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THE SAVOY

AN ILLUSTRATED MONTHLY

NO. 8

LITERARY CONTENTS

BY

ARTHUR SYMONS

                                                                                                                      PAGE

MUNDI VICTIMA.   A Poem       .        .       .        .       .        .       .        .        7
WALTER PATER:  SOME CHARACTERISTICS   An Essay       .       .        .      33
THE CHILDHOOD OF LUCY NEWCOME.    A Story     .       .        .        .        51
HÉRIODIADE.       A Translation into English Verse from Stéphane Mallarméʼs
        Poem
       .        .        .       .        .       .        .       .        .       .        .        67
THE ISLES OF ARAN.   An Essay         .        .       .        .       .        .      .        73
A LITERARY CAUSERIE: By Way of Epilogue         .        .       .        .       .         91

ART CONTENTS

BY

AUBREY BEARDSLEY

                                                                                                                      PAGE

COVER       .       .       .       .        .       .        .        .       .        .        .       .       1
TITLE PAGE       .        .       .        .       .        .       .        .       .        .       .       5
A RÉPÉTITION OF TRISTAN AND ISOLDE.       .        .       .        .       .        11
DON JUAN, SGANARELLE, AND THE BEGGAR.   From Molière’s
        “Don Juan”
       .        .       .        .       .        .       .        .       .        .         29
MRS. PINCHWIFE.   From Wycherley’s “Country Wife”       .        .       .           31
FRONTISPIECE to “The Comedy of the Rhinegold”         .       .        .       .        43
   FLOSSHILDE        .        .        .        .        .       .        .       .        .       .       45
   ALBERICH         .        .         .       .        .       .        .       .         .        .        47
   ERDA         .        .        .       .        .       .        .       .        .       .         .        49
FELIX MENDELSSOHN BARTHOLDY       .        .        .        .        .       .       63
CARL MARIA VON WEBER       .        .        .        .        .       .        .       .      65
COUNT VALMONT   From “Les Liaisons Dangereuses”       .         .        .         71
ET IN ARCADIA EGO       .        .       .        .       .        .       .        .       .        89
COVER DESIGN (reduced) to “A Book of Fifty Drawings by Aubrey Beardsley”    96

A Répétition of “Tristan and Isolde”

MUNDI VICTIMA

Page with ornament
The Database of Ornament

                                                       I
                        HENCEFORTH for each of us remains the world.
                        The gates have closed behind us, we are hurled
                        From the fixed paradise of our content
                        Into an outer world of banishment,
                        And, in this anger of the garden’s Lord,
                        His serene angel with the fiery sword
                        Has yet more pitilessly cast us forth,
                        You by the gate that looks upon the North
                        And I by the gate looking on the South.
                        And so the lamentations of your mouth
                        I shall not hear, nor tears for this distress
                        Water my hours’ unwatered barrenness.
                        For love is ended, love that was to be
                        Endless ; nay, love endures perpetually,
                        But I shall never kiss your lips again,
                        Nor hold your hand, nor feel your arms enchain
                        Body and soul in one extreme embrace,
                        Nor find again the kingdom of your face.
                        For I have lost you, you return no more.
                        And I have lost in you the years before
                        You gathered all my years within the glance
                        Of your supreme and triumphing countenance.
                        And all the years whose desultory flame
                        Shall yet smoke flickeringly after them.
                        Passion has burnt itself clean out for you.
                        I go back empty-hearted, to renew
                        The unprofitable, the vain following
                        Of every vain, unprofitable thing ;
                        You, with all seemly wishes satisfied,
                        Go forth to be the most unhappy bride

14                              THE SAVOY

                        The sun shall shine upon in rich men’s halls.
                        Hearken, I hear a voice, a voice that calls ;
                        What shall remain for him ? sadly it cries :
                        Desolate years, eternal memories.
                        And what for her ? it cries, it cries with tears :
                        Eternal memories, desolate years.

                                                       II
                        If the astrologers speak truth, who tell
                        That the stars make for us our heaven and hell,
                        My passionate and perverse horoscope,
                        Where the intellectual forces may not cope
                        With Scorpio, Herschel, Venus, and the Moon,
                        Marked in my life that love in me should swoon
                        Into the arms of strange affinities.
                        It was myself looked at me with your eyes,
                        Where Venus and the Moon with Herschel strove
                        In some ambiguous paradox of love.
                        When first I touched your hand I felt the thrill
                        Knit heart to heart, and at the touch your will
                        Became as my will, and my will became
                        As your will, and an unappeasable flame
                        Was lighted when your lips and mine first met
                        In that long kiss my lips shall not forget
                        When I am aged with eternity.
                        I knew that my desire had come to me,
                        And that the world was ended and begun,
                        And I should never more beneath the sun
                        Go lightly forth on any wayfaring.
                        I knew that I should suffer for this thing,
                        For this completion of the impossible,
                        This mystical marriage of heaven and hell,
                        With anguish and with extreme agony,
                        Knowing that my desire had come to me.

                         MUNDI VICTIMA                                    15

                                                      III
                        I gaze upon your portrait in my hand.
                        And slowly, in a dream, I see you stand
                        Silent before me, with your pressing gaze
                        Of enigmatic calm, and all your face
                        Smiling with that ironical repose
                        Which is the weariness of one who knows.
                        Dare I divine, then, what your visage dreams,
                        So troubled and so strangely calm it seems ?
                        Consuming eyes consenting to confess
                        The extreme ardour of their heaviness,
                        The lassitude of passionate desires
                        Denied, pale smoke of unaccomplished fires ;
                        Ah ! in those shell-curved, purple eyelids bent
                        Towards some most dolorous accomplishment,
                        And in the painful patience of the mouth,
                        (A sundered fruit that waits, in a great drouth,
                        One draught of living water from the skies)
                        And in the carnal mystery of the eyes,
                        And in the burning pallor of the cheeks :
                        Voice of the Flesh ! this is the voice that speaks,
                        In agony of spirit, or in grief
                        Because desire dare not desire relief.

                                                      IV
                        I have known you, I have loved you, I have lost.
                        Here in one woman I have found the host
                        Of women, and the woman of all these
                        Who by her strangeness had the power to please
                        The strangeness of my difficult desires ;
                        And here the only love that never tires
                        Even with the monotony of love.
                        It was your strangeness I was amorous of,
                        Mystery of variety, that, being known, yet does
                        Leave you still infinitely various,

16                              THE SAVOY

                        And leave me thirsting still, still wondering
                        At your unknowable and disquieting
                        Certainty of a fixed uncertainty.
                        And thus I knew that you were made for me,
                        For I have always hated to be sure,
                        And there is nothing I could less endure
                        Than a fond woman whom I understood.
                        I never understood you : mood by mood
                        I watched you through your changes manifold,
                        As the star-gazing shepherd from his fold
                        Watches the myriad changes of the moon.
                        Is not love’s mystery the supreme boon ?
                        Ah rare, scarce hoped-for, longed-for, such a goal
                        As this most secret and alluring soul !
                        Your soul I never knew, I guessed at it,
                        A dim abode of what indefinite
                        And of what poisonous possibilities !
                        Your soul has been a terror to mine eyes,
                        Even as my own soul haunts me, night and day,
                        With voices that I cannot drive away,
                        And visions that I scarce can see and live.
                        And you, from your own soul a fugitive,
                        Have you not fled, did not your pride disown
                        The coming of a soul so like your own,
                        Eyes that you fancied read you, yet but drew
                        Unknown affinities, yourself from you,
                        And hands that held your destiny, because
                        The power that held you in them, yours it was ?
                        Did you not hate me, did you not in vain
                        Avoid me and repel me and refrain ?
                        Was not our love fatal to you and me,
                        The rapture of a tragic ecstasy
                        Between disaster and disaster, given
                        A moment’s space, to be a hell in heaven ?
                        Love, being love indeed, could be no less,
                        For us, than an immortal bitterness,
                        A blindness and a madness, and the wave
                        Of a great sea that breaks and is a grave.

                         MUNDI VICTIMA                                    17

                        Ah, more to us than many prosperous years,
                        So brief a rapture and so many tears ;
                        To have won, amid the tumults round about,
                        The shade of a great silence from the shout
                        Of the world’s battles and the idle cry
                        Of those vain faiths for which men live and die !
                        And have we not tasted the very peace
                        So passionate an escape must needs release,
                        Being from the world so strangely set apart,
                        The inmost peace that is the whirlpool’s heart ?

                                                      V

                        Let me remember when you loved me best.
                        When the intolerable rage possessed
                        The spirit of your senses, and the breath
                        As of the rushing of the winds of death
                        Rapt you from earth, and in a fiery trance
                        Exalted your transfigured countenance
                        And bade your heart be rapturously still ?
                        Or in the holy silence of that thrill
                        Which stirs the little heart of grass, and swings
                        The worlds upon their windy chariotings ?
                        Or in the haunted trouble of those deep
                        Enchantments of your visionary sleep,
                        Ardent with dreams, and the delicious strife
                        Of phantoms passionate with waking life ?
                        Or when, as a fond mother o’er her child,
                        You bent above me, and the mother smiled
                        Upon the man re-born to be her own,
                        Flesh of her very flesh, bone of her bone ?
                        Of all your kisses which supremest one
                        Out of the immeasurable million ?
                        Or which denied, as on a certain day
                        You tremulously turned your lips away,
                        And I, who wronged you, thinking you unkind,
                        Found it love’s penance for a troubled mind,
                        Grieved it had done some little wrong to love ?

18                              THE SAVOY

                        Out of your silences which most did move
                        The eternal heart of silence, ancient peace ?
                        Or did you love me best, and then increase
                        The best with better, till at last we stood,
                        As he who was love’s laureate in each mood
                        Of passionate communion, bids us stand,
                        First among lovers when but hand in hand

                                                      VI
                        It is all over, I am left alone.
                        O visiting ghost, these eyes have never known
                        So cold, calm, tearless, proud, dispassionate,
                        Desperate, desolate, importunate,
                        Whose wrong denied you life, and rent from me
                        Your love, to be this ghost of memory ?
                        Not yours, though you have left me ; and not mine,
                        Though I have bade you leave me : the divine
                        Right of the world’s injustice, and that old
                        Tyranny of dumb, rooted things, which hold
                        The hearts of men in a hard bondage. Yet,
                        Not for the world’s sake, let me not forget
                        That, in the world’s eyes, I have done you wrong.
                        And since to the world’s judgment must belong
                        The saving and damnation of all souls
                        Whom that usurped sovereignty controls,
                        Indeed I have done you wrong. I loved you more
                        Than your own soul. I had not loved before,
                        And love possessed me, fixed my wandering mind,
                        And drove me onward, heedless, deaf, and blind,
                        Wrapt in the fiery whirlwind, passion, drove
                        Life to annihilation upon love.
                        I had not loved before : I had been love’s lord,
                        I had delicately feasted at the board
                        Where Folly’s guests luxuriously admire
                        Each dainty waiting handmaiden desire ;
                        Where, when the feast is over, choice is free.
                        I had feasted long, I had chosen riotously,

                         MUNDI VICTIMA                                    19

                        Kisses, and roses, and warm scented wine,
                        I had bound my forehead with the tangled vine,
                        I had bound about my heart the tangled hair
                        Of laughing light loves ; I had found love fair,
                        Of delicate aspect, and free from guile,
                        And I had bartered kisses for a smile,
                        And my vine-wreath for poppies twined for sleep,
                        And of a sleepy bowl I had drunk deep,
                        And, dreaming, never dreamed that hearts could ache,
                        For over-much desire, or for love’s sake.
                        And then you came. The rose of yesterday
                        Petal by petal drooped, withering away,
                        And all my bright flowers drooped, withering dead,
                        And the vine-wreath had fallen from my head,
                        And the wine-red poppies dripped to earth, and spilled
                        The bowl of sleep, and all the air was filled,
                        As with the fluttering voices of soft doves,
                        With lamentations of the little loves.
                        Then a new life was born of the last breath
                        Of that which never lived ; I knew that death
                        Which love is, ere it is eternity.
                        And then I knew that love, I had thought so fair,
                        Is terrible of aspect, and heavy care
                        Follows the feet of love where’er he goes,
                        And lovers’ hearts, because of many woes,
                        Ache sorer than all hearts most desolate,
                        And dearest love works most the work of hate.

                                                      VII
                        The world has taken you, the world has won.
                        In vain against the world’s dominion
                        We fought the fight of love against the world.
                        For since about the tree of knowledge curled
                        The insidious snake, the snake’s voice whispering
                        Has poisoned every fair and fruitful thing.
                        Did not the world’s voice treacherously move
                        Even your fixed soul ? Did you not hold our love

20                              THE SAVOY

                        Guilty of its own ardour, and the immense
                        Sacrifice to its own omnipotence
                        A sacrilege and not a sacrifice ?
                        Even in our love our love could not suffice
                        (Not the rapt silence whose warm wings abound
                        With all the holy plenitude of sound,
                        At love’s most shadowy and hushed hour of day)
                        To keep the voices of the world away.
                        O subtle voices, luring from the dream
                        The dreamer, till love’s very vision seem
                        The unruffled air that phantom feet have crossed
                        In the mute march of that processional host
                        Whose passing is the passing of the wind ;
                        Avenging voices, hurrying behind
                        The souls that have escaped, and yet look back
                        Reluctantly along the flaming track ;
                        O mighty voices of the world, I have heard
                        Between our heart-beats your reiterate word,
                        And I have felt our heart-beats slackening.

                                                     VIII
                        Love, to the world, is the forbidden thing ;
                        And rightly, for the world is to the strong,
                        And the world’s honour and increase must belong
                        To the few mighty triumphing through hate
                        And to the many meek who humbly wait
                        The grudging wage of daily drudgery.
                        The world is made for hate, for apathy,
                        For labouring greed that mines the earth for gold,
                        And sweats to gather dust into its hold :
                        Is not the world bought for a little dust ?
                        Kingdoms are shaken from their ancient trust,
                        And kingdoms stablished upon treacheries ;
                        Under the temple-roof of the same skies
                        The stones of altars older than their gods
                        Are beaten down, and in the old abodes
                        The smoke of a new incense blinds the stars ;

                         MUNDI VICTIMA                                    21

                        The rind of earth is eaten up by wars,
                        As a rat, gnawing, leaves a mouldering heap ;
                        And the world drowses in a downy sleep,
                        The world being sworn confederate with success.
                        Yet will it pardon the forgetfulness
                        Of laughing loves that linger but a night
                        In the soft perfumed chambers of delight.
                        How should it pardon love ? love whose intent
                        Is from the world to be in banishment,
                        Love that admits but fealty to one,
                        Love that is ever in rebellion.
                        The world is made for dutiful restraint,
                        Its martyrs are the lover and the saint,
                        All whom a fine and solitary rage
                        Urges on some ecstatic pilgrimage
                        In search of any Holy Sepulchre.
                        The lover is a lonely voyager
                        Over great seas and into lonely lands,
                        He speaks a tongue which no man understands,
                        Much given to silence, no good citizen,
                        His utmost joy to be apart from men,
                        For his creating mind has given birth,
                        God-like, to a new heaven and a new earth ;
                        Where, if he dwell apart or in the crowd,
                        He talks with angels in a fiery cloud
                        Upon the mount of vision all his days.
                        Therefore the world, beholding in his face
                        Only the radiance of reflected light
                        Left by that incommunicable sight,
                        Which to the dim eyes of the world may seem
                        But the marsh-glimmer of a fevered dream,
                        Bids love renounce love, or be cast aside.
                        Has not the world’s hate ever crucified,
                        From age to age, rejoicing in its loss,
                        Love on the same inevitable cross,
                        In every incarnation from above
                        Of the redeeming mystery of love ?

22                              THE SAVOY

                                                      IX
                        The world has taken you, the world has won.
                        Accursed be the world ! Was it well done
                        To give the world, once more, its victory ?
                        Was it well done to let you go from me ?
                        For your own sake I suffered you to go.
                        Did I do right, for your sake ? Say not no,
                        Say not that I have left you to your fate,
                        That I have made my own life desolate,
                        Casting adrift upon a shoreless tide,
                        While you, blind, shipwrecked, and without a guide.
                        Fasting and footsore, desolately went
                        Across an undiscovered continent !
                        Should I have held you fast, in spite of all ?
                        Perchance. Yet it was well, whate’er befall,
                        To have renounced love, merely for love’s sake.
                        Ah, when in lonely nights I lie awake,
                        And hear the windy voices of the rain,
                        At least I shall not hear your voice complain
                        “If you had loved me, you had let me go ! “
                        Have we not loved and sorrowed ? and we know
                        It is well to have loved and sorrowed and not striven.
                        And to endure hell, having passed through heaven,
                        To know what heaven is, having passed through hell.
                        Love’s moment is a moment of farewell.
                        Sorrow and weariness are all our years,
                        And life is full of sighing, and much tears.
                        What shall your life be in the years to come ?
                        The world, that recks not of love’s martyrdom,
                        Shall praise in you a weary passionate face,
                        Where tears and memories have left their trace,
                        Into a finer beauty fashioning
                        Your beauty, ever an unquiet thing.

                         MUNDI VICTIMA                                    23

                        You shall have riches : jewels shall be brought
                        From the earth’s ends to please a wandering thought,
                        And the red heart of rubies shall suspire
                        To kiss your fingers, and the inner fire
                        That wastes the diamond’s imprisoned soul
                        Shall flame upon your brows, an aureole,
                        And your white breast shall be devoutly kissed
                        By the pale fasting lips of amethyst,
                        And the cold purity of pearls enmesh
                        Your throat that keeps my kisses in its flesh.
                        Your beauty shall be clothed in raiment fit
                        For the high privilege, to cover it ;
                        You shall be served ere any wish arise
                        With more than had seemed meet in your own eyes ;
                        You shall be shielded lest the sun should light
                        A rose too red on cheeks that blossom white ;
                        You shall be shielded from the wind that may
                        Tangle a tress delicately astray ;
                        You shall be fenced about with many friends ;
                        You shall be brought to many journeys’ ends
                        By leisured stages ; what was mine of old
                        Shall now be yours, cities and skies of gold,
                        And golden waters, and the infinite
                        Renewal of the myriad-vested night.
                        Where cool stars tesselated the lagoon,
                        In Venice, under some old April moon,
                        Shall not some April, too, for you be lit
                        By the same moon that then wept over it ?
                        Shall you not drive beneath the boulevard trees
                        In that young Paris where I lived at ease?
                        And you shall see the women I have known,
                        Before your voice called me to be your own
                        Out of that delicate, pale, lilac air.
                        And all this you shall find, as I did, fair,
                        And all this you shall find, as now I find,
                        Withered as leaves a ruinous winter wind
                        Casts in the face of any summer’s guest
                        Revisiting some valley of old rest.

24                              THE SAVOY

                        You will remember me in all these things,
                        I shall go with you in your wanderings,
                        I shall be nearer to you, far away,
                        Than he who holds you by him, night and day ;
                        Close let him hold you, close : what can he do ?
                        For am I not the heart that beats in you ?
                        And if, at night, you hear beside your bed
                        The night’s slow trampling hours with ceaseless tread
                        Bearing the haggard corpse of morning on,
                        You shall cry in vain for sleep’s oblivion,
                        Haunted by that unsleeping memory
                        That wakes and watches with you ceaselessly.
                        What shall your life be ? Loneliness, regret,
                        A weary face beside a hearthstone set,
                        A weary head upon a pillow laid
                        Heavier than sleep ; pale lips that are afraid
                        Of some betraying smile, and eyes that keep
                        Their haunting memory strangled in its sleep.
                        “O mother !” is it I who hear you cry ?
                        “O mother ! mother !” is it only I ?
                        “O my lost lover !” shall she not, even she,
                        Hear, and one moment pity you and me ?
                        She must not hear, only the silence must
                        Share in the jealous keeping of that trust.
                        And when, perchance, telling some idle thing,
                        Your husband rests his finger on my ring ;
                        When your eye rests upon the casket where
                        My letters keep the scent of days that were,
                        My verses keep the perfume that was yours,
                        And the key tells you how my love endures ;
                        When you shall read of me, shall hear my name,
                        On idle lips, in idle praise or blame ;
                        Ah, when the world, perhaps, some day shall cry
                        My name with a great shouting to the sky ;
                        You must be silent, though your eyes, your cheek,
                        Will answer for your heart, you must not speak,
                        Though you would gladly dare a thousand harms
                        To cry “The joy of life was in his arms !”

                         MUNDI VICTIMA                                    25

                        Though you would give up all to cry one cry :
                        “I loved him, I shall love him till I die,
                        I am the man you tell of, he is I !”

                                                      XI
                        I write this for the world’s eye, yet for one.
                        When she shall hear of me, and not alone,
                        Let her know always that my heart is hers,
                        As it was always. If my fancy errs
                        Into strange places, wildly following
                        The flying track of any flitting thing,
                        If I recapture any cast aside
                        Garlands, or twine for roses that have died
                        Fresh roses, or bid flower-soft arms entwine
                        My forehead flushed with some bewildering wine,
                        Then let her know that I am most forlorn.
                        There is no penance harder to be borne
                        Than, amid happy faces and the voice
                        Of revellers who in revelling rejoice,
                        To hear one’s own sad heart keep time in vain
                        With some sad unforgotten old refrain.
                        For me, the world’s eternal silence dwells
                        Not in the peace of those ecstatic cells
                        Where recollection goes the way of prayer
                        Into the void, the welcoming void air,
                        But here, in these bright crowds to be alone.
                        Then let her know that I am most her own !
                        Yet, if it might but save my soul from her,
                        O come to me, Folly the Comforter,
                        Fling those wild arms around me, take my hand,
                        And lead me back to that once longed-for land,
                        Where it is always midnight, and the light
                        Of many tapers has burnt out the night,
                        And swift life finds no moment set apart
                        For rest, and the seclusion of the heart,
                        And the return of any yesterday.
                        Come to me, Folly, now, take me away ;

26                              THE SAVOY

                        I will be faithful to you until death
                        Puff out this wavering and unsteady breath.
                        Folly, the bride of such unhappy men
                        As I am, were you not my mistress, when,
                        Love having not yet chosen me to be proud,
                        I followed all the voices of the crowd ?
                        But I forsook you : I return anew,
                        And for my bride I claim, I capture you.
                        Folly, I will be faithful to you now.
                        I will pluck all your roses for my brow,
                        And, with the thorns of ruined roses crowned,
                        I will drink every poison life has found
                        In the enchantments that your fingers brew.
                        Finally I commend myself to you,
                        Multitudinous senses : carry me
                        Upon your beating wings where I may see
                        The world and all the glory of the world,
                        And bid my soul from lust to lust be hurled,
                        Endlessly, precipitously, on.
                        Only in you is there oblivion,
                        Multitudinous senses ; in your fire
                        I light and I exterminate desire.
                        Though it cry all night long, shall I not steep
                        My sorrow in the fever of your sleep ?
                        Where, if no phantom with faint fingers pale
                        Beckon to me, wildly, across the veil
                        Of the dim waving of her sorcerous hair,
                        I may yet find your very peace, despair !
                        Benignant principalities and powers
                        Of evil, powers of the world’s abysmal hours,
                        Take me and make me yours : I am yours : O take
                        The sacrifice of soul and body, break
                        The mould of this void spirit, scatter it
                        Into the vague and shoreless infinite,
                        Pour it upon the restless arrogant
                        Winds of tumultuous spaces ; grant, O grant
                        That the loosed sails of this determinate soul
                        Hurry it to disaster, and the goal

                         MUNDI VICTIMA                                    27

                        Of swiftest shipwreck ; that this soul descend
                        The unending depths until oblivion end
                        In self-oblivion, and at last be lost
                        Where never any other wandering ghost,
                        Voyaging from other worlds remembered not,
                        May find it and remind of things forgot.

                                                                                       ARTHUR SYMONS.


Two Drawings by Aubrey Beardsley

Don Juan, Signarelle, and the Beggar, from Molièreʼs “Don Juan”
Mrs. Pinchwife, from Wycherleyʼs “Country Wife”

WALTER PATER

SOME CHARACTERISTICS

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WALTER PATER was a man in whom fineness and subtlety
of emotion were united with an exact and profound scholar-
ship ; in whom a personality singularly unconventional, and
singularly full of charm, found for its expression an abso-
lutely personal and an absolutely novel style, which was
the most carefully and curiously beautiful of all English
styles. The man and his style, to those who knew him, were identical ; for,
as his style was unlike that of other men, concentrated upon a kind of
perfection which, for the most part, they could not even distinguish, so his
inner life was peculiarly his own, centred within a circle beyond which he
refused to wander ; his mind, to quote some words of his own, “keeping as a
solitary prisoner its own dream of a world.” And he was the most lovable
of men ; to those who rightly apprehended him, the most fascinating ; the
most generous and helpful of private friends, and in literature a living counsel
of perfection, whose removal seems to leave modern prose without a con-
temporary standard of values.

“For it is with the delicacies of fine literature especially, its gradations of
expression, its fine judgment, its pure sense of words, of vocabulary—things,
alas ! dying out in the English literature of the present, together with the
appreciation of them in our literature of the past—that his literary mission is
chiefly concerned.” These words, applied by Pater to Charles Lamb, might
reasonably enough have been applied to himself; especially in that earlier part
of his work, which remains to me, as I doubt not it remains to many others,
the most entirely delightful. As a critic, he selected for analysis only those
types of artistic character in which delicacy, an exquisite fineness, is the prin-
cipal attraction ; or if, as with Michel Angelo, he was drawn towards some more
rugged personality, some more massive, less finished art, it was not so much
from sympathy with these more obvious qualities of ruggedness and strength,
but because he had divined the sweetness lying at the heart of the strength : “ex

34                              THE SAVOY

forti dulcedo.” Leonardo da Vinci, Joachim du Bellay, Coleridge, Botticelli :
we find always something a little exotic, or subtle, or sought out, a certain
rarity, which it requires an effort to disengage, and which appeals for its perfect
appreciation to a public within the public ; those fine students of what is fine
in art, who take their artistic pleasures consciously, deliberately, critically, with
the learned love of the amateur.

And not as a critic only, judging others, but in his own person as a writer,
both of critical and of imaginative work, Pater showed his pre-occupation with
the “delicacies of fine literature.” His prose was from the first conscious, and
it was from the first perfect. That earliest book of his, “Studies in the History
of the Renaissance,” as it was then called, entirely individual, the revelation of
a rare and special temperament, though it was, had many affinities with the
poetic and pictorial art of Rossetti, Mr. Swinburne, and Burne-Jones, and seems,
on its appearance in 1873, to have been taken as the manifesto of the so-called
“æsthetic” school. And, indeed, it may well be compared, as artistic prose,
with the poetry of Rossetti ; as fine, as careful, as new a thing as that, and with
something of the same exotic odour about it : a savour in this case of French
soil, a Watteau grace and delicacy. Here was criticism as a fine art, written
in prose which the reader lingered over as over poetry ; modulated prose which
made the splendour of Mr. Ruskin seem gaudy, the neatness of Matthew
Arnold a mincing neatness, and the brass sound strident in the orchestra of
Carlyle.

That book of “Studies in the Renaissance,” even with the rest of Pater
to choose from, seems to me sometimes to be the most beautiful book of prose
in our literature. Nothing in it is left to inspiration : but it is all inspired.
Here is a writer who, like Baudelaire, would better nature ; and in this gold-
smith’s work of his prose he too has “rêvé le miracle d’une prose poétique,
musicale sans rhythme et sans rime.” An almost oppressive quiet, a quiet
which seems to exhale an atmosphere heavy with the odour of tropical flowers,
broods over these pages ; a subdued light shadows them. The most felicitous
touches come we know not whence—”a breath, a flame in the doorway, a
feather in the wind ;” here are the simplest words, but they take colour from
each other by the cunning accident of their placing in the sentence, “the subtle
spiritual fire kindling from word to word.”

In this book prose seemed to have conquered a new province; and
further, along this direction, prose could not go. Twelve years later, when
“Marius the Epicurean” appeared, it was in a less coloured manner of writing
that the “sensations and ideas” of that reticent, wise, and human soul were

                         WALTER PATER                                    35

given to the world. Here and there, perhaps, the goldsmith, adding more
value, as he thought, for every trace of gold that he removed, might seem to
have scraped a little too assiduously. But the style of “Marius,” in its more
arduous self-repression, has a graver note, and brings with it a severer kind of
beauty. Writers who have paid particular attention to style have often been
accused of caring little what they say, knowing how beautifully they can say
anything. The accusation has generally been unjust : as if any fine beauty
could be but skin-deep ! The merit which, more than any other, distinguishes
Pater’s prose, though it is not the merit most on the surface, is the attention to,
the perfection of, the ensemble. Under the soft and musical phrases an inexor-
able logic hides itself, sometimes only too well. Link is added silently, but
faultlessly, to link ; the argument marches, carrying you with it, while you
fancy you are only listening to the music with which it keeps step. Take an
essay to pieces, and you will find that it is constructed with mathematical pre-
cision ; every piece can be taken out and replaced in order. I do not know
any contemporary writer who observes the logical requirements so scrupulously,
who conducts an argument so steadily from deliberate point to point towards
a determined goal. And here, in “Marius,” which is not a story, but the
philosophy of a soul, this art of the ensemble is not less rigorously satisfied ;
though indeed “Marius” is but a sequence of scenes, woven around a sequence
of moods.

In this book and in the “Imaginary Portraits” of three years later—
which seem to me to show his imaginative and artistic faculties at their point
of most perfect fusion—Pater has not endeavoured to create characters, in
whom the flesh and blood should seem to be that of life itself; he had not the
energy of creation, and he was content with a more shadowy life than theirs for
the children of his dreams. What he has done is to give a concrete form to
abstract ideas ; to represent certain types of character, to trace certain
developments, in the picturesque form of narrative ; to which, indeed, the
term portrait is very happily applied ; for the method is that of a very patient
and elaborate brush-work, in which the touches that go to form the likeness
are so fine that it is difficult to see quite their individual value, until, the
end being reached, the whole picture starts out before you. Each, with
perhaps one exception, is the study of a soul, or rather of a consciousness ;
such a study as might be made by simply looking within, and projecting
now this now that side of oneself on an exterior plane. I do not mean to say
that I attribute to Pater himself the philosophical theories of Sebastian van
Storck, or the artistic ideals of Duke Carl of Rosenmold. I mean that the

36                              THE SAVOY

attitude of mind, the outlook, in the most general sense, is always limited and
directed in a certain way, giving one always the picture of a delicate, subtle,
aspiring, unsatisfied personality, open to all impressions, living chiefly by
sensations, little anxious to reap any of the rich harvest of its intangible but
keenly possessed gains ; a personality withdrawn from action, which it despises
or dreads, solitary with its ideals, in the circle of its “exquisite moments,” in
the Palace of Art, where it is never quite at rest. It is somewhat such a soul,
I have thought, as that which Browning has traced in “Sordello ;” indeed,
when reading for the first time “Marius the Epicurean,” I was struck by a
certain resemblance between the record of the sensations and ideas of Marius
of White-Nights and that of the sensations and events of Sordello of Goito.

The style of the “Imaginary Portraits” is the ripest, the most varied and
flawless, their art the most assured and masterly, of any of Pater’s books : it
was the book that he himself preferred in his work, thinking it, to use his own
phrase, more “natural” than any other. And of the four portraits the most
wonderful seems to me the poem, for it is really a poem, named “Denys
l’Auxerrois.” For once, it is not the study of a soul, but of a myth ; a
transposition (in which one hardly knows whether to admire most the learning,
the ingenuity, or the subtle imagination) of that strangest myth of the Greeks,
the “Pagan after-thought ” of Dionysus Zagreus, into the conditions of
mediæval life. Here is prose so coloured, so modulated, as to have captured,
along with almost every sort of poetic richness, and in a rhythm which is
essentially the rhythm of prose, even the suggestiveness of poetry, that most
volatile and unseizable property, of which prose has so rarely been able to
possess itself. The style of “Denys l’Auxerrois” has a subdued heat, a veiled
richness of colour, which contrasts curiously with the silver-grey coolness of
“A Prince of Court Painters,” the chill, more leaden grey of “Sebastian van
Storck,” though it has a certain affinity, perhaps, with the more variously-
tinted canvas of “Duke Carl of Rosenmold.” Watteau, Sebastian, Carl :
unsatisfied seekers, all of them, this after an artistic ideal of impossible
perfection, that after a chill and barren ideal of philosophic thinking and
living, that other after yet another ideal, unattainable to him in his period, of
life “im Ganzen, Guten, Schönen,” a beautiful and effective culture. The
story of each, like that of “Marius,” is a vague tragedy, ending abruptly, after
so many uncertainties, and always with some subtly ironic effect in the
accident of its conclusion. The mirror is held up to Watteau while he
struggles desperately or hesitatingly forward, snatching from art one after
another of her reticent secrets ; then, with a stroke, it is broken, and this artist

                         WALTER PATER                                    37

n immortal things sinks out of sight, into a narrow grave of red earth. The
mirror is held up to Sebastian as he moves deliberately, coldly onward in the
midst of a warm life which has so little attraction for him, freeing himself one
by one from all obstructions to a clear philosophic equilibrium ; and the
mirror is broken, with a like suddenness, and the seeker disappears from our
sight ; to find, perhaps, what he had sought. It is held up to Duke Carl, the
seeker after the satisfying things of art and experience, the dilettante in
material and spiritual enjoyment, the experimenter on life ; and again it is
broken, with an almost terrifying shock, just as he is come to a certain rash
crisis : is it a step upward or downward ? a step, certainly, towards the
concrete, towards a possible material felicity.

We see Pater as an imaginative writer, pure and simple, only in these
two books, “Marius” and the “Imaginary Portraits,” in the unfinished
romance of “Gaston de Latour” (in which detail had already begun to obscure
the outlines of the central figure), and in those “Imaginary Portraits,”
reprinted in various volumes, but originally intended to form a second series
under that title : “Hippolytus Veiled,” “Apollo in Picardy,” “Emerald
Uthwart ;” and that early first chapter of an unwritten story of modern English
life, “The Child in the House.” For the rest, he was content to be a critic :
a critic of poetry and painting in the “Studies in the Renaissance” and the
“Appreciations,” of sculpture and the arts of life in the “Greek Studies,”
of philosophy in the volume on “Plato and Platonism.” But he was a critic
as no one else ever was a critic. He had made a fine art of criticism. His
criticism—abounding in the close and strenuous qualities of really earnest
judgment, grappling with his subject as if there were nothing to do but that,
the “fine writing” in it being largely mere conscientiousness in providing
a subtle and delicate thought with words as subtle and delicate—was, in effect,
written with as scrupulous a care, with as much artistic finish, as much artistic
purpose, as any imaginative work whatever ; being indeed, in a sense in
which, perhaps, no other critical work is, imaginative work itself.

“The æsthetic critic,” we are told in the preface to the “Studies in the
Renaissance,” “regards all the objects with which he has to do, all works of
art, and the fairer forms of nature and human life, as powers or forces producing
pleasurable sensations, each of a more or less peculiar and unique kind. This
influence he feels, and wishes to explain, analyzing it, and reducing it to its
elements. To him, the picture, the landscape, the engaging personality in life
or in a book, ‘La Gioconda,’ the hills of Carrara, Pico of Mirandola, are
valuable for their virtues, as we say in speaking of a herb, a wine, a gem ; for

38                              THE SAVOY

the property each has of affecting one with a special, a unique, impression of
pleasure.” To this statement of what was always the aim of Pater in criticism,
I would add, from the later essay on Wordsworth, a further statement, applying
it, as he there does, to the criticism of literature. “What special sense,” he
asks, “does Wordsworth exercise, and what instincts does he satisfy ? What
are the subjects which in him excite the imaginative faculty ? What are the
qualities in things and persons which he values, the impression and sense of
which he can convey to others, in an extraordinary way ?” How far is this
ideal from that old theory, not yet extinct, which has been briefly stated, thus,
by Edgar Poe : “While the critic is permitted to play, at times, the part of the
mere commentator—while he is allowed, by way of merely interesting his
readers, to put in the fairest light the merits of his author—his legitimate
task is still, in pointing out and analyzing defects, and showing how the work
might have been improved, to aid the cause of letters, without undue heed of
the individual literary men.” And Poe goes on to protest, energetically, against
the more merciful (and how infinitely more fruitful !) principles of Goethe, who
held that what it concerns us to know about a work or a writer are the merits,
not the defects, of the writer and the work. Pater certainly carried this theory
to its furthest possible limits, and may almost be said never, except by impli-
cation, to condemn anything. But then the force of this implication testifies
to a fastidiousness infinitely greater than that of the most destructive of the
destructive critics. Is it necessary to say that one dislikes a thing ? It need
but be ignored ; and Pater ignored whatever did not come up to his very
exacting standard, finding quite enough to write about in that small residue
that remained over.

Nor did he merely ignore what was imperfect, he took the further step,
the taking of which was what made him a creative artist in criticism. “It was
thus,” we are told of Gaston de Latour, in one of the chapters of the unfinished
romance, “It was thus Gaston understood the poetry of Ronsard, generously
expanding it to the full measure of its intention.”
That is precisely what Pater
does in his criticisms, in which criticism is a divining-rod over hidden springs.
He has a unique faculty of seeing, through every imperfection, the perfect
work, the work as the artist saw it, as he strove to make it, as he failed, in his
measure, quite adequately to achieve it. He goes straight to what is funda-
mental, the true root of the matter, leaving all the rest out of the question.
The essay on Wordsworth is perhaps the best example of this, for it has fallen
to the lot of Wordsworth to suffer more than most at the hands of interpreters.
Here, at last, is a critic who can see in him “a poet somewhat bolder and more

                         WALTER PATER                                    39

passionate than might at first sight be supposed, but not too bold for true
poetical taste ; an unimpassioned writer, you might sometimes fancy, yet
thinking the chief aim, in life and art alike, to be a certain deep emotion ;”
one whose “words are themselves thought and feeling ;” “a master, an expert,
in the art of impassioned contemplation.” Reading such essays as these, it is
difficult not to feel that if Lamb and Wordsworth, if Shakespeare, if Sir Thomas
Browne, could but come to life again for the pleasure of reading them, that
pleasure would be the sensation : “Here is someone who understands just
what I meant to do, what was almost too deep in me for expression, and
would have, I knew, to be divined ; that something, scarcely expressed in any
of my words, without which no word I ever wrote would have been written.”

Turning from the criticisms of literature to the studies on painting, we see
precisely the same qualities, but not, I think, precisely the same results. In a
sentence of the essay on “The School of Giorgione,” which is perhaps the most
nicely-balanced of all his essays on painting, he defines, with great precision :
“In its primary aspect, a great picture has no more definite message for us
than an accidental play of sunlight and shadow for a moment, on the floor : is
itself in truth a space of such fallen light, caught as the colours are caught in
an Eastern carpet, but refined upon, and dealt with more subtly and exquisitely
than by nature itself.” But for the most part it was not in this spirit that he
wrote of pictures. His criticism of pictures is indeed creative, in a fuller sense
than his criticism of books ; and, in the necessity of things, dealing with an
art which, as he admitted, has, in its primary aspect, no more definite message
for us than the sunlight on the floor, he not merely divined, but also added, out
of the most sympathetic knowledge, certainly. It is one thing to interpret the
meaning of a book ; quite another to interpret the meaning of a picture.
Take, for instance, the essay on Botticelli. That was the first sympathetic
study of at that time a little-known painter which had appeared in English ;
and it contains some of Pater’s most exquisite writing. All that he writes, of
those Madonnas “who are neither for Jehovah nor for His enemies,” of that
sense in the painter of “the wistfulness of exiles,” represents, certainly, the
impression made upon his own mind by these pictures, and, as such, has an
interpretative value, apart from its beauty as a piece of writing. But it is after
all a speculation before a canvas, a literary fantasy ; a possible interpretation, if
you will, of one mood in the painter, a single side of his intention ; it is not a
criticism, inevitable as that criticism of Wordsworth’s art, of the art of Botticelli.

This once understood, we must admit that Pater did more than anyone
of our time to bring about a more intimate sympathy with some of the subtler

40                              THE SAVOY

aspects of art ; that his influence did much to rescue us from the dangerous
moralities, the uncritical enthusiasms and prejudices, of Mr. Ruskin ; that of
no other art-critic it could be said that his taste was flawless. And in regard
to his treatment of sculpture, we may say more ; for here we can speak
without reservations. In those essays on “The Beginnings of Greek Sculpture,”
and the rest, he has made sculpture a living, intimate, thing ; and, with no
addition of his fancy, but in a minute, learned, intuitive piecing together of
little fact by little fact, has shown its growth, its relation to life, its meaning in
art. I find much of the same quality in his studies in Greek myths : that
coloured, yet so scrupulous “Study of Dionysus,” the patient disentanglings of
the myth of Demeter and Persephone. And, in what is the latest work,
practically, that we have from his hand, the lectures on “Plato and Platonism,”
we see a like scrupulous and discriminating judgment brought to bear, as
upon an artistic problem, upon the problems of Greek ethics, Greek
philosophy.

“Philosophy itself indeed, as he conceives it,” Pater tells us, speaking of
Plato (he might be speaking of himself), “is but the systematic appreciation of
a kind of music in the very nature of things.” And philosophy, as he
conceives it, is a living, dramatic thing, among personalities, and the strife of
temperaments ; a doctrine being seen as a vivid fragment of some very human
mind, not a dry matter of words and disembodied reason. “In the discussion
even of abstract truth,” he reminds us, “it is not so much what he thinks as
the person who is thinking, that after all really tells.” Thus, the student’s
duty, in reading Plato, “is not to take his side in a controversy, to adopt or
refute Plato’s opinions, to modify, or make apology for what may seem erratic
or impossible in him ; still less, to furnish himself with arguments on behalf of
some theory or conviction of his own. His duty is rather to follow intelli-
gently, but with strict indifference, the mental process there, as he might
witness a game of skill ; better still, as in reading ‘Hamlet’ or ‘The Divine
Comedy,’ so in reading ‘The Republic,’ to watch, for its dramatic interest,
the spectacle of a powerful, of a sovereign intellect, translating itself, amid a
complex group of conditions which can never in the nature of things occur
again, at once pliant and resistant to them, into a great literary monument.”
It is thus that Pater studies his subject, with an extraordinary patience and
precision ; a patience with ideas, not, at first sight, so clear or so interesting as
he induces them to become ; a precision of thinking, on his part, in which no
licence is ever permitted to the fantastic side-issues of things. Here again we
have criticism which, in its divination, its arrangement, its building up of

                         WALTER PATER                                    41

many materials into a living organism, is itself creation, becomes imaginative
work itself.

We may seem to be far now, but are not in reality so far as it may seem,
from those “delicacies of fine literature,” with which I began by showing Pater
to be so greatly concerned. And, in considering the development by which a
writer who had begun with the “Studies in the Renaissance,” ended with
“Plato and Platonism,” we must remember, as Mr. Gosse has so acutely
pointed out in his valuable study of Pater’s personal characteristics, that, after
all, it was philosophy which attracted him before either literature or art, and
that his first published essay was an essay on Coleridge, in which Coleridge
the metaphysician, and not Coleridge the poet, was the interesting person to
him. In his return to an early, and one might think, in a certain sense,
immature interest, it need not surprise us to find a development, which I
cannot but consider as technically something of a return to a primitive
lengthiness and involution, towards a style which came to lose many of the
rarer qualities of its perfect achievement. I remember that when he once
said to me that the “Imaginary Portraits” seemed to him the best written of
his books, he qualified that very just appreciation by adding : “It seems to
me the most natural” I think he was even then beginning to forget that it
was not natural to him to be natural. There are in the world many kinds of
beauty, and of these what is called natural beauty is but one. Pater’s tem-
perament was at once shy and complex, languid and ascetic, sensuous and
spiritual. He did not permit life to come to him without a certain ceremony ;
he was on his guard against the abrupt indiscretion of events ; and if his
whole life was a service of art, he arranged his life so that, as far as possible,
it might be served by that very dedication. With this conscious ordering of
things, it became a last sophistication to aim at an effect in style which
should bring the touch of unpremeditation, which we seem to find in nature,
into a faultlessly combined arrangement of art. The lectures on Plato, really
spoken, show traces of their actual delivery in certain new, vocal effects, which
had begun already to interest him as matters of style ; and which we may
find, more finely, here and there in “Gaston de Latour.” Perhaps all this was
but a pausing-place in a progress. That it would not have been the final stage,
we may be sure. But it is idle to speculate what further development awaited,
at its own leisure, so incalculable a life.

                                                                        ARTHUR SYMONS.


Four Drawings by Aubrey Beardsley

to illustrate Wagnerʼs “Rhinegold”

Frontispiece to “The Comedy of the Rhinegold”
Flosshilde
Alberich
Erda

THE CHILDHOOD OF LUCY NEWCOME

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The Database of Ornament

THE house which Lucy Newcome remembered as her home,
the only home she ever had, was a small house, hardly more
than a cottage, with a little, neat garden in front of it, and a
large, untidy garden at the back. There was a low wooden
palisade cutting it off from the road, which, in that remote
suburb of the great town, had almost the appearance of a
road in the country. The house had two windows, one on each side of the
door, and above that three more windows, and attics above that. The windows
on each side of the door were the windows of the two sitting-rooms ; the
kitchen, with its stone floor, its shining rows of brass things around the walls.
its great dresser, was at the back. It was through the kitchen that you found
your way into the big garden, where the grass was always long and weedy and
ill-kept, and so all the pleasanter for lying on ; and where there were a few
alder-trees, a pear-tree on which the pears never seemed to thrive, for it was
quite close to Lucy’s bedroom window, a flower-bed along the wall, and a
great, old sun-dial, which Lucy used to ponder over when the shadows came
and stretched out their long fingers across it. The garden, when she thinks
of it now, comes to her often as she saw it one warm Sunday evening, walking
to and fro there beside her mother, who was saying how good it was to be
well again, or better : this was not long before she died ; and Lucy had said
to herself, what a dear little mother I have, and how young, and small, and
pretty she looks in that lilac bodice with the bright belt round the waist !
Lucy had been as tall as her mother when she was ten, and at twelve she
could look down on her quite protectingly.

Her father she but rarely saw ; but it was her father whom she
worshipped, whom she was taught to worship. The whole house, she, her
mother, and Linda, the servant, who was more friend than servant (for she took
no wages, and when she wanted anything, asked for it), all existed for the sake
of that wonderful, impracticable father of hers ; it was for him they starved, it

52                              THE SAVOY

was to him they looked for the great future which they believed in so
implicitly, but scarcely knew in what shape to look for. She knew that he
had come of gentlefolk, in another county, that he had been meant for the
Church, and, after some vague misfortune at Cambridge, had married her
mother, who was but seventeen, and of a class beneath him, against the will of
his relations, who had cast him off, just as, at twenty-one, he had come into a
meagre allowance from the will of his grandfather. He had been the last of
eleven children, born when his mother was fifty years of age, and he had
inherited the listless temperament of a dwindling stock. He had never been
able to do anything seriously, or even to make up his mind quite what great
thing he was going to do. First he had found a small clerkship, then he had
dropped casually upon the post which he was to hold almost to the time of
his death, as secretary to some Assurance Society, whose money it was his
business to collect He did the work mechanically ; at first, competently
enough ; but his heart was in other things. Lucy was never sure whether it
was the great picture he was engaged upon, or the great book, that was to
make all the difference in their fortunes. She never doubted his power to do
anything he liked ; and it was one of her privileges sometimes to be allowed
to sit in his room (the sitting-room on the left of the door, where it was always
warmer and more comfortable than anywhere else in the house), watching him
at his paints or his manuscripts, with great serious eyes that sometimes
seemed to disquiet him a little ; and then she would be told to run away and
not worry mother.

The little mother, too, she saw less of than children mostly see of their
mothers ; for her mother was never quite well, and she would so often be
told : “You must be quiet now, and not go into your mother’s room, for she
has one of her headaches,” that she gradually accustomed herself to do without
anybody’s company, and then she would sit all alone, or with her doll, who
was called Arabella, to whom she would chatter for hours together, in a low
and familiar voice, making all manner of confidences to her, and telling her all
manner of stories. Sometimes she would talk to Linda instead, sitting on the
corner of the kitchen fender ; but Linda was not so good a listener, and she
had a way of going into the scullery, and turning on a noisy stream of water,
just at what ought to have been the most absorbing moment of the narrative.

Lucy was a curious child, one of those children of whom nurses are
accustomed to say that they will not make old bones. She was always a little
pale, and she would walk in her sleep ; and would spend whole hours almost
without moving, looking vaguely and fixedly into the air : children ought not

    THE CHILDHOOD OF LUCY NEWCOME                      53

to dream like that ! She did not know herself, very often, what she was dream-
ing about ; it seemed to her natural to sit for hours doing nothing.

Often, however, she knew quite well what she was dreaming about ; and
first of all she was dreaming about herself. Really, she would explain if you
asked her, she did not belong to her parents at all ; she belonged to the fairies ;
she was a princess ; there was another, a great mother, who would come some
day and claim her. And this consciousness of being really a princess was
one of the joys of her imagination. She had composed all the circumstances
of her state, many times over, indeed, and always in a different way. It was
the heightening she gave to what her mother had taught her : that she was
of a better stock than the other children who lived in the other small houses
all round, and must not play with them, or accept them as equals. That was
to be her consolation if she had to do without many of the things she wanted,
and to be shabbily dressed (out of old things of her mother’s, turned and cut
and pieced together), while perhaps some of those other children, who were
not her equals, had new dresses.

And then she would make up stories about the people she knew, the ladies
to whom she paid a very shifting devotion, very sincere while it lasted. One
of her odd fancies was to go into the graveyard which surrounded the church,
and to play about in the grass there, or, more often, gather flowers and leaves,
and carry them to a low tomb, and sit there, weaving them into garlands.
These garlands she used to offer to the ladies whose faces she liked, as they
passed in and out of the church. The strange little girl who sat among the
graves, weaving garlands, and who would run up to them so shyly, and with
so serious a smile, offering them her flowers, seemed to these ladies rather a
disquieting little person, as if she, like her flowers, had a churchyard air about
her.

Blonde, tall, slim, delicately-complexioned, with blue eyes and a wavering,
somewhat sensuous mouth, the child took after her father ; and he used to say
of her sometimes, half whimsically, that she was bound to be like him alto-
gether, bound to go to the bad. The big, brilliant man, who had made so
winning a failure of life, so popular always, and the centre of a little ring of
intellectual people, used sometimes to let her stay in the room of an evening,
while he and his friends drank their ale and smoked pipes and talked their
atheistical philosophy. These friends of her father used to pet her, because
she was pretty ; and it was one of them who paid her the first compliment she
ever had, comparing her face to a face in a picture. She had never heard of
the picture, but she was immensely flattered ; for she did not think a painter

54                              THE SAVOY

would ever paint any one who was not very pretty. She listened to their con-
versation, much of which she could not understand, as if she understood every
word of it ; and she wondered very much at some of the things they said.
Her mother was a Catholic, and, though religion was rarely referred to, had
taught her some little prayers ; and it puzzled her that all this could be true,
and yet that clever people should have doubts of it She had always learnt
that cleverness (book-learning, or any disinterested journeying of the intellect)
was the one important thing in the world. Her father was clever : that was
why everything must bow to him. There must be something in it, then, if
these clever people, if her father himself, doubted of God, of heaven and hell,
of the good ordering of this world. And she announced one day to the pious
servant, who had told her that God sees everything, that when she was older
she meant to get the better of God, by building a room all walls and no
windows, within which she would be good or bad as she pleased, without his
seeing her.

Lucy was never sent to school, like most children ; that was partly
because they were very poor, but more because her father had always intended
to teach her himself, on a new and liberal scheme of education, which seemed
to him better than the education you get in schools. And sometimes, for as
much as a few weeks together, he would set her lessons day by day, and be
excessively severe with her, not permitting her to make a single slip in
anything he had given her to learn. He would even punish her sometimes, if
she still failed to learn some lesson perfectly ; and that seemed to her a
mortal indignity ; so that one day she rushed out into the garden, and climbed
up into a tree, and then called out, tremulously but triumphantly : “If you
promise not to punish me, I’ll come down ; but if you don’t, I’ll throw myself
down !”

She always disliked learning lessons, and those fits of scrupulousness on
his part were her great dread. They did not occur often ; and between whiles
he was very lenient, ready to get out of the trouble of teaching her on the
slightest excuse : only too glad if she did not bother him by coming to say
her lessons. Both were quite happy then ; she to be allowed to sit in his room
with her lesson-book on her knees, dreaming ; he not to be hindered in the
new sketch he was making, or the notes he was preparing for that great book
of the future, perhaps out of one of those old, calf-covered books which he
used to bring back from secondhand shops in the town, and which Lucy used
to admire for their ancient raggedness, as they stood in shelves round the
room, brown and broken-backed.

    THE CHILDHOOD OF LUCY NEWCOME                      55

And then if she had not her geography to learn by heart ; those lists
of capes and rivers and the population of countries, which she could indeed
learn by heart, but which represented nothing to her of the actual world itself;
she had of course all the more time for her own reading. When she had out-
grown that old fancy about the fairies, and about being a princess, she cared
nothing for stories of adventure ; but little for the material wonders of the
“Arabian Nights;” somewhat more for the “Pilgrim’s Progress,” in which
she always lingered over that passage of the good people through the bright
follies of Vanity Fair ; but most of all for certain quiet stories of lovers,
in which there was no improbable incident, and no too fantastical extravagance
of passion ; but a quite probable fidelity, plenty of troubles, and of course
a wedding at the end. One book, “Young Mrs. Jardine,” she was never
tired of reading ; it was partly the name of the heroine, Silence Jardine,
that fascinated her. Then there was a little book of poetical selections ;
she never could remember the name of it, afterwards ; and there were the
songs of Thomas Moore, and, above all, there was Mrs. Hemans. Those
gentle and lady-like poems “of the affections,” with their nice sentiments, the
faded ribbons of their secondhand romance, seemed to the child like a beautiful
glimpse into the real, tender, not too passionate world, where men and women
loved magnanimously, and had heroic sufferings, and died, perhaps, but for
a great love, or a great cause, and always nobly. She thought that the ways
of the world blossomed naturally into Casabiancas and Gertrudes and Imeldas
who were faithful to death, and came into their inheritance of love or glory
beyond the grave. She used to wonder if she, too, like Costanza, had a “pale
Madonna brow ;” and she wished nothing more fervently than to be like those
saintly and affectionate creatures, always so beautiful, and so often (what did
it matter?) unfortunate, who took poison from the lips of their lovers, and
served God in prison, and came back afterwards, spirits, out of the angelical
rapture of heaven, to be as some rare music, or subtle perfume, in the souls of
those who had loved them. Many of these poems were about death, and
it seemed natural to her, at that time, to think much about death, which she
conceived as a quite peaceful thing, coming to you invisibly out of the sky,
and which she never associated with the pale faces and more difficult breathing
of those about her. She had never known her mother to be quite well ; and
when, on her twelfth birthday, her mother called her into her room, where
she lay in bed now so often, and talked to her more solemnly than she
had ever talked before, saying that if she became very ill, too ill to get up at
all, Lucy was to look after her father as carefully as she herself had looked

56                              THE SAVOY

after him, always to look after him, and never let him want for anything,
for anything ; even then it did not seem to the child that this meant more
than a little more illness ; and it was so natural for people to be ill.

And so, after all, the end came almost suddenly ; and the first great event
of her childhood took her by surprise. The gentle, suffering woman had been
failing for many months, and when, one afternoon in early March, the doctor
ordered her to take to her bed at once, life seemed to ebb out of her daily, with
an almost visible haste to be gone. Whenever she was allowed to come in,
Lucy would curl herself up on the foot of the bed, never taking her eyes off the
face of the dying woman, who was for the most part unconscious, muttering
unintelligible words sometimes, in a hoarse voice broken by coughs, and
breathing, all the time, in great, heavy breaths, which made a rattle in
her throat. When she was in the next room, Lucy could hear this
monotonous sound going on, almost as plainly as in the room itself. It was
this sound that frightened her, more than anything ; for, when she was
sitting on the bed, watching the face lying among the pillows (drawn, and
glazed with a curious flush, as it was) it seemed, after all, only as if her mother
was very, very ill, and as if she might get better, for the lips were still red, and
sucked in readily all the spoonfuls of calvesfoot jelly, and brandy and water,
which were really just keeping her alive from hour to hour. On Friday night,
in the middle of the night, as Lucy was sleeping quietly, she felt, in her dream,
as it seemed to her, two lips touch her cheek, and, starting awake, saw
her father standing by the bedside. He told her to get up, put on some
of her things, and come quietly into the next room. She crept in, huddled up
in a shawl, very pale and trembling, and it seemed to her that her mother must
be a little better, for she drew her breath more slowly and not quite so loudly.
One arm was lying outside the clothes, and every now and then this arm would
raise itself up, and the hand would reach out, blindly, until the nurse, or her
father, took it and laid it back gently in its place. They told her to kiss her
mother, and she kissed her, crying very much, but her mother did not kiss her,
or open her eyes ; and as she touched her hair, which was coming out from
under her cap, she felt that it was all damp, but the lips were quite dry and
warm. Then they told her to go back to bed, but she clung to the foot of the
bed, and refused to go, and the nurse said, “I think she may stay.” The tears
were running down both her cheeks, but she did not move, or take her eyes off
the face on the pillow. It was very white now, and once or twice the mouth
opened, with a slight gasp ; once the face twitched, and half turned on the
pillow ; she had to wait before the next breath came ; then it paused again ;

    THE CHILDHOOD OF LUCY NEWCOME                      57

then, with an effort, there was another breath ; then a long pause, a very slow
breath, and no more. She was led round to kiss her mother again on the fore-
head, which was quite warm ; but she knew that her mother was dead, and she
sobbed wildly, inconsolably, as they led her back to her own room, where, after
they had left her, and she could hear them moving quietly about the house, she
lay in bed trying to think, trying not to think, wondering what it was that had
really happened, and if things would all be different now.

And with her mother’s death it seemed as if her own dream-life had come
suddenly to an end, and a new, more desolate, more practical life had begun,
out of which she could not look any great distance. After the black darkness
of those first few days : the coming of the undertakers, the hammering down
of the coffin, the slow drive to the graveside, the wreath of white flowers which
she shed, white flower by white flower, upon the shining case of wood lying at
the bottom of a great pit, in which her mother was to be covered up to stay
there for ever ; after those first days of merely dull misery, broken by a few
wild outbursts of tears, she accepted this new life into which she had come, as
she accepted the black clothes which Linda, the servant, now more a friend than
ever, had had made for her. Her father could no longer bear to sleep in the
room in which his wife had died, so Lucy gave up her own room to him, and
moved into the room that had been her mother’s ; and it seemed to bring her
closer to her mother to sleep there. She thought of her mother very often, and
very sadly, but the remembrance of those almost last words to her, those
solemn words on her twelfth birthday, that she was to look after her father as
her mother had looked after him, and never let him want for anything, helped
her to meet every day bravely, because every day brought some definite thing
for her to do. She felt years and years older, and quietly ready for whatever
was now likely to happen.

For a little while she saw more of her father, for they had their mid-day
meal together now, and she used to come and sit at the table when he was
having his nine o’clock meat supper, with which he had always indulged
himself, even when there was very little in the house for the others. He still
took it, and his claret with it, which the doctor had ordered him to take ; but
he took it with scantier and scantier appetite ; talking less over his wine, and
falling into a strange brooding listlessness. During his wife’s illness he had
let his affairs drift ; and the society of which he was the secretary had over-
looked it, as far as they could, on account of his trouble. But now he
attended to his duties less than ever ; and he was reminded, a little sharply,
that things could not go on like this much longer. He took no heed of the

58                              THE SAVOY

warning, though the duns were beginning to gather about him. When there
was a ring at the door, Lucy used to squeeze up against the window to see
who it was ; and if it was one of those troublesome people whom she soon got
to know by sight, she would go to the door herself, and tell them that they
could not see her father, and explain to them, in her grave, childish way, that
it was no use coming to her father for money, because he had no money just
then, but he would have some at quarter-day, and they might call again then.
Sometimes the men tried to push past her into the hall, but she would never
let them ; her father was not in, or he was very unwell, and no one could see
him ; and she spoke so calmly and so decidedly that they always finished by
going away. If they swore at her, or said horrid things about her father, she
did not mind much. It did not surprise her that such dreadful people used
dreadful language.

In telling the duns that her father was very unwell, she was not always
inventing. For a long time there had been something vague the matter with
him, and ever since her mother’s death he had sickened visibly, and nothing
would rouse him from his pale and cheerless decrepitude. He would lie in
bed till four, and then come downstairs and sit by the fireplace, smoking his
pipe in silence, doing nothing, neither reading, nor writing, nor sketching.
All his interests in life seemed to have gone out together ; his very hopes had
been taken from him, and without those fantastic hopes he was but the shadow
of himself. It scarcely roused him when the directors of his society wrote to
him that they would require his services no longer. When they sent a man to
unscrew the brass plate on the door, on which there were the name of the
society and the amount of its capital, he went outside and stood in the garden
while it was being done. Then he gave the man a shilling for his trouble.

Soon after that, he refused to eat or get up, and a great terror came over
Lucy lest he, too, should die ; and now there was no money in the house, and
the duns still knocked at the door. She begged him to let her write to his
relatives, but he refused flatly, saying that they would not receive her mother,
and he would never see them, or take a penny of their money as long as he
lived. One day a cab drove up to the door, and a hard-featured woman got
out of it. Lucy, looking out of the bedroom window, recognized her aunt.
Miss Marsden, her mother’s eldest sister, whom she had only seen at the
funeral, and to whose grim face and rigid figure she had already taken a
dislike. It appeared that Linda, unknown to them, had written to tell her
into what desperate straits they had fallen ; and her severe sense of duty had
brought her to their help.

    THE CHILDHOOD OF LUCY NEWCOME                      59

And the aunt was certainly good to them in her stern, unkindly way.
The first thing she did was to send for a doctor, who shook his head very
gravely when he had examined the patient ; and spoke of foreign travel, and
other impossible, expensive remedies. That was the first time that Lucy ever
began to long for money, or to realize exactly what money meant. It might
mean life or death, she saw now.

Her father now lay mostly in bed, very weak and quiet, and mostly in silence ;
and whether his eyes were closed or open, he seemed to be thinking, always
thinking. He liked Lucy to come and sit by him ; but if she chattered much
he would stop her, after a while, and say that he was tired, and she must be
quiet. And then sometimes he would talk to her, in his vague, disconnected
way, about her mother, and of how they had met, and had found hard times
together a great happiness ; and he would look at her with an almost im-
personal scrutiny, and say : “I think you will live happily, not with the
happiness that we had, for you will never love as we loved, but you will find it
easy to like people, and many people will find it easy to like you ; and if you
have troubles they will weigh on you lightly, for you will live always in the
day that is, without too much memory of the day that was, or too much
thought of the day that will be to-morrow.” And once he said : “I hardly
know why it is I feel so little anxiety about your future. I seem somehow to
know that you will always find people to look after you. I don’t know why
they should, I don’t know why they should.” And then he added, after a
pause, looking at her a little sadly : “You will never love nor be loved pas-
sionately, but you have a face that will seem to many, the first time they see
you, like the face of an old and dear friend.”

Sometimes, when he felt a little better, the sick man would come down-
stairs, and at times he would walk about in the garden, stooping under his
great-coat and leaning upon his stick. One very bright day in early February
he seemed better than he had been since his illness had come upon him, and
as he stood at the window looking at the white road shining under the pale
sun, he said suddenly : “I feel quite well to-day, I shall go for a little walk.”
His eyes were bright, there was a slight flush on his cheek, and he seemed to
move a little more easily than usual. “Lucy,” he said, “I think I should like
some claret with my supper to-night, like old times. You must go into the
town, and get me some : I suppose there is none in the house.” Lucy took
the money gladly, for she thought : he is beginning to be better. “Get it
from Allen’s,” he called after her, as she went to put on her hat and jacket ;
“it won’t take so very much longer to go there and back, and it will be better

60                              THE SAVOY

there.” When she came downstairs, her aunt was helping him to put on his
coat. “Don’t wait for me,” he said, smiling, and tapping her cheek with his
thin, chilly fingers ; “I shall have to walk slowly.” She went out, and turning,
as she came to the bend in the road, saw him come out of the gate, leaning on
his stick, and begin to walk slowly along in the middle of the road. He did
not look up, and she hurried on.

It was the last time she ever saw him. The house, when she returned to
it, after her journey into town, had an air of ominous quiet, and she saw with
surprise that her father’s hat and coat were lying in a heap across the chair in
the hall, instead of hanging neatly upon the hat-pegs. As she closed the door
behind her, she heard the bedroom-door opened, and her aunt came quickly
downstairs with a strange look on her face. She began to tremble, she knew
not why, and mechanically she put the bottle of wine on the floor by the side
of the chair ; and her aunt, though she would always have everything put in
its proper place, did not seem to notice it ; but took her into the sitting-room,
and said : “There has been an accident ; no, you must not go upstairs ;” and
she said to herself, seeming to hear her own words at the back of her brain,
where there was a dull ache that was like the coming-to of one who has been
stunned : “He is dead, he is dead.” She felt that her aunt was shaking her,
and wondered why she shook her, and why everything looked so dim, and her
aunt’s face seemed to be fading away from her, and she caught at her ; and
then she heard her aunt say (she could hear her quite well now), “I thought
you were going to faint : I’ll have no fainting, if you please ; I must go up to
him again.” So he was not dead, after all ; and she listened, with a relief which
was almost joy, while her aunt told her rapidly what had happened : how the
mail-cart had turned a corner at full speed, just as he was walking along the
road, more tired than he had thought, and he had not had the strength to pull
himself out of the way in time, and had been knocked down, and the wheel
had just missed him, but he had been terribly shaken, and one of the horse’s
hoofs had struck him on the face. They hoped it was nothing serious ; he
seemed to feel little pain ; but he had said : “Don’t let Lucy come in ; she
mustn’t see me like this.”

Lucy had been so used to obey her father, his commands had always
been so capricious, that she obeyed now without a murmur. She understood
him ; the fastidiousness which was part of his affection, and which made him
refuse to be seen, by those he loved, under a disfigurement which time would
probably heal, was one of the things for which she loved him, for it was part of
her pride in him.

    THE CHILDHOOD OF LUCY NEWCOME                      61

The doctor had come and gone ; he had been very serious, she had seen
his grave face, and had overheard one or two of his words to her aunt ; she
had heard him say : “Of course, it is a question of time.” Night came on,
and she sat in the unlighted room alone, and looking into the fire, in which the
last dreams of her childhood seemed to flicker in little wavering tongues of
flame, which throbbed, and went out, one after another, in smoke or ashes.
She cried a little, quietly, and did not wipe away the tears ; but sat on, look-
ing into the fire, and thinking. She was crying when her aunt came down-
stairs, and told her that she must go to bed : he was resting quietly, and they
hoped he would be better in the morning.

She slept heavily, without dreams ; and the hour seemed to her late when
she awoke in the morning. It was Linda, not her aunt, who came into the
room, and took her in her arms, and cried over her, and did not need to tell
her that she had no father. He had died suddenly in his sleep, and just before
he turned over on his side for that last rest, he had said to her (she thought,
drowsily) : “I am very tired ; if anything happens, cover my face.” When
Lucy crept into the room, on tip-toe, his face was covered. It was a white,
shrouded thing that lay there, not her father. The terror of the dead seized
hold upon her, and she shrieked, and Linda caught her up in her arms, and
carried her back to her room, and soothed her, as if she had been a little,
wailing child.

At the funeral she saw, for the first time, her father’s relatives, the rich
relatives who had cast him off; and she hated them for being there, for speak-
ing to her kindly, for offering to look after her. She was rude to them, and
she wished to be rude. “My father would never touch your money,” she said,
“and I am sure he wouldn’t like me to, and I don’t want it. I don’t want to
have anything to do with you.” She clung to the severe aunt who had been
good to her father ; and she tried to smile on her other uncle and aunt, and on
her cousin, who was not many years older than she was : he had seemed to
her so kind, and so ready to be her friend. “I will go with my aunt,” she
said. The rich relatives acquiesced, not unwillingly. They did not linger in
the desolate house, where this unreasonable child, as they thought her, stood
away from them on the other side of the room. She seemed to herself to be
doing the right thing, and what her father would have wished ; and she saw
them go with relief, not giving a thought to the future, only knowing that she
had buried her childhood, on that day of the funeral, in the grave with her
father.

                                                                        ARTHUR SYMONS.


TWO DRAWINGS BY AUBREY BEARDSLEY

Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy
Carl Maria von Weber

 

HÉRODIADE

(from the French of Stéphane Mallarmé.)

Page with ornament
The Database of Ornament

                                         HÉRODIADE
                        TO mine own self I am a wilderness.
                        You know it, amethyst gardens numberless
                        Enfolded in the flaming, subtle deep,
                        Strange gold, that through the red earth’s heavy sleep
                        Has cherished ancient brightness like a dream,
                        Stones whence mine eyes, pure jewels, have their gleam
                        Of icy and melodious radiance, you,
                        Metals, which into my young tresses drew
                        A fatal splendour and their manifold grace !
                        Thou, woman, born into these evil days
                        Disastrous to the cavern sibylline,
                        Who speakest, prophesying not of one divine,
                        But of a mortal, if from that close sheath,
                        My robes, rustle the wild enchanted breath
                        In the white quiver of my nakedness,
                        If the warm air of summer, O prophetess,
                        (And woman’s body obeys that ancient claim)
                        Behold me in my shivering starry shame,
                        I die!

                                        The horror of my virginity
                        Delights me, and I would envelope me
                        In the terror of my tresses, that, by night,
                        Inviolate reptile, I might feel the white
                        And glimmering radiance of thy frozen fire,
                        Thou that art chaste and diest of desire,
                        White night of ice and of the cruel snow !

                        Eternal sister, thy lone sister, lo
                        My dreams uplifted before thee ! now, apart

68                              THE SAVOY

                        So rare a crystal is my dreaming heart
                        I live in a monotonous land alone,
                        And all about me lives but in mine own
                        Image, the idolatrous mirror of my pride,
                        Mirrowing this Hérodiade diamond-eyed.
                        I am indeed alone, O charm and curse !

                                           NURSE.
                        O lady, would you die then ?

                                           HÉRODIADE
                                                                        No, poor nurse.
                        Be calm, and leave me ; prithee, pardon me,
                        But, ere thou go, close to the casement ; see
                        How the seraphical blue in the dim glass smiles,
                        But I abhor the blue of the sky !
                                                                        Yet, miles
                        On miles of rocking waves ! Know’st not a land
                        Where, in the pestilent sky, men see the hand
                        Of Venus, and her shadow in dark leaves ?
                        Thither I go.
                                        Light thou the wax that grieves
                        In the swift flame, and sheds an alien tear
                        Over the vain gold ; wilt not say in mere
                        Childishness ?

                                          NURSE.
                                    Now ?

                                         HÉRODIADE
                                            Farewell.
                                                                        You lie, O flower
                        Of these chill lips !
                                                         I wait the unknown hour,
                        Or, deaf to your crying and that hour supreme,
                        Utter the lamentation of the dream
                        Of childhood seeing fall apart in sighs
                        The icy chaplet of its reveries.

                                                                                       ARTHUR SYMONS.


Count Valmont

From “Les Liaisons Dangereuses”

by

Aubrey Beardsley

THE ISLES OF ARAN

Page with ornament
The Database of Ornament

FOR two hours and a half the fishing-boat had been running
before the wind, as a greyhound runs, in long leaps ; and
when I set foot on shore at Ballyvaughan, and found
myself in the little, neat hotel, and waited for tea in the
room with the worn piano, the album of manuscript verses,
and the many photographs of the young girl who had
written them, first as she stands holding a violin, and then, after she has
taken vows, in the white habit of the Dominican order ; I seemed to have
stepped out of some strange, half magical, almost real dream, through which I
had been consciously moving on the other side of that gray, disturbed sea,
upon those gray and peaceful islands in the Atlantic. And all that evening,
as we drove for hours along the Clare coast, and inland into Galway, under a
sunset of gold fire and white spray, until we reached the battlemented towers
of Tillyra Castle, I had the same curious sensation of having been dreaming ;
and I could but vaguely remember the dream, in which I was still, however,
absorbed. We passed, I believe, a fine slope of gray mountains, a ruined
abbey, many castle ruins ; we talked of Parnell, of the county families, of
mysticism, the analogy of that old Biblical distinction of body, soul, and spirit
with the symbolical realities of the lamp, the wick, and the flame ; and all the
time I was obsessed by the vague, persistent remembrance of those vanishing
islands, which wavered somewhere in the depths of my consciousness. When
I awoke next morning the dream had resolved itself into definite shape, and I
remembered every detail of those last three days, during which I had been so
far from civilization, so much further out of the world than I had ever been
before.

It was on the morning of Wednesday, the 5th of August, 1896, that a
party of four, of whom I alone was not an Irishman, got into Tom Joyce’s
hooker at Cashla Bay, on the coast of Galway, and set sail for the largest of
the three islands of Aran, Inishmore by name, that is, Large Island. The
hooker, a half-decked, cutter-rigged fishing-boat of seventeen tons, had come
over for us from Aran, and we set out with a light breeze, which presently

74                              THE SAVOY

dropped, and left us almost becalmed, under a very hot sun, for nearly an
hour, where we were passed by a white butterfly that was making straight for
the open sea. We were nearly four hours in crossing, and we had time to
read all that needed reading of “Grania,” Miss Emily Lawless’s novel, which
is supposed to be the classic of the islands ; and to study our maps, and to
catch one mackerel. But I found most to my mind this passage from Roderic
O’Flaherty’s “Chorographical Description of West or H-lar Connaught,”
which in its quaint, minute seventeenth-century prose, told me more about
what I was going to see than everything else that I read then or after on
the subject of these islands. “The soile,” he tells us, “is almost paved
over with stones, soe as, in some places, nothing is to be seen but large
stones with wide openings between them, where cattle break their legs.
Scarce any other stones there but limestones, and marble fit for tomb-
stones, chymney mantle trees, and high crosses. Among these stones is very
sweet pasture, so that beefe, veal, mutton are better and earlyer in season here,
then elsewhere ; and of late there is plenty of cheese, and tillage mucking, and
corn is the same with the sea side tract. In some places the plow goes. On
the shore grows samphire in plenty, ring-root or sea-holy, and sea-cabbage.
Here are Cornish choughs, with red legs and bills. Here are ayries of hawkes,
and birds which never fly but over the sea ; and, therefore, are used to be
eaten on fasting days : to catch which, people goe down, with ropes tyed about
them, into the caves of cliffts by night, and with a candle light kill abundance
of them. Here are severall wells and pooles, yet in extraordinary dry weather,
people must turn their cattell out of the islands, and the corn failes. They
have noe fuell but cow-dung dryed with the sun, unless they bring turf in from
the western continent. They have Cloghans, a kind of building of stones layd
one upon another, which are brought to a roof without any manner of mortar
to cement them, some of which cabins will hold forty men on their floor ; so
antient that nobody knows how long ago any of them was made. Scarcity
of wood and store of fit stones, without peradventure found out the first
invention.” Reading of such things as these, and of how St. Albeus, Bishop
of Imly, had said, “Great is that island, and it is the land of saints ; for no
man knows how many saints are buried there, but God alone ;” and of an old
saying : “Athenry was, Galway is, Aran shall be the best of the three ;” we
grew, after a while, impatient of delay. A good breeze sprang up at last, and
as I stood in the bow, leaning against the mast, I felt the one quite perfectly
satisfying sensation of movement : to race through steady water before a
stiff sail, on which the reefing cords are tapping, in rhythm to those nine

                        THE ISLES OF ARAN                                    75

notes of the sailors’ chorus in “Tristan,” which always ring in my ears
when I am on the sea, for they have in them all the exultation of all life that
moves upon the waters.

The butterfly, I hope, had reached land before us ; but only a few sea-
birds came out to welcome us as we drew near Inishmore, the Large Island,
which is nine miles long, and a mile and a half broad. I gazed at the long
line of the island, growing more distinct every moment ; first a gray outline,
flat at the sea’s edge, and rising up beyond in irregular, rocky hills, terrace
above terrace ; then, against this gray outline, white houses began to detach
themselves, the sharp line of the pier cutting into the curve of the harbour ;
and then, at last, the figures of men and women moving across the land.
Nothing is more mysterious, more disquieting, than one’s first glimpse of an
island ; and all I had heard of these islands, of their peace in the heart of the
storm, was not a little mysterious and disquieting. I knew that they con-
tained the oldest ruins, and that their life of the present was the most
primitive life, of any part of Ireland ; I knew that they were rarely visited by
the tourist, almost never by any but the local tourist ; that they were difficult
to reach, sometimes more difficult to leave ; for the uncertainty of weather in
that uncertain region of the Atlantic had been known to detain some of the
rare travellers there for days, was it not for weeks ? Here one was absolutely
at the mercy of the elements, which might at any moment become unfriendly,
which, indeed, one seemed to have but apprehended in a pause of their eternal
enmity. And we seemed also to be venturing among an unknown people,
who, even if they spoke our own language, were further away from us, more
foreign, than people who spoke an unknown language, and lived beyond other
seas.

As we walked along the pier towards the three whitewashed cottages
which form the Atlantic Hotel, at which we were to stay, a strange being
sprang towards us, with a curiously beast-like stealthiness and animation ; it
was a crazy man, bare-footed and blear-eyed, who held out his hand, and sang
out at us in a high, chanting voice, and in what sounded rather a tone of
command than of entreaty : “Give me a penny, sir ! Give me a penny, sir !”
We dropped something into his hat, and he went away over the rocks, laughing
loudly to himself, and repeating some words that he had heard us say. We
passed a few fishermen and some bare-footed children, who looked at us
curiously, but without moving, and were met at the door of the middle cottage
by a little, fat, old woman with a round body and a round face, wearing a
white cap tied over her ears. The Atlantic Hotel is a very primitive hotel ;

76                              THE SAVOY

it had last been slept in by some priests from the mainland, who had come on
their holiday, with bicycles ; and, before that, by a German philologist, who
was learning Irish. The kitchen, which is also the old landlady’s bedroom,
presents a medley of pots and pans and petticoats, as you pass its open door and
climb the little staircase, diverging oddly on either side after the first five or six
steps, and leading on the right to a large dining-room, where the table lounges
on an inadequate number of legs, and the chairs bow over when you lean
back on them. I have slept more luxuriously, but not more soundly, than in
the little, musty bedroom on the other side of the stairs, with its half-made
bed. its bare and unswept floor, its tiny window, of which only the lower half
could be opened, and this, when open, had to be supported by a wooden
catch from outside. Going to sleep in that little, uncomfortable room, was a
delight in itself ; for the starry water outside, which one could see through that
narrow slit of window, seemed to flow softly about one in waves of delicate sleep.

When we had had a hasty meal, and had got a little used to our hotel,
and had realized, as well as we could, where we were, at the lower end of the
village of Kilronan, which stretches up the hill to the north-west, on either
side of the main road, we set out in the opposite direction, finding many guides
by the way, who increased in number as we went on, through the smaller
village of Kileaney, up to the south-eastern hill, on which are a holy well, its
thorn-tree hung with votive ribbons, and the ruins of several churches, among
them the church of St. Enda, the patron saint of the island. At first we were
able to walk along a very tolerable road, then we branched off upon a little
strip of gray sand, piled in mounds as high as if it had been drifted snow, and
from that, turning a little inland, we came upon the road again, which began
to get stonier as we neared the village. Our principal guide, an elderly man
with long thick curls of flaxen hair, and a seaman’s beard, shaved away from
the chin, talked fairly good English, with a strong accent, and he told us of
the poverty of the people, the heavy rents they have to pay for soil on which
no grass grows, and the difficult living they make out of their fishing, and
their little tillage, and the cattle which they take over in boats to the fairs at
Galway, throwing them into the sea when they get near land, and leaving
them to swim ashore. He was dressed, as are almost all the peasants of Aran,
in clothes woven and made on the island ; loose, rough, woollen things, of drab,
or dark blue, or gray, sometimes charming in colour ; he had a flannel shirt, a
kind of waistcoat with sleeves, very loose and shapeless trousers, worn without
braces ; an old and discoloured slouch hat on his head, and on his feet the
usual pampooties, slippers of undressed hide, drawn together and stitched into

                        THE ISLES OF ARAN                                    77

shape, with pointed toes, and a cord across the instep. The village to which
we had come was a cluster of whitewashed cabins, a little better built than
those I had seen in Galway, with the brown thatch fastened down with ropes,
drawn cross-wise over the roof, and tied to wooden pegs driven into the wall, for
protection against the storms blowing in from the Atlantic. They had the usual
two doors, facing each other at front and back, the windier of the two being
kept closed in rough weather ; and the doors were divided in half by the usual
hatch. As we passed, a dark head would appear at the upper half of the door,
and a dull glow of red would rise out of the shadow. The women of Aran
almost all dress in red, the petticoat very heavily woven, the crossed shawl or
bodice of a thinner texture of wool. Those whom we met on the roads wore
thicker shawls over their heads, and they would sometimes draw the shawl>
closer about them, as women in the East draw their veils closer about their
faces. As they came out to their doors to see us pass, I noticed in their
manner a certain mingling of curiosity and shyness ; an interest which was
never quite eager. Some of the men came out, and quietly followed us as we
were led along a twisting way between the cabins ; and the children, boys and
girls, in a varying band of from twenty to thirty, ran about our heels, stopping
whenever we stopped, and staring at us with calm wonder. They were very
inquisitive, but, unlike English villagers in remote places, perfectly polite ; and
neither resented our coming among them, nor jeered at us for being foreign to
their fashions.

The people of Aran (they are about 3,000 in all), as I then saw them
for the first time, and as I saw them during the few days of my visit, seemed
to me a simple, dignified, self-sufficient, sturdily primitive people, to whom
Browning’s phrase of ” gentle islanders ” might well be applied. They could
be fierce, on occasion, as I knew : for I remembered the story of their refusal
to pay the county cess, and how, when the cess-collector had come over to
take his dues by force, they had assembled on the sea-shore with sticks and
stones, and would not allow him even to land. But they had, for the most
part, mild faces, of the long Irish type, often regular in feature, but with loose
and drooping mouths and discoloured teeth. Most had blue eyes, the men,
oftener than the women, having fair hair. They held themselves erect, and
walked nimbly, with a peculiar step, due to the rocky ways they have generally
to walk on ; few of them, I noticed, had large hands or feet ; and all, without ex-
ception, were thin, as indeed the Irish peasant almost invariably is. The
women, too, for the most part, were thin, and had the same long faces, often
regular, with straight eyebrows and steady eyes, not readily changing ex-

78                              THE SAVOY

pression ; they hold themselves well, a little like men, whom, indeed, they
somewhat resemble in figure. As I saw them, leaning motionless against their
doors, walking with their deliberateness of step along the roads, with eyes in
which there was no wonder, none of the fever of the senses ; placid animals, on
whom emotion has never worked, in any vivid or passionate way ; I seemed to
see all the pathetic contentment of those narrow lives, in which day follows
day with the monotony of wave lapping on wave. I observed one young
girl of twelve or thirteen, who had something of the ardency of beauty, and
a few shy, impressive faces, the hair drawn back smoothly from the middle
parting, appearing suddenly behind doors or over walls ; almost all, even
the very old women, had nobility of gesture and attitude ; but in the more
personal expression of faces there was for the most part but a certain quietude,
seeming to reflect the gray hush, the bleak grayness, of this land of endless
stone and endless sea.

When we had got through the village, and begun to climb the hill, we
were still followed, and we were followed for all the rest of the way, by about
fifteen youngsters, all, except one, bare-footed, and two, though boys, wearing
petticoats, as the Irish peasant children not unfrequently do, for economy,
when they are young enough not to resent it. Our guide, the elderly man
with the flaxen curls, led us first to the fort set up by the soldiers of Cromwell,
who, coming over to keep down the Catholic rebels, ended by turning Catholic,
and marrying and settling among the native people ; then to Teglach Enda, a
ruined church of very early masonry, made of large blocks set together with
but little cement : the church of St. Enda, who came to Aran in about the
year 480, and fifty-eight years later laid his bones in the cemetery which was
to hold the graves of not less than a hundred and twenty saints. On our way-
inland to Teampull Benen, the remains of an early oratory, surrounded by
cloghauns, or stone dwellings made of heaped stones, which, centuries ago, had
been the cells of monks, we came upon the large puffing-hole, a great gap in
the earth, going down by steps of rocks to the sea, which in stormy weather
dashes foam to the height of its sixty feet, reminding me of the sounding hollows
on the coast of Cornwall. The road here, as on almost the whole of the island,
was through stone-walled fields of stone. Grass, or any soil, was but a rare
interval between a broken and distracted outstretch of gray rock, lying in large
flat slabs, in boulders of every size and shape, and in innumerable stones,
wedged in the ground, or lying loose upon it, round, pointed, rough, and
polished ; an unending grayness, cut into squares by the walls of carefully-
heaped stones, which we climbed with great insecurity, for the stones were kept

                        THE ISLES OF ARAN                                    77

in place by no more than the more or less skilful accident of their adjustment,
and would turn under our feet or over in our hands as we climbed them.
Occasionally a little space of pasture had been cleared, or a little artificial soil
laid down, and a cow browsed on the short grass. Ferns, and occasionally
maiden-hair, grew in the fissures splintered between the rocks ; and I saw
mallow, stone-crop, the pale blue wind-flower, the white campian, many nettles,
ivy, and a few bushes. In this part of the island there were no trees, which
were to be found chiefly on the north-western side, in a few small clusters
about some of the better houses, and almost wholly of alder and willow. As
we came to the sheer edge of the sea, and saw the Atlantic, and knew that
there was nothing but the Atlantic between this last shivering remnant of
Europe and the far-off continent of America, it was with no feeling of surprise
that we heard from the old man who led us, that, no later than two years ago,
an old woman of those parts had seen, somewhere on this side of the horizon,
the blessed island of Tir-nan-Ogue, the island of immortal youth, which is held
by the Irish peasants to lie somewhere in that mysterious region of the sea.

We loitered on the cliffs for some time, leaning over them, and looking
into the magic mirror that glittered there like a crystal, and with all the soft
depth of a crystal in it, hesitating on the veiled threshold of visions. Since I
have seen Aran and Sligo, I have never wondered that the Irish peasant still
sees fairies about his path, and that the boundaries of what we call the real,
and of what is for us the unseen, are vague to him. The sea on those coasts
is not like the sea as I know it on any other coast ; it has in it more of the
twilight. And the sky seems to come down more softly, with more stealthy
step, more illusive wings ; and the land to come forward with a more hesi-
tating and gradual approach ; and land, and sea, and sky to mingle more
absolutely than on any other coast. I have never realized less the slipping of
sand through the hour-glass ; I have never seemed to see with so remote an
impartiality, as in the presence of brief and yet eternal things, the troubling
and insignificant accidents of life. I have never believed less in the reality of
the visible world, in the importance of all we are most serious about. One seems
to wash off the dust of cities, the dust of beliefs, the dust of incredulities.

It was nearly seven o’clock when we got back to Kilronan, and after
dinner we sat for awhile talking, and looking out through the little windows at
the night. But I could not stay indoors in this new, marvellous place ; and,
persuading one of my friends to come with me, I walked up through Kilronan,
which I found to be a far more solid and populous village than the one we had
seen ; and coming out on the high ground beyond the houses, we saw the end

80                              THE SAVOY

of a pale green sunset. Getting back to our hotel, we found the others still
talking ; but I could not stay indoors, and after a while went out by myself to
the end of the pier in the darkness, and lay there looking into the water, and
into the fishing-boats lying close up against the land, where there were red
lights moving, and the shadows of men, and the sound of deep-throated Irish.

I remember no dreams that night, but I was told that I had talked in my
sleep ; and I was willing to believe it. In the morning, not too early, we set
out on an outside car (that rocking and most comfortable vehicle, which
I prefer to everything but a gondola) for the Seven Churches and Dun
Ængus, along the only beaten road in the island. The weather, as we started,
was gray and misty, threatening rain ; and we could but just see the base-line
of the Clare mountains, across the gray and discoloured waters of the bay. At
the Seven Churches we were joined by a peasant, who diligently showed us the
ruined walls of Teampull Brecan, with its slab inscribed, in Gaelic, with the
words, “Pray for the two canons;” the stone of the “VII Romani ;” St.
Brecan’s headstone, carved with Gaelic letters ; the carved cross and the head-
stone of St. Brecan’s bed. More peasants joined us, and some children, who fixed
on us their usual placid and tolerant gaze, in which curiosity contended with
an indolent air of contentment. In all these people I noticed the same discreet
manners that had already pleased me ; and once, as we were sitting on a
tombstone, in the interior of one of the churches, eating the sandwiches that
we had brought for luncheon, a man, who had entered the doorway, drew back
instantly, seeing us taking a meal.

The Seven Churches are rooted in long grass, spreading in billowy mounds,
intertwisted here and there with brambles ; but when we set out for the circular
fort of Dun Onaght, which lies on the other side of the road, at no great dis-
tance up the hill, we were once more in the land of rocks ; and it was through
a boreen, or lane, entirely paved with loose and rattling stones, that we made
our way up the ascent. At the top of the hill we found ourselves outside such
a building as I had never seen before : an ancient fort, 90 feet in diameter,
and on the exterior 16 feet high, made of stones placed one upon another,
without mortar, in the form of two walls, set together in layers, the inner wall
lower than the outer, so as to form a species of gallery, to which stone
steps led at intervals. No sooner had we got inside than the rain began to fall
in torrents, and it was through a blinding downpour that we hurried back
to the car, scarcely stopping to notice a Druid altar that stood not far out
of our way. As we drove along, the rain ceased suddenly ; the wet cloud
that had been steaming over the faint and chill sea, as if desolated with winter,

                        THE ISLES OF ARAN                                    81

vanished in sunshine, caught up into a glory ; and the water, transfigured by
so instant a magic, was at once changed from a gray wilderness of shivering
mist into a warm, and flashing, and intense blueness, which gathered ardency
of colour, until the whole bay burned with blue fire. The clouds had been
swept behind us, and on the other side of the water, for the whole length of the
horizon, the beautiful, softly curving Connemara mountains stood out against
the sky as if lit by some interior illumination, blue and pearl-gray and gray-
rose. Along the shore-line a trail of faint cloud drifted from kelp-fire to kelp-
fire, like altar-smoke drifting into altar-smoke ; and that mysterious mist
floated into the lower hollows of the hills, softening their outlines and colours
with a vague and fluttering and luminous veil of brightness.

It was about four in the afternoon when we came to the village of
Kilmurvey, upon the sea-shore, and, leaving our car, began to climb the hill
leading to Dun Ængus. Passing two outer ramparts, now much broken, one of
them seeming to end suddenly in the midst of a chevaux de frise of pillar-like
stones thrust endways into the earth, we entered the central fort by a lintelled
doorway, set in the side of a stone wall of the same Cyclopean architecture as
Dun Onaght, 18 feet high on the outside, and with two adhering inner
walls, each lower in height, 12 feet 9 inches in thickness. This fort is
150 feet north and south, and 140 feet east and west; and on the east
side the circular wall ends suddenly on the very edge of a cliff going down
300 feet to the sea. It is supposed that the circle was once complete, and that
the wall and the solid ground itself, which is here of bare rock, were slowly
eaten away by the gnawing of centuries of waves, which have been at their task
since some hundreds of years before the birth of Christ, when we know not
what king, ruling over the races called “the servile,” entrenched himself on that
impregnable height. The Atlantic lies endlessly out towards the sunrise,
beating, on the south, upon the brown and towering rock of the cliffs of
Moher, rising up nearly a sheer thousand of feet. The whole gray and desolate
island, flowering into barren stone, stretches out on the other side, where the
circle of the water washes from Galway Hay into the Atlantic. Looking out
over all that emptiness of sea, one imagines the long-oared galleys of the
ravaging kings who had lived there, some hundreds of years before the birth of
Christ ; and the emptiness of the fortress filled with long-haired warriors,
coming back from the galleys with captured slaves, and cattle, and the spoil of
citadels. We know from the Bardic writers that a civilization, similar to that
of the Homeric poems, lived on in Ireland almost to the time of the coming of
St. Patrick ; and it was something also of the sensation of Homer—the walls

82                              THE SAVOY

of Troy, the heroes, and that “face that launched a thousand ships”—which
came to me as we stood upon these unconquerable walls, to which a generation
of men had been as a moth’s flight, and a hundred years as a generation
of men.

Coming back from Dun Ængus, one of our party insisted on walking ;
and we had not been long indoors when he came in with a singular person
whom he had picked up on the way, a professional story-teller, who had for
three weeks been teaching Irish to the German philologist who had preceded
us on the island. He was half blind, and of wild appearance ; a small and
hairy man, all gesture, and as if set on springs, who spoke somewhat broken
English in a roar. He lamented that we could understand no Irish, but, even
in English, he had many things to tell, most of which he gave as but “talk,”
making it very clear that we were not to suppose him to vouch for them. His
own family, he told us, was said to be descended from the roons, or seals ; but
that, certainly, was “talk ;” and a witch had, only nine months back, been
driven out of the island by the priest ; and there were many who said they had
seen fairies, but for his part he had never seen them. But with this he began
to swear on the name of God and the saints, rising from his chair, and lifting
up his hands, that what he was going to tell us was the truth ; and then he told
how a man had once come into his house, and admired his young child, who
was lying there in his bed, and had not said “God bless you !” (without which
to admire is to envy, and to bring under the power of the fairies), and that night,
and for many following nights, he had wakened and heard a sound of fighting,
and one night had lit a candle, but to no avail, and another night had gathered
up the blanket and tried to fling it over the head of whoever might be there, but
had caught no one ; only in the morning, going to a box in which fish were
kept, he had found blood in the box ; and at this he rose again, and again swore
on the name of God and the saints that he was telling us only the truth ; and
true it was that the child had died ; and as for the man who had ill-wished him, “I
could point him out any day,” he said fiercely. And then, with many other
stories of the doings of fairies, and priests (for he was very religious), and
of the “Dane” who had come to the island to learn Irish (“and he knew all
the languages, the Proosy, and the Roosy, and the Span, and the Grig”), he told
us how Satan, being led by pride to equal himself with God, looked into
the glass in which God only should look ; and when Satan looked into
the glass, “Hell was made in a minute.”

Next morning we were to leave early, and at nine o’clock we were rowed
out to the hooker, which lifted sail in a good breeze, and upon a somewhat

                        THE ISLES OF ARAN                                    83

pitching sea, for the second island, Inishmaan,that is, the Middle Island, which
is three miles long, and a mile and a half broad. We came within easy
distance of the shore, after about half an hour’s quick sailing, and a curragh
came out to us, rowed by two islanders ; but, finding the sea very rough
in Gregory Sound, we took them on board, and, towing the boat after us, went
about to the Foul Sound, on the southern side of the island, where the sea was
much calmer. Here we got into the curragh, sitting motionless, for fear
a slight movement on the part of any of us should upset it. The curragh is
simply the coracle of the ancient Britons, made of wooden laths covered with
canvas, and tarred on the outside, bent into the shape of a round-bottomed
boat with a raised and pointed prow, and so light, that, when on shore, two men
can carry it reversed on their heads, like an immense hat or umbrella. As the
curragh touched the shore, some of the islanders, who had assembled at the
edge of the sea, came into the water to meet us, and took hold of the boat, and
lifted the prow of it upon land, and said, “You are welcome, you are welcome !”
One of them came with us, a nimble peasant of about forty, who led the way
up the terraced side of the hill, on which there was a little grass, near the
sea-shore, and then scarce anything but slabs and boulders of stone, to a
little ruined oratory, almost filled with an alder-tree, the only tree I saw on
the island. All around it were grave-stones, half-defaced by the weather, but
carved with curious armorial bearings, as it seemed, representing the sun and
moon and stars about a cross formed of the Christian monogram. Among the
graves were lying huge beams, that had been flung up the hillside from some
wrecked vessel, in one of the storms that beat upon the island. Going on
a little further, we came to the ancient stone fort of Dun Moher, an inclosure
slightly larger than Dun Onaght, but smaller than Dun Ængus ; and coming
down on the other side, by some stone steps, we made our way, along a very
rocky boreen, towards the village that twisted upon a brown zig-zag around the
slope of the hill.

In the village we were joined by some more men and children ; and a
number of women, wearing the same red clothes that we had seen on the
larger island, and looking at us with perhaps scarcely so shy a curiosity (for
they were almost too unused to strangers to have adopted a manner of shy-
ness), came out to their doors, and looked up at us out of the darkness of
many interiors, from where they sat on the ground knitting or carding wool.
We passed the chapel, a very modern-looking building, made out of an ancient
church ; and turned in for a moment to the cottage where the priest sleeps
when he comes over from Inishmore on Saturday night, to say early mass on

84                              THE SAVOY

Sunday morning, before going on to Inisheer for the second mass. We saw
his little white room, very quaint and neat ; and the woman of the house,
speaking only Irish, motioned to us to sit down, and could hardly be prevented
from laying out plates and glasses for us upon the table. As we got a little
through the more populous part of the village, we saw ahead of us, down a
broad lane, a very handsome girl, holding the end of a long ribbon, decorated
with a green bough, across the road. Other girls, and some older women, were
standing by, and, when we came up, the handsome girl, with the low forehead
and the sombre blue eyes, cried out, laughingly, in her scanty English, “Cash,
cash !” We paid toll, as the custom is, and got her blessing ; and went on our
way, leaving the path, and climbing many stone walls, until we came to the
great fort of Dun Conor on the hill, the largest of the ancient forts of Aran.

Dun Conor is 227 feet north and south, and 115 feet east and west, with
walls in three sections, 20 feet high on the outside, and 18 feet 7 inches thick.
We climbed to the top and walked around the wall, where the wind blowing
in from the sea beat so hard upon us that we could scarcely keep our footing.
From this height we could see all over the island lying out beneath us, gray,
and broken into squares by the walled fields ; the brown thatch of the village,
the smoke coming up from the chimneys, here and there a red shawl or skirt,
the gray sand by the sea, and the gray sea all round. As we stood on the
wall many peasants came slowly about us, climbing up on all sides, and some
stood together just inside the entrance, and two or three girls sat down on the
other side of the arena, knitting. Presently an old man, scarcely leaning on
the stick which he carried in his hand, came towards us, and began slowly to
climb the steps. “It is my father,” said one of the men ; “he is the oldest man
on the island ; he was born in eighteen hundred and twelve.” The old man
climbed slowly up to where we stood ; a mild old man, with a pale face, care-
fully shaved, and a firm mouth, who spoke the best English that we had heard
there. “If any gentleman has committed a crime,” said the oldest man on the
island, “we’ll hide him. There was a man killed his father, and he came over
here, and we hid him for two months, and he got away safe to America.”

As we came down from the fort, the old man came with us, and I and
another, walking ahead, lingered for some time with the old man by a stone
stile. “Have you ever seen the fairies ?” said my friend, and a quaint smile
flickered over the old man’s face, and with many Ohs ! and grave gestures he
told us that he had never seen them, but that he had heard them crying in the
fort by night ; and one night, as he was going along with his dog, just at the
spot where we were then standing, the dog had suddenly rushed at something

                        THE ISLES OF ARAN                                    85

or someone, and had rushed round and round him, but he could see nothing,
though it was bright moonlight, and so light that he could have seen a rat ;
and he had followed across several fields, and again the dog had rushed at the
thing, and had seemed to be beaten off, and had come back covered with sweat,
and panting, but he could see nothing. And there was a man once, he knew
the man, and could point him out, who had been out in his boat (and he
motioned with his stick to a certain spot on the water), and a sea-fairy had
seized hold of his boat, and tried to come into it ; but he had gone quickly on
shore, and the thing, which looked like a man, had turned back into the sea.
And there had been a man once on the island who used to talk with the
fairies ; and you could hear him going along the roads by night, swearing, and
talking with the fairies. “And have you ever heard,” said my friend, “of the
seals, the roons, turning into men?” “And indeed,” said the oldest man on the
island, smiling, “I’m a roon, for I’m one of the family they say comes from the
roons.” “And have you ever heard,” said my friend, “of men going back into
the sea, and turning roons again ?” “I never heard that,” said the oldest man
on the island, reflectively, seeming to ponder over the probability of the
occurrence ; “no,” he repeated, after a pause,”I never heard that.”

We came back to the village by the road we had come, and passed again
the handsome girl who had taken toll ; she was sitting by the roadside,
knitting, and looked at us sidelong, as we passed, with an almost imperceptible
smile in her eyes. We wandered for some time a little vaguely, the amiability
of the islanders leading them to bring us in search of various ruins which we
imagined to exist, and which they did not like to tell us were not in existence.
I found the people on this island even more charming, because a little simpler,
more untouched by civilization, than those on the larger island. They
were of necessity a little lonelier, for if few people come to Inishmore, how
many have ever spent a night on Inishmaan ? Inishmore has its hotel, but
there is no hotel on Inishmaan ; there is indeed one public-house, but there is
not even a policeman, so sober, so law-abiding, are these islanders. It is true
that I succeeded, with some difficulty, and under cover of some mystery, in
securing, what I had long wished to taste, a bottle of poteen, or illicit whisky.
But the brewing of poteen is, after all, almost romantic in its way, with that
queer, sophistical romance of the contraband. That was not the romance I
associated with this most peaceful of islands, as we walked along the sand on
the sea-shore, passing the kelp-burners, who were collecting long brown trails
of sea-weed. More than anything I had ever seen, this sea-shore gave me
the sensation of the mystery and the calm of all the islands one has ever

86                              THE SAVOY

dreamed of, all the fortunate islands that have ever been saved out of the
disturbing sea ; this delicate pearl-gray sand, the deeper gray of the stones, the
more luminous gray of the water, and so consoling an air as of immortal twilight,
and the peace of its dreams.

I had been in no haste to leave Inishmore, but I was still more loth to
leave Inishmaan ; and I think that it was with reluctance on the part of all of
us that we made our way to the curragh, which was waiting for us in the
water. The islanders waved their caps, and called many good blessings after
us, as we were rowed back to the hooker, which again lifted sail, and set out
for the third and smallest island, Inisheer, that is, the South Island.

We set out confidently, but when we had got out of shelter of the shore,
the hooker began to rise and fall with some violence ; and by the time we had
come within landing distance of Inisheer, the waves were dashing upon us
with so great an energy that it was impossible to drop anchor, and our skipper
advised us not to try to get to land. A curragh set out from shore, and came
some way towards us, riding the waves. It might have been possible, I doubt
not, to drop by good luck from the rolling side of the hooker into the pitching
bottom of the curragh, and without capsizing the curragh ; but the chances were
against it. Tom Joyce, holding on to the ropes of the main-sail, and the most
seaman-like of us, in the stern, shouted at each other above the sound of the
wind. We were anxious to make for Ballyline, the port nearest to Listoon-
varna, on the coast of Clare ; but this Joyce declared to be impossible, in such
a sea and with such a wind ; and advised that we should make for Bally-
vaughan, round Black Head Point, where we should find a safe harbour. It
was now about a quarter past one, and we set out for Ballyvaughan with the
wind fair behind us. The hooker rode well, and the waves but rarely came
over the windward side, as she lay over towards her sail, taking leap after
leap through the white-edged furrows of the gray water. For two hours and
a half we skirted the Clare coast, which came to me, and disappeared from
me, as the gunwale dipped; or rose on the leeward side. The islands were
blotted out behind us long before we had turned the sheer corner of Black
Head, the ultimate edge of Ireland ; and at last we came round the headland
into quieter water, and so, after a short time, into the little harbour of Bally-
vaughan, where we set foot on land again, and drove for hours along the
Clare coast and inland into Galway, under that sunset of gold fire and white
spray, back to Tillyra Castle, where I felt the ground once more solid under
my feet.

                                                                                    ARTHUR SYMONS.


“Et in Arcadia Ego”

By

Aubrey Beardsley

A LITERARY CAUSERIE

BY WAY OF EPILOGUE

Page with ornament
The Database of Ornament

IT was in the autumn of last year, that, at the request of
Mr. Smithers, I undertook to form and edit a new magazine.
As this magazine was to contain not only literature but
illustration, I immediately went to Mr. Beardsley, whom I
looked upon as the most individual and expressive draughts-
man of our time, and secured his cordial co-operation. I
then got together some of the writers, especially the younger writers, whose
work seemed to me most personal and accomplished ; deliberately choosing
them from as many “schools” as possible. Out of the immense quantity of
unsolicited material which came to me, very little was of any value ; a few
manuscripts and drawings, however, I was able to make us of. I wish here to
return thanks, most gratefully, to all those writers and artists who have helped
me, with such invariable kindness, and with such invaluable assistance.

Many things that I had hoped to do I have not done ; I have done a few
things that I did not intend to do. For these failures I blame partly myself,
partly circumstances. It is not given to anyone in this world to achieve
anything entirely to his satisfaction ; or only to those who aim low. I
aimed high.

Yes, I admit it, all those intentions which were expressed in my first
editorial note, and which the newspapers made so merry over, were precisely
my intentions ; and I have come as close to them as I could. It is a little
difficult now to remember the horrified outcry—the outcry for no reason in
the world but the human necessity of making a noise—with which we were
first greeted. I look at those old press notices sometimes, in my publisher’s
scrap-book, and then at the kindly and temperate notices which the same
papers are giving us now ; and I find the comparison very amusing. For we
have not changed in the least ; we have simply gone on our own way ; and
now that everyone is telling us that we have ” ome to stay,” that we are a
“welcome addition,” etc., we are obliged to retire from existence, on account

92                              THE SAVOY

of the too meagre support of our friends. Our first mistake was in giving so
much for so little money ; our second, in abandoning a quarterly for a
monthly issue. The action of Messrs. Smith and Son in refusing to place
“The Savoy” on their bookstalls, on account of the reproduction of a
drawing by Blake, was another misfortune. And then, worst of all, we
assumed that there were very many people in the world who really cared
for art, and really for art’s sake.

The more I consider it, the more I realize that this is not the case.
Comparatively very few people care for art at all, and most of these
care for it because they mistake it for something else. A street-singer, with
the remains of a beautiful voice, has just been assuring me that “if you
care for art you don’t get rich.” No, it is for their faults that any really
artistic productions become popular : art cannot appeal to the multitude.
It is wise when it does not attempt to ; when it goes contentedly along a
narrow path, knowing, and caring only to know, in what direction it is
moving.

Well, we were unwise in hoping, for a moment, that the happy accident
of popularity was going to befall us. It was never in my original scheme to
allow for such an accident. I return to the discretion of first thoughts ; after
an experiment, certainly, which has been full of instruction, full also of
entertainment, to ourselves. And so, in saying the last words in connection
with “The Savoy,” which now ends its year’s existence, I have the pleasure to
announce that in our next venture we are going to make no attempt to be
popular. We shall make our appearance twice only in the year ; our volumes
will be larger in size, better produced, and they will cost more. In this way
we shall be able to appeal to that limited public which cares for the things we
care for ; which cares for art, really for art’s sake. We shall hope for no big
success ; we shall be confident of enough support to enable us to go on doing
what seems to us worth doing. And, relieved as we shall be from the hurry of
monthly publication, we shall have the leisure to do what seems to us worth
doing, more nearly as it seems to us it should be done.

                                                                                    ARTHUR SYMONS.


MLA citation:

The Savoy, vol. 8 December 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/savoyv8_all/