THE IDIOTS. A Story by JOSEPH CONRAD . . . . . . 11
IN SAINT JACQUES. A Poem by ARTHUR SYMONS . . . . 31
CONCERNING JUDE THE OBSCURE. An Essay by HAVELOCK ELLIS . 35
A SOUL AT LETHE’S BRINK A Poem by EDITH M. THOMAS . . 55
THE LESSON OF MILLAIS. An Article by ARTHUR SYMONS . . 39
THE EPITAPHE IN FORM OF A BALLADE. A Translation by
THEODORE WRATISLAW into English Verse from the French of FRANÇOIS
VILLON . . . . . . . . . . . 61
ELSA. A Story by the Author of “A Mere Man“ . . . . . 63
THE THREE WITCHES A Poem by ERNEST DOWSON . . . . 75
SOME NOTES ON THE STAINED GLASS WINDOWS AND
DECORATIVE PAINTINGS OF THE CHURCH OF ST.
MARTIN’S-ON-THE-HILL, SCARBOROUGH. An Article by
OLIVIER GEORGES DESTRÉE . . . . . . . 76
A CAUSERIE:—From a Castle in Ireland. By ARTHUR SYMONS . . . 93
COVER . . Designed by AUBREY BEARDSLEY . . . 1
TITLE PAGE . . Designed by AUBREY BEARDSLEY . . 5
HOLIDAY JOYS. From a Water-Colour Drawing by PHIL MAY . . 9
THE DEATH OF PIERROT. A Pen-and-Ink Sketch by AUBREY BEARDSLEY 33
TWO EIGHTEENTH CENTURY BOOK-PLATES.
I.—The Book-plate of The Bastille . . . . . . . 51
II.—The Book-plate of Marie Antoinette. by CH. EISEN . . . . 53
BALLADE DES PENDUS. A Pen-and-Ink Sketch by WILLIAM T. HORTON . 60
THE ANNUNCIATION. After a Painting by D.G. ROSSETTI . . . 77
THE ANNUNCIATION. After a Painting by D.G. ROSSETTI . . . 81
A WOMAN’S HEAD. A Pen-and-Ink Sketch by W.B. MACDOUGALL . 91
The Whole of the Reproductions in this Volume, in line and half-tone blocks, and the
Wood Engraving, are by MR. PAUL NAUMANN.
WE were driving along the road from Treguier to Kervanda.
We passed at a smart trot between the hedges topping
an earth wall on each side of the road ; then at the foot of
the steep ascent before Ploumar the horse dropped into
a walk, and the driver jumped down heavily from the box.
He flicked his whip and climbed the incline, stepping
clumsily uphill by the side of the carriage, one hand on the footboard, his eyes
on the ground. After a while he lifted his head, pointed up the road with the
end of the whip, and said—
“The idiot !”
The sun was shining violently upon the undulating surface of the land.
The rises were topped by clumps of meagre trees, with their branches showing
high on the sky as if they had been perched upon stilts. The small fields, cut
up by hedges and stone walls that zigzagged over the slopes, lay in rectangular
patches of vivid greens and yellows, resembling the unskilful daubs of a naive
picture. And the landscape was divided in two by the white streak of a road
stretching in long loops far away, like a river of dust crawling out of the hills on
its way to the sea.
” Here he is,” said the driver, again.
In the long grass bordering the road a face glided past the carriage at the
level of the wheels as we drove slowly by. The imbecile face was red, and the
bullet head with close-cropped hair seemed to lie alone, its chin in the dust.
The body was lost in the bushes growing thick along the bottom of the deep
It was a boy’s face. He might have been sixteen, judging from the size —
perhaps less, perhaps more. Such creatures are forgotten by time, and live
untouched by years till death gathers them up into its compassionate bosom :
the faithful death that never forgets in the press of work the most insignificant
of its children.
“Ah ! There’s another,” said the man, with a certain satisfaction in
his tone, as if he had caught sight of something expected.
12 THE SAVOY
There was another. That one stood nearly in the middle of the road in
the blaze of sunshine at the end of his own short shadow. And he stood with
hands pushed into the opposite sleeves of his long coat, his head sunk between
the shoulders, all hunched up in the flood of heat. From a distance he had the
aspect of one suffering from intense cold.
“Those are twins,” explained the driver.
The idiot shuffled two paces out of the way and looked at us over his
shoulder when we brushed past him. The glance was unseeing and staring, a
fascinated glance; but he did not turn to look after us. Probably the image
passed before the eyes without leaving any trace on the misshapen brain of the
creature. When we had topped the ascent I looked over the hood. He stood
in the road just where we had left him.
The driver clambered into his seat, clicked his tongue, and we went down
hill. The brake squeaked horribly from time to time. At the foot he eased
off the noisy mechanism and said, turning half round on his box :
“We shall see some more of them by-and-by.”
“More idiots ? How many of them are there, then ?” I asked.
“There ‘s four of them—children of a farmer near Ploumar here. . . . The
parents are dead now,” he added, after a while. “The grandmother lives
on the farm. In the daytime they knock about on this road, and they come
home at dusk along with the cattle. . . . It’s a good farm.”
We saw the other two : a boy and a girl, as the driver said. They were
dressed exactly alike, in shapeless garments with petticoat-like skirts. The
imperfect thing that lived within them moved those beings to howl at us from
the top of the bank, where they sprawled amongst the tough stalks of furze.
Their cropped black heads stuck out from the bright yellow wall of countless
small blossoms. The faces were purple with the strain of yelling ; the voices
sounded blank and cracked like a mechanical imitation of old people’s voices ;
and suddenly ceased when we turned into a lane.
I saw them many times in my wanderings about the country. They lived
on that road, drifting along its length here and there, according to the inexplic-
able impulses of their monstrous darkness. They were an offence to the sun-
shine, a reproach to empty heaven, a blight on the concentrated and purposeful
vigour of the wild landscape. In time the story of their parents shaped itself
before me out of the listless answers to my questions, out of the indifferent
words heard in wayside inns or on the very road those idiots haunted. Some
of it was told by an emaciated and sceptical old fellow with a tremendous whip,
while we trudged together over the sands by the side of a two-wheeled cart
THE IDIOTS 13
loaded with dripping seaweed. Then at other times other people confirmed
and completed the story : till it stood at last before me, a tale formidable and
simple, as they always are, those disclosures of obscure trials endured by
When he returned from his military service Jean Pierre Bacadou found the
old people very much aged. He remarked with pain that the work of the
farm was not satisfactorily done. The father had not the energy of old days.
The hands did not feel over them the eye of the master. Jean-Pierre noted
with sorrow that the heap of manure in the courtyard before the only entrance
to the house was not so large as it should have been. The fences were out of
repair, and the cattle suffered from neglect. At home the mother was practi-
cally bedridden, and the girls chattered loudly in the big kitchen, unrebuked,
from morning to night. He said to himself: “We must change all this.”
He talked the matter over with his father one evening when the rays of the
setting sun entering the yard between the outhouses ruled the heavy shadows with
luminous streaks. Over the manure heap floated a mist, opal-tinted and odorous,
and the marauding hens would stop in their scratching to examine with
a sudden glance of their round eye the two men, both lean and tall, talking
together in hoarse tones. The old man, all twisted with rheumatism and bowed
with years of work, the younger bony and straight, spoke without gestures in
the indifferent manner of peasants, grave and slow. But before the sun had set
the father had submitted to the sensible arguments of the son. “It is not for
me that I am speaking,” insisted Jean-Pierre. “It is for the land. It’s a pity
to see it badly used. I am not impatient for myself.” The old fellow nodded
over his stick. “I dare say ; I dare say,” he muttered. “You may be right.
Do what you like. It’s the mother that will be pleased.”
The mother was pleased with her daughter-in-law. Jean-Pierre brought
the two-wheeled spring-cart with a rush into the yard. The grey horse
galloped clumsily, and the bride and bridegroom, sitting side by side, were
jerked backwards and forwards by the up and down motion of the shafts, in a
manner regular and brusque. On the road the distanced wedding guests
straggled in pairs and groups. The men advanced with heavy steps, swinging
their idle arms. They were clad in town clothes : jackets cut with clumsy
smartness, hard black hats, immense boots, polished highly. Their women all
in simple black, with white caps and shawls of faded tints folded triangularly
on the back, strolled lightly by their side. In front the violin sang a strident
tune, and the biniou snored and hummed, while the player capered solemnly,
lifting high his heavy clogs. The sombre procession drifted in and out of the
14 THE SAVOY
narrow lanes, through sunshine and through shade, between fields and hedge-
rows, scaring the little birds that darted away in troops right and left. In the
yard of Bacadou’s farm the dark ribbon wound itself up into a mass of men
and women pushing at the door with cries and greetings. The wedding
dinner was remembered for months. It was a splendid feast in the orchard.
Farmers of considerable means and excellent repute were to be found sleeping
in ditches, all along the road to Treguier, even as late as the afternoon of the
next day. All the countryside participated in the happiness of Jean-Pierre. He
remained sober, and, together with his quiet wife, kept out of the way, letting
father and mother reap their due of honour and thanks. But the next day he
took hold strongly, and the old folks felt a shadow—precursor of the grave—
fall upon them finally. The world is to the young.
When the twins were born there was plenty of room in the house, for the
mother of Jean-Pierre had gone away to dwell under a heavy stone in the
cemetery of Ploumar. On that day, for the first time since his son’s marriage,
the elder Bacadou, neglected by the cackling lot of strange women who
thronged the kitchen, left in the morning his seat under the mantel of the fire-
place, and went into the empty cow-house, shaking his white locks dismally.
Grandsons were all very well, but he wanted his soup at midday. When
shown the babies, he stared at them with a fixed gaze, and muttered some-
thing like : “It’s too much.” Whether he meant too much happiness, or
simply commented upon the number of his descendants, it is impossible to
say. He looked offended—as far as his old wooden face could express any-
thing ; and for days afterwards could be seen, almost any time of the day,
sitting at the gate, with his nose over his knees, a pipe between his gums, and
gathered up into a kind of raging concentrated sulkiness. Once he spoke to
his son, alluding to the newcomers with a groan : “They will quarrel over the
land.” “Don’t bother about that, father,” answered Jean-Pierre, stolidly, and
passed, bent double, towing a recalcitrant cow over his shoulder.
He was happy, and so was Susan, his wife. It was not an ethereal joy
welcoming new souls to struggle, perchance to victory. In fourteen years
both boys would be a help ; and, later on, Jean-Pierre pictured two big sons
striding over the land from patch to patch, wringing tribute from the earth
beloved and fruitful. Susan was happy too, for she did not want to be spoken
of as the unfortunate woman, and now she had children no one could call her
that. Both herself and her husband had seen something of the larger world
—he during the time of his service ; while she had spent a year or so in Paris
with a Breton family ; but had been too home-sick to remain longer away
THE IDIOTS 15
from the hilly and green country, set in a barren circle of rocks and sands,
where she had been born. She thought that one of the boys ought perhaps
to be a priest, but said nothing to her husband, who was a republican, and
hated the “crows,” as he called the ministers of religion. The christening was
a splendid affair. All the commune came to it, for the Bacadous were rich
and influential, and, now and then, did not mind the expense. The grand-
father had a new coat.
Some months afterwards, one evening when the kitchen had been swept,
and the door locked, Jean-Pierre, looking at the cot, asked his wife : “What’s
the matter with those children ?” And, as if these words, spoken calmly, had
been the portent of misfortune, she answered with a loud wail that must have
been heard across the yard in the pig-sty ; for the pigs (the Bacadous had
the finest pigs in the country), stirred and grunted complainingly in the night.
The husband went on grinding his bread and butter slowly, gazing at the wall,
the soup-plate smoking under his chin. He had returned late from the market,
where he had overheard (not for the first time) whispers behind his back. He
revolved the words in his mind as he drove back. “Simple ! Both of them.
. . . Never any use ! . . . Well ! May be, may be. One must see. Would ask
his wife.” This was her answer. He felt like a blow on his chest, but said
only : “Go, draw me some cider. I am thirsty !”
She went out moaning, an empty jug in her hand. Then he rose, took
up the light, and moved slowly towards the cradle. They slept. He looked
at them sideways, finished his mouthful there, went back heavily, and sat
down before his plate. When his wife returned he never looked up, but
swallowed a couple of spoonfuls noisily, and remarked, in a dull manner :
“When they sleep they are like other people’s children.”
She sat down suddenly on a stool near by, and shook with a silent tempest
of sobs, unable to speak. He finished his meal, and remained idly thrown back
in his chair, his eyes lost amongst the black rafters of the ceiling. Before him
the tallow candle flared red and straight, sending up a slender thread of smoke.
The light lay on the rough, sunburnt skin of his throat ; the sunk cheeks were
like patches of darkness, and his aspect was mournfully stolid, as if he had
ruminated with difficulty endless ideas. Then he said, deliberately :
“We must see . . . consult people. Don’t cry. . . . They won’t be all like
that . . . surely ! We must sleep now.”
After the third child, also a boy, was born, Jean-Pierre went about his
work with tense hopefulness. His lips seemed more narrow, more tightly
compressed than before ; as if for fear of letting the earth he tilled hear the
16 THE SAVOY
voice of hope that murmured within his breast. He watched the child,
stepping up to the cot with a heavy clang of sabots on the stone floor, and
glanced in, along his shoulder, with that indifference which is like a deformity
of peasant humanity. Like the earth they master and serve, those men, slow
of eye and speech, do not show the inner fire ; so that, at last, it becomes a
question with them as with the earth, what there is in the core : heat, violence,
a force mysterious and terrible—or nothing but a clod, a mass fertile and inert,
cold and unfeeling, ready to bear a crop of plants that sustain life or give death.
The mother watched with other eyes ; listened with otherwise expectant
ears. Under the high hanging shelves supporting great sides of bacon over-
head, her body was busy by the great fireplace, attentive to the pot swinging
on iron gallows, scrubbing the long table where the field hands would sit down
directly to their evening meal. Her mind remained by the cradle, night and
day on the watch, to hope and suffer. That child, like the other two, never
smiled, never stretched its hands to her, never spoke ; never had a glance of
recognition for her in its big black eyes, which could only stare fixedly at any
glitter, but failed hopelessly to follow the brilliance of a sun-ray slipping slowly
along the floor. When the men were at work she spent long days between
her three idiot children and the childish grandfather, who sat grim, angular,
and immovable, with his feet near the warm ashes of the fire. The feeble old
fellow seemed to suspect that there was something wrong with his grandsons.
Only once, moved either by affection or by the sense of proprieties, he attempted
to nurse the youngest. He took the boy up from the floor, clicked his tongue
at him, and essayed a shaky gallop of his bony knees. Then he looked closely
with his misty eyes at the child’s face and deposited him down gently on the
floor again. And he sat, his lean shanks crossed, nodding at the steam
escaping from the cooking-pot with a gaze senile and worried.
Then mute affliction dwelt in Bacadou’s farmhouse, sharing the breath
and the bread of its inhabitants ; and the priest of the Ploumar parish had
great cause for congratulation. He called upon the rich landowner, the Marquis
de Chavanes, on purpose to deliver himself with joyful unction of solemn
platitudes about the inscrutable ways of Providence. In the vast dimness of
the curtained drawing-room, the little man, resembling a black bolster, leaned
towards a couch, his hat on his knees, and gesticulated with a fat hand at the
elongated, gracefully-flowing lines of the clear Parisian toilette from within
which the half-amused, half-bored marquise listened with gracious languor.
He was exulting and humble, proud and awed. The impossible had come to
pass. Jean-Pierre Bacadou, the enraged republican farmer, had been to mass
THE IDIOTS 17
last Sunday—had proposed to entertain the visiting priests at the next festival
of Ploumar ! It was a triumph for the Church and for the good cause. “I
thought I would come at once to tell Monsieur le Marquis. I know how
anxious he is for the welfare of our country,” declared the priest, wiping his
face. He was asked to stay to dinner.
The Chavanes returning that evening, after seeing their guest to the main
gate of the park, discussed the matter while they strolled in the moonlight,
trailing their elongated shadows up the straight avenue of chestnuts. The
marquis, a royalist of course, had been mayor of the commune that includes
Ploumar, the scattered hamlets of the coast, and the stony islands that fringe the
yellow flatness of the sands. He had felt his position insecure, for there was a
strong republican element in that part of the country; but now the conversion
of Jean-Pierre made him safe. He was very pleased. “You have no idea how
influential those people are,” he explained to his wife. “Now, I am sure, the
next communal election will go all right. I shall be re-elected.” “Your
ambition is perfectly insatiable, Charles,” exclaimed the marquise, gaily. “But,
ma chère amie,” argued the husband, seriously, “it ‘s most important that the
right man should be mayor this year, because of the elections to the Chamber.
If you think it amuses me . . . .”
Jean-Pierre had surrendered to his wife’s mother. Madame Levaille was
a woman of business known and respected within a radius of at least fifteen
miles. Thickset and stout, she was seen about the country, on foot or in an
acquaintance’s cart, perpetually moving, in spite of her fifty-eight years, in
steady pursuit of business. She had houses in all the hamlets, she worked
quarries of granite, she freighted coasters with stone—even traded with the
Channel Islands. She was broad-cheeked, wide-eyed, persuasive in speech :
carrying her point with the placid and invincible obstinacy of an old woman
who knows her own mind. She very seldom slept for two nights together in the
same house ; and the wayside inns were the best places to inquire in as to her
whereabouts. She had either passed, or was expected to pass there at six ; or
somebody, coming in, had seen her in the morning, or expected to meet
her that evening. After the inns that command the roads, the churches were
the buildings she frequented most. Men of liberal opinions would induce small
children to run into sacred edifices to see whether Madame Levaille was there,
and to tell her that so-and-so was in the road waiting to speak to her—about
potatoes, or flour, or stones, or houses ; and she would curtail her devotions,
come out blinking and crossing herself into the sunshine ; ready to discuss
business matters in a calm sensible way across a table in the kitchen of the
18 THE SAVOY
inn opposite. Latterly she had stayed for a few days several times with her
son-in-law ; arguing against sorrow and misfortune with composed face and
gentle tones. Jean-Pierre felt the convictions imbibed in the regiment torn
out of his breast—not by arguments, but by facts. Striding over his fields he
thought it over. There were three of them. Three ! All alike ! Why ?
Such things did not happen to everybody—to nobody he ever heard of. One
yet—it might pass. But three ! All three. For ever useless, to be fed while
he lived and …. What would become of the land when he died? This
must be seen to. He would sacrifice his convictions. One day he told
his wife :
“See what your God will do for us. Pay for some masses.”
Susan embraced her man. He stood unbending, then turned on his heels
and went out. But afterwards when a black soutane darkened his doorway
he did not object ; even offered some cider himself to the priest. He listened
to the talk meekly ; went to mass between the two women ; accomplished what
the priest called “his religious duties” at Easter. That morning he felt like a
man who had sold his soul. In the afternoon he fought ferociously with
an old friend and neighbour who had remarked that the priests had the best
of it and were going now to eat the priest-eater. He came home dishevelled
and bleeding, and happening to catch sight of his children (they were kept
generally out of the way), cursed and swore incoherently, banging the table.
Susan wept. Madame Levaille sat serenely unmoved. She assured her
daughter that “It will pass ;” and taking up her thick umbrella, departed
in haste to see after a schooner she was going to load with granite from
A year or so afterwards the girl was born. A girl ! Jean-Pierre heard of
it in the fields, and was so upset by the news that he sat down on the boundary
wall and remained there till the evening, instead of going home as he was
urged to do. A girl ! He felt half cheated. However, when he got home he
was partly reconciled to his fate. One could marry her to a good fellow—not
a good for nothing, but to a fellow with some understanding and a good pair
of arms. Besides, the next may be a boy, he thought. Of course they would
be all right. His new credulity knew of no doubt. The ill luck was broken.
He spoke cheerily to his wife. She was also hopeful. Three priests came to
that christening, and Madame Levaille was godmother. The child turned out
an idiot too.
Then on market days Jean-Pierre was seen bargaining bitterly, quarrel-
some and greedy ; then getting drunk with taciturn earnestness ; then driving
THE IDIOTS 19
home in the dusk at a rate fit for a wedding, but with a face gloomy enough
for a funeral. Sometimes he would insist for his wife to come with him ; and
they would drive in the early morning, shaking side by side on the narrow seat
above the helpless pig, that, with tied legs, grunted a melancholy sigh at every
rut. The morning drives were silent ; but in the evening, coming home, Jean-
Pierre, tipsy, was viciously muttering, and growled at the confounded woman
who could not rear children that were like anybody else’s. Susan, holding on
against the erratic swayings of the cart, pretended not to hear. Once, as they
were driving through Ploumar, some obscure and drunken impulse caused him
to pull up sharply opposite the church. The moon swam amongst light white
clouds. The tombstones gleamed pale under the fretted shadows of the trees
in the churchyard. Even the village dogs slept. Only the nightingales,
awake, spun out the thrill of their song above the silence of graves. Jean-
Pierre said thickly to his wife :
“What do you think is there ?”
He pointed his whip at the tower—in which the big dial of the clock
appeared high in the moonlight like a pallid face without eyes—and getting
out carefully, fell down at once by the wheel. He picked himself up and
climbed one by one the few steps to the iron gate of the churchyard. He put
his face to the bars and called out indistinctly :
“Hey there ! Come out !”
“Jean ! Return ! Return !” entreated his wife in low tones.
He took no notice, and seemed to wait there. The song of nightingales
beat on all sides against the high walls of the church, and flowed back
between stone crosses and flat grey slabs, engraved with words of hope and
“Hey ! Come out !” shouted Jean-Pierre loudly.
The nightingales ceased to sing.
“Nobody?” went on Jean-Pierre. “Nobody there. A swindle of
the crows. That’s what this is. Nobody anywhere. I despise it. Allez !
He shook the gate with all his strength, and the iron bars rattled with
a frightful clanging, like a chain dragged over stone steps. A dog near-by
barked hurriedly. Jean-Pierre staggered back, and after three successive
dashes got into his cart. Susan sat very quiet and still. He said to her with
drunken severity :
“See? Nobody. I’ve been made a fool ! Malheur! Somebody will pay
for it. The next one I see near the house I will lay my whip on . . . on the
20 THE SAVOY
black spine … I will. I don’t want him in there … he only helps the
carrion crows to rob poor folk. I am a man. . . . We will see if I can’t have
children like anybody else . . . now you mind. . . . They won’t be all . . . all
. . . we see. . . .”
She burst out through the fingers that hid her face :
“Don’t say that, Jean ; don’t say that, my man !”
He struck her a swinging blow on the head with the back of his hand and
knocked her into the bottom of the cart, where she crouched, thrown about
lamentably by every jolt. He drove furiously, standing up, brandishing his
whip, shaking the reins over the grey horse that gallopped ponderously, making
the heavy harness leap upon his broad quarters. The country rang clamorous
in the night with the irritated barking of farm dogs, that followed the rattle of
wheels all along the road. A couple of belated wayfarers had only just time to
step into the ditch. At his own gate he caught the post and was shot out of
the cart head first. The horse went on slowly to the door. At Susan’s
piercing cries the farm hands rushed out. She thought him dead, but he was
only sleeping where he fell, and cursed his men who hastened to him for dis-
turbing his slumbers.
Autumn came. The clouded sky descended low upon the black con-
tours of the hills ; and the dead leaves danced in spiral whirls under naked
trees till the wind, sighing profoundly, laid them to rest in the hollows of bare
valleys. And from morning till night one could see all over the land black
denuded boughs, the boughs gnarled and twisted, as if contorted with pain,
swaying sadly between the wet clouds and the soaked earth. The clear and
gentle streams of summer days rushed discoloured and raging at the stones
that barred the way to the sea, with the fury of madness bent upon suicide.
From horizon to horizon the great road to the sands lay between the hills
in a dull glitter of empty curves, resembling an unnavigable river of mud.
Jean-Pierre went from field to field, moving blurred and tall in the drizzle,
or striding on the crests of rises, lonely and high upon the grey curtain of
drifting clouds, as if he had been pacing along the very edge of the universe.
He looked at the black earth, at the earth mute and promising, at the
mysterious earth doing its work of life in death-like stillness under the veiled
sorrow of the sky. And it seemed to him that to a man worse than childless
there was no promise in the fertility of fields, that from him the earth escaped,
defied him, frowned at him like the clouds, sombre and hurried above his head.
Having to face alone his own fields, he felt the inferiority of man who passes
away before the clod that remains. Must he give up the hope of having by
THE IDIOTS 21
his side a son who would look at the turncd-up sods with a master’s eye ? A
man that would think as he thought, that would feel as he felt ; a man who
would be part of himself, and yet remain to trample masterfully on that earth
when he was gone ! He thought of some distant relations, and felt savage
enough to curse them aloud. They ! Never ! He turned homewards, going
straight at the roof of his dwelling visible between the enlaced skeletons of
trees. As he swung his legs over the stile a cawing flock of birds settled
slowly on the field ; dropped down, behind his back, noiseless and fluttering,
like flakes of soot.
That day Madame Levaille had gone early in the afternoon to the house
she had near Kervanion. She had to pay some of the men who worked in
her granite quarry there, and she went in good time because her little house
contained a shop where the workmen could spend their wages without the
trouble of going to town. The house stood alone amongst rocks. A lane of
mud and stones ended at the door. The sea-winds coming ashore on Stone-
cutter’s point, fresh from the fierce turmoil of the waves, howled violently at
the unmoved heaps of black boulders holding up steadily short-armed, high
crosses against the tremendous rush of the invisible. In the sweep of gales
the sheltered dwelling stood in a calm resonant and disquieting, like the
calm in the centre of a hurricane. On stormy nights, when the tide was out,
the bay of Fougère, fifty feet below the house, resembled an immense black
pit, from which ascended mutterings and sighs as if the sands down there had
been alive and complaining. At high tide the returning water assaulted the
ledges of rock in short rushes, ending in bursts of livid light and columns of
spray, that flew inland, stinging to death the grass of pastures.
The darkness came from the hills, flowed over the coast, put out the red
fires of sunset, and went on to seaward pursuing the retiring tide. The wind
dropped with the sun, leaving a maddened sea and a devastated sky. The
heavens above the house seemed to be draped in black rags, held up here and
there by pins of fire. Madame Levaille, for this evening the servant of her
own workmen, tried to induce them to depart. “An old woman like me
ought to be in bed at this late hour,” she good-humouredly repeated. The
quarrymen drank, asked for more. They shouted over the table as if they
had been talking across a field. At one end four of them played cards, bang-
ing the wood with their hard knuckles, and swearing at every lead. One sat
with a lost gaze, humming a bar of some song, which he repeated endlessly.
Two others, in a corner, were quarrelling confidentially and fiercely over some
woman, looking close into one another’s eyes as if they had wanted to tear
22 THE SAVOY
them out, but speaking in whispers that promised violence and murder dis-
creetly, in a venomous sibillation of subdued words. The atmosphere in there
was thick enough to slice with a knife. Three candles burning about the long
room glowed red and dull like sparks expiring in ashes.
The slight click of the iron latch was at that late hour as unexpected and
startling as a thunder-clap. Madame Levaille put down a bottle she held
above a liqueur glass ; the players turned their heads ; the whispered quarrel
ceased ; only the singer, after darting a glance at the door, went on humming
with a stolid face. Susan appeared in the doorway, stepped in, flung the door
to, and put her back against it, saying, half aloud :
Madame Levaille, taking up the bottle again, said calmly : “Here you are,
my girl. What a state you are in !” The neck of the bottle rang on the rim
of the glass, for the old woman was startled, and the idea that the farm had
caught fire had entered her head. She could think of no other cause for her
Susan, soaked and muddy, stared the whole length of the room towards
the men at the far end. Her mother asked :
“What has happened ? God guard us from misfortune !”
Susan moved her lips. No sound came. Madame Levaille stepped up to
her daughter, took her by the arm, looked into her face.
“In God’s name,” she said shakily, “what’s the matter ? You have been
rolling in mud. . . . Why did you come ? . . . Where’s Jean ?”
The men had all got up and approached slowly, staring with dull sur-
prise. Madame Levaille jerked her daughter away from the door, swung her
round upon a seat close to the wall. Then she turned fiercely to the men :
“Enough of this ! Out you go—you others ! I close.”
One of them observed, looking down at Susan collapsed on the seat :
“She is—one may say—half dead.”
Madame Levaille flung the door open.
“Get out ! March !” she cried, shaking nervously.
They dropped out into the night, laughing stupidly. Outside, the two
Lotharios broke out into loud shouts. The others tried to soothe them, all
talking at once. The noise went away up the lane with the men, who
staggered together in a tight knot, remonstrating with one another foolishly.
“Speak, Susan. What is it ? Speak !” entreated Madame Levaille, as
soon as the door was shut.
Susan pronounced some incomprehensible words, glaring at the table.
THE IDIOTS 23
The old woman clapped her hands above her head, let them drop, and stood
looking at her daughter with disconsolate eyes. Her husband had been
“deranged in his head” for a few years before he died, and now she began to
suspect her daughter was going mad. She asked, pressingly :
“Does Jean know where you are ? Where is Jean ?”
Susan pronounced with difficulty :
“He knows … he is dead.”
“What !” cried the old woman. She came up near, and peering at her
daughter, repeated three times : “What do you say ? What do you say ?
What do you say ?”
Susan sat dry-eyed and stony before Madame Levaille, who contemplated
her, feeling a strange sense of inexplicable horror creep into the silence of the
house. She had hardly realized the news, further than to understand that she
had been brought in one short moment face to face with something unexpected
and final. It did not even occur to her to ask for any explanation. She
thought : accident—terrible accident—blood to the head—fell down a trap
door in the loft She remained there, distracted and mute, blinking her
Suddenly, Susan said :
“I have killed him.”
For a moment the mother stood still, almost unbreathing, but with com-
posed face. The next second, she burst out into a shout :
“You miserable madwoman . . . they will cut your neck . . . .”
She fancied the gendarmes entering the house, saying to her : “We want
your daughter ; give her up :” the gendarmes with the severe, hard faces of
men on duty. She knew the brigadier well—an old friend, familiar and
respectful, saying heartily, “To your good health, madame !” before lifting to
his lips the small glass of cognac—out of the special bottle she kept for friends.
And now ! . . . . She was losing her head. She rushed here and there, as if
looking for something urgently needed—gave that up, stood stock still in the
middle of the room, and screamed at her daughter :
“Why? Say! Say! Why?”
The other seemed to leap out of her strange apathy.
“Do you think I am made of stone ?” she shouted back, striding towards
“No! It’s impossible” said Madame Levaille, in a convinced
“You go and see, mother,” retorted Susan, looking at her with blazing
24 THE SAVOY
eyes. “There ‘s no mercy in heaven—no justice. No ! …. I did not know
…. Do you think I have no heart ? Do you think I have never heard people
jeering at me, pitying me, wondering at me ? Do you know how some of them
were calling me ? The mother of idiots—that was my nickname ! And my
children never would know me, never speak to me. They would know
nothing ; neither men—nor God. Haven’t I prayed ! But the Mother of God
herself would not hear me. A mother ! . . . . Who is accursed—I, or the man
who is dead ? Eh ? Tell me. I took care of myself. Do you think I would
defy the anger of God and have my house full of those things—that are worse
than animals who know the hand that feeds them ? Who blasphemed in the
night at the very church door ? Was it I ? …. I only wept and prayed for
mercy …. and I feel the curse at every moment of the day—I see it round
me from morning to night . . . I’ve got to keep them alive— to take care of
my misfortune and shame. And he would come. I begged him and Heaven
for mercy. . . . No ! . . . Then we shall see. . . . He came this evening. I
thought to myself: ‘Ah ! again !’ . . . I had my long scissors. I heard him
shouting. … I saw him near. … I must—must I ? . . . Then take ! . . .
And I struck him in the throat above the breast-bone. … I never heard him
even sigh. … I left him standing. … It was a minute ago. . . . How did
I come here ?”
Madame Levaille shivered. A wave of cold ran down her back, down her
fat arms under her tight sleeves, made her stamp gently where she stood.
Quivers ran over the broad cheeks, across the thin lips, ran amongst the wrinkles
at the corners of her steady old eyes. She stammered :
“You wicked woman— you disgrace me. But there ! You always re-
sembled your father. What do you think will become of you … in the other
world? In this . . . Oh misery!”
She was very hot now. She felt burning inside. She wrung her per-
spiring hands—and suddenly, starting in great haste, began to look for her big
shawl and umbrella, feverishly, never once glancing at her daughter, who stood
in the middle of the room following her with a gaze distracted and cold.
“Nothing worse than in this,” said Susan.
Her mother, umbrella in hand and trailing the shawl over the floor,
“I must go to the priest,” she burst out passionately. “I do not know
whether you even speak the truth ! You are a horrible woman. They will
find you anywhere. You may stay here—or go. There is no room for you in
THE IDIOTS 25
Ready now to depart, she yet wandered aimlessly about the room, putting
the bottles on the shelf, trying to fit with trembling hands the covers on card-
board boxes. Whenever the real sense of what she had heard emerged for a
second from the haze of her thoughts she would fancy that something had
exploded in her brain without, unfortunately, bursting her head to pieces—
which would have been a relief. She blew the candles out one by one without
knowing it, and was horribly startled by the darkness. She fell on a bench
and began to whimper. After a while she ceased, and sat listening to the
breathing of her daughter, whom she could hardly see, still and upright, giving
no other sign of life. She was becoming old rapidly at last, during those
minutes. She spoke in tones unsteady, cut about by the rattle of teeth, like
one shaken by a deadly cold fit of ague.
“I wish you had died little. I will never dare to show my old head in the
sunshine again. There are worse misfortunes than idiot children. I wish you
had been born to me simple—like your own. . . .”
She saw the figure of her daughter pass before the faint and livid clearness
of a window. Then it appeared in the doorway for a second, and the door
swung to with a clang. Madame Levaille, as if awakened by the noise from a
long nightmare, rushed out.
“Susan !” she shouted from the doorstep.
She heard a stone roll a long time down the declivity of the rocky beach
above the sands. She stepped forward cautiously, one hand on the wall of the
house, and peered down into the smooth darkness of the empty bay. Once
again she cried :
“Susan ! You will kill yourself there.”
The stone had taken its last leap in the dark, and she heard nothing now.
A sudden thought seemed to strangle her, and she called no more. She turned
her back upon the black silence of the pit and went up the lane towards
Ploumar, stumbling along with sombre determination, as if she had started on
a desperate journey that would last, perhaps, to the end of her life. A sullen
and periodic clamour of waves rolling over reefs followed her far inland between
the high hedges sheltering the gloomy solitude of the fields.
Susan had run out, swerving sharp to the left at the door, and on the edge
of the slope crouched down behind a boulder. A dislodged stone went
on downwards, rattling as it leaped. When Madame Levaille called out,
Susan could have, by stretching her hand, touched her mother’s skirt, had she
had the courage to move a limb. She saw the old woman go away, and she
remained still, closing her eyes and pressing her side to the hard and rugged
26 THE SAVOY
surface of the rock. After a while a familiar face with fixed eyes and an open
mouth became visible in the intense obscurity amongst the boulders. She
uttered a low cry and stood up. The face vanished, leaving her to gasp and
shiver alone in the wilderness of stone heaps. But as soon as she had crouched
down again to rest, with her head against the rock, the face returned, came very
near, appeared eager to finish the speech that had been cut short by death, only
a moment ago. She scrambled quickly to her feet and said : “Go away, or I
will do it again.” The thing wavered, swung to the right, to the left. She
moved this way and that, stepped back, fancied herself screaming at it, and was
appalled by the unbroken stillness of the night. She tottered on the brink, felt
the steep declivity under her feet, and rushed down blindly to save herself from
a headlong fall. The shingle seemed to wake up ; the pebbles began to roll
before her, pursued her from above, raced down with her on both sides, rolling
past with an increasing clatter. In the peace of the night the noise grew,
deepening to a rumour, continuous and violent, as if the whole semicircle of the
stony beach had started to tumble down into the bay. Susan’s feet hardly
touched the slope that seemed to run down with her. At the bottom she
stumbled, shot forward, throwing her arms out, and fell heavily. She jumped
up at once and turned swiftly to look back, her clenched hands full of sand she
had clutched in her fall. The face was there, keeping its distance, visible in its
own sheen that made a pale stain in the night. She shouted, “Go away”—
she shouted at it with pain, with fear, with all the rage of that useless stab that
could not keep him quiet, keep him out of her sight. What did he want now ?
He was dead. Dead men have no children. Would he never leave her alone ?
She shrieked at it—waved her outstretched hands. She seemed to feel the
breath of parted lips, and, with a long cry of discouragement, fled across the
level bottom of the bay.
She ran lightly, unaware of any effort of her body. High sharp rocks
that, when the bay is full, show above the glittering plain of blue water like
pointed towers of submerged churches, glided past her, rushing to the land at
a tremendous pace. To the left, in the distance, she could see something
shining : a broad disc of light in which narrow shadows pivoted round the
centre like the spokes of a wheel. She heard a voice calling, “Hey ! There !”
and answered with a wild scream. So, he could call yet ! He was calling
after her to stop. Never ! . . . She tore through the night, past the startled
group of seaweed-gatherers who stood round their lantern paralysed with fear at
the unearthly screech coming from that fleeing shadow. The men leaned on
their pitchforks staring fearfully. A woman fell on her knees, and, crossing
THE IDIOTS 27
herself, began to pray aloud. A little girl with her ragged skirt full of slimy sea-
weed began to sob despairingly, lugging her soaked burden close to the man who
carried the light. Somebody said : “The thing ran out towards the sea.”
Another voice exclaimed : “And the sea is coming back ! Look at the spread-
ing puddles. Do you hear—you woman—there ! Get up !” Several voices
cried together. “Yes, let us be off! Let the accursed thing go to the sea !”
They moved on, keeping close round the light. Suddenly a man swore loudly.
He would go and see what was the matter. It had been a woman’s voice.
He would go. There were shrill protests from women—but his high form
detached itself from the group and went off running. They sent an unanimous
call of scared voices after him. A word, insulting and mocking, came back,
thrown at them through darkness. A woman moaned. An old man said
gravely : “Such things ought to be left alone.” They went on slower, now
shuffling in the yielding sand and whispering to one another that Millot feared
nothing, having no religion, but that it would end badly some day.
Susan met the incoming tide by the Raven islet and stopped, panting,
with her feet in the water. She heard the murmur and felt the cold caress of
the sea, and, calmer now, could seethe sombre and confused mass of the Raven
on one side and on the other the long white streak of Molène sands that are
left high above the dry bottom of Fougère Bay at every ebb. She turned
round and saw far away, along the starred background of the sky, the ragged
outline of the coast. Above it, nearly facing her, appeared the tower of
Ploumar church ; a slender and tall pyramid shooting up dark and pointed into
the clustered glitter of the stars. She felt strangely calm. She knew where
she was, and began to remember how she came there—and why. She peered
into the smooth obscurity near her. She was alone. There was nothing there ;
nothing near her, either living or dead.
The tide was creeping in quietly, putting out long impatient arms of
strange rivulets that ran towards the land between ridges of sand. Under the
night the pools grew bigger with mysterious rapidity, while the great sea, yet
far off, thundered in a regular rhythm along the indistinct line of the horizon.
Suzan splashed her way back for a few yards without being able to get clear of
the water that murmured tenderly all around and, suddenly, with a spiteful
gurgle, nearly took her off her feet. Her heart thumped with fear. This
place was too big and too empty to die in. To-morrow they would do with
her what they liked. But before she died she must tell them—tell the gentle-
man in black clothes that there are things no woman can bear. She must ex-
plain how it happened. . . . She splashed through a pool, getting wet to the
28 THE SAVOY
waist, too preoccupied to care. . . . She must explain. “He came in the same
way as ever and said, just so : ‘Do you think I am going to leave the land to
those people from Morbihan that I do not know? Do you? We shall see!
Come along, you creature of mischance !’ And he put his arms out Then,
Messieurs, I said : ‘Before God—never !’ And he said, striding at me with
open palms : ‘There is no God to hold me ! Do you understand, you useless
carcase. I will do what I like.’ And he took me by the shoulders. Then I,
Messieurs, called to God for help, and next minute, while he was shaking me,
I felt my long scissors in my hand. His shirt was unbuttoned, and, by the
candle-light, I saw the hollow of his throat. I cried : ‘Let go !’ He was
crushing my shoulders. He was strong, my man was ! Then I thought : No !
. . . Must I ? . . . Then take !—and I struck in the hollow place. I never saw
him fall. Never ! Never ! . . . Never saw him fall. . . . The old father never
turned his head. He is deaf and childish, gentlemen. . . . Nobody saw him
fall. I ran out. . . . Nobody saw. . . .”
She had been scrambling amongst the boulders of the Raven and now
found herself, all out of breath, standing amongst the heavy shadows of the
rocky islet The Raven is connected with the main land by a natural pier of
immense and slippery stones. She intended to return home that way. Was
he still standing there ? At home. Home ! Four idiots and a corpse. She
must go back and explain. Anybody would understand. . . .
Below her the night or the sea seemed to pronounce distinctly :
“Aha ! I see you at last !”
She started, slipped, fell ; and without attempting to rise, listened, terrified.
She heard heavy breathing, a clatter of wooden clogs. It stopped.
“Where the devil did you pass ?” said an invisible man, hoarsely.
She held her breath. She recognized the voice. She had not seen him fall.
Was he pursuing her there dead, or perhaps . . . alive ?
She lost her head. She cried from the crevice where she lay huddled,
“Never, never !”
“Ah ! You are still there. You led me a fine dance. Wait, my beauty,
I must see how you look after all this. You wait. . . .
Millot was stumbling, laughing, swearing meaninglessly out of pure satis-
faction, pleased with himself for having run down that fly-by-night. “As if
there were such things as ghosts ! Bah ! It took an old African soldier to
show those clodhoppers. . . . But it was curious. Who the devil was she ?”
Susan listened, crouching. He was coming for her, this dead man. There
was no escape. What a noise he made amongst the stones. . . . She saw his
THE IDIOTS 29
head rise up, then the shoulders. He was tall—her own man ! His long
arms waved about, and it was his own voice sounding a little strange . . .
because of the scissors. She scrambled out quickly, rushed to the edge of
the causeway, and turned round. The man stood still on a high stone, de-
taching himself in dead black on the glitter of the sky.
“Where are you going to ?” he called roughly.
She answered, “Home !” and watched him intensely. He made a striding,
clumsy leap on to another boulder, and stopped again, balancing himself, then
“Ha! ha! Well, I am going with you. It’s the least I can do. Ha!
ha ! ha !”
She stared at him till her eyes seemed to become glowing coals that
burned deep into her brain, and yet she was in mortal fear of making out the
well-known features. Below her the sea lapped softly against the rock with a
splash, continuous and gentle.
The man said, advancing another step :
“I am coming for you. What do you think ?”
She trembled. Coming for her ! There was no escape, no peace, no
hope. She looked round despairingly. Suddenly the whole shadowy coast,
the blurred islets, the heaven itself, swayed about twice, then came to a rest.
She closed her eyes and shouted :
“Can’t you wait till I am dead !”
She was shaken by a furious hate for that shade that pursued her in this
world, unappeased even by death in its longing for an heir that would be like
other people’s children.
“Hey ! What ?” said Millot, keeping his distance prudently. He was
saying to himself : “Lookout! Some lunatic. An accident happens soon.”
She went on, wildly :
“I want to live. To live alone—for a week—for a day. I must explain
to them. … I would tear you to pieces, I would kill you twenty times over
rather than let you touch me while I live. How many times must I kill you
—you blasphemer ! Satan sends you here. I am damned too !”
“Come,” said Millot, alarmed and conciliating. I am perfectly alive ! . . .
Oh, my God !”
She had screamed, “Alive !” and at once vanished before his eyes,
as if the islet itself had swerved aside from under her feet. Millot rushed
forward, and fell flat with his chin over the edge. Far below he saw the water
whitened by her struggles, and heard one shrill cry for help that seemed to
30 THE SAVOY
dart upwards along the perpendicular face of the rock, and soar past, straight
into the high and impassive heaven.
Madame Levaille sat, dry-eyed, on the short grass of the hill side, with
her thick legs stretched out, and her old feet turned up in their black cloth
shoes. Her clogs stood near by, and further off the umbrella lay on the
withered sward like a weapon dropped from the grasp of a vanquished warrior.
The Marquis of Chavanes, on horseback, one gloved hand on thigh, looked
down at her as she got up laboriously, with groans. On the narrow track of
the seaweed-carts four men were carrying inland Susan’s body on a hand-
barrow, while several others straggled listlessly behind. Madame Levaille
looked after the procession. “Yes, Monsieur le Marquis,” she said dispas-
sionately, in her usual calm tone of a reasonable old woman. “There are
unfortunate people on this earth. I had only one child. Only one ! And
they won’t bury her in consecrated ground !”
Her eyes filled suddenly, and a short shower of tears rolled down the
broad cheeks. She pulled the shawl close about her. The Marquis leaned
slightly over in his saddle, and said :
“It is very sad. You have all my sympathy. I shall speak to the Cure.
She was unquestionably insane, and the fall was accidental. Millot says so
distinctly. Good-day, Madame.”
And he trotted off, thinking to himself: I must get this old woman
appointed guardian of those idiots, and administrator of the farm. It would
be much better than having here one of those other Bacadous, probably a red
republican, corrupting my commune.
TIRED with the sunlight, her eyes close in prayer,
A little heap before a waxen saint ;
Heaven above heaven, the starry hosts are there,
The wind of odorous wings, beating, breathes faint.
Ah, she is old, and the world’s ways are rough,
She has grown old with sorrow, year by year ;
She is alone : yet is it not enough
To be alone with God, as she is here ?
Here, in the shadowy chapel, where I stand,
An alien, at the door, and see within
Bent head and benediction of the hand,
And may not, though I long to enter in.
Sightless, she sees the angels thronging her,
She sees descending on her from above
The Blessed Vision for her comforter :
But I can see no vision, only Love.
I have believed in Love, and Love’s untrue :
Bid me believe, and bring me to your saint,
Woman ! and let me come and kneel with you ! . . .
But I should see only the wax and paint.
The Death of Pierrot
“As the dawn broke, Pierrot fell into his last sleep. Then upon tip-toe,
silently up the stair, noiselessly into the room, came the comedians Arlecchino,
Pantaleone, il Dottore, and Columbina, who with much love carried away upon
their shoulders, the white frocked clown of Bergamo ; wither, we know not.”
CONCERNING JUDE THE OBSCURE
THE eighteenth century is the great period of the English
novel. Defoe, Richardson, Fielding, Goldsmith, Sterne, and
Jane Austen initiated or carried towards perfection nearly
every variety of fiction ; they had few or no rivals throughout
Europe. Scott, with his incomparable genius for romance,
was left to complete the evolutionary process.
Yet it was Scott, as we too often forget, who marred everything and
threw the English novel into disorganization from which it has not even
to-day recovered. Those jerry-built, pseudo-mediæval structures which he
raised so rapidly and so easily, still retain, I hope, some of the fascination
which they possessed for us when we were children ; they certainly retain
it for a few of those children of a larger growth whom we call men of genius.
But Scott’s prodigious facility and the conventional unreality of his view of
life ruined the English novel. By means of his enormous reputation he was
enabled to debase the intellectual and moral currency in this department of
literature to the lowest possible limit. It is a curious illustration of our
attitude towards these things that Scott’s method of paying off his debts by
feverish literary production seems only to arouse our unqualified admiration.
The commercial instinct in our British breasts is so highly developed that we
glory in the sight of a great man prostituting his fame to make money,
especially in a good cause. If he had paid off his debts at the gaming table,
or even at the stock exchange, perhaps we should have been shocked. As he
only flung his own genius and art on to the table to play against a credulous
public his virtue remains immaculate. But a fate works through these things,
however opaque the veil of insular self-satisfaction over our eyes. Scott, the
earlier Scott, was a European influence, manifested in Manzoni, down through
Ilendrik Conscience to the drivel of Paul Féval. Since Scott no English
novelist has been a force in European literature.
This may seem too stringent a judgment of so copious a branch of
literature. But it is because the literature of fiction is so copious that we
need a stringent clue to guide us through its mazes. A man cannot be too
36 THE SAVOY
keen in grasping at the things that concern himself, too relentless in flinging
aside those things that for him at least have no concern. For myself, at all
events, I find now little in nineteenth-century English fiction that concerns
me, least of all in popular fiction. I am well content to read and ponder the
novels that seem to me assuredly great. In the next century, perhaps, I shall
have time to consider whether it were well to read “Robert Elsmere” or “The
Heavenly Twins,” but as yet the question is scarcely pressing.
If that is the case, I may be asked, why read Thomas Hardy? And I
must confess that that question occurred to me—long a devout admirer of
Mr. Hardy’s work—some fourteen years ago, and I found it unanswerable.¹
For while he still seemed to me a fine artist, I scarcely regarded him as a
great artist in the sense in which I so regarded some English novelists of the
last century, and some French and Russian novelists of this century. More-
over, Mr. Hardy was becoming a popular novelist. For it may be a foolish
fancy, but I do not like drinking at those pools which are turbid from the
hoofs of my fellow creatures ; when I cannot get there before the others I
like to wait until a considerable time after they have left. I could not read
my Catullus in peace if I had an uneasy sense that thousands of my fellow
creatures were writing to the newspapers to say what a nice girl Lesbia was,
and how horrid a person Gellius, condescending to approve the poet’s fraternal
sentiments, lamenting the unwholesome tone of his Atys. It is my felicity
that the railroad that skirts the Lago di Garda still sets but few persons down
for Sermione. Nor am I alone in this. The unequalled rapture of Lamb’s
joy in the Elizabethan dramatists was due to the immensity of the solitude in
which at that moment they lay enfolded. Indeed this attitude of mind is
ancient and well-rooted. The saviours of mankind, with what at first sight
seems an unkindly delight, have emphasized the fact that salvation belongs to
the few. Yet not only is religion a sacred mystery, but love also, and art.
When the profane are no longer warned away from the threshold it is a
reasonable suspicion that no mystery is there.—So it was that I ceased to
read Mr. Hardy’s novels.
But since then things have somewhat changed. The crowd thickened,
indeed, especially when “Tess” appeared, for that book chanced to illustrate
a fashionable sentimental moral. But last year, suddenly, on the appearance
of Mr. Hardy’s latest book, a great stampede was heard in the land. Noisy
bands of the novelist’s readers were fleeing in every direction. Although it
¹ I may here mention that, in 1883, I published in the “Westminster Review”
what detailed study of the whole of Mr. Hardy’s work up to that date.
CONCERNING JUDE THE OBSCURE 37
was still clearly premature to say that peace reigned in the Warsaw of
“Tess’s” admirers, I detected at least an interesting matter for investigation.
—Thus I returned to Mr. Hardy’s work.
That work is now very considerable, remembering the brief space of
twenty-five years over which it is spread. The damnosa hæreditas of Scott
still afflicts nearly all our novelists with a fatal productiveness. The bigger the
burden you lay on the back of Posterity the sooner he is certain to throw it off.
And the creature’s instinct is right ; no man, not even a Goethe, is immortally
wise in fifty volumes. There are few novelists who can afford to write much.
Even Balzac, the type of prolific imagination in fiction, is no exception.
Content to give the merest external impression of reality, he toiled terribly in
moulding the clay of his own inner consciousness to produce a vast world of
half-baked images, which are immensely impressive in the mass but crumble to
pieces in your fingers when you take them up. Mr. George Meredith is,
perhaps, our nearest modern English counterpart to Balzac. There is a pro-
digious expenditure of intellectual energy in the crowd of Meredith’s huge
novels. To turn from, let us say, “The Hand of Ethelberta” to “Evan
Harrington,” is to feel that, intellectually, Hardy is a mere child compared to
Meredith. There never was a novelist so superhumanly and obstreperously
clever as Mr. Meredith. One suspects that much of the admiration expended
on Meredith, as on Browning, is really the reader’s admiration of his own
cleverness in being able to toddle along at the coat-tails of such a giant. Crude
intellect is as much outside art as crude emotion or crude morals. One
admires the splendid profusion of power, but the perfected achievement which
alone holds our attention permanently is not to be found among these
exuberantly brilliant marionettes. It is all very splendid, but I find no good
reason for reading it, since already it scarcely belongs to our time, since
it never possessed the virtues which are independent of time. Like Balzac,
George Meredith has built to his own memory a great cairn in literature. No
doubt it will be an inspiring spectacle for our race to gaze back at.
There arc really only two kinds of novels which are permanently interest-
ing to men. The first contains those few which impress us by the immortal
power with which they present a great story or a great human type. Such are
the “Satyricon,” “Petit Jehan de Saintré,” “Don Quixote,” “Gil Bias,” “Tom
Jones.” These books are always modern, always invigorating. They stand
foursquare, each on its own basis, against every assault of time. The other
class of novels—holding us not less closely, though it may be less masterfully
—appeal by their intimate insight into the mysteries of the heart. They are
38 THE SAVOY
the books that whisper to us secrets we half-knew yet never quite understood.
They throw open doors into the soul that were only ajar. The men who write
them are not always great masters of style or of literary architectonics, but by
some happy inspiration they have revealed themselves as great masters of the
human heart. Such books are full of the intimate charm of something that we
remember, of things that chanced to us ” a great while since, a long, long time
ago,” and yet they have the startling audacity of the modernest things. Among
them are “Manon Lescaut,” “Adolphe,” “Le Rouge et le Noir,” some of
Dostoieffsky’s novels. If any of Mr. Hardy’s novels may claim to be compared
with the immortals it is the books of this class which we should bear in mind.
The real and permanent interest in Mr. Hardy’s books is not his claim to
be the exponent of Wessex—a claim which has been more than abundantly
recognized—but his intense preoccupation with the mysteries of women’s
hearts. He is less a story-teller than an artist who has intently studied
certain phases of passion, and brings us a simple and faithful report of what he
has found. A certain hesitancy in the report, an occasional failure of narrative
or style, only adds piquancy and a sense of veracity to the record. A mis-
chievous troll, from time to time—more rarely in Mr. Hardy’s later work—is
allowed to insert all sorts of fantastic conceits and incidents. Such interpola-
tions merely furnish additional evidence in favour of the genuine inspiration of
the whole document. We realize that we are in the presence of an artist who
is wholly absorbed in the effort to catch the fleeting caprices of the external
world, unsuspected and incalculable, the unexpected fluctuations of the human
The great novelists of the present century who have chiefly occupied
themselves with the problems of passion and the movements of women’s hearts
—I mean Paul Heyse and George Meredith, together with Goethe, who may
be called their master—have all shown a reverent faith in what we call Nature
as opposed to Society ; they have all regarded the impulses and the duties of
love in women as independent of social regulation, which may or may not
impede the free play of passion and natural morality. Mr. Hardy fully shares
this characteristic. It was less obvious in his earlier novels, no doubt, although
Cytherea of his first book, “Desperate Remedies,” discovered the moral
problems which have puzzled her youngest sisters, and Eustacia in “The Return
of the Native” sank in what she called “the mire of marriage” long before Sue
experienced her complicated matrimonial disasters. For Hardy, as for Goethe
and Heyse, and usually for Meredith the problems of women’s hearts are
mostly independent of the routine codes of men.
CONCERNING JUDE THE OBSCURE 39
The whole course of Mr. Hardy’s development, from 1871 to the present,
has been natural and inevitable, with lapses and irregularities it may be, but
with no real break and no new departure. He seems to have been led along
the path of his art by his instincts ; he was never a novelist with a programme,
planning his line of march at the outset, and boldly affronting public reproba-
tion ; he has moved slowly and tentatively. In his earlier books he eluded
any situation involving marked collision between Nature and Society, and thus
these books failed to shock the susceptibilities of readers who had been brought
up in familiarity with the unreal conventionalities which rule in the novels
of Hugo, Dickens, Thackeray, and the rest. “Far from the Madding Crowd”
first appeared in the “Cornhill,” from which a few years earlier Thackeray had
excluded Mrs. Browning’s poem, “Lord Walter’s Wife,” as presenting an
immoral situation. It was not until “Two on a Tower” appeared, in 1882,
that the general public—led, if I remember rightly, by the “Spectator”—
began to suspect that in reading Mr. Hardy’s books it was not treading on
the firm rock of convention. The reason was, not that any fundamental
change was taking place in the novelist’s work, but that there really is a large
field in which the instincts of human love and human caprice can have free
play without too obviously conflicting with established moral codes. Both in
life and in art it is this large field which we first reach. It is thus in the most
perfect and perhaps the most delightful of Mr. Hardy’s early books, “Under
the Greenwood Tree.” The free play of Fancy’s vagrant heart may be followed
in all its little bounds and rebounds, its fanciful ardours and repressions,
because she is too young a thing to drink deep of life—and because she is not
yet married. It is all very immoral, as Nature is, but it succeeds in avoiding
any collision with the rigid constitution of Society. The victim finally takes
the white veil and is led to the altar ; then a door is closed, and the convent
gate of marriage is not again opened to the intrusive novel-reader’s eye. Not
by any means because it is considered that the horrors beyond are too terrible
to be depicted. The matter does not appear to the novelist under this metaphor.
Your wholesome-minded novelist knows that the life of a pure-natured English-
woman after marriage is, as Taine said, mainly that of a very broody hen, a
series of merely physiological processes with which he, as a novelist, has no
But in novels, as in life, one comes at length to realize that marriage is not
necessarily either a grave, or a convent gate, or a hen’s nest, that though the
conditions are changed the forces at work remain largely the same. It is still
quite possible to watch the passions at play, though there may now be more
40 THE SAVOY
tragedy or more pathos in the outcome of that play. This Mr. Hardy
proceeded to do. first on a small scale in short stories, and then on a larger
scale. “Tess” is typical of this later unconventional way of depicting the real
issues of passion. Remarkable as that book no doubt is, I confess that on the
whole it has made no very strong appeal to me. I was repelled at the outset
by the sub-title. It so happens that I have always regarded the conception of
“purity,” when used in moral discussions, as a conception sadly in need of analy-
sis, and almost the first time I ever saw myself in print was as the author of a
discussion, carried on with the usual ethical fervour of youth, of the question :
“What is Purity ?” I have often seen occasion to ask the question since. It
seems to me doubtful whether anyone is entitled to use the word “pure”
without first defining precisely what he means, and still more doubtful whether
an artist is called upon to define it at all, even in several hundred pages. I
can quite conceive that the artist should take pleasure in the fact that his own
creative revelation of life poured contempt on many old prejudices. But such
an effect is neither powerful nor legitimate unless it is engrained in the texture
of the narrative ; it cannot be stuck on by a label. To me that glaring sub-
title meant nothing, and I could not see what it should mean to Mr. Hardy.
It seemed an indication that he was inclined to follow after George Eliot, who
—for a large “consideration”—condescended to teach morality to the British
public, selling her great abilities for a position of fame which has since proved
somewhat insecure ; because although English men and women are never so
happy as when absorbing unorthodox sermons under the guise of art, the
permanent vitality of sermons is considerably less than that of art.
Thus I was not without suspicion in approaching “Jude the Obscure.”
Had Mr. Hardy discovered the pernicious truth that whereas children can only
take their powders in jam, the strenuous British public cannot be induced to
devour their jam unless convinced that it contains some strange and nauseous
powder? Was “Jude the Obscure” a sermon on marriage from the text on
the title-page : “The letter killeth” ? Putting aside the small failures always
liable to occur in Mr. Hardy’s work, I found little to justify the suspicion. The
sermon may, possibly, be there, but the spirit of art has, at all events, not been
killed. In all the great qualities of literature “Jude the Obscure” seems to
me the greatest novel written in England for many years.
It is interesting to compare “Jude” with a characteristic novel of Mr.
Hardy’s earlier period, with “A Pair of Blue Eyes,” or “The Return of the
Native.” On going back to these, after reading “Jude,” one notes the graver
and deeper tones in the later book, the more austere and restrained roads of
CONCERNING JUDE THE OBSCURE 41
art which Mr. Hardy has sought to follow, and the more organic and radical
way in which he now grips the individuality of his creatures. The individuals
themselves have not fundamentally changed. The type of womankind that
Mr. Hardy chiefly loves to study, from Cytherea to Sue, has always been the
same, very human, also very feminine, rarely with any marked element of
virility, and so contrasting curiously with the androgynous heroines loved of
Mr. Meredith. The latter, with their resolute daring and energy, are of finer
calibre and more imposing ; they are also very much rarer in the actual world
than Mr. Hardy’s women, who represent, it seems to me, a type not un-
common in the south of England, where the heavier Teutonic and Scandinavian
elements are, more than elsewhere, modified by the alert and volatile elements
furnished by earlier races. But if the type remains the same the grasp of it is
now much more thorough. At first Mr. Hardy took these women chiefly at
their more obviously charming or pathetic moments, and sought to make the
most of those moments, a little careless as to the organic connection of such
moments to the underlying personality. One can well understand that many
readers should prefer the romantic charm of the earlier passages, but—should
it be necessary to affirm ?—to grapple with complexly realized persons and to
dare to face them in the tragic or sordid crises of real life is to rise to a higher
plane of art. In “Jude the Obscure” there is a fine self-restraint, a complete
mastery of all the elements of an exceedingly human story. There is nothing
here of the distressing melodrama into which Mr. Hardy was wont to fall in
his early novels. Yet in plot “Jude” might be a farce. One could imagine
that Mr. Hardy had purposed to himself to take a conventional farce, in which
a man and a woman leave their respective partners to make love to one
another and then finally rejoin their original partners, in order to see what
could be made of such a story by an artist whose sensitive vision penetrated
to the tragic irony of things ; just as the great novelists of old, De la Sale,
Cervantes, Fielding, took the worn-out conventional stories of their time, and
filled them with the immortal blood of life. Thus “Jude” has a certain
symmetry of plan such as is rare in the actual world—where we do not so
readily respond to our cues—but to use such a plot to produce such an effect
is an achievement of the first order.
Only at one point, it seems to me, is there a serious lapse in the art of
the book, and that is when the door of the bedroom closet is sprung open on
us to reveal the row of childish corpses. Up to that one admires the strength
and sobriety of the narrative, its complete reliance on the interests that lie in
common humanity. We feel that here are real human beings of the sort we
42 THE SAVOY
all know, engaged in obscure struggles that are latent in the life we all know.
But with the opening of that cupboard we are thrust out of the large field of
common life into the small field of the police court or the lunatic asylum,
among the things which for most of us are comparatively unreal. It seems an
unnecessary clash in the story. Whatever failure of nervous energy may be
present in the Fawley family, it is clear that Mr. Hardy was not proposing to
himself a study of gross pathological degenerescence, a study of the hereditary
evolution of criminality. If that were so, the story would lose the wide human
significance which is not merely stated explicitly in the preface, but implicitly
throughout. Nor can it be said that so wholesale a murder was required for
the constructive development of the history ; a much less serious catastrophe
would surely have sufficed to influence the impressionable Sue. However
skilful Mr. Hardy may be in the fine art of murder, it is as a master of the
more tender and human passions that he is at his best. The element of
bloodshed in “Tess” seems of dubious value. One is inclined to question
altogether the fitness of bloodshed for the novelist’s purpose at the present
period of history. As a factor in human fate bloodshed to-day is both too
near and too remote for the purposes of art. It is too rare to be real and
poignant to every heart, and in the days of well-equipped burglars and a
” spirited ” foreign policy it is too vulgar to bring with it any romance of ” old
unhappy far-off things.” Our great sixteenth-century dramatists could use it
securely as their commonest resource because it was then a deeply-rooted fact
both of artistic convention and of real life. In this century bloodshed can
only be made humanly interesting by a great psychologist, living on the
barbarous outskirts of civilization, a Dostoieffsky to whom the secret of every
abnormal impulse has been revealed. In Mr. Hardy’s books bloodshed is
one of the forms put on by the capricious troll whose business it is to lure
him from his own work. But that cupboard contains the only skeleton in the
house of ” Jude the Obscure.” On the whole, it may be said that Mr. Hardy
here leads us to a summit in art, where the air is perhaps too rare and austere
for the more short-winded among his habitual readers, but, so far as can yet
be seen, surely a summit.—So at least it seems to one who no longer cares
to strain his vision in detecting mole-hills on the lower slopes of Parnassus,
yet still finds pleasure in gazing back at the peaks.
But I understand that the charge brought against “Jude the Obscure” is
not so much that it is bad art as that it is a book with a purpose, a moral or
an immoral purpose, according to the standpoint of the critic. It would not
be pleasant to admit that a book you thought bad morality is good art, but
CONCERNING JUDE THE OBSCURE 43
the bad morality is the main point, and this book, it is said, is immoral, and
indecent as well.
So are most of our great novels. “Jane Eyre,” we know on the authority
of a “Quarterly” reviewer, could not have been written by a respectable woman,
while another “Quarterly” (or maybe “Edinburgh”) reviewer declared that
certain scenes in “Adam Bede” are indecently suggestive. “Tom Jones” is
even yet regarded as unfit to be read in an unabridged form. The echo of the
horror which “Les Liaisons Dangereuses” produced more than a century ago
in the cheerfully immoral society of the ancien régime has scarcely even to-day-
died down sufficiently to permit an impartial judgment of that powerful and
saturnine book. “Madame Bovary,” which Taine regarded in later days as
fit for use in Sunday schools, was thought so shocking in the austere court of
Napoleon III. that there was no alternative to prosecution. Zola’s chief
novels, which to-day are good enough to please Mr. Stead, the champion of
British Puritanism, were yesterday bad enough to send his English publisher
to prison. It seems, indeed, on a review of all the facts, that the surer a novel
is of a certain immortality, the surer it is also to be regarded at first as
indecent, as subversive of public morality. So that when, as in the present
case, such charges are recklessly flung about in all the most influential
quarters, we are simply called upon to accept them placidly as necessary
incidents in the career of a great novel.
It is no fortuitous circumstance that the greatest achievements of the
novelist’s art seem to outrage morality. “Jude the Obscure” is a sufficiently
great book to serve to illustrate a first principle. I have remarked that I
cannot find any undue intrusion of morality in the art of this book. But I was
careful to express myself cautiously, for without doubt the greatest issues of
social morality are throughout at stake. So that the question arises : What
is the function of the novelist as regards morals ? The answer is simple, though
it has sometimes been muddled. A few persons have incautiously asserted that
the novel has nothing to do with morals. That we cannot assert ; the utmost
that can be asserted is that the novelist should never allow himself to be made
the tool of a merely moral or immoral purpose. For the fact is that, so far as
the moralist deals with life at all, morals is part of the very stuff of his art.
That is to say, that his art lies in drawing the sinuous woof of human nature
between the rigid warp of morals. Take away morals, and the novelist is in
vacuo, in the region of fairy land. The more subtly and firmly he can weave
these elements together the more impressive becomes the stuff of his art. The
great poet may be in love with passion, but it is by heightening and strengthen-
44 THE SAVOY
ing the dignity of traditional moral law that he gives passion fullest play.
When Wagner desired to create a typically complete picture of passion he chose
the story of Tristram ; no story of Paul and Virginia can ever bring out the
deepest cries of human passion. Shakespeare found it impossible to picture
even the pure young love of Romeo and Juliet without the aid of the violated
laws of family and tradition. ” The crash of broken commandments,” Mr.
Hardy once wrote in a magazine article, ” is as necessary an accompaniment to
the catastrophe of a tragedy as the noise of drum and cymbals to a triumphal
march ;” and that picturesque image fails to express how essential to the
dramatist is this clash of law against passion. It is the same in life as in art,
and if you think of the most pathetic stories of human passion, the profoundest
utterances of human love, you probably think most readily of such things as the
letters of Abélard and Héloise, or of Mlle, de Lespinasse, or of the Portuguese
nun, and only with difficulty of the tamer speech of happier and more legiti-
mate emotions. Life finds her game in playing off the irresistible energy of
the individual against the equally irresistible energy of the race, and the
stronger each is the finer the game. So the great artist whose brain is afire
with the love of passion yet magnifies the terror and force of moral law, in his
heart probably hates it.
Mr. Hardy has always been in love with Nature, with the instinctive,
spontaneous, unregarded aspects of Nature, from the music of the dead heather-
bells to the flutter of tremulous human hearts, all the things that are beautiful
because they are uncontrolled by artificial constraint. The progress of his art
has consisted in bringing this element of nature into ever closer contact with
the rigid routine of life, making it more human, making it more moral or more
immoral. It is an inevitable progression. That love of the spontaneous, the
primitive, the unbound—which we call the love of “Nature”—must as
it becomes more searching take more and more into account those things, also
natural, which bind and constrain “Nature.” So that on the one side, as Mr.
Hardy has himself expressed it, we have Nature and her unconsciousness of
all but essential law, on the other the laws framed merely as social expedients
without a basis in the heart of things, and merely expressing the triumph of the
majority over the individual ; which shows, as is indeed evident from Mr.
Hardy’s work, that he is not much in sympathy with Society, and also shows
that, like Heyse, he recognizes a moral order in Nature. This conflict reaches
its highest point around women. Truly or falsely, for good or for evil, woman
has always been for man the supreme priestess, or the supreme devil, of
Nature. “A woman,” said Proudhon—himself the incarnation of the revolt of
CONCERNING JUDE THE OBSCURE 45
Nature in the heart of man—”even the most charming and virtuous woman,
always contains an element of cunning, the wild beast element. She is a tamed
animal that sometimes returns to her natural instinct. This cannot be said
in the same degree of man.” The loving student of the elemental in Nature so
becomes the loving student of women, the sensitive historian of her conflicts
with “sin” and with “repentance,” the creations of man. Not, indeed, that
any woman who has “sinned,” if her sin was indeed love, ever really “repents.”
It is probable that a true experience of the one emotional state as of the other
remains a little foreign to her, “sin” having probably been the invention
of men who never really knew what love is. She may catch the phrases of the
people around her when her spirit is broken, but that is all. I have never
known or heard of any woman, having for one moment in her life loved and
been loved, who did not count that moment as worth all other moments in life.
The consciousness of the world’s professed esteem can never give to unloved
virtue and respectability the pride which belongs to the woman who has once
“sinned” with all her heart. One supposes that the slaves of old who never
once failed in abject obedience to their master’s will mostly subdued their
souls to the level of their starved virtues. But the woman who has loved is like
the slave who once at least in his life has risen in rebellion with the cry : “And
I, too, am a man !” Nothing that comes after can undo the fine satisfaction of
that moment. It was so that a great seventeenth-century predecessor of Mr.
Hardy in the knowledge of the heart, painted Annabella exultant in her sin
even at the moment of discovery, for “Nature” knows no sin.
If these things are so, it is clear how the artist who has trained himself to
the finest observation of Nature cannot fail, as his art becomes more vital and
profound, to paint morals. The fresher and more intimate his vision of Nature,
the more startling his picture of morals. To such an extent is this the case in
“Jude the Obscure,” that some people have preferred to regard the book as a
study of monstrosity, of disease. Sue is neurotic, some critics say; it is fashionable
to play cheerfully with terrible words you know nothing about. “Neurotic”
these good people say by way of dismissing her, innocently unaware that
many a charming “urban miss” of their own acquaintance would deserve the
name at least as well. In representing Jude and Sue as belonging to a failing
family stock, I take it that Mr. Hardy by no means wished to bring before us
a mere monstrosity, a pathological “case,” but that rather, with an artist’s true
instinct—the same instinct that moved so great an artist as Shakespeare when
he conceived “Hamlet”—he indicates the channels of least resistance along
which the forces of life most impetuously rush. Jude and Sue are represented
46 THE SAVOY
as crushed by a civilization to which they were not born, and though civilization
may in some respects be regarded as a disease and as unnatural, in others it
may be said to bring out those finer vibrations of Nature which are overlaid by
rough and bucolic conditions of life. The refinement of sexual sensibility with
which this book largely deals is precisely such a vibration. To treat Jude, who
wavers between two women, and Sue, who finds the laws of marriage too
mighty for her lightly-poised organism, as shocking monstrosities, reveals a
curious attitude in the critics who have committed themselves to that view.
Clearly they consider human sexual relationships to be as simple as those of
the farmyard. They are as shocked as a farmer would be to find that a hen
had views of her own concerning the lord of the harem. If, let us say, you
decide that Indian Game and Plymouth Rock make a good cross, you put your
cock and hens together, and the matter is settled ; and if you decide that a
man and a woman are in love with each other, you marry them and the matter
is likewise settled for the whole term of their natural lives. I suppose that the
farmyard view really is the view of the ordinary wholescme-minded novelist
—I mean of course in England—and of his ordinary critic. Indeed in Europe
generally, a distinguished German anthropologist has lately declared, sensible
and experienced men still often exhibit a knowledge of sexual matters such as we
might expect from a milkmaid. But assuredly the farmyard view corresponds
imperfectly to the facts of human life in our time. Such things as “Jude” is
made of are, in our time at all events, life, and life is still worthy of her muse.
“Yes, yes, no doubt that is so,” some critics have said in effect, “but con-
sider how dangerous such a book is. It may be read by the young. Consider
how sad it would be if the young should come to suspect, before they are
themselves married, that marriage after all may not always be a box of bon-
bons. Remember the Young Person.” Mr. Hardy has himself seemingly,
though it may only be in seeming, admitted the justice of this objection when
in the preface to his book he states that it is “addressed by a man to men
and women of full age.” Of course there is really only one thing that the
true artist can or will remember, and that is his art. He is only writing for
one person—himself. But it remains true that a picture of the moral facts of
the world must arouse moral emotions in the beholder, and while it may not
be legitimate to discuss what the artist ought to have done, it is perfectly
legitimate to discuss the effect of what he has done.
I must confess that to me it seems the merest cant to say that a book has
been written only to be read by elderly persons. In France, where a different
tradition has been established, the statement may pass, but not in England nor
CONCERNING JUDE THE OBSCURE 47
in America, where the Young Person has a firm grip of the novel, which she is
not likely to lose. Twenty years ago one observed that one’s girl friends—
the daughters of clergymen and other pillars of society—found no difficulty,
when so minded, in reading en cachette the works of Ouida, then the standard-
bearer of the Forbidden, and subsequent observation makes it probable that
they are transmitting a similar aptitude to their daughters, the Young Persons
of to-day. We may take it that a novel, especially if written in English, is
open to all readers. If you wish to write exclusively for adult readers, it is
difficult to say what form of literature you should adopt ; even metaphysics is
scarcely safe, but the novel is out of the question. Every attempt to restrict
literature is open to a reductio ad absurdum. I well remember the tender-
hearted remonstrance of an eminent physician concerning a proposal to publish
in a medical journal a paper on some delicate point in morbid psychology :
“There are always the compositors.” Who knows but that some weak-kneed
suggestible compositor may by Jude Fawley’s example be thrust on the
downward road to adultery and drink ? With this high-strung anxiety lest we
cause our brother to offend, no forward step could ever be taken in the world ;
for “there are always the compositors.” There would be nothing better than
to sit still before the book of Ecclesiastes, leaving the compositors to starve in
the odour of sanctity.
But why should the Young Person not read “Jude the Obscure”? To
me at least such a question admits of no answer when the book is the work
of a genuine artist. One can understand that a work of art as art may not
be altogether intelligible to the youthful mind, but if we are to regard it as
an ensample or a warning, surely it is only for youth that it can have any sort
of saving grace. “Jude” is an artistic picture of a dilemma such as the Young
Person, in some form or another, may one day have to face. Surely, on moral
grounds, she should understand and realize this beforehand. A book which
pictures such things with fine perception and sympathy should be singularly
fit reading. There is probably, however, much more foxiness than morality
in the attitude of the Elderly Person in this matter. “Don’t trouble about
traps, my little dears,” the Elderly Person seems to say ; “at your age you
ought not to know there are such things. And really they are too painful to
talk about ; no well-bred Young Person does.” When the Young Person has
been duly caught, and emerges perhaps without any tail, then the Elderly Person
will be willing to discuss the matter on a footing of comfortable equality. But
what good will it be to the Young Person then ? The Elderly Person’s solici-
tude in this matter springs, one fears, from no moral source, but has its origin
48 THE SAVOY
in mists of barbarous iniquity which, to avoid bringing the blush of shame to his
cheek, need not here be investigated. “Move on, Auntie !” as little Sue said
to the indignant relation who had caught her wading in the pond, “this is no
sight for modest eyes !”
So that if the Young Person should care to read “Jude” we ought for her
own sake, at all events, to be thankful. But our thankfulness may not be
needed. The Young Person has her own tastes, which are at least as
organically rooted as anyone else’s ; if they are strong she will succeed in
gratifying them ; if they are not, they scarcely matter much. She ranks
“A Pair of Blue Eyes” above “Jude the Obscure,” likes Dickens more than
either, and infinitely prefers Marie Corelli to them all. Thus she puts her
foot down on the whole discussion. In any case it ought to be unnecessary
to labour this point ; there is really little to add to Ruskin’s eloquent vindica-
tion for young girls of a wholesome freedom to follow their own instincts in
the choice of books.
To sum up, “Jude the Obscure” seems to me—in such a matter one can
only give one’s own impressions for what they are worth—a singularly fine
piece of art, when we remember the present position of the English novel. It
is the natural outcome of Mr. Hardy’s development, along lines that are
genuinely and completely English. It deals very subtly and sensitively with
new and modern aspects of life, and if, in so doing, it may be said to represent
Nature as often cruel to our social laws, we must remark that the strife of
Nature and Society, the individual and the community, has ever been the
artist’s opportunity. “Matrimony have growed to be that serious in these days,”
Widow Edlin remarks, “that one really do feel afeard to move in it at all.” It
is an affectation to pretend that the farmyard theory of life still rules un-
questioned, and that there are no facts to justify Mrs. Edlin. If anyone will
not hear her, let him turn to the Registrar-General. Such facts are in our
civilisation to-day. We have no right to resent the grave and serious spirit
with which Mr. Hardy, in the maturity of his genius, has devoted his best art
to picture some of these facts. In “Jude the Obscure” we find for the first
time in our literature the reality of marriage clearly recognized as something
wholly apart from the mere ceremony with which our novelists have usually
identified it. Others among our novelists may have tried to deal with the
reality rather than with its shadow, but assuredly not with the audacity, purity
and sincerity of an artist who is akin in spirit to the great artists of our best
dramatic age, to Fletcher and Heywood and Ford, rather than to the powerful
though often clumsy novelists of the eighteenth century.
CONCERNING JUDE THE OBSCURE 49
There is one other complaint often brought against this book, I under-
stand, by critics usually regarded as intelligent, and with the mention of it I
have done. “Mr. Hardy finds that marriage often leads to tragedy,” they say,
“but he shows us no way out of these difficulties ; he does not tell us his own
plans for the improvement of marriage and the promotion of morality.” Let
us try to consider this complaint with due solemnity. It is true that the artist
is god in his own world ; but being so he has too fine a sense of the etiquette
of creation to presume to offer suggestions to the creator of the actual world,
suggestions which might be resented, and would almost certainly not be
adopted. An artist’s private opinions concerning the things that are good
and bad in the larger work! are sufficiently implicit in the structure of his own
smaller world ; the counsel that he should make them explicit in a code
of rules and regulations for humanity at large is a counsel which, as every
artist knows, can only come from the Evil One. This complaint against
“Jude the Obscure” could not have arisen save among a generation which has
battened on moral and immoral tracts thrown into the form of fiction by
ingenious novices. The only cure for it one can suggest is a course of great
European novels from “Petit Jehan de Saintré” downwards. One suggestion
indeed occurs for such consolation as it may yield. Has it not been left to our
century to discover that the same hand which wrote the disordered philosophy
of “Hamlet” put the times into joint again in “The New Atlantis,” and may
not posterity find Thomas Hardy’s hand in “Looking Backward” and “The
Strike of a Sex ?” Thus for these critics of “Jude” there may yet be balm in
Two Eighteenth-Century Book-Plates
1. The Book-Plate of the Bastille
2. The Book-Plate of Marie Antoinette, by Ch. Eisen
A SOUL AT LETHE’S BRINK
ARE ye not overfond—
Ye who would carry memory to the shades,
Those blessed seats in the deep meads and glades ?
For me—I have been bond
To griefs too many and to joys too fierce ;
May neither with remembrance longer pierce !
Lead me, caducean wand,
Where the green turf with silent dew is wet :
There my burnt, throbbing temples will I steep ;
I would forget.
So let me sink in the Great Deep of Sleep !
Why would ye beckon dreams ?
To set the thorn where never grew the thorn !
To make sweet rest a mockery forlorn !
To give the gliding streams
Of that fair twilight country where ye go,
The moaning burden that too well ye know !
To feign the hot noon-beams
Strike the bowed head, where noon came never yet !
Far, far from me, the soothless dream-throng keep !
I would forget.
Oh, let me sink in the Great Deep of Sleep !
Ay, bid adieu to all ;
Nor grieve that something sweetest stays behind.
Be deaf unto his cries, and be ye blind
To looks that would enthral ;
For Love, most far of all the clamant throng
That held the fevered hands of Life so long,
Follows with haunting call.
56 THE SAVOY
Oh, most of all, to him the bound be set ;
Between us thrice the lustral waters creep !
I would forget.
Oh, let me sink in the Great Deep of Sleep.
But ye, why doubt to drink,
Ye spirits that from many a land and zone
Of the wide earth, with me were hither blown ?
Why stand ye at the brink,
A timorous band, who often have besought
That ye might cease from toils, from strife, from thought ;
Why, therefore, do ye shrink ?
Follow—and quaff with closed eye, and let
The sight draw inward, while the shadows creep !
I would forget . . .
And now, I sink in the Great Deep of Sleep !
EDITH M. THOMAS.
THE LESSON OF MILLAIS
THE burial of Millais in St. Paul’s should have been an honour
done to a great painter, who died at the age of thirty-five, the
painter of “The Eve of St. Agnes,” of “Ophelia,” of “The
Vale of Rest ;” it was but an honour done to a popular
painter, the painter of “Bubbles,” and other coloured supple-
ments to Christmas numbers, who died at the age of sixty-
seven. In the eulogies that have been justly given to the late President of the
Royal Academy, I have looked in vain for this sentence, which should have had
its place in them all : he did not make the “great refusal.” Instead of this, I
have seen only : he was so English, and so fond of salmon-fishing.
It is not too much to say that Millais began his career with a finer promise
than any artist of his time. In sheer mastery of his brush he was greater than
Rossetti, greater than Holman Hunt, greater than Watts, greater than anyone
but Whistler. He had the prodigal energy of genius, and painted pictures
because he was born to paint pictures. It was at his studio that the Pre-
Raphaelite Brotherhood took form, and he was the most prominent member of
the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. He was elected an Associate of the Royal
Academy at the age of twenty-four, a Royal Academician at the age of thirty-
four. Up to then he had painted masterpiece after masterpiece, pictures
in which there was temperament, intention, a noble interest. From that time
to the time of his death he painted continuously, often brilliantly, whatever
came before him, Mr. Gladstone or Cinderella, a bishop or a landscape. He
painted them all with the same facility and the same lack of conviction ; he
painted whatever would bring him ready money and immediate fame ; and he
deliberately abandoned a career which, with labour, might have made him the
greatest painter of his age, in order to become, with ease, the richest and the
Art, let it be remembered, must always be an aristocracy ; it has been so,
from the days when Michel Angelo dictated terms to Popes, to the days when
Rossetti cloistered his canvases in contempt of the multitude and its prying
unwisdom. The appeal of every great artist has been to the few ; fame, when
58 THE SAVOY
it has come, has come by a sort of divine accident, in which the mob has done
no more than add the plaudits of its irrelevant clamour to the select approval
of the judges. Millais alone, since the days of that first enthusiasm in which
he was a sort of fiery hand for the more slowly realizing brains of his com-
panions in art, has made the democratic appeal. He chose his subjects in
deference to the opinion of the middle classes ; he painted the portraits of
those who could afford to pay a great price. His pictures of pretty women
and pretty children had the success, not of the technical skill which was always
at his command, but of the obvious sentiment which makes them pretty. The
merit of these interminable pictures varies ; he was sometimes more careful,
sometimes more careless. Mastery over the technicalities of painting he
always possessed ; but it had come to be the mastery of a hand which worked
without emotion, without imagination, without intellectual passion ; and with-
out these qualities there can be no great art.
The newspapers, in their obituary notices, have assured us that in honour-
ing Millais, we are honouring not merely the artist, but the man; “of the
Englishmen who have been the sons of Art,” said “The Times,” “scarcely one
has deserved more honour than Millais.” My thoughts have turned, as I read
these commendations of the good citizen, so English, so sporting, whose private
virtues were so undeniably British, to a painter, also a man of genius, whose
virtues were all given up to his art, and who is now living in a destitute and
unhonoured obscurity. It has seemed to me that there, in that immaculate
devotion to art, I find the true morality of the artist ; while in the respectability
of Millais I see nothing to honour, for its observance of the letter I take to
have been a desecration of the spirit.
IN FORM OF A BALLADE
WHICH VILLON MADE FOR HIMSELF AND HIS COMPANIONS
WHEN EXPECTING TO BE HANGED WITH THEM
BROTHERS who yet are living, mortal men,
Speak not of us with wrath and bitter tongue,
Since if your souls for us are filled with pain
The more will God’s grace fall your hearts among.
You see us here upon the gibbets hung :
The flesh that we too much did glorify
Has long been putrid and devoured : and dry
As dust and ashes now our bleached bones be.
Let no man then our hideous shapes decry,
But pray that God may show us all mercy.
Brothers, speak not, we pray you, with disdain
Of us poor five or six by law upstrung.
It is not every man who has his brain
Clear and well-seated, as has oft been sung.
Make ye then intercession for our wrong
To him whose death from Hell our souls did buy,
Saving us from the flames that never die,
That fresh may flow the fount of His pity.
We are dead : let none to vex our spirits try,
But pray that God may show us all mercy.
Our bodies have been washed and drenched by rain,
Dried up and blackened by the sun ; a throng
Of ravens and of crows our eyes have ta’en
And pluckt the brows and beards whereto they clung.
62 THE SAVOY
Never are we at rest, forever swung
By every wind that shifts and passes by,
Pecked by the sharp beaks of the crow and pye
And dinted like a thimble, as you see,
Have naught to say to them that with us vie,
But pray that God may show us all mercy.
Prince Jesus, Lord who reignest in the sky,
Grant that to Hell’s fierce mouth we draw not nigh :
Toward such a place no love or wish have we.
Men, mock not us because we hang so high,
But pray that God may show us all mercy.
THERE was a rosy hue all over the dinner-table, as two men
sat patiently waiting ; it cast its glow over the host’s ruddy
features, and made his fair hair, and good-natured smile,
more noticeable by its warmth.
If his good-nature, and his perpetual smile, were some-
times a little monotonous, his wife (still in her dressing-room
upstairs) never showed that she thought so. But the red glow from the
curtained electric light had no power to change the pallor, or the look of ill-
health, on the other man’s face ; he was freshly recovered from a long illness,
and there were caverns in his cheeks, and black hollows under his dark eyes.
“Elsa is late,” said Mr. Lander, “we won’t wait. Bring the soup, Williams.”
As the manservant obeyed, the guest looked down at his own thin long
“I feel like a ghost,” he remarked.
” Glad to have you here again, my boy. I know you won’t mind, though,
if I run round to the club for half an hour after dinner.” Mr. Lander laughed
lightly. “Poker again, Leslie. I didn’t know you were likely to drop in, or
I shouldn’t have promised to go. Elsa will look after you.”
His guest glanced up.
“But perhaps, Mrs. Lander——”
As he spoke, the door opened, and she came in. There was something
in her manner, which was out of keeping with her face, and her smile was
“I am sorry to have kept you waiting,——”
“We didn’t wait,” her husband interrupted, with a giggle.
“I hope you are better, Mr. James. You have had a very hard time
He took her hand, which was limp and unresponsive, and dropped it.
“I am all right now,” he answered briskly, “although I am conscious
of looking a fearful wreck.”
64 THE SAVOY
She glanced at him furtively, as she took her seat ; and drew in her breath,
so that her small full lips curled inwards for a second. Her hand, which was
perfectly shaped, and laden with diamonds, touched the orchids in a vase
“Are you thinking of going away ?” she asked.
“To recruit ? Oh, no ! I am too glad to begin the old life again, to wish
to run away.”
She lifted her eyes, till they fell on his thin fingers, and she said
“You look as if a change of air would do you good,” and as suddenly
veered round in argument, and added, “But unless your doctor thinks it
needful, I should remain in town.”
“Doctors always think it needful.”
Mr. Lander laughed. “Awful rot, isn’t it ? What’s the matter, Elsa ?”
“My soup is cold.”
“Your own fault. You were so beastly late.”
She looked straight at him, with a leaden expression in her gray
“‘ Beastly,’ is such an ugly word,” she said.
He chuckled, well contented. “Elsa always quarrels with my language,
when she can’t deny my argument. Don’t you, Elsa ?”
She was intent on the gold fringe, on the sleeve of her tea-gown, and did
“What have you both been doing,” the other man asked, “during my
lost two months ?”
“Oh, Elsa has been trotting about as usual. She is always very busy
doing nothing. I only see her at dinner-time, and then she is usually tired or
The woman smiled. “I am out of favour to-night,” she said gently.
“Nonsense ! Nonsense ! I always speak the truth, you know I always
speak the truth, but you don’t like hearing it. That’s all.”
She sipped her wine. “A generous lie is sometimes refreshing,” she
James broke in abruptly.
“I hope you have been well, anyhow, Mrs. Lander.”
“Oh, yes, thank you.”
“And the baby ?”
“The child is quite well.”
Her husband leant forward.
“Let’s have him down, Elsa. Send for Mary.”
“Oh, no, Bertie. He’s asleep by this time.”
He shook his head. “I know better, I’ll go and see myself.”
“I don’t want him to come down, Bertie.”
“Why the devil not ?”
“It isn’t good for him to get so excited, just before settling to sleep. Mr.
James can see him another day.”
“The truth is, Elsa, you don’t want to bother with him yourself. But you
will kindly allow me to care for the child, even if you are so beastly
Their guest grew crimson for the first time, and he moistened his lips,
which were dry and parched.
The woman made no answer, nor did she look round, as her husband
left the room. Her bent head, with its soft auburn curls, was immovable.
The man watched her, with his teeth set.
She spoke, without lifting her eyes.
“It is a long time since we have seen you.”
“You must have been very dull.”
“I was dull.”
“You heard that Aimée is going to be married.”
“Yes, Bertie told me.”
“I have known the man a long time.”
“Is he a good sort ?”
“He is smart, and well-mannered.”
“That is scant praise from you.”
“I can express no more.”
“Your reserve is wonderful, Mrs. Lander.”
“Reserve ! Why, you can’t complain of that, surely. I know no one so
reserved as yourself,—no one.”
“Not to the people I care for.”
She winced, and he saw it with a kind of stupid wonder.
“Was I rude ?” he asked.
“A little frank.” She clasped her hands tightly together, and added,
nervously hilarious, “Don’t you feel delighted to be well again ? Didn’t
you feel out of the world when you were ill, and in a land of dreams and
phantoms ? I always do.”
66 THE SAVOY
“Yes.” He spoke brusquely, as her husband entered with the child.
It was four years old, small and dark-eyed ; for the moment it was fretful,
and inclined to be capricious.
“Papa dressed me so badly,” he announced.
Mrs. Lander said nothing. With a fact once accomplished, she rarely
“May I have some ‘trawberries ?” he lisped.
“Not so late at night,” his mother answered.
“Papa will give me some.”
“Of course, Dickie. Come over here and sit near papa.”
“He hasn’t spoken to me yet,” James said. “Have you forgotten me,
“But I am Uncle Leslie.”
“You’re not my real uncle, nurse said so. You’re sham, like my silver
His father interposed. “But he is papa’s friend, his greatest friend,
Dickie. We were at school and college together, and I am fond of Uncle
Leslie. Can’t you love a sham uncle, you little rogue, as well as a real
“Yes. P’rhaps I can. More ‘trawberries.”
“No, that is enough. Would you like a sip of my port for a great treat ?”
Elsa looked across the table, her under lip twitched.
“That will do, Bertie The child can go now.”
The boy did not move.
“Run away, Dickie, and ask nurse to put you to bed.”
“Nonsense, Elsa. He can stay a little longer.”
“Do you want to teach him to disobey me ?” she asked.
“Rubbish !” he giggled. “Look at his stained fingers. Oh, you dirty
little boy !”
Mrs. Lander rose and lifted the child off its chair. It screamed with rage
and kicked violently, striking out with a deliberate attempt to hurt.
The red glow was again reflected in the guest’s face, he half arose from
his seat, and then refrained.
“You had better punish him, Lander,” he said.
“Oh, no. He’s all right. Let him alone, Elsa. Dickie, come and say
good-night to papa, and don’t kick your mother. Do you hear ? Come away
from him, Elsa. What a fool you are.”
She had lifted the struggling personification of ill-temper, and held it in a
vice which it could not escape. Her little teeth, which were like pearls, were
clenched ; the burden was somewhat heavy, but she reached the door and
carried it upstairs.
The moonlight streamed in at a staircase window, and lit up the face
which was capable of so much devotion and passion, but was never intended
for the duties of a mother. Her lips quivered, her eyes were dry. Once in
the nursery, she put the child down on its bed and stood near.
“Hush !” she said. “We are tired of hideous screams.”
The nurse looked on, awed and interested.
“Are you going to stop ? Or shall I tell nurse to punish you ?”
The sound ceased.
“Sit up and look at me.”
She was reluctantly obeyed.
“What would you do if nurse kicked your cat ?”
“What ought I to do to you then, as you have kicked your mother ?”
The child fidgetted.
“I have no time to waste on you, now, and I expect you will be feeling
rather sick, as you have eaten far too many strawberries ; if you are ill, don’t
send for me. I shall not see you all to-morrow, and little boys who kick can
belong to papa if they like, but they don’t belong to me.”
She turned without another glance at the child, and left the room. On the
way downstairs she stopped to wash her hands.
“He was very sticky,” she thought ; “and he has torn my tea-gown.”
Neither of the men had spoken much since she had left, and when she
entered, both glanced up, with a nervous curiosity as to what she would do.
She took her seat.
“Pass me the claret, Mr. James, and you can both smoke. I think I
should like a cigarette also. There are some in that silver box. Bertie, look
for the matches.”
James leant forward. “Here is a light.”
“Thank you.” Her hand touched his, and he felt it was as cold as ice.
“I have torn my tea-gown, which is tiresome,” she remarked. “But I shall
order another to-morrow, so it doesn’t matter much.”
“Another !” her husband cried.
68 THE SAVOY
“Why not ?”
“How many more bills ?”
“She smiled. “Your son is extravagant, he spares neither material nor
flesh. I regret that you did not interfere, it would have spared your pocket,
and my wrist.” She held up her hand, and showed where a small boot heel
had bruised and broken the skin.
Her guest lost his head.
“What a shame, Mrs. Lander !” he cried : “that must hurt you, he
really ought to be well punished, the little brute ; if he were a child of
“If he were a child of yours,” she answered, “he would never have
The remark slipped out. Once spoken, the scarlet colour leapt to her
face, his eyes scorched her, and his lifted wineglass rattled against his teeth.
The truth lay stripped of its prudery, bare and naked. Its nudity shocked
them. Mr. Lander unconsciously held it up like a glass, for them to see the
reflection of their souls therein.
“Well, I’m sure Leslie hasn’t much to thank you for,” he muttered.
“You never went near him, after he was on the road to recovery. I begged
you to do so a score of times, but you are so deuced modest and particular.”
He flung down his table-napkin and rose. “I’m off to the club,” he added.
“See you again later, Leslie.”
Neither moved till the hall door closed, then James looked at her.
“Elsa !” he cried.
She faltered, “Yes.”
He rose to shut the door. She turned, as a dog turns at its master’s
voice, and stood upright.
He came back swiftly, and caught her in his arms.
“I love you,” he said.
She nodded, dumb.
He kissed the lips which could not speak.
For a short time, her feeling, and the strangeness of the clinging contact
of his mouth, obliterated all else. She neither thought nor stirred ; her whole
form swayed to his slightest movement, her eyes blind, her senses lost, her
soul throbbing to the tune of his passion. She turned faint, and drew back
Then he looked at her, and his look gave her the knowledge of what “had
She clung to him freshly, with a sudden shame, and an idea that he, who
had invoked the feeling, should aid her to hide it. He held her closely, with
the second, more protecting manner of a strong passion, and then in a husky-
voice, which was unlike his old voice, he spoke.
“Elsa, my darling, my darling,” he said.
“But you must have guessed, you must have known long ago,” she
murmured. “I nearly died during your illness. Oh, Leslie, if you knew,—
if you could know,—” She broke off; his lips closed hers.
“And I,” he said at length, “have had two months waiting for this.”
“But it taught me, Leslie. I didn’t understand before.”
They were silent again. She leant against him as if for support, overcome
by a vague dread of a fuller explanation, which was sure to come.
She pleaded, as women can.
“Let us forget all else, Leslie. All but the one great happiness to-night.
I am yours, every thought, every atom of my love, my devotion, is yours,—and
you,—I know it at last,—love me. There is nothing else in the world. Just
we two here, and together and loving as we love. Leslie,—” She touched his
face, so that he bent his head and looked at her again. “Let us forget all else.”
She might have added, “duty, honour, and the rest,” but her woman’s tact
refrained. “Let us live in the present, just for to-night. Ah, now you are
angry ! You don’t love me!”
“I don’t love you ! God help me ! Elsa ! Elsa !”
There was silence again, and then in the hall a man’s step.
She grew nervous and guilty. “We must go upstairs,” she said ; “the
servants will want to clear the table.” She drew away ; he followed her
Once in the drawing-room he closed the door, and followed her to the
sofa. She made him kneel, and wound her arms round his neck.
“I—I don’t know myself,” she murmured. “Do you know me, Leslie ?”
“Yes, at last.”
“You have dreamed of me like this ?”
“Not like this. Not half so sweet, not half what you are. Oh, Elsa, you
are driving me mad !”
She smiled indulgently, and hid, half timidly, her own madness. She
held him, as a woman hugs her own danger, with a queer pathetic kind of
reasoning, that it is a protection against herself. And he held her, as a man
holds a woman who belongs to him by right of her heart, her brain, and all
her senses ; a right which is all powerful, and, like a flood which sweeps away
70 THE SAVOY
the boundaries of a mighty river, is strong enough to break, and wash away,
all the marriage ties in the world.
* * * * * *
When Mr. Lander came home, his guest had been gone three hours.
Elsa sat in the drawing-room still.
She forgot to say, “You are late,” she only looked up and smiled.
He had gambled and won, and was flushed : a better and a more lenient
mood had set in with his success.
“Well, old girl ! Still up ?” he said.
“Yes,” she answered.
He went near her, and put his hand on her shoulder. “I was damned
cross,” he cried.
It came too late. She was inclined to be forgiving, because she was
happy, not because her feelings were touched.
“That’s all right,” she said. “I am going to bed, now.”
“How’s the poor wrist ?” He flushed as he spoke, as if with shame.
“Oh ! it’s nothing. You will want a whiskey and soda, you had better
go down and get it. I am too tired to come with you, good-night.”
“Good-night, old girl.”
The next day was a warm June Sunday, and Mrs. Lander expected
Mr. James to call. A Sunday is a dreary day to wait for anyone, the traffic
is less ; her pulse throbbed to the sound of the wheels of every hansom which
turned the corner of the street, while her cheek paled, and her heart sank,
when it rattled past, and away, into the distance. When a cab did stop in
front of the house, she sat immovable, with a nervous dread that the door
might open to admit some other visitor ; and each time, during all the long
tedious hours of the afternoon, her terror was realized.
The child, who had been banished, crept down unheeded, till it broke a
valuable china vase, and Mr. Lander swore at his wife for not looking after it
better. In the evening, her father-in-law and his wife came to dinner, which
they partook of with a Sunday solemnity, not a soothing remedy for over-
strained nerves. They impressed Elsa with the fact that she was a lucky
woman to have married Bertie, and that Bertie’s child was the finest in the
world. By the end of the evening, her cheeks each bore a bright pink spot,
and her lips smiled bitterly. Before she slept, she agreed that if her mirror
reflected truly, it was just as well that Leslie had not come.
“There is always to-morrow,” she thought, and, after a sleepless night,
She rode in the morning, and looked for him in the park ; the afternoon
saw her sitting by the drawing-room window, waiting timidly, with a patience
which was new. She went over in her mind his every action, his every
word. She recalled his smile, till she was happy, and his kisses, till she
Then Bertie came home.
They dined out, and she again found sleep almost impossible. On
Tuesday morning she took the child for a walk, till its chatter drove her mad.
By the afternoon she was frightened and desperate, and she wrote to Leslie.
Her letter was formal and brief, and merely asked when he was coming to see
her again. She sent her maid round to his rooms, with an order to wait for
an answer. After an hour the girl returned. There had been no reply. Elsa
went upstairs and dressed for dinner, numb with pain. That evening at a
theatre she flirted with a fair boy, who thought her the most beautiful woman
in the world, and she talked more than she had ever talked before. But
neither the evening, nor the excitement, caused her to forget for one minute.
On Wednesday Bertie remarked that she was “beastly pale.” She
answered that she hadn’t slept well, and mentally resolved to have an old
prescription made up, which contained chloral. She went for a ride, but
could hardly sit her horse. After lunch she drove down the street where
Leslie lived, and passed his club, with the faint hope of meeting him. That
night she slept
The next day she hoped no more, she settled into a kind of fixed
despair. There was a maid who wanted to leave, and some bills to pay, and
Dickie needed some new nightgowns, and a fresh pair of boots. Bertie told
her to visit his married sister, and she could no longer make any excuse to
herself for spending the whole of the afternoon indoors. She was afraid to
ask the man when she returned if any one had called ; she had inquired each
morning, so absurdly often.
That evening at dinner the butler approached : “I beg your pardon,
Mum,” he said, “but I forgot to tell you that Mr. James called to-day. He
said he was sorry to miss you, and would take his chance of finding you at
home to-morrow afternoon.”
She was dumb, and her throat was dry.
“I want you to come to a cricket match with me to-morrow,” her
husband remarked. “Send old Leslie a line to-night to put him off.”
72 THE SAVOY
“I hate cricket,” she muttered. “There is no game so dull, and no sun
so hot, as when I go to a cricket match.”
“Oh, nonsense ! I want you to come. You’ll like it when you get
“I can’t go. I don’t feel well enough.”
“You aren’t looking your best But you may be all right to-morrow.
I’ll put Leslie off anyhow, he had far better come and dine some evening next
week, when I shall be at home too. Do you see ?”
With a terror, born of her longing to see him, she did as Bertie desired,
and she went to the match.
The chloral gave her rest at night, by day she had none. Saturday was
wet, and Bertie went to the club. She put on a peignoir when the afternoon
came, and was careless of the fact that the drug and the misery had painted
her eyes round with black.
A lady came to call, who asked to see Dickie, and gushed over him ; he
was stuffed with cake, and became sticky and obnoxious. His mother was
conscious that the noise was deafening, and that he was naughtier than
usual, when amid the din and the visitor’s amused laughter a man was
Elsa rose, she went to meet him, and gave him her hand, but she never
knew what he said to her, or what she answered. In a dream she regained
her seat, and became aware that he was taking Dickie by the shoulders, and
turning him out of the room.
“Mamma ! Mamma !” shrieked the child, “I hate Uncle Leslie, I hate
him, do tell him to let me alone.”
The appeal to her, touched her sense of humour, and she began to
laugh. Her friend looked shocked, but that mattered so little after all ; she
laughed as a woman laughs, when she is dazed for the want of the relief of
Outside the door, a small voice was heard plaintively hoping, “that God
would kill Uncle Leslie, and put him in a nasty black box.” Inside, Leslie
was calmly taking a seat, and telling the astonished lady that “His good
friend, Lander, was too lenient with the boy.”
For half an hour she lingered, and casual topics were discussed. Elsa’s
haggard face grew flushed, with a feverish longing to get rid of her visitor.
When she did at last take leave, and Leslie had walked down to the hall with
her, Elsa rose as he entered, and (with an action recalling a scene of the week
before) he closed the door.
“Why didn’t you come to see me ?” She asked.
“I am here to tell you.”
She bit her lips, his voice was calm, although his eyes were troubled.
“Well,” she said, “begin.”
“Won’t you sit down ?”
She laid one hand on the mantelpiece to steady herself, and shook her
“I am going away, Mrs. Lander.”
“Going away ?”
“Yes, running away from danger.”
Her lids drooped, and into her face crept a faint look of contempt.
“Then, you don’t love me,” she said, and pride, which is a weapon
which wounds both the owner and the onlooker, came to stab her into com-
posure. “You don’t love me, and the other night was an acted lie.”
He had had a week in which to rehearse the scene, and he had marvellous
natural self-control, such as the world never teaches.
“No, not a lie. I do love you. But I can’t stay to rob my best friend.
I can’t creep like a coward into his house, to steal his wife’s affection. My
love has not killed my sense of honour.”
“Honour ! The usual argument of men, when they want to silence a
woman. Honour ! Isn’t love stronger than honour ? We women often
sacrifice honour for you men, and never reproach you with it—but,”—she
broke off with a little laugh, “I can’t fight the point. You want to go.”
“I must go.”
“I understand. You dreamed of me, and idealized me when you were ill,
I was a pleasant remembrance in the long hours of convalescence ;— but now
that you are well, you are a man again, and think it more manly to keep your
loyalty to your friend clean, even at the cost of sacrificing me.”
“I cannot sacrifice Bertie. We have been like brothers.”
She moved a step towards him.
“Why don’t you look at me ?”
“Because I am ashamed.”
“Oh, Leslie !” Her voice broke.
“Child,” his own vibrated strangely, “Don’t torture me. Help me to do
what is right.”
“Why didn’t you come. Why did you wait so long ?” she asked.
“Because I was afraid of seeing you. I was a coward.”
“Oh !” The cry was rapturous. “Then you do love me ?”
74 THE SAVOY
He strode towards her, and then stopped short. “I love you. I love
you so much, that I dare not even touch you. Good God ! can’t you help me
to be a man, don’t make a blackguard of me.”
“Oh, Leslie !” And the sweetness, and the simplicity of her manner, as
she said it, thrilled him from head to foot. “If only you would touch me—
only my hand.”
He recoiled at last.
“Oh ! I know, I understand. I should not have said that, but I can’t
pretend. My heart aches so.”
There was a pause, he fancied she was crying, but she lifted her face
after a time, and he was mistaken.
“A woman,” she continued gently, “never likes a man to say all
those good things, which she ought to have thought of, and said herself. I
am a bad woman, I suppose, but I wasn’t bad before, at least, I hope not.
Life isn’t very easy for any of us, is it, Leslie? And we are apt to be
children, and try to snatch at the nice things out of reach.” She paused
again. “I quite see that,—as you have said it,—you must go. Have you
settled when ?”
“To-morrow. I leave for Paris first.”
“Why not to-night ? A week ago—we were so happy. Why not allow
me to imagine you on the sea, when the time comes round again ; where I
cannot touch you, or see you, or even hear you speak ?”
“As you please. I am behaving very badly to you.”
“To me ! So you think so.” She smiled slightly. “If you really
thought so, you would have acted differently. Well, it doesn’t matter. I am
learning that so little matters after all.”
He waited ; and then something in her raised eyes, and piteous mouth
recalled, not the pale Elsa before him, but the Elsa of a week ago, a warm
living creature, responsive to his kisses.
“Elsa, how can I leave you ? I—I am half mad. Let me kiss you
once,—only once again.”
She leant forward, he bent his head, his breath touched her cheek,—then
the door creaked. They drew apart, the kiss unborn, as Bertie entered.
“You here, Leslie ! That’s right Off to Paris for a few days, aren’t
you ? Stay and dine ? Won’t you ? Then come and have a smoke in my
den. I want to talk to you.”
His listeners moved forward.
“Good-bye, Mrs. Lander.”
“Good-bye, Mr. James.”
Their hands touched, he turned and went out. She stood listening to his
retreating footsteps, and the future became a long cold path of pain and
monotony, ready for her to tread alone.
BY THE AUTHOR OF “A MERE MAN.”
THE THREE WITCHES
ALL the moon-shed nights are over,
And the days of gray and dun,
There is neither may nor clover,
And the day and night are one.
Not a hamlet, not a city,
Meets our strained and tearless eyes,
In the plain without a pity,
Where the wan grass droops and dies.
We shall wander through the meaning
Of a day and see no light,
For our lichened arms are leaning
On the ends of endless night.
We the children of Astarte,
Dear abortions of the Moon,
In a gay and silent party
We are riding to you soon :
Burning ramparts, ever burning !
To the flame which never dies,
We are yearning, yearning, yearning,
With our gay and tearless eyes ;
In the plain without a pity
(Not a hamlet, not a city)
Where the wan grass droops and dies.
SOME NOTES ON THE STAINED GLASS WINDOWS AND DECORATIVE PAINTINGS
OF THE CHURCH OF ST. MARTIN’S-
THE Church of St. Martin’s-on-the-Hill, Scarborough, built by
a clever architect, and forming, by its stained glass windows
and the decorative paintings which it contains, a sort of
decorative museum of pre-Raphaelite art, is but little known ;
as may be seen from the almost¹ complete lack of any
descriptions or reproductions of the works of art which it
contains. If we remember that this church, remarkable in itself, contains also
stained glass windows and decorative paintings by Rossetti, Burne Jones,
Ford Madox Brown, William Morris and Webb, we shall wonder that no
artistic English magazine has yet given it any attention, and some interest
may therefore be found in these notes, which are a kind of abridged catalogue
of the works of art decorating St. Martin’s.
Well situated in the new part of the picturesque town of Scarborough, the
church was built from the plans of Mr. Bodley, A.R.A., in 1863, and the
necessary funds for its construction were subscribed by a local committee, at
the head of which was Miss Mary Craven, who appears to be the principal
benefactress of the church. Of early Gothic style as a whole, built of
Whitby stone, the Church of St. Martin’s is composed of an aisled nave, rather
short chancel, north-west tower, and large choir vestry. It is, above all, the
interior of the church which pleases, affording, by its simple and harmonious
¹ There is, indeed, a pamphlet by the Rev.
Newton Mant, but, interesting as it is, it is
written more from a parochial than from an artistic point of view ; only one chapter is
devoted to the church, and that chapter contains numerous errors. The only reproductions
which have appeared are two remarkable woodcuts, executed after the cartoons of the
stained window by Rossetti, the subject of which is the Parable of the Vineyard. These
reproductions figured in one of the first volumes of the “Hobby Horse.”
NOTES ON STAINED GLASS WINDOWS 79
lines and proportions, an impression of happy peace. The red tiles agreeably
replace the stone flags usually seen ; and the unpleasant severity of the hideous
wooden benches, which disfigure many of the Gothic cathedrals in England,
has been replaced by chairs which fill the church without interfering with the
development of its lines. The church is well-lighted, and when a ray of sun-
shine glances throngh one of the painted windows, it becomes animated with
life, the whiteness of the stone takes a warmer glow, the stained glass enshrined
in the Gothic windows becomes resplendent, and the reflection of its bright but
velvety colouring flickers on walls and columns, and clothes in rainbow lines
the pure whiteness of the Whitby stone.
Besides an elegant choir-screen and a brass lectern, both designed by the
architects of the church, Messrs. Bodley and Garner, and a very rich organ, the
panels of which are decorated with graceful figures of angels by Mr. Spencer
Stanhope, the church of St. Martin’s possesses a small pulpit in wood. This
pulpit, built against the choir screen, is charming and simple ; it has three
sides, each side being divided into distinct panels, superposed. The two
panels to the left were painted by Rossetti, and represent the Annunciation.
The original imagination of the painter of the “Beata Beatrix” and of
“Dante’s Dream” is revealed by the poetical conception and arrangement of
the subject, into which he had already found means of infusing fresh life and
youthfulness in his “Ecce Ancilla Domini” of the National Gallery. This
picture, one of Rossetti’s most charming pictures, does not in fact resemble
any previous Annunciation. The Angel has no wings, the Virgin has not her
arms crossed on her bosom, the body humbly bent forward, as is usually
depicted, and yet there is no need of the inscription to assure us that it is the
Annunciation which the picture represents, but an Annunciation conceived after
a manner entirely new and thoroughly characteristic of the temperament of
Rossetti. He was not content,however, with giving simply one new arrangement
of a subject celebrated by all the great Italian painters, he gives us yet another
in these two panels of the pulpit of Scarborough, here reproduced. It must be
admitted that this rendering more closely resembles the traditional rendering of
the subject ; but it was not possible for Rossetti to depict even a traditional sub-
vject without giving at least some detail entirely characteristic of his personality,
and this we see in these panels. They show, as will be seen, a high trellised
hedge, set with red roses and shining lilies ; at the foot of the hedge the Virgin
is seated, a book of prayers on her knees, and the angel appears above her, his
brown wings still half open, leaning upon the flowery trellis-work ; he speaks
to her, and bends towards her the tallest of the open lilies. She hears, rather
80 THE SAVOY
than sees him, for she does not dare raise her eyes to him ; but with eyes lost
in an ecstasy, with hands outspread, she seems to say Fiat mihi secundum
This attitude of the Virgin is natural and charming, but what enchants
me most in the composition of these panels is the exquisite gesture of the
Angel bending towards the Virgin the tallest of the lilies. This gesture, so
full of poetic meaning, is thoroughly new, and belongs to Rossetti. Never,
before him, has the supreme purity of the Virgin been indicated by anything
so admirable, as this choice of the tall flowering lily.
It is therefore the composition I like above all, in these two panels of the
Annunciation, but their colouring also is remarkable ; the flowering hedge seems
to embalm the air, so fresh does it appear, the brown wings of the Angel
spread soft and velvety against the golden sky, the Virgin’s dress is grey, her
mantle blue, and the hair of both Virgin and Angel is red, of that rich and
magnificent red that Rossetti alone has been able to render after the great
Although less beautiful than those of Rossetti, the paintings which deco-
rate the other sides of the pulpit are none the less worthy of praise. They
were painted by Mr. Campfield after the designs of the late Ford Madox
Brown, and of Mr. William Morris, and they represent, on the side opposite
the Annunciation, decorative subjects of birds and lilies, and on the principal
side, in superposed panels, the Doctors of the Church and the Four Evangelists.
The Evangelists, and especially the St. John, are remarkable ; these eight
panels are of a warm and rich colouring ; they complete harmoniously the
decoration of the pulpit, and contribute to make it one of the most precious
ornaments of the church.
But if I admire the pulpit, and above all the delightful Annunciation
which decorates it, I admire even more the splendid stained glass windows,
which Rossetti designed for the East and West of St Martin’s. It is these
windows, and those of Ford Madox Brown, Burne Jones, and Morris, which
constitute the principal wealth of the church. It is impossible to forget either
their characteristic design or their magnificent and brilliant colouring. Taking
them as a whole they constitute one of the best examples of this renaissance
of an art which appeared to have been lost since the sixteenth century, and
which Madox Brown and Rossetti first, Burne Jones and Morris afterwards,
have been able to animate with fresh life, and to render one of the most
brilliant and flourishing decorative arts in England. Before examining them
in detail I should like to reproduce here a few lines which Madox Brown wrote
NOTES ON STAINED GLASS WINDOWS 83
in 1865, in the very interesting catalogue of his work entitled, “Cartoons for
Stained Glass.” These few lines contain the general rules followed by the
pre-Raphaelite painters in the design and execution of their stained glass
windows, and as the catalogue of the Exhibition of 1865 has become very rare,
these lines will perhaps prove interesting. Madox Brown speaks there of the
series of cartoons for stained glass, the subject of which was “The Life and
Death of St. Oswald,” which are now to be seen in the South Kensington
Museum. And this is what he says :
“The following nineteen cartoons have been executed for the firm of
Messrs. Morris, Marshall, Faulkner and Co., for stained glass. With its
heavy lead lines surrounding every part (and no stained glass can be rational
and good art without strong lead lines), stained glass does not admit of refined
drawing ; or else it is thrown away upon it. What it does admit of, and what
above all things it imperatively requires, is fine colour : and what it can admit
of, and does very much require also, is invention, expression, and good dramatic
action. For this reason work by the greatest historical artists is not thrown
away upon stained glass windows, because though high finish of execution is
superfluous, and against the spirit of this beautiful decorative art, yet, as
expression and action can be conveyed in a few strokes equally as in the most
elaborate art, on this side therefore stained glass rises to the epic height. So
in medals, it is well known grandeur of style arises out of the very minuteness
of the work, which admits of that and little else. The cartoons of this firm
are never coloured, that task devolving on Mr. Morris, the manager, who makes
his colour (by selecting the glass) out of the very manufacture of the article.
The revival of the mediæval art of stained glass dates back now some twenty
years in the earliest established firms ; nevertheless, with the public it is still
little understood ; a general impression prevails that bright colouring is the
one thing desirable, along with the notion that the brightest colours are the
most costly. In an age that has become disused to colour, the irritation pro-
duced on the retina by the discordance of bright colour, is taken as an evidence
of the so coveted brightness itself. The result of this is, that the manufacturers,
goaded on by their clients, and the ‘fatal facility’ of the material (for all
coloured glass is bright) produce too frequently kaleidoscopic effects of the
most painful description.”
These effects, which Madox Brown had reason to fight against, and which
it may not be useless to mention here that they may be definitely abolished,
are not, happily, those which he has produced in the two windows at Scar-
borough, the subjects of which are taken from the legend of the life of St.
84 THE SAVOY
Martin, but rather the three qualities he recommends as a principle, “invention,
expression, and good dramatic action.” All these are to be found, with the
somewhat strange and humorous characterization which Ford Madox Brown
put into all his designs. The first window represents the episode of the
“Golden Legend,” in which St. Martin cuts his cloak in two, to give half to the
beggar. Half turning on his horse, bearded, helmeted, and covered with a
coat of mail, the Saint is here still only the brave and courageous soldier of the
Emperors Constantine and Julian ; the cloak which he cuts with his sword is
brilliant and magnificent, strewn with rings and stars of gold, and forms a
violent contrast to the poverty of the lame beggar, nearly naked, as the legend
says, who, leaning on his crutches, stupefied but delighted, looks at the Saint
who is despoiling himself; in the background, a uniform blue sky, green pines
clearly defined, and two soldiers talking, who appear to be ridiculing the foolish
pity of the good Saint. The neighbouring window is not less attractively com-
posed. Kneeling in a green field studded with flowers, the Saint, who wears
on one shoulder the half of his glorious mantle, sees appearing above him the
Saviour, seated on a rainbow, and surrounded by angels, holding spread out in
front of him the other half of the cloak with which the Saint had unconsciously
clothed him. Of a firm and energetic design, full of character and spirit, these
two windows, charming by the unexpected but artistic strangeness of their
composition, as much as by their good colouring, leave only one regret, that
of not seeing other more important windows by Madox Brown in the same
The interest of the notes by Madox Brown brought me quite naturally to
search, and find, in this window, the qualities which he considered as being
essential to good stained glass. I ought, instead of beginning with him, and
with this detailed examination of the windows of St. Martin, to have first
indicated the position of the different windows in the church, giving a general
idea as to their arrangement. Here, then, is how they are placed, following
exactly the order in which they occur. West end of St. Martin’s : two Gothic
windows, Adam and Eve, by Rossetti, and above them in a rose window
surrounded by nine smaller ones, “The “Annunciation” and “Angels playing
Musical Instruments,” by Burne-Jones. North side aisle : stained glass windows
by Campfield and Marshall, representing “Characters of the Old Testament.”
Choir : in a Gothic window of three compartments, above the altar, “The
Parable of the Vineyard ;” in the centre “The Crucifixion” by Rossetti ; in the
four circular side windows “The Emblems of the Evangelists,” by Aston
Webb. South side aisle : four windows representing “Saints of the New
NOTES ON STAINED GLASS WINDOWS 85
Testament and of the Catholic Church” by Campfield and Marshall, “Saint
Dorothy” by Burne Jones, and “Saint Martin” by Ford Madox Brown.
The two west stained glass windows, by Rossetti, representing Adam
and Eve, are in my opinion the most beautiful and impressive windows in the
church. An intense life animates them, the thought of this first existence,
happy, free, without care, or possible remorse, has made Rossetti depict these
two bodies radiant with strength and health. Unlike the beings consumed
with love and passion who dwelt habitually in his thoughts, these are con-
sumed and tormented by no passion, they are content to live ; and the power
with which this life, free from care, is rendered, is almost disconcerting. One
is struck by the ingenious arrangement of the branches and leaves by which
Rossetti veils the nudity of the bodies of Adam and Eve, for the rosy colours
of the flesh look brighter in the violent contrast of the large leaves of a sombre
green, and again by contrast with the uniform blue of the sky seen behind
them ; and these ingenious contrasts give to these two nude bodies a vividness
of life which is rendered by no other stained glass window which I have ever
seen. These two resplendent bodies of Adam and Eve animate the church,
and seem to give it some of their own life. The composition is no less
original and new in its details than in the beauty of its colouring. Adam is
depicted standing, picturesquely leaning on a branch of a tree with large
sombre leaves, a fig-tree I think ; with the tip of his foot he amuses himself
by tickling a small bear curled up at his feet, the blue sky is seen behind him,
and sunflowers, flowering at the end of their long stems, expand at his right
hand ; in the branches of the tree above him a curious and familiar squirrel
watches him. Standing also, Eve has stopped in the middle of a field richly
studded with small flowers and red tulips ; of the same fairness as the hair
and beard of Adam, her unbound hair falls in an opulent stream over her
shoulders. In her arms she holds, tenderly pressed to her bosom, a white
dove, and in the sombre tree above, his eyes fixed and shining, an owl surveys
her. The predominant colours of this admirable window are, flesh colour,
dark green, and light gold. Above the windows of Adam and Eve “The
Annunciation” of Burne Jones, which decorates the large rose window, and
the “Angels playing Musical Instruments” of the nine smaller roses which
surround it, form with the windows of Rossetti a remarkable and charming
contrast. In the subject he here depicts, Burne Jones has adopted the con-
ventional manner, dear to Fillippo Lippi and to the painters of his school.
The Virgin is kneeling in the middle of a diapered field, which is surrounded
by a well-cut hedge, bedecked with roses ; the Angel has just alighted, and,
86 THE SAVOY
surprised and enraptured, in a delicious gesture of astonishment, the Virgin
joins her hands, hardly able to believe the “good tidings.” That which
makes the charm of this window, and of the nine others surrounding it, is the
virginal grace and the exquisite purity of its conception, and of its design and
colour. White, azure blue, and ruby are the colours principally and almost
exclusively used ; they blend admirably with the white stone walls, and indeed
it seems impossible to find anything more fitted to harmonize in the decoration
of churches than the white Whitby stone, and the graceful and spiritual figures
of Burne Jones and Morris. The windows of Adam and Eve give an
impression of life, strength, and luxuriant health, those of the Annunciation
and the Angels an impression of grace and purity.
The first impression given by the window of the “Parable of the Vine-
yard,” which lights the choir, is an impression of colour, dazzling and mag-
nificent, velvety and harmonious, resembling the Flemish stained glass windows
decorating the Gothic cathedrals. From the point of view of stained glass,
this is the one I consider to be the most perfect. It has all the qualities
which we have seen were considered essential by Madox Brown, the “beauty
of colour, inventive expression and good dramatic action,” and all these
qualities are united in a high degree of perfection. In fact, when we approach
this window and examine it in detail, we perceive that it is no less remarkable
for its ingenious and original composition than for the sensation of opulent
colour which it at first gave us. This astonishing Rossetti was made to
succeed, and to show himself an accomplished master in everything which he
undertook. He appears here to have found the secret of composition of the
old Gothic masters, and the arrangement of his subjects is as clever and
complicated, the drawing as powerful and precise, as characteristic and appro-
priate to stained glass as that of his great predecessors. For those who look
at the great stained window of the choir of St. Martin’s, one subject stands
out before all the others, “The Crucifixion,” which occupies the centre of the
window, and which Rossetti has intentionally made larger and more apparent
than the subjects of the Parable of the Vineyard, because it resumes them, and
also because it is the one which ought the most vividly to impress the faithful.
But little by little around the central figure the different episodes of the
parable stand out in the gorgeous colours with which they are clothed, and we
find that conception and arrangement of the figures peculiar to Rossetti, as
the different scenes of the parable succeed one another in the seven compart-
ments of the window. There is first the planting of the vine, then the letting
it out to husbandmen, then the stoning of the servants sent to receive the
NOTES ON STAINED GLASS WINDOWS 87
first fruits, the feast of the vintage, with its delightful figure of the young
woman in a white dress dancing in the midst of the husbandmen, and again
the arrival of the heir, young and unarmed, in their midst, while they are
already plotting against his life, and then their judgment and condemnation
by the master, weary of their ingratitude. Magnificent and striking in itself,
the parable of St. Matthew could not be embellished, but it could be pre-
sented under a plastic form which, while bringing out certain details, would
engrave it more profoundly on the memory ; and it is this which has been
done by Rossetti. Sumptuous in colour, ingenious in composition, the window
of the Parable appears to be of a design more entirely and peculiarly Rossetti’s
than that of Adam and Eve, of which certain details seem to show the
influence of Madox Brown ; this statement, of which the only object is to be
exact, takes, however, absolutely nothing from my admiration of the stained
glass window of Adam and Eve. Rossetti, who, as is well known, was during
some time the pupil of Madox Brown, was occasionally influenced by the
painter of the frescoes of the Town Hall at Manchester. He on his side
underwent, without suspecting it, the influence of the painter poet, who was
more his friend than his pupil. This mutual influence can only be for good
when brought to bear upon minds so richly endowed as were those of Madox
Brown and Rossetti, and the works of both are there to testify to the fact.
Perfect from every point of view, this interpretation of the Parable of the
Vineyard by Rossetti does not alone embellish the choir of St. Martin’s. Four
circular windows adorned with stained glass by Aston Webb decorate the side
walls. The subjects represented are “The Emblems of the Four Evangelists,”
and by the vigour of their drawing, as well as by the beauty of their colour,
they are worthy of being mentioned at the same time as those of Madox Brown.
Burne Jones, and Morris. In indicating the positions of the windows in the
church, I have pointed out in the windows of the side aisles those of Madox
Brown, Burne Jones, Campfield, and Marshall, and have described the St.
Martin of Madox Brown. The windows of Campfield and Marshall, visibly
inspired by the works of Burne Jones and Rossetti, are not unpleasant, but
are only really valuable for the character of ensemble which they help to give
to the decoration of the church.
There remains, therefore, now only the window attributed to Burne
Jones. It represents “St. Dorothy” and “St. Theophilus” separated by an
angel carrying in a basket the “three apples,” as the “Golden Legend “
describes it. We find this window mentioned by Mr. Malcolm Bell in the very
complete catalogues he has drawn up of the works of Burne Jones. It is there
88 THE SAVOY
stated to have been done in 1873, and the catalogue also mentions an Aaron,
Daniel, and Stephen, which is found in the north side aisle of St. Martin’s. For
my part I do not consider that an exaggerated importance ought to be
attached to these windows simply from the fact that they are ascribed to
Burne-Jones. I do not believe that they were done by him exclusively, as
was, for example, the ” Annunciation,” but, most probably, drawings of his
were enlarged by Mr. Campfield for the windows at Scarborough, and in
copying them, though he has not taken away all their grace and artistic
character, he has nevertheless lost much. This is why, although acknow-
ledging their graceful and decorative character, I cannot place them in the
same rank as the others I have mentioned. To terminate this rapid
examination of the stained glass windows of St. Martin’s, I wish to notice,
from among the row of south windows above the door of entrance, one
representing St. John the Baptist, designed and carried out by Mr. William
Morris. It is, above all, remarkable for the richness of its colour, and in this
connection I think it well to call to mind that the windows of Madox Brown,
Rossetti, Webb, and Burne-Jones, of which I have spoken, were all carried out
by Mr. Morris, who, at the great exhibition of 1862, gained a medal for the
execution of the “Parable of the Vineyard.”¹
It will be seen that the artistic interest of the church of St. Martin’s
consists in this, that it constitutes, not merely a handsome church, but a sort
of pre-Raphaelite museum. And the collection of stained glass windows
which it possesses is especially precious, for when, in a few years, a real pre-
Raphaelite museum is originated at the National Gallery, when there will be
(as there is now a Turner room) a Rossetti room, and in the adjoining rooms
are collected the finest pictures of Ford Madox Brown, Watts, Holman Hunt,
¹ In his pamphlet on St. Martin’s the Rev.
Newton Mant mentions some paintings
which are harmless and insignificant in themselves, and of which I should not speak were
it not that he attributes them by mistake to Burne Jones and Morris. Too many indifferent
works will probably be generously attributed to these painters in the future for me to think
it unnecessary to lighten their reputation at least of these works with which they have no
connection. Neither Burne Jones nor William Morris has ever worked at Scarborough ;
they could not therefore have painted either the Adoration of the Magi or the Angels which
decorate the walls above the altar, and which Mr. Mant ascribes to them. This decoration
was painted originally by Mr. Campfield, a decorative painter from the firm of Mr. Morris.
That Mr. Campfield used at this period drawings by Burne Jones from which to paint
in distemper is possible, but in any case the original decoration fell into a ruinous
state, and in 1889 this part of the church was entirely repainted by a Mr. Farren, a
painter of Scarborough, assisted by his sons and daughters. Let it here be fully under-
stood that these paintings of the East end have nothing to do with Sir Edward Burne Jones
or Mr. Morris.
NOTES ON STAINED GLASS WINDOWS 89
and Burne Jones ; if it is acknowledged, then, that these artists have formed the
most remarkable school of painting of this century, it will be regretted at the
same time that we are unable to see represented in a museum certain produc-
tions connected with the branches of art which this school has rendered particu-
larly flourishing. After their pictures, it is in stained glass windows that the
pre-Raphaelite painters have best succeeded. Rossetti, Madox Brown, Burne
Jones, and Morris have renewed and revived the art which appeared for a long
time to be lost. When, later on, their works become classic, and are studied,
it will be in the churches that we shall need to seek them. Then churches
like St. Martin’s will be of a special interest on account of the ensemble of
works which it contains. However, if, as I have shown, this collection of
works at St. Martin’s is remarkable, it is not, from a pre-Raphaelite point of
view, either complete or perfect ; the two rows of clerestory windows, with the
exception of one by Mr. Morris, have nothing in common with this school, nor,
as we have seen, have the decorative paintings of the choir benches ; while no
work represents at St. Martin’s three important members of the pre-Raphaelite
school, Watts, Millais, and Hunt. It is true that I am unaware if they have
done painted windows, but if it was desired, as I should imagine, to represent
a pre-Raphaelite ensemble, they might have been asked to paint, in default
of stained windows, votive pictures or decorative paintings. In thinking what
might have been the church of Scarborough if these faults and failings
which I point out had been avoided, I thought, while writing these lines, that
it might still be possible to build a church and to render it unique in artistic
interest by decorating it with a collection, complete this time, of pre-
Raphaelite pictures and stained glass windows; and surely this idea which
comes to me of a pre-Raphaelite church is not, when one thinks of it, either
fantastical or impossible to realize. There is in England a man whom all
artists reverence for the splendid architectural work he has done. Admirer
and friend of Rossetti, intimately acquainted with all the artists of the pre-
Raphaelite school, Mr. Philip Webb seems the one designated to construct
such a church, which, while being all that is required for public worship, would
yet present under the most favourable light the stained glass windows and the
religious paintings of the pre-Raphaelite school. The windows of Rossetti
which can be admired at Scarborough, and which could be reproduced in this
ideal church, are not the only ones he designed ; there is, notably, the
magnificent series of cartoons illustrating the Legend of St. George, which is
possessed by Mr. Fairfax Murray, and which is one of the most finished works
of Rossetti in this style of decorative painting. By Ford Madox Brown there
90 THE SAVOY
is the characteristic series of cartoons illustrating the life and death of St.
Oswald, which is now exhibited in the collection of water-colours and drawings
at the South Kensington Museum. Burne Jones and Morris have done (a
tremendous thing when one thinks of the enormous work they have pro-
duced in other branches of art !) more than five hundred stained glass
windows ; there is, therefore, in that which concerns them, but l’embarras du
choix, and this difficulty even need not exist, for it is well known that
Burne Jones and Morris consider as their best work in glass the “Adoration
of the Shepherds” and “The Crucifixion,” which decorate the church of
St. Philip at Birmingham. To the names of Rossetti, Madox Brown, Burne
Jones, and Morris, I would add the less known name of Mr. Selwyn Image,
who, by the poetic and religious character of his stained glass windows, and
notably those which he has designed for the church of St. Luke’s at Camber-
well, has revealed himself in this style of art a master as accomplished as any
of his predecessors ; and the interest of such a church would be complete, and
as I previously said, unique, if to these windows were added decorative and
votive paintings by Rossetti, Madox Brown, Watts, Millais, Holman Hunt,
and Burne Jones.
Why should this project be but the dream of an enthusiastic poet? It is
not money that is wanting in England ; I have proved that it is not the
materials, nor yet the men ; it is then nothing but the goodwill which is required,
and as this goodwill would have for object the raising of a useful and durable
monument, witnessing to the height to which English art has risen in this
century, I do not despair of seeing this idea one day realized by some
generous men justly proud of an art which has so magnificently flourished in
OLIVIER GEORGES DESTRÉE.
FROM A CASTLE IN IRELAND
IN the mysterious castle, lost among trees that start up
suddenly around it, out of a land of green meadows and
gray stones, where I have been so delightfully living through
the difficult month of August, London, and the currencies of
literature, and the duties of an editor, seem scarcely appre-
ciable ; too far away on the other side of this mountainous
land inclosing one within the circle of its own magic. It is a castle of dreams,
where, in the morning, I climb the winding staircase in the tower, creep
through the secret passage, and find myself in the vast deserted room above
the chapel, which is my retiring-room for meditation ; or, following the wind-
ing staircase, come out on the battlements, where I can look widely across
Galway, to the hills. In the evening my host plays Vittoria and Palestrina
on the organ, in the half darkness of the hall, and I wander between the
pillars of black marble, hearing the many voices rising into the dome : Vittoria,
the many lamentable human voices, crying on the sins of the world, the
vanity of pleasant sins ; Palestrina, an exultation and a triumph, in which the
many voices of white souls go up ardently into heaven. In the afternoon we
drive through a strange land, which has the desolation of ancient and dwindling
things ; a gray land, into which human life comes rarely, and with a certain
primitive savagery. As we drive seawards, the stone walls closing in the
woods dwindle into low, roughly heaped hedges of unmortared stones, over
which only an occasional cluster of trees lifts itself; and the trees strain wildly
in the air, writhing away from the side of the sea, where the winds from
the Atlantic have blown upon them and transfixed them in an eternity
of flight from an eternal flagellation. As far as one can see, as far as the
blue, barren mountains which rise up against the horizon, there are these end-
less tracts of harsh meadow-land, marked into squares by the stone hedges,
and themselves heaped with rocks and stones, lying about like some gray
fungous growth. Not a sign of human life is to be seen ; at long intervals we
94 THE SAVOY
pass a cabin, white-washed, thatched roughly, with stopped-up windows, and a
half-closed door, from behind which a gray-haired old woman will gaze at you
with her steady, melancholy eyes. A few peasants pass on the road, moving
sombrely, without speaking ; the men, for the most part, touch their hats, with-
out change of expression ; the women, drawing their shawls about their faces,
merely look at you, with a slow, scrutinizing air, more indifferent than curious.
The women walk bare-footed, and with the admirable grace and straightness
of all who go with bare feet. I remember, in the curve of a rocky field, some
little way in from the road, seeing a young woman, wearing a blue bodice, a
red petticoat, and a gray shawl, carrying a tin pail on her head, with that
straight, flexible movement of the body, that slow and formal grace, of
Eastern women who have carried pitchers from the well. Occasionally a
fierce old man on a horse, wearing the old costume, that odd, precise, kind of
dress-coat, passes you with a surly scowl ; or a company of tinkers (the Irish
gipsies, one might call them) trail past, huddled like crouching beasts on their
little, rough, open carts, driving a herd of donkeys before them. As we get
nearer the village by the sea, the cabins become larger, and more frequent; and
just before reaching it, we pass a ruined castle, impregnably built on a green
mound, looking over the water to the quay, where the thin black masts of a few
vessels rise motionless against the little white-washed houses. The road goes
down a steep hill, and turns sharply, in the midst of the gray village, with its
thatched and ragged roofs. The doors all stand open, the upper windows are
drawn half down, and from some of them I see a dishevelled dark head, the
hair and eyes of a gipsy (one could well have fancied), looking down on the
road and the passers by. As the road rises again, we see the blue mountains,
coming nearer to us, and the place where, one knows, is Galway Bay, lying too
low for any flash of the waters. Now we are quite near the sea, and in front
of the house we are to visit (you will hear all about it in M. Bourget’s next
nouvelle) a brown mass of colour comes suddenly into the dull green and gray
of the fields, and one smells the seaweed lying there in the pools.
I find all this bareness, grayness, monotony, solitude, at once primitive and
fantastical, curiously attractive ; giving just the same kind of relief from the fat,
luxurious English landscape that these gaunt, nervous, long-chinned peasants
give from the red and rolling sleepiness of the English villager. And there is
a quite national vivacity and variety of mood in the skies here, in the restless
atmosphere, the humorous exaggerations of the sun and rain. To-day is a
typical Irish day, soft, warm, gray, with intervals of rain and fine weather ; I
can see a sort of soft mist of rain, blown loosely about between the trees of the
A CAUSERIE 95
park, the clouds an almost luminous gray, the sun shining through them ; at
their darkest, scarcely darker than the Irish stone of which the castle is built.
Driving, the other day, we passed a large pool among the rocks, in the midst
of those meadows flowering with stones ; the sky was black with the rain that
was falling upon the hills, and the afternoon sun shone against the deep black-
ness of the sky and the shadowed blackness of the water. I have never seen
such coloured darkness as this water ; green passing into slate, slate into
purple, purple into dead black. And it was all luminous, floating there in the
harbour of the grass like a tideless sea. Then there is the infinite variety of
the mountains, sloping in uneven lines around almost the whole horizon. They
are as variable as the clouds, and, while you look at them, have changed from
a purple darkness to a luminous and tender green, and then into a lifeless
gray ; and seem to float towards you and drift away from you, like the
Among these solid and shifting things, in this castle which is at once so
ancient a reality and so essential a dream, I feel myself to be in some danger
of loosening the tightness of my hold upon external things, of foregoing many
delectable pleasures, of forgetting many things that I have passionately learnt
in cities. If I lived here too long I should forget that I am a Londoner and
remember that I am a Cornishman. And that would so sadly embarrass my
good friends of the Celtic Renaissance ! No, decidedly I have no part among
those remote idealists : I must come back to London ; for I have perceived
the insidious danger of idealism ever since I came into these ascetic regions.
The Savoy, vol. 6 October 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/savoyv6_all/