THE VENTURE: An Annual of Art and Literature
An Annual of Art and Literature
LAURENCE HOUSMAN AND
W. SOMERSET MAUGHAM.
AT JOHN BAILLIE’S
1, PRINCES TERRACE,
HEREFORD ROAD, W. 1903.
PRINTED AT THE PEAR TREE PRESS,
15 HOLBORN, LONDON, E. C.
When Bony Death Has Chilled Her Gentle Blood by John Masefield. 1
The Philosophy of Islands by G. K. Chesterton. 2
The Market Girl by Thomas Hardy. 10
Open Sesame by Charles Marriott. 13
To Any Householder by Mrs. Meynell. 31
The Oracles by A. E. Housman. 39
The Genius of Pope by Stephen Gwynn. 40
Blindness by John Masefield. 74
The Merchant Knight by Richard Garnett. 77
Earth’s Martyrs by Stephen Phillips. 112
The Gem and Its Setting by Violet Hunt. 115
Marriage in Two Moods by Francis Thompson. 131
An Indian Road-Tale by S. Boulderson. 133
Madame de Warens by Havelock Ellis. 136
The Clue by Laurence Binyon. 158
Richard Farquharson by May Bateman. 161
Jill’s Cat by E. F. Benson. 175
A Concert at Clifford’s Inn by John Todhunter. 235
The Dove Cot by Charles Hazelwood Shannon.
John Woolman by Reginald Savage. viii
Queen of the Fishes by Lucien Pissarro. 37
Birdalone by Bernard Sleigh. 51
The Trumpeter by E. Gordon Craig. 75
The Death of Pan by Louise Glazier. 97
The Crowning of Esther by Lucien Pissarro. 129
Daphne and Apollo by Elinor Monsell. 159
The World is old to-night by Paul Woodroffe. 173
The Gabled House by Sydney Lee. 185
The Bather by Bernard Sleigh. 231
The Editors have to thank the Essex House Press for permission
to print the “John Woolman” engraving of Mr. Reginald Savage;
Mr. Alexander Moring for the use of Mr. Paul Woodroffe’s illus-
tration to the song “ The World is Old To-night,” published with
music by the De La More Press; and Mr. John Murray for first
use of “ The Blue Moon ” title-page.
WHEN BONY DEATH HAS CHILLED HER GENTLE BLOOD.
When bony Death has chilled her gentle blood
And dimmed the brightness of her wistful eyes,
And stamped her glorious beauty into mud
By his old skill in hateful wizardies.
When an old lichened marble strives to tell
How sweet a grace, how red a lip was hers ;
When rheumy gray-beards say, “I knew her well,”
showing the grave to curious worshippers.
When all the roses that she sowed in me
Have dripped their crimson petals and decayed
Leaving no greenery on any tree
That her dear hands in my heart’s garden laid,
Then grant, old Time, to my green mouldering skull
These songs may keep her memory beautiful.
THE PHILOSOPHY OF ISLANDS.
Suppose that in some convulsion of the planets there fell
upon this earth from Mars, a creature of a shape totally
unfamiliar, a creature about whose actual structure we were
of necessity so dark that we could not tell which was creature
and which was clothes. We could see that it had, say, six
red tufts on its head, but we should not know whether they
were a highly respectable head-covering or simply a head.
We should see that the tail ended in three yellow stars, but it
would be very difficult for us to know whether this was part
of a ritual or simply part of a tail. Well, man has been from
the beginning of time this unknown monster. People have
always differed about what part of him belonged to himself,
and what part was merely an accident. People have said
successively that it was natural to him to do everything and
anything that was diverse and mutually contradictory; that
it was natural to him to worship God, and natural to him to
be an atheist; natural to him to drink water, and natural to
him to drink wine; natural to him to be equal, natural to be
unequal; natural to obey kings, natural to kill them. The
divergence is quite sufficient to justify us in asking if there are
not many things that are really natural, which really appear
early and strong in every normal human being, which are not
embodied in any of his after affairs. Whether there are
not morbidities which are as fresh and recurrent as the
flowers of spring. Whether there are not superstitions whose
darkness is as wholesome as the darkness that falls nightly
on all living things. Whether we have not treated things
essential as portents; whether we have not seen the sun as a
meteor, a star of ill-luck.
It would at least appear that we tend to become
from what is really natural, by the fact that we always talk
about those people who are really natural as if they were goblins.
There are three classes of people for instance, who are in a
greater or less degree elemental: children, poor people, and to
some extent, and in a darker and more terrible manner, women.
The reason why men have from the beginning of literature
talked about women as if they were more or less mad, is
simply because women are natural, and men, with their
formalities and social theories, are very artificial. It is the same
with children; children are simply human beings who are
allowed to do what everyone else really desires to do, as for
instance, to fly kites, or when seriously wronged to emit pro-
longed screams for several minutes. So again, the poor man
is simply a person who expends upon treating himself and his
friends in public houses about the same proportion of his
income as richer people spend on dinners or hansom cabs, that
is a great deal more than he ought. But nothing can be done
until people give up talking about these people as if they were
too eccentric for us to understand, when, as a matter of fact, if
there is any eccentricity involved, we are too eccentric to under-
stand them. A poor man, as it is weirdly ordained, is definable
as a man who has not got much money; to hear philan-
thropists talk about him one would think he was a kangaroo.
A child is a human being who has not grown up; to hear
educationalists talk one would think he was some variety of a
deep-sea fish. The case of the sexes is at once more obvious
and more difficult. The stoic philosophy and the early church
discussed woman as if she were an institution, and in many
cases decided to abolish her. The modern feminine output of
literature discusses man as if he were an institution, and
decides to abolish him. It can only timidly be suggested that
neither man nor woman are institutions, but things that are
really quite natural and all over the place.
If we take children for instance, as examples of the
rupted human animal, we see that the very things which
appear in them in a manner primary and prominent, are the
very things that philosophers have taught us to regard as
sophisticated and over-civilised. The things which really
come first are the things which we are accustomed to think
come last. The instinct for a pompous intricate and recurring
ceremonial for instance, comes to a child like an organic
hunger; he asks for a formality as he might ask for a drink of
Those who think, for instance, that the thing called
stition is something heavily artificial, are very numerous; that
is those who think that it has only been the power of priests or
of some very deliberate system that has built up boundaries,
that has called one course of action lawful and another un-
lawful, that has called one piece of ground sacred and another
profane. Nothing it would seem, except a large and powerful
conspiracy could account for men so strangely distinguishing
between one field and another, between one city and another,
between one nation and another. To all those who think
in this way there is only one answer to be given. It is to
approach each of them and whisper in his ear: “Did you
or did you not as a child try to step on every alternate paving-
stone?” Was that artificial and a superstition ? Did priests
come in the dead of night and mark out by secret signs the
stones on which you were allowed to tread? Were children
threatened with the oubliette or the fires of Smithfield if they
failed to step on the right stone? Has the Church issued a
bull “Quisquam non pavemento?” No! On this point on
which we were really free, we invented our servitude. We
chose to say that between the first and the third paving-stone
there was an abyss of the eternal darkness into which we
must not fall. We were walking along a steady, and safe and
modern road, and it was more pleasant to us to say that we
were leaping desperately from peak to peak. Under mean and
oppressive systems it was no doubt our instinct to free our
-selves. But this truth written on the paving-stones is of even
greater emphasis, that under liberal systems it was our instinct
to limit ourselves. We limited ourselves so gladly that we
limited ourselves at random, as if limitation were one of the
adventures of boyhood.
People sometimes talk as if everything in the religious
history of men had been done by officials. In all probability
things like the Dionysian cult or the worship of the Virgin
were almost entirely forced by the people on the priesthood.
And if children had been sufficiently powerful in the state,
there is no reason why this paving-stone religion should not
have been accepted also. There is no reason why the streets
up which we walk should not be emblazoned so as to com-
memorate this eternal fancy, why black stones and white
stones alternately, for instance, should not perpetuate the
memory of a superstition as healthy as health itself.
For what is the idea in human nature which lies at the
of this almost automatic ceremonialism? Why is it that a
child who would be furious if told by his nurse not to walk
off the curbstone, invents a whole desperate system of foot-
holds and chasms in a plane in which his nurse can see little
but a commodious level? It is because man has always had
the instinct that to isolate a thing was to identify it. The flag
only becomes a flag when it is unique; the nation only becomes
a nation when it is surrounded; the hero only becomes a hero
when he has before him and behind him men who are not
heroes; the paving-stone only becomes a paving-stone when
it has before it and behind it things that are not paving-stones.
There are two other obvious instances, of course, of
same instinct, the perennial poetry of islands, and the perennial
poetry of ships. A ship like the Argo or the Fram is valued
by the mind because it is an island, because, that is, it carries
with it floating loose on the desolate elements the resources,
and rules, and trades, and treasuries of a nation, because it
has ranks, and shops, and streets, and the whole clinging like
a few limpets to a lost spar. An island like Ithaca or England
is valued by the mind because it is a ship, because it can find
itself alone and self-dependent in a waste of water, because its
orchards and forests can be numbered like bales of merchandise,
because its corn can be counted like gold, because the starriest
and dreariest snows upon its most forsaken peaks are silver
flags flown from familiar masts, because its dimmest and most
inhuman mines of coal or lead below the roots of all things
are definite chatels stored awkwardly in the lowest locker of
In truth nothing has so much spoilt the right artistic
as the continual use of such words as ” infinite” and “immeasur-
able.” They were used rightly enough in religion because
religion, by its very nature, consists of paradoxes. Religion
speaks of an identity which is infinite, just as it spoke of an
identity that was at once one and three, just as it might
possibly and rightly speak of an identity that was at once
black and white.
The old mystics spoke of an existence without end or a
happiness without end, with a deliberate defiance, as they
might have spoken of a bird without wings or a sea
water. And in this they were right philosophically, far more
right than the world would now admit because all things grow
more paradoxical as we approach the central truth. But for
all human imaginative or artistic purposes nothing worse
could be said of a work of beauty than that it is infinite; for
to be infinite is to be shapeless, and to be shapeless is to be
something more than mis-shapen. No man really wishes a
thing which he believes divine to be in this earthly sense
infinite. No one would really like a song to last for ever, or
a religious service to last for ever, or even a glass of good ale
to last for ever. And this is surely the reason that men have
pursued towards the idea of holiness, the course that they have
pursued; that they have marked it out in particular spaces,
limited it to particular days, worshipped an ivory statue,
worshipped a lump of stone. They have desired to give to it
the chivalry and dignity of definition, they have desired to save
it from the degradation of infinity. This is the real weakness
of all imperial or conquering ideals in nationality. No one
can love his country with the particular affection which is
appropriate to the relation, if he thinks it is a thing in its
nature indeterminate, something which is growing in the night,
something which lacks the tense excitement of a boundary.
No Roman citizen could feel the same when once it became
possible for a rich Parthian or a rich Carthaginian to become
a Roman citizen by waving his hand. No man wishes the
thing he loves to grow, for he does not wish it to alter. No
Imperialist would be pleased if he came home in the evening
from business and found his wife eight feet high.
The dangers upon the side of this transcendental
are no doubt considerable. There lies in it primarily the great
danger of the thing called idolatry, the worship of the object
apart from or against the idea it represents. But he must
surely have had a singular experience who thinks that this
insular or idolatrous fault is the particular fault of one age.
We are not likely to suffer from any painful resemblance to
the men of Thermopylae, the Zealots, who raged round the
fall of Jerusalem, to the thunderbolts of Eastern faith and
valour who hurled themselves on the guns of Lord Kitchener.
If we are rushing upon any destruction it is not, at least, upon
G. K. CHESTERTON.
THE MARKET GIRL.
Nobody took any notice of her as she stood on the causey-
A-trying to sell her honey and apples, and bunches of garden
And if she had offered to give her wares, and herself with
them too, that day,
I doubt if a soul would have cared to take a bargain so choice
But chancing to trace her sunburt grace that morning as I
I went and I said, “Poor maidy, dear! And will none o’ the
And so it began; and soon we knew what the end of it all
And I found that though no others had bid, a prize had been
won by me.
Interested strangers who tried to talk to Mr. Trembath
about the West Country were apt to be disappointed because,
although he had many memories, he found it difficult at the
moment to get hold of the proper end. If you happen to be on
Trevenen Quay towards the end of September you may see
fishermen home from the North Sea groping in the hold of a
lugger for the tail of a herring net. When found it is pulled
out, not in yards, but in miles. So with Mr. Trembath’s
memories. A chance word more often than not apparently
irrelevant, put the thread into his hand, and you found it just
as well to sit down while the grey man in a toneless voice
reeled you off a whole warp of his life. Only—to pursue the
simile—in his case you had not only the net but all the fish as
well; bright and curious, so vivid and explicit that if you had
any imagination you tasted the brine on your lips, and saw
the little cows over the ash-tops climbing the flank of Carn
Leskys. Like the ancient mariner, Mr. Trembath found relief
rather than pleasure in telling his reminiscences; indeed, it is
probable that he craved forgetfulness. They did their best in
Packer’s Rents to make him forget, but an inheritance of six
centuries is perhaps not the best preparation for a countryman
coming to live in London. The traditions of six hundred
years, and the flower soft though ineffaceable impressions of
sixty others by moor and sea tend to use up a man’s acquisi-
tive powers, so that the facts of to-day, however striking, are
not properly assimilated, and are always novel.
Thus, after five years, Mr. Trembath still talked about
the wonderful things they did in London Churchtown. If
he had been capable of expressing himself clearly, or even of
retaining a definite idea in his nebulous mind, he would have
told you that the most surprising things in London were the
milk and the children. He never found fault with the milk;
it was just too perplexing for that. Mr. Trembath took in
the milk because Mable Elsie, his daughter-in-law, found his
invincible innocence a convenient barrier to importunate
creditors. Every day when the milk had been thrown from
the measure into the jug with that masterly “plop” which
only the London milkman can achieve, Mr. Trembath peered
into the ostentatiously foaming fluid and muttered “Well well,”
much as if he had seen a cat with wings. Every day he
meant to look for the machinery by which the milk was made,
but forgot in the fresh wonder of its appearance. He never
got so far as criticism, partly from courtesy, party because
the milkman was gone before he reached the verbal stage of
his meditations. The one thing that would have startled him
into speech was the information that the milk came from real
The children, and there were a great many children in
Packer’s Rents, affected him differently. Besides wonder he
had an uncomfortable feeling of responsibility about them
He never could get rid of the idea that “somebody ought to be
told;” and might often have been seen lifting up a baby out
of the gutter or stooping to wipe a small nose with his red
pocket-handkerchief. He had come to believe that they were
human children because Mabel Elsie shamelessly discussed
their incidence with her friend Mrs. Ellis in his hearing. In
spite of his general haziness he remembered to be glad that he
had no grandchildren in Packer’s Rents, and frequently said so
aloud, with embarrassing disregard for Mabel Elsie’s presence.
Mr. Trembath never quarrelled with his daughter-in-law.
She made him wonder, but not more than when fourteen years
ago his son brought her home with her voice and her clothes
to Rosewithan. Most personal matters, things to be glad or
sorry about, were so far off now that Mr. Trembath had
ceased to grieve over the relationship. He sometimes addressed
her as “my dear,” and then would pull up short with a pathetic
look of non-recognition. Could this be the woman his son had
chosen for bed and board? The incredible idea caused him to
forget his manners, and, staring at Mabel Elsie, to observe
aloud in a mildly deprecating voice:
“Well, what a woman, eh?”
Then Mabel Elsie would throw back her head and scream
“Just like the green woodpeckers down to Rosewithan,
my dear,” he would say, and go on to discuss a matter which
had long troubled his conscience. Years ago, tempted by the
green and scarlet, he had shot a woodpecker—here he would
illustrate “and a good shot it was, my dear”—in the mating
season. The bird had built in one of the elms which stood
in front of his door, and ever afterwards the round black hole
haunted him like an empty eye-socket in which he himself had
quenched the fire of life. Then Mabel Elsie would laugh again
more loudly, whereat Mr. Trembath would shrink and pain-
fully try to show her how the women laughed down to Rose-
withan. But Mabel Elsie only called him a “silly ole man”
for his pains.
For Mr. Trembath’s daughter-in-law had a proper sense
of practical benefits, and was not easily wounded. A weak
minded old gentleman whose only interest in his life annuity
was to sign the quarterly cheques, was worth indulging in his
conversation. When Mr. Trembath’s only son migrated to
London he acquired habits, including Mabel Elsie, which did
not make for material prosperity. Love of the land was not
enough to make life worth while to his mother after he had
left her roof and she presently died, if not of a broken heart,
at least in a moral vacuum. For a time Mr. Trembath tried
to forget his loneliness in his farm, but dairy farming without
a mistress is a rather forlorn industry. At last the craven
letters of his son who daily sank lower under the circum-
stances of his choice, confirmed Mr. Trembath in his disastrous
opinion that he ought to leave Rosewithan to “see what he
could do for John.” So he came to London, but only in time
to learn that the only thing he could do for John was to bury
him. Having dropped the lease which his ancestors had held
under the same landlords for six hundred years, Mr. Trembath
remained in London to look after John’s wife.
Mabel Elsie would have put it the other way, and
she was eminently able to take care of herself. She certainly
managed Mr. Trembath’s income. Money so easily come by
was naturally not handled in a narrow spirit of economy;
hence the friendship of Mrs. Ellis and others; for the less
recreative consideration of daily bread, as also for appearances,
Mabel Elsie worked in a box factory. On the fluctuating
margin of these economies, and to enable him to sign the
quarterly cheques, Mr. Trembath was badly fed, worse clad,
and allowed to do pretty much as he liked.
What he liked was usually not inconvenient to the
disorder of Packer’s Rents. But with the progressive cloud-
ing of his mind to the immediate present and recent past,
Mr. Trembath’s memories of Rosewithan became clearer
though less coherently related. This would not have mattered
if he had been able to indulge his fancies at will, but they were
rather thrust upon him like the gift of prophecy, and you never
knew when a careless word would set him going. Sometimes,
too, the urgency of his recollections and his inability to place
them in point of time, drove him to action. He would get up
very early in the morning and disturb the house looking for
his gaiters, because in the night there had been borne in upon
him the pressing necessity to cut furze. The spectacle of a
tall, thin old man with a vacant eye stalking down Tarbuck
Street armed with a furze hook naturally caused people to
intimate to Mabel Elsie that she ought to take more care of
her father-in-law in the interests of the general public.
Mr. Trembath also suffered from the obsession of market
day. Packer’s Rents came to spending Thursday between
the doorstep and sharing pints on the off chance of Mr. Trem-
bath being run in. Greengrocers were apt to misunderstand
his motives in selecting samples of their wares “to show to
friend Trevorrow,” and he once came perilously near horse-
stealing. Loitering in the neighbourhood of the “Duke of
York” he recognised his own horse and gig standing at the
street corner. A clock striking five warned him that it was
time to be driving home to Rosewithan. He crossed the road,
and giving twopence to the boy who held the horse, patted
him on the head, bade him be a good lad, and was preparing
to climb into the gig when it’s owner came out of the “Duke
of York.” This man failed to appreciate Mr. Trembath’s
courteous offer of a lift, and was for haling him to the police
station. Luckily Bill Ellis was attracted by the little crowd,
and with difficulty set matters right by explaining that Mr.
Trembath was “a bit barmy.”
Mr. Trembath was indebted to Bill in more ways than
one, for it was through little Elfred Ellis that he came to grips
with his memory, and made smooth his way to the Rosewithan
of his dreams. As Blondel to the Captive Richard, Elfred
revealed his proper self by whistling “We wont go home till
morning.” That belonged to Rosewithan sure enough; how
and why Mr. Trembath could not at first remember. He saw
something in Elfred’s face which reminded, but with observa-
tion, escaped him. When the teasing recollection at last found
words Mr. Trembath gripped Elfred by the arm and said,
somewhat testily for him:—
Yes, yes, that was the tune, but he didn’t whistle it;
played it on some sort of instrument; it was a—no” he loosed
his hold and shook his head; “you must excuse me, but I
can’t remember.” Nor did Mr. Trembath appreciate the ironical
fact that it was John’s perseverance in the spirit of the song
which brought him to an early grave and himself to Packer’s
Elfred for his part was attracted by the old man’s
gravity so different from anything in Packer’s Rents; the
discovery that, like all men of his native place, Mr. Trembath
could play marbles cemented their friendship and freshly
vindicated Mabel Elsie’s opinion that her father-in-law was
“a silly ole man.”
Thus Elfred became a link between the past and the
present. Mr. Trembath talked to him familiarly about Rose-
withan affairs, Sally’s calf and the relative merits of Tango
and Spot as hunting dogs, and Elfred remembered; so that
the old man and the little child reached a common ground in
the forgetfulness of the one, the ignorance of the other of the
distance in time and place. Very naturally it happened one
morning that Mr. Trembath took Elfred by the hand and pro-
posed that they should go and look for bull gurnards in the
pullans. Elfred thought they were a long time getting to the
sea, but kept implicit faith in Mr. Trembath until his aimless
conduct at a crossing attracted the notice of a policeman.
Then the youngster began to howl dismally, though it was
from him rather than his elder that the man in blue discovered
whence they came.
When the two, Elfred still blubbering, appeared at the
corner of Packer’s Rents, Mrs. Ellis was in the act of telling
how much she gave for Elfred’s button boots to a group of
sympathisers who speculated exactly how long Bill would get
for bashing her when he learned that his offspring was
missing. It was the sudden change in her voice from woe to
piercing anger which caused the others to turn their heads. In
a moment Elfred was being shaken to pieces. Whenever
Mrs. Ellis paused for breath a supporter yelled in the boy’s ear
what he would get supposing he were her child. Until Mrs.
Ellis in a dangerously quiet voice reminded all and sundry
that she owned a monopoly in Elfred. The little group already
cheated of a sensation trailed away sniffing their sentiments.
Then Mrs. Ellis turned her attention to Mr. Trembath,
who was patiently trying to make out what all the noise was
about. As a result of her communicated views about himself,
his appearance, his family and his family’s failings, Mabel
Elsie and Mrs. Ellis did not speak for several weeks, and Mr.
Trembath and Elfred were deprived of each other’s society.
The approach of August Monday however, mended all that.
After five reconciliatory jugs contributing to the decision that
Hampstead and Greenwich were both played out, Mr. Trem-
bath was told that if he “kep out of mischief and didn’t cause
no more rows” he should be taken to the Crystal Palace.
Mr. Trembath was moved, but with an emotion more pressing
“Yes, my dear,” he said, nodding. “Now I’ll tell you
about that. If you’ll look upon the left hand side of the cove
just above the boulders you’ll see a square block of granite all
finished off beautifully. That was made for the pedestal of an
obelisk or monument, if you will, weighing eighteen tons and
taken out of the Rosewithan Quarry to be sent to the Great
Exhibition of ‘5i. The obelisk was sent, but the pedestal
never followed because old Cap’n Hosken who leased the
quarry went scat.”
Oh, chuck it!” cried Mabel Elsie. “Who wants to
hear your mouldy stories.”
But my dear,” said Mr. Trembath patiently, “this is
important, because it was the only time I ever went to law
with any man. Cap’n Hosken had hired horses of me, and
seeing that his affairs were in the Court I thought it only just
to put forward my claim. They awarded me—”
“For Gawd’s sake,” said Mabel Elsie in desperation, “go
along to the corner for a quart and don’t muddle your silly ole
‘ead with drinking out of the jug.”
This was Mabel Elsie favourite joke, and invariably
recalled her father-in-law to his dignity.
You know, my dear,” he said, “we are all Rechabites
down to Rosewithan and don’t belong to touch anything except
perhaps a little sloe or blackberry wine hot and with sugar, at
Christmas time. That is good for the system and cheerful as
Mr. Trembath was infected with the excitement of August
Monday, though he had a very hazy notion of what was going
forward. Long before Mabel Elsie had finished curling her
hair he had shaved and brushed his clothes, and stood in
everybody’s way consulting his watch. Though he did not
realise that he paid the score, he still was persuaded that he
was in command of the party. Bill Ellis good humouredly
undertook to keep the old man out of mischief, leaving his wife
and Mabel Elsie free to celebrate or to quarrel as their fancy
led them. Bill, who perfectly recognised the distance between
himself and Mr. Trembath, regarded him vaguely as a thing
which might be broken he always addressed him as “Sir,”
and with the extraordinary gestures and grimaces which every
Englishman knows are necessary to reach the intelligence of
Mr. Trembath caused some trouble in the train by
ing that they had passed Exeter and must presently come to
the sea; but on the whole behaved tolerably well. At the
Palace, however, he became a nuisance. Misled by certain
objects he remembered, or thought he remembered, from ’51 he
wanted to act as showman, though, as Mabel Elsie said, she
had’nt come to see things or to be preached to, but to enjoy
herself, which apparently meant laughing very loud without
visible reason, and taking varied refreshments with the still
more varied acquaintances of half an hour. Bill Ellis as a
distinct personality grew vaguer and vaguer, and finally was
absorbed into a beery crowd. To the relief of the women
Mr. Trembath actually did find the obelisk and asked nothing
better than to be left beside it. Here he sat with the pathetic
air of an unaccustomed traveller clinging to his luggage, but
with something of proprietorship as well. Quite a number of
people were interested in the dignified old man, and went away
persuaded that he was an unusually affable official told off for
the special convenience of visitors.
Sitting half asleep under the great stone Mr. Trembath
dreamed vivid but incoherent pictures of the valley when, with
a jerk, they fell into relation like the pieces of glass in a
kaleidoscope. Somewhere out of sight someone was haltingly
playing a familiar air as if of the upper notes of a harmonium.
It was the one emotional touch wanting, bringing everything
into focus, yet Mr. Trembath could not place the sound either
in time or character. It was familiar, yet so familiar that he
felt he had not taken due note of it at the time, as a man may
be at a loss when suddenly asked the colour of his friend’s
eyes. Then other noises intervened, and the painfully groped
for memory was lost. Yet the germ of it must have remained,
for in the brutal rush for the station, something glittering on a
stall caught Mr. Trembath’s eye. He hesitated, felt in his
pocket, but was swept away. Bill Ellis, who had emerged
from the crowd morally and physically the least happy version
of himself, was clamouring for a policeman; not, as he care-
fully explained, because he bore any ill-will to the force, but
because he felt an urgent desire to confide in one particular
member, and resented his absence.
During the journey home Mr. Trembath was quiet, but
with so shining a face that Mabel Elsie and Mrs. Ellis
exchanged uneasy glances, and the former cautiously questioned
“Well, father, enjoyed yourself?”
His answer, all about heather, was not illuminating,
Mabel Elsie cut him short with “Garn you silly ‘ole man” in
a tone of great relief.
Mr. Trembath had found out what he wanted, and with
a definite need he grew very cunning. Mabel Elsie held that
he was not fit to be trusted with pocket money, and his oppor-
tunity seemed a long while coming, but one Saturday evening
he found sixpence on the corner of the dresser. Too instinct-
ively honest to justify himself with the argument that it was
his own money, he pounced upon it without hesitation. A
theft so artless was certain to be discovered, but Mabel Elsie
forgot her anger before this glaring vindication of her apparent
harshness. She made the most of her opportunity, and called
in witnesses to prove that nobody but Mr. Trembath had
access to the coin, but for once the old man turned stubborn.
Though he did not deny the accusation he would neither pro-
duce the sixpence, nor say what he had done with it. It was
a fine moment for his daughter-in-law, and won her floods of
She soon had genuine cause for anxiety, for Mr.
bath’s health began rapidly to decline. He seemed very con-
tented, but kept his own room and refused society. As Mabel
Elsie confided to Mrs. Ellis over a quart of bitter, he could not
live for ever, and with him the annuity ended. Not that she
minded that, for she was prepared to swear before any Court
in the land that she never saved a penny out of her father-in-
law—which was perfectly true—let alone his pilfering habits;
but there was the funeral to be considered. If Mr. Trembath
died between two quarter days, when the one cheque was well
disposed of on his behalf, the next would never be paid. That
she understood, was the iniquitous rule; and she left it to
Mrs. Ellis’ judgment how awkward it would be for her to have
to bury him at her own expense.
“Thenks; if its me you’re meaning,” said Mrs. Ellis
bitterly; “I’m sure I’ve no wish to be beholden to anybody for
what the Doctor orders me; and I’m not one to be over fond
of a glass but the spirit in which it is offered, Misses Trim-
bath.” Mabel Elsie hastened to assure her, to the extent of
another jug, that nothing of the sort was implied, but that she
trusted she knew her duty better than to allow Packer’s Rents
an opening for criticism when her father-in-law was taken.
Ultimately Mrs. Ellis was dissolved to a correct appreciation
of Mabel Elsie’s grievance.
“The mean ole scut to go and take to ‘is bed after all
done for ‘im,” she said, and assured her hostess that let her
hear any nasty talk among the neighbours she would have a
word to say in the matter.
With the dismal foresight of their class the neighbours
discussed Mr. Trembath’s death as a fact accomplished.
Packer’s Rents was not superstitious, but the presence of a
man who already might be considered dead aroused a morbid
interest which presently became whispering.
There were the noises. One hinted, another swore that
while Mabel Elsie was at the box factory things went on in
number seventeen which could not be explained on any human
grounds. Mrs. McGrath was frankly of the opinion that
Mr. Trembath had celestial visions, and announced her fervent
desire to visit his chamber on behalf of her daughter three
years in Purgatory. For some time consideration for Mabel
Elsie kept the whispering under a forcing pot, as it were; until
the tales engendered were too horrible, and heads began to
shake. Finally Mrs. Ellis out with it and declared that while
she had a tongue in her head no neighbour of hers should have
her character taken away, and tearfully made her way to
Mabel Elsie’s door. Mabel Elsie took it the wrong way.
A pack of scandal mongering hussies. Hadn’t her
in-law all that a man could want, and didn’t she hope she
might drop dead where she stood if she had ever touched a
penny of his dirty money beyond what was her lawful due from
a troublesome lodger? Father-in-law or no father-in-law, she
should like to know which among them would have refrained
from prosecuting when the very change out of their Saturday’s
shopping was stolen from the dresser? It was time folks
looked nearer home, and talking of that, how could Mrs. Ellis
afford a new sofa out of Bill’s wages and him always at the
“And I’m sure I never breathed a word,” panted Mrs.
Ellis, “and if you ask me its more a matter for the parson
than the police”; and a sympathetic murmur went up about
the judgment of God. All this took place in the passage down
stairs, and in the midst of it came a thin sound from Mr.
Trembath’s bedroom. The women drew together; but all
agreed that though they were sorry for Mabel Elsie it couldn’t
have happened at a better moment. Mabel Elsie’s jaw dropped,
and she turned white and red.
One suggested that it was like a child singing, though
Mrs. McGrath, as the mother of seven, firmly asserted that no
earthly babe could make a noise like that. She was for going
upstairs, but Bill Ellis happened to come in the nick of time.
“W’y its a ‘cordian!” he cried. “Listen, the ole
is tryin’ to play ‘We wont go ‘ome till mornin”;” and with
uplifted finger he hoarsely sang the words. Some time was
wasted in argument, and the sound brokenly ended. At last
Bill took his courage in both hands, and with a great deal of
unnecessary noise ascended the stairs. But when he reached
Mr. Trembath’s room he found the grey man lying dead,
clasping in his hand a sixpenny mouth organ. From his
peaceful expression it may be surmised that the morning had
TO ANY HOUSEHOLDER.
Some general instinct has remained with men, so that
consensus of nations has been in favour of light colours—light
tones, rather, of whatever colours—for the outward colouring
of towns; with some lamentable exceptions. As a rule it has
been accident, and not design, that has darkened the exterior
of modern houses; we have in London the darkest walls that
ever rebuffed the sun. It is the water-colour of the rain, with
soot in her colour-box, and no fresco of man’s preparation,
that has arrayed them so. The washing of the exterior of
St. Paul’s would have been a better enterprise than the applica-
tions we know of within. But, short of this supreme degree
of darkness, London had some time ago the unlucky inspiration
to paint its houses, all about the West, in oil-colour of dark
red. It was the complaint of the silk-stockinged century that
the pedestrian must needs fare ill in town, for the same mud
made black splashes on the white stockings, and white
splashes on the black. In like manner the London climate
that painted the light stone black, made the dark red (a most
intolerable colour) a shade or two lighter with dust in time;
after which some of the painted houses were reloaded with the
red, and the owners of others had misgivings, and went back
to the sticky white of custom.
The sticky white is bad enough, but it is witness to
general acknowledgment of the prohibition of dark colour,
whether on our luckless walls of paint, or on the flattered,
fortunate plaster of the south that softly lodges the warming
day, and has its colour broken by the weather as an artist
chooses to let a tint be effaced or an outline lapse. There is
no surer distinction between an old Italian coloured house and
a new than this: the new is dark and the old is pale. True,
the new is coloured ill as well as darkly, and the old coloured
finely (always warmly with variants of rose and yellow) as
well as lightly; but the deep tone and the high are difference
enough. The new man choses chocolate-colour and dark
blue; blue is his preference, and his blue jars with the sky.
The ancient man so used his beautiful distemper that it
always looked not merely like a colour, but like a white
coloured. The old under-white enlivens the thin and careless
colour, somewhat like the soft flame of a lamp by day within
a coloured paper. Moreover, the painter did his large and
slight work on a simple wall, and not on the detail of cornice
or portal. His colour took no account of the architectural
forms; it was arbitrary, a decoration that neither followed nor
contradicted the builder’s design, but stood independent thereof,
merely taking the limit of the wall as the boundary of the paint-
ing. Here again all the right guidance has forsaken the man
of to-day, who takes the mouldings of his house one by one,
and gives them separate colours.
Needless to say, the original colour of the stone is better
even than this happy plaster, when there
is real colour in
stone, greyish, greenish, yellowish, the natural metallic stain.
It is all light in tone; nothing darker, I suppose, than the
brown of the stone that built the Florentine palaces, and all
else lighter. The quarry yields light colours in all countries,
colours as pale as dust, but brighter in their paleness, with the
greater keenness and freshness of the rock. But the nobler
old stone has a kind of life in its colour, as though you could
see some little way into it, as into a fruit or a child’s flesh.
Such is the old marble, but not the new.
We may suppose that it was because they had new marble
and not old, as we understand old age for marble, that the
Greeks were obliged to colour their temples. It is with some-
thing like dismay that we look where Ruskin points, at
“temples whose azure and purple once flamed above the
Grecian promontories.” Were they azure indeed? It seems
impossible to set any blue against a sky. Nay, the sky forbids
blue walls. Be they dark or light, they must either repeat the
celestial blue, or vary from it with an almost sickening effect.
Who has not seen a blue Italian sky, blue as it is at midsummer
right down to the horizon, at odds with a great blue house,
either a little greener or a little more violet than itself? Blue is a
colour that cannot bear such risks. And “purple” sounds dark,
as though Greece might have had to endure a distress of colour
such as that which comes of the thin dark slates of purple where-
with our suburbs are roofed. If one could be justified, by any
trace of colour in any chink, in believing that transparent
yellow and red, lighted by the marble,
glowed upon those
seaward heights and capes towards the sunrise, and that the
noble stone was not quenched by azure and purple paint! Why
then there would not be this discomfort in our thoughts of
Grecian colour. Of some among the boldly and delicately-
tinted old palaces of the Genoese coast you can hardly tell,
at the hour of sunset, whether their rose is their own or the light’s.
To the Londoner eye of Charles Dickens there seems to
have been something gaily incongruous in a fortress house
with walls centuries old, and barred with ancient iron across
the lower windows, yet thus softly coloured; he expressed
the cheerful liberal ignorance in which he travelled by calling
one such palace a pink gaol; but this old faint scarlet is a
strong colour as well as a soft; and above all it is warm.
A cold colour, and no other, suggests meanness, insecurity,
and indignity. Colour the battering walls of Monte Cassino,
now warm with the hue of their stone, a harsh blue, and their
visible power is gone; whereas no daubing with orange or
rose, however it might disfigure them, would make them seem
to fail. But a dark colour of any kind, whether hot or cold,
would make them visibly lose their profound hold on their
rock, and their long, searching, and ancient union with their
This is what the householder should be persuaded to
consider—the harshness and weakness of the dark colour, the
harmony and strength of that which is rather a white warmly
coloured. Any householder is master of a
landscape, and the
view is at his mercy. Everything may be set out of order by
the hard colour and the paper thinness of his slate roof. See
the dull country that the Channel divides, half of it on the
Dover heights, and half on those of the Pas de Calais. It is
all one dull country. It has not the beauty of downs, nor of
pasture; it has neither trees nor a beautiful bareness; it has
no dignity in the outlines of the hills; but the French side has
the beauty of roofs, and the English side makes the very
sunshine unsightly with towns and villages covered with
slate. All the French roofs are light in their tone, silver greys,
greenish greys in the towns, a pure high scarlet in the solitary
farms. This kind of French tile retrieves all the poor land-
scape of patchwork fields, green and dull in their unshadowed
noons. The red is strong, simple, and abrupt, a vermilion
filled with yellow.
It is true that old village tiles are fine, although they
dark, but only on condition that the cottages they roof should
be whitewashed or of a cheerful brick. There is brick and
brick, and all the very light colours are good. Light rosy
bricks and very small, long in shape, seem the most charming,
and these are rare. Next come the coarse but admirable light
yellow-red. But any man who builds a house of dark bricks
inclining to purple and pointed with slate colonr, would have
done better to erect something in stucco with pillars and a
portico. All kinds of red villas continue to crowd upon our
sight, and it is to be feared that many a purchaser is afraid
that he shall be reproached with the
crudity or the brightness
of his house, and so makes the lamentable choice of dark
bricks. But there is nothing more unreasonable than this
perpetual complaint of the newness of new houses. Let the
owner of a new house have the courage of his date. Let him
be persuaded that a new house ought to look new, that the
Middle Ages in their day looked as new and tight as a box of
well-made toys, that he is bound to pay the debt of his own
time, and that the light of the sky asks for recognition, for
signals and conspicuous replies from the dwellings of men.
Let the mere white-washer, too, whose work is generally
beneficent, and who has received undeserved reproaches for a
long time now, let him beware of chillling his pail with blue
tinges. The coastguard huts on the Cornish coast would be
the better if their common touch of blue were forbidden them.
All this advice is, I know well, inexpert, and backed by
learning. But it is urged with care and with comparison of
countries by one who, in search of roofs and intent upon
colours, has, in the remarkable words of Walt Whitman,
‘Tis mute, the word they went to hear on high Dodona
When winds were in the oakenshaws, and all the cauldrons
And mute’s the midland navel-stone beside the singing fountian,
And echoes list to silence now where gods told lies of old.
I took my question to the shrine that has not ceased from
The heart within, that tells the truth and tells it twice as
And from the cave of oracles I heard the priestess shrieking
That she and I should surely die and never live again.
O priestess, what you cry is clear, and sound good sense I
But let the screaming echoes rest and froth your mouth
‘Tis true there’s better boose than brine, but he that drowns
must drink it;
And oh, my lass, the news is news that men have heard
The King with half the East at heel is marched from lands of
Their fighters drink the rivers up, their shafts benight
And he that stands will die for naught, and home there’s no
The Spartans on the sea-wet rock sat down and combed
A. E. HOUSMAN.
THE GENIUS OF POPE.
It can be easily shown that although the Restoration
inaugurated in England an age of prose, yet the position of
poetry as the chief and natural medium for pure literature was
still accepted almost without question. For that reason Pope
was taken in his own day to be the undisputed head and front of
English letters. His contemporaries probably felt, as we feel,
that Swift’s was immeasurably the greater genius; but they
held, and held rightly, that Pope in his work was the true
representative of what has come to be called the Augustan
literature. The two works in prose dating from that period
which have sunk deepest into the mind of the race—Robinson
Crusoe and Gulliver’s Travels—were written by men who
stood outside the main literary movement; for Defoe never at
any time attained a place in the great literary coterie of which
Swift, while he kept in touch with England, was a brilliant
member; and Swift wrote Gulliver when lonely and rebel-
lious in Ireland, thinking his own thoughts. Now the
distinctive characteristic of the Augustan literature is that
we have no longer in a book the mind of an individual, but
the mind of a Society finding expression through the
mouth of one of its members. It was a natural result of that
intellectual ascendency of France, which at this time made
itself so strongly felt; for the Frenchman is always social
rather than individualist; and, at least in criticism, men had
come to take their beliefs from France.
The cardinal point in these beliefs was that literature
admitted of rules, which had been first formulated by Aristotle,
after him by Horace, and finally by Boileau; and consequently,
that the first duty of a writer was to be correct; to conform
in poetry not only to the laws of grammar and of rhyme, but
to certain other canons of taste hardly less definite. It is true
that Milton, in no way touched by French ideas, attached
importance to the Aristotelian criticism, and that in his Samson
he worked on a Greek model. But then Milton knew Greek
a great deal better than Pope knew any language but his own.
In nothing is Pope more typical of his school than in constant
lip-homage to the ancients whom he had never read. He trans-
lated Homer, it is true, but he founded his rendering mainly on
other versions; he knew Virgil somewhat, but was evidently
deaf and blind to the note of lyricism which pervades Virgil as
it pervades the work of all great poets. What he did know
was Horace; but all that he saw in Horace was the admirable
expression of a sententious philosophy, the work of a “great
wit.” The word “wit” recurs perpetually in Pope’s writings;
it represents the goal of his ambitions; and he has defined it
in a characteristic couplet:
True wit is nature to advantage
What oft was thought, but ne’er so well expressed.
But the function of a poet is not to separate and crystallise
into compactness the common thought; it is rather to link it
to infinities of association, to send it out trailing clouds of
glory; to show the “primrose by the river brim” or the
“flower in the crannied wall” as a single expression of forces
making for beauty that sweep through the cosmos. Shake-
speare abounds in sententious utterance; for instance:
We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.
But here, apart from the large harmony of sound, apart from
the intrinsic beauty of the words, is their dramatic fitness in
Prospero’s mouth, when his fairy masque fades suddenly, and
he evokes the solemn images of all that we take to be least
dreamlike, ending with “the great globe itself, yea all that it
inherit.” We cannot separate his aphorism and feel that we
can see all around it, as we can with any characteristic utter-
ance of Pope’s, such as:
What can ennoble sots or fools or
Alas! not all the blood of all the Howards.
If one can assert anything positively in criticism, it is
Pope’s ideal of poetry is unpoetic. But it does not follow that
Pope was not a poet. That he was a great writer no one will
deny. The disservice which Pope did to English literature
—and it has been much exaggerated—is that he used his
authority to formulate as possessing universal validity the
rules which it suited his own genius to observe. His first
study was to be “correct;” to make the expression of his
thought sharply defined in form, and completely intelligible; to
exhaust in each phrase the content of his own meaning. Now,
this is much easier to do if the thought is limited in volume,
and Pope was never troubled with more thought than he could
express. The words of the great poets came to us charged
with suggestion; they convey more than they utter. Pope
also can suggest, can hint by innuendo; but the innuendo is
definite as the voice of scandal—as here:
Not louder shrieks to threat’ning heaven are
When husbands or when lapdogs breathe their last.
But he is never, at his best, able to do more than give perfect
expression to a brilliant observation, so concise and logical,
that it would seem to admit perfectly of translation into any
language, losing nothing but the clench of rhyme; though here
and there some individual colour given to a word might baffle
Narcissa’s nature, tolerably
To make a wash, would hardly stew a child.
Yet it sometimes happens that the master of prose can
beat him on his own ground. “Who are the critics?” says
Mr. Phoebus in Lord Beaconsfield’s Lothalt, “The critics
are those who have failed in literature or in art.” That is
happier than Pope’s lines:
Some are bewildered in the maze of
And some made coxcombs nature meant but fools.
In search of wit these lose their common sense,
And then turn critics in their own defence.
It is seldom, however, that Pope can be excelled in
densation and the happy turn of a phrase. His workmanship
everywhere approaches perfection. The inherent weakness of
his poetry is, as Mark Pattison has pointed out, that the
workmanship often outvalues the matter; that our admiration
is compelled for the expression of a mean sentiment, a half-
truth, or an ignorant fallacy. To his mastery of style Pope
united no store of knowledge, no wide and lofty range of feel-
ing. When his matter is intrinsically valuable apart from
expression it consists in reflections upon the human life with
which he was in contact socially. He is the poet of Society,
and his observation, if acute, is often petty and malicious to a
degree that spoils our pleasure in his triumphant mastery of
Yet if ever a man had a right to clement consideration,
Pope was he. Externally, circumstances were kind to him.
Born in 1688, the son of rich and kindly parents, he was stinted
for nothing; his amazing precocity was in all ways encouraged.
The Pastorals, which he published at the age of twenty-one
(though much of them was written in boyhood), earned
applause, and two years later his Essay on Criticism fixed his
fame, and brought him into close personal relations with the
leaders of taste. But to offset all this was the abiding misery
of his physical disabilities. Dwarfish and deformed, he went
through life in “one long disease.” The stigma which de-
formity sets on a face in hard drawn lines of pain is often an
evidence of tense intellectual power and resolute will; but it
often also indicates dangerous temper. Pope had much of the
dwarf’s traditional malice and long-minded resentment. His
life was a long triumph, unaffected by political changes (for
he stood outside of parties); but it was marred by the
temper which made him see hostility where none existed, and
poisoned every scratch of criticism; so that the most famous
things in his work are bound up with the memory of literary
feuds. Yet he inspired deep friendship. No letters in the
world show a warmer feeling of one man for another than
those which Swift wrote to him and about him.
Pope was best known in his own day by his translation
of Homer—the most profitable book, financially, to its author
that had ever been published in England. His most pretentious
work, the Essay on Man, abounds in much-quoted distichs and
is singularly barren of real thought. Those poems of Pope
which the average reader to-day is likely to enjoy are first, the
Essay on Criticism; secondly, the Rape of the Lock; and
thirdly, the Moral Essays. To these may be added some
superb passages in The Dunciad.
The Essay on Criticism will always please by sheer
cleverness, and nothing could exceed it as a formal expiration
of that age’s aesthetic tenets. But its arrangement into
headings and sub-headings like the model prize essay is too
obvious, and even its cleverness is the precocious talent of
Pope was never young. Yet something of the glow of
youth is to be found in his exquisite Rape of the Lock
(written at the age of twenty-four) which
can be best
compared to one of those Fetes Galantes in which Watteau
depicts a group of fine ladies and gentlemen taking their
pleasure, and depicts it with a rich mastery of style which
gives a dignity to the slight and artificial subject. The
comparison, however, is inadequate, for throughout Pope’s
description, even while it conveys the very flutter of a fan,
there runs an undertone of trenchant raillery. Here is
Belinda at her first arising on the fatal day:
And now, unveiled, the
toilet stands displayed,
Each silver vase in mystic order Laid.
First, robed in white, the nymph intent adores,
With head uncovered, the cosmetic powers.
A heavenly image in the glass appears,
To that she bends, to that her eyes she rears;
The inferior priestess, at her altar’s side,
Trembling begins the sacred rites of pride.
Unnumbered treasures ope at once, and here
The various offerings of the world appear;
From each she nicely culls with curious toil,
And decks the goddess with the glittering spoil.
This casket India’s glowing gems unlocks,
And all Arabia breathes from yonder box.
The tortoise here and
Transformed to combs, the speckled, and the white,
Here files of pins extend their shining rows,
Puffs, powders, patches, Bibles, billet-doux.
Now awful beauty puts on all its arms;
The fair each moment rises in her charms,
Repairs her smiles, awakens
And calls forth all the wonders of her face;
Sees by degrees a purer blush arise,
And keener lightnings quicken in her eyes.
The busy sylphs surround their darling care,
These set the head, and those divide the hair,
Some fold the sleeve, whilst others plait the gown;
And Betty’s praised for labours not her own.
For ten years (1715-1725) after the Rape of the
Pope was busy with his great work of translation; and during all
these years he accumulated grudges against men who had
vexed him by criticism a successful rivalry. Once his hands
were free, he turned to a sweeping revenge, and, after three
years polishing published The Dunciad, perhaps the greatest
monument that a man ever erected to his petty personal resent-
ment. It is characteristic of him, both as artist and man, that
he was not content with the first publication, but issued a
revised version twelve years later, when Colley Cibber, dis-
placing Theobalds on the throne of Dulness, showed for a
second time that Pope’s notion of the arch-dunce was a potential
rival. But most of his victims, competitors in the trial games
instituted by the presiding goddess of Stupidity, are only
remembered by his allusions; the work cannot be read with-
out detailed commentary; and, like all satires applied to trivial
dislikes and insignificant persons, the Dunciad has passed out
of general knowledge. Yet it abounds in superb passages, of
which one may be cited, describing a new labour of the com-
petitors after the trial by braying:
This labour passed, by
Bridewell all descend,
(As morning prayer and flagellation end)
To where Fleet-ditch with disemboguing streams
Rolls the large tribute of dead dogs to Thames,
The king of dykes! than whom no sluice of mud
With deeper sable blots the silver flood.
“Here strip, my children here at once leap in,
Here prove who best can dash through thick and thin,
And who the most in love of dirt excel,
Or dark dexterity of groping well.”
But the mere technical mastery in expressing unworthy
hatred gives no man a long lease of posterity’s ear. Pope
survives as a satirist by those Moral Essays (couched in the
form of Epistles to persons of distinction) which deal with
particular examples of general themes. Here is a part of the
passage in which he illustrates the persistence of a ruling
“Odious! in woollen 1
‘twould a saint provoke,”
(Were the last words that poor Narcissa spoke)
“No, let a charming chintz, and Brussels lace
Wrap my cold limbs and shade my lifeless face:
One would not, sure, be frightful when one’s dead—
And—Betty—give this cheek a little red.”
Here again from the essay on the characters of women, is a
sketch of what many take to be a type known only to-day:
Flavia’s a wit, has too
much sense to pray
To toast our wants and wishes, is her way;
Nor asks of God, but of her stars, to give
The mighty blessing, “while we live to live.”
Then all for death, that opiate of the soul!
Say, what can cause such impotence of mind?
A spark too fickle, or a spouse too kind?
Wise wretch! with pleasures too refined to please;
With too much spirit to be e’er at ease;
With too much quickness ever to be taught;
With too much thinking to have common thought:
You purchase pain with all that joy can give,
And die of nothing but a rage to live.
There is no end to things in Pope as good and as
and, perhaps one may say, as little known. What everybody
does know is the portrait which he drew of “Atticus,” and
published when Addison was dead.
It is worth while to compare this with Dryden’s sketch
of Shaftesbury. Achitophel’s ill qualities as statesman are first
depicted with damning emphasis; but, as a real offset there
follows the passage that praises the upright judge. Pope, on
the other hand, leads off with his eulogy, saying of Addison
what all the world said, and saying it better: then after this
ostentation of impartiality comes the subtle onslaught, stab
upon stab, with the venom of contemptuous ridicule left in
every wound. The passage has been taken, and rightly, for
Pope’s most typical achievement in poetry: beside it we can put
nothing from him but the fiercer attack on Sporus (Lord
Hervey), or the close of the Dunciad which celebrates the final
triumph of the Dull. These are the things of which we feel
that verse is an essential part; that emotion so vibrant demands
metrical expression. Such other passages as the eulogy of
“The Man of Ross,” a Welsh philanthropist, need the verse,—
form in another sense; without it they would be insignificant.
But Pope’s poetry, where it has the character of true poetry, is
always the utterance of a strong passion—the passion of hate.
And herein he differs from many other satirists, but above all
from the greatest of all British satirists, his friend Swift,
in that his hatred was not for principles but for persons; not
for man or men, but this or that individual. Literary and
social jealousy is the strongest of all his feelings. All the
more wonderful is it that the friendship between him and Swift
should have lasted out life in both, though tried by so severe
a test as collaboration and partnership. But the credit of this
belongs, I think, not to Pope.
POOR LITTLE MRS. VILLIERS.
“Where is little Mrs. Villiers” demanded Miss Hooley.
The question was prefaced by a disconcerting gaze directed
towards the new-comer in the seat opposite—a seat presumably
occupied as a rule by the lady of the diminutive.
Mrs. Lawrence concealed a smile. Though her school-
days were now somewhat dim memories, she felt distinctly
like the new girl who is expected to apologize for her existence.
Glancing down the long table she was aware that a pension
bore a ghastly resemblance to a boarding-school, twenty years
after. Was “little Mrs. Villiers” the popular girl, she
wondered? And if so, on what grounds?
“She’s changed her place,” volunteered Miss Pembridge,
a spare lady, who dressed with the chastened smartness of one
ever mindful of her high calling as the niece of a bishop.
“Oh! I’m so sorry. She will be a great
loss to our table,
dear little thing,” exclaimed Miss Mullins. She delivered the
remark, amiable in substance, with the air of one hurling a
bomb-shell, and Mrs. Lawrence awaited the explosion of the
apparently harmless missile with some curiosity, Its effect
was almost instantaneous.
“That’s entirely a matter of opinion,” ejaculated Miss
Rigg, her opposite neighbour. The observation was attended
by a prolonged sniff, and Miss Mullins’ comfortable fat face
slowly crimsoned with indignation. While she meditated a
sufficiently crushing retort, her opportunity for making it was
cut short by the first speaker.
“Where’s she going to sit then?” enquired Miss Hooley,
refusing macaroni with the air of one wearied with an oft
“There, of course,” returned Miss Rigg, sniffing again, as
she nodded in the direction of a small table near the wall.
At the table indicated a young man was already seated.
His shamefaced manner of glancing about the room while he
eat his soup, not only proclaimed him a fresh arrival, but one
somewhat overwhelmed by the eternal feminine.
“That’s too bad of you,” stammered Miss Mullins.
“Poor little thing!—under the circumstances too.”
“The very circumstances you’d expect it under,” returned
Miss Rigg, with an acrimony as obvious as her sentence was
“I agree with Miss Mullins entirely. Potatoes raw
again,” exclaimed Miss Hooley.
During the course of the dinner, Mrs. Lawrence learnt to
disentangle this lady’s ejaculations about the food, from the
main trend of her conversation, but the effect was at first con-
“She’s very late,” ventured Miss Pembridge diluting with
filtered water the dangerous strength of her vin ordinaire,
“Got to dress up for the occasion of course,” was Miss
Rigg’s instant explanatinon. “Ah! here she comes, at last.
Now you’ll see whether I’m right!”
Mrs. Lawrence looked up with interest as the door opened,
and noticed that “little Mrs. Villiers” was not only very pretty
but also singlarly childish in appearance.
Her hair—soft brown fluffy hair, hung in baby tendrils
her forehead and round her little ears, and her wide opened blue
eyes had the wondering half startled child-look so touching in
baby faces. She was very simply dressed in white muslin,
and a row of pink corals round her throat, emphasised her
youth, and the charming innocence of her expression. At the
door she paused a moment, with an air of hesitation, and a
surprised glance to find all the seats at the long table occupied.
Guiseppe, the waiter, darted forward. “Madame is placed
at the little table to-night,” he explained, leading the way.
“Oh! is my place changed then?” she murmured,
“Very much surprised, no doubt,”
ejaculated the irrepres-
sible Miss Rigg in a triumphant undertone.
“If there’s anything I despise it’s a spiteful mind. Boiled
beef again,” said Miss Hooley in something that was intended
for a whisper.
Mrs. Lawrence, meanwhile, watched with some curiosity
the effect produced upon the grave young man across the room,
by the sudden appearance of youth and beauty at his lonely
table. He reddened visibly; moved forks and spoons about
with nervous hesitation, and kept his eyes fixed upon the rim
of his plate.
Little Mrs. Villiers studied the menu,
and Mrs. Lawrence
was recalled to a sense of social duty by a remark from her too
long neglected left hand neighbour.
Glancing at the small table at a later stage in the dinner,
she was amused to see the young people chattering like a
couple of children. Now that the boy had lost his awkward
shyness, she thought him a somewhat engaging youth, frank,
boyish and apparently enthusiastic; and his companion was
She said as much to the lady on her left, whose assent
was accompanied by a lowering of eyelids, and just the flicker
of a smile at the corner of a humourous mouth.
The pension drawing-room was much like
drawing-rooms she found, later on, when everyone trooped
The usual little groups, which included the few men of
the party, gathered round the card tables. Nondescript ladies
with knitting, lined the walls. A strenuous, unattached
woman studied Baedeker, and with her short-skirted friend,
planned out a fierce day’s work for the morrow. Groups of
ordinary girls, chattered and giggled, and the usual people
drew white shawls about their shoulders, discussed the
treacherous nature of the Italian climate, grumbled about the
food, and felt the customary draught.
Mrs. Lawrence moved her chair nearer to Mrs. Coltingham,
the woman who had attracted her at dinner, and whose circum-
stances she had already discovered to be much like her own.
She too was a childless widow, who had let her London
house to find in travel the mental stimulus denied her in a
somewhat empty and monotonous life.
“Where is the pretty little lady?” she began tentatively,
with a glance round the room.
Before Mrs. Coltingham could reply, Miss Rigg had
looked up from her knitting. “Oh! you’ll find her in the
passage, flirting with the boy,” she announced with a laugh.
“Flirting! Poor little thing! I think her sad circum-
stances might protect her!” declared Miss Mullins, the stout
lady Mrs. Lawrence had already designated as the “mother-
“Sad circumstances! I was brought up to
divorced women not respectable,” retorted Miss Rigg,
warming to the fight.
“She divorced him remember!” returned Miss Mullins,
pink in her defence of a sister woman.
“It makes a difference of course,” remarked Miss Pem-
bridge with maidenly hesitation. “Its not a subject one cares to
talk about—quite. Still, sacred as the married tie is—”
“Sacred fiddlesticks!” interposed Miss Hooley, glaring
at Miss Pembridge whom she detested. “Men are a lot of
brutes, and if a few more women would divorce ’em before
they married ’em, so much the better!”
Mrs. Lawrence and Mrs. Coltingham exchanged glances
which led to a slightly abrupt change of seat on the part of
At the further end of the drawing-room, when she could
control her voice, Mrs. Coltingham remarked. “This
happens every night, directly Mrs. Villiers’ name is mentioned.
We are frank in discussion to say the least of it. But
you see most of us have lived here all the winter, and perhaps
we know one another a little too well.”
Mrs. Lawrence smiled “It’s amusing at first, but I can
imagine it palls . . . Who is this little ‘Mrs. Villiers?'”
“No one knows, except that she has divorced Mr.
Villiers, whoever he may be.
“She looks such a child!” “But children nowadays are
Mrs. Lawrence laughed. “You don’t like her?”
“Oh! I didn’t say that returned the other lady. Preco-
cious children are sometimes amusing you know, and after
four months in a foreign pension, one welcomes anything
that’s amusing. The house is torn by faction on her
account.” she went on still smiling.
“She has her devoted adherents, and her no less devoted
enemies. Each party discusses her all day long, and I believe,
far into the night. Every other topic fades into insignificance
before the burning question of Mrs. Villiers’ innocence and
integrity, versus her depravity and guile.”
“And to which side do you incline?”
Mrs. Coltingham shrugged her shoulders. “I—Oh, a
plague on both your houses’ is my attitude,” she returned
lightly. “To me she is merely an amusing little person.”
In the vestibule, on her way upstairs to bed, Mrs.
Lawrence passed little Mrs. Villiers and the boy. The
vestibule, comfortably furnished and heated, was used as a
second drawing-room by the visitors, and this evening it was
Mrs. Villiers and her companion were seated near the
door, and were evidently discussing art.
“Yes, I love pictures too,” the little
lady was saying as
Mrs. Lawrence approached. “But I’m so ignorant about
them. If only I could do the galleries with someone who—”
“If you—I mean, might I? could we sometimes,”
stammered the boy.
“Oh, would you? That would be
his companion in the natural delighted voice of a child. “I’ve
By this time the deaf old lady stationed immediately in
front of the door, had become aware that she was being
requested to move, and Mrs. Lawrence was able to make
“I believe she’s quite a nice little thing,” she reflected on
her way up to bed, carrying with her the memory of a girlish
unaffected voice. “What a set these boarding house women
are, to be sure.”
In the course of the next few weeks Mrs. Lawrence
learnt that “the boy” bore the not uncommon name of
Brown, that this drawback notwithstanding, he was as she
described him, “a delightful young fellow”—fresh, unaffected
and unusually boyish; also that he was falling hopelessly
in love with Mrs. Villiers. Mrs. Lawrence was not sur-
prised. She herself had fallen in love with little Mrs. Villiers.
The child was only two and twenty she discovered, and such
a dear baby at that. It was impossible to realise that this
fresh, girlish creature had experienced not only a woman’s
tragedy, in a wretched marriage, but also the humiliation and
pain of the only escape the law provides. Hers Mrs.
Lawrence reflected, was one of the rare temperaments over
which evil has no power—the radiant joyous child nature
for which every day the world is newly created, and yesterday
has no existence.
Only once had she ever mentioned her husband’s name
to Mrs. Lawrence, and on that occasion the elder woman had
smiled tenderly over the sweet naivete of her little friend.
It was while they were walking together in the Boboli
Gardens one warm afternoon in February, that Mrs. Villiers
met an acquaintance. Mrs. Lawrence had already noticed this
woman as she came towards them down one of the long
tunnel-like avenues, and noticed her with disapproval. Showily
dressed, obviously painted, walking with an exaggeration of
the fashionable gait of the moment, her fastidious judgment
had instantly affixed to her the label “bad style.” It was
therefore with a shock, the reverse of pleasant, that she found
such an individual stridently claiming acquaintance with her
little companion. Mrs. Lawrence walked on, and in a few
moments Mrs. Villiers overtook her, a pink flush of annoy-
ance on her face.
She was silent for a moment, and then glancing up, she
said abruptly: “You hated the look of that woman?”
“Well!—to be quite frank”—began Mrs. Lawrence.
“I know! I know! “she interrupted hastily.
was one of my husband’s friends. I was obliged then—” she
broke off, her voice trembling a little.
They were alone in the avenue, and Mrs. Lawrence put a
kind hand on her arm.
“I understand dear, of course. But now you are free,
there is no occasion to know such people. Take my advice—
drop her. Drop her at once.”
“Oh, I will!” she returned with an
energy which made
the elder woman laugh.
“But how unlucky she should be staying in
. . . . I had to know all sorts of people you see. And
some of them—” she paused again; and Mrs. Lawrence
experienced the rush of indignant pity one feels for a child
exposed to evil influences.
“Oh! I’m so glad that’s all over,” she sighed.
“Yes,” said Mrs. Villiers, simply. “It was dreadful of
course. But people were very kind to me, and helped me to
get free. And now, do you know, unless something like this
happens to remind me, I have forgotten it.”
She turned her wide opened blue eyes full upon Mrs.
Lawrence, with an innocent surprised gravity which touched
the elder women.
“That’s right dear,” she replied heartily. “It’s the best
thing that could happen.”
“But,” Mrs. Villiers added, “you’re quite right about
Mrs.— about the woman who spoke to me just now. I
won’t know her any more. I can’t bear to think of knowing
her when there are dears like you in the world,” she added
slipping her hand into Mrs. Lawrence’s. “You don’t think
it’s forward of me, saying that, do you?” she enquired, an
anxious little pucker appearing on her downy forehead. “I’ve
known you quite a little while, but I don’t remember my
mothor you see; and somehow—”
The sweetness in her appealing voice made Mrs. Lawrence,
who did not look matronly, ashamed of the twinge she felt.
“Yes my dear,” she laughed. “I’m getting quite an old
woman of course, but a mother’s a nice thing after all.”
“Oh a very nice thing,” agreed Mrs.
Villiers, patting her
The “idyll” as she called the increasingly intimate
ship of the “Brown boy” and little Mrs. Villiers, became a
source of much affectionate interest to Mrs. Lawrence. She
watched its progress delightedly, and as she stood at the
drawing-room window one afternoon, and saw them start
on an expedition to Fiesole, her satisfaction overflowed into a
comment addressed to Mrs. Coltingham, the only other
occupant of the room.
“They will make a charming pair!” she exclaimed.
“I do so want to see the beautiful Mino da Fiesole in the
church,” murmured Mrs. Coltingham in such admirable imita-
tion of a certain babyish voice, that in spite of her annoyance,
Mrs. Lawrence laughed.
“You are not fair to that child,” she exclaimed after a
moment, with some heat.
“Oh! I think I do her justice,” returned the other lady.
Mrs. Lawrence had intended asking Mrs. Coltingham to
accompany her to the Uffizi that afternoon, but she refrained.
There were moments when she did not like Mrs. Coltingham.
It was all very well to be a woman of the world; she, Mrs.
Lawrence, was that herself, heaven was aware, but it was
another thing to be hard and suspicious; to feel no pity for
youth and misfortune so touchingly allied as in the case of
little Mrs. Villiers. She was disappointed in Mrs. Colting-
ham. It was sad to have to admit that even a woman so
much above the average as this one, could not rise above vulgar
It was with these reflections passing through her mind,
while she stood buttoning her gloves in the hall, that she en-
countered the padrone, Signora Valli, also ready to start from
Mrs. Lawrence was going in her direction. She would
in that case case be more than charmed to accompany
her. Ecco! The post. Two for Madame Lawrence. Ah!
one, and she hoped a pleasant one, for dear little Mrs. Villiers,
the rest Guiseppe could sort, and arrange on the hall table.
Thus, amidst torrents of English fluent enough if strongly
flavoured with foreign accent, they emerged from the pension
to the Lung Arno.
“Mrs. Villiers is a favourite of yours I know,” hazarded
Mrs. Lawrence. “Did you know her before she came here?”
But no, it was only since her arrival from England some
weeks since, so touching, so forlorn, that she had grown into
the heart of Signora Valli.
Did she know anything of Mr. Villiers? The Signora
knew as much as she required of him. Must he not be a
brute, a villain, a devil, who with such an angel to wife,
could maltreat and insult her? A child! A baby! Of a
disposition innocent and loving to a degree which the Signora
had never seen equalled. Of a temper saintly in its sweetness.
“Her temper is perfect!” agreed Mrs.
with indignation, many a veiled insult borne with admirable
The Signora’s face darkened. It was not for her to say
a word. Of necessity she must be silent. Never could she
open her lips to discuss the guests in her house. At the same
time there were people possessed of minds so evil, of tongues
so venomous, of hearts so black that the sight of youth, inno-
cence and beauty did but enrage them. For such individuals
contempt, silent contempt was the only possible treatment.
The Signora accordingly proceeded to subject them to a course
of contempt from which the silence was omitted and so over-
whelming was her eloquence that Mrs. Lawrence, deciding
that her head was not sufficiently strong this afternoon, to look
at pictures, took instead the tram to Fiesole, where the air
would be fresh and invigorating.
It was a glorious day, and she lingered some time in the
garden of the restaurant which provides tea and a magnificent
prospect, before she crossed the Piazza to enter the little church.
Shafts of misty sunlight struck across the aisle and
wavered on the pillars. The church was empty, and solemn
in its silence. Treading lightly, as though afraid to disturb its
quiet, Mrs. Lawrence crossed the stone pavement, and was
half-way up the staircase leading to one of the side chapels,
when she was arrested by the sound of a low agitated voice,
the voice of the Brown boy.
“I’m poor Kitty, but I’ll work day and night for you if
you will say yes. I love you so much. If you would only
let me take care of you; if you—”
Mrs. Lawrence turned and noiselessly retraced her steps,
down the stairs, across the stone pavement, and out into the
She was smiling, but there were tears in her eyes. In
almost the same words, had her own dead husband proposed
to her. She could hear in fancy, his voice, as he said “I’m
poor, Mildred, but I’ll work—and I love you.” Well! They
had been very happy. And now life was just beginning for
these two young things; a happy life, surely. Why not?
Tender memories came crowding to her mind as she crossed
the piazza, but in the midst of them, she found herself smiling.
A chapel, even such a secluded chapel as that she had left, was
a somewhat dangerous place for a declaration. “But bless the
boy, he’d have proposed in the pension drawing-room just
then! You could hear it in his voice,” she commented
mentally. How pretty ‘ Kitty ‘ must have looked leaning
against the rail of that concealed altar, and listening with half
She had reached the tram by this time, and had taken her
place for the descent, when a moment later the young people
also entered. Mrs. Lawrence was vexed. She had hoped to get
safely away before they left the chapel, and now her presence
would necessitate ceremonious behaviour.
The boy looked anything but glad to see her, she observed
with rueful amusement, but Kitty was even more affectionate
than usual, and her lively talk never ceased till the pension
door was reached.
Her letter was lying on the hall table, when they entered,
and she took it with a quick movement. “Come out just a
little while,” Mrs. Lawrence heard the boy pleading in an
undertone, as she was preparing to go upstairs.
But Mrs. Villiers excused herself. “Not just yet. I’m tired.
I shall see you this evening,” she replied in a voice which,
though hurried, retained all its caressing quality.
She ran upstairs, opening the letter as she went, and Mrs.
Lawrence, wondering a little, heard her own name pronounced
by the boy.
Will you come out a little while?” he begged with so
much eagerness that she turned and followed him at once with
an assenting smile.
They walked some way along the Lung Arno in silence.
The boy was obviously nervous, and a little troubled, but
she waited for him to begin. “Mrs. Lawrence,” he burst out
suddenly. “You are so clever, I believe you know that
I—I mean—I have asked Kitty—Mrs. Villiers to marry me, in
fact,” he concluded. His voice lost its hesitation, as he drew
himself up. He spoke like a man, and Mrs. Lawrence liked
“Yes,” she replied. “I am very glad.”
“I hoped you would be,” he said eagerly. “Because I
want you to help me.”
“To help you?”
“Yes—about Kitty. You see,” he hesitated, “I can’t get
her to promise. I—I—believe she cares for me,” he gulped,
grew red, and went on. “I’m sure she does.” “But it’s
natural she should hesitate just at first. She’s had an awful
time you know. And when a woman’s had an experience like
that,”—his face darkened— “no wonder she—”
“But, Mrs. Lawrence, you believe I mean to be good to
her don’t you?” He swung round, stopped short, and his
honest, anxious eyes met hers as he faced her.
“I am sure of it,” she said quietly.
“Well then, will you tell her so? She’s fond of you—she
trusts you. You’re going to take her to the ball to-night
“Yes, but you’re coming too?” she asked in surprise.
“No,—she doesn’t want me to come. I mean—she’s
upset, and she’s afraid people might talk. And perhaps she’s
right. You will have an opportunity, driving there and back,
won’t you, to—to say what you can for me.”
The entertainment to which at a ridiculously late hour the
same evening, Mrs. Lawrence found herself driving with little
Mrs. Villiers was the gigantic crush known as the Foreigners’
ball, held at the Borghese Palace. It had been arranged for some
time that she, Mrs. Villiers, and “the boy” should look in for
an hour or two more for the sake of seeing the palace and
watching the people, than with any idea of dancing in the
somewhat impossible crowd. The evening’s amusement had
been gaily planned, and Mrs. Lawrence felt it depressing to step
into the carriage without the boy, and to watch him gazing
wistfully after them from the doorstep of the pension. “Couldn’t
we have taken him?” she asked, a shade of reproach in her
voice, as they drove away. She had purposely busied herself
with her wraps while he was folding Mrs. Villiers’ frothy
dress round her little feet, and she did not see his last glance;
but the voice in which he said “Goodbye, I hope you’ll have a
lovely time,” moved her ridiculously.
Mrs. Villiers who was looking out of the window, turned
and laid a deprecating hand on her arm.
I am so confused,” she said hesitatingly. “Won’t you
let me think quietly for a little while?” And Mrs. Lawrence
acquiescing, mentally deferred all the wise gentle things she
meant to say, till the homeward drive.
The palace a blaze of light, a riot of colour with its
crimson carpets, its banks of red and white camellias,
—swarmed and buzzed with the crowd which streamed
through its galleries, through its ante-rooms, and stood closely
packed in its marble pillared ballroom.
Dazed by the light, bewildered with the roar of talk, as
they passed from one room to another, it was not for some
time that Mrs. Lawrence became aware that her companion
had been separated from her in the throng, and was no longer
by her side.
An exclamation of annoyance escaped her lips at the
covery. How to find her again in a crowd so dense? For
some time she wandered aimlessly from room to room, till
wearied by what she felt was a fruitless search, she sank
into a vacant seat, backed by a group of palms, and deter-
mined to wait. Chance might as well direct her friend’s steps
to this, as to any other spot, and in any case there was
nothing to be done.
She was tired. The brilliant lights hurt her eyes; the
incessant talking and laughing of the passing crowd fatigued
her, and she found herself wondering why Mrs. Villiers had
insisted upon coming to such a place to “think quietly.”
“Restless I suppose,” poor little thing, was her answer
to the question—” restless and troubled. I know the feeling,
and the longing to smother it in outward gaiety and con-
fusion. If only —”
A woman’s voice almost at her ear disturbed her reflec-
tion, and she started before she realised that the speaker was
not addressing her, but was on the other side of the bank of
“Let’s sit here, and trust she won’t find us!” The
words were accompanied by a laugh, and a rustling, as the
speaker evidently settled herself in a chair.
“Seen her?” returned the thick voice of a man.
“No, but she’s here. I had a note from her just before
I started to say she was coming. Wants to blackguard me to
my face, no doubt. Her letter was bad enough.”
The man laughed. Rather sick I suppose?
Not the word—furious, “You see
she’s been hanging
about here all the winter waiting for him, and now—” the
speaker broke into an uncontrollable fit of giggling. “Well!”
she went on presently, recovering herself, “It wasn’t my
fault. How should I know he’d changed his plans and gone
to Rome instead. I wrote directly I found out, and the letter
reached her just after the wrong man proposed.” Another
laugh drowned the next few words. “It all fitted in so well,
you see. I told her he was a silly gaby, awfully green and
young; and of course she saw letters of his addressed to
Mildbough Park, The boy he teaches, is a kid of twelve, but
he writes to the whole family. They love him, I believe—
treat him like a friend.”
“Worth a good deal, aren’t they?” the man enquired.
“Oh, disgustingly rich. Old Brown was a cotton
spinner or something. Anyway he’s made his pile. The
son’s about five and twenty, and the old boy thinks its time
“And she knew all this?”
“Of course. I told her. Thought I’d do her a good
turn; but I ought to have known better than to put myself
out, for the little vixen.”
“And so she’s been wasting her baby talk on the tutor,
thinking?—” The man’s voice trailed off into suppressed
“Yes! oh, she must have had a beastly dull time. So
afraid of risking anything; she’d hardly speak to me when I
met her the other day. . . . Called Brown too, you see.
Millionaires oughtn’t to be allowed to have names their tutors
are likely to have as well! It’s too confusing, especially
“Hulloa! Kit’s found you!” interrupted the man’s voice
in consternation. “Leave you ladies to fight it out—no
place for me.”
Mrs. Lawrence, who till the last moment had heard the
conversation indifferently, scarcely aware that she was listen-
ing, rose all at once unsteadily to her feet, not however, before
she could escape the sound of a voice she knew—a childish voice,
though shaken with fury. “So here you are, you low
little beast! This was to pay me out for that Jim Blake affair,
She roused to consciousness of her surroundings only
when she found herself crossing a street, bareheaded, aimlessly
wondering how she could get a carriage.
Somehow or other she had forced her way out of the glare
and dazzle of the Palace; and now she was thankful to be
overtaken by an empty fiacre and driven home.
Rising early, after a sleepless night, she dressed and stole
softly downstairs, with the intention of walking a little before
breakfast. The pension servants were already astir. The
hall was full of luggage, and as she passed the trunks on her
way to the door, she saw that they belonged to Mrs. Villiers,
and were labelled Roma.
It was at the sunset hour, wearied and saddened by the
events of the day, that she climbed the heights of San Miniato.
Her thoughts were set towards England, now that spring
was here. She was to leave Florence the following morning,
and she found herself feverishly longing for the hour of
departure. The pension had become unendurable. She
recalled with disgust the chatter of the lunch table; the con-
jectures, the surmises, the dark prophecies, the feeble defence.
Miss Pembridge’s downcast eyes and chaste expression.
Miss Hooley’s ejaculatory violence; the platitudes of Miss
Mullins. How tired she was of them all! and yet to recall
their imbecilities with half contemptuous amusement, was a
relief, since it afforded her a moment’s forgetfulness of her
interview with “the boy.” To efface that memory would be
a work of time. He had already left the pension, on the plea
of an urgent summons from England. But though Mrs.
Lawrence knew he intended to wait for the night train, it was
with a shock of surprise that she saw him leaning on the
parapet which bounds the piazza of San Miniato. The great
open space beneath the church, was empty, save for his
solitary figure. While Mrs. Lawrence hesitated he turned
with an abrupt movement, and she saw his haggard young
face outlined for a moment against the sky. Then, without
seeing her, he moved quickly away, and plunging down the
steps between the cypresses, was lost to sight.
Mrs. Lawrence crossed to the place where he had stood,
and looked down over the city. The fires of the sunset had
faded, and all the hollow valley was filled with a violet haze,
through which the river gleamed pale, a magic stream, holding
in its depths jewels and shafts of light: gold and silver, and
emerald. Half veiled in swimming vapour, the spires and
domes, campaniles and towers rose from a city, breathless
and spellbound. Groups of cypresses lifted dark fingers
towards the sky, which began to be pierced with trembling
Since I have learned Love’s shining alphabet,
And spelled in ink what’s writ in me in flame,
And borne her sacred image richly set
Here in my heart to keep me quit of shame;
Since I have learned how wise and passing wise
Is the dear friend whose beauty I extol,
And know how sweet a soul looks through the eyes
That are so pure a window to her soul;
Since I have learned how rare a woman shows
As much in all she does as in her looks,
And seen the beauty of her shame the rose,
And dim the beauty writ about in books;
All I have learned, and can learn, shows me
How scant, how slight, my knowledge of her is.
THE MERCHANT KNIGHT.
A Romance translated from the Portuguese of Gonsalo
Fernandez Trancoso. (1585).
Scarcely anything appears to be known of the life of Gonsalo
Fernandez Trancoso, the author of the following story, except that he was
a native of the little town in Beira from which he derived his name, that
he professed mathematics, and published a small book on the ascertainment
of moveable feasts, and died between 1585 and 1596. Two parts of his
“Profitable Tales” were published by himself in the former year, and a
third was added after his death by his son.
The collective title of Trancoso’s stories shows that they were
with a moral purpose, and some are merely anecdotes. A few are of greater
compass, including a version of the tale of Griselda, and the story now
translated. The great superiority of this to the others renders it probable
that it is founded upon, and closely follows, some old romance now lost.
This may well have originated in the time of Edward the Third, when the
connection between England and Portugal was especially intimate, and the
English frequently came to the assistance of the Portuguese in their wars
with Castile. If written after the Spanish conquest of Portugal in 1580, it
may even have been intended to remind the Portuguese of this ancient
alliance, and suggest that help might be had from England.
This story is not, like most of Trancoso’s, spoiled by tedious
sing. It does not attempt any delineation of character or vivid individual
portraiture, nor has it anything of the poetical charm of “Aucassin
and Nicolette.” But it is inspired by a thoroughly romantic spirit, and in its
transparent simplicity of style affords a refreshing contrast to the exagger-
ated conceits of so much of the prose fiction of its day. It was written in the
most flourishing age of Portuguese literature, and its diction is worthy
of the period.
Trancoso’s stories were popular in their own country in their
but have not, so far as we are aware, been hitherto translated or noticed
out of Portugal. The last edition was in 1722. All are rare: one of the
two in the British Museum is not mentioned by any bibliographer.
Once upon a time there dwelt in a city of Portugal a rich
merchant who had a discreet and clever son, well seen in all
the accomplishments that would befit a youth of birth, versed
in Latin and Greek, a graceful dancer, a skilful player on the
guitar and all other instruments, a perfect horseman and
expert in every warlike exercise; insomuch that if his merit
were regarded rather than his birth, he might adorn the court
of the greatest monarch in the world. Being thus accomplished,
his father could not train him to traffic as he would fain have
done, for this the youth disdained, and would rather mate with
the nobles and show forth his skill in their exercises than earn
all the treasure his father promised him. Insomuch that at
four and twenty he was putting no hand to his father’s business,
not by reason of ill habits or disobedience, but following his
own way, by which he deemed some time to attain to honour.
One day his father bade him go and market at Medina fair;
but he made some seemly excuse, and said that if his father so
willed he would go as a merchant to Fez, with which we were
then at peace. And this he said not as having a mind to buy
and sell, for his thoughts were set on higher things, but he
longed to behold the pastimes and exercises of the African
horsemen, and the Moorish jennets, so renowned throughout
the world. And his father gave him three thousand crusadoes,
and he departed in a ship with other merchants, some going
to prove what the Moors might have to sell, and others what
the Moors might desire to buy. And thus having come to that
city, everyone went whither his inclination led him, some to
the weavers of carpets to buy of their stock, or have others
wrought according to their own pattern; others to purchase
table-linen, Moorish haiks, and the like; and thus each one
bought what he would of what he found in the land. But our
youth inquired of nought respecting merchandise, but learned
where the place of exercises was, and on the first holiday,
which was the day after his coming, went thither to see how
the people of that country rode, and what was the gear of their
horses. And noting some particular things he saw a Moor
of about fifty years well mounted, and with him two young
sons of graceful bearing, and observing that by the negligence
of their servants their saddle-girths were fastened amiss,
he gave them warning, whereat they were glad, and gazed upon
him, and he upon every one. And of all he saw no one seemed
to him better seated than the old Moor, and so pleased was he
that he uttered this in the hearing of many, who came around
him and said that since he knew the seat of a cavalier so well
it was right that he himself should be seen on horseback, and
each offered him his own steed to mount, which he declined,
thinking it discourteous to make the lender go on foot. But
the Moor, hearing this, straightway sent to his own house
for a horse and offered it to him, saying; “Take this, for I
ween that these gentlemen who thought to humble us by
their politeness, and that you had no such seat in the saddle as
they, will be humbled themselves when your good seat is seen
of them; and I and those whom you commended will remain
content with the lesson you will have given them.” The youth
thanked him much for these good words, mounted the horse
with great agility, and gave two courses and a volt in the
field of exercise, showing that he understood what he was
speaking of, for he did it with such grace and dash that all
deemed him worthy of their company and conversation, though
before they had despised him as but a merchant. And the old
man and his sons rode with him to his hostelry, where all
alighted, and at the old man’s importunity be removed to his
house, where he gained the love of the sons until death, as
though they had been brothers, and the old man treated him as
a son, and gave him to eat of our dishes that are not made in
Barbary, and showed him as much honour as if he had been
a prince. And in truth the young man was of noble nature,
and well trained and fit for any company, and well seen of all,
and thus he spent in the Moor’s house all the time that his
companions were buying their merchandise and preparing for
their voyage home. But it now being time for them to return
to the ship lying in the harbour ready to sail, they came to tell
him: “Sir, despatch your goods and victuals, for we depart in
three days.” Hearing this he spoke to his host, and said: “Sir,
I know not how I can repay the favours and great honours
which you have done me, and pray you to hold me at your
service and command me at your discretion, for, saving in
what concerns the Faith, there is nothing you could require of
me that I would not do. I say this, inasmuch as my com-
panions are departing, and I would return with them, and I
have provided nothing; wherefore it behoves me to quit
the much that is made of me in this house, and set myself to
work to lay out certain monies which my father gave me
wherewith to traffic here, which as yet I have not done,” The
Moor hearing this answered: “Sir, so long as I live, whenever
you are in this country, you shall always receive in my house
this little service which I render you now, and I will not suffer
that you should go elsewhere until the hour of your departure;
and should you have anything to buy, and need my aid for
this, I will do all your pleasure, and whatsoever you may send
to your country shall be stored in my house. And take heed
to send no provision for your voyage on shipboard, for my
wife will provide it.” The youth thanked him for his favour
and said: “Sir, I am not a merchant, and never was, and
know nothing of the business; may it please you therefore of
your goodness, since you promise me aid and favour, to lay
out by the advice of merchants or by your own judgment the
three thousand crusadoes which I have here, in any manner
which seems good and profitable.” The Moor looked on him
and said: “If you would take to your own land what will bring
honour and profit for you and your father, I counsel you to
buy the bones of a holy Christian martyred here, whom the
Christians hold in great veneration. These have come down
by descent from father to son from him who first had them,
and are rated at three thousand crusadoes, and are proved to
be relics of the greatest worth; and learned Moors affirm that
the Christian who shall ransom them shall have great honour
and advantage, and that the Moor who shall cause them to be
translated to a Christian land shall have great wealth and
worship among Christians, and shall save his body and soul
from every ill. And although it is long that these bones have
been here, no Christian has been willing to ransom them at so
high a rate; but do you take them upon my counsel, and trust
to what I say.” The Christian deeming him a man of truth,
consented, and went with him to the house where the relics
were to be found, and paid him that owned them, and when
they were brought to the Moor’s dwelling his wife, children,
and household received them with great veneration, and made
a coffer in which to put them, lined within and without with
crimson velvet, with nails and embroidery of gold. And thus
he was despatched to his ship, with much provision and con-
serves, wine, and water enough for a long voyage, and horses’
trappings and caparison, and other rich work of the country;
some for himself and others for his father. And the Moor’s
wife sent coifs and jackets of Moorish work for the youth’s
mother; for so great was the love which they bore to this
Christian for his good and virtuous carriage, that they loved
him as a son, and if they could have helped it would never
have let him go. But he must needs return in the ship, to
which the Moor and his sons bore him company.
Embarking immediately, he departed with good weather,
which by the virtue of the relics as would appear, God so con-
tinued to him, that he soon came to port in his own country,
where he was received with open arms, and gave the presents
he had brought from his host to his father and mother, who
prized them much and took great delight in them, minded to
repay them with even better. But when they would know
how he had laid out the three thousand crusadoes, and learned
what he had done, his father was ready to kill him for wrath,
and said: “Look at this you bring, supposing that they are
true relics, think you that I can sell them to get back my
money with profit? It cannot be, on the contrary I must spend
more money to do them honour and put them where they will
be esteemed, and thus, you having squandered the three thou-
sand crusadoes you took with you, my honour will compel me
to spend as much again for the honour of these bones.” The
youth would have excused himself, affirming that he had been
promised much honour and profit, but his father would not
hearken unto him, and in his passion drove him from the
house. But, having by his virtuous walk and deportment
gained the friendship of many noble persons in the city, he
repaired to their houses, and they took him in. And the Bishop
having knowledge of those relics, and that they had been long
in the city of Fez, and of the Saint to whom they had belonged,
and knowing his life and miracles, brought them out of the
ship with a great procession to the Cathedral. And, by the
way, marvels were not wanting which showed the sanctity of
the relics, and they were greatly esteemed, and gained the repute
they deserved in the bishopric, and the youth’s father became
better known than before, and his house was so frequented
that this year he did more business than in the three years
before it. And as he still would not take his son back some
nobles who heard this interposed, and reconciled them and
restored the son to his father’s favour; and his mother, who took
his part in everything, had him brought back to the house.
At length she said to her husband that to see whether this
was a miracle or not he should reckon up his substance,
and he would find that for the three thousand crusadoes he
had spent upon the Saint, God had given him six thousand and
more, so that his capital was doubled. The merchant finding
this to be so, determined to send his son next year, as he did,
giving him four thousand crusadoes and presents for the Moor
and his sons, and his mother gave him other very rich pre-
sents for the Moor’s wife. And the youth went and was
received as a son, and related all that had happened, and con-
cluded that when the time came for his ship to return, he
would give the Moor the four thousand crusadoes he had
brought to lay out for him, for he loved him as a father, and
determined to follow his advice, and go back to live with him
if he were ill treated by his own father. And such was the
Moor that, though he loved him as a son, neither he nor his
sons ever strove to persuade him to change his faith, but
rather besought him to continue as he was, for the Moor
himself hoped to become a Christian when he should have
performed certain necessary things. And so when the youth
would depart, he charged him to take to the ship another
coffer with other bones of another Saint, priced at four thous-
and crusadoes, which coffer he had at his own cost lined
within and without with rich brocade, with silver nails, and
gave him carpets and other things of price to take to his father
and mother, and for himself, and sent provisions to the ship
as at the former time, and with his sons accompanied him to
the place of embarkation, and gave him a horse with full
caparison, and money, saying, “If your father is offended as at
the first time, let it not trouble you, for if he knew my purpose
he would not mislike it; and since he doth not know it, let him
give course to his anger and free vent to his passion, and what-
ever he may say or do bear with him, for I know what I have
given you, and believe that you will win honour and profit
for yourself and your father and mother, and also for me and
my wife and children. Go therefore content, and trust in me,”
and thus dismissed the young man from the port.
Speeding with a fair wind he arrived in his country,
where he was at first well received, but when his father knew
what he brought, if he had been angry the first time he was
much more angry the second, deeming that to err once was
more pardonable than to err twice. But the youth endured
all his fury with patience, and withdrew from the house not
to give him more annoy, as he could well do, having honour-
able entertainment elsewhere. At length the Bishop spoke to
the father, saying it was by his means that God per-
mitted him to bring these relics to his church, and that he
thanked him and took it well of him. Also his wife, seeing
that the substance in the house was greatly increased, made
him take a reckoning of it for every six months, and said,
“Take note that for four thousand which your son spends
on one side, God gives you ten thousand on the other; own,
therefore, that all that is laid out thus is laid out well.” And
on this she spoke with her husband many days, until he
yielded, and the chest with the relics was carried to the church
with as great procession and solemnity as the other, and
greater if it were possible, and put in a fitting place to be
venerated as it deserved, so that the land had profit of both,
and miracles were not wanting, which the Lord ever works
for his Saints. Insomuch that all the diocese took note, and
people flocked from all the country, who, having seen the
Saints, wished to see the house and person of him at whose
cost the relics had come. And as he was a rich merchant,
and had all manner of goods in his house, they asked for
them and bought freely, deeming that all stuff in that house
was blessed, and that somewhat of its holiness accrued to
themselves. By reason whereof this man gained so greatly,
that if the first year he had had ten thousand crusadoes, this
year he had twenty thousand, by which he came to perceive
that this happened not by his own industry, but by the grace
of God, and, holding this for certain, he forgave his son, and
received him again into his house. Then he equipped his son
to go yet again to Fez, with great gifts for the Moor, and
letters recommending him, with injunctions to him if any
more relics were to be found to bring the same over, perceiv-
ing that though he could not sell them our Lord rewarded
him with more than he had spent. He also gave him presents
for the Moor’s wife, and the son, taking gifts from himself for
the Moor’s sons, and five thousand crusadoes which his father
gave him to lay out, departed as soon as the vessel was ready.
Arriving at Fez, he was well received and caressed by the
Moor, his wife and sons, and treated as a son; and he gave
each the gifts he had for them, and passed his time agreeably
until it seemed that he ought to depart, when he gave the
Moor, the five thousand crusadoes he had to lay out, praying
him to spend them as he thought good, for he would be
entirely at his disposal. Then said the Moor, “Here is a
Christian damsel whose price is these very five thousand
crusadoes; her you must take with you, and you will not
return to this land, for I know that you will have much
trouble and great occupations which will prevent you, but
with God’s help all will end well. And you will remain at the
last rich and honoured to your great content. And I entreat
you, that when you shall have found my words come true,
you will think upon me, and do me to wit as you would your
own father, for I love you as a son.” The youth therefore
gave the Moor the five thousand crusadoes to buy the maiden,
who was some thirteen years old; and when he would have
spoken with her she could not understand his speech, nor he
hers, which displeasured him. Yet they took her to the
Moor’s house, and he at his own cost had the richest gar-
ments made for her, of no stuff less than silk, and many
garnished with tassels of silk and gold, and sent her away
with like circumstance as if the youth had been a Prince;
and he and his wife and sons went with them to the ship, and
he said to the youth, “My son, I deliver this lady to you to
keep and guard in all honesty, and touch her no more than if
she were you own sister. Regard the precepts of the law of
God, which you Christians have, and keep them as you know
how; “all which the youth promised and fulfilled.
He embarked, leaving great yearning for him with the
Moor and his wife and sons; these returned to Fez, and he
putting to sea with favourable weather speedily arrived in his
own country, where his father received him with great
caresses, being ready to have patience with him even though
he should have brought the bones of another Saint, as indeed
he desired, nor did he at first put him any questions. But
when the presents had been seen, his son gave him the Moor’s
letter, by which he learned that the son had brought a
Christian maiden appraised at five thousand crusadoes. At
this he grieved mightily, and said, “That the Lord should
send Saints is well, but what want we with sinners, especially
female ones? Thou hast surely brought her here to satisfy
thy carnal appetites, and hast never laid out thy money so ill
in thy life.” And he was more ireful and anguished than the
other two times, weening that nothing good could come of
mortal sin. Notwithstanding at the entreaty of his wife, he
suffered that the damsel should be brought to his house, as she
longed to see her; and this he did not to pleasure the girl, but
to remove her from the company of his son. He therefore
brought her to the house, and when his wife saw her she
kissed her on the face, and thanked God who had made her so
beautiful, and said to her husband, “Mark, Sir, this is the
crown of the reward which thou hast merited for ransoming
those relics and this damsel; for the Lord who would give us
but one son, now gives us a daughter, and I love her as my
own.” And thus she received her into her house; and seeing
by her speech that she did not know our language, she
instructed her, and kept her as her own daughter, and taught
her all civility, which she learned as though she were to the
manner born. She learned to work embroidery which none
could match; she embroidered any stuff in gold and silk, and
it was a marvel to see the perfection of her handiwork; she
knew right well how to draw, and was the best needlewoman
in the land, and took pleasure in embroidering linen with
letters, and would join two pieces together, so that the same
letters might be read on each side, and they were so elegant
that it was a delight to see them. But they were in the lan-
guage of her own country, and she would never tell whence
she came, or who she was, or how she had fallen into
captivity. And thus she continued in this dwelling for three
years, in which she never saw or was seen by any but the
people of the house, and she learned our language as well as if
she had been born here by hearing the discourse of others. And
by reason of her obligation to him who had brought her out
of captivity, she was as kindly affectioned to the youth as
though they had been brother and sister. But the father
could not suffer this, and if he saw them together even though
they were saying nothing, he took it amiss, so jealous was her
of her, as though she had been his true daughter, and his son
a servant; so fond of her were he and his wife for her good
disposition, conversation and talent. Then the mother casting
about her to do her some good, and do herself a pleasure at the
same time, determined to marry her to her son, that she might
share his goods after his father and mother should be dead,
and the father agreed thereto. But when they spoke thereof
to the damsel, she said that she thanked them indeed for all
the care they had taken of her, but that she could not marry
until she had accomplished a vow which she had made to
God in her captivity, and if the son would make a journey for
love of her, she promised and vowed to wed no other than
him. To this the youth consented, and she told him what he
had to do, and gave him whatsoever was needful for him.
And he sailed from his country on a ship bound for Flanders;
but having arrived at a port in England departed out of the
vessel, and taking a coffer which he had brought with him,
went to the city of London, where the King then was.
Coming to the courtyard of the palace he saw that the King
had finished dinner, and was coming forth by a corridor which
opened on the side of the court where the youth was. Per-
ceiving this, he spread out some of those linens embroidered
with letters whereof we have spoken, and when any came to
look at them he warned them not to touch, for none might
handle them save the King, nor would he suffer any person
to read the letters, for so the damsel had enjoined him. This
being told to the King, he, desiring to see the broideries, called
for the youth and commanded him to bring the coffer; and
so it was done.
As soon as the King took one of the pieces of linen into
his hand and read, the colour of his countenance changed,
and he cried aloud, “God save us!” and coming again to
himself inquired, “Where is the damsel who wrought this?”
to which the youth answered, “Let your Majesty pay me for
what I shall say by buying these cloths;” and the King did
so, for otherwise the youth would not answer his questions.
But on his giving him five thousand crusadoes, which was the
price the damsel had cost him, the youth said: “Sir, this
damsel is in Portugal, the country where I was born, and I
will show her to whomsoever your Majesty will send to see
her.” The King took the linen, and calling to him an old
man, who was his steward, he said: “Rememberest thou that
five or six years ago thou wentest to Ireland, and did’st agree to
send my daughter, the Princess, whom you and your wife had
brought up, to the Court of my cousin, the Queen of Ireland,
and how I sent her accompanied with cavaliers, nobles, ladies
and damsels of great worship, and how you and your wife
might not go by reason of your sickness; and how it was
told us that the ship was lost upon a shoal, and that some
escaped; and how the Queen, my beloved wife, died of grief
thereat. Now I know that when the ship was lost, the
captain, to save my daughter and himself, entered a boat
with some few others and strove to make land, but the
winds were so adverse that this might not be; and driven by
the fury of the gales, the boat sped on without being stayed in
Brittany, or Biscay, or Spain, until after twelve days they
landed in Barbary, so worn out by the terrors of the sea, and
tormented with hunger and thirst, that they rejoiced to find
themselves on land, even though it were the land of the
infidels, where they could look for nothing but mournful
captivity. They came forth from the boat to save their lives,
and no sooner were they on land than they were taken and
made captive, and my daughter, Princess of this kingdom,
became the slave of a Moor, who having learned from those
with her who she was, immediately put a price upon her of
five thousand crusadoes, which this youth has paid, and
brought her with honour to the land of the Christians. All
this is set forth in the letters on this linen cloth, which are
embroidered in our language, and I pray you to read them.”
The steward read them, and both wept for joy and grief, he
and the King, and when their transport was over they agreed
that the steward should go in a King’s ship with the youth
wheresoever the youth should guide him, and should see
the damsel that should be shown him whom the youth should
affirm to be she who wrought the linen, and if she were the
Princess he should give him in whose house she had been kept,
all he should say he had spent upon her, and two thousand
crusadoes to boot, and promise him that if he would come
with her the King would show him great favour, and to the
youth also. And that the youth might be sure of his reward,
the King gave him a writing, which the youth kept; and a
galley being prepared the steward and his wife embarked, with
her many ladies and with him many nobles and knights, and
the youth who had brought the broideries; and they
came to his country with a fair voyage. But on the way
the youth had discoursed with the steward of his father’s
jealousy, and how he feared that he would deny the maiden,
and not suffer them to have sight of her. They therefore
agreed what to do, and when they took port the steward and
the youth left the ship unknown to the others, and went
to the father’s house by covert ways, and as the youth was
familiar with the house he was able to find the lady in a
retired part. She, not knowing he was there, chanced to look
that way and saw him, and with him the guardian who had
brought her up, and whom she knew well; and approaching
nearer she allowed herself to be seen of them, who knowing
her came up to speak to her, and the old man would have
knelt to kiss her hand, but she would not suffer him. While
they were thus engaged the father entered, marvelling to find
people in his house, and when he knew his son he cried,
Camest thou not in by the door? There is treachery, and seized
him by his head, not seeing who was speaking with the damsel,
thus the twain had time and occasion to escape from the house
without being seen or hindered. And as soon as they were
clear of it she covered herself with a man’s cloak which the
steward had brought with him, and they hastened down to the
strand, and taking a boat embarked upon the ship without
contradiction from any, and set sail in the same hour as they
had come, without eating or drinking in that land. The youth,
who remained with his father said: “Sir, this damsel is
daughter of a mighty king, suffer him to take her, and I will
go with her, and I doubt not thus to become a great lord, and
your part will come to you.” The father answered: “I know
well that this is some treason which thou would’st practise on
her and me, taking her out of my house to dishonour her,
that thou mayest not have to take her to wife, and she shall
never go with thee, which would be great scathe, but God has
ordered better.” And he cast his son forth by the door, not-
withstanding his mother who took his part. But when he
went in quest of the damsel and found her not, there was no
bound to his sorrow, and when inquiring of the neighbours he
came to know that the old steward had carried her off, and they
had been seen to enter the galley and set sail, he was so over
-come that there was no stay for his affliction. When the youth
heard that they had departed he was ready to die with passion
for the damsel, whom he loved more than his life, and more
-over was consumed with remorse for not having brought the
five thousand crusadoes from the galley, by aid of which he
might have gone to seek her, but he had forgotten them for
thinking of his lady, whom he prized above all the gold in the
world. And thus he roved about distracted, and would have
lost his wits but for friends and virtuous persons who com-
forted him, saying, you know who has taken her and whither
she is bound; follow after her by land, and you will overtake
her in good time. And receiving from them some money for
his journey, he took a horse and travelled through Spain and
France to arrive where he would be. But as he had little
money, and was free with what he had, ere he had performed
two thirds of the journey he was obliged to sell his horse that
that he might have wherewith to eat, and to go on foot. As
he was little accustomed to this he proceeded but slowly, and
his money came to an end before his travel. And so it came
to pass that being one day at the door of an inn, he forbore to
enter, having no money to pay for his meal, but looking
within he saw two men sitting eating at a table who seemed
to be noble and well mannered persons, and had with them in
a case a viol and a psaltery, upon which the youth looked
earnestly, being well seen in the art and mystery of music
The men seeing him gazing on the instruments called him in
and bade him eat; but he thanking them said he had not
wherewith to pay. They offered to pay, and made him eat,
and talking at table asked him if he could dance or play, and
he told them that he knew somewhat of all such things.
“We,” they said, “are performers on these instruments, and
having heard that the King of England’s daughter has been
brought to him from abroad, and that she has fallen into such
melancholy that nothing can make her glad we have determined
to go before her to play, dance and sing, and with the help of
God and our skill cure her of her melancholy, for which the
King, her father, has promised a great reward. If you know
ought of this art, and will come with us, you shall have your
share in what we may gain.” He, who desired nothing better,
and surmised that the Princess’s melancholy was caused by
his absence and the love she bore him, and the promise of
marriage which she had given him in requital for his having
delivered her from captivity, straightway determined to go
with them, and told them that he would serve them all he
could, and that he would not go as their companion but as
their servant, to aid all he might in so excellent a work. And
they replied with no less courtesy that they could not treat
him as their servant, but that they would go as brothers, and
he, having made them the acknowledgements that were due,
took one of their instruments, and touching it gave them proof
of his skill, which was indeed exquisite, at which they showed
great content. When they came forth from the inn three
youths issued from the stables, and brought six horses, and
all mounting took their way until they came to the capital city
of England, and made the King to wit that they had heard of
the melancholy of his daughter, and begged leave to play and
sing before her. The King thanked them for the trouble of
their journey, and promised to repay them, and bade them to
the palace, where if they could cure the daughter he had
mourned for as dead, and the sight of whom now filled him with
sadness, reminding him of his wife who had died of grief for
her sake, they should be welcome all their lives. And so the three
comrades went to play and sing before the King and the princess,
she sitting inside in another room where she could see and
hear without being seen; thus for a long time they played and
sang with such melody and charm that none could but com-
mend them, hearing the sweetness of their well blended instru-
ments, to which the youth sang this song in our language:—
Land of Lusia was my home,
Weary now the world I roam,
Since I set from bondage free
Who hath bondsman made of me.
Woe is me and well away!
Bearing to wild Barbary
Ransom for the royal may
Foe to my felicity!
I the cup of youth have spilled,
I the joy of life have killed,
Freeing from captivity
Who hath captive made of me.
Now in lowlihead I lie,
Fallen as doth well befit
Him who taught his heart to fly
Toward a hope too high for it.
All my worth is clean forgot,
Care is none of knightly lot,
Since from bonds I set her free
Who hath captive made of me.
And this he sang with such sweetness and tenderness
that although those knew not what he said who understood
not his language, all knew him for most skilful in music, and
were content with him, especially the princess who heard him,
and knowing by his lay who he was and of what he sang,
rejoiced greatly to perceive that he was in the country. And
when the musicians took their leave she sent to tell her father
to make them come again and often, and so it was done. And
the musicians and singers continuing their performance, which
was the more lauded every time they came, the Princess
manifested the greatest pleasure, and the King twice as much.
And she, desiring to fulfil the promise of marriage which she
had made to the Portuguese, and knowing what manner of
man she had in him, spoke to her father; and he and the nobles
of his realm decreed that a great royal tournament should be
held, and that whoso won most honour should have
the Princess to wife, and become heir to the kingdom; and the
Princess accepted this upon condition that she should be pre-
sent among the judges when the prize should be awarded.
Whereat all the nobles of the court rejoiced greatly, and the
jousts were proclaimed throughout the kingdom, and great and
small had much contentment, having lately been in so great
affliction. And the nobles and knights seeing how great a
prize was to be given to the best champion desired exceedingly
to enter the lists and show forth their strength, valour and
wealth; so that all the chief gentry in the land came, and some
foreigners who chanced to be in the kingdom, but none came
from a distance, for the tournament was appointed for the
Assumption of Our Lady, which was only twenty days
distant. Nor were they missed, for so many flocked together
that there could not have been more at the Court of the greatest
Emperor in the world, and there not being room for them in
London they encamped upon the fields in tents, which were so
many and rich and splendid that all rejoiced to see them who
could see them with a light heart. But our Portuguese, seeing
all this magnificence and himself so poor and in want of every-
thing that belonged to such an occasion, and despairing of being
able to enter the jousts, went about so sad and dismal that it
seemed as though his last hour was come. And had he had any
means of discovering his necessities to the Princess, doubtless
he would have done so, but not having any he remained await-
ing his perdition and death, which must soon have come to
pass if God had not put it into the hearts of the two musicians,
perceiving his melancholy, to thus discourse with him: “Com-
rade,” they said “we pray you much to disclose to us the
cause of your discontent, which we trust in Christ to be able
to remedy if remedy be in the power of man; our wills, powers,
and persons being wholly yours. Tell us therefore, whence is
your grief? “He, seeing their goodwill and offers, said:
“Were I but apparelled for this tourney I would be bold to
enter it, and would so bear myself that with the aid of God I
should win the prize; and since I see myself deprived of all
that is necessary, and so placed that I cannot obtain it I die of
passion, for I am losing all that I might have gained.” To
which they replied that it still wanted five days to the tourney,
and that he must hasten to equip himself, for they had and
would provide all that was needful, as in truth they did. And
he rejoiced and became so gay and knew so well how to fit
himself and prefer requests, that he came forth as well equipped
for what he needed as you will see on the day of the tourna-
ment. Not to make too long a story, when the appointed day
came the King and the Princess, with many ladies and damsels,
seated themselves in a balcony of the palace overlooking the
great court where the lists were opened. And the Princess was
so beautiful and richly attired that the sight of her gave strength
and courage to numbers who adventured themselves for her
sake, and endeavoured more than they were able to compass;
and with her were the judges, being four old men who were
great nobles in the kingdom. Then the knights began to enter
the square on all sides, which was beautiful to see, as the
flower of all the chivalry of the world seemed to be there, all
men regarding in silence the suits, colours, and devices which
Our Portuguese entered the lists fully armed with rich
white armour gilded in places, which gave it great lustre, and
covered with a short surcoat made in the fashion of the
country, quartered in green and white damask, slashed with
embroidery of large round Oriental pearls of greatest price.
His visage was uncovered, which if of itself it was comely
and of gentle semblance, seemed so much the more lovely with
the martial mien of armour, insomuch that all viewed it with
delight. In his company were the two master musicians,
whom some knew for what they were, vested in silk raiment
of the same colour as the surcoat, made in the fashion of that
court, and bearing the jouster’s arms. One carried his helmet,
which with great white and green plumes, and gilded in places,
gave forth great brightness, and the other his lance painted
with the like colours, and three pages followed wearing the
same livery, insomuch that all eyes were turned upon him and
his retinue. The Princess recognised him immediately with
great content, knowing him of old for one of the best cavaliers
in the world, and all who saw him enter the square said with
one voice “He is the most spirited, the best equipped, and the
comeliest knight that hath come hither, God make him such
in the fray as he promiseth by his countenance.” And he
riding round the lists that all might view him, came before the
King and Princess, made his due reverence with all grace and
courtesy, and well marked by the signs which the Princess
gave him, how content she was to behold him. And so when
all were ranged in quietness in the square, the signal was given
with trumpets and other martial instruments, as customary on
the like occasions, and the jousting began. And there were
many and fine encounters; sometimes with shocks so fierce
that the armour of the knights was wrested from their bodies
and sent flying through the air, and some who could not
recover themselves came to the ground, and some fell, horse
and man. But it so befell our Portuguese that while all the
rest received some check, great or small, he received none, but
did great displeasure to others, for in his three first courses he
overthrew three famous knights who little deemed to have
fallen so soon, and this without breaking his first lance.
When this was broken his pages gave him another, and with
this and many more he performed such feats that when it was
time to cease and the King gave the signal, all praised him and
pronounced him worthy of the prize. And if the tourney had
been but for one day he would then have gained it, but it had
been ordained for three. The jousting being over for this day
he rode to the balcony where the King was, about to leave the
square, and attended upon him on horseback to the palace,
and having made meet reverence to the Princess and being
dismissed by the King, went to his companions who awaited
him, and quitting the courtyard with the same dignity as he
had entered it, repaired to his inn.
The Princess withdrew from the balcony to her apart-
ment, content with what she had beheld and with what
she had heard all say in praise of the stranger knight,
nor was she amazed to see his arms and trappings of
such exceeding richness, supposing that he had brought
them from his father, whom she knew for a man of great
possessions. This night there was a festival in the palace,
with concerts of music and dances of nobles, courtiers, and
ladies; and some who had been unlucky in the jousts
took courage to return and again make trial of their fortune;
and those who were proud of having done well took pleasure
in hearing themselves commended by the ladies. And yet the
stranger knight being absent, upon whom all eyes had been
turned, the King asked concerning him, but could hear no
other account save that he had retired to his hostel with his
people. After the evening had been spent in gaiety all went
to rest, for the tourney was to be held again next day, and it
was needful to repair the arms of many who had suffered from
the violence of their encounters, in which many spent the most
of the night, and chiefly they who had made trial of the
dexterity and strength of the Portuguese cavalier. But it was
not so with him, for when he had disarmed himself he found
his arms as complete as if they had never been proved, and
this by their goodness, and not because they had not been
smitten hard and often, at which he greatly rejoiced. And
after the supper which his companions had caused to be pre-
pared for him he went to sleep and repose, as was needful after
the much he had done on that day. Yet was not his sleep so
sound but that by day break he was already vesting himself
for the new tourney, not knowing how well equipped were his
companions, who rejoiced to have care of him, and assuring
him that they had all that was needful entreated him to rest
till it was time to partake of food. After breakfast he armed
himself as you shall hear. And the King went to hear mass
in the Princess’s Chapel, where it was said with great solem-
nity, and when it was over went to his meal in the banqueting
hall in great state, and heard many instruments of music,
and thence repaired to the balcony as the day before, bringing
the Princess with him; and the judges came, and took their
seats as they had done on the first day, and the knights thronged
in so many and so richly armed, with such liveries and devices,
that it was glorious and beautiful to see them. And our
Portuguese wore that day a suit of green armour with a
dalmatic of white damask powdered with gold, and with spurs
richly gilded and exquisitely wrought. Entering the square
accompanied by his companions and the pages whom he had
brought the day before, he rode below the balcony, and made
his accustomed obeisance to the King and Princess, and took
up his place until all were assembled and it was time to begin,
and to relate all he did would be to make a large volume. To
conclude, the youth performed such feats on that and the
following day that all affirmed with one voice that there was
no better cavalier in the world, and even they who strove with
him, pretending to the hand of the Princess, could not deny it,
but laid it to his charge that he was a foreigner, and peradven-
ture not of blood to deserve such greatness.
The three days’ joustings being now over, the King com-
manded that all grandees, nobles, and knights should come to
the great hall, for he would that judgment should be made as
to who had deserved the prize. Many came not, for knowing
that their desert was small, they would not be present at the
award, and so departed. Yet notwithstanding there were so
many that it seemed the hall could hold no more, to whom a
king at arms made a discourse in the King’s name, saying:
” Sirs, the King our lord has well marked the great deeds
which all of you have done for the honour of this court, and
the great valour and vigour of you all, and certes this is so
much that he will remember it for all the length of life which
it shall please God to give him; and he would be glad to have
so many kingdoms and daughters that he could give one to
each of you, for he deems that each of you hath well deserved
them, but he hath only this one daughter and this one
kingdom which may not be divided. He asks you all
together, and each one severally, to abide by the judges’
sentence, and to accept him whom they shall determine to
have gained as their Prince and Lord, since it needs must
be one and not all, and so doing you shall find him so
propitious that he trusts in God that none of you shall ever
at any time forfeit his friendship and favour.” It seemed to
all that the king at arms said well, and the chiefs who were
charged to reply said that the King showed them great favour in
making them this compliment, seeing that he might well have
commanded, and now let the judges pronounce as they deemed
fit. Then the king at arms spoke in the name of the judges,
and declared that though all had done well the stranger knight
had done better, wherefore they adjudged him the prize, and
called upon him to come forward to receive due reward of his
labours. He, who had placed himself amid the throng in the
background, now came forward wearing a suit of crimson
satin trimmed with gold and embroidered with devices of quaint
invention, and cap and shoes of the same, which declared the
joy of his heart. And as this was seen by some who grieved
that he should have the honour which they coveted for them-
selves, they came and stood before him ere he could speak,
saying: “Sir, let him show who he is and whether he deserves
such honour as your Majesty accords him, otherwise it will
be grievous to us to obey him.” These were commanded to sit
down, as the knight of Portugal desired to speak; and he, not
knowing enough of English to discourse in it, spoke thus in
Latin, for he was a good scholar:
Sir, these lords, nobles, and cavaliers are of such
tion and worship that they would be right in yielding obedience
to none of lesser worth than your Majesty now present, could
your Majesty’s equal be found in the world, but since such
hath not been found, nor, as I deem can ever be, it seems to
me that they will do what is just for the service of your
Majesty, being well affectioned to you as reason would.
Wherefore before them all I beg your Majesty to hear me, and
in his wisdom determine the issue of what I am to declare.
Which is to let your Majesty know that I passed into Barbary,
and it was God’s pleasure that by great cost and labour of
my person I should deliver the Princess, my Lady here present,
who if I deceive not myself will remember how the matter
came to pass, and of my poor service, which although it was
not such as her great desert merited, was the best that my
ability could render. Thus I brought her to Portugal, treating
her with great honour, and though I knew nothing of her
greatness, continually serving her as if I had known, and under-
going great dispeace with my father for her sake. Then I
came to this kingdom, bearing to your Majesty the work she
had wrought, and tidings of herself, and your Majesty was
pleased to bestow on me the five thousand crusadoes I asked,
which have been left in the galley which has brought her High-
ness here. And besides this money your Majesty, without my
asking it, gave me this scroll for a testimony that he in the
presence of the Princess would confer upon me any favour
I might ask that should be agreeable to righteousness, provided
that I should produce my Lady the Princess to his steward as
I have done; here he is to confirm it. Now for the first time
do I produce this scroll, and being in the presence of her High-
ness, I pray your Majesty, having respect to the service
rendered by me to you and to my Lady the Princess, to grant
me the favour of becoming a gentleman of his house, and his
subject like these other gentlemen; and if they deem that my
services do not deserve so much, I am ready to serve all my
life without resting until they do.” And when his discourse
was ended, replying to some who asked him, he told where
and how the Princess had been captive and he had obtained
her freedom, whereat those who knew it not already had great
marvel. And when he had finished they all, greatly com-
mending him, asked the King to grant him the favour he
sought, seeing that it was just, and that moreover he might
have the honour he had well earned. The King rejoiced much
to hear and see that all were well agreed, and rising from his
throne and advancing two paces towards where the Portuguese
was standing, he said: “I am content to grant you what you
desire, and moreover from this day forth hold you as Prince
of this kingdom as though you were my own son, and I will
that you should forthwith espouse my daughter, and hereby
ask her consent.” And all the hall was full of voices crying,
“This is reason and right.” And straightway he was wedded
to her by the Archbishop of the City, and festivals, jousts, and
tournaments were held in honour of the marriage, which
endured much time.
The Prince immediately sent tidings of his good fortune
to his father and mother; and his father, yearning to see the
Princess, departed without delay, bringing his family, kindred,
friends and servants in three galleys, and brought with him a
great treasure of jewels, gold, and silver, which he gave to the
Prince and Princess, so that he had much to bestow upon
those to whom it seemed to him right. Also he sent to the
Moor of Fez, who had counselled him so well in his traffic,
who came at once with his wife, sons, and household, bring-
ing with him all the substance he had. As soon as he found
himself in England he would have kissed the hands of the
Prince and Princess, but they would not suffer him, and with
many demonstrations of affection made him rise; and the
Moor kissed the hands of the King, who gave them a noble
apartment, and ere long they became Christians, the King and
Princess being their God-parents, and bestowing great favours
on the day of the baptism. And while these festivities were
being held the two musicians who had accompanied the Prince
took him aside and spoke thus; “Our company is no longer
needful for you, wherefore we are minded to depart, and before
we go we are fain to tell you who we are, that you may know
that what you laid out upon us was well employed, and that
you have been abundantly repaid for it. Have you memory
of those bones which you ransomed in the land of the Moors?
Know that these were aforetime our bodies, and that the
bodies you now behold are but phantoms, assumed by us to
accompany you in your enterprise in requital for what you
have done for us; and this God hath permitted, for he leaves
not without recompense those who, like you, have served and
honoured his saints. Now you dwell in quietness with your
father and mother, kindred and friends, and wife, and have
honour and royalty which you have well deserved, but do not
for this forget the service of God and his saints. If you have
need of us at any time we are with you, and now farewell with
God’s blessing.” And thus they departed, leaving the Prince
in amaze, for he had been devising how to repay them for
what they had done for him, and thus he remained with great
devotion and love to our Lord God who had given such
prosperity to his undertakings. And after no great space of
time the King died, and the Prince and Princess were pro-
claimed King and Queen, and governed the land with great
quietness and all men? love, and from them descend the great
kings of England.
Many have hymned Thy Martyrs, Earth, of old,
Who fell on red flames, as on flowers cold;
But we, Thy poets, in a different fire,
And at an inward worser flame expire;
For that which did their bodies ashes make
Our souls consumes; we shrivel at that stake.
We burn, yet live; they in a moment died;
We are Thy real Martyrs, Thy true pride.
THE GEM AND ITS SETTING.
EVE GRIEVE, 3o, a widow.
MAY DAY, 18, an unmarried girl.
JAMES KNIGHT, 40, a bachelor.
A RECEPTIVE FRIEND.
Scene:—Mrs. Grieve’s drawing-room at Chelsea. It is 5 o’clock.
She is giving a small tea-party.
MAY DAY (to her hostess in passing):
Why, Eve, you
have got a new gaud?
MRS. GRIEVE (touching her neck): Oh,
thing? I have had it years.
MAY DAY: A month, perhaps! Bend down.
MRS. GRIEVE (bending down, while her friend
the pendant): Oh, well, it’s all the same. Isn’t it a nice little
bit of paste?
MAY DAY (incredulously): No—surely?
MRS. GRIEVE (laughing): Let go May, you
strangling me! Yes, it’s wonderful how effective really
antique paste is. Poor old Jimmy! (She leaves her to speak
to another guest.)
MAY DAY (half to herself, and half to a
friend): Poor old Jimmy, indeed! Paste, did he? I must stop
on and have a straight talk to a young woman—Eve. Eve is
playing, but it isn’t cricket! And why isn’t poor old Jimmy
here to grace, or disgrace her triumph? (She propounds this
query in so many words to Mr, Grieves as that lady drifts
past her a second time.)
MRS. GRIEVE: Kept at the office, dear. Will look in
later if he can manage it. I asked him, at all events (defiantly).
MAY DAY: It is the least you could do.
MRS. GRIEVE (amiably): Stop and see him
if he comes.
I shall soon get rid of all these people. Don’t go till you
MAY DAY (solemnly): I will stay, even
if I have to
miss the Delmar dinner for it, and Teddy is to be there!
THE RECEPTIVE FRIEND: Who is Teddy?
MAY DAY (shortly): The young man I want
engaged to, and yet I am going to sit tight.
(She does. Mrs. Grieve gets gradually rid of
friends, and the room is empty. They both go to the
tea-table and eat little cakes. Mr, James Knight has
MAY DAY (with her mouth full): Now,
Eve, I am
going to scold you. Let us go and sit by the fire.
MRS. GRIEVE (drawing up two chairs):
cheek of it!
MAY DAY: I assume the privilege of youth. How
your jewel flashes in the firelight!
MRS. GRIEVE: How you do keep harping on my
wretched jewel! (boldly.) It isn’t the first Jimmy has given
me by a very long way.
MAY DAY: I know it isn’t. More shame for you!
MRS. GRIEVE: May, I shall get cross, I warn you.
Flesh and blood can’t be expected to stand it.
MAY DAY: Silk and chiffon, you mean! I don’t believe,
my dear, that you have more body than chiffon or less dress-
ing than silk?
MRS. GRIEVE: Very neat! And you judge I have no
heart because I like pretty clothes and things that sparkle, and
because I choose to wear some little bits of mere brightness
that have no intrinsic value except—
MAY DAY: Don’t pretend that you attach sentimental
interest to these—sparklets. Everyone knows that Jimmy
leaves you absolutely cold.
MRS. GRIEVE: He does, poor fellow. I can’t help it.
MAY DAY: While you have the reverse effect upon
him. Everyone knows that, too. It’s humiliating! I am
sorry for him.
MRS. GRIEVE (with feeling). So am I.
MAY DAY: How insulting! How dare you be sorry
for a man worth two of you!
MRS. GRIEVE: That’s not rating him over highly.
MAY DAY: Tell me one thing. You have refused him,
conventionally, I suppose?
MRS. GRIEVE: Very conventionally, once for all.
MAY DAY: And does he believe you?
MRS. GRIEVE: Oh yes. It is only on that understand-
ing that I permit—
MAY DAY: Paste pendants, etc.
MRS. GRIEVE: It gives him such intense pleasure, poor
dear, and you know, you impertinent May, who presume to
know everything, that Jimmy ins’t at all badly off. He has
quite a comfortable salary from those people in Throgmorton
Street, and I always say that he is not to spend more than a
fiver on me, ever. I am adamant.
MAY DAY: That pendant isn’t. I am sure it cost more
than a fiver.
MRS. GRIEVE: Nonsense! Jimmy knows that I am a
woman of honour.
MAY DAY: Did you make him swear to the fiver?
MRS. GRIEVE: Of course not. Jimmy is a man of
MAY DAY: Oh, love makes short work of honour! You
have corrupted him and got him to salve your nasty little
conscience with a lie.
MRS. GRIEVE: I wouldn’t stand this from any one but
an unmarried girl.
MAY DAY: They only have the courage to do and dare
to be rude. I am going on, since you are so nice about it.
Eve, don’t you mean to marry again?
MRS. GRIEVE: I don’t mean to, but I may.
MAY DAY: Not Jimmy?
MRS. GRIEVE: Certainly, not Jimmy.
MAY DAY: He is far to good for you.
MRS. GRIEVE: Far. But honestly, since my widow-
hood I have seen no one I could marry again, marry once
even. That’s my position, and I think it is a tenable one.
MAY DAY (pensive): Oh yes, if you can hold it. When I
think how I adore Teddy, who won’t even give me the chance
of marrying once, I could shake you.
MRS. GRIEVE: Do, child, if you think it would help
you to Teddy. But why won’t you let me stay in the berth
to which Providence has called me—the delightful berth of a
widow, with enough money to be comfortable, and ornamental
too. Neither my features nor my housekeeping are considered
plain. I have, thank God, no relations and heaps of friends.
MAY DAY: Enough to furnish your drawing-room and
eat your delicious little cakes, but only one Jimmy.
MRS. GRIEVE: But Jimmys are not rare. Every
ordinarily nice woman has a Jimmy of sorts, as she has an
opera-glass or a marabout stole.
MAY DAY: “A poor thing, but mine own.”
MRS. GRIEVE: It can’t be helped. There are, moving
in this society of ours, a certain number of women whom
MAY DAY: Draw it mild.
MRS. GRIEVE: Well, that several men want. Then,
as a pendant to them (May Day glances sarcastically at Mrs.
Grieve’s neck, and Mrs, Grieve unconsciously puts her hand
up), we have a certain number of men whom no woman wants.
“Left overs!” Jimmy is the sort of man who is born to be
said No to.
MAY DAY: Not when he comes with his hands full.
MRS. GRIEVE: Of two-pence-halfpenny perhaps.
MAY DAY: Oh, that’s what five pounds has dwindled to!
MRS. GRIEVE: It is no fault of his that he is not
MAY DAY: He has beautiful eyes, like a faithful dog’s.
MRS. GRIEVE: Just the sort of eye that doesn’t count—
MAY DAY: He is an awfully good sort.
MRS GRIEVE: That goes without saying—and with-
out magnetism either! Virtue doesn’t pay with widows. I
don’t know about girls? Re Teddy? (May blushes); Is he
particularly good? I heard tales—! And have you ever
observed that Circe had to turn her men into beasts before she
would look at them?
MAY DAY: Beasts are faithful, at any rate.
MRS. GRIEVE: But men were, and should be, deceivers
ever. It suits them. What of Teddy?
MAY DAY: Drop Teddy. Then why, if Jimmy is so
dull, do you go to tea with him at his rooms and other places?
Aren’t you afraid of being compromised?
MRS. GRIEVE (laughs): Jimmy! Compromising!
MAY DAY: Why not, as well as another?
MRS. GRIEVE: He squints, he lisps, he is bow-legged,
and he’d be red haired if he wasn’t bald. One could go to his
rooms on a season ticket, and no one think it was anything but
an errand of mercy! Would you marry him yourself?
MAY DAY (hesitates):
No—er—I—he is not in love
MRS. GRIEVE (bitterly): You see I And
yet that being
the case, he has some faint chance of being amusing with you.
There’s the situation in a nutshell. (The clock strikes six).
Poor Jimmy! He has been hopelessly kept. And I put on
his pendant on purpose to please him. I am very fond of
Jimmy you know, though not like that. Why, the very way
he comes into a room sets all the wrong nerves vibrating.
MAY DAY (curious): How does he come into a room.
MRS. GRIEVE: The wrong way! I can’t describe it.
Deprecating, dubious, obsequious, as if he didn’t see where he
was going—no dash or virility about it.
MAY DAY: How can he dash when he knows he won’t
be appreciated where he is going?
“How can it, oh how can Love’s eye see true
That is so worn with watching and with tears?”
Of course, he has no spirit. You have killed it. He is afraid
MRS. GRIEVE: I always know exactly what he will do
MAY DAY: But you may depend upon it, it will be the
MRS. GRIEVE: There are so many ways of doing the
right thing. There’s his way, the commonplace gentlemanly,
grovelling, unadventurous, unspeculative way. Now if I
heard of one unexpected, daring, dashing, romantic, masterful
thing he had done for me, or against me, it doesn’t matter
which, I believe it would work wonders with the impression-
able, modern creature that I am.
MAY DAY: Yes, you are a very widow. Well, I am
going to tell you of a deed such as you describe. I have
guessed it. Jimmy hasn’t let on to anyone. But I have
known it for a very long time.
MRS. GRIEVE: What?
MAY DAY: That pendant you are wearing is not paste, it
is diamonds. So is the brooch you wore at the Delmars the other
night. Teddy noticed that. He said he’d bet his life that never
came out of Wardour Street. Jimmy likes you to believe that
he is always interviewing Jews in the Rue de Douai, or the
back streets of Amsterdam. Not at all, he buys things new in
Bond Street, and dips them in something to make them look
old? You have taught him to cheat you. It is a gigantic
system of fraud, practised on you, Eve. He spends a very
fair half of his income, as I guess, on decking out a woman
who makes fun of him, teases him, and pities him! He need
not work hard, but he does, you admit it. Why should he
slave, except to earn the “over” that pays for your pleasure,
you, who flout and jeer at him? I am convinced of this, and
so is Teddy, who knows something about stones.
MRS. GRIEVE (sneers): And hasn’t it
together—a common interest of abusing me?
MAY DAY: We don’t talk of you, but of James Knight,
a true knight if ever there was one, tricking out his lady like
an idol, and the idol thinks she is being adorned with cut glass
and tinsel, and tells her votary to turn his toes out, and wipe
his muddy boots in the hall before he comes into her presence.
MRS. GRIEVE: Jimmy may be the best of men, but he
is terribly slovenly, and I am desperately neat.
MAY DAY: Pooh! Do you remember my asking you
to lend me your brooch for a fancy dress party, a month or
two ago? You agreed, you are generous enough. I didn’t
wear it, but took the opportunity of confounding you. I gave
it to a jeweller and had it valued.
MRS. GRIEVE (in a husky voice): Well?
MAY DAY: Diamonds, rather yellow, but worth at
least a couple of hundred. One jeweller offered me eighty for
them. And that lump you wear on a chain—
MRS. GRIEVE: That is nothing particular—a Russian
pebble; an Alexandrite they call it.
MAY DAY: Very difficult to get, and most costly. How
easily people are taken in when they want to be! (The outer
bell rings’) James!
MRS. GRIEVE: Do you mind leaving us?
MAY DAY: Certainly, with the greatest of pleasure!
(She goes, Mr. Knight is announced.)
JAMES KNIGHT: I am sorry. I could not get here
sooner. (He sinks rather wearily into the chair that May Day
has just vacated, leaving a trail of muddy boot in his passage
MRS. GRIEVE: Some tea, Jimmy?
JAMES KNIGHT (deprecatingly): I am too late!
MRS. GRIEVE (softly): Not at all. I’ll
have some fresh
made. (She contrives to put a chair over the worst boot
mark.) Have you had a hard day?
JAMES KNIGHT: Rather. But one must grind to
keep up at all. Have you had a successful reception?
MRS. GRIEVE: As successful as it could possibly be
JAMES KNIGHT (looking up, surprised, and
of these new amenities): Oh, I should hardly have added to the
general hilarity. I’m growing a sad bear.
MRS. GRIEVE: Say a melancholy Jacques. Why do
you always take such a gloomy view of life?
JAMES KNIGHT (stung into plainness):
won’t marry me, dear Eve!
(The servant comes in with tea! he helps
himself to milk
and sugar, The servant departs,
Let us talk of something and someone else. I met your little
friend May Day in the hall as I came in. She looks remark-
ably chirpy, and gave me such an amiable greeting. Is her
small love affair coming out all right?
MRS. GRIEVE: May? Oh, I forgot, she has a hopeless
passion, too! (Bites her lip.) No, she hasn’t been talking of
herself for a wonder, she has been talking about you.
JAMES KNIGHT (with the honest amazement of
modest man): About me? She might find a more lively topic
to bore you with.
MRS. GRIEVE: She says you—Jimmy, I am such a
careless idiot, I have been and gone and lost the Alexandrim
-Archimandrite, whatever it is—you gave me. At least, I can’t
find it anywhere?
JAMES KNIGHT (smiling indulgently):
looked in the tea-caddy?
MRS. GRIEVE: Yes, and in the coal-scuttle. Does it
JAMES KNIGHT: No, I’ll soon get you another.
MRS. GRIEVE: You must not.
JAMES KNIGHT: Why not? It is good of you to lose
it and give me the pleasure of getting you a new one.
MRS. GRIEVE: James, you are not to spend any
more money on me.
JAMES KNIGHT: Why not, surely? It is the only—the
best pleasure I have. I have no one else to give presents to,
no one else to think of!
MRS. GRIEVE: May Day says I am a mean—
JAMES KNIGHT (hotly): May Day had
her own business.
MRS. GRIEVE: But I do think I am a cad, James.
JAMES KNIGHT: No, you are an angel, I think!
MRS. GRIEVE: An angel, with a reservation! But still.
if what May says is true—.
JAMES KNIGHT: What does she say?
MRS. GRIEVE: She says that I am covered, from head
to foot, like an idol, with perfectly priceless gems, your gift!
How funny? (She stares at Mr. Knight.)
JAMES KNIGHT (roughly): Why do you look
MRS. GRIEVE: Because I see that when a man is upset
he turns red, not white, as we women do.
JAMES KNIGHT: Never mind my colour, Eve, or the
state of my banking account either! I wish you had not started
this. (Wipes his forehead).
MRS. GRIEVE: I wish May hadn’t. But now that
she has sprung this mine—of diamonds—on us, I presume
you will tell me the truth?
JAMES KNIGHT: Of course I will—if you insist! But
I wish to God you wouldn’t press me.
MRS. GRIEVE (touching her pendant):
Jimmy, is this
JAMES KNIGHT (rising): No, it is not.
MRS. GRIEVE (after a long pause): I
suppose it is all
through alike? This—and this? . . . (She begins feverishly
to pluck at her trinkets).
JAMES KNIGHT: Stop, Eve, please stop! I must ask
you to re-consider—I must tell you!— I believe I have
behaved infamously to you, dear, but you must really try to
forgive me when you see my point of view. I love you hope-
lessly to do you justice, quite hopelessly. I will never allow
that the woman I adore is a flirt. You have never, I swear it,
encouraged me by word, look or sign!
MRS. GRIEVE (rueful): Yes, I have
always been per-
fectly brutal to you.
JAMES KNIGHT: For my good. You have been
sincere. And things being as they were, you would never have
chosen to accept valuable presents from me. You postulated
that from the very first. I found out a way to cheat you
for my own selfish ends. I wanted to see my jewel in a worthy
setting for her beauty—so much more than rubies! I am a
moral criminal. I wanted to watch diamonds sparkling near
your eyes, and pearls lying on your white neck; to hear the
world admire you and them—for you may say what you like—
a woman, ay, the prettiest, can play her part better when the
scene is set in diamonds. I took a base advantage of your
innocence—for what nice woman ever knew the value of
things?—and gained myself the greatest possible pleasure.
The money was there, ready for my wife if I had one, and she
could have been no other than you. And, Eve, though some
of the things were expensive, the rest were bargains. I have
been cultivating a quite remarkable flair for uncut gems and
jewels, in the last few years. I amuse myself attending sales, and
getting things knocked down to me cheap through knowing
more about them than even the Jews do. It’s something to be
proud of, that! Those three emeralds—I had them all set
separately for you, they were tastelessly arranged in a single
ring—were acquired at the sale of the effects of a distant
relative of mine. Three fine emeralds for a hundred and
eighty! That was good, you’ll own! Eve, I have truly had
my money’s worth of pleasure out of them, first and last. I
have seen them flashing and glowing on the breast of the
woman I love. Don’t give me the agony of having them
returned to me! I see you are trying to take them off now!
Put down your hands! Eve, my darling Eve, don’t give them
back to me; wear them, throw them away if you must, but if
you return them it will, I believe, break my heart!
MRS. GRIEVE (putting down her hands): I
MARRIAGE IN TWO MOODS.
Love that’s loved from day to day
Loves itself into decay:
He that eats one daily fruit
Shrivels hunger at the root.
Daily pleasure grows a task;
Daily smiles become a mask.
Daily growth of unpruned strength
Expands to feebleness at length.
Daily increase thronging fast
Must devour itself at last.
Daily shining, even content,
Would with itself grow discontent;
And the Sun’s life witnesseth
Daily dying is not death.
So Love loved from day to day
Loves itself into decay.
Love to daily uses wed
Shall be sweetly perfected.
Life by repetition grows
Unto its appointed close:
Day to day fulfils the year;
Shall not Love by Love wax dear?
All piles by repetition rise;
Shall not then Loves’ edifice?
Shall not Love too learn his writ,
Like Wisdom, by repeating it?
By the oft-repeated use
All perfections gain their thews;
And so, with daily uses wed,
Love, too, shall be perfected.
AN INDIAN ROAD-TALE.
Inland they tell the tale of the coast-road, and on the coast
they tell it of Pipavao, how the Kir kept the road by force for
many years, feared by all, and how he was killed easily.
Morning had not yet come, and the rumble of the mills
and low sighing song of the women as they ground the corn
fresh for the early meal, was the only sound heard.
Two men left a village and approached by way of the road
the tank, on whose banks dwelt the Kir, at a point whence
the road could be seen stretching on either hand far along the
low coast. All the trade and travellers of the coast paid toll
to him, and these men, too, at dusk the day before, on their way
to a distant town and a marriage, with many carts and women,
had paid their toll, and now came, before journeying on to
hear the talk and gain the good-will of one they feared.
They stood before the low house and unfastened the
girdle that held their swords. Each sword was pulled till the
peace-twine that held the sword to the scabbard was taut and
a finger’s breadth of metal showed; then they laid scabbard
and sword and girdle on the beaten red earth before the door,
where unarmed stood the Kir.
They gave greeting, naming Gods and high titles of
men; and then, as travellers over long roads, they told of
towns and kings, and of what they had seen and heard.
The village where they had rested for the night was
temple land, a free gift many generations back to the Temple
and its Priests. The Kir spoke of the present holder, asking
of the hospitality they had received and whether they had been
branded with the holy Temple sign. They bared their arms
and showed the brand burned red and white on the flesh.
Other brands were there of famous Temples showing the
journeys and pilgrimages they had made.
They had found a welcome; it had pleased the Priest
to be merry in their company. But in the village and on the
lands under him, he ruled hard; and along the coast men
jeered at the temple-land villagers, who for the honour of the
Temple, kept life sacred and might not hunt or fish. The
beauties of the village offered at the Temple, so nets there
were indeed—hung near the road Kir’s house where none
dared rob—left there by those who used them, seeing that they
might not bring them to the village. But the Kir spoke
not to those women, nor to the brothers and husbands
One of the travellers said with a laugh that there
would soon be another net left for safety outside the village,
for the Priest was merry and would not be over vigilant on
those who gave good value.
The Kir rose as the laugh sounded; his tongue clicked
to end the talk, and he passed behind the house. The early
day was breaking, and he stood there, his eyes seeking the
light and the road.
The travellers girdled their swords to return to the
village, and passing behind the house they saw him. Hands
beat on breast and a sob was heard.
The scabbard-twines were broken before they reached the
Kir, and she turned and saw; but her eyes sought the road
again; and she had sobbed but once, for the sex she
And so they cut her down; and a stone marks the place
on the old tank.
There when the cattle stray at dusk, homeward from the
fields, the women turn them to the village and the men keep
MADAME DE WARENS.
In his old age Rousseau wrote that the spot in the little
town of Annecy where, as a youth of sixteen, he first met
Madame de Warens ought to be surrounded by railings of gold,
and only approached kneeling by those who revere the monu-
ments of human salvation. Extravagant as that utterance may
seem to us, we cannot doubt the magnitude of an influence
which left so profound an impression even half a century
afterwards, and Rousseau’s estimate of his indebtedness has
been endorsed by many of his modern critics. As Michelet
put it, Rousseau’s genius was born of Madame de Warens.
It is impossible not to feel curiosity concerning the woman
who so largely moulded the man who himself was one of the
chief moulding forces, not only of his own times but of the
whole modern world. Every reader of the Confessions remem-
bers Madame de Warens, but vivid as is Rousseau’s account
of her it is still imperfect and misleading. Rousseau’s own
knowledge of the woman whom he worshipped more or less
throughout life, the real heroine of his Nouvelle Heloise,
was indeed, as regards her history, in many respects less
complete than is ours to-day. It is only within recent
years that the investigations of a few men of letters and
research in Switzerland and in Savoy,—more especially M. de
Montet as regards Madame de Warens’ early life in the Vaud
country, M. Mugnier concerning her later life in Savoy, and
M. Ritter as to her religious opinions and their sources,—
have finally made that history clear.
Francoise-Louise de la Tour belonged to the baronial
family who possessed Chatelard, with its picturesque old castle
on the hill-side overlooking the lake of Geneva, near Vevey,
a familiar sight to the foreign colony now dwelling near by
at Montreux and Clarens. She was born in March, 1699,
the second of three children, and the only survivor. Her
mother died in childbirth when Louise was still an infant, and
she was educated by one of her father’s sisters, who became
a second mother to her. Although her father married again
she remained with her aunts at Le Basset, near Chatelard, a
comfortable but rather humble looking house, with a wooden
gallery outside, on to which the doors and windows of the
upper floor opened. This house, which was situated on the
hillside some distance above the lake, and enjoyed a wide and
beautiful outlook from amid its vines and trees, was destroyed
a few years ago. There still remain a few of the splendid
chestnuts which once formed a wood called “le bosquet
de Clarens,” celebrated by Rousseau in the Nouvelle Heloies, and
now often called “le bosquet de Julie.” Madame de Warens
in character, tastes, and feelings corresponds to Julie, although
the heroine of the novel lives on a somewhat more magnificent
scale. This was so not only because the scenes of the real
girl’s life had been passed through Rousseau’s exalted imagi-
nation, but also because Madame de Warens herself was never
absolutely accurate, even with Rousseau, in regard to
the details of her early life, and was always willing to magnify
somewhat the events of the past, and to leave out of account
anything which might seem unfavourable to herself. It is a
reticence which, like much else in her life, has not in the event
proved altogether wise, for, as we shall see, it has led Rousseau,
by trusting to his imagination or to gossip, to defame unduly
the woman to whom he owed so much, and whom he so
We know, however, all the essential facts of the young
Francoise-Louise’s life, and it is not difficult to reconstruct it.
At that time it was usual for the rural aristocracy to live in
this simple fashion, and they were not therefore the less con-
sidered. The ladies of Le Basset were on intimate terms with
Magny, an old man of high character who enjoyed great
esteem in the Pays de Vaud, although he was the leader of the
pietistic movement, by no means an orthodox position in a
strictly Calvinistic land. Magny, however, was in touch with
the great German mystical movement of the eighteenth
century, which sought to bring a new freedom, a new emo-
tional depth, into religion. The Calvinism of her native land,
we may be sure, never had the slightest attraction for Madame
de Warens, but for the pietism which Magny represented,
although she never strictly adopted it, she had a natural
affinity. Its indifference to forms, its belief in instinct and
impulse, its tendency to sum up its doctrines in the formula
embodied in Saint Augustine’s saying: Love and do what you
like—all these things would certainly appeal to Madame de
Warens. In order to understand her attitude we may profit-
ably re-read the “Bekenntnisse einer schonen Seele” in
Wilhelm Meister. Goethe has here very faithfully
the inner life of a woman who fell under the influence of
Moravian pietism. Madame de Warens would also have
said, like the woman of the “beautiful soul,” “Nothing
appears to me in the form of a law; it is an impulse which
leads me; I follow my feelings and know as little of restraint
as of repentance.” But the “beautiful soul” added that the
impulse which led her always led her right, and that Madame
de Warens could scarcely have ventured to claim; the ele-
ments of her nature were less happily tempered. But the
reality of her pietism can scarcely be doubted; it remained
rudimentary, but it so genuinely harmonised with her own
temperament that it is probable she never realised how much
of it was due to the atmosphere which Magny had created
around her in youth. It would seem that she never mentioned
his name to Rousseau, yet the religious ideas she taught him
were those she had learnt from Magny. On the latter point
Rousseau’s evidence is clear. It is these German religious
influences, filtered first through Magny, and then through
Madame de Warens, which reappear in the “Vicaire Savo-
yard,” and so often elsewhere in Rousseau’s writings, as a
mighty force which was to sweep away the cold deism of that
age, and may indeed almost be said to have become in their later
transformations a part of the modern spirit.
Francoise-Louise was rather spoilt by her aunts who
were charmed by her pretty face, her precociously alert intelli-
gence, and the independence which was from the first a note of
her character. She had an eager thirst for knowledge, hardly
satisfied by the modicum of instruction in which a girl’s
education consisted, and she gratified her desires by devouring
the medical and natural history books which had belonged to
her grandfather, a doctor. She thus acquired that taste for
chemistry and medicine which never forsook her, and later
induced her to urge Rousseau to become a doctor. For
housewifely duties, however, and for domestic economy, all
the efforts of her aunts and her step-mother could never impart
to her any aptitude, and there lay a chief source of the mis-
fortunes she was plunged into throughout life. She lived
mostly with the peasant girls of the neighbourhood; she thus
acquired, and retained, the love of being surrounded by
inferiors, a delight in their admiration and subservience.
She was still only a child of fourteen at her marriage in
1713, to a soldier of good family, twelve years older than
herself, M. de Loys, who took the name of De Vuarens (more
commonly De Warens), after a village of which he had the
lordship. He was violently in love with his young wife. She
brought him a dot equal in modern money to something over
£7,000, and Magny was appointed her trustee, replacing the pre-
vious trustees who had disagreed over the marriage settlement.
The young couple settled at Vevey, whither many French
Huguenots had migrated after the Revocation of the Edict of
Nantes, and spent the autumns at Chailly,—in the centre of the
vine district which was part of the bride’s dot,—in order to
oversee the grape harvest. In the Nouvelle Heloise the petty
lordship of Vuarens is magnified into the barony of D’Etanges,
and little Chailly figures as the domain of Clarens.
It is in 1715, when she was still but a girl of sixteen, that
Madame first steps into public life and reveals clearly her vivid
impetuous personality. By marriage she had lost her rights
of citizenship at Vevey, and her husband possessed no such
rights there; consequently she was unable to sell her wine in
the town, for that was a privilege reserved to legalised citizens.
She induced her husband to apply for these rights. But in the
meanwhile, without waiting for the results of the application,
—and probably without consulting her husband, whose con-
duct never failed in correctness,—she forthwith began to sell
her wine in the town. This little episode cannot be passed
over, because it is a revelation of the woman’s whole nature
throughout life. Her position in the town made the result
of the application certain, but her eager impetuosity could never
wait for events to ripen; her plans must always be carried out
at once, recklessly, even, if need be, unscrupulously. The
results, of course, were not usually happy. They were not so
on the present occasion. The town council felt called upon
to reprimand M. de Warens and to threaten more severe
measures. Young Madame’s pride was hurt, all the more so,
doubtless, because she was in the wrong, and feeling her social
position shaken, she agreed to an old wish of her husband to
settle at Lausanne,—persuading him, however, first to secure
the Vevey citizenship,—in the course of 1718. De Warens was
a native of Lausanne and was received with distinction. But
living proved expensive at Lausanne,—as, in Madame de
Warens’ experience, indeed, it proved everywhere,—and the
young wife persuaded her husband to secure further resources
from his father. This led to quarrels and unpleasantness, and
as Madame felt no attachment to Lausanne, they returned to
Vevey where the husband received a high official position,
and the wife distinguished herself by her generosity and
At this point we have to consider a difficult and delicate
question which it is impossible to pass over. Rousseau
states definitely in the Confessions that young Madame de
Warens was seduced in Switzerland by a certain M. de Tavel,
who to effect his object had first persuaded her that morality
and modesty were merely conventions, and that she after-
wards, “it is said,” became the mistress of a Swiss minister,
one Perret. But M. de Montet and M. Mugnier, the two chief
authorities on Madame de Warens’ life, throw some doubt on
this statement. The question arises: How did Rousseau
know? In after years he went to Vevey and the neighbour-
hood; during his stay there he associated mainly with the
society that met in the parlours of small inns, and while such
gossip as he might hear there concerning a woman who had
abandoned both her husband and her religion, would certainly
be scandalous, it would certainly also be worthless. It is
known that even up to her final departure from Switzer-
land, Madame de Warens enjoyed the highest consideration,
and as a rigid puritanical inquisition then ruled at Vevey, this
could not possibly have been the case had anything been
publicly known of such episodes as Rousseau tells of, for in
that case she would have been called before the bar of the
Consistory. Her husband, in the end, had much fault to find,
—with her fondness for industrial enterprises, her extravagant
generosity, the vanity that led her into exaggeration and false-
hood, her independence and dislike of advice, her leaning to
pietism, the ease with which she made acquaintance with
people who flattered her, he even called her at last
“an accomplished comedian,” —but he never hinted that
he suspected her of infidelity. If, therefore, rumours of
immorality afterwards gathered around the name of the
apostate and fugitive, they could scarcely have proceeded from
any reliable source. We must fall back on the supposition
that Rousseau’s statements are founded on the confidences of
Madame de Warens herself. But here we have to remember
the unquestionable fact, clearly to be seen in the Confessions,
that, even with Rousseau, Madame de Warens was never
communicative regarding those matters in her personal life,
however remote, which might show her in an unfavourable
light. It must be added that neither De Tavel nor Perret
are unknown persons; the former was a colonel, an old friend of
De Warens, but very seldom at Vevey though a native of that
place; the latter was a clergyman, twenty-five years older than
Madame de Warens, and a man of high position and unspotted
reputation. It seems to me most reasonable to conclude that
Rousseau’s statements must be regarded as an effort of con-
structive imagination, founded on slight data which seemed to
him sufficient basis for an episode enabling him to explain
Madame de Warens’ character, but which, in the light of our
fuller knowledge to-day, cannot be unreservedly accepted. It
is probable enough that De Tavel on his visits to Vevey
brought a knowledge of the new revolutionary moral maxims
of Paris which the intelligent and inquisitive young woman
was interested to learn, and that eventually these maxims
mingled with the pietistic teaching of Magny—in a way that
venerable teacher would have been far from approving—to
prepare her for that indifference to conventional moral con-
siderations which her conduct subsequently showed. But
that De Tavel himself sought to teach and apply these maxims
may well have been an ingenious supposition by which
Rousseau sought to supplement the reticence of his informant.
Had De Tavel been the cynical libertine which Rousseau’s
statement implies, his intimate friend, De Warens, would
scarcely have regarded him as a fit associate for his wife. We
know that in several cases Rousseau has, on altogether
inadequate grounds, attributed acts of early misconduct to
other people, whom he highly esteemed, including the original
of the Vicaire Savoyard, and it must not unduly surprise us
that he has done so in the case of Madame de Warens. That
he himself was a little uncertain about his statement as to
De Tavel is suggested by the fact that he coupled it with the
quite wanton rumour about Perret. De Tavel has so often
served, even in the hands of the most serious historians, as a
stock example of the depravity of the eighteenth century, that
it is time to insist that the one episode by which his name
survives is quite probably a legend. Statements of the kind
which Rousseau attributes to De Tavel were often made
during the eighteenth century by philosophers in the seclusion
of their studies; one may be permitted to doubt whether they
ever proved dangerous even in the eighteenth century. “On
s’amuse de l’esprit d’un arrant,” remarks Madame de Lursay
in Crebillon’s Egarements du Coeur a few years later, “mais
ce n’est pas lui qui persuade: son trouble, le difficulté qu’il
trouve à s’exprimer, le désordre de ses discours, voilà ce qui le
rend à craindre!”
We now reach the circumstances that led up to the central
episode in the life of Madame de Warens—her abandonment of
her home and her religion. In 1724 a young Frenchman, Elie
Laffon, the son of a refugee French Protestant minister, had
arrived at Vevey, and, in accordance with the industrial
traditions of the Huguenots, he proposed to start a manufactory
of silk stockings. Madame de Warens, who had once been
the pupil of Laffon’s sister, soon heard of the scheme and
entered into it with enthusiasm. She was, as we have seen,
attracted to business enterprises at a very early age, and she
remained so to the end, the ardour of her commercial scheming
being always rendered more acute by her continual lack of
money. Laffon needed assistance and capital, and without
asking the advice of her husband Madame engaged herself
to take control of the whole business. De Warens opposed
the scheme from the first, but his wife’s influence over him
was still great , she induced him, against his own better judg-
ment, to borrow money in all directions and to make many
sacrifices. It is needless to follow the history of the silk
stocking manufactory, now known in all its details; the issue
could not be doubtful. Madame had no business capacity,
and she even appropriated some of the money obtained for the
factory to her own personal uses , Laffon, who had equally
little business capacity, seems to have followed her example.
Things went from bad to worse, but Madame was too proud
to confess failure. At last the strain began to affect her nerves.
In 1725 she had to go across the lake to Aix-les-Bains for
treatment and distraction. It was a fateful visit. She felt, in
passing from Switzerland into Savoy, as even to-day we feel
to some degree,—though Gray’s letters show that this was by
no means a universal sentiment even at that time,—a delightful
sense of the contrast between the asperity of the one land and
its people and the larger and more cheerful atmosphere of the
other. Aix, as we learn from Casanova’s account of his stay
there, was then on a very humble scale what it has since
become on a more magnificent and cosmopolitan scale, a region
supremely well fitted to be the haunt of the pleasure-seeker
and the health-seeker, and Madame de Warens, with her ever
sanguine and volatile temperament, here soon recovered. She
met during her stay a certain Madame de Bonnevaux, a con-
nection of her husband, who belonged to Savoy and had
remained a Catholic; by her she was taken to Chambéry for
the first time, and Madame de Bonnevaux would not have
failed to make her realise how different was the tolerant
Catholicism of Savoy from the austere Calvinism of the Vaud
country. It is not necessary to suppose that at this moment
Madame de Warens formed her plans for flight,—if she had
done so her impetuous nature would have led her to put them
into execution at once,—but when she returned home she
certainly could not help knowing that a more delightful and
congenial land lay on the other side of the lake, and when the
stress of her life became too hard to bear that land appeared
to her as a harbour of refuge. She was not so much con-
verted to Catholicism as to the religion of Savoy, and her
husband doubtless felt this when in later years he used to
refer to his divorced wife as “la Savoyarde.” On reaching
Vevey she openly declared how charmed she was with Savoy,
and how disgusted with the Pays de Vaud. The almost
hopeless confusion into which she had plunged her affairs
furnished ample cause for such disgust. The strain of pretend-
ing to her husband and her acquaintances that all was going
well and nothing now needed but a little more capital became
more severe than ever. In the spring of 1726 she realised that
the crash was approaching. Her pride would still not allow
her to confess even to her husband, or to humiliate herself in
the public eye. She preferred a secret flight, —although that
placed her husband in a much worse financial position than if
she had stayed beside him,—and with a more or less certain
expectation of honours and pensions bestowed by the King of
Sardinia on distinguished converts to Catholicism she decided
to cross the lake for ever. Having persuaded a doctor that
she needed to visit the baths at Amphion in Savoy, she col-
lected together as much furniture, linen, and plate as possible,
together with the goods and money remaining at the manu-
factory, and had them conveyed to the boat; she always
carried so much luggage when she travelled that this excited
no attention. Her husband saw her off, one day in July, and
accompanied by a servant maid she crossed the lake and went
direct to Evian, where the King was then residing. At the
earliest possible moment, when the King was going to mass
with a few of his lords and Bishop Bernex of Annecy, she
seized the prelate’s cassock and falling on her knees said; “In
mantis tuas, Domine, commendo spirituum meum.” The
Bishop raised her up and after mass had a long conversation
with her in his rooms. This time her plans had come off.
She had left behind her Vevey and all its torturing worries,
her conversion was effected; she was treated with distinction
and was soon to receive a pension, while the Bishop was
warmly congratulated on the brilliant conquest he had made
for the Church.
Easy as it may seem to account for this conversion on
merely prudential grounds, Madame de Warens was not
accustomed to be guided by prudential considerations, and we
know that the step she had taken cost her much anguish and
many sleepless nights. It was true that she had never been a
very convinced Calvinist, her most genuine religious beliefs,
though even these were very loosely held, were those of mystic
pietism. Her old friend Magny, came over to see her shortly
after her conversion, and declared on his return, to the astonish-
ment of everyone, that he was entirely at rest in regard to her
spiritual state; such a testimony is, at all events, to the
credit of her genuine religious belief and genuine sincerity.
Perhaps the remorse which she found it hard to stifle had
reference more to the husband she had abandoned than
to the religion she had exchanged. There had, indeed,
been no children of the union, though two children
had been adopted, but it could scarcely be said that
the marriage was altogether an unhappy one; the couple
had drifted apart simply because the husband, who having
begun by idolising his wife and allowing her to rule
his actions, was now realising the abyss into which her
impetuous recklessness, her vanity and her business inca-
pacity had plunged him; while she, on her side, had no real
sympathy with his strict, and, as it seemed to her, narrow
conceptions of honour and duty. Of conjugal infidelity there
was no question. It might seem that the clever and vivacious
fugitive was playing off her attractions on the King, but with
all her serious failings Madame de Warens was not an adven-
turess, and if it is still rather a mystery by what influence she
obtained a liberal pension from a not very generous monarch;
it cannot be suggested that the King was in love with her.
Her husband paid her two visits in Savoy. At the first
visit, to Evian, immediately after her conversion, she refrained
from mentioning that episode. She asked him to send her
Bayle’s Dictionary, always a favourite book with her, and
with it his own English gold-headed cane to use when she
went out; these commissions he fulfilled. Once more he came
over to see her at the Convent of the Visitation at Annecy.
She received him in bed, he wrote, to hide her confusion, and
he was himself so overcome that at first he could not speak.
When he began to talk of the fatal step which, as he now
knew, she had taken, she pointed to a corner of the room, and
on raising the tapestry he saw a little cupboard with an open-
ing into the cloisters, and they spoke in whispers as they
amicably settled their affairs before parting for ever. He noted
with surprise, however, as he afterwards wrote, the slight
importance which she seemed to attach to the forms of religion,
the cavalier manner in which she treated him, her sudden
changes from sorrow to joy, her strange proposition that since
he was always tolerant in religious matters he too should
become a Catholic. They parted never to meet again. De
Warens returned to Vevey, and by his own skill and the
goodwill of his fellow citizens, slowly retrieved his financial
position; at one moment, indeed, fearing ruin, he fled to
England, and wrote from Islington to his brother a long letter,
detailing the history of his separation from his wife, which is,
after the Confessions, the most valuable document we
in the light it throws on Madame de Warens’ history and
character. Finding he could not obtain in England any posi-
tion suited to his rank he returned home, became tutor to a
prince, and finally retired to Lausanne where he died in 1754.
At the instigation of his family he had obtained a formal
divorce for “malicious desertion and abjuration of Protest-
antism,” but he never married again.
When Madame de Warens settled in the delightful little
town of Annecy—in a house to the west of the present
episcopal residence, overlooking the Thion canal—she was
nearly twenty-seven years of age. She was, her husband
remarks, a woman of great intelligence, of much strength of
will, and a delightful companion. De Conzie, who first knew
her at this time, speaks of her charming laughter, her viva-
cious eyes, her intelligence, as giving an uncommon energy to
everything she said, while she was entirely without affectation
or insincerity. We know from Rousseau’s description that
she was rather short and plump, with blue eyes and light brown
hair. Various portraits have been supposed to represent her,
but the only one which has good claims to authenticity is a
miniature in the Salle des Ivoires of the Cluny Museum, sup-
posed to date from some twenty years later; it represents a
middle-aged woman in whom we can still detect some of the
traits attributed to Madame de Warens in early life.
There is one point in regard to Madame de Warens’
temperament which is of the first importance in the light it
sheds on her life and actions, though so far it has attracted no
attention. De Warens mentions, briefly and incidentally,
without insistence, that his wife was hysterical (“sujette aux
vapeurs”). The fact is full of significance; it explains that
intelligent but too impetuous and ill-regulated activity which
marked her whole life; it gives us the clue to that thread of
slight mental anomaly and ill-balance which was fated to
plunge her into difficulties at every step. We are not entirely
dependent on her husband for our knowledge of this definite
constitutional peculiarity. Rousseau also, equally unsuspect-
ing the significance of his statement as an index of abnormal
nervous sensibility, mentions that at dinner she was so
overcome by the odour of the dishes, that she could seldom
begin till he had finished, when he would begin again to keep
her company. We have always to remember that, like
Rousseau himself, who was so irresistibly attracted to her,
Madame de Warens, though in slighter degree, was an organ-
ically abnormal person.
We have seen that the evidence as to Madame de Warens’
infidelity to her husband rests on a very weak foundation and
may safely be rejected. The evidence regarding the divorced
wife is less doubtful. Very shortly after settling at Annecy
she was certainly living on intimate terms with her servant,
the faithful steward of her affairs, Claude Anet. Rousseau
has done full justice to the estimable and upright character of
this young man; except his extreme devotion to his mistress
no reproach has ever been cast on him. He was born at
Montreux, and belonged to a family which had long served
the La Tour family. At the period we have now reached he
was twenty-one years of age. It is highly probable that he
already cherished a passion for Madame at Vevey; he pre-
pared for his flight at the time that she was leaving; he left
Switzerland soon afterwards to join her, and with her he
abjured Protestantism. One is inclined at first to suspect
(with M. Mugnier) that we here have an elopement, but on
the whole the suspicion seems unnecessary. The financial ruin
which hung over Madame de Warens amply accounts for her
flight. It is clear that she gladly availed herself of Anet’s
devotion, and accepted his sacrifices at a moment when she
sorely needed them. But the reward, it may well have been,
came later, when she felt her loneliness in a foreign country,
when she knew that by the law of her own country though
not that of her new religion she was a divorced woman, and
when in close association with Claude Anet she learned to
feel for him a warmer emotion than that of gratitude. The
relationship remained a secret; Savoy was a freer country
than austere and inquisitorial Switzerland, but social feeling
would not have tolerated a lady whose steward was her lover.
It may be noted that the three men whom we know positively
to have been Madame de Warens’ lovers,—Anet, Rousseau, and
Wintzen were all Swiss Protestants who had abjured their reli-
gion; they were all younger than herself, and all of lower social
class. She never really changed under the influences of life; what
she was in early Youth she remained in age; in the mature
woman’s choice of her lovers we still see the little girl at Le
Basset who delighted to lord it over the peasant children
Rousseau, an unpromising runaway youth of sixteen,
reached Annecy on Palm Sunday in 1728, and met Madame
de Warens as, with her stick in her hand—the gold-headed
cane, no doubt, that we know of—she was entering the church
of the Cordeliers. It was a memorable day in his life, a more
memorable day in hers than she was ever to know. As regards
the years that followed at Annecy, the earlier years at Cham-
béry, and the occupation of Les Charmettes, Rousseau’s
Confessions is the prime authority for Madame de Warens’
life, and the incomparable pages which he has devoted to these
years are on the whole so faithful that the story need not be
told again; no reader of the Confessions ever forgets them,
and when he visits the secluded valley of Les Charmettes
and enters the little house which scarcely seems changed since
Rousseau left it, he seems to be returning to a spot he had
known long before.
In 1744, after Rousseau had finally left Savoy to settle in
Paris, the Spaniards had come to occupy Chambéry; Madame
de Warens for a time lost her pension, and with her usual
energy and skill in initiative she started a soap manufactory
and also, it appears, a chocolate manufactory, sending some of
both products as a present to Rousseau. At the same time
she began coal-mining and iron-mining operations, trying to
establish a company. But, as we know, she could never
carry through the schemes she was so clever in planning, and
these new enterprises went through all the same stages to ruin
as the silk stocking manufactory of twenty years earlier.
Rousseau, himself struggling with difficulties of all kinds, sent
her small sums from time to time. In 1754 she writes to him
reproachfully that she is in the state mentioned in the Imitation
wherein that fails us on which we have placed our chief hopes.
. “Malgré tout cela,” she concludes, “je suis et je serai toute ma
vie votre véritable bonne mère.” Less that a month later she
writes to the Court of Turin that she is “without bread and
without credit,” and solicits a loan from the King as her
pension is engaged by her industrial obligations. In the same
year, as Rousseau tells us, he came with Thérèse to see her
at Chambéry; he was afflicted at her condition, and made an
impracticable proposition that she could live with them in
Paris. Of her jewels but one ring was now left, and this she
wished to place on Thérèse’s hand. It was the last time
Rousseau ever saw her. In 1761 the Nouvelle Heloise appeared
and fascinated the attention of the world. By this time the
woman who was its real heroine was old, poor, forgotten;
some years before she had become a chronic invalid; we do
not know whether she ever read the famous novel she had
inspired, or even heard of its fame. The year afterwards she
died, and it was some months before Rousseau received the
news of her death in a letter from her friend, De Conzié; she
had left nothing behind her, wrote De Conzié, but the evidences
of her piety and her poverty. Sixteen years later, Rousseau
also died. The last words he ever wrote, the concluding lines
of his Reveries, were devoted to the memory of his first meet-
ing, exactly fifty years earlier, with the woman to whom
he owed those “four or five years wherein I enjoyed a century of
life and of pure and full happiness.”
Madame de Warens has seemed to many who only knew
her through the Confessions, an enigma, almost a monstro-
sity. When all the facts of her life are before us, and we
have patiently reconstructed them—and, where we cannot
reconstruct, divined—we realise that little that is enigmatic
remains. She was simply a restless, impetuous, erring, and
suffering woman, of unusual intelligence, and somewhat
hysterical—less so than some women who have played a
noble part in practical affairs, than many women whom we
revere for their spiritual graces. Her life, when we understand
it, was the natural outcome of her special constitution in re-
action with circumstances. The explanation of the supposed
enigma becomes therefore an interesting psychological study.
But Madame de Warens is something more than a mere
subject for psychological study such as we might more profit-
ably exercise nearer home. She is the only person who can
claim to be the teacher of the man who was himself the greatest
teacher of his century. When he went to her he was a vaga-
bond apprentice in whom none could see any good. She raised
him, succoured him, cherished him, surrounded him with her
conscious and unconscious influence; she was the only educa-
tion he ever received. When he left her he was no longer the
worthless apprentice of an engraver, but a supreme master of
all those arts which most powerfully evoke the ideals and
emotions of mankind. We seldom open Rousseau’s books
now; the immortal Confessions, and for some few readers
Emile, alone remain. Nevertheless Rousseau once moved the
world; when the curious critic takes up innumerable counters
from among our current sentiments and beliefs, and seeks to
decipher the effaced image and superscription it is the pupil of
Madame de Warens that he finds. She failed, it is true, to live
her own life nobly. But she has played a not ignoble part in
the life of the world, and it is time to render to her memory
our small tribute of reverence.
Life from sunned peak, witched wood, and flowery dell
A hundred ways the eager spirit wooes,
To roam, to dream, to conquer, to rebel;
Yet in its ear, ever a voice cries, Choose!
So many ways, yet only one shall find;
So many joys, yet only one shall bless;
So many creeds, yet for each pilgrim mind
One road to the divine forgetfulness.
Tongues talk of truth, but truth is only there
Where the heart runs to be outpoured utterly,
A stream whose motion is its home,—to dare
Follow one faith and in that faith be free.
O Love, since I have found one truth so true,
I would lose all, to lose my loss in you.
A Chapter of Childhood.
Human life is a fragment, at
best. . . . And that
moment of childhood when, in one signal flash like the
uncapping of the camera, character is fixed, is surely rather
the record than the prophecy of a life afterwards lived?
Thrown upon his own resorces, practically, at four years
old, Richard Farquharson, at ten, was older in many ways
than other boys of his age.
His memories grouped themselves into scenes; one was
That dreadful day! Did he really remember it, I wonder,
or was it merely an imaginary landmark in that valley of
vision which kept alive in him a spark of tenderness amidst
the universal harshness and austerity of his life at Glune?
He thought of it sometimes with that strange sort of pride
which naturally brave children feel in recalling from a safe
distance something which at the time was infinitely terrifying.
A cold bleak day, the first of days which were all bleak and
cold: a line of dark shapes clustering close in the gloomy hall,
grouped, circle-wise, about one central shadow deeper than the
rest, over which heavy drapery was thrown. Upon this
unknown object, the eyes of all were fixed; child as he was,
Richard shrank back from it instinctively. And presently
strange men appeared, a long line of figures formed up, led by
one which for the first time struck utter terror into his soul
—his mother’s. And then they were no more, and Richard
was left alone, forgotten, in a silence that frightened him so
greatly that he could neither cry out nor move—a silence that
seemed to catch hold of him with invisible fingers and tighten
its grip upon his throat, as the outer door clanged upon him
and left the four year old child in the room where a dis-
honoured death had lately held grim revel.
His nurse remembered him and ran back, perhaps five
minutes later. But that five minutes of solitary anguish had
done its work, spelling eternity to Richard, an eternity which
the weekly sermons of the Forbeggie minister, dilating under
fifteen or sixteen headings, on “The God of Wrath,” and the
torments of sinners, such as “The worm of the damned that
dieth not,” and “The fire that shall never be quenched,” con-
tinually kept alive in him, but scarcely made more palatable.
But the years that followed brought Richard his
sations. “Fide et Fortitudine” was the motto of his race;
he had learned its lessons early. He loved the lash of his
inheritance, nor grudged one of the supperless occasions which
helped to retain the few splendours of a clan which derived
from Macduff’s-Thane of Fife. Indeed, he positively thrived
on austerities that would have broken the spirit of a less
His taste for solitude was fostered by his enforced
ness. The days went swiftly. To be more or less alone in
the world, except for a collie dog, is not necessarily to be self-
centred when every bird knows your call, when stoats and
ferrets, even, are your familiar friends. Richard’s mind—
dependent upon nature for its amusements—was seldom called
upon to translate the word ” disappointment.” The loneliness
which wrapped him round became his dear possession, and
was peopled with invisible companions. There was a hut
in the park near the river, about three miles from the house,
where Dan, the collie, and he played the part of settlers in a
land full of enemies. He knew the range of every object
within view; he altered its defences day after day, laying down
wire entanglements, building rough stockades, or elementary
trenches with look-holes and head-cover, in all of which Dan
took deep interest. He was his own stern critic and yester-
day’s work was pulled down on the morrow, until the day
came when he found it good. Covered with dirt, growing in
experience, could the heart of boy ask more?
Nature is a jealous mistress, but she gives openly of her
best to the lover who lives with her whole-heartedly as did
Richard. His eye and ear became presently so well-trained,
that from quite far he could detect a moving object, and, with
the wind blowing gently towards him and his ear to the
ground, could distinguish a single footfall on a path nearly a
mile away. Blindfold, or in the dark, he could make his way
across his beloved land without a slip. Books of travels in
far countries had taught him to destroy the tracks of his in-
coming and out-going, so every step of the way to this special
place of concealment, had in it the thrill, the enchantment of an
adventure. To him who has never been to a theatre, a country
life becomes a beautiful play of birth and death; things move
and have their being, that he may see them pass to their
appointed end. The green earth is the stage, Nature the play-
wright, and God Himself the Great Scene-painter.
Richard’s tutor, a half-blind village schoolmaster who
came for three hours daily when Mrs. Farquharson could
afford to pay his meagre fees, was the only ” outside ” person
whom he ever saw. Between the boy and his mother there
was neither communion nor confidence. Morning and even-
ing he went to her dutifully, obeying the custom of his child-
hood, to find her sitting in her accustomed place, a high-backed
chair in the library where his father’s papers and diaries were
collected. Her frozen lips—lips tightened into a line so hard
that he always thought it must hurt her to move them—would
meet his stiffly, with neither pressure nor lingering, and he
would go from her presence with a sense of relief at a hard
task fulfilled. That her eyes watched for him hungrily all day
when he was least aware, that the tense figure was inwardly
shaken and stirred with all the mother’s passionate longing to
bend to him, to hold close to her own the slender limbs that
had once lain warm and quiet beneath her heart, he never
Mary Farquharson’s pride in her son went hand in hand
with a doubt so ceaseless, so torturing, that now it threatened
to become a mania. Not everyone is strong enough to endure
the strain of a great shame and sorrow with no outside help.
Richard’s fatal likeness to her dead first-born—dearer
than Richard because the child of her early wifehood—was an
image which ever tore her heart and left it bleeding. Would
history repeat itself? What if Richard, too, had been born
only to add to his brother’s legacy of dishonour? If so, how
welcome were death did he but come while her boy’s heart
Eyes that had looked as pure as his had been the caskets
of a living lie; lips curved like his had betrayed her in her day.
She would not willingly look upon the one, nor suffer the
others to caress her.
In Douglas Farquharson’s case there had been that sudden
lapse towards a former vicious type which sometimes happens
in a family that as a whole has bred fine men and fair women.
Douglas’ career was infamous even at school. When, page
by page, the records of his life were spelled out by his mother
even she could urge no better plea for him than that the
selfishness of her love—given to man rather than to God—had
worked the evil, marring and mutilating by its very passion.
In his mother’s heart, Douglas lived ever, an image burnt
upon her flesh, a constant retribution. She longed to pass her
days in scourges, in penance, but her religion forbade her even
to pray for her dead. In the blindness of her despair, she
invented for herself a species of soul crucifixion, laying her
sacrifices of love and pride in Richard upon God’s altar, never
seeing how, in punishing herself, she wrought infinite harm
upon an innocent child.
One morning, drawn early to the cool solitude of the river
after a sleepless night, she saw Richard bathing; a slim white
figure without an ounce of superfluous flesh on its bones, but
with every muscle developed, and skin like satin shining white
against the deep banks of copper bracken and undergrowth; a
picture framed by pines, through which the light of an autumn
dawn came slow and chill. Hidden from him, she watched,
with look wide and tender, with eyes as moist as the limbs
from which he shook the water of the pool, as he stood strong
and upright, breathing quickly after his swim. Bone of her
bone, flesh of her flesh, she had given to the world a male
being in which any human mother must take pride. . . His
sudden gesture, the impatient pushing of his wet hair from his
forehead, recalled her to herself with a sudden pang of bitter
self-distrust, and she fled to the house as though the Spirit of
Evil were pursuing her, trembling and ashamed.
It was after this that she instituted a new and more
terrible rule of discipline, both for herself and for the boy.
Richard came to her daily, as before, but now the conventional
kiss was denied him, and a three hours study of the most
complicated points of Presbyterian doctrine took its place. The
fate of sinners was the prevailing theme, the penalty of sins of
whose very existence he was unaware. In the narrow hot
room he stood rebellious, till sometimes his senses swayed.
Outside the bees hummed and the birds sang, and the world
he loved stretched in its infinite fairness—God’s world that
had hitherto raised his thoughts to its Maker. But now—this
God of punishment, this God of the Old Law Who raised His
Hand so often but to smite—he felt something almost approach-
ing hatred of the Book from whose pages he was allowed to
read nothing but words of denunciation and judgment.
Night after night, prone upon the bare floor of her bed-
room, Mrs. Farquharson would kneel, praying with tears of
abject contrition that her boy might be kept pure. And night
after night, far away in his separate wing, Richard would
await the stroke of midnight to run to a tryst which alone
kept alive in him a germ of that natural feeling which his
mother had crushed as utterly in him as she had sought to
crush it in herself.
Eight—nine—ten—eleven—Midnight at last!
Richard, with a start, shook himself free from his dreams
and woke to full and immediate consciousness of his surround-
ings. Much thinking, much loneliness, had made him older
than his years. To-night, on the eve of his twelfth birthday,
he felt that it was time to put away childish things. Amongst
those childish things he numbered the habit of years—his
nightly tryst with a portrait in the Picture Gallery which he
had adopted as his “own” at six years old.
One has one’s favourites, even amongst ancestors. It was
a certain Margaret Cunningham, daughter of that Earl of Glen-
cairn who, being of the Privy Council of James V., was taken
prisoner by the English in the year 1542 at the Battle of Solway,
who had won Richard’s heart. Marrying a Farquharson, she
died six months later, “whereat,” said tradition, “she waxed
exceedingly joyful, since her love had been given since child-
hood to her cousin of Kilmaurs.”
True to his sex, Richard had been vanquished by the
most tender, the most loveable little face in the whole gallery.
It was to this portrait alone that he confided his dreams, his
ambitions; and it was to this one of all others that he found
it so infinitely hard to say farewell.
But say farewell he would, notwithstanding, for the
hardening process had already begun in him. In the future he
must allow nothing, certainly not things trivial as mere
womens’ portraits, to influence him. He had learned the
secrets of this life’s success. A poor man must fight alone.
Unhampered by ties of affection, alone can we hope to win the
key of that secret cupboard in which the world hides her few
Past the King’s Chamber, down the long corridor, beyond
a row of rigid figures in armour, Richard sped, and at his
accustomed place at the turn of the gallery his collie met him.
Sometimes the boy might break faith; the dog, never.
Richard pushed the door of the picture gallery wide, and
stood on the threshold for a moment, a changed expression on
his fresh sunny face. The older faces seemed to turn to him,
expectant. Through the stained glass windows with their
emblazoned coats of arms, a steady stream of moonlight
flowed triumphantly, taking the colour of the glass it came
through—now rose, and now a pallid green. Not less stead-
fast the light in the painted eyes of some of the men he looked
upon; martyrs in their way—men who had fought and died
for a Cause—whose purposes, nor tears, nor smiles, nor force
He knew their histories, their records, man for man,
woman for woman. Before some he paused longer than
before others; had the veil between the world invisible and
this been rent, and the familiar shades taken fleshly form and
called to him, he would have had no fear. They were his
friends and comrades; he passed before them as before a
tribunal, with head erect.
The gallery was said to be haunted—who cared! In the
past, Richard himself had “made believe” that some day they
should meet so earnestly, that more than once he had almost
fancied that he heard the rustle of a silken skirt, or saw the
flash of some dead soldier’s dirk. . . . But usually, at the
critical moment, a cold draught from an opening door would
blow upon him suddenly bleak, like the wind in the heather on
the moor , the door would open, and his frightened nurse
would bring a light, and lock him in his room again, with a
severe scolding, and the dream—like many another later dream
Perhaps that is what dreams are made for, Dan,” he
said once to his collie , and Dan looked up with the pathetic
eyes of a dog who knows more than his master.
With his hands clenched very firmly and an uncomfort-
able tightening of his throat, Richard looked at the portrait of
his ancestress to-night, and thought again, as he had often
thought before, that it was strange God did not make mothers
in a mould like this. Unconsciously in that moment he com-
mitted every line of the portrait to memory, never to be erased
—the oval face, the soft hair, a dark curtain, banded over the
low white forehead; the grave eyes that followed him every-
where, and that had been painted with a hint of tears, a
favourite trick in a certain school of art: the turn of the erect
head, the white neck just chewing beneath a veil of white.
The moonlight fell upon all these lovingly. One little beam
of light travelled upwards, lingering in the shadows of the
But these were childish things, the kind of things a
future empire-builder must infallibly renounce. “Good-bye,”
Richard said gravely, “Dan and I aren’t ever coming to see
you again. Not like this, I mean, not in the old way, at
least. I’m growing up, you see, and when one grows up, one
can’t go on doing these silly things.”
But he walked away from the picture very sadly all the
same, and thought that Margaret’s eyes that night were very
misty because, unconsciously, he himself saw them through a
mist of tears. . . How cold it was! He must have been
there far longer than he meant; his bare feet on the parquet
floor were cold as death, and he called to Dan, who had, con-
trary to his usual custom, scampered away from him to
snuffle anxiously at the closed door.
Outside through one light pane of glass, Richard could
see the snow thick on the white stone balustrade; how
silently and swiftly it must have fallen! When he came in
there had been only a few flakes. At that moment there was
a sound as of something falling, and Dan escaping from his
master’s hand with a whine, leapt forward again, scenting
eagerly, then scratched at the door with a long whine of
The snow fell softly; something else had fallen too.
Something that pressed against the door that Richard strove
to open, at first gently, then with a sudden dread that tore at
his heart-strings, and taxed his self-control. As it gave way
at last, it pressed the unknown obstacle back with it—the
unknown obstacle, at sight of which the boy fell on his knees
with a sharp cry. For it was a woman’s figure—his mother’s
—which lay there in the moonlight, with its thin arms stretched
out towards him, giving way too late to the longing it had
repressed for years.
Face to face with death for the second time, Richard found
himself more wondering than pitiful, more perplexed than sad.
How swiftly God’s arrows struck—how unerringly! The
terrified staring eyes seemed to challenge his with a question
which death had failed to an swer, a question which would
now be answered only on the Hither Shore. . . . .
He tried to close the staring eyes and failed; tried once again,
but failed, and then rose, shuddering. His cry had awakened
his old nurse, who came to him feebly, candle in hand, with
Dan sniffing at her ankles. At sight of his master the dog
ran forward, and then, aware of mourning, crouched quietly on
the floor beside the dead. And Richard looking down upon
his mother, and hearing nurse Ailsa’s lamentation come to
him as if from far away, recognised that this was indeed “the
end,” that he had “put away” “childish things” once and
Where Jill’s cat came from I have no idea; she just came.
I first set eyes on her when one night, returning from dinner,
I found her coiled up in an arm-chair in the drawing-room
very fast asleep. So with a certain amount of mild, though I
think, justifiable indignation, I thereupon opened the door
of the room and the door into the garden, and advanced upon
her clapping my hands and emitting loud and terrible noises
in order to drive her out. But she merely stretched one paw
with extreme laziness, looked at me with half a yellow eye, as
if to say: “That noise is in deplorably bad taste, but I
suppose you don’t know any better,” and went to sleep again.
This would not do at all, and though I was sorry to have
to do it, thus violating the ancient and sacred rights of sanctuary,
still it was impossible for me to give a home to any cat who
might happen to come along. So I took her up with both
hands, as M. Pierre Loti so justly advises, intending to put
her bodily out into the garden and shut the door. But the
moment I touched her she set up a loud tea-kettle purr, and
still more than half asleep, licked with a rough pink tongue
the hand that was near her head.
Now of all the curious qualities which cats possess, that
of confidence in strangers is one of the rarest, and to the
stranger who knows anything about them, certainly the most
disarming. Most cats would have scurried angrily from the
room at the rude noises I had made, and woke up all green
distrustfulness on being touched. Not so Jill’s cat; she just
said: “Are you still there? How nice! Let’s go to sleep
again at once.” So I told myself (without really believing it),
that I would definitely drive her away in the morning, and
left her in possession of her chair. But all my instincts told
me that she had come to stay, and I know that if a cat really
makes up its mind to do anything, that thing, unless you kill
it, it will do.
Now most cats are absolutely without tact; they are
obstinate, easily bored (shewing their boredom in a manner
which it is impossible to mistake), and have the rooted con-
viction that the whole round world exists in order to amuse
and interest them. But Jill’s cat, so I firmly believe, had the tact
of all the other cats ever created, which accounts for their
having none. For when the housemaid came into the room
next morning to dust, Jill’s cat greeted her at once as an old
and valued friend, and went to meet her with little cries of
welcome, making a poker of her tail. The housemaid in con-
sequence, thawed by these well-bred manners, took her down
into the kitchen to give her a saucer of milk before ejecting
her. Jill’s cat was hungry, and with the dainty eagerness of
her race began to lick up her breakfast. But half-way through
she suddenly froze into stone, but for the end of a twitching
tail, and regarded with the eye of a Huntress the wainscoting
opposite. Next moment a mouse was pinned by those velvet
paws, and in less than another moment their was no mouse
at all. The tail she did not care about, and deposited it, as a
small token of homage and affection, at the feet of the cook.
Then, this piece of diplomacy successfully carried through,
she finished her milk, the walls of Jericho, so to speak,
tottering to their fall at her assault.
But had Jill’s cat known, there was a far more critical
and hazardous passage still before her, for the house was
ruled not by me, nor by the housemaid, nor even by the cook,
that dispenser of succulence and joy, but by Jill, and Jill being
young was capricious, and being far more highly born than
any of us, was proud. Being also a fox-terrier she liked
biting. She had slept as usual that night on various parts of
my bed and me, and came down with me in the morning. I
had forgotten for the moment all about the cat, and entered
the dining-room for breakfast with Jill circling round me and
making short runs at my boots, which she had lately taken
into her head were enemies of some kind and dangerous to
hearth and home.
There on the hearth-rug, neatly arranged round one hind-
leg which stuck up in the middle of her like a flagstaff, sat the
cat, diligently employed on affairs of the toilet. The scurry of
our entrance disturbed her ablutions, and looking round with
a calm and trustful eye she saw Jill. Probably Jill had never
seen a cat before, and I had one moment of horrified suspense
as to whether the cat would go for Jill, or Jill for the cat. In
any case the flying of fur or hair seemed imminent and inevit-
able. But Jill’s cat was equal, more than equal to the occa-
sion, and never have I seen “the right thing” so quickly
conceived, or so instantaneously performed. With one stealthy
movement she was underneath a corner of the tablecloth,
which hung down to the ground, and a paw was put gingerly
out with little dabs and jerks to entice Jill to begin to play at
once. Now how should that cat have known that a hand con-
cealed under a rug or the corner of a curtain, and making
known its presence by concealed movements, was a thing
irresistable to Jill ? But she did know it, and before I could
snatch Jill up to avert the impending catastrophe, no cat-
astrophe impended any longer, and the two were engaged in a
gorgeous game of hide-and-seek behind curtains, table legs,
fenders, the Daily Telegraph and chairs, wherever in fact there
was a possibility of making mysterious and secret stirrings.
So destiny shapes our ends; from that moment the stranger of
the night before had entered on a new existence, and became
In a manner of speaking, she had also become Jill’s
ness, for Jill being young was flirtatiously inclined, and through
the railings of the front garden, which gave on to the road,
behaved in a very vulgar barmaid sort of fashion, and “drew
in” (I am sorry to use such an expression, but I know of none
other that fits the case) the young gentleman of the neighbour-
hood. The railings were too narrow to admit of Jill’s squeezing
her plump little body through (she tried once and stuck, and
roused the entire parish by the shrillness of her lamentations)
and she had to content herself with putting her head through,
and kissing practically any gentleman who came to present
himself. But Jill’s cat—a model of respectability—instantly
stopped these very unladylike proceedings, for whenever she
observed Jill trotting off with a particularly demure air to talk
to her friends, she would follow, and from the vantage-ground
of the gate-post turn herself into a perfect fury of vindictive
rage, and by her spitting and swearing, distract the gentlemen
from their love giving them war instead. Our particular
terrier, who was a common loafer at Jill’s bar was the object
of her special aversions, and the language she thought fit to
employ to him was really responsible, I fancy, for the blister-
ing of the paint on the gate.
Jill’s cat had a perfect mania for work, and her work
sisted in catching anything that was alive. Within three days
of her arrival I am convinced there was no mouse left in the
house, and having cleared the place of them she turned her
attention to birds, butterflies, and snails. The work among
the birds I regretted, but it was quite impossible to stop it,
since it seemed engrained in her nature that no living thing
except ourselves had any right to enter the house or garden.
It took her some time to discover that snails were alive, but
that fact once clearly grasped, they took their place among the
trophies of the chase, which were duly presented on the return
of the huntress to Jill, the cook, or me. This generosity had
its drawbacks, for Jill was like other children very fond of
“collections,” and was in the habit of concealing small objects
of various kinds in the folds of the blanket in her basket.
Thus one day I found there two dead and unfledged birds, a
snail, and portion of what had once been a white butterfly.
Her work, together with various sudden excursions to
the garden-railing to swear at the dogs of the neighbourhood,
used to take Jill’s cat’s morning; that over, she cleaned her-
self, for it was clearly a waste of time to do so until the
house-work was done, and played with Jill till dinner. Then
came the desolating moment of the day, for Jill went for her
walk, and her cat sat disconsolately at the window waiting
for her return. The moment she entered the gate she
rushed to meet her, and indulged in extravagant displays of
affection. Evening came, and they slept together in Jill’s
basket, after a wild romp in which they kicked each other in
the face, by way of showing their deep and unalterable regard.
A year passed thus, and then occurred an event which for
the time completely puzzled Jill’s cat, for Jill became the mother
of four puppies, and in a moment turned from being a rather
flighty young woman into a perfect demon of rage and sus-
picion if anyone approached them. Even when she was given
her food it had to be placed at some distance from her box,
where she lay with chattering snarling mouth, ready to defend
her own against any who came near. But Jill’s cat did not
know this, and coming into the outhouse where Jill lay, after
her work was done on the morning the puppies were born,
ready to play, she had to fly for her life, and seek refuge on
the top of the garden wall, where she crouched, trembling with
fright and indignation, and deeply hurt at this outrageous
reception. Never had such a thing occurred; it was a bolt
from the blue; the bottom had fallen out of her universe, and
she lifted up her voice and howled for the anguish of her heart.
And Jill quivering with rage snarled at her from below.
For the time Jill’s whole nature was changed; there were,
no more excursions to the garden-gate to kiss indiscriminate
gentlemen, she had neither time nor inclination to play with
her cat, and she was convinced that the world was banded
together to work the destruction of her puppies. But this
fierce access of protective maternity on her part lasted not
more than a few days, and one afternoon she left the hay-
packed box where the puppies lay, and trotted across the
lawn to where I sat at some little distance off with her cat.
The latter remembering Jill’s unprovoked assault sprang up
the trunk of a tree as she approached, and glared distrustfully
through the leaves, while Jill whined and whimpered below,
and put herself into engaging postures of play on the grass.
Then step by step still cautiously her cat descended to the
lowest branch of the tree, and after a long pause there forgot
and forgave, and took a flying leap at her friend. Next moment
they were kicking each other in the face in the old manner, and
flying in agitated excursions through the flower-beds.
But soon Jill’s maternal heart yearned again for the
muzzling noses, and she ran back to the wood-shed. Then
ensued a thrilling piece of animal psychology. Very slowly
the cat followed, and at length peeped cautiously in. From
inside there was dead silence; Jill was evidently pondering
whether her friend could be trusted, then after a pause I heard
a little friendly note of welcome and her cat entered. So I
followed and looked in. Jill was lying inside her box, the four
puppies cuddled up against her, and her cat was sitting by it
looking with wide and wondering eyes at the phenomenon.
Then she raised one paw gently and delicately, and with it
just touched the puppies. Then advancing another step, she
licked them very gently with the top of a pink tongue. And
Jill said “Wooff: wasn’t it clever of me to have got them?”
And we were all very happy that marriage after all had not
caused any separation between old friends.
So the mysterious bond of sympathy and affection
between the two, only deepened instead of being broken, and
Jill’s cat became a sort of aunt to the puppies. True, there
was one moment of unfounded suspicion on Jill’s part when
two out of the four puppies unaccountably vanished, and she
was inclined to set it down to her cat, but this past, she wel-
comed her friend as joint educator of the young, and even
allowed the best-beloved to go staggering excursions, first
about the wood-shed and later over the whole romantic play-
ground of the garden, under the protection of his aunt. By
degrees, too, the fascination of biting and kicking one’s aunt
in the face became apparent, and I have often seen the whole
four of them mingled in one inextricable and struggling mass
of paws and open mouths.
The road just outside the gate was a long straight level,
much haunted by motor-cars. It was here that the end came to
that strange animal friendship, for one day Jill was run over and
killed just outside the house. The small slain body was brought
in, and while the grave was being dug in the garden, Jill lay on
the grass, quite still. And as she lay there, her cat came out
of the house and went up to her, her work being over, and she
therefore disengaged and desirous of relaxation. But Jill did not
seem inclined to play, and her cat strolled off again. Then
she returned and sat down by her looking at her, and again
tried to attract her attention, touched her on the nose with her
paw, and made a feint of running away. Then as this did not
answer she stole off into the bushes and came back carrying
a snail in her mouth, which she laid by her, giving a little cry
of appeal. But the grave was ready by now, and they took
Jill up and laid her in it and filled in the earth.
That night I was strolling about the garden and saw
something white under the tree where Jill had been buried. It
was Jill’s cat sitting on the grave.
E. F. BENSON.
1. THE MERCHANT AND THE ROBBER.
A merchant, having charge of a very valuable jewel, was
travelling for safety in the garb of a beggar, when he was set
upon by three robbers who demanded of him the stone.
Perceiving that his assailants were aware of his secret, he
said to them “Why should three of you wish to be hanged
for a robbery that a single one of you could accomplish; or
why should three of you come to take that which can only
make one of you happy?”
They answered him “We are not going to be hanged:
we shall sell the jewel and divide the proceeds equally between
“You seem to be very honest fellows,” said the merch-
ant, “but you are none the less fools! This jewel belongs to
my master, the Emperor; and assuredly I shall inform him of
how you have robbed me.”
“You will not!” they replied, “for before we part you
will be dead.”
“Whether I am to die or not will be presently revealed,”
answered the merchant, “for that is in the hands of Allah:
but it grieves me that all three of you should seek to stain
your souls with the crime of killing me. Therefore I will
give up this jewel to that one of you alone who will refrain
from adding my murder to the list of his iniquities.”
As he said this, the merchant perceived the gentlest of the
robbers twitching an open palm towards him. Throwing to
him the jewel, he said: “Take it and run, and may Allah
reward you for your mercy!”
The robber having the jewel in possession fled, pursued
by the other two, who presently came up with him. The con-
flict which ensued was watched by the merchant with interest.
Many hard blows were exchanged ere the gentle robber came
off exhausted but victorious leaving the other two dead upon
Then the merchant advanced towards him with a bold
front and demanded the restoration of the jewel. The gentle
robber, seeing himself now weakened by wounds, and the
merchant strong, made no difficulty about returning the
“Your shameless greed has saved my life,” said the
merchant, “but it is not well in the eyes of Allah that you
should go unpunished.” Having said so, he bound his pre-
server to a tree and bastinadoed him unsparingly. “One
feels no gratitude,” he added, “to those who benefit us by the
exercise of ill-gotten power.”
“I should think,” wept the gentle robber as the merchant
was departing, “that you must be an Emperor yourself to
play such a high and mighty mean trick on one whom you
yourself led into temptation!”
2. THE KING AND THE PHILOSOPHER.
A certain King happening to be bound on a private adven-
ture which required not only secresy and discretion, but two
persons to handle it with ease and comfort, took with him a
learned slave, in whose fidelity and sagacity he had the utmost
confidence. The King having instructed his companion as
to the affair in hand, the philosophic one perceived that his
presence and assistance were absolutely necessary for
the King’s comfort and safety.
Therefore, as they were crossing by a narrow footbridge a
torrent, considerably swollen by rains, the slave folded his
arms, committed himself to the favour of God, and projected
v himself into the flood below.
The King perceiving his slave about to be snatched from
him at a time highly inconvenient for his own person, and
learning by hasty enquiry that the Philosopher had only a
book-knowledge of swimming, plunged selfishly to the rescue.
To his surprise he found that all the rudiments of swimming
which the Philosopher possessed, were being employed by him
to escape the life-saving clutches which his master was direct-
ing towards him. As often as the monarch caught hold of a
garment, the Philosopher quitted it with the agility of an
acrobat. “Your majesty,” said he, “may succeed in undress-
ing me, but you shall not succeed in saving me!”
How is this?” asked the King, “have you no gratitude
for the efforts I am making on your behalf?”
“I am your majesty’s property” said the Philosopher, “and
the efforts you make interest me, but do not excite my gratitude.
Yet I am flattered to see the value you put upon the head of
one so unworthy.” “What” cried the King, “is the object
you have behind your present evasion of my wishes?”
I am determined,” answered the other, “that death is
ferable to slavery, even to the kindest of masters; and I will
only give myself up into your majesty’s hands on condition
that you restore to me my liberty.”
The King, having no other course open, consented to the
Philosopher’s terms, and ratified the same with an oath. The
Philosopher then committed himself to the King’s arms, and
they presently came to land in safety at a point some five
miles further down the stream, than that at which the con-
troversy between them had begun.
Without any further dispute they continued their adventure
together, in the course of which the Philosopher proved him-
self many times essential to the King’s comfort and safety.
On their return to the capital the King caused a document
to be drawn up restoring to the Philosopher his liberty. But
the next day, the monarch, who had caught a violent cold
from his long immersion in the water, gave orders for the
head of his new freeman to be cut off. By which it may be
seen that with kings an oath is an instrument which may
easily lose its point, whereas freedom is a weapon which
kings also can handle, cutting both ways.
3. THE POET AND HIS MISTRESS.
In hell, amongst all the company of gallants and gay ladies
there tossing and turning to get rid of the torment of their
hot bodies, one woman sat alone and smiled. She bore herself
with the air of a listener, lifting her head now and then as
though some voice from above attracted her.
“Who is yonder woman?” enquired a new-comer, dazzled
by her exceeding beauty, “the one with smooth ivory limbs and
red hair falling through her arms and on to her lap? She is the
only soul here whose eyes are ever looking aloft; what
skeleton does she keep in the cupboard of God up yonder?”
“They say,” one made haste to answer, “that she was a
great singer in her day, with a voice like a falling star in a clear
sky; and that when she came here to meet her doom, God
took her voice from her and cast it to the eternal echoes of the
spheres, finding it too beautiful a thing to let die. So now
she hears it with recognition, and shares still the pleasure that
God takes in it. Do not speak to her, for she believes that
she is in Heaven.”
“No, that is not her story,” said another.
“It is this: On earth a poet made his song of her, so that
her name became eternally wedded to his verse, which still
rings on the lips of men. Now she lifts her head and hears
his praise of her eternally going on wherever language is
“Did she love him well?”
“So little that here and now she passes him daily, and
does not recognise his face!”
The other laughed and answered: “It is he who just now
told you that tale concerning her voice, continuing here the
lies which he used to make about her when they two were
4. THE KING AND HIS WORD.
A certain King became greatly enamoured of a lady whose
beauty was such that it dazzled all beholders. Therefore he
desired to make her his wife.
She, however, would have none of him. “I know too
well,” said she, “what fate awaits all beautiful women who
marry kings; for a while they are loved with trust, then they
are loved with jealousy; then, for no cause at all, their
beautiful heads are taken off them and piled on a dish before
the King to be regarded merely as the fruits of experience.”
The King was ready to protest all faith in her, but she
stopped his lips. “Nay,” said she, “unless you swear to me by
Heaven and by Hell, by your honour among men, and your
soul’s safety hereafter, also by the tombs of your ancestors,
that you will do me no hurt except you yourself discover me
in an act of unfaithfulness towards you, I will not accept the
peril of this honour which you thrust on me.”
So the King swore by Heaven and by Hell, by his honour
and by his soul, and by the tombs of his ancestors, giving her
the oath in writing sealed with the royal signet. And she, for
her part gave him her promise that she would be faithful to
him while life lasted.
So they were married, and in no long time the King began
to be devoured by the pangs of jealousy, eating daily the bread
of doubt, and drinking the waters of suspicion. Never dared
he let himself go from her side, save it were when he went
yearly to worship and fast at the tombs of his ancestors, to
which no woman, not the Queen herself, might go.
In vain did he surround her with guards, and set spies of
his most trusted servants to bring him word of her doings, no
slur or stain could any of them cast on the Queen’s honour;
and all the more did the absence of rumour inflame his jealousy.
He believed that her beauty had beguiled all men into her
service against him; nay, at last he suspected that every man
who failed to bring word crediting her with dishonour must
be himself a partner in the offence; so there were many
executions done in those days in solemn sacrifice to the
Forty-nine times he bore to the verge of madness the
weight of jealousy that came at each time of ceremonial
absence; for the passing of years made no diminution in the
On the fiftieth anniversary, when the days of sacred fast-
ing and seclusion called for him, beseeching forgiveness of
Heaven, he turned back secretly from the tombs of his ancestors,
nor stayed the set time; for now his will mounted to madness
that he would have proof for his jealousy and release from his
royal oath which made him refrain from the word for her
death. Therefore, with great subtlety, the King put on the
disguise of a merchant, staining his face and hands, and letting
no mark on his person show by which he might be known.
Then he took with him jewels of great price, and coming to
the palace caused himself to be led into the presence of the
She, seeing such wonders, was willing to give all the
wealth she had to get possession of them. But the King had
left her with a small purse, and the price he now asked was
fabulous. When she informed him that this was beyond her,
he answered softly, “There is another price, 0 fairest of all
fair women, that can only be asked in secret.”
Then she put all forth from her and said, “Thou would’st
come into my chamber to ask me that?” “Even so,” said he.
And she answered, “Give me the jewels: whatever it is I
grant it before the asking.” Then she retired from him for
a while, but afterwards returned, and she led him in; and they
were together, and all doors closed.
About midnight she said to him, “My lord,
times thou hast returned to me in disguise; yet is it only at this
fiftieth time that I have discovered thee!”
Then the King rose, and drawing forth his sword, cried,
“Now out of thine own mouth hast thou released me, and
given me back my royal word, to do to thee as thou deservest.”
And so saying he struck off her head.
On the morrow when the King sat in state, and the
Queen’s death was noised in whispers through the palace,
there came to him a slave that had been in the Queen’s service,
bearing a small coffer and weeping. “Oh, my lord,” said the
slave, “yesterday while you were yet absent, the Queen gave
me this, and bade me lay it before the King’s feet on his
return, telling him how great was her sorrow that she had not
herself power now to be its bearer.”
Wondering, the King took the casket. In it lay his own
written word sealed and signed, and beside it another scroll,
which, opening, he read: “0 Lord, to kill and to make alive,
when thou receivest this thou art without honour on earth
and without soul in Heaven, for I shall be dead by thy hand,
not having been found by thee in any act of unfaithfulness
soever. For neither in body or in spirit was there deceit in me,
seeing that I beheld thee through thy disguise. As for that
which I told thee, truly thou hast returned to me forty-nine
times disguised as a King; only this fiftieth time have I known
thee certainly for the dust thou art. And since my beauty,
through thy jealousy brought death to many, it is better that
I only should die, who have become over-weary of my bond-
age to such an one as thee. So now I beg thee, who art without
honour or soul, for the little time that is left thee, have pity
upon others whose life thou would’st cut in half.”
The King read: and straightway he ordered to be struck
off, the head of the slave who had brought him the Queen’s
message; for though by his oath he had neither honour nor
soul left, he remembered that he was still a King.
5. THE ROSE AND THE THORN.
A certain Commander of the Faithful, had as the
Favourite of his harem, a lady more beautiful than all the
stars and their moons about them,—but with a shrew’s tongue.
The pathway to her favour lay through torrents of abuse,
which cast him without dignity and crownless before her im-
perious feet. But, none the less, love of her mastered him so
greatly that he looked on no other woman with any concern.
After many sleepless nights and days without rest, he
hardly knew whether he were the most cursed or the most
blessed of mortals for truly his vigils gave him the continual
consciousness of her charms, though all the while her mouth
was like the crater of a volcano in eruption pouring out lava
of vituperation upon his head.
One day his chief chamberlain, beholding him nursing a
sick headache, said, “Why, 0 shadow of God, dost thou con-
tinue to endure this evil, seeing that He hath made thee the
master of all things? If the Light of the harem were tongueless,
she were perfect. Therefore give orders, 0 Commander of
the Faithful, and it shall be seen to!”
So presently the counsel of the chief chamberlain took
effect, and the Favourite’s mouth became as a dove’s for
quietness. But now the Sultan found that his love for her
was altogether flown; her beauty seemed to him flavourless
and insipid; and all desire for her favours grew drowsy for
lack of the naggings wherewith she had been wont so con-
stantly to assail him.
Then he saw that her way with him had been one of pure
reason and beneficence. Seeing that Kings, having through
their high estate to be left uncorrected in other matters, have
need to be corrected to their appetites, by goadings and thwart-
ings which are not necessary for the less spoiled children of
And because of his deep grief, the Sultan sacked the chief
chamberlain, and sought through all his dominions till he
found another woman less fair, but gifted in like measure
with a shrewishness of tongue to take the place of his lost
6. THE MAN WHO SOLD HIS SOUL.
A certain traveller, passing through the slums of a great
city, came there upon a man whose countenance indicated a
grief which he could not fathom. The traveller, being a
curious student of the human heart, stopped him and said:
“Sir, what is this grief which you carry before the eyes of all
men, so grievous that it cannot be hidden, yet so deep that it
cannot be read?
The man answered: “It is not I who grieve so greatly, it
is my soul, of which I cannot rid me. And my soul is more
sorrowful than death, for it hates me, and I hiate it.”
The traveller said “If you will sell your soul to me you
can be well rid of it.” The other answered: “Sir, how can I
sell you my soul?” “Surely,” replied the traveller, “you
have but to agree to sell me your soul at its full price, then,
when I bid it, it comes to me. But every soul has its true
price; and only at that, neither at more nor at less, can it be
Then said the other: “At what price shall I sell you this
horrible thing, my soul?”
The traveller answered: “When a man first sells his own
soul he is like that other betrayer; therefore its price should
be thirty pieces of silver. But after that, if it passes to other
hands, its value becomes small for to others the souls of their
fellow-men are worth very little.”
So for thirty pieces of silver the man sold his soul, and
the traveller took it and departed.
Presently the man, having no soul, found that he could
do no sin. Though he stretched out his arms to sin, sin
would not come to him. “You have no soul,” said sin, and
passed him by. “Wherefore should I come to you? I have
no profit in a man that has no soul?”
Then the man without a soul became very miserable, for
though his hands touched what was foul they remained clean,
and though his heart longed for wickedness it remained pure;
and when he thirsted to dip his lips in fire they remained cool.
Therefore a longing to recover his soul took hold of him,
and he went through the world searching for the traveller to
whom he had sold it, that he might buy it back and again taste
sin in his own body.
After a long time the traveller met him, but hearing his
request he laughed and said: “After a while your soul wearied
me, and I sold it to a Jew for a smaller sum than I paid for it.”
“Ah!” cried the man, “if you had come to me I would
have paid more.” The traveller answered: “You could not
have done that; a soul cannot be bought or sold but at its
just price. Your soul came to be of small value in my keep-
ing, so to be rid of it I sold it to the first comer for considerably
less money than I paid in the beginning.”
So parting from him the man continued his quest, wander-
ing over the face of the earth and seeking to recover his lost
soul. And one day as he sat in the bazaar of a certain town
a woman passed him, and looking at him said: “Sir, why
are you so sad? It seems to me there can be no reason for
such sadness.” The man answered: “I am sad because I
have no soul, and am seeking to find it.”
The other said: “Only the other night I bought a soul
that had passed through so many hands that it had become
dirt-cheap; but it is so poor a thing I would gladly be rid of it.
Yet I bought it for a mere song; and a soul can only be sold
at its just price; how, then, shall I be able to sell it again—for
what is worth less than a song? And it was but a light song
that I sang over the wine-cup to the man who sold it me.”
When the other heard that he cried: “It is my own soul!
Sell it to me, and I will give you all that I possess!
The woman said: “Alas, I did but pay for it with a song,
and I can but sell it again at its just price. How then can I be
rid of it, though it cries and laments to be set free?”
The man without a soul laid his head to the womans’
breast, and heard within it the captive soul whimpering to be
set free, to return to the body it had lost. “Surely,” he said,
“it is my own soul! “If you will sell it to me I will give you
my body, which is worth less than a song from your lips.”
So, for his body, the other sold to him the soul that
whimpered to be set free to return to its own place. But so
soon as he received it he rose up aghast: “What have you
done?” he cried, “and what is this foul thing that has posses-
sion of me? For this soul that you have given me is not my
“The woman laughed and said: “Before you sold your
soul into captivity it was a free soul in a free body; can you
not recognise it now it comes to you from the traffic of the
slave-market? So, then, your soul has the greater charity,
since it recognises and returns to you, though you have sold
your body miserably into bondage!”
And thus it was that the man had to buy back at the cost
of his body the soul which he let go for thirty pieces of silver.
7. FATHER AND SON.
There was once a young man of left-handed parentage,
who, from his birth had been seized with an unnatural desire
to redress in the punishment of his father the wrong done to
his mother. She indeed had been the victim of a betrayal
cruel enough to arouse more than ordinary resentment. But
she was of a mild and forgiving disposition, and the only act
of self-assertion she allowed herself, was to die in giving her
With just so much assistance from her as that, the son
started on life equipped with all the passionate and unforgiving
qualities of his other parent.
From the days when he could first toddle, his aim was to
wreak vengeance on the man whose cruelty and neglect had
made him at once a bastard and an orphan.
So soon as he was grown up to independence, his years
of indiscretion began, and he started nosing among the garbage
of humanity for a clue to his father’s whereabouts.
Presently getting wind of him, the son almost had him in
hand had not his parent, pricked by a guilty conscience, got
himself hurriedly to a place of concealment and safety.
Again pursued, he took flight into the next hemisphere.
The world watching beheld a breathless hide-and-seek going
on between the pair, so that after a few years the weary life
his son caused him to lead, forced the father into a certain
measure of repentance which would not otherwise have
occurred to him. Thus it came about that finally he died in
something like the odour of sanctity, respectably attended by
priest and doctor.
His son arrived only in time to curse the doctor for
having precipitated a catastrophe which a lifetime of wrathful
sun-settings had taught him to regard as his own perquisite.
He returned home sadly and hanged himself to his mother’s
grave-stone, trusting to be permitted in the next world to carry
out the interrupted project of vengeance which was now his
In hell he was greatly delighted to find that the law still
permitted and encouraged the pursuit of vengeance; and for a
good while he found some enjoyment running about in search
of the man he wished to devour.
After weeks of a species of fiery slumming in the lowest
quarter of the infernal regions, he received from the Devil a
kindly word of enlightenment. “My poor child,” said he “do
you not know that, thanks to you, your father made a penitent
ending, and in consequence is receiving his reward in a better
place than this?”
For the first time the revengeful soul thirsted with despair,
perceiving the gulf fixed. “Now I know that I am in hell,”
said he with conviction, “since I cannot give that man of sin
the dubbing he deserves.”
Casting about in his mind—”And my mother?” he added
“Poor, forgiving little thing!” said the Devil
sionately, “I have not the heart to grudge her her present
happiness. While you were on earth threatening perdition to
the man she loved, she had a devil of a time of it, but your
arrival here transported her to the seventh heaven.”
8. THE PRINCE AND HIS TWO MISTRESSES.
A certain Prince had a mistress, of whom, after many
years he began to tire, finding her exceeding faithfulness to him
grow wearisome. So beginning to neglect his former passion,
and having lighted on a new love of deeper complexion and
more to his present taste, he made a song in praise of her
“After day” he sang, “comes night, and the moon lifts
up her face; after red locks dark locks have hold on me!”
Before long his former mistress observing that his ardour
slackened, found where her felicity had flown to; and without
haste took counsel with herself how to regain the lost place
which her jealousy and devotion still coveted.
Presently on his visits to his new mistress, the Prince
began to recognise certain jewels adorning her person, which
he had bestowed in other days on the one who had then
crowned his fancy. “Whence came these?” he began enquir-
ing, after searching vainly in his own mind for a solution.
For a while his new lady-love sought to evade his
questions; but when she could no more put him off (while
she needs must flaunt the trinkets as more and more of them
came into her possession), she answered: “There is a certain
skew-eyed and faded creature, a poor broken-down old troll,
who comes and drops these on me at times. And her tale is
of the strangest , but as I profit by her madness I let it go.
And what she says to me is this: ‘One of the many who
have long wearied me with their love is now your lover; and
that is well, since it leaves me free to follow my own liking.
Therefore, I pray you bind him close to you and keep him
from troubling me further; and every time that you receive
him I, in thankfulness to be rid of him, will bring you a token
of my gratitude, which I hold well earned, since then I can be
in the arms of the lover I love truly.’ This is her story, and
truly I have reaped profit out of it, for each time you visit me
she brings me a fresh jewel. Why, then, should I laugh in the
face of the poor thing who is happy in her folly?”
But when he had considered the matter well, the Prince
left her, and went back to his former mistress.
9. TWO KINGS AND THEIR QUEENS.
Two Kings, who bore rule over adjoining territories
having come together amicably, in state and with a great
retinue, for the settlement of a disputed question of boundaries,
became greatly enamoured each of the other’s consort.
While in public they were defining one boundary amicably
from day to day, each in secret was plotting how another
boundary might be over-stepped. The Queens, finding them-
selves royally pursued, remained demure, but put their heads
together for a friendly purpose by stealth, not wishing to
disturb the political situation.
So presently, by the aid of chamberlains and ladies of
honour, all ready to take bribes at cross-purposes, the game grew
hot; virtuous protestation died on the Queens’ lips, and
the monarchs came each to the belief that he had, without
knowledge of the other, secured an assignation which would
overwhelm his infelicity.
A hunting expedition, and a certain mis-arrangement of
the pavilions destined for the separated repose of royalty, gave
the occasion and the means; the Kings beheld a way pointed
to them, more plainly than by any star in the East, for the
consummation of their desires.
What was the chagrin of the two monarchs on awaken-
ing to the light of reason after an experience which had made
each believe himself the most blest of mortals, to find that they
had fallen into a lawful embrace, and had deceived themselves
with the decorous bonds of matrimony.
The ladies themselves put a quiet countenance on the
matter, and were astonished when presently they lost their
two heads for the crime of being found in the embraces of
their own true lords, time not being given them to make the
mathematical calculation by which their judges arrived at a
conviction of their intended guiltiness.
Whether, indeed, those lords signed their death-warrants as
thieves defrauded of their booty, or as owners finding their
possession threatened, only kings themselves can decide. But
it is sometimes more dangerous to force kings into the paths
of virtue, than to attract them into the ways of vice.
MARRIAGES ARE MADE IN HEAVEN.
A Play in One Act.
SCENE: A drawing room in Mrs. Vivyan’s house.
JACK and Mrs. VIVYAN are
having tea. LOTTIE is a rather
elaborately dressed woman of eight-and twenty, handsome and self-
possessed. She has an easy manner which suggests that she has
consorted with men rather than with women. JACK RAYNER is
thirty-two; there is about him a certain weariness as if he had lived
hard and found life difficult. His face is sunburnt, somewhat lined
JACK: I say, Lottie, has it occurred to you that this is
our last day of single blessedness?
LOTTIE: Of course it has. I’ve been thinking of noth-
ing else for a week.
JACK: Are you glad?
LOTTIE: I think I’m anxious. I want to have it over
safely. I’m so afraid that something will happen.
JACK (with a laugh): What nonsense! The
help being friendly at last.
LOTTIE: I’ve gone through so much. I’ve lost all
confidence in my luck.
JACK: And you’re solemnly going to swear that you
will love, honour and obey me. By Jove, I’m a nice object to
LOTTIE: I think I can, Jack; and love and obey you
JACK: That’s very good of you, old girl. I doubt
whether either of us has many illusions; but we’ll do our best.
LOTTIE: A breath of country air and they’ll all come
JACK: I hope to goodness they don’t. Illusions are like
umbrellas, you no sooner get them than you lose them; and
the loss always leaves a little painful wound. But don’t let us
be sentimental. . . . How shall we celebrate the last of
LOTTIE: Do you want to do anything? You’re so
JACK: Shall we dine out and go to the Empire, and then
on to the Covent Garden?
LOTTIE (with sudden passion): Oh no, I
it. I’m sick of the Empire, sick to death. I want never to
go to a music-hall again. I want to live in the country, and
bathe my hands in the long grass, and gather butter-cups and
JACK (smiling): As it was in the beginning.
LOTTIE: Oh, I shall be so glad to get back to it after
these sultry years of London. I often think of myself in a
large sun-bonnet, milking the cows as I did when I was a girl.
JACK: But cows are milked by machinery now, aren’t
they? And it’s sure to rain when you want to put on your
LOTTIE: Oh, Jack dear, don’t be cynical or bitter. Let
us try to be simple. We won’t say smart things to one
another; but just dodder along stupidly and peacefully.
JACK: When I was in Africa and the sun beat down
pitilessly, I used to think of the green lanes and the silver
mists of England. . . . But don’t you think you’ll be
LOTTIE: Jack, have you no faith in me?
JACK (going to her and taking her
hands): I’ve got more
faith in you than in anyone else in this blessed world; but I’m
afraid I haven’t much in anybody. Ah, Lottie, you must
teach me to have faith—faith in my fellows.
LOTTIE: I want to teach you to have faith in yourself.
JACK: I’m afraid it’s too late for that. But for goodness
sake, don’t let us sentimentalise. It hurts too much.
(He walks away and then, regaining his composure,
JACK: Did I tell you that I’ve asked Herbert Paton to
tea, so that I might introduce him to you?
LOTTIE: It’s odd that I should never have met him.
Did you know him before you went to the Cape?
JACK: Yes, rather! We were at school together. I’m
sure you’ll like him. He’s the very worthiest chap I know.
LOTTIE: That sounds a little dull.
JACK: Oh, but we’re going to cultivate respectability
SERVANT (enters and announces): Mr. Paton.
(Herbert comes in. He is a grave, youngish man—
soberly dressed, a little heavy, and without any
great sense of humour.)
JACK (going towards him): We were just
you. Allow me to introduce you: Mr. Paton, Mrs. Vivyan.
(Herbert bows and Lottie smiles cordially,
her hand. He hesitates a moment and then takes it.)
LOTTIE (shaking hands): It’s so good of
you to come.
I was most anxious to make your acquaintance.
HERBERT (gravely): It was very kind of you to ask me.
JACK: I want you to be great friends. I always insist
that the people I like shall like one another.
LOTTIE (pouring it out): You’ll have
some tea, won’t
(She gives him a cup.)
LOTTIE: Jack has told me a great deal about you.
HERBERT: I hope nothing to my discredit.
LOTTIE: On the contrary, he’s so full of your praise
that I’m almost jealous.
JACK: You know, Lottie, I’ve asked Herbert to be best
LOTTIE: And has he accepted?
JACK: Certainly! He accepted straight off, before even
he knew your name.
LOTTIE: You’re a very confiding man, Mr. Paton. I
might have been dreadfully disreputable.
HERBERT: And have you finally decided to be married
to-morrow? Your preparations have been very rapid.
LOTTIE: There were none to make. Everything is
going to be quite private, you know. There’ll only be one
person beside yourself.
HERBERT: And aren’t you even going to have a brides-
maid, Mrs. Vivyan?
LOTTIE (looking at him quickly): Er—No!
it’s not usual.
(The Servant comes in and brings a letter to Jack.)
SERVANT: The man’s waiting for an answer, Sir.
JACK (opening the letter): Oh—I’ll just
go and write a
line, Lottie. I’ll be back in two minutes.
(The Servant goes out.)
LOTTIE: Very well! Mr. Paton and I will say unkind
things of you while you’re gone; so don’t be long.
JACK (laughing): All right!
(He goes out.)
LOTTIE (making room on the sofa upon which she
sitting): Now, come and sit by me and we’ll talk, Mr. Paton.
It was so good of you to come and see me.
HERBERT (sitting not beside her, but on a chair near
the sofa): I was most anxious to make your acquaintance.
LOTTIE: One always is curious to see what the people
are like whom one’s friends are going to marry.
HERBERT: It was not for that reason that I wished to
LOTTIE (slightly surprised): Oh!
HERBERT: I’m glad Jack has left us alone; I wanted
to have a little talk with you.
LOTTIE: I’m sure I shall be delighted.
HERBERT: You know. Jack is my best and oldest
LOTTIE: Yes, he told me so; that’s why I want you
to like me too.
HERBERT: We were at school together, and afterwards
at the ’Varsity; and then we shared diggings in London.
(He pauses for a moment.)
LOTTIE (smiling): Well?
HERBERT: I tell you all this in justification of myself.
LOTTIE: How very mysterious you are! Jack didn’t
mention that in the catalogue of your virtues.
(Herbert gets up and walks up and down.)
HERBERT: You can’t imagine how delighted I was
when Jack told me he was going to be married. He’s had
rather a rough time of late, and I thought it was the best
thing possible that he should settle down. I asked him what
on earth he was going to marry on and he said you had
twelve hundred a year.
LOTTIE (with a laugh): Fortunately!
Jack lets money slip through his fingers like water; and I’m
sure he’ll never be able to earn a cent.
HERBERT: And I asked him who you were.
LOTTIE: What did he tell you?
HERBERT: Nothing! He seemed astonishingly ignor-
ant about you. He knew your name, and that’s nearly all.
LOTTIE: He’s a wise man who asks no questions.
HERBERT: Perhaps! But I did; I made enquiries.
LOTTIE: D’you think that was very nice of you? How
did you do it? Did you employ a private detective?
HERBERT: Unfortunately there was no need for that.
The information I sought was all over London. Jack must
be the only person in town who has not heard it.
LOTTIE (laughing icily): I always look
upon myself as
safe from the scandalmongers. You see, they can never say
anything about me half so bad as the truth.
HERBERT (looking at her steadily): I
found out, Mrs.
Vivyan, how you obtained the money upon which you and
Jack are proposing to live.
LOTTIE: You must be quite a Sherlock Holmes. How
clever you are!
HERBERT: I want you to pardon me for what I am
going to do, Mrs. Vivyan?
LOTTIE (very coldly): Pray don’t apologise?
HERBERT: I know its a beastly thing, it makes me feel
an utter cad; but I must do it for Jack’s sake. It’s my duty
LOTTIE: Doubtless it is very praiseworthy to do one’s
duty. I notice people are always more inclined to do it when
they will inflict pain upon others.
HERBERT: For God’s sake don’t sneer Mrs. Vivyan.
LOTTIE (bursting out violently): You do
thing, and you expect me to pat you on the back.
HERBERT: I don’t want to hurt you. I haven’t the
least animosity towards you. That’s why I came here to-day.
LOTTIE: But really I don’t understand you.
HERBERT: I should have thought it plain enough.
Isn’t it clear that Jack can’t marry you?
LOTTIE (with scornful surprise): Good
HERBERT: Do you wish me to tell you to your face
what I learnt about you?
LOTTIE: In the course of your—discreditable enquiries?
Well, what is it?
HERBERT: I wished to spare you this.
LOTTIE (scornfully): Oh no, I’m sure
you wished to
spare me nothing. Far be it from the virtuous to refrain from
trampling on the wicked.
HERBERT: If you insist then, I know that this money
was settled on you by Lord Feaverham when he married.
HERBERT: Do you deny it?
LOTTIE: Why should I when you probably have proof
that it is true?
HERBERT: I also know that Lord Feaverham had good
reason to do this. . . . Oh, you hate me and think me
a cad and brute; but what can I do? If you knew what agony
it has caused me? I believe Jack loves you, and I daresay you
love him. For all I know he may hate me for what I’m doing
now. I wish with all my heart there were some other way
out of it.
LOTTIE: Do you wish me to sympathise with you?
HERBERT: Oh, you’re stone-cold. I only come to you
because I want to be your friend. And even if you’d married
Jack he must have found out sooner or later, and then it would
have been a thousand times worse.
LOTTIE (angrily): What d’you want me to do?
HERBERT: Break off the marriage of your own accord.
Don’t let him know the reason. Let us try to save him from
the humiliation and the pain. Write to him and say you don’t
love him enough. It’s so easy.
LOTTIE: But I haven’t the faintest wish to break off
my marriage with Jack.
HERBERT: It’s not a matter of wish; it’s a matter of
necessity. The marriage is utterly impossible—for his sake,
for the sake of his people. It means absolute social ruin to him.
LOTTIE: What you say sounds to me excessively
impertinent, Mr. Paton.
HERBERT: I’m sorry, I have no wish to be so.
LOTTIE: And you want me to go to Jack and say I
won’t marry him?
HERBERT: It’s the only thing you can do. Otherwise
he must find out. It’s the only thing you can do if you want
to save your honour in his estimation.
LOTTIE (scornfully): I should be as it
but not disgraced.
HERBERT: It’s for your own sake.
LOTTIE: Then let me tell you that I haven’t the least
intention of giving Jack up.
HERBERT: But you must.
HERBERT (violently): He can’t marry
you. It would
LOTTIE: How dare you say such things to me! You
come to my house and I try to be friends with you, and you
insult me. You dishonour yourself.
HERBERT: I came here to give you a chance of retire
ing from the engagement without the real reasons being known.
LOTTIE (passionately): What business is
it of yours?
Why yo you come here and interfere with us? D’you think
we’re fools and simpletons? Why don’t you leave us alone?
Who are you that you should preach and moralise? You’re
ridiculous, you’re simply absurd.
HERBERT: I’ve tried to do my best for you, Mrs.
LOTTIE: You’ve behaved like a perfect gentleman.
HERBERT: You can say or think of me what you
choose, Mrs. Vivyan. I’ve shielded you as much as I could.
But my business is to stop this marriage, and by God, I mean
to do it.
LOTTIE: You don’t think of me!
HERBERT: It can make no difference to you.
LOTTIE (about to break out passionately, but
effort restraining herself): Oh, what a fool I am to let myself
be disturbed by what you say! It’s all nonsense. And how,
pray, are you going to prevent me from marrying Jack?
HERBERT: I have only one way left; and you’ve
driven me to it. I shall tell him everything I know.
LOTTIE (bursting into a shriek of ironical
Very well. You shall tell him now — immediately.
(She touches the bell and the Servant comes in,)
LOTTIE: Ask Mr. Rayner to come here?
(Servant goes out,)
LOTTIE (smiling scornfully): I warn you
going to make an absolute fool of yourself, Mr. Paton.
(Herbert bows,) But perhaps that experience will not be
(Jack comes in.)
LOTTIE: What a time you’ve been, Jack. If it weren’t
for the high character that Mr. Paton has been giving you, I
should fear that you had been writing love-letters. Mr. Paton
wishes to speak to you on matters of importance.
JACK: That sounds rather formidable. What does he
want to talk about?
LOTTIE: About me.
JACK (laughing): That is indeed a matter of importance.
LOTTIE: Shall I leave you alone? Mr. Paton would
much rather say ill-natured things of me behind my back.
HERBERT: On the contrary, I should like you to stay,
Mrs. Vivyan. I am quite willing to say before your face all I
have to say.
LOTTIE (sitting down): Very well. To me
it’s a matter
of perfect indifference.
JACK: Good Heavens, you’ve not been quarrelling already?
LOTTIE: No, of course not! Go on, Mr. Paton.
HERBERT (after a momentary pause): I
surprised to hear of your engagement, Jack.
JACK: To tell you the truth I was rather surprised
myself. The thing was a bit sudden.
LOTTIE: The idea had never entered Jack’s head till I
indelicately proposed to him.
JACK: But I accepted with great alacrity.
HERBERT: Have you known one another long?
HERBERT: And who was Mr. Vivyan?
JACK: My dear Herbert, what are you talking about?
LOTTIE: Answer his question, Jack. It’s better.
JACK: But I can’t. I hav’nt the least idea who the
lamented Mr. Vivyan was.
HERBERT: Have you never spoken to your fiancee on
JACK: Well, you know, in such a case as this, one
doesn’t very much care to talk about one’s predecessor. I
believe he was a merchant.
LOTTIE (smiling quietly): Something in the city.
JACK: Of course! How stupid of me to forget. I re-
member now quite well.
HERBERT: And on his death he left his widow a
LOTTIE: Twelve hundred a year.
HERBERT (to Jack): You must consider
yourself a very
JACK: I do, I can tell you.
HERBERT: I wonder if you would have married Mrs.
Vivyan if she had been penniless.
LOTTIE: If I had been I should never have felt justified
in asking him.
JACK: What on earth are you trying to get at, Herbert?
LOTTIE: He wants to know whether we are passion-
ately in love with one another. … I don’t think we are,
Mr. Paton. We’ve both gone through a good deal and we’re
rather tired of love. It makes one too unhappy. The man a
woman loves seems always to treat her badly. We’re content
to be very good friends.
HERBERT: That makes it easier for me.
JACK: What the Devil d’you mean?
HERBERT: D’you know how Mrs. Vivyan got this
(Jack looks at Herbert without speaking.
towards him earnestly.)
HERBERT: Are you quite sure there has ever been a
JACK: Look here, Herbert, I can hear nothing to Mrs.
HERBERT: You must! It affects you honour.
JACK: I don’t care. I don’t want to know anything.
LOTTIE: Let him go on, Jack. It was bound to come
out sooner or later.
HERBERT: I’m awfully sorry for you old man. I
know what a horrible shock and grief it must be to you.
When you told me you were going to marry Mrs. Vivyan I
asked people who she was. I found out—things which made
me enquire more particularly.
JACK: Why the Devil didn’t you mind your own
HERBERT: It was for your sake, Jack. I couldn’t let
you be entrapped in a scandalous marriage.
LOTTIE: Go on, Mr. Paton.
HERBERT: Mrs. Vivyan has never been married. The
name is assumed. Oh God, I don’t know how to tell you!
Mrs. Vivyan, please leave us. I can’t stand it. I can’t say
these things before you, and I must say them. It will be
better for all of us if you leave us alone.
LOTTIE: Oh no, you asked me to stay, when I offered
to go. Now I want to hear all you’ve got to say.
HERBERT (with an effort): She’s the
daughter of a
Vet., Jack. She got mixed up with a man at Oxford, and then
came to town. Four years ago, she made the acquaintance
of Lord Feaverham. And when he got married he settled on
her the sum of twelve hundred a year.
(A pause. Jack has now become calm again, and
stonily at Herbert.)
HERBERT: What’s the matter, Jack? You don’t seem
JACK (passionately): Haven’t you made
it clear, damn
you? How can I fail to understand.
HERBERT: Why d’you look at me like that?
JACK (very calmly and slowly): You’ve
told me nothing
which I did not know before.
HERBERT (horror-stricken): Jack, you’re mad!
JACK (passionately): Confound you;
don’t you hear! I
tell you that you’ve said nothing which I did not know before.
HERBERT: You don’t mean to say you knew what
the woman was whom you were going to marry?
JACK: I knew everything.
HERBERT: Good God, Jack, you can’t marry another
man’s cast off. . .
JACK (interrupting): I’d rather you
didn’t call her ugly
names, Herbert, because, you know, she’s going to be my wife.
HERBERT: But why, why, man? Oh, it’s infamous!
You say you’re not passionately in love with her.
JACK (to Lottie): What shall I say to him, Lottie?
(Lottie shrugs her shoulders.)
JACK: Well, if you want the least creditable part of the
whole business. . . .
LOTTIE (interrupting bitterly): He doubtless does.
JACK: Remember that for a penniless chap like me she’s
a rich woman.
HERBERT (with horror): Oh! (Then, as if gradually
understanding): But you’re selling yourself; you’re selling
yourself as she sold herself. Oh, how can you! Why man,
you’re going to live on the very price of her shame.
JACK (almost in an undertone): One must live.
HERBERT: Oh, Jack, what has come over you! Have
you no honour? It’s bad enough to marry the woman, yet do
that if you love her; but don’t take the damned money. I
never dreamt you could do such a thing. All the time I was
thinking that this woman had enveigled you; and my heart
bled to think of the pain you must suffer when you knew the
JACK: I’m very sorry.
HERBERT: Why didn’t you tell me?
JACK: One doesn’t care about making such things more
public than necessary.
JACK (going up to Lottie): Why do you listen to all this,
LOTTIE: Oh, I’ve had hard things said to me for years.
I can bear it, and I don’t want to run away.
JACK: You’re very brave, my dear, (turning to
If you’ll sit down quietly and not make a beastly fuss, I’ll try
and explain to you how it all came about. I don’t want you
to think too badly of me.
LOTTIE: Oh, don’t, Jack. It will only pain you. What
does it matter what he thinks?
JACK: I should like to say it once and for all; and then
I can forget it. To-morrow we bury the past for ever, and
begin a new life.
HERBERT (sitting down): Well?
JACK: You know, when I was a boy I thought myself
prodigiously clever. At Oxford I was a shining light. And
when I came to town, I was eager for honour and glory. It
took me five long years to discover I was a fool. Oh, what
anguish of heart it was, when the fact stared me in the face
that I was a failure, a miserable, hopeless failure! I had thought
myself so much cleverer than the common run of men. I had
looked down on them from the height of my superiority, and
now I was obliged to climb down and confess that I was less
than the most vulgar money-grubber of them all. Ah, what a
lucky chap you are, Herbert. You were never under the delu-
sion that you had genius. You were so deliberately normal.
You always did the right thing, and the thing that was expected
of you. And now, you see, I’m a poor, broken-down scamp,
while you are a pillar of society. And you play golf and go to
church regularly. You do play golf and go to church?
JACK: I knew it. And you’re engaged to a model, upright
English girl with fair hair and blue eyes, the daughter of a
HERBERT: The daughter of a doctor.
JACK: Same thing; the species is just the same. And
she’s strong and healthy, and plays tennis, and rides a bike,
and has muscles like a prize-fighter. Oh, I know it. Then
you’ll get married and help to over-populate the island. You’ll
rear children upright and healthy and strong and honest like
yourselves. And when you die they’ll put on your tombstone:
“Here lies an honourable man.” Thank your stars that you
were never cursed with ideals, but were content to work hard
and be respectable. Oh, it’s a long, hard fall when one tumbles
back to earth, trying to climb to heaven. . . . And the
result of it all is, that you have an income and honour; while
I, as you remarked—
HERBERT: I didn’t mean to be rough on you in what
I said just now, Jack.
JACK: No, I know you didn’t, old chap; but nothing
very much affects me now. When one has to stand one’s own
contempt, it is easy enough to put up with other people’s. Oh,
if you knew how awful those years were, when I tried and
tried and could do no good. At last I despaired and went to
the Cape. But I muddled away my money there as I had
muddled everything in England; and then I had to work and
earn my bread as best I could. Sometimes I couldn’t and I
HERBERT: Why didn’t you write? I should have been
so glad to help you, Jack.
JACK: I couldn’t. I couldn’t accept money from you.
One needs to have pawned one’s shirt for bread before one can
lend money like a gentleman. Lottie found out I was in
distress and sent me twenty pounds.
LOTTIE: He never used it, Mr. Paton. He kept it for
two months so as not to hurt my feelings, and then returned
it with effusive thanks. I noticed they were the same four
notes as I sent out.
JACK (with a slight laugh): Well, I
managed to get on
somehow. I tried farming, I went to the mines, I was a bar-
tender. Imagine the shining light of Oxford debating-societies
mixing drinks in his shirt-sleeves and a white apron. A
merciful Providence has destined me to be one of life’s failures.
HERBERT: It sounds awful. I never knew.
LOTTIE: Of course you never knew! People like you
don’t. You, with your income and your respectability, what
do you know of the struggles and the agony of those who go
under? You can’t judge, you don’t know how many tempta-
tions we resist for the one we fall to.
JACK: After all, it wasn’t so bad—when one got used to
it. And I had the edifying spectacle of my fellows. Army
men, shady people from the city, any amount of parsons’ sons,
‘Varsity men by the score, and now and again a noble lord.
Oh, we were a select body, I can tell you—the failures, and the
blackguards, and the outcasts. Most of them take to drink,
and that’s the best thing they can do, for then they don’t mind.
HERBERT: Thank God you escaped that.
JACK: By no fault of mine, old chap. I should have
been only too glad to drink myself to death, only spirits make
me so beastly ill that I have to keep sober. . . . Anyhow,
now I’m back in England again, and three or four weeks ago
I met Lottie.
LOTTIE: At a night-club, Mr. Paton.
JACK: Well, we’d been pals in the old days, and she
asked me to go and see her. We soon were as great friends
as ever. She told me all about herself, and I told her about
myself. It was an edifying story on both sides. She spoke
of the settlement, and one day suggested that I should marry
HERBERT: And you agreed?
JACK: Oh, I was tired of this miserable existence of
mine. I was sick to death of being always alone. I wanted
someone to care for me, someone to belong to me and stand
by me. And it’s so awful to be poor, perpetually to have
starvation staring you in the face, not to have the smallest
comfort or anything that makes life pleasant and beautiful.
You, who’ve always been well off, don’t know what a man
can do to get money. I tell you such abject poverty is madden-
ing. I couldn’t stand it any longer; I would rather have
killed myself. I’m tired of all this effort, I want to live in
peace and quiet.
HERBERT: And the price you pay is dishonour.
JACK: Dishonour! I’m not such an honourable creature
as all that. I’ve done mean enough things in my life. I
wonder what I haven’t done! I haven’t stolen; but that’s
because I was afraid of being found out, and I never had the
pluck to take my chance.
HERBERT: How can you live together with the recol-
lection of the past?
JACK: Oh, damn the past! (to Lottie):
You know me
for what I am, dear, and you know I have no cause to despise
LOTTIE (with her hands on Jack’s
both rather tired of the world, and we’ve both gone through
a good deal, I think we shall be forbearing to one another.
HERBERT: I wonder if you can possibly be happy?
JACK: I hope I shall make Lottie as good a husband as
I think she will make me a good wife.
LOTTIE (smiling): Was I right, Mr.
Paton, when I
prophesied you would make a fool of yourself?
HERBERT: Perhaps! I don’t know. Good-bye.
(He gives his hand to Jack and walks out Jack
to Lottie and she puts her hands on his shoulders.)
LOTTIE: I’m afraid you’ll have to do without a best
man, old chap. Respectability and virtue have turned their
backs upon us.
JACK: Oh, give them time and they’ll come round. They
only want feeding. You can get a bishop to dine with you if
you give good enough dinners.
LOTTIE (sighing): They’re so hard, all
people. Their moral sense isn’t satisfied unless they see the
sinner actually roasting in Hell. As if Hell were needful when
every little sin so quickly brings upon this earth its bitter
JACK: Let us forget it all. What does the world matter
when we have ourselves. Why did you tell Herbert we were
only friends? We’re so much more than that.
LOTTIE (smiling sadly): Are we? Perhaps
but if love comes let it come very slowly.
LOTTIE: Because I want it to last for ever.
(Jack puts his arms round her, and she rests
against his shoulder,)
JACK: I will try to be a good husband to you, dearest.
LOTTIE: Oh Jack, Jack, I want your love so badly.
W. SOMERSET MAUGHAM.
This precious bubble of the antique world,
As light as lifted foam, as frail as breath,
Endured when empires died a desperate death,
When heaven on earth, when tower on tower was hurled.
Hues of a beetle’s temporary wing
Have grown on this in centuries of slime;
Dials have told a rosary of time
For every nuance of this feeble thing.
Were it devised at first for costly balm,
The distillation of a summer’s fee,
To sweeten some “Ah sweet, I dote on thee,”
And over all there lies a common calm. . . .
No more, no more the heavy branches drip
Another fragrance to the tangled moss,
Translucent insects flamed and hummed across;
The sleep they soothed is grown eternal sleep.
It mocks indeed, it is not wholly dumb,
The insect’s fiery wing; and, listening well
Against the margin of this tell-tale shell,
There wakes the memory of a distant hum.
Drowse on, drowse on until I come again;
Or sleep, or sleep for ever, evermore;
We are like men who halt upon a shore,
Whose thoughts go forward and whose feet remain.
A CONCERT AT CLIFFORD’S INN.
(Since this paper was written the destruction of the old
which then seemed imminent, has been for a time averted. The
names still shine, and the old music has again been heard there.)
Another of the old “Inns of Chancery” is doomed to
truction another bit of Old London, another reposeful nook
of ancientry, will soon have vanished from the face of the
earth. Clifford’s Inn will ere long be carted away, a pathetic
heap of rubbish the ghosts that haunted it evicted without
compunction the Societies that frequented it turned adrift to
find an asylum elsewhere. Where now, if anywhere, will be
held those “curious feasts” of “The Ancient and Honourable
Society of Clifford’s Inn,” whereat no after-dinner speeches were
allowed to interrupt the convivial flow of conversation; where
the grace after meat was dumbly symbolised by the Chairman’s
three times elevating four little loaves united in the form of a
cross, which were then sent down the table in token that the
remains of the feast were to be given, as customary dole, to
certain poor old women who waited in the buttery. Whither
now will emigrate “The Art Worker’s Guild,” the names of
whose Presidents shine in gold letters upon panels in the wain-
scoting of the old Hall, among the rank and file of the Workers
who here “took their ease in their Inn”?
How many quiet browsing-places for memory have been
ruthlessly swept away by the epidemic of improvements still
raging in the City! A stone’s throw from St. Dunstan’s, Tem-
ple Bar has been removed and rusticated by brute force, like
the gates of Gaza; and on its site ramps the triumphant Griffin,
emblematic of Prosperity and Progress; and now the old Inn
must go! It is a place of many memories. Here in the hall,
after the fire of London, sat Sir Matthew Hale with a council of
Puisne judges, to settle disputes about property and boundaries.
Here in chambers resided for a while Sir Edward Coke of legal
fame, and John Selden of the shrewd and witty “Table Talk.”
Here also at No. 13 dwelt George Dyer, the friend of Charles
Lamb, whose feet must often have trodden the cobble-stones of
these old courts. Here, in more recent times, the “little clan”
who love the older forms of music have come to the Dolmetsch
Concerts, to delight their souls with hearing the works of com-
posers who filled the spacious times of Tudor and Stuart with
sounds which, for “the general” have long ceased to echo still.
The last of these concerts, given on March 23rd 1903, was
the ninety-fourth of the Dolmetsch concerts, of which only
some of the later series were held at Clifford’s Inn. It was a
worthy farewell to to the old walls, which will echo no more to
to the sweet sounds of voice and lute, viol and harpsichord,
discoursing music that seemed to harmonise with the spirit of the
place. These ninety-four concerts represent but a small por-
tion of the work Mr. Dolmetsch has done in the cause of old
music, to which he has devoted so much of his life and energy.
Before such concerts could be set on foot a vast amount of
preliminary labour was necessary: rare old scores had to be
picked up here and there; still rarer unpublished manuscripts to
be hunted for in libraries, decyphered and copied out; arrange-
ments made from figured basses; curious forms of notation and
scoring to be understood and interpreted. Then, to make the
dry bones of the music live, it was further necessary to collect
and learn the mechanism of each instrument for which it was
written; and in all cases to repair and put each of them in order,
with due regard to its proper tuning, before it could be played
upon. To do all this needed a rare combination of talents and
industry, knowledge and skill. Mr. Dolmetsch has proved
himself as dexterous in repairing his old instruments as he is in
playing them. But, not content with merely repairing, he has
actually made lutes, clavichords, harpsichords; and, for Cecil
Rhodes, a small modern piano, in which the strings are attached
to wood, not metal, and of which the timbre is much more sym-
pathetic, and combines better with other strings, than that of the
cold and blatant “concert grand.”
These Dolmetsch Concerts, so pleasant in their
ventionality, are much like what we may imagine the private
“chamber music” of the Eighteenth century to have been;
when a few musical people came together to entertain them-
selves with a few choice pieces of music.
The last concert opened with a quaint little piece entitled:
“A tune with Divisions for the Virginals:” divisions in this
sense being a series of melodic passages suggested by a theme:
written by William Byrd, an English composer born about
1538, of whom Henry Peacham in his Compleat Gentleman
says: “For motets and musike of pietie and devotion, as well
for the honour of our nation as the merit of the man, I preferre
above all other our phoenix, Mr. William Byrd, whom in that
kind I know not whether any may equal.” Like his friend
Tallis, he was a gentleman of the Chapel Royal and organist
to Queen Elizabeth. He wrote much sacred music; among
other things “Psalmes, Songs and Sonets, some solemne, others
joyful, framed to the life of the words.” This last phrase of
the title is noteworthy, showing with what care these old
composers endeavoured to make their music follow “the life of
the words.” Byrd’s pupil, Thomas Morley, speaks of him
as his “loving master, never without reverence to be named
of musicians,” and tells of his “virtuous contentions” with
Alfonso Ferrabosco, the elder, born of Italian parents at Green-
wich about 1560, in making “various ways of plain-song
upon a miserere.” He had many of these “virtuous conten-
tions” with Ferrabosco; in one of which the trial of skill was
the setting of a song, “The Nightingale so plesant and so
gaie.” In this, according to Peacham, the Italian had the best
of it. “His compositions,” he says, “cannot be bettered for
sweetness of air and depth of judgment.” If it were at all on
the level of some of his pieces given by Mr. Dolmetsch at an
earlier concert, Ferrabosco’s setting must have been hard to
beat. At that concert two of his Pavans for five viols, two
Trebles, Alto, Tenor, and Viola da Gamba; and a Song
accompanied by the Lute, “Like Hermit Poor,” were per-
formed. Nothing more beautiful of their kind than these
Pavans could be conceived. They were dance measures full
of stately gravity, with the most exquisite contrapuntal writing
for the viols, the continuous melody passing through a series
of ingenious and delightful transitional cadences leading at last
to a full close on the tonic, which having been so long evaded,
came with a most satisfying and triumphant effect.
Byrd’s divisions were written about 1600. At the
Dolmetsch Concert, they were played upon an English spinet;
which, like the harpsichord, is merely a more developed form
of the Virginals. The mechanism of all three instruments is
practically the same. Each, like the more modern piano, is a
keyed instrument; but while in the piano, the wire strings are
struck by a small wooden hammer with a head padded with
felt, in the spinet and harpsichord they are plucked by a small
quill, that of a raven being the most suitable. This quill pro-
jects about an eighth of an inch from the side of an oblong piece
of wood called a “jack,” which flies up when the key is pressed
by the finger; the quill being released by a simple, but ingeni-
ous piece of mechanism after it has plucked the string, which
it does not strike again as the jack falls. Byrd’s Tune is, like
many of these old pieces, vocal and instrumental, in a minor
key; and the divisions wander in a sweet and leisurely way
over the bass, like a continual reverie on the tune, breathing
a gentle melancholy, content with its own quiet sadness and
Then came “Three Songs accompanied by the Lute and
Viola da Gamba;” the words and the music of the first two,
by Thomas Campion, (a song-writer well known to collectors
of old English lyrics); the date of all three is about 1601. All
are in the minor mode, and all are lovely—the last lovliest of
all. This, set by Philip Rossiter, is still in manuscript; but
the others may be found in a volume of “Twelve Elizabethan
Songs,” edited by Miss Janet Dodge, and published by A. H.
Bullen. Here is a verse of the first:—
Though you are yoong and I am olde,
Though youre vaines hot and my blond colde.
Though youth is moist and age is drie,
Yet embers live when floures doe die.”
It is quaintly and simply set and harmonised; the expres-
sion of the words being closely followed by the poet in his
music. Though in a minor key, he does not allow the hearer
to feel that his elderly Lover is opprest by melancholy, much
less despair. The sober sadness of his love is tempered by a
sturdy hope. There is great reticence in the use of minor
harmonies; the chord of the tonic minor being sparingly used,
the last cadence introducing a sharpened third in the tonic
chord—the “tierce de Picardie” of old organ music. The
first verse of the second song goes thus:
“When to her lute Corinna singes
Her voice revives the leaden stringes,
And doth in highest noates appeare
As any challeng’d eccho cleere:
But when she doth of mourning speake,
Ev’n. with her sighes, the strings doe breake!”
These songs are simple examples of the method of the old
composers in using the minor mode; the ear being pleasantly
tantalised by the alternation of major and minor phrases and
the sparing use of the tonic minor. This explains that effect
of gentle melancholy, so characteristic of these old songs and
pieces in minor keys, which are usually made to express a
grave tenderness rather than a poignant sadness. It is the
melancholy of sunshine mellowed by the green leaves of a
woodland glade. In the accompaniments there is a great charm
in the contrapuntal treatment of the instruments, each with a
valid part of its own, harmonising with the melody, but not
repeating it; the lute playing round the vocal part while the
viola da gamba gives harmonic resonance with occasional full
The lute is the most perfect of the tribe of fretted
ments, in which, as in the guitar, the intervals are marked
upon the fingerboard by raised ridges called frets, against
which the strings are prest by the finger to produce each note.
It was much used in the Elizabethan period for accompanying
the voice, which it does most sympathetically and modestly
without undue self-assertion. It is a beautiful instrument,
shaped like half a gradually tapering pear, the smaller end
terminating in a long neck which supports the finger-board;
its lines of construction are as fine as those of a racing cutter.
Its form suggests the aristocratic culture of its period, when
every gentleman was, or strove to be, a skilled poet and
musician. It would grace the hands of Sir Philip Sidney
himself with its dainty elegance. There are usually eleven or
more strings, for in these old intruments the stringing may
vary in different specimens.
Amongst other pieces heard on this occasion was “A
Fantazie for Three Viols” by John Jenkins, an English com-
poser who lived to a good age, and wrote much music—
beautiful music too it must be, if this fantasia be a fair specimen
of its quality. But now who remembers his name, or knows
his work ? All of it, save a few songs, has apparently gone to
the world’s waste-paper basket, the dustiest shelves of old
libraries, from which this forgotten piece was picked by Mr.
Dolmetsch, who arranged it from the manuscript for two viole
d’amore and viola da gamba.
The viola d’amore well deserves its
pretty name; for it
sings as sweetly as if the soul of a faithful lover dwelt in its
graceful body and spoke through its strings. It is shaped like
a more slender violin, with a longer neck, terminating in a
cherub’s head. It has seven strings played on by the bow,
and besides these, running under the bridge and attached to
the back of the cherub’s head, are seven “sympathetic” strings
of wire, which are not played on but vibrate in harmony with
the notes drawn from the upper strings by the bow. The
effect of their vibration is very pleasing, giving the viola
d’amore its peculiar quality of tone, each note seeming to
surrounded by a tender halo of veiled sound, harmonics of the
The viola da gamba is a forerunner of
the violoncello, and
is played much in the same way, except that the bow is
longer and held like that of the violone, the largest of the viol
tribe, with deep notes something like those of the double bass.
It usually has seven strings, sometimes but six; and some-
times also has seven sympathetic strings. It is tuned an
octave lower than the usual tuning of the viola d’amore.
Occasionally both viola d’amore and viola da gamba are given
thirteen sympathetic strings, tuned in a chromatic scale.
In Jenkins’s fantasia the effect of the three instruments,
each with its separate melody, as they played with each other
in counterpoint, was ravishingly beautiful. It was, as Mr.
Dolmetsch said, a piece that Carpaccio’s angels might play.
The workmanlike manner in which the angels in pictures by the
early Italian masters handle their viols delights the musician’s
soul. They know what they are about. Look at their fingers
and you can hear the notes they are playing. Take, for
instance, Carpaccio’s great altarpiece, “The Presentation of
Christ in the Temple,” now in the Academy at Venice, in
which, below the principal personages, three lovely little wing-
less child angels sit and play—one a curved pipe and one a
lute, while the third waits with his viol and bow, ready to
come in at the right moment. The one in the middle, raised a
step above the others, holds a lute, which looks almost too big
for him, upon his left knee, crossed over his right, to form a
perfectly steady support. He grips his large instrument
masterfully, and his whole soul is in his work; while his
comrade listens with earnest attention for his cue, and the
piper plays with an expression of entranced seriousness. You
feel that they are all skilled musicians. Burne Jones’s decora-
tive figures are as evidently lackadaisical impostors, languidly
pretending to play upon instruments the ways of which they
do not understand.
The Golden Sonata” of Purcell, was here played with
fine effect on the instruments for which he wrote it, two
Violins, Viola da Gamba and Harpsichord. It was composed
about 1680, when Purcell was twenty-two. It opens with a
short largo the viola da gamba giving out a graceful theme
in the tonic major, a tripping and flowing melody full of
grave and stately cheerfulness with variations for the violins,
the harpsichord accompanying. It is followed by an adagio
in the minor, the most remarkable movement of the piece,
a slow progression of full chords through most of the
flat keys, with many anticipations and suspensions, giving
rise to strange discords and resolutions; sounding like a
solemn and mysterious dirge, or funeral chant, to which
the suspended discords give poignancy. The succeeding
allegro is in the shape of a free canon, the subject
given out by the first violin; its development giving rise
to a brisk and lively movement, in which the instruments
follow and play with each other, like dancers through the
mazes of an intricate dance; now taking hands and now
separating as the figures change. Then comes a grave and
majestic slow movement in the relative minor, short, but
exquisitely lovely, and full of a tender melancholy, leading to a
finale, allegro scherzando, in the tonic. This finale is much
like the scherzo and trio of an early Beethoven sonata except
that the subject corresponding to the trio arises more directly
from the first subject, and ends the piece pleasantly and cheer-
fully, without repetition of the first part.
A noticeable feature of the Dolmetsch Concerts has been
the rendering of the works of Johann Sebastian Bach: amongst
others of his “Concerto in C minor, for Two Harpsichords,
Two Violins, Viola, Violoncello, and Violone.” This splendid
piece opens with an allegretto, leading to an adagio, a fine ex-
ample of Bach’s solid and majestic contrapuntal scoring. This,
as given on the old instruments, was specially interesting, be-
cause the harpsichord plays a most important part in the general
effect, which would have been much marred if the music as-
signed to it had been arranged for the piano. Bach loved the
harpsichord, knew its musical personality as only a lover could,
and has written for it music which brings out all its finest
qualities of tone and timbre. Anyone who has had an oppor-
tunity of hearing his concerted pieces played on the instruments
for which they were written, must feel not merely the intellec-
tual greatness of the man, but the emotional side of his nature,
and the noble beauty which results from his stern devotion
to musical form.
A “Sonata for the Viola da Gamba and Harpsichord
accompanied by a second Harpsichord,” by J. P. Teleman,
written about 1730, affords a good contrast to the Bach
Concerto. It is like coming down from the mountain tops to
be led through green pastures, and beside still waters. Tele-
man was a great rival of Bach in his own day; but now an
almost unknown composer even in Germany. Yet to judge by
this and some other pieces which Mr. Dolmetsch has un-
earthed, and given at some of these concerts, he well deserves
a hearing. This sonata is full of melodic beauty, and scored
with much skill and refinement.
Another composition which gains in effect when played on
the instrument for which it was written, is Bach’s first Prelude
and Fugue on the Clavichord, for which his great series of
Preludes and Fugues was composed; the Clavichord, not the
harpsichord being the “Wohltemperirte Clavier.” It was called
“well-tempered” by Bach, because the temperament was more
equally distributed between the different keys, than was the
case in the harpsichord; thus enabling him to make use of the
more extreme keys without offending the ear with pieces
which if played on the harpsichord, with its less equable tem-
perament, would have sounded distinctly out of tune. The
clavichord is the daintiest of keyed instruments, and is strung
with wire strings, much after the fashion of the flat oblong
piano of the early nineteenth century, which it somewhat
resembles in shape. Each note is produced by the contact of
the “tangent,” a thin blade or lamina of brass, with the string;
which it divides into two segments, one of which is damped,
while the other in vibrabting sounds a note of the pitch required.
Its sound is faint, but the quality of tone is exquisite, and has
in it something so remote and alien from the work-a-day world
as to suggest the performance of a fairy musician at the court
of Titania. The note continues to sound for some time, if the
string be held by the tangent, and something like a swell can
be produced by a gently increased pressure of the finger on the
key, which makes the note thus held louder and slightly
sharper. In Mr. Dolmetsch’s performance on a clavichord
which he had himself made, the Prelude and Fugue were dis-
tinctly heard, every note clear, and with a kind of dewy
radiance in its timbre. This pure and delicate timbre, so
characteristic of the instrument, gave the pieces a rare
We have had many collections of old English songs and
lyrics, from the dawn of poetry in the earliest ballads down to
the courtly verses of the gallants of the Restoration. It is a
comparatively easy task to collect even the rarer of these coy
flowers of literature, and when collected everyone who can
read can enjoy them. But where, except at these concerts,
each of which is a piece of carefully selected anthology, can
any lover of music hear the works of these fine Old Masters,
the men who made the great modern art of music, performed,
as nearly as possible as they were written, upon the instru-
ments for which they were composed? A transcript for
modern instruments is much like the translation of a beautiful
poem from one language into another, always but a pale sug-
gestion, and often a mutilation or distortion. The colour and
aroma are more or less lost in the process. Now this lyrical
period of English poetry in the sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries corresponds to the development of the art of music,
vocal and instrumental, from its first beginnings in the Latin
hymns of the Church and the folk-songs of the European
peoples, down to the great seventeenth century composers,
Purcell, and Bach, and Handel. Mr. Saintsbury, in the intro-
duction to his charming collection of seventeenth century
songs and lyrics, seems to regard the excellence of the song-
writing of even the less distinguished poets of the Elizabethan
period as something inexplicable; but we should remember
that these writers, even if not always skilled musicians, were
in the midst of the spring-time of music, and wrote their words
for musical setting, either by themselves or someone else.
This may partly explain the goodness of their songs. It is
true that many poets with no ear for music have written
admirable verse, and even poems well adapted for music; but
a man who can sing or appreciate singing is more likely to
write a good song than a man who cannot. Shakspeare,
among the greatest of song-writers, shows in many passages
of his works, an intimate acquaintance with the musical art
of his time, and never makes a mistake in his allusions to musical
forms, or to instruments and their handling. In the reigns of
Elizabeth, James, and Charles I., even amateurs who played or
sang were skilled musicians, with ears trained by having to
deal with stringed instruments, often difficult even to tune; while
they had to fill in parts from figured basses. This involved
some knowledge of composition and counterpoint. They
could not merely sing at sight, but compose at sight; for
musical education was then based upon the firm foundation of
of counterpoint, an art:
Not harsh and crabbed as dull fools suppose,
But musical as is Apollo’s lute;”
as anyone who hears the compositions of the old contrapuntists
knows. Its very essence is the development of melody from a
germinal phrase, and the setting of melody against melody so
as to produce a series of satisfying harmonies.
In these concerts Mr. Dolmetsch has done for the music
of this great period of the invention of lovely tunes, as of lovely
lyrics, what no mere collector of songs or pieces could do for
it, or for a lover of music. He has enabled his audiences to
hear, and taught them to delight in, the exquisite effect of the
old viols, each with its own distinct timbre, its own musical
personality, sometimes in duett, sometimes as a “Chest of Vi-
ols” without other instruments, sometimes in combination
with flute or harpsichord. Such “consorts of musicke” as
these makes one feel the cheerful sanity of the Old Masters,
and the liberty they enjoyed within the gradually widening
limitations prescribed by the perfect law of contrapuntal form.
The Venture: an Annual of Art and Literature, vol. 1, 1903. Venture Digital Edition, edited by Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, 2019-2021. Yellow Nineties 2.0, Ryerson University Centre for Digital Humanities, 2021, https://1890s.ca/vv1-all