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n if f>t-t^/5l4ty^ . XT 

Call No. / Accession No. -v. 


This book should be returned on or before the date 
last marked below. / 



A selection from 
the prose and verse of 


Compiled and edited 


Fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge 

Author of 
'Arthur Quiller-Couch, a Biographical Study of Q' 


This book is copyright. It may not be 

reproduced whole or in part by any method 

without written permission. Application 

should be made to the publishers : 

Aldine House Bedford St. London 

Made in Great Britain 


The Temple Press Letdwortb Herts 
First puUisld 1948 


ARTHUR THOMAS QUILLER- COUCH, known to so many of 
his readers and friends simply as 'Q,' was born in 1863 at 
Bodmin, the county town of Cornwall. His mother was a 
Devonian, but his father was born at the fishing village of 
Polperro, on the south coast of Cornwall, where both the 
Quillers and the Couches had long been settled. The Quillers, 
it is true, were reputed to have come from France some five or 
six generations back, but the Couches bore a Cornish name and 
had probably lived in Cornwall from time immemorial. None 
of them can ever have loved their native county more than Q, 
whose books overflow with his devotion to the people, the life, 
the legends, and the scenery of Cornwall. 

Q had a proper affection for his father, who was a doctor, and 
for the memory of his paternal grandfather (also a doctor) 
whom he remembered meeting only once. He pays warm 
tributes to both of them, and to their professional work, in his 
books. His conversation in private life nevertheless showed 
that he shared Napoleon's mistrust of the medical profession as 
a whole. This mistrust was perhaps a piece of atavism, for 
most of Q's ancestors before his grandfather's time had been 
hardy seafarers men who probably scorned the learned pro- 
fessions in general, who seldom needed the services of a doctor 
or, if they needed them, were seldom able to get them. 

Q resembled these remoter ancestors also in the great interest 
that he took in the sea, in seamen, and in shipping of every kind. 
This interest went very deep and was life-long. It was in fact 
a passion and, as a consequence, there are very few of his 
numerous books from which the sea is completely absent, what- 
ever their subject or wherever their scene is laid. He possessed 
the rugged, weather-beaten features of a seafaring man and 
shared in some of the superstitions of the old type of sailor. 

vi Introduction 

He found, too, when the test came, that he could not live 
happily for long out of sight of the sea. 

When Q was only ten years old he was sent away to school 
at Newton Abbot in Devon, where his mother's parents lived, 
but he spent his holidays at home, and during them he explored 
the country around Bodmin thoroughly. It was on one of 
these schoolboy expeditions that he first visited the charming 
little port of Fowey the place that was to inspire so much of 
his writing and from which his name will always be inseparable. 
He was entranced by Fowey as soon as he saw it and resolved 
that, if he could, he would live in it. He was only fifteen at 
the time; but his boyish delight in the town, far from proving 
to be merely a passing fancy, developed into a devotion that 
became more and more intense as he grew older. 

From Newton Abbot Q went on to Clifton College, Bristol, 
for further schooling, and here he gained his first literary success 
by winning the school prize for a poem about Athens. This 
was afterwards privately printed by his parents his first pub- 
lished work. He left Clifton in 1882 for Trinity College, 
Oxford, where he had been awarded a scholarship. 

The love of Greek and Latin letters that he had acquired in 
his schooldays was inevitably strengthened by his five years at 
Oxford, where he took his degree in classics and stayed for a 
further year as lecturer in classics at his college. After he left 
Oxford he had no further occasion to study the classics sys- 
tematically, but he never lost his love for them and they exerted 
steady influence on him for the rest of his life. One might 
say that his classical education was to a great extent responsible 
for the clarity, conciseness, and common sense for which his 
English style became famous. 

At Clifton, Q had edited the school magazine; at Oxford, 
while still in his early twenties, he wrote his first novel. Dead 
Man's Rocky which was very manifestly in the style of 
R. L. Stevenson. He also wrote regularly for the newly 
founded Oxford Magazine, contributing to it parodies and other 

Introduction vii 

poems that still give him a high place among English writers of 
light verse. It was also to The Oxford Magazine that he con- 
tributed, several years after he had left the university, his 
beautiful poem, Alma Mater probably the best known of all 
his poems. In it he expressed, in haunting language, his life- 
long devotion to Oxford, 'mother and mistress and queen and 
yet not three goddesses but one goddess,' as he called the city 
many years later. 

In 1887 Q left Oxford for London, where he lived until 1892, 
working partly as a free-lance journalist, but most of the time 
for a firm of publishers. During these five years he wrote 
three more novels and several other books, and from 1890 he 
was assistant editor of a new Liberal weekly paper, The Speaker, 
to which he contributed a short story every week and literary 
articles and reviews frequently. He was working all day and 
half the night in an attempt to make his name as a writer, and also 
in a gallant and ultimately successful effort to wipe out some 
family debts for which he was not responsible and which he 
had no obligation to pay. All the time, too, he was supporting 
his widowed mother and his two brothers; and from 1889 he 
also had a wife to support, and from 1890 a son as well. 

It is not surprising, therefore, that his health broke down and 
that he left London in 1892, under medical advice, to live by the 
sea. Fowey, the 'Troy Town* of his novels and short stories, 
which he had frequently revisited and from which his wife 
came, was his obvious choice. There, in a white-painted house 
called 'The Haven/ with its narrow steep garden washed by the 
water of the harbour, and with a view of the open sea from his 
study window, he lived in great happiness until his death more 
than fifty years later. He had to work hard, but with a wife 
who was devoted to him and to whom he was equally devoted 
he was unafraid of the future. In a poem addressed to her 
he wrote : 

dear my wife, be blithe 

To bid the New Year hail. . . . 

viii Introduction 

For though the snows he '11 shake 

Of winter from his head, 
To settle, flake by flake, 

On ours instead, 

Yet we be wreathed green 

Beyond his blight or chill 
Who kissed at seventeen 

And worship still. 

Except that he continued for a few years to write short stories 
and articles for The Speaker, Q earned his living during his first 
twenty years at Fowey entirely as a free-lance writer. His 
output consequently had to be considerable and was in fact 
amazing, amounting as it did to two books every year on the 
average. More than half of this was fiction, but he was also 
writing serious verse, light verse (such as the delightful Ballad 
of the Jubilee Cup\ and literary studies, and was compiling 
anthologies. The best of these the most successful anthology 
in our language was The Oxford Book of English Verse, which 
made his name familiar wherever the English language was 
spoken or English literature studied. 

All this time Q was taking an ever-increasing part in Cornish 
public affairs, particularly in education and politics. His ex- 
periences as a member of the county education committee are 
reflected in his novels (especially Shining Ferry) and other 
writings, and his political activities appear sporadically in his 
stories and sketches. An Anglican and yet a Liberal, he held 
very definite opinions both ecclesiastically and politically and 
made no attempt to conceal them. Yet, though this was a time 
when religious and political feeling ran very high, his integrity 
was such that he became a very popular figure an institution 
in himself. The Dutch novelist, Maarten Maartens, who paid 
him a visit in 1904, described him to a friend as 'King of Fowey 
in a quiet way* ; and when W. H. Hudson went to Fowey some 
years later and received a letter from his wife saying that she 

Introduction ix 

had been told that Q lived there he wrote to a friend : 'I replied 
to her that she had sent me wonderful news, that I had been 
hearing that Quiller-Couch lived at Fowey all my life and that 
in Cornwall you heard it every day/ It was like a sea-shanty, 
he said, or the chorus of John Brown's Body: 

Glory glory halleluja, 
Glory glory halleluja, 
Glory glory halleluja, 

Quiller-Couch lives at Fowey. 

Q's services to literature, coupled with his public and political 
services and his outstanding character, brought him recognition 
from the Liberal Government in 1910, when (to his great sur- 
prise) he was knighted. He had never been a blind partisan of 
the Liberal party, neither did his knighthood make him one. 
On the contrary, only two years later he openly attacked the 
Liberal Government's Mental Deficiency Bill in the columns of 
The Eye- Witness, comparing the minister responsible for the 
introduction of the Bill to a strumpet. His attack was written 
at white heat, and was all the more effective from being one of 
the very few examples of satire to be found in the whole of 
his works. 

Nor was Q ever a blind partisan of the Church of England. 
It is beyond all doubt that he strongly disliked Nonconformity 
his private letters would make that abundantly clear, even if 
there were no other evidence yet some of his closest friends 
were ardent Nonconformists; and in his Eye- Witness articles he 
makes an outspoken and sustained attack on a bishop of the 
Church of England his former Oxford tutor for siding with 
the Liberal Government's Bill. He puts to the bishop the 
direct question: 'Do you still press me to join your damned 
Association?' and immediately signs himself 'Your lordship's 
obedient servant (but not in this).' 

A few weeks after these attacks appeared in print the Liberal 
Government showed its magnanimity by appointing Q again, 

x Introduction 

greatly to his surprise to the King Edward VII Professorship 
of English Literature in the University of Cambridge. He was 
almost simultaneously elected a fellow of Jesus College, and 
from then onward he lived during term in his rooms at college, 
but always returned to his beloved Fowey at the earliest possible 
moment for each vacation. 

From the first, Q was as popular and as prominent at Cam- 
bridge as he had long been in Cornwall. His inaugural lecture 
was packed to the doors and beyond. Like all his subsequent 
lectures, it was prepared and delivered with the greatest care. His 
lectures were such works of art, and were so stimulating and 
so entertaining, that attendance at them was for years a fashion- 
able pursuit among people of all ages at Cambridge somewhat 
to Q's embarrassment at times. 

His publications, though inevitably less numerous than they 
had been, continued to appear at the rate of a volume or more 
each year. He had little time now for the writing of fiction, 
and after 1918 he published no more novels or volumes of short 
stories : his most important books during the Cambridge period 
were collections of lectures, published under such titles as The 
Art of Writing, The Art of Reading, and Studies in Literature. 
In all of them, as Mr. George Sampson has said, 'literature is 
consistently presented, with convincing enthusiasm and creative 
understanding, as something for hearty, rational, disciplined 
enjoyment by normal human beings/ 

Perhaps the best known of all Q's lectures is the entertaining 
Interlude on Jargon, which appeared in the earliest volume. It 
should be studied by everybody who intends to write. One 
lecture that deserves to be better known than it is was delivered 
twenty years later, when Q was seventy years of age, and is 
entitled Tradition and Orthodoxy. It is the reply of a life- 
long Liberal to an attack on Liberalism by a convert to Toryism 
Mr. T. S. Eliot. In style it reminds one of Q's open letters 
to the Bishop of Exeter in The Eye-Witness more than twenty 
years earlier. A writer who is himself an admirer of Mr. 

Introduction xi 

Eliot has described it as *a superb example of the magisterial 

After that Q wrote no new books, apart from his unfinished 
Memories and Opinions, but he wrote a number of charming 
introductions to books by younger writers, a few more short 
stories and poems, and compiled a new edition of The Oxford 
Book of English Verse. Honours came to him in his old age. 
In three consecutive years he was made a freeman of Bodmin, of 
Fowey, and of Truro, and what probably gave him even more 
pleasure in 1937 he was elected mayor of Fowey. Being a 
life-long optimist, full of confidence in the younger generation, 
he accepted the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 
philosophically, having no doubt about ultimate victory. Un- 
perturbed by air raids, he continued to travel backwards and 
forwards between Cambridge and Fowey as he had done ever 
since 1912. He kept his eightieth birthday at Fowey in 1943, 
and (as he would have wished) it was at Fowey that he died on 
1 2th May in the following year, and at Fowey that he was buried. 

Q was one of the most versatile as well as one of the most 
prolific of modern writers. He produced more than twenty 
novels, a dozen volumes of short stories, another dozen of 
literary studies, half a dozen books for children, two volumes 
of original verse, a number of anthologies, and a large quantity 
of miscellaneous prose, including some dozens of introductions 
to books by other writers or to his own selections from English 

What is even more remarkable than the quantity or the range 
of his writing is the high standard that he maintained through 
all of it. This was partly due to his natural gifts, but even 
more to the severe discipline to which he subjected himself 
whenever he wrote whether he was writing a novel, a uni- 
versity lecture, a parody, a translation from the classics, or a 
limerick. As in his dress and his daily routine, so in his writing 
he was thorough in every detail. His chief contribution to 
English letters was his style, in which there lives again the 

xii Introduction 

chivalrous, hospitable Q who loved bright colours, dressed 
with great care, was accurate but not pedantic, and refused 
ever to be hurried. 


This anthology aims at providing as representative a selec- 
tion from Q's writing as is possible in the compass. Since each 
item is given unabbreviated, it is obvious that no novel could 
be included. 

The items are arranged in the order in which they were first 
published, as nearly as it can be ascertained. Some of them 
have previously appeared only in periodicals or in other 
publications equally difficult to obtain. 



Memories and Opinions, an Unfinished Autobiography, 1944. 


Adventures in Criticism, 1896; From a Cornish Window, 1906; 
Poetry, 1914; On the Art of Writing, 1916; Shakespeare's Work- 
manship, 1918; Studies in Literature (First Series), 1918; On 
the Art of Reading, 1920; Introductions to Shakespeare's 
Comedies in the New Cambridge Edition, 14 vols., 1921-31; 
Studies in Literature (Second Series), 1922; Charles Dickens and 
Other Victorians, 1925; The Age of Chaucer, 1926; A Lecture 
on Lectures, 1927; Studies in Literature (Third Series), 1929; 
The Poet as Citizen, and Other Papers, 1934. 


Dead Mans Rock, 1887; Troy Town, 1888; The Splendid 
Spur, 1889; The Blue Pavilions, 1891; la, 1896; The Ship of 
Stars, 1899; The Westcotes, 1902; The Adventures of Harry 

Introduction xiii 

Revel, 1903; Hetty Wesley, 1903; Fort Amity, 1904; Shining 
Ferry, 1905; Sir John Constantine, 1906; The Mayor of Troy, 
1906; Poison Island, 1907; Major Vigour eux, 1907; 7n/<? 7YA/0, 
1909; Za</y Good-for-Nothing, 1910; Brother Copas, 1911; 
Hocken and Hunken, 1912; Nicky-Nan, Reservist, 1915; -Foe- 
Farrell, 1918. 


Noughts and Crosses, 1891; 7 vSW JXree Ships, 1892; jTA e 
Delectable Duchy, 1893 ; Wandering Heath, 1895 ; Old Fires and 
Profitable Ghosts, 1900; JXe Laird's Luck, 1901; 7/ta White 
Wolf, 1902 ; 7V0 vS/W&y of the Face, 1903 ; Shakespeare's Christmas, 
1905; Merry Garden, 1907; Corporal Sam, 1910; News from 
the Duchy, 1913; Mortallone and Aunt Trinidad, 1917. 


7a/w -for and Near Retold, 1895 ; 7%<? Sleeping Beauty 
and other Fairy Tales Retold, 1910; 77ze /?o// Ca// of Honour, 
1912; 7rt Powder and Crinoline : Old Fairy Tales Retold, 1913. 


Warwickshire Avon, 1892; ^ 7?/0r of Ink (translated from 
the French of Rene* Bazin by Q and P. M. Francke), 1892; 
Historical Tales from Shakespeare, 1 899 ; Memoir of Arthur 
John Butler, 1917. 


Gree/z Azyj, x ^93; Poems and Ballads, 1896; 7Xe Vigil oj 
Venus and Other Poems, 1912; Poems (a new edition of Poems 
and Ballads, together with the whole of The Vigil of Venus 
and other items), 1929; Green Bays (new and enlarged edition), 

xiv Introduction 


The Golden Pomp, 1895; English Sonnets, 1897; The Oxford 
Book of English Verse (i25o-i$oo), 1900; The Pilgrim s Way^ 
1906; The Oxford Book of Ballads, 1910; The Oxford Book of 
Victorian Verse, 1912; The Oxford Book of English Prose, 1925 ; 
Pages of English Prose, 1930; Felicities of Thomas Traherne, 
1934; English Sonnets (new and enlarged edition), 1935; The 
Oxford Book of English Verse (new edition, 1250-1918), 1939. 


This selection from the works of Sir Arthur Quiller- Couch 
is reprinted by kind permission of his literary executors and of 
the following publishers and editors: 

J. W. Arrowsmith (London) Ltd.; Blackie & Son Ltd.; 
The Cambridge Review, The Cambridge University Press; 
Cassell & Co. Ltd.; The Clarendon Press; Hutchinson & 
Co. (Publishers) Ltd.; The Oxford Magazine; The Oxford 
University Press; The Spectator", Time and Tide; The Times; 
The Times Literary Supplement; G. P. Putnam's Sons of New 
York ; and Charles Scribner's Sons of New York. 






from The Oxford Magazine, 2nd December 1885 I 


from The Oxford Magazine, ist June 1887 3 


from The Oxford Magazine, 7th December 1887 6 


from The Splendid Spur, 1889 7 


from Noughts and Crosses, 1891 8 


from Noughts and Crosses, 1891 n 


from Green Bays, 1893 18 


with music by Charles Villiers Stanford, 1893 19 


from The Delectable Duchy, 1893 22 


March 1894 31 


from Wandering Heath, 1895 33 

xvi Contents 



from The Oxford Magazine, nth November 1896 54 


from Poems and Ballads, 1896 56 


from Poems and Ballads, 1896 58 


from Poems and Ballads, 1896 60 


from Poems and Ballads, 1896 63 


from The Pall Mall Magazine, April 1897 64 


from The Pall Mall Magazine, July 1898 71 


from The Pall Mall Magazine, August 1898 73 


from The Pall Mall Magazine, December 1898 79 


from A Fowey Garland, 1899 90 


from Old Fires and Profitable Ghosts, 1900 92 


from Two Sides of the Face, 1903 no 


Introduction to The Poems of Matthew Arnold ('World's 

Classics' Edition), 1906 141 

Contents xvii 



from The Western Dally Mercury, 8th May 1907 154 


Introduction to The Poems of Coleridge : a Selection (' World's 

Classics' Edition), 1907 156 


Introduction to Kinglake's Eothen ('Red Letter Library* 

Edition), 1907 172 


from The Eye Witness, ist, 8th, and I5th August, 1912 178 


from The Vigil of Venus and Other Poems, 1912 19) 


Introduction to Parodies and Imitations Old and New, edited by 

J. A. S. Adam and B. C. White, 1912 194 


delivered at Cambridge on 29th January 1913 203 


from News from the Duchy, 1913 218 


delivered at Cambridge on ist May 1913 230 


from News from the Duchy, 1913 247 


from The Cambridge Review, 4th June 1913 261 


from News from, the Duchy, 1913 267 


from The Cambridge Review, loth June 1914 278 

xviii Contents 



from The Cambridge Review, 24th February 1915 280 


Introduction to The Tempest, 1921, in The New Cambridge Edition 
of the Works of Shakespeare 285 


delivered on 9th May 1925 295 

given at the 27th Annual Dinner of the Edinburgh Sir Walter 
Scott Club, 26th November 1926 301 


Preface to The White Wolf and Other Fireside Tales (Duchy 
Edition), 1928 311 


from Studies in Literature, 3rd Series, 1929 313 


from The Spectator, 23rd November 1934 333 


delivered at Cambridge on i6th May 1934 334 


from Time and Tide, 23rd February 1935 352 


from The Times Literary Supplement, I5th August 1935 361 


from The Spectator, ist May 1936 370 


from The Cambridge Review, 27th November 1936 371 

Contents xix 



from The Cambridge Review, loth June 1936 373 


from The Times, 24th December 1937 374 


from The Times, ist June 1940 398 


Introduction to Byron, Poetry and Prose, edited by D. Nichol 
Smith, 1940 399 


from Chanticlere, Michaelmas Term 1941 406 


from Chanticlere, Lent Term 1942 407 


from The Cambridge Review, 3ist October 1942 408 


from The Times Literary Supplement, 3Oth September 1944 409 

NOTES 417 

INDEX 42 r 


BY W. W. 

BEHOLD! I am not one that goes to Lectures or the pow- 
wow of Professors. 

The elementary laws never apologize : neither do I apologize. 
I find letters from the Dean dropt on my table and every one 

is signed by the Dean's name 
And I leave them where they are; for I know that as long 

as I stay up 
Others will punctually come for ever and ever. 

I am one who goes to the river, 
I sit in the boat and think of 'life' and of 'time.' 
How life is much, but time is more; and the beginning is 


But the end is something. 
I loll in the Parks, I go to the wicket, I swipe. 
I see twenty-two young men from Foster's watching me, and 

the trousers of the twenty-two young men, 
I see the Balliol men en masse watching me. The Hottentot 
that loves his mother, the untutored Bedowee, the 
Cave-man that wears only his certificate of baptism, 
and the shaggy Sioux that hangs his testamur with 
his scalps. 

I see the Don who ploughed me in Rudiments watching me: 
and the wife of the Don who ploughed me in 
Rudiments watching me. 
I see the rapport of the wicket-keeper and umpire. 

I cannot see that I am out. 
Oh! you Umpires! 

2 Behold ! 1 am not one that goes to Lectures 

I am not one who greatly cares for experience, soap, bull-dogs, 

cautions, majorities, or a graduated Income Tax, 
The certainty of space, punctuation, sexes, institutions, copious- 
ness, degrees, committees, delicatesse, or the fetters 
of rhyme 

For none of these do I care : but least for the fetters of rhyme. 
Myself only I sing. Me Imperturbe! Me Prononc! 
Me progressive and the depth of me progressive, 
And the j8a0os, Anglice bathos 
Of me hirsute, nakedly whooping, 
Me over the tiles to the Cosmos endlessly whooping 
The song of Simple Enumeration. 



Written on the occasion of t/ie visit of the United Fire 
Brigades to Oxford, 

ST. GILES'S street is fair and wide, 
St. Giles's street is long; 
But long or wide, may naught abide 

Therein of guile or wrong; 
For through St. Giles's, to and fro, 
The mild ecclesiastics go 

From prime to evensong. 
It were a fearsome task, perdue! 
To sin in such good company. 


Long had the slanting beam of day 
Proclaimed the Thirtieth of May 
Ere now, erect, its fiery heat 
Illumined all that hallowed street, 
And breathing benediction on 
Thy serried battlements, St. John, 
Suffused at once with equal glow 
The cluster 'd Archipelago, 
The Art Professor's studio 

And Mr. Greenwood's shop, 
Thy building, Pusey, where below 
The stout Salvation soldiers blow 

The cornet till they drop ; 
Thine, Balliol, where we move, and oh! 

Thine, Randolph, -where we stop. 



But what is this that frights the air, 
And wakes the curate from his lair 

In Pusey's cool retreat, 
To leave the feast, to climb the stair, 

And scan the startled street? 
As when perambulate the young 
And call with unrelenting tongue 

On home, mamma, and sire; 
Or voters shout with strength of lung 

For Hall & Co.'s Entire; 
Or Sabbath-breakers scream and shout 
The band of Booth, with drum devout, 
Eliza on her Sunday out, 

Or Farmer with his choir : 


E'en so, with shriek of fife and drum 

And horrid clang of brass, 
The Fire Brigades of England come 

And down St. Giles's pass. 
Oh grand, methinks, in such array 
To spend a Whitsun Holiday 

All soaking to the skin! 
(Yet shoes and hose alike are stout; 
The shoes to keep the water out, 

The hose to keep it in.) 

They came from Henley on the Thames, 

From Berwick on the Tweed, 
And at the mercy of the flames 
They left their children and their dames, 

Fire / 5 

To come and play their little games 

On Morrell's dewy mead. 
Yet feared they not with fire to play 
The pyrotechnics (so they say) 

Were very fine indeed. 



Then let us bless Our Gracious Queen and eke the Fire Brigade, 
And bless no less the horrid mess they 've been and gone and 


Remove the dirt they chose to squirt upon our best attire, 
Bless all, but most the lucky chance that no one shouted 'Fire!' 



>r Tp!S evening. See with its resorting throng 
JL Rude Carfax teems, and waistcoats, visited 
With too-familiar elbow, swell the curse 
Vortiginous. The boating man returns, 
His rawness growing with experience 
Strange union! and directs the optic glass 
Not unresponsive to Jemima's charms, 
Who wheels obdurate, in his mimic chaise 
Perambulant, the child. The gouty cit, 
Asthmatical, with elevated cane 
Pursues the unregarding tram, as one 
Who, having heard a hurdy-gurdy, girds 
His loins and hunts the hurdy-gurdy-man, 
Blaspheming. Now the clangorous bell proclaims 
The Times or Chronicle, and Rauca screams 
The latest horrid murder in the ear 
Of nervous dons expectant of the urn 
And mild domestic muffin. 

To the Parks 

Drags the slow Ladies' School, consuming time 
In passing given points. Here glow the lamps, 
And tea-spoons clatter to the cosy hum 
Of scientific circles. Here resounds 
The football-field with its discordant train, 
The crowd that cheers yet not discriminates, 
As ever into touch the ball returns 
And shrieks the whistle, while the game proceeds 
With fine irregularity well worth 
The paltry shilling. 

Draw the curtains close 
While I resume the night-cap dear to all 
Familiar with my illustrated works. 


NOT on the neck of prince or hound, 
Nor on a woman's finger twined, 
May gold from the deriding ground 
Keep sacred that we sacred bind : 
Only the heel 
Of splendid steel 
Shall stand secure on sliding fate, 
When golden navies weep their freight. 

The scarlet hat, the laurelled stave, 

Are measures, not the springs, of worth; 
In a wife's lap, as in a grave, 

Man's airy notions mix with earth. 
Seek other spur 
Bravely to stir 

The dust in this loud world, and tread 
Alp-high among the whisp'ring dead! 

Trust in thyself, then spur amain ! 
So shall Charybdis wear a grace, 
Grim Etna laugh, the Libyan plain 
Take roses to her shrivelled face. 
This orb this round 
Of sight and sound 
Count it the lists that God hath built 
For haughty hearts to ride a-tilt. 


TUDGE between me and my guest, the stranger within my 
J gates, the man whom in his extremity I clothed and fed. 

I remember well the time of his coming : for it happened at 
the end of five days and nights during which the year passed 
from strength to age; in the interval between the swallow's 
departure and the redwing's coming; when the tortoise in my 
garden crept into his winter quarters, and the equinox was on 
us, with an east wind that parched the blood in the trees, so that 
their leaves for once knew no gradations of red and yellow, but 
turned at a stroke to brown, and crackled like tin-foil. 

At five o'clock in the morning of the sixth day I looked out. 
The wind whistled across the sky, but now without the obstruc- 
tion of any cloud. Full in front of my window Sinus flashed 
with a whiteness that pierced the eye. A little to the right, the 
whole constellation of Orion was suspended, clear over a wedge- 
like gap in the coast, wherein the sea could be guessed rather 
than seen. And, travelling yet farther, the eye fell on two 
brilliant lights, the one set high above the other the one steady 
and a fiery red, the other yellow and blazing intermittently 
the one Aldebaran, the other revolving on the lighthouse top, 
fifteen miles away. 

Half-way up the east, the moon, now in her last quarter and 
decrepit, climbed with the dawn close at her heels. And at this 
hour they brought in the Stranger, asking if my pleasure were 
to give him clothing and hospitality. 

Nobody knew whence he came except that it was from the 
wind and the night seeing that he spoke in a strange tongue, 
moaning and making a sound like the twittering of birds in a 
chimney. But his journey must have been long and painful; 


Old Aeson 9 

for his legs bent under him, and he could not stand when they 
lifted him. So, finding it useless to question him for the time, 
I learnt from the servants all they had to tell namely that they 
had come upon him, but a few minutes before, lying on his face 
within my grounds, without staff or scrip, bareheaded, spent, 
and crying feebly for succour in his foreign tongue; and that 
in pity they had carried him in and brought him to me. 

Now for the look of this man, he seemed a century old, being 
bald, extremely wrinkled, with wide hollows where the teeth 
should be, and the flesh hanging loose and flaccid on his cheek- 
bones; and what colour he had could have come only from 
exposure to that bitter night. But his eyes chiefly spoke of his 
extreme age. They were blue and deep, and filled with the 
wisdom of years; and when he turned them in my direction they 
appeared to look through me, beyond me, and back upon cen- 
turies of sorrow and the slow endurance of man, as if his imme- 
diate misfortune were but an inconsiderable item in a long list. 
They frightened me. Perhaps they conveyed a warning of that 
which I was to endure at their owner's hands. From com- 
passion, I ordered the servants to take him to my wife, with 
word that I wished her to set food before him, and see that it 
passed his lips. 

So much I did for this Stranger. Now learn how he 
rewarded me. 

He has taken my youth from me, and the most of my substance, 
and the love of my wife. 

From the hour when he tasted food in my house, he sat there 
without hint of going. Whether from design, or because age 
and his sufferings had really palsied him, he came back tediously 
to life and warmth, nor for many days professed himself able 
to stand erect. Meanwhile he lived on the best of our hospi- 
tality. My wife tended him, and my servants ran at his bidding ; 
for he managed early to make them understand scraps of his 
language, though slow in acquiring ours I believe out of 

io Old Aeson 

calculation, lest someone should inquire his business (which was 
a mystery) or hint at his departure. I myself often visited the 
room he had appropriated, and would sit for an hour watching 
those fathomless eyes while I tried to make head or tail of his 
discourse. When we were alone, my wife and I used to specu- 
late at times on his probable profession. Was he a merchant ? 
an aged mariner? a tinker, tailor, beggarman, thief? We 
could never decide, and he never disclosed. 

Then the awakening came. I sat one day in the chair beside 
his, wondering as usual. I had felt heavy of late, with a sore- 
ness and languor in my bones, as if a dead weight hung con- 
tinually on my shoulders, and another rested on my heart. 
A warmer colour in the Stranger's cheek caught my attention; 
and I bent forward, peering under the pendulous lids. His 
eyes were livelier and less profound. The melancholy was 
passing from them as breath fades off a pane of glass. He 
was growing younger. Starting up, I ran across the room, to 
the mirror. 

There were two white hairs in my forelock; and, at the 
corner of either eye, half a dozen radiating lines. I was an 
old man. 

Turning, I regarded the Stranger. He sat phlegmatic as an 
Indian idol; and in my fancy I felt the young blood draining 
from my own heart, and saw it mantling in his cheeks. Minute 
by minute I watched the slow miracle the old man beautified. 
As buds unfold, he put on a lovely youthfulness ; and, drop by 
drop, left me winter. 

I hurried from the room, and seeking my wife, laid the case 
before her. 'This is a ghoul,' I said, 'that we harbour: he is 
sucking my best blood, and the household is clean bewitched. 1 
She laid aside the book in which she read, and laughed at me. 
Now my wife was well-looking, and her eyes were the light 
of my soul. Consider, then, how I felt as she laughed, taking 
the Stranger's part against me. When I left her, it was with a 
new suspicion in my heart. 'How shall it be,' I thought, 

Old Aeson 1 1 

'if after stealing my youth, he go on to take the one thing 
that is better?' 

In my room, day by day, I brooded upon this hating my 
own alteration, and fearing worse. With the Stranger there was 
no longer any disguise. His head blossomed in curls; white 
teeth filled the hollows of his mouth; the pits in his cheeks 
were heaped full with roses, glowing under a transparent skin. 
It was Aeson renewed and thankless ; and he sat on, devouring 
my substance. 

Now, having probed my weakness, and being satisfied that 
I no longer dared to turn him out, he, who had half imposed 
his native tongue upon us, constraining the household to a 
hideous jargon, the bastard growth of two languages, conde- 
scended to jerk us back rudely into our own speech once more, 
mastering it with a readiness that proved his former dissimula- 
tion, and using it henceforward as the sole vehicle of his wishes. 
On his past life he remained silent ; but took occasion to confide 
in me that he proposed embracing a military career, as soon as 
he should tire of the shelter of my roof. 

And I groaned in my chamber; for that which I feared had 
come to pass. He was making open love to my wife. And 
the eyes with which he looked at her, and the lips with which 
he coaxed her, had been mine; and I was an old man. Judge 
now between me and this guest. 

One morning I went to my wife; for the burden was past 
bearing, and I must satisfy myself. I found her tending the 
plants on her window-ledge; and when she turned, I saw that 
years had not taken from her comeliness one jot. And I was old. 

So I taxed her on the matter of this Stranger, saying this and 
that, and how I had cause to believe he loved her. 

'That is beyond doubt,' she answered, and smiled. 

'By my head, I believe his fancy is returned!' I blurted out. 

And her smile grew radiant, as, looking me in the face, she 
answered, 'By my soul, husband, it is.' 

Then I went from her, down into my garden, where the day 

12 Old Aeson 

grew hot and the flowers were beginning to droop. I stared 
upon them and could find no solution to the problem that 
worked in my heart. And then I glanced up, eastward, to the 
sun above the privet-hedge, and saw him coming across the 
flower-beds, treading them down in wantonness. He came 
with a light step and a smile, and I waited for him, leaning 
heavily on my stick. 

'Give me your watch!' he called out, as he drew near. 

'Why should I give you my watch?' I asked, while some- 
thing worked in my throat. 

'Because I wish it; because it is gold; because you are too 
old, and won't want it much longer.' 

'Take it,' I cried, pulling the watch out and thrusting it 
into his hand. 'Take it you who have taken all that is 
better! Strip me, spoil me ' 

A soft laugh sounded above, and I turned. My wife was 
looking down on us from the window, and her eyes were both 
moist and glad. 

'Pardon me,' she said, 'it is you who are spoiling the child.' 


'Among these million Suns how shall the strayed Soul find her 
way back to earth?' 

THE man was an engine-driver, thick-set and heavy, with 
a short beard grizzled at the edge, and eyes perpetually 
screwed up, because his life had run for the most part in the teeth 
of the wind. The lashes, too, had been scorched off. If you 
penetrated the mask of oil and coal-dust that was part of his 
working suit, you found a reddish-brown phlegmatic face, and 
guessed its age at fifty. He brought the last down train into 
Lewminster station every night at 9.45, took her on five minutes 
later, and passed through Lewminster again at noon, on his way 
back with the Galloper, as the porters called it. 

He had reached that point of skill at which a man knows 
every pound of metal in a locomotive; seemed to feel just what 
was in his engine the moment he took hold of the levers and 
started up; and was expecting promotion. While waiting for 
it, he hit on the idea of studying a more delicate machine, and 
married a wife. She was the daughter of a woman at whose 
house he lodged, and her age was less than half of his own. 
It is to be supposed he loved her. 

A year after their marriage she fell into low health, and her 
husband took her off to Lewminster for fresher air. She was 
lodging alone at Lewminster, and the man was passing Lew- 
minster station on his engine, twice a day, at the time when 
this tale begins. 

People especially those who live in the west of England 
remember the great fire at the Lewminster theatre; how, in the 
second Act of the Colleen Bawn^ a tongue of light shot from 
the wings over the actors' heads; how, even while the actors 
turned and ran, a sheet of fire swept out and on to the audi- 
torium with a roaring wind, and the house was full of shrieks 


14 Psyche 

and blind death ; how men and women were turned to a white 
ash as they rose from their seats, so fiercely the flames outstripped 
the smoke. These things were reported in ttie papers, with 
narratives and ghastly details, and for a week all England talked 
of Lewminster. 

This engine-driver, as the 9.45 train neared Lewminster, saw 
the red in the sky. And when he rushed into the station and 
drew up, he saw that the country porters who stood about 
Vere white as corpses. 

'What fire is that?' he asked one. 

Tis the theayter! There's a hundred burnt a'ready, and 
the rest treadin' each other's lives out while we stand talkin', 
to get 'pon the roof and pitch theirselves over!' 

Now the engine-driver's wife was going to the play that 
night, and he knew it. She had met him at the station, and 
told him so, at mid-day. 

But there was nobody to take the train on, if he stepped off 
the engine; for his fireman was a young hand, and had been 
learning his trade for less than three weeks. 

So when the five minutes were up or rather, ten, for the 
porters were bewildered that night this man went on out of 
the station into the night. Just beyond the station the theatre 
was plain to see, above the hill on his left, and the flames were 
leaping from the roof; and he knew that his wife was there. 
But the train was never taken down more steadily, nor did a 
single passenger guess what manner of man was driving it. 

At Drakeport, where his run ended, he stepped off the engine, 
walked from the railway-sheds to his mother-in-law's, where 
he still lodged, and went upstairs to his bed without alarming 
a soul. 

In the morning, at the usual hour, he was down at the station 
again, washed and cleanly dressed. His fireman had the 
Galloper's engine polished, fired up, and ready to start. 

'Mornin'/ he nodded, and looking into his driver's eyes, 

Psyche 1 5 

dropped the handful of dirty lint with which he had been 
polishing. After shuffling from foot to foot for a minute, he 
ended by climbing down on the far side of the engine. 

'Oldster/ he said, "tis mutiny p'raps; but s' help me, if I 
ride a mile Alongside that new face o' your'n!' 

'Maybe you 're right,' his superior answered wearily. 'You 'd 
best go up to the office, and get somebody sent down f my 
place. And while you 're there, you might get me a third-class 
for Lewminster.' 

So this man travelled up to Lewminster as passenger, and 
found his young wife's body among the two score stretched in 
a stable-yard behind the smoking theatre, waiting to be claimed. 
And the day after the funeral he left the railway company's 
service. He had saved a bit, enough to rent a small cottage 
two miles from the cemetery where his wife lay. Here he 
settled and tilled a small garden beside the high road. 

Nothing seemed to be wrong with the man until the late 
summer, when he stood before the Lewminster magistrates 
charged with a violent and curiously wanton assault. 

It appeared that one dim evening, late in August, a mild 
gentleman, with Leghorn hat, spectacles, and a green gauze net, 
came sauntering by the garden where the ex-engine-driver was 
pulling a basketful of scarlet runners: that the prisoner had 
suddenly dropped his beans, dashed out into the road, and 
catching the mild gentleman by the throat had wrenched the 
butterfly net from his hand and belaboured him with the handle 
till it broke. 

There was no defence, nor any attempt at explanation. The 
mild gentleman was a stranger to the neighbourhood. The 
magistrates marvelled, and gave his assailant two months. 

At the end of that time the man came out of jail and went 
quietly back to his cottage. 

Early in the following April he conceived a wish to build a 

1 6 Psyche 

small greenhouse at the foot of his garden, by the road, and 
spoke to the local mason about it. One Saturday afternoon the 
mason came over to look at the ground and discuss plans. It 
was bright weather, and while the two men talked a white 
butterfly floated past them the first of the year. 

Immediately the mason broke off his sentence and began to 
chase the butterfly round the garden: for in the west country 
there is a superstition that if a body neglect to kill the first 
butterfly he may see for the season, he will have ill luck through- 
out the year. So he dashed across the beds, hat in hand. 

'I '11 hat 'en I J ll hat 'en! No, fay! I '11 miss 'en, I b'lieve. 
Shan't be able to kill 'n if her 's wunce beyond th* gaate stiddy, 
my son! Wo-op!' 

Thus he yelled, waving his soft hat : and the next minute was 
lying stunned across a carrot-bed, with eight fingers gripping the 
back of his neck and two thumbs squeezing on his windpipe. 

There was another assault case heard by the Lewminster 
bench ; and this time the ex-engine-driver received four months. 
As before, he offered no defence: and again the magistrates 
were possessed with wonder. 

Now the explanation is quite simple. This man's wits were 
sound, save on one point. He believed why, God alone 
knows, who enabled him to drive that horrible journey without 
a tremor of the hand that his wife's soul haunted him in the 
form of a white butterfly or moth. The superstition that spirits 
take this shape is not unknown in the west; and I suppose that 
as he steered his train out of the station, this fancy, by some 
odd freak of memory, leaped into his brain, and held it, hour 
after hour, while he and his engine flew forward and the burning 
-theatre fell farther and farther behind. The truth was known 
a fortnight after his return from prison, which happened about 
the time of barley harvest. 

A harvest-thanksgiving was held in the parish where he 
lived; and he went to it, being always a religious man. There 

Psyche 17 

were sheaves and baskets of vegetables in the chancel ; fruit and 
flowers on the communion-table, with twenty-one tall candles 
burning above them; a processional hymn; and a long sermon. 
During the sermon, as the weather was hot and close, someone 
opened the door at the west end. 

And when the preacher was just making up his mind to close 
the discourse, a large white moth fluttered in at the west door. 

There was much light throughout the church ; but the great 
blaze came, of course, from the twenty-one candles upon the 
altar. And towards this the moth slowly drifted, as if the 
candles sucked her nearer and nearer, up between the pillars of 
the nave, on a level with their capitals. Few of the congrega- 
tion noticed her, for the sermon was a stirring one ; only one or 
two children, perhaps, were interested and the man I write of. 
He saw her pass over his head and float up into the chancel. 
He half rose from his chair. 

'My brothers/ said the preacher, 'if two sparrows, that are 
sold for a farthing, are not too little for the care of this infinite 
Providence ' 

A scream rang out and drowned the sentence. It was fol- 
lowed by a torrent of vile words, shouted by a man who had 
seen, now for the second time, the form that clothed his wife's 
soul shrivelled in unthinking flames. All that was left of the 
white moth lay on the altar-cloth among the fruit at the base 
of the tallest candlestick. 

And because the man saw nothing but cruelty in the Provi- 
dence of which the preacher spoke, he screamed and cursed, 
till they overpowered him and took him forth by the door. 
He was wholly mad from that hour. 


IF a leaf rustled y she would start: 
And yet she died a year ago. 
flow had so frail a thing the heart 

To journey where she trembled so ? 
And do they turn and turn in fright, 
Those little feet 9 in so much night? 

The light above the poet's head 

Streamed on the page and on the cloth, 

And twice and thrice there buffeted 

On the black pane a white- winged moth : 

'Twas Annie's soul that beat outside 
And 'Open! open! open!' cried: 

* I could not find the way to God : 
There were too many flaming suns 

For signposts, and the fearful road 
Led over wastes where millions 

Of tangled comets hissed and burned 
I was bewildered, and I turned. 

*Oh, it was easy then! I knew 
Your window and no star beside. 

Look up, and take me back to you ! ' 
He rose and thrust the window wide. 

'Twas but because his head was hot 
With rhyming : for he heard her not. 

But poets polishing a phrase 
Show anger over trivial things ; 

And as she blundered in the blaze 
Toward him, on ecstatic wings, 

He raised a hand and smote her dead ; 
Then wrote, 'TAat I had died instead!' 


Poem by 



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ov p,V yap rov ye Kpzlavov /ecu apeiov, 

T) 00* 6fJLO(f>pOVOVT 

R)UND the skirts of the plantation, and half-way down the 
hill, there runs a thick fringe of wild cherry-trees. Their 
white blossom makes, for three weeks in the year, a pretty 
contrast with the larches and Scotch firs that serrate the long 
ridge above; and close under their branches runs the line of 
oak rails that marks off the plantation from the meadow. 

A labouring man came deliberately round the slope, as if 
following this line of rails. As a matter of fact, he was treading 
the little-used footpath that here runs close alongside the fence 
for fifty yards before diverging downhill towards the village. 
So narrow is this path that the man's boots were powdered to 
a rich gold by the buttercups they had brushed aside. 

By and by he came to a standstill, looked over the fence, and 
listened. Up among the larches a faint chopping sound could 
just be heard, irregular but persistent. The man put a hand 
to his mouth, and hailed : 

'Hi-i-i! Knock off! Stable clock's gone noo-oon!' 

Came back no answer. But the chopping ceased at once; 
and this apparently satisfied the man, who leaned against the 
rail and waited, chewing a spear of brome-grass, and staring 
steadily, but incuriously, at his boots. Two minutes passed 
without stir or sound in this corner of the land. The human 
figure was motionless. The birds in the plantation were taking 
their noonday siesta. A brown butterfly rested, with spread 
wings, on the rail so quietly, he might have been pinned there. 

A cracked voice was suddenly lifted a dozen yards off, and 
within the plantation : 

'Such a man as I be to work! Never heard a note o' that 
blessed clock, if you '11 believe me. Ab-sorbed, I s'pose.' 

The Paupers 23 

A thin withered man in a smock-frock emerged from among 
the cherry-trees with a bill-hook in his hand, and stooped to 
pass under the rail. 

'Ewgh! The pains I suffer in that old back of mine you '11 
never believe, my son, not till the appointed time when you come 
to suffer 'em youseP. Well-a-well! Says I just now, up among 
the larches, "Heigh, my sonny-boys. I can crow over you, 
anyways ; for I was a man grown when Squire planted ye ; and 
here I be, a lusty gaffer, markin' ye down for destruction." 
But hallo! where 's the dinner?' 

'There hain't none.' 


'There hain't none.' 

'How 's that? Damme! William Henry, dinner 's dinner, 
an' don't you joke about it. Once you begin to make fun o' 
sacred things like meals and vittles ' 

'And don't you flare up like that, at your time o' life. We 're 
fashionists to-day : dining out. 'Quarter after nine this morning 
I was passing by the Green wi' the straw-cart, when old Jan 
Trueman calls after me, "Have *ee heard the news?" "What 
news?" says I. "Why," says he, "me an* my missus be going 
into the House this afternoon can't manage to pull along by 
ourselves no more," he says; "an' we wants you an' your 
father to drop in soon after noon an' take a bite wi' us, for old 
sake's sake. 'Tis our last taste o' free life, and we 'm going to 
do the thing fittywise," he says.' 

The old man bent a meditative look on the village roofs below. 

'We '11 pleasure 'en, of course,' he said slowly. 'So 'tis come 
round to Jan's turn ? But a' was born in the year of Waterloo 
victory, ten year' afore me, so I s'pose he 've kept his doom off 
longer than most.' 

The two set off down the footpath. There is a stile at the 
foot of the meadow, and as he climbed it painfully, the old man 
spoke again. 

'And his doorway, I reckon, '11 be locked for a little while, 

24 The Paupers 

an' then opened by strangers; an' his nimble youth be forgot 
like a flower o' the field; an* fare thee well, Jan Trueman! 
Maria, too I can mind her well as a nursing mother a comely 
woman in her day. I 'd no notion they 'd got this in their mind/ 

'Far as I can gather, they've been minded that way ever 
since their daughter Jane died, last fall.' 

From the stile where they stood they could look down into 
the village street. And old Jan Trueman was plain to see, in 
clean linen and his Sunday suit, standing in the doorway and 
welcoming his guests. 

'Come ye in come ye in, good friends,' he called, as they 
approached. 'There 's cold bekkon, an' cold sheep's liver, an' 
Dutch cheese, besides bread, an' a thimbleful o' gin-an' -water for 
every soul among ye, to make it a day of note in the parish.' 

He looked back over his shoulder into the kitchen. A dozen 
men and women, all elderly, were already gathered there. They 
had brought their own chairs. Jan's wife wore her bonnet and 
shawl, ready to start at a moment's notice. Her luggage in a 
blue handkerchief lay on the table. As she moved about and 
supplied her guests, her old lips twitched nervously; but when 
she spoke it was with no unusual tremor of the voice. 

'I wish, friends, I could ha' cooked ye a little something hot; 
but there 'd be no time for the washing-up, an' I 've ordained 
to leave the place tidy.' 

One of the old women answered : 

'There's nought to be pardoned, I'm sure. Never do I 
mind such a gay set-off for the journey. For the gin-an'-water 
is a little addition beyond experience. The vittles, no doubt, 
you begged up at the vicarage, sayin' you 'd been a peck o' 
trouble to the family, but this was going to be the last time.' 

'I did, I did,' assented Mr. Trueman. 

'But the gin-an'-water how on airth you contrived it is a 

The old man rubbed his hands together and looked around 
with genuine pride. 

The Paupers 25 

'There was old Miss Scantlebury,' said another guest, a 
smock-frocked gaffer of seventy, with a grizzled shock of hair. 
'You remember Miss Scantlebury?' 

'O' course, o' course/ 

'Well, she did it better 'n anybody I 've heard tell of. When 
she fell into redooced circumstances she sold the eight-day clock 
that was the only thing o' value she had left. Brown o' Tre- 
garrick made it, with a very curious brass dial, whereon he carved 
a full-rigged ship that rocked like a cradle, an* went down stern 
foremost when the hour struck. 'Twas worth walking a mile 
to see. Brown's grandson bought it off Miss Scantlebury for 
two guineas, he being proud of his grandfather's skill ; an' the 
old lady drove into Tregarrick Work'us behind a pair o' greys 
wi' the proceeds. Over and above the carriage hire, she 'd 
enough left to adorn the horse wi' white favours an' give the 
rider a crown, large as my lord. Aye, an' at the Work'us door 
she said to the fellow, said she, "All my life I 've longed to ride 
in a bridal chariot; an* though my only lover died of a decline 
when I was scarce twenty-one, I 've done it at last," said she; 
"an' now heaven an' airth can't undo it!"' 

A heavy silence followed this anecdote, and then one or two 
of the women vented small disapproving coughs. The reason 
was the speaker's loud mention of the Workhouse. A week, 
a day, a few hours before, its name might have been spoken 
in Mr. and Mrs. Trueman's presence. But now they had 
entered its shadow; they were 'going' whether to the dim 
vale of Avilion, or with chariot and horses of fire to heaven, 
let nobody too curiously ask. If Mr. and Mrs. Trueman chose 
to speak definitely, it was another matter. 

Old Jan bore no malice, however, but answered, 'That beats 
me, I own. Yet we shall drive, though it be upon two wheels 
an' behind a single horse. For Farmer Lear's driving into 
Tregarrick in an hour's time, an' he 've a-promised us a lift.' 

'But about that gin-an'-water? For real gin-an'-water it is, 
to sight an' taste.' 

26 The Paupers 

'Well, friends, I '11 tell ye: for the trick may serve one of ye 
in the days when you come to follow me, tho' the new relieving 
officer may have learnt wisdom before then. You must know 
we 've been considering of this step for some while ; but hearing 
that old Jacobs was going to retire soon, I says to Maria, 
"We '11 bide till the new officer comes, and if he 's a green hand, 
we '11 diddle 'en." Day before yesterday, as you know, was 
his first round at the work; so I goes up an' draws out my 
ha'af-crown same as usual, an' walks straight off for the "Four 
Lords" for a ha'af-crown's worth o' gin. Then back I goes, 
an' demands an admission order for me an' the missus. "Why, 
where 's your ha'af-crown ? " says he. " Gone in drink," says I. 
"Old man," says he, "you 'm a scandal, an' the sooner you 're 
put out o' the way o' drink, the better for you an' your poor 
wife." "Right you are," I says; an' I got my order. But 
there, I 'm wasting time ; for to be sure you ' ve most of ye got 
kith or kin in the place where we 'm going, and '11 be wanting 
to send 'em a word by us.' 

It was less than an hour before Farmer Lear pulled up to the 
door in his red-wheeled spring-cart. 

'Now, friends,' said Mrs. Trueman, as her ears caught the 
rattle of the wheels, 'I must trouble ye to step outside while 
I tidy up the floor.' 

The women offered their help, but she declined it. Alone 
she put the small kitchen to rights, while they waited 
outside around the door. Then she stepped out with her 
bundle, locked the door after her, and slipped the key 
under an old flower-pot on the window-ledge. Her eyes 
were dry. 

' Come'st along, Jan.' 

There was a brief hand-shaking, and the paupers climbed up 
beside Farmer Lear. 

'I 've made a sort o' little plan in my head,' said old Jan at 
parting, 'of the order in which I shall see ye again, one by one. 

The Paupers 27 

'Twill be a great amusement to me, friends, to see how the fact 
fits in wi' my little plan/ 

The guests raised three feeble cheers as the cart drove away, 
and hung about for several minutes after it had passed out of 
sight, gazing along the road as wistfully as more prosperous 
men look in through churchyard gates at the acres where their 
kinsfolk lie buried. 


The first building passed by the westerly road as it descends 
into Tregarrick is a sombre pile of some eminence, having a 
gateway and lodge before it, and a high encircling wall. The 
sun lay warm on its long roof, and the slates flashed gaily there, 
as Farmer Lear came over the knap of the hill and looked down 
on it. He withdrew his eyes nervously to glance at the old 
couple beside him. At the same moment he reined up his 
dun-coloured mare. 

'I reckoned,' he said timidly, 'I reckoned you 'd be for 
stopping hereabouts an* getting down. You 'd think it more 
seemly that 's what I reckoned : an' 'tis all downhill now.' 

For ten seconds and more neither the man nor the woman 
gave a sign of having heard him. The spring-cart's oscillatory 
motion seemed to have entered into their spinal joints; and now 
that they were come to a halt, their heads continued to wag 
forward and back as they contemplated the haze of smoke spread, 
like a blue scarf, over the town, and the one long slate roof that 
rose from it as if to meet them. At length the old woman 
spoke, and with some viciousness, though her face remained as 
blank as the Workhouse door. 

'The next time I go back up this hill, if ever I do, I '11 be 
carried up feet first.' 

'Maria/ said her husband, feebly reproachful, 'you tempt the 
Lord, that you do.' . 

'Thank 'ee, Farmer Lear,' she went on, paying no heed; 

28 The Paupers 

'you shall help us down, if you 've a mind to, an* drive on. 
We '11 make shift to trickly 'way down so far as the gate; for 
I 'd be main vexed if anybody that had known me in life should 
see us creep in. Come'st along, Jan.' 

Farmer Lear alighted, and helped them out carefully. He 
was a clumsy man, but did his best to handle them gently. 
When they were set on their feet, side by side on the high road, 
he climbed back, and fell to arranging the reins, while he cast 
about for something to say. 

'Well, folks, I s'pose I must be wishing J ee good-bye.' He 
meant to speak cheerfully, but overacted, and was hilarious 
instead. Recognizing this, he blushed. 

'We'll meet in heaven, I dare say,' the woman answered. 
'I put the door-key, as you saw, under the empty geranium-pot 
'pon the window-ledge ; an' whoever the new tenant's wife may 
be, she can eat off the floor, if she 's minded. Now drive along, 
that 's a good soul, and leave us to fend for ourselves.' 

They watched him out of sight before either stirred. The 
last decisive step, the step across the Workhouse threshold, 
must be taken with none to witness. If they could not pass 
out of their small world by the more reputable mode of dying, 
they would at least depart with this amount of mystery. They 
had left the village in Farmer Lear's cart, and Farmer Lear 
had left them in the high road; and after that, nothing should 
be known. 

'Shall we be moving on?' Jan asked at length. There was a 
gate beside the road just there, with a small triangle of green 
before it, and a granite roller half buried in dock leaves. With- 
out making any answer, the woman seated herself on this, and 
pulling a handful of the leaves, dusted her shoes and skirt. 

'Maria, you '11 take a chill that '11 carry you off, sitting 'pon 
that cold stone.' 

'I don't care. 'Twon't carry me off afore I get inside; 
an' I 'm going in decent, or not at all. Come here, an' let 
me tittivate you.' 

The Paupers 29 

He sat down on the stone beside her, and submitted to be dusted. 

'You 'd as lief lower me as not in their eyes, I verily believe/ 

'I always was one to gather dust/ 

'An' a fresh spot o' bacon-fat 'pon your weskit, that I 've 
kept the moths from since goodness knows when!' 

Old Jan looked down over his waistcoat. It was of good 
West-of-England broadcloth, and he had worn it on the day 
when he married the woman at his side. 

'I 'm thinking ' he began nervously. 


'I 'm thinking I '11 find it hard to make friends in in there. 
Tis such a pity, to my thinking, that by reggilations we '11 be 
parted as soon as we get inside. You 've a-got so used to my 
little ways an' cornders, an' we 've a-got so many little secrets 
together an' old-fash'ned odds an' ends o' knowledge, that you 
can take my meaning almost afore I start to speak. An' that 's 
a great comfort to a man o' my age. It '11 be terrible hard, 
when I wants to talk, to begin at the beginning every time. 
There 's that old yarn o' mine about Hambly's cow an' the lawn- 
mowing machine I doubt that anybody '11 enjoy it so much 
as you always do ; an' I 've so got out o' the way o' telling the 
beginning which bain't extra funny, though needful to a 
stranger's understanding the whole joke that I 'most forgets 
how it goes/ 

'We'll see one another now an' then, they tell me. The 
sexes meet for Chris'mas-trees an' such-like/ 

'I 'm jealous that 'twon't be the same. You can't hold your 
triflin' confabs with a great Chris'mas-tree blazin' away in your 
face as important as a town afire/ 

'Well, I'm going to start along,' the old woman decided, 
getting on her feet; 'or else someone '11 be driving by and 
seeing us/ 

Jan, too, stood up. 

'We may so well make our congees here,' she went on, 'as 
under the porter's nose/ 

30 The Paupers 

An awkward silence fell between them for a minute, and 
these two old creatures, who for more than fifty years had felt 
no constraint in each other's presence, now looked into each 
other's eyes with a fearful diffidence. Jan cleared his throat, 
much as if he had to make a public speech. 

'Maria,' he began in an unnatural voice, 'we 're bound for to 
part, and I can trewly swear, on leaving ye, that ' 

* that for two score year and twelve it's never entered 

your head to consider whether I 've made 'ee a good wife or 
a bad. Kiss me, my old man ; for I tell 'ee I wouldn' ha' wished 
it other. An' thank 'ee for trying to make that speech. What 
did it feel like?' 

'Why, 't reminded me o' the time when I offered 'ee marriage.' 

'It reminded me o' that, too,' the woman answered. ' Come'st 

They tottered down the hill towards the Workhouse gate. 
When they were but ten yards from it, however, they heard 
the sound of wheels on the road behind them, and walked 
bravely past, pretending to have no business at that portal. 
They had descended a good thirty yards beyond (such haste 
was put into them by dread of having their purpose guessed) 
before the vehicle overtook them a four-wheeled dog-cart 
carrying a commercial traveller, who pulled up and offered 
them a lift into the town. 

They declined. 

Then, as soon as he passed out of sight, they turned, and 
began painfully to climb back towards the gate. Of the two, 
the woman had shown the less emotion. But all the way her 
lips were at work, and as she went she was praying a prayer. 
It was the only one she used night and morning, and she had 
never changed a word since she learned it as a chit of a child. 
Down to her seventieth year she had never found it absurd to 
beseech God to make her 'a good girl'; nor did she find it so 
as the Workhouse gate opened, and she began a new life. 




March 2nd 1894. 

When your letter reached me and I think it was the 
pleasantest that ever came from an unknown friend we were 
in great trouble here, by reason of the illness (fatal, as it turned 
out) of my wife's mother. I might have written you a polite 
note : but I wanted to send you much more than that : and had 
no heart to do it. Then I promised myself that I would write 
after reading The Greater Glory \ but again the library has 
betrayed me by its delays: the three volumes have not yet 
arrived country readers being neglected on principle and I 
stand convicted of gross rudeness, unless you will understand 
my case and forgive it. As it is, I am ashamed to write, and 
yet cannot put off writing any longer. 

I did not come to know your books as soon as I ought : but 
as soon as I knew them I wanted to know more, of them and of 
their author. It must be two years almost since Barrie and I 
talked of God's Fool throughout a long afternoon's walk. He 
was being taken out expressly to see the country round Fowey : 
but we clean forgot our purpose, and in the end I believe he 
might just as well have been walking along Oxford Street, 
and this is as good a chance as any for saying that next time you 
visit England you must spend, if not less time in London, at 
any rate more in the country. As you know, from the D. Duchy ^ 
I do my piping in a corner: and the corner is a long way from 
London : but Dr. Nicoll may have told you that it is a beautiful 
spot. Moreover we have a prophet's chamber here, and, what- 
ever you may think of the invitation, it would be glad news to 
hear that you intended to spend a day or two with us. You 


32 Letter to Maarten Maartens 

could always collar Barrie in London and bring him along, to 
make sure of having good company. Tell him that he musty 
and he will come like a lamb : he knows that it is good for him. 
And, if you don't resent my saying it, it will be good for you, 
too, after long dinners and late hours in London, to come for a 
while to country fare, with claret and tobacco and much idleness 
in boats or by the harbourside, and bathing (if you like it) at 
the foot of the garden and ships going to and fro all the day 
long. I wish I could persuade you. 

You speak too kindly of my books, though I am not the 
less obliged to you for that. Or rather you see what they are 
trying for, instead of the poor work actually done. That 's 
the best of a good word from an artist. The usual critic 
imagines one to be content (good Heavens!) with one's writings, 
and complacent. As if a man doesn't think fifty times of what 
he hopes to do to once of what he has done! And even if as 
the chances are all his trouble has only been a preparation for 
a feat that never comes off, why meanwhile he has been happy 
in his ignorance and happier for the encouragement. I cannot 
tell you how much your letter has cheered me. Some day 
I hope you will let me tell you face to face. Meanwhile we are 
all cultivating our gardens : and if mine is a narrow one, I shall 
none the less be happy in your success, and perhaps send you a 
flower from time to time as tribute. 

Believe me 

sincerely yours 


CAPTAIN POND, of the East and West Looe Volunteer 
Artillery (familiarly known as the Looe Die-hards), put 
his air-cushion to his lips and blew. This gave his face a very 
choleric and martial expression. 

Nevertheless, above his suffused and distended cheeks his 
eyes preserved a pensive melancholy as they dwelt upon his 
Die-hards gathered in the rain below him on the long-shore, or 
Church-end, wall. At this date (November 3, 1809) the com- 
pany numbered seventy, besides Captain Pond and his two 
subalterns; and of this force four were out in the boat just now, 
mooring the practice-mark a barrel with a small red flag stuck 
on top; one, the bugler, had been sent up the hill to the nine- 
pounder battery, to watch and sound a call as soon as the target 
was ready; a sixth, Sergeant Fugler, lay at home in bed, with 
the senior lieutenant (who happened also to be the local doctor) 
in attendance. Captain Pond clapped a thumb over the orifice 
of his air-cushion, and heaved a sigh as he thought of Sergeant 
Fugler. The remaining sixty-four Die-hards, with their fire- 
locks under their great-coats, and their collars turned up against 
the rain, lounged by the embrasures of the shore-wall, and 
gossiped dejectedly, or eyed in silence the blurred boat bobbing 
up and down in the grey blur of the sea. 

'Such coarse weather I hardly remember to have met with 
for years,' said Uncle Israel Spettigew, a cheerful sexagenarian 
who ranked as efficient on the strength of his remarkable eye- 
sight, which was keener than most boys'. 'The sweep from 
over to Polperro was cleanin' my chimbley this mornin', and 
he told me in his humorous way that with all this rain 'tis so 
much as he can do to keep his face dirty hee-hee!' 

Nobody smiled. 'If you let yourself give way to the enjoy- 
ment of little things like that,' observed a younger gunner 
c 33 

34 The Looe Die-hards 

gloomily, 'one o' these days you '11 find yourself in a better 
land like the snuff of a candle. 'Tis a year since the Company's 
been allowed to move in double time, and all because you 
can't manage a step o' thirty-six inches 'ithout getting the 

'Well-a-well, 'tis but for a brief while longer a few fleeting 
weeks, an' us Die-hards shall be as though we had never been. 
So why not be cheerful ? For my part, I mind back in 'seventy- 
nine, when the fleets o' France an' Spain assembled an* come up 
agen' us sixty-six sail o' the line, my sonnies, besides frigates 
an' corvettes to the amount o' twenty-five or thirty, all as plain 
as the nose on your face: an' the alarm guns goin', up to Ply- 
mouth, an' the signals hoisted at Maker Tower a bloody flag 
at the pole an' two blue 'uns at the outriggers. Four days they 
laid to, an' I mind the first time I seed mun, from this very place 
as it might be where we 'm standin' at this moment, I said 
"Well, 'tis all over with East Looe this time!" I said: "an' 
when 'tis over, 'tis over, as Joan said by her weddin'." An' 
then I spoke them verses by royal Solomon Wisdom two, six 
to nine. "Let us fill oursel's wi' costly wine an' ointments," 
I said: "an' let no flower o' the spring pass by us. Let us 
crown oursel's wi' rosebuds, afore they be withered : let none of 
us go without his due part of our voluptuousness" ' 

* Why, you old adage, that 's what Solomon makes th' ungodly 
say!' interrupted young Gunner Oke, who had recently been 
appointed parish clerk, and happened to know. 

'As it happens,' Uncle Issy retorted, with sudden dignity 
'as it happens, I was ungodly in them days. The time I'm 
talkin' about was August 'seventy-nine; an' if I don't mistake, 
your father an' mother, John Oke, were courtin' just then, an' 
'most too shy to confide in each other about havin' a parish 
clerk for a son.' 

'Times hev' marvellously altered in the meanwhile, to be 
sure,' put in Sergeant Pengelly of the Sloop Inn. 

'Well, then/ Uncle Issy continued, without pressing his 

The Looe Die-hards 35 

triumph, <<0 Tis all over with East Looe," I said, "an* this is a 
black day for King Gearge," an' then I spoke them verses o' 
Solomon. "Let none of us," I said, "go without his due part 
of our voluptuousness" ; and with that I went home and dined 
on tatties an* bacon. It hardly seems a thing to be believed at 
this distance o' time, but I never relished tatties an* bacon better 
in my life than that day an' yet not meanin' the laste dis- 
respect to King Gearge. Disrespect? If his Majesty only 
knew it, he 've no better friend in the world than Israel Spettigew. 
God save the King!' 

And with this Uncle Issy pulled off his cap and waved it 
round his head, thereby shedding a moulinet of raindrops full in 
the faces of his comrades around. 

This was observed by Captain Pond, standing on the plat- 
form above, beside Thundering Meg, the big 24-pounder, which 
with four i8-pounders on the shore- wall formed the lower 
defences of the haven. 

'Mr. Clogg,' he called to his junior lieutenant, 'tell Gunner 
Spettigew to put on his hat at once. Ask him what he means 
by taking his death and disgracing the company.' 

The junior lieutenant a small farmer from Talland parish 
touched his cap, spread his hand suddenly over his face and 

'Hallo! You Ve got a cold.' 

'No, sir. I often sneezes like that, and no reason for it 

'I 've never noticed it before.' 

'No, sir. I keeps it under so well as I can. A great deal 
can be done sometimes by pressing your thumb on the upper lip.' 

'Ah, well! So long as it's not a gold ' returned the 

Captain, and broke off to arrange his air-cushion over the 
depressed muzzle of Thundering Meg. Hereupon he took his 
seat, adjusted the lapels of his great-coat over his knees, and 
gave way to gloomy reflection. 

Sergeant Fugler was at the bottom of it. Sergeant Fugler, 

36 The Looe Die-hards 

the best marksman in the Company, was a hard drinker, with 
a hobnailed liver. He lay now in bed with that hobnailed liver 
and the Doctor said it was only a question of days. But why 
should this so extraordinarily discompose Captain Pond, who 
had no particular affection for Fugler, and knew, besides, that 
all men and especially hard drinkers are mortal ? 

The answer is that the East and West Looe Volunteer 
Artillery was no ordinary Company. When, on the i6th of 
May, 1803, King George told his faithful subjects, who had been 
expecting the announcement for some time, that the Treaty of 
Amiens was no better than waste paper, public feeling in the two 
Looes rose to a very painful pitch. The inhabitants used to 
assemble before the post office, to hear the French bulletins read 
out ; and though it was generally concluded that they held much 
falsehood, yet everybody felt misfortune in the air. Rumours 
flew about that a diversion would be made by sending an army 
into the Duchy to draw the troops thither while the invaders 
directed their main strength upon London. Quiet villagers, 
therefore, dwelt for the while in a constant apprehension, fearing 
to go to bed lest they should awake at the sound of the trumpet, 
or in the midst of the French troops; scarcely venturing beyond 
sight of home lest, returning, they should find the homestead 
smoking and desolate. Each man had laid down the plan he 
should pursue. Some were to drive off the cattle, others to 
fire the corn. While the men worked in the fields, their woman- 
kind young maids and grandmothers, and all that could be 
spared from domestic work- encamped above the cliffs, wearing 
red cloaks to scare the Frenchmen, and by night kept big bon- 
fires burning continually. Amid this painful disquietude of the 
public mind 'the great and united Spirit of the British People 
armed itself for the support of their ancient Glory and Inde- 
pendence against the unprincipled Ambition of the French 
Government In other words, the Volunteer movement began. 
In the Duchy alone no less than 8,362 men enrolled themselves 
in thirty Companies of foot, horse, and artillery, as well out of 

The Looe Die-hards 3 7 

enthusiasm as to escape the general levy that seemed probable 
so mixed are all human actions. 

Of these the Looe Company was neither the greatest nor the 
least. It had neither the numerical strength of the Royal 
Stannary Artillery (1,115 men an< ^ officers) nor the numerical 
eccentricity of the St. Germans Cavalry, which consisted of 
forty troopers, all told, and eleven officers, and hunted the fox 
thrice a week during the winter months under Lord Eliot, 
Captain and M.F.H. The Looe Volunteers, however, started 
well in the matter of dress, which consisted of a dark-blue coat 
and pantaloons, with red facings and yellow wings and tassels, 
and a white waistcoat. The officers' sword-hilts were adorned 
with prodigious red and blue tassels, and the blade of Captain 
Pond's, in particular, bore the inscription, ' My Life's Blood for 
the Two LooesJ 9 a legend which we must admit to be touching, 
even while we reflect that the purpose of the weapon was not 
to draw its owner's life-blood. 

As a matter of mere history, this devoted blade had drawn 
nobody's blood; since, in the six years that followed their 
enlistment, the Looe Die-hards had never been given an oppor- 
tunity for a brush with their country's hereditary foes. How, 
then, did they acquire their proud title? 

It was the Doctor's discovery ; and perhaps, in the beginning, 
professional pride may have had something to do with it; but 
his enthusiasm was quickly caught up by Captain Pond and 
communicated to the entire Company. 

'Has it ever occurred to you, Pond,' the Doctor began, one 
evening in the late summer of 1808, as the two strolled home- 
ward from parade, 'to reflect on the rate of mortality in this 
Company of yours? Have you considered that in all these five 
years since their establishment not a single man has died?' 

'Why the deuce should he?' 

'But look here: I Ve worked it out on paper, and the mean 
age of your men is thirty-four years, or some five years more 
than the mean age of the enure population of East and West 

38 The Looe Die-hards 

Looe. You see, on the one hand, you enlist no children, and 
on the other, you 've enlisted several men of ripe age, because 
you 're accustomed to them and know their ways which is a 
great help in commanding a Company. But this makes the 
case still more remarkable. Take any collection of seventy 
souls the sum of whose ages, divided by seventy, shall be 
thirty-four, and by all the laws of probability three, at least, 
ought to die in the course of a year. I speak, for the moment, 
of civilians. In the military profession,' the Doctor continued, 
with perfect seriousness, 'especially in time of war, the death- 
rate will be enormously heightened. But* with a flourish of 
the hand 'I waive that. I waive even the real, if uncertainly 
estimated, risk of handling, twice or thrice a week and without 
timidity or particular caution, the combustibles and explosives 
supplied us by Government. And still I say that we might 
with equanimity have beheld our ranks thinned during these 
five years by the loss of fifteen men. And we have not lost a 
single one ! It is wonderful ! ' 

'War is a fearful thing,' commented Captain Pond, whose 
mind moved less nimbly than the Doctor's. 

'Dash it all, Pond! Can't you see that I'm putting the 
argument on a peace footing? I tell you that in five years of 
peace any ordinary Company of the same size would have lost 
at least fifteen men.' 

' Then all I can say is that peace is a fearful thing, too.' 

'But don't you see that at this moment you 're commanding 
the most remarkable Company in the Duchy, if not in the 
whole of England ? ' 

'I do,' answered Captain Pond, flushing. 'It's a responsi- 
bility, though. It makes a man feel proud ; but, all the same, 
I almost wish you hadn't told me.' 

Indeed at first the weight of his responsibility counteracted 
the Captain's natural elation. It lifted, however, at the next 
Corporation dinner, when the Doctor made public announce- 
ment of his discovery in a glowing speech, supporting his 

The Looe Die-hards 39 

rhetoric by extracts from a handful of statistics and calculations, 
and ending, ' Gentlemen, we know the motto of the East and 
West Looe Volunteer Artillery to be "Never Say Die! 9 ' but 
seeing, after five years' trial of them, that they never do die, 
what man (I ask) will not rejoice to belong to such a Company? 
What man would not be proud to command it? 9 

After this, could Captain Pond lag behind ? His health was 
drunk amid thunders of applause. He rose : he cast timidity 
to the winds: he spoke, and while he spoke, wondered at his 
own enthusiasm. Scarcely had he made an end before his 
fellow-townsmen caught him off his feet and carried him 
shoulder high through the town by the light of torches. There 
were many aching heads in the two Looes next morning; but 
nobody died: and from that night Captain Pond's Company 
wore the name of 'The Die-hards.' 

All went well at first; for the autumn closed mildly. But 
with November came a spell of north-easterly gales, breeding 
bronchial discomfort among the aged; and Black Care began 
to dog the Commander. He caught himself regretting the 
admission of so many gunners of riper years, although the 
majority of these had served in His Majesty's Navy, and were 
by consequence the best marksmen. They weathered the 
winter, however; and a slight epidemic of whooping-cough, 
which broke ouf in the early spring, affected none of the Die- 
hards except the small bugler, and he took it in the mildest 
form. The men, following the Doctor's lead, began to talk 
more boastfully than ever. Only the Captain shook his head, 
and his eyes wore a wistful look, as though he listened con- 
tinually for the footsteps of Nemesis as, indeed, he did. The 
strain was breaking him. And in August, when word came 
from headquarters that, all danger of invasion being now at an 
end, the Looe Volunteer Artillery would be disbanded at the close 
of the year, he tried in vain to grieve. A year ago he would have 
wept in secret over the news. Now he went about with a solemn 
face and a bounding heart. A few months more and then 

40 The Looe Die-hards 

And then, almost within sight of goal, Sergeant Fugler had 
broken down. Every one knew that Fugler drank prodigi- 
ously; but so had his father and grandfather, and each of them 
had reached eighty. The fellow had always carried his liquor 
well enough, too. Captain Pond looked upon it almost as a 

'I don't know what folks' constitutions are coming to in 
these days,' he kept muttering, on this morning of November 
the 3rd, as he sat on the muzzle of Thundering Meg and 
dangled his legs. 

And then, glancing up, he saw the Doctor coming from the 
town along the shore-wall, and read evil news at once. For 
many of the Die-hards stopped the Doctor to question him, 
and stood gloomy as he passed on. It was popularly said in 
the two Looes, that 'if the Doctor gave a man up, that man 
might as well curl up his toes then and there.' 

Catching sight of his Captain on the platform, the Doctor 
bent his steps thither, and they were slow and inelastic. 

'Tell me the worst,' said Captain Pond. 

'The worst is that he 's no better; no, the worst of all is that 
he knows he 's no better. My friend, between ourselves, it 's 
only a question of a day or two.' 

Silence followed for half a minute, the two officers avoiding 
each other's eyes. 

'He has a curious wish,' the Doctor resumed, still with his 
face averted and his gaze directed on the dull outline of Looe 
Island, a mile away. 'He says he knows he's disgracing the 
Company : but he 's anxious, all the same, to have a military 
funeral : says if you can promise this, he '11 feel in a way that 
he 's forgiven/ 

'He shall have it, of course.' 

'Ah, but that 's not all. You remember, a couple of years 
back, when they had us down to Pendennis Castle for a week's 
drill, there was a funeral of a Sergeant-Major in the Loyal 
Meneage ; and how the band played a sort of burial tune ahead 

The Looe Die-hards 41 

of the body? Well, Fugler asked me if you couldn't manage 
this Dead March, as he calls it, as well. He can whistle the 
tune if you want to know it. It seems it made a great impression 
on him.' 

'Then the man must be wandering! How the dickens can 
we manage a Dead March without a band? and we haven't 
even a fife and drum ! ' 

' That 's what I told him. I suppose we couldn't do any- 
thing with the church musicians.' 

* There 's only one man in the Company who belongs to the 
gallery, and that 's Uncle Issy Spettigew : and he plays the bass- 
viol. I doubt if you can play the Dead March on a bass-viol, 
and I 'm morally certain you can't play it and walk with it too. 
I suppose we can't borrow a band from another Company?' 

'What, and be the mock of the Duchy? after all our pride! 
I fancy I see you going over to Troy and asking Browne for the 
loan of his band. "Hallo!" he'd say, "I thought you never 
had such a thing as a funeral over at Looe!" I can hear the 
fellow chuckle. But I wish something could be done, all the 
same. A trifle of pomp would draw folks' attention off our 

Captain Pond sighed and rose from the gun ; for the bugle 
was sounding from the upper battery. 

'Fall in, gentlemen, if you please!' he shouted. His polite- 
ness in addressing his Company might be envied even by 
the 'Blues.' 

The Doctor formed them up and told them off along the 
sea-wall, as if for inspection. ' Or-der arms ! ' ' Fix bayonets ! ' 
'Shoul-der arms!' Then with a glance of inquiry at his 
Captain, who had fallen into a brown study, 'Rear rank, take 
open order!' 

'No, no,' interposed the Captain, waking up and taking a 
guess at the sun's altitude in the grey heavens. ' We 're late 
this morning: better march 'em up to the battery at once.' 

Then, quickly re-forming them, he gave the word, 'By the 

42 The Looe Die-hards 

left! Quick march!' and the Die-hards swung steadily up the 
hill towards the platform where the four nine-pounders grinned 
defiance to the ships of France. 

As a matter of fact, this battery stood out of reach of harm, 
with the compensating disadvantage of being able to inflict 
none. The reef below would infallibly wreck any ship that 
tried to approach within the point-blank range of some lyp 
yards, and its extreme range of ten times that distance was no 
protection to the haven, which lay round a sharp corner of the 
cliff. But the engineer's blunder was never a check upon the 
alacrity of the Die-hards, who cleaned, loaded, rammed home, 
primed, sighted, and blazed away with the precision of clock- 
work and the ardour of Britons, as though aware that the true 
strength of a nation lay not so much in the construction of her 
fortresses as in the spirit of her sons. 

Captain Pond halted, re-formed his men upon the platform, 
and, drawing a key from his pocket, ordered Lieutenant Clogg 
to the store-hut, with Uncle Issy in attendance, to serve out the 
ammunition, rammers, sponges, water-buckets, etc. 

'But the door's unlocked, sir,' announced the lieutenant, 
with something like dismay. 

'Unlocked!' echoed the Doctor. 

The Captain blushed. 

'I could have sworn, Doctor, I turned the key in the lock 
before leaving last Thursday. I think my head must be going. 
I 've been sleeping badly of late it 's this worry about Fugler. 
However, I don't suppose anybody ' 

A yell interrupted him. It came from Uncle Issy, who had 
entered the store-hut, and now emerged from it as if projected 
from a gun. 


For two terrible seconds the Die-hards eyed one another. 
Then someone in the rear rank whispered, 'An ambush!' The 
two ranks began to waver to melt. Uncle Issy, with head 
down and shoulders arched, was already stumbling down the 

The Looe Die-hards 43 

slope towards the town. In another ten seconds the whole 
Company would be at his heels. 

The Doctor saved their reputation. He was as pale as the 
rest; but a hasty remembrance of the cubic capacity of the 
store-hut told him that the number of Frenchmen in ambush 
there could hardly be more than half a dozen. 

'Halt!' he shouted; and Captain Pond shouted 'Halt!' too, 
adding, 'There '11 be heaps of time to run when we find out 
what 's the matter.' 

The Die-hards hung, still wavering, upon the edge of the 

'For my part,' the Doctor declared, 'I don't believe there 's 
anybody inside.' 

'But there is. Doctor! for I saw him myself just as Uncle Issy 
called out,' said the second lieutenant. 

'Was it only one man that you saw?' demanded Captain 

'That's all. You see, it was this way: Uncle Issy stepped 
fore, with me a couple of paces behind him thinking of nothing 
so little as bloodshed and danger. If you '11 believe me, these 
things was the very last in my thoughts. Uncle Issy rolls aside 
the powder-cask, and what do I behold but a man ducking 
down behind it! "He's firing the powder," thinks I, "and 
here endeth William George Clogg!" So I shut my eyes, not 
willing to see my gay life whisked away in little portions; 
though I feared it must come. And then I felt Uncle Issy flee 
past me like the wind. But I kept my eyes tight till I heard the 
Doctor here saying there wasn't anybody inside. If you ask 
me what I think about the whole matter, I say, putting one 
thing with another, that 'tis most likely some poor chap taking 
shelter from the rain.' 

Captain Pond unsheathed his sword and advanced to the 
door of the hut. 'Whoever you be,' he called aloud and 
firmly, 'you 've got no business there; so come out of it, in 
the name of King George!' 

44 The Looe Die-hards 

At once there appeared in the doorway a little round-headed 
man in tattered and mud-soiled garments of blue cloth. His 
hair and beard were alike short, black, and stubbly; his eyes 
large and feverish, his features smeared with powder and a trifle 
pinched and pale. In his left hand he carried a small bundle, 
wrapped in a knotted blue kerchief: his right he waved 
submissively towards Captain Pond. 

'See now,' he began, 'I give up. I am taken. Look you/ 

'I think you must be a Frenchman,' said Captain Pond. 

'Right. It is war: you have taken a Frenchman. Yes?' 

'A spy?' the Captain demanded more severely. 

'An escaped prisoner, more like,' suggested the Doctor; 
'broken out of Dartmoor, and hiding there for a chance to 
slip across.' 

'Monsieur le Lieutenant has guessed,' the little man answered, 
turning affably to the Doctor. 'A spy? No. It is not on 
purpose that I find me near your fortifications oh, not a bit! 
A prisoner more like, as Monsieur says. It is three days that 
I was a prisoner, and now look here, a prisoner again. Alas! 
will Monsieur le Capitaine do me the honour to confide the 
name of his corps so gallant?' 

'The Two Looes.' 

'La Toulouse! But it is singular that we also have a 
Toulouse ' 

'Hey?' broke in Second Lieutenant Clogg. 

'I assure Monsieur that I say the truth.' 

'Well, go on; only it don't sound natural.' 

'Not that I have seen it' ('Ha!' commented Mr. Clogg) 
'for it lies in the south, and I am from the north : Jean Alphonse 
Marie Trinquier, instructor of music, rue de la Madeleine 
quatr'-vingt-neuf, Dieppe.' 

'Instructor of music?' echoed Captain Pond and the Doctor 
quickly and simultaneously, and their eyes met. 

'And Directeur des Fetes Piriodiques to the Municipality of 
Dieppe. All the Sundays, you comprehend, upon the sands 

The Looe Die-hards 45 

poum poum ! while the citizens se prominent sur la plage. But 
all is not gay in this world. Last winter a terrible misfortune 
befell me. I lost my wife my adored Philomne. I was 
desolated, inconsolable. For two months I could not take up 
my cornet-a-piston. Always when I blew pouf! the tears 
came also. Ah, what memories! Hippolyte, my what you 
call it my beau-frere, came to me and said, "Jean Alphonse, 
you must forget." I say, "Hippolyte, you ask that which is 
impossible." " I will teach you," says Hippolyte : " To-morrow 
night I sail for Jersey, and from Jersey I cross to Dartmouth, in 
England, and you shall come with me." Hippolyte made his 
living by what you call the Free Trade. This was far down 
the coast for him, but he said the business with Rye and Deal 
was too dangerous for a time. Next night we sailed. It was 
his last voyage. With the morning the wind changed, and we 
drove into a fog. When we could see again, peste / there was 
an English frigate. She sent down her cutter and took the 
rest of us ; but not Hippolyte poor Hippolyte was shot in the 
spine of his back. Him they cast into the sea, but the rest of 
us they take to Plymouth, and then the War Prison on the moor. 
This was in May, and there I rest until three days ago. Then 
I break out je me sauve. How? It i$ my affair: for I fore- 
see, Messieurs, I shall now have to do it over again. I am sot. 
I gain the coast here at night. I am weary, je nen puis plus. 
I find this cassine here : the door is open : I enter pour faire un 
petit somme. Before day I will creep down to the shore. A 
comrade in the prison said to me, "Go to Looe. I know a 
good Cornishman there "' 

'And you overslept yourself/ Captain Paul briskly inter- 
rupted, alert as ever to protect the credit of his Company. He 
was aware that several of the Die-hards, in extra-military hours, 
took an occasional trip across to Guernsey: and Guernsey is 
a good deal more than half-way to France. 

'The point is/ observed the Doctor, 'that you play the 

46 The Looe Die-hards 

'It is certain that I do so, monsieur; but how that can be the 
point ' 

'And instruct in music?' 


'Do you know the Dead March?' 

M. Trinquier was unfeignedly bewildered. 

Said Captain Pond: 'Listen while I explain. You are my 
prisoner, and it becomes my duty to send you back to Dartmoor 
under escort. But you are exhausted ; and notwithstanding my 
detestation of that infernal tyrant, your master, I am a humane 
man. At all events, I 'm not going to expose two of my Die- 
hards to the risks of a tramp to Dartmoor just now I wouldn't 
turn out a dog in such weather. It remains a question what I 
am to do with you in the meanwhile. I propose that you give 
me your parole that you will make no attempt to escape, let us 
say, for a month : and on receiving it I will at once escort you 
to my house, and see that you are suitably clothed, fed, and 

'I give it willingly, Monsieur le Capitaine. But how am I 
to thank you?' 

'By playing the Dead March upon the cornet-a-piston and 
teaching others to do the like.' 

'That seems a singular way of showing one's gratitude. But 
why the Dead March, monsieur? And, excuse me, there is 
more than one Dead March. I myself, par exemple, composed 
one to the memory of my adored Philomne but a week before 
Hippolyte came with his so sad proposition.' 

'I doubt if that will do. You see,' said Captain Pond, 
lifting his voice for the benefit of the Die-hards, who by this 
time were quite as sorely puzzled as their prisoner, 'we are about 
to bury one of our Company, Sergeant Fugler ' 

'Ah! he is dead?' 

'He is dying,' Captain Pond pursued, the more quickly since 
he now guessed, not without reason, that Fugler was the 'good 
Cornishman' to whose door M. Trinquier had been directed. 

The Looe Die-hards 47 

'He is dying of a hobnailed liver. It is his wish to have the 
Dead March played at his burying.' 

'He whistled the tune over to me/ said the Doctor; 'but 
plague take me if I can whistle it to you. I Ve no ear : but I 'd 
know it again if I heard it. Dismal isn't the word for it/ 

'It will be Handel. I am sure it will be Handel the Dead 
March in his Saul. 9 

'In his what?' 

' In his oratorio of Saul. Listen poum>poum>prrr,poum ' 

'Be dashed, but you 've got it!' cried the Doctor, delighted; 
' though you do give it a sort of foreign accent. But I dare say 
that won't be so noticeable on the key-bugle.' 

'But about this key-bugle, monsieur? And the other 
instruments? not to mention the players.' 

'I 've been thinking of that,' said Captain Pond. 'There 's 
Butcher Tregaskis has a key-bugle. He plays Rule, Britannia ! 
upon it when he goes round with the suet. He '11 lend you 
that till we can get one down from Plymouth. A drum, too, 
you shall have. Hockaday's trader calls here to-morrow on 
her way to Plymouth; she shall bring both instruments back 
with her. Then we have the church musicians Peter Tweedy, 
first fiddle ; Matthew John Ede, second ditto ; ThomasTripconey, 
scorpion ' 

'Serpent,' the Doctor corrected. 

'Well, it 's a filthy thing to look at, anyway. Israel Spetti- 
gew, bass-viol; William Henry Phippin, flute; and William 
Henry Phippin's eldest boy Archelaus to tap the triangle at the 
right moment. That boy, sir, will play the triangle almost as 
well as a man grown.' 

'Then, monsieur, take me to your house. Give me a little 
food and drink, pen, ink, and paper, and in three hours you 
shall have la partition! 

Said the Doctor, 'That 's all very well, Pond, but the church 
musicianers can't march with their music, as you told me 
just now.' 

48 The Looe Die-hards 

'I *ve thought of that, too. We '11 have Miller Penrose's 
covered three-horse wagon to march ahead of the coffin. 
Hang it in black and go slow, and all the musicianers can sit 
around inside and play away as merry as grigs.' 

'The cover '11 give the music a sort of muffly sound; but 
that/ Lieutenant Clogg suggested, 'will be all the more fitty 
for a funeral.' 

'So it will, Clogg; so it will. But we're wasting time. 
I suppose you won't object, sir, to be marched down to my 
house by the Company? It's the regular thing in case of 
taking a prisoner, and you '11 be left to yourself as soon as you 
get to my door.' 

'Not at all,' said M. Trinquier amiably. 

'Then, gentlemen, fall in! The practice is put off. And 
when you get home, mind you change your stockings, all of 
you. We 're in luck's way this morning, but that 's no reason 
for recklessness.' 

So M. Trinquier, some time Director of Periodical Festivities 
to the Municipality of Dieppe, was marched down into East 
Looe, to the wonder and delight of the inhabitants, who had 
just recovered from the shock of Gunner Spettigew's false 
alarm, and were in a condition to be pleased with trifles. As 
the Company tramped along the street, Captain Pond pointed 
out the Town Hall to his prisoner. 

'That will be the most convenient place to hold your practices. 
And that is Fugler's house, just opposite.' 

'But we cannot practise without making a noise.' 

*I hope not, indeed. Didn't I promise you a big drum?' 

'But in that case the sick man will hear. It will disturb his 
last moments/ 

'Confound the fellow, he can't have everything! If he'd 
asked for peace and quiet, he should have had it. But he didn't : 
he asked for a Dead March. Don't trouble about Fugler. He 's 
not an unreasonable man. The only question is, if the Doctor 
here can keep him going until you 're perfect with the tune.' 

The Looe Die-hards 49 

And this was the question upon which the men of Looe, and 
especially the Die-hards, hung breathless for the next few days. 
M. Trinquier produced his score ; the musicianers came forward 
eagerly; Miller Penrose promised his wagon; the big drum 
arrived from Plymouth in the trader Good Intent^ and was dis- 
charged upon the quay amid enthusiasm. The same afternoon, 
at four o'clock, M. Trinquier opened his first practice in the 
Town Hall, by playing over the air of the 'Dead Marching 
SouP (to this the popular mouth had converted the name) 
upon his cornet, just to give his pupils a general notion of it. 

The day had been a fine one, with just that suspicion of frost 
in the air which indicates winter on the warm south-western 
coast. While the musicians were assembling the Doctor stepped 
across the street to see how the invalid would take it. Fugler 
a sharp-featured man of about fifty, good-looking, with blue 
eyes and a tinge of red in his hair lay on his bed with his 
mouth firmly set and his eyes resting, wistfully almost, on the 
last wintry sunbeam that floated in by the geraniums on the 
window-ledge. He had not heard the news. For five days 
now he expected nothing but the end, and lay and waited for 
it stoically and with calm good temper. 

The Doctor took a seat by the bed-side, and put a question 
or two. They were answered by Mrs. Fugler, who moved 
about the small room quietly, removing, dusting and replacing 
the china ornaments on the chimneypiece. The sick man lay 
still, with his eyes upon the sunbeam. 

And then very quietly and distinctly the notes of M. Trinquier's 
key-bugle rose outside on the frosty air. 

The sick man started, and made as if to raise himself on his 
elbow, but quickly sank back again perhaps from weakness, 
perhaps because he caught the Doctor's eye and the Doctor's 
reassuring nod. While he lay back and listened, a faint flush 
crept into his face, as though the blood ran quicker in his weak 
limbs; and his blue eyes took a new light altogether. 

'That *s the tune, hey?' the Doctor asked. 

50 The Looe Die-hards 

'That's the tune/ 

'Dismal, ain't it?' 

'Ay, it's that.' His fingers were beating time on the 

'That 's our new bandmaster. He 's got to teach it to the 
rest, and you 've got to hold out till they pick it up. Whew! 
I *d no idea music could be so dismal.' 

'Hush 'ee, Doctor, do! till he 've a-done. 'Tis like rain on 
blossom.' The last notes fell. 'Go you down, Doctor, and 
say my duty and will he please play it over once more, and 
Fugler '11 gi'e 'em a run for their money.' 

The Doctor went back to the Town Hall and delivered this 
encore, and M. Trinquier played his solo again; and in the 
middle of it Mr. Fugler dropped off into an easy sleep. 

After this the musicians met every evening, Sundays and 
weekdays, and by the third evening the Doctor was able to 
predict with confidence that Fugler would last out. Indeed, 
the patient was strong enough to be propped up into a sitting 
posture during the hour of practice, and not only listened with 
pleasure to die concerted piece, but beat time with his fingers 
while each instrument went over its part, delivering, at the close 
of each performance, his opinion of it to Mrs. Fugler or the 
Doctor: 'Tripconey's breath's failin'. He don't do no sort 
o' justice by that sarpint.' Or: 'There's Uncle Issy agen! 
He always do come to grief juss there! I reckon a man of 
sixty-odd ought to give up the bass-viol. He ha'n't got the 

On the fifth evening Mrs. Fugler was sent across to the Town 
Hall to ask why the triangle had as yet no share in the per- 
formance, and to suggest that William Henry Phippin's eldest 
boy, Archelaus, played that instrument 'to the life.' M. Trin- 
quier replied that it was unusual to seek the aid of the triangle 
in rendering the Dead March in Saul. Mr. Fugler sent back 
word that, 'if you came to that, the whole thing was unusual, 
from start to finish.' To this M. Trinquier discovered no 

The Looe Die-hards 5 1 

answer; and the triangle was included, to the extreme delight 
of Archelaus Phippin, whose young life had been clouded for 
a week past. 

On the sixth evening, Mr. Fugler announced a sudden fancy 
to 'touch pipe/ 

'Hey?' said the Doctor, opening his eyes. 

'I'd like to tetch pipe. An* let me light the brimstone 
mysel'. I likes to see the little blue flame turn yellow, a-dancin' 
on the baccy/ 

'Get 'n his pipe and baccy, missis/ the Doctor commanded. 
'He may kill himself clean-off now: the band '11 be ready by 
the funeral, anyway/ 

On the three following evenings Mr. Fugler sat up and smoked 
during band practice, the Doctor observing him with a new 
interest. The tenth day, the Doctor was called away to attend 
a child-birth at Downderry. At the conclusion of the cornet 
solo, with which M. Trinquier regularly opened practice, the 
sick man said: 

'Wife, get me out my clothes/ 


'Get me out my clothes/ 

'You 're mad! It '11 be your death/ 

'I don't care: the band's ready. Uncle Issy got his part 
perfect las' night, an' that 's more 'n I ever prayed to hear. 
Get me out my clothes an' help me downstairs/ 

The Doctor was far away. Mrs. Fugler was forced to give 
in. Weeping, and with shaking hands, she dressed him and 
helped him to the foot of the stairs, where she threw open the 
parlour door. 

'No,' he said, 'I'm not goin' in there. I'll be steppin' 
across to the Town Hall. Gi'e me your arm/ 

Thomas Tripconey was rehearsing upon the serpent when 
the door of the Town Hall opened : and the music he made 
died away in a wail, as of a dog whose foot has been trodden on, 
William Henry Phippin's eldest son Archelaus cast his triangle 

52 The Looe Die-hards 

down and shrieked 'Ghosts, ghosts!' Uncle Issy cowered 
behind his bass-viol and put a hand over his eyes. M. Trinquier 
spun round to face the intruder, baton in one hand, cornet in 
the other. 

'Thank 'ee, friends/ said Mr. Fugler, dropping into a seat 
by the door, and catching breath: 'you've got it very suent. 
'Tis a beautiful tune : an* I 'm ha'f ashamed to tell 'ee that I 
bain't a-goin' to die, this time/ 

Nor did he. 

The East and West Looe Volunteer Artillery was disbanded 
a few weeks later, on the last day of the year 1809. The 
Corporations of the Two Boroughs entertained the heroes that 
evening to a complimentary banquet in the East Looe Town 
Hall, and Sergeant Fugler had recovered sufficiently to attend, 
though not to partake. The Doctor made a speech over him, 
proving him by statistics to be the most wonderful member of 
the most wonderful corps in the world. The Doctor granted, 
however at such a moment the Company could make con- 
cessions that the Die-hards had been singularly fortunate in 
the one foeman whom they had been called upon to face. Had 
it not been for a gentleman of France the death-roll of the 
Company had assuredly not stood at zero. He, their surgeon, 
readily admitted this, and gave them a toast, 'The Power of 
Music,' associating with this the name of Monsieur Jean 
Alphonse Marie Trinquier, Director of Periodic Festivities to 
the Municipality of Dieppe. The toast was drunk with accla- 
mation. M. Trinquier responded, expressing his confident 
belief .that two so gallant nations as England and France could 
not long be restrained from flinging down their own arms and 
rushing into each other's. And then followed Captain Pond, 
who, having moved his audience to tears, pronounced the 
Looe Die-hards disbanded. Thereupon, with a gesture full of 
tragic inspiration, he cast his naked blade upon the board. As 
it clanged amid the dishes and glasses, M. Trinquier lifted his 

The Looe Die-hards 53 

arms, and the band crashed out the 'Dead Marching Soul/ follow- 
ing it with God Save the King as the clock announced midnight 
and the birth of the New Year. 

' But hallo ! ' exclaimed Captain Pond, sinking back in his 
chair, and turning towards M. Trinquier. 'I had clean forgot 
that you are our prisoner, and should be sent back to Dart- 
moor! And now the Company is disbanded, and I have no 
one to send as escort/ 

'Monsieur also forgets that my parole expired a fortnight 
since, and that my service from that hour has been a service 
of love!' 

M. Trinquier did not return to Dartmoor. For it happened, 
one dark night early in the following February, that Mr. Fugler 
(now restored to health) set sail for the island of Guernsey 
upon a matter of business. And on the morrow the music- 
master of Dieppe had become but a pleasing memory to the 
inhabitants of the Two Looes. 

And now, should you take up Mr. Thomas Bond's History 
of East and West Looe, and read of the Looe Volunteers that 
'not a single man of the Company died during the six years, 
which is certainly very remarkable/ you will be not utterly 
incredulous; for you will know how it came about. Still, 
when one comes to reflect, it does seem an odd boast for a 
company of warriors. 



KNOW you her secret none can utter? 
Hers of the Book, the tripled Crown ? 
Still on the spire the pigeons flutter, 

Still by the gateway flits the gown; 
Still on the street, from corbel and gutter, 
Faces of stone look down. 

Faces of stone, and stonier faces 

Some from library windows wan 
Forth on her gardens, her green spaces, 

Peer and turn to their books anon. 
Hence, my Muse, from the green oases 

Gather the tent, begone! 

Nay, should she by the pavement linger 
Under the rooms where once she played, 

Who from the feast would rise to fling her 
One poor sou for her serenade ? 

One short laugh for the antic finger 
Thrumming a lute-string frayed ? 

Once, my dear but the world was young then 
Magdalen elms and Trinity limes 

Lissom the blades and the backs that swung then, 
Eight good men in the good old times 

Careless we, and the chorus flung then 
Under St. Mary's chimes! 

Alma Mater 55 

Reins lay loose and the ways led random 
Christ Church meadow and Iffley track, 

'Idleness horrid and dog-cart' (tandem), 
Aylesbury grind and Bicester pack 

Pleasant our lines, and faith! we scanned J em: 
Having that artless knack. 

Come, old limmer, the times grow colder; 

Leaves of the creeper redden and fall. 
Was it a hand then clapped my shoulder? 

Only the wind by the chapel wall! 
Dead leaves drift on the lute ... So, fold her 

Under the faded shawl. 

Never we wince, though none deplore us, 

We who go reaping that we sowed; 
Cities at cock-crow wake before us 

Hey, for the lilt of the London road! 
One look back, and a rousing chorus ! 

Never a palinode ! 

Still on her spire the pigeons hover; 

Still by her gateway haunts the gown. 
Ah! but her secret? You, young lover, 

Drumming her old ones forth from town, 
Know you the secret none discover? 

Tell it whenjcw go down. 

Yet if at length you seek her, prove her, 

Lean to her whispers never so nigh; 
Yet if at last, not less her lover, 

You in your hansom leave the High; 
Down from her towers a ray shall hover 

Touch you, a passer-by! 



O PASTORAL heart of England! like a psalm 
Of green days telling with a quiet beat 
O wave into the sunset flowing calm! 

O tired lark descending on the wheat! 
Lies it all peace beyond that western fold 

Where now the lingering shepherd sees his star 
Rise upon Malvern ? Paints an Age of Gold 
Yon cloud with prophecies of linked ease 
Lulling this land, with hills drawn up like knees, 
To drowse beside her implements of war ? 


Man shall outlast his battles. They have swept 

Avon from Naseby Field to Severn Ham ; 
And Evesham's dedicated stones have stepped 

Down to the dust with Montfort's oriflamme. 
Nor the red tear nor the reflected tower 

Abides; but yet these eloquent grooves remain 
Worn in the sandstone parapet hour by hour 

By labouring bargemen where they shifted ropes. 
E'en so shall man turn back from violent hopes 

To Adam's cheer, and toil with spade again. 

Ode upon Eckington Bridge 57 


Ay, and his mother Nature, to whose lap 

Like a repentant child at length he hies, 
Not in the whirlwind or the thunder-clap 

Proclaims her. more tremendous mysteries: 
But when in winter's grave, bereft of light, 

With still, small voice divinelier whispering 
Lifting the green head of the aconite, 

Feeding with sap of hope the hazel-shoot 
She feels God's finger active at the root, 

Turns in her sleep, and murmurs of the Spring 


THIRTEEN men by Ruan Shore, 
Dolor Oogo, Dolor Oogc 
Drowned men since 'eighty-four, 
Down in Dolor Oogo : 
On the cliff against the sky, 
Ailsa, wife of Malachi 

That cold woman 
Sits and knits eternally. 

By her silent husband's side 

Dolor Oogo, Dolor Oog< 
Stretched awake, she hears the tide 

Moan in Dolor Oogo : 
Till athwart the caster gale 
Hark! the merry dead men hail 

'Thou cold woman, 
Take the lantern from the nail!* 

Rising in her chilly sark 

Dolor Oogo, Dolor Oogo- 
Forth she fares by Behan Pare, 
Out to Dolor Oogo : 
Kneeling there above the brink, 
Lets her long red tresses sink 

That cold woman 
For the sailor-men to drink. 

Dolor Oogo 59 

Then the sailor men beneath 

Dolor Oogo, Dolor Oogo 
Take the ends between their teeth, 

Deep in Dolor Oogo. 
'Lusty blood is this to quaff: 
(So the merry dead men laugh) 

O, cold woman, 
Hath thy man as good by half? ' 

'Drowned men by Ruan Shore 

Dolor Oogo, Dolor Oogo 
Lost aboard the Ehinore 

Down by Dolor Oogo 
If the gulls behind the share 
Yesterday had called ' Beware, 

Thy cold woman!* 
Paler now had been my hair. 

'Socks I knit you each a pair 

Dolor Oogo, Dolor Oogo 
Half of yarn and half of hair, 
Over Dolor Oogo/ 
* Dripping, dripping on the tide, 
What red dye thy hair hath dyed, 

Thou cold woman ? ' 
'It hath brushed upon his side.* 

Knitting with her double thread 

Dolor Oogo, Dolor Oogo 
Half of black and half of red 

Over Dolor Oogo, 
On the cliff against the sky, 
Ailsa, wife of Malachi, 

That cold woman, 
Wipes her hands incessantly. 



Y Talland Church as I did go, 
I passed my kindred all in a row; 

Straight and silent there by the spade 
Each in his narrow chamber laid. 

While I passed, each kinsman's clay 
Stole some virtue of mine away : 

Till my shoes on the muddy road 
Left not a print, so light they trod. 

Back I went to the Bearers* Lane, 
Begged the dead for my own again. 

Answered the eldest one of my line 
'Thy heart was no one's heart but mine/ 

The second claimed my working skill, 
The third my wit, the fourth my will : 

The fifth one said, 'Thy feet I gave; 
But want no fleetness here in the grave.' 

'For feet a man need have no care, 

If they no weight of his own may bear. 

*If I own naught by separate birth, 
What binds my heel e'en now to the earth?' 

The Planted Heel 6 1 

The dead together answered back 
'Naught but the wealth in thy knapsack.' 

'Nay, then,' said I, 'that 's quick to unload': 
And strewed my few pence out on the road. 

' O kinsmen, now be quick, resume 
Each rag of me to its rightful tomb ! ' 

The dead were silent then for a space. 
Still I stood upright in my place. 

Said one, 'Some strength he will yet conceal. 
Belike 'tis pride of a planted heel ? 

'Man has but one perduring pride: 
Of knowledge alone he is justified. 

* Lie down, lie down by us in the sod : 
Thou shalt be wise in the ways of God/ 

'Nay, so I stand upright in the dust, 
I '11 take God's purposes all on trust. 

'An inch of heel for a yard of spine, 
So give me again the goods that are mine!' 

I planted my heel by their headstones, 

And wrestled an hour with my kinsmen's bones. 

I shook their dust thrice into a sieve, 
And gathered all that they had to give. 

I winnowed knowledge out of the heap : 
'Take it/ I said, 'to warm your sleep.' 

62 The Planted Heel 

I cast their knowledge back on the sod, 
And went on my journey, praising God. 

Of all their knowledge I thought me rid : 
But one little grain in my pack had hid. 

Now, as I go, myself I tell, 

'On a planted heel man wrestles well.' 

But that little grain keeps whispering me 
* Better, perhaps, on a planted knee/ 



I SAW Narcissus in a portico 
Leaning his ear toward the yellow bells 
Of his own flower, festooned, that from the shells 
Voluted on the pavement, caught the low 
Long echoes of an Archipelago 
Afar, beyond the pillared parallels 
Wherein a soft wind wound, and nothing else, 
Between his shoulder and the afterglow. 

Figure of bronze! Thou listenest alway: 
Ever for thee that lazy song beguiles. 

But I must wake, and toil again, and pray ; 
And yet will come but rarely, and at whiles, 

The shout and vision of the sea-gods grey, 
Stampeding by the lone Scillonian isles. 


YOU may lift me up in your arms, lad, and turn my face 
to the sun, 
For a last look back at the dear old track where the Jubilee Cup 

was won; 
And draw your chair to my side, lad no, thank ye, I feel no 


For I 'm going out with the tide, lad, but I '11 tell you the tale 

I 'm seventy-nine, or nearly, and my head it has long turned 

But it all comes back as clearly as though it was yesterday 
The dust, and the bookies shouting around the clerk of the scales, 
And the clerk of the course, and the nobs in force, and His 
Highness, the Pr*nce of W*les. 

*Twas a nine-hole thresh to wind'ard, but none of us cared for 

With a straight run home to the service tee, and a finish along 

the flat. 
'Stiff?' Ah, well you may say it! Spot-barred, and at five- 

stone-ten ! 
But at two and a bisque I 'd ha* run the risk ; for I was a green- 

horn then. 

So we stripped to the B. Race signal, the old red swallow-tail 
There was young Ben Bolt, and the Portland Colt, and Aston 

Villa, and Yale; 

And W. G., and Steinitz, Leander, and The Saint, 
And the German Emperor's Meteor, a-looking as fresh as paint; 

The Famous Ballad of the Jubilee Cup 65 

John Roberts (scratch), and Safety Match, The Lascar, and 

Lorna Doone, 
Oom Paul (a bye), and Romany Rye, and me upon Wooden 

And some of us cut for partners, and some of us strung to 

And some of us tossed for stations But there, what use 

to talk? 

Three-quarter-back on the Kingsclere crack was station enough 

for me, 

With a fresh jackyarder blowing and the Vicarage goal a-lee! 
And I leaned and patted her centre-bit, and eased the quid in 

her cheek, 
With a 'Soh, my lass!' and a 'Woa, you brute!' for she could 

do all but speak. 

She was geared a thought too high, perhaps; she was trained a 

trifle fine ; 

But she had the grand reach forward ! / never saw such a line ! 
Smooth-bored, clean-run, from her fiddle head with its dainty 

ear half-cock, 
Hard-bit, pur sang, from her overhang to the heel of her off 

hind sock. 

Sir Robert he walked beside me as I worked her down to the 

'There 's money on this, my lad,' said he, 'and most of 'em 's 

running dark; 
But ease the sheet if you 're bunkered, and pack the scrimmages 

And use your slide at the distance, and we '11 drink to your health 



66 The Famous Ballad of the Jubilee Cup 

But I bent and tightened my stretcher. Said I to myself, said I, 
'John Jones, this here is the Jubilee Cup, and you have to do 

or die/ 
And the words weren't hardly spoken when the umpire shouted 

And we all kicked off from the Gasworks end with a * Yoicks ! ' 

and a 'Gone away!' 

And at first I thought of nothing, as the clay flew by in lumps, 
But stuck to the old Ruy Lopez, and wondered who 'd call for 

And luffed her close to the cushion, and watched each one as 

it broke, 
And in triple file up the Rowley mile we went like a trail of smoke. 

The Lascar made the running : but he didn't amount to much, 
For old Oom Paul was quick on the ball, and headed it back to 

And the whole first flight led off with the right, as The Saint 

took up the pace, 
And drove it clean to the putting green and holed it there with 

an ace. 

John Roberts had given a miss in baulk, but Villa cleared with 

a punt; 
And keeping her service hard and low The Meteor forged to 

the front, 

With Romany Rye to windward at dormy and two to play, 
And Yale close up but a Jubilee Cup isn't run for every day. 

We laid our course for the Warner I tell you the pace was hot! 
And again off Tattenham Corner a blanket covered the lot. 
Check side! Check side! Now steer her wide! and barely an 

inch of room, 
With The Lascar's tail over our lee rail, and brushing Leander's 


The Famous Ballad of the Jubilee Cup 67 

We were running as strong as ever eight knots but it 

couldn't last; 
For the spray and the bails were flying, the whole field tailing 

And the Portland colt had shot his bolt, and Yale was bumped 

at the Doves, 
And The Lascar resigned to Steinitz, stale-mated in fifteen moves. 

It was bellows to mend with Roberts starred three for a 

penalty kick: 
But he chalked his cue and gave 'em the butt, and Oom Paul 

scored the trick 
'Off-side no-ball and at fourteen all! Mark cock! and two 

for his nob!' 
When W. G. ran clean through his lee, and beat him twice 

with a lob. 

He yorked him twice on a crumbling pitch, and wiped his eye 

with a brace, 
But his guy-rope split with the strain of it, and he dropped back 

out of the race; 
And I drew a bead on The Meteor's lead, and challenging none 

too soon, 
Bent over and patted her garboard strake, and called upon 

Wooden Spoon. 

She was all of a shiver forward, the spoondrift thick on her 

But I 'd brought her an easy gambit, and nursed her over the 

She answered her helm the darling! and woke up now with 

a rush, 
While The Meteor's jock he sat like a rock he knew we rode 

for his brush! 

68 The Famous Ballad of the Jubilee Cup 

There was no one else left in it. The Saint was using his 

And Safety Match, with a lofting catch, was pocketed deep at 

And young Ben Bolt with his niblick took miss at Leander's 

But topped the net with the ricochet, and Steinitz threw up the 


But none of the lot could stop the rot nay, don't ask me to 

The Villa had called for lemons, Oom Paul had taken his 

And both were kicking the referee. Poor fellow! he done his 

But, being in doubt, he 'd ruled them out which he always did 

when pressed. 

So, inch by inch, I tightened the winch, and chucked the sand- 
bags out 

I heard the nursery cannons pop, I heard the bookies shout : 

' The Meteor wins!' ' No, Wooden Spoon!' ' Check!' Van- 
tage!' 'Leg before!' 

'Last lap!' 'Pass Nap!' At his saddle-flap I put up the helm 
and wore. 

You may overflap at the saddle-flap, and yet be loo'd on the 
tape : 

And it all depends upon changing ends, how a seven-year-old 
will shape ; 

It was tack and tack to the Lepe and back a fair ding-dong 
to the Ridge, 

And he led by his forward canvas yet as we shot 'neath Hammer- 
smith Bridge. 

The Famous Ballad of the Jubilee Cup 69 

He led by his forward canvas he led from his strongest suit 
But along we went on a roaring scent, and at Fawley I gained 

a foot. 

He fisted off from the throttle, and gave me his wash too late! 
Deuce vantage check! By neck and neck, we rounded into 

the straight. 

I could hear the ' Conquering 'Ero ' a-crashing on Godfrey's band, 
And my hopes fell sudden to zero, just there with the race in 


In sight of the Turf's Blue Ribbon, in sight of the umpire's tape, 
As I felt the tack of her spinnaker crack, as I heard the steam 


Had I lost at that awful juncture my presence of mind? . . . 

but no ! 
I leaned and felt for the puncture, and plugged it there with 

my toe ... 

Hand over hand by the Members' Stand I lifted and eased her up, 
Shot clean and fair to the crossbar there, and landed the 

Jubilee Cup! 

' The odd by a head, and leg before,' so the Judge he gave the 
word : 

And the Umpire shouted * Over ! ' but I neither spoke nor stirred. 

They crowded round : for there on the ground I lay in a dead- 
cold swoon, 

Pitched neck and crop on the turf atop of my beautiful Wooden 

Her dewlap tire was punctured, her bearings all red-hot; 

She 'd a lolling tongue, and her bowsprit sprung, and her running 

gear in a knot; 

And amid the sobs of her backers, Sir Robert loosened her girth 
And led her away to the knacker's. She had raced her last on 


jo The Famous Ballad of the Jubilee Cup 

But I mind me well of the tear that fell from the eye of our noble 

And the things he said as he tucked me in bed and I 've lain 

there ever since ; 

Tho' it all gets mixed up queerly that happened before my spill, 
But I draw my thousand yearly: it '11 pay for the doctor's bill. 

I 'm going out with the tide, lad You '11 dig me a humble grave, 
And whiles you will bring your bride, lad, and your sons (if 

sons you have), 
And there, when the dews are weeping, and the echoes murmur 

And the salt, salt tide comes creeping and covers the popping- 


In the hour when the ducks deposit their eggs with a boasted 

They '11 look and whisper 'How was it?' and you '11 take them 

over the course, 
And your voice will break as you try to speak of the glorious 

first of June, 
When the Jubilee Cup, with John Jones up, was won upon 

Wooden Spoon. 


WHO lives in suit of armour pent 
And hides himself behind a wall, 
For him is not the great event, 

The garland nor the Capitol. 
And is God's guerdon less than they? 
Nay, moral man, I tell thee Nay : 
Nor shall the flaming forts be won 
By sneaking negatives alone, 

By Lenten fast or Ramazan ; 
But by the challenge proudly thrown 

Virtue is that becrowns a Man / 

God, in His Palace resident 

Of Bliss, beheld our sinful ball, 
And charged His own Son innocent 

Us to redeem from Adam's fall. 
'Yet must it be that men Thee slay/ 
'Yea, tho' it must, must I obey/ 
Said Christ; and came, His royal Son, 
To die, and dying to atone 

For harlot, thief, and publican. 
Read on that rood He died upon 

Virtue is that becrowns a Man ! 

Beneath that rood where He was bent 

I saw the world's great captains all 
Pass riding home from tournament 

Adown the road from Roncesvalles 
Lord Charlemagne, in one array 
Lords Caesar, Cyrus, Attila, 
Lord Alisaundre of Macedon . . . 
With flame on lance and habergeon 

They passed, and to the rataplan 
Of drums gave salutation 

' Virtue is that becrowns a Man /' 

72 Chant Royal of High Virtue 

Had tall Achilles lounged in tent 

For aye, and Xanthus neigh'd in stall, 
The towers of Troy had ne'er been shent, 

Nor stay'd the dance in Priam's hall. 
Bend o'er thy book till thou be grey, 
Read, mark, perpend, digest, survey, 
Instruct thee deep as Solomon, 
One only chapter thou shalt con, 

One lesson learn, one sentence scan, 
One title and one colophon 

Virtue is that becrowns a Man ! 

High Virtue's hest is eloquent 

With spur and not with martingall : 
Swear not to her thou 'rt continent : 


God fashion'd thee of chosen clay 
For service, nor did ever say, 
'Deny thee this,' 'Abstain from yon,' 
But to inure thee, thew and bone, 

To be confirmed of the clan 
That made immortal Marathon 

Virtue is that becrowns a Man ! 


Young Knight, the lists are set to-day! 
Hereafter shall be time to pray 
In sepulture, with hands of stone. 
Ride, then! outride the bugle blown! 

And gaily dinging down the van 
Charge with a cheer 'Set on / Set on ! 

Virtue is that becrowns a Man /' 


t~ I f HE King sits in Dunfermline toun 

JL Drinking the blude-red wine : 
' O wha will rear me an equilateral triangle 
Upon a given straight line?' 

O up and spake an eldern knight, 
Sat at the King's right knee 

* Of a' the clerks by Granta side 
Sir Patrick bears the gree. 

"Tis he was taught by the Tod-hunte*re 

Tho' not at the tod-huntfng ; 
Yet gif that he be given a line, 

He '11 do as brave a thing.' 

Our Bang has written a braid letter 
To Cambrigge or thereby, 

And there it found Sir Patrick Spens 
Evaluating TT. 


74 4 New Ballad of Sir Patrick Spens 

He hadna warked his quotient 
A point but barely three, 

There stepped to him a little foot-page 
And louted on his knee. 

The first word that Sir Patrick read, 
'Plus x 9 was a' he said: 

The neist word that Sir Patrick read, 
'Twas 'plus expenses paid/ 

The last word that Sir Patrick read, 
The tear blinded his e'e : 

'The pound I most admire is not 
In Scottish currencie.' 

Stately stepped he east the wa', 
And stately stepped he north : 

He fetched a compass frae his ha* 
And stood beside the Forth. 

Then gurly grew the waves o' Forth, 
And gurlier by-and-by 

* O never yet was sic a storm, 
Yet it isna sic as I!' 

Syne he has crost the Firth o' Forth 
Until Dunfermline toun; 

And tho' he came with a kittle wame 
Fu* low he louted doun. 

'A line, a line, a gude straight line, 
O King, purvey me quick! 

And see it be of thilka kind 
That 's neither braid nor thick.* 

A New Ballad of Sir Patrick Spens 75 

'Nor thick nor braid?' King Jamie said, 

'I '11 eat my gude hat-band 
If arra line as ye define 

Be found in our Scotland.' 

'Tho' there be nane in a' thy rule, 

It sail be ruled by me' ; 
And lichtly with his little pencil 

He 's ruled the line A B. 

Stately stepped he east the wa', 

And stately stepped he west; 
'Ye touch the button,' Sir Patrick said, 

'And I sail do the rest.' 

And he has set his compass foot 

Untill the centre A, 
From A to B he 's stretched it oot 

' Ye Scottish carles, give way ! ' 

Syne he has moved his compass foot 

Untill the centre B, 
From B to A he 's stretched it oot, 

And drawn it viz-a-vee. 

The tane circle was BCD, 

And A C E the tither: 
'I rede ye well,' Sir Patrick said, 

'They interseck ilk ither. 

'See here, and whaur they interseck 

To wit, with yon point C 
Ye '11 just obsairve that I conneck 

The twa points A and B. 

76 A New Ballad of Sir Patrick Spens 

'And there ye have a little triangle 
As bonny as e'er was seen ; 

The whilk is not isosceles, 
Nor yet it is scalene.' 

' The proof! the proof! ' King Jamie cried : 
'The how and eke the why!' 

Sir Patrick laughed within his beard 
' 'Tis ex hypothesi 

'When I ligg'd in my mither's wame, 

I learn'd it frae my mither, 
That things was equal to the same, 

Was equal ane to t'ither. 

'Sith in the circle first I drew 

The lines B A, B C, 
Be radii true, I wit to you 

The baith maun equal be. 

'Likewise and in the second circle, 

Whilk I drew widdershins, 
It is nae skaith the radii baith, 

A B, A C, be twins. 

'And sith of three a pair agree 

That ilk suld equal ane, 
By certes they maun equal be 

Ilk unto ilk by-lane.' 

'Now by my faith!' King Jamie saith, 

' What plane geometric! 
If only Potts had written in Scots, 

How loocid Potts wad be!' 

A New Ballad of Sir Patrick Spens 77 

'Now wow 's my life!' said Jamie the King, 

And the Scots lords said the same, 
For but it was that envious knicht, 

Sir Hughie o' the Graeme. 

' Flim-flam, flim-flam V and 'Ho indeed?' 

Quod Hughie o' the Graeme; 
' 'Tis I could better upon my heid 

This prabblin prablem-game.' 

Sir Patrick Spens was nothing laith 

When as he heard 'flim-flam/ 
But syne he 's ta'en a silken claith 

And wiped his diagram. 

' Gif my small feat may better'd be, 

Sir Hew, by thy big head, 
What I hae done with an A B C 

Do thou with X Y Z.' 

Then sairly sairly swore Sir Hew, 

And loudly laucht the King; 
But Sir Patrick tuk the pipes and blew, 

And played that eldritch thing! 

He 's play'd it reel, he 's played it jig, 

And the baith alternative; 
And he 's danced Sir Hew to the Asses' Brigg, 

That 's Proposetion Five. 

And there they 've met, and there they 've fet, 

Forenenst the Asses' Brigg, 
And waefu', waefu', was the fate 

That gar'd them there to ligg. 

78 A New Ballad of Sir Patrick Spens 

For there Sir Patrick 's slain Sir Hew, 
And Sir Hew Sir Patrick Spens 

Now wasna' that a fine to-do 
For Euclid's Elemen's? 

But let us sing Long live the King! 

And his foes the Deil attend 'em : 
For he has gotten his little triangle 

Quod erat faciendum ! 


*HERE arrives a day towards the end of October or with 
JL luck we may tide over into November when the wind in 
the mainsail suddenly takes a winter force, and we begin to talk 
of laying up the boat. Hitherto we have kept a silent compact 
and ignored all change in the season. We have watched the 
blue afternoons shortening, fading through lilac into grey, and 
let pass their scarcely perceptible warnings. One afternoon a 
few kitti wakes appeared. A week later the swallows fell to 
stringing themselves like beads along the coastguard's telephone- 
wire on the hill. They vanished, and we pretended not to miss 
them. When our hands grew chill with steering we rubbed 
them by stealth or stuck them nonchalantly in our pockets. But 
this vicious unmistakable winter gust breaks the spell. We take 
one look around the harbour, at the desolate buoys awash and 
tossing; we cast another seaward at the thick weather through 
which, in a week at latest, will come looming the earliest of the 
Baltic merchantmen, our November visitors bluff vessels with 
red-painted channels, green deckhouses, white top-strakes, 
wooden davits overhanging astern, and the Danish flag flutter- 
ing aloft in the haze. Then we find speech; and with us, as 
with the swallows, the move into winter quarters is not long 
delayed when once it comes into discussion. We have dis- 
sembled too long; and know, as we go through, the form of 
debating it, that our date must be the next spring-tides. 

This ritual of laying up the boat is our way of bidding fare- 
well to summer; and we go through it, when the day comes, in 
ceremonial silence. Favete linguist The hour helps us, for 
the spring-tides at this season reach their height a little after 
night-fall, and it is on an already slackening flood that we cast 
off our moorings and head up the river with our backs to the 
waning sunset. Since we tow a dinghy astern and are ourselves 


8o Laying up the Boat 

towed by the silent yachtsman, you may call it a procession. 
She has been stripped, during the last two days, of sails, rigging, 
and all spars but the mainmast. Now we bring her alongside 
the town quay and beneath the shears the abhorred shears 
which lift this too out of its step, dislocated with a creak as 
poignant as the cry of Polydorus. We lower it, lay it along the 
deck, and resume our way; past quay doors and windows where 
already the townsfolk are beginning to light their lamps ; and so 
by the jetties where foreign crews rest with elbows on bulwarks 
and stare down upon us idly through the dusk. She is after all 
but a little cutter of six tons, and we might well apologize, like 
the Athenian, for so diminutive a corpse. But she is our own ; 
and they never saw her with jackyarder spread, or spinnaker or 
jib-topsail delicate as samite those heavenly wings! nor felt 
her gallant spirit straining to beat her own record before a tense 
northerly breeze. Yet even to them her form, in pure white 
with gilt fillet, might tell of no common obsequies. 

For in every good ship the miracle of Galatea is renewed; 
and the shipwright who sent this keel down the ways to her 
element surely beheld the birth of a goddess. He still speaks 
of her with pride, but the conditions of his work keep him a 
modest man; for he goes about it under the concentred gaze of 
half a dozen old mariners hauled ashore, who haunt his yard 
uninvited, slow of speech but deadly critical. Nor has the 
language a word for their appalling candour. Often, admiring 
how cheerfully he tolerates them, I have wondered what it 
would feel like to compose a novel under the eyes of half a dozen 
reviewers. But to him, as to his critics, the ship was a frame- 
work only until the terrible moment when with baptism she took 
life. Did he in the rapture, the brief ecstasy of creation, realize 
that she had passed from him ? Ere the local artillery band had 
finished Rule, Britannia! and while his friends were still shaking 
his hands and drinking to him, did he know his loss in his 
triumph ? His fate is to improve the world, not to possess ; to 
chase perfection, knowing that under the final mastering touch 

Laying up the Boat 81 

it must pass from his hand; to lose his works and anchor himself 
upon the workmanship, the immaterial function. For of art 
this is the cross and crown in one; and he, modest man, was 
born to the sad eminence. 

She is ours now by purchase, but ours, too, by something 
better. Like a slave's her beautiful untaught body came to us ; 
but it was we who gave wings to her, and with wings a soul, 
and a law to its grace, and discipline to its vital impulses. She 
is ours, too, by our gratitude, since the delicate machine 

Has like a woman given up its joy; 

and by memories of her helpfulness in such modest perils as we 
tempt, of her sweet companionship through long days empty 
of annoyance land left behind with its striving crowds, its 
short views, its idols of the market-place, its sordid worries; 
the breast flung wide to the horizon, swept by wholesome salt 
airs, void perhaps, but so beatifically clean! Then it was that 
we learned her worth, drinking in the knowledge without effort, 
lulled hour after hour by her whisperings which asked for no 
answer, by the pulse of her tiller soft against the palm. Patter 
of reef-points, creak of cordage, hum of wind, hiss of brine 
I think at times that she has found a human language. Who that 
has ever steered for hours together cannot report of a mysterious 
voice * breaking the silence of the seas,' as though a friend were 
standing and speaking astern ? or has not turned his head to the 
confident inexplicable call? The fishermen fable of drowned 
sailors 'hailing their names.' But the voice is of a single 
speaker; it bears no likeness to the hollow tones of the dead; 
it calls no name; it utters no particular word. It merely speaks. 
Sometimes, ashamed at being tricked by an illusion so absurd, 
I steal a glance at the yachtsman forward. He is smoking, 
placidly staring at the clouds. Patently he was not the speaker, 
and patently he has heard nothing. Was it Cynthia, my dearer 
shipmate? She, too, knows the voice; even answered it one 
day, supposing it mine, and in her confusion I surprised our 

82 Laying up the Boat 

common secret. But we never hear it together. She is seated 
now on the lee side of the cockpit, her hands folded on the 
coaming, her chin rested on them, and her eyes gazing out beneath 
the sail and across the sea from which they surely have drawn 
their wine-coloured glooms. She has not stirred for many 
minutes. No, it was not Cynthia. Then either it must be the 
wild, obedient spirit who carries us, straining at the impassable 
bar of speech, to break through and be at one with her master, 
or else Can it have been Ariel, perched aloft in the shrouds, 
with mischievous harp? 

That was the chirp of Ariel 
You heard, as overhead it flew, 
The farther going more to dwell 
And wing our green to wed our blue ; 
But whether note of joy or knell 
Not his own Father-singer knew; 
Nor yet can any mortal tell, 
Save only how it shivers through ; 
The breast of us a sounded shell, 
The blood of us a lighted dew. 

Perhaps; but for my part I believe it was the ship; and if you 
deride my belief, I shall guess you one of those who need a 
figure-head to remind them of a vessel's sex. There are minds 
which find a certain romance in figure-heads. To me they seem 
a frigid, unintelligent device, not to say idolatrous. I have 
known a crew to set so much store by one that they kept a tinsel 
locket and pair of ear-rings in the forecastle and duly adorned 
their darling when in port. But this is materialism. The true 
personality of a ship resides in no prefiguring lump of wood 
with a sightless smile to which all seas come alike and all 
weathers. Lay your open palm on the mast, rather, and feel 
life pulsing beneath it, trembling through and along every nerve 
of her. Are you converted? That life is yours to control. 
Take the tiller, then, and for an hour be a god! for indeed 
you shall be a god, and of the very earliest. The centuries shall 

Laying up the Boat 83 

run out with the chain as you slip moorings run out and drop 
from you, plumb, and leave you free, winged! Or if you 
cannot forget in a moment the times to which you were born, 
each wave shall turn back a page as it rolls past to break on the 
shore towards which you revert no glance. Even the romance 
of it shall fade with the murmur of that coast. 

Sails of silk and ropes of sendal, 

Such as gleam in ancient lore, 
And the singing of the sailor, 

And the answer from the shore 

these shall pass and leave you younger than romance a child 
open-eyed and curious, pleased to meet a sea-parrot or a rolling 
porpoise, or to watch the gannets diving 

As Noah saw them dive 
O'er sunken Ararat. 

Yes, and sunset shall bring you, a god, to the gates of a kingdom 
I must pause to describe for you, though when you reach it 
you will forget my description and imagine yourself its first 
discoverer. But that is a part of its charm. 

Walter Pater, reading the Odyssey y was brought up (as we say) 
'with a round turn' by a passage wherein Homer describes 
briefly and with accuracy how some mariners came to harbour, 
took down sail, and stepped ashore. It filled him with wonder 
that so simple an incident nor to say ordinary could be made 
so poetical; and, having pondered it, he divided the credit 
between the poet and his fortunate age a time (said he) in 
which one could hardly have spoken at all without ideal effect, 
or the sailors pulled down their sail without making a picture 
'in the great style* against a sky charged with marvels. 

You will discover, when you reach the river-mouth of which 
I am telling, and are swept over the rolling bar into quiet water 
you will discover (and with ease, being a god) that Mr. Pater 
was entirely mistaken, and the credit belongs neither to Homer 

84 Laying up the Boat 

nor to his fortunate age. For here are woods with woodlanders, 
and fields with ploughmen, and beaches with fishermen hauling 
nets ; and all these men, as they go about their work, contrive 
to make pictures 'in the great style* against a sky charged with 
marvels, obviously without any assistance from Homer, and 
quite as if nothing had happened for, say, the last three thousand 
years. That the immemorial craft of seafaring has no specially 
'heroic age' or that, if it have, that age is yours you will 
discover by watching your own yachtsman as he moves about 
lowering foresail and preparing to drop anchor. 

It is a river of gradual golden sunsets, such as Wilson painted 
a broad-bosomed flood between deep and tranquil woods, the 
main banks holding here and there a village as in an arm 
maternally crook'd, but opening into creeks where the oaks dip 
their branches in the high tides, where the stars are glassed all 
night long without a ripple, and where you may spend whole 
days with no company but herons and sandpipers. Even by 
the main river each separate figure the fisherman on the shore, 
the ploughman on the upland, the ferryman crossing between 
them moves slowly upon a large landscape, while, permeating 
all, 'the essential silence cheers and blesses.' After a week at 
anchor in the heart of this silence Cynthia and I compared notes, 
and set down the total population at fifty souls ; and even so she 
would have it that I had included the owls. Lo! the next 
morning an unaccustomed rocking awoke us in our berths, and, 
raising the flap of our dew-drenched awning, we 'descried at 
sunrise an emerging prow' of a peculiarly hideous excursion 
steamboat. She blew no whistle, and we were preparing to 
laugh at her grotesque temerity when we became aware of a 
score of boats putting out towards her from the shadowy banks. 
Like spectres they approached, reached her, and discharged their 
complements, until at last a hundred and fifty passengers crowded 
her deck. In silence or in such silence as a paddle-boat can 
achieve she backed, turned, and bore them away: on what 
festal errand we never discovered. We never saw them return. 

Laying up the Boat 85 

They raised no cheer; no band accompanied them; they passed 
without even the faint hum of conversation. In five minutes 
at most the apparition had vanished around the river-bend sea- 
wards and out of sight. We stared at the gently heaving water, 
turned, and caught sight of Euergetes, his head and red cap 
above the forecastle hatch. (I call our yachtsman Euergetes 
because it is so unlike his real name that neither he nor his 
family will recognize it.) ' Why, Euergetes,' exclaimed Cynthia, 
* wherever did they all come from?' 'I 'm sure I can't tell you, 
ma'am,' he answered, 'unless 'twas from the woods' giving 
us to picture these ardent holiday-makers roosting all night in 
the trees while we slumbered. But the odd thing was that the 
labourers manned the fields that day, the fishermen the beach 
that evening, in undiminished numbers. We landed, and could 
detect no depletion in the village. We landed on subsequent 
days, and discovered no increase. And the inference, though 
easy, was startling. 

I suppose that 'in the great style' could hardly be predicated 
of our housekeeping on these excursions ; and yet it achieves, 
in our enthusiastic opinion, a primitive elegance not often recap- 
tured by mortals since the passing of the Golden Age. We 
cook for ourselves, but bring a fine spirit of emulation both to 
cuisine and service. We dine frugally, but the claret is sound. 
From the moment when Euergetes awakes us by washing down 
the deck, and the sound of water rushing through the scuppers 
calls me forth to discuss the weather with him, method rules the 
early hours, that we may be free to use the later as we list. 
First the cockpit beneath the awning must be prepared as a 
dressing-room for Cynthia ; next Euergetes summoned on deck 
to valet me with the simple bucket. And when I am dressed 
and tingling from the douche, and sit me down on the cabin top, 
barefooted and whistling, to clean the boots, and Euergetes has 
been sent ashore for milk and eggs, bread and clotted cream, 
there follows a peaceful half-hour until Cynthia flings back a 
corner of the awning and, emerging, confirms the dawn. Then 

86 Laying up the Boat 

begins the business, orderly and thorough, of redding up the 
cabin, stowing the beds, washing out the lower deck, folding 
away the awning, and transforming the cockpit into a breakfast- 
room, with table neatly set forth. Meanwhile Euergetes has 
returned, and from the forecastle comes the sputter of red 
mullet cooking. Cynthia clatters the cups and saucers, while 
in the well by the cabin door I perform some acquired tricks 
with the new-laid eggs. There is plenty to be done on board 
a small boat, but it is all simple enough. Only, you must not 
let it overtake you. Woe to you if it fall into arrears! 

By ten o'clock or thereabouts we have breakfasted, my pipe 
is lit, and a free day lies before us: 

All the wood to ransack, 
All the wave explore. 

We take the dinghy and quest after adventures. The nearest 
railway lies six miles off, and is likely to deposit no one in whom 
we have the least concern. The woods are deep, we carry our 
lunch-basket and may roam independent of taverns. If the 
wind invite, we can hoist our small sail ; if not, we can recline 
and drift and stare at the heavens, or land and bathe, or search 
in vain for curlews' or kingfishers' nests, or in more energetic 
moods seek out a fisherman and hire him to shoot his seine. 
Seventy red mullet have I seen fetched at one haul out of those 
delectable waters, remote and enchanted as the lake whence the 
fisherman at the genie's orders drew fish for the young king of 
the Black Isles. But such days as these require no filling, and 
why should I teach you how to fill them? 

Best hour of all perhaps is that before bed-time, when the 
awning has been spread once more, and after long hours in the 
open our world narrows to the circle of the reading-lamp in 
the cockpit. Our cabin is prepared. Through the open door we 
see its red curtain warm in the light of the swinging lamp, the 
Beds laid, the white sheets turned back. Still we grudge these 
moments to sleep. Outside we hear the tide streaming sea- 

Laying up the Boat 87 

wards, light airs play beneath the awning, above it rides the 
host of heaven. And here, gathered into a few square feet, we 
have home larder, cellar, library, tables, and cupboards ; life's 
small appliances with the human comradeship they serve, chosen 
for their service after severely practical discussion, yet ultimately 
by the heart's true nesting instinct. We are isolated, bound 
even to this strange river-bed by a few fathoms of chain only. 
To-morrow we can lift anchor and spread wing; but we carry 
home with us. 

I will make you brooches and toys for your delight 
Of bird-song at morning and star-shine at night; 
I will make a palace fit for you and me 
Of green days in forests and blue days at sea. 

I will make my kitchen and you shall keep your room 
Where white flows the river and bright blows the broom ; 
And you shall wash your linen and keep your body white 
In rainfall at morning and dewfall at night. 

You see now what memories we lay up with the boat. Will 
you think it ridiculous that after such royal days of summer, 
her inconspicuous obsequies have before now put me in mind of 
Turner's 'Fighting Temeraire'? I declare, at any rate, that the 
fault lies not with me, but with our country's painters and poets 
for providing no work of art nearer to my mood. We English 
have a great seafaring and a great poetical past. Yet the magic 
of the sea and shipping has rarely touched our poetry, and for 
its finest expression we must still turn to an art in which as a 
race we are less expert, and stand before that picture of Turner's 
in the National Gallery. The late Mr. Froude believed in a 
good time coming when the sea-captains of Elizabeth are to find 
their bard and sit enshrined in 'a great English national epic as 
grand as the Odyssey.' It may be, but as yet our poets have 
achieved but a few sea-fights, marine adventures, and occasional 
pieces, which wear a spirited but accidental look, and suggest 

88 Laying up the Boat 

the excursionist. On me, at any rate, no poem in our language 
not even The Ancient Mariner binds as that picture binds, the 

Mystic spell, 

Which none but sailors know or feel, 
And none but they can tell 

if indeed they can tell. In it Turner seized and rolled together 
in one triumphant moment the emotional effect of noble shipping 
and a sentiment as ancient and profound as the sea itself human 
regret for transitory human glory. The great warship, glim- 
mering in her Mediterranean fighting-paint, moving like a queen 
to execution; the pert and ignoble tug, itself an emblem of the 
new order, eager, pushing, ugly, and impatient of the slow 
loveliness it supersedes; the sunset hour, closing man's labour; 
the fading river-reach you may call these things obvious, but 
all art's greatest effects are obvious when once genius has dis- 
covered them. I should know well enough by this time what 
is coming when I draw near that picture, and yet my heart never 
fails to leap with the old wild wonder. There are usually one 
or two men standing before it I observe that it affects women 
less and I glance at them furtively to see how they take it. 
If ever I surprise one with tears in his eyes, I believe we shall 
shake hands. And why not? For the moment we are not 
strangers, but men subdued by the wonder and sadness of our 
common destiny: 'we feel that we are greater than we know.' 
We are two Englishmen, in one moment realizing the glories 
of our blood and state. We are alone together, gazing upon 
a new Pacific, 'silent, upon a peak in Darien.' 

For and here lies his subtlety in the very flush of amaze- 
ment the painter flatters you by whispering that for you has his 
full meaning been reserved. The Temeraire goes to her doom 
unattended, twilit, obscure, with no pause in the dingy bustle 
of the river. You alone have eyes for the passing of greatness, 
and a heart to feel it. 

There 's a far bell ringing, 

Laying up the Boat 89 

but you alone hear it tolling to evensong, to the close of day, 
the end of deeds. 

So, as we near the beach where she is to lie, a sense of proud 
exclusiveness mingles with our high regret. Astern the jetty- 
men and stevedores are wrangling over their latest job; trains 
are shunting, cranes working, trucks discharging their cargoes 
amid clouds of dust. We and we only assist at the passing of a 
goddess. Euergetes rests on his oars, the tow-rope slackens, 
she glides into the deep shadow of the shore, and with a soft 
grating noise ah, the eloquence of it ! takes ground. Silently 
we carry her chain out and noose it about a monster elm ; silently 
we slip the legs under her channels, lift and make fast her stern 
moorings, lash the tiller for the last time, tie the coverings over 
cabin top and well ; anxiously, with closed lips, praetermitting 
no due rite. An hour, perhaps, passes, and November darkness 
has settled on the river ere we push off our boat, in a last farewell 
committing her our treasure 'locked up, not lost 5 to a winter 
over which Jove shall reign genially 

Et fratres Helenae, lucida sidera. 

As we thread our dim way homeward among the riding-lights 
flickering on the black water, the last pale vision of her alone 
and lightless follows and reminds me of the dull winter ahead, 
the short days, the long nights. She is haunting me yet as I 
land on the wet slip strewn with dead leaves to the tide's edge. 
She follows me up the hill, and even to my library door. 
I throw it open, and lo! a bright fire burning, and, smiling 
over against the blaze of it, cheerful, companionable, my books 
have been awaiting me. 


OTHE Harbour of Fdwey 
Is a beautiful spot, 
And it 's there I enjowey 

To sail in a yot; 
Or to race in a yacht 

Round a mark or a buoy 
Such a beautiful spacht 

Is the Harbour of Fuoy ! 

When her anchor is weighed 

And the water she ploughs, 
Upon neat lemoneighed 

O it 's then I caroughs ; 
And I take Watts's hymns 

And I sing them aloud 
When it 's homeward she skymns 

O'er the waters she ploud. 

But the wave mountain-high, 

And the violent storm, 
Do I risk them? Not Igh! 

But prefer to sit worm 
With a book on my knees 

By the library fire, 
While I list to the brees 

Rising hire and hire. 

And so, whether I weigh 

Up the anchor or not, 
I am happy each deigh 

In my home or my yot ; 
Every care I resign, 

Every comfort enjoy, 
In this cottage of mign 

By the Harbour of Foy. 

The Harbour ofFowey 91 

And my leisure 's addressed 

To composing of verse 
Which, if hardly the bessed, 

Might be easily werse. 
And, the spelling I use 

Should the critics condemn, 
Why, I have my own vuse 

And I don't think of themn. 

Yes, I have my own views : 

But the teachers I follow 
Are the Lyrical Miews 

And the Delphic Apollow. 
Unto them I am debtor 

For spelling and rhyme, 
And I *m doing it bebtor 

And bebtor each thyme. 



A LATE hansom came swinging round the corner into 
Lennox Gardens, cutting it so fine that the near wheel 
ground against the kerb and jolted the driver in his little seat. 
The jingle of bells might have warned me; but the horse's hoofs 
came noiselessly on the half-frozen snow, which lay just deep 
enough to hide where the pavement ended and the road began ; 
and, moreover, I was listening to the violins behind the first- 
floor windows of the house opposite. They were playing the 
Wiener Blitt. 

As it was, I had time enough and no more to skip back and 
get my toes out of the way. The cabby cursed me. I cursed 
him back so promptly and effectively that he had to turn in his 
seat for another shot. The windows of the house opposite let 
fall their light across his red and astonished face. I laughed, 
and gave him another volley. My head was hot, though my 
feet and hands were cold ; and I felt equal to cursing down any 
cabman within the four-mile radius. That second volley 
finished him. He turned to his reins again and was borne 
away defeated ; the red eyes of his lamps peering back at me 
like an angry ferret's. 

Up in the lighted room shadows of men and women crossed 
the blinds, and still the Wiener Blut went forward. 

The devil was in that waltz. He had hold of the violins and 
was weaving the air with scents and visions visions of Ascot 
and Henley; green lawns, gay sunshades, midsummer heat, cool 
rivers flowing, muslins rippled by light breezes ; running horses 
and silken jackets; white tables heaped with roses and set with 
silver and crystal, jewelled fingers moving in the soft candle- 
light, bare necks bending, diamonds, odours, bubbles in the 
wine; blue water and white foam beneath the leaning shadow 


The Room of Minors 93 

of sails; hot air flickering over stretches of moorland; blue 
again Mediterranean blue long facades, the din of bands and 
King Carnival parading beneath showers of blossom : and all 
this noise and warmth and scent and dazzle flung out into the 
frozen street for a beggar's portion. I had gone under. 

The door of the house opposite had been free to me once 
and not six months ago ; freer to me perhaps than to any other. 
Did I long to pass behind it again ? I thrust both hands into 
my pockets for warmth, and my right hand knocked against 
something hard. Yes . . . just once. . . . 

Suddenly the door opened. A man stood on the threshold 
for a moment while the butler behind him arranged the collar 
of his fur overcoat. The high light in the portico flung the 
shadows of both down the crimson carpet laid on the entrance 
steps. Snow had fallen and covered the edges of the carpet, 
which divided it like a cascade of blood pouring from the hall 
into the street. And still overhead the Wiener Blut went 

The man paused in the bright portico, his patent-leather 
boots twinkling under the lamp's rays on that comfortable 
carpet. I waited, expecting him to whistle for a hansom. But 
he turned, gave an order to the butler, and stepping briskly 
down into the street, made off eastwards. The door closed 
behind him. He was the man I most hated in the world. If 
I had longed to cross the threshold a while back it was to seek 
him, and for no other reason. 

I started to follow him, my hands still in my pockets. The 
snow muffled our footfalls completely, for as yet the slight 
north-east wind had frozen but the thinnest crust of it. He 
was walking briskly, as men do in such weather, but with no 
appearance of hurry. At the corner of Sloane Street he halted 
under a lamp, pulled out his watch, consulted it, and lit a 
cigarette; then set off again up the street towards Knightsbridge. 

This halt of his had let me up within twenty paces of him. 
He never turned his head ; but went on, presenting me his back, 

94 The Room of Mirrors 

a target not to be missed. Why not do it now? Better now 
and here than in a crowded thoroughfare. My right hand 
gripped the revolver more tightly. No, there was plenty of 
time: and I was curious to know what had brought Gervase 
out at this hour: why he had left his guests, or his wife's guests, 
to take care of themselves : why he chose to be trudging afoot 
through this infernally unpleasant snow. 

The roadway in Sloane Street was churned into a brown 
mass like chocolate, but the last bus had rolled home and left 
it to freeze in peace. Half-way up the street I saw Gervase 
meet and pass a policeman, and altered my own pace to a 
lagging walk. Even so, the fellow eyed me suspiciously as I 
went by or so I thought: and guessing that he kept a watch 
on me, I dropped still farther behind my man. But the lamps 
were bright at the end of the street, and I saw him turn to the 
right by the great drapery shop at the corner. 

Once past this corner I was able to put on a spurt. He 
crossed the roadway by the Albert Gate, and by the time he 
reached the Park railings the old distance separated us once 
more. Half-way up the slope he came to a halt, by the stone 
drinking-trough : and flattening myself against the railings, I 
saw him try the thin ice in the trough with his finger-tips, but in 
a hesitating way, as if his thoughts ran on something else and he 
scarcely knew what he did or why he did it. It must have 
been half a minute before he recovered himself with a shrug of 
his shoulders, and plunging both hands deep in his pockets, 
resumed his pace. 

As we passed Hyde Park Corner I glanced up at the clock 
there : the time was between a quarter and ten minutes to one. 
At the entrance of Down Street he turned aside again, and began 
to lead me a zigzag dance through the quiet thoroughfare : and 
I followed,* still to the tune of the Wiener Slut. 

But now, at the corner of Charles Street, I blundered against 
another policeman, who flashed his lantern in my face, stared 
after Gervase, and asked me what my game was. I demanded 

The Room of Mirrors 95 

innocently enough to be shown the nearest way to Oxford 
Street, and the fellow, after pausing a moment to chew his 
suspicions, walked with me slowly to the south-west corner of 
Berkeley Square, and pointed northwards. 

'That's your road,' he growled, 'straight on. And don't 
you forget it!' 

He stood and watched me on my way. Nor did I dare to 
turn aside until well clear of the square. At the crossing of 
Davies and Grosvenor Streets, however, I supposed myself 
safe, and halted for a moment. 

From the shadow of a porch at my elbow a thin voice 
accosted me. 

'Kind gentleman ' 

'Heh?' I spun round on her sharply: for it was a woman, 
stretching out one skinny hand and gathering her rags together 
with the other. 

'Kind gentleman, spare a copper! I 've known better days 
I have indeed.' 

'Well,' said I, 'as it happens, I'm in the same case. And 
they couldn't be much worse, could they?' 

She drew a shuddering breath back through her teeth, but 
still held out her hand. I felt for my last coin, and her fingers 
closed on it so sharply that their long nails scraped the back 
of mine. 

'Kind gentleman ' 

'Ay, they are kind, are they not?' 

She stared at me, and in a nerveless note let one horrible 
oath escape her. 

'There '11 be one less before morning,' said I, 'if that 's any 
consolation to you. Good night!' Setting off at a shuffling 
run, I doubled back along Grosvenor Street and Bond Street to 
the point where I hoped to pick up the trail again. And just 
there, at the issue of Bruton Street, two constables stood 
ready for me. 

'I thought as much,' said the one who set me on my way. 

96 The Room of Mirrors 

*Hi, you! Wait a moment, please'; then to the other, 'Best 
turn his pockets out, Jim/ 

'If you dare to try ' I began, with my hand in my pocket; 

the next moment I found myself sprawling face downward on 
the sharp crust of snow. 

'Hallo, constables!' said a voice. 'What's the row?' It 
was Gervase. He had turned leisurely back from the slope 
of Conduit Street, and came strolling down the road with his 
hands in his pockets. 

'This fellow, sir we have reason to think he was followin' 

'Quite right,' Gervase answered cheerfully. 'Of course he 

' Oh, if you knew it, sir ' 

'Certainly I knew it. In fact, he was following at my 

'What for did he tell me a lie, then?' grumbled the constable, 

I had picked myself up by this time and was wiping my 
face. 'Look here,' I put in, *I asked you the way to Oxford 
Street, that and nothing else.' And I went on to summarize 
my opinion of him. 

'Oh! it's you can swear a bit,' he growled. 'I heard you 
just now.' 

'Yes,' Gervase interposed suavely, drawing the glove from 
his right hand and letting flash a diamond finger-ring in the 
lamp-light. 'He is a bit of a beast, policeman, and it 's not for 
the pleasure of it that I want his company.' 

A sovereign passed from hand to hand. The other constable 
had discreetly drawn off* a pace or two. 

'All the same, it 's a rum go.' 

'Yes, isn't it?' Gervase assented in his heartiest tone, 'Here 
is my card, in case you 're not satisfied.' 

'If you 're satisfied, sir ' 

'Quite so. Good night!' Gervase thrust both hands into 

The Room of Mirrors 97 

his pockets again and strode off. I followed him, with a heart 
hotter than ever followed him like a whipped cur, as they say. 
Yes, that was just it. He who had already robbed me of every- 
thing else had now kicked even the pedestal from under me as 
a figure of tragedy. Five minutes ago I had been the implacable 
avenger tracking my unconscious victim across the city. Heaven 
knows how small an excuse it was for self-respect ; but one who 
has lost character may yet chance to catch a dignity from circum- 
stances; and to tell the truth, for all my desperate earnestness 
I had allowed my vanity to take some artistic satisfaction in 
the sinister chase. It had struck me shall I say? as an 
effective ending, nor had I failed to note that the snow lent it 
a romantic touch. 

And behold, the unconscious victim knew all about it, and 
had politely interfered when a couple of unromantic Bobbies 
threatened the performance by tumbling the stalking avenger 
into the gutter! They had. knocked my tragedy into harle- 
quinade as easily as you might bash in a hat; and my enemy 
had refined the cruelty of it by coming to the rescue and 
ironically restarting the poor play on lines of comedy. I saw 
too late that I ought to have refused his help, to have assaulted 
the constable and been hauled to the police station. Not an 
impressive wind-up, to be sure; but less humiliating than this! 
Even so, Gervase might have trumped the poor card by 
following with a gracious offer to bail me out! 

As it was, I had put the whip into his hand, and must follow 
him like a cur. The distance he kept assured me that the 
similitude had not escaped him. He strode on without deigning 
a single glance behind, still in cold derision presenting me his 
broad back and silently challenging me to shoot. And I 
followed, hating him worse than ever, swearing that the last 
five minutes should not be forgotten, but charged for royally 
when the reckoning came to be paid. 

I followed thus up Conduit Street, up Regent Street, and 
across the Circus. The frost had deepened and the mud in the 

98 The Room of Mirrors 

roadway crackled under our feet. At the Circus I began to 
guess, and when Gervase struck off into Great Portland Street, 
and thence by half a dozen turnings northwards by east, I knew 
to what house he was leading me. 

At the entrance of the side street in which it stood he halted 
and motioned me to come close. 

'I forget/ he said with a jerk of his thumb, 'if you still have 
the entry. These people are not particular, to be sure/ 

'I have not,' I answered, and felt my cheeks burning. He 
could not see this, nor could I see the lift of his eyebrows as 
he answered : 

'Ah? I hadn't heard of it. ... You 'd better step round 
by the mews, then. You know the window, the one which 
opens into the passage leading to Pollox Street. Wait there. 
It may be ten minutes before I can open.' 

I nodded. The house was a corner one, between the street 
and a by-lane tenanted mostly by cabmen; and at the back of 
it ran the mews where they stabled their horses. Half-way 
down this mews a narrow alley cut across it at right angles: a 
passage unfrequented by traffic, known only to the stablemen, 
and in the daytime used only by their children, who played hop- 
scotch on the flagged pavement, where no one interrupted them. 
You wondered at its survival from end to end it must have 
measured a good fifty yards in a district where every square 
foot of ground fetched money; until you learned that the house 
had belonged, in the twenties, to a nobleman who left a name 
for eccentric profligacy, and who, as owner of the land, could 
afford to indulge his humours. The estate since his death was 
in no position to afford money for alterations, and the present 
tenants of the house found the passage convenient enough. 

My footsteps disturbed no one in the sleeping mews; and 
doubling back noiselessly through the passage, I took up my 
station beside the one low window which opened upon it from 
the blank back premises of the house. Even with the glimmer 
of snow to help me, I had to grope for the window-sill to make 

The Room of Mirrors 99 

sure of my bearings. The minutes crawled by, and the only 
sound came from a stall where one of the horses had kicked 
through his thin straw bedding and was shuffling an uneasy 
hoof upon the cobbles. Then, just as I too had begun to 
shuffle my frozen feet, I heard a scratching sound, the unbolting 
of a shutter, and Gervase drew up the sash softly. 

'Nip inside!' he whispered. 'No more noise than you can 
help. I have sent off the night porter. He tells me the 
bank is still going in the front of the house half a dozen 
playing, perhaps/ 

I hoisted myself over the sill, and dropped inside. The wall 
of this annexe which had no upper floor, and invited you to 
mistake it for a harmless studio was merely a sheath, so to 
speak. Within, a corridor divided it from the true wall of the 
room: and this room had no window or top-light, though a 
handsome one in the roof a dummy beguiled the eyes of its 

There was but one room : an apartment of really fine pro- 
portions, never used by the tenants of the house, and known 
but to a few curious ones among its frequenters. 

The story went that the late owner, Earl C , had reason 

to believe himself persistently cheated at cards by his best friends, 
and in particular by a Duke of the Blood Royal, who could 
hardly be accused to his face. The Earl's sense of honour 
forbade him to accuse any meaner man while the big culprit 
went unrebuked. Therefore he continued to lose magnificently 
while he devised a new room for play: the room into which 
I now followed Gervase. 

I had stood in it once before and admired the courtly and 
costly thoroughness of the Earl's rebuke. I had imagined him 
conducting his expectant guests to the door, ushering them in 
with a wave of the hand, and taking his seat tranquilly amid 
the dead, embarrassed silence: had imagined him facing the 
Royal Duke and asking: 'Shall we cut?' with a voice of the 
politest inflection. 

ioo The Room of Mirrors 

For the room was a sheet of mirrors. Mirrors panelled the 
walls, the doors, the very backs of the shutters. The tables 
had mirrors for tops: the whole ceiling was one vast mirror. 
From it depended three great candelabra of cut-glass, set with 
reflectors here, there, and everywhere. 

I had heard that even the floor was originally of polished 
brass. If so, later owners must have ripped up the plates and 
sold them : for now a few cheap oriental rugs carpeted the un- 
polished boards. The place was abominably dusty : the striped 
yellow curtains had lost half their rings and drooped askew from 
their soiled valances. Across one of the wall-panels ran an 
ugly scar. A smell of rat pervaded the air. The present 
occupiers had no use for a room so obviously unsuitable to 
games of chance, as they understood chance : and I doubt if a 
servant entered it once a month. Gervase had ordered candles 
and a fire : but the chimney was out of practice, and the smoke 
wreathed itself slowly about us as we stood surrounded by the 
ghostly company of our reflected selves. 

'We shall not be disturbed,' said Gervase. 'I told the man 
I was expecting a friend, that our business was private, and that 
until he called I wished to be alone. I did not explain by what 
entrance I expected him. The people in the front cannot hear 
us. Have a cigar?' He pushed the open case towards me. 
Then, as I drew back: 'You Ve no need to be scrupulous,' he 
added, 'seeing that they were bought with your money.' 

' If that 's so, I will,' said I ; and having chosen one struck a 
match. Glancing round, I saw a hundred small flames spurt 
up, and a hundred men hold them to a hundred glowing 

'After you with the match.' Gervase took it from me with 
a steady hand. He, too, glanced about him while he puffed. 
'Ugh!' He blew a long cloud, and shivered within his furred 
overcoat. 'What a gang!' 

'It takes all sorts to make a world,' said I fatuously, for lack 
of anything better. 

The Room of Mirrors 101 

'Don't be an infernal idiot!' he answered, flicking the dus 
off one of the gilt chairs, and afterwards cleaning a space for hi! 
elbow on the looking-glass table. 'It takes only two sorts tc 
make the world we 've lived in, and that 's you and me.' He 
gazed slowly round the walls. * You and me, and a few fellows 
like us not to mention the women, who don't count.' 

'Well,' said I, 'as far as the world goes if you must discuss 
it I always found it a good enough place.' 

'Because you started as an unconsidering fool: and because 
afterwards, when we came to grips, you were the under-dog 
and I gave you no time. My word how I have hustled you ! 

I yawned. ' All right : I can wait. Only if you suppose ! 
came here to listen to your moral reflections ' 

He pulled the cigar from between his teeth and looked a 
me along it. 

'I know perfectly well why you came here,' he said slowly 
and paused. 'Hadn't we better have it out with the cards 01 
the table ? ' He drew a small revolver from his pocket and lai( 
it with a light clink on the table before him. I hesitated for \ 
moment, then followed his example, and the silent men aroune 
us did the same. 

A smile curled his thin lips as he observed this multiplie< 
gesture. 'Yes,' he said, as if to himself, 'that is what it al 
comes to.' 

'And now,' said I, 'since you know my purpose here, perhap 
you will tell me yours.' 

'That is just what I am trying to explain. Only you are s< 
impatient, and it well, it's a trifle complicated.' He puffe< 
for a moment in silence. ' Roughly, it might be enough to sa; 
that I saw you standing outside my house a while ago; that 
needed a talk with you alone, in some private place; tha 
I guessed, if you saw me, you would follow with no mon 
invitation; and that, so reasoning, I led you here, where n< 
one is likely to interrupt us/ 

'Well/ I admitted, 'all that seems plain sailing.' 

IO2 The Room of Mirrors 

' Quite so ; but it 's at this point the thing grows complicated/ 
He rose, and walking to the fire-place, turned his back on me 
and spread his palms to the blaze. 'Well/ he asked, after a 
moment, gazing into the mirror before him, 'why don't you 

I thrust my hands into my trouser-pockets and leaned back 
staring I dare say sulkily enough at the two revolvers 
within grasp. 'I 've got my code,' I muttered. 

'The code of these mirrors. You don't do the thing 
because it's not the thing to do; because these fellows' he 
waved a hand and the ghosts waved back at him 'don't do such 
things, and you haven't the nerve to sin off your own bat. 
Come' he strolled back to his seat and leaned towards me 
across the table 'it 's not much to boast of, but at this eleventh 
hour we must snatch what poor credit we can. You are, I 

suppose, a more decent fellow for not having fired : and I 

By the way, you did feel the temptation?' 

I nodded. 'You may put your money on that. I never 
see you without wanting to kill you. What 's more, I 'm 
going to do it.' 

'And I,' he said, 'knew the temptation and risked it. No: 
let 's be honest about it. There was no risk : because, my good 
sir, I know you to a hair.' 

'There was,' I growled. 

'Pardon me, there was none. I came here having a word 
to say to you, and these mirrors have taught me how to say it. 
Take a look at them the world we are leaving that 's it : and 
a cursed second-hand, second-class one at that.' 

He paced slowly round on it, slewing his body in the 

'I say a second-class one,' he resumed, 'because, my dear 
Reggie, when all 's said and done, we are second class, the pair 

of us, and pretty bad second class. I met you first at . 

Out fathers had money : they wished us to be gentlemen with- 
out well understanding what it meant: and with unlimited 

The Room of Mirrors 103 

pocket-money and his wits about him any boy can make him- 
self a power in a big school. That is what we did : towards 
the end we even set the fashion for a certain set; and a rank bad 
fashion it was. But, in truth, we had no business there: on 
every point of breeding we were outsiders. I suspect it was a 
glimmering consciousness of this that made us hate each other 
from the first. We understood one another too well. Oh, 
there 's no mistake about it! Whatever we Ve missed in life, 
you and I have hated.' 

He paused, eyeing me queerly. I kept my hands in my 
pockets. 'Go on,' I said. 

'From we went to College the same business over 

again. We drifted, of course, into the same set; for already 
we had become necessary to each other. We set the pace of 
that set were its apparent leaders. But in truth we were alone 
you and I as utterly alone as two. shipwrecked men on a raft. 
The others were shadows to us : we followed their code because 
we had to be gentlemen, but we did not understand it in the 
least. For, after all, the roots of that code lay in the breeding 
and tradition of honour, with which we had no concern. To 
each other you and I were intelligible and real; but as con- 
cerned that code and the men who followed it by right of 
birth and nature, we were looking-glass men imitating 
imitating imitating.' 

'We set the pace,' said I. 'You Ve allowed that.' 

'To be sure we did. We even modified the code a bit 
to its hurt; though as conscious outsiders we could dare 
very little. For instance, the talk of our associates about 
women and no doubt their thoughts, too grew sensibly 
baser. The sanctity of gambling debts, on the other hand, we 
did nothing to impair: because we had money. I recall your 
virtuous indignation at the amount of paper floated by poor 

W towards the end of the great baccarat term. Poor 

devil! He paid up or his father did and took his name off 
the books. He 's in Ceylon now, I believe. At length you 

IO4 The Room of Mirrors 

have earned a partial right to sympathize: or would have, if 
only you had paid up/ 

'Take care, Gervase!' 

'My good sir, don't miss my point. Wasn't I just as indig- 
nant with W ? If I 'd been warned off Newmarket Heath, 

if I 'd been shown the door of the hell we 're sitting in, shouldn't 
I feel just as you are feeling? Try to understand!' 

'You forget Elaine, I think.' 

'No: I do not forget Elaine. We left College: I to add 
money to money in my father's office; you to display your 
accomplishments in spending what your father had earned. 
That was the extent of the difference. To both of us, money 
and the indulgence it buys meant everything in life. All I can 
boast of is the longer sight. The office-hours were a nuisance, 
I admit: but I was clever enough to keep my hold on the old 
set; and then, after office-hours, I met you constantly, and 
studied and hated you studied you because I hated you. 
Elaine came between us. You fell in love with her. That I, 
too, should fall in love with her was no coincidence, but the 
severest of logic. Given such a woman and two such men, no 
other course of fate is conceivable. She made it necessary for 
me to put hate into practice. If she had not offered herself, 
why, then it would have been somebody else : that 's all. Good 
Lord ! ' he rapped the table, and his voice rose for the first time 
above its level tone of exposition : 'You don't suppose all my 
study all my years of education were to be wasted ! ' 

He checked himself, eyed me again, and resumed in his 
old voice: 

'You wanted money by this time. I was a solicitor your 
old college friend and you came to me. I knew you would 
come, as surely as I knew you would not fire that pistol just 
now. For years I had trained myself to look into your mind 
and anticipate its working. Don't I tell you that from the first 
you were the only real creature this world held for me? You 
were my only book, and I had to learn you: at first without 

The Room of Mirrors 105 

fixed purpose, then deliberately. And when the time came I 
put into practice what I knew: just that and no more. My 
dear Reggie, you never had a chance/ 

'Elaine?' I muttered again. 

'Elaine was the girl for you or for me: just that again and 
no more.' 

' By George ! ' said I, letting out a laugh. ' If I thought that ! ' 


'Why, that after ruining me, you have missed being happy!' 

He sighed impatiently, and his eyes, though he kept diem 
fastened on mine, seemed to be tiring. 'I thought,' he said, 
'I could time your intelligence over any fence. But to-night 
there 's something wrong. Either I 'm out of practice or your 
brain has been going to the deuce. What, man! You're 
shying at every bank! Is it drink, hey? Or hunger?' 

'It might be a little of both,' I answered. 'But stay a 
moment and let me get things straight. I stood between you 
and Elaine no, give me time between you and your aims, 
whatever they were. Very well. You trod over me; or, 
rather, you pulled me up by the roots and pitched me into outer 
darkness to rot. And now it seems that, after all, you are not 
content. In the devil's name, why?' 

'Why? Oh, cannot you see? . . . Take a look at these 
mirrors again our world, I tell you. See you and I you 
and I always you and I! Man, I pitched you into darkness 
as you say, and then I woke and knew the truth that you 
were necessary to me.' 


'/ cant do -without you /' It broke from him in a cry. 'So 
help me God, Reggie, it is the truth!' 

I stared in his face for half a minute maybe, and broke out 
laughing. 'Jeshurun waxed fat and turned sentimental! A 
nice copy-book job you make of it, too! 

Oh, send my brother back to me 
I cannot play alone! 

106 The Room of Mirrors 

Perhaps you 'd like me to buy a broom and hire the crossing 
in Lennox Gardens ? Then you 'd be able to contemplate me 
all day long, and nourish your fine fat soul with delicate eating. 
Pah! You make me sick/ 

'It 's the truth/ said he quietly. 

'It may be. To me it looks a sight more like foie gras. 
Can't do without me, can't you? Well, I can jolly well do 
without you, and I 'm going to.' 

'I warn you,' he said: *I have done you an injury or two 
in my time, but by George if I stand up and let you shoot me 
well, I hate you badly enough, but I won't let you do it 
without fair warning.' 

'I '11 risk it anyway,' said I. 

'Very well.' He stood up, and folded his arms. 'Shoot, 
then, and be hanged!' 

I put out my hand to the revolver, hesitated, and with- 
drew it. 

'That 's not the way,' I said. 'I 've got my code, as I told 
you before.' 

'Does the code forbid suicide?' he asked. 

'That 's a different thing.' 

'Not at all. The man who commits suicide kills an unarmed 

'But the unarmed man happens to be himself.' 

'Suppose that in this instance your distinction won't work? 
Look here,' he went on, as I pushed back my chair impatiently, 
'I have one truth more for you. I swear I believe that what 
we have hated, we two, is not each other, but ourselves or our 
own likeness. I swear I believe we two have so shared natures 
in hate that no power can untwist and separate them to render 
each his own. But I swear also I believe that if you lift that 
revolver to kill, you will take aim, not at me, but by instinct 
at a worse enemy yourself, vital in my heart.' 

'You have some pretty theories to-night,' I sneered. 'Per- 
haps you 'II go on to tell me which of us two had been Elaine's 

The Room of Mirrors 107 

husband, feeding daintily in Lennox Gardens, clothed in purple 
and fine linen, while the other ' 

He interrupted me by picking up his revolver and striding 
to the fire-place again. 

'So be it, since you will have it so. Kill me/ he added, 
with a queer look, 'and perhaps you may go back to Lennox 
Gardens and enjoy all these things in my place/ 

I took my station. Both revolvers were levelled now. I 
took sight along mine at his detested face. It was white but 
curiously eager hopeful even. I lowered my arm, scanning 
his face still; and still scanning it, set my weapon down on 
the table. 

'I believe you are mad,' said I slowly. 'But one thing I see 
that, mad or not, you 're in earnest. For some reason you 
want me to kill you; therefore that shall wait. For some 
reason it is torture to you to live and do without me : well, I '11 
try you with that. It will do me good to hurt you a bit/ 
I slipped the revolver into my pocket and tapped it. 'Though 
I don't understand them, I won't quarrel with your sentiments 
so long as you suffer for them. When that fails, I '11 find another 
opportunity for this. Good night/ I stepped to the door. 


I shut the door on his cry : crossed the corridor, and climbing 
out through the window, let myself drop into the lane. 

As my feet touched the snow a revolver-shot rang out in the 
room behind me. 

I caught at the frozen sill to steady myself: and crouching 
there, listened. Surely the report must have alarmed the house! 
I waited for the sound of footsteps : waited for three minutes 
perhaps longer. None came. To be sure, the room stood 
well apart from the house : but it was incredible that the report 
should have awakened no one! My own ears still rang with it. 

Still no footsteps came. The horse in the stable close by was 
still shuffling his hoof on the cobbles, no other sound. . . . 

Very stealthily I hoisted myself up on the sill again, listened, 

io8 The Room of Mirrors 

dropped inside, and tiptoed my way to the door. The candles 
were still burning in the Room of Mirrors. And by the light 
of them, as I entered, Gervase stepped to meet me. 

'Ah, it 's you/ 1 stammered. 'I heard that is, I thought ' 

And with that I saw recognized with a catch of the breath 
that the figure I spoke to was not Gervase, but my own 
reflected image, stepping forward with pale face and ghastly 
from a mirror. Yet a moment before I could have sworn it 
was Gervase. 

Gervase lay stretched on the hearthrug with his hand towards 
the fire. I caught up a candle, and bent over him. His 
features were not to be recognized. 

As I straightened myself up, with the candle in my hand, 
for an instant those features, obliterated in the flesh, gazed at 
me in a ring, a hundred times repeated behind a hundred candles. 
And again, at a second glance, I saw that the face was not 
Gervase's but my own. 

I set down the candle and made ofF, closing the door behind 
me. The horror of it held me by the hair, but I flung it off 
and pelted down the lane and through the mews. Once in the 
street I breathed again, pulled myself together, and set off at a 
rapid walk, southwards, but not clearly knowing whither. 

As a matter of fact, I took the line by which I had come : 
with the single difference that I made straight into Berkeley 
Square through Bruton Street. I had, I say, no clear purpose 
in following this line rather than another. I had none for 
taking Lennox Gardens on the way to my squalid lodgings in 
Chelsea. I had a purpose, no doubt; but will swear it only 
grew definite as I came in sight of the lamp still burning beneath 
Gervase's portico. 

There was a figure, too, under the lamp the butler 
bending there and rolling up the strip of red carpet. As he 
pulled its edges from the frozen snow I came on him suddenly. 

'Oh, it's you, sir!' He stood erect, and with the air of a 
man infinitely relieved. 

The Room of Mirrors 109 


The door opened wide and there stood Elaine in her ball- 
gown, a-glitter with diamonds. 

'Gervase, dear, where have you been? We have been 
terribly anxious ' 

She said it, looking straight down on me on me who 
stood in my tattered clothes in the full glare of the lamp. And 
then I heard the butler catch his breath, and suddenly her voice 
trailed off in wonder and pitiful disappointment. 

'It's not Gervase! It's Reg Mr. Travers. I beg your 
pardon. I thought ' 

But I passed up the steps and stood before her : and said, as 
she drew back: 

'There has been an accident. Gervase has shot himself/ 
I turned to the butler. 'You had better run to the police 
station. Stay: take this revolver. It won't count anything 
as evidence: but I ask you to examine it and make sure all the 
chambers are loaded.' 

A thud in the hall interrupted me. I ran in and knelt beside 
Elaine, and as I stooped to lift her as my hand touched her 
hair this was the jealous question on my lips : 

'What has she to do with it. It is / who cannot do without 
him who must miss him always!' 



How pleasant it is to have money, heigho ! 
How pleasant it is to have money! 

sings (I think) Clough. Well, I had money, and more of it 
than I felt any desire to spend; which is as much as any 
reasonable man can want. My age was five-and-twenty, my 
health good, my conscience moderately clean, and my appetite 
excellent: I had fame in some degree, and a fair prospect of 
adding to it: and I was unmarried. In later life a man may 
seek marriage for its own sake, but at five-and-twenty he 
marries against his will because he has fallen in love with a 
woman ; and this had not yet happened to me. I was a bachelor, 
and content to remain one. 

To come to smaller matters The month was early June, the 
weather perfect, the solitude of my own choosing, and my 
posture comfortable enough to invite drowsiness. I had bathed 
and, stretched supine in the shade of a high sand-bank, was 
smoking the day's first cigarette. Behind me lay Ambleteuse; 
before me the sea. On the edge of it, their shrill challenges 
softened by the distance to music, a score of children played 
with spades and buckets, innocently composing a hundred pretty 
groups of brown legs, fluttered hair, bright frocks and jerseys, 
and innocently conspiring with morning to put a spirit of youth 
into the whole picture. Beyond them the blue sea flashed with 
its own smiles, and the blue heaven over them with the glancing 
wings of gulls. On this showing it is evident that I, George 
Anthony Richardson, ought to have been happy; whereas, in 
fact, Richardson was cheerful enough, but George Anthony 
restless and ill-content: by reason that Richardson, remembering 


The Collaborators in 

the past, enjoyed by contrast the present, and knew himself to be 
jolly well off; while George Anthony, likewise remembering 
the past, felt gravely concerned for the future. 

Let me explain. A year ago I had been a clerk in the Office 
of the Local Government Board a detested calling with a 
derisory stipend. It was all that a University education (a 
second in Moderations and a third in Literae Humaniores) had 
enabled me to win, and I stuck to it because I possessed no 
patrimony and had no 'prospects' save one, which stood pre- 
cariously on the favour of an uncle my mother's brother, 
Major-General Allan Mclntosh, C.B. Now the General could 
not be called ah indulgent man. He had retired from active 
service to concentrate upon his kinsfolk those military gifts 
which even on the wide plains of Hindostan had kept him the 
terror of his country's foes and the bugbear of his own soldiery. 
He had an iron sense of discipline and a passion for it; he 
detested all forms of amusement; in religion he belonged to the 
sect of the Peculiar People; and he owned a gloomy house 
near the western end of the Cromwell Road, where he dwelt 
and had for butler, valet, and factotum a Peculiar Person 
named Trewlove. 

In those days I found my chief recreation in the theatre ; and 
by and by, when I essayed to write for it, and began to pester 
managers with curtain-raisers, small vaudevilles, comic libretti 
and the like, you will guess that in common prudence I called 
myself by a nom de guerre. Dropping the 'Richardson,' I 
signed my productions 'George Anthony,' and as 'George 
Anthony' the playgoing public now discusses me. For some 
while, I will confess, the precaution was superfluous, the 
managers having apparently entered into league to ensure me 
as much obscurity as I had any use for. But at length in an 
unguarded moment the manager of the Duke of Cornwall's 
Theatre (formerly the Euterpe) accepted a three-act farce. It 
was poorly acted, yet for some reason it took the town. 'Larks 
in Aspic, a Farcical Comedy by George Anthony/ ran for a 

112 The Collaborators 

solid three hundred nights ; and before it ceased my unsuspecting 
uncle had closed his earthly career, leaving me with seventy 
thousand pounds (the bulk of it invested in India Government 
stock), the house in the Cromwell Road, and, lastly, in sacred 
trust, his faithful body-servant, William John Trewlove. 

Here let me pause to deplore man's weakness and the allure- 
ment of splendid possessions. I had been happy enough in 
my lodgings in Jermyn Street, and, thanks to Larks in Aspic, 
they were decently furnished. At the prompting, surely, of 
some malignant spirit, I exchanged them for a house too large 
for me in a street too long for life, for my uncle's furniture (of 
the Great Exhibition period), and for the unnecessary and 
detested services of Trewlove. 

This man enjoyed, by my uncle's will, an annuity of fifty 
pounds. He had the look, too, of one who denied himself 
small pleasures, not only on religious grounds, but because 
they cost money. Somehow, I never doubted that he owned 
a balance at the bank, or that, after a brief interval spent in 
demonstrating that our ways were uncongenial, he would retire 
on a competence and await translation to join my uncle in an 
equal sky equal, that is, within the fence of the elect. But 
not a bit of it! I had been adjured in the will to look after 
him : and at first I supposed that he clung to me against inclina- 
tion, from a conscientious resolve to give me every chance. 
By and by, however, I grew aware of a change in him; or, 
rather, of some internal disquiet, suppressed but volcanic, 
working towards a change. Once or twice he staggered me 
by answering some casual question in a tone which, to say the 
least of it, suggested an ungainly attempt at facetiousness. A 
look at his sepulchral face would reassure me, but did not clear 
up the mystery. Something was amiss with Trewlove. 

The horrid truth broke upon me one day as we discussed 
the conduct of one of my two housemaids. Trewlove, return- 
ing one evening (as I gathered) from a small rdunion of his 
fellow-sectarians in the Earl's Court Road, had caught her in 

The Collaborators 113 

the act of exchanging railleries from an upper window with a 
trooper in the 2nd Life Guards, and had reported her. 

'Most unbecoming,' said I. 

'Unwomanly,' said Trewlove, with a sudden contortion of 
the face; 'unwomanly, sir! but ah, how like a woman!' 

I stared at him for one wild moment, and turned abruptly to 
the window. The rascal had flung a quotation at me out of 
Larks in Aspic\ He knew, then! He had penetrated the dis- 
guise of ' George Anthony,' and, worse still, he meant to forgive 
it. His eye h^d conveyed a dreadful promise of complicity. 
Almost I would have given worlds to know, and yet dared 
not face it almost it had been essaying a wink! 

I dismissed him with instructions not very coherent, I fear 
to give the girl a talking-to, and sat down to think. How 
long had he known? that was my first question, and in justice 
to him it had to be considered: since, had he known and kept 
the secret in my uncle's lifetime, beyond a doubt, and un- 
pleasant as the thought might be, I was enormously his debtor. 
That stern warrior's attitude towards the playhouse had ever 
been uncompromising. Stalls, pit, and circles the very names 
suggested Dantesque images and provided illustrations for many 
a discourse. Themselves verbose, these discourses indicated 
A Short Way with State-players, and it stood in no doubt that 
the authorship of Larks in Aspic had only to be disclosed to 
him to provide me with the shortest possible cut out of seventy 
thousand pounds. 

I might, and did, mentally consign Trewlove to all manner 
of painful places, as, for instance, the bottom of the sea ; but 
I could not will away this obligation. After cogitating for a 
while I rang for him. 

'Trewlove,' said I, 'you know, it seems, that I have written 
a play.' 

'Yessir! Larks in Aspic, sir.' 

I winced. ' Since when have you known this ? ' 

The dog, I am sure, took the bearings of this question at 

114 The Collaborators 

once. But he laid his head on one side, and while he pulled 
one whisker, as if ringing up the information, his eyes grew dull 
and seemed to be withdrawing into visions of a far-away past. 
'I have been many times to see it, Mr. George, and would be 
hard put to it to specify the first occasion. But it was a 

'That is not what I asked, Trewlove. I want to know when 
you first suspected or satisfied yourself that I was the author/ 

'Oh, at once, sir! The style, if I may say so, was un- 
mistakable : w-nimitable, sir, if I may take the libbaty/ 

'Excuse me,' I began, but he did not hear. He had passed 
for the moment beyond decorum, and his eyes began to roll in a 
manner expressive of inward rapture, but not pretty to watch. 

'I had not listened to your talk, sir, in private life I had 
not, as one might say, imbibed it for nothink. The General, 
sir your lamented uncle had a flow: he would, if allowed, 
and meaning no disrespect, talk the hind leg off a jackass ; but 
I found him lacking in 'umour. Now you, Mr. George, 'ave 
'umour. You 'ave not your uncle's flow, sir the Lord forbid ! 
But in give-and-take, as one might say, you are igstreamly droll. 
On many occasions, sir, when you were extra sparkling I do 
assure you it required pressure not to explode/ 

'I thank you, Trewlove,' said I coldly. 'But will you, 
please, waive these unsolicited testimonials and answer my 
question? Let me put it in another form. Was it in my 
uncle's lifetime that you first witnessed my play?' 

Trewlove's eyes ceased to roll, and, meeting mine, withdrew 
themselves politely behind impenetrable mists. 'The General 
sir, was opposed to theatre-going in toto; anathemum was no 
word for what he thought of it. And if it had come to Larks in 
Aspic , with your permission I will only say "Great Scot!"' 

' I may take it then that you did not see the play and surprise 
my secret until after his death?' 

Trewlove drew himself up with fine reserve and dignity. 
'There is such a thing, sir, I 'ope, as Libbaty of Conscience/ 

The Collaborators 115 

With that I let him go. The colloquy had not only done me 
no service, but had positively emboldened him or so I seemed 
to perceive as the weeks went on in his efforts to cast off his 
old slough and become a travesty of me, as he had been a 
travesty of my uncle. I am willing to believe that they caused 
him pain. A crust of habit so inveterate as his cannot be rent 
without throes, to the severity of which his facial contortions 
bore witness whenever he attempted a witticism. Warned by 
them, I would sometimes admonish him. 

'Mirth without vulgarity, Trewlove!' 

' Yessir,' he would answer, and add with a sigh : 'It 's the best 
sort, sir admittedly.' 

But if painful to him, this metamorphosis was torture to my 
nerves. I should explain that, flushed with the success of Larks 
in Aspic, I had cheerfully engaged myself to provide the Duke 
of Cornwall's with a play to succeed it. At the moment of 
signing the contract, my bosom's lord had sat lightly on its 
throne, for I felt my head to be humming with ideas. But 
affluence, or the air of the Cromwell Road, seemed uncongenial 
to the Muse. 

Three months had slipped away. I had not written a line. 
My ideas, which had seemed on the point of precipitation, 
surrendering to some strange centrifugal eddy, slipped one by 
one beyond grasp. I suppose every writer of experience knows 
these vacant terrifying intervals; but they were strange to me 
then, and I had not learnt the virtue of waiting. I grew 
flurried, and saw myself doomed to be the writer of one play. 

In this infirmity the daily presence of Trewlove became 
intolerable. There arrived an evening when I found myself 
toying with the knives at dinner, and wondering where precisely 
lay the level of his fifth rib at the back of my chair. 

I dropped the weapon and pushed forward my glass to be 
refilled. 'Trewlove,' said I, 'you shall pack for me to-morrow, 
and send off the servants on board wages. I need a holiday. 
I I trust this will not be inconvenient to you?' 

n6 The Collaborators 

'I thank you, sir; not in the least/ He coughed, and I bent 
my head, some instinct forewarning me. 

'I shall be away for three months at least,' I put in quickly. 
(Five minutes before I had not dreamed of leaving home.) 

But the stroke was not to be averted. For months it had 
been preparing. 

'As for inconvenience, sir if I may remind you the course 
of Trewlove never did ' 

'For three months at least,' I repeated, rapping sharply on 
the table. 

Next day I crossed the Channel and found myself at Amble- 


I chose Ambleteuse because it was there that I had written the 
greater part of Larks in Aspic. I went again to my old quarters 
at Madame Peyron's. As before, I eschewed company, excur- 
sions, all forms of violent exercise. I bathed, ate, drank, slept, 
rambled along the sands, or lay on my back and stared at the 
sky, smoking and inviting my soul. In short, I reproduced all 
the old conditions. But in vain! At Ambleteuse, no less than 
in London, the Muse either retreated before my advances, or, 
when I sat still and waited, kept her distance, declining to 
be coaxed. 

Matters were really growing serious. Three weeks had 
drifted by with not a line and scarcely an idea to show for them; 
and the morning's post had brought me a letter from Cozens, 
of the Duke of Cornwall's, begging for (at least) a scenario of 
the new piece. My play (he said) would easily last this season 
out; but he must reopen in the autumn with a new one, and in 
short, weren't we beginning to run some risk? 

I groaned, crushed the letter into my pocket, arid by an effort 
of will put the tormenting question from me until after my 
morning bath. But now the time was come to face it. I began 
weakly by asking myself why the dickens I with enough for 

The Collaborators 117 

my needs had bound myself to write this thing within a given 
time, at the risk of turning out inferior work. For that matter, 
why should I write a comedy at all if I didn't want to? These 
were reasonable questions, and yet they missed the point. The 
point was that I had given my promise to Cozens, and that 
Cozens depended on it. Useless to ask now why I had given 
it! At the time I could have promised cheerfully to write him 
three plays within as many months. 

So full my head was then, and so empty now! A grotesque 
and dreadful suspicion took me. While Trewlove tortured 
himself to my model, was I, by painful degrees, exchanging 
brains with him ? I laughed ; but I was unhinged. I had been 
smoking too many cigarettes during these three weeks, and the 
vampire thought continued to flit obscenely between me and the 
pure seascape. I saw myself the inheritor of Trewlove's cast-off 
personality, his inelegancies of movement, his religious opinions, 
his bagginess at the knees, his mournful, pensile whiskers 

This would never do! I must concentrate my mind on the 

play. Let me see The title can wait. Two married 

couples have just been examined at Dunmow, and awarded the 
'historic* flitch for conjugal happiness. Call them A and 
Mrs. A, B and Mrs. B. On returning to the hotel with their 
trophies, it is discovered that B and Mrs. A are old flames, while 
each finds a mistaken reason to suspect that A and Mrs. B have 
also met years before, and at least dallied with courtship. Thus 
while their spouses alternately rage with suspicion and invent 
devices to conceal their own defaults, A and Mrs. B sit inno- 
cently nursing their illusions and their symbolical flitches. The 
situation holds plenty of comedy, and the main motive begins 
to explain itself. Now then for anagnorisis, comic peripeteia, 
division into acts, and the rest of the wallet! 

I smoked another two cigarettes and flung away a third in 
despair. Useless! The plaguy thing refused to take shape. 
I sprang up and paced the sands, dogged by an invisible Cozens 
piping thin reproaches above the hum of the breakers. 

n8 The Collaborators 

Suddenly I came to a halt. Why this play? Why expend 
vain efforts on this particular complication when in a drawer at 
home lay two acts of a comedy ready written, and the third and 
final act sketched out? The burden of months broke its 
straps and fell from me as I pondered. My Tenant was the 
name of the thing, and I had thrust it aside only when the idea 
of Larks in Aspic occurred to me not in any disgust. And 
really, now, what I remembered of it seemed to me astonishingly 

I pulled out my watch ; and as I did so there flashed on me 
ifi that sudden freakish way which the best ideas affect a new 
and brilliant idea for the plot of My Tenant. The whole of the 
third and concluding act spread itself instantaneously before me. 
I knew then and there why the play had been laid aside. It had 
waited for this, and it wanted only this. I held the thing now, 
compact and tight, within my five fingers : as tight and compact 
as the mechanism of the watch in my hand. 

But why had I pulled out the watch? Because the manu- 
script of My Tenant lay in the drawer of my writing-table in 
the Cromwell Road, and I was calculating how quickly a 
telegram would reach Trewlove with instructions to find and 
forward it. Then I bethought me that the lock was a patent 
one, and that I carried the key with me on my private key- 
chain. Why should I not cross from Calais by the next boat 
and recover my treasure? It would be the sooner in my 
possession. I might be reading it again that very night in my 
own home and testing my discovery. I might return with it 
on the morrow that is, if I desired to return. After all, 
Ambleteuse had failed me. In London I could shut myself up 
and work at white heat. In London, too, I should be near 
Cozens : a telegram would fetch him out to South Kensington 
within the hour, to listen and approve. (I had no doubt of his 
approval.) In London I should renew relations with the real 
Trewlove the familiar, the absurd. I will not swear that for 
the moment I thought of Trewlove at all : but he remained at 

The Collaborators 119 

the back of my mind, and at Calais I began the process of 
precipitating him (so to speak) by a telegram advertising him of 
my return, and requesting that my room might be prepared. 

I had missed the midday boat, and reached Dover by the later 
and slower one as the June night began to descend. From 
Victoria I drove straight to my club, and snatched a supper of 
cold meats in its half-lit dining-room. Twenty minutes later 
I was in my hansom again and swiftly bowling westward 
I say 'bowling* because it is the usual word, and I was in far 
too fierce a hurry to think of a better. 

I had dropped back upon London in the fastest whirl of the 
season, and at the hour when all the world rolls homeward 
from the theatres. Two hansoms raced with mine, and red 
lights by the score dotted the noble slope of Piccadilly. To 
the left the street-lamps flung splashes of theatrical green on the 
sombre boughs of the Green Park. In one of the porticoes to 
the right half a dozen guests lingered for a moment and laughed 
together before taking their leave. One of them stood on the 
topmost steps, lighting a cigarette: he carried his silk-lined 
Inverness over his arm so sultry the night was and the ladies 
wore but the slightest of wraps over their bright frocks and 
jewels. One of them as we passed stepped forward, and I saw 
her dismissing her brougham. A night for walking, thought 
the party : and a fine night for sleeping out of doors, thought 
the road-watchman close by, watching them and meditatively 
smoking behind his barricade hung with danger - lanterns. 
Overhead rode the round moon. 

It is the fashion to cry down London, and I have taken my 
part in the chorus; but always be the absence never so short 
I come back to her with the same lift of the heart. Why 
did I ever leave her? What had I gone a-seeking in Amble- 
teuse ? a place where a man leaves his room only to carry his 
writing-desk with him and plant it by the sea. London offered 
the only true recreation. In London a man might turn the key 
on himself and work for so long as it pleased him. But let 

I2O The Collaborator 

him emerge, and pf ! the jostle of the streets shook his head 
clear of the whole stuffy business. No ; decidedly I would not 
return to Madame Peyron's. London for me, until my comedy 
should be written, down to the last word on the last page! 

We were half-way down the Cromwell Road when I took 
this resolution, and at once I was aware of a gathering of carriages 
drawn up in a line ahead and close beside the pavement. At 
intervals the carriages moved forward a few paces and the line 
closed up ; but it stretched so far that I soon began to wonder 
which of my neighbours could be entertaining on a scale so 

'What number did you say, sir?' the cabman asked through 
his trap. 

'Number 402,' I called up. 

* Blest if I can get alongside the pavement then,' he grumbled. 
He was a surly man. 

'Never mind that. Pull up opposite Number 402 and I '11 
slip between. I 've only my bag to carry.' 

'Didn't know folks was so gay in these outlyin' parts,' he 
commented sourly, and closed the trap, but presently opened 
i t again. His horse had dropped to a walk. ' Did you say 
four-nought-two?' he asked. 

'Oh, confound it yes!' I was growing impatient. 

He pulled up and began to turn the horse's head. 

' Hi ! What are you doing ? ' 

' Coin' back to the end of the line back to take our bloomin' 
turn,* he answered wearily. 'Four-nought-two, you said 
didn't you?' 

' Yes, yes ; are you deaf? What have I to do with this crowd ? * 

'I hain't deaf, but I got eyes. Four-nought-two 's where 
the horning 's up, that 's all/ 

' The horning ? What 's that ? ' 

'Oh, I'm tired of egsplanations. A homing's a horning, 
what they put up when they gives a party; leastways,' he added 
jreflectively, Hi don't/ 

The Collaborators 121 

'But there's no party at Number 402,' I insisted. 'The 
thing 's impossible.' 

'Very well, then; I 'm a liar, and that ends it.' He wheeled 
again and began to walk his horse sullenly forward. "Go's 
blind this time?' he demanded, coming to a standstill in from: 
of the house. 

An awning stretched down from the front door and across 
the pavement, where two policemen guarded the alighting guests 
from pressure by a small but highly curious crowd. Overhead, 
the first-floor windows had been flung wide ; the rooms within 
were aflame with light; and, as I grasped the rail of the splash- 
board, and, straightening myself up, gazed over the cab-roof 
with a wild surmise into the driver's face, a powerful but 
invisible string band struck up the * Country Girl' Lancers! 

' 'Oo 's a liar now ? ' He jerked his whip towards the number 
'402* staring down at me from the illuminated pane above the 

'But it 's my own house!' I gasped. 

'Hoh?' said he. 'Well, it may be. / don't conteraddict.' 

'Here, give me my bag!' I fumbled in my pocket for his 

' Cook giving a party ? Well, you 're handy for the Wild 
West out here good old Earl's Court!' He jerked his whip 
again towards the awning as a North American Indian in full 
war-paint passed up the steps and into the house, followed by 
the applause of the crowd. 

I must have overpaid the man extravagantly, for his tone 
changed suddenly as he examined the coins in his hand. ' Look 
here, guvnor, if you want any little 'elp, I was barman one 
time at the "Elephant" ' 

But I caught up my bag, swung off the step, and, squeezing 
between a horse's wet nose and the back of a brougham, gained 
the pavement, where a red baize carpet divided the ranks of the 

'Hallo! ' One of the policemen put out a hand to detain me. 

122 The Collaborators 

'It's all right,' I assured him, 'I belong to the house.' It 
seemed a safer explanation than that the house belonged to me. 

'Is it the ices?' he asked. 

But I ran up the porchway, eager to get to grips with 

On the threshold a young and extremely elegant footman 
confronted me. 

'Where is Trewlove?' I demanded. 

The footman was glorious in a tasselled coat and knee- 
breeches, both of bright blue. He wore his hair in powder, 
and eyed me with suspicion if not with absolute disfavour. 

'Where is Trewlove?' I repeated, dwelling fiercely on each 

The ass became lightly satirical. 'Well we may wonder/ 
said he; 'search the wide world over! But reely and truly 
you 've come to the wrong 'ouse this time. Here, stand to one 
side! ' he commanded, as a lady in the costume of the Pompadour, 
followed by an Old English Gentleman with an anachronistic 
Hebrew nose, swept past me into the hall. He bowed deferen- 
tially while he mastered their names, 'Mr. and Mrs. Levi-Levy!' 
he cried, and a second footman came forward to escort them up 
the stairs. To convince myself that this was my own house 
I stared hard at a bust of Havelock my late uncle's chief, and 
for religious as well as military reasons his beau ideal of a 
British warrior. 

The young footman resumed. 'When you 've had a good 
look round and seen all you want to see ' 

'I am Mr. Richardson,' I interrupted; 'and up to a few 
minutes ago I supposed myself to be the owner of this house. 
Here if you wish to assure yourself is my card.' 

His face fell instantly, fell so completely and woefully that 
I could not help feeling sorry for him. 'I beg pardon, sir 
most 'umbly, I do indeed. You will do me the justice, sir 
I had no idea, as per description, sir, being led to expect a 
different kind of gentleman altogether.' 

The Collaborators 123 

'You had my telegram, then?' 

'Telegram, sir?' He hesitated, searching his memory. 

' Certainly a telegram sent by me at one o'clock this after- 
noon, or thereabouts ' 

Here, with an apology, he left me to attend to a new arrival 
a Yellow Dwarf with a decidedly music-hall manner, who 
nudged him in the stomach and fell upon his neck exclaiming : 
'My long-lost brother!' 

'Cert'nly, sir. You will find the company upstairs, sir.' 
The young man disengaged himself with admirable dignity and 
turned again to me. 'A telegram did you say ' 

'Addressed to "Trewlove, 402, Cromwell Road.'" 

'William!' He summoned another footman forward. 'This 
gentleman is inquiring for a telegram sent here this afternoon, 
addressed "Trewlove."' 

'There was such a telegram,' said William. 'I heard Mr. 
Horrex a-discussing of it in the pantry. The mistress took 
the name for a telegraphic address, and sent it back to the 
office, saying there must be some mistake.' 

'But I sent it myself!' 

'Indeed, sir?' 

'It contained an order to get my room ready.' 

'This gentleman is Mr. Richardson,' explained the younger 

'Indeed, sir?' William's face brightened. 'In that case 
there 's no 'arm done, for your room is ready, and I laid out 
your dress myself. Mr. 'Erbert gave particular instructions 
before going out.' 

'Mr. Herbert?' I gazed around me blankly. Who in the 
name of wonder was Mr. Herbert ? 

'If you will allow me, sir,' suggested William, taking my bag, 
while the other went back to his post. 

'Thank you,' said I, 'but I know my own room, I hope.' 

He shook his head. 'The mistress made some alterations at 
the last moment, and you 're on the fourth floor over the street. 

124 The Collaborators 

Mr. 'Erbert's last words were that if you arrived before him I 
was to 'ope you didn't mind being so near the roof.' 

Well, of one thing at least I could be sure : I was in my own 
house. For the rest, I might be Rip Van Winkle or the Sleeper 
Awakened. Who was this lady called 'the mistress'? Who 
was Mr. Herbert? How came they here? And deepest 
mystery of all how came they to be expecting me ? Some 
villainy of Trewlove's must be the clue of this tangle ; and, 
holding to this clue, I resolved to follow whither fate might lead. 


William lifted my bag and led the way. On the first landing, 
where the doors stood open and the music went merrily to the 
last figure of the Lancers, we had to pick our way through a 
fantastic crowd which eyed me with polite curiosity. Couples 
seated on the next flight drew aside to let us pass. But the 
second landing was empty, and I halted for a moment at the 
door of my own workroom, within which lay my precious 

'This room is unoccupied?' 

'Indeed, no, sir. The mistress considers it the cheerfullest 
in the 'ouse.' 

'Our tastes agree, then.' 

'She had her bed moved in there the very first night.' 

'Indeed?' I swung round on him hastily. 'By die by, 
what is your mistress's name ? ' 

He drew back a pace and eyed me with some embarrassment. 
'You '11 excuse me, sir, but that ain't quite a fair question as 
between you and me.' 

'No? I should have thought it innocent enough.' 

' Of course, it 's a hopen secret, and you 're only askin* it to 
try me. But so long as the mistress fancies a hincog ' 

'Lead on,' said I. 'You are an exemplary young man, and I, 
too, am playing the game to the best of my lights/ 

The Collaborators 125 

'Yes, sir/ He led me up to a room prepared for me with 
candles lit, hot water ready, and bed neatly turned down. On 
the bed lay the full costume of a Punchinello: striped stockings, 
breeches with rosettes, tinselled coat with protuberant stomach 
and hump, cocked hat, and all proper accessories even to a 
false nose. 

'Am I expected to get into these things?' I asked. 

'If I can be of any assistance, sir ' 

'Thank you: no/ I handed him the key of my bag, flung 
off coat and waistcoat, and sat down to unlace my boots. ' Your 
mistress is in the drawing-room, I suppose, with her guests?' 

'She is, sir/ 

'And Mr. Herbert?' 

' Mr. 'Erbert was to have been 'ome by ten-thirty. He is 
as you know, sir a little irregilar. But youth' William 
arranged my brushes carefully 'youth must 'ave its fling. 
Oh, he 's a caution ! ' A chuckle escaped him ; he checked it 
and was instantly demure. Almost, indeed, he eyed me with 
a look of rebuke. 'Anything more, sir?' 

'Nothing more, thank you/ 

He withdrew. I thrust my feet into the dressing slippers he 
had set out for me, and, dropping into an arm-chair, began to 
take stock of the situation. 'The one thing certain,' I told 
myself, 'is that Trewlove in my absence has let my house. 
Therefore Trewlove is certainly an impudent scoundrel, and 
any grand jury would bring in a true bill against him for a 
swindler. My tenants are a lady whose servants may not reveal 
her name, and a young man her husband perhaps described 
as "a little irregilar." They are giving a large fancy-dress ball 
below which seems to prove that, at any rate, they don't fear 
publicity. And, further, although entire strangers to me, they 
are expecting my arrival and have prepared a room. Now, why ? ' 

Here lay the real puzzle, and for some minutes I could make 
nothing of it. Then I remembered my telegram. According 
to William it had been referred back to the post office. But 

126 The Collaborators 

William on his own admission had but retailed pantry gossip 
caught up from Mr. Horrex (presumably the butler). Had the 
telegram been sent back unopened? William's statement left 
this in doubt. Now supposing these people to be in league 
with Trewlove, they might have opened the 'telegram, and, 
finding to their consternation that I was already on the road 
and an exposure inevitable, have ordered my room to be pre- 
pared, trusting to throw themselves on my forgiveness, while 
Trewlove lay in hiding or was fleeing from vengeance across 
the high seas. Here was a possible explanation; but I will 
admit that it seemed, on second thoughts, an unlikely one. An 
irate landlord, returning unexpectedly and finding his house in 
possession of unauthorized tenants catching them, moreover, 
in the act of turning it upside-down with a fancy-dress ball 
would naturally begin to be nasty on the doorstep. The idea 
of placating him by a bedroom near the roof and the costume of 
a Punchinello was too bold altogether, and relied too much on 
his unproved fund of good nature. Moreover, Mr. Herbert 
(whoever he might be) would not have treated the situation so 
cavalierly. At the least (and however 'irregilar'), Mr. Herbert 
would have been waiting to deprecate vengeance. A wild sus- 
picion occurred to me that 'Mr. Herbert' might be another name 
for Trewlove, and that Trewlove under that name was gaining 
a short start from justice. But no: William had alluded to 
Mr. Herbert as to a youth sowing his wild oats. Impossible 
to contemplate Trewlove under this guise! Where then did 
Trewlove come in? Was he, perchance, 'Mr. Horrex,' the 

I gave it up and began thoughtfully, and not without difficulty, 
to case myself in the disguise of Punchinello. I resolved to see 
this thing through. The costume had evidently not been made 
to my measure, and in the process of enduing it I paused once 
or twice to speculate on the eccentricities of the figure to which 
it had been shaped or the abstract anatomical knowledge of the 
tailor who had shaped it. I declare that the hump seemed the 

The Collaborators 127 

one normal thing about it. But by this time my detective- 
hunger not to call it a thirst for vengeance was asserting 
itself above petty vanity. I squeezed myself into the costume; 
and then, clapping on the false nose, stood arrayed as queer a 
figure, surely, as ever was assumed by retributive Justice. 

So, with a heart hardened by indignation and prepared for 
the severest measures, I descended to the drawing-room landing. 
Two doors opened upon it that of the drawing-room itself, 
which faced over a terrace roofing the kitchens and across it to 
a garden in the rear of the house, and that of a room over- 
looking the street and scarcely less spacious. This had been the 
deceased General's bedroom, and in indolence rather than 
impiety I had left it unused with all its hideous furniture 
including the camp-bed which his martial habits affected. And 
this was the apartment I entered, curious to learn how it had 
been converted into a reception-room for the throng which 
now filled it. 

I recognized only the wall-paper. The furniture had been 
removed, the carpet taken up, the boards waxed to a high degree 
of slipperiness ; and across the far end stretched a buffet-table 
presided over by a venerable person in black, with white hair, 
a high clear complexion, and a deportment which hit a nice 
mean between the military and the episcopal. 

I had scarcely time to tell myself that this must be Mr. Horrex > 
before he looked up and caught sight of me. His features under- 
went a sudden and astonishing change; and almost dropping a 
bottle of champagne in his flurry, he came swiftly round the 
end of the buffet towards me. 

I knew not how to interpret his expression : surprise was in 
it, and eagerness, and suppressed agitation, and an appeal for 
secrecy, and at the same time (if I mistook not) a deep relief. 

'I beg your pardon, sir/ he began, in a sort of confidential 
whisper, very quick and low, 'but I was not aware you had 

I gazed at him with stern inquiry. 

128 The Collaborators 

'You are Mr. Richardson, are you not?' he asked. There 
could be no doubt of his agitation. 

'I am; and I have been in this, my house, for some three- 
quarters of an hour/ 

'They never told me!' he groaned. 'And I left particular 

instructions But perhaps you have already seen the 


'I have not. May I ask you to take me to her since I have 
not the pleasure of her acquaintance?' 

'Cert'nly, sir. Oh, at once! She is in the drawing-room 
putting the best face on it. Twice she has sent in to know 
if you have arrived, and I sent word, "No, not yet," though 
it cut me to the 'eart.' 

'She is anxious to see me?' 

'Desprit, sir.' 

'She thinks to avoid exposure, then?' said I darkly, keeping 
a set face. 

'She 'opes, sir: she devoutly 'opes.' He groaned and led 
the way. 'It may, after all, be a lesson to Mr. 'Erbert,' he 
muttered as we reached the landing. 

'I fancy it 's going to be a lesson to several of you.' 

'The things we've 'ad to keep dark, sir the goings-on!' 

'I can well believe it.' 

'I was in some doubts about you, sir begging your pardon: 
tut in spite of the dress, sir which gives a larky appearance, 
if I may say it and doubtless is so meant you reassure me, 
sir: you do indeed. I feel the worst is over. We can put 
ourselves in your 'ands.' 

'You have certainly done that,' said I. 'As for the worst 
being over ' 

We were within the drawing-room by this time, and he 
plucked me by the sleeve in his excitement, yet deferentially. 
* Yonder is the mistress, sir in the yellow h'Empire satin 
talking with the gentleman in sky-blue rationals. Ah, she 
-sees you!' 

The Collaborators 129 

She did. And I read at once in her beautiful eyes that while 
talking with her partner she had been watching the door for me. 
She came towards me with an eager catch of the breath one 
so very like a cry of relief that in the act of holding out her 
hand she had to turn to the nearest guests and explain. 

'It's Mr. Richardson "George Anthony," you know 
who wrote Larks in Aspic\ I had set my heart on his coming, 
and had almost given him up. Why are you so cruelly late?' 
she demanded, turning her eyes on mine. 

Her hand was still held out to me. I had meant to hold 
myself up stiffly and decline it; but somehow I could not. She 
was a woman, after all, and her look told me and me only 
that she was in trouble. Also I knew her by face and by report. 
I had seen her acting in more than one exceedingly stupid 
musical comedy, and wondered why 'Clara Joy* condescended 
to waste herself upon such inanities. I recalled certain notes 
in her voice, certain moments when, in the midst of the service 
of folly, she had seemed to isolate herself and stand watching, 
aloof from the audience and her fellow-actors, almost pathetically 
alone. Report said, too, that she was good, and that she had 
domestic troubles, though it had not reached me what these 
troubles were. Certainly she appeared altogether too good for 
these third-rate guests for third rate they were to the most 
casual eye. And the trouble, which signalled to me now in 
her look, clearly and to my astonishment included no remorse 
for having walked into a stranger's house and turned it upside- 
down without so much as a by-your-leave. She claimed my 
goodwill confidently, without any appeal to be forgiven. I held 
my feelings under rein and took her hand. 

As I released it she motioned me to give her my arm. 'I must 
find you supper at once,' she said quietly, in a tone that warned 
me not to decline. 'Not not in there; we will try the library 

Down to the library I led her accordingly, and somehow was 
aware by that supernumerary sense which works at times in 

130 The Collaborators 

the back of a man's head of Horrex discreetly following us. 
At the library door she turned to him. 'When I ring/ she said. 
He bowed and withdrew. 

The room was empty and dark. She switched on the light 
and nodded to me to close the door. 

'Take that off, please/ she commanded. 

*I beg your pardon? . . . Ah, to be sure: I had forgotten 
my false nose/ 

'How did Herbert pick up with you?' she asked musingly. 
'His friends are not usually so so ' 

'Respectable?' I suggested. 

'I think I meant to say "presentable." They are never 
respectable by any chance.' 

'Then, happily, it still remains to be proved that I am one 
of them.' 

'He seems, at any rate, to reckon you high amongst them, 
since he gave your name.' 

'Gave my name? To whom?' 

' Oh, I don't know to the magistrate or the policeman 
or whoever it is. I have never been in a police cell myself,' 
she added, with a small smile. 

'Is Herbert, then, in a police cell?' 

She nodded. 'At Vine Street. He wants to be bailed out.' 

'What amount?' 

'Himself in ten pounds and a friend in another ten. He gave 
your name; and the policeman is waiting for the answer.' 

'I see/ said I. 'But excuse me if I fail to see why, being 
apparently so impatient to bail him out, you have waited for 
me. To be sure (for reasons which are dark to me) he appears 
to have given my name to the police; but we will put that riddle 
aside for the moment. Any respectable citizen would have 
served, with the money to back him. Why not have sent 
Horrex, for example?' 

'But I thought the the ' 

'Surety?' I suggested. 

The Collaborators 131 

'I thought he must be a householder. No/ she cried, as I 
turned away with a slight shrug of the shoulder, ' that was not the 
real reason! Herbert is oh, why will you force me to say it?' 

'I beg your pardon/ said I. 'He is at certain times not too 
tractable; Horrex, in particular, cannot be trusted to manage 
him; and and in short you wish him released as soon as 
possible, but not brought home to this house until your guests 
have taken leave?' 

She nodded at me with swimming eyes. She was passing 
beautiful, more beautiful than I had thought. 

'Yes, yes; you understand! And I thought that as his 
friend and with your influence over him ' 

I pulled out my watchl 'Has Horrex a hansom in waiting?' 

'A four-wheeler/ she corrected me. Our eyes met, and with 
a great pity I read in hers that she knew only too well the 
kind of cab suitable. 

'Then let us have in die policeman. A four-wheeler will 
be better, as you suggest, since with your leave I am going to 
take Horrex with me. The fact is, I am a little in doubt as to 
my influence : for to tell you the plain truth, I have never to my 
knowledge set eyes on your husband.' 

' My husband ? ' She paused with her hand on the bell-pull, and 
gazed at me blankly. ' My husband ? ' She began to laugh softly, 
uncannily, in a way that tore my heart. 'Herbert is my brother.' 

'Oh!' said I, feeling pretty much of a fool. 

'But what gave you what do you mean ' 

'Lord knows/ I interrupted her; 'but if you will tell Horrex 
to get himself and the policeman into the cab, I will run upstairs, 
dress, and join them in five minutes.' 


In five minutes I had donned my ordinary clothes again and, 
descending through the pack of guests to the front door, found 
a four-wheeler waiting, with Horrex inside and a policeman 
whom, as I guessed, he had been drugging with strong waters 

132 The Collaborators 

for an hour past in some secluded chamber of the house. The 
fellow was somnolent, and in sepulchral silence we journeyed 
to Vine Street. There I chose to be conducted to the cell 
alone, and Mr. Horrex, hearing my decision, said fervently, 
'May you be rewarded for your goodness to me and mine!' 

I discovered afterwards that he had a growing family of six 
dependent on him, and think this must explain a gratefulness 
which puzzled me at the time. 

' He 's quieter this last half-hour/ said the police sergeant, un- 
locking the cell and opening the door with extreme caution. 

The light fell and my eyes rested on a sandy-haired youth 
with a receding chin, a black eye, a crumpled shirt-front smeared 
with blood, and a dress-suit split and soiled with much rolling 
in the dust. 

* Friend of yours, sir, to bail you out,' announced the sergeant 

'I have no friends,' answered the prisoner in hollow tones. 
'Who's this Johnny?' 

'My name is Richardson,' I began. 

'From the Grampian Hills? APri', old man; what can I do 
for you?' 

'Well, if you 've no objection, I 've come to bail you out.' 

' Norra a bit of it. Go 'way : I want t' other Richardson, 
good old larks-in-aspic! Sergeant ' 


'I protest you hear? protest in sacred name of law; case 
of mish case of mistaken 'dentity. Not this Richardson 
take him away! Don't blame you: common name. Richard- 
son / want has whiskers down to here, tiddy-fol-ol ; calls 'em 
"Piccadilly weepers." Can't mistake him. If at first you 
don't succeed, try, try again.' 

'Look here,' said I, 'just you listen to this; I 'm Richardson, 
and I 'm here to bail you out.' 

'Can't do it, old man; mean well, no doubt, but can't do it. 
One may lead a horse to the water twenty can't bail him out. 
Go 'way and don't fuss/ 

The Collaborators 133 

I glanced at the sergeant. 'You '11 let me deal with him as 
I like? 1 I asked. 

He grinned. * Bless you, sir, we 're used to it. / ain't 

'Thank you.' I turned to the prisoner. 'Now, then, you 
drunken little hog, stand up and walk,' said T, taking him by 
the ear and keeping my left ready. 

I suppose that the drink suddenly left him weak, for he stood 
up at once. 

' There 's some ho horrible mistake,' he began to whimper. 
'But if the worst comes to the worst, you '11 adopt me, won't 

Still holding him by the ear, I led him forth and flung him 
into the cab, in a corner of which the trembling Horrex had 
already huddled himself. He fell, indeed, across Horrex's knees, 
and at once screamed aloud. 

'Softly, softly, Master 'Erbert,' whispered the poor man 
soothingly. 'It 's only poor old Horrex, that you 've known 
since a boy.' 

'Horrex?' Master Herbert straightened himself up. 'Do 
I understand you to say, sir, that your name is Horrex ? Then 
allow me to tell you, Horrex, that you are no gentleman. You 
hear?' He spoke with anxious lucidity, leaning forward and 
tapping the butler on the knee. 'No gentleman.' 

'No, sir,' assented Horrex. 

'That being the case, we '11 say no more about it. I decline 
to argue with you. If you 're waking, call me early there 's 
many a black, black eye, Horrex, but none so black as mine. 
Call me at eleven-fifteen, bringing with you this gentleman's 
blood in a bottle an 9 don't forget soda. Goo'-night, go 
bye-bye. . . .' 

By the fleeting light of a street-lamp I saw his head drop 
forward, and a minute later he was gently snoring. 

It was agreed that on reaching home Master Herbert must 
be smuggled into the basement of No. 402 and put to rest on 

134 The Collaborators 

Horrex's own bed; also that, to avoid the line of carriages 
waiting in the Cromwell Road for the departing guests, the cab 
should take us round to the gardens at the back. I carried on 
my chain a key which would admit us to these and unlock the 
small gate between them and the kitchens. This plan of action 
so delighted Horrex that for a moment I feared he was going 
to clasp my hands. 

'If it wasn't irreverent, sir, I could almost say you had 
dropped on me from heaven!' 

'You may alter your opinion,' said I grimly, 'before I've 
done dropping.' 

At the garden entrance we paid and dismissed the cab. 
I took Master Herbert's shoulders and Horrex his heels, and 
between us we carried his limp body across the turf a pro- 
cession so suggestive of dark and secret tragedy that I blessed 
our luck for protecting us from the casual intrusive policeman. 
Our entrance by the kitchen passage, however, was not so 
fortunate. Stealthily as we trod, our footsteps reached the ears 
in the servants' hall, and we were met by William and a small 
but compact body of female servants urging him to armed 
resistance. A kitchen-maid fainted away as soon as we were 
recognized, and the strain of terror relaxed. 

I saw at once that Master Herbert's condition caused them no 
surprise. We carried him to the servants' hall and laid him in 
an arm-chair, to rest our arms, while the motherly cook lifted 
his unconscious head to lay a pillow beneath it. 

As she did so, a bell jangled furiously on the wall above. 

'Good Lord!' Horrex turned a scared face up at it. 'The 

'What 's the matter in the library?' 

But he was gone: to reappear, a minute later, with a face 
whiter than ever. 

'The mistress wants you at on'st, sir, if you '11 follow me. 
William, run out and see if you can raise another cab four- 

The Collaborators 135 

'What, at this time of night?' answered William. 'Get 
along with you!' 

'Do your best, lad.' Mr. Horrex appealed gently but with 
pathetic dignity. 'If there's miracles indoors there may be 
miracles outside. This way, sir!' 

He led me to the library door, knocked softly, opened it, 
and stood aside for me to enter. 

Within stood his mistress, confronting another policeman! 

Her hands rested on the back of a library chair: and though 
she stood up bravely and held herself erect with her finger-tips 
pressed hard into the leather, I saw that she was swaying on the 
verge of hysterics, and I had the sense to speak sharply. 

'What 's the meaning of this?' I demanded. 

'This one comes from Maryborough Street!' she gasped. 

I stepped back to the door, opened it, and, as I expected, 
discovered Horrex listening. 

'A bottle of champagne and a glass at once,' I commanded, 
and he sped. 'And now, Miss Joy, if you please, the constable 
and I will do the talking. What 's your business, constable?' 

' Prisoner wants bail, sir,' answered the policeman. 


' George Anthony Richardson.' 

'Yes, yes but I mean the prisoner's name.' 

'That 's what I 'm telling you. "George Anthony Richard- 
son, four-nought-two, Cromwell Road" that's the name on 
the sheet, and I heard him give it myself.' 

'And I thought, of course, it must be you,' put in Clara; 
'and I wondered what dreadful thing could have happened 
until Horrex appeared and told me you were safe, and 
Herbert too ' 

'I think,' said I, going to the door again and taking the 
tray from Horrex, 'that you were not to talk. Drink this, 

She took the glass, but with a rebellious face. ' Oh, if you 
take that tone with me ' 

136 The Collaborators 

'I do. And now,' I turned to the constable, 'what name 
did he give for his surety?' 

'Herbert Jarmayne, same address.' 

'Herbert Jarmayne?' I glanced at Clara, who nodded back, 
pausing as she lifted her glass. 'Ah! yes yes, of course. 
How much?' 

'Two tenners.' 

'Deep answering deep. Drunk and disorderly, I suppose?' 

'Blind. He was breaking glasses at Toscano's and swearing 
he was Sir Charles Wyndham in David Garrick : but he settled 
down quiet at the station, and when I left he was talking religious 
and saying he pitied nine-tenths of the world, for they were 
going to get it hot.' 

'Trewlove!' I almost shouted, wheeling round upon Clara. 

'I beg your pardon?' 

'No, of course you wouldn't understand. But all the same 
it's Trewlove!' I cried, radiant. 'Eh?' this to Horrex, 
mumbling in the doorway 'the cab outside? Step along, 
constable : I '11 follow in a moment to identify your prisoner, 
not to bail him out.' Then as he touched his helmet and 
marched out after Horrex: 'By George, though! Trewlove!' 
I muttered, meeting Clara's eye and laughing. 

'So you've said,' she agreed doubtfully; 'but it seems a 
funny sort of explanation.' 

'It's as simple as A B C,' I assured her. 'The man at 
Marlborough Street is the man who let you this house.' 

'I took it through an agent.' 

'I 'm delighted to hear it. Then the man at Marlborough 
Street is the man for whom the agent let the house.' 

'Then you are not Mr. Richardson not "George Anthony" 
and you didn't write Larks in Aspic}' said she, with a 
flattering shade of disappointment in her tone. 

'Oh! yes, I did.' 

'Then I don't understand in the least unless unless ' 

She put out two deprecating hands. 'You don't mean to tell 

The Collaborators 137 

me that this is your house, and we 've been living in it without 
your knowledge! Oh! why didn't you tell me?' 

'Come, I like that!' said I. 'You'll admit, on reflection, 
that you haven't given me much time.' 

But she stamped her foot. 'I '11 go upstairs and pack at 
once,' she declared. 

' That will hardly meet the case, I 'm afraid. You forget that 
your brother is downstairs: and by his look, when I left him, 
he '11 take a deal of packing.' 

' Herbert ? ' She put a hand to her brow. ' I was forgetting. 
Then you are not Herbert's friend after all?' 

'I have made a beginning. But in fact, I made his acquain- 
tance at Vine Street just now. Trewlove that 's my scoundrel 
of a butler has been making up to him under my name. 
They met at the house-agent's, probably. The rogue models 

himself upon me: but when it comes to letting my house 

By the way, have you paid him by cheque?' 

'I paid the agent. I knew nothing of you until Herbert 
announced that he 'd made your acquaintance ' 

'Pray go on,' said I, watching her troubled eyes. 'It would 
be interesting to hear how he described me.' 

* He used a very funny word. He said you were the rummiest 
thing in platers he 'd struck for a long while. But, of course, 
he was talking of the other man.' 

'Of course,' said I gravely: whereupon our eyes met, and 
we both laughed. 

'Ah, but you are kind!' she cried. 'And when I think how 

we have treated you if only I could think ' Her hand 

went up again to her forehead. 

'It will need some reparation,' said I. 'But we'll discuss 
that when I come back.' 

'Was was Herbert very bad?' She attempted to laugh, 
but tears suddenly brimmed her eyes. 

'I scarcely noticed,' said I; and, picking up my hat, went 
out hurriedly. 

138 The Collaborators 

Trewlove in his Marlborough Street cell was a disgusting 
object offensive to the eye and to one's sense of the dignity 
of man. At sight of me he sprawled, and when the shock of 
it was over he continued to grovel until the sight bred a shame 
in me for being the cause of it. What made it ten times worse 
was his curious insensibility even while he grovelled to the 
moral aspect of his behaviour. 

'You will lie here/ said I, 'until to-morrow morning, when 
you will probably be fined fifty shillings and costs, plus the 
cost of the broken glass at Toscano's. I take it for granted 
that the money will be paid?' 

'I will send, sir, to my lodgings for my cheque-book.' 

'It's a trifling matter, no doubt; but since you will be 
charged under the name of William John Trewlove, it will be 
a mistake to put "G. A. Richardson" on the cheque.' 

'It was an error of judgment, sir, my giving your name here.' 

'It was a worse one,' I assured him, 'to append it to the 
receipt for Miss Jarmayne's rent.' 

'You don't intend to prosecute, Mr. George?' 

'Why not?' 

'But you don't, sir; something tells me that you don't.' 

Well, in fact (as you may have guessed), I did not. I had 
no desire to drag Miss Jarmayne into further trouble; but I 
resented that the dog should count on my clemency without 
knowing the reason of it. 

'In justice to myself, sir, I 'ave to tell you that I shouldn't 
'ave let the 'ouse to hanybody. It was only that, she being 
connected with the stage, I saw a hopening. Mr. 'Erbert was, 
as you might say, a hafterthought : which, finding him so affable, 
I thought I might go one better. He cost me a pretty penny 
first and last. But when he offered to introjuice me and me, 
at his invite, going back to be put up at No. 402 like any other 
gentleman why, 'ow could I resist it?' 

The Collaborators 139 

'If I forbear to have you arrested, Trewlove, it will be on 
condition that you efface yourself. May I suggest some 
foreign country, where, in a colony of the Peculiar People 
unacquainted with your past ' 

'I 'm tired of them, sir. Their style of life don't suit me 
nor yours I 've tried 'em both, and I give it up I 'm too late 
to learn; but I '11 say this for it, it cures you of wantin' to go 
back and be a Peculiar. Now, if you 've no objection, sir, 
I thought of takin' a little public down Putney way.' 

' You mean it ? ' asked Clara, a couple of hours later. 

'I mean it,' said I. 

'And I am to live on here alone as your tenant?' 

'As my tenant, and so long as it pleases you.' I struck a 
match to light her bedroom candle, and with that we both 
laughed, for the June dawn was pouring down on us through 
the stairway skylight. 

'Shall I see you to-morrow, to say good-bye?' 

'I expect not. We shall catch the first boat.' 

'The question is, will you get Herbert awake in time to 
explain matters?' 

'I'll undertake that. Horrex has already packed for him. 
Oh, you needn't fear: he'll be right enough at Ambleteuse, 
under my eye.' 

'It's good of you,' she said slowly; 'but why are you 
doing it?' 

' Can't say,' I answered lightly. 

'Well, good-bye, and God bless you!' She put out her 
hand. 'There's nothing I can say or do to ' 

' Oh, yes, by the way, there is/ I interrupted, tugging a key 
off my chain. 'You see this? It unlocks the drawers of a 
writing-table in your room. In the top left-hand drawer you 
will find a bundle of papers.' 

She passed up the stair before me and into the room. 'Is 

140 The Collaborators 

this what you want?' she asked, reappearing after a minute 
with my manuscript in her hand. 'What is it? A new 

'The makings of one/ said I. 'It was to fetch it that I came 
across from Ambleteuse.' 

'And dropped into another.' 

'Upon my word/ said I, 'you are right, and to-night's is a 
better one up to a point.' 

'What are you going to call it?' 

'My Tenant.' 

For a moment she seemed to be puzzled. 'But I mean the 
other,' said she, nodding towards the manuscript in my hand. 

'Indeed, that is its name,' said I, and showed her the title 
on the first page. 'And I 've a really splendid idea for the 
third act,' I added as we shook hands. 

I mounted the stairs to my room, tossed the manuscript into 
a chair, and began to wind up my watch. 

'But this other wants a third act too!' I told myself suddenly. 

You will observe that once or twice in the course of this 
narrative my pen has slipped and inadvertently called Miss 
Jarmayne 'Clara.' 


I do not hold up Joubert as a very astonishing and powerful genius, 
but rather as a delightful and edifying genius. ... He is the most 
prepossessing and convincing of witnesses to the good of loving light. 
Because he sincerely loved light, and did not prefer to it any little 
private darkness of his own, he found light. . . . And because he was 
full of light he was also full of happiness. . . . His life was as charming 
as his thoughts. For certainly it is natural that the love of light, which 
is already in some measure the possession of light, should irradiate 
and beatify the whole life of him who has it. 

MANY a reader of Essays in Criticism must have paused 
and in thought transferred to Matthew Arnold these words 
of his in praise of Joubert, as well as the fine passage in which 
he goes on to ask What, in literature, we mean by fame ? Only 
two kinds of authors (he tells us) are secure of fame : the first 
being the Homers, Dantes, Shakespeares, 'the great abiding 
fountains of truth,' whose praise is for ever and ever. But 
beside these sacred personages stand certain elect ones, less 
majestic, yet to be recognized as of the same family and character 
with the greatest, 'exercising like them an immortal function, 
and like them inspiring a permanent interest.' The fame of 
these also is assured. 'They will never, like the Shakespeares, 
command the homage of the multitude; but they are safe; the 
multitude will not trample them down.' 

To this company Matthew Arnold belongs. We all feel it, 
and some of us can give reasons for our confidence; but per- 
haps, if all our reasons were collected, the feeling would be 
found to reach deeper into certainty than any of them. He 
was never popular, and never will be. Yet no one can say 
that, although at one time he seemed to vie with the public in 
distrusting it, his poetry missed its mark. On the other hand. 

142 Matthew Arnold 

while his critical writings had swift and almost instantaneous 
effect for good, the repute they brought him was moderate and 
largely made up of misconception. For the mass of his country- 
men he came somehow to personify a number of things which 
their minds vaguely associated with kid gloves, and by his 
ironical way of playing with the misconception he did more 
than a little to confirm it. But in truth Arnold was a serious 
man who saw life as a serious business and chiefly relied, for 
making the best of it, upon a serene common sense. He had 
elegance, to be sure, and was inclined at any rate, in contro- 
versy to be conscious of it; but it was elegance of that plain 
Attic order to which common sense gives the law and almost 
the inspiration. The man and the style were one. Alike in 
his life and his writings he observed and preached the golden 
mean, with a mind which was none the less English and practical 
if, in expressing it, he deliberately and almost defiantly avoided 
that emphasis which Englishmen love to a fault. 

Matthew Arnold, eldest son of Dr. Thomas Arnold, the 
famous Head Master of Rugby, was born on Christmas Eve, 
1822, at Laleham on the Thames, where his father at that time 
taught private pupils. The child was barely six years old when 
the family removed to Rugby, and at seven he returned to Lale- 
ham to be taught by his uncle, the Rev. John Buckland. In 
August, 1836, he proceeded to Winchester, but was removed 
at the end of a year and entered Rugby, where he remained 
until he went up to Balliol College, Oxford, in 1841, with an 
open scholarship. He had written a prize poem at Rugby 
the subject, Alaric at Rome ; and on this performance he improved 
by taking the Newdigate in 1843 the subject, Cromwell. But 
we need waste no time on these exercises, which are of interest 
only to people interested in such things. It is better worth 
noting that the boy had been used to spending his holidays, and 
now spent a great part of his vacations, at Fox How, near 
Grasmere, a house which Dr. Arnold had taken to refresh his 
eyes and his spirits after the monotonous ridge and furrow, 

Matthew Arnold 143 

field and hedgerow, around Rugby; and that, as Mr. Herbert 
Paul puts it, young Matthew 'thus grew up under the shadow 
of Wordsworth^ whose brilliant and penetrating interpreter he 
was destined to become/ Genius collects early, and afterwards 
distils from recollection; and if its spirit, like that of the 
licentiate Pedro Garcias, is to be disinterred, he who would 
find Matthew Arnold's must dig in and around Fox How and 

At Oxford, which he loved passionately, he 'missed his first,' 
but atoned for this, three months later, by winning a fellowship 
at Oriel. (This was in 1844-5. His father had died in 1842.) 
He stayed up, however, but a short while after taking his degree : 
went back to Rugby as an assistant master; relinquished this in 
1847 to become private secretary to Lord Lansdowne, then 
President of the Council; and was by him appointed in 1851 
to an Inspectorship of Schools, which he retained for five-and- 
thirty years. In 1851, too, he married Frances Lucy Wight- 
man, daughter of a Judge of the Queen's Bench; and so settled 
down at the same time to domestic happiness and to daily work 
which, if dull sometimes, was not altogether ungrateful as it was 
never less than conscientiously performed. 

Meanwhile, in 1849, he had put forth a thin volume, The 
Strayed Reveller, and other Poems, by A\ which was followed 
in 1852 by Empedocles on Etna, and other Poems, by A. In 
1853 he dropped anonymity and under the title Poems, by 
Matthew Arnold republished the contents of these two volumes, 
omitting Empedocles, with a few minor pieces, and adding some 
priceless things, such as Sohrab and Rustum, The Church of 
Brou, Requiescat, and The Scholar-Gipsy. 

'It was received, we believe, with general indifference,' wrote 
Mr. Froude of the first volume, in The Westminster Review, 
1854. We need not trouble to explain the fact, beyond saying 
that English criticism was just then at about the lowest ebb it 
reached in the last century, and that the few capable ears were 
occupied by the far more confident voice of Tennyson and the 

144 Matthew Arnold 

far more disconcerting one of Browning: but the fact sur- 
prising when all allowance has been made must be noted, for 
it is important to remember that the most and best of Arnold's 
poetry was written before he gained the world's ear, and that 
he gained it not as a poet but as a critic. In 1855 appeared 
Poems by Matthew Arnold, Second Series, of which only Balder 
Dead and Separation were new; and in 1858 Merope with its 
Preface: but in the interval between them he had been elected 
Professor of Poetry at Oxford (May 1857). 

The steps by which a reputation grows, the precise moment 
at which it becomes established, are often difficult to trace and 
fix. The poems, negligently though they had been received at 
first, must have helped : and, since men who improve an office 
are themselves usually improved by it, assuredly the professor- 
ship helped too. The lectures on Homer which adorned 
Arnold's first tenure of the Chair strike a new note of criticism, 
speak with a growing undertone of authority beneath their 
modest professions, and would suffice to explain if mere 
custom did not even more easily explain why in 1862 he 
was re-elected for another five years. But before 1865, no 
doubt, the judicious who knew him had tested him by 
more than his lectures, and were prepared for Essays in 

Although we are mainly concerned here with the poems, a 
word must be said on Essays in Criticism, which Mr. Paul pro- 
nounces to be 'Mr. Arnold's most important work in prose, the 
central book, so to speak, of his life.' Mr. Saintsbury calls it 
"the first full and varied, and perhaps always the best, expression 
and illustration of the author's critical attitude, the detailed 
manifesto and exemplar of the new critical method, and so one 
of the epoch-making books of the later nineteenth century in 
English' and on this subject Mr. Saintsbury has a peculiar 
right to be heard. 

Now for a book to be 'epoch-making' it must bring to its 
age something which its age conspicuously lacks: and Essays 

Matthew Arnold 145 

in Criticism did this. No one remembering what Dryden did, 
and Johnson, and Coleridge, and Lamb, and Hazlitt, will pre- 
tend that Arnold invented English criticism, or that he did well 
what these men had done ill. What he did, and they missed 
doing, was to treat criticism as a deliberate disinterested art, 
with laws and methods of its own, a proper temper, and certain 
standards or touchstones of right taste by which the quality of 
any writing, as literature, could be tested. In other words he 
introduced authority and, with authority, responsibility, into a 
business which had hitherto been practised at the best by 
brilliant nonconformists and at the worst by Quarterly Reviewers, 
who, taking for their motto Judex damnatur cum nocens absolvitur^ 
either forgot or never surmised that to punish the guilty can be 
but a corollary of a higher obligation to discover the truth. 
Nor can any one now read the literature of that period without 
a sense that Arnold's teaching was indispensably needed just 
then. A page of Macaulay or of Carlyle dazzles us with its 
rhetoric; strikes, arrests, excites us with a number of things 
tellingly put and in ways we had scarcely guessed to be possible; 
but it no longer convinces. It does not even dispose us to be 
convinced, since (to put it vulgarly) we feel that the author 
'is not out after* truth; that Macaulay's William III is a figure 
dressed up and adjusted to prove Macaulay's thesis, and that 
the France of Carlyle's French Revolution not only never existed 
but, had it ever existed, would not be France. Arnold helping 
us, we see these failures for surely that history is a failure 
which, like Cremorne, will not bear the daylight to be in- 
evitable in a republic of letters where laws are not and wherein 
each author writes at the top of his own bent, indulging and 
exploiting his personal eccentricity to the fullest. It has prob- 
ably been the salvation of our literature that in the fourteenth 
tontury the Latin prevailed over the Anglo-Saxon line of its 
descent, and that in the forming of our verse as well as of our 
prose we had, at the critical moments, the literatures of Latin 
races, Italian or French, for models and correctives; as it was 

146 Matthew Arnold 

the misfortune of the Victorian period before 1865 that its men 
of genius wrote with eyes turned inward upon themselves or, 
if outward, upon that German literature which, for all its great 
qualities, must ever be dangerous to Englishmen because it 
flatters and encourages their special faults. 1 

Of Arnold from 1865 onward of the books in which he 
enforced rather than developed his critical method (for all the 
gist of it may be found in Essays in Criticism) of his incursions 
into the fields of politics and theology much might be written, 
but it would not be germane to our purpose. New Poems, 
including Bacchanalia, or the New Age, Dover Beach, and the 
beautiful Thyrsis, appeared in 1867; and thereafter for the last 
twenty years of his life he wrote very little in verse, though the 
fine Westminster Abbey proved that the Muse had not died in 
him. He used his hold upon the public ear to preach some 
sermons which, as a good citizen, he thought the nation needed. 
In his hard-working official life he rendered services which those 
of us who engage in the work of English education are constantly 
and gratefully recognizing in their effects; and we still toil in 
the wake of his ideals. He retired in November, 1886. He 
died on April i5th, 1888, of heart failure: he had gone to 
Liverpool to meet his eldest daughter on her return from the 
United States, and there, in running to catch a tram-car, he fell 
and died in a moment. He was sixty-five, but in appearance 
carried his years lightly. He looked, and was, a distinguished 
and agreeable man. Of good presence and fine manners; per- 
fect in his domestic relations, genial in company and radiating 
cheerfulness; setting a high aim to his official work yet ever 
conscientious in details; he stands (apart from his literary 
achievement) as an example of the Englishman at his best. He 
cultivated this best deliberately. His daily note-books were 
filled with quotations, high thoughts characteristically chosen 
and jotted down to be borne in mind ; and some of these such 

1 That Matthew Arnold himself over-valued contemporary German 
literature does not really affect our argument. 

Matthew Arnold 147 

as Semper aliquid certi proponendum est and Ecce labora et noli 
contristari! recur again and again. But the result owed its 
amiability also to that * timely relaxation' counselled by 
Milton : 

To measure life, learn thou betimes, and know 
Toward solid good what leads the nearest way ; 
For other things mild Heav'n a time ordains, 
And disapproves that care, though wise in show, 
That with superfluous burden loads the day, 
And when God sends a cheerful hour, refrains. 

To those, then, who tell us that Arnold's poetic period was 
brief, and imply that it was therefore disappointing, we might 
answer that this is but testimony to the perfect development of 
a life which in due season used poetry and at the due hour cast 
it away, to proceed to things more practical. But this would 
be to err almost as deeply as those who tell us that Arnold, as 
he himself said of Gray, 'never spoke out' whereas Arnold 
habitually spoke out, and now and then even too insistently. 
Again it would be a mistake for us to apply to him au pied de 
la lettre the over-sad verses: 

Youth rambles on life's arid mount, 

And strikes the rock, and finds the vein, 

And brings the water from the fount, 
The fount which shall not flow again. 

The man mature with labour chops 
For the bright stream a channel grand, 

And sees not that the sacred drops 
Ran off and vanish'd out of hand. 

And then the old man totters nigh, 

And feebly rakes among the stones. 
The mount is mute, the channel dry; 

And down he lays his weary bones. 

148 Matthew Arnold 

Yet it were stupid not to recognize that here is contained a cer- 
tain amount of general truth and of truth particularly applicable 
to Arnold. 'The poet/ Mr. Saintsbury writes of him (and it 
sums up the matter), 'has in him a vein, or, if the metaphor be 
preferred, a spring, of the most real and rarest poetry. But the 
vein is constantly broken by faults, and never very thick; the 
spring is intermittent, and runs at times by drops only/ Else- 
where Mr. Saintsbury speaks of his 'elaborate assumption of 
the singing-robe,' a phrase very happily critical. Arnold felt 
no man more deeply the majesty of the poet's function: he 
solemnly attired himself to perform it: but the singing-robe 
was not his daily wear. The ample pall in which Tennyson 
swept, his life through, as to the manner born ; the stiffer skirts 
in which Wordsworth walked so complacently; these would 
have intolerably cumbered the man who protested that even 
the title of Professor made him uneasy. Wordsworth and 
Tennyson were bards, authentic and unashamed; whereas in 
Arnold, as Sir William Watson has noted, 

Something of worldling mingled still 
With bard and sage. 

There was never a finer worldling than Matthew Arnold: but 
the criticism is just. 

The critics, while noting this, have missed something which 
to us seems to explain much in Arnold's verse. We said just 
now that English literature has been fortunate in what it owes 
to the Latin races ; we may add that it has been most fortunate 
in going to Italy for instruction in its verse, to France for in- 
struction in its prose. This will be denied by no one who has 
studied Elizabethan poetry or the prose of the 'Augustan* age: 
and as little will any one who has studied the structure of poetry 
deny that Italy is the natural, France the unnatural, school for 
an English poet. The reason is not that we understand Italian 
better than French history and with more sympathy though 

Matthew Arnold 149 

this, too, scarcely admits of dispute; nor again that the past of 
Italy appeals to emotions of which poetry is the consecrated 
language. It lies in the very structure and play of the lan- 
guage; so that an Englishman who has but learnt how to pro- 
nounce the Italian vowels can read Italian poetry passably. 
The accent comes to him at once ; the lack of accent in French 
remains foreign after many months of study. Now although 
Arnold was no great admirer of French poetry (and indeed had 
a particular dislike for the Alexandrine), France was, to him, 
among modern nations, the heir of those classical qualities which 
differentiate the Greek from the barbarian, and his poetry seems 
ever to be striving to reproduce the Greek note through verse 
subdued to a French flatness of tone, as though (to borrow a 
metaphor from another art) its secret lay in low relief. But an 
English poet fighting against emphasis is as a man fighting 
water with a broom: and an English poet, striving to be un- 
emphatic, must yet contrive to be various, or he is naught. 
Successfully as he managed his prose, when he desired it to be 
emphatic Arnold had, in default of our native methods of 
emphasis, to fall back upon that simple repetition which irritates 
so many readers. In his poetry the devices are yet more clumsy. 
We suppose that no English poet before or since has so cruelly 
overworked the interjection 'Ah!' But far worse than any 
number of *ah!V is Arnold's trick of italic type: 

How / bewail you ! . . . 

We mortal millions live alone . . 

In the rustling night-air comes the answer : 

' Wouldst thou be as these are ? Live as they ! ' . . . 

a device almost unpardonable in poetry. So when he would 
give us variety, as in Tristram and Iseult, Arnold has no 
better resource than frequent change of metre: and although 

1 50 Matthew Arnold 

every reader must have felt the effect of that sudden fine 

What voices are these on the clear night-air ? 

What lights in the court what steps on the stair? . . . 

yet some must also have reflected that the great masters, having 
to tell a story, choose their one metre and, having chosen, so 
adapt and handle it that it tells all. Sohrab and Rustum indeed 
tells itself perfectly, from its first line to its noble close. But 
Sohrab and Rustum is, and professes to be, an episode. Balder 
is little more, and most readers find Balder, in spite of its fine 
passages and general dignity, long enough. Arnold let it be 
repeated was not a bard: not a Muse-intoxicated man. He 
had not the bardic, the architectonic, gift. * Something of the 
worldling* in him forbade any such fervour as, sustained day 
after day for years, gave the world Paradise Lost, and inci- 
dentally, no doubt, made Milton's daughters regret at times 
that their father was not as ordinary men. 

Nor had Arnold an impeccable ear for rhyme (in The New 
Sirens, for instance, he rhymes 'dawning* with 'morning*) : and 
if we hesitate to follow the many who have doubted his ear for 
rhythm, it is not for lack of apparently good evidence, but 
because some of his rhythms which used to give us pause have 
come, upon longer acquaintance, to fascinate us: and the ex- 
planation may be, as we have hinted, that they follow the 
French rather than the Italian use of accent, and are strange to 
us rather than in themselves unmusical. Certainly the critics 
who would have us believe that The Strayed Reveller is an 
unmusical poem will not at this time of day persuade us by 
the process of taking a stanza or two and writing them down 
in the form of prose. We could do the same with a dozen 
lines of The Tempest or Antony and Cleopatra, were it worth 
doing; and prove just as much, or as little. 

Something of Arnold's own theory of poetry may be extracted 
from the prefaces of 1853 an d 1854. They contain, like the 

Matthew Arnold 151 

prefaces of Dryden and of Wordsworth, much wisdom ; but the 
world, perhaps even more wisely, refuses to judge a poet by his 
theory, which (however admirable) seldom yields up his secret. 
Yet Arnold had a considered view of what the poet should 
attempt and what avoid ; and that he followed it would remain 
certain although much evidence were accumulated to prove that 
he who denounced 'poetry's eternal enemy, Caprice,' could him- 
self be, on occasion, capricious. He leaves the impression that 
he wrote with difficulty; his raptures, though he knew rapture, 
are infrequent. But through all his work there runs a strain of 
serious elevated thought, and on it all there rests an air of 
composure equally serious and elevated a trifle statuesque, 
perhaps, but by no means deficient in feeling. No one can 
read, say, the closing lines of Mycennus and fail to perceive 
these qualities. No one can read any considerable portion of 
his work and deny that they are characteristic. Nor, we think, 
can any one study the poetry of 1850 and thereabouts without 
being forced to admit that it needed these qualities of thoughtful- 
ness and composure which Arnold brought to it. He has been 
criticized for discovering in Tennyson a certain 'deficiency in 
intellectual power.' But is he by this time alone in that dis- 
covery? And if no lack of thoughtfulness can be charged 
against Browning as it cannot is not Browning violent, un- 
chastened, far too often energetic for energy's sake? Be it 
granted that Arnold in poetical strength was no match for these 
champions: yet he brought to literature, and in a happy hour, 
that which they lacked, insisting by the example of his verse, 
as well as by the precepts of his criticism, that before anything 
becomes literature it must observe two conditions it must be 
worth saying, and it must be worthily written. 

Also he continued, if with a difference, that noble Words- 
worthian tradition which stood in some danger of perishing 
chiefly, we think, beneath the accumulation of rubbish piled 
upon it by its own author during his later years. That which 
Matthew Arnold disinterred and repolished may have been but 

152 Matthew Arnold 

a fragment. His page has not, says Mr. Watson, 'the deep, 
authentic mountain- thrill/ We grant that Arnold's feeling for 
Nature has not the Wordsworthian depth: but so far as it 
penetrates it is genuine. Lines such as 

While the deep-burnish'd foliage overhead 
Splintered the silver arrows of the moon . . . 

may owe their felicity to phrase rather than to feeling. The 
Mediterranean landscape in A Southern Night may seem almost 
too exquisitely elaborated. Yet who can think of Arnold's 
poetry as a whole without feeling that Nature is always behind 
it as a living background ? whether it be the storm of wind 
and rain shaking Tintagel 

I forgot, thou comest from thy voyage 
Yes, the spray is on thy cloak and hair . . . 

or the scent-laden water-meadows along Thames, or the pine 
forests on the flank of Etna, or an English garden in June, or 
Oxus, its mists and fens and 'the hush'd Chorasmian waste/ 
If Arnold's love of natural beauty have not those moments of 
piercing apprehension which in his master's poetry seem to break 
through dullness into the very heaven : if he have not that secret 
which Wordsworth must have learnt upon the Cumbrian 
mountains, from moments when the clouds drift apart and the 
surprised climber sees all Windermere, all Derwentwater, 
shining at his feet ; if on the other hand his philosophy of life, 
rounded and complete, seem none too hopeful, but call man back 
from eager speculations which man will never resign : if it repress, 
where Browning encouraged, our quest after 

Thoughts hardly to be pack'd 

WitKin the narrow act, 

Fancies that broke through language and escaped . . . 

yet his sense of atmosphere, of background, of the great stage 
on which man plays his part, gives Arnold's teaching a wonder- 
ful comprehension, within its range. 'This,' we say, 'is poetry 

Matthew Arnold 153 

we can trust, not to flatter us, but to sustain, console/ If the 
reader mistake it for the last word on life his trust in it will be 
illusory. It brings rather that 

lull in the hot race 
Wherein he doth for ever chase 
That flying and elusive shadow, rest. 
An air of coolness plays upon his face, 
And an unwonted calm pervades his breast ; 
And then . . . 

^if after protesting against italics in poetry we may italicize 
ivhere, for once, Arnold missed the opportunity) 

he thinks he knows 
The hills where his life rose, 
And the sea where it goes. 


Ann. MCMVI1 in F lor alia Compositum * 

agni humilesque colles, 
hodie cur exultetis : 
tu praesertim, magnum Mare, 
fac me certiorem quare 
baud dedignas crura dare 
hiphoorariis in fretis ? 

Venit annus, venit mensis, 
cum Praefectus Londinensis 

red it in paterna rura : 
quem advenientem gratu- 
latur urbs in commeatu 
tympanis et aeris flatu : 

Ergo (aiunt) damus crura. 

Venit mensis, venit dies, 
Hellestoniensis quies 

ruit in immensum sonum: 
foris, foras, turn in forum 
per praesepia caballorum 2 
ducimus antiquum chorum 

O qua musica trombonum! 

1 Welcoming Sir William Purdie Treloar, Bart., Lord Mayor of London, 
to his ancestral town of Helston in Cornwall, 8th May 1907, when he took 
part in the * Furry* or Feast of Flora annually held on that day. The 
inhabitants go out early to the fields to gather flowers and green branches, 
and returning dance through the streets and houses, in and out of the 
open doors. Q. 

1 The festivities include a horse show. Q. 


Carmen Hellestoniense 155 

Venit dies, venit hora, 
venit et solennis Flora 

mane quae postridie nonas 
Maias lucens exoptata 
nos e portis, nos in prata 
margaritis constellata 

vocat nectere coronas. 

Ambarvales prorsus retro 
(Locuples in curru petro- 

lensl, Lazarus in pannis) 
Maiae praedum reportantes 
irruamus corybantes 
te nostratem salutantes 

'Macte tu redi quotannis!* 

Eja collis cum agnello 

Cantat 'He 's a jolly good fellow!' 

id quod nemo denegare 
audet: 'mos est hie, ut malis, 
Militaris vel Navalis, 
hunc et Studii Generalis, 

proles solet celebrare ! * 

Tuque nostras, Anglicanae 
Urbis Metropolitanae 

et tutamen et decor, 
terram repetitam unde 
partus es ter pede tunde, 
Vir honorificabunde 

Gulielme P. Treloar! 


THE story of Coleridge's life is hard to write and, in a sense, 
even harder to read : hard to write because the innumerable 
lapses, infirmities, defections of the will, all claiming as facts 
to be chronicled, cannot but obscure that lovable living 
presence to which all his contemporaries bore witness and to 
which the biographer must hold fast or his portrait misses most 
that is true and essential ; and hard to read because the reader, 
at the hundredth instance of Coleridge's taking the wrong 
coach, or forgetting to write to his wife and family, or accepting 
money and neglecting the conditions on which it was bestowed, 
is apt to let Christian charity go to the winds, and so on his 
part, too, to miss, nor care that he misses, the better Coleridge 
which is the real Coleridge, the affectionate forgiving Coleridge, 
so anxious to cure his faults, so eager to make people see, so 
childlike and yet condemned to sit 


In the exceeding lustre and the pure 
Intense irradiation of a mind. 

The story not only exasperates the temper; it dodges the 
understanding, and leaves even the patient reader in such 
bewilderment as, no doubt, afflicted the much-enduring Odysseus 
after a third attempt to embrace his mother in the Shades. For 
Providence (as De Quincey put it) set 'perpetual relays* along 
Coleridge's path through life. We pursue the man and come 
up with group after group of his friends: and each, as we 
demand, 'What have you done with Coleridge?' answers, 
'Coleridge? That wonderful fellow? ... He was here just 
now, and we helped him forward a little way.' 

The late James Dykes Campbell (to whose Life of Coleridge 


Coleridge 157 

the reader is referred) took up his task with enthusiasm and 
performed it with astonishing success. He honoured the poet's 
memory a little 'on this side idolatry/ Yet as we follow his 
condensed narrative we feel the growth of misgivings in the 
writer's mind, and at the close he has to make a clean breast of 
them. 'If/ says he, 'my presentment of what I believe to be 
the truth be not found to tend, on the whole, to raise Coleridge 
in the eyes of men, I shall, I confess, feel both surprised and 

I am sure that the temple, with all the rubble which blended with 
its marble, must have been a grander whole than any we are able to 
reconstruct for ourselves from the stones which lie about the field. 
The living Coleridge was ever his own apology men and women 
who neither shared nor ignored his shortcomings, not only loved him 
but honoured and followed him. This power of attraction, which 
might almost be called universal, so diverse were the minds and 
.natures attracted, is itself conclusive proof of very rare qualities. 
We may read and re-read his life, but we cannot know him as the 
Lambs, or the Wordsworths, or Poole, or Hookham Frere, or the 
Gillmans, or Green knew him. Hatred as well as love may be blind, 
but friendship has eyes, and their testimony may wisely be used in 
correcting our own impressions. 

Samuel Taylor Coleridge was born on October 21, 1772, at 
the vicarage of Ottery St. Mary in Devonshire, the youngest of 
nine sons by a second marriage. His father, die Reverend John 
Coleridge, was an amiable, absent-minded scholar, and apparently 
somewhat unpractical. We are told that he printed several 
books by subscription, and he tried to improve the Latin 
grammars in use by calling the ablative case the 'quale-quare- 
quidditive.' He died in 1781, and a few months later young 
Samuel obtained a presentation to Christ's Hospital. 

The school and the Coleridge of those days were afterwards 
depicted in imperishable colours by Charles Lamb, who, though 
Coleridge's junior by two years, had become a Blue-coat boy 
some months earlier. In Chris? s Hospital Five-and-Thirty 

158 Coleridge 

Years Ago, by one of those tricks which were dear to him and 
endear him to us, Lamb professedly supplements his own 
Recollections of Christ's Hospital with the recollections of a lad 
not fortunate like him in having a home and parents near. 

I was a poor friendless boy. My parents, and those who should 
care for me, were far away. Those few acquaintances of theirs, which 
they could reckon upon being kind to me in the great city, after a little 
forced notice, which they had the grace to take of me on my first 
arrival in town, soon grew tired of my holiday visits. They seemed 
to them to recur too often, though I found them few enough; and, 
one after another, they all failed me, and I felt myself alone among 
six hundred playmates. 

O the cruelty of separating a poor lad from his early homestead! 
The yearnings which I used to have towards it in those unfledged 
years ! How, in my dreams, would my native town (far in the west) 
come back, with its church, and trees, and faces ! How I would wake 
weeping, and in the anguish of my heart exclaim upon sweet Calne 
in Wiltshire! 

The child is Coleridge, of course, and sweet Calne in Wilt- 
shire is sweet Ottery in Devon, disguised. Of course Coleridge 
felt this loneliness : a nature so sensitive could not help feeling 
it; and sixteen years later in Frost at Midnight he feelingly re- 
called it, and promised his own child a happier fate. But, 
equally of course, he did not feel it all the time. His earliest 
letters contain allusions to half-crowns and 'a plumb cake,' and 
in due course, as he grows up, the theme changes naturally to 
raiment. 'You will excuse me for reminding you that, as our 
holidays commence next week, and I shall go out a good deal, 
a good pair of breeches will be no inconsiderable accession 
to my appearance,' the pair in use being *not altogether well 
adapted for a female eye.' 

In due course, too, he became a Grecian, fell in love and 
wrote boyish poetry: and both the love-making and the versify- 
ing, though no great matters at the time, were destined to have 
more formidable consequences than usually attach themselves to 

Coleridge 159 

youthful experiments. The young lady who inspired them was 
a Miss Mary Evans, a widow's daughter, and sister of a small 
Blue-coat boy whom Coleridge had protected. 

And oh! from sixteen to nineteen what hours of paradise had 
Allen [a schoolfellow] and I in escorting the Miss Evanses home on a 
Saturday, who were then at a milliner's . . . and we used to carry 
thither, of a summer morning, the pillage of the flower-gardens 
within six miles of town, with sonnet or love-rhyme wrapped round 
the nosegay. 

But not all the inspiration came from Miss Evans. That of 
the love-making she shared, if a Christ's Hospital tradition be 
true, with the daughter of the school 'nurse'; to whom the 
poem Genevieve was addressed. ('For the head boys to be in 
love with these young persons was an institution of long stand- 
ing,' says Mr. Dykes Campbell.) That of Coleridge's poetic 
awakening she undoubtedly shared with the Rev. William Lisle 
Bowles, as we learn from Chapter I of Biographia Literaria. 
Critic after critic has found occasion for wonder in this ; though 
in truth there is none at all. To begin with, Bowles's sonnets 
are by no means bad; and, moreover, even to-day they are 
perceptibly, if palely, tinged with the dawn that was breaking 
over English poetry. Doubtless, had the book which fell into 
his hands as he was entering his seventeenth year been a volume 
of Blake, or of Cowper, or of Burns, his young conversion 
would have been more striking; would, at any rate, have made 
a better story. But by 1790 or thereabouts the new poetic 
movement was 'in the air,' as we say: a youth might take 
infection from any one, nor did it greatly matter from whom. 
Had Coleridge derived it from a stronger source the results 
might have been more precipitate, more violent. As it was, 
the blameless Sonnets these and the equally blameless society 
of the Evans girls weaned him from metaphysics and theology, 
on which he was immaturely feeding, and weaned him gently. 
He swore assent to Bowles: Bowles 'did his heart more good' 
than all other books 'excepting the Bible': but in his own 

160 Coleridge 

attempts at versifying he still observed, even timidly, the 

In January, 1791, the Committee of Almoners of Christ's 
Hospital emancipated him, with an Exhibition, to Jesus College, 
Cambridge. He started well. In 1792 he gained the Browne 
Gold Medal for a Sapphic Ode on the Slave Trade, and barely 
missed (on Porson's selection) the Craven Scholarship. In 
November, 1793, he bolted from Cambridge, in a fright of his 
college debts, or in a wild fit following on Mary Evans's rejection 
of his addresses. Both causes are suspected, and the two may 
have acted in combination. At all events he found his way to 
London, and on the second of December enlisted in the 1 5th or 
King's Light Dragoons, sinking all but his initials and his 
unlikeness to other men in the alias of Silas Tomkyn Comber- 
backe. Probably a worse light dragoon he was short of 
stature, fat, and unwieldy never occupied, or failed to occupy, 
a saddle. In April, 1794, his relatives procured his discharge, 
and Jesus College readmitted him. In June he visited his old 
schoolfellow Allen at Oxford, and there became acquainted 
with Robert Southey of Balliol. Mr. Robert Southey was then 
a youth of 'violent principles,' out of which his friends and 
Coleridge aiding the famous scheme of Pantisocracy was 
hastily incubated. Mr. Campbell summarizes it thus: 

'Twelve gentlemen of good education and liberal principles are to 
embark with twelve ladies in April next/ fixing themselves in some 
'delightful part of the new back settlements of America.' The labour 
of each man for two or three hours a day, it was imagined, would 
suffice to support the colony. The produce was to be common 
property, there was to be a good library, and ample leisure was to be 
devoted to study, discussion, and the education of the children on a 
settled system. The women were to be employed in taking care of 
the infant children and in other suitable occupations, not neglecting 
the cultivation of their minds. Among other matters not yet 
determined was 'whether the marriage contract shall be dissolved, 
if agreeable to one or both parties.' Every one was 'to enjoy 

Coleridge 161 

his own religious and political opinions, provided they do not 
encroach on the rules previously made.' 'They calculate that every 
gentleman providing 125 will be sufficient to carry the scheme into 

While Pantisocracy was hatching, Coleridge had departed 
on a walking-tour in Wales. On the thirteenth of July he 
reached Wrexham, and there, standing at the inn window, he 
spied Mary Evans coming down the street with her sister. 
'I sickened,' he writes, 'and wellnigh fainted, but instantly 
retired.' The two sisters, it appears, had caught sight of him. 
They 'walked by the window four or five times, as if anxiously.' 
But the meeting, the possible reconcilement, were not to be. 
Coleridge fled to Bristol, joined his friend Southey there, with 
other Pantisocrats, including a family of young ladies named 
Fricker. Southey married Edith Fricker. Coleridge such 
things happen in the revulsion of disappointed passion married 
Sara Fricker. The marriage, says Mr. Campbell, was not 
made in Heaven. It was in great measure brought about by 

Heaven alone knows but no one who loves Coleridge can 
help wistfully guessing what Dorothy Wordsworth might 
have made of him, as his wife. We have, perhaps, no right to 
guess at these things, but we cannot help it. He met her too 
late, by a little while, as it was all but too late that he met 
William Wordsworth. The Coleridges, after a brief experience 
of housekeeping at Clevedon and Bristol interrupted by a 
tour to collect subscriptions for a projected newspaper, The 
Watchman hied them down with their first-born to Nether 
Stowey in Somerset, to be neighbours of Thomas Poole, an 
admiring friend and a good fellow. To Nether Stowey, in 
July, 1797, came Wordsworth with his 'exquisite sister,' and 
were joined by Charles Lamb all three as the Coleridges' 
guests. (The visit is commemorated in This Lime-Tree Bower 
my Prison.} At the end of his week's holiday Lamb returned 
to London; the Wordsworths, charmed by Coleridge's society, 

1 62 Coleridge 

removed themselves but three miles away, to Alfoxden, and set 
up house. 

Then the miracle happened. Coleridge had already published 
a volume of verse and brought it to a second edition : but it 
contained no promise of what was to come. Wordsworth was 
meditating the Muse, if the word 'meditating' can be used of 
a composition so frantic as The Borderers; but that he (the 
slower to take fire) would within a year be writing Tintern 
Abbey was a thing impossible, which nevertheless befell. Brother, 
sister, and friend these three, as Coleridge has testified be- 
came one soul. 'They saw as much of one another as if the 
width of a street, and not a pair of coombes, had separated their 
several abodes'; and in the soul of that intimacy, under the 
influence of Dorothy herself the silent one, content to en- 
courage, criticize, admire wrapped around by the lovely soli- 
tudes of the Quantocks Coleridge and Wordsworth found 
themselves poets, speaking with new voices in a new dawn. 
On the thirteenth of November, at half-past four in the after- 
noon, the three friends set off to walk to Watchet, on their way 
to the Exmoor country, intending to defray their expenses by 
the sale of a poem which the two men were to compose by the 
way. Before the first eight miles had been covered, the plan 
of joint authorship had broken down, and Coleridge took the 
poem into his sole hands. He wrought at it until die following 
March. On the twenty-third of that month, writes Dorothy, 
'Coleridge dined with us. He brought his ballad [The Ancient 
Mariner] finished. We walked with him to the Miner's house. 
A beautiful evening, very starry, the horned moon/ We 
feel that the stars were out with excuse, to celebrate the birth 
of a star. 

The Ancient Mariner sets one reflecting that, after all, the men 
of the Middle Ages had much to say for themselves, who con- 
nected poetry with magic, and thought of Virgil as a wizard. 
As we said jiist now, by taking small pains we can understand 
that the sonnets of Bowles pale, faded essays as they appear 

Coleridge 163 

to us wore a different complexion in the sunrise of 1790. But 
we can ignore the time and circumstance of its birth, ignore the 
theorizings out of which it sprang, ignore Wordsworth and his 
prefaces and the taste on which they made war; and still, after 
more than a hundred years, The Ancient Mariner is the wild 
thing of wonder, the captured star, which Coleridge brought in 
his hands to Alfoxden and showed to Dorothy and William 
Wordsworth. Not in the whole range of English poetry not 
in Shakespeare himself has the lyrical genius of our language 
spoken with such a note. 

A voice so thrilling ne'er was heard . . . 
Breaking the silence of the seas 
Among the farthest Hebrides. 

Its music is as effortless as its imagery. Its words do not 
cumber it: exquisite words come to it, but it uses and straight- 
way forgets them. Not Shakespeare himself, unless by snatches, 
so sublimated the lyrical tongue, or obtained effects so magical 
by the bearest necessary means. Take 

The many men, so beautiful ! 

And they all dead did lie. 

The moving Moon went up the sky, 

And nowhere did abide ; 

Softly she was going up, 

And a star or two beside. 

The body of my brother's son 

Stood by me, knee to knee: 

The body and I pull'd at one rope, 

But he said nought to me. 

Here, and throughout, from the picture of the bride entering the 
hall to that of the home-coming in the moon-lit harbour, every 
scene in the procession belongs to high romance, yet each is 
conjured up with that economy of touch we are wont to call 

1 64 Coleridge 

classical. We forget almost, listening to the voice, that there 
are such things as words. 

And now 'twas like all instruments, 

Now like a lonely flute; 

And now it is an angel's song, 

That makes the Heavens be mute. 

If, in criticism, such an epithet be pardonable, we would call that 
voice seraphic ; if such a simile, we would liken it to a seraph's, 
musing, talking before the gate of Paradise in the dawn. 

Critics, allowing the magic of the poem, proceed to stultify 
the admission by inquiring why Coleridge did not follow it up 
and write others like it. The question, when foolishness has 
put it, can in terms of foolishness be readily answered. Coleridge 
yielded his will to opium. He had already begun to contract 
the habit, and he soon became a man capable (in Hazlitt's 
phrase) of doing anything which did not present itself as a duty. 
Once or twice, in Christabel and in Kubla Khan, he found new 
and divine openings, but his will could not sustain the flight, 
and the rest of the story of him as a poet resolves itself into 
repeated futile efforts to carry Christabel to a conclusion. 

All this is true enough, or at least can be made convincing by 
any one who sets forth the story of Coleridge's subsequent 
aberrations. But before we blame his weakness let us ask our- 
selves if it be conceivably within one man's measure to produce 
a succession of poems on the plane of The Ancient Mariner, 
and, next, if the magic granted, as it must be granted it 
would not almost necessarily exhaust a man. In other words, 
let us inquire if, in a man who performed that miracle, his 
failure to perform others may not be more charitably set down 
to a divine exhaustion than charged upon his frailties. Surely 
by Christabel itself that question is answered; and almost as 
indisputably by Kubla Khan. Coleridge himself tells us that 
he began Christabel in 1797; that is, either before or during the 
composition of The Ancient Mariner. Between the conception 
of the two poems there was no interval of opium-taking. Yet 

Coleridge 165 

who, studying Christabel y can, after the first two or three pages 
have been turned, believe that the poem could ever and by any 
possibility have been finished? Coleridge, no doubt, believed 
that it could : but in his struggles to finish it he was fighting 
against stronger adversaries than opium; against fate and a 
providence under which, things being what they are, their 
consequences will be what they will be. 

The metre of Christabel, perfectly handled by its inventor, 
probably suffers in our ears by association with the jingle of 
Scott, and the vastly worse jingle of Byron, who borrowed it 
in turn. It has since been utterly vulgarized, and the very lilt 
of it nowadays suggests The Mistletoe Bough, melodrama, and 
the balladry of Bow Bells. Yet, and although the suspicion 
may be unworthy, one cannot help tracing something of Bow 
Bells back to an origin in such lines as 

Why waxed Sir Leoline so pale, 
Murmuring o'er the name again, 
'Lord Roland de Vaux of Tryermaine'? 

In short, there are some to which Christabel rings false, pain- 
fully false, here and there, in spite of its witchery. Yet, where 
it rings true, we ask, Was there ever such pure romantic music? 
Is the night chilly and dark? 
The night is chilly, but not dark. 
The thin gray cloud is spread on high, 
It covers but not hides the sky. 
The moon is behind, and at the full : 
And yet she looks both small and dull. 
The night is chill, the cloud is gray: 
'Tis a month before the month of May, 
And the Spring comes slowly up this way. 

Of Kubla Khan, even if 'a person . . . from Porlock' had 
not interrupted it, who will contend that it could ever have 
been finished, or even continued to any length? It abides the 
most entrancing magical fragment in English poetry; more than 
this it never could have been or have hoped to be. 

1 66 Coleridge 

Some three weeks after that starry evening on which Coleridge, 
his immortal ballad finished, walked with his friends, reciting it, 
we find Wordsworth writing to a friend that he, too, has been 
'very rapidly adding to his stock of poetry,' and that the season 
is advancing with strides, 'and the country becomes almost 
every day more lovely.' The splendour of that summer in 
the Quantocks has passed into the history of our literature. 
Coleridge's best harvest was done; Wordsworth's longer of 
continuance, yet brief in comparison with its almost insufferably 
long aftermath on the point of ripening. The brother and 
sister quitted Alfoxden at midsummer. In September Coleridge 
met them in London and voyaged with them on a happy, almost 
rollicking, jaunt to Hamburg. The Lyrical Ballads had been 
published a few days before, Coleridge contributing The Ancient 
Mariner (or, to spell it accurately, The Rime of the Ancyent 
Marinere^y The Nightingale, The Foster-Mother's Tale, and The 
Dungeon. The two friends had launched their thunderbolt, 
and went off gaily. It was a real thunderbolt, too ; a book to 
which the over- worked epithet 'epoch-making' may for once in a 
way be applied without strain on the truth ; but for the moment 
England took it with her habitual phlegm. Mrs. Coleridge 
sent news that 'the Lyrical Ballads are not liked at all by any.' 

At Hamburg, after a few crowded days, the travellers separated 
Coleridge for Ratzeburg, intent on acquiring a thorough 
knowledge of German. He returned to Nether Stowey in 
July, 1799, an ^ towards the close of the year met the Words- 
worths again and toured with them through the Lake Country. 
Thither in June, 1800, he wandered back to them from London 
and Stowey. They had installed themselves at Dove Cottage, 
Grasmere, and in July the Coleridges settled at Greta Hall, 
Keswick, twelve miles away. Wordsworth was now working 
at the height of his powers: but to Coleridge the renewed 
intimacy brought no secondary spring. For him there was 
never to be another Stowey. And here, both fortunately and 
unfortunately, the story may break off: unfortunately, because 

* Coleridge 167 

his poetic period had come to an end (he had, he writes to 
Thelwall, 'for ever renounced poetry for metaphysics/ and 
moreover was beginning his long slavery to opium); fortu- 
nately, because its end releases us from following him to Malta 
and Bristol, through quarrels and patchings-up of friendship, 
through wanderings, returns, vows and defections, partial 
recoveries, relapses and despairs, to the long-drawn sunset of 
his life in the home of the Gillmans at Highgate. 

Let two things be noted, however, before we give assent to 
those who write contemptuously of Coleridge and his infirmity. 
The first is, that even in the lowest depths he still fought, and 
in the end he did emerge with the victory. He had won it at 
a terrible cost; the fight had killed a hundred splendid poten- 
tialities; but though scarred, battered, enfeebled, the man 
emerged, and with his manhood still in his hands, though they 
trembled on the prize. Next let us, reading of quarrels and 
misunderstandings between him and his friends, note how, as 
time effaces the petty circumstance of each, so the essential 
goodness of the man shines through, more and more clearly; 
how, in almost any given quarrel, as the years go on, we see 
that after all Coleridge was in the right. He knew his weak- 
ness : but at least it taught him to be tender towards the weak- 
nesses of his fellows, and no man had a better reason to ask 
of his sufferings 

But wherefore, wherefore fall on me ? 

To be beloved is all I need, 

And whom I love, I love indeed. 

As this affectionate disposition made him all but unintelligible 
to the Southeys and Hazlitts of his time, and lay somewhat 
outside the range of self-centred Wordsworth, whose fault in 
friendship was that of the Dutch in matters of commerce, 1 so 

1 'But this, my dear sir, is a mistake to which affectionate natures are 
too liable, though I do not remember to have ever seen it noticed the 
mistaking those who are desirous and well pleased to be loved by you, 
for those who love you.' Coleridge to Allsop, 2nd December 1818. 
(The reference is to Wordsworth.) 

1 68 Coleridge 

the very brilliance of his intellect too often isolated him within 
the circle of its own light. But on this Shelley has said the 
last word : 

You will see Coleridge he who sits obscure 

In the exceeding lustre and the pure 

Intense irradiation of a mind 

Which, with its own internal lightning blind, 

Flags wearily through darkness and despair 

A cloud-encircled meteor of the air, 

A hooded eagle among blinking owls. 

In justice and in decency we should strive to imagine Coleridge 
as he impressed those who loved him and listened to him in his 
great days of promise; not the Coleridge of later Highgate days, 
the spent giant with whose portrait Carlyle made brutal play to 
his own ineffaceable discredit; nor even the Coleridge of 1816, 
the * archangel a little damaged* as Lamb, using a friend's 
privilege, might be allowed to describe him in a letter to Words- 
worth, a friend of almost equal standing; not these, but the 
Coleridge of whom the remembrance was the abiding thought 
in Lamb's mind and on his lips during the brief while he sur- 
vived him 'Coleridge is dead/ 'His great and dear spirit 
haunts me. . . . Never saw I his likeness, nor probably the 
world can see again. I seem to love the house he died at more 
passionately than when he lived. . . , What was his mansion 
is consecrated to me a chapel/ If we must dwell at all on the 
later Coleridge, let it be in the spirit of his own most beautiful 
epitaph : 

Stop, Christian passer-by! Stop, child of God, 

And read with gentle breast. Beneath this sod 

A poet lies, or that which once seem'd he. 

O, lift one thought in prayer for S. T. C. ; 

That he who many a year with toil of breath 

Found death in life, may here find life in death! 

Mercy for praise to be forgiven for fame 

He ask'd, and hoped, through Christ. Do thou the same! 

Coleridge 169 

None the less, in a world ever loath to admit that omelets 
involve the breaking of eggs, men will go on surmising what 
might have been, what full treasures of poetry Coleridge might 
have left, had he never drunk opium, had he eschewed meta- 
physics, had he married Dorothy Wordsworth, had he taken a 
deal of advice his friends gave him in good intent to rescue the 
Coleridge which God made (with their approval) and the 
creature marred. 'He lived until 1834,' wrote the late Dr. 
Garnett. ' If every year of his life had yielded such a harvest 
as 1797, he would have produced a greater amount of high 
poetry than all his contemporaries put together.' Yes, indeed! 
and Kubla Khan has this in common with a cow's tail that it 
only lacks length to reach the moon. And yet, vain though 
these speculations are, we do wrong to laugh at them, for their 
protest goes deeper than their reasoning ; and while fate tramples 
on things of beauty the indignant human heart will utter it. 
Quis desiderio sit pudor aut modus, when a poet and such a 
poet is broken in his prime? 

On the other hand, the question sometimes raised whether, 
in the Quantock time, when the pair learnt to be poets, Coleridge 
owed more to Wordsworth, or Wordsworth to Coleridge is, 
as Sir Thomas Browne would say, puzzling, but not beyond all 
conjecture: and we raise it again because we think it usually 
receives the wrong answer. It is usually argued that Coleridge 
received more than he gave, because he was the more im- 
pressionable. We might oppose this with the argument that 
Coleridge probably gave more than he received, as his presence 
and talk were the more inspiring. But let us look at a date or 
two. In June, 1797, Coleridge wrote This Lime-Tree Bower 
my Prison, and it contains such lines as diese : 

Yet still the solitary humble-bee 
Sings in die bean-flower! Henceforth I shall know 
That Nature ne'er deserts the wise and pure . . . 

No sound is dissonant which tells of Life. 

iyo Coleridge 

Frost at Midnight is dated February, 1798, and it contains the 
passage beginning 

Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee. . . . 

The exquisite Nightingale belongs to the summer of 1798, and 
contains the images of the 'night-wandering man/ of the 

That crowds, and hurries, and precipitates 
With fast thick warble his delicious notes . . . 

of the other birds awake in the bushes with 

Their bright, bright eyes, their eyes both bright and full . . . 

and that most lovely picture of the infant hushing his woe as he 
gazes up at the moon through the orchard boughs : 

While his fair eyes, that swam with undropped tears, 
Did glitter in the yellow moonbeam ! Well ! 
It is a father's tale. But if that Heaven 
Should give me life, his childhood shall grow up 
Familiar with these songs, that with the night 
He may associate joy. 

Now the first thing to be noted of these lines, these images, is 
that they are what we now call Wordsworthian ; some, the very 
best Wordsworthian; but all Wordsworthian with an intensity 
to which (if we study his verse chronologically) we find that in 
1798 Wordsworth had never once attained or once only, in a 
couple of lines of The Thorn. When Coleridge wrote these 
things, Wordsworth was writing We are Seven, Goody Blake, 
Simon Lee, and the rest. It was only after, though soon after, 
Coleridge had written them that Wordsworth is seen capable 
of such lines as 

The still sad music of humanity . . . 
or of 

The stars of midnight shall be dear 
To her; and she shall lean her ear 
In many a secret place. 

Coleridge 171 

This note Coleridge might teach to Wordsworth, as Words- 
worth might improve on it and make it his own. But that 
other note the lyrical note of The Ancient Mariner was 
incommunicable. He bequeathed it to none, and before him 
no poet had approached it; hardly even Shakespeare, on the 
harp of Ariel. 


./V the son of a country gentleman Mr. W. Kinglake of 
Wilton House, Taunton. He was educated at Eton and 
Trinity College, Cambridge, and from Cambridge proceeded to 
Lincoln's Inn. For some years he practised with moderate 
success at the Chancery Bar; but his circumstances were easy, 
and permitted him to spend a long holiday as so many English- 
men would choose to spend it, in the hard delights of travel. 
The result for us is Eothen. It took the town in 1844, as it 
deserved. It remains one of the little classics of the mid- 
nineteenth century; ribr could one readily name a book more 
genuinely English and of its class. Written with a fastidious 
polish worthy of Congreve, it keeps the reader constantly in 
mind of Congreve's famous request to Voltaire, that he wished 
to be visited not as an author but as a plain gentleman. 'Here 
is my story/ the writer seems to say, 'and you may take it or 
leave it. The trouble I may have chosen to spend on it is my 
own affair.' And the manner of the book was repeated in 
Kinglake's manner of treating his success. He turned his back 
on it and resumed his legal work. 

Ten years later the Nearer East (as we call it nowadays) 
claimed him again, and on more serious business. On the out- 
break of war with Russia he accompanied his friend Lord Raglan 
to the Crimea. For insight into the national feeling of those 
days, when Great Britain awoke to war after forty years of peace, 
we may turn to Tennyson's Maud and read its call for * the glory 
of manhood* to stand once more "on its ancient height,' its 
protest against 'the cobweb woven across the cannon's throat,' 
its scornful trust 

That the smooth-faced snub-nosed rogue would leap from his counter 

and till, 

And strike, if he could, were it but with his cheating yard-wand, home. 


'JEothen 9 173 

(For we had just then to learn over again, and not for the last 
time, the recurring lesson that war is the swindler's fattest 
opportunity.) Napier, in his History of the War in the Penin- 
sula, lets fall a remark that the British are a bellicose rather than 
a military people. He might have added that they are incurably 
given to mistaking war for a form of sport, and might find their 
tribal emblem of Victory in a statue of Picton fighting the 
Battle of Quatre Bras (as he did) in a tall hat. Kinglake, who 
consented after Lord Raglan's death to write a history of the 
war, could never get over his habit of regarding a battle as a 
sort of glorified steeplechase or fox-hunt, and in the crisis of 
a fight has usually to fall back on these noble sports for a 
criticism or a simile. 

Meanwhile he had retired from die Bar, and entered Parlia- 
ment in 1857 as member for Bridgwater. He held the seat 
until 1869, when he lost it on petition, and thenceforward gave 
himself up to his History. The first volume appeared in 1863, 
the final one in 1887. He died Jan. 2, 1891, of a slow and 
painful malady, which had driven him to retire from London, 
where society had known him for many years as one of its most 
graceful talkers. His conversation was temperate and restrained, 
nor would he ever (writes one who knew him) enter into that 
competition for celebrity in which men of less delicacy found 

He was content to wait his turn ; he would not claim it, but when 
it came he took it, and he was sure of attention as soon as his low 
firm voice was heard. He liked a few friends rather than many ; and 
even when he talked and the whole table listened, there was some- 
thing confidential in his method. He wore a Damascus blade, but 
kept it for the most part sheathed. It was only when challenged, or 
when an injustice was offered to somebody else than himself, that you 
saw the flash of this polished and glittering steel ; and whoever felt 
its point or edge did not care for another experience. The first 
volume of his History, and the chapter on the Emperor of the French, 
show what he could do when provoked, and how he hated an 

174 'Eothen 9 

impostor. His spoken style was, of course, less elaborate, but hardly 
less finished, and such was his reserve of character that you had to 
know him well before you discovered how many were his resources 
and gifts. 1 

The Invasion of the Crimea is a monumental work, exquisitely 
written throughout, and containing many splendid pages that 
will rank with the best prose of its century. That it lives as a 
whole is less certain. Kinglake started with the two indispens- 
able qualifications prescribed by Lucian for his perfect historian : 
he had political insight and the faculty of expression, and he 
had both in a high degree. He could 'superinduce upon events 
the charm of order,' and set forth an intricate tale with perfect 
lucidity. But his fastidiousness allowed his theme to over- 
weight him. As time removes the events of 1854-5, men read 
of them more carelessly ; interested, indeed, but no longer over- 
shadowed by them; disposed, rightly or wrongly, to regard 
them as no such tremendous matters after all. But with the 
historian this very natural process was reversed. Time and 
he spent thirty years over the task but emphasized for him 
the perspective it was diminishing for his readers. If they are 
critics they recognize the mere writing, so carefully vivid, for 
a kind which is not produced without strain; but they need 
not be critics to feel the burden of the subject and, oppressed 
by it, to transfer their sympathy from the story to the author. 

In Eothen the author is young ; young and full of that vppis 
which he would have been apt to translate, in metaphor, as 
* beans.' His theme is what he chooses to make it, and the 
laboured brilliance of the composition is, so to speak, a part of 
the fun an overflow of the indefatigable high spirits that have 
already carried him across the desert and through plague-stricken 
Cairo. Artifice, though apparent enough, detracts nothing 
from the freshness or genuineness of Eothen, as it detracts 
nothing from the freshness and genuineness (say) of Venus and 
Adonis ; for artifice is natural to youth. We allow for it before 
1 From London Letters, by the late George W. Smalley. 

'Eothen* 175 

passing his claim, in the preface, that his narrative conveys 'not 
those impressions which ought to have been produced upon any 
"well-constituted mind/* but those which were really and truly 
received at the time of his rambles by a headstrong and not 
very amiable traveller, whose prejudices in favour of other 
people's notions were then exceedingly slight.' As a fact, the 
unconventionality he achieves is often but conventionality 
inverted; and once, at least, he comes near to confessing this 
when a comment of his brings him up short, face to face with 

the humbling proof that I am subject to that nearly immutable law 
which compels a man with a pen in his hand to be uttering now and 
then some sentiment not his own. It seems as though the power of 
expressing regrets and desires by written symbols were coupled with 
a condition that the writer should from time to time express die 
regrets and desires of other people as though, like a French peasant 
under the old rtgime, he was bound to perform a certain amount of 
work upon the public highways. 

'I rebel,' he says, 'as stoutly as I can against this horrible 
corvee' Yes, but the purely original man would pass the 
temptation nay, if he yielded, would even yield without 
being aware cf it. It is not by dint of being unamiable at 
times even truculently unamiable that Kinglake can escape the 
tradition of The Sentimental Journey. At times, when the right 
opportunity presents itself, this defiantly unsentimental traveller 
has to halt and render due literary toll to sentiment. He does 
it with a good set face and pays down royally. But the coin, 
when you test it, rings on a half-hearted note. It is worth 
remarking that his prose, at these checks, has a trick of loosening 
its knees into the iambics of blank verse. 'But soon the genial 
morn burst down from heaven, And stirred the blood so gladly 
through our veins. . . . The baggage-horses served us for a 
drag, And kept us to the rate of little more Than five miles in 
the hour; but now and then . . .' Damascus, when our 
traveller reaches it, calls for a strong effort of sentiment, and he 
responds with his very best. Because it is his best it has 

76 'Eothen 

lothing to do with Damascus, but everything with England. 
The waters and gardens of his green spot of exile call up 
nemories, real or fictitious, of an English country house de- 
erted, with grass in the stable-yard and the shrubberies relapsing 
nto wilderness. 'Just there, in October mornings, the keeper 
yould wait with the dogs and the guns : no keeper now/ And 
he locked wicket leads to regret for days when the path was 
:lear, and you 'chase that phantom of a muslin sleeve that once 
weighed warm upon your arm.' It is all extremely well done; 
>ut it ends in a tangle of iambic decasyllabics : 

Wild as that, the nighest woodland of a deserted home in England, 
ut without its sweet sadness [perhaps, for an Englishman], is <he 
umptuous garden of Damascus. Forest trees, tall and stately 
nough, if you could see their lofty crests, yet lead a tussling life 
f it below, with their branches struggling against strong numbers 
>f bushes and wilful shrubs. The shade upon the earth is black as 
tight. High, high above your head, and on every side all down to 
hie ground, the thicket is hemmed in, and choked up by the inter- 
icing boughs that droop with the weight of roses, and load the slow 
ir with their damask breath. 

Two or three rhapsodical passages, such as this inspired by 
)amascus, shine with great effect against the morgue britannique 
/hich is the author's general manner. But obviously too many 
if them would have spoilt the book; and therefore it was ex- 
remely fortunate that, under pledge to write as he felt, he 
uffered no strong emotions as he walked about Jerusalem, but 
>n the contrary 'was rudely chilled at the foot of Zion by 
isenchanting scenes.' To have felt 'as he ought' would have 
ivolved a dangerous flight of fine writing, whereas the worldly 
Dne he actually adopts in describing the Holy Sepulchre is 
afer and very artistically wayward. 

Nevertheless, and although more derivative than Kinglake 
uspected and would have us believe, Eothen is a genuine book, 
nd carries the general impress of truth. The writer confesses 
imself 'a headstrong and not very amiable traveller/ That he 

'JEotAen' 177 

was headstrong, his defying the plague at Cairo, his lonely ride 
across the desert to Suez, his serio-comic invasion of Satalieh 
these and half a dozen other adventures more than sufficiently 
prove. That he was unamiable, at times even unfeeling, we 
gather from at least a score of small hints. Possibly he exhibits 
this failing with design, and lays on the colours too strongly. 
In any case, he was young and in the saddle his 'loved saddle' 
with Homer in his soul and the East before him ; and strong 
youth is intolerant of weakness or disease. The later King- 
lake, wise, tempered by years, and dying of a slow inward 
agony, must have looked back on some passages in this book 
with a very wistful forgiveness. In any case, if Eothen throws 
some light on the reasons why our English are not precisely 
loved when they travel, it also helps us to understand why they 
travel, and (convincingly) why they are feared. This particular 
traveller may sometimes do violence to our feelings; but he 
seldom fails to thrill them, and it is with a touch of racial pride 
that we follow and watch how sometimes by cool audacity, 
alone against numbers, sometimes by sheer bullying, he opposes 
himself to the depressed and succumbing mind of the Mussul- 
man, sweeps away all resistance, and not only comes triumphing 
out of difficulty, but with the population of a province at his 
feet suing his illusory power for protection. 

This dominance of the Western will over the East may be 
a passing one may in great measure have passed already. It 
is almost certainly transitory in comparison with the spell of the 
East upon Western imagination. Of the two in interplay, at 
a happy moment, Kinglake gives us a sketch only, but a finished 
sketch, vivid and fascinating. 




* v - 1 - It is now many years since we last met, and you may 
well be surprised at my addressing you in this public manner. 
Yet, and however unconsciously, you provoked it some months 
ago when I received the prospectus of a certain 'Association 
for the Permanent Care of the Feeble-Minded,' and this was 
recommended to me by your lordship's name and that of the 
Bishop of Truro on the list of its Executive Committee. 
Shocked as I was by the objects of that Association, as declared 
in the circular (which I will presently quote), I could not carry 
my trouble to my own diocesan and friend, the Bishop of 
Truro; for he was a dying man, already far within the shadow 
across the edge of which the voices of men, if they reach at all, 
carry but empty vexings. He is dead since then, and at the 
moment I write they have not yet installed his successor whose 
hands for some time will be full of other business. Yet this 
business, too, is important as I shall try to show. I remember 
that during my childhood as long before the diocese of 
Exeter covered all Cornwall, even to the Scillies; and I can 
appeal on more personal grounds. For you were Dean of our 
old college at Oxford; the first don from whom, as a raw 
freshman, I took kindly advice. You, of course, have clean 
forgotten it all : but such an interview is to the boy one of the 
scenes of his life, and I recall the room now, its background of 
bookshelves, our positions at the table, and you, as you leant, 
uttering wise counsel. . . . 


Three Open Letters to the Bishop of Exeter 179 

Well now, my lord, after these many years you come or a 
circular comes with the authority of your name (now advanced 
in public honour, but always a name of command to me) 
asking your old pupil to join a Society, the objects of which 
are thus defined: 

(1) To awaken the public to the danger to the community of 
allowing the multiplication of the Feeble-Minded to continue un- 

(2) To obtain reliable statistics with regard to the number of 
Feeble-Minded in the South- Western Counties, and to press for such 
legislation as may be needed. 

(3) To establish one or more institutions for the care and improve- 
ment of the Feeble-Minded, and to promote their happiness while 
providing for their permanent detention. 

I italicize these last words, my lord ; and in the course of my 
argument shall tell you why. But, for a start, I will ask if 
(i) and (2) find themselves in the order you would have placed 
them when you lived in Oxford and taught Aristotle to young 
men ? Would you not then have instructed us that the obliga- 
tion to obtain * reliable statistics* came before that of 'awakening 
the public* to a danger which the statistics might, or might not, 
prove to be real? And would you, in those days, have mixed 
up in one sentence the demand for clear information with the 
answer, begging one for legislation ? I submit that you would 
have done nothing of the sort. It would have offended your 

In those days, too, you taught us that things have their right 
names, and that men are to be distrusted who start by mixing 
up the meaning of words. You must of your own past forgive 
me if, when a man talks of a 'home* and I discover him to mean 
a house of detention, I judge that he is trying to deceive me, and 
if I go on to judge that his mind is not honest. The word 
'home* has many connotations, beautiful and sacred; but per- 
manent detention is not one of them. 'Permanent detention* 
means imprisonment for life. You cannot deny that. Well, 

i8o Three Open Letters to the Bishop of Exeter 

now, see how it runs 'and to promote their happiness while 
providing for their imprisonment for life. 9 Say now, my lord, 
how do you like the look of it ? 

Again, when your Association talks of 'the permanent care 
of the Feeble-Minded* what does it mean precisely? It uses 
language conveying that its primary tender care is for these 
unhappy people. But does it mean this? I think not: for I 
observe that the first of its three main objects is * to awaken the 
public to the danger to the community of allowing the multiplica- 
tion of the Feeble-Minded,' etc. : and again I think not because, 
as your lordship very well knows, the methods proposed include 
(i) permanent deprivation of liberty, (2) segregation of the 
sexes, and even (3) 'sterilization,' which means castration or 
something of the sort. Salus civitatis suprema lex\ it may be 
necessary I will take this point by and by to deprive a man 
of his manhood in order to save the State. But for God's sake, 
and if we would not incur Christ's rebuke upon the Pharisees, 
let us not pretend that we are doing it in love for our victim. 
I have before me a newspaper which, in an account of the 
International Eugenics Congress held last week in London, 
reports Dr. Saleeby to have urged 'that when segregation was 
asked for they must not tell the State that it was in the interests 
of the race but (that it was) in the interests of the individual 
affected'! I can hardly believe that Dr. Saleeby a highly 
distinguished man uttered this horrible cant; but, if he did, 
I would tell Dr. Saleeby that a community which accepts the 
moral standard of his argument has reached a point of degrada- 
tion at which ten thousand male imbeciles and as many females 
may mate without making things worse. If we are all to be 
committed to this revolting campaign upon the helpless, at 
least let us go into it as men, neither deceiving ourselves with 
false words, nor insulting our victims with hypocritical pro- 
fessions: and before Dr. Saleeby troubles the world with his 
bowels he should teach them to yearn honestly. 

Well, now, you will admit, my lord, that if this campaign 

Three Open Letters to the Bishop of Exeter 181 

upon the Feeble-Minded be a necessity, it is a very sad one; so 
sad that the necessity should be made plain to us by irrefragable 
proof. But is that happening ? The Eugenists tell us that they 
are men of science, and that what they say is for us unscientific 
men to accept. But, be it said with all respect to these experts, 
that is not quite final. We, and not the experts only, are to be 
made responsible. If there be a Day of Judgment, we shall 
have to stand at the bar facing these poor wastrels and answer 
if we wronged their helplessness. That is a very terrible 
thought to me, my lord. In my own small way as a magistrate 
I may be called on to sentence such a fellow-creature to lifelong 
loss of liberty, even to mutilation. I see myself interrogating 
the unhappy bewildered eye, the inarticulate tongue, seeking to 
pierce to what of intellect gropes behind them myself, too, 
groping after the mystery which sets me in judgment over this 
hunted thing. No, by Heaven! Such wits as Heaven has lent 
me I will use first on the experts before I do their dirty work. 
I have known experts literary experts, at any rate. One of 
them sent me, the other day, a poem he had discovered in the 
library of Trinity College, Dublin, and made bold to attribute 
it (I believe) to Hagthorpe. 'Was it not a gem?' It was: it 
was also familiar to me as a lyric of Ben Jonson's, printed in 
every edition of his works : and the man who sent it to me 
bore a European reputation as a specialist in the Elizabethan 
drama ! 

Scientific experts may be less fallible. But using such wits 
as Heaven has lent me, I put this to you, my lord : we know (in 
Hamlet's phrase) what a piece of work is man! how noble in 
reason! how infinite in faculty! in form and moving how express 
and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension 
how like a god! Yet we know also, how by the most trivial of 
accidents, the mechanical pressure of less than an inch of bone 
upon the grey matter of the brain, this godlike creature is 
changed to a maniac, at war with the stuffing of his mattress. 
Then who shall say (I ask) but that some small mechanical 

1 82 Three Open Letters to the Bishop of Exeter 

touch may be equally potent to recall numbers of our Feeble- 
Minded back to grace of mind and body ? 
Some vital spring adjusted, 
Some faculty that rusted 
Cleansed to legitimate use 
Some undeveloped action stirred, some juice 
Of God; distilling dropt into the core 

That is what my reason suggests to me. Now what do these 
specialists bring to overawe it ? 

Nothing; or next to nothing. 

They have not even produced real statistics to prove that the 
mating of the Feeble-Minded results in such a wholesale genera- 
tion of Feeble-Mindedness as they pretend to be an instant danger 
to the community. Where are the figures that alone could justify 
our beginning to lend an ear to these frantic cures ? I cannot 
find them anywhere. Will you supply me with them, my lord ? 

But supposing the figures supplied, and that they are con- 
vincing how, with our present knowledge of causes (the 
experts' knowledge, if you will), can we be certain of a cure? 
Why, if you have read the reports of the recent Eugenics Con- 
gress, you must have perceived that the quacks are all at sea and 
bumping their heads one against another in the silly gale they 
only have raised. Of the incestuous union of brother and sister 
was born a Cleopatra. And Edward II, an imbecile, begat 
Edward III with descendants who numbered amongst them the 
Black Prince, Henry V, Edward IV, Henry VIII, Queen 
Elizabeth, and Queen Victoria! 

The kindest word to be said for these ignoramuses is a prayer 
that they may be forgiven because they know not what they do. 
But in their ignorant cocksureness they have managed to thrust 
a Bill upon Parliament: and this Bill has reached a second 
reading almost without opposition. I propose to examine it 
in a second letter, and am meanwhile, my lord, 

Your obedient servant, 


Three Open Letters to the Bishop of Exeter 183 


There lies before me the copy of a Bill called the 'Mental 
Deficiency Bill,' which has already passed a second reading in 
the House of Commons and will shortly be sent to Committee. 
It is fathered by the Right Hon. Reginald McKenna, His 
Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for Home Affairs, and I 
think you already know something of Mr. McKenna; but I do 
not think you can have gauged him unless you have carefully 
studied the provisions of this Bill. 

By this Bill which, unless Englishmen bestir themselves and 
take it by the throat, will speedily become an Act any person, 
'capable of earning his living under favourable circumstances,' 
but adjudged incapable (I will presently tell you how) of com- 
peting on equal terms with his normal fellows, or of managing 
himself or his affairs with ordinary prudence, shall be deemed 
to be a 'defective' (Par. 17, 2), and may be assigned to one or 
other of several classes which include (17, i): 

(1) Those in whose case it is desirable in the interests of the 
community that they should be deprived of the opportunity of 
procreating children, and 

(2) Those in whose case such other circumstances exist as may be 
specified in any order made by the Secretary of State as being circum- 
stances which make it desirable that they should be dealt with under 
this Act. 

Now let us take these two provisions in reverse order : 
No. 2, gloss it as you will, is simply lettre de cachet back again 
among civilized men. The Home Secretary may, if he find any 
person inconvenient to him, simultaneously find him 'incapable 
of managing his affairs with ordinary prudence/ and by an 
'order' commit the poor wretch to lifelong detention without 
a trial. Hideous as this sounds, it is in the Sill. 

' Oh,' you will say, 'but good Mr. McKenna and his successors 

184 Three Open Letters to the Bishop of Exeter 

will never in this Christian England of ours, dream of com- 
mitting such an infamy!' Are you so sure? It was the good 
Mr. McKenna who, the other day, invoked a statute, which for a 
hundred years had been a dead letter, to imprison a political 
opponent whose activity just then would have been inconvenient 
to the Government. You, my lord, may be enjoying a sudden 
recpvery of faith in Mr. McKenna : but there are some of us who, 
after the imprisonment of Mr. Tom Mann, do not propose to 
trust this politician as the vulgar saying goes one inch 
further than we can fling him. Possibly in time you, too, 
may revert to your distrust. But, and anyhow, why give to 
him, or to any man, this power of secretly consigning any one 
to a living death ? 

But it needs not be Mr. McKenna. By Paragraph 20 of this 
precious Bill any relative or friend (sweet word) who wants to 
get somebody out of the way may make private application to a 
magistrate. It needs so far as I can see only one magistrate, 
and at the best a couple of medical certificates, and if the magis- 
trate and the 'friend' happen to be in collusion, the poor devil 
may be put away without further parley. Nay, if he has the 
pluck to kick an intrusive doctor to the door, no medical certifi- 
cate is needed. He will be sentenced as recalcitrant and carted 
off to a house of detention for a year. If, at the end of a year, 
the Commissioners (to be appointed under the Act) refuse to 
set him free, he is closed up for five years, and then again for 
another five years, and so on until death releases him. That 
until each dark quinquennium has expired he may lift any voice 
from the tomb does not appear. 

My lord, I have been a writer now these twenty-five years, 
and I cannot remember to have written in that time sentences 
so vile as those which I am now copying from an Act of Parlia- 
ment proposed by a Liberal Government a Government into 
the cause of which some of us, through three campaigns, flung 
such energies as men give for the sake of high hopes. Let the 
hopes be: but our trust, at least, was that liberty to a Liberal 

Three Open Letters to the Bishop of Exeter 185 

Government was as chastity to a woman. Of each it is true 
that, once broken, it descends by easier and yet easier lapses to 
the standard of a strumpet, or of Mr. McKenna. 

I am sorry to drag your lordship further, but it is necessary. 
Paragraph 27, Section (2), would enact that : 

When any person tried before any court of assize or quarter sessions 
is acquitted, the court may, if it appears that there is reasonable ground 
for believing that he is defective, notwithstanding any enactment or 
rule of law to the contrary, order him to be examined as to his mental 
condition, and for that purpose, if necessary, to be detained in an 
institution for defectives pending the examination, and for such time 
as may be required for the presentation of a petition for an order 
under the Act. 

Where it appears to the police authority that any person charged 
with an offence is a defective they shall communicate with the local 
authority and it shall be the duty of the police authority to bring before 
the court such evidence as to his mental condition as may be available. 

In other words, a jury of his peers finds a man innocent of a 
charge brought against him. Then the police, who have brought 
this wrongful charge, choose a second and more deadly shot out 
of their locker. As the innocent man steps free, he is re-arrested 
and charged again. 'No, to be sure,' says 'the Court,' 'you 
are guiltless of the deed of which you were just now accused. 
But all the same the public think you unable to manage your 
affairs with ordinary prudence, and that you should be deprived 
of the opportunity of procreating children. Therefore, innocent 
man, you will go to prison for life/ 

Shall we call a brief halt, my lord, and before we deal with yet 
worse abominations yes, there are worse to come will you 
let me fumigate the air with a pipe of tobacco while you turn 
over in mind two questions I would here put to you ? 

In the first place, I think you must know well enough that in 
practice these precious enactments will be put in force only upon 
the poor, or upon the children of the poor. Yet stay! I must 
make one small reservation they may here and there be used 

1 86 Three Open Letters to the Bishop of Exeter 

by some rich and unscrupulous man to get an inheritance made 
void and to be rid of an unhappy none-too-strong-minded child 
who stands in the succession to wealth. (You might study the 
history of the Annesley suit in this connection.) With this 
reservation I put it to you that the victims of this Act will be 
moneyless persons. Yet you know well that dukes and 
millionaires have begotten monstrous children, and that at least 
one marquis has been declared incapable of managing his affairs. 
Do you believe for one moment that the net of the 'Mental 
Deficiency' Bill will be drawn around these? 

Secondly, I put it to you, who studied such questions in the 
old days, that this law falls into no proper category of law. It is 
not law at all: it is Experiment by Legal Process. Certain 
scientific or quasi-scientific men have started a theory or two. 
For these theories they can produce nothing that begins to 
amount to proof: and since they cannot, even in modern England, 
run about emasculating children by private licence, they get a 
Bill introduced whereby the State shall do their dirty work of 
experimenting of course, upon the weak and helpless. I 
wonder if you at all realize the strength of the mania that has 
taken hold of these Eugenists or to what fantastic cruelties it 
can persuade them. No ? . . . Then courage, my lord ! Pick 
up your pastoral staff, and we will wade through a yet deeper 
and filthier stream. 

Some little while ago the Chief Magistrate of the most popu- 
lous town in your diocese seriously proposed that children of 
weak intellect should be put to a painless death. (It was kind 
of him to make it painless!) Will you harden your face while 
I hold for a moment that suggestion steadily up to your nostrils ? 
. . . Yes, my lord, it will do you good in the end. . . . Bethink 
you (it is painfully known to us, who have to deal with these 
'cases' on a County Education Committee) that a mother clings 
passionately to her child who is born 'afflicted/ and more 
passionately as a rule to the idiot child than to the deaf or the 
dumb. Next bethink that the 'deficiency* of few children, or 

Three Open Letters to the Bishop of Exeter 187 

none, can be determined even for purposes of a certificate 
until the mother has suckled it, weaned it and (God knows, 
with what alternations of hope and woe) learnt, as love only 
can teach, to shield its helplessness by a thousand sweet devices. 
Lastly, bethink you of a policeman or an 'inspector* of some 
sort calling on that mother and demanding, 'Your child is weak- 
minded. Hand it to me, please, that I may lead it away and 
kill it (as proposed by a late Chief Magistrate of Plymouth), or 
that I may imprison it for life (as, your consent not asked, I am 
authorized to do by Act of Parliament which may be cited as 
the Mental Deficiency Act, 1912).' 

My lord, I know you to be a good man. Pardon me, but 
do you still press me to join your damned Association ? 

Your lordship's obedient servant, 

(but not in this), 


Let me, at the outset of this third and last letter state quite 
unequivocally what I mean by saying that the Eugenists behind 
Mr. McKenna's Bill adduce for their theories 'nothing that 
begins to amount to proof/ I mean something fatal to all their 
statistics, which, though they were piled to the moon would yet 
rest on a base incurably rotten, since in classifying A or B as 
'normal* or ' defective 9 these people have no standard at all. They 
are using loose indefinite terms which not only can be made to 
vary at will but cannot even be hindered from conveying a dozen 
different denotations (let alone connotations) to as many different 
minds. What, for example, does your Eugenist understand by 
'normal'? Is he himself, by any chance, normal? We know 
that he cannot reason scientifically; but can he, as a set-off, 
throw a discus or a cricket-ball, or sail a boat, or ride to hounds, 

1 88 Three Open Letters to the Bishop of Exeter 

or shoot straight, or walk forward steadily under an enemy's 
fire ? in fine can he do any of the score of things that would 
come within the ambit of any Hellenic conception of the normal 
man? Before discussing your Eugenist's capacity to breed 
'fitness' I want to know what, to his mind, 'fitness' is. (What 
is Mrs. Todgers' Notion of a Wooden Leg?) Before he pokes 
his quasi-scientific thumb into God's machinery, he might at 
least tell us that. What sort of man does he want to breed ? 
Is it a Philip Sidney or a Roosevelt? a Leonardo da Vinci or a 
Bismarck? a Francis of Assisi or a John D. Rockefeller or 
perchance some nice mean between these last two ? At present 
his modest demand would seem to be that we should turn him 
loose with a gelding-knife in one hand and in the other a legal 
permit to find out what in the devil's name he really does want! 
For my part, my lord (to follow an idle speculation for a 
moment), if asked what kind of man we should aim at breeding 
as likely to be most salutary to the State, I should answer, * One 
who held by clear thinking, while sensitively aware that we walk 
encompassed by mysteries.' Such a man, combining Hebrew 
reverence with the straight outlook of an old Greek, would 
needs be gracious in himself and serviceable to his fellows : 

Sweetly to ease, loose, and bind, 

As need requires, this frail fall'n human kind. 

But such a man would be the polar opposite of your modern 
Eugenist, who rushes in where angels fear to tread, flourishes 
words which have no defined relation to things, talks of 'homes' 
where he intends prisons or barracks, or of 'permanent care' 
when he means to mutilate or to immure a fellow-creature for 
life, and (worst of all) wraps his cruel accost in professions of 
tender solicitude for the victim. 

What again does he understand by 'abnormal,' seeing that 
he has no ' norm ' ? Or by ' defective ' ? Deficiency a falling 
short (of what?) is in the nature of things a word of degree: 
and amid the many thousand shades of human imperfection 

Three Open Letters to the Bishop of Exeter 189 

where is that degree to be fixed? Someone at one of these 
Congresses I think it was Dr. Saleeby again defied the whole 
world to show him a 'normal' child born of defective parents: 
and I don't know what he means by 'normal,' as neither does he. 
But if he care to risk a black eye, I will engage to introduce him 
to two lusty brothers who daily pass my door each an intelli- 
gent servant valued by his employer, each the father of a healthy 
family, and each (I dare swear) quick to resent a word against 
either of their parents, although both father and mother might 
easily have been 'sequestrated' under the provisions of Mr. 
McKenna's Bill. 1 From men who argue before taking the 
trouble to define their terms even to themselves, I believe you, 
my lord as a scholar trained in dialectic would in the old days 
have turned aside with a politely dissembled weariness. 'Quis 
est iste ? Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without 
knowledge?' But when, of their half-baked sciences, these 
muddy reasoners offer to improve on the works of Almighty 
God to bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, and bring forth 
Mazzaroth in (or out of) his season why then indeed my eye- 
brows go up to find you in their company. 

I suspect, though, that by this time you are heartily tired of 
them, as am I. Shall we drop them here and, going on together, 
conclude our walk by following reverently along the edge of a 
speculation at which they would doubtless smile? 

Your predecessor in the cathedral throne of Exeter provoked 
even such a smile when he went down and confirmed a number 
of inmates of the Starcross Asylum. The smile widened when, 
being a very simple sincere man, he explained (I forget die exact 
words) that in his experience persons of weak intellect were 
peculiarly amenable to the Christian Faith. The laugh was 
cheap and came easy. Yet I rather choose to remember with 

1 The Eugenist, by the way, on his own showing would prove too much 
for his brief. If, as he asserts, the defective * breed like rabbits' and have 
been doing so unrestrained for centuries, our villages long before this 
would have been swamped out with 'village idiots/ whereas, and as every 
one knows, nothing of the sort has happened. 

190 Three Open Letters to the Bishop of Exeter 

how sweet a charity for centuries the poor folk of Europe have 
suffered and fed their half-wits, naming them 'God's fools/ 
Ponder that name, my lord ... I remember also a thing that 
happened in the small town where I was born. Listen: for 
this is a true story : 

A native of that town, who had emigrated to South Africa 
and prospered, returned to it after many years for a brief visit. 
Nescio qua natale solum dulcedine. . . . This man came back 
somewhat haughtily curious to discover if any one would 
recognize him. Well, no one did ; not even the farmer, his old 
employer, who came down the aisle on Sunday and held out 
the alms-bag. But, as the exile walked out of the church porch, 
a man caught at his hand, mumbling his name, laughing in his 
eyes with glad welcome. It was the town idiot, Dicky Winny, 
at whom as a boy he had been used to fling stones. While the 
exile wondered, the idiot first spread a palm some four feet from 
the ground 'Pete little boy so high!' Then he stooped 
and made pretence to pick up a flint and fling it. 'Pete he 
fling so. . . . These boys' (spitting, shaking his head with 
infinite contempt) 'nowadays no good at all!' 

Upon this story the Eugenist would probably make some such 
comment as that ' if the poor fool had only been shut up, he had 
never been pelted.' To which I should retort, 'Sir, the story 
is not for you : but if you must still be teaching, go home and 
teach your children not to follow your example of stoning the 
weak.' I hope, however, that you, my lord, may read it as a 
deeper parable. I think you must sometimes have preached 
of the inscrutable purposes of God, and warned men against 
leaving hidden things out of account or interpreting them too 
rashly. Now when you see a mother poring over an imbecile 
child, searching for some answer of love in the vacant eyes, or 
when I tell you of this grown idiot laughing and forgiving his 
fellows under an affliction that would tempt us to curse God and 
die, does it not occur to you that after all these poor 'fools of 
God* may be serving some divine purpose in the world and 

Three Open Letters to the Bishop of Exeter 191 

serving it more happily than we deem ? to cleanse and soften with 
tears some mother's eyes, which else had grown hard with petty 
cares; to remind grumbling men how easily their lot had de- 
served lamentation; to unlock in small dispersed societies the 
waters of universal charity and to keep them evidently running ? 
Who are we, my lord, to deny that these witless ones yes, 
or even these Eugenists may have their place in the great 

* God sits upon His hill, 

And sees the shadows fly; 
And if He laugh at fools, why should He not ? 

It may even be that He has provided himself with these 
Eugenists, as ancient kings kept Fools, for ironical delectation 
in hours of leisure. 

I wonder, my lord, if you can recall a vacation ramble we 
once took together, and a most beautiful, pitiful sight we beheld 
in the course of it. We halted beside a river, across which 
in greed or in ignorance men had built a dam just too high for 
the salmon to leap; nor had they supplied any Madder* for the 
fish to ascend by successive easy assaults. Do you remember 
how we sat and watched the lovely things hurling themselves 
up against that brutal dam; leaping some twenty feet in air, 
some forty leaps to minute bruising their bright sides upon 
the masonry and tumbling back into the lower pool, that was 
all aseethe with creatures mad to reach the head-waters and 
deposit their spawn ? 

What impulse urged them, baffled again and again, to persist at 
that tremendous leap ? My grandfather (who was a patient man 
of science and spent his life in observing and recording die habits 
offish, without attempting to teach the Almighty how to improve 
them) permitted himself in his chapter on the Salmon (A History 
of the Fishes of the British Islands, vol. iv, p. 173) an indignant 
paragraph upon men who intrude such barriers upon Nature. 
He lived before men had invented such sciences arts, rather 
as Eugenics or, 'How to be Dirty in the Drawing-Room'; and 

192 Three Open Letters to the Bishop of Exeter 

his answer to the question 'Why should these salmon pant for 
the upper streams?' would have been, 'They do it as I track 
them, following after but not disputing the divine wisdom'; 
even as to the claims of the Eugenists I am sure he will have 
quoted the great smashing answer in Esdras : 

Before the waters of the world stood, or ever the winds blew; before it 
thundered or lightened, or ever the foundations of paradise were laid; 
before the fair flowers were seen, or ever the moveable powers were 
established; before the measures of the firmament were named, or ever 
the chimneys in Sion were hot; and ere the present years were sought out, 
or ever the inventions of them that now sin were turned; then did I con- 
sider these things, and they were all made through me alone, and through 
none other. By me also they shall be ended, and by none other. 

My lord, I put it to you plainly that it were a sin and 
wickedness for us, knowing so little as we know, to promote the 
Bill now before Parliament. Forgive me that I have used some 
coarse words upon it : they were the fittest for a very dirty sub- 
ject which has begun to recommend itself as a parlour science. 
But for I am very earnest in this matter I ask something 
more than your forgiveness. Will you if these three letters 
of mine have at all opened your eyes to the infamy of the Bill 
and its proposals make a noble return upon yourself and say, 
'I find this thing to be evil, and it no longer has my consent'? 
That would be such an utterance as great men and only they 
dare to make; and for a smaller matter, my lord, it would 
vindicate at a stroke the trust and admiration, founded these 
years ago, of 

Your old pupil and still obedient servant, 



SMALL is my secret let it pass 
Small in your life the share I had, 
Who sat beside you in the class, 
Awed by the bright superior lad : 
Whom yet with hot and eager face 
I prompted when he missed his place. 

For you the call came swift and soon : 

But sometimes in your holidays 
You met me trudging home at noon 
To dinner through the dusty ways, 
And recognized, and with a nod 
Passed on, but never guessed thank God! 

Truly our ways were separate. 

I bent myself to hoe and drill, 
Yea, with an honest man to mate, 
Fulfilling God Almighty's will; 

And bore him children. But my prayers 
Were yours and, only after, theirs. 

While you still loftier, more remote, 

You sprang from stair to stair of fame, 
And you 've a riband on your coat, 
And you Ve a title to your name. 
But have you yet a star to shine 
Above your bed, as I o'er mine ? 



An Introduction to Parodies and Imitations Old and New, edited 
by J. A. S. Adam and B. C. White. 1912. 

SAYS Ruskin, in his lecture on The Mystery of Life and its 
Arts *The moment a man can really do his work he 
becomes speechless about it. All words become idle to him 
all theories/ With a rhetorical flourish he goes on to ask: 
'Does a bird need to theorize about building its nest, or boast 
of it when built?' 

Well, as to the bird, I don't know, and (with all respect) 
I very much doubt if Ruskin knew; though by the noise the 
sparrows were making, a few weeks ago, in the ivies outside 
this window of mine, I should judge that as they say in Parlia- 
ment ' the answer to the second part of the question is in the 
affirmative.' But if Ruskin be right in his general proposition, 
that a man straightway falls silent about any work he can really 
do, it would seem that the editors of this anthology in asking 
me to write a Preface have paid a left-handed compliment, the 
blow of which is sharpened rather than softened by their 
gracefully including two or three parodies of my own. 

Well, well en los nidos de antano no hai pdjaros hogano / 
I may theorize a little, perhaps, about; last year's nests. 

Now, the first thing to be said about Parody is that it plays 
with the gods : its fun is taken with Poetry, which all good men 
admit to be a beautiful and adorable thing, and some would 
have to be a holy thing. 1 It follows then that Parody must be 

1 There are, of course, false gods in Poetry. But parodies of these 
directly expose their falsity, while parodies of true poetry subtly pay 
homage to its truth. Moreover, we may say generally that in parody, 
as elsewhere, exposure of the false (though useful and necessary) ranks 
below illustration of die true. 


The Art of Parody 195 

delicate ground, off which the profane and vulgar should be 
carefully warned. A deeply religious man may indulge a smile 
at this or that in his religion; as a truly devout lover may rally 
his mistress on her foibles, since for him they make her the more 
enchanting. Without being conscious of it, he knows un- 
erringly ' how far to go/ as they say ; he cannot offend, because 
his true reverence does not so much control as permeate him: 

Thou art my life, my love, my heart, 
The very eyes of me : 

and the tone of the laugh tells of that sweet understanding. So, 
or almost so, it should be with the parodist. He must be friends 
with the gods, and worthy of their company, before taking these 
pleasant liberties with them. Nor, if we keep a mind at once 
fearless and modest in approaching them, shall we fail of that 
friendship, thanks to their magnificent condescension. As 
Emerson has noted: 

It is remarkable that involuntarily we always read as superior 
beings. Universal history, the poets, the romancers, do not in their 
stateliest picture in the sacerdotal, the imperial palaces, in the triumphs 
of will or of genius anywhere lose our ear, anywhere make us feel 
that we intrude, that this is for our betters ; but rather it is true that, 
in their grandest strokes, there we feel most at home. All that 
Shakespeare says of the King, yonder slip of a boy that reads in the 
corner feels to be true of himself. . . . 

If this be true and I think no one will dispute it then the 
more shame must we feel when an outsider comes along and 
takes advantage of their noble condescension to call hail-fellow 
with Milton, for example, or to slap Wordsworth on the back. 
A David may dance before the ark, to which an Uzzah may not 
put forth a hand: and even David must lay his account with 
Michal's shocked protestantism. 

The material, then, on which Parody works is Poetry, and 
preferably great Poetry. Its method consists in a nice apposi- 

196 The Art of Parody 

tion of the incongruous, catching as nearly as possible the 
authentic speech of the bard and applying it unexpectedly, even 
absurdly, to things beneath his notice; thereby reminding him 
that he is mortal without denying rather, insisting that he is 
divine. In its easiest form Parody will take his actual words, 
and turn them to some new and ridiculous connotation. It is 
a trick not far removed from punning ; yet, when well executed, 
it gives pleasure, I think, to any one not born a prig. For an 
instance, I choose a few lines of Mr. Hartley Carrick's, one of 
our younger parodists. He takes Wordsworth's She was a 
Phantom of Delight, and applies the actual words, or some of 
them, which in our minds carry their own associations, to 
a motor-omnibus. 

It was a phantom of delight 

When first it gleam d upon my sight, 

And seem'd to hint a time of bliss 

In store for the metropolis . . . 

A perfect motor, nobly plannd 

To traverse Holborn and the Strand. . . , 

But now from early morn till e'en 
I hear the pulse of the machine 
That clatters past my humble door 
In one unending shriek and roar; 
With aching head and deafen'd ear 
I note with apprehensive fear 
The traveller *twixt life and death 
Endeavour to regain his breath, 
As once again it skids away 
To haunt, to startle, and waylay. 

At the risk of being numbered among the friends of Mr. 
Peter Magnus, I confess that these absurdities amuse me. But 
now let us compare the above with a specimen of parody carried 
almost, if not quite, to its fullest powers, and for this purpose 

The Art of Parody 197 

let us choose another 'imitation' of Wordsworth, this time by 
J. K. Stephen (genius untimely lost) : 


Bright Summer spreads his various hue 

O'er nestling vales and mountains steep, 
Glad birds are singing in the blue, 

In joyous chorus bleat the sheep. 
But men are walking to and fro, 

Are riding, driving, far and near, 
And nobody as yet can go 

By train to Buttermere. 

Wake, England, wake! 'tis now the hour 

To sweep away this black disgrace 
The want of locomotion proves 

In so enjoyable a place. 
Nature has done her part, and why 

Is mightier Man in his to fail ? 
I want to hear the porters cry, 

* Change here for Ennerdale!' 

Presumptuous Nature! do not rate 

Unduly high thy humble lot, 
Nor vainly strive to emulate 

The fame of Stephenson and Watt. 
The beauties which thy lavish pride 

Has scatter'd through the smiling land 
Are little worth till sanctified 

By Man's completing hand. 

The form is here true Wordsworth, from the verbose title to 
the last exquisite quatrain, with scarcely a lapse. * Enjoyable' 
in stanza 2 is not quite Wordsworth, but a little more than 
Wordsworth, and 'the fame of Stevenson and Watt* occupies 

198 The An of Parody 

Stephen for a moment with his own cleverness. On the other 
hand, what, for example, could be more exquisitely Words- 
worthian in operation of mind and in actual cadence of speech 

But men are walking to and fro, 

Are riding, driving, far and near * . . ? 

There is more than this: with almost diabolical cunning 
Stephen has seized on the subject that of all others would have 
engaged Wordsworth; has turned it upside down; and has 
presented the poet uttering to us in his own authentic words 
precisely the last sentiments his admirers would expect him to 
utter. And yet again (so clever it is), we are left with a frolic 
doubt (remembering Wordsworth's ineradicable streak of the 
prosaic and his actual return upon himself in his later years) 
that somehow, had it been possible to fill the great man up with 
laughing gas, in the moments preceding unconsciousness he 
might not improbably have uttered these very sentiments as he 
would assuredly have cast them in similar words. I call this 
the perfection of Parody. 

But if the parodist can do so much as this, it follows further 
that Parody must be a form of Criticism, and may be enlightening 
as it is vivacious. Again I turn for the simplest illustration to 
the work of a young practitioner. Some years ago, in his last 
Oxford lectures, Mr. Froude lamented that no poet in this 
country had arisen to undertake a national epic of the great 
Elizabethan seamen; a hint which has since been acted on by 
Mr. Alfred Noyes in his fine Drake, an epic poem in twelve 
books. Now in any long poem of the sea there inheres the 
difficulty that while the action of Epic has to be rapid and the 
verse correspondingly rapid (as Matthew Arnold noted in his 
Lectures On Translating Homer\ actually the business of sea- 
faring is full of patience and longueurs. You cannot upon the 
wide Atlantic hustle action and reaction to and fro as upon the 
fields of windy Troy. Homer, when he came to the Odyssey, 

The Art of Parody 199 

dodged a part of this difficulty by casting a whole mass of his 
hero's adventures into the form of reported speech a traveller's 
yarn at the court of Alcinous ; and another part he could dodge 
because he was dealing with the purely fictitious, and could 
introduce a shipwreck or a miracle whenever things were getting 
slow. But in these days you cannot play tricks like this with 
Drake, whose voyages are matters of history. This difficulty, 
then, was inherent in Mr. Noyes's subject, and it seems to me 
very shrewdly detected and hit off in Mr. Wilfrid Blair's parody : 


Meanwhile the wind had changed, and Francis Drake 
Put down the helm, and drove against the seas. 
Once more the wind changed, and the simple seaman, 
Full-fraught with weather-wisdom, once again 
Put down the helm, and so drove on, until 
The everlasting and omnipotent 
Dawn, through the splendid gloom and golden clouds 
Broke : and a great, golden, gilded galleon 
In raggy piles of gloom and shaggy splendour 
Rose up against them, clouded with the dawn. 

Plushed, plumed, and purpled on the imperious poop, 

Crusty with cramoisie the Spaniards stood. 

They quite refused surrender, till Drake cried 

*I am El Draque!' At once they recognized 

The name, tho* spoken with a Devon burr. 

Down came their flag at once upon the deck, 

As when a fragment of the ceiling falls. 

Brief and delicious simile! 

So with instructions to the wheel 
Drake went below, and had a glass of grog. 

For a second and more accomplished illustration, let us take 
James Smith's famous parody of Crabbe in Rejected Addresses. 

\Poets~orfthe Isis. Oxford: B. H. Blackwell, 1910. 

200 The Art of Parody 

Crabbe is a very considerable poet: for a certain power of 
poignancy, hard yet human, and (its best quality) stark clear of 
sentiment, you will hardly find his match. But he exhibited 
this power in versified stories, and in the art of introducing and 
laying out a story he was incurably clumsy and could be bald, 
unpoetical to the last degree. Those of us who love him best 
must have smiled oftenest over such passages as : 

Peter had heard there were in London then 
Still have they being! workhouse-clearing men, 
Who, undisturbed by feelings just or kind, 
Would parish-boys to needy tradesmen bind . . . 

The difficulty here is somewhat cognate with that of logging 
Drake's voyages: and perhaps among narrative poets Homer 
stands alone in his handling of flat intervals, his skill in poetizing 
such operations as cooking a dinner or hauling up a boat so that 
while never aspiring above their due level in the narrative they 
never fall below the grand manner. Crabbe (' a Pope in worsted 
stockings') avoided, to be sure, the Charybdis of Pope and his 
compeers. He seldom or never clothed triviality in fine and 
banal writing such as : 

The Heavens illumed by Sol's bright ray 

Inoculation! heavenly maid, descend, 

which was the approved way to talk of the weather or of 
Dr. Jenner's vaccine. On the other hand, at the beginning of 
a tale he would bump for twenty or thirty lines together upon 
a Scylla commonplace so bald and awkward that James Smith's 
famous lines contain more of criticism than of exaggeration : 

John Richard William Alexander Dwyer 
Was footman to Justinian Stubbs, Esquire ; 
But when John Dwyer 'listed in the Blues, 
Emanuel Jennings polish* d Stubbs's shoes. 
Emanuel Jennings brought his youngest boy 
Up as a corn-cutter a safe employ. 

The Art of Parody 201 

This is fun and criticism together; and as criticism it indicates 
at once Crabbe's * worsted stockings' and his frequent, almost 
habitual clumsiness in starting them out for a walk. 

Again, could the fatuity of the ordinary Prize Poem be 
better rationalized in twenty pages of prose than it was by 
the parodist who summarized all the Oxford Newdigates in 
one line? 

What though no cenotaph enshrine thy bones! 

Or, again, has the banality of poetic diction ever received 
a shrewder knock than it did from the parodies of the Anti- 
Jacobin ? 

The feather' d tribes on pinions cleave the air; 

Not so the mackerel, and, still less, the bear. 

Or yet, again, could the musical flagrancies of our latest and 
greatest Strauss, and the affabilities of all the eighteenth-century 
Odes to Saint Cecilia, be more neatly touched than they are by 
Mr. Charles L. Graves simply opposing them in an 


Hence, loathed Melody, whose name recalls 
The mellow fluting of the nightingale 

In some sequester' d vale, 

The Murmur of the stream 

Heard in a dream, 

Or drowsy plash of distant waterfalls. 
But thou, divine Cacophony, assume 
The rightful overlordship in her room, 
And with Percussion's stimulating aid 
Expel the heavenly but no longer youthful maid. 

The mischief with Parody is that while no neater or swifter 
vehicle of criticism has ever been invented, the most of men 
practise it in youth, as a way of breaking their teeth upoa, 
literature, and abandon it as middle age brings the critical 
judgment which it would seem designed to convey. There 

202 The Art of Parody 

once was an Aristophanes to whom years but brought fresh 
gusto in the gentle art : and our own times have in England, in 
Mr. Owen Seaman, a parodist as near perfection as our language 
is likely to achieve for his first living rival, Mr. A. G. Godley, 
is an Horatian rather than a parodist, and indeed his line has 
lain in that direction from the first. Calverley, Hilton of The 
Light Green, ]. K. Stephen, all died young. Perhaps the gods 
loved them. For, as I said at the start, Parody plays with the 
gods ; and, as George Meredith says in his Essay on Comedy 
and we may reverently apply it to the gods : 'You may estimate 
your capacity for Comic perception by being able to detect the 
ridicule of them you love, without loving them less : and more 
by being able to see yourself somewhat ridiculous in dear eyes, 
and accepting the correction their image of you proposes/ 


IN all the long quarrel set between philosophy and poetry I 
know of nothing finer, as of nothing more pathetically hope- 
less, than Plato's return upon himself in his last dialogue ' The 
Laws.' There are who find that dialogue (left unrevised) in- 
sufferably dull, as no doubt it is without form and garrulous. 
But I think they will read it with a new tolerance, maybe even 
with a touch of feeling, if upon second thoughts they recognize 
in its twistings and turnings, its prolixities and repetitions, the 
scruples of an old man who, knowing that his time in this world 
is short, would not go out of it pretending to know more than 
he does, and even in matters concerning which he was once 
very sure has come to divine that, after all, as Renan says, 
'La verite consiste dans les nuances.' Certainly 'the soul's 
dark cottage battered and decayed' does in that last dialogue 
admit some wonderful flashes, 

From Heaven descended to the low-roofed house 
Of Socrates, 

or rather to that noble 'banquet-hall deserted' which aforetime 
had entertained Socrates. 

Suffer me, Mr. Vice-Chancellor and Gentlemen, before reach- 
ing my text, to remind ourselves of the characteristically 
beautiful setting. The place is Crete, and the three inter- 
locutors Cleinias a Cretan, Megillus a Lacedaemonian, and 
an Athenian stranger have joined company on a pilgrimage 
to the cave and shrine of Zeus, from whom Minos, first lawgiver 
of the island, had reputedly derived not only his parentage but 
much parental instruction. Now the day being hot, even 
scorching, and the road from Cnossus to the Sacred Cave a 


204 Inaugural Lecture 

long one, our three pilgrims, who have foregathered as elderly 
men, take it at their leisure, and propose to beguile it with talk 
upon Minos and his laws. 'Yes, and on the way/ promises 
the Cretan, 'we shall come to cypress-groves exceedingly tall 
and fair, and to green meadows, where we may repose ourselves 
and converse.' 'Good,' assents the Athenian. 'Ay, very 
good indeed, and better still when we arrive at them. Let us 
push on.' 

So they proceed. I have said that all three are elderly men; 
that is, men who have had their opportunities, earned their wages, 
and so nearly earned their discharge that now, looking back on 
life, they can afford to see Man for what he really is at his best 
a noble plaything for the gods. Yet they look forward, too, a 
little wistfully. They are of the world, after all, and nowise so 
tired of it, albeit disillusioned, as to have lost interest in the 
game or in the young who will carry it on. So Minos and his 
laws soon get left behind, and the talk (as so often befalls with 
Plato) is of the perfect citizen and how to train him of educa- 
tion, in short ; and so, as ever with Plato, we are back at length 
upon the old question which he could never get out of his 
way What to do with the poets? 

It scarcely needs to be said that the Athenian has taken hold 
of the conversation, and that the others are as wax in his hands. 
'O Athenian stranger,' Cleinias addresses him 'inhabitant of 
Attica I will not call you, for you seem to deserve rather the 
name of Athene herself, because you go back to first principles.' 
Thus complimented, the stranger lets himself go. Yet somehow 
he would seem to have lost speculative nerve. 

It was all very well in the ' Republic,' the ideal State, to be 
bold and declare for banishing poetry altogether. But elderly 
men have given up pursuing ideals; they have 'seen too many 
leaders of revolts.' Our Athenian is driving now at practice 
(as we say), at a well-governed State realizable on earth; and 
after all it is hard to chase out the poets, especially if you your- 
self happen to be something of a poet at heart. Hear, then, 

Inaugural Lecture 205 

the terms on which, after allowing that comedies may be per- 
formed, but only by slaves and hirelings, he proceeds to allow 
serious poetry. 

And if any of the serious poets, as they are termed, who write 
tragedy, come to us and say : ' O strangers, may we go to your city 
and country, or may we not, and shall we bring with us our poetry? 
What is your will about these matters?* how shall we answer the 
divine men? I think that our answer should be as follows: 

'Best of strangers,' we will say to them, 'we also, according to our 
ability, are tragic poets, and our tragedy is the best and noblest: for 
our whole state is an imitation of the best and noblest life. . . . You 
are poets and we are poets, both makers of the same strains, rivals 
and antagonists in the noblest of dramas, which true law alone can 
perfect, as our hope is. Do not then suppose that we shall all in a 
moment allow you to erect your stage in the Agora, and introduce 
the fair voices of your actors, speaking above our own, and permit 
you to harangue our women and children and the common people 
in language other than our own, and very often the opposite of our 
own. For a State would be mad which gave you this licence, until 
the magistrates had determined whether your poetry might be recited 
and was fit for publication or not. Wherefore, O ye sons and scions 
of the softer Muses ! first of all show your songs to the Magistrates 
and let them compare them with our own, and if they are the same 
or better, we will give you a chorus ; but if not, then, my friends, 
we cannot.' 

Lame conclusion! Impotent compromise! How little appli- 
cable, at all events, to our Commonwealth! though, to be sure 
(you may say) we possess a relic of it in His Majesty's Licenser 
of Plays. As you know, there has been so much heated talk 
of late over the composition of the County Magistracy; yet I 
give you a countryman's word, Sir, that I have heard many 
names proposed for the Commission of the Peace, and on 
many grounds, but never one on the ground that its owner had 
a conservative taste in verse! 

Nevertheless, as Plato saw, we must deal with these poets 
somehow. It is possible (though not, I think, likely) that in 

206 Inaugural Lecture 

the ideal State there would be no Literature, as it is certain 
there would be no Professors of it; but since its invention men 
have never been able to rid themselves of it for any length of 
time. Tamen usque recurret. They may forbid Apollo, but 
still he comes leading his choir, the Nine: 

1 /tiV eycuye /LICPOC/U KCV' es Se /c 
Oapcrijaas Moiaaiai avv d^ercpatcrtv t/cot/iav. 

And he may challenge us English boldly! For since Chaucer, 
at any rate, he and his train have never been a/cA^vot to us 
least of all here in Cambridge. 

Nay, we know that he should be welcome. Cardinal New- 
man, proposing the idea of a University to the Roman Catholics 
of Dublin, lamented that the English language had not, like the 
Greek, 'some definite words to express, simply and generally, 
intellectual proficiency or perfection, such as "health," as used 
with reference to the animal frame, and "virtue," with reference 
to our moral nature/ Well, it is a reproach to us that we do 
possess the term: and perhaps again a reproach to us that our 
attempts at it the word 'culture* for instance have been apt 
to take on some soil of controversy, some connotative damage, 
from over-preaching on the one hand and impatience on the 
other. But we do earnestly desire the thing. We do prize 
that grace of intellect which sets So-and-so in our view as 
'a scholar and a gentleman.' We do wish as many sons of this 
University as may be to carry forth that lifelong stamp from her 
precincts ; and this is my point from our notion of such a 
man the touch of literary grace cannot be excluded. I put to 
you for a test Lucian's description of his friend Demonax : 

His way was like other people's; he mounted no high horse; he 
was just a man and a citizen. He indulged in no Socratic irony. 
But his discourse was full of Attic grace; those who heard it went 
away neither disgusted by servility nor repelled by ill-tempered 
censure, but on the contrary lifted out of themselves by charity, and 
encouraged to more orderly, contented, hopeful lives. 

Inaugural Lecture 207 

I put it to you, that Lucian needs not to say another word, 
but we know that Demonax had loved letters, and partly by 
aid of them had arrived at being such a man. No ; by consent 
of all, Literature is a nurse of noble natures, and right reading 
makes a full man in a sense even better than Bacon's; not 
replete, but complete rather, to the pattern for which Heaven 
designed him. In this conviction, in this hope, public-spirited 
men endow Chairs in our Universities, sure that Literature is a 
good thing if only we can bring it to operate on young minds. 

That he has in him some power to guide such operation a 
man must believe before accepting such a Chair as this. And 
now, Sir, the terrible moment is come when your ^c'vos must 
render some account I will not say of himself, for that cannot 
be attempted but of his business here. Well, first let me 
plead that while you have been infinitely kind to the stranger, 
feasting him and casting a gown over him, one thing not all 
your kindness has been able to do. With precedents, with 
traditions such as other Professors enjoy, you could not furnish 
him. The Chair is a new one, or almost new, and for the 
present would seem to float in the void, like Mahomet's coffin. 
Wherefore, being one who (in my Lord Chief Justice Crewel 
phrase) would ' take hold of a twig or a twine-thread to uphold 
it'; being also prone (with Bacon) to believe that 'the counsels 
to which Time hath not been called, Time will not ratify' ; I do 
assure you that, had any legacy of guidance been discovered 
among the papers left by my predecessor, it would have been 
eagerly welcomed and as piously honoured. O, trust me, Sir! 
if any design for this Chair of English Literature had been 
left by Dr. Verrall, it is not I who would be setting up any new 
stage in your agora! But in his papers most kindly searched 
for me by Mrs. Verrall no such design can be found. He 
was, in truth, a stricken man when he came to the Chair, and of 
what he would have built we can only be sure that, had it been 
this or had it been that, it would infallibly have borne the impress 
of one of the most beautiful minds of our generation. The 

208 Inaugural Lecture 

gods saw otherwise; and for me, following him, I came to a 
trench and stretched my hands to a shade. 

For me, then, if you put questions concerning the work of 
this Chair, I must take example from the artist in Don Quixote, 
who being asked what he was painting answered modestly, 
'That is as it may turn out.' The course is uncharted, and for 
sailing directions I have but these words of your Ordinance : 

It shall be the duty of the Professor to deliver courses of lectures 
on English Literature from the age of Chaucer onwards, and otherwise 
to promote, so far as may be in his power, the study in the University 
of the subject of English Literature. 

And I never even knew that English Literature had a 'subject'; 
or, rather, supposed it to have several ! To resume : 

The Professor shall treat this subject on literary and critical rather 
than on philological and linguistic lines: 

a proviso which at any rate cuts off a cantle, large in itself, 
if not comparatively, of the new Professor's ignorance. But 
I ask you to note the phrase 'to promote, so far as may be in 
his power, the study' not, you will observe, 'to teach'; for 
this absolves me from raising at the start a question of some 
delicacy for me, as Green launched his Prolegomena to Ethics 
upon the remark that 'an author who seeks to gain general con- 
fidence scarcely goes the right way to work when he begins 
with asking whether there really is such a subject as that of 
which he proposes to treat.' In spite of mark, pray, that I 
say in spite of the activity of many learned Professors, some 
doubt does lurk in the public mind if, after all, English Litera- 
ture can, in any ordinary sense, be taught, and if the attempts 
to teach it do not, after all, justify (as Wisdom is so often 
justified of her grandparents) the silent sapience of those old 
benefactors who abstained from endowing any such Chairs. 

But that the study of English Literature can be promoted in 
young minds by an elder one, that their zeal may be encouraged, 
their tastes directed, their vision cleared, quickened, enlarged 

Inaugural Lecture 209 

this, I take it, no man of experience will deny. Nay, since our 
two oldest Universities have a habit of marking one another 
with interest an interest, indeed, sometimes heightened by 
nervousness I may point out that all this has been done of 
late years, and eminently done, by a Cambridge man you gave 
to Oxford. This, then, Mr. Vice-Chancellor this or some- 
thing like this, Gentlemen is to be my task if I have the good 
fortune to win your confidence. 

Let me, then, lay down two or three principles by which 
I propose to be guided, (i) For the first principle of all I put 
to you that in studying any work of genius we should begin by 
taking it absolutely ; that is to say, with minds intent on dis- 
covering just what the author's mind intended; this being at 
once the obvious approach to its meaning (its TO rl fjv cfvcw, 
the * thing it was to be'), and the merest duty of politeness we 
owe to the great man addressing us. We should lay our minds 
open to what he wishes to tell, and if what he has to tell be 
noble and high and beautiful, we should surrender and let soak 
our minds in it. 

Let me premise that in claiming, even insisting upon, the 
first place for this absolute study of a great work I use no dis- 
respect towards those learned scholars whose labours will help 
you, Gentlemen, to enjoy it afterwards in other ways and from 
other aspects ; since I hold there is no surer sign of intellectual 
ill-breeding than to speak, even to feel, slightingly of any know- 
ledge oneself does not happen to possess. Still less do I aim to 
persuade you that any one should be able to earn a Cambridge 
degree by the process (to borrow Macaulay's phrase) of reading 
our great authors 'with his feet on the hob/ a posture I have 
not even tried, to recommend it for a contemplative man's 
recreation. , These editors not only set us the priceless example 
of learning for learning's sake : but even in practice they clear 
our texts for us, and afterwards when we go more minutely 
into our author's acquaintance, wishing to learn all we can about 
him by increasing our knowledge of detail they enhance our 

2 1 o Inaugural Lecture 

delight. Nay, with certain early writers say Chaucer or 
Dunbar, as with certain highly allusive ones Bacon, or Milton, 
or Sir Thomas Browne some apparatus must be supplied from 
the start. But on the whole I think it a fair contention that 
such helps to studying an author are secondary and subsidiary; 
that, for example, with any author who by consent is less of his 
age than for all time, to study the relation he bore to his age may 
be important indeed, and even highly important, yet must in 
the nature of things be of secondary importance, not of the first. 
But let us examine this principle a little more attentively 
for it is the palmary one. As I conceive it, that understanding 
of literature which we desire in our Euphues, our gracefully 
minded youth, will include knowledge in varying degree, yet 
is itself something distinct from knowledge. Let us illustrate 
this upon Poetry, which the most of us will allow to be the 
highest form of literary expression, if not of all artistic expres- 
sion. Of all the testimony paid to Poetry, none commands 
better witness than this that, as Johnson said of Gray's Elegy, 
it 'abounds with images which find a mirror in every mind, and 
with sentiments to which every bosom returns an echo.' When 
George Eliot said, 'I never before met with so many of my 
own feelings expressed just as I should like them,' she but 
repeated of Wordsworth (in homelier, more familiar fashion) 
what Johnson said of Gray ; and the same testimony lies implicit 
in Emerson's fine remark that 'universal history, the poets, the 
romancers' all good writers, in short 'do not anywhere make 
us feel that we intrude, that this is for our betters. Rather it 
is true that, in their greatest strokes, there we feel most at home.' 
The mass of evidence, of which these are samples, may be 
summarized thus : As we dwell here between two mysteries, of 
a soul within and an ordered Universe without, so among us 
are granted to dwell certain men of more delicate intellectual 
fibre than their fellows men whose minds have, as it were, 
filaments to intercept, apprehend, conduct, translate home to 
us stray messages between these two mysteries, as modern 

Inaugural Lecture 211 

telegraphy has learnt to search out, snatch, gather home human 
messages astray over waste waters of the Ocean. 

If, then, the ordinary man be done this service by the poet, 
that (as Dr. Johnson defines it) 'he feels what he remembers 
to have felt before, but he feels it with a great increase of sensi- 
bility ; or even if, though the message be unfamiliar, it suggest 
to us, in Wordsworth's phrase, to 'feel that we are greater than 
we know,' I submit that we respond to it less by anything that 
usually passes for knowledge, than by an improvement of sensi- 
bility, a tuning up of the mind to the poet's pitch ; so that the 
man we are proud to send forth from our Schools will be 
remarkable less for something he can take out of his wallet and 
exhibit for knowledge, than for being something, and that 
'something* a man of unmistakable intellectual breeding, whose 
trained judgment we can trust to choose the better and reject 
the worse. 

But since this refining of the critical judgment happens to be 
less easy of practice than the memorizing of much that passes 
for knowledge of what happened to Harriet or what Blake 
said to the soldier and far less easy to examine on, the peda- 
gogic mind (which I implore you not to suppose me confusing 
with the scholarly) for avoidance of trouble tends all the while 
to dodge or obfuscate what is essential, piling up accidents and 
irrelevancies before it until its very face is hidden. And we 
should be the more watchful not to confuse the pedagogic mind 
with the scholarly since it is from the scholar that the pedagogue 
pretends to derive his sanction; ransacking the great genuine 
commentators be it a Skeat or a Masson or (may I add for old 
reverence' sake?) an Aldis Wright fetching home bits of 
erudition, non sua poma, and announcing 'This must be the 
true Sion, for we found it in a wood.' 

Hence a swarm of little school-books pullulates annually, all 
upside down and wrong from beginning to end; and hence a 
worse evil afflicts us, that the English schoolboy starts with a 
false perspective of any given masterpiece, his pedagogue 

212 Inaugural Lecture 

urging, obtruding, the poem or the play itself, is seen in distorted 
glimpses, if not quite blocked out of view. 

This same temptation to remove a work of art from the 
category for which the author designed it into another where it 
can be more conveniently studied reaches even above the 
schoolmaster to assail some very eminent critics. I cite an 
example from a book of which I shall hereafter have to speak 
with gratitude as I shall always name it with respect The 
History of English Poetry, by Dr. Courthope, some time Pro- 
fessor of Poetry at Oxford. In his fourth volume, and in his 
estimate of Fletcher as a dramatist, I find this passage : 

But the critical test of a play's quality is only applied when it is 
read. So long as the illusion of the stage gives credit to the action, 
and the words and gestures of the actor impose themselves on the 
imagination of the spectator, the latter will pass over a thousand 
imperfections which reveal themselves to the reader, who, as he has 
to satisfy himself with the drama of silent images, will not be content 
if this in any way falls short of his conception of truth and nature, 

which seems equivalent to saying that the crucial test of the 
frieze of the Parthenon is its adaptability to an apartment in 
Bloomsbury. So long as the illusion of the Acropolis gave 
credit to Pheidias's design, and the sunlight of Attica imposed 
its delicate intended shadows edging the reliefs, the country- 
men of Pericles might be tricked ; but the visitor to the British 
Museum, as he has to satisfy himself with what happens indoors 
in the atmosphere of the West Central Postal Division of 
London, will not be content if Pheidias in any way fall short 
of his conception of truth and nature. Yet Fletcher (I take it) 
constructed his plays as plays; the illusion of the stage, the 
persuasiveness of the actor's voice, were conditions for which 
he wrought, and on which he had a right to rely; and, in short, 
any critic behaves uncritically who, distrusting his imagination 
to recreate the play as a play, elects to consider it in the category 
of something else. 

Inaugural Lecture 213 

In sum, if the great authors never oppress us with airs of 
condescension, but, like the great lords they are, put the meanest 
of us at our ease in their presence, I see no reason why we 
should pay to any commentator a servility not demanded by 
his master. 

My next two principles may be more briefly stated. 

(2) I propose next, then, that since our investigations will 
deal largely with style, that curiously personal thing ; and since 
(as I have said) they cannot in their nature be readily brought 
to rule-of-thumb tests, and may therefore so easily be suspected 
of evading all tests, of being mere dilettantism; I propose 
(I say) that my pupils and I rebuke this suspicion by constantly 
aiming at the concrete, at the study of such definite beauties as 
we can see presented in print under our eyes; always seeking 
the author's intention, but eschewing, for the present at any 
rate, all general definitions and theories, through the sieve of 
which the particular achievement of genius is so apt to. slip. 
And having excluded them at first in prudence, I make little 
doubt we shall go on to exclude them in pride. Definitions, 
formulae (some would add, creeds) have their use in any 
society in that they restrain the ordinary unintellectual man 
from making himself a public nuisance with his private opinions. 
But they go a very little way in helping the man who has a real 
sense of prose or verse. In other words, they are good disci- 
pline for some thyrsus-bearers, but the initiated have little use 
for them. As Thomas a Kempis 'would rather feel compunc- 
tion than understand the definition thereof,' so the initiated 
man will say of the ' Grand Style,' for example ' Why define 
it for me?' When Viola says simply: 

I am all the daughters of my father's house, 
And all the brothers too, 

or Macbeth demands of the Doctor : 

Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased, 
Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow . . . ? 

214 Inaugural Lecture 

or Hamlet greets Ophelia, reading her Book of Hours, with 

Nymph, in thy orisons 
Be all my sins remembered! 

or when Milton tells of his dead friend how 

Together both, ere the high lawns appeared 
Under the opening eyelids of the morn, 
We drove afield, 

or describes the battalions of Heaven : 

On they move 

Indissolubly firm; nor obvious hill, 
Nor strait' ning vale, nor wood, nor stream divides 
Their perfect ranks, 

or when Gray exalts the great commonplace: 

The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power, 
And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave, 

Awaits alike th* inevitable hour. 

The paths of glory lead but to the grave, 

or when Keats casually drops us such a line as 

The journey homeward to habitual self, 

or, to come down to our own times and to a living poet, when 
I open on a page of William Watson and read : 

O ancient streams, O far descended woods, 
Full of the fluttering of melodious souls! . . . 

'why then (will say the initiated one), why worry me with any 
definition of the Grand Style in English, when here, and here, 
and again here in all these lines, simple or intense or exquisite 
or solemn I recognize and feel the thing? 9 

Indeed, Sir, the long and the short of the argument lie just 
here. Literature is not an abstract Science, to which exact 
definitions can be applied. It is an Art rather, the success of 
which depends on personal persuasiveness, on the author's skill 
to give as on ours to receive. 

(3) For our third principle I will ask you to go back with 

Inaugural Lecture 215 

me to Plato's wayfarers, whom we have left so long under the 
cypresses; and loth as we must be to lay hands on our father 
Parmenides, I feel we must treat the gifted Athenian stranger 
to a little manhandling. For did you not observe though 
Greek was a living language and to his metropolitan mind the 
only language how envious he showed himself to seal up 
the well, or allow it to trickle only under permit of a public 
analyst: to treat all innovation as suspect, even as, a hundred 
odd years ago, the Lyrical Ballads were suspect? 

But the very hope of this Chair, Sir (as I conceive it), relies 
on the courage of the young. As Literature is an Art and 
therefore not to be pondered only, but practised, so ours is a 
living language and therefore to be kept alive, supple, active in 
all honourable use. The orator can yet sway men, the poet 
ravish them, the dramatist fill their lungs with salutary laughter 
or purge their emotions by pity or terror. The historian 
'superinduces upon events the charm of order.' The novelist 
well, even the novelist has his uses; and I would warn you 
against despising any form of art which is alive and pliant in 
the hands of men. For my part, I believe, bearing in mind 
Mr. Barrie's Peter Pan and the old bottles he renovated to hold 
that joyous wine, that even Musical Comedy, in the hands of a 
master, might become a thing of beauty. Of the Novel, at any 
rate whether we like it or not we have to admit that it does 
hold a commanding position in the literature of our times, and 
to consider how far Mr. Lascelles Abercrombie was right the 
other day when he claimed, on the first page of his brilliant 
study of Thomas Hardy, that ' the right to such a position is 
not to be disputed ; for here, as elsewhere, the right to a position 
is no more than the power to maintain it.' You may agree 
with that or you may not; you may or may not deplore the 
forms that literature is choosing nowadays; but there is no 
gainsaying that it is still very much alive. And I would say 
to you, Gentlemen, 'Believe, and be glad that Literature and 
the English tongue are both alive.' Carlyle, in his explosive 

2 1 6 Inaugural Lecture 

way, once demanded of his countrymen, ' Shakespeare or India ? 
If you had to surrender one to retain the other, which would 
you choose?' Well, our Indian Empire is yet in the making, 
while the works of Shakespeare are complete and purchasable 
in whole calf; so the alternatives are scarcely in pan materia ; 
and moreover let us not be in a hurry to meet trouble half-way. 
But in English Literature, which, like India, is still in the 
making, you have at once an Empire and an emprise. In that 
alone you have inherited something greater than Sparta. Let 
us strive, each in his little way, to adorn it. 

But here at the close of my hour, the double argument, that 
Literature is an Art and English a living tongue, has led me 
right up to a fourth principle, the plunge into which (though I 
foresaw it from the first) all the coward in me rejoices at having 
to defer to another lecture. I conclude then, Gentlemen, by 
answering two suspicions, which very likely have been shaping 
themselves in your minds. In the first place, you will say, 'It 
is all very well for this man to talk about "cultivating an 
increased sensibility/' and the like; but we know what that 
leads to to quackery, to aesthetic chatter: "Isn't this pretty? 
Don't you admire that?'" Well, I am not greatly frightened. 
To begin with, when we come to particular criticism I shall 
endeavour to exchange it with you in plain terms; a manner 
which (to quote Mr. Robert Bridges' Essay on Keats) 'I prefer, 
because by obliging the lecturer to say definitely what he means, 
it makes his mistakes easy to point out, and in this way the 
true business of criticism is advanced.' But I have a second 
safeguard, more to be trusted : that here in Cambridge, with all 
her traditions of austere scholarship, any one who indulges 
in loose discinct talk will be quickly recalled to his tether. 
Though at the time Athene be not kind enough to descend 
from heaven and pluck him backward by the hair, yet the very 
genius loci will walk home with him from the lecture room, 
whispering monitions, cruel to be kind. 

'But/ you will say alternatively, 'if we avoid loose talk on 

Inaugural Lecture 217 

these matters we are embarking on a mighty difficult business.' 
Why, to be sure we are; and that, I hope, will be half the enjoy- 
ment. After all, we have a number of critics among whose 
methods we may search for help from the Persian monarch 
who, having to adjudicate upon two poems, caused the one 
to be read to him, and at once, without ado, awarded the prize 
to the other, up to the great Frenchman whom I shall finally 
invoke to sustain my hope of building something; that is if 
you, Gentlemen, will be content to accept me less as a Professor 
than as an Elder Brother. 

The Frenchman is Sainte-Beuve, and I pay a debt, perhaps 
appropriately here, by quoting him as translated by the friend 
of mine, now dead, who first invited me to Cambridge and 
taught me to admire her one Arthur John Butler, some time 
a Fellow of Trinity, and later a great pioneer among English- 
men in the study of Dante. Thus while you listen to the appeal 
of Sainte-Beuve, I can hear beneath it a more intimate voice, 
not for the first time encouraging me. 

Sainte-Beuve then si magna licet componere parvis is de- 
livering an Inaugural Lecture in the Ecole Normale, the date 
being April i2th, 1858. ' Gentlemen,' he begins, 'I have written 
a good deal in the last thirty years; that is, I have scattered 
myself about a good deal; so that I need to gather myself 
together, in order that my words may come before you with 
all the more freedom and confidence.' That is his opening; 
and he ends: 

As time goes on, you will make me believe that I can for my part 
be of some good to you : and with the generosity of your age you 
will repay me, in this feeling alone, far more than I shall be able to 
give you in intellectual direction, or in literary insight. If in one 
sense I bestow on you some of my experience, you will requite me, 
and in a more profitable manner, by the sight of your ardour for 
what is noble: you will accustom me to turn oftener and more 
willingly towards the future in your company. You will teach me 
again to hope. 


I HARDLY can bring myself to part with this story, it has 
been such a private joy to me. Moreover, that I have lain 
awake in the night to laugh over it is no guarantee of your being 
passably amused. Yourselves, I dare say, have known what it 
is to awake in irrepressible mirth from a dream which next 
morning proved to be flat and unconvincing. Well, this my 
pet story has some of the qualities of a dream; being absurd, for 
instance, and almost incredible, and even a trifle inhuman. After 

all, I had better change my mind, and tell you another 

But no; I will risk it, and you shall have it, just as it befel. 

I had taken an afternoon's holiday to make a pilgrimage : my 
goal being a small parish church that lies remote from the rail- 
way, five good miles from the tiniest of country stations ; my 
purpose to inspect or say, rather, to contemplate a Norman 
porch, for which it ought to be widely famous. (Here let me 
say that I have an unlearned passion for Norman architecture 
to enjoy it merely, not to write about it.) 

To carry me on my first stage I had taken a crawling local 
train that dodged its way somehow between the regular expresses 
and the 'excursions' that invade our Delectable Duchy from 
June to October. The season was high midsummer, the after- 
noon hot and drowsy with scents of mown hay ; and between 
the rattle of the fast trains it seemed that we, native denizens of 
the Duchy, careless of observation or applause, were executing 
a tour de force in that fine indolence which has been charged as 
a fault against us. That we halted at every station goes without 
saying. Few sidings however inconsiderable or, as it might 
seem, fortuitous escaped the flattery of our prolonged sojourn. 


Pipes in Arcady 219 

We ambled, we paused, almost we dallied with the butterflies 
lazily afloat over the meadow-sweet and cow-parsley beside the 
line; we exchanged gossip with station-masters, and received 
the congratulations of signalmen on the extraordinary spell of 
fine weather. It did not matter. Three market-women, a 
pedlar, and a local policeman made up with me the train's 
complement of passengers. I gathered that their business 
could wait ; and as for mine well, a Norman porch is by this 
time accustomed to waiting. 

I will not deny that in the end I dozed at intervals in my 
empty smoking compartment; but wish to make it clear that 
I came on the Vision (as I will call it) with eyes open, and that 
it left me staring, wide awake as Macbeth. 

Let me describe the scene. To the left of the line as you 
travel westward there lies a long grassy meadow on a gentle 
acclivity, set with three or four umbrageous oaks and backed 
by a steep plantation of oak saplings. At the foot of the 
meadow, close alongside the line, runs a brook, which is met 
at the meadow's end by a second brook which crosses under 
the permanent way through a culvert. The united waters con- 
tinue the course of the first brook, beside the line, and maybe 
for half a mile farther; but, a few yards below their junction, 
are partly dammed by the masonry of a bridge over which a 
country lane crosses the railway; and this obstacle spreads them 
into a pool some fifteen or twenty feet wide, overgrown with 
the leaves of the arrow-head, and fringed with water-flags and 
the flowering rush. 

Now I seldom pass this spot without sparing a glance for it; 
first because of the pool's still beauty, and secondly because 
many rabbits infest the meadow below the coppice, and among 
them for two or three years was a black fellow whom I took 
an idle delight in recognizing. (He is gone now, and his place 
knows him no more; yet I continue to hope for sight of a black 
rabbit just there.) But this afternoon I looked out with special 
interest because, happening to pass down the line two days 

22O Pipes in Arcady 

before, I had noted a gang of navvies at work on the culvert; 
and among them, as they stood aside to let the train pass, I 
had recognized my friend Joby Tucker, their ganger, and an 
excellent fellow to boot. 

Therefore my eyes were alert as we approached the curve 
that opens the meadow into view, and as I am a Christian 
man, living in the twentieth century I saw this Vision : I beheld 
beneath the shade of the midmost oak eight men sitting stark 
naked, whereof one blew on a flute, one played a concertina, 
and the rest beat their palms together, marking the time ; while 
before them, in couples on the sward, my gang of navvies 
rotated in a clumsy waltz watched by a ring of solemn ruminant 

I saw it. The whole scene, barring the concertina and the 
navvies' clothes, might have been transformed straight from a 
Greek vase of the best period. Here, in this green corner of 
rural England on a workaday afternoon (a Wednesday, to be 
precise), in full sunlight, I saw this company of the early gods 
sitting, naked and unabashed, and piping, while twelve British 
navvies danced to their music. ... I saw it; and a derisive 
whistle from the engine told me that driver and stoker saw it 
too. I was not dreaming, then. But what on earth could it 
mean? For fifteen seconds or so I stared at the Vision . . . 
and so the train joggled past it and rapt it from my eyes. 

I can understand now the ancient stories of men who, having 
by hap surprised the goddesses bathing, never recovered from 
the shock but thereafter ran wild in the woods with their 

At the next station I alighted. It chanced to be the station 
for which I had taken my ticket; but anyhow I should have 
alighted there. The spell of the vision was upon me. The 
Norman porch might wait. It is (as I have said) used to 
waiting, and in fact it has waited. I have not yet made another 
holiday to visit it. Whether or no the market-women and the 
local policeman had beheld, I know not. I hope not, but now 

Pipes in Arcady 221 

shall never know. . . . The engine-driver, leaning in converse 
with the station-master, and jerking a thumb backward, had 
certainly beheld. But I passed him with averted eyes, gave up 
my ticket, and struck straight across country for the spot. 

I came to it, as my watch told me, at twenty minutes after 
five. The afternoon sunlight still lay broad on the meadow. 
The place was unchanged save for a lengthening of its oak-tree 
shadows. But the persons of my Vision naked gods and 
navvies had vanished. Only the cattle stood, knee-deep in 
the pool, lazily swishing their tails in protest against the flies; 
and the cattle could tell me nothing. 

Just a fortnight later, as I spent at St. Blazey junction the forty 
odd minutes of repentance ever thoughtfully provided by our 
railway company for those who, living in Troy, are foolish 
enough to travel, I spied at some distance below the station a 
gang of men engaged in unloading rubble to construct a new 
siding for the clay-traffic, and at their head my friend Mr. Joby 
Tucker. The railway company was consuming so much of 
my time that I felt no qualms in returning some part of the 
compliment, and strolled down the line to wish Mr. Tucker 
good day. 'And, by the by,' I added, 'you owe me an explana- 
tion. What on earth were you doing in Treba meadow two 
Wednesdays ago you and your naked friends?' 

Joby leaned on his measuring rod and grinned from ear 
to ear. 

'You see'd us ? ' he asked, and, letting his eyes travel along the 
line, he chuckled to himself softly and at length. 'Well, now, 
I 'm glad o' that. 'Fact is, I 've been savin' up to tell 'ee about 
it, but (thinks I) when I tells Mr. Q. he won't never believe.' 

'I certainly saw you,' I answered; 'but as for believing * 

'Iss, iss,' he interrupted, with fresh chucklings; 'a fair knock- 
out, wasn' it? ... You see, they was blind poor fellas!' 


222 Pipes in Arcady 

'No, sir blind "pity the pore blind"; three-parts blind, 
anyways, an' undergoin' treatment for it/ 

'Nice sort of treatment!' 

'Eh? You don't understand. See'd us from the train, 
did'ee? Which train?' 

'The 1.35 ex Millbay.' 

' Wish I 'd a-knowed you was watchin' us. I 'd ha' waved 
my hat as you went by, or maybe blawed 'ee a kiss that bein' 
properer to the occasion, come to think.' 

Joby paused, drew the back of a hand across his laughter- 
moistened eyes, and pulled himself together, steadying his voice 
for the story. 

'I '11 tell 'ee what happened, from the beginnin'. A gang of 
us had been sent down, two days before, to Treba meadow, to 
repair the culvert there. Soon as we started work we found 
the whole masonry fairly rotten, and spent the first afternoon 
(that was Monday) underpinning while I traced out the extent 
o* the damage. The farther I went, the worse I found it; the 
main mischief bein' a leak about midway in the culvert, on the 
down side; whereby the water, perc'latin' through, was un- 
packin' the soil, not only behind the masonry of the culvert, 
but right away down for twenty yards and more behind the 
stone-facing where the line runs alongside the pool. All this 
we were forced to take down, shorein' as we went, till we cut 
back pretty close to the rails. The job, you see, had turned 
out more serious than reported ; and havin' no one to consult, 
I kept the men at it. 

' By Wednesday noon we had cut back so far as we needed, 
shorein' very careful as we went, and the men workin' away 
cheerful, with the footboards of the expresses whizzin' by close 
over their heads, so 's it felt like havin' your hair brushed by 
machinery. By the time we knocked off for dinner I felt 
pretty easy in mind, knowin' we 'd broke the back o' the job. 

Pipes in Arcady 223 

'Well, we touched pipe and started again. Bein' so close to 
the line I 'd posted a fella with a flag Bill Martin it was to 
keep a look out for the down- trains ; an' about three o'clock or 
a little after he whistled one comin'. I happened to be in the 
:ulvert at the time, but stepped out an' back across the brook, 
ust to fling an eye along the embankment to see that all was 
:lear. Clear it was, an' therefore it surprised me a bit, as the 
train hove in sight around the curve, to see that she had her 
brakes on, hard, and was slowin' down to stop. My first 
thought was that Bill Martin must have taken some scare an' 
showed her the red flag. But that was a mistake; besides she 
must have started the brakes before openin' sight on Bill.' 

'Then why on earth was she pulling up?' I asked. 'It 
:ouldn't be signals.' 

'There ain't no signal within a mile of Treba meadow, up 
Dr down. She was stoppin' because but just you let me tell 
it in my own way. Along she came, draggin' hard on her 
brakes an' whistlin'. I knew her for an excursion, and as 
she passed I sized it up for a big school-treat. There was five 
:oaches, mostly packed with children, an' on one o' the coaches 
was a board "Exeter to Penzance." The four front coaches 
bad corridors, the tail one just ord'nary compartments. 

'Well, she dragged past us to dead-slow, an' came to a 
standstill with her tail coach about thirty yards beyond where 
[ stood, and, as you might say, with its footboard right over- 
hangin' the pool. You mayn't remember it, but the line just 
there curves pretty sharp to the right, and when she pulled up, 
the tail coach pretty well hid the rest o' the train from us. Five 
or six men, hearin' the brakes, had followed me out of the 
culvert and stood by me, wonderin* why the stoppage was. 
The rest were dotted about along the slope of th' embankment. 
And then the curiousest thing happened about the curiousest 
thing I seen in all my years on the line. A door of die tail 
coach opened and a man stepped out. He didn't jump out, 
you understand, nor fling hisself out; he just stepped out into 

224 Pipes in Arcady 

air, and with that his arms and legs cast themselves anyways 
an* he went down sprawlin' into the pool. It 's easy to say 
we ought t' have run then an* there an* rescued him; but for 
the moment it stuck us up starin' an', Wait a bit! You han't 
heard the end. 

'I hadn't fairly caught my breath, before another man stepped 
out! He put his foot down upon nothing, same as the first, 
overbalanced just the same, and shot after him base-over-top 
into the water. 

* Close 'pon the second man's heels appeared a third. . . . 
Yes, sir, I know now what a woman feels like when she 's 
goin' to have the scritches. 1 I 'd have asked someone to pinch 
me in the fleshy part o' the leg, to make sure I was alive an' 
awake, but the power o' speech was taken from us. We just 
stuck an' stared. 

* What beat everything was the behaviour of the train, so to 
say. There it stood, like as if it 'd pulled up alongside the pool 
for the very purpose to unload these unfort'nit' men; an' yet 
takin' no notice whatever. Not a sign o' the guard not a 
head poked out anywheres in the line o' windows only the 
sun shinin', an' the steam escapin', an' out o' the rear com- 
partment this procession droppin' out an' high-divin' one after 

* Eight of 'em! Eight, as I am a truth-speakin' man but 
there ! you saw 'em with your own eyes. Eight ! and the last 
of the eight scarce in the water afore the engine toots her 
whistle an' the train starts on again, round the curve an' 
out o' sight. 

'She didn' leave us no time to doubt, neither, for there the 
poor fellas were, splashin' an* blowin', some of 'em bleatin' for 
help, an* gurglin', an* for aught we know drownin* in three- 
to-four feet o' water. So we pulled ourselves together an' ran 
to give 'em first aid. 

'It didn' take us long to haul the whole lot out and ashore; 
1 Hysterics. 

Pipes in Arcady 225 

and, as Providence would have it, not a bone broken in the 
party. One or two were sufferin* from sprains, and all of 'em 
from shock (but so were we, for that matter), and between 'em 
they must ha' swallowed a bra' few pints o' water, an' muddy 
water at that. I can't tell ezackly when or how we discovered 
they was all blind, or near-upon blind. It may ha* been from 
the unhandiness of their movements an* the way they clutched 
at us an' at one another as we pulled 'em ashore. Hows'ever, 
blind they were ; an' I don't remember that it struck us as any- 
ways singular, after what we 'd been through a'ready. We 
fished out a concertina, too, an' a silver-mounted flute that was 
bobbin* among the weeds. 

'The man die concertina belonged to a tall fresh-com- 
plexioned young fella he was, an' very mild of manner 
turned out to be a sort o' leader o' the party; an' he was the 
first to talk any sense. " Th-thank you,' he said. "They told 
us Penzance was the next stop." 

' "Hey? "says I. 

'"They told us," he says again, plaintive-like, feelin' for 
his spectacles an' not finding 'em, "that Penzance was the 
next stop." 

'"Bound for Penzance, was you?" I asks. 

"'For the Land's End," says he, his teeth chatterin'. I set 
it down the man had a stammer, but 'twas only the shock an' 
the chill of his duckin'. 

'"Well," says I, "this ain't the Land's End, though I dessay 
it feels a bit like it. Then you wasn' thrown out ? " I says. , 

"'Th-thrown out?" says he. "N-no. They told us 
Penzance was the next stop." 

'"Then," says I, "if you got out accidental you 've had a 
most providential escape, an' me an' my mates don't deserve 
less than to hear about it. There 's bound to be inquiries after 
you when the guard finds your compartment empty an' the 
door open. Maybe the train '11 put back; more likely they'll 
send a search-party; but anyways you 're all wet through, an* 

226 Pipes in Arcady 

the best thing for health is to off wi' your clothes an' dry 'em, 
this warm afternoon." 

'"I dessay," says he, "you'll have noticed that our eye- 
sight is affected." 

'"All the better if you 're anyways modest," says I. 'You 
couldn' find a retirededer place than this not if you searched : 
an' we don't mind." 

'Well, sir, the end was we stripped 'em naked as Adam, an' 
spread their clothes to dry 'pon the grass. While we tended 
on 'em the mild young man told us how it had happened. It 
seems they 'd come by excursion from Exeter. There 's a blind 
home at Exeter, an' likewise a cathedral choir, an' Sunday school, 
an' a boys' brigade, with other sundries; an' this year the good 
people financin' half a dozen o' these shows had discovered 
that by clubbin' two sixpences together a shillin' could be made 
to go as far as eighteenpence ; and how, doin' it on the co-op, 
instead of an afternoon treat for each, they could manage a two 
days' ourin' for all Exeter to Penzance an' the Land's End, 
sleepin' one night at Penzance, an' back to Exeter at some 
ungodly hour the next. It 's no use your askin' me why a man 
three-parts blind should want to visit the Land's End. There 's 
an attraction about that place, an* that 's all you can say. Every- 
body knows as 'tisn' worth seein', an' yet everybody wants to 
see it. So why not a blind man? 

'Well, this Happy Holiday Committee (as they called them- 
selves) got the Company to fix them up with a special excursion ; 
an' our blind friends bein' sensitive, or maybe a touch above 
mixin' wi' the school-children an' infants had packed them- 
selves into this rear compartment separate from the others. 
One of 'em had brought his concertina, an' another his flute, 
and what with these an' other ways of passin' the time they got 
along pretty comfortable till they came to Gwinear Road : an' 
there for some reason they were held up an' had to show their 
tickets. Anyways, the staff at Gwinear Road went along the 
train collectin* the halves o' their return tickets. "What 's the 

Pipes in Arcady 227 

name o' this station?" asks my blind friend, very mild an* 
polite. "Gwinear Road," answers the porter; "Penzance next 
stop." Somehow this gave him the notion that they were 
nearly arrived, an' so, you see, when the train slowed down a 
few minutes later an' came to a stop, he took the porter at 
his word, an' stepped out. Simple, wasn't it? But in my 
experience the curiousest things in life are the simplest of all, 
once you come to inquire into 'em.' 

'What I don't understand,' said I, 'is how the train came to 
stop just there.' 

Mr. Tucker gazed at me rather in sorrow than in anger. 
'I thought,' said he, "twas agreed I should tell the story in 
my own way. Well, as I was saying, we got those poor fellas 
there, all as naked as Adam, an' we was helpin' them all we 
could some of us wringin* out their underlinen an' spreading 
it to dry, others collectin* their hats, an' try in' which fitted 
which, an' others even dredgin' the pool for their handbags an' 
spectacles an' other small articles, an' in the middle of it some- 
one started to laugh. You '11 scarce believe it, but up to that 
moment there hadn't been so much as a smile to hand round; 
an' to this day I don't know the man's name that started it 
for all I can tell you, I did it myself. But this I do know, that 
it set off the whole gang like a motor-engine. There was a 
sort of "click," an' the next moment 

' Laugh ? I never heard men laugh like it in my born days. 
Sort of recoil, I s'pose it must ha' been, after the shock. 
Laugh ? There was men staggerin' drunk with it and there was 
men rollin' on the turf with it; an' there was men cryin' with it, 
holdin' on to a stitch in their sides an' beseechin' every one also 
to hold hard. The blind men took a bit longer to get going ; 
but by gosh, sir! once started they laughed to do your heart 
good. O Lord, O Lord! I wish you could ha' see that 
mild-mannered spokesman. Somebody had fished out his 
spectacles for 'en, and that was all the clothing he stood 
in that, an' a grin. He fairly beamed; an' the more he 

228 Pipes in Arcady 

beamed the more we rocked, callin' on 'en to take pity an* 
stop it. 

'Soon as I could catch a bit o* breath, "Land's End next 
stop!" gasped I. "O, but this is the Land's End! This is 
what the Land's End oughter been all the time, an' never was 
yet. O, for the Lord's sake," says I, "stop beamin', and pick 
up your concertina an' pitch us a tune!" 

'Well, he did too. He played us "Home, sweet home" first 
of all 'mid pleasures an' palaces an' the rest o' the young 
men sat around 'en an' started clappin' their hands to the tune ; 
an' then some fool slipped an arm round my waist. I 'm only 
thankful he didn't kiss me. Didn't think of it, perhaps; 
couldn't ha' been that he wasn't capable. It must ha' been 
just then your train came along. An' about twenty minutes 
later, when we was gettin' our friends back into their outfits, 
we heard the search-engine about half a mile below, whistlin' 
an' feelin' its way up very cautious towards us. 

'They was sun-dried an' jolly as sandhoppers all the eight 
of 'em as we helped 'em on board an' wished 'em ta-ta ! The 
search-party couldn' understand at all what had happened in 
so short a time, too to make us so cordial ; an' somehow we 
didn' explain neither we nor the blind men. I reckon the 
whole business had been so loonatic we felt it kind of holy. 
But the pore fellas kept wavin' back to us as they went out 
o' sight around the curve, an* maybe for a mile beyond. I 
never heard,' Mr. Tucker wound up meditatively, 'if they ever 
reached the Land's End. I wonder?' 

'But, excuse me once more,' said Ij, 'How came the train 
to stop as it did?' 

'To be sure. I. said just now that the curiousest things in 
life were, gen'rally speakin', the simplest. One o' the school- 
children in the fore part of the train a small nipper of nine 
had put his head out o' the carriage window and got his cap 
blown away. That 's all. Bein' a nipper of some resource, 
he wasted no time, but touched off the communicatin' button 

Pipes in Arcady 229 

an' fetched the whole train to a standstill. George Simmons, 
the guard, told me all about it last week, when I happened across 
him an* asked the same question you Ve been askin'. George 
was huntin' through the corridors to find out what had gone 
wrong ; that 's how the blind men stepped out without his 
noticin'. He pretended to be pretty angry wi' the young 
tacker. "Do 'ee know," says George, "it's a five-pound 
fine if you stop a train without good reason?" "But I had a 
good reason," says the child. "My mother gave 'levenpence 
for that cap, an' 'tis a bran' new one.'" 


I ASK leave this morning to interpose some words upon a kind 
of writing which, from a superficial likeness, commonly passes 
for prose in these days, and by lazy folk is commonly written 
for prose, yet actually is not prose at all ; my excuse being the 
simple practical one that, by first clearing this sham prose out 
of the way, we shall the better deal with honest prose when we 
come to it. The proper difficulties of prose will remain : but 
we shall be agreed in understanding what it is, or at any rate 
what it is not, that we talk about. I remember to have heard 
somewhere of a religious body in the United States of America 
which had reason to suspect one of its churches of accepting 
spiritual consolation from a coloured preacher an offence 
against the laws of the Synod and dispatched a Disciplinary 
Committee with power to act; and of the Committee's return- 
ing to report itself unable to take any action under its terms 
of reference, for that while a person undoubtedly coloured had 
undoubtedly occupied the pulpit and had audibly spoken from 
it in the Committee's presence, the performance could be brought 
within no definition of preaching known or discoverable. So 
it is with that infirmity of speech that flux, that determination 
of words to the mouth, or to the pen which, though it be 
familiar to you in parliamentary debates, in newspapers, and 
as the staple language of Blue Books, Committees, Official 
Reports, I take leave to introduce to you as prose which is not 
prose and under its real name of Jargon. 

*You must not confuse this Jargon with what is called 
Journalese. The two overlap, indeed, and have a knack of 
assimilating each other's vices. But Jargon finds, maybe, the 
most of its votaries among good douce people who have never 
written to or for a newspaper in their life, who would never 


Lecture on Jargon 23 1 

talk of 'adverse climatic conditions' when they mean 'bad 
weather'; who have never trifled with verbs such as 'obsess/ 
'recrudesce/ 'envisage/ 'adumbrate/ or with phrases such as 
'the psychological moment/ 'the true inwardness/ 'it gives 
furiously to think.' Jargon dallies with Latinity ' sub silentio/ 
'de die in diem/ 'cui bono?' (always in the sense, unsuspected 
by Cicero, of 'What is the profit?') but not for the sake of 
style. Your journalist at the worst is an artist in his way: he 
daubs paint of this kind upon the lily with a professional zeal ; 
the more flagrant (or, to use his own word, arresting) the pig- 
ment, the happier is his soul. Like the Babu he is trying all 
the while to embellish our poor language, to make it more 
floriferous, more poetical like the Babu for example who, 
reporting his mother's death, wrote, 'Regret to inform you, 
the hand that rocked the cradle has kicked the bucket.' 

There is metaphor: there is ornament: there is a sense of 
poetry, though as yet groping in a world unrealized. No such 
gusto marks no such zeal, artistic or professional, animates 
the practitioners of Jargon, who are, most of them (I repeat), 
douce respectable persons. Caution is its father: the instinct 
to save everything and especially trouble : its mother, Indolence. 
It looks precise, but is not. It is, in these times, safe : a thousand 
men have said it before and not one to your knowledge had been 
prosecuted for it. And so, like respectability in Chicago, 
Jargon stalks unchecked in our midst. It is becoming the 
language of Parliament: it has become the medium through 
which Boards of Government, County Councils, Syndicates, 
Committees, Commercial Firms, express the processes as well 
as the conclusions of their thought and so voice the reason of 
their being. 

Has a Minister to say 'No' in the House of Commons? 
Some men are constitutionally incapable of saying 'no': but 
the Minister conveys it thus 'The answer to the question is 
in the negative.' That means 'no.' Can you discover it to 
mean anything else, or anything more except that the speaker is 

232 Lecture on Jargon 

a pompous person? which was no part of the information 

That is Jargon, and it happens to be accurate. But as a rule 
Jargon is by no means accurate, its method being to walk 
circumspectly around its target; and its faith, that having 
done so it has either hit the bull's-eye or at least achieved 
something equivalent, and safer. 

Thus the Clerk of a Board of Guardians will minute that 

In the case of John Jenkins deceased, the coffin provided was of 
the usual character. 

Now this is not accurate. 'In the case of John Jenkins de- 
ceased/ for whom a coffin was supplied, it was wholly superfluous 
to tell us that he is deceased. But actually John Jenkins never 
had more than one case, and that was the coffin. The Clerk 
says he had two a coffin in a case: but I suspect the Clerk 
to be mistaken, and I am sure he errs in telling us that the 
coffin was of the usual character: for coffins have no character, 
usual or unusual. 

For another example (I shall not tell you whence derived) : 

In the case of every candidate who is placed in the first class 
[So you see the lucky fellow gets a case as well as a first class. He 
might be a stuffed animal: perhaps he is] the class-list will show by 
some convenient mark (i) the Section or Sections for proficiency 
in which he is placed in the first class and (2) the Section or Sections 
(if any) in which he has passed with special distinction. 

'The Section or Sections (if any)' But, how, if they are not 
any, could they be indicated by a mark however convenient? 

The Examiners will have regard to the style and method of the 
candidate's answers, and will give credit for excellence in these respects. 

Have you begun to detect the two main vices of Jargon ? The 
first is that it uses circumlocution rather than short straight 
speech. It says 'In the case of John Jenkins deceased, the 
coffin* when it means 'John Jenkins's coffin': and its yea is not 
yea, neither is its nay nay : but its answer is in the affirmative or 

Lecture on Jargon 233 

in the negative, as the foolish and superfluous 'case* may be. 
The second vice is that it habitually chooses vague woolly 
abstract nouns rather than concrete ones. I shall have some- 
thing to say by and by about the concrete noun, and how you 
should ever be struggling for it whether in prose or in verse. 
For the moment I content myself with advising you, if you 
would write masculine English, never to forget the old tag of 
your Latin Grammar: 

Masculine will only be 

Things that you can touch and see. 

But since these lectures are meant to be a course in First Aid 
to writing, I will content myself with one or two extremely 
rough rules: yet I shall be disappointed if you do not find them 

The first is : Whenever in your reading you come across one 
of these words, case, instance, character, nature, condition, 
persuasion, degree whenever in writing your pen betrays you 
to one or another of them pull yourself up and take thought. 
If it be 'case* (I choose it as Jargon's dearest child 'in Heaven 
yclept Metonymy') turn to the dictionary, if you will, and 
seek out what meaning can be derived from casus, its Latin 
ancestor: then try how, with a little trouble, you can extricate 
yourself from that case. 

Here are some specimens to try your hand on : 

(1) All those tears which inundated Lord Hugh Cecil's head were 
dry in the case of Mr. Harold Cox. 

Poor Mr. Cox! left gasping in his aquarium! 

(2) [From a cigar-merchant] In any case, let us send you a case 
on approval. 

(3) It is contended that Consols have fallen in consequence: but 
such is by no means the case. 

'Such? by the way, is another spoilt child of Jargon, especially 
in Committee's Rules 'Co-opted members may be eligible 

234 Lecture on Jargon 

as such; such members to continue to serve for such time as* 
and so on. 

(4) Even in the purely Celtic areas, only in two or three cases do 
the Bishops bear Celtic names. 

For * cases' read * dioceses.' 

Instance. In most instances the players were below their form. 

But what were they playing at? Instances?' 

Character Nature. There can be no doubt that the accident was 
caused through the dangerous nature of the spot, the hidden character 
of the by-road, and the utter absence of any warning or danger 

Mark the foggy wording of it all! And yet the man hit 
something and broke his neck! Contrast that explanation 
with the verdict of a coroner's jury in the west of England 
on a drowned postman 'We find that deceased met his death 
by an act of God, caused by sudden overflowing of the river 
Walkham and helped out by the scandalous neglect of the 
way- wardens.' 

The Aintree course is notoriously of a trying nature. 

On account of its light character, purity and age, Usher's whisky 
is a whisky that will agree with you. 

Order. The mesalliance was of a pronounced order. 

Condition. He was conveyed to his place of residence in an 
intoxicated condition. 

'He was carried home drunk.' 

Quality and Section. Mr. , exhibiting no less than five works, 

all of a superior quality, figures prominently in the oil section. 

This was written of an exhibition of pictures. 

Degree. A singular degree of rarity prevails in the earlier editions 
of this romance. 

That is Jargon. In prose it runs simply 'The earlier editions 
of this romance are rare' or 'are very rare' or even (if you 

Lecture on Jargon 23 5 

believe what I take to doubt) 'are singularly rare'; which 
should mean that they are rarer than the editions of any other 
work in the world. 

Now what I ask you to consider about these quotations is 
that in each the writer was using Jargon to shirk prose, palming 
off periphrases upon us when with a little trouble he could 
have gone straight to the point. 'A singular degree of rarity 
prevails/ 'the accident was caused through the dangerous 
nature of the spot/ 'but such is by no means the case.' We 
may not be capable of much ; but we can all write better than 
that, if we take a little trouble. In place of, 'the Aintree course 
is of a trying nature' we can surely say 'Aintree is a trying 
course' or 'the Aintree course is a trying one' just that and 
nothing more. 

Next, having trained yourself to keep a look out for these 
worst offenders (and you will be surprised to find how quickly 
you get into the way of it), proceed to push your suspicions out 
among the whole cloudy host of abstract terms. ' How excellent 
a thing is sleep,' sighed Sancho Panza; 'it wraps a man round 
like a cloak' an excellent example, by the way, of how to say 
a thing concretely: a Jargoneer would have said that 'among 
the beneficent qualities of sleep its capacity for withdrawing the 
human consciousness from the contemplation of immediate 
circumstances may perhaps be accounted not the least re- 
markable.' How vile a thing shall we say? is the abstract 
noun! It wraps a man's thoughts round like cotton wool. 

Here is a pretty little nest of specimens, found in The Times 
newspaper by Messrs. H. W. and E. G. Fowler, authors of 
that capital little book The King's English : 

One of the most important reforms mentioned in the rescript is 
the unification of the organization of judicial institutions and the 
guarantee for all the tribunals of the independence necessary for 
securing to all classes of the community equality before the law. 

I do not dwell on the cacophony; but, to convey a straight- 

236 Lecture on Jargon 

forward piece of news, might not the Editor of The Times as 
well employ a man to write: 

One of the most important reforms is that of the Courts, which 
need a uniform system and to be made independent. In this way 
only can men be assured that all are equal before the law. 

I think he might. 

A day or two ago the musical critic of the Standard wrote this : 


Mr. Frederick Lamond, the Scottish pianist, as an interpreter of 
Beethoven has few rivals. At his second recital of the composer's 
works at Bechstein Hall on Saturday afternoon he again displayed 
a complete sympathy and understanding of his material that ex- 
tracted the very essence of aesthetic and musical value from each 
selection he undertook. The delightful intimacy of his playing and 
his unusual force of individual expression are invaluable assets, 
which, allied to his technical brilliancy, enable him to achieve an 
artistic triumph. The two lengthy Variations in E flat major (Op. 3 5) 
and in D major, the latter on the Turkish March from 'The Ruins of 
Athens,' when included in the same programme, require a master 
hand to provide continuity of interest. To say that Mr. Lamond 
successfully avoided moments that might at times, in these works, have 
inclined to comparative disinterestedness, would be but a moderate way 
of expressing the remarkable fascination with which his versatile playing 
endowed them, but at the same time two of the sonatas given included 
a similar form of composition, and no matter how intellectually 
brilliant may be the interpretation, the extravagant use of a certain 
mode is bound in time to become somewhat ineffective. In the 
Three Sonatas, the E major (Op. 109), the A major (Op. 2, No. 2), 
and the C major (Op. in), Mr. Lamond signalized his perfect insight 
into the composer's varying moods. 

Will you not agree with me that here is no writing, here is no 
prose, here is not even English, but merely a flux of words to 
thp pen ? 

Here again is a string, a concatenation say, rather, a tiara 

Lecture on Jargon 237 

of gems of purest ray serene from the dark unfathomed caves 
of a. Scottish newspaper: 

The Chinese viewpoint, as indicated in this letter, may not be 
without interest to your readers, because it evidently is suggestive 
of more than an academic attempt to explain an unpleasant aspect 
of things which, if allowed to materialize, might suddenly culminate 
in disaster resembling the Chang-Sha riots. It also ventures to 
illustrate incidents having their inception in recent premature en- 
deavours to accelerate the development of Protestant missions in 
China; but we would hope for the sake of the interests involved that 
what my correspondent describes as 'the irresponsible ruffian element* 
may be known by their various religious designations only within 
very restricted areas. 

Well, the Chinese have given it up, poor fellows! and are asking 
the Christians as to-day's newspapers inform us to pray 
for them. Do you wonder ? But that is, or was, the Chinese 
'viewpoint* and what a willow-pattern viewpoint! Observe 
its delicacy. It does not venture to interest or be interesting; 
merely to be 'not without interest.' But it does 'venture to 
illustrate incidents' which, for a viewpoint, is brave enough: 
and this illustration 'is suggestive of more than an academic 
attempt to explain an unpleasant aspect of things which, if 
allowed to materialize, might suddenly culminate.* What 
materializes? The unpleasant aspect? or the things? Gram- 
mar says the 'things,* 'things which if allowed to materialize.' 
But things are materialized already, and as a condition of their 
being things. It must be the aspect then, that materializes. 
But, if so, it is also the aspect that culminates, and an aspect, 
however unpleasant, can hardly do that, or at worst cannot culmi- 
nate in anything resembling the Chang-Sha riots. ... I give it up. 
Let us turn to another trick of Jargon : the trick of Elegant 
Variation, so rampant in the Sporting Press that there, without 
needing to attend these lectures, the undergraduate detects it 
for laughter: 

Hayward and C. B. Fry now faced the bowling, which appaiently 

238 Lecture on Jargon 

had no terrors for the Surrey crack. The old Oxonian, however, 
took some time in settling to work. . . . 

Yes, you all recognize it and laugh at it. But why do you 
practise it in your essays? An undergraduate brings me an 
essay on Byron. In an essay on Byron I expect, nay exact, that 
Byron shall be mentioned again and again. But my under- 
graduate has a blushing sense that to call Byron Byron twice on 
one page is indelicate. So Byron, after starting bravely as 
Byron, in the second sentence turns into ' that great but unequal 
poet' and thenceforward I have as much trouble with Byron as 
ever Telemachus with Proteus to hold and pin him back to his 
proper self. Half-way down the page he becomes 'the gloomy 
master of Newstead': overleaf he is reincarnated into 'the 
meteoric darling of society' : and so proceeds through successive 
avatars 'this arch-rebel,' 'the author of Childe Harold? 'the 
apostle of scorn/ 'the ex-Harrovian, proud, but abnormally 
sensitive of his club-foot,' 'the martyr of Missolonghi,' 'the 
pageant-monger of a bleeding heart.' Now this again is 
Jargon. It does not, as most Jargon does, come of lazi- 
ness; but it comes of timidity, which is worse. In litera- 
ture as in life he makes himself felt who not only calls 
a spade a spade but has the pluck to double spades and 

For another rule just as rough and ready, but just as useful: 
Train your suspicions to bristle up whenever you come upon 
'as regards,' 'with regard to,' 'in respect of,' 'in connection 
with,' 'according as to whether,' and the like. They are all 
dodges of Jargon, circumlocutions for evading this or that 
simple statement : and I say that it is not enough to avoid them 
nine times out often, or nine-and-ninety times out of a hundred. 
You should never use them. Though I cannot admire his 
style, I admire the man who wrote to me, ' Re Tennyson your 
remarks anent his In Memoriam make me sick': for though re 
is not a preposition of the first water, and 'anent' has enjoyed 

Lecture on Jargon 239 

its day, the finish crowned the work. But here are a few 
specimens far, very far, worse: 

The special difficulty in Professor Minocelsi's case [our old friend 
'case* again] arose in connection with the view he holds relative to 
the historical value of the opening pages of Genesis. 

That is Jargon. In prose, even taking the miserable sentence 
as it stands constructed, we should write 'the difficulty arose 
over the view he holds about the historical value,' etc. 
From a popular novelist : 

I was entirely indifferent as to the results of the game, caring 
nothing at all as to whether / had losses or gains 

Cut out the first 'as* in 'as to,' and the second 'as to' altogether, 
and the sentence begins to be prose 'I was entirely indifferent 
to the results of the game, caring nothing at all whether I had 
losses or gains.' 

But why, like Dogberry, have ' had losses ' ? Why not simply 
'lose.' Let us try again. 'I was entirely indifferent to the 
results of the game, caring nothing at all whether I won 
or lost.' 

Still the sentence remains absurd : for the second clause but 
repeats the first without adding one jot. For if you care not 
at all whether you win or lose, you must be entirely indifferent 
to the results of the game. So why not say 'I was careless if 
I won or lost,' and have done with it? 

A man of simple and charming character, he was fitly associated 
with the distinction of the Order of Merit. 

I take this gem with some others from a collection made three 
years ago, by the Oxford Magazine ; and I hope you admire it 
as one beyond price. 'He was associated with the distinction 
of the Order of Merit' means 'he was given the Order of Merit.' 
If the members of that Order make a society then he was 
associated with them; but you cannot associate a man with a 

240 Lecture on Jargon 

distinction. The inventor of such fine writing would doubtless 
have answered Canning's Needy Knife-grinder with : 

I associate thee with sixpence ! I will see thee in another association 

But let us close our florileglum and attempt to illustrate Jargon 
by the converse method of taking a famous piece of English 
(say Hamlet's soliloquy) and remoulding a few lines of it in 
this fashion: 

To be, or the contrary? Whether the former or the latter be 
preferable would seem to admit of some difference of opinion ; the 
answer in the present case being of an affirmative or of a negative 
character according as to whether one elects on the one hand to 
mentally suffer the disfavour of fortune, albeit in an extreme degree, 
or on the other to boldly envisage adverse conditions in the prospect 
of eventually bringing them to a conclusion. The condition of sleep 
is similar to, if not indistinguishable from, that of death ; and with 
the addition of finality the former might be considered identical with 
the latter : so that in this connection it might be argued with regard 
to sleep that, could the addition be effected, a termination would be 
put to the endurance of a multiplicity of inconveniences, not to men- 
tion a number of downright evils incidental to our fallen humanity, 
and thus a consummation achieved of a most gratifying nature. 

That is Jargon : and to write Jargon is to be perpetually shuffling 
around in the fog and cotton-wool of abstract terms ; to be for 
ever hearkening, like Ibsen's Peer Gynt, to the voice of the 
Boyg exhorting you to circumvent the difficulty, to beat the 
air because it is easier than to flesh your sword in the tiling. 
The first virtue, the touchstone of a masculine style, is its use 
of the active verb and the concrete noun. When you write 
in the active voice, 'They gave him a silver teapot/ you write 
as a man. When you write 'He was made the recipient of a 
silver teapot/ you write Jargon. But at the beginning set even 
higher store on the concrete noun. Somebody I think it was 
FitzGerald once posited the question 'What would have be- 
come of Christianity if Jeremy Bentham had had the writing 

Lecture on Jargon 241 

of the Parables?' Without pursuing that dreadful inquiry I 
ask you to note how carefully the Parables those exquisite 
short stories speak only of * things which you can touch and 
see* 'A sower went forth to sow/ 'The kingdom of heaven 
is like unto leaven, which a woman took' and not the Parables 
only, but the Sermon on the Mount and almost every verse of 
the Gospel. The Gospel does not, like my young essayist, fear 
to repeat a word, if the word be good. The Gospel says, 
'Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's' not 'Render 
unto Caesar the things that appertain to that potentate.' 
The Gospel does not say 'Consider the growth of the lilies/ 
or even ' Consider how the lilies grow.' It says, ' Consider the 
lilies, how they grow.' 

Or take Shakespeare. I wager you that no writer of English 
so constantly chooses the concrete word, in phrase after phrase 
forcing you to touch and see. No writer so insistently teaches 
the general through the particular. He does it even in Venus 
and Adonis (as Professor Wendell, of Harvard, pointed out in 
a brilliant little monograph on Shakespeare, published some 
few years ago). Read any page of Venus and Adonis side by 
side with any page of Marlowe's Hero and Leander, and you 
cannot but mark the contrast: in Shakespeare the definite, 
particular, visualized image, in Marlowe the beautiful generali- 
zation, the abstract term, the thing seen at a literary remove. 
Take the two openings, both of which start out with the sun- 
rise. Marlowe begins: 

Now had the Morn espied her lover's steeds : 
Whereat she starts, puts on her purple weeds, 
And, red for anger that he stay'd so long, 
All headlong throws herself the clouds among, 

Shakespeare wastes no words on Aurora and her feelings, but 
gets to his hero and to business without ado : 

Even as the sun with purple-colour'd face 
(You have the sun visualized at once), 

242 Lecture on Jargon 

Even as the sun with purple-colour'd face 
Had ta'en his last leave of the weeping morn, 
Rose-cheek'd Adonis hied him to the chase; 
Hunting he loved, but love he laugh* d to scorn. 

When Shakespeare has to describe a horse, mark how definite 
he is : 

Round-hoof d, short- join ted, fetlocks shag and long, 
Broad breast, full eye, small head and nostril wide, 
High crest, short ears, straight legs and passing strong ; 
Thin mane, thick tail, broad buttock, tender hide. 

Or again, in a casual simile, how definite : 

Upon this promise did he raise his chin, 
Like a dive-dipper peering through a wave, 
Which, being look'd on, ducks as quickly in. 

Or take, if you will, Marlowe's description of Hero's first 
meeting with Leander : 

It lies not in our power to love or hate, 
For will in us is over-ruled by fate . . ., 

and set against it Shakespeare's description of Venus' last 
meeting with Adonis, as she came on him lying in his blood: 

Or as the snail whose tender horns being hit 
Shrinks backward in his shelly cave with pain, 
And there all smother'd up in shade doth sit, 
Long after fearing to creep forth again, 
So, at his bloody view 

I do not deny Marlowe's lines (if you will study the whole 
passage) to be lovely. You may even judge Shakespeare's to 
be crude by comparison. But you cannot help noting that 
whereas Marlowe steadily deals in abstract, nebulous terms, 
Shakespeare constantly uses concrete ones, which later on he 
learned to pack into such verse as : 

Sleep that knits up the ravell'd sleeve of care. 

Is it unfair to instance Marlowe, who died young? Then 
let us take Webster for the comparison; Webster, a man of 

Lecture on Jargon 243 

genius or of something very like it, and commonly praised by 
the critics for his mastery over definite, detailed, and what I may 
call solidified sensation. Let us take this admired passage from 
his Duchess of Malfi: 

Ferdinand. How doth our sister Duchess bear herself 
In her imprisonment? 

Bosola. Nobly : I '11 describe her. 

She 's sad as one long used to 't, and she seems 
Rather to welcome the end of misery 
Than shun it : a behaviour so noble 
As gives a majesty to adversity. 1 
You may discern the shape of loveliness 
More perfect in her tears than in her smiles; 
She will muse for hours together ; 2 and her silence 
Methinks expresseth more than if she spake. 

Now set against this the well-known passage from Twelfth 
Night where the Duke asks and Viola answers a question 
about someone unknown to him and invented by her a 
mere phantasm, in short: yet note how much more definite 
is the language: 

Viola. My father had a daughter lov'd a man ; 

As it might be, perhaps, were I a woman, 
/ should your lordship. 

Duke. And what 's her history ? 

Viola. A blank, my lord. She never told her love, 
But let concealment, like a worm i' the bud, 
Feed on her damask cheek; she pined in thought, 
And with a green and yellow melancholy 
She sat like Patience on a monument 
Smiling at grief. Was not this love indeed ? 

Observe (apart from the dramatic skill of it) how, when 
Shakespeare has to use the abstract noun 'concealment,' on 
an instant it turns into a visible worm 'feeding* on the visible 

1 Note the abstract terms. 

1 Here we first come on the concrete : and beautiful it is. 

244 Lecture on Jargon 

rose; how, having to use a second abstract word 'patience/ at 
once he solidifies it in tangible stone. 

Turning to prose, you may easily assure yourselves that men 
who have written learnedly on the art agree in treating our 
maxim to prefer the concrete term to the abstract, the parti- 
cular to the general, the definite to the vague as a canon of 
rhetoric. Whately has much to say on it. The late Mr. E. J. 
Payne, in one of his admirable prefaces to Burke (prefaces too 
little known and valued, as too often happens to scholarship 
hidden away in a schoolbook), illustrated the maxim by setting 
a passage from Burke's speech On Conciliation with America 
alongside a passage of like purport from Lord Brougham's 
Inquiry into the Policy of the European Powers. Here is the 
deadly parallel : 


In large bodies the circulation 
of power must be less vigorous at 
the extremities. Nature has said 
it. The Turk cannot govern 
./Egypt and Arabia and Curdistan 
as he governs Thrace; nor has he 
the same dominion in Crimea 
and Algiers which he has at Brusa 
and Smyrna. Despotism itself 
is obliged to truck and huckster. 
The Sultan gets such obedience 
as he can. He governs with a 
loose rein, that he may govern at 
all; and the whole of the force 
and vigour of his authority in his 
centre is derived from a prudent 
relaxation in all his borders. 

You perceive that Brougham has transferred Burke's thought 
to his own page; but will you not also perceive how pitiably, 


In all the despotisms of the 
East, it has been observed that 
the farther any part of the 
empire is removed from the 
capital, the more do its inhabi- 
tants enjoy some sort of rights 
and privileges: the more in- 
efficacious is the power of the 
monarch; and the more feeble 
and easily decayed is the or- 
ganization of the government. 

Lecture on Jargon 245 

by dissolving Burke's vivid particulars into smooth generalities, 
he has enervated its hold on the mind? 

'This particularizing style/ comments Mr. Payne, 'is the 
essence of Poetry; and in Prose it is impossible not to be struck 
with the energy it produces. Brougham's passage is excellent 
in its way: but it pales before the flashing lights of Burke's 
sentences/ The best instances of this energy of style, he adds, 
are to be found in the classical writers of the seventeenth 
century. 'When South says, "An Aristotle was but the 
rubbish of an Adam, and Athens but the rudiments of Para- 
dise," he communicates more effectually the notion of the 
difference between the intellect of fallen and of unfallen humanity 
than in all the philosophy of his sermons put together.' 

You may agree with me, or you may not, that South in this 
passage is expounding a fallacy; but you will agree with Mr. 
Payne and me that he utters it vividly. 

Let me quote to you, as a final example of this vivid style of 
writing, a passage from Dr. John Donne far beyond and above 
anything that ever lay within South's compass: 

The ashes of an Oak in the Chimney are no epitaph of that Oak, 
to tell me how high or how large that was; it tells me not what 
flocks it sheltered while it stood, nor what men it hurt when it fell. 
The dust of great persons' graves is speechless, too ; it says nothing, 
it distinguishes nothing. As soon the dust of a wretch whom thou 
wouldest not, as of a prince whom thou couldest not look upon will 
trouble thine eyes if the wind blow it thither ; and when a whirlewind 
hath blown the dust of the Churchyard into the Church, and the man 
sweeps out the dust of the Church into the Churchyard, who will 
undertake to sift those dusts again and to pronounce, This is the 
Patrician, this is the noble flowre [flour], and this the yeomanly, this 
die Plebeian bran ? So is the death of lesabel (lesabel was a Queen) 
expressed. They shall not say This is lesabel; not only not wonder 
that it is, nor pity that it should be; but they shall not say, they shall 
not know, This is lesabel. 

Carlyle noted of Goethe 'his emblematic intellect, his never- 
failing tendency to transform into shape, into life, the feeling 

246 Lecture on Jargon 

that may dwell in him. Everything has form, has visual 
excellence: the poet's imagination bodies forth the forms of 
things unseen, and his pen turns them into shape.' 

Consider this, Gentlemen, and maybe you will not hereafter 
set it down to my reproach that I wasted an hour of a May 
morning in a denunciation of Jargon, and in exhorting you 
upon a technical matter at first sight so trivial as the choice 
between abstract and definite words. 

A lesson about writing your language may go deeper than 
language ; for language (as in a former lecture I tried to preach 
to you) is your reason, your Aoyoj. So long as you prefer 
abstract words, which express other men's summarized con- 
cepts of things, to concrete ones which lie as near as can be 
reached to things themselves and are the first-hand material 
for your thoughts, you will remain, at the best, writers at 
second hand. If your language be Jargon, your intellect, if 
not your whole character, will almost certainly correspond. 
Where your mind should go straight, it will dodge: the diffi- 
culties it should approach with a fair front and grip with a firm 
hand it will be seeking to evade or circumvent. For the Style 
is the Man, and where a man's treasure is there his heart, and 
his brain, and his writing, will be also. 


THE night-porter at the Admiralty had been sleeping in his 
chair. He was red-eyed and wore his livery coat buttoned 
at random. He grumbled to himself as he opened the great 

He carried a glass-screened candle, and held it somewhat 
above the level of his forehead which was protuberant and 
heavily pock-marked. Under the light he peered out at the 
visitor, who stood tall and stiff, with uniform overcoat buttoned 
to the chin, between the Ionic pillars of the portico. 

'Who's there?' 

'Lieutenant Lapenotiere, of the Pickle schooner with 

'Dispatches?' echoed the night-porter. Out beyond the 
screen of masonry that shut off the Board of Admiralty's fore- 
court from Whitehall, one of the tired post-horses started 
blowing through its nostrils on this foggy night. 

' From Admiral Collingwood Mediterranean Fleet off Cadiz 
sixteen days,' answered the visitor curtly. 'Is every one 

'Admiral Collingwood? Why Admiral Collingwood?' The 
night-porter fell back a pace, opening the door a trifle wider. 
'Good God, sir! You don't say as how ' 

'You can fetch down a Secretary or someone, I hope?' said 
Lieutenant Lapenotiere, quickly stepping past him into the long 
dim hall. ' My dispatches are of the first importance. I have 
posted up from Falmouth without halt but for relays.' 

As the man closed the door, he heard his post-boy of the 
last relay slap one of the horses encouragingly before heading 
home to stable. The chaise wheels began to move on the 


248 Lieutenant Lapenottire 

'His Lordship himself will see you, sir. Of that I make no 
doubt/ twittered the night-porter, fumbling with the bolt. 
* There was a terrible disturbance, back in July, when Captain 
Bettesworth arrived not so late as this, to be sure, but towards 
midnight and they waited till morning, to carry up the dis- 
patches with his Lordship's chocolate. Thankful was I next 
day not to have been on duty at the time. ... If you will 
follow me, sir ' 

Lieutenant Lapenottere had turned instinctively towards a 
door on the right. It admitted to the Waiting Room, and there 
were few officers in the service who did not know and only 
too well that Chamber of Hope Deferred. 

'No, sir ... this way, if you please,' the night-porter 
corrected him, and opened a door on the left. 'The Captains' 
Room,' he announced, passing in and steering for the chimney- 
shelf, on which stood a pair of silver sconces each carrying three 
wax candles. These he took down, lit and replaced. 'Ah, 
sir! Many 's the time I 've showed Lord Nelson himself into 
this room, in the days when he was Sir Horatio, and even after. 
And you were sayin' ' 

'I said nothing.' 

The man moved to the door ; but halted there and came back, 
as though in his own despite. 

'I can't help it, sir. . . . Half a guinea he used to give me, 
regular. But the last time and hard to believe 'twas little 
more than a month ago he halts on his way out, and says he, 
searchin' awkward-like in his breeches' pocket with his left 
hand, "Ned," says he, "my old friend" aye, sir, his old friend 
he called me "Ned," says he, pulling out a handful o' gold, 
"my old friend," says he, "I'll compound with you for two 
guineas, this bein' the last time you may hold the door open 
for me, in or out. But you must pick 'em out," says he, 
spreadin' his blessed fingers with the gold in 'em: "for a man 
can't count money who 's lost his right flapper." Those were 
his words, sir. " Old friend," he called me, in that way of his.' 

Lieutenant Lapenotiere 249 

Lieutenant Lapenotiere pointed to his left arm. Around the 
sleeve a black scarf was knotted. 

'Dead, sir?' The night-porter hushed his voice. 

'Dead,' echoed Lieutenant Lapenotiere, staring at the Turkey 
carpet, of which the six candles, gaining strength, barely illu- 
mined the pattern. 'Dead, at the top of victory; a great 
victory. Go: fetch somebody down.' 

The night-porter shuffled off. Lieutenant Lapenotiere, erect 
and sombre, cast a look around the apartment, into which he had 
never before been admitted. The candles lit up a large painting 
a queer bird's-eye view of Venice. Other pictures, dark and 
bituminous, decorated the panelled walls portraits of dead 
admirals, a sea-piece or two, some charts. . . . This was all he 
discerned out in the dim light; and in fact he scanned the walls, 
the furniture of the room, inattentively. His stomach was 
fasting, his head light with rapid travel; above all, he had a 
sense of wonder that all this should be happening to him. For, 
albeit a distinguished officer, he was a modest man, and by 
habit considered himself of no great importance. Albeit a 
brave man, too, he shrank at the thought of the message he 
carried a message to explode and shake millions of men in a 
confusion of wild joy or grief. 

For about the tenth time in those sixteen days it seemed to 
burst and escape in an actual detonation, splitting his head 
there, as he waited in the strange room where never a curtain 
stirred. ... It was a trick his brain played him, repeating, 
echoing the awful explosion of the French seventy-four Achille^ 
which had blown up towards the close of the battle. When 
the ship was ablaze and sinking, his own crew had put off in 
boats to rescue the Frenchmen, at close risk of their own lives, 
for her loaded guns, as they grew red hot, went off at random 
among rescuers and rescued. . . . 

As had happened before when he felt this queer shock, his 
mind travelled back and he seemed to hear the series of dis- 
charges running up at short intervals to the great catastrophe. 

250 Lieutenant Lapenoti&re 

... To divert his thoughts, he turned to study the view of 
Venice above the chimneypiece . . . and on a sudden faced 
about again. 

He had a sensation that someone was in the room someone 
standing close behind him. 

But no. ... For the briefest instant his eyes rested on 
an indistinct shadow his own perhaps, cast by the candle- 
light? Yet why should it lie lengthwise there, shaped like 
a coffin, on the dark polished table that occupied the middle 
of the room? 

The answer was that it did not. Before he could rub his 
eyes it had gone. Moreover, he had turned to recognize a 
living being . . . and no living person was in the room, unless 
by chance (absurd supposition) one were hidden behind the 
dark red window curtains. 

'Recognize' may seem a strange word to use; but here had 
lain the strangeness of the sensation that the someone standing 
there was a friend, waiting to be greeted. It was with eagerness 
and a curious warmth of the heart that Lieutenant Lapenotire 
had faced about upon nothing. 

He continued to stare in a puzzled way at the window curtains, 
when a voice by the door said : 

'Good evening! or perhaps, to be correct, good morning! 
You are Mr. ' 

'Lapenottere,' answered the Lieutenant, who had turned 
sharply. The voice a gentleman's and pleasantly modulated 
was not one he knew; nor did he recognize the speaker a 
youngish, shrewd-looking man, dressed in civilian black, with 
knee-breeches. 'Lapenottere of the Pickle schooner.' 

'Yes, yes the porter bungled your name badly, but I 
guessed. Lord Barham will see you personally. He is, in 
fact, dressing with all haste at this moment. ... I am his 
private secretary,' explained the shrewd-looking gentleman in 
his quiet, business-like voice. 'Will you come with me 

Lieutenant Lapenottire 25 1 

Lieutenant Lapenoti&re followed him. At the foot of the 
great staircase the Secretary turned. 

'I may take it, sir, that we are not lightly disturbing his 
Lordship who is an old man.' 

' The news is of great moment, sir. Greater could scarcely be/ 

The Secretary bent his head. As they went up the staircase 
Lieutenant Lapenotiere looked back and caught sight of the 
night-porter in the middle of the hall, planted there and gazing 
up, following their ascent. 

On the first-floor landing they were met by a truly ridiculous 
spectacle. There emerged from a doorway on the left of the 
wide corridor an old gentleman clad in night-cap, night-shirt, 
and bedroom slippers, buttoning his breeches and cursing 
vigorously ; while close upon him followed a valet with dressing- 
gown on one arm, waistcoat and wig on the other, vainly 
striving to keep pace with his master's impatience. 

'The braces, my lord your Lordship has them fore-part 
behind, if I may suggest ' 

' Damn the braces ! ' swore the old gentleman. ' Where is he ? 
Hi, Tylney!' as he caught sight of the Secretary. * Where are 
we to go? My room, I suppose?* 

'The fire is out there, my lord. . . . 'Tis past three in the 
morning. But after sending word to awake you, I hunted 
round and by good luck found a plenty of promising embers 
in the Board Room grate. On top of these I 've piled 
what remained of my own fire, and Dobson has set a lamp 

'You 've been devilish quick, Tylney. Dressed like a buck 
you are, too!' 

'Your Lordship's wig,' suggested the valet. 

'Damn the wig!' Lord Barham snatched it and attempted 
to stick it on top of his night-cap, damned the night-cap, and, 
plucking it off, flung it to the man. 

'I happened to be sitting up late, my lord, over the Aeolus 
papers/ said Mr. Secretary Tylney. 

252, Lieutenant Lapenoti&re 

'Ha?' Then, to the valet: 'The dressing-gown there! 
Don't fumble! ... So this is Captain ' 

'Lieutenant, sir: Lapenotire, commanding the Pickle 

The Lieutenant saluted. 

'From the Fleet, my lord off Cadiz; or rather, off Cape 

He drew the sealed dispatch from an inner breast-pocket and 
handed it to the First Lord. 

'Here, step into the Board Room. . . . Where the devil 
are my spectacles?' he demanded of the valet, who had sprung 
forward to hold open the door. 

Evidently the Board Room had been but a few hours ago the 
scene of a large dinner-party. Glasses, dessert-plates, dishes of 
fruit, decanters empty and half empty, cumbered the great 
mahogany table as dead and wounded, guns and tumbrils, might 
a battlefield. Chairs stood askew; crumpled napkins lay as 
they had been dropped or tossed, some on the floor, others 
across the table between the dishes. 

'Looks cosy, eh?' commented the First Lord. 'Maggs, set 
a screen around the fire, and look about for a decanter and 
some clean glasses.' 

He drew a chair close to the reviving fire, and glanced at the 
cover of the dispatch before breaking its seal. 

' Nelson's handwriting ? ' he asked. It was plain that his old 
eyes, unaided by spectacles, saw the superscription only as a blur. 

'No, my lord: Admiral Collingwood's,' said Lieutenant 
Lapenotiere, inclining his head. 

Old Lord Barham looked up sharply. His wig set awry, he 
made a ridiculous figure in his hastily donned garments. Yet 
he did not lack dignity. 

'Why Collingwood?' he asked, his fingers breaking the seal. 
'God! you don't tell me ' 

'Lord Nelson is dead, sir.' 

'Dead dead? . . . Here, Tylney you read what it says. 

Lieutenant Lapenotikre 253 

Dead? . . . No, damme, let the captain tell his tale. Briefly, 

'Briefly, sir Lord Nelson had word of Admiral Villeneuve 
coming out of the Straits, and engaged the combined fleets off 
Cape Trafalgaro. They were in single line, roughly; and he 
bore down in two columns, and cut off their van under Duma- 
noir. This was at dawn or thereabouts, and by five o'clock 
the enemy was destroyed.' 

'How many prizes?' 

'I cannot say precisely, my lord. The word went, when 
I was signalled aboard the Vice-Admiral's flagship, that either 
fifteen or sixteen had struck. My own men were engaged, at 
the time, in rescuing the crew of a French seventy- four that had 
blown up; and I was too busy to count, had counting been 
possible. One or two of my officers maintain to me that our 
gains were higher. But the dispatch will tell, doubtless.' 

'Aye, to be sure. . . . Read, Tylney. Don't sit their clear- 
ing your throat, but read, man alive! ' And yet it appeared that 
while the Secretary was willing enough to read, the First Lord 
had no capacity, as yet, to listen. Into the very first sentence 
he broke with: 

'No, wait a minute. "Dead," d'ye say? ... My God! 
. . . Lieutenant, pour yourself a glass of wine and tell us first 
how it happened.' 

Lieutenant Lapenottere could not tell very clearly. He had 
twice been summoned to board die Royal Sovereign the first 
time to receive the command to hold himself ready. It was 
then that, coming alongside the great ship, he had read in all 
the officers 1 faces an anxiety hard to reconcile with the evident 
tokens of victory around them. At once it had occurred to 
him that the Admiral had fallen, and he put the question to one 
of the lieutenants to be told that Lord Nelson had indeed 
been mortally wounded and could not live long; but that he 
must be alive yet, and conscious, since the Victory was still 
signalling orders to the Fleet. 

254 Lieutenant Lapenoti&re 

'I think, my lord,' said he, 'that Admiral Collingwood must 
have been doubtful, just then, what responsibility had fallen 
upon him, or how soon it might fall. He had sent for me to 
"stand by" so to speak. He was good enough to tell me the 
news as it had reached him ' 

Here Lieutenant Lapenotiere, obeying the order to fill his 
glass, let spill some of the wine on the table. The sight of the 
dark trickle on the mahogany touched some nerve of the brain : 
he saw it widen into a pool of blood, from which, as they picked 
up a shattered seaman and bore him below, a lazy stream crept 
across the deck of the flagship towards the scuppers. He 
moved his feet, as he had moved them then, to be out of 
the way of it : but recovered himself in another moment and 
went on: 

'He told me, my lord, that the Victory after passing under 
the Bucentaures stern, and so raking her that she was put out 
of action, or almost, fell alongside the Redoutable. There was 
a long swell running, with next to no wind, and the two ships 
could hardly have cleared had they tried. At any rate, they 
hooked, and it was then a question which could hammer the 
harder. The Frenchman had filled his tops with sharp-shooters, 
and from one of these the mizen-top, I believe a musket- 
ball struck down the Admiral. He was walking at the time to 
and fro on a sort of gangway he had caused to be planked 
over his cabin skylight, between the wheel and the ladder- 
way. . . . Admiral Collingwood believed it had happened 
about half-past one . . .' 

'Sit down, man, and drink your wine,' commanded the First 
Lord as the dispatch-bearer swayed with a sudden faintness. 

'It is nothing, my lord ' 

But it must have been a real swoon, or something very like 
it: for he recovered to find himself lying in an arm-chair. He 
heard the Secretary's voice reading steadily on and on. ... 
Also they must have given him wine, for he awoke to feel the 
warmth of it in his veins and coursing about his heart. But 

Lieutenant Lapenotiere 255 

he was weak yet, and for the moment well content to lie still 
and listen. 

Resting there and listening, he was aware of two sensations 
that alternated within him, chasing each other in and out of his 
consciousness. He felt all the while that he, John Richards 
Lapenotiere, a junior officer in His Majesty's service, was 
assisting in one of the most momentous events in his country's 
history; and alone in the room with these two men, he felt it 
as he had never begun to feel it amid the smoke and roar of the 
actual battle. He had seen the dead hero but half a dozen 
times in his life: he had never been honoured by a word from 
him : but like every other naval officer, he had come to look up 
to Nelson as to the splendid particular star among commanders. 
There was greatness: there was that which lifted men to such 
deeds as write man's name across the firmament ! And, strange 
to say, Lieutenant Lapenottere recognized something of it in 
this queer old man, in dressing-gown and ill-fitting wig, who 
took snuff and interrupted now with a curse and anon with a 
'Bravo!' as the Secretary read. He was absurd: but he was 
no common man, this Lord Barham. He had something of 
the ineffable aura of greatness. 

But in the Lieutenant's brain, across this serious, even awful 
sense of the moment and of its meaning, there played a curious 
secondary sense that the moment was not that what was 
happening before his eyes had either happened before or was 
happening in some vacuum in which past, present, future, and 
the ordinary divisions of time had lost their bearings. The 
great twenty-four-hour clock at the end of the Board Room, 
ticking on and on while the Secretary read, wore an unfamiliar 
face. . . . Yes, time had gone wrong, somehow : and the events 
of the passage home to Falmouth, of the journey up to the doors 
of the Admiralty, though they ran on a chain, had no intervals 
to be measured by a clock, but followed one another like 
pictures on a wall. He saw the long, indigo-coloured swell 
thrusting the broken ships shoreward. He felt the wind 

256 Lieutenant Lapenoti&re 

freshening as it southered and he left the Fleet behind: he 
watched their many lanterns as they sank out of sight, then the 
glow of flares by the light of which d<?ad-tired men were 
repairing damages, cutting away wreckage. His ship was 
wallowing heavily now, with the gale after her and now dawn 
was breaking clean and glorious on the swell off Lizard Point. 
A Mount's Bay lugger had spied them, and, lying in wait, had 
sheered up close alongside, her crew bawling for news. He 
had not forbidden his men to call it back, and he could see the 
fellows' faces now, as it reached them from the speaking- 
trumpet: 'Great victory twenty taken or sunk Admiral 
Nelson killed!' They had guessed something, noting the 
Pickles ensign at half-mast : yet as they took in the purport of 
the last three words, these honest fishermen had turned and 
stared at one another; and without one answering word, the 
lugger had been headed straight back to the mainland. 

So it had been at Falmouth. A ship entering port has a 
thousand eyes upon her, and the Pickle 's errand could not be 
hidden. The news seemed in some mysterious way to have 
spread even before he stepped ashore there on the Market 
Strand. A small crowd had collected, and, as he passed through 
it, many doffed their hats. There was no cheering at all no, 
not for this the most glorious victory of the war outshining 
even the Nile or Howe's First of June. 

He had set his face as he walked to the inn. But the news 
had flown before him, and fresh crowds gathered to watch him 
off. The post-boys knew . . . and they told the post-boys at 
the next stage, and the next Bodmin and Plymouth not to 
mention the boatmen at Torpoint Ferry. But the country- 
side did not know: nor the labourers gathering in cider apples 
heaped under Devon apple-trees, nor, next day, the sportsmen 
banging off guns at the partridges around Salisbury. The slow, 
jolly life of England on either side of the high road turned 
leisurely as a wagon-wheel on its axle, while between hedge- 
rows, past farm hamlets, church-towers and through the cobbled 

Lieutenant Lapenotiere 257 

streets of market towns, he had sped and rattled with Colling- 
wood's dispatch in his sealed case. The news had reached 
London with him. His last post-boys had carried it to their 
stables, and from stable to tavern. To-morrow to-day, rather 
in an hour or two all the bells of London would be ringing 
or tolling! . . . 

'He's as tired as a dog/ said the voice of the Secretary. 
'Seems almost a shame to waken him.' 

The Lieutenant opened his eyes and jumped to his feet 
with an apology. Lord Barham had gone, and the Secretary 
hard by was speaking to the night-porter, who bent over the 
fire, raking it with a poker. The hands of the Queen Anne 
clock indicated a quarter to six. 

'The First Lord would like to talk with you . . . later in 
the day,' said Mr. Tylney gravely, smiling a little these last 
words. He himself was white and haggard. 'He suggested 
the early afternoon, say half-past two. That will give you 
time for a round sleep. . . . You might leave me the name 
of your hotel, in case he should wish to send for you before 
that hour.' 

'"The Swan with Two Necks," Lad Lane, Cheapside,' said 
Lieutenant Lapenotiere. 

He knew little of London, and gave the name of the hostelry 
at which, many years ago, he had alighted from a west country 
coach with his box and midshipman's kit. ... A moment later 
he found himself wondering if it still existed as a house of 
entertainment. Well, he must go and seek it. 

The Secretary shook hands with him, smiling wanly. 

'Few men, sir, have been privileged to carry such news as 
you have brought us to-night.' 

'And I went to sleep after delivering it,' said Lieutenant 
Lapenotiere, smiling back. 

The night-porter escorted him to the hall, and opened the 
great door for him. In the portico he bade the honest man 
good night, and stood for a moment, mapping out in his mind 

258 Lieutenant Lapenoti&re 

his way to 'The Swan with Two Necks.' He shivered slightly, 
after his nap, in the chill of the approaching dawn. 

As the door closed behind him he was aware of a light 
shining, out beyond the screen of the fore-court, and again a 
horse blew through its nostrils on the raw air. 

'Lord!' thought the Lieutenant. 'That fool of a post-boy 
cannot have mistaken me and waited all this time!' 

He hurried out into Whitehall. Sure enough a chaise was 
drawn up there, and a post-boy stood by the near lamp, conning 
a scrap of paper by the light of it. No, it was a different 
chaise, and a different post-boy. He wore the buff" and black, 
whereas the other had worn the blue and white. Yet he stepped 
forward confidently, and with something of a smile. 

'Lieutenant Lapenoti&re?' he asked, reaching back and 
holding up his paper to the lamp to make sure of the syllables. 

'That is my name,' said the amazed Lieutenant. 

'I was ordered here five forty-five to drive you down to 

'To Merton?' echoed Lieutenant Lapenoti&re, his hand going 
to his pocket. The post-boy's smile, or so much as could be 
seen of it by the edge of the lamp, grew more knowing. 

'I ask no questions, sir.' 

'But but who ordered you?' 

The post-boy did not observe, or disregarded, his bewilder- 

'A Briton 's a Briton, sir, I hope? I ask no questions, 
knowing my place. . . . But if so be as you were to tell me 
there 's been a great victory ' He paused on this. 

'Well, my man, you 're right so far, and no harm in telling 

'Aye,' chirruped the post-boy. 'When the maid called me 
up with the order, and said as how he and no other had called 
with it ' 


The fellow nodded. 

Lieutenant Lapenotiere 259 

'She knew him at once, from his portraits. Who wouldn't? 
With his right sleeve pinned across so. ... And, said I : "Then 
there 's been a real victory. Never would you see him back, 
unless." And I was right, sir!' he concluded triumphantly. 

'Let me see that piece of paper.' 

'You '11 let me have it back, sir? for a memento,' the post- 
boy pleaded. Lieutenant Lapenotiere took it from him a 
plain half-sheet of note-paper roughly folded. On it was 
scribbled in pencil, back-handwise, ' Lt. Lapenotiere. Admiralty, 
Whitehall. At 6.30 a.m., not later. For Merton, Surrey.' 

He folded the paper very slowly, and handed it back to the 

'Very well, then. For Merton.' 

The house lay but a very little distance beyond Wimbledon. 
Its blinds were drawn as Lieutenant Lapenotiere alighted from 
the chaise and went up to the modest porch. 

His hand was on the bell-pull. But some pressure checked 
him as he was on the point of ringing. He determined to wait 
for a while and turned away towards the garden. 

The dawn had just broken; two or three birds were singing. 
It did not surprise at any rate, it did not frighten Lieutenant 
Lapenoti^re at all, when, turning into a short pleached alley, 
he looked along it and saw him advancing. 

Yes, him, with the pinned sleeve, the noble, seamed, eager 
face. They met as friends. ... In later years the Lieutenant 
could never remember a word that passed, if any passed at all. 
He was inclined to think that they met and walked together in 
complete silence, for many minutes. Yet he ever maintained 
that they walked as two friends whose thoughts hold converse 
without need of words. He was not terrified at all. He ever 
insisted, on the contrary, that there, in the cold of the breaking 
day, his heart was light and warm as though flooded with first 
love not troubled by it, as youth in first love is wont to be 

260 Lieutenant Lapenotiere 

but bathed in it; he, the ardent young officer, bathed in a glow 
of affection, ennobling, exalting him, making him free of a 
brotherhood he had never guessed. 

He used also, in telling the story, to scandalize the clergy- 
man of his parish by quoting the evangelists, and especially 
St. John's narrative of Mary Magdalen at the sepulchre. 

For the door of the house opened at length ; and a beautiful 
woman, scarred by knowledge of the world, came down 
the alley, slowly, unaware of him. Then (said he), as she 
approached, his hand went up to his pocket for the private 
letter he carried, and the shade at his side left him to face her 
in the daylight. 


The May Races at Cambridge, 1913 

VENATOR. Good Master, did you not promise me fish in this 

PISCATOR. Methinks, Scholar, we tarried too long at the Pike 
and Eel. But since the fish have given over biting, what say 
you to stretching our limbs beneath yonder hawthorn? 
where, while the many sweet-smelling flowers hold a credit- 
able contention with the gas-works, I will teach you the best 
way to angle for the chavender or chub. . . . But what 
comes here ? A boat ! marry and rowed by eight personable 
young men, with a ninth looking the other way and steering. 

A COACH. Ea sy, all I 

PISCATOR. Well met, honest sir! . . . Will you tell me, who 
are these lads whose labours you compassionate? 

COACH. (Shortly.} L.M.B.C. 

PISCATOR. (Pulled.} L.M.B.C.? . . . Ahlaclavender, or club! 
And this crowd that I see approaching? 

COACH. [Yet more shortly.} Usual May binge. Forward, all! 
Look here, and remember your legs when you 're paddling. 

YOUNG AMERICAN LADY. [First as usual.] Say, poppa? 

AMERICAN FATHER. [Second as usual.] He refers to their limbs, 
Sadie: they're going to paddle^ didn't you hear? . . . 
Pleased to make your acquaintance, professor. [To Piscator. 
This, sir, is my first visit to Oxford. 

SADIE. [Correcting.} Cambridge, poppa. 


Chorus of Aunts and Cousins approaching on towpath 
as other boats come down-stream. 

STROPHE. Yon 's 



Are Caius. 

FULL CHORUS. And that *s 


262 Voices on the Bank 

SOCRATES. But it seems to me, Adeimantus, that the best boat 
on these occasions is the boat that goes fastest? 

ADEIMANTUS. It seems so, indeed. 

SOCRATES. And the boat which goes, or is propelled, faster 
than another boat, must necessarily overtake that other boat. 

ADEIMANTUS. Most probably. 

SOCRATES. But is not the 'head' boat, as you call it, presumably 
the fastest of all ? 

ADEIMANTUS. That is presumed, at least, until the contrary be 

SOCRATES. Then it would follow, O friend! that in a well- 
ordered state, having taken the gods into council and made 
ready our guns, and charged for admission and what-not, we 
should annually start our best boat at the bottom of the river, 
that so it might cover itself with glory by making the greatest 
possible number of bumps. 

[He goes off to argue with a policeman. 

STRANGER IN MOTOR LAUNCH. [Drawing alongside the bank to 
Piscator.] I hope, sir, we do not disturb your fishing ? The 
fact is, we have left our tea-basket behind. Could you direct 
us to the nearest provender where we might get some pub 
or, I should rather say, to the nearest pub, where we can 
get some provender? 

PISCATOR. If, sir, you mean gravender or grub 

Aunts and Cousins interrupting : 


Are Caius : 

Goes Clare: 
FULL CHORUS. And that 's 


PRAXINOE. My! what a crush! 

GORGO. And the bicycles don't run me down, my good man! 
They oughtn't to be allowed. 

Voices on the Bank 263 

PRAXINOE. My new hat will be crushed to a jelly, at this rate. 

Do let us go on! [She addresses a STRANGER.] Could you tell 

us, sir, where we can get across to Ditton? 
THE STRANGER. \Who happens to be a Professor of Icelandic^ 

Fiskr gekk oss at 6skom eitrs sem ver haeofum leithath. 
PRAXINOE. Thank you kindly, sir. 
THE STRANGER. Gud-guthragud! Don't mention it. 
PRAXINOE. [Moving on.] As I was saying, dear, parlour-maids 

you can replace, but a cook 

GORGO. [Catching her arm.] Do but look, though, at this boat 

approaching in the Lydian mode. How majestically it moves 

and how realistically the crew swing to and fro the while! 

One would say they were practising for the Royal Barge. 
PRAXINOE. Why, have you not heard? They do say His 

Majesty is coming next year, and this is the King's boat. 

They will be in plenty of time, by the look of it. 
GORGO. You don't say so! [Sighs .] And this year we have 

only Mr. Chesterton : though, to be sure, they are widening 

the Chesterton Road at the lower end. Is that necessary? 
PRAXINOE. It is a compliment, at any rate, dear: and we in 

Cambridge like to be on the safe side. 
GORGO. Yes, but look at that poor dear gentleman such a 

fine figure too ! in his shirt-sleeves, trailing his coat behind 

him. Oughtn't we to draw his attention to it? 
PRAXINOE. No, dear. That 's the Professor of Archaeology, 

and it 's his way of keeping cool. 

A Rag-boat comes by, the crew singing : 

I wish I was in Dixie, 

Where the hens lay eggs in the stra-aw . . . 
[Or words to that effect.} 

AMERICAN PARENT. [Slowly.] 'Might be better, now you men- 
tion it. 

[Rag-boat moves off, to annoy somebody else. 

264 Pokes on the Bank 


The sort of grass they grow at Grassy 
Is esculent but hardly classy: 

The sort of grass they grow at Ditton 
Is classier, but vile to sit on. 

Beware the men who work the grinds! 
They '11 pelt you with banana rinds. . . . 

A PROFESSOR OF JARGON. [Instructively.] The races at Oxford 
and at Cambridge, while partaking in general of a similar 
character, are rowed under somewhat diverse conditions 
respectively. In the case of the former University the boats 
in all cases are of a uniform nature : in that of the latter a 
distinction is observed, those of the first division being rowed 
in boats of carvel construction, while the second is identified 
rather with the clinker build, in which the strakes have an 
overlapping tendency. Cases have occurred in which a so- 
called sandwich boat, having won its way to superior rank, 
finds itself matched against boats appertaining to that rank 
which owing to their construction are ipso facto of a speedier 
character. In that case the C.U.B.C. . . . 

A Band plays : 

The flowers that bloom in the spring, tra, la, 
Have nothing to do with the CASE. . . . 

DR. JOHNSON. [Lifting his hat.] Sir! Yours per varios casus. 
. . . The proficiency of this present age, as it is built on the 
slow labours of the past, should by privilege be elevated above 
concourse of the pert and upstart. Let the dogs sweat! 
... I remember at Oxford the young gentlemen of Christ 
Church challenged us of Pembroke to a rowing-match, and 
that I contributed somewhat to the losing of it half-way by 
drawing in my oar and honestly saying that I was tired. 

BOSWELL. That, sir, showed great independence of spirit. 

Voices on the Bank 265 

DR. JOHNSON. No, sir: stark insensibility! 

[Noise of distant guns: sporadic explosion of suffragette bombs. 
Everybody cries: 'They're off!' except a Don in a 
Researcher's Hat, who says 'Votes for Women!' 

GORGO. Are they really bumping, Praxinoe? 
PRAXINOE. How silly of you, dear! Can't you hear them. 
A LADY'S VOICE. [Says equably but distinctly.] And so, as the 
Colonel ab-solutely refused to extend his leave, dear Reggie 
had to go back. They are very strict in the Rifles; and he 

being only a savender 

{Noise of pistols. Several dull concussions are heard as the 
boats change places. Crowd shouts delirious : even the 
unoccupied houses take fire. 

A PHOTOGRAPHER. [As two boats go by with a foot of daylight 
between them.] One moment, gentlemen please! If you 

could manage to smile 

[Tumultuous cheering. 'Well rowed, all!' 'Well rowed, 
Hall ! ' ' Well rowed, everybody in general and Hall 
in particular!' 

GORGO. And in this hot weather, too! [As Lady Margaret's 
rows by.} Look at those poor dears! positively scarlet! 

Chorus of Aunts and Cousins 
(Tune : 'Johnny Crow's Garden 9 ) 

So we 've done the Colleges, and done the Mays, 
We 've lunched seriatim off the same mayonnaise; 
But before we go our several ways, 
Let 's all join together in a hearty vote of praise 

HERODOTUS, OF HALICARNASSUS. [Button-holing a Pro-Proctor.} 
Can you inform me, sir, in which direction this river happens 
to be flowing at the present moment? For amid much that 
is happening of equal or greater importance, this alone I am 
unable to detect. 

266 Voices on the Bank 

PRO-PROCTOR. You have arrived, nevertheless, in a fortunate 
hour, O stranger. For on 361 days of the year it cannot 
be confidently asserted to flow in any direction, albeit some 
say one thing and some another. But on these four days 
alone, under the propulsion you have witnessed, it makes a 
definite move in the direction of Ely, and even (so report 
goes) may ultimately reach the sea. There are indeed who 
assert that for this purpose and no other our May festival 
was instituted. 


Th' inhabitants of local inns 
Commit unmentionable sins : 

The Ordinances of Long Reach 
Are mostly honoured in the breach. 

The plants that in Glass Houses mate 
Cryptogamously propagate : 

Beneath the Bridge rot the remains 
Of old unhappy railway trains : 

But when we reach the Pike and Eel, 
O let me kneel! O let me kneel! 



WE sat and talked in the Vicarage garden overlooking 
Mount's Bay. The long summer day lingered out its 
departure, although the full moon was up and already touching 
with a faint radiance the towers on St. Michael's Mount 'the 
guarded Mount' that rested as though at anchor in the silver- 
grey offing. The land-breeze had died down with sunset; the 
Atlantic lay smooth as a lake below us, and melted, league 
upon league, without horizon into the grey of night. Between 
the Vicar's fuchsia-bushes we looked down on it, we three 
the Vicar, the Senior Tutor, and I. 

I think the twilit hour exactly accorded with our mood, and 
it did not need the scent of the Vicar's ten- week stocks, wafted 
across the garden, to touch a nerve of memory. For it was 
twenty years since we had last sat in this place and talked, and 
the summer night seemed to be laden with tranquil thoughts, 
with friendship and old regard. . . . Twenty years ago I had 
been an undergraduate, and had made one of a reading-party 
under the Senior Tutor, who annually in the Long Vacation 
brought down two or three fourth-year men to bathe and boat 
and read Plato with him, for no pay but their friendship: and, 
generation after generation, we young men had been made 
welcome in this garden by the Vicar, who happened to be an 
old member of our College and (as in time I came to see) 
delighted to renew his youth in ours. There had been 
daughters, too, in the old days. ... But they had married, 
and the Vicarage nest was empty long since. 

The Senior Tutor, too, had given up work and retired upon 
his Fellowship. But every summer found him back at his old 
haunts ; and still every summer brought a reading-party to the 
Cove, in conduct now of a brisk Junior Fellow, who had read 


268 Not here, Apollo ! 

with me in our time and achieved a 'first.' In short, things 
at the Cove were pretty much the same after twenty years, 
barring that a small colony of painters had descended upon it 
and made it their home. With them the undergraduates had 
naturally and quickly made friends, and the result was a cricket 
match a grand Two-days' Cricket Match. They were all 
extremely serious about it, and the Oxford party at their 
wits' end, no doubt, to make up a team against the Artists 
had bethought themselves of me, who dwelt at the other end 
of the Duchy. They had written they had even sent a two- 
page telegram to me, who had not handled a bat for more 
years than I cared to count. It is delicious to be flattered by 
youth, especially for gifts you never possessed or possess no 
longer. I yielded and came. The season was Midsummer, or 
a little after; the weather golden and glorious. 

We had drawn stumps after the first day's play, and the 
evening was to be wound up with a sing-song in the great tent 
erected a marvel to the * Covers,' or native fishermen on 
the cricket-field. But I no longer take kindly to such enter- 
tainments; and so, after a bathe and a quiet dinner at the inn, 
it came into my mind to take a stroll up the hill and along the 
cliffs, and pay an evening call on the old Vicar, wondering if 
he would remember me. 

I found him in his garden. The Senior Tutor was there too 
'the grave man, nicknamed Adam' and the Vicar's wife, 
seated in a bee-hive straw chair, knitting. So we four talked 
happily for a while, until she left us on pretence tliat die dew 
was falling; and with that, as I have said, a wonderful silence 
possessed the garden fragrant with memories and the night- 
scent of flowers. . . . 

Then I let fall the word that led to the Vicar's story. In old 
rambles, after long mornings spent with Plato, my eyes (by 
mirage, no doubt) had always found something Greek in the 
curves and colour of this coast; or rather, had felt the want of it. 
What that something was I could hardly have defined : but the 

Not here, Apollo / 269 

feeling was always with me. It was as if at each bend of the 
shore I expected to find a temple with pillars, or a column 
crowning the next promontory; or, where the coast- track 
wound down to the little haven, to happen on a votive tablet 
erected to Poseidon or to * Helen's brothers, lucent stars'; nay, 
to meet with Odysseus' fisherman carrying an oar on his 
shoulder, or even, in an amphitheatre of the cliffs, to surprise 
Apollo himself and the Nine seated on a green plat whence a 
waterfall gushed down the coomb to the sandy beach. . . . 
This evening on my way along the cliffs perhaps because I 
had spent a day bathing in sunshine in the company of white- 
flannelled youths the old sensation had returned to haunt me. 
I spoke of it. 

'"Not here, O Apollo "' murmured the Senior Tutor. 

'You quote against your own scepticism/ said I. 'The coast 
is right enough; it is 

Where Helicon breaks down 
In cliff to the sea. 

It was made to invite the authentic gods only the gods never 
found it out.' 

'Did they not?' asked the Vicar quietly. The question took 
us a little aback, and after a pause his next words administered 
another small shock. 'One never knows,' he said, 'when, or 
how near, the gods have passed. One may be listening to us 
in this garden, to-night. ... As for the Greeks ' 

'Yes, yes, we were talking of the Greeks,' the Senior Tutor 
(a convinced agnostic) put in hastily. 'If we leave out Pytheas, 
no Greeks ever visited Cornwall. They are as mythical 
hereabouts as' he hesitated, seeking a comparison 'as the 
Cornish wreckers; and they never existed outside of pious 

Said the Vicar, rising from his garden-chair: 'I accept the 
omen. Wait a moment, you two.' He left us and went across 
the dim lawn to the house, whence by and by he returned 

270 Not here, Apollo / 

bearing a book under his arm, and in his hand a candle, which he 
set down unlit upon the wicker table among the coffee-cups. 

'I am going,' he said, 'to tell you something which, a few 
years ago, I should have scrupled to tell. With all deference 
to your opinions, my dear Dick, I doubt if they quite allow you 
to understand the clergy's horror of chancing a heresy; indeed, 
I doubt if either of you quite guess what a bridle a man comes 
to wear who preaches a hundred sermons or so every year to 
a rural parish, knowing that nine-tenths of his discourse will 
assuredly be lost, while at any point in the whole of it he may 
be fatally misunderstood. . . . Yet as a man nears his end he 
feels an increasing desire to be honest, neither professing more 
than he knows, nor hiding any small article of knowledge as 
inexpedient to the Faith. The Faith, he begins to see, can 
take care of itself : for him, it is important to await his marching- 
orders with a clean breast. Eh, Dick?' 

The Senior Tutor took his pipe from his mouth and nodded 

'But what is your book?' he asked. 

'My Parish Register. Its entries cover the years from 1660 
to 1827. Luckily I had borrowed it from the vestry box, and 
it was safe on my shelf in the Vicarage on the Christmas Eve 
of 1870, the night when the church took fire. That was in 
my second year as incumbent, and before ever you knew 
these parts/ 

'By six months,' said the Senior Tutor. 'I first visited the 
Cove in July 1871, and you were then beginning to clear the 
ruins. All the village talk still ran on the fire, with speculations 
on the cause of it.' 

'The cause,' said the Vicar, 'will never be known. I may 
say that pretty confidently, having spent more time in guessing 
than will ever be spent by another man. . . . But since you 
never saw the old church as it stood, you never saw the Heathen 
Lovers in the south aisle.' 

'Who were they?' 

Not here, O Apollo ! 271 

'They were a group of statuary, and a very strange one: 
executed, as I first believed, in some kind of wax but, pushing 
my researches (for the thing interested me), I found the material 
to be a white soapstone that crops out here and there in 
the crevices of our serpentine. Indeed, I know to a foot 
the spot from which the sculptor took it, close on two hundred 
years ago/ 

'It was of no great age, then?' 

'No: and yet it bore all the marks of an immense age. For 
to begin with, it had stood five-and-twenty years in this very 
garden, exposed to all weathers, and the steatite (as they call it) 
is of all substances the most friable is, in fact, the stuff used 
by tailors under the name of French chalk. Again, when, in 
1719, my predecessor, old Vicar Hichens, removed it to the 
church and set it in the south aisle or, at any rate, when he 
died and ceased to protect it the young men of the parish 
took to using it for a hatstand, and also to carving their own 
and their sweethearts' names upon it during sermon-time. The 
figures of the sculpture were two; a youth and a maid, recum- 
bent, and naked but for a web of drapery flung across their 
middles; and they lay on a roughly carved rock, over which 
the girl's locks as well as the drapery were made to hang limp, 
as though dripping with water. . . . One thing more I must 
tell you, risking derision; that to my ignorance the sculpture 
proclaimed its age less by these signs of weather and rough 
usage than by the simplicity of its design, its proportions, the 
chastity (there 's no other word) of the two figures. They 
were classical, my dear Dick what was left of them ; Greek 
and of the best period.' 

The Senior Tutor lit a fresh pipe, and by the flare of the 
match I saw his eyes twinkling. 

'Praxiteles,' he jerked out, between the puffs, 'and in the age 
of Kneller! But proceed, my friend.' 

'And do you wait, my scoffer!' The Vicar borrowed the 
box of matches, lit the candle which held a steady flame in the 

272 Not here, O Apollo ! 

still evening air opened the book, and laid it on his knee 
while he adjusted his spectacles. 'The story is here, entered 
on a separate leaf of the Register and signed by Vicar Hichens's 
own hand. With your leave for it is brief I am going to 
read it through to you. The entry is headed : 

'Concerning a group of Statuary now in the S. aisle of Le^ardew Pish 
Church : set there by me in witness of God's Providence in operation, 
as of the corruption of man s hearty and for a warning to sinners to 
amend their ways. 

'In the year 1694, being the first of my vicariate, there lived in 
this Parish as hind to the farmer of Vellancoose a young man exceeding 
comely and tall of stature, of whom (when I came to ask) the people 
could tell me only that his name was Luke, and that as a child he 
had been cast ashore from a foreign ship ; they said, a Portugal ship. 
[But the Portugals have swart complexions and are less than ordinary 
tall, whereas this youth was light-coloured and only brown by sun- 
burn.] Nor could he tell me anything when I questioned him con- 
cerning his haveage ; * which I did upon report that he was courting 
my housemaiden Grace Pascoe, an honest good girl, whom I was 
loath to see waste herself upon an unworthy husband. Upon inquiry 
I could not discover this Luke to be any way unworthy, saving that 
he was a nameless man and a foreigner and a backward church-goer. 
He told me with much simplicity that he could not remember to have 
had any parents; that Farmer Lowry had brought him up from the 
time he was shipwrecked and ever treated him kindly; and that, as 
for church-going, he had thought little about it, but would amend in 
this matter if it would give me pleasure. Which I thought a strange 
answer. When I went on to hint at his inclination for Grace Pascoe, 
he confused me by asking, with a look very straight and good- 
natured, if the girl had ever spoken to me on the matter; to which 
I was forced to answer that she had not. So he smiled, and I could 
not further press him. 

* Yet in my mind they would have made a good match; for the girl 
too was passing well featured, and this Luke had notable gifts. He 
could read and write. The farmer spoke well of him, saying: "He 

1 Lineage, descent. 

Not here, Apollo ! 273 

has rewarded me many times over. Since his coming, thanks to the 
Lord, my farm prospers: and in particular he has a wonderful way 
with the beasts. Cattle or sheep, fowls, dogs, the wild things even, 
come to him almost without a call." He had also (the farmer told 
me) a wonderful knack of taking clay or mud and moulding it with 
his hands to the likeness of living creatures, of all sorts and sizes. 
In the kitchen by the great fire he would work at these images by 
hours together, to the marvel of every one: but when the image 
was made, after a little while he always destroyed it ; nor was it ever 
begged by any one for a gift, there being a belief that, being fashioned 
by more than a man's skill, such things could only bring ill-luck to 
the possessors of them. 

'For months then I heard no more of Grace Pascoe's lover: nor 
(though he now came every Sunday to church) did I ever see looks 
pass between the Vicarage pew (where she sat) and the Vellancoose 
pew (where he). But at the end of the year she came to me and told 
me she had given her word to a young farmer of Goldsithney, John 
Magor by name. In a worldly way this was a far better match for 
her than to take a nameless and landless man. Nor knew I anything 
against John Magor beyond some stray wildness natural to youth. 
He came of clean blood. He was handsome, almost as the other; 
tall, broad of chest, a prize-winner at wrestling-matches ; and of an 
age when a good wife is usually a man's salvation. 

'I called their banns, and in due time married them. On the 
wedding-day, after the ceremony, I returned from church to find the 
young man Luke awaiting me by my house door; who very civilly 
desired me to walk over to Vellancoose with him, which I did. 
There, taking me aside to an unused linhay, he showed me the sculp- 
ture, telling me (who could not conceal my admiration) that he had 
meant it for John and Grace Magor (as she now was) for a wedding- 
gift, but that the young woman had cried against it as immodest 
and, besides, unlucky. On the first count I could understand her 
rejecting such a gift; for the folk of these parts know nothing of 
statuary and count all nakedness immodest. Indeed, I wondered that 
the bridegroom had not taken Luke's freedom in ill part, and I said 
so : to which he answered, smiling, that no man ever quarrelled with 
him or could quarrel. "And now, sir," he went on, "my appren- 
ticeship is up, and I am going on a long journey. Since you find my 

274 Not here, O Apollo ! 

group pleasing I would beg you to accept it, or if you had liefer 
to keep it for me until I come again, as some day I shall." "I do 
not wonder," said I, "at your wish to leave Lezardew Parish for the 
world where, as I augur, great fortune awaits you." He smiled 
again at this and said that, touching his future, he had neither any 
hope nor any fear: and again he pressed me to accept the statuary. 
For a time I demurred, and in the end made it a condition that he 
altered the faces somewhat, concealing the likeness to John and 
Grace Magor: and to this he consented. "Yet," said he, "it will 
be the truer likeness when the time comes." 

'He was gone on the morrow by daybreak, and late that afternoon 
the farmer brought me the statuary in his hay-wagon. I had it set 
in the garden by the great filbert-tree, and there it has stood for near 
five-and-twenty years. (I ought to say that he had kept his promise 
of altering the faces, and thereby to my thinking had defaced their 
beauty : but beneath this defacement I still traced their first likeness.) 

'Now to speak of the originals. My way lying seldom by Gold- 
sithney, I saw little of John and Grace Magor during the next few 
years, and nothing at all of them after they had left Goldsithney 
(their fortunes not prospering) and rented a smaller farm on the coast 
southward, below Rosudgeon : but what news came to me was ever 
of the same tenor. Their marriage had brought neither children 
nor other blessings. There were frequent quarrels, and the man had 
yielded to drinking; the woman, too, it was reported. She, that 
had been so trim a serving-maid, was become a slut with a foul 
tongue. They were cruelly poor with it all; for money does not 
always stick to unclean hands. I write all this to my reproach as 
well as to theirs, for albeit they dwelt in another parish it had been 
my Christian duty to seek them out. I did not, and I was gready 
to blame. 

'To pass over many years and come to the 2nd of December last 
(1718). That night, about n o'clock, I sat in my library reading. 
It was blowing hard without, the wind W.N. W. ; but I had forgotten 
the gale in my book, when a sound, as it were a distant outcry of 
many voices, fetched me to unbar the shutters and open the window 
to listen. The sound, whatever it was, had died away : I heard but 
the wind roaring and the surf on the beaches along the Bay : and I 
was closing the window again when, close at hand, a man's voice 

Not here, Apollo ! 275 

called to me to open the front door. I went out to the hall, where a 
lamp stood, and opened to him. The light showed me the young 
man Luke, on whom I had not set eyes for these four-and-twenty 
years: nor, amazed and perturbed as I was, did it occur to me as 
marvellous that he had not aged a day. "There is a wreck," said he, 
"in the Forth below here; and you, sir, are concerned in it. Will 
you fetch a lantern and come with me?" He put this as a question, 
but in his tone was a command : and when I brought the lantern he 
took it from me and led the way. We struck across the Home Pare 
southward, thence across Gew Down and the Leazes, and I knew 
that he was making for the track which leads down to the sea by 
Prah Sands. At the entry of the track he took off his coat and 
wrapped the lantern in it, though just there its light would have been 
most useful, or so I thought. But he led the way easily, and I 
followed with scarce a stumble. "We shall not need it," he said; 
"for see, there they are!" pointing to a small light that moved on 
the sands below us. "But who are they?" I asked. He strode 
down ahead of me, making swiftly for the light, and coming upon 
them in the noise of the gale we surprised a man and a woman, who 
at first cowered before us and then would have cast down their light 
and run. But my companion, unwrapping the lantern, held it high 
and so that the light shone on their faces. They were John Magor 
and his wife Grace. 

'Then I, remembering what cry of shipwrecked souls had reached 
to my library in the Vicarage, and well guessing what work these 
wretches had been at, lifted my voice to accuse them. But the 
young man Luke stepped between us, and said he to them gently: 
"Come, and I will show what you seek." He went before us for 
maybe two hundred yards to the northern end of the beach, they 
behind him quaking, and I shepherding them in my righteous wrath. 
"Behold you," said he, and again lifted the lantern over a rock dark 
with seaweed (and yet the weed shone in the light) "Behold you, 
what you have wrecked." 

'On their backs along the flat of the rock lay two naked bodies, 
of a youth and a maid, half clasped one to another. He handed me 
the lantern for a better look, and in the rays of it the two wretches 
peered forward as if drawn against their will. I cannot well say if 
they or I first perceived the miracle; that these corpses, as they lay 

276 Not here, O Apollo / 

in the posture, so bore the very likeness of the two lovers on my 
sculptured slab. But I remember that, as John and Grace Magor 
screamed back and clung to me, and as by the commotion of them 
clutching at my knees the lantern fell and was extinguished, I heard 
the young man Luke say: "Yourselves, yourselves!' 

'I called to him to pick up the lantern; but he did not answer, 
and the two clinging wretches encumbered me. After a long while 
the clouds broke and die moon shone through them; and where he 
had stood there was no one. Also the slab of rock was dark, and the 
two drowned corpses had vanished with him. I pointed to it; but 
there was no tinder-box at hand to light the lantern again, and in 
the bitter weather until the dawn the two clung about me, confessing 
and rehearsing their sins. 

'I have great hopes that they are brought to a better way of life; 
and because (repent they never so much) no one is any longer likely 
to recognize in these penitents the originals upon whom it was 
moulded these many years ago, I am determined to move the statuary 
to a place in the S. aisle of our parish church, as a memorial, the 
moral whereof I have leave of John and Grace Magor to declare to 
all the parish. I choose to defer making it public, in tenderness, 
while they live: for all things point as yet to the permanent saving 
of their souls. But, as in the course of nature I shall predecease them, 
I set the record here in the Parish Register, as its best place. 


'list Jan., 1719.' 

' And is that all?' I asked. 

'Yes and no,' said the Vicar, closing the book. 'It is all that 
Mr. Hichens has left to help us: and you may or may not 
connect with it what I am going to relate of my own experience. 
. . . The old church, as you know, was destroyed by fire in the 
morning hours of Christmas Day 1870. Throughout Christ- 
mas Eve and for a great part of the night it had been snowing, 
but the day broke brilliantly, on a sky without wind or cloud; 
and never have my eyes seen anything so terribly beautiful 
ay, so sublime as the sight which met them at the lych-gate. 
The old spire which served as a sea-mark for the fishermen, 

Not here, Apollo ! 277 

and was kept regularly whitewashed that it might be the more 
conspicuous glittered in the morning sunshine from base to 
summit, as though matching its whiteness against that of the 
snow-laden elms : and in this frame of pure silverwork, burning 
without noise and with scarcely any smoke this by reason of 
the excessive dry ness of the woodwork the church stood one 
glowing vault of fire. There was indeed so little smoke that 
at the first alarm, looking from my bedroom window, I had 
been incredulous; and still I wondered rather than believed, 
staring into this furnace wherein every pillar, nook, seat, or 
text on the wall was distinctly visible, the south windows being 
burnt out and the great door thrown open and on fire. 

'There was no entrance possible here, or indeed anywhere: 
but, being half distraught, I ran around to the small door of 
the north aisle. This, too, was on fire or, rather, was already 
consumed; and you will say that I must have been wholly 
distraught when I tell you what I saw, looking in through 
the aperture through which it would have been death to pass. 
I saw him.' 

'You saw the young man Luke?' I asked, as he paused, 
inviting a word. 

'He was standing by the stone figures within the porch. . . . 
And they crumbled crumbled before my eyes in the awful 
heat. But he stood scatheless. He was young and comely; 
the hair of his head was not singed. He was as one of the 
three that walked in the midst of Nebuchadnezzar's furnace. 
. . . When the stone slab was crumbled to a handful of dust, 
he moved up the aisle and was gone. . . . That is all: but, as 
you accept your friend for a truthful man, explain, O sceptic!' 

And again there fell a silence in the garden. 


Cambridge May Races 1914 

NEVER shaded 
Lovelier hand more lovely-ardent 
Eyes than hers, my Ditton puntress, 
Resting on her pole and gazing 
Up the waterway. 

On the cushions 

I her guardian loll recumbent, 

While the transitory tumult 

Shouts and shots and straining galleys- 
Tears me past, to fade. 

Eve composes 

Soon again and smoothes a mirror 
Low to which the swallow dips her 
Daulian wound. Yet Sweet-and-twenty 

Shades her lovely eyes. 

Tense her brow as 
Dian's bow! The leading galley 
Holds a youth, and ah! were wishes 
Arrows, they would shoot him safely 

Past the Pike and Eel! 

Fair-and-twenty ! 
Feebly middle age expostu- 
lates, in sorrow not in anger, 
'Here 's but water in the teapot! 

I demanded Tea ! ' 

O Matre Pulchra 279 

Four-and-twenty years agone as 
Lovely hand as lovely eyebrow 
Shaded, and your mother trembled 

As you tremble now. 

Trust me truly; 

Ere he passed, the race was over; 
All was over bar the shouting . . . 
Happy he shall steer you happy 

Through the dance to-night : 

You triumphing 

In his prowess tread the pavement. 
So your mother, so your father 
To Die guten alten Zeiten 

Heard the violins 

Throb and tremble ; 
Heard their passion wake the nested 
Bird and thrill a waking garden, 
Whence, of three, one stole and sadly 

Left the twain to bliss . . . 

Moor we softly 

Cross the haunted, scented meadows 
Thither where her secret prelude, 
Darkling in the grove of Jesus, 

Throats the nightingale, 

As the Danube 

Gurgling through a waltz of Strauss's 
Brims a heart no longer hopeful, 
Minds it of the merry, merry 

Days when it was young. 



-*" * -* ... I must now try to answer your questions about 
'the old place/ as you call it with true Cambridge affection and 
true Cambridge accuracy. 'What is it like in these days?' 
Well, I will start by annoying you. It is still very much like 
Oxford, and like no other place in the world. 

At the same time it is curiously unlike Cambridge, even un- 
like the Cambridge of last term. We came up in October to 
find the streets desolate indeed. The good soldiers who had 
swarmed in upon town and college in August a commander 
of cavalry occupied my rooms ; too busy, I hope, to curse the 
dull contents of my shelves had all departed for France. Nay, 
already many of them slept in French earth. They had left an 
historical piece of plate to the high table; and some photo- 
graphic groups in Steam's window. A head of a house halted 
me before one of these groups and ticked off the cheerful reso- 
lute faces of those fallen, by the Marne or the Aisne, since he 
had entertained them a few weeks ago. In one row of a dozen 
West Yorks he could find two survivors only. 

These had come and gone like a summer cloud : and October 
in Cambridge might have passed for the Long Vacation turned 
chilly. In the courts and around the Backs the gardeners were 
sweeping up the leaves, as ever ; but no men passed on their way 
to lecture 'with the wind in their gowns.' The University, one 
heard, was 'functioning' still: the bell of Great St. Mary's still, 
on degree days, suggested the hand of the ancient mother 
smitten upon her chest mourning for her fee-paying children, 
because they were not. In college one seldom met, never 
heard, an undergraduate. A few would gather to hall, the 


To the Front from the Backs 281 

most of them in their O.T.C. uniforms after a strenuous after- 
noon out by Madingley. The scholar read grace with an un- 
wonted reverence. 'Sic Deus in nobis et nos maneamus in 
Illo' and we took our seats to a meal decently frugal. As I 
looked down the hall, this one undergraduates' table reminded 
me of a road in the west country I had followed a few days 
before, with the telegraph running beside it and on the wires 
the swallows gathering, discussing flight: the fire burning 
variously in each separate heart, but with the same call, to 
cross the Channel. . . . We in Combination Room talked of 
our depleted numbers as a matter for pride (very creditably too 
if you understand college finance). One, who had been 
lecturing at die Examination Schools, likened the theatre there 
to the Pool of Bethesda. 

I have to talk of it lightly, my dear Dick, because your letters, 
so constantly and undefeatedly cheerful, impose this tone. You 
must not suppose, however, that we do not think and think 
all the while of what the young are doing and suffering for 
us. ... Well, thus it was in the Michaelmas Term; a suspended 
Cambridge ; for which we were, on the whole, pretty well pre- 
pared. The Belgian refugees from their universities had found 
harbour with us. On the King's and Clare cricket ground 
lines of hospital sheds were growing up almost as silently as the 
Temple of Solomon in Bishop Heber's Newdigate; and the 
almost incomparable turf was selling (I am told) to some 
fortunate purchaser for incredible sums. 

A notice-board at the entrance of BurrelPs Walk advertised 
the ist Eastern General Hospital, and on any afternoon you 
might see the Red Cross motor ambulances bringing in the 
wounded. A whole block of King's had been handed over to 
house the nurses. But here, as at the Research Hospital, the 
work had been so quietly and thoroughly organized that you 
had to go out of your way to find anything strange. For the 
rest, Cambridge life had merely been arrested. Youth had, 
for once, refused to revisit her with autumn, and was busy 

z82 To the Front from the Backs 

elsewhere. We, whom age or infirmity obliged to abide, laid our 
account with the war and settled down to the dull streets, the 
>hort unbrightened days, evenings without talk, the long nights 
:>n depopulated staircases, our own heavy thoughts. You will 
Jiink it queer, but the feeling of the change first broke on me 
Dne day when, stepping incautiously off the pavement into the 
road-way on this side of Magdalene Bridge, I recollected myself, 
:ast the old horrified glance behind, and found not a single 
notor-cycle, not even a bicycle, in sight. 

We returned in January to a vastly different Cambridge. 
She had become a garrison town. . . . 

At this point I was proposing to start a description of it all : 
>f the lines of artillery horses beside the Trumpington Road, 
Vdams Road, Jesus ditch ; of the mud (but that is indescribable) 
n which the poor brutes stand fetlock deep, each mournfully 
:hewing his neighbour's head-rope. (You reported that head- 
opes wore out at a terrible rate in your brigade; and now I 
understand, as you will understand, why the price of bitter aloes 
las become prohibitive in Cambridge not that I want to pur- 
:hase any) ; of the mud on Midsummer Common, and the worse 
nud on the road to the rifle butts, where the M.A. warriors 
)f the C.U.O.T.C. drill and improve their waists, though they 
nay never serve their country; of WhewelPs Buildings occupied 
>y the Monmouths, who take it for an elementary school, and 

\rchdeacon C for its chairman of managers, faithful to 

lis post; of most wonderful spectacle of all the crowds of 
Tommies navigating the Backs in Canadian canoes and other 
Bounding shallops. The Welsh for it is the Welsh Division 
Territorials) we have here would seem to have lost some of 
heir celebrated skill with the coracle. ... I was going, I say, 
o attempt a picture of all this, when the happy thought seized 
ne that I could convey it far more vividly by sending you a set 
>f photographs. So forth I fared, and to my amazement was 
old that no one had taken any photographs. 'It was a notion, 
rtainly: but, so far as was known, it had not occurred to any 

To the Front from the Backs 283 

one/ 'The omission should be repaired. . . . No, the military 
authorities would not refuse leave.' I hope the University 
Librarian will make a note of this. A bound volume of photo- 
graphs, complete as his well-known enthusiasm can make it, 
would be at small cost a /cr^xa ey dei, priceless in times 
to come, when the familiar streams flow again, antiques subter- 
labentia muros; priceless as the Mercurius Aulicus or Aubrey's 
Gossip concerning Oxford in the Civil War. 

The curfew no longer tolls the knell of parting day. It is 
not permitted. But when dusk has fallen and the Mayor and 
Corporation leave the world to darkness and to me, I walk in 
the Fellows' Garden, carefully hiding the ardent tip of my 
cigarette (lest it should attract a Zeppelin), and think upon 
those streams. . . . For who doubts they will flow again? 
'Not the same/ . . . No, my dear Dick, I sincerely trust 'not 
the same!' In your last letter you observed brightly that 'it 
looks as if, before long, folks would be scrapping in every 
corner of this blessed planet.' Well, our wise men are already 
at it here, in corners of the Cambridge Review. They are con- 
cerned to regulate what is going to happen when the war is 
over. Well, I do not much believe in cooking an eagle before 
you have shot him. But suppose him shot. . . . Do these my 
reverend co-seniors actually believe that it will be left to us to 
put things right? What, to us? who in our generation, in 
England and France and Germany, have allowed this thing to 
come to pass? No, my dear child: that responsibility, with 
the honour of it, must be yours. It is a heavy one (as a while 
ago we should have said distrustfully, but now say in solicitude, 
for the time it will steal from the natural joys of youth) : but 
we left you youngsters to wipe up the mess, and you must 
restore the garden in which we shall walk humbly with you, 

ancients, musical at close of day. 

You will come back, and those who return to the University 
will claim for youth a far larger measure of freedom, as they 

284 To the Front from the Bach 

have earned it ten times over. But as you have always agreed 
with me that Oxford and Cambridge are two of the loveliest 
things in the world each, but for the other, peerless I can 
trust you to deal reverently with this one; for she is yopr 
mother, after all. 


'HpHE TEMPEST' is the first play in the First Folio of 
JL 1623; and this, for aught anybody knows indeed almost 
certainly was its first appearance in print. The Folio, at any 
rate, supplies our only text. Chronologically it is almost the 
last, if not the very last, that Shakespeare wrote. The Folio 
editors, Heminge and Condell, old friends of his and fellow- 
actors, may have given it pride of place for this pious reason, or 
possibly because it had won a striking success at Court when 
presented there in the winter of 1612-13, among many enter- 
tainments that graced the betrothal and nuptials of the Princess 
Elizabeth with the Prince Palatine Elector. John Heminge, as 
foreman of Shakespeare's old company, was paid by Lord 
Harrington, Treasurer of the Chamber of King James I, * upon 
the councells warrant, dated at Whitehall xx die Mai, 1613* his 
bill for producing 'foureteene severall playes' in the course of 
these festivities which were numerous and so costly as to 
embarrass His Majesty's exchequer. The entry (Vertue MSS.) 
specifies these plays, and The Tempest comes sixth on the list. 
It is pleasant and certainly not impossible to believe that, as 
Heminge and Condell have preserved it for us, this play was 
written-up expressly for the betrothal and presented on 
2yth December 1612, the betrothal night of the incomparable 
Queen of Hearts whose name in story is Elizabeth of Bohemia, 

Th' eclipse and glory of her kind. 

For 'beauty vanishes, beauty passes,' but the charm of this 
woman still fascinates the imagination almost as in her life- 
time it won and compelled the souls of men to champion her 
sorrowful fortunes. That it did this that it laid on the nobler 


286 'The Tempest 9 

spirits of her time a spell potent to extravagance and yet so 
finely apportioned as almost to serve us now for a test and 
gauge of their nobility no reader of early seventeenth-century 
biography will deny. The evidence is no less frequent than 
startling. It would almost seem that no 'gentleman* could 
come within the aura but he knelt to Elizabeth of Bohemia, her 
sworn knight: that either he followed thenceforth to the last 
extremity, proud only to serve, or, called away, he departed 
as one who had looked upon a vision which changed all the 
values of life, who had beheld a kingdom of the soul in which 
self and this world were well lost for a dream. We may see 
this strange conversion in Wotton; we may trace it in the 
careers of Donne, of Dudley Carleton and (with a postscript of 
morose disillusion) Lord Herbert of Cherbury. We may read 
it, youthfully and romantically expressed in this well-authenti- 
cated story: 

A company of young men of the Middle Temple met together for 
supper; and when the wine went round the first man rose, and 
holding a cup in one hand and a sword in the other, pledged the health 
of the distressed Princess, the Lady Elizabeth ; and having drunk, he 
kissed the sword, and laying hand upon it, took a solemn oath to live 
and die in her service. His ardour kindled the whole company. 
They all rose, and from one to another the cup and sword went 
round till each had taken the pledge. 

We may see this exuberance carried into steady practice by 
Lord Craven, a Lord Mayor's son, who, having poured blood 
and money in her service, laid his last wealth at her feet to pro- 
vide her a stately refuge and a home. Through all the story 
she granddaughter of Mary of Scotland, mother of Rupert 
of the Rhine rides reckless, feckless, spendthrift, somehow 
ineffably great; conquering all hearts near her, that 

Enamour'd do wish so they might 

But enjoy such a sight, 
That they still were to run by her side 
Thoro' swords, thoro* seas, whither she would ride, 

'The Tempest' 287 

lifting all those gallant hearts to ride with her, for a desperate 
cause, despising low ends, ignoble gain ; to ride with her down 
and nobly over the last lost edge of the world. 

We may take it almost for a certainty that in whatever 
previous form or forms presented this play as we have it was 
the play enacted at Court to grace the Princess Elizabeth's 
betrothal. No argument from internal evidence conflicts with 
this. Gonzalo's description of his ideal Commonwealth 
(n. i. i^6etseqq.) comes out of Florio's translation of Montaigne, 
first published in 1603: and the name 'Caliban* suggests the 
essay 'Of the Canniballes' from which Gonzalo derived his 
wisdom. Ben Jonson most likely has a side thrust at The 
Tempest (and at The Winter's Tale) in his Introduction to 
Bartholomew Fair (acted in October 1614): 'If there be never 
a Servant-monster i' the Fayre, who can help it, he sayes : nor 
a nest of Antiques? Hee is loth to make nature afraid in his 
Playes, like those that beget Tales, Tempests, and such like 
Drolleries' Further, we can easily allow the play to contain 
many passages suggested by the misadventure of the Virginian 
voyage of 1609, when a fleet of nine ships and five hundred 
colonists under command of Sir Thomas Gates and Sir George 
Somers was dispersed by a gale and the flagship, the Sea- 
Adventure, went ashore on the coast of Bermudas, her crew 
wonderfully escaping. That Shakespeare used at least one or 
two out of several pamphlets dealing with this wreck (by 
Silvester Jourdain, by William Strachey, and by 'advise and 
direction of the Councell of Virginia* to mention no others) 
stands above question. But nothing of this is inconsistent 
either with the play's having been presented by the King's 
Players on Hallowmas, 1611, or with its having been recast and 
'revived* for the festivities of the Princess Elizabeth's betrothal. 

Nothing forbids our imagination to repeople the banqueting 
house and recall this bride, this paragon, to seat her in the 
front rank of the ghostly audience : to watch her, a moment 
before the curtain opens, a little reclined, her jewelled wrists,. 

288 'The Tempest 9 

like Cassiopeia's, laid along the arms of her chair; or still to 
watch her as the play proceeds and she affianced and, by 
admission, in love with her bridegroom leans forward with 
parted lips to follow the loves of Ferdinand and Miranda. 

Those who must always be searching for a * source* of every 
plot of Shakespeare's (as though he could invent nothing!) will 
be disappointed in The Tempest. Thomas Warton (or rather, 
Warton misunderstood by Malone) started one false hare by a 
note in his History of English Poetry, vol. iii (1781), that he 
had been 'informed by the late Mr. Collins of Chichester' 
that is, Collins the poet that Shakespeare's Tempest was formed 
on a 'favourite romance,' Aurelio and Isabella^ printed in 1586 
(one volume) in Italian, French, and English, and again in 1588 
in Italian, Spanish, French, and English; the Spanish of Flores 
being the original. But Collins's mind was darkening towards 
madness at the time: and Aurelio, when found, contained 
nothing in common with The Tempest. Others have followed 
the clue of a German play, Die Schone Sidea, written by one 
Jacob Ayrer, a notary of Nuremberg, who died in 1605. There 
is a magician in this drama who is also a prince Prince Ludolph : 
he has a demon or familiar spirit : he has an only daughter too. 
The son of Ludolph's enemy becomes his prisoner, his sword 
being held in sheath by the magician's art. Later, the young 
man is forced to bear logs for Ludolph's daughter. She falls 
in love with him, and all ends happily. The resemblances to 
The Tempest are obvious : and that there was some actual thread 
of connection appears the likelier when we note that 'mountain' 
and 'silver,' two names of the spirit hounds which Prospero 
and Ariel set upon the 'foul conspiracy' (iv. i. 256), occur in 
an invocation of Prince Ludolph's in the German play. It 
may be that Shakespeare used Ayrer's play; for the English 
Comedians were at Nuremberg in 1604, where they may have 
seen Die Schone Sidea^ to bring home the story. But it is just 
as likely that Ayrer's is a version of one they took from England 
to Germany. And, after all, what fairy-tale or folk-tale is 

'The Tempest* 289 

commoner, the world over, than that which combines a witch, 
or wizard, an only daughter, an adventurous prince caught and 
bound to carry logs, etc., with pity and confederate love to 
counteract the spell and bring all right in the end ? 

When we turn to Shakespeare's handling of this story, we 
first admire that which all must admire, the enchantment wherein 
he clothes it, the poetic feeling wherewith he suffuses it. Magic 
and music meet in The Tempest and are so wedded that none 
can put them asunder. 

That was the chirp of Ariel 
You heard, as overhead it flew ; 
The farther going, more to dwell 
And wing our green to wed our blue ; 
But whether note of joy, or knell, 
Not his own Father-singer knew ; 
Nor yet can any mortal tell, 
Save only that it shivers through ; 
The breast of us, a sounded shell, 
The blood of us a lighted dew. 

But when we have paid homage to all this, on second thoughts 
we may find the firm anatomy beneath the robe the mere crafts- 
manship scarcely less wonderful. For The Tempest accepts 
and masters an extreme technical difficulty. No one can react 
Shakespeare's later plays in a block without recognizing that 
the subject which constantly engaged his mind towards the 
close of life was Reconciliation, with pardon and atonement for 
the sins or mistakes of one generation in the young love of the 
children and in their promise. This is the true theme o 
Pericles, Cymbeline, The Winter's Tale, The Tempest, succes- 
sively. But the process of reconciliation especially when 
effected through the appeal of sons and daughters is naturally 
a slow one, and therefore extremely difficult to translate into 
drama, which handles 'the two hours' traffic of our stage' and 
therefore must almost necessarily rely on the piling of circum- 
stance and character upon one crisis and its swiftest possible 

290 'The Tempest 9 

resolution. In attempting to condense such 'romantic' stories 
of reconciliation as he had in his mind, Shakespeare was in fact 
taking up the glove thrown down by Sir Philip Sidney in his 
pretty mockery of bad playwrights. 

Now of time they are much more liberall. For ordinary it is that 
two young Princes fall in love. After many traverses she is got with 
child, delivered of a faire boy, he is lost, groweth a man, falls in love, 
and is ready to get another child, and all this in two hours* space; 
which how absurd it is in sence, even sence may imagine, and Arte 
hath taught, and all ancient examples justified. 

The time supposed to be occupied by the action of Pericles 
is about sixteen years. The Winter's Tale has an interval of 
about sixteen years between its third and fourth acts. The 
chronology of Cymbeline is baffling and in places absurd ; yet it 
must cover many months. The once famous Unity of Time is 
certainly no 'law' : but it is a grace of drama. And after falling 
back on such makeshifts as ancient Gower in Pericles and 
Father Time himself in The Winter's Tale, of a sudden in The 
Tempest our artist triumphantly 'does the trick.' The whole 
action of the play, with the whole tale of ancient wrong un- 
folded, the whole company of injuring and injured gathered 
into a knot, the whole machinery of revenge converted to for- 
giveness all this is managed in about three hours of imagined 
time, or scarcely more than the time of its actual representation 
on the stage. 

The clou of this feat of stagecraft lies in the famous protasis 
of the second scene, where Prospero so naturally unfolds all the 
preliminaries to his daughter. For exquisite use of protasis 
this may be compared with the second scene of Hamlet. Many 
critics have praised it : but we hope that by a few simple stage 
directions we have managed to suggest a beauty which the most 
of them have missed the abstracted mind of Miranda as she 
listens with a kind offeyness to the story so important on which 
her father, having chosen and prepared the moment, so im- 

'The Tempest* 291 

patiently insists. It is, to our thinking, most necessary to 
realize that Miranda is all the while less absorbed by this 
important story than by the sea, out of which her fairy prince 
is surely coming, though his coming be scarcely surmised as 
yet. We shall not understand this play, lacking to understand 
how young impulse forestalls and takes charge, outrunning our 
magician's deliberate contrivance. When Ferdinand and 
Miranda actually meet 

At the first sight 
They have changed eyes. 

For another point, not over-subtle, which the critics would 
seem to have overlooked : It is clear to us that the enchantment 
of the island purposely makes its appearance correspond with 
the several natures of the shipwrecked men who come ashore. 
Gonzalo, the 'honest old councillor,' finds 'our garments rather 
new dyed than stained with salt water.' But Antonio and 
Sebastian cannot see them so. To him 'how lush and lusty 
the grass looks! how green!' Antonio, the total jaundiced 
villain, sees it 'tawny,' the half-corrupt Sebastian detects 'an 
eye of green in V and so on throughout. Gonzalo indeed 
is one of Shakespeare's minor triumphs. He is not left as 
Antigonus, his counterpart in The Winter's Tale was left to 
perish after his kind deed. It was done long ago : but he sur- 
vives, still in his character of loyal-hearted servant, still active 
in loyalty, which in its turn advances the action of the play. 
Is it not a delicate stroke that, when Miranda first hears the story 
of her casting away, of all the shipwrecked company near at 
hand, though she knows it not, this old councillor is the man 
she (being heart-whole yet) most desires to see ? So in the end 
he is not only one of the company that awakes Miranda's cry of 

O wonder I 

How many goodly creatures are there here! 
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world, 
That has such people in 't! 

292 'Tie Tempest 9 

But for him is reserved the final blessing, 

Look down you gods, 

And on this couple drop a blessed crown! 

so unmistakably echoing Hermione's invocation in The Winter s 

You gods, look down, 

And from your sacred vials pour your graces 

Upon my daughter's head! 

Caliban has been over - philosophized by the critics (with 
Renan and Browning to support them). The truth would seem 
to be that Shakespeare, like a true demiurge, had a tendency to 
love his creations, and none the less those whom he shows us 
as gross, carnal, earthy. If it be not unfair to drag Falstaff into 
the comparison, then even as none of us can help loving Falstaff, 
so few of us shall we say? if Caliban came fawning about 
our legs, would be disinclined to pat him on the head with a 
'Good dog! Good monster!' Our sense of justice, too, helps 
this instinct : for, after all, Caliban has the right of it when he 

I must eat my dinner. 

This island 's mine, by Sycorax my mother, 

Which thou tak'st from me : 

and we must remind ourselves that in 1611 and thereabouts 
this dispossession of the aborigine was a very present event, 
however feebly it might touch the imagination, to trouble the 
conscience, of our valorous circumnavigators and colonists. 
Shakespeare, as we conceive him, differed from Rousseau in 
most ways, and not least in immunity from any temptation to 
construct an ideal portrait of the 'noble savage/ But no man 
can be catholic as Shakespeare was without being fair, and so 
(as Hazlitt noted) while the nature of Caliban is the essence of 
grossness, there is not a particle of vulgarity in it. Few have 
remarked how admirably significant as a set-off to Caliban is 
Stephano, type of his predestined conquerors, the tarry, racy, 

''The Tempest 9 293 

absolute British seaman, staggering through this isle of magic 
with a bottle, staring, hiccoughing back against Ariel's invisible 
harp : 

The master, the swabber, the bos'n and I ... 

in extremity to be counted on for the fine confused last word of 
our mercantile marine, 'Every man shift for all the rest.' It is 
hard to over-estimate the solidarity of Stephano and the 'value* 
it gives to the whole fairy picture. 

Many critics have lost their hearts to Miranda and no one has 
excelled Coleridge's praise in delicacy of insight. Let us add 
but this Shakespeare has contrived to mould her of frank 
goodness and yet present her as fascinating, captivating by 
touches so noble that one can hardly conceive the part ade- 
quately rendered save by a princess in real life as noble as she 
an Elizabeth of Bohemia, for example. She moves to her 
appointed happiness with fairies and music about her; but she 
sees no fairies, sings no song, simply walks straight as the 
dictate of her heart directs, and, so walking, steps straight 
beyond the magic her father has woven. This incomparable 
play contains nothing more subtly simple than her unconscious, 
quite fearless, outstripping of all Prospero's premeditated art. 
He has drawn around the island a magic circle as that which 
Ferdinand cannot step across. The play, like A Midsummer 
Night's Dream, plainly celebrates a betrothal and marches to the 
fruition of marriage joy. There is much music in both: in 
both the fairies are made abetters. But whereas in A Mid- 
summer Night's Dream the fairies were Warwickshire elves, 
playing their pranks anarchically, at their own sweet fancy, to 
befool mortals, the more rarefied spirits of The Tempest obey, 
under threat, a mortal's compulsion. But Miranda is for the 
world, gently but fearlessly; on the primal instinct that makes 
homes, builds and populates cities, recreates and rules the race. 
Some have objected that this play does not develop ; that within 
Prospero's charmed circle, for die space of three hours, all stands 

294 'The Tempest 9 

still. In truth a great deal happens, and the ease of its 
happening is a trick of most cunning preparation. 

Who is Prospero? Is he perchance Destiny itself; the 
master-spirit that has brooded invisible and moved in the deep 
waters of the greater tragedies, and now comes to shore on a 
lost nest of the main to sun himself; laying by his robe of 
darkness to play, at his great ease, one last trick before following 
the way of the old gods ? Is he (as Campbell the poet was the 
first to suggest) Shakespeare himself, in this last of his plays 
breaking his wand and drowning his book 'deeper than did 
ever plummet sound'? The lights in the banqueting house 
are out: the Princess Elizabeth is dust: and as for the island 
conjured out of the sea for a night's entertainment: 

From that day forth the Isle has been 
By wandering sailors never seen. 

Ariel has nestled to the bat's back and slid away following 
summer or else 'following darkness like a dream/ But still 
this play abides, after three hundred years, eloquent of Shake- 
speare's slow sun-setting through dream after dream of recon- 
ciliation; forcing tears, not by 'pity and terror* but by sheer 
beauty ; with a royal sense of the world, how it passes away, 
with a catch at the heart surmising hope in what is to come. 
And still the sense is royal : we feel that we are greater than we 
know. So in the surge of our emotion, as on the surges 
rounding Prospero's island, is blown a spray, a mist. Actually 
it dims our eyes: and as we brush it away, there rides on it a 
rainbow; and its colours are chastened wisdom, wistful charity; 
\uth forgiveness, tender ruth for all men and women growing 
older, and perennial trust in young love. 


May 9th, 1925 

Mr. Mayor, Ladies and Gentlemen, 


BECAUSE this occasion is, for 'a little clan,' a monumental 
one : and because the memory of Keats seems to me in some 
danger of being over-laboured just now: I shall try to recall 
you to some of those simplicities which always best become a 
simple monument. 

But first let me congratulate you, Mr. Mayor, upon the 
occasion : 

There may be cities that refuse 

To their own child his honours due. 

But Hampstead is not one of these. Always in Hampstead, 
going by its walks or on the edge of its heath, any man of letters 
must be haunted by thoughts which seem to him almost 
memories: of a great literary tradition merging still please 
Heaven! into a great literary future. Still of the town, yet 
not of the town but fragrant, on the country's rim these 
ghosts, thoughts, memories, accompany or tread close on the 
musing mind. A statue or an obelisk were an offence to the 
genius loci ; which pursues rather along the shade of a paling or 
under a tree that in a time before ours once 

in a drear-nighted December 

showed a part of its frosted branches to the lamp-light, or in 
spring budded to arrest a poet's step on your pathways or 
broke into leaf and held, on this verge over London, an immortal 
nightingale captive. 


296 An Address at the Opening of Keats House 


And so, sir, it is surely to Hampstead's credit, that you have 
chosen, instead of obelisk or statue, to preserve this simple 
house in perpetuity for a memorial of John Keats. In this 
house he agonized with love and despondency: on a bed in a 
chamber above us he read in a drop of blood his death warrant: 
from the door beyond that passage he departed on his last 
journey brave and hopeless as Henry Fielding on his last 
voyage. In the dim garden outside yonder pane of glass he 
heard die Hampstead nightingale and translated that song 'not 
born for death' into human speech as near to heavenly as any 
we can dare to snatch out of this transitory life to call immortal. 
. . . Still on the edge and shadow of that trench untimely 
digged we invoke that genius, fleet as water, 'writ in water/ 

Still are thy pleasant voices, thy nightingales awake : 
For Death he taketh all away: but them he cannot take! 

'Men are we and must mourn.' Mentem mortalia tangunt. But 
here, sir, in this room in this house you preserve almost all 
that a decent, necessary piety can preserve. 


Let me say frankly that your guest, whom you over-compli- 
ment by standing him here, could do very well without any 
memorials beyond the poems themselves beyond the great 
odes (say), some sonnets, La Belle Dame sans Merci, The Eve 
of St. Agnes, Hyperion, and lines of Endymion chanted in the ear 
of his own youth. These and such things are to me the pure, 
the mere, the miraculous, the only considerable Keats. 

I assert this in face of a most formidable company, far more 
learned than I : and I assert it in this haunted house. Through 
its chamber walks and now must walk the shade of Fanny 

An Address at the Opening of Keats House 297 

Brawne, by the favour of whose granddaughter, present to- 
night, many mementoes have been bestowed as its treasure. 
I shall say but a word of Fanny Brawne. She was young, 
sprightly (as she had, by virtue of her graces, a right to be), 
and as Touchstone said to Jaques 

if ladies be but young and fair, 
They have the gift to know it. 

That Keats tortured himself over his passion for her is, of 
course, evident from his published letters. But one guesses 
that he would, in his febrile breaking health, have tortured him- 
self almost equally in any passionate flame. She was not (if 
you will) the woman for him. But ask yourselves, of your 
experience of life, Who could have been ? The few words she 
discreetly left of him in her later married life are sensible and 
most tender. Let us leave it at that. I wish, for my part, 
that the letters had never been exhumed. But they were : and 
they do her no harm. 


For we know do we not? that to any actual Keats any 
Fanny Brawne can never be the woman we criticize as sprightly 
or worldly or of breeding and self-possession, but is always an 
ideal creation in a lover's brain. Oh, believe me, ladies and 
gentlemen, you can as soon explain a play of Shakespeare's by 
imagining him in search along his shelves for his next plot, as 
you can explain Keats by Fanny Brawne, Fanny Brawne by 
Keats, or Dulcinea del Toboso by any process but that of Don 
Quixote's brain. There is a little of the poet in every man 
here : and if we did not all, rough men, poetize somewhat our 
selected mates, I ask you, How could the world go on ? Who, 
above all, is to select mates for poets? What expert? What 
official? No, they must do it for themselves, and unhappily 
when they don't at first succeed they too often try, try again. 

298 An Address at the Opening of Keats House 

Edward FitzGerald, to my thinking the best critic of his 
Victorian contemporaries, took up the love-letters of Keats 
straight after a study of Catullus: and (wrote he) to James 
Russell Lowell but let me pause upon that name to regret 
that Miss Amy Lowell, whose two erudite massive volumes 
on Keats almost make me afraid to speak, weighing ' as an ox 
on my tongue/ cannot be here to-night as she intended. Let 
us all wish her a happy and speedy recovery! 

To resume Edward FitzGerald wrote (February 18, 1878) : 

When Keats came, I scarce felt a change from Catullus, both such 
fiery Souls as wore out their Bodies early; and I can even imagine 
Keats writing such filthy Libels against any one he had a spite against, 
even Armitage Brown, had Keats lived 2,000 years ago. 

Yes, and for two other reasons I connect always in my mind 
these two Thalia's sons Keats with Catullus: these two who 
died in their prime, died at apparently such spendthrift irreparable 
waste of the god's promise ; died early because forsooth the gods 
loved them. For the first reason (which may seem trivial, but 
is not when searched) both passionately loved their family, their 
brothers. Catullus's Prater ave atque vale has come sighing to 
us down the ages, to be taken up and continued by Keats's 
devotional tears and lament over 'poor Tom': and who can 
forget that picture of little John Keats, aged seven or there- 
abouts, posting himself sentry in his night-shirt with a sword 
outside his mother's sick-room that picture which FitzGerald 
so often and urgently begged Millais to paint? 


But records of children and brothers wildly devoted are 
common enough, you will say. Well then, for my second 
point of likeness, I say that of these two poets, when all the 
dross of their work has been sifted out, the residue is absolute 

An Address at ine Opening oj Keats House 299 

gold, pure and proof against whatever touchstone brought. 
And therefore can any one name two stars in literature over 
whom we more wonder at even though we upbraid not 
the gods for slaying their darlings young, over whose twin 
trench we stretch more yearning impotent hands ? Says Robert 
Bridges : 

If one English poet might be recalled to-day from the dead to 
continue the work which he left unfinished on earth, it is probable 
that the crown of his country's desire would be set on the head of 
John Keats. 

An idle regret, on an idle speculation! True: as all regrets, 
all speculations, wander around the foreknowing path of the 
gods as Keats himself, for example, wanders in the maze of 


An idle speculation! It might have been that, relieved of 
personal disease and selfish torment (a part of it), Keats had 
opened the door wider on that larger vision revealed in Hyperion. 

' High Prophetess/ said I, ' purge off 
Benign, if so it please tliee, my mind's film* 
'None can usurp this height,' return'd that Shade, 
* But those to whom the miseries of the world 
Are miseries, and will not let them rest.' 

As idle the regret! 

There are no voices, O Rhodope! that are not soon mute, how- 
ever tuneful : there is no name, with whatever emphasis of passionate 
love repeated, of which the echo is not faint at last. 

Catullus is dead : Keats is dead : and the ghost of the girl he 
idealized has gone out, somewhere, to dance and wear away, if 
she can, 'the everlasting flint.' But here is the house inhabited, 
out yonder the tree, the garden, the listener to that song not 
born for death while poetry lasts. 

300 An Address at the Opening of Keats House 


I have personal reason to know, sir, the domesticity which 
guards and respects, for the mere sake, even quite modest 
literature in Hampstead. I have real reason to know how far 
from this clearer height over London even a faint invalid voice 
can travel for the good of an uncounted many. Hampstead is 
not a parade-ground of authors, nor a campo santo for tall 
monuments. It is and has been, in gentle pre-eminence and 
dignity, a home of genius. I like, sir, to think it our way to 
celebrate even our most illustrious poets in this modest, homely 
fashion: that as, a few days ago, Englishmen gathered in a 
country churchyard to honour Gray, so we to-night have 
gathered to this house of Keats as a shrine in your city. 


Given at the Twenty-seventh Annual Dinner of the Edinburgh 
Sir Walter Scott Club, Nov. 26, 1926 

My Lord Provost, My Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen, 


YOU have cast far for a President this year, though you 
might of course have found many nearer and more eminent 
better able certainly to acknowledge the honour which, at 
this moment, naturally oppresses the heart and tongue. But 
you could not (and this must be my justification), though you 
flung your net in waters far remoter than the caves of Cornwall 
where lies my home, have dragged up a more inveterate (shall 
I say a more crustacean ?) lover of that great man whose memory 
an admitted Southron must presently, by the privilege of invita- 
tion, invite you to honour. 


You know by report that I lecture at Cambridge and there 
have sometimes to lecture upon Shakespeare. That is a career 
to which, as few Professors can escape it, some evolutionary 
instinct of self-protection has taught us to adapt ourselves. 

But sometimes, dealing with Shakespeare, I have harked back 
upon Scott; and have pondered upon the different ways which 
history has chosen to assign her record of the two greatest 
imaginative writers in our literature. 

To Shakespeare, she has left 'a local habitation and a name/ 
What else? Truly we know nothing apart from a very few 
constated facts and a vast deal of trumpery gossip. 


302 A Toast to the Memory of Sir Walter Scott 

But of Scott, that other inspired charmer of souls, we know 
far more (probably) than has ever been recorded of any writer 
in history. Apart from his own industrious prefaces and notes 
and appendixes, we have not only the monumental Life by his 
son-in-law Lockhart perhaps next to BoswelPs Johnson the 
finest biography in our language (you Scots hold the palm in 
biography anyway) but letters and journals, etc., line upon 
line, revelation upon familiar revelation of the actual man. 


And there is the difference. Theoretically would you really 
wish ought any of us really to wish to know more of 
Shakespeare than we do? I ask, would you confidently wish 
it? I know this is a bold question. But I would ask you the 
like of Homer. Do we really want more for our image of 
Homer than the words of the hymn attributed to him? 
'Farewell, O maidens of Delos, and hereafter if any stranger 
landing on your beach should inquire "Who was the sweetest 
singer ever sung to you?" make answer to him modestly 
"Sir, he was just a blind man and came (he said) from rocky 
Chios."' All the * Lives' of Shakespeare when the pot is 
skimmed boil down to this that there was a boy in Stratford 
who left it to try his fortune with the London theatre-people, 
learned to write superbly but still hankered after his native banks 
of Avon, and ended as a neighbour respected by his neighbours 
a man not forgetting his roots. As Bagehot remarks in effect, 
of the passage in Venus and Adonis describing the tremors of a 
hare aroused at sound of his pursuers, 'Who says, after this, 
that we know nothing of Shakespeare ? We know that he had 
once been after a hare.' 

Now what I come to, my Lord Provost, is this, that of Scott 
apart from the operation of genius, which is always a mystery 
we are left with no mystery at all, and we want none. 

A Toast to the Memory of Sir Walter Scott 303 

We know that this Wizard of the North wore no Prospero's 
mantle, that he drew no cabalistic circle save that of the writing- 
lamp under which his figures Di' Vernon or Jeanie Deans, 
Marmion or Richard of England, Edie Ochiltree or Dugald 
Dalgetty weave their dance at his call. We know that he, 
too, had been after a hare : after a salmon too, and the running 
deer. But we see this man, alike in his poems and novels and 
in his own life so amply recorded, as almost the sincerest figure 
of a great Scots gentleman c the Shirra' totus teres : a figure so 
vivid, so sincere and simple, that only certain great simple 
characters in fiction Don Quixote, My Uncle Toby, the Vicar 
of Wakefield, Mr. Pickwick occupy in our affection a place 
comparable with this actual man, who rode Ettrick and survives 
to us, himself as romantic as any of the characters he created. 


A month or two since, sir your Club's invitation giving me 
excuse to satisfy an old craving, one of those which conceived 
in boyhood are so often deferred to the lazier daily task which 
nevertheless must be done I made pious pilgrimage through a 
good part of the Border. The weather was perfect, the sky 
clear blue above those enfolding hills ; the hillsides were sheeted 
down in such green enchantment as ever ringed Thomas the 
Rymer beneath Eildon Tree. And I tell you, sir, that at every 
lap of the hills under circuitous Tweed I could see the Shirra 
riding down on his grey pony a figure held somehow in the 
imagination of one's boyhood, inseparable even then between 
adoration of his writings and love of their author. On a return 
from some of these pilgrimages there followed a Sunday night o 
thunderstorm, memorable (I was told) even in these parts, and 
next day, visiting Lasswade for the site of his early farm- 
steading, I learned what Esk could do in spate, and knew again 
this younger man with his lame leg pressed to the saddle-flap 
daring (as Lockhart tells) the fords. 

304 A Toast to the Memory of Sir Walter Scott 

They tell us nowadays that Romance is dead and Scott 
neglected. Romance is never dead. As our greatest living 
Romantic puts it, Romance brings up the 9.15 ; and she always 
will. But there has been some neglect of Scott among lecturers 
and school masters, who still talk indefatigably of the Romantic 
Movement or a Romantic Revival, of which he and Byron were 
the tallest champions. Some while ago your new President, 
Professor Grierson, gave us a most vivifying lecture on the word 
'Romantic' and I had shamefacedly to confess, when thanking 
him for it afterwards, I did quite recently advise my pupils that 
for a time we should give the words 'Romantic* and 'Classical* 
a rest. Of course I was wrong. We can never give even the 
word 'Romantic' a rest; but I was thinking of an admired 
lecturer who came to Cambridge and advertised a series of 
lectures on the Romantic Revival. Some of my pupils came 
to me to read some of the poetry of the early nineteenth century, 
and when I asked what passages of Byron had been recom- 
mended to them they admitted that Byron had not been included 
in the syllabus. I forget if Scott was. But Byron! 'God 
shield us, a lion among ladies!' 

Nay, I regret to say that, but yesterday, I had read to me a 
chapter of my old friend Sir Walter Raleigh On Writing and 
Writers the chapter was entitled On the Decline and Fall of 
Romanticism in Nineteenth-Century Poetry. Now as they used 
to say at Oxford 'Raleigh was a prince'; he was at any rate a 
man of his hands; above all Professors the man who despised 
lecturing, as he put it, 'for the school ma'am'; and although he 
had much to say for the impetus which made the Romantic 
Movement, I sought in vain for the name of Scott. Burns was 
mentioned. Many years ago I found myself in very hot water 
through asking innocently in a weekly paper why Scotsmen 
spent such a disproportionate amount of enthusiasm on Burns 
as compared with Scott. I shall not revive that controversy 

A Toast to the Memory of Sir Walter Scott 305 

to-night, for fear of physical violence, save to say that had I the 
honour to be one of Scott's countrymen I would beat the racial 
tomtom in his honour above all other men of your jealous race. 

But, sir, I remember here, that I am a Professor, and as such, 
perhaps, have my only justification for the honour of addressing 
you if I can find it. 

Well, to begin with, I do not see how any professorial talk 
consorts with an occasion like this, at so many of which Scott 
himself assisted and (according to Hogg) could out-toast all 
compotators, for the final toast standing with one leg on his 
chair the other (lame) on the table, after what I understand to 
have been a laudable national custom. It still is, maybe: but 
I hope to be excused presently from that challenge. 1 


But of Scott as a writer let me just say three words and those 
very briefly: 

In the first place few men, I think, unless or until their business 
obliges them to follow some way into English (I hardly dare 
add Scottish) literature, can realize how much this man had 
read, digested and known; in a word what a scholar he was, 
how careless in grace, yet how profound. I can only bring my 
own tribute of testimony to this, for what it is worth. But it 
happens that for some years I have been working on the 
comedies of Shakespeare, and always I am finding, in stray 
footnote or recollection or hint, that Scott somehow, somewhere, 
has been there before. It is not, as it is with Johnson, always 
a definite pronouncement of common-sense. I should com- 
pare it rather with Dante's search for a literary language among 
the Italian dialects of his time. Always ahead of us, as Dante 
says, is ' the panther of our quest ' ; in no province his abiding 
lair. So, in early literature, nowhere is Scott's abiding lair, yet 

1 The speaker was himself temporarily a cripple, through an accident. 

306 A Toast to the Memory of Sir Walter Scott 

always Scott has been that way always in reading Scott, in 
almost any dozen pages, say of the Talisman or of Nigel, we are 
haunted by undertones, overtones of Shakespeare : so, reading 
Shakespeare, you catch, borne back out of somewhere on a 
whisper, the horn of elfland blowing, the music of the leading 
hound : 

Long I follow'd happy guides, 

I could never reach their sides ; 

Their step is forth and, ere the day 

Breaks, up their leaguer and away . . . 

On eastern hills I see their smokes 

Mix'd with mist by distant lochs. 

So it is with any one who has once surrendered his mind to 
these two, our most imaginative writers. 


He had, we know, an incomparable gift of verbal memory : 
comparable only in the next generation with that of your other 
countryman, Macaulay. All records attest it, even if we dis- 
count those of that egregious Shepherd (if in this company I 
may call him so) whose effigy to-day sits, as somebody ordained 
it to be, on a brae over sweet St. Mary's Loch, irremoveable as 
the Shepherd himself was when for the best part of two days 
and nights he sat attendant upon the conversation of Scott and 
John Murray, the publisher. But this gift of memorizing, while 
a respectable mystery to me, can be shared by any ' Calculating 
Boy.' The real mystery to me, sir, is the understanding that 
went with it, and communicated itself all over Europe. 

Here was a man, intensely and actively conservative : a hater 
of the French Revolution and all it meant : a close clannish Scot, 
moreover to whom his family ties and Tweed were Jordan 
and meant more than any Abana or Pharpar, rivers of Damascus. 
And yet from the circle of his writing-lamp radiated a something 
that made all European literature different. Even as, from a 

A Toast to the Memory of Sir Walter Scott 307 

little monastery in Jarrow, Bede's candle cast its beam across 
fen marsh and channel fog to the Continent and Charlemagne's 
court, so the Waverley novels reached our dear enemy France 
and (more than ever Byron did, the more admired) rekindled 
romance over Europe. That is my second wonder who talk 
to you as a man of letters : and I must leave it at that. 

But let me fetch back the recollections from the far away 
nineties to which I suppose I must date myself. In those days 
our dear enemy France was getting back, as they say, something 
of her own, by opposing new Realism to the old Romance and 
uniting it with the anxious cultivation of style, the search for 
the exact word le mot juste. Flaubert and de Maupassant 
were models in those days; with Tourguenieff, who was a 
Russian, but spent his life in exile in Paris. We sought back 
to Balzac and Stendhal too. But a man there was, to rescue us 
from the desert of Realism one gallant Scotsman, the adored 
of us all, hopeless beyond our imitation, who kept the flag of 
Scott flying and carried it till he fell. I mean of course Robert 
Louis Stevenson. 

My Lord Provost, while Scotland stands where it did it 
is impossible that Romance should die: this very gathering 
to-night testifies that it yet fervently lives. 


For my third and last point of remark, I must (how shall I 
put it?) hitch up an old shooting-jacket between two wizard 
robes that of the younger Scott, the poet, and the mature 
Scott of the novels (prolific, strong, then wearied, broken, 
but yet carrying through with honour, to the end). And I 
find, or try to find, some reconciliation of the two literary 
Walter Scotts in this 

All readers of all records, letters, anecdotes, must wonder, 
in these times, at the boisterous animal spirits of the man. He 
had always a fund of them let me put it more than sufficient 

308 A Toast to the Memory of Sir Walter Scott 

for his immediate purposes, or for those of his friends over 
whose misadventures in his company he would laugh till the 
tears ran down his cheeks, whether he or they took a toss off 
horseback into a bog, or were sunk in a coracle at salmon- 
spearing and must swim for it in the perilous dark. So he 
would have rocked with laughter at the spectacle of a man 
pursuing his hat down the Canongate. There is a Homeric 
simplicity in all Scott's laughter; and to that same Homeric 
simplicity we owe and, criticizing, yet bless the rush and spate 
of his verse in The Lay y and in Marmion. Monckton Milnes, 
Lord Houghton, doubted in verse if our forefathers were really 
finer fellows than the best of later years : but he noted in verse 
one gallant difference: 

To them was life a simple art 

Of duties to be done, 
A game where each man took his part, 

A race where all must run ; 
A battle whose great scheme and scope 

They little cared to know, 
Content as men-at-arms to cope 

Each with his fronting foe. 

Man now his Virtue's diadem 

Puts on and proudly bears : 
Great thoughts, great feelings came to them 

Like instincts, unawares. 
Blending their soul's sublimest needs 

With tasks of every day, 
They went about their gravest deeds 

As noble boys at play. 

And I suggest to you that this same store of Homeric (or if 
you prefer it) of Sabine vigour carried Scott through. It is 
nonsense to say that in the novels he is no artist. Beginning 
with a wayward loose rein in Waverley^ he runs loose again in 
Guy Mannering, and then, in The Antiquary, finds himself. 

A Toast to the Memory of Sir Walter Scott 309 

Who will say that The Antiquary is not great constructive art? 
Or that Old Mortality, The Heart of Midlothian, Redgauntlet 
are not master-works? Those prosperous happy years, by 
Lockhart with how delicate a familiarity described ! Thenafter 
the tale of ruin, of 'all lost save honour' and still of honour 
winning through. I shall not touch on this, sir, save to suggest 
that even the bravest knight, not carried through on the almost 
spent tide of Scott's amazing vitality, must have gone down 
under the waves. 


At the very close almost broken and near spent he came 
to his native city, to make his will. A spell of most violent 
weather immured him, and his good friend Mr. Cadell persuaded 
him to remove to the hospitable house in Atholl Crescent, 
where for several days he wrote manfully at Count Robert of 
Paris. There, pestered by his publisher Ballantyne for an 
omitted motto, he moved to the window, gazed out on the 
whirl of the storm, and invented the few lines, subscribed The 
Deluge, that form the motto of Chapter V : 

The storm increases ; 'tis no sunny shower 
Fostered in the moist breath of March or April, 
Or such as parched Summer cools his lips with. 
Heaven's windows are flung wide; the inmost deeps 
Call in hoarse greeting one upon another; 
On comes the flood in all its foaming horrors, 
And where 's the dike shall stop it ? 

My Lord Provost, I have seen (I say) and could not help 
seeing the solid vision of this full-blooded high-mettled man 
riding down to dangerous fords by Tweed and Esk and Yarrow: 
I have heard the ripple of his river under Abbotsford and walked 
back up the meadow to assure myself that what Lockhart tells is 
not fable : it may well have been the last quiet music lulling him. 
But here, in the story I have quoted, is Mr. Valiant-for-Truth 

3io A Toast to the Memory of Sir Walter Scott 

riding down to the last wildest ford of all, always the great man, 
bequeathing his sword to any that can deserve it, his great bow 
to any that can bend it. 

And I say speaking from my heart, and from my know- 
ledge, such as it is that no writer of this island has left at once 
so much of his genius abiding in the world for its clean delight, 
so much invention to entrance so many young and old, so 
gallant and good an example of good living, as has this exemplar 
of a great Scottish gentleman whose most noble memory I now 
ask you, mesdames and sirs, rising to pledge. 

My Lord Provost, my lords, ladies and gentlemen, I lift my 
glass with you to the well-beloved memory of Walter Scott. 



I HAVE a knack, perhaps an ungrateful one, of forgetting my 
stories almost as soon as they are written ; with an incurable 
habit of persisting on my own line, careless if my audience 
dwindle or no. I have still and at my time of life it may be 
pardonably asserted the assurance that I have been able, in 
various ways, to touch many hearts, and am still able to 
touch some. 

They are few, perhaps, just now; and may yet dwindle, while 
professors talk of ' the Romantic Movement ' as though a spirit 
enjoyed a period, to pass into a dead thing, to be classified. 

It is not a dead thing. In the race that has bred Drake, 
Wotton, Peterborough, Scott, Gordon, it must ever revive and 
recur. And I ask to be remembered for no more than this 
that, while he lived through a time of unpopularity, one man 
held on his way in that faith. 

I might plead many things on behalf of romance, but will 
confine myself to one plea, taking Scott for my illustration 
or Dickens, if you will. The worlds they drew were kindly 
worlds, if extravagant ; worlds in which, as in the quieter worlds 
of Jane Austen or Trollope, it was a privilege to live. They, 
as did Goldsmith and Fielding before them, took our span of life 
as companionable, humorous, on the whole making for good. 

Now to drive at practice any clever fellow can pull faces 
at humanity and deride it; as any one with little expense can 
invent mishaps and misunderstandings. A novelist who traffics 
with sex and suicide, domestic bickerings and disillusions, is 
playing the very easiest game in the world. Any illiterate can 
make a 'hit* with such a theme, if his mind be of the sort to 
descend to it. But to people a wide stage with characters at 


312 A Sexagenarians Apologia 

once good (as most are) and brave, in patience or adventure 
that is the artist's test, as it seems to me. It means that in 
growing he has learnt to judge his fellow-sinners charitably, 
and to help them, before he leaves a world of all sorts in which 
it has been worth while to live. 


I HAD parted, at the Cambridge Post Office, with a young 
friend of parts who 'deplores* (as he puts it) our whole 
heritage of English poetry and holds with reason that it ought 
to make a fresh start. Musing on this assurance of his, on 
my way to the Botanic Garden, and resigning myself, as my 
custom is, to grieving 

when even the Shade 
Of that which once was great is passed away, 

I encountered two long lines of men on opposite sides of the 
thoroughfare; the one drawing, or seeking to draw, unem- 
ployment pay; the other taking, or seeking to take, tickets 
for Gilbert-and-Sullivan Opera. 

'Ah, there,' thought I, 'after all, the last enchantment of the 
Victorian age has captured you, my lads, and holds you by 
the Achilles' tendon!' For I recognize your faces. You are 
the same that, the other day, were affecting to despise 

Come down, O maid, from yonder mountain height 

O lyric love, half angel and half bird! 

But as soon as it comes to 'Tit- willow!' or 'The Policeman's 
lot is not a happy one,' you are held and ' laid by the heel.' 

Now I wish to inquire into this and the reason of it; and, 
believe me, not sardonically. My first introduction to Gilbert- 
and-Sullivan Opera dates back to an amateur performance of 
H.M.S. Pinafore that enchanted a child. The first play I ever 
saw in a London theatre was Patience, in the course of its first 
run at the Ope"ra Comique. As an undergraduate I have taken 
as much trouble as any of you to listen to The Sorcerer, Princess 
Ha, The Mikado ; and my own two favourites, lolanthe and 
The Gondoliers, still conjure up by association all manner of 

314 Lecture on W. S. Gilbert 

happy memories. I yet can surrender myself (at intervals) to 
Gilbert-and-Sullivan with an abandon you may ascribe to the 
natural gaiety of declining years, or to sentimentality which 
you will. Let that pass: for, with your leave, the question 
affects not me but you. Why do you who expend so much 
cleverness .in deriding the more serious contemporaries of 
W. S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan, yet experimentally confess 
to this one most typically late- Victorian enthusiasm which binds 
your spiritual contemporaries with your fathers and grandfathers ? 
You at any rate will not plead you, who follow so eagerly 
all the many experiments of our Festival Theatre in substituting 
mechanics for drama that you cling to a tradition of the 
provinces. That provincial audiences flock to these operas 
even as you do ; that amateurs throughout England spend their 
winters in rehearsing one and another of them ; that regularly, 
in the week following Easter, the railways convey down baskets 
of regulation wigs and costumes from Covent Garden to remote 
towns and Village Institutes all this is certain. 


Now this, when we consider how typically late- Victorian these 
operas are how limited in range of idea, even of invention 
how much of their quiddity (in Patience, for example) belongs 
to its hour in a past era; may well give us a shock. It might 
also give me occasion to ask, why some of you, and those not 
the least intelligent, haunt these operas, although in clever 
debate you think it not unseemly to deride Meredith for a 
mountebank and Tennyson for a maiden aunt. 

But I seem to know you too well to believe that in your 
heart of hearts you cherish any such foolish opinions, at any 
rate ineradicably, or truly believe Gilbert and Sullivan to be the 
lone Dioscuri of our late- Victorian night. Let us start on the 
plain common ground that, after fifty years or so, their work 
continues to delight young and old, and try to account for it. 

Lecture on W. S. Gilbert 315 


The appeal of music being, by virtue of its indefiniteness, so 
much more elusive of date than the spoken or written word, 
and especially if the subject be at all * topical/ shall we hold that 
Gilbert survives mainly through Sullivan's music? Vaguely 
we may feel Sullivan's melody to be as Victorian as are Gilbert's 
plots and tricks and whole theatrical concept; but these, having 
to be framed in words and on lines of logic and topsy-turvy 
logic is yet logic and the basis of Gilbert's wit can be brought 
to tests which music airily eludes. They are written in words 
and can be attacked in words; and must continue to suffer this 
comparative disadvantage until critics of music find a method of 
expressing their likes and dislikes by musical notation. 

But no; this explanation will not serve. For Gilbert, very 
much of his period and exposed to all the perils which must 
beset any man who would attract a theatrical audience by wit 
and song, was yet (if you will search his libretti) extremely wary 
of topical allusions that might date him. In Patience^ to be 
sure (one of his earliest), he shot at, and winged, a passing 
mode. But save for a passing allusion to the late Captain Shaw 
of London's Fire Brigade and a somewhat pointed one in 
Utopia, Limited to the light refreshment provided for debutantes 
at Queen Victoria's Dfawing-Rooms, you will seek his work 
in vain for topical references. To be sure, in H.M.S. Pinafore 
(his earliest success) he poked obvious fun at Mr. W. H. Smith, 
First Lord of the Admiralty : but there exists a most illuminating 
letter of his in which he hopes he has removed all suspicion of 
personal offence by indicating that the victim was a Liberal 
a letter which should be a locus classicus for research into the 
ultimate obtuseness of wit. Dealing with his times as he knew 
them, he could not of course foresee that events would in time 
blunt the application of one of his neatest shafts the sentry's 
song in lolanthe. But I think we may agree that in this slow- 
moving country of ours Gilbert's raillery has worn as well as 

316 Lecture on W. S. Gilbert 

the absurd institutions against which he not too seriously aimed. 
They are accustomed to that sort of thing, and have allowed him 
to wear just as well as they have worn. 

I suggest that if you mark and note this avoidance of topical 
allusion in Gilbert, you will come to the conclusion with me 
that, the man considered himself as one writing for posterity, 
as carefully at least as Horace Walpole did in composing his 
familiar letters to Horace Mann. But on this point I shall 
presently have more evidence to bring. For the moment let 
his many years' survival stand for presumptive evidence that 
Gilbert wrote with intent to last. 

This intention apart, it were unjust to hold that Gilbert lives 
by the grace of Sullivan. Offenbach's music was as tunable as 
Sullivan's and belonged to its age as closely. But Offenbach 
lacked good librettists, and for this reason you do not stand in 
long files to buy tickets for Offenbach. You may say that 
you do not for the more obvious reason that his operas are 
never presented in England nowadays; but the true reason, if 
you search for it, is that Offenbach never found his poet, his 
twin mind. Now Gilbert and Sullivan lived each by the grace 
of the other. Habitually, in actual practice, Gilbert wrote first, 
plot and lyric, and Sullivan followed; which is the only right 
order in the making of an opera, and was convincingly the 
right order in the making of these men's operas. For the 
contribution which Sullivan brought was not only his genius 
for melody, nor a wit that jumped with Gilbert's, nor a separate 
and musical wit which revelled in parody. Priceless as these 
gifts undoubtedly were, above them all (I think) we must reckon 
the quite marvellous sense of words in all his musical settings. 
You may examine number after number of his, and the more 
closely you examine the more will you be convinced that no 
composer ever lived with an exacter appreciation of words, their 
meaning, their due emphasis, their right articulation. A singer 
must be a fool indeed if you do not hear through Sullivan's 
notes the exact language of any song. Take, for example, the 

Lecture on W. S. Gilbert 317 

well-known Sentry Song in lolanthe and attempt to unwed the 
wit of the air from the wit of the thought and words; or take 
the Lord Chancellor's song in the same play : 

The law is the true embodiment 
Of everything that 's excellent, 
It has no kind of fault or flaw 
And I, my Lords, embody the law, 

and note how Sullivan subdues the air to something almost 
commonplace and almost silly, but just so as to bring out the 
intention of demure absurdity, with allowance for every syllable 
and room for the gesture in the fourth line. Yet should you 
think he is subduing himself to anything but his artistry, turn 
to the great duet in The Sorcerer, or to the robust Handelian 
burlesque that winds up * He remains an Englishman J in H.M.S. 
Pinafore, and mark how riotously his own wit takes charge 
when Gilbert's gives it the rein. 


Gilbert had the advantage of setting the themes and domi- 
nating the stage-management of the operas. But before we 
call his the master-spirit (which by no means implies that it was 
the more valuable) in the combination, let us take a little evi- 
dence from the actors and singers they commanded. Remind 
yourselves that these two men, when they started at the old 
Opra Comique, off the Strand, had to work with the cheapest 
material. The 'brassiness* of the orchestra during the first run 
of Pinafore the combined incompetence in Patience of the 
vocalists as actors and of the actors as vocalists would be 
incredible to-day even if faithfully reproduced to eye and ear. 
In that first run of Patience one or two of the cast could act a 
little, one or two could sing a little; Miss Rosina Brandram alone, 
asserting that there would be too much of her in the coming 
by and by, could do both. 

But these two men, combining upon an idea, turned even 

318 Lecture on W. S. Gilbert 

shortness of means to their service. They found themselves in 
the position long and vainly required by a neighbour of mine, a 
great gardener *I want an intelligent fellow ready to plant 
a cabbage upside down without questioning.' Having at first 
a stage so inexpensive, a cast which had to listen and obey, 
they imposed their idea, or ideas, with a tyranny to which 
countless anecdotes bear witness. 

The most of these anecdotes are of Gilbert : but Sullivan, if 
less irascible in rehearsal, appears to have been almost as 
ruthless. Here is the musical procedure, as related by George 
Grossmith who knew it if any man did : 

The music is always learned first. The choruses, finales, etc., are 
composed first in order; then the quartets, the trios; the songs last. 
Sometimes, owing to changes and re-writing, these are given out to 
the singers very late (so late that the singer sometimes found less 
difficulty in learning the new tune than in unlearning the old one). 
The greatest interest is evinced by all as the new vocal numbers 
arrive . . . Sullivan will come suddenly, a batch of MS. under his 
arm, and announce that there is something new. He plays ovei the 
new number the vocal parts only are written. The conductor 
listens and watches and, after hearing them played over a few times, 
contrives to pick up all the harmonies, casual accompaniments, etc. 
Sullivan is always strict in wishing that this music shall be sung 
exactly as he has written it. One of the leading performers was 
singing an air at rehearsal, not exactly dividing the notes as they were 
written, giving the general form as it were. * Bravo ! ' said Sullivan, 
*that is really a very good air of yours. Now, if you have no 
objection, I will ask you to sing mine.' 

But the little finger of Gilbert at rehearsal would be thicker 
than Sullivan's loins. He kept at home a small model stage, 
made to scale, and a box or boxes of tiny bricks varying in 
height and colour. These he would group ,and re-group in 
endless patient stage-management until satisfied just where and 
just how at any given moment any actor should be standing. 
Then he would come to the theatre and, moving everybody 

Lecture on W. S. Gilbert 319 

about as on a chessboard, start to bully them into speaking 
to his exact wish. To quote Grossmith again: 

The music rehearsals are child's play in comparison with the stage 
rehearsals. Mr. Gilbert is a perfect autocrat, insisting that his words 
shall be delivered, even to an inflexion of the voice, as he dictates. 
He will stand on the stage and repeat the words, with appropriate 
action, over and over again until they are delivered as he desires. 

Add that Gilbert, on top of a detestable temper, had a tongue 
like a whip-lash : and well, you see, as any of you who wish 
to be artists must learn in some way, sooner or later, that there 
is not only a pleasure in poetic pains but a tax upon human 
pains for poetic pleasure. 

If I have established that Gilbert's is a dominant, even tyranni- 
cal, brain in these plays which you find so delightful, let us go 
on to deal with them a little after the manner of Aristotle. 
Obviously they obey Aristotle in preferring plot to character, 
even though by inversion: for, his plots being always legal 
rather than moral in their topsy-turviness (Gilbert, you know, 
was a barrister and made his first success as a playwright in 
Trial by Jury\ his characters behave always on a topsy-turvy 
legal logic a logic as mad as Lewis Carroll's or madder; they 
transfer their affections, or reverse their destinies, by insane 
rational process: 

Quiet peaceful contemplation 
Disentangles every knot. 

A captain in the Royal Navy turns out to have been changed at 
birth with a common seaman: it follows that, the revelation 
made, they change places and stations. A promising lad has, 
by a lapse of terminological exactitude, been apprenticed to a 
pirate instead of to a pilot; a love-philtre works the wrong way 
(as it did in A Midsummer Night's Dream) ; a drummer ascends 
the throne of Barataria oi\ the affidavit of a foster-mother in 
eight lines of recitative. 

320 Lecture on W. S. Gilbert 

Within these limits of absurdity you will notice that all the 
operas have limits also in ethic, and are built on an almost 
rigid convention of design. There is usually an opposition of 
the Victorian real against the fanciful : of a House of Peers, for 
example, in robes, against a chorus of fairies under Westminster 
clock-tower: of a body of Heavy Dragoons against Bunthorne 
and his lackadaisy maidens. There is almost always a baritone 
singer, more or less loosely connected with the story, introduced 
with some sort of patter-song the First Lord's song in Pinafore 
(which, by the way, started its success), the Major-General's in 
The Pirates, the Lord Chancellor's in lolanthe, and so on. 
There is also a lady with a contralto voice, who deplores her 
mature years. The more you examine the operas to compare 
them, the closer you will get to a severe and narrow model. 
And the model in its ethical content is no less straitly laced. 
It invites you to laugh at the foibles of kings, soldiers, lawyers, 
artists, and faddists of all sorts. But it touches no universal 
emotion, no universal instinct even (such as conviviality). Still 
less does it allow us to think of the base on which society is 
built, or admit a thought on it to intrude in any way upon our 
tomfooling. We all belong to the upper or upper middle 
class, or to the class which apes these two. We are all con- 
scious of class distinctions, are a little too consciously snobbish 
even while we enjoy the exposure of snobbery. The general 
moral, in fact, is that of the song which he characteristically 
entitled King Goodheart: 

There lived a King, as I 've been told, 
In the wonder-working days of old, 
When hearts were twice as good as gold 

And twenty times as mellow. 
Good temper triumphed in his face, 
And in his heart he found a place 
For all the. erring human race 

And every wretched fellow. 

Lecture on W. S. Gilbert 321 

When he had Rhenish wine to drink 
It made him very sad to think 
That some, at junket or at jink, 

Must be content with toddy : 
He wished all men as rich as he 
(And he was rich as rich could be), 
So to the top of every tree 

Promoted everybody. . . . 
That King, although no one denies, 
His heart was of abnormal size, 
Yet he 'd have acted otherwise 

If he had been acuter. 
The end is easily foretold, 
When every blessed thing you hold 
Is made of silver, or of gold, 

You long for simple pewter. 
When you have nothing else to wear 
But cloth of gold and satins rare, 
For cloth of gold you cease to care 

Up goes the price of shoddy : 
In short, whoever you may be, 
To this conclusion you '11 agree, 
When every one is somebody, 

Then no one 's anybody! 


That, you may say, is all very well or would be well enough 
if Gilbert could be cleared as a writer who genuinely sym- 
pathized with some things, or with one class, and just happened 
not to sympathize with others. That is common enough with 
authors, and especially with comedians and writers of light 
verse. Their business being to apply the touch of common 
sense to human affairs, one may even allow a certain hardness 


322 Lecture on W. S. Gilbert 

to be a part of their outfit (I am ungrateful enough even to find 
a certain hardness of surface in that favourite of us all, C. S. 
Calverley). But Gilbert had a baddish streak or two in him; 
and one in particular which was not only baddish but so 
thoroughly caddish that no critic can ignore or, in my belief, 
extenuate it. The man, to summarize, was essentially cruel, 
and delighted in cruelty. I lay no heavy stress on his addiction 
already glanced at to finding fun in every form of torture 
and capital punishment. This indeed persists in his work from 
The Bab Ballads right through the plays : 

Oh! listen to the tale of little Annie Protheroe; 
She kept a small post office in the neighbourhood of Bow, 
She loved a skilled mechanic, who was famous in his day 
A gentle executioner whose name was Gilbert Clay. 

I think I hear you say, *A dreadful subject for your rhymes!* 
O reader, do not shrink he didn't live in modern times! 
He lived so long ago (the sketch will show it at a glance) 
That all his actions glitter with the limelight of Romance. 

In busy times he laboured at his gentle craft all day 
'No doubt you mean his Cal-crafV you amusingly will say 
But, no he didn't operate with common bits of string, 
He was a Public Headsman, which is quite another thing. 

And when his work was over, they would ramble o'er the lea, 
And sit beneath the frondage of an elderberry tree; 
And Annie's simple prattle entertained him on his walk, 
For public executions formed the subject of her talk. 

And sometimes he'd explain to her, which charmed her very 


How famous operators vary very much in touch, 
And then, perhaps, he 'd show how he himself performed the 

And illustrate his meaning with a poppy and a stick. 

Lecture on W. $. Gilbert 323 

It persists (I repeat) through The Bab Ballads and into play 
after play; until, if you are tired and seek a terminus ad quern, 
I suggest this, from The Mikado, where an artless maiden sings : 

He shivered and shook as he gave the sign 

For the stroke he didn't deserve; 
When all of a sudden his eye met mine, 

And it seemed to brace his nerve. 
For he nodded his head and kissed his hand, 
And he whistled an air did he, 
As the sabre true 
Cut cleanly through 
His cervical vertebrae! 
When a man 's afraid 
A beautiful maid 
Is a charming sight to see. 
And it 's O, I 'm glad 
That moment sad 
Was soothed by sight of me! 

To sit in solemn silence, in a dull dark dock, 
In a pestilential prison, with a life-long lock, 
Awaiting the sensation of a short, sharp, shock 
From a cheap and chippy chopper on a big black block. 

On this cheap and chippy chopper business I merely observe 
that Gilbert revelled in it; as any one else may, so long as I am 
not asked to join the party. 

But Gilbert's cruelty took an uglier twist upon one incurable 
and unforgivible vice that of exposing women to public 
derision on the stage just because they are growing old and 
losing their beauty. We can forgive Horace or Catullus (if 
hardly) for venom against their cast-off mistresses. We should 
all think the better of them had they refrained. But the revul- 
sion, even the vituperation, of a wearied amorist unpleasant 
as one may think it consists with our experience of men and 
women. It is humanly vile. What disgusts one in Gilbert, 
from the beginning to the end, is his insistence on the physical 

324 Lecture on W* S. Gilbert 

odiousness of any woman growing old. As though, great 
Heaven! themselves did not find it tragic enough the very and 
necessary tragedy of their lives ! Gilbert shouts it, mocks it, 
apes with it, spits upon it. He opens with this dirty trump card 
in Trial by Jury, where the Judge tells how, as a briefless Barrister, 

I soon got tired of third-class journeys, 

And dinners of bread and water; 
So I fell in love with a rich attorney's 

Elderly, ugly daughter. 

The rich attorney, he wiped his eyes, 
And replied to my fond professions : 

* You shall reap the reward of your enterprise, 
At the Bailey and Middlesex Sessions. 

4 You '11 soon get used to her looks,* said he, 
'And a very nice girl you '11 find her 

She may very well pass for forty-three 
In the dusk, with a light behind her!' 

He follows it with 'Little Buttercup' in Pinafore, in Patience 

Fading is the taper waist 

Shapeless grows the shapely limb, 
And, although securely laced, 
Spreading is the figure trim I 

Stouter than I used to be, 

Still more corpulent grow I 
There will be too much of me 

In the coming by and by! 

in The Mikado with 

The flowers that bloom in the Spring, tra la, 

Have nothing to do with the case : 
I *ve got to take under my wing, tra la, 
A most unattractive old thing, tra la, 

With a caricature of a face. 

Lecture on W. S. Gilbert 325 

and so he proceeds until the end, in The Mountebanks, to a 
scene which almost drove one from the theatre in nausea. 

But I dare say the best rebuke of this was the gentle one 
administered by his favourite actress, Miss Jessie Bond. When 
she told Gilbert she was going to marry, he burst out, * Little 
fool!' 'I have often,' she answered, * heard you say you don't 
like old women. I shall be one soon. Will you provide for 
me? You hesitate. Well, I am going to a man who will.' 


Mr. Rudyard Kipling has observed somewhere that in the 
life of every happily married man there must come a moment 
when the sight of his wife at the head of the table suggests the 
appalling thought that this must go on for ever. Without 
going so far as this, one may say that even in the happiest 
marriage one or both of the partners has an occasional sense 
of some ambition missed. So it happened, we know, in the 
immensely successful partnership of Gilbert and Sullivan, and 
it led to frequent quarrels, endeavours on Sullivan's part to 
break away, finally to estrangement, though happily to no such 
deadly feud as closed the almost equally successful partnership 
of MM. Erckmann-Chatrian. Sullivan dreamed that he was 
capable of High Opera; and so perhaps he was, had he attempted 
it sooner. But few men can usefully resolve to embrace a new 
and higher career on their silver wedding-day, and when 
Sullivan produced Ivanhoe at the Royal English Opera House 
in 1891 it was evident that his resolve had come too late. 

But Gilbert, who had bound him to his task, in latter days 
so sorely against his protestations, also cherished a soaring 
dramatic ambition. Of men so irascible as he it may usually 
be observed that they have a bee in their bonnet. (I may use 
that expression because Gilbert once wore a bonnet as officer 
in the Gordon Highlanders Militia and had a photograph taken 
reproduced in his Biography in the full costume of that gay 

326 Lecture on W. S. Gilbert 

regiment.) And the very queer bee in Gilbert's bonnet was a 
violent antipathy against the name and fame of Shakespeare, 
particularly against the public appreciation of Hamlet. It 
sounds incredible, but there it was. He not only lampooned 
the great tragedy in a play, Rosencranti and Guildenstern: he 
never could get away from Hamlet and Ophelia; he had to go 
on and befool their story, as in The Mountebanks, in a silly 
dumb show and again to drag the very weeds and the mud 
out of Ophelia's end : 

When she found he wouldn't wed her, 
In a river, in a medder, 
Took a header, and a deader 

Was Oph-e-li-a! 

Levity, vulgar and blatant! Yes, and almost we might call it 
incredible in the man, even if explicable by that same strain of 
insensitiveness which deadened him to all charity for women past 
their first youth. It has indeed a like suggestion of impotence. 
But insensitiveness will not cover this fault, which actually 
lay very near the raw. Reading his * Life ' and his plays together, 
we perceive that this neat rhymer, neat wit, neat barrister, neat 
stage-manager, nursed at the back of his head a conception of 
himself as a great and serious dramatist even as Sullivan, with 
better excuse, nursed the conception of himself as a great com- 
poser in oratorio. Nor did Gilbert fail to realize this concep- 
tion for want of trying. He has left a number of 'serious* 
dramas behind him dramas in prose and verse all more or 
less unsuccessful on the stage. He even essayed one on the 
Faust theme, fated to allure and defeat all but great souls. He 
could not see that, whilst genius may be versatile and many- 
sided, there are certain talents which naturally exclude greatness. 
In his workshop, maybe, he was happy to deem himself possessed 
of high seriousness. When his efforts came to be produced, 
the public quite accurately divined that he was not. The 
discovery cost a not very critical generation of audiences no 

Lecture on W. S. Gilbert 327 

great effort; but it bit into Gilbert's self-esteem, and he bit 
upon the wound. 

Most of us in ordinary life have known men who, apt to make 
fun of others' foibles, show extreme anger or sulkiness when 
the slightest fun is retorted upon their own. Gilbert was such 
a man : a professional cynic and ruthless (as almost all reported 
anecdotes attest) in wounding with a jest, but extremely touchy 
nay, implacably vindictive when his own withers were 
wrung, however lightly. 


But before he turned to libretto Gilbert in his lighter plays, 
unrewarded by applause, did perhaps as much as his friend 
Robertson, and more than his friend Byron, to break up by 
solvent the turgid tradition of mid-Victorian drama and expose 
its theatricalities. It is usual to ascribe the revolution to 
Robertson. But Robertson, although he showed a glimmering 
light towards such reality as exists in * realism,' did not being 
himself a sentimentalist probe the real disease of sentimentality. 
It was Gilbert who probed it and applied the corrosive; and the 
corrosive proved too strong at first for the public taste : perhaps 
because it confined itself to destroying the fatty tissue without 
any promise of healing. At any rate his satirical comedies, 
deliberately intended to provoke mirth, fell flat; and this no 
less to their author's bewilderment than to his exasperation. 

Let us take Engaged^ to my mind the best of these, and any- 
how characteristic; and let us select one short typical passage. 
The heroine (or one of them), Miss Treherne, is speaking : 

'Cheviot, I have loved you madly, desperately, as other woman 
never loved other man. This poor inexperienced child* a second 
heroine 'who clings to me as the ivy clings to the oftk, also loves 
you as a woman never loved before. Even, that poor cottage maiden, 
whose rustic heart you so heedlessly enslaved* a third heroine 

328 Lecture on W. S. Gilbert 

'worships you with a devotion which has no parallel in the annals of 
the heart. In return for all this unalloyed affection, all we ask of 
you is that you will recommend us to a respectable solicitor.' 

In those few lines we detect the Gilbertian imbroglio, with 
the Gilbertian treatment which afterwards served him so well. 
Yet the public took Engaged coldly. To its mind the play 
wanted a 'something.' 

What? . . . But already we have the answer. Venables 
anticipated it when he congratulated Thackeray on the success 
of the The Four Georges, delivered as lectures in Willis's Rooms, 
'Capital, my dear Thack! But you ought to have a piano.* 

Later on, in Sullivan, Gilbert found his piano, and something 

But I doubt if, in his own development, he ever progressed 
an inch deeper in meaning than anything you can find implicit 
in the passage I have quoted, or (stagecraft apart) any technical 
skill in lyric or even in plot that he had not anticipated in The 
Bab Ballads. I find since we talk of pianos some symbolic 
truth in the vignette drawn by his own hand and reprinted in 
successive editions on the title-page of those lays. It represents 
an infant thumping a piano. You may even read some 
prophecy in the title of his first real operatic success Pinafore. 


At any rate you may assure yourselves, by examination of the 
libretti, that Gilbert, having found his piano, stuck to variations 
upon a few themes of the Ballads and to the end of his career 
returned to them for his plot. By deft rehandling of their 
themes, with their originally conceived topsy-turvies and logical 
reductions to absurdity, he won his success in the partnership; 
and it is at least some vindication of your elders' intelligence, 
gentlemen, that they delighted in this play of mock logic, as 
they had already fallen to it genially, in their nurseries, over 

Lecture on W. S. Gilbert 329 

Alice in Wonderland, a province of it in which all had been 

For The Bab Ballads if you are wise, you will treat them as 
wise men treat Tristram Shandy. You will not argue, but either 
like them or leave them alone. I do not compare them as 
achievements, but simply as they are unsusceptible to criticism ; 
and, however wrong I may be about Gilbert, I have read enough 
miss-the-mark criticism of Sterne by eminent persons, from 
Thackeray down, to assert that there are some writings for 
which criticism has found little guidance between 'I Like It' 
and 'I Like It Not/ 

For my part I rejoice in The Bab Ballads, and find them on the 
whole considerably superior to the lyrics with which Gilbert 
diversified the operas. Nor can I easily believe that, being 
the man he was, he deliberately and artistically keyed down his 
wit to the requirements of the music and of stage-presentation. 
He may have done so half consciously. The possibility, how- 
ever, suggests a question on which we may conclude. 


An examination of Gilbert's and Sullivan's success in some- 
times wedding, sometimes alternating, words with music to 
produce a genuine, if narrow, form of light opera may be of 
some use to those who accept, as to those who on its results 
feel a little doubtful about accepting, the Wagnerian and post- 
Wagnerian claims for grand opera. I feel some timidity in 
advancing so much as a foot over this ground ; since of all 
hierophants those of music are the most scornful of intruders 
who would ally their pet art with others that make life enjoy- 
able. I observe also that the majority of these apostles of 
harmony are as intense in vendetta as incapable of explaining 
what it is all about; so that one wavers in amaze between the 
'interpretations' in the programme of any symphony concert 


330 Lecture on W. S. Gilbert 

and the Billingsgate in which these critics pursue their sacerdotal 
loves and hates. 

But I suppose that, after all, it works out to this : 

(1) Grand opera, like any other opera, is an artificial thing; 
a lovely form of art if its components of drama, words, and 
music be intelligently blended, yet always so artificial that 
the audience's imagination and intelligence must be invited 
together to assist in their own captivation. 

(2) If these three elements (to omit scenery) of drama, words, 
and music could be captured, each at its highest, and perfectly 
blended, we should have perfection in one combined form of art. 

(3) But this combination implies that each contributory has 
its due place, each giving its best and yet subduing it to the 
others' best, at the right moment: that suppose, for example, 
one could enlist Shakespeare and Beethoven together for an 
opera of Lear, or Moltere and Mozart for a Don Giovanni, still 
the composing authors must each submit his genius to the 
total result. 

(4) Now the trouble is that such things don't happen in 
this world. 

(5) But suppose the theory sound. Of all men of genius 
Wagner was perhaps the worst equipped with those con- 
comitants which his theory demanded. Therefore, being one 
of the most arrogant of men, he put music in supreme com- 
mand and tortured our divinest of gifts the modulated speak- 
ing voice for which Sophocles and Shakespeare wrote to speak 
through music; which is to say, largely against it. It is not for 
me to do more than marvel at the genius for orchestration 
which stunned or mesmerized sensible men into accepting a 
megalomaniac theory. The temperate voice of the eighteenth 
century may whisper something salutary at this point: for, 
after all, Joshua Reynolds could paint. 

I believe [says Reynolds] it may be considered as a general rule, 
that no art can be grafted with success on another art. For although 
they all profess the same origin, and to proceed from the same stock, 

Lecture on W. S. Gilbert 331 

yet each had its own peculiar mode of imitating nature and of deviating 
from it, each for the accomplishment of its own particular purpose. 
These deviations, more especially, will not bear transplantation to 
another soil. 

Now Reynolds may easily be wrong if we apply this obser- 
vation to opera in general, as presumably Hazlitt would have 
applied it. 'The opera,' says Hazlitt, 'is the most artificial of 
all things ... it is an illusion and a mockery. ... A head- 
ache may be produced by a profusion of sweet smells or sweet 
sounds; but we do not like the headache the more on that 
account. Nor are we reconciled to it, even at the opera.' 

But the Attic Theatre proved, centuries ago, that speech and 
music, with dancing and scenery, could be brought together to 
produce one of the very highest forms of art, provided that 
each of the contributors were kept in its proper place. Aristotle 
recognized this, of course; and, to use our immediate subject 
for an illustration, Gilbert and Sullivan prove that the difficulty 
of bringing together accomplished pedestrian speech and 
accomplished music can be solved ambulando, if the rule of 
keeping them in their proper places be observed more or less 
as die Greeks observed it. As I have said, a combination of 
supreme poetry with supreme music and a variety of the other 
arts at their very best is not granted by the gods to the genera- 
tions of men ; but it seems evident that in some happy moments 
the co-operation of poet and musician, neither of the first 
eminence, may almost chemically produce a new thing which, 
if not transcendent, is extremely pleasing, at once novel and 
reasonably permanent in its appeal. Opera is an artificial 
thing. It is not made less artificial on a theory of 'realism* 
which disguises nature under a new artificiality such as the 
leit-motif, this leit-motif being actually as much of a convention 
as the label enclosing words which primitive painters and 
caricaturists drew as issuing from the mouths of their figures. 
It is, I suggest, greatly to Sullivan's credit that with his in- 
comparable talent for articulating speech in music, he resisted 

332 Lecture on W. S. Gilbert 

all temptation of that talent to obscure or deafen by music the 
spoken words which must be the backbone of all drama since 
they carry and advance the plot. 

And for a last word it may even be that your delight in 
Gilbert and Sullivan testifies to a natural unconscious revolt 
against the theory of opera so prevalent in our time. We know 
from the history of the theatre from the tyranny, for example, 
laid upon it so long by the theories of Castelvetro and his 
followers that a barbarous mistake can be ferociously en- 
forced by pedantry. Against such pedantry a childlike instinct 
may sometimes usefully assert itself, insisting ' But the Emperor 
has no clothes!' 



THE sculptor's chisel slid askance 
And dinted Aphrodite's cheek: 
But ah! the blemish woke a glance 
So lively-lovelier than the Greek 
That Nature, copying, forebore 
The smooth perfection to restore 
And left the dimple I adore. 



Cupid, in letters yet untaught, 
Captured a scroll in a cobweb caught 
And duteous to his Mother brought. 

His face upturning for a kiss, 
'Mother,' he panted, 'read me this!' 
His clasp unclosed a chrysalis : 

From which escaped, as fell apart 
The two halves of a broken heart, 
An aria Capture it, Mozart! 




CAMBRIDGE, 16 MAY, 1934 


IN February last we in England had our first opportunity of 
reading under the title After Strange Gods : A Primer of 
Modern Heresy ', a series of three 'Page-Barbour* Lectures given 
by Mr. T. S. Eliot before the University of Virginia. Anything 
written or spoken by Mr. Eliot is eagerly awaited : and because 
his conclusions, if I accepted the premises, would strongly 
enforce, or by selected quotation might be used to enforce, 
some warnings I addressed to you the other day (and, as it 
happens, while he was speaking some thousands of miles away) 
against the prevalent individualism in modern writing, and the 
worship of originality for its own sake, as of an idol ; I could 
be grateful for support so powerful, as in a degree I am. But 
the subject is to me a serious one; so serious that I should hate 
to invoke the support of any rhetorical enthymemes which seem 
unsound to me, or to use such for my purpose on any man's 
ipse dixit, whatever my esteem for the man himself. And so 
I shall take leave, this morning, to question some two or three 
of Mr. Eliot's pronouncements. 


He, to be sure, in his Preface very frankly disclaims and 
rejects argument. 

'I am not arguing or reasoning,' he says, 'or engaging in contro- 
versy with those whose views are radically opposed to such as mine. 
In our time controversy seems to me, on really fundamental matters, 
to be futile. It can only usefully be practised where there is a 
common understanding. It requires common assumptions, and per- 
haps the assumptions that are only felt are more important than those 


Lecture on Tradition and Orthodoxy 335 

that can be formulated. The acrimony which accompanies much 
debate is a symptom of difference so large that there is nothing to 
argue about. We experience such profound differences with some of 
our contemporaries that the nearest parallel is the difference between 
one epoch and another. In a society like ours, worm-eaten with 
Liberalism, the only thing possible for a person of strong convictions 
is to state a point of view and leave it at that/ 

Now this, reduced to plain terms, amounts to no more than 
'I am not arguing with you: I am just telling you.' It takes 
up an attitude which, however politely assumed, I find hard to 
differentiate from that of Thrasymachus in the Republic ; who 
(if you remember) having drenched his audience with a pailful 
of his own opinions on Justice, was for 'leaving it at that' and 
walking off, when Socrates plucked him by the sleeve : ' O Thrasy- 
machus, excellent man, how suggestive are your remarks! And 
are you really going to move away before you have fairly taught 
or learned whether they are true or not?' Mr. Eliot's is, at any 
rate, the attitude of a dogmatist : and in one who is addressing 
(as he announces) the 'possibly convertible ' about the least likely 
to succeed: since, the 'convertible' being by hypothesis un- 
regenerate as yet ; and since in my experience the unregenerate, 
if intelligent at all, are prone to ask questions; any claim or 
suspicion of a claim that you have access to wells of 
inspiration denied to the rest of mankind is apt to repel at 
the start. 

I am particularly sorry that a critic so finely equipped as 
Mr. Eliot, and just now possessed of so much influence, 
should be in successive books so evidently hardening into this 
oracular attitude, because I feel sure that it can only end in 
ossification. Already, while elaborately endeavouring to define 
tradition and orthodoxy, to separate them, in practice he is 
mixing them up, and confusing both with religion and politics. 
And I am the sorrier over these lectures of his because, when 
talking of tradition, he sharpens and betters many points I 
tried to put to you, gentlemen, in a couple of lectures last 

336 Lecture on Tradition and Orthodoxy 

Michaelmas Term on 'The Poet as Citizen/ Up to a point 
I am greatly his debtor for the improvement: and if at that 
point I must part company with him I shall, before we part 
to-day, submit my reasons. 


Since his concept of Orthodoxy concerns me less than his 
concept of Tradition though it puzzles me more let us, for 
our present purpose, first get that conception cleared out of the 
way, if we can. 

It puzzles me more because while careful, and even more 
than careful, to define what he means by Tradition, when he 
comes to Orthodoxy he seems to me to wander around the word 
without fixing it at all until we come to his third and last lecture. 
In the first he gives it a 'similar inclusiveness* with Tradition, 
and proceeds 'though of course I believe that a right tradition 
for us must be also a Christian tradition, and that Orthodoxy 
in general implies Christian orthodoxy, I do not propose to 
lead the present series of lectures to a theological conclusion/ 
Yet after a dozen words he dives off into an attack on liberalism 
in Church and politics with illustrative quotations, the worth 
of which I shall presently examine. 

The interposed sentence, or half-sentence, runs : 'The relation 
between tradition and orthodoxy in the past is evident enough.' 
But 'the past/ so used, is surely the vaguest of terms. For 
example, Orthodoxy in the past, before and after the Council of 
Trent before and after 1563, its last sitting carried for 
Catholic Europe two very different meanings: the newer one 
restricting it in sundry ways and fencing the restrictions with 
anathema. Up to that date the Medieval Church had been 
moving. For a single instance Many of its churchmen hitherto 
allowed as orthodox did not receive as canonical all the Apocrypha 
or accept with an equal devotion the Second Book of Maccabees 

Lecture on Tradition and Orthodoxy 337 

with St. Mark's Gospel. As my friend Mr. Bernard Manning 
has put it: 

The Roman Church after the sixteenth century was less corrupt, 
freer from scandals, more devoted to its spiritual work, more efficient 
in its administration; but it was less free intellectually, less bold, in 
all its uses of the Christian tradition, more fearful of exploring into 
the unsearchable riches of Christ, than it had been before the Council 
of Trent. It definitely refused to carry with it into modern times 
some part of its ancient and medieval heritage. This happened 
partly from reaction against Protestantism. 

Well, after the Reformation what happens to Orthodoxy under 
Protestantism ? We find one Orthodoxy narrowing itself into 
the Lutheran, another (fiercely) in the Calvinistic Church. A 
third, through the polemics of the seventeenth century, despite 
the gentle efforts and gentle examples in living of such men as 
Herbert, Jeremy Taylor and the Cambridge Platonists, econo- 
mized its allowance of Orthodoxy to the Church of England 
in the eighteenth century an Orthodoxy in part political, in 
part asleep on formularies, in spirit inert, in daily practice lazy, 
choleric only when some intrusive evangelist rang the bell dis- 
turbing the afternoon doze: while to infringe with respect 
upon Mr. Eliot's native soil scarcely had the Pilgrim Fathers 
landed on Plymouth Rock before they started to build an 
Orthodoxy of their own at least as repressive and rigidly 
tyrannous as anything they had fled from. Escaping across 
the Atlantic for liberty of conscience, they found a New 
England, cast there the anchor of their souls, landed, and 
ran to and fro burning 'witches.' 

I am sorry to have been led even so far as this into ecclesiastical 
story: but Mr. Eliot's method so far compels me. For in my 
search after what he means by Orthodoxy in literature I find 
him continually sliding off into theology. Pursuing, I learn 
that a Tradition, in so far as it differs from Orthodoxy, is a way 
of feeling and acting which characterizes a group throughout 
generations ; and that it must largely be, or that many of the 

338 Lecture on Tradition and Orthodoxy 

elements in it must be, unconscious and here I do not think 
Mr. Eliot will quarrel with me if I interpret this a little more 
definitely as c good manners inherited through breeding/ 
'manners' as a term carrying just that moral significance which 
William of Wykeham intended and bequeathed in his noble motto 
'Manners makyth Man \ 'whereas/ Mr. Eliot proceeds, 'the 
maintenance of Orthodoxy is a matter which calls for the exercise 
of all our conscious intelligence.' The maintenance^ then, will 
be conscious; but Orthodoxy itself ' exists, whether realized in 
any one's thought or not.' Orthodoxy, again, is 'continuous'; 
and yet, in Mr. Eliot's words, 'a whole generation might con- 
ceivably pass without orthodox thought, or, as by Athanasius, 
Orthodoxy may be upheld by one man against the world.' 
These sayings, dropped in the course of a spoken lecture, must 
have puzzled his audience somewhat; and merely dropped and 
'left at that* they are puzzling, though not irreconcilable. Still 
pursuing, I come, in his third and last lecture, to a pronounce- 
ment clear enough. ' What I have been leading up to,' he says, 
'is the following assertion : that when morals cease to be a matter 
of tradition and orthodoxy that is, of the habits of the com- 
munity formulated, corrected, and elevated by the continuous 
thought and direction of the Church and when each man is 
to elaborate his own, then personality becomes a thing of 
alarming importance.' 

(But has it ever been less, in human history?) 


Now let me be equally definite in taking up the separate 
pans of the above composite assertion. I agree, of course, 
that 'when morals cease to be a matter of tradition . . . and 
when each man is to elaborate his own, then personality becomes 
a thing of alarming importance.' It was this, and just this, 
I was trying to preach to you in my lectures before Christmas 
on 'The Poet as Citizen'; and if Mr. Eliot uses the tone of 

Lecture on Tradition and Orthodoxy 339 

authority while I can only attempt persuasion, I must be the 
more indebted to authority for his backing. 

But when he goes on to insist that Tradition requires to be 
'formulated, corrected, and elevated by the continuous thought 
and direction of the Church/ I must cry halt. 

To begin with, I doubt if the tradition of any community 
can ever be ' formulated ' if even its minor unconscious habits 
can be 'formulated* save in books of etiquette, the rules of which 
for one generation tend to be a laughing-stock for the next. 
(Should a man for example wear his hat at table when dining 
with the King?) But tradition more vital tradition in matters 
which deeply concern the moral, physical, intellectual health of 
a society is at once too various and too delicate a thing to be 
caught, constricted within formulas or creeds by any Church. 
Take, for instance, poetry; with which and its traditions we 
have been specially concerned. When, as a historical fact, have 
the traditions of poetry been usefully formulated, or even, with 
the great exception of Dante, considerably directed, by any 
Church? Elevated by religious fervour poetry may be, of 
course, and often has been; as by other passionate convictions 
theologically orthodox or unorthodox in their day. The real 
answer to Mr. Eliot's question 'Why is most religious verse so 
bad ? ' is, I should contend, precisely in so far as it has submitted 
to his own theory. He accounts for it by the ingenious sug- 
gestion that people who write devotional verse are usually 
writing as they want to feel rather than as they do feel. I rather 
believe the great mass of what is called in editorial offices 
'Vicarage Verse* to be quite sincere, and bad only because the 
people who write it are not poets. Poetry in short is poetry: 
it has known many creeds and survived them all. One after 
another they have discredited and cast down his altars, but 
Apollo survives. Whoso would recruit him from one category 
into another is mixing up things that differ: whoso would 
enslave him to any flock, be it of Admetus or of the Archbishop 
of Canterbury, is weaving nets for the wind. 

34 Lecture on Tradition and Orthodoxy 

But to pass over many questions raised by this claim that 
"the Church* should exercise control over our literature, and 
over poetry in particular as for example the question put to 
Dogberry 'How if a will not?' and if so, how punishable, 
and by whom? We come to the fatal question ' What and 
which Church?' 

Well, we know from previous declarations of his creed or 
creeds in religion and politics how Mr. Eliot would like this to 
be answered. And here I must simply say that, as I read it, 
literature in England has never in fact submitted to a control 
so narrow, and (in my hope and belief) never will. 

I am sorry, I repeat, to have been dragged by him even so 
far into the confines of dogmatic theology : but his views of 
right literature and his illustrations constantly slide off into 
that; as, to do him justice, they logically must. And, if I may 
say it without acrimony, those views seem to be largely coloured 
by a particular hatred of what he calls Liberalism : and I must 
most seriously protest against the device by which, to present 
the Liberalism of a century ago, he imposes upon a foreign 
audience, presumably unacquainted with the story he is telling, 
a passage of inventive by a writer whose name, if not wholly 
forgotten, any serious critic to-day would either pass over as 
negligible among the great antagonists, or select only as a 
curiosity of forgotten spite. This is how Mr. Eliot adduces 
his testimony 'There was certainly (he says), a hundred years 
ago, a relation between the Liberalism which attacked the Church 
and the Liberalism which appeared in politics/ According to 
a contemporary, William Palmer, the former group of Liberals 

Were eager to eliminate from the Prayer Book the belief in the 
Scriptures, the Creeds, the worship of Christ. They called for 
the admission of Unitarian infidels as fellow-believers. They 
would eviscerate the Prayer Book, reduce the Articles to a few 
deistic formularies, and reduce religion to a state of anarchy and 
confusion, etc. 

Lecture on Tradition and Orthodoxy 341 

'It is well to remember/ adds Mr. Eliot, 'that this sort of 
Liberalism was flourishing a century ago; it is also well to 
remember that it is flourishing still.' 


But fair and softly! Who was this William Palmer, whose 
denunciation of the Liberals in 1843 Mr. Eliot tosses before an 
audience in Virginia, U.S.A., as true contemporary description, 
capped by his own ipse dixit that 'this sort of Liberalism is 
flourishing still '? The short footnote in his printed lecture 
says merely ' Quoted in Northern Catholicism^ p. 9.' I look up 
that work (a collection of Anglo-Catholic papers) and find on 
p. 9 the passage just quoted as testimony, and again 'left at 
that.' Pursuing, I get at the works of William Palmer, and 
some contemporary evidence concerning him. He was, ad- 
mittedly, a very learned man, an Irishman, a violent Anti-papist: 
who, coming across to Oxford, latish, considerably helped the 
beginnings of what is called the Oxford Movement by his 
liturgical information. 'But,' says Newman after a tribute to 
his gifts, 'he was deficient in depth, and besides' you must 
forgive me, gentlemen the words are Newman's, not mine 
'coming from a distance, he had never really grown into an 
Oxford man.' In brief he was impracticable, positive, irascible 
as a bull at a hint of the Scarlet Woman : and his methods of 
controversy invited rebuke for themselves in a pamphlet attri- 
buted to M. Renouf and politely, beyond their worth, conde- 
scended to by Hurrell Froude. I have studied the work from 
which Mr. Eliot took his quotation at second hand (Narrative 
of Events connected with 'Tracts for the Times'}, and, if you 
have not guessed it from the very style of die quotation, can 
only add that his arguments strike me as those of a learned but 
rather vulgar disputant, originally by nature, provincially by 
habit, deficient in self-control. 

342 Lecture on Tradition and Orthodoxy 

Now had it not been fairer if Mr. Eliot, addressing in Virginia, 
U.S.A., an audience presumably unacquainted with the story of 
this eccentric cleric, had quoted against the Liberalism of a 
hundred years ago the testimony of its foremost contemporary 
opponent; a voice infinitely more authoritative, a book not only 
accessible, but now classical ? I mean, of course, Newman and 
his Apologia. It had surely been more to his right purpose to 
take the famous note on 'Liberalism' towards the end of that 
book. I invite you, gentlemen, to read the whole of New- 
man's note, the manner of which I have here but time to 
illustrate by a few sentences. 

When [says Newman] in the beginning of the present century 
[that is, the last century] after many years of moral and intellectual 
declension, the University of Oxford woke up to a sense of its duties, 
and began to reform itself, the first instruments of this change, to 
whose zeal and courage we all owe so much, were naturally thrown 
together for mutual support, against the numerous obstacles which 
lay in their path, and soon stood out in relief from the body of resi- 
dents, who, though many of them men of talent themselves, cared 
little for the object which the others had at heart. These Reformers, 
as they may be called, were for some years members of scarcely more 
than three or four Colleges ; and their own Colleges, as being under 
their direct influence, of course had the benefit of those stricter views 
of discipline and teaching, which they themselves were urging on 
the University. They had, in no long time, enough of real progress 
in their several spheres of exertion, and enough of reputation out 
of doors, to warrant them in considering themselves die tlite of the 

Thus was formed an intellectual circle or class in the University 
men, who felt they had a career before them, as soon as the pupils, 
whom they were forming, came into public; men, whom non- 
residents, whether country parson or preachers of the Low Church, 
on coming up from time to time to the old place, would look at, 
partly with admiration, partly with suspicion, as being an honour 
indeed to Oxford, but withal exposed to the* temptation of ambitious 
views, and to the spiritual evils signified in what is called the 'pride 
of reason.' 

Lecture on Tradition and Orthodoxy 343 

Nor was this imputation altogether unjust; for, as they were 
following out the proper idea of a University, of course they suffered 
more or less from the moral malady incident to such a pursuit. The 
very object of such great institutions lies in the cultivation of the 
mind and the spread of knowledge: if this object, as all human 
objects, has its dangers at all times, much more would these exist in 
the case of men, who were engaged in a work of reformation, and 
had the opportunity of measuring themselves, not only with those 
who were their equals in intellect, but with the many who were 
below them. In this select circle or class of men, in various Colleges,, 
the direct instruments and the choice fruit of real University Reform, 
we see the rudiments of the Liberal party. 

Now Newman's main argument may be right or may be wrong. 
But I invite you, remembering that the above sentences were 
penned by one who had already admitted to use his own 
words that ' from the age of fifteen dogma has been the funda- 
mental principle of my religion : I know no other sort of religion : 
cannot enter into any other sort of religion* I invite you to 
contrast that passage, simply as an example of style in contro- 
versy with that other quotation from Mr. William Palmer, and 
then turn to these few of Newman's own words from his 
well-known 'Definition of a Gentleman': 

If he engages in controversy of any kind, his disciplined intellect 
preserves him from the blundering discourtesy of better, though less 
educated, minds; who, like blunt weapons, tear and hack instead of 
cutting clean, who mistake the point in argument, waste their strength 
on trifles, and leave the question more involved than they found it. 
He may be right or wrong in his opinion, but he is too clear-headed 
to be unjust : he is as simple as he is forcible, and as brief as he is 

It is as a lawyer would say 'not for me to advise.' Yet 
think, in Mr. Eliot's place and with his intention, I should 
have chosen to prefer and present Newman before W. Palmer 
as a descriptive writer. 

344 Lecture on Tradition and Orthodoxy 


But when Mr. Eliot speaks of Tradition I am grateful to him ; 
and the more beholden because, in a voice that carries far 
beyond mind and in a tone I could not imitate, he was uttering 
to his audience in Virginia the very caution that I was suggesting 
here to you and, as it happened, at the very moment; a 
warning, that is, and a protest, against the exploitation of self, 
the intrusion of an author's 'personality* or 'individuality' upon 
his work; an egoism of late years in fashion, accepted and 
applauded by critics, by many if not most as a merit in itself, 
by some as even the first of merits : my contention being rather 
that in writing as in other arts as evidently as in social life 
self-assertiveness almost infallibly suggests some defect of 
breeding. In a familiar 'essay,' to be sure, a man may un- 
bosom himself; the more pardonably in proportion as his con- 
fessions are worth while. But the familiar essay is a delicate 
business demanding a curious tact of its own : and success in it 
carries no warrant for use in larger spheres of writing in epic, 
tragedy, history, or the novel. In these the true writer (if I 
may put it vulgarly) sticks to his job, is immersed in it, and lets 
his 'personality' take care of itself which it will certainly do 
whether he forget it or even, should he be writing history, take 
pains to exclude it. Consider Thucydides, for example. He 
begins: 'Thucydides, an Athenian, composed an account of the 
war between the Peloponnesians and the Athenians. He con- 
sidered from the beginning that such an account would be 
valuable.' Thenceforward we have an austere narrative, bone- 
bare even when he himself was mixed up in the events and con- 
demned for failure. He allows no pause for justification or 
self-excuse. Still in its stride the detailed unemotional inflexible 
narrative moves on to the terrible climax in the caves of 
Syracuse this, even, told austerely. Then we realize the 
whole composition as at once true and a work of art; then the 

Lecture on Tradition and Orthodoxy 345 

power suppressed, the genius commanding it and at length dis- 
closed, the man as characteristic, a giant among historians. 

Holding this poor opinion of self-assertiveness obtruding 
upon art, I was heartened, of course, on reading such passages 
as these in Mr. Eliot's lectures : 

The general effect in literature of the lack of any strong tradition 
is twofold : extreme individualism in views, and no accepted rules or 
opinions as to the limitations of the literary job. 

That and : 

It is true that the existence of a right tradition, simply but its 
influence upon the environment in which the poet develops, will tend 
to restrict eccentricity to managable limits : but it is not even by the 
lack of this restraining influence that the absence of tradition is most 
deplorable. What is disastrous is that the writer should deliberately 
give rein to his individuality'; that he should even cultivate his 
differences from others ; and that his readers should cherish the author 
of genius, not in spite of his deviations from the inherited wisdom of 
the race, but because of them. 

Well, this passage might stand as text before some arguments 
of mine. But there was one which lack of time compelled me 
to shorten ; and I am glad of this opportunity to recall it with 
a little more insistence: for it concerns a prevalent temper 
among writers of to-day in most forms of creative work, and 
in criticism too. 

You may or may not remember my inviting your attention 
to one trap among several baited for artists and critics by this 
worm of personality this eidolon omphalou, as I may call it. 
I mean the lure toward self-conceit; expressed in practice by 
condescension, writing down to one's audience, or (worse) 
choosing an ignoble subject and writing down to that. On 
this pretentiousness in contemporary criticism I shall not here 
dwell. Even when Delphi claimed to be the whole world's 
navel the voice of Apollo disguised itself in ambiguity, through 
smoke. With a score or two of Py thians each drawing inspira- 
tion from the centre of his own unbelted personality, the hum 

346 Lecture on Tradition and Orthodoxy 

of the Oracles passes into a noise not less hideous because 
confused and dissipated. 

But for lack of time I must hasten past the critics and come 
to writers engaged just now upon creative work, whether in 
poetry or fiction : for these after all are the primary ones in any 
important age. Whether it belong to post-war disillusionment, 
or to a curious deflection of our old aristocratic tradition in 
literature to adapt itself to democracy and instinctively to 
patronize it more or less in the style of a grand lady opening a 
Women's Institute I think that few students of contemporary 
poems and novels will deny the almost universal tendency of 
such writers as this generation has seriously taken, to choose 
unheroic themes, sordid environments, characters to be dangled 
as marionettes from aloft and condescendingly explained 
through commentary. 

I shall not ask you to take any assurance of mine about that 
sort of thing as being about the easiest scamping of real art 
and to that extent contemptible, however popular. I prefer 
to quote a passage I came upon, a few weeks ago, in the 
Spectator. A reviewer, Mr. H. E. Bates, wrote thus of a 
certain novel: 

[The writer] is not a great writer but a precious one. His attitude 
throughout the book is one of superiority. Whereas the great writer 
credits the reader with an intelligence equal to his own, the lesser 
writer credits him with less ; the great writer keeps himself detached 
and unseen, never stepping between himself and the picture ; but the 
lesser writer keeps holding himself up, Sir Oracle fashion, with what he 
considers are vital explanations or remarks of profound philosophical 

It may seem pedantic to enforce this by going back to Aristotle 
and his insistence on nobility of character (TO fitXriov) as a 
necessary apanage of the true Tragic Hero. But consider 
Shakespeare's tragic heroes, and how even their enemies salute 
them, dead. Recall Antony's grand words over the corpse of 

Lecture on Tradition and Orthodoxy 347 

Brutus, with Octavius' echo of them: recall Antony's own 
last claim: 

a Roman by a Roman 
Valiantly vanquished 

and Octavius' coda over him and Cleopatra: 

No grave upon the earth shall clip in it 
A pair so famous. High events as these 
Strike those that make them : and their story *s 
No less in pity than his glory which 
Brought them to be lamented. 

Even poor Timon ends as noble Timon; for Coriolanus the 
drums are bidden to beat, the pikes to be trailed, for 

the most noble corse that ever herald 
Did follow to his urn. 

So, of Hamlet: 

Let four captains 
Bear Hamlet, like a soldier, to the stage ; 

. . . and, for his passage, 
The soldiers' music and the rites of war 
Speak loudly for him. 

That is die accent by which great writers communicate their 
magnanimity and teach the rest of us that 'we are greater than 
we know.' 


I have dwelt at some length on this particular tendency of 
ego-worship; to belittle the author's theme, patronize his sub- 
ject, parade what in himself is what an Athenian would have 
called 'the idiotic/ and to hang (if I may adapt a phrase of 
Henry James) our frail humanity as a beaten rag upon a clothes- 
line : and have dwelt on this vice, among traps of egoism indi- 
cated in my last lecture, because in proportion to its prevalence 

348 Lecture on Tradition and Orthodoxy 

just now we should thank Mr. Eliot alike for his vigour and his 
opportuneness in denouncing it. 

But I do not thank him for the rhetorical sleight of hand or 
series of ambiguities by which he palms off this ego-worship as 
identical with 'Liberalism/ We must remember, of course 
and the more vividly for his insistence upon the indelibility of 
early training that he is a New Englander addressing an 
audience in America's conservative South, whose prejudices on 
a local issue he starts, as a converted missionary, to enlist for his 
general attack on what he calls 'Liberalism.' What he means 
by 'Liberalism,' except that it is something he dislikes, one must 
use patience to discern, so dexterously he shuffles religion into 
politics, politics into literature, tradition into dogma, to and 
fro, until the reader let alone a listener can scarcely tell out 
of what category the card (so to speak) is being dealt. Still, if 
one keeps gripping, as Menelaus and his comrades did upon the 
Old Man of the Sea, this may be squeezed out that 'Liberalism* 
is anything which questions dogma : which dogma, to be right 
dogma, is the priestly utterance of a particular offset of a 
particular branch of a historically fissiparous Church. 


Well, as Mr. Eliot wisely hints in the course of his lectures, 
we can none of us escape the shadow of what we learned at our 
mother's knee. And as my own Alma Mater insisted (perhaps 
too austerely) upon logic, I find it hard to call myself off from 
such a roaring scent after the fallacy of the 'Undistributed 
Middle' as he here puts up. But perhaps the simplest way to 
go to work is to define what Liberalism means to me. Whether 
you agree or not, we come to a point, and so our business is 

I define 'Liberalism,' then, first as a habit of mind. This at 
once disengages it from formulas, party cries, vestments, or 
'shirts' in religion or politics. It is neither a separate stick nor 

Lecture on Tradition and Orthodoxy 349 

a faggot of opinions out of which, if one be dropped, brand and 
faggot be involved together and cast as heretical to the fire. 

Further, it is a habit of mind which exercises, and claims to 
exercise, man's right, on this planet in this mysterious universe, 
surrounded on all hands of ignorance, to lift some veil of that 
curtain if he can : in short, to think for himself. As I see it, 
a man owes that effort to his own dignity as well as to the help 
of his fellows. But at any rate that effort must find itself as 
Columbus found it at Salamanca before he could start on dis- 
covering the outpost of Mr. Eliot's nativity in direct opposi- 
tion to dogmatic clerical assurance that there was not, nor 
could be, any such place. 

And yet further let me say that this claim for die free 
operation of man's mind has been, if you will consider it, gentle- 
men, the fount and inspiration of the greatest literature be- 
queathed through centuries to civilized Europe and our in- 
heritance yet to be nursed in increase, not for our sake alone 
(since charity lies at its emotional base), but for others until die 
comity of Europe recover its balance. Go farther back than 
Plato if you will: but start, if you will, with Plato and the 
dogmas upon which his thought operated for enlightenment. 
Follow literature down But no ! What has Newman himself, 
the fairest upholder of dogma, to admit of the Western world's 
literature ? 

He must confess, surveying it in a series of Lectures to the 
Roman Catholic University of Ireland, that the contribution of 
dogmatic writers to it has been negligible: in Italy, France, 
England alike all but null. He faces die admission of England 
that 'a literature, when it is formed, is a national and historical 
fact; it is a matter of the past and the present, and can be as 
little ignored as the present, as little undone as the past.' If 
his co-religionists have to build a new literature upon dogma, 
they must start upon a new one. And who, reviewing the great 
names in our own literature, however curiously, can hold that 
as a solid phalanx they do not stand for this free play of the 

350 Lecture on Tradition and Orthodoxy 

human mind? Chaucer, Langland, Spenser, Shakespeare (I 
dare say I may claim through age and circumstance, to have 
heard as much as any of you to Shakespeare's discredit, while 
never yet that he was illiberal), Milton, Dryden, Blake, Coleridge, 
Shelley, Byron, Landor; Bacon, Locke, Berkeley, Newton, 
Butler, Darwin ; Fielding, Johnson, Scott, Dickens. . . . Which 
of these do we not connect, as part of our indebtedness to them, 
with the unhampered play, imaginative or strictly ' scientific/ of 
man's mind ? 

And so and if we read the story right this 'Liberalism' 
which Mr. Eliot arraigns as a worm, eating into the traditions 
of our society, reveals itself rather as Tradition itself, through- 
out literature (which is thought worth setting down and 
recording) the organic spirit persisting, aerating, preserving, 
the liberties our ancestors won and we inherit. 

All great principles have their risks : else they were not worth 
fighting for. No one disputes that a man's liberty to think his 
own thoughts and express them in words can be abused, even as 
the liberty of the Press is daily abused among us : that it may 
be pleaded as condoning, if not justifying, much that is eccentric, 
even frantic. Such is the price ; and in this world the inestimable 
jewel of freedom can only be had at a price. For my part I 
cannot see how any one can study our English literature for 
six centuries now a 'glory of our blood and state' and yet a most 
'substantial thing' without feeling that in his blood and state 
this liberty of thought is not only a tradition but its dominant 
tradition, web and woof; or mistrust the sleight that would pass 
it off on us for bastard, as a sophism offending fact, repulsive 
to intelligence. I turn to Milton: 

Fool! he sees not the firm root out of which we all grow, though 
into branches. 

Lecture on Tradition and Orthodoxy 351 

Here, in this your University, the field of our literature is 
spread before you for your judgment. To that I leave it, 
reminding you only that Milton and Wordsworth were her 
sons who is now your mother : that Milton wrote this : 

Lords and commons of England, consider what nation it is whereof 
ye are and whereof ye are the governors ; a nation . . . not beneath 
the reach of any point that human capacity can soar to. 

And Wordsworth : 

We must be free or die, who speak the tongue 
That Shakespeare spake : the faith and morals hold 
Which Milton held 

Trite words: but as true to-day and imperative as when they 
were written. For and to conclude what is the alternative ? 
What the dirty trump card ever up dogma's sleeve is to be slid 
down and sneaked, upon opportunity? It is suppression; 
tyranny (as Pascal defined it 'the determination to get in that 
way what you cannot in another'); in its final brutal word 
force. Look around Europe to-day and consider under what 
masks dogma is not feeling for, or openly shaking, this weapon 
to cow the minds of free men ; and ask yourselves if it be not 
the inherited duty of our race to vindicate the tradition of 
that liberty which was the ark within the citadel of our 
fathers' souls. 


T ET me start with the simple proposition that there is such 
Jrf a thing in the world as a love of learning. 

I suppose that a university in these days should serve two 
main purposes. It should (i) be a seat of learning, and (2) it 
should educate youth. On these apparently simple postulates 
the friends and foes of Oxford and Cambridge usually agree to 
start, and I shall take diem in their order. 

For the first, then, I would meet any direct attack with a 
straight challenge. If any man deny that Oxford and Cam- 
bridge to-day are seats of learning nay of great learning one 
can only suppose that he does not know what he is talking about. 
In the matter of information alone (and information alone is but 
a handmaid to culture) no two cities in this land or in any other 
possess a larger stock ; and that not only stored in libraries, but 
available from the lips of men variously eminent in knowledge 
and generous to impart it: since the more a man knows the 
tenderer he will be as a rule to ignorance, himself aware of the 
little his own industry has won from the vast amount of ignorance 
surrounding us all. * Knowledge/ says Bacon, * be it in quantity 
more or less, if it be taken without the true corrective thereof, 
hath in it some nature of venom or malignity ; and some effects 
of that venom which is ventosity or swelling. The corrective 
spice, the mixture whereof maketh knowledge so sovereign, is 
charity.' A resident in Oxford or Cambridge must be either 
exceptionally shy or exceptionally self-confident if he have 
missed finding this chanty of knowledge at his service. ' Freely 
ye have received; freely give.' It is one of the pleasures of 
life in either place that, if you lack some information for your 
purpose on any particular point, there is always a friend down 
the next street to supply or help you to it. 

The adversary, however, is usually too wise to risk a frontal 
attack. He will grant the learning but assert (among other 
objections presently to be considered) that the mass of it is 


The Scholarly Don 353 

'useless'; that it deals with past history, dead languages, etc., 
that it 'doesn't pay' ; and he will point to the admitted fact that 
a number of the most learned professors fail to fill their lecture 
rooms. But this, to start with, begs the question. It assumes 
the value of learning to correspond with its immediate market 
price, whereas in the whole world there is no greater fallacy, or 
string of fallacies, than can be hung round the question 'Does 
it pay?' Even the blessed word 'efficiency' is a relative term, 
at once inviting the question ' Efficiency for what ? ' A generous 
mind (which, as I understand it, a university exists to cultivate) 
knows that a number of the very best things in the world do 
not pay for the simple reason that they are priceless. Tempted 
to stray for a moment beyond my immediate subject, I 
might ask if it paid Columbus to insist that the earth was 
round, or Galileo that it rotated, or Harvey that the blood 

But I must confine myself here to the favourite object of 
attack Greek and Latin, the 'Classics.' Now the most diffi- 
cult assailant to meet on this ground is the self-made man who 
proclaims, 'Sir, I had never a smattering of either, and look at 
Me!' Well, you do; and precisely because a polite education 
has given you a smattering (say) of both, your tongue is tied, 
the argumentum ad hominem which he challenges is just what 
a different training forbids. 

To the wiser I would suggest that Greek and Latin have no 
rivals in cultivating a certain habit of mind, which, being slow of 
acquisition, cannot (any more than fine manners) be tied up 
with string and delivered over the shop counter in a parcel. 
It is not only not 'WoolworthV; it has nothing to do with 
mass production or quick returns. No genuine work for man's 
lasting health can ever be produced in that way. We may go 
on amusing ourselves with cinematic sketches of civilization's 
slow past and equally popular advice on making existence move 
quicker and faster always faster, but to what end ? We may 
employ a hundred specialists to vie in discovering the last 

3 54 The Scholarly Don 

refinement in poison gas. That again would be ' practical ' but 
for what final purpose save to obliterate decent society? In 
Greece, and in Athens especially, there happened to emerge a 
habit of mind which, united with a disinterested curiosity in 
the scheme of creation, has set the example to all European 
'culture* ; in Rome there grew up two systems of jurisprudence 
and of government which to-day enshrine all the principles of 
law and order. No doubt the ancients knew less of astronomy, 
of geometry, of mathematics than we knew, less of painting and 
perhaps less of poetry. But I speak of the habit of mind which 
laid the foundations. 

Moreover, let no one contemn Greek and Latin as dead lan- 
guages, spent and therefore not dangerous. Twice already in 
what is labelled as 'Modern History,' Greek has revived, to 
explode and blow, first a realm of Papacy and, next, a whole 
chain of Bourbon dynasties sky-high. Let the simple narra- 
tives of Plutarch, for example, once get out of control by the 
educated and into the heads of the community as in the French 
Revolution and the Italian risorgimento and you never can tell 
what may happen. 

But (continues the objector) your eminent Professors of Greek 
and Latin do not spread their learning ; do not publish world- 
compelling books; do not attract large classes; are not even 
sociable in conversation. It were idle, perhaps, to refer one 
who falls back upon this ground to Browning's A Grammarian s 
Funeral as probably hinting a part at least of the answer. He 
would be perplexed. So after pointing out that the ground has 
been shifted away from the value of knowing for its own sake 
to the vulgar presumption that universities exist not primarily 
alone, but wholly for the instruction of youth I will take him 
on this ground also. Be it admitted that the more deeply a man 
explores his subject, the further he will be led to consider the 
views of those who have studied and thought upon it before 
him; the more conscious he will feel of his own fallibility in the 
fog of ignorance encompassing us all. He will read on and on, 

The Scholarly Don 355 

and a growing modesty (weighted maybe with a touch of scorn) 
will deter him from seeking such positive assertions as are made 
by hastier, less-informed men. Be it further admitted that in 
some the very weight of their knowledge induces timidity. 
They start on a Preface or Introduction, and are forthwith 
daunted by the crowd of pros and cons, through which the 
argument has to cut its way, while yet accounting for them. 
Moreover, in the pursuit of much reading they have missed the 
knack of lucid writing, which can only be won by practice ; and 
so many of our great scholars have died with the magnum opus 
unwritten, left but in note-books, scraps, hieroglyphics, of which 
their executors can make nothing. 

But, as a fact, the * output' (as our critic would phrase it) ot 
Classical scholarship by Oxford and Cambridge will stand 
against that of any two universities in the world, and is con- 
tinuous, as the critic might assure himself by a study of current 
book-catalogues, together with listed reports and 'proceedings' 
of learned societies. On top of these he might consider (say) 
the New English Dictionary and ask himself how that monument 
of our time could have been based or built save on the trained 
judgment and patient industry of classical scholars: in which 
industry, he might, if generous, detect also something of the 
noblesse oblige of their order. 

As for the sneer that few pupils attend the lectures of these 
eminent ones, a brief reflection should tell him that the higher 
the learning the narrower will shrink the number of those 
qualified to listen to it with profit a rule of common sense that 
applies, one might imagine, to most occupations in life. The 
universities provide other lectures, diverse and plenty in- 
formative or stimulating, as the subject requires or the student 
needs. Waiving that simple but important fact, let me assure 
the critic of my own young experience and later daily observa- 
tion, that these eminent men are privately, constantly, at the call 
of any undergraduate, however elementary his attainment, to 
discuss, instruct, advise. A very few weeks ago, in a letter to 

356 The, Scholarly Don 

The Times i the present Master of Trinity, having to point out 
a general proposition, modestly (as he would) disclosed 'let 
out* as it were how he had once helped a pupil in mathematics. 

One who came to us in his third year was described by his tutor 
as idle, stupid, and very unlikely to get through his Tripos. I agreed 
with his tutor until we began to study the mathematics of collisions 
between spheres. I knew he was fond of billiards and I pointed out 
to him that the mathematics we were doing gave reasons why he 
should play certain shots in the way he did. The effect was re- 
markable. He had never before had any conception that mathematics 
could have any connection with anything that could interest a rational 
being. He began to work like a nigger and in one year's work got 
a good place among the Senior Optimes. 

Now this is but a striking example of what in a less striking way 
daily happens in every * School' or Faculty in Oxford and Cam- 
bridge; and in it lies the familiar, though seldom advertised, 
virtue of the tutorial system that easy intercourse connoted by 
the phrase 'I am reading with So-and-so*; in either place a 
habi^ a quiet system, in which old and young keep their places, 
but meet in friendly understanding. 

The dons naturally do not talk about this; seldom or never 
trouble to defend themselves ; in fact, do not talk much, and are 
consequently arraigned as dull fellows by the outside world. 
This is a trifling matter ; but, having some experience of what 
our most persistent denouncer can do when he shares our 
hospitality, I can affirm that he at any rate has never given our 
powers of conversation a chance; never allowing our grave 
interest to stray from the fascinating theme of himself. To be 
sure the play of talk at a table from which women are excluded 
must, in the nature of things, lack much of civility and charm. 
But we do our best: and Hazlitt's remark that 'You will hear 
more good things in one day on the top of a coach, going and 
coming from Oxford, than in one year from all the residents in 
that learned seminary* seems to me, apart from its extravagance, 
at once obvious and stupid so obvious, indeed, that its stupidity 

The Scholarly Don 357 

may be left without comment. As a pendant to it, equally 
without comment, I will leave to my supposed adversary on 
this point a small story as a present. Entertaining a distinguished 
guest at my own present college, in Combination Room after 
dinner the enior Fellow (an eminent classic, now defunct) 
politely inquired, 'I suppose, Mr. Astronomer Royal, the old 
notion prevalent in my youth, that the moon had some influence 
on the tides, has in these days been quite exploded?' 

Now, without going into details innumerable and not to be 
embarked upon in a short paper of the training offered by 
Oxford and Cambridge to their undergraduate members, I invite 
the reader to draw some general conclusions with me. 

First, it cannot be denied that Oxford and Cambridge are 
venerable, were it but historically for the sake of the illustrious 
host that have taught and learnt, resided in or passed through 
them; on that the mind of a newcomer, so it be of any gentle 
quality, will yield to this impression: 

I could not print 

Ground where the grass had yielded to the steps 
Of generations of illustrious men 
Unmoved. I could not always lightly pass 
Through the same gateways, sleep where they had slept, 
Wake where they waked, range that inclosure old, 
That garden of great intellects undisturbed . . . 

And this veneration is not merely retrospective. It and its 
virtue continue alive and active, hospitable to each new genera- 
tion. It was a proud thing (I must not speak of to-day) for a 
boy to belong to a society which included a Thomas Hill Green, 
a Robinson Ellis, an Ingram Bywater; or a Munro, a Westcott, 
a Henry Maine, a Clerk-Maxwell. These men were as lanterns 
attracting youth to receive the light and carry it on. Prestige 
is a word open to unworthy connotation ; but no snobbery can 
be attached to the prestige these conferred. Where would our 
electricians be to-day but for Clerk-Maxwell ? In what measure 
inconsiderable the influence of Jowett on minds that have ruled 

358 The Scholarly Don 

large dominions under the Crown? Or, to take a man who 
neither knew nor courted publicity Who can count the many 
diverse debts owed by students to Henry Bradshaw, some time 
University Librarian of Cambridge of whom Mommsen said : 
'If I'd had a shorthand-writer with me, I could have got in 
half an hour's talk enough materials to have made an interesting 

Of the beauty of the two gardened places and what it means 
of what the Bodleian, for instance, or Magdalen Tower, or 
King's College Chapel and the nigh river bridges, have meant 
through life to those who have passed, during three years or so, 
under their shadow, I need not speak. 'But they are medieval.' 
Yes, as I put it once in a lecture: 'As they stand, Oxford and 
Cambridge so alike while they play at differences and both so 
unlike anything else in the world do by a hundred daily reminders 
connect us with the Middle Ages, or, if you prefer Arnold's 
phrase, "Whisper their lost enchantments." The cloister, the 
grave grace in hall, the chapel choir, the men hurrying into their 
surplices or to lectures "with the wind in their gowns," the stair- 
case, the nest of chambers within the oak all these softly rever- 
berate over our life here, as from belfries, the medieval mind.' 
Yes, and transmuted through the medieval, the classical mind 
also, to modern uses. 

It is because these two universities are not devised institutions, 
constructed by theorists or by politicians (Laud himself reformed 
of inner knowledge, though he imposed his reforms from with- 
out), but have grown and grown slowly with the national 
character, that external interference, however well intended, has 
so often defeated its own object. 

Let me conclude with one instance of development by this 
process of growth. Simply because men of eminent learning 
set up their desks in these two places, young scholars flocked to 
them from north and south and from all over Europe ; because 
this young multitude was naturally turbulent, wise authority 
used a model at hand, the monastic system, to separate it into 

The Scholarly Don 359 

colleges under rule. As the experiment succeeded, the colleges 
multiplied; every poor scholar being assigned to a senior for 
advice and supervision. All this, of course, is elementary : but 
not everybody recognizes that out of this grew the flower of 
university life, which is friendship. 

For the dons (you say) are dumb fellows, and on this point 
they certainly are. One has to live long and intimately 
among them before realizing, and then with difficulty, their 
innumerable acts of kindness, help over young troubles, self- 
sacrifice, quiet and secret benevolence; and they are not rich 
men. As for the undergraduates, let Bagehot speak, no 
sparing critic: 

There is nothing for young men like being thrown into close 
neighbourhood with young men ; it is the age of friendship ; and every 
encouragement should be given every opportunity enlarged for it. 
Take an uncollegiate Englishman and you will generally find that he 
has no friends. He has not the habit. He has his family, his business, 
his acquaintances, and these occupy his time. He has not been 
thrown during the breathing-time of human life into close connection 
with those who are also beginning or thinking of beginning to enter 
on its labours. School friendships are childish; after-life rarely 
brings many ; it is in youth alone that we can engrave deep and wise 
friendships on our close and stubborn texture. If there be romance 
in them, it is a romance which few would tear aside. 

Be it added as an advantage of university life over that of any 
training college, that as this concourse of youth is taught in 
various subjects and for different careers, its intercourse gives a 
catholicity to its friendships and, albeit insensibly, a grasp on 
one of the most useful truths in life that it takes all sorts to 
make a world. In disputation and 'dialectic* has ever been 
traditional at Oxford and Cambridge, once a serious academic 
exercise, now a half-serious sport it is no bad thing for a 
youngster to talk some folly, very good for him to have the 
froth blown off by a cheerful exhortation not to make an ass of 
himself, or 'Tell us something you know something about.' 

360 The Scholarly Don . 

But I am being tempted beyond my theme; and shall end by 
asserting that if learning be valuable for its own sake and beyond 
any price to be put in ledgers ; if it be a reward of life to live in 
the affectionate remembrance of men whom he helped as youths, 
and another to have spent his days in guarding a high tradition 
while stewarding a beautiful estate ; then the Scholarly Don has 
no call to answer for himself. But, though 

The gratitude of men has oftener left him mourning, he and the 
shades of many I have walked with beside the perpetual streams of 
Isis and Granta will let pass this tribute with a smile. 


r TpHE reader, at this time of year supposed to be on holiday, 
JL is invited to visit a certain room overlooking the sea. It 
served the family once on a time as day nursery. 

He that hath found some fledg'd bird's nest may know 
At first sight if the bird be flown . . . 

The toys have gone some relegated upstairs to the attics, others 
parted with (and, when it came to the tailless rocking-horse, 
not without some natural tears) to endow the infants' depart- 
ment of the elementary school up the hill. But the room keeps 
its mementoes in pictures on the wall, some bits of pottery on 
the mantelshelf and, specially, a plain table covered with a cloth 
of check red-and-blue, its pattern by no means beautiful but 
recovered, after a religious search through London, as ancestrally 
'the proper one for the children* and since from time to time 
renewed as their affection for it insisted. 

But the real monument of this bared room remains : its long 
and large bookcase, to which paterfamilias has, even yet, to 
resort sometimes in desperate hunt after a book missing from 
the library. Sometimes he discovers it, oftener not more than 
once to interrupt the narrative for a moment he has been 
caught, held up in his search, by a wild surmise a stab, so to 
speak, of wonder at the mysteries of childhood, of contrition 
perhaps for some thorn he might have extracted, some seated 
inward trouble he should have guessed but did not. How or 
why in the world, for instance, or when, did Law's Serious Call 
to a Devout and Holy Life come to be wedged here between 
The Three Musketeers and Mr. Midshipman Easy? Did it 
mark some intermittent resolve ' to be good ' ? something, for 
example, having happened with the catapult, as in the Nico- 
machean Ethics ? No such hypothesis, at any rate, will account 
for the close companionship of Epipsycludion and Mr. W. W. 
Jacobs' s Many Cargoes admirable compositions both, but 
*N 361 

362 Sea Stories 

seldom associated in the grown-up mind as next-door neighbours 
or even as on visiting terms. Maternal suggestion its sagacity 
admitted, its profundity not is that Miss X, late governess, 
probably left it (Epipsychidion) behind her. Well, to be sure, 
Miss X had her off moments, or so at least one was assured. 
But so have children for that matter: mighty odd ones and 
hours of them. As a rustic philosopher once remarked: 'You 
can usually account for a cheeld afore he comes ; but once he 's 
here good Lord!' 

A boy's will is the wind's will 

And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts. 

It should have been announced earlier that the proprietors of 
the bookcase came of old seafaring stock, its later blood tinged 
not tainted, one hopes with some infusion of literature. 
Therefore, of course, Longfellow is here, well thumbed. And 
why not? 'A white man, but no poet' one has heard it said 
of him. But surely it must be a superfoetation of culture (and 
how Blake, for instance, would have scorned it!) which forbids 
a poet to move the simple simply and denies the title to one 
who can awake the young heart to romance with such a verse as 
Sails of silk and ropes of sendal, 
Such as gleam in ancient lore ; 
And the singing of the sailors, 
And the answer from the shore. 

Mrs. Alice Meynell, including The Ancient Manner in her 
anthology The Flower of the Mind^ added a note: 'This poem is 
surely more full of a certain quality of extreme poetry the 
complete flower of the mind, the most single magic than any 
other in our language. But the reader must be permitted to 
call the story silly.' He may also go a bit farther and hit on 
the reflection that in this very 'silliness' lies no small part of the 
secret of the poem, its essence, its 'poetry'; in short, 

The silly buckets on the deck, 
That had so long remained, 

I dreamt that they were fill'd with dew. 

Sea Stories 363 

A certain divine foolishness belongs to the true sea-story, is as 
proper to it as to a fairy-tale. Take up almost any story of 
Marryat's, of Ballantyne's, and you find this the inspiration of 
the young runaway, its hero. If romantic poetry sprang in 
Coleridge's time from a * renascence of wonder,' here in observ- 
able fact, in the person of 'the small apple-eating urchin whom 
we know,' is renascence perpetual with the race; a restless 
instinct often incurable by age, hardship, repeated disillusion; 
seized upon and interpreted by many writers under many per- 
sonifications Robinson Crusoe, Simon Danz, who, at home 
among his tulips in a landscape dotted with water-mills, 

thinks he shall take to the sea again, 
For one more cruise with his buccaneers, 

Ulysses (Tennyson's), Mr. Kipling's mariners in heaven ' pluck- 
ing at their harps, and they plucked unhandily' to the Last 
Chantey : 

And the ships shall go abroad 
To the Glory of the Lord 
Who heard the silly sailor-folk and gave them back their sea. 

'Wonder' would seem to be the nerve of it. 'They that go 
down to the sea in ships, and occupy their business in great 
waters, these men see the works of the Lord and his wonders 
in the deep. . . . This great and wide sea also. . . . There go 
the ships: there is that Leviathan. . . .' 

This wonder, operating upon simplicity as in a fairy-tale, is 
best served in a sea-story, as in a fairy-tale, by perfectly plain 
straightforward narrative. The horizon lies straight, level, 
open as the palm of your hand : the marvels begin over the 
drawn line of it, and on that edge belief or disbelief will hang 
suspended. For this reason, for some time to their parents' 
surprise, the children declined to get excited over Conrad save 
by Youth, that little masterpiece. They not only wanted more 
sea and less psychology: they complained against a kind of story 
that was always filling and backing ; as one of them observed 

364 Sea Stories 

idiomatically, it was like steering a monkey by the tail. Pater- 
familias, skirting Conrad, surmised another snag ahead. Parents 
are apt to take it for granted that the idols of their own youth 
will be acceptable to their offspring, and to choose books for 
birthday and Christmas presents accordingly. A little to the 
left of Conrad lay a shoal of these with affectionate inscription 
on their fly-leaves Tom Cringle's Log, The Cruise of the < Midge / 
Dana's Two Years Before the Mast, and others long-winded 
yarns composed by seamen in days of long-winded voyages for 
readers as patient as themselves in expectation of port. Would 
the young of a hastier generation be as patient ? The worn 
condition of the books is reassuring. ' Soiled copies,' too, are 
the scattered Marryats Easy, Peter Simple, Snarleyyow, Frank 
Mildmay, The King's Own (the tears of an aunt, long ago, had 
bedewed an earlier copy of this last), and a few of Herman 
Melville's, down to White Jacket. The belated 'discovery' of 
Melville by our intelligentsia had not lacked comment at the 
time in a household the head of which had lost in the early 
nineties, by the toss of a coin with a friend, the delectable name 
'Fayaway,' coveted by each for his own small yacht. 

On evidence of the bindings, interest in Kingston's famous 
tetralogy, passionate over The Three Midshipmen, declined 
almost mathematically between it and The Three Admirals. 
(But do not nine- tenths of us grow less interesting with advance- 
ment, if not with age ? How could Dumas have achieved that 
last triumph, the Vicomte de Bragelonne but by weaving incident 
around a great heart which had lost its companions and missed 
promotion?) In the works, too, of 'Ballantyne the Brave' a 
like decline of interest becomes painfully convincing if one takes 
them down from their haphazard jumble on the shelf and re- 
arranges them in chronological order as they were written ; the 
reason for it apparent even more painfully. Increasing doses 
of pietism, of 'improvement,' of talky-talky; too, too much 
powder in the jam! The clean, unconsciously cruel, instinct of 
childhood rejected this as it had rejected Masterman Ready, 

Sea Stories 365 

and as it would have rejected any intrusion of the schoolmaster 
upon a fairy-tale. But Ballantyne at his best, as in The Coral 
Island \ 

In The Swiss Family Robinson this intrusion or infection by 
the schoolmaster in guise of a papa capable of everything as 
Habakkuk and in botany omniscient as Solomon, who 'spake of 
trees, from the cedar-tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop 
that springeth out of the wall/ not to mention the rum shrub 
of Burnand's parody had been confessedly deterrent to the 
children's zest; in their language he was 'a whale': was, in fact, 
very like a whale, and overpowering. Barring papa the book 
had all the best ingredients the wreck, salvage, hunt for pro- 
visions, carpenter's work with necessity mother to invention 
the house in the tree, a superlative stroke. It was Defoe, of 
course, who first discovered the fascination of carpentry in such 
a tale, of improvising a hut with stockade complete. The Coral 
Island, taking this over, raised the young mud-pie sand-castle- 
building imagination to its proper nth by employing three boys 
for its wrecked castaways. On top of this the story worked in 
a ferocious pirate and an escape. What nearer to the real thing 
was ever devised until Sir James Barrie came along and in 
Peter Pan subtilized Scottish with Scottish, the rather heavy fun 
of Ballantyne's Peterkin with his own wistful finer wit? 

For a sustained narrative of castaway contrivance, with the 
open boat business thrown in, Charles Reade's Foul Play can 
be as highly commended, and to middle age more highly. One 
can scarcely name a prose novelist superior to Reade when he 
forgets for a while his fads, propaganda, petty squabbles, be- 
setting vulgarities, and fairly lets his genius loose on a sustained 
epic narrative, such as (among others) that of the homeward 
voyage of the Agra in Hard Cash. Invention again, with 
carpentry turned scientific and its tools beaten into piston-rods, 
is the motive-power in Jules Verne: his special literary gift a 
power over what Aristotle called the * probable impossible.' He 
commands a vessel carefully equipped with every appliance for 

366 Sea Stories 

hunting the snark; with the latest thing in sextants he finds 
the sun a trifle wide of due north at noon, reports this, and the 
reader as chief officer 'makes it so* without a twinge; for the 
ship's log has been forewarning this or something like it all 
along, with entries of 'corroborative detail intended to give 
artistic verisimilitude* to a narrative which, however, is neither 
bald nor unconvincing, but rather so convincing in its logical 
flow of detail that a young student of The English at the North 
Pole from this bookcase did once, on hearing of its reported 
discovery by a lot of Americans, stand up and indignantly pro- 
test that it had been done some years before and it was a dirty 
trick to sneak the credit of it off Captain Hatteras just because 
he happened at present to be in a lunatic asylum and could not 
contradict this rumour. 

Jules Verne, then, is fairly well represented; and here are 
Treasure Island, of course, The Master of Ballantrae, The 
Cruise of the 'Cachalot'; a row of W. W. Jacobs, another of 
Frank Stockton (blessings on Mrs. Leeks and Mrs. Aleshine!), 
another of Clark Russell headed by The Wreck of the ' GrosvenorJ 
of which the legend is that one member of the family sat up all 
night to finish it by the ray of a smuggled candle. Indeed you 
will meet in it a thrill to match Crusoe's discovery of the 
footprint a thrill conveyed in seven words: 

At this moment I missed the carpenter. 

The array of fiction on the shelves, it should be said, includes 
many of the old and tried novelists (Dickens, for instance, in a 
row almost complete, with, possibly to the visitor's surprise, 
sets of Disraeli, Mrs. Gaskell, even Jane Austen ; nursery books, 
'Lears,' 'Alices/ Miss Potters, Leslie Brookes, Andrew Lang's 
multicolour fairy books, all in a right profusion and confusion. 
But the sea-faring books predominate: and lest this chance 
catalogue be held to have favoured fiction beyond all propor- 
tion, let us hastily weigh in James's Naval History, Brassey's 
index to the same, half a dozen oth&r volumes of the Navy Record 

Sea Stories 367 

Society, an Oppenheim or two, Captain Cook's Journals, 
Dampier, Shelvocke, a Hakluyt condensed 'for the young'; 
and top these with a full armful of strictly practical The 
Channel Pilot, Yachtsman's Guide, Textbook of Navigation and 
Nautical Astronomy, The Sailing Boat, stray numbers of The 
Mariner s Mirror, in publications of the old (now the Royal) 
Cruising Club, Hints for Navigation : these and their like in 
plenty to choose from. 

Add to them a selection of * single-handed ' books, full of 
practical stuff set down by solitaries who loved the sea, avoided 
their fellows, and yet by exploring out-of-the-way creeks, 
channels, havens, and charting them, have left, beneficently if 
not benevolently, whole stacks of helpful soundings, with 
hints and cautions. As notable among these we may choose 
McMullen's Down Channel and five volumes of Sailing Tours, 
by the late Frank Cowper ('Tom Allalone'). Internal evidence 
hints broadly enough that McMullen could never get along with 
any crew he shipped; while Cowper, as any one's shipmate, 
would start with rancour and continue it ashore. But each was 
a redoubtable man of his hands. Cowper closed his career as 
a Beaufort Brother in the famous Hospital of St. Cross, juxta 
Winchester; McMullen met an end more to his liking; he was 
found, dead and cold, in mid-Channel, his hand still stiff on the 
tiller of his boat Perseus, apparently holding her close up and 
along the stairway of the moon : 

for my purpose holds 

To sail beyond the sunset and the baths 

Of all the western stars until I die. 

It may be that the gulfs will wash us down, 

It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles. 

But dearest, perhaps, of all the books in the case rich treasuries 
of equal excitement for old and young have been Mr. Basil 
Lubbock's epical yet scholarly books on the great sailing 
clippers, The China Clippers, The Colonial Clippers, with The 
Log of the * Cutty SarkJ and their great homeward races with 

368 Sea Stories 

their cargoes of tea or of wool. Could ever a finish be more 
thrilling than that neck-and-neck one, all the way up the 
Channel, between Taeping and Ariel, leaders of the China fleet 
of eleven in 1866? All Mincing Lane and half the City had 
bets on the result: 

All day the two ships surged up Channel together going 14 knots, 
with royal stunsails and all flying kites set, the wind being strong 
from W.S.W. 

The Lizard lights were abeam at 8 a.m. and Star Point at noon. 
Towards 6 p.m., when off Portland both ships were compelled to 
take in their Jamie Greens in order to get the anchors over. At 
7.25 p.m. St. Catherines bore north one mile, and soon after mid- 
night Beachy Head was abeam, distant five miles. All this time 
there had been no alteration to speak of in the distance between the 
two vessels Ariel kept her lead, gaining a little as the wind 
freshened, and letting Taeping up again as it took off. 

For the issue, suspended until the last moment, the reader of 
this extract must go to the book itself, as also for details of the 
Homeric rivalry between Thermopylae and Cutty Sark and their 
great duel of 1872. Cutty Sark, after many and moving vicissi- 
tudes, has come to anchor and honourable old age in Falmouth 
Harbour. Thermopylae has passed into a name, a shade. The 
youngsters know Cutty Sark, therefore, and worship every line 
of her; but because the present writer has talked with survivors 
from the service of both, as an elder he keeps up his end for 
Thermopylae, with the gilt "Cock of the Sea* on her truck: the 
pride of our Merchant Service, 'justly considered by most sea- 
men,' says Mr. Lubbock, 'the fastest sailing ship ever launched* : 
a witch in conjuring speed out of light airs. She has been 
known to have gone along seven knots an hour when a man 
could have walked round her decks with a lighted candle; in a 
steady quartering breeze she would reach thirteen comfortably, 
her helm amidships and a small boy steering: 

Men are we, and must grieve when even the shade 
Of that which once was great is passed away. 

Sea Stories 369 

Even the shades of these, of their Australian trade sisters, of the 
Clyde-built rounders of the Horn, their last successors, have 
passed the final death warrant dates back to the cutting of the 
Panama Canal. A Dutch story, The Johanna Maria^ nobly 
solemnizes the close of a noble era. It is a love story: the 
beloved a ship, her life-long lover and pursuer a simple sail- 
maker; and when at length he wins her and as a bridegroom 
brings her home he is old and she a ' museum-piece ' : 

With topmasts and yards struck the ship lay moored in the 
Dijksgracht, near the place where she had first taken the water. Boys 
from the training-ship and from the navigation school who came to 
row stopped to look at her from bow to stern. . . . The people walk- 
ing over the Mariniersborg stood still, pointed and said, 'a sailing 
ship, the old days.' Rarely was any one seen on board, only two 
grizzled men and a negro and sometimes in the evening there was 
the sound of music. 

Yet it remains a consolation for some of us to have known the 
sailing ship as she trod the waters in that sunset of which the 
last rays lie up her achieved perfection. Et vera incessu patuit 
dea. . . . Even goddesses die, and many queens have gone to 
execution : none more royally than this one in all her high-piled 


(After Arabius) 

WATERS and orchards are mine, trellis of apple and vine 
Ordered, and bordered below the sea caresses my wall ; 
Plenty of all that I lack pours from the farm at my back, 

Tribute of fish at my feet from the smack unlading her haul. 
Ye that of me are possest nightly securely may rest 
Lulled, with the song-weary bird in his nest, by the ferryman's 



(App. Planud: Author unknown) 

'Wretch!' by her statue in Cnidos soliloquized Aphrodite 
'When did Praxiteles catch me without a chemise, or a nightie?' 




A^IONG vanished and fast vanishing features of the Cam- 
bridge Market Hill, none will be searched for by habitual 
eyes and missed with a keener sense of loss than he. 

Gustave David was born in 1860 in Paris, where his father 
kept a small antique-shop. Four years later the family of 
French descent crossed with Hebrew moved to Switzerland, 
where the child received his early education in three languages ; 
thence in the seventies, under what mysterious direction is not 
known, migrated to England, to start a book-trade in Gorleston. 
'At that time,' says Boswell, writing of 1709, of Lichfield and 
of Dr. Johnson's father, 'booksellers' shops in the provincial 
towns of England were very rare "and might only earn with 
assiduity" a reasonable share of wealth.' One may guess that 
in one hundred and fifty years or more Gorleston had scarcely 
overtaken Michael Johnson's Lichfield as a literary mart. At 
any rate another move was made, this time to London; where 
Gustave, now a grown man, set up in a small business of his own. 
Whether it wilted, or a narrow street in the capital palled on him, 
or (let us believe) urged by the daemon of his genius, one day 
he put up his shutters, headed for Cambridge, and erected a stall ; 
and there for many generations (as generations are counted here) 
was a centre of his own amid ancient colleges, accepted as belong- 
ing to a 'University' which, literally translated, means 'all of Us.' 
There it just was. And there he stood on all working days 
save Thursday and Saturday ; always smoking but at your ser- 
vice ; inscrutable with a subdolent smile which lit up something 
like affection on the approach of some tried favourite among his 
clients. (His greeting of the late Charles Whibley, for instance, 
had to be witnessed to correct any one's estimate of his own 
worth in the scale of David's.) On Saturdays, when the merry 
costers invaded the market, like some grave Tyrian trader he 
withdrew to the neighbouring eminence of Pease Hill, and there, 


372 Obituary ofGustave David 

among the fried-fish stalls, undid his corded bales. Also, if you 
had hesitated over a purchase, or passed in too great a hurry to 
snap it up, the odds were you would miss it for ever. It had 
been swept back overnight into his shop, in which to recover 
it was to search for a needle in a haystack. Legend even held 
that he disposed each day's surplus stock under the hicjacets of 
St. Edward's churchyard. On Thursdays he attended the book 
sales in London. His method of bidding and buying there 
must have obeyed some steady system into which it is no 
business of ours to inquire. But his system of pricing and 
selling, long tested, could be accepted as an honest conspiracy 
of help between dealer and purchaser. It was based (if I under- 
stand it) on the working out in the long run of a simple, modest, 
and reasonable percentage. He must have been wise enough 
to know the money's worth of many a trouvaille, but sacrificed 
that knowledge to his noble reputation for probity. 

A spice of vanity may have mixed itself into this, as into most 
men's high purposes : but it once led to the defeat of a lower 
one. A few years ago some friends and admirers planned a 
luncheon in his honour, and would have decorated the front of 
the menu card with a photogravure of David, singular and 
familiar personification of something in the genius loci. Un- 
happily, getting wind of this, he faced the photographer in a 
'gent's boater,' frock coat, light trousers, and white spats. At 
the subsequent luncheon in the hall of Trinity his emotion, 
expressed in manner rather than in words, went straight to the 
hearts of all the large company gathered. 

An obituary notice in the Cambridge Daily News tells us that 
'his great ambition was to retire and collect old books.' This 
to many will suggest a possible parallel with Omar Khayyam's 

wonder: vri . 

What the Vintners buy 

One half so precious as the stuff they sell. 

May the stall he founded, and so curiously made his own and 
the University's, long stand on Market Hill! 


BY all means practise thou to live alone, 
Hardening thy talent to a monument 
On a high moor, impervious, a stone 
Whereby the reverent pilgrim, pitching tent 

Shall kneel to trace 

The legend on its lichened northern face, 
And say 'Here was a Master, by God's grace/ 

But in the valley, where thy brothers keep 
And sisters, that in duty grow as trees 
O'ercharging ladders where the salmon leap, 
Or shading cattle, or sheltering cottages 

Their temporal race 

Continues in the plowman's steady pace 
To grave a deeper legend, by God's grace. 



JOHN BERRYCOMBE having crossed the public ferry (on 
a Sunday twopence for foot passengers, there and back) took 
a path which led up through and along the woods to descend 
and join the high road by Reselda Creek, thereby shortening 
his journey by half a mile. 

Reselda Creek (locally Reselda *PylP) is actually a creek no 
longer. Detritus from the mines inland began to choke its 
navigable channel long years ago ; and what was once an estuary 
is now a green level of apparent but treacherous pasture, through 
which at low water a stream trickles to be met half-heartedly by 
the neaps, and where a branch of it washes round the eyot a 
pair of swans nest annually original ones or progeny, and 
never more than one pair, forbidding the creek to intruders. 
But stray herons come to fish there and at intervals whole flocks 
of gulls will stud the level. Twice a year maybe, at the 
equinoxes, a spring tide with a sou'wester behind it will flood 
Reselda Pyll to cover the roadway and suck at the timbers of a 
broken lock-gate, relic of a canal, planned in the eighteen- 
thirties and abandoned on the threat of a mineral railway, which 
in turn never came to birth. The high woodlands on either 
side of Reselda belong legally to an impoverished landlord, but 
towards nightfall the curlews claim tenantry, later the owls. 

At a turn of the road on this Sunday afternoon the goal of 
John Berrycombe's walk, as for twenty-five years it had been 
one house stood solitary ; an inn : one-storeyed, thatched, cleanly 
whitewashed, with a signboard 'The Norseman's Arms,' and 
over the door lintel: 





Faithful Jane 375 

The explanation why a public-house, and one so oddly named, 
should occupy this unlikely spot is simple enough. In the 
earlier years of Queen Victoria's reign, while the mines worked 
and before their refuse had silted up its channel, vessels of light 
draught and strings of barges too, at times, had frequented 
Reselda Pyll, unloading timber for mine-props. The vessels 
with their cargoes and their skippers and quite often the 
skipper's family for crew or part of it were all from Norway ; 
and it was Jane Trewman's grandfather Christopher who had 
planted an inn here as a house-of-call, run almost on domestic 
lines, but without stint of drink. It had attracted the miners, 
too, from 'up above* staid men for the most part, and 
Methodists, whose wives (as they put it) 'didn't mind getting 
a man out of the way for a bit, so long as one knows where 
he 's to. 9 So Christopher had put by a tidy pile of money and 
left it with the inn to his only child, Christopher the Second: 
a cautious man, who, when the mining collapsed in the late 
forties, and the young men emigrated to America, and the kindly 
Norwegian timber-carriers came no more, resigned himself to 
dwindled custom, lived sparingly on his income and left the 
capital to his only child, Jane, then seventeen. 


As John Berrycombe took the woodland footpath the ferry- 
man jerked a thumb after him : 

'Sure as three o'clock strikes Sunday rain or shine. 
'Wonder how long 'tis old Hardy 's been at it.' 

Indeed neither he nor the other man, idling by the quay- 
side, could tell; nor even why they spoke of John as 'old 
Hardy.' Years ago some wag had put the nickname 'Hardy 
Norseman* upon him, but the second word had dropped out of 

'Before you and I were much better than christened, I reckon. 
"Marry in haste," the saying is. Well, maybe the both of us 

376 Faithful Jane 

done it hi our hot days, and I 'm not askin' ; but seemin' to me 
old Hardy 's trying of it t' other way about. 

'And the trouble is' the ferryman lit his pipe slowly 'that 
neither you nor me will likely see it out. . . . Well, soce, there 's 
only one life to live, here below; and, Sunday or week, that's 
a comfort.' 

John Berrycombe, of course, heard nothing of this, nor if he 
had would he have heeded. By habit he was one who took all 
talk with his fellows as meaning just so much as 'Good day.' 
No one ever called him surly, but his mind worked slowly, and, 
unless sharply recalled, blind as a mole's, unobservant of any 
but its own track. So this afternoon, whether the path changed 
its carpet from moss to larch-needles under his large feet, or 
his heavy shoulders brushed past yellowing beech, or the sun 
rayed through gaps over and across patches of rhododendron, 
no sense of any difference touched him. His mother, as always, 
had provided an ample midday dinner : Selina had cooked and 
served it well; and here was September, latish and the usual 
sort of thing. 

But where this footpath descended and met the road a sharp 
musketry of sound fetched him to a standstill of children's 
voices shrilling, and volleys of excited laughter. It came from 
4 The Norseman's Arms,' too, not fifty yards ahead; and this 
was Sunday afternoon. 

John halted and pulled out his watch ; pocketed it slowly and 
went forward. 

Just beyond a point where the road turned up to the inn's 
main door, and below its long back garden, there ran a 'hoist* 
(raised footway), years ago built as a protection against the high 
spring tides. A few yards beyond the inn's abutment a wicket- 
gate gave access to the garden a gate John habitually used on 
wet days, entering the house by its back door. 

(It should be explained that at the date of our story the law 
laid on public-houses a Sunday restriction against all customers 
save 'bona fide travellers,' but no one not even the police 

Faithful Jane 377 

ever thought of measuring the distance of the 'Arms' from the 
paper-mills where John lived and did his business; it being 
understood that he came for purposes of courtship, and, more- 
over, paid nothing for what he consumed.) 

John Berrycombe, then, halted again at this wicket-gate and 
stared upon the garden. On its stretch of turf, hands joined, 
a circle of children danced wildly to the game of Kiss-in-the- 
Ring, Jane Trewman, in the middle of the chain, directing it. 
When the chain was broken for a boy to walk around to choose 
his partner, peals of clapping and laughter greeted bride and 
bridegroom as they stepped into the centre to be danced around. 

In one of these intervals Jane caught sight of John at the gate. 

'There! that will do. . . . Now run, all of you, and play tig 
in the orchard. Twenty minutes, and then time for good-bye.' 

She came towards John, flushed and panting a little; but 
turned midway to call to a middle-aged woman busy at clearing 
a set of deserted tea-tables aligned under the brick wall against a 
border of hollyhocks, phloxes, Michaelmas daisies. 


'Yes, mistress.' 

' Gather what 's left of the cake and splits anything left of 
the cream, too, and hand 'em up to they Methody children 
peekin* over the hedge there. No jam or treacle, mind or 
their mothers will be crying out when they get home.' 

She faced John and pointed to a low bench that, over a fence 
of low-trimmed euonymus, overlooked pathway and creek. 

'You can sit here with your back to it all.' As John settled 
himself, she dropped, still panting, upon the bench beside him. 
John slowly felt for his pipe. 

'Oh, yes, I know what you're thinking. But I went to 
Parson, and he approves. Being new to parish all things to 
all men as yet, as you might say, he didn't turn up. But they 
poor Methody children, forbidden, and hanging over the wall 
with their tongues fairly watering well, come what may, I 
hadn't the heart . . .' 

378 Faithful Jane 

John lit his pipe and puffed at it. 

'It rained cats and dogs on Anniversary Day, and the poor 
mites had to stay in the schoolroom, in their gay dresses, too. 
So I took a fancy, and with Parson's leave and to-day turning 
out so fine, thank God. . . . But you 're thinking I 'm over 
fond of children.' 

*I haven't said so.' 

'But you were thinking so, John, and at that very moment. 
Lord sakes! do you reckon I can't read your thoughts in all 
this time, and you so slow of speech ? Well, I dote on children : 
and all the more, maybe, because I 'm past having 'em.' 

She rose up and called to Emma to run and boil up a fresh 
pot of tea for Mister John. 

'I didn't take your meaning,' said John as she came back to 
her seat. 

'I don't suppose you do,' she snapped, 'and wouldn't, if you 
put it into your pipe and smoked it. But your mother would 
understand, and glad enough of small mercies.' 

She left him to kiss the returning children good night. While 
they trooped away, and she saw them off to rejoin the small, 
envious non-Anglicans in the road, Emma Peascod brought his 
tea and set it beside him, with home-made bread, honey of 
Jane's own hiving, cream of Jane's own dairying. John 
absorbed it all, lit another pipe and sat ruminating, his gaze 
upon the creek. 

By and by (as he knew she would) Jane came and dropped 
into the seat beside him. He had not stirred. 

'Yes,' she said, 'but it won't interfere.' 


'That pole t' other side. The Post Office reckons to run the 
wire across. They want to put up its pillar at the end of the 
orchard. One-and-six way-leave, and I 've given permission 
as it won't interfere.' 

'I was just wonderin' . . . But how you guessed ' 

'Hasn't it ever struck you, John' she laid a hand on his 

Faithful Jane 379 

sleeve, to rest there 'how often I run ahead of your thoughts 
and answer before you speak 'em?' 

* Can't say I have.' John stirred at last, a trifle uneasy. 

* Oh, it 's never anything to count leastway not much. 
Because, John, I know them to be clean always, thank God.' 
(There, however, half a sigh escaped her.) ' But about that 
pole they got it up last Thursday, and I 'm glad you noticed 
it. There 's a notion that folk living up in a place like this, 
year in and year out, don't take heed of changes. But I do, 
down to the teeniest- weeniest things birds' nests we '11 say, 
and whether 'tis the old birds or a new pair mating. And so 
with Emma Peascod. She woke me up at six o'clock to tell 
me they were cutting a clearing across there : and when the pole 
went up you *d have thought 'twas the end of the world come. 
Naught but bad news, she holds, ever comes by telegraph.* 

John made no answer. Yet this was the same oaken bench 
on which they had exchanged their first kiss. 


It had happened when John, rising twenty-two and always 
slow of development, had fared up Reselda Creek on command 
of his father, who owned and ran a prosperous paper-mill well 
on the left shore above Ridmouth, and wellnigh in the narrows 
above its wide harbour. Samuel Berrycombe, ageing but alert, 
had received news of a trader due to discharge at the head of 
Reselda Creek a cargo of limestone and nitrate with other 
general cargo, including a truss or so of esparto grass, picked up 
at Plymouth in a sample sent by some Algerine enterprise as 
bait for a marker. Advertised of this and alert for a new line 
in paper-making he had sent his son up to Reselda to bring 
back a sample. 

So John, always in terror of his father's temper, had risen 
before cockcrow and sought the creek head, long ago, by the 
path trodden by him this afternoon. 

380 Faithful Jane 

But then it happened to be May morning: a festival when 
village maids are allowed (or were) to rise before daybreak, 
fare to the meadows and dabble their naked feet in the dew, 
afterwards to troop and eat clotted cream under hedges over 
which the May sun rises. 

So it happened at the bend where the footpath first joined 
the road John found himself caught up in a swirl of young 
women, naked legged, who, in all innocence but excited, sur- 
rounded and chivvied him up the road to the ' Norseman,' where 
tables heaped with splits and clotted cream awaited them in the 
sunrise. And then John could never tell how the troop 
had faded away into silence, and he had found himself on a 
bench beside a girl who, stretching her ankles for the young 
sun to dry, suddenly struck on his sense as the dearest 
possession in the world. So somehow they had exchanged a 
first kiss. 

It need not be added that John, returning home with his 
samples of esparto grass, reported nothing of this to his 

Silence on the garden bench lasted until the September dusk 
began to gather. Then, as if timed by clock, the two rose and 
passed by the garden door into Jane's parlour, where Emma 
Peascod had already lit the hanging lamp and set out decanter 
and apparatus for brandy-grog, also a plate of apples with 
finger bowl and napkin beside it, on a small table by the fire. 
A brass kettle shone and sang gently on the hob. 

John sank into his accustomed chair on the right of the hearth. 
Jane moved the kettle from hob to fire, and set about peeling 
an apple. He contemplated her this dark-haired woman, 
broad of brow, deep of breast as she bent in the cross rays of 
lamp and firelight. She was his, had been from first avowal 
and plighting; secure as his money invested or in the bank, 
to be drawn upon on Sundays with satisfying interest without 
touching capital. 

Jane, having peeled his apple, dipped and wiped her finger- 

Faithful Jane 381 

tips, then took off the steaming kettle and mixed his brandy- 
grog for him. He took it with the plate. For a while they sat 
by the hearth in the usual opposite chairs and in a silence broken 
only by John's heavy breathing between bite and sup. Then 
as he pulled out pipe for his final smoke: 'I doubt you were 
annoyed this afternoon?' said Jane. 

'Eh? Oh, then,' John answered between puffs, 'when I 
came on you from the gate and you among them children 
caperin' just like a a ' 


' like as you was a fairy or wanted to be.' John, having 
found his simile, was not to be put off. 

Half a minute's silence followed. Then said she, looking 
straight across under dark brows: 'Look here, John. Wasn't 
it ever like that to you, not even to begin with? Well, it was 
to me often. And now I '11 tell you something you won't 
understand but you may tell it to your mother. A woman at 
my time o' life takes fancies. Goes off the rails, as they say. 
Sometimes it runs to bad temper, but easier when the ewe runs 
lamb-like, for a bit. You may go home and tell that to your 
mother if you choose.' 

'Mother and I ' This after a pause. 

' never mention me. Don't I know that? And well, 
John, that's over. I've told you; and when 'tis over, 'tis 
over, as Joan said by her wedding.' 

She laughed, as John pulled out his watch. They rose 
together and went to the front door, on their way passing the 
glass window of the bar-room, within which, on a stool, Emma 
Peascod sat with Bible open on the zinc counter. It was 
Emma's custom of a Sunday evening, and (gossip said) with 
the book upside down as often as not. Anyhow, Emma was 
a teetotaller, and it may have been her vicarious sacrifice upon 
this altar for the sins of the week. 

In the porch John and Jane exchanged their customary kiss. 
He did not feel how her lips trembled. 

382 Faithful Jane 


John's mother awaited him at home, at the end of a long 
dining table of the family house built alongside and here and 
there into the paper factory, at every point so close that on 
work-days the chant of its water-wheel droned through every 
room. On Sunday, the wheel stayed, the sound changed to 
that of a straight waterfall. 

Religiously as Emma Peascod sat by the counter of 'The 
Norseman's Arms/ old Mrs. Berrycombe (Honoria by name) 
was sitting by her Bible open before her a copy of the last 
issue but one of Debrett's Peerage. The bookseller at Rid- 
mouth at due intervals sought these volumes for her 'a lady, 
if ever there was one* and they lined almost a third of a shelf 
in the * study' where her late husband had always room alongside 

The explanation lies in her story; a strange one, only to be 
summarized here. She came direct of high lineage eldest of 
three daughters of a family rectory on the edge of a deer- 
park, the acres of her uncle, no less a person than Earl of 
Molton, in Devon, Baron Carminowe of Carminowe (a lost 
estate in Cornwall), with some lesser titles. This good Earl's 
eldest son, Lord Carminowe, had died young in the fifties, 
hopelessly in debt which his father honourably shouldered, 
living himself oh an income of scarce three hundred a year, and 
leaving, when he died, the bulk of his estate intact but still 
heavify encumbered. His second son, succeeding to the title 
and upon it retiring from Her Majesty Queen Victoria's Guards, 
was a dilettante who collected dubious masterpieces, and had 
divorced his wife after begetting a son whose career in the 
Army remained a question as dubious as the value his father set 
upon the masterpieces he crowded into Berry Regis. The 
third son, the Rev. the Hon. Eustace Carminowe, was a widower 
with three daughters Honoria, Georgiana, and Charlotte. 

Faithful Jane 383 

They had to share a great part of the rectory housework and 
to stitch their own dresses for the county balls. 

Charlotte, the youngest, had a sharp tongue. One day as the 
three sat sewing in the converted * nursery' she asked amiably : 

'Honoria! When must we ask to tea the young man you 
are walking out with?' a question for which Honoria never 
in life forgave her. 

(Charlotte, it may be explained, knew all the twists and 
corners of a maze of clipped yew for which the rectory was 
famous ; and also as the youngest daughter she occupied an attic 
chamber which not only overlooked the maze but neighboured 
on the servants' quarters and within earshot of backstairs gossip 
incautiously and too loudly spoken.) 

But die * young man' had proved a determined wooer. From 
Honoria's surrender he straightway laid siege to the rector and 
her father's poverty rather than his will consenting won 
his bride and carried her off to the great house beside his 
paper factory. 

There she had borne him four children, three sons and a 
daughter. With John he had his way from the first even to 
choice of the child's name, and John must be bred and brought 
up to the business. For Samuel Berrycombe showed himself 
in those early days as dominating in wedlock as he had been 
in courtship. With Radical notions, moreover, he nursed no 
little resentment at the Carminowe airs and graces as he called 
them which he had endured. He had won, but had been 
wounded. He seldom revealed this to Honoria (though of 
course she knew well enough), being in love with her, as she 
with him, to the end ; she admiring his strength of brain, success, 
and mastery among men, he secretly proud of the * noble con- 
nection/ never confessedly, of possessing a wife with 'quality' 
m her every word and movement. Therefore they agreed 
perfectly in her keeping aloof from the other ladies of Rid- 
mouth. But with the second and third son the mother's gentle 
obstinacy had prevailed. Miles, the second, received a name 

384 Faithful Jane 

of frequent recurrence to the table of the Carminowe pedigree : 
the third son had been christened Samuel Coningsby on a com- 
promise; but, to save confusion, the 'Samuel' had always been 
dropped, and ' Coningsby ' shortened (by his father) to 'Con.' 
And whereas their elder brother had picked up his reading, 
writing, and arithmetic as a day boy in the local academy, these 
two had been wheedled off to a public school of repute : whence 
Miles had proceeded to Oxford, Coningsby to Cambridge. 
Matilda, the last-born, after a restless girlhood under governesses, 
with aid from such instructors in music and water-colour as 
Ridmouth provided, had accepted with joy her aunt Charlotte's 
invitation to spend six weeks in London and be presented at 
Court, and had there, making the best of her time, found 
opportunity of betrothal and marriage to a prosperous young 
ironmaster in the Midlands, much to her aunt's disgust and 
every one's annoyance in the family except her father's. 

Anyhow Matilda could now fend for herself, and did. Miles, 
called to the Bar, had withered to a dry and pernickety Chancery 
lawyer, domiciled in bachelor chambers within Lincoln's Inn. 
Coningsby had taken orders, married, and was now vicar of 
Bagworthy Regis, in Devon, a poor benefice under Exmoor. 
For their two sons their father had made a passable allowance 
of 240 apiece, which John maintained without question. 

But on John himself, heir and successor to the business, from 
childhood his father had expended little but abuse by way of 
licking him into shape; obstinate in purpose, irascibly scolding 
morning-to-night at a sloth of mind he could never understand. 
For how could it have happened in a boy so begotten and yet 
not corrigible ? As a result John grew up cowed, uncouth, all 
filial love concentrated upon his mother, to whom he looked 
up with a dumb, dog-like devotion; while she disappointed 
too, yet preferring her first-born to the others and protectively 
answering that dumb love in his eyes had as vainly striven to 
correct his dress, bearing, speech, social manners, and mould 
him to a gentleman of the Carminowe stamp. She never 

Faithful Jane 385 

realized that her own aloofness was in part responsible, cutting 
him off from the rudiments that the despised social life of Rid- 
mouth might have taught him. Into the petits soins of indoor 
life she had patiently drilled him ; in other ways she had poorly 
succeeded; but in all but one thing had enslaved him. From 
his word once given John could never be turned. 

Happily for her she had never learned the exact details of her 
husband's end ; how that, after storming upon John for a round 
two minutes, he had turned upon a dilatory workman, had been 
seized with apoplexy, in the act of cursing, and had died betwixt 
being lifted and carried into the house. 

So when John this evening, having shed his boots for a pair 
of shoes laid out within the front door, had gone through the 
ritual of a wash and a brushing-up, he found his mother seated 
at her end of the long mahogany table with Debrett open before 
her at the page of ' Collateral Branches,' every word of which 
he knew by heart. His Sunday supper, cold but ample, lay 
spread at the other end. Two candles shone there. Selina, 
having timed his footsteps, entered punctually with his jug of 
beer, removed two candles from beside Debrett, set them to 
make four for John's meal, and poked the fire to a blaze while 
he helped his mother to a chair on his right. At seventy-eight 
she yet enjoyed watching his good appetite. 

The meal over, he armed her to her usual chair by the hearth 
and took his own. Given the rooms' difference, their disposal 
nearly resembled that of John's and Jane's a couple of hours 
back. But here the candlelight shone, the firelight flickered, 
upon over-tall walls, papered in dark crimson, decorated with 
long engravings in maplewood frames 'The Waterloo Ban- 
quet* (the Earl, Honoria's grandfather, had led his squadron of 
the 1 6th Light Dragoons under Vandaleur at Waterloo, and 
lost an arm in the final charge), 'The Meeting of the Duke and 


386 Faithful Jane 

Bliicher' at the 'Auberge Rouge/ an extended view of Berry 
Regis and its surroundings (after Tintoretto and the farther the 
longer) with a portrait in oils of Samuel Berrycombe over the 
swing table at the far end. 

' Coningsby came down this afternoon/ said Honoria, break- 
ing the long silence, 'in that rattletrap car of his. He was in a 
hurry. Of course, he was prepared not to find you at home/ 

John lit his pipe before answering. 'I '11 bet he was. Queer 
day, Sunday, for him to leave his parish costing him two 
guineas for a hired locum, if that 's the price . . . 'must be in 
some hurry, too. . . . How much did he stick you for this 

'I gave him another fifty pounds or rather I shall send it 
to-morrow, for you know I never write cheques on Sunday. 
He spoke of his two daughters growing up ' 

'Families commonly do, don't they?' 

' and he does so need a new car for his rounds in that 
scattered parish.' 

'So he wore the old one out, eighty miles good, to raise fifty 
pounds out of you. If you care to know, he raised a hundred 
off me, scarce three months ago. Reason, maybe, why he 
reckoned on finding me away from here, seeing as ' 

'Yes, John/ 

'Anything more ? ' 

'He thought well, he has been wishful for a long time, 
as you know, to change that expensive barrack of a vicarage 
for something, as he put it, more cosy and central. His sug- 
gestion was that there 's an advowson for sale at I forget the 
name of the parish, but somewhere nearer Exeter, more con- 
venient for the girls' education, and with our help ' 

'Which he won't get ' John, for once, was quick o; 


His mother dropped the subject. A long silence fell. 


'Yes, mother/ 

Faithful Jane 387 

*I want to speak to you very seriously. I am seventy-eight, 
as you know, and in the nature of things could not count on 
more than a very few years. But I saw Dr. Fleming yesterday, 
and I must not count on months, even. Heart it is and a 
long time since it woke me at night to read the warning. 'Tis 
not about myself, though . . . John, you '11 want looking after 
when I 'm gone, and what I 've done I thought to be for your 
best, or so I persuaded myself. I doubt now there was selfish- 
ness mixed up in it : for I loved you, John I couldn't help it, 
right or wrong above the others, as you must have known; 
and I wanted to keep you to myself. But now now that all 
is slipping away you with it* she commanded her voice 
* I want something for you that I cannot grudge ... I want 
you to marry Jane Trewman.' 

'Mother!' John's mouth opened wide. Between it and his 
fingers his pipe slipped, fell, and clattered against the fender. 
He bent as if to recover it. 

'She's a wonderful housekeeper by all accounts for her 
station ' 

But the great, clumsy fellow had dropped forward on his 
knees, and his face was buried in her lap. 

'As it was in the beginning . . .' Honoria murmured, stroking 
his hair. 'And now, dear, rise and close the book over there, 
and before Selina clears away you shall lift and carry me upstairs 
as I used to carry you!' 


On a night less than three weeks later death took Honoria 
Berrycombe in her sleep. In the afternoon John walked up to 
Reselda and broke the news. 

Jane heard it in silence, then went upstairs and put on her 
hat. By consent she and John left the house and took the path 
above the creek, alongside the deserted canal. 

*I 'm sorry, of course for you, John.' 

388 Faithful Jane 

'It must have been quite sudden, and peaceful/ said John, 
for the third time since his arrival. 'And now ' 

'And now, I suppose . . . Don't be harried, John, by what 
comes at long last. 'Tisn't seemly/ 

'I don't take the meaning of that. I was going to tell what 
my mother said to me about us two, scarce three weeks agone.' 

They halted and he told her, while she stared at him. 

'So now,' he wound up, 'we can feel easy about it. That 's 
what I wanted to tell you no weight is on our minds ever 
in that respect.' 

'Thank you/ Jane managed to say, after choking down 
something in her throat. 

'It has been a long wait, of course,' he went on, 'and hard 
on you, my dear. But that being her last wish almost, we can 
be married this side of Christmas or just after and plenty of 
time left us to be ' He hesitated. 

'Comfortable/ suggested Jane. 'You was going to say 
"happy." 'Tisn't quite the same thing, eh, is it?' 

They walked on a short way, John pondering this nice 
distinction. Jane turned round on him. 

'If you think I '11 marry now, to go and housekeep in that 
tall barrack as she did . . .' 

'No need.' Whether by luck or good management John 
had brought her to the very spot for his answer. 'I shall sell 
up the business and retire I 've had offers good ones. And 
you can keep on the "Norseman" or not, as you choose. 
But see there.' 

He pointed up to a thatched building, something larger than 
a cottage, set in a clear glade of the woods, untenanted, with 
boarded windows. It had served in its time as office and 
miners' pay-house. 

'Eh, Jane?' 

'Sure I remember. But why? Mouldering, it must have 
been, inside, for years and years/ 

'Fifteen/ said John triumphantly. 'Seventeen years back 

Faithful Jane 389 

I bought it, on the very next day after winding up father's 
affairs. And the rest has been my secret, to surprise you when 
the time came. Windows all blocked up, as you see : but plate 
glass behind 'em; and all indoors clean as a pin, walls scraped 
and two dozen rolls o' flock paper and my own make, and to 
last for ever cupboarded up for your choosin' but some 
other day, o' course.' 

On their way back Jane asked : ' But parting from your business 
will be a wrench, John?' 

'Not a bit' success of his surprise still buoyant in him. 
' Year by year I ' ve been drawing in and selling out all father's 
investments at a tidy profit, too, being able to bide my time. 
None so easy, though; for whatever the old man got he'd 
search about to use, to add more.' 

'Ay,' Jane agreed, 'and you, John, was always content to 


Three Sundays later their banns were called. 

The news thrilled Reselda parish, but agitated no breast so 
violently as Emma Peascod's, whom Jane had been careful not 
to warn. 

'And next thing,' she broke out, 'you'll be shuttin' up the 
place, and me turned out like a like a ' 

'Before you find the image to fit/ said Jane, 'perhaps you 
might stop sobbing : sit down, and try not to behave like a fool.' 

On the Saturday before the third calling of the banns John 
arrived, his right pocket bulging. 

'It's my will,' he announced, extricating a long envelope. 
'You may read it, or else and I 'd rather put it aside until 

'I '11 put it aside in my desk,' said Jane. 

'And now,' said he, pulling out a wad from an inner pocket, 
'I reckon 'tis usual for the man to make a wedding present. 

390 Faithful Jane 

I 've thought it out, and here are two hundred in notes, to fare 
and buy whatever suits you for the cottage furniture, fittings, 
and kitchen gear, and such-like odds and ends.' 

Jane's eyes brimmed of a sudden. 'Thank you, John. But 
I was minded to do a bit on my own money/ 

'Then you mustn't,* said John firmly. 

Next morning: 'You and me are going to Exeter, Tuesday 
morning early,' Jane announced to Emma Peascod. 

Emma's eyes widened. 'Good sakes! but what for?' 

'To buy furniture and things. We can catch the first train 
and put up for the night at some hotel, if pressed for time.' 

'But but there's Truro handy and there's Plymouth, 
full of shops. What 's put Exeter in your head ? And if it 's 
an hotel, I was at Plymouth once mother took me to meet 
father. That was coming home on the Formidable and we 
waited in a bow- window of the "Globe." I can see it now 
with the military passin' up and down Bedford Street, and each 
with a little cane twiddling in his hand, and his girl tucked 
under t' other arm.' 

'The farther from here,' said Jane, 'the nearer to find some- 
thing new/ 


They drove off by spring-cart at six o'clock next morning 
and caught an early train, which landed them at St. David's, 
Exeter, within half an hour of noon. Having deposited Jane's 
antiquated valise and Emma's carpet bag in the cloak-room, they 
walked up to view the city and the shops; these all gay with 
Christmas shows and decorations. Emma Peascod would have 
hung at heel for minutes before every one of them, babbling her 
wonder as she had been babbling it since entering the train, 
this being her second journey by rail and her first beyond 
Plymouth. Indeed she had only stopped exclaiming at the size 
of the world to scream and clutch at Jane's arm in the tunnels. 

Faithful Jane 391 

It was now Jane's turn lo clutch Emma's, which she did a dozen 
times, pulling her forward. 

'But you 're not taking in the half of it,' Emma protested. 
'All these beautiful things and you scarce even looking!' 

'Time enough, later on,' she was told. 'We must walk 
around first.' 

Jane, indeed, had been curiously silent all day and on the 
journey, gazing down at her lap, rousing herself now and then, 
as out of a brown study, to answer one of Emma's excited 
questions for the most part curtly with a 'yes' or 'no.' 

From the display of a jeweller's, with the electric lights at 
full play on its diamonds, Emma required a deal of budging. 

'It makes me feel all over like a Queen of Sheba! . . . But 
I don't see no wedding rings. ... I wonder now, if Mr. John 
will remember about the ring?' 

'Come along, foolish woman!' 

They reached the Close in time, and Jane had a fancy to 
enter the Cathedral. Great sounds met them within, rolling, 
reverberating along naves and aisles, evoked by unseen hands 
at practice upon the grand organ above the screen. She seated 
herself to listen, and sat while the music lasted and for many 
minutes after, motionless, while Emma wandered about, vaguely 
awed, but with growing impatience. 

At length Jane rose and announced that it was time they 
picked up lunch somewhere. 

At the Royal Clarence, close by, they found a good meal ; of 
which Emma ate ravenously, Jane little ; and again, after it, she 
dallied, playing absently with her spoon while her coffee went 

'It turns dark towards four,' Emma suggested. 

Jane paid the bill, and they fared forth anew down High 
Street and then into Queen Street. But not even in the furni- 
ture shops, though Emma called her attention to each in turn, 
could she awake Jane to any lively interest. 

By the Market House steps, however, on which stood a 

392 Faithful Jane 

shapely little Christmas-tree about five feet in height, set in a 
rub, Jane halted. * How much,' she asked the salesman, ' without 
the tub?' 

'Four and sixpence, madam.' 

'I '11 take it at five shillings if you '11 have it wrapped up in 
hessian within twenty minutes. Plenty of earth round the 
roots, please, and damped, but not too much. It has to travel.' 

She turned on Emma. 'Wasn't that a toy-shop we passed, 
not twenty yards back?' 

To this they retraced their steps and at once Jane started to 
buy. Emma thought her demented as she plunged about from 
counter to counter in a riot of spending dolls, drums, trumpets, 
hobby-horses, golliwogs, toy guns ; boxes of bricks, of wooden 
farmyards, a Noah's Ark, a miniature railway engine ; boxes also 
of crackers, Christmas candles, glass danglers, tinsel. When 
all this had been assembled in a pile, she demanded a large crate, 
two crates. These packed, and the bill (some eighty-five 
shillings) discharged, a four-wheeler was ordered and the load 
hoisted on its roof by two obsequious attendants, who received 
largess. A halt was made at the market, the Christmas-tree also 
hoisted aboard, and the cabman told to drive to St. David's. 

'And there, I reckon,' Emma guessed hopefully, 'we pick up 
our traps, and go back to the Clarence. Where we '11 hope the 
beds are aired . . .' 

'We 're going home by next train.' 

'What! . . . and not a stick nor stitch ' 

Without answer Jane led the way into the station; handed 
their cloak-room tickets to Emma, and exchanged for two 
first classes for Truro. They found an empty compartment, 
twenty minutes later, in a westward-bound relief express. 

All the journey homeward Emma Peascod had to solace her- 
self with the plumpness of the cushions. For the night had 
fallen pitch dark by now, and Jane sat obstinately taciturn, 
with eyes turned to her corner window, fixed out upon the 
rushing blackness as though probing it. 

Faithful Jane 393 

At Truro they loaded up the back of the spring-cart and 
jogged in a drizzle for home. Jane who observed her own 
interpretation of all victualling laws had put up a window 
notice early to announce that 'The Norseman's Arms' would 
be closed for two days. But nearing the foot of Reselda Hill 
the travellers were surprised by a light ahead faintly crossing 
the road. The * Norseman ' was lit within, and a group of dark 
figures stood clustered by its porch. Another vehicle stood 
drawn up a few yards below. 

'I knew it,' said Jane. She handed the reins to Emma, 
clambered down, and passed with set face through the hush of 
the little crowd into the house. 

In her parlour by the lamp-light stood a short white-haired 
gentleman, kindly faced, grave; behind him the yet shorter 
figure of the postmistress, who ran forward, twittering. 

'I couldn't help it, Miss Jane! and all so concerned so 

'Be quiet, woman,' commanded the short gentleman, and 
held out an open telegram. 'I sent this early, Miss Trewman: 
being anxious, I followed it up. Be very sure you have my 

Jane took the missive and read: 

4 Deeply regret John Berrycombe passed away early hours this 
morning suddenly and to all appearance peacefully. ATTLEY 

While Jane perused this, brows bent and face inscrutable, 
Emma having given over mare and trap to be stabled by 
willing hands came bursting in and would have clung to her, 
but was thrust back firmly into an arm-chair, where she curled 
over, burying her face. 

'And his own ch-chair, too, the poor dear!' she sobbed: then, 
turning about fiercely on the postmistress: 'Which I said it 
from the first, when I see'd that venom pole going up. Naught 
ever but ill news from they tellygraphs.' 

'Emma, get up at once!' Jane commanded, steady as a statue. 


394 Faithful Jane 

'Fit and fetch the kettle, quick, Mr. Attley must have a glass 
before he goes.' 

'Which I made free to light the fire in the bar parlour, too,' 
put in the postmistress, 'and the kettle near on the boil.' 

While Mr, Attley sipped his grog in the bar-parlour Jane 
slipped upstairs to her desk. She reappeared with a long 
envelope in her hand and motioned him to bring his drink and 
follow her back to the sitting-room. 

'It's John's will.' She handed him the envelope. 'He 
gave it to me on Saturday to keep/ 

'I know its contents, of course. Indeed I done it myself, 
almost on his dictation/ 

'I doubt if you know it quite all. There 's a note at the end 
in his own handwriting. It only says that 'twas his wish, when 
his time came, to be buried at Reselda/ 

'Will it relieve you, Miss Trewman, if I make all the 

'It will indeed. Thank you, Mr. Attley/ He bowed. 

'But there 's one thing if I can explain. I read it all through 
last night: but not, Mr. Attley, because I was impatient, or 
curious. Maybe 'twas the beginning of what 's been sitting at 
my ear all day/ She passed a hand over her forehead. ' You 
see, I 've been so used to thinking a bit ahead of John catching 
up aforehand as one might say. . . / 


A post-mortem revealed that John Berrycombe had died of 
fatty degeneration of the heart. 

He was buried as he had wished, in Reselda churchyard. 
Custom in Reselda parish forbade women, if related or nearly 
concerned, to attend funerals. So Jane and Emma, having 
pulled down the house blinds, sought the parlour at first note 
from the tolling-bell, and sat the time out in silence. 

Towards next afternoon (Christmas Eve) a hired vehicle 

Faithful Jane 395 

descended the steep hill to 'The Norseman's Arms.' At a bend 
of the road below Reselda church it had passed the village 
schoolhouse ablaze with lights and ringing with the indoor 
noise and merriment of children. 

At the 'Norseman's* porch it disgorged three passengers, 
whom Emma Peascod ushered into the parlour, where Mr. 
Attley sat with John's will open before him under the lamp. 
He rose and, bowing, indicated chairs. Mrs. Burslade (nee 
Matilda Berrycombe), a stoutish matron in flounces of black 
crepe, sank upon the small sofa and lifted her veil upon a face in 
which the very sharp eyes pierced a plaster of enamel. Miles 
Berrycombe seated himself, with back stiff as a ramrod, on 
Mr. Attley's right. The Reverend Coningsby Berrycombe, 
after a glance around, settled himself beside his sister. 

'I should apologize for Miss Trewman,' said the solicitor. 
'She has just returned from a children's Christmas-tree, and 
will be here in a minute or two. Here is a copy, Mr. Miles, of 
the will, as promised when you called on me this morning.' 

Miles Berrycombe took the copy, spread it, and adjusted his 

'A Christmas-tree, did you say?' shrilled Mrs. Burslade 
from the sofa. 'And dear John scarcely cold in his grave! 
Well, of all ' 

But at that moment Jane entered, dressed quietly in grey. 
With an inclination of the head she comprehended the visitors, 
and, moving to the fire-place, stood facing them. 

'These gentlemen, Miss Trewman, and their sister desire a 
talk with you respecting their brother's will. The relevant 
sentence, Mr. Miles, is plain enough and concise?' 


'After a few legacies the testator leaves here are the words 
"the residue of my worldly estate to my dear wife, Jane Berry- 
combe, absolutely and at her sole use and disposition." Those 
were his own words : he insisted on them.' 

4 Yes, of course, of course no reflection at all upon you, 

Faithful Jane 

Mr. Attley. Every man his own lawyer, eh? But* pricking 
the paper with his pencil 'here is the point, Miss Trewman. 
Were you my brother's wife at the date of his signing?* 

' Of course not/ 

Mr. Attley interposed. 'The Court, sir if that be your 
ground, and I have suspected it since this morning would 
almost certainly take account of plainly declared intentions. 
And seeing that the parties' banns were out as recently as last 
Sunday, I shall positively advise my client ' 

Jane broke in. 'Your pardon, dear Mr. Attley; but I shan't 
take any one's advice in this. I knew John's intentions well 
enough, though in these years never told. These people want 
to dispute the will : but they have something at back of their 
minds, and 'twill save time if they speak it out.' 

'To come to the point, then,' said Miles Berry combe after a 
pause, choosing his words, ' we are certainly inclined to question 
the validity ' 

'Tut!' interposed Mr. Attley. 

' but we have consulted. The estate will probably realize 
seventy thousand pounds (I put this not too optimistically, 
Mr. Attley). And if, in consideration of your natural dis- 
appointment, one thousand down or perhaps an annuity ' 

Jane had turned to a small mirror above the chimneypiece, 
and seemed to be studying the lines of her face in it while she 
spoke to it, slowly: 

'Mr. Attley, you are a gentleman, and would work for my 
rights on your honour's sake. But there 's two sorts of pride 
one that has ruined the best of John's life and mine, and an- 
other that stamps on it and all such: and that sort happens to 
be mine. The best service in life you can ever do me is here 
and now; to show these people to the door.' She put a hand 
in her bodice and pulled out a wad of notes. 'Tell them I '11 
never touch a penny of Berrycombe money and let them take 
this.' She put out her hand behind her. 'John gave it to me 
to spend in setting up house. I haven't spent a penny of it.' 

Faithful Jane 397 

'Well, and that's over!' said Jane to Emma half an hour 
later. 'Let 's fit and have a cup of tea/ 

'Highly satisfactory I call it, and a credit in a way to all con- 
cerned,' said the Reverend Coningsby Berrycombe after dinner 
that evening, as he held up a glass of John's forty-five port 
against the candlelight. 

'Though,' said his sister, 'I can never forget the impudent 
way that woman carried it off. . . . Hark!' 

Outside the lit windows, in the drive, a chorus of childish 
voices had started to trill: 

'Good Christian friends rejoice, 
With heart and soul and voice. . . .' 



SULLEN against the east a cloud 
Darkened the church from choir to nave, 
O'er heads in supplication bowed, 

O'er hearts that whispered, 'Heart, be brave.' 

Then . . . framed amid Crusader shields, 
Held in the space of one clear pane, 

Acre on acre shone the fields 

Our fathers ploughed and sowed again. 

And lo ! the altar caught their shine : 
The cross was hilt upon a sword 

'Lift up your hearts! Accept the sign.' 
We lifted them unto the Lord. 



A 5 generations are counted, more than a generation has 
passed since Matthew Arnold made bold to prophesy, of 
Wordsworth and Byron, that 'when the year 1900 is turned, 
and our nation comes to recount her poetic glories in the century 
which has then just ended, the first names with her will be these.' 
Even when we have consented with George Eliot that of all 
forms of human error prophecy is the most gratuitous, and have 
asked ourselves in vain what profit can come of constructing a 
hierarchy among the poets of any given century (which, after 
all, is no more than a conventional division of arithmetic), there 
remains the question why Arnold should have chosen to hit 
on two men rather than on one, or on three, or more. He had 
no need to consider Westminster Abbey, where the space for 
interment is limited, and where in fact neither Wordsworth 
nor Byron reposes ; no need to practise any such frugal anxiety 
as William Basse's for Shakespeare: 

Renowned Spenser, lye a thought more nye 

To learned Chaucer, and, rare Beaumont, lye 

A little neerer Spenser, to make roome 

For Shakespeare in your threefold, fowerfold Tombe. 

Poets live in memory, which neither calculates room nor assigns 
marks for competition. For their corporal dust Words- 
worth rests now in Grasmere churchyard, Byron at Missolonghi, 
and Arnold himself by the Thames at Laleham avSp&v em 

For the prophecy, it came true or, rather, remained true 
of Wordsworth : but the year 1900 has long since been turned, 
and yet where on the sea is die returning sail of Byron ? 

He died in exile : and those of us who would bring Byron's 
fame back among his countrymen must, first of all, recognize 
their neglect of it for an obstinate neglect, a positive reluctance 
to readmit him. For this we must give most honourable 
acquittal to his English publishers. No publishers have ever 


4OO Byron 

done more for an author than John Murray, his sons, and his 
grandsons have done for Byron : and, as though to be punctual 
at the advent foretold by Arnold, they began to issue in 1898, 
and completed in 1904, a magnificent edition of the Letters and 
Journals as well as of the Poems. Moore's 'Life,' whatever 
else may be said of it, was an ample monument: the literature 
of personal curiosity has been copious, and from time to time 
provokingly scandalous. Yet every attempt hitherto made to 
bring Byron back from exile has been met, in his own country, 
with no Prodigal Son's welcome. 

This reluctance begins and ends at home. On the continent 
of Europe, through which his poetry first ran as a flame, the 
admiration it kindled has never died out. In the estimation of 
all but his countrymen he ranks to-day as a greater poet than 
Shelley. Execrated at home, he died at Missolonghi on the 
1 9th of April 1824, and the Greek Provisional Government 
closed all shops and proclaimed with salute of guns a public 
mourning for twenty-one days. Over a hundred years later, 
after British denunciation had long given place to neglect, one 
opens a volume by an eminent foreign critic surveying the field 
of nineteenth-century literature and finds him assigning 33 of 
hispages to Words worth, no fewer than 1 19 to Byron. What, 
then, is the matter with Byron, or with the faithful foreigner, 
or with us? Easy talk about 'reaction' will not carry us 
far; or will carry us in a direction clean contrary to the truth: 
for any one who seeks to re-establish Byron's fame will find 
himself not only forced to rely for his brief and to rely almost 
exclusively on the later poems, but forced also to recognize 
that Byron's true work took its start from the social disaster of 
1815-16; that he fell then, in some ways like Lucifer, but, as a 
poet, most certainly not like Lucifer, 'never to hope again.' 
Indeed I believe it to be substantially true that if we take 
25 April 1816 the day on which he sailed from England for ever 
and set it in our 'Byron' for a book-marker, by that simple 
expedient we can divide his false from his true contributions 

Byron 401 

to literature. Technically he never, to the end, took the 
trouble to equip himself. He had abundance of wit, and 
with the aid of it developed (as Don Juan throughout bears 
witness) an amazing command over mere rhyme. But wit will 
never teach rhythm to a naturally defective ear; and, set beside 
Shelley's, for instance, Byron's rhythms are performances on 
the banjo. Also he lacked sense of the poise and pause of 
blank decasyllabic verse: while, strange to say, this revolu- 
tionary, with his own amateurishness of scansion, chose to 
parade himself as a true-blue disciple of Pope. At all these 
joints Byron's poetical armour gaped to receive the barbed 
arrows of Swinburne's later criticism, which have possibly 
killed his claim to be an artist in song. Nor are these arrows 
of Swinburne's criticism any the less deadly because foreigners 
are congenitally doomed to miss the nuances of form in English 
rhythm and diction, as we no doubt are as heavily handicapped 
as critics of their native strains. I can only make what I believe 
to be a fair statement that our national neglect of Byron to-day 
has next to nothing to do with his life and opinions, everything 
to do with his carelessness as an artist. It weighs not, at this 
distance of time, that for three heady years Byron poured out 
such tales as The Giaour, The Bride of Abydos, The Corsair, 
Lara written 'while undressing after coming home from balls 
and masquerades in the year of revelry 1814,' written and 
admired for being written 'with the careless and negligent ease 
of a man of quality.' Snobbery in criticism prevails in its day, 
but nothing in criticism suffers more cruelly from exposure 
to time and weather. As Crabbe gave warning Crabbe, 
Byron's favourite in his preface to Tales of the Hall: 

Our estimation of title also in a writer has materially varied from 
that of our predecessors ; Poems by a Nobleman would create a very 
different sensation in our minds from that which was formerly excited 
when they were so announced. 

For three years Byron enjoyed a wild popularity, and played 
up to it with an insolence apparently negligent, actually self- 

402 Byron 

conscious, and in its carefulness of affectation artistically ignoble. 
But when disaster fell, Byron found his soul. Abandoned by 
the world on whose adulation he had floated, he caught at the 
real thing valuable in his ancestry, its tradition of indomitable 
courage, and, with that courage, the gift of sincerity, without 
which no poetry can be better than flashy. 1 Genuine anguish 
in the winter and spring of 1815-16 probed Byron and found 
the man. The first two cantos of Childe Harold, on which 
society had heaped applause, simply fade from our minds as 
we open Canto III (read the exordium composed in the first 
hours of disillusion with its anguish), pass the stirring account 
of Brussels before Waterloo, and turn, with hearts swelled as 
by a trumpet, back upon such a recessional as the stanza which 
commemorates young Howard, killed and carried from the field : 

There have been tears and breaking hearts for thee, 
And mine were nothing, had I such to give; 
But when I stood beneath the fresh green tree, 
Which living waves where thou didst cease to live 
And saw around me the wide field revive 
With fruits and fertile promise, and the spring 
Come forth her work of gladness to contrive, 
With all her reckless birds upon the wing, 
I turn'd from all she brought to those she could not bring. 

If that stanza be not poetry, I say, with all submission to his 
critics, that neither they nor I know yet what poetry is. One 
has but to turn back to Canto I and read 

For who would trust the seeming sighs 

Of wife or paramour? 
Fresh feeres will dry the bright blue eyes 

We late saw streaming o'er, (etc.) 

to feel that the Rubicon of poetry has been crossed. Macaulay's 

1 Compare the insincerity, e.g. of the poem to Thyrsa (1811) with the 
real poignancy of 'So we '11 go no more a roving'; in which, moreover, 
his heart dictates a true rhythm. Q. 

Byron 403 

famous passage appraises at their true worth the impulses on 
which his countrymen denounced Byron and drove him into 
exile. Yet the late M. Scherer was utterly mistaken in his dictum 
that ' this beautiful and blighted being is at the bottom a cox- 
comb. He posed all his life long.' It is, at any rate, far nearer 
the truth to say that in its surgery the knife cut down through a 
fop and found a man. He screamed under the operation as how 
should he not, being Byron ? It converted him into the fiercest 
of egoists, but a sincerer egoist can hardly be found in our litera- 
ture. He was utterly, recklessly unrepentant as Manfred testifies, 
if we recall the circumstances under which it was thrown at the pub- 
lic. Tribulation and evil fame had not power to convert the spoilt 
child, the ingrained self- worshipper and idolater of his own rank 
and title ; no power to abase his disproportionate sense of his own 
importance. Outcast from England, he ' trailed* through Europe 
* the pageant of a bleeding heart.' But he had the ferocious power 
to make a real pageant of it; and posterity cannot deny that the 
heart bled proudly, or that it was quenched at last in a noble cause. 

With his doom upon him he wrote, but did not live to finish, 
Don Juan. Critics who frame their definition of an epic upon 
a few specimens acknowledged as best, and demand conformity 
to rules constructed upon these, may easily deny the title of 
epic to this poem. Certainly it is extremely unlike Paradise 
Lost or even the Odyssey. But it has the great undulating 
flow which some of us recognize as the quality above qualities 
in Homer and Milton; it flows because all things within his ken 
are seized upon, liquefied, and made malleable by the combined 
heat of indignation, wit, genius ; it belongs, heart and soul, to 
its period in human history; and it paints that age with such 
lively intensity, with such a sweep of power, that no generation 
to come will ever be able to dispute the picture. As the late 
Professor Nichol puts it, 'in writing Don Juan Byron attempted 
something that had never been done before, and his genius so 
chimed with his enterprise that it need never be done again.' 

In face of their achievements in poetry huge in the mass, 

404 Byron 

frequent in eminence, with peaks super-eminent over all litera- 
ture of the modern world the inhabitants of this small island 
are often charged with a general indifference to verse, and in 
particular with indifference to poetic artistry, concerning which 
(I have heard it argued) our carelessness amounts almost to 
proof of a congenitally defective ear. The charge is baseless 
in fact: but it has a root in the very anxiety which accuses 
us of lacking anxiety. Poetry in England, as in every other 
nation, has always been the treasure of a few amid the populace. 
These few do well to be anxious for it; but it might easily be 
maintained, rather, that the countrymen of Shakespeare have 
too often, in despite of his example, surrendered themselves to 
the slavery of 'form/ of poetic 'laws' and 'rules.' We admit 
this of the eighteenth century, and blame that century for its 
formalism. Yet nine-tenths of Swinburne's depreciation of 
Byron will be found, when examined, to resolve itself into cavil 
against his technical faults, against his defect of ear. We allow 
ourselves to be irritated by hasty workmanship which the 
foreigner has no skill to detect. That is an error on the right 
side; and yet it turns into a serious error when it blinds our 
vision to the fine power in the man, or deadens our sense of the 
daemonic brain out of which verses teemed like armed men and 
stanzas in troops, a revolutionary host. Be it granted that to 
the end he could never surely separate poetry from rhetoric. 
Yet who can recite the roll Childe Harold, Chilian, The Dream, 
Prometheus, Manfred, The Lament of Tasso, The Prophecy of 
Dante, Cain, The Vision of Judgment, Heaven and Earth, 
Beppo, and (feat above all) Don Juan and deny Byron the 
title of 'maker,' a strong 'man of his hands'? 

He himself, during those years, dreamed of action, of em- 
battled war against the enemies of freedom : 

And I will war, at least in words (and should 
My chance so happen deeds), with all who war 
With Thought: and of Thought's foes by far most rude 
Tyrants and sycophants have been and are. 

Byron 405 

That chance came with the revolutionary uprising of Greece, 
and he took it. For a brief while he shone as the bright 
particular star of that dawn, until death quenched the light 
with a miasma from the marshes by Missolonghi. His last 
utterance was Atl pc vvv Kadevfeiv 'It is time for me to 
sleep/ As Swinburne has written and no recantation can 
cover the words 'With all things unfinished before him and 
behind, he fell asleep after many troubles and triumphs. Few 
can ever have gone wearier to the grave; none with less fear. 
... He had seen and borne and achieved more than most men 
on record. He was a great man, good at many things, and 
now he had attained his rest/ 


was an old man of St. Omer 
JL Who objected, 'This town 's a misnomer; 
You 've no right to translate 
And beatificate 
A simple digamma in Homer/ 



E remarks of Alexander of Macedon 
Would have been somewhat more than sub-acid on 
An enemy that used wings 
To drop things. 



WHEN to the breach, across thy body spent 
The rearward rush assured now to attain, 
Leap over thee, to close on the event, 
And tread thee unregarded 'mid the slain, 
Neither accuse them nor the gods arraign. 

Rise to thy knees; grope for the bugle bent, 
Set it to lip, and sound the Charge amain! 

So back. . . . Lace up the curtain of thy tent, 
And lay thee down, too manly to lament, 
Too careless to complain. 




A LIFE-LONG lover of English may be pardoned that his 
suspicion awakes and takes alarm at any suggestion to 
twist it to some new purpose. The purpose may be plausible 
enough; but he will ask, as his first question: 'How is the 
innovation likely to affect the future of this particular glory of 
our blood and State ? ' I have written elsewhere : 

Our fathers have, in die process of centuries, provided diis realm, 
its colonies, and wide dependencies, with a speech malleable and pliant 
as Attic, dignified as Latin, masculine, yet free of Teutonic guttural, 
capable of being precise as French, dulcet as Italian, sonorous as 
Spanish, and of captaining all these excellences to its service. 

and (I might have added) of adapting itself to include with ease 
the names for the new discoveries, inventions, processes, as they 
occur, of modern science. I have quoted this simply to follow 
it up with the assertion that precisely because we have so 
wonderful a heritage, it behoves us to be jealous for it. We 
may find it heavy, be restive under it, but the past has laid upon 
us a burden of greatness obligatory almost as that of our free- 
dom : and as great nations must deserve a language to fit high 
deeds, high thoughts, high policies, or wither; as the fate of a 
city may hinge on the watch at its postern gate; I hold that 
under whatever new guise of English alternative or substitute 
seek admittance, and whether on plea of expediency, con- 
venience, barter, labour-saving, or religious propaganda, or 
even all these together, it should be held up to give strict 
account of itself. 

The want of some common 'world language* is, I assume, 


4io Basic English 

pretty generally admitted : certainly it has been felt by educated 
Europeans ever since Latin faded out as the common language 
of churchmen, scholars, and diplomatists. But these men, being 
educated, could to some extent fill up the void by learning other 
tongues than their own; not without compensation and even 
great profit to their own languages and literatures. But the 
men who opened the waterways all over the world and the 
venturers who followed these trade routes to plant factories in 
Muscovy, China, the Indies, and Americas were not scholars 
but travellers and merchants and so the demand for a world 
language starts naturally upon the needs of travel and com- 
merce, its urgency increasing as travel quickens its pace and 
commerce multiplies. It has been primarily to meet this demand 
that ingenious people at home have invented Esperanto, Ido, 
Novial, and other vocabularies on which nothing need be said 
here save they are all admittedly artificial, composed of various 
'root- woods' in various foreign tongues. 


Now, as I remember, Basic English also first came to us with 
this as its primary and modest claim, the convenience of the 
trader and traveller, but offering, as English, the great (and 
flattering) advantage of being a form of our native speech. 
Dr. I. A. Richards 'whom I name,' as Cicero might say, 'for 
the sake of honour' in his Basic English and Its Uses, devotes 
some pages to claiming (a) that for this reason it excels Esperanto 
and other artificial experiments ; and (i) that it holds the victory 
on many grounds over any other native language. Well, let 
both these claims be granted, and, for the second, let the French 
or Chinese protest as they will! 

My own first objection to Basic English lies against its calling 
itself 'Basic' while in its working it cuts out all but eighteen 
verbs. Indeed, it amazes me that so capable a writer as Mr. 

Basic English 411 

Ogden and so philosophical a critic as Dr. Richards joint 
authors, too, of The Meaning of Meaning should ignore the 
plain fact that in all civilized speech the verb is the very nerve 
of a sentence ; and for preference the active verb. Nouns and 
adjectives are but dead haulage, prepositions and conjunctions 
inert couplings, until the verb (yerbum^ die 'Word') comes 
along, supplies the motive power, starts and keeps the whole 
train going. Dr. Richards prefers to call his small handful of 
verbs 'operatives,' and that is just what they are. He informs 
us that ' the reduction of the verbs to eighteen was the key to 
the discovery of Basic.' Very likely! Indeed, most probable, 
had Basic confined itself to the purposes it first professed and 
under which it first appealed to public suffrage; a few mere 
nouns may serve for taking a railway ticket, or shortening an 
advertisement, or clinching a bargain. But in matters of intel- 
lectual or emotional persuasion the verb takes charge, insomuch 
that, as a rough general rule for judging of a writer's style 
whether it be forcible or feeble, one may usefully note if 
by instinct or habit he uses active transitive verbs in pre- 
ference to laying them on their passive backs and tying 
his nouns and particles together with little auxiliary 'isV and 
'was's.' By this kind of operation upon his 'operatives,' Dr. 
Richards tells us, they can be made to 'translate adequately 
more than 4,000 verbs of full English.' I take his word for their 
number. I deny their adequacy. 

Adequacy for what? 

On page 20 of his book Dr. Richards admits: 'It is true that 
if we go outside the field of general interests and into special 
branches of the sciences, the arts, or the trades, we shall have 
to use other words not listed among the 850. But the senses 
of these other words may be made clear in footnotes, or by 
teaching given through Basic English. Or they may be seen 
in the General Basic English Dictionary, which, using only the 
Basic words, gives the senses of twenty thousand other English 
words/ Again I accept his figures, remarking on them only 

412 Basic English 

that a system designed for the help of mankind yet demanding 
footnotes or specially trained teachers or a dictionary of its own 
(or possibly all together) to clarify the meaning of some 20,000 
extra words is on its way to be a trifle cumbrous in itself. 
Further, be it noted, this new language has to be learnt not only 
by the supposedly receptive foreigner but by the English speaker 
on top of his own; so that the relief to him threatens to approach 
vanishing point. While I stare at the assertion that Basic's 
eighteen verbs 'in combination with other Basic words trans- 
late adequately more than 4,000 verbs of full English,' and am 
asking myself how this can be, if 'adequately' means the same to 
Dr. Richards and to me, he backs it up with : 

And they do it sometimes with gain in force and clarity. . . . 
Students of the history of English knew, of course, that words like 
make, take, put, get, and give had been extending their spheres of 
influence in the language, but no one before Ogden's demonstrations 
realized how vast a domain these unobtrusive little words had won. 

Willing, serviceable little workers, they were less impressive than 
the more literary verbs, but handier and safer. ... A public un- 
blessed by and unprotected by a sound training in philology escaped 
multiple dangers. So did the language itself. Every language is 
under constant attack by the tongues of its less expert users. One 
has only to watch in a Chinese university, for example the degra- 
dation of such learned words, when used without awareness of their 
implications, to see that they need protection. Basic English, by 
providing invulnerable but adequate substitutes for these more 
delicate instruments, can serve our language as a fender. 

So the best protection for a nation's taste in music would be 
to limit the number of violins and substitute saxophones! 
Staggered for a while by Dr. Richards's argument I was closing 
the book on the comforting reflection, 'Well, at any rate these 
"willing, serviceable little workers" must leave our poetry un- 
protected/ when an advertisement at the end caught my eye: 
Julius Caesar (B.E.P.C.) Shakespeare 9 s tragedy with parallel 
Basic Version and Notes. I have not yet been able to acquire 

Basic English 413 

a copy of this venture ; but hope, as soon as the paper shortage 
permits, to discover what the editor has made (for example) of: 

Between the acting of a dreadful thing 
And the first motion, all the interim is 
Like a phantasma, or a hideous dream : 
The genius and the mortal instruments 
Are then in council . . . 


But just here lies the trap for innovators, however well inten- 
tioned. Flushed with first and speedy success they let the pace 
get into their heads : they rush on, trusting in die same missionary 
fervour, to involve themselves in new and other enterprises, 
thereby, in Bacon's phrase, 'mixing up things that differ/ 
I remember passing a church in the East End on which some 
enthusiast had chalked up in large capitals, * I do not care where 
I go so long as I go forward. (Signed) David Livingstone,' 
and a cynical companion suggesting that we might add, 'Agreed, 
on behalf of the Gadarene Swine.' 

The mischief of it is that the general public catches the in- 
fection and with it the notion, quickly rooted, of Basic as a 
substitute for true English. Mr. Churchill (himself having as 
fine a command of our language as any man alive ; in writing 
and speaking, if we take the two into account together, perhaps 
the finest), having incautiously praised Basic for its right pur- 
pose, and appointed a committee to consider and report on its 
applicability for that, has now to protest vehemently: 'I have 
tried to explain that people are quite purblind who discuss the 
matter as if Basic English were a substitute for the English 
language.' But while paying lip-service to his protest, the 
promoters of Basic go far to nullify it in practice, and occa- 
sionally in their theorizing. As for practice, Mr. Ogden soon 
pushed on to produce a Basic version of a German novel (Cart 
and Emma), Dr. Richards to abridge Plato's Republic; and, as 

414 Basic English 

we have seen, the B.E.P.C. to offer an alternative to Shake- 
speare's Julius Caesar, presumably for the use of schools. 
Finally, or finally so far, a new version of the New Testament 
is perpetrated, advertised with loud trumpetings, and one of 
the Old Testament promised for 1944. All this looks strange 
beside a modest disclaimer of any intention to substitute, etc. 


But why attempt this Bible? If its purpose be merely to 
facilitate commerce, travel, the pedestrian business of life, where 
was the need of all this machinery? 'Working with the 
Orthographical Institute, a committee under the direction of 
Dr. S. H. Hooke, Professor of Old Testament Studies in the 
University of London, has been responsible for a new form of 
the Bible based on the Hebrew and the Greek . . . and- when 
the Basic form was complete it was gone over in detail by a 
committee formed by the Syndics of the Cambridge University 
Press.' Or is the design a missionary effort to ease the con- 
version of the savage? Does it help any one's intelligence to 
be taught *I have knowledge' as a step towards saying 'I know* 
or any one's grasp of a doctrine hallowed by centuries of faith 
to alter the Virgin into 'unmarried woman' ('See, an unmarried 
woman will be with child'), the two terms meaning quite 
different things, as any heathen can tell his teacher? 

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall receive; knock, 
and it shall be opened unto you: for every one that asketh 
receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it 
shall be opened. 

Compare the Basic rendering: 

Make a request and it will be answered; what you are searching 
for you will get: give the sign and the door will be open to you 
because to every one who makes a request it will be given, and he 
who is searching will get his desire ; and to him who gives the sign 
the door will be open. 

Basic English 41 5 

'Ask,' 'seek/ 'knock* how the imperative sinks, the 
authority loses accent, the assurance fades out, in the Basic 
version! with the whole further debilitated by the substitution 
of 'will' for 'shall': 'shall' being superior or master wherever 
authority speaks or a promise is affirmed. 

Compare again the famous passage in Romans viii, A.V. : 

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy 
to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us. ... 
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? For I am persuaded 
that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, 
nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor 
any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of 
God ... 

with the Basic: 

I am of opinion that there is no comparison between the pain of 
this present time and the glory which we will see in the future. . . . 
Who will come between us and the love of Christ? . . . For I am 
certain that not death, or life, or angels, or rulers, or things present, 
or things to come, or powers, or things on high, or things under the 
earth, or anything that is made, will be able to come between us and 
the love of God . . . 

and observe how the virtue has trickled out of it all ; out of the 
strong 'shalls,' and out of the 'nots,' which, with their 'ns' as 
hammers, nail the assurance. 

I turn with relief to Basic's proper function, and will end with 
a note or two on its practicability for that. 

(1) To begin with, in my observation die foreigner's chief 
trouble in learning English lies in its chaotic spelling and his 
consequent puzzles with pronunciation. If English be chosen 
for our international language I should put spelling reform well 
ahead of any shortening of the dictionary. It would be a 
mighty task and, unless entrusted to scholars, very dangerous : 
but how well for us all if well dotie ! 

(2) If Basic English become trie international language, the 
Englishman and the foreigner will each have to learn a ne*w 

41 6 On Basic English 

language: for it is just as 'artificial' as Esperanto actually, being 
an invention, not a growth, using English words for material 
but lacking native idiom, lacking also the life-giving virtue of 
the verb. 

(3) Whatever the plea, Basic should not be imposed on the 
already overcrowded curriculum of our junior schools. This 
would not only weigh intolerably on children and teachers, it 
would directly menace the English of our tradition and pride. 
For two languages would never keep their motion in so narrow 
a sphere. 


Page 8. Old Aeson. This story was evidently inspired by the birth 
of Q's first child (a son) in October 1890. 

Page 18. The White Moth. The first stanza is supposed to be the 
beginning of a poem that Annie's bereaved lover is writing about 
her. Her return in the form of a moth is reminiscent of Psyche. 

Page jz. 'Maarten Maartens' was the pseudonym adopted by the 
Dutch novelist, Joost Marius Willem van der Poorten Schwartz 
(1858-1915), in his English writings. 

Pag* 33- The Looe Die-hards. This short story was first published 
in The Illustrated London News, where it was entitled The Power 
o Music. The Die-hards provide the theme of another of Q's 
stories (Hi-spy-hi /) in his Merry Garden and Other Stories (1907). 

Page 54. Alma Mater. In later versions Q changed flits (line 4) to 
haunts, stonier faces (line 7) to other faces , and short laugh (line 17) 
to poor laugh. 

Page 56. Eckington Bridge. Eckington is a village on the Warwick- 
shire Avon, down which Q made a journey in 1887 in the company 
of Alfred Parsons, the artist. Their experiences were afterwards 
recorded in Q's book, The Warwickshire Avon, published in 1892 
with illustrations by Parsons. In this we find the prose original 
of Q's Ode: 'A small discovery awoke us. As we rested our 
elbows on the parapet, 'we noticed that many deep grooves or 
notches ran across it. They were marks worn in the stone by the 
tow-ropes of departed barges. 

* These notches spoke to us, as nothing had spoken yet, of the 
true secret of Avon. Kings and their armies have trampled its 
banks from Naseby to Tewkesbury, performing great feats of war; 
castles and monasteries have risen over its waters; yet none of 
them has left a record so durable as are these grooves where the 
bargemen shifted their ropes in passing the bridge. The fighting 
reddened the river for a day; the building was reflected there for 

p 417 

41 8 Notes 

a century or two; but the slow toil of man has outlasted them both. 
And, looking westward over the homely landscape, we realized 
the truth that Nature, too, is most in earnest when least dramatic; 
that her most terrible power is seen neither in the whirlwind, nor 
in the earthquake, nor in the fire, but in the catkins budding on the 
hazel the still, small voice that proves she is not dead, but 
sleeping lightly, and already dreaming of the spring.* 

Page 58. Dolor Oogo (or Dollar Hugo) is a big cave in the ser- 
pentine rock on the south coast of Cornwall near Ruan, a couple 
of miles from Lizard Point. 

Page 60. The Planted Heel. Polperro, where the Quillers and the 
Couches lived for centuries, is a hamlet in the parish of Talland, 
and a number of Q's ancestors consequently lie buried in Talland 

Page 64. The Famous Ballad of the Jubilee Cup was afterwards 
reprinted in From a Cornish Window, in which Q, wrote: 'The 
following verses made their appearance some years ago in the 
pages of The Pall Mall Magazine. Since then (I am assured) 
they have put a girdle round the world, and threaten, if not to 
keep pace with the banjo hymned by Mr. Kipling, at least to 
become the most widely diffused of their author's works. I take 
it to be of a piece with his usual perversity that until now they 
have never been republished except for private amusement. 

'They belong to a mood, a moment, and I cannot be at pains to 
rewrite a single stanza, even though an allusion to "Oom Paul" 
cries out to be altered or suppressed. But, after all, the allusion 
is not likely to trouble President Kruger's massive shade as it 
slouches across the Elysian fields ; and after all, though he became 
an enemy, he remained a sportsman. So I hope we may glance 
at his name in jest without a suspicion of mocking at the tragedy 
of his fate/ 

Page 72. Chant Royal. Becrowns is Q's emendation of his original 

Page jj. Sir Patrick Spens. Isaac Todhunter (1820-84) and 
Robert Potts (1805-85) were Cambridge mathematicians whose 

Notes 419 

textbooks were in great demand during Q's undergraduate 

Tod-hunting, fox-hunting. 

Page $2. The Room of Mirrors tells the same story, in miniature, as 
Q's last completed novel, Foe-Farrell, published in 1918. 

Page i?8. The Mental Deficiency Bill attacked by Q in these three 
open letters was withdrawn before it reached its third reading in 
Parliament. It was reintroduced in the following year, but in a 
different form. 

Page 2oj. A. W. Verrall was the first King Edward VII Professor of 
English Literature at Cambridge. He died in June 1912, after 
only sixteen months in office. 

Page 261. L.M.B.C. Lady Margaret (St. John's College) Boat Club. 

Caius. The name of this college is always pronounced 'keys' 
at Cambridge. 

Rupert Brooke, whose poem, The Old Vicarage, Grantchester , 
is parodied on pages 264 and 266, had been approached by Q to 
give a course of lectures on English literature, but the proposal 
fell through owing to Brooke's foreign travels in 1913-14. 

Page 27$. Thither where her secret prelude. 

Darkling in the grove of Jesus, 
Throats the nightingale. 

This was written in 1914. In 1928 Q wrote: 'The nightingale no 
longer sings in our grove; it has been driven out (one is told) by 
the brown owl/ 

Page 282. Archdeacon C . William Cunningham, Fellow of 

Trinity College, Archdeacon of Ely, and 'a pioneer in the teaching 
and writing of economic history in Great Britain.' 

Page 285. The Tempest. This is Q's condensed version of his three 
lectures on The Tempest included in his Shakespeare's Workmanship. 

Page 311. A Sexagenarian's Apology. The title is mine. 

Page 368. Q has here fallen a victim to the modern amateur yachts- 
man's stunt of omitting the definite article before the names of 


ships. He knew better, but he was guilty on occasion of bowing 
the knee to Baal. 

Page 39$. Byron. This essay is Q's much shortened version of a 
lecture that he delivered at Nottingham University College on 
3ist January 1919 (printed in 1922 in Studies in Literature^ 2nd 
Series). I have deleted from the sentence beginning at the bottom 
of page 402 a reference to the volume for which Q wrote this 
essay as an introduction. 



Titles are in italics 
Opening words of poems are in quotation marks 

Address at Opening of Keats 

House, 295 
Alma Mater, 54 
Arnold, Matthew, 141 
Avon, River, 56 

Barrie, J. M., 31-2 
Basic English, 409 
* Behold! I am not one that goes 

to Lectures,' i 
Brooke, Rupert, parody of, 264, 

'By all means practise thou,' 


Byron, 399 
'By Talland Church as I did go/ 


Cambridge, x, xi, 203, 261-6, 278, 

280-4, 352-60, 371-2 
Carmen Hellestoniense, 154 
Carol, 19 

Chant Royal of High Virtue, 71 
Chrysalis, The, 333 
Clerihew, 407 
Cnidian Venus, On the, 370 
Coleridge, 156 
Collaborators, The, no 
' Confitemini/ 154 
Cowper, parody of, 6 

'Cupid, in letters yet untaught,' 


Cynthia, To, 333 

David, Gustave, 371 
Dolor Oogo, 58 

Eckington Bridge, Ode upon, 56 
Eliot, T. S., x, 334 
Eothen, 172 
Epigrams, 333, 370 
Exeter, Open Letters to Bishop 
of, ix, 178 

Faithful Jane, 374 

Famous Ballad of the Jubilee Cup, 

Feeble-minded, Care of die, ix, 


Fire /, 3 

' Fling out your windows wide,' 19 
Fowey, vi-xi, 31-2, 90 

Garden Speaks, A, 370 
Gilbert, W. S., Lecture on, 313 

Hampstead, Keats House, 295 
Harbour of Fowey, The, 90 
Helston, 154 

424 Index 

Homer, 83 
Hudson, W. H., viii 

'If a leaf rustled,' 18 
Inaugural Lect lire, 203 
'I saw Narcissus/ 63 

Jargon, Lecture on, 230 
Jenifer's Love, 193 
Jubilee Cup, 64 

Keats, 295 

Kinglake, A. W., 172 
'Know you her secret,' 54 

Latin verses, 154 
Laying up the Boat, 79 
Lectures, 203, 230, 313, 334 
Letter to M. Maartens, 3 1 
Liberalism, viii-x, 184, 334 
Lieutenant Lapenotiere, 247 
Limerick, 406 
Looe Die-hards, The, 33 

Maartens, M., viii, 3 1 
Macaulay, parody of, 5 
May Races, 261, 278 
Monuments, 373 

'Never shaded,' 278 

New Ballad of Sir Patrick Spens, 


Newman, J. H., 206 
Not here, O Apollo /, 267 
'Not on the neck of prince or 

hound,' 7 

Obituary ofG. David, 371 
OldAeson, 8 
O matre pulchra, 278 
'O pastoral heart of England,' 56 
' O the harbour of Fowey,' 90 
Oxford, vi-ix, 3, 54, 178, 284, 

Parodies, i 6, 73, 261-6 
Parody, The Art of, 194 
Pater, Walter, 83 
Paupers, The, 22 
Pipes in Arcady, 218 
Planted Heel, The, 60 
Plato, 203 
Psyche, 13 

Room of Mirrors, The, 92 
Ruan, 58 

'St. Giles's Street,' 3 

Scholarly Don, The, 352 

Scillies, 63 

Scott, Sir Walter, memory of, 

301 ; parody of, 3 
Sea Stories, 361 
Sexagenarian s Apology, 311 
Shakespeare, 285 
Sir Patrick Spens, 73 
* Small is my secret,' 193 
Sonnet, 63 

Splendid Spur, The, 7 
Stanford, C. V., 19 
Stories, short, 8, 13, 22, 33, 92, 

'Sullen against the east,' 398 
Sursum Cor da, 398 



Talland, 60 

Tempest^ The, 285 

'The King sits in Dunfermline 

toun,' 73 
'The remarks of Alexander of 

Macedon/ 407 
'There was an old man of St. 

Omer,' 406 

'The sculptor's chisel,' 333 
'Thirteen men by Ruan Shore,' 58 
Three Open Letters, ix, 178 
"Tis evening,' 6 
To an Old Leader, 408 
Toast to the Memory of Scott, 


To the Front from the Backs, 280 
Treloar, Sir William, 154 

Turner, J. M. W., 87 
Twilight, 6 

Verrall, A, W., 207 
Voices on the Bank, 261 

'Waters and orchards are mine 


'When to the breach,' 408 
White Moth, The, 18 
Whitman, Walt, parody of, i 
'Who lives in suit of armour pent/ 


' "Wretch ! "by her statue,' 370 

Yachting, 79 

'You may lift me up,' 64