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Full text of "Instigations. Together with an essay on the Chinese written character"

INSTIGATIONS 




INSTIGATIONS 

OF 

EZRA POUND 



TOGETHER WITH 

AN ESSAY 
ON THE 
CHINESE 
WRITTEN 
CHARACTER 

BY 

ERNEST FENOLLOSA 




BONI AND LIVERIGHT 

PUBLISHERS NEW YORK 



COPYRIGHT, 1920, BY 
EZRA POUND 




771 



PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 



TO 

MY FATHER 
HOMER L. POUND 






TABLE OF CONTENTS 

I. A STUDY OF FRENCH POETS 3 

Narration 3 

x Jules Laforgue 7 

Tristan Corbiere 19 

Arthur Rimbaud 29 

Remy de Gourmont , 35 

De R^gnier 40 

Emile Verhaeren 45 

Viele-Griffin 46 

Stuart Merril 47 

Laurent Tailhade 48 

Francis Jammes 53 

Moreas 62 

Spire 65 

Vildrac 67 

Jules Remains 69 

Unanimisme 78 

De Bosschere's study of Elskamp 83 

Albert Mockel and " La Wallonie " 87 

II. HENRY JAMES 106 \S 

III. REMY DE GOURMONT, a Distinction followed 

by notes 168 
vii 



viii TABLE OF CONTENTS 

IV. IN THE VORTEX 196 

Eliot 1 06 

Joyce 203 

Lewis 213 

An Historical Essayist 224 

The New Poetry 235 

Breviora 246 

PART SECOND 

V. OUR TETRARCHAL PRECIEUSE 

A divagation from Jules Laforgue 253 

VI. GENESIS, or the first book in the Bible 266 

VII. ARNAUT DANIEL 286 

VIII. TRANSLATORS OF GREEK 321 



IX. An essay on THE CHINESE WRITTEN CHAR- 
ACTER by the late ERNEST FENOLLOSA, 
edited by Ezra Pound. 357 



A STUDY IN FRENCH POETS 



INSTIGATIONS 

I 
A STUDY IN FRENCH POETS 

THE time when the intellectual affairs of America 
could be conducted on a monolingual basis is over. It 
has been irksome for long. The intellectual life of 
London is dependent on people who understand the 
French language about as well as their own. America's 
part in contemporary culture is based chiefly upon two 
men familiar with Paris: Whistler and Henry James. It 
is something in the nature of a national disgrace that 
a New Zealand paper, "The Triad," should be more 
alert to, and have better regular criticism of, contem- 
porary French publications than any American period- 
ical has yet had. 

I had wished to give but a brief anthology * of French 
poems, interposing no comment of my own between 
author and reader; confining my criticism to selection. 
But that plan was not feasible. I was indebted to MM. 
Davray and Valette for cordial semi-permissions to quote 
the "Mercure" publications. 

Certain delicate wines will not travel; they are not 

always the best wines. Foreign criticism may some- 

imes correct the criticism du cru. I cannot pretend to 

* The Little Reinew, February, 1918. 

3 



4 INSTIGATIONS 

give the reader a summary of contemporary French 
opinion, but certain French poets have qualities strong 
enough to be perceptible to me, that is, to at least one 
alien reader; certain things are translatable from one 
language to another, a tale or an image will "translate" ; 
music will, practically, never translate ; and if a work 
be taken abroad in the original tongue, certain proper- 
ties seem to become less apparent, or less important. 
Fancy styles, questions of local "taste," lose importance. 
Even though I know the overwhelming importance of 
technique, technicalities in a foreign tongue cannot have 
for me the importance they have to a man writing in 
Imost the only technique perceptible to a 
foreigner is tne pre^ntaTfanjjf^LULiLcnTas free as pos- 
sible Jrnm thp cfutteration of dead technicalities, fustian 
a la Louis XV : and from timidities^ of workmanship. 
This i< perhaps the only technique that ever matters, the 
only mcestna. 



Mediocre poetry is, I think, the same everywhere ; 
there is not the slightest need to import it ; we search 
foreign tongues for mcestria and for discoveries not yet 
revealed in the home product. The critic of a foreign 
literature must know a reasonable amount of the bad 
poetry of the nation he studies if he is to attain any 
sense of proportion. 

He will never be as sensitive to fine shades of lan- 
guage as the native; he has, however, a chance of being: 
less bound, less allied to some group of writers. It 
would be politic for me to praise as many living French- 
men as possible, and thereby to increase the number of 
my chances for congenial acquaintance on my next trip 
to Paris, and to have a large number of current French 
books sent to me to review. 

But these rather broad and general temptations can 



A STUDY IN FRENCH POETS 5 

scarcely lead me to praise one man instead of another. 

If I have thrown over current French opinion, I must 
urge that foreign opinion has at times been a corrective. 
England has never accepted the continental opinion of 
Byron ; the right estimate lies perhaps between the two. 
Heine is, I have heard, better read outside Germany than 
within. The continent has never accepted the idiotic 
British adulation of Milton ; on the other hand, the 
idiotic neglect of Landor has never been rectified by the 
continent. 

Foreign criticism, if honest, can never be quite the 
same as home criticism : it may be better or worse ; it 
may have a value similar to that of a different decade 
or century and has at least some chance of escaping 
whims and stampedes of opinion. 

I do not "aim at completeness." I believe that the 
American-English reader has heard in a general way of 
Baudelaire and Verlaine and Mallarme; that Mallarme, 
perhaps unread, is apt to be slightly overestimated; that 
Gautier's reputation, despite its greatness, is not yet as 
great as it should be. 

After a man has lived a reasonable time with the two 
volumes of Gautier's poetry, he might pleasantly venture 
upon the authors whom I indicate in this essay; and he 
might have, I think, a fair chance of seeing them in 
proper perspective. I omit certain nebulous writers 
because I think their work bad ; I omit the Parnassiens, 
Samain and Heredia, firstly because their work seems 
to me to show little that was not already implicit in 
Gautier ; secondly, because America has had enough Par- 
nassienism perhaps second rate, but still enough. (The 
verses of La Comtesse de Noailles in the "Revue d<v> 
Deux Mondes," and those of John Vance Cheney in "The 
Atlantic" once gave me an almost identical pleasure.) 



6 INSTIGATIONS 

I do not mean that all the poems here to be quoted are 
better than Samain's "Mon ame est une infante . . ." 
or his "Cleopatre." 

We may take it that Gautier achieved hardness in 
Emaux et Camees; his earlier work did in France very 
much what remained for the men of "the nineties" to 
accomplish in England. Gautier's work done in "the 
thirties" shows a similar beauty, a similar sort of tech- 
nique. If the Parnassiens were following Gautier they 
fell short of his merit. Heredia was perhaps the best 
of them. He tried to make his individual statements 
more "poetic" ; but his whole, for all this, becomes frigid. 

Samain followed him and began to go "soft" ; there is 
in him just a suggestion of muzziness. Heredia is 
"hard," but there or thereabouts he ends. Gautier is 
intent on being "hard" ; is intent on conveying a certain 
verity of feeling, and he ends by being truly poetic. 
Heredia wants to be poetic and hard ; the hardness ap- 
pears to him as a virtue in the poetic. And one tends 
to conclude, from this, that all attempts to be poetic in 
some manner or other, defeat their own end; whereas 
an intentness on the quality of the emotion to be con- 
veyed makes for poetry. 

I intend here a qualitative analysis. The work of 
Gautier, Baudelaire, Verlaine, Mallarme, Samain, Here- 
dia, and of the authors I quote here should give an idea 
of the sort of poetry that has been written in France 
during the last half century, or at least during the last 
forty years. If I am successful in my choice, I will indi- 
cate most of the best and even some of the half-good. 
Bever and Leautaud's anthology contains samples of 
some forty or fifty more poets.* 

* A testimony to the effect of anthologies, and to the prestige 
of Van Bever and Leautaud in forming French taste, and at the 



A STUDY IX FRENCH POETS 7 

After Gautier, France produced, as nearly as I can 
understand, three chief and admirable poets: Tristan 
Corbiere, perhaps the most poignant writer since Villon ; 
Rimbaud, a vivid and indubitable genius ; and Laforgue 
a slighter, but in some ways a finer "artist" than either 
of the others. I do not mean that he "writes better" 
than Rimbaud ; and Eliot has pointed out the wrongness 
of Symons's phrase, "Laforgue the eternal adult, Rim- 
baud the eternal child." Rimbaud's effects seem often to 
come as the beauty of certain silver crystals produced 
by chemical means. Laforgue always knows what he is 
at; Rimbaud, the "genius" in the narrowest and deepest 
sense of the term, the "most modern," seems, almost 
without knowing it, to hit on the various ways in which 
the best writers were to follow him, slowly. Laforgue 
is the "last word" : out of infinite knowledge of all the 
ways of saying a thing he finds the right way. Rimbaud, 
when right, is so because he cannot be bothered to exist 
in any other modality. 

JULES LAFORGUE 

(i86o-'87) 
LAFORGUE was the "end of a period"; that is to say, 

same time the most amazing response to my French number 
of the Little Review, was contained in a letter from one of the 
very poets I had chosen to praise : 

"Je vous remercie de m'avoir revele Laforgue que je connais- 
sais seulement par les extraits publics dans la premiere An- 
thologie en i volume par Van Bever et Leautaud." 

This is also a reply to those who solemnly assured me that 
any foreigner attempting to criticize French poetry would meet 
nothing but ridicule from French authors. 

I am free to say that Van B. and L.'s selections would have 
led me neither to Laforgue nor to Rimbaud. They were, 
however, my approach to many of the other poets, and their 
two volume anthology is invaluable. 



8 INSTIGATIONS 

he summed up and summarized and dismissed nineteen, h- 
century French literature, its foibles and fashions, as 
Flaubert in "Bcmvard and Pecuchet" summed up nine- 
teenth-century general civilization. Fie satirized Flau- 
bert's heavy "Salammbo" manner inimitably, and he man- 
ages to be more than a critic, for in process of this ironic 
summary he conveys himself, il raconte lui-meme en 
racontant son age et ses moeurs, he delivers the moods 
and the passion of a rare and sophisticated personality: 
"point ce 'gaillard-la' ni le Superbe . . . mais au fond 
distinguee et franche comme une herbe" ! 

Oh ! laissez-moi seulement reprendre haleine, 
Et vous aurez un livre enfin de bonne foi. 

Kn attendant, ayez pitie de ma misere ! 
Que je vous sois a tous un etre bienvenu ! 
Et que je sois absous pour mon ame sincere, 
Comme le fut Phryne pour son sincere nu. 

He is one of the poets whom it is practically impossible 
to "select." Almost any other six poems would be quite 
as "representative" as the six I am quoting. 

PIERROTS 

(On a des principes) 

ELLE disait, de son air vain fondamental : 
"Je t'aime pour toi seul !" Oh ! la, la, grele histoire ; 
Oui, comme 1'art! Du calme, 6 salaire illusoire 
Du capitaliste Ideal! 

Elle faisait : "J'attends, me voici, je sais pas" . . . 
Le regard pris de ces larges candeurs des lunes ; 



A STUDY IX KkKXCII POETS c 

Oh ! la, la, ce n'est pas peut-etre pour cles prunes, 

Qu'on a fait ses classes ici-bas ? 
Mais void qu'un beau soir, infortunee a point, 
Elle meurt ! Oh ! la, la ; bon, changement dc theme ! 
On sait que tu dois ressusciter le troisieme 

Jour, sinon en personne, du moins 
Dans 1'odeur, les verdures, les eaux des beaux mois ! 
Et tu iras, levant encore bien plus de dupes 
Vers le Za'imph de la Joconde, vers la Jupe ! 

II se pourra meme que j'en sois. 

PIERROTS 
in 

COMME ils vont molester, la nuit, 
Au profond des pares, les statues, 
Mais n'offrant qu'au moins devetues 
Leur bras et tout ce qui s'ensuit, 

En tete-a-tete avec la femme 
Ils ont toujours 1'air d'etre un tiers, 
Confondent demain avec hier, 
Et demandent Ricn avec ame ! 

Jurent "je t'aime" Tair la-bas, 
D'une voix sans timbre, en extase, 
Et concluent aux plus folles phrases 
Par des; "Mon Dieu, n'insistoris pas?'' 

Jusqu'a ce qu'ivre, Elle s'oublie, 
Prise d'on ne sait quel besoin 
De lune? dans leurs bras, fort loin 
Des convenances etablies. 



io INSTIGATIONS 

COMPLAINTE DES CONSOLATIONS 
Quia voluit consolari 

SES yeux ne me voient pas, son corps serait jaloux; 
Elle m'a dit : "monsieur . . . " en m'enterrant d'un 

geste ; 

Elle est Tout, 1'univers moderne et le celeste. 
Soit, draguons done Paris, et ravitaillons-nous, 
Tant bien que mal, du reste. 

Les Landes sans espoir de ses regards brules, 
Semblaient parfois des paons prets a mettre a la voile . . . 
Sans chercher a me consoler vers les etoiles, 
Ah ! Je trouverai bien deux yeux aussi sans cles, 
Au Louvre, en quelque toile ! 

Oh ! qu'incultes, ses airs, revant dans la prison 
D'un cant sur le qui-vive au travers de nos hontes ! 
Mais, en m'appliquant bien, moi dont la foi demonte 
Les jours, les ciels, les nuits, dans les quatre saisons 
Je trouverai mon compte. 

Sa bouche ! a moi, ce pli pudiquement martyr 
Ou s'aigrissent des nostalgies de nostalgies ! 
Eh bien, j'irai parfois, tres sincere vigie, 
Du haut de Notre-Darne aider 1'aube, au sortir, 
De passables orgies. 

Mais, Tout va la reprendre ! Alors Tout m'en absout. 
Mais, Elle est ton bonheur! Non! je suis trop immense, 
Trop chose. Comment done ! mais ma seule presence 
Tci-bas, vraie a s'y mirer, est 1'air de Tout: 
De la Femme au Silence. 



A STUDY IN FRENCH POETS n 

LOCUTIONS DES PIERROTS 

VI 

Je te vas dire : moi, quand j'aime, 
Cest d'un coeur, au fond sans apprets, 
Mais dignement elabore 
Dans nos plus singuliers problemes. 

Ainsi, pour mes moeurs et mon art, 
Cest la periode vedique 
Qui seule a bon droit revendique 
Ce que j'en "attelle a ton char/' 

Comme c'est notre Bible hindoue 
Qui, tiens, m'amene a caresser, 
Avec ces yeux de cetace, 
Ainsi, bien sans but, ta joue. 

This sort of thing will drive many bull-moose readers 
to the perilous borders of apoplexy, but it may give 
pleasure to those who believe that man is incomplete 
without a certain amount of mentality. Laforgue is an 
angel with whom our modern poetic Jacob must struggle. 

COMPLAINTE DES PRINTEMPS 

Permettez, 6 sirene, , 

Voici que votre haleine 

Embaume la verveine; 

C'est rprintemps qui s'amene! 



12 INSTIGATIONS 

Ce systeme, en effet, ramene le printemps, 
Avec son impudent cortege d'excitants. 

Otez done ces mitaines; 
Et n'ayez, inhumaine, 
Que mes soupirs pour traine : 
Ous'qu'il y a de la gene . . . 

Ah ! yeux bleus meditant sur Tennui de leur art ! 
Et vous, jeunes divins, aux soirs crus de hasard ! 

Du geant a la naine, 
Vois, tout bon sire entraine 
Quelque contemporaine, 
Prendre 1'air, par hygiene . . . 

Mais vous saignez ainsi pour 1'amour de 1'exil ! 
Pour 1'amour de 1' Amour ! D'ailleurs, ainsi soit-il . . . 

T'ai-je fait de la peine? 
Oh ! viens vers les f ontaines 
Ou tournent les phalenes 
Des Nuits Elyseennes ! 

Pimbecbe aux yeux vaincus, bellatre aux beaux jar rets. 
Donnez votre fumier a la fleur du Regret. 

Voila que son haleine 
N'embaum' plus la verveine! 
Drole de phenomene . . . 
Hein, a 1'annee prpchaine? 

Vierges d'hier, ce soir traineuses de foetus, 
A genoux ! voici 1'heure ou se plaint 1'Angelus. 



A STUDY IN FRENCH POETS 13 

Nous n'irons plus au bois, 
Les pins sont eternels, 
Les cors ont des appels ! . . . 
Neiges des pales mois, 
Vous serez mon missel ! 
Jusqu'ati jour de degel. 

COMPLAINTE DES PIANOS 

Qu'on entcnd dans les Quartiers Aises 

Menez Tame que les Lettres ont bien nourrie, 
Les pianos, les pianos, dans les quartiers aises ! 
Premiers soirs, sans pardessus, chaste flanerie, 
Aux complaintes des nerfs incompris ou brises. 

Ces enfants, a quoi revent-elles, 
Dans les ennuis des ritournelles ? 

"Preaux des soirs, 
Christs des dortoirs! 

"Tu t'en vas et tu nous laisses, 
Tu nous laiss's et tu t'en vas, 
Defaire et refaire ses tresses, 
Broder d'eternels canevas." 

Jolie ou vague? triste ou sage? encore pure? 

O jours, tout m'est egal ? ou, monde, moi je veux ? 

Et si vierge, du moins, de la bonne blessure, 

Sachant quels gras couchants ont les plus blancs aveux? 

Mon Dieu, a quoi done revent-elles ? 
A des Roland, a des dentelles? 



I 4 INSTIGATIONS 

"Coeurs en prison, 
Lentes saisons! 

"Tu t'en vas et tu nous quittes, 
Tu nous quitt's et tu t'en vas ! 
Couvents gris, choeurs de Sulamites, 
Sur nos seins nuls croisons nos bras." 

Fatales cles de 1'etre un beau jour apparues ; 
Psitt ! aux heredites en ponctuels ferments, 
Dans le bal incessant de nos etranges rues ; 
Ah! pensionnats, theatres, journaux, romans ! 

Allez, steriles ritournelles, 
La vie est vraie et criminelle. 

- "Rideaux tires, 
Peut-on entrer? 

"Tu t'en vas et tu nous laisses, 
Tu nous laiss's et tu t'en vas, 
La source cles frais rosiers baisse, 
Vraiment! Et lui qui ne vient pas . . ." 

11 viendra ! Vous serez les pauvres coeurs en faute, 
Fiances au remords comme aux essais sans fond, 
Et les suffisants coeurs cossus, n'ayant d'autre hote 
Qu'un train-train pavoise d'estime et de chiffons 

Mourir? peut-etre brodent-elles, 
Pour un oncle a dot, des bretelles ? 

"Jamais ! Jamais ! 
Si tu savais! 



A STUDY IN FRENCH POETS 15 

Tu t'en vas et tu nous quittes, 
Tu nous quitt's et tu fen vas, 
Mais tu nous reviendras bien vite 
Guerir mon beau mal, n'est-ce pas ?" 

Et c'est vrai ! 1'Ideal les fait divaguer toutes ; 
Vigne boheme, meme en ces quartiers aises. 
La vie est la ; le pur flacon des vives gouttes 
Sera, comme il convient, d'eau propre baptise. 

Aussi, bientot, se joueront-elles 
De plus exactes ritournelles. 

" Seul oreiller ! 
Mur familier! 

"Tu t'en vas et tu nous laisses, 
Tu nous laiss's et tu t'en vas, 
Que ne suis-je morte a la messe ! 
O mois, 6 linges, 6 repas !" 

The journalist and his papers exist by reason of their 
"protective coloring." They must think as their readers 
think at a given moment. 

It is impossible that Jules Laforgue should have writ- 
ten his poems in America in "the eighties." He was 
born in 1860, died in 1887 of la misere, of consumption 
and abject poverty in Paris. The vaunted sensitiveness 
of French perception, and the fact that he knew a reason- 
able number of wealthy and influential people, did noth- 
ing to prevent this. He had published two small volumes, 
one edition of each. The seventh edition of his collected 
poems is dated 1913, and doubtless they have been re- 
printed since then with increasing celerity. 



16 INSTIGATIONS 

Un couchant des Cosmogonies ! 
Ah! que la Vie est quotidienne . . . 

Et, du plus vrai qu'on se souvienne, 
Comme on fut pietre et sans genie. . . . 

What is the man in the street to make of this, or of the 
Complaint e des Sons Menage s! 

L'Art sans poitrine m'a trop longtemps berce dupe. 
Si ses labours sont fiers, que ses bles decevants ! 
Tiens, laisse-moi beler tout aux plis de ta jupe 
Qui fleure le couvent 

Delicate irony, the citadel of the intelligent, has a curi- 
ous effect on these people. They wish always to be ex- 
horted, at all times no matter how incongruous and un- 
suitable, to do those things which almost any one will 
and does do whenever suitable opportunity is presented. 
As Henry James has said, "It was a period when writers 
besought the deep blue sea 'to roll.' " 

The ironist is one who suggests that the reader should 
think, and this process being unnatural to the majority of 
mankind, the way of the ironical is beset with snares and 
with furze-bushes. 

Laforgue was a purge and a critic. He laughed out 
the errors of Flaubert, i.e., the clogging and cumbrous 
historical detail. He left Coeur Simple, L'Education, 
Madame Bovary, Bouvard. His Salome makes game of 
the rest. The short story has become vapid because sixty 
thousand story writers have all set themselves to imi- 
tating De Maupassant, perhaps a thousand from the 
original. 

Laforgue implies definitely that certain things in prose 
were at an end, and I think he marks the next phase 
after Gautier in French poetry. It seems to me that 



A STUDY IN FRENCH POETS 17 

without a familiarity with Laforgue one can not appre- 
ciate i. e., determine the value of certain positives and 
certain negatives in French poetry since 1890. 

He deals for the most part with literary poses and 
cliches, yet he makes them a vehicle for the expression 
of his own very personal emotions, of his own unper- 
turbed sincerity. 

Je ne suis pas "ce gaillard-la !" ni Le Superbe ! 

Mais mon ame, qu'un cri un peu cru exacerbe, 

Est au fond distinguee et franche comme une herbe. ' 

This is not the strident and satiric voice of Corbiere, 
calling Hugo "Garde National epique," and Lamartine 
"Lacrymatoire d'abonnes" It is not Tailhade drawing 
with rough strokes the people he sees daily in Paris, and 
bursting with guffaws over the Japanese in their mackin- 
toshes, the West Indian mulatto behind the bar in the 
Quartier. It is not Georges Fourest burlesquing in a 
cafe; Fourest's guffaw is magnificent, he is hardly satir- 
ical. Tailhade draws from life and indulges in occa- 
sional squabbles. 

Laforgue was a better artist than any of these men 
save Corbiere. He was not in the least of their sort. 

Beardsley's "Under the Hill" was until recently the 
only successful attempt to produce "anything like La- 
forgue" in our tongue. "Under the Hill" was issued in 
a limited edition. Laforgue's Moralites Legendaires was 
issued in England by the Ricketts and Hacon press in 
a limited edition, and there the thing has remained. 
Laforgue can never become a popular cult because tyros 
can not imitate him. 

One may discriminate between Laforgue's tone and 
that of his contemporary French satirists. He is the 



i8 INSTIGATIONS 

finest wrought ; he is most "verbalist." Bad verbalism is 
rhetoric, or the use of cliche unconsciously, or a mere 
playing with phrases. But there is good verbalism, dis- 
tinct from lyricism or imagism, and in this Laforgue is 
a master. He writes not the popular language of any 
country, but an international tongue common to the ex- 
cessively cultivated, and to those more or less familiar 
with French literature of the first three- fourths of the 
nineteenth century. 

He has done, sketchily and brilliantly, for French lit- 
erature a work not incomparable to what Flaubert was 
doing for "France" in Bouvard mid Pecwchet, if one 
may compare the flight of the butterfly with the progress 
of an ox, both proceeding toward the same point of the 
compass. He has dipped his wings in the dye of scien- 
tific terminology. Pierrot imberbe has 

Un air d'hydrocephale asperge. 

The tyro can not play about with such things. Verbal- 
ism demands a set form used with irreproachable skill. 
Satire needs, usually, the form of cutting rhymes to drive 
it home. 

Chautauquas, Mrs. Eddy, Dr. Dowies, Comstocks, So- 
cieties for the Prevention of All Human Activities, are 
impossible in the wake of Laforgue. And he is there- 
fore ah exquisite poet, a deliverer of the nations, a 
Numa Pompilius, a father of light. And to many people 
this mystery, the mystery why such force should reside 
in so fragile a book, why such power should coincide 
with so great a nonchalance of manner, will remain for- 
ever a mystery. 



A STUDY IN FRENCH POETS 19 

Que loin Tame type 
Qui m'a dit adieu 
Farce que mes yeux 
Manquaient de principes ! 

Elle, en ce moment. 
Elle, si pain tendre, 
Oh ! peut-etre engendre 
Quelque garnement. 

Car on 1'a unie 
Avec un monsieur, 
Ce qu'il y a de mieux, 
Mais pauvre en genie. 

Laforgue is incontrovertible. The "strong silent man" 
of the kinema has not monopolized all the certitudes. 

TRISTAN CORBIERE 
(1841-1875) 

Corbiere seems to me the greatest poet of the period. 
"La Rapsode Foraine et le Pardon $e Sainte-Anne" is, 
to my mind, beyond all comment. He first published in 
'73, remained practically unknown until Verlaine's essay 
in '84, and was hardly known to "the public" until the 
Messein edition of his work in '91. 

LA RAPSODE FORAINE ET LE .PARDON DE 

SAINTE-ANNE 

La Palud, 27 aout, jour du Pardon. 

Benite est 1'infertile plage 

Ou, comme la mer, tout est nud. 



20 INSTIGATIONS 

Sainte est la chapelle sauvage 
De Sainte-Anne-de-la-Palud . . . 

De la Bonne Femme Sainte Anne, 
Grand'tante du petit Jesus, 
En bois pourri dans sa soutane 
Riche . . . plus riche que Cresus ! 

Centre elle la petite Vierge, 
Fuseau frele, attend VAngelus; 
Au coin, Joseph, tenant son cierge, 
Niche, en saint qu'on ne fete plus . . . 

C'est le Pardon. Liesse et mysteres 
Deja I'herbe rase a des poux . . . 
Sainte Anne, Onguent des belles-meres! 
Consolation des epou.v! . . . 

Des paroisses environnantes : 

De Plougastel et Loc-Tudy, 

Us viennent tous planter leurs tentes, 

Trois nuits, trois jours, jusqu'au lundi. 

Trois jours, trois nuits, la palud grogne, 
Selon 1'antique rituel, 
Choeur seraphique et chant d'ivrogne- 
LE CANTIQUE SPIRITUEL. 

Mere taillee a coups de hache, 
Tout coeur de chene dur et bon; 
Sous for de ta robe se cache 
L'dme en piece d'un franc Breton! 

Vieille verte a la face usee 
Comme la pierre du torrent, 



A STUDY IN FRENCH POETS 21 

Par des larmes d' amour creuste, 
Sechec avec des pleurs de sang . . . 

Toi, dont la mamelle tarie 
S'est re fait, pour avoir port& 
La Virginite de Marie, 
Une male virginite! 

Servante-maitresse altiere, 
Tres haute devant le Tres-Haut; 
Au pauvre monde, pas fiere, 
Dame pleine de comme-il-faut! 

Baton des aveugles! Bequille 
Des vieilles! Bras des nouveau-nes! 
Mere de madanie ta fille! 
Parente des abandonnes! 

O Flew de la puce lie neuve! 
Fruit de I'epouse au sein grossi! 
Reposoir de la fenime veuve . . . 
Et du veuf Dame-de-merci! 

Arche de Joachim! A'ieule! 
Medaille de cuivre efface! 
Gui sacre! Trefte quatre-feuille! 
Mont d'Horeb! Souche de Jesse! 

toi qui recouvrais la cendre, 
Qui filais conime on fait chez nous, 
Quand le soir venait a des cendre, 
Tenant /'ENFANT sur tes genoux; 



22 INSTIGATIONS 

Toi qui fus la, seule, pour faire 
Son maillot a Bethleem, 
Et Id, pour coudre son suaire 
Douloureux, d. Jerusalem! . . . 

Des croix profondes sont tes rides, 
Tes cheveux sont blancs comme His 
Preserve des regards arides 
Le berceau de nos petits-fils . . . 

Fais venir et conserve en joie 
Ceux a naitre et ceux qui sont nes, 
Et verse, sans que Dieu te voie, 
L'eau de tes yeux sur les damnes! 

Re pr ends dans leur chemise blanche 
Les petits qui sont /en langueur . . . 
Rappelle a I'eternel Dimanche 
Les vieux qui trainent en longueur. 

Dragon- gar dien de la Vierge, 
Garde la creche sous ton oeil. 
Que, pres de toi, Joseph-concierge 
Garde la propretfi du seuil! 

Prends pitie de la file-mere, 
Du petit au bord du chemin . . . 
Si quelqu'un leur jette la pierre, 
Que la pierre se change en pain! 

Dame bonne en mer et sur terre, 
Montre-nous le del et le port, 
Dans la tempete ou dans la guerre . . 
O Fanal de la bonne mort! 



A STUDY IN FRENCH POETS 23 

Humble: a tes pieds n'as point d'etoile, 
Humble . . . et brave pour proteger! 
Dans la nue apparait ton voile, 
Pale aureole du danger. 

Aux perdus dont la vie est grise, 
( Sauf respect perdus de boisson) 
Montr e le doc her de I'eglise 
Et le chemin de la maison. 

Prete ta douce et chaste Hamme 
Aux chr&tiens qui sont id . . . 
Ton remede de bonne femme 
Pour tes betes-a-corne aussi! 

Montr e a nos femmes et servant es 
L'ouvrage.et la fecondite . . . 
Le bonjour aux times parentes 
Qui sont bien dans I'eternite! 

Nous mettrons un cordon de cire, 
De cire-vierge jaune autour 
De ta chapelle et ferons dire 
Ta messe basse au point du jour. 

Preserve notre cheminfre 
Des sorts et du monde malin . . . 
A Paques te sera donnee 
Une quenouille avec du tin. 

Si nos corps sont puants sur terre, 
Ta grace est un bain de sante; 
Repands sur nous, au time tier e, 
Ta bonne odeur de saintete. 



24 INSTIGATIONS 

A I' an prochain! Void ton cierge: 
(Cost deux livres qn'il a co-ute} 
. . . Respects a Madame la Vierge, 
Sam oublier la Trinitfr. 

. . . Et les fideles, en chemise, 
Saint e Anne, ayes pitie de nous! 
Font trois fois le tour de Teglise 
En se trainant sur leurs genoux, 

Et boivent 1'eau miraculeuse 
Ou les Job teigneux ont lave 
Leur nudite contagieuse . . . 
Allez: la Foi vous a sauve! 

C'est la que tiennent leurs cenacles 
Les pauvres, freres de Jesus. 
Ce n'est pas la cour des miracles, 
Les trous sont vrais : Vide latus! 

Sont-ils pas divins sur leurs claies 
Qu'aureole un nimbe vermeil 
Ces proprietaires de plaies, 
Rubis vivants sous le soleil ! . . . 

En aboyant, un rachitique 
Secoue un moignon desosse, 
Coudoyant un epileptique 
Qui travaille dans un fosse. 

La, ce tronc d'homme ou croit Tulcere, 
Contre un tronc d'arbre ou croit le gui, 
Ici, c'est la fille et la mere 
Dansant la danse de Saint-Guy. 



A STUDY IN FRENCH POETS 25 

Get autre pare le cautere 

De son petit enfant malsain: 

L'enfant se doit a son vieux pere . . 

Et le chancre est un gagne-pain ! 

La, c'est 1'idiot de naissance, 

Un visit e par Gabriel, 

Dans 1'extase de 1'innocence . . . 

L'innocent est (tout) pres du ciel ! 

Tiens, passant, regarde : tout passe. 

L'oeil de 1'idiot est reste. 

Car il est en etat de grace . . . 

Et la Grace est 1'Eternite! 

Parmi les autres, apres vepre, 
Qui sont d'eau benite arroses, 
Un cadavre, vivant de lepre, 
Fleurit, souvenir des croises . . . 

Puis tous ceux que les Rois de France 
Guerissaient d'un toucher de doigts . . . 
Mais la France n'a plus de Rois, 
Et leur dieu suspend sa clemence. 

Une forme humaine qui beugle 
Centre le calvaire se tient ; 
C'est comme une moitie d'aveugle : 
Elle est borgne et n'a pas de chien . . . 

C'est une rapsode foraine 
Qui donne aux gens pour un Hard 
L' Istoyre de la Magdalayne, 
Du Juif Errant ou d'Abaylar. 



26 INSTIGATIONS 

Elle hale comme une plainte, 
Comme une plainte de la faim, 
Et, longue comme un jour sans pain, 
Lamentablement, sa complainte . . . 

Qa chante comme ga respire, 
Triste oiseau sans plume et sans nid 
Vaguant ou son instinct 1'attire: 
Autour des Bon-Dieu de granit . . . 

Qa peut parler aussi, sans doute, 
(Ja peut penser comme ga voit: 
Toujours devant soi la grand'route . . . 
Et, quand c/a deux sous, ga les boit. 

Femme : on dirait, helas ! sa nippe 
Lui pend, ficelee en jupon ; 
Sa dent noire serre une pipe 
Eteinte . . . Oh, la vie a du bon! 

Son nom . . . ga se nomme Misere. 
(Ja s'est trouve ne par hasard. 
(Ja sera trouve mort par terre . . . 
La meme chose quelque part. 

Si tu la rencontres, Poete, 

Avec son vieux sac de soldat : 

C'est notre soeur . . . donne c'est fete 

Pour sa pipe, un peu de tabac! . . . 

Tu verras dans sa face creuse 
Se creuser, comme dans du bois, 
Un sourire; et sa main galeuse 
Te faire un vrai signe de croix. 

(Les Amours Jaunes.) 



A STUDY IN FRENCH POETS 27 

It is not long since a "strong, silent" American, who 
had been spending a year or so in Paris, complained to 
me that "all French poetry smelt of talcum powder." He 
did not specifically mention Corbiere, who, with perhaps 
a few dozen other French poets, may have been outside 
the scope of his research. Corbiere came also to "Paris." 



Batard de Creole et Breton, 
II vint aussi la fourmiliere, 
Bazar ou rien n'est en pierre, 
Ou le soleil manque de ton. 

Courage ! On fait queue . . . Un planton 
Vous pousse a la chaine derriere ! 
Incendie eteint, sans lumiere; 
Des seaux passent, vides ou non. 

La, sa pauvre Muse pucelle 
Fit le trottoir en demoiselle. 
Us disaient: Qu'est-ce qu'elle vend? 

Rien. Elle restait la, stupide, 
N'entendant pas sonner le vide 
Et regardant passer le vent . . . 

ii 

La : vivre a coups de f ouet ! passer 
En fiacre, en correctionnelle ; 
Repasser a la ritournelle, 
Se depasser, et trepasser! 

Non, petit, il faut commencer 
Par etre grand simple ficelle 



28 INSTIGATIONS 

Pauvre : remuer Tor a la pelle ; 
Obscur : un nom a tout casser ! . . . 

Le coller chez les mastroquets, 
Et 1'apprendre a des perroquets 
Qui le chantent ou qui le sifflent 

Musique ! C'est le paradis 
Des mahomets ou des houris, 
Des dieux souteneurs qui se giflent ! 

People, at least some of them, think more highly of his 
Breton subjects than of the Parisian, but I can not see 
that he loses force on leaving the sea-board ; for example, 
his "Frere et Soeur Jumeaux" seems to me "by the same 
hand" and rather better than his "Roscoff." His lan- 
guage does not need any particular subject matter, or 
prefer one to another. "Mannequin ideal, tete-de-turc 
du leurre," "Fille de marbre, en rut !", "Je voudrais etre 
chien a une fille publique" are all, with a constant emis- 
sion of equally vigorous phrases, to be found in the city 
poems. At his weakest he is touched with the style of 
his time, i. e., he falls into a phrase a la Hugo, but sel- 
dom. And he is conscious of the will to break from 
this manner, and is the first, I think, to satirize it, or at 
least the first to hurl anything as apt and violent as 
"garde nationale epique" or "inventeur de la larme 
ecrite" at the Romantico-rhetorico and the sentimento- 
romantico of Hugo and Lamartine. His nearest kinships 
in our period are to Gautier and Laforgue, though it is 
Villon whom most by life and temperament he must be 
said to resemble. 

Laforgue was, for four or five years, "reader" to the 



A STUDY IX FRENCH POETS 20 

ex- Kaiser's mama; he escaped and died of la misere. 
Corbiere had, I believe, but one level of poverty: 

Un beau jour quel metier ! je faisais, comme c,a 
Ma croisiere. Metier! . . . Enfin. Elle passa. 
Elle qui, La Passante ! Elle, avec son ombrelle ! 
Vrai valet de bourreau, je la frolai . . . mais Elle 
Me regarda tout bas, souriant en dessous, 

Et me tendit sa main, et 

th'a donne deux sous. 



ARTHUR RIMBAUD 
(1854-1891) 

RIMBAUD'S first book appeared in '73. His complete 
poems with a preface by Verlaine in '95. Laforgue con- 
veys his content by comment, Corbiere by ejaculation, as 
if the words were wrenched and knocked out of him by 
fatality ; by the violence of his feeling, Rimbaud presents 
a thick suave color, firm, even. 

Cinq heures du soir 

AU CABARET VERT 

Depuis huit jours, j'avais dechire mes bottines 
Aux cailloux aes chemins. J'entrais a Charleroi, 
Au Cabaret Vert: je demandai des tartines 
De beurre et du jambon qui fut a moitie froid. 

Bienheureux, j'allongeai les jambes sous la table 

Verte : je contemplai les sujets tres naif s 

De la tapisserie. Et ce fut adorable, 

Quand la fille aux tetons enormes, aux yeux vifs, 



30 INSTIGATIONS 

Celle-la, ce n'est pas un baiser qui Tepeure ! 
Rieuse, m'apporta des tartines de beurre, 
Du jambon tiede, dans un plat colorie, 

Du jambon rose et blanc parfume d'une gousse 
D'ail, et m'emplit la chope immense, avec sa mousse 
Que dorait un rayon de soleil arriere. 

The actual writing of poetry has advanced little or not 
at all since Rimbaud. Cezanne was the first to paint, as 
Rimbaud had written, in, for example, "Les Assis" : 

I Is ont greffe dans des amours epileptiques 
Leur fantasque ossature aux grands squelettes noirs 
De leurs chaises ; leurs pieds aux barreaux rachitiques 
S'entrelacent pour les matins et pour les soirs 

Ces vieillards ont toujours fait tresse avec leurs sieges, 
or in the octave of 

VENUS ANADYOMENE 

Comme d'un cercueil vert en fer-blanc, une tete 
De femme a cheveux bruns f ortement pommades 
D'une vieille baignoire emerge, lente et bete, 
Montrant des deficits assez mal ravaudes; 

Puis le col gras et gris, les larges omoplates 
Qui saillent ; le dos court qui rentre et qui ressort, 
La graisse sous la peau parait en feuilles plates 
Et les rondeurs des reins semble prendre 1'essor. 

Tailhade has painted his "Vieilles Actrices" at greater 



A STUDY IN FRENCH POETS 31 

length, but smiling; Rimbaud does not endanger his in- 
tensity by a chuckle. He is serious as Cezanne is serious. 
Comparisons across an art are always vague and inexact, 
and there are no real parallels ; still it is possible to think 
of Corbiere a little as one thinks of Goya, without Goya's 
Spanish, with infinite differences, but with a macabre in- 
tensity, and a modernity that we have not yet surpassed. 
There are possible grounds for comparisons of like sort 
between Rimbaud and Cezanne. 

Tailhade and Rimbaud were both born in '54; there 
is not a question of priority in date, I do not know who 
hit first on the form, but Rimbaud's "Chercheuses" is 
a very good example of a mould not unlike that into 
which Tailhade has cast his best poems. 

LES CHERCHEUSES DE POUX 

Quand le front de 1'enfant plein de rouges tourmentes, 
Implore 1'essaim blanc des reves indistincts, 
II vient pres de son lit deux grandes soeurs charmantes 
Avec de freles doigts aux ongles argentins. 

Elles asseoient 1'enfant aupres d'une croisee 
Grande ouverte ou 1'air bleu baigne un fouillis de fleurs, 
Et, dans ses lourds cheveux ou tombe la rosee, 
Promenent leurs doigts fins, terribles et charmeurs. 

II ecoute chanter leurs haleines craintives 
Qui fleurent de longs miels vegetaux et roses 
Et qu'interrompt parfois un siffiement, salives 
Reprises sur la levre ou des rs de baisers. 

II entend leurs cils noirs battant sous les silences 
Parfumes; et leurs doigts electriques et doux 



32 INSTIGATIONS 

Font crepiter, parmi ses grises indolences, 

Sous leurs ongles royaux la mort des petits poux. 

Voila que monte en lui le vin de la Paresse, 
Soupir d'harmonica qui pourrait delirer; 
L'enfant se sent, selon la lenteur des caresses, 
Sourdre et mourir sans cesse un desir de pleurer. 

The poem is "not really" like Tailhade's, but the com- 
parison is worth while. Many readers will be unable to 
"see over" the subject matter and consider the virtues 
of the style, but we are, let us hope, serious people; 
besides, Rimbaud's mastery is not confined to "the un- 
pleasant" ; "Roman" begins : 



On n'est pas serieux, quand on a dix-sept ans. 
Un beau soir, foin des bocks et de la limonade, 
Des cafes tapageurs aux lustres eclatants ! 
On va sous les tilleuls verts de la promenade. 

Les tilleuls sentent bon dans les bons soirs de juin! 
L* air est parfois si doux, qu'on f erme la paupiere ; 
Le vent charge de bruits, la ville n'est pas loin 
A des parfums de vigne et des parfums de biere . . . 

The sixth line is worthy c, , To-em-mei. But Rimbaud 
has not exhausted his idyllic moods or capacities in one 
poem. Witness : 



A STUDY IN FRENCH POETS 33 

COMEDIE EN TROIS BAISERS 

Elle etait fort deshabillee, 
Et de grands arbres indiscrets 
Aux vitres penchaient leur feuillee 
Malinement, tout pres, tout pres. 

Assise sur ma grande chaise. 
Mi-nue elle joignait les mains. 
Sur le plancher frissonnaient d'aise 
Ses petits pieds si fins, si fins. 

Je regardai, couleur de cire 
Un petit rayon buissonnier 
Papillonner, comme un sourire 
Sur son beau sein, mouche au rosier. 

Je baisai ses fines chevilles. 
Elle cut un long rire tres mal 
Qui s'egrenait en claires trilles, 
Une risure de cristal. . . . 

Les petits pieds sous la chemise 
Se sauverent: "Veux-tu finir!" 
La premiere audace permise, 
Le rire feignait de punir! 

Pauvrets palpitant sous ma levre, 

Je baisai doucement ses yeux: 

Elle jeta sa tete mievre 

En arriere : "Oh ! c'est encor mieux ! . . ." 

"Monsieur, j'ai deux mots a te dire. . . ." 
Je lui jetai le reste au sein 



34 INSTIGATIONS 

Dans un baiser, qui la fit rire 
D'un bon rire qui voulait bien . . . 

Elle etait fort deshabillee 
Et de grands arbres indiscrets, 
Aux vitres penchaient leur feuillee 
Malinemeht, tout pres, tout pres. 

The subject matter is older than Ovid, and how many 
poems has it led to every silliness, every vulgarity ! One 
has no instant of doubt here, nor, I think, in any line 
of any poem of Rimbaud's. How much I might have 
learned from the printed page that I have learned slowly 
from actualities. Or perhaps we never do learn from the 
page ; but are only capable of recognizing the page after 
we have learned from actuality. 

I do not know whether or no Rimbaud "started" the 
furniture poetry with "Le Buffet"; it probably comes, 
most of it, from the beginning of Gautier's "Albertus." 
I cannot see that the "Bateau Ivre" rises above the gen- 
eral level of his work, though many people seem to know 
of this poem (and of the sonnet on the vowels) who 
do not know the rest of his work. Both of these poems 
are in Van Bever and Leautaud. I wonder in what 
other poet will we find such firmness of coloring and such 
certitude. 

TABLE 

Laforgue 1860-1887; published 1885 
Corbiere 1840-1875; published 1873 an< 3 1891 
Rimbaud 1854-1891 ; published 1873 
Remy de Gourmont 1858-1915 
Merril 1868-1915 



A STUDY IN FRENCH POETS 35 

Tailhade 1854-1919 

Verhaeren 1855-1916 - 

Moreas 1856-1911 
Living : 

Viele-Griffin 1864 

Jammes 1868 

De Regnier 1864 

Spire 1868 
Younger Men : 

Rlingsor, Remains, Vildrac 
Other Dates: 

Verlaine 1844-1896 

Mallarme 1842-1898 

Samain 1858-1900 

Elskamp, born 1862 

REMY DE GOURMONT 
(1858-1915) 

As in prose, Remy de Gourmont found his own form, 
so also in poetry, influenced presumably by the medieval 
sequaires and particularly by Goddeschalk's quoted in 
his (De Gourmont's) work on "Le Latin Mystique," 
he recreated the "litanies." It was one of the great 
gifts of "symbolisme," of the doctrine that one should 
"suggest" not "present" ; it is, in his hand, an effective 
indirectness. The procession of all beautiful women 
moves before one in the "Litanies de la Rose" ; and the 
rhythm is incomparable. It is not a poem to lie on the 
page, it must come to life in audition, or in the finer 
audition which one may have in imagining sound. One 
must "hear" it, in one way or another, and out of that 



36 INSTIGATIONS 

intoxication comes beauty. One does no injustice to 
De Gourmont by giving this poem alone. The "Litany 
of the Trees" is of equal or almost equal beauty. The 
Sonnets in prose are different; they rise out of natural 
speech, out of conversation. Paul Fort perhaps began 
or rebegan the use of conversational speech in rhyming 
prose paragraphs, at times charmingly. 

LITANIES DE LA ROSE 

A Henry de Groux. 

Fleur hypocrite, 

Fleur du silence. 

Rose couleur de cuivre, plus frauduleuse que nos joies, 
rose couleur de cuivre, embaume-nous dans tes men- 
songes, fleur hypocrite, fleur du silence. 

Rose au visage peint comme une fille d'amour, rose au 
coeur prostitue, rose au visage peint, fais semblant d'etre 
pitoyable, fleur hypocrite, fleur du silence. 

Rose a la joue puerile, 6 vierges des futures trahisons, 
rose a la joue puerile, innocente et rouge, ouvre les rets 
de tes yeux clairs, fleur hypocrite, fleur du silence. 

Rose aux yeux noirs, miroir de ton neant, rose aux 
yeux noirs, fais-nous croire au mystere, fleur hypocrite, 
fleur du silence. 

Rose couleur d'or pur, 6 coffre-fort de 1'ideal, rose 
couleur d'or pur, donne-nous la clef de ton ventre, fleur 
hypocrite, fleur du silence. 

Rose couleur d'argent, 'encensoir de nos reves, rose 
couleur d'argent prends notre coeur et fais-en de la 
fumee, fleur hypocrite, fleur du silence. 

Rose au regard saphique, plus pale que les lys, rose au 
regard saphique, offre-nous le parfum de ton illusoire 
virginite, fleur hypocrite, fleur du silence. 



A STUDY IN FRENCH POETS 37 

Rose au front pourpre, colere des femmes dedaignees, 
rose au front pourpre dis-nous le secret de ton orgueil, 
fleur hypocrite, fieur du silence. 

Rose au front d'ivoire jaune, amante de toi-meme, rose 
au front d'ivoire jaune, dis-nous le secret de tes nuits 
virginales, fleur hypocrite, fleur du silence. 

Rose aux levres de sang, 6 mangeuse de chair, rose aux 
lev res de sang, si tu veux notre sang, qu'en ferions- 
nous? bois-le, fleur hypocrite, fleur du silence. 

Rose couleur de soufre, enfer des desirs vains, rose 
couleur de soufre, allume le bucher ou tu planes, ame et 
flamme, fleur hypocrite, fleur du silence. 

Rose couleur de peche, fruit veloute de fard, rose 
sournoise, rose couleur de peche, .empoisonne nos dents, 
fleur hypocrite, fleur du silence. 

Rose couleur de chair, deesse de la bonne volonte, rose 
couleur de chair, fais-nous baiser la tristesse de ta peau 
fraiche et fade, fleur hypocrite, fleur du silence. 

Rose vineuse, fleur des tonnelles et des caves, rose 
vinense, les alcools fous gambadent dans ton haleine: 
souffle-nous 1'horreur de 1'amour, fleur hypocrite, fleur 
du silence. 

Rose violette, 6 modestie des fillettes perverses, rose 
violette, tes yeux sont plus grands que le reste, fleur 
hypocrite, fleur du silence. 

Rose rose, pucelle au cceur desordonne, rose rose, robe 
de mousseline, entr'ouvre tes ailes fausses, ange, fleur 
hypocrite, fleur du silence. 

Rose en papier de soie, simulacre adorable des graces 
increees, rose en papier de soie, n'es-tu pas la vraie rose, 
fleur du silence. 

Rose couleur d'aurore, couleur du temps, couleur de 
rien, 6 sourire du Sphinx, rose couleur d'aurore, sourire 



38 INSTIGATIONS 

ouvert sur le neant, nous t'aimerons, car tu mens, fleur 
hypocrite, fleur du silence. 

Rose blonde, leger manteau de chrome sur des epaules 
freles, 6 rose blonde, femelle plus forte que les males, 
fleur hypocrite, fleur du silence ! 

Rose en forme de coupe, vase rouge ou mordent les 
dents quand la bouche y vient boire, rose en forme de 
coupe, nos morsures te font sourire et nos baisers te 
font pleurer, fleur hypocrite, fleur du silence. 

Rose toute blanche, innocente et couleur de lait, rose 
toute blanche, tant de candeur nous epouvante, fleur 
hypocrite, fleur du silence. 

Rose couleur de bronze, pate cuite au soleil, rose 
couleur de bronze, les plus durs javelots s'emoussent sur 
ta peau, fleur hypocrite fleur du silence. 

Rose couleur de feu, creuset special pour les chairs 
refractaires, rose couleur de feu, 6 providence des 
ligueurs en enfance, fleur hypocrite, fleur du silence. 

Rose incarnate, rose stupide et pleme de sante, rose 
incarnate, tu nous abreuves et tu nous leurres d'un vin 
tres rouge et tres benin, fleur hypocrite, fleur du silence. 

Rose en satin cerise, munificence exquise des levres 
triomphales, rose en satin cerise, ta bouche enluminee a 
pose sur nos chairs le sceau de pourpre de son mirage, 
fleur hypocrite, fleur du silence. 

Rose au coeur virginal, 6 louche et rose adolescence qui 
n'a pas encore parle, rose au coeur virginal, tu n'as rien 
a nous dire, fleur hypocrite, fleur du silence. 

Rose groseille, honte et rougeur des peches ridicules, 
rose groseille, on a trop chiffonne ta robe, fleur hypocrite, 
fleur du silence. 

Rose couleur du soir, demi-morte d'ennui, funiee 
crepusculaire, rose couleur du soir, tu meurs d'amour 



A STI T DY F\ FRENCH POETS 39 

en baisant tes mains lasses, fleur hypocrite, fleur du 
silence. 

Rose bleue, rose iridine, monstre couleur des yeux de 
la Chimere, rose bleue, leve un peu tes paupieres : as-tu 
peur qu-on te regarde, les yeux dans les yeux, Chimere, 
fleur hypocrite, fleur du silence ! 

Rose verte, rose couleur de mer, 6 nombril des sirenes, 
rose verte, gemme ondoyante et fabuleuse, tu n'es plus 
que de 1'eau des qu'un doigt t'a touchee, fleur hypocrite, 
tleur du silence. 

Rose escarboucle, rose fleurie au front noir du dragon, 
rose escarboucle, tu n'es plus qu'une boucle de ceinture, 
fleur hypocrite, fleur du silence. 

Rose couleur de vermilion, bergere enamouree couchee 
dans les sillons, rose couleur de vermilion, le berger te 
respire et le bouc t'a broutee, fleur hypocrite, fleur du 
silence. 

Rose des tombes, fraicheur emanee des charognes, 
rose des tombes, toute mignonne et rose, adorable parfum 
des fines pourritures, tu fais semblant de vivre, fleur 
hypocrite, fleur du silence. 

Rose brune, couleur des mornes acajous, rose brune, 
plaisirs permis, sagesse, prudence et prevoyance, tu nous 
regardes avec des yeux rogues, fleur hypocrite, fleur 
du silence. 

Rose ponceau, ruban des fillettes modeles, rose pon- 
ceau, gloire des petites poupees, es-tu niaise ou sournoise, 
joujou des petits freres, fleur hypocrite, fleur du silence. 

Rose rouge et noire, rose insolente et secrete, rose 
rouge et noire, ton insolence et ton rouge ont pali parmi 
les compromis qu'invente la vertu, fleur hypocrite, fleur 
du silence. 

Rose ardoise, grisaille des vertus vaporeuses, rose 
ardoise, tu grimpes et tu fleuris autour des vieux banes 



40 INSTIGATIONS 

solitaires, rose du soir, fleur hypocrite, fleur du silence. 

Rose pivoine, modeste vanite des jar dins plantureux, 
rose pivoine, le vent n'a retrousse tes feuilles que par 
hasard, et tu n'en fus pas mecontente, fleur hypocrite, 
fleur du silence. 

Rose neigeuse, couleur de la neige et des plumes du 
cygne, rose neigeuse, tu sais que la neige est fragile et 
tu n'ouvres tes plumes de cygne qu'aux plus insignes, 
fleur hypocrite, fleur du silence. 

Rose hyaline, couleur des sources claires jaillies 
d'entre les herbes, rose hyaline, Hylas est mort d'avoir 
aime tes yeux, fleur hypocrite, fleur du silence. 

Rose opale, 6 sultane endormie dans 1'odeur du harem, 
rose opale, langueur des constantes caresses, ton coeur 
connait la paix profonde des vices satisfaits, fleur hypo- 
crite, fleur du silence. 

Rose amethyste, etoile matinale, tendresse episcopate, 
rose amethyste, tu dors sur des poitrines devotes et 
douillettes, gemme oiferte a Marie, 6 gemme sacristine, 
fleur hypocrite, fleur du silence. 

Rose cardinale, rose couleur du sang de TEglise 
romaine, rose cardinale, tu fais rever les grands yeux 
des mignons et plus d'un t'epingla au nceud de sa 
jarretiere, fleur hypocrite, fleur du silence. 

Rose papale, rose arrosee des mains qui benissent le 
monde, rose papale, ton cceur d'or est en cuivre, et les 
larmes qui perlent sur ta vaine corolle, ce sont les pleurs 
du Christ, fleur hypocrite, fleur du silence, 

Fleur hypocrite, 

Fleur du silence. 

DE REGNIER 

(born 1864) 
DE REGNIER is counted a successor to the Parnassiens, 



A STUDY IN FRENCH POETS 41 

and has indeed written much of gods and of marble 
fountains, as much perhaps of the marble decor, as have 
other contemporaries of late renaissance and of more 
modern house furniture. His "J' a i ^ emt <l ue ^ es dieux 
m'aient parle" opens charmingly. He has in the 
"Odelettes" made two darts into vers libre which are 
perhaps worth many more orderly pages, and show lyric 
sweetness. 

ODELETTE 

Si j'ai parle 

De mon amour, c'est a 1'eau lente 

Qui m'ecoute quand je me penche 

Sur elle; si j'ai parle 

De mon amour, c'est au vent 

Qui rit et cuchote entre les branches ; 

Si j'ai parle de mon amour, c'est a 1'oiseau 

Qui passe et chante 

Avec le vent; 

Si j'ai parle 

C'est a 1'echo. 

Si j'ai aime de grand amour, 

Triste ou joyeux, 

Ce sont tes yeux; 

Si j'ai aime de grand amour, 

Ce fut ta bouche grave et douce, 

Ce fut ta bouche ; 

Si j'ai aime de grand amour, 

Ce f urent ta chair tiede et tes mains fraiches, 

Et c'est ton ombre que je cherche. 

He has joined himself to the painters of contemporary 
things in : 



42 INSTIGATIONS 

L'ACCUEIL 

Tous deux etaient beaux de corps et de visages, 

L'air francs et sages 

Avec un clair sourire dans les yeux, 

Et, devant eux, 

Debout en leur jeunesse svelte et prompte, 

Je me sentais courbe et j'avais presque honte 

D'etre si vieux. 

Les ans 

Sont lourds aux epaules et pesent 

Aux plus fortes 

De tout le poids des hen res mortes, 

Les ans 

Sont durs, et breve 

La vie et Ton a vite des cheveux blancs ; 

Et j'ai deja vecu beaucoup de jours. 

Les ans sont lourds. . . . 

Et tous deux me regardaient, surpris de voir 

Celui qu'ils croyaient autre en leur pensee 

Se lever pour les recevoir 

Vetu de bure et le front nu 

Et non pas, comme en leur pensee, 

Drape de pourpre et laure d'or 

Et je leur dis: "Soyez tous deux les bienvenus." 

Ce fut alors 

Que je leur dis: 

"Mes fils, quoi, vous avez monte la cote 

Sous ce soleil cuisant d'aout 

Jusqu'a ma maison haute, 



A STUDY IN FRENCH POETS 43 

O vous 

Qu'attend la-bas peut-etre, au terme du chemin 

Le salut amoureux de quelque blanche main! 

Si vous avez pour moi allonge votre route 

Peut-etre, au moins mes chants vous auront-ils aides, 

De leurs rythmes presents en vos memoires, 

A marcher d'un jeune pas scande 

Je n'ai jamais desire d'autre gloire 

Sinon que les vers du poete 

Plussent a la voix qui les repete. 

Si les miens vous ont plu: merci, 

Car c'est pour cela que, chantant 

Mon reve, apres 1'avoir congu en mon esprit, 

Depuis vingt ans, 

J'habite ici." 

Et, d'un geste, je leur montrai la chambre vide 

Avec son mur de pierre et sa lampe d'argile 

Et le lit ou je dors et le sol ou, du pied, 

Je frappe pour apprendre au vers estropie 

A marcher droit, et le calame de roseau 

Dont la pointe subtile aide a fixer le mot 

Sur la tablette lisse et couverte de cire 

Dont la divine odeur la retient et 1'attire 

Et le fait, dans la strophe en fleurs qu'il ensoleille, 

Mysterieusement vibrer comme une abeille. 

Et je repris: 

"Mes fils, 

Les ans 

Sont lourds aux epaules et pesent 

Aux plus fortes 

De tout le poids des heures mortes. 

Les ans 



44 INSTIGATIONS 

Sont durs, la vie est breve 

Et Ton a vite des cheveux blancs, 

Si quelque jour, 

En revenant d'ou vous allez, 

Vous rencontriez stir cette meme route, 

Entre les orges et les bles, 

Des gens en troupe 

Montant ici avec des palmes a la main, 

Dites-vous bien 

Que si vous les suiviez vous ne me verriez pas 

Comme aujourd'hui debout en ma robe de laine 

Qui se troue a 1'epaule et se dechire au bras, 

Mais drape de pourpre hautaine 

Peut-etre et mort 

Et laure d'or!" 

Je leur ai dit cela, pour qu'ils le sachent, 

Car ils sont beaux tons deux de corps et de visages, 

L'air francs et sages 

Avec un clair sourire aux yeux, 

Parce qu'en eux 

Peut-etre vit quelque desir de gloire, 

Je leur ai parle ainsi pour qu'ils sachent 

Ce qu'est la gloire, 

Ce qu'elle donne, 

Ce qu'il faut croire 

De son vain jeu, 

Et que son dur laurier ne pose sa couronne 

Que sur le front inerte et qui n'est plus qu'un peu 

Deja d'argile humaine ou vient de vivre un Dieu. 

Here we have the modern tone in De Regnier. My 
own feeling at the moment is that his hellenics, his verse 
on classical and ancient subjects, is likely to be over- 



' 

shadowed 



A STUDY IN FRENCH POETS 45 

ladowed by that of Samain and Heredia. I have 
doubts whether his books will hold against the Cleopatra 
sonnets, or if he has equaled, in this vein, the poem 
beginning "Mon ame est une infante en robe de parade." 
But in the lyric odelette, and in this last given poem 
in particular, we find him leading perhaps onward toward 
Vildrac, and toward a style which might be the basis for 
a certain manner F. M. Hueffer has used in English vers 
libre, rather than remembering the Parnassiens. 



EMILE VERHAEREN 

VERHAEREN has been so well introduced to America 
by his obituary notices that I can scarcely hope to com- 
pete with them in this limited space. One can hardly 
represent him better than by the well known: 

LES PAUVRES 

II est ainsi de pauvres coeurs 
. avec en eux, des lacs de pleurs, 
qui sont pales, comme les pierres 
d'un cimetiere. 

II est ainsi de pauvres dos 
plus lourds de peine et de fardeaux 
que les toits des cassines brunes, 
parmi les dunes. 

II est ainsi de pauvres mains, 
comme feuilles sur les chemins, 
comme feuilles jaunes et mortes, 
devant la porte. 



46 INSTIGATIONS 

II est ainsi de pauvres yetix 
humbles et bons et soucieux 
et plus tristes que ceux des betes, 
sous la tempete. 

II est ainsi de pauvres gens, 
aux gestes las et indulgents 
sur qui s'acharne la misere, 
au long des plaines de la terre. 

VIELE-GRIFFIN 

Two men, half-Americans, Viele-Griffin and Stuart 
Merril, won for themselves places among the recent 
French poets. Viele-Griffin's poem for the death of 
Mallarme is among his better known works : 



IN MEMORIAM STEPHANE MALLARMS 

Si Ton te disait : Maitre ! 
Le jour se leve; 

Voici une aube encore, la meme, pale ; 
Maitre, j'ai ouvert la fenetre, 
L'aurore s'en vient encor du seuil oriental, 
Un jour va naitre ! 
Je croirais t'entendre dire : Je reve. 

Si Ton te disait: Maitre, nous sommes la, 

Vivants et forts, 

Comme ce soir d'hier, devant ta porte; 

Nous sommes venus en riant, nous sommes la, 

Guettant le sourire et 1'etreinte forte, 

On nous repondrait : Le Maitre est mort. 




A STUDY IN FRENCH POETS 47 

Des fleurs de ma terrasse, 

Des fleurs comme au feuillet d'un livre, 

Des fleurs, pourquoi? 

Voici un peu de nous, la chanson basse 

Qui tourne et tombe, 

Comme ces feuilles-ci tombent et tournoient 

Voici la honte et la colere de vivre 

Et de parler des mots centre ta tombe. 

His curious and, perhaps not in the bad sense, old- 
fashioned melodic quality shows again in the poem be- 
ginning : 

Lache comme le froid et la pluie, 
Brutal et sourd comme le vent, 
Louche et faux comme le ciel bas, 
L'Automne rode par ici, 
Son baton heurte aux contrevents; 
Ouvre la porte, car il est la. 
Ouvre la porte et fais-lui honte, 
Son manteau s'effiloche et traine, 
Ses pieds sont alourdis de boue; 
Jette-lui des pierres, quoi qu'il te contc, 
Ne crains pas ses paroles de haine: 
C'est toujours un role qu'il joue. 






It is embroidery a la Charles D'Orleans; one must 
take it or leave it. 

STUART MERRIL 

I know that I have seen somewhere a beautiful and 
effective ballad of Merril's. His "Chambre D'Amour" 



48 INSTIGATIONS 

would be more interesting if Samain had not written 
"LTnfante," but Merril's painting is perhaps interesting 
as comparison. It begins: 

Dans la chambre qui fleure un peu la bergamote, 
Ce soir, lasse, la voix de 1'ancien clavecin 
Chevrote des refrains enfantins de gavotte. 

There is a great mass of this poetry full of highly 
cultured house furnishing; I think Catulle Mendes also 
wrote it. Merril's "Nocturne" illustrates a mode of 
symbolistic writing which has been since played out and 
parodied : 

La bleme lune allume en la mare qui luit, 
Miroir des gloires d'or, un emoi d'incendie. 
Tout dort. Seul, a mi-mort, un rossignol de nuit 
Module en mal d'amour sa molle melodic. 
Plus ne vibrent les vents en le mystere vert 
Des ramures. La lune a tu leurs voix nocturnes : 
Mais a travers le deuil du feuillage entr'ouvert 
Pleuvent les bleus baisers des astres taciturnes. 

There is no need to take this sort of tongue-twisting 
too seriously, though it undoubtedly was so taken in 
Paris during the late eighties and early nineties. He is 
better illustrated in "La Wallonie," vide infra. 

LAURENT TAILHADE 

1854-1919 

TAILHADE'S satires seem rough if one come upon them 
straight from reading Laforgue; and Laforgue will seem, 
and is presumably, the greatly finer artist; but one 



A STUDY IN FRENCH POETS 49 

should not fail to note certain definite differences. 
Laforgue is criticizing, and conveying a mood. He is 
more or less literary, playing with words. Tailhade is 
painting contemporary Paris, with verve. His eye is 
on the thing itself. He has, au fond, not very much 
in common with Laforgue. He was born six years be- 
fore Laforgue and in the same year as Rimbaud. Their 
temperaments are by no means identical. I do not 
know whether Tailhade wrote "Hydrotherapie" before 
Rimbaud had done "Les Chercheuses." Rimbaud in 
that poem identifies himself more or less with the child 
and its feeling. Tailhade is detached. I do not say 
this as praise of either one or the other. I am only 
trying to keep things distinct. 

HYDROTHERAPIE 

Le vieux monsieur, pour prendre une douche ascendante, 
A couronne son chef d'un casque d'hidalgo 
Qui, malgre sa bedaine ample et son lumbago, 
Lui donne un certain air de famille avec Dante. 

Ainsi ses membres gourds et sa vertebre a point 
Traversent 1'appareil des tuyaux et des lances, 
Tandis que des masseurs, tout gonfles d'insolences, 
Frottent au gant de crin son dos ou Tacne point. 

)h! 1'eau froide! la bonne et rare panacee 
Qui, seule, raffermit la charpente lassee 
Et le protoplasma des senateurs pesants ! 

Voici que, dans la rue, au sortir de sa douche, 

Le vieux monsieur qu'on sait un magistrat farouche 

Tient des propos grivois aux filles de douze ans. 



50 INSTIGATIONS 

QUARTIER LATIN 

Dans le bar ou jamais le parfum des brevas 
Ne dissipa 1'odeur de vomi qui la navre 
Triomphent les appas de la mere Cadavre 
Dont le nom est fameux j usque chez les Ho was. 

Brune, elle fut jadis vantee entre les brunes, 
Tant que son souvenir au Vaux-Hall est reste. 
Et c'est tou jours avec beaucoup de dignite 
Qu'elle rince le zinc et detaille les prunes. 

A ces causes, son cabaret s'emplit le soir, 
De futurs avoues, trop heureux de surseoir 
Quelque temps a 1'etude inepte des Digestes, 

Des Valaques, des riverains du fleuve Amoor 
S'acoquinent avec des potards indigestes 
Qui s'y viennent former aux choses de 1'amour. 

RUS 

Ce qui fait que 1'ancien bandagiste renie 
Le comptoir dont le faste allechait les passants, 
C'est son jardin d'Auteuil ou, veufs de tout encens, 
Les zinnias ont Tair d'etre en tole vernie. 

C'est la qu'il vient, le soir, gouter Fair aromal 
Et, dans sa rocking-chair, en veston de flanelle, 
Aspirer les senteurs qu'epanchent sur Crenelle 
Les fabriques de suif et de noir animal. 






A STUDY IN FRENCH POETS 51 

Bien que libre-penseur et franc-magon, il juge 
Le dieu propice qui lui donna ce refuge 
Ou se meurt un cyprin emmy la piece d'eau, 
Ou, dans la tour mauresque aux lanternes chinoises, 
Tout en lui preparant du sirop de f ramboises 
Sa "demoiselle" chante un couplet de Nadaud. 



From this beneficent treatment of the amiable burgess ; 
from this perfectly poetic inclusion of modernity, this 
unrhetorical inclusion of the factories in the vicinity of 
Crenelle (inclusion quite different from the allegorical 
presentation of workmen's trousers in sculpture, and the 
grandiloquent theorizing about the socialistic up-lift or 
down-pull of smoke and machinery), Tailhade can move 
to personal satire, a personal satire impersonalized by 
its glaze and its finish. 

RONDEL 

Dans les cafes d'adolescents 
Moreas cause avec Fremine: 
L'un, d'un parfait cuistre a la mine, 
L'autre beugle des contre-sens. 

Rien ne sort moins de chez Classens 
Que le linge de ces bramines. 
Dans les cafes d'adolescents, 
Moreas cause avec Fremine. 

Desagregeant son albumine, 

La Tailhede offre quelque encens: 

Maurras leur invente Commine 



52 INSTIGATIONS 

Et ga fait roter les passants, 
Dans les cafes d'adolescents. 

But perhaps the most characteristic phase of Tailhade 
is in his pictures of the bourgeoisie. Here is one de- 
picted with all Tailhadian serenity. Note also the opu- 
lence of his vocables. 



DINER CHAMPETRE 

Entre les sieges ou des gargons volontaires 
Entassent leurs chalants parmi les boulingrins, 
La famille Feyssard, avec des airs sereins, 
Discute longuement les tables solitaires. 

La demoiselle a mis un chapeau rouge vif 
Dont s'honore le bon faiseur de sa commune, 
Et madame Feyssard, un peu hommasse et brune, 
Porte une robe loutre avec des reflets d'if. 

Enfin ils sont assis ! Or le pere commande 
Des ecrevisses, du potage au lait d'amande, 
Toutes choses dont il revait depuis longtemps. 

Et, dans le ciel couleur de turquoises fanees, 
II voit les songes bleus qu'en ses esprits flottant 
A fait naitre Tampleur des truites saumonees. 

All through this introduction I am giving the sort of 
French poem least likely to have been worn smooth for 
us; I mean the kind of poem least represented in Eng- 
lish. Landor and Swinburne have, I think, forestalled 
Tailhade's hellenic poems in our affections. There are 
also his ballades to be considered. 



A STUDY IN FRENCH POETS 53 

FRANCIS JAMMES 
(born 1868) 

THE bulk of Jammes' unsparable poetry is perhaps 
larger than that of any man still living in France. The 
three first books of poems, and "Le Triomphe de la Vie" 
containing "Existences," the more than "Spoon River" 
of France, must contain about six hundred pages worth 
reading. "Existences" can not be rendered in snippets. 
It is not a series of poems, but the canvass of a whole 
small town or half city, unique, inimitable and "to the 
life," full of verve. Only those who have read it and 
"L'Angelus de 1'Aube," can appreciate the full tragedy 
of Jammes' debacle. Paul Fort had what his friends 
boasted as "tone," and he has diluted himself with 
topicalities ; in Jammes' case it is more charitable to sup- 
pose some organic malady, some definite softening of the 
brain, for he seems perfectly simple and naive in his 
debacle. It may be, in both cases, that the organisms 
have broken beneath the strain of modern existence. 
But the artist has no business to break. 

Let us begin with Jammes' earlier work: 

J'aime 1'ane si doux 
marchant le long des houx. 
II prend garde aux abeilles 
et bouge ses oreilles; 
et il porte les pauvres 
et des sacs remplis d'orge. 
II va, pres des fosses 
d'un petit pas casse. 
Mon amie le croit bete 



54 INSTIGATIONS 

parce qu'il est poete. 
II reflechit tou jours, 
Ses yeux sont en velours. 
Jeune fille au doux coeur 
tu n'as pas sa douceur. 



The fault is the fault, or danger, which Dante has 
labeled "muliebria" ; of its excess Jammes has since 
perished. But the poem to the donkey can, in certain 
moods, please one. In other moods the playful sim- 
plicity, at least in excess, is almost infuriating. He runs 
so close to sentimentalizing when he does not fall into 
that puddle that there are numerous excuses for those 
who refuse him altogether. "J'allai a Lourdes" has 
pathos. Compare it with Corbiere's "St. Anne" and the 
decadence is apparent; it is indeed a sort of half-way 
house between the barbaric Breton religion and the ulti- 
mate deliquescence of French Catholicism in Claudel, 
who (as I think it is James Stephens has said) "is 
merely lying on his back kicking his heels in it." 

J J ALLAI A LOURDES 

J'allai a Lourdes par le chemin de fer, 
le long du gave qui est bleu comme 1'air. 

Au soleil les montagnes semblaient d'etain. 

Et Ton chantait : sauvez ! sauvez ! dans le train, 

II y avait un monde fou, exalte, 
plein de poussiere et du soleil d'ete. 



A STUDY IN FRENCH POETS 55 

Des malheureux avec le ventre en avant 
etendaient leurs bras, priaient en les tordant. 

Et dans une chaire cm etait du drap bleu, 
un pretre disait : "un chapelet a Dieu !" 

Et un groupe de femmes, parfois, passait, 

qui chantait : sauvez ! sauvez ! sauvez ! sauvez ! 

Et la procession chantait. Les drapeaux 
se penchaient avec leurs devises en or. 

Le soleil etait blanc sur les escaliers 

dans 1'air bleu, sur les cloches dechiquetees. 

Mais sur un brancard, portee par ses parents, 
son pauvre pere tete nue et priant, 

et ses freres qui disaient: "ainsi soit-il," 
une jeune fille sur le point de mourir. 

Oh ! qu'elle etait belle ! elle avait dix-huit ans, 
et elle souriait ; elle etait en blanc. 

Et la procession chantait. Des drapeaux 
se penchaient avec leurs devises en or. 

Moi je serrais les dents pour ne pas pleurer, 
et cette fille, je me sentais Taimer. 

Oh! elle m'a regarde un grand moment, 
une rose blanche en main, souriant. 

Mais maintenant ou es-tu? dis, ou es-tu, 
Es-tu morte? je t'aime, toi qui m'as vu. 



56 INSTIGATIONS 

Si tu existes, Dieu, ne la tue pas. 

elle avait des mains blanches, de minces bras. 

Dieu ne la tue pas ! et ne serait-ce que 
pour son pere nu-tete qui priait Dieu. 

Jammes goes to pieces on such adjectives as "pauvre" 
and "petite," just as DeRegnier slips on "cher," "aimee" 
and "tiede" ; and in their train flock the herd whose ad- 
jectival centre appears to waver from "nue" to "fremis- 
sante." And there is, in many French poets, a fatal 
proclivity to fuss just a little too much over their sub- 
jects. Jammes has also the furniture tendency, and to 
it we owe several of his quite charming poems. How- 
ever the strongest impression I get to-day, reading his 
work in inverse order (i. e. "Jean de Noarrieu" before 
these earlier poems), is of the very great stylistic ad- 
vance made in that poem over his earlier work. 

But he is very successful in saying all there was to be 
said in: 

LA JEUNE FILLE 

La jeune fille est blanche, 

elle a des veines vertes 

au poignets, dans ses manches 

ouvertes. 

On ne sait pas pourquoi 
elle rit. Par moments 
elle crie et cela 

est pergant. 
Est-ce qu'elle se doute 
qu'elle vous prend le coeur 
en cueillant sur la route 

des fleurs. 



A STUDY IN FRENCH POETS 57 

On dirait quelquefois 
qu'elle comprend des choses. 
Pas toujours. Elle cause 

tout has 

"Oh ! ma chere ! oh ! la, la ... 
. . . Figure- toi . . . mardi 
je 1'ai vu . . . j'ai ri" Elle dit 

comme ga. 

Quand un jeune homme souffre, 
d'abord elle se tait: 
elle ne rit plus, tout 

etonnee. 

Dans les petits chemins 
elle remplit ses mains 
de piquants de bruyeres 

de fougeres. 

Elle est grande, elle est blanche, 
elle a des bras tres doux, 
Elle est tres droite et penche 

le cou. 

The poem beginning: 

Tu seras nue dans le salon aux vieilles choses, 
fine comme un fuseau de roseau de lumiere 
et, les jambes croisees, aupres du feu rose 
tu ecouteras 1'hiver 

loses, perhaps, or gains little by comparison with that of 
Heinrich von Morungen, beginning: 

Oh weh, soil mir nun nimmermehr 
hell leuchten durch die Nacht 
noch weisser denn ein Schnee 



58 INSTIGATIONS 

ihr Leib so wohl gemacht? 
Der trog die Augen mein, 
ich wahnt, es sollte sein 
des lichten Monden Schein, 
da tagte es. 

Morungen had had no occasion to say "Je pense a 
Jean- Jacques," and it is foolish to expect exactly the 
same charm of a twentieth-century poet that we find in 
a thirteenth-century poet. Still it is not necessary to be 
Jammes-crazy to feel 

IL VA NEIGER . . . 

II va neiger dans quelques jours. Je me souviens 
de 1'an dernier. Je me souviens de mes tristesses 
au coin du feu. Si Ton m'avait demande : qu'est-ce ? 
j'aurais dit : laissez-moi tranquille. Ce n'est rien. 
J'ai bien reflechi, Tanriee avant, dans ma chambre, 
pendant que la neige lourde tombait dehors. 
J'ai reflechi pour rien. A present comme alors 
je fume une pipe en bois avec un bout d'ambre. 

Ma vieille commode en chene sent tou jours bon. 
Mais moi j'etais bete parce que ces choses 
ne pouvaient pas changer et que c'est une pose 
de vouloir chasser les choses que nous savons. 

Pourquoi done pensons-nous et parlons-nous ? C'est 

drole ; 

nos larmes et nos baisers, eux, ne parlent pas, 
et cependant nous les comprenons, et les pas 
d'un ami sont plus doux que de douces paroles. 



A STUDY IN FRENCH POETS 59 

If I at all rightly understand the words "vouloir 
chasser les choses que nous savons" they are an excellent 
warning against the pose of simplicity over-done that 
haslieen the end of Maeterlinck, and of how many other 
poets whose poetic machinery consists in so great part 
of pretending to know less than they do. 

Jammes' poems are well represented in Miss Lowell's 
dilutation on Six French Poets, especially by the well- 
known "Amsterdam" and "Madame de Warens," which 
are also in Van Bever and Leautaud. He reaches, as 
I have said, his greatest verve in "Existences" in the 
volume "Le Triomphe de la Vie." 

I do not wish to speak in superlatives, but "Exist- 
ences," if not Jammes' best work, and if not the most 
important single volume by any living French poet, 
either of which it well may be, is at any rate indispen- 
sable. It is one of the first half dozen books that a man 
wanting to know contemporary French work must in- 
dulge in. One can not represent it in snippets. Still I 
quote "Le Poete" (his remarks at a provincial soiree) : 

Cest drole . . . Cette petite sera bete 

comme ces gens-la, comme son pere et sa mere. 

Et cependant elle a une grace infinie. 

II y a en elle 1'intelligence de la beaute. 

C'est delicieux, son corsage qui n'existe pas, 

son derriere et ses pieds. Mais elle sera bete 

comme une oie dans deux ans d'ici. Elle va jouer. 

(Benette joue la valse des elfes) 

In an earlier scene we have a good example of his 
rapidity in narrative. 



60 INSTIGATIONS 

La Servante 
II y a quelqu'un qui veut parler a monsieur. 

Le Poete 
Qui est-ce? 

La Servante 
Je ne sais pas. 

Le Poete 

Un homme ou une femme? 
La Servante 
Un homme. 

Poete 
Un commis-voyageur, Vous me le f outez belle ! 

La Servante 
Je ne sais pas, monsieur. 

Poete 

Faites entrer au salon. 
Laissez-moi achever d'achever ces cerises. 

(Next Scene) 

Le Poete (dans son salon) 
A qui ai-je 1'honneur de parler, monsieur? 

Le Monsieur 

Monsieur, je suis le cousin de votre ancienne 
maitresse. 

Le Poete 

De quelle maitresse? Je ne vous connais pas. 
Et puis qu'est-ce que vous voulez? 
Le Monsieur 

Monsieur, ecoutez-moi. 
On m'a dit que vous etes bon. 
Poete 

Ce n'est pas vrai. 



A STUDY IN FRENCH POETS 61 

La Pipe du Poete 

II me hour re avec une telle agitation 
que je ne vais jamais pourvoir tirer de 1'air. 

Poete 

D'abord, de quelle maitresse me parlez-vous? 
De qui, pretendez-vous ? Non. Vous pretendez de 
qui j'ai etc 1'amant? 

Le Monsieur 
De Neomie. 
Poete 

De Neomie, 
Le Monsieur 
Oui, monsieur. 

Poete 
Ou habitez-vous ? 

Le Monsieur 
J'habite les environs de Mont-de-Marsan. 

Poete 
Enfm que voulez-vous? 

Le Monsieur 

Savoir si monsieur serait 
assez complaisant pour me donner quelque chose. 

Poete 

Et si je ne vous donne le pas, qu'est-ce que vous 
ferez? 

Le Monsieur 
Oh ! Rien monsieur. Je ne vous ferai rien. Non . . . 

Le Poete 

Tenez, voila dix francs, et foutez-moi la paix. 
(Le monsieur s'en va, puis le poete sort.) 

The troubles of the Larribeau family, Larribeau and 
the bonne, the visit of the "Comtese de Pentacosa," who 
is also staved off with ten francs, are all worth quoting. 



62 INSTIGATIONS 

The whole small town is "Spoon-Rivered" with equal 
verve. "Existences" was written in 1900. 

MOREAS 

IT must not be thought that these very "modern" poets 
owe their modernity merely to some magic chemical 
present in the Parisian milieu. Moreas was born in 
1856, the year after Verhaeren, but his Madeline-aux- 
serpents might be William Morris on Rapunzel : 

Et votre chevelure comme des grappes d'ombres, 
Et ses bandelettes a vos tempes, 
Et la kabbale de vos yeux latents, 
Madeline-aux-serpents, Madeline. 

Madeline, Madeline, 

Pourquoi vos levres a mon cou, ah, pourquoi 
Vos levres entre les coups du hache du roi ! 
Madeline, et les cordaces et les flutes, 
Les flutes, les pas d'amour, les flutes, vous les 

voulutes, 

Helas ! Madeline, la fete, Madeline, 
Ne berce plus les flots au bord de 1'Ile, 
Et mes bouffons ne crevent plus des cerceaux 
Au bord de ITle, pauvres bouffons. 
Pauvres bouffons que couronne la sauge! 
Et mes litieres s'effeuillent aux ornieres, toutes mes 

litieres a grand pans 
De nonchaloir, Madeline-aux-serpents . . . 

A difference with Morris might have arisen, of course, 
over the now long-discussed question of vers libre, but 
who are we to dig up that Babylon? The school-boys' 
papers of Toulouse had learnt all about it before the old 



A STUDY IN FRENCH POETS 63 

gentlemen of The Century and Harper's had discovered 
that such things exist. 

One will not have understood the French poetry of 
the last half-century unless one makes allowance for 
what they call the Gothic as well as the Roman or classic 
influence. We should probably call it (their "Gothic") 
"medievalism," its tone is that of their XIII century 
poets, Crestien de Troies, Marie de France, or perhaps 
even D'Orleans (as we noticed in the quotation from 
Viele-Griffin). Tailhade in his "Hymne Antique" dis- 
plays what we would call Swinburnism (Greekish). 
Tristan Klingsor (a nom de plume showing definite ten- 
dencies) exhibits these things a generation nearer to us: 

i 

Dans son reve le vieux Prince de Touraine 
voit passer en robe verte a longue traine 
Yeldis aux yetix charmeurs de douce reine. 



or 

Au verger ou sifflent les sylphes d'automne 
mignonne Isabelle est venue de Venise 
et veut cueillir des cerises et des pommes. 



He was writing rhymed vers libre in 1903, possibly 
stimulated by translations in a volume called "Poesie 
Arabe." This book has an extremely interesting preface. 
I have forgotten the name of the translator, but in ex- 
cusing the simplicity of Arab songs he says : "The young 
girl in Germany educated in philosophy in Kant and 
Hegel, when love comes to her, at once exclaims 'In- 
finite !', and allies her vocabulary with the transcendental. 



64 INSTIGATIONS 

The little girl in the tents 'ne savait comparer fors que 
sa gourmandise.' " In Klingsor for 1903, I find : 

Croise tes jambes fines et nues 

Dans ton lit, 

Frotte de tes mignonnes mains menues 

Le bout de ton nez; 

Frotte de tes doigts poteles et jolis, 

Les deux violettes de tes yeux cernes, 

Et reve. 

Du haut du minaret arabe s'echappe 

La melopee triste et breve 

De 1'indiscret muezzin 

Qui nasillonne et qui eternue, 

Et toi tu bailies comme une petite chatte, 

Tu bailies d'amour brisee, 

Et tu songes au passant d'Ormuz ou d'Endor 

Qui t'a quittee ce matin 

En te laissant sa legere bourse d'or 

Et les marques bleues de ses baisers. 

Later he turns to Max Elkskamp, addressing him as 
if he, Klingsor, at last had "found Jesus": 

Je viens vers vous, mon cher Elkskamp 
Comrne un pauvre varlet de coeur et de joie 
Vient vers le beau seigneur qui campe 
Sous sa tente d'azur et de soie. 



However I believe Moreas was a real poet, and, being 
stubborn, I have still an idea which got imbedded in my 
head some years ago : I mean that Klingsor is a poet. 



A STUDY IN FRENCH POETS 65 

As for the Elkskamp phase and cult, I do not make much 
of it. Jean de Bosschere has written a book upon 
Elkskamp, and he assures me that Elkskamp is a great 
and important poet, and some day, perhaps, I may un- 
derstand it. De Bosschere seems to me to see or to feel 
perhaps more keenly than any one else certain phases 
of modern mechanical civilization : the ant-like madness 
of men bailing out little boats they never will sail in, 
shoeing horses they never will ride, making chairs they 
never will sit on, and all with a frenzied intentness. I 
may get my conviction as much from his drawings as 
from his poems. I am not yet clear in my mind about 
it. His opinion of Max Elkskamp can not be too lightly 
passed over. Vide infra "De Bosschere on Elkskamp." 

OF OUR DECADE 

Early in 1912 L' Effort, since called U Effort Libre, 
published an excellent selection of poems mostly by men 
born since 1880: Arcos, Chenneviere, Duhamel, Spire, 
Vildrac, and Jules Romains, with some of Leon Bazal- 
gette's translations from Whitman. 

SPIRE 

(born 1868) 

Andre Spire, writing in the style of the generation 
which has succeeded him, is well represented in this col- 
lection by his "Dames Anciennes." The contents of his 
volumes are of very uneven value : Zionist propaganda, 
addresses, and a certain number of well-written poems* 



66 INSTIGATIONS 

DAMES ANCIENNES 

En hiver, dans la chambre claire, 
Tout en haut de la maison, 
Le poele de faience blanche, 
Cercle de cuivre, provincial, doux, 
Chauffait mes doigts et mes livres. 
Et le peuplier mandarine, 
Dans le soir d'argent dedore, 
Dressait, en silence, ses branches, 
Devant ma fenetre close. 

Mere, le printemps aux doigts tiedes 

A souleve 1'espagnolette 

De mes fenetres sans rideaux. 

Faites taire toutes ces voix qui montent 

Jusqu'a ma table de travail. 

Ce sont les amies de ma mere 
Et de la mere de ton pere, 
Qui causent de leurs maris morts, 
Et de leurs fils partis. 

Avec, au coin de leurs levres, 
Ces moustaches de cafe au lait? 
Et dans leurs mains ces tartines? 
Dans leurs bouches ces Kouguelofs? 

Ce sont des cavales anciennes 
Qui machonnent le peu d'herbe douce 
Que Dieu veut bien leur laisser. 

Mere, les maitres sensibles 
Lachent les juments inutiles 



A STUDY IN FRENCH POETS 67 

Dans les pres, non dans mon jardin! 

Sois tranquille, mon fils, sois tranquille, 
Elles ne brouteront pas tes fleurs. 

Mere, que n'y occupent-elles leitrs levres, 
Et leurs trop courtes dents trop blanches 
De porcelaine trop fragile! 

Mon fils, fermez votre fenetre. 
Mon fils, vous n'etes pas chretien! 

VILDRAC 

VILDRAC'S "Gloire" is in a way commentary on 
Remains' Ode to the Crowd ; a critique of part, at least, 
of unanimism. 

II avait su gagner a lui 
Beaucoup d'hommes ensemble, 



Et son bonheur etait de croire, 
Quand il avait quitte la foule, 
Que chacun des hommes 1'aimait 
Et que sa presence durait 
Innombrable et puissante en eux, 



Or un jour il en suivit un 

Qui retournait chez soi, tout seul, 

Et il vit son regard s'eteindre 

Des qu'il fut un peu loin des autres. 



68 INSTIGATIONS 

(The full text of this appeared in Poetry Aug., 1913.) 
Vildrac's two best-known poems are "Une Auberge" 
and "Visite" ; the first a forlorn scene, not too unlike a 
Van Gogh, though not done with Van Gogh's vigor. 

C'est seulement parce qu'on a soif qu'on entre y boire ; 
C'est parce qu'on se sent tomber qu'on va s'y asseoir. 
On n'y est jamais a la fois qu'un ou deux 
Et Ton n'est pas force d'y raconter son histoire. 



Celui qui entre . . . 



mange lentement son pain 
Parce que ses dents sont usees; 
Et il boit avec beaucoup de mal 
Parce qu'il a de peine plein sa gorge. 

Quand il a fini, 
II hesite, puis timide 
Va s'asseoir un peu 
A cote du feu. 

Ses mains crevassees epousent 

Les bosselures dures de ses genoux. 

Then of the other man in the story : 

"qui n'etait pas des notres. . . . 

"Mais comme il avait 1'air cependant d'etre des notres !" 

The story or incident in "Visite" is that of a man stir- 



A STUDY IN FRENCH POETS 69 

ring himself out of his evening comfort to visit some 
pathetic dull friends. 



Ces gens helas, ne croyaient pas 

Qu'il fut venu a I'improviste 

Si tard, de si loin, par la neige . . . 

Et ils attendaient Tun et 1'autre 

Que brusquement et d'un haleine il exposat 

La grave raison de sa venue. 

Only when he gets up to go, "ils oserent comprendre" 
II leur promit de revenir. 

Mais avant de gagner la porte 
II fixa bien dans sa memoire 
Le lieu ou s'abritait leur vie. 
II regarda bien chaque objet 
Et puis aussi 1'homme et la femme, 
Tant il craignait au fond de lui 
De ne plus jamais revenir. 

The relation of Vildrac's verse narratives to the short 
story form is most interesting. 

JULES ROMAINS 

The reader who has gone through Spire, Remains, and 
Vildrac, will have a fair idea of the poetry written by 
this group of men. Remains has always seemed to me, 
and is, I think, generally recognized as, the nerve-centre, 
the dynamic centre of the group. 



70 INSTIGATIONS 

Les marchands sont assis aux portes des boutiques ; 
Us regardent. Les toits joignent la rue au ciel 
Et les paves semblent feconds sous le soleil 
Comme un champ de mais. 

Les marchands ont laisse dormir pres du comptoir 
Ee desir de gagner qui travaille des 1'aube. 
On dirait que, malgre leur ame habituelle, 
Une autre ame s'avance et vient au seuil d'eux-memes 
Comme ils viennent au seuil de leurs boutiques noires. 

We are regaining for cities a little of what savage 
man has for the forest. We live by instinct; receive 
news by instinct; have conquered machinery as primi- 
tive man conquered the jungle. Romains feels this, 
though his phrases may not be ours. Wyndham Lewis 
on giants is nearer Romains than anything else in Eng- 
lish, but vorticism is, in the realm of biology, the hy- 
pothesis of the dominant cell. Lewis on giants comes 
perhaps nearer Romains than did the original talks about 
the Vortex. There is in inferior minds a passion for 
unity, that is, for a confusion and melting together of 
things which a good mind will want kept distinct. Un- 
informed English criticism has treated Unanimism as if 
it were a vague general propaganda, and this criticism 
has cited some of our worst and stupidest versifiers as 
a corresponding manifestation in England. One can 
only account for such error by the very plausible hy- 
pothesis that the erring critics have not read "Puissances 
de Paris." 

Romains is not to be understood by extracts and frag- 
ments. He has felt this general replunge of mind into 
instinct, or this development of instinct to cope with a 
metropolis, and with metropolitan conditions ; in so far 



A STUDY IN FRENCH POETS 71 

as he has expressed the emotions of this consciousness 
he is poet; he has, aside from that, tried to formulate 
this new consciousness, and in so far as such formulation 
is dogmatic, debatable, intellectual, hypothetical, he is 
open to argument and dispute ; that is to say he is philos- 
opher, and his philosophy is definite and defined. Vil- 
drac's statement "II a change la pathetique" is perfectly 
true. Many people will prefer the traditional and fa- 
miliar and recognizable poetry of writers like Klingsor. 
I am not dictating people's likes and dislikes. Romains 
has made a new kind of poetry. Since the scrapping 
of the Aquinian, Dantescan system, he is perhaps the 
first person who had dared put up so definite a philo- 
sophical frame-work for his emotions. 

I do not mean, by this, that I agree with Jules 
Romains ; I am prepared to go no further than my 
opening sentence of this section, concerning our grow- 
ing, or returning, or perhaps only newly-noticed, sensi- 
tization to crowd feeling; to the metropolis and its 
peculiar sensations. Turn to Romains : 

Je croyais les murs de ma chambre impermeables. 
Or ils laissent passer une tiede bruine 
Qui s'epaissit et qui m'empeche de me voir, 
Le papier a fleurs bleues lui cede. II fait le bruit 
Du sable et du cresson qu'une source traverse. 
L'air qui touche mes nerfs est extremement lourd. 
Ce n'est pas comme avant le pur milieu de vie 
Ou montait de la solitude sublimee. 

Voila que par osmose 

Toute rimmensite d'alentour le sature. 



72 INSTIGATIONS 

II charge mes poumons, il empoisse les choses, 
II separe mon corps des meubles familiers, 



Les forces du dehors s'enroulent a mes mains. 

In "Puissances de Paris" he states that there are 
beings more "real than the individual." Here, I can hut 
touch upon salients. 

Rien ne cesse d'etre interieur. 

La rue est plus intime a cause de la brume. 

Lines like Romains', so well packed with thought, so 
careful that you will get the idea, can not be poured out 
by the bushel like those of contemporary rhetoricians, 
like those of Claudel and Fort. The best poetry has 
always a content, it may not be an intellectual content; 
in Romains the intellectual statement is necessary to keep 
the new emotional content coherent. 

The opposite of Lewis's giant appears in : 

Je suis 1'esclave heureux des hommes dont 1'haleine 
Flotte ici. Leur vouloirs s'ecoule dans mes nerf s ; 
Ce qui est moi commence a fondre. 

This statement has the perfectly simple order of 
words. It is the simple statement of a man saying things 
for the first time, whose chief concern is that he shall 
speak clearly. His work is perhaps the fullest statement 
of the poetic consciousness of our time, or the scope of 
that consciousness. I am not saying he is the most 
poignant poet; simply that in him we have the fullest 
poetic exposition. 

You can get the feel of Laforgue or even of Corbiere 



A STUDY IN FRENCH POETS 73 

from a few poems ; Remains is a subject for study. I 
do not say this as praise, I am simply trying to define 
him. His "Un Etre en Marche" is the narrative of a 
girls' school, of the "crocodile" or procession going out 
for its orderly walk, its collective sensations and adven- 
tures. 

Troupes and herds appear in his earlier work : 

Le troupeau marche, avec ses chiens et son berger, 
II a peur. a et la des reverberes brulent, 
II tremble d'etre poursuivi par les etoiles. 

La foule traine une ecume d'ombrelles blanches 

La grande ville s'evapore, 
Et pleut a verse sur la plaine 
Ou'elle sature. 

His style is not a "model," it has the freshness of 
grass, not of new furniture polish. In his work many 
nouns meet their verbs for the first time, as, perhaps, in 
the last lines above quoted. He needs, as a rule, about 
a hundred pages to turn round in. One can not give 
these poems in quotation; one wants about five volumes 
of Romains. In so far as I am writing "criticism," I 
must say that his prose is just as interesting as his verse. 
But then his verse is just as interesting as his prose. 
Part of his method is to show his subject in a series of 
successive phases, thus in L'Individu: 

V 

Je suis un habitant de ma ville, un de ceux 
Qui s'assoient au theatre et qui vont par les rues 



74 INSTIGATIONS 

VI 

Je cesse lentement d'etre moi. Ma personne 
Semble s'aneantir chaque jour un peu plus 
C'est a peine si je le sens et m'en etonne. 

His poetry is not of single and startling emotions, 
but for better or worse of progressive states of con- 
sciousness. It is as useless for the disciple to try and 
imitate Romains, without having as much thought of his 
own, as it is for the tyro in words to try imitations of 
Jules Laforgue. The limitation of Romains' work, as 
of a deal of Browning's, is that, having once understood 
it, one may not need or care to re-read it. This restric- 
tion applies also in a wholly different way to "En- 
dymion" ; having once filled the mind with Keats' color, 
or the beauty of things described, one gets no new thrill 
from the re-reading of them in not very well-written 
verse. This limitation applies to all poetry that is not 
implicit in its own medium, that is, which is not indis- 
solubly bound in with the actual words, word music, the 
fineness and firmness of the actual writing, as in Villon, 
or in "Collis O Heliconii." 

But one can not leave Romains unread. His interest 
is more than a prose interest, he has verse technique, 
rhyme, terminal syzygy, but that is not what I mean. 
He is poetry in: 

On ne m'a pas donne de lettres, ces jours-ci; 
Personne n'a songe, dans la ville, a m'ecrire, 
Oh! je n'esperais rien; je sais vivre et penser 
Tout seul, et mon esprit, pour faire une flambee, 
N'attend pas qu'on lui jette une feuille noircie. 



A STUDY IN FRENCH POETS 75 

Mais je sens qu'il me manque un plaisir familier, 

J'ai du bonheur aux mains quand j'ouvre une enveloppe; 

But such statements as : 

TENTATION 

Je me plais beaucoup trop a rester dans les gares ; 
Accoude sur le bois anguleux des barrieres, 
Je regarde les trains s'emplir de voyageurs. 



and: 



Mon esprit solitaire est une goutte d'huile 
Sur la pensee et sur le songe de la ville 
Qui me laissent flotter et ne m'absorbent pas. 



would not be important unless they were followed by 
exposition. The point is that they are followed by ex- 
position, to which they form a necessary introduction, 
denning Remains' angle of attack ; and as a result the 
force of Remains is cumulative. His early books gather 
meaning as one reads through the later ones. 

And I think if one opens him almost anywhere one 
can discern the authentic accent of a man saying some- 
thing, not the desultory impagination of rehash. 

Charles Vildrac is an interesting companion figure to 
his brilliant friend Remains. He conserves himself, he 
is never carried away by Romains' theories. He ad- 
mires, differs, and occasionally formulates a corrective 
or corollary as in "Gloire." 



76 INSTIGATIONS 

Compare this poem with Remains' "Ode to the Crowd 
Here Present" and you get the two angles of vision. 

Henry Spiess, a Genevan lawyer, has written an in- 
teresting series of sketches of the court-room. He is a 
more or less isolated figure. I have seen amusing and 
indecorous poems by George Fourest, but it is quite 
probable that they amuse because one is unfamiliar with 
their genre; still "La Blonde Negresse" (the heroine of 
his title), his satire of the symbolo-rhapsodicoes in the 
series of poems about her : "La negresse blonde, la 
blonde negresse," gathering into its sound all the swish 
and woggle of the sound-over-sensists ; the poem on 
the beautiful blue-behinded baboon; that on the gentle- 
man "qui ne craignait ni la verole ni dieu" ; "Les pianos 
du Casino au bord de la mer" (Laforgue plus the four- 
hour touch), are rm egregious and diverting guffaw. 
(I do not think the book is available to the public. J. G. 
Fletcher once lent me a copy, but the edition was limited 
and the work seems rather unknown.) 

Remains is my chief concern. I can not give a full 
exposition of Unanimism on a page or two. Among all 
the younger writers and groups in Paris, the group cen- 
tering in Remains is the only one which seems to me 
to have an energy comparable to that of the Blast group 
in London,* the only group in which the writers for Blast 
can be expected to take very much interest. 

Remains in the flesh does not seem so energetic as 
Lewis in the flesh, but then I have seen Romains only 
once and I am well acquainted with Lewis. Romains is, 
in his writing, more placid, the thought seems rfiore 
passive, less impetuous. As for those who will not 
have Lewis "at any price," there remains to them no 
other course than the acceptance of Romains, for these 

* Statement dated Feb., 1918. 



A STUDY IN FRENCH POETS 77 

two men hold the two tenable positions : the Mountain 
and the Multitude. 

It might be fairer to Romains to say simply he has 
chosen, or specialized in. the collected multitude as a 
subject matter, and that he is quite well on a mountain 
.of his own. 

My general conclusions, redoing and reviewing this 
period of French poetry, are (after my paw-over of some 
sixty new volumes as mentioned, and after re-reading 
110 st of what I had read before) : 

1 . As stated in my opening, that mediocre poetry is 
bout the same in all countries ; that France has as much 
[rivel, gas, mush, etc., poured into verse, as has any 
ther nation. 

2. That it is impossible "to make a silk purse out of 
sow's ear," or poetry out of nothing ; that all attempts 

o "expand" a subject into poetry are futile, funda- 
mentally ; that the subject matter must be coterminous 
with the expression. Tasso, Spenser, Ariosto, prose 
)oems, diffuse forms of all sorts are all a preciosity, a 
arlor-game, and dilutations go to the scrap heap. 

3. That Corbiere, Rimbaud, Laforgue are permanent; 
bat probably some of De Gourmont's and Tailhade's 
oems are permanent, or at least reasonably durable ; 
iiat Romains is indispensable, for the present at any 

rate ; that people who say they "don't like French poetry" 
re possibly matoids, and certainly ignorant of the scope 
nd variety of French work. In the same way people 
re ignorant of the qualities of French people; ignorant 
hat if they do not feel at home in Amiens (as I do not), 
here are other places in France ; in the Charente if you 
valk across country you meet people exactly like the 
licest people you can meet in the American country 
nd they are not "foreign" 



78 INSTIGATIONS 

All France is not to be found in Paris. The adjective 
"French" is current in America with a dozen erroneous 
or stupid connotations. If it means, as it did in the 
mouth of my contemporary, "talcum powder" and sur- 
face neatness, the selection of poems I have given here 
would almost show the need of, or at least a reason for, 
French Parnassienism ; for it shows the French poets 
violent, whether with the violent words of Corbiere, or 
the quiet violence of the irony of Laforgue, the sudden 
annihilations of his "turn-back" on the subject. People 
forget that the incision of Voltaire is no more all of 
French Literature than is the robustesza of Brantome. 
(Burton of the "Anatomy" is our only writer who can 
match him.) They forget the two distinct finenesses of 
the Latin French and of the French "Gothic," that is of 
the eighteenth century, of Bernard (if one take a writer 
of no great importance to illustrate a definite quality), 
or of D'Orleans and of Froissart in verse. From this 
delicacy, if they can not be doing with it, they may turn 
easily to Villon or Basselin. Only a general distaste for 
literature can be operative against all of these writers. 

UNANIMISME 

The English translation of Remains' "Mort de 
Quelqu'un" has provoked various English and American 
essays and reviews. His published works are "L'Ame 
des Hommes," 1904; "Le Bourg Regenere," 1906; "La 
Vie Unanime," 1908; "Premier Livre de Prieres," 1909; 
"La Foule qui est Ici," 1909; in 1910 and 1911 "Un Etre 
en Marche," "Deux Poemes," "Manuel de Deification," 
"L'armee dans la Ville," "Puissances de Paris," and 
"Mort de Quelqu'un," employing the three excellent pub- 
lishing houses of the Mercure, Figuiere and Sansot. 



A STUDY IN FRENCH POETS 79 

His "Reflexions" at the end of "Puissances de Paris" 
are so good a formulation of the Unanimiste Aesthetic, 
or "Pathetique," that quotation of them will do more to 
disabuse readers misled by stupid English criticism than 
would any amount of talk about Romains. I let him 
speak for himself : 

REFLEXIONS 

"Many people are now ready to recognize that there 
are in the world beings more real than man. We admit 
the life of entities greater than our own bodies. Society 
is not merely an arithmetical total, or a collective desig- 
nation. We even credit the existence of groups inter- 
mediate between the individual and the state. But these 
opinions are put forth by abstract deduction or by ex- 
perimentation of reason. 

"People employ them to complete a system of things 
and with the complacencies of analogy. If they do not 
follow a serious study of social data, they are at least 
the most meritorious results of observations ; they justify 
the method, and uphold the laws of a science which 
struggles manfully to be scientific. 

"These fashions of knowing would seem both costly 
and tenuous. Man did not wait for physiology to give 
him a notion of his body, in which lack of patience he 
was intelligent, for physiology has given him but analytic 
and exterior information concerning things he had long 
known from within. He had been conscious of his 
organs long before he had specified their modes of ac- 
tivity. As spirals of smoke from village chimneys, the 
profound senses of each organ had mounted toward him ; 
joy, sorrow, all the emotions are deeds more fully of 
consciousness than are the thoughts of man's reason. 



8o INSTIGATIONS 

Reason makes a concept of man, but the heart perceives 
the flesh of his body. 

"In like manner we must know the groups that englobe 
us, not by observation from without, but by an organic 
consciousness. And it is by no means sure that the 
rhythms will make their nodes in us, if we be not the 
centres of groups. We have but to become such. Dig 
deep enough in our being, emptying it of individual rev- 
eries, dig enough little canals so that the souls of the 
groups will flow of necessity into us. 

"I have attempted nothing else in this book. Various 
groups have come here into consciousness. They are 
still rudimentary, and their spirit is but a perfume in the 
air. Beings with as little consistence as la Rue du 
Havre, and la Place de la Bastile, ephemeral as the com- 
pany of people in an omnibus, or the audience at L'Opera 
Comique, can not have complex organism or thoughts 
greatly elaborate. People will think it superfluous that 
I should unravel such shreds in place of re-carding once 
more the enormous heap of the individual soul. 

"Yet I think the groups are in the most agitated stage 
of their evolution. Future groups will perhaps deserve 
less affection, and we shall conceal the basis of things 
more effectively. Now the incomplete and unstable con- 
tours have not yet learned to stifle any tendency (any 
inclination). Every impact sets them floating. They 
do not coat the infantile matter with a hard or impact- 
ing envelope. A superior plant has realized but few of 
the possibilities swarming in fructificatory mould. A 
mushroom leads one more directly to the essential life 
quality than do the complexities of the oak tree. 

"Thus the groups prepare more future than is strictly 
required. Thus we have the considerable happiness of 
watching the commencement of reign, the beginning of 



A STUDY IN FRENCH POETS 81 

an organic series which will last as did others, for a 
thousand ages, before the cooling of the earth. This 
is not a progression, it is a creation, the first leap-out of 
a different series. Groups will not continue the activi- 
ties of animals, nor of men ; they will start things afresh 
according to their own need, and as the consciousness 
of their substance increases they will refashion the 
image of the world. 

"The men who henceforth can draw the souls of groups 
to converge within themselves, will give forth the com- 
ing dream, and will gather, to boot, certain intuitions of 
human habit. Our ideas of the being will undergo a 
correction; will hesitate rather more in finding a dis- 
tinction between the existent and non-existent. In pass- 
ing successively from the Place de 1'Europe to the Place 
des Vosges, and then to a gang of navvies, one perceives 
that there are numerous shades of difference between 
nothing and something. Before resorting to groups one 
is sure of discerning a being of a simple idea. One 
knows that a dog exists, that he has an interior and 
independent unity ; one knows that a table or a mountain 
does not exist ; nothing but our manner of speech cuts 
it off from the universal non-existing. But streets de- 
mand all shades of verbal expression (from the non- 
existing up to the autonomous creature). 

"One ceases to believe that a definite limit is the indis- 
pensable means of existence. Where does la Place de 
la Trinite begin? The streets mingle their bodies. The 
squares isolate themselves with great difficulty. The 
crowd at the theatre takes on no contour until it has 
lived for some time, and with vigor. A being (etrej 
has a centre, or centres in harmony, but a being is not 
compelled to have limits. He exists a great deal in one 
place, rather less in others, and, further on, a second 



82 INSTIGATIONS 

being commences before the first has left off. Every 
being has, somewhere in space, its maximum. Only 
ancestored individuals possess affirmative contours, a 
skin which cuts them off from the infinite. 

"Space is no one's possession. No being has succeeded 
in appropriating one scrap of space and saturating it 
with his own unique existence. Everything over-crosses, 
coincides, and cohabits. Every point is a perch for a 
thousand birds. Paris, the rue Montmartre, a crowd, a 
man, a protoplasm are on the same spot of pavement. 
A thousand existences are concentric. We see a little 
of some of them. 

"How can we go on thinking that an individual is a 
solitary thing which is born, grows, reproduces itself 
and dies? This is a superior and inveterate manner of 
being an individual. But groups are not truly born. 
Their life makes and unmakes itself like an unstable 
state of matter, a condensation which does not endure. 
They show us that life, at its origin, is a provisory atti- 
tude, a moment of exception, an intensity between two 
relaxations, not continuity, nothing decisive. The first 
entireties take life by a sort of slow success, and extin- 
guish themselves without catastrophe, the single elements 
do not perish because the whole is disrupted. 

"The crowd before the Baraque Foraine starts to live 
little by little, as water in a kettle begins to sing and 
evaporate. The passages of the Odeon do not live by 
night, each day they are real, a few hours. At the start 
life seems the affair of a moment, then it becomes inter- 
mittent. To be durable; to become a development and 
a destiny; to be defined and finished off at each end 
by birth and death, it needs a deal of accustomedness. 

"The primitive forms are not coequal. There is a 
natural hierarchy among groups. Streets have no set 



A STIIDY IX FRENCH 1'OKTS 83 

middle, no veritable limitations; they hold a long vacil- 
lating sort of life which night flattens out almost to 
nothingness. Cross-roads and squares take on contour, 
and gather up the nodes of their rhythms. Other groups 
have a fashioned body, they endure but a little space, 
but they have learned, almost, to die ; they even resurrect 
themselves as by a jerk or dry spasm, they begin the 
habit of being, they strive toward it, and this puts them 
out of breath. 

"1 have not yet met a group fully divine. None has 
had a real consciousness, none has addressed me, saying : 
I exist. The day when the first group shall take its 
soul in its hands, as one lifts up a child in order to look 
in its face, that day there will be a new god upon earth. 
This is the god I await, with my labor of annunciation." 

This excerpt from Romains gives the tone of his 
thought. In so far as he writes in the present tense he 
carries conviction. He broaches truly a "new," or at 
least contemporary "pathetique." He utters, in original 
vein, phases of consciousness whereinto we are more or 
less drifting, in measure of our proper sensibility. 

I retain, however, my full suspicion of agglomerates. 

DE BOSSCHERE'S STUDY OF ELSKAMP * 

I CONFESSED in my February essay my inability to 
make anything of Max Elskamp's poetry, and I have 
tacitly confessed my inability to find any formula for 
hawking De Bosschere's own verse to any public of my 
acquaintance ; De Bosschere's study of Elskamp, how- 
ever, requires no advocacy ; I do not think it even re- 

*"Max Elskamp"; essai par Jean De Bosschere. Bibliotheque 
de I'Occident, 17 rue Eble, Paris, fr. 3.50. 



84 INSTIGATIONS 

quires to be a study of Max Elskamp ; it drifts as quiet 
canal water ; the protagonist may or not be a real man. 

"Ici, la solitude est plus accentuee: souvent, pendant 
de longues minutes, les rues sont desertes. . . . Les 
portes ne semblent pas, ainsi que dans les grandes villes, 
s'ouvrir sur un poumon de vie, et etre une cellule vivante 
de la rue. Au contraire, toutes sont fermees. Aussi 
bien, les fagades de ce quartier sont pareilles aux murs 
borgnes. Un mince ruban de ciel roux et grjs, a peine 
bleu au printemps, decoupe les pignons, se tend sur le 
marche desert et sur le puits profond des cours." 

From this Antwerp, De Bosschere derives his subject, 
as Gautier his "Albertus" from 

Un vieux bourg flamand tel que peint Teniers ; 
trees bathing in water. 

"Son univers etait limite par : 'le grand peuplier' ; une 
statue de Pomone, 'le grand rocher,' et 'la grand 
grenouille' ; ceci etait un coin touffu ou il y avait de 1'eau 
et ou il ne vit jamais qu'une seule grenouille, qu'il croyait 
immortelle." De Bosschere's next vision of Elskamp is 
when his subject is pointed out as "le poete decadent," 
for no apparent reason save that he read Mallarme at a 
time when Antwerp did not. The study breaks into a 
cheerful grin when Elskamp tells of Mallarme's one 
appearance in the sea-port: 

"Le bruit et les cris qui furent pousses pendant la 
conference de Mallarme, 1'arreterent plusieurs fois. 
L'opinion du public sur sa causerie est contenue en ces 
quelques mots, dits par un general retraite, grand joueur 
de billard, et qui du reste ne fit qu'une courte absence 
de la salle de jeu, pour ecouter quelques phrases du 
poete. 'Get homme est ivre ou fou/ dit il fort haut, 
en quittant la salle, oil son jugement fit loi. Anvers, 
malgre un leger masque de snobisme, qui pourrait 



A STUDY IN FRENCH POETS 85 

tromper, n'a pas change depuis. Mallarme, meme pour 
les avertis, est ton jours rhomme ivre ou fou." 

The billiard player is the one modern touch in the 
book ; for the rest Elskamp sails with sea-captains, ap- 
parently in sailing ships to Constantinople, or perhaps 
one should call it Byzantium. He reads Juan de la 
Cruz and Young's Night Thoughts, and volumes of de- 
monology, in the properly dim library of his maternal 
grandfather, "Sa passion en rhetorique fut pour Long- 
fellow, il traduisait 'Song of (sic) Hiawatots.' " 

The further one penetrates into De Bosschere's de- 
lightful narrative the less real is the hero; the less he 
needs to be real. A phantom has been called out of 
De Foe's period, delightful phantom, taking on the reality 
of the fictitious; in the end the author has created a 
charming figure, but I am as far as ever from making 
head or tail of the verses attributed to this creation. I 
have had a few hours' delightful reading, I have loitered 
along slow canals, behind a small window sits Elskamp 
doing something I do not in the least understand. 

II 

So was I at the end of the first division "Sur la Vie" 
de Max Elskamp. The second division, concerned with 
"Oeuvre et Vie," but raised again the questions that 
had faced me in reading Elskamp's printed work. He 
has an undercurrent, an element everywhere present, 
differentiating his poems from other men's poems. De 
Bosschere scarcely helps me to name it. The third divi- 
sion of the book, at first reading, nearly quenched the 
curiosity and the interest aroused by the first two-thirds. 
On second reading I thought better of it. Elskamp, 
plunged in the middle ages, in what seems almost an 



86 INSTIGATIONS 

atrophy, as much as an atavism, becomes a little more 
plausible. (For what it is worth, I read the chapter 
upon a day of almost complete exhaustion.) 

"Or, quand la vision lache comme une proie videe le 
saint, il demeure avec les hommes." 

"Entre le voyant et ceux qui le sanctifient il y a un 
precipice insondable. Seul Tindividu est beatific par sa 
croyance ; mais il ne peut I'utiliser au temporel ni la 
partager avec les hommes, et c'est peut-etre la forme 
unique de la justice sur terre." 

The two sentences give us perhaps the tone of De Boss- 
chere's critique "Sur le Mysticisme" of Elskamp. 

It is, however, not in De Bosschere, but in La Wallonie 
that I found the clue to this author: 

CONSOLATRICE DES AFFLTGES 

Et 1'hiver m'a donne la main, 

J'ai la main d'Hiver dans les mains, 

et dans ma tete, au loin, il brule 
les vieux etes de canicule; 

et dans mes yeux, en candeurs lentes, 
tres blanchement il fait des tentes, 

dans mes yeux il fait des Sicile, 
puis des iles, encore des iles. 

Et c'est tout un voyage en rond 
trop vite pour la guerison 

a tons les pays ou Ton meurt 

au long cours des mers et des heures ; 



A STUDY IN KKIiNCH POETS 87 

et c'est tout un voyage au vent 
sur les vaisseaux de mes lits blancs 

qui houlent avec des etoiles 
a 1'entour de toutes les voiles. 

or j'ai le gout de mer aux levres 
comme tine rancoeur de genievre 

bu pour la tres mauvaise orgie 
des departs dans les tabagies ; 

puis ce pays encore me vient : 
un pays de neiges sans fin. . . . 

Marie des bonnes couvertures, 
faites-y la neige moins dure 

et courir moins comme des lieres 
mes mains sur mes draps blancs de fievre. 
Max Elskamp in "La Wallonie," 1892. 

The poem appears in Van Bever and Leautaud's an- 
thology and there may be no reason for my not having 
thence received it ; but there is, for all that, a certain 
value in finding a man among his native surroundings, 
and in finding Elskamp at home, among his contem- 
poraries, I gained first the advantage of comprehension. 

ALBERT MOCKEL AND "LA WALLONIE" * 

I recently received a letter from Albert Mockel, 
written with a graciousness not often employed by Eng- 
lish and American writers in communication to their 

* Little Review, Oct., 1918. 



88 INSTIGATIONS 

juniors. Indeed, the present elder generation of Ameri- 
can "respectable" authors having all their lives ap- 
proached so nearly to death, have always been rather 
annoyed that American letters did not die utterly in their 
personal desiccations. Signs of vitality; signs of inter- 
est in, or cognizance of other sections of this troubled 
planet have been steadily and papier-macheedly depre- 
cated. The rubbish bins of Harper's and the Century 
have opened their lids not to new movements but only 
to the diluted imitations of new movers, etc. 

La Wallonie, beginning as L'Elan Litteraire in 1885, 
endured seven years. It announced for a full year on 
its covers that its seventh year was its last. Albert 
Mockel has been gracious enough to call it "Notre Little 
Review a nous," and to commend the motto on our 
cover, in the letter here following: 

109, Avenue de Paris 8 mat, 1918 

La Malmaison Rueil 
Monsieur et cher confrere, 

Merci de votre amiable envoi. La Little Reviezv m'est 
sympathique a 1'extreme. En la feuilletant j'ai cru voir 
renaitre ce temps dore de ferveur et de belle confiance 
ou, adolescent encore, et tatonnant un peu dans les 
neuves regions de TArt, je fondai a Liege notre Little 
Review a nous, La Wallonie. Je retrouve justement 
quelques livraisons de cette revue et je vous les envoie; 
el les ont tout au moins le merite de la rarete. 

Vous mon cher confrere, deja ne marchez plus a tatons 
mais je vous soupgonne de n'etre pas aussi terriblement, 
aussi criminellement jeune que je Tetais a cette epoque- 
la. Et puis trente ans ont passe sur la litterature, et 
c'est de la folie d'hier qu'est faite la sagesse d'aujourd'- 
hui. Alors le Symbolisme naissait ; grace a la collabora- 



A STUDY IN FRENCH POETS 89 

tion de mes amis, grace a Henri de Regnier et Pierre M. 
Olin qui dirigerent la revue avec moi, La Wallonie en 
fut Tun des premiers foyers. Tout etait remis en ques- 
tion. On aspirait a plus de liberte a une forme plus 
intense et plus complete plus musicale et plus souple, a 
une expression nouvelle de 1'eternelle beaute. On s'inge- 
niait on cherchait . . . Tatonnementse ? Certes et Us 
etaient inevitables. Mais vif et ardent effort, desinteres- 
sement absolu, foi juvenile et surtout "No compromise 
with the public taste" . . . N'y a-t-il point la quelques 
traits de ressemblance avec Tceuvre que vous tentez au- 
jourd'hui en Amerique, et, a trente annees d'intervale, 
une sorte de cousinage? C'est pourquoi mon cher con- 
frere, j'ai lu avec tant de plaisir la Little Review dont 
vous avec eu la gentillesse de m'adresser la collection. 
Croyez-moi sympathiquement votre, 

ALBERT MOCKEL. 

With a native mistrust of la belle phrase; of "temps 
dore" "ferveur," "belle confiance," etc., and with an 
equally native superiority to any publication not printed 
LARGE, I opened La Wallonie. The gropings, "ta- 
tonnements," to which M. Mockel so modestly refers, 
appear to have included some of the best work of 
Mallarme, of Stuart Merrill, of Max Elskamp and Emile 
Verhaeren. Verlaine contributed to La Wallonie, De 
Regnier was one of its editors . . . Men of since popu- 
lar fame Bourget, Pierre Louys, Maeterlinck ap- 
peared with the rarer spirits. 

If ever the "amateur magazine" in the sense of maga- 
zine by lovers of art and letters, for lovers of art and 
letters, in contempt of the commerce of letters, has vin- 
dicated itself, that vindication was La Wallonie. Ver- 
haeren's "Les Pauvres" first appeared there as the sec- 



90 INSTIGATIONS 

ond part of the series : "Chansons des Carrefours" (Jan., 
'92) ... The Elskamp I have just quoted appeared 
there with other poems of Max Elskamp. Mallarme is 
represented by the exquisite : 

SONNET 

Ses purs ongles tres haut dediant leur onyx, 
L'Angoisse ce minuit, soutient, lampadophore, 
Maint reve vesperal brule par le phenix 
Que ne recueille pas de cineraire amphore 

Sur les credences, au salon vide : nul ptyx, 
Aboli bibelot d'inanite sonore, 
(Car le maitre est alle puiser des pleurs au Styx 
Avec ce seul objet dont le Neant s'honore.) 

Mais proche la croisee au nord vacante, un or 

Agonise selon peut-etre le decor 

Des licornes ruant du feu contre une nixe, 

Elle, defunte nue en le miroir encor 

Que, dans 1'oubli ferme par le cadre, se fixe 

De scintillations sitot le septuor. 

Mallarme in "La Wattonie," Jan., 1889. 

An era of Franco-Anglo-American intercourse is 
marked by his address to : 

THE WHIRLWIND 

Pas les rafales a propos 

De rien comme occuper la rue 



A STUDY IN FRENCH POE'lS 91 

Sujette au noir vol des chapeaux ; 
Mais une clanseuse apparne 

Tourbillon de mousseline ou 
Fureur eparses en ecumes 
Que souleve par son genoti 
Celle meme dont nous vecumes 



Pour tout, hormis lui. rebattu 
Spirituelle, ivre, immobile 
Foudroyer avec le tutu, 
Sans se faire autrement de bile 

Sinon rieur que puisse 1'air 
De sa jupe eventer Whistler. 

M attar me in "Wallonie," Nov., 1890. 

If I owe Albert Mockel a great debt in having illumi- 
nated my eye for Elskamp I owe him no less the pleasure 
of one of Merrill's most delicate triumphs in the open- 
ing of 

BALLET 

Pour Gustaue Moreau 
En casque de cristal rose les baladines, 
Dont les pas mesures aux cordes des kinnors 
Tintent sous les tissus de tulle roidis d'ors, 
Extiltent de leurs yeux pales de xaladines. 

Toisons fauves sur leurs levres incarnadines, 
Bras lourds de bracelets barbares, en essors 
Moelleux vers la lueur lunaire des decors, 
Klles murmurent en malveillantes sourdines: 



92 INSTIGATIONS 

"Nous sommes, 6 mortals, danseuses du Desir, 

Salomes dont les corps tordus par le plaisir 

Leurrent vos heurs d'amour vers nos pervers arcanes. 

Prosternez-vous avec des hosannas, ces soirs ! 
Car, surgissant dans des aurores d'encensoirs, 
Sur nos cymbales nous ferons tonner vos cranes." 

Stuart Merrill in "La Wallonie," July, '98. 

The period was "glauque" and "nacre," it had its pet 
and too-petted adjectives, the handles for parody; but 
it had also a fine care for sound, for sound fine-wrought, 
not mere swish and resonant rumble, not 

"Dolores, O hobble and kobble Dolores. 
O perfect obstruction on track." 

The particular sort of fine workmanship shown in 
this sonnet of Merrill's has of late been too much let 
go by the board. One may do worse than compare it 
with the Syrian syncopation of Aicoya and v A5coi> iv in 
Bion's Adonis. 

Hanton is gently didactic: 

LE BON GRAIN 

"Deja peinent maints moissonneurs dont 
la memoire est destinee a vivre." 
Celestin Demblon. 

Amants des rythmes en des strophes cadencees, 
Des rimes rares aux splendeurs evocatoires, 
Laissant en eux comme un echo de leurs pensees, 
Comme un parfum de leurs symboles en histoires : 



A STUDY IN FRENCH POETS 93 

Tels les poetes vont cherchant en vrais glaneurs 
Les blonds epis qui formeront leur riche ecrin. 
Us choisiront, comme feraient les bons vanneurs, 
Parmi les bles passes au crible, le beau grain. 

Et germera cette semence bien choisie, 
Entre les roses et les lys, pour devenir 
Riche moisson de la fertile fantaisie. 

L'ardent soleil de Messidor fera jaunir 

Les tiges souples d'une forte poesie 

Qui dresseront leurs fiers epis vers 1'avenir ! 

Edmond Hanton in "La Wallonie," July, '88. 

Delaroche is, at least in parts, utterly incomprehen- 
sible, but there is an interesting experiment in sound- 
sequence which begins : 



SONNETS SYMPHONIQUES 

En la langueur 

accidentelle 

de ta dentelle 

ou meurt mon coeur 

Un profil pleure 
et se voit tel 
en le pastel 
du divin leurre 

Qu'or vegetal 
de lys s'enlise 
au froid santal 



94 INSTIGATIONS 

Si n'agonise 
occidental 
qui s'adonise. 
Ackille Deluroche in "La Wallonie" Feb., '89. 

I do not know that ' we will now be carried away by 
Albert Saint-Paul's chinolserie, or that she-devils are so 
much in fashion as when Jules Bois expended, certainly, 
some undeniable emotion in addressing them : 

PETALES DE NACRE 

En sa robe ou s'immobilisent les oiseaux, 

Une emerge des fleurs comme une fleur plus grande. 

Comme une fleur penchee au sourire de 1'eau, 

Ses mains viennent tresser la trainante guirlande 
Pour enchainer le Dragon vert et de legende ! 
Qui de ses griffes d'or dechire les roseaux, 

Les faisceaux de roseaux : banderolles et lances. 

Et quand le soir empourprera le fier silence 

De la foret enjoleuse de la Douleur, 

Ses doigts, fuseaux filant au rouet des murmures 

Les beaux anneaux fleuris liant les fleurs aux fleurs, 

Ses doigts n'auront saigne qu'aux epines peu dures. 
Albert Saint-Paul in "La Wallonie," Jan., '91. 

POUR LA DEMONE 

Un soir de joie, un soir d'ivresse, un soir de fete, 
Et quelle fete, et quelle ivresse, et quelle joie ! 



T 



A STUDY IN FRENCH POETS 95 



u vins. L'imperial ennui sacrait ta tete ; 
Et tu marchais dans un bruit d'armure et de soie. 



Tu dedaignas tons les bijoux et 1'oripeau 
De ruban, de dentelle et d'ephemere fleur. 
Hermetique,* ta robe emprisonnait ta peau. 
Oui, la fourrure seule autour de ta paleur. 



Tu parus. Sous tes yeux que le kh'ol abomine, 

Le bal fut la lugubre et derisoire histoire. 

Les hommes des pantins qu'un vice mene et mine. 

Les femmes, coeurs et corps fanes, et quel deboire ! 

POUR LA DEMONE 
v. 

Elle est folle, c'est sur, elle est folle la chere ; 
Elle m'aime a n'en pas douter, mais elle est folle, 
Elle m'aime et, compatissez a ma misere, 
Avec tous, avec toutes, elle batifole. 

Un passe. . . . Elle s'elance a lui, coeur presume. . . . 
Elle s'offre et le provoque, puis elle fuit 
Vers ailleurs ... si fidele encore au seul-aime, 
Mais elle est folle et je m'eplore dans la nuit. 

Pour quelque amie aux delicatesses felines, 

Elle glisse vers les caresses trop profondes. 

. . . "Tu vas, folle, oublier mes rancoeurs orphelines." 

Mais sa levre pensive hesite aux toisons blondes. 

Jules Bo is in "La IVallonie," Sept., '90. 
* Laforgue f 



96 INSTIGATIONS 

In part we must take our reading of La Wallonie as a 
study of the state of symbolism from 1885 to '92. 

Rodenbach displays the other leaf of the diptych: the 
genre, the homely Wallon landscape, more familiar to the 
outer world in Verhaeren, but not, I think, better 
painted. 

PAYSAGES SOUFFRANTS 
n. 

A Emilie Verhaeren. 

La-bas, tant de petits hameaux sous 1'avalanche 
De la neige qui tombe adoucissante et blanche, 
Tant de villages, tant de chaumines qui sont 
Pour le reste d'un soir doucement assoupies, 
Car le neige s'etend en de molles charpies 
Sur les blessures des vieilles briques qui n'ont 
Rien senti d'une Soeur sur leur rougeur qui saigne ! 
Mais, 6 neige, c'est toi la Soeur au halo blanc 
Qui consoles les murs malades qu'on dedaigne 
Et mets un peu d'ouate aux pierres s'eraflant. 

Las ! rien ne guerira les chaumines aieules 
Qui meurent de 1'hiver et meurent d'etre seules. ... 
Et leurs ames bientot, au gre des vents du nord. 
Dans la fumee aux lents departs, seront parties 
Cependant que la neige, a 1'heure de leur mort, 
Leur apporte ses refraichissantes hosties ! 
Georges Rodenbach in "La Wallonie" Jan., '88. 

Rodenbach is authentic. 

Yiele-Griffin, who, as Stuart Merrill, has always been 



A STUDY IN FRENCH POETS 97 

known in France as "an American," contributed largely 
to La Wallonie. His "Au Tombeau d'Helene" ends: 



HELENE 

Me voici : 

J'etais la des hier, et des sa veille, 

Ailleurs, ici; 

Toute chair, a pare, un soir, mon ame vieille 

Comme Teternite du desir que tu vets. 

La nuit est claire au firmament . . . 

Regarde avec tes yeux leves : 

Voici comme un tissu de pale feu fatal 

Qui fait epanouir la fleur pour la fletrir 

Mon voile ou transparait tout assouvissement 

Qui t'appelle a la vie et qui t'en fait mourir. 

La nuit est claire au firmament vital . . . 

Mes mythes, tu les sais : 

Je suis fille du Cygne, 

Je suis la lune dont s'exuberent les mers 

Qui montent, tombent, se soulevent; 

Et c'est le flot de vie exultante et prostree, 

le flot des reves, 

le flot des chairs, 

le flux et le reflux de la vaste maree. 

Mon doute on dit TEspoir fait 1'action insigne 
Je suis reine de Sparte et celle-la de Troie, 
Par moi, la douloureuse existence guerroie 
Je meus toute inertie aux leurres de ma joie, 
Helene, Selene, flottant de phase en phase, 
Je suis 1'Inaccedee et la tierce Hypostase 
Et si je rejetais, desir qui m'y convies, 



98 INSTIGATIONS 

Mon voile qui promet et refuse 1'extase, 
Ma nudite de feu resorberait les Vies. . . . 

Viele-Griffin in "La Wallonie," Dec., '91. 
(Complete number devoted to his poems.) 

Mockel is represented by several poems rather too long 
to quote, "Chantefable un peu naive/' "L'Antithese," 
suggestive of the Gourmont litany; by prose comment, 
by work over various pseudonyms. "A Clair Matin" is 
a suitable length to quote, and it is better perhaps to 
represent him here by it than by fragments which I had 
first intended to cut from his longer poems. 

A CLAIR MATIN 

La nuit au loin s'est effacee 
comme les lignes tremblantes d'un reve ; 
la nuit s'est fondue au courant du Passe 
et le jour attendu se leve. 

Regardez ! en les courbes molles des rideaux 

une heure attendue se revele 

et ma fenetre enfin s'eclaire, 

cristalline du givre ou se rit la lumiere. 

Une parure enfantine de neiges 

habille la-bas d'immobiles eaux 

et c'est les corteges des fees nouvelles 

a tire d'ailes, a tire d'ailes 

du grand lointain qui toutes reviennent 

aux flocons de ce jour en neiges qui s'epele. 

Des courbes de mes rideaux clairs 
voici ! c'est un parf um de ciel ! 



A STl'DY IN I-UKNCH POETS 99 

blanc des guirlandes de 1'hiver 
le jeune matin m'est apparu 
avec un visage de fiancee. 

Des fees 

(ah je ne sais quelles mortelles fees) 

jadis elles vinrent toucher la paupiere 

d'un etre enfantin qui mourut. 

Son ame, ou se jouait en songes la lumiere, 

diaphane corolle epanouie au jour 

son ame etait vive de toute lumiere ! 

Lui, comme un frere il sufvait ma course 

et nous allions en confiants de la montagne a la vallee 

par les forets des chenes, des hetres 

car eux, les ancetres, ils ont le front grave 

ils virent maints reves des autres ages 

et nous parlent, tres doucement, comme nos Peres. 

Mais voyez! a mes rideaux pales 

le matin glisse des sourires; 

car la Fiancee est venue 

car la Fiancee est venue 

avec un simple et tres doux visage, 

avec des mots qu'on n'entend pas, 

en silence la Fiancee est apparue 

comme tine grande soeur de 1'enfant qui mourut; 

et les hetres, les chenes royaux des forets 

par douce vocalise egrenant leur parure, 

les voix ressuscitees en la plaine sonore 

et toute la foret d'aurore 

quand elle secoue du crepuscule sa chevelure. 

tout chante, bruit, petille et rayonne 

car la celeste Joie que la clarte delivre 

d'un hymne repercute aux miroirs du futur 



ioo INSTIGATIONS 

le front pale ou scintille en etoiles le givre. 

Albert Mockel in "La Wallonie," Dernier fascicule, 

92. 

I have left Gide and Van Lerberghe unquoted, un- 
mentioned, but I have, I dare say, given poems enough 
to indicate the quality and the scope of the poetry in 
La Wallonie. 

In prose their cousinage is perhaps more quickly ap- 
parent. Almost the first sentence I come upon (I sus- 
pect it is Mockel's) runs as follows: 

"La Revue des deux Mo tides public un roman de Georges 
Ohnet ce qui ne surprendra personne." 

This is the proper tone to use when dealing with elderly 
muttonheads ; with the Harpers of yester year. La Wal- 
lonie found it out in the eighties. The symboliste move- 
ment flourished on it. American letters did not flour- 
ish, partly perhaps for the lack of it, and for the lack 
of unbridled uncompromising magazines run by young 
men who did not care for reputations surfaites, for 
elderly stodge and stupidity. 

If we turn to Mockel's death notice for Jules Laforgue 
we will find La Wallonie in '87 awake to the value of 
contemporary achievement : 

JULES LAFORGUE 

Nous apprenons avec une vive tristesse, la mort de 
Jules Laforgue, Tun des plus curieux poetes de la lit- 
terature aux visees nouvelles. Nous 1'avons design e, 
ja deux mois: un Tristan Corbiere plus argentin, moins 
apre . . . Et telle est bien sa caracteristique. Sans le 



A STUDY IN FRENCH POETS 101 

moindre soupgon d'imitation ou de reminiscences, Jules 
Laforgue a sauvegarde une originalite vivace. Seule- 
ment, cette originalite, par bien des saillies, touche a 
celle de Tristan Corbiere. Cest une meme raillerie de la 
Vie et du Monde; mais plus de sombre et virile amer- 
tume emouvait en 1'auteur des Amours Jaunes, dont cette 
piece donnera quelque idee : 

LE CRAPAUD 

Un chant dans une nuit sans air ... 

La lune plaque en metal clair 

Les decoupures du vert sombre. 

. . . Un chant; comme un echo, tout vif 

Enterre, la, sous le massif . . . 

Ca se tait ; viens, c'est la, dans I'ombre . . . 

Un crapaud ! 

Pourquoi cette peur, 
Pres de moi, ton soldat fidele! 
Vois-le, poete tondu, sans aile, 
Rossignol de la boue . . . 

Horreur ! 

... II chante. Horreur!! Horreur pourquoi? 
Vois-tu pas son oeil de lumidre . . . 
Non, il s'en va, froid, sous sa pierre. 

Bonsoir ce crapaud-la c'est moi. 

Chez Laforgue, il y a plus de gai sans-souci, de coups 
de batte de pierrot donnes a toutes choses, plus de "vaille- 
que-vaille la vie," dit d'un air de moqueuse resignation. 
Sa rancoeur n'est pas qui encombrante. II etait un pen 
Tenfant indiscipline que rit a travers les gronderies, et 
fait la moue a sa fantaisie ; mais son haussement d'epaules 



102 INSTIGATIONS 

gamin, et ses "Apres tout?" qu'il jette comme une 
chiquenaude au visage du Temps, cachent toujours au 
fond de son coeur un lac melancolique, un lac de tristesse 
et d'amours fletris, ou vient se refleter sa claire imagina- 
tion. Temoins ces fragments pris aux Complaintes: 
Mon coeur est une urne ou j'ai mis certains defunts, 
Oh ! chut, refrains de leurs berceaux ! et vous, parf urns. 

Mon coeur est un Neron, enfant gate d'Asie, 

Qui d'empires de reve en vain se rassasie. 

Mon coeur est un noye vide d'ame et d'essors, 

Qu'etreint la pieuvre Spleen en ses ventouses d'or. 

C'est un feu d'artifice, helas ! qu'avant la fete, 

A noye sans retour Taverse qui s'embete. 

Mon coeur est le terrestre Histoire-Corbillard 

Que trainent au neant I'instinct et le hazard 

Mon coeur est une horloge oubliee a demeure 

Qui, me sachant defunt, s'obstine a marquer 1'heure. 

Et toujours mon coeur ayant ainsi declame, 
En revient a sa complainte: Aimer, etre aime! 

Et cette piece, d'une ironic concentree : 

COMPLAINTE DES RONS MENACES 

L'Art sans poitrine m'a trop longtemps berce dupe. 
Si ses labours sont fiers, que ses bles decevants! 
Tiens, laisse-moi beler tout aux plis de ta jupe 

Qui fleure le couvent. 

La Genie avec moi, serf, a fait des manieres; 
Toi, jupe, fais frou-frou, sans t'inquieter pourquoi . . . 

Mais 1'Art, c'est ITnconnu ! qu'on y dorme et s'y vautre, 
On ne pent pas 1'avoir constamment sur les bras ! 



A STUDY IX /RErsCH l'< >KTS 103 

Kt bien, menage au vent! Soyons Lui, Elle et 1'Autre. 

Et puis n'insistons pas. 

Et puis? et puis encore un pied de nez melancolique 
a la destinee: 

Qui m'aima jamais? Je m'entete 
Sur ce refrain bien impuissant 
Sans songer que je suis bien bete 
De me faire du mauvais sang: 

Jules Laforgue a public outre les Complaintes, un 
livret de vers degingandes, d'une raillerie splenetique, a 
froid, comme celle qui sied aux hommes du Nord. Mais 
il a su y a j outer ce sans- f agon de choses dites a 1'aven- 
ture, et tout un parfum de lumiere argentine, comme 
les rayons de Notre-Dame la Lime qu'il celebre. Le 
manque de place nous prive d'en citer quelques pages. 
Nous avons lit aussi cette etrange Nuit d'Etoiles : le Con- 
sell Feerique, un assez court poeme edite par la "Vogue" ; 
divers articles de revue, entre lesquels cette page en- 
soleillee, parue dans la Revue Independante : Pan et la 
Syrinx. Knfin un nouveau livre etait annonce: de la 
Pitie, de la Pitiel, deja prepare par Tune des Invoca- 
tions du volume precedent, et dont nous croyons voir 
Tidee en ces vers des Complaint cs: 

Vendange chez les Arts enfantins ; sois en fete 
D'une fugue, d'un mot, d'un ton, d'un air de tete. 

Vivre et peser selon le Beau, le Bien, le Vrai? 
O parfums, 6 regards, 6 f ois ! soit, j'essaierai. 

. . . Va, que ta seule etude 

Soit de vivre sans but, fou de mansuetude 

Albert Mockel in "La Wallome," 1887. 



io 4 INSTIGATIONS 

I have quoted but sparingly, and I have thought quo- 
tation better than comment, but despite the double mea- 
greness I think I have given evidence that La Wallonie 
was worth editing. 

It began as L'Elan Litter air e with 16 pages, and an 
edition of 200 copies ; it should convince any but the most 
stupid that size is not the criterion of permanent value, 
and that a small magazine may outlast much bulkier 
printings. 

After turning the pages of La Wallonie, perhaps after 
reading even this so brief excerpt, one is ready to see 
some sense in even so lyric a phrase as "temps dore, 
fie ferveur et de belle confiance." 

In their seven years' run these editors, one at least 
beginning in his "teens," had published a good deal of 
the best of Verhaeren, had published work by Elskamp, 
Merrill, Griffin, Louys, Maeterlinck, Verlaine Van Ler- 
berghe, Gustave Kahn, Moreas, Quillard, Andre Gide; 
had been joined in their editing board by De Regnier 
(remember that they edited in Liege, not in Paris; they 
were not at the hub of the universe, but in the heart of 
French Belgium) ; they had not made any compromise. 
Permanent literature, and the seeds of permanent litera- 
ture, had gone through proof-sheets in their office. 

There is perhaps no greater pleasure in life, and there 
certainly can have been no greater enthusiasm than to 
have been young and to have been part of such a group 
of writers working in fellowship at the beginning of 
such a course, of such a series of courses as were impli- 
cated in La Wallonie. 

If the date is insufficiently indicated by Mallarme's 
allusion to Whistler, we may turn to the art notes : 

"eaux-fortes de Mile Mary Cassatt . . . Lucien Pis- 



A STUDY IN FRENCH POETS 105 

saro, Sisle^T . . . lithographies de Fantin-Latour . . , 
Odillon Redon." 

"J'ai ete un peu a Paris, voir Burne Jones, Moreau, 
Delacroix ... la danse du ventre, et les adorables Java- 
naises. C'est mon meilleur souvenir, ces filles 'tres 
parees' dans 1'etrange demi-jour de leur case et qui tour- 
nent lentement dans la stridente musique avec de si enig- 
matique inflexions de mains et de si souriantes pour- 
suites les yeux dans les yeux." 

Prose poetry, that doubtful connection, appears at 
times even to advantage : 

"Selene, toi 1'essence et le regard des infinis, ton mal 
nous serait la felicite supreme. O viens a nous, Tanit, 
Vierge Tanit, fleur metallique epanouie aux plaines 
celestes !" Mockel. 



II 

HENRY JAMES 

Tins essay on James is a dull grind of an affair, a 
Baedecker to a continent. 

I set out to explain, not why Henry James is less 
read than formerly I do not know that he is. I tried 
to set down a few reasons why he ought to be, or at least 
might be, more read. 

Some may say that his work was over, well over, finely 
completed ; there is mass of that work, heavy for one 
man's shoulders to have borne up, labor enough for 
two life-times ; still we would have had a few more years 
of his writing. Perhaps the grasp was relaxing, per- 
haps we should have had no strongly-planned book; but 
we should have had paragraphs here and there, and we 
should have had, at least, conversation, wonderful con- 
versation ; even if we did not hear it ourselves, we should 
have known that it was going on somewhere. The mas- 
sive head, the slow uplift of the hand, gli occhi onesti 
e tardi, the long sentences piling themselves up in elab- 
orate phrase after phrase, the lightning incision, the 
pauses, the slightly shaking admonitory gesture with its 
"wu-a-wait a little, wait a little, something will come ;" 
blague and benignity and the weight of so many years' 
careful, incessant labor of minute observation always 

1 06 



HENRY JAMES 107 

tliere to enrich the talk. I had heard it but seldom, yet 
it was all unforgettable. 

The man had this curious power of founding affection 
in those who had scarcely seen him and even in many 
who had not, who but knew him at second hand. 

No man who has not lived on both sides of the Atlan- 
tic can well appraise Henry James ; his death marks the 
end of a period. The Times 1 says : "The Americans 
will understand his changing his nationality," or some- 
thing of that sort. The "Americans" will understand 
nothing whatsoever about it. They have understood 
nothing about it. They do not even know what they 
lost. They have not stopped for eight minutes to con- 
sider the meaning of his last public act. After a year 
of ceaseless labor, of letter writing, of argument, of 
striving in every way to bring in America on the side 
of civilization, he died of apoplexy. On the side of 
civilization civilization against barbarism, civilization, 
not Utopia, not a country or countries where the right 
always prevails in six weeks ! After a life-time spent 
in trying to make two continents understand each other, 
in trying, and only his thoughtful readers can have any 
conception of how he had tried, to make three nations 
intelligible one to another. I am tired of hearing petti- 
ness talked about Henry James's style. The subject 
has been discussed enough in all conscience, along with 
the minor James. Yet I have heard no word of the 
major James, of the hater of tyranny; book after early 
book against oppression, against all the sordid petty 
personal crushing oppression, the domination of modern 
life; not worked out in the diagrams of Greek tragedy, 
not labeled "epos" or "Aeschylus." The outbursts in 
The Tragic Muse, the whole of The Turn of the Screw, 



io8 INSTIGATIONS 

human liberty, personal liberty, the rights of the indi- 
vidual against all sorts of intangible bondage ! * The 
passion of it, the continual passion of it in this man 
who, fools said, didn't "feel." I have never yet found 
a man of emotion against whom idiots didn't raise this 
cry. 

And the great labor, this labor of translation, of mak- 
ing America intelligible, of making it possible for indi- 
viduals to meet across national borders. I think half 
the American idiom is recorded in Henry James's writ- 
ing, and whole decades of American life that otherwise 
would have been utterly lost, wasted, rotting in the un- 
hermetic jars of bad writing, of inaccurate writing. No 
English reader will ever know how good are his New 
York and his New England; no one who does not see 
his grandmother's friends in the pages of the American 
books. The whole great assaying and weighing, the re- 
search for the significance of nationality, French, Eng- 
lish, American. 

"An extraordinary old woman, one of the few people 
who is really doing anything good." There were the 
cobwebs about connoisseurship, etc., but what do they 
matter ? Some yokel writes in the village paper, as Hen- 
ley had written before, "James's stuff' was not worth 
doing." Henley has gone pretty completely. America 
has not yet realized that never in history had one of her 

* This holds, despite anything that may be said of his fuss 
about social order, social tone. I naturally do not drag in po- 
litical connotations, from which H. J. was, we believe, wholly 
exempt. What he fights is "influence", the impinging of family 
pressure, the impinging of one- personality on another; all of 
them in highest degree damn'd, loathsome and detestable. ^Re- 
spect for the peripheries of the individual may be, however, a 
discovery of our generation ; I doubt it, but it seems to have 
been at low ebb in some districts (not rural) for some time. 



HENRY JAMES 109 

great men abandoned his citizenship out of shame. It 
was the last act the last thing left. He had worked all 
his life for the nation and for a year he had labored 
for the national honor. No other American was of suffi- 
cient importance for his change of allegiance to have 
constituted an international act; no other American 
would have been welcome in the same public manner. 
America passes over these things, but the thoughtful 
cannot pass over them. 

Armageddon, the conflict? I turn to James's A Bundle 
of Letters; a letter from "Dr. Rudolph Staub" in Paris, 
ending : 

"You will, I think, hold me warranted in believing 
that between precipitate decay and internecine enmities, 
the English-speaking family is destined to consume it- 
self and that with its decline the prospect of general 
pervasiveness to which I alluded above, will brighten 
for the deep-lunged children of the fatherland !" 

We have heard a great deal of this sort of thing 
since ; it sounds very natural. My edition of the volume 
containing these letters was printed in '83, and the imag- 
inary letters were written somewhat before that. I do 
not know that this calls for comment. Henry James's 
perception came thirty years before Armageddon. That 
is all I wish to point out. Flaubert said of the War of 
1870: "If they had read my Education Sentimentale, 
this sort of thing wouldn't have happened." Artists are 
the antennae of the race, but the bullet-headed many will 
never learn to trust their great artists. If it is the busi- 
ness of the artist to make humanity aware of itself ; 
here the thing was done, the pages of diagnosis. The 
multitude of wearisome fools will not learn their right 
hand from their left or seek out a meaning. 



i io INSTIGATIONS 

It is always easy for people to object to what they 
have not tried to understand. 

I am not here to write a full volume of detailed criti- 
cism, but two things I do claim which I have not seen in 
reviewers' essays. First, that there was emotional great- 
ness in Henry James's hatred of tyranny ; secondly, that 
there was titanic volume, weight, in the masses he sets 
in opposition within his work. He uses forces no whit 
less specifically powerful than the proverbial "doom of 
the house," Destiny, Deus ex machina, of great tra- 
ditional art. His art was great art as opposed to over- 
elaborate or over-refined art by virtue of the major 
conflicts which he portrays. In his books he showed race 
against race, immutable; the essential Americanness, or 
Knglishness or Frenchness in The American, the dif- 
ference between one nation and another ; not flag-waving 
and treaties, not the machinery of government, but 
"why" there is always misunderstanding, why men of 
different race are not the same. 

We have ceased to believe that we conquer anything 
by having Alexander the Great make a gigantic "joy- 
ride" through India. We know that conquests are made 
in the laboratory, that Curie with his minute fragments 
of things seen clearly in test tubes in curious apparatus, 
makes conquests. So, too, in these novels, the essential 
qualities which make up the national qualities, are found 
and set working, the fundamental oppositions made clear. 
This is no contemptible labor. No other writer had so 
essayed three great nations or even thought of attempt- 
ing it. 

Peace comes of communication. No man of our time 
has so labored to create means of communication as did 
the late Henry James. The whole of great art is a strug- 



HENRY JAMES 1 1 i 

gle for communication. All things that oppose this are 
evil, whether they be silly scoffing or obstructive tariffs. 

And this communication is not a leveling, it is not an 
elimination of differences. It is a recognition of differ- 
ences, of the right of differences to exist, of interest in 
finding things different. Kultur is an abomination ; phi- 
lology is an abomination, all repressive uniforming edu- 
cation is an evil. 



A SHAKE DOWN 

I have forgotten the moment of lunar imbecility in 
which I conceived the idea of a "Henry James" num- 
ber.* The pile of typescript on my floor can but annoy- 
ingly and too palpably testify that the madness has raged 
for some weeks. 

Henry James was aware of the spherical form of the 
planet, and susceptible to a given situation, and to the 
tone and tonality of persons as perhaps no other author 
in all literature. The victim and the votary of the 
"scene," he had no very great narrative sense, or at 
the least, he attained the narrative faculty but per aspera, 
through very great striving. 

It is impossible to speak accurately of "his style," for 
he passed through several styles which differ greatly one 
another; but in his last, his most complicated and 

aborate, he is capable of great concision ; and if, in it, 
the single sentence is apt to turn and perform evolutions 
for almost pages at a time, he nevertheless manages to 
say on one page more than many a more "direct" author 
would convey only in the course of a chapter. 

* Little Reviw, Aug., 1918. 



nepa 
from 
elabo 



ii2 INSTIGATIONS 

His plots and incidents are often but adumbrations 
or symbols of the quality of his "people," illustrations 
invented, contrived, often factitiously and almost trans- 
parently, to show what acts, what situations, what con- 
tingencies would befit or display certain characters. We 
are hardly asked to accept them as happening. 

He did not begin his career with any theory of art 
for art's sake, and a lack of this theory may have dam- 
aged his earlier work. 

If we take "French Poets and Novelists" as indication 
of his then (1878) opinions, and novels of the nineties 
showing a later bias, we might contend that our sub- 
ject began his career with a desire to square all things 
to the ethical standards of a Salem mid-week Unitarian 
prayer meeting, and that to almost the end of his course 
he greatly desired to fit the world into the social exigen- 
cies of Mrs. Humphry Ward's characters. 

Out of the unfortunate cobwebs he emerged into his 
greatness, I think, by two causes: first by reason of 
his hatred of personal intimate tyrannies working at 
close range ; and secondly, in later life, because the actual 
mechanism of his scriptorial processes became so bulky, 
became so huge a contrivance for record and depiction, 
that the old man simply couldn't remember or keep his 
mind on or animadvert on anything but the authenticity 
of his impression. 

I take it as the supreme reward for an artist; the 
supreme return that his artistic conscience can make 
him after years spent in its service, that the momentum 
of his art, the sheer bulk of his processes, the (si licet} 
size of his fly-wheel, should heave him out of himself, 
out of his personal limitations, out of the tangles of 
heredity and of environment, out of the bias of early 
training, of early predilections, whether of Florence, 



HENRY JAMES 113 

A. D. 1300, or of Back Bay of 1872, and leave him 
simply the great true recorder. 

And this reward came to Henry James in the ripeness 
of his talents; even further perhaps it entered his life 
and his conversation. The stages of his emergence are 
marked quite clearly in his work. He displays himself 
in French Poets and Novelists, constantly balancing over 
the question of whether or no the characters presented 
in their works are, or are not, fit persons to be received 
in the James family back-parlor. 

In The Tragic Muse he is still didactic quite openly. 
The things he believes still leap out nakedly among the 
people and things he is portraying; the parable is not 
yet wholly incarnate in the narrative. 

To lay all his faults on the table, we may begin with 
his self-confessed limitation, that "he never went down 
town." He displayed in fact a passion for high life 
comparable only to that supposed to inhere in the read- 
ers of a magazine called Forget-me-not. 

Hardy, with his eye on the Greek tragedians, has pro- 
duced an epic tonality, and The Mayor of Casterbridge 
is perhaps more easily comparable to the Grettir Saga 
than to the novels of Mr. Hardy's contemporaries. 
Hardy is, on his other side, a contemporary of Sir Wal- 
ter Scott. 

Balzac gains what force his crude writing permits 
him by representing his people under the av&jKr) of 
modernity, cash necessity; James, by leaving cash neces- 
sity nearly always out of the story, sacrifices, or rather 
fails to attain, certain intensities. 

He never manages the classic, I mean as Flaubert gives 
us in each main character: Everyman. One may con- 
ceivably be bored by certain pages in Flaubert, but one 
takes from him a solid and concrete memory, a prop- 



H4 INSTIGATIONS 

erty. Emma Bo vary and Frederic and M. Arnoux are 
respectively every woman and every man of their period. 
Maupassant's Bel Ami is not. Neither are Henry 
James's people. They are always, or nearly always, the 
bibelots. 

But he does, nevertheless, treat of major forces, even 
of epic forces, and in a way all his own. If Balzac tried 
to give a whole civilization, a whole humanity, James was 
not content with a rough sketch of one country. 

As Armageddon has only too clearly shown, national 
qualities are the great gods of the present and Henry 
James spent himself from the beginning in an analysis 
of these potent chemicals ; trying to determine from the 
given microscopic slide the nature of the Frenchness, 
Englishness, Germanness, Americanness, which chemi- 
cals too little regarded, have in our time exploded for 
want of watching. They are the permanent and fun- 
damental hostilities and incompatibles. We may rest 
our claim for his greatness in the magnitude of his pro- 
tagonists, in the magnitude of the forces he analyzed 
and portrayed. This is not the bare matter of a number 
of titled people, a few duchesses and a few butlers. 

Whatever Flaubert may have said about his Educa- 
tion Sentimentale as a potential preventive of the debacle 
of 1870, if people had read it, and whatever Gautier's 
friend may have said about Emaux et Camees as the last 
resistance to the Prussians, from Dr. Rudolph StauVs 
paragraph in The Bundle of Letters to the last and al- 
most only public act of his life, James displayed a steady 
perception and a steady consideration of the qualities of 
different western races, whose consequences none of us 
can escape. 

And these forces, in precisely that they are not polit- 
ical and executive and therefore transient, factitious, 



HENRY JAMES 115 

but in precisely that they are the forces of race temper- 
aments, are major forces and are indeed as great pro- 
tagonists as any author could have chosen. They are 
firmer ground than Flaubert's when he chooses public 
events as in the opening of the third part of Education 
Scntimentale. 

The portrayal of these forces, to seize a term from 
philology, may be said to constitute "original research" 
to be Henry James's own addendum; not that this 
greatly matters. He saw, analyzed, and presented them. 
He had most assuredly a greater awareness than was 
granted to Balzac or to Mr. Charles Dickens or to M. 
Victor Hugo who composed the Legende des Siecles. 

His statement that he never went down town has been 
urged greatly against him. A butler is a servant, tem- 
pered with upper-class contacts. Mr. Newman, the 
American, has emerged from the making of wash-tubs ; 
the family in The Pupil can scarcely be termed upper- 
class, however, and the factor of money, Balzac's, 
avo.yK.tit scarcely enters his stories. 

We may leave Hardy writing Sagas. We may admit 
that there is a greater robustesza in Balzac's messiness, 
simply because he is perpetually concerned, inaccurately, 
with the factor of money, of earning one's exiguous 
living. 

We may admit the shadowy nature of some of James's 
writing, and agree whimsically with R. H. C. (in the 
New Age) that James will be quite comfortable after 
death, as he had been dealing with ghosts all his life. 

James's third donation is perhaps a less sweeping 
affair and of more concern to his compatriots than to 
any one who might conceivably translate him into an 
alien tongue, or even to those who publish his writings in 
England. 



ii6 INSTIGATIONS 

He has written history of a personal sort, social his- 
tory well documented and incomplete, and he has put 
America on the map both in memoir and fiction, giving 
to her a reality such as is attained only by scenes re- 
corded in the arts and in the writing of masters. Mr. 
Eliot has written, and I daresay most other American 
admirers have written or will write, that, whatever any 
one else thinks of Henry James, no one but an American 
can ever know, really know, how good he is at the bot- 
tom, how good his "America" is. 

No Englishman can, and in less degree can any con- 
tinental, or in fact any one whose family was not living 
on, say, West 23rd Street in the old set-back, two-story- 
porched red brick vine-covered houses, etc., when Henry 
James was being a small boy on East 23rd Street; no 
one whose ancestors had not been presidents or profes- 
sors or founders of Ha'avwd College or something of 
that sort, or had not heard of a time when people lived 
on I4th Street, or had known of some one living in 
Lexington or Newton "Old Place" or somewhere of 
that sort in New England, or had heard of the New York 
that produced "Fanny," New York the jocular and un- 
critical, or of people who danced with General Grant 
or something of that sort, would quite know Washing- 
ton Square or The Europeans to be so autochthonous, 
so authentic to the conditions. They might believe the 
things to be "real," but they would not know how closely 
they corresponded to an external reality. 

Perhaps only an exile from these things will get the 
range of the other half of James's presentations! 
Europe to the Transpontine, New York of brown stone 
that he detested, the old and the new New York in 
Crapey Cornelia and in The American Scene, which 
more than any other volumes give us our peculiar heri- 



HENRY JAMES 117 

tage, an America with an interest, with a tone of time 
not overstrained, not jejunely over-sentimentalized, 
which is not a redoing of school histories or the laying 
out of a fabulous period; and which is in relief, if you 
like, from Dickens or from Mark Twain's Mississippi. 
He was not without sympathy for his compatriots as 
is amply attested by Mr. and Mrs. B. D. Hayes of New 
York (vide The Birthplace) with whom he succeeds, 
I think, rather better than with most of his princely con- 
tinentals. They are, at any rate, his bow to the Happy 
Genius of his country as distinct from the gentleman 
who displayed the "back of a banker and a patriot," or 
the person whose aggregate features could be designated 
only as a "mug." 

In his presentation of America he is greatly atten- 
tive, and, save for the people in Coeur Simple, I doubt 
if any writer has done more of "this sort of tning" for 
his country, this portrayal of the typical thing in timbre 
and quality balanced, of course, by the array of spit- 
toons in the Capitol ("The Point of View"). 

Still if one is seeking a Spiritual Fatherland, if one 
feels the exposure of what he would not have scrupled 
to call, two clauses later, such a wind-shield, "The 
American Scene" greatly provides it. It has a mermaid 
note, almost to outvie the warning, the sort of nickel- 
plate warning which is hurled at one in the saloon of 
any great transatlantic boat; the awfulness that engulfs 
one when one comes, for the first time unexpectedly on 
a pile of all the Murkhn Magazines laid, shingle-wise 
on a brass-studded, screwed-into-place, baize-covered 
steamer table. The first glitter of the national weapons 
for driving off quiet and all closer signs of intelligence.* 

* I differ, beyond that point, with our author. I enjoy ascent 
as much as I loathe descent in an elevator. I do not mind the 



ii8 INSTIGATIONS 

Attempting to view the jungle of the work as a whole, 
one notes that, despite whatever cosmopolitan upbringing 
Henry James may have had, as witness "A Small Boy's 
Memoirs" and "Notes of Son and Brother," he neverthe- 
less began in "French Poets and Novelists" with a pro- 
vincial attitude that it took him a long time to work free 
of. Secondly we see various phases of the "style" of 
his presentation or circumambiance. 

There is a small amount of prentice work. Let us say 
"Roderick Hudson," "Casamassima." There are lucky 
first steps in "The American" and "Europeans," a pre- 
cocity of result, for certainly some of his early work 
is as permanent as some of the ripest, and more so than 
a deal of the intervening. We find (for in the case be- 
fore us criticism must be in large part a weeding-out) 
that his first subject matter provides him with a number 
of good books and stories : "The American," "The Euro- 
peans," "Eugene Pickering," "Daisy Miller," "The Pu- 
pil," "Brooksmith," "A Bundle of Letters," "Washing- 
ton Square/' "The Portrait of a Lady," before 1880, and 
rather later, "Pandora," "The Four Meetings," perhaps 
"Louisa Pallant." He ran out of his first material. 

We next note a contact with the "Yellow Book," a dip 
into "cleverness," into the epigrammatic genre, the bare 
epigrammatic style. It was no better than other writers, 
not so successful as Wilde. We observe him to be not 
so hard and fine a satirist as is George S. Street. 

We come then to the period of allegories ("The Real 
Thing," "Dominick Ferrand," "The Liar"). There en- 
click of brass doors. I had indeed for my earliest toy, if I 
was not brought up in it, the rather slow and well-behaved 
elevator in a quiet and quietly bright huge sanatorium. The 
height of high buildings, the chasms of New York are delecta- 
ble; but this is beside the point; one is not asked to share the 
views and tastes of a writer. 



HENRY JAMES 119 

sues a growing discontent with the short sentence, epi- 
gram, etc., in which he does not at this time attain dis- 
tinction ; the clarity is not satisfactory, was not satisfac- 
tory to the author, his domie being radically different 
from that of his contemporaries. The "story" not be- 
ing really what he is after, he starts to build up his me- 
dium; a thickening, a chiaroscuro is needed, the long 
sentence; he wanders, seeks to add a needed opacity, 
he overdoes it, produces the cobwebby novel, emerges or 
justifies himself in "Maisie" and manages his long- 
sought form in "The Awkward Age." He comes out 
the triumphant stylist in the "American Scene" and in 
all the items of "The Finer Grain" collection and in the 
posthumous "Middle Years." 

This is not to damn incontinent all that intervenes, but 
I think the chief question addressed to me by people of 
good-will who do not, but are yet ready and willing to, 
read James, is: Where the deuce shall I begin? One 
cannot take even the twenty- four volumes, more or less 
selected volumes of the Macmillan edition all at once, 
and it is, alas, but too easy to get so started and entoiled 
as never to finish this author or even come to the best 
of him. 

The laziness of an uncritical period can be nowhere 
more blatant than in the inherited habit of talking about 
authors as a whole. It is perhaps the sediment from an 
age daft over great figures or a way of displaying social 
gush, the desire for a celebrity at all costs, rather than 
a care of letters. 

To talk in any other way demands an acquaintance 
with the work of an author, a price few conversation- 
alists care to pay, ma che! It is the man with inherited 
opinions who talks about "Shelley," making no distinc- 
tion between the author of the Fifth Act of "The Cenci" 



120 INSTIGATIONS 

and of the "Sensitive Plant." Not but what there may 
be a personal virtu in an author appraised, however, 
from the best of his work when, that is, it is correctly 
appraised. . People ask me what James to read. He is a 
very uneven author; not all of his collected edition has 
marks of permanence. 

One can but make one's own suggestion : 

'The American," "French Poets and Novelists," "The 
Europeans," "Daisy Miller," "Eugene Pickering," 
"Washington Square," "A Bundle of Letters," "Portrait 
of a Lady," "Pandora," "The Pupil," "Brooksmith," 
"What Maisie Knew," and "The Awkward Age" (if 
one is "doing it all"), "Europe," "Four Meetings," "The 
Ambassadors," "The American Scene," "The Finer 
Grain" (all the volume, i.e., "The Velvet Glove," "Mona 
Montravers," "Round of Visits," "Crapey Cornelia," 
"Bench of Desolation"), "The Middle Years" (post- 
humous) and "The Ivory Tower" (notes first). 

I "go easy" on the more cobwebby volumes; the most 
Jamesian are indubitably "The Wings of a Dove" and 
"The Golden Bowl"; upon them devotees will fasten, 
but the potential devotee may as well find his aptitude 
in the stories of "The Finer Grain" volume where cer- 
tain exquisite titillations will come to him as readily as 
anywhere else. If he is to bask in Jamesian tickle, noth- 
ing will restrain him and no other author will to any 
such extent afford him equal gratifications. 

If, however, the reader does not find delectation in 
the list given above, I think it fairly useless for him to 
embark on the rest. 

Part of James is a caviare, part I must reject accord- 
ing to my lights as bad writing; another part is a spe- 
cialite, a pleasure for certain temperaments only; the 
part I have set together above seems to me maintain- 



HENRY JAMES 121 

able as literature. One can definitely say : "this is good" ; 
hold the argumentative field, suffer comparison with 
other writers ; with, say, the De Goncourt, or De Mau- 
passant. I am not impertinently throwing books on the 
scrap-heap; there are certain valid objections to James; 
there are certain standards which one may believe in, and 
having stated them, one is free to state that any author 
does not comply with them; granting always that there 
may be other standards with which he complies, or over 
which he charmingly or brilliantly triumphs. 

James does not "feel" as solid as Flaubert; he does 
not give us "Everyman," but on the other hand, he was 
aware of things which Flaubert was not aware of, and 
in certain things supersedes the author of "Madame 
Bovary." 

He appears at times to write around and around a 
thing and not always to emerge from the "amorous plan" 
of what he wanted to present, into definite presentation. 

He does not seem to me at all times evenly skillful in 
catching the intonations of speech. He recalls the New 
England "a" in the "Lady's" small brothers "Ha-ard" 
(Haahr-d) but only if one is familiar with the phonetics 
described; but (vide the beginning of "The Birthplace") 
one is not convinced that he really knows (by any sure 
instinct) how people's voices would sound. Some re- 
marks are in key, some obviously factitious. 

He gives us more of his characters by description 
than he can by any attribution of conversation, save 
perhaps by the isolated and discreet remarks of Brook- 
smith. 

His emotional centre is in being sensitive to the feel 
of the place or to the tonality of the person. 

It is with his own so beautiful talk, his ability to hear 
his own voice in the rounded paragraph, that he is aptest 



122 INSTIGATIONS 

to charm one. I find it often though not universally 
hard to "hear" his characters speaking. I have noted 
various places where the character notably stops speak- 
ing and the author interpolates words of his own; sen- 
tences that no one but Henry James could in any cir- 
cumstances have made use of. Beyond which state- 
ments I see no great concision or any clarity to be gained 
by rearranging my perhaps too elliptical comments on 
individual books. 

Honest criticism, as I conceive it, cannot get much 
further than saying to one's reader exactly what one 
would say to the friend who approaches one's bookshelf 
asking: "What the deuce shall I read?" Beyond this 
there is the "parlor game," the polite essay, and there 
is the official pronouncement, with neither of which we 
are concerned. 

Of all exquisite writers James is the most colloquial, 
yet in the first edition of his "French Poets and Novel- 
ists," his style, save for a few scattered phrases, is so 
little unusual that most of the book seems, superficially, 
as if it might have been written by almost any one. It 
contains some surprising lapses ... as bad as any in 
Mr. Huefrer or even in Mr. Mencken. It is interesting 
largely in that it shows us what our subject had to 
escape from. 

Let us grant at once that his novels show him, all 
through his life, possessed of the worst possible taste 
in pictures, of an almost unpunctured ignorance of 
painting, of almost as great a lack of taste as that which 
he attributes to the hack-work and newspaper critiques 
of Theophile Gautier. Let us admit that "painting" to 
Henry James probably meant, to the end of his life, the 
worst possible late Renaissance conglomerations. 

Let us admit that in 1876, or whenever it was, his 



HENRY JAMES 123 

taste in poetry inclined to the swish of De Musset, that 
it very likely never got any further. By "poetry" he 
very possibly meant the "high-falutin" and he eschewed 
it in certain forms; himself taking still higher falutes 
in a to-be-developed mode of his own. 

I doubt if he ever wholly outgrew that conception of 
the (by him so often invoked) Daughters of Memory. 
He arrived truly at a point from which he could look 
back upon people who "besought the deep blue sea to 
roll." Poetry to him began, perhaps, fullfledged, spring- 
ing Minerva-like from the forehead of George Gordon, 
Lord Byron, and went pretty much to the bad in Charles 
Baudelaire ; it did not require much divination by 1914 
("The Middle Years") to note that he had found Tenny- 
son rather vacuous and that there "was something in" 
Browning. 

James was so thoroughly a recorder of people, of their 
atmospheres, society, personality, setting; so wholly the 
artist of this particular genre, that it was impossible for 
him ever to hold a critical opinion of art out of key with 
the opinion about him except possibly in so far as he 
might have ambitions for the novel, for his own partic- 
ular metier. His critical opinions were simply an ex- 
tension of his being in key with the nice people who 
"impressed" themselves on his gelatine "plate." (This 
is a theoretical generalization and must be taken cum 
grano.} 

We may, perhaps, take his adjectives on De Musset as 
a desperate attempt to do "justice" to a man with whom 
he knew it impossible for him to sympathize. There is, 
however, nothing to hinder our supposing that he saw 
in De Musset's "gush" something for him impossible 
and that he wished to acknowledge it. Side by side 



124 INSTIGATIONS 

with this are the shreds of Back Bay or Buffalo, the 
mid-week-prayer-meeting point of view. 

His most egregious slip is in the essay on Baudelaire, 
the sentence quoted by Hueffer.* Notwithstanding this, 
he does effectively put his nippers on Baudelaire's weak- 
ness : 

"A good way to embrace Baudelaire at a glance is to 
say that he was, in his treatment of evil, exactly what 
Hawthorne was not Hawthorne, who felt the thing at 
its source, deep in the human consciousness. Baude- 
laire's infinitely slighter volume of genius apart, he was 
a sort of Hawthorne reversed. It is the absence of 
this metaphysical quality in his treatment of his favorite 
subjects (Poe was his metaphysician, and his devotion 
sustained him through a translation of 'Eureka!') that 
exposes him to that class of accusations of which M. 
Edmond Scherer's accusation of feeding upon pourriture 
is an example ; and, in fact, in his pages we never know 
with what we are dealing. We encounter an inextricable 
confusion of sad emotions and vile things, and we are at 
a loss to know whether the subject pretends to appeal to 
our conscience or we were going to say to our olfac- 
tories. 'Le Mai?' we exclaim; 'you do yourself too much 
honor. This is not Evil ; it is not the wrong ; it is simply 
the nasty !' Our impatience is of the same order as that 
which we should feel if a poet, pretending to pluck 'the 
flowers of good/ should come and present us, as speci- 
mens, a rhapsody on plum-cake and eau de Cologne." 

Here as elsewhere his perception, apart from the read- 
ability of the work, is worthy of notice. 

* "For a poet to be realist is of course nonsense", and, as 
Hueffer says, such a sentence from such a source is enough to 
make one despair of human nature. 



HENRY JAMES 125 

Hueffer says * that James belauds Balzac. I cannot 
see it. I can but perceive Henry James wiping the floor 
with the author of "Eugenie Grandet," pointing out all 
his qualities, but almightily wiping the floor with him. 
He complains that Gautier is lacking in a concern about 
supernatural hocus-pocus and that Flaubert is lacking. 
If Balzac takes him to any great extent in, James with 
his inherited Swedenborgianism is perhaps thereby laid 
open to Balzac. 

It was natural that James should write more about 
the bulky author of "La Comedie Humaine" than about 
the others ; here was his richest quarry, here was there 
most to note and to emend and to apply so emended to 
processes of his own. From De Maupassant, De Gon- 
court or Baudelaire there was nothing for him to ac- 
quire. 

His dam'd fuss about furniture is foreshadowed in 
Balzac, and all the paragraphs on Balzac's house-fur- 
nishing propensities are of interest in proportion to our 
interest in, or our boredom with, this part of Henry 
James's work. 

What, indeed, could he have written of the De Gon- 
courts save that they were a little dull but tremendously 
right in their aim? Indeed, but for these almost auto- 
biographical details pointing to his growth out of Balzac, 
all James would seem but a corollary to one passage in a 
De Goncourt preface: 

"Le jour ou 1'analyse cruelle que mon ami, M. Zola, 
et peutetre moi-meme avons apportee dans la peinture 
du bas de la societe sera reprise par un ecrivain de talent, 
et employee a la reproduction des hommes et des femmes 
du monde, dans les milieux d'education et de distinction 
* Ford Madox Hueffer's volume on Henry James. 



126 INSTIGATIONS 

ce jour-la seulement le classicisme et sa queue seront 
tues. . . . 

"Le Realisme n'a pas en effet 1'unique mission de 
decrire ce qui est has, ce qui est repugnant. . . . 

"Nous avons commence, nous, par la canaille, parce 
que la femme et rhomme du peuple, plus rapproches de 
la nature et de la sauvagerie, sont des creatures simples 
et peu compliquees, tandis que le Parisien et la Parisienne 
de la societe, ces civilises excessifs, dont 1'originalite 
tranchee est f aite toute de nuances, toute de demi-teintes, 
toute de ces riens insaisissables, pareils aux riens coquets 
et neutres avec lesquels se fagonne le caractere d'une 
toilette distinguee de femme, demandent des annees pour 
qu'on les perce, pour qu'on les sache, pour qu'on les 
attrape et le romancier du plus grand genie, croyez- 
le bien, ne les devinera jamais ces gens de salon, avec 
les racontars d'amis qui vont pour lui a la decouverte 
dans le monde. . . . 

"Ce pro jet de roman qui devait se passer dans le 
grand monde, dans le monde le plus quintessencie, et 
dont nous rassemblions lentement et minutieusement les 
elements delicats et fugaces, je 1'abandonnais apres la 
mort de mon frere, convaincu de 1'impossibilite de le 
reussir tout seul." 

But this particular paragraph could have had little 
to do with the matter. "French Poets and Novelists" 
was published in '78 and Edmond De Goncourt signed 
the preface to "Les Freres Zemganno" in '79. The para- 
graphs quoted are interesting, however, as showing De 
Goncourt's state of mind in that year. He had prob- 
ably been preaching in this vein long before setting 
the words on paper, before getting them printed. 

If ever one man's career was foreshadowed in a few 



HENRY JAMES 127 

sentences of another, Henry James's is to be found in 
this paragraph. 

It is very much as if he said : I will not be a mega- 
therium botcher like Balzac; there is nothing to be said 
about these De Goncourts, but one must try to be rather 
more interesting than they are in, let us say, "Madame 
Gervaisais." * 

Proceeding with the volume of criticism, we find that 
"Le Jeune H." simply didn't "get" Flaubert; that he was 
much alive to the solid parts of Turgenev. He shows 
himself very apt, as we said above, to judge the merits 
of a novelist on the ground that the people portrayed 
by the said novelist are or are not suited to reception 
into the household of Henry James senior; whether, 
in short, Emma Bovary or Frederic or M. Arnoux would 
have spoiled the so delicate atmosphere, have juggled 
the so fine susceptibilities of a refined 23rd Street family 
at the time of the Philadelphia "Centennial." 

I find the book not so much a sign that Henry James 
was "disappointed," as Hueffer puts it, as that he was 
simply and horribly shocked by the literature of his con- 
tinental forebears and contemporaries. 

It is only when he gets to the Theatre Frangais that 
he finds something which really suits him. Here there 
is order, tradition, perhaps a slight fustiness (but a quite 
pardonable fustiness, an arranged and suitable fustiness 
having its recompense in a sort of spiritual quiet) ; here, 
at any rate, was something decorous, something not 
to be found in Concord or in Albany. And it is easy 
to imagine the young James, not illuminated by De 

* It is my personal feeling at the moment that La Fille Elisa 
is worth so much more than all Balzac that the things are as 
out of scale as a sapphire and a plum pudding, and that Elisa, 
despite the dull section, is worth most of James's writing. This 
is, however, aside from the question we are discussing. 



128 INSTIGATIONS 

Goncourt's possible conversation or writing, not even 
following the hint given in his essay on Balzac and 
Balzacian furniture, but sitting before Madame Nathalie 
in "Le Village" and resolving to be the Theatre FranQais 
of the novel. 

A resolution which he may be said to have carried out 
to the great enrichment of letters. 

II 

STRICTURES on the work of this period are no great 
detraction. "French Poets and Novelists" gives us a 
point from which to measure Henry James's advance. 
Genius showed itself partly in the escape from some of 
his original limitations, partly in acquirements. His art 
at length became "second nature," became perhaps half 
unconscious ; or in part wholly unconscious ; in other 
parts perhaps too highly conscious. At any rate in sun- 
nier circumstances he talked exactly as he wrote, the 
same elaborate paragraph beautifully attaining its cli- 
max; the^same sudden incision when a brief statement 
could dispose of a matter. 

Be it said for his style: he is seldom or never involved 
when a direct bald statement will accurately convey his 
own meaning, all of it. He is not usually, for all his 
wide leisure, verbose. He may be highly and bewilder- 
ingly figurative in his language (vide Mr. Hueffer's re- 
marks on this question). 

Style apart, I take it that the hatred of tyrannies was 
as great a motive as any we can ascribe to Galileo or 
Leonardo or to any other great figure, to any other mythic 
Prometheus ; for this driving force we may well overlook 
personal foibles, the early Bostonese bias, the heritage 
from his father's concern in commenting Swedenborg, 



HENRY JAMES 129 

the later fusses about social caution and conservation of 
furniture. Hueffer rather boasts about Henry James's 
innocence of the classics. It is nothing to brag of, even 
if a man struggling against natural medievalism have 
entrenched himself in impressionist theory. If James 
had read his classics, the better Latins especially, he 
would not have so excessively cobwebbed, fussed, blath- 
ered, worried about minor mundanities. We may con- 
spuer with all our vigor Henry James's concern with 
furniture, the Spoils of Poynton, connoisseurship, Mrs. 
Ward's tea-party atmosphere, the young Bostonian of 
the immature works. We may relegate these things men- 
tally to the same realm as the author's pyjamas and col- 
lar buttons, to his intellectual instead of his physical 
valeting. There remains the capacious intelligence, the 
searching analysis of things that cannot be so relegated 
to the scrap-heap and to the wash-basket. 

Let us say that English freedom legally ancj tradition- 
ally has its basis in property. Let us say, a la Balzac, 
that most modern existence is governed by, or at least 
interfered with by, the necessity to earn money; let us 
also say that a Frenchman is not an Englishman or a 
German or an American, and that despite the remark 
that the aristocracies of all people, the upper classes, are 
the same everywhere, racial differences are au fond dif- 
ferences ; they are likewise major subjects. 

Writing, as I am, for the reader of good-will, for the 
bewildered person who wants to know where to begin, 
I need not apologize for the following elliptical notes. 
James, in his prefaces, has written explanation to deatti 
(with sometimes a very pleasant necrography). Leav- 
ing the "French Poets and Novelists," I take the novels 
and stones as nearly as possible in their order of publi- 



J 3 o INSTIGATIONS 

cation (as distinct from their order as rearranged and 
partially weeded out m the collected edition). 

1875. (U. S. A.) "A Passionate Pilgrim and other 
Tales." "Eugene Pickering" is the best of this lot and 
most indicative of the future James. Contains also the 
title story and "Madame de Mauves." Other stories 
inferior. 

1876. (U. S. A.) "Roderick Hudson," prentice work. 
First novel not up to the level of "Pickering." 

1877. "The American"; essential James, part of the 
permanent work. "Watch and Ward," discarded by the 
author. 

1878. "French Poets and Novelists," already dis- 
cussed. 

1878. "Daisy Miller." (The big hit and one of his 
best.) "An International Episode," "Four Meetings," 
good work. 

1870. Short stories first printed in England with 
additions, but no important ones. 

1880. "Confidence," not important. 

1881. "Washington Square," one of his best, "putting 
America on the map," giving us a real past, a real back- 
ground. "Pension Beaurepas" and "Bundle of Letters," 
especially the girls' letters, excellent, already mentioned. 

1881. "The Portrait of a Lady," one of his best. 
Charming Venetian preface in the collected edition. 

1884. "Tales of Three Cities," stories dropped from 
the collected edition, save "Lady Barbarina." 

1884. "Lady Barbarina," a study in English blank- 
ness comparable to that exposed in the letters of the 
English young lady in "A Bundle of Letters." There 
is also New York of the period. "But if there was one 
thing Lady Barb disliked more than another it was de- 
scribing Pasterns. She had always lived with people 



HENRY JAMES 131 

who knew of themselves what such a place would be, 
without demanding these pictorial effects, proper only, 
as she vaguely felt, to persons belonging to the classes 
whose trade was the arts of expression. Lady Barb of 
course had never gone into it; but she knew that in her 
own class the business was not to express but to enjoy, 
not to represent but to be represented." 

"Mrs. Lemon's recognition of this river, I should say, 
was all it need have been ; she held the Hudson existed 
for the purpose of supplying New Yorkers with poetical 
feelings, helping them to face comfortably occasions like 
the present, and in general, meet foreigners with confi- 
dence. . . ." 

"He believed, or tried to believe, the salon now pos- 
sible in New York on condition of its being reserved en- 
tirely for adults ; and in having taken a wife out of a 
country in which social traditions were rich and ancient 
he had done something toward qualifying his own house 
so splendidly qualified in all strictly material respects . . . 
to be the scene of such an effort. A charming woman 
accustomed only to the best on each side, as Lady Beau- 
chemin said, what mightn't she achieve by being at home 
always to adults only in an easy early inspiring com- 
prehensive way and on the evening of the seven, when 
worldly engagements were least numerous ? He laid this 
philosophy before Lady Barb in pursuance of a theory 
that if she disliked New York on a short acquaintance 
she couldn't fail to like it on a long. Jackson believed 

the New York mind not so much indeed in its lit- 
ry, artistic, philosophic or political achievements as 
in its general quickness and nascent adaptability. He 
clung to this belief, for it was an indispensable neat block 
in the structure he was attempting to rear. The New 
York mind would throw its glamour over Lady Barb if 



:;, 



J32 INSTIGATIONS 

she would only give it a chance; for it was thoroughly 
bright, responsive and sympathetic. If she would only 
set up by the turn of her hand a blest social centre, a 
temple of interesting talk in which this charming organ 
might expand and where she might inhale its fragrance 
in the most convenient and luxurious way, without, as it 
was, getting up from her chair; if she would only just 
try this graceful good-natured experiment which would 
make every one like her so much too he was sure all 
the wrinkles in the gilded scroll of his fate would be 
smoothed out. But Lady Barb didn't rise at all to his 
conception and hadn't the least curiosity about the New 
York mind. She thought it would be extremely disagree- 
able to have a lot of people tumbling in on Sunday eve- 
ning without being invited, and altogether her husband's 
sketch of the Anglo-American salon seemed to her to 
suggest crude familiarity, high vociferation she had al- 
ready made a remark to him about 'screeching women' 
and random extravagant laughter. She didn't tell him 
for this somehow it wasn't in her power to express 
and, strangely enough, he never completely guessed it 
that she was singularly deficient in any natural, or in- 
deed, acquired understanding of what a salon might be. 
She had never seen or dreamed of one and for the 
most part was incapable of imagining a thing she hadn't 
seen. She had seen great dinners and balls and meets 
and runs and races ; she had seen garden-parties and 
bunches of people, mainly women who, however, didn't 
screech at dull stuffy teas, and distinguished companies 
collected in splendid castles ; but all this gave her no clew 
to a train of conversation, to any idea of a social agree- 
ment that the interest of talk, its continuity, its accu- 
mulations from season to season shouldn't be lost. Con- 
versation, in Lady Barb's experience, had never been 



HENRY JAMES 133 

continuous ; in such a case it would surely have been a 
bore. It had been occasional and fragmentary, a trifle 
jerky, with allusions that were never explained; it had 
a dread of detail it seldom pursued anything very far 
or kept hold of it very long." 

1885. "Stories Revived," adding to earlier tales "The 
Author of Beltraffio," which opens with excess of the 
treading-on-eggs manner, too much to be borne for twen- 
ty-four volumes. The pretense of extent of "people" in- 
terested in art and letters, sic : "It was the most complete 
presentation that had yet been made of the gospel of art ; 
it was a kind of aesthetic war cry. 'People' had endeav- 
ored to sail nearer 'to truth/ etc." 

He implies too much of art smeared on limited multi- 
tudes. One wonders if the eighties did in any great 
aggregate gush up to this extent. Doesn't he try to 
spread the special case out too wide? 

The thinking is magnificently done from this passage 
up to page sixteen or twenty, stated with great concision. 
Compare it with "Madame Gervaisais" and we find 
Henry James much more interesting when on the upper 
reaches. Compare his expressiveness, the expressiveness 
of his indirectness with that of constatation. The two 
methods are curiously mixed in the opening of "Beltraf- 
fio." Such sentences as (page 30) "He said the most 
interesting and inspiring things" are, however, pure 
waste, pure "leaving the thing undone," unconcrete, un- 
imagined ; just simply bad writing or bad novelisting. 
As for his special case he does say a deal about the au- 
thor or express a deal by him, but one is bothered by the 
fact that Pater, Burton, Hardy, Meredith were not, in 
mere history, bundled into one : that Burton had been to 
the East and the others had not ; that no English novel- 
ist of that era would have taken the least notice of any- 



i 3 4 INSTIGATIONS 

thing going on in foreign countries, presumably Euro- 
pean, as does the supreme author of "Beltraffio." 

Doubtless he is in many ways the author Henry James 
would have liked to meet and more illustrative of certain 
English tones and limitations than any historical portrait 
might have been. Still Henry James does lay it on ... 
more, I think, than the story absolutely requires. In 
"Beltraffio" he certainly does present (not that he does 
not comment to advantage) the two damn'd women ap- 
pended to the gentlemanly hero of the tale. The most 
violent post-Strindbergian school would perhaps have 
called them bitches tout bonnement, but this word did 
not belong to Henry James's vocabulary and besides it 
is of too great an indistinctness. Author, same "bloody" 
(in the English sense) author with his passion for 
"form" appears in "Lesson of Master," and most of H. 
J.'s stories of literary milieux. Perpetual Grandisonism 
or Grandisonizing of this author with the passion for 
form, all of 'em have it. Ma che! There is, however, 
great intensity in these same "be-deared" and be-"poor- 
old"-ed pages. He has really got a main theme, a great 
theme, he chooses to do it in silver point rather than in 
the garish colors of, well, of Cherbuliez, or the terms 
of a religious maniac with three-foot long carving knife. 
Novel of the gilded pill, an aesthetic or artistic message, 
dogma, no better than a moral or ethic one, novel a 
cumbrous camouflage substitute not for "that parlor 
game" * the polite essay, but for the impolite essay or 
conveyance of ideas ; novel to do this should completely 
incarnate the abstraction. 

Finish of "Beltraffio" not perhaps up to the rest of it. 
Not that one at all knows how else . . . 
*T. S. Eliot. 



HENRY JAMES 135 

Gush on page 42 * from both conversationalists. Still 
an adumbration of the search for the just word emerges 
on pages 43-44, real cut at barbarism and bigotry on the 
bottom of page 45 (of course not labeled by these mon- 
strous and rhetorical brands, scorched on to their hides 
and rump sides). "Will it be a sin to make the most 
of that one too, so bad for the dear old novel?" Butler 
and James on the same side really chucking out the 
fake; Butler focused on Church of England; opposed 
to him the fakers booming the Bible "as literature" in a 
sort of last stand, a last ditch; seeing it pretty well had 
to go as history, cosmogony, etc., or the old tribal Daddy- 
slap-'em-with-slab of the Jews as anything like an 
ideal : 

"He told me more about his wife before we arrived 
at the gate of home, and if he be judged to have aired 
overmuch his grievance I'm afraid I must admit that he 
had some of the foibles as well as the gifts of the artistic 
temperament ; adding, however, instantly that hitherto, to 
the best of my belief, he had rarely let this particular 
cat out of the bag. 'She thinks me immoral that's the 
long and short of it,' he said, as we paused outside a 
moment and his hand rested on one of the bars of his 
gate ; while his conscious, expressive, perceptive eyes 
the eyes of a foreigner, I had begun to account them, 
much more than of the usual Englishman viewing me 
now evidently as quite a familiar friend, took part in 
the declaration. 'It's very strange when one thinks it 
all over, and there's a grand comicality in it that I should 
like to bring out. She's a very nice woman, extraordi- 
narily well-behaved, upright and clever and with a tre- 
mendous lot of good sense about a good many matters. 
Yet her conception of a novel she has explained it to 
* Page numbers in Collected Edition. 



F36 INSTIGATIONS 

me once or twice, and she doesn't do it badly as exposi- 
tion is a thing so false that it makes me blush. It's a 
thing so hollow, so dishonest, so lying, in which life is 
so blinked and blinded, so dodged and disfigured, that it 
makes my ears burn. It's two different ways of looking 
at the whole affair,' he repeated, pushing open the gate. 
'And they're irreconcilable !' he added with a sigh. We 
went forward to the house, but on the walk, halfway 
to the door, he stopped and said to me : 'If you're going 
into this kind of thing there's a fact you should know 
beforehand ; it may save you some disappointment. 
There's a hatred of art, there's a hatred of literature I 
mean of the genuine kinds. Oh, the shams those they'll 
swallow by the bucket !' I looked up at the charm- 
ing house, with its genial color and crookedness, and I 
answered with a smile that those evil passions might 
exist, but that I should never have expected to find, 
them there. 'Ah, it doesn't matter, after all/ he a bit 
nervously laughed ; which I was glad to hear, for I was 
reproaching myself with having worked him up." 

Really literature in the XlXth and the beginning of 
the XXth centuries is where science was in the days of 
Galileo and the Inquisition. Henry James not blinking 
it, neither can we. "Poor dears" and "dear olds" always 
a little too plentiful. 

1885. (continued) "Pandora," of the best. Let it 
pass as a sop to America's virginal charm; as counter- 
weight to "Daisy Miller," or to the lady of "The Por- 
trait." Henry James alert to the German. 

"The process of enquiry had already begun for him, 
in spite of his having as yet spoken to none of his fellow 
passengers; the case being that Vogelstein enquired not 
only with his tongue, but with his eyes that is with his 
spectacles with his ears, with his nose, with his palate, 



IIFA'RV JAMES 137 

with all his senses and organs. He was a highly upright 
young man, whose only fault was that his sense of 
comedy, or of the humor of things, had never ,been spe- 
cifically disengaged from his several other senses. He 
vaguely felt that something should be done about this, 
and in a general manner proposed to do it, for he was on 
his way to explore a society abounding in comic aspects. 
This consciousness of a missing measure gave him a 
certain mistrust of what might be said of him; and if 
circumspection is the essence of diplomacy our young 
aspirant promised well. His mind contained several 
millions of facts, packed too closely together for the light 
breeze of the imagination to draw through the mass. 
He was impatient to report himself to his superior in 
Washington, and the loss of time in an English port 
could only incommode him, inasmuch as the study of 
English institutions was no part of his mission. On the 
other hand the day was charming; the blue sea, in 
Southampton Water, pricked all over with light, had no 
movement but that of its infinite shimmer. Moreover, 
he was by no means sure that he should be happy in the 
United States, where doubtless he should find himself 
soon enough disembarked. He knew that this was not 
an important question and that happiness was an un- 
scientific term, such as a man of his education should be 
ashamed to use even in the silence of his thoughts. 
Lost none the less in the inconsiderate crowd and feeling 
himself neither in his own country nor in that to which 
he was in a manner accredited, he was reduced to his 
mere personality; so that during the hour, to save his 
importance, he cultivated such ground as lay in sight 
for a judgment of this delay to which the German 
steamer was subjected in English waters. Mightn't it 
be proved, facts, figures and documents or at least 



138 INSTIGATIONS 

watch in hand, considerably greater than the occasion 
demanded ? 

"Count Vogelstein was still young enough in diplomacy 
to think it necessary to have opinions. He had a good 
many, indeed, which had been formed without difficulty; 
they had been received ready-made from a line of an- 
cestors who knew what they liked. This was of course 
and under pressure, being candid, he would have ad- 
mitted it an unscientific way of furnishing one's mind. 
Our young man was a stiff conservative, a Junker of 
Junkers; he thought modern democracy a temporary 
phase and expected to find many arguments against it in 
the great Republic. In regard to these things it was a 
pleasure to him to feel that, with his complete training, 
he had been taught thoroughly to appreciate the nature 
of evidence. The ship was heavily laden with German 
emigrants, whose mission in the United States differed 
considerably from Count Otto's. They hung over the 
bulwarks, densely grouped; they leaned forward on 
their elbows fo'r hours, their shoulders kept on a level 
with their ears: the men in furred caps, smoking long- 
bowled pipes, the women with babies hidden in remark- 
ably ugly shawls. Some were yellow Germans and some 
were black, and all looked greasy and matted with the 
sea-damp. They were destined to swell still further 
the huge current of the Western democracy; and Count 
Vogelstein doubtless said to himself that they wouldn't 
improve its quality. Their numbers, however, were 
striking, and I know not what he thought of the nature 
of this particular evidence." 

For further style in vignette : 

"He could see for himself that Mr. and Mrs. Day had 
not at all her grand air. They were fat plain serious 



HENRY JAMES 139 

people who sat side by side on the deck for hours and 
looked straight before them. Mrs. Day had a white 
face, large cheeks and small eyes ; her forehead was sur- 
rounded with a multitude of little tight black curls; her 
lips moved as if she had always a lozenge in her mouth. 
She wore entwined about her head an article which Mrs. 
Dangerfield spoke of as a 'nuby,' a knitted pink scarf 
concealing her hair, encircling her neck and having 
among its convolutions a hole for her perfectly expres- 
sionless face. Her hands were folded on her stomach, 
and in her still, swathed figure her bead-like eyes, which 
occasionally changed their direction, alone represented 
life. Her husband had a stiff gray beard on his chin 
and a bare spacious upper lip, to which constant shaving 
had imparted a hard glaze. His eyebrows were thick 
and his nostrils wide, and when he was uncovered, in 
the saloon, it was visible that his grizzled hair was dense 
and perpendicular. He might have looked rather grim 
and truculent hadn't it been for the mild familiar ac- 
commodating gaze with which his large light-colored 
pupils the leisurely eyes of a silent man appeared to 
consider surrounding objects. He was evidently more 
friendly than fierce, but he was more diffident than 
friendly. He liked to have you in sight, but wouldn't 
have pretended to understand you much or to classify 
you, and would have been sorry it should put you under 
an obligation. He and his wife spoke sometimes, but 
seldom talked, and there was something vague and pa- 
tient about them as if they had become victims of a 
wrought spell. The spell, however, was of no sinister 
cast; it was the fascination of prosperity, the confidence 
of security, which sometimes makes people arrogant, 
but which had had such a different effect on this simple 



140 INSTIGATIONS 

satisfied pair, in whom further development of every 
kind appeared to have been happily arrested." 

Pandora's approach to her parents : 

"These little offices were usually performed deftly, 
rapidly, with the minimum of words, and when their 
daughter drew near them, Mr. and Mrs. Day closed their 
eyes after the fashion of a pair of household dogs who 
expect to be scratched." 

The tale is another synthesis of some of the million 
reasons why Germany will never conquer the world, why 
the Hun is impossible, why ''boche'' is merely "bursch. " 
The imbecility of a certain Wellsian journalist in treat- 
ing this gem is again proof that it is written for the 
relatively-developed American, not for the island 
ecaillere. If Henry James, as Ford Madox Hueffer 
says, set out to civilize the United States, it is at least 
an easier job than raising British Suburbia to a bearable 
level. From that milieu at least we have nothing of 
value to learn ; we shall not take our tonality from that 
niveau. 

In describing "Pandora's" success as ''purely personal," 
Henry James has hit on the secret of the Quattrocento, 
1450 to 1550, the vital part of the Renaissance. Aris- 
tocracy decays when it ceases to be selective, when the 
basis of selection is not personal. It is a critical acute- 
ness, not a snobbism, which last is selection on some 
other principle than that of a personal quality. It is 
servility to rule-of-thumb criteria, and a dullness of per- 
ception, a timidity in acceptance. The whole force of 
the Renaissance was in the personality of its selection. 

There is no faking the amount of perceptive energy 
concentrated in Henry James's vignettes in such phrases 



HENRY JAMES 141 

as that on the parents like domestic dogs waiting to be 
scratched, or in the ten thousand phrases of this sort 
which abound in his writings. If we were back in the 
time of Bruyere, we could easily make a whole book of 
"Characters" from Henry James's vignettes.* The 
vein holds from beginning to end of his work; from 
this writing of the eighties to "The Ivory Tower." As 
for example, Gussie Braddon: 

"Rosanna waited facing her, noting her extraordinary 
perfection of neatness, of elegancej of arrangement, of 
which it couldn't be said whether they most handed over 
to you, as on some polished salver, the clear truth of her 
essential commonness or transposed it into an element 
that could please, that could even fascinate, as a supreme 
attestation of care. 'Take her as an advertisement of all 
the latest knowledges of how to "treat" every inch of 
the human surface and where to "get" every scrap of 
the personal envelope, so far as she is enveloped, and 
she does achieve an effect sublime in itself and thereby 
absolute in a wavering world/ " 

We note no inconsiderable progress in the actual writ- 
ing, in maestria, when we reach the ultimate volumes. 

1886. "Bostonians." Other stories in this collection\ 
mostly rejected from collected edition. 

"Princess Casamassima," inferior continuation of 
"Roderick Hudson." His original subject matter is be- 
ginning to go thin. 

* Since writing the above I find that some such compilation 
has been attempted ; had indeed been planned by the anthologist, 
and, in plan, approved by H. J. : "Pictures and Passages from 
Henry James" selected by Ruth Head (Chatto and Windus, 
1916), if not exactly the book to convince the rising generation 
of H. J.'s powers of survival, is at any rate a most charming 
tribute to our subject from one who had begun to read him 
in "the eighties". 



142 INSTIGATIONS 

1888. "The Reverberator," process of fantasia begin- 
ning. 

Fantasia of Americans vs. the "old aristocracy." "The 
American" with the sexes reversed. Possibly the theme 
shows as well in "Les Transatlantiques," the two meth- 
ods, give one at least a certain pleasure of contrast. 

1888. "Aspern Papers," inferior. "Louisa Pallant," a 
study in the maternal or abysmal relation, good James. 
"Modern Warning," rejected from collected edition. 

1889. "A London Life." "The Patagonia." 

"The Patagonia," not a masterpiece. Slow in opening, 
excellent in parts, but the sense of the finale intrudes all 
along. It seems true but there is no alternative ending. 
One doubts whether a story is really constructed with 
any mastery when the end, for the purpose of making it 
a story, is so unescapable. The effect of reality is pro- 
duced, of course, by the reality of the people in the 
opening scene ; there is no doubt about that part being 
"to the life." 

"The Liar" is superb in its way, perhaps the best of the 
allegories, of the plots invented purely to be an expo- 
sition of impression. It is magnificent in its presenta- 
tion of the people, both the old man and the Liar, who is 
masterly. 

"Mrs. Temperly" is another such excellent delineation 
and shows James as an excellent hater, but G. S. Street 
expresses a concentration of annoyance with a greater 
polish and suavity in method ; and neither explains, 
theorizes, nor comments. 

James never has De Maupassant's reality. His 
(H. J.'s) people almost always convince, i.e., we believe 
implicitly that they exist. We also think that Henry 
James has made up some sort of story as an excuse for 
writing his impression of the people. 



HENRY JAMES 143 

One sees the slight vacancy of the stories of this 
period, the short clear sentence, the dallying with jeu 
d'esprit, with epigram no better than, though not inferior 
to, the run of epigram in the nineties. It all explains 
James's need of opacity, his reaching out for a chiaro- 
scuro to distinguish himself from his contemporaries and 
in which he could put the whole of his much more com- 
plex apperception. 

Then comes, roughly, the period of cobwebs and of 
excessive cobwebs and of furniture, finally justified in 
"The Finer Grain." a book of tales with no mis-fire, and 
the style so vindicated in the triumphs of the various 
books of Memoirs and "The American Scene." 

Fantasias : "Dominic Ferrand," "Nona Vincent" (tales 
obviously aimed at the "Yellow Book," but seem to have 
missed it. a detour in James's career). All artists who 
discover anything make such detours and must, in the 
course of things (as in the cobwebs), push certain ex- 
periments beyond the right curve of their art. This is 
not so much the doom as the function of all "revolu- 
tionary" or experimental art, and I think masterwork 
is usually the result of the return from such excess. 
One does not know, simply does not know, the true curve 
until one has pushed one's method beyond it. Until then 
it is merely a frontier, not a chosen route. It is an 
open question, and there is no dogmatic answer, whether 
an artist should write and rewrite the same story (a la 
Flaubert) or whether he should take a new canvas. 

"The Papers," a fantasia, diverting; "The Birthplace," 
fairy-godmother element mentioned above, excellent. 
"Edmund Orme," inferior; "Yellow Book" tale, not ac- 
cepted by that periodical. 

1889-1893. Period of this entoilment in the "Yellow 



144 INSTIGATIONS 

Book," short sentences, the epigrammatic. He reacts 
from this into the allegorical. In general the work of 
this period is not up to the mark. "The Chaperon," "The 
Real Thing," fantasias of "wit." By fantasias I mean 
sketches in which the people are "real" or convince one 
of their verity, but where the story is utterly unconvinc- 
ing, is not intended to convince, is merely a sort of exag- 
geration of the fitting situation or the situation which 
ought to result in order to display some type at its apo- 
gee. "The Real Thing" rather better than other stories 
in this volume. 

Thus the lady and gentleman model in "The Real 
Thing." London society is finely ladled in "The Chape- 
ron," which is almost as a story, romanticism. 

"Greville Fane" is a scandalous photograph from the 
life about which the great blagueur scandalously lies in 
his preface (collected edition). I have been too diverted 
comparing it with an original to give a sane view of 
its art. 

1890. "The Tragic Muse," uneven, full of good 
things but showing Henry James in the didactic role a 
little too openly. He preaches, he also displays fine per- 
ception of the parochialism of the British political ca- 
reer. It is a readable novel with tracts interpolated. 
(Excellent and commendable tracts arguing certainly for 
the right thing, enjoyable, etc.) Excellent text-book for 
young men with ambitions, etc. 

1892. "Lesson of the Master" (cobweb). "The Pu- 
pil," a masterpiece, one of his best and keenest studies. 
"Brooksmith" of the best. 

1893. 'The Private Life." Title story, waste verbiage 
at the start, ridiculous to put all this camouflage over 
something au fond merely an idea. Not life, not peo- 
ple, allegory, dated to "Yellow Book" era. Won't hold 



HENRY JAMES 145 

against "Candide." H. J.'s tilting against the vacuity of 
the public figure is, naturally, pleasing, i. e., it is pleasing 
that he should tilt, but the amusement partakes of the 
nature of seeing cocoanuts hurled at an aunt sally. 

There are other stories, good enough to be carried by 
H. J.'s best work, not detrimental, but not enough to have 
"made him": "Europe" (Hawthorny), "Paste," "The 
Middle Years," "Broken Wings," etc. Part of the great 
man's work can perhaps only be criticized as "etc." 

1895. "Terminations, Coxon Fund," perhaps best of 
this lot, a disquisition, but entertaining, perhaps the germ 
of Galsworthy to be found in it (to no glory of either 
author) as perhaps a residuum of Dickens in Maisie's 
Mrs. Wix. Verbalism, but delightful verbalism in 
Coxon affair, sic: 

"Already, at hungry twenty-six, Gravener looked as 
blank and parliamentary as if he were fifty and popular/' 

or 

"a deeply wronged, justly resentful, quite irreproach- 
able and insufferable person" 

or (for the whole type) 

"put such ignorance into her cleverness ?" 

Miss Anvoy's echo concerning "a crystal" is excel- 
lently introduced, but is possibly in the nature of a sleight 
of hand trick (contemporary with "Lady Windemere's 
Fan"). Does H. J.'s "politics" remind one of Dizzy's 
scribbling, just a little? "Confidence, under the new 
Ministry, was understood to be reviving," etc. 

Perhaps one covers the ground by saying that the 
James of this period is "light literature," entertaining if 
one have nothing better to do. Neither "Terminations" 
nor (1896) "Embarrassments" would have founded a 
reputation. 

1896-97. Improvement through "Other House" and 



146 INSTIGATIONS 

"Spoils of Poynton." I leave the appreciation of these, 
to me, detestable works to Mr. HuefFer. They seem to 
me full of a good deal of needless fuss, though I do not 
mean to deny any art that may be in them. 

1897. The emergence in "What Maisie Knew." Prob- 
lem of the adolescent female. Carried on in : 

1899. "The Awkward Age," fairy godmother and spot- 
less lamb and all the rest of it. Only real thing the im- 
pression of people, not observation or real knowledge. 
Action only to give reader the tone, symbolizing the tone 
of the people. Opening tour de force, a study in punks, 
a cheese souffle of the leprous crust of society done to 
a turn and a niceness save where he puts on the dulcis- 
simo, vox huniana, stop. James was the dispassionate 
observer. He started with the moral obsession ; before 
he had worked clear of it he was entoiled in the ob- 
session of social tone. He has pages of clear depiction, 
even of satire, but the sentimentalist is always lurking 
just round the corner. This softens his edges. He has 
not the clear hardness, the cold satiric justness that 
G. S. Street has displayed in treating situations, certain 
struggles between certain idiocies and certain vulgarities. 
This book is a specialite of local interest. It is an etude 
in ephemera. If it contained any revelation in 1899, it 
no longer contains it. His characters are reduced to 
the status of voyeurs, elaborate analysis of the much too 
special cases, a bundle of swine and asses who cannot 
mind their own business, who do not know enough to 
mind their own business. James's lamentable lack of 
the classics is perhaps responsible for his absorption in 
bagatelles. ... He has no real series of backgrounds of 
moeurs du passe, only the "sweet dim faded lavender" 
tune and in opposition to modernity, plush nickel-plated, 
to the disparagement, naturally, of the latter. 



HENRY JAMES M; 

Kipling's "Bigod, now-I-know-all-about-this manner," 
is an annoyance, but one wonders if parts of Kipling 
by the sheer force of content, of tale to tell, will not 
outlast most of James's cobwebs. There is no substitute 
for narrative-sense, however many different and en- 
trancing charms may be spread before us. 

"The Awkward Age" might have been done, from one 
point of view, as satire, in one- fourth the space. On the 
other hand, James does give us the subtly graded atmos- ' 
pheres of his different houses most excellently. And 
indeed, this may be regarded as his subject. 

If one were advocate instead of critic, one would 
definitely claim that these atmospheres, nuances, im- 
pressions of personal tone and quality are his subject; 
that in these he gets certain things that almost no one 
else had done before him. These timbres and tonalities 
are his stronghold, he is ignorant of nearly everything 
else. It is all very well to say that modern life is largely 
made up of velleities, atmospheres, timbres, nuances, etc., 
but if people really spent as much time fussing, to the 
extent of the Jamesian fuss about such normal trifling, 
age-old affairs, as slight inclinations to adultery, slight 
disinclinations to marry, to refrain from marrying, etc., 
etc., life would scarcely be worth the bother of keeping 
on with it. It is also contendable that one must depict 
such mush in order to abolish it.* 

*Most good prose arises, perhaps, from an instinct of nega- 
tion ; is the detailed, convincing analysis of something detesta- 
ble; of something which one wants to eliminate. Poetry is the 
assertion of a positive, i. e. t of desire, and endures for a longer 
period. Poetic satire is only an assertion of this positive, in- 
versely, i. e., as of an opposite hatred. 

This is a highly untechnical, unimpressionist, in fact almost 
theological manner of statement; but is perhaps the root differ- 
ence between the two arts of literature. 

Most good poetry asserts something to be worth while, or 



148 INSTIGATIONS 

The main feeling in "The Awkward Age" is satiric. 
The dashes of sentiment do not help the work as liter- 
ature. The acute observer is often referred to: 

Page 131. "The ingenious observer just now sug- 
gested might even have detected . . ." 

Page 133. "And it might have been apparent still to 
our sharp spectator . . ." 

Page 310. "But the acute observer we are constantly 
taking for granted would perhaps have detected . . ." 

Page 323. "A supposititious spectator would cer- 
tainly have imagined . . ." (This also occurs in "Ivory 
Tower." Page 196.) 

This scrutinous person wastes a great deal of time in 
pretending to conceal his contempt for Mrs. Brook, 
Vanderbank, the other punks, and lays it on so thick 
when presenting his old sentimentalist Longdon, who 
at the one critical moment behaves with a stupidity, 

damns a contrary; at any rate asserts emotional values. The 
best prose is, has been a presentation (complicated and elabo- 
rate as you like) of circumstances, of conditions, for the most 
part abominable, or at the mildest, amendable. This assertion 
of the more or less objectionable only becomes doctrinaire and 
rotten art when the narrator mis-states from dogmatic bias, 
and when he suggests some quack remedy (prohibition, Chris- 
tianity, social theory of one sort or another), the only cure 
being that humanity should display more intelligence and good- 
will than humanity is capable of displaying. 

Poetry Emotional synthesis, quite as real, quite as realist 
as any prose (or intellectual) analysis. 

Neither prose nor drama can attain poetic intensity save by 
construction, almost by scenario ; by so arranging the circum- 
stance that some perfectly simple speech, perception, dogmatic 
statement appears in abnormal vigor. Thus when Frederic in 
L'Education observes Mme. Arnoux's shoe-laces as she is de- 
scending the stair ; or in Turgenev the statement, quotation of a 
Russian proverb about the "heart of another", or "Nothing but 
death is irrevocable" toward the end of Nichte de Gentils- 
hommes. 



HENRY JAMES 149 

with a lack of delicacy, since we are dealing with these 
refinements. Of course neither this stupidity of his 
action nor the tone of the other characters has anything 
to do with the question of mae stria, if they were dis- 
passionately or impartially rendered. The book is weak 
because all through it James is so manifestly carrying 
on a long tensone so fiercely and loudly, a long argument 
for the old lavender. There is also the constant impli- 
cation that Vanderbank ought to want Nanda, though 
why the devil he should be supposed to be even mildly 
under this obligation, is not made clear. A basis in 
the classics, castor oil, even Stevenson's "Virginibus 
Pnerisqne" might have helped matters. One's complaint 
is not that people of this sort don't exist, that they aren't 
like everything else a subject for literature, but that 
James doesn't anywhere in the book get down to bed- 
rock. It is too much as if he were depicting stage 
scenery not as stage scenery, but as nature. 

All this critique is very possibly an exaggeration. 
Take it at half its strength ; I do not intend to defend it. 

Epigrammatic manner in opening, compare Kipling; 
compare De Maupassant, superb ideas, verity, fantasia, 
fantasia group, reality, charming stories, poppycock. 
"Yellow Book" touches in "The Real Thing," general 
statements about their souls, near to bad writing, per- 
fectly lucid. 

"Nona Vincent," he writes like an adolescent, might 
be a person of eighteen doing first story. 

Page 201. "Public interest in spiritual life of the 
army." ("The Real Thing.") 

Page 201. German Invasion. 

Loathsome prigs, stiff conventions, editor of cheap 
magazines ladled in Sir Wots-his-name. 

1893. I" the interim he had brought out "In the 



150 INSTIGATIONS 

Cage/' excellent opening sentence, matter too much 
talked around and around, and "The Two Magics." This 
last a Freudian affair which seems to me to have attract- 
ed undue interest, i.e., interest out of proportion to the 
importance as literature and as part of Henry James's 
own work, because of this subject matter. The obscen- 
ity of "The Turn of the Screw" has given it undue prom- 
inence. People now "drawn" to obscene as were people 
of Milton's period by an equally disgusting bigotry; one 
unconscious on author's part ; the other, a surgical treat- 
ment of a disease. Thus much for progress on part of 
authors if public has not progressed. The point of my 
remarks is that an extraneous criterion comes in. One 
must keep to the question of literature, not of irrelevan- 
cies. Galdos' "Lo Prohibido" does Freud long before the 
sex crank got to it. Kipling really does the psychic, 
ghosts, etc., to say nothing of his having the "sense of 
story." 

1900. "The Soft Side," collection containing: "The 
Abasement of the Northmores," good; again the motif 
of the vacuity of the public man, the "figure"; he has 
tried it a^ain in "The Private Life/' which, however, falls 
into the allegorical. A rotten fall it is too, and Henry 
James at his worst in it, i.e., the allegorical. "Fordham's 
Castle" appears in the collected edition only it may be- 
long to this period but is probably earlier, comedietta, 
excellently, perhaps flawlessly done. Here, as so often, 
the circumstances are mostly a description of the char- 
acter of the personal tone of the "sitters" ; for his people 
are so much more, or so much more often, "sitters" than 
actors. Protagonists it may be. When they act, they 
are apt to stage-act, which reduces their action again to 
being a mere attempt at description. ("The Liar," for 



HENRY JAMES 151 

example. ) Compare Maupassant's "Toine" for treat- 
ment of case similar to "Fordham Castle." 

1902-05. "The Sacred Fount," "Wings of a Dove/' 
"Golden Bowl" period. 

"Dove" and "Bowl" certainly not models for other 
writers, a caviare not part of the canon (metaphors be 
hanged for the moment). 

Henry James is certainly not a model for narrative 
novelists, for young writers of fiction; perhaps not even 
a subject of study till they have attained some sublimity 
of the critical sense or are at least ready to be constantly 
alert, constantly on guard. 

I cannot see that he will harm a critic or a describer 
of places, a recorder of impressions, whether they be 
people, places, music. 

1903. "Better Sort/' mildish. 

1903. "The Ambassadors/' rather clearer than the 
other work. Etude of Paris vs. Woollett. Exhortation 
to the idle, well-to-do, to leave home. 

1907. "The American Scene/' triumph of the author's 
long practice. A creation of America. A book no 
"serious American" will neglect. How many Americans 
make any attempt toward a realization of that country 
is of course beyond our power to compute. The desire 
to see the national face in a mirror may be in itself an 
exotic. I know of no such grave record, of no such 
attempt at faithful portrayal, as "The American Scene." 
Thus America is to the careful observer; this volume 
and the American scenes in the fiction and memoirs, in 
"The Europeans," "The Patagonia," "Washington 
Square/' etc., bulk large in the very small amount of 
writing which can be counted as history of moeurs con- 
temporaries, of national habit of our time and of the 



152 INSTIGATIONS 

two or three generations preceding us. Newport, the 
standardized face, the Capitol, Independence Hall, the 
absence of penetralia, innocence, essential vagueness. 
etc., language "only definable as not in intention Yid- 
dish," the tabernacle of Grant's ashes, the public collapse 
of the individual., the St. Gaudens statue. There is noth- 
ing to be gained by making excerpts ; the volume is large, 
but one should in time drift through it. I mean any 
American with pretenses to an intellectual life should 
drift through it. It is not enough to have perused "The 
Constitution" and to have "heerd tell" of the national 
founders. 

1910. "The Finer Grain," collection of short stories 
without a slip. "The Velvet Glove," "Mona Mon- 
travers," "A Round of Visits" (the old New York versus 
the new), "Crapey Cornelia," "The Bench of Desolation." 

It is by beginning on this collection, or perhaps taking 
it after such stories as "The Pupil" and "Brooksmith," 
that the general literate reader will best come to James, 
must in brief be convinced of him and can tell whether 
or not the "marginal" James is for him. Whether or no 
the involutions of the "Golden Bowl" will titillate his ar- 
cane sensibilities. If the reader does not "get" "The 
Finer Grain" there is no sense in his trying the more 
elaborate "Wings of a Dove," "Sacred Fount," "Golden 
Bowl." If, on the contrary, he does feel the peculiar, 
unclassic attraction of the author he may or may not 
enjoy the uncanonical books. 

1911. "The Outcry," a relapse. Connoisseurship fad 
again, inferior work. 

1913. "A* Small Boy and Others," the. beginning of 
the memoirs. Beginning of this volume disgusting. 
First three pages enough to put one off Henry James 
once and for all, damn badly written, atrocious vocabu- 



HENRY JAMES 153 

ry. Page 33, a few lines of good writing. Reader 
might start about here, any reader, that is, to whom 
New York of that period is of interest. New York of 
the fifties is significant, in so far as it is typical of what a 
hundred smaller American cities have been since. The 
tone of the work shows in excerpts : 

"The special shade of its identity was thus that it was 
not conscious really not conscious of anything in the 
world ; or was conscious of so few possibilities at least, 
and these so immediate and so a matter of course, that it 
came almost to the same thing. That was the testimony 
that the slight subjects in question strike me as having 
borne to their surrounding medium the fact that their 
unconsciousnes could be so preserved . . ." 

Or later, when dealing with a pre-Y.-M.-C.-A. 
America. 

"Infinitely queer and quaint, almost incongruously 
droll, the sense somehow begotten in ourselves, as very 
young persons, of our being surrounded by a slightly 
remote, yet dimly rich, outer and quite kindred circle of 
the tipsy. I remember how, once, as a very small boy, 
after meeting in the hall a most amiable and irreproach- 
able gentleman, all but closely consanguineous, who 
had come to call on my mother, I anticipated his further 
entrance by slipping in to report to that parent that I 
thought he must be tipsy. And I was to recall per- 
fectly afterwards the impression I so made on her in 
which the general proposition that the gentlemen of a 
certain group or connection might on occasion be best 
described by the term I had used, sought to destroy the 
particular presumption that our visitor wouldn't, by his 
ordinary measure, show himself for one of these. He 
didn't to all appearance, for I was afterwards disap- 
pointed at the lapse of lurid evidence: that memory 



154 INSTIGATIONS 

remained with me, as well as a considerable subsequent 
wonder at my having leaped to so baseless a viev. 

"The grim little generalization remained, none the less, 
and I may speak of it since I speak of everything as 
still standing : the striking evidence that scarce aught but 
disaster could, in that so unformed and unseasoned 
society, overtake young men who were in the least ex- 
posed. Not to have been immediately launched in busi- 
ness of a rigorous sort was to be exposed in the ab- 
sence, I mean, of some fairly abnormal predisposition 
to virtue; since it was a world so simply constituted 
that whatever wasn't business, or exactly an office or a 
"store," places in which people sat close and made 
money, was just simply pleasure, sought, and sought 
only, in places in which people got tipsy. There was 
clearly no mean, least of all the golden one, for it was 
just the ready, even when the moderate, possession of 
gold that determined, that hurried on disaster. There 
were whole sets and groups, there were 'sympathetic,' 
though too susceptible, races, that seemed scarce to 
recognize or to find possible any practical application of 
moneyed, that is, of transmitted ease, however limited, 
but to go more or less rapidly to the bad with it 
which meant even then going as often as possible to 
Paris . . ." 

"The field was strictly covered, to my young eyes, I 
make out, by three classes, the busy, the tipsy, and 
Daniel Webster. . . ." 

"It has carried me far from my rather evident propo- 
sition that if we saw the 'natural' so happily embodied 
about us and in female maturity, or comparative ma- 
turity, scarce less than in female adolescence this was 
because the artificial, or in other words the complicated, 
was so little there to threaten it. 




HENRY JAMES 155 

On page 72 he quotes his father on "flagrant morality." 
In Chapter X we have a remarkable portrayal of a 
character by almost nothing save vacuums, "timorous 
philistine in a world of dangers." Our author notes the 
"finer civility" but does not see that it is a thing of no 
period. It is the property of a few individuals, per- 
sonally transmitted. Henry James had a mania for 
setting these things in an era or a "faubourg," despite 
the continued testimony that the worst manners have 
constantly impinged upon the most brilliant societies; 
that decent detail of conduct is a personal talent. 

The production of "II Corteggiano" proves perhaps 
nothing more than the degree in which Castiglione's 
contemporaries "needed to be told." On page 236 
("Small Boy and Others") the phrase "presence without 
type." On page 286, the people "who cultivated for 
years the highest instructional, social and moral possi- 
bilities of Geneva." Page 283, "discussion of a work 
of art mainly hung in those days on that issue of the 
producible name." Page 304, "For even in those days 
some Americans were rich and several sophisticated." 
Page 313, The real give away of W. J. Page 341, 
Scarification of Ste-Beuve. Page 179, Crystal Palace. 
Page 214, Social relativity. 

One is impatient for Henry James to do people. 

A LITTLE TOUR IN FRANCE. The disadvantage of giv- 
ing impressions of real instead of imaginary places is 
that they conflict with other people's impressions. I do 
not see Angouleme via Balzac, nor do I feel Henry 
James's contacts with the places where our tracks have 
crossed very remarkable. I dare say it is a good enough 
guide for people more meagrely furnished with asso- 
ciations or perceptions. Allow me my pietoris shrug for 
the man who has gone only by train. 



156 INSTIGATIONS 

Henry James is not very deep in ancient associations. 
The American's enjoyment of England in "The Passion- 
ate Pilgrim" is more searching than anything continental. 
Windy generality in "Tour in France," and perhaps indi- 
cation of how little Henry James's tentacles penetrated 
into any era before 1600, or perhaps before 1780. 

Vignette bottom of page 337-8 ("Passionate Pilgrim") 
"full of glimpses and responses, of deserts and desola- 
tions." "His perceptions would be fine and his opinions 
pathetic." Commiseration of Searle vs. detachment, in 
"Four Meetings." 

Of the posthumous work, "The Middle Years" is per- 
haps the most charming. "The Ivory Tower," full of 
accumulated perceptions, swift illuminating phrases, 
perhaps part of a masterpiece. "The Sense of the Past," 
less important. I leave my comment of "The Middle 
Years" as I wrote it, but have recast the analysis of 
notes to "The Ivory Tower." 

Flaubert is in six volumes, four or rive of which every 
literate man must at one time or another assault. James 
is strewn over about forty part of which must go into 
desuetude, have perhaps done so already. 

I have not in these notes attempted the Paterine art 
of appreciation, e.g., as in taking the perhaps sole read- 
able paragraph of Pico Mirandola and writing an em- 
purpled descant. 

The problem discussion of which is about as "artis- 
tic" as a street map is : can we conceive a five or six 
volume edition of James so selected as to hold its own 
internationally? My contention is for this possibility. 

My notes are no more than a tentative suggestion, to 
wit : that some such compact edition might be, to ad- 
vantage, tried on the less patient public. I have been, 
alas, no more fortunate than our subject in keeping out 



HENRY JAMES 



:v 



Irrelevant, non-esthetic, non-literary, non-technical vistas 
and strictures. 

'THE MIDDLE YEARS" 

THE MIDDLE YEARS is a tale of the great adventure; 
for, putting aside a few simple adventures, sentimental, 
phallic, Nimrodic, the remaining great adventure is pre- 
cisely the approach to the Metropolis ; for the provincial 
of our race the specific approach to London, and no 
subject surely could more heighten the pitch of writing 
than that the treated approach should be that of the 
greatest writer of o.ur time and own particular language. 
We may, I think, set aside Thomas Hardy as of an 
age not our own ; of perhaps Walter Scott's or of L'Abbe 
Prevost's, but remote from us and things familiarly 
under our hand ; and we skip over the next few crops of 
writers as lacking in any comparative interest, interest 
in a writer being primarily in his degree of sensitiza- 
tion ; and on this count we may throw out the whole 
Wells-Bennett period, for what interest can we take in 
instruments which must of nature miss two-thirds of 
the vibrations in any conceivable situation? In James 
the maximum sensibility compatible with efficient writ- 
ing was present. Indeed, in reading these pages one 
can but despair over the inadequacy of one's own literary 
sensitization, one's so utterly inferior state of aware- 
ness ; even allowing for what the author himself allows : 
his not really, perhaps, having felt at twenty-six, all that 
at seventy he more or less read into the memory of his 
feeling. The point is that with the exception of excep- 
tional moments in Hueffer, we find no trace of such 
degree of awareness in the next lot of writers, or until 
the first novels of Lewis and Joyce, whose awareness 
is, without saying, of a nature greatly different in kind. 



158 INSTIGATIONS 

It is not the book for any reader to tackle who has 
not read a good deal of James, or who has not, in 
default of that reading, been endowed with a natural 
Jamesian sensibility (a case almost negligible by any 
likelihood) ; neither is it a book of memoirs, I mean 
one does not turn to it seeking information about Vic- 
torian worthies ; any more than one did, when the old 
man himself was talking, want to be told anything ; there 
are encyclopedias in sufficiency, and statistics, and human 
mines of information, boring sufficiency; one asked and 
asks only that the slow voice should continue evaluat- 
ing, or perhaps only tying up the strands of a sentence : 
"And how my old friend . . . Hoivells . . ." etc 

The effects of H. J.'s first breakfasts in Liverpool, 
invited upstairs at Half Moon Street, are of infinitely 
more value than any anecdotes of the Laureate (even 
though H, J.'s inability not to see all through the Laure- 
ate is compensated by a quip melting one's personal 
objection to anything Tennyson touched, by making him 
merely an old gentleman whatsoever with a gleam of fun 
in his make-up). 

All comers to the contrary, and the proportionate sale 
of his works, and statistics whatsoever to the contrary, 
only an American who has come abroad will ever draw 
all the succulence from Henry James's writings ; the 
denizen of Manchester or Wellington may know what 
it feels like to reach London, the Londoner born will 
not be able quite to reconstruct even this part of the 
book; and if for intimacy H. J. might have stayed at 
the same hotel on the same day as one's grandfather; 
and if the same American names had part in one's own 
inceptions in London, one's own so wholly different and 
less padded inceptions; one has perhaps a purely per- 
sonal, selfish, unliterary sense of intimacy: with, in my 




HENRY JAMES i 3i > 

own case, the vast unbridgeable difference of settling-in 
and escape. 

The essence of James is that he is always "settling-in," 
it is the ground-tone of his genius. 

Apart from the state of James's sensibility on arrival 
nothing else matters, the "mildness of the critical air," 
the fatuity of George Eliot's husband, the illustrational 
and accomplished lady, even the faculty for a portrait 
in a paragraph, not to be matched by contemporary 
effects in half-metric, are indeed all subordinate to one's 
curiosity as to what Henry James knew, and what he 
did not know on landing. The portrait of the author on 
the cover showing him bearded, and looking rather like 
a cross between a bishop and a Cape Cod longshoreman, 
is an incident gratuitous, interesting, but in no way con- 
nected with the young man of the text. 

The England of a still rather whiskered age, never 
looking inward, in short, the Victorian, is exquisitely em- 
balmed, and "mounted,'' as is. I think, the term for 
microscopy. The book is just the right length as a 
volume, but one mourns there not being twenty more, 
for here is the unfinished work . . . not in "The Sense 
of the Past," for there the pen was weary, as it had 
been in "The Outcry," and the talent that was never most 
worth its own while when gone off on connoisseurship, 
was, conceivably, finished; but here in his depiction of 
his earlier self the verve returned in full vigor. 

THE NOTES TO "THE IVORY TOWER" * 

THE great artists among men of letters have occasion- 
ally and by tradition burst into an Ars Poetica or an 
Arte nuez'o de hacer Comedias, and it should come as no 

* Recast from an article in The Future. 



160 INSTIGATIONS 

surprise that Henry James has left us some sort of 
treatise on novel-writing no surprise, that is, to the 
discriminating reader who is not, for the most part, a 
writer of English novels. Various reviewers have 
hinted obscurely that some such treatise is either adum- 
brated or concealed in the Notes for "The Ivory Tower" 
and for "The Sense of the Past''; they have said, in- 
deed, that novelists will "profit greatly," etc., but no one 
has set forth the gist or the generalities which are to be 
found in these notes. 

Divested of its fine verbiage, of its cliches, of its pro- 
vincialisms of American phrase, and of the special de- 
tails relating to the particular book in his mind, the 
formula for building a novel (any novel, not merely any 
"psychological" novel) ; the things to have clearly in 
mind before starting to write it are enumerated in "The 
Ivory Tower" notes somewhat as follows : 

1. Choice of names for characters; names that will 
"fit" their owners, and that will not "joggle" or be 
cacophonic when in juxtaposition on the page. 

2. Exposition of one group of characters and of the 
"situation." (In "The Ivory Tower" this was to be done 
in three subdivisions. "Book I" was to give the "Im- 
mediate Facts.") 

3. One character at least is hitched to his "character- 
istic." We are to have one character's impression on 
another. 

4. (Book III.) Various reactions and interactions of 
characters. 

5. The character, i.e., the main character, is "faced 
with the situation." 

6. For "The Ivory Tower" and probably for any novel, 
there is now need to show clearly and definitely the 
"antecedents," i.e., anything that had happened before 



HENRY JAMES 161 

the story started. And we find Henry James making 
up his mind which characters have interacted before this 
story opens, and which things are to be due to fresh 
impacts of one character on another. 

7. Particular consideration of the special case in hand. 
The working- free from incongruities inherent in the first 
vague preconceptions of the plot. Thus : 

(a) The hinge of the thing is not to be the effect of 

A. on B. or of B. on A. ; nor of A. on C. or 
of C. on B. ; but is to be due to an effect all H 
round, of A. and B. and C. working on each 
other. J 

(b) James's care not to repeat figures from earlier 

novels. Not a categoric prohibition, but a cau- 
tion not to sail too near the wind in this matter. 

(c) A care not to get too many "personally remark- 

able" people, and not enough stupid ones into 
the story. 

(d) Care for the relative "weight" as well as the 

varied "tone" of the characters. 

(We observe, in all this, the peculiarly American pas- 
sion for "art" ; for having a system in things, cf. 
Whistler.) 

(e) Consideration how far one character "faces" the 

problem of another character's "character." 
(This and section "d" continue the preoccupation with 
"moral values" shown in James's early criticism in 
"French Poets and Novelists.") 

8. Definite "joints" ; or relations of one character to 
another finally fitted and settled. 

This brings us again to point 5. The character, i.e., 
the main character definitely "faced" with the situation. 

9. The consequences. 



1 62 INSTIGATIONS 

10. (a) Further consideration of the state of char- 

acter C. before contact with B., etc. 

(b) The effect of further characters on the mind, 
and thence on the action of A. 

(c) Considerations of the effect of a fourth main 
character ; of introducing a subsidiary char- 
acter, and its effect, i.e., that of having an 
extra character for a particular function. 

11. The great "coup" foreshadowed. 

(In this case the mild Othello, more and more drifting 
consciously into the grip of the mild lago I use the 
terms "Othello" and "lago" merely to avoid, if not 
"hero/' at least "villain"; the sensitive temperament al- 
lowing the rapacious temperament to become effective.) 

(a) The main character in perplexity as to how far 

he shall combat the drift of things. 

(b) The opposed character's perception of this. 
(These sub-sections are, of course, sub-sections for 

a psychological novel ; one would have different but 

equivalent "joints" in a novel of action.) 

(c) Effect of all this on third character. (In this 
case female, attracted to "man-of-action" qual- 
ity). 

(d) A.'s general perception of these things and his 

weighing of values, a phase solely for the psy- 
chological novel. 

(e) Weighing of how much A.'s perception of the 

relations between B. and C. is to be denouement, 
and how much, more or less, known. 

12. Main character's "solution" or vision of what 
course he will take. 

13. The fourth character's "break into" things, or 

into a perception of things, 
(a) Actions of an auxiliary character, of what would 



HENRY JAMES 163 

have been low life in old Spanish or Elizabethan 
drama. This character affects the main action 
(as sometimes a "gracioso" [servant, buffoon, 
Sancho Panza] affects the main action in a 
play, for example, of Lope de Vega's), 
(b) Caution not to let author's interest in fascinat- 
ing auxiliary character run away with his whole 
plan and design. 

(This kind of restraint is precisely what leaves a 
reader "wanting more"; which gives a novel the "feel" 
of being full of life ; convinces the reader of an abundant 
energy, an abundant sense of life in an author.) 

14. Effects of course of the action on fourth main 
character and on the others. The scale being kept by 
the relation here not being between main character and 
one antagonist, but with a group of three people, rela- 
tions "different'' though their "point" is the same; cf. 
a main character vs. a Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern, or 
"attendant lords." James always has half an eye on 
play construction ; the scene. 

(a) The second auxiliary character brought out more 

definitely. (This is accidental. It might hap- 
pen at any suitable point in a story wherever 
needed.) 

(b) Act of this auxiliary person reaches through to 

main action. 

15. We see the author determining just how bad a 
case he is going to make his villain. 

(a) Further determination of his hero. (In this 
case an absolute non-producer, non-accumu- 
lator. ) 

(b) Care not to get an unmixed "bad" in his "villain," 
but to keep a right balance, a dependency, in 



1 64 INSTIGATIONS 

this case, on the main character's weakness or 
easiness. 

(c) Decision how the main "coup" or transfer shall 
slide through. 

1 6. Effect upon C. Effect upon main characters' re- 
lations to D., E. and F. 

At this point, in the consideration of eight of the ten 
"books" of his novel, we see the author most intent on 
his composition or architecture, most anxious to get all 
the sections fitted in with the greatest economy, a sort 
of crux of his excitement and anxiety, a fullness of his 
perception that the thing must be so tightly packed that 
no sentence can afford to be out of place. 

17. Climax. The Deus or, in this case, Dea, ex 
machina. Devices for prolonging climax. The fourth 
main character having been, as it were, held back for a 
sort of weight or balance here, and as a "resolution" of 
the tangles. 

Finis. 

18. Author's final considerations of time scheme, i.e., 
fitting the action into time not too great for unity, and 
great enough to allow for needed complexity. Slighter 
consideration of place scheme; where final scenes shall 
be laid, etc. 

Here in a few paragraphs are the bare bones of the 
plan described in eighty of Henry James's pages. The 
detailed thoroughness of this plan, the complicated con- 
sciousness displayed in it, gives us the measure of this 
author's superiority, as conscious artist, over the "nor- 
mal" British novelist, i.e., over the sort of person who 
tells you that when he did his first book he "just sat 
down and wrote the first paragraph," and then found he 
"couldn't stop." This he tells you in a manner clearly 
implying that, from that humble beginning to the shining 



HENRY JAMES 165 

hour of the present, he has given the matter no further 
thought, and that his succeeding works were all knocked 
off with equal simplicity. 

I give this outline with such fullness because it is a 
landmark in the history of the novel as written in Eng- 
lish. It is inconceivable that Fielding or Richardson 
should have left, or that Thomas Hardy should leave, 
such testimony to a comprehension of the novel as a 
"form." The Notes are, on the other hand, quite dis- 
tinct from the voluminous prefaces which so many 
French poets write before they have done anything else. 
James, we note, wrote no prefaces until there were 
twenty- four volumes of his novels and stories waiting 
to be collected and republished. The Notes are simply 
the accumulation of his craftsman's knowledge, they are, 
in all their length, the summary of the things he would 
have, as a matter of habit, in his mind before embark- 
ing on composition. 

I take it rather as a sign of editorial woodenheaded- 
ness that these Notes are printed at the end of "The 
Ivory Tower"; if one have sense enough to suspect that 
the typical mentality of the elderly heavy reviewer has 
been shown, one will for oneself reverse the order; read 
the notes with interest and turn to the text already with 
the excitement of the sport or with the zest to see if, with 
this chance of creating the masterpiece so outlined^ the 
distinguished author is going to make good. If on the 
other hand one reads the unfinished text, there is no 
escaping the boredom of re-reading in skeleton, with 
tentative and confusing names, the bare statement of 
what has been, in the text, more fully set before us. 

The text is attestation of the rich, banked-up per- 
ception of the author. I dare say the snap and rattle of 
the fun, or much of it, will be only half perceptible to 



166 INSTIGATIONS 

those who do not know both banks of the Atlantic; but 
enough remains to show the author at his best; despite 
the fact that occasionally he puts in the mouths of his 
characters sentences or phrases that no .one but he him- 
self could have used. I cannot attribute this to the 
unfinished state of the manuscript. These . oversights 
are few, but they are the kind of slip which occurs in 
his earlier work. We note also that his novel is a 
descriptive novel, not a novel that simply depicts people 
speaking and moving. There is a constant dissertation 
going on, and in it is our major enjoyment. The Notes 
to "The Sense of the Past" are not so fine a specimen of 
method, as they are the plan not of a whole book, but 
only of the latter section. The editor is quite right to 
print them at the end of the volume. 

Of the actual writing in the three posthumous books, 
far the most charming is to be found in "The Middle 
Years." Here again one is not much concerned with 
Mr. James's mildly ironic reminiscences of Tennyson and 
the Victorians, but rather with James's own tempera- 
ment, and with his recording of inn-rooms, breakfasts, 
butlers, etc., very much as he had done in his fiction. 
There is no need for its being "memoirs" at all ; call the 
protagonist Mr. Ponsonby or Mr. Hampton, obliterate 
the known names of celebrities and half celebrities, and 
the whole thing becomes a James novel, and, so far as it 
goes, a mate to the best of them. 

Retaining the name of the author, any faithful reader 
of James, or at any rate the attentive student, finds a 
good deal of amusement in deciphering the young James, 
his temperament as mellowed by recollection and here 
recorded forty years later, and then in contrasting it 
with the young James as revealed or even "betrayed" in 
his own early criticisms, "French Poets and Novelists," 



HENRY JAMES 167 

a much cruder and more savagely puritanical and plainly 
Xew England product with, however, certain permanent 
traits of his character already in evidence, and with a 
critical faculty keen enough to hit on certain weaknesses 
in the authors analyzed, often with profundity, and 
with often a "rightness" in his mistakes. I mean that 
apparent errors are at times only an excess of zeal and 
overshooting of his mark, which was to make for an 
improvement, by him, of certain defects. 



Ill 

REMY DE GOURMONT 

A DISTINCTION 
followed by notes 

THE mind of Remy de Gourmont was less like the 
mind of Henry James than any contemporary mind I 
can think of. James' drawing of wioeurs contemporaries 
was so circumstantial, so concerned with the setting, with 
detail, nuance, social aroma, that his transcripts were 
"out of date" almost before his books had gone into a 
second edition ; out of date that is, in the sense that his 
interpretations of society could never serve as a guide to 
such supposititious utilitarian members of the next gen- 
eration as might so desire to use them. 

He has left his scene and his characters, unalterable as 
the little paper flowers permanently visible inside the 
lumpy glass paperweights. He was a great man of 
letters, a great artist in portrayal ; he was concerned with 
mental temperatures, circumvolvulous social pressures, 
the clash of contending conventions, as Hogarth with 
the cut of contemporary coats. 

On no occasion would any man of my generation have 
broached an intimate idea to H. J., or to Thomas Hardy, 
O.M., or, years since, to Swinburne, or even to Mr. 
Yeats with any feeling that the said idea was likely to 
be received, grasped, comprehended. However much 

168 



REMY DE GOURMONT 169 

one may have admired Yeats' poetry ; however much one 
may have been admonished by Henry James' prose 
works, one has never thought of agreeing with either. 

You could, on the other hand, have said to De Gour- 
mont anything that came into your head ; you could have 
sent him anything you had written with a reasonable 
assurance that he would have known what you were 
driving at. If this distinction is purely my own, and 
subjective, and even if it be wholly untrue, one will be 
very hard pressed to find any other man born in the 
"fifties" of whom it is even suggestible. 

De Gourmont prepared our era; behind him there 
stretches a limitless darkness ; there was the counter- 
reformation, still extant in the English printer; there 
was the restoration of the Inquisition by the Catholic 
Roman Church, holy and apostolic, in the year of grace 
1824; there was the Mephistopheles period, morals of 
the opera left over from the Spanish XYIIth century 
plays of "capa y espada" ; Don Juan for subject mat- 
ter, etc. ; there was the period of English Christian big- 
otry, Saml. Smiles, exhibition of '51 ("Centennial of 
'76"), machine-made building "ornament," etc., enduring 
in the people who did not read Saml. Butler; there was 
the Emerson-Tennysonian plus optimism period; there 
was the "aesthetic" era during which people "wrought" 
as the impeccable Beerbohm has noted; there was the 
period of funny symboliste trappings, "sin," satanism, 
rosy cross, heavy lilies, Jersey Lilies, etc., 

"Ch'hanno perduto il ben del intelletto" 
all these periods had mislaid the light of the XVIIIth 
century; though in the symbolistes Gourmont had his 
beginning. 



170 INSTIGATIONS 

II. 

In contradiction to, in wholly antipodal distinction 
from, Henry James, De Gourmont was an artist of the 
nude. He was an intelligence almost more than an ar- 
tist ; when he portrays, he is concerned with hardly more 
than the permanent human elements. His people are 
only by accident of any particular era. He is poet, more 
by possessing a certain quality of mind than by virtue 
of having written fine poems ; you could scarcely con- 
tend that he was a novelist. 

He was intensely aware of the differences of emo- 
tional timbre; and as a man's message is precisely his 
fa$on de voir, his modality of apperception, this particu- 
lar awareness was his "message." 

Where James is concerned with the social tone of his 
subjects, with their entourage, with their superstes of 
dogmatized "form," ethic, etc., De Gourmont is con- 
cerned with their modality and resonance in emotion. 

Mauve, Fanette, Neobelle, La Vierge aux Platres, are 
all studies in different permanent kinds of people; they 
are not the results of environments or of "social causes," 
their circumstance is an accident and is on the whole 
scarcely alluded to. Gourmont differentiates his charac- 
ters by the modes of their sensibility, not by sub-degrees 
of their state of civilization. 

He recognizes the right of individuals to feel differ- 
ently. Confucian, Epicurean, a considerer and enter- 
tainer of ideas, this complicated sensuous wisdom is al- 
most the one ubiquitous element, the "self" which keeps 
his superficially heterogeneous work vaguely "unified." 

The study of emotion does not follow a set chrono- 
logical arc; it extends from the "Physique de 1' Amour" 




REMY DE GOURMONT 171 

to "Le Latin Mystique" ; from the condensation of 
Fabre's knowledge of insects to 

"Amas ut facias pulchram" 

in the Sequaire of Goddeschalk 
(in "Le Latin Mystique"). 

He had passed the point where people take abstract 
statement of dogma for "enlightenment." An "idea" has 
little value apart from the modality of the mind which 
receives it. It is a railway from one state to another, 
and as dull as steel rails in a desert. 

The emotions are equal before the aesthetic judgment. 
He does not grant the duality of body and soul, or at 
least suggests that this mediaeval duality is unsatisfac- 
tory ; there is an interpenetration, an osmosis of body 
and soul, at least for hypothesis. "My words are the un- 
spoken words of my body." 

And in all his exquisite treatment of all emotion he 
will satisfy many whom August Strindberg, for egre- 
gious example, will not. From the studies of insects to 
Christine i-voked from the thoughts of Diomede, sex is 
not a monstrosity or an exclusively German study.* And 
the entire race is not bound to the habits of the mantis 
>r of other insects equally melodramatic. Sex, in so far" 
as it is not a purely physiological reproductive mechan- 
ism, lies in the domain of aesthetics, the junction of tactile 
and magnetic senses; as some people have accurate ears 
both for rhythm and for pitch, and as some are tone deaf, 
some impervious to rhythmic subtlety and variety, so in 
this other field of the senses some desire the trivial, some 
the processional, the stately, the master-work. 

As some people are good judges of music, and insen- 
sible to painting and sculpture, so the fineness ot one 

* "A German study," Hobson : "A German study." Tarr. 



172 INSTIGATIONS 

sense entails no corresponding fineness in another, or at 
least no corresponding critical perception of differences. 



III. 



Emotions to Henry James were more or less things 
that other people had and that one didn't go into ; at any 
rate not in drawing rooms. The gods had not visited 
James, and the Muse, whom he so frequently mentions, 
appeared doubtless in corsage, the narrow waist, the 
sleeves puffed at the shoulders, a la mode 1890-2. 

De Gourmont is interested in hardly anything save 
emotions, and the ideas that will go into them, or take 
life in emotional application. (Apperceptive rather than 
active.) 

One reads LES CHEVAUX DE DIOMEDE (1897) as one 
would have listened to incense in the old Imperial court. 
There are many spirits incapable. De Gourmont calls 
it a "romance of possible adventures" ; it might be called 
equally an aroma, the fragrance of roses and poplars, 
the savor of wisdoms, not part of the canon of literature, 
a book like "Daphnis and Chloe" or like Marcel 
Schwob's "Livre de Monelle" ; not a solidarity like Flau- 
bert; but an osmosis, a pervasion. 

"My true life is in the unspoken words of my body." 

In "UNE NUIT AU LUXEMBOURG," the characters talk 
at more length, and the movement is less convincing. 
"Diomede" was De Gourmont's own favorite and we 
may take it as the best of his art, as the most complete 
expression of his particular "fagon d'apercevoir" ; if, 
even in it, the characters do little but talk philosophy, or 
rather drift into philosophic expression out of a haze of 
images, they are for all that very real. It is the climax 



REMY DE GOURMONT 173 

of his method of presenting characters differentiated by 
emotional timbre, a process which had begun in "His- 
TOIRES MAGIQUES" (1895); and in "D'uN PAYS LOIN- 
TAIN" (published 1898, in reprint from periodicals of 
1892-4). 

"SONGE D'UNE FEMME" (1899) is a novel of modern 
life, De Gourmont's sexual intelligence, as contrasted to 
Strindberg's sexual stupidity well in evidence. The work 
is untranslatable into English, but should be used before 
30 by young men who have been during their undergrad- 
uate days too deeply inebriated with the Vita Nuova. 

"Tout ce qui se passe dans la vie, c'est de la mauvaise 
litterature." 

"La vraie terre natale est celle ou on a eu sa premiere 
emotion forte." 

"La virginite n'est pas une vertu, c'est un etat; c'est 
une sous-division des couleurs." 

Livres de ckevet for those whom the Strindbergian 
school will always leave aloof. 

"Les imbeciles ont choisi le beau comme les oiseaux 
choisissent ce qui est gras. La betise leur sert de cornes." 

"CoEUR VIRGINAL" (1907) is a light novel, amusing, 
and accurate in its psychology. 

I do not think it possible to overemphasize Gourmont's 
sense of beauty. The mist clings to the lacquer. His 
spirit was the spirit of Omakitsu; his pays natal was 
near to the peach-blossom-fountain of the untranslatable 
poem. If the life of Diomede is overdone and done 
badly in modern Paris, the wisdom of the book is not 
thereby invalidated. It may be that Paris has need of 
some more Spartan corrective, but for the descendants 
of witch-burners Diomede is a needful communication. 



174 INSTIGATIONS 

IV. 

As Voltaire was a needed light in the i8th cen- 
I'l tury, so in our time Fj^re_jindJFrazer have been essen- 
tials in the mental furnishings of any contemporary mind 
qualified to write of ethics or philosophy or that mixed 
i molasses religion. "The Golden Bough" has supplied 
the data which Voltaire's incisions had shown to be lack- 
ing. It has been a positive succeeding his negative. It 
is not necessary perhaps to read ^Fabre_and Frazer en- 
tire, but one must be aware of them; people^nawaTe" 
of them invalidate all their own writing by simple igno- 
rance, and their work goes ultimately to the scrap heap. 

"PHYSIQUE DE L'AMOUR" (1903) should be used as a 
text book of Biology. Between this biological basis in 
instinct, and the "Sequaire of Goddeschalk" in "Le Latin 
Mystique" ( [892) stretch Gourmont's studies of amour 
and aesthetics. If in Diomede we find an Epicurean 
receptivity, a certain aloofness, an observation of con- 
tacts and auditions, in contrast to the Propertian atti- 
tude: 

Ingenium nobis ipsa puella facit, 

this is perhaps balanced by 

"Sans vous, je crois bien que je n'aimerais plus beau- 
coup et que je n'aurais plus une extreme confiance ni 
dans la vie ni moi-meme." (In "Lettres a 1'Ama- 

zone.") 

But there is nothing more unsatisfactory than saying 
that De Gourmont "had such and such ideas" or held 
"such and such views," the thing is that he held ideas, in- 




REMY DE GOURMONT 175 

tuitions, perceptions in a certain personal exquisite man- 
ner. In a criticism of him, "criticism" being an over 
violent word, in, let us say, an indication of him, one 
wants merely to show that one has oneself made certain 
dissociations ; as here, between the aesthetic receptivity 
of tactile and magnetic values, of the perception of 
beauty in these relationships, and.the conception of love, 
passion, emotion as an intellectual instigation; such as 
Propertius claims it ; such as we find it declared in the 
King of Navarre's 



"De fine amor vient science et beaute' 



S 



and constantly in the troubadours. 

(I cannot repeat too often that there was a profound 
psychological knowledge in mediaeval Provence, how- 
ever Gothic its expression ; that men, concentrated on 
certain validities, attaining an exact and diversified ter- 
minology, have there displayed considerable penetration ; 
that this was carried into early Italian poetry ; and faded 
from it when metaphors became decorative instead of 
interpretative; and that the age of Aquinas would not 
have tolerated sloppy expression of psychology concur- 
rent with the exact expression of "mysticism." There j 
is also great wisdom in Ovid. Pcwjotw/) 

De Gourmont's wisdom is not wholly unlike the wis- 
dom which those ignorant of Latin may, if the gods 
favor their understanding, derive from Golding's "Met- 
amorphoses." 






V. 



Barbarian ethics proceed by general taboos. Gour- 
mont's essays collected into various volumes, "Prome- 
nades," "Epilogues," etc., are perhaps the best intro- 



176 INSTIGATIONS 

duction to the ideas of our time that any unfortunate, 
suddenly emerging from Peru, Peoria, Oshkosh, Ice- 
land, Kochin, or other out-of-the-way lost continent could 
desire. A set of Lander's collected works will go fur- 
ther towards civilizing a man than any university educa- 
tion now on the market. Montaigne condensed Renais- 
sance awareness. Even so small a collection as Lionel 
Johnson's "Post Liminium" might save a man from utter 
barbarity. 

But if, for example, a raw graduate were contemplat- 
ing a burst into intellectual company, he would be less 
likely to utter unutterable betisses, gaffes, etc., after read- 
ing Gourmont than before. One cannot of course cre- 
ate intelligence in a numbskull. 

Needless to say, Gourmont's essays are of uneven 
value as the necessary subject matter is of uneven value. 
Taken together, proportionately placed in his work, they 
are a portrait of the civilized mind. I incline to think 
them the best portrait available, the best record that is, 
of the civilized mind from 1885-1915. 

There are plenty of people who do not know what the 
civilized mind is like, just as there were plenty of mules 
in England who did not read Landor contemporaneously, 
or who did not in his day read Montaigne. Civilization 
is individual. 

Gourmont arouses the senses of the imagination, pre- 
paring the mind for receptivities. His wisdom, if not 
of the senses, is at any rate via the senses. We base our 
"science" on perceptions, but our ethics have not yet at- 
tained this palpable basis. 

In 1898, "PAYS LOINTAIN'' (reprinted from magazine 
publication of 1892-4), De Gourmont was beginning his 
method : 




REMY DE GOURMONT 177 

"Douze crimes pour I'honneur de I'mfini." 

He treats the special case, cases as special as any of 
James', but segregated on different demarcative lines. 
His style had attained the vividness of 

"Sa vocation etait de paraitre malheureuse, de passer 
dans la vie comme une ombre gemissante, d'inspirer de 
la pitie, du doute et de 1'inquietude. Elle avait toujours 
Tair de porter des fleurs vers une tombe abandonnee." 
La Femme en Noir. 

In "HISTOIRES MAGIQUES" (1894): "La Robe 
Blanche," "Yeux d'eau," "Marguerite Rouge," "Soeur de 
Sylvie," "Danaette," are all of them special cases, already 
showing his perception of nevrosis, of hyperaesthesia. 
His mind is still running on tonal variations in "Les 
Litanies de la Rose." 

"Pourtant il y a des yeux au bout des doigts." 
"Femmes, conservatrices des traditions milesiennes." 

"EPILOGUES" (1895-98). Pleasant rereading, a book 
to leave lying about, to look back into at odd half hours. 
A book of accumulations. Full of meat as a good 
walnut. 

Heterogeneous as the following paragraphs : 
"Ni la croyance en un seul Dieu, ni la morale ne sont 
les fondements vrais de la religion. Une religion, meme 
le Christianisme, n'eut jamais sur les moeurs qu'une in- 
fluence dilatoire, Tinfluence d'un bras leve; elle doit re- 
commencer son preche, non pas seulement avec chaque 
generation humaine, mais avec chaque phase d'une vie 
individuelle. N'apportant pas des verites evidentes en 
soi, son enseignement oublie, elle ne laisse rien dans les 



178 INSTIGATIONS 

ames que 1'effroi du peut-etre et la honte d'etre asservi a 
une peur ou a une esperance dont les chaines fantomales 
entravent non pas nos actes mais nos desirs. 

"L'essence d'une religion, c'est sa litterature. Or la 
litterature religieuse est morte." Religions. 

"Je veux bien que 1'on me protege centre des ennemis 
inconnus, 1'escarpe ou le cambrioleur, mais centre moi- 
meme, vices ou passions, non." Madame B'oulton. 

"Si le cosmopolitisme litteraire gagnait encore et qu'il 
reussit a eteindre ce que les differences de race out 
allume de haine de sang parmi les hommes, j'y verrais un 
gain pour la civilisation et pour 1'humanite tout entiere." 
Cosmopolitisme. 

"Augier ! Tous les lucratifs reves de la bourgeoise 
econome ; tous les soupirs des vierges conf ortables ; toutes 
les reticences des consciences soignees ; toutes les joies 
permises aux ventres prudents; toutes les veuleries des 
bourses craintives; tous les siphons conjugaux; toutes les 
envies de la robe montante centre les epaules nues ; toutes 
les haines du waterproof contre la grace et centre la 
beaute ! Augier, crinoline, parapluie, bec-de-corbin, bon- 
net grec ..." Augier. 

"Dieu aime la melodic gregorienne, mais avec modera- 
tion. II a soin de varier le programme quotidien des con- 
certs celestes, dont le fond reste le plain-chant lithur- 
gique, par des auditions de Bach, Mozart, Haendel, 
Haydn, 'et meme Gounod.' Dieu ignore Wagner, mais 
il aime la variete." Le Dieu des Beiges. 

"La propriete n'est pas sacree ; elle n'est qu'un fait ac- 
ceptable comme necessaire au developpement de la liberte 
individuelle . . . 

"L'abominable loi des cinquantes ans^ contre laquelle 



REMY DE GOURMONT 179 

Protidhon lutta en vain si courageusement commence a 
faire sentir sa tyrannic. La veuve de M. Dumas a fait 
interdire la reprise d'Antony. Motif: son bon plaisir. 
Des caprices d'heritiers peuvent d'un jour a I'autre nous 
priver pendant cinquante ans de toute une oeuvre. 

"Demain les oenvres de Renan, de Taine, de Verlaine, 
de Villiers peuvent appartenir a un cure fanatique ou a 
une devote stupide." La Propriete Litteraire. 

"M. Desjardins, plus modeste, inaugure la morale ar- 
listique et murale, seconde par 1'excellent M. Puvis de 
Chavannes qui n'y comprend rien, mais s'avoue tout de 
ineme bien content de figurer sur les murs." U. P. A. M. 

"Les auteurs, 'avertis par le Public . . . ' II y a dans 
ces mots toute une esthetique, non seulement dramatique, 
mais democratique. Plus d'insucces. Plus de fours. Ad- 
mirable invention par laquelle, sans doute, le peuple trou- 
vera enfin 1'art quilui convient etles auteurs qu'il merite." 
Conscience Litteraire. 

"Le citoyen est une variete de l'homme ; variete degen- 
eree ou primitive il est a rhomme ce que le chat de gou- 
tiere est au cbat sauvage. 

"Comme toutes les creations vraiment belles et noble- 
ment utiles, la sociologie fut Toeuvre d'un homme de 
genie, M. Herbert Spencer, et le principe de sa gloire. 

"La saine Sociologie traite de 1'evolution a travers les 
ages d'un groupe de metaphores, Famille, Patrie, Etat, 
Societe, etc. Ces mots sont de ceux que Ton dit collec- 
tifs et qui n'ont en soi aucune signification, 1'histoire les a 
employes de tous temps, mais la Sociologie, par d'astu- 
cieuses definitions precise leur neant tout en propageant 
leur culte. 



i8o INSTIGATIONS 

"Car tout mot collectif , et d'abord ceux du vocabulaire 
sociologique sont 1'objet d'un culte. A la Famille, a la 
Patrie, a 1'Etat, a la Societe, on sacrifie des citoyens 
males et des citoyens femelles; les males en plus grand 
nombre; ce n'est que par intermede, en temps de greve 
ou d'emeute, pour essayer un nouveau fusil que Ton 
perf ore des femelles ; elles offrent au coup tine cible moins 
defiante et plus plaisante; ce sont la d'inevitables petits 
incidents de la vie politique. Le male est 1'hostie ordi- 
naire. 

"Le caractere fondamental du citoyen est done le de- 
vouement, la resignation et la stupidite; il exerce princi- 
palement ces qualites selon trois fonctions physiologiques, 
comme animal reproducteur, comme animal electoral, 
comme animal contribuable. 

"Devenu animal electoral, le citoyen n'est pas depourvu 
de subtilite. Ayant flaire, il distingue hardiment entre 
un opportuniste et un radical. Son ingeniosite va 
jusqu'a la menance : le mot Liberte le fait aboyer, tel un 
chien perdu. A Tidee qu'on va le laisser seul dans les 
tenebres de sa volonte, il pleure, il appelle sa mere, la 
Republique, son pere, 1'Etat. 

"Du fond de sa grange ou de son atelier, il entretient 
volontiers ceux qui le protegent centre lui-meme. 

"Et puis songe : si tu te revoltais, il n'y aurait plus de 
lois, et quand tu voudrais mourir, comment ferais-tu, si 
le registre n'etait plus la pour accueillir ton nome?" 
Paradoxes sur le Citoyen. 

"Si Ton est porte a souhaiter un deraillement, il faut 
parler, il faut ecrire, il faut sourire, il faut s'abstenir 



REMY DE GOURMONT 181 

c'est le grand point de toute vie civique. Les actuelles 
organisations sociales ont cette tare fondamentale que 
1'abstention legale et silencieuse les rend inermes et 
ridicules. II faut empoisonner I'Autorite, lentement, en 
jouant. C'est si charmant de jouer et si utile au bon 
fonctionnement humain! II faut se moquer. II faut 
passer, 1'ironie dans les yeux, a travers les mailles des 
lois anti-liberales, et quand on promene a travers nos 
vignes, gens de France, 1'idole gouvernementale, gardez- 
vous d'aucun acte vilain, des gros mots, des violences 
rentrez chez vous, et mettez les volets. Sans avoir rien 
fait que de tres simple et de tres innocent vous vous 
reveillerez plus libres le lendemain." Les Faiseurs de 
Statues. 

"Charmant Tzar, tu la verras chez toi, la Revolution, 
stupide comme le peuple et f eroce comme la bourgeoisie ; 
tu la verras, depassant en animalite et en rapacite san- 
glante tout ce qu'on t'a permis de lire dans les tomes ex- 
purges qui firent ton education." Le Delire Russe. 

"Or un ecrivain, un poete, un philosophe, un homme 
des regions intellectuelles n'a qu'une patrie: sa langue." 
Querelles de Belgique. 

"II faut encore, pour en revenir aux assassins, noter 
que le crime, sauf en des rares cas passionnels, est le 
moyen et non le but.'* Crimes. 

"Le vers traditionnel est patriotique et national ; le vers 
nouveau est anarchiste et sans patrie. II semble que la 
rime riche f asse partie vraiment de la richesse nationale : 
on vole quelquechose a 1'Etat en adoucissant la sonorite 
des ronrons : 'La France, Messieurs, manque de con- 
sonnes d'appui !' D'autre part, 1'emploi de 1'assonnance 
a quelquechose de retrograde qui froisse les vrais demo- 
crates. 



1 82 INSTIGATIONS 

"II est amusant de voir des gens qui ne doivent leur 
etat 'd'hommes modernes' qu'a la fauchaison brutale 
de toutes les traditions Franchises, protester aussi sotte- 
ment centre des innovations non settlement logiques, mais 
inevitables. Ce qui donne quelque valeur a leur acri- 
monie, c'est qu'ils ignorent tout de cette question si com- 
plexe; de la leur liberte critique, n'ayant lu ni Gasto^i 
Paris, ni Darmesteter, ni aucun des ecrivains recents qui 
etudierent avec prudence tant de points obscurs de la 
phonetique et de la rythmique, ils tirent une autorite evi- 
dente de leur incompetence meme." Le Vers Libre et les 
Prochaines Elections. 

"PELEBIN DU SILENCE" (1896) contains "Fleurs de 
Jadis" (1893), "Chateau Singulier" (1894), "Livres des 
Litanies," "Litanie de la Rose"* (1892), Theatre 
Muet, "Le Fantome" (1893). 

"LIVRE DES MASQUES" (1896), not particularly impor- 
tant, though the preface contains a good reformulation: 
as, for example, 

"Le crime capital pour un ecrivain, c'est le confor- 
misme, 1'imitativite, la soumission aux regies et aux en- 
seignements. L'oeuvre d'un ecrivain doit etre non seule- 
ment le reflet, mais le reflet grossi de sa personnalite. La 
seule excuse qu'un homme ait d'ecrire c'est de s'ecrire lui- 
meme, de devoiler aux autres la sort de monde qui se 
mire en son miroir individuel ; Sa seule excuse est d'etre 
original ; il doit dire des choses non encore dites, et les 
dire en une forme non encore formulee. II doit se creer 
sa propre esthetique et nous devrons admettre autant 
d'esthetiques qu'il y a d'esprits originaux et les juger 
d'apres ce qu'elles sont, et non d'apres ce qu'elles ne sont 
pas. 

* Quoted in L, P., February, 1918. 



REMY DE GOURMONT 183 

" L'esthetique est devenue elle aussi, tin talent person- 
nel." * Preface. 

"Comme tous les ecrivains qui sont parvenus a com- 
prendre la vie. c'est-a-dire son mutilite immediate, M. 
Francis Poictevin, bien que ne romancier, a promptement 
renonce au roman. 

"II est tres difficile de persuader a de certains vieillards 
vieux ou jeunes qu'il n'y a pas de sujets ; il n'y a en 
litterature qu'un sujet, celui qui ecrit, et toute la littera- 
ture, c'est-a-dire toute la philosophic, pent surgir aussi 
bien a 1'appel d'un chien ecrase qu'aux acclamations de 
Faust interpellant la Nature: 'Ou te saisir, 6 Nature in- 
finie ? Et vous, mamelles ?' " Francis Poictevin. 

This book is of the '905, of temporary interest, judg- 
ment in mid-career, less interesting now that the com- 
plete works of the subjects are available, or have faded 
from interest. This sort of criticism is a duty imposed 
on a man by his intelligence. The doing it a duty, a 
price exacted for his possession of intelligence. 

In places the careless phrase, phrases careless of sense, 
in places the thing bien dit as in Verlaine. Here and 
there a sharp sentence, as 

"M. Moreas ne comprendra jamais combien il est ridi- 
cule d'appeler Racine le Sophocle de la Ferte Milon." 
or: 

"Parti de la chanson de Saint Leger, il en est, dit-on, 
arrive au XVIIeme. siecle, et cela en moins de dix an- 
nees ; ce n'est pas si decourageant qu'on 1'a cru. Et 
maintenant que les textes se font plus familiers, la route 
s'abrege; d'ici peu de haltes, M. Moreas campera sous le 
vieux chene Hugo et, s'il persevere, nous le verrons at- 

* Each of the senses has its own particular eunuchs. 



184 INSTIGATIONS 

teindre le but de son voyage, qui est sans doute de se re- 
joindre lui-meme." Jean M areas. 

This first "Livre des Masques" is of historical interest, 
as a list of men interesting at their time. It is work done 
in establishing good work, a necessary scaffolding, the 
debt to De Gourmont, because of it, is ethical rather than 
artistic. It is a worthy thing to have done. One should 
not reproach flaws, even if it appears that the author 
wastes time in this criticism, although this particular sort 
of half energy probably wouldn't have been any use for 
more creative or even more formulative writing. It is 
not a carving of statues, but only holding a torch for the 
public; ancillary writing. Local and temporal, introduc- 
ing some men now better known and some, thank 
Heaven, unknown or forgotten. 

"DEUXIEME LIVRE DES MASQUES" (1898), rather more 
important, longer essays, subjects apparently chosen 
more freely, leaves one perhaps more eager to read Al- 
fred Valette's "Le Vierge" than any other book men- 
tioned. 

"Etre nul arrete dans son developpement vers une 
nullite equilibree." 

We find typical Gourmont in the essay on Rictus : 

"Ici c'est 1'idee de la resignation qui trouble le Pauvre ; 
comme tant d'autres, il la confond avec 1'idee bouddhiste 
de non-activite. Cela n'a pas d'autre importance en un 
temps ou Ton confond tout, et ou un cerveau capable 
d'associer et de dissocier logiquement les idees doit etre 
considere comme une production miraculeuse de la 
Nature. 



"Or 1'art ne joue pas; il est grave, meme quand il rit, 
meme quand il danse. II faut encore comprendre qu'en 



REMY DE GOURMONT 185 

art tout ce qui n'est pas necessaire est inutile ; et tout ce 
i|iii L-st inutile est niauvais." J chan Rictus. 
He almost convinces one of Ephraim Mikhail's, poetry, 
by his skillful leading up to quotation of: 

"Mais le ciel gris est plein de tristesse caline 
Ineflfablement douce aux coeurs charges d'ennuis." 
The essay on the Goncourt is important, and we find in 
it typical dissociation. 

"Avec de la patience, on atteint quelquefois Fexacti- 
tude, et avec de la conscience, la veracite; ce sont les 
qualites fondamentales de Fhistoire. 

"Quand on a goute a ce vin on ne vent plus boire 1'ordi- 
naire vinasse des bas litterateurs. Si les Goncourt 
etaient devenus populaires, si la notion du style pouvait 
penetrer dans les cerveaux moyens ! On dit que le peu- 
ple d'Athene avail cette notion. 

"Et surtout quel memorable desinteressement ! En 
tout autre temps nul n'aurait songe a louer Edmond de 
Goncourt pour ce dedain de 1'argent et de la basse popu- 
larite, car 1'amour est exclusif et celui qui aime 1'art 
n'aime que 1'art : mais apres les exemples de toutes les 
avidites qui nous ont ete donnes depuis vingt ans par les 
boursiers des lettres, par la coulisse de la litterature, il 
est juste et necessaire de glorifier, en face de ceux qui 
vivent pour 1'argent, ceux qui vecurent pour Tidee et 
pour 1'art. 

"La place des Goncourt dans 1'histoire litteraire de ce 
siecle sera peut-etre meme aussi grande que celle de 
Flaubert, et ils la devront a leur souci si nouveau, si 
scandaleux, en une litterature alors encore toute rhetori- 
cienne, de la 'non-imitation'; cela a revolutionne le 



186 INSTIGATIONS 

monde de 1'ecriture. Flaubert devait beaucoup a Cha- 
teaubriand : il serait difficile de nommer le maitre des 
Goncourt. Us conquirent pour eux, ensuite pour tous les 
talents, le droit a la personnalite stricte, le droit pour un 
ecrivain de s'avouer tel quel, et rien qu'ainsi, sans s'in- 
quieter des modeles, des regies, de tout le pedantisme 
universitaire et cenaculaire, le droit de se mettre face-a- 
face avec la vie, avec la sensation, avec le reve, avec 
Tidee, de creer sa phrase et meme, dans les limites du 
genie de la langue, sa syntaxe." Les Goncourt. 

One is rather glad M. Hello is dead. Ghil is men- 
tionable, and the introductory note on Felix Feneon is of 
interest. 

Small reviews are praised in the notes on Dujardins 
and Alfred Vallette. 

"II n'y a rien de plus utile que ces revues speciales dont 
le public elu parmi les vrais fideles admet les discussions 
minutieuses, les admirations f ranches." On Edouard 
Dujardins. 

"II arrive dans 1'ordre litteraire qu'une revue fondee 
avec quinze louis a plus d'influence sur la marche des 
idees et par consequent, sur la marche du monde (et peut- 
etre sur la rotation des planetes) que les orgueilleux re- 
cueils de capitaux academiques et de dissertations com- 
merciales." On Alfred Vallette. 

"PROMENADES PHILOSOPHIQUES" (1905-8). One can- 
not brief such work as the Promenades. The sole result 
is a series of aphorisms, excellent perhaps, but without 
cohesion; a dozen or so will show an intelligence, but 
convey neither style nor personality of the author : 

"Sans doute la religion n'est pas vraie, mais l'anti-re- 
ligion n'est pas vraie non plus: la verite reside dans un 
etat parfait d'indifference. 



REMY DE GOURMONT 187 

"Pen importe qu'on me sollicite par des ecrits ou par 
des paroles ; le mal ne commence qu'au moment ou on 
m'y plie par la force." Autre Point de Vue. 

"L'argent est le signe de la liberte. Maudire 1'argent, 
c'est maudire la liberte, c'est maudire la vie qui est nulle 
si elle n'est libre." L 'Argent. 

"Quand on voudra definir la philosophic du XlXeme 
siecle, on s'apercevra qu'il n'a fait que de la theologie. 

"Apprendre pour apprendre est peut-etre aussi grossier 
que manger pour manger. 

"C'est singulier en litterature, quand la forme n'est pas 
nouvelle, le fond ne Test pas non plus. 

"Le nu de Fart contemporain est un nu d'hydrotherapie. 
"L'art doit etre a la mode ou creer la mode. 

"Les pacifistes, de braves gens a genoux, pres d'une 
balance et priant le ciel qu'elle s'incline, non pas selon les 
lois de la pesanteur, mais selon leurs voeux. 

"La propriete est necessaire, mais il ne Test pas qu'elle 
reste tou jours dans les memes mains. 

"II y a une simulation de I'intelligence comme il y a 
une simulation de la vertu. 

"Le roman historique. II y a aussi la peinture his- 



i88 INSTIGATIONS 

torique, 1'architecture historique, et, a la mi-careme, le 
costume historique. 

"Etre impersonnel c'est etre personnel selon un mode 
particulier: Voyez Flaubert. On dirait en jargon: 1'ob- 
jectif est une des formes du subjectif. 

"La maternite, c'est beau, tant qu'on n'y fait pas atten- 
tion. C'est vulgaire des qu'on admire. 

"L'excuse du christianisme, qa a etc son impuissance 
sur la realite. II a corrompu 1'esprit bien plus que la vie. 

"Je ne garantis pas qu'aucune de ces notes ne se trouve 
deja dans un de mes ecrits, ou qu'elle ne figurera pas 
dans un ecrit futur. On les retrouvera peut-etre meme 
dans des ecrits qui ne seront pas les miens." Des Pas sur 
le Sable. 

Those interested in the subject will take "Ls PROB- 
LEME DU STYLE" (1902) entire; the general position may 
perhaps be indicated very vaguely by the following quo- 
tations : 

"Quant a la peur de se gater le style, c'est bon pour un 
Bemho, qui use d'une langue factice. Le style peut se 
fatiguer comme I'homme meme ; il vieillira de meme que 
1'intelligence et la sensibilite dont il est le signe ; mais pas 
plus que Tindividu, il ne changera de personnalite, a 
moins d'un cataclysme psychologique. Le regime ali- 
mentaire, le sejour a la campagne ou a Paris, les occupa- 
tions sentimentales et leurs suites, les maladies ont bien 
plus d'influence sur un style vrai que les mauvaises lec- 
tures. Le style est un prdduit physiologique, et Tun des 
plus constants; quoique dans la dependance des diverses 
fonctions vitales. 

"Les Etats-LTnis tomberaient en langueur, sans les 



REMY DE GOURMONT 189 

voyages en Europe de leur aristocratic, sans la diversite 
extreme des climats, des sols et par consequent des races 
en evolution dans ce vaste empire. Les echanges entre 
peuples sont aussi necessaires a la revigoration de chaque 
peuple que le commerce social a 1'exaltation de 1'energie 
inclividuelle. On n'a pas pris garde a cette necessite 
quand on parle avec regret de 1'influence des litteratures 
etrangeres sur notre litterature. 

"AuJQttrcThui Finfiuence d'Euripide pourrait encore de- 
terminer en un esprit original d'interessantes oeuvres; 
I'imitateur de Racine depasserait a peine le comique in- 
volontaire. L'etude de Racine ne deviendra profitable 
que dans plusieurs siecles et seulement a condition que, 
completement oublie, il semble entierement nouveau, en- 
tierement etranger, tel que le sont devenus pour le public 
d'aujourd'hui Adenes li Rois ou Jean de Meung. Euri- 
pide etait nouveau au XVIIeme siecle. Theocrite 1'etait 
alors que Chenier le transposait. 'Quand je fais des 
vers, insinuait Racine, je songe toujours a dire ce qui ne 
s'est point encore dit dans notre langue.' Andre Chenier 
a voulu exprimer cela aussi dans une phrase maladroite ; 
et s'il ne 1'a dit il 1'a fait. Horace a bafoue les serviles 
imitateurs ; il n'imitait pas les Grecs, il les etudiait. 

' 'Le style est 1'homme meme' est un propos de natural- 
iste, qui sait que le chant des oiseaux est determine par 
la forme de leur bee, Tattache de leur langue, le diametre 
de leur gorge, la capacite de leurs poumons. 

"Le style, c'est de sentir, de voir, de penser, et rien plus. 
"Le style est une specialisation de la sensibilite. 



190 INSTIGATIONS 

"Une idee n'est qu'une sensation defraichie, une image 
effacee. 



"La vie est un depouillement. Le but de 1'activite 
propre d'un homme est de nettoyer sa personnalite, de la 
laver de toutes les souillures qu'y deposa 1'education, de 
la degager de toutes les empreintes qu'y laisserent nos 
admirations adolescentes. 

"Depuis un siecle et demi, les connaissances scien- 
tifiques ont augmente enormement ; 1'esprit scientifique a 
retrograde; il n'y a plus de contact immediat entre ceux 
qui lisent et ceux qui creent la science, et (je cite pour 
la seconde fois la reflexion capitale de Buff on) : 'On 
n'acquiert aucune connaissance transmissible qu'en 
voyant par soi-meme' : Les ouvrages de seconde main 
amusent 1 'intelligence et ne stimulant pas son activite. 

"Rien ne pousse a la concision comme 1'abondance des 
idees." Le Probleme du Style, 1902. 

Christianity lends itself to fanaticism. Barbarian 
ethics proceed by general taboos. The relation of two 
individuals in relation is so complex that no third person 
can pass judgment upon it. Civilization is individual. 
The truth is the individual. The light of the Renais- 
sance shines in Varchi when he declines to pass judgment 
on Lorenzaccio. 

One might make an index of, but one cannot write an 
essay upon, the dozen volumes of Gourmont's collected 
discussions. There was weariness .towards the end of 
his life. It shows in even the leisurely charm of "Lettres 
a rAmazone." There was a final flash in his drawing of 
M. Croquant. 



REMY DE GOURMONT 191 

The list of his chief works published by the Mercure 
cle France, 26 Rue cle Conde, Paris, is as follows : 
"Sixtine." 

"Le Pelerin du Silence." 
"Les Chevaux de Diomede." 
"D'un Pays Lointain." 
"Le So.nge d'une Femme." 
"Lilith, suivi de Theodat." 
"Une Nuit au Luxembourg." 
"Un Coeur Virginal." 
"Couleurs, suivi de Choses Anciennes." 
"Histoires Magiques." 
"Lettres d'un Satyre." 
"Le Chat de Misere. 
"Simone." 

CRITIQUE 

"Le Latin Mystique." 

"Le Livre des Masques" (ler. et Ileme). 

"La Culture des Idees." 

"Le Chemin de Velours." 

"Le Probleme du Style." 

"Physique de TAmour." 

"Epilogues." 

"Esthetique de la Langue Frangaise." 

"Promenades Litteraires." 

"Promenades Philosophiques." 

"Dialogue des Amateurs sur les Choses du Temps." 

"Nouveaux Dialogues des Amateurs sur les Choses du 

Temps." 

"Dante, Beatrice et la Poesie Amoureuse." 
"Pendant 1'Orage." 



192 INSTIGATIONS 

De Gourmont's readiness to cooperate in my first plans 
for establishing some sort of periodical to maintain com- 
munications between New York, London and Paris, was 
graciously shown in the following (post-mark June 13, 

15): 

Dwnanche. 
Cher Monsieur: 

J'ai lu avec plaisir votre longue lettre, qui m'expose si 
clairement la necessite d'une revue unissant les efforts des 
Americains, des Anglais, et des Frangais. Pour cela, je 
vous servirai autant qu'il sera en mon pouvoir. Je ne 
crois pas que je puisse beaucoup. J'ai une mauvaise 
sante et je suis extremement fatigue; je ne pourrai vous 
donner que des choses tres courtes, des indications d'idees 
plutot que des pages accomplies, mais je ferai de mon 
mieux. J'espere que vous reussirez a mettre debout cette 
petite affaire litteraire et que vous trouverez parmi nous 
des concours utiles.- Evidemment si nous pourions ame- 
ner les Americains a mieux sentir la vraie litterature f ran- 
gaise et surtout a ne pas la confondre avec tant d'oeuvres 
courantes si mediocres, cela serait un resultat tres heu- 
reux. Sont-ils capables d'assez de liberte d'esprit pour 
lire, sans etre choques, mes livres par example, elle est 
bien douteux et il faudrait pour cela un long travail de 
preparation. Mais pourquoi ne pas 1'entreprendre ? En 
tous les pays, il y a un noyau de bons esprits, d'esprits 
libres, il faut leur donner quelque chose qui les change 
de la fadeur des magazines, quelque chose qui leur donne 
confiance en eux-memes et leur soit un point d'appui. 
Comme vous le dites, il faudra pour commencer les 
amener a respecter rindividualisme frangais, le sens de 
la liberte que quelques uns d'entre nous possedent a un 
si haut point. Us comprennent cela en theologie. Pour- 
quoi ne le comprendraient-ils pas en art, en poesie, en 



REMY DE GOURMONT 193 

litterature, en philosophic. II faut leur faire voir s'ils 
ne le voient pas deja que rindividualisme frangais peut, 
quand il le faut, se plier aux plus dures disciplines. 

Conquerir 1'Americain n'est pas sans doute votre seul 
but. Le but du Mercure a etc de permettre a ceux qui 
en valent la peine d'ecrire franchement ce qu'il pense 
seul plaisir d'un ecrivain. Cela doit aussi etre If. votre. 
Votre bien devoue, 

Remy de Gourmont. 

"The aim of the Mercure has been to permit any man, 
who is worth it, to write down his thought frankly 
this is a writer's sole pleasure. And this aim should be 
yours." 

"Are they capable of enough mental liberty to read my 
books, for example, without being horrified? I think 
this very doubtful, and it will need long preparation. 
But why not try it ? There are in all countries knots of 
intelligent people, open-minded ; one must give something 
to relieve them from the staleness of magazines, some- 
thing which will give them confidence in themselves and 
serve as a rallying point. As you say, one must begin by 
getting them to respect French individualism ; the sense 
of liberty which some of us have in so great degree. 
They understand this in theology, why should they not 
understand it in art, poetry, literature ?" 

If only my great correspondent could have seen letters 
I received about this time from English alleged intellec- 
tuals !!!!!!! The incredible stupidity, the ingrained re- 
fusal of thought ! ! ! ! ! Of which more anon, if I can 
bring myself to it. Or let it pass? Let us say simply 
that De Gourmont's words form an interesting contrast 
with the methods employed by the British literary epis- 



194 INSTIGATIONS 

copacy to keep one from writing what one thinks, or to 
punish one (financially) for having done so. 

Perhaps as a warning to young writers who can not 
afford the loss, one would be justified in printing the 
following : 

500. Albermarle Street, London W. 
22 October, '14. 
Dear Mr. Pound: 

Many thanks for your letter of the other day. I am 
afraid I must say frankly that I do not think I can open 
the columns of the Q. R. at any rate, at present to any 
one associated publicly with such a publication as Blast. 
It stamps a man too disadvantageously. 

Yours truly, 

G. W. Prothero. 

Of course, having accepted your paper on the Noh, I 
could not refrain from publishing it. But other things 
would be in a different category. 

I need scarcely say that The Quarterly Review is one 
of the most profitable periodicals in England, and one of 
one's best "connections," or sources of income. It has, 
of course, a tradition. 

"It is not that Mr. Keats (if that be his real name, for 
we almost doubt that any man in his senses would put 
his real name to such a rhapsody)" 

write their Gifford of Keats' "Endymion." My only com- 
ment is that the Quarterly has done it again. Their Mr. 
A. Waugh is a lineal descendant of Gifford, by way of 
mentality. A century has not taught them manners. In 
the eighteen forties they were still defending the review 



REMY DE GOURMONT 195 

of Keats. And more recently Waugh has lifted up his 
senile slobber against Mr. Eliot. It is indeed time that 
the functions of both English and American literature 
were taken over by younger and better men. 

As for their laying the birch on my pocket. I compute 
that my support of Lewis and Brzeska has cost me at the 
lowest estimate about 20 per year, from one source 
alone since that regrettable occurrence, since I dared to 
discern a great sculptor and a great painter in the midst 
of England's artistic desolation. ("European and Asiatic 
papers please copy.") 

Young men, desirous of finding before all things 
smooth berths and elderly consolations, are cautioned to 
behave more circumspectly. 

The generation that preceded us does not care much 
whether we understand French individualism, or the 
difference between the good and bad in French literature. 
Nor is it conceivable that any of them would write to a 
foreigner : "indications of ideas, rather than work ac- 
complished, but I will send you my best." 

De Gourmont's next communication to me was an in- 
quiry about Gaudier-Brzeska's sculpture. 



IV 
IN THE VORTEX 



Eliot 

Joyce 

Lewis 

An historical essayist 

The new poetry 

Breviora 

T. S. ELIOT 

// n'y a de livres que ceux ou un ecrivain s'est raconte 
lm-mcnie en racontant les moeurs de ses contemporains 
leurs reves, leurs vanites, leurs amours, et leurs folies. 
Remy de Gourmont. 

De Gourmont uses this sentence in writing of the in- 
contestable superiority of "Madame Bovary," "L'Educa- 
tion Sentimentale" and ''Bouvard et Pecuchet" to "Sa- 
lammbo'' and "La Tentation de St. Antoine." A casual 
thought convinces one that it is true for all prose. Is it 
true also for poetry? One may give latitude to the in- 
terpretation of rcves; the gross public would have the 
poet write little else, but De Gourmont keeps a propor- 
tion. The vision should have its place in due setting if 
we are to believe its reality. 

* Prufrock and Other Observations, by T. S. Eliot. The 
Egoist, London. Essay first published in Poetry, 1917. 

196 



IN THE VORTEX 197 

The few poems which Mr. Eliot has given us maintain 
this proportion, as they maintain other proportions of art. 
After much contemporary work that is merely factitious, 
much that is good in intention but impotently unfinished 
and incomplete ; much whose flaws are due to sheer igno- 
rance which a year's study or thought might have reme- 
died, it is a comfort to come upon complete art, naive 
despite its intellectual subtlety, lacking all pretense. 

It is quite safe to compare Mr. Eliot's work with any- 
thing written in French, English or American since the 
death of Jules Laforgue. The reader will find nothing 
better, and he will be extremely fortunate if he finds 
much half as good. 

The necessity, or at least the advisability of comparing 
English or American work with French work is not 
readily granted by the usual English or American writer. 
If you suggest it, the Englishman answers that he has 
not thought about it he does not see why he should 
bother himself about what goes on south of the channel ; 
the American replies by stating that you are "no longer 
American." This is the bitterest jibe in his vocabulary. 
The net result is that it is extremely difficult to read one's 
Contemporaries. After a time one tires of "promise." 

I should like the reader to note how complete is Mr. 
Eliot's depiction of our contemporary condition. He has 
not confined himself to genre nor to society portraiture. 
His 

lonely men in shirt-sleeves leaning out of windows 
are as real as his ladies who 

come and go 
Talking of Michelangelo. 

His "one night cheap hotels" are as much "there" as are 
his 






198 INSTIGATIONS 

four wax candles in the darkened room, 
Four rings of light upon the ceiling overhead, 
An atmosphere of Juliet's tomb. 

And, above all, there is no rhetoric, although there is 
Elizabethan reading in the background. Were I a French 
critic, skilled in their elaborate art of writing books about 
books, I should probably go to some length discussing 
Mr. Eliot's two sorts of metaphor: his wholly unrealiz- 
able, always apt, half ironic suggestion, and his precise 
realizable picture. It would be possible to point out his 
method of conveying a whole situation and half a char- 
acter by three words of a quoted phrase; his constant 
aliveness, his mingling of very subtle observation with 
the unexpectedness of a backhanded cliche. It is, how- 
ever, extremely dangerous to point out such devices. The 
method is Mr. Eliot's own, but as soon as one has re- 
duced even a fragment of it to formula, some one else, 
not Mr. Eliot, some one else wholly lacking in his apti- 
tudes, will at once try to make poetry by mimicking his 
external procedure. And this indefinite "some one" will, 
needless to say, make a botch of it. 

For what the statement is worth, Mr. Eliot's work in- 
terests me more than that of any other poet now writing 
in English.* The most interesting poems in Victorian 
English are Browning's "Men and Women," or, if that 
statement is too absolute, let me contend that the form 
of these poems is the most vital form of that period of 
English, and that the poems written in that form are the 
least like each other in content. Antiquity gave us Ovid's 
"Heroides" and Theocritus' woman using magic. The 
form of Browning's "Men and Women" is more alive 

*A. D. 1917. 



IN THE VORTEX 199 

than the epistolary form of the "Heroides." Browning 
included a certain amount of ratiocination and of purely 
intellectual comment, and in just that proportion he lost 
intensity. Since Browning there have been very few good 
poems of this sort. Mr. Eliot has made two notable ad- 
ditions to the list. And he has placed his people in con- 
temporary settings, which is much more difficult than to 
render them with mediaeval romantic trappings. If it 
is permitted to make comparison with a different art, let 
me say that he has used contemporary detail very much 
as Velasquez used contemporary detail in ''Las Meninas" ; 
the cold gray-green tones of the Spanish painter have, it 
seems to me, an emotional value not unlike the emotional 
value of Mr. Eliot's rhythms, and of his vocabulary. 

James Joyce has written the best novel of my decade, 
and perhaps the best criticism of it has come from a Bel- 
gian who said, "All this is as true of my country as of 
Ireland." Eliot has a like ubiquity of application. Art 
does not avoid universals, it strikes at them all the harder 
in that it strikes through particulars. Eliot's work rests 
apart from that of the many new writers who have used 
the present freedoms to no advantage, who have gained 
no new precisions of language, and no variety in their 
cadence. His men in shirt-sleeves, and his society ladies, 
are not a local manifestation; they are the stuff of our 
modern world, and true of more countries than one. I 
would praise the work for its fine tone, its humanity, and 
its realism; for all good art is realism of one sort or an- 
)ther. 

It is complained that Eliot is lacking in emotion. "La 

jlia che Piange" is an adequate confutation. 

If the reader wishes mastery of "regular form," the 
mversation Galante" is sufficient to show that symmet- 

:al form is within Mr. Eliot's grasp. You will hardly 



200 [NSTIGATIONS 

find such neatness save in France ; such modern neatness, 
save in Laforgue. 

De Gourmont's phrase to the contrary notwithstanding, 
the supreme test of a book is that we should feel some 
unusual intelligence working behind the words. By this 
test various other new books, that I have, or might have, 
beside me, go to pieces. The barrels of sham poetry that 
every decade and school and fashion produce, go to 
pieces. It is sometimes extremely difficult to find any 
other particular reason for their being so unsatisfactory. 
I have expressly written here not "intellect" but "intelli- 
gence." There is no intelligence without emotion. The 
emotion may be anterior or concurrent. There may be 
emotion without much intelligence, but that does not con- 
cern us. 

Versification: 

A conviction as to the Tightness or wrongness of vers 
libre is no guarantee of a poet. I doubt if there is much 
use trying to classify the various kinds of vers libre, but 
there is an anarchy which may be vastly overdone ; and 
there is a monotony of bad usage as tiresome as any 
typical eighteenth or nineteenth century flatness. 

In a recent article Mr. Eliot contended, or seemed to 
contend, that good vers libre was little more than a skilful 
evasion of the better known English metres. His article 
was defective in that he omitted all consideration of 
metres depending on quantity, alliteration, etc.; in fact, 
he wrote as if metres were measured by accent. This 
may have been tactful on his part, it may have brought 
his article nearer to the comprehension of his readers 
(that is, those of the "New Statesman," people chiefly 
concerned with sociology of the "button" and "unit" vari- 
ety). But he came nearer the fact when he wrote else- 



IN TF1K VORTEX 2< 

where : "No vers is libre for the man who wants to do 
good job." 

Alexandrine and other grammarians have made cubb 
holes for various groupings of syllables ; they have p 
names upon them, and have given various labels 
"metres" consisting of combinations of these differe 
groups. Thus it would be hard to escape contact wi 
some group or other ; only an encyclopedist could ever 1 
half sure he had done so. The known categories wou 
allow a fair liberty to the most conscientious tradition* 
ist. The most fanatical vers-librist will escape the 
with difficulty. However, I do not think there is any cr 
ing need for verse with absolutely no rhythmical basis. 

On the other hand, I do not believe that Chopin wrc 
to a metronome. There is undoubtedly a sense of mus 
that takes count of the "shape" of the rhythm in a m< 
ody rather than of bar divisions, which came rather la 
in the history of written music and were certainly n 
the first or most important thing that musicians attempt 
to record. The creation of such shapes is part of tli 
matic invention. Some musicians have the faculty of i 
vention, rhythmic, melodic. Likewise some poets. 

Treatises full of musical notes and of long and she 
marks have never been convincingly useful. Find 
man with thematic invention and all he can say is th 
he gets what the Celts call a "chune" in his head, and th 
the words "go into it," or when they don't "go into i 
they "stick out and worry him." 

You can not force a person to play a musical mast* 
piece correctly, even by having the notes "correctl 
printed on the paper before him; neither can you for 
a person to feel the movement of poetry, be the met 
"regular" or "irregular." I have heard Mr. Yeats tr 
ing to read Burns, struggling in vain to fit the "Birks 



202 INSTIGATIONS 

Aberfeldy" and "Bonnie Alexander" into the mournful 
keen of the "Wind among the Reeds/' Even in regular 
metres there are incompatible systems of music. 

I have heard the best orchestral conductor in England 
read poems in free verse, poems in which the rhythm was 
so faint as to be almost imperceptible. He read them 
with the author's cadence, with flawless correctness. A 
distinguished statesman read from the same book, with 
the intonations of a legal document, paying no attention to 
the movement inherent in the words before him. I have 
heard a celebrated Dante scholar and mediaeval enthusi- 
ast read the sonnets of the "Vita Nuova" as if they were 
not only prose, but the ignominious prose of a man de- 
void of emotions : an utter castration. 

The leader of orchestra said to me, "There is more for 
a musician in a few lines with something rough or un- 
even, such as Byron's 

There be none of Beauty's daughters 

With a magic like thee; 
than in whole pages of regular poetry." 

Unless a man can put some thematic invention into 
vers libre, he would perhaps do well to stick to "regular" 
metres, which have certain chances of being musical from 
their form, and certain other chances of being musical 
through his failure in fitting the form. In vers libre his 
musical chances are but in sensitivity and invention. 

Mr. Eliot is one of the very few who have given a 
personal rhythm, an identifiable quality of sound as well 
as of style. And at any rate, his book is the best thing 
in poetry since . . . (for the sake of peace I will leave 
that date to the imagination). I have read most of the 
poems many times; I last read the \v r hole book at break- 
fast time and from flimsy proof-sheets : I believe these 
are "test conditions." And, "confound it, the fellow can 
write." 



IN T1IK VORTEX 203 

JOYCE * 

DESPITE the War, despite the paper shortage, and de- 
spite those old-established publishers whose god is their 
belly and whose god- father was the late F. T. Palgrave, 
there is a new edition of James Joyce's "A Portrait of 
the Artist as a Young Man." t It is extremely gratifying 
that this book should have "reached its fourth thousand," 
and the fact is significant in just so far as it marks the 
beginning of a new phase of English publishing, a phase 
comparable to that started in France some years ago by 
the Mercure. 

The old houses, even those, or even more those, which 
once had a literary tradition, or at least literary preten- 
sions, having ceased to care a damn about literature, the 
lovers of good writing have "struck"; have sufficiently 
banded themselves together to get a few good books into 
print, and even into circulation. The actual output is 
small in bulk, a few brochures of translations, Eliot's 
"Prufrock," Joyce's "A Portrait," and Wyndham Lewis' 
"Tarr," but I have it on good authority that at least one 
other periodical will start publishing its authors after the 
War, so there are new rods in pickle for the old fat-stom- 
ached contingent and for the cardboard generation. 

Joyce's "A Portrait" is literature ; it has become almost 
the prose bible of a few people, and I think I have en- 
countered at least three hundred admirers of the book, 
certainly that number of people who, whether they "like" 
it or not, are wholly convinced of its merits. 

Mr. Wells I have encountered in print, where he says 
that Joyce has a cloacal obsession, but he also says that 
Mr. Joyce writes literature and that his book is to be 
ranked with the works of Sterne and of Swift. 

* The Future, May, 1918. 

t "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man." Egoist, Ltd. 
London. Huebsch, New York. 



204 INSTIGATIONS 

Wells is no man to babble of obsessions, but let it 
stand to his honor that he came out with a fine burst of 
admiration for a younger and half -known writer. 

From England and America there has come a finer 
volume of praise for this novel than for any that I can 
remember. There has also come impotent spitting and 
objurgation from the back- woods and from Mr. Dent's 
office boy, and, as offset, interesting comment in modern 
Greek, French and Italian. 

Joyce's poems have been reprinted by Elkin Mathews, 
his short stories re-issued, and a second novel started in 
"The Little Review." 

For all the book's being so familiar, it is pleasant to 
take up "A Portrait" in its new exiguous form, and one 
enters many speculations, perhaps more than when one 
read it initially. It is not that one can open to a forgot- 
ten page so much as that wherever one opens there is 
always a place to start; some sentence like 

"Stephen looked down coldly on the oblong skull be- 
neath him overgrown with tangled twine-colored hair" ; 
or 

"Frowsy girls sat along the curbstones before their 
baskets" ; or 

"He drained his third cup of watery tea to the dregs 
and set to chewing the crusts of fried bread that were 
scattered near him, staring into the dark pool of the jar. 
The yellow dripping had been scooped out like a boghqle, 
and the pool under it brought back to his memory the 
dark turf-colored water of the bath in Clongowes. The 
box of pawntickets at his elbow had just been rifled, and 
he took up idly one after another in his greasy fingers the 
blue and white dockets, scrawled and sanded and creased 
and bearing the name of the pledger as Daly or MacEvoy. 

"i Pair Buskins, &c." 



IN THE VORTEX 205 

I do not mean to imply that a novel is necessarily a 
bad novel because one can pick it up without being in 
this manner caught and dragged into reading; but I do 
indicate the curiously seductive interest of the clear-cut 
and definite sentences. 

Neither, emphatically, is it to be supposed that Joyce's 
writing is merely a depiction of the sordid. The sordid 
is there in all conscience as you would find it in De Gon- 
court, but Joyce's power is in his scope. The reach of 
his writing is from the fried breadcrusts and from the 
fig-seeds in Cranley's teeth to the casual discussion of 
Aquinas : 

"He wrote a hymn for Maundy Thursday. It begins 
with the words Pange lingua gloriosi. They say it is the 
highest glory of the hymnal. It is an intricate and sooth- 
ing hymn. I like it ; but there is no hymn that can be put 
beside that mournful and majestic processional song, the 
Vexilla Regis of Venantius Fortunatus. 

"Lynch began to sing softly and solemnly in a deep 
bass voice : 

'Impleta sunt quae concinit 
David fideli carmine . . . .' 

"They turned into Lower Mount Street. A few steps 
from the corner a fat young man, wearing a silk neck- 
cloth, &c." 

On almost every page of Joyce you will find just such 
swift alternation of subjective beauty and external shab- 
biness, squalor, and sordidness. It is the bass and treble 
of his method. And he has his scope beyond that of the 
novelists his contemporaries, in just so far as whole 
stretches of his keyboard are utterly out of their com- 
pass. 

The conclusion or moral termination from all of which 
is that the great writers of any period must be the re- 



206 INSTIGATIONS 

markable minds of that period ; they must know the ex- 
tremes of their time; they must not represent a social 
status; they cannot be the "Grocer" or the "Dilettante" 
with the egregious and capital letter, nor yet the profes- 
sor or the professing wearer of Jaeger or professional 
eater of herbs. 

In the three hundred pages of "A Portrait of the 
Artist as a Young Man" there is no omission; there is 
nothing in life so beautiful that Joyce cannot touch it 
without profanation without, above all, the profana- 
tions of sentiment and sentimentality and there is 
nothing so sordid that he cannot treat it with his metafH 
lie exactitude. 

I think there are few people who can read Shaw, Wells, 
Bennett, or even Conrad (who is in a category apart) 
without feeling that there are values and tonalities to 
which these authors are wholly insensitive. I do not 
imply that there cannot be excellent art within quite dis- 
tinct limitations, but the artist cannot afford to be or to 
appear ignorant of such limitations; he cannot afford a 
pretense of such ignorance. He must almost choose his 
limitations. If he paints a snuff-box or a stage scene he 
must not be ignorant of the fact, he must not think he is 
painting a landscape, three feet by two feet, in oils. 

I think that what tires me more than anything else in 
the writers now past middle age is that they always seem 
to imply that they are giving us all modern life, the whole 
social panorama, all the instruments of the orchestra. 
Joyce is of another donation. 

His earlier book, "Dubliners," contained several well- 
constructed stories, several sketches rather lacking in 
form. It was a definite promise of what was to come. 
There is very little to be said in praise of it which would 
not apply with greater force to "A Portrait." I find that 



IN THE VORTEX 207 

whoever reads one book inevitably sets out in search of 
the other. 

The quality and distinction of the poems in the first 
half of Mr. Joyce's "Chamber Music" (new edition, pub- 
lished by Elkin Mathews, 4A, Cork Street, W.I, at is. 
3d.) is due in part to their author's strict musical train- 
ing. We have here the lyric in some of its best tradi- 
tions, and one pardons certain trifling inversions, much 
against the taste of the moment, for the sake of the clean- 
cut ivory finish, and for the interest of the rhythms, the 
cross run of the beat and the word, as of a stiff wind 
cutting the ripple-tops of bright water. 

The wording is Elizabethan, the metres at times sug- 
gesting Herrick, but in no case have I been able to 
find a poem which is not in some way Joyce's own, even 
though he would seem, and that most markedly, to shun 
apparent originality, as in: 

Who goes amid the green wood 
With springtide all adorning her? 

Who goes amid the merry green wood 
To make it merrier? 

Who passes in the sunlight 

By ways that know the light footfall ? 

Who passes in the sweet sunlight 
With mien so virginal? 

The ways of all the woodland 

Gleam with a soft and golden fire 

For whom does all the sunny woodland 
Carry so brave attire ? 



2o8 INSTIGATIONS 

O, it is for my true love 

The woods their rich apparel wear 
O, it is for my true love, 

That is so young and fair. 

Here, as in nearly every poem, the motif is so slight 
that the poem scarcely exists until one thinks of it as set 
to music ; and the workmanship is so delicate that out of 
twenty readers scarce one will notice its fineness. If 
Henry Lawes were alive again he might make the suit- 
able music, for the cadence is here worthy of his cun- 
ning: 

O, it is for my true love, 
That is so young and fair. 

The musician's work is very nearly done for him, and 
yet how few song-setters could be trusted to finish it and 
to fill in an accompaniment. 

The tone of the book deepens with the poem begin- 
ning: 

O sweetheart, hear you 

Your lover's tale; 
A man shall have sorrow 

When friends him fail. 

For he shall know then 

Friends be untrue ; 
And a little ashes 

Their words come to. 

The collection comes to its end and climax in two pro- 
foundly emotional poems ; quite different in tonality and 



IN THE VORTEX 209 

in rhythm-quality from the lyrics in the first part of the 
book : 

All day I hear the noise of waters 

Making moan, 
Sad as the sea-bird is, when going 

Forth alone, 
He hears the wind cry to the waters' 

Monotone. 

The gray winds, the cold winds are blowing 

Where I go. 
I hear the noise of many waters 

Far below. 
All day, all night, I hear them flowing 

To and fro. 

The third and fifth lines should not be read with an 
end stop. I think the rush of the words will escape the 
notice of scarcely any one. The phantom hearing in this 
poem is coupled, in the next poem, to phantom vision, 
and to a robustezza of expression : 

I hear an army charging upon the land, 

And the thunder of horses plunging, foam about their 

knees ; 
Arrogant, in black armour, behind them stand, 

Disdaining the reins, with fluttering whips, the chari- 
oteers. 

They cry unto the night their battle-name ; 

I moan in sleep when I hear afar their whirling laugh- 
ter; 
They cleave the gloom of dreams, a blinding flame, 

Clanging, clanging upon the heart as upon an anvil. 



210 INSTIGATIONS 

They come shaking in triumph their long green hair ; 
They come out of the sea and run shouting by the 

shore : 
My heart, have you no wisdom thus to despair? 

My love, my love, my love, why have you left me 
alone ? 

In both these poems we have a strength and a fibrous- 
ness of sound which almost prohibits the thought of their 
being "set to music/' or to any music but that which is in 
them when spoken ; but we notice a similarity of the 
technique to that of the earlier poems, in so far as the 
beauty of movement is produced by a very skilful, or per- 
haps we should say a deeply intuitive, interruption of 
metric mechanical regularity. It is the irregularity which 
has shown always in the best periods. 

The book is an excellent antidote for those who find 
Mr. Joyce's prose "disagreeable" and who at once fly to 
conclusions about Mr. Joyce's "cloacal obsessions." I 
have yet to find in Joyce's published works a violent or 
malodorous phrase which does not justify itself not only 
by its verity, but by its heightening of some opposite ef- 
fect, by the poignancy which it imparts to some emotion 
or to some thwarted desire for beauty. Disgust with the 
sordid is but another expression of a sensitiveness to the 
finer thing. There is no perception of beauty without a 
corresponding disgust. If the price for such artists as 
James Joyce is exceeding heavy, it is the artist himself 
who pays, and if Armageddon has taught us anything it 
should have taught us to abominate the half-truth, and 
the tellers of the half-truth in literature. 

ULYSSES 
INCOMPLETE as I write this. His profoundest work, 



IX THE VORTEX 211 

jimost significant "Exiles" was a side-step, necessary ka- 
[tharsis, clearance of mind from continental contempo- 
'irary thought "Ulysses," obscure, even obscene, as life 
[itself is obscene in places, but an impassioned meditation 
lion life. 

He has done what Flaubert set out to do in "Bouvard 
and Pecuchet," done it better, more succinct. An epitome. 

"Bloom" answers the query that people made after 
"The Portrait." Joyce has created his second charac- 
ter ; he has moved from autobiography to the creation 
of the complimentary figure. Bloom on life, death, res- 
urrection, immortality. Bloom and the Venus de Milo. 

Bloom brings life into the book. All Bloom is vital. 
Talk of the other characters, cryptic, perhaps too partic- 
ular, incomprehensible save to people who know Dublin, 
at least by hearsay, and who have university education 
pins medievalism. But unavoidable or almost unavoid- 
able, given the subject and the place of the subject. 

NOTE: I am tired of rewriting the arguments for the realist 
novel : besides there is nothing to add. The Brothers de Goncourt 
said the thing once and for all, but despite the lapse of time 
their work is still insufficiently known to the American reader. 
The program in the preface to "Germinie Lacerteux" states the 
case and the whole case for realism ; one can not improve the 
statement. I therefore give it entire, ad majoram Dei gloriam. 

"PREFACE 
De la premiere edition 

II nous faut demander pardon au public de lui donner 
ce livre, et 1'avertir de ce qu'il y trouvera. 

Le public aime les romans faux : ce roman est un ro- 
man vrai. 

II aime les livres qui font semblant d'aller dans le 
monde : ce livre vient de la rue. 



212 INSTIGATIONS 

II aime les petites oeuvres polissonnes, ies memoires 
de filles, les confessions d'alcoves, les saletes erotiques, 
le scandale qui se retrousse dans une image aux devan- 
tures des libraires, ce qu'il va lire est severe et pur. 
Qu'il ne s'attende point a la photographic decolletee du 
plaisir : 1'etude qui suit est la clinique de I'Amour. 

Le public aime encore les lectures anodines et conso- 
lantes, les aventures qui finissent bien, les imaginations 
qui ne derangent ni sa digestion ni sa serenite: ce livre, 
avec sa triste et violente distraction, est fait pour con- 
trarier ses habitudes et nuire a son hygiene. 

Pourquoi done 1'avons-nous ecrit? Est-ce simple- 
ment pour choquer le public et scandaliser ses gouts? 

Non. 

Vivant au dix-neuvieme siecle, dans un temps de suf- 
frage universe!, de democratic, de liberalisme, nous nous 
sommes demande si ce qu'on appelle "les basses classes" 
n'avait pas droit au roman ; si ce monde sous un monde, 
le peuple, devait rester sous le coup de 1'interdit litter- 
aire et des dedains d'auteurs qui ont fait jusqu'ici le 
silence sur Tame et le coeur qu'il peut avoir. Nous 
nous sommes demande s'il y avait encore, pour 1'ecrivain 
et pour le lecteur, en ces annees d'egalite ou nous sommes, 
des classes indignes, des malheurs trop bas, des drames 
trop mal embouches, des catastrophe- d'une terreur trop 
peu noble. II nous est venu la curiosite de savoir si 
cette forme conventionnelle d'une litterature oubliee et 
d'une societe disparue, la Tragedie, etait definitivement 
morte; si, dans un pas sans caste et sans aristocratic 
legale, les miseres des petits et des pauvres parleraient 
a 1'interet, a 1'emotion, a la pitie aussi haut que les 
miseres des grands et des riches; si, en un mot, les 
larmes qu'on pleure en bas pourraient faire pleurer 
comme celles qu'on pleure en haut. 



IN THE VORTEX 213 

Ces pensees nous avaient fait oser 1'humble roman de 
j'Soeur Philomene,' en 1861 ; elles nous font publier 
liaujourd'hui 'Germinie Lacerteux.' 

Maintenant, que ce livre soit calomnie : peu lui importe. 

Aujourd'hui que le Roman s'elargit et grandit, qu'il 

commence a etre la grande forme serieuse, passionnee, 

vivante, de 1'etude litteraire et de 1'enquete sociale, qu'il 

jdevient, par 1'analyse et par la recherche psychologique, 

1'Histoire morale contemporaine, aujourd'hui que le 

Roman s'est impose les etudes et les devoirs de la science, 

jil peut en revendiquer les libertes et les franchises. Et 

iqu'il cherche 1'Art et la Verite; qu'il montre des miseres 

! bonnes a ne pas laisser oublier aux heureux de Paris ; qu'il 

'fasse voir aux gens du monde ce que les dames de 

charite ont le courage de voir, ce que les reines d'autre- 

! fois f aisaient toucher de 1'oeil a leurs enf ants dans les 

hospices : la souffrance humaine, presente et toute vive, 

jqui apprend la charite; que le Roman ait cette religion 

que le siecle passe appelait de ce large et vaste nom: 

Hitmanite; il lui suffit de cette conscience: son droit 

|est la. 

E. et J, de G!' 

WYNDHAM LEWIS 

THE signal omission from my critical papers is an 
adequate book on Wyndham Lewis ; my excuses, apart 
from the limitations of time, must be that Mr. Lewis is 
alive and quite able to speak for himself, secondly, that 
one may print half-tone reproductions of sculpture, for 
however unsatisfactory they be, they pretend to be. only 
half-tones, and could not show more than they do; but 
the reproduction of drawings and painting invites all 
sorts of expensive process impracticable during the 



2i 4 INSTIGATIONS 

years of war. When the public or the "publishers" are 
ready for a volume of Lewis, suitably illustrated, I am 
ready to write in the letterpress, though Mr. Lewis 
would do it better than I could. 

He will rank among the great instigators and great 
inventors of design; there is mastery in his use of vari- 
ous media (my own interest in his work centres largely 
in the "drawing" completed with inks, water-color, 
chalk, etc.). His name is constantly bracketed with 
that of Gaudier, Piccasso, Joyce, but these are fortuitous 
couplings. Lewis' painting is further from the public 
than were the carvings of Gaudier ; Lewis is an older 
artist, maturer, fuller of greater variety and invention. 
His work is almost unknown to the public. His name 
is wholly familiar, BLAST is familiar, the "Timon" 
portfolio has been seen. 

I had known him for seven years, known him as an 
artist, but I had no idea of his scope until he began mak- 
ing his preparations to go into the army ; so careless had 
he been of any public or private approval. The "work" 
lay in piles on the floor of an attic ; and from it we 
gathered most of the hundred or hundred and twenty 
drawings which now form the bases of the Quinn col- 
lection and of the Baker collection, (now in the South 
Kensington museum). 

As very few people have seen all of these pictures very 
few people are in any position to contradict me. There 
are three of his works in this room and I can attest 
their wearing capacity ; as I can attest the duration of 
my regret for the Red drawing now in the Quinn col- 
lection which hung here for some months waiting ship- 
ment ; as I can attest the energy and vitality that filled 
this place while forty drawings of the Quinn assortme 
stood here waiting also ; a demonstration of the diffei 



TN THE VORTEX 215 

pnce between "cubism," nature -morte-isin arid the vortex 
pf Lewis : sun, energy, sombre emotion, clean-drawing, 
pisgust, penetrating analysis from the qualities finding 
literary expression in "Tarr" to the stasis of the Red 
Duet, from the metallic gleam of the "Timon" portfolio 
to the velvet-suavity of the later "Timon" of the Baker 
pollection. 

The animal ity and the animal satire, the dynamic and 
metallic properties, the social satire, on the one hand, 
the sunlight, the utter cleanness of the Red Duet, are 
all points in an astounding circumference; which will, 
iuntil the work is adequately reproduced, have more or 
less to be taken on trust by the "wider" public. 

The novel "Tarr" is in print and no one need bother 
to read my critiques of it. It contains much that Joyce's 
work does not contain, but differentiations between the 
two authors are to the detriment of neither, one tries 
i5olely to discriminate qualities: hardness, fullness, abun- 
jdance, weight, finish, all terms used sometimes with 
derogatory and sometimes with laudative intonation, or 
at any rate valued by one auditor and depreciated by 
another. The English prose fiction of my decade is the 
Uork of this pair of authors. 

"TARR," BY WYNDHAM LEWIS* 

"Tarr" is the most vigorous and volcanic English novel 
pf our time. Lewis is the rarest of phenomena, an Eng- 
lishman who has achieved the triumph of being also a 
European. He is the only English writer who can be 
compared with Dostoievsky, and he is more rapid than 
Dostoievsky, his mind travels with greater celerity, with 
more unexpectedness, but he loses none of Dostoievsky's 
effect of mass and of weight, 

* Little Review. 



216 INSTIGATIONS 

Tarr is a man of genius surrounded by the heavy stu- 
pidities of the half-cultured latin quarter; the book de- 
lineates his explosions in this oleaginous milieu; as well 
as the debacle of the unintelligent emotion-dominated 
Kreisler. They are the two titanic characters in con- 
temporary English fiction. Wells's clerks, Bennett's 
"cards" and even Conrad's Russian villains do not "bulk 
up" against them. 

Only in James Joyce's "Stephen Dedalus" does one find 
an equal intensity, and Joyce is, by comparison, cold and 
meticulous, where Lewis is, if uncouth, at any rate brim- 
ming with energy, the man with a leaping mind. 

Despite its demonstrable faults I do not propose to 
attack this novel.* It is a serious work, it is definitely 
an attempt to express, and very largely a success in ex- 
pressing, something. The "average novel," the average 
successful commercial proposition at 6s. per 300 to 600 
pages is nothing of the sort ; it is merely a third-rate 
mind's imitation of a perfectly well-known type-novel; 
of let us say Dickens, or Balzac, or Sir A. Conan-Doyle, 
or Hardy, or Mr. Wells, or Mrs. Ward, or some other 
and less laudable proto- or necro-type. 

A certain commercial interest attaches to the sale of 
these mimicries and a certain purely technical or trade 
or clique interest may attach to the closeness or "skill" 
of the aping, or to the "application" of a formula. The 
"work," the opus, has a purely narcotic value, it serves 
to soothe the tired mind of the reader, to take said 
"mind" off its "business" (whether that business be lofty, 
"intellectual," humanitarian, sordid, acquisitive, or 
other). There is only one contemporary English work 

* Egoist, Ltd.. 23, Adelphi Terrace House, Robert Street, 
W. C. 2. 6s. net. Knopf, New York, $1.50. Reviewed in 
The Future. 



IN THK VORTEX 217 

with which "Tarr" can be compared, namely James 
Joyce's utterly different "Portrait of the Artist." The 
appearance of either of these novels would be a recog- 
nized literary event had it occurred in any other country 
in Europe. 

Joyce's novel is a triumph of actual writing. The 
actual arrangement of the words is worth any author's 
study. Lewis on the contrary, is, in the actual writing, 
faulty. His expression is as bad as that of Meredith's 
floppy sickliness. In place of Meredith's mincing we 
have something active and "disagreeable." But we have 
at any rate the percussions of a highly energized mind. 

In both Joyce and Lewis we have the insistent utter- 
ance of men who are once for all through with the par- 
ticular inanities of Shavian-Bennett, and with the par- 
ticular oleosities of the Wellsian genre. 

The faults of Mr. Lewis' writing can be examined in 
the first twenty-five pages. Kreisler is the creation of 
the book. He is roundly and objectively set before us. 
Tarr is less clearly detached from his creator. The au- 
thor has evidently suspected this, for he has felt the 
need of disclaiming Tarr in a preface. 

Tarr, like his author, is a man with an energized 
mind. When Tarr talks at length; when Tarr gets 
things off his chest, we suspect that the author also is 
getting them off his own chest. Herein the technique is 
defective. It is also defective in that it proceeds by 
general descriptive statements in many cases where the 
objective presentment of single and definite acts would 
be more effective, more convincing. 

It differs from the general descriptiveness of cheap 
fiction in that these general statements are often a very 
profound reach for the expression of verity. In brief, 
the author is trying to get the truth and not merely play- 



2i8 INSTIGATIONS 

ing baby-battledore among phrases. When Tarr talks 
little essays and makes aphorisms they are often of in- 
trinsic interest, are even unforgettable. Likewise, when 
the author comments upon Tarr, he has the gift of 
phrase, vivid, biting, pregnant, full of suggestion. 

The engaging if unpleasant character, Tarr, is placed 
in an unpleasant milieu, a milieu very vividly "done." 
The reader retains no doubts concerning the verity and 
existence of this milieu (Paris or London is no matter, 
though the scene is, nominally, in Paris). It is the 
existence where: 

"Art is the smell of oil paint, Henri Murger's Vie de 
Boh erne, corduroy trousers, the operatic Italian model 
. . . quarter given up to Art. Letters and other things 
are round the corner. 

"... permanent tableaux of the place, disheartening 
as a Tussaud's of The Flood." 

Tarr's first impact is with "Hobson," whose "dastardly 
face attempted to portray delicacies of common . sense, 
and gossamer-like back-slidings into the Inane, that 
would have puzzled a bile-specialist. He would occa- 
sionally exploit his blackguardly appearance and black- 
smith's muscles for a short time . . . his strong pierc- 
ing laugh threw A. B.C. waitresses into confusion." 

This person wonders if Tarr is a "sound bird." Tarr 
is not a sound bird. His conversational attack on Hob- 
son proceeds by a brandishing of false dilemma, but 
neither Hobson nor his clan, nor indeed any of the critics 
of the novel (to date) have observed that this is Tarr's 
faulty weapon. Tarr's contempt for Hobson is as ade- 
quate as it is justifiable. 

"Hobson, he considered, was a crowd. You could 
not say he was an individual. He was a set. He sat 
there a cultivated audience. He had the aplomb and 



IN THE VORTEX 219 

absence of self-consciousness of numbers, of the herd 
of those who know they are not alone. . . . 

"For distinguishing feature Hobson possessed a dis- 
tinguished absence of personality. . . . Hobson was an 
humble investor." 

Tarr addresses him with some frankness on the sub- 
ject: 

"As an off-set for your prying, scurvy way of peeping 
into my affairs you must offer your own guts, such as 
they are. . . . 

"You have joined yourself to those who hush their 
voices to hear what other people are saying. . . . 

"Your plumes are not meant to fly with, but merely to 
slouch and skip along the surface of the earth. You 
wear the livery of a ridiculous set, you are a cunning 
and sleek domestic. No thought can come out of your 
head before it has slipped on its uniform. All your 
instincts are drugged with a malicious languor, an arm, 
a respectability, invented by a set of old women and 
mean, cadaverous little boys." 

Hobson opened his mouth, had a movement of the 
body to speak. But he relapsed. 

"You reply, 'What is all this fuss about ? I have done 
the best for myself.' I am not suited for any heroic 
station, like yours. I live sensibly, cultivating my vege- 
table ideas, and also my roses and Victorian lilies. I 
do no harm to anybody." 

"That is not quite the case. That is a little inexact. 
Your proceedings possess a herdesque astuteness ; in the 
scale against the individual weighing less than the Yellow 
Press, yet being a closer and meaner attack. Also you 
are essentially spies, in a scurvy, safe and well-paid 
service, as, I told you before. You are disguised to look 
like the thing it is your function to betray What is your 



220 INSTIGATIONS 

position? You have bought for eight hundred pounds 
at an aristocratic educational establishment a complete 
mental outfit, a program of manners. For four years 
you trained with other recruits. You are now a per- 
fectly disciplined social unit, with a profound esprit de 
corps. The Cambridge set that you represent is an 
average specimen, a cross between a Quaker, a Pederast, 
and a Chelsea artist. Your Oxford brothers, dating 
from the Wilde decade, are a stronger body. The Chel- 
sea artists are much less flimsy. The Quakers are 
powerful rascals. You represent, my Hobson, the dregs 
of Anglo-Saxon civilization ! There is nothing softer 
on earth. Your flabby potion is a mixture of the lees of 
Liberalism, the poor froth blown off the decadent nine- 
ties, the wardrobe-leavings of a vulgar Bohemianism 
with its headquarters in Chelsea ! 

"You are concentrated, systematic slop. There is 
nothing in the universe to be said for you. . . . 

"A breed of mild pervasive cabbages, has set up a 
wide and creeping rot in the West of Europe. They 
make it indirectly a peril and a tribulation for live things 
to remain in the neighborhood. You are a systematiz- 
ing and vulgarizing of the individual. You are not an 
individual. . . ." 

and later : 

"You are libeling the Artist, by your idleness." Also, 
"Your pseudo-neediness is a sentimental indulgence." 

All this swish and clatter of insult reminds one a little 
of Papa Karamazoff. Its outrageousness is more Rus- 
sian than Anglo- Victorian, but Lewis is not a mere echo 
of Dostoievsky. He hustles his reader, jolts him, snarls 
at him, in contra-distinction to Dostoievsky, who merely 



IN THE VORTEX 221 

surrounds him with an enveloping dreariness, and im- 
parts his characters by long-drawn osmosis. 

Hobson is a minor character in the book, he and 
Lowndes are little more than a prologue, a dusty avenue 
of approach to the real business of the book : Bertha, 
"high standard Aryan female, in good condition, superbly 
made; of the succulent, obedient, clear peasant 
type. . . ." 

Kreisler, the main character in the book, a "powerful" 
study in sheer obsessed emotionality, the chief foil to 
Tarr who has, over and above his sombre emotional 
spawn-bed, a smouldering sort of intelligence, combusti- 
ble into brilliant talk, and brilliant invective. 

Anastasya, a sort of super-Bertha, designated by the 
author as "swagger sex." 

These four figures move, lit by the flare of restau- 
rants and cafes, against the frowsy background of 
"Bourgeois Bohemia," more or less Bloomsbury. There 
are probably such Bloomsburys in Paris and in every 
large city. 

This sort of catalogue is not well designed to interest 
the general reader. What matters is the handling, the 
vigor, even the violence, of the handling. 

The book's interest is not due to the "style" in so 
far as "style" is generally taken to mean "smoothness 
of finish," orderly arrangement of sentences, coherence 
to the Flaubertian method. 

It is due to the fact that we have here a highly-ener- 
gized mind performing a huge act of scavenging; clean- 
ing up a great lot of rubbish, cultural, Bohemian, 
romantico-Tennysonish, arty, societish, gutterish. 

It is not an attack on the epicier. It is an attack on 
a sort of super-spicier desiccation. It is by no means a 
tract. If Hobson is so drawn as to disgust one with the 



222 INSTIGATIONS 

"stuffed-shirt," Kreisler is equally a sign-post pointing 
to the advisability of some sort of intellectual or at least 
commonsense management of the emotions. 

Tarr, and even Kreisler, is very nearly justified by the 
depiction of the Bourgeois Bohemian fustiness: Frau- 
lein Lippmann, Fraulein Fogs, etc. 

What we are blessedly free from is the red-plush 
Wellsian illusionism, and the click of Mr. Bennett's cash- 
register finish. The book does not skim over the sur- 
face. If it does not satisfy the mannequin demand for 
"beauty" it at least refuses to accept margarine substi- 
tutes. It will not be praised by Katherine Tynan, nor 
by Mr. Chesterton and Mrs. Meynell. It will not receive 
the sanction of Dr. Sir Robertson Nicoll, nor of his 
despicable paper "The Bookman." 

(There will be perhaps some hope for the British 
reading public, when said paper is no longer to be found 
in the Public Libraries of the Island, and when Clement 
Shorter shall cease from animadverting.) "Tarr" does 
not appeal to these people nor to the audience which 
they have swaddled. Neither, of course, did Samuel 
Butler to their equivalents in past decades. 

"Bertha and Tarr took a flat in the Boulevard Port 
Royal, not far from the Jardin des Plantes. They gave 
a party to which Fraulein Lippmann and a good many 
other people came. He maintained the rule of four to 
seven, roughly, for Bertha, with the uttermost punctili- 
ousness. Anastasya and Bertha did not meet. 

"Bertha's child came, and absorbed her energies for 
upwards of a year. It bore some resemblance to Tarr. 
Tarr's afternoon visits became less frequent. He lived 
now publicly with his illicit and splendid bride. 

"Two years after the birth of the child, Bertha 
divorced Tarr. She then married an eye-doctor, and 



IN THE VORTEX 22^ 

lived with a brooding seventy in his company, and that 
of her only child. 

"Tarr and Anastasya did not marry. They had no 
children. Tarr, however, had three children by a Lady 
of the name of Rose Fawcett, who consoled him even- 
tually for the splendors of his 'perfect woman.' But yet 
beyond the dim though sordid figure of Rose Fawcett, 
another rises. This one represents the swing-back of 
the pendulum once more to the swagger side. The 
cheerless and stodgy absurdity of Rose Fawcett re- 
quired the painted, fine and inquiring face of Prism 
Dirkes." 

Neither this well-writen conclusion, nor the opening 
tirade I have quoted, give the full impression of the 
book's vital quality, but they may perhaps draw the 
explorative reader. 

"Tarr" finds sex a monstrosity, he finds it "a German 
study": "Sex, Hobson, is a German study. A German 
study." 

At that we may leave it. "Tarr" "had no social ma- 
chinery, but the cumbrous one of the intellect. . . . 
When he tried to be amiable he usually only succeeded 
in being ominous." 

"Tarr" really gets at something in his last long dis- 
cussion with Anastasya, when he says that art "has no 
inside." This is a condition of art, "to have no inside, 
nothing you cannot see. It is not something impelled 
like a machine by a little egoistic inside." 

"Deadness, in the limited sense in which we use that 
word, is the first condition of art. The second is absence 
of soul, in the sentimental human sense. The lines and 
masses of a statue are its soul." 

Joyce says something of the sort very differently, he 
is full of technical scholastic terms : "stasis, kinesis," etc. 



224 INSTIGATIONS 

Any careful statement of this sort is bound to be baffoue, 
and fumbled over, but this ability to come to a hard 
definition of anything is one of Lewis' qualities lying at 
the base of his ability to irritate the mediocre intelli- 
gence. The book was written before 1914, but the de- 
piction of the German was not a piece of war propa- 
ganda. 

AN HISTORICAL ESSAYIST 

LYTTON STRACHEY ON LEFT-OVER 
CELEBRITY 

MR. STRACHEY, acting as funeral director for a group 
of bloated reputations, is a welcome addition to the 
small group of men who continue what Samuel Butler 
began. The howls going up in the Times Lit. Sup. from 
the descendants of the ossements are but one curl more 
of incense to the new author. 

His book is a series of epitomes, even the illustrations, 
from the peculiar expression of Mr. Gladstone's rascally 
face to the differently, but equally, peculiar expression 
of Newman's and the petrified settled fanatic will-to- 
power in Cardinal Manning's, are epitomes. 

Whatever else we may be sure of, we may be sure that 
no age with any intellectual under-pinnings would have 
made so much fuss over these "figures." For most of 
us, the odor of defunct Victoriania is so unpleasant and 
the personal benefits to be derived from a study of the 
period so small that we are content to leave the past 
where we find it, or to groan at its leavings as they are, 
week by week, tossed up in the Conservative papers. 
The Victorian era is like a stuffy alley-way which we 
can, for the most part, avoid. We do not agitate for its 



IN THE VORTEX 225 

destruction, because it does not greatly concern us; at 
least, we have no feeling of responsibility, we are glad 
to have moved on toward the open, or at least toward 
the patescent, or to have found solace in the classics or 
in eighteenth century liberations. 

Mr. Strachey, with perhaps the onus of feeling that 
the "Spectator" was somewhere in his immediate family, 
has been driven into patient exposition. The heavy gas 
of the past decades cannot be dispersed by mere 
"BLASTS" and explosions. Mr. Strachey has under- 
taken a chemical dispersal of residues. 

At the age of nine Manning devoured the Apocalypse. 
He read Paley at Harrow, and he never got over it. 
Impeded in a political career, he was told that the King- 
dom of Heaven was open to him. "Heavenly ambitions" 
were suggested. The "Oxford Movement" was, in a 
minor way, almost as bad as the Italian Counter- 
Reformation. Zeal was prized more than experience. 
Manning was the child of his age, the enfant prodigue of 
it, who could take advantage of all its blessings. A 
fury of "religion" appears to have blazed through the 
period. This fury must be carefully distinguished from 
theology, which latter is an elaborate intellectual exer- 
cise, and can in its finest developments be used for 
sharpening the wits, developing the rational faculties 
(vide Aquinas). Theology, straying from the en- 
closures of religion, enters the purlieus of philosophy, 
and in some cases exacts stiff definitions. 

Froude, Newman and Keble were part of an unfor- 
tunate retrogression, or, as Mr. Strachey has written, 
"Christianity had become entangled in a series of un- 
fortunate circumstances from which it was the plain duty 
of Newman and his friends to rescue it." Keble de- 
sired an England "more superstitious, more bigoted, 



226 INSTIGATIONS 

more gloomy, more fierce in its religion." Tracts for 
the Times were published. Pusey imagined that people 
practised fasting. It was a curious period. One should 
take it at length from Mr. Strachey. 

The contemporary mind may well fail to note a dif- 
ference between these retrogradists and the earlier 
nuisance John Calvin, who conceived the floors of hell 
paved with unbaptized infants half a span long. Mr. 
Strachey's patient exposition will put them right in the 
matter. 

We have forgotten how bad it was, the ideas of the 
Oxford movement have faded out of our class, or at least 
the free moving men of letters meet no one still em- 
bedded in these left-overs. Intent on some system of 
thought interesting to themselves and their friends, they 
"lose touch with the public." And the "public," as soon 
as it is of any size, is full of these left-overs, full of the 
taste of F. T. Palgrave, of Keble's and Pusey's religion. 

To ascertain the under-side of popular opinion, or I 
had better say popular assumption, one may do worse 
than read books of a period just old enough to appear 
intolerable. 

(For example, if you wish to understand the taste 
displayed in the official literature of the last administra- 
tion you must read anthologies printed between 1785 
and 1837.) 

Mr. Strachey's study of Manning is particularly valu- 
able in a time when people still persist in not under- 
standing the Papal church as a political organization ex- 
ploiting a religion ; its force, doubtless, has come, through 
the centuries, from men like Manning, balked in political 
careers, suffering from a "complex" of power-lust. 

Among Strachey's "Eminent" we find one common 
characteristic, a sort of mulish persistence in any course, 



IX TIIF. VORTEX 227 

liowever stupid. One might develop the proposition 
Ihat Nietzsche in his will-to-power "philosophy" was no 
inore than the sentimental, inefficient German of the 
rold type" expressing an idolization of the British Vic- 
torian character. 

Still it is hard to see how any people save those 

chc hanrw perduto il ben del intelletto 

Loukl have swallowed such shell-game propositions as 
those of Manning's, quoted on p. 98, concerning response 
Ico prayer. 

The next essay is a very different matter. Mr. 
[Strachey, without abandoning the acridity of his style, 
[exposes Florence Nightingale as a great constructor of 
Civilization. Her achievement remains, early victim of 
[Christian voodooism, surrounded mainly by cads and 
(imbeciles, it is a wonder her temper was not a great 
[deal worse. She may well be pardoned a few hysterias, 
la few metaphysical bees in her cap. Even in meta- 
[physics, if she was unable to improve on Confucius and 
JEpicurus, she seems to have been quite as intelligent as 
[many of her celebrated contemporaries who had no 
Imore solid basis for reputation than their "philosophic" 
(writing. Our author has so branded Lord Stratford de 
BRedcliffe and the physican Hall that no amount of 
[apologia will reinstate them. Panmure is left as a goose, 
land Hawes as a goose with a touch of malevolence. 

Queen Victoria appears several times in this essay, 
iand effectively: 

" 'It will be a very great satisfaction to me/ Her 
[Majesty added, 'to make the acquaintance of one who 
has set so bright an example to our sex.' 

"The brooch, which was designed by the Prince Con- 



228 INSTIGATIONS 

sort, bore a St. George's cross in red enamel, and the 
Royal cypher surmounted by diamonds. The whole was 
encircled by the inscription, 'Blessed are the Merciful/ " 

Dr. Arnold of Rugby, to be as brief as possible with 
a none too pleasant subject, "substituted character for 
intellect in the training of British youth." 

The nineteenth century had a "letch" for unifications, 
it believed that, in general, "all is one"; when this doc- 
trine failed of a sort of pragmatic sanction in rem, it 
tried to reduce things to the least possible number. 
True, in the physical world, it did not attempt to use 
steam and dynamite interchangeably, but, in affairs of 
the mind, such was the indubitable tendency. 

It is, however, a folly to "substitute" character for 
intelligence and one would rather have been at the 
Grammar-School of Ashford, in Kent, in 1759, under 
Stephen Barrett, A.M., than at Rugby, in 1830, under 
Dr. Arnold, or, later, under any of his successors. And 
I give thanks to Zeus6<m TTOT' eariv, that being an Ameri- 
can, I have escaped the British public school. Mrs. 
Ward is at liberty to write to the Times as much as she 
likes, I do not envy her Dr. Arnold for grandfather. 

Arnold stands pre-eminent as an "educator," and from 
him the term has gradually taken its present meaning: 
"a man with no intellectual interests." 

Mr. Strachey completes his volume with a study of that 
extraordinary crank, General Gordon. It takes him two 
lines to blast the reputation of Lord Elgin. He does it 
quietly, but Elgin's name will stink in the memory of 
the reader. It is difficult to attribute this wholly to the 
author, for the facts are in connivance with him. But 
if his irony at times descends to sarcasm, one must 
balance that with the general quietude of his style. One 
can but hope that this book will not be his last ; one would 



IN THE VORTEX 229 

welcome a treatment, by him, of The Members of the 
British Academic Committee, British Publishers, The 
Asquith Administration. 

The religion of Tien Wang mentioned on p. 221 ap- 
pears to have been as intelligent as any other form of 
Christianity, and to have had much the same active ef- 
fects. However, Gordon was appointed to oppose it. 
Throughout the rest of his life he seems to have been 
obsessed by the curious mediaeval fallacy that the world 
is vanity and the body but ashes and dust. He fell vic- 
tim to the exaggerated monotheism of his era. But he 
had the sense to follow his instinct in a period when 
instincts were not thought quite respectable; this made 
him an historic figure ; it also must have lent him great 
charm (with perhaps rather picturesque drawbacks). 
This valuable quality, charm, must have been singularly 
lacking in Mr. Gladstone. 

It is, indeed, difficult to restrain one's growing con- 
viction that Mr. Gladstone was not all his party had 
hoped for. Gordon was "difficult," at the time of his 
last expedition he was perhaps little better than a lunatic, 
but Gladstone was decidedly unpleasant. 

In all of the eminent was the quality of a singularly 
uncritical era. It was a time when a prominent man 
could form himself on a single volume handed to him by 
"tradition" ; when illiteracy, in the profounder sense of 
that term, was no drawback to a vast public career. (An 
era, of course, happily closed.) 

I do not know that there is much use enquiring into 
the causes of the Victorian era, or any good to be got 
from speculations. Its disease might seem to have been 
an aggravated form of provincialism. Professor Sir 
Henry Newbolt has recently pointed out that the English 



230 INSTIGATIONS 

public is "interested in politics rather than literature" ; 
this may be a lingering symptom. 

If one sought, not perhaps to exonerate, but to explain 
the Victorian era one might find some contributory cause 
in Napoleon. That is to say, the Napoleonic wars had 
made Europe unpleasant, England was sensibly glad to 
be insular. Geography leaked over into mentality. 
Eighteenth century thought had indeed got rid of the 
Bourbons, but later events had show r n that eighteenth 
century thought might be dangerous. England cut off 
her intellectual communications with the Continent. An 
era of bigotry supervened. We have so thoroughly for- 
gotten, if we ever knew, the mental conditions preced- 
ing the Victorian era, save perhaps as they appear in 
the scribblings of, let us say, Lady Blessington, that we 
cannot tell whether the mentality of the Victorian reign 
was an advance or an appalling retrogression. In any 
case we are glad to be out of it ... irregardless of what 
we may be into ; irregardless of whether the communica- 
tions among intelligent people are but the mirage of a 
minute Thebaid seen from a chaos wholly insuperable.* 

A LIST OF BOOKS 

WHEN circumstances have permitted me to lift up my 
prayer to the gods, of whom there are several, and 
whose multiplicity has only been forgotten during the 
less felicitous periods, I have requested for contem- 
porary use, some system of delayed book reviewing, 
some system whereby the critic of current things is per- 
mitted to state that a few books read with pleasure five 
or six years ago can still be with pleasure perused, and 

* "Eminent Victorians," by Lytton Strachey. 



IX Till'. VORTEX 231 

hat their claims to status as literature have not been 
bliterated by half or all of a decade. 

GEORGE S. STREET 

THERE was in the nineties, the late nineties and dur- 
ng the early years of this century, and still is, a writer 
lamed George S. Street. He has written some of the 
Dest things that have been thought concerning Lord 
3yron, he has written them not as a romanticist, not 
is a Presbyterian, but as a man of good sense. They 
ire worthy of commendation. He has written charm- 
ngly in criticism of eighteenth century writers, and of 
he ghosts of an earlier Piccadilly. He has written tales 
)f contemporary life with a suavity, wherefrom the 
present writer at least has learned a good deal, even 
f he has not yet put it into scriptorial practice. (I 
laste to state this indebtedness.) 

The writers of nioeurs contemporaries are so few, or 
ather there are so few of them who can be treated under 
he heading "literature," that the discovery or circula- 
ion of any such writer is no mean critical action. Mr. 
Street is "quite as amusing as Stockton," with the infinite 
difference that Mr. Street has made literature. Essays 
upon him are not infrequent in volumes of English 
essays dealing with contemporary authors. My impres- 
sion is that he is not widely read in America (his pub- 
ishers will doubtless put me right if this impression is 
erroneous) ; I can only conclude that the possession of 
a style, the use of a suave and pellucid English has 
erected some sort of barrier. 

"The Trials of the Bantocks," "The Wise and the 
Wayward," "The Ghosts of Piccadilly," "Books of 
Essays," "The Autobiography of a Boy," "Quales Ego," 



232 INSTIGATIONS 

"Miniatures and Moods," are among his works, and in 
them the rare but intelligent reader may take refuge 
from the imbecilities of the multitude. 

FREDERIC MANNING 

IN 1910 Mr. Manning published, with the almost de- 
funct and wholly uncommendable firm of John Murray, 
"Scenes and Portraits," the opening paragraph of which 
I can still, I believe, quote from memory. 

"When Merodach, King of Uruk, sat down to his 
meals, he made his enemies his footstool, for be- 
neath his table he kept an hundred kings with their 
thumbs and great toes cut off, as signs of his power 
and clemency. When Merodach had finished eating 
he shook the crumbs from his napkin, and the 
kings fed themselves with two fingers, and when 
Merodach observed how painful and difficult this 
operation was, he praised God for having given 
thumbs to man. 

" 'It is by the absence of things/ he said, 'that 
we learn their use. Thus if we deprive a man of 
his eyes we deprive him of sight, and in this man- 
ner we learn that sight is the function of the eyes.' 

"Thus spake Merodach, for he had a scientific 
mind and was curious of God's handiwork. And 
when he had finished speaking, his courtiers ap- 
plauded him." 

Adam is afterwards discovered trespassing in Mero- 
dach's garden or paradise. The characters of Bagoas, 
Merodach's high priest, Adam, Eve and the Princess 
Candace are all admirably presented. The book is 
divided in six parts: the incident of the Kingdom of 



IX THE VORTEX 233 

I'ruk, a conversation at the house of Euripides, "A 
Friend of Paul," a conversation between St. Francis 
and the Pope, another between Thomas Cromwell and 
Macchiavelli, and a final encounter between Leo XIII 
and Renan in Paradise. 

This book is not to be neglected by the intelligent 
reader (avis rarissima-, and in what minute ratio to the 
population I am still unable to discern). 

"Others" Anthology for 1917. This last gives, I 
think, the first adequate presentation of Mina Loy and 
Marianne Moore, who have, without exaggerated 
"nationalism," without waving of banners and general 
phrases about Columbia gem of the ocean, succeeded in, 
or fallen into, producing something distinctly American 
in quality, not merely distinguishable as American by 
reason of current national faults. 

Their work is neither simple, sensuous nor passionate, 
but as we are no longer governed by the North American 
Review we need not condemn poems merely because they 
do not fit some stock phrase or rhetorical criticism. 

(For example, an infinitely greater artist than Tenny- 
son uses six "s's" and one "z" in a single line. It is one 
of the most musical lines in Provengal and opens a poem 
especially commended by Dante. Let us leave the realm 
of promoted typists who quote the stock phrases of 
text-books.) 

In the verse of Marianne Moore I detect traces of 
emotion ; in that of Mina Loy I detect no emotion what- 
ever. Both of these women are, possibly in unconscious- 
ness, among the followers of Jules Laforgue (whose 
work shows a great deal of emotion). Or perhaps Rene 
Ghil is the "influence" in Miss Moore's case. It is pos- 
sible, as I have written, or intended to write elsewhere, to 



234 INSTIGATIONS 

divide poetry into three sorts : ( I ) melopoeia, to wit, 
poetry which moves by its music, whether it be a music 
in words or an aptitude for, or suggestion of, accom- 
panying music; (2) imagism, or poetry wherein the 
feelings of painting and sculpture are predominant (cer- 
tain men move in phantasmagoria; the images of their 
gods, whole countrysides, stretches of hill land and forest, 
travel with them) ; and there is, thirdly, logopoeia, or 
poetry that is akin to nothing but language which is a 
dance of the intelligence among words and ideas and 
modifications of ideas and characters. Pope and the 
eighteenth-century writers had in this medium a certain 
limited range. The intelligence of Laforgue ran through 
the whole gamut of his time. T. S. Eliot has gone on 
with it. Browning wrote a condensed form of drama, 
full of things of the senses, scarcely ever pure logopoeia. 

One wonders what the devil any one will make of 
this sort of thing who has not in their wit all the clues. 
It has none of the stupidity beloved of the "lyric" en- 
thusiast and the writer and reader who take refuge in 
scenery, description of nature, because they are unable to 
cope with the human. These two contributors to the 
"Others" Anthology write logopoeia. It is, in their 
case, the utterance of clever people in despair, or hover- 
ing upon the brink of that precipice. It is of those who 
have acceded with Renan "La betise humaine est la seule 
chose qui donne une idee de Tinfini." It is a mind cry, 
more than a heart cry. "Take the world if thou wilt but 
leave me an asylum for my affection," is not their 
lamentation, but rather "In the midst of this desolation, 
give me at least one intelligence to converse with." 

The arid clarity, not without its own beauty, of le 
temperament de V Americaine , is in the poems of these, 
I think, graduates or post-graduates. If they have not 



IN THE VORTEX 235 

received B.A.'s or M.A.'s or B.Sc.'s they do not need 
them. 

The point of my praise, for I intend this as praise, 
even if I do not burst into the phrases of Victor Hugo, 
is that without any pretences and without clamors about 
nationality, these girls have written a distinctly national 
product, they have written something which would not 
have come out of any other country, and (while I have 
before now seen a deal of rubbish by both of them) 
they are, as selected by Mr. Kreymborg, interesting and 
readable (by me, that is. I am aware that even the 
poems before me would drive numerous not wholly un- 
intelligent readers into a fury of rage-out-of-puzzle- 
ment.) Both these poetrias have said a number of 
things not to be found in the current numbers of Every- 
body's, the Century or McClure's. "The Effectual Mar- 
riage," "French Peacock," "My Apish Cousins," have 
each in its way given me pleasure. Miss Moore has 
already prewritten her counterblast to my criticism in 
her poem "to a Steam Roller." 

The anthology displays also Mr. Williams' praise- 
worthy opacity. 

THE NEW POETRY 

ENGLISH and French literature have stood in constant 
need of each other, and it is interesting to note, as con- 
current but in no way dependent upon the present alli- 
ance, a new French vitality among our younger writers 
of poetry. As some of these latter are too new to 
presuppose the reader's familiarity with them, I quote 
a few poems before venturing to open a discussion. 
T. S. Eliot is the most finished, the most composed of 
these poets; let us observe his poem "The Hippopota- 
mus," as it appears in The Little Review. 



236 INSTIGATIONS 

THE HIPPOPOTAMUS 

The broad backed hippopotamus 
Rests on his belly in the mud; 
Although he seems so firm to us .... 
Yet he is merely flesh and blood. 

Flesh-and-blood is weak and frail, 
Susceptible to nervous shock; 
While the True Church can never fail 
For it is based upon a rock. 

The hippo's feeble steps may err 
In compassing material ends, 
While the True Church need never stir 
To gather in its dividends. 

The potamus can never reach 
The mango on the mango-tree, 
But fruits of pomegranate and peach 
Refresh the Church from over sea. 

At mating time the hippo's voice 
Betrays inflexions hoarse and odd, 
But every week we hear rejoice 
The Church, at being one with God. 

The hippopotamus's day 
Is past in sleep; at night he hunts; 
God works in a mysterious way 
The Church can sleep and feed at once 



IN THE VORTEX 237 

I saw the potamus take wing 
Ascending from the damp savannas, 
And quiring angels round him sing 
The praise of God, in loud hosannas. 

Blood of the Lamb shall wash him clean 
And him shall heavenly arms enfold, 
Among the saints he shall be seen 
Performing on a harp of gold. 

He shall be washed as white as snow, 
By all the martyr'd virgins kist, 
While the True Church remains below 
Wrapt in the old miasmal mist. 

This cold sardonic statement is definitely of the school 
of Theophile Gautier; as definitely as Eliot's "Conversa- 
tion Galante" is in the manner of Jules Laforgue. 
There is a great deal in the rest of Mr. Eliot's poetry 
which is personal, and in no wise derivative either from 
the French or from Webster and Tourneur ; just as there 
is in "The Hippopotamus" a great deal which is not 
Theophile Gautier. I quote the two present poems sim- 
ply to emphasize a certain lineage and certain French 
virtues and qualities, which are, to put it most mildly, 
a great and blessed relief after the official dullness and 
Wordsworthian lignification of the "Georgian" Antholo- 
gies and their descendants and derivatives as upheld by 
The New Statesman, that nadir of the planet of hebe- 
tude, that apogee of the kulturesque. 

CONVERSATION GALANTE * 

I observe : "Our sentimental friend the moon ! 
Or possibly (fantastic, I confess) 
* From "Prufrock." By T. S. Eliot. Egoist, Ltd. 



238 INSTIGATIONS 

It may be Prester John's balloon 
Or an old battered lantern hung aloft 
To light poor travelers to their distress." 
She then: "How you digress!" 

And I then: "Some one frames upon the keys 
That exquisite nocturne, with which we explain 
The night and moonshine, music which we seize 
To body forth our own vacuity." 
She then: "Does this refer to me?" 
"Oh no, it is I who am inane." 

"You, madam, are the eternal humorist, 
The eternal enemy of the absolute, 
Giving our vagrant moods the slightest twist ! 
With your air indifferent and imperious 
At a stroke our mad poetics to confute 
And : "Are we then so serious ?" 

Laforgue's influence or Ghil's or some kindred ten- 
dency is present in the whimsicalities of Marianne 
Moore, and of Mina Loy. A verbalism less finished 
than Eliot's appears in Miss Moore's verses called 

PEDANTIC LITERALIST 

Prince Rupert's drop, paper muslin ghost, 
White torch "with power to say unkind 
Things with kindness and the most 

Irritating things in the midst of love and 
Tears," you invite destruction. 

You are like the meditative man 
With the perfunctory heart ; its 



IN THE VORTEX 239 

Carved cordiality ran 

To and fro at first, like an inlaid and royal 
Immutable production; 

Then afterward "neglected to be 
Painful" and "deluded him with 
Loitering formality, 

Doing its duty as if it did not," 
Presenting an obstruction 

To the motive that it served. What stood 
Erect in you has withered. A 
Little "palmtree of turned wood" 

Informs your once spontaneous core in its 
Immutable reduction. 

The reader accustomed only to glutinous imitations 
of Keats, diaphanous dilutations of Shelley, woolly 
Wordsworthian paraphrases, or swishful Swinburniania 
will doubtless dart back appalled by Miss Moore's de- 
partures from custom ; custom, that is, as the male or 
female devotee of Palgravian insularity understands that 
highly elastic term. The Palgravian will then with dis- 
appointment discover that his favorite and conventional 
whine is inapplicable. Miss Moore "rhymes in places." 
Her versification does not fit in with preconceived 
notions of vers libre. It possesses a strophic structure. 
The elderly Newboltian groans. The all-wool un- 
bleached Georgian sighs ominously. Another author has 
been reading French poets, and using words for the 
communication of thought. Alas, times will not stay 
anchored. 

Mina Loy has been equally subject to something like 
international influence ; there are lines in her "Ineffectual 



240 INSTIGATIONS 

Marriage" perhaps better written than anything I have 
found in Miss Moore, as, for example: 



"So here we might dispense with her 
Gina being a female 
But she was more than that 
Being an incipience a correlative 

an instigation to the reaction of man 
From the palpable to the transcendent 
Mollescent irritant of his fantasy 

Gina had her use Being useful 

contentedly conscious 

She flowered in Empyrean 

From which no well-mated woman ever returns 

Sundays a warm light in the parlor 

From the gritty road on the white wall 

anybody could see it 
Shimmered a composite effigy 
Madonna crinolined a man 

hidden beneath her hoop. 

Patience said Gina is an attribute 

And she learned at any hour to offer 

The dish appropriately delectable 

What had Miovanni made of his ego 

In his library 

What had Gina wondered among the pots and 

pans 
One never asked the other." 



IN THE VORTEX 241 

These lines are not written as Henry Davray said re- 
cently in the "Mercure de France," that the last "Geor- 
gian Anthology" poems are written, i.e., in search for 
"sentiments pour les accommoder a leur vocabulaire." 
Miss Ley's are distinctly the opposite, they are words set 
down to convey a definite meaning, and words accom- 
modated to that meaning, even if they do not copy the 
mannerisms of the five or six by no means impeccable 
nineteenth century poets whom the British Poetry 
Society has decided to imitate. 

All this is very pleasing, or very displeasing, accord- 
ing to the taste of the reader ; according to his freedom 
from, or his bondage to, custom. 

Distinct and as different as possible from the orderly 
statements of Eliot, and from the slightly acid whimsi- 
calities of these ladies, are the poems of Carlos Williams. 
If the sinuosities and mental quirks of Misses Moore 
and Loy are difficult to follow I do not know what is to 
be said for some of Mr. Williams' ramifications and 
abruptnesses. I do not pretend to follow all of his 
volts, jerks, sulks, balks, outblurts and jump-overs; but 
for all his roughness there remains with me the con- 
viction that there is nothing meaningless in his book, "Al 
que quiere," not a line. There is whimsicality as we 
found it in his earlier poems. "The Tempers" (pub- 
lished by Elkin Mathews), in the verse to "The Coro- 
ner's Children," for example. There is distinctness and 
color, as was shown in his "Postlude," in "Des Im- 
agistes" ; but there is beyond these qualities the absolute 
conviction of a man with his feet on the soil, on a soil 
personally and peculiarly his own. He is rooted. He 
is at times almost inarticulate, but he is never dry, never 
without sap in abundance. His course may be well 
indicated by the change of the last few years; we found 



242 INSTIGATIONS 

him six years ago in "The Postlude," full of a thick and 
opaque color, full of emotional richness, with a maxi- 
mum of subjective reality: 

POSTLUDE 

Now that I have cooled to you 

Let there be gold of tarnished masonry, 

Temples soothed by the sun to ruin 

That sleep utterly. 

Give me hand for the dances, 

Ripples at Philse, in and out, 

And lips, my Lesbian, 

Wall flowers that once were flame. 

Your hair is my Carthage 
And my arms the bow, 
And our words the arrows 
To shoot the stars, 
Who from that misty sea 
Swarm to destroy us. 

But you there beside me 

Oh ! how shall I defy you, 

Who wound me in the night 

With breasts shining like Venus and like Mars ? 

The night tRat is shouting Jason 

Whea the loud eaves rattle 

As with waves above me, 

Blue at the prow of my desire. 

O prayers in the dark! 
O incense to Poseidon! 
Calm in Atlantis. 



IN THE VORTEX 243 

From this he has, as some would say, "turned" to a 
sort of maximum objective reality in 

THE OLD MEN 

Old men who have studied 

every leg show 

in the city 

Old men cut from touch 

by the perfumed music 

polished or fleeced skulls 

that stand before 

the whole theatre 

in silent attitudes 

of attention, 

old men who have taken precedence 

over young men 

and even over dark- faced 

husbands whose minds 

are a street with arc-lights. 

Solitary old men 

for whom we find no excuses . . . 

This is less savage than "Les Assis." His "Portrait 
of a Woman in Bed" incites me to a comparison with 
Rimbaud's picture of an old actress in her "loge." Not 
to Rimbaud's disadvantage. I don't know that any, 
save the wholly initiated into the cult of anti-exoticism, 
would take Williams' poem for an exotic, but there is 
no accounting for what may occur in such cases. 

PORTRAIT OF A WOMAN IN BED 

There's my things 
drying in the corner; 



244 INSTIGATIONS 

that blue skirt 

joined to the gray shirt 

I'm sick of trouble! 

Lift the covers 

if you want me 

and you'll see 

the rest of my clothes 

though it would be cold 

lying with nothing on ! 

I won't work 
and I've got no cash. 
What are you going to do 
about it? 

and no jewelry 

(the crazy fools). 

But I've my two eyes 

and a smooth face 

and here's this ! look ! 

it's high ! 

There's brains and blood 

in there 

my name's Robitza ! 

Corsets 

can go to the devil 

and drawers along with them ! 

What do I care ! 

My two boys? 
they're keen ! 
Let the rich lady 
care for them 



IN THE VORTEX 245 

they'll beat the school 

or 

let them go to the gutter 

that ends trouble. 

This house is empty 
isn't it ? 
Then it's mine 
because I need it. 
Oh, I won't starve 
while there's the Bible 
to make them feed me. 

Try to help me 
if you want trouble 
or leave me alone 
that ends trouble. 

The county physician 
is a damned fool 
and you 
can go to hell! 

You could have closed the door 
when you came in ; 
do it when you go out. 
I'm tired. 

This is not a little sermon on slums. It conveys 
more than two dozen or two hundred magazine stories 
about the comedy of slum-work. As the memoir of a 
physician, it is keener than Spiess' notes of an advocate 
in the Genevan law courts. It is more compact than 
Vildrac's "Auberge," and has not Vildrac's tendency to 



246 INSTIGATIONS 

sentiment. It is a poem that could be translated into 
French or any other modern language and hold its own 
with the contemporary product of whatever country one 
chose. 

A DISTINCTION 

A journalist has said to me: "We, i.e. we journalists, 
are like mediums. People go to a spiritist seance and 
hear what they want to hear. It is the same with a 
leading article : we write so that the reader will find 
what he wants to find." 

That is the root of the matter; there is good journal- 
ism and bad journalism, and journalism that "looks" 
like "literature" and literature etc. . . . 

But the root of the difference is that in journalism 
the reader finds what he is looking for, whereas in liter- 
ature he must find at least a part of what the author 
intended. 

That is why "the first impression of a work of genius" 
is "nearly always disagreeable." The public loathe the 
violence done to their self-conceit whenever any one 
conveys to them an idea that is his, not their own. 

This difference is lasting and profound. Even in the 
vaguest of poetry, or the vaguest music, where the re- 
ceiver may, or must make half the beauty he is to receive, 
there is always something of the author or composer 
which must be transmitted. 

In journalism or the "bad art," there is no such strain 
dn the public. 

THE CLASSICS "ESCAPE" 

IT is well that the citizen should be acquainted with 
the laws of his country. In earlier times the laws of a 



IN THE VORTEX 247 

nation were graven upon tablets and set up in the market 
place. I myself have seen a sign: "Bohemians are not 
permitted within the precincts of this commune" ; but 
the laws of a great republic are too complex and arcane 
to permit of this simple treatment. I confess to having 
been a bad citizen, to just the extent of having been 
ignorant that at any moment my works might be classed 
in law's eye with the inventions of the late Dr. Condom. 
It is possible that others with only a mild interest in 
literature may be equally ignorant ; I quote therefore the 
law: 

Section 211 of the United States Criminal Code pro- 
vides : 

"Every obscene, lewd, or lascivious, and every filthy 
book, pamphlet, picture, paper, letter, writing, print, or 
other publication of an indecent character and every arti- 
cle or thing designed, adapted, or intended for preventing 
conception or producing abortion, or for any indecent or 
immoral use ; and every article, instrument, substance, 
drug, medicine, or thing which is advertised or described 
in a manner calculated to lead another to use or apply 
it for preventing conception or producing abortion, or 
for any indecent or immoral purpose ; and every written 
or printed card, letter, circular, book, pamphlet, adver- 
tisement, or notice of any kind giving information 
directly or indirectly, where, or how, or from whom, or 
by what means any of the hereinbeforementioned mat- 
ters, articles, or things may be obtained or made, or 
where or by whom any act or operation of any kind for 
the procuring or producing of abortion will be done or 
performed, or how or by what means conception may be 
prevented or abortion produced, whether sealed or un- 
sealed; and every letter, packet, or package, or other 



248 INSTIGATIONS 

mail matter containing any filthy, vile or indecent thing, 
device, or substance; any and every paper, writing, ad- 
vertisement, or representation that any article, instru- 
ment, substance, drug, medicine, or thing may, or can, be 
used or applied for preventing conception or producing 
abortion or for any indecent or immoral purpose; and 
every description calculated to induce or incite a person 
to so use or apply any such article, instrument, sub- 
stance, drug, medicine, or thing, is hereby declared to 
be non-mailable matter and shall not be conveyed in the 
mails or delivered from any post-office or by any letter 
carrier. Whoever shall knowingly deposit, or cause to 
be deposited for mailing or delivery, anything declared 
by this section to be non-mailable, or shall knowingly 
take, or cause the same to be taken, from the mails for 
the purpose of circulating or disposing thereof, or of 
aiding in the circulation or disposition thereof, shall be 
fined not more than five thousand dollars, or imprisoned 
not more than five years, or both/' 

It is well that the citizens of a country should be 
aware of its laws. 

It is not for me to promulgate obiter dicta ; to say that 
whatever the cloudiness of its phrasing, this law was 
obviously designed to prevent the circulation of immoral 
advertisements, propaganda for secret cures, and slips of 
paper that are part of the bawdy house business ; that 
it was not designed to prevent the mailing of Dante, 
Villon, and Catullus. Whatever the subjective attitude 
of the framers of this legislation, we have fortunately a 
decision from a learned judge to guide us in its working. 

"I have little doubt that numerous really great writ- 
ings would come under the ban if tests that are fre- 
quently current were applied, and these approved pub- 
lications doubtless at times escape only because they 



IN THE VORTEX 

come within the term "classics," which means, for the 
purpose of the application of the statute, that they are 
ordinarily immune from interference, because they have 
the sanction of age and fame and USUALLY APPEAL 
TO A COMPARATIVELY LIMITED NUMBER OF 
READERS." 

The capitals are my own. 

The gentle reader will picture to himself the state of 
America IF the classics were widely read; IF these 
books which in the beginning lifted mankind from sav- 
agery, and which from A. D. 1400 onward have gradually 
redeemed us from the darkness of medievalism, should 
be read by the millions who now consume Mr. Hearst 
and the Ladies' Home Journal! I ! ! ! ! 

Also there are to be no additions. No living man is 
to contribute or to attempt to contribute to the classics. 
Obviously even though he acquire fame before publish- 
ing, he can not have the sanction of "age." 

Our literature does not fall under an inquisition; it 
does not bow to an index arranged by a council. It is 
subject to the taste of one individual. 

Our hundred and twenty millions of inhabitants desire 
their literature sifted for them by one individual selected 
without any examination of his literary qualificatons. 

I can not write of this thing in heat. It is a far too 
serious matter. 

The classics "escape." They are "immune" "ordinar- 
ily." I can but close with the cadences of that blessed 
little Brother of Christ, San Francesco d'Assisi: 



INSTIGATIONS 

CANTICO DEL SOLE 

The thought of what America would be like 
If the classics had a wide circulation 

Troubles my sleep, 
The thought of what America, 
The thougfit of what America, 
The thought of what America would be like 
If the classics had a wide circulation 

Troubles my sleep, 

Nunc dimittis, Now lettest thou thy servant, 
Now lettest thou thy servant 

Depart in peace. 
The thought of what America, 
The thought of what America, 
The thought of what America would be like 
If the classics had a wide circulation . . . 

Oh well ! 

It troubles my sleep. 



Oravimus 



PART SECOND 



OUR TETRARCHAL PRECIEUSE 

(A divagation from Jules Laforgue) 

THERE arose, as from a great ossified sponge, the 
comic-opera, Florence-Nightingale light-house, with 
junks beneath it clicking in vesperal meretricious mono- 
tony ; behind them the great cliff obtruded solitary into 
the oily, poluphloisbious ocean, lifting its confection of 
pylons ; the poplar rows, sunk yards, Luna Parks, etc., 
of the Tetrarchal Palace polished jasper and basalt, 
funereal imdertakerial, lugubrious, blistering in the high- 
lights under a pale esoteric sun-beat; encrusted, bespat- 
tered and damascened with cynocephali, sphinxes, 
winged bulls, bulbuls, and other sculptural by-laws. The 
screech-owls from the jungle could only look out upon 
the shadowed parts of the sea, which they did without 
optic inconvenience, so deep was the obscured contagion 
of their afforested blackness. 

The two extraneous princes went up toward the stable- 
yard, gaped at the effulgence of peacocks, glared at the 
derisive gestures of the horse-cleaners, adumbrated in- 
sults, sought vainly for a footman or any one to take 
up their cards. 

The tetrarch appeared on a terrace, removing his cere- 
monial gloves. 

The water, sprinkled in the streets in anticipation of 
the day's parade, dried in little circles of dust. The 

253 



254 INSTIGATIONS 

tetrarch puffed at his hookah with an exaggeration of 
dignity; he was disturbed at the presence of princes, he 
was disturbed by the presence of Jao; he desired to 
observe his own ruin, the slow deliquescence of his posi- 
tion, with a fitting detachment and lassitude. Jao had 
distributed pamphlets, the language was incomprehen- 
sible ; Jao had been stored in the cellarage, his following 
distributed pamphlets. 

In the twentieth century of his era the house of Emer- 
aud Archytypas was about to have its prize bit of fire- 
works: a war with the other world . . . after so many 
ages of purely esoteric culture ! 

Jao had declined both the poisoned coffee and the 
sacred sword of the Samurai, courtesies offered, in this 
case, to an incomprehensible foreigner. Even now, with 
a superlation of form, the sacred kriss had been sent to 
the court executioner, it was no mere every-day imple- 
ment. The princqs arrived {at this juncture. There 
sounded from the back alleys the preparatory chirping 
of choral societies, and the wailing of pink-lemonade 
sellers. To-morrow the galley would be gone. 

Leaning over the syrupy clematis, Emeraud crumbled 
brioches for the fishes, reminding himself that he had 
not yet collected the remains of his wits. There was no 
galvanization known to art, science, industry or the 
ministrations of sister-souls that would rouse his long 
since respectable carcass. 

Yet at his birth a great tempest had burst above the 
dynastic manor; credible persons had noticed the light- 
nings scrolling Alpha and Omega above it ; and nothing 
had happened. He had given up flagellation. He 
walked daily to the family necropolis : a cool place in the 
summer. He summoned the Arranger of Inanities. 



OUR TETRARCHAL PRECIEUSE 255 
II 

Strapped, pomaded, gloved, laced; with patulous 
beards, with their hair parted at the backs of their heads ; 
with their cork-screw curls pulled back from theit-Jere- 
heads to give themselves tone on their medallions ; with 
helmets against one hip ; twirling the musk-balls of their 
sabres with their disengaged restless ringers, the hyper- 
borean royalties were admitted. And the great people 
received them, in due order: chief mandarins in clump, 
the librarian of the palace (Conde de las Navas), the 
Arbiter Elegantium, the Curator major of Symbols, the 
Examiner of the High Schools, the Supernumerary 
priest of the Snow Cult, the Administrator of Death, and 
the Chief Attendant Collector of Death-duties. 

Their Highnesses bowed and addressed the Tetrarch: 
". . . felicitous wind . . . day so excessively glorious 
. . .wafted . . . these isles . . . notwithstanding not 
also whereof . . . basilica far exceeding ., . . Ind, 
Ormus . . . Miltonesco . . . etc. ... to say nothing of 
the seven-stopped barbary organ and the Tedium lauda- 
mus . . . etc. . . ." 

(Lunch was brought in.) 

Kallipagous artichokes, a light collation of tunny-fish, 
asparagus served on pink reeds, eels pearl-gray and dove- 
gray, gamut and series of compotes and various wines 
(without alcohol). 

Under impulsion of the Arranger of Inanities the 
pomaded princes next began their inspection of the build- 
ings. A pneumatic lift hove them upward to the outer 
rooms of Salome's suite. The lift door clicked on its 
gilt-brass double expansion-clamps; the procession ad- 
vanced between rows of wall-facing negresses whose 
naked shoulder-blades shone like a bronze of oily opacity. 



256 INSTIGATIONS 

They entered the hall of majolica, very yellow with thick 
blue incrustations, glazed images, with flushed and pro- 
tuberant faces ; in the third atrium they came upon a 
basin of joined ivory, a white bath-sponge, rather large, 
a pair of very pink slippers. The next room was littered 
with books bound in white vellum and pink satin; the 
next with mathematical instruments, hydrostats, sextants, 
astrolabial discs, the model of a gasolene motor, a nickel- 
plated donkey engine. . . . They proceeded up metal 
stairs to the balcony, from which a rustling and swaying 
and melodiously enmousselined figure, jonquil-colored 
and delicate, preceded or rather predescended them by 
dumb-waiter, a route which they were not ready to fol- 
low. The machine worked for five floors : usage private 
and not ceremonial. 

The pomaded princes stood to attention, bowed with 
deference and with gallantry. The Arranger ignored 
the whole incident, ascended the next flight of stairs and 
began on the telescope : 

"Grand equatorial, 22 yards inner tube length, revolv- 
able cupola (frescoes in water-tight paint) weight 
200,089 kilos, circulating on fourteen steel castors in a 
groove of chloride of magnesium, 2 minutes for com- 
plete revolution. The princess can turn it herself." 

The princes allowed their attention to wander, they 
noted their ship beneath in the harbor, and calculated 
the drop, they then compared themselves with the bro- 
caded and depilated denizens of the escort, after which 
they felt safer. They were led passively into the Small 
Hall of Perfumes, presented with protochlorine of mer- 
cury, bismuth regenerators, cantharides, lustral waters 
guaranteed free from hydrated lead. Were conducted 
thence to the hanging garden, where the form her- 
metically enmousselined, the jonquil-colored gauze with 



OUR TETRARCHAL PRECIEUSE 257 

the pea-sized dark spots on it, disappeared from the 
opposite slope. Molossian hounds yapping and romping 
about her. 

The trees lifted their skinned-salmon trunks, the heavy 
blackness was broken with a steely, metallic sunshine. A 
sea wind purred through the elongated forest like an 
express-train in a tunnel. Polychrome statues obtruded 
themselves from odd corners. An elephant swayed ab- 
sentmindedly, the zoo was loose all over the place. The 
keeper of the aquarium moralized for an hour upon the 
calm life of his fishes. From beneath the dark tanks 
the hareem sent up a decomposed odor, and a melancholy 
slave chantey saturated the corridors, a low droning 
osmosis. They advanced to the cemetery, wanting all 
the time to see Jao. 

This exhibit came at last in its turn. They were let 
down in a sling-rope through a musty nitrated grill, ob- 
serving in this descent the ill-starred European in his 
bath-robe, his nose in a great fatras of papers over- 
scrawled with illegible pot-hooks. 

He rose at their hefty salutation; readjusted his spec- 
tacles, blinked ; and then it came over him : These damn 
pustulent princes ! Here ! and at last ! Memory over- 
whelmed him. How many, on how many rotten De- 
cember and November evenings had he stopped, had he 
not stopped in the drizzle, in the front line of workmen, 
his nose crushed against a policeman, and craning his 
scraggy neck to see them getting out of their state ba- 
rouche, going up the interminable front stairway to the 
big-windowed rococo palace ; he muttering that the 
"Times" were at hand. 

And now the revolution was accomplished. The prole- 
tariat had deputed them. They were here to howk 
him out of quod; a magnificent action, a grace of royal 



258 INSTIGATIONS 

humility, performed at the will of the people, the new era 
had come into being. He saluted them automatically, 
searching for some phrase European, historic, fraternal, 
of course, but still noble. 

The Royal Nephew, an oldish military man with a 
bald-spot, ubiquitarian humorist, joking with every one 
in season and out (like Napoleon), hating all doctri- 
naires (like Napoleon), was however the first to break 
silence : "Huk, heh, old sour bean, bastard of Jean 
Jacques Rousseau, is this where you've come to be 
hanged? Eh? I'm damned if it ain't a good thing." 

The unfortunate publicist stiffened. 

"Idealogue !" said the Nephew. 

The general strike had been unsuccessful. Jao bent 
with emotion. Tears showed in his watery eyes, slid 
dow r n his worn cheek, trickled into his scraggy beard. 
There was then a sudden change in his attitude. He 
began to murmur caresses in the gentlest of European 
diminutives. 

They started. There was a tinkle of keys, and through 
a small opposite doorway they discerned the last flash 
of the mousseline, the pale, jonquil-colored, blackspotted. 

The Nephew readjusted his collar. A subdued cortege 
reascended. 



Ill 



The ivory orchestra lost itself in gay fatalistic impro- 
visation ; the opulence of two hundred over-fed tetrarchal 
Dining-Companions swished in the Evening salon, and 
overflowed coruscated couches. They slithered through 
their genuflections to the throne. The princes puffed out 
their elbows, simultaneously attempting to disentangle 
their Collars-of-the-Fleece in the idea that these would 



OUR TETRARCHAL PRECIEUSK 259 

be a suitable present for their entertainer. Neither suc- 
ceeded ; suddenly in the midst of the so elaborate setting 
they perceived the aesthetic nullity of the ornament, its 
connotations were too complex to go into. 

The tetrarchal children (superb productions, in the 
strictly esoteric sense) were led in over the jonquil-col- 
ored reed-matting. A water- jet shot up from the centre 
of the great table, and fell plashing above on the red and 
white rubber awning. A worn entertainment beset the 
diminutive music-hall stage: acrobats, flower-dancers, 
contortionists, comic wrestlers, to save the guests con- 
versation. A trick skater was brought in on real ice, did 
the split, engraved a gothic cathedral. The Virgin Ser- 
pent as she was called, entered singing "Biblis, Biblis"; 
she was followed by a symbolic Mask of the Graces ; 
which gave place to trapeze virtuosi. 

An horizontal geyser of petals was shot over the audi- 
torium. The hookahs were brought in. Jao presumably 
heard all this over his head. The diners' talk became 
general, the princes supporting the army, authority, re- 
ligion a bulwark of the state, international arbitration, 
the perfectibility of the race ; the mandarins of the pal- 
ace held for the neutralization of contacts, initiated cen- 
acles, frugality and segregation. 

The music alone carried on the esoteric undertone, si- 
lence spread with great feathers, poised hawk-wise. Sa- 
lome appeared on the high landing, descended the twisted 
stair, still stiff in her sheath of mousseline ; a small ebony 
lyre dangled by a gilt cord from her wrist; she nodded 
to her parent ; paused before the Alcazar curtain, balanc- 
ing, swaying on her anaemic pigeon-toed little feet until 
every one had had a good look at her. She looked at no 
one in particular; her hair dusty with exiguous pollens 
curled clown over her narrow shoulders, ruffled over her 



260 INSTIGATIONS 

forehead, with stems of yellow flowers twisted into it. 
From the dorsal joist of her bodice, from a sort of pearl 
matrix socket there rose a peacock tail, moire, azure, 
glittering with shot emerald : an halo for her marble- 
white face. 

Superior, graciously careless, conscious of her unique- 
ness, of her autochthonous entity, her head cocked to the 
left, her eyes fermented with the interplay of contradic- 
tory expiations, her lips a pale circonflex, her teeth with 
still paler gums showing their super-crucified half-smile. 
An exquisite recluse, formed in the island aesthetic, there 
alone comprehended. Hermetically enmousselined, the 
black spots in the fabric appeared so many punctures in 
the soft brightness of her sheath. Her arms of angelic 
nudity, the two breasts like two minute almonds, the scarf 
twined just above the adorable umbilical groove (nature 
desires that nude woman should be adorned with a 
girdle) composed in a cup-shaped embrace of the hips. 
Behind her the peacock halo, her pale pigeon-toed feet 
covered only by the watered-yellow fringe and by the 
bright-yellow anklet. She balanced, a little budding 
messiah ; her head over-weighted ; not knowing what to 
do with her hands ; her petticoat so simple, art long, very 
long, and life so very inextensive ; so obviously ready for 
the cosy-corner, for little talks in conservatories . . . 

And she was going to speak . . . 

The Tetrarch bulged in his cushions, as if she had 
already said something. His attention compelled that 
of the princes ; he brushed aside the purveyor of pine- 
apples. 

She cleared her throat, laughing, as if not to be taken 
too seriously; the sexless, timbreless voicelet, like that 
of a sick child asking for medicine, began to the lyre 
accompaniment : 



OUR TETRARCHAL PRECIEUSE 261 

"Canaan, excellent nothingness; nothingness-latent, 
circumambient, about to be the day after to-morrow, in- 
cipient, estimable, absolving, coexistent . . ." 

The princes were puzzled. "Concessions by the five 
senses to an all-inscribing affective insanity; latitudes, 
altitudes, nebulae, Medusae of gentle water, affinities of 
the ineradicable, passages over earth so eminently iden- 
tical with incalculably numerous duplicates, alone in in- 
definite infinite. Do you take me? I mean that the 
pragmatic essence attracted self -ward dynamically but 
more or less in its own volition, whistling in the bag- 
pipes of the soul without termination. But to be nat- 
ural passives, to enter into the cosmos of harmonics. 
Hydrocephalic theosophies, act it, aromas of populace, 
phenomena without stable order, contaminated with pru- 
dence. Fatal Jordans, abysmal Ganges to an end with 
'em insubmersible sidereal currents nurse-maid cos- 
mogonies." 

She pushed back her hair dusty with pollens, the soft 
handclapping began; her eyelids drooped slightly, her 
faintly-suggested breasts lifted slightly, showed more 
rosy through the almond-shaped eyelets of her corsage. 
She was still fingering the ebony lyre. 

"Bis, bis, brava !" cried her audience. 

Still she waited. 

"Go on ! You shall have whatever you like. Go on, 
my dear," said the Tetrarch; "we are all so damned 
bored. Go on, Salome, you shall have any blamed thing 
you like: the Great-Seal, the priesthood of the Snow 
Cult, a job in the University, even to half of my oil stock. 
But inoculate us with ... eh ... with the gracious 
salve of this cosmoconception, with this parthenospotless- 
ness." 

The company in his wake exhaled an inedited bore- 



262 INSTIGATIONS 

dom. They were all afraid of each other. Tiaras nod- 
ded, but no one confessed to any difficulty in following 
the thread of her argument. They were, racially, so 
very correct. 

Salome wound on in summary rejection of theogonies, 
theodicies, comparative wisdoms of nations (short shift, 
tone of recitative). Nothing for nothing, perhaps one 
measure of nothing. She continued her mystic loquac- 
ity: "O tides, lunar oboes, avenues, lawns of twilight, 
winds losing caste in November, haymakings, vocations 
manquees, expressions of animals, chances." 

Jonquil colored mousselines with black spots, eyes fer- 
mented, smiles crucified, adorable umbilici, peacock aure- 
oles, fallen carnations, inconsequent fugues. One felt 
reborn, reinitiate and rejuvenate, the soul expiring sys- 
tematically in spirals across indubitable definitive show- 
ers, for the good of earth, understood everywhere, palp 
of Varuna, air omniversal, assured if one were but ready. 

Salome continued insistently: "The pure state, I tell 
you, sectaries of the consciousness, why this convention 
of separations, individuals by mere etiquette, indivisible? 
Breathe upon the thistle-down of these sciences, as you 
call them, in the orient of my pole-star. Is it life to per- 
sist in putting oneself au courant with oneself, constantly 
to inspect oneself, and then query at each step: am I 
wrong? Species! Categories! and kingdoms, bah!! 
Nothing is lost, nothing added, it is all reclaimed in ad- 
vance. There is no ticket to the confessional for the 
heir of the prodigies. Not expedients and expiations, 
but vintages of the infinite, not experimental but in fa- 
tality." 

The little yellow vocalist with the black funereal spots 
broke the lyre over her knee, and regained her dignity. 
The intoxicated crowd mopped their foreheads. An em- 



OUR TETRARCHAL PRECIEUSE 263 

barrassing silence. The hyperboreans looked at each 
other: "What time will they put her to bed?" But 
neither ventured articulation; they did not even inspect 
their watches. It couldn't have been later than six. 
The slender voice once more aroused them: 

"And now, father, I wish you to send me the head of 
Jao Kanan, on any saucer you like. I am going upstairs. 
I expect it." 

"But ... but ... my dear . . . this . . . this . . ." 
However the hall was vigorously of the opinion that 
the Tiara should accomplish the will of Salome. 

Emeraud glanced at the princes, who gave sign neither 
of approbation nor of disapprobation. The cage-birds 
again began shrieking. The matter was none of their 
business. 

Decide ! 

The Tetrarch threw his seal to the Administrator of 
Death. The guests were already up, changing the con- 
versation on their way to the evening tepidarium. 

IV 

With her elbows on the observatory railing, Salome, 
disliking popular fetes, listened to her familiar polu- 
phloisbious ocean. Calm evening. 

Stars out in full company, eternities of zeniths of em- 
bers. Why go into exile? 

Salome, milk-sister to the Via Lactea, seldom lost her- 
self in constellations. Thanks to photo-spectrum analy- 
sis the stars could be classified as to color and magni- 
tudes; she had commanded a set of diamonds in the 
proportionate sizes to adorn nocturnally her hair and her 
person, over mousseline of deep mourning-violet with 
gold dots in the surface. Stars below the sixteenth mag- 



264, INSTIGATIONS 

nitude were not, were not in her world, she envisaged her 
twenty-four millions of subjects. 

Isolated nebulous matrices, not the formed nebulae, 
were her passion; she ruled out planetiform discs and 
sought but the unformed, perforated, tentacular. Orion's 
gaseous fog was the Brother Benjamin of her galaxy. 
But she was no more the "little" Salome, this night 
brought a change of relations, exorcised from her vir- 
ginity of tissue she felt peer to these matrices, fecund 
as they in gyratory evolutions. Yet this fatal sacrifice 
to the cult (still happy in getting out of so discreetly) 
had obliged her in order to get rid of her initiator, to 
undertake a step (grave perhaps), perhaps homicide; 
finally to assure silence, cool water to contingent people, 
elixir of an hundred nights' distillation. It must serve. 

Ah, well, such was her life. She was a specialty, a 
minute specialite. 

There on a cushion among the debris of her black 
ebony lyre, lay Jao's head, like Orpheus' head in the old 
days, gleaming, encrusted with phosphorus, washed, 
anointed, barbered, grinning at the 24 million stars. 

As soon as she had got it, Salome, inspired by the 
true spirit of research, had commenced the renowned ex- 
periments after decollation; of which we have heard so 
much. She awaited. The electric passes of her hyp- 
notic manual brought from it nothing but inconsequential 
grimaces. 

She had an idea, however. 

She perhaps lowered her eyes, out of respect to Orion, 
stiffening herself to gaze upon the nebulae of her puber- 
ties . . . for ten minutes. What nights, what nights in 
the future! Who will have the last word about it? 
Choral societies, fire-crackers down there in the city. 

Finally Salome shook herself, like a sensible person, 



<)1 T R TETRARCHAL PREQEUSE 265 

reset, readjusted her fichu, took off the gray gold-spotted 
symbol-jewel of Orion, placed it between Jao's lips as 
an host, kissed the lips pityingly and hermetically, sealed 
them with corrosive wax (a very speedy procedure). 

Then with a ''Bah !" mutinous, disappointed, she seized 
the genial boko of the late Jao Kanan, in delicate fem- 
inine hands. 

As she wished the head to land plumb in the sea with- 
out bounding upon the cliffs, she gave a good swing in 
turning. The fragment described a sufficient and phos- 
phorescent parabola, a noble parabola. But unfortu- 
nately the little astronomer had terribly miscalculated her 
impetus, and tripping over the parapet with a cry finally 
human she hurtled from crag to crag, to fall, shattered, 
into the picturesque anfractuosities of the breakers, far 
from the noise of the national festival, lacerated and 
naked, her skull shivered, paralyzed with a vertigo, in 
short, gone to the bad, to suffer for nearly an hour. 

She had not even the viaticum of seeing the phospho- 
rescent star, the floating head of Jao on the water. And 
the heights of heaven were distant. 

Thus died Salome of the Isles (of the White Esoteric 
Isles, in especial) less from uncultured misventure than 
from trying to fabricate some distinction between herself I 
and every one else ; like the rest of us. 



VI 



GENESIS, OR, THE FIRST BOOK IN THE 
BIBLE * 

("SUBJECT TO AUTHORITY") 

THE sacred author of this work, Genesis, complied 
with the ideas acceptable to his era ; it was almost neces- 
sary ; for without this condescension he would not have 
been understood. There remain for us merely a few re- 
flections on the physics of those remote times. As for 
the theology of the book : we respect it, we believe it most 
firmly, we would not risk the faintest touch to its surface. 

"In the beginning God created heaven and earth." 
hat is the way they translate it, yet there is scarcely 
any one so ignorant as not to know that the original reads 
'the_gods created heaven and earth"; which reading con- 
forms to tKe Phoenician idea that God employed lesser 
divinities to untangle chaos. The Phoenicians had been 
long established when the Hebrews broke into some few 
provinces of their land. It was quite natural that these 
latter should have learned their language and borrowed 
their ideas of the cosmos. 

Did the ancient Phoenician philosophers in "the time 
of Moses" know enough to regard the earth as a point 
in relation to the multitude of globes which God has 
placed in immensity? The very ancient and false idea 

* Translated from an eighteenth-century author. 
266 



GENESIS 267 

that heaven was made for the earth has nearly always 
prevailed among ignorant peoples. It is scarcely pos- 
sible that such good navigators as the Phoenicians should 
not have had a few decent astronomers, but the old preju- 
dices were quite strong, and were gently handled by the 
author of Genesis, who wrote to teach us God's ways and 
not to instruct us in physics. 

"The earth was all tohu bohu and void, darkness was 
over the face of the deep, the spirit of God was borne on 
the waters." 

"Tohu bohu" means precisely chaos, disorder. The 
earth was not yet formed as it is at present. Matter ex- 
isted, the divine power had only to straighten things out. 
The "spirit of God" is literally the "breath" or "wind" 
which stirred up the waters. This idea is founoTin frag- 
ments of the Phoenician author, Sanchoniathon. The 
Phoenicians, like all the other peoples of antiquity, be- 
lieved matter eternal. There is not one author of all 
those times who ever said that one could make something 
of nothing. Even in the Bible there is no passage which 
claims that matter was made out of nothing, not but what 
this creation from nothing is true, but its verity was un-H 
known to the carnal Jews. 

Men have been always divided on the eternity of the ; 
world, but never on the eternity of matter. 

"Gigni de nihilo nihilum, et in nihilum nil posse re- 
"i'crti," writes Persius, and all antiquity shared his opin- 
ion. God said, "Let there be light," and there was light, 
and he saw that the light was good, and he divided the 
light from darkness, and he called the light day and the 
darkness night, and this was the evening and the morning 
of the first day. And God also said that the firmament, 
etc., the second day . . . saw that it was good. 

Let us begin by seeing whether the bishop of Av- 



268 INSTIGATIONS 

ranches Huet, Leclerc, etc., are right, against those who 
claim that this is a sublime piece of eloquence. 

The Jewish author lumps in the light with the other 
objects of creation; he uses the same turn of phrase, 
"saw that it was good/' The sublime should lift itself 
above the average. Light is no better treated than any- 
thing else in this passage. It was another respected 
opinion that light did not come from the sun. Men saw 
it spread through the air before sunrise and after sunset ; 
they thought the sun served merely to reinforce it. The 
author of Genesis conforms to popular error : he has the 
sun and moon made four days after the light. It is un- 
likely that there was a morning and evening before the 
sun came into being, but the inspired author bows to the 
vague and stupid prejudice of his nation. It seems prob- 
able that God was not attempting to educate the Jews in 
philosophy or cosmogony. He could lift their spirits 
straight into truth, but he preferred to descend to their 
level. One can not repeat this answer too often. 

The separation of the light from the darkness is not 
part of another physical theory ; it seems that night and 
day were mixed up like two kinds of grain ; and that they 
were sifted out of each other. It is sufficiently well es- 
tablished that darkness is nothing but the deprivation of 
light, and that there is light only in so far as our eyes 
receive the sensation, but no one had thought of this at 
that time. 

The idea of the firmament is also of respectable an- 
tiquity. People imagined the skies very solid, because 
the same set of things always happened there. The skies 
circulated over our heads, they must therefore be very 
strong. The means of calculating how many exhalations 
of the earth and how many seas would be needed to keep 



GENESIS 269 

the clouds full of water? There was then no Halley to 
write out the equations. There were tanks of water in 
heaven. These tanks were held up on a good steady 
dome ; but one could see through the dome ; it must have 
been made out of crystal. In order that the water could 
be poured over the earth there had to be doors, sluices, 
cataracts which could be opened, turned on. Such was 
the current astronomy, and one was writing for Jews ; it 
was quite necessary to take up their silly ideas, which 
they had borrowed from other peoples only a little less 
stupid. 

"God made two great lights, one to preside over the 
day, the other the night, and he made also the stars." 

True, this shows the same continuous ignorance of na- 
ture. The Jews did not know that the moonlight is 
merely reflection. The author speaks of the stars as 
luminous points, which they look like, although they are 
at times suns with planets swinging about them. But 
holy spirit harmonized with the mind of the time. If he 
had said that the sun is a million times as large as the 
earth, and the moon fifty times smaller, no one would 
have understood him. They appear to be two stars of 
sizes not very unequal. 

"God said also : let us make man in our image, let him 
rule over the fishes, etc." 

What did the Jews mean by "in our image" ? They 
meant, like all antiquity: 

Finxit in eifigiem moderantum cuncta deorwn. 

One can not make "images" save of bodies. No na- 
tion then imagined a bodiless god, and it is impossible to 
picture him as such. One might indeed say "god is noth- 
ing of anything we know," but then one would not have 
any idea what he is. The Jews constantly believed god 
corporal, as did all the rest of the nations. All the first 



270 INSTIGATIONS 

fathers of the church also believed god corporal, until 
they had swallowed Plato's ideas, or rather until the 
lights of Christianity had grown purer. 

"He created them male and female." 
If God or the secondary gods created man male and fe- 
male in their resemblance, it would seem that the Jews 
believed God and the Gods were male and female. One 
searches to see whether the author meant to say that man 
was at the start ambisextrous or if he means that God 
made Adam and Eve the same day. The most natural 
interpretation would be that god made Adam and Eve 
at the same time, but this is absolutely contradicted by 
the formation of woman from the rib, a long time after 
the first seven days. 

"And he rested the seventh day." 

The Phoenicians, Chaldeans, and Indians say that God 
made the world in six periods, which Zoroaster calls the 
six gahambars, as celebrated among Persians. 

It is incontestable that all these people had a theogony 
long before the Jews got to Horeb and Sinai, and before 
they could have had writers. Several savants think it 
likely that the allegory of the six days is imitated from 
the six periods. God might have permitted great na- 
tions to have this idea before he inspired the Jews, just 
as he had permitted other people to discover the arts 
before the Jews had attained any. 

"The place of delight shall be a river which waters a 
garden, and from it shall flow four rivers, Phison . . . 
Gehon . . ., etc., Tigris, Euphrates . . ." 

According to this version the terrestrial paradise would 
have contained about a third of Asia and Africa. The 
Euphrates and Tigris have their sources sixty miles apart 
in hideous mountains which do not look the least like a 
garden. The river which borders Ethiopia can be only 



GENESIS 27. 

the Nile, whose source is a little over a thousand miles 
from those of the Tigris and the Euphrates ; and if Phi- 
son is the Phase, it is curious to start a Scythian river 
from the fount of a river of Africa. One must look 
further afield for the meaning of all these rivers. Every 
commentator makes his own Eden. 

Some one has said that the Garden was like the gar- 
dens of Eden at Saana in Arabia Felix celebrated in an- 
tiquity, and that the parvenu Hebrews might have been 
an Arab tribe taking to themselves credit for the prettiest 
thing in the best canton of Arabia, as they have always 
taken to themselves the traditions of all the great peoples 
who enslaved them. But in any case they were led by 
the Lord. 

''The Lord took man and set him in the midst of the 
garden, to tend it." It was all very well saying "tend 
it," "cultivate the garden," but it would have been very 
difficult for Adam to cultivate a garden 3,000 miles long. 
Perhaps he had helpers. It is another chance for the 
commentators to exercise their gifts of divination . , . 
as they do with the rivers. 

"Eat not of the fruit of the knowledge of good and 
evil." It is difficult to think that there was a tree which 
taught good and evil ; as there are pear trees and peach 
trees. One asks why God did not wish man to know 
good from evil. Would not the opposite wish (if one 
dare say so) appear more worthy of God, and much more 
needful to man? It seems to our poor reason that God 
might have ordered him to eat a good deal of this fruit, 
but one must submit one's reason and conclude that obe- 
dience to God is the proper course for us. 

"If you eat of the fruit you shall die." 
Yet Adam ate, and did not die in the least; they say he 
lived another nine centuries. Several "Fathers" have 



272 INSTIGATIONS 

considered all this as an allegory. Indeed, one may say 
that other animals do not know that they die, but that 
man knows it through his reason. This reason is the 
tree of knowledge which makes him foresee his finish. 
This explanation may be more reasonable, but we do not 
dare to pronounce on it. 

"The Lord said also: It is not good that man should 
be alone, let us make him an helpmate like to him." One 
expects that the Lord is going to give him a woman, but 
first he brings up all the beasts. This may be the trans- 
position of some copyist. 

"And the name which Adam gave to each animal is its 
real name." An animal's real name would be one which 
designated all the qualifications of its species, or at least 
the principal traits, but this does not exist in any lan- 
guage. There are certain imitative words, cock and 
cuckoo, and alali in Greek, etc. Moreover, if Adam had 
known the real names and therefore the properties of 
the animals, he must have already eaten of the tree of 
knowledge ; or else it would seem that God need not 
have forbidden him the tree, since he already knew more 
than the Royal Society, or the Academy. 

Observe that this is the first time Adam is named in 
Genesis. The first man according to the Brahmins was 
Adimo, son of the earth. Adam and Eve mean the same 
thing in Phoenician, another indication that the holy spirit 
fell in with the received ideas. 

"When Adam was asleep, etc., ... rib ... made a 
woman." The Lord, in the preceding chapter, had al- 
ready created them male and female ; why should he take 
a rib out of the man to make a woman already existing? 
We are told that the author announces in one place 
what he explains in another. We are told that this alle- 
gory shows woman submitted to her husband. Many 



GENESIS 273 

people have believed on the strength of these verses 
that men have one rib less than women, but this is an 
heresy and anatomy shows us that a woman is no better 
provided with ribs than her husband. 

"Now the serpent was the most subtle of beasts," etc., 
"he said to the woman," etc. 

There is nowhere the least mention of the devil or a 
devil. All is physical. The serpent was considered not 
only the subtlest of all beasts by all oriental nations ; he 
was also believed immortal. The Chaldeans had a fable 
about a fight between God and a serpent ; it is preserved 
by Pherecides. Origen cites it in his sixth book against 
Celsus. They carried snakes in the feasts of Bacchus. 
The Egyptians attributed a sort of divinity to the ser- 
pent, as Eusebius tells us in his "Evangelical Prepara- 
tions," book I, chapter X. In India and Arabia, and in 
China, the serpent was the symbol of life; the Chinese 
emperors before Moses wore the serpent sign on their 
breasts. 

Eve is not surprised at the serpent's talking to her. 
Animals are always talking in the old stories ; thus when 
Ptlpai and Locman make animals talk no one is ever 
surprised. 

All this tale seems physical and denuded of allegory. 
It even tells us the reason why the serpent who ramped 
before this now crawls on its belly, and why we always 
try to destroy it (at least so they say) ; precisely as we 
are told in all ancient metamorphoses why the crow, who 
was white, is now black, why the owl stays at home in the 
daytime, etc. But the "Fathers" have believed it an alle- 
gory manifest and respectable, and it is safest to believe 
them. 

"I will multiply your griefs and your pregnancies, ye 
shall bring forth children with grief, ye shall be beneath 



274 INSTIGATIONS 

the power of the man and he shall rule over you." One 
asks why the multiplication of pregnancies is a punish- 
ment. It was on the contrary a very great blessing, and 
especially for the Jews. The pains of childbirth are 
alarming only for delicate women ; those accustomed to 
work are brought to bed very easily, especially in hot cli- 
mates. On the other hand, animals sometimes suffer in 
littering, and even die of it. As for the superiority of 
man over woman, this is the quite natural result of his 
bodily and intellectual forces. The male organs are gen- 
erally more capable of consecutive effort, more fit for 
manual and intellectual tasks. But when the woman has 
fist or wit stronger than those of her husband she rules 
the roost, and the man is submitted to woman. This is 
true, but before the original sin there may have been 
neither pain nor submission. 

"God made them tunics of skin." 

This passage proves very nicely that the Jews believed in 
a corporal god. A Rabbi named Eliezer has written 
that God covered Adam and Eve with the skin of the 
tempter serpent ; Origen claims that the "tunic of skin" 
was a new flesh, a new body which God made for man, 
but one should have more respect for the text. 

"And the Lord said 'Behold Adam, who is become like 
one of us/ " It seems that the Jews at first admired sev- 
eral gods. It is considerably more difficult to make out 
what they mean by the word God, Eloini. Several com- 
mentators state that this phrase, "one of us," means the 
Trinity, but there is no question of the Trinity in the 
Bible.* 

* The reader will remember in Lander's Chinese dialogues, 
when the returned mandarin is telling the Emperor's children 
about England, there is one place where they burst into giggles 
'because they had been taught some arithmetic." 



GENESIS 275 

The Trinity is not a composite of several gods, it is the 
same god tripled ; the Jews never heard tell of a god in 
three persons. By these words "like unto us" it is prob- 
able that the Jews meant angels, Elo'im. For this reason 
various rash men of learning have thought that the book 
was not written until a time when the Jews had adopted 
a belief in inferior gods, but this view is condemned.* 

"The Lord set him outside the garden of delights, that 
he might dig in the earth." Yet some say that God had 
put him in the garden, in order that he might cultivate it. 
If gardener Adam merely became laborer Adam, he was 
not so much the worse off. This solution of the diffi- 
culty does not seem to us sufficiently serious. It would 
be better to say that God punished Adam's disobedience 
by banishing him from his birthplace. 

Certain over-temerarious commentators say that the 
whole of the story refers to an idea once common to all 
men, i.e., that past times were better than present. Peo- 
ple have always bragged of the past in order to run down 
the present. Men overburdened with work have imag- 
ined that pleasure is idleness, not having had wit enough 
to conceive that man is never worse off than when he has 
nothing to do. Men seeing themselves not infrequently 
miserable forged an idea of a time when all men were 
happy. It is as if they had said, once upon a time no tree 
withered, no beast fell sick, no animal devoured another, 
the spiders did not catch flies. Hence the ideal of the 
Golden Age, of the egg of Arimana, of the serpent who 
stole the secret of eternal life from the donkey, of the 
combat of T}'phon and Osiris, of Ophionee and the gods, 
of Pandora's casket, and all these other old stories, some- 
times very ingenious and never, in the least way, instruc- 

* The reader is referred to our heading : "Subject to au- 
thority". 



276 INSTIGATIONS 

live. But we should believe that the fables of other na- 
tions are imitation of Hebrew history, since we still have 
the Hebrew history and the history of other savage peo- 
ples is for the most part destroyed. Moreover, the wit- 
nesses in favor of Genesis are quite irrefutable. 

"And he set before the garden of delight a cherubin 
with a turning and flaming sword to keep guard over the 
gateway to the tree of life." The word "kerub" means 
bullock. A bullock with a burning sword is an odd sight 
at a doorway. But the Jews have represented angels as 
bulls and as sparrow hawks, despite the prohibition to 
make graven images. Obviously they got these bulls and 
hawks from Egyptians who imitated all sorts of things, 
and who worshipped the bull as the symbol of agriculture 
and the hawk as the symbol of winds. Probably the tale 
is an allegory, a Jewish allegory, the kerub means "na- 
ture." A symbol made of a bull's body, a man's head and 
a hawk's wings. 

"The Lord put his mark upon Cain." 
"What a Lord !" say the incredulous. He accepts Abel's 
offering, rejects that of the elder brother, without giving 
any trace of a reason. The Lord provided the cause of 
the first brotherly enmity. This is a moral instruction, 
most truly, a lesson to be learned from all ancient fables, 
to wit, that scarcely had the race come into existence 
before one brother assassinated another, but what ap- 
pears to the wise of this world, contrary to all justice, 
contrary to all the common sense principles, is that God 
has eternally damned the whole human race, and has 
slaughtered his own son, quite uselessly, for an apple, 
and that he has pardoned a fratricide. Did I say "par- 
doned"? He takes the criminal under his own protec- 
tion. He declares that any one who avenges the murder 
of Abel shall be punished with seven fold the punishment 



GENESIS 277 

inflicted on Cain. He puts on him his sign as a safe- 
guard. The impious call the story both execrable and 
absurd. It is the delirium of some unfortunate Israelite, 
who wrote these inept infamies in imitation of stories so 
abundant among the neighboring Syrians. This insen- 
sate Hebrew attributed his atrocious invention to Moses, 
at a time when nothing was rarer than books. Destiny, 
which disposes of all things, has preserved his work till 
our day ; scoundrels have praised it, and idiots have be- 
lieved. Thus say the horde of theists, who while ador- 
ing God, have been so rash as to condemn the Lord God 
of Israel, and who judge the actions of the Eternal Be- 
ing by the rules of our imperfect ethics, and our errone- 
ous justice. They admit a god but submit god to our 
laws. Let us guard against such temerity, and let us 
once again learn to respect what lies beyond our compre- 
hension. Let us cry out "O Altitude !" with all our 
strength. 

"The Gods, Eloim, seeing that the daughters of men 
were fair, took for spouses those whom they chose." 
This flight of imagination is also common to all the na- 
tions. There is no race, except perhaps the Chinese,* 
which has not recorded gods getting young girls with 
child. Corporeal gods come down to look at their do- 
main, they see our young ladies and take the best for 
themselves ; children produced in this way are better than 
other folks' children ; thus Genesis does not omit to say 

* In Fenollosa's notes on Kutsugen's ode to "Sir in the 
Clouds," I am unable to make out whether the girl is more than 
a priestess. She bathes in hot water made fragrant by boiling 
orchids in it, she washes her hair and binds iris into it, she puts 
on the dress of flowery colors, and the god illimitable in his 
brilliance descends ; she continues her attention to her toilet, in 
very reverent manner. P. 



278 INSTIGATIONS 

that this commerce bred giants. Once again the book is 
in key with vulgar opinion. 

"And I will pour the water floods over the earth." 
I would note here that St. Augustin (City of God, No. 
8) says, "Maximum illud diluvium graeca nee latina novit 
historia" Neither Greek nor Latin history takes note of 
this very great flood. In truth, they knew only Deu- 
calion's and Ogyges' in Greece. These were regarded as 
universal in the fables collected by Ovid, but were totally 
unknown in Eastern Asia. St. Augustin is not in error 
when he says history makes no mention thereof. 

"God said to Noah : I will make an agreement with 
you and with your seed after you, and with all the ani- 
mals." God make an agreement with animals ! The un- 
believers will exclaim: "What a contract!" But if he 
make an alliance with man, why not with the animals? 
What nice feeling, there is something quite as divine in 
this sentiment as in the most metaphysical thought. 
Moreover, animals feel better than most men think. It 
is apparently in virtue of this agreement that St. Francis 
of Assist, the founder of the seraphic order, said to the 
grasshoppers, and hares, "Sing, sister hoppergrass, brouse 
brother rabbit." But what were the terms of the treaty? 
That all the animals should devour each other ; that they 
should live on our flesh ; and we on theirs ; that after hav- 
ing eaten all we can we should exterminate all the rest, 
and that we should only omit the devouring of men stran- 
gled with our own hands. If there was any such pact it 
was presumably made with the devil. 

Probably this passage is only intended to show that 
God is in equal degree master of all things that breathe. 
This pact could only have been a command; it is called 
"alliance" merely by an "extension of the word's mean- 
ing." One should not quibble over mere terminology, 






GENESIS 279 

but worship the spirit, and go back to the time when they 
wrote this work which is scandal to the weak, but quite 
edifying to the strong. 

"And I will put my bow in the sky, and it shall be a 
sign of our pact." Note that the author does not say 
"I have put" but "I will put my bow"; this shows that 
in common opinion the bow had not always existed. It 
is a phenomenon of necessity caused by the rain, and 
they give it as a supernatural manifestation that the 
world shall never more be covered with water. It is odd 
that they should choose a sign of rain as a promise that 
one shall not be drowned. But one may reply to this: 
when in danger of inundations we may be reassured by 
seeing a rainbow. 

"Now the Lord went down to see the city which the 
children of Adam had builded, and he said, behold a 
people with only one speech. They have begun this 
and won't quit until it is finished. Let us go down and 
confound their language, so that no man may understand 
his neighbor." Note merely that the sacred author still 
conforms to vulgar opinion. He always speaks of God 
as of a man who informs himself of what is going on, 
who wants to see with his eyes what is being done on his 
estate, and who calls his people together to determine a 
course of action. 

"And Abraham, ha.ving arrayed his people (there 
were of them three hundred and eighteen), fell upon the 
five kings and slew them and pursued them even to Hoba 
on the left side of Damas." From the south side of the 
lake of Sodom to Damas is 24 leagues, and they still 
had to cross Liban and anti-Liban. Unbelievers exult 
over such tremendous exaggeration. But since the Lord 
favored Abraham there is no exaggeration. 

"And that evening two angels came into Sodom, etc." 



280 INSTIGATIONS 

The history of the two angels whom the Sodomites 
wanted to ravish is perhaps the most extraordinary 
which antiquity has produced. But we must remember 
that all Asia believed in incubi and succubae demons, and 
that moreover these angels were creatures more perfect 
than man, and that they were probably much better look- 
ing, and lit more desires in a jaded, corrupt race than 
common men would have excited. Perhaps this part 
of the story is only a figure of rhetoric to express the 
horrible lewdness of Sodom and of Gomorrah. We 
offer this solution to savants with the most profound 
self-mistrust. 

As for Lot who offered his two daughters to the 
Sodomites in lieu of the angels, and Lot's wife metamor- 
phosed into the saline image, and all the rest of the story, 
what can one say of it? The ancient fable of Cinyra 
and Myrrha has some relation to Lot's incest with his 
daughters, the adventure of Philemon and Baucis is 
not without its points of comparison with that of the 
two angels appearing to Lot and his wife. As for the 
pillar of salt, I do not know what it compares with, 
perhaps with the story of Orpheus and Eurydice? 

A number of savants think with Newton and the 
learned Leclerc that the Pentateuch was written by 
Samuel when the Jews had learned reading and writing, 
and that all these tales are imitation of Syrian fable. 

But it is sufficient for us that it is all Holy Scripture ; 
we therefore revere it without searching in it for any- 
thing that is not the work of the Holy Spirit. We 
should remember, at all times, that these times are not 
our times, and we should not fail to add our word to 
that of so many great men who have declared that the 
Old Testament is true history, and that everything in- 
vented by all the rest of the universe is mere fable. 



GENESIS 281 

Some savants have pretended that one should remove 
from the canonical books all incredible matters which 
might be a stumbling block to the feeble, but it is said 
that these savants were men of corrupt heart and that 
they ought to be burned, and that it is impossible to be 
an honest man unless you believe that the Sodomites 
desired to ravish the angels. This is the reasoning of a 
species of monster who wishes to rule over wits. 

It is true that several celebrated church fathers have 
had the prudence to turn all these tales into allegory, 
like the Jews, and Philo in especial. Popes still more 
prudent desired to prevent the translation of these books 
into the everyday tongue, for fear men should be led to 
pass judgment on what was upheld for their adoration. 

One ought surely to conclude that those who perfectly 
understand this work should tolerate those who do not 
understand it, for if these latter do not understand it, 
it is not their fault ; also those who do not understand it 
should tolerate those who understand it most fully. 

Savants, too full of their knowledge, have claimed 
that Moses could not possibly have written the book of 
Genesis. One of their reasons is that in the story of 
Abraham, the patriarch pays for his wife's funeral plot 
in coined money, and that the king of Gerare gives a 
thousand pieces of silver to Sarah when he returns her, 
after having stolen her for her beauty in the seventy- 
fifth year of her age. They say that, having consulted 
authorities, they find that there was no coined money in 
those days. But it is quite clear that this is pure chicane 
on their part, since the Church has always believed 
most firmly that Moses did write the Pentateuch. They 
strengthen all the doubts raised by the disciples of Aben- 
Hesra and Baruch Spinoza. The physician Astruc, 
father-in-law of the comptroller-general Silhouette, in 



282 INSTIGATIONS 

his book, now very rare, entitled "Conjectures on Gene- 
sis," adds new objections, unsolvable to human wisdom; 
but not to humble submissive piety. The savants dare 
to contradict every line, the simple revere every line. 
Guard against falling into the misfortune of trusting our 
human reason, be contrite in heart and in spirit. 

"And Abraham said that Sarah was his sister, and the 
king of Gerare took her to him." We confess, as we have 
said in our essay on Abraham, that Sarah was then 
ninety years old; that she had already been kidnapped 
by one King of Egypt; and that a king of this same 
desert Gerare later kidnapped the wife of Abraham's 
son Isaac. We have also spoken of the servant Agar, by 
whom Abraham had a son, and of how Abraham treated 
them both. One knows what delight unbelievers take in 
these stories ; with what supercilious smiles they con- 
sider them ; how they set the story of Abimelech and this 
same wife of Abraham's (Sarah) whom he passed off as 
his sister, above the "1001 nights" and also that of an- 
other Abimelech in love with Rebecca, whom Isaac also 
passed off as his sister. One can not too often reiterate 
that the fault of all these studious critics lies in their 
persistent endeavour to bring all these things into accord 
with our feeble reason and to judge ancient Arabs as 
they would judge the French court or the English. 

"The soul of Sichem, son of King Hemor, cleaved to 
the soul of Dinah, and he charmed his sadness with her 
tender caresses, and he went to Hemor his father, and 
said unto him : Give me this woman for wife." Here the 
savants are even more refractory. What! a king's son 
marry a vagabond's daughter, Jacob her father loaded 
with presents ! The king receives into his city these 
wandering robbers, called patriarchs ; he has the incredi- 
ble and incomprehensible kindness to get himself circum- 



GENESIS 283 

cised. he and his son, his court and his people, in order 
to condescend to the superstition of this little tribe which 
did not own a half league of land ! And what reward 
do our holy patriarchs make him for such astonishing 
kindness? They wait the day when the wound of cir- 
cumcision ordinarily produces a fever. Then Simeon 
and Levi run throughout the city, daggers in hand; they 
massacre the king, the prince, his son, and all the in-~ 
habitants. The horror of this St. Bartholemew is only 
diminished by its impossibility. It is a shocking romance 
but it is obviously a ridiculous romance : It is impossible 
that two men could have killed a whole nation. One 
might suffer some inconvenience from one's excerpted 
foreskin, but one would defend oneself against two 
scoundrels, one would assemble, surround them, finish 
them off as they deserved. 

But there is one more impossible statement: by an 
exact supputation of date, we find that Dinah, daughter 
of Jacob, was at this time no more than three years of 
age; even if one tries to accommodate the chronology, 
she could not have been more than five : it is this that 
causes complaint. People say: What sort of a book 
is this? The book of a reprobate people, a book for so 
long unknown to all the earth, a book where right, rea- 
son and decent custom are outraged on every page, and 
which we have presented us as irrefutable, holy, dictated 
by God himself? Is it not an impiety to believe it? Is 
it not the dementia of cannibals to persecute sensible, 
modest men who do not believe it? 

To which we reply: The Church says she believes it. 
Copyists may have introduced revolting absurdities into 
reverend stories. Only the Holy Church can be judge 
of such matters. The profane should be led by her 
wisdom. These absurdities, these pretended horrors do~7 



284 INSTIGATIONS 

not affect the basis of our religion. Where would men 
be if the cult of virtue depended on what happened long 
ago to Sichem and little Dinah? 

"Behold the Kings who reigned in the land of Edom, 
before the children of Israel had a king." 

Behold another famous passage, another stone which 
doth hinder our feet. It is this passage which deter- 
mined the great Newton, the pious and sage Samuel 
Clarke, the deeply philosophical Bolingbroke, the learned 
Leclerc, the savant Freret, and a great number of other 
scholars to argue that Moses could not have been the 
author of Genesis. 

We do indeed confess that these words could only 
have been written at a time when the Jews had kings. 

It is chiefly this verse which determined Astruc to 
upset the whole book of Genesis, and to hypothecate 
memories on which the real author had drawn. His 
work is ingenious, exact, but rash. A council would 
scarcely have dared to undertake it. And to what end 
has it served, this ungrateful, dangerous work of this 
Astruc? To redouble the darkness which he set out to 
enlighten. This is ever the fruit of that tree of knowl- 
edge whereof we all wish to eat. Why should it be 
necessary that the fruits of the tree of ignorance should 
be more nourishing and more easy to manage? 

But what matter to us, after all, whether this verse, 
or this chapter, was written by Moses, or by Samuel or 
by the priest from Samaria, or by Esdras, or by any one 
else? In what way can our government, our laws, our 
fortunes, our morafs, our well being, be tied up with the 
ignorant chiefs of an unfortunate barbarous country, 
called Edom or Idumea, always peopled by thieves? 
Alas, these poor shirtless Arabs never ask about our 
existence, they pillage caravans and eat barley bread, 



GENESIS 285 

and we torment ourselves trying to find out whether 
there were kinglets in one canton of Arabia Petra before 
they appeared in the neighboring canton to the west of 
lake Sodom. 

O miseras hominium mentes! O pectora caeca! * 
* Our author's treatment of Ezekiel merits equal attention. 



VII 

ARNAUT DANIEL 
RAZO 

EN AR. DANIEL was of Ribeyrac in Perigord, under 
Lemosi, near to Hautefort, and he was the best fashioner 
of songs in the Provencal, as Dante has said of him in 
his Purgatorio (XXVI, 140), and Tasso says it was he 
wrote "Lancillotto," but this is not known for certain, 
but Dante says only "proze di romanzi." Nor is it 
known if Benvenuto da Imola speaks for certain when 
he says En Arnaut went in his age to a monastery and 
sent a poem to the princes, nor if he wrote a satire on 
Boniface Castillane; but here are some of his canzos, 
the best that are left us ; and he was very cunning in his 
imitation of birds, as in the poem "Autet," where he 
stops in the middle of his singing, crying: "Cadahus, en 
son vis/' as a bird cries, and rhyming on it cleverly, with 
no room to turn about on the words, "Mas pel us, estauc 
clus," and in the other versets. And in "L'aura amara," 
he cries as the birds in the autumn, and there is some of 
this also in his best poem, "Doutz brais e critz." 

And in "Breu brisaral," he imitates, maybe, the rough 
singing of the joglar engles, from whom he learnt "Ac 
et no 1'ac"; and though some read this "escomes," not 
"engles," it is likely enough that in the court of En 
Richart there might have been an English joglar, for En 

286 



ARNAUT DANIEL 287 

Bertrans calls Richart's brother "joven re Engles," so 
why should there not be a joglar of the same, knowing 
alliterations? And he may, in the ending "piula," have 
had in mind some sort of Arabic singing; for he knew 
well letters, in Langue d'Oc and in Latin, and he knew 
Ovid, of whom he takes Atalanta ; and may be Virgil ; 
and he talks of the Palux Lerna, though most copyers 
have writ this "Uzerna," not knowing the place he 
spoke of. So it is as like as not he knew Arabic music, 
and perhaps had heard, if he not understood the mean- 
ing, some song in rough Saxon letters. 

And by making song in rimas escarsas he let into 
Provencal poetry many words that are not found else- 
where and maybe some words half Latin, and he uses 
many more sounds on the rhyme, for, as Canello or 
Lavaud has written, he uses ninety-eight rhyme sounds 
in seventeen canzos, and Peire Vidal makes use of but 
fifty-eight in fifty-four canzos and Folquet of thirty- 
three in twenty-two poems, and Raimbaut Orenga uses 
129 rhymes in thirty-four poems, a lower proportion 
than Arnaut's. And the songs of En Arnaut are in some 
versets wholly free and uneven the whole length of 
the verset then the other five versets follow in the track 
of the first, for the same tune must be sung in them 
all, or sung with very slight or orderly changes. But 
after the earlier poems he does not rhyme often inside 
the stanza. And in all he is very cunning, and has many 
uneven and beautiful rhythms, so that if a man try to 
read him like English iambic he will very often go 
wrong; though En Arnaut made the first piece of 
"Blank Verse" in the seven opening lines of the "Sols 
sui" ; and he, maybe, in thinning out the rhymes and 
having but six repetitions to a canzone, made way for 
Dante who sang his long poem in threes. But this much 



288 INSTIGATIONS 

is certain, he does not use the rhyme -atage and many 
other common rhymes of the Provencal, whereby so 
many canzos are all made alike and monotonous on one 
sound or two sounds to the end from the beginning. 

Nor is there much gap from "Lancan vei fueill' " or 
"D'autra guiza" to the form of the sonnet, or to the 
receipt for the Italian strophes of canzoni, for we have 
both the repetition and the unrepeating sound in the 
verset. And in two versets the rhymes run abab cde 
abab cde; in one, and in the other abba cde abba cde; 
while in sonnets the rhymes run abab abab cde cde; or 
abba abba cde cde. And this is no very great difference. 
A sonetto would be the third of a son. 

And I do not give "Ac et no 1'ac," for it is plainly told 
us that he learnt this song from a jongleur, and he says 
as much in his coda: 

Miells-de-ben ren 
Sit pren 

Chanssos grazida 
C'Arnautz non oblida. 

"Give thanks my song, to Miells-de-ben that Arnaut has 
not forgotten thee." And the matter went as a joke, 
and the song was given to Arnaut to sing in his reper- 
toire "E f o donatz lo cantar an Ar Daniel, qui et aysi 
trobaretz en sa obra." And I do not give the tenzon 
with Trues Malecs for reasons clear to all who have 
read it; nor do I translate the sestina, for it is a poor 
one, but maybe it is interesting to think if the music 
will not go through its permutation as the end words 
change their places in order, though the first line has only 
eight syllables. 




ARNAUT DANIEL 289 

And En Arnaut was the best artist among the Proven- 
gals, trying the speech in new fashions, and bringing 
new words into writing, and making new blendings of 
words, so that he taught much to Messire Dante 
Alighieri as you will see if you study En Arnaut and the 
"De Vulgari Eloquio" ; and when Dante was older and 
had well thought the thing over he said simply, "il mi- 
glior fabbro." And long before Francesco Petrarca, 
he, Arnaut, had thought of the catch about Laura, laura, 
1'aura, and the rest of it, which is no great thing to his 
credit. But no man in Provengal has written as he 
writes in "Doutz brais" : "E quel remir" and the rest 
of it, though Ovid, where he recounts Atalanta's flight 
from Hippomenes in the tenth book, had written: 

"cum super atria velum 
"Candida purpureum simulatas inficit umbras." 

And in Dante we have much in the style of: 
"Que jes Rozers per aiga que 1'engrois." 

And Dante learned much from his rhyming, and follows 
him in agro and Meleagro, but more in a comprehension, 
and Dante has learned also of Ovid: "in Metamor- 
phoseos" : 

"Velut ales, ab alto 
"Quae teneram prolem produxit in aera nido," 

although he talks so much of Virgil. 

I had thought once of the mantle of indigo as of a 
thing seen in a vision, but I have now only fancy to 



290 INSTIGATIONS 

support this. It is like that men slandered Arnaut for 
Dante's putting him in his Purgatorio, but the Trues 
Malecs poem is against this. 

En Arnaut often ends a canzone with a verset in 
different tone from the rest, as markedly in "Si fos 
Amors." In "Breu brisaral" the music is very curious, 
but is lost for us, for there are only two pieces of his 
music, and those in Milan, at the Ambrosiana (in R 71 
superiore). 

And at the end of "Doutz brais," is a verset like the 
verset of a sirvente, and this is what he wrote as a 
message, not making a whole sirvente, nor, so far as we 
know, dabbling in politics or writing of it, as Bertrans de 
Born has ; only in this one place is all that is left us. 
And he was a joglar, perhaps for his living, and only 
composed when he would, and could not to order, as is 
shown in the story of his remembering the joglar's can- 
zone when he had laid a wager to make one of his own. 

"Can chai la fueilla" is more like a sea song or an 
estampida, though the editors call it a canzone, and 
"Amors e jois," and some others were so little thought 
of, that only two writers have copied them out in the 
manuscripts; and the songs are all different one from 
another, and their value nothing like even. Dante took 
note of the best ones, omitting "Doutz brais," which is 
for us perhaps the finest of all, though having some 
lines out of strict pertinence. But "Can chai la fueilla" 
is very cleverly made with five, six, and four and seven. 
And in "Sols sui" and in other canzos verse is syllabic, 
and made on the number of syllables, not by stresses, and 
the making by syllables cannot be understood by those of 
Petramala, who imagine the language they speak was 
that spoken by Adam, and that one system of metric was 



AUNAUT DAN! I.!. 291 

made in the world's beginning, and has since existed 
without change. And some think if the stress fall not 
on every second beat, or the third, that they must have 
right before Constantine. And the art of En Ar. Daniel 
is not literature but the art of fitting words well with 
music, well nigh a lost art, and if one will look to the 
music of "Chansson doil motz," or to the movement of 
"Can chai la fueilla," one will see part of that which I 
mean, and if one will look to the falling of the rhymes 
in other poems, and the blending and lengthening of the 
sounds, and their sequence, one will learn more of this. 
And En Arnaut wrote between 1180 and 1200 of the 
era, as nearly as we can make out, when the Provencal 
was growing weary, and it was to be seen if it could last, 
and he tried to make almost a new language, or at least 
to enlarge the Langue d'Oc, and make new things possi- 
ble. And this scarcely happened till Guinicello, and 
Guido Cavalcanti and Dante; Peire Cardinal went to 
realism and made satirical poems. But the art of sing- 
ing to music went well nigh out of the words, for 
Metastasio has left a few catches, and so has Lorenzo di 
Medici, but in Bel Canto in the times of Durante, and 
Piccini, Paradeis, Vivaldi, Caldara and Benedetto Mar- 
cello, the music turns the words out of doors and strews 
them and distorts them to the tune, out of all recogni- 
tion ; and the philosophic canzoni of Dante and his times- 
men are not understandable if they are sung, and in 
their time music and poetry parted company; the can- 
zone's tune becoming a sonata without singing. And 
the ballad is a shorter form, and the Elizabethan lyrics 
are but scraps and bits of canzoni much as in the 
"nineties" men wrote scraps of Swinburne. 

Charles d'Orleans made good roundels and songs, as 



292 INSTIGATIONS 

in "Dieu qui la fait" and in "Quand j'oie la tambourine/ 
as did also Jean Froissart before him in : 

Reviens, ami ; trop longue est ta demeure : 
Elle me fait avoir peine et doulour. 
Mon esperit te demande a toute heure. 
Reviens, ami ; trop longue est ta demeure. 

Car il n'est mil, fors toi, qui me sequerre, 
Ne secourra, jusques a ton retour. 
Reviens, ami ; trop longue est ta demeure : 
Elle me fait avoir peine et doulour. 

And in : 

Le corps s'en va, mais le coeur vous demeure. 
And in: 

On doit le temps ainsi prendre qu'il vient: 
Tout dit que pas ne dure la fortune. 
Un temps se part, et puis 1'autre revient: 
On doit le temps ainsi prendre qu'il vient. 

Je me comforte en ce qu'il me souvient 
Que tous les mois avons nouvelle lune: 
On doit le temps ainsi prendre qu'il vient : 
Tout dit que pas ne dure la fortune. 

Which is much what Bernart de Ventadour has sung: 

"Per dieu, dona, pauc esplecham d'amor 
Va sen lo temps e perdem lo melhor." 






ARNAUT DANIEL 293 

And Campion was the last, but in none of the later men 
is there the care and thought of En Arnaut Daniel for 
the blending of words sung out ; and none of them all 
succeeded, as indeed he had not succeeded in reviving 
and making permanent a poetry that could be sung. But 
none of them all had thought so of the sound of the 
words with the music, all in sequence and set together 
as had En Arnaut of Ribeyrac, nor had, I think, even 
Dante Alighieri when he wrote "De Eloquio." 

And we find in Provence beautiful poems, as by Vidal 
when he sings: 

"Ab 1'alen tir vas me 1'aire," 
And by the Viscount of St. Antoni: 

"Lo clar temps vei brunezir 
E'ls auzeletz esperdutz, 
Que'l fregz ten destregz e mutz 
E ses conort de jauzir. 
Done eu que de cor sospir 
Per la gensor re qu'anc fos, 

Tan joios 

Son, qu'ades m'es vis 
Que folh' e flor s'espandis. 
D'amor son tug miei cossir . . ." 

and by Bertrans de Born in "Dompna puois di me," 
but these people sang not so many diverse kinds of music 
as En Arnaut, nor made so many good poems in differ- 
ent fashions, nor thought them so carefully, though En 
Bertrans sings with more vigor, it may be, and in the 
others, in Cerclamon, Arnaut of Marvoil, in de Venta- 
dour, there are beautiful passages. And if the art, 
now in France, of saying a song disia sons, we find 



294 INSTIGATIONS 

written of more than one troubadour is like the art of 
En Arnaut, it has no such care for the words, nor such 
ear for hearing their consonance. 

Nor among the Provencals was there any one, nor had 
Dante thought out an aesthetic of sound ; of clear sounds 
and opaque sounds, such as in "Sols sui," an opaque 
sound like Swinburne at his best; and in "Doutz brais" 
and in "L'aura amara" a clear sound, with staccato; 
and of heavy beats and of running and light beats, as 
very heavy in "Can chai la fueilla." Nor do we enough 
notice how with his drollery he is in places nearer to 
Chaucer than to the Italians, and indeed the Provencal 
is usually nearer the English in sound and in feeling, 
than it is to the Italian, having a softer humor, not a 
bitter tongue, as have the Italians in ridicule. 

Nor have any yet among students taken note enough 
of the terms, both of love terms, and of terms of the 
singing; though theology was precise in its terms, and 
we should see clearly enough in Dante's treatise when 
Ihe uses such words as pexa, hirsuta, lubrica, combed, and 
*shaggy and oily to put his words into categories, that 
he is thinking exactly. Would the Age of Aquinas have 
been content with anything less? And so with the love 
terms, and so, as I have said in my Guido, with meta- 
phors and the exposition of passion. Cossir, solatz. 
plazers, have in them the beginning of the Italian philo- 
sophic precisions, and amors qu'inz el cor ml plou is not 
a vague decoration. By the time of Petrarca the analy- 
sis had come to an end, only the vague decorations were 
left. And if Arnaut is long before Cavalcanti, 

Pensar de lieis m'es repaus 

E traigom ams los huoills cranes, 

S'a lieis vezer nols estuich. 



ARNAUT DANIEL 295 

leads toward "E gli occhi orbati fa vedere scorto," 
though the music in Arnaut is not, in this place, quickly 
apprehended. And those who fear to take a bold line 
in their interpretation of "Cill de Doma," might do worse 
than re-read : 

"Una figura de la donna mia" 

and what follows it. And for the rest any man who 
would read Arnaut and the troubadours owes great 
thanks to Emil Levy of Freiburg i/b for his long work 
and his little dictionary (Petit Dictionaire Provengal- 
Francais, Karl Winter's Universitatsbuchhandlung, Hei- 
delberg), and to U. A. Canello, the first editor of Arnaut, 
who has shown, I think, great profundity in his arrange- 
ment of the poems in their order, and has really hit 
upon their sequence of composition, and the develop- 
ments of En Arnaut's trobar ; and lastly to Rene Lavaud 
for his new Tolosan edition. 



II 



THE twenty-three students of Provencal and the seven 
people seriously interested in the technic and aesthetic 
of verse may communicate with me in person. I give 
here only enough to illustrate the points of the razo, that 
.is to say, as much as, and probably more than, the general 
reader can be bothered with. The translations are a make- 
shift ; it is not to be expected that I can do in ten years 
what it took two hundred troubadours a century and a 
half to accomplish; for the full understanding of Ar- 



296 INSTIGATIONS 

naut's system of echoes and blending there is no substi- 
tute for the original ; but in extenuation of the language of 
my verses, I would point out that the Provengals were not 
constrained by the modern literary sense. Their restraints 
were the tune and rhyme-scheme, they were not con- 
strained by a need for certain qualities of writing, with- 
out which no modern poem is complete or satisfactory. 
They were not competing with De Maupassant's prose. 
Their triumph is, as I have said, in an art between liter- 
ature and music; if I have succeeded in indicating some 
of the properties of the latter I have also let the former 
go by the board. It is quite possible that if the trouba- 
dours had been bothered about "style," they would not 
have brought their blend of word and tune to so elaborate 
a completion. 

"Can chai la fueilla" is interesting for its rhythm, for 
the sea-chantey swing produced by simple device of 
caesuras : 

Can chai la fueilla 

dels ausors entrecims, 
El freitz s'ergueilla 

don sechal vais' el vims, 
Dels dous refrims 

vei sordezir la brueilla ; 
Mas ieu soi prims 

d'amor, qui que s'en tueilla. 

The poem does not keep the same rhyme throughout, and 
the only reason for giving the whole of it in my English 
dither is that one can not get the effect of the thumping 
and iterate foot-beat from one or two strophes alone. 



ARNAUT DANIEL 297 

CAN CHAI LA FUEILLA 

When sere leaf falleth 

from the high forked tips, 
And cold appalleth 

dry osier, haws and hips, 
Coppice he strips 

of bird, that now none calleth. 
Fordel * my lips 

in love have, though he galleth. 

Though all things freeze here, 

I can naught feel the cold, 
For new love sees, here 

my heart's new leaf unfold; 
So am I rolled 

and lapped against the breeze here: 
Love who doth mould 

my force, force guarantees here. 

Aye, life's a high thing, 

where joy's his maintenance, 
Who cries 'tis wry thing 

hath danced never my dance, 
I can advance 

no blame against fate's tithing 
For lot and chance 

have deemed the best thing my thing. 

Of love's wayfaring 

I know no part to blame, 
* Preeminence. 



298 INSTIGATIONS 

All other paring, 

compared, is put to shame, 
Man can acclaim 

no second for comparing 
With her, no dame 

but hath the meaner bearing. 

I'ld ne'er entangle 

my heart with other fere, 
Although I mangle 

my joy by staying here 
I have no fear 

that ever at Pontrangle 
You'll find her peer 

or one that's worth a wrangle. 

She'd ne'er destroy 

her man with cruelty 
Twixt here 'n' Savoy 

there feeds no fairer she, 
Than pleaseth me 

till Paris had ne'er joy 
In such degree 

from Helena in Troy. 

She's so the rarest 

who holdeth me thus gay, 
The thirty fairest 

can not contest her sway ; 
Tis right, par fay, 

thou know, O song that wearest 
Such bright array, 

whose quality thou sharest. 



ARNAUT DANIEL 299 

Changon, nor stay 

till to her thou declarest : 
"Arnaut would say 

me not, wert thou not fairest." 

"Lancan son passat" shows the simple and presum- 
ably early style of Arnaut, with the kind of reversal 
from more or less trochaic to more or less iambic move- 
ment in fifth and eighth lines, a kind of rhythm taken 
over by Elizabethan lyricists. Terms trochaic and iam- 
bic are, however, utterly inaccurate when applied to 
syllabic metres set to a particular melody: 

Lancan son passat li giure 
E noi reman puois ni comba, 
Et el verdier la flors trembla 
Sus el entrecim on poma, 

La flors e li chan eil clar quil 
Ab la sazon doussa e coigna 
M'enseignon c'ab joi m'apoigna. 

Sai al temps de 1'intran d' April. 

LANCAN SON PASSAT LI GIURE 

When the frosts are gone and over, 
And are stripped from hill and hollow. 
When in close the blossom blinketh 
From the spray where the fruit cometh, 

The flower and song and the clarion 
Of the gay season and merry 
Bid me with high joy to bear me 

Through days while April's coming on. 



3oo INSTIGATIONS 

Though joy's right hard to discover, 
Such sly ways doth false Love follow, 
Only sure he never drinketh 
At the fount where true faith hometh; 

A thousand girls, but two or one 
Of her falsehoods over chary, 
Stabbing whom vows make unwary 

Their tenderness is vilely done. 

The most wise runs drunkest lover, 
Sans pint-pot or wine to swallow, 
If a whim her locks unlinketh, 
One stray hair his noose becometh. 

When evasion's fairest shown, 
Then the sly puss purrs most near ye. 
Innocents at heart beware ye, 

When she seems colder than a nun. 

See, I thought so highly of her! 
Trusted, but the game is hollow, 
Not one won piece soundly clinketh; 
All the cardinals that Rome hath, * 

Yea, they all were put upon. 
Her device is "Slyly Wary." 
Cunning are the snares they carry, 

Yet while they watched they'd be undone. 

Whom Love makes so mad a rover, 
'LI take a cuckoo for a swallow, 
If she say so, sooth ! he thinketh 
There's a plain where Puy-de-Dome is. 

Till his eyes and nails are gone, 
He'll throw dice and follow fairly 



ARNAUT DANIEL 301 

Sure as old tales never vary 

For his fond heart he is foredone. 



Well I know, sans writing's cover, 
What a plain is, what's a hollow. 
I know well whose honor sinketh, 
And who 'tis that shame consumeth. 

They meet. I lose reception. 
'Gainst this cheating I'd not parry 
Nor amid such false speech tarry, 

But from her lordship will be gone. 

Coda 

Sir Bertran,* sure no pleasure's won 
Like this freedom naught so merry 
'Twixt Nile 'n' where the suns miscarry 
To where the rain falls from the sun. 

The fifth poem in Canello's arrangement, "Lanquan 
vei fueiir e flor e frug," has strophes in the form : 

When I see leaf, and flower and fruit 

Come forth upon light lynd and bough, 
And hear the frogs in rillet bruit, 

And birds quhitter in forest now, 
Love inkirlie doth leaf and flower and bear, 
And trick my night from me, and stealing waste it, 
Whilst other wight in rest and sleep sojourneth. 

The sixth is in the following patteni, and the third 
strophe translates: 
* Presumably De Born. 



302 INSTIGATIONS 

Hath a man rights at love? No grain. 

Yet gowks think they've some legal lien. 

But she'll blame you with heart serene 

That, ships for Bari sink, mid-main, 

Or cause the French don't come from Gascony 

And for such crimes I am nigh in my shroud, 

Since, by the Christ, I do such crimes or none. 

"Antet e bas" is interesting for the way in which 
Arnaut breaks the flow of the poem to imitate the bird 
call in "Cadahus en son us," and the repetitions of this 
sound in the succeeding strophes, highly treble, presum- 
ably, Neis Jhezus, Mas pel us, etc. 

Autet e bas entrels prims fuoills 
Son nou de flors li ram eil renc 
E noi ten mut bee ni gola 
Nuills auzels, anz braia e chanta 
Cadahus 
En son us; 

Per joi qu'ai d'els e del temps 
Chant, mas amors mi asauta 
Quils motz ab lo son acorda. 

AUTET E BAS ENTRELS PRIMS FUOILLS 
"Cadahus En son us." 

Now high and low, where leaves renew, 
Come buds on bough and spalliard pleach 
And no beak nor throat is muted; 
Auzel each in tune contrasted 
Letteth loose 
Wriblis * spruce. 
* Wriblis = warblings. 



ARNAUT DANIEL 303 

Joy for them and spring would set 

Song on me, but Love assaileth 

Me and sets my words t' his dancing. 

I thank my God and mine eyes too, 

Since through them the perceptions reach. 

Porters of joys that have refuted 

Every ache and shame I've tasted; 

They reduce 

Pains, and noose 

Me in Amor's corded net. 

Her beauty in me prevaileth 

Till bonds seem but joy's advancing. 

My thanks, Amor, that I win through; 
Thy long delays I naught impeach; 
Though flame's in my marrow rooted 
I'd not quench it, well 't hath lasted, 
Burns profuse, 
Held recluse 

Lest knaves know our hearts are met, 
Murrain on the mouth that aileth, 
So he finds her not entrancing. 

He doth in Love's book misconstrue, 

And from that book none can him teach, 

Who saith ne'er's in speech recruited 

Aught, whereby the heart is dasted. 

Words' abuse 

Doth traduce 

Worth, but I run no such debt. 

Right 'tis in man over-raileth 

He tear tongue on tooth mischancing.* 

* This is nearly as bad in the original. 



30 4 INSTIGATIONS 

That I love her, is pride, is true, 
But my fast secret knows no breach. 
Since Paul's writ was executed 
Or the forty days first fasted, 
Not Cristus 
Could produce 

Her similar, where one can get 
Charms total, for no charm faileth 
Her who's memory's enhancing. 

Grace and valor, the keep of you 

She is, who holds me, each to each, 

She sole, I sole, so fast suited, 

Other women's lures are wasted, 

And no truce 

But misuse 

Have I for them, they're not let 

To my heart, where she regaleth 
Me with delights I'm not chancing. 

Arnaut loves, and ne'er will fret 

Love with o'er-speech, his throat quaileth, 

Braggart voust is naught t' his fancy. 

In the next poem we have the chatter of birds in au- 
tumn, the onomatopoeia obviously depends upon the 
"-utz, -etz, -ences and -ortz" of the rhyme scheme, 17 
of the 68 syllables of each strophe therein included. I 
was able to keep the English in the same sound as the 
Cadahus, but I have not been able to make more than 
map of the relative positions in this canzos. 

L'aura amara 

Fals bruoilss brancutz 

Clarzir 



ARNAUT DANIEL 305 

Quel doutz espeissa ab fuoills, 

Els letz 

Bees 

Dels auzels ramencs 

Ten balps e mutz, 

Pars 

E non-pars; 

Per qu'eu m'esfortz 

De far e dir 

Plazers 

A mains per liei 

Que m'a virat bas d'aut, 

Don tern morir 

Sils afans no m'asoma. 



The bitter air 

Strips panoply 

From trees 

Where softer winds set leaves, 

And glad 

Beaks 

Now in brakes are coy, 

Scarce peep the wee 

Mates 

And un-mates. 

What gaud's the work? 

What good the glees? 
What curse 
I strive to shake! 
Me hath she cast from high, 
In fell disease 
I lie, and deathly fearing. 



306 INSTIGATIONS 

ii 

So clear the flare 

That first lit me 

To seize 

Her whom my soul believes 

If cad 

Sneaks, 

Blabs, slanders, my joy 

Counts little fee 

Baits 

And their hates. 
I scorn their perk 
And preen, at ease. 

Disburse 

Can she, and wake 

Such firm delights, that I 

Am hers, froth, lees 

Bigod ! from toe to earring. 

in 

Amor, look yare! 

Know certainly 

The keys : 

How she thy suit receives; 

Nor add 

Piques, 

Twere folly to annoy. 

I'm true, so dree 

Fates ; 

No debates 

Shake me, nor jerk. 

My verities 



AKNAUT DANIEL 307 

Turn terse, 

And yet I ache ; 

Her lips, not snows that fly 

Have potencies 

To slake, to cool my searing. 



IV 



Behold my prayer, 

(Or company 

Of these) 

Seeks whom such height achieves; 

Well clad 

Seeks 

Her, and would not cloy. 

Heart apertly 

States 

Thought. Hope waits 

'Gainst death to irk: 

False brevities 
And worse! 
To her I raik.* 
Sole her ; all others' dry 
Felicities 
I count not worth the leering. 



Ah, visage, where 
Each quality 
But frees 

One pride-shaft more, that cleaves 
Me; mad frieks 
* Raik = haste precipitate. 



308 INSTIGATIONS 

(O J thy beck) destroy, 

And mockery 

Baits 

Me, and rates. 

Yet I not shirk 

Thy velleities, 
Averse 

Me not, nor slake 
Desire. God draws not nigh 
To Dome,* with pleas 
Wherein's so little veering. 



VI 



Now chant prepare, 

And melody 

To please 

The king, who'll judge thy sheaves. 

Worth, sad, 

Sneaks 

Here; double employ 

Hath there. Get thee 

Plates 

Full, and cates, 

Gifts, go! Nor lurk 

Here till decrees 
Reverse, 

And ring thou take. 
Straight t' Arago I'd ply 
Cross the wide seas 
But "Rome" disturbs my hearing. 

* Our Lady of Poi de Dome ? No definite solution of 
reference yet found. 



ARNAUT DANIEL 309 

Coda. 

At midnight mirk, 

In secrecies 

I nurse 

My served make * 

In heart ; nor try 

My melodies 

At other's door nor mearing.t 

The eleventh canzo is mainly interesting for the open- 
ng bass onomatopoeia of the wind rowting in the au- 
:umn branches. Arnaut may have caught his alliteration 
:rom the joglar engles, a possible hrimm-hramm-hruffer, 
:hough the device dates at least from Naevius. 

En breu brisaral temps braus, 
Eill bisa busina els brancs 
Qui s'entreseignon trastuich 
De sobreclaus rams de fuoilla; 

Car noi chanta auzels ni piula 
M' enseign' Amors qu'ieu fassa adonc 
Chan que non er segons ni tertz 
Ans prims d'afrancar cor agre. 

The rhythm is too tricky to be caught at the first 
reading, or even at the fifth reading; there is only part 
Df it in my copy. 

Briefly bursteth season brisk, 
Blasty north breeze racketh branch, 
Branches rasp each branch on each 

* Make = mate, fere, companion. 

t Dante cites this poem in the second book of De Vulgari 
Eloquio with poems of his own, De Bern's, and Cino Pistoija's. 



310 INSTIGATIONS 

Tearing twig and tearing leafage, 

Chirms now no bird nor cries querulous ; 

So Love demands I make outright 

A song that no song shall surpass 
For freeing the heart of sorrow. 

Love is glory's garden close, 
And is a pool of prowess staunch 
Whence get ye many a goodly fruit 
If true man come but to gather. 

Dies none frost bit nor yet snowily, 
For true sap keepeth off the blight 
Unless knave or dolt there pass. . . . 

The second point of interest is the lengthening out of 
the rhyme in piula, niula, etc. In the fourth strophe 
we find : 

The gracious thinking and the frank 
Clear and quick perceiving heart 
Have led me to the fort of love. 
Finer she is, and I more loyal 
Than were Atlanta and Meleager. 

Then the quiet conclusion, after the noise of the 
opening, Pensar de lieis m'es repaus : 

To think of her is my rest 
And both of my eyes are strained wry 
When she stands not in their sight, 
Believe not the heart turns from her, 

For nor prayers nor games nor violing 
Can move me from her a reed's-breadth. 

The "most beautiful passages of Arnaut are in the 
canzo beginning: 



AKNAUT DANII.L 311 

Doutz brais e critz, 

Lais e cantars e voutas 

Aug dels auzels qu'en lor latins fant precs 

Quecs ab sa par, atressi cum nos fam 

A las amigas en cui entendem ; 

E doncas ieu qu'en la genssor entendi 

Dei far chansson sobre totz de bell' obra 

Qne noi aia mot fals ni rima estrampa. 

GLAMOUR AND INDIGO 

Sweet cries and cracks 

and lays and chants inflected 
By auzels who, in their Latin belikes, 
Chirm each to each, even as you and I 
Pipe toward those girls on whom our thoughts attract; 
Are but more cause that I, whose overweening 
Search is toward the Noblest, set in cluster 
Lines where no word pulls wry, no rhyme breaks gauges. 

No culs de sacs 

nor false ways me deflected 
When first I pierced her fort within its dykes, 
Hers, for whom my hungry insistency 
Passes the gnaw whereby was Vivien wracked ; * 
Day-long I stretch, all times, like a bird preening, 
And yawn for her, who hath o'er others thrust her 
As high as true joy is o'er ire and rages. 

Welcome not lax, 

and my words were protected 
Not blabbed to other, when I set my likes 

* Vivien, strophe 2, nebotz Sain Guillem, an allusion to the 
romance "Enfances Vivien." 



312 INSTIGATIONS 

On her. Not brass but gold was 'neath the die. 
That day we kissed, and after it she flacked 
O'er me her cloak of indigo, for screening 
Me from all culvertz' eyes, whose blathered bluster 
Can set such spites abroad; win jibes for wages. 

God who did tax 

not Longus' sin,* respected 
That blind centurion beneath the spikes 
And him forgave, grant that we two shall lie 
Within one room, and seal therein our pact, 
Yes, that she kiss me in the half-light, leaning 
To me, and laugh and strip and stand forth in the lustre 
Where lamp-light with light limb but half engages. 

The flowers wax 

with buds but half perfected; 

Tremble on twig that shakes when the bird strikes 
But not more fresh than she! No empery, 
Though Rome and Palestine were one compact, 
Would lure me from her; and with hands convening 
I give me to her. But if kings could muster 
In homage similar, you'd count them sages. 

Mouth, now what knacks ! 

What folly hath infected 

Thee? Gifts, that th' Emperor of the Salonikes 
Or Lord of Rome were greatly honored by, 
Or Syria's lord, thou dost from me distract; 
O fool I am! to hope for intervening 
From Love that shields not love ! Yea, it were juster 
To call him mad, who 'gainst his joy engages. 
* Longus, centurion in the crucifixion legend. 



ARNAUT DANIEL 313 

POLITICAL POSTSCRIPT 

The slimy jacks 

with adders' tongues bisected, 
I fear no whit, nor have; and if these tykes 

H#ve led Galicia's king to villeiny * 

His cousin in pilgrimage hath he attacked 
We know Raimon the Count's son my meaning 
Stands without screen. The royal filibuster 
Redeems not honor till he unbar the cages. 

CODA 

I should have seen it, but I was on such affair, 
Seeing the true king crown'd here in Estampa.f 

Arnaut's tendency to lengthen the latter lines of the 
strophe after the diesis shows in : Er vei vermeils, vertz, 
blaus, blancs, gruocs, the strophe form being : 

Vermeil, green, blue, peirs, white, cobalt, 
Close orchards, hewis, holts, hows, vales, 
And the bird-song that whirls and turns 
Morning and late with sweet accord, 
Bestir my heart to put my song in sheen 
T'equal that flower which hath such properties, 
It seeds in joy, bears love, and pain ameises. 

*King of the Galicians, Ferdinand II, King of Galicia, 1157- 
88, son of Berangere, sister of Raimon Berenger IV ("quattro 
figlie ebbe," etc.) of Aragon, Count of Barcelona. His second 
son, Lieutenant of Provence, 1168. 

t King crowned at Etampe, Phillipe August, crowned May 
29, 1180, at age of 16. This poem might date Arnaut's birth as 
early as 1150. 



3H INSTIGATIONS 

The last cryptic allusion is to the quasi-allegorical 
descriptions of the tree of love in some long poem like 
the Romaunt of the Rose. 

Dante takes the next poem as a model of canzo con- 
struction ; and he learned much from its melody : 

Sols sui qui sai lo sobrefan quern sortz 
Al cor d'amor sofren per sobramar, 
Car mos volers es tant ferms et entiers 
C'anc no s'esduis de celliei ni s'estors 
Cui encubric al prim vezer e puois: 
Qu'ades ses lieis die a lieis cochos motz, 
Pois quan la vei non sai, tant Tai, que dire. 

We note the soft suave sound as against the staccato of 
"L'aura amara." 

Canzon. 

I only, and who elrische pain support 
Know out love's heart o'er borne by overlove, 
For my desire that is so firm and straight 
And unchanged since I found her in my sight 
And unturned since she came within my glance, 
That far from her my speech springs up aflame; 
Near her comes not. So press the words to arrest it. 

I am blind to others, and their retort 

I hear not. In her alone, I see, move, 

Wonder. . . . And jest not. And the words dilate 

Not truth ; but mouth speaks not the heart outright : 

I could not walk roads, flats, dales, hills, by chance, 

To find charm's sum within one single frame 

As God hath set in her t'assay and test it. 



ARNAUT DANIEL 315 

And I have passed in many a goodly court 

To find in hers more charm than rumor thereof. . . . 

In solely hers. Measure and sense to mate, 

Youth and beauty learned in all delight, 

Gentrice did nurse her up, and so advance 

Her fair beyond all reach of evil name, 

To clear her worth, no shadow hath oppresst it. 

Her contact flats not out, falls not off short . . . 

Let her, I pray, guess out the sense hereof 

For never will it stand in open prate 

Until my inner heart stand in daylight, 

So that heart pools him when her eyes entrance, 

As never doth the Rhone, fulled and untame, 

Pool, where the freshets tumult hurl to crest it. 

Flimsy another's joy, false and distort, 

No paregale that she springs not above . . . 

Her love-touch by none other mensurate. 

To have it not ? Alas ! Though the pains bite 

Deep, torture is but galzeardy and dance, 

For in my thought my lust hath touched his aim. 

God ! Shall I get no more ! No fact to best it ! 

No delight I, from now, in dance or sport, 
Nor will these toys a tinkle of pleasure prove, 
Compared to her, whom no loud profligate 
Shall leak abroad how much she makes my right. 
Is this too much? If she count not mischance 
What I have said, then no. But if she blame, 
Then tear ye out the tongue that hath expresst it. 

The song begs you : Count not this speech ill chance, 
But if you count the song worth your acclaim, 
Arnaut cares lyt who praise or who contest it. 



3i6 INSTIGATIONS 

The XVIth canto goes on with the much discussed and 
much too emphasized cryptogram of the ox and the hare. 
I am content with the reading which gives us a classic 
allusion in the palux Laerna. The lengthening of the 
verse in the last three lines of the strophe is, I think, 
typically Arnaut's. I leave the translation solely for the 
sake of one strophe. 

Ere the winter recommences 

And the leaf from bough is wrested, 

On Love's mandate will I render 

A brief end to long prolusion: 

So well have I been taught his steps and paces 

That I can stop thje ^idal-sea's inflowing. 

My stot outruns the hare; his speed amazes. 

Me he bade without pretences 

That I go not, though requested; 

That I make no whit surrender 

Nor abandon our seclusion: 

"Differ from violets, whose fear effaces 

Their hue ere winter; behold the glowing 

Laurel stays, stay thou. Year long the genet blazes." 

"You who commit no offences 

'Gainst constancy; have not quested; 

Assent not! Though a maid send her 

Suit to thee. Think you confusion 

Will come to her who shall track out your traces ? 

And give your enemies a chance for boasts and crowing? 

No ! After God, see that she have your praises." 

Coward, shall I trust not defences ! 
Faint ere the suit be tested? 



ARNAUT DANIEL 317 

Follow! till she extend her 

Favour. Keep on, try conclusion 

For if I get in this naught but disgraces, 

Then must I pilgrimage past Ebro's flowing 

And seek for luck amid the Lernian mazes. 

If I've passed bridge-rails and fences, 

Think you then that I am bested? 

No, for with no food or slender 

Ration, I'd have joy's profusion 

To hold her kissed, and there are never spaces 

Wide to keep me from her, but she'd be showing 

In my heart, and stand forth before his gazes. 

.Lovelier maid from Nile to Sences 
Is not vested nor divested, 
So great is her bodily splendor 
That you would think it illusion. 
Amor, if she but hold me in her embraces, 
I shall not feel cold hail nor winter's blowing 
Nor break for all the pain in fever's dazes. 

Arnaut hers from foot to face is, 

He would not have Lucerne, without her, owing 

Him, nor lord the land whereon the Ebro grazes. 

The feminine rhyming throughout and the shorter 
opening lines keep the strophe much lighter and more 
melodic than that of the canzo which Canello prints last 
of all. 



318 INSTIGATIONS 

SIM FOS AMORS DE JOI DONAR TANT LARGA 

"Ingenium nobis ipsa puella facit." 

Propertius II, i. 

Sim fos Amors de joi donar tant larga 
Cum ieu vas lieis d'aver fin cor e franc, 
Ja per gran ben nom calgra far embarc 
Qu'ef am tant aut quel pes mi poia em tomba ; 
Mas quand m' albir cum es de pretz al som 
Mout m'en am mais car anc 1'ausiei voler, 
Caras sai ieu que mos cors e mos sens 
Mi farant far lor grat rica conquesta. 

Had Love as little need to be exhorted 
To give me joy, as I to keep a frank 
And ready heart toward her, never he'd blast 
My hope, whose very height hath high exalted, 
And cast me down ... to think on my default, 
And her great worth; yet thinking what I dare, 
More love myself, and know my heart and sense 
Shall lead me to high conquest, unmolested. 

I am, spite long delay, pooled and contorted 
And whirled with all my streams 'neath such a bank 
Of promise, that her fair words hold me fast 
In joy, and will, until in tomb I am halted. 
As I'm not one to change hard gold for spalt, 
And no alloy's in her, that debonaire 
Shall hold my faith and mine obedience 
Till, by her accolade, I am invested. 

Long waiting hath brought in and hath extorted 
The fragrance of desire; throat and flank 



ARNAUT DANIEL 319 

The longing takes me ... and with pain surpassed 
By her great beauty. Seemeth it hath vaulted 
O'er all the rest . . . them doth it set in fault 
So that whoever sees her anywhere 
Must see how charm and every excellence 
Hold sway in her, untaint, and uncontested. 

Since she is such; longing no wise detorted 

Is in me ... and plays not the mountebank, 

For all my sense is her, and is compassed 

Solely in her; and no man is assaulted 

(By God his dove !) by such desires as vault 

In me, to have great excellence. My care 

On her so stark, I can show tolerance 

To jacks whose joy 's to see fine loves uncrested. 

Miels-de-Ben, have not your heart distorted 

Against me now; your love has left me blank, 

Void, empty of power or will to turn or cast 

Desire from me . . . not brittle,* nor defaulted. 

Asleep, awake, to thee do I exalt 

And offer me. No less, when I lie bare 

Or wake, my will to thee, think not turns thence, 

For breast and throat and head hath it attested. 

Pouch-mouthed blubberers, culrouns and aborted, 
May flame bite in your gullets, sore eyes and rank 
T' the lot of you, you've got my horse, my last 
'Shilling, too; and you'd see love dried and salted. 
God blast you all that you can't call a halt ! 
God's itch to you, chit-cracks that overbear 

* "Brighter than glass, and yet as glass is, brittle." The com- 
parisons to glass went out of poetry when glass ceased to be 
a rare, precious substance. (Cf. Passionate Pilgrim, III.) 



320 INSTIGATIONS 

And spoil good men, ill luck your impotence ! ! 

More told, the more you've wits smeared and congested. 

CODA 

Arnaut has borne delay and long defence 
And will wait long to see his hopes well nested. 

[In De Vulgari Eloquio II, 13, Dante calls for freedom 
in the rhyme order within the strophe, and cites this 
canzo of Arnaut's as an example of poem where there 
is no rhyme within the single strophe. Dante's "Rithi- 
morum quoque relationi vacemus" implies no careless- 
ness concerning the blending of rhyme sounds, for we 
find him at the end of the chapter "et tertio rithimorum 
asperitas, nisi forte sit lenjtati permista: nam lenium 
asperorumque rithimorum mixtura ipsa tragoedia nite- 
scit," as he had before demanded a mixture of shaggy 
and harsh words with the softer words of a poem. 
"Nimo scilicet eiusdem rithimi repercussio, nisi forte 
novum aliquid atque intentatum artis hoc sibi praeroget." 
The De Eloquio is ever excellent testimony of the way 
in which a great artist approaches the detail of metier.] 



VIII 

TRANSLATORS OF GREEK 

EARLY TRANSLATORS OF HOMER 

I. HUGHES SALEL 

THE dilection of Greek poets has waned during the 
last pestilent century, and this decline has, I think, kept 
pace with a decline in the use of Latin cribs to Greek 
authors. The classics have more and more become a 
baton exclusively for the cudgelling of schoolboys, and 
less and less a diversion for the mature. 

I do not imagine I am the sole creature who has been 
well taught his Latin and very ill-taught his Greek (be- 
ginning at the age, say, of twelve, when one is unready 
to discriminate matters of style, and when the economy 
of the adjective cannot be wholly absorbing). A child 
may be bulldozed into learning almost anything, but man 
accustomed to some degree of freedom is loath to ap- 
proach a masterpiece through five hundred pages of 
grammar. Even a scholar like Person may confer with 
former translators. 

We have drifted out of touch with the Latin authors 
as well, and we have mislaid the fine English versions: 
Golding's Metamorphoses', Gavin Douglas' ^Eneids', 
Marlowe's Eclogues from Ovid, in each of which books 
a great poet has compensated, by his own skill, any loss 

321 



322 INSTIGATIONS 

in transition ; a new beauty has in each case been created. 
Greek in English remains almost wholly unsuccessful, 
or rather, there are glorious passages but no long or 
whole satisfaction. Chapman remains the best English 
"Homer," marred though he may be by excess of added 
ornament, and rather more marred by parentheses and 
inversions, to the point of being hard to read in many 
places. 

And if one turn to Chapman for almost any favorite 
passage one is almost sure to be disappointed; on the 
other hand I think no one will excel him in the plainer 
passages of narrative, as of Priam's going to Achilles 
in the XXIVth Iliad. Yet he breaks down in Priam's 
prayer at just the point where the language should be 
the simplest and austerest. 

Pope is easier reading, and, out of fashion though he 
is, he has at least the merit of translating Homer into 
something. The nadir of Homeric translation is reached 
by the Leaf-Lang prose; Victorian faddism having per- 
suaded these gentlemen to a belief in King James 
fustian; their alleged prose has neither the concision of 
verse nor the virtues of direct motion. In their preface 
they grumble about Chapman's "mannerisms," yet their 
version is full of "Now behold I" and "yea even as" and 
"even as when," tushery possible only to an affected age 
bent on propaganda. For, having, despite the exclusion 
of the Dictionnaire Philosophique from the island, finally 
found that the Bible couldn't be retained either as his- 
tory or as private Reuter from J'hvh's Hebrew Press 
bureau, the Victorians tried to boom it, and even its 
wilfully bowdlerized translations, as literature. 

"So spake he, and roused Athene that already was set 



TRANSLATORS OF GREEK 323 

thereon. . . . Even as the son of ... even in such 
guise. . . ." 

perhaps no worse than 

"With hollow shriek the steep of Delphos leaving"* 
but bad enough anyway. 

Of Homer two qualities remain untranslated: the 
magnificent onomatopoeia, as of the rush of the waves 
on the sea-beach and their recession in : 

irapa diva 7roXi'</>Aot(r/3<HO 0aXdor<n;s 

untranslated and untranslatable; and, secondly, the au- 
thentic cadence of speech; the absolute conviction that 
the words used, let us say by Achilles to the "dog-faced" 
chicken-hearted Agamemnon, are in the actual swing of 
words spoken. This quality of actual speaking is not 
untranslatable. Note how Pope fails to translate it: 

There sat the seniors of the Trojan race 

(Old Priam's chiefs, and most in Priam's grace) : 

The king, the first; Thymcetes at his side; 

Lampus and Clytius, long in counsel try'd ; 

Panthus and Hicetaon, once the strong; 

And next, the wisest of the reverend throng, 

Antenor grave, and sage Ucalegon, 

Lean'd on the walls, and bask'd before the sun. 

Chiefs, who no more in bloody fights engage, 

But wise through time, and narrative with age, 

In summer days like grasshoppers rejoice, 

A bloodless race, that send a feeble voice. 

These, when the Spartan queen approach'd the tower, 

In secret own'd resistless beauty's power : 

* Milton, of course, whom my detractors say I condemn with- 
out due circumspection. 



324 INSTIGATIONS 

They cried, No wonder, such celestial charms 
For nine long years have set the world in arms ! 
What winning graces ! What majestic mien ! 
She moves a goddess, and she looks a queen ! 
Yet hence, oh Heaven, convey that fatal face, 
And from destruction save the Trojan race. 

This is anything but the "surge and thunder," but it is, 
on the other hand, a definite idiom, within the limits of 
the rhymed pentameter couplet it is even musical in 
parts ; there is imbecility in the antithesis, and bathos in 
"she looks a queen," but there is fine accomplishment in : 

"Wise through time, and narrative with age," 

Mr. Pope's own invention, and excellent. What we 
definitely can not hear is the voice of the old men speak- 
ing. The simile of the grasshoppers is well rendered, but 
the old voices do not ring in the ear. 

Homer (iii. 156-160) reports their conversation: 



Ou P/*<rts, Tpcoas KCU kvKvfjfjudas A.XO.LOVS 
ToijjS dfji<f>l yvvaud TTO\VI> xpovov aXyta i 
Atais adav6.ri)<n Beys ts WTTCI eoucev. 
'AXXa /cat &s, roll] nep ecus', kv vqvai 
Mrj6' finiv TKe<Tffi r' 'oirlffcru TTTJfia XITTOITO. 

Which is given in Sam. Clark's ad verbum translation: 
"Non est indigne ferendum, Trojanos et bene-ocreatos 

Archives 

Tali de muliere longum tempus dolores pati : 
Omnino immortalibus deabus ad vultum similis est. 
Sed et sic, talis quamvis sit, in navibus redeat, 
Neque nobis liberisque in posterum detrimentum 
relinquatur." 



TRANSLATORS OF GREEK 325 

Mr. Pope has given six short lines for five long ones, 
but he has added "fatal" to face (or perhaps only lifted 
it from vkntcris), he has added "winning graces," "ma- 
jestic," "looks a queen." As for owning beauty's reiiat- 
less power secretly or in the open, the Greek is: 

Toloi &pa Tpcocoi' riyr)TOpes fyr' tiri wbpyu. 
Ot 5' cos ovv eldov 'EKevrjv tiri irvpyov lovaav, 
*H*a irpos a\\rj\ovs crjta Trrtpoevr' aybpevov' 

and Sam. Clark as follows: 

"Tales utique Trojanorum proceres sedebant in turri. 
Hi autem ut viderunt Helenam ad turrim venientem, 
Submisse inter se verbis alatis dixerunt ;" 



is an adjective of sound, it is purely objective, 
even submisse* is an addition; though *Hxa might, by 
a slight strain, be taken to mean that the speech of the 
old men came little by little, a phrase from each of the 
elders. Still it would be purely objective. It does not 
even say they spoke humbly or with resignation. 

Chapman is no closer than his successor. He is so 
galant in fact, that I thought I had found his description 
in Rochefort. The passage is splendid, but splendidly 
unhomeric : 

"All grave old men, and soldiers they had been, but for 

age 
Now left the wars ; yet counsellors they were exceed- 

ingly sage. 
And as in well-grown woods, on trees, cold spiny grass- 

hoppers 

*/. e. Clark is "correct," but the words shade differently. 
* Hxa means low, quiet, with a secondary meaning of "little by 
little." Submisse means low, quiet, with a secondary meaning 
of modesty, humbly. 



326 INSTIGATIONS 

Sit chirping, and send voices out, that scarce can pierce 

our ears 
For softness, and their weak faint sounds; so, talking 

on the tow'r, 
These seniors of the people sat; who when they saw 

the pow'r 
Of beauty, in the queen, ascend, ev'n those cold-spirited 

peers, 
Those wise and almost wither'd men, found this heat 

in their years, 
That they were forc'd (though whispering) to say: 

'What man can blame 
The Greeks and Trojans to endure, for so admir'd a 

dame, 
So many mis'ries, and so long? In her sweet 

count'nance shine 
Looks like the Goddesses. And yet (though never so 

divine) 

Before we boast, unjustly still, of her enforced prise, 
And justly suffer for her sake, with all our progenies, 
Labor and ruin, let her go ; the profit of our land 
Must pass the beauty.' Thus, though these could bear 

so fit a hand 
On their affections, yet, when all their gravest powers 

were us'd, 
They could not choose but welcome her, and rather they 

accus'd 
The Gods than beauty; for thus spake the most-fam'd 

king of Troy :" 

The last sentence representing mostly "fis ap e<a in the 
line: 



*12s ap t<f>av' Hpiajuos 5' ' 
Sic dixerunt: Priamus autem Helenam vocavit voce." 



TRANSLATORS OF GREEK 327 

Chapman is nearer Swinburne's ballad with: 

"But those three following men," etc. 
than to his alleged original. 

Rochefort is as follows (Iliade, Livre iii, M. de 
Roche fort, 1772) : 

"Helene a ce discours sentit naitre en son ame 
Un doux ressouvenir de sa premiere flamme; 
Le desir de revoir les lieux qu'elle a quittes 
Jette un trouble inconnu dans ses sens agites. 
Tremblante elle se leve et les yeux pleins de larmes, 
D'un voile eblouissant elle couvre ses charmes ; 
De deux femmes suivie elle vole aux remparts. 
La s'etaient assembles ces illustres vieillards 
Qui courbes sous le faix des travaux et de 1'age 
N'alloient plus au combat signaler leur courage, 
Mais qui, pres de leur Roi, par de sages avis, 
Mieux qu'en leurs jeunes ans defendoient leur pa'is. 
Dans leurs doux entretiens, leur voix toujours egale 
Ressembloit aux accents que forme la cigale, 
Lorsqu'aux longs jours d'ete cachee en un buisson, 
Elle vient dans les champs annoncer la moisson. 
Une tendre surprise enflamma leurs visages ; 
Frappes de ses appas, ils se disoient entre eux : 
'Qui pourroit s'etonner que tant de Rois fameux, 
Depuis neuf ans entiers aient combattu pour elle ? 
Sur le trone des cieux Venus n'est pas plus belle. 
Mais quelque soit 1'amour qu'inspirent ses attraits, 
Puisse Illion enfin la perdre pour jamais, 
Puisse-t-elle bientot a son epoux rendue, 
Conjurer 1'infortune en ces lieux attendue.' " 



328 INSTIGATIONS 

Hugues Salel (1545), praised by Ronsard, is more 
pleasing : 

"Le Roi Priam, et auec luy bon nombre 
De grandz Seigneurs estoient a 1'ombre 
Sur les Crenaulx, Tymoetes et Panthus, 
Lampus, Clytus, excellentz en vertus, 
Hictaon renomme en bataille, 
Ucalegon iadis de fort taille, 
Et Antenor aux armes nompareil 
Mais pour alors ne seruantz qu'en conseil. 

La, ces Vieillards assis de peur du Hasle 
Causoyent ensemble ainsi que la Cignalle 
Ou deux ou trois, entre les vertes fueilles, 
En temps d'Este gazouillant a merveilles; 
Lesquelz voyans la diuine Gregeoise, 
Disoient entre eux que si la grande noise 
De ces deux camps duroit longe saision, 
Certainement ce n'estoit sans raision: 
Veu la Beaulte, et plus que humain outrage, 
Qui reluysoit en son diuin visaige. 
Ce neantmoins il vauldrait mieulx la rendre, 
(Ce disoyent ilz) sans gueres plus attendre. 
Pour eviter le mal qui peult venir, 
Oui la voudra encores retenir." 

Salel is a most delightful approach to the Iliads; he 
is still absorbed in the subject-matter, as Douglas and 
Golding were absorbed in their subject-matter. Note 
how exact he is in the rendering of the old men's mental 
attitude. Note also that he is right in his era. I mean 
simply that Homer is a little rustre, a little, or perhaps 
a good deal, mediaeval, he has not the dovetailing of 
Ovid. He has onomatopoeia, as of poetry sung out; he 






TRANSLATORS OF GREEK 329 

has authenticity of conversation as would be demanded 
by an intelligent audience not yet laminated with 
aesthetics ; capable of recognizing reality. He has the 
repetitions of the chanson de geste. Of all the French 
and English versions I think Salel alone gives any hint 
of some of these characteristics. Too obviously he is not 
onomatopoeic, no. But he is charming, and readable, 
and "Briseis Fleur des Demoiselles" has her reality. 

Nicolo Valla is, for him who runs, closer: 

"Consili virtus, summis de rebus habebant 
Sermones, et multa inter se et magna loquentes, 
Arboribus quales gracili stridere cicadae 
Saepe solent cantu, postquam sub moenibus altis 
Tyndarida aspiciunt, procerum turn quisque fremebat, 
Mutuasque exorsi, Decuit tot funera Teucros 
Argolicasque pati, longique in tempore bellum 
Tantus in ore decor cui non mortalis in artus 
Est honor et vultu divina efflagrat imago. 
Diva licet facies, Danauum cum classe recedat 
Longius excido ne nos aut nostra fatiget 
Pignora sic illi tantis de rebus agebant." 

This hexameter is rather heavily accented. It shows, 
perhaps, the source of various "ornaments" in later Eng- 
lish and French translations. It has indubitable sonority 
even though monotonous. 

It is the earliest Latin verse rendering I have yet come 
upon, and is bound in with Raphael of Volterra's first 
two Iliads, and some further renderings by Obsopeo. 

Odyssea (Liber primus) (1573). 

"Die mihi musa uirum captae post tempora Troiae 
Qui mores hominum multorum uidit et urbes 



330 INSTIGATIONS 

Multa quoque et ponto passus dum naufragus errat 

Ut sibi turn sociis uitam seruaret in alto 

Non tamen hos cupens fato deprompsit acerbo 

Ob scelus admissum extinctos ausumque malignum 

Qui fame compulsu solis rapuere iuvencos 

Stulti ex quo reditum ad patrias deus abstulit oras. 

Horum itaque exitium memora mihi musa canenti." 

Odyssea (Lib. sec.) (1573). 

"Cumprimum effulsit roseis aurora quadrigis 
Continue e stratis proles consurgit Ulyxis 
Induit et uestes humerosque adcomodat ensem 
Molia denin pedibus formosis uincula nectit 
Parque deo egrediens thalamo praeconibus omnis 
Concilio cognant extemplo mandat Achaeos 
Ipse quoque ingentem properabat ad aedibus hastam 
Corripiens : gemenique canes comitantor euntem 
Quumque illi mirum Pallas veneranda decorem 
Preberer populus venientem suspicit omnis 
Inque throno patrio ueteres cessere sedenti." 

The charm of Salel is continued in the following ex- 
cerpts. They do not cry out for comment. I leave 
Ogilby's English and the lines of Latin to serve as con- 
trast or cross-light. 

fliade (Livre I). Hugues Salel (1545).* 

THE IRE 

"Je te supply Deesse gracieuse, 
Vouloir chanter Tire pernicieuse, 

* Later continued by 1'Abbe de St. Cherrot. 



TRANSLATORS OF GREEK 331 

Dont Achille fut tellement espris, 
Que par icelle, ung grand nombre d'espritz 
Des Princes Grecs, par dangereux encombres, 
Feit lors descente aux infernales Umbres. 
Et leurs beaulx Corps privez de Sepulture 
Furent aux chiens et aux oiseaulx pasture." 

I Hade (Lib. III). John Ogilby (1660). 

HELEN 

"Who in this chamber, sumpteously adornd 
Sits on your ivory bed, nor could you say, 
By his rich habit, he had fought to-day : 
A reveller or masker so comes drest, 
From splendid sports returning to his rest. 
Thus did love's Queen warmer desires prepare. 
But when she saw her neck so heavenly faire, 
Her lovely bosome and celestial eyes, 
Amazed, to the Goddess, she replies: 
Why wilt thou happless me once more betray, 
And to another wealthy town convey, 
Where some new favourite must, as now at Troy 
With utter loss of honour me enjoy." 

Iliade (Livre VI). Salel. 

GLAUCUS RESPOND A DIOMSDE 

"Adonc Glaucus, auec grace et audace, 
Luy respondit: T'enquiers tu de ma race? 
Le genre humain est fragile et muable 
Comme la fueille et aussi peu durable. 



332 INSTIGATIONS 

Car tout ainsi qu'on uoit les branches uertes 
Sur le printemps de f ueilles bien couuertes 
Qui par les uents d'automne et la froidure 
Tombent de 1'arbre et perdent leur uerdure 
Puis de rechef la gelee passee, 
II en reuient a la place laissee : 
Ne plus ne moins est du lignage humain : 
Tel est huy uif qui sera mort demain. 
S'il en meurt ung, ung autre reuint naistre. 
Voyla comment se conserue leur estre.' " 

Iliade (Lib. VI). As in Virgil, Dante, and others. 

"Quasim gente rogas ? Quibus et natalibus ortus ? 
Persimile est foliis hominum genus omne caduciis 
Quae nunc nata uides, pulchrisque, uirescere sylvis 
Automno ueniente cadunt, simul ilia perurens 
Incubuit Boreas : quaedam sub uerna renasci 
Tempora, sic uice perpetua succrescere lapsis, 
Semper item nova, sic alliis obeuntibus, ultro 
Succedunt alii luuenes aetate grauatis. 
Quod si forte iuvat te qua sit quisque suorum 
Stirpe satus, si natales cognoscere quaeris 
Forte meos, referam, quae sunt notissima multis." 

Iliade (Livre IX). Salel. 

CALYDON 

"En Calydon regnoit 
Oeneus, ung bon Roy qui donnoit 
De ses beaulx Fruictz chascun an les Primices 
Aux Immortelz, leur faisant Sacrifices. 



TRANSLATORS OF GREEK 333 

Or il aduint (ou bien par son uouloir, 

Ou par oubly) qu'il meit a nonchalloir 

Diane chaste, et ne luy feit offrande, 

Dont elle print Indignation grande 

Encontre luy, et pour bien le punir 

Feit ung Sanglier dedans ses Champs uenir 

Horrible et fier qui luy feit grand dommage 

Tuant les Gens et gastant le Fruictage. 

Maintz beaulx Pomiers, maintz Arbres reuestuz 

De Fleur et Fruict, en furent abattuz, 

Et de la Dent aguisee et poinctue, 

Le Bled gaste et la Vigne tortue. 

Meleager, le Filz de ce bon Roy, 

Voyant ainsi le piteux Desarroy 

De son Pays et de sa Gent troublee 

Proposa lors de faire une Assemblee 

De bons Veneurs et Leutiers pour chasser 

L'horrible Beste et sa Mort pourchasser. 

Ce qui fut faict. Maintes Gens Py trouverent 

Qui centre luy ses Forces eprouverent; 

Mais a la fin le Sanglier inhumain 

Receut la Mort de sa Royale Main. 

Estant occis, deux grandes Nations 

Pour la Depouille eurent Contentions 

Les Curetois disoient la meriter, 

Ceulx d'Etolie en uouloient heriter." 

I Hade (Livre X). Salel. 

THE BATHERS 

"Quand Ulysses fut en la riche tente 
Du compaignon, alors il diligente 



334 INSTIGATIONS 

De bien lier ses cheuaulx et les loge 
Soigneusement dedans la meme loge 
Et au rang meme ou la belle monture 
Du fort Gregeois mangeoit pain et pasture 
Quand aux habitz de Dolon, il les pose 
Dedans la nef, sur la poupe et propose 
En faire ung jour a Pallas sacrifice, 
Et luy offrir a jamais son seruice 
Bien tost apres, ces deux Grecs de ualeur 
Se cognoissant oppressez de chaleur, 
Et de sueur, dedans la mer entrerent 
Pour se lauer, et tres bien so froterent 
Le col, le dos, les jambes et les cuisses, 
Ostant du corps toutes les immondices, 
Estans ainsi refreichiz et bien netz, 
Dedans des baingz souefs bien ordonnez, 
S'en sont entrez, et quand leurs corps 
Ont este oinctz d'huyle par le dehors. 
Puis sont allez manger prians Minerue 
Qu'en tous leurs faictz les dirige et conserue 
En respandant du uin a pleine tasse, 
(pour sacrifice) au milieu de la place." 

II. ANDREAS DIVUS 

IN the year of grace 1906, '08, or '10 I picked from 
the Paris quais a Latin version of the Odyssey by An- 
dreas Divus Justinopolitanus (Parisiis, In officina Chris- 
tiani Wecheli, M, D, XXXVIII), the volume containing 
also the Batrachomyomachia, by Aldus Manutius, and 
the "Hymni Deorum" rendered by Georgius Dartona 
Cretensis. I lost a Latin Iliads for the economy of four 
francs, these coins being at that time scarcer with me 



TRANSLATORS OF GREEK 335 

lan they ever should be with any man of my tastes 
and abilities. 

In 1911 the Italian savant, Signore E. Teza, published 
his note, "Quale fosse la Casata di Andreas Divus Jus- 
tinopolitanus ?" This question I am unable to answer, 
nor do I greatly care by what name Andreas was known 
in the privacy of his life: Signore Dio, Signore Divino, 
or even Mijnheer van Gott may have served him as 
patronymic. Sannazaro, author of De Partu Virginis, 
and also of the epigram ending hanc et sugere, trans- 
lated himself as Sanctus Nazarenus ; I am myself known 
as Signore Sterlina to James Joyce's children, while the 
phonetic translation of my name into the Japanese tongue 
is so indecorous that I am seriously advised not to use 
it, lest it do me harm in Nippon. (Rendered back ad 
verbum into our maternal speech it gives for its mean- 
ing, "This picture of a phallus costs ten yen." There is 
no surety in shifting personal names from one idiom 
to another.) 

Justinopolis is identified as Capodistria; what matters 
is Divus' text. We find for the "Nekuia" (Odys. xi) : 
"At postquam ad navem descendimus, et mare, 
Nauem quidem primum deduximus in mare diuum, 
Et malum posuimus et vela in navi nigra: 
Intro autem cues accipientes ire fecimus, intro et ipsi 
luimus dolentes, huberes lachrymas fundentes: 
Nobis autem a tergo navis nigrse prorae 
Prosperum ventum imisit pandentem velum bonum 

amicum 

Circe benecomata gravis Dea altiloqua. 
Nos autem arma singula expedientes in navi 
Sedebamus : hanc autem ventusque gubernatorque 
dirigebat : 



336 INSTIGATIONS 

Huius at per totum diem extensa sunt vela pontum 

transientis : 

Occidit tune Sol, ombratae sunt omnes viae: 
Haec autem in fines pervenit profundi Oceani : 
Illic autem Cimmeriorum virorum populusque civi- 

tasque, 

Caligine et nebula cooperti, neque unquam ipsos 
Sol lucidus aspicit radiis, 
Neque quando tendit ad ccelum stellatum, 
Neque quando retro in terram a coelo vertitur: 
Sed nox pernitiosa extenditur miseris hominibus : 
Navem quidem illuc venientes traximus, extra autem 

oves 

Accepimus: ipsi autem rursus apud fluxum Oceani 
luimus, ut in locum perveniremus quem dixit Circe : 
Hie sacra quidem Perimedes Eurylochusque 
Faciebant : ego autem ensem acutum trahens a f oemore, 
Foveam f odi quantum cubiti mensura hinc et inde : 
Circum ipsam autem libamina fundimus omnibus mor- 

tuis; 

Primum mulso, postea autem dulci vino : 
Tertio rursus aqua, et farinas albas miscui : 
Multum autem oravi mortuorum infirma capita: 
Profectus in Ithicam, sterilem bovem, quae optima 

esset, 

Sacrificare in domibus, pyramque implere bonis: 
Tiresiae autem seorsum ovem sacrificare vovi 
Totam nigram, qu;e ovibus antecellat nostris: 
Has autem postquam votis precationibusque gentes 

mortuorum 

Precatus sum, oves autem accipiens obtruncavi : 
In fossam fluebat autem sanguis niger, congregataeque 

sunt 
Animae ex Erebo cadaverum mortuorum, 



TRANSLATORS OF GREEK 337 

Nymphaeque iuvenesque et multa passi senes, 

Virginesque tenerae, nuper flebilem animum habentes, 

Multi autem vulnerati aereis lanceis 

Viri in bello necati, cruenta arma habentes, 

Qui multi circum foveam veniebant aliunde alius 

Magno clamore, me autem pallidus timor cepit. 

lam postea socios hortans iussi 

Pecora, quae iam iacebant iugulata saevo aere, 

Excoriantes combuere : supplicare autem Diis, 

Fortique Plutoni, et laudatae Proserpinae. 

At ego ensem acutum trahens a foemore, 

Sedi, neque permisi mortuorum impotentia capita 

Sanguinem prope ire, antequam Tiresiam audirem: 

Prima autem anima Elpenoris venit socii: 

Nondum enim sepultus erat sub terra lata, 

Corpus enim in domo Circes reliquimus nos 

Infletum et insepultum, quoniam labor alius urgebat: 

Hunc quidem ego lachrymatus sum videns, misertusque 

sum aio, 
Et ipsum clamando verba velocia allocutus sum : 

Elpenor, quomodo venisti sub caliginem obscuram: 
Praevenisti pedes existens quam ego in navi nigra? 
Sic dixi : hie autem mini lugens respondit verbo : 
Nobilis Laertiade, prudens Ulysse, 
Nocuit mihi dei fatum malum, et multum vinum: 
Circes autem in domo dormiens, non animadverti 
Me retrogradum descendere eundo per scalam longam, 
Sed contra murum cecidi ast autem mihi cervix 
Nervorum fracta est, anima autem in infernum 

descendit : 
Nunc autem his qui venturi sunt postea precor non 

praesentibus 

Per uxorem et patrem, qui educavit parvum existentem, 
Telemachumque quern solum in domibus reliquisti. 



338 INSTIGATIONS 

Scio enim quod hinc iens domo ex inferni 

Insulam in ^Eaeam impellens benefabricatam navim: 

Tune te postea Rex-iubeo recordari mei 

Ne me infletum, insepultum, abiens retro, relinquas 

Separatus, ne deorum ira fiam 

Sed me combure con armis quaecunque mihi stint, 

Sepulchramque mihi accumula cani in litore maris, 

Viri infelicis, et cuius apud posteros fama sit: 

Haecque mihi perfice, figeque in sepulchre remum, 

Quo et vivus remigabam existens cum meis sociis. 

Sic dixit: at ego ipsum, respondens, allocutus sum: 
Haec tibi infelix perficiamque et faciam : 
Nos quidem sic verbis respondentes molestis 
Sedebamus : ego quidem seperatim supra sanguinem 

ensem tenebam: 

Idolum autem ex altera parte socii multa loquebatur : 
Venit autem insuper anima matris mortuse 
Autolyci filia magnanimi Anticlea, 
Quam vivam dereliqui iens ad Ilium sacrum, 
Hac quidem ego lachrymatus sum videns miseratusque 

sum aio: 

Sed neque sic sivi priorem licet valde dolens 
Sanguinem prope ire, antequam Tiresiam audirem: 
Venit autem insuper anima Thebani Tiresise, 
Aureum sceptrum tenens, me autem novit et allocuta 

est: 

Cur iterum o infelix linquens lumen Solis 
Venisti. ut videas mortuos, et iniucundam regionem? 
Sed recede a fossa, remove autem ensem acutum, 
Sanguinem ut bibam, et tibi vera dicam. 

Sic dixi: ego autem retrocedens, ensem argenteum 
Vagina inclusi: hie autem postquam bibit sanguinem 

nigrum, 
Et tune iam me verbis allocutus est vates verus : 



TRANSLATORS OF GREEK 339 

Reditum quaeris dulcem illustris Ulysse: 
Hanc autem tibi difficilem faciet Deus, non enim 

puto 

Latere Neptunum, quam iram imposuit animo 
Iratus, quern ei filium dilectum excsecasti: 
Sed tamen et sic mala licet passi pervenientis, 
Si volveris tuum animum continere et sociorum." 

The meaning of the passage is, with a few abbrevia- 
tions, as I have interpolated it in my Third Canto. 

"And then went down to the ship, set keel to breakers, 
Forth on the godly sea, 
We set up mast and sail on the swart ship, 
Sheep bore we aboard her, and our bodies also, 
Heavy with weeping; and winds from sternward 
Bore us out onward with bellying canvas, 
Circe's this craft, the trim-coifed goddess. 
Then sat we amidships wind jamming the tiller 
Thus with stretched sail we went over sea till day's end. 
Sun to his slumber, shadows o'er all the ocean, 
Came we then to the bounds of deepest water, 
To the Kimmerian lands and peopled cities 
Covered with close-webbed mist, unpierced ever 
With glitter of sun-rays, 

Nor with stars stretched, nor looking back from heaven, 
Swartest night stretched over wretched men there, 
The ocean flowing backward, came we then to the place 
Aforesaid by Circe. 

Here did they rites, Perimedes and Eurylochus, 
And drawing sword from my hip 
I dug the ell-square pitkin, 
Poured we libations unto each the dead, 



340 INSTIGATIONS 

First mead and then sweet wine, water mixed with 
white flour, 

Then prayed I many a prayer to the sickly death's- 
heads, 

As set in Ithaca, sterile bulls of the best 

For sacrifice, heaping the pyre with goods. 

Sheep, to Tiresias only; black and a bell sheep. 

Dark blood flowed in the fosse, 

Souls out of Erebus, cadaverous dead, 

Of brides, of youths, and of much-bearing old; 

Virgins tender, souls stained with recent tears, 

Many men mauled with bronze lance-heads, 

Battle spoil, bearing yet dreary arms, 

These many crowded about me, 

With shouting, pallor upon me, cried to my men for 
more beasts. 

Slaughtered the herds, sheep slain of bronze, 

Poured ointment, cried to the gods, 

To Pluto the strong, and praised Proserpine, 

Unsheathed the narrow sword, 

I sat to keep off the impetuous, impotent dead 

Till I should hear Tiresias. 

But first Elpenor came, our friend Elpenor, 

Unburied, cast on the wide earth, 

Limbs that we left in the house of Circe, 

Unwept, unwrapped in sepulchre, since toils urged 
other. 

Pitiful spirit, and I cried in hurried speech: 

'Elpenor, how art thou come to this dark coast? 

Cam'st thou a- foot, outstripping seamen?' 

And he in heavy speech: 

'111 fate and abundant wine ! I slept in Circe's ingle, 

Going down the long ladder unguarded, I fell against 
the buttress, 



TRANSLATORS OF GREEK 341 

Shattered the nape-nerve, the soul sought Avernus. 
But thou, O King, I bid remember me, unwept, un- 

buried, 

Heap up mine arms, be tomb by sea-board, and in- 
scribed : 

"A man of no fortune and ivith a name to come." 
And set my oar up, that I swung mid fellows.' 
Came then another ghost, whom I beat off, Anticlea, 
And then Tiresias, Theban, 

Holding his golden wand, knew me and spoke first: 
'Man of ill hour, why come a second time, 
Leaving the sunlight, facing the sunless dead, and this 

joyless region? 
Stand from the fosse, move back, leave me my bloody 

bever, 
And I will speak you true speeches/ 

And I stepped back, 
Sheathing the yellow sword. Dark blood he drank 

then, 

And spoke : 'Lustrous Odysseus 

Shalt return through spiteful Neptune, over dark seas, 
Lose all companions/ Foretold me the ways and the 

signs. 

Came then Anticlea, to whom I answered: 
'Fate drives me on through these deeps. I sought 

Tiresias/ 

Told her the news of Troy. And thrice her shadow 
Faded in my embrace." 

It takes no more Latin than I have to know that Divus' 
Latin is not the Latin of Catullus and Ovid; that it is 
illepidus to chuck Latin nominative participles about in 
such profusion ; that Romans did not use habentes as the 
Greeks used exovres, etc. And nos in line 53 is un- 



342 INSTIGATIONS 

necessary. Divus' Latin has, despite these wems, its 
quality ; it is even singable, there are constant suggestions 
of the poetic motion; it is very simple Latin, after all, 
and a crib of this sort may make just the difference of 
permitting a man to read fast enough to get the swing 
and mood of the subject, instead of losing both in a 
dictionary. 

Even habentes when one has made up one's mind to 
it, together with less obvious exoticisms, does not upset 
one as 

"the steep of Delphos leaving." 

One is, of necessity, more sensitive to botches in one's 
own tongue than to botches in another, however care- 
fully learned. 

For all the fuss about Divus' errors of elegance 
Samuelis Clarkius and Jo. Augustus Ernestus do not 
seem to have gone him much better with two hundred 
years extra Hellenic scholarship at their disposal. 

The first Aldine Greek Iliads appeared I think in 
1504, Odyssey possibly later.* My edition of Divus is 
of 1538, and as it contains Aldus' own translation of the 
Frog-fight, it may indicate that Divus was in touch with 
Aldus in Italy, or quite possibly the French edition is 
pirated from an earlier Italian printing. A Latin 
Odyssey in some sort of verse was at that time in- 
finitely worth doing. 

Raphael of Volterra had done a prose Odyssey with 
the opening lines of several books and a few other brief 

* My impression is that I saw an Iliad by Andreas Divus on 
the Quais in Paris, at the time I found his version of the Odys- 
sey, but an impression of this sort is, after eight years, un- 
trustworthy, it may have been only a Latin Iliad in similar 
binding. 



TRANSLATORS OF GREEK 343 

passages in verse. This was printed with Laurenzo 
Valla's prose Iliads as early as 1502. He begins: 

"Die mini musa virum captae post tempora Troiae 
Qui mores hominum multorum vidit et urbes 
Multa quoque et ponto passus dum naufragus errat 
Ut sibi turn sotiis (sociis) vitam servaret in alto 
Non tamen hos cupiens fato deprompsit acerbo." 

Probably the source of "Master Watson's" English 
quantitative couplet, but obviously not copied by Divus: 

"Virum mihi die musa multiscium qui valde multum 
Erravit ex quo Troiae sacram urbem depopulatus est: 
Multorum autem virorum vidit urbes et mentem 

cognovit : 
Multos autem hie in mare passus est dolores, suo in 

animo, 
Liberans suamque animam et reditum sociorum." 

On the other hand, it is nearly impossible to believe 
that Clark and Ernestus were unfamiliar with Divus. 
Clark calls his Latin crib a composite "non elegantem 
utique et venustam, sed ita Romanam, ut verbis verba." 
A good deal of Divus' venustas has departed. Clark's 
hyphenated compounds are, I think, no more Roman 
than are some of Divus' coinage; they may be a trifle 
more explanatory, but if we read a shade more of color 
into ci0e<r<aTos olvos than we can into multum vinum, 
it is not restored to us in Clark's copiosum vinum, nor 
does terra spatiosa improve upon terra lata, tbpvdtLw 
being (if anything more than lata) : "with wide ways or 
streets," the wide ways of the world, traversable, open 
to wanderers. The participles remain in Clark-Ernestus, 



344 INSTIGATIONS 

many of the coined words remain unchanged. Georgius 
Dartona gives, in the opening of the second hymn to 
Aphrodite : 

"Venerandam auream coronam habentem pulchram 

Venerem 

Canam, quae totius Cypri munimenta sortita est 
Maritimae ubi illam zephyri vis molliter spirantis 
Suscitavit per undam multisoni maris, 
Spuma in molli: hanc autem auricurae Horae 
Susceperunt hilariter, immortales autem vestes in- 

duere : 
Capite vero super immortali coronam bene construc- 

tam posuere 

Pulchram, auream: tribus autem ansis 
Donum orichalchi aurique honorabilis : 
Collum autem molle, ac pectora argentea 
Monilibus aureis ornabant . . ." etc. 

Ernestus, adding by himself the appendices to the Epics, 
gives us : 

"Venerandam auream coronam habentem pulchram 

Venerem 

Canam, quae totius Cypri munimenta sortita est 
Maritimae, ubi illam zephyri vis molliter spirantis 
Tulit per undam multisoni maris 
Spuma in molli: hanc autem auro comam religatae 

Horae 
Susceperunt hilariter, immortales autem vestes in- 

duere : 
Caput autem super immortale coronam bene construc- 

tam posuere 



TRANSLATORS OF GREEK 345 

Pulchram, auream, perforatis autem auriculis 
Donum orichalci preciosi : 
Collum autem molle ac pectora Candida * 
Monilibus aureis ornabant . . ." etc. 

"Which things since they are so" lead us to feel that 
we would have had no less respect for Messrs. Clarkius 
and Ernestus if they had deigned to mention the names 
of their predecessors. They have not done this in their 
prefaces, and if any mention is made of the sixteenth- 
century scholars, it is very effectually buried somewhere 
in the voluminous Latin notes, which I have not gone 
through in toto. Their edition (Glasgow, 1814) is, how- 
ever, most serviceable. 

TRANSLATION OF AESCHYLUS 

A SEARCH for Aeschylus in English is deadly, ac- 
cursed, mind-rending. Browning has "done" the Aga- 
memnon, or "done the Agamemnon in the eye" as the 
critic may choose to consider. He has written a modest 
and an apparently intelligent preface : 

"I should hardly look for an impossible transmission 
of the reputed magniloquence and sonority of the Greek ; 
and this with the less regret, inasmuch as there is abun- 
dant musicality elsewhere, but nowhere else than in his 
poem the ideas of the poet." 

He quotes Matthew Arnold on the Greeks: "their ex- 
pression is so excellent, because it is so simple and so 
well subordinated, because it draws its force directly 
from the pregnancy of the matter which it conveys . . . 
not a word wasted, not a sentiment capriciously thrown 
in, stroke on stroke." 

* Reading &pyv<f>toi<rii>, variant dpyvptounv, offered in footnote. 
In any case argentea is closer than Candida. 



346 INSTIGATIONS 

He is reasonable about the Greek spelling. He points 
out that yovov iScoi/ K.O,\\L<TTOV avdpuv sounds very poorly 
as "Seeing her son the fairest of men" but is out- 
shouted in "Remirando il figliuolo bellissimo degli 
uomini," and protests his fidelity to the meaning of 
Aeschylus. 

His weakness in this work is where it essentially lay 
in all of his expression, it rests in the term "ideas" 
"Thought" as Browning understood it "ideas" as the 
term is current, are poor two dimensional stuff, a scant, 
scratch covering. "Damn ideas, anyhow." An idea is 
only an imperfect induction from fact. 

The solid, the "last atom of force verging off into the 
first atom of matter" is the force, the emotion, the ob- 
jective sight of the poet. In the Agamemnon it is the 
whole rush of the action, the whole wildness of Kassan- 
dra's continual shrieking, the flash of the beacon fires 
burning unstinted wood, the outburst of 



Tpoiav 
or the later 

Tpoiav 'Axcuoi rrjd' exouo 1 ' kv 



"Troy is the greeks'." Even Rossetti has it better than 
Browning: "Troy's down, tall Troy's on fire," anything, 
literally anything that can be shouted, that can be 
shouted uncontrolledly and hysterically. "Troy is the 
Greeks' " is an ambiguity for the ear. "Know that our 
men are in Ilion." 

Anything but a stilted unsayable jargon. Yet with 
Browning we have 



TRANSLATORS OF GREEK 347 

"Troia the Achaioi hold," and later, 

"Troia do the Achaioi hold," followed by : 

"this same day 

I think a noise no mixture reigns i' the city 
Sour wine and unguent pour thou in one vessel 

And it does not end here. In fact it reaches the nadir of 
its bathos in a later speech of Klutaimnestra in the line 

"The perfect man his home perambulating!" 

We may add several exclamation points to the one which 
Mr. Browning has provided. But then all translation 
is a thankless, or is at least most apt to be a thankless 
and desolate undertaking. 

What Browning had not got into his sometimes ex- 
cellent top-knot was the patent, or what should be the 
patent fact that inversions of sentence order in an unin- 
flected language like English are not, simply and utterly 
are not any sort of equivalent for inversions and per- 
turbations of order in a language inflected as Greek 
and Latin are inflected. That is the chief source of his 
error. In these inflected languages order has other cur- 
rents than simple sequence of subject, predicate, object; 
and all sorts of departures from this Franco-English 
natural position are in Greek and Latin neither confus- 
ing nor delaying ; they may be both simple and emphatic, 
they do not obstruct one's apperception of the verbal 
relations. 

Obscurities not inherent in the matter, obscurities due 
not to the thing but to the wording, are a botch, and are 



348 INSTIGATIONS 

not worth preserving in a translation. The work lives 
not by them but despite them. 

Rossetti is in this matter sounder than Browning, 
when he says that the only thing worth bringing over is 
the beauty of the original; and despite Rossetti's pur- 
ple plush and molasses trimmings he meant by "beauty" 
something fairly near what we mean by the "emotional 
intensity" of his original. 

Obscurities inherent in the thing occur when the 
author is piercing, or trying to pierce into, uncharted 
regions; when he is trying to express things not yet 
current, not yet worn into phrase ; when he is ahead of 
the emotional, or philosophic sense (as a painter might 
be ahead of the color-sense) of his contemporaries. 

As for the word-sense and phrase-sense, we still hear 
workmen and peasants and metropolitan bus-riders re- 
peating the simplest sentences three and four times, 
back and forth between interlocutors: trying to get the 
sense "I sez to Bill, I'm goin' to 'Arrow" or some other 
such subtlety from one occiput into another. 

"You sez to Bill, etc." 

"Yus, I sez ... etc." 

"O !" 

The first day's search at the Museum reveals 
"Aeschylus" printed by Aldus in 1518; by Stephanus in 
1557, no English translation before 1777, a couple in the 
1820*5, more in the middle of the century, since 1880 
past counting, and no promising names in the list. 
Sophocles falls to Jebb and does not appear satisfactory. 

From which welter one returns thankfully to the 
Thomas Stanley Greek and Latin edition, with Saml. 
Butler's notes, Cambridge, "typis ac sumptibus acade- 
micis," 1811 once a guinea or half a guinea per vol- 
ume, half leather, but now mercifully, since people no 



TRANSLATORS OF GREEK 340 

longer read Latin, picked up at 2s. for the set (eight 
volumes in all), rather less than the price of their 
postage. Quartos in excellent type. 

Browning shows himself poet in such phrases as "dust, 
mud's thirsty brother," which is easy, perhaps, but is 
English, even Browning's own particular English, as 
"dust, of mud brother thirsty," would not be English 
at all ; and if I have been extremely harsh in dealing 
with the first passage quoted it is still undisputable that 
I have read Browning off and on for seventeen years 
with no small pleasure and admiration, and am one of 
the few people who know anything about his Sordello, 
and have never read his Agamemnon, have not even 
now when it falls into a special study been able to get 
through his Agamemnon. 

Take another test passage : 



Qvr6s kffiv Ayanenvuv, c/xos 
vKp6s 8k rycSe 8eias x*pfc 
"Epyov SiKalvas TCKTOVOS. TA5' w5 cx 

"Hicce est Agamemnon, maritus 
Meus, hac dextra mortuus, 
Facinus justae artificis. Haec ita se habent." 

We turn to Browning and find: 

" this man is Agamemnon, 

My husband, dead, the work of this right hand here, 
Aye, of a just artificer : so things are." 

To the infinite advantage of the Latin, and the com- 
plete explanation of why Browning's Aeschylus, to say 
nothing of forty other translations of Aeschylus, is un- 
readable. 



350 INSTIGATIONS 

Any bungling translation: 

"This is Agamemnon, 
My husband, 
Dead by this hand, 
And a good job. These, gentlemen, are the facts." 

No, that is extreme, but the point is that any natural 
wording, anything which keeps the mind off theatricals 
and on Klutaimnestra actual, dealing with an actual 
situation, and not pestering the reader with frills and 
festoons of language, is worth all the convoluted tush- 
ery that the Victorians can heap together. 

I can conceive no improvement on the Latin, it saves 
by dextra for 5etds x^pos, it loses a few letters in "se 
habent," but it has the same drive as the Greek. 

The Latin can be a whole commentary on the Greek, 
or at least it can give one the whole parsing and order, 
and let one proceed at a comforable rate with but the 
most rudimentary knowledge of the original language. 
And I do not think this a trifle; it would be an ill day 
if men again let the classics go by the board; we should 
fall into something worse than, or as bad as, the counter- 
reformation : a welter of gum-shoes, and cocoa, and 
Y. M. C. A. and Webbs, and social theorizing commit- 
tees, and the general hell of a groggy doctrinaire ob- 
fuscation; and the very disagreeablizing of the classics, 
every pedagogy which puts the masterwork further from 
us, either by obstructing the schoolboy, or breeding af- 
fectation in dilettante readers, works toward such a 
detestable end. I do not know that strict logic will 
cover all of the matter, or that I can formulate anything 
beyond a belief that we test a translation by the feel, 
and particularly by the feel of being in contact with 



TRANSLATORS OF GREEK 351 

the force of a great original, and it does not seem to 
me that one can open this Latin text of the Agamemnon 
without getting such sense of contact : 

"Mox sciemus lampadum luciferarum 498 

Signorumque per faces et ignis vices, 
An vere sint, an somniorum instar, 
Gratum veniens illud lumen eluserit animum nostrum. 
Praeconem hunc a littore video obumbratum 
Ramis olivae : testatur autem haec mihi f rater 
Luti socius aridus pulvis, 
Quod neque mutus, neque accendens facem 
Materiae montanae signa dabit per fumum ignis." 

or 

"Apollo, Apollo! 1095 

Agyieu Apollo mi ! 
Ah ! quo me tandem duxisti ? ad qualem domum ? 

"Heu, heu, ecce, ecce, cohibe a vacca 1134 

Taurum: vestibus involens 
Nigricornem machina 
Percutit; cadit vero in aquali vase. 
Insidiosi lebetis casum ut intelligas velim. 

Heu, heu, argutae lusciniae fatum mihi tribuis: 

"Heu nuptiae, nuptiae Paridis exitiales 1165 

Amicis! eheu Scamandri patria unda!" 

All this howling of Kassandra comes at one from the 
page, and the grimness also of the Iambics : 

"Ohime ! lethali intus percussus sum vulnere." 1352 
"Tace: quis clamat vulnus lethaliter vulneratus ?" 



$52 INSTIGATIONS 

"Ohime ! iterum secundo ictu sauciatus." 

"Patrari f acinus mihi videtur regis ex ejulatu. 1355 

"At tuta communicemus consilia." 

"Ego quidem vobis meam dico sententiam," etc. 

Here or in the opening of the play, or where you 
like in this Latin, we are at once in contact with the 
action, something real is going on, we are keen and 
curious on the instant, but I cannot get any such impact 
from any part of the Browning. 

"In bellum nuptam, 

Auctricem que contentionum, Helenam: 695 

Quippe quae congruenter 

Perditrix navium, perditrix virorum, perditrix urbium, 
E delicatis 

Thalami ornamentis navigavit 
Zephyri terrigenae aura. 
Et numerosi scutiferi, 
Venatores secundum vestigia, 
Remorum inapparentia 
Appulerunt ad Simoentis ripas 
Foliis abundantes 
Ob jurgium cruentum." 

"War-wed, author of strife, 
Fitly Helen, destroyer of ships, of men, 
Destroyer of cities, 
From delicate-curtained room 
Sped by land breezes. 

"Swift the shields on your track, 
Oars on the unseen traces, 
And leafy Simois 



TRANSLATORS OF GREEK 353 

Gone red with blood." * 

Contested Helen, 'A^ivtiKr/. 

"War-wed, contested, 

(Fitly) Helen, destroyer of ships; of men; 
Destroyer of cities, 

"From the delicate-curtained room 
Sped by land breezes. 

"Swift on the shields on your track, 
Oars on the unseen traces. 

"Red leaves in Simois!" 

"Rank flower of love, for Troy/' 

"Quippe leonem educavit . . . 726 

Mansuetum, pueris amabilem . . . 
. . . divinitus sacerdos Ates (i.e. Paris) 
In aedibus enutritus est. 

"Statim igitur venit 746 

Ad urbem Ilii, 
Ut ita dicam, animus 
Tranquillae serenitatis, placidum 
Divitiarum ornamentum 
Blandum oculourum telum, 

*"H. D.'s" translations from Euripides should be mentioned 
either here or in connection with "The New Poetry" ; she has 
obtained beautiful strophes for First Chorus of Iphigenia in 
Aulis, 1-4 and 9, and for the first of the second chorus. Else- 
where she retains certain needless locutions, and her versifica- 
tion permits too many dead stops in its current. 



354 INSTIGATIONS 

Animum pungens flos amoris 

(Helena) accubitura. Per fecit autem 

Nttptiarum acerbos exitus, 

Mala vicina, malaque socia, 

Irruens in Priamidas, 

Ductu Jovis Hospitalis, 

Erinnys luctuosa sponsis." 

It seems to me that English translators have gone wide 
in two ways, first in trying to keep every adjective, when 
obviously many adjectives in the original have only 
melodic value, secondly they have been deaved with syn- 
tax; have wasted time, involved their English, trying 
first to evolve a definite logical structure for the Greek 
and secondly to preserve it, and all its grammatical re- 
lations, in English. 

One might almost say that Aeschylus' Greek is agglu- 
tinative, that his general drive, especially in choruses, is 
merely to remind the audience of the events of the Tro- 
jan war; that syntax is subordinate, and duly subordi- 
nated, left out, that he is not austere, but often even ver- 
bose after a fashion (not Euripides' fashion). 

A reading version might omit various things which 
would be of true service only if the English were actually 
to be sung on a stage, or chanted to the movements of 
the choric dance or procession. 

Above suggestions should not be followed with intem- 
perance. But certainly more sense and less syntax (good 
or bad) in translations of Aeschylus might be a relief. 

Chor. Anapest: 

"O iniquam Helenam, una quae multas, 1464 

Multas admodum animas 

Perdidisti ad Trojam! 

Nunc vero nobilem memorabilem (Agam. animam), 






TRANSLATORS OF GREEK 355 

Deflorasti per caedem inexpiabilem. 
Tails erat tune in aedibus 
Eris viri domitrix aerumna." 

Clytemnestra : 

"Nequaquam mortis sortem exopta 147 

Hisce gravatus ; 

Neque in Helenam iram convertas, 

Tanquam viriperdam, ac si una multorum 

Virorum animas Graecorum perdens, 

Intolerabilem dolorem effecerit." 



Clytemnestra : 

"Mortem baud indignam arbitrar 1530 

Huic contigisse: 

Neqne enim ille insidiosam cladem 

Aedibus intulit; sed meum ex ipso 

Germen sublatum, multum defletam 

Iphigeniam cum indigne affecerit, 

Digna passus est, nihil in inferno 

Glorietur, gladio inflicta 

Morte luens quae prior perpetravit." 

"Death not unearned, nor yet a novelty in this house ; 
Let him make talk in hell concerning Iphigenia." 

(If we allow the last as ironic equivalent of the literal 
"let him not boast in hell.") 

"He gets but a thrust once given (by him) 
Back-pay, for Iphigenia." 

One can further condense the English but at the cost of 
obscurity. 



356 INSTIGATIONS 

Morshead is bearable in Clytemnestra's description of 
the beacons. 

"From Ida's top Hephaestos, Lord of fire, 
Sent forth his sign, and on, and ever on, 
Beacon to beacon sped the courier-flame 
From Ida to the crag, that Hermes loves 
On Lemnos ; thence into the steep sublime 
Of Athos, throne of Zeus, the broad blaze flared. 
Thence, raised aloft to shoot across the sea 
The moving light, rejoicing in its strength 
Sped from the pyre of pine, and urged its way, 
In golden glory, like some strange new sun, 
Onward and reached Macistus' watching heights." 




IX 

THE CHINESE WRITTEN CHARACTER 
AS A MEDIUM FOR POETRY 

BY ERNEST FENOLLOSA 

[This essay tvas practically finished by the late Ernest Fenol- 
losa; I have done little more than remove a few repetitions and 
shape a few sentences. 

We have here not a bare philological discussion, but a study of 
the fundamentals of all (esthetics. In his search through un- 
knozvn art Fenollosa, coming upon unknown motives and prin- 
ciples unrecognised in the West, was already led into many 
modes of thought since fruitful in "new" western painting and 
poetry. He zvas a forerunner zvithout knowing it and without 
being known as such. 

He discerned principles of writing -which he had scarcely time 
to put into practice. In Japan he restored, or greatly helped to 
restore, a respect for the native art. In America and Europe 
he cannot be looked upon as a mere searcher after exotics. 
His mind was constantly filled zvith parallels and comparisons 
between eastern and western art. To him the exotic was always 
a means of fructification. He looked to an American renais- 
sance. The vitality of his outlook can be judged from the fact 
that although this essay zvas written some time before his death 
in 1908 / have not had to change the allusions to western con- 
ditions. The later movements in art have corroborated his 
theories. EZRA POUND.] 

THIS twentieth century not only turns a new page in 
the book of the world, but opens another and a startling 
chapter. Vistas of strange futures unfold for man, of 
world-embracing cultures half weaned from Europe, of 
hitherto undreamed responsibilities for nations and races. 

357 



358 INSTIGATIONS 

The Chinese problem alone is so vast that no nation 
can afford to ignore it. We in America, especially, must 
face it across the Pacific, and master it or it will master 
us. And the only way to master it is to strive with pa- 
tient sympathy to understand the best, the most hopeful 
and the most human elements in it. 

It is unfortunate that England and America have so 
long ignored or mistaken the deeper problems of Ori- 
ental culture. We have misconceived the Chinese for 
a materialistic people, for a debased and worn-out race. 
We have belittled the Japanese as a nation of copyists. 
We have stupidly assumed that Chinese history affords 
no glimpse of change in social evolution, no salient epoch 
of moral and spiritual crisis. We have denied the es- 
sential humanity of these peoples ; and we have toyed 
with their ideals as if they were no better than comic 
songs in an "opera bouffe." 

The duty that faces us is not to batter down their forts 
or to exploit their markets, but to study and to come to 
sympathize with their humanity and their generous as- 
pirations. Their type of cultivation has been high. 
-VTheir harvest of recorded experience doubles our own. 
The Chinese have been idealists, and experimenters in 
the making of great principles ; their history opens a 
world of lofty aim and achievement, parallel to that of 
the ancient Mediterranean peoples. We need their best 
ideals to supplement our own ideals enshrined in their 
art, in their literature and in the tragedies of their lives. 
We have already seen proof of the vitality and practi- 
cal value of oriental painting for ourselves and as a key 
to the eastern soul. It may be worth while to approach 
their literature, the intensest part of it, their poetry, even 
in an imperfect manner. 



THK CHINESE WRITTKX CHARACTER 359 

I feel that I should perhaps apologize * for presuming 
to follow that series of brilliant scholars, Davis, Legge, 
St. Denys and Giles, who have treated the subject of 
Chinese poetry with a wealth of erudition to which I 
can proffer no claim. It is not as a professional linguist 
nor as a sinologue that I humbly put forward what I 
have to say. As an enthusiastic student of beauty in 
Oriental culture, having spent a large portion of my 
years in close relation with Orientals, I could not but 
breathe in something of the poetry incarnated in their 
lives. 

1 have been for the most part moved to my temerity 
by personal considerations. An unfortunate belief has 
spread both in England and in America that Chinese and 
Japanese poetry are hardly more than an amusement, 
trivial, childish, and not to be reckoned in the world's 
serious literary performance. I have heard well-known 
sinologues state that, save for the purposes of profes- 
sional linguistic scholarship, these branches of poetry are 
fields too barren to repay the toil necessary for their cul- 
tivation. 

Now my own impression has been so radically and di- 
ametrically opposed to such a conclusion, that a sheer en- 
thusiasm of generosity has driven me to wish to share 
with other Occidentals my newly discovered joy. Either 
I am pleasingly self -deceived in my positive delight, or 
else there must be some lack of aesthetic sympathy and 
of poetic feeling in the accepted methods of presenting 
the poetry of China. I submit my causes of joy. 

Failure or success in presenting any alien poetry in 
English must depend largely upon poetic workmanship 
in the chosen medium. It was perhaps too much to 

* I The apoloyy was unnecessary, but Professor Fenollosa saw 
fit to make it, and I therefore transcribe his words. E. P.] 



360 INSTIGATIONS 

expect that aged scholars who had spent their youth in 
gladiatorial combats with the refractory Chinese charac- 
ters should succeed also as poets. Even Greek verse 
might have fared equally ill had its purveyors been per- 
force content with provincial standards of English rhym- 
ing. Sinologues should remember that the purpose of 
poetical translation is the poetry, not the verbal defini- 
tions in dictionaries. 

One modest merit I may, perhaps, claim for my work : 
it represents for the first time a Japanese school of study 
in Chinese culture. Hitherto Europeans have been some- 
what at the mercy of contemporary Chinese scholarship. 
Several centuries ago China lost much of her creative 
self, and of her insight into the causes of her own life, 
but her original spirit still lives, grows, interprets, trans- 
ferred to Japan in all its original freshness. The Japa- 
nese to-day represent a stage of culture roughly Corre- 
sponding to that of China under the Sung dynasty. I 
have been fortunate in studying for many years as a pri- 
vate pupil under Professor Kainan MorJ^fcho is prob- 
Jf^\ ' ably the greatest living authority on Chinese poetry. He 
has recently been called to a chair in the Imperial Uni- 
versity of Tokio. 

My subject is poetry, not language, yet the roots of 
poetry are in language. In the study of a language so 
alien in form to ours as is Chinese in its written charac- 
ter, it is necessary to inquire how those universal ele- 
ments of form which cohstitute poetics can derive appro- 
priate nutriment. 

In what sense can verse, written in terms of visible 
hieroglyphics, be reckoned true poetry? It might seem 
that poetry, which like music is a time art, weaving its 
unities out of successive impressions of sound, could 



THE CHINESE WRITTEN CHARACTER 361 

with difficulty assimilate a verbal medium consisting^- 
largely of semi-pictorial appeals to the eye. 
Contrast, for example, Gray's line: 

The curfew tolls the knell of parting day 
with the Chinese line: 







Moon Rays Like Pure Snow 

Moon rays like pure snow. 

Unless the sound of the latter be given, what have they 
in common? It is not enough to adduce that each con- 
tains a certain body of prosaic meaning; for the ques- 
tion is, how can the Chinese line imply, as form ) the very 
element that distinguishes poetry from prose? 

On second glance, it is seen that the Chinese words, 
though visible, occur in just as necessary an order as 
the phonetic symbols of Gray. All that poetic form re- 
quires is a regular and flexible sequence, as plastic as 
thought itself. The characters may be seen and read, 
silently by the eye, one after the other: 

Moon rays like pure snow. 

Perhaps we do not always sufficiently consider that 
thought is successive, not through some accident or weak- 
ness ^FauFsuEjective operations but because the opera- 
tions of nature are successive. The transferences of 
force from agent to object which constitute natural phe- 
nomena, occupy time. Therefore, a reproduction of 
them in imagination requires the same temporal order.* 

* [Style, that is to say, limpidity, as opposed to rhetoric. 
E. P.] 



362 INSTIGATIONS 

Suppose that we look out of a window and watch a 
man. Suddenly he turns his head and actively fixes his 
attention upon something. We look ourselves and see 
that his vision has been focussed upon a horse. We saw, 
first, the man before he acted ; second, while he acted ; 
third, the object toward which his action was directed. 
In speech we split 'up the rapid continuity of this action 
and of its picture into % three essential parts or joints 
in the right order, and say : 

Man sees horse. 

It is clear that these three joints, or words, are only 
three phonetic symbols, which stand for the three terms 
of a natural process. But we could quite as easily. . 
note these three stages of our thought by symbols equally 
arbitrary, which had no basis in sound; for example, by 
three Chinese characters : 




JL 




Man Sees Horse 

If we all knew what division of this mental horse- 
picture each of these signs stood for, we could communi- 
cate continuous thought to one another as easily by draw- 
ing them as by speaking words. We habitually employ 
the visible language of gesture in much this same man- 
ner. 

But Chinese notation is something much more than 
arbitrary symbols. It is based upon a vivid shorthand 
picture of the operations of nature. In the algebraic 
figure and in the spoken wofd^tJierePis no natural con- 
nection between thing and sign : all depends upon sheer 



THE CHINESE WRITTEN CHARACTER 363 

convention. But the Chinese method follows natural 
suggestion. First stands the man on his two legs. Sec- 
ond, his eye moves through space: a bold figure repre- 
sented by running legs under an eye, a modified picture 
of an eye, a modified picture of running legs but unfor- 
gettable once you have seen it. Third stands the horse 
on his four legs. 

The thought picture is not orrry called up by these signs! 
as well as by words but far more vividly and concretely. 
Legs belong to all three characters : they are alive. The 
group holds something of the quality of a continuous 
movmg.4Hcjt.ure. 

The untruth of a painting or a photograph is that, in 
spite of its concreteness, it drops the element of natural 
succession. 

Contrast the Laocoon statue with Browning's lines : 

"I sprang to the saddle, and Jorris, and he 
And into the midnight we galloped abreast." 

One superiority of verbal poetry as an art rests in its 
getting back to the fundamental reality of time. Chinese 
poetry has the unique advantage of combining both ele- 
ments. It speaks at once with the vividness of painting, 
and with the mobility of sounds. It is, in some sense, 
more objective than either, more dramatic. In reading 
Chinese we do not seem to be juggling mental counters, 
but to be watching things work out their own fate. \ 

Leaving for a moment the form of the sentence, let 
us look more closely at this quality of vividness in the 
structure of detached Chinese words. The earlier forms 
of these characters were pictorial, and their hold upon 
the imagination is little shaken, even in later conventional 



364 INSTIGATIONS 

modifications. It is not so well known, perhaps, that 
the great number of these ideographic roots carry in 
them a verbal idea of action. It might be thought that a 
picture is naturally the picture of a thing, and that there- 
fore the root ideas of Chinese are what grammar calls 
nouns. 

But examination shows that a large number of the 
primitive Chinese characters, even the so-called radicals, 
are shorthand pictures of actions or processes. 

For example, the ideograph meaning "to speak" is a 
mouth with two words and a flame coming out of it. 
The sign meaning "to grow up with difficulty" is grass 
with a twisted root. But this concrete verb quality, both 
in nature and in the Chinese signs, becomes far more 
striking and poetic when we pass from such simple, orig- 
inal pictures to compounds. In this process of com- 
pounding, two things added together do not produce a 
third thing but suggest some fundamental relation be- 
tween them. For example, the ideograph for a "mess- 
mate" is a man and a fire. 

A true noun, an isolated thing, does not exist in na- 
1 v,, ture. Things are only the terminal points, or rather the 
meeting points of actions, cross-sections cut through ac- 
tions, snap-shots. Neither can a pure verb, an abstract 
motion, be possible in nature. The eye sees noun and 
verb as one: things in motion, motion in things, and so 
the Chinese conception tends to represent them. 

The sun underlying the bursting forth of plants = 
spring. 

The sun sign tangled in the branches of the tree sign 
east. 

"Rice-field" plus "struggle" = male. 

"Boat" plus "water," boat-water, a ripple. 

Let us return to the form of the sentence and see what 



THE CHINESE WRITTEN CHARACTER 365 

power it adds to the verbal units from which it builds. 
I wonder how many people have asked themselves why 
the sentence form exists at all, why it seems so univer- 
sally necessary in all languages? Why must all possess 
it, and what is the normal type of it? If it be so univer- 
sal it ought to correspond to some primary law of nature. 

I fancy the professional grammarians have given but 
a lame response to this inquiry. Their definitions fall 
into two types : one, that a sentence expresses a "com- 
plete thought"; the other, that in it we bring about a 
union of subject and predicate. 

The former has the advantage of trying for some nat- 
ural objective standard, since it is evident that a thought 
can not be the test of its own completeness. But in na- 
ture there is no completeness. On the one hand, prac- 
tical completeness may be expressed by a mere inter- 
jection, as "Hi! there!", or "Scat!", or even by shaking 
one's fist. No sentence is needed to make one's mean- 
ing more clear. On the other hand, no full sentence 
really completes a thought. The man who sees and the 
horse which is seen will not stand still. The man was 
planning a ride before he looked. The horse kicked 
when the man tried to catch him. The truth is that acts 
are successive, even continuous ; one causes or passes into 
another. And though we may string never so many 
clauses into a single compound sentence, motion leaks 

everywhere, like electricity from an exposed wire. All_ 

processes injiature are inter- related ; and thus there could 
rbe^jQO complete sentence (according to this definition) 
save one which it would take all time to pronounce. 

In the second definition of the sentence, as "uniting 
a subject and a predicate," the grammarian falls back on 
pure subjectivity. We do it all ; it is a little private jug- 
gling between our right and left hands. The subject is 



366 INSTIGATIONS 

that about which 7 am going to talk ; the predicate is that 
which I am going to say about it. The sentence accord- 
ing to this definition is not an attribute of nature but an 
accident of man as a conversational animal. 

If it were really so, then there could be no possible 
test of the truth of a sentence. Falsehood would be as 
specious as verity. Speech would carry no conviction. 

Of course this view of the grammarians springs from 
the discredited, or rather the useless, logic of the middle 
ages. According to this logic, thought deals with ab- 
i stractions, concepts drawn out of things by a sifting 
I process. These logicians never inquired how the "qual- 
jities" which they pulled out of things came to be there. 
? The truth of all their little checker-board juggling de- 
pended upon the natural order by which these powers or 
properties or qualities were folded in concrete things, 
yet they despised the "thing" as a mere "particular," or 
pawn. It was as if Botany should reason from the leaf- 
patterns woven into our table-cloths. Valid scientific 
thought consists in following as closely as may be the 
actual and entangled lines of forces as they pulse through 
things. Thought deals with no bloodless concepts but 
- watches things move under its microscope. 

The sentence form was forced upon primitive men by 
nature itself. It was not we who made it ; it was a re- 
flection of the temporal order in causation. All truth 
has to be expressed in sentences because all truth is the 
transference of power. The type of sentence in nature 
is a flash of lightning. It passes between two terms, a 
cloud and the earth. No unit of natural process can be 
less than this. All natural processes are, in their units, 
as much as this. Light, heat, gravity, chemical affinity, 
human will have this in common, that they redistribute 
force. Their unit of process can be represented as: 



THE CHINESE WRITTEN CHARACTER 367 

term transference term 

from of to 

which force which 

If we regard this transference as the conscious or un- 
conscious act of an agent we can translate the diagram 
into: 

agent act object 

In this the act is the very substance of the fact denoted. 
The agent and the object are only limiting terms. 

It seems to me that the normal and typical sentence 
in English as well as in Chinese expresses just this unit 
of natural process. It consists of three necessary words ; 
the first denoting the agent or subject from which the 
act starts ; the second embodying the very stroke of the 
act; the third pointing to the object, the receiver of the 
impact. Thus : 

Farmer pounds rice. 

The form of the Chinese transitive sentence, and of the 
English (omitting particles) exactly corresponds to this 
universal form of action in nature. This brings lan- 
guage close to things, and in its strong reliance upon 
verbs it erects all speech into a kind of dramatic poetry. ~ 

A different sentence order is frequent in inflected lan- 
guages like Latin, German or Japanese. This is because 
they are inflected, i.e., they have little tags and word-end- 
ings, or labels to show which is the agent, the object, etc. 
In uninflected languages, like English and Chinese, there \ 
is nothing but the order of the words to distinguish their 
functions. And this order would be no sufficient indi- 1 



368 INSTIGATIONS 

cation, were it not the natural order that is, the order 
of cause and effect. 

It is true that there are, in language, intransitive and 
passive forms, sentences built out of the verb "to be," 
and, finally, negative forms. To grammarians and logi- 
cians these have seemed more primitive than the transi- 
tive, or at least exceptions to the transitive. I had long 
suspected that these apparently exceptional forms had 
grown from the transitive or worn away from it by 
alteration or modification. This view is confirmed by 
Chinese examples, wherein it is still possible to watch the 
transformation going on. 

The intransitive form derives from the transitive by 
dropping a generalized, customary, reflexive or cognate 
object. "He runs (a race)/' "The sky reddens (it- 
self)." "We breathe (air)." Thus we get weak and 
incomplete sentences which suspend the picture and lead 
us to think of some verbs as denoting states rather than 
acts. Outside grammar the word "state" would hardly 
be recognized as scientific. Who can doubt that when 
we say, "The wall shines," we mean that it actively re- 
flects light to our eye ? 

The beauty of Chinese verbs is that they are all tran- 
sitive or intransitive at pleasure. There is no such 
thing as a naturally intransitive verb. The passive form 
is evidently a correlative sentence, which turns about and 
makes the object into a subject. That the object is not 
in itself passive, but contributes some positive force of 
its ow r n to the action, is in harmony both with scientific 
law and with ordinary experience. The English passive 
voice with "is" seemed at first an obstacle to this hy- 
pothesis, but one suspected that the true form was a gen- 
eralized transitive verb meaning something like "re- 



THE CHINESE WRITTEN CHARACTER 369 

ccive," which had degenerated into an auxiliary. It was 
a delight to find this the case in Chinese. 

In nature there are no negations, no possible, transfers 
of negative force. The presence of negative sentences 
in language would seem to corroborate the logicians' view 
that assertion is an arbitrary subjective act. We can 
assert a negation, though nature can not. But here 
again science comes to our aid against the logician: all 
apparently negative or disruptive movements bring into 
play other positive forces. It requires great effort to 
annihilate. Therefore we should suspect that, if we 
could follow back the history of all negative particles, we 
should find that they also are sprung from transitive 
verbs. It is too late to demonstrate such derivations in 
the Aryan languages, the clue has been lost, but in Chi- 
nese we can still watch positive verbal conceptions pass- 
ing over into so-called negatives. Thus in Chinese the 
sign meaning "to be lost in the forest" relates to a state 
of non-existence. English "not" the Sanskrit no,, 
which may come from the root na, to be lost, to perish. 

Lastly comes the infinitive which substitutes for a spe- 
cific colored verb the universal copula "is," followed by 
a noun or an adjective. We do not say a tree "greens 
itself," but "the tree is green ;" not that "monkeys bring 
forth live young," but, that "the monkey is a mammal." 
This is an ultimate weakness of language. It has come 
from generalizing all intransitive words into one. As 
"live," "see," "walk," "breathe," are generalized into 
states by dropping their objects, so these weak verbs -ire 
in turn reduced to the abstractest state of all, namely, 
bare existence. 

There is in reality no such verb as a pure copula, no 
such original conception, our very word exist means "to 
stand forth," to show oneself by a definite act. "Is" 



370 INSTIGATIONS 

comes from the Aryan root as, to breathe. "Be" is from 
bhUj to grow. 

In Chinese the chief verb for "is" not only means 
actively "to have," but shows by its derivation that it 
expresses something even more concrete, namely, "to 
snatch from the moon with the hand." Here the bald- 
est symbol of prosaic analysis is transformed by magic 
into a splendid flash of concrete poetry. 

I shall not have entered vainly into this long analysis 
of the sentence if I have succeeded in showing how po- 
etical is the Chinese form and how close to nature. In 
translating Chinese, verse especially, we must hold as 
closely as possible to the concrete force of the original, 
eschewing adjectives, nouns and intransitive forms 
wherever we can, and seeking instead strong and indi- 
vidual verbs. 

Lastly we notice that the likeness of form between 
Chinese and English sentences renders translation from 
one to the other exceptionally easy. The genius of the 
two is much the same. Frequently it is possible by 
omitting English particles to make a literal word-for- 
word translation which will be not only intelligible in 
English, but even the strongest and most poetical Eng- 
lish. Here, however, one must follow closely what is 
said, not merely what is abstractly meant. 

Let us go back from the Chinese sentence to the indi- 
vidual written word. How are such words to be classi- 
fied? Are some of them nouns by nature, some verbs 
and some adjectives? Are there pronouns and preposi- 
tions and conjunctions in Chinese as in good Christian 
languages ? 

One is led to suspect from an analysis of the Aryan 
languages that such differences are not natural, and that 
they have been unfortunately invented by grammarians 



THE CHINESE WRITTEN CHARACTER 371 

f , 

to confuse the simple poetic ^utlook on life. All nations 
have written their strongest and most vivid literature J)- / 
- Moreover, all Aryan 



etymology points back to roots which are the equivalents 
of simple Sanskrit verbs, such as we find tabulated at the 
back of our Skeat. Nature herself has no grammar.* 
Fancy picking up a mainland telling mm that he is a 
noun, a dead thing rather than a bundle of functions ! A 
"part of speech" is^ only 'what it does. Frequently our 
lines of cleavage fail, one part of speech acts for an- 
other. They act for one another because they were orig- 
inally one and the same. 

Few of us realize that in our own language these very 
differences once grew up in living articulation; that they 
still retain life. It is only when the difficulty of placing 
some odd term arises or when we are forced to translate 
into some very different language, that we attain for a 
moment the inner heat of thought, a heat which melts 
down the parts of speech to recast them at will. 

One of the most interesting facts about the Chinese 
language is that in it we can see, not only the forms of 
sentences, but literally the parts of speech growing up, 
budding forth one from another. Like nature, the Chinese 
words are alive and plastic, because thing and action are 
not formally separated. The Chinese language naturally 
knows no grammar. It is only lately that foreigners, 
European and Japanese, have begun to torture this vital 
speech by forcing it to fit the bed of their definitions. 

* Even Latin, living Latin had not the netwont of rules they 
foist upon unfortunate school-children. These are borrowed 
sometimes from Greek grammarians, even as I have seen Eng- 
lish grammars borrowing oblique cases from Latin grammars. 
Sometimes they sprang from the grammatizing or categorizing . 
passion of pedants. Living Latin had only the feel of the cases: 
the ablative and dative emotion. E. P. 



372 INSTIGATIONS 

We import into our reading of Chinese all the weakness 
of our own formalisms. This is especially sad in poetry, 
because the one necessity, even in our own poetry, is to 
keep words as flexible as possible, as full of the sap of 
nature. 

Let us go further with our example. In English we 
call "to shine" a verb in the infinitive, because it gives 
the abstract meaning of the verb without conditions. If 
we want "a corresponding adjective we take a di^efent 
word, "bright." If we need a noun we say "luminosity^" 
which is abstract, being derived from an Adjective.* To 
get a tolerably concrete noun, we have to leaVe behind the 
verb and adjective roots, and light Uff6n a thing arbi- 
trarily cutoff from its power of actio'n, say "the sun" or 
"the moon?' Of course there is nothing in nature so cut 
off, and therefore this nounizing is itself an abstraction. 
Even if wei did have a common word underlying at once 
the verb "$hine," the adjective "bright" and the noun 
"sun," we khould probably /call it an "infinitive of the 
infinitive." I According to our ideas, it should be some- 
thing extremely abstract, too intangible for use. 

The Chinese have one word, ming or mei. Its ideo- 
graph is the sign of the sun together with the sign of the 
moon. It/ serves as 'verb, noun, adjective. Thus you 
write literally, "the sun and moon of the cup" for "the 
cup's brightness." Placed as a verb, you write "the cup 
sun-knd-moons," actually "cup sun-and-moon," or in a 
weakened thought, "is like sun," i.e., shines. "Sun-and- 
moon cup" is naturally a bright cup. There is no pos- 
sible confusion of the real meaning, though a stupid 

* [A good writer would use "shine" (i. e., to shine), shining, 
and "the shine" or "sheen", possibly thinking of the German 
"schone' and Schonheit" ; but this does not invalidate Prof. 
Fenollosa's next contention. E. P.] 



THE CHINESE WRITTEN CHARACTER 373 

scholar may spend a week trying to decide what "part of 
speech" he should use in translating a very simple and 
direct thought from Chinese to English. 

The fact is that almost every written Chinese word is 
properly just such an underlying word, and yet it is not 
abstract. It is not exclusive of parts of speech, but com- 
prehensive ; not something which is neither a noun, verb, 
or adjective, but something which is all of them at once 
and at all times. Usage may incline the full meaning ; 
now a little more to one side, now to another, according , 
to the point of view, but through all cases the poet is j 
free to deal with it richly and concretely, as does nature.! 

In the derivation of nouns from verbs, the Chinese lan^~" 
guage is forestalled by the Aryan. Almost all the San- 
skrit roots, which seem to underlie European languages, 
are primitive verbs, which express characteristic actions 
of visible nature. The verb must be the primary fact of 
nature, since motion and change are all that we can rec- 
ognize in her. In the primitive transitive sentence, such 
as "Farmer pounds rice," the agent and the object are 
nouns only in so far as they limit a unit of action. / 
"Farmer" and "rice" are mere hard terms which define m 
the extremes of the pounding. But in themselves, apart ( 
from this sentence-function, they are naturally verbs. 
The farmer is one who tills the ground, and the rice is a 
plant which grows in a special way. This is indicated 
in the Chinese characters. And this probably exempli- 
fies the ordinary derivation of nouns from verbs. In all 
languages, Chinese included, a noun is originally "that 
which does something," that which performs the verbal 
action. Thus the moon comes from the root ma, and 
means ""the measurer." The sun means that which be- 
gets. 

The derivation of adjectives from the verb need hardly 



374 INSTIGATIONS 

be exemplified. Even with us, to-day, we can still watch 
participles passing over into adjectives. In Japanese the 
adjective is frankly part of the inflection of the verb, a 
special mood, so that every verb is also an adjective. 
This brings us close to nature, because everywhere the 
quality is only a power of action regarded as having an 
abstract inherence. Green is only a certain rapidity of 
vibration, hardness a degree of tenseness in cohering. 
In Chinese the adjective always retains a substratum of 
verbal meaning. We should try to render this in trans- 
lation, not be content with some bloodless adjectival ab- 
straction plus "is." 

Still more interesting are the Chinese "prepositions," 
they are often post-positions. Prepositions are so im- 
portant, so pivotal in European speech only because we 
have weakly yielded up the force of our intransitive 
verbs. We have to add small supernumerary words to 
bring back the original power. We still say "I see a 
horse," but with the weak verb "look," we have to add 
the directive particle "at" before we can restore the 
natural transitiveness.* 

Prepositions represent a few simple ways in which in- 
complete verbs complete themselves. Pointing toward 
nouns as a limit they bring force to bear upon them. 
That is to say, they are naturally verbs, of generalized 
or condensed use. In Aryan languages it is often diffi- 
cult to trace the verbal origins of simple prepositions. 
Only in "off" do we see a fragment of the thought "to 
throw off." In Chinese the preposition is frankly a 
verb, specially used in a generalized sense. These verbs 

* [This is a bad example. We can say "I look a fool", 
"look", transitive, now means resemble. The main contention 
is however correct. We tend to abandon specific words like 
resemble and substitute, for them, vague verbs with prepo- 
sitional directors, or riders. E. P.] 



THE CHINKS!-: WRITTEN CHARACTER 375 

are often used in their specially verbal sense, and it 
greatly weakens an English translation if they are sys- 
tematically rendered by colorless prepositions. 

Thus in Chinese : By = to cause ; to to fall toward ; 
in to remain, to dwell ; from to follow ; and so on. 

Conjunctions are similarly derivative, they usually 
serve to mediate actions between verbs, and therefore 
they are necessarily themselves actions. Thus in Chi- 
nese : Because = to use ; and to be included under one ; 
another form of "and" := to be parallel; or = to par- 
take ; if = to let one do, to permit. The same is true of 
a host of other particles, no longer traceable in the Aryan 
tongues. 

Pronouns appear a thorn in our evolution theory, since 
they have been taken as unanalyzable expressions of per- 
sonality. In Chinese even they yield up their striking 
secrets of verbal metaphor. They are a constant source 
of weakness if colorlessly translated. Take, for exam- 
ple, the five forms of "I." There is the sign of a "spear 
in the hand" = a very emphatic I ; five and a mouth = a 
weak and defensive I, holding off a crowd by speaking; 
to conceal = a selfish and private I; self (the cocoon 
sign) and a mouth = an egoistic I, one who takes pleas- j 
nre in his own speaking; the self presented is used only 
when one is speaking to one's self. 

I trust that this digression concerning parts of speech 
may have justified itself. It proves, first, the enormous 
interest of the Chinese language in throwing light upon 
our forgotten mental processes, and thus furnishes a new 
chapter in the philosophy of language. Secondly, it is 
indispensable for understanding the poetical raw mate- 
rial which the Chinese language affords. Poetry differs 
from prose in the concrete colors of its diction. It is 
not enough for it to furnish a meaning to philosophers. 



376 INSTIGATIONS 

It must appeal to emotions witii the charm of direct im- 
pression, flashing through regions where the intellect can 
only grope.* Poetry must render wiial_is. said, not what 
is merely meant. Abstract meaning gives little vividness, 
and fullness of imagination gives all. Chinese poetry 
demands that we abandon our narrow grammatical cate- 
gories, that we follow the original text with a wealth of 
concrete verbs. 

But this is Only the beginning of the matter. So far 
we have exhibited the Chinese characters and the Chinese 
sentence chiefly as vivid shorthand pictures of actions 
and processes in nature. These embody true poetry as 
far as they go. Such actions are szen. but Chinese would 
be a poor language and Chinese poetry but a narrow art, 
could they not go on to represent also what is unseen. 
The best poetry deals not only with natural images but 
with lofty thoughts, spiritual suggestions and obscure re- 
lations. The greater part of natural truth is hidden in 
processes top minute for vision and in harmonies too 
Targe, in vibrations, cohesions and in affinities. The Chi- 
nese compass these also, and with great power and beauty. 

You will ask, how could the Chinese have built up a 
great intellectual fabric from mere picture writing? To 
the ordinary western mind, which believes that thought 
is concerned with logical categories and which rather 
condemns the faculty of direct imagination, this feat 
seems quite impossible. Yet the Chinese language with 
its peculiar materials has passed over from the seen to 
the unseen by exactly the same process which all ancient 
races employed. This process is rfietaphor^_the Jj se f 
materiaHmages to suggest immaterial relations.! 

* [Cf. principle of Primary apparition, "Spirit of Romance". 
E. P.] 
t [Compare Aristotle's Poetics. E. P.] 



THE CHINESE WRITTEN CHARACTER 377 

The whole delicate substance of speech is built upon 
substrata of metaphor. Abstrac^terms, pressed by ety- 
mology, reveal their ancient roots still embedded in di- 
rect action. But the primitive metaphors do not spring 
from arbitrary subjective processes. They are possible 
only because they follow objective lines of relations in 
nature herself. Relations are more real and more im- 
portant than the things which they relate. The forces 
which produce the branch-angles of an oak lay potent in 
the acorn. Similar lines of resistance, half curbing the 
out-pressing vitalities, govern the branching of rivers and 
of nations. Thus a nerve, a wire, a roadway, and a 
clearing-house are only varying channels which commu- 
nication forces for itself. This is more than analogy, it 
is identity of structure. Nature furnishes her own clues. 
Had the world not been full of homologies, sympathies, 
and identities, thought would have been starved and 
language chained to the obvious. There would have been 
no bridge whereby to cross from the minor truth of the 
seen to the major truth of the unseen. Not more than a 
few hundred roots out of our large vocabularies could 
have dealt directly with physical processes. These we 
can fairly well identify in primitive Sanskrit. They are, 
almost without exception, vivid verbs. The wealth of 
European speech grew, following slowly the intricate 
maze of nature's suggestions and affinities. Metaphor 
was piled upon metaphor in quasi-geological strata. 

Metaphor, the revealer of nature, is the very substance 
of poetry. The known interprets the obscure, the uni- 
verse is alive with myth. The beauty and freedom of the 
observed world furnish a model, and life is pregnant 
with art. It is a mistake to. suppose, with some philos^ 
ophers of aesthetics, that art and poetry aim to deal with 
the general and the abstract. This misconception has 



378 INSTIGATIONS 

been foisted upon us by mediaeval logic. Art and poetry 
i deal with the concrete of nature, not with rows of sep- 

*%.**> * 

j arate "particulars," for such rows do not exist. Poetry 
is finer than prose because it gives us more concrete 
truth in the same compass of words. Metaphor, its chief 
device, is at once the substance of nature and of lan- 
guage. Poetry only does consciously * what the prim- 
itive races did unconsciously. The chief work of liter- 
ary men in dealing with language, and of poets especially, 
lies in feeling back along the ancient lines of advance.f 
He must do this so that he may keep his words enriched 
by all their subtle undertones of meaning. The original 
metaphors stand as a kind of luminous background, giv- 
ing color and vitality, forcing them closer to the concrete- 
ness of natural processes. Shakespeare everywhere 
teems with examples. For these reasons poetry was the 
earliest of the world arts ; poetry, language and the care 
of myth grew up together. 

I have alleged all this because it enables me to show 
clearly why I believe that the Chinese written language 
has not only absorbed the poetic substance of nature and 
built with it a second world of metaphor, but has, through 
its very pictorial visibility, been able to retain its original 
creative poetry with far more vigor and vividness than 
any phonetic tongue. Let us first see how near it is to 
the heart of nature in its metaphors. We can watch it 
passing from the seen to the unseen, as we saw it pass- 
* [Vide also an article on "Vorticism" in the Fortnightly Re- 
view for September, 1914. "The language of exploration" now 
in my "Gaudier-Brzeska." E. P.] 

t [I would submit in all humility that this applies in the 
rendering of ancient texts. The poet in dealing with his own 
time, must also see to it that language does not petrify on his 
hands. He must prepare for new advances along the lines of 
true metaphor that is interpretative metaphor, or image, as dia- 
metrically opposed to untrue, or ornamental metaphor. E. P.] 



THE CHINESE WRITTEN CHARACTER 379 

ing from verb to pronoun. It retains the primitive sap, 
it is not cut and dried like a walking-stick. We have 
been told that these people are cold, practical, mechani- 
cal, literal, and without a trace of imaginative genius. 
That is nonsense. 

Our ancestors built the accumulations of metaphor 
into structures of language and into systems of thought. 
Languages to-day are thin and cold because we think 
less and less into them. We are forced, for the sake of 
quickness and sharpness, to file down each word to its 
narrowest edge of meaning. Nature would seem to have 
become less like a paradise and more and more like a 
factory. We are content to accept the vulgar misuse of 
the moment. A late stage of decay is arrested and em- 
balmed in the dictionary. Only scholars and poets feel 
painfully back along the thread of our etymologies and 
piece together our diction, as best they may, from for- 
gotten fragments. This anemia of modern speech is 
only too well encouraged by the feeble cohesive force of 
our phonetic symbols. There is little or nothing in a 
phonetic word to exhibit the embryonic stages of its 
growth. It does not bear its metaphor on its face. We 
forget that personality once meant, not the soul, but the 
soul's mask. This is the sort of thing one can not pos- 
sibly forget in using the Chinese symbols. 

In this Chinese shows its advantage. Its etymology 
is constantly visible. It retains the creative impulse 
and process, visible and at work. After thousands of 
years the lines of metaphoric advance are still shown, 
and in many cases actually retained in the meaning. 
Thus a word, instead of growing gradually poorer and 
poorer as with us, becomes richer and still more rich j 
from age to age, almost consciously luminous. Its uses \ 
in national philosophy and history, in biography and in 



380 INSTIGATIONS 

poetry, throw about it a nimbus of meanings. These 
centre about the graphic symbol. The memory can hold 
them and use them. The very soil of Chinese life seems 
entangled in the roots of its speech. The manifold il- 
lustrations .which crowd its annals of personal experi- 
ence, the lines of tendency which converge upon a tragic 
climax, moral character as the very core of the principle 
all these are flashed at once on the mind as reinforc- 
ing values with an accumulation of meaning which a 
phonetic language can hardly hope to attain. Their ideo- 
graphs are like blood-stained battle flags to an old cam- 
paigner. With us, the poet is the only one for whom 
the accumulated treasures of the race-words are real and 
active. Poetic language is always vibrant with fold on 
fold of overtones, and with natural affinities, but in Chi- 
nese the visibility of the metaphor tends to raise this 
quality to its intensest power. 

I have mentioned the tyranny of mediaeval logic. Ac- 
cording to this European logic thought is a kind of brick- 
yard. It is baked into little hard units or concepts. 
These are piled in rows according to size and then labeled 
with words for future use. This use consists in picking 
out a few bricks, each by its convenient label, and stick- 
ing them together into a sort of wall called a sentence by 
the use either of white mortar for the positive copula 
"is," or of black mortar for the negative copula "is not." 
In this way we produce such admirable propositions as 
"A ring-tailed baboon is not a constitutional assembly." 

Let us consider a row of cherry trees. From each of 
these in turn we proceed to take an "abstract," as the 
phrase is, a certain common lump of qualities which we 
may express together by the name cherry or cherry-ness. 
Next we place in a second table several such character- 
istic concepts: cherry, rose, sunset, iron-rust, flamingo. 



THE CHINKSK WKITTKX CHARACTER 381 

From these we abstract some further common quality, 
dilutation or mediocrity, and label it "red" or "redness." 
It is evident that this process of abstraction may be car- 
ried on indefinitely and with all sorts of material. We 
may go on forever building pyramids of attenuated con- 
cept until we reach the apex "being." 

But we have done enough to illustrate the character- 
istic process. At the base of the pyramid lie things, but 
stunned, as it were. They can never know themselves 
for things until they pass up and down among the layers 
of the pyramids. The way of passing up and down the 
pyramid may be exemplified as follows : We take a con- 
cept of lower attenuation, such as "cherry" ; we see that 
it is contained under one higher, such as "redness." Then 
we are permitted to say in sentence form, "Cherryness is 
contained under redness," or for short, "(the) cherry is 
red." If, on the other hand, we do not find our chosen 
subject under a given predicate we use the black copula 
and say, for example, "(The) cherry is not liquid." 

From this point we might go on to the theory of the 
syllogism, but we refrain. It is enough to note that the 
practised logician finds it convenient to store his mind 
with long lists of nouns and adjectives, for these are nat- 
urally the names of classes. Most text-books on lan- 
guage begin with such lists. The study of verbs is 
meagre, for in such a system there is only one real work- 
ing verb, to-wit, the quasi-verb "is." All other verbs can 
be transformed into participles and gerunds. For ex- 
ample, "to run" practically becomes a case of "running." 
Instead of thinking directly, "The man runs," our logi- 
cian makes two subjective equations, namely: The indi- 
vidual in question is contained under the class "man"; 
and the class "man" is contained under the class of "run- 
ning things." 



382 INSTIGATIONS 

The sheer loss and weakness of this method is appar- 
ent and flagrant. Even in its own sphere it can not think 
half of what it wants to think. It has no way of bring- 
ing together any two concepts which do not happen to 
stand one under the other and in the same pyramid. It 
is impossible to represent change in this system or any 
kind of growth. This is probably why the conception 
of evolution came so late in Europe. It could not make 
way until it was prepared to destroy the inveterate logic 
of classification. 

Far worse than this, such logic can not deal with any 
kind of interaction or with any multiplicity of function. 
According to it, the function of my muscles is as isolated 
from the function of my nerves, as from an earthquake 
in the moon. For it the poor neglected things at the 
bases of the pyramids are only so many particulars or 
pawns. 

Science fought till she got at the things. All her work 
has been done from the base of the pyramids, not from 
the apex. She has discovered how functions cohere in 
things. She expresses her results in grouped sentences 
which embody no nouns or adjectives but verbs of spe- 
cial character. The true formula for thought is: The 
cherry tree is all that it does. Its correlated verbs com- r , 
pose it. At bottom these verbs are transitive. Such 
verbs may be almost infinite in number. 

In diction and in grammatical form science is utterly 
opposed to logic. Primitive men who created language 
agreed with science and not with logic. Logic has abused 
the language which they left to her mercy. Poetry 
agrees with science and not with logic. 

The moment we use the copula, the moment we express 
subjective inclusions, poetry evaporates. The more con- 
cretely and vividly we express the interactions of things 



THE CHINKSF. WRITTKN CHARACTER 383 

the better the poetry. We need in poetry thousands of 
active words, each doing its utmost to show forth the 
motive and vital forces. We can not exhibit the wealth 
of nature by mere summation, by the piling of sentences. 
Poetic thought works by suggestion, crowding maximum 
meaning into the single phrase pregnant, charged, and 
luminous from within. 

In Chinese character each work accumulated this sort 
of energy in itself. 

Should we pass formally to the study of Chinese 
poetry, we should warn ourselves against logicianized 
pitfalls. We should beware of modern narrow utilita- 
rian meanings ascribed to the words in commercial dic- 
tionaries. We should try to preserve the metaphoric 
overtones. We should beware of English grammar, its 
hard parts of speech, and its lazy satisfaction with nouns 
and adjectives. We should seek and at least bear in 
mind the verbal undertone of each noun. We should 
avoid "is" and bring in a wealth of neglected English 
verbs. Most of the existing translations violate all of 
these rules.* 

The development of the normal transitive sentence 
rests upon the fact that one action in nature promotes 
another ; thus the agent and the object are secretly verbs. 
For example, our sentence, "Reading promotes writing," 
would be expressed in Chinese by three full verbs. Such 
a form is the equivalent of three expanded clauses and 
can be drawn out into adjectival, participial, infinitive, 
relative or conditional members. One of many possible 
examples is, "If one reads it teaches him how to write." 
Another is, "One who reads becomes one who writes." 

* [These precautions should be broadly conceived. It is not 
so much their letter, as the underlying feeling of objectifica- 
tion and activity, that matters. E. P.] 



384 INSTIGATIONS 

But in the first condensed form a Chinese would write, 
"Read promote write." The dominance of the verb 
and its power to obliterate all other parts of speech give 
us the model of terse fine style. 

I have seldom seen our rhetoricians dwell on the fact 
that the great strength of our language lies in its splendid 
array of transitive verbs, drawn both from Anglo-Saxon 
and from Latin sources. These give us the most indi- 
vidual characterizations of force. Their power lies in 
their recognition of nature as a vast storehouse of forces. 
We do not say in English that things seem, or appear, or 
eventuate, or even that they are ; but that they do. Will 
is the foundation of our speech.* We catch the Demi- 
urge in the act. I had to discover for myself why 
Shakespeare's English was so immeasurably superior to 
all others. I found that it was his persistent, natural, 
and magnificent use of hundreds of transitive verbs. 
Rarely will you find an "is" in his sentences. "Is" 
weakly lends itself to the uses of our rhythm, in the un- 
accented syllables ; yet he sternly discards it. A study 
of Shakespeare's verbs should underlie all exercises in 
style. 

We find in poetical Chinese a wealth of transitive 
verbs, in some way greater even than in the English of 
Shakespeare. This springs from their power of combin- 
ing several pictorial elements in a single character. We 
have in English no verb for what two things, say the sun 
and moon, both do together. Prefixes and affixes merety 
direct and qualify. In Chinese the verb can be more 
minutely qualified. We find a hundred variants cluster- 
ing about a single idea. Thus "to sail a boat for pur- 
poses of pleasure" would be an entirely different verb 

* [Compare Dante's definition of "rectitude" as the direction 
of the will, probably taken from Aquinas. E. P.] 



THE CHINESE WRITTEN CHARACTER 385 

from "to sail for purposes of commerce." Dozens of 
Chinese verbs express various shades of grieving, yet in 
English translations they are usually reduced to one 
mediocrity. Many of them can be expressed only by 
periphrasis, but what right has the translator to neglect 
the overtones? There are subtle shadings. We should 
strain our resources in English. 

It is true that the pictorial clue of many Chinese ideo- 
graphs can not now be traced, and even Chinese lexicog- 
raphers admit that combinations frequently contribute 
only a phonetic value. But I find it incredible that any 
such minute subdivision of the idea could have ever ex- 
isted alone as abstract sound without the concrete char- 
acter. It contradicts the law of evolution. Complex 
ideas arise only gradually, as the power of holding them 
together arises. The paucity of Chinese sound could 
not so hold them. Neither is it conceivable that the 
whole list was made at once, as commercial codes of 
cipher are compiled. Therefore we must believe that 
the phonetic theory is in large part unsound. The meta- 
phor once existed in many cases where we can not now 
trace it. Many of our own etymologies have been lost. 
It is futile to take the ignorance of the Han dynasty for 
omniscience.* It is not true, as Legge said, that the 

* [Professor Fenollosa is well borne out by chance evidence. 
The vorticist sculptor Gaudier-Brzeska sat in my room be- 
fore he went off to the war. He was able to read the Chi- 
nese radicals and many compound signs almost at pleas- 
ure. He was of course, used to consider all life and na- 
ture in the terms of planes and of bounding lines. Neverthe- 
less he had spent only a fortnight in the museum studying the 
Chinese characters. He was amazed at the stupidity of lexi- 
cographers who could not discern for all their learning the 
pictorial values which were to him perfectly obvious and ap- 
parent. Curiously enough, a few weeks later Edmond Dulac, 
who is of a totally different tradition, sat here, giving an im- 



386 INSTIGATIONS 

original picture characters could never have gone far in 
building up abstract thought. This is a vital mistake. 
We have seen that our own languages have all sprung 
from a few hundred vivid phonetic verbs by figurative 
derivation. A fabric more vast could have been built 
up in Chinese by metaphorical composition. No attenu- 
ated idea exists which it might not have reached more 
vividly and more permanently than we could have been 
expected to reach with phonetic roots. Such a pictorial 
method, whether the Chinese exemplified it or not, would 
be the ideal language of the world. 

Still, is it not enough to show that Chinese poetry 
_gets back near to the processes of nature by means of 
its vivid figure, its wealth of such figure? If we attempt 
to follow it in English we must use words highly charged, 
words whose vital suggestion shall interplay as nature 
interplays. Sentences must be like the mingling of the 
fringes of feathered banners, or as the colors of many 
flowers blended into the single sheen of a meadow. 

The poet can never see too much or feel too much. 
His metaphors are only ways of getting rid of the dead 
white plaster of the copula. He resolves its indiffer- 
ence into a thousand tints of verb. His figures flood 
things with jets of various light, like the sudden up-blaze 
of fountains. The prehistoric poets who created lan- 
guage discovered the whole harmonious framework of 
nature, they sang out her processes in their hymns. And 

promptu panegyric on the elements of Chinese art, on the 
units of composition, drawn from the written characters. He 
did not use Professor Fenollosa's own words, he said ''bam- 
boo" instead of 'jrice". He said the essence of the bamboo 
is in a certain way it grows, they have this in their sign for 
bamboo, all designs of bamboo proceed from it. Then he went 
on rather to disparage vorticism, on the grounds that it could 
not hope to do for the Occident, in one life-time, what had 
required centuries of development in China. E. P.] 



THE niLNKSK WRITTKN CHARACTER 387 

this diffused poetry which they created, Shakespeare has 
condensed into a more tangible substance. Thus in all 
poetry a word is like a sun, with its corona and chro- 
mosphere; words crowd upon words, and enwrap each 
other in their luminous envelopes until sentences become 
clfcar, continuous light-bands. 

Now we are in condition to appreciate the full splen- 

'dor of certain lines of Chinese verse. Poetry surpasses 

prose especially in that the poet selects for juxtaposition 

those words whose overtones blend into a delicate and 

1 lucid harmony. All arts follow the same law; refined 

/ harmony lies in the delicate balance of overtones. In 

music the whole possibility and theory of harmony is 

based on the overtones. In this sense poetry seems a 

more difficult art. 

How shall we determine the metaphorical overtones of 
neighboring words? We can avoid flagrant breaches 
like mixed metaphor. We can find the concord or har- 
monizing at its intensest, as in Romeo's speech over the 
dead Juliet. 

Here also the Chinese ideography has its advantage, 
in even a simple line, for example, "The sun rises in the 
east/' 

The overtones vibrate against the eye. The wealth of 
composition in characters makes possible a choice of 
words in which a single dominant overtone colors every 
plane of meaning. That is perhaps the most conspicu- 
ous quality of Chinese poetry. Let us examine our line. 






Sun Rises (in the) East 



388 INSTIGATIONS 

The sun, the shining, on on-, side, on the other the sign 
of the east, which is the sun entangled in the branches 
of a tree. And in the middle sign, the verb "rise," we 
have further homology; the sun is above the horizon, 
but beyond that the single upright line is like the grow- 
ing trunk-line of the tree sign. This is but a beginning, 
but it points a way to the method, and to the method of 
intelligent reading. 



BINDING SECT. JAN 8 



1971 



PLEASE DO NOT REMOVE 
CARDS OR SLIPS FROM THIS POCKET 

UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO LIBRARY 



Found, Ezra Loomis 
771 Instigations 

P68