CHISWICK PRESS:—CHARLES WHITTINGHAM AND CO., TOOKS COURT,
CHANCERY LANE, LONDON.
BEAUTY’S HOUR. A Phantasy By O. SHAKESPEAR. (In Two Parts) . 11
WILLIAM BLAKE AND HIS ILLUSTRATIONS TO THE DIVINE
II. His Opinions on Dante. (The Second of Three Articles by
W.B. YEATS) . . . . . . . . . 25
“VENITE, DESCENDAMUS.” A Poem by ERNEST DOWSON . . . 41
TWO FOOLISH HEARTS. A Scene of Rustic Life By GEORGE MORLEY . 45
IN PIOUS MOOD. A Translation by OSMAN EDWARDS into English Verse
of EMILE VERHAEREN’S Poem “Pieusement” . . . . . 56
FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE—III. (The Third of Three Articles by
HAVELOCK ELLIS) . . . . . . . . . 57
STELLA MALIGNA. A Poem by ARTHUR SYMONS . . . . 64
THE DYING OF FRANCIS DONNE A Study. By ERNEST DOWSON . 66
THREE SONNETS. (Hawker of Morwenstow.—Mother Ann: Foundress of
the Shakers.—Münster: A.D. 1534.) By LIONEL JOHNSON . . . 75
THE GINGERBREAD FAIR AT VINCENNES. A Colour Study.
By ARTHUR SYMONS . . . . . . . . 79
THE SONG OF THE WOMEN. A Wealden Trio. By FORD MADOX
HUEFFER . . . . . . . . . . 85
DOCTOR AND PATIENT. An Story by RUDOLF DIRCKS . . . 87
A LITERARY CAUSERIE:—On a Book of Verses. By ARTHUR SYMONS . 91
NOTE . . . . . . . . . . . . 94
COVER . . Designed by AUBREY BEARDSLEY . . . 1
TITLE PAGE . . Designed by AUBREY BEARDSLEY . . 5
THE NOVEL. A Lithograph by T.R. WAY . . . . . 9
DANTE AND UBERTI. After an unpublished Water-Colour Drawing by
WILLIAM BLAKE . . . . . . . . . 27
THE CIRCLE OF THIEVES. After the rare Engraving by WILLIAM
BLAKE . . . . . . . . . . . 31
DANTE AND VIRGIL CLIMBING THE FOOT OF THE MOUNTAIN OF
After an unpublished Water-Colour Drawing by WILLIAM BLAKE . 35
DANTE, VIRGIL, AND STATIUS
After an unpublished Water-Colour Drawing by WILLIAM BLAKE . 39
A FRONTISPIECE TO BALZAC’S “LA FILLE AUX YEUX D’OR.”
A Wood-Engraving after an unpublished Crayon Drawing by CHARLES
CONDER . . . . . . . . . . . 43
A FAIR AT CHARTRES. After a Pen-and-Ink Drawing by JOSEPH PENNELL 78
A VIGNETTE By WILLIAM T. HORTON . . . . . . 85
A CUL-DE-LAMPE By WILLIAM T. HORTON . . . . . 86
The Whole of the Reproductions in this Volume, in line and half-tone blocks, and the
Wood Engraving, are by MR. PAUL NAUMANN.
I REMEMBER very well the first time the strange thing
happened to me : on a winter’s day in January. I reached
home tired, and sat down in front of the looking-glass to
take off my hat ; and remained looking, as I so often do, at
my own unsatisfactory face.
Gerald Harman had come up to his mother’s study
that afternoon, while I was at work after lunch ; ostensibly on business ;
really, because there was a frost which had driven him from Leicestershire
to London, leaving him with nothing to do ; and we had begun talking
of irrelevant matters.
“A woman must be good,” he said reflectively.
“Only a plain woman,” said I. “Who has been behaving ill now?”
“I was generalizing ; or, to be frank, I was thinking of Bella Sturgis.”
“So am I. You surely don’t expect her to possess all the virtues, and
that face ?”
“To be sure, the face is enough,” answered he ; and sat staring full at
me ; but thinking, as I knew, of Bella Sturgis.
“Does she amuse you ?” I asked.
“Amuse me?” said Gerald. “I’m sure I can’t say. One doesn’t think
about being amused when one is with her.”
“She just exists, and that’s enough,” I suggested.
Possibly my voice was ironical ; for Gerald looked at me then, with a
sort of jerk.
“She’s not intellectual, and she’s not really sympathetic, and I don’t like
her one quarter as much as I do you, Mary,” said he.
Now it is an understood thing that he is not to call me Mary ; and so I
reminded him ; but he only answered that we had been over the ground
12 THE SAVOY
before, and that it was time I owned myself defeated. I was beginning to
remark that nothing short of death would induce me to do so, when Lady
Harman came in, and Gerald was somewhat abruptly dismissed.
“I wish that idle, mischievous boy would marry Bella, and settle down,”
“Yes,” said I, and went on writing.
“Why, Mary, how ill you look!” she cried then. “Is anything the
I hate being told I look ill ; it only means that I look ugly : but I
answered cheerfully, “Nothing in the world ;” and she, being easily satisfied,
went off to another subject, which lasted till it was time for me to go away.
The post of secretary to Lady Harman was not altogether a bed of roses :
she has a wide range of interests, and a soft heart ; but her other faculties are
not quite in proportion. I was generally weary, by the time I reached home,
with the endeavour to reconcile her promises and her practice in the eyes of
the world—that most censorious of worlds, the philanthropic.
I repeated Gerald’s words as I sat before the glass in my bedroom. “To
be sure, the face is enough,” he had said.
My own face, pale, with no salient points to make it even impressively
ugly, gave me back the speech as I uttered it. I have neither eyelashes, nor
distinction ; I do not look clever, or even amiable ; my figure is not worthy
of the name ; and my hands and feet are hopeless.
The concentrated bitterness of years swept over me ; I loved Gerald
Harman, as Bella Sturgis, with her perfect face, was incapable of loving ; but
my love was rendered grotesque by the accident of birth which had made me
an unattractive woman. Given beauty, or even the personal fascination, which
so often persuades one that it is beauty, I could have held my own against
the world, in spite of my poverty, my lack of friends, or of social position.
As things were, I saw myself condemned to a sordid monotony ; ever at a
disadvantage ; cheated of my youth, and of nearly all life’s sweeter possi-
bilities. I was considered clever, by the Harmans, it is true ; but the world
in general, had it noticed me at all, would have refused to believe that such a
face as mine could harbour brains. Gerald, I knew, had proclaimed in the
family that Mary Gower had wits ; and looked on me as his own special
discovery : for though I had but a plain head on my shoulders, it was an
accurate thinking machine ; and could occasionally produce a phrase worthy
of his laughter.
I have a certain dreary sense of humour which prevents my being, as a
BEAUTY’S HOUR 13
rule, quite overwhelmed by this aspect of my life ; but on the January after-
noon of which I write, I was fairly mastered by it ; and when Miss Whateley
came up to light the gas, which she generally did herself, she found me with
my head on the dressing-table, in an attitude of abject despair. Miss Whateley
was my landlady ; and had been my governess in better days.
“My dear,” said she, “what ‘s the matter ?”
“Only my face,” said I.
“Glycerine is the best thing,” said she, and began pulling the curtains.
She knew perfectly well what I meant.
“Whatty,” said I, musingly, “how different my life would be if I were a
pretty woman—though only for a few hours out of the twenty-four.”
“Oh, yes,” she answered. “Yet you might be glad sometimes when the
hours were over.”
I only shook my head ; and fell to looking into my own eyes again,
with the yearning, stronger than it had ever been before, rising like a passion
into my face.
Then something unforeseen happened : Miss Whateley, standing behind
me, saw it ; and I saw it myself as in a dream. My reflected face grew
blurred, and then faded out ; and from the mist there grew a new face, of
wonderful beauty ; the face of my desire. It looked at me from the glass,
and when I tried to speak, its lips moved too. Miss Whateley uttered a
sound that was hardly a cry, and caught me by the shoulder.
“Mary—Mary—” she said.
I got up then and faced her ; she was white as death, and her eyes
were almost vacant with terror.
“What has happened ?” said I.
My voice was the same ; but when I glanced down at my body, I saw
that it also had undergone transformation. It struck me, in the midst of my
immense surprise, as being curious that I should not be afraid. No explana-
tion of the miracle offered itself to me ; none seemed necessary : an effort of
will had conquered the power of my material conditions, and I controlled
them ; my body fitted to my soul at last.
“I’m going mad !” cried poor Miss Whateley.
“We can’t both be mad,” said I. “Don’t be afraid ; tell me what I look
“You are perfectly beautiful,” she gasped.
I began walking up and down the room : I was much taller, and my
dress hung clear of my ankles ; when I noticed that, I began to laugh.
14 THE SAVOY
“Whatty, I’ve grown,” I cried out.
She sat down. “Do you feel strange ?” she asked.
“Just the same ; only a little larger for my clothes. What are we going
to do ? Will it last ?”
“I think you had better just sit down again, and wish yourself back.”
“Never, never. If beautiful I can be, beautiful I will remain. Let us
put down the hour and the date.”
I took up my diary, and made a great cross against the day ; then
I noticed that the sun set at twenty-seven minutes past four ; it was now
twenty-five minutes to five.
“I wonder what we can do to prove to ourselves that we’ve not been
dreaming, if I go back again ?” I questioned.
“Let us first spend the evening as usual,” answered Miss Whateley.
“I will tell Jane that you are out, and that a young lady is coming to supper
Jane was our one servant : her powers of observation were limited ; and
we did not think it would be difficult to deceive her. So the stranger, whose
appearance seemed to bereave her of even her usual small allowance of
sense, sat that night at Miss Whateley’s table ; at ten o’clock we slipped up to
my bedroom ; and when Jane’s tread was heard in the room above, we
“She’s gone to bed,” said I. “Now we can brew tea, and keep ourselves
awake. We must not sleep ; that is imperative.”
We did not sleep ; though to poor Miss Whateley, who had no sense of a
triumphant new personality to sustain her, the task must have been difficult.
Then, suddenly, at the hour of sunrise, I felt a sensation as of being in
darkness, in thick cloud ; from which I emerged with my beauty fallen from
me like a garment.
We neither of us said anything. I was conscious only of a physical
craving for rest and sleep, which overpowered me : I think Miss Whateley
was struck dumb in the presence of a wonder she could not understand. We
kissed one another silently ; and I went to bed and slept for a couple of hours,
a dreamless sleep.
BEAUTY’S HOUR 15
When I reached Lady Harman’s that morning, I found the two girls, Clara
and Betty, alone in their mother’s study.
Betty, with the face of a Romney, and the manners of an engaging child,
is wholly attractive : Clara is handsome too ; she rather affects a friendship
with me on intellectual grounds, which bores me : her theories are the terror
of my life, being always in direct opposition to my own, for which I have to
try and account.
But on this particular morning she had nothing more momentous on her
mind than a dance, which her mother was giving the next evening.
“You must come to it,” Betty cried. “It will be such fun talking it over
afterwards. Onlookers always see most of the game, you know.”
“You are very kind, Betty,” I said. They had long ago insisted that I
should call them by their Christian names. “Has it ever struck you that
onlookers would sometimes like to be in the game, instead of outside it ?”
Betty looked a little confused.
“Well, somebody must look on,” said she. “And it’s lucky when they
see how funny things are ; as you always do, Mary.”
“Is there any particular game going on just now ?” I inquired. “Can I
be of any use ?”
“There’s Bella,” said both girls.
I was very anxious to know the precise sum of Bella’s iniquities. I
shoved away my papers with an entire lack of conscience ; and sat expectant.
“Of course Bella is very young,” Clara began : she being about twenty-
one herself. “One mustn’t judge her too hardly.”
“Has she been doing anything you would not have done yourself?” I asked.
Betty looked at me, and raised her eyebrows. Clara was apt to pose as an
example to her younger sister.
“Well,” said Clara, “if I were engaged to someone as nice as Gerald, and
handsome, and well off, and all the rest of it, I don’t think I’d encourage a little
wretch like Mr. Trench.”
Clara’s social ethics are of a wonderful simplicity.
“Because you’d think it wrong ?” I suggested.
“Well—so silly,” said Clara.
“I think Bella has a perfect right to do as she likes,” broke in Betty.
16 THE SAVOY
“She ‘s not engaged to Gerald ; he hasn’t proposed to her ; and he ought to, for
she ‘s awfully fond of him.”
“I agree with you both,” said I. “Miss Sturgis is silly, but not altogether
to be blamed. Am I to observe her and Mr. Trench together, and report the
phases of the flirtation to you ?”
Yes : that was what they wanted.
“Do you seriously think I’m coming to your dance ?” I went on. “Why,
I haven’t got a dress, or a face fit to show in a ball-room ; and I’ve not been to
a ball for years.”
They fought this statement inch by inch : they would lend me a dress ;
my face didn’t matter ; and after all, I was only twenty-eight, not really old.
I ended the discussion by promising to go ; for an idea had flashed into my
mind, that made me dizzy.
Supposing the other, the beautiful Mary, renewed her existence again that
evening, might she not enjoy a strange, a brief triumph? Would there not be a
perfect, though a secret pleasure in seeing the look in Gerald Harman’s eyes,
in surprising the altered tones of his voice? For beauty drew him like a
I fell into such a deep silence over this thought, that Clara and Betty grew
weary, and went away ; and I did not see them again till luncheon-time.
There were three visitors : the man who was in love with Betty, and the
man with whom Betty was in love ; the juxtaposition of the two always
delighted me : I don’t believe they hated one another ; but each believing him-
self to be the favoured lover, had a fine scorn for the other’s folly. The third
guest was Bella Sturgis.
Gerald sat at the end of the table, opposite his mother. As I have said,
the frost kept him from hunting, and he was disconsolate. With him, as with
many finely bred, finely tempered Englishmen, sport was a passion ; more,
a religion. He put into his hunting, his shooting, his cricket, all the ardour,
all the sincerity that are necessary to achievement : I respected this in him,
even while it moved me to a kind of pity ; for I felt instinctively that though
he might have skill and courage to overcome physical difficulties or danger, he
was totally unfitted to cope with the more subtile side of life ; and would be
helpless in the face of an emotional difficulty. On this day of which I write,
he was evidently suffering from some jar to the even tenour of his life ; of which
the continued frost was a merely superficial aggravation.
By his side sat Bella Sturgis : I looked at her with a more critical eye than
usual : she had a great air of languid distinction ; everything about her was
BEAUTY’S HOUR 17
perfect ; from the pose of her head to the intonation of her voice. She very
rarely looked at me, and I don’t think she had ever clearly realized who I was :
I felt sure Gerald had not imparted his discoveries to her with regard to my
wits. I never spoke at luncheon when she was there.
But to-day, the memory of that face in the glass the night before, made me
reckless and audacious.
“I’ve been constituted the girl’s special reporter to-morrow night,” said I
to Gerald. ” I am to observe the faces, and the flirtations.”
“Then you may constitute yourself my special reporter too,” said he,
“It will be the next best thing to dancing,” I went on.
“Why don’t you dance ?” Miss Sturgis asked, lifting her eyes, and
looking at me for an instant.
I confess I was a little surprised at the cleverness of her thrust
“Because nobody asks me,” I said, with a smile.
My candour had no effect on her : she turned to Gerald with an air that
dismissed the whole subject. I noticed that he would hardly answer her ; and
I supposed that the breach between them had widened. So she addressed her-
self to the man with whom Betty was in love ; thereby throwing the table into
a state of suppressed agitation ; with the exception of Lady Harman, who
professed to notice none of the details of domestic life : she left such things to
the girls, or the servants ; and devoted herself to the care of people in Billings-
gate, or in the Tropics, who had need of her, she said. But she was really kind ;
and always had a joint for lunch, “because it was Mary’s dinner ;” and though
I often yearned for the other more interesting dishes, I never dared to suggest
any deviation from beef and mutton : to-day it was mutton.
“Won’t you have some more ?” said Lady Harman. “I can’t help
thinking how much we waste. Some of my poor families would be so glad of
this, and here ‘s only Mary touches it.”
“Oh, mother,” said Betty, “your poor people are always starving ; and a leg
more or less wouldn’t make much difference.”
“What ‘s an arm or a leg, compared with a face ?” said the young man who
was in love with Betty, with his eyes fixed on her. His remark had no direct
bearing on the subject, which he had but half followed ; and it sent her into
a fit of suppressed laughter, with which Clara remonstrated in an under-
“I don’t care,” said the rebellious Betty. “It ‘s Gerald’s house, and as
long as he doesn’t mind my giggling, I shall giggle.”
18 THE SAVOY
“I mind nothing,” said the master of the house. His mood was obviously
overcast. I saw Bella throw a look at him out of her deep eyes ; the eyes of
a woman who has always lived under emotional conditions. I began to realize
dimly what such conditions might be like.
He got up, and pushed his chair from the table.
“Will you excuse me,” said he. “I have an engagement.”
“Do go,” said Lady Harman, “you are always late, Gerald. I’m sure you
ought to go at once.”
Bella held out her hand to him.
“It ‘s au revoir, not good-bye,” said he, and did not take it.
That evening my transformation took place again ; under the same con-
ditions of ardent desire on my part.
“To-morrow,” said I to Miss Whateley, “I shall go to the Harman’s ball
in the character of Mary Hatherley.” Hatherley had been my mother’s maiden
“But you have no dress,” said Miss Whateley. “And how can you
account for yourself?”
“I must do it,” I cried. “You must think of some plan.”
“Let us go,” said she, “to Dr. Trefusis.”
Dr. Trefusis was the only man who had ever loved me. He was my
father’s great friend ; but I feel sure he must once have been in love with my
mother ; at least, I can only account for his great affection for myself, on some
such sentimental hypothesis. When my father died, four years ago, and I
was involved in money difficulties, it was Dr. Trefusis who took me in, and
eventually got me my secretaryship with Lady Harman. He wanted me to
share his home ; but this I refused to do ; believing that his affection for me
would not stand the test of losing his liberty, and his solitude.
When we reached his house, he was out ; and we waited some time in the
“He won’t believe us,” Miss Whateley kept saying ; and this seemed so
likely, that I was shivering with nervousness when he at last came in.
“You won’t believe it,” said Miss Whateley, “but this is Mary Gower.”
BEAUTY’S HOUR 19
He looked very blank ; but recovering his presence of mind, turned to me
“A cousin, I presume, of my old friend, Mary Gower ?”
“Oh, Dr. Trefusis,” cried I, “we have come to you with the most extra-
ordinary story : don’t you know my voice ? I am Mary ; but I have got into
“The voice is Mary’s,” said he, in the tone of one balancing evidence.
Then Miss Whateley began telling him what had happened : while I sat
in silence, watching the mixture of wonder and scepticism on his face. I
noticed also another look, when his eyes met mine, a look that was almost
devout—he had always been a worshipper of beauty.
When the story was done, he began asking questions : my answers seemed
unsatisfactory : we sat at last without speaking, while he looked at me, and
drummed on the table.
“You are very plausible people,” he said, at length ; “but you can’t expect
me to believe all this ; though I’m at a loss to imagine why you should take
the trouble to play such a practical joke on a poor old fellow like myself.
Still, I’ll not be ungracious, and grumble ; for it has given me a great deal of
pleasure to see anything so charming in this dull place.”
He got up, as though he wished to end the interview.
I was in despair : his determination not to recognize me struck like a
blow at my sense of identity : then the thought came : could I, by a supreme
effort of will, induce a transformation under his very eyes ?
I held out my right hand—long and beautiful ; with delicate fingers, that
yet were full of nervous strength.
“That,” said I, “is not the hand of Mary Gower.” He shrugged his
“It is not,” said he.
“Look at it,” I cried.
Then came an awful moment during which I concentrated my whole will
in a passion of energy ; the room went black ; I was dimly conscious that Dr.
Trefusis had fallen on his knees by the table ; and was watching the hand I
held under the lamp, with suspended breath : for it had begun to change ;
some subtile difference passed over it, like a cloud over the face of the sun :
its beauty of line and colour faded ; the long fingers shrunk, and widened ; the
blue-veined whiteness darkened into a coarser tint ; the fine nails lost their
shape, and grew ugly, stunted, and opaque.
Dr. Trefusis spoke no word : I felt his fingers were ice-cold as he turned
20 THE SAVOY
up my sleeve, and noted how the coarsened wrist grew into the perfect arm ;
he held my hand, and swung it to and fro ; then he left the room abruptly,
saying “don’t move.”
I sat still at the table : Miss Whateley came and stood by me.
“Mary,” she said, “it must be wrong ; it is playing with some terrible
power you don’t understand.”
“Probably we’ve all got it,” I answered dreamily. “It is perhaps a spark
of the creative force—but Dr. Trefusis and all his science won’t be able to
Then the doctor came back, with instruments, and microscopes, and I
know not what, and began to examine the miracle. At last he looked
up at me.
“I can make nothing of it,” said he. “But it is the hand of Mary Gower.
That is beyond dispute. Now let it go back.”
He held it in his own : this time the change was quicker ; and he dropped
it with a shudder.
“Now do you believe me ?” I asked.
He answered, “yes ;” and sat lost in thought.
“You had better go home now,” he said presently. “I must think over
all this ; there must be some hypothesis—miracles don’t happen—you must let
me see you every day.”
I never have understood, and never shall understand, the scientific theories
which he had first built up, in order to account for what had happened to me.
I was grateful for the curiosity and interest that my case roused in him,
because they led him to help me in practical ways ; but any attempt at
a scientific explanation of the mystery struck me as being irrelevant, and not
particularly interesting. This attitude on my part at once amused, and
irritated him ; he gave up trying to make me understand the meaning of his
investigations ; and of the experiments which he made me try ; for it was not
till later, that he came to look upon the matter as beyond any scientific solu-
tion ; and only to be accounted for on grounds which he would at first have
rejected with scorn.
I pass these things over ; because I could not write of them intelligibly,
and I might be doing Dr. Trefusis some injustice by an imperfect exposition.
On this occasion, I burst in suddenly, and scattered his reflections by
declaring that I must go to the Harman’s ball the next night, in my new
The idea seemed to divert him.
BEAUTY’S HOUR 21
“Ha !” said he. “Mary Gower wants to taste the sweets of success,
does she ! Upon my soul, it would be worth seeing you, my dear. But
it would be difficult to account for the sudden rising of such a star.”
“Not if you took me, and chaperoned, and uncled me,” I said.
He took a turn or two in the room.
“Why not ?” he said then, with a laugh.
“Oh, Dr. Trefusis, would you really !” I cried out, and seized him by
He held them and looked at me oddly ; he is a man of nearly sixty, and
my old friend ; so I could not be angry when he bent down and kissed me.
“I would do anything for a pretty woman,” said he.
I felt a sudden pang : this was the first tribute offered to my beauty,
and it hurt. Was Mary Gower beginning already to be jealous of Mary
We settled the matter, with jests and laughter. Dr. Trefusis has the
spirit of a child, and the capacity for making abrupt transitions from the
serious to the absurd ; and he now entered into the plot as though it were
a game ; as though nothing had happened to unnerve and startle him but
a short time before. I was to be his niece, a niece from the country ; if further
inquiries were made, and my non-appearance during the day had to be
accounted for, I was to be a devoted art student ; an eccentric ; who gave her
days to painting, and her evenings to pleasure. Miss Whateley’s faint
objections were soon silenced : we parted with a promise to meet the next
morning ; when the Harman household would be upset and I should not
be wanted ; to choose a ball dress.
“Not that that face of yours needs any artificial setting,” were his last
“I only hope you won’t repent all this,” were Miss Whateley’s, as
we went up to bed.
My father had taken me, as a young girl, to balls: I had sat out unnoticed,
but observant ; and it had seemed to me that, under apparently artificial con-
ditions, women grouped themselves into three distinct types ; which were
almost primitive in their lack of complexity. The beauty ; the woman
whose claims to beauty are not universally acknowledged ; and the plain
22 THE SAVOY
The beauty always pleased me the most: she was unconscious; using her
divine right of sovereignty with a carelessness only possible to one born in the
purple ; experience had bred in her a certainty of pleasing that made her
indifferent to the effect she produced ; which indifference made her the more
effective. That she had her secret moments of scorn, I never doubted ; a scorn
of that lust of the eye which held her beauty too dear ; and I wondered
whether any such woman had ever felt tempted in some moment of outraged
emotion, to curse the loveliness that men loved, careless of the heart, or head.
The woman with disputable claims annoyed me : she seemed to me like
a queen dependent on the humour of the mob, from whose brows the uneasy
crown might be torn, and trampled under foot ; and then replaced at a caprice.
She was uncertain of herself; too much affected by the opinions of others to be
easy or unconscious. I was sorry for her too; I felt sure that she often married
the man who thought her beautiful, out of gratitude ; for she was always
unduly grateful ; her attitude towards the world being one of mingled
depreciation and assertion.
As for the plain woman, had I not stood hand in hand with her outside
the gates of Paradise all my life, the angel with the two-edged sword looking
on us, with eyes that held both pity and satire ! Oh, kind angel—stand aside,
and let us look through the bars, and see gracious figures going to and fro ;
and listen to strange music, and to the sound of voices moved by a keen,
sweet passion. We look ; we fall back ; and know the angel by his several
names : Fate : Injustice : Mercy.
I had always recognized the subtile emotional intoxicant that is distilled
from the atmosphere of a ball-room. It seemed to come in great waves about
me, as I walked up the Harman’s ball-room, followed by Dr. Trefusis.
He had written for permission to bring his niece, and they were prepared
to see me. No, I am wrong ; they were not prepared. Lady Harman was
visibly taken aback ; and Clara and Betty had something deferential in their
manner, which showed a desire to be unusually pleasing. Then Gerald came
forward. His eyes met mine, with the look of one who sees something he has
long sought, and despaired of finding.
“Can you spare me a dance—” he asked, pausing at the name.
“My name is Hatherley,” said I.
My voice struck him ; he glanced at me with a puzzled expression, and
hesitated—for a moment.
“I must have more than one,” he said.
BEAUTY’S HOUR 21
That was so like Gerald, I nearly laughed.
“The page is blank, you see,” I answered.
He took advantage of my remark, and wrote his name several times in
my programme. I have the programme still.
Dancing had begun again : a crowd had emerged from the stairs
and the anterooms. A number of men were introduced to me ; some of
whom I had already seen at the house. The first with whom I danced was a
Colonel Weston ; I knew him, on Betty’s authority, to be a beautiful dancer,
but he was a head shorter than I, and I smiled involuntarily when he said,
“Shall we dance ?”
He caught my smile.
“Why are you so divinely tall, O daughter of the gods ?” said he.
“And from what Olympian height have you descended this evening? Why
have I never met you before ?”
“I will answer no questions,” said I, “till we have danced. My feet ache
“Then they don’t dance on Olympus ?”
“The gods must come among the mortals to make merry,” I said.
“For which thing let us be thankful,” he answered. Then we moved
away : I had been hitherto a bad dancer, but to-night I felt a spirit in my
feet ; and realized, for the first time, the mysterious joy of perfect motion. As
we paused near the door, I saw Bella Sturgis coming slowly up the stairs.
She did not take her eyes off me ; I saw her question the man on whose arm
she was leaning ; but he looked at me, without answering. It was a revelation,
that look in their eyes ; I saw it repeated, in other faces, over and over again,
as I walked slowly across the ball-room after the dance was over.
The next was with Gerald : my pulses beat thickly, and I was hardly
conscious of the outside world, till we stopped dancing, and he led me into a
little room, which I did not at the moment recognize as Lady Harman’s study.
“And so I have met you at last,” he said ; and I asked him what he
“Yours is the face I have been looking for all my life,” he answered.
There was a strange simplicity in his voice, and words ; as though he spoke
on an impulse that overruled all conventions, all fear of offence.
“But what of the woman behind the face ?” I questioned.
“Can I ever hope to know her ?”
“If you know her, you will be disappointed : she is like any other
24 THE SAVOY
He shook his head.
“I don’t believe it. Tell me what she is really like.”
I looked round vaguely, my thoughts intent on what I should say to him :
then I suddenly noticed the pictures on the walls, and remembered that this
was the room in which Mary Gower sat every day.
“She is not without heart, and she has a head that can think,” said I.
“That is not like every other woman.”
“Would you credit her with either, if she had another face ?” I asked him.
Something in my voice struck him, for the second time ; he looked at
me, with a quickened attention.
“The face is an indication of the soul, surely,” he answered.
“That is a lie,” said I. “A lie invented to cover the injustice done alike
to the beautiful woman, and the woman who is not beautiful.”
“Injustice ?” he echoed.
“The thing is so simple,” said I, with a bitterness I could not hide.
“You place beauty on a pedestal ; her face is an index to her soul, you say :
what happens if you find she does not possess the soul, which she never claimed
to have, but which you insisted on crediting her with ? You dethrone her
with ignominy. The case of the other woman is as hard : she has a face that
does not attract you, so you deny her the soul that you forced on the other
one. She goes through life, branded ; not by individuals, I allow, but by
public opinion. The vox populi is the voice of nature, ’tis true ; but nature is
very hard, very ruthless.”
I stopped : Gerald sat looking at me, with a rapt gaze, but I saw he had
not listened to a word I said. The Hungarian band had begun playing again
in the ball-room. As I listened, and watched the phantastic whirl of the dancers
through the open door, they seemed to me to symbolize the burden of all the
ages : desire and satiety ; illusion and reality ; dancing hand in hand, to a
music wild and tender as love ; sad and stern as life : partners that look ever
in one another’s eyes, and dance on, in despite of what they see.
“Let us go and dance too,” said Gerald.
I have no very clear recollection of the rest of that evening : there was
unreality in the air, and a glamour, and an aching pain. Men and women said
gracious things to me ; yet seemed to watch me with cruel faces ; I was only
conscious, at the last, of an imperative desire to fly, to hide myself, to escape
even from Gerald’s presence ; and to be alone.
( To be continued.)
WILLIAM BLAKE AND HIS ILLUSTRATIONS TO THE DIVINE COMEDY
II. HIS OPINIONS ON DANTE
AS Blake sat bent over the great drawing-book, in which he
made his designs to “The Divine Comedy,” he was very
certain that he and Dante represented spiritual states which
face one another in an eternal enmity. Dante, because a
great poet, was “inspired by the Holy Ghost” ; but his
inspiration was mingled with a certain philosophy, blown
up out of his age, which Blake held for mortal and the enemy of immortal
things, and which from the earliest times has sat in high places and ruled the
world. This philosophy was the philosophy of soldiers, of men of the world,
of priests busy with government, of all who, because of their absorption in
active life, have been persuaded to judge and to punish ; and partly also,
he admitted, the philosophy of Christ ; who, in descending into the world, had
to take on the world ; who, in being born of Mary, a symbol of the law in
Blake’s symbolic language, had to ” take after his mother,” and drive the
money-changers out of the Temple. Opposed to this was another philosophy,
not made by men of action, drudges of time and space, but by Christ when
wrapped in the divine essence, and by artists and poets, who are taught by the
nature of their craft to sympathize with all living things, and who, the more
pure and fragrant is their lamp, pass the further from all limitations, to come
at last to forget good and evil in an absorbing vision of the happy and the
unhappy. The one philosophy was worldly, and established for the ordering
of the body and the fallen will, and, so long as it did not call its “laws of
prudence” “the laws of God,” was a necessity, because “you cannot have
liberty in this world without what you call moral virtue” ; the other was
divine, and established for the peace of the imagination and the unfallen will,
and, even when obeyed with a too literal reverence, could make men sin against
no higher principality than prudence. He called the followers of the first
26 THE SAVOY
philosophy pagans, no matter by what name they knew themselves ; because
the pagans, as he understood the word pagan, believed more in the outward
life, and in what he called “war, princedom, and victory,” than in the secret
life of the spirit : and the followers of the second philosophy Christians,
because only those whose sympathies had been enlarged and instructed by
art and poetry could obey the Christian command of unlimited forgiveness.
Blake had already found this “pagan” philosophy in Swedenborg, in Milton,
in Wordsworth, in Sir Joshua Reynolds, in many persons, and it had
roused him so constantly and to such angry paradox, that its overthrow
became the signal passion of his life, and filled all he did and thought
with the excitement of a supreme issue. Its kingdom was bound to grow
weaker so soon as life began to lose a little in crude passion and naive
tumult ; but Blake was the first to announce its successor, and he did
this, as must needs be with revolutionists who also have “the law” for
“mother,” with so firm a conviction that the things his opponents held white
were indeed black, and the things they held black indeed white ; with so strong
a persuasion that all busy with government are men of darkness and “some-
thing other than human life” ; with such a fluctuating fire of stormy paradox,
that his phrases seem at times to foreshadow those French mystics who have
taken upon their shoulders the overcoming of all existing things, and say
their prayers “to Lucifer, son of the morning, derided of priests and of kings.”
The kingdom that was passing was, he held, the kingdom of the Tree of
Knowledge ; the kingdom that was coming was the kingdom of the Tree of
Life : men who ate from the Tree of Knowledge wasted their days in anger
against one another, and in taking one another captive in great nets ; men
who sought their food among the green leaves of the Tree of Life condemned
none but the unimaginative and the idle, and those who forget that even
love and death and old age are an imaginative art.
In these opposing kingdoms is the explanation of the petulant
wrote on the margins of the great sketch-book, and of those others, still more
petulant, which Crabb Robinson has treasured in his diary. The sayings about
the forgiveness of sins have no need of further explanation, and are in contrast
with the attitude of that excellent commentator, Herr Hettinger, who, though
Dante swooned from pity at the tale of Francesca, will only “sympathize” with
her “to a certain extent,” being taken in a theological net. “It seems as if
Dante,” Blake wrote, “supposes God was something superior to the Father of
Jesus ; for if he gives rain to the evil and the good, and his sun to the just and
the unjust, he can never have builded Dante’s Hell, nor the Hell of the Bible,
BLAKE’S ILLUSTRATIONS TO THE DIVINE COMEDY 29
as our parsons explain it. It must have been framed by the dark spirit itself,
and so I understand it.” And again, “Whatever task is of vengeance and
whatever is against forgiveness of sin is not of the Father but of Satan, the
accuser, the father of Hell.” And again, and this time to Crabb Robinson,
“Dante saw devils where I saw none. I see good only.” “I have never
known a very bad man who had not something very good about him.”
This forgiveness was not the forgiveness of the theologian who has received a
commandment from afar off; but of the mystical artist-legislator who believes
he has been taught, in a mystical vision, that “the imagination is the man him-
self,” and believes he has discovered in the practice of his art, that without a
perfect sympathy there is no perfect imagination, and therefore no perfect life.
At another moment he called Dante, “an atheist, a mere politician busied
about this world, as Milton was, till, in his old age, he returned to God whom
he had had in his childhood.” “Everything is atheism,” he had already
explained, “which assumes the reality of the natural and unspiritual world.”
Dante, he held, assumed its reality when he made obedience to its laws
the condition of man’s happiness hereafter, and he set Swedenborg beside
Dante in misbelief for calling Nature, “the ultimate of Heaven,” a lowest rung,
as it were, of Jacob’s ladder, instead of a net woven by Satan to entangle
our wandering joys and bring our hearts into captivity. There are certain
curious unfinished diagrams scattered here and there among the now separated
pages of the sketch-book, and of these there is one which, had it had all its
concentric rings filled with names, would have been a systematic exposition of
his animosities, and of their various intensity. It represents Paradise, and in
the midst, where Dante emerges from the earthly Paradise, is written,
“Homer,” and in the next circle, “Swedenborg,” and on the margin these
words : “Everything in Dante’s Paradise shows that he has made the earth the
foundation of all, and its goddess Nature, memory,” memory of sensation, “not
the Holy Ghost. . . . Round Purgatory is Paradise, and round Paradise
vacuum. Homer is the centre of all, I mean the poetry of the heathen.” The
statement that round Paradise is vacuum is a proof of the persistence of his
ideas and of his curiously literal understanding of his own symbols ; for
it is but another form of the charge made against Milton many years
before in “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.” “In Milton the Father is
destiny, the son a ratio of the five senses,” Blake’s definition of the reason
which is the enemy of the imagination, “and the Holy Ghost vacuum.”
Dante, like the Kabalists, symbolized the highest order of created beings by
the fixed stars, and God by the darkness beyond them, the Primum Mobile.
30 THE SAVOY
Blake, absorbed in his very different vision, in which God took always a human
shape, believed that to think of God under a symbol drawn from the outer
world was in itself idolatry ; but that to imagine Him as an unpeopled im-
mensity was to think of Him under the one symbol furthest from His essence;
it being a creation of the ruining reason, “generalizing” away ” the minute
particulars of life.” Instead of seeking God in the deserts of time and space, in
exterior immensities, in what he called “the abstract void,” he believed that the
further he dropped behind him memory of time and space, reason builded
upon sensation, morality founded for the ordering of the world ; and the more
he was absorbed in emotion ; and, above all, in emotion escaped from the impulse
of bodily longing and the restraints of bodily reason, in artistic emotion ; the
nearer did he come to Eden’s “breathing garden,” to use his beautiful phrase,
and to the unveiled face of God. No worthy symbol of God existed but the
inner world, the true humanity, to whose various aspects he gave many names,
“Jerusalem,” “Liberty,” “Eden,” “The Divine Vision,” “The Body of God,”
“The Human Form Divine,” “The Divine Members,” and whose most intimate
expression was Art and Poetry. He always sang of God under this symbol :
For Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
Is God Our Father dear ;
And Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
Is man, His child and care.
For Mercy has a human heart ;
Pity a human face ;
And Love, the human form divine,
And Peace, the human dress.
Then every man of every clime,
That prays in his distress,
Prays to the human form divine—
Love, Mercy, Pity, Peace.
Whenever he gave this symbol a habitation in space he set it in the sun, the
father of light and life ; and set in the darkness beyond the stars, where light
and life die away, Og and Anak and the giants that were of old, and the
iron throne of Satan.
By thus contrasting Blake and Dante by the light of Blake’s
wisdom, and as though there was no great truth hung from Dante’s beam of
the balance, I but seek to interpret a little-understood philosophy rather
than one incorporate in the thought and habits of Christendom. Every
philosophy has half its truth from times and generations ; and to us one half
BLAKE’S ILLUSTRATIONS TO THE DIVINE COMEDY 33
of the philosophy of Dante is less living than his poetry ; while the truth
Blake preached, and sang, and painted, is the root of the cultivated life, of the
fragile perfect blossom of the world born in ages of leisure and peace, and
never yet to last more than a little season ; the life those Phæacians—who told
Odysseus that they had set their hearts in nothing but in “the dance, and
changes of raiment, and love and sleep”—lived before Poseidon heaped a
mountain above them ; the lives of all who, having eaten of the tree of life,
love, more than the barbarous ages when none had time to live, “the minute
particulars of life,” the little fragments of space and time, which are wholly
flooded by beautiful emotion because they are so little they are hardly of
time and space at all. “Every space smaller than a globule of man’s blood,”
he wrote, “opens into eternity of which this vegetable earth is but a shadow.”
And again, “Every time less than a pulsation of the artery is equal in its
tenor and value to six thousand years, for in this period the poet’s work is
done, and all the great events of time start forth, and are conceived : in such a
period, within a moment, a pulsation of the artery.” Dante, indeed, taught,
in the “Purgatorio,” that sin and virtue are alike from love, and that love is
from God ; but this love he would restrain by a complex external law, a
complex external Church. Blake, upon the other hand, cried scorn upon the
whole spectacle of external things, a vision to pass away in a moment, and
preached the cultivated life, the internal Church which has no laws but beauty,
rapture, and labour. “I know of no other Christianity, and of no other
gospel, than the liberty both of body and mind to exercise the divine arts
of imagination, the real and eternal world of which this vegetable universe is
but a faint shadow, and in which we shall live in our eternal or imaginative
bodies when these vegetable mortal bodies are no more. The Apostles knew
of no other gospel. What are all their spiritual gifts ? What is the divine
spirit ? Is the Holy Ghost any other than an intellectual fountain ? What is
the harvest of the gospel and its labours ? What is the talent which it is a curse
to hide ? What are the treasures of heaven which we are to lay up for our-
selves ? Are they any other than mental studies and performances ? What
are all the gifts of the gospel, are they not all mental gifts ? Is God a spirit
who must be worshipped in spirit and truth ? And are not the gifts of the
spirit everything to man ? O ye religious ! discountenance every one among
you who shall pretend to despise art and science. I call upon you in the
name of Jesus ! What is the life of man but art and science ? Is it meat
and drink ? Is not the body more than raiment ? What is mortality but the
things relating to the body which dies ? What is immortality but the things
34 THE SAVOY
relating to the spirit which lives eternally ? What is the joy of Heaven but
improvement in the things of the spirit ? What are the pains of Hell but
ignorance, idleness, bodily lust, and the devastation of the things of the
spirit ? Answer this for yourselves, and expel from among you those who
pretend to despise the labours of art and science, which alone are the labours
of the gospel. Is not this plain and manifest to the thought ? Can you think
at all, and not pronounce heartily that to labour in knowledge is to build
Jerusalem, and to despise knowledge is to despise Jerusalem and her builders ?
And remember, he who despises and mocks a mental gift in another, calling it
pride, and selfishness, and sin, mocks Jesus, the giver of every mental gift,
which always appear to the ignorance-loving hypocrites as sins. But that
which is sin in the sight of cruel man is not sin in the sight of our kind God.
Let every Christian as much as in him lies engage himself openly and publicly
before all the world in some mental pursuit for the building of Jerusalem.” I
have given the whole of this long passage, because, though the very keystone
of his thought, it is little known, being sunk, like nearly all of his most
profound thoughts, in the mysterious prophetic books. Obscure about much
else, they are always lucid on this one point, and return to it again and
again. “I care not whether a man is good or bad,” are the words they put
into the mouth of God, “all that I care is whether he is a wise man or a fool.
Go put off holiness and put on intellect.” This cultivated life, which seems to us
so artificial a thing, is really, according to them, the laborious re-discovery of
the golden age, of the primeval simplicity, of the simple world in which Christ
taught and lived, and its lawlessness is the lawlessness of Him “who being
all virtue acted from impulse, and not from rules,”
And his seventy disciples sent
Against religion and government.
The historical Christ was indeed no more than the supreme symbol
artistic imagination, in which, with every passion wrought to perfect beauty by
art and poetry, we shall live, when the body has passed away for the last time ;
but before that hour man must labour through many lives and many deaths.
“Men are admitted into heaven, not because they have curbed and governed their
passions, but because they have cultivated their understandings. The treasures
of heaven are not negations of passion, but realities of intellect, from which the
passions emanate, uncurbed in their eternal glory. The fool shall not enter
into heaven, let him be ever so holy. Holiness is not the price of entering
into heaven. Those who are cast out are all those who, having no passions of
BLAKE’S ILLUSTRATIONS TO THE DIVINE COMEDY 37
their own, because no intellect, have spent their lives in curbing and governing
other people’s by the various arts of poverty and cruelty of all kinds. The
modern Church crucifies Christ with the head downwards. Woe, woe, woe to
you hypocrites.” After a time man has “to return to the dark valley whence
he came and begin his labours anew,” but before that return he dwells in the free-
dom of imagination, in the peace of “the divine image,” “the divine vision,” in
the peace that passes understanding, and is the peace of art. “I have been very
near the gates of death,” Blake wrote in his last letter, “and have returned very
weak and an old man, feeble and tottering, but not in spirit and life, not in the
real man, the imagination, which liveth for ever. In that I grow stronger and
stronger as this foolish body decays . . . Flaxman is gone and we must all soon
follow, everyone to his eternal home, leaving the delusions of goddess Nature
and her laws, to get into freedom from all the laws of the numbers,” the multi-
plicity of nature, “into the mind in which everyone is king and priest in his own
house.” The phrase about the king and priest is a memory of the crown and
mitre set upon Dante’s head before he entered Paradise. Our imaginations are
but fragments of the universal imagination, portions of the universal body of
God, and as we enlarge our imagination by imaginative sympathy, and transform,
with the beauty and the peace of art, the sorrows and joys of the world, we put
off the limited mortal man more and more, and put on the unlimited “immortal
man.” “As the seed waits eagerly watching for its flower and fruit, anxious its
little soul looks out into the clear expanse to see if hungry winds are abroad with
their invisible array ; so man looks out in tree, and herb, and fish, and bird,
and beast, collecting up the fragments of his immortal body into the elemental
forms of everything that grows. … In pain he sighs, in pain he labours in
his universe, sorrowing in birds over the deep, or howling in the wolf over the
slain, and moaning in the cattle, and in the winds.” Mere sympathy for all
living things is not enough, because we must learn to separate their “infected”
from their eternal, their satanic from their divine part ; and this can only be
done by desiring always beauty ; the one mask through which can be seen the
unveiled eyes of eternity. We must then be artists in all things, and under-
stand that love and old age and death are first among the arts. In this sense,
he insists that “Christ’s apostles were artists,” that “Christianity is Art,” and
that “the whole business of man is the arts.” Dante, who deified law, selected
its antagonist, passion, as the most important of sins, and made the regions where
it was punished the largest. Blake, who deified imaginative freedom, held
“corporeal reason” for the most accursed of things, because it makes the
imagination revolt from the sovereignty of beautyand pass under the sovereignty
38 THE SAVOY
of corporeal law, and this is “the captivity in Egypt.” True art is expressive
and symbolic, and makes every form, every sound, every colour, every gesture,
a signature of some unanalyzable, imaginative essence. False art is not expres-
sive but mimetic, not from experience, but from observation ; and is the
mother of all evil, persuading us to save our bodies alive at no matter what
cost of rapine and fraud. True art is the flame of the last day, which begins
for every man, when he is first moved by beauty, and which seeks to burn
all things until they “become infinite and holy.”
Blake’s distaste for Dante’s philosophy did not make him a less
sympathetic illustrator, any more than did his distaste for the philosophy
of Milton mar the beauty of his illustrations to “Paradise Lost.” The illus-
trations which accompany the present article are, I think, among the finest
he ever did, and are certainly faithful to the text of “The Divine Comedy.”
That of Dante talking with Uberti, and that of Dante in the circle of the
thieves, are notable for the flames which, as always in Blake, live with a
more vehement life than any mere mortal thing : fire was to him no unruly
offspring of human hearths, but the Kabalistic element, one fourth of creation,
flowing and leaping from world to world, from hell to hell, from heaven to
heaven ; no accidental existence, but the only fit signature, because the only
pure substance, for the consuming breath of God. In the man, about to
become a serpent, and in the serpent, about to become a man, in the second
design, he has created, I think, very curious and accurate symbols of an
evil that is not violent, but is subtle, finished, plausible. The sea and
clouded sun in the drawing of Dante and Virgil climbing among the rough
rocks at the foot of the Purgatorial mountain, and the night sea and spare
vegetation in the drawing of the sleep of Virgil, Dante and Statius near to
its summit, are symbols of divine acceptance, and foreshadow the land-
scapes of his disciples Calvert, Palmer, and Linnell, famous interpreters of
The faint unfinished figures in the globe of light in the drawing
the sleepers are the Leah and Rachel of Dante’s dream, the active and
the contemplative life of the spirit, the one gathering flowers, the other
gazing at her face in the glass. It is curious that Blake has made no
attempt, in these drawings, to make Dante resemble any of his portraits,
especially as he had, years before, painted Dante in a series of por-
traits of poets, of which many certainly tried to be accurate portraits. I
have not yet seen this picture, but if it has Dante’s face, it will convince
me that he intended to draw, in the present case, the soul rather than the
BLAKE’S ILLUSTRATIONS TO THE DIVINE COMEDY 41
body of Dante, and read “The Divine Comedy” as a vision seen not in the
body but out of the body. Both the figures of Dante and Virgil have the
slightly feminine look which he gave to representations of the soul.
W. B. YEATS.
LET be at last : give over words and sighing,
Vainly were all things said :
Better, at last, to find a place for lying,
Silence were best, with songs and sighing over ;
Now be the music mute :
Now let the dead, red leaves of autumn cover
A vain lute !
Silence is best : for ever and for ever,
We will go down to sleep,
Somewhere, beyond her ken, where she need never
Come to weep.
Let be at last : colder she grows, and colder ;
Sleep and the night were best ;
Lying, at last, where we cannot behold her,
We may rest.
TWO FOOLISH HEARTS
SUMMER had passed, the harvest was ingathered, and the days began to close in.
At the Hill Farm was heard the euphonious boom of
the threshing machine. It was music to many in the
neighbourhood, but to none more than to the little boy
He had become a fixture, so to speak, at the Farm. Since the day when
he crept through the hole in the orchard hedge, he had grown to be one of the
family. Everybody liked the boy: two on the farm—Letty and Clem—
had come to love him.
There is so much to love in a child—his smile, his general prettiness, his
bright and often saucy tongue, his way of looking at things, his mode of doing
them, and his highly ingenious plan of obtaining his desires. These are some
of the arts and charms of child life, and they win, yes, they win—often against
the adult’s better judgment.
Letty had grown to love the boy as her own. If he had not made
his appearance on the Farm just after breakfast, she would go out first into the
Croft and then into the Pond Close and call “Reg—gie, Reg—gie,” in the
same cooing sort of way as she used to call Clem in his childhood; and if the
little fellow was within earshot, he would gallop to her and spring into her
open arms with a warbling laugh which did the heart good to hear.
He was the revived sweets of old days to Letty; a new bit of colouring
on her picture. He was more than this to her sometimes—he was Luce in
She did not like that fancy so well, though her feeling against Luce was
softening through contact with her child. She had not seen Luce, however.
Though Reggie had been a daily visitor to the farm since the end of June, and
it was now the end of September, the red-haired flame of Clem had not once
put in an appearance.
46 THE SAVOY
Her Rubens-like beauty had blushed unseen by Letty. She bestowed it
chiefly upon her mother in their little cottage in Radbrooke Bottom; it
was only at times—in the silent and long summer nights when few people
were visible—that she went more than a stone’s threw from her home.
The shorter days drew her out more. It was natural that it should
be so, though eminently displeasing that so fair a flower should perforce
have to exist under a cloud. This angered Clem. Luce at Radbrooke,
indoors, and away from him and the farm, was no better than Luce at
Many girls, similarly situated to Luce, would have “brazened it out”
Luce might, perhaps, have felt less the necessity of hiding herself away from
everybody, had she not heard the opinion entertained of her by Letty Martin.
She had heard that—and it was sufficient for her to almost nail herself to the
table leg in her mother’s kitchen.
But now that the days began to be chary of their light towards six o’clock
in the evening, Luce began to be a little more prodigal of her presence. Three
years ago, or rather more, she used to court the sunlight; now she haunted the
shades. To a really pure girl the knowledge of having committed an offence
against society, if not against Nature, is all that is needed to bring the blush to
the cheek at every awkward or trivial meeting. Luce, though a mother, had
by no means lost her purity. In the evening dusk she could blush without
So she sauntered down the garden path on this warm and calm evening
at the end of September; on the evening of the annual village wake.
“You baint goin’ to the wake, be ye, Luce, lass?” said her mother as
she stepped out.
“I should like to go, mother, for sake of the dancin’; but I donna think
“If I was thee, my gel, I should’na. Theer’ll be all the village theer,
besides Brookington folk; an’ summat ‘ull be sure to be said ’bout thee. An’
as for dancin’, Luce—well, you might nor be short o’ partners, my gel; but
I should’na—no, I should’na.”
“I’ll walk i’ the lane a bit, mother,” replied Luce, slowly. “If Reg cries,
I’ll come in.”
“Donna thee fret about little waxwork, deary; I’ll see to ‘im.”
When Luce was out of hearing, Mrs. Cowland wiped a tear out of the
corner of her eye, and sighed to herself: “The beautifulest peaches be the
fust to goo spect. Poor Luce, beautiful Luce! To think as I should hev ‘ad
TWO FOOLISH HEARTS 47
such a beauty, the envy of all the mothers i’ Radbrooke, an’ then for she
to hev come to this. It breaks me heart when I think on’t.”
True, honest, motherly instinct is not so common that one can afford to
smile at the simple sentiments of Mrs. Cowland. They are rare in humble
spheres, far rarer in higher circles. The lowliest flowers are the tenderest, the
sweetest, the truest, the purest.
Meanwhile, with a full heart, and a set of confusing thoughts, which
seemed born only to be killed, Luce sauntered along the lane.
There were no dwellings eastward beyond Luce’s cottage. There was a
pond, called “The Green Pond” by the children, on account of its entire
surface being covered with a thin green film, on the north side, dangerously
near the footpath, and left open for any luckless child to fall into; there was
also a curve in the lane northward; but no more domiciles.
Beyond Luce’s cottage the lane was a pure lane: hedges each side, com-
posed of hawthorn, blackthorn, buckthorn, blackberry, bramble, and elder;
with, at intervals, a tall elm, ash, or oak, whose spreading branches almost
shut out the sky from above, and made the lane shady even in the strongest
It was a pure lane—a leafy lover’s lane.
To-night it wore an intensely delightful aspect. It was moonlit. Few
trees grew at the west end, and when the moon reached a certain altitude it
shot a ray of effulgence down that avenue-like Warwickshire lane like a light
in a railway tunnel. Luce looked like an animated poppy walking through
the light into darkness, for the moonrays did not penetrate to the lane’s end.
Luce had no intention of going to the wake. There were reasons why
she should not. Yet she had implanted in her the natural rustic longing to
attend the annual festivity on the green waste near the church.
The wake was a great occasion at Radbrooke: a loved occasion, a merry
occasion, and an occasion looked forward to for weeks beforehand. It was the
one time of the year when all the villagers and the occupants of the surround-
ing farms met together for a day’s junketting and pleasantry. There were
shows, merry-go-rounds, shooting galleries, cocoa-nut throwing, and, to crown
all, dancing on the green to the often discordant music of the Brookington
These pleasures are rustic, Bohemian if you will; but they are the natural
pleasures of Strephon and Phyllis, and they attract—yes, they attract. They
are the sole amusements of the peasant, isolated in his own greenwood; and
though the gaily-painted caravan and roundabout are incongruous ex-
48 THE SAVOY
crescences upon the landscape, their coming is an exciting event in the life of
The roadway or street of the village ran parallel with Radbrooke Bottom,
and at its eastward end it sloped southward so decidedly that the lane and the
street at that end were not more than twenty yards apart. As Luce stood at
the junction the sounds of the blaring music of the roundabouts floated to her
ear, mingled with the peals of laughter and the shouts of merry-makers.
She was but a young thing, full of life, and with a taste for enjoyment.
She did not intend to take part in the wake, but the alluring sounds of the
pleasures provided there drew her feet round the bend of the road to a point
where it joined the village street, and commanded a fine view of the motley
What a sight it was, just on the outskirts of silence!
To the contemplative being who stood where Luce was standing, the
contrast between the two scenes would have seemed extraordinary, not to say
terrible. Two distinct worlds, they were separated from each other only by a
few yards. Luce was standing in a silent world, which gave forth no sound;
the world before her blazed with light, colour, and movement, and dinned the
ears with its noise.
And above the flaming oil-lamps, the madly-circling roundabouts, the
wildly dancing people, who seemed never to tire through dance after dance,
above the shouts of the showmen, the scream of the steam-whistle, the laugh
of the light-hearted, looking down on a scene so foreign to the landscape in
which it was set, was the square, lichen-grown tower of the parish church of
Radbrooke; looking down with a calm, dignified, and venerable air through
its eye-like window upon this saturnalia of village life.
Luce was transfixed at her point of vantage. She never moved an inch
more forward, but stood there gazing wistfully at the scene, and especially at
the dancers, like one who would have liked to mingle with them, but was too
shy to enter. If anyone on the edge of the fair and in its full blaze of light,
had looked towards the bend in the road which led downward to Radbrooke
Bottom, they would have beheld a lovely young face framed in a garland of
red hair, looking out through the darkness—Luce’s Rubens-like face.
“Thy partner inna theer, Luce,” said a voice in the shadow behind
Luce turned quickly round, for she was rather startled, and saw beside her
the fine face and large form of Moll Rivers. She, like Luce, was without her
hat, and when she came forward and stood on a level with Luce, so that the
TWO FOOLISH HEARTS 49
light from the fair flashed full upon their faces, the contrast in their appearance
was very striking.
Moll with her superb height and mass of raven black hair might have
passed for the Queen of Night; she was in her element, her latitude, her clime
—lusty-limbed and strong. Luce, with her smaller stature and red hair could
pass for Aurora, the Queen of the Morning. She had the appearance of being
out of her element, her latitude, her clime; she was dainty-limbed and younger
in years than Moll.
Both looked at each other curiously and in some confusion. Moll had a
melancholy look and a rather untidy air; the hooks of her bodice were
undone, showing a portion of her rounded breasts panting beneath. A cloud
of inexpressible weariness sat in her eyes and upon her forehead. She looked
tired of living.
“Thy partner inna theer, Luce,” she repeated, inclining her head towards
“My partner, Molly?” replied Luce, in some surprise.
“Yes, I’ve bin all round the wake, in an’ out the footers, round the dobby
horses, an’ by the shooting galleries, an’ canna find ‘im. Let ‘s go away.”
They turned down the lane into the shadow. Then Luce spoke.
“It seems from what you say, Moll, that you’ve been lookin’ for a partner.
I hanna got no partner, an’ hanna been seeking for one.”
“Maybe you might soon hev ‘ad one, Luce?” returned Moll with a mean-
“May be,” said Luce, with some attempt at dignity.
“That is if you hanna left youm behind at Brookington.”
It was one of those deadly thrusts often dealt out by uncultured natures.
If it had been daylight the beholder would have seen the colour rush headlong
into Luce’s face and spread all down her neck; as it was moonlight, the effect
of Moll’s words was not observed in her face, though her voice shook when she
“My business is my business, Moll, if so be it’s at Radbrooke or Brooking-
ton. I donna think you ought to trouble yourself about it.”
“Perhaps not,” said Moll. “I’ve no call to say anything, I hevn’t.
I must see all an’ say nothing. I mun bear all an’ do nothin’.”
“I donna know what you mean.”
“No, nobody knows what I mean. ‘Tis as the parson said in his sarment
on Sunday—yes, Miss Luce, I did go to church on Sunday, an’ you’ve no call
to look so dubersome, for some folks inna so black as they’re painted; he said
50 THE SAVOY
in his sarment as none be so blind as them as wunna see, an’ that’s it. You
know what I mean, you can see what I mean, yet you make believe ye donna
Luce did not reply. She was burning and trembling at the same time.
She sauntered quietly on, with the commanding figure of Moll at her
side like her elongated shadow. Every now and then they walked out of the
darkness into a thin line of moonlight which came through a gap in the trees;
then it was seen that both their faces were flushed, and that Moll’s in particular
had a cloud of anger growing over it.
“You donna speak, Luce?” she went on. “Perhaps you be ashamed to.
You were such a good little gell once, an’—I wish I may die if I’m tellin’ a lie
—I was very fond on thee. But you’ve turned out a faggot, Luce; yes, a very
“And pray, what hev I done to thee, Moll, to be called a faggot by thee?”
Luce was nearly breaking down; the vehemence of Moll she had not bar-
gained for. Poor girl, she was receiving punishment for her sin all round—
from her own sex. It was first her mother, then Letty Martin, and now Moll.
Why was it, she inwardly inquired, that women are so cruel to women? She
expected pity and obtained punishment.
A ray of moonlight fell upon her while Moll was in shadow. It glorified
her. It even lit up the glistening tears in the corners of her eyes and made
them shine like diamonds. Moll looked out of the darkness at her with great
“Thou art a pretty faggot, Luce, a very pretty faggot; but thou’rt a
faggot all the same. I canna wonder at men bein’ fond on thee. Giv’ me
thy hair, Luce, thy bonnie red hair as he be so in love with, an’ I’ll never call
thee a faggot no more.”
She caught hold of Luce’s hair, and held it by her own, comparing the
“Mine’s longer and thicker nor yourn, beautiful hair, inna it? But not
showy like yourn. Men like showy things. Then you’ve got blue eyes, Luce,
an’ mine be dull an’ dark. You’re altogether more pretty to look at nor I am.
Men like pretty things, little toy things like you, an’ I’m big an’ bold, an dowdy
—no wonder he doesna like me.”
She paused a moment, looking steadfastly at Luce.
“But he might hev come to like me, if you had’na turned up here agen
like the bad penny that you are. Yes,” she added almost fiercely, and with
uncontrollable bitterness, “you are a faggot, Luce, else you’d hev stopped at
TWO FOOLISH HEARTS 51
Brookington with your misgotten brat, an’ not come here agen with your
winnin 1 ways, pretty face, an’ carrotty hair, to ‘ang yourself on Clem agen.”
Luce’s spirit was bent but not broken. She looked at Moll with an
awakening glance and with a flushed and defiant air.
“Oh! I see what you mean now, Molly. You want Clem, an’ because I’ve
come back you think you shanna get him. Well, my home ‘s at Radbrooke. I
came home, not to try and win Clem away from you or anyone else, but to
try and live in peace.”
“You’ve bewitched ‘im—you, another man’s light-o’-love.”
That epithet again! It stabbed Luce to the heart like a knife.
She had done wrong, she had sinned, she had prayed for forgiveness.
Was her punishment never to be completed? Why should she be condemned
to be brow-beaten by this girl? Had she not suffered enough in her own
heart for her folly, but that she must be let down before every villager and
made to ask pardon from them all?
Here was this girl, this Moll Rivers, who was known by all the village to
have been many and many a time at the New Inn; she was pointing the
finger of scorn at her. And no doubt all the others would do it as well. She
had been “the good girl” of the village, the girl who had been cited by the
parson as an example of pure and upright girlhood; she had been the belle of
Radbrooke: and now she had come to be taunted and insulted by everybody
in the parish.
Oh! virtue, virtue, what a severe shape you do assume in such little
Bethels as the village of Radbrooke! Luce felt it, bent to it, and broke
“I won’t hear you, Moll, I won’t hear you,” she sobbed, placing her hands
to her ears, and taking quicker steps down the lane towards her home. “You
are bitter, cruel, and wicked to me. I have done you no wrong; I’ve done
nobody wrong but myself. I have not come back to Radbrooke to ‘ang
myself on Clem. I don’t ‘ang myself on him. You know very well I have
not bin to the Farm once since I came home.”
“But he comes to see thee.”
“I canna help it; I canna order him not to come; I canna send him
away. It’s too bad on all of you to be at me for comin’ back home again.
Did you want me to die at Brookington? It seems like it; an’ I wish I had,
I wish I had. I should have been better off now. An’ all on you used to be
so fond on me, or said so. Belike all the time you was glad to be shut
52 THE SAVOY
“Wunce in awhile I was very fond on thee, Luce; very fond indeed.”
Moll was not a bad girl; she had in her the makings of a grand character.
Education would not have done it; changed circumstances might. If she had
been able to look upon life from a different standpoint, if her life had been a
little less hard or her feelings less in opposition to the surroundings of her
existence, she might have been held forward as the type of a great-hearted
But Nature had fettered her. She had bound her down to narrow
circumstances, and for one strong trait in her character, she had given her six
weak ones. Moll was nevertheless a soft-hearted girl—hot, hasty, passionate,
and not entirely selfish; yet she was a very woman, full of her mother’s milk,
ready to cry out one minute and storm the next; ready to sacrifice others to her
selfishness, and in turn to sacrifice herself to the selfishness of others.
“Yes,” she went on, looking down from her superb height at Luce with a
pitying and tender glance, ” wunce in a while, Luce, I loved thee well. Doesna
remember the day when thou were made the Queen o’ May, an’ how it come
on to drizzle wi’ rain? An’ how thy mother were afeard for thee, ’cause thou
wert a bit nesh an’ tisiky i’ the chest? Dost mind how I, such a slummock as
I were i’ my work-a-day clothes, cotched thee up an’ covered thee wi’ my
‘urden apron to keep the wet off on thee, an’ carried thee to the housen i’ that
way, wi’out gettin a spot on thee; an’ how, when we went to Letty’s, she had
all we gels in an’ gived us a drop o’ beistin’s all round?”
“I mind it, Luce, gel,” she said sadly, after a pause. “Thou wert as
innercent as a cade lamb, an’ as pretty as one o’ they tulips i’ thy mother’s
gardin. Yea, thou wert as sweet as a little angel then—like one on them round
the christening basin i’ the church yon.”
“Oh! Molly, donna, donna,” implored Luce.
“Donna what, Luce?”
“Donna liken me to a angel. I’m not that; I’m not that.”
“You was then.”
If Luce was stung into anger and bitterness before by the insulting and
bold words of Moll, she suffered martyrdom now.
The picture which her companion had drawn of her—no more than a
thumb-nail sketch of her as she really was when they made her Queen of the
May—brought back with vivid colouring and acute pain the days of her
innocence: the days of her purity; and it sufficed to crush her.
It was like looking back on a lost Heaven.
Being blessed or cursed with a sense of the power of goodness and
TWO FOOLISH HEARTS 53
virtue, Luce saw from what sublime heights she had fallen. The sight over-
whelmed her. To the right-thinking mind there is such a gulf between
unsullied innocence and sin-stained beauty! Luce saw this and shivered.
“If you liked me then, Moll,” she said in a manner exquisitely pretty
and touching, “why donna you like me now? I like you just the same.”
“I love Clem,” replied Moll; that was the answer to everything.
Luce sighed and so did Moll; it was an awkward and painful position
for them both. Few positions can be more painful than that in which two
girls, associated with each other since childhood, and being fairly fond of one
another, are brought to the awkward point of loving the same man.
To quick anil pregnant minds which know no other impulses than those
given them by bounteous and indiscriminating Nature, there is tragedy in
that position. There are elements in it worse and more deadly even than the
actual blood-spilling on the village green. There are withered and broken
hearts in it; dispositions warped and made ugly; good natures destroyed;
warm blood congealed.
This was the position of Moll and Luce, and the influences of it had made
themselves felt. Moll had grown ugly and ill-gendered excrescences upon a
disposition which, in its natural state, was kind, warm, open, and loving. For
her the position was worse and more trying than for Luce; and the Rad-
brookc field-girl, though unblessed with the cleverness and polish which
education is supposed to give, had the discernment to see it.
She loved Clem with a consuming passion which threatened to seriously
affect her health, as it had already affected her well-being; she knew also,
only too well, that he loved another, and thought no more of her than the
lady-smock—typical of her physical elegance—which he crushed beneath his
heel in field, croft, and meadow.
The thought, nay, the absolute knowledge of this, was as gall and worm-
wood to the passionate village girl. Vague fancies arose from the knowledge.
She had one fancy that if Luce had not come back, she could in time have
moulded Clem to her will. She encouraged this fancy till it became a faith,
decided, strong, and durable. Luce had come back; that was the cause of it
all. And there she stood beside her, so sweet, pretty, and winning, that even
a masculine anger became almost gentleness under her influence.
“I love Clem!”
What could Luce say to that? She had been weak, vain, foolish, and as
her own sad heart told her, downright wicked. She had been led astray; she
bore about with her the burden of a knowledge that the fidelity of Clem was
54 THE SAVOY
of such a quality as to be worth a far better girl than she was—yet there was
the awkward fact that Clem had no eyes for any girl but her—that he still
loved her as dearly as before her falling away; and, to crown all, and make
the position more painful than ever, there was the fact that she loved Clem
with a feeling which she could never have for any other man!
“I am so sorry, Moll,” she said, simply and earnestly, looking at her
“Art thee so, Luce? Then perhaps thee ‘It ‘elp, lass, in this ill-con-
venient kaszhulty. I canna abear my life as it be now. I’ve bin thinkin’,
Luce, as belike Clem ‘ood look on me wi’ more favourable eyes if it weren’t
for thee bein’ here. Couldst thee not go rimming to thy uncle’s at
Luce did not speak, and Moll paused. The silver light of the moon
which now moved from Luce’s face and settled upon hers, showed upon it an
intensely wearied and helpless expression. Moll looked like one upon whom
an inexorable fate had passed sentence of death; her face was a picture of
deeply-rooted, permanent, and melancholy resignation.
“Nay,” she said, “I see that wunna do. Two miles apart ‘ood be nothin’
for ‘im to walk o’ nights. He’d come an’ see thee theer every day arter the
work were done. I could’na bear that as much as this. Now I can meet ‘im
sometimes an’ see ‘im unbeknown to ‘im; but then I could’na. He’d be
entirely away from Radbrooke, an’ I should be moilin’ mysen to death at not
seein’ a sight on ‘im. No, Luce, ‘twood never do for thee to go rimming to
thy uncle’s at Rodbridge. You mun stay here, such be my unaccountable
“But, Luce,” she added more quietly, and with a more dejected air,
“remember that you be differend to me. I hanna got anythink to love, not a
single livin’ thing i’ the world—not, I mean, i’ the way that you love—not the
same sort o’ love, like as people feels to one another when they be young like
as we be. I’ve got my poor old dad, an’ Fan, o’ course, but they donna bring
the same feeling as what I mean. You’ve got ‘im, Luce, an’ you’ve got that
little cade lamb o’ thine as comes on the farm every day like a flash o’ sun-
shine. Remember me then, lass, an’ donna let ‘im see thee oftener than be
needed, for I shall know it, an’ ’twill be ‘ard for me to bear, lovin’ ‘im as I do.
Oh! Luce, Luce, give me thy red hair. Give me—Oh! why dinna God
mek ‘im love me instead o’ thee!”
She bent down with the anguish she was enduring, right over the form of
Luce, and clasped her big arms round her smaller companion’s neck. It was
TWO FOOLISH HEARTS 55
like a great oak wrapping its shielding limbs round a tender sapling—like
Despair clinging to the smallest Hope.
Luce was herself moved to tears.
“I dinna know you loved him like this, Moll. Poor wench, I’ll ease it for
thee if I can. Yes, I will, lass, I will,” and the little red-haired girl there and
then formed a resolution, which she was determined to keep, if—if—the power
within her lay.
“Luce, Luce!” cried a voice at that moment from the direction of Mrs.
Cowland’s cottage, “come in, lass, the little ‘un’s waked up, an’ I canna coax
‘im off agen.”
It was the voice of Luce’s mother. As the girls separated from their
embrace, Mrs. Cowland in person met them at the foot of the dark stretch of
“What, Molly! Be you wi’ Luce, then? Well, ’tis as glorious a night
as I’ve sin for some time, an’ you canna do much harm rimming about. But
the dag’s fallin’ now, an’ you hanna no ‘ats on yeryeds. Come in, Luce. You
mun hev bewitched the little waxwork, for I canna manage to raggle on wi’
‘im nohow. He wants ‘is muther, ‘is muther, an’ no ‘un else ‘ull do for he.
You mun surely hev bewitched ‘im wi’ your winnin’ ways, I doubt.”
“Her bewitches all on us, Mrs. Cowland, Luce do,” said Moll, with a sad
“Oh, Moll!” cried Luce, prettily.
A nuit d’hiver élève au ciel son pur calice.
Et je lève mon cceur aussi, mon cœur nocturne,
Seigneur, mon cceur ! vers ton pâle infini vide,
Et néanmoins, je sais que rien n’en pourra l’urne
Combler, et que rien n’est dont ce cceur meurt avide ;
Et je te sais mensonge et mes lèvres te prient
Et mes genoux ; je sais et tes grandes mains closes
Et tes grands yeux fermés aux désespoirs qui crient,
Et que c’est moi, qui, seul, me rêve dans les choses ;
Sois de pitié, Seigneur, pour ma toute demence,
J’ai besoin de pleurer mon mal vers ton silence! . . .
La nuit d’hiver élève au ciel son pur calice !
IN PIOUS MOOD
THE winter lifts its chalice of pure night to heaven.
And I uplift my heart, my night-worn heart, in turn,
Lord, my heart ! to thy pale, infinite Inane,
And yet I know that nought the implenishable urn
May plenish, that nought is, whereof this heart dies fain
And I know thee a lie, and with my lips make prayer
And with my knees ; I know thy great, shut hands averse,
Thy great eyes closed, to all the clamours of despair ;
It is I, who dream myself into the universe ;
Have pity on my wandering wits’ entire discord ;
Needs must I weep my woe towards thy silence, Lord !
The winter lifts its chalice of pure night to heaven.
SO far I have attempted to follow with little or no comment
what seems to me the main current of Nietzsche’s thought.
It may be admitted that there is some question as to
which is the main current. For my own part I have
no hesitation in asserting that it is the current which
expands to its fullest extent between 1876 and 1883 in
what I term Nietzsche’s second or middle period ; up to then he had not
gained complete individuality ; afterwards came the period of uncontrolled
aberrations. Thus I am inclined to pass lightly over the third period, during
which the conception of “master-morality” attained its chief and most rigid
emphasis, although I gather that to Nietzsche’s disciples as to his foes this con-
ception seems of primary importance. This idea of “master-morality” is in
fact a solid fossilized chunk, easy to handle for friendly or unfriendly hands.
The earlier and more living work—the work of the man who truly said that it
is with thinkers as with snakes : those that cannot shed their skins die—is
less obviously tangible. So the “master-morality” it is that your true
Nietzschian is most likely to close his fist over. It would be unkind to say
more, for Nietzsche himself has been careful to scatter through his works, on
the subject of disciples and followers generally, very scathing remarks which
must be sufficiently painful to the ordinary Nietzschian.
We are helped in understanding Nietzsche’s philosophic significance if we
understand his precise ideal. The psychological analysis of every great
thinker’s work seems to reveal some underlying fundamental image or thought
—often enough simple and homely in character—which he has carried with
him into the most abstract regions. Thus Fraser has found good reason
to suppose that Hegel’s main ideas were suggested by the then recent
discovery of galvanism. In Nietzsche’s case this key is to be found in the
persistent image of an attitude. As a child, his sister tells us, he had been
greatly impressed by a rope-dancer who had performed his feats over the
market-place at Naumburg, and throughout his work, as soon as he had
58 THE SAVOY
attained to real self-expression, we may trace the image of the dancer. “I do
not know,” he somewhere says, “what the mind of a philosopher need desire
more than to be a good dancer. For dancing is his ideal, his art also,
indeed his only piety, his ‘divine worship.'” In all Nietzsche’s best work we
are conscious of this ideal of the dancer, strong, supple, vigorous, yet harmonious
and well-balanced. It is the dance of the athlete and the acrobat rather than
the make-believe of the ball-room, and behind the easy equipoise of such
dancing lie patient training and effort. The chief character of good dancing is
its union of the maximum of energetic movement with the maximum of well-
balanced grace. The whole muscular system is alive to restrain any excess, so
that however wild and free the movement may seem it is always measured ;
excess would mean ignominious collapse. When in his later years Nietzsche
began, as he said, to “philosophize with the hammer,” and to lay about him
savagely at every hollow “idol” within reach, he departed from his better ideal
of dancing, and his thinking became intemperate, reckless, desperate.
Nietzsche had no system, probably because the idea that dominated his
thought was an image, and not a formula, the usual obsession of philosophers,
such as may be clapped on the universe at any desired point. He remarks in
one place that a philosopher believes the worth of his philosophy to lie in the
structure, but that what we ultimately value are the finely carven and separate
stones with which he builded, and he was clearly anxious to supply the
elaborated stones direct. In time he came to call himself a realist, using the
term, in no philosophic sense, to indicate his reverence for the real and essen-
tial facts of life, the things that conduce to fine living. He desired to detach
the “bad conscience” from the things that are merely wicked traditionally, and
to attach it to the things that are anti-natural, anti-instinctive, anti-sensuous.
He sought to inculcate veneration for the deep-lying sources of life, to take us
down to the bed-rock of life, the rock whence we are hewn. He held that man,
as a reality, with all his courage and cunning, is himself worth)’ of honour, but
that man’s ideals are absurd and morbid, the mere dregs in the drained cup of
life ; or, as he eventually said—and it is a saying which will doubtless seal his
fate in the minds of many estimable persons—man’s ideals are his only partie
honteuse, of which we may avoid any close examination. Nietzsche’s “realism”
was thus simply a vigorous hatred of all dreaming that tends to depreciate the
value of life, and a vivid sense that man himself is the ens realissimun.
To recognize the free and direct but disconnected nature of Nietzsche’s
many-sided vision of the world is to lessen the force of his own antagonisms
as well as of the antagonisms he has excited. The master-morality of his later
FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE 59
days, on which friends and foes have alike insisted, is a case in point. This
appears to have been hailed, or resented, as a death-blow struck at the
modern democratic régime. To take a broad view of Nietzsche’s philosophic
development is to realize that both attitudes are alike out of place. On this
matter, as on many others, Nietzsche moved in a line which led him to face an
opposite direction in his decay from that which he faced in his immaturity.
He began by regarding democracy as the standard of righteousness, and
ended by asserting that the world only exists for the production of a few
great men. It would be foolish to regard either of the termini as the last
outpost of wisdom. But in the passage between these two points many
excellent things are said by the way. Nietzsche was never enamoured of
socialism or democracy for its own sake ; he will not even admit, reasonably
enough, that we have yet attained democracy ; though the horses, indeed, are
new, as yet “the roads are the same eld roads, the wheels the same old
wheels.” But he points out that the value of democracy lies in its guarantee
of individual freedom : Cyclopean walls are being built, with much toil and
dust, but the walls will be a rampart against any invasion of barbarians or
any new slavery, against the despotism of capital and the despotism of party.
The workers may regard the walls as an end in themselves ; we are free to
value them for the fine flowers of culture which will grow in the gardens they
inclose. To me, at least, this attitude of Nietzsche’s maturity seems the
ample defence of democracy.
Nietzsche was not, however, greatly interested in questions of govern-
ment ; he was far more deeply interested in questions of morals. In his treat-
ment of morals—no doubt chiefly during the last period—there is a certain
element of paradox. He grows altogether impatient of morals, calls himself
an immoralist, fervently exhorts us to become wickeder. But if any young
disciple came to the teacher asking, “What must I do to become wickeder?”
it does not appear that Nietzsche bade him to steal, bear false witness, commit
adultery, or do any other of the familiar and commonly-accepted wicked-
nesses. Nietzsche preached wickedness with the same solemn exaltation as
Carducci lauded Satan. What he desired was far indeed from any rehabili-
tation of easy vice ; it was the justification of neglected and unsanctified
At the same time, and while Nietzsche’s immoralist is just as austere a
person as the mere moralists who have haunted the world for many thousand
years, it is clear that Nietzsche wished strictly to limit the sphere of morals.
He never fails to point out how large a region of life and art lies legitimately
60 THE SAVOY
outside the moral jurisdiction. In an age in which many moralists desire to
force morals into every part of life and art—and even assume a certain air of
virtue in so doing—the “immoralist” who lawfully vindicates any region for
free cultivation is engaged in a proper and wholesome task.
No doubt, however, there will be some to question the value of such a
task. Nietzsche the immoralist can scarcely be welcome in every camp,
although he remains always a force to be reckoned with. The same may be
said of Nietzsche the freethinker. He was, perhaps, the typical freethinker
of the age that comes after Renan. Nietzsche had nothing of Renan’s genial
scepticism and smiling disillusionment ; he was less tender to human weak-
ness, for all his long Christian ancestry less Christian than the Breton
seminarist remained to the last. He seems to have shaken himself altogether
free of Christianity—so free, that except in his last period he even speaks of it
without bitterness—and he remained untouched by any mediaeval dreams, any
nostalgia of the cloister such as now and then pursues even those of us who
are farthest from any faith in Christian dogma. Heathen as he was, I do not
think even Heine’s visions of the gods in exile could have touched him ; he
never felt the charm of fading and faded things. It is remarkable. It is
scarcely less remarkable that, far as he was from Christianity, he was equally
far from what we usually call “paganism,” the pasteboard paganism of easy
self-indulgence and cheerful irresponsibility. It was not so that he under-
stood Hellenism. In a famous essay, Matthew Arnold once remarked that
the ideal Greek world was never sick or sorry. Nietzsche knew better. The
greater part of Greek literature bears witness that the Hellenes were for ever
wrestling with the problems of pain. And none who came after have more
poignantly uttered the pangs of human affairs, or more sweetly the con-
solations of those pangs, than the great disciples of the Greeks who created
the Roman world. The classic world of nymphs and fauns is an invention
of the moderns. The real classic world, like the modern world, was a world
of suffering. The difference lies in the method of facing that suffering.
Nietzsche chose the classic method from no desire to sport with Amaryllis
in the shade, but because he had known forms of torture for which the mild
complacencies of modern faith seemed to offer no relief. If we must regard
Nietzsche as a pagan, it is as the Pascal of paganism. The freethinker, it is
true, was more cheerful and hopeful than the believer, but there is the same
tragic sincerity, the same restless self-torment, the same sense of the abyss.
There still remains Nietzsche, the apostle of culture, the philosopher
engaged in the criiicism of life. From first to last, wherever you open his
FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE 61
books, you light on sayings that cut to the core of the questions that every
modern thinking man must face. I take, almost at random, a few passages
from a single book : of convictions he writes that “a man possesses opinions
as he possesses fish, in so far as he owns a fishing-net ; a man must go fishing
and be lucky, then he has his own fish, his own opinions ; I speak of living
opinions, living fish. Some men are content to possess fossils in their cabinets
—and convictions in their heads.” Of the problem of the relation of science to
culture he says well : “The best and wholesomcst thing in science, as in
mountains, is the air that blows there. It is because of that air that we
spiritual weaklings avoid and defame science ;” and he points out that the
work of science—with its need for sincerity, infinite patience, complete self-
abnegation—calls for men of nobler make than poetry needs. When we have
learnt to trust science and to learn from it, then it will be possible so to tell
natural history that “everyone who hears it is inspired to health and gladness
as the heir and continuer of humanity.” This is how he rebukes those foolish
persons who grow impatient with critics : “Remember that critics are insects
who only sting to live and not to hurt : they want our blood and not our pain.”
And he utters this wise saying, himself forgetting it in later years : “Growth
in wisdom may be exactly measured by decrease in bitterness.” Nietzsche
desires to prove nothing, and is reckless of consistency. He looks at every
question that comes before him with the same simple, intent, penetrative gaze,
and whether the aspects that he reveals are new or old he seldom fails to
bring us a fresh stimulus. Culture, as he understood it, consists for the
modern man in the task of choosing the simple and indispensable things from
the chaos of crude material which to-day overwhelms us. The man who will
live at the level of the culture of his time is like the juggler who must keep a
number of plates spinning in the air ; his life must be a constant training in
suppleness and skill so that he may be a good athlete. But he is also called
on to exercise his skill in the selection and limitation of his task. Nietzsche
is greatly occupied with the simplification of culture. Our suppleness and
skill must be exercised alone on the things that are vital, essential, primitive ;
the rest may be thrown aside. He is for ever challenging the multifarious
materials for culture, testing them with eye and hand ; we cannot prove them
too severely, he seems to say, nor cast aside too contemptuously the things
that a real man has no need of for fine living. What must I do to be saved ?
what do I need for the best and fullest life?—that is the everlasting question
that the teacher of life is called upon to answer. And we cannot be too
grateful to Nietzsche for the stern penetration—the more acute for his ever
62 THE SAVOY
present sense of the limits of energy—with which he points us from amid the
mass to the things which most surely belong to our eternal peace.
Nietzsche’s style has often been praised. The style was certainly the man.
There can be little doubt, moreover, that there is scarcely any other German
style to compare with it, though such eminence means far less in a country
where style has rarely been cultivated than it would mean in France or even
England. Sallust awoke his sense for style, and may account for some
characteristics of his style. He also enthusiastically admired Horace as the
writer who had produced the maximum of energy with the minimum of
material. A concentrated Roman style, significant and weighty at every
point, œre perennius, was always his ideal. Certainly the philologist’s aptitudes
helped here to teach him the value and force of words, as jewels for the gold-
smith to work with, and not as mere worn-out counters to slip through the
fingers. One may call it a muscular style, a style wrought with the skilful
strength of hand and arm. It scarcely appeals to the ear. It lacks the restful
simplicity of the greatest masters, the plangent melody, the seemingly un-
conscious magic quivering along our finest-fibred nerves. Such effects we
seem to hear now and again in Schopenhauer, but rarely or never from any other
German. This style is titanic rather than divine, but the titanic virtues it
certainly possesses in fullest measure : robust and well-tempered vigour, con-
centration, wonderful plastic force in moulding expression. It becomes over-
emphatic at last. When Nietzsche threw aside the dancer’s ideal in order to
“philosophize with the hammer,” the result on his style was as disastrous as
on his thought ; both alike took on the violent and graceless character of the
same implement. He speaks indeed of the virtue of hitting a nail on the head,
but it is a less skilled form of virtue than good dancing.
Whether he was dancing or hammering, however, Nietzsche certainly
converted the whole of himself into his work, as in his view every philosopher
is bound to do, ” for just that art of transformation is philosophy.” That he
was entirely successful in being a “real man” one may doubt. His excessive
sensitiveness to the commonplace in life, and his deficiency in the sexual
instinct—however highly he may have rated the importance of sex in life—
largely cut him off from real fellowship with the men who are most ” real ” to
us. He was less tolerant and less humane than his master Goethe ; his incisive
insight, and, in many respects, better intellectual equipment, are more than
compensated by this lack of breadth. But every man works with the limita-
tions of his qualities, just as we all struggle beneath the weight of the super-
incumbent atmosphere ; our defects are even a part of our qualities, and it
FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE 63
would be foolish to quarrel with them. Nietzsche succeeded in being himself,
and it was a finely rare success. Whether he was a “real man” matters less.
With passionate sincerity he expressed his real self and his best self, abhorring,
on the one hand, what with Verlaine he called “literature,” and, on the other,
all mere indigested material, the result of that mental dyspepsia of which he
regarded Carlyle as the supreme warning. A man’s real self, as he repeated
so often, consists of the things which he has truly digested and assimilated ;
he must always “conquer” his opinions ; it is only such conquests which he
has the right to report to men as his own. His thoughts are born of his pain ;
he has imparted to them of his own blood, his own pleasure and torment.
Nietzsche himself held that suffering and even disease are almost indispens-
able to the philosopher ; great pain is the final emancipator of the spirit,
those great slow pains that take their time, and burn us up like green wood.
“I doubt whether such pain betters us,” he remarks, “but I know that it
deepens us.” That is the stuff of Nietzsche’s Hellenism, as expressed in the
most light-hearted of his books. Virescit voltiere virtus. It is that which
makes him, when all is said, a great critic of life.
It is a consolation to many—I have seen it so stated in a respectable
review—that Nietzsche went mad. No doubt also it was once a consolation
to many that Socrates was poisoned, that Jesus was crucified, that Bruno was
burnt. But hemlock and the cross and the stake proved sorry weapons
against the might of ideas even in those days, and there is no reason to suppose
that a doctor’s certificate will be more effectual in our own. Of old time we
killed our great men as soon as their visionary claims became inconvenient ;
now, in our mercy, we leave the tragedy of genius to unroll itself to the bitter
close. The devils to whom the modern Faustus is committed have waxed
cunning with the ages. Nietzsche has met, in its most relentless form, the fate
of Pascal and Swift and Rousseau. That fact may carry what weight it will
in any final estimate of his place as a moral teacher : it cannot touch his
position as an immensely significant personality. It must still be affirmed
that the nineteenth century has produced no more revolutionary and
A Woman speaks:
MY little slave!
Wouldst thou escape me? Only in the grave.
I will be poison to thee, honey-sweet,
And, my poison having tasted,
Thou shalt be delicately wasted,
Yet shalt thou live by that delicious death
Thou hast drunken from my breath,
Thou didst with my kisses eat.
I will be thy desire, and thou shalt flee me,
Thy enemy, and thou shalt seek:
My strength is to be weak,
And if through tears, not through thy tears, thou see me,
Beware, for of my kisses if thou tire,
Not of my tears,
Not of my tears shalt thou put off desire
Before the end of years.
What wouldst thou of me, little slave? my heart?
Nay, be content, here are mine arms around thee,
Be thou content that I have found thee,
And that I shall not suffer thee depart.
Ask nothing more of me.
Have I not given thee more than thou canst measure?
Take thou thy fill of pleasure.
Exult that thou art mine: think what it is
To be without my kiss;
Not to have known me is to know not love.
Think, to have known me not!
Heart may indeed from heart remove,
Body by body may not be forgot.
STELLA MALIGNA 65
Thou hast been mine: ask nothing more of me.
My heart is not for thee.
Child, leave me then my heart;
I hold it in a folded peace apart,
I hold it for mine own.
There, in the quietness of dreams, it broods
Above untroubled moods,
No man hath been so near me as to have known.
The rest is thine : ah, take
The gift I have to give, my body, lent
For thy unsatisfied content,
For thy insatiable desire’s compelling,
And let me for my pleasure make
For my own heart a lonely dwelling.
Thou wilt not ? Thou wilt summon sorrow
From morrow unto endless morrow?
Thou wilt endure unto the uttermost?
Ah ! little slave, my slave,
Thou shalt endure until desire be lost
In the achievement of the grave.
Thou shalt endure, and I, in dreams, behold,
Within my paradise of gold,
Thy heart’s blood flowering for my peace;
And thy passion shall release
The secret light that in the lily glows,
The miracle of the secret rose.
THE DYING OF FRANCIS DONNE
“Memento homo, quia pulvis es et in pulverem reverteris”
HE had lived so long in the meditation of death, visited it so
often in others, studied it with such persistency, with a
sentiment in which horror and fascination mingled ; but it
had always been, as it were, an objective, alien fact, remote
from himself and his own life. So that it was in a sudden
flash, quite too stupefying to admit in the first instance
of terror, that knowledge of his mortality dawned on him. There was
absurdity in the idea too.
“I, Francis Donne, thirty-five and some months old, am going to die,” he
said to himself; and fantastically he looked at his image in the glass, and
sought, but quite vainly, to find some change in it which should account
for this incongruity, just as, searching in his analytical habit into the recesses
of his own mind, he could find no such alteration of his inner consciousness as
would explain or justify his plain conviction. And quickly, with reason and
casuistry, he sought to rebut that conviction.
The quickness of his mind—it had never seemed to him so nimble,
so exquisite a mechanism of syllogism and deduction—was contraposed against
his blind instinct of the would-be self-deceiver, in a conflict to which the
latter brought something of desperation, the fierce, agonized desperation of
a hunted animal at bay. But piece by piece the chain of evidence was
strengthened. That subtile and agile mind of his, with its special knowledge,
cut clean through the shrinking protests of instinct, removing them as surely
and as remorselessly, he reflected in the image most natural to him, as the
keen blade of his surgical knives had removed malignant ulcers.
“I, Francis Donne, am going to die,” he repeated, and, presently, “I am
going to die soon; in a few months, in six perhaps, certainly in a year.”
THE DYING OF FRANCIS DONNE 67
Once more, curiously, but this time with a sense of neutrality, as he had
often diagnosed a patient, he turned to the mirror. Was it his fancy, or,
perhaps, only for the vague light that he seemed to discover a strange gray
tone about his face ?
But he had always been a man of a very sallow complexion.
There were a great many little lines, like pen-scratches, scarring the
parchment-like skin beneath the keen eyes : doubtless, of late, these had
multiplied, become more noticeable, even when his face was in repose.
But, of late, what with his growing practice, his lectures, his writing ;
all the unceasing labour, which his ambitions entailed, might well have aged
him somewhat. That dull, immutable pain, which had first directed his
attention from his studies, his investigations, his profession, to his corporal
self, the actual Francis Donne, that pain which he would so gladly have
called inexplicable, but could explain so precisely, had ceased for the moment.
Nerves, fancies ! How long it was since he had taken any rest ! He had
often intended to give himself holiday, but something had always intervened.
But he would do so now, yes, almost immediately ; a long, long holiday—he
would grudge nothing—somewhere quite out of the way, somewhere, where
there was fishing ; in Wales, or perhaps in Brittany ; that would surely set
And even while he promised himself this necessary relaxation in the
immediate future, as he started on his afternoon round, in the background
of his mind there lurked the knowledge of its futility ; rest, relaxation, all
that, at this date, was, as it were, some tardy sacrifice, almost hypocritical,
which he offered to powers who might not be propitiated.
Once in his neat brougham, the dull pain began again ; but by an effort
of will he put it away from him. In the brief interval from house to house—
he had some dozen visits to make—he occupied himself with a medical paper,
glanced at the notes of a lecture he was giving that evening at a certain
Institute on the “Limitations of Medicine.”
He was late, very late for dinner, and his man, Bromgrove, greeted him
with a certain reproachfulness, in which he traced, or seemed to trace, a half-
patronizing sense of pity. He reminded himself that on more than one
occasion, of late, Bromgrove’s manner had perplexed him. He was glad to
rebuke the man irritably on some pretext, to dismiss him from the room, and
he hurried, without appetite, through the cold or overdone food which was
the reward of his tardiness.
His lecture over, he drove out to South Kensington, to attend a reception
68 THE SAVOY
at the house of a great man—great not only in the scientific world, but also
in the world of letters. There was some of the excitement of success in his
eyes as he made his way, with smiles and bows, in acknowledgment of many
compliments, through the crowded rooms. For Francis Donne’s lectures—
those of them which were not entirely for the initiated—had grown into the
importance of a social function. They had almost succeeded in making
science fashionable, clothing its dry bones in a garment of so elegantly-
literary a pattern. But even in the ranks of the profession it was only the
envious, the unsuccessful, who ventured to say that Donne had sacrificed
doctrine to popularity, that his science was, in their contemptuous parlance,
Yes, he had been very successful, as the world counts success, and his
consciousness of this fact, and the influence of the lights, the crowd, the
voices, was like absinthe on his tired spirit. He had forgotten, or thought he
had forgotten, the phantom of the last few days, the phantom which was
surely waiting for him at home.
But he was reminded by a certain piece of news which late in the evening
fluttered the now diminished assembly : the quite sudden death of an eminent
surgeon, expected there that night, an acquaintance of his own, and more or
less of each one of the little, intimate group which tarried to discuss it. With
sympathy, with a certain awe, they spoke of him, Donne and the others ; and
both the awe and the sympathy were genuine.
But as he drove home, leaning back in his carriage, in a discouragement,
in a lethargy, which was only partly due to physical reaction, he saw visibly
underneath their regret—theirs and his own—the triumphant assertion of
life, the egoism of instinct. They were sorry, but oh, they were glad ! royally
glad, that it was another, and not they themselves whom something mysterious
had of a sudden snatched away from his busy career, his interests, perhaps
from all intelligence ; at least, from all the pleasant sensuousness of life, the
joy of the visible world, into darkness. And he knew the sentiment, and
honestly dared not blame it. How many times had not he, Francis Donne
himself experienced it, that egoistic assertion of life in the presence of the
dead—the poor, irremediable dead ? . . . And now, he was only good to give
it to others.
Latterly, he had been in the habit of subduing sleeplessness with injec-
tions of morphia, indeed in infinitesimal quantities. But to-night, although
he was more than usually restless and awake, by a strong effort of reasonable-
ness he resisted his impulse to take out the little syringe. The pain was at
THE DYING OF FRANCIS DONNE 69
him again with the same dull and stupid insistence ; in its monotony, losing
some of the nature of pain and becoming a mere nervous irritation. But he
was aware that it would not continue like that. Daily, almost hourly, it
would gather strength and cruelty ; the moments of respite from it would
become rarer, would cease. From a dull pain it would become an acute
pain, and then a torture, and then an agony, and then a madness. And
in those last days, what peace might be his would be the peace of morphia,
so that it was essential that, for the moment, he should not abuse the
And as he knew that sleep was far away from him, he propped himself
up with two pillows, and by the light of a strong reading-lamp settled himself
to read. He had selected the work of a distinguished German savant upon
the cardial functions, and a short treatise of his own, which was covered
with recent annotations, in his crabbed hand-writing, upon “Aneurism of the
Heart.” He read avidly, and against his own deductions, once more his
instinct raised a vain protest. At last he threw the volumes aside, and lay
with his eyes shut, without, however, extinguishing the light. A terrible
sense of helplessness overwhelmed him ; he was seized with an immense and
heart-breaking pity for poor humanity as personified in himself; and, for the
first time since he had ceased to be a child, he shed puerile tears.
The faces of his acquaintance, the faces of the students at his lectures,
the faces of Francis Donne’s colleagues at the hospital, were altered ; were, at
least, sensibly altered to his morbid self-consciousness. In every one whom
he encountered, he detected, or fancied that he detected, an attitude of
evasion, a hypocritical air of ignoring a fact that was obvious and unpleasant.
Was it so obvious, then, the hidden horror which he carried incessantly about
with him ? Was his secret, which he would still guard so jealously, become
a byword and an anecdote in his little world ? And a great rage consumed
him against the inexorable and inscrutable forces which had made him to
destroy him ; against himself, because of his proper impotence ; and, above
all, against the living, the millions who would remain when he was no longer,
the living, of whom many would regret him (some of them his personality,
and more, his skill), because he could see under all the unconscious hypocrisy
of their sorrow, the exultant self-satisfaction of their survival.
And with his burning sense of helplessness, of a certain bitter injustice
70 THE SAVOY
in things, a sense of shame mingled ; all the merely physical dishonour of
death shaping itself to his sick and morbid fancy into a violent symbol of what
was, as it were, an actually moral or intellectual dishonour. Was not death,
too, inevitable and natural an operation as it was, essentially a process to
undergo apart and hide jealously, as much as other natural and ignoble
processes of the body ?
And the animal, who steals away to an uttermost place in the forest, who
gives up his breath in a solitude and hides his dying like a shameful thing,—
might he not offer an example that it would be well for the dignity of poor
humanity to follow?
Since Death is coming to me, said Francis Donne to himself, let me meet
it, a stranger in a strange land, with only strange faces round me and the kind
indifference of strangers, instead of the intolerable pity of friends.
On the bleak and wave-tormented coast of Finistère, somewhere between
Quiberon and Fouesnant, he reminded himself of a little fishing-village : a few
scattered houses (one of them being an auberge at which ten years ago he had
spent a night,) collected round a poor little gray church. Thither Francis
Donne went, without leave-takings or explanation, almost secretly, giving but
the vaguest indications of the length or direction of his absence. And there
for many days he dwelt, in the cottage which he had hired, with one old
Breton woman for his sole attendant, in a state of mind which, after all the
years of energy, of ambitious labour, was almost peace.
Bleak and gray it had been, when he had visited it of old, in the late
autumn ; but now the character, the whole colour of the country was changed.
It was brilliant with the promise of summer, and the blue Atlantic, which in
winter churned with its long crested waves so boisterously below the little
white light-house, which warned mariners (alas ! so vainly), against the shark-
like cruelty of the rocks, now danced and glittered in the sunshine, rippled
with feline caresses round the hulls of the fishing-boats whose brown sails
floated so idly in the faint air.
Above the village, on a grassy slope, whose green was almost lurid,
Francis Donne lay, for many silent hours, looking out at the placid sea, which
could yet be so ferocious, at the low violet line of the Island of Groix, which
alone interrupted the monotony of sky and ocean.
He had brought many books with him but he read in them rarely ; and
THE DYING OF FRANCIS DONNE 71
when physical pain gave him a respite for thought, he thought almost of
nothing. His thought was for a long time a lethargy and a blank.
Now and again he spoke with some of the inhabitants. They were a
poor and hardy, but a kindly race : fishers and the wives of fishers, whose
children would grow up and become fishermen and the wives of fishermen in
their turn. Most of them had wrestled with death ; it was always so near to
them that hardly one of them feared it ; they were fatalists, with the grim and
resigned fatalism of the poor, of the poor who live with the treachery of
Francis Donne visited the little cemetery, and counted the innumerable
crosses which testified to the havoc which the sea had wrought. Some of the
graves were nameless ; holding the bodies of strange seamen which the waves
had tossed ashore.
“And in a little time I shall lie here,” he said to himself; “and here
as well as elsewhere,” he added with a shrug, assuming, and, for once, almost
sincerely, the stoicism of his surroundings, “and as lief to-day as to-morrow.”
On the whole, the days were placid ; there were even moments when, as
though he had actually drunk in renewed vigour from that salt sea air, the
creative force of the sun, he was tempted to doubt his grievous knowledge, to
make fresh plans of life. But these were fleeting moments, and the reaction
from them was terrible. Each day his hold on life was visibly more slender, and
the people of the village saw, and with a rough sympathy, which did not
offend him, allowed him to perceive that they saw, the rapid growth and the
inevitableness of his end.
But if the days were not without their pleasantness, the nights were
always horrible—a torture of the body and an agony of the spirit. Sleep was
far away, and the brain, which had been lulled till the evening, would awake,
would grow electric with life and take strange and abominable flights into the
darkness of the pit, into the black night of the unknowable and the unknown.
And interminably, during those nights which seemed eternity, Francis
Donne questioned and examined into the nature of that Thing, which stood,
a hooded figure beside his bed, with a menacing hand raised to beckon him
so peremptorily from all that lay within his consciousness.
He had been all his life absorbed in science ; he had dissected, how many
bodies ? and in what anatomy had he ever found a soul ? Yet if his avocations,
72 THE SAVOY
his absorbing interest in physical phenomena had made him somewhat a
materialist, it had been almost without his consciousness. The sensible,
visible world of matter had loomed so large to him, that merely to know
that had seemed to him sufficient. All that might conceivably lie outside it,
he had, without negation, been content to regard as outside his province.
And now, in his weakness, in the imminence of approaching dissolution,
his purely physical knowledge seemed but a vain possession, and he turned
with a passionate interest to what had been said and believed from time
immemorial by those who had concentrated their intelligence on that strange
essence, which might after all be the essence of one’s personality, which might
be that sublimated consciousness—the Soul—actually surviving the infamy of
the grave ?
Animula, vagula, blandula !
Hospes comesque corporis,
Qua? nunc abibis in loca?
Pallidula, rigida, nudula.
Ah, the question ! It was an harmony, perhaps (as, who had maintained ?
whom the Platonic Socrates in the “Phaedo” had not too successfully refuted),
an harmony of life, which was dissolved when life was over ? Or, perhaps, as
how many metaphysicians had held both before and after a sudden great
hope, perhaps too generous to be true, had changed and illuminated, to count-
less millions, the inexorable figure of Death—a principle, indeed, immortal,
which came and went, passing through many corporal conditions until it was
ultimately resolved into the great mind, pervading all things? Perhaps? . . .
But what scanty consolation, in all such theories, to the poor body, racked with
pain and craving peace, to the tortured spirit of self-consciousness so achingly
anxious not to be lost.
And he turned from these speculations to what was, after all, a possibility
like the others ; the faith of the simple, of these fishers with whom he lived,
which was also the faith of his own childhood, which, indeed, he had never
repudiated, whose practices he had simply discarded, as one discards puerile
garments when one comes to man’s estate. And he remembered, with the
vividness with which, in moments of great anguish, one remembers things
long ago familiar, forgotten though they may have been for years, the
triumphant declarations of the Church :
“Omnes quidem resurgemus, sed non omnes immutabimur. In momento, in
ictu oculi, in novissima tuba : canet enim tuba : et mortui resurgent incorrupti, et
nos immutabimur. Oportet enim corruptibile hoc induere immortalitatem. Cum
THE DYING OF FRANCIS DONNE 73
autem mortale hoc induerit immortalitatem tunc fiet sermo qui scriptus est :
Absorpta est mors in victoria. Ubi est, mors, victoria tua ? Ubt est, mors,
stimulus tuus ?”
Ah, for the certitude of that ! of that victorious confutation of the
apparent destruction of sense and spirit in a common ruin. . . . But it was a
possibility like the rest ; and had it not more need than the rest to be more
than a possibility, if it would be a consolation, in that it promised more?
And he gave it up, turning his face to the wall, lay very still, imagining
himself already stark and cold, his eyes closed, his jaw closely tied (lest the
ignoble changes which had come to him should be too ignoble), while he
waited until the narrow boards, within which he should lie, had been nailed
together, and the bearers were ready to convey him into the corruption which
was to be his part.
And as the window-pane grew light with morning, he sank into a drugged,
unrestful sleep, from which he would awake some hours later with eyes more
sunken and more haggard cheeks. And that was the pattern of many
One day he seemed to wake from a night longer and more troubled than
usual, a night which had, perhaps, been many nights and days, perhaps even
weeks ; a night of an ever-increasing agony, in which he was only dimly con-
scious at rare intervals of what was happening, or of the figures coming and
going around his bed : the doctor from a neighbouring town, who had stayed
by him unceasingly, easing his paroxysms with the little merciful syringe ; the
soft, practised hands of a sister of charity about his pillow ; even the face of
Bromgrove, for whom doubtless he had sent, when he had foreseen the utter
helplessness which was at hand.
He opened his eyes, and seemed to discern a few blurred figures against
the darkness of the closed shutters through which one broad ray filtered in ;
but he could not distinguish their faces, and he closed his eyes once more.
An immense and ineffable tiredness had come over him, but the pain— oh,
miracle ! had ceased. . . . And it suddenly flashed over him that this—this
was Death ; this was the thing against which he had cried and revolted ; the
horror from which he would have escaped ; this utter luxury of physical
exhaustion, this calm, this release.
The corporal capacity of smiling had passed from him, but he would fain
74 THE SAVOY
And for a few minutes of singular mental lucidity, all his life flahsed
before him in a new relief; his childhood, his adolescence, the people whom
he had known ; his mother, who had died when he was a boy, of a malady
from which, perhaps, a few years later, his skill had saved her ; the friend of
his youth who had shot himself for so little reason ; the girl whom he had
loved, but who had not loved him. . . . All that was distorted in life was
adjusted and justified in the light of his sudden knowledge. Beati mortui . . .
and then the great tiredness swept over him once more, and a fainter con-
sciousness, in which he could yet just dimly hear, as in a dream, the sound of
Latin prayers, and feel the application of the oils upon all the issues and
approaches of his wearied sense ; then utter unconsciousness, while pulse and
heart gradually grew fainter until both ceased. And that was all.
HAWKER OF MORWENSTOW
STRONG shepherd of thy sheep, pasturers of the sea :
Far on the Western marge, thy passionate Cornish land !
Ah, that from out thy Paradise thou couldst thine hand
Reach forth to mine, and I might tell my love to thee !
For one the faith, and one the joy, of thee and me,
Catholic faith and Celtic joy : I understand
Somewhat, I too, the messengers from Sion strand ;
The voices and the visions of the Mystery.
Ah, not the Chaunt alone was thine : thine too the Quest !
And at the last the Sangraal of the Paschal Christ
Flashed down Its fair red Glory to those dying eyes :
They closed in death, and opened on the Victim’s Breast.
Now, while they look for ever on the Sacrificed,
Remember, how thine ancient race in twilight lies !
MOTHER ANN: FOUNDRESS OF THE SHAKERS
WHITE were the ardours of thy soul, O wan Ann Lee !
Thou spirit of fine fire, for every storm to shake !
They shook indeed the quivering flame ; yet could not make
Its passionate light expire, but only make it flee :
Over the vast, the murmuring, the embittered sea,
Driven, it gleamed : no agonies availed to break
That burning heart, so hot for heavenly passion’s sake ;
The heart, that beat, and burned, and agonized, in thee !
76 THE SAVOY
Thou knewest not : yet thine was altar flame astray :
Poor exiled, wandering star, that might’st have stayed and stood
Hard by the Holy Host, close to the Holy Rood,
Illumining the great one Truth, one Life, one Way !
O piteous pilgrim pure amid night’s sisterhood :
For thee doth Mother Mary, Star of Morning, pray
MÜNSTER: a.d. 1534
WE are the golden men, who shall the people save :
For only ours are visions, perfect and divine ;
And we alone are drunken with the last best wine ;
And very Truth our souls hath flooded, wave on wave.
Come, wretched death’s inheritors, who dread the grave !
Come ! for upon our brows is set the starry sign
Of prophet, priest, and king : star of the Lion’s line !
Leave Abana, leave Pharpar, and in Jordan lave !
It thundered, and we heard : it lightened, and we saw :
Our hands have torn in twain the Tables of the Law :
Sons of the Spirit, we know nothing more of sin.
Come ! from the Tree of Eden take the mystic fruit :
Come ! pluck up God’s own knowledge by the abysmal root :
Come ! you, who would the Reign of Paradise begin.
THE GINGERBREAD FAIR AT VINCENNES
THE tram rolls heavily through the sunshine, on the way to
Vincennes. The sun beats on one’s head like the glow of
a furnace ; we are in the second week of May, and the hour
is between one and two in the afternoon. From the Place
Voltaire, all along the dingy boulevard, there are signs of the
fair : first, little stalls, with the refuse of ironmonger and
pastry-cook, then little booths, then a few roundabouts, the wooden horses
standing motionless. At the Place de la Nation we have reached the fair
itself. Already the roundabouts swarm in gorgeous inactivity ; shooting-
galleries with lofty names—Tir Metropolitan, Tir de Lutèce—lead on to the
establishments of cochonnerie, the gingerbread pigs, which have given its name
to the Foire an pain d’pice. From between the two pillars, each with its airy
statue, we can look right on, through lanes of stalls and alleys of dusty trees,
to the railway bridge which crosses the other end of the Cours de Vincennes,
just before it subsides into the desolate boulevard Soult and the impoverished
grass of the ramparts. ŠHardly anyone passes : the fair, which is up late, sleeps
till three. ŠI saunter slowly along, watching the drowsy attitudes of the women
behind their stalls, the men who lounge beside their booths. Only the pho-
tographer is in activity, and as you pause a moment to note his collection of
grimacing and lachrymose likenesses (probably very like), a framed horror is
thrust into your hand, and a voice insinuates : “Six pour un sou, Monsieur !”
To stroll through the fair just now is to have a sort of “Private View.”
The hour of disguises has not yet begun. The heavy girl who, in an hour’s
time, will pose in rosy tights and cerulean tunic on those trestles yonder in front
of the theatre, sits on the ladder-staircase of her “jivin wardo,” her “living
80 THE SAVOY
waggon,” as the gipsies call it, diligently mending, with the help of scissors
and thread, a piece of canvas which is soon to be a castle or a lake. A lion-
tamer, in his shirt-sleeves is chatting with the proprietress of a collection of
waxworks. A fairy queen is washing last week’s tights in a great tub. And
booths and theatres seem to lounge in the same désliabille. With their vacant
platforms, their closed doors, their too visible masterpieces of coloured canvas,
they stand, ugly and dusty, every crack and patch exposed by the pitiless
downpour of the sunlight. Here is the show of Pezon, the old lion-tamer,
who is now assisted by his son ; opposite, his rival and constant neighbour,
Bidel. The Grand Theatre Cocherie announces its “grande féerie” in three
acts and twenty tableaux. A “concert international” succeeds a very dismal-
looking “Temple de la Gaieté.” Here is the Théâtre Macketti ; here the
“Grande Musée Vivant” ; here a “Galerie artistique” at one sou. “Laurent,
inimitable dompteur (pour la première fois a Paris),” has for companion
“Juliano et ses fauves : Fosse aux Lions.” There is a very large picture of a
Soudanese giant— “il est ici, le géant Soudanais : 2ᵐ 20 de hauteur”—outside
a very small tent ; the giant, very black in the face, and very red as to his
habiliments, holds a little black infant in the palm of his hand, and by his side,
carefully avoiding (by a delicacy of the painter) a too direct inspection, stands
a gendarme, who extends five fingers in a gesture of astonishment, somewhat
out of keeping with the perfect placidity of his face. “ThéĊtres des Illusions”
flourish side by side with “Musées artistiques,” in which the latest explosive
Anarchist, or “le double crime du boulevard du Temple,” is the “great attrac-
tion” of the moment. Highly coloured and freely designed pictures of nymphs
and naiads are accompanied by such seductive and ingenuous recommendations
as this, which I copy textually : I cannot reproduce the emphasis of the
lettering : “Etoiles Animées. Filles de l’Air. Nouvelle attraction par le pro-
fesseur Julius. Pourquoi Mile. Isaure est-elle appelée Déesse des Eaux ? C’est
par sa Grâce et son pouvoir mystérieux de paraitre au milieu des Eaux limpides,
devant tous les spectateurs qui deviendront ses Admirateurs. En Plein ThéĊtre
la belle Isaure devient Syrène et Nayade ! charme par ses jeux sveltes et
souples, apparaît en Plein Mer, et presentee par le professeur Julius à chaque
représentation. Plusieurs pĊles imitateurs essayent de copier la belle Isaure,
mais le vrai Public, amateur du Vrai et du Beau, dira que la Copie ne vaut
pas l’original.” And there is a “Jardin mystérieux” which represents an
improbable harem, with an undesirable accompaniment of performing reptiles.
Before this tent I pause, but not for the sake of its announcements. In the
doorway sits a beautiful young girl of about sixteen, a Jewess, with a face that
THE GINGERBREAD FAIR AT VINCENNES 81
Leonardo might have painted. A red frock reaches to her knees, her thin legs,
in white tights, are crossed nonchalantly ; in her black hair there is the sparkle
of false diamonds, ranged in a tiara above the gracious contour of her forehead ;
and she sits there, motionless, looking straight before her with eyes that see
nothing, absorbed in some vague reverie, the Monna Lisa of the Gingerbread
It is half-past three, and the Cours de Vincennes is a carnival of colours,
sounds, and movements. Looking from the Place de la Nation, one sees
a long thin line of customers along the stalls of bonbons and gingerbread, and
the boulevard has the air of a black-edged sheet of paper, until the eye reaches
the point where the shows begin. Then the crowd is seen in black patches,
sometimes large, extending half across the road, sometimes small ; every now
and then, one of the black patches thins rapidly, as the people mount the plat-
form, or as there is a simultaneous movement from one point of attraction
to another. At one’s back the roundabouts are squealing the “répertoire
Paulus,” in front there is a continuous, deafening rumble of drums, with an
inextricable jangle and jumble of brass bands, each playing a different tune,
all at once, and all close together. Shrill or hoarse voices are heard for a
moment, to be drowned the next by the intolerable drums and cornets. As
one moves slowly down the long avenue, distracted by the cries, the sounds,
coming from both sides at once, it is quite another aspect that is presented by
those dingy platforms, those gaping canvases, of but an hour ago. Every plat-
form is alive with human frippery. A clown in reds and yellows, with a floured
and rouged face, bangs a big drum, an orchestra (sometimes of one, sometimes
of fifteen) “blows through brass” with the full power of its lungs ; fulgently and
scantily attired ladies throng the foreground, a man in plain clothes squanders
the remains of a voice in howling the attractions of the interior, and in the back-
ground, at a little table, an opulent lady sits at the receipt of custom, with the
business-like solemnity of the dame du comptoir of a superior restaurant.
Occasionally there is a pas seul, more often an indifferent waltz, at times an
impromptu comedy. Outside Bidel’s establishment a tired and gentle drome-
dary rubs its nose against the pole to which it is tied ; elsewhere a monkey-
swings on a trapeze ; a man with a snake about his shoulders addresses the
crowd, and my Monna Lisa, too, has twined a snake around her, and stands
holding the little malevolent head in her fingers, like an exquisite and harmless
82 THE SAVOY
Under the keen sunlight every tint stands out sharply, and to pass
between those two long lines of gesticulating figures is to plunge into an
orgy of clashing colours. All the women wear the coarsest of worsted tights,
meant, for the most part, to be flesh-colour, but it varies, through all the
shades, from the palest of pink to the brightest of red. Often the tights
are patched, sometimes they are not even patched. The tunic may be mauve,
or orange, or purple, or blue ; it is generally open in front, showing a close-
fitting jersey of the same colour as the tights. The arms are bare, the faces, as
a rule, made up with discretion and restraint. There is one woman (she must
once have been very beautiful) who appears in ballet skirts ; there is a man in
blue-grey cloak and hood, warriors in plumes and cuirass ; but for the most
part it is the damsels in flesh-coloured tights and jerseys who parade on the
platforms outside the theatres. When they break into a waltz it is always the
most dissonant of mauves and pinks and purples that choose one another as
partners. As the girls move carelessly and clumsily round in the dance, they
continue the absorbing conversations in which they are mostly engaged.
Rarely does anyone show the slightest interest in the crowd whose eyes are all
fixed—so thirstingly !—upon them. They stand or move as they are told,
mechanically, indifferently, and that is all. Often, but not always, well-formed,
they have occasionally pretty faces as well. There is a brilliant little creature,
one of the crowd of warriors outside the Théâtre Cocherie, who has quite
an individual type of charm and intelligence. She has a boyish face, little
black curls on her forehead, a proud, sensitive mouth, and black eyes full of
wit and defiance. As Miss Angelina, “artiste gymnasiarque, équilibriste et
danseuse,” goes through a very ordinary selection of steps (“rocks,” “scissors,”
and the like, as they are called in the profession), Julienne’s eyes devour every
movement : she is learning how to do it, and will practise it herself, without
telling anyone, until she can surprise them some day by taking Miss Angelina’s
But it is at night, towards nine o’clock, that the fair is at its best. The
painted faces, the crude colours, assume their right aspect, become harmonious,
under the artificial light. The dancing pinks and reds whirl on the platforms,
flash into the gas-light, disappear for an instant into a solid shadow, against
the light, emerge vividly. The moving black masses surge to and fro before
the booths ; from the side one sees lines of rigid figures, faces that the light
shows in eager profile. Outside the ThéĊtre Cocherie there is a shifting light
THE GINGERBREAD FAIR AT VINCENNES 83
which turns a dazzling glitter, moment by moment, across the road ; it
plunges like a sword into one of the trees opposite, casts a glow as of white
fire over the transfigured green of leaves and branches, and then falls off,
baffled by the impenetrable leafage. As the light drops suddenly on the crowd,
an instant before only dimly visible, it throws into fierce relief the intent eyes,
the gaping mouths, the unshaven cheeks, darting into the hollows of broken
teeth, pointing cruelly at every scar and wrinkle. As it swings round in the
return, it dazzles the eyes of one tall girl at the end of the platform, among the
warriors : she turns away her head, or grimaces. In the middle of the platform
there is a violent episode of horse-play : a man in plain clothes belabours two
clowns with a sounding lath, and is in turn belaboured ; then the three rush
together, pell-mell, roll over one another, bump down the steps to the ground,
return, recommence, with the vigour and gusto of schoolboys in a scrimmage.
Further on a white clown tumbles on a stage, girls in pink and black and
white move vaguely before a dark red curtain, brilliant red breeches sparkle, a
girl en garçon, standing at one side in a graceful pose which reveals her fine
outlines, shows a motionless silhouette, cut out sharply against the light ; the
bell rings, the drum beats, a large blonde-wigged woman, dressed in Louis
XIV., cries her wares and holds up placards, white linen with irregular black
lettering. çOutside a boxing booth a melancholy lean man blows inaudibly
into a horn ; his cheeks puff, his fingers move, but not a sound can be heard
above the thunder of the band of Laurent le Dompteur. Before the ombres
chinoises a lamp hanging to a tree sheds its light on a dark red background,
on the gendarme who moves across the platform, on the pink and green hat
of Madame, and her plump hand supporting her chin, on Monsieur’s irre-
proachable silk hat and white whiskers. Near by is a theatre where they are
giving the “Cloches de Corneville,” and the platform is thronged with lounging
girls in tights. They turn their backs unconcernedly to the crowd, and the light
falls on pointed shoulder-blades, one distinguishes the higher vertebra; of the
spine. A man dressed in a burlesque female costume kicks a print dress
extravagantly into the air, flutters a ridiculous fan, with mincing airs, with
turns and somersaults. People begin to enter, and the platform clears ; a line
of figures marches along the narrow footway running the length of the building,
to a curtained entrance at the end. The crowd in front melts away, straggles
across the road to another show, straggling back again as the drum begins to
beat and the line of figures marches back to the stage.
In front, at the outskirts of the crowd, two youngsters in blouses have
begun to dance, kicking their legs in the air, to the strains of a mazurka ; and
84 THE SAVOY
now two women circle. A blind man, in the space between two booths, sits
holding a candle in his hand, a pitiful object ; the light falls on his straw hat,
the white placard on his breast, his face is in shadow. As I pause before a
booth where a fat woman in tights flourishes a pair of boxing gloves, I find
myself by the side of my Monna Lisa of the enchanted garden. Her show is
over, and she is watching the others. She wears a simple black dress and a
dark blue apron ; her hair is neatly tied back with a ribbon. She is quite
ready to be amused, and it is not only I, but the little professional lady, who
laughs at the farce which begins on a neighbouring stage, where a patch-work
clown comes out arm in arm with a nightmare of a pelican, the brown legs
very human, the white body and monstrous orange bill very fearsome and
fantastic. A pale Pierrot languishes against a tree : I see him as I turn to go,
and, looking back, I can still distinguish the melancholy figure above the
waltz of the red and pink and purple under the lights, the ceaseless turning
of those human dolls, with their fixed smile, their painted colours.
It is half-past eleven, and the fair is over for the night. One by one the
lights are extinguished ; faint glimmers appear in the little square windows of
dressing-rooms and sleeping-rooms ; silhouettes cross and re-cross the drawn
blinds, with lifted arms and huddled draperies. The gods of tableaux vivants,
negligently modern in attire, stroll off across the road to find a comrade,
rolling a cigarette between their fingers. Monna Lisa passes rapidly, with her
brother, carrying a marketing basket. And it is a steady movement town-
wards ; the very stragglers prepare to go, stopping, from time to time, to buy
a great gingerbread pig with Jean or Suzanne scrawled in great white letters
across it. Outside one booth, not yet closed, I am arrested by the desolation
of a little frail creature, with a thin, suffering, painted face, his pink legs
crossed, who sits motionless by the side of the great drum, looking down
wearily at the cymbals that he still holds in his hands. In the open spaces
roundabouts turn, turn, a circle of moving lights, encircled by a thin line of
black shadows. The sky darkens, a little wind is rising ; the night, after this
day of heat, will be stormy. And still, to the waltz measure of the round-
abouts, turning, turning frantically, the last lingerers defy the midnight, a
dance of shadows.
THE SONG OF THE WOMEN
A WEALDEN TRIO
WHEN ye’ve got a child ’at ’s whist for want of food,
And a grate as grey ’s y’r ’air for want of wood,
And y’r man and you ain’t nowise not much good ;
It’s hard work a-Christmassing,
Singin’ songs about the “Babe what ’s born.”
2nd Voice :
When ye’ve ’eered the bailiff’s ’and upon the latch,
And ye’ve feeled the rain a-trickling through the thatch
An’ y’r man can’t git no stones to break ner yit no sheep to watch—
86 THE SAVOY
We got to come a-Christmassing,
Singin’ of the “Shepherds on that morn.”
3rd Voice, more cheerfully :
’E was a man’s poor as us, very near,
An’ ’E ’ad ’is trials and danger,
An’ I think ’E ’ll think of us when ’E sees us singing ’ere ;
For ’is mother was poor like us, poor dear,
An’ she bore him in a manger.
Oh— It’s warm in the heavens but it’s cold upon the earth ;
An’ we ain’t no food at table nor no fire upon the hearth ;
And it’s bitter hard a-Christmassing ;
Singin’ songs about our Saviour’s birth ;
Singin’ songs about the Babe what’s born ;
Singin’ of the shepherds on that morn.
Ford Madox Hueffer.
DOCTOR AND PATIENT
THE doctor sat at the bedside of his old friend, now his patient,
who was dying, inevitably dying. Accustomed as he was to
the presence of death, this passing away of a man to whom
he was bound by the tie of a thousand common associations
added a freshness to its aspect, to its profound mysteries, its
terrors. He was inexpressibly sorry. Still, at this critical
moment, with the pale image of the invalid before him, while breathing the
atmosphere of the sick room, his thoughts were remote from the bedside ; he
was preoccupied by another grief.
The patient had realized his fate, he knew that he was on the point
of dying, that the thing was inevitable, and he was reconciled. He waited on
the threshold of death, calmly, without fear ; he seemed to feel the gradual
absorption of his soul into the unknown, to be conscious of a gradual efface-
ment, and the sensation filled him only with a benign curiosity.
With the quickened sensitiveness of an invalid the sick man understood
that his companion at his bedside was troubled, his good friend who had
nursed him with so eager a devotion ; and at first he thought, and the thought
occasioned him a tranquil, warming sense of gratitude, that it was the con-
templation of the slender link which held him to life that was the cause. But
a little later, with still quicker intuition, he divined that the trouble had
its origin in another source, that he himself was not concerned in it. The com-
prehension of this did not embitter his mind nor diminish its tranquillity ;
he was, indeed, this dying man, sorry for the man of life, for the man of robust
health, sorry that he should be in some unknown pain.
“What is the matter with you, Philip ? Something has not gone well
with you ; something is bothering you,” he said at last.
The doctor took his hand and caressed it quietly. “Are you not ill
my friend ?” he said. “Yes, yes ; but it is not that. There is something else. Tell me. You
will not withdraw your confidence from me now ? Come: let me know. You
88 THE SAVOY
have done your best for me ; perhaps—who knows !—I may be of some use to
“Will it be more effectual ?” the doctor said rather bitterly.
“Nonsense ! You would have saved me, if you could. It was taken out
of your hands. With you it is different. Physical ills, believe me, are alone
incurable ; and are not you a miracle of health ?”
Still the doctor hesitated.
“You would do something for me ?” the patient went on.
“I would give my life for yours, you know.”
“Then give me your life, your heart, your full confidence. Give yourself
to me now, old friend, as we have always given ourselves to each other,
unreservedly, without restraint, without evasion. For taking us together, you
and I have been, as men go, tolerably frank towards each other, have we not ?
We have not concealed from each other our little introspective perplexities,
our trivial vanities, our scarcely trivial meannesses. Ours has been a very true
comradeship. Let me feel, while all things are slipping away from me, that it
still exists ; that you have not already come to regard me as a thing apart ;
come, let me carry the memory of it away—away with me.”
“Very well, then, I shall tell you . . . . Frank ! Yes, we have
been rarely open with each other ! Yet, there are many things, the joy and
misery of which at once is, that they are unrevealed and unrevealable.”
“Am I at last, at this stage, only becoming to know you ?”
The doctor pressed his hand gently. “And it is more difficult than ever
to tell you now,” he said. He got up and walked noiselessly about the room.
“You know, at least, that I have not been a loose-living man,” he said
hesitatingly, as if he were formulating a justification, ”that I have certain ideas,
that my vagaries have never at any time been excessive, and that even they have
ceased these fourteen years or so, since my marriage. Before then, before my
marriage—well, was I not wild, inconsiderate of others, indiscreet ! But one,
after all, has a tender memory for these precious escapades of youth, for
these gay irresponsible love episodes, of sometimes so melancholy an ending
In one instance, I am not sure that I was entirely to blame. I loved the
creature ardently enough at the time.” Something which he observed in the
face of the ill man made him hesitate. “But how can I talk to you of these
matters, of love, when——”
“When death is knocking at my door. Pray continue. Even I, who am
too weak to lift my hand, can feel the strength of love, realize its imperishable
DOCTOR AND PATIENT 89
“Even you who have never loved.”
Even I who have loved in vain, thought the patient. “Go on,” he said
“I loved her youthfully, tempestuously, unthinkingly ; and when the
reaction came it was too late.”
“You had married ?”
“No : I am speaking of before Catherine’s time, or, at least, before the
time of my marriage with her.”
“I began to mistrust her.”
“You are not speaking of Catherine?”
“No. I doubted her fidelity, her love for me. It seemed somehow that
I had been entrapped by her into a difficult position. The idea of marriage,
at any rate, was particularly distasteful to me at the time ; and I would not
marry her. She tried very hard before the child was born ; I was sorry for her,
but immovable. I could not, you see, come quite to believe in her ; her pro-
testations failed to convince me. There may have been some sort of tempera-
mental antagonism at the bottom of it all, which was responsible for the vague,
undefined suspicions which restrained me.“
“She allowed me to contribute to the support of the child—a boy,
although with a wilful independence, or, perhaps, to cause me pain, she
would take nothing from me for herself. Well, some time after this incident
I married Catherine,—a discreet, respectable affair which settled me in my
practice. Catherine and I have rubbed along pretty happily, but we have
had no children. Was there a sort of judgment in that, I wonder? Perhaps.
I have at times half thought so.”
“However that may be, I came in time to be instinctively drawn towards
her child—and mine. She consented to my seeing him, a fine brave little
fellow, with my own eyes looking at me from his head. To see him, this part
of me, to be with him, was the greatest happiness I had known : to watch his
gradual development, to listen to his ingenuous prattle, to be vanquished by
him in a bout of repartee, to take him, all unsuspected, to the Zoo or to
a pantomime. You can’t realize it ! how the impulses and objects of his little
life became entwined in mine, inseparably, always ! Little ! He has grown ;
his ideas already bear the impress of manhood. I have had him as decently
educated as possible ; she would not let him be out of her sight for long. And
I hoped eventually to be able to send him to Oxford and give him the chance
of a career.”
90 THE SAVOY
“You hoped ? . . . Has he died then, too ?”
“He is alive and well, I trust ! only she has never forgiven me. Perhaps
I was mistaken, unreasonable ; perhaps I should have married her. It might
have been happier. If one could only foresee !”
“Who was she ? Do I know ?”
“Possibly. I think so, if you can now remember.”
“Ah ! You remember !”
“I remember,” said the patient with closed eyes.
“You are in pain ?”
“No, no ; go on.”
“She has never forgiven me !” The doctors voice ringing out in all its
natural vigour sounded strangely unnatural in the silence of the sick room.
“She has, after all these years, taken her revenge, a triumph of ingenious
cruelty. . . I had not seen him—them—for a few weeks, and yesterday,
I received a letter from her inclosing a photograph of the boy, refusing any
further assistance from me on his account, as he can now earn a little for him-
self, and forbidding my ever seeing him again. Of course—you will under-
stand—I went immediately, but they had gone ! . . . What will become of him
—of me !”
“Does Catherine know ?” “Yes—now. She came across her letter and the boy’s photograph. In
my anxiety I had been careless. She bore it very well. I don’t think it will
make much difference. Women—all but Beatrice—are indulgent ; they
understand and forgive. But I shall feel a difference.”
The doctor was silent.
By-and-by he heard the voice of his patient, which had become suddenly
feeble, sunk to the faintest whisper, so inaudible that he had to put his ear close
to the struggling lips to catch what was said :
“Yes, I—knew Beatrice West—I loved her—I would—have married
The doctor shot a quick, startled look of inquiry into his friend’s eyes in
which there beamed a brilliant light, a light, which, as he looked, became
fainter and fainter, flickered a little, and then went out for ever.
A LITERARY CAUSERIE:
ON A BOOK OF VERSES
A BOOK of delicate, mournful, almost colourless, but very
fragrant verses was lately published by a young poet whom
I have the privilege to know somewhat intimately. Whether
a book so essentially poetic, and at the same time so fragile
in its hold on outward things, is likely to appeal very much
to the general public, for which verse is still supposed to be
written, it scarcely interests me to conjecture. It is a matter of more legitimate
speculation, what sort of person would be called up before the mind’s eye of
any casual reader, as the author of love-poetry so reverent and so disembodied.
A very ghostly lover, I suppose, wandering in a land of perpetual twilight,
holding a whispered “colloque sentimental” with the ghost of an old love :
“Dans le vieux pare solitaire et glacé
Deux spectres ont evoque le passé?”
That is not how I have seen my friend, for the most part ; and the con-
trast between the man as I have seen him and the writer of verses as I read
them, is to me the most attractive interest of a book which I find singularly-
attractive. He will not mind, I know, if I speak of him with some of that
frankness which we reserve usually for the dead, or with which we sometimes
honour our enemies ; for he is of a complete indifference to these things, as I
shall assure myself over again before these lines are printed.
I do not remember the occasion of our first meeting, but I remember
seeing him casually, at railway-stations, in a semi-literary tavern which once
had a fantastic kind of existence, and sometimes, at night, in various parts of
the Temple, before I was more than slightly his acquaintance. I was struck
then by a look and manner of pathetic charm, a sort of Keats-like face, the
face of a demoralized Keats, and by something curious in the contrast of a
manner exquisitely refined, with an appearance generally somewhat dilapi-
dated. That impression was only accentuated, later on, when I came to know
92 THE SAVOY
him, and the manner of his life, much more intimately. I think I may date
my first real impression of what one calls “the real man—as if it were more
real than the poet of the disembodied verses !—from an evening in which he
first introduced me to those charming supper-houses, open all night through,
the cabmen’s shelters. There were four of us, two in evening dress, and we
were welcomed, cordially and without comment, at a little place near the
Langham ; and, I recollect, very hospitably entertained. He was known there,
and I used to think he was always at his best in a cabmen’s shelter.
Without a certain sordidness in his surroundings, he was never quite com-
fortable, never quite himself; and at those places you are obliged to drink
nothing stronger than coffee or tea. I liked to see him occasionally, for a
change, drinking nothing stronger than coffee or tea. At Oxford, I believe, his
favourite form of intoxication had been haschisch ; afterwards he gave up this
somewhat elaborate experiment in visionary sensations for readier means of
oblivion ; but he returned to it, I remember, for at least one afternoon, in a
company of which I had been the gatherer, and of which I was the host. The
experience was not a very successful one ; it ended in what should have been
its first symptom, immoderate laughter. It was disappointing, and my charming,
expectant friends, disappointed.
Always, perhaps a little consciously, but at least always sincerely, in
search of new sensations, my friend found what was for him the supreme
sensation in a very passionate and tender adoration of the most escaping
of all ideals, the ideal of youth. Cherished, as I imagine, first only in the
abstract, this search after the immature, the ripening graces which time can
but spoil in the ripening, found itself at the journey’s end, as some of his
friends thought, a little prematurely. I was never of their opinion. I only
saw twice, and for a few moments only, the young girl to whom most of his
verses were to be written, and whose presence in his life may be held to
account for much of that astonishing contrast between the broad outlines of
his life and work. The situation seemed to me of the most exquisite and
appropriate impossibility. She had the gift of evoking, and, in its way, of
retaining, all that was most delicate, sensitive, shy, typically poetic, in a
nature which I can only compare to a weedy garden, its grass trodden down
by many feet, but with one small, carefully-tended flower-bed, luminous with
lilies. I used to think, sometimes, of Verlaine and his “girl-wife,” the one
really profound passion, certainly, of that passionate career ; the charming,
child-like creature, to whom he looked back, at the end of his life, with an
unchanged tenderness and disappointment : “Vous n’avez rien compris à ma
A LITERARY CAUSERIE 93
simplicitc,” as he lamented. In the case of my friend there was, however, a
sort of virginal devotion, as to a Madonna ; and I think had things gone
happily, to a conventionally happy ending, he would have felt (dare I say ?)
that his ideal had been spoilt.
But, for the good fortune of poets, things never do go happily with them,
or to conventionally happy endings. So the wilder wanderings began, and a
gradual slipping into deeper and steadier waters of oblivion. That curious
love of the sordid, so common an affectation of the modern decadent, and
with him so expressively genuine, grew upon him, and dragged him into yet
more sorry corners of a life which was never exactly “gay” to him. And
now, indifferent to most things, in the shipwrecked quietude of a sort of self-
exile, he is living, I believe, somewhere on a remote foreign sea-coast. People
will complain, probably, in his verses, of what will seem to them the factitious
melancholy, the factitious idealism, and (peeping through at a few rare
moments) the factitious suggestions of riot. They will see only a literary
affectation where in truth there is as poignant a note of personal sincerity
as in the more explicit and arranged confessions of less admirable poets.
Yes, in these few, evasive, immaterial snatches of song, I find, implied for the
most part, hidden away like a secret, all the fever and turmoil and the
unattained dreams of a life which has itself had much of the swift, disastrous,
and suicidal energy of genius.
A COMMITTEE has been formed, in Paris, under the presidencey of M. Stéphane
Mallarmé, and the vice-presidency of M. Auguste Rodin, for the erection
of a monument to Paul Verlaine. The members of the Committee are:
MM. Edmond Lepelletier, Catulle Mendès, Henry Bauër, Raoul Ponchon,
Georges Rodenbach, Comte Robert de Montesquiou-Fezensac, Maurice Barrës,
Ernest Delahaye, Alfred Valette, editor of the “Mercure de France,” Léon
Deschamps, editor of “La Plume.” Alexandre Natanson, editor of the “Revue
Blanche.” The treasurer is M. Fernand Glerget; the secretary, M.F.A. Cazals.
I have been asked by M.Mallarmé to act as English representative of this
Committee, and to receive subscriptions, which may be sent to me at the office
of “The Savoy,” Effingham House, Arundel Street, Strand, London, W.C.
The Savoy, vol. 4 August 1896. Savoy Digital Edition, edited by Christopher Keep and Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, 2018-2020. Yellow Nineties 2.0, Ryerson University Centre for Digital Humanities, 2019. https://1890s.ca/savoyv4_all/