Menu Close

THE EVERGREEN

A NORTHERN SEASONAL

THE BOOK OF AUTUMN

THE CONTENTS

I. AUTUMN IN NATURE


Page
  8    Prefatory Note  .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .      V.V.B.
                                                                                   P.G.
  9    The Biology of Autumn   .     .      .      .      .     J. ARTHUR THOMSON.
  21    Love shall Stay         .     .      .      .      .     .    MARGARET ARMOUR.
  25    Under a Purple Cloud     .      .      .      .       .  ROSA MULHOLLAND.



                                          II. AUTUMN IN LIFE

  27    The Sociology of Autumn     .       .       .       .    PATRICK GEDDES.
  39    The Hammerer     .      .      .       .      .      .       SIR NOËL PATON
  43    Cobweb Hall    .      .      .      .       .      .      .    SIR GEORGE DOUGLAS.
(A Berwickshire Folk-Tale)
                                                                   
  59    November Sunshine    .        .        .        .      .  HUGO LUAUBACH.
  61    The Night-Comers    .        .        .        .      .    CHARLES VAN LERBERGHE.
(Englished by William Sharp)


                                          III. AUTUMN IN THE WORLD

  75    The Song of Life’s Fine Flower    .      .      .   S.R. CROCKETT.
  83    Le Dilettantisme     .      .      .      .     .      .   ABBÉ FÉLIX KLEIN.
  93    Amel and Penhor     .     .      .      .      .      .    EDITH WINGATE RINDER.
(A Breton Legend)
  99    Faith’s Avatar   .      .     .    RONALD CAMPBELL MACFIE.



THE CONTENTS continued


                                          IV. AUTUMN IN THE NORTH
  Page
  103    La Cité du Bon Accord    .      .     .     .    ÉLISÉE RECLUS.
  107    The Hill Water  .    .    .      .     .     .       WILLIAM SHARP.
  113    The Breath of the Snow   .     .      .     .   JOHN MACLEAY.
  121    In Shadowland      .     .     .     .     .     .   SIR NOËL PATON
  123    Mary of the Gael        .     .      .     .     .   FIONA MACLEOD.


                                          V.
  151    Maya    .      .     .     .     .      .     .     .    WILLIAM MACDONALD.



                                          DECORATIONS
  Cover       .     .     .     .     .      .     .     .      .  CHARLES H. MACKIE.
  5    Almanac  .     .     .     .     .     .     .      .    HELEN HAY.
  19    Lyart Leaves       .     .     .     .     .      .   CHARLES H. MACKIE.
  23    Vintage    .     .     .     .     .     .     .      .    ROBERT BURNS.
  41    Autumn Wind     .     .     .     .     .      .    PITTENDRIGH MACGILLIVRAY.
  57    The Return of the Reapers     .     .     .   A. G. SINCLAIR.
  73    The Yellow Rose  .     .     .     .     .      .   PITTENDRIGH MACGILLIVRAY.
  81    The Passer-by      .     .     .      .     .      .   ROBERT BURNS.
  90-91  Bacchus and Silenus     .     .     .      .   JOHN DUNCAN.
  101    Madame Chrysanthème  .     .     .     .   E. A. HORNEL
  111    Hide and Seek   .     .      .     .      .     .   CHARLES H. MACKIE.
  119    ‘Bare Ruined Choirs’ .      .     .      .     .   JAMES CADENHEAD.
  149    Der Zeitgeist  .      .     .     .      .     .      .   PITTENDRIGH MACGILLIVRAY.


                                   Headpieces and Tailpieces (after the manner of Celtic Ornament) by
NELLIE BAXTER, MARION A. MASON, and ANNIE MACKIE.

PREFATORY NOTE

In 1724 Allan Ramsay published his ‘Evergreen,’ desiring thereby to stimu-
late the return to local and national tradition and living nature. We who
inherit Ramsay’s old home and would also follow in his steps as workers
and writers, publishers and builders, are seeking to gather such traditions
as still linger around us, to set down such thought or song as may be in
ourselves—hopeful at least of suggesting better things to those who will
follow us here.

Amongst the Local and National Traditions which are interesting many
Scotsmen to-day, the present issue of the ‘Evergreen’ is particularly con-
cerned with two. These are the Celtic Renascence, now incipient alike in
Literature and Art, and the revival and development of the old Continental
sympathies of Scotland—the development of the newer but increasing
sympathies of England. The Ancient League with France and the later
intercourse with the Netherlands have deeply marked our history, some-
times even theirs, and the ‘Evergreen’ of ‘Spring’ and ‘Autumn’ give
evidence that this association is still a living and fruitful one. Hence,
while we would renew local feeling and local colour, we would also
express the larger view of Edinburgh as not only a National and Imperial,
but a European city—the larger view of Scotland, again as in recent, in
mediaeval, most of all in ancient times, one of the European Powers of
Culture—as of course far smaller countries like Norway are to-day. Our
first appeal is thus to Magna Scotia beyond Tweed and over sea, but we
would also share in that wider culture-movement which knows neither
nationality nor race.

The ‘Return to Nature’ is a rallying call which each age most answer in
its own way. The ending century has written its answer large in Science
and Industry, in Literature and Art; yet many solutions are still lacking.
Many of us are no longer satisfied with analysis and observation, with
criticism and pessimism; many begin to ask for Synthesis, for Action, for
Life, for Joy. The solution lies through action, through experiment—
‘vivendo discimus.’ Hence our open and growing group with its many
activities, educational and civic, architectural and decorative, seeks to
realise somewhat of the ‘Cité da Bon Accord’ of our illustrious guest, the
veteran pioneer of synthetic science and of social ideals, M. Élisée Reclus.
But Social Life is not merely built upon the ground of Nature; it is its out-
come and growth. Hence the need of fresh readings in Life, of fresh
groupings in Science, both now mainly from the humanist side, as lately
from the naturalist side. Yet if Man be one with Nature, her evolution is
also his, and this not only through the ages and the generations, but
through the year and its Seasons.

Here then are some of the ideas of the ‘Evergreen.’ It makes no promise
of perpetual life, but seeks only to link the Autumn of our own age with an
approaching Spring, and pass, through Decadence, towards Renascence.

                                                                                                V.V.B.
                                                                                                 P.G.

THE BIOLOGY OF AUTUMN

Page with ornament
The Database of Ornament

ARGUMENT.—Life is rhythmic and is punctuated by the seasons. The
curve of life is undulatory ; summer is the crest of the wave, winter the
trough, spring and autumn the ascending and descending curves. No one
note expresses autumn. It is a time of dying, but the fruits and seeds speak
of the abundance and continuance of life. It is a time of withering, deca-
dence, and falling asleep ; but also of storing, preparing, and supreme effort.
To feel only the sadness of autumn implies a partial view, like that pessim-
ism which exalts itself cis a complete philosophy of life.

THE life of plants and animals—and of man him-
self—is rhythmic. Rest alternates with work,
repair with waste, and periods of hunger and
self-increase are followed by periods of love and
species-continuing. But the internal rhythms,
which probably depend on the very nature of
living matter, are punctuated by the external rhythms, by day
and night, by months and tides, by seasons and cycles of years.
Thus we think of an organism as a wave on the sea of life. It
rises, grows in strength, breaks, and falls. If it be an annual,
summer is an area at the crest of the wave—the limit of its
growth and the period of reproduction—winter is an area in
the trough ; spring and autumn are the ascending and descend-
ing curves. Even if the organism be long-lived, it is still a
wave—a wave of waves—the seasons marking minor oscilla-
tions on the major curve. Moreover, it must be remembered,

                                          10

though we discern the fact but dimly, that just as the seasons
are variable within great cycles of climate-change, so the life
of the individual is part of a still larger curve, the life of the
species, which also has its periods of rise and progress, of
decline and fall.

Just as it was the sun which quickened the seeds, raised the
sap, unpacked the buds, and opened the flowers and our hearts
as well in spring, so it is the lack of sun which is now casting
a spell upon life and making us melancholy in the autumn.
But the complexity of the problem lies in the fact that the
external changes—more oblique light, a shorter day, increasing
cold, and rising storms—act upon living creatures predestined
by their protoplasmic nature to be rhythmic. Just as the
fatigue of evening and the sleep of night express an external
punctuation of an internal rhythm, so is it with the decadence
of autumn and the rest of winter.


                                          I

Even the most careless who pause to listen to the curfew of
the year must perceive the sadness of the notes, ‘Decay,
Decay,’ ‘Farewell and Death.’ They are heard in the calls
of the passing birds who ‘wail their way from cloud to cloud,’
in the rustle of falling leaves, and in the piping of a mournful
wind which bears birds and leaves away. It is a time of
withering and decadence, of leave-taking and death.
But a more careful listener will hear other very different notes,
which tell of the continuance of life in spite of death, of prepara-
tion for the future amid the withering of the present. The
‘farewell’ which seemed for ever is more accurately ‘Au
Revoir.’ For the tide of life, which has now turned in ebb,
is not one which sinks sullen and empty from a rocky shore ;
it is rather like that which bears from some great seaport a
fleet of richly-laden ships. The ebb of the year is the time
when fruits ripen and seeds are scattered, it is not an end, but
a new beginning. There is indeed stranding and wreckage,
as the dead birds among the jetsam tell us plainly, but the

                                          11

autumn fruits are more characteristic. They crown the plant’s
work for the year, and form the cradles of next spring’s seed-
lings ; they protect the young lives within the seeds, and also
secure their dispersal. Many of them harden, crack, and split
like withered leaves, as they often are ; others swell and soften
into succulence. The nectaries, through which surplus sugars
overflowed during flowering, and formed feasts of honey for the
bees and other fertilising visitors, have now closed, and the
sweetness is drafted into the ripening fruit. Even the fragrance
of the flower may be redistilled in the flavour of the fruit, and
the cheerful glow of the rosy-cheeked apples is due to the
same pigment as that in the withering leaves of the Virginian
creeper, or in the gorgeous petals of the viper’s bugloss,
which is still erect like a standard amid the dead and dying
on the moor.

The drops of water rise to the top of the sunlit fountain, enter
for a brief moment into the formation of a rainbow, and hurry
to the earth again. Such is life. The organism rises to the
crest of the wave, reproduces at its limit of growth, and hurries
from the climax of loving to the crisis of dying. So all around
us in autumn, we see the little child Love holding the door
against stalwart Death. The curfew tolls, the fires of life burn
low, the lights of love die out, the petals of the last poppy are
shed, the butterflies disappear with the sunbeams, Proserpina
goes down to Hades—many a man and beast with her—and
lowering clouds draw a shroud over the earth. The music
of L’ Allegro has died away, hushed are Pan’s merry pipes,
there is no lilt of bird ; II Penseroso begins to prose : ‘Dun sky
above, brown wastes around you are; from yon horizon dim
stalks spectral death.’

But in the very midst of death, one is impressed with the
abundance of life. It is the time of seed-scattering. The
cotton-grass has unfurled its white sails on the moor, clouds
of thistledown and ragwort nutlets with equally dainty para-
chutes are swept over the waste ; the hooked fruits of burdock,
cleavers, houndstongue, and how many more, cling to our
clothes and to the sheep’s fleece ; all sorts of pods and capsules

                                          12

have opened, and gusts of wind—how much more the equinoc-
tial gales—have scattered the seeds. The prodigality is as
unmeasurable as it is providential. One oyster survives out of
a million embryos; these thistles on the moor are also the
elect out of thousands. They survive not so much because
they are strong as because they are many, and they are many
because it is of the nature of simple life to be prolific. It is
a stream which is always overflowing its banks. And so, on
this autumn day, the harvest carts pass heavily laden with
sheaves, strong coveys of partridges darken the stubble, the
links are crowded with rabbits, the air is full of whirling seeds,
the apples fall in showers in the orchard, and we wonder, as
men have wondered for thousands of years, at the abundance
of life.


                                          II

It would be idle to deny that there is in autumn—the fall of the
year—an irrepressible note of decadence ; it is echoed in a
whisper by the rustle of falling leaves. Beneficent in their life,
for all the plant’s wealth is due to them, they are beautiful in
their dying. They have worked themselves out, for it is hardly
a metaphor to speak of the industry of the leaf ; supplies are
running short, the sun’s rays are fewer, the first shock of frost
has come, and the leaves must die. But before they die they
surrender to the plant all that they have still left that is worth
having. There is a retreat of particles down the leaf-stalk
into the stem. Thus the leaves fall virtually dead, almost
empty except of waste. They are like empty houses from
which the tenants have flitted, breaking, and burning some
of the furnishings as they went, leaving little more than
ashes on the hearth. But nature is ever generous of beauty, for
the dying leaves have a literal ‘beauty for ashes.’ Theirs is
an euthanasia, and if we are at first inclined with the poets to
weep with the withering, listening mournfully to ‘the ground
whirl of the perished leaves of hope, the wind of death’s
imperishable wing,’ we must learn a deeper plant-lore, that the
leaves which by their living have made the plant rich, make it

                                          13

no poorer when they die, that their flush of death is a prophecy
of the petal’s glory, for what is a petal but a transfigured
leaf? and that even when fallen they may serve as cradle-
clothes for next year’s seedlings. The fact remains that just
as the progressive life of the species demands the death of
individuals, and is within limits unmoved thereby, so the
forest-tree, fit emblem of Igdrasil, lives strongly on though the
leaves fall from its thousand branches.


                                          III

We hear another note of autumn when we listen to the calls of
the migratory birds as they pass overhead by night or con-
gregate with excited clamouring before starting. It is the
note of autumnal restlessness. Many little spiders feel it and
pass from field to field on silken parachutes of gossamer which
the Germans call ‘Der fliegende Sommer.’ There are also
strange autumnal flights of certain beetles and moths, the deer
leave the heights for the low ground, and the Greenland seal
comes south to Iceland. Man himself feels it, for how many
pilgrims are there at this season who journey southward
seeking the sun.

Most sensitive, however, to the breath of approaching winter,
and to hints of scarcity, are the birds whose presence made the
summer glad. Many are already gone, for the tide turned in
midsummer ; ‘the last spent pulses of the great vernal wave of
migration have scarcely ceased to flow before the first ripples
of the autumn tide begin to be apparent’ Many have slipped
away, singly or in pairs, without a good-bye; others are still
making up their minds, making many last appearances, telling
us excitedly day after day, ‘We are going, we are going !’

That they should go we do not wonder, for the leaves are
falling from the trees shaken by the cold winds, the fruits have
been gathered or scattered, the seeds are sown, most insects
are dead or in safe resting places. We draw our cloak about
us shiveringly, as we wish the last swallows ‘Bon Voyage.’

The history of the habit is wrapped up with the evolution of
climates ; thus many see in the autumnal retreat a reminiscence

                                          14

of the Ages of Horror—which made whole faunas shudder—the
Glacial Epochs. The impulse to migrate seems to be inborn
or instinctive, for even comfortably caged birds beat their wings
restlessly when the time of wandering draws near ; moreover,
after we have allowed all we dare allow to experience, edu-
cation, and social tradition, we have still to fall back on the
supposition that the power of migrating successfully is also in
great part inborn. In other words, it seems that a sense of
direction, developed in many animals, not yet wholly lost in
man, has been brought to perfection in birds.

Of all pilgrimages—and there are many animals who travel,
such as reindeer and lemmings, whales and seals, salmon
and sturgeon,—this of birds is certainly the most marvellous.
Picture the rush of the feathered tide, spreading for many
square miles in the heavens, continuing for days at a time
without interruption.

        ‘Who can recount what transmigrations there
        Are annual made? What nations come and go?
        And how the living clouds on clouds arise?
        Infinite wings! till all the plume-dark air,
        And rude resounding shore, are one wild cry.’

Think of the velocity of the flight, an exaltation of the birds’
usual powers, often far exceeding a hundred miles an hour.
Thus the dotterel is said to sup at sunset on the North African
steppes, and breakfast next morning on the Arctic Tundra;
and the Virginian plover is said to pass in one long flight of
fifteen hours from Labrador to North Brazil. Consider the
extent of the migration, often ten thousand miles, and it may
even be from the Arctic Ocean to New Zealand ; the breadth of
the flying phalanx which may simultaneously strike upon
British shores from the Channel Islands to the Shetlands ; the
altitude of the flight which seems often to be conducted in the
rare calm air found at an elevation of ten thousand feet or
more. Realise the difficulties of a journey over the pathless
sea and in the darkness of night. Contrast the ‘wild mad
rush’ of spring, when the birds fly northwards and eastwards,

                                          15

at their utmost speed, by the shortest route, and almost
without a break, as if love called them clamantly, with the less
urgent westerly and southerly flight in autumn when the young
birds, reversing the spring order, are the first to leave and
often linger by the way. Nor forbid the shadow which falls
over the picture, but remember of the birds as they fly that
theirs is ‘ no pleasant path in the wake of retreating summer
or in the van of advancing spring,’ for migration is the great
effort of their life, and to many it is the last. Must we not con-
fess that the swallow flying south is ‘too wonderful for us’?


                                          IV

Some one has defined life as a slow dying. For apart from the
quasi-immortal Protists, whose simplicity makes it possible
for them to make good their waste by constant and perfect
repair, organisms always tend more or less rapidly to run
into physiological debt to themselves. Autumn is the time for
balancing accounts, and then Death often claims what Love
has placed in pawn. Thus of the wasps whose nuptial flight
we observed one of those harvest-days, the drone-lovers are
already dead, their mates have found sheltered nooks for
maternal and hibernal slumbers, and the residue, almost
automatic Spartans, have turned out all the remaining grubs
from their cradles, and are themselves awaiting death in the
first night’s frost.

Life has also been described as a struggle to avoid death, or as
an effort towards continuance, and here again there is truth.
For apart from parasites, who live in drifting ease, life means
effort and struggle between the poles of love and hunger. We
miss part of the biology of autumn if we do not recognise it as
a time of preparation for continued life.

The plant has been storing all summer, and now the reserves
pass from the more perishable parts, from leaf to stem, from
stem to root. There are stores in many buds, well-protected
by scales which, dying away, save the delicate life within ; there
are stores in seeds, similarly protected by dead husks ; and so
is it with tuber and root-stock, corm and bulb, all are stores.


                                          16

The beavers store branches, the squirrels nuts, the field-mice
grain, the mole worms, and so on through a long list. Hun-
dreds of insects have stored provender for offspring which they
will not survive to see. Some ants store grain, biting at the
embryo and thus preventing germination; a few take their
cows—the aphides—with them into winter-quarters. It is said
that hive-bees become lazy in countries where there is practi-
cally no winter, which corroborates the suggestion that the
success of north temperate peoples is partly due to that
discipline in foresight, as well as to the emphatic punctuation
of life, which the marked seasonal changes impose.

Autumn is the evening of the year, the beginning of rest, and
we must correct the oppressive vision of a dying world with
a thought of the reparation which is given in sleep. The trees,
some of them already bare, the inert buds formed some months
ago on the boughs, the seeds buried in the ground, the
chrysalids hidden in quiet resting-places, the eggs and larvae
under the still waters, the lethargic frogs in the mud of the
pond, the reptiles and mammals who have found their winter
nests—they are not dead but sleeping. They await the good-
morning of another spring, and though to some this never
comes, of most it may be said that if they sleep, they shall do
well.


                                          V

‘As is the world on the banks, so is the mind of man,’ and no
one at all sensitive can avoid a feeling of sadness in autumn.
For some, indeed, this is apt to sink into pessimism. Of
this as a philosophic system, the biologist has nothing to
say—it is probably as good as another. He is too matter-
of-fact a person to understand the philosopher’s dictum—
‘This is the best of all possible worlds, but it is worse than
none at all.’ Nor would he disturb those who enjoy the
comforts of pessimism, which consist, according to Von Hart-
mann, in being completely disillusioned as to the present, and
in contemplating the painlessness of the no-life to come. The
biologist knows, however, that those who find only pessimism
                                          17

in autumn, have been but partial students of the season, and
he fancies that this may be true of larger things. He would
rest on the fact that the tree stands while the leaves fall, that
there is fruition in the midst of decadence, and continuance
of life in the midst of death. He knows that the apparent
‘Vergehen’ is the beginning and condition of a new ‘Werden.’
Even when dying he sees as much as he wants of himself
living on in his children. His vision of the past shows a
cumulative progress of things, and gives him a sustaining hope
for the future; and his evolutionary postulate that there is
nothing in the end which was not also in the beginning
expresses his speechless faith that in the beginning was the
Logos.

Climb the hill above the village, and watch the sun set over the
withering woods. Look out over the sea of gold, mingled with
fire, and broken by dark rocks which you know to be pines.
Accept the withering but see also the harvest-fields; even on
the bare boughs there are buds. Hear the birds pass overhead,
quite a Babel of good-byes, but many at least will return.
Watch the seeds drift off the dead plants as the wind sighs
along the hillside, and know that the race continues. Look
death in the face, and see that he is kindly and wise. Wait till
the cows are driven home lowing, till the sheep are herded off
the exposed moorland, till the colours pale in the brief twilight,
till the birds that remain cease to sing, till the lamps are lit in
the cottage windows. Wait on till the curfew tolls, till the
lights are put out one by one,—then know the rest and silence
of autumn.

                 ‘Ueber alien Gipfeln
                 Ist Ruh,
                 In allen Wipfeln
                 Spurest du
                 Kaum einen Hauch;
                 Die Vogelein schweigen im Walde.
                 Warte nur, balde
                 Ruhest du auch.’

                                                      J. ARTHUR THOMSON

LYART LEAVES

BY CHARLES H. MACKIE

LOVE SHALL STAY

Page with ornament
The Database of Ornament

        THE rose is dead, and the honey-bee
                 Forsakes the empty flower,
         And summer has sailed across the
                 sea,
            Away from a leafless bower.

        And the singing birds, to the siren south,
            Have followed the sunbeams’ track,
        And never a word in his frozen mouth
            Has the year to hail them back.

        And rosy Love, with his eyes of dawn,
            And his cheek of dimpling laughter—
        How shall he live where the skies are wan ?
            Ah me! Will he up, and after ?

        The swallow may go, and the sun depart,
            And the rose’s bloom decay.
        But I’ll make a summer within my heart,
            And Love, sweet Love, shall stay !

                                                      MARGARET ARMOUR.

VINTAGE

BY ROBERT BURNS

UNDER A PURPLE CLOUD

Page with ornament
The Database of Ornament

    UNDER a purple cloud along the west
    The great brown mother lies and takes her
    rest,
    A dark cheek on her hand, and in her eyes
    The shadow of primeval mysteries.

    Her tawny velvets swathe her, manifold,
    Her mighty head is coifed in filmy gold,
    Her youngest babe, the newly-blossomed rose
    Upon her swarthy bosom feeds and grows.

    With her wide darkling gaze the mother sees
    Her children in their homes, the reddening trees,
    Roofing wet lawns, fruit-laden lattices,
    Blue mountain domes, and the grey river-seas.

    A myriad flowering faces flush the air
    Sun-kindled eyes, and flaming outspread hair
    And vermeil cheeks, the children of her love
    Whose rapid heart-beats all her deep veins move,


                                          26

    The sun’s fair children, he whose kisses burned
    Upon her wedded lips, and now hath turned
    Life-giving ardours upon other spheres,
    Leaving their radiant offspring to her tears.

    Still laugh they in their joy, with sapphire eyes.
    And leafy wings of gold, and singing cries,
    Still clap their rosy hands, and on the breeze
    Cast fragments of their jewelled draperies.

    With tranquil heart the mother watcheth them.
    Each flower erect upon its fearless stem :
    A wind-tost head hath lost its ruby crown,
    A sapphire zone is unaware let down.

    There a wing drooped, and here a love-lit face
    Darkens and drops from its irradiate place ;
    A swaying of sweet limbs, and there a fall —
    Bewildering terror seizeth upon all.

    They rush with stumbling feet and blinding hair
    To her who waiteth in her darkening lair,
    Destruction following : their anguished cry
    Rings in her ears, ‘ O mother, must we die ? ’

    Then openeth she, the mighty one, her breast,
    And folds them all within her arms of rest :
    ‘ Ye are immortal, children of my pain ;
    Sleep unafraid, for ye shall live again.’

                                                      ROSA MULHOLLAND.

THE SOCIOLOGY OF AUTUMN

Page with ornament
The Database of Ornament

ARGUMENT.—I. How everyday experience differentiates into the Arts
and Sciences ; yet how their progress is not only towards diversity, but
towards Unity. II. How this Unity may come into our experience, and
that from childhood. III. How cities may be viewed in Nature and her
Seasons. IV. How their prevalent political economy is that of Autumn.
V. Their literary and scientific culture likewise. VI. How decadent Art
and Literature normally develop their colour, and produce their decay.
VII. Decadence. VIII. How it passes into Renascence.

                                          I

BEHIND our castle sable its field argent of white
seething mist now lies later in the morning,
gathers earlier towards the night, and the sea of
swaying tree-tops from which its dark crags rise
is crisping and yellowing towards the fall. Along
the High Riggs on either hand, the distant
specks hurry in denser crowd ; and through the green lake-bed
deep below, the engine drags under its lingering cloud a
heavier train.

In some such phantasmagoria as may pass for each of us before
the windows of his life, there lie latent our main possibilities
both of Art and Science. Most of us, alas, are soon called back
from our outlook to the workshop or the book-room, to the bed
and table of our lives, and thence too seldom return. But now
and then some chosen or forgotten child stays by his window
all his life. Hence it is that at times we hear some strange

                                          28
voice of joy or sorrow and hail a new poet ; or if his gaze be
silent, but he make for us some colour-note of the phase of
beauty he has seen and felt, we call him painter. One tells us
of sky and trees, another sketches the passing faces, a third
the incident ; whence landscape, portrait, genre, and the rest
While all these mainly observe and feel, others observe and
wonder ; and thus your curious child wanders away from the
world of Art to re-discover that of Science. This also must
subdivide its field of observation, and this into narrower
specialisms than those of the artist, and in a stranger way.
One fixes his eyes upon the siege-scarred castle, and by and by
we call him historian ; another puzzles himself about the crags
below, and becomes a geologist ; another sees only the trees
and birds—the naturalist ; a fourth sits peering into the mist
and listening only to the wind—the meteorologist. So it is
that science develops that strange mental habit for which
plain folk at once and necessarily respect and ridicule the
‘strange professor-bodie’ —whose power of intensely seeing one
class of phenomena, yet only one, leaves him ‘absent-minded,’
literally, to all the rest

In such ways, then, we need not wonder that there has arisen
the marvellous heterogeneity of contemporary Art and Science ;
nor how each still goes on differentiating in its own way. Scien-
tific Congresses and Art Exhibitions must needs multiply, as
Science goes on isolating and analysing strange new fields of
minute detail. Art refracting subtler aspects of nature through
more individual moods of mind. Who now speaks of Leo-
nardo’s, Durer’s dream of reuniting Art and Science, save as
a mere echo of the days of alchemy ? Little wonder, then, if
our dreams of this should please few critics of either camp ;
yet, like themselves, we also speak that we do know, and
testify that we have seen.

For there is a larger view of Nature and Life, a rebuilding of
analyses into Synthesis, an integration of many solitary experi-
ences into a larger Experience, an exchange of the narrow
window of the individual outlook for the open tower which
overlooks college and city.

In such moments all the artificially isolated mind-pictures of

                                          29
mist and rock, of bird and tree, of man and his doings, reunite
their special ‘sciences’ into Science. Nor does one lose this
sense of unity when one descends again to one’s own habitual
outlook, but rather sees with new clearness all these diverse
‘ ‘ologies ’ of which the half-informed think as of mazes beyond
number, and within which even their special investigators are
so often lost, as but orderly and parallel developments upon
three planes—physical, organic, and social—which three are
themselves not only parallel, but united by the world-process of
Development, into a single Unity. The unnumbered descrip-
tive specialisms of all three, like the mosaic facets of an insect’s
eye, are uniting into a single presentment of the world. In
the science of life every one knows how of late years mind and
body are again coming together, so that the psychologist is
now also a physiologist ; and even in the anatomist, so long an
impenitent necrologist, the converse awakening has begun.
So it is with the science of energy on the one hand, with that of
society on the other; physics and aesthetics, economics and
ethics are alike steadily recovering their long-forgotten unity.
The age of mechanical dualism is ending; materialism and
spiritualism have each had their day ; that of an organic and
idealist Monism is begun. The studies of sun and stars, of
rock and flower, of beast and man, of race and destiny are
becoming once more a single discipline ; complex indeed, but
no more a mere maze than a mere chaos, no more a mere fixed
unity than a maze ; but a growing Cosmos, a literal Uni-verse,
of which the protean variety of Man and Nature are seen to
be orderly developments ; each a phase of being, of becoming ;
each at once a Mode and Mood of the Universal Energy.

                                          II

But this unity, the scientific man and the artist mostly agree in
saying, may be all very well on the abstract and speculative
level, but what can it do for us who are not content with philo-
sophy, who live and labour in the concrete world ? How can
your fine talk of synthesis help us with that? Leave philo-

                                          30
sophy, the answer is, leave for a little your exhibitions and your
congresses, and let us first begin with our children at school ;
for them all your descriptive sciences and much of your art
will be absorbed into their ‘Geography and History.’ —Dull
catalogues, you think ? But forget your own woful schooling,
and recall their real significance. Do they not cover Art and
Science if they tell us, or rather teach us in some measure truly
to imagine, the story of Nature and Man through Space and
Time?

Hence it is that the narrative of individual travel and experi-
ence, like that of Herodotus or Marco Polo, Robinson Crusoe
or Humboldt and Darwin, has at all times and to all minds and
ages so wide an appeal ; for here is the very stuff of experience
from which special science, art, and literature are made ; while
of their development into a higher and fuller unison there are
already some great masterworks in which the style is worthy
of the science. Such, for instance, are Buffon’s ‘Histoire
Naturelle’ in the last century, Elisee Reclus’ ‘Geographie
Universelle’ in this. In such an education as we are coming
to, instead of books innumerable and pictures few or none, as
at present, the books as in the ancient church will be few, but
the pictures well-nigh infinite ; and for this approaching de-
mand of the school walls of the world let the foresighted
painter be getting his imagination as well as his technique
ready.

Again, then, as of old the child shall know how the earth and
sun determine the seasons; these the plant and animal life ; and
thus also, indirectly as well as directly, our own essential life
and labour. Into this simple chain, henceforward unbroken,
all minor specialisms, their loose facts woven firmly into chains
of causation, shall be securely linked. To develop this simple
lesson, this House the Sun Built, all our specialists are needed,
astronomer and meteorologist, zoologist and botanist, economist,
writer, and critic. And (as in the educative initiations of the
ancient mysteries) the lore of the seasons furnishes the central
thread. Our glorious Autumn of harvest and woodland, her
pathos of fall and decay have indeed been familiar from that

                                          31
very dawn of art and poetry, which her wealth and wine, her
joy and sorrow, have done perhaps most of all the seasons to
awaken. Yet our special sciences thrown together into the
press yield new and rich elements to the old thought-vintage.
They tell us where the harvest wind was warmed by the long-
sunned sea, they signal from their observatories the Jotuns
mustering white upon the hills, and warn us of their stormy
breath ; they follow the migrating bird across the sea, the fish
into its depths, the seed into its appropriate soil. They follow,
too, more deeply, the way in which our own lives are adapted to
this Drama of Nature. They not only see as of old how the
grapes or com determine the autumn of the husbandman, or
the descending cattle lead their herdman home ; but ask if the
herrings the fisherman has to follow are themselves borne land-
ward upon a Salter wave, see how the roots of the forest tree
grow while the dryad seems in her winter sleep, or find how
there lie amid the decay of autumn the witch-dreamed secrets
of evil and good, sickness and wealth, disease and fertility.

Thus, too, our united physical and social geography will lead
us straight into the very philosophy of History and amid the
problems of Criticism. For it is the fundamental thesis of
Human Evolution (there is also a supreme one) that the sur-
roundings—the soil and climate, and hence the seasons—
determine all the primary forms of labour; this labour again
determines the nature of the family ; this the structure of the
society ; and all these the individual man in life and thought
That literature may arise from the seasonal work of life, all
see in the harvest dance or the shepherd’s song, in Virgil or
Burns, but few carry this far enough. Taine’s great history
of our literature has, of course, its errors (he was too much
before the days of Le Play and ‘La Science Sociale’), but his
general idea was sound. ‘Life the green leaf, say we, and Art
the flower.’ All the great flowers of literature and art rise
straight from their great rootstocks, each deep within its soil.
German commentators who teach, and critics who assume,
that thought may be understood apart from its underlying
life are, of course, not far to seek: yet such a view is untrue even

                                          32
for the most artificial flowers, false alike for the subtle devices
of the decadent poet, and the sarcasms of his reviewer.

                                          III

Yet the seasons—they may be all very well for trees and birds,
for oxen and for them whose talk (or even song) is of such ;
but our rock-built cities—surely these are independent of your
seasons—there is no place here for such rustic fancies! So
indeed men were wont to think of the rocks themselves, but
since Lyell determined certain ‘Principles’ we know how upon
these the winter rains and frosts and snows all tell most swiftly
and surely, albeit silently— ‘they melt like mist, the solid lands.’
And the city itself, does it really need anthropology and
culture-history to remind us that its very existence is largely
conditioned, its whole mode of life determined, by the approach
of winter, for why else the crowding street, the heavier train ?
What are our stone houses but artificial caves, what we but
the modem Troglodytes, who in our smoky labyrinths forget
the outer world, and think no more of the seasons (save in
society slang) because we have made ourselves a city life as
near as may be to a perpetual winter ?

We are indeed the New Troglodytes ; hence our restless and
ant-like crowding, our comfortable stupor of hibernation, our
ugly and evil dreams. Here is a main clue to the sociology
and psychology of those wicked fairies who are such character-
istic developments of the populations of the sunnier southern
cities, of those sullen gnomes so common in the gloomier
northern ones. So, too, we may understand much of the
physical degradation of their inhabitants. We know the secrets
of the metals, and forge new weapons and invent strange
mechanisms and cunning fables like the dwarfs of old. And
like them we are stunting ourselves anew.

                                          IV

But our winter cave is a store of provision, and if some lack
foresight, others have it overmuch. Hence arises the common
‘mania of owning things’ — a growing madness as of those

                                          33
American squirrel-millionaires that spend their lives in feverishly
heaping up great barns of plenty which they could not consume
in years, and which they must leave to moulder and rot.

But in most cases it is not excess but lack of foresight that
does the mischief. Population presses on subsistence, and
so arises the strangest and most characteristic biological
phenomenon of autumn, that keen competition at the margin
of (degenerating not progressing) existence, which our modem
cities have brought to that intensity of literally putrescent
horror unknown before in history or life, at which we com-
placently sniff and pass by as ‘merely an ordinary slum.’
The decaying leaf-heap of the garden, the manure-heap of the
stable, are preyed upon, each by its appropriate mould. This
swiftly digests all it can from the mass, scatters its multi-
tudinous progeny abroad upon the wind, and dies of hunger.
Yet not of hunger only, for meantime has been sprouting a
lower form which has the same history, and is in its turn
replaced; each generation thus expressing a lower stage of
competition, a more complete decay, a more thorough re-
burning of the ashes left by its predecessor.

In the same way it is to many minds of a quite clear and
rational, though surely somewhat limited type, that the sole
theory, nay, the whole practice also, of ‘economic progress’
lies in the steady development of a lower and lower life. Do
we not tell the wretched mill-girls of our Dundees and Oldhams
how they must speedily give place to the cheaper drudges of
Calcutta and Shanghai, or save themselves and slay these
by diving into a yet lower circle of poverty? So where can
we find a better opening for our capital than by removing it
to the East, or one in more obvious conformity with Nature ?
And what remedy is there? None that any one knows of—
in autumn. For now is the golden age of Competition, as of
Death.

                                          V

In the same way it is in the intellectual world. Ideas once
fresh from life wither and dry, but may still be utilised, infused

                                          34
anew, albeit in dilute form, by the help of commentaries. So
commentary succeeds commentary, and criticism is piled upon
criticism, copy upon copy; the lower industry must have its
lower journalism, its lower art to match—so at length the slum
newsagent’s window, full of the strangest parodies of the art
and science and literature of the educated classes. Are not
the ‘Police News’ and its French congeners at the very
fountainhead of Realism ? the ‘Family Herald’ or ‘Boys’ Own
Library of Romance’ ? Punch has surely not forgotten that
he came from the Naples crowd? ‘Tit- Bits’ is to the com-
mercial traveller exactly what ‘Chambers’s Encyclopaedia’ and
the ‘Britannica’ are to the better-informed classes, nay, the
British Association, the German University, with Cambridge
and Johns Hopkins to boot, to the learned ones—a well-
scissored chaos of interesting details, of ‘Speciellen Arbeiten.’
The culture of any city or period is really far more of a piece
than we like to believe ; yet the thought of the populace, like
its labour, is full of the future as well as of the past, its
literature of keynotes as well as echoes. And though the
learned see their lore is vulgarised to the people, and often, of
course, spoiled in the process, they seldom know the converse
truth. That is that the strength and the weakness of their
specialism are but a reflection and outcome of those of our
modem industrial world, of the division and subdivision of
labour, which have long kept so far in advance of the organisa-
tion of it.

Still harder is it to learn how the new synthesis we have seen
as incipient in the world of thought must grow with advancing
energy in the world of action. The wholesale social reformer,
indeed, loudly proclaims this. He promises us much of both,
but as yet lacks patience and skill to make much definite con-
tribution to either. On the world’s stage, as on the player’s,
labour and thought are indissoluble ; and as the first is folly
without the second, so the second is futile without the first.
Would we be successful playwrights, either on the great stage,
or on the small ? We have to be more than wrights or authors

                                          35
merely; we must organise our labour to orchestrate our
thought Hence it is that each Renascence of Culture is the
Story of a City.

                                          VI

Amid the many problems of city life and degeneration some
consideration of those of Sex is especially in these days forced
upon us. The naturalist student must here again, as always,
look below literature into the life from which it springs, and so
he sees, in all the strange phenomena of passion and horror
which the latter-day novelist so unsparingly reveals, the
extreme cases of Variation under Domestication.

For with food and shelter for winter, man becomes the first of
his own domesticated animals, and the consequences of domesti-
cation inexorably follow. First comes the extension of the
breeding season more and more fully throughout the year
(so distinguishing, indeed, domestication from mere captivity),
witness in varying measure all truly domesticated races, notably
cat and mouse, dove and rabbit That individuality blossoms
not with the self-regarding, but the sex-regarding life, the
development of child into Woman or Man is, of course, the
main example ; and here is a prime condition of intenser
and fuller development, of organic and psychical individuation.
Watch for a little your common doves at play, and see how
passion and desire inspire gesture, these pouting their bosoms,
and those spreading their tails. But in some, gesture has
become habit, and habit been established as variety; and so
fantails and pouters are the result—for most purposes distinct
and higher species. Domestication also involves precocity, and
other consequences, and with all these degeneration seems
more easy and frequent than advance. But we need not here
trace the ignoble side of the evolution of sex (say rather Evolu-
tion through Sex). We are but naturalists and rustics ; let the
fashionable novelist go on till the mad doctor is ready.

Domestication involves disease of all sorts, or at any rate,
increased liability to disease—again a matter in which breeder

                                          36
and physician are at one ; and we see how increasingly medical
treatment and hygiene agree in prescribing more and more of
that Return to Nature, which, even as it is, is our yearly source
of health and sanity.

                                          VII

It is time to come to another great doctrine of the Decadence.
We have heard abundantly of Art for Art’s sake, and we all
know how superior Art is to any restraints of morality—how
indifferent to any call to action. Well, so far true. The thesis
is not only defensible, but, on a fresh side, that of Science, of
which we have already noted the kindred limitations. ‘Here
is the germ of the disease,’ says the microscopist, ‘but do not
ask me for the remedy.’ ‘Je n’impose rien, je ne propose meme
rien, j’expose,’ calmly explains the student of social science,
despite the cry for bread. Artist and man of science alike can
but mirror the world without Hence it is that for the aesthetic
appreciation of the world – phantasmagoria, the questioning
intellect must be calmed, the call to action ignored ; the rich
variety and contrast of modem life must be impartially observed,
dispassionately absorbed ; and hence sheltered amid the wealth
and comfort of our city life our aesthete develops as never
before, his impressionist mirror growing more and more perfect
in its polished calm. So develop new subtleties of sense ; and
given this wealth of impressions, this perfection of sensibility,
new combinations must weave themselves in the fantasias of
reverie. Our new Merlins thus brighten our winter with
their gardens of dream.

Here then is the standpoint from which to appreciate that
keenly observant yet deeply subjective ‘Realism’ which has been
so characteristic of literature and art, as indeed also its com-
plementary movement, that strange and wayward subjective
Romanticism which has run parallel with it. So far both
movements amply vindicate themselves against the Philistine
criticism they have been wont to meet ; yet, alas, they too easily
make that step further which justifies it. For this attitude of

                                          37
life becomes fixed by habit, the lotos land is not easily left.
For the gentler natures a deepening melancholy suffuses life,
though in the stronger types passion may distil new subtleties
of art or song. In time, inaction rouses the morbid strain
latent in every life, and so the degeneration of the artist may
set in from the physical side ; and if strength remain, it must
find outlet, or be lulled asleep. So arise and increase the temp-
tations of the urban aesthete ; who not only like any other man
is no saint to resist them, but whose training we have seen
has steadily relaxed both the intellectual and the moral fibre
of resistance : and hence it is that the end of every epoch of
decadence has been the same—an orgie of strange narcotics
and of the strangest sins.

        ‘I did but taste the honey of romance ;
        And must I lose a soul’s inheritance ?’

                                          VIII

Is all aestheticism then evil, and only activity good? Has art only
been an ignis fatuus, and is the jeer of the coarse utilitarian,
the triumph of the joyless ascetic, to be the last word ? Not so :
the road of life ever lies forward, through the present phase of
evolution, not back from it, be its dangers what they may.
This so-called Decadence of literature and art which, as we
have seen, science fully shares, is no hopeless decline, but only
an autumn sickness, and one of rapid growth and adolescence.
For man is increasingly master of the world and of his fate ;
he does not merely rest in his environment and take its mould,
but rises superior to environment and remoulds it. So art and
science, which we have seen unite in imagination, find unity
in Action also, in that detailed reorganisation of urban and
rustic life into health and beauty, which is the ideal of the
Incipient Civilisation, and which distinguishes it from the con-
fusion of the Contemporary yet Disappearing one. Here in fact
lies the task of our urban autumn as harvest is that of the
field; and to this men return with health and hopefulness

                                          38
gained from contact with nature. Autumn is indeed in many
ways the urban spring, and spring, when we are weary with
city life, is the urban autumn. Thanks then, and even honour,
to the art and science of the Decadence, since from it we have
learned to see the thing as it is; it has even helped us like-
wise to imagine it as it might be : it remains only to ask if in
some measure we can make it as it should be, and here lies
intact such originality as is left open to us—that of Renascence.
To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose
under the heaven ; so in this rhythm of passive with active life,
of contemplation with constructive energy, lies the health and
the future of the Individual and of the Race.

Artist and aesthete, writer and critic in this social Autumn, this
ending of an age, all shrink from its active life, and indeed
rightly. What profit these men of industry who can but
mechanically construct, these men of science who but analyse,
these emperors and revolutionists who dream but to destroy—
Philistine decadents all I Little wonder that with the world-
weary theologian or pessimist they proclaim their passive
doctrine as final, their standpoint as permanent—and even as
they speak their flowers fade, their garlands fall ; then comes
despair and silence.

        ‘Some little talk awhile of ME and THEE
        There was—and then no more of THEE and ME.’

The first word of the Sociology of Autumn is of the beauty of
Nature, the glory of Life, both culminating (as our urban
culture only more fully teaches us) in their Decadence. Hence
there inevitably comes the second word, the pessimist antithesis :
yet a third—the vital one—remains. Amid decay lies the best
soil of Renascence: in Autumn its secret: that of survival
  yet initiative, of inheritance yet fresh variation—the seed;
   who wills may find, may sow, and in another Autumn also
     reap. This last word, then, leaves Omar’s death-song
          and returns to the prose of homely life.
               ‘II faut cultiver son jardin.’

                        PATRICK GEDDES.

THE HAMMERER

Page with ornament
The Database of Ornament

                              To whom it may concern.

            STRIKE while the iron’s hot;
            So mayst thou mould thy lot
        As thine own power and purpose would, I wot

             Wait till it cool,—in vain
            Thy sinews thou shalt strain:
        As others shaped it, will the mass remain.

            For, Fate’s propitious hour
            Neglected, purpose, power.
        Are futile, as on desert sands the shower.

            Yet hammer on; each blow
            Will mitigate some throe
        Of thy regret—worst grief the soul may know!

            And from the metal cold—
            Like Tubal-cain’s of old—
        Thy strokes undreamed-of music may unfold.

            For suffering ’tis, they say,
            That wakes the poet’s lay—
        As grapes must break ere the pent juice find way.

            And when—thy workday past—
            The hammer down is cast,
        We’ll say—‘At least, he hammered to the last!’

                                                                        NOËL PATON.

AUTUMN WIND

BY PITTENDRIGH MACGILLIVRAY

COBWEB HALL

Page with ornament
The Database of Ornament

I KNOW an old house, situated in the Merse of Berwick-
shire, which from its deserted and neglected air has
received the name of Cobweb Hall. This house has a
story. Indeed, though efforts have repeatedly been
made to let or to sell it, these have long since been
abandoned as useless, for the building seems never to
have recovered from the injury inflicted on its reputation by a
series of events which took place a good many years ago. The
house is not haunted, but it is shunned, which perhaps is worse.
Until it was allowed to fall into disrepair, ‘Cobweb Hall’ must
have been a desirable residence enough. It is commodious,
and not without pretension to architectural dignity, in the form
of castellated work over the front. As is shown by its name, it
takes rank as a building above the manses and the better sort
of farm-houses, and among the ‘halls.’ The red-berried bar-
berry plant now pushes up strongly against the white ‘harl,’ or
rough-cast, of its walls ; and round about it there is a dark
neglected shrubbery, originally laid out with box-edged walks
and planted with laurels and with tufts of the old-fashioned but-
cher’s broom, but now intersected by beaten tracks where
tracks have no right to be, and defaced with little circular
hollows, the work of hens. Here, in early spring, the yellow

                                          44
aconite flourishes, in the shade under the trees. There is a
bottle-green flaw in the out-house window-pane, and one notices
that the back door seems to be the only one which has been
used this many a day ; but there is little or nothing else to catch
the eye outside. However, if you raise yourself on the window-
ledge, and peep through a chink between the closed shutters
into the interior, you catch a glimpse of desolation indeed. The
bare boards are painted over with the droppings of birds which
have found their way into the house through broken windows,
and which, not having always been able to find their way out
again,—as a feathered corpse or two shows,—have sometimes
died of starvation. And assuredly the mansion has earned its
nickname of ‘ Cobweb Hall.’ It is now supposed to be looked
after by a care-taker, who seems to use it for her own purposes,
and who never visits it except by daylight. Adjoining the little
shrubbery there is a cornfield, and a mile or two away, oh much
lower ground, a sea-board village. It is said that this village
was once famed for the smuggling enterprise of its inhabitants,
and that its shaggy-locked outlandish headmen would some-
times meet together in the ale-house at night with deeds of vio-
lence in their pipes, and murder in their cups. But this is by
the way.

Long ago things were very different in the house. Carpets
then covered the floors, the hearths were warm, smoke rose
from the chimneys, and thrice a day a comforting smell of cook-
ing filled the kitchen. ‘Cobweb Hall’—then known by a very
different name—was the abode of Miss Clinkscales, the only
daughter of the writer and usurer of that name, who had
made a pile of money by his business in the neighbouring
county town. For a time, after her father’s death. Miss Clink-
scales had kept house for her brother—who had bought landed
property in the county with a part of the handsome fortune
which he had inherited. And when, somewhat late in life, this
brother married, she had preferred living on in the country to
moving into the county town. She was a lady of a very inde-
pendent character, who would have her own way in all things,

                                          45
and who was considered a little eccentric. Well, Cobweb Hall
—I shall adhere to the nickname—was at that time in the mar-
Ket. It was in one respect a suitable enough residence for a
single lady of good means, consisting as it did of a first-rate
house, and having only a modicum of land attached to it Miss
Clinkscales bought it, and took up her abode in it, carrying her
various theories strenuously into practice in her daily life.
At this time she was in the prime of life, and did not suffer from
the solitariness of her dwelling ; for, though a slight tendency
to parsimoniousness (as was said) prevented her receiving visi-
tors to stay with her, she received numerous callers, and, being
of an active disposition, she was able to get about as she pleased.
But when, with the lapse of years, she had become old and
crippled by rheumatism, it was different. Then her visitors
would often advise her to move into the town. (She had some
very assiduous visitors, whose attentions she attributed to the
fact that she was old, rich, and heirless.) They said it would
be so much more cheerful for her there, that she would be within
easier reach of a doctor, and so on. But Miss Clinkscales had
systematically throughout life regarded advice as an imperti-
nence, and her native wilfulness, or strength of character, had
not shared in the decline of her physical powers. She answered
drily enough that she never wearied when she was alone.

‘But do you think it is safe ? Are you not afraid at nights in
this big house all by yourself?’

The idea latent in the interlocutor’s mind was the fact—well
known in the neighbourhood—that the old lady kept a large
sum of money in the house, a distrust of banks being one of her
crotchets. But she was not to be drawn. She merely replied,
without testifying to the smallest gratitude for the solicitude dis-
played on her account :

‘Oh, don’t distress yourself! Nobody would harm an old body
like me: and, besides, I have Weir to protect me.’

Machell Weir was Miss Clinkscales’ manservant. He had
been with her for a good many years, and she had the greatest
confidence in him. Some people thought this confidence mis-

                                          46
placed, and ventured to hint as much to the old lady, supporting
their view of the case, when required to do so, with various
vague tales and rumours. But Miss Clinkscales was not used
to encourage interference in her private affairs. And so, with
truly Scottish candour, she would reply that, though old, she
was not blind ; and that she believed she could distinguish as
well as another between those who were genuinely devoted to
her interest, and such as were officiously active in her affairs for
reasons of their own. She added some sound observations upon
minding one’s own business, and tagged them with a scriptural
quotation touching tale-bearers. It will be seen that the old
maiden lady had entire confidence in her own judgment. As
became the daughter of a good business man, she had made
her will long ago—a will in which no mention of any of her
friends’ names occurred. But she saw no occasion to make
this fact public ; and, indeed, she considered that the ruling and
bullying of a group of expectant sycophants and legacy-hunters
was a legitimate pleasure, vouchsafed to her as a small compen-
sation amid the privations of an infirm old age.

The butler merits a word of description. In person he was thin
and pale. He had a soft voice and a conciliating manner. But
the striking thing about him was that, though he was barely
forty, his hair and his whiskers (which he wore long) were
snow-white, and had been so since he was twenty. Now, a man
whose appearance is marked by an incongruity of this kind
goes through life, by no fault of his own, under a disadvantage.
For it is apt to seem as though Nature herself were furthering
duplicity in him, or else, perhaps, marking him out as a person
different from others, and against whom it behoved others to be
on their guard. This, perhaps, was the reason why Machell
was no favourite with the world.

However, he satisfied his mistress, and that was the great
thing. She liked his obsequious manner—there is no account-
ing for tastes—and had conceived a high opinion of his char-
acter. And, indeed, as she lived latterly confined to two rooms,
perhaps it was not very difficult for the butler to keep up

                                          47
appearances in regard to all that met her eye. He was singu-
larly attentive in his inquiries for her health ; he was quiet and
home-keeping. And, as she had been very kind to him, she
naturally believed that he cherished an affection for her. It is
needless to say that this sort of two-and-two-make-four cannot
always be depended on when human nature is involved in the
calculation.

One night Miss Clinkscales retired to rest as usual. The next
morning a maidservant on approaching her mistress’s bed-
room, which she had expected to find as usual in darkness, was
surprised to see light under the door, and on entering dis-
covered that the shutter of one of the windows, and, indeed, the
window itself, stood open. By the light thus admitted the maid
beheld a scene which appalled her. A cupboard near the bed
had been forced open and ransacked, some of its contents being
scattered over the floor. The bed-clothes had also been
dragged from the bed, and were saturated with blood, and
upon them with the throat cut lay the body of Miss Clink-
scales.

On seeing this sight, the maid turned and fled shrieking from
the room. Instinctively she ran for protection to the pantry.
The butler was not within, nor, when the other servants,
summoned by her cries, had collected around her, did he make
his appearance. This was thought strange. The alarm was
raised, and in due course the authorities arrived upon the scene.
There was no possible room for doubt that Miss Clinkscales
had been brutally murdered, and as by this time it also seemed
certain that the butler had disappeared, suspicion at once
attached itself to him. A search was made, but led to no
practical result The fact was, however, elicited that a large
sum of money, in gold and bank-notes, had been abstracted
from the cupboard in the murdered lady’s room.

The police at once set to work, and took every possible measure
to trace the missing man. A description of him was circulated,
and a reward offered for such information as might lead to his
apprehension. Inquiries were also set on foot with a view to

                                          48
trace the stolen bank-notes, or to bring to light suspicious
transactions in gold. Meantime all passengers embarking
from the neighbouring seaport were subjected to scrutiny.
All this, however, led to nothing. There was, as usual, no-
dearth of apparent clues and of plausible rumours. For in-
stance, it was stated that a man answering to the description
of the suspected criminal had been encountered on the high
road near Cobweb Hall, in the grey of the morning following
the murder. He was heavily laden, and had appeared anxious to
avoid observation. Again, a story got about to the effect that
an unknown man, who carried a bundle, had called for refresh-
ment at a lonely inn upon a neighbouring moor, and that on
hearing horse’s hoofs approaching along the road he had left
his drink untasted, shouldered his bundle, and made off. The
authorities spent a good deal of time in following up these clues
—time which in the end proved to have been wasted. They
also made two mistaken arrests. One man also came forward
of his own accord and voluntarily gave himself up as the mur-
derer of Miss Clinkscales. He was committed: but upon
inquiry his story was proved false, and he had to be liberated,
leaving the police no further advanced than they had been be-
fore. In a word, the utmost efforts of the authorities remained
unrewarded, and at last it almost seemed as though the butler
must have melted into thin air.

During the whole of this time it would be difficult to exaggerate
the excitement which prevailed in the surrounding district.
The unfortunate lady had been so long and so well known in
the neighbourhood that her death by murder created an
immense sensation, and her funeral was the largest ever wit-
nessed in those parts. The excitement was, of course, increased
by the mysterious disappearance of the butler. He had always-
been disliked ; and to him, of course, the popular voice unani-
mously and unhesitatingly attributed the authorship of the deed.
Nervous women, thereupon, became unable to remain in the
house alone for fear of him, and in short, for a time, the sole
subjects which filled men’s minds in the surrounding country

                                          49
were the murder at Cobweb Hall and the efforts of the police
to apprehend the murderer. From far and wide people
flocked to visit the scene of the murder, the number of visitors
being especially large on Sundays ; and wherever two persons
met, the chances of the butler’s capture formed the topic of
conversation.

At last, however, the excitement began to wear itself out
When a fortnight and more had passed, it seemed that the
prospects of the murderer’s being taken were few. The public
accordingly blamed the authorities for having allowed him to
slip through their fingers, and began to return to their ordinary
placid existence. About this time, however, an incident oc-
curred which partially revived the excitement.

The women-servants employed by the late Miss Clinkscales
still remained at the Hall, in charge of the house. Late one
night, one of these, a young girl, entered the kitchen where her
fellow-servants were seated, deadly pale, and in a fainting con-
dition, and gasped out that she had seen the butler’s ghost in
the shrubbery. There were two male visitors in the kitchen at
the time, keeping the women company. Without waiting to
hear more, these men rose, took a lantern, and sallied forth
together ; nor did they return until they had thoroughly beaten
every bush in the grounds. They discovered nothing. In the
meantime it had been elicited from the terrified girl that, in
returning through the shrubs from a stolen interview with a
sweetheart close at hand, she had suddenly beheld the white
face of the butler peering up at her, as it seemed from the
ground. This extraordinary statement was canvassed at great
length. But as it was well known that the girl’s nerves—never
of the strongest—had been much shaken by the recent terrible
occurrence, people generally agreed in the end that she had
been the victim of a delusion.

Time passed on. The murder had been committed in summer,
and the autumn now arrived. The harvest had begun, and in
due course it came to the turn of the field adjoining the
shrubbery at Cobweb Hall to be harvested. It had been sown

                                          50
with beans. Accordingly the rigs were duly opened out, and
a mixed party of men and women ‘shearers’ assembled to
execute the work. The day was fine, but there were not
wanting indications that the weather was about to break;
and so the farmer, when he visited the field at mid-day, im-
pressed upon his workers the necessity of getting on with the
work as quickly as possible. Consequently when labour was
resumed after the dinner-hour, at the suggestion of the steward,
what is locally known as a ‘kemp,’ or strife, was inaugurated.
That is to say that the ground and the strength of reapers
were alike equally divided, a portion of ground was assigned
to each band of reapers, and a race was started which should
get its task completed first. Beneath the rays of a vertical
sun, shining in a cloudless sky, the reapers set to their work
with a will. The field was a large one, the season had been
fine, and the crop was heavy. They toiled all the afternoon.
Among the toilers at one side of the field was a girl employed
in binding. Happening to stand erect, to straighten her back,
in the interval of tying two sheaves, this girl observed the
beanstalks at some distance in front of her shaken, as though
a dog were running among them. There was no dog that she
knew of in the field ; still there was nothing very surprising in
what she saw, and she made no remark upon it at the time.
The strife continued. In time only a comparatively narrow
strip of the crop remained standing. The race promised to be
a close one, and either party began to strain every nerve to
win. Again the grid saw something which puzzled her. As
the man to whom she was attached as binder gathered an
armful of beanstalks towards him, preparatory to severing
them with his sickle, it seemed to her that his action laid
bare a part of something which appeared to be lurking in
concealment. As swift as light this something was withdrawn
into the covert of the standing beans. The binder could
almost have sworn that it was a man’s foot and leg. But this
was surely impossible! The dazedness resulting from the
heat, from stooping, and from prolonged monotonous exertion.

                                          51
she concluded, must have deceived her. Besides, this was no
time for idle words; so she told herself that it must have
been some beast that she had seen, and again she said nothing
aloud.

And now but one double ridge remained to reap. The rival
parties took opposite ends of the field, and then began to draw
eagerly towards each other, laying the beans low before them
as if for life itself. All around them the field was cleared, and
the sheaves tied with ‘whippies’ neatly set up, in stooks of
twelve, ‘toward the mid-day sun,’ as the reapers say. A glorious
afternoon’s work had been accomplished, and the farmer who
had been watching from a distance now came forward to see
the last stalks levelled with the ground, and to compliment his
workers.

‘Hillo !’ cried he, ‘what have we here ?’

And then, plunging his arm into the midst of a forest of beans
a few yards square, he dragged out of it, by the trouser-leg,
into view of the astonished labourers, the form of the miserable
butler, shrieking like a wild animal, feebly resisting, and trying
to hide his face in the ground. The workmen had been too
much absorbed in their work to notice him before. And the
reason why he had allowed himself to be captured became
apparent when it was discovered that one of his legs was
broken.

Whilst he was in prison awaiting execution, the murderer—
who for a man in his station of life was an excellent
scholar—wrote a confession. This document was printed as a
pamphlet, and sold for a penny. It had an immense circulation
at the time, but is now extremely rare ; and from a copy of it
in my possession a number of the details incorporated in this
narrative have been drawn. It is certainly a curious composi-
tion—written with some pretence of style, and abundantly
besprinkled with religious sentiments. A fatuous vanity,
which would scarcely have been looked for in the author,
peeps out at every turn. He seems to feel himself to be,
after all is said, a sort of hero with a difference, and he tells

                                          52
his tale with unction, and with a certain impudence of candour.
Perhaps this excessive outspokenness may be explained as
being the natural reaction after concealment; or perhaps the
murderer was one of those weak characters who seem to
crave for notoriety, no matter of what kind—or, shall we say—
to bid for the sympathy which has been denied them in life,
no matter how insanely, to the last.

The confession opens with an account of the writer’s early
years, and, if his story is to be believed, it is to hardships
and persecutions endured in childhood and youth that the
corruption of a character naturally mild and amiable are to be
traced. Reading between the lines, however, I incline to
judge differently. To me it seems that Machell Weir must
have had rather the nature of the spoiled than of the ill-used
child, for it is quite obvious that he made most excessive
demands upon life: he was not by any means one to be
‘thankful for small mercies.’ Plenty of money, liberty, and
independence—to name only a few of them—were among the
things to which he thought himself by right entitled. In due
course, after mature consideration, he came to the conclusion
that there was only one way of obtaining these things, and
with some reluctance he decided that he must have recourse
to that one way. It is true that it involved the death of his
mistress, but that was a mere accident for which he could
not be held responsible. He expressly tells us that he had no
innate preference for injuring others. His simple aspirations
were comprised in the desire to do good to himself.

But, after arriving at a decision, he still hesitated to proceed
to action. Perhaps it may occur to the reader that natural
compunction, together with the recollection of benefits received
at the hands of his victim, may have restrained him. This
does not appear. The fact seems rather to have been that
Machell was an arrant coward, who (much as he might wish
to do so) was unable to brace his nerve to attack even a
defenceless old woman. Thus for a long time he continued
to hesitate. His plans, meantime, were matured down to the

                                          53
smallest detail. Time slipped on, and the old lady’s health
steadily declined. The butler knew from her own lips that
she had mentioned him in her will. Might he not have let
things take their course, one asks? Apparently not. For
some reason or other—perhaps because he did not quite wish
after all that Death should rob him of his prey—considera-
tions such as are mentioned above seem to have weighed with
him as incentives rather than as deterrents. In the mean-
time he had discovered that courage, like inspiration, is among
the things which may be found in a bottle. The next para-
graph, which is curious, I quote word for word from the
confession.

‘At last, one night, it seemed to me—I know not why—that
the time to act had come. I waited till my fellow-servants had
retired to rest, and all was still. Then I took a step which to
others may seem unimportant, but which to me was full of
meaning. I shaved. In all my many previous mental re-
hearsals of the crime which I now meant to commit, this
had invariably been my first step ; and I regarded it as a
step which—once taken—left me no room for turning back.
Ever since I had arrived at man’s estate, my long white
whiskers had been my pride. As I looked myself in the glass,
I sometimes thought—I am sorry if there was anything wrong
in the thought—that they gave me an air which might have
become an Elder of the Church, or even a Minister. But,
though it cost me something to part with them, I could not
but see that such a pair of whiskers were not desirable
appurtenances in a man who, for reasons of his own, might
seek to avoid observation. I shaved them off; and, having
done so, I swallowed a dram and slipt the razor—upon which
I had put a fine edge—into my pocket. Then I began to
mount the stairs.’

The stairs creaked, and to the villain’s excited fancy every
creak was like a pistol-shot. He began to dread discovery,
and his supple brain spun lies to account for his presence on
the staircase in the event of a surprise.

                                          54
I willingly spare the reader the horrible details of the scene
in the bedchamber. They were too much even for the mur-
derer, and when he turned to ransack the cupboard he was
scarcely in possession of his faculties. The action of his senses
was uncertain, and his trembling bloody fingers bungled and
blundered, refusing to obey him. At last, however, he espied
his booty. He seized it; but at that very moment he heard
a sound which made his blood run suddenly chill. It was a
footstep deliberately advancing along the passage toward the
bedroom door. Frantic with terror, he delayed no longer, but
sprang to the window, threw up the sash, and flung himself
out on to the gravel below. There, half stunned by his fall, he
lay and listened until it became clear to him that the alarm had
been a false one, the footstep an hallucination of his disturbed
brain.

He would have risen to his feet; but now he found that retri-
bution had fallen upon his wickedness indeed. He was
powerless to stand upright ! The bedroom was on the first
floor, and in his fall from it he had broken one of his legs.
The discovery overwhelmed him with despair—‘as if night
were to come on suddenly in the middle of the afternoon.’
Flight was now out of the question, and in concealment lay
his only chance of avoiding discovery. With great pain he
managed to drag himself to the neighbouring field, and there,
keeping himself alive by feeding upon the beans, he had lain
hidden ever since the murder.

He makes a desperate attempt to excite compassion by a
moving account of his sufferings during this time. The pain
in his leg was never quiet for an hour together; the fear of
discovery never left him. More than once, whilst he lay hid
amongst the beanstalks, parties of visitors to the scene of the
murder had passed within a few yards of him, and he had
distinctly heard them eagerly discussing the chances of his
capture. His constant terror was lest a dog should scent out
his whereabouts. Then he dwells upon the agonies of priva-
tion which he endured. He durst not approach the stream

                                          55
whence he drank by daylight, and thus he would often have
given ‘more than a hundred pounds’—for he still clung to the
plunder for which he had paid so dearly—for a few drops of
water. On the night when the maid had seen his ghost, he
had crept out from his concealment in the hope of stealing
food from the hen-troughs or the pig-sties. He winds up
with an agonised appeal for mercy : ‘I have already suffered
the pain of more than twenty deaths : surely my crime is fully
expiated, and the law has nothing to gain in depriving me of
my miserable life.’

His arguments, however, were not held to be convincing,
    and to the general satisfaction he was duly hanged. But
        ‘Cobweb Hall’ has remained untenanted to this day.

                        GEORGE DOUGLAS.

THE RETURN OF THE REAPERS

BY A. G. SINCLAIR

NOVEMBER SUNSHINE

Page with ornament
The Database of Ornament

        THE warm year fled ere thy sense hath caught her:
            Only the wind in a misty plain,
        And the beautiful brief November sunshine
        Gleaming on levels of pale grey water
            And roadways wet with November rain.

        In the rank red groves despoiled and dreary,
            A wan woman peers thro’ the shadows ahead,
        Seeming to seek in the sunset beyond them,
        With tear-dimmed eyes grown wretched and weary,
            The wraith of a golden hope, long dead.

        Dead hope! Dost thou its sweet remember—
            Thou too, with a sigh that is spent in vain ;
        And thy heart like a Wanderer pale and lonely
        Watching the brief bright sun of November
            Sink, and the slow sweet Autumn wane?

                                     HUGO LAUBACH

THE NIGHT-COMERS

Page with ornament
The Database of Ornament

          NOTE

Charles Van Lerbergbe holds a peculiar place in the contemporary Belgian Renais-
sance. His actual literary achievement has, in bulk, been singularly meagre. A few
poems, one or two compositions in prose : and here, for the present, the chronicle ends.
On the other hand, there is probably no member of ‘ Young Belgium,’ whether under
the familiar flag of ‘La Jeune Belgique,’ or beneath that of the new protestant standard,
‘Le Coq Rouge,’ who would not at once name, or at least acknowledge, the author of
‘Les Flaireurs’ as one of the two or three most distinctive leaders of the ‘ movement.’
The three foremost living writers in Belgium are, indubitably : in Poetry, Emile Ver-
haeren; in Fiction, Georges Eekhond ; and, in the ‘Drame Intime,’ Maurice Maeter-
linck. Verhaeren may be approached as one of the most noteworthy among all living
poets who use the French tongue. Eekhoud is, probably, the most consistent and
‘natural’ realist in Europe. Strangely enough, his only near rival in France is a Belgian
also, Camille Lemonnier: but that powerful and sombre writer is overshadowed by Zola,
to whose school, save in the admirable Flemish work of his earlier years, he belongs.
Eekhoud has more in common with Guy de Maupassant than with any other French
novelist; but he has a style so distinctive, a Flemish sentiment so continually domineer-
ing, and an individuality so unique, that he cannot be called the Belgic Guy de Mau-
passant any more aptly than (as some have loosely called him) the Flemish Zola. He
is, in fact, more akin to the foremost Italian realist, Giovanni Verga.‘I Malivoglia’ is
the Calabrian equivalent of ‘Kees Doorik’ or ‘Kermesses.’ Maurice Maeterlinck is so
well known now, that it is needless to say anything here concerning his achievement
in imaginative psychological drama, and in other prose and verse. What is of interest
is, that his herald—and a pioneer whose influence has been one strongly marked and
widespread—was Charles Van Lerbergbe. In ‘The Nineteenth Century’ (Sept. 1893),
and elsewhere, I have indicated more fully the place and influence of M. Van Ler-
berghe, to whom, indeed, I was the first in this country to draw attention, both before
and at the time of Maurice Maeterlinck’s advent as ‘the new man.’ Here it mast
suffice to point out, that to Charles Van Lerbergbe is due the credit of having inanga-
rated what is, too loosely it may be added, called the Maeterlinckian Drama. M.
Maeterlinck himself admits the author of ‘Les Flaireurs’ as his predecessor, and it
was to him, and in recognition of ‘this new and strange, this apparently crude but
artistically wrought presentment of the brutality of the commonplace of death,’ that
his first book was dedicated.

                                                                                                   W.S

          THE NIGHT-COMERS

                                  (Les Flaireurs)


                  By CHARLES VAN LERBERGHE

Orchestra : Funeral March. Roll of muffled drums. A blast of a horn in the distance.
    Roll of drums. A short psalmodic motive for the organ. Repeated knocks, heavy
    and dull. Curtain.

The scene represents a room in a poverty-stricken cottage. To the right, against the
    wall, a great four-post bed with curtains of black serge. In the middle of the
    further wall, a door ; to the left, a window with lowered blind. Near the bed a
    small, narrow table, bearing a crucifix between two tapers of yellow wax. A night
    of storm. The rain lashes against the windows. In the distance is heard the
    whistling of the wind through the trees, and the baying of a dog. As the curtain
    rises the stage appears to be empty, and is lighted only by the flickering light of
    the two tapers. Knocks are again heard at the door. A young girl springs
    hurriedly out of the bed with gestures of fear. She is clad in a night-gown only,
    with her blonde hair unloosened.

                                        ACT I

                        THE NIGHT-COMERS

                                 (Les Flaireurs)

                                                                        To MAURICE MAETERLINCK

THE GIRL.  Who is there?

A VOICE OUTSIDE.  I.

THE GIRL.  Who are you?


                                          62

THE VOICE.  I.

THE GIRL.  That’s no name: who are you?

THE VOICE.  Ah! but . . . I am the man who . . . you know
  quite well.

THE GIRL.  I expect no one.

A VOICE IN THE BED.  Child, what is that noise?

THE GIRL.  Little Mother, it is the wind.—Is it for me you
  come?

THE VOICE.  Certainly not, little one, most certainly not.

THE MOTHER.  Ah, indeed I hear something!

THE GIRL.  If you do not give your name I will not open.

THE VOICE.  But . . . but … it should not be spoken. I
  am … I am the man with the water.

THE GIRL.  The man with the water?

THE VOICE.  Yes, certainly. Listen!

                                                                 [Sound of water falling: drop by drop.

THE MOTHER.  Child, I hear water, I hear something
  trickling.

THE GIRL.  The man with the water?

THE VOICE.  Of course; and with the sponge.

THE GIRL.  With the sponge? . . . I have nothing to do
  with all that.

THE VOICE.  Excuse me, little one, excuse me … it is to
  wash with

THE MOTHER.  Who is it, my child ?

THE GIRL.  Little Mother . . . it is . . . a poor … a poor
  man, who asks for alms.

THE MOTHER.  Ah! give him something. The poor man!
  Let him come in and rest a little time—such a night as it
  is! Ah, my God!

                                                                                     [A loud knocking.

THE GIRL.  No! . . . Little mother, I am afraid, we do not
  know who may come in.

THE MOTHER.  That is wrong, what thou sayest is wrong.
  You must open to him, and give him some bread.

                                                                                     [A loud knocking.


                                          63

THE GIRL.   No !—I am afraid of those who come during the
  Night. Little mother, suppose he were a robber …!

THE MOTHER.  My child, you must open, do you hear, you
  must open the door. Who is it? [Smiling.] Ah, mother
  knows well who it is, my child. She knows that sound.

                                                                                     [A loud knocking.

THE GIRL [alarmed].   You know who it is?

THE MOTHER.  Eh, what? Is it not the Seigneur, our
  good master? He hunts in the night. He is here now, hungry
  and thirsty, and wearied. Open to him, my daughter, open
  quickly. I hear the sound of his black horses!

                                                                 [Trampling of horses in the distance.

THE GIRL.  What is that noise? Are you not alone?

THE VOICE.   Certainly I am alone! There ‘s no noise . . .
  ah, yes . . . perhaps, down there … it is the sound of those
  who are coming hither . . . but now, open, open!

                                                                                     [Loud knocking.

THE GIRL.  Go away.

THE VOICE.   But why will you not open?

THE GIRL.  I will never open the door.

THE VOICE.   Very good. I will wait

THE MOTHER.  My child, each one says to-morrow, to-

  morrow; yes, but the other, the other who is there ? Will he

  wait? What one does not know another knows; what one

  does not see another sees, and it is a great sin and a folly. . . .

  My daughter, has he gone, now that I hear him no longer?

THE GIRL  [looking at the door]. Yes, mother . . . yes . . .
  yes … he has gone.

THE MOTHER.  Ah! may Jesus and the Virgin take him
  into their good keeping. How the storm rages without. . . .
  Come, my child, let us pray for him, for that poor man in the
  dark night; let us say an ‘Our Father’ and the three collects.
  Turn the cross towards me a little, yes . . . yes.

            [The murmuring of the two women at their prayers is heard, and the click
                  of a rosary in the hands of the old woman.   The rain lashes against the
                  window.   Ten o’clock strikes slowly.   The baying of a dog is heard.
                  The girl blows out the candles.   Darkness.


                                          64

                                        ACT II

The blast of a horn in the distance.   The roll of drums.   Organ notes.   Repeated
             knocks.   The tapers are relit, and the young girl is seen, standing against the bed,
             motionless, in an attitude of watching, with her face turned towards the door.   Some
             one knocks.

THE GIRL [hurrying towards the door].   Ah! be silent, be
silent! do!   The poor old mother sleeps now.

                                                                                     [A loud knocking.

A VOICE OUTSIDE.   It is all one to me.

THE GIRL.   You said you would wait.

THE VOICE [bursting into a laugh].   I! I have just arrived.

THE GIRL.   What! you are not the man of a little ago!

THE VOICE.   Certainly not

THE MOTHER.   My daughter— I hear a noise.

THE GIRL [looking towards the door].   That is not true.

THE VOICE.   Ah! Indeed!

THE MOTHER.   My child, I hear something moving.

THE GIRL [still facing the door].   Who are you, then?

THE VOICE.   But . . .

THE MOTHER.   Yes, there is something there, yes.

THE GIRL.   I expect no one.

THE MOTHER [listening].   Yes, yes, there is something that
  frets ; like that . . . there, under the door ; surely, there is
  something that trails. What is it, my child?

THE GIRL [without looking round].   It is a night bird, little
  mother. . . . Who are you, then?

THE VOICE.   Why … the man with the linen.

THE GIRL.   The man with the linen?

THE VOICE.   Yes.

THE MOTHER.   No, no, my child, no, I hear some one speak.

Who is there ? that is not your voice. No, no, there is some
  one there ! Who is it, my child?

THE GIRL.   Little mother, I tell you, it is nothing.


                                          65

THE MOTHER.   Yes, yes, there is some one there. [Some
  one knocks.]   Do you hear!   Some one knocks.   Who is it?
  Ask who it is.

THE GIRL.   Little mother, it is a man who has strayed and
  asks his way.

THE MOTHER.   Ah! pitiful! On such a night, ah! my God!
  Open the door quickly, my little one, to this poor man, so
  that he may rest and eat a little.   Ah, my God!   Listen.
  [Some one knocks.] Ah! you must open to him, my daughter,
  in common charity. Go.

THE GIRL.   Little mother, I am afraid. This is the second
time; and how can one know who it is that may come in.

THE MOTHER.   Have no fear, my daughter; it is right, and
  we must do what is right

                                                                                     [Some one knocks.

THE GIRL [towards the door].   No!

THE MOTHER.   Do you not hear the sound of horses?

THE GIRL.   What noise is that?

THE VOICE.   There’s no noise … ah, down there? I don’t
  really know. It is the sound of those who are coming hither.

THE MOTHER.   But, my child, listen. There is something
  that rustles below there.

THE GIRL [quickly].   It is the rain against the door, little
  mother. [A loud knocking.] No!

THE MOTHER.   No, no! little mother is not deaf: she could
  hear grass grow. It is the sound of something that trails;
  ah! yes, I know it well! It is the beautiful Lady of the
  Castle, who is there, the beautiful Lady on horseback; she
  has come ! Did she not promise; yes, yes, without a doubt,
  my daughter, it is she. I hear her distinctly, it is she, open
  the door quickly.

                                                                                     [Some one knocks.

THE GIRL [towards the door].   No! [She approaches her
  mother, whose hand she takes.] Ah! little mother, I am
  frightened of those who come in the night

THE MOTHER [after a silence, and looking into her eyes].

  Why, my child ? Jesus is with us.


                                          66

THE GIRL.   Ah! little mother, what ails you that you tremble
thus?

THE MOTHER.   It is joy, my daughter, for she is there.

                                                                                     [Some one knocks.

THE GIRL.   I will not open.

THE VOICE.   Ah! Name of Names!

THE MOTHER.   She who comes is welcome.

THE GIRL.   Do not tremble so, little mother.

THE MOTHER [panting].   But this is wrong, oh! oh! oh!
  this is wrong . . . this is not good cheer, oh! oh! I tell you
  that you must . . . open! oh! you must op … en! Open!

                                                                                     [Some one knocks.

THE VOICE.   So, you will not open?

THE GIRL.   No! go away.— Oh! what ails you, little mother,
  that your hands are cold, so cold ?

THE VOICE.   Very good. I will wait.

THE GIRL.   I will never open the door.

THE VOICE.   We will see about that by and by.

THE GIRL.   Oh! little mother, you . . .

THE MOTHER [panting and coughing].   My child, I have
  had a beautiful dream, oh! raise my pillow a little . . . yes, a
  beautiful dream! I was in Paradise [coughing] and the
  garden [cough] all the angels [making the movement of
  dancing with her two hands] . . . danced ! [shivering] I with
  the Holy Virgin [always making gestures which precede her
  words] I danced … in the midst; [cough] a fete, a beautiful
  fete, oh! oh! oh!

                                                               [She makes a great effort for herself.

THE GIRL [checking her and wiping the perspiration off her
  face]. Mother! oh, little mother!

THE MOTHER.   In the midst of the flowers of Paradise
  [cough]— [after a silence, and wrought by a new fantasy].—
  Has she gone, as I no longer hear her?

THE GIRL [looking towards the door].   Yes, mother, yes . . .
  yes. … He has gone.

THE MOTHER.   May God guard her in His holy keeping!


                                          67

THE GIRL.   Yes, little mother, I will pray for him.

THE MOTHER [sinking back slowly].   Yes . . . must pray
  for her . . . must pray for her [a long indrawn breath] the
  holy Virgin Mary in her house [cough]. Let us say the
  ‘Pater’ and the three collects. Draw the crucifix a little
  nearer, I no longer see it easily, yes, like that, yes.

                [The murmuring of their prayers is heard again, and again the low click of
                      the rosary and the sound of coughing. The rain lashes against the
                      panes of glass. Eleven o’clock strikes slowly. Darkness. The
                      baying of a dog is heard. The daughter blows out the tapers.

                                        ACT III

                 Roll of drums. Blast of a horn in the distance. Organ Motive.
                             Knocks redoubled on the door. Total darkness.

THE GIRL.   Ah! my God! ah! my God! be silent there,
  wretch that you are, you will kill my mother!

                                                                                     [Some one knocks.

A VOICE [outside].   I’m here¹

THE GIRL.   But I implore you to be silent Oh, my God, I
  implore it of you !

THE VOICE.   Eh, what? Look you, I’ve come!

                                                                                     [Loud knocking.

THE GIRL.   But what do you want?

THE VOICE.   To enter, of course.

                                                                                     [Loud knocking.

THE GIRL.   But you said you would wait till daylight!

THE VOICE [with dull laughter].   Oh, indeed! as it happens,
  I have only just arrived! Is this not true, you others?

THE MOTHER.   Light the candle, my child.

                                                                                     [A light.

THE GIRL [still looking towards the door].   It is not true.

1 Lit.: ‘Mev’la!’


                                          68

THE VOICE.   Ah! Sacre, do they make a mock of me here?

THE MOTHER.   My child, light the other candle also, for
  She is there.

                                                                                                 [Two lights.

THE VOICE.   You are not going to leave me standing here?

THE GIRL.   I have no need of you.

THE VOICE.   Well, well, each in his turn. It’s not you I’m
  here for; come now!

THE MOTHER [looking round her room sadly].   My house
  is not worthy to receive her.

THE VOICE.   Look you, will you open, or shall I force the
  door?

THE MOTHER.   Come, my child . . . pull back the curtain
  . . . and let the sunshine in . . . that there may be a little
  beauty here [waving her arm with a radiant gesture].
  Everything at its best, for She is about to enter!

THE GIRL.   Yes, mother.

               [She draws up the blind. Through the illumined window the shadow
                    of a hearse is thrown on the wall.

THE MOTHER.   What are those shadows?

THE GIRL.   Ah! . . .

                                                                          [She lowers the blinds rapidly.

THE MOTHER.   My child, take the holy water.

THE GIRL [taking the holy water basin and the switch
  towards the door]. No! Who are you?

THE VOICE.   Oh, in the name of all that’s holy! the man
  with . . . the thing . . .

THE GIRL [sprinkling the holy water to right and left and
  before the door, while at every step a heavy dull blow
  resounds. The mother crosses herself. After a silence]:—
  What thing?

THE VOICE.   I am the man with the coffin, there now!

THE GIRL [giving a cry].    Ah, the man with . . .


                                          69

THE VOICE.   Yes, yes, do you mean to say I was not
  expected ?

THE MOTHER [in a suffocated voice].   Open the door to her,
  my girl. She can enter.

THE GIRL.   Little mother, it is not a lady . . . it is . . .
  some one . . . who is pursued and asks for shelter.

THE MOTHER [with a rattle in her throat].   Open quickly
  to her, my daughter. Oh! oh! open . . . quickly to her, oh!
  oh! oh! she is very welcome. Water! water! O give me

some water!

THE VOICE.   By all that’s holy, how heavy it is.

                                                                                     [Some one knocks.

THE MOTHER.   Ah, I suffocate, my daughter. . . . Where is
  the crucifix ? . . . I cannot see it any longer. . . . Yes, yes, you
  must open the door to her.

THE VOICE.   It will be sodden ere long.

                                                                                     [Some one knocks.

THE MOTHER.   Go, lay the table, put on the fine cloth. It
  is here, see here! [In a hoarse voice]: Ho . . . go, go, and
  gather some flowers ; yes, she is there … do open to her.

                                                                                     [Violent blows without.

THE VOICE.   Must I break in the door?

THE MOTHER. Yes, there, I see her, I recognise her, oh,
  beautiful Lady!

                                                                                     [Renewed blows.

THE VOICE.   Now then, you others?

                                                                                     [Voices outside.

THE MOTHER [with rattling voice].   The beautiful Lady . . .
  for my eyes, do you see the doors now? . . . There are none!
  Open . . . [Blows: the door begins to crack.] Yes, she has
something there, something there on her shoulder.

                                                                       [She makes the sign of the cross.

THE GIRL.   Oh, little mother!

THE VOICE.   Since I must, then here goes!

                                                                                     [Blows and cracking.


                                          70

THE GIRL.   Go away! go away whoever you be! Go away, I
  tell you, I will not open to you, I tell you! Never, never,
  never! Do you come to kill my mother, you there? [Crash-
  ing sounds.] Do you bring death to us? Ah, my God!
What have I ever done to you? ah, my God! ah, my God!

            [Blows and crashing sounds. She falls on her knees before the door,
                  sobbing bitterly.

THE MOTHER [making violent efforts to rise].   Enter, beauti-
ful Lady, the day is here, and I am ready.

THE GIRL [on her knees with uplifted hands].   Oh! oh! I am
  afraid! Cease, I implore you! We are poor women. We have
  nothing. My mother is ill. You do not come to take us
  away, do you ? You are not wicked men. I will open to you,
  but tell me, that you are not heartless men? Is it not so?
  You do not wish my poor mother to die! . . . [The blows and
  the cracking and crashing sounds are redoubled. Violent
  dispute outside. A frightful rattle begins in the old woman’s
  throat The young girl throws herself on her knees by the
  bedside of her mother.] Ah, little mother, be still: what
  are you doing ? Do not groan so, you will kill me. I am at
  your knees, near to you, little mother; look, look at me, it
  is I, your little angel,— why do you not answer me any more?

THE MOTHER.   Who art thou, little angel?

THE VOICE.   The hour is come! The hour is come!

                                                            [Blows and violent cracking and crashing.

THE GIRL [without rising from the foot the bed].   No, you
shall not come, neither you nor the others.

THE VOICE.   We shall see.

              [Redoubled blows. A piece of wood breaks on the inner side of the door,
                    and falls into the room. Voices in dispute audible outside during the
                    following dialogue.

THE GIRL.   Oh! little mother, how you tremble, how icy your
  hands are; be not afraid; see, it is thy dear little angel who
  watches over you; be not afraid, they can do you no harm.
  Dost thou not know me any longer? Oh! do not look at me


                                          71

with those fixed eyes, little mother. I am afraid even of
  thee now.

                                                                          [The neighing of horses is heard.

THE MOTHER [smiling, and holding her daughter to her
  breast, points to the door with her right hand]. It is the
  coach! [The noise of a heavy vehicle drawing nigh. Lights
  pass before the chink of the door. Disputing voices. Frag-
  ments of sentences, mixed with oaths, are heard.] What is
  the matter? What is it? Will not open! The door shut!
  Oh! la, la. Where is it? It must be forced. Everything
  is soaking wet. That corpse ! That corpse!

                                [The attack on the door is recommenced with redoubled blows.

THE MOTHER [listening with gaping mouth].   Holy Virgin
  Mary!

THE GIRL.   Little mother, it is I who kiss you; look at me
  and bless me ! Little mother, thou art in my arms; oh, look
  at me, do look at me !

               [Violent tumult outside. The battered door yields. The girl throws her-
                      self against the door, and pushes it back with her hands. Horrible
                      sounds of struggling. Midnight tolls slowly.

ALL THE VOICES OUTSIDE [with satisfaction].   Ah!

              [On the last stroke of midnight the old woman gives a loud hoarse cry, and
                       the young girl springs from the threshold, and throws herself on
                       her knees, with open arms towards the bed. The door, yielding
                       to the outer pressure, falls after her with a great noise. A rush of cold
                       air extinguishes the two tapers. DARKNESS.

                                                                                                          WILLIAM SHARP.

THE YELLOW ROSE

BY PITTENDRIGH MACGILLIVRAY

THE SONG OF LIFE’S FINE FLOWER

Page with ornament
The Database of Ornament

                                                 AMALFI, March 1887.


                                                      I

    WHEREFORE OF JOY REMEMBERED

                    Wherefore of joy remembered should I sing—
                    Do any bells for bygone bridals ring ?
                        For nesting joy of years and years agone ?
                    Do the birds chant, upon the wheat a-swing ?

                    Nay, sharp as joy-thrill breaks the sudden song,
                    Cleaving the murmur of the cornland’s throng.
                        For this glad mom, for these young ones that flit
                    On balanced wing the summer flowers among.

                    I sing because my love desires a lay—
                    New as new bliss, and old as Love’s old May:
                        I sing a song of love fresh-garnered
                    From Love’s last volume, clasped in his old way.


                                                      76

                                                      II

    IN MORNING SHINE

                    In morning shine I wrote Love’s good and ill—
                    Echoes, they say, from some Sicilian hill
                        Of linked arms, and seas that separate,
                    And eyes like wells where Love might drink his fill.

                    Yet who dare say what songs are new or old ?
                    Great Omar’s scroll at either end was rolled,
                        And in the midst he read one single line—
                    A shadowy now traced on the gleaming gold !

                    Unroll which way you will, from that great now,
                    And read the script, I care not when nor how,
                        There will you see, blazoned in blood of men,
                    Love, hate; joy, sorrow; faith, and broken vow!


                                                      III

    NO NEW SONG

                    No new song then I sing, no note of new,
                    Save new joy’s marvel ringing through and through—
                        Only of Love and Her and Italy—
                    Alas I unworthy I, God keep me true.

                    Hither from England, lying bleak and grey.
                    We came. Ah, wondrous WE! To this fair bay
                        Of white Amalfi, whose mysterious hue
                    Gleams blue and bluer fifty miles away.

                    Sweet, sweet above the dash of waves, to catch
                    The shine of eyes, to mark the light winds snatch
                        A lock precise to gentler negligence.
                    Or the kissed cheek’s responsive red to watch.


                                                      77

                                                      IV

    THESE MAKE MORE FAIR

                    These make more fair the girdling: Apennine,
                    Brighter the changing sapphire of the brine,
                        Cut in ten myriad facets multiform—
                    As various as this joy of mine and thine.

                    Behold the Apennine!   Ethereal
                    As the white throne set in God’s judgment hall,
                        Between the inmost sea and outmost Heaven
                    They wait His pleasure and the close of all.

                    Draw in the breaths from many an orange tree,
                    And drink the bursting passion of the sea—
                        Strange welling perfume from the morning flowers,
                    This Southland’s half-awakened mystery.


                                                      V

    LO ! CLIFF ON CLIFF

                    Lo! cliff on cliff in surge tumultuous,
                    In passionate protest overfrowning thus
                        The waves’ dull clamour and white Judas kiss.
                    Whose silver sparkles scatter tremulous.

                    Which love we best? Still day of upturned Heaven,
                    The blue-globed sea and sky a marvel given.
                        Turned by its Maker’s hand, perfect as God,
                    Wherein our souls dream, waking, sorrow-shriven?

                    Or this fresh, dewy, air-stirred earth,
                    A wide, glad place, wherein is room for mirth.
                        Where earth and sea and sky talk each to each,
                    New merged in some diviner bath of birth.


                                                      78

                                                      VI

    TO EACH GREEN TERRACE

                    To each green terrace clings the dark stone pine,
                    The cliff’s grim ruin breaks the black sea line’:
                        And oranges of orbed Hesperian gold,
                    Like chaliced cups, hang rich with scented wine.

                    Grey tower, bright dome, white winding loops of road
                    Flashing and twining like the serpent rod,
                        The prophet cast to earth by Nile’s old flood—
                    Shall tell us ‘Lo! sweet Italy you trod !’

                    White bending sprays of spineless strange hawthorn,
                    Pure favours by a bride’s tire-maidens worn,
                        Weep blinding sheets of tears, or distant shine
                    In mourning argent o’er a land forlorn.


                                                      VII

    HOW MEN HAVE LOVED THEE

                    How men have loved thee, Italy divine.
                    How the Greek pledged thee in his Chian wine.
                        And set his temples’ magic colonnades,
                    At Paestum and Girgenti, o’er the brine.

                    From the far burning East thy lovers came
                    To weary thee with war’s fierce amorous game.
                        Till through the death song of imperial Rome
                    Pealed the wild clamour of Muhammed’s name.

                    Now Mahmoud’s moon is old. But fiercely then
                    The crescent swayed o’er hosts of swaying men.
                        Ah ! never more shall sabre flash attest
                    The surging glory of the Saracen.


                                                      79

                                                    VIII

    THAT VAS ITALIA’S GLORIOUS AFTERNOON

                    That was Italia’s glorious afternoon:
                    It is her twilight now. Pray ye that soon
                        Over the Adriatic may arise
                    The glowing crescent of a worthier moon.

                    Even now it shines upon the solemn seas,
                    Sifts on us as we pace the terraces
                        Of bursting vine—and in this high-piled town
                    Transmutes to faery pearl her palaces.

                    O for one flash of the old dead renown,
                    To make this Italy the whole world’s crown.
                        For Rome is gone. Her name is all of her—
                    And all her gods’ high temples broken down.

                                                                            S. R. CROCKETT.

THE PASSER-BY

BY ROBERT BURNS

LE DILETTANTISME

Page with ornament
The Database of Ornament

ARGUMENT.—Like a star-gazer who would tell us that astronomy is
vanity, yet offers in exchange his own descriptions and fancies of the hour,
so this contemporary literature of dilettantism thinks of life as a mere
phantasmagoria, pleasant to observe but vain to understand. Moreover,
amid true and false, good and ill, why limit our interest by any preference?
Renan was founder of the school, Jules Lemaître and Anatole France are
its leaders, Maurice Barrès its exaggerator. Their qualities and defects
are manifest; charm of style and fancy, wide and varied interests, subtle
perceptions, refined enjoyment: but corresponding lack of interpretation
and of judgment, paralysis of will, incapacity even of conceiving action.
Such literature is that of overgrown children ; the great masters have
always reached manhood, have expressed its qualities, and hence inspire
them.

FIGUREZ-VOUS un astronome qui viendrait vous
dire: ‘C’est un splendide spectacle que celui du
ciel étoilé, mais bien fous sont les hommes qui
prétendent en donner d’exactes descriptions et en
faire connaître les vraies lois! Les Copernic et
les Newton se montraient de grands prétentieux
lorsqu’ils cherchaient à se rendre compte du mouvement des
astres: là-dessus tous les systèmes se valent, et il y a long-
temps que, dans ma sagesse, je me suis fait une gloire de n’y
rien comprendre. Mais, si cela peut vous être agréable, je

                                          84

vous exposerai volontiers, à propos de ces difficiles matières,
les jolies choses, les combinaisons surprenantes et les théories
de toute espèce que je m’amuse à inventer’
Si vous n’avez jamais rencontré de tels astronomes, je puis
vous présenter un certain nombre de moralistes qui procèdent
exactement de la même façon dans les problèmes essentiels de
la destinée humaine. On les appelle les ‘dilettantes’ parce
qu’en toutes choses, et même dans les plus importantes idées,
ils cherchent uniquement le plaisir, la jouissance, le divertisse-
ment. Ce ne sont point, malgré les apparences, des sceptiques
comme les autres: on peut être sceptique et regretter de ne
pas connaître le vrai ; les dilettantes se complaisent dans
leur ignorance. Ils seraient bien fâchés d’arriver à com-
prendre quelque chose dans l’ordre du monde et dans les
lois morales de la vie humaine : à leurs yeux comprendre
est le fait des esprits étroits; aux esprits larges il suffit de
connaître.

Savoir ce qu’on a pensé avant nous sur la morale, la religion,
l’art, la société ; ajouter, si on le peut, quelques nouvelles idées
à celles qui ont déjà cours sur ces matières inextricables ;
regarder avec indifférence les solutions contradictoires qu’on
a essayé de donner aux divers problèmes ; dominer de son
haut tous les préjugés, tous les devoirs, toutes les lois et toutes
les doctrines ; n’adopter de chaque système que ce qu’on y
trouve de plus conforme à ses goûts présents, mais sans
rompre pour si peu avec les systèmes opposés qu’un jour peut-
être on sera bien heureux de faire siens : voilà, évidemment,
la marque d’une intelligence supérieure et le seul procédé qui
convienne à de vrais dilettantes. Entre le vrai et le faux,
entre le bien et le mal, pourquoi des préférences? pourquoi un
choix exclusif qui nous priverait de la moitié au moins des
façons de penser et de sentir? ‘Tout est vrai, même les
songes,’ dit Jules Lemaître; et Renan, fondateur du dilet-
tantisme, recommande à ses disciples de bien faire voir dans
chacun de leurs livres ‘les deux faces opposés dont se com-
pose toute vérité.’ Dans le ‘Jardin d’Epicure,’ ce livre très

                                          85

digne de son titre et qui constitue le plus parfait manuel du
dilettantisme, Anatole France a donné plus clairement encore
la vraie formule du nouveau système, lorsqu’il a dit que ‘c’est
faire un abus vraiment inique de l’intelligence que de l’em-
ployer à chercher la vérité.’ Réfléchissez bien à l’admirable
règle de conduite que vous donne une pareille sentence ; et, si
cela ne vous suffit pas encore, considérez de plus, avec le
même auteur, que, si la morale avait écouté la raison, ‘elle
eût été conduite par divers chemins aux conclusions les plus
monstrueuses.’

Il n’est rien d’exagéré dans ce tableau: chaque trait en est
emprunté aux dilettantes eux-mêmes ; et, pour les faire con-
damner par toutes les âmes droites, il suffit de reproduire
ce qu’ils ont dit maintes fois dans l’intention de se faire
admirer. Peut-être on aura quelque peine à le croire, mais
réellement nous avons en France un certain nombre d’écrivains
qui pensent de la sorte, si tant est qu’on puisse voir là de la
pensée.

Et ce ne sont point les premiers venus, car leur chef a eu
nom Renan, et ils s’appellent aujourd’hui Anatole France,
Jules Lemaître, Maurice Barrès. Sans doute, c’est peu de
chose encore que M. Barrès, et, si ses exagérations de toute
espèce ont réussi à le faire connaître des gens les mieux informés,
il demeure bien en deça de la gloire; mais Lemaître et Anatole
France possèdent comme stylistes un talent de premier ordre,
et leur science est très suffisante pour qu’ils parlent de tout,
de morale, de religion, d’histoire, de littérature, sinon avec
profondeur, du moins avec une parfaite aisance. Le succès,
non plus, n’est pas ce qui leur manque. Je ne dis pas qu’on
les estime, mais on s’intéresse à leurs fantaisies. Les rois
aussi s’intéressaient naguère aux drôleries de leurs bouffons.
Sans les prendre au sérieux, on voit plus d’un esprit d’élite
s’amuser de leurs jolis tours et oublier trop aisément le mal
qui en résulte pour l’esprit public. Quant à l’homme sans
valeur, il reste devant eux béat d’admiration; lorsqu’il leur
entend dire qu’ils ne comprennent rien de rien à l’ensemble

                                          86

du monde ni à la destinée humaine, il ne se tient pas de joie :
‘C’est justement comme moi’ s’écrie-t-il transporté ; ‘voilà de
l’intelligence!’

La supériorité que les dilettantes s’attribuent, et que semble
aussi proclamer une partie du public, est-elle bien réelle?
Sont-ils, comme ils le croient, des esprits vraiment complets,
ouverts, délicats, bienfaisants, admirables autant qu’admirés ?
Même en lui concédant tous les avantages que célèbrent ses
partisans, même en voyant en lui, comme on nous y invite, la
suprême perfection de l’intelligence et l’épanouissement de nos
plus délicates facultés de jouir, le dilettantisme, de l’aveu des
siens, aurait encore un vice fondamental et qui suffirait à
prévenir contre ses séductions toutes les âmes vaillantes:
il ne fait point de part à la volonté, il détourne de l’action, il
sourit du devoir, il énerve toute puissance morale. Or c’est
par là qu’on vaut, par le libre exercice de son activité, par la
mise en œuvre de ses énergies. Connaître et jouir ne dépen-
dent pas toujours de nous; ce qui dépend de nous, ce qui, au
jugement de Dieu comme devant notre conscience et devant
nos semblables, constitue notre mérite ou notre indignité, c’est
l’usage de notre liberté, c’est notre manière de vouloir et d’agir.
Une habitude d’esprit comme le dilettantisme, qui ne développe
l’intelligence qu’en déprimant la volonté, enlève donc beaucoup
plus qu’elle n’ajoute de valeur réelle à ceux en qui elle domine.
Exagérer en soi certaines facultés en atrophiant les autres,
c’est toujours d’échoir et s’éloigner de cette perfection qui est
essentiellement harmonie et ordre ; mais, si cette exagération
se produit en faveur des facultés irresponsables, et aux dépens
des facultés libres, quels troubles n’amène-t-elle pas, et quel
abaissement de la personne humaine !

Disons mieux : Céder au dilettantisme sous prétexte de déve-
lopper plus amplement son intelligence, c’est tout perdre d’un
côté sans rien gagner de l’autre.

De ce dangereux exercice, l’intelligence ne peut, en effet,
tirer aucun avantage sérieux. Elle produit, n’est-ce pas?
deux sortes d’opérations : les unes, plutôt passives et souvent

                                          87

inconscientes, consistent surtout à emmagasiner dans la
mémoire les faits et les paroles, à refléter dans l’imagination
la vie extérieure du monde ; les autres, actives et vraiment
propres à l’homme, consistent à se prononcer sur les rapports
et sur la valeur des images ou des idées qui se présentent à
notre esprit. Par le premier mode, nous connaissons ; par le
second mode, nous comprenons et nous jugeons. Or, de con-
naître, c’est toute l’ambition et tout l’effort du dilettantisme ;
comprendre et juger ne sont pour lui que des opérations
chimériques et pédantes, bonnes tout au plus pour les esprits
vulgaires.

On voit maintenant ce que signifie pour les dilettantes cette
intelligence dont volontiers ils s’attribueraient le monopole.
Qu’elle soit compatible avec de brillantes connaissances, de
la souplesse, de la bonne grâce, tant que l’on voudra ; cela
dépend du talent des auteurs, et, du reste, ces qualités n’ap-
partiennent pas en propre au dilettantisme. Mais que dans
une telle intelligence il y ait place pour le jugement et pour la
raison, c’est-â-dire en somme pour les facultés les plus hautes,
nul n’osera le prétendre, et les dilettantes eux-mêmes ne vou-
draient pas qu’il en fût ainsi. Ils sont bien trop fiers de ne
rien comprendre ; ils s’amusent bien trop à jongler avec les
systèmes, et à se balancer légèrement d’une contradiction à
l’autre!

Après tout, c’est leur droit, de se livrer à ces jeux de vieux
enfants. Mais c’est notre droit aussi, de croire qu’il y a mieux
à faire dans ce monde, et de préférer à ceux qui se moquent
de nous les écrivains qui, s’adressant à notre raison, lui ex-
pliquent les vérités essentielles qu’elle peut et qu’elle doit
comprendre. N’ayant besoin de docteurs ni pour ignorer ni
pour trouver de beaux prétextes à notre lâcheté, nous con-
tinuerons, comme cet homme de bon sens qui s’appelait La
Bruyère, à ne traiter de ‘maîtres ouvriers’ que les auteurs
dont les livres ‘nous élèvent l’esprit et nous inspirent des
sentiments nobles et généreux.’ Quant à ceux qui font pro-
fession de douter de tout ce qu’ils disent, ne sachant que

                                          88

railler la vérité et la vertu, ils auraient au moins la ressource
de se taire, et je ne vois pas ce que nous y perdrions. Cela
  vaudrait mieux que de s’appliquer, comme ils le font, à ruiner
    le peu de conscience qu’ont gardée les riches et le peu
               d’espérance qui console les pauvres.

                        ABBÉ FÉLIX KLEIN.

AMEL AND PENHOR¹

Page with ornament
The Database of Ornament

(A Breton Legend)

IT is the common rumour, along this Breton coast, that
when a north-east wind blows strongly across the bay
of Saint-Malo, a sailor’s eye may at times discern
strange things between Mont Saint-Michel and the Isles
of Chausey. Whole villages there have been covered by
the waves, villages with their cottages and church-spire.
These villages are Bougneuf, Tommen, Saint-Etienne-en-
Paluel, Saint-Louis, Mauny, Epiniac, la Feillette, and many
others. The gaunt ruins of these submerged hamlets lie in
the sand, with fragments of wrecks, and great trunks of the
forest of Scissy.

A pitiless strife has raged for centuries between the ocean
and the poor land of Brittany. The conquering ocean sleeps
peacefully now on the field of battle.

It is not tradition only which has preserved the memory of
those deadly combats. Family and monastic records, town
archives, dusty papers of notaries, all contain a number of
authentic titles to those lost estates, those submerged corn-
fields. The homeless man, who to-day wanders over the Breton
roads with stick and wallet, may be heir to princely domains
beneath these silent waters. These lost castles may be his,
these meadows and forests, these mills which hummed on the
¹ After the Breton legend as narrated by Paul Feval.

                                          94

river banks; his, too, the peaceful huts whose rising smoke
was wont to cheer from afar the weary traveller. Ships, with
sails unfurled, now pass a hundred feet above the once
hospitable dwellings. The sea, as that other dread leveller.
Death, has spread itself over manor and cottage, over oak and
reed.

This ever-present, this sad and prophetic Menace of the Past
is apt to daunt even the strongest and most indefatigable man
with the futility of his labour. Great jest of the jests of cen-
turies, that discloses the shroud as the first and last expression
of a dreamed-of equality!

All along the coast from Granville to Cape Frehel, near Saint-
Malo, this conquering sea has covered the once fertile fields
with barren sand. Here and there, a rock raises its black
head above the waves. This may preserve its ancient name of
fief, of castle, or of village; for the earth has bones, and even a
mountain leaves behind it a skeleton of stone. The fishers of
Dinard cast their nets over the fair meadows of Cesambre:
and the Grand-Be, that sombre spot where Chateaubriand
wished to have his tomb, was once the centre of a glorious
garden.

How long the sea took to conquer this land none can tell.
The strife began before the Christian era. It is known that
druidical woods stretched for eight or ten miles beyond the
present coast line. Later, the forest of Scissy planted its van-
guard oaks on the rocks of Chausey.

At that time Couesnon was a big river which Ptolemy and
Ammianus Marcellinus confounded with the Seine. A proud
river it was, sovereign of the Selune, and lord of the See, which
brought to it the tribute of their waters. It flowed oceanward
beyond the hills of Chausey, which now form an archipelago ;
and, at that remote date, its course was by the right of Mont
Saint-Michel, along the coast of La Manche. It was long after
this that the Couesnon doubled upon itself. Thereafter it
flowed to the left of the Mount, thus taking it from Brittany
to give it to Normandy.


                                          95

        Li Couesnon a fait folie;
        Si est le Mont en Normandie. . . .

The Breton legend of the Great Flood which brought about
that severance, the Deluge as it is called in Armoricq, runs
thus:—

Penhor, the daughter of Bud, was the wife of Amel, who tended
the flocks of Annan. This great seigneur was lord and count
of Cheze, beyond Mont Trombelene. His castle stood in the
midst of seven villages, which paid tribute when he sent out
his men to war. One of these villages was called Saint-Vinol:
and it was here Amel and Penhor dwelt.

Penhor was eighteen years old, Amel was almost twenty-five.
Their parents were dead, and they loved one another with the
great love of orphans. Amel’s wife was beautiful as a sun-
beam in spring. Her hair fell as a mantle around her. Her
eyes pierced to the depths of the heart. He himself was tall
and strong, and his limbs were supple.

In these days there were striped wolves which were bigger
than foals six months old. They killed horses, and drank the
blood of sleeping cattle; and they disdained to flee at the
approach of man. It was said of them that an arrow could not
pierce their skin: that, if struck by a spear, it snapped in the
hand. Nevertheless, Amel set himself to cope with this terror.
Thus it was that, one winter night, when the striped wolf of
Cheze left the forest in search of food, Penhor’s husband
crouched on the plain to intercept him.

And the end was this: Amel seized the striped wolf in his
strong arms, and strangled it. And that is a true thing of
Amel that was so strong and supple, and was, indeed, a youth
both of might and valour.

But before he had set out to await the wolf, Amel had hung
in the village church of Saint-Vinol, under the niche from which
the good Virgin smiled, a distaff of fine linen, prepared by the
fair hands of Penhor.


                                          96

The Virgin of Saint-Vinol was rich. Year after year offerings
were placed at her feet; for the country people thought to
expiate their sins with gifts of linen, or of sheaves of com, or
of fair ripe fruits. God knows if these simple people had sins
for which to atone!

Amel and Penhor lived in joy, for they were young and they
loved. One shadow, however, dusked their sunshine at times.
That they had no children: this was their one regret. Thus
it was that Penhor was sad when she remained alone in her
hut, while Amel guarded his flocks.

She said to herself, one day when the weariness was upon her,
as the shadow of autumn upon the sunlit woods of July: ‘Ah,
Madone, if only I had a beautiful child on my knee, the living
image of his father, then, true, it is with a singing at my heart
I would await each day the home-coming of Amel.’

As for Amel, this is what he said to himself: ‘Ah, Madone, if
Penhor gave me a beautiful child, the living image of herself,
what joy, what happiness !’

Ah, they were good Christians, these: and as for their innocent
sins, for sure they did not add greatly to those of the people of
Saint-Vinol!

‘Penhor, my wife,’ said Amel one day, ‘weave a veil for the
holy Mary, Mother of God, and perhaps a child will be given
to us.’

So, in due time, Penhor wove a veil for the holy Mary, Mother
of God; a beautiful veil, white as snow, and more delicate than
the tender mist of an August evening.

The Mother of God was well pleased. Amel and Penhor had a
child. They loved one another all the more tenderly as they
bent over its little cradle.

The child was nine days old, when Amel took the cradle in his
arms, and so carried the infant to baptism. After the baptism,
Penhor lifted the cradle and carried it round the church to the
altar of the Virgin.

‘Mary, oh, holy Mary !’ said she, kneeling before the Mother
of God, ‘to you I consecrate the child which you have given to

                                          97

us. He shall be yours, and grow up dedicated to your divine
colour. Look at him, holy Mary; he is called Raoul as was
his father’s father. See him, that you may know him in the
day of peril.’

Thereat Amel, assenting, cried, ‘So be it’

Mary’s colour is the blue of the sky. Therefore it was that
the child, Raoul, was thenceforth robed in the holy blue. He
was beautiful, with the fair hair of his mother and the dark eyes
of Amel, the brave herdsman.

Then the sorrow of the sorrows came.

No man can tell if it was because of some great sin among the
people of Saint-Vinol, or but the wise wisdom of God, that one
night—O Mary ! a night of terror !—the waters of the Couesnon
rose rapidly.

The wind blew from the north-east, the rain fell in torrents,
the earth shook. In a brief while the plain was covered with
water. When morning broke, the people saw that it was not
the Couesnon only which had overflowed ; it was the sea, which
had destroyed all the barriers, even those raised by the hand
of God Himself.

The flood came on, dark, raging, a creature of the night, full of
awe and terror, bearing on its surface uprooted trees and the
bodies of dead animals.

To the church of Saint-Vinol, which stood on a height, the
bewildered villagers fled affrighted. All save two: for when
Amel and Penhor hastened thither with their child the church
was full, and they were forced to remain at the door, with the
roaring rush of the deluge in their ears, like the baying of a
bloodhound.

The waters rose and rose. When the lips of the flood licked
their feet, Amel took his wife in his arms. Soon the waters
reached his waist. Then he said : ‘Farewell, my beloved wife.
I will uphold you. Perhaps the deluge will be stayed. If I
die, and you are saved, it is well.’

Penhor obeyed. Still the dark flood of the waters rose. When
it reached her breast, she lifted the little Raoul, and said:

                                          98

‘Farewell, my darling child. I will uphold you. Perhaps the
waters will be stayed. If I die, and you are saved, it is well.’
With the child it was in turn as with his mother when Amel
had whispered to her.

Still the waters rose.

Soon nothing was visible above the angry waves, save the fair
head of little Raoul, and a fold of his blue frock which fluttered
in the wind.

It was at this moment that the Virgin left her niche in the
church of Saint-Vinol to fly heavenward. In her hands she
carried all her offerings.

As she passed above the churchyard she saw the fair head of
little Raoul and the fluttering fold of pale blue.

Hereat the Virgin paused in her flight, and said: ‘This child
is mine. I will carry him to God.’ With that she put the soft-
ness of her hand about his fair hair. But the child was heavy,
very heavy for such a little fellow. One by one the holy Virgin
had to relinquish her cherished offerings.

When she had thrown them all aside— the linen, the flowers,
and the ripe fruits— she was able to raise him. Then it was
she saw why little Raoul was so heavy.

His mother held him in her stiffened arms.

In his stiffened arms, in turn, the father upheld the mother.

How blessed is love washed in the blood of kindred! The
Virgin smiled. She said: ‘They loved one another well.’ But
when she smiled, the darkness of death went from them, and
they awoke.

Thus it was that Mary carried three happy souls up to heaven;
the father with the mother, the mother with the child.

This story is told in the evening watches between Saint-
Georges and Cherrueix.

                                     EDITH WINGATE RINDER.

FAITH’S AVATAR

Page with ornament
The Database of Ornament                    TO     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

     IF Faith were given human form, alive and warm,
     I think thy steady-burning eyes
     Where Love and Hope and Courage dwell,
     I think thy mouth so sweet and wise
     Would suit her well.
     For if not very Faith thou art.
     Yet, Faith, who dwelleth in they heart,
     Has wrought thy features to her will,
     And made them pure and calm and still.

                                             RONALD CAMPBELL MACFIE.

MADAME CHRYSANTHÈME

BY E. A. HORNEL

LA CITÉ DU BON ACCORD¹

Page with ornament
The Database of Ornament

LA Joie par excellence est de trouver un ami et de lui
montrer qu’on l’aime. Oui, la Joie par excellence, car
L’Amour même, avec tous ses emportements, n’a sa
vraie grandeur, n’est durable que par la fervente
amitié.

Mais en dehors de ce haut sentiment qui dépasse
de beaucoup la simple fraternité, puisqu’elle suppose une
association complète des volontés et des actes, combien d’impul-
sions naturelles auxquelles on donne ordinairement le nom
d’‘amitiés,’ et qui, sans mériter cette appellation glorieuse,
n’en sont pas moins des sentiments très nobles et qu’il faudrait
pleinement satisfaire! La sympathie voudrait souvent s’élancer
de l’homme à l’homme, mais pour mille causes étrangères elle
ne se manifeste point. Que de fois chacun de nous a-t-il ainsi
rencontré des personnes que d’un coup d’œil il a reconnues
comme des amis en puissance, comme des êtres avec lesquels
il voudrait échanger des pensées sincères, mais qui pour lui ne
seront jamais que des ombres, destinées bientôt à fuir de sa
mémoire : ce ne sont guère que des apparences vaines malgré
¹ This article is placed in the section ‘Autumn in the North’ since it has been
suggested by a recent visit from its writer. The foremost geographer in Europe,
M. Rechis, is also the joint-apostle with Tolstoi of the higher Anarchism. Both charac-
teristics of his thought are thus represented in his title; his generous hopefulness
most of all.
                                          104
les qualités puissantes, malgré tous les élans de bonté qu’il
sent devoir exister en elles. On s’est croisé, on a même pu
échanger un regard, peut-être le hasard vous a-t-il favorisé au
point de permettre un salut ou un serrement de main: c’est
tout et l’on s’engloutit de nouveau l’un pour l’autre dans le
gouffre infini de l’espace et du temps. Les amis virtuels restent
des amis inconnus. Seulement à la lecture de tel livre, à la
récitation de telle phrase, à l’ouie d’une même musique, sous
la pression des mêmes faits sociaux, les âmes sœurs vibrent
simultanément comme des plaques de cristal émues par un coup
d’archet. Si l’un des amis inconnus a la joie de travailler comme
artiste ou savant, ce qu’il chante, peint, sculpte, écrit peut du
moins créer une sorte d’amitié unilatérale: les sympathies se
précisent chez le lecteur ou l’auditeur. Parfois aussi, par
exemple dans une réunion publique, des sentiments d’enthou-
siasme s’échangent de l’âme à l’âme dans l’air brûlant. Une
tendresse mutuelle qui ne s’était jamais exprimée directement
trouve ainsi une issue momentanée, mais à la sortie les amis se
séparent et, plus tard, quand ils se rencontrent, ils ignorent que
leurs cœurs ont ensemble battu.

Comment done unir ceux qui ne demandent qu’à s’aimer?
Comment joindre les sympathies en un bonheur d’affection
réciproque? Au premier abord le problème semble impossible,
en ce monde conventionnel où règnent les formules, où tout est
mesuré par une éducation hypocrite, où tout ment, le regard,
le geste et le sourire. Mais non, l’œuvre peut s’accomplir, grâce
à ces hommes dévoués qui rapprochent dans une même entre-
prise les amis connus et inconnus. Si l’amitié engendre la
communauté des efforts extérieurs, de même, par une réaction
naturelle, un travail commun, abordé passionnément, révèle ou
suscite l’amitié entre les compagnons de labeur. Les tentatives
des êtres généreux qui font appel à toutes les initiatives, à
toutes les énergies, pour travailler au bien public, sont donc
doublement bonnes, à la fois par le but direct réalisé et par le
groupement d’amis qui, sans cela, ne se seraient jamais rencon-
trés : une conscience collective les anime ; ils vivent de la même

                                          105
vie et l’associent librement dans l’emploi de leurs individualités
diverses.

Un grand nombre de ces œuvres collectives, triomphe des
hommes de cœur sur l’égoïsme primitif, naissent sous mille
formes; la solidarité humaine fait surgir de tons côtés des
associations où les initiatives ont leur franc jeu, et où les amis
inconnus ont la joie de se découvrir mutuellement. Laquelle
de ces entreprises aura le plus d’importance historique dans
l’évolution de l’humanité? Toutes sont bonnes, puisque
l’impulsion morale en est parfaite; mais la meilleure est
certainement celle qui embrasse le plus d’intérêts humains et
leur donne le plus de satisfaction: c’est la ‘Cité du Bon
Accord.’

Je la vois d’ici, ayant sur la ‘Cité de Dieu,’ la ‘Cité du Soleil,’
et tant d’autres cités déjà rêvées, l’avantage capital de n’être
pas une pure conception de l’esprit, mais de se développer
d’une manière organique, de vivre enfin d’une vie toute con-
crète, en utilisant, pour les renouveler, les cellules vieillies
d’organismes antérieurs tombés en dissolution. Je la vois
dressant ses tours et ses clochetons, étalant ses terrasses
sur la colline superbe où vécurent les héros mythiques. En
bas se groupent les demeures des générations qui passent,
préparant par leur travail, achetant par leurs souffrances la
promesse d’un avenir meilleur. Au delà se prolongent les
hauteurs herbeuses ou fleuries de bruyères ; des roches
lointaines qui se montrent à l’horizon surgissent de la mer, et
l’on croirait entendre le murmure des vagues qui, dans l’infini
des temps écoulés, apportèrent nos aïeux.

La ‘Cité du Bon Accord’ domine tout cet immense espace, tout
ce monde de poésie et d’histoire, et par les yeux de l’esprit, je
la vois résumant le sens intime de tout ce passé, s’épanouissant
comme une fleur merveilleuse, dont la sève distillait dans le
sol des milliers de générations humaines. Le poète nous parle
de la ’Cité Dolente’ au seuil de laquelle le malheureux perd
toute espérance: ici nous entrons avec joie, pleins d’une noble
gaieté, avec la fière résolution d’accomplir de grandes choses.

                                          106
Ici tous auront le pain, le pain qu’il est si difficile, parfois si
humiliant de conquérir ailleurs; tous auront la santé que
donnera l’air pur, l’eau amenée en abondance des sources
cristallines; ils jouiront de la nourriture simple réglée par le
travail. Là tout un microcosme, résumé et en même temps
espoir du genre humain, fonctionnera sans effort, s’occupant
aux mille besognes de la vie, besognes toujours attrayantes
puisqu’elles seront choisies librement. Les artistes décoreront
les palais familiaux de leurs sculptures et de leurs fresques;
on s’instruira mutuellement dans les laboratoires, les musées
et les jardins; les jeunes filles nous chanteront des chœurs;
les enfants noueront et dénoueront leurs rondes autour des
vieillards heureux: nulle loi, nulle contrainte ne troublera le
grand accord.

Salut et joie à tous les amis inconnus que j’ai rencontrés
    dans la cité nouvelle! Salut et joie à tous ceux qui s’y
                       succèderont de siècle en siècle.

                                     ÉLISÉE RECLUS.

THE HILL-WATER

Page with ornament
The Database of Ornament

        THERE is a little brook,
        I love it well:
        It hath so sweet a sound
        That even in dreams my ears could tell
        Its music anywhere:
        Often I wander there,
        And leave my book
        Unread upon the ground,
        Eager to quell
        In the hushed air
        That haunts its flowing forehead fair
        All that about my heart hath wound
        A trouble of care:
        Or, it may be, idly to spell
        Its runic rhythms rare,
        And with its singing soul to share
        Its ancient lore profound:
        For sweet it is to be the echoing shell
        That lists and inly keeps that murmurous miracle.


                                          108

        About it all day long
        In this June tide
        There is a myriad song.
        From every side
        There comes a breath, a hum, a voice:
        The hill-wind fans it with a pleasant noise
        As of sweet rustling things
        That move on unseen wings;
        And from the pinewood near
        A floating whisper oftentimes I hear,
        As when, o’er pastoral meadows wide,
        Stealeth the drowsy rumour of a weir.
        The green reeds bend above it,
        The soft green grasses stoop and trail therein;
        The minnows dart and spin;
        The purple-gleaming swallows love it;
        And, hush, its innermost depths within,
        The vague prophetic murmur of the linn.

        But not in summertide alone
        I love to look
        Upon this rippling water in my glen:
        Most sweet, most dear my brook,
        When the grey mists shroud every ben,
        And in its quiet place
        The stream doth bare her face,
        And lets me pore deep down into her eyes,
        Her eyes of shadowy grey,
        Wherein from day to day
        My soul is startled with a new surmise,
        Or doth some subtler meaning trace
        Reflected from unseen, invisible skies.


                                          109

        Dear mountain-solitary, dear lonely brook,
        Of hillside rains and dews the vagrant daughter,
        Sweet, sweet thy music when I bend above thee.
        When in thy fugitive face I look:
        Yet not the less I love thee,
        When, far away, and absent from thee long,
        I yearn, my dark hill-water,
        I yearn, I strain to hear thy song.
        Brown, wandering water.
        Dear murmuring water.

                                                                        WILLIAM SHARP.

HIDE AND SEEK

BY CHARLES H. MACKIE

THE BREATH OF THE SNOW

Page with ornament
The Database of Ornament

OFTEN on entering a house I find myself saying,
‘It’s a bad night for the crops’ and then search
my mind for the latest bit of gossip. A word of
pity and there it ends. In Linneside the weather
is our all, and we prosper as the crops do; but if
our own bits of land are right, our feelings, I
confess, are not far-reaching. In early autumn, the burns
come down, leaving the mountain sides with ragged gaps and
eating under the trees. The low lands are flooded, and ricks
are like islands round the end of the firth. We hear of the
crofter’s only cow being carried away, and the bed-ridden wife
watching its descent from the window. Strangely fast such
things slip from our minds, and weather is the beginning and
end, but never the middle, of our conversations. Perhaps the
reason is that it is not ours to make or mend the weather.
Surely it was the hissing of the coals that sent my pen on this
wandering; for I started to say that to-night there is a smell
of snow in the air. To many a one, I daresay, these words
bear no meaning; for only where the wind blows in its purity
can you scent the coming of the snow; but we, up here, have
been counting the signs since the robin started singing so
merrily amongst us. That was the last week in August, and
since then we have summed up the bad, subtracted the good,
and found winter. At any rate, the smell is dear enough

                                          114
to-night. Just now if I step out to the porch, a keen-edged
east wind draws the smoke from my mouth and like a hand
casts it over the house; and the stars are twinkling sharply
like the diamonds some grand women wear. But a quarter
of an hour ago I was being driven home, all nature scolding.
The wind was dashing a sleety rain along; the trees swung
with a sound like creaking doors and threw their leaves in the
air as a schoolboy would his bonnet on a holiday. Perhaps
while I am spelling this out, another great bank of cloud,
black in the centre and shading outwards into white like an
eye, is rising up to cast itself upon us.

Such nights always turn our thoughts on snow. September
past, it is always near us. One morning we rise to find the
Ben is tipped, and steadily the white creeps down to us. The
days are never sure of themselves. Rain follows frost without
leaving us time to open an umbrella, and the sky gets dark as
quickly as one would blow out a candle. The trees look
starved, and in the fields you see women lifting potatoes with
many shawls about their heads. On frosty days the hills stand
out clear against the sky, and old men feel the sweet air
bracing them. Sleety rain comes, and the hills are sad and
blurred, and old bones are racked with rheumatism.

But apart from all this and the fact that the Thanksgiving Day
for the harvest is past, I see other signs of the closing in of
winter. Peggy who keeps house to me gets mightily quickened
in the tongue as the days grow shorter. She lays my supper,
and then, pretending to dust the mantelpiece, she begins:
‘Now, indeed, I am hearing that the Fergusons along the way
will be having a lot of new dresses, and I am sure it would
be more like them to get their old debts paid first of all ; for
they say—any way Jeemie, that’s my good-brother that
works with Macfarquhar, was telling me that they will have
a big account against them in Macfarquhar’s books. Indeed,
too,’ Peggy would add, sniffing sarcastically, ‘and it’s them-
selves that keep their heads high with all the debt that will be
on them!’


                                          115

Or may be she says:
‘Ay, ay, and it’s fine goings-on they’ll be at the Gillespies’
next week. Of course you would be hearing it all.’

‘No, Peggy,’ I put in, just to please the body.

‘Yes, indeed, it’s a terrible big tea-party they will be giving.
They’re saying that the laddie Williamina is engaged to will
be coming all the way from Inverness to it. But he’ll be having
to put up with a shake-down if he comes, for they haven’t a
spare bed in the house. May be, though, that old Granny
Gillespie can give him a room for the one night at any
rate.’

I listen to it—or most of it—Peggy would leave the house if I
didn’t; and, God knows, what is evil—and Peggy is a woman—
never goes past me. As soon as I came in to-night she
commenced:
‘Ach, ach! I am telling you that you will be sure to be getting
your death of cold without your thick flannels on in this raw
weather. I was just busying myself looking them out for you.
And, indeed, the weather has taken a terrible change. I was
out by the day at Mrs. Fairbairn’s, west the road there, and
she was saying her Jockie’s cough is just getting fearful to
hear. She is very downhearted about it, poor woman. I will
be afraid myself it’s in the decline he’ll be. And you couldn’t
be wondering. He was aye a through-other laddie with his
poaching and carrying-on. And for all that there was always
a kind word upon his lips, and he was a good son. And if it’s
the will of the good Lord that his last sickness is on him, the
smile of him and the way he had with the bairns and the old
folk will be missed more—just—just more than I could be
telling you.

‘And as I was coming east,’ Peggy went on, warming to her
work, ‘who do you think I met but Rory Simpson’s lassie,
Maggan. There’ll not be so much at the back of them
Simpsons’ pride as some people might be thinking; any way,
it was suspicious-like to be seeing Maggan with her last
winter’s hat trimmed over again for this winter. You’ll be

                                          116
minding the big black one she had with the ostrich feathers in
it, that hung down on to her back? Well, well, it doesn’t
matter: it’s it she had on the day, and her sister’s old dress.
And Mrs. Fairbairn was saying to me that Mrs. Mathieson
down at the Mill is getting a lot of her old clothes dyed, and
made down for the lassies. And I wouldn’t wonder at all.
But I am thinking, too, that Mrs. Fairbairn has an ill tongue,
when she’ll be caring to use it. I saw herself making down
her man’s trousers for her laddie Tommy. Of course she
wouldn’t be telling me that, but I was seeing it all the same.
But it’s always the way: them folk will never be done speaking
of one another. They’re as jealous of one another as cats, and
indeed I am thinking myself well out of it all.’

But I am just a little afraid, though, of course, I dare not
breathe it, that Peggy, good woman, is looked upon as rather
a leader in the gossiping society, whose queer ways she some-
times describes to me with unpitying scorn.

That, you see, is the way a woman’s eye beholds the changes
coming. In the great cities, I do not doubt, there are many
signs, but we have only a little view of our fellows and a great
one of the solemn hills. To me this gathering chill, this slow
closing of bony fingers, means the loss of many quiet joys—
the song of birds, the sight of green hills, the warm consolation
of sunlight. It is a hard time, and yet, in this good air, the
snows and frosts are sweet. To rise and see the ragged
hillsides smoothed and carpeted in white as if the chariots of
God had passed in the high silence of the night, and to see the
sun glow on the snow crust as if from the chariots the occu-
pants had strewn their path with diamonds, is a strangely
glorious thing. But as you look you see the clouds gathering
on the northern hills, and you remember our tragedy of last
winter. You watch again the searchers out upon the moonlit
snow and the sad burden brought in—young Sandy Donaldson,
the Rhilochan post, with the mail bag frozen to him, his ears
bitten dead and his strong heart dying. You pile the fires,
and you bring a quiver to the eyes and a snap to the jaws

                                          117
and the kind words that go to the lassie of the west who is
waiting for him—‘God be good to Annie.’

The north is growing darker now, and you leave the window
  for the fire. Its sparkle has a sweeter memory: and yet
    the prayer comes silently that when our winter time
       arrives it may be given us to slip into the eternal
               summer quietly as the snow falls.

                        JOHN MACLEAY.

‘BARE RUINED CHOIRS’

BY JAMES CADENHEAD

IN SHADOWLAND

Page with ornament
The Database of Ornament

        BETWEEN the moaning of the mountain stream
            And the hoarse thunder of the Atlantic deep,
            An outcast from the peaceful realms of sleep
        I lie, and hear as in a fever-dream
        The homeless night-wind in the darkness
            scream

            And wail around the inaccessible steep
            Down whose gaunt sides the spectral torrents leap
        From crag to crag,— till almost I could deem
        The plaided ghosts of buried centuries
            Were mustering in the glens with bow and spear
            And shadowy hounds to hunt the shadowy deer,
        Mix in phantasmal sword-play, or, with eyes
            Of wrath and pain immortal, wander o’er
            Loved scenes where human footstep comes no more

                                                                                    NOËL PATON.



MARY OF THE GAEL

Page with ornament
The Database of Ornament

This ‘legendary romance’ is based upon the ancient and still current (though often
hopelessly contradictory) legends concerning Brighid, or Bride, commonly known as
‘Muime Chriosd,’ i.e. the Foster-Mother of Christ. From the universal honour and
reverence in which she was and is held—second only in this respect to the Virgin her-
self—she is also called ‘Mary of the Gael.’ Another name, frequent in the West, is
‘Brighde-nam-Bratj,’ i.e. St. Bride of the Mantle, a name explained in the course of
hopelessly contradictory) legends concerning Brighid, or Bride, commonly known as
my legendary story. Brighid the Christian saint should not, however, as is commonly
done, be confused with a much earlier and remoter Brighid, the ancient Celtic muse of
Song.

MARY OF THE GAEL

SLOINNEADH BRIGHDE, NUINE CHRIOSD

         Brighde nighean Dughaill Duinn,
         Ic Aoidth, ’ic Arta, ’ic Cuinn.
         Gach la is gach oidhche
         Ni mi cuimhneachadh air sloinneadh Brighde.
         Cha mharbhar mi,
         Cha ghuinear mi,
         Cha ghonar mi,
         Cha mho dh’ fhagas Criosd an dearmad mi;
         Cha loisg teine gniomh Shatain mi;
         ’S cha bhath uisge no saile mi;
         ’S mi fo chomraig Naoimh Moire
         ’S mo chaomh mhuime, Brighde.

THE GENEALOGY OF ST. BRIDGET OR ST. BRIDE,
FOSTER-MOTHER OF CHRIST.

         St Bridget, the daughter of Dughall Donn,
         Son of Hugh, son of Art, son of Conn.
         Each day and each night
         I will meditate on the genealogy of St Bridget.
         [Whereby] I will not be killed,
         I will not be wounded,


                                          124

         I will not be bewitched;
         Neither will Christ forsake me;
         Satan’s fire will not burn me;
         Neither water nor sea shall drown me;
         For I am under the protection of the Virgin Mary,
         And my meek and gentle foster-mother, St Bridget.


                                          I

BEFORE ever St. Colum came across the Moyle to
the island of Iona, that was then by strangers
called Innis-nan-Dhruidhneach, the Isle of the
Druids, and by the natives Ioua, there lived upon
the south-east slope of Dun-I a poor herdsman,
named Dùvach. Poor he was, for sure, though it
was not for this reason that he could not win back to Ireland,
green Banba, as he called it: but because he was an exile
thence, and might never again smell the heather blowing over
Sliabh-Gorm in what of old was the realm of Aoimag.
He was a prince in his own land, though none on Iona save the
Arch-Druid knew what his name was. The high priest, however,
knew that Duvach was the royal Dughall, called Dughall Donn,
the son of Hugh the King, the son of Art, the son of Conn. In
his youth he had been accused of having done a wrong against
a noble maiden of the blood. When her child was born he was
made to swear across her dead body that he would be true to
the daughter for whom she had given up her life, that he would
rear her in a holy place but away from Eire, and that he would
never set foot within that land again. This was a bitter thing
for Dughall Donn to do: the more so as, before the King, and
the priests, and the people, he swore by the Wind, and by
the Moon, and by the Sun, that he was guiltless of the
thing of which he was accused. There were many there who
believed him because of that sacred oath: others, too, forasmuch
as that Morna the Princess had herself sworn to the same effect.
Moreover, there was Aodh of the Golden Hair, a poet and seer,

                                          125
who avowed that Morna had given birth to an immortal, whose
name would one day be as a moon among the stars for glory.
But the King would not be appeased, though he spared the
life of his youngest son. So it was that, by the advice of Aodh
of the Druids, Dughall Donn went northwards through the
realm of Clanadon and so to the sea-loch that was then called
Loc Feobal. There he took boat with some wayfarers bound
for Alba. But in the Moyle a tempest arose, and the frail
galley was driven northward, and at sunrise was cast like
a great fish, spent and dead, upon the south end of Ioua, that
is now Iona. Only two of the mariners survived: Dughall
Donn and the little child. This was at the place where, on a
day of the days in a year that was not yet come, St. Colum
landed in his coracle, and gave thanks on his bended knees.
When, warmed by the sun, they rose, they found themselves in
a waste place. Ill was Dughall in his mind because of the
portents, and now to his astonishment and alarm the child
Bridget knelt on the stones, and, with claspt hands, small and
pink as the sea-shells round about her, sang a song of words
which were unknown to him. This was the more marvellous,
as she was yet but an infant, and could say no word even of
Erse, the only tongue she had heard.

At this portent, he knew that Aodh had spoken seeingly. Truly
this child was not of human parentage. So he, too, kneeled,
and, bowing before her, asked if she were of the race of the
Tuatha de Danann, or of the older gods, and what her will was,
that he might be her servant. Then it was that the kneeling
babe looked at him, and sang in a low sweet voice in Erse:

         I am but a little child,
         Dùghall, son of Hugh, son of Art,
         But my garment shall be laid
         On the lord of the world.
         Yea, surely it shall be that He
         The King of the Elements Himself
         Shall lean against my bosom,


                                          126

         And I will give him peace,
         And peace will I give to all who ask
         Because of this mighty Prince,
         And because of his Mother that is the Daughter of Peace.

And while Dughall Donn was still marvelling at this thing, the
Arch-Druid of Iona approached, with his white-robed priests.
A grave welcome was given to the stranger, but while the
youngest of the servants of God was entrusted with the child,
the Arch-Druid took Dughall aside, and questioned him. It
was not till the third day that the old man gave his decision.
Dughall Donn was to abide on Iona if he so willed: the child
certainly was to stay. His life would be spared, nor would he
be a bondager of any kind, and a little land to till would be given
him, and all that he might need. But of his past he was to say
no word. His name was to become as naught, and he was to
be known simply as Dùvach. The child, too, was to be named
Bride, for that was the way the name Bridget was called in the
Erse of the Isles.

To the question of Dughall, that was thenceforth Dùvach, as to
why he laid so great stress on the child, that was a girl, and the re-
puted offspring of shame at that, Cathal the Arch-Druid replied
thus: ‘My kinsman Aodh of the Golden Hair, who sent you here,
was wiser than Hugh the King and all the Druids of Aoimag.
Truly, this child is an Immortal. There is an ancient prophecy
concerning her: surely of her who is now here, and no other.
There shall be, it says, a spotless maid born of a virgin of the
ancient immemorial race in Innisfail. And when for the seventh
time the sacred year has come, she will hold Eternity in her lap as
a white flower. Her maiden breasts shall swell with milk for the
Prince of the World. She shall give suck to the King of the
Elements. So I say unto you, Dùvach, go in peace. Take unto
thyself a wife, and live upon the place I will give thee on the
east side of Ioua. Treat Bride as though she were thy spirit,
but leave her much alone, and let her learn of the sun and the
wind. In the fulness of time the prophecy shall be fulfilled.’


                                          127

So was it, from that day of the days. Dùvach took a wife unto
himself, who weaned the little Bride, who grew in beauty and
grace, so that all men marvelled. Year by year for seven years
the wife of Dùvach bore him a son, and these grew apace in
strength, so that by the beginning of the third year of the
seventh cycle of Bride’s life there were three stalwart youths
to brother her, and three comely and strong lads, and one
young boy fair to see. Nor did any one, not even Bride herself,
saving Cathal the Arch-Druid, know that Duvach the herds-
man was Dughall Donn, of a princely race in Innisfail.

In the end, too, Dùvach came to think that he had dreamed, or
at the least that Cathal had not interpreted the prophecy aright.
For though Bride was of exceeding beauty, and of a strange
piety that made the young Druids bow before her as though
she were a bandia, yet the world went on as before, and the
days brought no change. Often, while she was still a child,
he had questioned her about the words she had said as a babe,
but she had no memory of them. Once, in her ninth year, he
came upon her on the hillside of Dun-I singing these self-same
words. Her eyes dreamed afar away. He bowed his head,
and, praying to the Giver of Light, hurried to Cathal. The
old man bade him speak no more to the child concerning the
mysteries.

Bride lived the hours of her days upon the slopes of Dun-I,
herding the sheep, or in following the kye upon the green
hillocks and grassy dunes of what then as now was called the
Machar. The beauty of the world was her daily food. The
spirit within her was like sunlight behind a white flower. The
birdeens in the green bushes sang for joy when they saw her
blue eyes. The tender prayers that were in her heart for all
the beasts and birds, for helpless children, and tired women,
and for all who were old, were often seen flying above her head
in the form of white doves of sunshine.

But when the middle of the year came that was, though
Dùvach had forgotten it, the year of the prophecy, his eldest
son, Conn, who was now a man, murmured against the virginity

                                          128
of Bride, because of her beauty and because a chieftain of the
mainland was eager to wed her. ‘I shall wed Bride or raid
Ioua’ was the message he had sent.

So one day, before the great fire of the summer festival, Conn
and his brothers reproached Bride.

‘Idle are these pure eyes, O Bride, not to be as lamps at thy
marriage-bed.’

‘Truly, it is not by the eyes that we live,’ replied the maiden
gently, while to their fear and amazement she passed her hand
before her face and let them see that the sockets were empty.
Trembling with awe at this portent, Dùvach intervened.

‘By the Sun I swear it, O Bride, that thou shalt marry whom-
soever thou wilt and none other, and when thou wiliest, or not
at all if such be thy will.’

And when he had spoken. Bride smiled, and passed her hand
before her face again, and all there were abashed because of the
blue light as of morning that was in her shining eyes.


                                          II

The still weather had come, and all the isles lay in beauty.
Far south, beyond vision, ranged the coasts of Eire: westward,
leagues of quiet ocean dreamed into unsailed wastes whose
waves at last laved the shores of Tir-na-Hoy, the Land of
Eternal Youth: northward, the spell-bound waters sparkled in
the sunlight, broken here and there by purple splatches, that
were the isles of Staffa and Ulva, Lunga and the isles of the
columns, misty Coll, and Tiree that is the land beneath the wave,
with, pale blue in the heat-haze, the mountains of Rum called
Haleval, Haskeval, and Oreval, with the sheer Scuir-na-Gillian
and the peaks of the Cuchullins in remote Skye.

All the sweet loveliness of a late spring remained, to give a
freshness to the glory of summer. The birds had song to them
still.

It was while the dew was yet wet on the grass that Bride
came out of her father’s house, and went up the steep slope of

                                          129
Dun-I. The crying of the ewes and lambs at the pastures came
plaintively against the dawn. The lowing of the kye arose from
the sandy hollows by the shore, or from the meadows on the
lower slopes. Through the whole island went a rapid trickling
sound, most sweet to hear: the myriad voices of twittering
birds, from the dotterel in the seaweed to the larks climbing
the blue spirals of heaven.

This was the morning of her birth, and she was clad in white.
About her waist was a girdle of the sacred rowan, the feathery
green leaves of it flickering dusky shadows upon her robe as
she moved. The light upon her yellow hair was as when
morning wakes, laughing low with joy, amid the tall corn. As
she went she sang, soft as the crooning of a dove. If any had
been there to hear he would have been abashed, for the words
were not in Erse, and the eyes of the beautiful girl were as
those of one in a vision.

When, at last, a brief while before sunrise, she reached the
summit of the Scuir, that is so small a hill and yet seems so
big in Iona where it is the sole peak, she found three young
Druids there, ready to tend the sacred fire the moment the sun-
rays should kindle it. Each was clad in a white robe, with
fillets of oak-leaves: and each had a golden armlet. They made
a quiet obeisance as she approached. One stepped forward,
with a flush in his face because of her beauty, that was as a
sea-wave for grace, and a flower for purity, and sunlight for
joy, and moonlight for peace, and the wind for fragrance.

‘Thou mayst draw near if thou wilt, Bride, daughter of Dùvach,’
he said, with something of reverence as well as of grave courtesy
in his voice : ‘for the holy Cathal hath said that the Breath of
the Source of All is upon thee. It is not lawful for women to
be here at this moment, but thou hast the law shining upon thy
face and in thine eyes. Hast thou come to pray?’

But at that moment a low cry came from one of his companions.
He turned, and rejoined his fellows. Then all three sank
upon their knees, and with outstretched arms hailed the rising
of God.


                                          130

As the sun rose, a solemn chant swelled from their lips, ascend-
ing as incense through the silent air. The glory of the new
day came soundlessly. Peace was in the blue heaven, on the
blue-green sea, on the green land. There was no wind, even
where the currents of the deep moved in shadowy purple. The
sea itself was silent, making no more than a sighing slumber-
breath round the white sands of the isle, or a hushed whisper
where the tide lifted the long weed that clung to the rocks.

In what strange, mysterious way. Bride did not see: but as
the three Druids held their hands before the sacred fire there
was a faint crackling, then three thin spirals of blue smoke
rose, and soon dusky red and wan yellow tongues of flame
moved to and fro. The sacrifice of God was made. Out of
the immeasurable heaven He had come, in His golden chariot.
Now, in the wonder and mystery of His love. He was reborn
upon the world, reborn a little fugitive flame upon a low hill in
a remote isle. Great must be His love that He could die thus
daily in a thousand places: so great His love that He could
give up His own body to daily death, and suffer the holy flame
that was in the embers he illumined to be lighted and revered
and then scattered to the four quarters of the world.

Bride could bear no longer the mystery of this great love. It
moved her to an ecstasy. What tenderness of divine love that
could thus redeem the world daily: what long-suffering for
all the evil and cruelty done hourly upon the weeping earth,
what patience with the bitterness of the blind fates! The
beauty of the worship of Be’al was upon her as a golden glory.
Her heart leaped to a song that could not be sung. The
inexhaustible love and pity in her soul chanted a hymn that
was heard of no Druid or mortal anywhere, but was known of
the white spirits of Life.

Bowing her head, so that the glad tears fell warm as thunder-
rain upon her hands, she rose and moved away.

Not far from the summit of Dun-I is a hidden pool, to this day
called the Fountain of Youth. Hitherward she went, as was
her wont when upon the hill at the break of day, at noon, or

                                          131
at sundown. Close by the huge boulder, which hides it from
above, she heard a pitiful bleating, and soon the healing of her
eyes was upon a lamb which had become fixed in a crevice in
the rock. On a crag above it stood a falcon, with savage
cries, lusting for warm blood. With swift step Bride drew
near. There was no hurt to the lambkin as she lifted it in
her arms. Soft and warm was it there, as a young babe
against the bosom that mothers it. Then with quiet eyes she
looked at the falcon, who hooded his cruel gaze.

‘There is no wrong in thee, Seobhag,’ she said gently: ‘but
the law of blood shall not prevail for ever. Let there be peace
this morn.’

And when she had spoken this word, the wild hawk of the hills
flew down upon her shoulder, nor did the heart of the lambkin
beat the quicker, while with drowsy eyes it nestled as against
its dam. When she stood by the pool she laid the little woolly
creature among the fern. Already the bleating of it was sweet
against the forlorn heart of a ewe. The falcon rose, circled
above her head, and with swift flight sped through the blue air.
For a time Bride watched its travelling shadow: when it was
itself no more than a speck in the golden haze, she turned, and
stooped above the Fountain of Youth.

Beyond it stood then, though for ages past there has been no
sign of either, two quicken-trees. Now they were gold-green
in the morning light, and the brown-green berries that had not
yet reddened were still small. Fair to see was the flickering of
the long finger-shadows upon the granite rocks and boulders.
Often had Bride dreamed through their foliage: but now she
stared in amaze. She had put her lips to the water, and had
started back because she had seen, beyond her own image, that
of a woman so beautiful that her soul was troubled within her,
and had cried its inaudible cry, worshipping. When, trembling,
she had glanced again, there was none there beside herself.
Yet what had happened? For, as she stared at the quicken-
trees, she saw that their boughs had interlaced, and that they
now made a green arch. What was even stranger was that

                                          132
the rowan-clusters hung in blood-red masses, although the late
heats were yet a long way off.

Bride rose, her body quivering because of the cool sweet
draught of the Fountain of Youth, so that almost she imagined
the water was for her that day what it could be once in each
year to every person who came to it, a breath of new life and
the strength and joy of youth. With slow steps she advanced
towards the arch of the quickens. Her heart beat as she saw
that the branches at the summit had formed themselves into
the shape of a wreath or crown, and that the scarlet berries
dropped therefrom a steady rain of red drops as of blood. A
sigh of joy breathed from her lips when, deep among the red
and green, she saw the white merle of which the ancient poets
sang, and heard the exceeding wonder of its rapture, which
was now in the pain of joy and now the joy of pain.

The song of the mystic bird grew wilder and more sweet as
she drew near. For a brief while she hesitated. Then, as a
white dove drifted slow before her under and through the
quicken-boughs, a dove white as snow but radiant with sunfire,
she moved forward to follow, with a dream-smile upon her
face and her eyes full of the sheen of wonder and mystery, as
shadowy waters flooded with moonshine.

And this was the passing of Bride, who was not seen again
of Dùvach or her foster-brothers for the space of a year and a
day. Only Cathal, the aged Arch-Druid, who died seven days
thence, had a vision of her, and wept for joy.


                                          III

When the strain of the white merle ceased, though it had
seemed to her scarce longer than the vanishing song of the
swallow on the wing, Bride saw that the evening was come.
Through the violet glooms of dusk she moved soundlessly,
save for the crispling of her feet among the hot sands. Far
as she could see to right or left there were hollows and ridges
of sand: where, here and there, trees or shrubs grew out of

                                          133
the parched soil, they were strange to her. She had heard
the Druids speak of the sunlands in a remote, nigh unreachable
East, where there were trees called palms, trees that rose with
the sunflood and perished not, also tall dark cypresses that
were black-green as the holy yew. These were the trees she
now saw. Did she dream, she wondered? Far down in her
mind was some memory, some floating vision only, it may be,
of a small green isle far among the northern seas. Voices,
words, faces, familiar yet unfamiliar when she strove to bring
them nearer, haunted her.

The heat brooded upon the land. The sigh of the parched
earth was ‘Water, water.’

As she moved onward through the gloaming she descried
white walls beyond her: white walls and square white build-
ings, looming ghostly through the dark, yet home-sweet as
the bells of the cows on the sea-pastures, because of the yellow
lights every here and there agleam.

A tall figure moved towards her, clad in white, even as those
figures which haunted her unremembering memory. When he
drew near she gave a low cry of joy. The face of her father
was sweet to her.

‘Where will be the pitcher, Brighid?’ he said, though the words
were not the words that were near her when she was alone.
Nevertheless she knew them, and the same manner of words
was upon her lips.

‘My pitcher, father?’

‘Ah, dreamer, when will you be taking heed! It is leaving your
pitcher you will be, and by the Well of the Camels, no doubt:
though little matter will that be, since there is now no water,
and the drought is heavy upon the land. But . . . Brighid . . .

‘Yes, my father?’

‘It is not being safe for you to be on the desert at night. Wild
beasts come out of the darkness, and there are robbers and
wild men who lurk in the shadow. Brighid . . . Brighid . . .
is it dreaming you are still?’

‘I was dreaming of a cool green isle in northern seas, where . . .


                                          134

‘Where you have never been, foolish lass, and are never like
to be. Sure, if any wayfarer were to come upon us you would
scarce be able to tell him that yonder village is Bethlehem,
and that I am Dùghall Donn the inn-keeper, Dùghall, the son
of Hugh, son of Art, son of Conn. Well, well, I am growing
old, and they say that the old see wonders. But I do not wish
to see this wonder, that my daughter Brighid forgets her own
town, and the good inn that is there, and the strong sweet ale
that is cool against the thirst of the weary. Sure, if the day of
my days is near it is near. “Green be the place of my rest,” I
cry, even as Oisin the son of Fionn of the hero-line of Trenmor
cried in his old age; though if Oisin and the Fiànn were
here not a green place would they now find, for the land is
burned dry as the heather after a hill-fire. But now, Brighid,
let us go back into Bethlehem, for I have that for the saying
which must be said at once.’

In silence the twain walked through the gloaming that was
already the mirk, till they came to the white gate, where the
asses and camels breathed wearily in the sultry darkness, with
dry tongues moving round parched mouths. Thence they
fared through narrow streets, where a few white-robed Hebrews
and sons of the desert moved silently, or sat in niches. Finally
they came to a great yard, where more than a score of camels
lay huddled and growling in their sleep. Beyond this was the
inn, which was known to all the patrons and friends of Dùghall
Donn as the ‘Rest and Be Thankful,’ though formerly as the
Rest of Clan-Ailpean, for was he not himself through his
mother MacAlpine of the Isles, as well as blood-kin to the
great O’Connor, to whom his father, Hugh the King, was
feudatory prince?

As Dùghall and Bride walked along the stone flags of a passage
leading to the inner rooms, he stopped and drew her attention
to the water-tanks.

‘Look you, my lass,’ he said sorrowfully, ‘of these tanks and
barrels nearly all are empty. Soon there will be no water what-
ever, which is an evil thing though I whisper it in peace, to the

                                          135
Stones be it said. Now, already the folk who come here
murmur. No man can drink ale all day long, and those way-
farers who want to wash the dust of their journey from their
feet and hands complain bitterly. And . . . what is that you
will be saying ? The kye? Ay, sure, there is the kye, but the
poor beasts are o’ercome with the heat, and there’s not a
Cailliach on the hills who could win a drop more of milk from
them than we squeeze out of their udders now, and that only
with rune after rune till all the throats of the milking lassies
are as dry as the salt grass by the sea.

‘Well, what I am saying is this: ‘tis months now since any
rain will be falling, and every crock of water has been for the
treasuring as though it were the honey of Moy-Mell itself.
The moon has been full twice since we had the good water
brought from the mountain-springs: and now they are for
drying up too. The seers say that the drought will last. If
that is a true word, and there be no rain till the winter comes,
there will be no inn in Bethlehem called “The Rest and Be
Thankful”: for already there is not enough good water to give
peace even to your little thirst, my birdeen. As for the ale, it is
poor drink now for man or maid, and as for the camels and
asses, poor beasts, they don’t understand the drinking of it.’

‘That is true, father, but what is to be done?’
‘That’s what I will be telling you, my lintie. Now, I have been
told by an oganach out of Jerusalem, that lives in another
place close by the great town, that there is a quenchless well
of pure water, cold as the sea with a north wind in it, on a hill
there called The Mount of Olives. Now it is to that hill I will
be going. I am for taking all the camels, and all the horses,
and all the asses, and will lade each with a burthen of water-
skins, and come back home again with water enough to last us
till the drought breaks.’

That was all that was said that night. But at the dawn the
inn was busy, and all the folk in Bethlehem were up to see the
going abroad of Dùghall Donn and Ronald M’Ian, his shepherd,
and some Macleans and Macallums that were then in that

                                          136
place. It was a fair sight to see as they went forth through
the white gate that is called the Gate of Nazareth. A piper
walked first, playing the Gathering of the Swords: then came
Dughall Donn on a camel, and M’Ian on a horse, and the herds-
men on asses, and then there were the collies, barking for joy.
Before he had gone, Dùghall took Bride out of the hearing of
the others. There was only a little stagnant water, he said:
and as for the ale there was no more than a flagon left of what
was good. This flagon, and the one jar of pure water, he left
with her. On no account was she to give a drop to any way-
farer, no matter how urgent he might be: for he, Dughall,
could not say when he would get back, and he did not want to
find a dead daughter to greet him on his return, let alone there
being no maid of the inn to attend to customers. Over and
above that, he made her take an oath that she would give no
one, no, not even a stranger, accommodation at the inn, during
his absence.

Afternoon and night came, and dawn and night again, and yet
again. It was on the afternoon of the third day, when even the
crickets were dying of thirst, that Bride heard a clanging at the
door of the inn.

When she went to the door she saw a weary grey-haired man,
dusty and tired. By his side was an ass with drooping head,
and on the ass was a woman, young, and of a beauty that was
as the cool shadow of green leaves and the cold ripple of run-
ning waters. But beautiful as she was, it was not this that
made Bride start: no, nor the heavy womb that showed the
woman was with child. For she remembered her of a dream—
it was a dream, sure—when she had looked into a pool on a
mountain-side, and seen, beyond her own image, just this fair
and beautiful face, the most beautiful that ever man saw since
Nais, of the Sons of Usna, beheld Deirdrê in the forest, ay, and
lovelier far even than she, the peerless among women.

‘Gu’m beannaicheadh Dia an tigh,’ said the grey-haired man
in a weary voice,’ the blessing of God on this house.’

‘Soraidh leat,’ replied Bride gently, ‘and upon you likewise.’


                                          137

‘Can you give us food and drink, and, after that, good rest at
this inn? Sure it is grateful we will be. This is my wife Mary,
upon whom is a mystery: and I am Joseph, that is a carpenter
in Arimathea.’

‘Welcome, and to you, too, Mary: and peace. But there is
neither food nor drink here, and my father has bidden me give
shelter to none who come here against his return.’

The carpenter sighed, but the fair woman on the ass turned
her shadowy eyes upon Bride, so that the maiden trembled
with joy and fear.

‘And is it forgetting me you will be, Brighid-Alona,’ she mur-
mured, in the good sweet Gaelic of the Isles, and the voice of her
was like the rustle of leaves when a soft rain is falling in a wood

‘Sure, I remember,’ Bride whispered, filled with deep awe.
Then without a word she turned, and beckoned them to follow:
which, having left the ass by the doorway, they did.

‘Here is all the ale that I have,’ she said, as she gave the
flagon to Joseph: ‘and here, Mary, is all the water that there
is. Little there is, but it is you that are welcome to it’
Then, when they had quenched their thirst she brought out oat-
cakes and scones and brown bread, and would fain have added
milk, but there was none.

‘Go to the byre, Brighid,’ said Maiy, ‘and the first of the kye
shall give milk.’

So Bride went, but returned saying that the creature would not
give milk without a rune or song, and that her throat was too
dry to sing.

‘Sing this rune,’ said Mary:—

                        Give up thy milk to her who calls
                        Across the low green hills of Heaven
                        Because of this mighty Prince,
                        And stream-cool meads of Paradise!

And sure enough, when Bride did this, the milk came: and she
soothed her thirst, and went back to her guests rejoicing. It
was sorrow to her not to let them stay where they were, but
she could not, because of her oath.


                                          138

The man Joseph was weary, and said he was too tired to seek
far that night, and asked if there were no empty byre or stable
where he and Mary could sleep till morning. At that, Bride
was glad: for she knew there was a clean cool stable close to
the byre where her kye were: and thereto she led them, and
returned with peace at her heart.

When she was in the inn again, she was afraid once more: for
lo, though Mary and Joseph had drunken deep of the jar and
the flagon, each was now as full as it had been. Of the food,
too, none seemed to have been taken, though she had herself
seen them break the scones and the oatcakes.

It was dusk when her reverie was broken by the sound of the
pipes. Soon thereafter Dùghall Donn and his following rode
up to the inn, and all were glad because of the cool water, and
the grapes, and the green fruits of the earth, that they brought
with them.

While her father was eating and drinking, merry because of
the ale that was still in the flagon, Bride told him of the
wayfarers. Even as she spoke, he made a sign of silence,
because of a strange, unwonted sound that he heard.

‘What will that be meaning?’ he asked, in a low, hushed voice.

‘Sure it is the rain at last, father. That is a glad thing. The
earth will be green again. The beasts will not perish. Hark,
I hear the noise of it coming down from the hills as well.’ But
Dùghall sat brooding.

‘Ay,’ he said at last, ‘is it not foretold that the Prince of the
World is to be born in this land, during a heavy falling of rain,
after a long drought? And who is for knowing that Bethlehem
is not the place, and that this is not the night of the day of the
days? Brighid, Brighid, the woman Mary must be the mother
of the Prince, who is to save all mankind out of evil and pain
and death!’

And with that he rose and beckoned to her to follow. They
took a lantern, and made their way through the drowsing
camels and asses and horses, and past the byres where the kye
lowed gently, and so to the stable.


                                          139

Sure that is a bright light they are having,’ Dùghall muttered
uneasily: for, truly, it was as though the shed were a shell
filled with the fires of sunrise.

Lightly they pushed back the door. When they saw what they
saw they fell upon their knees. Mary sat, with her heavenly
beauty upon her like sunshine on a dusk land: in her lap, a
Babe, laughing sweet and low.

Never had they seen a Child so fair. He was as though
wrought of light.

‘Who is it?’ murmured Dùghall Donn, of Joseph, who stood
near, with rapt eyes.

‘It is the Prince of Peace.’

And with that Mary smiled, and the Child slept.

‘Brighid, my sister dear’—and, as she whispered this, Mary
held the little one to Bride.

The fair girl took the Babe in her arms, and covered it with
her mantle. Therefore it is that she is known to this day as
Brighde-nam-Bratj, St. Bride of the Mantle.

And all through that night, while the mother slept, Bride
nursed the Child, with tender hands and croodling crooning
songs. And this was one of the songs that she sang:

                        Ah, Baby Christ, so dear to me,
                        Sang Bridget Bride:
                        How sweet thou art,
                        My baby dear.
                        Heart of my heart!

                        Heavy her body was with thee,
                        Mary, beloved of One in Three,
                        Sang Bridget Bride—
                        Mary, who bore thee, little lad:
                        But light her heart was, light and glad
                        With God’s love clad.


                                          140

                        Sit on my knee,
                        Sang Bridget Bride:
                        Sit here
                        O Baby dear,
                        Close to my heart, my heart
                        For I thy foster-mother am.
                        My helpless lamb!
                        O have no fear,
                        Sang good St Bride.

                        ‘None, none,
                        No fear have I:
                        So let me cling
                        Close to thy side
                        While thou dost sing,
                        O Bridget Bride!’

                        My Lord, my Prince I sing:
                        My baby dear, my King!
                        Sang Bridget Bride.

It was on this night that far away in Iona the Arch-Druid
Cathal died. But before the breath went from him he had his
vision of joy, and his last words were:

            Brighde ’dol air a glun,
            Righ nan dul a shuidh ’na h-uchd!
            (Bridget Bride upon her knee,
            The King of the Elements asleep on her breast!)

On the coming of dawn Mary awoke, and took the Child. She
kissed Bride upon the brows, and said this thing to her:
‘Brighid, my sister dear, thou shalt be known unto all time as
Muime Chriosd.’


                                          141

                                          IV

No sooner had Mary spoken than Bride fell into a deep sleep.
So profound was this slumber that when Dughall Donn came
to see to the wayfarers, and to tell them that the milk and the
porridge were ready for the breaking of their fast, he could
get no word of her at all. She lay in the clean yellow straw
beneath the manger, where Mary had laid the Child. Dùghall
stared in amaze. There was no sign of the mother, nor of the
Babe that was the Prince of Peace, nor of the douce quiet
man that was Joseph the carpenter. As for Bride, she not
only slept so sound that no word of his fell against her ears,
but she gave him awe. For as he looked at her he saw that
she was surrounded by a glowing light. Something in his
heart shaped itself into a prayer, and he knelt beside her,
sobbing low. When he rose, it was in peace. Mayhap an
angel had comforted his soul in its dark shadowy haunt of his
body.

It was late when Bride awoke, though she did not open her
eyes, but lay dreaming. For long she thought she was in
Tir-Tairngire, the Land of Promise, or wandering on the
honey-sweet plain of Magh-Mell: for the wind of dreamland
brought exquisite odours to her, and in her ears was a most
marvellous sweet singing.

All round her there was a music of rejoicing. Voices, lovelier
than any she had ever heard, resounded; glad voices full of
praise and joy. There was a pleasant tumult of harps and
trumpets, and as from across blue hills and over calm water
came the sound of the bagpipes. She listened with tears. Loud
and glad were the pipes at times full of triumph, as when the
heroes of old marched with Cuculain or went down to battle
with Fionn: again, they were low and sweet, like the humming
of bees when the heather is heavy with the honey-ooze. The

                                          142
songs and wild music of the angels lulled her into peace : for
a time no thought of the woman Mary came to her, nor of the
Child that was her foster-child.

Suddenly it was in her mind as though the pipes played the
chant that is called the ‘Aoibhneas a Shlighe,’ ‘the joy of his
way,’ a march played before a bridegroom going to his bride.
Out of this glad music came a solitary voice, like a child
singing on the hillside.

‘The way of wonder shall be thine, O Brighid-Naomha!’

This was what the child-voice sang. Then it was as though
all the harpers of the west were playing ‘air clàrsach’: and
the song of a multitude of voices was this:

‘Blessed art thou, O Brighid, who didst nurse the King of
the Elements in thy bosom : blessed thou, the Virgin Sister of
the Virgin Mother, for unto all time thou shalt be called Muime
Chriosd, the Foster-Mother of Jesus that is the Christ.’

With that, Bride remembered all, and opened her eyes. Naught
strange was there to see, save that she lay in the stable. Then
as she noted that the gloaming had come, she wondered at the
soft light that prevailed in the shed, though no lamp or candle
burned there. In her ears, too, still lingered a wild and
beautiful music.

It was strange. Was it all a dream, she pondered. But even
as she thought thus, she saw half of her mantle lying upon the
straw in the manger. Much she marvelled at this, but when
she took the garment in her hand she wondered more. For
though it was no more than a half of the poor mantle where-
with she had wrapped the Babe, it was all wrought with
mystic gold lines and with precious stones more glorious than
ever Arch-Druid or Island Prince had seen. The marvel gave
her awe at last, when, as she placed the garment upon her
shoulder, it covered her completely.

She knew now that she had not dreamed, and that a miracle
was done. So with gladness she went out of the stable, and
into the inn. Dùghall Donn was amazed when he saw her,
and then rejoiced exceedingly.


                                          143

‘Why are you so merry, my father?’ she asked.

‘Sure it is glad that I am. For now the folk will be laughing
the wrong way. This very morning I was so pleased with the
pleasure, that while the pot was boiling on the peats I went
out and told every one I met that the Prince of Peace was come,
and had just been born in the stable behind the “Rest and Be
Thankful.” Well, that saying was just like a weasel among the
rabbits, only it was an old toothless weasel: for all Bethlehem
mocked me, some with jeers, some with hard words, and some
with threats. Sure, I cursed them right and left. No, not for
all my cursing—and by the blood of my fathers, I spared no
man among them, wishing them sword and fire, the black
plague and the grey death—would they believe. So back it
was that I came, and going through the inn I am come to the
stable. ‘Sorrow is on me like a grey mist,’ said Oissin, mourn-
ing for Oscur, and sure it was a grey mist that was on me when
not a sign of man, woman, or child was to be seen, and you so
sound asleep that a March gale in the Moyle wouldn’t have
roused you. Well, I went back, and told this thing, and all the
people in Bethlehem mocked at me. And the Elders of the
People came at last, and put a fine upon me: and condemned
me to pay three barrels of good ale, and a sack of meal, and
three thin chains of gold, each three yards long : and this for
causing a false rumour, and still more for making a laughing-
stock of the good folk of Bethlehem. There was a man called
Murdoch-Dhu, who is the chief smith in Nazareth, and it’s him
I’m thinking will have laughed the Elders into doing this hard
thing.’

It was then that Bride was aware of a marvel upon her, for she
blew an incantation off the palm of her hand, and by that frith
she knew where the dues were to be found.

‘By what I see in the air that is blown off the palm of my hand,
father, I bid you go into the cellar of the inn. There you will
find three barrels full of good ale, and beside them a sack of
meal, and the sack is tied with three chains of gold, each three
yards long.’


                                          144

But, while Dùghall Donn went away rejoicing, and found that
which Bride had foretold, she passed out into the street. None
saw her in the gloaming, or as she went towards the Gate of
the East When she passed by the Lazar-house she took her
mantle off her back and laid it in the place of offerings. All
the jewels and fine gold passed into invisible birds with
healing wings: and these birds flew about the heads of the
sick all night, so that at dawn every one arose, with no ill upon
him, and went on his way rejoicing. As each went out of
Bethlehem that morning of the mornings he found a clean
white robe and new sandals at the first mile; and, at the
second, food and cool water; and, at the third, a gold piece and
a staff.

The guard that was at the Eastern Gate did not hail Bride.
All the gaze of him was upon a company of strange men, shep-
herd-kings, who said they had come out of the East led by a
star. They carried rare gifts with them when they first came
to Bethlehem: but no man knew whence they came, what they
wanted, or whither they went.

For a time Bride walked along the road that leads to Nazareth.
There was fear in her gentle heart when she heard the howling
of hyenas down in the dark hollows, and she was glad when the
moon came out and shone quietly upon her.

In the moonlight she saw that there were steps in the dew
before her. She could see the black print of feet in the silver
sheen on the wet grass, for it was on a grassy hill that she now
walked, though a day ago every leaf and sheath there had lain
brown and withered. The foot-prints she followed were those
of a woman and of a child.

All night through she tracked those wandering feet in the dew.
They were always fresh before her, and led her away from the
villages, and also where no wild beasts prowled through the
gloom. There was no weariness upon her, though often she
wondered when she should see the fair wondrous face she
sought Behind her also were footsteps in the dew, though
she knew nothing of them. They were those of the Following

                                          145
Love. And this was the Lorgadh-Bhrighde of which men speak
to this day: the Quest of the holy St Bride.

All night she walked; now upon the high slopes of a hill.
Never once did she have a glimpse of any figure in the moon-
light, though the steps in the dew before her were newly made,
and none lay in the glisten a short way ahead.

Suddenly she stopped. There were no more footprints. Eagerly
she looked before her. On a hill beyond the valley beneath her
she saw the gleaming of yellow stars. These were the lights
of a city. ‘Behold, it is Jerusalem,’ she murmured, awe-struck,
for she had never seen the great town.

Sweet was the breath of the wind that stirred among the olives
on the mount where she stood. It had the smell of heather,
and she could hear the rustle of it among the bracken on a hill
close by.

‘Truly, this must be the Mount of Olives,’ she whispered, ‘The
Mount of which I have heard my father speak, and that must
be the hill called Calvary.’

But even as she gazed marvelling, she sighed with new wonder:
for now she saw that the yellow stars were as the twinkling of
the fires of the sun along the crest of a hill that is set against
the east. There was a living joy in the dawntide. In her ears
was a sweet sound of the bleating of ewes and lambs. From
the hollows in the shadow came the swift singling rush of the
flowing tide. Faint cries of the herring gulls filled the air: from
the weedy boulders by the sea the skuas called wailingly.
Bewildered, she stood intent If only she could see the foot-
prints again, she thought Whither should she turn, whither
go? At her feet was a yellow flower. She stooped and
plucked it.

‘Tell me, O little sun-flower, which way shall I be going?’
and as she spoke a small golden bee flew up from the heart
of it, and up the hill to the left of her. So it is that from that
day the dandelion is called am-Bèarnàn-Bhrighde.

Still she hesitated. Then a sea-bird flew by her with a loud
whistling cry.


                                          146

‘Tell me, O eisireùn,’ she called, ‘which way shall I be going?’
And at this the eisireùn swerved in its flight, and followed the
golden bee, crying, ‘This way, O Bride, Bride, Bride, Bride,
Bri-i-i-ide!’

So it is that from that day the oyster-catcher has been called
the Gille-Bhrigde, the Servant of St. Bridget

Then it was that Bride said this rune:

            Dia romham ;
            Moire am dheaghuidh;
            ’S am Mac a thug Righ nan Dul!
            Mis’ air do shlios, a Dhia,
            Is Dia ma’m luirg.
            Mac’ ‘oire, a’s Righ nan Dul,
            A shoillseachadh gach ni dheth so,
            Le a ghras, mu’m choinneamh.

            God before me;
            The Virgin Mary after me;
            And the Son sent by the King of the Elements.
            I am to windward of thee, O God!
            And God on my footsteps.
            May the Son of Mary, King of the Elements,
            Reveal the meaning of each of these things
            Before me, through His grace.

And as she ended she saw before her two quicken-trees, of
which the boughs were interwrought so that they made an
arch. Deep in the green foliage was a white merle that sang
a wondrous sweet song. Above it the small branches were
twisted into the shape of a wreath or crown, lovely with the
sunlit rowan-clusters, from whose scarlet berries red drops as
of blood fell.

Before her flew a white dove, all aglow as with golden light.
She followed, and passed beneath the quicken arch.

Sweet was the song of the merle, that was then no more: sweet
the green shadow of the rowans, that now grew straight as

                                          147
young pines. Sweet the far song in the sky, where the white
dove flew against the sun.

Bride looked, and her eyes were glad. Bonnie the blooming of
the heather on the slopes of Dun-I. Iona lay green and gold,
isled in her blue waters. From the sheiling of Dùvach, her
father, rose a thin column of pale blue smoke. The collies,
seeing her, barked loudly with welcoming joy.

The bleating of the sheep, the lowing of the kye, the breath of
the salt wind from the open sea beyond, the song of the flowing
tide in the Sound beneath: dear the homing.

With a strange light in her eyes she moved down through
         the heather and among the green bracken: white,
                                wonderful, fair to see.

                                    FIONA MACLEOD.

DER ZEITGEIST

BY PITTENDRIGH MACGILLIVRAY

MAYA

Page with ornament
The Database of Ornament

        THE Earth is a perishing patch of dust
            In the ruinous drift of Things;
        Yet the sensate motes on its crumbling crust
            Are vain of their Summers and Springs.

        And man in his moment of vanishing years —
            That is gone while a flash goes by—
        Finds an epic of long-drawn hopes and fears,
            And is weary or ever he die!

                                                            WILLIAM MACDONALD.

MLA citation:

The Evergreen: A Northern Seasonal, vol. 2, Autumn 1895. Evergreen Digital Edition, edited by Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, 2016-2018. Yellow Nineties 2.0, General Editor Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, Ryerson University Centre for Digital Humanities, 2019. https://1890s.ca/egv2_all/