 
polishes it, and conducts it through courses of 
onerous rhetoric of which he is proud, and which 



298 Authors and I 

is the chief asset of his expression. He has written 
an essay in which he pauses "to rescue this word 
rhetoric from the evil habit into which it has latterly- 
fallen by no innate fault of its own. . . . The 
simple truth is that there is a tinsel rhetoric and 
there is a golden rhetoric." 

William Watson s rhetoric is golden. He knows it. 
We know it. The point is not arguable. It is 
settled. His poetry and prose show it. 
His prose! 

All good poets write good prose, all except Swin 
burne. Cast over in your mind a few modern names 
Matthew Arnold, Francis Thompson, W. B. 
Yeats, Lawrence Binyon, Henry Newbolt, Arthur 
Symons, Lionel Johnson, Richard Le Gallienne. 
W T illiam Watson s admirable prose, balanced, 
sweeping, rhythmic, would, cut cunningly into un 
equal lengths, make excellent Free Verse. I hope no 
one will do it. The sonnet of indignation the poet 
would compose would be terrible. Let his small 
book of prose called "Pencraft" remain as it is, a 
perfect example of the welding of matter and man 
ner, a definite statement by a trained writer of the 
aims and ideals of his craft, the apologia of one who 
stands almost alone, rooted in older conditions, 
obedient but not subservient to the masters of a 
former day, and receiving with distrust, and scorn, 
so courteous that none can take offence, the wild 
and whirring prose experiments of the present day. 
Were I asked to suggest a textbook of literature for 
high schools, or even for colleges, I would unhesitat 
ingly recommend "Pencraft." There is no better 



William Watson 299 

introduction to the continuity, the austerity and 
the majesty of Letters. 

One does not associate William Watson with 
humour. Sarcasm, yes; irony, yes; disdain, yes; the 
look and the cut of contempt, yes (see "The 
Woman with the Serpent s Tongue") ; but until 
I read his imaginary interview with Dr. Johnson, 
printed in his book of essays called "Excursions in 
Criticisms," with the amiable sub-title, "Bein^ 
Some Prose Recreations of a Rhymer," I did not 
realise that he possessed a recondite humour not 
unworthy of the learned Doctor himself. This 
interview is entirely delightful and entirely wise. 
Dr. Johnson on Rossetti is what my American 
friends would call "a scream"; and as for Dr. 
Johnson on Matthew Arnold what could be better 
than this? "I lament that there is much in his 
verse that is alien to my apprehension much that 
reflects, apparently, a mental world of which I have 
no private report." 

But Sir William Watson is a poet. Perhaps he 
will not thank me for extolling him as a proseman, 
so I will end with the opening stanza of his poem 
called "The Unknown God," which has been beat 
ing in my heart ever since I first read it years ago 

When, overarched by gorgeous night, 
I wave my trivial self away; 
When all I was to all men s sight 
Shares the erasure of the day; 
Then do I cast my cumbering load, 
Then do I gain a sense of God. 



D 



55. H. G. WELLS 

EAR H. G.! Although I have known him 

since 1894 I have never heard his intimates 

call him anything but H. G. Even his wife ad- 
dresses him so. 

Dear H. G.! I made his acquaintance oddly. 
Harry Gust, Editor of the Pall Mall Gazette, 
when he was not involved in a crisis would encour 
age me to be amusing. One day I said to him, 
want a new friend, please." A few hours later an 
office boy came to my room (I was then Editor c 
the Pall Mall Budget and said, "Mr. Gust s com 
pliments and eve got a new friend for yer, sir. 
I hastened to Mr. Gust s apartment (it was more 
than a room) and there, a little figure, hunched up 
on a magnificent Maple couch was H. G. Wells. 
He smiled. I smiled. His overcoat was not 
Poole s, but his face was like an electrified note of 
interrogation, questioning and absorbing everything. 
He was then writing Wellsian articles for the 
Pall Mall Gazette, and there was in them that 
which prompted me one day to suggest 
should write stories for the Pall Mall Budget. 
He was game; he was always game; and thos 
amazing tales "the jolly art of making something 
very bright and moving," to quote his own words 
(we called them "Single Sitting Stories") came 
300 



H. G. Wells 301 

into the office at the rate of two a week, in copper 
plate handwriting with the regularity of a pendu 
lum. So H. G. began his career as a writer of 
fiction. I touched the button only, or as he neatly, 
puts it in the introduction to "The Country of the 
Blind": "Mr. Lewis Hind s (it s the first time he 
ever addressed me as Mr.) indicating finger had 
shown me an amusing possibility of the mind." 
His unresting, exploring mind, so curious and com 
bative, is very orderly. So are his habits metic 
ulously so. His imaginative schemes, like his house 
keeping books, are tabulated and arranged with the 
precision of an accountant. He once showed me 
a fixture of pigeonholes in his study: he indicated 
the contents of three of these pigeonholes: they con 
tained the manuscripts of his next three books, 
neatly typewritten by Mrs. Wells, each labelled with 
the year in which it was to appear. H. G. discarded 
the literary agent some time ago: he is his own 
agent, and a good one, surely. Portions, if not all 
of the text of "Mr. Britling," "Joan and Peter," and 
"The Undying Fire," appeared serially in high-class 
weekly publications in England and America, the 
editors of which would be aghast at the mere sug 
gestion of publishing an ordinary novel. 
H. G. Wells is a complex man of letters, with a 
strong natural scientific and socialistic bias. He is 
a fine teller of tales imaginative, inventive, socio 
logical, humorous, appalling, technical; he is also 
an educationist and an inquirer into what people call 
the mystery of things. The war turned his agile 
mind, and burdened heart, into a consideration of 



302 Authors and I 

the Whence, the Why, and the Whither! He is 
pursuing the quest with characteristic pertinacity, 
and possibly after many years of heroic intellectual 
strenuosity he may reach the point which he might 
easily have reached at his mother s knee. 
I sent "Mr. Britlmg Sees It Through" to a major 
in the British Army. He read it in the intervals 
of hard fighting, and he wrote me fourteen pages 
about "Mr. Britling." They were highly compli 
mentary, with one exception. Mr. Britling, you 
will remember, comes to the conclusion at the end 
of the book that we must carry on and "do our 
best." The major, who is a spiritual man, resented 
this, and urged, at some length and with rare elo 
quence, that we must do more than "our best" : we 
must do "God s best." I sent this lay sermon to H. 
G. Wells. He replied by quoting the title of his next 
two books, not then published, "God the Invisible 
King," and "The Soul of a Bishop." The Major, 
I believe, has read them; but he has not yet in 
formed me that he is satisfied. 
I, who have followed his imaginative and intellec 
tual career from the beginning, who have known 
him, and had long walks and talks with him, find no 
confusion, only development, in the record of his 
agile mind expressed in his books. He is a seeker. 
His thought is always on the wing: it does not 
rest. Most minds, as the years go by, recline into 
apathy and resent change and the new thing. The 
mind of H. G. Wells is always alert, more so 
today than ever. There is much of Mr. Britling 
in him, but he is tougher than Mr. B., and he has 



//. G. Wells 303 

learnt to drive a motor car better. Mr. Britling is 
a portion of himself, and the externals of that 
moving record of the hideous impact of the war on 
a sensitive nature are drawn, in large measure, from 
the happy life he leads at Dunmow in Essex. 
Visitors ask themselves when he does his work, for 
he always seems to have time for pianola playing, 
for games with his children, such wonderful games, 
for dancing in the barn, for hockey on Sunday after 
noon and for talks that explore and leap and run. 
At stated times of the day he disappears. Then, 
I suppose, he does his work, but, however intense 
his absorption in it may be, he casts care away when 
he rejoins his guests. Those eyes, grey-blue and 
watchful, small and searching, miss nothing, and 
he docs not husband his thoughts, for they are so 
many, and they strike out, quick and illuminating, 
on the anvil of any topic that is started. 
The Pall Mall Gazette and Budget gave him his 
start: W. E. Henley published "The Time Ma 
chine" in the New Review*; and the Saturday Re 
view and Nature were only too glad to print his 
critical and technical articles. He had studied at 
the Royal College of Science, and was by this time 
a B.Sc. Not a bad beginning for a youth who 
had no advantages. His father was a professional 
cricketer, and this world-famous man still keeps, 
framed in the place of honour in his study, a 
cricket card showing the prowess of Papa Wells 
with the cricket ball. 

The days of the Saturday Review and Nature 
articles passed. H. G. was now merging into a 



304 Authors and I 

novelist. "The Wonderful Visit," "The Island of 
Dr. Moreau" and "The Wheels of Chance" fol 
lowed. The rest you know. 

His eager mind is now deep in the problems of 
reconstruction, self-determination, the rights and 
the wrongs of small nations and so on. But his 
imagination still plays. He is no pedant. He has 
vission. He may like the following story, not as 
imaginary as it may seem: 

An Irish American and an English Englishman 
were talking. Said the Irish American, "I suppose 
if the League of Nations had been properly drawn 
the English would restore Gibraltar to Spain." 
The English Englishman looked glum. Suddenly 
his face lightened. "Why not? And of course, 
America would give back New York to the Eng 
lish." 

It was the Irish American s turn to look glum. 
Then he smiled and said "And the English would 
restore New York to the Dutch, and the Dutch 
would give it back to the Indians." 
"Surely," said the English Englishman, "but that 
wouldn t be the end. There were aboriginal inhab 
itants; there must have been in remote antiquity 
a first aboriginal, the very first man to walk Man 
hattan. Suppose, by some miracle, his descendants 
could be traced, even that would not. end our 
altruistic inquiry. This first man would be a mere 
dot in the wonder of eartn and sky, of rivers that 
race to the sea, of springtime, of the sun and the 
night sky. It would be only logical to restore these 
wonders to their original owner." 



H. G. Wells 305 

"Yes?" said the Irish American. 
"New York," murmured the English Englishman, 
"would have to be restored to God. Which is pre 
cisely what the faithful want to do." 
To look through a list of the books by H. G. Wells 
is to be filled with amazement and pride. To each 
his choice: to one "Kips," to another, "Tony Bun- 
gay," to another "Mr. Britling Sees It Through." 
I cannot make any choice, but as I sit here I recall 
with profound admiration Section 15, of Chapter 
XIII, of "Joan and Peter," where the wounded 
Flying Man seeks, and finds the Lord God. 
How sane is this Flying Man s delirium! 
How inexhaustible is the mind of H. G. ! 
He has travelled far. On the last page of "Joan 
and Peter" there is this 

There was a light upon his life, and the truth was 
that he could not discover the source of the light 
nor define its nature; there was a presence in the 
world about him that made all life worth while, 
and yet it was nameless and incomprehensible. It 
was the essence beyond reality; it was the heart of 
all things. . . . 

Yes, he has travelled far. He is still travelling. 
And perhaps, with his "Outline of History," he has 
inaugurated a real system of education. 



56. EDITH WHARTON 

I WONDER what Mrs. Wharton thinks of 
O. Henry; and if there are still people in Eng 
land who picture America from the people and 
scenes in Mrs. Wharton s books. 
When I first read "The Greater Inclination," I 
unconsciously accepted the stage direction of a New 
port drawing-room in "The Twilight of the Gods," 
as characteristic of America and the way they go 
on there. Here it is: 

"A Newport drawing-room. Tapestries, flowers, 
bric-a-brac. Through the windows, a geranium- 
edged lawn, the cliffs and the sea. Isabel Warland 
sits reading. Lucius Warland enters in flannels and 
a yachting cap." 

Also I pictured New York as the scene of the 
Gildermere ball in "A Cup of Cold Water," at the 
close of which, you remember, Woburn is disturbed 
because the drowsy footman handed him "a ready- 
made overcoat with an imitation astrachan collar 
in place of his own unimpeachable Poole gar 
ment." 

Similarly in an earlier decade "nice" America, and 
that was the only America that it was my duty to 
know anything about, was enshrined within the 
covers of W. D. Howells charming novels. As for 
Washington I accepted with pleasure the present- 
306 



Edith Wharion 307 

mcnt by Mrs. Burnett in "Through One Adminis 
tration." Novels of manners and of place have 
much to answer for. When I visit Kentucky I am 
sure that I shall not have the vivid impressions of 
the Blue Grass State that I derive from James Lane 
Allen and John Fox, Jr. 

"Are you an admirer of Mrs. Wharton?" I asked 
an Intelligent Woman. 

"Admirer? I was brought up on her. In my first 
season I was always watching for the exquisite, 
social calamities that she describes. It s my opinion 
they don t really happen. Life isn t nearly as subtle 
as novelists pretend." 

"Which is your favourite among her stories?" 
She picked a cherry from the bowl and reflected 
while she nibbled it. "It s odd," she said, "but I 
can t remember any of her books, neither the plots 
nor the characters oh, yes, there was Lily Bart 
in The House of Mirth. I was terribly sorry for 
Lily. There are lots of Lilys about. Only a 
woman could have drawn her." 
"How about Ethan Frome ?" I asked. 
She shook her curls. "One can t read everything. 
But I liked Summer. If you want me to say 
something definite about Mrs. Wharton I shouldn t 
wonder if she wasn t better when she is dealing with 
people a bit lower socially than the Newport and 
Long Island lot." 
"Did you ever meet her?" 

"Once, at a luncheon party. Henry James was 
there, I remember, and my neighbour, a young dip 
lomat, bored me with explaining just how far 



308 Authors and I 

Edith Wharton derived from Henry James. In 
my opinion she beats him: she has more red blood. 
The diplomat said one clever thing it wasn t orig 
inal, I think he fathered it on Henry James that 
Mrs. Wharton showed the masculine conclusion 
tending to crown the feminine observation. " 
"What is Mrs. Wharton like?" 
"Oh, that luncheon party was a long time ago, but 
I remember I decided that she was just like what 
I expected she would be browny hair, exquisitely 
dressed, a finished manner, and an air, oh, you 
know the kind of air that glides about European 
letters and art, and looks startled when anyone 
mentions America/ 

I knew what this dear lady meant, for I had just 
been trying to read Edith Wharton s "Italian Back 
grounds," and found progression through the pages 
difficult. It is the kind of culture, excessive cul 
ture, that drives me to O. Henry or at any rate to 
Kipling. On the first page I found this: "To pass 
from the region of the obviously picturesque the 
country contrived, it would seem, for the delectation 
of the cceur a poesie facile to that sophisticated 
landscape where, etc., etc." 

I prefer a deeper bite in travel literature, more 
directness and surprises, such as we find in Borrow, 
Stevenson, Kipling, Belloc, and Gissing. But it 
would be unfair to judge Edith Wharton by such 
culture books as this, or "Italian Villas" or "The 
Decoration of Houses," or her slim volume of var 
nished verse. 



Edith Wharion 309 

Think you we slept within the Delphic bower, 
What time our victim sought Apollo s grace? 
Nay, drawn into ourselves, in that deep place 
Where good and evil meet, we bode our hour. 

Travels in Italy or France evoke her preciosity: 
she cannot help being a stylist when writing of 
buildings or nature: it is a human problem that 
brings out the distinction of this subtle writer. Dur 
ing a score of years or so I can look back on a dozen 
short stories by Edith Wharton that have given me 
immense intellectual and aesthetic pleasure. And 
as -or her long novels, those who have not read 
"T- e House of Mirth," "The Fruit of the Tree," 
and The Reef" have a great pleasure in store; but 
the rt ider must make up his mind to be entertained 
by "1; dies and gentlemen," not by "men and 
women." As Mr. Francis Hackett observes, Mrs. 
Wharton s characters are not the kind of people 
with whom you share crackerjack in a day coach. 
And yet I should not be surprised if her best work 
was not "Ethan Frome," a New England story 
dealing with lowly people, folk who never have a 
servant to wait upon them and who always get their 
own morning tea. "Ethan Frome" has an intensity, 
a pathos, and sympathy, frigid if you will, but sus 
tained and penetrating. 

With the breaking out of war, Edith Wharton 
threw herself into war work, and as the struggle 
continued she wrote little sad stories about soldiers. 
One was called "The Marne"; and she also pro 
duced an amusing and suggestive little book called 
"French Ways and Their Meaning." These did 



3io Authors and I 

not rouse me to enthusiasm; in the press of other 
avocations, the work of Edith Wharton had slipped 
out of my consideration. 

Suddenly it was recalled to me violently. I opened 
a paper one day and read that E. V. Lucas had 
expressed to an interviewer in San Francisco his 
astonishment and annoyance that he could not buy 
Edith Wharton s books in the West. "She is your 
greatest woman writer," he said, "and it seems 
extraordinary to me that I could find none of her 
books on sale in the West." 

This interested me, as when I left London in 1917, 
Lucas, for a year and more, had been reading and 
praising O. Henry, and it seemed odd that a man 
should be able to enjoy, with enthusiasm, such dis 
parate temperaments as Edith Wharton and O. 
Henry Newport and Broadway. 
Having decided to write on Edith Wharton, and 
having only one of her books, "The Reef," I went 
to a branch public library and borrowed seventeen; 
also three volumes containing essays on her work 
by Hackett, Underwood, and Follett. 
Then I invited Lucas to luncheon and waved his 
attention to the couch on which reposed seventeen 
books by Edith Wharton and three about her. 
Lucas is not a talkative man ; he looked them over, 
smiled his grim smile and said, "You take your 
work seriously." 
"So do you," I answered. 

"I want to read Ethan Frome, " he muttered, as 
if somebody had been hindering him from doing 
so. 



Edith W \iarton 311 

I offered it to him. He shook his head. "I want 
it on board ship. There s no time to read any 
thing in America." 

"Tell me," I said, "how can you who adore 
O. Henry also adore Edith Wharton? She deals 
mainly with the smart life which you always try to 
avoid, and succeed in avoiding." 
"I like her irony," he mumbled. 
When he had gone it struck me that he might 
have said : "You adore Memlinc and Matisse, why 
shouldn t I adore Edith Wharton and O. Henry?" 
If he had been a girl, I suppose that I should have 
taken a copy of "Ethan Frome" to the steamer. 



57. WALT WHITMAN 

THE centenary of the birth of Walt Whitman 
on May 31, 1919, turned thought to him who 
cried, "The Modem Man I Sing." 
For a week I was dipping, diving, and plunging into 
the 430 pages of "Leaves of Grass," that ocean 
of rushing, soaring observations announcing the 
awakening spirit of America, proclaiming her first 
great poet, soil of her soil, strong as a mountain, 
sure of his mission, sure of himself, sure of the 
reproductive power of the rough songs he sang, their 
tumultuous beauty, their rugged eloquence, with 
scraps of tenderness lighting catalogues of words, 
himself the centre of all, yet conscious all the while 
of something within himself untouched. 

. . . Before all my arrogant poems the real Me stands 

yet untouched, untold, 
Withdrawn far, mocking me with mock-congratulatory 

signs and bows, 
With peals of distant ironical laughter at every word I 

have written. 

To us in London in the late eighties there were 
three Americans who aroused our awakening liter 
ary minds to enthusiasm Poe, Bret Harte, and 
Walt Whitman. (Emerson came later and stayed 
longest.) Poe opened to us the macabre in prose, 
and in poetry the art and craft of melody. Bret 
312 



Walt Whitman 313 

Hartc revealed to us a new corner of life, pic 
turesque, riotous, pathetic, amusing, but it was only 
a part of the whole. Walt Whitman showed us the 
whole, expounded that vast, voracious America 
3,000 miles away. Here was a new poet, a new 
way of song, a new country, a new man speaking to 
each one of us. 

My songs cease, I abandon them, 

From behind the screen where I hid I advance personally 

solely to you, 

Camerado, this is no book, 
Who touches this touches a man. 

We read "Salut au Monde" ("What do you 
hear, Walt Whitman," he asks, "what do you see, 
Walt Whitman?"). We realised that he had 
thrown rhyme and scansion to the winds; that his 
Pegasus took the bit between her teeth and did what 
she willed; that form and tradition were meaning 
less terms to him. What did it matter? He sang 
of a new land, in a new way. He sang the love of 
comrades, one brotherhood throughout the wide 
world. 

My spirit has pass d in compassion and determination 

around the whole earth, 
I have looked for equals and lovers and found them 

ready for me in all lands, 
I think some divine rapport has equalised me with them. 

We read "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking" ; 
we read the Lincoln poems; we read the "Song of 
the Open Road." With the generosity of youth we 
acclaimed Walt Whitman everywhere, "O America, 



314 Authors and I 

because you build for manhood I build for you." 
Has it not been said of him that he gave America 
to the world ? We made Free Verse after his man 
ner; Free Verse with its "long, undulant swell and 
fall," its unmetrical rhythmic cadences; we learned 
of his greetings, "Howdy," and "So long"; of his 
broad-brimmed hat, his blue flannel shirt, his home 
spun trousers tucked into knee-high boots; we 
learned of his services in the war as nurse and com 
forter to soldiers, and how he had said that those 
four years, 1861 to 1865, made it possible for him 
to write "Leaves of Grass." 

Not youth pertains to me 

Not delicatesse I cannot beguile the time with talk; 
Awkward in the parlour, neither a dancer nor elegant, 
In the learn d coterie sitting constraint and still for 

learning inures not to me; 
Beauty, knowledge, inure not to me yet, there are two or 

three things inure to me, 
I have nourished the wounded, and sooth d many a dying 

soldier, 

And at intervals, waiting, or in the midst of camp, 
Composed these songs. 

This buccaneer of song became a part of us. We 
hailed him as America s great poet. And while his 
fame broadened in England we learned with sur 
prise that America was not taking kindly to her 
lusty son. Even Emerson, almost enthusaistic at 
first, tempered his admiration. The elder poets, 
the elder critics, and the cultured public did not 
take easily to Walt. He was too Waltish: his 
methods were too un-European, and as for his sub 
jects, why they were everyday affairs. And his 



Walt Whitman 315 

frankness and roughness! Longfellow and Tenny 
son were poets, "Excelsior" and "Enoch Arden" 
were poetry, but this amazing and uncouth, voluble 
savage, what was he? 

I loafe and invite my soul, 

I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer 
grass. 

Clear the way there, Jonathan! 

I love to look on the Stars and Stripes, I hop* the fifes 
will play Yankee Doodle. 

Poetry? No sir! We in America know what poets 
are. William Cullen Bryant is a poet. 
Thirty years have passed, and during the centenary 
week America was engaged in a literary drive in 
honour of Walt Whitman. A school of poets has 
arisen who call him Master. Walt Whitman has 
come into his kingdom. I pick up Louis Unter- 
meyer s "The New Era in American Poetry," and 
read that Walt Whitman is the great precipitant 
and liberator of emotions that have been too long 
stifled, and that for the first time (owing to Whit 
man s pioneer work) a great part of American 
letters is actually American. Whitman set the 
American poet free. 

Come, Muse, migrate from Greece and Ionia, 

Cross out, please, those immensely overpaid accounts; 

That matter of Troy and Achilles wrath, and /Eneas 

and Odysseus wanderings. 
Placard, "Removed" and "To Let" on the rocks of your 

snowy Parnassus . . . 
For now a better, fresher, busier sphere; a wider untried 

domain awaits and demands you. 



316 Authors and I 

But my joy in this new fierce freedom does not 
mean any lessening of my joy, in the milder freedom 
of the past. I am not a Futurist, I am a citizen 
of the dear old world, so proud of it, so gratefftl 
to it, that I can quite easily smile at Mr. Van Wyck 
Brooks gibe at the New England group " our 
Poets were commonly six in number, kindly, grey- 
bearded, or otherwise grizzled old men. One recalls 
a prevailing six, with variations. Sometimes a ven 
erable historian was included, a novelist or so, and 
even Bayard Taylor. Nothing could make one feel 
so like a prodigal son as to look at that picture." 
Emerson illuminates, Whittier and Longfellow 
soothe and charm, but Walt Whitman startles. 
You hear the ring of his axe on the tree: you 
realise that the good grey poet is a fighter ; you hear 
him cry to the New England group: 

What to such as you anyhow such a poet as I ? therefore, 

leave my works, 
And go lull yourself with what you can understand, and 

with piano tunes, 
For I lull nobody, and you will never understand me. 

But we do understand him. Even 

Silent and amazed even when a little boy, 

I remember I heard the preacher every Sunday put God 

in his statements, 
As contending against some being or influence. 

Also 

Roaming in thought over the Universe, I saw the little 
that is Good steadily hastening toward immortality 

And the vast that is called Evil I saw hastening to merge 
itself and become lost and dead. 



Walt Whitman 317 

And if with memories of "I Stood Tiptoe upon a 
Little Hill" or "Tears, Idle Tears," or "Stone 
Walls Do Not a Prison Make" in your head, you 
declare that Walt Whitman is not a poet, please 
call him a Prophet or better still a Man. Then 
read "Good-bye, my Fancy!" and be very glad for 
Walt. 

Good-bye, ray Fancy! 

Farewell, dear mate, dear Love! 

If we go anywhere we ll go together (yes, we ll remain 

one), 
Maybe we ll be better off and blither, and learn some* 

thing, 
Maybe it is yourself now really ushering me to the true 

songs (who knows?) 
Maybe it is you the mortal knot really undoing, turning 

so now finally 
Good-bye and hail! my Fancy! 

In England as well as in America the thoughts of 
many on May 31, 1919, dwelt on Walt Whitman, 
who sang of Freedom in a New World, and found 
his subjects around him, what eyes saw, what heart 
felt, what head reasoned. He sang of things here, 
not there. He was himself. 

And, as a last word, Emerson looms up. What a 
man he was! Re-read his "American Scholar" and 
remember that this American literary Declaration 
of Independence was delivered in 1838, seventeen 
years before the issue of "Leaves of Grass." Walt 
must have read it, and Walt alone knows how much 
he pot from that wonder-man and poet-sage Ralph 
Waldo Emerson. 



58. W. B. YEATS 

POETS do not always look like poets. William 
Butler Yeats does. He also acts like a poet, 
that is, like a real poet, which he is. New acquaint 
ances think he poses. That is not my opinion. A 
poseur is sometimes caught unaware. You never 
catch the author of "The Wanderings of Oisin," 
1889 (his first), and "The Wild Swans at Coole," 
1919 (one of his latest), unaware. He looks like 
an apostle of the Celtic glamour compromising with 
civilisation; he appears to be dwelling in the Celtic 
twilight; to me it has always seemed that his resi 
dence in London is temporary, that he has in his 
pocket a return ticket to Innisfree. 
He is no hennit. I have met him half a hundred 
times, and on each occasion I have been quite aware 
of the implicit understanding between us that he 
knows he is a poet, and he knows that I am an 
ordinary person. He does not complain. I do not 
complain. These are facts. He always looks 
exactly the same: he always wears a blue serge suit, 
with a flowing black tie, and he always, at stated 
intervals, tosses his long, straight hair away from his 
eyes. And he always, when I address him, looks 
surprised and remote; he frames his answer care 
fully, and speaks as if he were addressing somebody 
who is not I, but might be. I like looking at him. 



W. B. Yeats 319 

He is that rare combination a good poet, a good 
prose writer, and good to look upon. That is, if 
you like looking at poets. Sometimes I think that I 
have not been talking to him at all, that while I 
have been drawing him out, he has been drawing in, 
drawing away invisibly to some forlorn Celtic cabin, 
there to increase the sea with his tears, and the wan 
dering wind with his sighs. Maybe I want to talk 
to him about cricket, or national extravagance, or 
the difference between J. M. Synge and George R. 
Sims, It is little good. He affects to listen but 
he is really in the land east of the sun and west of 
the moon where the Irish poetess lived who wrote: 

The kinc of my father they are straying from their keep 
ing, 

The young goat s at mischief, yet nothing can I do, 
For all through the night I heard the Banshee keening, 

youth of my loving, and is it well with you? 

Yet with it all W. B. Yeats is practical. He has 
the wisdom of the mystic. 

1 met him first at a small dinner party. He sat 
sideways. That is all I remember of the occasion. 
I recall nothing of his talk. I remember only the 
attitude of his body, legs crossed, parallel to the 
table, and his right shoulder in the place of honour. 
Nobody seemed to mind or to think it strange. I 
had a kind of idea that he wanted to show that, 
although he had left Ireland, he was not at home 
with the Saxon. I rather liked him for it. 
Really, I do not think he is aware that he sometimes 
acts in an un-British way. Once at a public dinner 



320 Authors and I 

he delivered an impassioned speech. No English 
man ever delivers an impassioned speech: it is bad 
form. But that was not all. As he spoke he 
roamed up and down the room like a wild animal 
in a cage. When he finished he was far from his 
seat. I am sure he was more surprised than any 
body else. 

On another occasion, after a literary gathering, he 
invited a poet and myself to return to his rooms and 
hear his newest poem. At that time he was living 
in a gaunt house off the Euston Road, the kind of 
house that E. A. Poe might have chosen as the scene 
of a story. Yeats* rooms were up several flights, 
and it pleased me to find that they were Spartan in 
their bareness. Perhaps now that Ireland is pros 
perous he may have become luxurious. I hope not. 
In the centre of the room was a long deal table 
littered with manuscripts and books. Before this 
table he knelt, and by the light of a guttering candle 
he read, or rather intoned "The Countess Kathleen" 
(I think that was the work). Did he read it all? 
Probably. He read on and on, and believe me his 
tumbled hair and pale face illumined by the gutter 
ing candle made an effect that newspaper writers 
call Rembrandtish. He was indifferent to us: he 
did not see that the other poet had fallen fast asleep. 
Time sped ; he read on, until somewhere in the small 
hours I caught my courage, roused the other poet 
from his slumbers, and said, "Awfully sorry, but 
we must be going." Our host, I remember, did 
carry the candle to the top of the stairs to light us 
down. Then he returned to his poem, for as we 



W. B. Yeats 321 

creaked down to the street door I heard him 
declaiming fine verse to our empty chairs. "Yeats 
is a good poet," said my companion, permitting a 
yawn, "but he has no sense of time." 
His poems sing. They are dream poems, melan 
choly, mournful. Many of them have that exquisite 
simplicity which Anatole France calls the highest 
form of literary art, thus: 

How many loved your moments of glad grace, 
And loved your beauty with love false or true; 
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you, 
And loved the sorrows of your changing face. 

His prose has also the beauty of simplicity. His 
thought may be wilful, his unceasing lament that 
the world should be what it is may become tedious; 
his suggestion that the interests of mankind are 
unimportant compared with the yearning dreams of 
the Irish peasant may arouse ire, but nothing can 
hurt the grave and simple beauty of his style. It 
flows on, welling up from hidden waters. 
When I read Yeats "Ideas of Good and Evil," I 
wonder if it is really the same language as that used 
by the young gentlemen who write the stories in 
the Saturday Evening Post. And when I dip into 
Yeats edition of William Blake, I wonder if Blake 
and Yeats and Kipling and O. Henry come from 
the same stock. It is curious to turn from a reading 
of "Barrack Room Ballads" to this impersonal, 
poetic aristocrat of letters, this seer of the twilight, 
this "singer of pearl pale fingers and dove-grey sea 
boards," 



322 Authors and I 

Yet one of his poems has had almost as great a 
success as Russell s "Cheer, Boys, Cheer." Such 
things do happen. The poem is "The Lake Isle of 
Innisfree." No living poet has had such unasked, 
unsought praise for one poem as William Butler 
Yeats had from Robert Louis Stevenson. Note that 
the letter is addressed to "Dear Sir," an infrequent 
custom with Stevenson. It shows how strong must 
have been his impulse to write to a stranger: 

"To W. B. Yeats, 

"Vailima, Samoa, April 14, 1894. 
"Dear Sir: Long since when I was a boy I 
remember the emotions with which I repeated Swin 
burne s poems and ballads. Some ten years ago, a 
similar spell was cast upon me by Meredith s Lovt 
in a Valley ; the stanzas beginning, When her 
mother tends her haunted me, and I remember 
waking with them all the echoes about Heyeres. It 
may interest you to hear that I have a third time 
fallen in slavery: this is to your poem called The 
Lake Isle of Innisfree. It is so quaint and airy, 
simple, artful, and eloquent to the heart but I seek 
words in vain. Enough that always, night and day, 
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds on the 
shore, and am, yours gratefully, 

"ROBERT Louis STEVENSON." 

Now I am going to give myself the pleasure of copy 
ing out "The Lake Isle of Innisfree" : 

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree, 

And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made; 



W. B. Yeats 323 

Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honey 

bee, 
And live alone in the bee-loud glade. 

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes drop 
ping slow, 

Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the 
cricket sings; 

There midnight s all a-glimmer, and noon a purple glow 

And evening full of the linnets wings. 

I will arise and go now, for always night and day 
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore; 
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey, 
I hear it in the deep heart s core. 

In his latest book of poems, "The Wild Swans at 
Coole," the Celtic sadness of Mr. Yeats becomes so 
shadowy sad that his readers can almost believe that 
his muse will drop into silence, that his wild swans 
of verse have made their last flight. Perhaps the 
theatre is wooing him from the harp. Certainly the 
theatre stimulates him. At the performances of the 
Irish plays at the Court Theatre he was quite ani 
mated, and on one of these occasions he addressed 
me, to my astonishment, with marked friendliness, 
as if I were an Irish playwright or poet. 
I am told that he is still meditating a theatrical 
penetration of America. Mr. Belasco need not be 
anxious. The Yeats theatre has no scenery only 
a back cloth and a silken curtain. There is no 
making up: the actors and actresses wear masks. 
And there is no stage. The performances will take 
place in drawing-rooms. A hostess telephones, and 
the company arrives. They will present the drama 



324 Authors and I 

of intimacy: they will convey fine verse, and plots 
sad and moving, humorous and pathetic. I hope 
they will perform Yeats own poetic dramas, and 
Synge, and Lady Gregory, and the others who stress 
the Celtic wistfulness and humour. I look forward, 
with eager anticipation, to the Yeats drawing-room 
drama, and I am sure that I shall not fall asleep 
as I did at "Mecca." 



59. MY FIRST BOOK 

TIDYING up, sorting old papers, emptying 
drawers, preparing for the new year, I came 
upon some reviews of My First Book. I sighed, 
and smiled. When published it seemed so impor 
tant: now well, at any rate, it taught me some 
thing and it astonished my mother. "What," she 
cried, "the little boy whose hair I used to smooth 
an author!" 

Do you remember that Jerome K. Jerome, when 
editing To Day, persuaded a group of authors each 
to write an article called "My First Book"? I 
believe every writer of eminence, whom he ap 
proached, allowed himself to be caught in the 
Jerome net. Who can resist writing about "My 
First Book"? 

I am doing it. I am looking at My First Book, set 
forth, title and date, in perdurable print in "Who s 
Who." It was called "The Enchanted Stone." 
No, I am not giving it publicity. It cannot be 
advertised. It has been REMAINDERED. 
I wonder if the general public knows the meaning 
of the word "remaindered" in publishing circles. 
It signifies that the book has been discarded, given 
up as a bad job. Suppose the edition is 1,000 
copies, that 150 sell in the first six months, and that 
a year later the 200 mark has not been passed. The 
3*5 



326 Authors and I 

publisher, if he be hard-hearted and business-like, 
will "remainder" the 800 remaining copies to an 
agent for a few pennies a copy. The agent will 
ship them to Australia, to South Africa, to the 
Treaty ports, to Brooklyn, to New Jersey, to any 
place that is eager for wholesome literature at an 
absurd price. There they are tumbled into bar 
gain boxes. It is a fine way for an author to become 
known throughout the English-speaking world: it 
may bring tardy fame, but it is not a good way of 
earning a living. Not long ago I bought a copy 
of My First Book from a ten-cent box in lower 
New York. It was promptly borrowed by a rich 
friend. And about the same time a stranger wrote 
to me from New Zealand (evidently he had been 
browsing in the "tuppenny box") asking if I really 
meant what I said on page something or other. 
He forgot to inclose the postage for a reply. "Re 
mainder" authors have their troubles, but they do 
not have to worry over income tax forms. 
When I dream about My First Book, and realise 
that even now it is still being read somewhere in the 
wide world (it has yet to descend into the five-cent 
box), I do wish that I had made it better. But 
could I ? I think not. I did it as well as ever 
I could. It cannot have been shockingly bad because 
in 1901 a German wrote to me from Bonn asking 
if he might translate it into German, and desiring 
the names of any other books I had written. The 
Germans are a strange people. I did not correspond 
with the Bonn enthusiast but his 1901 inquiry about 
"any other books" prompts me to say to myself, 



My First Book 327 

here and now, from the wisdom altitude of the year 
1920 "Why did you write this book this First 
Book?" 

To all such questions Dr. Johnson has given the 
model answer. "Sheer ignorance, madam," he 
replied, when a lady asked him why, in his Diction 
ary, he had ascribed the pastern to the wrong part 
of the horse. "Why did I write and publish that 
First Book? Sheer vanity, reader." 
At the time I pretended that I was expressing my 
self, and incidentally adding to the world s interest, 
pleasure, and uplift. It was really business push. 
I had chosen the career of writing, I had prepared 
for it, I must deliver the goods, I must publish a 
book. Everybody was doing it, that is, everybody 
I admired. Kipling and Stevenson were startling 
the town ; Barrie had worked his way to London 
and was becoming a marked man ; H. G. Wells 
was showing his mettle in "The Time Machine"; 
F. Anstey was selling by the thousand, Hugh Con- 
way by the hundred thousand; editors were com 
peting for "Anthony Hope," "John Oliver Hobbes," 
and W. W. Jacobs; and Hall Caine was dating his 
letters from a castle in the Isle of Man. 
My admirations, you perceive, were all in the imag 
inative zone. I felt no call toward anything else, 
and having informed my parents a few years before 
that I was about to commence author, it never 
occurred to me that my imagination could fail when 
I bade it start imagining. It did not fail me. It 
was willing to invent at breakneck speed. On the 
quality of the invention I am mute. 



328 Authors and I 

So having determined to write a Romance, yes, a 
Romance, I began to note down all the romantic 
and adventurous things that had happened to me in 
thought and in deed ; and as I tabulated scene after 
scene, and episode after episode, a kind of story 
gradually evolved; and labelled abstractions and 
oddities, which I called characters, began to clamour 
for names which I proceeded to pick from the Post 
Office Directory. 

Now, of course, I see that my method was all wrong 
from the very beginning. The characters should 
come first, and their development should determine 
events. This I could not do. I was not interested 
in men and woman: I was interested in ideas, not, 
alas, as they might affect the world, but as they did 
affect me. This is a sad confession, but I was 
rather young, and so self-confident that nothing 
could deter me from trying to write just the kind 
of Romance that I wanted to write. 
What was it about? I will not trouble you with 
the plot. I will only say that I had been reading 
tvith absorbing interest Max Miiller s "Six Systems 
of Indian Philosophy"; that I was interested in 
astronomy and metallurgy; that I had actually 
imagined some of the properties of radium before 
that odd metal had been discovered ; that I had 
dabbled in Cornish Methodism, in Stone Circles, 
and in the effects of light at certain recorded 
instants of the world s history. I was also ac 
quainted with Wilkie Collins "Moonstone," and 
was familiar with certain phases of journalistic life 
in London. The hero of my Romance was a 



My First Book 329 

young newspaper man. He alone could weld the 
disparate elements of the plot together. He did it 
with charm, and with an ease that now amazes and 
amuses me. I was careful to make him my opposite 
in every particular: he may stand as an example of, 
at that time, the kind of person I should like to 
have been. 

With incredible labour, writing and re-writing, 
deleting and destroying, pruning, and adding, I 
completed this farrago of romanticism in a year. 
It began artfully, brusquely, thus "As a reporter 
I was conscientious." I make one claim for the 
story. There was not a superfluous word in it, and 
when the editor of "The Yellow Book, published 
a chapter, complete in itself, as a short story," I felt 
that my face was set toward Olympus. 
I have read somewhere that authors occasionally 
have difficulty in finding a publisher for a first book. 
I had none. Here is the unvarnished tale. I 
belonged to a literary and arts club where publishers 
and authors, painters and patrons, tried to treat 
each other as human beings. One evening I enticed 
a nice publisher into a corner, and gave him an 
animated description of my Romance. He tried not 
to be interested: in the small hours he succun^Bed, 
and said, "Send it along. I ll see what I can do." 
His reader reported favourably, and when we next 
met he made a proposition, which I declined. 
Just think of it. I declined an offer from an 
eminent publisher to publish My First Book. 
The reason was that, in the interim, something quite 
extraordinary had happened. I had shown a dupli- 



330 Authors and I 

cate typewritten copy of the Romance to a friend, 
W. Earl Hodgson, who was also a publishers 
reader. He took it home with him, and the very 
next morning sent me, by special messenger, a 
letter which made me feel that I was actually on 
the slopes of Olympus. He was enthusiastic about 
"The Enchanted Stone"; he was proud to have 
"discovered" me, and he begged me to call, that 
very afternoon, upon Messrs. A. and C. Black, the 
famous publishers. "I read for them," he added, 
"and they are grateful to me for introducing you to 
them." 

Messrs. A. and C. Black could not have treated 
the author of "Waverley" more pleasantly. They 
offered me quite a handsome sum on account of 
royalties, and sent the manuscript to be printed at 
once. For four or five years the notion that I was 
a catch lingered with that admirable firm. When 
ever I called with the MSS. of a new book under 
my arm the senior Partner smiled a welcome, and 
the junior Partner sent immediately for the binder 
so that I might choose the cover decorations. 
My First Book was beautifully reviewed. Two 
morning paper gave it "Published today" column 
notices; three weekly papers were more than kind; 
and the provincial press were most gratifying. One 
journal said that Stevenson would have to look to 
his laurels, another remarked that I should "go 
far." 

But the hard world did not show the least desire 
to read "The Enchanted Stone." It fell quite flat. 
Nobody wanted it. Occasionally some nice man or 



My First Book 331 

woman would tell me at evening parties how much 
they had enjoyed reading it, but when I addressed 
questions to them I found that they had not pe 
rused it carefully. For two years Messrs. A. and C. 
Black sent me regularly a carefully audited state 
ment of copies "sold," and copies "on hand." In 
time they tired of doing that. The figures in the 
"copies on hand" and "copies sold" columns never 
changed. 

Then came the Remainder Man. I shall never 
write another Romance. 

But it is pleasant to think that, perhaps, at this very 
moment, in some remote district of the world, the 
horny hand of toil is picking it out of the Penny 
Box, and saying, "Ullol This looks a bit of 
all right." 



60. MY LATEST BOOK: THIS ONE 

THERE are authors who write books because, 
so they say, they must write or perish. I am 
not of that kind. Before I was fifty years of age 
writing \vas a task. There w r ere so many more 
enjoyable ways of living than sitting at a desk. 
Talking, as a means of self-expression, was easier 
and pleasanter. Before fifty the only kind of writ 
ing I enjoyed doing was the little "Things Seen" 
which I turned out with ease, and which, I suspect, 
was the complete expression of what talent I pos 
sessed. Some other authors are like this, but all 
do not confess to it. Most writers, like myself, 
are born into the world equipped with a nice little 
pot of fresh butter. We use it up lavishly in the 
hot years of youth ; but there is always a little left, 
and we spend the remainder of our lives spreading 
the butter thinner and thinner. 
After I had passed the adorable age of fifty I made 
the discovery that I was beginning to enjoy writing. 
It became less of a task. I had discovered the 
proper pen, the proper kind of paper, and the 
proper way of sitting at a table, sideways, with 
the right arm resting on a big, blue blotting pad 
(blue is the proper colour), and the light falling 
over the left shoulder, so that one can look out of 
the window at the birds, and the sky, between the 
332 



My Latest Book: This One 333 

paragraphs. Also after fifty, I began to be more 
interested in shaping an article, and in saying things, 
not because they were the things I ought to say, 
but because they were the things I wanted to say 
at the moment. They might be foolish, they might 
be wise, but they were mine. In a word I lost the 
menace of fear. I began to enjoy being obliged to 
finish a literary job by a certain date; and I dis 
covered that whereas before fifty my articles or 
essays were always short, just long enough to con 
vince an editor that I was treating him squarely, 
after fifty I fell into the way of writing more than 
was needed. Perhaps my thoughts came quicker; 
perhaps I was less tempted to be out and about in 
the adventurous world, more inclined to sit at a 
desk: perhaps I began to realise that spiritual adven 
tures are quite as enjoyable as material ones. 
Neither before fifty nor since have I wanted to 
startle or astound the world with a momentous 
book. That is not in my line. But since fifty I 
have entirely enjoyed doing my bit in a modest cor 
ner of the writing world, and have been vastly 
amused, as I have already said, to find that I was 
acquiring the habit of exceeding my space. This 
vice, or this virtue, whichever you like to call 
it, was the cause of the present book "Authors 
and I." 

It happened in this way. 

In the early spring of 1917 Mr. John Lane asked 
me to write a brief introduction to a new illus 
trated edition of "Christ in Hades" by Stephen 
Phillips, the reason of the offer being that in 1898, 



334 Authors and I 

when I was Editor of the Academy, we had 
"crowned" his "Poems" containing "Christ in 
Hades" and awarded Stephen Phillips one hundred 
guineas. So I was supposed to know something 
about him. 

That was a pleasant literary enterprise, and I set 
about it eagerly. Soon I found that my post-fifty 
habit of writing more than I need had become 
chronic and vehement, and that the brief Introduc 
tion was shaping into the skeleton of a literary 
history of the nineties so far as that history con 
cerned myself. I am no British Museum student: 
nothing has happened unless it has happened to 
me. 

When I found that my brief Introduction was 
getting out of hand I explained the situation to 
Mr. John Lane. He replied: "Go ahead!" I 
went ahead, with the result that, when the book 
was published, amused flaneurs remarked that the 
Introduction was sixty pages and the Poem twenty- 
five. 

Any School of Jourualism would tell a pupil that 
to write sixty pages when ten only are required is 
bad business. So it is. But sometimes generosity 
has a way of winning hands down over business 
principles. Here follows an example. 
When I came to America in 1917, Mr. Frederick 
Dixon, Editor of the Christian Science Moni 
tor spoke to me appreciatively of that Introduc 
tion. Indeed, he said that he had enjoyed it im 
mensely, and that, like Oliver, he wanted more. 
Being an Editor he could command more. We 



My Latest Book: This One 335 

talked, and there and then it was arranged that I 
should contribute to the Christian Science Moni 
tor a weekly article under the heading "A Book 
man s Memories." The series began with general 
recollections of the writers who flourished in the 
nineties (many are still flourishing), but soon the 
articles fell to considering particular authors: hence 
the title now chosen "Authors and I," which hap 
pens to be the best descriptive title I can invent, as 
"Art and I" was the obvious title of another book 
xvhich has evolved from the columns of the Chris 
tian Science Monitor, and the sympathy of its 
Editor. The I, if it looks like an attitude, is also 
apt. The two books are, for better or worse, just 
my reactions to certain authors, and to certain 
phases of art. 

I do not suppose that "Authors and I" could have 
been written week by week, without missing one 
Tuesday from March 12, 1919, to the present 
moment, had it not been for the admirable Public 
Library system of America. Three thousand miles 
away from my own books, I found, first at West- 
port, Connecticut, and then at the 58th Street 
Branch of the New York Public Library, that when 
I needed books I had only to explain my wants to 
the young lady in charge to have all the works of 
the author, chosen for the week, placed at my dis 
posal. Sometimes in 58th Street it must have 
looked as if I was about to open a second hand book 
shop. How delightful it was, by my own radiator, 
to linger evening after evening over an author, and 
to be at him again long before the morning paper 



336 duthors and I 

arrived. This was my harvest. I gathered it in 
joyfully, without labour, for the seeds had been 
sown in the seven arduous years during which it 
was my privilege to be Editor of the Academy. 
So this book came into being: so the various writers 
with whom I lived, in spirit, week by week, com 
posed themselves into this, my latest book 
"Authors and I." 

Those chosen are my own choice, and the musings 
are merely mine. It was Dryden who said "An 
author has the choice of his own thoughts." 

NEW YORK, AUTUMN, 1920. 



THE END 



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