A NORTHERN SEASONAL
THE BOOK OF SPRING
I. SPRING IN NATURE
17 Robene and Makyn
. . .
. . .
By C. H. Mackie.
19 A Procession of Causes W. Macdonald. . Initial by John Duncan.
Tail-piece by W. Smith.
21 Germinal, Floreal, J. Arthur Thomson. Head-piece, Tail-piece, and
Prairial. Initial by W. Smith.
27 Natura Naturans . . . . . . . By Robert Burns.
29 Life and its Science . Patrick Geddes.
39 Apollo’s Schooldays . . . . . . By John Duncan.
41 Old English Spring . Hugo Laubach . Head-piece by W. Smith.
44 Lengthening Days W.G. Burn-Murdoch Initial by W.G.Burn-
47 Day and Night . . Fiona Macleod . Head- and Tail-pieces by J.
49 Cubs . . . . . . . . . By W. Walls.
II. SPRING IN LIFE
51 A Carol of Youth .
. Hugo Laubach.
53 Out-faring . . . . . . . . By John Duncan.
55 Ane Playnt of Luve . Pittendrigh Macgillivray.
56 Four Easter Letters . . . . . . Initial by Helen Hay.
60 The Crows: A Child Gabriel Setoun.
63 Pipes of Arcady . . . . . . . By John Duncan.
65 My Sweetheart . . Riccardo Stephens.
67 When the Girls Come
out to Play . . . . . . . By C. H. Mackie.
69 The Return . . . J. J. Henderson.
THE CONTENTS continued
III. SPRING IN THE WORLD
77 Pastorale Bretonne . . . . . . By Paul Serusier.
79 Spring in Languedoc Dorothy Herbertson Head-piece by Alice Gray.
83 The Casket . . . . . . . By Robert Burns.
85 Awakenings in His- Victor V. Branford. Head-piece by Alice Gray.
91 Junge Leiden: W. Macdonald.
a Spring Trouble
92 La Litterature Nou- Charles Sarolea . . Initial by J. Cadenhead.
velle en France
IV. SPRING IN THE NORTH
98 The Bandruidh .
. Fiona Macleod
. Head-piece by
101 The Anointed Man . Fiona Macleod . Head-piece by Helen Hay.
107 Anima Celtica . . . . . . . By John Duncan.
109 The Norland Wind . William Sharp. . Head-piece by John Ducan.
110 The Land of Lorne Alexander Carmichael Tail-piece by J. Cadenhead.
and the Satirists of
116 Gledha’s Wooing . John Geddie . . Tail-piece by J. Cadenhead.
119 An Evening in June . Gabriel Setoun.
126 Northern Springtime A. J. Herbertson.
129 The Tron and St.
Giles’ . . . . . . . By J. Cadenhead.
131 The Scots Renas- Patrick Geddes. . Tail-piece by W. Smith.
141 Maria Regina Scotorum . . . . By Pittendrigh Macgillivray.
143 Arbor Saeculorum
To all simple peoples in history, as to the
young in every age, the seasons have meant
much : not only marking out the paths of action
and filling the cup of sense, but giving varying
colour to thought and fancy. And even among
us to-day, so slenderly related as we are apt to
be to the primary Nature of Things, it
would yet seem that the most harmonious
lives—seen in glimpses now and then—
are those whose times of effort and of
rest, of growing and of ripening, are in
tune with the seasonal rhythm of the earth.
That is the ultimate system in which we live ; and we
needs must respond to it, however reluctantly, as the
finger acknowledges the heart-throbs and the fjord the tides.
So, at this time, the voice of Spring echoes through us all, and
is felt as a tidal message in the landlocked places of our
being. The evergreen feels it, even. For though its branches
are never bare, it now shares in the fulness of sap that is
given to all things living.
The sun has swept through Aries, the west wind blows, the
showers soften the earth—and behold ! the world is young
again and visionary. The Sleeping Beauty has awaked in
fragrance; Proserpina, escaped from Hades, goes joyously
about the fields, hearing the sprouting of the corn, the rising
of the sap, the tiny clamour of buds new breaking into life.
Some of the Wanderers who went last Autumn have returned
with the sunshine, and the little hills shout for joy. It is a time
of Renascence. And not only do we rejoice because what has
been is again, but we feel that every Spring is the epochal
dawn of a new age. This time of birth is also the time of
variations, when new forms and new habits flow from the well-
head of change.
And so it will be not amiss if we try in the present foreword to
give some hint of what our particular variation may be, what
is our conception of that present from which we start and the
future towards which we tend—unanimously, if in broken
order. For though we are one, we are also many; and
the words and lines which form our book will show how
variously each, according to his or her listening, interprets
the seasonal melody—the true song of the spheres—which we
all bow to.
And first we would say that we do not ignore the Decadence
around us, so much spoken of. If we wished, we could not.
For while at one social level, all the land over, it fills the gaze
with a vision of slums and the hearing with outcries of coarse-
ness and cretinous insanity—at another it is trumpeted as a
boast and worn as a badge and studied as the ultimate syllable
of this world’s wisdom. So many clever writers emulously
working in a rotten vineyard, so many healthy young men
eager for the distinction of decay ! And yet, out of each other’s
sight as those two worlds lie, there is but a step between and
their kinship is unmistakable. A literature of distinguished
style and moral vulgarity is indeed a misproduct of the same
process that gives us in our meaner streets a degeneration of
human type worse than what follows famine. We see also
the restless craving, high and low, for undignified excitement,
the triumphant system of education which is the nationalised
blasting of buds, our science metamorphosed into the man
with the muck-rake, our religion become the symbol of a drifting
ship. All these things we see, if we are for the most part silent
regarding them. It may be that they are a part of us ; for even
from the evergreen the leaves fall singly at this time of greatest
hopefulness. By reaction, at least, and by counter-influence,
we would gladly have our relation to them made certain and a
remembered thing. Nay, already we seem to see, against the
background of Decadence, the vaguely growing lines of a
picture of New-Birth.
And as the evil began in the social and economic sphere, it is
there that we first mark the remedial beginnings of a better
order. A generation or two ago, in an age committed to arid
industrialism and the keenest practice, men happened on a
half-thought which had strayed from science into the market-
place. That thought was the conception of the Struggle for
Existence as Nature’s sole method of progress. It was, to be
sure, a libel projected upon Nature, but it had enough truth in
it to be mischievous for a while. For now the pitiful creed of
individualism—’Each for himself!’—seemed to have gained
unexpected sanction, as a cosmic process. Egoism and reck-
lessness, provided they be on a large scale and out-of-doors,
were evolutionary forces as fair as the sunlight, making ulti-
mately for the welfare of the race. We need not wonder, then,
that the individualist waxed arrogant, that his work prospered,
that he built cities which are a degradation unto this day.
But all error is a deciduous growth : truths and evergreens
only are perpetual. Science, working honestly within its own
region, has perceived in good time how false to natural fact the
theory was, and has lately vindicated for Nature a more logical
method and a nobler character. It has shown how primordial,
how organically imperative the social virtues are; how love,
not egoism, is the motive which the final history of every
species justifies ; how fostering, not ravening, is the pioneer
process in the ascent of life. The practical inference has been
quickly made: that a rule of conduct—’Each for himself!’—
which is not half good enough for the beasts, has but little
relevance to human intercourse and social action.
And thus the good sense and sympathies of the best men and
women are no longer at heresy with the accredited teaching of
their time. A communal quickening of the conscience is one
of the most marked notes of recent history : that, and a grow-
ing faith in the value of all good precedents, an increasing
confidence that one man’s gain need not for ever be another
man’s loss. Experiments in co-operation have been an effec-
tive object-lesson in citizenship ; the union of workers is
rapidly passing beyond its earlier character as a mere article
of war. And this had need to be so. For the social organism
must integrate, or perish of its own energies : and our hope
can never be in any banding together which shall merely make
bread and butter cheaper, still less in any massing of similar
interests which shall enable a legion to triumph over a
phalanx, or a city to prosper at the expense of a shire. Least
of all with the desperadoes of chimerical reform can we have
anything to do. Our trust is rather in following a subtler
indication which Nature gives to those who study her domestic
economy : by trying to bring the most diverse interests under
the dominance of a common civic ideal, in what to naturalists
is known as a Symbiosis—in which the strength of one shall
call forth, instead of cancelling, the strength of the other, in
which each shall have his place, and even his privileges un-
grudged, but shall feel that he has them through and for all.
A second way of escape we are reminded of now, when we
throw our windows open to the morning air. The time of
the singing of birds has come, and in the city precincts a
thousand voices are gossiping of green fields beyond, calling
upon us to go out into the country. The decadent of idleness
is putting his yacht in trim, the decadent of another order now
buys to himself a singing bird — a pathetic act, surely, to make
the angels weep ! Both are witnesses to one truth, and it is
an old one: that Nature, whether you drive her out with a
pitchfork or with material progress, never ceases trying to
come back. We can never quite lose a kindly feeling towards
the old memories and the old menage of the race, unless our-
selves be lost altogether. The desire of them is an organic
inheritance of the heart, and the need of them haunts our
spirit in every generation. We are wont enough to look for
health in the rural ways of living to which all our pedigrees so
quickly revert ; but we do not consider that our ways of think-
ing, also, would be saner and more wholesome if we listened
to the counsel of the birds, or drew an inference from the
trees in the city square :—
Can such delights be in the street
And open fields, and we not see ‘t ?
Come, we ‘ll abroad : and let’s obey
The proclamation made for May ! ‘
From urban to rural, from fever to fresh air—that may fitly be
the second rallying-word of Renascence.
And let no one too promptly construe our saying, or accuse us
of ignoring the forces which bind men to their fate. Cities
there are and must be, and it is in cities that much of to-day’s
work and breadwinning must needs be done. But a more
open route from town to country is surely not beyond achiev-
ing, nor is it necessary that all the travelling should tend
for ever one way. People might at least be kept from for-
getting that the fields are still under the open sky, that the
occupations of Adam still go on, that the nature of things and
man’s relation to the earth have a creation freshness still, some
ten miles from town. Of the moral value of even such know-
ledge as that, and of the present-day need for it, many things
might be said. But here we shall rather say that the means
of salvation lie not in any unhoped migration to the solitary
places of the land, but in a transformation of the populous
centres. While the town grows year by year in our heart’s
despite, we can determine in some degree the aspects it shall
take. Spaces may be left for the sunlight to fill, trees may
redeem the dismal street, fit architecture call forth the pride of
citizenship. Some sylvan graces may brave the vicinage of the
factory, and the cultivation of flowers become a school of
manners. So we may draw a little nearer to the City Beautiful
—the rural town—in which joy inhabits, and righteousness has
a chance of increase.
And we have many cities that are called to a splendid future,
if men were only wise. Before all others there is our own,
unique in the world: ‘A city that is set upon an hill.’ Its
houses are in mourning, and its streets have been washed with
tears ; but it has kept well its brave outlook over sea and land,
its own gifts of sanity and eagerness. Paved with history,
echoing with romance, rich in an unbroken intellectual tradi-
tion—what might not this city become! Meanwhile it sends
forth its sons, there being little for them here to do, and they
are of service in carrying on the wasting business of that
metropolitan life which resembles so much the proliferation of
a cancer. Yet the stirrings of better things are visible here
also ; there are those who do not hesitate to discuss already
the tendencies of the local Renascence as a thing assured.
Howsoever that be, there are many places in the land which
seem marked just now for hope to alight upon. In a vision of
fair cities——Houses Beautiful or about to be—we cannot miss
the grey town in the east, splashed with sea-foam, cinctured
by green fields and the paradise of golfers; nor the city of
industry in the west, mistress of many ships, trafficking with
all peoples ; nor the granite city of the north, cold and clear,
defined into dignity, softened into music. Upon them all is the
flying shadow of a regret, the breaking light of a promise. We
see them—with Durham, York and Liverpool, Manchester,
Bristol, Dundee and Perth—all with a struggling sublimity,
all dishevelled and disgraced, all alive and full of hope !
One thought more. Now is the season of young things, of
buds and seedlings, of lambs and other children. Round the
earth has gone a cry of resurrection, and Life renews itself
from point to point. It was in vain, seemingly, that Autumn
withered and Winter laid waste—for behold! the muster of
young lives, the splendour of fresh energies. The hawthorn
which the hedger stripped, leaving it a gaunt skeleton, is
clothed again with green leaves, and among the leaves is the
shining of blossoms. And looking at the blossoms we are
minded of the Children. Through them also reparation is
unceasingly being made. The dust of life dries up the heart of
a generation, character is fretted out in mean practice, thought
itself is frittered down to cheap expedients and broken views
(for which reason, notice, every vicious age and circle is
addicted to epigram as a means of masking its emotional
impotence, its bankruptcy of generous human qualities). With
all this cheapening, we are driven to think, the moral wealth of
mankind must be dwindling, the common fund will soon be
dissipated, the human average tends steadily downward. But
such fears are fanciful ; against those evil issues there is an
eternal safeguard. For while the love of man and maid is a
daily discovery for some one in town and village, and while the
greater love it leads to supplies the powerfullest motive in life
and the most pervading, human nature can never permanently
forfeit either its dignity or its strength. The higher truths are
in the keeping of every household, while the women educate
and the children lead the Race. Through them in every
generation Nature conserves her good, and returns always to
the standard of normality for a fresh outfaring. We have
reason therefore, when, looking at the Children, we feel that
the blossom is of more purchase than the tree. Another line of
the Renascence must surely be in the right unfolding of these,
in care for the new that is in them, in perfecting their powers,
in teaching them to love, in helping them to learn by living.
This, then, in the Springtime, would be our particular variation,
if only we might achieve it perfectly: to think and to dream,
to rhyme and to picture, in unison with the music of the
Renascence. Of that music we hear as yet only broken
snatches. But in these snatches four chords are sounded,
which we would fain carry in our hearts— That faith may be
had still in the friendliness of fellows; that the love of
country is not a lost cause ; that the love of women is
the way of life ; and that in the eternal newness of
every Child is an undying promise for the Race.
ROBENE AND MAKYN
BY CHARLES H. MACKIE
A PROCESSION OF CAUSES
Sun and wind and swaying trees—
List to the promise of Spring !
Under the bark the bud says, ‘ Hark !
I hear the Cry of the calling breeze.
And the sun is out—I would be
To help in their harbingeing.’
Whispering, musical, pattering,
Earthward cometh the rain.
And the flower below breathes a little
They are breaking the gates of this prison
I must burst my bonds and away from here,
Up to the world again!’
So the flowers come up, and the green leaves spread,
And the south winds warmer blow.
Says the bird on the spray, ‘Upon such a day
Twere no great folly, methinks, to wed:
For the charges are small of board and bed—
And my heart will have it so.’
A PROCESSION OF CAUSES
From the sunlit breeze and the blossoming land
And the bridal singing of birds,
To the soul of youth comes home a truth
That is older than any may understand;
That is spoke in a look or the touch of a hand,
And sweeter than any words.
In the room of slumber and sorrow and snow
Reigns ardour and solace and song.
And the aged once more peep forth o’ the door
To gaze on the sun with an answering glow.
And their thoughts course cheerily to and fro,
As it was when their hearts were young.
For the old god Pan hath taken a wife,
And the whole world shares their mirth.
And all things that be of their company
Are reft of rue and assoiled from strife
By the one great breath of the joy of life
That passes around the earth !
‘GERMINAL, FLOREAL, PRAIRIAL’
These were names given to the Spring months
at a famous time, some hundred years ago,
when men in the April folly of their hearts
dreamed that they could make all things new.
But the new names, which are not without
merit, have passed away with many other
things; the old names remain, and they are
well enough. For is not March a month of
warring, of elemental strife, when the sun
gains his well-assured annual victory; and is
not April indeed the month of opening ? The earth opens and
the seedlings lift their heads, drowsily nodding ; the buds open,
and the leaves unfold; the flowers open, and the newly-awakened
insects visit them: it is the time of opening—of eggs and of
the womb, of the song of birds and of the heart of man.
Nature’s optimism is too strong for man’s pessimism, as the
sun for the frost: the Springtide is irresistible. They bound
Dionysus fast, but as well try to stop the rush of sap in the
vine. Zagreon they cut in pieces, but he had to be put to-
gether again. Gloomy Dis robbed Demeter of that charming
girl Proserpina, but she was too good to lose, she had to come
again out of Hades. Baldur the beautiful was slain with the
wintry mistletoe, but if he did not come to life again, he was
at least well avenged by another of his inexhaustible race.
‘GERMINAL, FLOREAL, PRAIRAL’
Our favourite Dornröschen was pierced by a cold spindle, but
she slept and did not die, and the Prince kissed her awake.
Likewise, in the torrid zone, where the winter conquers by heat,
the Phoenix was consumed, only to rise triumphant from the
ashes of his burning. The Gospel of the Resurrection is
irresistible. The corn of wheat that seems to die brings forth
Demeter has for long been mourning in our midst—a Mater
Dolorosa— seeking her lost child, often angry and terrible,
often plaintive and tearful, veiling her lost beauty without
hiding her deep agony. Yet all the while she has shown the
strong virtue of maternity. For without food or drink, explain
it who will, she has nursed the tender life of Keleos, and
the youth flourishes bravely. The rise of temperature has
quickened the seeds, the ferments have dissolved the hard
stores into soft foods, the very minions of Death— the Bacteria
— have helped to loose the bands of birth, and the seedlings are
rising from the ground. For now the anger of Demeter is
stayed, Proserpina has returned from the kingdom of the
dead, mother and daughter rejoice together. And in a world
where all is so wonderful, ‘so full of death, so bordering upon
Heaven,’ is there anything so wonderful as this meeting of life
and death, as this raising of what we call dead into what we
call living, as this power that plants have to win the sun’s
aid that they may by secret alchemy transmute the beggarly
elements of water, soil, and air into the rich wine of life ? We
can understand the dying Keats saying that of all things the
most beautiful was the growing of the flowers.
Pan, the warm spring breeze, is with us again; and everywhere
we hear his merry pipes. Now he is among the rustling
withered reeds, quickening them to leafage, and setting the
birds a-singing; now he is over the rippling lake, swifter than
the swallow. Yesterday we heard him in the glen, good-
humouredly carrying a naughty cuckoo’s tidings to one of her
many lovers; to-day he roams by the lake-side, and sets the
‘GERMINAL, FLOREAL, PRAIRAL’
daffodils dancing. But his pipes are not always merry, for he
sighs through the gorge and among the crags, where Boreas,
last winter, so ruthlessly slew Pitys, whom Pan loved. See the
God: who ever did? But do we not catch in these floating
spring-webs the fringe of his flowing robe, as men saw it of old
time when they called it Godsamer.
With the piper-major has come all his retinue. For the myths
are all mixed as is the medley of voices; now it is Pan, and
again it is the Pied Piper who gathers life in his train ; now it
is Zephyrus playing with Chloris, and again it is Orpheus whom
none can resist. But the fact at least is plain, and that is what
concerns us; the birds, who went forth wailing, have returned
rejoicing, and whether it be the naughty cuckoo, who has
hoaxed all the poets, or the dove who is morally not much
better, or the stork on the roof-trees, or the nightingale
melodious, or the lark at Heaven’s gate—everywhere from the
orchestra which weekly gathers strength, we hear but one
motif, ‘Hither, my love, here; here I am, here; the winter is
over and gone; arise, my love, my fair one, arise and come
Dornröschen, the Sleeping Beauty, has been kissed awake
again. One after another had striven in vain to win a way
through the barriers which encircled the place of her sleeping,
but at length the Prince and Master came, to whom all was
easy—the Sunshine of the first Spring day. And as he kissed
the Beauty, all the buglers blew, both high and low, the cawing
rooks on the trees, and the croaking frogs by the pond, each
according to his strength and skill. All through the palace
there was re-awakening: of the men-at-arms, whether bears
or hedgehogs; of the night-watchmen, known to us as bats; even
of the carpet-sweepers, like dormice and hamsters—all were
re-awakened. The messengers went forth, the dragon-flies like
living flashes of light, the bustling humble-bees refreshing
themselves at the willow-catkins by the way, and the moths
flying softly by night. I fancy that even the scullery-boy got
‘GERMINAL, FLOREAL, PRAIRAL’
his long-delayed box on the ear, for I saw the snail draw in his
horns as the Cook awoke.
These are the days of youth — of seedlings, buds, and young
blossom, of tadpoles, nestlings, and young lambs. Of which,
as of children, there are two thoughts which one cannot help
The first is a thought of Easter, of the forgiveness of Nature,
of its infinite power of making a fresh start. We saw the vine
robbed of all its leaves—transfigured in their dying—and hard-
bound by the frost; but Dionysus smiled at his captors, and
now the tender vines put forth a sweet smell. We saw the sloe
in winter, bare as a bleached skeleton in the desert; but now
it is covered with white blossom, which we almost mistake for
snow still unmelted on the hills. We saw the hedger strip the
hawthorn till it was pitiful in its nakedness, but now it is
covered with bursting buds, and it will soon be the time of
May-blossom. From amid the withered leaves the wood-
anemones are rocking like foam-balls on a wreck-strewn sea ;
and from the ditches, lately black and empty, the marsh mari-
golds have raised their golden cups to be filled with sunshine.
We wished the birds farewell in Autumn, and now they are
gathering to us again, and every lark that rises voices forth a
promise. We saw the butterflies fade away with the withering
flowers, but once more they suck the blossoms; the shore-
pools and the pond-pools were but a little while ago empty of
apparent life or thickly frozen over, and now each is beginning
to be like a busy city. For as surely as the old things pass
away, so all things are made new; and from what seemed a
sealed tomb life has arisen indeed.
But, if we can express the second thought, it will be seen that
there is a deeper sense in which these are the days of new
things. It is the time of marrying, pairing, and mating; it is
the time of giving birth to new lives; or it is the time when
new lives, begun long since, indeed begin to be. In all these
young lives there is what is new ; no one of them is quite like
‘GERMINAL, FLOREAL, PRAIRAL’
its parents, but each carries with it the promise of better or
worse: in the phrase of the biologists, this is the time of
variations. It may be, indeed, that the newness is simply that
what was of evil in the parents has been forgiven in their
children; but sometimes it is that the little child leads the
race, as was said long ago. It may be, too, that the promise is
never fulfilled, for the playful lamb grows into a very stolid sheep
(man has the way of making young things stolid); the active-
minded chick becomes a very matter-of-fact hen; the ‘ promis-
ing ‘ young anthropoid, a care-worn, ‘abruti,’ and rather cross-
grained ape. Need we draw the moral? The fact— at once
hopeful and tragic—is that the young life is often ahead of its
race. If the promise be fulfilled, then the world makes progress,
and this is Spring.
But come, let us light the Beltane fires and keep the Floralia!
for while Biology is well, to enjoy the Spring is better; and, as
was said by one who knew no winter in his year, or at least
‘To make this earth our
A cheerful and a changeful page,
God’s bright and intricate device
Of days and seasons doth suffice.’
J. ARTHUR THOMSON.
BY ROBERT BURNS
LIFE AND ITS SCIENCE
To some readers, as certainly to some
of our brethren in science, it may seem
a strange thing that we biologists
should make much ado about the
Seasons, and yet stranger that, for-
saking our specialist societies with
their Proceedings and Transactions,
their Microscopical Journals and the
rest, we should be seeking to range
ourselves in pages like these along
with the painter-exponents, the poet-
observers, of the changing year. Nor can we wonder if these
look at such self-invited allies somewhat askance.
In the poet and the artist, with their thirst for actual, their
dream of possible beauty, such keen interest in the Seasons
is familiar and intelligible enough; so, also, albeit in widely
differing ways, in the farmer and the gardener, in the sportsman
and the mariner, in all who, outside the life of cities, have
elected to do rather than to know or feel. As for Science,
one remembers the astronomer and the geographer once explaining
to us the Seasons in some dimly remembered lecture
with their globes; but where should the biologist come in—
the reveller in cacophonous terminology, the man of lenses
and scalpels, the reducer of things to their elements of deadness?
What can he tell us of the seasons, what (beyond the time
of getting this or that specimen) have they to say to him?
For is not the popular picture of the botanist, for instance, that
of a mild yet somewhat mischievous creature, whose chief
interest is in picking flowers to pieces, like the sparrow among
the crocuses? His remaining occupation is supposed to be that
of gentle exercise on holiday afternoons; when, as a kind of
sober academic nursemaid, he has to march out with him upon
his rounds the unwilling neophytes of medicine, each fitly
LIFE AND ITS SCIENCE
equipped, in place of outgrown satchel (so prophetic is nature)
with a small tin coffin upon his back.
His skill these measure by the frequency with which he stops
like a truffle-hunter’s pig,—say rather like a new, a vegetarian
breed of pointer. See him loudly ejaculating in the most
unmistakably canine Latin as he grubs up the unlucky
specimen, as he coffins it with a snap, what the student (as
his manner is) swiftly scribbles down and forgets, as the one
thing needful to know, its technical ‘name’—really of course
its index letter or reference mark in that great nature-catalogue,
which so few consult at all.
Similarly, is not the zoologist a kind of mad huntsman who
slays and grallocks the meanest vermin for his game; or a
child who pricks beetles and hoards shells and boxes butterflies
into lines and battalions; or a pedant who ‘pins faith on a basi-
pterygoid process’? And is not the physiologist the man who
gives electric shocks to frogs, and analyses their waste products?
These appreciations are of course grotesque, but like all
caricatures, they have one side of truth, and that the obvious
one. The fact is that the Biologist has a familiar, a ‘Doppel-
gänger,’ his necessary and hence masterful, often tyrannous
and usurping slave, whose name is Necrologist; and now-a-
days most people know only him. The dead and the abnormal,
being dissonant, are more striking than the living and the
normal which are harmonious; and thus the doings of the
necrological Mr. Hyde attract more attention than those of
the biological Dr. Jekyll. Collection and dissection have their
place, their necessary and ample place, but they are not all,
they are not first. The study of life—the sum of living
functions, and of their resultants-in temperament, in sex,
in variety, in species—is again beginning to claim, and will
again recover, precedence in thought and in education over
that post-mortem analysis of organs and tissues and cells
which has for the present usurped its place. And as teachers
of biology our serious desire and daily work is towards a
LIFE AND ITS SCIENCE
distant revolution, which our pupils’ pupils will accomplish,
though we may never see. When this comes, those learned
anatomical compendia, these text-books of ‘Biology’ falsely
so called, which now dominate every School of Science in the
world, shall be rewritten line by line, and from cover to cover.
We shall have done with beginning with the analysis of dead
structure; Physiology will precede Anatomy, and Bionomics
will precede both. Physiology, too, despite popular and too
authoritative manuals, Huxley’s and the rest, sets out not by
creaking a skeleton, by unpacking the digesting or the circula-
ting organs, not even by observing the sensory or by experiment-
ing upon the instinctive life. Not even with the marvel of the
developing egg, nor with the mystery of seed-bearing in the
flower, does the naturalist begin; but with the opening bud,
with wandering deep into forest and high upon hill; in seeing,
in feeling, with hunter and with savage, with husbandman and
gypsy, with poet and with child, the verdant surge of Spring
foaming from every branchlet, bursting from every sod, break-
ing here on naked rock-face, there on rugged tree-bole till
even these are green with its clinging spray. Day after day he
shall drift on the Sea of Life as it deepens in verdure over
plain, as it eddies and ripples in blossom up the valleys; he
shall keep unslaying watch upon the myriad creatures that
teem upon its surface and crowd within its depths, till they
show him the eager ways of their hunger, the fury and the
terror of their struggle, the dim or joyous stirrings of their love.
He shall listen to the Sounds of Life, the hum of insect and the coo
of dove, the lilt of pairing mavises, the shivering child-cry of the
lambs, till he too must lift up his voice with lover and with poet,
with the greeting-song of the returned Proserpina, with the
answering chant of Easter—Life is arisen! Life is arisen indeed!
All this, quite seriously and definitely, is what we biologists
want to teach him who would learn with us-say rather what
we want him to see and hear, to live and feel for himself. Only
to him, we say, who has lived and felt with Life throughout the
LIFE AND ITS SCIENCE
Seasons, till memories of Nature throng the labyrinths of brain
and tingle the meshes of the blood, has there been any
‘adequate preparation in Elementary Biology’ at all. Only
him would we admit into our winter-palace of museum, its
crypt of laboratory; only him initiate into the perilous mystery,
the alluring mastery, of analysis; only to him who can approach
in contemplation no less reverent, in questioning no less vital
than that of ancient sacrifice and augury, shall the corpse be
opened, the skull laid bare, the magic glass be given, the secret
of decay be told.
For among the initiates of Necrology, he and he only, and
hardly even he, who has first gathered flowers with Proserpine
in her native valleys may ever return to a fuller Spring with
her in the open world again. For the rest, their home is in
the shades; for where the love and the wonder and the
imagination of Life are dead, there remains only unceasing
labour in the charnel-house and ossuary, here to disintegrate
or there to embalm, with only, at best reward, the amassing of
some mouldering treasure, the leaving for the bibliographer
some fragment-record, the winning of some small mummy-
garland upon a tomb.
But for him who has truly been in the greenwoods, who has
met and kissed their faerie queen, the wealth of the museum
palace still lies open; its very crypts are free. Yet with the
Spring her messengers come for him as for the Rhymer of
old; her white hart and hind, unseen of other eyes, pace up
the unlovely street; and he too must follow them back to their
home, home to his love.
As the simplest greetings of ‘good morning’ and ‘good day’
remind us, some sympathy with Nature, some interest in our
fellows, are instinctive and universal. No one but is so far a
Nature-lover and a Season-observer; Spring with her buds and
lambs and lovers, Autumn amid her fruits and sheaves, Summer
LIFE AND ITS SCIENCE
in her green, and Winter with her holly, are all themes as unfail-
ing as human life. Even the best-worn rhymes of dove and
love, of youth and truth, will be fresh song-notes for adolescent
sweethearts till rhyming and sweethearting end. And even the
hardest day’s labour closes sweetly, which can pause at the
home-coming and bathe its weariness in the evening sky.
That the child posy-gathering is a naturalist, the child drawing
out of his own head an artist, the child singing and making-
a poet, are all obvious enough. Obvious, too, are
becoming the general lines and conditions of these developments
up to those children of larger growth whose impressions
have been more richly gathered, more vitally assimilated, more
fully organised, till they appear not as mere crude attempts in
the child, mere fading memories in the adult, but in fresh life
and new form which we call ‘original ‘—discovery, picture, or
poem. And were this the season, we might study the far
stranger (albeit more common) marvels of human failure. For
what is that shortcoming of beauty, common in the human
species above all others? how comes that blunting of sense and
stunting of soul which befall us? How shall we unriddle the
degeneration which the bio-pessimist has shown as well-nigh
overspreading Nature, the senescence which he has proved to
begin at birth?
But from the strange abnormalities we group as ugliness, from
that subtlest arrest of evolution which we once thought as well
as called the Commonplace, let us return, as befits beginners, to
the simple and the natural, the normal and the organic. That
is, to the growth in activity and variety of sensory and psychic
life, the growth of original and productive power, in discoverer,
painter, and poet. Scant outline is indeed alone possible in these
limits, yet every one has this latent in his own mind. The
most inarticulate rustic knows and watches his fields from day
to day; yet here is the stuff of biology. Simple satisfaction in
fresh landscape, notice of at least some aspects of human face
and form can hardly die wholly out of any mind; yet this is the
LIFE AND ITS SCIENCE
stuff of painting. So in the prosaic description of place or
person or event one detects the touch and tinge of literature,
alike in thought and style.
As poetic intensity and poetic interpretation may be true at
many deepening levels, so it is with the work of the painter; so
too with the scientific study of Nature. And here, too, the
extremes of thinker and child meet in the same mind. In
twenty years of microscopic teaching, for instance, the writer
has been rewarded by no such simple and joyous outburst of
juvenile delight in any mortal as he once silently provoked by
pushing his microscope, aswim with twirling Spirillum and
dancing Monads, under the eye of Darwin. ‘ Come here, come
here; look! look here! look at this! they’re all moving!
they’re all MOVING!’ cried the veteran voyager, his deep
eyes sparkling, his grey face bright with excitement; the aged
leader of the century’s science again a child who ‘sees the
wheels go wound.’
The naturalist, as compared with his artist and poet comrades,
is generally neither so much of a babe nor so much of a man as
they; but primarily a boy or bird-nester, a hoarder of property
in the old comprehensive schoolboy fashion, before the example
of degenerate adults who specialise upon metal counters and
paper securities had reduced his collecting to postage-stamps.
Yet the naturalist, too, attains manhood upon the plane of
intellect; and if his museum of accumulated wealth be not too
much for him, he may gain new strength by systematising and
organising it. Thus on the more abstract and philosophic side
develops the systematist and thinker like Linmeus, on the
more concrete and artistic the encyclopedist and stylist like
Buffon. Each too in his way, in his world-museum and garden
of life, is an Adam naming and describing the creatures.
From these great treasure-houses and libraries of the science
the naturalist, too, may go out into the world not only to search
and discover and collect, but to labour also. His level of action
is primarily of a humbler and more fundamental sort than that
LIFE AND ITS SCIENCE
of his artist comrades. Fishery and rustic labour are to his
hand, he learns to dredge and to sow; forests, too, he may plant
and tend. By-and-by, in ordered park and garden great, he even
attains to artistic expression, and this upon a scale vaster than
that of cities; he transforms Nature, shaping herself and not
her mere image. Then strengthened and suppled in mind no
less than in body he returns to his science with fresh questions
and problems and perplexities, yet richer in resources, more
fertile in devices for solving them. From the slight modifica-
tion of certain forms of life by domestication and culture, from
the breeding and selecting with farmer and fancier, he gains
fresh light upon the problem of evolution; Darwin’s, of course,
being the familiar, the classic case, but not the only or the final
one. But again riddles multiply, and even those that seemed
solved a few years ago appear anew from fresh sides and in
slightly altered forms. Again he must observe and ponder,
again also return to practice; and beyond the comparatively
limited range of domesticated animals and plants he needs
wider and more thorough observations. In course of these he
must rear under known conditions in laboratory and garden,
in field and farmyard, all manner of living things, low and
high, wild and tame, useful and malignant—and pass, in fact,
the life of his whole zoological and botanic garden under fresh
and keener review. This is what we begin to speak of as
Experimental Evolution. It is Comparative Agriculture,
Hygiene, Medicine; and all these with widening range.
Before long it will have its institutes as well as they.
The poet is but a simple poet who does not see that this is no
dead science, but a very Alchemy, a higher Alchemy than that
of metals—the Alchemy of Lif—and that the search for the
Elixir Vitae is indeed again begun.
Already at each stage of its progress the study of man has
thrown light upon that of lower creatures; conversely their
study upon our view of men. The interaction of these kindred
lines of thought is even now entering a new and fuller
LIFE AND ITS SCIENCE
phase, and a higher series of scientific institutes, those of the
Experimental Evolution of Man, are thus logically necessary.
These indeed are already to hand: asylum and hospital, prison,
workhouse and school, orphanage and university (to name
only the more obvious groups), are not far to seek. Each, too,
has been changing its purpose and ideal within the past
century, from the initial ones which were practically little more
than of social rubbish-heaps into which society could more or
less mercifully shoot its senile, diseased, or troublesome mem-
bers, or of lumber-heaps for its immature and weak ones.
First, common humanity showed us the festering of these social
sores, opening the way for medicine, as this for hygiene; now
psychology is entering upon school and asylum, even crimin-
ology forcing its way into court and prison; before long a
fuller sociology and ethics will have entered all. The secrets
of evolution and of dissolution of body and mind, the corresponding
interpretations, economic and ethical, of evolution
and dissolution for each type of human society, are thus being
laid bare. And here we may note in passing the scientific (necrological)
justification of much of our contemporary decadent
But the night of pessimism has passed its darkest. Its social
explanation and standpoint remain clear enough. The physical
sciences, their associated industrial evolution, have created a
disorder they are powerless to re-organise-hence progressive
ruin of all kinds, individual and social, material and moral,
to which church, state, and the negations of these, are all alike
powerless to find remedies. But such pessimists overlook an
old saying of the prophets-of Descartes before Comte, doubtless
of old Greeks before these, of older Egyptians before them—
that ‘if the regeneration of mankind is to be accomplished, it
will be through the medical sciences.’
With this regeneration defined as Experimental Evolution, the
prophecy is making a fresh start towards fulfilment. In the
simpler institutes which we call school, college, or the like,
LIFE AND ITS SCIENCE
the problem is to grow good fruit from good or average seed.
In those of a pathological kind (asylum, prison, hospital)
beyond the obvious aim of restoration to a low or average norm
of health, is arising, however, the seemingly more difficult
(perhaps easier) problem, already hinted at—that of Life-
Alchemy, of Redemption. For again we are dreaming of a
Secret of Transmutation, that of disease into higher health,
of baseness into generosity, of treason into honour, of lust into
love, of stupor into lucidity, phantasmagoria into drama, mania
Beyond this there is yet another step of practice; the physician
is bringing experience and method from the hospital into the
service of the home; so in their way are all his brother evolu-
tionists. And thus they begin to discern and prepare for their
immediate task—to cleanse and change the face of cities, to
re-organise the human hive.
For them as for their rustic fellows, the task begins with the
humblest drudgery, the scavenging of dirt, the disposal of
manure. Soon, however, they will grapple with the central
and the supreme Art possible to mortals, the very Mystery of
Masonry itself, which has its beginnings in the anxieties of
calculation and the perplexities of plan, in the chaotic heaps of
quarry, in the deep and toilsome labour, the uncouth massive-
ness of the foundations: yet steadily rises to shelter and sacred-
ness of hearth, to gloom of tower and glory of pinnacle, to leap
of arch and float of dome. With this renewal of Environment,
there arises a corresponding renewal of economic and moral
Function which shall yet be Industry, the renewal and develop-
ment of Life as well—what shall yet be Education. And thus even
painter and poet find, through what seemed to them an irrele-
vant science, new space for beauty and new stimulus of song.
Yet even here the Three comrades have no Continuing city.
For each, for all, the faerie messengers are waiting; and
they must ever return to Her from whom they came.
BY JOHN DUNCAN
OLD ENGLISH SPRING
(Adapted from Harleian MS. 2253. Date, about 1200?)
I. That he will have none of Love.
Lent is come with Love to town,
Blossoms brag of his renown,
All their bliss that bringeth ;
Daisies in the dales
And the sweet nightingales
Each a song singeth.
The throstle cock doth verily know
Away is every Winter-woe
When the woodruff springeth ;
And he sings so wonder-well,
He frights the Winter fleet and fell,
That all the wood ringeth.
OLD ENGLISH SPRING
The rose is ruddy now,
Blossoms blow on the bough
Waxing with will ;
The moon mendeth her blee,
The lily is lissom to see
And the daffodil !
In May it is merry when it dawns
On the leas and on the lawns,
And leaf is light on the lime ;
On the waters the wild drakes
Go seeking of their makes—
For Love lives in the Prime !
Grass grows under sun and cloud,
Women wax wondrous proud
As meseemeth still ;
But my wish hath want of None
Nor would I live all woebegone
For Love that likes me ill !
II. He entreateth the North Wind to send him his Love.
Blow, Northern Wind,
Send thou me my sweeting ;
Blow, Northern Wind,
Blow, blow, blow !
OLD ENGLISH SPRING
I have a Burd in a bower bright
That is seemly unto sight,
And like roses red and white
Are her cheek and hand :
In all the world is none
Fairer ‘neath shadow or sun,
No, never knew I one
So lovely in the land !
Blow, Northern Wind,
Send thou me my sweeting ;
Blow, Northern Wind,
Blow, blow, blow !
THE wind went gently round
to the South, and the sky
hung low and grey and
ribbed like sea sand; and
the frost went suddenly
before the warmth. All
night soft rain fell, and in
the morning the rattle of
the cabs on the stone
streets was heard again,
for the snow had been
wiped clean away. Faint
signs of Spring were discern-
able. The fires heated the
house, and the drafts that formerly
felt piercingly cold were soft and
Mark in his studio felt the Spring in his bones, as the young
grass feels it beneath the ground when it is still far off.
He took his travelling-box and his paints and pencils,
and went away to the North to wait there for the Spring
coming…. On his way he found the wife that had long
been expecting him, and they continued their journey
Far away they went, and left trains and steamers behind them
and travelled over thawing roads, through pine forests and
melting snowdrifts, till at last they made up on Winter and
took sleigh and passed it. Far away they journeyed with the
sleigh and two servants, till they came to a log-hut at the edge
of a great frozen river, set all round with broad lakes and low
hills. There they sat down and the attendants went South
again to their people, and Mark and his wife lived simply and
Not before the sun rose did they waken, and when it gleamed
hot on snow at mid-day they prepared their coffee and went
out to watch Nature their friend putting on her Spring gar-
ments. First of its ornaments were the tiny creeping birds,
delicate and bold, that came travelling from the South, feeding
on invisible food in clefts of bark and fir twigs, making a tasty
living when big birds would starve. Then came the King of
the swans and the Prince of geese, and again they sang on
their lighting, as they had sung before when they left Mark’s
country in the South. And here is their song, so our people
say, and you may play it and sing it till it grows in your mind.
But beware of the melody, lest it make you restless as the
swans, and you become a wanderer, or worse, a would-be
Guileag Eala seinn a ceo
Sa comun grai an cian a trial
Le ceol tha fao an ard na’ nial.1
Great was Mark’s life there, and long the day that Mark and
his wife spent with guns, chasing their fair food. Brown they
became with the glare of the sunlight, with the smoke of their
fires and the cooking. Beautiful they seemed to each other,
so fit were they to their surroundings—so free. Long were the
nights spent, when, their rich food cooked, they rested and
¹ The notes of the swan singing in the mist
With her loved companion travelling afar
With melody that grows in the heights of the clouds.
told each other tales by the burning birch logs. Mark would
then draw pictures in black and white, of the life in woods,
and write of the ways of the creatures they chased in the
daytime. And the best of the pictures of all that he drew,
was that for the frontispiece of the book that he printed; and
that was himself on the hearth with his pipe in his teeth, by
the big open fireplace. And the point of the picture was the
face of his wife asleep on his breast, with the firelight upon it.
. . . . . . .
Warmer the Summer grew—hot and still hotter, till at mid-day
all Nature seemed fainted. More and more life came northwards,
till in midsummer the sweet bells of the cows of the
girls at the Saeter were heard at times clanging sweetly in
the birch woods. Then came the salmon fresh and strong up
the river, and Mark and his wife had choice of food, of fish,
and the meat of reindeer and sweet berries.
Such was their life in the nightless Summer of the far north.
Then the nights came, and the birch leaves grew yellow again.
And the peasants and the sleigh and Mark and his wife
journeyed southwards, further and further South, till
they stopped in London. And Mark printed his
book, and the people read it with pleasure.
W. G. BURN-MURDOCH.
DAY AND NIGHT
BY W. WALLS
A CAROL OF YOUTH
Give songs to the Summer
And carols to Spring;
Greet Love the new-comer
With tabret and string.
Come, crown him with laurel
As poet and knight,
Whose lips are of coral,
Now hillock and highway
Are budding and glad;
Thro’ dingle and byway
Go lassie and lad!
The spink in the hollow,
The laverock above,
The merle and the swallow
Shout pæns to Love.
The mavis is fluting
The song of his mirth;
The breezes are bruiting
It over the earth!
Give songs to the Summer
And carols to Spring,
Greet Love the new-comer—
Our poet and king!
BY JOHN DUNCAN
ANE PLAYNT OF LUVE
O hart, My hart! that gyves na rest,
Bot wyth luve madness dois dismaie ;
For all thingis ellis, ye haif na zeste,
Nor thocht; bot luve may drive awaye.
Deir hart, be still,
And stay this ill,
Thi passioun sall me slay !
O hart, My hart! haif mercie nowe,
On me thi mastir, Sorrow’s selfe :
Fra hir that will na luve all owe,
Desyre na moir the horded pelf.
Deir hart, in pane
Quhy wilt remane?—
Haif mercie on thi selfe !
O hart, My hart! tho’ sche be fair,
As moon bemys quhyte, or starris that schyn—
Tho’all hir partis haif na compare,
It makis nocht, gif hir hart disdeyne.
Deir harte, gyve ease,
Fra luve release
Of ane that is nocht myne.
FROM FOUR EASTER LETTERS
Apparently written from
Athens, about 357 B.C.
‘. . . We spoke to-day in the garden of the
manner in which those feelings are preserved in us
that are made necessary by reason of the relation
which men bear to the world. For while no one
of us is now careful to keep in remembrance those
feasts which our forefathers celebrated at this time,
nor listens with any fear to the ancient teaching
as to the Gods, nevertheless it is in our hearts to be
glad at this time when the earth, the fertile mother of all,
is full of new life. We who have learned from Socrates
would not in any wise scoff at those who find delight in the
tale of Dionysus who broke the bonds of his captivity, or of
Persephone who returned at this time from Hades to make
glad the maternal heart of Demeter, or in any such tales which
are in the minds of all. For whether it be because of some
palingenesis whereby the freshened life of some creature which
lived in past times now stirs again in us, as some would say;
or because we are ourselves stirred in our bodies by the warm
sun, as the Physical Philosophers of the school of Anaxagoras
would say, if they dared to speak : or because the Gods still
have power over us, we know not. Yet when the children
gather flowers or set caged birds free, and when the young
men have their revels, or when some one gives freedom to a
slave, it seems to us fitting at this time, when in the world
a new beginning is being made with things. . . .’
FROM FOUR EASTER LETTERS
From Drondthem in North
Norway ; time, probably 145 B.C.
‘. . . It has been a long winter, and the darkness seemed more
fearsome than I had ever felt. For before Yule my husband
and most of the men went North in their ships, and it was
lonely for the women and the girls. It was lonely for me in my
child-bearing. We have been telling the little ones all the old
stories, — as of Baldur whom the blind Hodr slew with the
mistletoe, and we wept so much when he died that we could
scarce find words to tell of Ali and his revenging of Baldur’s
death. The children were affrighted of the cold snake which
lieth coiled around Brynhild with her treasures, against the day
of her awaking. We girls — for I feel a girl still, and my boy
has not seen his father — used to watch the fire of Odin in
the heavens, and we were glad to know that it was brighter
around the men than with us, for it would help their fishing on
the fjords. But we were more glad when we saw the growing
light in the South at noon ; and now it seems but a short time
of waiting, for the Spring has indeed come. The little lem-
mings have waked from beneath the snow, the reindeer have
come again to eat the salt weed by the shore, the flowers have
risen as though they had waited but for a word, and each lark
that rose yesterday as I walked took from me some of the sore
pain of my longing. … It was then that I was first to see the
brown-edged sails, and the ships were low in the water. Since
it has been as a feast. We lighted fires and danced around
them, nor forgot to lay out gifts to the gods so that they should
not grudge us our great joy. . . .’
FROM FOUR EASTER LETTERS
Written from Jerusalem in the eighth
year of the Governorship of Pilate.
‘. . . Of a truth this has been a sad Passover time, though
many of the fears that were heavy upon us are now forgotten.
Many days we went restless, each one with his hand at his
heart, seeking to ease the pain. For that which we had
dreaded in the days of His sojourn, they did : for they crucified
Him whom we loved. Thereat we had no word and no tear ;
yea, we dared not so much as to look one at another. For we
had trusted that it was He who should redeem Israel from
bondage, bringing a comfort for all her rue, and beauty for
ashes, even as it hath been promised from of old. But now we
were of all men most miserable, save only that we had known
Him. It may be that we were hard of heart, for of a surety
we ever had need of Him, to keep our faith alive, that it should
not wax faint and fail us : but for a time there was none found
to say, “Though they have slain Him, yet will I trust.” . . .
Nevertheless the darkness has passed ; and though we under-
stand not at all, we rejoice daily. For His love was stronger
than death, and He has come among us and been with us again,
walking and talking, even as He was wont hitherto ; and now
is gone but a little while. For we know surely that in the
same wise, howsoever it may seem strange to them that knew
not Him and His love, He will be with us alway from time to
time, to comfort us, even to the end of the world. And as
there hath been aforetime a feast among us at this season,
so we deem that there shall be one henceforth and for ever;
because that the fear of death has passed over and the Lord is
FROM FOUR EASTER LETTERS
Edinburgh, Easter 1887.
‘. . . It had gone hard with my friend. One blow after another
had fallen upon him ; he was left like a tree stripped of its
leaves. My travels abroad had kept me from visiting him,
and it was Easter before I returned. I felt that to knock at his
door was to knock at the door of a broken heart. When I
saw him, I began murmuring some empty words of sympathy,
but when I lifted my eyes to his, and saw his face — quiet,
courageous, and with a new refinement, as if he were looking
at far-off hills— I was minded of two old lines, whose they are
I know not,
Hiems abiit, mœstaque crux,
Lucet in eo perpetua lux.
‘I could only say, “Surrexit.”
‘And he did not misunderstand, for he answered softly, “Vere
THE CROWS: A CHILD POEM
What a famous noise there was
In the morning when I rose !
All the air was hoarse with ‘Caws,’
And the sky was black with crows.
Hundreds circling round the trees
Swooped down on a last year’s nest,
Rose and scattered then like bees,
Swarmed again and could not rest ;
Cawing, cawing all the time,
Till it grew to one great voice,
And you could not hear the chime
Of the school-clock for the noise.
Every garden-bush has heard
Through its tiny twigs and shoots,
And the trees have all been stirred
Right down to their very roots.
Buds of green on branch and stem
Glisten in the morning sun,
For the Crows have wakened them,
And they open one by one.
Last night on the hillside lay
One white patch from Winter’s snows ;
Now it ‘s melted clean away
With the cawing of the Crows.
And a primrose, too, has heard,
Peeping out to nod and talk
From the hedge-roots to a bird
Hopping down the garden walk.
What a famous noise it was
To make the very bushes hear,
And birds and flowers and things — because
The merry time of Spring is near !
PIPES OF ARCADY
BY JOHN DUNCAN
In her eyes of sweetest brown
Love himself hath set him down ;
On her gentle pouting lips
Love hath laid his finger-tips ;
And her cheek, ’tis plain to see,
Love hath kissed to torture me.
Love himself must go in fear
Lest one win this dainty Dear,
Since of all the maids he sees
She, my Sweet, is first to please !
‘WHEN THE GIRLS COME OUT TO PLAY’
BY CHARLES H. MACKIE
For Winter’s rains and ruins are over,
And all the season of snows and sins;
The days dividing lover and lover,
he light that loses, the night that wins;
And time remembered is grief forgotten,
And l”rosts are slain and flowers begotten,
And in green underwood and cover
Blossom by blossom the Spring begins.
ATALANTA IN CALYDON.
SPRING was late in coming, and the flowers, with
hidden heads, wondered sadly if he had forgotten.
Slowly they matured in the gloom of their coverings,
lamenting the days usurped from their short
lives in sight of the sun. Already some impatient
blossoms, betrayed by a fleeting· noon-day warmth,
had ventured forth, but had died with the sunset.
Human folk, too, were faint and fain for change and southern
breezes. Winter had come early and long outstayed his doubtful
welcome. Last Summer seemed weary years away, and all
its sunny memories soiled and dim. The unkind season held
man and beast in joyless case, bound all with cold and tortured
many with the pincers of famine. The merciless north wind
scourged the land, and wrung from men’s hearts a sinister
confusion of cries and threatenings, which he caught up as he
passed and carried abroad. It seemed as if there might be
worse things yet than outcry, and rulers speculated uneasily on
the insanity of hungry men. On a sudden the suspense was
broken, the crisis averted; for Spring the Deliverer came over
the horizon, bringing gladness to Nature and awaking the
good that was in men’s hearts. Warm winds spread themselves
over sea and shore, and routed the loitering fog from
cellar and garret, from wood and glen and airy hill-top. The
flowers burst forth with a little cry of joy that was heard and
repeated by all the friends who lived with and understood
them—by bird and bee and tree and fountain. The battle of
the year had again been won after a stern fight which had been
in secret progress for many weeks. No one had been aware
of the fluctuations of the struggle, the advance, the repulse,
the force of the succourer waxing steadily unperceived; of
anything but the declaratory success. ‘Spring has come in a
day,’ they said.
Who could resist the rare influence of the first Spring morning?
Not Dives nor Lazarus; not the invalid who cannot stir nor
the careless school-boy who cannot rest; not the city clerk
who, strangely dissatisfied with his favourite literature, throws
the paper out 0′ window and enjoys his railway rush and
the unpolluted air; not the loafer who neglects his vocation
and saunters about the roadway with a sudden pleasure in
living and moving, astonishing to himself; not the ‘bus-driver
who has a flower in his button-hole; nor the ploughman who,
seeing so many flowers, might again be inspired to music and
poetry, as ploughmen have been, ere now, on a like provocation;
not even pale-faced Agnes, who has been in the habit of
not noticing things much for a long while now. But this
morning there was an unremarked magic in the air which
made her smile at herself—a little sadly still—in the glass, and
brought her forth from her room singing.
‘You are so gay this morning, Agnes! ‘ said her mother by and
by, with a small tremor that was partly joy and partly solicitude
—and altogether love. Her daughter was tying on a
rather old-fashioned hat with dark green ribbons.
‘Yes, mother,’ said the girl, ‘I suppose it is because ’tis such a
gay morning. Do you know, I believe the Spring has actually
come for good. So I shall first water these hyacinths, and then
off to the fields to look for primroses—for you.’
So Agnes tended the plants, which must have loved her; for
they filled that cottage with more amazing perfume than the
rarest of their kind thought it worth while to give forth in the
King’s palace. Then she tripped upstairs for a packet—a very
tiny packet—of crumpled letters, which she hid in her dress.
This, to be sure, was very foolish j but many of the letters in
that packet were terribly tear-stained, which perhaps accounts
for it. She also brought back with her a shawl, a wonderfully
gay shawl, which she substituted for the faded brown one
round her mother’s shoulders, artfully, without that smiling old
lady being aware of her own transformation. As she set out,
she asked her heart what had lightened it so, and her heart
smiled and said nothing, but insensibly led her to be at one
with everything around. The sparrows were having the first
and most luxurious dust bath of the season, and she understood
and sympathised with their enjoyment. She called back
to the robins, clapped her hands at the singing of the larks,
and strained her hearing to catch the distant cooing of the
wood pigeons. She examined the buds on either hand, and
her walk was a zigzag from hedge to hedge. She had just
discovered a primrose hiding beneath a mossy stone, and was
stooping over it with delight, when suddenly she jerked herself
upright with a little gasp, and with a look in her eyes that may
have been fear, and may have been hope, but was more probably
both. For the postman had entered the lane leading to
the cottage. She thought to turn and fly; but instead, she
walked slowly towards him, in a mist of memories. He put a
letter in her hand. She scarcely noticed it for a moment, then,
with a little cry, carried it to her lips and bounded back with
the speed of gladness.
All this while a train, that had left the city in early morning,
was shrieking rapturously through wood and across meadow.
In one compartment was seated a pale young man about whom
there seemed to float a certain atmosphere, an atmosphere of
Cheapside accountantry, the most artificial—therefore the most
clinging. He was nervous and could not rest; the smart
literature he had brought in such baleful abundance to lessen
the tedium of the journey wearied and even disgusted him.
Something kept prompting him to throw aside his rugs and
papers, and to open both windows to the friendly air without:
but he resisted. Through the first hour he sat unmindful of
the potent influence at work on the world and within him.
He smoked doggedly at cigarettes for which he had little
relish, and glanced over paragraphs of deformed and mirthless
humour, while through his rp.ind there passed, by way of commentary
thereon, choice phrases from the unwritten handbook
of wit and epigram, which all aspiring Londoners must master,
if they would live in the estimation of their fellows. Gradually
he thought more and more frequently of the object of his travel,
and his mind was filled with reflections that kept him grave
and still. All at once a bit of landscape awakened a dear
memory in his heart, and he opened the window and leaned out.
Spring caught him in the act, and metamorphosed him. As
they passed through a copse of young trees a fresh green twig
just managed to caress his cheek. He thrilled as from a kiss.
Larger branches overhead sprinkled him with dew. He felt it
as a baptism. The City behind him now began to appear to
be something happily far away—a black blot on a pleasant
country. It was only a year since it had absorbed him, but
that year stretched in his memory as broad asten. He felt as
if he had never heard a bird or smelt a flower all that time;
never seen the sky!
All his apathy was gone. He was impatient to walk upon the
grass, and passed restlessly from window to window, trampling
heedlessly upon his books and papers; which by and by he
kicked under the seat. A strange timidity, which increased as
he neared his destination, plainly assailed him, and at last he
began a feverish search which resulted in the discovery of two
photographs. One pictured a young woman, beautiful but
loveless, and a little bold; the other a maiden, fresh-looking as
the dawn, with frank true eyes, and hair like sunshine. The
first he looked at a long time curiously, then tore and flung out
of window, muttering to himself, ‘Thank God!’ On the
second was written, ‘From your own sweetheart Agnes,’ and
he kissed the writing: which is a thing, mark you, that very
intelligent young men will do: and his eyes grew soft. His
mind went back to the days of his early homesickness in the
great City. He remembered the fretful letter which had won
from Agnes her portrait with its frank superscription, and he
divined with what hesitating fondness it had been written, as
something rather forward and unmaidenly. He considered his
cruel silences that had steadily lengthened, and the expression
of self-contempt on his face told what he thought of it all now
—the weakness and the folly. Soon afterwards he alighted,
and, as he walked along the fragrant country road, some colour
from pink blossoms began to steal upon his pale cheeks, some
of the glorious yellow sunlight sparkled in his eyes, and his
soul re-echoed the music of thrush and merle. He was hastening
to meet Agnes who, with glowing cheeks and hair that
would not be confined, seemed trying to outstrip the early
swallows. A robin who had been flitting playfully before her,
as robins will, was kept continually on the wing, and abandoned
the pastime as too fatiguing. She walked three steps, ran ten,
and sometimes stood still as if to think; then started off again.
He, on his part, though almost as spasmodic in the order of
his thoughts, commanded a less tell-tale demeanour. He
walked slowly, full of gratitude that Nature should make
friends again so warmly. But sometimes he broke into a
quicker pace, so that the glittering highway went past him
like a dream, and he felt that he was participating with all the
world in his first hour of unselfish revelry. Sometimes, indeed,
he questioned for a moment how Agnes would receive him;
but he held forward steadily, through doubt and confidence.
They met at the entrance to a wooded dell. Their greeting was
shy, even awkward, but happiness was moist in their eyes.
From the bright sunlit places astir with busy life-the whirr of
wings, the bleat of lambs, the low of kine, the continuous hum
of insect traffickers, which brought a curious lightning vision
of Fleet Street to the young man’s mind—the leafy entrance to
the wood looked like the archway of some sylvan chapel.
By a natural impulse they joined hands and silently turned
thither. Sweet-scented hawthorn, charm against witches,
waved them a welcome. Everywhere the bright yellow florets
of the whin sparkled like tapers. Pale primrose and modest
violet were scattered richly over the soft green carpet of the
moss. The wood anemones lay like stars among the shadowy
grass, above which the hyacinth lifted its clusters of azure
bells, and the daisy gleamed at the foot of the giant oaks.
‘Philip,’ said Agnes presently, laying her head against his
shoulder, ‘last year was long and dreary, but it is lost out of
my life,-gone and forgotten now.’
And so there was no more to be said. Instead of trying to
excuse his cruel silence during the delirium of his first contagion
with crowds and folly, Philip led her gently to the old
stone beside the spring among the ferns.
‘Agnes,’ he said, ‘something to-day has happened to me. I
seem to have awakened and found myself ….Do you remember
last Spring?’ He knelt at her feet. ‘ It was here… and
‘Hush!’ whispered Agnes, passing her hand gently through
his hair, ‘I remember, I know, I understand. Why should we
talk about unhappy things? The future is all ours.’
The tender sunshine shone upon the lovers, and youth was all
around. Young trees showered sweet petals on their heads,
flowers smiled to them, birds sang to them, and the Spirit of
the Springtime gave them her blessing. The hours sped by.
And when, with radiant faces, they reluctantly left their bower,
they both by one impulse turned to look back. A starling
alighted with a blithe cry upon the stone seat they had just
quitted. ‘Now I wonder,’ exclaimed Philip, ‘if that is the
same little chap who spoke to us exactly a year ago!’
‘Yes,’ answered the happy girl. ‘It is the same dear friend
who called his good wishes after us—yesterday.’
BY PAUL SERUSIER
SPRING IN LANGUEDOC
What are the signs of the coming of Spring in the South? In
the grey North it is easy to say; the sun returns, the flowers
reappear, the hedgerows and trees clothe themselves in green,
and the time of the singing of birds is come. But in Languedoc
we have lacked none of these. Cypress and pine and olive
have never shed their leaves, the sun has shone even when the
icy mistral blew from the frozen gorges of the snow-clad
Cevennes, and there has been no day on which we could not
pull a handful of flowers. The yellow ragwort, the pink
geranium, the dull grey green spikes of lavender, the red balls
of the butcher’s broom, the livid clusters of ivy berries, and the
strange, beautiful, golden-green spurges have shone in every
lane. Perhaps the morning on which a sleepy lizard looks out
of a cranny in some wall is really the first of Spring. In a few
days a hundred little bright-eyed heads may be counted in
every wall, and Spring is upon us. Each day the little lane we
know best has a fresh flower to show. The yellow flowers come
first, then the white and blue, the delicate rich purple of the
grape hyacinth, the little blue veronica and milk-wort, violets, and
the star-flowers of the wild strawberry. And in a single night,
as it seems, a miracle is wrought. Every hedgerow breaks out
SPRING IN LANGUEDOC
into blossom, white and pink, and the almond orchards cover
the land with a flush of tender colour.
The narcissus is out at Lattes. How wonderful to find oneself
in the long low meadows among them, the tall, sweetscented
blossoms which are scattered as thickly as daisies
on an English sward! They edge the little watercourses,
nestling round the roots of the stunted willows. The air is
fragrant, the sky is cloudless, and the sunshine and the Spring
day stir the blood like wine. To the South, hardly a league
away, is the deep blue of the Mediterranean, glittering and
gay. And dark on the shore rises the deserted abbey of
Maguelone, grey and timeworn, keeping ward amid the
barren dunes—Maguelone, greatly fallen, its good days done.
No sign of Spring there save for the violet wall-flowers
clinging among the grey stones. Life has ebbed away from
it, and left it lonely with the great dead who sleep in its
forsaken aisles. Thither no more come prince and bishop; no
strangers pass that way save a very few. ‘Sunt lacrymae
rerum.’ Even here among the sunny meadows, steeped
though we be in the sensuous joy of the moment, interpreted
to us by the heavy scent of the narcissus, comes a cry from the
Everlasting Past, a rustle of the Wind of Death.
Nevertheless we shall not die but live. A new spirit is abroad
in the world, and around us the whole land is breaking into
song. Not Mistral only, but a host of lesser men, like a choir
of singing birds, are making music because the world is young.
These are the sons, spiritually begotten, of Troubadour and
Minstrel: these keep alive the memory of the ancient glory of
Languedoc and Provence, and of the days when their sweet
rich speech was the courtliest tongue in Europe. It lives still
on the lips of the folk, of the poet, of the scholar; it is quickening
into a richer and fuller beauty, and a day may yet come
when for our love-songs we turn once more to Provence. It is
a snatch of Mistral that yonder lad is humming,
SPRING IN LANGUEDOC
O Magali, ma tant amado,
Mete la tèsto au fenestroun
Escouto un pau aquesto aubado
De tambourin e de vióuloun.
O Magali, me fas de bèn! . . .
Mai, tre te vèire,
Ve lis estello, O Magali,
Coume au pali!
What a simple, confident, lusty song! There is no hint of
weariness, or disillusion or distrust in this new singing-time.
This land is dear to the sun, and it is good to be alive therein.
It is the land of fig and vine and olive, of love and wine and
song. And so we hear anew the refrain of the oldest love-song
we know, ‘The fig-tree putteth forth her green figs, and the
vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my
love, my fair one, and come away.’ Three thousand
years have neither changed nor chastened
the incorrigible heart of Spring.
BY ROBERT BURNS
AWAKENINGS IN HISTORY
Francis Galton has taught us how to measure the strength
of a nation: that is, how to construct a curve, reflecting the
development of those things which make for progress in
physique. Some one will, in course of time, show us how to
measure the mental and emotional, the intellectual and spiritual
life. Then a mathematician will show us how to combine the
hand · curve, the mind curve, and the heart curve into one
composite graphic. That curve, when we get it, will be the
first line of the science of history.
Meanwhile, the fear of statistics is the beginning of nescience.
But even when, in the course of many generations, the statis-
ticians have accumulated sufficient material for an historical
monograph—who will undertake it? Apparently it will have
to be the work of a committee of mathematicians, physicists,
biologists, psychologists, hygienists, statesmen; with educa-
tionists, poets, priests, to look after the higher interests.
Meantime, the benighted inhabitants of the nineteenth century
look into the past and see the ghosts of themselves. And they
call it history. Sometimes they look into the future—for the
same reason that women and some men look into their mirrors.
And this they call prophecy.
What random guesses may be hazarded as to the general
AWAKENINGS IN HISTORY
appearance of the curve of human development—its shape,
its sinuosity, its direction? Suppose it were to coincide with
the curve of Probability! Then the fatalists would rejoice
exceedingly; for it would mean that human history is as the
tossing of dice. It would mean that an infinitude of causes are
at work, neutralising each other by their multitudinous inter-
actions. Thus the elemental problem of History would involve
a complexity far beyond man’s power of investigation at his
present stage of evolution.
There are those who imagine the curve of historical develop-
ment to follow the general law of periodicity. They picture a
series of irregular undulations succeeding one another in a
gradual ascent from zero—the arbitrary starting-point where
the curve cuts the time axis, which an audacious calculator
has fixed at somewhere about 250,000 B.C. The troughs and
crests of the wave would, on this hypothesis, represent periods
of climax and reaction—times of Summer activity and Winter
slumber. The rise from trough to crest would reflect successive
Springtimes in the ebb and flow of the seasonal æons.
It must needs be that Springtime in the life-history of a people
should be associated with a rise in the heart curve. For
when a nation’s fancy turns to thoughts of love—then is the
national Springtime. ‘Twas perhaps in the peerless love-songs
of the Ionic singers that Europe awoke first to mature self-
consciousness. Christopher Columbus stumbled upon a con-
tinent from without: Sappho discovered Europe to itself.
Civilised society ignored it till the Hellenic lyrists chanted forth
their awakening notes. Before this the world had looked on
Europe as a bleak battle-ground of barbarians, where poverty
made the hunters into freebooters and the fishermen into
pirates—a mart where metalliferous ores and skins of wild
beasts might be had in barter for beads and bronze arrow-
heads— a recruiting-ground where cream-skinned slaves could
be kidnapped or purcllased. Such was Europe in the eyes of
civilisation before the seventh-sixth century awakening, albeit
AWAKENINGS IN HISTORY
the epics of the wandering bards might have foreshadowed
untold potentialities in the prematurely-born cities of the
Argive shepherd chiefs. Yet we can hardly blame the lovers
of literature in Memphis, in Babylon, or in Tyre for not reading
Homer. The Iliad was not put in manuscript until Egypt
had passed into dotage at the end of an active life of three-
score centuries or so, and Chaldea and Phcenicia had been
sucked of their life-blood by half-bred Semitic vampires.
Agree then that the Hellenic lyrists and philosophers,—Thales,
Pythagoras, Heraclitus, and the rest,—of the seventh-sixth
centuries B.C., may be viewed as signalising the first breaking
of the European spirit into mature self-consciousness. What
is the place of the statesmen, the generals, the dramatists,
the sculptors, the artists, of the fifth-fourth centuries B.C.—of
Themistocles and Pericles, Æschylus and Sophocles, Scopas
and Zeuxis—are these organic types or freaks of the age? To
say their names is to think of human action—the poetry of
action, the idealisation of action. The head and the heart had
been ripened for action—the hand curve rose and ascended to
a climax. Is it overstraining the seasonal metaphor to main-
tain that with the fifth-fourth centuries we arrive at a season
of blossoming and fruition—to maintain that this period was
the Summer and harvest-time of the first age of the fully-
awakened European zeitgeist?
Purblind gropings after the devious track of Western civilisation
cannot but lead the historian far astray. Between the fifth-
fourth centuries B.c., and the eleventh-thirteenth centuries A.D.,
is an interval of some I500 years. But the time test is no criterion
of the organic difference between the Europe of the one date
and the Europe of the other. The comparison of the Par-
thenon with the Cathedral of Amiens might be the study of
a lifetime; and as the aged investigator stepped into the
grave, it would be his to proudly reflect that he had learned
enough to enable him to understand what a difficult problem
awaited solution. The difference between Plato’s Republic
AWAKENINGS IN HISTORY
and the ideal society of the Holy Catholic Church, is the
difference between x and y—or say between Σδx and Σδy. But
yet amongst the infinitude of divergencies there are some
differences more obvious, perhaps, than others. Plato’s Woman
is a child-bearing man. The Woman of the mediceval church
was a quintessence of the Spiritual Power. And so (like
Holy Mother Church herself) she was a being who gave, in
return for protection and reverence by man, the inspiration
that prompts to right action, and the love that casts out fear.1
Explicitly or implicitly Plato’s Republic was built on slave
labour and was limited by Hellenic exclusiveness. Catholicism
strove to establish a social order in which nor Pariah, nor
Ishmaelite, nor Laodicean, nor Philistine should be found.
And these were to be eliminated by a process not of exclusion
but of inclusion within the circle of the elect. To live without
working, and to work without living, were alike to be rendered
impossible. And the ideal society was to be achieved not by
the strong father-hand but by the gentle mother-heart—that
subtle force of affectionate duty by which the Church then
believed it possible to moralise the actions of public and
private life. To let mother-love have free-play—that is
one rendering of the mediæval claim for superiority of the
spiritual over the temporal power.
The celibate priest was the incarnation of mother-love in the
muscular person of a wise father. He was, or was to be, the
living synthesis of hand, mind, and heart; of the physical, the
intellectual, the emotional; of faith, hope, and charity. Here
was, or was to be, trinity in unity; unity in trinity.
Such were the ideals of the Mediæval Catholic Church. Now
the educational value of an ideal depends on its unrealisability
—no noble man being a hero to his own conscience. So let us
not whip the Church with the gambling Pope and the uxorious
1 The Woman of Catholic chivalry is to be distinguished from the incarnation of Satan,
which Woman was to the early Christian Fathers, and from the idolised divinity which
she was to the Catholic writers and artists of the Renaissance.
AWAKENINGS IN HISTORY
abbot—of whom indeed we should hear less if we were more
instructed in the physiology of Church history, and left its
pathology to the specialists, who could use the knowledge to
advantage. Let us rather count the derelicts of ecclesiasticism
as a standing humiliation to the pride of the individual man,
and a compliment to the idealism of the Church—which is the
What is to be the seasonal interpretation of this period of two
hundred and fifty years (1000-I250 A.D.)?—this period which
gave birth to the seventh Gregory and the third Innocent,
Godfrey of Bouillon and St. Louis of France, St. Bernard
and St. Francis—which achieved the Crusades and the
Gothic Cathedral, Chivalry and the Grey Friars—which con-
sciously and honestly attempted to organise industry, to
moralise society and to govern Europe by an infinite dispersion
of local authority concerted and graduated to culminate and
balance in the final sup remacy of the Holy See? What is the
locus of this quarter millennium in the composite curve of
human progress? And what the direction and behaviour of
the Western curve since the Hellenic ascent?
The legions of Rome, the peace of Rome, her roads, her
jurisprudence, her functionaries—gave to the western world
a oneness, a community of interests which made possible a
common religion, a universal church. The perfected Roman
administration afforded to the Catholic priesthood a model
of organisation without which the Christians might have
remained a dissenting sect amongst a Pagan people.
That which the precepts and examples of the stoical philosophers
had splendidly failed to do, the simple heroism of the
Christian Martyrs accomplished—though at some sacrifice
of principle, it may be, and with some loss of the joyousness of
the nature-worshipper. The heart of Europe was awakened
AWAKENINGS IN HISTORY
to the higher nobility of a religion of justice, mercy, and self-
The free-born farmers of Germany and the sons of the indepen-
dent fisher-folk of Scandinavia, led into the sunny South by
chiefs of towering individuality, broke the chains of Roman
slavery and prepared the ground for the growth of modern
industry with its crops and its weeds—at times like to devour
the crops there!
A rush of Arab shepherds led by religious fanatics against
her southern frontiers, woke Europe out of a prolonged wintry
torpor, brought fresh knowledge of men and things from the
far East, and—strange fate—reopened the long sealed storehouse
of Greek speculation and Greek science.
Thus a long story of awakenings and slumberings, of seed-
times and harvest, of blossoming Summers and fallow Winters,
in the interval between the Hellenic and the medireval ascent.
But the most wide-spread awakening of all was effected by the
trumpet-notes of the Catholic Church. And if the mediæval
mind curve did not rise to the level of Greek times, yet the
mediæval heart curve towered far higher than the Greek
had ever gone. A rise in the heart curve we associate
with Springtime. Thus, mayhap, there is a sense in
which we may look upon the period of Catholic
chivalry as a Spring, part of whose Summer and
Autumn has yet to come.
V. V. BRANFORD.
JUNGE LEIDEN: A SPRING TROUBLE
All the meadowlands were gay
Once upon a morn of May;
All the tree of life was dight
With the blossoms of delight.
And my whole heart was a-tune
With the songs of long ere noon—
Dew-bedecked and fresh and free,
As the un-sunned meadows be.
‘Lo!’ I said unto my spirit,
‘Earth and sky dost thou inherit.’
Forth I wandered, void of care,
In the largesse of the air.
By there came a damosel,
At a look I loved her well :
But she passed and would not stay—
And all the rest has gone away.
And now no fields are fair to see,
Nor any bud on any tree;
Nor have I share in earth or sky—
All for a maiden’s passing by!
LA LITTÉRATURE NOUVELLE EN FRANCE
Trois faits me semblent dominer et résumer
l’evolution litteYaire de ces dernieres anne’es,
faits connexes et qui ne sont au fond que
trois aspects d’un seul et meme fait:
La banqueroute de la philosophic pseudo-
La banqueroute du naturalisme.
La renaissance de l’idealisme.
Et d’abord la banqueroute de la philosophie ‘scientifique.’
Ce sera pour nos petits-neveux un éternel sujet d’ébahissement
quand ils liront l’histoire des idées et leur influence sur la
2e moitié du 19e siècle. — Jamais on n’a défendu avec autant
d’assurance au nom de la raison des dogmes aussi irrationnels,
des théories qui ressemblent d’aussi près à des aberrations
mentales. Jamais on n’a vu pareil dogmatisme chez les uns,
pareille foi de charbonnier chez les autres. Jamais église
catholique n’a exigé de ses fidèles une abdication aussi complète
de leur entendement que ne l’ont fait les philosophies ‘positives’
des Haeckel et des Spencer. Considérez, je vous prie, cette
‘Théorie moniste sur l’Evolution mécanique de l’Univers,’ qui
fait jaillir les clartés de la raison des ténèbres de la nébuleuse
primitive, qui fait sortir la vie de la mort, la conscience de
l’inconscience, le génie de la folie, la psychologie de l’homme
de la psychologie des infusoires, la vertu des grands hommes
des instincts des petites bêtes, la morale de Saint François de
la morale des Boschimans. Et pour accomplir avec un succès
triomphal cette prestidigitation logique, il n’a fallu à cette
philosophie que cette seule et magique formule: variations
infiniment petites sur un temps infiniment long. Et pour
faire accepter ce prodigieux enchainement d’absurdités, il n’a
fallu concéder à cette philosophie que cette première et féconde
absurdité: d’abstraire les antécédents des conséquents, de faire
LA LITTÉRATURE NOUVELLE EN FRANCE
de ces antécédents des Entités existant par elles-mêmes, de
ramasser dans ces antécédents toute la causalité au début de
l’Univers; d’isoler en un mot les causes primitives de leurs
conséquences finales:—n’oubliant ainsi qu’une seule chose c’est
que la vraie nature et le contenu de la cause ne nous apparait
que dans ses effets. —Considérez encore je vous prie cette
‘Classification positive des Sciences,’ qui a voulu dôtroner la
psychologie et qui l’a voulu asseoir sur la biologie comme s’il
y avait rien de commun entre les méthodes d’observation en
biologie et les méthodes d’observation en psychologie, comme
si l’âme humaine pouvait se révéler à d’autres qu’a elle-meme,
. . . comme si elle pouvait être etudiée autrement que par cette
introspection, tant railiée par la ‘philosophic scientifique.’—
Considérez ces ‘déclamations naïves contre l’anthropomor-
phisme’ comme si l’anthropomorphisme n’était pas la condition
et la limite de toute science humaine, comme si nous pouvions
sortir de nous-mêmes et regarder l’univers avec l’oeil à facettes
d’une mouche. Considérez ‘ces déclamations plus naïves
encore et en tous cas plus grossières sur la Révolution de
Copernic,’ sur la terre qui n’est qu’une goutte de boue, sur
l’homme qui n’est qu’une moisissure d’un jour éclose sur cette
goutte de boue, un insecte infiniment petit avec un orgueil
infiniment grand, comme si la Révolution de Copernic pouvait
impliquer une révolution fondamentale de la morale, comme si
la valeur morale et intellectuelle des habitants de ce monde
sublunaire était en raison directe de la masse et en raison
inverse du carré de sa distance de Sirius et d’Aldébaran.
Et considérez enfin, considérez surtout ces lieux-communs sur
l’automatisme animal et humain, sur l’homme qui n’est qu’une
marionnette agitée pour l’amusement d’un Dieu inconnu ou du
Hasard, sur l’âme qui n’est qu’un mécanisme mis en branle
par le monde extérieur et dont les circonstances tour à tour
remontent et démontent les rouages, sur la responsabilité et la
liberté, qui ne sont qu’une illusion attribuant à l’individu les
crimes de sa chair et de ses nerfs.
Ces théories qui furent le viatique de la France pendant un
LA LITTÉRATURE NOUVELLE EN FRANCE
quart de siècle, qui furent acceptées et proclamées par la
littérature naturaliste comme les ‘Premiers Principes’ d’un art
nouveau,— l’on pouvait prévoir ce qui en devait sortir. Et l’on
sait trop bien ce qui en est sorti en effet. Il en est sorti une
littérature maladive, litérature déprimée et déprimante, ceuvre
de névroses et ne pouvant enfanter que des névroses: roman
naturaliste de Zola, roman épileptique des Goncourt, roman
érotomane de Maupassant, ‘Fleurs du Mal’ de Baudelaire,
‘Nevroses’ de Rollinat, scepticisme nihiliste de Renan, et
Evangile de libre amour selon l’Abbesse de Jouarre—et comme
couronnement, philosophie de Taine, machine sociale où Ton
n’entend que grincements de poulies, enfer social où l’on
n’entend que grincements de dents.
Voilà la philosophie qui est finie, ou qui est en train de finir; et
cette banqueroute de la philosophie ‘scientifique’ devait
naturellement en amener une autre, la faillite de la littérature
qui en était sortie et qui se réclamait de la philosophie
‘scientifique,’ comme la philosophie scientifique se reclamait
de la science.
Assez longtemps les ‘Fleurs du Mal’ s’étaient épanouies sur
le fumier de la corruption des Boulevards. Assez longtemps
la littérature avait vécu dans l’atmosphère de la Salpétrière et
des amphithéâtres de dissection. Désormais libre aux Epigones
de Baudelaire de hanter tour à tour les bouges, les hôpitaux
et les sanctuaires et tour à tour de chanter la luxure et la
vierge Marie. La littérature nouvelle a quitté elle quittera
de plus en plus ces bouges et ces hôpitaux pour le grand air et la
lumière. Fini le règne de la Littérature ‘scientifique’ et
‘documentaire ‘ qui n’était en réalité que la littérature brutale!
Fini aussi le règne du Voltairianisme gouailleur et du dilet-
tantisme sophistique. Sans doute les vieux Voltairiens et les
sceptiques sont toujours là: la postérité impuissante de
Renan, M. Barrès, Anatole France et Jules Lemaître con-
tinuent de promener sur toutes choses leur désenchantement ou
LA LITTÉRATURE NOUVELLE EN FRANCE
satisfait, ou résigné ou mélancolique. Sans doute, j’avoue
que l’on reconnaîtrait difficilement l’esprit d’une Renaissance
dans les ‘ Rotisseries de la Reine Pédauque,’ ou même dans les
‘Opinions de Jérome Coignard,’ les deux dernières fantaisies de
M. Anatole France. Sans doute il est vrai encore que les
naturalistes en apparence sont toujours en possession de la
faveur populaire et que le tirage de leurs oeuvres ne souffre pas
une notable décroissance. Mais en réalité, là même— quels
changements ! Et le ‘Maître de Médan’ lui-meme! Quantum
mutatus ab illo! Quelle marche depuis ‘La Terre’ jusqu’ à
son dernier roman! II est allé a Lourdes, il ira à Rome, un
jour, n’en doutez pas, il fera le chemin de Damas. Et quant à
ses disciples d’avant-hier, néophytes de la veille comme ‘ils se
bousculent sur le chemin de Damas!’ Avec quel mépris et
quel dégoût ils se détournent de la contemplation de la Bête et
de la contemplation de leur nombril. Avec quelle inquiétude ils
prètent l’oreille à tous les échos du dehors, attendant la bonne
nouvelle, que cet Evangile s’appelle néo-bouddhisme ou néo-
catholicisme, mysticisme ou théosophisme, hypnotisme ou télé-
pathie! Comme ils se précipitent sur toutes les philosophies,
sur toutes les théories récentes, sur la suggestion, sur les ‘Idées
Forces,’ sur le socialisme idéaliste, sur les systèmes de Guyau ou
de Nietzsche, pour y trouver une conception de la vie et une
direction de leur art. Dans ces écrivains qui ont a un tel degré
le sentiment de leur responsabilité sociale, qui croient avoir
charge d’âmes, qui étalent encore ‘la Bête humaine,’ mais
comme Héracles dtalait la ddpouille du lion de Ndmde, comme
un trophée de victoire de la bête qu’ils ont tuée en eux, dans ces
écrivains investis d’un sacerdoce tout comme naguère le ‘son-
geur,’ Hugo ou le ‘penseur,’ Balzac, reconnaissez vous encore les
Dilettanti de ‘l’Art pour l’Art’? Examinez quelques unes des
ceuvres apparues en ces dernières années. Choisissez les
dans les écoles les plus diverses. Etudiez quelques écrivains
depuis le Rédacteur du ‘Mercure de France,’ ou de ‘l’Ermi-
tage ‘ jusqu’ au Directeur de la ‘Revue des Deux Mondes.’ Je
ne considère pas leur valeur, je ne considère que leurs tendances.
LA LITTÉRATURE NOUVELLE EN FRANCE
Et ne sont-ce pas au fond les mêmes tendances que vous
retrouvez dans le ‘Disciple’ de Bourget, dans les contes de
Villiers de l’lsle Adam, dans les derniers romans de Paul
Margueritte, dans la critique de Brunetière, dans les pré-
dications de de Vogüe, de Desjardins, dans la ‘Vie Simple,’
d’Edmond Picard, dans le théatre de Maeterlinck, et enfin,
‘last not least,’ dans toute la littérature beige qui s’est si
complètement émancipée de la tyrannie des boulevards et si
triomphalement vengée du mépris des boulevardiers! Un
courant européen circule à travers tout cet art naguère
encore stagnant et croupissant. Un vent frais a balayé les
miasmes; vent du large, vent soufflant des steppes de la Russie
et des Fjords de la Scandinavie.
Tel est le fait capital qui s’impose aux étrangers qui veulent
comprendre la littérature francaise d’aujourd’hui, aux Anglo-
Saxons surtout qui ne vont respirer trop souvent que ce que
Louis Veuillot appelait si joliment les ‘Odeurs de Paris.’ . . .—
Et que l’on ne dise pas que ce fait n’est qu’à la surface. Ne se
manifeste-t-il pas à la fois dans tous les domaines: en politique
où s’est faite la concentration des bonnes volontés et la concilia-
tion des vieux partis monarchiques, où les vieilles et mesquines
questions politiques ont fait place aux Questions Sociales?
En religion, où les catholiques ont désarmé et abdiqué devant
la République, où les anti-catholiques ont abandonné les vieilles
méthodes voltairiennes, où en pleine tribune, un ministre pro-
clamait théatralement les exigences de 1′ Esprit nouveau’? Et
que l’on ne dise pas non plus pour se débarrasser de ce fait et
pour en méconnaître la valeur que cet ‘esprit nouveau ‘ est trop
souvent une résurrection de l’esprit ancien, que cette prétendue
Renaissance n’est qu’une exhumation de l’antiquité et des
antiquailles cléricales, que tout ce que l’on a gagné, tout ce que
l’on gagnera sur la philosophie positive, sera gagné, par le
catholicisme et pour le catholicisme, et que ce catholicisme sera
demain ce qu’il est aujourd’hui, ce qu’il était hier, ce qu’il était
LA LITTÉRATURE NOUVELLE EN FRANCE
au siècle de Saint Dominique. Car fût il meme vrai que le
catholicisme dût regagner du terrain, ce catholicisme ne pourra
plus être, il n’est déjà plus ce qu’il était naguère: là aussi les
eaux dormantes sont agitées sous un souffle du Nouveau-
Monde, l’esprit des Manning et des Gibbons. Que si Ton
soutenait quand même que ce renouveau du catholicisme, quoi
qu’il put devenir, serait un recul où un malheur, il faudrait
répondre que ce recul et ce malheur sont imputables uni-
quement à ceux qui ont cru que l’on pouvait détruire une grande
religion par des gaudrioles ou des gauloiseries, ou que l’on peut
détruire ce que l’on est impuissant à remplacer.
Et en vain n’objectera-t-on encore que la réaction contre la
philosophie scientifique est trop souvent une réaction contre la
science, ou comme le disait hier Berthelot ‘un retour offensif
du mysticisme,’ que les jeunes littérateurs, forts de leur
ignorance parlent trop complaisamment de la banqueroute d’une
science dont ils ignorent les premiers rudiments et que leur
paresse se réfugie trop commodément dans une foi de char-
bonnier.—Comme si la science était responsable de la faillite
d’espérances qu’elle n’a pas faites où qu’elle ne pouvait faire,
comme si l’astronomie et les mathématiques étaient solidaires
des excès de la zoologie darwinienne.—Tout cela peut être
vrai, tout cela est vrai, dans une certaine mesure et la récente
controverse qui à mis aux prises en France M. Brunetière et
M. Berthelot et qui a tant ému le monde savant, nous montre
les dangers d’une réaction regrettable. Mais même en tenant
compte de ce qu’il peut y avoir de réactionnaire dans cette
réaction, de dilettantisme, de snobisme et d’insincérité dans
cette invasion de tous le esotérismes, comment malgré tout,
méconnaître ce que la jeune littérature a apporté dans son oeuvre
de sympathie plus large, de souffle plus pur, d’inspiration plus
généreuse et en même temps d’originalité plus intime et moins
extérieure, comment ne pas applaudir à la disparition de la
littérature brutale et de la littérature hystérique, comment ne
pas saluer avec une joie confiante l’art français qui va s’épanouir
et le renouveau qui va fleurir !
With woven green branches
All of the quicken
The Bandruidh waveth
The soft Airs nigh.
Come, air of the mountain, what news of the mountain,
Does the green moss cling to the claw of the eagle ?
THE MOUNTAIN AIR
The green moss clings to the claw of the eagle.
Come, air of the hill-slope, what news of the hill-slope,
Does the red stag sniff at the coming of green?
THE UPLAND AIR
The red stag sniffs at the coming of green.
* The Bandruidh: literally, the Druidess; commonly, the Sorceress; poetically, the Green Lady, i.e. Spring:.
Come, air of the comes, what news of the comes,
Does the hart’s-tongue sprout where the waterfalls leap ?
THE AIR OF THE CORRIES
The hart’s-tongue sprouts where the waterfalls leap.
Come, air of the pine-wood, what news of the forest,
Do the seedlings stir in the needle-strewn mould?
THE FOREST AIR
The seedlings stir in the needle-strewn mould.
Come, air of the braes, what news of the braes now,
Do the curled young bracken unsheathe their green claws ?
THE AIR OF THE BRAES
The curled young bracken unsheathe their green claws.
Come, air of the glen, what news of the birdeens,
Is song on the birds yet, and leaves on the lime ?
THE AIR OF THE GLEN
Green song to the birds now, green leaves to the lime !
My robe is of green,
My crown is of stars,
The grass is the green
And the daisies the stars :
O’er lochan and streamlet
My breath moveth sweet,
Blue lochan so bonnie, brown burnie
The song in my heart
Is the song of the birds,
And the wind in my heart
Is the lowing of herds :
The light in my eyes,
And the breath of my mouth,
Are the clouds of Spring skies
And the sound of the South.
Grass-green from thy mouth
The sweet sound of the South !
THE ANOINTED MAN
Of the seven Achannas— sons of Robert Achanna of Achanna
in Galloway, self-exiled in the far North because of a bitter feud
with his kindred— who lived upon Eilanmhor in the Summer
Isles, there was not one who was not, in more or less degree,
or at some time or other, fey.
Doubtless I shall have occasion to allude to them again, and
almost certainly to the two youngest; for they were the strangest
folk I have known or met anywhere in the Celtic lands, from
the sea-pastures of the Solway to the wrack-strewn beaches of
Lewis. Upon James, the seventh son, the doom of his people
fell last and most heavily. Some day I may tell the full story
of his strange life and tragic undoing, and of his piteous end.
As it happened, I knew best the eldest and youngest of the
brothers, Alasdair and James. Of the others, Robert, Allan,
William, Marcus, and Gloom, none save the last-named sur-
vives— if peradventure he does— or has been seen of man for
many years past. Of Gloom— strange and accountable name,
which used to terrify me, the more so as by the whim of fate it
was the name of all names suitable for Robert Achanna’s sixth
son— I have long known nothing beyond the fact that ten
years or more ago he was a Jesuit priest in Rome, a bird of
passage, whence come and whither bound no inquiries of
mine could discover. Two years ago a relative told me that
Gloom was dead, that he had been slain by some Mexican
noble in an old Spanish city beyond the seas. Doubtless
THE ANOINTED MAN
the news was founded on truth, though I have ever a vague
unrest when I think of Gloom, as though he were travelling
hitherward, as though his feet, on some urgent errand, were
already white with the dust of the road that leads to my house.
But now I wish to speak only of Alasdair Achanna. He was a
friend whom I loved, though he was a man of close on forty,
and I a girl less than half his years. We had much in common,
and I never knew any one more companionable ; for all that he
was called ‘Silent Allie.’ He was tall, gaunt, loosely built. His
eyes were of that misty blue which smoke takes when it rises
in the woods. I used to think them like the tarns that lay
amid the canna-whitened swamps in Uist, where I was wont
to dream as a child.
I had often noticed the light on his face when he smiled, a
light of such serene joy as young mothers have sometimes over
the cradles of their first-born. But, for some inscrutable
reason, I had never wondered about it, not even when I heard
and understood the half-contemptuous, half-reverent mockery,
with which not only Alasdair’s brothers, but even his father at
times used towards him. Once, I remember, I was puzzled
when, on a bleak day in a stormy August, I overheard Gloom
say, angrily and scofifingly,’ There goes the Anointed Man!’
I looked, but all I could see was, that despite the dreary
cold, despite the ruined harvest, despite the rotting potato
crop, Alasdair walked slowly onward, smiling, with glad eyes
brooding upon the grey lands around and beyond him.
It was nearly a year thereafter— I remember the date, because
it was that of my last visit to Eilanmhor— that I understood
more fully. I was walking westward with Alasdair, towards the
end of the day. The light was upon his face as though it came
from within; and indeed, when I looked again, half in awe, I
saw there was no glamour out of the West, for the evening was
dull and threatening rain. He was in sorrow. Three months
before, his brothers Allan and William had been drowned; a
month later, his brother Robert had sickened, and now sat in
THE ANOINTED MAN
ingle from morning till the covering of the peats, a skeleton
almost, shivering, and morosely silent, with large staring eyes.
On the large bed in the room above the kitchen, old Robert
Achanna lay, stricken with paralysis. It would have been
unendurable for me, but for Alasdair and James, and, above all,
for my loved girl-friend, Anne Gillespie, Achanna’s niece, and
the sunshine of his gloomy household.
As I walked with Alasdair I was conscious of a well-nigh in-
tolerable depression. The house we had left was so mournful ;
the bleak, sodden pastures were so mournful ; so mournful was
the stony place we were crossing, silent but for the thin crying
of curlews ; and above all so mournful was the sound of the sea,
as, unseen, it moved sobbing around the isle ; so beyond words
distressing was all this to me that I stopped abruptly, meaning
to go no further, but to return to the house, where, at least,
there was warmth, and where Anna could sing for me as she
But when I looked up into my companion’s face I saw in truth
the light that shone from within. His eyes were upon a for-
bidding stretch of ground, where the blighted potatoes rotted
among a wilderness of round skull-white stones. I remember
them still, these strange far-blue eyes, lamps of quiet joy, lamps
of peace, they seemed to me.
‘Are you looking at Achnacarn?’ (as the tract was called),
I asked, in what I am sure was a whisper.
‘Yes,’ replied Alasdair slowly;’ I am looking. It is beautiful —
beautiful. O God, how beautiful is this lovely world!’
I know not what made me act so, but I threw myself on a heathery
ridge close by, and broke into convulsive sobbings.
lifted me in his strong arms, and soothed me
with soft caressing touches and quieting words.
‘Tell me, my fawn, what is it? What is the trouble?’
again and again.
‘It is you, it is you, Alasdair,’ I
managed to say coherently at
last.’ It terrifies me to hear you speak as you did a little ago.
THE ANOINTED MAN
You must be fey. Why, why do you call that hateful, hideous
field beautiful— on this dreary day, and— and, after all that has
happened ? O Alasdair!’
At this, I remember, he took his plaid and put it
upon the wet
heather, and then drew me thither, and seated himself and me
beside him. ‘Is it not beautiful, my fawn?’ he asked, with
tears in his eyes. Then, without waiting for my answer, he
said quietly: ‘Listen, dear, and I will tell you.’
He was strangely still, breathless he seemed
to me, for a
minute or more. Then he spoke.
‘I was little more than
a child, a boy just in my ‘teens, when
something happened, something that came down the Rainbow
Arches of Caer-Shee.’ He paused here, perhaps to see if I
followed, which I did, familiar as I was with all faerie-lore. ‘I
was out upon the heather, in the time when the honey oozes
in the bells and cups. I had always loved the island and the
sea. Perhaps I was foolish, but I was so glad with my joy
that golden day, that I threw myself on the ground, and kissed
the hot sweet ling, and put my hands and arms into it, sobbing
the while with a vague strange yearning. At last I lay still,
nerveless, with my eyes closed. Suddenly I knew that two
tiny hands had come up through the spires of the heather, and
were pressing something soft and fragrant upon my eyelids.
When I opened them I could see nothing unfamiliar. No one was
visible. But I heard a whisper: ‘Arise and go away from this
place at once. And this night do not venture out, lest evil
befall you.’ So I rose trembling and went home. Thereafter
I was the same, and yet not the same. Never could I see
as they saw, what my father or brothers or the isle-folk
looked upon as ugly and dreary. My father was wroth
with me many times, and called me a fool. Whenever
my eyes fell upon those waste and desolated spots they
seemed to me passing fair. At last my father grew so bitter
that, mocking me the while, he bade me go to the towns, and
see there the squalor and sordid hideousness wherein man
dwelled. But thus it was with me: in the places they call
THE ANOINTED MAN
slums, and among the smoke of the factories and the grime
of destitution, I could see all that other men saw only as
vanishing shadows. What I saw was lovely, beautiful with
strange glory, and the faces of men and women were sweet
and pure, and their souls were white. So, weary and be-
wildered with my unwilling quest, I came back to Eilanmhor.
And on the day of my home-coming, Morag was there— Morag
of the Falls. She turned to my father, and called him blind
and foolish. ‘He has the white light upon his brows,’ she
said of me ; ‘I can see it, like the flicker-light in a wave when
the wind ‘s from the south in thunder-weather. He has been
touched with the Fairy Ointment. The Guid Folk know him.
It will be thus with him till the day of his death, if a duin’shee
can die, being already a man dead yet born anew. He upon
whom the Fairy Ointment has been laid must see all that is
hideous and ugly and dreary and bitter through a glamour of
beauty. Thus it hath been since the Mhic-Alpein ruled from
sea to sea, and thus is it with the man Alasdair your son.’
‘That is all, my fawn, and that is why my brothers when they
are angry sometimes call me the Anointed Man.’
‘That is all.’ Yes, perhaps. But O Alasdair Achanna, how
often have I thought of that most precious treasure you found
in the heather, when the bells were sweet with honey ooze!
Did the wild bees know of it? Would that I could hear the
soft hum of their wandering wings!
Who of us would
not barter the best of all our possessions—
and some there are who would surrender all— to have one touch
laid upon the eyelids, one touch of the Fairy Ointment ? But,
alas ! the place is far and the hour is hidden. No man may
seek that for which there can be no quest. Only the
wild bees know of it, but I think they must be
the bees of Magh-Mell; and there no man
that liveth may wayfare yet.
BY JOHN DUNCAN
The visioned stories read, the book is closed—
The Past has been and shall not be again.
She dreams!…Yet comes to her, disarmed deposed,
A wide new kingdom in the minds of men.
THE NORLAND WIND
The south wind on the hill
And the west wind on the sea —
But better than these I love
The north wind on the sea.
For the north wind on the lea
Is fearless and elate ;
The ocean, vast and free,
Is not more great.
On the hill the south wind laughs
Where the blue cloud-shadows flee ;
The west wind takes the mead
With a ripple of glee ;
But the north wind on the deep
Is the wind of winds for me ; —
Spirit of dauntless life,
And Lord of Liberty!
THE LAND OF LORNE AND THE SATIRISTS OF TAYNUILT
THE Land of Lorne is, to me, the most interesting
in Scotland—indeed in the British Isles. It
is the most picturesque, the most diversified
by nature and by association. Its scalloped
islands, its slender peninsulas, and its deeply
indented mainland, with its bens and glens
and corries—its lochs and rivers, its varied
fauna of sea and land, with its ancient build-
ings, its sculptured remains, and its human interests—all seem
to give it pre-eminence over other lands.
The Land of Lorne is the cradle of Christianity in Scotland,
of monarchy in Scotland, and so, in a way, of that merged
monarchy on which the sun never sets.
It was the home of Naois and Darthula; of Ardan and Aille;
of Fingal and Ossian; a home of epic poetry and song, of art
and music. It was there that ‘Waverley’ originated, and’ Kid-
napped’ and ‘Catriona’—for Stevenson, like Scott, lived, there,
and to its rugged shores and fronded bens and fragrant birchy
glens the heart of Stevenson, like the heart of Scott, ever
And possibly the dying Stevenson, in the fair isle of Samoa,
thought of the Land of Lorne as did the dying Scott in the
sunny clime of Italy, when he was heard crooning to himself—
‘And it’s up the heath’ry mountain,
And down the rugged glen,
We daurna go a-milking
For Charlie and his men.’
And it was of the Land of Lorne that another noble-hearted
THE LAND OF LORNE
Scot—Ian Campbell of Islay—was thinking when crooning to
himself a few hours before he died-
‘Cha till, cha till,
Cha till mi tuillidh!’
‘I return, I return,
I return no more!’
And it was the home of some of the best pastoral poets. For I
think there is nothing in all pastoral poetry to excel, if to equal,
the ‘Beinn Dorain’ of Duncan Ban Macintyre. And the Land of
Lorne was not only the ancestral home of Lord Macaulay, of
David Livingstone, of Thomas Campbell, but, as Blackmore
himself tells us, of the forbears of ‘Lorna Doone,’ and of those
of Robert Burns and John Ruskin.
The bards were the most powerful of the retinue of the Celtic
Kings and Chiefs. They roused to war and lulled to peace at
will the subjects of the one and the vassals of the other.
Edward First realised this when he massacred the Welsh
bards, and his successors showed that they understood it, by
their atrocities towards the Irish bards. Had Celtic Scotland,
like Celtic Wales and Ireland, been trampled under the heel of
conquest, that grandest of battle odes, ‘Brosnacha Catha Mhic-
mhuirich Mhoir,’ had never been written. It may be mentioned
that the Macmuirichs were hereditary bards to the Clanranalds
for the long period of seventeen generations. They held a free-
hold farm of the value of £450 a year or thereby for their
services, and only lost it when their charter was wiled from
them by fraud. The person of the bard was sacred, and his
house a sanctuary.
But the bards, being human, fell: they abused their powers, and
like other tyrants were deposed. Then many of these (sons of
song’ joined forces and travelled the country in bands. No
band could consist of more than sixteen, and each had a chief—
none being admitted into the circle till he had proved his power
THE LAND OF LORNE
of satire. These bards went under the name of Cliar Shean
achain’ —Strolling Satirists. They overran the country, going
where and when they liked, and preying upon whom they
pleased, always choosing good wit, good quarters, and good
cheer. They satirised everything and every one and one
another—the dread of the people wherever they went. They
could remain in a place for a year and a day, unless their satire
was overcome by satire. The last Strolling Satirists of whom
I have any knowledge were at Nunton, in Benbecula, about the
middle of last century. The band was sixteen strong. Clan-
ranald treated them with lavish hospitality, as became a great
chief, and of this they availed themselves to the full. But
though the Satirists had the civility to pass over Clanranald
and Lady Clanranald, they satirised everybody else in the place,
till all was excitement and resentment throughout the land.
The foolish laughed, but the wise mourned, for nothing was
talked of but the vitriolic sayings of these men: society was
scandalised, and work was hindered.
The year and a day of their’ sorning , was speeding on, and the
forty-second mart was killed for their use, when Clanranald
came out breathless and bonnetless, and raising his arms
appealingly exclaimed, in the bitterness of his heart: ‘A Dhe
Mhoir nam feart, agus Iosa, Mhic Mhuire, nan neart, am bheil
duin, idir, idir an Clanradhail a thilleas air a ghraisg dhaoine so!’
‘0 Thou great God of might, and Thou all-powerful Jesu, Son
of Mary, is there not a man at all at all in Clanranald can over
match these scurrilous kerns!’
There was no response. All the wits of the district had already
measured swords with these keen blades, only to be discomfited
and disarmed, and made the laughing-stock of the land. The
only man who had not tried was the fool of Clanranald, and he,
being a fool, had not been asked. But the Satirists now
attacked him, and the fool retorted—so effectively that they
fled the land.
The Strolling Satirists came to the house of Campbell of
THE LAND OF LORNE
Bailendeor, in Lome. Campbell was a substantial man, and
hereditary almoner to the ancient Abbey of Airdchattan. He
was generally called from his office, ‘An Deora ‘-the almoner,
‘An Deora Mor’- the big almoner. The Satirists and Walter
Campbell, son of the Deora, had frequent wit combats-often
angry, and many times exasperating. They somed upon his
family, and satirised his clan and his kin-searing him to the
soul. He retorted; but his retorfs, they declared, were inept.
He said—but in vain—
‘Dh’ithe tu mo chuid
‘Us phronna tu mo ghab,
Dh’ola tu m’fhion
Spiona tu mo bhad.’
‘Thou wouldst eat my bread
And bruise my mouth,
Thou wouldst drink my wine
And pluck my beard.’
Walter Campbell felled a tree in a place known since then as
‘Glac a Chlamhain’—’dell of the harrier.’ The dell is wide and
open towards the north-west, gradually narrowing and closing
towards the north-east. He asked the Satirists to come and
help him to split up the tree. They came. Campbell drove a
wedge into the bole and rent it along the stem. He then
ranged the men on each side, and asked them to place their
hands in the rent, and pull with all their might against one
another, as he drove the wedge. The men pulled and Campbell
struck the wedge, not in, but out; and the two sides of the rent
bole sprang together like a steel trap, holding the men securely.
Then Campbell fell upon them and killed them.
Had the Satirists been simple Macleans, Macdonalds, Mac-
gregors, Murrays, Lamonts, or any other clan, the Campbells
would have shielded Walter Campbell, however dark his crime.
But they were of all clans, and some of them of good family.
THE LAND OF LORNE
All acknowledged—to use the words of Professor Blackie re-
garding the murder of Archbishop Sharp—that
‘The loons were weel away…
But the deed was foully done.’
Great sensation was caused, and deep indignation roused, and
Walter Campbell fled. He crossed the river Awe at the
Brander—where Macdougall and Bruce had fought a battle—
and continued his course up Glenorchy and down Glenlyon,
among friendly clansmen and possibly kinsmen, and after many
weary wanderings to and fro settled down in Kincardine.
Bailendeor is in the near neighbourhood of Taynuilt—Bunawe.
Taynuilt means burn-house—from ‘taigh,’ house, and ‘uillt,’
oblique form of ‘allt,’ a burn, stream. Whether Walter Campbell
himself ever divulged his real name in Kincardine is not known.
But being from Burnhouse he became known among his neigh-
bours in Kincardine as ‘Walter Burnhoose ‘—shrivelling down
through the years to ‘Burness’ and in his great-great-grand-
son into ‘Burns’.
The practice of calling a man after his occupation, or the place
where he lives or whence he came, is common throughout
Walter Campbell of Bailendeor in Lome thus became Walter
Burness of Bogjoram in Kincardine, and great-great-grandfather
of Robert Burness—afterwards (Burns.’ It has often been re-
marked that the genius of Burns was Celtic—not Saxon. And
this shrewd observation was made by those who were ignorant
of the historical fact.
His poetical genius, moreover, was inherited; for the Camp-
bells of Bailendeor were known as a race of bards, and
fragments attributed to them are still repeated at the ‘ceilidh’
round the winter fires. Walter Campbell’s description of Glen-
lonan shows that he had a keenly observant eye, and a singularly
THE LAND OF LORNE
‘“Clacha dubha” an aghaidh srutha,
Am bun a bhruthaich bhoidheich,
Barragoille an oir na coille,
Am moch an goir an smeorach.’
‘“Blackened stones” against the stream
At the foot of the lovely brae,
Ridge of Gaul” on the woodland fringe,
Where early sings the mave.’
To Corsbie Keep rode Young Gledha’
As the moon broke owre the brae;
He lighted him down at Corsbie Ford,
And tethered his steed to the slae.
He cast his sword at the rown-tree root,
His dirk upon the heath;
He set his foot to Corsbie Craig,
And climbed it in a breath.
Proud Maisie stood by the high copestane;
The stane and she were still.
The moonlicht dazzled in .ler een ;
Her thoughts were on the hill.
She turned, to see a shape 0′ man
Rise black against the wa’;
Before her heart could gie a gliff
She kent the Young Gledha’.
‘Now Christ you save and sain, fair may;
Now Christ you sain and save!
Who would have speech 0′ your father’s bairn
Must speel in his ain grave.’
‘What seeks the fae of my father’s race
In my father’s house wi’ me ?
When the gled swoops at the doocot door
He may spare his courtesie.’
‘The gled may learn 0’ the doo, Maisie;
I come by fair moonlicht.
When your clan were last at my father’s yett,
Ye cam’ at mirk midnicht.
‘Ye cam’ unbid at midnicht black,
And made a red hearthstane ;
0′ a’ that were 0′ my father’s blood
Ye left but me alane.’
‘Ere the tod draws to the roost, Gledha’,
He should ken his road to go.
My father’s step sounds on the stair;
My brethren watch below.’
‘I carena for your brethren’s spears,
Nor for your father’s brand,
If I must fa’ by a Crichton’s blade,
I ’11 fa’ here, where I stand.
‘I met you low by the water-side;
I met you high on the hill ;
And there I got my deadly hurt.
Your hand must heal or kill.
‘My sword lies at the rown-tree root;
My dirk is on the heath.
But pu’ the pin from your hair, Maisie,
And mak my heart its sheath.’
‘To shame my birth—or slay my love;
It is a bitter rede!’
‘You may well forsake your living kin
When I forsake my dead.’
He’s taen her by the middle sma’;
He’s kissed her, lip and e’e.
She’s led him down the hidden way
Was kent to none but three.
He’s buckled on his goodly blade
When to the wood they wan;
He’s borne her safe through Eden Water,
Though red, like blood, it ran.
. . . .
‘Hark to that eerie cry, Maisie,
That rises from the spate! ‘
‘It’s but my father’s angry hounds;
They’re lowsed an oor owre late.’
‘Hark to that farawa chime, Willie,
Comes wandering down the fell! ‘
‘Gin it hadna been for our bridal bed,
‘Twould saired me for my knell.’
AN EVENING IN JUNE
JANET BALFOUR had got the dishes washed
and the kitchen tidied up after tea; her mother
was away to the Big House with the sewing they
had just finished that afternoon, and would not
be back till late; and now the evening was her
own for reading and knitting. After a long day’s
sewing, knitting was a relief, if not something of a pastime, for
one could read and knit at the same time. Leaving the door
ajar she made her way down to the foot of the garden, where
there was a seat fashioned from the root of a plane-tree.
Looking at her as she walked, one would have noticed first
the sheen of her ruddy brown hair, and the sweet serenity of
expression that gave character, if not even beauty, to a homely
face. Perhaps it was this light of peaceful happiness that
made her look older than her years, for it seemed to speak of
the sweetness that comes through suffering, of joyousness that
had been tempered in patience and pain. And this suggestion
a second look would certainly have confirmed. There were
lines about the mouth and under the eyes, come before their
time, and in her walk, the slightest suspicion of a limp. ‘A
bit dink,’ the neighbours called it, ‘that ye’d hardly see onless
ye were telled about it’
Sitting down, she unfolded her knitting across her knee, but
appeared to be in no hurry to begin. The book lay unopened
on the eis-wool shawl, and her fingers merely trifled with the
needle and a ball of wool.
It was an evening in June, and the slumbrous air was heavy
with the scent of roses and honeysuckle mingling with the smell
of new-mown hay drying in the field beyond the garden. From
the beeches rising high above the thatch-roofed cottage, and
almost hiding the hill behind them, dame now and again the
flute-like notes of the mavis, while birds hopped about the
berry bushes around her and twittered, talking to one another
in whispers. On the village green girls were playing at
AN EVENING IN JUNE
jingo-ring, and their voices, sounding dreamy in the distance,
seemed but to add to the restfulness of the evening.
‘Down in yonder meadow
Where the green grass grows,
Where Jeanie Fairfull
She bleaches her clothes;
She sang, and she sang, and she sang so sweet,
Come over, come over, across the deep.’
It was a time when one would sit with hands folded and gaze
with wide-open eyes seeing nothing. And so sat Janet. The
lazy smoke curled from the ridge of thatch roofs where the
village straggled along the highway; beyond, fields stretched
to the sleepy loch nestling to the side of the distant hills. But
she felt rather than saw the beauty of all. What she was
seeing was the summers and winters of her own life from that
day twenty years ago when she had fallen over a fence and
hurt her spine. She was only four years old then, but she
remembered it as it had been yesterday. There indeed was
the selfsame fence, not the formidable fence it once was, but
bowed and brought low with age and infirmity. Strange that
a fall from such an insignificant height should have kept her
an invalid so long. Yet now she was thinking not of the many
years of suffering that she had known, but of the love and
happiness that had been hers all through.
She thought of James Bruce, good, kind man, who had come
to see her then, and had been a friend ever since. And James
Bruce was the village grocer and draper, a well-to-do man, not
poor as her mother was. He had brought her grapes and
oranges and nice things which her mother could never have
provided ; and, better than all, he had brought her books,
picture-books and story-books, from which she had slowly, she
hardly knew how, taught herself to read and write. That was
all the schooling Janet had ever had, yet the book now lying
AN EVENING IN JUNE
on her knee was a volume of Emerson’s ‘Essays.’ Thinking
much of the kind-hearted old grocer, she thought much more
of his son. She opened the book and read her name on the
fly-leaf, ‘Jan from Alex.’ He always called her ‘Jan,’ as he
had done that first day he came with his father to see her,
bringing a great bag of sweeties and figs. He was only six
years old then, and how often he had come to see her since !
How he had helped her with the difficult words in her books
till they had been able to read together ! Then when at length
she had been allowed to get out it was he who wheeled her to
the fields in the little carriage his father had given her on her
twelfth birthday, and there sat reading to her, or learning his
own lessons. Later still it was he who had taught her to walk
again, leading her, helping her over difficult places, laughing
at her sometimes till she cried, and then carrying her home
and talking nonsense till she laughed with him.
She laid aside the book and the
knitting, and began walking
up and down the garden path just for the pleasure of walking
and assuring herself that she hardly limped at all now. It was
all for his sake that she had taken such pains to walk without
limping, and how delighted he would be when no one could
speak of her lameness.
When she sat down again she folded up her knitting. ‘It’s
ower warm for a shawl,’ she explained to herself, ‘an’ ower
bonny for readin’.’ And she began dreaming again.
How happy those days had been
for both! She saw again the
old village wives nodding to them and smiling when Alex
helped her out to the fields. ‘It ‘s braw to hae a big brother,
Jenny,’ they used to say.’ ‘Deed it ‘s no mony brothers would
be so kind.’ And she liked to hear them praise Alex; he had
always blushed when they commended ‘his thochtfu’ness.’
‘She taks the place o’ the little ane he canna mind o’,’ she had
heard them moralise often enough. ‘Nature has a way o’ her
ain for fillin’ a’ gaps.’
But the days of their childhood passed, and the time came
AN EVENING IN JUNE
when Alex went away to an office in the town, and she had
missed him sorely. But he had never forgotten her. Letters
came regularly— long, interesting letters— telling of town life she
did not know, of his work, of the classes he attended, and of
a thousand and one things she had only read of in books. In
her answers she told of all that was doing in the village ; of the
church choir, of the sewing she did for the Big House, of her
garden, of the fields, and in her last, with tears, of the death of
the green linty he had given her in a cage. And better than
letters were the days looked forward to month by month when
he came home and stayed from Saturday to Monday. But best
of all was the summer holiday. That was the fortnight of the
year to Janet. Then the happy days of childhood were renewed.
They walked, and talked, and read together just as they had
done when they were boy and girl. Now he was coming home
again, and this time it was to be better than ever. She took
from her pocket the letter she had got that very morning and
read it again.
‘”My dear Jan.”‘ She said the words over to herself, em-
phasising the first, and blushing to hear them from her own
lips.'” I have been promoted to be cashier now. Isn’t that
good news? But better news still! My holidays begin on
Wednesday, and I shall be home again on Thursday.”
‘To-morrow,’ she whispered,’ to-morrow.’
‘”And now, Jan, I have a great
secret to tell you. I might
have told you by letter, but I should much rather tell you when
I see you in the dear old garden with only the roses to hear,
and the birds singing because they are happy with the happiness
that is mine.”
‘The mavises are singing now,’ she said, ‘and their
is the happiness of love.’
She folded the letter and hid
it in the bosom of her dress.’ A
secret to tell me?’ She laughed; a little sob of laughter it
seemed.’ And I have a secret to tell Alex.’
Picking up the book she turned the pages, rustling them from
AN EVENING IN JUNE
the one hand to the other, but her eyes were towards the loch,
full of reverie. ‘To-morrow,’ she repeated, ‘to-morrow.’
‘To-night,’ said a voice
almost at her ear, while a pair of hands
were placed over her eyes.
‘Alex!’ she cried. ‘I know it— I know it.’
He came round and laid
himself down on the grass at her feet.
‘I thought I ‘d give you a surprise, Jan ; so I climbed over the
dyke as quiet as pussy and caught you. I got away a day
earlier than I expected. . . . Reading as usual, I see. Am
wha’s the favourite now?’ he asked, dropping into his boyhood
Scots. ‘Emerson nae less!’
She reached and took the book out of his
hand. ‘Dinna begin
wi’ books the nicht, Alex,’ she said playfully. ‘I havena read a
word o’t: I ‘d better readin’ than Emerson.’
I didna come to speak about books.’ He leaned
back on his elbow and looked up in her face. ‘ An’ what better
had ye than Emerson, Jan ? ‘
‘Only a letter, Alex.’
They sat quiet for a time. A lark rose from the hayfield
they watched it, listening till it ended its song slanting down
again to the earth.
‘Sit down on the grass, Jan.’ He spoke somewhat
and was back again into English. ‘It’s perfectly dry and —
I ‘ve something to tell you, you know.’
She came and sat down near
him, yet turning her head aside
that he should not see her listening eyes.
‘Can you guess what I’m going to speak about, Jan?’ he
asked ; and then again, ‘ Can you not guess?’
Her hand played nervously with the long
silver grasses, and
without turning she answered in a whisper, ‘Yes, Alex ; I think
‘I thought you would,’ he hurried on ; ‘and I
have been looking
forward to telling you. . . . O Jan, I can’t tell you how happy
I am! Look,’ he said, reaching to place a photograph in her
lap.’ Isn’t she beautiful ? You must tell me what you think
AN EVENING IN JUNE
of her, Jan, and you must be the first to congratulate me. You
know I never had a sister but you. We have been like brother
and sister always, and so — O Jan, tell me what you think of
‘It is a sweet andpretty face, Alex.’
What a change was in the voice all at once ! But Alex was too
full of his own affairs to notice.
‘I’m so glad you like her. She is—— But I can’t tell you what
she is. I ‘m sure you will like her. I ‘ve told her all about my
sister, and she is very eager to meet you. And do you know
what she asked me, Jan ? How I had never fallen in love with
you ! How simple she is !’ He smiled happily at the notion.
‘As if a brother and sister should fall in love! We only
got engaged a month ago,’ he rattled on; ‘and now that I
have a good income, I think we should get married as soon as
There was silence for a time. Alex
had run himself out, and
Janet sat apparently studying the face of the photograph in her
lap. Gloaming was stealing over them, and a soft wind was
stealing across the fields and rustling the leaves of the berry
bushes. From the green came the girls’ voices in their last
ring before bedtime.
‘You ‘re very quiet, Jan,’ he began again.’ And do you know
you have not congratulated me yet ? Come now, do wish me
She handed him the photograph, turning and smiling wistfully
in his face. ‘ Am I quiet, Alex ? I didn’t know. But you do
know I wish you all happiness.’
‘How formal that is, Janet, and—— What’s wrong, Jan?
You’re as pale as death. Are you ill? What a fool I am, to be
sure — here ‘s this grass thick with dew!’
He sprang to his feet and
lifted her up. ‘Your hands are like
‘Yes,’ she said with a shiver. ‘It ‘s a little chilly, isn’t it?’
‘Take my arm,’ he told her as
they walked away; ‘I see you’re
AN EVENING IN JUNE
limping: badly to-night, Jan. You ‘ve been overworking yourself,
I ‘m certain. But we’ll put all that right this fortnight. Eh ? ‘
At the gate he bent to kiss her cheek in his old brotherly way,
but she gave him her lips and kissed him instead. ‘That’s my
congratulation, Alex,’ she said, with a strange short laugh.
‘ Listen, listen ! Do you remember when you used to wheel me
to hear the girls singing that? —
‘Where shall bonny Jenny lie,
Jenny lie, Jenny lie ?
Where shall bonny Jenny lie
In the cold nights of Winter?
There comes a day towards the end of winter
when the clear sunlight floods the world and we
tramp along feeling a tranquil joy in its glory.
We catch, though perchance but half consciously
as yet, the first vague hint of a coming time of
which the world itself is still unaware. The
spring we fain would stir in our steps meets with no answering
resilience from the unyielding earth. The gnarled crust of the
world lies unperturbed and irresponsive.
A fortnight later a new day dawns. The sun shines with no
added brilliance and the earth is still hard. But now in the
sun’s rays there is a graciousness, a penetrating charm to
which the world also must needs yield. The callous mask is
lifted, and there are signs of a responsive outward stir. The
whin flowers are no longer mere cold spots of gold in a dark
setting, but become significant, like eyes of some uncouth
being struggling to express a welcome.
But the harsh winds and the sleet showers return, and the
withered edges of the tender green buds are the record of their
visit; telling also of premature endeavours and ungarnered
hopes, of young lives cut off in their beginnings, or doomed to
a continuity of imperfection.
Then once more comes a reassurance that other days are even
now approaching. Yet still each fresh beginning, each brave
dash for life and vigour, is in turn checked by the night-frost
or chilled by the cold wind, until the promise that brought the
earlier expansion ceases to encourage or even to console. The
few flashes of colour gradually recede and are lost again in the
sombre monochrome of the earth.
But the stirring sense of uplifting grows with the lengthening
days, and with the shortening nights the power of cold and
darkness wanes. The earth’s crust softens, though hardness
endures beneath the lush surface. The openness of summer
soil through which the fresh air passes freely is a later achievement,
to which this superficial mingling of earth and water is a
passage and a promise.
The nascent vegetation has little individuality of form or of
colour. All the little soft cones, pushing from out their scaly or
woolly wrappings, have an embryonic likeness to one another,
and all are flushed with the same indefinite hue. Even yet, many
an early bud, pressing forward into a life too strenuous for its
quality, is blighted: so Nature rebukes precocity. But day by
day Spring advances and the leaves slowly separate from one
another as they are carried further into the airy world by the
lengthening branch between; and presently they unfold and expand
into their perfect shape, each becoming its proper self.
Their colour, too-at first neither green nor red nor yellow, but
strangely potential of any of these—becomes sharpened and
defined. The glow common to all the tender shoots concentrates
only in the youngest. These, growing conscious of
their distinction, clothe themselves in gracefullest shapes and
deck them in the gayest hues. Each turns to the sun to
absorb contentedly its quickening radiance, taking it, no doubt,
as surely meant for itself, and seeing in its own marvellous development
the regeneration of a world.
Spring in the North is a history of hopes often dashed—sometimes,
indeed, crushed immediately, but oftener rising again
with renewed vigour and concentrated purpose. So we have
learned to cherish hope until it seems hopeless, when suddenly
a new ray stirs us, only in its turn to be overcast. But again
and again it comes, until the gathering force of the seasonal
benediction augments and accumulates and we behold Spring at
last realised everywhere around us. Then we can wait with
assurance— ‘with fair hopes,’ as the Greeks would have
said— for the serene fulness of Summer, and for
Autumn that garners all the blessings of the year.
ANDREW J. HERBERTSON.
THE TRON OF ST. GILES’
BY JAMES CADENHEAD
THE SCOTS RENASCENCE
BLACKIE was buried yesterday. At the
High Kirk, as he would have wished it,
his old friend and comrade Walter Smith
shared the service with Cameron Lees,
Flint and the Moderator :—Free Kirk
and Auld Kirk uniting in the historic
Kirk, as this merged into that communion
of multitudinous sorrow, that
reverent throng amid which the broad
Cathedral was but the sounding chancel,
the square and street the silent transept
and nave. Psalm and prayer, choir and organ rolled their
deepest, yet the service had a climax beyond the Hallelujah—
the pipes, as they led the procession slowly out, giving the
‘Land o’ the Leal’ a new pathos, and stirring the multitude
with a penetrating and vibrating intensity which is surely in no
other music. The big man beside me broke down, and sobbed
like a child; the lump comes batk to one’s own throat, the eyes
dim again, as one remembers it. It was a new and strange
instrument, strangest perhaps even to those who knew well its
Mænad call to dance, its demonic scream and thrill of war.
For here were interpulsating all the wildness with all the
majesty of Celtic sorrow, the eerie song of northern winds and
the roar of western tides. The sigh and wail of women, the
pride and lament of chiefs, gathered of old into bardic mono-
logue and chorus, were all in this weirdest, wildest, most
elemental music. So again pealed forth the chant of Ossian
over an unreturning hero amid the undying moan of Merlin for
a passing world.
In front went a long procession of Societies headed by kilt and
plaid; behind came the mourning kinsmen, with the Advocates,
the Senate, the Students, and the Town Council, in their varied
robes; then the interminable carriages of personal friends.
THE SCOTS RENASCENCE
But better than all these, the Town itself was out; the working
people in their thousands and tens of thousands lined the way
from St. Giles’ to the Dean; the very windows and balconies
were white with faces. Coming down the Mound, in full mid-
amphitheatre of Edinburgh, filled as perhaps never before, with
hushed assemblage of city and nation, the pipes suddenly
changed their song, ceased their lament, and ‘Scots Wha Hae’
rang out in strenuous blast; the anthem of a Renascent—ever
renascent—unconquerably renascent people. ‘If Blackie him-
self could have heard that,’ ‘could have seen this’—the whisper
went through crowd and procession, when the music changed
For those who were not there the scene is well-nigh as easy to
picture as for us to recall: the wavy lane, close-walled with
drawn and deepened faces, the long black procession marching
slow, sprinkled with plaid and plume, crowded with College cap
and gown, with civic scarlet and ermine, marshalled by black
draped maces. In the midst the Black Watch pipers marching
their slowest and stateliest—then the four tall black-maned
horses—the open bier, with plain unpolished oaken coffin high
upon a pyramid of flowers, a mound of tossing lilies, with
Henry Irving’s lyre of violets ‘To the Beloved Professor,’ its
silence fragrant, at its foot. Upon the coffin lay the Skye
womens’ plaid, above his brows the Prime Minister’s wreath,
but on his breast a little mound of heather, opening into bloom.
From this pageant of Edinburgh it is but one step in thought
to that solitary Samoan hill, up which dusky chiefs and clans-
men, henceforth also brethren of ours, as he of theirs, were so
lately bearing our other greatest dead—the foremost son of
Edinburgh and Scotland. The leader of nationality in ripest
age, the leader of literature in fullest prime, have alike left us.
Each was in his own way ‘Ultimus Scotorum’; each in his
THE SCOTS RENASCENCE
own way the link with our best days of nationality and genius.
What then—save ‘Finis Scotiae!’—can remain for us to say?
‘Finis Scotiae’ indeed: yet in what generation has not this been
said? What land, alas! has had oftener cause to say it? For
whoso has read her Sagas may well ask if Scotland, rather
than even her sister- and mother-isle, be not that ‘most dis-
tressful country that ever yet was seen.’ And yet, though age
pass away at evening and manhood be reft from us at noon,
new dawn ever comes, and with it new youth. To the baser
spirits the Saga of their fathers is nought—is as if it never
was; to the narrower it is all, but ended; yet to others it is
much, and in no wise closed!
not boast overmuch of that incessant, ofttimes too
depleting, efflux of astute yet fiery Scots adventurers who
since the Union of the Crowns have mainly carried out their
careers in England, as erstwhile on the Continent, heading
her senates or ruling her empires, leading her commerce or
moulding her thought. Nor need we here speak of those who
think that because we would not quarrel with brother Bull,
nor abandon our part in the larger responsibilities of united
nationality and race, we must needs also sink the older loves
and kinships, the smaller nationality wholly. Never before
indeed, not even in the interregnum of the War of Independence,
not after the Union of the Crowns or Parliaments, not after
Culloden, has there been so large a proportion of Scotsmen
conscientiously educating their children outside every main
element of that local and popular culture, that racial aptitude
and national tradition, upon which full effectiveness at home,
and even individual success elsewhere, have always depended,
and must continue to depend. But to this spoiling of what
might be good Scots to make indifferent Englishmen, natural
selection will always continue to oppose some limit. Nor need
we analyse the current forms of dull prosperity; of soul-deep
hypocrisy so rife among us—in this ‘east-windy, west-endy
town’ above others—that routine-fixed intellect and frozen
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heart against which Blackie’s very extravagances were part of
his testimony. There are signs that some reaction in all these
matters is at hand; and it is after all the narrower, not the
baser view of nationality that is the danger. For we have gone
on increasing our libations and orations every St. Andrew’s
Day, the same for St. Robbie’s and now for St. Walter’s, till all
the world perforce must join our revels. But all this while the
history we boast of has become well-nigh unknown among us,
the education we boast of (despite University and school’ Com-
missions’ and the like) steadily falls behind that of other Euro-
pean countries and even of Canada and the Colonies. Science
and law go dormant, literature disappears, medicine even makes
money; and so on. Yet from patriotism to fool’s paradise, as
between all extremes, there is but one step, and few there be
who do not find it.
Where then lies the true patriotism? As in
primarily in energy for the living; only secondarily in honours
to the dead, fit though these be. Living Scotland—living Greece
—living Samoa,—these were the loves and cares of those two
men whom we have been honouring; the traditions and heroes
of these in full measure afterwards. What then is this Scotland
of ours? What life does it actually show? What ideas and what
aims are nascent among its youth? What manner of history will
they make; what literature will they write? And we—what coun-
el in thought, what initiative in action, can we offer them? Here
are questions (as our Scottish manner is) to ask rather than
answer, but to which at some other season we may well return.
But may we not learn something of these deeper organic factors
of national life and possible renascence by their existing fruit?
What of current literature, of every-day places and people?
To the observant pessimist the impression is depressing enough.
The vacant place of native literature supplied with twaddle and
garbage in varying proportion, settled by the fluctuation of
newsagents’ imports; cities corresponding medleys of the
squalid and the dull; people in keeping—mean or intemperate
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in mind, when not also in body, canny to one fault, fanatical to
another,—even the few wise timidly discreet, the few noble
But even were such hard sayings fully warranted, a reply
remains—that these are phenomena of Winter, not of Spring—
of death, not life. The slush of winter concerns us little; when
buds begin to swell and shoots to peep, it delays little though
the decaying leaves to pierce be deep and many—in the long
run it even helps. Shrewd and practical intelligence yet
ardent imagination are not necessarily at variance; their
co-existence has stamped our essential national virtue and
genius, even as their dissociation has defined our besetting sins,
our antithetic follies. Industrial initiative and artistic life are
reappearing, and each where it was most needed, the first amid
this ice-pack of frozen culture, the latter in our western
inferno of industry. Architecture too is renascent; the work
of the past dozen years will on the whole bear comparison
with anything in English or Continental cities, in a few cases
may even challenge it, and in at least one case, that of the
noble Academic Aula of Edinburgh, carry the challenge back
to the best days of the Renaissance. The current resuscitation
of Old Edinburgh, more unnoticed just because more organic,
is hence a still deeper sign. First came the opening up of the
Cathedral, the rebuilding of the City Cross, then of the Castle-
Gates and Parliament Hall. Now the old courts and closes
from Holyrood to Castlehill are slowly but steadily changing,
and amid what was and is the most dense and dire confusion
of material and human wreck and misery in Europe, we have
every here and there some spark of art, some strenuous begin-
ning of civic sanitation, some group of healthy homes of work-
man and student, of rich and poor, some slight but daily
strengthening reunion of Democracy with Culture; and this
in no parliamentary and abstract sense, but in the civic and
concrete one. The Town House too is on plan, the Castle
slums are doomed. Upon the surrounding hills rise the domes
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and towers of great observatories—this of stars and that of
mind; on the nearer slope stands already the Institute of
History. Through the old town, so oft aflame, the phoenix,
which has long ‘lain among the pots,’ is once more fluttering;
and year by year, the possibilities temporal and spiritual of the
renascent capital return or appear. The architectural cycle
will soon have turned to its ancient starting-point, and the
doves rest once more on St. Margaret’s chapel pinnacle.
The social and moral cycle also. When we remember how
every movement—moral or social, industrial or spiritual—
sooner or later takes architectural embodiment, we shall better
understand the meaning both of the Old New Town and of this
New Old one. We remember too how often architectural
movements have accompanied and preceded literary ones.
And as in things both social and natural, small types serve
as well as great, and straws mark currents, a passing word
maybe said of our own small beginnings in these pages. For
not merely historic or picturesque sympathies, but practical
if distant aims are bringing men back to Old Edinburgh to
work and learn. Among the many traditions of the historic
houses among which some of these are making their homes,
none has been more inspiring, as none more persistently
characteristic of Edinburgh than that of Allan Ramsay, who
amid much other sowing and planting, edited and published
an ‘Evergreen’ in 1724. This little collection of old-world
verse, with its return at once to local tradition and living
nature, was as little in harmony with the then existing fashion
of the day in literature as its new namesake would hope to be
with that of our own,—the all-pervading ‘Decadence.’ Yet it
helped to urge succeeding writers to higher issues, among
which even Percy’s ‘Reliques,’ and Scott’s ‘Border Minstrelsy’
are reckoned. So our new ‘Evergreen’ may here and there
stimulate some new and younger writer, and hence beside the
general interests common to all men of culture, it would fain
now and then add a fresh page to that widely reviving
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Literature of Locality to which the kindly firesides of Thrums
and Zummerzet, the wilder dreamlands of Galway and Cader-
Idris, of Man and Arran and Galloway are ever adding their
individual tinge and glow.
So, too, with its expression of youngest Scottish art, its
revival of ancient Celtic design. All organic beginnings, to
survive and grow, need fit time even more than fortunate
place. Nor would we dare to be replanting the old poet’s
unsunned hillside were not the Great Frost ended, the Spring
gaining surely, however unsteadily, throughout the land, in
face of all chill nights and sunless days. Our Flower, our
Fruit of yesteryear lies buried; and as yet we have no other.
Only here and there peeps and shivers some early bud. But
in the dark the seed coat is straining, the chrysalid stirring.
Spring is in the world; Spring is in the North.
Small signs of Renascence all these, perhaps illusory ones,
many may say— our own countrymen of course most con-
vincedly of all. The Literature of Locality, we are told by
many reviewers, has had its little day, and is subsiding into
mere clash o’ kirkside, mere havers o’ kailyard; so doubtless
the renewal of locality may polarise into slum and respectability
once more. Be it so; this season also will have its term.
One day noble traditions long forgot will rouse a mightier
literature, nobler localities still unvisited bring forth more
enduring labours for their crown. Though Charlie may no
come back again, though the too knightly king, so long
expected back from Flodden, lie for ever ‘mid the Flowers o’
the Forest, though Mary’s fair face still rouse dispute as of
old, the Wizard’s magic book still waits unmouldering in his
tomb. The prophetic Rhymer listens from Elfiand, Arthur
sits in the Eildon Hills, Merlin but sleeps in his thorn. For
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while a man can win power over nature, there is magic; while
he can stoutly confront life and death, there is romance. Our
recent and current writers have but touched a fringe of their
possibilities. The songs of militant nationality may lose their
power, the psalmody of Zion no more stir the sons as it was
wont to do the fathers, yet gentler voices may reappear, older
runes win a reading.
‘In Iona of my heart, Iona of my love,
Instead of the voice of monks shall be lowing of cattle,
But ere the world come to an end
Iona shall be as it was.’
. . . . . . .
A final picture by way of summary. From our modern per-
spective a little place like Grahamston on the Edinburgh-
Glasgow line, if noticed at all, is only a place of tedious stop.
At most here or there a student of Scots literature or local
history may remember that it owes its name to that ‘Good
Grahame of truth and hardiment’ who was to Wallace what in
more fortunate days the Good Lord James became to Bruce,
and whom he buried here after his last battle. Few, however,
visit the actual tomb, still fewer with intelligent eyes, unless
they have learned to read the concrete tide-marks of history,
to interpret the strata laid down by each period, which are to
the books called History, as the natural strata to the books of
But when we have seen the surviving memorials that crowd
the Acropolis, and line the Sacred Way, and stand around the
Dome of Aachen, we may stop by this little roadside, and find
to set in our Schools of History no more noble, no more touch-
ing presentment of the indestructible sovereignty of the ever-
returning past than a picture of these poor stones, whose very
dust to us will then be dear. For when the knightly effigy
that it was Wallace’s last act of power to lay was trampled
dim by unthinking feet, the village folk or their priest laid a
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new stone and carved its legend in their homely way. This,
too, wore out as the centuries went by, but a new stone was
laid; again, and yet again, till now four stones rest super-
posed, a great shrine of the rude modern ironwork of the place
at length enclosing all. The monuments of victory in St.
Paul’s, of glory in Westminster, of world-service in the
Pantheon, of world-conquest in the Invalides, are each of
course great in their way beside this poor tomb, which after
all well-nigh fails to preserve from utter forgetfulness the dim
hero of one of those innumerable defeats which mark Scottish,
which make Celtic history. Yet here the teacher will some
day bring his scholars and read them Blind Harry’s verse.
And so in some young soul here and there the spirit of the
hero and the poet may awaken, and press him onward into a
life which can face defeat in turn. Such is our Scottish, our
Celtic Renascence—sadly set betwixt the Keening, the watching
over our fathers dead, and the second-sight of shroud rising
about each other. Yet this is the Resurrection and the Life,
when to faithful love and memory their dead arise.
MARIA REGINA SCOTORUM
BY PITTENDRIGH MACGILLIVRAY
The Evergreen: A Northern Seasonal, vol. 1, Spring 1895. Evergreen Digital Edition, edited by Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, 2016-2018. Yellow Nineties 2.0, Ryerson University Centre for Digital Humanities, 2019. https://1890s.ca/egv1_all/