The Yellow Book
An Illustrated Quarterly
Volume I April 1894
I. The Death of the Lion .. By Henry
James .. Page 7
II. Tree-Worship .. Richard Le Gallienne .. 57
III. A Defence of Cosmetics .. Max Beerbohm .. 65
IV. Δαιμονζσμενος .. Arthur Christopher Benson .. 83
V. Irremediable .. Ella D’Arcy .. 87
VI. The Frontier .. William Watson .. 113
VII. Night on Curbar Edge
VIII. A Sentimental Cellar .. George Saintsbury .. 119
IX. Stella Maris .. Arthur Symons .. 129
X. Mercedes .. Henry Harland .. 135
XI. A Broken Looking-Glass
XII. Alere Flammam .. Edmund Gosse .. 153
XIII. A Dream of November
XIV. The Dedication .. Fred M. Simpson .. 159
XV. A Lost Masterpiece .. George Egerton .. 189
XVI. Reticence in Literature .. Arthur Waugh .. 201
XVII. Modern Melodrama .. Hubert Crackanthorpe .. 223
XVIII. London .. John Davidson .. 233
XIX. Down-a-down. .. 235
XX. The Love-Story of Luigi Tansillo .. Richard Garnett, LL.D. . 235
XXI. The Fool’s Hour .. John Oliver Hobbes
and George Moore .. 253
The Yellow Book, — Vol. I.— April, 1894.
Front Cover, by Aubrey Beardsley
Title Page, by Aubrey Beardsley
I. A Study .. By Sir Frederic Leighton,
II. L’Education Sentimentale .. Aubrey Beardsley .. Page 55
III. Le Puy en Velay .. Joseph Pennell .. 63
IV. The Old Oxford Music Hall .. Walter Sickert .. 85
V. Portrait of a Gentleman .. Will Rothenstein .. 111
VI. The Reflected Faun .. Laurence Housman .. 117
VII. Night Piece .. Aubrey Beardsley .. 127
VIII. A Study … Sir Frederic Leighton,
P.R.A. .. 133
IX. Portrait of a Lady ..Will Rothenstein .. 151
X. Portrait of Mrs. Patrick Campbell .. Aubrey Beardsley .. 157
XI. The Head of Minos .. J. T. Nettleship .. 187
XII. Portrait of a Lady .. Charles W. Furse .. 199
XIII. A Lady Reading .. Walter Sickert .. 221
XIV. A Book Plate .. Aubrey Beardsley .. 251
XV. A Book Plate .. R. Anning Bell .. 251
Back Cover, by Aubrey Beardsley
The Death of the Lion
I HAD simply, I suppose, a change of heart, and it must
begun when I received my manuscript back from Mr. Pinhorn.
Mr. Pinhorn was my chief, as he was called in the office: he
had accepted the high mission of bringing the paper up. This
was a weekly periodical, and had been supposed to be almost past
redemption when he took hold of it. It was Mr. Deedy who had
let it down so dreadfully — he was never mentioned in the office
now save in connection with that misdemeanour. Young as I
was I had been in a manner taken over from Mr. Deedy, who
had been owner as well as editor; forming part of a promiscuous
lot, mainly plant and office-furniture, which poor Mrs. Deedy, in
her bereavement and depression, parted with at a rough valuation.
I could account for my continuity only on the supposition that
I had been cheap. I rather resented the practice of fathering
all flatness on my late protector, who was in his unhonoured
grave; but as I had my way to make I found matter enough for
complacency in being on a “staff.” At the same time I was
aware that I was exposed to suspicion as a product of the old
lowering system. This made me feel that I was doubly bound to
to Mr. Pinhorn that I should lay my lean hands on Neil Paraday.
I remember that he looked at me first as if he had never heard of
this celebrity, who indeed at that moment was by no means in the
middle of the heavens; and even when I had knowingly explained
he expressed but little confidence in the demand for any such
matter. When I had reminded him that the great principle on
which we were supposed to work was just to create the demand
we required, he considered a moment and then rejoined: “I see;
you want to write him up.”
“Call it that if you like.”
“And what’s your inducement?”
“Bless my soul — my admiration!”
Mr. Pinhorn pursed up his mouth. “Is there
much to be done
“Whatever there is, we should have it all to ourselves for he
hasn’t been touched.”
This argument was effective, and Mr. Pinhorn responded:
“Very well, touch him.” Then he added: “But where can you
“Under the fifth rib!” I laughed.
Mr. Pinhorn stared. “Where’s that?”
“You want me to go down and see him?” I inquired, when I
had enjoyed his visible search for this obscure suburb.
“I don’t “want” anything — the proposal’s your own. But you
must remember that that’s the way we do things now,” said Mr.
Pinhorn, with another dig at Mr. Deedy.
Unregenerate as I was, I could read the queer implicationsoof
this speech. The present owner’s superior virtue as well as his
deeper craft spoke in his reference to the late editor as one of
that baser sort who deal in false representations. Mr. Deedy
have published a holiday-number; but such scruples presented
themselves as mere ignoble thrift to his successor, whose own
sincerity took the form of ringing door-bells and whose definition
of genius was the art of finding people at home. It was as if Mr.
Deedyhad published reports without his young men’s having, as
Mr. Pinhorn would have said, really been there. I was unre-
generate, as I have hinted, and I was not concerned to straighten
out the journalistic morals of my chief, feeling them indeed to be
an abyss over the edge of which it was better not to peer. Really
to be there this time moreover was a vision that made the idea of
writing something subtle about Neil Paraday only the more
inspiring. I would be as considerate as even Mr. Deedy could
have wished, and yet I should be as present as only Mr. Pinhorn
could conceive. My allusion to the sequestered manner in which
Mr. Paraday lived (which had formed part of my explanation,
though I knew of it only by hearsay) was, I could divine, very
much what had made Mr. Pinhorn bite. It struck him as in-
consistent with the success of his paper that any one should be so
sequestered as that. Moreover, was not an immediate exposure of
everything just what the public wanted? Mr. Pinhorn effectually
called me to order by reminding me of the promptness with which
I had met Miss Braby at Liverpool, on her return from her fiasco in
the States. Hadn’t we published, while its freshness and flavour
were unimpaired, Miss Braby’s own version of that great inter-
national episode? I felt somewhat uneasy at this coupling of the
actress and the author, and I confess that after having enlisted Mr.
Pinhorn’s sympathies I procrastinated a little. I had succeeded
better than I wished, and I had, as it happened, work nearer at
hand. A few days later I called on Lord Crouchley and carried
off in triumph the most unintelligible statement that had yet
appeared of his lordship’s reasons for his change of front. I thus
set in motion in the daily papers columns of virtuous verbiage.
The following week I ran down to Brighton for a chat, as Mr.
Pinhorn called it, with Mrs. Bounder, who gave me, on the
subject of her divorce, many curious particulars that had not been
articulated in court. If ever an article flowed from the primal
fount it was that article on Mrs. Bounder. By this rime, however,
I became aware that Neil Paraday’s new book was on the point of
appearing, and that its approach had been the ground of my
original appeal to Mr. Pinhorn, who was now annoyed with me
for having lost so many days. He bundled me off—we would at
least not lose another. I have always thought his sudden alertness a
remarkable example of the journalistic instinct. Nothing had
occurred, since I first spoke to him, to create a visible urgency,
and no enlightenment could possibly have reached him. It was a
pure case of professional flair—he had smelt the coming glory as
an animal smells its distant prey.
I may as well say at once that this little record pretends in no
degree to be a picture either of my introduction to Mr. Paraday
or of certain proximate steps and stages. The scheme of my
narrative allows no space for these things and in any case a pro-
hibitory sentiment would be attached to my recollection of so rare
an hour. These meagre notes are essentially private, and if they
see the light the insidious forces that, as my story itself shows,
make at present for publicity will simply have overmastered my
precautions. The curtain fell lately enough on the lamentable
drama. My memory of the day I alighted at Mr.
is a fresh memory of kindness, hospitality, compassion, and of the
wonderful illuminating talk in which the welcome was conveyed.
Some voice of the air had taught me the right moment, the
moment of his life at which an act of unexpected young allegiance
might most come home. He had recently recovered from a long,
grave illness. I had gone to the neighbouring inn for the night,
but I spent the evening in his company, and he insisted the next
day on my sleeping under his roof. I had not an indefinite leave:
Mr. Pinhorn supposed us to put out victims through on the
gallop. It was later, in the office, that the step was elaborated
and regulated. I fortified myself however, as my training had
taught me to do, by the conviction that nothing could be more
advantageous for my article than to be written in the very atmo-
sphere. I said nothing to Mr. Paraday about it, but in the
morning, after my removal from the inn, while he was occupied in
his study, as he had notified me that he should need to be, I com-
mitted to paper the quintessence of my impressions. Then
thinking to commend myself to Mr. Pinhorn by my celerity, I
walked out and posted my little packet before luncheon. Once
my paper was written I was free to stay on, and if it was designed
to divert attention from my frivolity in so doing I could reflect
with satisfaction that I had never been so clever I don’t mean to
deny of course that I was aware it was much too good for Mr.
Pinhorn; but I was equally conscious that Mr. Pinhorn had the
supreme shrewdness of recognising from time to time the cases in
which an article was not too bad only because it was too good,
There was nothing he loved so much as to print on the right
occasion a thing he hated. I had begun my visit to Mr. Paraday
on a Monday, and on the Wednesday his book came out. A copy
of it arrived by the first post, and he let me go out into the garden
with it immediately after breakfast. I read it from beginning to
end that day, and in the evening he asked me to remain with him
the rest of the week and over the Sunday.
That night my manuscript came back from Mr.
accompanied with a letter, of which the gist was the desire to
know what I meant by sending him such stuff. That was the
meaning of the question, if not exactly its form, and it made my
mistake immense to me. Such as this mistake was I could now
only look it in the face and accept it. I knew where I had failed,
but it was exactly where I couldn’t have succeeded. I had been
sent down there to be personal, and in point of fact I hadn’t been
personal at all; what I had sent up to London was merely a little
finicking, feverish study of my author’s talent. Anything less
relevant to Mr. Pinhorn’s purpose couldn’t well be imagined, and
he was visibly angry at my having (at his expense, with a second-
class ticket) approached the object of our arrangement only to be
so deucedly distant. For myself, I knew but too well what had
happened, and how a miracle — as pretty as some old miracle of
legend — had been wrought on the spot to save me. There had
been a big brush of wings, the flash of an opaline robe, and then,
with a great cool stir of the air, the sense of an angel’s having
swooped down and caught me to his bosom. He held me only
till the danger was over, and it all took place in a minute. With
my manuscript back on my hands I understood the phenomenon
better, and the reflections I made on it are what I meant, at the
beginning of this anecdote, by my change of heart. Mr. Pinhorn’s
note was hot only a rebuke decidedly stern, but an invitation
immediately to send him (it was the case to say so) the genuine
article, the revealing and reverberating sketch to the promise of
which — and of which alone — I owed my squandered privilege. A
week or two later I recast my peccant paper, and giving it a
particular application to Mr. Paraday’s new
book, obtained for it
the hospitality of another journal, where, I must admit, Mr. Pin-
horn was so far justified that it attracted not the least attention.
I was frankly, at the end of three days, a very prejudiced critic,
so that one morning when, in the garden, Neil Paraday had
offered to read me something I quite held my breath as I listened.
It was the written scheme of another book—something he had
put aside long ago, before his illness, and lately taken out again to
reconsider. He had been turning it round when I came down
upon him, and it had grown magnificently under this second
hand. Loose, liberal, confident, it might have passed for a great
gossiping, eloquent letter—the overflow into talk of an artist’s
amorous plan. The subject I thought singularly rich, quite the
strongest he had yet treated; and this familiar statement of it, full
too of fine maturities, was really, in summarised splendour, a mine
of gold, a precious, independent work. I remember rather pro-
fanely wondering whether the ultimate production could possibly
be so happy. His reading of the epistle, at any rate, made me
feel as if I were, for the advantage of posterity, in close corre-
spondence with him — were the distinguished person to whom it had
been affectionately addressed. It was high distinction simply to
be told such things. The idea he now communicated had all the
freshness, the flushed fairness of the conception untouched and
untried: it was Venus rising from the sea, before the airs had
blown upon her. I had never been so throbbingly present at such
an unveiling. But when he had tossed the last bright word after
the others, as I had seen cashiers in banks, weighing mounds of
coin, drop a final sovereign into the tray, I became conscious of a
sudden prudent alarm.
“My dear toaster, how, after all, are you going to do it?” I
asked. “It’s infinitely noble, but what rime it will take, what
patience and independence, what assured, what perfect conditions
it will demand! Oh for a lone isle in a tepid sea!”
“Isn’t this practically a lone isle, and aren’t you, as an encircling
medium, tepid enough?” he replied; alluding with a laugh to the
wonder of my young admiration and the narrow limits of his little
provincial home. “Time isn’t what I’ve lacked hitherto: the
question hasn’t been to find it, but to use it. Of course my
illness made a great hole, but I daresay there would have been a
hole at any rate. The earth we tread bas more pockets than a
billiard-table. The great thing is now to keep on my feet.”
“That’s exactly what I mean.”
Neil Paraday looked at me with eyes — such
pleasant eyes as he
had — in which, as I now recall their expression, I seem to have
seen a dim imagination of his fate. He was fifty years old, and
his illness had been cruel, his convalescence slow. “It isn’t as if
I weren’t all right.”
“Oh, if you weren’t all right I wouldn’t look at you!” I
We had both got up, quickened by the full sound of it all, and
he had lighted a cigarette. I had taken a fresh one, and, with an
intenser smile, by way of answer to my exclamation, he touched it
with the flame of his match. “If I weren’t better I shouldn’t have
thought of that!” He flourished his epistle in his hand.
“I don’t want to be discouraging, but that’s not true,” I re-
turned. ” I’m sure that during the months you lay here in pain
You had visitations sublime. You thought of a thousand things.
you, if you will pardon my familiarity, so respectable. At a time
when so many people are spent you come into your second wind.
But, thank God, all the same, you’re better! Thank God, too,
you’re not, as you were telling me yesterday, ‘successful.’ If you
weren’t a failure, what would be the use of trying? That’s my
one reserve on the subject of your recovery — that it makes you
“score,” as the newspapers say. It looks well in the newspapers,
and almost anything that does that is horrible. ‘We are happy
to announce that Mr. Paraday, the celebrated author, is again in
the enjoyment of excellent health.’ Somehow I shouldn’t like to
“You won’t see it; I’m not in the least celebrated — my
obscurity protects me. But couldn’t you bear even to see I was
dying or dead?” my companion asked.
“Dead — passe encore; there’s
nothing so safe. One never
knows what a living artist may do — one has mourned so many.
However, one must make the worst of it; you must be as dead as
“Don’t I meet that condition in having just published a book?”
“Adequately, let us hope; for the book is verily a master- piece.”
At this moment the parlour-maid appeared in the door that
opened into the garden: Paraday lived at no great cost, and the
frisk of petticoats, with a timorous “Sherry, sir?” was about his
modest mahogany. He allowed hall his income to his wife, from
whom he had succeeded in separating without redundancy of legend.
I had a general faith in his having behaved well, and I had once, in
London, taken Mrs. Paraday down to dinner. He now turned to
speak to the maid, who offered him, on a trait, some card or note,
while agitated, excited, I wandered to the end of the garden.
The idea of his security became supremely dear to me, and I asked
myself if I were the same young man who had come down a few
days before to scatter him to the four winds. When I retraced
my steps he had gone into the house and the woman (the second
London post had come in) had placed my letters and a newspaper
on a bench. I sat down there to the letters, which were a brief
business, and then, without heeding the address, took the paper
from its envelope. It was the journal of highest renown, The
Empire of that morning. It regularly camee to Paraday, but I
remembered that neither of us had yet looked at the copy already
delivered. This one had a great mark on the editorial page,
and, uncrumpling the wrapper, I saw it to be directed to my host
and stamped with the name of his publishers. I instantly divined
that The Empire had spoken of him, and I have not forgotten the
odd little shock of the circumstance. It checked all eagerness and
made me drop the paper a moment. As I sat there, conscious of
a palpitation, I think I had a vision of what was to be. I had
also a vision of the letter I would presently address to Mr. Pinhorn,
breaking as it were with Mr. Pinhorn. Of course, however,
the next minute the voice of The Empire was in my ears.
The article was not, I thanked Heaven, a review; it was a
leader, the last of three, presenting Neil Paraday to the human
race. His new book, the fifth from his hand, had been but a day
or two out, and The Empire, already aware of it, fired, as if on the
birth of a prince, a salure of a whole column. The guns had been
booming these three hours in the house without out suspecting
them. The big blundering newspaper had discovered him, and
now he was proclaimed and anointed and crowned. His place was
assigned him as publicly as if a fat usher with a wand had pointed
to the topmost chair; he was to pass up and still up, higher and
higher, between the watching faces and the envious sounds — away
up to the daïs and the throne. The article was a date; he had
taken rank at a bound — waked up a national glory. A national
glory was needed, and it was an immense convenience he was there.
What all this meant rolled over me, and I fear I grew a little faint
—it meant so much more than I could say “yea” to on the spot.
land a flash, somehow, all was different; the tremendous wave I
speak of had swept something away. It had knocked down, I
suppose, my little customary altar, my twinkling tapers and my
flowers, and had reared itself into the likeness of a temple vast and
bare. When Neil Paraday should come out of the house he would
come out a contemporary. That was what had happened — the
poor man was to be squeezed into his horrible age. I felt as if
he had been overtaken on the crest of the hill and brought back
to the city. A little more and he would have dipped down to
posterity and escaped.
When he came out it was exactly as if he had been in custody,
for beside him walked a stout man with a big black beard, who,
save that he wore spectacles, might have been a policeman, and
in whom at a second glance I recognised the highest contemporary
“This is Mr. Morrow,” said Paraday, looking, I thought,
rather white; “he wants to publish heaven knows what about
I winced as I remembered that this was exactly what I myself
had wanted. “Already?” I exclaimed, with a sort of sense that
my friend had fled to me for protection.
The Yellow Book–Vol. I. B
Mr. Morrow glared, agreeably, through his
suggested the electric headlights of some monstrous modern ship,
and I felt as if Paraday and I were tossing terrified under his
bows. I saw that his momentum was irresistible, “I was
confident that I should be the first in the field,” he declared.
“A great interest is naturally felt in Mr. Paraday’s surroundings.”
“I hadn’t the least idea of it,” said Paraday, as if he had been
told he had been snoring.
“I find he has not read the article in The
remarked to me. “That’s so very interesting — something to
start with,” he smiled. He had begun to pull off his gloves,
which were violently new, and to look encouragingly round the
little garden. As a “surrounding” I felt that I myself had
already been taken in; I was a little fish in the stomach of a
bigger one. “I represent,” our visitor continued, “a syndicate of
influential journals, no less than thirty-seven, whose public —
whose publics, I may say — are in peculiar sympathy with Mr.
Paraday’s line of thought. They would greatly appreciate any
expression of his views on the subject of the art he so brilliantly
practises. Besides my connection with the syndicate just men-
tioned, I hold a particular commission from The Tatler, whose
most prominent department, Smatter and Chatter — I daresay
you’ve often enjoyed it — attracts such attention. I was honoured
only last week, as a representative of The Tatler, with the confi-
dence of Guy Walsingham, the author of ‘Obsessions.’ She
expressed herself thoroughly pleased with my sketch of her
method; she went so far as to say that I had made her genius
more comprehensible even to herself.”
Neil Paraday had dropped upon the
garden-bench and sat there,
at once detached and confused; he looked hard at a bare spot in
the lawn, as if with an anxiety that had suddenly made him grave.
to sink sympathetically into a wicker chair that stood hard by,
and as Mr. Morrow so settled himself I felt that he had taken
official possession and that there was no undoing it. One had
heard of unfortunate people’s having a man in the house, and
this was just what we had. There was a silence of a moment,
during which we seemed to acknowledge in the only way that
was possible the presence of universal fate; the sunny stillness
took no pity, and my thought, as I was sure Paraday’s was doing,
performed within the minute a great distant revolution. I saw
just how emphatic I should make my rejoinder to Mr. Pinhorn,
and that having come, like Mr. Morrow, to betray, I must
remain as long as possible to save. Not because I had brought
my mind back, but because our visitor’s last words were in my
ear, I presently inquired with gloomy irrelevance if Guy Wals-
ingham were a woman.
“Oh yes, a mere pseudonym; but convenient, you know, for
a lady who goes in for the larger latitude. Obsessions, by Miss
So-and-So would look a little odd, but men are more naturally
indelicate. Have you peeped into Obsessions?”Mr. Morrow
continued sociably to our companion.
Paraday, still absent, remote, made no
answer, as if he had not
heard the question: a manifestation that appeared to suit the
cheerful Mr. Morrow as well as any other. Imperturbably bland,
he was a man of resources — he only needed to be on the spot.
He had pocketed the whole poor place while Paraday and I were
woolgathering, and I could imagine that he had already got his
heads. His system, at any rate, was justified by the in-
evitability with which I replied, to save my friend the trouble:
“Dear, no; he hasn’t read it. He doesn’t read such things!” I
“Things that are too far over the fence, eh?” I was indeed a
godsend to Mr. Morrow. It was the psychological moment; it
determined the appearance of his notebook, which, however, he at
first kept slightly behind him, as the dentist, approaching his
victim, keeps his horrible forceps. “Mr. Paraday holds with the
good old proprieties — I see!” And, thinking of the thirty-seven
influential journals, I found myself, as I found poor Paraday, help-
lessly gazing at the promulgation of this ineptitude. “There’s
no point on which distinguished views are so acceptable as on this
question — raised perhaps more strikingly than ever by Guy Wals-
ingham— of the permissibility of the larger latitude. I have an
appointment, precisely in connection with it, next week, with
Dora Forbes, the author of ‘The Other Way Round,’ which
everybody is talking about. Has Mr. Paraday glanced at ‘The
Other Way Round’?”Mr. Morrow now frankly appealed to
me. I took upon myself to repudiate the supposition, while our
companion, still silent, got up nervously and walked away. His
visitor paid no heed to his withdrawal; he only opened out the
notebook with a more motherly pat. “Dora Forbes, I gather, takes
the ground, the same as Guy Walsingham’s, that the larger
latitude has simply got to come. He holds that it bas got to
squarely faced. Of course his sex makes him a less prejudiced
witness. But an authoritative word from Mr. Paraday— from the
point of view of his sex, you know — would go right round the
globe. He takes the line that we haven’t got to face it?”
I was bewildered; it sounded somehow as if there were three
sexes. My interlocutor’s pencil was poised, my private responsi-
bility great. I simply sat staring, however, and only, found
presence of mind to say: “Is this Miss Forbes a gentleman?”
Mr. Morrow hesitated an instant, smiling:
“It wouldn’t be
“Miss” — there’s a wife!”
“I mean is she a man?”
“The wife?” — Mr. Morrow, for a
moment, was as confused
as myself. But when I explained that I alluded to Dora Forbes
in person he informed me, with visible amusement at my being
so out of it, that this was the pen-name of an indubitable male
— he had a big red moustache. “He only assumes a feminine
personality because the ladies are such popular favourites. A great
deal of interest is felt in this assumption, and there’s every pro-
spect of its being widely imitated.” Our host at this moment
joined us again, and Mr. Morrow remarked invitingly that he
should be happy to make a note of any observation the movement
in question, the bid for success under a lady’s name, might suggest
to Mr. Paraday. But the poor man, without catching the allu-
tion, excused himself, pleading that, though he was greatly
honoured by his visitor’s interest, he suddenly felt unwell and
should have to take leave of him — have to go and lie down and
keep quiet. His young friend might be trusted to answer for
him, but he hoped Mr. Morrow didn’t expect great things even
of his young friend. His young friend, at this moment, looked
at Neil Paraday with an anxious eye, greatly wondering if he were
doomed to be ill again; but Paraday’s own kind face met his ques-
tion reassuringly, seemed to say in a glance intelligible enough:
“Oh, I’m not ill, but I’m scared: get him out of the house as
quietly as possible.” Getting newspaper-men out of the house was
odd business for an emissary of Mr. Pinhorn, and I was so exhila-
rated by the idea of it that I called after him as he left us:
“Read the article in The Empire, and
you’ll soon be all
“Delicious my having come down to tell him of it!”Mr.
Morrow ejaculated. “My cab was at the door twenty minutes
after The Empire had been laid upon my breakfast-table. Now
what have you got for me?” he continued, dropping again into
his chair, from which, however, the next moment he quickly
rose. “I was shown into the drawing-room, but there must be
more to see—his study, his literary sanctum, the little things he
has about, or other domestic objects or features. He wouldn’t be
lying down on his study-table? There’s a great interest always
felt in the scene of an author’s labours. Sometimes we’re favoured
with very delightful peeps. Dora Forbes showed me all his table-
drawers, and almost jammed my hand into one into which I made
a dash! I don’t ask that of you, but if we could talk things
over right there where he sits I feel as if I should get the
I had no wish whatever to be rude to Mr.
Morrow, I was
much too initiated not to prefer the safety of other ways; but I
had a quick inspiration and I entertained an insurmountable, an
almost superstitious objection to his crossing the threshold of my
friend’s little lonely, shabby, consecrated workshop. “No,
we sha’n’t get at his lire that way,” I said. “The way to get at
his lire is to — But wait a moment!” I broke off and went
quickly into the house; then, in three minutes, I reappeared before
Mr. Morrow with the two volumes of Paraday’s new book.
“His life’s here” I went on, “and I’m so full of this admirable
thing that I can’t talk of anything else. The artist’s life’s his
work, and this is the place to observe him. What he has to tell
viewer’s the best reader.”
Mr. Morrow good-humouredly protested. “Do
you mean to
say that no other source of information should be opened to us?”
“None other till this particular one — by far the most copious —
has been quite exhausted. Have you exhausted it, my dear sir
Had you exhausted it when you came down here? It seems to
me in our time almost wholly neglected, and something should
surely be done to restore its ruined credit. It’s the course to
which the artist himself at every step, and with such pathetic
confidence, refers us. This last book of Mr. Paraday’s is full of
“Revelations.” panted Mr. Morrow,
whom I had forced
again into his chair.
“The only kind that count. It tells you with a perfection that
seems to me quite final all the author thinks, for instance, about the
advent of the larger latitude.”
“Where does it do that?” asked Mr.
Morrow, who had picked
up the second volume and was insincerely thumbing it.
“Everywhere — in the whole treatment of his case. Extract the
opinion, disengage the answer — those are the real acts of homage.”
Mr. Morrow, after a minute, tossed the book
away. “Ah, but
you mustn’t take me for a reviewer.”
“Heaven forbid I should take you for anything so dreadful!
You came down to perform a little act of sympathy, and so, I
may confide to you, did I. Let us perform our little act together.
These pages overflow with the testimony we want: let us read
them and taste them and interpret them. You will of course
have perceived for yourself that one scarcely does read Neil
Paraday till one reads him aloud; he gives out to the ear an extra-
Ordinary quality, and it’s only when you expose it confidently to
again and let me listen, while you pay it out, to that wonderful
fifteenth chapter. If you feel that you can’t do it justice, compose
yourself to attention while I produce for you — I think I can! —
this scarcely less admirable ninth.”
Mr. Morrow gave me a straight glance which
was as hard as a
blow between the eyes; he had turned rather red and a question had
formed itselfin his mind which reached my sense as distinctly as if
he had uttered it: “What sort of a damned fool are you?” Then
he got up, gathering together his hat and gloves, buttoning his
coat, projecting hungrily all over the place the big transparency of
his mask. It seemed to flare over Fleet Street and somehow
made the actual spot distressingly humble: there was so little for
it to feed on unless he counted the blisters of our stucco or saw
his way to do something with the roses. Even the poor roses
were common kinds. Presently his eyes fell upon the manuscript
from which Paraday had been reading to me and which still lay on
the bench. As my own followed them I saw that it looked
promising, looked pregnant, as if it gently throbbed with the lire
the reader had given it. Mr. Morrow indulged in a nod toward
it and a vague thrust of his umbrella. “What’s that?”
“Oh, it’s a plan — a secret.”
“A secret!” There was an instant’s silence, and then Mr.
Morrow made another movement. I may have been mistaken,
but it affected me as the translated impulse of the desire to lay
hands on the manuscript, and this led me to indulge in a quick
anticipatory grab which may very well have seemed ungraceful, or
even impertinent, and which at any rate left Mr. Paraday’s two
admirers very erect, glaring at each other while one of them held
a bundle of papers well behind him. An instant later Mr.
Morrow quitted me abruptly, as if he had really carried some-
I only grasped my manuscript the tighter. He went to the
back-door of the house, the one he had come out from, but on
trying the handle he appeared to find it fastened. So he passed
round into the front garden, and, by listening intently enough, I
could presently hear the outer gate close behind him with a bang.
I thought again of the thirty-seven influential journals and
wondered what would be his revenge. I hasten to add that he was
rnagnanimous: which was just the most dreadful thing he could
have been. The Tatler published a charming, chatty, familiar
account of Mr. Paraday’s “Home-life,” and on the wings of the
thirty-seven influential journals it went, to use Mr. Morrow’s own
expression, right round the globe. VI
A week later, early in May, my glorified friend came up to
town, where, it may be veraciously recorded, he was the king of
the beasts of the year. No advancement was ever more rapid, no
exaltation more complete, no bewilderment more teachable. His
book sold but moderately, though the article in The Empire had
done unwonted wonders for it; but he circulated in person in a
manner that the libraries might well have envied. His formula
had been found — he was a revelation. His momentary terror
had been real, just as mine had been — the overclouding of his
passionate desire to be left to finish his work. He was far from
unsociable, but he had the finest conception of being let alone
that I have ever met. For the time, however, he took his profit
where it seemed most to crowd upon him, having in his pocket
Observation too was a kind of work and experience a kind of
success; London dinners were all material and London ladies
were fruitful toil. “No one has the faintest conception of what
I’m trying for,” he said to me, “and not many have read three
pages that I’ve written; but they’re all enthusiastic, enchanted,
devoted.” He found himself in truth equally amused and fatigued;
but the fatigue had the merit of being a new sort, and the phantas-
magoric town was perhaps after all less of a battlefield than the
haunted study. He once told me that he had had no personal life
to speak of since his fortieth year, but had had more than was
good for him before. London closed the parenthesis and exhibited
him in relations; one of the most inevitable of these being that in
which he found himself to Mrs. Weeks Wimbush, wife of the
boundless brewer and proprietress of the universal menagerie.
In this establishment, as everybody knows, on occasions when the
crush is great, the animais rub shoulders freely with the spectators
and the lions sit down for whole evenings with the lambs.
It had been ominously clear to me from the first that in Neil
Paraday this lady, who, as all the world agreed, was tremendous
fun, considered that she had secured a prime attraction, a creature
of almost heraldic oddity. Nothing could exceed ber enthusiasm
over ber capture, and nothing could exceed the confused apprehen-
sions it excited in me. I had an instinctive fear of her which I
tried without effect to conceal from her victim, but which I let
her perceive with perfect impunity. Paraday heeded it, but she
never did, for her conscience was that of a romping child. She was
a blind, violent force, to which I could attach no more idea of
responsibility than to the hum of a spinning-top. It was difficult
to say what she conduced to but to circulation. She was constructed
of sted and leather, and all I asked of her for our tractable friend
of indiarubber, but my thoughts were fixed on the day he should
resume his shape or at least get back into his box. It was evi-
dently all right, but I should be glad when it was well over. I
was simply nervous — the impression was ineffaceable of the hour
when, after Mr. Morrow’s departure, I had found him on the sofa
in his study. That pretext of indisposition had not in the least
been meant as a snub to the envoy of The Tatler — he had gone
to lie down in very truth. He had felt a pang of his old pain, the
result of the agitation wrought in him by this forcing open of a
new period. His old programme, his old ideal even had to be
changed. Say what one would, success was a complication and
recognition had to be reciprocal. The monastic life, the pious
illumination of the missal in the convent cell were things of the
gathered past. It didn’t engender despair, but it at least required
adjustment. Before I left him on that occasion we had passed a
bargain, my part of which was that I should make it my business
to take care of him. Let whoever would represent the interest in
his presence (I had a mystical prevision of Mrs. Weeks Wimbush),
I should represent the interest in his work — in other words, in his
absence. These two interests were in their essence opposed; and
I doubt, as youth is fleeting, if I shall ever again know the
intensity of joy with which I felt that in so good a cause I was
willing to make myself odious.
One day, in Sloane Street, I found myself
landlord, who had come to the door in answer to my knock. Two
vehicles, a barouche and a smart hansom, were drawn up before
“In the drawing-room, sir? Mrs. Weeks Wimbush.”
“And in the dining-room?”
“A young lady, sir — waiting: I think a foreigner.”
It was three o’clock, and on days when Paraday didn’t lunch
out he attached a value to these subjugated hours. On which
days, however, didn’t the dear man lunch out? Mrs. Wimbush,
at such a crisis, would have rushed round immediately after her
own repast. I went into the dining-room first, postponing the
pleasure of seeing how, upstairs, the lady of the barouche would,
on my arrival, point the moral of my sweet solicitude. No one
took such an interest as herself in his doing only what was good
for him, and she was always on the spot to see that he did it.
She made appointments with him to discuss the best means of
economising his time and protecting his privacy. She further
made his health her special business, and had so much sympathy
with my own zeal for it that she was the author of pleasing
fictions on the subject of what my devotion had led me to give
up. I gave up nothing (I don’t count Mr. Pinhorn) because I
had nothing, and all I had as yet achieved was to find myself
also in the menagerie. I had dashed in to save my friend, but I
had only got domesticated and wedged; so that I could do nothing
for him but exchange with him over people’s heads looks of
intense but futile intelligence.
The young lady in the dining-room had a brave face, black
hair, blue eyes, and in her lap a big volume. “I’ve come for his
autograph,” she said, when I had explained to her that I was
under bonds to see people for him when he was occupied. “I’ve
been waiting half an bout, but I’m prepared to wait all day.” I
don’t know whether it was this that told me she was American,
of her race. I was enlightened probably not so much by the
spirit of the utterance as by some quality of its sound. At an
y rate I saw she had an individual patience and a lovely frock, to-
gether with an expression that played among her pretty features
as a breeze among flowers. Putting her book upon the table, she
showed me a massive album, showily bound and full of autographs
of price. The collection of faded notes, of still more faded
“thoughts,” of quotations, platitudes, signatures, represented a
“Most people apply to Mr. Paraday by letter, you know,” I said.
“Yes, but he doesn’t answer, I’ve written three times.”
“Very true,” I reflected; “the sort of letter you mean goes
straight into the fire.”
“How do you know the sort I mean?” my interlocutress
asked. She had blushed and smiled and in a moment she added:
“I don’t believe he gets many like them!”
“I’m sure they’re beautiful, but he burns without reading.” I
didn’t add that I had told him he ought to.
“Isn’t he then in danger of burning things of importance?”
“He would be, if distinguished men hadn’t an infallible nose for
a petition.” She looked at me a moment — her face was sweet and gay.
“Do you burn without reading, too?” she asked;
in answer to
which I assured her that if she would trust me with her repository
I would see that Mr. Paraday should write his name in it.
She considered a little. “That’s very well, but it wouldn’t
make me see him.”
“Do you want very much to see him?” It seemed ungracious
to catechise so charming a creature, but somehow I had never yet
taken my duty to the great author so seriously.
“Enough to have come from America for the
I stared. “All alone?”
“I don’t see that that’s exactly your business; but if it will
make me more appealing I will confess that I am quite by myself.
I had to come alone or not at all.”
She was interesting; I could imagine that she had lost parents,
natural protectors — could conceive even that she had inherited
money. I was in a phase of my own fortunes when keeping
hansoms at doors seemed to me pure swagger. As a trick of
this frank and delicate girl, however, it became romantic — a part
of the general romance of her freedom, her errand, her innocence.
The confidence of young Americans was notorious, and I speedily
arrived at a conviction that no impulse could have been more
generous than the impulse that had operated here. I foresaw at
that moment that it would make her my peculiar charge, just as cir-
cumstances had made Neil Paraday. She would be another person
to look after, and one’s honour would be concerned in guiding
her straight. These things became clearer to me later; at the
instant I had scepticism enough to observe to her, as I turned the
pages of her volume, that her net had, all the same, caught many a
big fish. She appeared to have had fruitful access to the great
ones of the earth; there were people moreover whose signatures
she had presumably secured without a personal interview. She
couldn’t have waylaid George Washington and Friedrich Schiller
and Hannah More. She met this argument, to my surprise, by
throwing up the album without a pang. It wasn’t even her own;
she was responsible for none of its treasures. It belonged to a
girl-friend in America, a young lady in a western city. This
young lady had insisted on her bringing it, to pick up more auto-
graphs: she thought they might like to see, in Europe, in what
company they would be. The girlfriend, the western city,
a story as strange to me, and as beguiling, as some tale in the
Arabian Nights. Thus it was that my informant had encum-
bered herself with the ponderous tome; but she hastened to as
sure me that this was the first time she had brought it out. For her
visit to Mr. Paraday it had simply been a pretext. She didn’t
really care a straw that he should write his name; what she did
want was to look straight into his face.
I demurred a little. “And why do you require to do that?”
“Because I just love him!” Before I could recover from the
agitating effect of this crystal ring my companion had continued:
“Hasn’t there ever been any face that you’ve wanted to look
How could I tell her so soon how much I appreciated the
opportunity of looking into hers? I could only assent in general
to the proposition that there were certainly for every one such
faces; and I felt that the crisis demanded all my lucidity, all my
wisdom. “Oh, yes, I’m a student of physiognomy. Do you
mean,” I pursued, “that you’ve a passion for Mr. Paraday’s
“They’ve been everything to me — I know them by heart.
They’ve completely taken hold of me. There’s no author about
whom I feel as I do about Neil Paraday.”
“Permit me to remark then,” I presently rejoined, “that
you’re one of the right sort.”
“One of the enthusiasts? Of course I am!”
“Oh, there are enthusiasts who are quite of the wrong. I
mean you’re one of those to whom an appeal can be made.”
“An appeal?” Her face lighted as if with the chance of some
If she was ready for one it was only waiting for her, and in a
him. Go away without it. That will be far better.”
She looked mystified; then she turned visibly pale. “Why,
hasn’t he any personal charm?” The girl was terrible and laugh-
able in her bright directness.
“Ah, that dreadful word personal!” I exclaimed; “we’re
dying of it, and you women bring it out with murderous effect.
When you encounter a genius as fine as this idol of ours, let him
off the dreary duty of being a personality as well. Know him
only by what’s best in him, and spare him for the same sweet
My young lady continued to look at me in confusion and mis-
trust, and the result of her reflection on what I had just said
was to make her suddenly break out: “Look here, sir — what’s the
matter with him?”
“The matter with him is that, if he doesn’t look out, people
will eat a great hole in his life.”
She considered a moment. “He hasn’t any disfigurement?”
“Nothing to speak of!”
“Do you mean that social engagements interfere with his occu-
“That but feebly expresses it.”
“So that he can’t give himself up to his beautiful imagin-
“He’s badgered, bothered, overwhelmed, on the pretext of
being applauded. People expect him to give them his time, his
golden time, who wouldn’t themselves give five shillings for one of
“Five? I’d give five thousand!”
“Give your sympathy — give your forbearance. Two-thirds of
those who approach him only do it to advertise themselves.”
“Why, it’s too bad!” the girl exclaimed, with the face of an
I followed up my advantage. “There’s a lady with him now
who’s a terrible complication, and who yet hasn’t read, I am sure,
ten pages that he ever wrote.”
My visitor’s wide eyes grew tenderer. “Then how does she
“Without ceasing. I only mention her as a single case. Do
you want to know how to show a superlative consideration?
Simply, avoid him.”
“Avoid him?” she softly wailed.
“Don’t force him to have to take account of you; admire him
in silence, cultivate him at a distance and secretly, appropriate his
message. Do you want to know,” I continued, warming to
my idea, “how to perform an act of homage really sublime?”
Then as she hung on mg words: “Succeed in never seeing
“Never?” she pathetically gasped.
“The more you get into his writings the less you’ll want to;
and you’ll be immensely sustained by the thought of the good
you’re doing him.”
She looked at me without resentment or spite, and at the truth
I had put before her with candour, credulity and pity. I was
afterwards happy to remember that she must have recognised in
my face the liveliness of my interest in herself. “I think I see
what you mean.”
“Oh, I express it badly; but I should be delighted if you would
let me come to see you — to explain it better.”
She made no response to this, and her thoughtful eyes fell on
the big album, on which she presently laid her hands as if to take
it away. “I did use to say out West that they might write a little
The Yellow Book — Vol. I. C
the thoughts and style a little more.”
“What do they care for the thoughts and style? They didn’t
even understand you. I’m not sure,” I added, “that I do myself,
and I daresay that you by no means make me out.” She had got
up to go, and though I wanted her to succeed in not seeing Neil
Paraday I wanted her also, inconsequently, to remain in the house.
I was at any rate far from desiring to hustle her off. As Mrs.
Weeks Wimbush, upstairs, was still saving our friend in her own
way, I asked my young lady to let me briefly relate, in illustration
of my point, the little incident of my having gone clown into the
country for a profane purpose and been converted on the spot to
holiness. Sinking again into her chair to listen, she showed a deep
interest in the anecdote. Then, thinking it over gravely she ex-
claimed with her odd intonation:
“Yes, but you do see him!” I had to admit that this was the
case; and I was not so prepared with an effective attenuation as I
could have wished. She eased the situation off, however, by the
charming quaintness with which she finally said: “Well, I
wouldn’t want him to be lonely!” This time she rose in earnest,
but I persuaded her to let me keep the album to show to Mr.
Paraday. I assured her I would bring it back to her myself.
“Well, you’ll find my address somewhere in it, on a paper!” she
sighed resignedly, as she took leave.
I blush to confess it, but I invited Mr.
Paraday that very day
to transcribe into the album one of his most characteristic passages.
it — her ominous name was Miss Hurter and she lived at an hotel;
quite agreeing with him moreover as to the wisdom of getting
rid with equal promptitude of the book itself. This was why I
carried it to Albemarle Street no later than on the morrow. I
failed to find her at home, but she wrote to me and I went again:
she wanted so much to hear more about Neil Paraday. I returned
repeatedly, I may briefly declare, to supply her with this informa-
tion. She had been immensely taken, the more she thought of it,
with that idea of mine about the act of homage: it had ended by
filling her with a generous rapture. She positively desired to do
something sublime for him, though indeed I could see that, as this
particular flight was difficult, she appreciated the fact that my visits
kept her up. I had it on my conscience to keep her up; I
neglected nothing that would contribute to it, and her conception
of our cherished author’s independence became at last as fine as his
own conception. “Read him, read him,” I constantly repeated;
while, seeking him in his works, she represented herself as con-
vinced that, according to my assurance, this was the system that
had, as she expressed it, weaned her. We read him together when
I could find time, and the generous creature’s sacrifice was fed by
our conversation. There were twenty selfish women, about whom
I told her, who stirred her with a beautiful rage. Immediately
after my first visit her sister, Mrs. Milsom, came over from Paris,
and the two ladies began to present, as they called it, their letters.
I thanked our stars that none had been presented to Mr. Paraday.
They received invitations and dined out, and some of these occa-
sions enabled Fanny Hurter to perform, for consistency’s sake,
touching feats of submission. Nothing indeed would now have
induced her even to look at the object of her admiration. Once,
hearing his name announced at a party, she instantly left the room
another time, when I was at the opera with them (Mrs. Milsom
had invited me to their box) I attempted to point Mr. Paraday
out to her in the stalls. On this she asked her sister to change
places with her, and, while that lady devoured the great man
through a powerful glass, presented, all the rest of the evening,
her inspired back to the house. To torment her tenderly I pressed
the glass upon her, telling her how wonderfully near it brought our
friend’s handsome head. By way of answer she simply looked at me
in grave silence; on which I saw that tears had gathered in her eyes.
These tears, I may remark, produced an effect on me of which
the end is not yet. There was a moment when I felt it my
duty to mention them to Neil Paraday; but I was deterred
by the reflection that there were questions more relevant to his
These questions indeed, by the end of the season, were reduced
to a single one — the question of reconstituting, so far as might be
possible, the conditions under which he had produced his best
work. Such conditions could never all come back, for there was
a new one that took up too much place; but some perhaps were
not beyond recall. I wanted above all things to see him sit down
to the subject of which, on my making his acquaintance, he had
read me that admirable sketch. Something told me there was no
security but in his doing so before the new factor, as we used to say
at Mr. Pinhorn’s, should render the problem incalculable. It only
half reassured me that the sketch itself was so copious and so eloquent
that even at the worst there would be the making of a small but com-
plete book, a tiny volume which, for the faithful, might well become
an object of adoration. There would even not be wanting critics
to declare, I foresaw, that the plan was a thing to be more thankful
for than the structure to have been reared on it. My impatience
tions. He had, on coming up to town, begun to sit for his portrait
to a young painter, Mr. Rumble, whose little game, as we used to
say at Mr. Pinhorn’s, was to be the first to perch on the shoulders
of renown. Mr. Rumble’s studio was a circus in which the man
of the hour, and still more the woman, leaped through the hoops
of his showy frames almost as electrically as they burst into tele-
grams and “specials.” He pranced into the exhibitions on their
back; he was the reporter on canvas, the Vandyke up to date,
and there was one roaring year in which Mrs. Bounder and Miss
Braby, Guy Walsingham and Dora Forbes proclaimed in chorus
from the same pictured walls that no one had yet got ahead of
Paraday had been promptly caught and
saddled, accepting with
characteristic good-humour his confidential hint that to figure in
his show was not so much a consequence as a cause of immortality.
From Mrs. Wimbush to the last “representative” who called to
ascertain his twelve favourite dishes, it was the same ingenuous
assumption that he would rejoice in the repercussion. There
were moments when I fancied I might have had more patience
with them if they had not been so fatally benevolent. I hated,
at all events, Mr. Rumble’s picture, and had my bottled resent-
ment ready when, later on, I found my distracted friend had
been stuffed by Mrs. Wimbush into the mouth of another cannon.
A young artist in whom she was intensely interested, and who
had no connection with Mr. Rumble, was to show how far he
could shoot him. Poor Paraday, in return, was naturally to write
something somewhere about the young artist. She played her
victims against each other with admirable ingenuity, and her
establishment was a huge machine in which the tiniest and the
biggest wheels went round to the same treadle. I had a scene
man was to exercise his genius — not to serve as a hoarding for
pictorial posters. The people I was perhaps angriest with were
the editors of magazines who had introduced what they called new
features, so aware were they that the newest feature of all would
be to make him grind their axes by contributing his views on
vital topics and taking part in the periodical prattle about the
future of fiction. I made sure that before I should have done
with him there would scarcely be a current form of words left
me to be sick of; but meanwhile I could make surer still of my
animosity to bustling ladies for whom he drew the water that
irrigated their social flower-beds.
I had a battle with Mrs. Wimbush over the
artist she protected,
and another over the question of a certain week, at the end of
July, that Mr. Paraday appeared to have contracted to spend with
her in the country. I protested against this visit; I intimated
that he was too unwell for hospitality without a nuance, for caresses
without imagination; I begged he might rather take the time in
some restorative way. A sultry air of promises, of reminders hung
over his August, and he would great]y profit by the interval of
test. He had not told me he was ill again — that he had a
warning; but I had not needed this, and I found his reticence
his worst symptom. The only thing he said to me was that he
believed a comfortable attack of something or other would set him
up: it would put out of the question everything but the exemp-
tions he prized. I am afraid I shall have presented him as a
martyr in a very small cause if I fail to explain that he surren-
dered himself much more liberally than I surrendered him. He
filled his lungs, for the most part, with the comedy of his queer
fate: the tragedy was in the spectacles through which I chose to
look. He was conscious of inconvenience, and above all of a
in the bells of his accession? The sagacity and the jealousy were
mine, and his the impressions and the anecdotes. Of course, as
regards Mrs. Wimbush; I was worsted in my encounters, for was
not the state of his health the very reason for his coming to her
at Prestidge? Wasn’t it precisely at Prestidge that he was to
be coddled, and wasn’t the dear Princess coming to help her to
coddle him? The dear Princess, now on a visit to England, was
of a famous foreign house, and, in her gilded cage, with her retinue
of keepers and feeders, was the most expensive specimen in the
good lady’s collection. I don’t think her august presence had had
to do with Paraday’s consenting to go, but it is not impossible
that he had operated as a bait to the illustrious stranger. The
party had been made up for him, Mrs. Wimbush averred, and
every one was counting on it, the dear Princess most of all. If he
was well enough he was to read them something absolutely fresh,
and it was on that particular prospect the Princess had set her
heart. She was so fond of genius, in any walk of life, and she was
so used to it, and understood it so well; she was the greatest of
Mr. Paraday’s admirers, she devoured everything he wrote. And
then he read like an angel. Mrs. Wimbush reminded me that he
had again and again given her, Mrs. Wimbush, the privilege of
listening to him.
I looked at her a moment. “What has he read to you” I
For a moment too she met my eyes, and for the fraction of a
moment she hesitated and coloured, “Oh, all sorts of things!”
I wondered whether this were a perfect fib or only an imperfect
Recollection, and she quite understood my unuttered comment on
her perception of such things. But if she could forget Neil
Paraday’s beauties she could of course forget my rudeness, and
Prestidge. This time she might indeed have had a story about
what I had given up to be near the toaster. I addressed from
that fine residence several communications to a young lady in
London, a young lady whom, I confess, I quitted with reluctance
and whom the reminder of what she herself could give up was
required to make me quit at all. It adds to the gratitude I owe
her on other grounds that she kindly allows me to transcribe from
my letters a few of the passages in which that hateful sojourn is
candidly commemorated. IX
“I suppose I ought to enjoy the joke,” I wrote, “of what’s
going on here, but somehow it doesn’t amuse me. Pessimism on
the contrary possesses me and cynicism solicits. I positively feel
my own flesh sore from the brass nails in Neil Paraday’s social
harness. The house is full of people who like him, as they
mention, awfully, and with whom his talent for talking nonsense
has prodigious success. I delight in his nonsense myself; why is
it therefore that I grudge these happy folk their artless satisfac-
tion? Mystery of the human heart — abyss of the critical spirit!
Mrs. Wimbush thinks she can answer that question, and as my
want of gaiety has at last worn out her patience she has given me
a glimpse of her shrewd guess. I am made restless by the selfish-
ness of the insincere friend — I want to monopolise Paraday in
order that he may push me on. To be intimate with him is a
feather in my cap; it gives me an importance that I couldn’t
naturally pretend to, and I seek to deprive him of social refresh-
ment because I fear that meeting more disinterested people may
here are his particular admirers and have been carefully selected as
such. There is supposed to be a copy of his last book in the
house, and in the hall I come upon ladies, in attitudes, bending
gracefully over the first volume. I discreetly avert my eyes, and
when I next look round the precarious joy has been superseded by
the book of life. There is a sociable circle or a confidential
couple, and the relinquished volume lies open on its face, as if it
had been dropped under extreme coercion. Somebody else pre-
sently finds it and transfers it, with its air of momentary deso-
lation, to another piece of furniture. Every one is asking every
one about it all day, and every one is telling every one where they
put it last. I’m sure it’s rather smudgy about the twentieth page.
I have a strong impression too that the second volume is lost —
has been packed in the bag of some departing guest; and yet
everybody has the impression that somebody else has read to the
end. You see therefore that the beautiful book plays a great
part in our conversation. Why should I take the occasion of
such distinguished honours to say that I begin to see deeper into
Gustave Flaubert’s doleful refrain about the hatred of literature?
I refer you again to the perverse constitution of man.
“The Princess is a massive lady with the
organisation of an
athlete and the confusion of tongues of a valet de place. She
contrives to commit herself extraordinarily little in a great many
languages, and is entertained and conversed with in detachments
and relays, like an institution which goes on from generation to
generation or a big building contracted for under a forfeit. She
can’t have a personal taste, any more than, when her husband
succeeds, she can have a personal crown, and her opinion on any
matter is rusty and heavy and plain — made, in the night of ages,
to last and be transmitted. I feel as if I ought to pay some one a
world and has never perceived anything, and the echoes of her
education respond awfully to the rash footfall — I mean the casual
remark — in the cold Valhalla of her memory. Mrs. Wimbush
delights in her wit and says there is nothing so charming as to
hear Mr. Paraday draw it out. He is perpetually detailed for this
job, and he tells me it has a peculiarly exhausting effect. Every
one is beginning — at the end of two days — to sidle obsequiously
away from her, and Mrs. Wimbush pushes him again and again into
the breach: None of the uses I have yet seen him put to irritate
me quite so much. He looks very fagged, and has at last confessed
to me that his condition makes him uneasy — has even promised
me that he will go straight home instead of returning to his final
engagements in town. Last night I had some talk with him
about going to-day, cutting his visit short; so sure am I that he
will be better as soon as he is shut up in his lighthouse. He told
me that this is what he would like to do; reminding me, how-
ever, that the first lesson of his greatness has been precisely that
he can’t do what he likes. Mrs. Wimbush would never forgive
him if he should leave her before the Princess has received the
last hand. When I say that a violent rupture with our hostess
would be the best thing in the world for him he gives me to
understand that if his reason assents to the proposition his courage
hangs wofully back. He makes no secret of being mortally afraid
of her, and when I ask what harm she can do him that she hasn’t
already done he simply repeats: “I’m afraid, I’m afraid! Don’t
inquire too closely,” he said last night; “only believe that I feel
a sort of terror. It’s strange, when she’s so kind! At any rate,
I would as soon overturn that piece of priceless Sèvres as tell her
that I must go before my date.” It sounds dreadfully weak, but
he has some reason, and he pays for his imagination, which puts
even against himself, their feelings, their appetites, their motives.
He’s so beastly intelligent. Besides, the famous reading is still to
come off, and it has been postponed a day, to allow Guy Walsing-
ham to arrive. It appears that this eminent lady is staying at a
house a few miles off, which means of course that Mrs. Wimbush
has forcibly annexed her. She’s to come over in a day or two —
Mrs. Wimbush wants her to hear Mr. Paraday.
“To-day’s wet and cold, and several of the company, at the
invitation of the Duke, have driven over to luncheon at Bigwood.
I saw poor Paraday wedge himself, by command, into the little
supplementary seat of a brougham in which the Princess and our
hostess were already ensconced. If the front glass isn’t open on
his dear old back perhaps he’ll survive. Bigwood, I believe, is very
grand and frigid, all marble and precedence, and I wish him well
out of the adventure. I can’t tell you how much more and more
your attitude to him, in the midst of all this, shines out by contrast.
I never willingly talk to these people about him, but see what a
comfort I find it to scribble to you! I appreciate it; it keeps me
warm; there are no fires in the house. Mrs. Wimbush goes by
the calendar, the temperature goes by the weather, the weather
goes by God knows what, and the Princess is easily heated. I
have nothing but my acrimony to warm me, and have been out
under an umbrella to restore my circulation. Coming in an hour
ago, I found Lady Augusta Minch rummaging about the hall.
When I asked her what she was looking for she said she had
mislaid something that Mr. Paraday had lent her. I ascertained
in a moment that the article in question is a manuscript and I
have a foreboding that it’s the noble morsel he read me six weeks
ago. When I expressed my surprise that he should have passed
about anything so precious (I happen to know it’s his only copy —
to me that she had not had it from himself, but from Mrs.
Wimbush, who had wished to give her a glimpse of it as a salve
for her not being able to stay and hear it read.
“”Is that the piece he’s to read,” I asked, “when Guy Wals-
“”It’s not for Guy Walsingham they’re
waiting now, it’s for
Dora Forbes,”Lady Augusta said. “She’s coming, I believe, early
to-morrow. Meanwhile Mrs. Wimbush has found out about him,
and is actively wiring to him. She says he also must hear him.”
“”You bewilder me a little,” I replied; “in the age we live in
one gets lost among the genders and the pronouns. The clear
thing is that Mrs. Wimbush doesn’t guard such a treasure as
jealously as she might.”
“”Poor dear, she has the Princess to
guard! Mr. Paraday lent
her the manuscript to look over.”
“”Did she speak as if it were the morning paper?”
“Lady Augusta stared — my irony was lost
upon her. “She
didn’t have time, so she gave me a chance first; because unfor-
tunately I go to-morrow to Bigwood.”
“”And your chance has only proved a chance to lose it?”
“”I haven’t lost it. I remember now — it was very stupid of
me to have forgotten. I told my maid to give it to Lord Dori-
mont — or at least to his man.”
“”And Lord Dorimont went away directly after luncheon.”
“”Of course he gave it back to my maid — or else his man did,”
said Lady Augusta. “I daresay it’s all right.”
“The conscience of these people is like a summer sea. They
haven’t time to look over a priceless composition; they’ve only
time to kick it about the house. I suggested that the man, fired
with a noble emulation, had perhaps kept the work for his own
didn’t turn up again in time for the session appointed by out
hostess, the author wouldn’t have something else to read that would
do just as well. Their questions are too delightful! I declared
to Lady Augusta briefly that nothing in the world can ever do as
well as the thing that does best; and at this she looked a little
confused and scared. But I added that if the manuscript had gone
astray our little circle would have the less of an effort of attention
to make. The piece in question was very long — it would keep
them three hours.
“”Three hours! Oh, the Princess will get
up!” said Lady
“”I thought she was Mr. Paraday’s greatest admirer.”
“‘I daresay she is — she’s so awfully clever. But what’s the
use of being a Princess—”
“”If you can’t dissemble your love?” I asked, as Lady Augusta
was vague. She said, at any rate, that she would question her
maid; and I am hoping that when I go down to dinner I shall
find the manuscript has been recovered.””
“It has not been recovered,” I wrote early the next day, “and
I am moreover much troubled about out friend. He came back
from Bigwood with a chill and, being allowed to have a tire in his
room, lay down a while before dinner. I tried to send him to
bed and indeed thought I had put him in the way of it; but after
I had gone to dress Mrs. Wimbush came up to see him, with the
inevitable result that when I returned I found him under arms and
had brought him for his button-hole. He came down to dinner,
but Lady Augusta Minch was very shy of him. To-day he’s in
great pain, and the advent of those ladies — I mean of Guy
Walsingham and Dora Forbes— doesn’t at all console me. It
does Mrs. Wimbush, however, for she has consented to his re-
maining in bed, so that he may be all right to-morrow for the
séance. Guy Walsingham is already on the scene, and the doctor,
for Paraday, also arrived early. I haven’t yet seen the author of
‘Obsessions,’ but of course I’ve had a moment by myself with
the doctor. I tried to get him to say that out invalid must go
straight home — I mean to-morrow or next day; but he quite
refuses to talk about the future. Absolute quiet and warmth and
the regular administration of an important remedy are the points
he mainly insists on. He returns this afternoon, and I’m to go
back to see the patient at one o’clock, when he next takes his
medicine. It consoles me a little that he certainly won’t be able
to read — an exertion he was already more than unfit for. Lady
Augusta went off after breakfast: assuring me that her first care
would be to follow up the lost manuscript. I can see she thinks
me a shocking busybody and doesn’t understand my alarm, but
she will do what she can, for she’s a good-natured woman. “So
are they all honourable men.” That was precisely what made her
give the thing to Lord Dorimont and made Lord Dorimont bag
it. What use he has for it God only knows. I have the worst
forebodings, but somehow I’m strangely without passion — des-
perately calm. As I consider the unconscious, the well-meaning
ravages of our appreciative circle I bow my head in submission to
some great natural, some universal accident; I’m rendered almost
indifferent, in fact quite gay (ha-ha!) by the sense of immitigable
rate. Lady Augusta promises me to trace the precious object and
enough to play his part with it. The last evidence is that her
maid did give it to his lordship’s valet. One would think it was
some thrilling number of The Family Budget. Mrs. Wimbush,
who is aware of the accident, is much less agitated by it than she
would doubtless be were she not for the hour inevitably engrossed
with Guy Walsingham.”
Later in the day I informed my correspondent, for whom
indeed I kept a sort of diary of the situation, that I had made the
acquaintance of this celebrity and that she was a pretty little girl
who wore her hair in what used to be called a crop. She looked
so juvenile and so innocent that if, as Mr. Morrow had announced,
she was resigned to the larger latitude, her fortitude must have
come to her early. I spent most of the day hovering about Neil
Paraday’s room, but it was communicated to me from below that
Guy Walsingham, at Prestidge, was a success. Towards evening
I became conscious somehow that her resignation was contagious
and by the time the company separated for the night I was sure
that the larger latitude had been generally accepted. I thought of
Dora Forbes and felt that he had no time to lose. Before dinner
I received a telegram from Lady Augusta Minch. “Lord
Dorimont thinks he must have left bundle in train — inquire.”
How could I inquire — if I was to take the word as a command?
I was too worried and now too alarmed about Neil Paraday.
The doctor came back, and it was an immense satisfaction to me
to feel that he was wise and interested. He was proud of being
called to so distinguished a patient, but he admitted to me that
night that my friend was gravely iii. It was really a relapse, a
recrudescence of his old malady. There could be no question of
moving him: we must at any rate see first, on the spot, what
turn his condition would take. Meanwhile, on the morrow, he
and my spirits rose to such cheerfulness that I could almost laugh
over Lady Augusta’s second telegram: “Lord Dorimont’s servant
been to station — nothing found. Push inquiries.” I did laugh, I
am sure, as I remembered this was the mystic scroll I had scarcely
allowed poor Mr. Morrow to point his umbrella at. Fool that
I had been: the thirty-seven influential journals wouldn’t have
destroyed it, they would only have printed it. Of course I said
nothing to Paraday.
When the nurse arrived she turned me out of the room, on
which I went downstairs. I should premise that at breakfast the
news that our brilliant friend was doing well excited universal
complacency, and the Princess graciously remarked that he was
only to be commiserated for missing the society of Miss Collop.
Mrs. Wimbush, whose social gift never shone brighter than in the
dry decorum with which she accepted this blemish on her perfec-
tion, mentioned to me that Guy Walsingham had made a very
favourable impression on her Imperial Highness. Indeed I think
every one did so and that, like the money-market or the national
honour, her Imperial Highness was constitutionally sensitive.
There was a certain gladness, a perceptible bustle in the air, how-
ever, which I thought slightly anomalous in a house where a great
author lay critically ill. “Le roy est mort — vive le roy”: I was
reminded that another great author had already stepped into his
shoes. When I came down again after the nurse had taken
possession I found a strange gentleman hanging about the hall
and pacing to and fro by the closed door of the drawing-room.
This personage was florid and bald, he had a big red moustache
and wore showy knickerbockers — characteristics all that fitted into
my conception of the identity of Dora Forbes. In a moment I
saw what had happened: the author of ‘The Other Way Round’
scruple to restrain him from penetrating further. I recognised his
scruple when, pausing to listen at his gesture of caution, I heard a
shrill voice lifted in a prolonged monotonous quaver. The famous
reading had begun, only it was the author of ‘Obsessions’ who
now furnished the sacrifice. The new visitor whispered to me
that he judged something was going on that he oughtn’t to
“Miss Collop arrived last night” I
smiled, “and the Princess
has a thirst for the inédit.”
Dora Forbes lifted his bushy brows. “Miss Collop?”
“Guy Walsingham, your distinguished
confrère — or shall I
your formidable rival?”
“Oh!” growled Dora Forbes. Then he
added: “Shall I
spoil it if I go in?”
“I should think nothing could spoil it!” I ambiguously
Dora Forbes evidently felt the dilemma; he
gave an irritated
crook to his moustache. “ShallI go in?” he presently asked.
We looked at each other hard a moment; then I expressed
something bitter that was in me, expressed it in an infernal
“Yes!” After this I got out into the air, but not so quickly as
not to hear, as the door of the drawing-room opened, the dis-
concerted drop of Miss Collop’s public manner: she must have
been in the midst of the larger latitude. Producing with extreme
rapidity, Guy Walsingham has just published a work in which
amiable people who are not initiated have been pained to see the
genius of a sister-novelist held up to unmistakable ridicule; so
fresh an exhibition does it seem to them of the dreadful way men
have always treated women. Dora Forbes, it is true, at the
present hour, is immensely pushed by Mrs. Wimbush, and has sat
The Yellow Book—Vol. I, D
only in oils but in monumental alabaster.
What happened at Prestidge later in the day
is of course con-
temporary history. If the interruption I had whimsically sanc-
tioned was almost a scandal, what is to be said of that general
dispersal of the company which, under the doctor’s rule, began to
take place in the evening? His rule was soothing to behold, small
comfort as I was to have at the end. He decreed in the interest
of his patient an absolutely soundless house and a consequent
break-up of the party. Little country practitioner as he was, he
literally packed off the Princess. She departed as promptly as if
a revolution had broken out, and Guy Walsingham emigrated with
her. I was kindly permitted to remain, and this was not denied
even to Mrs. Wimbush. The privilege was withheld indeed
from Dora Forbes; so Mrs. Wimbush kept her latest capture
temporarily concealed. This was so little, however, her usual way
of dealing with her eminent friends that a couple of days of it
exhausted her patience, and she went up to town with him in
great publicity. The sudden turn for the worse her afflicted
guest had, after a brief improvement, taken on the third night
raised an obstacle to her seeing him before her retreat; a fortunate
circumstance doubtless, for she was fundamentally disappointed in
him. This was not the kind of performance for which she had
invited him to Prestidge, or invited the Princess. Let me hasten
to add that none of the generous acts which have characterised her
patronage of intellectual and other merit have done so much for
her reputation as her lending Neil Paraday the most beautiful of
her numerous homes to die in. He took advantage to the utmost
of the singular favour. Day by day I saw him sink, and I roamed
alone about the empty terraces and gardens. His wife never came
near him, but I scarcely noticed it: as I paced there with rage in
death it would fall to me perhaps to bring out in some charming
form, with notes, with the tenderest editorial care, that precious
heritage of his written project. But where wasthat precious
heritage, and were both the author and the book to have been
snatched from us? Lady Augusta wrote me that she had done
all she could and that poor Lord Dorimont, who had really been
worried to death, was extremely sorry. I couldn’t have the matter
out with Mrs. Wimbush, for I didn’t want to be taunted by her
with desiring to aggrandise myself by a public connection with
Mr. Paraday’s sweepings. She had signified her willingness to
meet the expense of all advertising, as indeed she was always ready
to do. The last night of the horrible series, the night before
he died, I put my ear closer to his pillow.
“That thing I read you that morning, you know.”
“In your garden — that dreadful day? Yes!”
“Won’t it do as it is?”
“It would have been a glorious book.”
“It is a glorious book,”Neil Paraday murmured. “Print it as
it stands — beautifully.”
“Beautifully!” I passionately promised.
It may be imagined whether, now that he has gone, the promise
seems to me less sacred. I am convinced that if such pages had
appeared in his lifetime the Abbey would hold him to-day. I
have kept the advertising in my own hands, but the manuscript
has not been recovered. It’s impossible, and at any rate intoler-
able, to suppose it can have been wantonly destroyed. Perhaps
some chance blundering hand, some brutal ignorance has lighted
kitchen-fires with it. Every stupid and hideous accident haunts
my meditations. My undiscouragable search for the lost treasure
would make a long chapter. Fortunately I have a devoted
indignation and a fresh idea and who maintains with intensity
that the prize will still turn up. Sometimes I believe her, but I
have quite ceased to believe myself. The only thing for us, at
all events, is to go on seeking and hoping together; and we should
be closely united by this firm tie even were we not at present by
VAST and mysterious brother, ‘ere was yet of me
So much as men may poise upon a needle’s end,
Still shook with laughter all this monstrous might of thee,
And still with haughty crest it called the morning friend.
Thy latticed column jetted up the bright blue air,
Tall as a mast it was, and stronger than a tower ;
Three hundred winters had beheld thee mighty there,
Before my little life had lived one little hour.
With rocky foot stern-set like iron in the land,
With leafy rustling crest the morning sows with pearls,
Huge as a minster, half in heaven men saw thee stand,
Thy rugged girth the waists of fifty Eastern girls.
Knotted and warted, slabbed and armoured like the hide
Of tropic elephant ; unstormable and steep
As some grim fortress with a princess-pearl inside,
Where savage guardian faces beard the bastioned keep :
So hard a rind, old tree, shielding so soft a heart,
A woman’s heart of tender little nestling leaves ;
Nor rind so hard but that a touch so soft can part,
And spring s first baby-bud an easy passage cleaves.
I picture thee within with dainty satin sides,
Where all the long day through the sleeping dryad dreams,
But when the moon bends low and taps thee thrice she glides,
Knowing the fairy knock, to bask within her beams.
And all the long night through, for him with eyes and ears,
She sways within thine arms and sings a fairy tune,
Till, startled with the dawn, she softly disappears,
And sleeps and dreams again until the rising moon.
But with the peep of day great bands of heavenly birds
Fill all thy branchy chambers with a thousand flutes,
And with the torrid noon stroll up the weary herds,
To seek thy friendly shade and doze about thy roots ;
Till with the setting sun they turn them once more home :
And, ere the moon dawns, for a brief enchanted space,
Weary with million miles, the sore-spent star-beams come,
And moths and bats hold witches sabbath in the place.
And then I picture thee some bloodstained Holyrood,
Dread haunted palace of the bat and owl, whence steal,
Shrouded all day, lost murdered spirits of the wood,
And fright young happy nests with homeless hoot and squeal.
Some Rizzio nightingale that plained adulterous love
Beneath the boudoir-bough of some fast-married bird,
Some dove that cooed to some one else s lawful dove,
And felt the dagger-beak pierce while his lady heard.
Then, maybe, dangling from thy gloomy gallows boughs,
A human corpse swings, mournful, rattling bones and chains—
His eighteenth century flesh hath fattened nineteenth century
Ghastly AEolian harp fingered of winds and rains.
Poor Rizpah comes to reap each
That once thrilled soft, a little limb, within her womb ;
And mark yon alchemist, with zodiac-spangled zone,
Wrenching the mandrake root that fattens in the gloom.
So rounds thy day, from maiden morn to haunted night,
From larks and sunlit dreams to owl and gibbering ghost ;
A catacomb of dark, a sponge of living light,
To the wide sea of air a green and welcome coast.
I seek a god, old tree : accept my worship, thou !
All other gods have failed me always in my need.
I hang my votive song beneath thy temple bough,
Unto thy strength I cry—Old monster, be my creed !
Give me to clasp this earth with feeding roots like thine,
To mount yon heaven with such star-aspiring head,
Fill full with sap and buds this shrunken life of mine,
And from my boughs O might such stalwart sons be shed !
With loving cheek pressed close against thy horny breast,
I hear the roar of sap mounting within thy veins ;
Tingling with buds, thy great hands open towards the west,
To catch the sweetheart wind that brings the sister rains.
O winds that blow from out the fruitful mouth of God,
O rains that softly fall from his all-loving eyes,
You that bring buds to trees and daisies to the sod,
O God’s best Angel of the Spring, in me arise.
A Defence of Cosmetics
By Max Beerbohm
NAY but it is useless to protest. Artifice must queen it
more in the town, and so, if there be any whose hearts chafe
at her return, let them not say, “We have come into evil times,”
and be all for resistance, reformation or angry cavilling. For did
the king’s sceptre send the sea retrograde, or the wand of the
sorcerer avail to turn the sun from its old course ? And what
man or what number of men ever stayed that reiterated process by
which the cities of this world grow, are very strong, fail and grow
again ? Indeed, indeed, there is charm in every period, and only
fools and flutterpates do not seek reverently for what is charming
in their own day. No martyrdom, however fine, nor satire, how
ever splendidly bitter, has changed by a little tittle the known
tendency of things. It is the times that can perfect us, not we
the times, and so let all of us wisely acquiesce. Like the little
wired marionettes, let us acquiesce in the dance.
For behold ! The Victorian era comes to its end and the day
of sancta simplicitas is quite ended. The old signs are here and
the portents to warn the seer of life that we are ripe for a new
epoch of artifice. Are not men rattling the dice-box and ladies
dipping their fingers in the rouge-pots ? At Rome, in the keenest
time of her degringolade, when there was gambling even in the holy
squander all they had upon unguents from Arabia. Nero’s mistress
and unhappy wife, Poppaea, of shameful memory, had in her travel
ling retinue fifteen -or, as some say, fifty- she-asses, for the sake
of their milk, that was thought an incomparable guard against
cosmetics with poison in them. Last century, too, when life was
lived by candle-light, and ethics was but etiquette, and even art a
question of punctilio, women, we know, gave the best hours of the
day to the crafty farding of their faces and the towering of their
coiffures. And men, throwing passion into the wine-bowl to sink
or swim, turned out thought to browse upon the green cloth.
Cannot we even now in our fancy see them, those silent exquisites
round the long table at Brooks , masked, all of them, “lest the
countenance should betray feeling,” in quinze masks, through
whose eyelets they sat peeping, peeping, while macao brought them
riches or ruin ? We can see them, those silent rascals, sitting there
with their cards and their rouleaux and their wooden money-
bowls, long after the dawn had crept up St. James and pressed its
haggard face against the window of the little club. Yes, we can
raise their ghosts—and, more, we can see manywhere a devotion
to hazard fully as meek as theirs. In England there has been a
wonderful revival of cards. Roulette may rival dead faro in the
tale of her devotees. Her wheel is spinning busily in every house
and ere long it may be that tender parents will be writing to
complain of the compulsory baccarat in our public school.
In fact, we are all gamblers once more, but our gambling is on
a finer scale than ever it was. We fly from the card-room to the
heath, and from the heath to the City, and from the City to the
coast of the Mediterranean. And just as no one seriously en-
courages the clergy in its frantic efforts to lay the spirit of chance,
that has thus resurged among us, so no longer are many faces set
for cosmetics. No longer is a lady of fashion blamed if, to escape
the outrageous persecution of time, she fly for sanctuary to the
toilet-table ; and if a damosel, prying in her mirror, be sure that
with brush and pigment she can trick herself into more charm, we
are not angry. Indeed, why should we ever have been ? Surely
it is laudable, this wish to make fair the ugly and overtop fairness,
and no wonder that within the last five years the trade of the
makers of cosmetics has increased immoderately—twentyfold, so
one of these makers has said to me. We need but walk down
any modish street and peer into the little broughams that flit
past, or (in Thackeray’s phrase) under the bonnet of any woman
we meet, to see over how wide a kingdom rouge reigns. We
men, who, from Juvenal down to that discourteous painter of
whom Lord Chesterfield tells us, have especially shown a dislike of
cosmetics, are quite yielding ; and there are, I fancy, many such
husbands as he who, suddenly realising that his wife was painted,
bad her sternly, “Go up and take it all off,” and, on her reappear
ance, bad her with increasing sternness, “Go up and put it all
But now that the use of pigments is becoming general, and
most women are not so young as they are painted, it may be asked
curiously how the prejudice ever came into being. Indeed, it is
hard to trace folly, for that it is inconsequent, to its start ; and
perhaps it savours too much of reason to suggest that the prejudice
was due to the tristful confusion man has made of soul and surface.
Through trusting so keenly to the detection of the one by keeping
watch upon the other, and by force of the thousand errors following,
he has come to think of surface even as the reverse of soul. He
supposes that every clown beneath his paint and lip-salve is moribund
and knows it, (though in verity, I am told, clowns are as cheerful
more delectable its bloom, the closer are packed the ashes within it.
The very jargon of the hunting-field connects cunning with a
mask. And so perhaps came man’s anger at the embellishment of
women—that lovely mask of enamel with its shadows of pink
and tiny pencilled veins, what must lurk behind it ? Of what
treacherous mysteries may it not be the screen ? Does not the
heathen lacquer her dark face, and the harlot paint her cheeks,
because sorrow has made them pale ?
After all, the old prejudice is a-dying. We need not pry into
the secret of its birth. Rather is this a time of jolliness and glad
indulgence. For the era of rouge is upon us, and as only in an
elaborate era can man by the tangled accrescency of his own
pleasures and emotions reach that refinement which is his highest
excellence, and by making himself, so to say, independent of
Nature, come nearest to God, so only in an elaborate era is woman
perfect. Artifice is the strength of the world, and in that same
mask of paint and powder, shadowed with vermeil tinct and most
trimly pencilled, is woman’s strength.
For see ! We need not look so far back to see woman under
the direct influence of Nature. Early in this century, our grand
mothers, sickening of the odour of faded exotics and spilt wine,
came out into the daylight once more and let the breezes blow
around their faces and enter, sharp and welcome, into their lungs.
Artifice they drove forth, and they set Martin Tupper upon a
throne of mahogany to rule over them. A very reign of terror set
in. All things were sacrificed to the fetish Nature. Old ladies
may still be heard to tell how, when they were girls, affectation
was not ; and, if we verify their assertion in the light of such
literary authorities as Dickens, we find that it is absolutely true.
Women appear to have been in those days utterly natural in their
their curls. They knew no reserve in the first days of the
Victorian era. No thought was held too trivial, no emotion too
silly, to express. To Nature everything was sacrificed. Great
heavens! And in those barren days what influence was exerted
by women? By men they seem not to have been feared nor loved,
but regarded rather as “dear little creatures” or ” wonderful little
beings,” and in their relation to life as foolish and ineffectual as the
landscapes they did in water-colour. Yet, if the women of those
years were of no great account, they had a certain charm and they
at least had not begun to trespass upon men’s ground ; if they
touched not thought, which is theirs by right, at any rate they
refrained from action, which is ours. Far more serious was it
when, in the natural trend of time, they became enamoured of
rinking and archery and galloping along the Brighton Parade.
Swiftly they have sped on since then from horror to horror. The
invasion of the tennis-courts and of the golf-links, the seizure of
the tricycle and of the type-writer, were but steps preliminary in
that campaign which is to end with the final victorious occupation
of St. Stephen’s. But stay ! The horrific pioneers of womanhood
who gad hither and thither and, confounding wisdom with the
device on her shield, shriek for the unbecoming, are doomed.
Though they spin their tricycle-treadles so amazingly fast, they
are too late. Though they scream victory, none follow them.
Artifice, that fair exile, has returned.
Yes, though the pioneers know it not, they are doomed already.
For of the curiosities of history not the least strange is the manner
in which two social movements may be seen to overlap, long after
the second has, in truth, given its deathblow to the first. And,
in like manner as one has seen the limbs of a murdered thing in
lively movement, so we need not doubt that, though the voices of
The Yellow Book, Vol. I E
be hushed. Dear Artifice is with us. It needed but that we
Surely, without any of my pleading, women will welcome their
great and amiable protectrix, as by instinct. For (have I not
said ?) it is upon her that all their strength, their life almost,
depends. Artifice’s first command to them is that they should
repose. With bodily activity their powder will fly, their enamel
crack. They are butterflies who must not flit, if they love their
bloom. Now, setting aside the point of view of passion, from
which very many obvious things might be said, (and probably have
been by the minor poets), it is, from the intellectual point of
view, quite necessary that a woman should repose. Hers is the
resupinate sex. On her couch she is a goddess, but so soon as
ever she put her foot to the ground—lo, she is the veriest little
sillypop and quite done for. She cannot rival us in accion, but she
is our mistress in the things of the mind. Let her not by second-
rate athletics, nor indeed by any exercise soever of the limbs,
spoil the pretty procedure of her reason. Let her be content to
remain the guide, the subtle suggester of what we must do, the
strategist whose soldiers we are, the little architect whose work
” After all,” as a pretty girl once said to me, “women are a sex
by themselves, so to speak,” and the sharper the line between
their worldly functions and ours, the better. This greater
swiftness and less erring subtlety of mind, their forte and privilege,
justifies the painted mask that Artifice bids them wear. Behind
it their minds can play without let. They gain the strength of
reserve. They become important, as in the days of the Roman
Empire were the Emperor’s mistresses, as was the Pompadour at
Versailles, as was our Elizabeth. Yet do not their faces become
And, truly, of all the good things that will happen with the
full renascence of cosmetics, one of the best is that surface will
finally be severed from soul. That damnable confusion will be
solved by the extinguishing of a prejudice which, as I suggest,
itself created. Too long has the face been degraded from its rank
as a thing of beauty to a mere vulgar index of character or
emotion. We had come to troubling ourselves, not with its
charm of colour and line, but with such questions as whether the
lips were sensuous, the eyes full of sadness, the nose indicative of
determination. I have no quarrel with physiognomy. For my
own part, I believe in it. But it has tended to degrade the face
Aesthetically, in such wise as the study of cheirosophy has tended
to degrade the hand. And the use of cosmetics, the masking of
the face, will change this. We shall gaze at a woman merely
because she is beautiful, not stare into her face anxiously, as into
the face of a barometer.
How fatal it has been, in how many ways, this confusion of
soul and surface ! Wise were the Greeks in making plain masks
for their mummers to play in, and dunces we not to have done the
same ! Only the other day, an actress was saying that what she
was most proud of in her art—next, of course, to having appeared
in some provincial pantomime at the age of three—was the deft
ness with which she contrived, in parts demanding a rapid succes-
sion of emotions, to dab her cheeks quite quickly with rouge from
the palm of her right hand, or powder from the palm of her left.
Gracious goodness! why do not we have masks upon the stage ?
Drama is the presentment of the soul in action. The mirror of
the soul is the voice. Let the young critics, who seek a cheap
reputation for austerity, by cavilling at ” incidental music,” set
art by the subvention of a quite alien art like painting, of any art,
indeed, whose sphere is only surface. Let those, again, who sneer,
so rightly, at the ” painted anecdotes of the Academy,” censure
equally the writers who trespass on painter’s ground. It is a
proclaimed sin that a painter should concern himself with a good
little girl’s affection for a Scotch greyhound, or the keen enjoyment
of their port by elderly gentlemen of the early forties. Yet, for a
painter to prod the soul with his paint-brush is no worse than for
a novelist to refuse to dip under the surface, and the fashion of
avoiding a psychological study of grief by stating that the owner’s
hair turned white in a single night, or of shame by mentioning a
sudden rush of scarlet to the cheeks, is as lamentable as may
be. But ! But with the universal use of cosmetics and the
consequent secernment of soul and surface, which, at the risk of
irritating a reader, I must again insist upon, all those old properties
that went to bolster up the ordinary novel the trembling lips, the
flashing eyes, the determined curve of the chin, the nervous trick of
biting the moustache—aye and the hectic spot of red on either
cheek—will be made spiflicate, as the puppets were spiflicated by
Don Quixote. Yes, even now Demos begins to discern. The same
spirit that has revived rouge, smote his mouth as it grinned at
the wondrous painter of mist and river, and now sends him
sprawling for the pearls that Meredith dived for in the deep
waters of romance.
Indeed the revival of cosmetics must needs be so splendid an
influence, conjuring boons innumerable, that one inclines almost
to mutter against that inexorable law by which Artifice must
perish from time to time. That such branches of painting as the
staining of glass or the illuminating of manuscripts should fall into
disuse seems, in comparison, so likely ; these were esoteric arts ;
art’s very basis. The painting of the face is the first kind of
painting man can have known. To make beautiful things
is it not an impulse laid upon few ? But to make oneself beautiful
is an universal instinct. Strange that the resultant art could ever
perish ! So fascinating an art too ! So various in its materials
from stimmis, psimythium and fuligo to bismuth and arsenic, so
simple in that its ground and its subject-matter are one, so
marvellous in that its very subject-matter becomes lovely when an
artist has selected it ! For surely this is no idle nor fantastic
saying. To deny that “making-up” is an art, on the pretext
that the finished work of its exponents depends for beauty and
excellence upon the ground chosen for the work, is absurd. At
the touch of a true artist, the plainest face turns comely. As
subject-matter the face is no more than suggestive, as ground,
merely a loom round which the beatus artifex may spin the
threads of any golden fabric :
Quae nunc nomen habent operosi signa Maronis
Pondus iners quondam duraque massa fuit.
Multa viros nescire decet ; pars maxima rerum
Offendat, si non interiora tegas,
and, as Ovid would seem to suggest, by
pigments any tone may be
set aglow on a woman’s cheek, from enamel the features take any
form. Insomuch that surely the advocates of soup-kitchens and
free-libraries and other devices for giving people what providence
did not mean them to receive, should send out pamphlets in the
praise of self-embellishment. For it will place Beauty within
easy reach of many who could not otherwise hope to attain it
But of course Artifice is rather exacting. In return for the
repose she forces so—wisely !—upon her followers when the sun is
they should pay her long homage at the sun’s rising. The initiate
may not enter lightly upon her mysteries. For, if a bad com-
plexion be inexcusable, to be ill-painted is unforgivable; and when
the toilet is laden once more with the fulness of its elaboration, we
shall hear no more of the proper occupation for women. And
think, how sweet an energy, to sit at the mirror of coquetry !
See the dear merits of the toilet as shown upon old vases, or upon
the walls of Roman dwellings, or, rather still, read Bottiger’s
alluring, scholarly description of “Morgenscenen im Puttzimmer
Einer Reichen Römerin.” Read of Sabina’s face as she comes
through the curtain of her bed-chamber to the chamber of her
toilet. The slave-girls have long been charing their white feet
upon the marble floor. They stand, those timid Greek girls,
marshalled in little battalions. Each has her appointed task, and
all kneel in welcome as Sabina stalks, ugly and frowning, to the
toilet chair. Scaphion steps forth from among them, and, dipping a
tiny sponge in a bowl of hot milk, passes it lightly, ever so lightly,
over her mistress face. The Poppaean pastes melt beneath it like
snow. A cooling lotion is poured over her brow and is fanned
with feathers. Phiale comes after, a clever girl, captured in some
sea-skirmish in the Aegean. In her left hand she holds the ivory
box wherein are the phucus and that white powder, psimythium;
in her right a sheaf of slim brushes. With how sure a touch does
she mingle the colours, and in what sweet proportion blushes
and blanches her lady’s upturned face. Phiale is the cleverest of all
the slaves. Now Calamis dips her quill in a certain powder that
floats, liquid and sable, in the hollow of her palm. Standing upon
tip-toe and with lips parted, she traces the arch of the eyebrows.
The slaves whisper loudly of their lady’s beauty, and two of them
hold up a mirror to her. Yes, the eyebrows are rightly arched.
Sabina’s hair with a fine new powder. It is made of the grated rind
of the cedar-tree, and a Gallic perfumer, whose stall is near the
Circus, gave it to her for a kiss. No lady in Rome knows of it.
And so, when four special slaves have piled up the head-dress, out
of a perforated box this glistening powder is showered. Into every
little brown ringlet it enters, till Sabina’s hair seems like a pile of
gold coins. Lest the breezes send it flying, the girls lay the
powder with sprinkled attar. Soon Sabina will start for the
Temple of Cybele.
Ah ! Such are the lures of the toilet that none will for long
hold aloof from them. Cosmetics are not going to be a mere
prosaic remedy for age or plainness, but all ladies and all young girls
will come to love them. Does not a certain blithe Marquise,
whose lettres intimes from the Court of Louis Seize are less read
than their wit would merit, tell us how she was scandalised to see
“même les toutes jeunes demoiselles émaillées comme ma tabatière?”
So it shall be with us. Surely the common prejudice against
painting the lily can but be based on mere ground of economy.
That which is already fair is complete, it may be urged—urged
implausibly, for there are not so many lovely things in this world
that we can afford not to know each one of them by heart.
There is only one white lily, and who that has ever seen—as I have
a lily—really well painted could grudge the artist so fair a ground
for his skill ? Scarcely do you believe through how many nice
metamorphoses a lily may be passed by him. In like manner, we
all know the young girl, with her simpleness, her goodness, her
wayward ignorance. And a very charming ideal for England
must she have been, and a very natural one, when a young girl
sat even on the throne. But no nation can keep its ideal for ever
and it needed none of Mr. Gilbert’s delicate satire in “Utopia” to
the early Victorian era. What writer of plays, as lately
asked some pressman, who had been told off to attend many first
nights and knew what he was talking about, ever dreams of
making the young girl the centre of his theme ? Rather he seeks
inspiration from the tried and tired woman of the world, in all her
intricate maturity, whilst, by way of comic relief, he sends the
young girl flitting in and out with a tennis-racket, the poor
Ɛίδωλοv ảμɑvрόv of her former self. The season of the unsophis-
ticated is gone by, and the young girl’s final extinction beneath the
rising tides of cosmetics will leave no gap in life and will rob art of
“Tush,” I can hear some damned flutterpate exclaim, “girlish-
ness and innocence are as strong and as permanent as womanhood
itself ! Why, a few months past, the whole town went mad over
Miss Cissie Loftus! Was not hers a success of girlish innocence
and the absence of rouge? If such things as these be outmoded,
why was she so wildly popular?” Indeed, the triumph of that
clever girl, whose dbut made London nice even in August, is but
another witness to the truth of my contention. In a very
sophisticated time, simplicity has a new dulcedo. Hers was a
success of contrast. Accustomed to clever malaperts like Miss
Lloyd or Miss Reeve, whose experienced pouts and smiles under
the sun-bonnet are a standing burlesque of innocence and girlish-
ness, Demos was really delighted, for once and away, to see the
real presentment of these things upon his stage. Coming after all
those sly series, coming so young and mere with her pink frock
and straightly combed hair, Miss Cissie Loftus had the charm
which things of another period often do possess. Besides, just as
we adored her for the abrupt nod with which she was wont at
first to acknowledge the applause, so we were glad for her to come
seemed so strange, that neglect of convention. To be behind
footlights and not rouged ! Yes, hers was a success of
contrast. She was like a daisy in the window at Solomons’. She
was delightful. And yet, such is the force of convention, that
when last I saw her, playing in some burlesque at the Gaiety, her
fringe was curled and her pretty face rouged with the best of
them. And, if further need be to show the absurdity of having
called her performance “a triumph of naturalness over the jaded
spirit of modernity” let us reflect that the little mimic was not a
real old-fashioned girl after all. She had none of that restless
naturalness that would seem to have characterised the girl of the
early Victorian days. She had no pretty ways—no smiles—nor
blushes nor tremors. Possibly Demos could not have stood a pre-
sentment of girlishness unrestrained.
But with her grave insouciance, Miss Cissie
Loftus had much
of the reserve that is one of the factors of feminine perfection, and
to most comes only, as I have said, with artifice. Her features
played very, very slightly. And in truth, this may have been one
of the reasons of her great success. For expression is but too
often the ruin of a face ; and, since we cannot as yet so order the
circumstances of life that women shall never be betrayed into “an
unbecoming emotion,” when the brunette shall never have cause
to blush, and the lady who looks well with parted lips be kept in a
permanent state of surprise, the safest way by far is to create, by
brush and pigments, artificial expressions for every face.
And this—say you?—will make monotony? You are mis-
taken, toto ccelo mistaken. When your mistress has wearied you
with one expression, then it will need but a few touches of that
pencil, a backward sweep of that brush, and lo, you will be
revelling in another. For though, of course, the painting of the
is rather akin to the art of music lasting, like music’s echo, not
for very long. So that, no doubt, of the many little appurte-
nances of the Reformed Toilet Table, not the least vital will be
a list of the emotions that become its owner, with recipes for
simulating them. According to the colour she wills her hair to
be for the time—black or yellow or, peradventure, burnished red
—she will blush for you, sneer for you, laugh or languish for you.
The good combinations of line and colour are nearly numberless,
and by their means poor restless woman will be able to realise her
moods in all their shades and lights and dappledoms, to live many
lives and masquerade through many moments of joy. No mono-
tony will be. And for us men matrimony will have lost its
But be it remembered ! Though we men will garner these
oblique boons, it is into the hands of women that Artifice gives her
pigments. I know, I know that many men in a certain sect of
society have shown a marked tendency to the use of cosmetics. I
speak not of the countless gentlemen who walk about town in the
time of its desertion from August to October, artificially bronzed,
as though they were fresh from the moors or from the Solent.
This, I conceive, is done for purely social reasons and need not
concern me here. Rather do I speak of those who make them
selves up, seemingly with an aesthetic purpose. Doubtless—I
wish to be quite just—there are many who look the better
for such embellishment ; but, at the hazard of being thought old-
fashioned and prejudiced, I cannot speak of the custom with any
thing but strong disapproval. If men are to lie among the
rouge-pots, inevitably it will tend to promote that amalgamation of
the sexes which is one of the chief planks in the decadent platform
and to obtund that piquant contrast between him and her, which
have not the excuse of facial monotony, that holds in the case of
women. Have we not hair upon our chins and upper lips ? And
can we not, by diverting the trend of our moustache or by growing
our beard in this way or that, avoid the boredom of looking the same
for long ? Let us beware. For if, in violation of unwritten
sexual law, men take to trifling with the paints and brushes that
are feminine heritage, it may be that our great ladies will don false
imperials, and the little doner deck her pretty chin with a Newgate
fringe ! After all, I think we need not fear that many men will
thus trespass. Most of them are in the City nowadays, and the
great wear and tear of that place would put their use of rouge—
that demands bodily repose from its dependents—quite outside the
range of practical aesthetics.
But that in the world of women they will not neglect this art,
so ripping in itself, in its result so wonderfully beneficent, I am
sure indeed. Much, I have said, is already done for its full
renascence. The spirit of the age has made straight the path of
its professors. Fashion has made Jezebel surrender her monopoly
of the rouge-pot. As yet, the great art of self-embellishment is
for us but in its infancy. But if Englishwomen can bring it to
the flower of an excellence so supreme as never yet has it known,
then, though Old England may lose her martial and commercial
supremacy, we patriots will have the satisfaction of knowing that
she has been advanced at one bound to a place in the councils of
aesthetic Europe. And, in sooth, is this hoping too high of my
countrywomen ? True that, as the art seems always to have
appealed to the ladies of Athens, and it was not until the waning
time of the Republic that Roman ladies learned to love the practice
of it, so Paris, Athenian in this as in all other things, has been noted
hitherto as a far more vivid centre of the art than London. But it was
and shall it not be in London, soon, that unguentaria shall outstrip
its Roman perfection ? Surely there must be among us artists as
cunning in the use of brush and puff as any who lived at Versailles.
Surely the splendid, impalpable advance of good taste, as shown in
dress and in the decoration of houses, may justify my hope of the
preeminence of Englishwomen in the cosmetic art. By their
innate delicacy of touch they will accomplish much, and much, of
course, by their swift feminine perception. Yet it were well that
they should know something also of the theoretical side of the craft.
Modern authorities upon the mysteries of the toilet are, it is true,
rather few ; but among the ancients many a writer would seem to
have been fascinated by them. Archigenes, a man of science at
the Court of Cleopatra, and Criton at the Court of the Emperor
Trajan, both wrote treatises upon cosmetics doubtless most
scholarly treatises that would have given many a precious hint.
It is a pity they are not extant. From Lucian or from Juvenal,
with his bitter picture of a Roman levée , much may be learnt ;
from the staid pages of Xenophon and Aristophanes’ dear farces.
But best of all is that fine book of the Ars Amatoria that Ovid
has set aside for the consideration of dyes, perfumes and pomades.
Written by an artist who knew the allurements of the toilet and
understood its philosophy, it remains without rival as a treatise
upon Artifice. It is more than a poem, it is a manual ; and if
there be left in England any lady who cannot read Latin in the
original, she will do well to procure a discreet translation. In
the Bodleian Library there is treasured the only known copy of a
very poignant and delightful rendering of this one book of Ovid’s
masterpiece. It was made by a certain Wye Waltonstall, who
lived in the days of Elizabeth, and, seeing that he dedicated it to
“the Vertuous Ladyes and Gentlewomen of Great Britain,” I am
of cosmetics, would wish his little work to be placed once more
within their reach. “Inasmuch as to you, ladyes and gentle
women,” so he writes in his queer little dedication, “my booke of
pigments doth first addresse itself, that it may kisse your hands and
afterward have the lines thereof in reading sweetened by the odour
of your breath, while the dead letters formed into words by your
divided lips may receive new life by your passionate expression,
and the words marryed in that Ruby coloured temple may thus
happily united, multiply your contentment.” It is rather sad to
think that, at this crisis in the history of pigments, the Vertuous
Ladyes and Gentlewomen cannot read the libellus of Wye Walton-
stall, who did so dearly love pigments.
But since the days when these great critics wrote their treatises,
with what gifts innumerable has Artifice been loaded by Science !
Many little partitions must be added to the narthecium before it
can comprehend all the new cosmetics that have been quietly
devised since classical days, and will make the modern toilet chalks
away more splendid in its possibilities. A pity that no one has
devoted himself to the compiling of a new list ; but doubtless all the
newest devices are known to the admirable unguentarians of Bond
Street, who will impart them to their clients. Our thanks, too,
should be given to Science for ridding us of the old danger that
was latent in the use of cosmetics. Nowadays they cannot, being
purged of any poisonous element, do harm to the skin that they
make beautiful. There need be no more sowing the seeds of
destruction in the furrows of time, no martyrs to the cause like
Georgina Gunning, that fair dame but infelix, who died, so they
relate, from the effect of a poisonous rouge upon her lips. No,
we need have no fears now. Artifice will claim not another
victim from among her worshippers.
oval mirror. Her smooth fingers shall flit among the paints and
powder, to tip and mingle them, catch up a pencil, clasp a phial,
and what not and what not, until the mask of vermeil tinct has been
laid aptly, the enamel quite hardened. And, heavens, how she will
charm us and ensorcel our eyes ! Positively rouge will rob us for
a time of all our reason ; we shall go mad over masks. Was it
not at Capua that they had a whole street where nothing was sold
but dyes and unguents ? We must have such a street, and, to fill
our new Seplasia, our Arcade of the Unguents, all herbs and minerals
and live creatures shall give of their substance. The white cliffs
of Albion shall be ground to powder for loveliness, and perfumed
by the ghost of many a little violet. The fluffy eider-ducks, that
are swimming round the pond, shall lose their feathers, that the
powder-puff may be moonlike as it passes over loveliness’s lovely
face. Even the camels shall become ministers of delight, giving
their hair in many tufts to be stained by the paints in her
colour-box, and across her cheek the swift hare’s foot shall fly as of
old. The sea shall offer her the phucus, its scarlet weed. We
shall spill the blood of mulberries at her bidding. And, as in
another period of great ecstasy, a dancing wanton, la belle Aubrey,
was crowned upon a Lucy Rimmerton’s lighted altar, so Arsenic, that “green-
tress’d goddess,” ashamed at length of skulking between the soup
of the unpopular and the test-tubes of the Queen’s analyst, shall be
exalted to a place of highest honour upon loveliness’s toilet-table.
! All these things shall come to pass. Times of jolliness and
glad indulgence ! For Artifice, whom we drove forth, has returned
among us, and, though her eyes are red with crying, she is
smiling forgiveness. She is kind. Let us dance and be glad, and
trip the cockawhoop ! Artifice, sweetest exile, is come into her
kingdom. Let us dance her a welcome !
By Arthur Christopher Benson
YOU were clear as a sandy spring
After a drought, when its waters run
Evenly, sparingly, filtering
Into the eye of the sun.
Love you took with a placid smile,
Pain you bore with a hopeful sigh,
Never a thought of gain or guile
Slept in your wide blue eye.
Suddenly, once, at a trivial word,—
Side by side together we stept,—
Rose a tempest that swayed and stirred ;
Over your soul it swept.
Dismal visitants, suddenly,
Pulled the doors in your house of clay ;
Out of the windows there stared at me
Something horrible, grey.
A YOUNG man strolled along a country road one August
after a long delicious day—a day of that blessed idleness
the man of leisure never knows : one must be a bank clerk forty-
nine weeks out of the fifty-two before one can really appreciate
the exquisite enjoyment of doing nothing for twelve hours at a
stretch. Willoughby had spent the morning lounging about a
sunny rickyard ; then, when the heat grew unbearable, he had
retreated to an orchard, where, lying on his back in the long cool
grass, he had traced the pattern of the apple-leaves diapered above
him upon the summer sky ; now that the heat of the day was over
he had come to roam whither sweet fancy led him, to lean over
gates, view the prospect and meditate upon the pleasures of a well-
spent day. Five such days had already passed over his head,
fifteen more remained to him. Then farewell to freedom and
clean country air ! Back again to London and another year’s
He came to a gate on the right of the road. Behind it a foot
path meandered up over a glassy slope. The sheep nibbling on
its summit cast long shadows down the hill almost to his feet.
Road and field-path were equally new to him, but the latter offered
greener attractions ; he vaulted lightly over the gate and had so
The Yellow Book—Vol. I. F
began to whistle ” White Wings ” from pure joy of life.
The sheep stopped feeding and raised their heads to stare at him
from pale-lashed eyes ; first one and then another broke into a
startled run, until there was a sudden woolly stampede of the entire
flock. When Willoughby gained the ridge from which they had
just scattered he came in sight of a woman sitting on a stile at
the further end of the field. As he advanced towards her he saw
that she was young and that she was not what is called “a lady”—
of which he was glad : an e arlier episode in his career having
indissolubly associated in his mind ideas of feminine refinement
with those of feminine treachery.
He thought it probable this girl would be willing to dispense
with the formalities of an introduction and that he might venture
with her on some pleasant foolish chat.
As she made no movement to let him pass he stood still, and,
looking at her, began to smile.
She returned his gaze from unabashed dark eyes and then
laughed, showing teeth white, sound, and smooth as split hazel-nuts.
” Do you wanter get over ?” she remarked familiarly.
” I’m afraid I can’t without disturbing you.”
“Dontcher think you’re much better where you are ? ” said the
girl, on which Willoughby hazarded :
“You mean to say looking at you ? Well, perhaps I am ! “
The girl at this laughed again, but nevertheless dropped herself
down into the further field ; then, leaning her arms upon the cross
bar, she informed the young man : “No, I don’t wanter spoil your
walk. You were goin’ p’raps ter Beacon Point ? It’s very pretty
“I was going nowhere in particular,” he replied : “just exploring,
so to speak. I m a stranger in these parts.”
” How funny ! Imer stranger here too. I only come down
larse Friday to stye with a Naunter mine in Horton. Are you
stying in Horton ? ”
Willoughby told her he was not in Orton, but at Povey
Farm out in the other direction.
” Oh, Mrs. Payne’s, ain’t it ? I’ve heard
aunt speak ovver. She
takes summer boarders, don’t chee ? I egspec you come from
London, heh ?”
“And I expect you come from London too ? ”
recognising the familiar accent.
” You’re as sharp as a needle,” cried the girl with her un-
restrained laugh ; ” so I do. I’m here for a hollerday ‘cos I was
so done up with the work and the hot weather. I don’t look as
though I’d bin ill, do I ? But I was, though : for it was just
stifflin’ hot up in our workrooms all larse month, an’ tailorin’s
awful hard work at the bester times.”
Willoughby felt a sudden accession of interest
in her. Like
many intelligent young men, he had dabbled a little in Socialism
and at one time had wandered among the dispossessed ; but since
then, had caught up and held loosely the new doctrine—It is a good
and fitting thing that woman also should earn her bread by the
sweat of her brow. Always in reference to the woman who,
fifteen months before, had treated him ill, he had said to himself
that even the breaking of stones in the road should be considered
a more feminine employment than the breaking of hearts.
He gave way therefore to a movement of friendliness for this
working daughter of the people, and joined her on the other side
of the stile in token of his approval. She, twisting round to face
him, leaned now with her back against the bar, and the sunset fires
lent a fleeting glory to her face. Perhaps she guessed how
becoming the light was, for she took off her hat and let it touch to
at this moment she made an agreeable picture, to which stood as
background all the beautiful wooded Southshire view.
” You don’t really mean to say you are a tailoress ? ” said
Willoughby with a sort of eager compassion.
” I do, though ! An I’ve bin one ever since I was fourteen.
Look at my fingers if you don’t b’lieve me.”
She put out her right hand, and he took hold of it, as he was
expected to do. The finger-ends were frayed and blackened by
needle-pricks, but the hand itself was plump, moist, and not un-
shapely. She meanwhile examined Willoughby’s fingers enclosing
“It’s easy ter see you’ve never done no work ! ” she said, half
admiring, half envious. “I s’pose you re a tip-top swell, ain’t
“Oh, yes ! I’m a tremendous swell indeed ! ” said Willoughby
ironically. He thought of his hundred and thirty pounds salary;
and he mentioned his position in the British and Colonial Banking
house, without shedding much illumination on her mind ; for she
” Well, anyhow, you’re a gentleman. I’ve often wished I was
a lady. It must be so nice ter wear fine clo’es an never have ter
do any work all day long.”
Willoughby thought it innocent of the girl to
say this; it re-
minded him of his own notion as a child—that kings and queens
put on their crowns the first thing on rising in the morning. His
cordiality rose another degree.
” If being a gentleman means having nothing to do,”said he,
smiling, “I can certainly lay no claim to the title. Life isn’t all
beer and skittles with me, any more than it is with you. Which
is the better reason for enjoying the present moment, don’t you
show me the way to Beacon Point, which you say is so
pretty ? ”
She required no further persuasion. As he walked beside her
through the upland fields where the dusk was beginning to fall,
and the white evening moths to emerge from their daytime
hiding-places, she asked him many personal questions, most of
which he thought fit to parry. Taking no offence thereat, she
told him, instead, much concerning herself and her family. Thus
he learned her name was Esther Stables, that she and her people
lived Whitechapel way ; that her father was seldom sober, and
her mother always ill ; and that the aunt with whom she was
staying kept the post-office and general shop in Orton village.
He learned, too, that Estherwas discontented with life in general ;
that, though she hated being at home, she found the country
dreadfully dull ; and that, consequently, she was extremely glad to
have made his acquaintance. But what he chiefly realised when
they parted was that he had spent a couple of pleasant hours
talking nonsense with a girl who was natural, simple-minded, and
entirely free from that repellently protective atmosphere with
which a woman of the ” classes” so carefully surrounds herself.
He and Esther had ” made friends ” with the ease and rapidity
of children before they have learned the dread meaning of
” etiquette,” and they said good-night, not without some talk
of meeting each other again.
Obliged to breakfast at a quarter to eight in town, Willoughby
was always luxuriously late when in the country, where he took
his meals also in leisurely fashion, often reading from a book
propped up on the table before him. But the morning after his
meeting with Esther Stables found him less disposed to read than
usual. Her image obtruded itself upon the printed page, and at
way to lay it was to confront it with the girl herself.
Wanting some tobacco, he saw a good reason for going into
Orton. Esther had told him he could get tobacco and everything
else at her aunt’s. He found the post-office to be one of the first
houses in the widely spaced village-street. In front of the cottage
was a small garden ablaze with old-fashioned flowers ; and in a
larger garden at one side were apple-trees, raspberry and currant
bushes, and six thatched beehives on a bench. The bowed
windows of the little shop were partly screened by sunblinds ;
nevertheless the lower panes still displayed a heterogeneous collec-
tion of goods—lemons, hanks of yarn, white linen buttons upon
blue cards, sugar cones, warden pipes, and tobacco jars. A
letter-box opened its narrow mouth low down in one wall, and
over the door swung the sign, “Stamps and money-order office,”
in black letters on white enamelled iron.
The interior of the shop was cool and dark. A second glass-
door at the back permitted Willoughby to see into a small
sitting-room, and out again through a low and square-paned
window to the sunny landscape beyond. Silhouetted against
the light were the heads of two women : the rough young head
of yesterday’s Esther, the lean outline and bugled cap of Esther’s
It was the latter who at the jingling of the door-bell rose from
her work and came forward to serve the customer ; but the girl,
with much mute meaning in her eyes and a finger laid upon her
smiling mouth, followed behind. Her aunt heard her footfall.
” What do you want here, Esther? ” she said with thin disapproval ;
“get back to your sewing.”
Esther gave the young man a signal seen only by
slipped out into the side-garden, where he found her when his
cept him as he passed.
“Aunt’s an awful ole maid,” she remarked apologetically ; “I
b’lieve she’d never let me say a word to enny one if she could
” So you got home all right last night ? “Willoughby inquired ;
” what did your aunt say to you ? ”
” Oh, she arst me where I’d been, and I tolder a lotter lies ! “
Then, with woman’s intuition, perceiving that this speech
jarred, Esther made haste to add, “She’s so dreadful hard on me !
I dursn’t tell her I’d been with a gentleman or she’d never have let
me out alone again.”
” And at present I suppose you’ll be found somewhere about
that same stile every evening ? ” said Willoughby foolishly, for he
really did not much care whether he met her again or not. Now
he was actually in her company he was surprised at himself for
having given her a whole morning’s thought ; yet the eagerness of
her answer flattered him, too.
” To-night I can’t come, worse luck ! It’s Thursday, and the
shops here close of a Thursday at five. I’ll havter keep aunt
company. But to-morrer ?—I can be there to-morrer. You’ll
come, say ?”
” Esther! ” cried a vexed voice, and the
aunt emerged through the row of raspberry-bushes ; ” whatever are
you thinking about, delayin the gentleman in this fashion ?” She
was full of rustic and official civility for ” the gentleman,” but in
dignant with her niece. “I don’t want none of your London manners
down here,”Willoughby heard her say as she marched the girl off.
He himself was not sorry to be released from Esther’s too
friendly eyes, and he spent an agreeable evening over a book, and
this time managed to forget her completely.
Though he remembered her first thing next morning, it was to
smile wisely and determine he would not meet her again. Yet by
dinner-time the day seemed long ; why, after all, should he not
meet her ? By tea-time prudence triumphed anew—no, he would
not go. Then he drank his tea hastily and set off for the
Esther was waiting for him. Expectation had
additional colour to her cheeks, and her red-brown hair showed
here and there a beautiful glint of gold. He could not help
admiring the vigorous way in which it waved and twisted, or the
little curls which grew at the nape of her neck, tight and close as
those of a young lamb’s fleece. Her neck here was admirable, too,
in its smooth creaminess ; and when her eyes lighted up with such
evident pleasure at his coming, how avoid the conviction she was a
good and nice girl after all ?
He proposed they should go down into the little copse on the
right, where they would be less disturbed by the occasional passer
by. Here, seated on a felled tree-trunk, Willoughby began that
bantering silly meaningless form of conversation known among
the “classes” as flirting. He had but the wish to make himself
agreeable, and to while away the time. Esther, however, mis-
Willoughby’s hand lay palm downwards on his
knee, and she
noticing a ring which he wore on his little finger, took hold of it.
” What a funny ring ! ” she said ; ” let’s look ? “
To disembarrass himself of her touch he pulled the ring off and
gave it her to examine.
” What s that ugly dark green stone ?” she asked.
” It s called a sardonyx.”
” What’s it for ? ” she said, turning it about.
” It’s a signet ring, to seal letters with.”
” An’ there’s a sorter king’s head scratched on it, an’ some
writin’ too, only I carn’t make it out ?”
“It isn’t the head of a king, although it wears a crown,”
Willoughby explained, “but the head and bust of a Saracen
against whom my ancestor of many hundred years ago went to
fight in the Holy Land. And the words cut round it are the
motto of our house, Vertue vaunceth, which means virtue
Willoughby may have displayed some slight
accession of dignity
in giving this bit of family history, for Esther fell into uncontrolled
laughter, at which he was much displeased. And when the girl
made as though she would put the ring on her own finger, asking,
” Shall I keep it ? ” he coloured up with sudden annoyance.
“It was only my fun ! ” said Esther
hastily, and gave him the
ring back, but his cordiality was gone. He felt no inclination to
renew the idle-word pastime, said it was time to go back, and,
swinging his cane vexedly, struck off the heads of the flowers and
the weeds as he went. Esther walked by his side in complete
silence, a phenomenon of which he presently became conscious.
He felt rather ashamed of having shown temper.
” Well, here s your way home,” said he with an effort at friend-
liness. “Good-bye, we’ve had a nice evening anyhow. It was
pleasant down there in the woods, eh ? ”
He was astonished to see her eyes soften with tears, and to hear
the real emotion in her voice as she answered, ” It was just heaven
down there with you until you turned so funny-like. What had
I done to make you cross ? Say you forgive me, do ! ”
“Silly child ! ” said Willoughby,
completely mollified, “I’m not
the least angry. There ! good-bye !” and like a fool he kissed
He anathematised his folly in the white light of next morning,
sincerely. He had an uncomfortable suspicion she had not
received it in the same spirit in which it had been bestowed, but,
attaching more serious meaning to it, would build expectations
thereon which must be left unfulfilled. It were best indeed not to
meet her again ; for he acknowledged to himself that, though he
only half liked, and even slightly feared, her, there was a certain
attraction about her—was it in her dark unflinching eyes or in
her very red lips ?—which might lead him into greater follies
Thus it came about that for two successive evenings Esther
waited for him in vain, and on the third evening he said to himself
with a grudging relief that by this time she had probably trans-
ferred her affections to some one else.
It was Saturday, the second Saturday since he left town. He
spent the day about the farm, contemplated the pigs, inspected the
feeding of the stock, and assisted at the afternoon milking. Then
at evening, with a refilled pipe, he went for a long lean over the
west gate, while he traced fantastic pictures and wove romances in
the glories of the sunset clouds.
He watched the colours glow from gold to scarlet, change to
crimson, sink at last to sad purple reefs and isles, when the sudden
consciousness of some one being near him made him turn round.
There stood Esther, and her eyes were full of eagerness and anger.
” Why have you never been to the stile again ? ” she asked him.
“You promised to come faithful, and you never came. Why
have you not kep your promise ? Why ?—why ? ” she persisted,
stamping her foot because Willoughby remained silent.
What could he say ! Tell her she had no business to follow
him like this ; or own, what was, unfortunately, the truth, he was
just a little glad to see her ?
” P’raps you don’t care to see me ?” she said. ” Well, why did
you kiss me, then ? ”
Why, indeed ! thought Willoughby, marvelling at
idiotcy, and yet—such is the inconsistency of man—not wholly
without the desire to kiss her again. And while he looked at her
she suddenly flung herself down on the hedge-bank at his feet and
burst into tears. She did not cover up her face, but simply pressed
one cheek down upon the grass while the water poured from her
eyes with astonishing abundance. Willoughby saw the dry earth
turn dark and moist as it drank the tears in. This, his first
experience of Esther’s powers of weeping, distressed him horribly ;
never in his life before had he seen any one weep like that; he
should not have believed such a thing possible, and he was alarmed,
too, lest she should be noticed from the house. He opened the
gate ; “Esther! ” he begged, “don’t cry. Come out here, like
a dear girl, and let us talk sensibly.”
Because she stumbled, unable to see her way through wet eyes,
he gave her his hand, and they found themselves in a field of corn,
walking along the narrow grass-path that skirted it, in the shadow
of the hedgerow.
” What is there to cry about because you have not seen me for
two days ? ” he began ; ” why, Esther, we are only strangers, after
all. When we have been at home a week or two we shall scarcely
remember each other’s names.”
Esther sobbed at intervals, but her tears had
ceased. “It’s fine
for you to talk of home,” she said to this. ” You’ve got some
thing that is a home, I s’pose ? But me! my home’s like hell,
with nothing but quarrellin’ and cursin’, and father who beats us
whether sober or drunk. Yes ! ” she repeated shrewdly, seeing
the lively disgust on Willoughby’s face, ” he beat me, all ill as I
was, jus’ before I come away. I could show you the bruises on
It ll be worse than ever. I can’t endure it and I won’t ! I’ll
put an end to it or myself somehow, I swear ! ”
” But, my poor Esther, how can I help it,
what can I do ? ” said
Willoughby. He was greatly moved, full of wrath with her
father, with all the world which makes women suffer. He had
suffered himself at the hands of a woman, and severely, but this,
instead of hardening his heart, had only rendered it the more
supple. And yet he had a vivid perception of the peril in which
he stood. An interior voice urged him to break away, to seek
safety in flight even at the cost of appearing cruel or ridiculous ;
so, coming to a point in the field where an elm-bole jutted out
across the path, he saw with relief he could now withdraw his
hand from the girl’s, since they must walk singly to skirt round it.
Esther took a step in advance, stopped and
suddenly turned to
face him ; she held out her two hands and her face was very near
“Don’t you care for me one little bit ? ” she said wistfully, and
surely sudden madness fell upon him. For he kissed her again, he
kissed her many times, and pushed all thoughts of the consequences
far from him.
But some of these consequences already called loudly to him as
he and Esther reached the last gate on the road to Orton.
“You know I have only £130 a year ? ” he told her : “it s no
very brilliant prospect for you to marry me on that.”
For he had actually offered her marriage, although such
conduct to the mediocre man must appear incredible or at least
uncalled for. But to Willoughby it seemed the only course
possible. How else justify his kisses, rescue her from her father’s
brutality, or bring back the smiles to her face ?
As for Esther, sudden exultation had leaped in
her heart ;
never have consented to anything less.
“O ! I’me used to managin’,” she told him confidently, and
mentally resolved to buy herself, so soon as she was married, a
black feather boa, such as she had coveted last winter.
Willoughby spent the remaining days of his
holiday in thinking
out and planning with Esther the details of his return to London
and her own, the secrecy to be observed, the necessary legal steps
to be taken, and the quiet suburb in which they would set up
housekeeping. And, so successfully did he carry out his arrange
ments, that within five weeks from the day on which he had
first met Esther Stables he and she came out one morning from a
Lucy Rimmerton in Highbury husband and wife. It was a mellow Septem-
ber day, the streets were filled with sunshine, and Willoughby,
in reckless high spirits, imagined he saw a reflection of his own
gaiety on the indifferent faces of the passers-by. There being no
one else to perform the office he congratulated himself very warmly,
and Esther’s frequent laughter filled in the pauses of the day.
Three months later Willoughby was dining with a
the hour-hand of the clock nearing ten the host no longer resisted
the guest s growing anxiety to be gone. He arose and exchanged
with him good wishes and good-byes.
” Marriage is evidently a most successful institution,” said he,
half jesting, half sincere ; “you almost make me inclined to go
and get married myself. Confess now your thoughts have been
at home the whole evening ? ”
Willoughby thus addressed turned red to the
roots of his hair,
but did not deny the soft impeachment.
The other laughed. ” And very commendable they should be,”
he continued, ” since you are scarcely, so to speak, out of your
With a social smile on his lips Willoughby calculated a moment
before replying, ” I have been married exactly three months and
three days ; ” then, after a few words respecting their next meeting,
the two shook hands and parted, the young host to finish the
evening with books and pipe, the young husband to set out on a
twenty minutes walk to his home.
It was a cold clear December night following a day of rain. A
touch of frost in the air had dried the pavements, and Willoughby’s
footfall ringing upon the stones re-echoed down the empty
suburban street. Above his head was a dark remote sky thickly
powdered with stars, and as he turned westward Alpherat hung
for a moment “comme le point sur un i,”over the slender spire of
St. John’s. But he was insensible to the worlds about him ; he
was absorbed in his own thoughts, and these, as his friend had
surmised, were entirely with his wife. For Esther’s face was
always before his eyes, her voice was always in his ears, she filled
the universe for him ; yet only four months ago he had never
seen her, had never heard her name. This was the curious part
of it—here in December he found himself the husband of a girl
who was completely dependent upon him not only for food,
clothes, and lodging, but for her present happiness, her whole
future life ; and last July he had been scarcely more than a boy
himself, with no greater care on his mind than the pleasant difficulty
of deciding where he should spend his annual three weeks holiday.
But it is events, not months or years, which age. Willoughby,
who was only twenty-six, remembered his youth as a sometime
companion irrevocably lost to him ; its vague, delightful hopes
were now crystallised into definite ties, and its happy irresponsi-
bility displaced by a sense of care inseparable perhaps from the
most fortunate of marriages.
As he reached the street in which he lodged his pace involun-
and distinguished the windows of the room in which Esther
awaited him. Through the broken slats of the Venetian blinds
he could see the yellow gaslight within. The parlour beneath
was in darkness ; his landlady had evidently gone to bed, there
being no light over the hall door either. In some apprehension
he consulted his watch under the last street-lamp he passed, to
find comfort in assuring himself it was only ten minutes after
ten. He let himself in with his latch-key, hung up his hat and
overcoat by the sense of touch, and, groping his way upstairs,
opened the door of the first floor sitting-room.
At the table in the centre of the room sat his wife, leaning upon
her elbows, her two hands thrust up into her ruffled hair ; spread
out before her was a crumpled yesterday’s newspaper, and so
interested was she to all appearance in its contents that she neither
spoke nor looked up as Willoughby entered. Around her were
the still uncleared tokens of her last meal : tea-slops, bread-crumbs,
and an eggshell crushed to fragments upon a plate, which was one
of those trifles that set Willoughby’s teeth on edge—whenever
his wife ate an egg she persisted in turning the egg-cup upside
down upon the tablecloth, and pounding the shell to pieces in her
plate with her spoon.
The room was repulsive in its disorder. The one lighted
burner of the gaselier, turned too high, hissed up into a long
tongue of flame. The fire smoked feebly under a newly adminis-
tered shovelful of ” slack,” and a heap of ashes and cinders
littered the grate. A pair of walking boots, caked in dry mud, lay
on the hearthrug just where they had been thrown off. On the
mantelpiece, amidst a dozen other articles which had no business
there, was a bedroom-candlestick ; and every single article of
furniture stood crookedly out of its place.
Willoughby took in the whole intolerable
picture, and yet spoke
with kindliness. “Well, Esther! I’m not so late, after all. I hope
you did not feel the time dull by yourself ? ” Then he explained
the reason of his absence. He had met a friend he had not seen for
a couple of years, who had insisted on taking him home to dine.
His wife gave no sign of having heard him ; she kept he eyes
rivetted on the paper before her.
“You received my wire, of course,”Willoughby went on,
“and did not wait ? ”
Now she crushed the newspaper up with a passionate move-
ment, and threw it from her. She raised her head, showing cheeks
blazing with anger, and dark, sullen, unflinching eyes.
” I did wyte then ! ” she cried. “I wyted till near eight before
I got your old telegraph ! I s’pose that’s what you call the
manners of a gentleman, to keep your wife mewed up here,
while you go gallivantin’ off with your fine friends ?”
Whenever Esther was angry, which was often, she taunted
Willoughby with being “a gentleman,” although this was the
precise point about him which at other times found most favour
in her eyes. But to-night she was envenomed by the idea he had
been enjoying himself without her, stung by fear lest he should
have been in company with some other woman.
Willoughby, hearing the taunt, resigned himself
to the inevit-
able. Nothing that he could do might now avert the breaking
storm, all his words would only be twisted into fresh griefs. But
sad experience had taught him that to take refuge in silence was
more fatal still. When Esther was in such a mood as this it was
best to supply the fire with fuel, that, through the very violence of
the conflagration, it might the sooner burn itself out.
So he said what soothing things he could, and Esther caught
them up, disfigured them, and flung them back at him with
she vituperated the conduct of his family in never taking the
smallest notice of her marriage ; and she detailed the insolence of
the landlady, who had told her that morning she pitied ” poor Mr.
Willoughby,” and had refused to go out and buy herrings for
Esther’s early dinner.
Every affront or grievance, real or imaginary, since the dayshe
and Willoughby had first met, she poured forth with a fluency due
to frequent repetition, for, with the exception of to-day’s added
injuries, Willoughby had heard the whole litany many times
While she raged and he looked at her, he remembered he had
once thought her pretty. He had seen beauty in her rough brown
hair, her strong colouring, her full red mouth. He fell into
musing …. a woman may lack beauty, he told himself, and yet
Meantime Esther reached white heats of passion,
and the strain
could no longer be sustained. She broke into sobs and began to
shed tears with the facility peculiar to her. In a moment her face
was all wet with the big drops which rolled down her cheeks
faster and faster and fell with audible splashes on to the table, on
to her lap, on to the floor. To this tearful abundance, formerly a
surprising spectacle, Willoughby was now acclimatised ; but the
remnant of chivalrous feeling not yet extinguished in his bosom
forbade him to sit stolidly by while a woman wept, without
seeking to console her. As on previous occasions, his peace-
overtures were eventually accepted. Esther’s tears gradually
ceased to flow, she began to exhibit a sort of compunction, she
wished to be forgiven, and, with the kiss of reconciliation, passed
into a phase of demonstrative affection perhaps more trying to
Willoughby’s patience than all that had preceded it. ” You don’t
The Yellow Book—Vol. I. G
reiterated ; and he asseverated that he loved her until he loathed
himself. Then at last, only half satisfied, but wearied out with
vexation—possibly, too, with a movement of pity at the sight of
his haggard face—she consented to leave him ; only what was he
going to do ? she asked suspiciously : write those rubbishing
stories of his ? Well, he must promise not to stay up more than
half an hour at the latest only until he had smoked one pipe !
Willoughby promised, as he would have promised
earth to secure to himself a half-hour s peace and solitude. Esther
groped for her slippers, which were kicked off under the table ;
scratched four or five matches along the box and threw them away
before she succeeded in lighting her candle ; set it down again to
contemplate her tear-swollen reflection in the chimney-glass, and
burst out laughing.
” What a fright I do look, to be sure ! ” she remarked com-
placently, and again thrust her two hands up through her dis-
ordered curls. Then, holding the candle at such an angle that the
grease ran over on to the carpet, she gave Willoughby another
vehement kiss and trailed out of the room with an ineffectual
attempt to close the door behind her.
Willoughby got up to shut it himself, and
wondered why it was
that Esther never did any one mortal thing efficiently or well.
Good God ! how irritable he felt ! It was impossible to write.
He must find an outlet for his impatience, rend or mend
something. He began to straighten the room, but a wave or
disgust came over him before the task was fairly commenced.
What was the use ? To-morrow all would be bad as ever.
What was the use of doing anything ? He sat down by the table
and leaned his head upon his hands.
The past came back to him in pictures : his boyhood’s past first
of all. He saw again the old home, every inch of which was
familiar to him as his own name ; he reconstructed in his thought
all the old well-known furniture, and replaced it precisely as it had
stood long ago. He passed again a childish finger over the rough
surface of the faded Utrecht velvet chairs, and smelled again the
strong fragrance of the white lilac-tree, blowing in through the
open parlour-window. He savoured anew the pleasant mental
atmosphere produced by the dainty neatness of cultured women,
the companionship of a few good pictures, of a few good books.
Yet this home had been broken up years ago, the dear familiar
things had been scattered far and wide, never to find themselves
under the same roof again ; and from those near relatives who still
remained to him he lived now hopelessly estranged.
Then came the past of his first love-dream, when he worshipped
at the feet of Nora Beresford, and, with the wholeheartedness of
the true fanatic, clothed his idol with every imaginable attribute of
virtue and tenderness. To this day there remained a secret shrine
in his heart wherein the Lady of his young ideal was still
enthroned, although it was long since he had come to perceive she
had nothing whatever in common with the Nora of reality. For
the real Nora he had no longer any sentiment : she had passed
altogether out of his life and thoughts ; and yet, so permanent is
all influence, whether good or evil, that the effect she wrought
upon his character remained. He recognised to-night that her
treatment of him in the past did not count for nothing among the
various factors which had determined his fate.
Now the past of only last year returned, and, strangely enough,
this seemed farther removed from him than all the rest. He had
been particularly strong, well and happy this time last year. Nora
was dismissed from his mind, and he had thrown all his energies
furnished rooms had become through habit very pleasant to him.
In being his own they were invested with a greater charm than
another man’s castle. Here he had smoked and studied, here he
had made many a glorious voyage into the land of books. Many
a home-coming, too, rose up before him out of the dark un-
genial streets to a clean blazing fire, a neatly laid cloth, an evening
of ideal enjoyment ; many a summer twilight when he mused at
the open window, plunging his gaze deep into the recesses of his
neighbour’s lime-tree, where the unseen sparrows chattered with
such unflagging gaiety.
He had always been given to much day-dreaming, and it was in
the silence of his rooms of an evening that he turned his phantas-
mal adventures into stories for the magazines ; here had come to
him many an editorial refusal, but, here, too, he had received the
news of his first unexpected success. All his happiest memories
were embalmed in those shabby, badly furnished rooms.
Now all was changed. Now might there be no longer any
soft indulgence of the hour’s mood. His rooms and everything he
owned belonged now to Esther, too. She had objected to most of
his photographs, and had removed them. She hated books, and were
he ever so ill-advised as to open one in her presence, she im-
mediately began to talk, no matter how silent or how sullen her
previous mood had been. If he read aloud to her she either
yawned despairingly, or was tickled into laughter where there was
no reasonable cause. At first, Willoughby had tried to educate
her and had gone hopefully to the task. It is so natural to think
you may make what you will of the woman who loves you. But
Esther had no wish to improve. She evinced all the self-
satisfaction of an illiterate mind. To her husband’s gentle
admonitions she replied with brevity that she thought her way
he might do the other thing, she was too old to go to school again.
He gave up the attempt, and, with humiliation at his prerious
fatuity, perceived that it was folly to expect a few weeks of his
companionship could alter or pull up the impressions of years,
or rather of generations.
Yet here he paused to admit a curious thing : it was not only
Esther’s bad habits which vexed him, but habits quite unblame-
worthy in themselves, and which he never would have noticed in
another, irritated him in her. He disliked her manner of standing,
of walking, of sitting in a chair, of folding her hands. Like a
lover he was conscious of her proximity without seeing her. Like
a lover, too, his eyes followed her every movement, his ear noted
every change in her voice. But, then, instead of being charmed
by everything as the lover is, everything jarred upon him.
What was the meaning of this ? To-night the anomaly pressed
upon him : he reviewed his position. Here was he quite a young
man, just twenty-six years of age, married to Esther, and bound to
live with her so long as life should last twenty, forty, perhaps
fifty years more. Every day of those years to be spent in her
society ; he and she face to face, soul to soul ; they two alone
amid all the whirling, busy, indifferent world. So near together in
semblance, in truth so far apart as regards all that makes life dear.
Willoughby groaned. From the woman he did not
he had never loved, he might not again go free ; so much he
recognised. The feeling he had once entertained for Esther, strange
compound of mistaken chivalry and flattered vanity, was long since
extinct ; but what, then, was the sentiment with which she inspired
him ? For he was not indifferent to her—no, never for one instant
could he persuade himself he was indifferent, never for one instant
could he banish her from his thoughts. His mind’s eye followed
dwelt upon her actual presence. She was the principal object of
the universe to him, the centre around which his wheel of life
revolved with an appalling fidelity.
What did it mean ? What could it mean ? he asked himself
And the sweat broke out upon his forehead and his hands grew
cold, for on a sudden the truth lay there like a written word upon
the tablecloth before him. This woman, whom he had taken to
himself for better for worse, inspired him with a passion intense
indeed, all-masterful, soul-subduing as Love itself — . . . But when
he understood the terror of his Hatred, he laid his head upon his
arms and wept, not facile tears like Esther’s, but tears wrung out
from his agonising, unavailing regret.
By William Watson
AT the hushed brink of twilight,—when, as though
Some solemn journeying phantom paused to lay
An ominous finger on the awestruck day,
Earth holds her breath till that great presence go,—
A moment comes of visionary glow,
Pendulous twixt the gold hour and the grey,
Lovelier than these, more eloquent than they
Of memory, foresight, and life’s ebb and flow.
So have I known, in some fair woman’s face,
While viewless yet was Time’s more gross imprint,
The first, faint, hesitant, elusive hint
Of that invasion of the vandal years
Seem deeper beauty than youth’s cloudless grace,
Wake subtler dreams, and touch me nigh to tears.
II—Night on Curbar Edge, Derbyshire
NO echo of man’s life pursues my ears ;
Nothing disputes this Desolation’s reign ;
Change comes not, this dread temple to profane,
Where time by aeons reckons, not by years.
Its patient form one crag, sole-stranded, rears,
Type of whate’er is destined to remain
While yon still host encamped on Night’s waste plain
Keeps armed watch, a million quivering spears.
Hushed are the wild and wing’d lives of the moor ;
The sleeping sheep nestle neath ruined wall,
Or unhewn stones in random concourse hurled :
Solitude, sleepless, listens at Fate’s door ;
And there is built and stablisht over all
Tremendous Silence, older than the world.
A Sentimental Cellar
By George Saintsbury
[It would appear from the reference to a ” Queen ” that the following
piece was written in or with a view to the reign of Queen Anne,
though an anachronism or two (such as a reference to the ’45
and a quotation from Adam Smith) may be noted. On the
other hand, an occasional mixture of ” you ” and ” thou ” seems
to argue a date before Johnson. It must at any rate have been
composed for, or in imitation of the style of, one or other of the
eighteenth-century collections of Essays.]
IT chanced the other day that I had a mind to visit my old
friend Falernianus. The maid who opened the door to me
showed me into his study, and apologised for her master’s absence
by saying that he was in the cellar. He soon appeared, and I
rallied him a little on the gravity of his occupation. Falernianus,
I must tell you, is neither a drunkard nor a man of fortune. But
he has a pretty taste in wine, indulges it rather in collection than
in consumption, and arranges his cellar (or, as he sometimes calls
it, ” cellaret “) himself, having no butler or other man-servant.
He took my pleasantry very good-humouredly ; and when I
asked him further if I might behold this temple of his devotions
he complied at once. ” Tis rather a chantry than a temple,
please ; and if you are minded to hear a sermon, perhaps I can
preach one different from what you may expect at an Oracle of
We soon reached the cavern, which, indeed, was much less
magnificent than that over which Bacbuc presided ; and I
perused, not without interest (for I had often tasted the contents),
the various bins in which bottles of different shapes and sizes were
stowed away with a modest neatness. Falernianus amused him-
self, and did not go so far as to weary me, with some tales of luck
or disappointment in his purchases, of the singular improvement
of this vintage, and the mortifying conduct of that. For these
wine-lovers are curious in their phrase ; and it is not disgusting to
hear them say regretfully that the claret of such and such a year
“has not spoken yet”; or that another was long “under the
curse of the seventies.” This last phrase, indeed, had a grandilo
quent and romantic turn which half surprised me from my friend,
a humourist with a special horror of fine speech or writing, and
turning sharply I saw a smile on his lips.
” But,” said I, ” my Falernianus,
your sermon ? For I scarce
think that this wine-chat would be dignified by you with such a
“You are right, Eugenius,” answered he,
” but I do not quite
know whether I am wise to disclose even to you the ruling fancy
under which I have formed this little liquid museum, or Baccheum
if you prefer it.”
” I think you may,” said I, ” for in the first place we are old
enough friends for such confidences, and in the second I know
you to be too much given to laugh at your own foibles to be
greatly afraid of another’s ridicule.”
” You say well,” he said, ” so mark ! For if my sermon inflicts
words of their favourite Molière, “You have willed it.””
“I do not, Eugenius, pretend to be
indifferent to good wine in
itself. But when I called this little cellar of mine just now a
museum I did no dishonour to the daughters of Mnemosyne.
For you will observe that wine, by the fact of its keeping powers
and by the other fact of its date being known, is a sort of calendar
made to the hand of whoso would commemorate, with a festive
solemnity, the things that are, as Mr. Drydensays,
“If not the mere juice of the grape (for the merit of the strongest
wine after fifty or sixty years is mostly but itself a memory), strong
waters brewed on the day of a man’s birth will keep their fire
and gain ever fresh mellowness though he were to outlive the
longest lifetime ; and in these little flasks here, my Eugenius,
you will find a cup of Nantz that was born with me, and that
will keep its virtues long after thou and I have gone to solve
the great enigma. Again, thou seest those pints of red port
which nestle together ? Within a few days, Eugenius, of the
time when that must was foaming round the Douro peasants, I
made mine entrance at the University. You can imagine with
what a mixture of tender and humorous feelings I quaff them now
and then. When their juice was tunned, what amiable visions,
what boyish hopes floated before my eyes ! I was to carry off
all that Cam or Isis had of honours or profit, all that either
could give of learning. I was to have my choice of learned
retirement on the one hand, or of ardent struggle at the hoarse
bar on the other, with the prizes of the senate beyond. They
were scarce throwing down their crust when that dream faded ;
saw clearly that metaphysical aid was wanting, and that a very
different fate must be mine. I make no moan over it, Eugenius,
and I puff away like a worse than prostitute as she is, the demon
Envy when she whispers in my ear the names of Titius or Seius,
and adds, Had they better parts, or only better stars than you ?
But as they fable that the wine itself throbs with the early move
ment of the sap in the vines, so, Eugenius, when I sip that cordial
(and truth tis a noble vintage) the old hopes, the old follies, the
old dreams waken in me, and I am once more eighteen.”
” Look yonder again at those cobwebbed vessels of various
shapes that lie side by side, although of different vineyards, in the
peaceful bins. They all date from a year in which the wheel of
fortune brought honest men to the top in England ; and if only
for a brief space, as, I am told, they sing in North Britain, the
de’il went hame wi’ a’ the Whigs before him (I must tell you,
Mr.——, that Falernianus, though a loyal subject to our good
Queen, is a most malignant Tory, and indeed I have heard him
impeached of Jacobitism by ill-willers). But no more of politics.”
He paused a moment and then went on: “I think I see you smile
again, Eugenius, and say to yourself, These are but dry-lipped
subjects for so flowing a calendar. And to tell the truth, my
friend, the main part of my ephemerides of this kind has been filled
by the aid of the goddess who was ever nearest and kindest to
Bacchus. In yonder bin lie phials of the mightiest port that
Lusitanian summers ever blackened, and flasks of sack from the
more southern parts of that peninsula, which our Ben or his son
Herrick would have loved. In the same year which saw the
pressing of these generous juices the earth was made more fair by
the birth of Bellamira and Candiope. The blackest purple of the
Lusitanian grape is not so black as the tresses of Candiope’s hair,
locks of Bellamira; but if I let the sunlight play through both,
Love, with fantastic triumph, shows me, as the bright motes
flicker and flee through the sack, the tawny eyes of Candiope, and
the stain, no longer black or purple, but rosy red, that floats from
the Oportian juice on the white napery, recalls the velvet blush of
” And this ? ” I said, pointing to a bin of Bordeaux near me.
” Thou shalt try it this very day,” said Falernianus with a laugh,
which I thought carried off some feelings a little overstrained ;
” tis a right pleasant wine, and they made it in the year when I first
saw the lips of Damaris. The flavour is not unlike theirs, and if
it should fluster thine head a little, and cause thee what men call
heartburn, I will not say that the effects are wholly dissimilar. “
It is not like Falernianus even to jest at women, and I turned to
another. His face cleared. ” Many a year has passed,” he said,
“since the grape that bore that juice was gathered, and even as it
was ripening it chanced that I met Lalage and won her. The
wine was always good and the love likewise ; but in neither in
their early years was there half the pleasure that there is now. But
I weary you, Eugenius, and perhaps the philosopher speaks truly
in saying that these things are not matters of sympathy, or, as the
Scripture saith, a stranger is not partaker of them. Suffice it to
say that these imprisoned rubies and topazes, amethysts and
jacinths, never flash in the glass, nor collect their deeper body of
colour in the flagon, without bringing a memory with them, that
my lips seldom kiss them without recalling other kisses, my
eye never beholds them without seeing other colours and other
forms in “the sessions of sweet silent thought.” At the refining
of this elixir I assumed the virile gown ; when that nectar was fit
for drinking I made my first appearance in the field of letters ; and
The Yellow Book—Vol. I. H
hopes. When I am dead, or if any reverse of fortune makes me
part with this cabinet of quintessence, it will pass to heirs or pur-
chasers as so much good wine and nothing more. To me it is
that and much more—a casket of magic liquors, a museum, as I
have called it, of glasses like that of Dr. Dee, in which I see again
the smile of beauty and the hope of youth, in which once more I
win, lose, possess, conquer, am defeated ; in which I live over
again in the recesses of fantasy the vanished life of the past.”
” But it is not often that I preach in this fashion. Let us take
a turn in the garden while they get dinner ready, that you may
taste,” and he smiled, “that you may taste—if you dare—the wine
that I have likened to the lips of Damaris.”
WHY is it I remember yet
You, of all women one has met
In random wayfare, as one meets
The chance romances of the street?,
The Juliet of a night ? I know
Your heart holds many a Romeo.
And I, who call to mind your face
In so serene a pausing-place,
Where the bright pure expanse of sea,
The shadowy shore’s austerity,
Seems a reproach to you and me,
I too have sought on many a breast
The ecstasy of love’s unrest,
I too have had my dreams, and met
(Ah me !) how many a Juliet.
Why is it, then, that I recall
You, neither first nor last of all ?
For, surely as I see to-night
The glancing of the lighthouse light,
Against the sky, across the bay,
As turn by turn it falls my way,
Out of the empty night arise,
Child, you arise and smile to me
Out of the night, out of the sea,
The Nereid of a moment there,
And is it seaweed in your hair ?
O lost and wrecked, how long ago,
Out of the drowned past, I know,
You come to call me, come to claim
My share of your delicious shame.
Child, I remember, and can tell
One night we loved each other well ;
And one night’s love, at least or most,
Is not so small a thing to boast.
You were adorable, and I
Adored you to infinity,
That nuptial night too briefly borne
To the oblivion of morn.
Oh, no oblivion ! for I feel
Your lips deliriously steal
Along my neck, and fasten there ;
I feel the perfume of your hair,
And your soft breast that heaves and dips,
Desiring my desirous lips,
And that ineffable delight
When souls turn bodies, and unite
In the intolerable, the whole
Rapture of the embodied soul.
That joy was ours, we passed it by ;
You have forgotten me, and I
An instant from oblivion.
find I, remembering, would declare
That joy, not shame, is ours to share,
Joy that we had the will and power,
In spite of fate, to snatch one hour,
Out of vague nights, and days at strife,
So infinitely full of life.
And tis for this I see you rise,
A wraith, with starlight in your eyes,
Here, where the drowsy-minded mood
Is one with Nature’s solitude ;
For this, for this, you come to me
Out of the night, out of the sea.
WHEN I was a child some one gave me a family of white
mice. I don’t remember how old I was, I think about
ten or eleven ; but I remember very clearly the day I received
them. It must have been a Thursday, a half-holiday, for I had
come home from school rather early in the afternoon. Alexandre,
dear old ruddy round-faced Alexandre, who opened the door for
me, smiled in a way that seemed to announce, ” There’s a surprise
in store for you, sir.” Then my mother smiled too, a smile, I
thought, of peculiar promise and interest. After I had kissed her
she said, ” Come into the dining-room. There’s something you
will like.” Perhaps I concluded it would be something to eat.
Anyhow, all agog with curiosity, I followed her into the dining-
room—and Alexandre followed me, anxious to take part in the
rejoicing. In the window stood a big cage, enclosing the family
of white mice.
I remember it as a very big cage indeed ; no doubt I should
find it shrunken to quite moderate dimensions if I could see it
again. There were three generations of mice in it : a fat old
couple, the founders of the race, dozing phlegmatically on their
trim and youthful-looking, rushing irrelevantly hither and thither,
with funny inquisitive little faces ; and then a squirming mass of
pink things, like caterpillars, that were really infant mice, new
born. They didn’t remain infants long, though. In a few days
they had put on virile togas of white fur, and were scrambling
about the cage and nibbling their food as independently as their
elders. The rapidity with which my mice multiplied and grew
to maturity was a constant source of astonishment to me. It
seemed as if every morning I found a new litter of young mice in
the cage—though how they had effected an entrance through the
wire gauze that lined it was a hopeless puzzle—and these would
have become responsible, self-supporting mice in no time.
My mother told me that somebody had sent me this soul-
stirring present from the country, and I dare say I was made to
sit down and write a letter of thanks. But I’m ashamed to own
I can’t remember who the giver was. I have a vague notion that
it was a lady, an elderly maiden-lady—Mademoiselle ….. some
thing that began with P— who lived near Tours, and who used
to come to Paris once or twice a year, and always brought me a
box of prunes.
Alexandre carried the cage into my
play-room, and set it up
against the wall. I stationed myself in front of it, and remained
there all the rest of the afternoon, gazing in, entranced. To watch
their antics, their comings and goings, their labours and amuse-
ments, to study their shrewd, alert physiognomies, to wonder
about their feelings, thoughts, intentions, to try to divine the
meaning of their busy twittering language—it was such keen,
deep delight. Of course I was an anthropomorphist, and read a
great deal of human nature into them ; otherwise it wouldn t have
been such fun. I dragged myself reluctantly away when I was
my school-books. Before I went to bed I paid them a parting
visit ; they were huddled together in their nest of cotton-wool,
sleeping soundly. And I was up at an unheard-of hour next
morning, to have a bout with them before going to school. I
found Alexandre, in his nightcap and long white apron, occupied
with the soins de propreté, as he said. He cleaned out the cage,
put in fresh food and water, and then, pointing to the fat old
couple, the grandparents, who stopped lazily abed, sitting up and
rubbing their noses together, whilst their juniors scampered merrily
about their affairs, ” Tiens ! On dirait Monsieur et Madame
Denis,” he cried. I felt the appositeness of his allusion ; and the
old couple were forthwith officially denominated Monsieur and
Madame Denis, for their resemblance to the hero and heroine of
the song—though which was Monsieur, and which Madame, I’m
not sure that I ever clearly knew.
It was a little after this that I was taken for the first time in
my life to the play. I fancy the theatre must have been the Porte
St. Martin ; at any rate, it was a theatre in the Boulevard, and
towards the East, for I remember the long drive we had to reach
it. And the piece was The Count of Monte Cristo. In my
memory the adventure shines, of course, as a vague blur of light
and joy ; a child s first visit to the play, and that play The Count
of Monte Cristo! It was all the breath-taking pleasantness of
romance made visible, audible, actual. A vague blur of light and
joy, from which only two details separate themselves. First, the
prison scene, and an aged man, with a long white beard, moving a
great stone from the wall ; then—the figure of Mercedes. I went
home terribly in love with Mercedes. Surely there are no such
grande passions in maturer life as those helpless, inarticulate ones
we burn in secret with before our teens ; surely we never love
home terribly in love with Mercedes. And—do all children lack
humour ?—I picked out the prettiest young ladyish-looking mouse
in my collection, cut off her moustaches, adopted her as my
especial pet, and called her by the name of my dea certè,
All of my mice by this time had become quite tame. They
had plenty to eat and drink, and a comfortable home, and not a
care in the world ; and familiarity with their master had bred
assurance ; and so they had become quite tame and shamefully,
abominably lazy. Luxury, we are taught, was ever the mother of
sloth. I could put my hand in amongst them, and not one would
bestir himself the littlest bit to escape me. Mercedes and I were
inseparable. I used to take her to school with me every day ; she
could be more conveniently and privately transported than a lamb.
Each lycéen had a desk in front of his form, and she would spend
the school-hours in mine, I leaving the lid raised a little, that she
might have light and air. One day, the usher having left the
room for a moment, I put her down on the floor, thereby creating
a great excitement amongst my fellow-pupils, who got up from
their places and formed an eager circle round her. Then suddenly
the usher came back, and we all hurried to our seats, while he,
catching sight of Mercedes, cried out, ” A mouse ! A white
mouse ! Who dares to bring a white mouse to the class ? ” And
he made a dash for her. But she was too quick, too cute, for
“the likes of”Monsieur le Pion. She gave a jump, and in the
twinkling of an eye had disappeared up my leg, under my trousers.
The usher searched high and low for her, but she prudently
remained in her hiding-place ; and thus her life was saved, for
when he had abandoned his ineffectual chase, he announced, ” I
should have wrung her neck.” I turned pale to imagine the doom
she had escaped as by a hair’s breadth. ” It is useless to ask which
if ever I find a mouse again in the class I will wring her neck! “
And yet, in private life, this bloodthirsty pion was a quite gentle,
kindly, underfed, underpaid, shabby, struggling fellow, with literary
aspirations, who would not have hurt a fly.
The secrets of a schoolboy’s pocket! I once saw a boy
surreptitiously angling in Kensington Gardens, with a string and
a bent pin. Presently he landed a fish, a fish no bigger than your
thumb, perhaps, but still a fish. Alive and wet and flopping as
it was, he slipped it into his pocket. I used to carry Mercedes
about in mine. One evening, when I put in my hand to take her
out, I discovered to my bewilderment that she was not alone.
There were four little pink mites of infant mice clinging to her.
I had enjoyed my visit to the theatre so much that at the jour
de l’an my father included a toy-theatre among my presents. It
had a real curtain of green baize, that would roll up and down,
and beautiful coloured scenery that you could shift, and footlights,
and a trap-door in the middle ot the stage ; and indeed it would
have been altogether perfect, except for the Company. I have
since learned that this is not infrequently the case with theatres.
My company consisted of pasteboard men and women who, as
artists, struck me as eminently unsatisfactory. They couldn’t
move their arms or legs, and they had such stolid, uninteresting
faces. I don t know how it first occurred to me to turn them all
off, and fill their places with my mice. Mercedes, of course, was
leading lady ; Monsieur and Madame Denis were the heavy
parents ; and a gentlemanlike young mouse named Leander was
jeune premier. Then, in my leisure, they used to act the most
tremendous plays. I was stage-manager, prompter, playwright,
chorus, and audience, placing the theatre before a looking-glass, so
that, though my duties kept me behind, I could peer round the
the lines and deliver them, but, that my illusion might be the
more complete, I would change my voice for each personage
The lines tried hard to be verses ; no doubt they were vers libres.
At any rate, they were mouth-filling and sonorous. The first
play we attempted, I need hardly say, was Le Comte de Monte
Cristo, such version of it as I could reconstruct from memory.
That had rather a long run. Then I dramatised Aladdin and
the Wonderful Lamp, Paul et Virglnie, Quentin Durward, and
La Dame de Monwreau. Mercedes made a charming Diane,
Leander a brilliant and dashing Bussy; Monsieur Denis was cast
for the role of Frre Gorenflot; and a long, thin, cadaverous-
looking mouse, Don Quichotte by name, somewhat inadequately
represented Chicot. We began, as you see, with melodrama ;
presently we descended to light comedy, playing Les Mmoires d’un
Ane, Jean qui rit, and other works of the immortal Madame de
Sgur. And then at last we turned a new leaf, and became
naturalistic. We had never heard of the naturalist school,
though Monsieur Zola had already published some volumes of the
Rougon-Macquart ; but ideas are in the air ; and we, for our
selves, discovered the possibilities of naturalism simultaneously,
as it were, with the acknowledged apostle of that form of art.
We would impersonate the characters of our own world—our
schoolfellows and masters, our parents, servants, friends—and carry
them through experiences and situations derived from our impres-
sions of real life. Perhaps we rather led them a dance ; and I
dare say those we didn’t like came in for a good deal of
retributive justice. It was a little universe, of which we were the
arch-arbiters, our will the final law.
I don’t know whether all children lack humour ; but I’m sure
no grown-up author-manager can take his business more seriously
it were enraptured hours ; but it was grim, grim earnest. After a
while I began to long for a less subjective public, a more various
audience. I would summon the servants, range them in chairs at
one end of the room, conceal myself behind the theatre, and spout
the play with fervid solemnity. And they would giggle, and make
flippant commentaries, and at my most impassioned climaxes burst
into guffaws. My mice, as has been said, were overfed and
lazy, and I used to have to poke them through their parts with
sticks from the wings ; but this was a detail which a superior
imagination should have accepted as one of the conventions of the
art. It made the servants laugh, however ; and when I would
step to the front in person, and, with tears in my eyes, beseech
them to be sober, they would but laugh the louder. ” Bless you, sir,
they’re only mice—ce ne sont que des souris,” the cook called out on one
such occasion. She meant it as an apology and a consolation, but
it was the unkindest cut of all. Only mice, indeed ! To me
they had been a young gentleman and lady lost in the Desert of
Sahara, near to die for the want of water, and about to be attacked,
captured, and sold into slavery, by a band of Bedouin Arabs. Ah,
well, the artist must steel himself to meet with indifference or
derision from the public, to be ignored, misunderstood, or jeered
at ; and to rely for his real, his legitimate, reward on the pleasure
he finds in his work.
And now there befell a great change in my life. Our home in
Paris was broken up, and we moved to St. Petersburg. It was
impossible to take my mice with us ; their cage would have hope
lessly complicated our impedimenta. So we gave them to the
children of our concierge, Mercedes, however, I was resolved I
would not part with, and I carried her all the way to the Russian
capital by hand. In my heart I was looking to her to found
past. But month succeeded month, and she forever disappointed
me, and at last I abandoned hope. In solitude and exile Mercedes
degenerated sadly ; got monstrously fat ; too indolent to gnaw, let
her teeth grow to a preposterous length ; and in the end died of a
surfeit of smetana.
When I returned to Paris, at the age of twenty,
tofaire mon droit
drolt in the Latin Quarter, I paid a visit to our old house, and
discovered the same old concierge in the loge. I asked her about
the mice, and she told me her children had found the care of them
such a bother that at first they had neglected them, and at last
allowed them to escape. “They took to the walls, and for a long
time afterwards, Monsieur, the mice of this neighbourhood were
pied. To this day they are of a paler hue than elsewhere.”
II—A Broken Looking-Glass
HE climbed the three flights of stone stairs, and put his
into the lock ; but before he turned it, he stopped—to rest,
to take breath. On the door his name was painted in big white
letters, Mr. Richard Dane. It is always silent in the Temple at
midnight ; to-night the silence was dense, like a fog. It was
Sunday night ; and on Sunday night, even within the hushed
precincts of the Temple, one is conscious of a deeper hush.
When he had lighted the lamp in his sitting-room, he let him
self drop into an arm-chair before the empty fireplace. He was
tired, he was exhausted. Yet nothing had happened to tire him.
He had dined, as he always dined on Sundays, with the Rodericks,
in Cheyne Walk; he had driven home in a hansom. There was
lassitude penetrated his body and his spirit, like a fluid. He was
too tired to go to bed.
” I suppose I am getting old,” he thought.
To a second person the matter would have appeared one not of
supposition but of certainty, not of progression but of accomplish
ment. Getting old indeed ? But he was old. It was an old
man, grey and wrinkled and wasted, who sat there, limp, sunken
upon himself, in his easy-chair. In years, to be sure, he was
under sixty ; but he looked like a man of seventy-five.
” I am getting old, I suppose I am getting old.”
And vaguely, dully, he contemplated his life, spread out behind
him like a misty landscape, and thought what a failure it had been.
What had it come to ? What had it brought him ? What had
he done or won ? Nothing, nothing. It had brought him
nothing but old age, solitude, disappointment, and, to-night
especially, a sense of fatigue and apathy that weighed upon him
like a suffocating blanket. On a table, a yard or two away, stood
a decanter of whisky, with some soda-water bottles and tumblers ;
he looked at it with heavy eyes, and he knew that there was what
he needed. A little whisky would strengthen him, revive him,
and make it possible for him to bestir himself and undress and go
to bed. But when he thought of rising and moving to pour the
whisky out, he shrunk from that effort as from an Herculean
labour ; no—he was too tired. Then his mind went back to the
friends he had left in Chelsea half an hour ago ; it seemed an
indefinably long time ago, years and years ago ; they were like
blurred phantoms, dimly remembered from a remote past.
Yes, his life had been a failure ; total, miserable, abject. It had
come to nothing ; its harvest was a harvest of ashes, If it had
been a useful life, he could have accepted its unhappiness ; if it
The Yellow Book Vol.—I. I
it had been both useless and unhappy. He had done nothing for
others, he had won nothing for himself. Oh, but he had tried,
he had tried. When he had left Oxford people expected great
things of him ; he had expected great things of himself. He was
admitted to be clever, to be gifted ; he was ambitious, he was in
earnest. He wished to make a name, he wished to justify his
existence by fruitful work. And he had worked hard. He had
put all his knowledge, all his talent, all his energy, into his work ;
he had not spared himself; he had passed laborious days and
studious nights. And what remained to show for it ? Three or
four volumes upon Political Economy, that had been read in their
day a little, discussed a little, and then quite forgotten super
seded by the books of newer men. ” Pulped, pulped,” he reflected
bitterly. Except for a stray dozen of copies scattered here and
there—in the British Museum, in his College library, on his own
bookshelves his published writings had by this time (he could
not doubt) met with the common fate of unsuccessful literature,
and been ” pulped.”
” Pulped—pulped ; pulped —pulped.” The hateful word beat
rhythmically again and again in his tired brain ; and for a little
while that was all he was conscious of.
So much for the work of his life. And for the rest ? The
play ? The living ? Oh, he had nothing to recall but failure.
It had sufficed that he should desire a thing, for him to miss it ;
that he should set his heart upon a thing, for it to be removed
beyond the sphere of his possible acquisition. It had been so
from the beginning ; it had been so always. He sat motionless as
a stone, and allowed his thoughts to drift listlessly hither and
thither in the current of memory. Everywhere they encountered
wreckage, derelicts : defeated aspirations, broken hopes. Languidly
even found a certain sluggish satisfaction in recognising with what
unvarying harshness destiny had treated him, in resigning himself
to the unmerited.
He caught sight of his hand, lying flat and inert upon the
brown leather arm of his chair. His eyes rested on it, and for the
moment he forgot everything else in a sort of torpid study of it.
How white it was, how thin, how withered ; the nails were
parched into minute corrugations ; the veins stood out like dark
wires ; the skin hung loosely on it, and had a dry lustre : an old
man’s hand. He gazed at it fixedly, till his eyes closed and his
head fell forward. But he was not sleepy, he was only tired and
He raised his head with a start, and changed his position. He
felt cold ; but to endure the cold was easier than to get up, and
put something on, or go to bed.
How silent the world was ; how empty his room. An immense
feeling of solitude, of isolation, fell upon him. He was quite cut
off from the rest of humanity here. If anything should happen
to him, if he should need help of any sort, what could he do ?
Call out ? But who would hear ? At nine in the morning the
porter’s wife would come with his tea. But if anything should
happen to him in the meantime ? There would be npthing for it
but to wait till nine o clock.
Ah, if he had married, if he had had children, a wife, a home or
his own, instead of these desolate bachelor chambers !
If he had married, indeed ! It was his sorrow’s crown of sorrow
that he had not married, that he had not been able to marry, that
the girl he had wished to marry wouldn’t have him. Failure ?
Success ? He could have accounted failure in other things a trifle,
he could have laughed at what the world calls failure, if Elinor
she wouldn’t have him.
He had met her for the first time when he was a lad of twenty,
and she a girl of eighteen. He could see her palpable before him
now : her slender girlish figure, her bright eyes, her laughing
mouth, her warm brown hair curling round her forehead. Oh,
how he had loved her. For twelve years he had waited upon her,
wooed her, hoped to win her. But she had always said, ” No—I
don’t love you. I am very fond of you ; I love you as a friend f
we all love you that way—my mother, my father, my sisters.
But I can’t marry you.” However, she married no one else, she
loved no one else ; and for twelve years he was an ever-welcome
guest in her father’s house ; and she would talk with him, play to
him, pity him ; and he could hope. Then she died. He called
one day, and they said she was ill. After that there came a blank
in his memory—a gulf, full of blackness and redness, anguish and
confusion ; and then a sort of dreadful sudden calm, when they
told him she was dead.
He remembered standing in her room, after the funeral, with
her father, her mother, her sister Elizabeth. He remembered the
pale daylight that filled it, and how orderly and cold and forsaken
it all looked. And there was her bed, the bed she had died in ;
and there her dressing-table, with her combs and brushes ; and
there her writing-desk, her bookcase. He remembered a row of
medicine bottles on the mantelpiece ; he remembered the fierce
anger, the hatred of them, as if they were animate, that had welled
up in his heart as he looked at them, because they had failed to do
” You will wish to have something that was hers, Richard,”
her mother said. ” What would you like ? ”
On her dressing-table there was a small looking-glass in an
with him. She had looked into it a thousand times, no doubt ; she
had done her hair in it ; it had reflected her, enclosed her, contained
her. He could almost persuade himself that something of her
must remain in it. To own it was like owning something of
herself. He carried it home with him, hugging it to his side with
a kind of passion.
He had prized it, he prized it still, as his dearest treasure ; the
looking-glass in which her face had been reflected a thousand
times ; the glass that had contained her, known her ; in which
something of herself, he felt, must linger. To handle it, look at
it, into it, behind it, was like holding a mystic communion with
her ; it gave him an emotion that was infinitely sweet and bitter,
a pain that was dissolved in joy.
The glass lay now, folded in its ivory case, on the chimney-shelf
in front of him. That was its place ; he always kept it on his
chimney-shelf, so that he could see it whenever he glanced round
his room. He leaned back in his chair, and looked at it ; for
a long time his eyes remained fixed upon it. ” If she had married
me, she wouldn t have died. My love, my care, would have healed
her. She could not have died.” Monotonously, automatically,
the phrase repeated itself over and over again in his mind, while
his eyes remained fixed on the ivory case into which her looking-
glass was folded. It was an effect of his fatigue, no doubt, that
his eyes, once directed upon an object, were slow to leave it for
another ; that a phrase once pronounced in his thought had this
tendency to repeat itself over and over again.
But at last he roused himself a little, and leaning forward, put
his hand out and up, to take the glass from the shelf. He wished
to hold it, to touch it and look into it. As he lifted it towards
him, it fell open, the mirror proper being fastened to a leather
open ; and his gasp had been insecure ; and the jerk as it opened
was enough. It slipped from his fingers, and dropped with a crash
upon the hearthstone.
The sound went through him like a physical pain. He sank
back into his chair, and closed his eyes. His heart was beating as
after a mighty physical exertion. He knew vaguely that a calamity
had befallen him ; he could vaguely imagine the splinters of
shattered glass at his feet. But his physical prostration was so
great as to obliterate, to neutralise, emotion. He felt very cold.
He felt that he was being hurried along with terrible speed through
darkness and cold air. There was the continuous roar of rapid
motion in his ears, a faint, dizzy bewilderment in his head. He
felt that he was trying to catch hold of things, to stop his progress,
but his hands closed upon emptiness ; that he was trying to call
out for help, but he could make no sound. On—on—on, he was
deing whirled through some immeasurable abyss of space.
“Ah, yes, he’s dead, quite dead,” the doctor said. ” He has
been dead some hours. He must have passed away peacefully
sitting here in his chair.”
” Poor gentleman,” said the porter’s wife. ” And a broken
looking-glass beside him. Oh, it s a sure sign, a broken looking-
By Edmund Gosse
To A. C. B.
IN ancient Rome, the secret fire,—
An intimate and holy thing, —
Was guarded by a tender choir
Of kindred maidens in a ring;
Deep, deep within the house it lay,
No stranger ever gazed thereon,
But, flickering still by night and day,
The beacon of the house, it shone ;
Thro birth and death, from age to age,
It passed, a quenchless heritage ;
And there were hymns of mystic tone
Sung round about the family flame,
Beyond the threshold all unknown,
Fast-welded to an ancient name ;
There sacrificed the sire as priest,
Before that altar, none but he,
Alone he spread the solemn feast
For a most secret deity ;
He knew the god had once been sire,
And served the same memorial fire.
Ah ! so, untouched by windy roar
Of public issues loud and long,
The Poet holds the sacred door,
And guards the glowing coal of song ;
Not his to grasp at praise or blame,
Red gold, or crowns beneath the sun,
His only pride to tend the flame
That Homer and that Virgil won,
Retain the rite, preserve the act,
And pass the worship on intact.
Before the shrine at last he falls ;
The crowd rush in, a chattering band
But, ‘ere he fades in death, he calls
Another priest to ward the brand ;
He, with a gesture of disdain,
Flings back the ringing brazen gate,
Reproves, repressing, the profane,
And feeds the flame in primal state ;
Content to toil and fade in turn,
If still the sacred embers burn.
II—A Dream of November
FAR, far away, I know not where, I know not how,
The skies are grey, the boughs are bare, bare boughs inflower :
Long lilac silk is softly drawn from bough to bough,
With flowers of milk and buds of fawn, a broidered shower.
Beneath that tent an Empress sits, with slanted eyes,
And wafts of scent from censers flit, a lilac flood ;
Around her throne bloom peach and plum in lacquered dyes,
And many a blown chrysanthemum, and many a bud.
She sits and dreams, while bonzes twain strike some rich bell,
Whose music seems a metal rain of radiant dye ;
In this strange birth of various blooms, I cannot tell
Which spring from earth, which slipped from looms, whichsank from sky.
Beneath her wings of lilac dim, in robes of blue,
The Empress sings a wordless hymn that thrills her bower ;
My trance unweaves, and winds, and shreds, and forms anew
Dark bronze, bright leaves, pure silken threads, in triple flower.
By Fred M. Simpson
Lucy Rimmerton. Harold Sekbourne
The sitting-room in Lucy Rimmerton’s lodgings. She is seated in
front of the fire making some toast.
There ! I think that will do, although it isn’t anything
very great. [Rises.] What a colour I must have ! Harold says
I always manage to toast myself very much better than I do the
bread. [Lights the gas, and begins arranging some flowers on the
table.] His favourite flowers ; I know he will be pleased when
he sees them. How strange it is that he should really care for
me !—I, who am so commonplace and ordinary, hardly pretty
either, although he says I am. I always tell him he might have
done so much better than propose to a poor governess without a
penny.—Oh, if only his book proves a success !—a really great
success !—how glorious it will be ! Why doesn’t the wretched
back on purpose. What dreadful creatures they are ! At first—
squabble, squabble, squabble ; squabble about terms, squabble about
this, another squabble about that, and then, when everything is
finally arranged, delay, delay, delay. “You must wait for the
publishing season.” As though a book were a young lady whose
future might be seriously jeopardised if it made its début at an
[The door opens, and Harold bursts into the room. ]
It’s out, it’s out ; out at last.
What, the book ! Really ! Where is it ? Do show it
Do you think you deserve it !
Oh ! don’t tantalise me. Have you seen it ? What is
it like !
It is printed, and very much like other books.
You are horrid. I believe you have it with you. Have
And what if I say yes ?
You have. Do let me see it.
And will you be very good if I do !
I’ll be angelic.
Then on that condition only—There ! take it gently.
[Lucy snatches it, and cuts the string.] I thought you never cut
There is never a never that hasn’t an exception,
Not a woman’s, certainly.
Oh ! how nice it looks ! And to think that it is yours,
really and truly yours. ” Grace : a Sketch. By Harold Sek-
bourne.” It s delicious ! [Holding the book, dances round the room.]
I shall begin to be jealous. You will soon be more in
love with my book than you are with me.
And why shouldn’t I be ? Haven’ t you always said that
a man’s work is the best part of him ?
If my silly sayings are to be brought up in evidence
against me like this, I shall—
You shall what ?
Take the book back.
Oh, will you ? I should like to see you do it. [Holds
it behind her.] You have got to get it first.
And what are you going to give me for it ?
Isn’t it a presentation copy ?
It is the very first to leave the printer’s.
Then you ought not to want any payment.
I do though, all the same. Come—no payment, no
There, there, there !
Oh ! don’t ! You ll stifle me. And is this for me ;
may I really keep it ?
Of course you may ; I brought it expressly for you.
How nice of you ! And you’ll write my name in it ?
I’ll write the dedication.
What do you mean ?
You shall see. Pen and ink for the author ! A new
pen and virgin ink !
Your Authorship has but to command to be obeyed.
[Sitting down, writes.
] It is printed in all the other
copies, but this one I have had bound specially for you, with a
blank sheet where the dedication comes, so that in your copy, and
yours alone, I can write it myself. There.
[Looks over his shoulder and
reads] “To my Lady
Luce” Oh, Harold, you have dedicated it to me!
Who else could I dedicate it to ? although tis—
” Not so much honouring thee,
As giving it a hope that now
It may immortal be.”
It is good of you.
[Writes again. ] “Harold Sekbourne”—what’s to
day ? oh, yes, — “3rd November, 1863.”
And will people know who the ” Lady Luce” is ?
They will some day. The dedication in my next
book shall be “To my Lady Wife.”
I wonder if I shall ever be that. It seems so long
I don’t mind when it is to-morrow, if you like.
Don’t talk nonsense, although it is my fault for beginning
it. And now sit down no, here in the arm-chair and you shall
have some nice tea.
[She makes and pours out the tea as Harold talks.]
You won’t have to wait long if this proves a success :
and it will be one. I know it ; I feel it. It isn’t only that
everybody who has read it, likes it ; it’s something else that I can’t
describe, not even to you ; a feeling inside, that—call it conceit if
you like, but it isn’t conceit ; it isn’t conceit to feel confidence in
oneself. Why, look at the trash, the arrant trash, that succeeds
every day ; you will say, perhaps, that it succeeds because it is trash,
that trash is what people want they certainly get it. But no
book that ever had real stuff in it has failed yet, and I feel
that—Ha ! ha ! the same old feeling mentioned above. Don’t
think me an awful prig, LuceI don’t talk to anybody else
as I do to you ; and if you only knew what a relief it is to
You have a right to be conceited.
Not yet. I have done nothing yet ; but I mean to.
[Takes up the book.] I wonder what will become of you and
your fellows ; what will be your future ? Will you one day
adorn the shelves of libraries, figure in catalogues of ” Rare books
and first editions,” and be contended for by snuffy, long-clothed
bibliomaniacs, who will bid one against the other for the honour of
possessing you ? Or will you descend to the tables of secondhand
book-stalls marked at a great reduction ; or lie in a heap, with
other lumber, outside the shop-front, all this lot sixpence each,
awaiting there, uncared for, unnoticed, and unknown, your ultimate
destination, the dust-hole ?
You are horrid. What an idea!
No, I don’t think that will be your end. [Puts down
the book.] You are not going to the dustbin, you are going to
be a success. No more hack work for me after this. Why, sup-
posing only the first edition is sold, I more than clear expenses,
and if it runs to two—ten—twenty editions, I shall receive—the
amount fairly takes my breath away. Twentieth thousand ;
doesn’t it sound fine ? We shall have our mansion in Grosvenor
Square yet, Luce; and that charming, little old house we saw the
other day up the river—we’ll have that, too ; so that we can run
down here from Saturday to Monday, to get away from London
fog and nastiness. Yes, I am going to be rich some day—rich
—in ten years time, if this book gets a fair start and I have any
thing like decent luck, I shall be the best known author in
England. [Rises.] The son of the old bookseller who failed will
be able then to repay those who helped him when he wanted help,
and, more delightful thought still, pay back those with interest
The Yellow Book Vol.—I. K
easily have helped him to rise. I am going to have a success, I
feel it. In a few weeks’ time I’ll bring you a batch of criticisms
that will astonish you. But what is the matter ? why so silent
all of a sudden ? has my long and conceited tirade disgusted you ?
No, not at all.
Then what is it ?
I was only thinking that—[hesitates],
Thinking what ? About me :
Yes, about you and—and also about myself
That is just as it should be, about us two together.
Yes, but I was afraid——
[Smiling.] Afraid ! what of?
Nothing, nothing really. I am ashamed that let me give
you some more tea.
No, thanks. Come, let me hear, make a clean breast
I can’t, really ; you would only laugh at me.
Then why deny me a pleasure, for you know I love to
Well, then—if you become famous—and rich——
If I do ; well ?
You won ‘t—you won’t forget me, will you ?
Forget you, what an idea ! Why do I want to become
famous ? why do I want to become rich ? For my own sake ?
for the sake of the money ? Neither. I want it for your sake, so
that you can be rich ; so that you can have everything you can
possibly want. I don’t mind roughing it a bit myself, but——
No more do I : I am sure we might be very happy living
No, thank you ; no second pair fronts for me, or,
place, as though it had never existed ; I want you to only
remember your giving lessons as a nightmare which has passed
and gone. I want you to take a position in the world, to go into
To entertain, receive, lead——
But I could never lead. I detest receiving. I hate
I often wonder if I do. You are so clever and I——
Such a goose. Whatever put such ideas into your
head ? Why, you are actually crying.
I am not.
Then what is that ? [Puts his
finger against her cheek]
What is that little sparkling drop ?
It must be a tear of joy, then.
Which shall be used to christen the book !
Oh, don’t there, you have left a mark.
It is your fault. My finger wouldn’t have done it by
itself. Are you going to be silly any more ?
No, I am not.
And you are going to love me, believe in me, and trust me ?
I do all three— implicitly
[He kisses her.] The
seal of the trinity. [Looks at
his watch.] By Jove, I must be going.
So soon ?
Rather ; I have to dine in Berkeley Square
o’clock, at Sir Humphrey Mockton’s. You would like their house,
it’s a beauty, a seventeenth or eighteenth century one, with such
vulgar—”wool” I think it was, or “cottons,” or some other
commodity ; but his daughter is charming—I should say daughters,
as there are two of them, so you needn’t be jealous.
Jealous ? of course I am not. Have you known them long ?
Oh ! some little time. They are awfully keen to see
my book. I am going to take—send them a copy. You see I
must be civil to these people, they know such an awful lot of the
right sort ; and their recommendation of a book will have more
weight than fifty advertisements. So good-bye. [Takes his
Let me help you. But you are going without noticing
I have been admiring them all along, except when I
was looking at you.
Don’t be silly.
They are charming. Sir Humphrey has some
just the same colours ; you ought to see them ; he has basketsful
sent up every week from his place in Surrey.
No wonder my poor little chrysanthemums didn’t impress
What nonsense ! I would give more for one little
flower from you, than for the contents of all his conservatories.
Then you shall have that for nothing.
Don’t, it will destroy the bunch.
What does that matter ? they are all yours.
You do your best to spoil me.
[Pins the flower into his
button-hole. ] Don’t talk non-
sense. There !
What a swell you have made me look !
Good-bye ; when shall I see you again ?
Not until Sunday, I am afraid ; I am so busy just now.
But I’ll come round early, and, if fine, we’ll go and lunch at
Richmond, and have a good walk across the Park afterwards.
Would you like it ?
Above all things, but—but don’t spend all your money
Bother the money ! I am going to be rich. Good
bye till Sunday.
Au revoir ; and while you are
dining in your grand
house, with lots of grand people, I am going to enjoy a delightful
evening here, not alone, as I shall have your book for company.
Six Months elapse between Scene I. and Scene II.Scene II —The Scene and Persons are the same
Lucy is dressed as before ; she is seated. Harold is in evening dress,
with a flower in his button-hole ; he stands by the fireplace.
Well, all I have to say is, I think you are most
You have no right to say that.
I have if I think it.
Well, you have no right to think it.
My thoughts are not my own, I suppose ?
They are so different from what I should have expected
you to have that I almost doubt it.
Better say I have changed at once.
And so you have.
Who is saying things one has no right to say now ?
I am only saying what I think.
Then if you want to have the right to your own
thoughts, kindly let me have the right to mine. [Walks to the
window] I can’t prevent people sending me invitations, can I ?
You need not accept them.
And make enemies right and left, I suppose ?
I don’t want you to do that, and I don’t want either to
prevent your enjoying yourself ; but—but, I do want to see you
And so you do.
Yes, very—perhaps I should say I want to see you often.
And so do I you, but I can’t be in two places at once.
This is what I mean when I say you are unreasonable. I must
go out. If I am to write, I must study people, character, scenes.
I can’t do that by stopping at home : I can’t do that by coming
here ; I know you and I know your landlady, and there is nobody
else in the house, except the slavey and the cat ; and although the
slavey may be a very excellent servant and the cat a most original
quadruped, still, I don’t want to make elaborate studies of animals
—either four-legged or two. One would imagine, from the way
you talk, that I did nothing except enjoy myself. I only go out in
Still you might spare a little time, now and then, to come
and see me, if only for half an hour.
What am I doing now ? I gave up a dinner-party to
come here to-night.
Do you know it is exactly a month yesterday since you were here last ?
I can’t be always dangling at your apron-strings.
If we are going to be married, we——
Well, when, if you like it better ; we shall see enough
of one another then. I have written to you, it isn’t as though I
hadn’t done that.
But that is not the same thing as seeing you ; and your
letters, too, have been so scrappy. [Harold throws himself into the
arm-chair.] They used to be so different before your book came out.
I had more time then.
I sometimes wish that it had never been published at all,
that you had never written it, or, at all events, that it had never
been such a success.
That’s kind, at all events—deuced kind and considerate !
It seems to have come between us as a barrier. When I
think how eagerly we looked forward to its appearance, what
castles in the air we built as to how happy we were going to be,
and all the things we were going to do, if it were a success, and
now to think that——
[Jumps up. ] Look
here, Lucy, I’m damned if I can’t
stand this much longer ! Nag, nag, nag ! I can’t stand it. I am
worked off my head during the day, I am out half the night,
and when I come here for a little quiet, a little rest, its—[Breaks
I am so sorry. If I had thought——
Can’t you see that you are driving me mad ? I have
been here half an hour, and the whole of the time it has been
nothing but reproaches.
I don’t think they would hove affected you so much if
you hadn’t felt that you deserved them !
There you go again ! I deserve them—[Laughs harshly ].
It is my fault, I suppose, that it is the season ; it is my fault that
people give dinner-parties and balls ; it is my fault, I suppose, that
you don’t go out as much as I do ?
Certainly not ; although, as a matter of fact, I haven’t
been out one single evening for the last three—nearly four—
That’s right ; draw comparisons ; say I’m a selfish
brute. You’ll tell me next that I am tired of you, and——
Harold ! don’t, don’t you you hurt me! Of course
I never thought of such a—[she rises]—You are not, are you ?
I—I couldn’t bear it !
Of course I am not. Don’t be so silly. [He sits.]
It was silly of me, I confess it. I know you better than
that. Why, it’s rank high treason, I deserve to lose my head ; and
my only excuse is that thinking such a thing proves I must have
lost it already. Will your majesty deign to pardon ?
[Testify.] Yes, yes, that’s all right ! There,
you’ll crumple my tie.
I am so sorry ! And now tell me all about your grand
They are not grand to me. Simply because a person
is rich or has a title, I don’t consider them any “grander” than I
—by jove, no ! These people are useful to me, or else I should’t
stand it. They “patronise” me, put their hand on my shoulder
and say, “My dear young friend, we predict great things for you.”
The fools, as though a single one of them was capable even of
forming an opinion, much less of prophesying. They make
remarks about me before my face ; they talk of, and pet, me as
though I were a poodle. I go through my tricks and they applaud ;
and they lean over with an idiotic simper to the dear friend next to
themselves. Bah ! They invite me to their houses, I dine with
them once a week ; but if I were to tell them to-morrow that I
wanted to marry one of their daughters, they would kick me out
of the room, and consider it a greater insult than if the proposal had
come from their own footman.
But that doesn’t matter, because you don’t want to marry
one of them, do you ? Was that Miss Mockton with you in the
Park last Sunday ?
How do you know I was in the Park at all ?
Because I saw you there.
You were spying, I suppose.
Spying ? I don’t know what you mean. I went there
for a walk after Lucy Rimmerton.
Of course not, I was with Mrs. Glover
Your landlady ?
Why not ?—Oh ! you need not be afraid. I shouldn’t
have brought disgrace upon you by obliging you to acknowledge
me before your grand friends. I took good care to keep in the
Do you mean to insinuate that I am a snob ?
Be a little kind.
Well, it is your own fault, you insinuate that——
I was wrong. I apologise, but—but— [begins to cry],
There, don’t make a scene don’t, there’s a good girl.
There, rest your head here, I suppose I am nasty. I didn’t
mean it, really. You must make allowances for me. I am
worried and bothered. I can’t work—at least I can’t do work that
satisfies me—and altogether I am not quite myself. Late hours
are playing the very deuce with my nerves. There, let me kiss
so foolish again.
I—I promise. It is silly of me—now I am all right.
Giboulées d’Avril ! The sun conies out once
the shower is quite over.
Yes, quite over ; you always are so kind. It is my
fault entirely. I—I think my nerves must be a little upset,
We shall make a nice couple, sha’n’t we ? if we are often
going to behave like this ! Now, are you quite calm ?
That s right, because I want you to listen patiently for
a few minutes to what I am going to say ; it is something I want
to talk to you about very seriously. You won’t interrupt me until
I have quite finished, will you ?
What is it ? not that—no, I won’t.
You know we talked about—I mean it was arranged
we should be married the beginning of July—wasn’t it ?
Well, I want to know if you would mind very much
putting it off a little—quite a little only till—the autumn ? I’ll
tell you why. Of course if you do mind very much, I sha’n’t
press it, but—it’s like this : the scene of my new book is, as you
know, laid abroad. I have been trying to write it, but can’t get
on with it one little bit. I want some local colour. I thought
I should be able to invent it, I find I can’t. It is hampering
and keeping me back terribly. And so—and so I thought if
you didn’t mind very much that that if I were to go to France
for—for six months or so—alone, that in fact it would be the
making of me. I have never had an opportunity before ; it has
always been grind, grind, grind, and if I am prevented from
But why shouldn’t we be married as arranged, and spend
our honeymoon over there ?
Because I want to work.
And would my being there prevent you ? You used to
say you always worked so much better when I was——
But you don’t understand. This is different. I want
to work hard and no man could do that on his honeymoon—at
least I know I couldn’t.
No, but—And and till when did you want to put off
our—our marriage ? Until your return ?
Well, that would depend on circumstances. You don’t
suppose I would postpone it for a second, if I could help it ; but
Until my return ? I hope sincerely that it can be managed
then, but, you see, over there I shall be spending money all the
time, and not earning a sou, and—and so we might have to wait a
little bit longer, just until I could replenish the locker, until I had
published and been paid for my new book.
But I have given notice to leave at midsummer.
Has Mrs. Duncan got another governess !
Then you can stop on, can’t you ! They will surely
be only too delighted to keep you.
Yes—I can stop on. [He tries to
kiss her.] No, don’t ;
And you don’t really mind the postponement very
much, do you ?
Not if it will assist you.
I thought you would say that, I knew you would. It
will assist me very much. I shouldn’t otherwise suggest it. It
after waiting all these years, and just as it was so near, too. I
have a good mind not to go, after all—only, if I let this chance
slip, I may never have another. Besides, six months is not so
very long, is it ? And when they are over, then we won’t wait
any longer. You will come and see me off, won’t you ? It would
never do for an engaged man to go away for even six months,
without his lady love coming to see him start.
Yes, I will come. When do you go ?
The end of next week, I expect ; perhaps earlier if I
can manage it. But I shall see you before then. We’ll go and
have dinner together at our favourite little restaurant. When
shall it be ! Let me see, I am engaged on—I can’t quite remember
what my engagements are,
I have none.
Then that’s settled. Good-bye, Luce;
you don’t mind
very much, do you ? The time will soon pass. You are a little
brick to behave as you have done. [Going.] It will be Monday or
Tuesday next for our dinner, but I will let you know. Good
Thirty Years elapse between Scene II. and Scene III.
A well-furnished comfortable room in Lucy Rimmerton’s house.
She is seated in front of the fire, in an easy-chair, reading.
The door opens, without her noticing it, and Agnes comes
in, closes the door gently, crosses the room, and bends over
A happy New Year to you, Aunt Luce.
What ! Agnes, is that you ? I never
heard you come in.
I really think I must be getting deaf.
What nonsense ! I didn’t intend you should hear me.
I wanted to wish you a happy New Year first.
So as to make your Aunt play second fiddle. The same
to you, dear.
Thank you. [Warms her hands at
the fire] Oh, it is
cold ; not here I mean, but out of doors ; the thermometer is
down I don’t know how many degrees below freezing
It seems to agree with you, at all events. You look as
bright and rosy as though you were the New Year itself come to
So I ought to. I ran nearly all the
way, except when I slid, to the great horror of an old gentleman
who was busily engaged lecturing some little boys on the enormity
of their sins in making a beautifully long slide in the middle of the
And what brought you out so early ?
To see you, of course. Besides, the morning is so lovely
all the holidays.
It is all very well for you, but it must be terribly trying
for many people—the poor, for instance.
Yes. [A pause.]
Auntie, you don’t know anything, do
you, about how how poor people live ?
Not so much as I ought to.
I didn’t mean very poor people, not working people. I
meant a person poor like—like I am poor.
[Smiling] Don’t you know how you live yourself?
Of course I do, but—I was thinking of—of a friend of
mine, a governess like myself, who has just got engaged ; and I
I was wondering on how much, or, rather, how little, they could
live. But you don’t know of course. You are rich, and——
But I wasn’t always rich. Thirty years ago when I was
When you were my age ! I like that ! why you are
Little flatterer. Fifty-two last birthday.
Fifty-two ! Well, you don’t look it, at all events.
Gross flatterer. When I was your age I was poor and a
governess as you are.
But I thought that your Aunt Emily
left you all her
So she did, or nearly all ; but that was afterwards. It
isn’t quite thirty years yet since she came back from India, a
widow, just after she had lost her husband and only child. I was
very ill at the time—I almost died ; and she, good woman as she
was, came and nursed me.
Of course, I know. I have heard father talk about it.
And then she was taken ill, wasn’t she ?
Yes, almost before I was well. It was very unfair that
she should leave everything to me ; your father was her nephew,
just as I was her niece, but he wouldn’t hear of my sharing it
I should think not indeed ! I should be very sorry to
think that my father would ever allow such a thing. Although,
at the same time, it is all very well for you to imagine that you
don’t share it, but you do. Who pays for Lillie’s and May’s and
George’s schooling ? Who sent Alfred to Cambridge, and Frank to——
Don’t, please. What a huge family you are, to be sure.
And last, but not least, who gave me a chance of going
to Girton ? Oh, we are not supposed to know anything about it,
I know, but you see we do. You thought you had arranged it
all so beautifully, and kept every one of us entirely in the dark,
but you haven’t one little bit.
Nonsense, Agnes, you——
Oh, you are a huge big fraud, you know you are ; I
am quite ashamed of you. [Lucy is going to speak.] You are
not to be thanked, I know ; and you needn’t be afraid, I am not
going to do so ; but if you could only hear us when we are talking
quietly together, you would find that a certain person, who shall
be nameless, is simply worship—
Hush ! you silly little girl. You don’t know what you
are saying. You have nothing to thank me for whatsoever.
Haven’t we just ? I know better.
Young people always do. So you see I do know some
thing of how “the poor” live.
Yes, but you were never married.
That is what I want to—Why weren’t you
it is fearfully rude I know, but I have wondered so often. You
are lovely now, and you must have been beautiful when you were
No, I wasn’t—I was barely pretty.
I can’t believe that.
And I am not going to accept your description of me
now as a true one ; although I confess I am vain enough—
even in my present old age—to look in the glass occasionally,
and say to myself: “You are better-looking now than you ever
Well, at all events you were always an angel.
And men don’t like angels ; besides—I was poor.
You were not poor when you got Aunt Emily’s money,
No, but then it was too—— I mean I then had no
wish to marry.
You mean you determined to sacrifice yourself for us,
that is what you mean.
I must have possessed a very prophetic soul then, or
been gifted with second sight, as none of you, except Reginald,
were born. But to come back to your friend, Agnes; has she no
Nor he ?
Not a penny.
And they want to get married ?
And are afraid they haven’t enough.
They certainly haven’t.
Then why don’t they apply to some friend or relative
who has more than enough ; say, to—an aunt, for instance.
And what is his name ?
And hers is ?
Oh, I never intended to tell you. I didn’t mean to say
When did it happen ?
Three days ago. That is to say, he proposed to me
then, but of course it has been going on for a long time. I could
see that he at least—I thought I could see. But I can hardly
realise it yet. It seems all so strange. And I did intend telling
you, I felt I must tell somebody, although George doesn’t want it
known yet, because, as I told you, he—and so I haven’t said a word
to father yet ; but I must soon and you won’t say anything, will
you ? and—and oh, I am silly.
There, have your cry out, it will do you good. Now
tell me about Mr. Reddell. What is he ?
He is a writer—an author. Don’t you remember I
showed you a story of his a little time ago ?
I thought I knew the name.
And you said you liked it ; I was so pleased.
Yes, I did. I thought it clever and——
He is clever ; and I do so want you to know him. He
wants to know you, too. You will try to like him, won’t you,
for my sake I
I have no doubt I shall.
He is just bringing out a book. Some of the stories
have been published before ; the one you read was one, and if that
proves a success then it will be all right ; we shall be able to get
Wait a minute, Agnes. How long have you known him ?
The Yellow Book Vol.—I. L
Over a yea— nearly two years.
And do you really know him well ? Are you quite
certain you can trust him ?
What a question ! How can you doubt it ? You
wouldn’t for a minute if you knew him.
I ought not to, knowing you, you mean. And supposing
this book is a success. May it not spoil him make him con-
All the better if it does. He is not conceited enough,
and so I always tell him.
But may it not make him worldly ? May he not, after a
time, regret his proposal to you if he sees a chance of making a
Impossible. What a dreadful opinion you must have of
mankind. You don’t think it really, I know. I have never heard
you say or hint anything nasty about anybody before.
I only do it for your own good, my dear. I once knew
a man—just such another as you describe Mr. Reddell to be. He
was an author, too, and—and when I knew him his first book was
also just about to appear. He was engaged to be married to
to quite a nice girl too, although she was never so pretty as
Who is the flatterer now ?
The book was published. It was a great success. He
became quite the lion of the season—it is many years ago now.
The wedding-day was definitely fixed. Two months before the
date he suggested a postponement—for six months.
How horrible !
And just about the time originally fixed upon for the
wedding she received a letter from him he was abroad at the
time—suggesting that their engagement had better be broken off.
Oh, the brute ! the big brute ! But she didn’t consent,
did she ?
Of course. The man she had loved was dead. The new
person she was indifferent to.
But how—but you don’t suggest that Mr.
behave like that ? he couldn’t. He wouldn’t, I feel certain. But
there must surely have been something else ; I can’t believe that
any man would behave so utterly unfeelingly—so brutally. They
say there are always two sides to every story. Mayn’t there have
been some reason that you knew nothing about ? Mayn’t she
have done something ? She must have been a little bit to blame,
too, and this side of the story you never heard.
Yes—it is possible.
I can’t think that any man would deliberately behave so
like a cad as you say he did.
It may have been her fault. I used to think it might be
—just a little, as you say.
Well, it sha’n’t be mine at all events. I won’t give
any cause—besides even if I did—— Oh, no, it is utterly
impossible to imagine such a thing !
I hope it is, for your sake.
Of course it is ; of that I am quite certain. And you
don’t think it is very wrong of me to—to——
To say Yes to a man you love. No, my dear, that can
never be wrong, although it may be foolish.
From a worldly point of view, perhaps ; but I should
never have thought that you——
I didn’t mean that. But love seems to grow so quickly
when you once allow it to do so, that it is sometimes wiser to——
but never mind, bring him to see me, and—and may you be
happy. [long pause.]
You are crying now, Auntie ! You have nothing——
Haven’t I ? What, not at the chance of losing you ?
So this is what brought you out so early this morning and occa-
sioned your bright, rosy cheeks ? You didn’t only come to see
To see you and talk to you, yes, that was all. No,
by-the-by, it wasn’t all. Have you seen a paper this morning ?
No ? I thought it would interest you so I brought it round. It
is bad news, not good news ; your favourite author is dead.
I am afraid my favourite authors have been dead very
I should say the author of your favourite book.
Sir Harold Sekbourne. [Lucy leans back in her
He died last night. Here it is ; here is the paragraph. [Reads]
We egret to announce the death of Sir Harold Sekbourne, the
well-known novelist, which occurred at his town house, in Prince’s
Gate, late last evening.” Shall I read it to you ?
No no, give me the paper. And and, Agnes, do you
mind going down to Franklin’s room, and telling her that receipt
you promised her ?
For the Japanese custard ? Of course I will ; I quite
forgot all about it. There it is. [Gives her the paper, indicating
the paragraph with her finger, then goes out.]
[Sits staring at the paper for a few
seconds, then reads
slowly.]Sir Harold had been slightly indisposed for some weeks,
but no anxiety was felt until two days ago, when a change for the
worse set in, and despite all the care, attention, and skill of Drs.
Thornton and Douglas, who hardly left his bedside, he never
rallied, and passed peacefully away, at the early age of fifty-eight,
at the time above mentioned. It is now thirty years ago since the
which had such an immediate and great success. This was followed
nearly a year afterwards by ‘Alain Treven,’ the scene of which is
laid in Brittany ; and from that time until his death his pen was
never idle. His last work, ‘The Incoming Tide’, has just been
published in book form, it having appeared in the pages of The
Illustrated Courier during the last year. Despite the rare power
of his later works, disclosing thoroughly, as they do, his scholarly
knowledge, his masterly construction, vivid imagination, and his
keen insight into character and details of every-day life, they none
of them can, for exquisite freshness and rare delicacy of execution,
compare with his first publication, ‘Grace : a Sketch.’ We have
before us, as we write, a first edition of this delightful story, with
its curiously sentimental dedication ‘To my Lady Luce,’ which in
the subsequent editions was omitted. A baronetcy was conferred
on Sir Harold by her Majesty two years ago, at the personal insti-
gation, it is said, of the Prime Minister, who is one of his greatest
admirers, but the title is now extinct, as Sir Harold leaves no son.
He married in June, 1866, a daughter of the late Sir Humphrey
Mockton, who survives him. His two daughters are both mar-
ried one to Lord Duncan, eldest son of the Earl of Andstar;
the other to Sir Reginald de Laver. His loss will be greatly felt,
not only in the literary world, but wherever the English tongue is
spoken and read.
[Lucy goes to the bookcase takes out a book, and opens
Agnes comes in.]
Franklin is silly. I had to repeat the
times, and even now I doubt if she understands them properly.
[Comes behind Lucy and looks over her shoulder.] Why, I never
knew you had a first edition. [Lucy starts and closes the book,
then opens it again.] May I look at it ? But this is written ;
bourne, 3rd November, 1863. What a strong handwriting it
is ! Luce ! how strange that the name should be the same as——
[Looks suddenly at Lucy.] Oh, Auntie, forgive me. I never
dreamt—— I am so sorry.
A Lost Masterpiece
A City Mood, Aug. ’93
By George Egerton
I REGRET it, but what am I to do ? It was not my fault—I
only regret it. It was thus it happened to me.
I had come to town straight from a hillside cottage in a lonely
ploughland, with the smell of the turf in my nostrils, and the
swish of the scythes in my ears ; the scythes that flashed in the
meadows where the upland hay, drought-parched, stretched thirstily
up to the clouds that mustered upon the mountain-tops, and
marched mockingly away, and held no rain.
The desire to mix with the crowd, to lay my ear once more to
the heart of the world and listen to its life-throbs, had grown too
strong for me ; and so I had come back—but the sights and sounds
of my late life clung to me—it is singular how the most opposite
things often fill one with associative memory.
That gamin of the bird-tribe, the Cockney sparrow,
the swallows that built in the tumble-down shed ; and I could
almost see the gleam of their white bellies, as they circled
in ever narrowing sweeps and clove the air with forked wings,
uttering a shrill note, with a querulous grace-note in front
The freshness of the country still lurked in me, unconsciously
influencing my attitude towards the city.
One forenoon business drove me citywards, and following an
inclination that always impels me to water-ways rather than road
ways, I elected to go by river steamer.
I left home in a glad mood, disposed to view the whole world
with kindly eyes. I was filled with a happy-go-lucky insouciance
that made walking the pavements a loafing in Elysian fields.
The coarser touches of street-life, the oddities of accent, the
idiosyncrasies of that most eccentric of city-dwellers, the Lon-
doner, did not jar as at other times—rather added a zest to enjoy
ment ; impressions crowded in too quickly to admit of analysis, I
was simply an interested spectator of a varied panorama.
I was conscious, too, of a peculiar dual action of brain and
senses, for, though keenly alive to every unimportant detail of the
life about me, I was yet able to follow a process by which delicate
inner threads were being spun into a fanciful web that had nothing
to do with my outer self.
At Chelsea I boarded a river steamer bound for
The river was wrapped in a delicate grey haze with a golden sub-
tone, like a beautiful bright thought struggling for utterance
through a mist of obscure words. It glowed through the turbid
waters under the arches, so that I feared to see a face or a hand
wave through its dull amber—for I always think of drowned
creatures washing wearily in its murky depths—it lit up the great
warehouses, and warmed the brickwork of the monster chimneys
in the background. No detail escaped my outer eyes not the
hideous green of the velveteen in the sleeves of the woman on my
left, nor the supercilious giggle of the young ladies on my right,
who made audible remarks about my personal appearance.
But what cared I ? Was I not happy, absurdly happy ?—
and pathos, quaint contrasts, whimsical details that tickled my
sense of humour deliciously. The elf that lurks in some inner
cell was very busy, now throwing out tender mimosa-like threads
of creative fancy, now recording fleeting impressions with delicate
sure brushwork for future use ; touching a hundred vagrant things
with the magic of imagination, making a running comment on
the scenes we passed.
The warehouses told a tale of an up-to-date Soll und
of my very own, one that would thrust old Freytag out of the
book-mart. The tall chimneys ceased to be giraffic throats
belching soot and smoke over the blackening city. They were
obelisks rearing granite heads heavenwards ! Joints in the bricks,
weather-stains ? You are mistaken ; they were hieroglyphics,
setting down for posterity a tragic epic of man the conqueror, and
fire his slave ; and how they strangled beauty in the grip of gain.
A theme for a Whitman!
And so it talks and I listen with my inner ear—and yet nothing
outward escapes me—the slackening of the boat the stepping on
and off of folk—the lowering of the funnel—the name ” Stanley”
on the little tug, with its self-sufficient puff-puff, fussing by with
a line of grimy barges in tow ; freight-laden, for the water
washes over them—and on the last a woman sits suckling her
baby, and a terrier with badly cropped ears yaps at us as we
And as this English river scene flashes by, lines of association
form angles in my brain ; and the point of each is a dot of light
that expands into a background for forgotten canal scenes, with
green-grey water, and leaning balconies, and strange crafts Cana-
letti and Guadi seen long ago in picture galleries
A delicate featured youth with gold-laced cap, scrapes a prelude on
on a harp.
I don’t know what they play, some tuneful thing with an under-
note of sadness and sentiment running through its commonplace—
likely a music-hall ditty ; for a lad with/a cheap silk hat, and the
hateful expression of knowingness that makes him a type of his
kind, grins appreciatively and hums the words.
I turn from him to the harp. It is the wreck of a handsome
instrument, its gold is tarnished, its white is smirched, its stucco
rose-wreaths sadly battered. It has the air of an antique beauty
in dirty ball finery ; and is it fancy, or does not a shamed wail lurk
in the tone of its strings ?
The whimsical idea occurs to me that it has once belonged to
a lady with drooping ringlets and an embroidered spencer ; and that
she touched its chords to the words of a song by Thomas Haynes
Baily, and that Miss La Creevy transferred them both to ivory.
The youth played mechanically, without a trace of emotion ;
whilst the harpist, whose nose is a study in purples and whose
bloodshot eyes have the glassy brightness of drink, felt every touch
of beauty in the poor little tune, and drew it tenderly forth.
They added the musical note to my joyous mood ; the poetry of
the city dovetailed harmoniously with country scenes too recent to
be treated as memories—and I stepped off the boat with the melody
vibrating through the city sounds.
I swung from place to place in happy, lightsome mood, glad as
a fairy prince in quest of adventures. The air of the city was
exhilarating ether—and all mankind my brethren—in fact I felt
I smiled at a pretty anaemic city girl, and only remembered that
she was a stranger when she flashed back an indignant look of
But what cared I ? Not a jot ! I could afford to say
pityingly : ” Go thy way, little city maid, get thee to thy
And all the while that these outward insignificant things occu-
pied me, I knew that a precious little pearl of a thought was
evolving slowly out of the inner chaos.
It was such an unique little gem, with the lustre of a tear, and
the light of moonlight and streamlight and love smiles reflected in
its pure sheen—and, best of all, it was all my own—a priceless
possession, not to be bartered for the Jagersfontein diamond—a
city childling with the prepotency of the country working in it—
and I revelled in its fresh charm and dainty strength ; it seemed
original, it was so frankly natural.
And as I dodged through the great waggons laden with wares
from outer continents, I listened and watched it forming inside,
until my soul became filled with the light of its brightness ; and a
wild elation possessed me at the thought of this darling brain-child,
this offspring of my fancy, this rare little creation, perhaps embryo
of genius that was my very own.
I smiled benevolently at the passers-by, with their harassed
business faces, and shiny black bags bulging with the weight of
common every-day documents, as I thought of the treat I would
give them later on ; the delicate feast I held in store for them,
when I would transfer this dainty elusive birthling of my brain to
paper for their benefit.
It would make them dream of moonlit lanes and sweethearting ;
reveal to them the golden threads in the sober city woof; creep
in close and whisper good cheer, and smooth out tired creases
in heart and brain ; a draught from the fountain of Jouvence
could work no greater miracle than the tale I had to unfold.
Aye, they might pass me by now, not even give me the inside
later on, they would flock to thank me. They just didn’t realise,
poor money-grubbers ! How could they ? But later on . . .
I grew perfectly radiant at the thought of what I would do for
poor humanity, and absurdly self-satisfied as the conviction grew
upon me that this would prove a work of genius no mere
glimmer of the spiritual afflatus—but a solid chunk of genius.
Meanwhile I took a bus and paid my penny. I leant back
and chuckled to myself as each fresh thought-atom added to the
precious quality of my pearl. Pearl ? Not one any longer—a
whole quarrelet of pearls, Oriental pearls of the greatest price!
Ah, how happy I was as I fondled my conceit !
It was near Chancery Lane that a foreign
element cropped up
and disturbed the rich flow of my fancy.
I happened to glance at the side-walk. A woman, a little woman,
was hurrying along in a most remarkable way. It annoyed me,
for I could not help wondering why she was in such a desperate
hurry. Bother the jade ! what business had she to thrust herself
on my observation like that, and tangle the threads of a web of
genius, undoubted genius ?
I closed my eyes to avoid seeing her ; I could see her through
the lids. She had square shoulders and a high bust, and a white
gauze tie, like a snowy feather in the breast of a pouter pigeon.
We stop—I look again—aye, there she is ! Her black eyes
stare boldly through her kohol-tinted lids, her face has a violet
tint. She grips her gloves in one hand, her white-handled umbrella
in the other, handle up, like a knobkerrie.
She has great feet, too, in pointed shoes, and the heels are under
her insteps ; and as we outdistance her I fancy I can hear their
decisive tap-tap above the thousand sounds of the street.
I breathe a sigh of relief as I return to my pearl—my pearl
It is dimmed a little, I must nurse it tenderly.
Jerk, jerk, jangle—stop.—Bother the bell ! We pull up to
drop some passengers, the idiots ! and, as I live, she overtakes us !
How the men and women cede her the middle of the pavement !
How her figure dominates it, and her great feet emphasise her
ridiculous haste ! Why should she disturb me ? My nerves are
quivering pitifully ; the sweet inner light is waning, I am in
mortal dread of losing my little masterpiece. Thank heaven, we
are off again….
” Charing Cross, Army and Navy, V’toria !”—Stop !
Of course, naturally! Here she comes, elbows out, umbrella
waning ! How the steel in her bonnet glistens ! She recalls
something, what is it ?—what is it ? A-ah ! I have it !—a strident
voice, on the deck of a steamer in the glorious bay of Rio,
” Je suis le vr-r-rai pompier,
Le seul pompier . . . .”
and la milla snaps her fingers
gaily and trills her r’ss ; and the
Corcovado is outlined clearly on the purple background as if
bending to listen ; and the palms and the mosque-like buildings,
and the fair islets bathed in the witchery of moonlight, and the
star-gems twinned in the lap of the bay, intoxicate as a dream of
” Je suis le vr-r-rai pompier,
Le seul pompier . . . .”
What in the world is a pompier ?
What connection has the
word with this creature who is murdering, deliberately murdering,
a delicate creation of my brain, begotten by the fusion of country
and town ?
“Je suis le vr-r-rai pompier, . . . .”
I am convinced pompier expresses
her in some subtle way—
absurd word ! I look back at her, I criticise her, I anathematise
her, I hate her !
What is she hurrying for ? We can’t escape her always we
stop and let her overtake us with her elbowing gait, and tight skirt
shortened to show her great splay feet—ugh !
My brain is void, all is dark within ; the flowers are faded, the
music stilled ; the lovely illusive little being has flown, and yet she
pounds along untiringly.
Is she a feminine presentment of the wandering Jew, a living
embodiment of the ghoul-like spirit that haunts the city and
murders fancy ?
What business had she, I ask, to come and thrust her white-
handled umbrella into the delicate net work of my nerves and untune
their harmony ?
Does she realise what she has done ? She has trampled a rare
little mind-being unto death, destroyed a precious literary gem.
Aye, one that, for aught I know, might have worked a revolution
in modern thought ; added a new human document to the archives
of man ; been the keystone to psychic investigations ; solved
problems that lurk in the depths of our natures and tantalise us
with elusive gleams of truth ; heralded in, perchance, the new era ;
when such simple problems as Home Rule, Bimetallism, or the
Woman Question will be mere themes for schoolboard composi-
tions—who can tell ?
Well, it was not my fault. No one regrets it more, no one
—but what could I do ?
Blame her, woman of the great feet and dominating gait, and
waving umbrella-handle !—blame her ! I can only regret it—
regret it !
Reticence in Literature
By Arthur Waugh
HE never spoke out. Upon these four words, gathered
chance from a private letter, Matthew Arnold, with that
super-subtle ingenuity which loved to take the word and play upon
it and make it of innumerable colours, has constructed, as one may
conjecture some antediluvian wonder from its smallest fragment, a
full, complete, and intimate picture of the poet Thomas Gray. He
never spoke out. Here, we are told, lies the secret of Gray’s limita-
tion as much in life as in literature : so sensitive was he in private
life, so modest in public, that the thoughts that arose in him never
got full utterance, the possibilities of his genius were never ful-
filled ; and we, in our turn, are left the poorer for that nervous
delicacy which has proved the bane of the poet, living and dead
alike. It is a singularly characteristic essay—this paper on Gray,
showing the writer’s logical talent at once in its strongest and
its weakest capacities, and a complete study of Arnold’s method
might well, I think, be founded upon its thirty pages. But in the
present instance I have recurred to that recurring phrase, He never
spoke out, not to discuss Matthew Arnold’s estimate of Gray, nor,
indeed, to consider Gray’s relation to his age ; but merely to point
out, what the turn of Arnold’s argument did not require him to
consider, namely, the extraordinarily un-English aspect of this
character, but still more alien to English literature. Reticence is
not a national characteristic—far otherwise. The phrase ” national
characteristic” is, I know well, a cant phrase, and, as such, full of
the dangers of abuse. Historical and ethnographical criticism,
proceeding on popular lines, has tried from time to time to fix
certain tendencies to certain races, and to argue from individuals
to generalities with a freedom that every law of induction belies.
And so we have come to endow the Frenchman, universally and
without exception, with politeness, the Indian, equally univer-
sally, with cunning, the American with the commercial talent, the
German with the educational, and so forth. Generalisations of
this kind must, of course, be accepted with limitations. But it is
not too much, perhaps, to say that the Englishman has always
prided himself upon his frankness. He is always for speaking out ;
and it is this faculty of outspokenness that he is anxious to
attribute to those characters which he sets up in the market-places
of his religion and his literature, as those whom he chiefly delights
to honour. The demigods of our national verse, the heroes of our
national fiction, are brow-bound, above all other laurels, with this
glorious freedom of free speech and open manners, and we have
come to regard this broad, untrammelled virtue of ours, as all
individual virtues will be regarded with the revolution of the cycle
of provinciality, as a guerdon above question or control. We have
become inclined to forget that every good thing has, as Aristotle
pointed out so long ago, its corresponding evil, and that the cor
ruption of the best is always worst of all. Frankness is so great a
boon, we say : we can forgive anything to the man who has the
courage of his convictions, the feailessness of freedom—the man,
in a word, who speaks out.
But we have to distinguish, I think, at the outset between a
in which we put that virtue into use. It is obvious that, though
many things are possible to us, which are good in themselves,
many things are inexpedient, when considered relatively to our
environment. Count Tolstoi may preach his gospel of non-
resistance till the beauty of his holiness seems almost Christ-like ;
but every man who goes forth to his work and to his labour
knows that the habitual turning of the right cheek to the smiter
of the left, the universal gift of the cloak to the beggar of our coat,
is subversive of all political economy, and no slight incentive to
immorality as well. In the same way, it will be clear, that this
national virtue of ours, this wholesome, sincere outspokenness, is
only possible within certain limits, set by custom and expediency,
and it is probably a fact that there was nevera truly wise man yet
but tempered his natural freedom of speech by an acquired habit
of reticence. The man who never speaks out may be morose ;
the man who is always speaking out is a most undesirable
Now, I suppose every one is prepared to admit with Matthew
Arnold that the literature of an age (we are not now speaking of
poetry alone, be it understood, but of literature as a whole), that
this literature must, in so far as it is truly representative of,
and therefore truly valuable to, the time in which it is produced,
reflect and criticise the manners, tastes, development, the life, in
fact, of the age for whose service it was devised. We have, of
course, critical literature probing the past : we have philosophical
literature prophesying the future ; but the truly representative
literature of every age is the creative, which shows its people its
natural face in a glass, and leaves to posterity the record of the
manner of man it found. In one sense, indeed, creative literature
must inevitably be critical as well, critical in that it employs the
tendencies first, and then from this examination building up a
type, a sample of the representative man and woman of its epoch.
The truest fiction of any given century, yes, and the truest poetry,
too (though the impressionist may deny it), must be a criticism
of life, must reflect its surroundings. Men pass, and fashions
change ; but in the literature of their day their characters, their
tendencies, remain crystallised for all time : and what we know of
the England of Chaucer and Shakespeare, we know wholly and
absolutely in the truly representative, truly creative, because truly
critical literature which they have left to those that come after.
It is, then, the privilege, it is more, it is the duty of the man of
letters to speak out, to be fearless, to be frank, to give no ear to
the puritans of his hour, to have no care for the objections of
prudery ; the life that he lives is the life he must depict, if his work
is to be of any lasting value. He must be frank, but he must be
something more. He must remember—hourly and momently he
must remember—that his virtue, step by step, inch by inch, im-
perceptibly melts into the vice which stands at its pole ; and that
(to employ Aristotelian phraseology for the moment) there is a
sort of middle point, a centre of equilibrium, to pass which is to
disturb and overset the entire fabric of his labours. Midway
between liberty and license, in literature as in morals, stands the
pivot of good taste, the centre-point of art. The natural inclina-
tion of frankness, the inclination of the virtue in the rough, is to
blunder on resolutely with an indomitable and damning sincerity,
till all is said that can be said, and art is lost in photography.
The inclination of frankness, restrained by and tutored to the
limitations of art and beauty, is to speak so much as is in accord
ance with the moral idea : and then, at the point where ideas melt
into mere report, mere journalistic detail, to feel intuitively the
has been some point fits exact position has varied, it is true, but
the point has always been there) at which speech stopped short ;
and the literature which has most faithfully reflected the manners
of that age, the literature, in fine, which has survived its little
hour of popularity, and has lived and is still living, has inevitably,
invariably, and without exception been the literature which stayed
its hand and voice at the point at which the taste of the age, the
age s conception of art, set up its statue of reticence, with her
finger to her lips, and the inscription about her feet : ” So far shall
thou go, and no further.”
We have now, it seems, arrived at one consideration, which
must always limit the liberty of frankness, namely, the standard of
contemporary taste. The modesty that hesitates to allign itself
with that standard is a shortcoming, the audacity that rushes
beyond is a violence to the unchanging law of literature. But
the single consideration is insufficient. If we are content with
the criterion of contemporary taste alone, our standard of judg-
ment becomes purely historical : we are left, so to speak, with a
sliding scale which readjusts itself to every new epoch : we have
no permanent and universal test to apply to the literature of
different ages : in a word, comparative criticism is impossible.
We feel at once that we need, besides the shifting standard of
contemporary taste, some fixed unit of judgment that never
varies, some foot-rule that applies with equal infallibility to the
literature of early Greece and to the literature of later France ;
and such an unit, such a foot-rule, can only be found in the final
test of all art, the necessity of the moral idea. We must, in
distinguishing the thing that may be said fairly and artistically
from the thing whose utterance is inadmissible, we must in such
a decision control our judgment by two standards—the one, the
standard of artistic justification, the presence of the moral idea,
With these two elements in action, we ought, I think, to be able
to estimate with tolerable fairness the amount of reticence in any
age which ceases to be a shortcoming, the amount of frankness
which begins to be a violence in the literature of the period. We
ought, with these two elements in motion, to be able to employ a
scheme of comparative criticism which will prevent us from
encouraging that retarding and dangerous doctrine that what was
expedient and justifiable, for instance, in the dramatists of the
Restoration is expedient and justifiable in the playwrights of our
own Victorian era ; we ought, too, to be able to arrive in
stinctively at a sense of the limits of art, and to appreciate the
point at which frankness becomes a violence, in that it has de-
generated into mere brawling, animated neither by purpose nor
idea. Let us, then, consider these two standards of taste and art
separately : and first, let us give a brief attention to the contem-
We may, I think, take it as a rough working axiom that
the point of reticence in literature, judged by a contemporary
standard, should be settled by the point of reticence in the
conversation of the taste and culture of the age. Literature is,
after all, simply the ordered, careful exposition of the thought
of its period, seeking the best matter of the time, and setting it
forth in the best possible manner ; and it is surely clear that what
is written in excess of what is spoken (in excess I mean on the
side of license) is a violence to, a misrepresentation of, the period
to whose service the literature is devoted. The course of the
highest thought of the time should be the course of its literature,
the limit of the most delicate taste of the time the limit of literary
expression : whatever falls below that standard is a shortcoming,
immensely with the period. It would be tedious, nor is it
necessary to our purpose, to make a long historical research into the
development of taste ; but a few striking examples may help us to
appreciate its variations.
To begin with a very early stage of literature, we find among
the Heracleidae of Herodotus a stage of contemporary taste which
is the result of pure brutality. It is clear that literature adjusted
to the frankness of the uxorious pleasantries of Candaules and
Gyges would justifiably assume a degree of license which, reason
able enough in its environment, would be absolutely impossible,
directly the influences of civilisation began to make themselves
felt. The age is one of unrestrained brutality, and the literature
which represented it would, without violence to the contemporary
taste, be brutal too. To pass at a bound to the Rome of Juvenal
is again to be transported to an age of national sensuality : the
escapades of Messalina are the inevitable outcome of a national
taste that is swamped and left putrescent by limitless self-
indulgence ; and the literature which represented this taste would,
without violence, be lascivious and polluted to its depth. In con-
tinuing, with a still wider sweep, to the England of Shakespeare,
we find a new development of taste altogether. Brutality is
softened, licentiousness is restrained, immorality no longer stalks
abroad shouting its coarse phrases at every wayfarer who passes
the Mermaid or the Globe. But, even among types of purity,
reticence is little known. The innuendoes are whispered under
the breath, but when once the voice is lowered, it matters little
what is said. Rosalind and Celia enjoy their little doubles entendres
together. Hero’s wedding morning is an occasion for delicate
hints of experiences to come. Hamlet plies the coarsest sugges-
tions upon Ophelia in the intervals of a theatrical performance.
take but one more instance, let us end with Sheridan. By his
time speech had been refined by sentiment, and the most graceful
compliments glide, without effort, from the lips of the adept
courtier. But even still, in the drawing-rooms of fashion, delicate
morsels of scandal are discussed by his fine ladies with a freedom
which is absolutely unknown to the Mayfair of the last half-
century, where innuendo might be conveyed by the eye and
suggested by the smile, but would never, so reticent has taste
become, find the frank emphatic utterance which brought no
blush to the cheek of Mrs. Candour and Lady Sneerwell. In the
passage of time reticence has become more and more pronounced ;
and literature, moving, as it must, with the age, has assumed in its
normal and wholesome form the degree of silence which it finds
The standard of taste in literature, then, so far as it responds to
contemporary judgment, should be regulated by the normal taste of
the hale and cultured man of its age : it should steer a middle
course between the prudery of the manse, which is for hiding
everything vital, and the effrontery of the pot-house, which makes
for ribaldry and bawdry ; and the more it approximates to the
exact equilibrium of its period, the more thoroughly does it become
representative of the best taste of its time, the more certain is it of
permanent recognition. The literature of shortcoming and the
literature of violence have their reward :
” They have their day, and cease to be ” ;
the literature which reflects the hale and wholesome frankness of
its age can be read, with pleasure and profit, long after its openness
of speech and outlook has ceased to reproduce the surrounding life.
But why is the literature immortal ? Why is it that a play like
Pericles, for instance, full as it is of scenes which revolt the moral
taste, has lived and is a classic forever, while innumerable con-
temporary pieces of no less genius (for Pericles is no masterpiece)
have passed into oblivion ? Why is it that the impurity of
Pericles strikes the reader scarcely at all, while the memory dwells
upon its beauties and forgets its foulness in recollection of its
refinement ? The reason is not far to seek. Pericles is not only
free of offence when judged by the taste of its age, it is no less
blameless when we subject it to the test by which all literature is
judged at last ; it conforms to the standard of artit is permeated
by the moral idea. The standard of art—the presence of the
idea—the two expressions are, I believe, synonymous. It is easy
enough to babble of the beauty of things considered apart from
their meaning, it is easy enough to dilate on the satisfaction of art
in itself, but all these phrases are merely collocations of terms,
empty and meaningless. A thing can only be artistic by virtue of
the idea it suggests to us ; when the idea is coarse, ungainly
, unspeakable, the object that suggests it is coarse, ungainly,
unspeakable ; art and ethics must always be allied in that the
merit of the art is dependent on the merit of the idea it
Perhaps I shall show my meaning more clearly by an example
from the more tangible art of painting ; and let me take as an
instance an artist who has produced pictures at once the most
revolting and most moral of any in the history of English art.
I mean Hogarth. We are all familiar with his coarsenesses ; all
these have we known from our youth up. But it is only the
schoolboy who searches the Bible for its indecent passages ; when
we are become men, we put away such childish satisfactions.
we feel that Hogarth—
” Whose pictured morals charm the mind,
And through the eye correct the heart”—
was, even in his grossest moments, profoundly moral, entirely
sane, because he never dallied lasciviously with his subject,
because he did not put forth vice with the pleasing semblance of
virtue, because, like all hale and wholesome critics of life, he
condemned excess, and pictured it merely to portray the worth-
lessness, the weariness, the dissatisfaction of lust and license.
Art, we say, claims every subject for her own ; life is open to her
ken ; she may fairly gather her subjects where she will. Most
true. But there is all the difference in the world between
drawing life as we find it, sternly and relentlessly, surveying it all
the while from outside with the calm, unflinching gaze of
criticism, and, on the other hand, yielding ourselves to the warmth
and colour of its excesses, losing our judgment in the ecstasies of
the joy of life, becoming, in a word, effeminate.
The man lives by ideas ; the woman by sensations ; and while
the man remains an artist so long as he holds true to his own view
of life, the woman becomes one as soon as she throws off the
habit of her sex, and learns to rely upon her judgment, and not
upon her senses. It is only when we regard life with the un-
trammelled view of the impartial spectator, when we pierce below
the substance for its animating idea, that we approximate to the
artistic temperament. It is unmanly, it is effeminate, it is in
artistic to gloat over pleasure, to revel in immoderation, to become
passion’s slave ; and literature demands as much calmness of
judgment, as much reticence, as life itself. The man who loses
himself will scarcely find others to venerate him. After all, the
world generally takes us at our own valuation.
We have now, I trust, arrived (though, it may be, by a rather
circuitous journey) at something like a definite and reasonable law
for the exercise of reticence ; it only remains to consider by what
test we shall most easily discover the presence or absence of the
animating moral idea which we have found indispensable to art.
It seems to me that three questions will generally suffice. Does
the work, we should ask ourselves, make for that standard of taste
which is normal to wholesomeness and sanity of judgment ?
Does it, or does it not, encourage us to such a line of life as is
recommended, all question of tenet and creed apart, by the
experience of the age, as the life best calculated to promote
individual and general good ? And does it encourage to this life
in language and by example so chosen as not to offend the
susceptibilities of that ordinarily strong and unaffected taste which,
after all, varies very little with the changes of the period and
development ? When creative literature satisfies these three
requirements—when it is sane, equable, and well spoken, then it
is safe to say it conforms to the moral idea, and is consonant with
art. By its sanity it eludes the risk of effeminate demonstration ;
by its choice of language it avoids brutality ; and between these
two poles, it may be affirmed without fear of question, true taste
will and must be found to lie.
These general considerations, already too far prolonged, become
of immediate interest to us as soon as we attempt to apply them to
theliterature of our own half-century, and I propose concluding what
I wished to say on the necessity of reticence by considering, briefly
and without mention of names, that realistic movement in English
literature which, under different titles, and protected by the aegis of
suggestive development in the poetry and fiction of our time.
During the last quarter of a century, more particularly, the
English man-of-letters has been indulging, with an entirely new
freedom, his national birthright of outspokenness, and during the
last twelve months there have been no uncertain indications that
this freedom of speech is degenerating into license which some of
us cannot but view with regret and apprehension. The writers
and the critics of contemporary literature have, it would seem,
alike lost their heads ; they have gone out into the byways and
hedges in search of the new thing, and have brought into the
study and subjected to the microscope mean objects of the road
side, whose analysis may be of value to science but is absolutely
foreign to art. The age of brutality, pure and simple, is dead
with us, it is true ; but the age of effeminacy appears, if one is to
judge by recent evidence, to be growing to its dawn. The day
that follows will, if it fulfils the promise of its morning, be very
serious and very detrimental to our future literature.
Every great productive period of literature has been the result of
some internal or external revulsion of feeling, some current of
ideas. This is a commonplace. The greatest periods of produc-
tion have been those when the national mind has been directed
to some vast movement of emancipation the discovery of new
countries, the defeat of old enemies, the opening of fresh possi-
bilities. Literature is best stimulated by stirrings like these. Now,
the last quarter of a century in English history has been singularly
sterile of important improvements. There has been no very inspiring
acquisition to territory or to knowledge : there has been, in con-
sequence, no marked influx of new ideas. The mind has been
thrown back upon itself ; lacking stimulus without, it has sought
inspiration within, and the most characteristic literature of the
betaken itself to that intimately analytical fiction which we
associate primarily with America ; it has sifted motives and probed
psychology, with the result that it has proved an exceedingly
clever, exact, and scientific, but scarcely stimulating, or progressive
school of literature. Following another course, it has sought for
subject-matter in the discussion of passions and sensations, common,
doubtless, to every age of mankind, interesting and necessary, too,
in their way, but passions and sensations hitherto dissociated with
literature, hitherto, perhaps, scarcely realised to their depth and
intensity. It is in this development that the new school of realism
has gone furthest ; and it is in this direction that the literature of
the future seems likely to follow. It is, therefore, not without
value to consider for a moment whither this new frankness is
leading us, and how far its freedom is reconciled to that standard
of necessary reticence which I have tried to indicate in these pages.
This present tendency to literary frankness had its origin, I
think, no less than twenty-eight years ago. It was then that the
dovecotes of English taste were tremulously fluttered by the
coming of a new poet, whose naked outspokenness startled his
readers into indignation. Literature, which had retrograded into
a melancholy sameness, found itself convulsed by a sudden access
of passion, which was probably without parallel since the age of
the silver poets of Rome. This new singer scrupled not to revel
in sensations which for years had remained unmentioned upon the
printed page ; he even chose for his subjects refinements of lust,
which the commonly healthy Englishman believed to have become
extinct with the time of Juvenal. Here was an innovation which
was absolutely alien to the standard of contemporary taste—an
innovation, I believe, that was equally opposed to that final
moderation without which literature is lifeless.
Let us listen for one moment:
” By the ravenous teeth that have smitten
Through the kisses that blossom and bud,
By the lips intertwisted and bitten
Till the foam has a savour of blood,
By the pulse as it rises and falters,
By the hands as they slacken and strain,
I adjure thee, respond from thine altars,
Our Lady of Pain.
As of old when the world’s heart was lighter,
Through thy garments the grace of thee glows,
The white wealth of thy body made whiter
By the blushes of amorous blows,
And seamed with sharp lips and fierce fingers,
And branded by kisses that bruise ;
When all shall be gone that now lingers,
Ah, what shall we lose I
Thou wert fair in thy fearless old fashion,
And thy limbs are as melodies yet,
And move to the music of passion
With lithe and lascivious regret.
What ailed us, O gods, to desert you
For creeds that refuse and restrain ?
Come down and redeem us from virtue,
Our Lady of Pain.”
This was twenty-eight years ago ; and still the poetry lives. At
first sight it would seem asthough the desirable reticence, upon which
we have been insisting, were as yet unnecessary to immortality.
A quarter of a century has passed, it might be argued, and the
morning : is not this a proof that art asks for no moderation ? I
believe not. It is true that the poetry lives, that we all recognise,
at some period of our lives, the grasp and tenacity of its influence;
that, even when the days come in which we say we have no
pleasure in it, we still turn to it at times for something we do not
find elsewhere. But the thing we seek is not the matter, but the
manner. The poetry is living, not by reason of its unrestrained
frankness, but in spite of it, for the sake of something else. That
sweet singer who charmed and shocked the audiences of 1866,
charms us, if he shocks us not now, by virtue of the one new
thing that he imported into English poetry, the unique and as yet
imperishable faculty of musical possibilities hitherto unattained.
There is no such music in all the range of English verse, seek
where you will, as there is in him. But the perfection of the one
talent, its care, its elaboration, have resulted in a corresponding
decay of those other faculties by which alone, in the long run,
poetry can live. Open him where you will, there is in his poetry
neither construction nor proportion ; no development, no sustained
dramatic power. Open him where you will, you acquire as much
sense of his meaning and purpose from any two isolated stanzas
as from the study of a whole poem. There remains in your ears,
when you have ceased from reading, the echo only of a beautiful
voice, chanting, as it were, the melodies of some outland tongue.
Is this the sort of poetry that will survive the trouble of the
ages ? It cannot survive. The time will come (it must) when
some newer singer discovers melodies as yet unknown, melodies
which surpass in their modulations and varieties those poems
and ballads of twenty-eight years ago ; and, when we have found
the new note, what will be left of the earlier singer, to which we
shall of necessity return ? A message ? No. Philosophy ? No,
The Yellow Book Vol.—I. N
Assuredly not. There remains the melody alone ; and this, when
once it is surpassed, will charm us little enough. We shall forget
it then. Art brings in her revenges, and this will be of them.
But the new movement did not stop here. If, in the poet we
have been discussing, we have found the voice among us that
corresponds to the decadent voices of the failing Roman Republic,
there has reached us from France another utterance, which I
should be inclined to liken to the outspoken brutality of Restora-
tion drama. Taste no longer fails on the ground of a delicate,
weakly dalliance, it begins to see its own limitations, and springs
to the opposite pole. It will now be virile, full of the sap of life,
strong, robust, and muscular. It will hurry us out into the fields,
will show us the coarser passions of the common farm-hand ; at
any expense it will paint the life it finds around it ; it will at least
be consonant with that standard of want of taste which it falsely
believes to be contemporary. We get a realistic fiction abroad,
and we begin to copy it at home. We will trace the life of the
travelling actor, follow him into the vulgar, sordid surroundings
which he chooses for the palace of his love, be it a pottery-shed or
the ill-furnished lodging-room with its black horsehair sofa—we
will draw them all, and be faithful to the lives we live. Is that
the sort of literature that will survive the trouble of the ages ? It
cannot survive. We are no longer untrue to our time, perhaps, if
we are to seek for the heart of that time in the lowest and meanest
of its representatives ; but we are untrue to art, untrue to the
record of our literary past, when we are content to turn for our own
inspiration to anything but the best line of thought, the highest
school of life, through which we are moving. This grosser
realism is no more representative of its time than were the
elaborate pastiches of classical degradation ; it is as though one
serpent’s head. In the history of literature this movement, too,
will with the lapse of time pass unrecognised ; it has mourned
unceasingly to an age which did not lack for innocent piping and
dancing in its market-places.
The two developments of realism of which we have been
speaking seem to me to typify the two excesses into which frank
ness is inclined to fall ; on the one hand, the excess prompted by
effeminacy—that is to say, by the want of restraints which starts
from enervated sensation ; and on the other, the excess which
results from a certain brutal virility, which proceeds from coarse
familiarity with indulgence. The one whispers, the other shouts ;
the one is the language of the courtesan, the other of the bargee.
What we miss in both alike is that true frankness which springs
from the artistic and moral temperament ; the episodes are no part
of a whole in unity with itself; the impression they leave upon
the reader is not the impression of Hogarth’s pictures ; in one
form they employ all their art to render vice attractive, in the
other, with absolutely no art at all, they merely reproduce, with
the fidelity of the kodak, scenes and situations the existence of
which we all acknowledge, while taste prefers to forget them.
But the latest development of literary frankness is, I think, the
most insidious and fraught with the greatest danger to art. A
new school has arisen which combines the characteristics of
effeminacy and brutality. In its effeminate aspect it plays with
the subtler emotions of sensual pleasure, on its brutal side it has
developed into that class of fiction which for want of a better word
I must call chirurgical. In poetry it deals with very much the
same passions as those which we have traced in the verse to which
allusion has been made above ; but, instead of leaving these refine
ments of lust to the haunts to which they are fitted, it has intro-
with the ardours of promiscuous intercourse. In fiction it infects
its heroines with acquired diseases of names unmentionable, and
has debased the beauty of maternity by analysis of the process
of gestation. Surely the inartistic temperament can scarcely
abuse literature further. I own I can conceive nothing less
It was said of a great poet by a little critic that he wheeled his
nuptial couch into the area ; but these small poets and smaller
novelists bring out their sick into the thoroughfare, and stop the
traffic while they give us a clinical lecture upon their sufferings.
We are told that this is a part of the revolt of woman, and certainly
our women-writers are chiefly to blame. It is out of date, no
doubt, to clamour for modesty ; but the woman who describes
the sensations of childbirth does so, it is to be presumed—not as the
writer of advice to a wife—but as an artist producing literature for
art’s sake. And so one may fairly ask her : How is art served by
all this ? What has she told us that we did not all know, or could
not learn from medical manuals ? and what impression has she left
us over and above the memory of her unpalatable details ? And
our poets, who know no rhyme for “rest” but that “breast”
whose snowinesses and softnesses they are for ever describing with
every accent of indulgence, whose eyes are all for frills, if not for
garters, what have they sung that was not sung with far greater
beauty and sincerity in the days when frills and garters were
alluded to with the open frankness that cried shame on him who
evil thought. The one extremity, it seems to me, offends against
the standard of contemporary taste ; (” people,” as Hedda Gabler
said, ” do not say such things now “) ; the other extremity rebels
against that universal standard of good taste that has from the days
of Milo distinguished between the naked and the nude. We are
ashamed, is borne in upon us from every side :
“Rip your brother’s vices open, strip your own foul passions bare ;
Down with Reticence, down with Reverence—forward—naked—
let them stare.”
But there was an Emperor once (we know the story) who went
forth among his people naked. It was said that he wore fairy
clothes, and that only the unwise could fail to see them. At last
a little child raised its voice from the crowd ! ” Why, he has
nothing on,” it said. And so these writers of ours go out from
day to day, girded on, they would have us believe, with the
garments of art ; and fashion has lacked the courage to cry out
with the little child : “They have nothing on.” No robe of art,
no texture of skill, they whirl before us in a bacchanalian dance
naked and unashamed. But the time will come, it must, when
the voices of the multitude will take up the cry of the child, and
the revellers will hurry to their houses in dismay. Without
dignity, without self-restraint, without the morality of art, literature
has never survived ; they are the few who rose superior to the
baser levels of their time, who stand unimpugned among the
immortals now. And that mortal who would put on immortality
must first assume that habit of reticence, that garb of humility by
which true greatness is best known. To endure restraint—that
is to be strong.
By Hubert Crackanthorpe
THE pink shade of a single lamp supplied an air of
mystery ; the fire burned red and still ; in place of door
and windows hung curtains, obscure, formless; the furniture,
dainty, but sparse, stood detached and incoordinate like the furni-
ture of a stage-scene ; the atmosphere was heavy with heat,
and a scent of stale tobacco ; some cut flowers, half withered,
tissue-paper still wrapping their stalks, lay on a gilt, cane-bottomed
” Will you give me a sheet of paper, please ? “
He had crossed the room, to seat himself before the prin-
cipal table. He wore a fur-lined overcoat, and he was tall,
and broad, and bald ; a sleek face, made grave by gold-rimmed
The other man was in evening dress ; his back leaning against
the mantelpiece, his hands in his pockets : he was moodily scraping
the hearthrug with his toe. Clean-shaved ; stolid and coarsely
regular features ; black, shiny hair, flattened on to his head ;
under-sized eyes, moist and glistening ; the tint of his face uniform,
the tint of discoloured ivory ; he looked a man who ate well and
” Certainly, sir, certainly,” and he started to hurry about the room.
deuce do you keep the note-paper ? ”
” I don’t know if there is any, but the girl always has some.”
She spoke in a slow tone—insolent and fatigued.
A couple of bed-pillows were supporting her head, and a scarlet
plush cloak, trimmed with white down, was covering her feet, as
she lay curled on the sofa. The fire-light glinted on the metallic
gold of her hair, which clashed with the black of her eyebrows ;
and the full, blue eyes, wide-set, contradicted the hard line of her
vivid-red lips. She drummed her ringers on the sofa-edge,
” Never mind,” said the bald man shortly, producing a note
book from his breast-pocket, and tearing a leaf from it.
He wrote, and the other two stayed silent ; the man returned to
the hearthrug, lifting his coat-tails under his arms ; the girl went
on drumming the sofa-edge.
“There,” sliding back his chair, and looking from the one to
the other, evidently uncertain which of the two he should address.
” Here is the prescription. Get it made up to-night, a table-
spoonful at a time, in a wine-glassful of water at lunch-time, at
dinner-time and before going to bed. Go on with the port wine
twice a day, and (to the girl, deliberately and distinctly) you must
keep quite quiet ; avoid all sort of excitement—that is extremely
important. Of course you must on no account go out at night.
Go to bed early, take regular meals, and keep always warm.”
“I say,” broke in the girl, ” tell us, it isn’t bad—dangerous, I
” Dangerous !—no, not if you do what I tell you.”
He glanced at his watch, and rose, buttoning his coat.
” Good-evening,” he said gravely.
At first she paid no heed ; she was vacantly staring before her :
” Good-night, doctor.”
She held out her hand, and he took it.
” I’ll get all right, won’t I ? ” she asked, still looking up at him.
” All right—of course you will—of course. But remember
you must do what I tell you.”
The other man handed him his hat and umbrella, opened the
door for him, and it closed behind them.
The girl remained quiet, sharply blinking her eyes, her whole
expression eager, intense.
A murmer of voices, a muffled tread of footsteps descending
the stairs—the gentle shutting of a door—stillness.
She raised herself on her elbow, listening ; the cloak slipped
noiselessly to the floor. Quickly her arm shot out to the bell-
rope : she pulled it violently ; waited, expectant ; and pulled again.
A slatternly figure appeared a woman of middle-age her
arms, bared to the elbows, smeared with dirt ; a grimy apron
over her knees.
” What’s up ?—I was smashin’ coal,” she explained.
” Come here,” hoarsely whispered the girl—” here—no—nearer
—quite close. Where’s he gone ?”
“That man that was her.”
” I s’ppose ee’s in the downstairs room. I ain’t ‘eard the front
“And Dick, where’s he?”
“They’re both in there together, I s’ppose.”
” I want you to go down quietly without making a noise
listen at the door—come up, and tell me what they’re saying.”
“What? down there?” jerking her thumb over her
“Yes, of course—at once,” answered the girl, impatiently.
“And if they catches me—a nice fool I looks. No, I’m jest
blowed if I do ! ” she concluded. ” Whatever’s up ? ”
“You must,” the girl broke out excitedly. “I tell you, you
” Must—must—an’ if I do, what am I goin’ to git out of it ? “
She paused, reflecting ; then added : ” Look ‘ere—I tell yer
what—I’ll do it for half a quid, there?”
” Yes—yes—all right—only make haste.”
“An’ ‘ow d’ I’know as I’ll git it?” she objected doggedly.
” It’s a jolly risk, yer know.”
The girl sprang up, flushed and feverish.
” Quick—or he’ll be gone. I don’t know where it is but you
shall have it—I promise—quick—please go—quick.”
The other hesitated, her lips pressed together ; turned, and
And the girl, catching at her breath, clutched a chair.
A flame flickered up in the fire, buzzing spasmodically. A
creak outside. She had come up. But the curtains did not move.
Why didn’t she come in ? She was going past. The girl hastened
across the room, the intensity of the impulse lending her strength.
” Come—come in,” she gasped. “Quick—I’m slipping.”
She struck at the wall ; but with the flat of her hand, for
there was no grip. The woman bursting in, caught her, and led
her back to the sofa.
“There, there, dearie,” tucking the cloak round her feet.
“Lift up the piller, my ‘ands are that mucky. Will yer ‘ave
She shook her head. ” It’s gone,” she muttered. ” Now—tell
” Tell yer ?—tell yer what! Why—why—there ain’t jest
nothin’ to tell yer.”
” What were they saying ? Quick.”
” I didn’t ‘ear nothin’ . They was talking about some ballet-
The girl began to cry, feebly, helplessly, like a child in pain.
” You might tell me, Liz. You might tell me.
I’ve been a
good sort to you.”
“That yer ‘ave. I knows yer’ave, dearie. There, there,
don’t yer take on like that. Yer’ll only make yerself bad again.”
“Tell me—tell me,” she wailed. “I’ve been a good sort to
” Well, they wasn’t talkin’ of no ballet-woman—that’s straight,”
the woman blurted out savagely.
” What did he say ?—tell me,” Her voice was weaker now.
” I can’t tell yer—don’t yer ask me—for God’s sake, don’t yer
With a low crooning the girl cried again.
” Oh ! for God’s sake, don’t yer take on like that—it’s awful—
I can’t stand it. There, dearie, stop that cryin’ an’ I’ll tell yer—I
will indeed. It was jest this way—I slips my shoes off, an’ I goes
down as careful—jest as careful as a cat—an’ when I gets to
the door I crouches myself down, listenin’ as ‘ard as ever I
could. The first things as I ‘ears was Mr. Dick speakin’ thick-
like—like as if ‘ee’d bin drinkin’—an’ t’other chap ‘ee says some-
thin’ about lungs, using some long word—I missed that—there
was a van or somethin’ rackettin’ on the road. Then ‘ee says
‘gallopin’ , gallopin’ , jest like as ‘ee was talkin’ of a ‘orse. An’
Mr. Dick,’ee says,’ain’t there no chance—no’ow ?’ and ‘ee give a
‘ave been crool bad, ‘ee’s mostly so quiet-like, ain’t ee ? An’, in
a minute, ‘ee sort o’ groans out somethin , ‘an t’other chap ‘es
answer ‘im quite cool-like, that ‘ee don’t properly know ; but,
anyways, it ‘ud be over afore the end of February. There I’ve
done it. Oh ! dearie, it s awful, awful, that’s jest what it is.
An I ‘ad no intention to tell yer—not a blessed word—that I
didn’t—may God strike me blind if I did ! Some ‘ow it all come
out, seein’ yer chokin’ that ‘ard an’ feelin’ at the wall there. Yer
‘ad no right to ask me to do it—’ow was I to know ‘ee was a
doctor ? ”
She put the two corners of her apron to her eyes, gurgling
“Look e’re, don’t yer b’lieve a word of it—I don’t—I tell yer
they’re a ‘umbuggin’ lot, them doctors, all together. I know it.
Yer take my word for that—yer’ll git all right again. Yer’ll be
as well as I am, afore yer’ve done—Oh, Lord ! it’s jest awful—I
feel that upset I’d like to cut my tongue out, for ‘avin’ told yer
—but I jest couldn’t ‘elp myself.” She was retreating towards
the door, wiping her eyes, and snorting out loud sobs—” An’,
don’t you offer me that half quid—I couldn’t take it of yer—that
She shivered, sat up, and dragged the cloak tight round her
shoulders. In her desire to get warm she forgot what had
happened. She extended the palms of her hands towards the
grate : the grate was delicious. A smoking lump of coal clattered
onto the fender: she lifted the tongs, but the sickening remembrance
arrested her. The things in the room were receding, dancing
round : the fire was growing taller and taller. The woollen scarf
chafed her skin : she wrenched it off. Then hope, keen and
he couldn’t know. She’d been a lot better this last fortnight—
the other doctor said so—she didn’t believe—it she didn’t care—
Anyway, it would be over before the end of February ! ”
Suddenly the crooning wail started again : next, spasms of
weeping, harsh and gasping.
By-and-by she understood that she was crying noisily, and that
she was alone in the room : like a light in a wind, the sobbing
“Let me live—let me live—I’ll be straight—I’ll go to Lucy Rimmerton
—I’ll do anything ! Take it away—it hurts—I can’t bear it !”
Once more the sound of her own voice in the empty room
calmed her. But the tension of emotion slackened, only to
tighten again: immediately she was jeering at herself. What
was she wasting her breath for ? What had Jesus ever done for
her ? She’d had her fling, and it was no thanks to Him.
From the street below, boisterous and loud, the refrain came up.
And, as the footsteps tramped away, the words reached her once
more, indistinct in the distance ;
” ‘I’m jest cryzy, all for the love o’you.’ “
She felt frightened. It was like a thing in a play. It was as
if some one was there, in the room—hiding—watching her.
Then a coughing fit started, racking her. In the middle, she
struggled to cry for help; she thought she was going to suffocate.
Afterwards she sank back, limp, tired, and sleepy.
The end of February—she was going to die—it was important,
exciting—what would it be like ? Everybody else died. Midge
had died in the summer—but that was worry and going the pace.
And they said that Annie Evans was going off too. Damn it !
she wasn’t going to be chicken-hearted. She’d face it. She’d
was all stuff and nonsense—she knew that. It would be just
nothing—like a sleep. Not even painful : she’d be just shut
down in a coffin, and she wouldn’t know that they were doing it.
Ah ! but they might do it before she was quite dead ! It had
happened sometimes. And she wouldn’t be able to get out. The
lid would be nailed, and there would be earth on the top. And if
she called, no one would hear.
Ugh ! what a fit of the blues she was getting ! It was beastly,
being alone. Why the devil didn’t Dick come back?
That noise, what was that ?
Bah ! only some one in the street. What a fool she was !
She winced again as the fierce feeling of revolt swept through
her, the wild longing to fight. It was damned rough four
months ! A year, six months even, was a long time. The pain
grew acute, different from anything she had felt before.
” Good Lord ! what am I maundering on about ? Four
months—I’ll go out with a fizzle like a firework. Why the
devil doesn’t Dick come ? or Liz or somebody ? What do
they leave me alone like this for ? ”
She dragged at the bell-rope.
He came in, white and blear-eyed.
” Whatever have you been doing all this time ? ” she began
“I’ve been chatting with the doctor.” He was pretending to
read a newspaper : there was something funny about his voice.
“It’s ripping. He says you’ll soon be fit again, as long as you
don’t get colds, or that sort of thing. Yes, he says you’ll soon be
fit again “—a quick, crackling noise—he had gripped the news
paper in his fist.
She looked at him, surprised, in spite of herself. She would
never have thought he’d have done it like that. He was a good
sort, after all. But—she didn’t know why—she broke out
” You infernal liar—!—I know. I shall be done for by the end
of February—ha ! ha ! ”
Seizing a vase of flowers, she flung it into the grate. The
crash and the shrivelling of the leaves in the flames brought her
an instant’s relief. Then she said quietly :
“There—I’ve made an idiot of myself; but” (weakly) “I
didn’t know—I didn’t know—I thought it was different.”
He hesitated, embarrassed by his own emotion. Presently he
went up to her and put his hands round her cheeks.
” No,” she said, “that’s no good, I don’t want that. Get me
something to drink. I feel bad.”
He hurried to the cupboard and fumbled with the cork of a
champagne bottle. It flew out with a bang. She started
” You clumsy fool ! ” she exclaimed.
She drank off the wine at a gulp.
” Daisy,” he began.
She was staring stonily at the empty glass.
” Daisy,” he repeated.
She tapped her toe against the fender-rail.
At this sign, he went on :
” How did you know ? “
” I sent Liz to listen,” she answered mechanically.
He looked about him, helpless.
“I think I’ll smoke,” he said feebly.
She made no answer.
” Here, put the glass down,” she said.
He lit a cigarette over the lamp, sat down opposite her, puffing
dense clouds of smoke.
And, for a long while, neither spoke.
” Is that doctor a good man ? “
“I don’t know. People say so,” he answered.
By John Davidson
A THWART the sky a lowly sigh
From west to east the sweet wind carried ;
The sun stood still on Primrose Hill ;
His light in all the city tarried :
The clouds on viewless columns bloomed
Like smouldering lilies unconsumed.
“Oh, sweetheart, see, how shadowy,
Of some occult magician’s rearing,
Or swung in space of Heaven’s grace,
Dissolving, dimly reappearing,
Afloat upon ethereal tides
St. Paul above the city rides ! “
A rumour broke through the thin smoke
Enwreathing Abbey, Tower, and Palace,
The parks, the squares, the thoroughfares,
The million-peopled lanes and alleys,
An ever-muttering prisoned storm,
The heart of London beating warm.
The Yellow Book Vol. I. o
FOXES peeped from out their dens,
Day grew pale and olden ;
Blackbirds, willow- warblers, wrens,
Staunched their voices golden.
High, oh high, from the opal sky,
Shouting against the dark,
” Why, why, why must the day go by ? ”
Fell a passionate lark.
But the cuckoos beat their brazen gongs,
Sounding, sounding so ;
And the nightingales poured in starry songs
A galaxy below.
Slowly tolling the vesper bell
Ushered the stately night.
Down-a-down in a hawthorn dell
A boy and a girl and love’s delight.
The Love-Story of Luigi Tansillo
By Richard Garnett
Now that my wings are spread to my desire,
The more vast height withdraws the dwindling land,
Wider to wind these pinions I expand,
And earth disdain, and higher mount and higher
Nor of the fate of Icarus inquire,
Or cautious droop, or sway to either hand ;
Dead I shall fall, full well I understand ;
But who lives gloriously as I expire ?
Yet hear I my own heart that pleading cries,
Stay, madman ! Whither art thou bound ? Descend !
Ruin is ready Rashness to chastise.
But I, Fear not, though this indeed the end ;
Cleave we the clouds, and praise our destinies,
If noble fall on noble flight attend.
THE above sonnet, one of the finest in Italian literature,
already known to many English readers in another transla-
tion by the late Mr. J. Addington Symonds, which originally
appeared in the Cornhill Magazine, and is prefixed to his trans-
lation of the sonnets of Michael Angelo and Campanella (London,
1878), under the title of “The Philosopher’s Flight.” In his
preface Mr. Symonds says : “The sonnet prefixed as a proem
whose Dialogue in the “Eroici Furori” it occurs. There seems,
however, good reason to suppose that it was really written by
Tansillo, who recites it in that dialogue. Whoever may have
been its author, it expresses in noble and impassioned verse the
sense of danger, the audacity, and the exultation of those pioneers
of modern thought, for whom philosophy was a voyage of dis-
covery into untravelled regions.”Mr. Symonds’s knowledge of
Italian literature was so extensive that he must have had ground
for stating that the sonnet is generally attributed to Giordano
Bruno; as it certainly is by De Sanctis, though it is printed as
Tansillo’s in all editions of his works, imperfect as these were
before the appearance of Signor Fiorentino’s in 1882. It is,
nevertheless, remarkable that he should add : ” There seems good
reason to suppose that it was really written by Tansillo,” as if there
could be a shadow of doubt on the matter. ” Eroici Furori ” is
professedly a series of dialogues between Luigi Tansillo the Nea-
politan poet, who had died about twenty years before their com-
position, and Cicero, but is in reality little more than a monologue,
for Tansillo does nearly all the talking, and Cicero receives
his instructions with singular docility. The reason of Tansillo’s
selection for so great an honour was undoubtedly that, although
born at Venosa, he belonged by descent to Nola, Bruno’s own
city. In making such free use of Tansillo’s poetry as he has
done throughout these dialogues, Bruno was far from the least
idea of pillaging his distinguished countryman. In introducing
the four sonnets he has borrowed (for there are three besides that
already quoted) he is always careful to make Tansillo speak of
them as his own compositions, which he never does when Bruno’s
own verses are put into his mouth. If a particle of doubt could
remain, it would be dispelled by the fact that this sonnet, with
duced into Bruno’s dialogue, is published under his name in the
“Rime di diversi illustri Signori Napoletani,” edited by Lodovico
Dolce at Venice, in 1555, when Bruno was about seven years
Mr. Symonds’s interpretation of the sonnet
also is erroneous—
in so far, at least, as that the meaning assigned by him never
entered into the head of the author. It is certainly fully suscep-
tible of such an exposition. But Tansillo, no philosopher, but
a cavalier, the active part of whose life was mainly spent in naval
expeditions against the Turks, no more thought with Mr. Symonds
of ” the pioneers of modern philosophy,” than he thought with
Bruno of ” arising and freeing himself from the body and sensual
cognition.” On the contrary, the sonnet is a love-sonnet, and
depicts with extraordinary grandeur the elation of spirit, combined
with a sense of peril, consequent upon the poem having conceived
a passion for a lady greatly his superior in rank. The proof of
this is to be found in the fact that the sonnet is one of a series,
unequivocally celebrating an earthly passion ; and especially in the
sonnet immediately preceding it in Dolce’s collection, manifestly
written at the same time and referring to the same circumstance,
in which the poet ascribes his Icarian flight, not to the
influence of Philosophy, but of Love :
Love fits me forth with wings, which so dilate,
Sped skyward at the call of daring thought,
I high and higher soar, with purpose fraught
Soon to lay smiting hand on Heaven’s gate.
Yet altitude so vast might well abate
My confidence, if Love not succour brought,
Pledging my fame not jeopardised in aught,
And promising renown as ruin great.
Falling gave name immortal to the flood,
As sunny flame his waxen pinion fired ;
Then of thee too it shall be understood,
No meaner prize than Heaven thy soul required,
And firmer than thy life thy courage stood.
The meaning of the two sonnets is fully recognised by
Muratori, who prints them together in his treatise, “Delia per-
fetta poesia,”and adds : “volea dire costui che Sera imbarcato in un
amor troppo alto, e s andava facendo coraggio“
This is surely one of the most remarkable instances possible to
adduce of the infinite significance of true poetry, and its capacity
for inspiring ideas and suggesting interpretations of which the
poet never dreamed, but which are nevertheless fairly deducible
from his expressions.
It is now a matter of considerable interest to ascertain the
identity of this lady of rank, who could inspire a passion at once
so exalted and so perilous. The point has been investigated by
Tansillo’s editor, Signor F. Fiorentino, who has done so much
to rescue his unpublished compositions from oblivion, and his
view must be pronounced perfectly satisfactory. She was Maria
d’Aragona, Marchioness del Vasto, whose husband, the Marquis
del Vasto, a celebrated general of Spanish descent, famous as
Charles the Fifth’s right hand in his successful expedition against
Tunis, and at one time governor of the Milanese, was as remark
able for his jealousy as the lady, grand-daughter of a King of
Naples, was for her pride and haughtiness. Fiorentino proves
his case by showing how well all personal allusions in Tansillo’s.
poems, so far as they can be traced, agree with the circumstances
of the Marchioness, and in particular that the latter is represented
as at one time residing on the island of Ischia, where del Vasto
his campaigns. He is apparently not aware that the object of
Tansillo’s affection had already been identified with a member of
the house of Aragon by Faria e Sousa, the Portuguese editor of
Camoëns, who, in his commentary on Camoëns’s sixty-ninth
sonnet, gives an interminable catalogue of ladies celebrated by
enamoured poets, and says, ” Tansillo sang Donna Isabel de
Aragon.” This lady, however, the niece of the Marchioness
del Vasto, was a little girl in Tansillo’s time, and is only men
tioned by him as inconsolable for the death of a favourite dwarf.
The sentiment, therefore, of the two sonnets of Tansillo which
we have quoted, is sufficiently justified by the exalted station of
the lady who had inspired his passion, and the risk he ran from
the power and jealousy of her husband. It seems certain, how-
ever, that the Marquis had on his part no ground for apprehension.
Maria d’Aragona does not seem to have had much heart to bestow
upon anyone, and would, in any case, have disdained to bestow
what heart she had upon a poor gentleman and retainer of Don
Garcia de Toledo, son of the Viceroy of Naples. She would
think that she honoured him beyond his deserts by accepting his
poetical homage. Tansillo, on his part, says in one of his sonnets
that his devotion is purely platonic ; it might have been more
ardent, he hints, but he is dazzled by the splendour of the light he
contemplates, and intimidated by the richness of the band by which
he is led. So it may have been at first, but as time wore on the
poet naturally craved some proof that his lady was not entirely
indifferent to him, and did not tolerate him merely for the sake of
his verses. This, in the nature of things, could not be given ;
and the poet’s raptures pass into doubt and suspicion, thence into
despairing resignation ; thence into resentment and open hostility,
terminating in a cold reconciliation, leaving him free to marry
he addresses no impassioned sonnets, but whom he instructs in a
very elegant poem (“La Balia”) how to bring up her infant
children. These varying affections are depicted with extreme
liveliness in a series of sonnets, of which we propose to offer some
translated specimens. The order will not be that of the editions
of Tansillo, where the pieces are distributed at random, but the
probable order of composition, as indicated by the nature of the
feeling expressed. It is, of course, impossible to give more than a
few examples, though most deserve to be reproduced. Tansillo
had the advantage over most Italian poets of his time of being in
love with a real woman ; hence, though possibly inferior in style
and diction to such artists in rhyme as Bembo or Molza, he greatly
surpasses them in all the qualities that discriminate poetry from the
accomplishment of verse.
The first sonnet which we shall give is still all fire and rapture : —
Lady, the heart that entered through your eyes
Returneth not. Well may he make delay,
For if the very windows that display
Your spirit, sparkle in such wondrous wise,
Of her enthroned within this Paradise
What shall be deemed ! If heart for ever stay,
Small wonder, dazzled by more radiant day
Than gazers from without can recognise.
Glory of sun and moon and silver star
In firmament above, are these not sign
Of things within more excellent by far ?
Rejoice then in thy kingdom, heart of mine,
While Love and Fortune favourable are,
Nor thou yet exiled for default of thine.
Although, however, Tansillo’s heart might
well remain with its
lady, Tansillo’s person was necessitated to join the frequent mari-
time expeditions of the great nobleman to whom he was attached,
Don Garcia de Toledo, against the Turks. The constant free-
booting of the Turkish and Barbary rovers kept the Mediterranean
in a state of commotion comparable to that of the Spanish Main
in the succeeding age, and these expeditions, whose picturesque
history remains to be written, were no doubt very interesting ;
though from a philosophical point of view it is impossible not
to sympathise with the humane and generous poet when he
Che il Turco nasca turco, e’l Moro moro,
E giusta causa questa, ond altri ed io
Dobbiam incrudelir nel sangue loro ?
With such feelings it may well be believed that in his enforced
absence he was thinking at least as much of love as of war, and
that the following sonnet is as truthful as it is an animated picture
of his feelings : —
No length of banishment did e’er remove
My heart from you, nor if by Fortune sped
I roam the azure waters, or the Red,
E’er with the body shall the spirit rove :
If by each drop of every wave we clove,
Or by Sun’s light or Moon’s encompassed,
Another Venus were engendered,
And each were pregnant with another Love:
Started to life at every stroke of oar,
And each were cradled in an amorous thought ;
Not more than now this spirit should adore ;
That none the less doth constantly lament
It cannot worship as it would and ought.
Before long, however, the pangs of separation overcome this
elation of spirit, while he is not yet afraid of being forgotten :—
Like lightning shining forth from east to west,
Hurled are the happy hours from morn to night,
And leave the spirit steeped in undelight
In like proportion as themselves were blest.
Slow move sad hours, by thousand curbs opprest,
Wherewith the churlish Fates delay their flight ;
Those, impulses of Mercury incite,
These lag at the Saturnian star s behest.
While thou wert near, ere separation’s grief
Smote me, like steeds contending in the race,
My days and nights with equal speed did run :
Now broken either wheel, not swift the pace
Of summer’s night though summer’s moon be brief;
Or wintry days for brevity of sun.
Now that the Sun hath borne with him the day,
And haled dark Night from prison subterrene,
Come forth, fair Moon, and, robed in light serene,
With thy own loveliness the world array.
Invoke as they revolve thy orb unseen,
And all the pageant of the starry scene,
Wronged by thy absence, chides at thy delay.
Shades even as splendours, earth and heaven both
Smile at the apparition of thy face,
And my own gloom no longer seems so loth ;
Yet, while my eye regards thee, thought doth trace
Another’s image ; if in vows be troth,
I am not yet estranged from Love’s embrace.
Continual separation, however, and the absence of any marked
token that he is borne in memory, necessarily prey more and more
on the sensitive spirit of the poet. During the first part, her
husband’s tenure of office as Governor of the Milanese, the
Marchioness, as already mentioned, took up her residence in the
island of Ischia, where she received her adorer’s eloquent aspira-
tions for her welfare—heartfelt, but so worded as to convey a
That this fair isle with all delight abound,
Clad be it ever in sky’s smile serene,
No thundering billow boom from deeps marine,
And calm with Neptune and his folk be found.
Fast may all winds by olus be bound,
Save faintest breath of lispings Zephyrene;
And be the odorous earth with glowing green
Of gladsome herbs, bright flowers, quaint foliage crowned.
All ire, all tempest, all misfortune be
Heaped on my head, lest aught thy pleasure stain,
So scourged with ills innumerable train,
New grief new tear begetteth not, as sea
Chafes not the more for deluge of the rain.
The “quaint foliage” is in the original “Arab leaves,”arabe
frondi, an interesting proof of the cultivation of exotic plants at
The lady rejoins her husband at Milan, and
on the Campanian coast, lately devastated by earthquakes and
eruptions, finds everywhere the image of his own bosom, and
rejoices at the opportunity which yawning rifts and chasms of
earth afford for an appeal to the infernal powers : —
Wild precipice and earthquake-riven wall ;
Bare jagged lava naked to the sky ;
Whence densely struggles up and slow floats by
Heaven’s murky shroud of smoke funereal ;
Horror whereby the silent groves enthral ;
Black weedy pit and rifted cavity ;
Bleak loneliness whose drear sterility
Doth prowling creatures of the wild appal :
Like one distraught who doth his woe deplore,
Bereft of sense by thousand miseries,
As passion prompts, companioned or alone ;
Your desert so I rove ; if as before
Heaven deaf continue, through these crevices,
My cry shall pierce to the Avernian throne.
The poet’s melancholy deepens, and he enters upon the stage of
dismal and hopeless resignation to the inevitable :
As one who on uneasy couch bewails
Besetting sickness and Time’s tardy course,
Proving if drug, or gem, or charm have force
To conquer the dire evil that assails :
But when at last no remedy prevails,
And bankrupt Art stands empty of resource,
Beholds Death in the face, and scorns recourse
To skill whose impotence in nought avails.
So I, who long have borne in trust unspent
That distance, indignation, reason, strife
With Fate would heal my malady, repent,
Frustrate all hopes wherewith my soul was rife,
And yield unto my destiny, content
To languish for the little left of life.
A lower depth still has to be reached ere the period of salutary
and defiant reaction : —
So mightily abound the hosts of Pain,
Whom sentries of my bosom Love hath made,
No space is left to enter or evade,
And inwardly expire sighs born in vain,
If any pleasure mingle with the train,
By the first glimpse of my poor heart dismayed,
Instant he dies, or else, in bondage stayed,
Pines languishing, or flies that drear domain.
Pale semblances of terror keep the keys,
Of frowning portals they for none displace
Save messengers of novel miseries :
All thoughts they scare that wear a gladsome face ;
And, were they anything but Miseries,
Themselves would hasten from the gloomy place.
Slighted love easily passes from rejection into rebellion, and we
shall see that such was the case with Tansillo. The following
sonnet denotes an intermediate stage, when resignation is almost
renunciation, but has not yet become revolt :
Cease thy accustomed strain, my mournful lute ;
New music find, fit for my lot forlorn ;
Henceforth be Wrath and Grief resounded, torn
The strings that anciently did Love salute,
Not on my own weak wing irresolute
But on Love’s plumes I trusted to be borne,
Chanting him far as that remotest bourne
Whence strength Herculean reft Hesperian fruit.
To such ambition was my spirit wrought
By gracious guerdon Love came offering
When free in air my thought was bold to range :
But otherwhere now dwells another’s thought,
And Wrath has plucked Love’s feather from my wing,
And hope, style, theme, I all alike must change.
This, however, is not a point at which continuance is possible,
the mind must go either backward or forward. The lover for a
time persuades himself that he has broken his mistress’s yoke, and
that his infatuation is entirely a thing of the past. But the poet,
like the lady, protests too much : —
If Love was miser of my liberty,
Lo, Scorn is bounteous and benevolent,
Such scope permitting, that, my fetter rent,
Not lengthened by my hand, I wander free.
Have now with Lethe’s drops my fire besprent.
And more behold, Illusion’s glamour spent,
Than fabled Argus with his century.
The tyrant of my spirit, left forlorn
As vassal thoughts forsake him, doth remove,
And back unto her throne is Reason borne,
And I my metamorphosis approve,
And, old strains tuning to new keys, of Scorn
Will sing as anciently I sang of Love.
Several solutions of this situation are conceivable. Tansillo’s
is that which was perhaps that most likely in the case of an
emotional nature, where the feelings are more powerful than the
will. He simply surrenders at discretion, retracts everything dis-
paraging that he has said of the lady (taking care, however, not to
burn the peccant verses, which are much too good to be lightly
parted with), and professes himself her humble slave upon her own
terms : —
All bitter words I spoke of you while yet
My heart was sore, and every virgin scroll
Blackened with ire, now past from my control,
These would I now recall ; for tis most fit
My style should change, now Reason doth reknit,
Ties Passion sundered, and again make whole ;
Be then Oblivion’s prey whate’er my soul
Hath wrongly of thce thought, spoke, sung, or writ.
Not, Lady, that impeachment of thy fame
With tongue or pen I ever did design ;
Ages to come may study in my line
How year by year more streamed and towered my flame,
And how I living was and dying thine.
There is no reason to doubt the perfect sincerity of these lines
at the period of their composition ; but Tansillo’s mistress had
apparently resolved that his attachment should not henceforth have
the diet even of a chameleon ; and it is small wonder to find him
shortly afterwards a tender husband and father, lamenting the
death of an infant son in strains of extreme pathos, and instructing
his wife on certain details of domestic economy in which she
might have been supposed to be better versed than himself. His
marriage took place in 1550, and in one of his sonnets he says
that his unhappy attachment had endured sixteen years, which,
allowing for a decent interval between the Romeo and the Bene-
dict, would date its commencement at 1532 or 1533.
Maria d’Aragona died on November 9,
1568, and Tansillo,
whose services had been rewarded by a judicial appointment in the
kingdom of Naples, followed her to the tomb on December 1. If
her death is really the subject of the two poems in terza rima which
appear to deplore it, he certainly lost no time in bewailing her,
but the interval is so brief, and the poems are so weak, that they may
have been composed on some other occasion. With respect to the
latter consideration, however, it must be remembered that he was
himself, in all probability, suffering from disabling sickness, having
made his will on November 29. It is also worthy of note that
the first sonnets composed by Petrarch upon the death of Laura
are in general much inferior in depth of tenderness to those written
years after the event. “In Memoriam ” is another proof that the
adequate poetical expression of grief, unlike that of life, requires
time and study. Tansillo, then, may not have been so completely
Maria d’Aragona, we have no clue to the ultimate nature of his
feelings towards her.
A generally fair estimate of Tansillo’s rank
as a poet is given
in Ginguene’s “History of Italian Literature,” vol. ix., pp. 340-343.
It can scarcely be admitted that his boldness and fertility of imagi-
nation transported him beyond the limits of lyric poetry— for this
is hardly possible — but it is true that they sometimes transcended
the limits of good taste, and that the germs may be found in him
of the extravagance which so disfigured Italian poetry in the
seventeenth century. On the other hand, he has the inestimable
advantage over most Italian poets of his day of writing of genuine
passion from genuine experience. Hence a truth and vigour
preferable even to the exquisite elegance of his countryman,
Angelo di Costanzo, and much more so to the mere amatory
exercises of other contemporaries. After Michael Angelo he
stands farther aloof than any contemporary from Petrarch, a merit
in an age when the study of Petrarch had degenerated into slavish
imitation. His faults as a lyrist are absent from his didactic
poems, which are models of taste and elegance. His one unpar-
donable sin is want of patriotism ; he is the dependant and
panegyrist of the foreign conqueror, and seems equally uncon-
scious of the past glories, the actual degradation, or the prospec-
tive regeneration of Italy. Born a Spanish subject, his ideal of
loyalty was entirely misplaced, and he must not be severely
censured for what he could hardly avoid. But Italy lost a
Tyrtaeus in him.
The Yellow Book Vol. I.P
The Fool’s Hour
By John Oliver Hobbes
and George Moore
CHARACTERS OF THE COMEDY
Cyril, his Son (Viscount Aprile)
Sir Digby Soame
Charles Mandeville, a tenor
Mr. Banish, a banker
The Hon. Arthur Featherleigh
Mr. Samuel Benjamin, a money-lender
Julia, an heiress
The Hon. Mrs. Howard de Trappe, her mother, a widow
Sarah Sparrow, an American prima donna
Act I SCENE— The Library
in Lord Doldrummond’s house at Brighton.
The scene represents a richly-furnished but somewhat oppressive
room. The chairs and tables are all narrow, the lamp-shades
stiff, the windows have double glasses. Lord Doldrummond, a
man of middle-age, handsome, but with a dejected, browbeaten
air, sits with a rug over his knees, reading “The Church Times.”
The Butler announces “Sir Digby Soame.” Sir Digby is
thin and elderly ; has an easy smile and a sharp eye ; dresses
well ; has two manners—the abrupt with men, the suave with
women , smiles into his beard over his own witticisms.
Ah, Soame, so you are here at last ?
[Looking at his watch.
] I am pretty punctual, only a few
I am worried, anxious, irritable, and that has made the time seem long.
Worried, anxious ? And what about ? Are you not
well ? Have you found that regularity of life ruins the constitu-
No, my dear Soame, no. But I am willing to
that the existence which my wife enjoys, and which I have learnt
to endure, would not suit every one.
I am glad to find you more tolerant. You used to hold
the very harshest and most crude opinions. I remember when we
were boys, I could never persuade you to accept the admirable
doctrine that a reformed rake makes the best husband !
does not require so large an
income as folly ! This may explain that paradox. You know, in
young, whereas you entered the Diplomatic Service and resolved
to remain single : you wished to study women. I have lived with
one for five-and-twenty years. [Sighs.]
Oh, I admit at once that yours is the greater achievement
and was the more daring ambition.
I know all I wish to know about women, but men
puzzle me extremely. So I have sent for you. I want your
advice. It is Cyril who is the cause of my uneasiness. I am
afraid that he is not happy.
Cyril not happy ? What is he unhappy about
have never refused him anything ?
Never ! No man has had a kinder father ! When
he is unreasonable I merely say “You are a fool, but please your-
self !” No man has had a kinder father !
Does he complain ?
He has hinted that his home is uncongenial —yet
we have an excellent cook ! Ah, thank heaven every night and
morning, my dear Digby, that you are a bachelor. Praying
for sinners and breeding them would seem the whole duty of
man. I was no sooner born than my parents were filled with
uneasiness lest I should not live to marry and beget an heir of my
own. Now I have an heir, his mother will never know peace
until she has found him a wife !
And will you permit Lady Doldrummond to use
same method with Cyril which your mother adopted with such
appalling results in your own case ?
It does not seem my place to interfere, and love-
affairs are not a fit subject of conversation between father and
But what does Cyril say to the matrimonial prospect ?
He seems melancholy and eats nothing but oranges.
Yes, Cyril is a source of great uneasiness.
Does Lady Doldrummond share this uneasiness ?
My wife would regard a second thought on any
subject as a most dangerous form of temptation. She insists that
Cyril has everything which a young man could desire, and when
he complains that the house is dull, she takes him for a drive !
But you understand him ?
I think I do. If I were young again —
Ah, you regret ! I always said you would regret it if you
did not take your fling ! The pleasures we imagine are so much
more alluring, so much more dangerous, than those we experience.
I suppose you recognise in Cyril the rascal you might have been,
and feel that you have missed your vocation ?
[Meekly.] I was never
unruly, my dear Soame. We
all have our moments, I own, yet — well, perhaps Cyril has
inherited the tastes which I possessed at his age, but lacked the
courage to obey.
And so you wish me to advise you how to deal with
him ! Is he in love ? I have constantly observed that when
young men find their homes unsympathetic, it is because some
particular lady does not form a member of the household. It is
usually a lady, too, who would not be considered a convenient
addition to any mother’s visiting-list !
Lady Doldrummond has taught him that women
are the scourges of creation. You, perhaps, do not share that
Certainly not. I would teach him to regard them as the
reward, the compensation, the sole delight of this dreariest of all
Compensation! Delight! I
upsettting ? Pray do not use such extreme terms !
Ha ! ha ! But tell me, Doldrummond, is it
your wife insists on his retiring at eleven and rising at eight ?
I hear that she allows him nothing stronger than ginger ale and
lemon ; that she selects his friends, makes his engagements, and
superintends his amusements ? Should he marry, I am told she
will even undertake the office of best man !
Poor soul ! she means well ; and if devotion could
make the boy a saint he would have been in heaven before he was
out of his long clothes. As it is, I fear that nothing can save him.
Save him ? You speak as though you suspected that he
was not such a saint as his mother thinks him.
I suspect nothing. I only know that my boy is
unhappy. You might speak to him, and draw him out if occasion
should offer but do not say a word about this to Lady Dol-
woman. Her hair is brown, and brushed back from her temples
In the simplest possible fashion. Self-satisfaction (of a gentle
and ladylike sort) and eminent contentment with her lot are the
only writings on her smooth, almost girlish countenance. She
has a prim tenderness and charm of manner which soften her
rather cutting voice. ]
What ! Cyril not here ? How do you do,
Digby ? I am looking for my tiresome boy. I promised to take
him to pay some calls this afternoon, and as he may have to talk I
must tell him what to say. He has no idea of making himself
pleasant to women, and is the shyest creature in the world !
You have always been so careful to shield him from all
what decision, what energy he might display, if you did not
possess these gifts in so pre-eminent a degree as to make any
exertion on his part unnecessary, and perhaps disrespectful.
Ah ! mothers are going out of fashion. Even Cyril
occasionally shows a certain impatience when I venture to correct
him. As if I would hurt any one’s feelings unless from a sense
of duty ! And pray, where is the pleasure of having a son if you
may not direct his life ?
Cyril might ask, where is the pleasure of
parents if you may not disobey them.
[To Soame.] When
Herbert is alone with me he
never makes flippant remarks of this kind. [To Lord Doldrum-
mond.] I wonder that you like to give your friends such a wrong
impression of your character. [Turning to Sir Digby.] But I
think I see your drift, Sir Digby. You wish to remind me that
Cyril is now at an age when I must naturally desire to see him
established in a home of his own.
You have caught my meaning. As he is now two-and-
twenty, I think he should be allowed more freedom than may have
been expedient when he was—say, six months old.
I quite agree with you, and I trust you will convince
Herbert that women understand young men far better than
their fathers ever could. I have found the very wife for Cyril,
and I hope I may soon have the pleasure of welcoming her as a
A wife ! Good heavens ! I was suggesting that the
boy had more liberty. Marriage is the prison of all emotions, and
I should be very sorry to ask any young girl to be a man’s gaol-
Sir Digby is right.
The presence of a third person has the strangest
effect on Herbert’s moral vision. As I have trained my son with
a care and tenderness rarely bestowed nowadays even on a girl, I
think I may show some resentment when I am asked to believe
him a being with the instincts of a ruffian and the philosophy of
a middle-aged bachelor. No, Sir Digby, Cyril is not my child if
he does not make his home and his family the happiest in the
He has no taste for cards, horses, brandy, or actresses.
We read together, walk together, and drive together. In the
evening, if he is too tired to engage in conversation, I play the
piano while he dozes. Lately he has taken a particular interest in
Mozart’s classic light opera. Any interest of that kind is so
elevating, and I know of nothing more agreeable than a musical
You see she is resolved on his marriage, and she has
had Julia de Trappe on a visit with us for the last five weeks in
the hope of bringing matters to a crisis.
And why not ? Our marriage was arranged for
us, and what idle fancies of our own could have led to such perfect
Julia de Trappe? She must be the daughter
Mrs. Howard de Trappe who gives large At Homes in a small
house, and who spends her time hunting for old lovers and new
I own that dear Julia has been allowed to
and women who are not fit companions for a young girl, no
matter how interesting they may be to the general public. Only
ville, the tenor. Mrs. de Trappe, it seems, frequently invites him
to dinner. Still, Julia herself is very sensible, and the family is of
But the mother ? If she has not been in the divorce
court, it is through no fault of her own.
[Biting her lip.]Mrs. de Trappe is vain and silly, I
admit; but as she has at last decided to marry Mr. Banish, the
banker, I am hoping she will live in his house at Hampstead, and
think a little more about her immortal soul.
Does Cyril seem at all interested in Miss Julia?
Cyril has great elegance of mind, and is
strong in the expression of his feelings one way or the other.
But I may say that a deep attachment exists between them.
A man must have sound wisdom before he can appre-
ciate innocence. But I have no desire to be discouraging, and I
hope I may soon have the pleasure of congratulating you all on
the wedding. Good-bye.
What ! Must you go ?
Yes. But [aside to Lord
Dol.] I shall bear in mind
what you say. I will do my best. I have an engagement in
town to-night. [Chuckles.] An amusing one.
[With envy.] Where ?
At the Parnassus.
[With a supercilious
smile.] And what is the Par-
A theatre much favoured by young men who wish to
be thought wicked, and by young ladies who are. Good-bye,
good-bye. [ Shakes hands with Lord and Lady Doldrummond and
Thank goodness, he is gone ! What a terrible
come in. Soame has just those meretricious attractions which
appeal to youth and inexperience. That you should encourage
such an acquaintance, and even discuss before him such an
intimate matter as my hope with regard to Julia, is, perhaps, more
painful than astonishing.
They are both too young to marry. Let them
enjoy life while they may.
Enjoy life ? What a degrading suggestion ! I have
often observed that there is a lurking taste for the vicious in every
Doldrummond. [Picking up Cyril’s miniature from the table.]
Cyril is pure Bedingfield : my second self!
Mr. Banish. Mrs. de Trappe is a pretty woman with big
eyes and a small waist ; she has a trick of biting her under-lip,
and looking shocked, as it were, at her own audacity. Her
manner is a little effusive, but always well-bred. She does not
seem affected, and has something artless, confiding, and pathetic.
Mr. Featherleigh has a nervous laugh and a gentlemanly appear-
ance ; otherwise inscrutable. Mr. Banish is old, well-preserved,
rather pompous, and evidently mistakes deportment for dignity.]
Mrs. de Trappe.
[Kissing Lady Dol. on each cheek.] Dear Edith,
I knew we should surprise you. But Mr. Banish and I are
house-hunting, and I thought I must run in and see you and
Julia, if only for a second. I felt sure you would not mind my
bringing Arthur [indicating Featherleigh]. He is so lonely at the
prospect of my marriage that Mr. Banish and I have promised to
keep him always with us. We have known each other so long.
How should we spend our evenings without him ? James admits
they would be tedious, don’t you, James? [Indicating Banish.]
Certainly, my dear.
[Stiffly] I can well
understand that you have
learned to regard Mr. Featherleigh as your own son. And
as we advance in years, it is so pleasant to have young people
Mrs. de Trappe.
[After a slight pause.]
How odd that it should
never have struck me in that light before ! I have always thought
of Arthur as the trustee, as it were, of my poor fatherless Julia
[To Banish.] Have I not often said so, James?
[Dryly.] Often. In fact
I have always thought that
Julia would never lack a father whilst Arthurwas alive. But I
admit that he is a little young for the responsibility.
[Unmoved.] Do not
forget, Violet, that our train
leaves in fifty-five minutes.
[Catching a desperate glance
from Lady Doldrum-
mond.] Then I shall have time to show you the Russian poodles
which the Duke of Camdem brought me from Japan.
Mrs. de Trappe.
please take them away.
[Waving her hand in the direction of Banish and Featherleigh.]
Edith and I have many secrets to discuss. Of course she will tell
you [to Lord Dol.] everything I have said when we are gone,
and I shall tell Arthur and James all she has said as we go home.
But it is so amusing to think ourselves mysterious for twenty
minutes. [As the men go out laughing, she turns to Lady Doldrummond
with a sigh.] Ah, Edith, when I pause in all these gaieties and
say to myself, Violet, you are about to marry a second husband, I
cannot feel sufficiently thankful that it is not the third.
The third ?
Mrs. de Trappe.
To face the possibility of a third honeymoon,
a third disappointment, and a third funeral would tax my courage
to the utmost ! And I am not strong.
I am shocked to see you so despondent. Surely you
anticipate every happiness with Mr. Banish?
Mrs. de Trappe.
Oh, yes. He has money, and Arthur thinks
him a very worthy sort of person. He is a little dull, but then
middle-class people are always so gross in their air when they
attempt to be lively or amusing ; so long as they are grave I can
bear them well enough, but I know of nothing so unpleasant as
the sight of a banker laughing. As Arthur says, City men and
butlers should always be serious.
Do you think that the world will quite understand —
Mrs. de Trappe.
What do you mean, Edith? A woman must
have an adviser. Arthur was my late husband’s friend, and he is
my future husband’s friend. Surely that should be enough to
satisfy the most exacting.
But why marry at all ? why not remain as you are ?
Mrs. de Trappe.
How unreasonable you are, Edith! How often
have you urged me to marry Mr. Banish, and now that it is all
arranged and Arthur is satisfied, you begin to object.
I thought that you liked Mr. Banish better.
Mrs. de Trappe.
Better than Arthur? No, I am not so unkind
as that, nor would James wish it. I am marrying because I am
poor. My husband, as you know, left nearly all his money to
Julia, and I feel the injustice so acutely that the absurd settlement
he made on me is spent upon doctor’s bills alone. If it were not
for Arthur and one or two other kind friends who send me game
and other little things from time to time, I could not exist at all.
[Draws off her gloves, displays a diamond ring on each finger, and
wipes her eyes with a point-lace pocket-handkerchief. ] And when I
think of all that I endured with De Trappe! How often have I been
roused from a sound sleep to see the room illuminated and De
kindly Light.” What an existence ! But now tell me about
Julia. I hope she does not give you much trouble.
I only hope that I may keep her always with me.
Mrs. de Trappe.
How she must have improved ! When she is
at home I find her so depressing. And she does not appeal to
men in the least.
I could wish that all young girls were as modest.
Mrs. de Trappe.
Oh, I daresay Julia has all the qualities
to see in some other woman’s daughter. But if you were her
mother and had to find her a husband, you would regard her virtues
in another light. Fortunately she has eight thousand a year, so
she may be able to find somebody. Still, even money does not
tempt men as it once did. A girl must have an extraordinary
charm. She is so jealous of me. I cannot keep her out of the
drawing-room when I have got callers, especially when Mr.
Mandeville is there.
I have heard of Mr. Mandeville. He is an
Mrs. de Trappe.
A lovely tenor voice. All the women are in
love with him, except me. I would not listen to him. And now
they say he is going to marry Sarah Sparrow— a great mistake. I
should like to know who would care about him or his singing,
once he is married.
And who is Sarah Sparrow?
Mrs. de Trappe.
Don’t you know ? She is the last great
success. She has two notes : B flat and the lower G— the
orchestra plays the rest. You must go to the Parnassus and hear
her. To-night is the dress rehearsal of the new piece.
And do you receive Miss Sparrow?
Mrs. de Trappe.
No, women take up too much time. They
come and practise in my boudoir. He says no one can accom-
pany him as I do !
I hope Cyril does not meet Mr. Mandeville when he
goes to your house.
Mrs. de Trappe.
Let me see. I believe I introduced them.
At any rate, I know I saw them at luncheon together last week.
At luncheon together ! Cyriland this person
sings ? What could my boy and Mr. Mandevillehave in common ?
Mrs. de Trappe.
They both appear to admire Sarah Sparrow
very much. And I cannot find what men see in her. She is not
tall and her figure is most innocent ; you would say she was still
in pinafores. As for her prettiness, I admit she has fine eyes, but
of course she blackens them. I think the great attraction is her
atrocious temper. One never knows whom she will stab next.
[Half to herself.] Last
week Cyril came in after
midnight. He refused to answer my questions.
Mrs. de Trappe.
You seem absent-minded, my dear Edith.
[Pause.] I must be going now. Where are Arthur and James?
We have not a moment to lose. We are going to choose wedding
presents. James is going to choose Arthur’s and Arthur is going
to choose James’s, so there can be no jealousy. It was I who
thought of that way out of the difficulty. One does one’s best to
be nice to them, and then something happens and upsets all one’s
plans. Where is Cyril?
I am afraid Cyril is not at home.
Mrs. de Trappe.
Then I shall not see him. Tell him I am
angry, and give my love to Julia. I hope she does not disturb
you when you are in the drawing-room and have visitors. So
difficult to keep a grown-up girl out of the drawing-room. Where
can those men be ? [Enter Lord Doldrummond, Mr. Feather-
along ; we haven’t a moment to lose. Good-bye, Edith. [Exeunt (after wishing their adieux) Mrs. de Trappe, Mr.
Featherleigh, and Mr. Banish, Lord Doldrummond
[Stands alone in the middle of the
Cyril and— Sarah Sparrow! My son and Sarah Sparrow! And
he has met her through the one woman for whom I have
been wrong enough to forget my prejudices. What a punish-
escapes the terrible charge of sublimity. But there is a certain
peevishness in her expression which adds a comfortable smack of
human nature to her classic features.]
I thought mamma would never go. I have been hiding
in your boudoir ever since I heard she was here.
Was Cyril with you ?
Oh, no ; he has gone out for a walk.
Tell me, dearest, have you and Cyril had
agreement lately ? Is there any misunderstanding ?
Oh, no. [Sighs.]
I remember quite well that before I married Herbert
he often suffered from the oddest moods of depression. Several
times he entreated me to break off the engagement. His affection
was so reverential that he feared he was not worthy of me. I
assure you I had the greatest difficulty in overcoming his scruples,
and persuading him that whatever his faults were I could help him
to subdue them.
But Cyril and I are not engaged. It is all
Men take these things for granted. If the truth
were known, I daresay he already regards you as his wife.
[With an inspired air.]
Perhaps that is why he treats
me so unkindly. I have often thought that if he were my
husband he could not be more disagreeable ! He has not a word
for me when I speak to him. He does not hear. Oh, Lady
Doldrummond, I know what is the matter. He is in love, but I
am not the one. You are all wrong.
No, no, no. He loves you ; I am sure of it. Only
be patient with him and it will come all right. Hush ! is that his
step ? Stay here, darling, and I will go into my room and write
letters. [Exit, brushing the tears from her eyes.]
who has gone to the window.]
His Lordship will be down in half an hour, sir. He is
now having his hair brushed.
[In surprise as she looks
round. ]Mr. Mandeville!
I hardly expected to meet you here.
And why, may I ask ?
You know what Lady Doldrummond is. How did
overcome her scruples ?
Is my reputation then so very bad ?
You — you are supposed to be rather dangerous. You
sing on the stage, and have a tenor voice.
Is that enough to make a man dangerous ?
How can I tell ? But mamma said you were invincible.
You admire mamma, of course. [Sighs.]
A charming woman, Mrs. de Trappe. A
interesting woman ; so sympathetic.
But she said she would not listen to you.
The Yellow Book Vol. I. Q
Did she say that ? [A slight pause.] I hope you
will not be angry when I own that I do not especially admire your
mother. A quarter of a century ago she may have had consider-
able attractions, but— are you offended ?
Offended ? Oh, no. Only it seems strange. I thought
that all men admired mamma. [Pause.] You have not told me
yet how you made Lady Doldrummond’s acquaintance.
I am here at Lord Aprile’s invitation. He
decided that he feels no further need of Lady Doldrummond’s
Oh, Mr. Mandeville, are you teaching him to
But you will agree with me that a young man
cannot make his mother a kind of scribbling diary ?
Still, if he spends his time well, there does not seem to
be any reason why he should refuse to say where he dines when he
is not at home.
Lady Doldrummond holds such peculiar ideas
would find immorality in a sofa-cushion. If she were to know
that Cyril is coming with me to the dress rehearsal of our new
It would break her heart. And Lord
would be indignant. Mamma says his own morals are so excellent !
Is he an invalid ?
Certainly not. Why do you ask ?
Whenever I hear of a charming husband I always
think that he must be an invalid. But as for morals, there can be no
harm in taking Cyril to a dress rehearsal. If you do not wish him
to go, however, I can easily say that the manager does not care to
have strangers present. [Pause.] Afterwards there is to be a
ball at Miss Sparrow’s.
Is Cyril going there, too ?
I believe that he has an invitation, but I will
persuade him to refuse it, if you would prefer him to remain at
You are very kind, Mr. Mandeville, but it
is a matter of
indifference to me where Lord Aprile goes.
Perhaps I ought not to have mentioned this to
[Annoyed.] It does not
make the least difference. In
fact, I am delighted to think that you are taking Cyril out into
the world. He is wretched in this house. [With heroism.] I am
glad to think that he knows any one so interesting and clever and
beautiful as Sarah Sparrow. I suppose she would be considered
[With a profound
glance.] One can forget her—
Perhaps— when I am as old as she is—
I shall be prettier than I am at present.
You always said you liked my voice. We never
see anything of each other now. I once thought that— well—
that you might like me better. Are you sure you are not angry
with me because I am taking Cyril to this rehearsal ?
Quite sure. Why should I care where Cyril
only wish that I, too, might go to the theatre to-night. What
part do you play ? And what do you sing ? A serenade ?
[Astounded.] Yes. How
on earth did you guess
that ? The costume is, of course, picturesque, and that is the great
thing in an opera. A few men can sing— after a fashion— but to
find the right clothes to sing in — that shows the true artist.
And Sarah; does she look her part ?
Well, I do not like to say anything against her,
Perdrigonde. Ah ! if you were on the stage, Miss de Trappe!
You have just the exquisite charm, the grace, the majesty of
bearing which, in the opinion of those who have never been to
Court, is the peculiar distinction of women accustomed to the
Oh, I should like to be an actress !
No ! no ! I spoke selfishly— if you only acted
with me, it would be different ; but— but I could not bear to see
another man making love to you— another man holding your hand
and singing into your eyes— and— and— Oh, this is madness.
You must not listen to me.
I am not— angry, but— you must never again say things
which you do not mean. If I thought you were untruthful it
would make me so —so miserable. Always tell me the truth.
[Holds out her hand.]
You are very beautiful ![She drops her eyes, smiles, and wanders unconsciously to the
[Lady Doldrummond suddenly enters from the boudoir, and Cyril
from the middle door. Cyril is handsome, but his features have
that delicacy and his expression that pensiveness which promise
artistic longings and domestic disappointment.]
[Cordially and in a state of
suppressed excitement.] Oh,
mother, this is my friend Mandeville. You have heard me men-
tion him ?
I do not remember, but—
When I promised to go out with you this afternoon, I
forgot that I had another engagement. Mandeville has been kind
enough to call for me,
Another engagement, Cyril?[Lord Doldrummond enters and comes down, anxiously looking from
one to the other.]
Father, this is my friend Mandeville. We
to go up to town this afternoon.
[Calmly.] What time
shall I send the carriage to the
station for you ? The last train usually arrives about —
I shall not return to-night. I intend to stay in town.
Mandeville will put me up.
And where are you going ?
He is coming to our dress rehearsal of the “Dandy
and the Dancer.”
At the Parnassus. [Lord and Lady Doldrummond
exchange horrified glances] I daresay you have never heard of the
place, but it amuses me to go there, and I must learn life for
myself. I am two-and-twenty, and it is not extraordinary that I
should wish to be my own master. I intend to have chambers of
my own in town.
Surely you have every liberty in this house ?
If you leave us, you will leave the rooms in which
your mother has spent every hour of her life, since the day you
were born, planning and improving. Must all her care and
thought go for nothing ? The silk hangings in your bedroom she
worked with her own hands. There is not so much as a pen-
wiper in your quarter of the house which she did not choose with
the idea of giving you one more token of her affection.
I am not ungrateful, but I cannot see much of the world
through my mother’s embroidery. As you say, I have every
comfort here. I may gorge at your expense and snore on your
pillows and bully your servants, I can do everything, in fact, but
quite frigid.] [Footman enters.]
The dog-cart is at the door, my lord.
You think it well over and you will see that I am
perfectly right. Come on, Mandeville, we shall miss the train.
Make haste : there is no time to be polite. [He goes out, dragging
Mandeville after him, and ignoring Julia.]
Was that my son ? I am ashamed of him ! To
desert us in this rude, insolent, heartless manner. If I had
whipped him more and loved him less, he would not have been
leaving me to lodge with a God knows who. I disown him !
The fool !
If you have anything to say, blame me ! Cyril has
the noblest heart in the world ; I am the fool.
The Yellow Book, vol. 1, April 1894. Yellow Book Digital Edition, edited by Dennis Denisoff and Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, 2010-2014. Yellow Nineties 2.0, Ryerson University Centre for Digital Humanities, 2021. https://1890s.ca/YBV1_all