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THE LIBRARY 

OF 

THE UNIVERSITY 
OF CALIFORNIA 

LOS ANGELES 



IMPEESSIONS AND COMMENTS 



BY THE SAME AUTHOR. 

IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS : FIRST 
SERIES. 

THE NEW SPIRIT. 
AFFIRMATIONS. 

THE TASK OF SOCIAL HYGIENE. 
THE PHILOSOPHY OF CONFLICT. 
THE SOUL OF SPAIN. 
THE WORLD OF DREAMS. 
STUDIES IN THE PSYCHOLOGY OF SEX. 
ETC. 



IMPRESSIONS 



AND 



COMMENTS 

SECOND SERIES 
1914-1920 

BY 

HAVELOCK ELLIS 



LONDON 

CONSTABLE AND COMPANY LTD. 
1921 



College 
Library 

&c 



IMPKESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

January 5, 1914. I see that Professor Saville 
of the Archaeological Department of Columbia 
University recently found that among the 
early inhabitants of Ecuador, some hundred 
thousand years ago, carious teeth were bored 
and filled with gold and cement, loose teeth 
also being held together by gold bands, all con- 
trived to show as little as possible ; dentistry, 
in short, in its aims and methods, was already 
on much the same level as among us. 

We imagine that the refinements of luxury 
are the achievements of our modern times, 
the cheerful signs of our exalted Civilisation 
or the damning proofs of our increasing De- 
generation. But, with all our effort, we hardly 
reach back to any stage of Human History 
or Pre-history when the same state of things 
call it Civilisation or Degeneration was not 
flourishing in the same degree, and even in 
the same forms. 

B 



1053GG5 



2 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

So it was that even in the romantic days 
of the semi-barbarous Elizabethan age, as we 
choose to suppose it, the end of dinner was 

announced by 

... a silver basin 

Full of rose-water and bestrewed with flowers. 

And that in the classic days that fell more than 
a thousand years earlier Athenaeus brought 
together such a vast collection of refined 
luxuries to his marvellous Banquet ; and that 
long before Homer the men of Crete constructed 
their sanitary conveniences on exactly the same 
principles which it is the boast of modern 
hygiene to devise, while the costumes of their 
women, whose portraits were first lately re- 
vealed, evoked the surprised comment, " But 
they are Parisians ! " And now, in an age too 
far back to measure by human records, long 
before the traditional date of the creation of 
the World, we find men and women going to 
the dentist's to have their teeth stopped with 
gold. 

We see here what Gourmont has called, 
perhaps a little pompously, " the Law of 
Intellectual Constancy," according to which 
there has always been the same amount of 
intellect in the world. You may put your 
Golden Age at the beginning of human history 



" HOMO OMNIVORAX " 3 

or at the end. In either case you will be 
justified. 



January 15. Ortvay appears to have shown 
that, not only the whole of prehistoric research, 
but the very constitution of our teeth and our 
stomach, show that Man is an All-eater, Homo 
omnivorax. 

This completely agrees with the view that 
has always seemed to me most reasonable. It 
is also the only view consistent with a high 
position of Man in the animal and spiritual 
world. No being could achieve physical and 
spiritual success who was not able to eat all 
things eatable. The highest evolution of 
organic complexity, the widest intellectual 
comprehension, the most versatile aesthetic 
sensibility, are inextricably bound up with 
that fact. 

Loria, the distinguished Italian economist, 
who has ably and comprehensively discussed 
the synthesis of income, reaches a definite 
conclusion : in the past all forms of coercive 
association in the constitution of income have 
been exhausted, and now there only remains 
to adopt free association. It is not otherwise 
in the income of the organic body. The income 



4 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

of the body is not placed on a sound founda- 
tion until, with the coming of Man on earth, 
the basic natural fact of free association was 
recognised in the selection and combination 
of the elements of food. It is Man's part to 
exercise a fine economy of choice in an in- 
exhaustible wealth of choice. 

Those human people who wish to lay down 
arbitrary taboos on eating and drinking for 
the benefit of other people are always fair 
game. And have in some countries been eaten. 



February 11. There is no moment when I 
feel more at home in England, more English, 
and more proud of being so, than when I note 
the outbreak of that most quintessential English 
quality, the love of individual liberty. In other 
more or less allied countries, in the United 
States, in France, in Belgium, there is, or there 
has been under some aspect at some period, a 
jealous appreciation of the rights of the indi- 
vidual, so long as he observed the elementary 
rules of law and order, to his own liberty of 
action even when that liberty ran counter to 
the notions of the mob. But at the present 
day there is no country where so fierce and 
sensitive a resentment guards the attacks on 



ENGLISH LOVE OF FREEDOM 5 

this liberty. See, in spite of all subtle en- 
croachments, the freedom which we give to 
prostitutes in our streets, and the welcome 
which notwithstanding our own arbitrary 
arrogance in India or in Egypt we still accord 
to the political exiles of other lands. Or 
consider those South African strike-leaders 
deported back to our shores under martial law. 
One may admire the gentle vigour, the iron 
hand in the silk glove, which marked that 
action, and admit that possibly it was justified, 
but one enjoys the true British rage which 
greets that deportation. 

I know how this feeling has become centred 
in England, a net in the sea to catch all the 
wild and restless free men whom their own 
countries irked or their own countries cast out. 
It is no special virtue ; I know how it came 
about, but I share it. 

So it pleases me to see how the prim moralist 
and the enterprising policeman are forced to 
adopt all the shiftiest tricks of their respective 
crafts so they may avoid offending that pro- 
found instinct of the Englishman. Let them 
but offend, let them but seem to offend, by 
deviating a hair's breadth from their shifty 
path, and I rejoice to see the righteous ferocity 
of the Englishman flare up as he seizes the 



6 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

offender by the throat and flings him into the 
gutter. 



February 12. I have just seen Parsifal on 
its first introduction to England at Covent 
Garden, and I am impelled to compare this 
new impression of the opera with my early 
impression, some twenty years ago, at Baireuth. 
On the whole the new experience fails to bring 
the satisfaction and joy of the earlier experi- 
ence. I ask myself why that is so. Is it my 
feeling for Parsifal that has changed ? Or is 
it a matter of environment ? I assume at 
the outset that no experience can ever be 
repeated, and that one can " never bathe 
twice in the same stream." 

Certainly the environment counts for much. 
Baireuth was a shrine of art towards which 
converged processions of pilgrims from many 
lands. The Temple on the hillside and all 
its attendant circumstances were calculated, 
in a degree unparalleled in the modern world, 
to evoke an inspiring enthusiasm of art. And 
everything there was pioneering, even the 
austere simplicity of the stage scenery, even 
the solemn shifting of that scenery before our 
eyes, a delicious revelation of the frank accept- 



"PARSIFAL" IN LONDON 7 

ance of an artificial convention. Co vent Garden 
also has its own charm of convention. I seldom 
enter it without a thrill of delight at its antique, 
ascetic, eighteenth-century air. But a sacred 
temple of art, that one could no more call it 
than one could a very different building, the 
Opera in Paris. It is just a music hall, like 
any other, only a little more fashionable, where 
people go to digest their dinners by listening 
to music which lulls them with its agreeable 
familiarity. And in so far as the audience 
to-night was not of that type, and certainly to 
a large extent it was not, one received a painful 
shock. These people were not pilgrims to a 
shrine of art, but they had come to church ! 
There were smug young curates bringing their 
frail old mothers and doubtless seeking in- 
spiration for next Sunday's sermon. And there 
was no applause ! It was solemnly hushed 
down. These people had forgotten, if they 
ever knew, that when Wagner arrived for the 
first performance of Parsifal he brought with 
him in the carriage a large barrel of lager beer. 
This environment has itself an inevitable 
reaction on one's feeling towards the opera. I 
begin to look at Parsifal in a new light, not as 
a work of art, but as a pastiche of religious 
notions which are still alive. I feel that I am 



8 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

asked to take the Grail scene as an Anglican 
Communion, Kundry as a Mary Magdalene, 
and Parsifal himself as a reincarnation of Jesus. 
Parsifal no longer seems the superb echo of 
the romance of the early Christian world, but 
merely an attempt to revive the waning zeal of 
Little Bethel. 



February 16. I sometimes wonder whether 
every civilisation may not tend to accelerate 
its own destruction by developing among its 
members an undue rapidity of nervous reaction, 
and at the same time by its skill in mechanical 
invention to make it possible for that unduly 
swift nervous reaction to exercise a still more 
unduly swift influence on the conduct of affairs. 
In all conduct of affairs and the more so 
with the growth of civilisation, for that involves 
increased complexity nothing is so necessary 
as prolonged time for reflection. Whatever, 
therefore, tends to lessen undue speed of nervous 
reaction, whatever tends to increase the diffi- 
culty of translating nervous reaction into 
practical action, so that reflection may achieve 
its perfect work, will make for the good of the 
world. How many people realise this? One 
asks the question when one sees the popular 



THE TENDENCY OF CIVILISATION 9 

applause which greets all the efforts of human 
ingenuity which make for the reverse end. 

We are told of Lord Lyons, an extremely 
able and very characteristically English diplo- 
matist, whose prudence averted more than one 
war, that the only credit he ever took to himself 
was that he had " resisted the temptation 4 to 
do something,' which always besets one when 
one is anxious about a matter." Can we 
claim that the nervous tension we now cultivate 
and the ideals of mere speed which we have set 
before us in the mechanism of life are calcu- 
latecTto aid us in resisting that temptation ? 



February 22. It often strikes me how 
different reading is when one has garnered in 
the greater part of life's experiences from what 
it was when one was still at the seed-time of 
life. When one is very young, to read is as it 
were to pour a continuous stream of water on 
a parched and virginal plain. The soil seems 
to have an endless capacity to drink up the 
stream, sometimes with prolonged perpetual 
rapture, sometimes with impartial calm in- 
difference, endlessly, unpausingly, with never a 
disturbing echo. 

But when one is no longer young, to read is 



10 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

a -very different matter. The parched plain 
has become a luxuriant forest with lakes and 
streams in the midst of it. Every image which 
enters it evokes ancient visions from the depth 
of its waters, and every tone rustles among 
the trees with a music so rich in haunting 
memories that one grows faint beneath their 
burden. 

So now, when I open a book, it often enough 
happens that I lay it down, satisfied, on the 
page at which I opened. 



March 16. People may be divided into 
two classes : the people who like to drink the 
dregs of their cup, and the people whose 
instinctive preference it is to leave the dregs. 
This is a distinction which cuts deep into the 
moral life. The people of the first class are 
usually counted the more interesting, and 
necessarily they are able to extract more out 
of life, more pain, and possibly more pleasure, 
though one may question the quality of the 
extract. 

Personally I am more in sympathy with 
those who belong to the other class. I have 
no wish to be in at the death of anything, and 
though it is true I have followed the Blatant 



IN FLORENCE 11 

Beast to his captivity, I would usually prefer 
to leave a beautiful book unfinished ; I have 
never finished Dante's Divina Commedia, nor 
yet that human comedy, Casanova's Memoir es. 
Even when the restaurant band was playing, 
just now, a piece I like, I came out, by choice, 
before the end, even near the beginning, and 
find my pleasure thereby heightened. It is 
only so that we gain the possession of unending 
things. A man of this type, we may be sure, 
invented that legend of the monk who was 
called away to matins or evensong at the 
moment when a vision of the Virgin was vouch- 
safed to him. And, lo ! the vision was still 
there when he returned to his cell. 



March 31. I wandered through the Palazzo 
Davanzati, delighted with the picture it presents 
of a reconstituted fourteenth -century Floren- 
tine house, as we may please to imagine to 
ourselves that its mediaeval inhabitants were 
accustomed to have it, even with the bed- 
clothes still on the beds and the wine still 
in the glasses on the table. It was almost 
deserted, but for a few English, and with a 
group of them in a farther room the attendant 
was absorbed in the task of earning a few 



X- 



12 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

supererogatory soldi. In the large hall was a 
young Englishman with his old mother. The 
Englishman, carelessly smoking a cigar, was 
lifting all the delicate objects for examination, 
strumming on the spinet, and generally assum- 
ing the lofty airs of the true-born Englishman 
outside England. His mother, from a little 
distance, turned round from time to time and 
anxiously remonstrated with him : " You must 
not touch the things. It is forbidden." He 
continued on his course imperturbably and 
silently. The old lady grew sarcastic : " And 
you call yourself a Government official ! What 
will they say ? " At last came the slow and 
emphatic answer : " I don't know and I don't 



care." 



It seemed to me a highly typical English 
answer. I realised that the great doings of 
the English in the world, for good or for evil, 
have been largely built up on a basis of Not 
Knowing and Not Caring. 



April 2. This skilfully restored Mausoleum 
of Galla Placidia surely remains one of the 
supreme jewels of art. In this dim little 
chamber we seem to see the finest moment 
in the development of mosaic, by no means the 



RAVENNA 13 

latest, for .the later mosaics of the monumental 
church of San Vitale close by are far less 
beautiful. Here mosaic is simple and free 
and altogether lovely. There is an immortal 
serenity in the blue and starry dome which 
slowly grows clearly visible in the soft light 
diffused through the golden window slabs. 
See, above the entrance, the young Shepherd 
Christ and his sheep ; the lyrical beauty and 
grace of that vision can nowhere be surpassed 
in this Ravenna whose old church walls are 
haunted by shadowy processions of solemn 
mosaic figures. Here is one of the shrines of 
our western world. 



April 8. A city wonderfully made up of 
ancient relics of building. In every backyard, 
it would seem as one glances in, there is a rare 
old well-head, or a few ancient columns, or a 
colossal head of Jupiter propped up on the 
ground to dry old rags. And one finds here 
all the germs in art of the Middle Ages, the 
beginnings of Romanesque and the beginnings, 
too, of Islamism. Even the abounding pierced 
stone -work is evidently the source of the 
fascinating pierced moucharabia work which 
seems so peculiarly Islamic. One sees, too, 



14 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

that what furnished the germs of these great 
movements was not as one may have been 
incautiously led to suppose from seeing the 
crude reflections of it in the North something 
rudimentary and primitive, but a very noble, 
living, and highly developed art large, serene, 
accomplished fitted for fine ends. San Vitale 
was a great work of living art, the work of 
highly skilled and large-brained artists who 
knew how to adjust their work adequately to 
the ends they sought. The Northerners dis- 
figured this work in their rough attempts to 
imitate or to steal it, but their instinct was 
right when they came here for their inspiration. 
I see now that Ravenna, perhaps even more 
than Constantinople, and certainly more than 
Rome, which had already begun to lose 
vitality, was the direct source of the civilisa- 
tion of our modern world. 

April 5. In Bologna one understands the 
Bolognese school of painting. I do not love 
those painters on this point my tastes are 
completely conventional but I see how they 
were the direct outcome of their environment, 
and that they even possess a realistic truth. 
Bologna is scarcely a beautiful city, as 
Florence, I have this time at length definitely 



THE BOLOGNESE SCHOOL 15 

realised, certainly is, but it is a city with a 
strongly marked character of its own. Every- 
where it is brown, and where there are no 
bricks and no terra-cotta both of which 
abound there are brown washes and brown 
paint. The ever-present arcades, recalling the 
Spanish city of Palencia, not only offer per- 
petual vistas of gloom and dark archways, but 
they necessarily lead to gloom in the ground 
floors of the houses, so that artificial light is 
needed even when the lightest rain is falling 
from an overcast sky on an April day. The 
Bolognese are habituated to gloom, even their 
churches are darker than is usual in Italy, 
and the fundamental character of light and 
shade in the Bolognese masters, as well as 
their prevailing colours, were already deter- 
mined in the structure of their city. They 
painted what they saw. I seem also to discern 
here something of the characteristics and 
costumes of the people in the Bolognese 
pictures, though the type which I most easily 
recall from those pictures the large dark eyes 
and dark skin, the fresh red colouring of the 
full face was more present in Ravenna than 
it is here, where it now seems only to survive 
among the poorest and in peasants from the 
country outside. 



16 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

April 6. I have no love for Italian churches, 
and never linger in them long and lovingly 
as so often in Spanish churches, Barcelona and 
Gerona and Palma and Zaragoza and Toledo 
and Palencia and Salamanca and Astorga 
all the churches of all the beautiful cities whose 
glorious names I tell on the beads of memory. 
There is no genius for church architecture in 
Italy, because, I suppose, there is no genius for 
worship. (How could there be a genius for 
worship in the land that produced ancient 
Rome ?) Italian Gothic is never Gothic in 
spirit, and scarcely in form. The campanile 
of Giotto, which seemed to Ruskin the supreme 
achievement in architecture, is pretty, even 
exquisitely pretty ; it would perhaps be equally 
pretty if it were twelve inches in height instead 
of nearly three hundred feet. There is no 
church in Florence wherein I love to linger. 
Santa Croce, within, gives one an enlarging 
sense of satisfaction, but as a pantheon rather 
than as a church. Here at Bologna, San 
Petronio, which approaches more nearly than 
usual to living Gothic and contains so many 
interesting things, gives me no pleasure at all, 
and the smell of dirt which assails one at the 
entrance into an atmosphere of human effluvia 
such as I have never breathed in any Spanish 



SAN PETRONIO 17 

church would alone suffice, to sicken any sense 
of pleasure, if such sense there were. Of all 
the interesting things it holds, I am only likely 
to carry away the memory of two, especially 
the first, which enjoys the advantage of being 
outside, the lovely reliefs of Jacopo da Quercia, 
with their free and delightful feeling for beauty, 
around the central portal, representing Bible 
history from the days when Adam delved and 
Eve span onwards. And then there is the 
Knight whom we see in coloured effigy on his 
tomb inside, near the west door, the youth 
who, at the beginning of the fifteenth century, 
as I learn from the inscription, having lost at 
gaming, angrily struck with his dagger the 
image of the Madonna outside the church, 
thereby knocking off a finger of the Divine 
Bambino, whereupon, filled with horror at 
his own deed, he fell to the ground powerless, 
was seized by the ministers of the church and 
condemned to death for his sacrilegious act. 
But then a miracle occurred. The youth 
recovered his lost vigour. We might have 
put this down to the natural elasticity of youth, 
but in the fifteenth century it was obviously 
the direct action of the pitiful Madonna. In 
the end the youth was pardoned and the 
Madonna's image removed to the interior of 

c 



18 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

the church to receive the worship of all good 
Christians. So all ended well for everybody. 



April 22. I see that, in narrating his 
medical experiences, a physician records a case 
of what he terms true physiological death. A 
gentleman of sound heredity, excellent health, 
and a well-tempered mind, a good business 
man and a keen sportsman, living a life that 
was hygienically perfect, when approaching 
the age of sixty put all his money for greater 
convenience into a single investment it was, 
we are told, the only time he was known to do 
a dubiously wise action and shortly after lost 
nearly the whole of it, finding himself not 
indeed in abject poverty but no longer in 
affluence. Thereupon mind and body slowly 
collapsed and faded away. In a few weeks 
the man was dead. The autopsy revealed 
absolutely nothing wrong. 

The reasons for living are not the same in 
all persons, and we may not all of us consider 
the loss of fortune a completely adequate reason 
for leaving the world. Yet to how many the 
thought of such a possibility of death must at 
some moment in their lives come deliciously ! 
When we have, foolishly or wisely, put all our 



THE BIRTH-RATE 19 

treasure no matter whether the treasure of 
our money or our love in one place and awake 
some morning to find that it is gone and our 
hearts are bankrupt, what is there left ? There 
could be nothing better but to melt and fade 
away without the painful and wearisome 
interlude of disease. " What is better for a 
heart," says Arthur Symons in his last volume 
of poems, " than to sleep and be out of pain ? " 



May 20. It sometimes seems to me that 
one may regard a man's attitude towards the 
movement of the birth-rate as a test of his 
relationship to Nature, and a criterion of his 
right to live in the world. There is nothing so 
natural as natality, nothing that is so intimately 
connected with the physical and the psychic 
mystery of life. The man who places himself 
in opposition to its manifestations is a disturb- 
ing clog in the mechanism of the world's wheels. 
At the present moment all the great live 
communities of men all over the world are 
concerned in regulating and ordering more 
reasonably, if not more eugenically, the output 
of babies which once was left, not to Nature, 
which is Order, but to the fate of Chance, 
which is Disorder. Civilisation is bound up 



20 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

with the success of that movement. The man 
who rejoices in it and strives to further it is 
alive ; the man who shudders and raises im- 
potent hands against it is merely dead, even 
though the grave yet yawns for him in vain. 
He may make dead laws and preach dead 
sermons, and his sermons may be great and 
his laws may be strong and rigid. But as the 
wisest of men saw, twenty-five centuries ago, 
the things that are great and strong and rigid 
are the things that stay below in the grave. 
It is the things that are delicate and tender and 
supple that stay above. And at no point is 
life so tender and delicate and supple as at 
the point of sex. There is the Triumph of Life. 



May 29. It would be amazing, if it were 
not tragic, to watch the spectacle of Morality 
as it is played out on the scene of modern life. 
In reality nothing is simpler than the moral 
process of life. Whatever men see the majority 
of their fellows doing, that they call Morality : 
whatever they see done by the minority outside 
that compact majority a minority which is 
of course partly in advance and partly behind 
the main body that they call Immorality. 
This is a commonplace which has often been 



MORALITY AND IMMORALITY 21 

set forth. Yet how few there are who accept 
it simply and act in accordance with it ! The 
mechanism is beautifully right, and yet they 
all want to stick a mischievous hand into it. 
If they belong to the compact majority they 
can never refrain from vituperating the small 
advance guard in front of them or the larger 
rearguard (blackguard they called it of old) 
behind them. And if they belong to either of 
the minorities, their sneers and their contempt 
for the great compact majority are equally 
persistent. And yet it takes all of them to 
make a world. Their vituperation and their 
sneers are of less account than what wind 
blows. Whatever happens, there must always 
be a majority and there must always be a 
minority. Nothing can destroy Morality. Nor 
can anything destroy Immorality. All that 
happens is that the minority of one age becomes 
the majority of the next, as the old majority 
subsides into a minority. 

No educated person nowadays refuses to 
see that the world went just as well in the 
days of the old classic morality as in the days 
of the later Christian morality, and that neither 
was so much worse or so much better than the 
Nondescript morality of our own days. Yet 
they were quite different sorts of moralities, 

N 



22 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

and consecrate quite different virtues. Every 
age has its own morality. A new morality is 
in every age knocking at the door. It is our 
best part to welcome the coming guest and to 
speed the parting guest. 



June 4s. " He who recalls an object which 
has once charmed him desires to possess it again, 
and under the same circumstances," Spinoza 
laid down. And on that declaration Gourmont 
comments truly : " But the circumstances are 
never the same, and that is why one is deceived 
by women as well as by books. When a 
woman has not deceived us, it is because we 
have failed to penetrate all her mystery, 
superior to changing circumstances, and to 
our changing selves." 

That is a profound verity, which we may 
pass by unthinkingly because it seems not to 
touch us. Yet one day we may find that it 
touches us, even at the heart's core. Who of 
us possesses some idolised woman, or some 
idolised book, and finds not, sooner or later, 
that he has, as Gourmont so graciously phrases 
it, failed to penetrate the woman's, or the 
book's, mystery ? 

Spinoza's road has led men joyously by 



"BORIS GODONOV 23 

faith over many stony paths, and set wings to 
their feet, and inspired their hearts to tasks 
which, without that faith, they could never have 
achieved or attempted. That is the Road of 
Life. 

Gourmont's road has led men painfully to 
penetrate the mysteries they thought they 
knew and to pierce to deeper truths than they 
had ever conceived, to learn humility for 
themselves and tenderness for others, and 
reverence to that Nature who is ever a magic 
Fiction and a divine Illusion. That also is 
the Road of Life. 

So that if we are truly alive we shall accept 
the one Road as joyfully as we accept the other 
Road. 



June 6. For many months I have had no 
inclination to enter a theatre. Ten days ago 
an impulse took me to Drury Lane, where for 
the first time I heard and saw Moussorgsky's 
Boris Godonov, with Chaliapin as the Tsar. 
Ever since, Boris has dwelt in my memory 
as a great manifestation of genius and beauty 
and strength, superbly rendered by consum- 
mate artists, and I feel that I cannot rest until 
I have seen it and heard it again. 



24 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

There can surely be no such fine actor as 
Chaliapin, no such gracious personality, on 
the operatic stage, and nowhere but from 
Russia could one find such a chorus, especially 
in the bass, that so penetrates, inspiring and 
sustaining, with such long reverberating echoes, 
into the heart. And then to see these Russians, 
these real Russians, the Russians of life and not 
of the stage, acting so simply and so naturally, 
reproducing all the gestures and attitudes that 
are so delicious to see once more for one who 
loves Russia and the Russians ! 

It is the genius of Moussorgsky which all 
these things so magnificently interpret. And 
Moussorgsky typifies the Genius of Russia : a 
gigantic untrained child, strong and playful 
and spontaneous, manifesting itself with a 
magnificently original energy, and yet with all 
the child's naive simplicity, sweet and enor- 
mous, like that beautiful young girl-giantess, 
Elizabeth Lyska, who wandered out of Russia 
on to the music-hall stage of Europe a quarter 
of a century ago. That is the genius of Mous- 
sorgsky. That also is the Genius of Russia. 



June 13. The Salvation Army is holding 
a great International Congress in London, and 



THE SALVATIONISTS 25 

London is swarming with Salvationists. I 
realise more deeply, what I have often felt 
before, the special temperament of these people 
as it is written in their faces. The faces, often 
enough, were clearly of no rarely fine texture 
to work on, but one scarcely notices it any more, 
for these faces are lit by the flame of an inward 
divine joy which radiates human love through 
a transparent mask. They are faces full of an 
eager vitality which has blossomed out in the 
presence of human needs. There is no effort 
after holiness in these faces, nor any constraint 
of virtue, but complete relaxation. I realise 
here the truth of what I wrote thirty years ago, 
that even laughter has in it something of that 
dilatation of joy which is religion. They have 
realised that religion is not a dogma, a creed, 
a painful obedience to a rule, but just emotion. 
That is what has not been realised by those 
innumerable Christian sectarians whose faces 
are so moulded into painful artificiality by pro- 
fessionalism, by virtue, by continual tension, 
by, at the best, some heroic struggle. The 
Salvation Army has understood religious pro- 
paganda better than it has ever been under- 
stood since Loyola sent forth his Army with 
just this same pretence of militarism, the same 
zeal, the same supple adaptability to human 



26 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

needs, the same frank acceptance of emotion. 
And the religious emotion of these Salvationists 
is so natural and so human that we feel it jars 
not at all with mere earthly love. Look at 
that boy and girl wandering arm-in-arm along 
Fleet Street, so absorbed in each other's 
personality, as happily and as sweetly in love 
as though they were not Salvationists at 
all, but just mere cannibalistic unconverted 
heathens. 



June 17. There is no human soul in sight 
on this large expanse of breckland, nor likely 
to be all day long ; far away indeed one faintly 
discerns here and there a human habitation 
but no indication of human life. So here 
among luxurious elastic hillocks we choose our 
place of repose. Here we may spread our 
simple meal, here we may discourse of the 
whole universe or read from the books we have 
brought, Yang Chu's Garden of Pleasure and 
Les Cents Nouvelles Nouvelles, books that seem 
to harmonise with each other and with our 
mood of the moment : the wise old Chinese 
philosopher of twenty-two centuries ago, re- 
nouncing nothing, yet seeking nothing, content 
with the concord between Nature and the 



YANG CHU 27 

Individual, with the possession of the absolutely 
essential things ; and that series of marvellously 
variegated scenes from the European life of 
the fifteenth century, once attributed to the 
genius of Antoine de la Salle, scenes all the 
more true to life because distorted by no moral, 
and under the unfamiliar disguise of ancient 
manners bringing so vividly before us the same 
problems of human nature which perplex us 
to-day. 

It is a warm day but soft. The warmth 
of the sun and the coolness of the air seem at 
this delicately poised moment of the year to 
alternate rhythmically in delicious harmony. 
Afar from the eyes of men, we are free to open 
our garments and so far as we will to fling 
them off, so that sun and air alike may play 
deliciously through on our flesh. Here is the 
atmosphere of Giorgione's Concert. Here is 
the Wilderness of Omar Khayyam. Yet still 
it is England, and our jug of wine is ale and 
the larks furnish our music. 

In a few days, among the crowds of London 
streets, this day will seem to both of us a dream 
that was never lived in the world. 



June 18. It is a significant but at first 



28 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

sight a puzzling fact that the single surviving 
chapter of the philosophy of Yang Chu has 
come down to us embedded in the Taoist 
writings of Lieh Tzu. That is to say, that a 
disciple of Lao-Tze, the supreme mystic, so 
delicately disdainful of the material and sensu- 
ous side of the world, so incomparable an artist 
in building the Universe out of Nothing, has 
been the sole means of handing to us across 
more than two millenniums the brief utterances 
of the great philosophical anarchist who carried 
to the extreme point the Economy of Philo- 
sophy, and taught that if we know how to 
confine ourselves to the wise activity of the 
senses, the world would become a scene of per- 
fect harmony, and of perfect joy, for all men. 

It is puzzling, but only at first sight. For 
the mystic explanation of the Universe is the 
ultimate explanation and the largest. The 
philosophy of Lao-Tze could not have been 
comprised within that of Yang Chu. But 
within the philosophy of Lao-Tze there is room 
for all the sensuous joyousness and all the 
cynical daring of Yang Chu. The conventional 
moralists, after the manner of their kind, 
from his own day even to ours, have viewed 
Yang Chu with almost unspeakable reproba- 
tion. His Garden of Pleasure has found its 



THE REFORMED INN 29 

immortal refuge beneath the shield of Lao-Tze 
the Mystic. 



June 20. We went a pleasant walk to-day 
with the excuse of exploring one of the houses 
of the People's Refreshment House Association, 
a type of house I have never come across in 
my adventures among country inns. 

This was a small inn in a very small village 
remote from any town. The village is indeed 
merely a few scattered houses around the 
church, a dilapidated church with roof so leaky 
that pools lie on its pavements. The inn, 
which stands opposite the church, was until 
lately even more dilapidated, a dirty and 
ruinous hole, we were told by the cheery and 
vigorous landlady who, with her husband, an 
old soldier, now manages the place under the 
Association's control. 

To-day, with hard work and clearly no very 
great outlay, but obviously under the eye of a 
clever directing feminine mind from London, 
the old place has been transformed, and yet at 
the same time brought nearer to its original 
aspect. All the old features of the building 
are retained and emphasised, where they are 
useful and beautiful, but modern features are 



30 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

boldly introduced whenever modern demands 
make them desirable, regardless of archaeo- 
logical harmony. Here is the bar-room where 
the village rustics may sit and drink as in any 
other public - house ; for alcoholic and non- 
alcoholic drinks are alike supplied, and of the 
best quality, though the manager receives no 
profit on the alcoholic drinks and the walls are 
not covered by their manufacturers' advertise- 
ments. Here, also, are two neat, fresh, and 
pleasant bedrooms upstairs where the weary 
visitor from town may inhale the deep rural 
peace of this pleasant spot and listen to the 
song of its birds. 

Reason is one, and the forms of unreason 
are many. The forces of Drink have joined 
hands with the forces of Teetotalism to attack 
the reasonable Temperance of the People's 
Trust, and have sometimes been successful. 
Rut Reason and Temperance, it seems, are 
not always crushed. 



June 22. We have walked some two miles 
from Worstead, through country lanes, on pil- 
grimage to the fourteenth - century iron -work 
on the south door of Tunstead Church. Wor- 
stead, though its name is known wherever the 



TUNSTEAD CHURCH 31 

English language is spoken, is to-day but a 
sleepy, straggling, almost deserted village around 
its boldly placed magnificent church, set in a 
frame of the most gorgeously poppy-stained 
fields that one may well find in England. 
Tunstead is a still more insignificant village, 
only inhabited by a few agricultural labourers, 
and its vicar leaves his work among the roses 
of his garden to fetch the very long and vener- 
able key, the key of the south door, and with 
a glance, in these days of sacrilegious suffra- 
gettes, at the little bag my companion carries, 
he entrusts it to our keeping. As we approach 
the door a doubt almost begins to formulate 
itself. That iron- work merely a boss for the 
handle, over the key-hole, and a spreading 
scroll-work of foliage in relief, so delicate and 
so consummate can it really be five centuries 
old and not of yesterday ? But the growth 
of such a doubt is speedily checked. We do 
not live in a world where iron springs into 
life so simply and so exquisitely as here, with 
so careless a grace of immaculate perfection. 
There is nothing in it, its rising and drooping 
curves are spontaneous and effortless, and the 
sight of it, even the vision of it in memory, 
may yet well be an inspiring joy for ever. 
Tunstead Church is not unworthy to be the 



32 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

home of the finest jewel of artistry in iron- 
work which England owns. The vicar is tire- 
lessly seeking for funds to accomplish repairs 
and restorations, but at present one cannot 
easily find any church in England which is at 
the same time so full of antique beauty and 
so untouched. The fine rood screen of the 
fifteenth century, not to be compared for its 
paintings to the unparalleled screen at Ran- 
worth a few miles away, is yet more typically 
English. And here is the platform for the 
rood still left standing aloft, level with the 
doorway in the arch, and the marks in the 
beam of the body and limbs of the rood itself 
are still as clear to see as though the crucifix 
had been torn down yesterday and not nearly 
four hundred years ago. Even more interest- 
ing, and new evidence of the perpetual origin- 
ality of our English churches, is the raised 
stone platform, about a yard wide, extending 
across the east wall of the chancel, with a 
vaulted chamber beneath and a grating open 
to the steps leading to the platform on the 
north side and a door to the chamber on the 
south. No one knows what this platform was 
for. But the- whole arrangement, as others 
have pointed out, was admirably adapted for 
Mystery Plays, with the grating as a trap-door 



YARMOUTH 33 

to Hell, and the people of Tunstead perhaps 
anticipated my own opinion as to the virtues 
of a Church as Theatre. 

That was long centuries ago. To-day the 
descendants of those people of Tunstead under 
whose eyes, probably by whose hands, perhaps 
by their brains, the daring and unique grace of 
this church developed, are a handful of agri- 
cultural labourers, only born to sow and to 
reap and to consume the perishing fruits of 
the earth. 



June 27. This is Yarmouth and to-day is 
Market-day. It is pleasant to recall the memory 
of a brief visit some twenty years ago, to con- 
firm and extend the impressions then received. 
The only "sea- side resorts" which to me are 
pleasant or even tolerable are those which, like 
Fecamp, possess an organic life of their own 
and an individual aspect of their own, not those 
which are mere feeding patches for parasitic 
visitors. 

Yarmouth has always possessed, and still 
retains, an ample, dignified, characteristic life 
of its own. It is in consequence of this self- 
conscious, individual, slowly matured organic 
life that it is so pleasant to wander about 

D 



34 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

Yarmouth, whether through its great open 
spaces or its narrow ancient " rows," which 
yet seem never the abode of abject unsavoury 
poverty. 

Yarmouth has always had a closely knit 
collective life which I attribute in part to its 
position of antagonism in relation to neigh- 
bouring towns and in part to the unity of its 
interests as a fishing town. Hence it is, no 
doubt, that of all large English towns Yarmouth 
is the town of a single church, and that the 
largest parish church in England, the Church 
of St. Nicholas, the fisherman's patron, who 
has so many churches also on the opposite 
coast. 

I see, indeed, in Yarmouth and its people 
the intimate evidence of close contact, of real 
relationship, with the people and the civilisa- 
tion of the opposite Low Countries. It is 
visible even in the most conspicuous traits of 
their architecture. Here are the step-like gables 
of Antwerp, and the curved gables of Haarlem, 
and the broad house-doors of Delft. The most 
delightful jewel of domestic architecture here, 
the almshouses for old fishermen in the Market- 
place, is English yet with an exotic flavour of 
Flanders. Even the people have in their veins 
the same enriching alien element. See these 



YARMOUTH 35 

countrywomen and girls who have brought 
their produce into the market, often so bright- 
eyed and so well-spoken, and always so vividly 
alive ; those old unions with Flemish stocks 
from across the sea have clearly created new 
elements which we shall scarcely find in either 
of the parent stocks. The gain has certainly 
been to the women at least as much as to 
the men. These clearly are the women whose 
grandmothers buried their men in the neigh- 
bouring churchyard and duly inscribed on the 
gravestone, after the defunct's name, the lead- 
ing fact that he was the husband of so and so. 
And what a charming market they set forth ! 
I do not know where in England one may find 
so attractive a market. For one notes, as no- 
where else in England, so far as I know, a touch 
of the artist, however crude and elementary. 
See the almost pathetic little traces of taste, 
everywhere visible, how the bundles of flowers 
are placed around the joints of meat and 
between the fowls, and how pictorially these 
fowls are dressed for the cook, they might have 
come out of a Dutch or Flemish picture ; 
everywhere there is some curious little touch 
of feeling for arrangement or for colour, even 
in the way these three or four white eggs are 
placed on a heap of delicately green beans, 



36 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

every woman seeming to wish to blend har- 
moniously the varied produce she has brought 
to market. I realise that I am in the region 
which is the chief centre of English painting, 
the home of Crome and of Cotman, of Gains- 
borough and of Constable. 



July 2. I sometimes wonder why I can be 
so well content to make a meal off bread and 
an artichoke, though I had nearly reached 
middle life before I attempted to eat an arti- 
choke. I mean of course that artichoke which 
is a Composite flower, and not the tuber which 
claims to be a " Jerusalem artichoke," although 
it is not an artichoke and never came from 
Jerusalem. 

Perhaps my satisfaction is in part due to the 
very fact that it is a flower, a beautiful and 
noble flower on its massive stalk, and indeed 
though eating flowers may have become a 
sort of fashion the only flower of which in 
our clime one can make a meal. There is also 
a certain orderly and almost aesthetic progres- 
sion towards the heart of it, so that a predilec- 
tion for the artichoke seems to assume some 
degree of fine taste. And the pleasure of 
eating it is enhanced by the fundamental fact 



RAIN 87 

that it is eaten with the fingers, for the food 
that we eat with our fingers is ever that which 
tastes sweetest ; the relative distaste for animal 
food must be associated with the fact that we 
have acquired a disgust for eating it with our 
fingers. There is finally the exhilaration of the 
miracle that what remains of the meal is seem- 
ingly more than what constituted it, and so 
we are brought near to the days when twelve 
baskets full remained over at the end of some 
divine repast. 



July 4. After a period of drought we have 
had a day or two of rain ; now to-day again 
the sky is clear and the sun is bright. I sit 
in the Old Garden before the deep blaze 
of the roses and the penetrating blue of the 
delphiniums against the luminous greenery. I 
realise afresh how delicious a gift is the rain. 

It has sometimes seemed strange to me that 
Henri de Regnier, who above all writers has 
celebrated the loveliness of the forms of water, 
hates rain. Certainly on our northern clime 
the benediction of rain is often too profusely 
poured. Yet, after all, there is no form of 
water more beneficent and even more delight- 
ful, so sweet to the ears as one listens to it 



38 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

from the shelter of one's bed, or to the touch 
as its soft beat overtakes one, or to the sense 
of smell as it evokes all the most delicate 
odours of the garden, or to the eyes which 
trace its fascinating path across the distant sky 
and watch the impact of its beautiful feet on 
the sea. 

What would our London be without the 
rain which for ever washes its beauty fresh 
from stain and transforms its murky air into 
pure radiance ? 

We feel the endless pathos of him who was 
" aweary of the sun," and surely there is some 
pathos also in them who are aweary of the 
rain. 



July 6. One is so often tempted in this 
world to allow oneself to be lashed into rage 
by its Intolerance, its Injustice, its Sordidness, 
its Imbecility, even its mere tame Monotony. 
And I am not at all sure that we do wrong to 
be angry, and that our Hate of Hate or our 
Scorn of Scorn is not fully justified. 

Yet, after all, let us never forget also that 
we have been so constituted as to be able to 
regard the World as a Spectacle. Surely, the 
author of that fantastic book of The Revelation 



THE WORLD AS A SPECTACLE 39 

of St. John has expressed not only the attitude 
of the man of science (" vicious types of char- 
acter are not more numerous in one age than 
in another," is the result of Dr. Woods's 
painstaking investigation) but the eternal atti- 
tude of the artist. " He that is unjust, let 
him be unjust still ; and he that is filthy, let 
him be filthy still ; and he that is righteous, 
let him be righteous still ; and he that is holy, 
let him be holy still." This book may not 
altogether evoke our complete admiration. But 
no work of art ever written is based so largely 
on the sole sense of vision or more boldly 
metaphorises the World as a Spectacle. 



July 9. In the Upper House of Convoca- 
tion yesterday the Bishops were called upon 
to express distress and apprehension at the 
large number of criminal assaults on children. 
They did so. The Archbishop of Canterbury 
rose to the occasion and declared that " the 
subject was so grave as to make one feel one 
was touching the very Gates of Hell ; but there 
was something the Gates of Hell should not 
prevail against." Whereupon their Lordships 
" passed a resolution," in order to " demand 
yet further legislation on the subject." The 



40 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

Gates of Hell, they clearly saw, cannot prevail 
against a Parliamentary Bill. 

One need scarcely pause to make the com- 
monplace remark that whatever the efficacy of 
Parliamentary Bills as battering rams against 
the Gates of Hell, we can scarcely imagine any 
method more unlike the method of Jesus. 
Laws and law-makers, as Jesus saw them, are 
of this world. He disregarded with supreme 
contempt all the makeshifts of external regu- 
lation which cannot touch the soul. He was 
only concerned with realities. 

It is a more serious matter that these 
Christians who so cheerfully, and so com- 
placently, betray their Master, have on their 
side all the worldly wise and the secularistic 
and the atheistic, the general body of the 
Respectable Classes. They have all eaten of 
the same poisonous fruit, they all pursue the 
mirage of the same Artificial Paradise, they all 
dream of a world where evils will be removed 
by Parliamentary enactment. Let us but pass 
a new law, they cry, and all's well with the 
world. ! 

What is the thirst for alcohol and morphia 
and all the poisons of the apothecary compared 
with the soul-destroying thirst for the poison 
of Laws ? 



THE ARTIST PEOPLES 41 

July 21. When I ask myself what peoples 
of the world of the higher cultures have been 
more than others Artists, I find five whom I 
should place in the first rank : the Chinese 
(and subordinate to them the Koreans and 
the Japanese), the Egyptians, the Greeks, the 
Mediterranean peoples of Islam at a certain 
moment of their development, and the French. 

The Chinese were supreme artists in philo- 
sophy and morals, in pottery, in painting, 
possibly in poetry ; the Egyptians in archi- 
tecture and sculpture and design generally ; 
the Greeks in science and philosophy and poetry 
and sculpture ; the Islamic peoples in domestic 
architecture and all the affairs of daily life ; 
the French in architecture and painting and 
many minor activities as well. Moreover, all 
these peoples were not only supreme in more 
than one art, but they were supremely accom- 
plished in the art of living itself ; they revealed 
new forms of morality ; they sought perfection 
in social relationships ; they were artists in the 
smallest details of life ; they knew of nothing 
so mean that it could not be made beautiful. 

Other peoples have excelled at special points, 
as the English in poetry and the Dutch in 
painting and the Germans in music. But their 
artistic impulses have never been strong enough 



42 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

either to attain supremacy in many fields or 
to make the supreme conquest of life itself. 
There have only been the Chinese and the 
Egyptians and the Greeks and the peoples of 
Islam and now the French. 



July 24. Hartmann von der Aue in his 
St. Gregory on the Rock has described how for 
his great offences a man was chained to a rock 
in the sea for seventeen years. At the end of 
that time messengers came from Rome to the 
prisoner, purified and glorified by Punishment, 
to announce to him his election as Pope. 

For many years I, and others, have main- 
tained that the conception of Punishment is 
not of our time but a survival from the far 
past, and that it is our business to replace it 
by a more modern conception of the Protection 
of Society by the appropriate treatment, to 
the end of reformation, of those who offend 
against society. But I have never seen the 
complete modern decay of the old conception 
of Punishment more vividly illuminated than 
by this legend. 

Punishment was a really living idea in the 
thirteenth century. And here we see that one 
of the greatest poets of that century thought it 



PUNISHMENT 43 

perfectly natural and just that a man redeemed 
by the infliction of Punishment should be found 
meetest of all men to occupy the highest and 
most sacred post the world could offer. As a 
matter of fact, the Triple Crown was not re- 
garded as a reward for Punishment even in 
the thirteenth century ; we only see that for 
a man who represented supremely the spirit of 
that age it was reasonable so to regard it. 

But in this twentieth century not even the 
most minor of our poets would dream of 
canonising the most punished of our criminals, 
whosoever he may be, or of placing him upon 
even so much as the archiepiscopal throne of 
Canterbury. The conception of Punishment 
is a foreign body in our social system, a 
fossilised vestige of the past, done for and 
dead. 



July 28. Amid the endless procession of 
nondescript persons along the streets who so 
often seem only differentiated, and that but 
a little, by their clothes now and again one 
seems to perceive an indubitable person. As 
I was walking rapidly along near Victoria 
Station to-day, absorbed in my own thoughts, 
I chanced to pass closely a figure which in 



44 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

that brief single flash remains in memory, of 
all the undistinguished figures I have passed 
during the day, the vision of a Person. It 
drew my attention first by a doubt as to its 
sex. But the plain flat cap, set decisively on 
one side, and the man's light overcoat over 
the straight slender figure, a student's or an 
artist's, ended, one soon noted, in a blue skirt 
and little feminine feet. It was, too, one 
swiftly realised, a girl's face that fitted the 
figure so frankly simple in its originality, a 
grave sweet face, refined and intellectual, 
unassuming, almost shrinking, yet with the 
notable piquancy of a pronounced black down 
on the upper lip against the firmly toned matt 
background of the complexion. One thought 
of some Veronese or Paduan youth on the 
Shakespearian stage whose sister found it so 
easy to put on and off her brother's shape. A 
shy yet daring figure it was that passed me in 
that flash of vision, seeking to express itself, 
yet sad with the incompletion of its own 
bisexual mystery. 



August 2. To-day, when war seems to be 
breaking out all over Europe, I take up the 
poems of Leon Deubel, that fine poet who 



LEON DEUBEL 45 

ended his life in despair at the age of thirty- 
five last year, and read the Preface by his 
friend Louis Pergaud. 

What a different world ! If one thinks of 
it, surely a more adequate and satisfying world. 
For we see that when Man sets himself to tasks 
that are too great for him, when he attempts 
to create Empires and rule the world, in the 
infinite expansion of his imbecility and his im- 
potence he becomes the incarnate Devil, in a 
very different sense from those " poor devils," 
as we condescendingly call them, who have 
fallen to the bottom of the social scale. 
Nothing can be more monstrous or more 
pitiful to-day according as you like to take 
it than the records of Emperors and Kings, 
of politicians and diplomatists. And the " poor 
devils " of our social state whose chief crime 
is that they have not swept Europe and Kings 
and politicians off the face of the earth when 
we look into their lives, come before us perfect 
in their human adequacy, even angels in their 
mutual charity and compassion. 

Men talked of old of the judgements " written 
in Heaven " which reversed the judgements of 
earth, and one may well admit that even in 
the most scientific Heaven, wherever that may 
be established, it is the deeds of these " poor 



devils " which could most honourably be in- 
scribed in letters of gold, when he has finally 
vanished from the barren earth, on the Tomb 
of Man. 

So when Human Stupidity is threatening 
War on every hand, and we grow weary of 
Hell in High Places, let us turn with joy to 
these humble and fallen men on the midnight 
pavement of Paris who live, without knowing 
it, according to the Sermon on the Mount. 



August 10. How unfailingly the Irony of 
Providence has arranged that every country's 
function of Moral Consciousness shall be exer- 
cised vicariously by all the other countries ! 
To-day, for instance, see how the virtuous 
English moralists point to the mills of God in 
Germany. The harvest of blood and iron 
which Bismarck sowed is now being reaped 
and the sheaves to-morrow will be gathered 
home. The fatal annexation of Alsace and 
Lorraine, which had made Europe an armed 
camp during the greater part of the lives of all 
of us, was the predisposing cause of the present 
cataclysm, and the annexation of Bosnia was 
the exciting cause. Finally, another aggres- 



THE COMING OF WAR 47 

sion, the violation of the neutrality of Belgium, 
will bring a swift vengeance on the evil-doers. 

So in England we are able to exercise the 
function of moral consciousness for a large 
part of Europe, in England, which on the 
occasion of the Boer War aroused the contempt 
and hatred of the whole civilised world. 



August 14. Sub tegminefagi. The sky is a 
cloudless blue and the breeze murmurs pleas- 
antly through the leaves overhead and the 
butterflies chase one another idly and the doves 
coo at intervals and the stream pressed by the 
water-lilies is almost too languid to move 
beneath the heat. Perfect peace seems to 
rule the world and the reign of Heaven begun 
on earth. 

I note these things and I note them with 
only sadness. For to-day, it is said, five 
nations are beginning to fight the greatest 
battle in the history of the world, and over 
the whole cradle of human civilisation the 
Powers of Hell are let loose. Vae metis ! Vae 
victoribus ! 

September 13. After all, when one reads 
Lanciani's Destruction of Rome, which I chance 



48 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

to find on the well-filled shelves of this little 
cottage, one realises that there is a difference 
between the ancient Goths and their descend- 
ants not clearly indicated by the rhetoric of 
St. Augustine, whose De Civitate Dei I have 
lately been looking into afresh. The ancient 
Goths were sometimes incendiaries, but their 
chief motive was loot. They carried away 
precious things on a wholesale scale, but they 
developed no systematic methods of barbarism, 
no sacrilegious violation of the traditions of 
humanity. They even respected the sacred 
Christian enclosures of St. Peter and St. Paul. 

But by the modern Goths all the things 
their forefathers did, and all the things they 
refrained from doing, have been formulated 
into principles, systems of iron and methods 
of blood, cold, hard, relentless, always to be 
justified by the supreme law of " military 
necessity." This is the heavy yoke now im- 
posed on the patient necks of the laborious 
kindly sentimental Germans by their Prussian 
taskmasters. 

Surely at no period of the world's history 
has it been so necessary as it is to-day to strike 
hard at Militarism. Never before has it been 
so clearly visible that all civilisation, even all 
the most elementary traditions of humanity 



THE CHILTERNS 49 

and brotherhood, depend on the absolute de- 
struction of Militarism. 



September 27. Here in this remote hill-land 
of Buckinghamshire it is pleasant to feel the 
bright hot sun in autumn, even though the 
nights are keen, and to inhale the clear ex- 
hilarating air. It is pleasant to wander along 
the curving lanes, with their constant sharp 
rises and falls, and their far vistas, deserted, 
save for an occasional cyclist, of travellers, as 
the refugee from cities notes with delighted 
surprise ; pleasant also to walk in solitude 
for miles through the silent beechwoods, now 
strewn with dead leaves, yet still with patches 
of fresh green and shafts of bright sunshine, so 
silent, so solitary, that one might expect to 
come on Robin Hood and his men round any 
thicket ; one can well believe how often here 
the traveller of old disappeared for ever and 
how necessary was the office of the Guardian 
of the Chiltern Hundred whose business it was 
to keep brigands in check. 

It is an ancient land, where the Romans 
have left their mark ; but it can never have 
been a rich and populous land. We are far 
from East Anglia where the grandiose remains 

E 



50 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

of an active and populous people are still so 
numerous. Churches here are few and simple, 
and the rural inns are for the most part only 
cottages. But though scanty, the population 
is of fine type, friendly and alert, unlike the 
heavier Saxons of farther south, and with an 
accent in their speech that recalls the north, 
slender, graceful, blue-eyed girls and merry, 
rosy-cheeked boys like their beautiful apples 
which now burden the boughs on every culti- 
vated patch of orchard. 

One soon seems to discern the spiritual 
temper of this land. It is that of a hardy, 
independent, unspoilt hill-folk, tenacious of 
individual rights, their own and other's. 
(It seems significant that the churches about 
here have retained their brasses uninjured by 
the passions of the seventeenth century.) I 
understand how it was that John Hampden, 
whose family had dwelt there for six centuries, 
belonged to the next village where " Free " 
even to-day seems to be a Christian name 
and how he easily found stiff-necked but well- 
tempered " village Hampdens " of the same 
self-sufficing, locally patriotic make, remote 
from King and country, to worry over ship- 
money, while to-day, it is curious to note, 
these highlands send many men to the navy 



MEN AND MONUMENTS 51 

though few to the army. I understand, too, 
how William Penn came to live a few miles 
away, where his grave is still a shrine of this 
land, and how a little farther east in this same 
county Milton once found a home. 



October 12. Maurice Barres, it appears, a 
while ago, in his perverse manner, referred with 
indifference to the bombardment of Rheims 
Cathedral : Let the monuments go, he said in 
effect, so long as we preserve the men. One 
may, however, well feel a sensitive sympathy 
with the pain and wretchedness now being so 
widely scattered over the richest lands and 
among the best people of our European home 
and yet also feel a peculiar pang and a fierce 
indignation over the destruction of the loveliest 
and rarest things that men of old have left to 
us. It is indeed a narrow view of humanity 
to comprise within its circle its crude material, 
sentient and full of promise, yet meant for 
death, and to exclude the most perfect revela- 
tion of its sentiency and promise, wrought for 
an immortal life beyond death, which whoso 
slays, as Milton says, " slays an immortality 
rather than a life." A finer inspiration than 
that of Barren was in the spirit of a mere 



52 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

ordinary soldier I read of in the newspaper 
to-day, a French soldier near Lille, badly 
wounded, and yet only moved by the thought 
of a mere monument, and that not even out 
of patriotism, for it was not on French soil. 
" * Oh ! ' he declared, ' if we can only save 
Antwerp ! You know the towers with the bells 
which have chimed every quarter of an hour 
since Alva's days ? ' And in his anger, despite 
his wound, he raised himself to shout forth his 
protest against the loss of a magnificence which 
he had seen and admired and remembered." 

After all, Pain and Death, in one form or 
another, sooner or later, are the lot of all of 
us, and so far as the race is concerned, it may 
not be so grave a matter how or when they 
come. What the race lives by is its traditions, 
its power of embodying the finest emanations 
of its spirit and flesh in forms of undying 
beauty and aspiration which are never twice 
the same. These traditions it is which are the 
immortal joy and strength of Mankind, and in 
their destruction the race is far more hope- 
lessly impoverished than in the destruction of 
any number of human beings. For it is by 
his traditions that Man is Man and not by 
the number of meaningless superfluous millions 
whom he spawns over the earth. 



WAR AND CIVILISATION 53 

So it is that while my heart aches for the 
fates of countless thousands of innocent men 
and women and children to-day, I am none 
the less sad as I think day and night of the 
rare and exquisite flowers of ancient civilisation 
I knew and loved of old, now crushed and 
profaned. I think of the broad and gracious 
city of Liege, of the narrow streets of ancient 
Louvain, crowded with rich traditions, of lovely 
and beautiful old Malines, its exquisite carillon 
still ringing in my ear, of Antwerp entwined 
with the earliest memories of my childhood, of 
Rheims which I saw for the first and last time 
only a few months ago, a shrine for the whole 
human race, which will linger for ever in my 
mind because it seemed to me that its walls 
and its windows held the most exquisite and 
human and daring pictures in stone or in glass 
which our northern race has created. 



October 19. My bells are jangled and fall 
silent. I am sorry. Yet I would not have it 
otherwise. They are not hung in an ivory 
tower. 

By day and by night I think of the Great 
War. But I never have any wish to write 
about it. If I could I would forget it. In the 



54 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

Peninsular War, it is said, one of Wellington's 
generals was guilty of a flagrant act of in- 
subordination, and Wellington, who in little 
matters was so hard a disciplinarian, took no 
notice. They asked him later how it was. 
" By God," he replied, " it was too serious." 
This war to-day seems to me the most flagrant 
act of insubordination committed by Man 
against Civilisation and Humanity. It is too 
serious for the lash of discipline to touch. We 
must leave it at that. 



October 24. I read in the newspaper to-day 
that a French infantryman was walking into 
his trench eating a pear when a shell whizzing 
through the air burst and the man was thrown 
to the earth in a cloud of dust. Before his 
comrades could speak he was on his feet again 
shouting angrily, " The pigs ! They have made 
me drop my pear ! " 

I have long known that the pear may distort 
moral values. When I was a child the first 
and last time that I ever appropriated any of 
my parents' money without leave was to buy 
pears. Evidently pears made it worth while to 
become a criminal. (And has not St. Augus- 
tine confessed that, even when he was older 



NATURE AND MAN 55 

than I was, he stole pears ?) It is interesting 
to find that moral values are thus distortable 
not only under normal but under abnormal 
circumstances. That he had saved his life 
seemed to the infantryman but a little thing. 
For he had lost his pear. Our conventional 
valuations, which we often accept so easily, 
are evidently not of the essence of Nature, and 
in moments of sudden inspiration these com- 
monly accepted conventional values are made 
to look small. 

So my mind idly plays on the surface. Yet 
all to-day, beneath the surface, my deeper 
thoughts are fixed, and my heart is heavy, 
and all my dreams are of one afar, tossing on 
the sea. 



November 7. It is not easy, or perhaps 
possible, to remember a year which has been 
like this in England and all over Northern 
Europe so bright, so agreeably warm, so 
pleasantly temperate throughout, so abun- 
dantly fruitful. Now, even in November and 
here in London, the days are continuously 
warm and clear and often even bright and 
sunny, while rain falls at night a meteorologic 
condition which has always seemed to me 



56 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

perfect for London in November when fog is 
for ever awaiting its chance, against wind and 
rain, to pounce down on the city. 

The poet sang of " Nature red in tooth and 
claw." But we realise to-day that if we are 
to adopt the conventional distinction it is 
Man to a vastly greater extent than Nature 
who is truly " red in tooth and claw." To-day 
it is Nature rather than Man that comes before 
us as the exalting and civilising element in the 
world's life. Men the men we thought the 
most civilised in the world are to-day over a 
great part of the earth rending each other 
hideously by means of the most terrible weapons 
that intelligence can devise, sprinkling the soil 
with mutilated corpses, torturing women and 
children, inflicting a wider and vaster amount 
of complex suffering than it ever entered into 
the imagination of a Dante to conceive. 

And over that spectacle we can almost be- 
lieve that it is with a deliberate and conscious 
sympathy for her erring children that the 
Great Mother has covered the earth with such 
tender smiles and tears as never before, and 
lavished her sweetest consoling fruits with an 
unknown profusion. 

November 10. In places that have been the 



THE HOMES OF GREAT SPIRITS 57 

homes of great spirits there is always for me 
and I suppose for many a peculiar charm, 
a haunting intimacy, a rarely inspiring and 
abiding joy. I cherish for ever the memory of 
the serene and beautiful town if after thirty 
years it still remains so of Stratford-on-Avon. 
The delightful little Prieure on the bank of the 
Loire, in the island, as it once was, of Saint- 
Cosme then regarded as the most beautiful 
spot in Touraine and lovely and lonely yet, 
though within easy reach of the great city of 
Tours makes Ronsard, who loved it, a real 
person to me. I seem to have felt the actual 
breath of Rousseau ever since I visited the 
homes of that distracted spirit, Les Charmettes 
among the hills of Savoy and the spectrally 
fragile cottage of the Hermitage on the outskirts 
of the forest of Montmorency. 

To-day we have walked some four miles to 
a little cottage in the main street of the quaint 
old village of Chalfont St. Giles. It stands at 
right angles to the road and faces south to the 
little garden, an insignificant cottage of brick 
slightly timbered, like thousands of others ; 
but here the blind Milton once came to live 
during the Great Plague, and here, it seems 
probable, he put the last touches to Paradise 
Lost. The room on the farther side from the road, 



58 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

they say, was his study, a very little simple 
room, low-ceiled, with small beams, yet large 
enough to hold the most gigantic of English 
poets, and not so simple but it remains stand- 
ing alone of all the houses he dwelt in, save 
only the Old Rectory House at Stowmarket, 
curiously similar to this, as I recall, though on 
a larger scale, where he was the Puritan rector's 
pupil. Milton never saw the room in which 
he lived, though, we may be sure, he sat at 
the casement or in the now vanished porch 
to catch the clear wintry sun of the Chiltern 
Hills. 

It was scarcely by chance that he came 
to live at the edge of the Chilterns. He had 
known the neighbourhood well in youth, and 
in old age he was drawn to it because it was 
the great centre of the Quakers, towards whom 
with his instinct of freedom, his haughty 
self-reliance, his defiantly rebellious scepticism 
for all current creeds there was so much to 
draw this Samson Agonistes of poets. 



November 17. The Funeral Service of the 
Church of England, when it becomes poignant 
with personal memory, is surely an impressive 
rite. As a religious statement it may cease to 



THE FUNERAL SERVICE 59 

evoke our faith. But as an affirmation of the 
boundless Pride and Humility of Man it remains 
superb. When the priest walks before the 
coffin as it is borne towards the choir, and 
scatters at intervals those brave and extrava- 
gant Sentences, we are at once brought face to 
face with the bared and naked forms of Life 
and Death. For the rhythmic recurrence of 
that Bravery and that Extravagance only 
heightens the pungency of the interspersed 
elemental utterances in the rite, those pathetic- 
ally simple gestures which impart to it Beauty 
and Significance, "We brought nothing into 
the world and it is certain that we can take 
nothing out. . . . Earth to earth, ashes to 
ashes, dust to dust." After all, it is hard to 
see how the solemnity of this final moment 
when Life touches Death, and a man at last 
vanishes from the earth's surface, could better 
be brought home in its central essence than by 
the splendid audacity of a rite which calls 
down the supreme human fictions to bear their 
testimony at the graveside to all their Creator's 
Humility and all his Pride. 

To me it has its double measure of solemn 
sadness. For to-day, maybe, that rite has in 
this Kentish graveyard for the last time been 
paid to any of the males of my house, who in 



60 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

centuries of old showed themselves so faithful 
to its observance, and in beautiful old church- 
yards of Suffolk and of Kent counted it their 
high office to scatter the grace of this final 
Mystery over so many human things that now 
are woven afresh into the texture of the world. 



November 21. I seemed to be in my room, 
where I now in fact find myself, and I became 
aware with a slight shock of a dusky object, at 
the first glance like a large spider, on the wall. 
It arose as I turned to it, and I saw a lovely 
butterfly. I threw open the window wide and 
shepherded the beautiful orange and black 
creature out into the blue and sunny sky. 

It was a dream, as I realised when I awoke, 
and had no literal origin that I knew of, for 
there are no butterflies in bright skies now. 
But who knows by what subtle alchemy of the 
mind the symbolisms of our experiences are 
sublimed ? 



December 13. Last week the Queen's Hall 
Orchestra played the "Danse Macabre" of Saint- 
Saens, and when the bones of so many heroic and 
unheroic men are lying buried, or scarcely buried, 



THE DANCE OF DEATH 61 

on so many European plains, that daintily in- 
genious Dance of Death took on a new and more 
solemn significance. The light pathetic gaiety 
of its rhythm became the accompaniment of 
the awful vision. It was the spirit of Nature 
herself which seemed to make playful music to 
Man's tragedy, lightly dancing over the shallow 
graves he finds it so easy to dig and drawing 
music from his bones. This week the New 
Symphony Orchestra has played not only that 
piece but the " Funeral March of a Marionette." 
It is really an interesting manifestation of the 
musical mind. 

The complacent saccharine lachrymosity of 
Gounod is antipathetic to me. This " Funeral 
March of a Marionette," I have always thought, 
is his one masterpiece, just as, and for a rather 
similar reason, " The Battle of Blenheim " is 
Southey's one masterpiece in verse ; these 
pompously sentimental people need to be 
brought into simple playful reaction with the 
world, and the most demagogic politician may 
grow amiable in our eyes if we discover him 
pig-a-back with his children. Here at last 
Gounod felt that his sugary tears might be out 
of place and so was free to develop the playful 
tragedy of those delicious little beings of Man's 
creation which have always been so fascinating 



62 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

and so suggestive to the artist and the philo- 
sopher. 

One wonders if that is why the New Sym- 
phony Orchestra in the present unparalleled 
activity of the human puppets in shattering 
one another to bits on their little stage finds a 
fit occasion to play " The Funeral March of a 
Marionette." 



Christmas Day. It is said that the Great 
War has led to a revival of religion. One is 
almost inclined to believe it in this huge un- 
finished cathedral at the Pontifical High Mass 
to-day. The misty air softens the bare walls 
into homely beauty and the huge candles at 
the entrance to the choir flame slowly as 
though they had all eternity to burn in, and 
beautiful voices, liquid or deep, sweep through 
the air, bearing the sound of music that was 
made long ago, and of words that began in 
the early world, to a vast crowd which fills 
the place with its devotion and makes the old 
tradition still seem alive. 

As the gracious spectacle of the Mass is 
unrolled before me, I think, as I have often 
thought before, how much they lose who cannot 
taste the joy of religion or grasp the significance 



RELIGION AND MAN 63 

of its symbolism. They have no faith in gods 
or immortal souls or supernatural Heavens and 
Hells, they severely tell us. But what have 
these things, what have any figments of the 
intellect, to do with religion ? Fling them all 
aside as austerely as you like, or as gaily, and 
you have not touched the core of religion. 
For that is from within, the welling up of 
obscure intimations of reality into the free 
grace of Vision. The Mass is a part of Nature. 
To him who sees, to him who knows, that all 
ritual is the attempt to symbolise and grasp 
the divine facts of life, and that all the painted 
shows of the world on the screen of eternity 
are of like quality and meaning, the Mass is as 
real as the sunrise, and both alike may bring 
Joy and Peace to the heart. 

When we have put aside those people who 
are congenitally non - religious and eternally 
excommunicate from the Mystery of the 
World, I find that Religion is natural to Man. 
People without religion are always dangerous. 
For none can know, and least of all them- 
selves, what volcanic eruptions are being 
subconsciously prepared in their hearts, nor 
what terrible superstitions they may some day 
ferociously champion. It has been too often 
seen. 



64 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

January 1, 1915. A year is over that has 
held for me more of sadness and loss than any 
year I can well remember. And submerging 
all personal griefs, this year has brought the 
greatest catastrophe as one is sometimes 
tempted to regard it that ever befell our 
race ; a catastrophe that even for one who 
may seem remote from it brings personal pain. 
It has not only blotted out from the lovely 
earth many spots that for me were loveliest, 
but it has cut roughly athwart who knows 
for how long ? my ideals for the world and 
my hopes for mankind. 

I cannot tell in what lurid gloom mixed 
with what radiant halo this year will stand 
out from all the years in the eyes of men alive 
on the earth after us. Yet we, too, are still 
living, and for all living things hope springs 
afresh from every despair. So it is that I 
have begun this new year at the stroke of mid- 
night with a new kiss. 



January 9. " French and German soldiers 
who had fraternised between the trenches at 
Christmas subsequently refused to fire on one 
another and had to be removed and replaced 
by other men." Amid the vast stream of war 



PATRIOTISM VERSUS HUMANITY 65 

news which nowadays flows all over our news- 
papers I chanced to find that little paragraph 
in a corner of a halfpenny evening journal. It 
seems to me the most important item of news 
I have read since the war began. 

" Patriotism " and " War " are not human 
facts. They are merely abstractions ; they 
belong to the sphere of metaphysics, just as 
much as those ancient theological conceptions 
of Godhead and the Trinity, with their minute 
variations, for the sake of which once Catholics 
and Arians so gladly slew and tortured each 
other. But as soon as the sunshine of real 
humanity makes itself felt the metaphysics of 
Patriotism and War are dissipated as surely as 
those of theology. When you have reckoned 
that your enemy is not an abstraction but a 
human being, as real a human being as you 
are yourself, why want to kill him any more 
than you want to kill yourself ? Patriotism 
and War are seen for what they are, insub- 
stantial figments of fancy which it is absurd to 
materialise and seriously accept. 

So we see, too, how simply the end of 
fighting might be reached. We have but to 
bring men together as human beings, either in 
imagination or in reality, and they are pre- 
pared to violate all the abstract principles of 

F 



66 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

Patriotism and War, to break any rule of 
discipline, rather than kill one another. We 
see it is not much to ask. It has been achieved 
on a single Christmas Eve in men whose hatred 
of each other had been artificially excited to 
the highest pitch. Is it much to expect that 
one day this process will be extended on the 
world's fighting-line until so many men have 
"had to be removed" that there will be none 
left to replace them ? 



January 18. Of all living creatures none 
has within recent years become so vastly 
magnified to our human eyes as the Mosquito. 
Once it seemed just a troublesome little pest 
that we carelessly crushed and looked upon as 
a characteristic drawback to the fascination of 
any hot climate. But now we know that to 
the Mosquito has been given a greater part on 
the stage of the world's human history than to 
any other creature. Down the minute micro- 
scopic groove of its salivary gland, as Shipley 
lately puts it, " has flowed the fluid which has 
closed the continent of Africa for countless 
centuries to civilisation, and which has played 
a dominating part in destroying the civilisations 
of ancient Greece and Rome." 



THE MOSQUITO 67 

Yet there is nothing in the world that seems 
more fragile to us or is in reality more beautiful 
than the Mosquito. We have been almost as 
blind to the loveliness as to the deadliness of 
this fairy creature whose delicately alighting 
feet are unfelt by our rough skins. For its 
beauty is a function of its deadliness. Those 
huge emerald eyes on the dark background, 
those iridescent and transparent wings, the 
double-edged sword of its long tongue, the 
slender legs yet so mightily strong all are 
needed to pierce swiftly and keenly and silently, 
with the maximum of force and of skill, the 
thick and heavily armoured epidermis of Man. 
One notes, also, that it is only the female who 
is equal to this achievement, for her partner 
is harmless to the great human beast which is 
the Mosquito's prey, and cultivates perforce a 
vegetarian diet. 

So that if you would see all of Nature 
gathered up at one point, in her loveliness, 
and her skill, and her deadliness, and her sex, 
where would you find a more exquisite symbol 
than the Mosquito ? 



February 20. I sat this morning in the Old 
Garden. The air was soft and misty, the 



68 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

snowdrops and the crocuses were all opening, 
on every hand the bushes were bursting out 
into tender greenish - brown spikes, from the 
throats of blackbirds in the trees there came 
soft liquid notes, the song of serene gladness, 
of eternal peace. And I saw and heard and 
felt and knew in my heart that I was beneath 
the wings of the approaching Spring. 

I can scarcely believe that the day will ever 
come of such decay of years or such desolation 
of spirit that I shall cease to feel, as I feel 
to-day, as I have ever felt, at the approach of 
Spring. For it seems to me that it is some- 
thing deeper than my personal joy or even my 
personal consciousness. It is something more 
profound than personality, part of the life of 
the world, and one with the song of the birds, 
which is so calmly joyous, so essentially serene, 
because they seem to remember the first spring 
of the earth and to know that when they forget 
it the world shall end. So it is that they can 
be such fine artists of Nature and leave every- 
thing out of their song save peace and joy and 
the eternal Recurrence of Life. 

February 28. " The happy character of 
the English," wrote Muralt, " is made up of 
a mixture of laziness and good sense." That 



INDOLENCE AS A VIRTUE 69 

observation of the sagacious Swiss gentleman 
in his memorable Letters is still worth medita- 
tion, like so much else that he wrote, even after 
an interval of more than two centuries. Our 
laziness, under new conditions, may have taken 
on an appearance of even feverish and neurotic 
activity, and our good sense may sometimes 
have assumed strangely unrecognisable dis- 
guises, but fundamentally the English char- 
acter is still marked by that happy mixture 
of laziness and good sense. It lies beneath 
such confused sort of success as we have had 
in the world, our love of freedom, our volun- 
taryism and hatred of compulsion. 

To-day it explains the deep repugnance we 
see among us to anything like conscription in 
the making of our armies, even in the face of 
vast masses of enemies organised on that basis, 
and even though we have in our midst a noisy 
crowd of people with un-English names, Pro- 
Germans to adopt the jargon of the moment 
who would force on us that system of com- 
pulsory conscription which our good sense tells 
us must be disastrous now that we are out- 
growing the days of the press-gang. In every- 
thing we show that mixture of laziness and 
good sense which makes us amateurs of genius 
among the nations. 



70 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

It is the other way with the Germans ; they 
are marked by a mixture of industry and bad 
sense. They trust to laborious organisation 
because they have not the tact which trusts 
to laziness, just as the mathematical mind 
sometimes seems to rely on its symbols because 
it has not the natural instinct to reason with- 
out formulae. To the superficial observer in- 
dustry seems much better than laziness. But 
our English sense tells us that if industry is 
force it is centrifugal force, dangerous if not 
held in check. It was Shenstone, an English- 
man, who wrote : " Indolence is a kind of 
centripetal force." Industry and bad sense 
may not perhaps prove the best guides to the 
German people. 



March 2. Hitherto I have always turned 
away from a picture of Nicholas Poussin's with 
disquieted feelings. I have seen its elevation 
of attitude, its austere independence, the ad- 
mirably fine qualities of its composition, the 
qualities, in short, that make Poussin one of 
the supreme representatives of the Norman 
spirit, but Time has always seemed to mark 
his work with a harshness of colour, a frigid 
artificiality, a false classicality, which put 



POUSSIN 71 

Poussin away from me on an antique pedestal 
with the other great Norman of that age, 
Corneille. Not one of his pictures and I have 
seen so many has given me any satisfying 
vision of beauty or any enlarging thrill of joy. 

But to-day I was wandering through the 
deserted rooms of the Grosvenor Gallery. They 
all seemed a Paradise. Here one was afar from 
the fantastic madness of the war, from all the 
frothy passions of the moment, among the 
serene and eternal realities of the world, the 
lovely embodiment of its finest moments by 
its finest artists, never till now brought to light 
in a public gallery. 

I chanced to come before Poussin's " Triumph 
of Pan." It is the kind of picture of pagan 
revelry which the grave and austere Norman so 
loved to paint : a vision of nymphs and fauns 
and satyrs and goats. But this time the great 
artist's inspiration has lifted him to a height 
from which all that in his work seemed to me 
defective is no longer visible ; here at last is 
beauty and joy. The thirteen figures of the 
composition are wreathed harmoniously to- 
gether with that vital movement, so eternal 
in art, one may sometimes see even in the 
Post-Impressionists and each figure is yet 
animated by the happiest abandonment. The 



72 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

firm grip of the strong Norman, the compressed 
passion which surely lay in his heart, are here 
superbly fused in creative achievement. There 
is the wildest abandonment, and it is all held 
under the control of the great artist's head 
and eye. 

So now at last I hold the clue to Poussin, 
and when again I approach his work I can 
apply the key I have found in " The Triumph 
of Pan." 



Good Friday. I wandered into the West- 
minster Cathedral where in the presence of the 
Cardinal Archbishop the Bishop of Cambuso- 
polis wherever that may be was officiating 
at the Mass of the Presanctified. New and 
bare and unfurnished, this Cathedral is yet so 
large and open and finely proportioned, and its 
high altar so raised and well spaced, as one 
views it from afar, that the Offices of the 
Church seem here fittingly at home. One 
follows with pleasure the movements of the 
ritual dance executed before this devout crowd, 
increased, it is clear, by many Belgian refugees. 

Nowadays an enlarging group of scholars 
find reason to believe that Jesus never existed, 
and that the Gospels are a legend which may 



THE STORY OF JESUS 73 

be traced to definite sources. Every detail of 
the story, they tell us, may be accounted for. 
But, for my own uninstructed part, I allow a 
doubt. Man, it seems to me, always likes 
something that once was living around which 
to weave the silk cocoon of his imagination, at 
the least some grain of plain real sand upon 
which to mould the delicate fantasy of his 
pearls, and Binet-Sangle seems to me to present 
a formidable argument when he seeks to show 
that the details of the story of Jesus, if in- 
vented, imply a knowledge of mental pathology 
(of the syndrome of Cotard, to use his technical 
phraseology) which has only been available in 
recent years. Still, however we look at it, we 
must admit that the figure of Jesus recedes as 
the world grows older, until we can no longer 
discern whether we are gazing at the shadow 
cast by a suffering and pathetic idealist against 
the radiancy of the human imagination or at 
the pure flame of that imagination itself, burn- 
ing in the void. 

In either case how inspiring ! The world is 
no longer presented to us as the little stage on 
to which suddenly rushes the bungling Play- 
wright Himself in a wild and hopeless effort 
to mend the fiasco of His own actors. The 
universe expands and we see the soul of man 



74 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

rise to its own supreme rights, no longer the 
plaything of Gods, but itself the august creator 
of Gods. 

And so we may find a new beauty and 
significance in the Mass of the Presanctified. 
It ceases to be the dance of the Slaves of 
God ; it becomes the dance of the Masters of 
Life. 

May 27. Our Anglo-Indians, I hear to-day 
from one of them, are loud in their denuncia- 
tion of the peasant women of the Pas-de-Calais 
and the servant girls of Kent who run after 
Jack Sepoy and even pay for what he gives 
them. The Anglo-Indians have slowly and 
painfully built up in India an exalted ideal 
of the European woman to which the Indian 
man is taught that he cannot aspire. Now 
this beautiful dream is shattered, and in 
their desperation our Anglo - Indians are even 
tempted to hope that the Indians who have 
learnt the truth may never return home to 
tell it. 

But the peasant women of the Pas-de- 
Calais and the servant girls of Kent have their 
beautiful dream too, and there is room in the 
great heart of Nature for the one dream and 
the other dream. 



JOHN LOCKE 75 

July 1. We have walked to Wrington on 
a pilgrimage to the famous church tower, 
which turns out to be a large and simple 
and firmly organised pile without any special 
originality or distinction. And then, but not 
without some hunting, we find removed from 
the cottage to which it was first affixed and 
now half concealed against the churchyard 
wall the stone slab which states that here 
was born John Locke. His mother, who had 
come to church, being prematurely seized by 
the pains of childbirth, hurried out to the 
nearest cottage just outside the gate long 
decayed and replaced by others which in their 
turn have grown old and there gave birth to 
her immortal son. 

So it was that the revolutionary thinker 
who created so great a panic in the Church, 
by sweeping away the elaborate theologically 
consecrated conceptions of two thousand years 
concerning the mind and looking at it simple 
and naked as it comes forth from the womb, 
was himself almost born in a church. That 
story is long past. Wrington Church so far 
admits its connection with one of the glories 
of English philosophy as to shelter within its 
precincts this soft slab which its flaking surface 
slowly renders indecipherable. 



76 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

July 3. I have been spending a week 
wandering in Somerset, an altogether new 
region to me, between Wells and the sea. I 
have seen many churches and much scenery, 
but the two things that seem to dwell most in 
my memory are not of the rank of accredited 
sights : one the tomb and recumbent effigy 
of the monastic official called Camel, which 
lies in a corner of the church of St. John at 
Glastonbury, I suppose of about the fifteenth 
century, a delightful piece of work to find in 
England ; the other is the mass of fragments 
of highly tinted statuary that are piled up in 
the church of St. Cuthbert at Wells. No record 
of their making seems to be extant ; at all 
events I can find no reference to them among 
the numerous references to St. Cuthbert's in 
the Wells Archives lately printed. It is a 
church of the " Perpendicular " manner, and 
the statuary seems of the same age, the 
end of the fifteenth century or even later, 
the very latest Gothic age, marked by 
facile accomplishment and free romantic charm 
faintly tinged by the approaching Renais- 
sance, the touch on them, as it were, of a 
provincial English Goujon. Torn down and 
broken years ago by Protestant zealots, here 
they lie neglected, piled up on window-ledges 



WELLS CATHEDRAL 77 

and the floor, torso-less heads and headless 
torsos, while the rows of niches in the transept 
stand empty. No guardian of this church 
seems ever to have troubled to call in some 
craftsman, possessed of knowledge and insight, 
to pore over these fascinating fragments, to 
re-read their maker's thoughts, to piece them 
together again in their old niches, to recapture 
something of their gay and variegated beauty. 
It would be well worth doing. The western 
men, gifted with a fitting medium, worked as 
happily in stone as the men of the east counties 
in wood ; and surely this array of images 
must have been one of their happiest final 
efforts. 



July 4. The more I look at the west front 
of Wells Cathedral the less I like it. A be- 
lauded west front no doubt, more so, perhaps, 
than any in England except Peterborough. 
That is a mere meaningless facade, put up 
in a hurry by ambitious monks who were 
reckless of the fact that what they were 
putting up had no organic relation to the 
church behind it and was, therefore, quite 
false. The front of Wells is not false but it 
is crude and incompetent. What we see here, 



78 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

indeed, is not characteristically a west front 
at all, but just a wall, with six great buttresses 
projecting from it and an arcading that runs 
right across it below, while through this 
arcading, as by an afterthought, the west 
door has been awkwardly pierced. One thinks 
of the west front of many a French church, 
so perfectly planned and proportioned, so 
enchantingly beautiful ; and indeed, even in 
England, the west front of, for instance, York 
is lovelier far than this of Wells. It is true 
that the sculpture here at Wells is fine, not 
to be compared with that at Chartres or at 
Rheims, yet as fine no doubt as anywhere in 
England, but it is obscurely and ineffectively 
arranged amid the irrelevant buttresses, hard 
to see, better seen by far in the photographs 
that illustrate the study of English Medieval 
figure sculpture by Prior and Gardner. 

Wells Cathedral remains a charming and 
interesting place, not least so by those access- 
ory buildings which give it so remarkable an 
air of completeness. I come again and again 
to the ancient worn staircase which starts 
from the transept and partly winds round the 
Chapter House and partly goes forward to 
the bridge leading to the delightful Vicars' 
Close, where dwelt the vicars we read about 



MEN OF SOMERSET 79 

in the Archives, who were so incorrigibly 
human, so lazy and insolent and dissipated 
and wanton. 



July 11. There has been a revival of 
interest lately in the writings of Walter 
Bagehot, mainly due to the publication of 
his biography. It is interesting to remark 
among the comments of the critics who have 
thus been led to consider, or to reconsider, 
his work, the recurrence of one note : the 
tameness of Bagehot, his mediocrity, his in- 
ability not only to fall but to rise, his serenely 
limited common sense, unable to recognise the 
unusual and exceptional for all his common 
sense, his perpetual attitudes as of a Tory on 
the spiritual plane. The critics seem to leave 
Bagehot with a regretful feeling of disappoint- 
ment. 

I may note that in all this Bagehot was 
a typical man of Somerset. He was so in 
appearance, with his high colour and sturdy 
form, the representative of a dark-haired race 
which is scarcely Celtic but, we may suspect, 
older and more aboriginal, and he was equally 
of Somerset type in his mental make-up, the 
fellow-countryman of Locke and of Hobbes 



80 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

(highly typical, like Wren also, though both 
came from neighbouring Wiltshire) and of 
Thomas Young, of Pym and of Prynne and 
of Hales the " ever memorable," of the wonder- 
ful Roger Bacon, so daring and so insolent, and 
of Dunstan, if indeed he really belongs here, 
the most versatile as well as the most forceful 
of English saints. They are a sturdy people, 
independent to arrogance, even contentious in 
their caution and scepticism, determined to 
see things clearly and to see them for them- 
selves, and so seeing many things that had 
never been seen before, yet tenacious and 
conservative ; and Father Parsons, the last 
devoted martyr of the ancient faith, was a 
man of Somerset. They are not apt to be 
carried to any point of exaltation. Their 
most authentic poet, before Southey, is Daniel, 
for they are poets in the world of thought, 
even of science, rather than in that of emotion, 
but they are largely responsible for so great a 
figure in English literature as Fielding, and 
entirely, in another field, for Robert Blake, 
while Dampier, alike in his strength and in 
his weakness, is their characteristic son. Their 
ideal state would seem to be a sort of Re- 
publican Toryism in life, and robust Positivism 
in thought. 



POPPIES 81 

Now this is an admirable temper of mind. 
It is the temper of even the greatest and sanest 
spirits. Is it not the temper of Rabelais and 
Montaigne and even Shakespeare ? But those 
great spirits, while they stood firmly on a 
solid, commonplace, if you like, bourgeois 
foundation, instinctively sought to transmute 
it by the fire of passion, a rapturous eloquence, 
a perpetual thirst for an ideal beyond. They 
knew that mediocrity must be golden, they 
carried common sense to the point of heroism, 
they converted commonplace into rapture. 
The men of Somerset were planted stolidly 
enough on the threshold, but rarely passed 
it ; only William Blake, if, as I can well 
believe, he belonged ancestrally to the men of 
Somerset (for I no longer accept the suggested 
and unsupported Irish ancestry), altogether 
dwelt in this House of Flame while yet bearing 
the tenacious spirit of Somerset within him, 
and he was born elsewhere and was most likely 
of a more mixed breed. 



July 17. A thrill of joy passed through me 
as we drove along the beautiful road and my 
eye chanced to fall on the poppies in the field. 
It has always been so since I was a schoolboy 

G 



82 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

and I suppose it always will be. A friend 
said sadly this spring that for her the war 
had taken all their beauty from the daffodils. 
I do not feel that, but rather the reverse. 
Behind the passing insanity of Man the 
beauty of Nature seems to become more 
poignant and her serene orderliness more 
deeply peaceful. So when men tell me how 
they have lived in the trenches ankle-deep 
in human blood, I think how Nature has shed 
these great drops of her pure and more im- 
mortal blood over the green and yellow earth. 
And I dream lingeringly over the poppies in 
the corn at Merton as I went through the 
narrow paths on my way to school, and the 
incarnadined slopes of Catalunia in spring, and 
the rich scarlet of the large fields around the 
beautiful old church of Worstead, and now the 
soft bright red splashes that shine here to-day, 
as we drive among the Chiltern Hills. 

To allow our vision of Nature to be disturbed 
by our vision of Man is to allow the infinitely 
small to outweigh the infinitely great. If we 
keep our eyes fixed on Nature, whose most 
exquisitely fantastic flowers when all is said 
and done we ourselves remain, how little it 
matters ! Voltaire, as his Micromegas remains 
to testify, was wiser. Nature continues the 



THE AMUSING 83 

process of her resurrections, whatever may 
happen to the animalcule Man. 

August 8. A distinguished writer and critic 
is accustomed to say that all writing, how- 
ever serious, must as an essential condition be 
" amusing." That is to say that it should, 
as he would himself probably put it, fulfil 
the Aristotelian demand for perpetual slight 
novelty. The gravest writing is thus sub- 
sumed under the same heading as the pun, 
which has its effect by force of the sudden 
surprise it occasions. Art, even when tragic, 
has this as its fundamental and almost physio- 
logical effect. Even the Gospels, if we enter 
the Kingdom of Heaven in the true child's 
spirit, should be divinely amusing. 

This occurred to me afresh to-day when I 
found myself reading a serious page, which I 
had myself once written and half forgotten, 
with a perpetual slight smile. A reader of 
my most serious books once expressed to a 
friend his uncertainty as to whether I was 
myself aware of the humour he found in them. 
I am glad he felt uncertain. And if it is that 
same perpetual slight smile that plays on 
some reader's face I suppose I should be well 
content. 



84 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

September 12. We have just passed through 
the loveliest week of all the year and the 
harvest has now at length been safely gathered 
in. Yet, once more, I notice the way in which 
some people seriously and deliberately resent 
the beauty of Nature when there is war among 
mankind. This beauty, they say, merely shows 
that Nature is blind and stupid and dead. Now 
that attitude is curious, rather pathetic, a little 
comic. What was it they expected ? 

We could understand such an attitude 
among the inhabitants of a mity cheese, in 
face of the nonchalant serenity of diners who 
eat cheese. We could understand it among 
the last representatives of the Mammoth or 
the Dinosaur, vaguely apprehending that with 
their disappearance from the earth the universe 
would henceforth be shrouded in gloom. But 
it is the peculiar privilege of Man, beyond any 
other animal, to look before and after, to 
pierce with clearer vision the many-coloured 
dome of his world and divine the unstained 
radiance beyond. In so far as he fails to do 
this he is still in the sub-human stage ; in so far 
as he succeeds he is not only more human, he is 
nearer to the all-embracing heart of Nature. 
The more human we are, the better able we 
are to join in singing Nature's exultant song. 



NATURE AND UNNATURE 85 

September 21. Every act of civilisation, I 
read, is an act of rebellion against Nature. 
It is curious how this notion persists. Even 
exquisitely acute people, like Baudelaire, have 
cherished it. One need not proceed to analyse 
the varying ways in which men have used the 
word " Nature," for it has been done before. 
Yet in so far as every act of civilisation is an 
act of rebellion against Nature, so is every 
act of Nature an act of rebellion against the 
Nature that went before, even from the very 
beginning of life. For all life is a tension of 
forces, an elaborately contrived device for 
holding natural tendencies in suspense, an 
interference with an existing order. Every 
chemical combination may be said to be a 
resistance to Nature, an attempt to establish 
an " unnatural " stability which Nature is 
ever seeking to destroy, and this process is 
at play among all the phenomena of life. In 
the same way Nature created the ruminants 
which the carnivores slay, and Man slays them 
both ; it is all equally " unnatural." Man 
clothes himself with skins and adorns himself 
with feathers that were first the clothing 
and the adornment of other creatures. It is 
all unnatural or all natural. The difference 
is that there the method was slowly and 



86 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

unconsciously developed, here swiftly and con- 
sciously. But why in that form more natural 
than in this ? 

We may say, if we like, that Unnature 
came into the world at the outset and has 
continued throughout. Or we may say, if 
we like, that it is all Nature. But there is 
no intermediate position. No doubt, for a 
spirit that lived in the sun or the moon, this 
fantastic planet, Earth, would seem radically 
Unnature, the sea itself, the womb of all life, 
would not be natural ; nothing could be less 
natural than the birds in the air or the beasts 
on the land or the fishes in the sea, all occupied 
with their variegated devices to elude Nature 
as known in the sun or the moon. For my 
own part, I find it all Nature, alive with that 
adorable beauty which rebel against it in our 
foolish moments as we may Nature must in 
the end always hold for us. So that even 
before the wildest aberrations of the human 
imagination I still find myself of Shakespeare's 
mind, and murmur before every art that 
changes Nature, " The art itself is Nature." 



September 24. Incessu patuit dea, wrote 
Virgil. The special gait which suggests the 



THE FEMININE GAIT 87 

goddess is not, indeed, nowadays, if ever, 
necessarily the outcome of any divine occupa- 
tion, but more likely of servile duties. The 
possibilities of beautiful feminine gait were 
first revealed to me as a youth in two persons 
one Cornish, the other Irish I came across in 
Australia, and I recall the charming surprise 
of one of these, the Irishwoman with hieratic 
air, when I told her that I knew that as a girl 
she must have carried burdens on her head. 
When I first began to visit East Anglia I 
noticed the peculiar gait of the young women, 
not often to be seen in a recognisable form but, 
it seemed to me, characteristic when found, 
the expression of reserved energy combined 
with alert vitality, a naturally rapid walk yet 
not hurried, with long easy strides. Just now 
in the dusk, here at Brandon, as we were 
returning to our hotel, a young woman passed 
with the swift large stride of this walk, its 
natural soft footfalls, as of a tiger which had 
acquired respectable businesslike habits, and 
yet still bore the impress of the days that were 
past. 

One cannot but wonder in what recesses 
of intimate energy, or in what remote racial 
experiences, the secret of the idiosyncrasies of 
walking may sometimes lie. For this is perhaps 



88 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

the ancient primitive English walk, that swift 
walk which foreigners noted centuries ago, 
and were puzzled to reconcile with English 
indolence. 



November 1. A charming and vivacious 
woman, highly intelligent, full of interest in 
life, came to lunch with us. A few days after, 
in response to an invitation, she sent a mys- 
terious telegram of farewell. Now, a little 
later, we learn she has made an attempt, 
happily frustrated, at suicide. 

My present feeling and it is to me new and 
accompanied by a sad smile is of the youth- 
fulness of such a proceeding. The search for 
Death, after all, is an index of vitality, of a 
vigour that has too impatiently sought to 
conquer the world's problems and when, for a 
moment, these seem too hard, rushes impuls- 
ively at Death because it knows in its heart 
that it is itself far too alive ever to be sought 
by Death. 

For myself, now when the cataclysm over- 
whelming the world has brought to me a sense 
of age such as I have never had before, the 
search for Death becomes at the same time 
more alien than ever before. When life and 



GULLS IN CORNWALL 89 

strength seem to be ebbing away, the idea of 
actively courting Death grows absurd. Rather 
one's impulse is to remain quiet, as serene and 
self-possessed as may be amid the devasta- 
tion around. Let Death do the courting ! We 
may not be so hard to win, but let the chief 
responsibility be hers. 

November 24. Yesterday I noticed scarcely 
any gulls on the sands of the bay. To-day there 
are thousands of them. I conclude that they 
arrived this morning. This is further indicated 
by the excitement that prevails among them. 
One great band flutters over the water, noisily 
squabbling, and more sober groups silently 
promenade, or stand in meditation, on the 
long stretch of sands. I gather that, like me, 
they are glad to return to their winter home 
from the keen war of the elements farther 
north. I imagine that they still cherish the 
faith which also never forsakes me that amid 
the soft rains of this beautiful air it is possible 
to cross the abyss of winter on the bridge of 
a rainbow. 

January 4, 1916. I have been reading 
Herodotus for just thirty years and I am yet 



90 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

far frdm the final book of Calliope. (I still 
read him, as I began, in English, in the 
eighteenth - century version of Beloe, which I 
imagine to be the best, even if not minutely 
accurate, just as the pretentious, commonplace, 
and bowdlerised translation of Rawlinson must 
surely be the worst.) The extreme slowness of 
my passage through this Univej-sal History is 
the index of my joy in the journey. Every 
chapter and how many of them there are ! 
seems made to linger over for the ravishment 
of its delicate surface, and the richness of its 
unplumbed depth. Herodotus is in this, in- 
deed, more especially delightful that he com- 
bines harmoniously two opposed qualities : a 
beautiful naivety of surface and beneath it a 
profound suggestiveness. His immensely varied 
wealth of detail is always interesting even for 
its own picturesque sake, and never trivial 
even when it concerns the smallest things of 
life, because it is always chosen by the hand of 
a supreme artist. But beneath it is an inex- 
haustible significance. All the problems of life 
and of knowledge are presented here, clues to 
all the solutions of them since devised are here 
to be caught at. So that no book is so rich 
for the student as Herodotus, so suggestive in 
every field. Moreover, the style of Herodotus 



HERODOTUS 91 

exactly fits the vast range of his task and the 
twofold aspect of his mind, at once childlike 
artist and inquisitive philosopher. His sudden 
disconcerting queries, his strange silences, his 
faith that half dissolves into scepticism and his 
scepticism that almost crystallises into faith 
make him the most admirably truthful of 
historians. No one has better understood that, 
as Renan said, it is in a nuance that truth lies. 
To the narrow-minded and prosaic Greeks of 
his own time and to their successors in all later 
ages, Herodotus has been the Father of Lies, 
just as his successor, Pythias the Herodotus, 
as we know to-day, of Northern Europe 
wrongfully became the originator of romantic 
novels of adventure. The spirit of Herodotus 
brooded over the elemental, the volcanic, the 
mysterious, the hazardous ; human nature 
holds all these, in their vastness and in their 
smallness, so that to the degree in which 
we love human nature we must needs love 
Herodotus. 

If I were in doubt as to the fascination 
of Herodotus I should only have to read in 
Thucydides. One is not called upon to question 
the great qualities of Thucydides, his psycho- 
logical insight, his analytic grip of political 
life, for he is a modern and among the first of 



92 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

moderns. But after one has lived in the great 
world of Herodotus, to adjust oneself to the 
little world of Thucydides is not easy. Here, 
one feels, is the spirit of the people for whom 
Herodotus with his wide-ranging survey of life 
was simply a liar, here we are in the familiar 
world of high-sounding rhetoric, yet a world of 
concentrated and almost passionate parochial- 
ism. The virtue of Thucydides lies in his intense 
and penetrating vision of the political squabbles 
of this petty world. 

With Herodotus we are lifted above pro- 
vincialism into the sphere of eternity. He 
wrote the only first-hand history of the world 
that will ever be written. And he was of the 
heroic Greek lineage, a man of the Ionian Sea 
of the tribe of Ulysses, the forerunner not 
only of Pythias of Marseilles but of that 
Posidonius whose lost Travels we English, as 
we read the vivid little fragments that alone 
survive, must ever regret. 



January 16. Some one has brought me a 
spray of mimosa. I inhale its peculiar odour, 
not a specially delightful odour, which suggests 
honey and bruised leaves and, underneath, a 
fibrous stringiness, yet to me it brings an en- 



A SPRAY OF MIMOSA 93 

larging thrill which is endlessly delicious. At 
once I am transported across the gulf of forty 
years. I see again the Australian springtime 
when these gracious, drooping, golden wattles 
are sprinkled over the vast expanse of solitary, 
undulating bush in the bright sunlight. I am 
among them once more at the threshold of the 
world, still with swelling hope and tremulous 
fear before the yet unopened door of Life. All 
the wistful, penetrating, exhilarant fragrance 
of youth is in this spray of mimosa. 



February 13. The beauty of sunrise always 
comes to me as a new revelation, after however 
weary and anxious a night, and the dawn of day 
as the miraculous creation of a world I never 
saw before. In part it may be because the 
sunrise is less familiar to me than the sunset, 
and its beauty, here over the sea, much more 
exquisite, and therefore much more inspiring. 

That is not all of it. Nor yet that we may 
reflect our own morning freshness on to the 
one scene, our own evening weariness on to 
the other. The one is really and naturally an 
inspiration, and the symbol of it, just as the 
other is an expiration, and the natural symbol 
of all expiring light and life into approaching 



94 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

darkness or death. The slow unveiling of the 
beauty of a naked and sleeping world by the 
increasing mighty strength of a hidden sun 
which at last heaves itself above the horizon 
to pour the vitalising glow of its beams into 
our blood, must needs bring a massive ex- 
hilaration of body and spirit we can scarcely 
else experience. 

It is this same feeling on another plane 
which moves us with a perpetual joy as the 
days grow long, and chills us with a grey 
dread as the days grow short. These two 
movements are the annual diastole and systole 
of our earthly sphere, the World-Heart made 
on the pattern of the little human heart. 



March 21. In coelo quies. I used to be 
taken as a boy to the ancient church at Merton 
where the Irish vicar, unknown to fame but 
the most genuinely eloquent of preachers, 
would pour forth the extravagant flood of a 
simple and unrestrained emotion that never 
toppled over into absurdity, and his beautiful 
and flexible voice would breathe forth the even- 
ing prayers as though they were a new song 
that had never been uttered before, and from 
the pulpit rise with thunder that filled the 



"IN COELO QUIES" 95 

twilight church and then sink to a whisper, 
while the Anglo-Saxon villagers sat in stolidly 
devout indifference, so that out of all his con- 
gregation perhaps only one truly heard, and 
he a little boy whose eyes would be fascinated 
by the old helmet suspended over the reading 
desk or wandering on the wall near him to the 
marble tablet set up by the widow of Captain 
Cook, or become fixed on the row in the nave 
vaulting of painted escutcheons, on one of 
which, above all, for some reason the motto 
appealed to him : In coelo quies. 

In coelo quies. He knew what the words 
meant, but he could not know that they con- 
stitute a strange Christian motto and hold a 
significance deeper than any special religious 
faith, the last aspiration of men for whom life 
has been a battle, and the earth a scene of 
turmoil without and agitation within, as in the 
end life and the earth are for all of us, so that 
in this profound ejaculation they summed up 
the Vision of Rest, the Heaven which for 
Monk and Agnostic remains the same : In 
coelo quies. 

In coelo quies. Again and again through the 
troubled course of life on earth, when the heart 
is torn by its own pain, or the pain of the hearts 
it loves, or the pain of the whole world, I see 



96 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

that escutcheon aloft, and the benediction of 
that old saying softly falls : In coelo quies. 



March 30. A woman has shown me a crude 
and unpleasant letter written to her by a man 
I had (with perhaps too much forgetfulness of 
psycho-analytic doctrine) imagined to be re- 
fined, and he has defended himself with the 
plea that " to the pure all things are pure." 
It is perhaps not an uncommon experience. 

" To the pure all things are pure." It may 
be the truth. But I sometimes wish St. Paul 
had stated that hazardous truth in another 
form and declared that to the impure all things 
are impure. 

The sea receives much filth into its broad 
bosom, and beneath the vital action of sun and 
wind and a pervading antiseptic salinity, it is 
all transmuted into use and beauty and the 
invigorating breath of ozone. But some narrow 
and enclosed minds are not so much like the 
sea as like the sewer. I object to the sewer 
pretending to a virtue which is the prerogative 
of those minds only which are like the sea. 



May 21. This is the first day of the new 



" SUMMER TIME " 97 

" Summer Time," a bright and hot morning 
when every one may well rejoice at an excuse 
for getting up an hour earlier. Yet only the 
pressure of war has induced us to adopt that 
excuse so simple, merely to put one's watch an 
hour ahead. Too simple it seems to the more 
misoneistic among us, who grumble and protest, 
whose consciences revolt against this arbitrary, 
artificial, untruthful, dishonest, immoral in- 
terference with the Course of Nature. In the 
House of Lords, the solid bulwark of our miso- 
neism, for good or for evil, it has been pointed 
out that of twins born in the early hours of this 
morning the second may become the first-born, 
and where would the sacred rights of primo- 
geniture be then ? The sheep-like majority of 
less stout-hearted opponents has followed more 
meekly the line of least resistance. 

Let us hope it may be a helpful demonstra- 
tion to them of the fact that Life is built up 
on Conventions and Illusions. Even Time, we 
see, comes within the category. We had but 
to say Let there be light ! and there was light. 
It may, however, have been as well that the 
minority so stoutly opposed that exercise of 
creative will, for we should not be too easily 
conscious of our Conventions and our Illusions. 
We must always accept them solemnly, as the 

H 



98 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

Confucian accepts solemnly his beautiful and 
profound conception of the Moral World as 
based on Ceremony and Music. 



June 21. It is good to leave behind all the 
passionate and pathetic problems of war to 
find refuge for a few days in Saffron Walden. 
The north-western and most remote corner of 
Essex which Saffron Walden dominates is now 
outside the great main tracks, and an in- 
significant branch line serves all its railway 
needs. But it is yet the capital town of a 
district which from the earliest historic and 
even pre-historic times has been found desirable 
among the forests and marshes which covered 
the region around, and many successive popula- 
tions Britons and Romans and Saxons and 
Normans have left their mark here and helped 
to build up this ancient and interesting town. 
So it is that Saffron Walden stands like a little 
metropolis, full of archaeology and history 
and beauty, which is cherished with a local 
patriotism nowadays rare to find in English 
towns. 

The special note of Walden is well struck 
in its Museum, which stands in the grounds 
between its splendid church and the mound 



SAFFRON WALDEN 99 

associated with the last fragments of its Castle. 
In this fascinating place surely the best 
Museum to be found in any small English 
town we have spent hours of enjoyment each 
day. Here we have discussed the problems 
aroused by the Saxon skeletons and their 
ornaments, have learnt better to understand 
flint instruments, have delighted in the East 
Anglian' s art in wood as compared with the 
florid vigour of the Flemish panels also placed 
here ; we have become more intimate with our 
ancestors through seeing the wall decorations 
they lived with ; we have gazed at the charm- 
ing frieze of the house where Gabriel Harvey 
spent his obscure old age, at the gauntlet which 
Mary of Scots gave to the Master of Fotheringay 
on the day she died, at the waistcoat of William 
Pitt. When at last the versatile and accom- 
plished Curator, who has given to his unknown 
visitors so much of his precious time (for he is 
occupied in making the Museum, what it should 
be, a living educative centre), accompanies us 
to the door on the hour of closing, " You were 
speaking of Flemish art," he remarks ; "if you 
stand by the wall here you will hear the guns 
in Flanders." We stood silent, and in a 
moment or two, when we had learnt how to 
direct our attention, we heard or, rather, we 



100 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

felt the repeated thuds of those death-dealing 
guns one hundred and fifty miles away. 

So it is that we are swiftly brought back 
again from the glad problems of the past to 
the sad problems of the present. And inevit- 
ably one thinks of the days to come when these 
" battles long ago " will have taken their serene 
little place in the Museum, among the other 
" old forgotten far-off things." 



June 22. As we walk through the long 
village street of Great Chesterford famous as 
an important military post which has yielded 
interesting vestiges of Roman occupation I 
note that a little old inn at the farther end is 
kept by one Walter Whitman. It is a little 
startling to see that familiar name in so un- 
familiar an environment. I recall that the 
Emersons (as Dr. Emerson, the historian of the 
family, has in recent years found reason to 
conclude) came from Saffron Walden, four miles 
away, and on enquiring we find that the 
Whitmans have long been settled here, the inn 
itself having been built by a Whitman, who in 
an unusual but Whitmanian spirit has left a 
" Song of Himself " on the front wall in the 
large bold letters, " R. I. W. 1792." Was he 



WHITMAN'S ANCESTRY 101 

related to the Joseph Whitman, Walt's earliest- 
known ancestor, who came from England some 
century and a half earlier and is found settled 
in New England by 1655 ? Ralph Waldo 
Emerson was the first to recognise with hearty 
generosity the genius of Walt Whitman, and it 
would be pleasant to think that when his 
ancestor Thomas Emerson left England in 
1635 he was accompanied by his friend and 
neighbour, Joseph Whitman. 1 



June 29. I have been to the funeral of an 
aged friend at a crematorium in South London. 
It was conducted according to the rites of the 
English Church by the chaplain attached to 
the cemetery, and I was interested to see how 
those rites would be adapted to the special 
requirements of a funeral by cremation, which 
I have never witnessed before. 

The wreath-burdened coffin was set down 
near folding doors, and the cheerful hearty 
parson mounted a rostrum and in a full round 
voice, without once moving from his post, 

1 The vicar was subsequently kind enough to look the matter up 
in the Registers of the Parish, and found that the name Whitman 
first appears in 1749 ; so that Joseph Whitman can scarcely have 
come from Great Chesterford, though he may possibly have belonged 
to the district, for in the early seventeenth century, I have ascer- 
tained, there were Whitmans in Hertfordshire as well as in Norfolk. 



102 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

went straight through the whole Office, but 
with one highly important change : he omitted 
the address " Forasmuch " appointed at the 
graveside when the coffin is lowered into the 
earth. As the swift vocal stream equably 
flowed but apparently at no fixed point in 
the stream a black-robed verger appeared and 
quietly pushed the coffin through the folding 
doors which opened and then closed behind 
him, so imperceptibly that the principal 
mourners never even saw this part of the 
service. Then, when the Benediction was 
reached, the chaplain, having performed his 
duty, a gramophone might have done as 
much, skeltered out of the chapel and the 
mourners were free to disperse. 

No doubt the world will continue to subsist, 
rites or no rites. Yet as long as rites are 
carried out and that will be very long they 
should at least be fitting and beautiful rites. 
Whether a man makes it his business to lay 
bricks or to say prayers, there is a right way 
and a wrong way. It is best that he should 
exercise his finest skill and intelligence in 
discovering the right way. This man to-day 
has been faced by the problem of adapting a 
rite which was beautifully fitted to burial by 
inhumation to burial by fire, and all that he 



THE BURIAL SERVICE 103 

can think to do is to throw away exactly that 
portion of the rite which is the core of the 
whole Office. 

The priest is indeed here for nothing else 
but to bid, with all the authority of his sacred 
function, a solemn and auspicious Farewell to 
the Dead at the moment of entering the grave, 
that Charon's boat which is to carry him to 
a far and unknown shore. At this moment, 
when about to pass for ever from human eyes 
and human fellowship, the dead brother or 
sister was directly addressed for the last time 
by the priest, who stooped to cast earth three 
times on the Departed. It is true that the 
original rite has been modified, so that the 
priest's Address is now made to the bystanders 
who also are now left to cast in the earth. 
These are changes in the rite that ought never 
to have been made, for they seriously impair its 
dramatic beauty and its symbolic significance. 
But to omit the Address altogether, and to let fall 
every symbolic act, is to eviscerate the rite. 

Why should it be forgotten that fire and 
flame, as the Church has always known, are 
at least as fit for symbolic ends as earth ? 
The priest has but to say when he reaches the 
Address : " We therefore commit his body to 
the Fire, ashes to ashes, dust to dust," with one 



104 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

hand placed on the coffin as he accompanies it 
through the folding doors to the furnace and 
then returns to the mourners to complete the 
Office, uttering as he reappears the words next 
following : "I heard a voice from Heaven." 
Thus, with the slightest and most obvious 
change, the Anglican order for the Burial of 
the Dead could be adapted to the Cremation 
of the Dead with a heightening rather than an 
impairment of its fitting beauty. It is difficult 
to believe that a Church with any vital energy 
could so disregard what it holds to be the chief 
business of a Church, the Ordering of Rites. 



July 8. " We saw the Germans coming up 
from the exits of a dug-out and tearing off 
down the trench. Our platoon commander 
got into the trench and picked the Huns off 
as they came out. He had a mouth of th^ 
dug-out on either side of him. A Hun would 
rush out of No. 1 exit over he went. Then 
one from No. 2 and over he went. Our officer 
was as cool as a cucumber ; he simply turned 
from right to left and fired as if he was in a 
Shooting Saloon." It is the platoon sergeant 
telling a journalist for to-day's paper of the 
recent British assault at Montauban. 



CONSCRIPTION 105 

Here they are at work, all the purifying 
and regenerating virtues of war, over which 
Hegel and Moltke and Treitschke grew raptur- 
ous, in actual operation at last. Those dis- 
tinguished Germans might regret they had not 
foreseen that, as on this occasion, such grand 
virtues might sometimes be monopolised by 
an enemy. My own regret is that the English- 
man had not been permitted to acquire them 
in what the sergeant evidently thought the 
most fitting place, the Shooting Saloon. 



July 9. Amid all the un - English Re- 
actionary measures which nourish in the war- 
fevered England of to-day, however apt they 
may be to arouse one's indignation or one's 
contempt, I cannot sometimes help feeling a 
certain mischievous pleasure. 

I observe how, after our English voluntary 
system has triumphantly created great armies, 
Welshmen and Irishmen and Scotchmen, with 
a few violently patriotic " Englishmen " bear- 
ing mysteriously barbarous and unfamiliar 
names, rush on to the scene to gather in the 
handful of more or less incompetent men yet 
left as an anti-climax to enforce the lesson of 
English voluntaryism. Every compulsionist is 



106 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

a coward (for that is why he is a compulsionist, 
he cannot believe in the freedom of courage), 
and it is just as well that he should show 
himself so, meanly and pettily, pursuing the 
Englishmen of freer and sturdier spirit, pioneers 
of our civilisation who will be lashed into a 
nobler spirit of freedom by this spectre of 
compulsion. I observe, too, how nowadays 
Folly, which had lurked so long in its gloomy 
official caverns in Whitehall or elsewhere, stalks 
abroad unabashed, to exhibit its insolent face 
in the unlikeliest places, so that henceforth we 
may know it for what it is. 

It is a fine sowing time, the Devil scattering 
tares that look like wheat, while wheat also is 
scattered that looks like tares. And I smile 
as I seem to hear the Mills of God already 
grinding. 



October 14. " As though the emerald should 
say, ' Whatever happens I must be emerald.' : 
From of old that saying of Marcus Aurelius 
has been in my thoughts, and now, as the tide 
of life recedes and I am left more and more 
alone, it has sunk deeper than ever and even 
becomes endeared. 

One may ask : Why cherish the virtue of a 



THE EMERALD 107 

mere stone, as it were a pebble cast up on the 
shore ? The virtue of vitality lies in response, 
in a perpetual internal adjustment to external 
changes. The virtue of the emerald is for 
living things death. 

Yet, on the other hand, all the progress of 
life towards its highest forms is by increased 
stability and greater fixity. It is the lower 
forms of life which yield to a touch and adapt 
themselves to every wind of influence. All 
high life is associated with increased inhibition 
by the higher centres over the irritable auto- 
nomic system. It is the lower human beings in 
whom response is so easy and so swift. 

So like the magnet that is held towards the 
north, I am fixed in continuous vital tension 
towards my Polar Star. " As though the 
emerald should say : ' Whatever happens I 
must be emerald.' " 



November 12. I see that an able publicist, 
of Pacifist tendency, writes to the papers to 
protest against the establishment of any inter- 
national organisation to ensure peace. He is 
an advocate of international peace, but the 
idea that there should be any organised force 
to ensure peace revolts him. 



108 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

But is he proposing to abolish the local 
policeman ? I feel complacently sure of my 
own moral rectitude. I feel convinced that 
when I walk along my street I shall not assault 
my neighbour or pick his pocket. But I do 
not object that a policeman should be strolling 
along the footpath, for, however conscious of 
my own moral rectitude, I am not conscious 
of my neighbour's. In fact I have serious 
suspicions about him. Therefore I view with 
satisfaction the presence of that policeman, 
who need not concern himself with my doings, 
but is, I trust, keeping an eye on my neighbour. 

Now my relation to my neighbour may be 
extended and generalised to all the people in 
my street. It may be pushed further to in- 
clude all the people in my parish, still further 
to apply to the whole city, beyond that to the 
county, to the whole country, to the continent 
to which my country is adjacent, and finally 
to the whole world. 

We are all agreed as to the principle and 
method which should be adopted to keep the 
peace between me and my neighbour, and that 
it should be extended to the whole group of 
my neighbours. But why are there people so 
dense as not to see that there is no limit to 
that extension ? Whether we are dealing with 



SIR HIRAM MAXIM 109 

a group of two people or of two hundred million 
people, we are. alike dealing with individuals, 
moved by the same interests and the same 
passions. The only difference is that the 
larger groups are still more potent for evil 
because here the devastating facts of crowd- 
psychology come into play. Whatever fancy 
names you give to the larger groups, there is 
nothing sacrosanct about them ; they remain 
groups of individuals. If you can dispense 
with the policeman for your small group of 
individuals, well and good, I am delighted to 
hear it. If you cannot dare to dispense with 
the policing of the small groups, still less can 
you dare to do it for those larger and infinitely 
more dangerous groups which call themselves 
nations. 

But : Quis custodiet ipsos custodes ? Always 
remember to see to it that those guardians are 
themselves guarded. 



November 30. I hear that Sir Hiram Maxim 
is dead. That news recalls to mind my only 
personal impression of the man to whom we 
owe the deadliest of all the deadly machines 
which are now destroying the populations of 
Europe. 



110 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

It was more than thirty years ago and we 
stood around Maxim as he .explained the 
mechanism of his gun and demonstrated its 
marvellous qualities. I still see the mild and 
childlike air, so often marking the man of 
inventive genius, the modest yet well-satisfied 
smile, with which he deftly and affectionately 
manipulated his beautiful toy. As we looked 
on, one of us asked reflectively : " But will 
not this make war very terrible ? 5: " No ! " 
replied Maxim confidently. " It will make war 
impossible ! " 

So it is the dreamers, the children of genius, 
who for thousands of years have been whisper- 
ing into the ears of Mankind that insidious 
delusion : Si vis pacem para bellum. Even the 
brilliant inventor who in the dawn of the Metal 
Age first elongated the useful dagger-like knife 
into the dangerous sword was doubtless con- 
fident that he had made war impossible. 



December 8. As I lay this morning, travers- 
ing with aching head a worn path of anxious 
thought, there suddenly flashed before my 
mind, out of all apparent connection with 
my thoughts, the momentary vision of a land- 
scape which can scarcely ever have appeared 



A CAPRICE OF MEMORY 111 

in memory since I last saw it forty years ago : 
a rough and deserted log-hut, of no beauty or 
interest or any slightest personal association, 
among scattered trees in the Bush some twenty 
miles from Carcoar, on the other side of the 
world. It never attracted my interested atten- 
tion when I sometimes passed it, always with 
a book in my hand, I never paused to examine 
it, there was no reason why it should ever 
again recur to memory after my twelve months' 
stay in that neighbourhood ended. And now, 
by some inexplicable chance, the swift plough- 
share of consciousness for one brief moment 
throws up to the surface of the brain this 
trivial and minute relic of the far past. 

What infinite riches in a small room ! What 
innumerable forgotten visions of the world 
stored away among the convolutions of a few 
ounces of watery tissue ! My days are spent 
with the past. And into the never-ending 
procession of significant memories there enters 
this vain image holding, or not, some latent 
associated symbolism out of the depths of 
a reservoir that can never be measured or 
exhausted. 



January 21, 1917. One seeks painfully to 



112 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

gather together such shreds of benefit as may 
be found by searching among the wreck of 
war. There seems to be one such thread, 
helpful for life and for literature, in an in- 
creased courage to face facts and an increased 
daring to express them. The official war films 
of the front present to the Cinema public, in 
at all events some degree of naked reality, 
pictures which it would have been impossible 
to present before. That is characteristic of a 
general change of attitude. People are not 
ashamed to think about all sorts of things they 
never acknowledged they thought about before, 
and they say all sorts of things which before 
they were much too prudish to say, or to allow 
any one else to say. 

This is on the credit side of the War account. 
Not that the coarseness of vulgarity is a gain 
in literature or in life. On the contrary, it is 
a deadly loss from which we have long been 
suffering. For it sadly happens that base 
minds have the power of smearing with their 
own filth the words which stand for lovely 
things. By their action literature and life 
become degraded for us all. It needs sensitive, 
supple, and pure minds to preserve the words 
which stand for sacred things, and to carry 
forward that widening and deepening of human 



THE METAPHYSICAL MOUSE 113 

experience in which the life of literature 
consists. But it also needs minds that are 
strong and daring. Let us be thankful if the 
War is helping men it is perhaps the only 
way in which it can help literature to a little 
more courage. 



February 26. For several mornings in suc- 
cession I have been awakened just before dawn 
by a mouse gnawing on the farther side of the 
wainscot. In the deep silence the crunching of 
his incisors fills the air, and mighty jaws seem 
to be tearing away what sound like huge 
splinters. As I lie in a half-dreaming state 
listening to his tormenting activities, imagina- 
tion involuntarily suggests to me gratifying 
pictures of the tortures which ought to be 
inflicted upon him. 

Yet I sometimes wonder what may be the 
psychic state of my mouse who seeks so 
persistently and so fruitlessly to penetrate the 
mystery of his universe at that particular 
point. Surely his fellows must shake their 
heads and seek to persuade him, at all events 
by their own sagacious practical example, that 
probably nothing is there but Infinite Wood. 
And all the time there lurks in my mouse's 

i 



114 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

mind the germ of the intuition that things are 
not what they seem ; that Something lies 
behind phenomena. 

So I grow reconciled with my tormenting 
mouse, for I reflect that he is inaugurating 
that metaphysical attitude of mind which after 
long aeons becomes consciously and deliberately 
embodied in the philosophy of a Kant. 



March 24. I recall, many years ago, in the 
train from Paris to Calais, an awkward elderly 
obviously distressed Englishman, with a French 
newspaper in his hand though he evidently 
knew no French. At length, without a word, 
he thrust the paper into the hands of two 
young Frenchmen sitting near him and pointed 
to a paragraph. They read it gravely and 
handed it back as sympathetically as their 
ignorance of English permitted. I gathered 
from their remarks that an English jockey 
had been killed on a French racecourse. This 
was evidently his father, summoned to Paris, 
and now returning after the funeral. There 
was something so pathetic, so childlike, in the 
grief that thus blindly craved for sympathy, 
the little picture has always remained clearly 
printed on my memory. 



THE BREATH OF SPRING 115 

I think now that, however socially repressed, 
that represents the natural human instinct. 
When the ache of grief is at the heart, well- 
bred friends avoid with care anything that 
might touch on the subject of grief. They 
dread lest they might open a scarcely healed 
wound or, as they may quaintly put it, recall 
painful memories, and we also are too well-bred 
to obtrude our sorrow. But we are all children 
at heart, and the vision of my drab, awkward, 
grief - stricken, childish, old fellow - passenger 
now comes back to my mind. 



April 8 Easter Sunday. When the first 
breath of spring is felt in the air, always there 
comes into my blood the impulse to pack my 
bag, to start for afar, to wander in some new 
and beautiful land, among some strange and 
attractive folk, to celebrate the Easter resurrec- 
tional festival of the earth's new life which 
may well be the oldest of human religious 
rites. For three years the gates of the outer 
world have been closed to me. Three years 
ago, to-day, I stood beneath the rich loveliness 
of the windows of Rheims and could scarcely 
leave them, drawn to that now veiled shrine of 
beauty, for the first and last time, by what 



116 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

premonition of tragedy. For the whole world 
has been revolutionised since, left naked and 
poorer, as I, too, have been left. Now as I 
listen dreamingly to music there seems to 
arise once more within me some impulse from 
the past, the old call of the palmer's scrip, the 
old desire of the pilgrim's staff. But when I 
turn and consider, I know that it is not the 
old call nor the old desire. I seem to be 
conscious of some vaster pilgrimage that I 
can but dimly discern. " When thou wast 
young," I seem to hear, " thou girdest thyself 
and walked whither thou wouldst. But when 
thou shalt be old ! " 

May 20. " She corrupted him from beyond 
the grave." Those words of Flaubert's con- 
cerning Charles Bovary have always seemed to 
me to reveal a profound insight, and now they 
come back to me afresh. Not indeed that they 
are to be accepted only in their narrow meaning. 
That Emma Bovary was a destructive rather 
than a constructive element at work on her 
weak husband was merely an accident of his 
nature and of hers. The more fundamental 
fact is the power, the heightened power, which 
those whom we love possess when they are 
dead. It is a power which is increased rather 



FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE 117 

than diminished by the length of time we have 
known them. During that time an infinite 
number of new delicate fibres have grown in 
the brain, of new associational anastomoses with 
old fibres, of nuclei of latent explosive energy. 
We felt them during the life of the person 
who determined their growths, now and again, 
pleasurably or painfully, but on the whole 
scarcely consciously at all. But the irrevocable 
fact of death at once causes an acute activity 
in their vast and complex organism. All the 
fibres that for the most part lay latent or 
functioned automatically become throbbingly 
sensitive, and awake to tortured consciousness 
at a touch. And these touches are unceasing. 
At every moment there is some circumstance 
in the outer life, some impulse in the inner life, 
that strikes one of these nerves, evoking a pro- 
longed vibration which absorbs all the being. 
We realise that we are caught in a net, from 
which there is no escape, for it is a net which 
is made of the substance of all our experience 
and woven with the fibres of all our brain. 
Now that net has come to life and is drawn 
around us and is pressing us with a subtle but 
irresistible force, corrupting us from beyond the 
grave, or exalting us into the finest shapes our 
nature may take. 



118 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

May 26. After long years I lie once more 
on the daisied grass by the lake in this delicately 
made corner of Man's earth. Against a back- 
ground of blue sky, and the mingled songs of 
birds, and green repose, and radiant blossoming, 
at this loveliest moment of the year, I see, 
under the trees afar, the little groups as of 
Watteau's Fetes Champetres, but can scarcely 
see their modern sandwiches and thermos flasks, 
nor hear their Cockney chatter. Once more I 
have inhaled, so far as one may in this northern 
clime, the fragrance of the magnolias, the 
fragrance that haunted me forty years ago 
on the other side of the world, and brooded 
over the cloudy violet fields of bluebells, and 
revelled in the flaming splendour of the azaleas, 
insolent in their Chinese perversity, as though 
their rare leaves were flowers, and their profuse 
flowers mere leaves. 

Yet all the time my thoughts have been less 
with the flowers than with women I once 
wandered and lingered with here among them, 
dear women who felt the beauty of the world 
with a keen inexpressible ecstasy, the birth- 
right, maybe, of those who are fated to leave 
it too soon. All around are spots endeared to 
me for ever because burdened with the memory 
of some playful mood, some daring gesture, 



NATURE AND MAN 119 

some hour of sweet or serious converse. Whether 
they are happier who are at rest, I ask myself, 
or I who wander and linger here alone, yet 
not alone, since the memory of their rapture 
remains to sharpen my sad joy. 



June 2. 

The West winds for awhile delay ; 

The dark boughs shiver overhead ; 
Let no light daffodil betray 

Us to forgetfulness of our dead. 

The anthropocentric fallacy seems still strong 
at the heart of our poetasters (one need not 
use the name in any offensive sense), and I 
never cease to resent it. If we are to insist 
that Nature must reserve her supreme sym- 
pathy for Man Man who of all creatures has 
most outrageously violated her ! surely we 
may rather imagine her as seeking to console 
his sorrow by beauty than as desiring to heighten 
his bitterness by rigour. 

But what is Man anyhow that Nature should 
be mindful of him ? There has not in fact been 
even coincidence to natter the fallacy this year, 
for the belated spring has broken out at last in 
an incomparable efflorescence of splendour. Let 
us be glad ! It were no comfort for Nature to 



120 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

turn all a plumed hearse for my grief. Let me 
rather drink of all the heavenly joy that she 
can give and learn, if I can, to merge personal 
loss in that impersonal flame of glory which 
for ever burns up the pains and dross of life, 
of all life and not alone of our human life. 
Even our poetasters themselves, whom the 
agony of the time has called into being, belie 
their own faith, and the fragments of song 
they shed abroad, their brilliant half-formed 
flowers, are mere faint symbols of Nature, a 
new incarnation of her purificatory process. 



June 7. Life seems to me now mostly a 
dream. It is a common saying and I use it in 
the common way, for the men who have said 
it forgot that in dreaming life seems anything 
but a dream and we agonise and argue against 
some oppressing fate that in our waking 
moments we might approach with more forti- 
tude. Life to-day seems to me a dream that, 
as is not the case in dreams, I know to be a 
dream. 

The world is warm and lovely on this half- 
forsaken Kentish coast. The old houses charm 
one with their reminiscent Flemish gables, the 
hawthorn blooms in vigorous luxuriance as if 



KENT 121 

to comfort us a little for the laburnums that 
fade and fall ; this eastern sea, that is always 
dull let the sun shine as it will, is lit up here 
and there by luggers with rich red-brown sails 
that rejoice my soul, and over it hang always, 
as once for Rossetti at Birchington not far 
away, the heavy mists in the offing, " aweary 
with all their wings " ; everything here has its 
own beauty, a deep inner human beauty, so 
unlike the aerial beauty of my extinguished 
Paradise of the West. 

Gay dragon-fly aeroplanes swiftly hum across 
the sky, flashing silver in the sun. And now 
and again, perhaps towards evening, the siren 
hoots its warning along the coast and in- 
candescent gleams send their signal from the 
sea, and soon swiftly breaks out the roar of 
anti-aircraft guns against invisible raiders, and 
however anti-militant one may be, a wave of 
exhilaration surges up within at the possibly 
impending danger, the certain clash of death 
close at hand. 

Yet, more often here, my eyes seem to swim 
and dream in tears. For me, too, as for so 
many others, two worlds seem dead, an outer 
world across the Channel that I shared with 
my fellows and an inner that my own heart 
held. In these two lines of coast an old circle 



122 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

of memories in which for me both these worlds 
once moved comes to sensitive life again. I 
look across towards Ostend, pounded perhaps 
to death by our great bombarding guns, which 
boom now and again, till they seem to strike 
the ground I stand on, and I think of happy 
days when I wandered along its broad front 
and saw the splendid sun over the western sea 
towards my England, and I think of eager 
little feet that will never trip along that front 
again. And it is not so much I that dream, 
but the world itself that has become a dream 
of dead pasts while I who live have yet no life 
for any new dream. So to me, too, in the end 
there comes home the foolish and haunting 
echo 

And oh ! the song the sea sings 
Is dark everlastingly. 



July 2. Years ago, when I dwelt in the 
Temple, I would walk up and down the Em- 
bankment between Charing Cross and Black- 
friars, never weary of contemplating that lovely 
and slowly shifting scene as the magic fairyland 
of twilight passed into the deeper beauty of 
night. But in those days one's vision had 
always to exercise a certain selection ; to lose 



THE EMBANKMENT 123 

oneself in the exhilaration of that loveliness 
one had to be voluntarily blind to elements of 
tawdry vulgarity and glare. 

To-night once more after many years I came 
along the Embankment between eleven and 
midnight. It was a perfect night, with soft 
and lucent air and a large moon that silvered 
the rippling water. For the first time I saw 
all the loveliness complete which before I had 
by an effort partly to divine. Every vulgar 
note, every glaring tone, had altogether gone. 
Everywhere harmony, everything standing 
nobly in the deep perspective of its own proper 
light, with an enthralling power of calm and 
solemn beauty. Here Nature and Man have 
clasped hands in a dream of ecstasy. I can 
recall no such magnificent vision anywhere in 
the world. To think that we owe it to the 
agony of the world ! 

October 20. The moonlight nights in London 
during the last four days, with the subdued 
artificial light giving full value to the light of 
Nature, have been of rare beauty. They have 
recalled to me, as nearly as London nights can, 
the moonlight night which always remains in 
memory as the loveliest I ever knew in Eng- 
land, the night on the slope at Hindhead when 



124 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

Tennyson lay dying close by at Haslemere. But 
there is a difference which a while ago we could 
scarcely even have conceived. The serene 
October moonlight at Haslemere was a fitting 
background to a poet's departure from the 
scene of life. But this London October moon- 
light is the surprising decor de theatre of a 
different play never before produced. Just 
now it is performed by night, and even in this 
short run it has already fallen into a smooth 
methodical order, creditable, no doubt, to all 
concerned. The preparations begin at six. It 
is then that notices are sent along the streets, 
and the large cars and vans begin to draw up 
in front of the Police Station opposite to which 
I live. A little later a sheep -like flock of 
people begin to hurry into the Station, which 
seems able to swallow down an incredible 
number into its cellars, in this theatre function- 
ing as the Pit. Meanwhile the preparations 
continue to be carried on, quite calmly but with 
all promptness. An inspector whistles, calls 
out a man's name and the name is passed along ; 
immediately a car drives up to the gates and 
departs on its mission. Then a dozen or two 
special constables leap swiftly up into a van 
provided with benches for the present purpose 
and are whirled away ; in a few minutes the 



A 

AN AIR-RAID IN LONDON 125 

van has returned and another dozen or two 
specials leap up with the like swiftness and are 
in their turn carried away. The streets are 
now clearing, with the stimulus of sharp in- 
junctions from the police. By eight o'clock I 
begin to hear, far away, scarcely distinguish- 
able, the gentle throbbing of guns. It slowly 
draws nearer. One sees now their lightning 
flashes. Then they are joined by guns which 
must be close by. There is now a confused 
din, rising and falling, of guns which seem to 
be of the most various kind and calibre. At 
times a rocket may be seen in the sky, but 
otherwise there is little to observe. The streets 
are now completely clear and silent. There is 
only that dominating confused din of the guns, 
and if amid it there is any explosion of falling 
bombs it is hard to distinguish. There is, 
however, an ambulance in action. One feels 
disinclined now to read or to write. I lie down 
on my couch, and under the hypnotic action 
of the gun-fire I fall into an almost unconscious 
and dreamlike state, though remaining per- 
fectly awake. Then I become aware of men 
talking below in the otherwise deserted street, 
and on rising and going to the window I see a 
little group of specials and a man it is not 
clear in the gloom whether he, too, is one of 



126 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

them is holding forth dogmatically on the 
science of air-raiding ; he has made a special 
study of the raids ; he declares with conviction 
that he has discovered the exact path followed 
by the invaders, which he proceeds to describe, 
for he knows it, " every bloody inch of it." I 
scarcely gather that his hearers are meekly 
convinced of his superior knowledge, but they 
refrain from discussing the matter and the 
little group disperses. Then another group of 
performers enters the scene to play its appointed 
part, and I hear, beautiful, sustained in the 
air, the musical whirr as of a huge tuning-fork. 
Somehow it reminds me of the Prelude to 
Lohengrin and the angelic choir bearing the 
Holy Grail. In a few minutes this supernal 
music has died away. The heavenly choir 
having scattered the benediction of their Grail 
over the Great City are bearing it back to 
their own Paradise. 

That was the climax of the whole play. In 
a little while the guns, which had already re- 
ceded into the distance, suddenly stop. The 
performance is over. The Pit across the road 
discharges its vast audience. The old everlast- 
ing stream is once more flowing and bubbling 
along the streets, with gay laughter and rippling 
exhilarated speech. 



CHRISTMAS THOUGHTS 127 

Christmas Day. The great recurring Festi- 
vals of the Year, each one more than the last, 
like the tolling of a bell, remind me how I 
am nearer than ever before to the last stroke 
of midnight, the final rhythmic flutter of the 
swallow's wing. Often recurs to memory the 
saying of the pagan Anglo-Saxon chief that we 
know no more of our life than that it is like 
the flight of a swallow which enters the hall at 
one end and passes out at the other. Only to 
me who love the open air, and to see the 
world from a height, and to dream it is not 
quite so that I picture my swallow's flight. 
Rather I seem to be taking my course from 
unknown mists to unknown mists over the 
clear lake in the valley below upon which all 
the shows of life are mirrored. When I set out 
the lake all lay before me and my dreams were 
ever of the life I seemed to see mirrored ahead. 
But now there is little to see before me, and 
all my dreams, beautiful or sad, are no longer 
of the future but of the past, that is receding 
into the mist now fast swallowing the whole 
scene. 

January 8, 1918. I notice a tendency 
among some of the younger painters and artists 
of to-day to become aggressive on behalf of 



128 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

Art. Militarism is in the air and they will 
fight for their cause. They write to me of the 
New Crusade they wish to initiate, and of the 
battle they are about to wage on behalf of 
Art against Science, which they imagine to be 
the Enemy. 

Yet Militarism, as even these same people 
admit, has to-day been once more proved a 
failure in Life. Is it necessary even to argue 
that it must be a failure in Art ? You may 
thrust Art fiercely down the throats of children 
at the point of a spiritual sword, but spiritual 
sword and spiritual food will alike be rejected 
by those tender stomachs. The last state of 
Art thus championed would be worse than the 
first. 

No doubt Art is neglected, as also Science 
is neglected, for they are twins, born under 
the same star. No doubt, also, the artist is 
neglected, even most neglected when most 
original, when most himself. But if he thinks 
of himself and his own neglect he ceases to be 
an artist, and becomes a tradesman, an ex- 
cellent thing to become, no doubt, but certainly 
a different thing. For the artist is a lover, as 
the man of science is a lover, and is even 
prepared to say with Goethe's lover, " If I 
love thee, what is that to thee ? " 



THE ARTIST AS LOVER 129 

The great artist, like the great lover, de- 
mands, moreover, a certain solitude for the 
exercise of his vocation. He flings by the way- 
side, as he goes, the lovely things he has made, 
as he that casteth his bread on the waters. 
But the artist's creations, unlike Nature's 
flowers which fade and are trampled because 
they are renewed every year, can never fade, 
nor may the trampling of any feet destroy 
them utterly. They will be found after many 
days, like that jewel a queen dropped from the 
castle walls, even after many centuries, to be 
treasured of men thenceforth for ever. 



January 14. It has come to me of late 
that of those unknown vivid and flaming 
personalities that are here and there born into 
the world village Hampdens, mute inglorious 
Miltons, women who have never found expres- 
sion in art or in life there are perhaps none 
that are wholly lost. 

Millions are born and live and die like the 
leaves in a forest ; they fade and fall and 
crumble away, even in the memories of those 
who knew and loved them best. But a few 
have existed here and there who lived so 
originally or so fervently that their fellows 

K 



130 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

who knew them, or divined their secret, 
marked and could never forget. So these 
never faded and fell and crumbled in human 
memories like the others but entered the 
human tradition, and live for evermore, in 
however transformed a shape, in myth and 
folklore and religion, subtly inspiring influences 
of which the originating persons have been in 
name forgotten, and yet they live on for ever 
in the life of the world, tiny indistinguishable 
rays in the great flame of life. 

So at all events I love to think it is, when I 
remember how I have been inspired or helped 
by the secretly burning originality of some 
unknown person. 



February 9. In one of my books I had 
occasion to mention the case, communicated 
to me, of a woman in Italy, who preferred 
to perish in the flames when the house was on 
fire, rather than shock her modesty by coming 
out of it without her clothes. So far as it has 
been within my power I have always sought to 
place bombs beneath the world in which that 
woman lived, so that it might altogether go 
up in flames. To-day I read of a troopship 
torpedoed in the Mediterranean and almost 



MODESTY 181 

immediately sunk within sight of land. A 
nurse was still on deck. She proceeded to 
strip, saying to the men about her, " Excuse 
me, boys, I must save the Tommies." She 
swam around and saved a dozen of them. 
That woman belongs to my world. Now and 
again I have come across the like, sweet and femi- 
nine and daring women who have done things 
as brave as that, and even much braver because 
more complexly difficult, and always I feel my 
heart swinging like a censer before them, going up 
in a perpetual fragrance of love and adoration. 
I dream of a world in which the spirits of 
women are flames stronger than fire, a world 
in which modesty has become courage and yet 
remains modesty, a world in which women 
are as unlike men as ever they were in the 
world I sought to destroy, a world in which 
women shine with a loveliness of self-revelation 
as enchanting as ever the old legends told, and 
yet a world which would immeasurably tran- 
scend the old world in the self-sacrificing passion 
of human service. I have dreamed of that 
world ever since I began to dream at all. 



February 10. The more I listen to Bee- 
thoven's Fifth Symphony the more vividly 



132 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

it presents itself to me as the most subtly 
complete embodiment he ever attained of his 
own personal conception of life as sublimated 
self - assertion. At the outset of the first 
movement, " Fate knocks at the door," said 
Beethoven himself. But the door was not 
immediately opened. We hear the challenge 
of Life to the yet reluctant soul, not yet 
feeling the energy to assert itself in the world. 
So far the gospel of assertion is preached from 
outside to the self which accepts it indeed 
but has not yet acquired the will-power to 
embody it and live it. That explains perfectly 
the beautiful slow movement. That movement 
sets forth the message of impersonal joy and 
self - sacrifice which is the gospel of all the 
Children of Heaven in music from Bach to 
Franck. But to Beethoven, who is not of the 
Gods but the Titans, it sounds infinitely sad ; 
it seems mere renunciation and resignation, for 
it is the death of the truculent self, and comes 
as it were a seductive temptation to his weak- 
ness to abandon that faith in the triumph of 
the self which is Beethoven's Credo. And he 
succeeds slowly in shaking off the temptation. 
He wins his way to the gospel which had 
challenged him at the outset. Now at last 
he gains the strength to embody it, to take 



BEETHOVEN 133 

it up into his blood and spirit, so that hence- 
forth it is affirmed to the end with ever 
more triumphant energy, the most complete 
and magnificent affirmation of ruthless self- 
assertion that has been heard in music, and 
the supreme expression of Beethoven's own 
personality. 

The interpretation may seem astray and 
fantastic. It is how I hear the Symphony in 
C Minor. And it corresponds to all that we 
know of Beethoven, who, let us never forget, 
was even more than Milton, "of the Devil's 
party without knowing it." 



February 17. Grieg's Pianoforte Concerto 
I would call the Marriage Concerto, not so 
much because he wrote it at the time of his 
marriage, but because that seems to me its 
subject. It is, no doubt, scarcely a profound 
work, but a tone of golden beauty is main- 
tained throughout, it is always pleasant to 
listen to, and now I find in it this concealed 
meaning. 

The first movement is all love, the re- 
presentation of the lover's joyous emotion at 
the prospect of union, and it culminates in a 
description of the act of union. I scarcely 



134 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

know others, doubtless, may be wiser how 
the sexual embrace could be more beautifully 
and precisely rendered in music. The Adagio 
presents the next stage, in which the lovers, 
now united, face together the problems of 
love and life and realise their meaning ; there 
is no sadness in this movement, only sweetness 
and a sense of gravity, the hesitating contem- 
plation of the unknown course in front. In 
both these movements the attitude may be 
regarded as subjective ; in the final movement 
it becomes more objective. The task of life 
is seen and accepted, to be carried on with 
joy and ever-increasing vigour, fortified by the 
sense of union in love. It is this sense of 
union in love for the sake of work which 
seems to inspire the whole Concerto with a 
beautiful unity. 



February 24. There seems to me a certain 
parallelism and a certain contrast between 
Beethoven's Fifth Symphony and Tchai- 
kovsky's Fifth Symphony a nobler work 
than the better-known Sixth too heavily laden 
with unclarified emotion. I am not concerned 
with any questions of technique outside my 



TCHAIKOVSKY 135 

competence, nor with any attempt to place 
the two works on the same plane of importance. 
I view them as revelations of their respec- 
tive makers' inner self, each here revealing 
that self in its happiest normal phase. Both 
symphonies, it seems to me, deal with life as 
a Personal Problem, both follow a similar 
order, and both end joyously and triumphantly. 
But within this common scheme, how immense 
the contrast in temper and outlook ! The 
symphonies start in a rather similar mood. 
Tchaikovsky, like Beethoven, is challenged by 
Life, and the challenge affects him oppressively, 
mournfully. It is in the Andante which follows 
that one seems to feel the profound difference 
between the aggressive muscular Beethoven 
and the yielding feminine Tchaikovsky. The 
voice of beauty, that comes to the one as a 
seduction to weakness which must be repelled, 
comes to the other as a message of consolation 
which encourages and sustains. It is this 
contrast of attitude which differentiates the 
whole tone of the work. So it comes about 
that the Andante leads on naturally and by no 
revulsion to a mood of exalted light-hearted- 
ness which is yet serious. This yielding and 
feminine Tchaikovsky, we see, is not stimu- 
lated to energy, like the robust and ascetic 



136 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

Beethoven, by rebellion against the seduction 
of beauty ; he can only attain to equanimity 
and strength by accepting the consolation of 
beauty. It is all of profound psychological 
interest. We see, too, incidentally, how in 
his next Symphony, which I should be in- 
clined to call the Homosexual Tragedy, where 
Tchaikovsky was faced by the same challenge 
as Beethoven, and was forced to meet it in 
the same way, the end was bound to be, not 
the blare of triumphant conquest, but the 
deep groan of utter despair. Here, however, 
the finale attains the full expression of Tchai- 
kovsky's gospel, in which beauty leads on to 
harmonious energy, and the initial challenge 
of Life is accepted, transmuted from the minor 
to the major mode, merged into triumph and 
gladness. 

It is not clear how far a composer realises 
what he is showing of himself. Possibly if he 
realised he would hesitate. But it is easier 
in music than in any other art to elude the 
confession of self -revelation. Whether or not 
he knows and I suspect he often knows the 
emotional logic of personal temperament is 
deeper than all the subterfuges of art and can 
never be eluded. 



SPRING 137 

April 12. It is one of the first days of 
Spring, and I sit once more in the Old Garden 
where I hear no faintest echo of the obscene 
rumbling of the London streets which are yet 
so little away. Here the only movement I 
am conscious of is that of the trees shooting 
forth their first sprays of bright green, and of 
the tulips expanding the radiant beauty of 
their flaming globes, and the only sound I 
hear is the blackbird's song the liquid softly 
gurgling notes that seem to well up spontane- 
ously from an infinite Joy, an infinite Peace, 
at the Heart of Nature, and to bring a message 
not from some remote Heaven of the Sky or 
the Future but the Heaven that is Here, beneath 
our feet, even beneath the exquisite texture of 
our own skins, the Joy, the Peace, at the heart 
of the mystery which is Man. For Man alone 
can hear the Revelation that lies in the black- 
bird's song. 

These years have gone by, I scarcely know 
how, and the heart has often been crushed and 
heavy, life has seemed to recede into the dim- 
ness behind, and one's eyes have been fixed 
on the End that crowns all. Yet on the first 
days of Spring, and this Spring more than those 
of the late years that passed over us, soft air 
and sunshine lap me around and I indeed see 



138 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

again the solemn gaiety of the tulip and hear 
the message in the blackbird's low and serenely 
joyous notes, my heart is young again, and the 
blood of the world is in my veins, and a woman's 
soul is beautiful, and her lips are sweet. 



May 2. I remember reading years ago, in 
I know not what sacred book of India, of a 
prophet of olden time who wandered about the 
country, like Jesus, accompanied by his dis- 
ciples. Early one morning they were aroused 
by the muezzin from a neighbouring minaret 
calling to prayer. " The Voice of God ! " 
exclaimed a zealous disciple awaking the slum- 
berers. It chanced that from one of them as 
he roused himself from sleep there broke as it 
were the sound of wind. " And that also is 
the Voice of God," said the Teacher. Then 
the disciples turned and rebuked the Master, 
for it seemed to them that he spoke blasphemy. 
But he replied : " The one sound and the other 
are but vibrations of the air. Both alike are 
the Voice of God." 

I have thought since of that profound 
utterance, so rich with symbolic meaning, of 
the wise old Moslem Teacher of India. Men 
hear the Voice of God from the lofty towers 



THE VOICE OF GOD 139 

where the muezzin stands. But as the mystic 
vision pierces deeper into the mystery of the 
world, it is seen that the Divine is more truly 
manifested in the falsely so-called humble 
human things ; the winds and the waters of 
the world are all passed through the human 
form and cannot be less admirable for their 
association with that exquisite mechanism. 
So it is, we see, that to the Mystic the Human 
becomes Divine, and the voice of winds and 
streams, here as elsewhere, is the Voice of 
God. 



May 6. Yesterday, here in London, the 
sky was dark. The rain dropped continuously, 
one's spirit was dismal. To-day the air has 
been washed clean, the sky is bright, the trees 
burst into fresh green. Here, as I sit in the 
Old Garden, the flowers flash with warm 
radiance beneath the sun, and I hear the 
deepest wisdom of the world slowly, quietly, 
melodiously voiced in the throat of the black- 
bird. I understand. I see the World as Beauty. 

To see the World as Beauty is the whole 
End of Living. I cannot say it is the aim of 
living. Because the greatest ends are never 
the result of aiming ; they are infinite and 



140 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

our aims can only be finite. We can never go 
beyond the duty of Saul, the Son of Kish, 
who went forth to seek his father's asses and 
found a Kingdom. It is only so that the 
Kingdom of Beauty is won. There is that 
element of truth in the contention of Bergson, 
no intellectual striving will bring us to the 
heart of things, we can only lay ourselves 
open to the influences of the world, and the 
living intuition will be born in its own due 
time. 

Beauty is the end of living, not Truth. 
When I was a youth, by painful struggle, by 
deliberate courage, by intellectual effort, I won 
my way to what seemed to be Truth. It was 
not the end of living. It brought me no joy. 
Rather, it brought despair ; the universe 
seemed empty and ugly. Yet in seeking the 
Asses of Truth I had been following the right 
road. 

One day, by no conscious effort of my own, 
by some inspiration from without, by some 
expiration from within, I saw that empty and 
ugly Universe as Beauty, and was joined to it 
in an embrace of the spirit. The joy of that 
Beauty has been with me ever since and will 
remain with me till I die. All my life has been 
the successive quiet realisations in the small 



"ECCLESIASTES" 141 

things of the world of that primary realisation 
in the greatest thing of the world. I know 
that no striving can help us to attain it, but, 
in so far as we attain, the end of living is 
reached and the cup of joy runs over. 

So I know at such a moment as this, to-day, 
as I sit here, alone, in the warm sunshine, while 
the flowers flame into colour and the birds 
gurgle their lazy broken message of wisdom, 
however my life may be shadowed by care, 
and my heart laden with memories, the essen- 
tial problems are solved. 



May 11. The Old Testament has come 
into fashion again, as of old it came into fashion 
among the Covenanters, and much impresses 
our rampant fire-eaters, not least, it would 
seem, those of Ulster. It is an excellent 
collection of books ; one is glad that under 
any pretext it should come into fashion. But 
let us not forget the wisest, the most human, 
the most eternally modern book in that 
collection. It is always pleasant to remember 
that in the earliest of my own publications I 
expressed the esteem in which I held, and have 
continued to hold, the book of Ecclesiastes. 

That book is not indeed the only book in 



142 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

the Old Testament which mankind should for 
ever hold in reverence and diligently read. 
There is The Song of Songs. Of that book, 
too, it is pleasant for me to remember that at 
the age of eighteen, I made for my own satis- 
faction an English translation of Kenan's 
dramatic version. It is a beautiful poem of 
the loveliness of Man and Woman. Lately, 
indeed, I heard it described as " charming 
but rather thick in places." I should myself 
prefer to say that it is the most superb of all 
inspired statements of the Adoration of the 
Body. 

But there is a still more profound wisdom 
in the book of Ecclesiastes. It is indeed a 
pensive book ; not pessimistic, rather there is 
an exquisite balance of optimism and pessi- 
mism, the sense that we need both, and both 
in full measure, when we would adequately 
grasp the whole of life. The early blood- 
thirstiness of the ancient Hebrew has altogether 
fallen away, and his tribal monotheistic ferocity 
has been mellowed into the widest human 
tenderness, and his passion for financial opera- 
tions has not yet been born. In the absence 
of all these characteristically Hebrew absorp- 
tions, the world seems to the seer a little 
empty, the abode of " vanity." Yet there 



THE GERM OF ABNORMALITY 143 

was one great Hebrew trait still left to him, 
the most precious of all, a sunny humanitarian 
universalism. Throughout his languid and 
short course through that little book, his hands 
drop golden honey, his low and deep voice, 
never raised, always gentle and always clear, 
utters sweet and wise and serene words that 
will remain true as long as men survive who 
know what words mean. 

There is no better book in the Old Testa- 
ment than the book of Ecclesiastes, and if I 
had the ordering of the matter I would be 
inclined to insert it also in the New, even 
three times over, after the Gospels and after 
the Epistles and after the Book of the Revela- 
tion, as a perpetually recurring refrain. 



May 17. In the degree in which I have 
been privileged to know the intimate secrets 
of hearts, I ever more realise how great a part 
is played in the lives of men and women by 
some little concealed germ of abnormality. 

For the most part they are occupied in the 
task of stifling and crushing those germs, 
treating them like weeds in their gardens, 
which may indeed be stifled and crushed but 
will always spring up again unless they are 



144 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

uprooted, and these plants can never be up- 
rooted because they are planted deeply down, 
entwined with the texture of the organism. 

So these people are engaged in a perpetual 
contest, a struggle of themselves against them- 
selves, an everlasting effort to ensure that 
what they consider the higher self shall hold 
in check the lower self. Thereby they often 
attain strength of character. They are fortified 
for living. It can scarcely be said they are 
sweetened or enriched. 

There is another and better way, even 
though more difficult and more perilous. In- 
stead of trying to suppress the weeds that 
can never be killed, they may be cultivated 
into useful or beautiful flowers. The impulse 
that is selfish or perverse or harmful may in 
the end be so transmuted as to bring forth 
fruits meet for service or for science or for 
art, no longer a poison for him in whose heart 
they grow and for those who surround him, 
but a precious herb for the healing of the 
nations. Thus in place of hard and loveless 
struggle and the perpetual production of a 
barren and virtuous soil, there is the prospect 
of harmony in fruitfulness, a life that has been 
enriched and sweetened by what had else been 
its bane. 



AESTHETIC VISION 145 

For it is impossible to conceive any impulse 
in a human heart which cannot be transformed 
into Truth or into Beauty or into Love. 



May 19. " You have never seen him ! " 
It was the confident reply of a sculptor, four 
years ago, to a wife who had come to his 
studio to view the clay model of a bust of her 
husband and felt a little disappointment on 
finding it rather unlike her own vision of the 
original, " You have never seen him ! >: 

That remark, so characteristic of the artist 
temper, occurs to me now as I read Croce's 
Aesthetic, and at the same time I am reminded 
of another remark, this time made by a 
Cornishman who used to come to do odd jobs. 
He possessed more than a due share of that 
gift of " divine laziness " which Quiller-Couch 
claims for the people of his Duchy, and we 
would often find him spending long periods 
in the contemplation of his work instead of 
doing it. One day when thus discovered and 
reproached he exclaimed : " There's some men 
can do more by half an hour's watching a job 
than others in a whole day's work ! " He can 
scarcely have been aware that Leonardo da 
Vinci also, when similarly reproached by the 

L 



146 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

Prior of Delle Grazie for spending his time 
opposite his " Last Supper " and doing nothing, 
had replied in almost the same words : " Men 
of lofty genius when they are doing the least 
work are most active." It was a profound 
observation, and we were so delighted that 
from that day forth we nicknamed him the 
Artist. 

Vision and the expression of his vision are 
the artist's concern. It is not by work but 
by vision, by concentrated intense vision, such 
vision as is an intuition of the underlying 
truth, that he performs the first and chief 
part of his task. All intuition, as Croce puts 
it, is expression, and the artist, the man of 
genius differs from the rest (as Bergson has 
specially insisted) by the fact that while for 
most of us intuition is shallow and limited, a 
mere affixing of general labels, or at the most 
index numbers, for the man of genius it is 
deeper and wider, a realised expression of a 
vision which for the rest of the world remains 
unseen. The retort of Turner to the lady 
who complained before his pictures that she 
had never seen such effects in Nature, remains 
just : " Don't you wish you could, Madam ? " 
In other words the artist who is a man of 
genius possesses not only a greater power of 




expression, but primarily a power of deeper 
and wider intuition. 

So it comes about, I now think, that when 
the bright -eyed eager sculptor moulded his 
vision of a tortured and anxious soul, brooding 
in a contemplative sadness that was scarcely 
visible to the critical observer, his intuition 
may have rightly forecasted. 



June 1. In a newspaper to-day I see an 
interview by one of our best journalists with a 
colonial general who is directing an important 
subsidiary department of the war. He is a 
man of forty, a senior wrangler of his colonial 
university, who has given his life to business. 
He is described as a man of master mind, a 
man of imagination as well as of cheerful 
exuberant energy. And this is the refrain of 
his remarks, rendered with much picturesque 
vividness : " The war is good for us. Now 
we know there is something bigger in the world 
than money." 

The temper of interviewers in their commerce 
with eminence evidently tends to optimism. 
But it would not be easy, one imagines, to 
find anything more likely to confirm even 
the most confirmed pessimist. For here is 



148 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

presented to us a man whom we are told to 
regard as the finest type produced by the 
modern world, and, it seems, nothing less than 
the ruin of that world is needed to teach such 
a man the mere Alphabet of Life. 



June 7. It is a perpetual wonder and 
delight to watch how during the last twenty 
years the whole Pre-history of the world is 
being slowly revealed to us, with fresh marvels 
at every stage of the revelation. It is not 
long since the date of the world's creation was 
fixed at a few thousand years ago ; now it 
extends to hundreds of millions, and even the 
age of Man himself is beginning to be thought 
of as running into millions. It is but thirty 
years ago that Virchow, the greatest authority 
of his time, could believe that the solitary 
Neanderthal skull of Palaeolithic man was 
merely a pathological specimen. Now Nean- 
derthal Man is a genus with many species, a 
being with a skull sometimes as capacious as 
our own, and with pioneering and inventive 
powers as great as our own, while behind 
Neanderthal Man there are other more vaguely 
seen beings who were yet already Man. Then 
there was the Magdalenian Age, the climax 



THE DOCTRINE OF PROGRESS 149 

of a later type of Palaeolithic Man's develop- 
ment, the race of cave-men, who were such 
artists that they even neglected the fine 
perfection of the implements of daily life in 
seeking to perfect the manifestation of their 
aesthetic sensibility. Then, again, there was 
the subsequent Azilian Age with its yet un- 
solved problems. And then, during some eight 
thousand or so years, there followed the 
revolutionary Neolithic Age which laid the 
solid foundations on which we still live, for 
little of importance has been added since. 
There was the Bronze Age, with its seemingly 
new cult of Woman. There was finally Crete 
with its vastly long Minoan civilisation, almost 
as modern to our eyes as our own to-day, and 
the flashing moment of its aftermath in Greece ; 
and there was that long reverberating Decline 
and Fall of Rome, in the trail of which we 
still live, since Christianity was but a Roman 
filtrate of the Near East. 

We cherish the popular doctrine of Progress 
I have sometimes cherished it myself yet 
I sometimes wonder if we have not made a 
huge mistake. Might it not be better if we 
cherished the doctrine in a reversed form ? 
Might it not be better if we looked upon 
Progress as backwards ? Was not the classic 



150 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

world which was in a better position to know 
wiser when it placed the Golden Age in the 
past and not, as we, doubtless influenced by 
the pessimistic conceptions of Christianity, in 
the impossible future of another world, first 
in the skies and then on earth ? So we should 
indeed be trailing great clouds of glory along 
with us instead of being engaged in the painful 
task of searching for them in an uncertain 
future. Indeed the whole cosmic conception 
would fall into a new and more satisfying 
harmony. As things now are, we are compelled 
to believe that the earth is slowly decaying 
towards a final catastrophe, while Man, its 
most conspicuous inhabitant, is slowly march- 
ing towards the height of ideal Perfection. 
It is a painful clash of absurdly contradic- 
tory conceptions, only, it would seem, to be 
resolved when we attain to the faith that 
Man and the Earth, after their long and agi- 
tated career, surely unique in the cosmos for 
fantastic charm, are at length declining to- 
gether towards their sorely needed and infinite 
Rest. 

Would not some such large and harmonising 
conception as this revolutionise and revitalise 
morals ? Nothing has so intoxicated and 
maddened the men of the latest period of 



THE NATURE OF GENIUS 151 

world - history as that doctrine of Progress 
towards a great future which they were 
passionately striving to achieve. (We may 
see it even in the present war.) In the great 
Pacification of the tender bonds of a common 
Fate, in the dying down of contentions which 
have grown out of date, in the growth of a 
Toleration at length made possible, in a new 
vision of Fellowship and Joy among Comrades 
doomed in the same Great War, we attain to 
a morality which a genuinely realised faith in 
the Final Death of Man can perhaps alone 
render possible. 



June 15. This morning, walking along the 
street I dwell in, I came on a girl in the middle 
of the pavement, with her skirts well raised 
above her knees, pulling up and adjusting her 
stocking. As I approached she glanced up 
and then resumed her operation. 

Posterity might regard this as a singularly 
insignificant incident which only an imbecile 
could mention. But Posterity cannot know 
that in the European world wherein I lived for 
more than half a century that little act was 
almost revolutionary. In the world I knew 
whenever a woman wanted to pull up her 



152 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

stocking she retired into a dark corner, as 
though to commit a nuisance, or at least 
turned her shamefaced countenance closely to 
the wall. Moreover, this girl was clearly of 
the flourishing working-class, precisely the class 
that is most strictly observant of modest 
propriety. 

But it so happens that in these years of war 
skirts have been contracting upwards as never 
before, so as to fall even in their normal range 
only a few inches below the knee. Evidently 
this revolutionary girl had made the great 
discovery that under these new conditions the 
traditional ceremony preluding the act of 
pulling up one's stocking had become an 
antiquated and absurd convention. There 
seemed no longer any reason remaining for 
being ashamed to perform the operation openly. 
So by virtue of that simple directness of vision 
she becomes a pioneer. 

The process is symbolical of pioneering 
genius generally. All genius, Hinton used to 
argue, is merely Nature finding the simple 
way of doing a thing and letting fall the 
difficult complicated ways, or, as he would also 
insist, of learning to do virtuously what before 
could only have been done viciously. We see, 
also, more than that. All the exhortations 



THE RESULTS OF PRAYER 153 

you could think of to reasonableness and true 
modesty would never have persuaded that girl 
to pull up her skirt in the middle of the pave- 
ment. She came upon it, not straightly but 
in a curve, by a sort of mathematical process, 
one set of changed conditions automatically 
leading on to another set of changed conditions. 
For that is ever how Nature subtly leads us ; 
it is a spiritual law, they said of old, that by 
indirection we find direction out. 



July 15. Last month the country was 
suffering from drought, and as of late the food 
question has been in all men's minds, a Duke 
had what was regarded as the brilliant inspira- 
tion to issue a Call to Prayer for Rain. It so 
happens that June is normally rather too dry 
a month and July rather too wet, whence the 
natural basis of the superstition concerning 
St. Swithin. So it has come about that the 
Prayer for Rain was only too successful and 
many curses have been called down on the 
unhappy Duke's head. As has so often hap- 
pened before, the devout belief in the efficacy 
of prayer was not accompanied by equally 
devout belief in the lack of efficacy of the 
answers to prayer. 



154 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

The value of Prayer is not to be called in 
question. It is a spiritual weapon of in- 
comparable value both for offence and defence. 
The most varied among the great figures of 
history have borne witness to the value of 
Prayer, from Jesus to Casanova. Yet the 
devout believer who preserves his mental 
equilibrium must surely be much exercised 
concerning the right use of such a weapon. 
A skilful combination seems here required of 
two contradictory faiths. I recall that in 
my early years I prayed with much fervour. 
No doubt my prayers availed me much. Yet 
if the things I prayed for with most fervour 
had come to me I could have suffered no 
greater misfortune. We need the faith that 
our prayers will help us : we need also the faith 
that they require no answer. So that the 
devout man seems called upon to pray : " O 
Lord 1 hear my prayer, but, O Lord, for 
God's sake don't grant it." 



July 19. We have walked from Felsted on a 
pilgrimage, long since projected, to the church 
of Little Dunmow. It is merely a fragment, 
enclosed to make a Church in the most awkward 
and ignorant manner, but it would have been 



LITTLE DUNMOW 155 

well worth a longer pilgrimage. For this 
fragment is really a Lady Chapel, the south 
aisle of a great chancel (after a manner I 
find to be rather common in this district) 
of a great and glorious church built in what 
must have been the most exquisite so-called 
Decorated manner of the fourteenth century. 
Two hours scarcely sufficed us to examine all 
that there was to see in this small fragment 
of the great Church of the Augustinian Canons 
who had a Priory here, though of Priory and 
church almost nothing more now remains 
visible above the surface, all cleared away 
and utilised by the practical and economical 
people of this land, and even the fragment 
that remains is much defaced and its soft 
stone melted away. Yet there is enough left 
to enable us to reconstruct its lovely outlines, 
and many details remain in a more than latent 
condition the most elegant of piscinas, the 
great beautiful southern windows, the delicate 
carving of small animals in the panelled com- 
partments beneath. This old church, more- 
over, is not only an exquisite fragment of 
English architecture, it is a shrine of English 
history, for Robert Fitzwalter who headed 
the Barons at Runny mede " Father of English 
Liberty " he was termed in the days when the 



156 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

sacred significance of Magna Charta was still 
undisputed was lord of the Manor of Little 
Dunmow and lies somewhere buried beneath 
this pavement. Another Fitzwalter, one of 
his descendants probably of the fourteenth 
century, is here figured with his wife at full 
length in elaborate costumes, above their tomb, 
and these two figures, mutilated and worn, are 
yet of a singular beauty, not only in their 
decorative details but above all in the head of 
Fitzwalter. Likely enough there may be other 
realistic heads of English gentlemen of the 
fourteenth century equal in interest to this, 
but I cannot recall seeing them. That this 
impressive head is a realistic portrait and a 
fine work of art I can feel no doubt. A finely 
moulded face, of noble distinction and virile 
type, with lines of grave responsibility furrowed 
down the cheek, it bears somehow to one's 
surprise in the high character and delicate 
outline of the chin and in the beautiful lips, 
the marks of intellectual and even aesthetic 
refinement. Here we feel was not only em- 
phatically a man, and a man of aristocratic 
breeding, but a man also of refinement and 
culture. When one recalls how, even three 
centuries later, the flattering and accom- 
plished hand of Vandyck only makes clearer 



GREAT DUNMOW 157 

the essential barbarism of the young English 
nobles he depicted, here in the remote four- 
teenth century is a man who would seem to 
belong to some lost civilisation of which no 
record remains, if it were not for the genius 
of Chaucer, and if his chain mail and his 
much be-ringed finger suggests the barbarian 
then his face shows that such barbarism was 
merely a fashion of disguise and that the 
art of living is in every age the same. On 
the column near his feet is one of the 
graffitti discovered by loving antiquarian re- 
search in various parts of the church which 
points perhaps to the same moral. For here 
we see scratched faintly in the stone in ancient 
hand by what pagan-hearted canon of Dun- 
mow ? the words : Dum sumus in mundo 
vivamus corde jucundo. And we turn to con- 
template the ecclesiastical chair (thought to 
be of the thirteenth century) in the chancel, 
once used in the Priory, maybe, and surely 
fitted to enable some jocund Prior to expand 
his heart freely, for the seat is some thirty 
inches in breadth. One could not easily find 
a dead little church with more fascinating 
meanings to unravel than this. When we can 
pore over its mysteries no longer we leave 
with regret and stroll to Great Dunmow, to 



158 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

examine more perfunctorily a more spacious 
but not more interesting church of much the 
same date. As we approach it we note close 
by an old inn with the unusual sign of " The 
Angel and Harp," and as we enter the church 
we actually hear the sound of a harp and see 
in the else empty building the solitary figure 
of a girl in white in the chancel before her 
great brightly gilt harp. Some ten minutes 
later she covers her harp and quietly steals 
out of the church. She had evidently been 
rehearsing her solo part in a concert which 
is to take place in the church in the evening. 
Such is the extent of human imbecility (I 
have always found one can best observe it in 
oneself) that, until it was too late, neither of 
the rude masculine intruders had the presence 
of mind even so much as to think of the 
conventional compliment the circumstances 
seemed so obviously to suggest. 



August 22. The problem of the origin of 
the belief in immortality has often exercised 
my mind. I have seemed to see a factor of 
it (for the dream theory hardly seems by itself 
to suffice) in the growth of foresight. The 
Mousterian or the Aurignacian man, who first 



THE SENSE OF IMMORTALITY 159 

in the world began to bury his dead, doubtless 
in the faith that they had a future which must 
be seen to in the interests of the living who 
remained if not of the dead who had departed 
had begun to be more aware than the men 
of earlier ages of the value of foresight in 
life. This foresight for the dead was a natural 
extension of the inevitable growth with culture 
of foresight for the living. At a much later 
period we see that the Egyptians, by their 
peculiar position in relation to the yearly 
movements of the great river on which their 
existence depended, were compelled beyond all 
peoples to exercise a concentrated and elabor- 
ate foresight, and they beyond all others were 
the people who carried the ritual of the dead 
and the faith in immortality to the ultimate 
summit. 

Of late years it has come to me that the 
faith in the persistence of the soul may have 
among its factors not only the growth of 
human foresight, but the growth also of after- 
sight, that aftersight which is the result of 
the emotional fixation of affection. As human 
power of love grew more intense, and the 
objects of it ever more deeply impressed on 
the mind it might be hazardous to assert 
that the process developed before the Neo- 



160 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

lithic period when home-life in our sense first 
became possible the aftersight of beloved 
dead persons must tend to leave on memory 
an imprint that is indestructible. At the point 
when this stage was reached in human develop- 
ment the sense of immortality the immortality 
of the beloved which necessarily involved that 
of all became inevitable. It was indeed a 
subjective sense, independent of intellectual 
beliefs or Palaeolithic magic traditions, and 
might even exist side by side with total dis- 
belief in its objective reality. For it is strictly 
a sense, a sense as convincing as our sense of 
the sun traversing the sky, which, as we know, 
until only yesterday produced conviction so 
intense that its denial seemed a heresy worthy 
of death. The innumerable impressions pro- 
duced by the loved one's personality on the 
sensitive organism, the concentration of feelings 
and ideas, desires and fears, pleasures and 
pains, develop a Being within us strong and 
living enough to survive when the object 
from which they radiated and on to which they 
have been reflected, has turned to dust. Such 
a person may be closer to us and more alive 
than the people we see and hear and touch 
every day. The whole process is symbolised 
with delicate psychological truth in the charm- 



HARD FACTS 161 

ing Gospel story in legendary form of the 
resurrection of Jesus in the minds of the 
disciples who loved him, however the beauty 
of it has been marred by the crude Western 
realists who could not apprehend its spiritual 
meaning. We create by love an immortal 
being whom nothing can destroy until we, too, 
are turned to dust. 



August 28. " I hate books of emotion and 
sentiment. I never read them. But I love 
books of hard facts." So writes a woman 
friend who is distinguished in imaginative 
literature. 

Nowadays though my friend is not younger 
than I am that seems to me a youthful 
attitude. It is the child who is always wanting 
facts and perpetually desiring to know. Right 
that it should be so ; it is a very necessary 
thirst, this thirst for facts, like the thirst for 
milk of the infant at the breast. 

As one grows older one's attitude towards 
facts changes. One begins to see through 
them. So far from being hard they now seem 
remarkably soft, even when one thinks one 
has, with much trouble, succeeded at last in 
finding them. The most baldly statistical 

M 



162 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

facts are shifting every moment, and they are 
the most relatively solid of all facts ; even 
when it seems not so, they are still susceptible 
of endlessly different interpretations. You 
can stick your fist through them at any 
point. 

The only hard facts, one learns to see as one 
gets older, are the facts of feeling. Emotion 
and sentiment are, after all, incomparably 
more solid than any statistics. So that when 
one wanders back in memory through the 
field of life one has traversed, as I have, in 
diligent search of hard facts, one comes back 
bearing in one's arms a Sheaf of Feelings. 
They after all are the only facts hard enough 
to endure as long as life itself endures. 



September 8. I who am an exile from Corn- 
wall, banished to the chilly fogs of London, 
and able to understand what Ovid once wrote 
from Pontus, have been spending three days 
by the sea. All day long I have been lying on 
the cliff or the sands at work, while from time 
to time my eyes rested on the friendly vision of 
a dear woman, not too far away, playing with 
her child. The sun and the air, mixed with 
that radiant vision, enter into my blood, pour- 



BY THE SEA 163 

ing a new vigour into my veins and a new 
inspiration into my thoughts. 

Inspiration ! For it is only here that I 
inspire, that I really breathe, in the warm 
and pure air of the sea, which is the food of 
body and soul, the symbol of love, and the 
enrapturing wine of the world. 

The pious devotees of Faith have clung to 
the conception of Inspiration and they made 
it meaningless or even ridiculous. Yet the 
most fantastic vagaries of Religion, when we 
can penetrate to the roots of them, are based 
firmly on the solid foundations of Nature. 
The breath of God may help us to realise the 
intoxicating breath of the sea. 



September 27. Beethoven so often irritates, 
alienates, even disgusts me, yet I never escape 
him. I brood with fascinated absorption over 
the problems he arouses. I delight in his in- 
comparable mastery of his material. I am 
stirred by some of his music more deeply than 
by any other music, more ravished when it is 
lovely than by any other loveliness. The Alle- 
gretto of this Seventh Symphony, which I have 
heard so often with fear and wonder and hear 
again to-night, seems to me one of the miracles 



164 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

of music. It takes the usual place of the slow 
movement, as we note with surprise, for in form 
it is a light cheerful dance movement. As such, 
I find some people pleasantly accept it. It is 
not so for me, nor could it have been so meant 
by Beethoven, who else would never have 
placed it where it stands. To me the miracle 
of it is that here so little is made to mean so 
much, and the trivial becomes adequate to 
express the awesome. There is indeed no 
music that gives me so profound a feeling of 
apprehensive awe, of humble reverence before 
the deepest facts of life ; I think of all the 
things that have most shaken the foundations 
of my life, and there is none to which this 
Allegretto, which sounds to some so light and 
cheerful, seems aught but the most fitting 
accompaniment I could conceive. 

It is the technique of the supreme artist in 
Beethoven which amid all that is clumsy and 
coarse and violent in his work comes upon 
us again and again with endless delight. One 
realises it, for instance, so clearly in the familiar 
third Leonore Overture. There we feel and it 
is exactly the same feeling we have of a sculptor 
like Rodin with his clay the superb artist's 
delight in his technique, patiently and con- 
tinuously working at his medium so as to mould 



BEETHOVEN 165 

it with subtle fingers to his will, so as to wring 
from the material at every point the utmost 
of its expressive beauty. 

Beethoven's development was slow. He 
was long in attaining his mastery of art and of 
loveliness. It is true that if he had died at 
the age Schubert died he could never have been 
placed in the same high rank as Schubert. In 
the Symphonies especially I seem to trace his 
evolution, and I am always finding some new 
evidence of this. To-night it occurs to me how 
clearly the third, the fifth, the seventh, and the 
ninth mark the great spiritual stages of that 
advance. The third, the Eroica, seems to bring 
to an end his first stage, the objective stage in 
which his eyes had been fixed on the external 
rather than on the internal world. He had 
written it to the glory of Napoleon : now he was 
disillusioned about Napoleon, and he felt that 
the Eroica was, in a way, a fiasco. Henceforth 
he would not attempt to honour other people. 
He would button up his coat and assert him- 
self. And there is the Fifth Symphony, the 
apotheosis of ruthless self-assertion. But, after 
all, he began to realise, there are others. I 
feel the sense of brotherhood in the superb 
finale of the Seventh Symphony. There is still 
struggle and conflict. But against the distant 



166 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

background of warfare it is the march, no longer 
of a solitary aggressive individual, but of a band 
of brethren we seem to hear. In the Ninth, 
the Hymn to Joy, all conflict and warfare have 
fallen away. Here is something greater even 
than a band of brethren fighting against re- 
ceding foes. It is the march of all Humanity 
in gracious harmony which we are in presence 
of at last. It has indeed been a struggle for 
Beethoven of all people to reach that concep- 
tion, and nothing is left for us at the spectacle 
but reverence. 



October 10. When I come to wander now 
and then in these old towns and villages of 
Suffolk and the neighbouring East Anglian 
regions, my eyes always dwell with a peculiar 
satisfaction on their houses. It is not that I 
am impressed by their extraordinary beauty or 
originality or daring or skill. I am generally 
interested in the art of building, I delight every- 
where in real houses when I can find them. 
And I can think of houses I have seen in many 
countries which seemed to me more remarkable 
and memorable. These East Anglian houses 
are often lovely and harmonious, but on me 
the main impression they make is that they 



A PROBLEM IN HEREDITY 167 

are homely. That is to say that they seem to 
sound notes I have heard many times before, 
and thus soothe me with rest and peace. 

I am tempted to wonder how far that may 
be due to an innumerable band of forefathers 
who actually conceived, designed, planned in 
detail, and often maybe with their own hands 
raised and constructed the likes of these houses 
and sometimes it may have been the very 
houses I gaze at with so much satisfaction. 
Our eyes become adapted to joy among the 
things they have dwelt on after long use. But 
I have never lived in this region, never came to 
it till I was approaching middle age. So it is 
that the opposite alternative presents itself to 
me, and I imagine that these things are pleasing 
to me because I inherit the special nervous 
system of those who first made them on the 
model of their deep-seated instincts. 



October 14. It is always pleasant to walk 
through the Park to Santon Downham, and as 
we walked thither last week (even wondering 
in these days of fruit dearth whether there 
were any blackberries) I saw flashing before 
my inner vision as the stimulating aim of our 
expedition the little low relief, deep in its 



168 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

rough frame, set in the wall over the entrance 
to the south porch of that small attractive 
little church attractive at least on the outside 
for it is always locked, possibly because there 
is nothing of interest inside which with two 
or three small houses makes up Santon Down- 
ham. It is to me always the church of that 
delightful beast, lion or whatever he may be, 
with his splendid tail that seems to pierce his 
body in its great curves and flame out above 
him into a large fleur-de-lys. 

Now as I sit talking with a friend in the 
gallery of Archaic Greek sculpture at the 
British Museum, my eye chances to fall on a 
stone low relief which in size and shape and 
tone, in its whole air, is clearly in the same 
tradition as the slab in the south porch of 
Downham, though it came from Lycia in Asia 
Minor and belongs to the archaic Greek period 
of the seventh century B.C. Here, indeed, there 
are two figures, one a beast they call it a 
lion nearly related to the Downham beast, 
but with it seems to contend a naked man, and 
the compressed energy of his realistic form was 
doubtless beyond the other sculptor whose 
strength lay in decoratively conventionalised 
beasts. Now I seem to know that the slab of 
Santon Downham, however comparatively late 



ETERNITY 169 

in the tradition, belongs in type to a long- 
lived class of framed and pictured stones that 
began in the Eastern Mediterranean in the 
dawn of Greek art and continued on to the 
latest Byzantine times. But by what chance 
that delightful fragment of the East reached 
this remote corner of the Western world, what 
Crusader or pilgrim of fine or fantastic taste 
among these much - travelled East Anglians 
found it in Cyprus or elsewhere and brought it 
here to aid in the building of his own local 
church, that I may never know, nor is it any 
matter. 



November 10. This Sunday morning, as I 
passed the stable which is not far from my 
dwelling, I saw chalked on the door of it in 
capital letters the one word " Eternity." It is 
a rough and ill-fitting door and the ordinary 
stable of a commercial firm, but any back- 
ground will serve him who seeks to set up the 
fundamental truth of the world. I cannot 
guess what he was like, but I am drawn to him 
by a bond of sympathy. It is not likely we 
should agree on the species of Eternity. Yet 
I, too, have made it my business in the world 
to chalk up " Eternity " in my best capital 



170 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

letters on such rough and ill-fitting doors as I 
have been able to find for the purpose, not 
indeed the stables inhabited by respectable 
Houyhnhnms, but rather those which I some- 
times suspected to belong to Yahoos. 

To-day perhaps seemed to my friend a day 
specially fit for meditation on that word. For 
to-day news has arrived of the abdication of 
the Kaiser, which we imagine to mean ** the 
passing away of a whole epoch, and to-day we 
expect every hour to hear of the coming of 
Peace. Wars and Dynasties, they have come 
and gone for millenniums in this fussy and 
tortured world, careful and troubled about 
many things, a world where so few have time 
to think of the Divine Beauty which lies 
beyond and beneath. So I reflected afresh, 
as I listened this afternoon to the poignant 
melodies of Schubert's Unfinished Symphony, 
still almost as much a revelation as it was 
nearly forty years ago, and between whiles the 
vision came to me of that stable door where 
my brother, whose heart must surely be fixed 
where alone true joys are to be found, had 
carefully set in chalked capitals for my good 
cheer and encouragement that great word 
" Eternity." 



THE PROFESSIONAL BIAS 171 

November 25. The Archbishop of Canter- 
bury, it is stated in the newspapers, declared 
yesterday that " the one thing which had 
aroused his indignation during the war was 
that it had been within the power of any 
foreign country to put a stop to the ringing of 
English church bells." All we like sheep have 
gone astray. Some have been indignant over 
what they conceived to be the aim of a great 
military power to dominate Europe and the 
world, others have been indignant over the 
reckless destruction of beautiful monuments or 
that fruitless waste and mutilation of millions 
of young lives which Christianity has done 
nothing to stop, and yet others have been 
indignant over the imbecility and unworthiness 
of our Governments. But " one thing " has 
aroused the indignation of the ecclesiastical 
head of the English Church. English Church 
bells ceased to ring. 

It is an exquisite illustration of the profes- 
sional bias. The Church is theoretically the 
established mouthpiece of the nation's deepest 
convictions on all the spiritual aspects of prac- 
tical life as they arise. That it is so every 
Archbishop perpetually assures us. All the 
more delicious when the professional bias 
breaks through so firm a crust. The world 



172 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

may be devastated, and Man may be extended 
on the Cross. But his Passion and Crucifixion 
are nothing in comparison with the suspension 
of a trifling concomitant of ritual by which no 
living creature was a penny the worse. 

Yet for me it is impossible not to sympathise 
with that delightfully absurd attitude. I have 
in old days often been annoyed by the sound 
of church bells breaking in violently on my 
own mood with their cheerful and irritating 
irresponsibility. During the war some latent 
germ of inherited emotion from remote ecclesi- 
astical ancestors has asserted itself, and I have 
missed such of those bells as were beautiful. 
Now that I hear again every quarter of the 
hour the soft and simple chime of bells from a 
distant tower I find them soothing if also sad. 
They sound with a sweet and melancholy ache, 
as out of a world in which I once lived with 
those I loved, in which I shall never live again. 



December 26. (This Impression was received 
in sleep and was set down in the early morning 
on awaking.) 

Christianity began in a Star, seen in the 
East, may be a falling star, and the nucleus of 
Christianity is a little swirl of vapour, of a 



THE RESULTS OF PATRIOTISM 173 

weight that was almost nothing. Yet around 
that insubstantial nucleus has gathered such a 
crystallisation of ecstasy and terror and torment 
that, for all we know, the illimitable universe 
may not have the like to show. 

So there is nothing miraculous about it ? 
But if this is not a miracle what then is a 
miracle ? 



January 18, 1919. If one is a patriot, it 
seems to me, he must glory in any manifesta- 
tion of magnanimity or justice in his own 
people and feel a corresponding shame at the 
absence of such manifestations. Four years 
ago, when what seemed a wave of high dis- 
interested emotion swept over England, even 
though it involved war, I felt a certain conscious 
pride, perhaps for the first time, in the fact, 
which before I had accepted as a matter of 
course, that I was English. But pride comes 
before a fall and I have repented since. The 
crest of that high wave has been swiftly shown 
to have behind it a remarkably deep pit. 

I on whose brain is impressed for ever the 
superb procession of deep blue South Atlantic 
waves, as solid to view as the marble of earth, 
splashed with foam as delicate as the fleecy 



174 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

clouds of the sky, with their uplifted crests 
and the vast curves of their deep troughs, I 
ought to be the last to forget that law of 
Nature. 



January 20. I have often wished that some 
disciple of Jesus had proved a Boswell. To be 
able to catch the precise definite outline of 
that figure as it impressed itself on the eyes, to 
know how this man met the ordinary routine 
of daily life, what he said in casual intercourse, 
the tones of his voice, and all those little 
mannerisms of conduct which reveal so much 
how nearer we should be brought to that 
unique person, and what devastation so scan- 
dalous a Fifth Gospel would have wrought 
beforehand in the ranks of the orthodox ! Still 
one knows they would save themselves by 
declaring that it was a blasphemous forgery. 

I still wish for a Boswell of Jesus, but I 
realise now more than ever what a supreme 
work of art we already possess in the Gospels. 
That is not to say that the history of Jesus is 
a myth. The theory is scarcely credible. To 
suppose that the religion of Jesus differed from 
all the other religions which came into the 
world about that time the religion of Con- 



THE REAL JESUS 175 

fucius, the religion of Buddha, the religion of 
Mahomet by crystallising round a figure of 
the imagination, would be to confer on it 
a supreme distinction one would hesitate to 
recognise. Religion, like love in Stendhal's 
famous analogy, must always crystallise round 
some twig of the tree of life. Apart from such 
aprioristic considerations, Binet-Sangle though 
the orthodox refuse to recognise his existence 
and the unorthodox cross the road to pass him 
by on the other side seems to have placed 
Jesus on a pedestal of solid pathological human 
reality from which it will be hard to tear him 
down. 

There was a real Jesus, impossible as it will 
ever be even for the concentrated vision of 
a Binet-Sangl6 to discern all his features. 
Yet around that concealed human person it is 
really the Imagination of Man which has built 
up the lovely crystal figure we see. An in- 
numerable company of men, who had a few of 
them seen Jesus and most of them only heard 
of him, aided in this task. Each threw into 
it his highest inspiration, his deepest insight, 
with the sublime faith based on that deep 
human impulse, seen even in our dreams, to 
exteriorise our own feelings that this divine 
moment of his own soul could only be the 



176 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

truthful expression of a Saviour and liberator 
of Man. 

It was the peculiar virtue of the personality 
of Jesus that all these inspirations and insights 
could adhere to it and drew together into a 
congruous whole. At the same time a reversed 
process was evidently in movement. All the 
facts of the hero's life, actual or alleged, and 
all his sayings, real or apocryphal, were sifted 
and filtered through the human imagination, 
so purged that not a single trivial, ignoble, or 
even ordinary crude unpleasing statement has 
come down to us. At once by putting in and 
by taking out, with an art like that of the 
painter and the sculptor in one, under some 
rare combination of favouring conditions, 
the human imagination, out of the deepest im- 
pulses of the human heart, has unconsciously 
wrought this figure of Jesus, purified of dross 
and all gold, tragic in its sublimity and tremu- 
lously tender in its loving-kindness. So that 
now when I open and turn over with reverent 
joy the leaves of the Gospels, I feel that here 
is enshrined the highest achievement of Man 
the Artist, a creation to which nothing can 
be added, from which nothing can be taken 
away. 



PATRIOTISM AGAIN 177 

January 25. Now that the war is giving 
place to the " Peace " we are permitted to see 
what it is, not only, for our own humiliation, 
on its spiritual side, but also on its physical 
side, as a state of exhaustion, hunger, and death 
for the greater part of the European world. 
In Russia and Germany and Austria, and so 
many other smaller countries, the nations are 
being slowly, or quickly, starved, robbed of 
beauty and vigour and vitality, sapped at the 
racial roots by unchecked diseases, in large 
numbers actually killed. Here in England, 
save for a few harmless privations, we have 
suffered not at all. 

This moment, which would have been golden 
for a nation with any Utopian impulse of 
generosity, or of justice, or of humanity, is 
chosen by our Food Controller to fling out a 
vast extra amount of food for the consumption 
of his English public. It is astonishing or 
surely, at least, it should be astonishing to 
find that every one accepts this policy with 
equanimity and even with joy. No one says : 
The nation has been equally rationed with 
much reduced food -stuffs and all have done 
well ; now apply that method to Europe, which 
needs it so sorely. No one says : How can I 
accept more than I have been proved to need 

N 



178 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

when others are perishing for lack of what I 
unnecessarily take ? Not one sees, not one 
apparently has the imagination to see, the 
sallow, lean, hungry faces of innumerable men 
and women and children, the infants who 
waste and die, the well-bred folk who hunt 
greedily in the garbage. We stolidly sit 
and grind our massive British jaws before 
superfluous piles of food which our ware- 
houses and cold storage can scarcely hold, 
while our Patriotic Press exults and calls for 
more. 

Human beings suffer from a defect of im- 
agination, and I suppose the defect is incurable. 
One notes that the Swiss alone, themselves far 
worse off than we are in England, have sacrificed 
their own needs to send food into Austria, not 
because they are nobler than we are or more 
imaginative, but because they are next door 
to the people who starve, they can see them. 
We are separated ; the salt estranging sea cuts 
us off from Europe, and cuts us off from human 
sympathy. 

I see no mechanism to provide the human 
species with imagination. A greater degree 
of international intercourse, as well as the 
use of an auxiliary common language, would 
help to dispense with the need for imagination. 



THE CHANNEL TUNNEL 179 

But Man is a gregarious animal, the creature 
of his small flock, inimical, at best indifferent, 
to all other flocks. If Nature needs a truly 
sympathetic international animal, Nature 
must wipe out Man and produce another 
species. 



March 16. It is reported that the Channel 
Tunnel between France and England is likely 
at last to be made. The English Government 
and the English military authorities, which 
hitherto have regarded such a scheme as a 
terrible menace to England's insularity, have 
just begun, it seems, to realise that had the 
Channel Tunnel been in existence when the 
Great War broke out that war would have 
been brought to a much speedier end, not to 
mention that a vast amount of human death 
and pain would have been avoided, as well 
as an incalculable cost in money saved. This 
tardy decision seems to be received with much 
enthusiasm. 

Many years ago, when the scheme was first 
brought forward, I, too, felt full of youth- 
ful enthusiasm for the Channel Tunnel. It 
seemed to me to have both a symbolical and 
a practical value in bringing England nearer 



180 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

to that beloved land of France, then so often 
viewed with suspicion or contempt, which I 
regarded as the great pioneer of civilisation 
in the modern world. I poured scorn on the 
petty and miserable fears which relegated that 
scheme to an indefinite future. 

But now ! The Great War in which the 
Tunnel might have rendered such service is 
over, and for the moment, France, only too 
well seconded by England, is the Pioneer, not 
of Civilisation but of the Reaction against 
Civilisation. I recognise still that the Tunnel 
must be made, and that it is well that it should 
be made. But as for enthusiasm that I am 
content to leave to a generation more likely 
than I am to find pleasure in constructing 
a perennial monument to what a prominent 
American terms the Exquisite Stupidity of the 
British. 



May 12. A scholarly diplomatist, known 
also to a select circle as the most learned 
of Casanovists, mentioned to me yesterday 
that he possesses a book, written by a 
physician in 1848, entitled De Morbo Demo- 
cratico, in which Democracy is considered as 
a kind of insanity, and technically discussed 



POLITICS AS A DISEASE 181 

in relation to etiology, diagnosis, prognosis, 
and treatment. 

" Are they mad ? " asked a brilliant intel- 
lectual woman lately in bewilderment con- 
cerning those bargains of the " Big Three " 
at the Peace Conference with the parties 
chiefly concerned in the bargain left out ! 
which seem to be doing more for the destruc- 
tion of the world's peace than ever the war 
accomplished. 

We smile at the conception of the medically 
minded author of De Morbo Democratico in 
the year of Revolution. Yet to-day one may 
ask whether he was not after all inspired beyond 
the men of his own time and of ours, when he 
divined that politics, after all, is nothing but 
a species of insanity, of which, it may be added, 
the Democratic form though that form hardly 
seems to me easy to diagnose may not neces- 
sarily be the most virulent. 

Politics began, as the name indicates, with the 
overgrown agglomeration of population in cities. 
It is where wars in any organised form also 
began. They alike cover but a small section 
of the vast history of Mankind. They seem 
to have emerged out of an easier and more 
harmonious social life. Is it not reasonable 
to assume that when their course is run, they 



182 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

will merge into it again ? Eia, fratres, per- 
gamus. 



May 14. At this most exquisite moment of 
the year as also it came about last May I 
find myself in the Bridge End Garden. The 
sky is clear, the sun is warm yet not hot, for 
the year is young and light breezes lap me round. 
The great trees are yet scarce covered by the 
soft divine green leaves that swell and open 
every day before my eyes, while behind me, 
I know, the apple and cherry trees are masses 
of white and pink tinged bloom, and the lilacs 
have sprung into bloom even since we came to 
this corner of Essex scarce more than a day ago. 
From just outside the Garden the beautiful 
bells of the Church sprinkle over me at intervals 
little golden showers of their leisurely notes, 
and within the Garden more birds than I know 
are rapturously pouring out their various songs. 
Once more, with the young Spring of the old 
Earth, my heart, too, is young, and I drink 
of the cup of Life's ecstasy, gazing down 
awhile at the book before me of Ruben 
Dario's Prosas Profanas, the meet com- 
panion for such a moment and such a mood. 
I read how on such a day as this the poet's 



THE SACRAMENTAL CUP 183 

soul looked out from the window of his 
" Reino Interior." 

Oh fragrante dia ! Oh sublime dia ! 
Se diria que el mundo esta en flor ; se diria 
Que el corazon sagrado de la tierra se mueve 
Con un ritmo de dicha ; luz brota, gracia llueve. 
Yo soy la prisionera que sonrie y que canta ! 

Still a prisoner, even in ecstasy. One drinks 
of the cup of ecstasy, but it is sometimes also, 
sometimes even at the same moment, the cup 
of anguish. For ecstasy and anguish are the 
life-blood of the world. They are the Sacra- 
ment, of Truth or of Beauty or of Love, in 
which the two elements are mingled. It is 
because one has drunk deep, if but once only, 
of that mingled cup that at last, and only at 
last, one becomes the Master of Life and the 
Master of Death, unable in the end even to 
see them apart, or to find any blemish in the 
face of either. So, unmoved in spirit, we can 
depart from Life to Death, satisfied and serene, 
swathed in the benediction of " the Peace of 
God which passeth all understanding," as in 
old days they called it. 



May 21. A friend showed me yesterday 
the rarely seen but often mentioned obscene 
Sonnetti Lussuriosi of Aretino, written to 



184 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

accompany the yet more noted Figurae Veneris, 
now lost save in bad copies, of Julio Romano, 
once accounted the first painter of his time. 
They seemed to me to be dull, and monotonous 
in their dulness, unworthy not merely of the 
high reputation of Aretino, mezz* huomo et mezzo 
Dio, but of the really sapid and vigorous pen 
of the scandalous friend of the noble Titian. 

It may seem the correct and conventional 
thing to say when the question is of obscenity. 
Yet there need be no objection to obscenity 
as obscenity. It has its proper place in art 
as in life. The greatest writers have used it, 
Aristophanes, Dante, Chaucer, Rabelais, Sterne, 
even Shakespeare and even Goethe have some- 
times been obscene. So also have the greatest 
painters, even Rembrandt, and the greatest 
sculptors down to Rodin. Nor must we, as 
some would have us, regard the obscenity of 
these great spirits as a stain to be pardoned 
and effaced ; it is in the texture of their 
minds and their works, and that is why we 
must always resist any would-be " expurga- 
tion." To deny the obscene is not merely to 
fetter the freedom of art and to reject the 
richness of Nature, it is to pervert our vision 
of the world and to poison the springs of life. 
But the expression of obscenity alone can 



ARETINO 185 

only be a satisfaction, and then but moment- 
ary, to the crudest and most childish mind. 
Obscenity only attains its true and full value 
when it is the means of attaining a deeper 
reality and a newer beauty. That is how the 
great masters have used it, and therein is their 
justification. Those who object to obscenity 
and yet have not realised this even when they 
are so-called artists who wish to proclaim their 
own refined superiority yet thereby merely 
" write themselves down " in the Shakespearian 
sense have no right to lay their sacrilegious 
hands on the obscene. 

I am indifferent to the obscenity of Aretino 
because I fail to see in it any insight into life 
or any unfamiliar beauty. It impresses me 
no more than the achievement of small boys 
who chalk up solemn naked words in capital 
letters on street walls and then run away ; 
and it seems to me a manifestation of like 
nature. 



May 24. Walking along the street early 
this Saturday morning, I noted a well-dressed 
man with rings on finger, daintily hearth- 
stoning his front doorstep. I heard years 
ago of a high Government official who was 



186 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

wont to do this, but I have not before come 
across a man of this sort of social class thus 
occupied, and I viewed the spectacle with 
satisfaction. It is a spectacle that enters into 
my vision of life. I would contemplate with 
equal pleasure a peer of the realm, even if a 
little too gingerly, scrubbing the entrance to 
his own palace and a scullerymaid, even if 
a little too vigorously, playing Debussy on a 
grand piano. 

It is merely an application of a great truth 
that applies to all the essential functions of 
living. In this as we call it menial sphere, 
it has indeed long been clear ; even Jesus 
perceived it. I have no need to feel ashamed 
if to sweep my floor " as by God's laws " 
gives me a delicate pleasure. But in some 
fields of living the application is less explicit. 
It might seem so shocking, even so disgusting, 
to those weaker brethren who are not artists 
in living. Yet there should be no greater joy, 
if we would come nearer to the attitude of 
God, than when, amid the functions of life, 
we put down the mighty from their seat and 
exalt those of low degree. This statement, let 
us remember, is presented as that of a village 
maiden who had recently received an erotic 
initiation, of which she has left the precise 



THE TRIUMPH OF PUERILITY 187 

nature for ever hidden in the vague splendour 
of that Magnificat. 



May 26. " Saved ! " That word in large 
capitals stands alone at the head of the news- 
papers this morning. The whole world is so 
much in need of salvation lately that a throb 
of hope might well instinctively seize the heart 
at the mere sight of that reassuring exclama- 
tion. But it merely means that a daring but 
foolhardy airman, who attempted without 
sufficient precautions to cross the Atlantic and 
naturally fell into the sea, had been rescued 
alive. A large part of the newspapers is 
occupied with' the description of the delirious 
joy of the British public on this event, and 
nearly half a column is needed to describe 
how the airman's wife thankfully went to 
church. All the agony of the world, the 
slow starvation of millions of mankind 
crushed to despair, is forgotten, if it had ever 
been known. 

I have long held that the gradual course of 
zoological evolution is towards the type of the 
child, which is also the type of Genius. In 
actual practice, we have perhaps to recognise, 
this progress means less the prevalence of 



188 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

genius than the triumph of what we call 
Puerility. 



May 31. She is girlish and slender, this 
great master of the violoncello. An attractive 
figure to look at as she comes on the platform, 
with her great beautiful instrument and her 
tragic Egyptian face, the brown hair that half 
falls and half curls round her head, wearing an 
embroidered wine-coloured overdress with long 
hanging sleeves and underskirt of bright grass- 
green silk, most like a playing angel from the 
heavenly choir of some Florentine or Venetian 
Paradise. She is always grave and simple, 
she knows how to smile, but when her instru- 
ment is against her shoulder she is absorbed 
in her art and only speaks by her expressive 
eyes. She plays the concertos of Schumann 
and Lalo and a truly Spanish little Serenade 
Espagnole by Glazunov. She is so serious, 
the artist within her is so intensely alive. 
At times, when she bends back her head and 
long bare neck, and the blood-dyed drapery 
strays from the extended arm, she seems 
crucified to the instrument ; with arched eye- 
brows raised there is almost an expression of 
torture on her face, one seems to detect a 



A VIOLONCELLIST 189 

writhing movement that only the self-mastery 
of art controls, and one scarcely knows whether 
it is across the belly of the instrument between 
her thighs or across her own entrails that the 
bow is drawn to evoke the slow deep music of 
these singing tones. 

She is gone. And now she comes on again, 
and she smiles and bows, and before the 
prolonged storm of hands that clap, at last 
she slightly raises both her arms outwards 
as though she would let fall from her the 
applause of the public before a revelation in 
which it has no concern. 

Then the dull street and the memory of a 
glimpse of Heaven withdrawn. 



June 3. On the estate of Mr. Balfour in 
East Lothian the discovery has lately been 
made in a pit, some two feet deep by two feet 
in diameter, of a hoard of broken silver vessels 
belonging to the fourth century. Some of the 
fragments were chased with designs which 
recalled in delicate beauty the work of the 
Renaissance, and some revealed sacred Chris- 
tian emblems, while among them were casually 
mixed a few Roman coins and some rough 
Saxon ornaments. 



190 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

It is surmised that this hoard represented 
the plunder made by some barbarian Saxon 
pirates from the Frisian coast, pioneers in the 
Anglo-Saxon seizure of Britain, who had taken 
up their abode here, and here concealed the 
loot they had borne off from some monastery 
in Gaul, intending to melt it down, but frus- 
trated by some sudden mischance, it may be 
the swift vengeance of the people they had 
injured. Even in those days our forefathers 
found the fruits of victory hard to gather. 

We still live in the same world. To-day, 
sixteen centuries later, Mr. Balfour, who has 
in due course succeeded to the same East 
Lothian seat, is organising a plundering excur- 
sion to Gaul, with certain others in the band 
Clemenceau, Lloyd George, Wilson, Orlando, 
and the rest not this time to loot merely a 
monastery but the whole world. 

History, it seems, like Nature, delights in 
a perpetual slight novelty. Here we see, not 
merely an immense magnification of a process 
which is essentially the same, but an impartial 
transformation of the labels. We call the 
plunderers Christians now, we call the plun- 
dered barbarians, and we realise the importance 
of that ancient natural device of mimicry, 
which we call by the unnecessarily hideous 



THE VICTORY DERBY 191 

name of camouflage, and we paint, over all, 
the beautiful figures of Justice and Democracy 
and Righteousness. 

Be of good cheer. It is only externals that 
change. The world is essentially the same, the 
world out of which we proceed, into which we 
pass again as in my first circus at Antwerp 
where once with childish joy I viewed the 
endlessly emerging procession of whooping 
horsemen who galloped round and out at one 
side to reappear on the other side, the end- 
lessly emerging procession which was yet 
always the same. 



July 5. An admirable journalist, Mr. 
Harold Begbie, describes the Derby, the so- 
called " Victory Derby." He tells how happily 
he set out, and how a mood of depression and 
melancholy slowly crept over him until his 
dominant feeling was pity, and even the 
comedians seemed to him tragic. This dark 
and dreary " Victory Derby " he cautiously 
refrains from directly suggesting that it was 
symbolic of our " Victory "seemed to him 
sombre and touched by menace. 

I have never been to the Derby and I am 
well content that it should reflect for the 



192 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

benefit of the thoughtless some faint image 
of the world to-day. But at the same time I 
know that there was nothing novel in the 
sight that met Mr. Begbie's perhaps unfamiliar 
eyes. For though I have never been to the 
Derby I was a boy at school on the high road 
from London to Epsom and was wont to watch 
all day for we were always given a holiday 
for such an occasion the crowds, from lords 
to costers, that drove to and from the Derby. 
As long as I live I can never forget the people 
in that long melancholy procession of varied 
vehicles. Those pale, weary, draggled figures, 
their pathetically vulgar jokes, their hollow 
spasmodic gaiety, sadder than sorrow, that 
depressed Mr. Begbie yesterday, were just the 
same nearly half a century ago. 

They are not merely symbols of our joy in 
Victory, they are still more significant of our 
national temperament. For all our boasted 
practicality, we are idealists always, and in- 
deed that practicality is an outcome of our 
idealism, always pitched too high for any 
satisfaction that the world can yield, yet 
always impelled to seek it with ever more 
feverish energy. We have not the aptitude 
of the French to become artists in life and 
accept all its eventualities with good humour. 



ENGLISH IDEALISM 193 

We have not the aptitude of the Spanish to 
be children in life and to appreciate simply 
all its little things. We are so high strung 
that there is nothing left for us but religion 
and the variegated preachers who form that 
spectacle, unique in the world, we see at the 
Marble Arch. 



July 14. I have been reading a fragment 
of Interim by Miss Dorothy Richardson whose 
impressionistic novels arouse the enthusiasm 
of many lovers of fine literature. Certainly 
it is delightful to read. There is such a 
beautiful surface to this writing, so smooth 
and yet so rich. I pass my hand over the 
texture of it with a delicious as it seems 
physical sensation. And one feels that there 
is here throughout so exquisite a sensibility 
to the inner world and the outer world. Every 
sensation, every emotion, every thought, that 
passes over the heroine, no matter how subtle 
or how trivial, the whole stream of conscious- 
ness, is noted with such precise discrimination, 
I feel as though the writer had brought to her 
task a new instrument of a high power a 
microscope that reveals fresh details, a micro- 
meter that cuts more finely, a thermometer 

o 



194 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

that registers slighter variations. Other writers 
may reveal but it is by different methods, 
Conrad, for instance, by a splendid felicity of 
metaphor and simile, a poet's art, as also in 
a different way is the art of Hardy. But 
Dorothy Richardson is not a poet. She is an 
artist, certainly, but an artist who has some- 
thing of the scientific attitude, and her 
observation is marked by a delicate precision 
which is nearer to science than to poetry. 
We feel that the surface of Miriam's soul is 
being explored before us in every little inti- 
mate fold and flock, by an investigator who is 
tender indeed yet ruthlessly exact. It is very 
fascinating. 

Yet, I am inclined to ask myself, is it also 
very interesting ? I can read a few pages of 
it with a rare enjoyment. But is there any- 
thing in it to draw me on through a thousand 
or more pages ? I crawl with satisfaction 
over this beautiful surface, and I am quite 
ready to believe that it is not merely surface 
but in real connection with a depth beneath. 
Yet that depth is not revealed to me by the 
artist. I have to divine it, even to create it, 
by my own efforts. 

What diminishes my interest in work that 
is yet so fine, is my feeling that the artist is 



DOROTHY RICHARDSON 195 

not in complete control of that work. She 
seems to have set out to tell us everything, to 
involve her whole art in the completeness of 
this record of one woman's soul spread out 
through half a dozen volumes. We know how 
Miriam reacted to every plate of food and 
every drink set before her at dinner ; we know 
how she felt all over her body when she sat in 
an uncomfortable chair ; we know exactly how 
the streets of London appeared to her sensi- 
tively discerning vision ; we know what her 
blouse seemed like to her, and her night-dress. 
Yet we discover that whole vast tracts of 
consciousness, at least equal in importance to 
these, and sometimes of far greater importance, 
are shut out from our view. Miss Richardson 
has at every point submitted her scheme to an 
inner censorship made in the image of the 
conventional public. We see that she always 
has an eye on the Circulating Librarian, and 
as soon as she begins to detect the trace of a 
frown on his face she has changed her course. 
We are told in the most minute detail all that 
had happened at breakfast, and after breakfast 
we are told how Miriam went upstairs, and 
how she passed the little lavatory door, but 
we are not told why she passed that little door 
just when we might have expected her to enter 



196 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

in. So of greater and more significant events 
in personal life, which yet must needs be bound 
up inextricably with the intimate and the 
trivial. In Miriam's bedroom, minutely and 
precisely as so many unimportant little details 
are set down, we only become the more con- 
scious of the things that are not set down. In 
that room, we realise, Miss Richardson has been 
faced by the essential facts of Miriam's physical 
and spiritual life, and she has failed to meet 
the challenge. She set out to present before 
us Miriam complete, and yet the things that 
matter are left a blank which the minuteness 
of the record itself serves to emphasise. 

Now the realisation of such a blank might 
be impertinent, or in bad taste, before novelists 
who had not undertaken to set before us all 
the intimate details of life. We have no sense 
of failure before Fielding or Flaubert or Tolstoy. 
Their art involved the exclusion of all details 
that were not significant, though they never 
asked the world what details they might be 
allowed to count significant. But Dorothy 
Richardson's method is different. It is a com- 
prehensive method of recording even the 
faintest fluctuations on the stream of con- 
sciousness. It is more like the method of 
the Goncourts (and a little like the method 



DOROTHY RICHARDSON 197 

of Proust), more subtle and more veracious 
than the method of the Goncourts. But the 
Goncourts were not afraid to set the essential 
things down. They never came humbly to 
the world, or even the police, to ask what they 
might be allowed to set down, they preferred 
prosecution to that (remember La Fille Elise), 
and so their art, even though it may be in 
some respects inferior, is nearer to great and 
original art, which is always fearless. 

No doubt it would be unpleasant to meet 
the condescending disapproval (which every- 
thing great and real must meet) of the superior 
person. One may be told that Dorothy 
Richardson perhaps bears in mind James Joyce, 
whose Ulysses appears alongside Interim in the 
same Little Review ; he has written down what 
he desired to write down but only with the 
result that it is " expurgated " before it reaches 
the public. It would, they say, be impossible. 
But if one deliberately chooses a method which 
leads straight to the Police Court and then 
oneself stops short because the road seems im- 
possible, one admits that one's whole art is 
impossible. And for the great artist there is 
nothing impossible. He knows that if he 
cannot live up to the implications of his art 
then either his art is wrong, or he is. Here I 



198 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

find a new and exquisite instrument for art 
has been created, but it is guided by the hand 
of Mrs. Grundy. 

That seems to be the reason why my ad- 
miration for Dorothy Richardson's art is so 
considerable and my interest in it so small. 



July 19. To-day is a Day of Joy to cele- 
brate the coming of " Peace." It seems to be 
thought that we should all be well content to 
celebrate anything whatsoever that is able to 
masquerade under that name. But that any 
one who remembers the beginning of the war, 
and the cause of it, can find anything in the 
present " end " of it to rejoice over is a whole- 
some reminder that we must never take the 
world too seriously. 

" Every country has the criminals it de- 
serves," said Lacassagne profoundly. And if 
a few ancient and doddering persons have 
survived out of a past that some thought 
dead, to mould the present, it must doubtless 
,be added that every country has the rulers it 
deserves. They urged on their people five 
years ago to what they called " a war to end 
war " (much as though, a keen-witted woman 
has said, they had urged them on to acquire 



A DAY OF JOY 199 

syphilis, as "a disease to end disease"), and 
already their military leaders, feeling that that 
cliche was perhaps a little silly even for human 
consumption, are bringing forward others still 
more familiar about " a war like all wars," and 
the " lessons that will be useful for the next 
war," and the dishonour of " shaking hands 
with a blood-stained tyranny " (not of the 
Tsardom, oh no !), and now that the War to 
end War is so triumphantly concluded we are 
all bidden to rejoice over the Peace to end 
Peace. Great is the power of words. Give us 
this day our daily catchword, the public prays, 
and our Governments are in that kind of ration- 
ing indeed experts. Bread and circuses they 
gave the Roman public, they give the British 
the Newspaper Press, and it seems to be 
equally satisfying at a smaller cost. So it is 
that the faith in Progress is justified. 

It has seemed to me that I could not more 
fittingly celebrate this great occasion than by 
lying down quietly at home and re-reading the 
account of Gulliver's visit to the Houyhnhnms. 
Swift has been roughly used during two cen- 
turies. On the one hand he has been regarded 
as a cynic who degraded human nature. On 
the other hand with that contradictoriness 
which is certainly of the essence of human 



200 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

nature he has been regarded as the accom- 
plished author of a book for children. We all 
read Gulliver's Travels in childhood, with never 
a word of introduction or explanation. That 
Swift was one of the supreme masters of 
English, the deepest and most sensitive of 
moralists, the most far-sighted of philosophers 
that we are left to find out for ourselves, or 
to discover in the writings of foreigners, as of 
the Italian critic Papini, often so severe in 
his estimates of literary persons, yet ready to 
recognise in Gulliver's Travels a book unique 
among the world's greatest books, with a pro- 
fundity of wisdom beneath the surface of it 
which for every generation is new. 

So what book could I more profitably take 
down from my shelf to-day ? Yet I note that 
however truthfully Swift describes them, he 
never mentions that the moment when the 
world was stretched on the rack of a torture 
they could themselves have unwound if they 
would, was the moment the Yahoos were wont 
to celebrate a Festival of Joy. 



July 20. I sometimes like to make clear to 
myself what are the great sentences in English 
that appeal to me most. As to Raleigh's in- 



GREAT ENGLISH SENTENCES 201 

vocation of Death, as the most magnificent, I 
seldom vary. It may not be a perfect sentence, 
one touch more to its grandiosity and it 
might topple over into absurdity. But the 
most magnificent it stilj remains. The most 
beautiful to me is Temple's sentence on Life : 
" When all is done, human life is, at the greatest 
and the best but like a froward child, that 
must be played with and humoured a little, to 
keep it quiet till it falls asleep, and then the 
care is over." There is a cadence there to 
thrill along the nerves as in no other sentence 
I can recall. (One might find others perhaps 
in Saintsbury's History of English Prose Rhythm, 
a delightful book by an author with a wonder- 
fully large and miscellaneous appetite for litera- 
ture.) Is it strange, or is it not strange, I ask 
myself, that the two writers who thus summed 
up Death, and Life were not men of letters 
but a man of action, a man of affairs ? They 
never twice approached that height, though 
Temple, at all events, made other attempts to 
say the same thing, as when he wrote : " After 
all, life is but a trifle, that should be played 
with till we lose it, and then it is not worth 
regretting." As the greatest masters of sen- 
tences, however, others nearly followed leav- 
ing aside our translators of the Bible, who were 



202 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

superb and I would name first Bacon and 
Landor, again a man of affairs and a man who 
would, if he could, have been a man of action. 
Bacon, supreme in a concise weightiness which 
yet embraces both exaltation and depth, Landor, 
in artfully wrought variety of perfection. Some- 
times I would add Browne and often Thoreau, 
and occasionally I hesitate over Emerson. For 
in Emerson the fine sentences tend to become 
a little monotonous, almost a routine, and with 
too oracular a gesture. We can scarcely appre- 
ciate the clarion of the cock as he deserves, for 
his song has little variation and we find it 
high-pitched ; there is too much gesture of the 
lifted body, too much vibration of wings, in 
this ejaculation. A blackbird's song is more 
moving, for it has a continual slight novelty, 
and it arises with complete serenity. 



August 2. I read the remarks of a journalist 
that probably every writer loathes the sight of 
his pen. If that is so it seems an excellent 
reason why the reader also should soon come 
to loathe the work of that pen. It would 
surely be well for the world if every writer 
who loathes the sight of his pen should quickly 
take the next step and cease to use it. The 



THE WRITER'S FUNCTION 203 

normal writer, one imagines, should neither 
loathe nor love the sight of his pen, so long as 
it performs its adjuvant functions wholesomely. 
He should as little loathe it as the ordinary person 
loathes the sight of a roll of toilet-paper, viewing 
it rather with a subconscious satisfaction as the 
suitable adjunct of his creative activities. 

But for my part I would say a writer is 
unconscious of his pen. He feels merely as a 
bee might feel which is instinctively building 
an exquisitely planned architecture of cells and 
loading them as richly as it can with honey, 
thankful if he may even remotely approximate 
to the bee's success. For to me the writer's 
function is most adequately expressed, in 
Swift's words, as the production of the material 
for sweetness and light. " Whatever we have 
got has been by infinite labour and search, and 
ranging through every corner of Nature. In- 
stead of dirt and poison, we have rather chosen 
to fill our hives with honey and wax ; thus 
furnishing mankind with the two noblest of 
things, which are sweetness and light." Nothing 
better was ever said about the writer's function. 
If I were ambitious, I would desire no finer 
epitaph than that it should be said of me, He 
has added a little to the sweetness of the world, 
and a little to its light. The two are indeed 



204 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

inseparable. Without a clear-eyed vision there 
can be no sweetness that is worth while, and 
without sweetness there can be no true revela- 
tion of light. Leonardo who was sweetest 
among men of art was at the same time the 
most clear-eyed among men of science. 



August 20. As I entered Folkestone Church 
this morning the question came into my mind 
for the first time why it is that churches by 
the sea are dark. I regard a church as a 
beautiful vessel for enclosing light, variously 
moulded and modulated by the artist's craft. 
I know that in the cold north the builder tends 
to fill the church to the brim with warm light 
and in the hot south to temper it cunningly 
with coolness and gloom. But athwart these 
tendencies there is the tendency, apart alto- 
gether from architectural style, from the Eng- 
lish and French churches of the Channel down 
to far Barcelona, for the builders of churches 
by the sea to cherish obscurity. 

Folkestone Church has a definite French 
touch in its massive, simple, harmonious con- 
struction, and the French signature is plain on 
the capitals of the columns. It is a church 
built on a height over the sea, and on the 



THE SAILOR'S CHURCHES 205 

opposite coast also the churchmen whose flock 
were fishermen loved to set up their churches 
as spiritual lighthouses. The large solid cen- 
tral tower seems to hold the church down in 
place on this windy height, and the east end 
that faces the gales of the sea is only pierced 
by three lancet windows and a small ovaloid 
window above. So this dark church is darkest 
in the choir, which reverses the order of light 
in a regular Gothic church, though when the 
clerestory windows of the choir were open this 
may not have been the case. These practical 
considerations of the need of resisting gales 
which once actually carried away a great part 
of this church seem adequate to account for 
the gloom of sea-coast churches. 

Yet this characteristic is so widespread I 
seem to see more in it than this. It seems to 
answer to a real spiritual demand of the man 
who lives on the ever restless and hazardous sea. 
He needs for his hours of finest aspiration 
the sense of rest and security which no storms 
of the world can touch. These enclosures 
of sacred gloom are the visible embodiment of 
that ineffable peace. This, I think to-day, is 
the spiritual reason beyond all practical 
reasons why the seaman's perfect church is 
nearly everywhere a dark church. 



206 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

October 2. The railway men are not an- 
archists, the Bishop of London is reported 
to have said yesterday in a sermon on the 
strike which is now paralysing the country's 
activities ; he could not believe that ; they were 
mostly persons purely interested in wages and 
acting under a mistaken impression. " There 
was, however, only one thing that Christian 
citizens could do," added this enfant terrible 
of the Church, " and that was to support the 
Government." 

There we have the real policy of the Church 
in England indeed of all the Churches in all 
the countries and the clue to the indifference, 
when it is not hostility, which the peoples of 
all the countries nowadays feel towards all the 
Churches. The Churches thought at the out- 
break of war that a great revival was coming 
for them. They see in the end that the reverse 
has happened, and they invoke, all sorts of 
reasons, save their own attitude. They fail 
to see that they have been content to be in 
every country a mere cog in the war-making 
machine, that on whichever side they were 
they have everywhere been willing to " support 
the Government," and that they share the 
discredit meted out to the Governments. 

It was not always so. Becket is not now- 



THE WAR AND THE CHURCH 207 

adays always regarded as a man to worship. 
But at least he placed the Church above 
Governments and he defied Kings. He seemed 
to fail, he was slain in his own cathedral by 
the agents of Government. But he became 
the idol of the English people, the most 
national saint that England has ever produced, 
and his tomb became the chief of English 
religious shrines, the only English shrine that 
was world-famous and the perpetual resort of 
pilgrims. 

No Canterbury Tales will ever be written of 
the pilgrims to the shrine of Becket's present 
successor on the archiepiscopal throne. Yet 
he had a magnificent opportunity. If at the 
outset of war he had risen above patriotism 
and anti - patriotism to the supreme super- 
patriotic position of Christianity, if he had 
spoken not, like Becket, in the name of Rome 
but in the name of the Lord's Prayer which 
millions still repeat, he would certainly have 
incurred the deadly enmity of the Government, 
and though he might scarcely have been found 
worthy to win the martyr's crown he would 
probably have been found unworthy to wear 
the archiepiscopal mitre. But he would have 
saved the Church, and his own name would 
never have been forgotten. 



208 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

It is merely a dream, I know, for the 
Church is now the plaything of antiquaries, 
and our Archbishop of Canterbury was the 
inventor of that formula, so religiously, morally, 
even casuistically unsound, of " regrettable 
necessities." 



October 29. I see in to-day's paper that 
Chaliapin, the great Russian actor and singer, 
is reported to be dead. 

The image comes vividly back to me of the 
tall, dignified figure, more especially in the 
part of Boris Godonov, with that air of aloof- 
ness, of spiritual serenity, by which Russians 
so often recall the traditional Christ, the ease 
and simplicity of his acting and the impressive 
singing voice, the superb Russian bass, the 
deep rich voice which alone seems adequate to 
the expression of profound emotions of tender 
humanity. 

Chaliapin I am inclined to place among the 
three stage figures I have seen who now in 
memory leave the deepest impression : Ristori, 
Salvini, Chaliapin it was the order in which 
I saw them, perhaps the order in which I 
should rank them. 

Ristori I should certainly place first, though 



CHALIAPIN 209 

I only saw her once, on the stage in Sydney, 
as Pia de' Tolomei and the sleep-walking Lady 
Macbeth. She remains in my mind as the 
absolute type of the classic in dramatic art. 
That word " classic " suggests to some people 
the coldly artificial, the conventionally unreal. 
Ristori was at the farthest remove from that, 
She was the adorable revelation of what the 
classic really means : the attainment of the 
essential in dramatic art by the road of a 
simplicity and a naturalness from which all 
superfluity and extravagance have fallen away, 
so that every movement is under control and 
every gesture significant. In classic art such 
as this, simplicity is one with dignity, and the 
last utterance of poignant intensity is brought 
within reach. Salvini was very different. He 
was not classic. He carried human passion to 
the utmost limits of expression on the basis of 
robust physical force, and seemed to have an 
immense reservoir of emotion to feed his art. 
It was not his restraint that impressed one 
but the superb and never forced expansion of 
his energy. And finally there was Chaliapin, 
neither the classic perfection of art, nor the 
exuberant embodiment of romantic emotional 
energy, but with the seal on him of a serene 
and mysterious power that was aloof from the 

p 



210 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

world. There are other great artists I have 
seen on the stage, figures instinct with fascina- 
tion or with art, some of whom touched me 
more in their time. But these three remain. 



Christmas Day. Christmas is the season for 
childhood and youth. When we are young it 
is well we should gain its experiences, and lay 
away those memories which when we are old 
will bring tears into our eyes and into our 
hearts a crowd of tender haunting joys we 
can scarce know from pains, since we are glad 
because they once were ours and sad because 
they are ours no more. In the end, it may well 
be, our gladness swallows up our sadness, for 
memory is a part of living, and those beloved 
figures of the past who live in memory are with 
us for evermore, engrained into the throbbing 
fibres of our hearts, only to die when they 
cease to beat. 

Yet one is always thankful to reach the end 
of every anniversary that is too richly burdened 
with memories. As I sit in the peaceful soli- 
tude of my room, never less alone than when 
alone, according to the old saying that Cicero 
recorded of Scipio, the couple who occupy the 
flat above begin playing on piano and violon- 



CHRISTMAS THOUGHTS 211 

cello with occasionally the accompaniment of 
the man's voice. He may not be a Pablo 
Casals and she may not be a Carrefio, far from 
it, but the long succession of duets to-night 
they seem resolved on an orgy of music which 
extends beyond midnight after I am asleep 
is for one undesigned listener a continuous 
delight, the embodiment of delicious reverie, 
as that music often is which fails to concen- 
trate absorbed attention on itself yet pleases 
us enough to play at will along the nerves and 
leave thought free. As I lie back in my chair, 
dreamily and happily, even though sometimes 
tears may seem not far away, I am borne 
along on a stream in which this endless flow 
of varied melody seems to accompany with 
willing abandonment the wayward flow of my 
own memories. I am on that ship with sails 
of silk and fine wrought tackle which Count 
Arnaldos, falcon on fist, once saw from the 
shore and heard the song of the mariner, so 
magically potent that the sea grew still and 
the birds alighted on the mast, the song 
that the Count vainly implored to be taught, 
for none could know the song who had not 
fared on the ship : 

Yo no digo esta cancion 
Sino a quien conmigo va. 



212 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

I have fared on that ship and faced the storms. 
It seems to be moonlight now, the rippling 
waters sparkle, the soft breath of the music 
is all around me, in my ears and on my face. 
Dear Presences out of the past are in the air, 
wafted on by the waves of that melody, and 
their soft wings once again touch me tenderly 
with long echoes through the inner chambers 
of my heart. I feel that it is worth while to 
have lived since I carry within these lovely 
presences, loving and beloved, out of the past, 
separated by Life or by Death, yet always 
within, ready to drop once again the soft 
petals of their kisses on my lips, while my 
unknown friends upstairs exert the magic of 
their strings and wires. 



New Year's Day, 1920. Last night as I lay 
half asleep I chanced to hear the chime of 
midnight, and immediately there was the blast 
of many sirens, harsh, discordant, monotonous, 
not even so modulated as it is possible for that 
crude instrument to be, the slow long curve 
of a distant ship's hoot across the water is not 
unpleasant, announcing the coming of a New 
Year. 

It must surely be a chastening thought to 



NEW YEAR CELEBRATIONS 213 

the children of our generation that with all 
the vaunted triumphs of their civilisation they 
have yet lost so much that when they desire 
to express publicly the expansion of their 
hearts on entering a new solar cycle they have 
recourse, not to any solemn festival or gracious 
rite or lovely songs, but to the most painful 
and hellish noise of all the painful and hellish 
noises our modern industrial system has devised. 
Even revelry, even religion, was surely 
better than this. And as I turned over again 
to sleep it was on the consoling thought that 
there are still a few people found in our day 
who welcome the New Year by dancing in gay 
costumes or kneeling in silent prayer. 



January 6. Life is not worth living, I 
read to-day in a thoughtful article in a thought- 
ful journal, unless it is continued beyond death. 
I have read that statement so often. It seems 
to be an idea passionately cherished by so 
many people. Life is nothing to them, they 
think, unless they are to live for ever. Every- 
thing else in the world is born and blossoms 
and grows lovely and fades and dies. They 
must go on for ever ! To feel like that is to 
feel an alien in the world, to be divorced from 



214 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

Nature, to be to oneself a rigid and dead thing 
for only such things persist, and even they 
undergo a constant subtle change in a Uni- 
verse that is in magnificent movement, for 
ever and for ever renewed in immortal youth, 
where there is in a deeper sense no Death 
because all Death is Life. 

There must be strong reasons why that alien 
feeling is widespread among men. The result 
of tradition ? No doubt, but of a tradition 
that goes far back in human history, even, it 
may be, in the history of earlier species of 
Man than ours. The Mousterian, who so 
carefully buried his dead, must have felt the 
same. It is a faith like the faith of those who 
believed that the sun travels round the earth, a 
faith so firm that no tortures were too precious 
to bestow on those who refused to share it. 

Yet the faith in the fixity of the soul, like 
the faith in the fixity of the earth, will not 
work out even as an ideal conception. One 
may leave aside the question of it as a fact. 
As a fact we should be ready to accept it when 
it came, while still affirming, with the dying 
Thoreau : " One world at a time, if you 
please ! " But as an ideal it is less easy to 
accept than these good people think. It is 
not merely that to live a full and rich life in 



IMMORTALITY AS AN IDEAL 215 

this wonderful world, among these fascinating 
beings, not even excluding human beings, and 
to fade away when or better, before one has 
exhausted all one's power of living, should 
surely be a fate splendid enough for the 
greatest. What has always come home to me 
is that with the dissolution of the body the 
reasons for desiring the non - dissolution of 
the soul fall away. If I am to begin a new 
life, let me begin it washed clean from all my 
defects and errors and failures in this life, 
freed from the disillusioning results of all my 
accumulated experiences, unburdened of all 
my sad and delicious memories. But so to 
begin a new life is to annihilate the old 
life. The new self would be a self that is not 
me : what has happened to me would mean 
nothing to it : what happens to it can mean 
nothing to me. 

Then again, it seems to me, and surely to 
many, that the supreme reason for desiring to 
live beyond this life is to rejoin those whom 
here we loved. But what would be left of 
them when we met again ? It is the human 
presence of the beloved, the human weakness, 
the human tenderness, that are entwined round 
our hearts, and it is these that we crave to see 
and to touch again. But if they are gone 



216 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

and could I be so cruel as to desire that they 
should be perpetuated for ever ? and if I 
myself no longer have eyes to see or hands to 
touch or a heart to throb, what can the beloved 
be to me or I to the beloved ? 

One may amuse oneself with supposing all 
sorts of powers of perception transcending our 
powers here ; yet the more they transcend 
them the more surely they would destroy all 
that we now count precious, just as, it is most 
certain, whatever transcending powers we re- 
ceived on coming into the world have totally 
annihilated from our existence all knowledge 
of the powers we may or may not have pos- 
sessed before we entered it. 

So it seems to me that this ideal regarded 
as an ideal and without reference to the 
question of fact, which we could deal with, 
if necessary, when the time came testifies to 
the curious lack of imagination which, in other 
fields also, people so often display. When we 
look at it, calmly and searchingly, it fails to 
work out. 



January 15. This evening, absorbed in 
my work, I suddenly become aware of nimble 
accomplished fingers running up and down in 



SCALES 217 

scales on a neighbouring piano. It is not 
an accustomed sound to me nowadays, it 
belongs to the far past. In youth these scales 
were a frequent and fitting accompaniment to 
the routine of one's life, sometimes I used to 
do them myself, a dull monotonous exercise, 
it seemed. But it was the faint background to 
the dreams and aspiration of idealistic youth, 
just as in later working years the like 
monotonous musical sound, that is yet not 
music, of the waves on the shore, has been 
the background of my mental life, likewise to 
fall into a dreamlike past. 

And now, just because they were an integral 
portion of that past these dull almost meaning- 
less sounds, as they once seemed, have ac- 
quired a new significance. They have become 
a part of the life they were mixed with. They 
reappear as symbols of all that was young 
and tender and aspiring in the expanding soul 
of youth, and they reverberate along the 
corridors of the mind, in their old - time 
familiarity, with a new music that is not their 
own. So, for the first time, I hear these 
ancient scales with a personal meaning, and 
am touched almost to tears. 

I suppose it is the privilege, or the burden, 
of years, that as one grows older all the world 



218 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

becomes ever more charged with emotion, all 
the fibres of one's being ever more manifoldly 
associated, all the nerves of one's senses more 
finely attuned to the vibrations that strike 
on them. So that in the end life would become 
at every moment a symphony almost too richly 
charged with meaning to be borne. But how 
amused I should once have been to know the 
day was to come when scales lay near to the 
source of tears ! 



January 17. I went this morning to 
Burlington House to see the War Pictures. 
There were only a few straggling visitors, 
though among them I found Edward Carpenter. 
As in the old parable, when the divine call 
came they all with one consent began to make 
excuse. For though the Great War has ceased 
to be of interest as a Reality, it has only to 
few begun to be of interest as a Dream. 

It was as a Dream that the war was 
presented at Burlington House. The older 
artists and the younger artists, each in his 
own individual way, have been occupied in 
weaving a Dream of Beauty. They have 
brushed away all the illusionary patriotic 
tunes of the Pied Pipers in every land, paid to 



THE WAR PICTURES 219 

lure the finest young men to one another's 
slaughter. They have brushed away all the 
horror and sordidness and misery which 
radiated from the trenches round the world. 
They have brushed away all those by-products 
of the fight which once seemed its essentials, 
for they seem to know as little of Victory as 
of Defeat. They have transmuted the Great 
War into Beauty, brooding tenderly over the 
accidental loveliness of ravaged landscapes, 
making delicate patterns out of the twisted 
bodies of mutilated men, splashing the gay 
crimson flame of flowers and of blood against 
the grey pallor of torture and death. For the 
artist comes before us with all the callousness 
of God and all the redeeming energy of Nature, 
for ever intent to make Life out of Death and 
to render to us Beauty for Ashes. 

When Rome was burning Nero fiddled. It 
is an ancient parable which remains for ever 
true, with a truth to which most of us are always 
blind. For the burning was soon forgotten, 
while the memory of the fiddling is immortal. 
Even from the first it has been so. Our 
European literature begins with Homer's story 
of a war. That war of the Greeks and the 
burning of Troy had so long passed out of 
memory that for thousands of years, until 



220 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

Troy was at length uncovered, few believed 
it had ever been ; but the fiddling of Homer 
has always been immortal. So it is again to- 
day ; the Great War is becoming a dim event 
in history ; but meanwhile our artists have 
fiddled. 



February 25. After long years I enter again 
a new place. To be on the real sea, to inhale 
its exhilarating air, to smell the tar of the 
ship, to pace the decks, to see the casual 
falling stars in a clear sky, is to go back once 
more to youth, even if one can only go back 
with all the burdens the years have left. And 
a fortnight on the sea has brought me to a new 
place. 

I had often heard of Malta, but nearly 
always as an abstraction, a Euclidian point 
in the British geometrical system, a post to 
the governorship of which military commanders 
were conveniently banished and from which 
fleets were conveniently despatched : of the 
concrete and intimate Malta I knew and cared 
nothing. Alone there remained in memory the 
remarks which Coleridge made concerning his 
stay there in that attractive book of Table 
Talk I studied in youth. 



MALTA 221 

Now Malta is a real place to me. I realise 
its southern, rocky, arid, treeless insularity, 
with the occasional touches of luxuriance. I 
dimly make out the features of a Maltese 
ethnic type, arising out of a primitive Mediter- 
ranean blend tinged by more specific elements, 
Arabic, Italian, Spanish, or what else, a 
vivacious, good - natured people it seems. I 
perceive the Maltese woman, dignified, often 
beautiful, sometimes superb in old age, robed 
always in simple unrelieved black, with the 
curious black crinoline faldetta to frame the 
head so delightfully, altogether a new and 
interesting variation on the Spanish type. 
Now I know, too, the strong mark of the 
Knights of Malta, still stamped impressively 
on the architecture of the Island, so massive, 
yet so daring, and so original in ornament 
(where else can one see such door-knockers ?) 
from the Auberge of Castile downwards. 

Yet it is not modern Malta, not even 
historic Malta, of which the memory will 
chiefly persist. The great revelation is to me 
prehistoric Malta. Here I seem to discern 
one of the summits of the Neolithic Age. In 
the great and superbly planned temples of 
that Age especially perhaps Tar-Xien lately 
excavated, one sees the image of a great 



222 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

civilisation, the reflection of high ideals, the 
embodiment of vast aspirations. Even those 
wonderful, large, finely made pots in the 
fascinating Museum of Valletta are in magni- 
tude and perfection of quality beyond what 
one sees elsewhere. And the figures of women 
or goddesses with the immense emphasis on 
the procreative size of belly and thighs witness 
to the religious veneration of fertility and 
maternity. It seems to me that the most 
impressive of all the impressive things I have 
seen in Malta is the little Neolithic figurine 
of a woman who with delicate head and hands 
and expressive body, in a long flounced skirt, 
gracefully reclines on her elbow. The whole 
of a great period of the world's history, some 
ten thousand years, perhaps the most signifi- 
cant in the evolution of human civilisation, is 
summed up by that little figurine in a language 
we shall never decipher completely. 



February 26. To-day, with a cosmopolitan 
acquaintance of ship-board, I drove to Nota- 
bile, or Citta Vecchia, as it is now commonly 
called, the ancient capital of Malta. When 
we have passed San Antonio, the Governor's 
country residence, with its pleasant old orange 



CITTA VECCHIA 223 

garden which I already know, we seem to be 
beyond the signs of English influence, and the 
architecture improves, with beautiful balconies 
to the houses and delicate plateresque porches 
to the churches. We pass a large, rambling 
peaceful building with loggias and colonnades 
which the driver points out as the " House of 
the Foolish Men " ; in England we should 
call it a Lunatic Asylum, though I doubt if 
we have any that look so pleasant to live in. 

Citta Vecchia an inland city on a height, 
with mighty walls and moat, and bastions 
which command the country and Valletta and 
the surrounding seas is the natural and 
securely seated capital of the island. That 
has always been seen ; the Romans had a 
great city here, and up to recent times, they 
say, the marble remains of Roman buildings 
lay strewn about the streets and squares in 
incredible number. They are gone now, but 
Citta Vecchia is still a dead city. Scarcely a 
soul to be seen only an occasional labourer, 
a few poor children, and but one visible shop, 
and that a wine-shop. We wandered among 
irregularly placed beautiful churches and 
private palaces, finding the architecture ex- 
quisite my companion was an expert and 
we revelled among those large, massive, 



224 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

beautifully proportioned buildings, with their 
Gothic, Moorish, Venetian, Florentine echoes, 
and the singularly fine and varied harmony 
of their windows and doors. 

Then we rambled outside the city walls 
and finally into the Hotel Pointe de Vue, as 
silent as Citta Vecchia itself, but a pretty girl 
welcomingly opens the door to us and a careful 
woman in spectacles brings us a pleasant 
lunch with a delightful bottle of Spanish wine 
in the large empty dining-room, where we 
linger long over our meal and the coffee and 
our cigarettes, to enter at last the carriage 
where our fat and beaming driver welcomes us 
as though we had not kept him waiting an 
hour beyond the stipulated time. So I promise 
him an extra eighteenpence for the delay, and 
he beams more genially than ever as he pats 
me on the back, and after an hour's quick 
drive downhill we are once more at the Marsa 
Harbour and on board the Borodino. To- 
morrow for the Piraeus ! 



February 29. I have spent an hour wander- 
ing in the Old Cemetery just outside the ancient 
city gates on the highway to the Piraeus. It 
was all for me alone, the guardian was away, 



THE OLD CEMETERY 225 

and no stranger entered. What indeed is 
there, and on such a raw windy day, to draw 
here the practical Greek ? I, too, perhaps will 
never come again. 

A confused and tangled and profoundly 
destroyed place, rough and uneven of level, as 
clearly it must always have been, with many 
cypresses waving in the gale, and a few olean- 
ders, and mosses, and coltsfoot or other weeds. 
There are, too, irregular masses of varied and 
sometimes " cyclopean " wall, and there are 
deep shafts such as one finds on Cornish moors 
over disused mines. Only here and there can 
one discern pathways, lined by the closely 
piled memorials of the dead, hammered, broken 
off, worn away primitive tombs made of slabs, 
gravestones of the kind we know, funerary 
urns in the classic convention, vigorous figures 
of animals, and, above all, the beautiful reliefs 
such as we see in Museums, still delicately 
fresh. The scenes presented are, as usual, 
various ; there may even be scenes of mortal 
combat to honour, doubtless, some militant 
youth who died in battle. But the prevailing 
design is a variation of the eternal situation 
graven on the hearts of all who lose what they 
love. No artists in marble or in verse have 
ever set forth that situation so tenderly, so 

Q 



graciously, so simply, so essentially as the 
Greeks. 

In the typical scene there are two figures, a 
man and a woman husband and wife, one 
supposes, or two women often doubtless 
mother and daughter, and one is seated in a 
chair and the other stands as if to depart, and 
they clasp each other's hands. It is not, in 
our sense, a handshake, a last farewell to the 
friend who is leaving for ever. It is much 
more a symbol of union, the expression of an 
intimate communion which continues to subsist 
even in separation. That is what the faces 
reveal. They are grave and sad and tender, 
always perfectly composed, and the eyes of 
each are fixed on the other with an aching love 
which is yet always restrained and always 
resigned. These were the scenes the Athenians 
of the classic age saw as they emerged from the 
great Dipylon on the once crowded Piraeus road. 
That is why I, too, a northern barbarian in 
whom the same emotions stir, linger here alone, 
amid the oleander bushes and the waving 
cypresses from which the Greeks have fled. 



March 1. I have always wanted to see 
Greece, and all things, it seems, come at last, 



ATHENS 227 

even without any effort on one's own part, 
though they usually come too late, and so I 
was up by seven on the little Borodino's deck 
in the cold morning air to watch the distant 
misty land. Soon amid a confusion of curved 
hills and patches of buildings I discerned above 
the bank of mist the tiny Acropolis of Athens, 
violet- wreathed by a garland of smoke, wafted 
from the two black factory chimneys which 
are the objects that stand out most vividly 
from the opalescent scene as one draws near 
the Piraeus. 

Now that I have lived in Athens several 
days, tramping the streets slowly and deliber- 
ately, as my way is in a foreign city until it 
grows for ever familiar, living in cafes and 
restaurants, I begin to feel at home. It is not 
difficult, even if the weather were not still as 
familiarly March -like as in London. Athens 
seems a little provincial Paris, rather perhaps 
one should say, a miniature Munich, with its 
neat tasteful little public buildings of soft clear 
tone. It is amiable and inoffensive, evidently 
self - complacent, completely indifferent to 
strangers, and it likes to indicate a continuity 
of relationship with the ancient classic city of 
the same name. There are other relationships 
that cannot be obliterated, there is the Slav 



228 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

and there is the Turk, to mention no others, 
but it is the classic continuity that Athens 
would emphasise. Even the chemist across 
the road finds it meet to name his shop The 
Pharmacy of Olympus. 



March 10. The goat has always symbolised 
Pagan antiquity to the Christian mind. The 
ancients themselves seem to have discerned this 
significance, since they loved to present Pan 
and their characteristic sylvan divinities the 
Satyrs of Greece and the Fauns of Italy 
with the attributes of the goat. For mediaeval 
men it was the goat that summed up all the 
qualities of antiquity and seemed the proper 
image of the Devil. In Cornwall, which is a 
northern land tinged by the south, with some- 
thing indeed of the winter climate and the 
rocky soil of Attica, the goat flourishes as 
rarely elsewhere in the north, so that some- 
times I have been startled by his beauty, that 
beauty with a certain strangeness, without 
which, as Bacon said, there is no excellent 
beauty, a beauty at once so virile and so shy, 
so emphatic and so remote, that it seemed to 
come to me out of the infinite past of the 
world. 



THE ATHENS MARKET 229 

To-day as I wandered along the Street of 
Athene, one of the most popular quarters of 
Athens, I came on the Market. I hastened 
to enter, for a city's Market embodies the 
most characteristic attitudes of the people's 
temperament, even its aesthetic temperament, 
and in Spain, indeed throughout Europe, 
sometimes in England, I have known such 
delightful Markets. 

Even before I entered I caught a hideous 
glimpse of the outside stalls, nearly all of 
meat, from living sheep lying on the ground 
through all the disgusting processes of trans- 
formation, here revealed to the full extent of 
their horror, on towards the shapes that cause 
our mouths to water, and at the entrance 
the din of wildly shouting salesmen struck 
harshly on my ears. The paved floor is 
covered with slush, dripping from the copiously 
aspersed produce, a vague nauseous odour fills 
the place, on every side are carelessly flung 
goods, heaps of pigs' trotters, ugly little fish 
and slabs of dried fish, miscellaneous piles of 
vegetables, vast cauliflowers and unhealthy red 
radishes, all at random, with complete dis- 
regard of elegance or decency, so that even 
the carelessly piled artichokes droop and fade 
on their stalks and lose their native hieratic 



230 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

grace. There are few women, sellers and 
buyers are both mostly men. Everything is 
ugly, sordid, often sickening. 

As I gladly emerge I notice, tethered in the 
corner of a portico, a goat. In this feverish 
Bedlam it alone is silent, motionless, resigned, 
yet still bearing a native dignity. The eyes 
are cast down, they seem closed ; the thoughts 
behind them, one imagines, are lost in memories 
of the far past embodied in this antique classic 
shape, a Pagan Christ amid the filthy rabble of 
brutal Christians. 



March 15. Close beside the large and sump- 
tuous and commonplace Metropolitan Church 
of Athens, set at an acute angle to it and so 
minute it could easily be fitted into one of its 
corners, is the Small Metropolis or Church of 
the Panagia Gorgopiko, now two or three feet 
below the pavement of the city. There is 
never any guardian or official ministrant there, 
but the door is always open, and now and then 
a hurried young man or a stolid girl enters 
for a few moments and with some secret 
religious motive lights a taper and sticks it 
into the appointed brass stand. There are 
not many lighted tapers, for the crowd of 



THE PANAGIA GORGOPIKO 231 

worshippers has now forsaken this little shrine 
and repairs to its great modern rival. 

For my part I find it hard to forsake. I 
never pass near without slowly wandering 
around it and around, maybe for half an hour 
at a time. (It was when so engaged that, with 
a shock of surprise such as once overcame 
Robinson Crusoe, I encountered the only 
authentic tourist I have seen in Athens, guide- 
book in hand, and he took in my little shrine 
with a glance of two seconds and duly passed 
on his way.) It is not its architecture which 
renders it so fascinating, it is no lovely monu- 
ment such as that of Galla Placidia at Ravenna. 
Merely a diminutive Byzantine Church, rather 
roughly constructed in the correct style of the 
ninth century, the earliest Byzantine build- 
ing, it is said, standing on Greek soil, and far 
more primitive than the far earlier churches of 
Ravenna. 

It is the material those first Christian 
builders of Athens used that makes this little 
church unique. Ten centuries ago Athens still 
held beautiful and scarcely ruined temples, 
while the ground must have been strewn with 
fragments of exquisite sculpture which none 
noted. But the builders of this little church 
noted them and carried some away to fit into 



232 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

the walls of their new church. They evidently 
thought them pretty, for they showed a certain 
barbaric taste in the positions they framed 
them into, placing highly wrought capitals 
into the angles, and a delicate frieze over the 
west door, taking care to carve one or two 
Greek crosses on it, and here and there at 
random they put a little funeral stele, but 
they were no slavish admirers of pagan anti- 
quity, and one relief it is certainly a specially 
pagan one they set in the wall sideways 
without any constructional excuse. They felt 
more confidence, no doubt, in the merely 
decorative fragments of stone they put in at 
random, and especially, and not without justice, 
in the real Byzantine carvings, modern as they 
then were, and in their way excellent, and here 
we see a number of these fantastic beasts, so 
emphatically and absurdly and complacently 
following their own convention, and yet so 
instinct with realistic vital energy, the com- 
bination of qualities which make Alice in 
Wonderland a Byzantine achievement, and 
everywhere we see crosses to sanctify these 
dubious thefts : the plain equal-armed cross with 
its exaggeration, the Maltese cross (so obviously 
suggested by the ease with which the relief of a 
classic chariot-wheel can be converted into the 



THE AMBER BEADS 283 

sacred Christian emblem by cutting away the 
free segments that I wonder whether that was its 
origin), the Latin cross, the double-armed cross 
now called of Lorraine ; they are all repeated 
here again and again. 

It is a little shrine of religion, a little museum 
of art, in which the northern barbarians sought 
to harmonise the conflicting ideals of two 
thousand years. They have been trying to do 
it better ever since, I among the rest. 



March 17. I often say to myself that the 
modern Greeks, however amiable, are hardly 
an interesting people, new-made, lacking those 
ancient habits and traditions which make some 
peoples so interesting apart from any personal 
quality of the individual who reveals them. 

There is, however, at least one trait of the 
Athenians which really amuses me. I mean 
the habit among the men of carrying in their 
hands a string of amber beads, real or imita- 
tion, after the fashion of a rosary. One may 
see a distinguished and well-dressed old gentle- 
man with his hand held in front of him and 
from it the string of yellow beads quietly 
pendent. More often the beads are in constant 
motion, especially when carried by men of the 



234 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

lowest middle class, which seems the class most 
apt for this habit. All the time as they walk 
these men are nervously and automatically 
counting the beads backwards and forwards on 
the string. Sometimes a man will join his hands 
behind his back and waggle the beads at the 
place where some of our better-endowed fellow- 
creatures carry a tail, so that I am reminded 
of my own ancient desire to possess such an 
organ of expression for the emotions that are 
too subtle, or not subtle enough, for words. 

It is a wonderful discovery, though not, it 
seems, of the Greeks, for I understand that it 
is an Arab custom. I know that if I live much 
longer in Athens I also shall not be happy 
until I have a string of amber beads. I know 
also exactly how I shall prefer to carry them. 
Already my fingers are feeling for the beads 
that are not there. And to-day as I wandered 
through the fascinating Old Bazaar, the most 
genuinely Oriental corner of Athens, a young 
dealer ran out of his box-like shop, eagerly 
asking what I would like, and pointed, as 
though he divined my desire, precisely to a 
beautiful string of amber beads, for which he 
demanded three hundred drachmas. But with 
seeming indifference I heroically repelled his 
advances and passed on. 



THE KORAI OF THE ACROPOLIS 235 

March 20. How familiar it all seems ! 
That is the first inner exclamation of a certain 
disappointment on coming into contact with 
Greek antiquity in Athens. One has been 
seeing it, reproduced or degraded, all one's 
life. One has already accepted all the tradi- 
tional estimates, or remained indifferent when 
they clashed with one another. I suppose it 
is possible to come to Athens and go away in 
that faith, to die in it peacefully at last. 

I have seen it all before ! Yet, as from time 
to time I leave the bright little city of Athens 
to grope patiently among all these shattered 
and scattered fragments, I begin to realise 
that it is not so. I have seen nothing of it 
before ! 

I began to realise this dimly, before I had 
been a week in Athens, while I sat long before 
the little ancient statuette which copies the 
huge elephantine statue of Athena Phidias 
made for the Parthenon, and developed the re- 
pulsion I felt for that heavy figure absurdly 
overladen with all the conventional attri- 
butes of the tutelary deity. It is one of the 
master's supreme achievements, and I had 
taken for granted the impressions of other 
people, impressions that were not mine, nor 
made for me, nor in any degree fitted for me, 



236 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

people doubtless too akin, Puritanic northern 
barbarians cloistered in colleges, who had 
bound me up in their own narrow traditions. 
Before the liberating Athena of Phidias I 
obscurely felt the fetters falling away. 

Now, as the weeks go by, I begin to know 
more definitely what suits me. I am happier 
before the Erechtheion than the Parthenon ; 
the broken fragments of the frieze of the 
Wingless Nike, only to be reconstructed by 
the creative imagination, but so playfully 
daring and with such accomplished ease, fasci- 
nate me even more than the gracious solemn 
conventions of Phidias ; the little out-of-the- 
way museum on the Acropolis is a greater 
revelation than the famous National Museum, 
even though that holds the Eleusinian relief, 
which may well remain more deeply printed in 
memory than anything I have seen in Athens. 
I approach with joy the " triple - bodied 
demon " with his merry lustful eyes and his 
full cheeks and his three green beards, and 
the bodies which cease to be human in a huge 
coiled snake banded with green and red ; the 
God Tritopatores, they call him, adored of 
young married women, bringing with him, even 
to the beginning of the seventh century B.C., 
the gay realistic vigour of the Minoan age not 



THE DISCOVERY OF GREECE 287 

yet refined away into the age-long pale pro- 
cession of graceful conventions. I wander with 
untiring delight in the little rooms beyond to 
embrace with my eyes all these archaic women 
figures dug out of the Acropolis in recent 
years who knows who these Korai were ? 
mutilated but so fresh, so intimately alive, 
with their red hair and their smiles more 
subtle and varied than Monna Lisa's, and all 
the delicate Ionian detail of their close-woven 
green undergarments and the stained em- 
broidered hems of their robes. Here at last I 
am at home in Greece. 

So it is that amid the wonderful confused 
distressing mass of ancient defaced fragments 
often commonplace but sometimes exquisite 
the soft clear dawn of Greece breaks slowly on 
my mind. It is better, far better, to cultivate 
one's own taste, however bad, than to affect 
the taste, however good, of other people. 
My values are revalued. I follow my own 
instincts, I see with my own eyes. 



March 21. This keen March Sunday morn- 
ing, as I went for the last time up to the 
deserted Acropolis, once the sacred centre of 
the city's life, I noticed on the slope opposite 



238 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

the Areopagus hillock the rich dark crimson 
poppies blooming among the wild oats and 
barley in ear. In the afternoon, as the day 
grew softer, I sat under the trees in the Royal 
Palace Garden where birds sang, the kin of 
our English birds, and a pleasant home-feeling 
came over me as I recalled how I have felt the 
same thrill of Spring in many a beloved English 
haunt in May or early June. And at evening 
as I wandered among the cheerful, good- 
humoured Sunday crowd, mostly men as 
usual, filling the busy streets that lead into 
the Omonoia Square, I chanced to glance, as 
they never glance, to the twilight sky, and 
stood entranced to watch the exquisite vision 
of the new moon, a delicate little vessel of 
pale brilliancy floating on the soft sunset sky. 

A singularly bare stony land, this land of 
Greece, scarred by earthquakes, devastated by 
men in war and in peace, scorched by the 
sun, its houses and its few rivers alike dyed 
by mud : it is on this background that the 
rare flashes of loveliness make so penetrating 
an appeal, alike to the northern visitor and 
the Greek, even the Greek of classic days. To 
read some of the old Greek poets one would 
think Greece must be a land of beauty where it 
is always spring. Yet the northerner has at 



AT PATRAS 239 

one point an advantage over the ancient 
Greek, for he is peculiarly sensitive to the 
delicious charm of atmosphere which to the 
ancient Greek was so familiar he could hardly 
see it, though in it lay the real beauty of 
Greece. 

It is a delicate air this of Greece, at all 
events of Athens, with a luminous moisture in 
it, and yet a lovely transparency. Its effects 
are not crude ; one may see more gorgeous 
sunsets elsewhere, even in Greece, yet I know 
not where else such a soft clear radiancy. 
This atmosphere of Greece brings me nearer 
to the ancient glory of its land than the 
swarming little city, or the rocky landscape, 
or even the melancholy desolation of its ruins. 



March 25. I sat at the Cafe placed 
pleasantly in the sea, round the lighthouse at 
the end of the pier which is also the wharf, 
at Patras, this city, else so sordid, which is set 
in a natural panorama so magnificent at sun- 
set. An Italian ship with her burden of 
passengers was just unmooring to put out to 
sea, and a sad-faced Greek from a little table 
near me was waving his handkerchief to two 
friends, a man and a woman, who stood in 



240 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

the stern, also waving, until gradually the 
ship grew dim in the distance. I was reminded, 
as I gazed, of a scene in my own life, now 
sad with the memory of things that can never 
return, and so was led on to think of the 
mental difference that must ever lie between 
the beginning of one's life and the end. I 
have often thought of that difference in regard 
to reading the difference between eager swift 
receptive youth and slow richly burdened 
mature age so that as the years go on the 
less one reads and the more one thinks. 

Now I seem to see that that difference is 
but an indication of the whole difference in 
the mental and emotional processes of child- 
hood and age. In childhood we have but few 
associations ; there is nothing to clog the 
progress alike of thought and of feeling. The 
clean, fresh, smooth - bottomed ship cleaves 
swiftly the ocean of life. But years pass, 
and the whole surface has become covered, 
covered with the living things it has gathered 
in its progress through the sea, and movement 
becomes ever slower and slower. 

So it is that now, whatever I do and wher- 
ever I am, even in this sordid Patras, every 
little incident, as I move through life, is full 
of meaning. I am weighted and held back by 



LEAVING TRIESTE 241 

memories. I move ever more slowly through 
an ocean no longer empty and cold and dull, 
but alive, alive with all the clinging joys and 
sorrows of my passage. 



March 30. I left my pleasant hotel, still 
reminiscent of Austria, over the sea at Trieste, 
early in the morning, for I was told that while 
the Orient Express, in which I had duly booked 
the first vacant place two days ahead, was 
just now the only reliable train passing through 
Italy, no one knew when it would arrive, so 
one must be in good time in case by some 
unexpected chance it should be punctual. I 
was there before seven and having placed my 
small baggage in the care of the ticket inspector 
at the exit to the trains, for I was warned 
against the insecurity of the Deposito, I spent 
the wait of four hours wandering round to 
observe the emigrating peasants who streamed 
in slowly with all their possessions in variegated 
ancient trunks and wrappings to settle down 
in the large station-hall until the uncertain 
period when their train might be ready ; 
many indeed had evidently spent the night 
there, meek and patient, just like the crowd 
of Greek peasants, young and old, whom I 

R 



242 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

had seen a few days ago arriving on the wharf 
at Patras, with their furniture and their 
household goods and their goats and their 
fowls, to camp for the night until the boat 
that was to bear them away arrived in the 
morning. It is what is happening all over 
Europe to-day with the re-making of the map, 
and the presence of new economic conditions. 

I realised this more acutely after leaving 
Trieste. At first I noticed casually that all 
along the line there were ruins, silent, deserted, 
without a sign of inhabitants, and not a single 
house anywhere intact, it seemed the ancient 
remains of habitations of former days. So I 
thought they were. Then I quickly under- 
stood that these ruins, already more silent 
and more ravaged than Pompeii, were really 
a recent devastation, the outcome of the long 
death-struggle between Italy and Austria for 
Trieste. But Trieste itself had seemed so 
cheerful and reposeful, save for the strange 
quietude of its vast and magnificent docks 
and the procession of peasants to the railway 
station, that I was unprepared for the immense 
desolation of destruction I now passed through. 
The scene changed, after Mestre was left behind. 
I felt in this neighbourhood of Venice even 
more than ever before, that here I was in a 



IN THE ORIENT EXPRESS 248 

land of painters, a land of great colourists, 
made such by the inevitable circumstances of 
their life. Every common house was a picture, 
the splashes of colour on it, thrown there, it 
seemed, by an accomplished artist ; at every 
curve of the route some rich and balanced 
composition appeared, fit as it stood to be 
transferred to canvas. All this ceased at 
Vicenza, and, even if I had not known it, I 
saw that here I had reached a real frontier. I 
was no longer in a painter's paradise, however 
pleasant the land ; no great colourist could 
be born at Vicenza : it is rightly the home of 
Mantegna and Palladio. I passed Verona and 
Brescia and skirted the Lago di Garda into 
the great city of Milan. Then the scene began 
to be lost in gloom. Soon I was asleep in 
my little bunk, only to be awakened for a 
few moments by the Swiss official who investi- 
gated my baggage and claimed five francs of 
good Swiss money for the privilege of passing 
through his land. I saw no more, and was 
never even conscious of the Simplon Tunnel. 
I awoke in the charming familiar land of 
France, to reach Paris in the afternoon. 

Never before have I flitted so swiftly across 
Europe, and the passing vision of the great 
expanse of varied land has been full of delicious 



244 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 

memories of the past, blended with a touch of 
melancholy, for that past can never live again, 
and it seemed that I was being vouchsafed 
one last swallow's glimpse over a world that 
I was leaving for ever. 

I do not complain. I am well content. 
And for two months I have been eagerly 
absorbing new sensations and gaining new 
insights into things I have desired to know for 
nearly half a century. I have basked in the 
sunshine, I have been inspirited and invigorated 
by lovely air, and since all our experiences, 
even to the end, must be blended with due 
incongruity, I find that while my baggage was 
in the care and under the eye of that genial 
Italian railway official my umbrella was care- 
fully abstracted from the rug-strap. 



INDEX 



Abnormality, 148 

Air-raid in London, 124 

Amber beads, 233 

Anglia, East, 85, 87, 166 

Anglo-Indian fears, 74 

Antwerp, 53, 191 

Aretino, 183 

Art, nations supreme in, 47 ; the 

war in, 218 
Artichoke, the, 86 
Artist, the, 145 
Athenaeus, 2 
Athens, 224 et seq. 
Augustine, St., 48, 54 
Australia, 93, 111 

Bacon, Lord, 202 

Bacon, Roger, 80 

Bagehot, 79 

Baireuth, 6 

Barres, Maurice, 51 

Baudelaire, 85 

Beethoven, 132, 134, 186, 163 

Begbie, Harold, 191 

Binet-Sangle, 73 

Birth-rate and civilisation, 19 

Blake, William, 81 

Boer War, 47 

Bologna, 14 ; its art, 15 ; its 

cathedral, 16 
Buckinghamshire, 49 
Burial service, 58, 101 
Byzantine architecture, 12, 14, 

230 

Chalfont St. Giles, 57 

Chaliapin, 23, 208 

Channel Tunnel scheme, 179 



Chesterford, 100 

Chilterns, the, 49, 58 

Chinese, philosophy, 26 ; as 
artists, 41 

Christianity, 21, 40, 171, 174, 206 

Christmas, 62, 210 ; and war, 64 

Citta Vecchia, 223 

Civilisation, very ancient, 1 ; 
its undue nervous reactions, 
8 ; and the birth-rate, 19 ; 
and Man, 56 ; of classic 
times destroyed by mosquito, 
66 

Coleridge, 220 

Conscription, 69, 105 

Cornwall, 89, 228 

Cremation, the rites of, 101 

Crete, ancient, 2, 149 

Croce, B., 145 

Dampier, 80 

" Danse Macabre," 60 

Dario, Ruben, 182 

Davanzati, Palazzo, 11 

Death, 52, 88, 103, 116, 118, 188, 
201, 212, 225 

Democracy as a disease, 181 

Dentistry, primitive, 1 

Derby, the Victory, 191 

Deubel, Leon, 44 

Dream, 60, 172 

Dunmow, Little, 154 ; Great, 157 

Dunstan, 80 

Dutch, architecture, 34 ; paint- 
ing, 41 



Ecclesiastes, 141 
Ecuador, prehistoric, 1 



245 



246 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 



Egyptians as artists, 41 

Embankment, beauty of, 128 

Emerald, the virtue of the, 106 

Emerson, 202 

English, character of, 4, 12 ; in 
poetry, 41 ; moral conscious- 
ness of, 46 ; laziness of, 68 ; 
voluntaryism, 105 ; idealism, 
192 

Erechtheion, 236 

Eternity, 169 

Fecamp, 33 
Feminine gait, 87 
Fitzwalter monument, 155 
Florence, 11, 16 
Folkestone Church, 204 
French, as artists, 41 ; as re- 
actionaries, 180 



Gait, feminine, 87 

Gull ii Placidia, Mausoleum of, 12 

Genius, the nature of, 151 

Germans, in music, 41 ; labori- 
ous character of, 70 

Germany, English moralists on, 
46 

Glastonbury, 76 

Goat, the, 228 

Goncourt, 196 

Gothic, Italian, 16 ; in Somerset, 
76, 77 

Goths ancient and modern, 48 

Gounod, 60 

Gourmont, Remy de, 2, 22 

Greece, in, 224 et seq. 

Grief, 114 

Grieg, 183 

Hampden, John, 50 

Hartmann von der Aue, 42 

Herodotus, 89 

Hinton, J., 152 

Hobbes, 79 

Homo Omnivorax, 8 

Imagination, man's lack of, 178 
Immorality and morality, 20 
Immortality, the belief in, 158, 

218 
Indians in France, 74 



International policy, 107 
Iron-work at Tunstead, 81 
Islamic, art, 13, 41 ; mysticism, 

188 
Italy, in, 11 et seq. 

Japanese, the, 41 
Jesus, 40, 72, 174 
Joyce, James, 197 

Kant, 121 
Koreans, 41 

Lanciani, 47 

Lao-Tze, 28 

Laziness of the English, 68 

Liberty, English love of, 4 

Liege, 53 

Lieh Tzu, 28 

Living, the end of, 189 

Locke, 75, 79 

London, 38, 55 

Loria, 8 

Louvain, 58 

Loyola, 25 

Lyons, Lord, 9 

Lyska, Elizabeth, 24 

Malines, 53 

Malta, 220, 222 

Man, overreaches himself, 45 ; 
versus monuments, 51 ; and 
civilisation, 56 ; as a marion- 
ette, 61 ; and Nature, 56, 82, 
84, 85, 119, 187 

Marcus Aurelius, 106 

Marionettes and Man, 61 

Markets, 229 

Mass, the, 62, 72 

Maxim, Sir Hiram, 109 

Merton Church, 94 

Militarism, 48 

Milton, 51, 57 

Mimosa, a spray of, 92 

Modesty, 181 

Morality and immorality, 20 

Moslem teacher, a, 138 

Mosquito, the, 66 

Mouse, the metaphysical, 113 

Moussorgsky, 23 

Muralt, 68 

Mysticism, 28 



INDEX 



247 



Nature, as fiction, 23 ; and Man, 
56, 82, 84, 85, 119, 137 ; and 
religion, 68 ; symbolised by 
mosquito, 67 

Neolithic age in Malta, 221 

Obscenity, the place of, 184 
Ortvay, 3 

Pain, 52 
Palencia, 15 
Papini, 200 
Parsifal, 6 
Parsons, Father, 80 
Parthenon, 235 
Patras, 239 

Patriotism, 65, 173, 177 
Peace, the, 198 
Pear, the, 54 
Penn, William, 51 
Pergaud, Louis, 45 
Peterborough Cathedral, 77 
Politics, 181 
Poppies, 81 
Posidonius, 92 
Post-Impressionism, 71 
Poussin, Nicholas, 70 
Prayer, 153 

Pre-history, 1, 148, 158 
Progress, 2, 149 
Prose sentences, 200 
Proust, 196 
Puerility, 187 

Punishment, the idea of, 42 
Purity and impurity, 96 
Pythias, 91 

Quakers, Milton and the, 58 
Quercia, Jacopo della, 17 

Rain, 37 

Raleigh, Sir W., 200 

Ravenna, 12, 13, 15 

Reading, 9 

Refreshment House Association, 

29 

Regnier, H. de, 37 
Religion, significance of, 62, 175 
Revelation of St. John, 38 
Rheims, 51, 53, 115 
Richardson, Dorothy, 193 
Ristori, 209 
Ronsard, 57 



Rousseau, 57 

Russia, the genius of, 24, 208 

Saffron Walden, 98, 182 

Saintsbury, 201 

Salle, Antoine de la, 27 

Salvation Army, 24 

Salvini, 209 

Santon Downham, 167 

Saville, Professor, 1 

Scales, musical, 216 

Schubert, 165, 170 

Sea-gulls, 89 

Shenstone, 70 

Somerset, 76 ; genius of, 79 

Song of Songs, 142 

Southey, 61 

Spinoza, 22 

Spring, the coming of, 68, 187, 

182 

Stowmarket, 58 
Stratford-on-Avon, 57 
Strike-leaders, deportation of, 5 
Suicide, 88 
Summer time, 97 
Sunrise, 93 
Swift, 199, 203 
Symons, Arthur, 19 

Tchaikovsky, 135 
Teeth, 1, 3 
Temple, Sir W., 201 
Testament, the Old, 141 
Thoreau, 202, 214 
Thucydides, 91 
Trieste, 241 
Truth, 140 
Tunstead Church, 30 

Venice, 242 

Vinci, Leonardo da, 145 
Violoncellist, a, 188 
Voltaire, 82 

Wagner, 6 

War, coming of the Great, 44, 
47 ; as man's most flagrant 
crime, 53, 64 ; how to end, 65 ; 
madness of, 71 ; purifying 
virtues of, 104 ; making it 
impossible, 110 ; and litera- 
ture, 112 ; what it teaches, 
147 ; and the Peace, 198 ; and 
Christianity, 206 ; in art, 218 



248 IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS 



Wellington, 54, 

Wells, 76 ; cathedral, ft 

Westminster Cathedral, 62, 72 

Whitman's ancestry, 100 

Woods, Dr. F., 39 

World as spectacle, the, 38 

Worstead, 30 



Wren, Sir C., 80 

Wrington, 75 

Writers' function, the, 202 

Yang Chu, 26, 28 
Yarmouth, 33 
York Cathedral, 78 



THE END 



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7 A List of Books on Philosophy and Aesthetics 

II. Philosophy and Aesthetics 

Books by George Santayana 

GEORGE SANTAYANA was [born Jn Madrid in 1863. At the age of nine he 
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Professor in 1907. A few years later he resigned his professorship and came to 
live in Europe in order to devote his time to writing. 

' GEORGE SANTAYANA is by race and temperament a representative of the 
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our modern miscellaneous shattered picture of the world, and to build an edifice 
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impulse could find, if possible, its opportunity for satisfaction, and every ideal 
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A List of Books on Philosophy and Aesthetics 8 



THE ARCHITECTURE OF HUMANISM : A Study in the 
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THE ART OF SPIRITUAL HARMONY. By WASS1LY 
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' The book is something of a revelation. No clearer exposition of 
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'An excellent translation. Kandinsky is that welcome rarity, a 
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THE MINISTRY OF ART. By RALPH ADAMS CRAM, 
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9 A List of Books on Philosophy and Aesthetics 

Books by Havelock Ellis 

AFFIRMATIONS. Studies of Nietzsche, Casanova, Zola, 
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THE POETRY AND PHILOSOPHY OF GEORGE 

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A List of Books on Philosophy and Aesthetics 10 

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Recent Contributors to the Nineteenth Century, the Thought and 
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Politics, History, Literature, Science, etc., include : 

Major-General SEELY. 

Lord ERNLE (Late Minister for AgricultureX 
Lord ASHFIELD (Late President of the Board of Trade). 

Mrs. WEBSTER. 

Sir JAMES FRASER. 

Lieut.-CoL A'CouRT REPINGTON. 

Major-General Sir JOHN DAVIDSON, K.C.M.G., G.B., D.S.O., M.P. 

(Director of Military Operations, Headquarter Staff, during 

Sir Douglas Haig's Command in France). 

Major-General Sir FREDERICK MAURICE. 

J. ST. LOE STRACHEY (Editor of The Spectator). 

Sir WILLIAM WATSON. 

Sir FREDERICK LUGARD. 

Admiral Sir S. EARDLEY-WiLMOT. 

The Hon. W. ORMSBY GORE, M.P. 

Sir SAMUEL HOARE, M.P. 

Lieut.-Col. BORASTON (Editor of The Despatches of Sir Douglas Haig). 
Brigadier- General Charteris (Late Head of Intelligence, B.E.F., France). 

Bishop WELLDON. 

Gen. Sir O'MoORE CREAGH, V.C. (Late Commander-in-Chief in India). 
The BISHOP OF ZANZIBAR. 

Sir HENRY REW. 
J. A. SEDDON, M.P. 

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Edinburgh : Printed by T. & A. CONSTABLE LTD. [Spring 1931.] 



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