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Title:      Confessional
Author:     Frank Harris(1856-1931)
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Language:   English
Date first posted:          April 2003
Date most recently updated: April 2003

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A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook

Title:      Confessional
Author:     Frank Harris(1856-1931)





A VOLUME OF INTIMATE PORTRAITS SKETCHES & STUDIES

THE PANURGE PRESS NEW YORK, 1930
PRINTED IN  THE  UNITED  STATES OF  AMERICA

CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION

PART ONE: PERSONS
Columbus
Joan of Arc
Napoleon
Tolstoi's Last Days

PART TWO: PLACES
Great Cities of the World
Seville
Travel in France
Granada and the Alhambra

PART THREE: PRINCIPLES
Short Story Writing
The Art of Biography
Thoughts on Morals
Natural Religion

PART FOUR: PASSIONS
An Execution in Paris,
A Strange Story of Love




INTRODUCTION

The art of essay-writing is peculiar: some of the greatest have never
indulged in it and yet literature would be poorer without the essays
of Bacon, Montaigne, Emerson and Schopenhauer. I had never thought of
writing essays; but my friend Esar Levine, who knows my writings
better than I know them myself, insists that my fugitive attempts
are worthy of enduring form. Naturally I was easy to persuade and
they are now assembled in a book for my readers to judge.

I prefer Bacon's Essays to his larger works which indeed I have never
even read through; Schopenhauer's Essays also are more interesting to
me than his masterpiece, and surely everyone prefers Emerson's Essays
to his poetry though now and then he wears the singer's robe with a
certain majesty; but after all, Montaigne, nearly all of whose works
may be called essays, and Bacon are the true types of essayists and
the greatest masters of the art. Both appear to write any thing that
comes into their heads and they always find something interesting to
say.

If Anglo-Saxon prudes would read Montaigne's essay on "Love" they
might perhaps realize that truth demands freedom of speech, that the
very vesture of truth is the exact word. But Montaigne's object was
not to teach so much as to relieve his own feelings and pent-up
thoughts, and these essays of mine should be read in much the same
spirit.

I cannot resist the temptation to set forth here a few of the gems
which these masters have given us. Bacon says:

 "A man that studieth revenge, keepeth his own
  wounds green, which otherwise would heal and do well."

This is wiser than the Italian proverb which says "revenge is a dish
which should be eaten cold." There is, however, a Creole proverb in
Mauritius, "Ca qui boude manze boudin" (He who sulks eats his own
belly), which shows insight equal to Bacon's. The worldly wisdom of
Bacon often astonishes me:

  "If a man will keep but of even hand, his ordinary expenses
  ought to be but to the half of his receipts; but if he think
  to wax rich, but to the third part. . . . He that is plentiful
  in expenses of all kinds, will hardly be preserved from decay."

And here is his best; one of the furthest throws of human thought,
finer even than the best of Pascal:

  "There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness
  in the proportion."

But it is, I confess, in Montaigne that I am most interested. I have
always the feeling that he was the wisest and among the best of
Frenchmen and he reaches the heights without appearance of effort.
Here is a phrase equal to Bacon's best:

  "Our life consisteth partly in folly, partly in wisdom. He that
  writes of it but reverently and regularly omits the better half
  of it."

I often please myself by thinking that I am more akin to Montaigne
than to any other essayist. His views, even on the literary art, are
mine:

  "I had rather my child should learn to speak in a Taverne,
  than in the schools of well-speaking Art."

And again,

  "In my country and in my days, learning and bookishness
  doth much mend purses; but minds not at all."

And finally,

  "I refuse no words that are used in the frequented streets
  of France: those that will combat use and custom by the
  strict rules of grammar do but jest: I correct unadvised
  not customary errors. Speak I not so everywhere? Do I not
  lively display myself? That sufficeth."

That is my defense too.

On almost every page I find fruits of thought:

  "Love is not properly nor naturally in season, but in the
  age next unto infancy: no more is perfect beauty."

  "I accept truth as well when it helps me, as when it hurts me."

And how he makes fun of abstinence and prudery. He puts his contempt
in italics:

  "_Are we not most brutish to term that work beastly which
  begets and which maketh us_?"

No such wisdom in English.

In comparison with these masters, the English and American writers
such as Charles Lamb and Emerson are infinitely overrated. I would
rather spend an hour with Montaigne than five minutes with Emerson who
is too much the preacher, or one minute with Lamb who after all never
reaches the height of the argument.





PART ONE PERSONS

COLUMBUS

So far as we can learn, the outward appearance of Columbus was in no
wise remarkable. Tall he was, and of goodly presence, with a slightly
long face, and aquiline features. His eyes were light in color and his
hair auburn. Such a description tells us nothing, and yet these few
details comprise nearly the whole of what his contemporaries say of
the bodily peculiarities of the greatest man then living. What a pity
it is that no one who had eyes to see ever looked upon Columbus, or
rather, that no such person ever put on paper a description of the
man. Much that was extraordinary in the spirit of Columbus must have
left its imprint on his face and in his manner. Indomitable energy and
force not to be denied must have been written, one would think, on
this man's countenance. What calm, practical insight those eyes of his
must have had!--what latent fire of enthusiastic resolve! Yet no one
has so depicted him. Great men pass through this world unnoticed,
save by their peers, and the equal of Columbus was not to be
found at that time within the compass of the world.

But something of real import we do know in regard to him; we know that
throughout his life "he was very strict in all religious observances,
so diligent in prayers and fastings, that he might have been taken for
a monk." A servant of God, we should imagine, who cared little for
what men might think of him or of his actions. We do not know much of
the early life of Columbus, but nearly all that we do know of it is
significant. Born at Genoa in 1436, or, as some say, in 1435, of poor
parents, Columbus, after working for some time at his father's trade
of wool-combing, went to sea in his fifteenth year. How he fared
during the following quarter of a century is left chiefly to our
imagination. Now and then, indeed, the curtain lifts, and we hear of
him as captaining a Venetian galley, and displaying in the conflict
"desperate audacity"; we know, too, that he was wrecked at least once,
and that his sailors always "greatly marveled how that so bold a man
could waste so many hours in reading books and constructing charts."
But of the history of the man's spirit during this period we know
little or nothing of positive value. It is supposed that the idea of
the world's unexplored vastness came to Columbus, after years of
prolonged study, sometime in the year 1474.

At once he formed the resolve to devote his life to the discovery of
those parts of the world which were still unknown. It says much for
the patriotism of the man that he first offered his native town the
opportunity of turning his talents to account. But the Genoese Senate
would have nought to do with the mad idea. A sure five per cent seemed
to those worthies far more desirable than the chance of boundless
wealth and the prospect of immortal renown. On getting his answer,
Columbus made for Portugal and laid his project before King John. The
monarch was so struck with the plan that he conceived the idea of
reaping all the profit and winning all the glory of its realization
for himself. In secret he dispatched a frigate on the quest, but
"after a very short time the caravel returned to Lisbon, for the
sailors quickly lost heart in the enterprise." No, no, friend John,
Nature cannot be so cheated; the plan without the planner is
worthless; without a Columbus the New World is not discoverable. On
finding himself deceived, Columbus sent his brother Bartholomew to
Henry VII of England, and betook himself to Spain to try his powers of
persuasion. Here, we learn, "he quickly converted all men he met," and
so was forwarded at length to the king. But Ferdinand was not the man
to decide an important matter without long consultations with his
priests and they were as bigotedly superstitious as the king was weak.
And so, after keeping Columbus "in tow" for more than four weary
years, the monarch's advisers decided that his ideas were opposed to
the Scriptures and subversive of the teaching of the Fathers of the
Church. Oh, ye wise ones! who measure Eternity by Time, the whole by
its part. And so this man--whose hair, we are told, was gray at
thirty--was turned adrift once more after sixteen years of fruitless
labor. At fifty-four years of age Columbus had to begin the world
again.

Yet had he known it, the travail of his soul was about to bear fruit.
What we men call chance put him on the way to the accomplishment of
his desire. "_By chance_," we are told, Columbus fell in with one
Juan Feres, who had formerly been confessor to the Queen Isabella,
and Juan praised loudly the queen's wisdom and resolution. Then once
again Columbus used his powers, and the old cunning of brain and
tongue did not desert him. Before they parted for the night Juan was a
convert and had written a letter warmly commending Columbus to the
queen. Once again Columbus sets forth, this time towards Granada.
There he abode in the Christian camp which was besieging the city, and
there he witnessed the final downfall of the Moorish empire; eating
his heart out the while, we may be sure, in bitter disappointment. At
last, in January, 1492, he received a definite refusal. Forthwith he
put his scanty baggage in order, and on a wintry morning set out for
France. Bad fortune had manifestly no power of quelling this
indomitable spirit. He had spent eighteen years in fruitless prayers
and futile persuadings, in wanderings up and down the earth "wherever
men had journeyed," but he was still prepared to undergo fresh toil,
fresh humiliations of doubt and ridicule.

In this temper, "the stouthearted one" left Granada one January
morning, scornfully shaking the dust of the city from his feet. What
must have been his thoughts as his mule paced slowly away from the
place in which he had expended fruitlessly so much insight and intense
earnestness. "These people," he must have said to himself in
bitterness of soul, "in order to conquer the Moors, whose civilisation
was higher than their own, and to annex a few square miles of mountain
range and valley, which must ere long have fallen without an effort
under their lordship, have spent millions of money and sacrificed
thousands of valuable lives. On the other hand, here am I offering
them a whole New World of marvelous wealth and beauty, and in order to
insure the possession of it they will not put to hazard a thousand
beggarly pieces of silver." Columbus was mistaken. Queen Isabella was
of high and ambitious temper, gifted, too, with all the quick insight
pertaining to her sex, and she had been impressed, in spite of the
ridicule cast upon him, by the enthusiasm of the strange man at least
as much as by the reasonableness of his deductions.  Scarcely had he
left the camp before she repented of the decision that had been taken,
and resolved to rescind it. Forthwith she dispatched messengers to
bring back the Genoese to her presence and these messengers overtook
Columbus on the simple stone Bridge of Pines, barely six miles north
of Granada, a spot thenceforth forever memorable in the history of the
world.

The end of it was that on the 17th of April he was commissioned by
their Catholic Majesties, as a mark of their high favor, to take his
life in his hand and sail westwards over unknown seas in quest of an
unknown land. But although this kindness was not shown him till the
ardor of youth was long past, and the vigor of manhood well-nigh
exhausted, still even in his fifty-sixth year, the war-worn and
wave-worn hero was ready, for at length the supreme hour had struck,
and with sternest resolution Columbus went forth to put the ambition
of a lifetime to the test. No delays were to be feared on his part.
Quickly he chartered and equipped three small vessels which today
would not be considered seaworthy fishing-smacks, and then got crews
together, in all barely one hundred and twenty men. And such men!
Before a quarter of their task was done they rose in revolt against
their commander. They wanted to put back, and could scarcely be
induced to continue, even by Columbus. And this scene was repeated
again and again. Surely such crazy craft and such currish crews have
never before, and never since, accomplished so wonderful an
undertaking. But Columbus went with them, and it was the presence and
power of a very great man alone which could assure success. In this
voyage all his powers were proved to the uttermost. Not in vain now
had he been a sailor from his youth up, for storm after storm was
encountered which tested all his seamanship. Not in vain now was it
that he had formerly calculated reckonings and constructed charts, for
even to steer a direct course was in those days a matter of the
extremest difficulty.  Nay, more, his powers of persuasion, which had
been developed in twenty years of solicitations and pleadings, found
full employment in disposing his crews to continually renewed efforts.

But the chief element in his success was my doubtedly one which in our
days is all too generally decried. For forty-odd years Columbus had,
to use a significant phrase, walked with God, and accustomed himself
to believe implicitly in what he could not see. To use the words of a
heroic English navigator in similar circumstances, one upheld, too, by
as grand a faith, Columbus felt that God was as near him by sea as by
land. And so his faith in the New World never failed or faltered till
at last the desire of his heart was fulfilled. At ten o'clock at
night, on October 11th, after seventy days' sailing, Columbus
perceived and pointed out a light ahead. Think of it! The old man was
assuredly not the keenest sighted on board the ships but still he was
the first to see the light by passion of faith and as a reward of
wisdom. At two o'clock next morning Rodrigo de Triana, a sailor on the
smallest of the three ships, sighted land. The land, called by
Columbus San Salvador, was an island, and probably the one we know now
by the name of Watling Island. The next morning Columbus landed,
richly clad, and bearing the royal banner of Spain. He was accompanied
by the greater portion of his crews, some of whom took with them the
banner devised by Columbus himself--a Green Cross. How, on landing,
they gave thanks to God, kneeling upon the shore and kissing the
ground with tears of joy for "the great mercy received," and how the
men who had shown themselves mutinous sought the pardon of Columbus
with passionate tears, have we not all read a thousand times? This
moment was, perhaps, the most joyful in the whole life of Columbus.

We do not purpose to give here the details of his further voyages and
discoveries. Of course we all know that he did later discover the
mainland of South America, and that he established colonies in various
parts of the New World. But our concern is chiefly with the man
himself, and therefore we cannot dwell upon what were, after all,
insignificant incidents in his life. On his return home, his progress
to the court was a sort of triumphal procession, the title of Don was
conferred upon him and his brothers, and a coat of arms was made out
for him, whereon the royal castle and lion of Castile and Leon kept
peaceful company with the four anchors of his old escutcheon. But
although Columbus only reached Spain in March, 1493, we find him
leaving it again with a new expedition in September of the same year.
This second voyage was as successful as the first.  On it he
discovered many of the West Indian Islands, and founded the city and
settlement of Isabella. But then came vexations, miseries, insults, to
increase great physical infirmities, and to take the place of

  "All that should accompany old age,
  Such as honor, love, obedience, troops of friends."

>From now to the close of his life, Columbus suffered agonies from gout
and ophthalmia; besides, his colonies did not prosper, and the kingly
favor did not long stand disappointments. The rest can all be summed
up in one story.

In the year 1500, while engaged successfully in bringing tranquillity
and order into a colony, Columbus was superseded in the government of
it by Bobadilla, an emissary of the King of Spain, and by him was sent
back to Spain in chains. On the voyage home the captain of the
caravel, we are told, struck with admiration of his high bearing,
offered to remove the chains, but that Columbus would in no wise
consent. He would wear them, he said, until the king, by whose orders
they had been affixed, should command their removal, and he would
keep them ever afterwards as "memorials of the reward of his
services." And so he did. Ever afterwards, his son tells us, Columbus
kept these chains in his study, and by his will they were buried with
him in his coffin.

It ought to be universally understood that the man who discovered a
continent, and who thus enlarged the boundaries of civilisation
itself, must have possessed genius of a high order besides
extraordinary force of character. But in the case of Columbus this is
not even generally recognized. Most people think of his unparalleled
achievement as due rather to chance and luck than to his exceptional
ability, and the heroic qualities of his manhood. This common
misconception it was which induced me to lay stress upon the fact that
Columbus was not only a great seaman, but also a student, who, while
working hard for his living, yet found time to master much of the best
knowledge of his age. No ordinary seaman in the fifteenth century knew
that the world was round, and from this imperfectly known fact to
reach and realise the conception that portions of the earth's surface
probably did exist which were then unknown, shows mental intuition of
a very high order.

How "high" we must rank the sheer intellect in Columbus becomes clear
when we consider one or two facts. It is certain that the earliest
astronomers regarded the earth as round. Eratosthenes even seems to
have had some idea of the principle by which its exact configuration
has been in quite modern days determined. But from the time of the
Alexandrian physicist, who lived towards the close of the third
century of our era, little or no progress had been made in this
department of knowledge for twelve centuries. How dense the general
ignorance was even at the end of the fifteenth century, may be gauged
from the fact that Fernel, a French astronomer and geodesist, who
flourished at this time, and whose fame has survived to our days, knew
no better method of measuring a meridian than by leaving Paris in a
coach for the South, and counting the number of revolutions made by a
wheel of his carriage. Even a century later, Galileo was imprisoned,
and his books condemned, because he taught the "damnable heresy" that
the earth moved round the sun. But if the mere conception of the idea
denoted great mental power, what shall be said of the force of
character and energy necessary to its realization? Between knowing and
doing in all departments of life there is a gulf fixed.

Great strength of character is very rare--rarer, we think, than high
intelligence--but the union of both it is which entitles Columbus to
the noblest reputation. In his case, as in that of all other great
men, the truth obtains that the doer is always greater than the work
he does.

Strange irony of fate! Columbus, the pauper enthusiast, endowed the
Spanish monarchy with the most magnificent possession that has ever
changed hands, and yet Columbus, who had given the king and queen a
world, lived to beg of them, as he himself once said in high disdain,
"enough ground for a grave." Posterity has partly atoned for the
injustice. The name of Columbus today stands immeasurably higher than
the names of Isabella and Ferdinand. And this is the only reward on
which genius can surely reckon, even to this day. Was it not wisely
said once, "He that is greatest among you let him be as the younger,
and he that is chief as he that doth serve"?  And, after all, what
higher reward can there be for a noble soul than the consciousness of
great services rendered to humanity?




JOAN OF ARC


Men have been writing about Joan of Arc ever since she reached the
King's Court at Chinon, in March, 1429, and it is only now, five
centuries after her death, that it is perhaps possible to see her
fairly or write of her in the right spirit. It may be worth our while
briefly to trace how Joan has risen in the esteem and admiration of
men during these last five hundred years. After her first astounding
successes in the field, she was treated like a queen and ennobled
under the name of du Lis (taken from the lilies of her banner); but
even in those summer days the sunshine hours were few and fleeting,
and the praise of one here and there was quickly overborne in the
storm of detraction and hatred that followed on defeat.

For many long years the prophet was without honor in her own country.
No Frenchman ever wrote about her. Shakespeare gives us an inkling of
the common view entertained of her by the English in his day, and
though he was very young when he offended, his offense, as I have
said, still remains as the greatest blot upon his literary fame.
Nearly two centuries later Voltaire poured scurrilous contempt upon
"The Maid" and her mission, and thus enabled us to measure his short"
comings as in a mirror. A little later Schiller wrote the play in
which he pictured Joan with admiration as a heroine, while saying
little or nothing about her mission and the supernatural visitants
who, as she believed, guided her to victory.

Then came, about 1850, the historical research of Quicherat, and the
essay founded on this knowledge which was written by Sainte-Beuve.
This work, though greatly praised, is not as good as it might be.
Sainte-Beuve does not recognise the saint and mystic in Joan; but he
does realise in her the hero and woman. He shows us how wittily,
gayly, she can answer the coarse pleasantries of the soldiers whom
she meets on her way to the king, and he shows, too, the deathless
courage which carried her triumphantly through the long trial and the
fire-agony. No one else has done anything as good as this.

Anatole France tells us of the "voices" indeed, and of Joan's talks
with Gabriel and Michael and other Archangels; but he writes as a mere
reporter, and he leaves the subject without attempting to realise for
us Joan's perfect sincerity. Sainte-Beuve has done more in thirty
pages than Anatole France has done in six hundred, and Sainte-Beuve's
firm, scrupulous French style is a finer frame than the elaborate
aloofness of the great writer who seems afraid to show us the pure
humanity in Joan as Sainte-Beuve shows it; in fact, France does not
realize her at all, whether as girl or hero, or saint or mystic; he
talks about her and about, and interests us more in La Hire, and in
her soldier lover, than in the incomparable Maid.

The sooner one forgets this book and reads again Sainte-Beuve's essay
the better; or better still, let us take up again the account of her
trial in Quicherat, and read that through, if indeed one can read it
for tears.

It is curious that all the good Fathers of divinity, from St.
Augustine to Newman, have been great because of a certain skepticism
in them, a certain revolt; but, however it may be with the saints,
faith is an absolute necessity to the artist. No one must write of
Joan of Arc today who cannot believe as implicitly as she believed
in supernatural guidance. "But 'science' has changed our life," one
cries, "and skepticism has got into our blood, and . .." But science
is no enemy of truth, and if Joan of Arc told the truth, it must stand
today as it stood in the fifteenth century and be explicable to every
soul of man now as it was then. She heard "voices," she said, which
directed her; and again and again she waited for their direction, and
followed it at once. But in the great crises of life which of us has
not waited for higher spiritual promptings, and at least in youth,
heard the "voices" which Joan heard? True, we do not all think that
Michael is speaking to us, or Gabriel or some other Archangel; but the
voices are there, articulate-clear, and they do not come from
self-interest or our lower nature, and it is often difficult for us to
obey them. But this girl obeyed them implicitly for years and years;
and when one success after another, one miracle after another, had
resulted from their guiding, was it not natural for Joan to be filled
with the ineffable assurance that the powers of good were lifting her
as on angel wings to ultimate triumph? But whether natural or not, it
is at least sure that only one possessed of the same conviction can
catch even a glimpse of that heroic soul.

It seems to me that the position of the writer, in face of so high and
so difficult a task, is something like that of Joan herself. "Someone
must do it," he will say to himself, thrilling with the unearthly
splendor of the achievement; "but not I," he will add, appalled by the
immediate difficulty, "not I; someone who has lived a great life, and
is all given to immortal longings; someone, too, who has seen the veil
between the possible and the impossible, the natural and the
miraculous, rent and tossed aside again and again; some divine
personality who . . ." But still the voices prompt and urge, growing
more and more insistent, till at length the doubting soul takes
courage, and turns to the work. Then the long preparation--for in such
work as this success can only come by prayer and fasting and
indefatigable endeavor--and then the writing. Do not think the danger
is all to the hero who faces the swords and arrows; the writer, too,
has his foes to face, and they are just as real as English bowmen and
just as hurtful.

The writer who approached the task in this spirit would, I think, have
to begin by painting the girl in her upbringing and peasant
surroundings.

When Joan came to her teens--she was born on January 6th, 1412, to
Jean, a laborer--the state of France was desperate, the monarchy of
France fallen to contempt. By the Treaty of Troyes, signed in 1420,
Henry V, King of England, was given peaceable possession of
Aquitaine, Normandy, and Brittany. The Duke of Burgundy held not only
the great province of Burgundy itself, but Paris and the Ile de
France, and he was an ally of the English. Provence even was in
revolt. After the defeats of Crevant-sur-Yonne and Verneuil, the cause
of Charles, the Dauphin, seemed hopeless. His kingdom was shrunken to
the little duchy of Berry. In derision he was called the "King of
Bourges." It looked as if France must become English.

As a child Joan was noted for her high spirits, restless activity and
vivacity as well as for her piety and eagerness to leam. We are told
that she was the best needlewoman in the whole countryside, and the
favorite of the priests who taught her; she would have nothing to do
with the young men of the village who sought her favors. More and more
she lived to herself and gave her hours to solitude and prayer.

She was still quite young when she first heard the old prediction of
the enchanter Merlin that the calamities which should befall France
through the depravity of a woman would all be removed by a virgin. In
the country of Joan the tradition was current that this virgin would
come out of the forest of Domremy, where Joan tended her father's
sheep. What more natural than that this extraordinary spirit should
take the tradition to herself. The noble strain was in her blood; her
mother had made the pilgrimage to Rome, and bore the sacred surname,
Romee; might it not be that she, Joan, was set apart for something
great and difficult? Certain it is that while still hardly more than a
child she began to live to the high enterprise.

We know that it was a passionate love of country which set her soul
aflame. A band of Burgundian pillagers raided the district in which
she lived, and murdered some of the inhabitants. France lay like a
fair woman at the mercy of foreign ruffians. Throbbing with pity and
indignation, Joan besought her patron Saint Michael, the Archangel,
and the Saints Margaret and Catherine to rescue France from the hands
of the savage English. For some time her prayers remained unanswered;
but her fervor grew with her growth, and soon her beloved saints came
to her in visions, and spoke to her with distinct voices. From the
bottom of her garden she could see the church .and in the great window
were her saints pictured. Time and again they came down to her; ever
more imperiously they ordered her to drive the English out of
France--to "bouter l'Anglais _hors de France_" and to anoint the
Dauphin Charles as King in Rheims.

One morning, after spending the whole night pleading her own
unworthiness, she ventured to tell her uncle, Andre Laxart, of her
mission. At first the good man would have nothing to do with it. She
must be mad, he said. But bit by bit Joan's earnestness won him, and
at length he consented to conduct her to the Sire de Baudricourt, who
was the governor of the nearest fortress, which happened to be
Vaucouleurs. The good knight laughed the mad notion to scorn, and
advised Laxart to take the girl back to her father and get her whipped
into a saner mind. "A prophet is not without honor--"

Joan was forced to return to Domremy, but there was no rest for her in
her native place. The visions grew ever clearer, the voices more
insistent. She returned alone to Vaucouleurs and saw Baudricourt, and
told him that she must see her king. "Before mid-Lent," she cried, "I
must be face to face with the king, if I have to wear my legs to the
knees to get to him." Baudricourt got a priest to examine her and she
said she was a virgin and good but the captain still refused, though
Joan shook him to hesitation. She then made a pilgrimage to Saint
Nicholas-du-Port, and on the way won three gentlemen to faith in her
divine mission. Their names were Bertrand de Foulangy, Jean de
Sonnecourt, and Jean de Metz.

With this backing Joan returned to Baudricourt again, and at length
prevailed. Baudricourt bought her a horse that cost a hundred and
sixty livres, or say, one thousand dollars; gave her, besides, a suit
of armor, and a pair of spurs.

"Go ahead, my girl," he said, "come what may come." He appointed her,
besides, as escort, a gentleman, Colin de Vienne, whom he charged with
a written letter to the king; an archer named Richard, too, and a
servant, Julian. Joan spent the night in thanksgiving and prayer, and
early next morning, February 24, 1429, started with her little band of
six to drive the English out of France. She was not yet seventeen
years of age. Was there ever a more insane adventure?

There were more than eighty leagues to cover, across a country
infested by marauding bands of English and Burgundians. By something
like a miracle Joan and her escort met with no hindrance, and arrived
at Chinon ten days later, on March 6th. The little band had used all
haste, had covered twenty-five miles a day in wintry weather, over bad
roads, Joan always in the front, her heart burning within her. It is
the bare truth to say that she had turned her followers into
passionate enthusiasts before the journey's end. Within an hour of
reaching Chinon, Colin de Vienne sent his message to the king, whom he
was unable to see; but Charles replied that he would see the girl on
March 9th.

Up to that time the little shepherdess had never seen the king, who
was then twenty-six years old. Everyone knows the story of how, in
order to test her, he concealed himself among his courtiers, and how
Joan went to him at once, and, kneeling before him, told him what the
angel-voices had told her. Her passionate earnestness brought the
little Dauphin almost to belief. He consented to see her in private.
She assured him that he was legitimate, a thing which his own
courtiers at the time doubted greatly.

The Dauphin was won to hope, if not to faith. But naturally the
courtiers and churchmen were against the girl. They had her examined
spiritually by the prelates of Courthay, and physically by some
matrons of Poitiers, for an old saying had got about that only a
virgin would be able to save the crown of France. The spiritual test
was severer than one would imagine. But Joan's innocent sincerity and
native good-sense turned the obstacles into stepping-stones. A certain
Abbe Seguin, from Perigord, in the extreme south of France, pushed his
skepticism to the point of asking her whether in the talks she had had
with St. Michael, the Archangel had spoken to her in French or in
Latin--Latin, of course, being the language of the Church and of the
educated. Joan looked at him, and replied: "In French, Monsieur
l'Abbe--better French than yours." And everyone laughed in delight,
for Seguing French accent was as strong as the garlic he loved.

Joan returned to Chinon in triumph, and the Dauphin at once accorded
her such an establishment as might have been given to a Prince of the
blood. Joan ordered her armor at Tours, and her standard at Blois.
Behind the altar of the little church at Fierbois her "voices" told
her to find her sword. The Duke d'Alencon gave her a great war-horse,
and without practice she mounted it at once in such fashion that the
Bastard of Orleans, le Comte de Richemont, the old soldiers
Xaintrailles, La Hire, and the Marechal Derais became enthusiastic
partisans.

Early in April, after praying the whole night, Joan began the campaign
of the Loire "with a shining face." On April 29th she made her entry
into Orleans, and summoned the English to leave the forts and ramparts
which they were occupying. They replied to her with foul jests and
insults. On May 4th she carried the fort of St. Loup by assault, on
the morrow the fort of the Tournelles. Joan, who insisted on putting
up the first scaling-ladder, had her shoulder pierced by an English
arrow, which stuck out more than a foot behind her back. She broke the
arrow off with her own hands and pulled it out of the wound. The women
who were attending her burst into tears as they saw the blood spurt
out. The heroic child cried to them: "Do not weep, good people; it
isn't blood, but glory!" Orleans was delivered, the English driven
back upon Paris, the first part of Joan's mission concluded.

After these miracles is it difficult to believe that this girl,
enskied and sainted in her passion, was compassed about through all
that earthly pilgrimage of hers by innumerable choirs of angels? Call
them how we will, the unseen powers which make for good were with her,
and she trusted them.

It now remained for Joan to crown the Dauphin in Rheims. Flaming
still with eagerness, she turned, and took Jargeau, Beaugency, Meung,
and, as the crowning glory, gained! the great battle of Patay. Not for
a hundred years had the English been beaten by the French on a fair
field.

But the opposition increased with Joan's suecess, envy and hatred
seething about her feet. She had the politicians against her always,
the time-servers La Tremouille and Regnault de Chartres. They
slandered her from morning till night, and scoffed at her pretensions,
and at length decided the king not to follow her to Rheims. As usual,
Joan at this check spent the night on her knees. What was she to do?
What should she do? What did the voices counsel? At first she prayed
in vain. For some time past the visions had not shown themselves
clearly to her, the voices had been faint. Once again Joan's sincerity
conquered. Towards morning Michael himself appeared to her. "You were
told to go to Rheims," he said. "Go, then." At break of day, she
mounted her horse, unfurled her standard, and set forth. The people
crowded after her, and before noon the king was fain to follow humbly
enough. His army soon swelled to twelve thousand men, and on the way
they took Troyes and Chalons almost without striking a blow.

On July 17th, Charles VII was crowned king in the great cathedral at
Rheims. The standard of Joan was the only one unfurled before the
altar. "After going through the danger," she said, "the least one can
do is to allow it to share in the honor."

In these golden summer days Soissons, Vitry, Epernay, Laon,
Montmirail, Provins, and a dozen other strong places caught fire from
Joan's enthusiasm and returned to their allegiance. The Duke of
Lorraine tendered his submission to the king. The campaign was
over--the miracle of miracles accomplished. In less than six months a
girl of seventeen, without friends or help, had freed France from the
English. Let us pause here for a moment to ask: What was the secret of
Joan's success? What gave her the mysterious irresistible influence
over rude warriors depressed and embittered by continual defeats, and
over wily, ambitious churchmen, all sour with suspicion of the absurd
girl-rival? The secret of her strength was that she had lived much in
soul-communion with God. There is no other way of winning influence
over men. For years she had thought of what was right and just, and
talked with heavenly ministers, and when she came among men she spoke
with singular authority, for her lips were still hot with the divine
fire.

Her mission ended, Joan begged the king to allow her to return to
Domremy. Her work was done, she said. Think of her sincerity: at the
top-most golden hour of triumph, when Heaven itself seemed open to
her, even as she stood beside her king in the great cathedral at
Rheims, of a sudden hell yawned at her feet; her "voices" left her;
she listens and cannot hear them; she prays and prays, in an agony of
entreaty; she begs her saints to intercede for her--all to no purpose:
the angelic voices have gone silent and she is too honest to pretend
to the guidance which is no longer hers. She questions everyone: is
the purpose of her life fulfilled in these fleeting months? No more
triumphs? Ought she to be content with this half-success? Her prayers
find no answer; her agony no response. The tragedy of it! But the king
would not have it.  He appealed to her: Would she abandon him now,
with the victory half completed? Paris was still in Burgundian hands.

All around her now perfect confidence and hope: "Lead us to Paris,
where you will, it will still be victory," the nobles and knights
cried, and in her heart the cold dread, and about her the shrouding
silence. Joan insisted that her work was done. The Dauphin would not
be refused. The appeal to the woman to give still was irresistible.
In her loneliness she yielded to her king and her officers, and went
on without her heavenly guides to failure and capture. She failed in
her attacks on Paris, and was made a prisoner at Compiegne on May 24,
1430, and a little later was sold to the English, who took her as a
prisoner to Rouen.

Always in her trial she said her punishment was deserved, because she
went on without her "voices"; she took shame to herself for her pride
and disobedience; but as there had never been a hint of personal
ambition or personal seeking in all her life and labor, so now she was
not left to utter ruin. In the dread hour of her utmost need her
"voices" returned to her: her heavenly visitants!

The passion of the noblest woman in the world lasted for a whole year.
The Bishop of Beauvais, Cauchon, was the president of the infamous
tribunal which spent ten months in seeking to condemn a girl to death
and dishonor a saint. He had promised his English paymasters a "good
outcome."

On April 13th, Joan was made to hear her accusation, which consisted
of a dozen articles. She was possessed of devils, was a witch, a liar,
blasphemous, thirsting for human blood, a murderess, an impious
idolatress, a schismatic; they even went so far as to charge her with
filial impiety. She was declared, too, to have "relapsed," because, by
taking away her woman's garments, they had compelled her to clothe
herself in men's clothes which they left in the cell for her.

Her demeanor before her judges, her wise simple answers, her
confessions of mistake, and her calm assurance that, since her
"voices" had come back to her, all would still be well with her, no
matter what the executioner might do; all this is of the highest. Of
the highest, too, the way she bore the cross-questionings, and coarse
browbeatings of the bishop-judge; the blows and insults of the
soldiers in the prison, and the scorn, contumely and hatred of the
mob.

On May 30, 1431, she was delivered over by the priests to the
executioners and burnt on the public place. As they tied her to the
stake she cried to Cauchon: "It is through you that I am brought to
death!" Desiring to make his infamy as complete as possible, Cauchon
on the morrow paid men to throw her ashes into the Seine.

So Joan died in the third year of her great adventure, before she
was twenty years of age. Of a surety this girl had been called and
chosen to the work which ended in the market place at Rouen. Or,
rather, which did not end there; which, indeed, does not seem likely
to end for a thousand thousand years to come, being as it is the
greatest and noblest thing which France has yet produced; more
magical in example, indeed, and miraculous in conquest of difficulty
than any thing yet seen in Christendom--a portent which flames and
reverberates through all our life still.

Now, what is the lesson of her life to us, the meaning of her failure?
The tragedy of Joan's life is just as simple as the secret of her
success. The virtue she had amassed in those hours of solitary
communion with the Archangel Michael and with Saint Catherine in
Domremy carried her irresistibly to her achievement; but no one
lives in the world without being affected by common views and common
desires. Gradually Joan's stock of primitive virtue wore away. After
Rheims she ought to have returned to Domremy, and in solitary
communion with the highest again filled her soul with the perfume of
the Ineffable. Had she done so, she would have been the greatest of
the Christian saints, dowered with the gentleness of Francis and with
more than the courage of Dominic: as simply human as St. Elisabeth, as
devoted as St. Teresa, she would have enlarged our conception of the
possibilities of womanhood.

That was not to be. Joan was to make mistakes like other mortals, and
like others she was to fall short of the highest, and to be punished
finally, not for her shortcomings, but for her glorious achievement.
So in the public square at Rouen, where all the fiends of the Pit
seemed loosed against her in hootings and hellish laughter, the brave
woman-soul went again to God, and the mortal put on immortality.




NAPOLEON


It is interesting to notice how great men come up again and again to
be written about, generation after generation, and then suddenly
seem to lose their interest. The truth is that at first they are being
classed and their gift to mankind is being assimilated. They can
only be judged by their peers, consequently their valuation takes time
in exact proportion to their greatness. Shakespeare seemed of little
interest to the first generations that succeeded him: to Pepys he
appeared unimportant, but towards the end of the eighteenth century
some of his peers happened to be born, notably Goethe in Germany and
Coleridge in England, and at once he became a center of interest,
every fact about him was collected, every theory eagerly canvassed.
The last half of the nineteenth century was more his true mother-age
than the last half of the sixteenth: the Hamlet-problems, thanks to
Darwinism, had become the problems of the hour and Shakespeare had to
be finally appraised. As soon as this exact valuation is finished the
great man takes his place in the firmament as a fixed star and excites
no further controversy.

Ever since his first success at Toulon in 1793, when he jumped almost
in a day from being a Captain of Artillery to place and power as a
General of Brigade, Napoleon has been an object of universal interest
and almost uninterrupted discussion; but I cannot help thinking that
his final valuation, if not completed, is near at hand.

The works of Masson and others have told us all that can ever be known
now of his childhood and youth, and from his twenty-fourth year on he
lived in such a blase of light that everything he said and did is
known and can be judged.

Masson is merely a dry-as-dust compiler of facts and nearly all of his
facts and nearly all his discoveries need to be brought into true
relation to the great man and his consequent achievements; but that,
too, is in process of accomplishment. It may be interesting here a
century after Napoleon's death to draw attention to the most important
of the new discoveries about his early years, for as Goethe said, it
is the period of development in a man that is of the highest interest.

It cannot be denied that Masson has brought to light three or four
facts of extraordinary significance: "Napoleon described himself in
his childhood as being combative, adroit, lively and extremely
vivacious. He had a complete mastery of his older brother Joseph, whom
he first persecuted and then complained of to his mother before poor
Joseph had time to open his mouth or collects his wits." The mother
admits that Napoleon was the most mischievous of all her children (le
plus diable de tous), though the same disposition showed itself in
all the others and made it necessary to unf urnish a large room to
serve them for a playground. "Napoleon," she adds, "for whom I had
bought a drum and sword, was only happy when painting on the walls
lines of soldiers arranged in battle."

Napoleon as a boy was anything but a brilliant pupil. After making
every allowance for the fact that the language in which he was taught
was not his mother tongue, his shortcomings were extraordinary. His
French pronunciation remained that of an Italian long after his school
days were over and his mischievous schoolfellows at Brienne gave him
the nickname of "Straw-in-the-nose" (paille au nez) from the Italian
way he pronounced his own name--_Napoglione: paille au nez_.

He had left school at 16 before he could pronounce the French "u,"
and indeed he wrote it as "ou" very much later. We have five lines of
poetry written by him at fifteen after five years of schooling in
Brienne, where French grammar and orthography were taught for two
hours daily and in the five lines which he had doubtless learned by
heart there are eight or ten blunders in spelling, which show
astonishing ignorance of French verbs and French cases. When he has to
write Pindar, the Greek poet, he writes not "Pinde," as he should
write, but peon, a word that is not even French. We know from letters
written late in life that he never mastered French prosody. On the
other hand, he was good in mathematics and fair in history and
geography, and his masters now spoke of him as "docile, kind and
grateful," and the Public Examiner, the Chevalier de Keralio, at whose
instance he was selected to complete his training at the Military
School in Paris, is said to have remarked in him "a spark of something
extraordinary that cannot be fostered too earnestly."

After leaving school at sixteen Napoleon took up the task of
self-education very seriously: for some three or four years he read
ancient and modern history, geography and natural sciences
assiduously, but he never overcame his faults in spelling and all his
life he spoke even Italian incorrectly. He was notoriously unable to
read Latin, and though he spent many hours studying German and much
time later in Germany, he never understood German.

How came it that while still a young man he was a master of French, a
writer of prose compared by the best critics with Pascal, one of the
great stylists? Sainte-Beuve put him even higher, declared that he
was the author of "the most magnificent phrases that the talent of a
writer has ever invented" and in his eulogy Sainte-Beuve was within
the truth.

His very ignorance of the usual written language helped him. He
seldom used ordinary phrases and the common platitudes of practiced
writers never came to him. No image was too daring for him, no
suggestion too farfetched: he had his eyes on the fact and his
speeches have more than the imperial brevity of Caesar (_imperatoris
lorevitas_). From the beginning his style is his own
and owes nothing to any teaching. Napoleon had not been in Egypt a
month: he had only just seen a camel when he called it "the ship of
the desert," a painting phrase which has passed into every European
language. And this is only one of hundreds of instances I could give
of his extraordinary genius for speech. Some of his letters in his
last campaign are the finest letters in French.

At the Military School in Paris, which he re-entered at fifteen in
October, 1784, he made one bitter enemy and the story of their hatred
is enthralling. It really looks as if Napoleon at the very beginning
had found a foeman worthy of his steel.

His name was Le Picard de Phelippeaux, a Poitevin, the son of an
officer who had died young. He was two years older than Napoleon and
had been two years longer in the school. One can hardly account for
the reciprocal hatred which existed between him and Bonaparte.
Monsieur Picot, their Sergeant Major, relates that he attempted
during their hours of study to stop their acts of enmity against each
other, but the number of kicks which he intercepted under the table
caused him to give up his project and spare him self bruises. The
mutual enmity can be accounted for in part by their political
prejudices: Napoleon, the Corsican and republican, the dreamer of
national independence--and the Vendeen, the fanatic royalist, which
Phelippeaux proved himself to be all his life.

They left the school at the same time: Phelippeaux, in spite of his
four years' training, gaining only a step above Napoleon. He was
sent to join a regiment at Besancon and in July, 1789, being attached
to the army called for the _coup d'etat_, took up his position with
his battery on Louis XV Square and there waited in vain for the order
to fire, trembling the while with passionate rage. A little later he
left this regiment in favor of the Prince's army and later still went
to the army of Conde.

In 1795 he was nominated to serve under M. le Veneur, Commander in
Berry, Touraine and Orleans. He began at once isolated attacks
against police forces, which resembled brigandage rather than war. He
succeeded in taking possession of Sancerre, but the forces sent
against him were too strong and he was forced to abandon his plan. He
proceeded to disband his men and with incredible audacity
established himself at Orleans.  There he was arrested on the 12th of
June, 1796, but while being conducted to Bourges for trial he managed
to escape; he remained in France till Fructidor and then joined the
army of Conde.

His regiment was ordered to Russia: not wishing to go, Phelippeaux
returned to Paris. There he succeeded in effecting the escape of
Sydney Smith, the redoubtable English admiral, from the Temple Prison.
The story reads like a romance. Phelippeaux dressed himself in an
officer's uniform and produced a forged order to hand over Sydney
Smith; the concierge obeyed the order and Phelippeaux conducted Smith
across France to England. There they were acclaimed as heroes, and the
Ministry made the Frenchman a colonel.

When Sydney Smith began his famous cruises in the Mediterranean his
French savior accompanied him and took part in all his battles. At
the very moment that Bonaparte was marching on Saint-Jean-d'Acre,
Phelippeaux hurried to the town, improvised an armament with cannon
taken from the French fleet, built up new fortifications as soon as
the old ones were forced, and by himself alone opposed the army
commanded by Bonaparte, the army victorious at the Pyramids, Mount
Tabor, Jaffa and Nazareth, repulsed all assaults, killed thousands of
Frenchmen, and arrested the victorious career of Napoleon.

The French were forced to raise the siege and retreat. Phelippeaux to
complete his triumph planned to pursue and destroy them, but his
astounding exertions proved too much for him and he died of exhaustion
in a couple of days. Had it not been for his untimely death no
Frenchman of the Syrian army would ever have entered Cairo, and no
history of Napoleon would ever have been written.

The rivalry with Phelippeaux is one of the most interesting episodes
in Napoleon's life.

But for one such enemy the young Corsican had a dozen unfriendly
critics and dislike, though painting only in shadows, often
accomplishes vivid portraits. Take this one: M. de Romain, in his
work, "Les Souvenirs d'un officier royaliste," refers to Bonaparte
thus: "He was younger than I was, but he came as a comrade to us and
one officer after the other invited him to dinner in the ordinary
courteous fashion. I must confess his face did not please me and I
disliked his character; his mentality and manner were so dry and
dictatorial for a young man of nineteen and a French officer that I
had no inclination to make a friend of him. My knowledge of ancient
and modern history and government was too meager to be able to discuss
his favorite topic with him. So when my turn came to invite him to
dine with me, three or four times in the course of the year, I left
the table immediately after coffee, handing him over to the company of
one of our captains more capable than I of meeting him on his own
level.

"My friends, like myself, could only find in him a ridiculous
assumption of superiority and pedantry. We believed that the
dictatorial tone which he adopted was merely put on until one day he
argued so strongly for the rights of nations in general, even bringing
forward his own, that we were all struck dumb with amazement:
'_Stupete gentes_.' Speaking of the Assemblies of State in Corsica he
declared 'that it was surprising that the Minister should dream of
depriving the islanders of the opportunity to discuss their own rights
and interests,' adding in a menacing tone that 'he (the Minister) does
not know the Corsicans but he will see what they are capable of.' This
showed Bonaparte to us all in his true light. One of our comrades
replied, 'Would you use your sword upon the representative of your
king?' He did not answer. . . . We separated coldly and naturally it
was the last time that this strange comrade honored me with his
presence at my table."

This snapshot of M. de Remain shows the young Napoleon in his habit as
he lived, but I must still cite his own account of the massacre of the
Swiss Guards on the 10th of August, 1792, which taught him how the
insurrection of that date broke out.

"At the sound of the alarm and at the news that they were making an
assault on the Tuileries," he said, "I ran to the Carrousel to the
house of Fauvelet, the brother of Bourrienne, who kept a furniture
shop there. He had been my comrade at the Military School of Brienne:
It was from this house that I was able to witness in safety all the
events of the day. Before I reached the Carrousel I was met in the
street by a group of hideous-looking men carrying a head at the end
of a spear. Seeing me nicely dressed and with the air of a gentleman
they came to me to make me cry, 'Vive la Nation!' which I readily did,
as you will easily imagine.

"The Chateau was attacked by the vilest mob (la plus vile canaille).
For his defense assuredly the king had as many troops as we had
afterwards on the 13th Vendemiaire, and the enemies of our Convention
were much better disciplined and much more to be feared. The greater
part of the national guard was for the king: one owes it this justice.
. . .

"After the palace had been forced and the king brought into the
Assembly I penetrated into the garden. Never, since, has any one of my
battle-fields presented a spectacle of so many corpses as the masses
of Swiss Guards which I then beheld--whether this was due to the
limited space, or to the fact of its being my first experience of the
kind, I cannot say. I saw women, _well dressed women, committing the
vilest indecencies on the bodies of the murdered Guards_....

"I went from one cafe to another in the neighborhood of the
Assembly; everywhere the irritation was extreme and rage and hatred
showed on every face, although the people I saw were not of the lowest
class. I was ordinarily dressed, but probably because I preserved a
calm attitude I excited many hostile and defiant looks."

On the same day Napoleon wrote his brother Joseph a detailed account
of what he had seen. Here is the principal point: "If Louis XVI had
appeared on horseback at the head of his Guards the victory would have
been his."

A couple of years later the chance came to Napoleon. When the sections
rebelled against the Convention he turned the cannon in the Tuileries
garden on the insurgents and in five minutes blew the French
Revolution out of existence. He had had his lesson in the weak
surrender of the king. Talking long afterwards of that dreadful 10th
of August, Napoleon said that he bit his fingers with rage (Je me suis
mange les poings) while watching the needless massacre of the brave
Swiss Guards!

It is a fine saying of Disraeli: "A man's brains may be judged by the
way he appreciates me"; but far truer if said of Napoleon. The
Corsican started lower still upon the social ladder than Disraeli,
climbed higher and left to the after-world enduring moments that
testify to his greatness of soul.

Great men are usually blessed in this one respect--that they usually
have some contemporary who understands them and can bear witness to
their genius. Jesus had many disciples and, above all, Paul.
Shakespeare had several good witnesses and, above all, Ben Jonson,
with his incomparable testimony to Shakespeare's sweetness of disposition,
generosity and wealth of imaginative fancy. Napoleon had Henri Beyle,
better known as Stendhal. Stendhal, however, only wrote a few
preliminary chapters of his life of Napoleon Bonaparte, a mere
outline, just enough to tantalize us and show us that he could have
given us the true man had he so wished.

Why he didn't I cannot imagine. He became supremely interested in his
own work and perhaps preferred to write one of the greatest novels
ever written, "Le Rouge et le Noir," rather than a Life of Napoleon;
and I am sure that in this he did right; but he also wrote "La
Chartreuse de Parme" and other books, and I would have preferred a
Life of Napoleon by him to second-rate work. Nevertheless I shall take
certain things from Stendhal's book.

It is Stendhal who first makes Napoleon's greatness plain to us. After
his feat at Toulon of driving the English ships out of the harbor he
was sent to command at Nice, thanks to the brother of Robespierre, who
was one of the Commissaires for the Army of Italy.

This French army was then under the command of Massena, a tried
general of distinguished skill whom Napoleon always called one of the
ablest of his assistants, but the army was in a state of total
indiscipline and disarray.

The revolutionary forces had only some fifty thousand men on the
Italian frontier, without uniforms, almost without shoes and
scantily provisioned. Stendhal tells us how some of the officers,
invited a little later to a ball in Milan, had to black their toes
that were peeping through their boots--a painting way of telling us
how hard-up the rank and file must have been.

Massena, though born in Nice and intimately acquainted with the local
conditions, had already informed the revolutionary committee that
unless he got pay for the army, proper material of all sorts and at
least another hundred thousand men, he could do nothing against the
Austrian army, well disciplined and well provided for in every
respect, which held fortified heights on the frontier against him,
while the British fleet controlled the seas and swept the coast road
into Italy.

Napoleon came to Nice with no knowledge of the country or conditions,
but within a week he informed the revolutionary committee that by
following a road through the mountains he could take the Austrian army
in the rear, overwhelm it, and soon drive the British fleet from the
harbors as he had already driven them out of Toulon. Massena
reluctantly admitted that by this plan success was possible but most
unlikely. There was no morale in the army and he did not know how one
man could supply it. Napoleon knew. He called the officers together
and addressed them. He spoke to the men, regiment after regiment,
telling them that they were apostles of the religion of Humanity, and
led them against the Austrians as Trotsky led the Red Army in our own
day, aflame with a new passion.

The result justified Napoleon's forecast. The Austrians, taken in
flank, assaulted everywhere by wild-eyed enthusiasts, broke and fled.
In six weeks Napoleon made good his boast and was received as a hero
with open arms by the radicals of Milan.

Of course the Austrians returned to the charge and after having to
abandon his palace at Milan Napoleon was compelled to give up the city
and take to the field again. But this time his troops had tasted
success and the wine of it went to their heads and hearts and they
soon drove the Austrians to the confines of the Tyrol.

Napoleon returned to Milan a conqueror for the second time, to find
that the palace in which he had collected many treasures of art had
been looted in his absence. He had arranged a great reception and ball
beforehand and when he found that all his pictures and statues had
been stolen, he went about among his guests declaring in his Corsican
Italian, his mother tongue, that all Italians were thieves.
Whereupon a fair lady, the Countess Caracciolo of Sicily, remarked to
him with delicious wit:

"Not all, sir, not all: _ma buona pane_"--a good part--with a play
upon his name that made everyone smile. Even in his temper Napoleon
had humor enough to enjoy the jest.

But the fame of Napoleon is founded on surer foundations than the
exploits of a general, which depend on team-work and conditions beyond
one man's control.

Caesar's writings on the war in Gaul and his arbitrary provision that
all creditors in Rome must be satisfied with three-quarters of their
debt did more to establish his reputation than his triumphs on the
Rhine or in Egypt. And Napoleon was not ony a great general and great
writer but a great lawgiver also, and reformer.

He was the first to link up the series of French provincial
universities with their center in Paris, and on this model the Germans
have since builded. He constructed also a modern code of laws, and in
both these great reforms he picked an almost unknown man to help him
who is now regarded as a genius of the first order; he chose Joubert
as adviser before anyone had heard of him: brains selecting brains,
almost involuntarily as mediocrity selects mediocrity, as Wilson
selected Lansing and Burleson _et hoc genus omne_.

One instance of Napoleon's humanity may suffice. The lawyers were
discussing the bankruptcy law and had copied a provision from the old
Roman law which is terribly harsh on the debtor, for all his property
can practically be taken by the creditors. Napoleon said at once:
"This bankruptcy act must not apply to officers in the army and
navy; men who have risked their lives for their country should not be
shamed because of debt." At once officers of the army and navy were
withdrawn from the penalties of the bankruptcy act. But Joubert
quietly remarked: "Sir, men of science also work for ideal ends and
should not be judged harshly as tradesmen who work for nothing but
their own advantage; artists, too, and men of letters are working for
the good of humanity rather than for their own pecuniary advantage.
Surely they, too, might be free from this dishonoring statute."

At once Napoleon agreed. And even now it is impossible in France to
make an artist or man of letters or scientist or officer in the army
or navy a bankrupt.

That in itself would be enough to lift the Code Napoleon above every
other code of laws yet framed among civilised men.

Napoleon, too, built the great-roads that furrow France, enlarged
the canal system, instituted a forestry department, and in fact did
more for the French than all their kings and rulers put together.

I have put no shadows into this sketch, though they are numerous and
dark enough: Napoleon not only lied habitually but habitually
attributed his own blunders to his best generals as Bernadotte; he
couldn't help drinking coffee though it gave him acute indigestion; he
was too readily familiar with pretty girls who would allow liberties
or even beg for them. Graver accusations of this sort have been
brought against him. The story went that he was intimate with Hortense
de Beauharnais who was afterwards married to his brother Luis. Later
still, he was said to be intimate with his lovely sister, Pauline,
whose picture by Canova is well known. I have studied the whole
accusation with some care. It was founded on some letters of Pauline
which nobody seems to have seen, much less possess, but several have
heard of them and two have quoted titbits from them. From the whole of
Napoleon's subsequent conduct I feel certain that there is no truth in
the accusation. Pauline was simply a lovely, engaging, temperamental
woman, who was almost the only one of the family to repay the constant
kindnesses of Napoleon to his brothers and sisters with some
equivalent generosity. Before the Waterloo campaign she handed him
over her diamonds to defray some of his expenses, but time and again
he preaches to her in letters in such a way as to render the
accusation of intimacy absolutely incredible. That Napoleon's morals
were very loose no one would attempt to deny: but the graver
accusations should be attributed to his great position. We know of no
one who was so constantly kind--more even than kind--to all his
brothers and sisters.

Perhaps the most marked trait in his character from youth to age was
his love of books. When a youth at Brienne he annoyed the college
librarian by his incessant requests for books.  "When I was a
lieutenant of artillery," he told the royalties assembled at Erfurt,
"I cared little for society, but luckily I lodged near a learned and
obliging bookseller and spent my time reading books."

Napoleon never set out on a campaign without laying in a stock of
books, and Barbier, his librarian, tells us that these always included
standard works in history and literature. Even at Waterloo he had six
great cases of books which contained the Bible, Homer, Bossuet, his
favorite Ossian and all Voltaire.

At the crisis of his fate at Malmaison after Waterloo, Queen Hortense
visited him. "I don't understand the Emperor," she said; "instead of
coming to some decision about his departure, he's reading a novel."

Naturally enough he loved the people who had followed him with
passionate devotion and given their blood to his service. On his tomb
in Paris, the words can still be read that he himself wrote a century
ago:

"_Je veux que mes cendres rejposent aux bords de la Seine au milieu de
ce peuple Francois que_ _j'ai tant dime_." (I wish my ashes to rest
forever on the banks of the Seine in the midst of the French people I
have loved so well.)

And here in all state his mortal remains still rest as Foch said the
other day, "a perpetual encouragement and an inspiration forever."
Victor Hugo wrote his greatest odes in his honor; Beethoven dedicated
to him his Heroic Symphony; and so he passed, having enlarged our
conception of what a man can be and do.





TOLSTOI'S LAST DAYS


Till the appearance of Boulgakov's journal: "Tolstoi in the Last Year
of His Life," we knew little or nothing of what had driven the great
writer to leave his home at 82 years of age and wander out to die in
the little railway station of Astapova.

True, Tchertkov, his confidant and literary executor, has written a
book entitled "Tolstoi's Flight," but the author's manifest
partisanship prevented one from accepting all his statements.
Moreover, the story he told was too far-fetched, too improbable to be
immediately welcomed. We were asked to believe that Tolstoi's wife,
who had lived with him for 48 years and borne him a swarm of children,
suddenly became jealous of his chosen friend Tchertkov, made constant
rows with him first and then with her husband till she drove the old
writer from his home. The story seemed unreasonable, too preposterous
to be true.  But from the later work we get the t's crossed, so to
speak, and the dots on the i's.

Tolstoi's private secretary, Boulgakov, kept a journal and noted in it
everything that happened of any importance at Yasnaia Poliana,
particularly in the last year 1910 from June till that October
night when Tolstoi fled from his home only to perish miserably among
strangers a few days later.

The ground of the quarrel is given at length, though it does not
appear sufficient to justify the tragic outcome. It appears that
Tolstoi had confided his "Memoirs" from 1900 on to his friend
Tchertkov and Madame Tolstoi insisted on having them. Boulgakov
begins by speaking of Madame Tolstoi's hysteria and insane jealousy of
Tchertkov: "There were constant disputes," he says, "and terrible
scenes ever since Tchertkov had invited Tolstoi to pay him a visit and
had not included Madame Tolstoi in his invitation or at least had not
treated her with sufficient courtesy; had neglected to assure her, for
instance, that she would have a room entirely for herself."

As soon as Tolstoi returned to Yasnaia from Tchertkov's place, Madame
Tolstoi gave vent to her hysterical irritation against her husband.
Tolstoi did his best to calm her and sat up with her far into the
night and when he came away begged his daughter Alexandra "to be very
careful," adding, "it is impossible to be silent and very dangerous
to speak."

On the first day of July, Boulgakov tells us that the row continued: a
quarrel broke out between Madame Tolstoi and Tchertkov as to who
should keep the famous "Memoirs." Even the daughter Alexandra took
sides against her mother saying that if one trusted her with the
documents, she would certainly suppress whatever she did not like in
the text. Tolstoi was just as firmly opposed to confiding the text
to his wife. Boulgakov's comment is: "the atmosphere is troubled."
And it was more and more troubled from July to November.

In all literature there is no such story of insensate jealousy.
Madame Tolstoi is driving with Boulgakov on the 12th of July; "She
wept all the way," he tells us; "she is infinitely to be pitied: she
has begged me to get Tchertkov to give her the Mss. Memoirs; he can
copy them," she added, "and recopy them, but all the earlier Memoirs
are in my care; why should I not have these? Let him give them to me
and I will be friends with him."

The request seemed reasonable enough and Boulgakov went to Tchertkov
and told him what Madame Tolstoi had said; but met with a blank
refusal. When he informs Madame Tolstoi of the result of his mission,
she blames Tolstoi and at length declares that she will poison herself
or drown herself if he denies her prayer.

On the 14th of July, Tolstoi writes her a conciliatory letter
begging her not to torment herself; she has only done herself more
harm than anyone else, and he adds that he lies awake listening to
every sound that comes from her room, till night itself is only a
torture. Finally, he promises to do what she wishes.

Next day he sends his daughter Alexandra to Tchertkov to get back the
original Mss. Tchertkov and his friends copy out the Memoirs and
especially every passage that refers however remotely to Madame
Tolstoi and then hand the original Mss. back to her daughter. When
Alexandra returns with it, the mother throws herself upon it, tears it
open, and a son-in-law who happens to be present has to help Alexandra
or the wild creature would have torn up the Mss. in her mad
excitement.

Then Tolstoi determines to seal up the Memoirs and confides them for
safety to his bank.

On this Madame Tolstoi begs Tchertkov to pay her a visit again, while
Tolstoi writes him to take the greatest care and say nothing about the
Memoirs, nor even speak to Madame Tolstoi in private.

About the 19th of July, Tolstoi wrote the end of the "Fragments of a
Journal" which appeared in some papers. Tchertkov, it seemed, sent the
stuff to be published and Tolstoi left him the responsibility. While
he was writing about this to Tchertkov, Madame Tolstoi came in, and
seeing the letter in his hand, wanted to know if she could not copy
it. Why not send her copy to Tchertkov? Why give him the original?
Another scene and at length Tolstoi summed it all up by saying: "As
soon as Tchertkov comes in question she loses her common sense."

The doctors have to be sent for to calm the hysterical woman and at
length Tolstoi sends Boulgakov to Tchertkov to tell him not to come to
Yasnaia till Madame Tolstoi has won back to sanity: "Tell him that for
a time at least I must keep away from him though the absence hurts.
What else can I do: my wife's threats of suicide unman me!"

The doctors decide that Madame Tolstoi is suffering from paranoia and
so give the ill they cannot cure, a name.

On that day, the 22nd of July, Tolstoi made his will, secretly giving
all his works to the Russian public and naming his daughter
Alexandra as executrix. This was just what Madame Tolstoi most feared
and to cap all Tchertkov called at Yasnaia in spite of Tolstoi's
prohibition and sat with him for some time on the balcony of his
writing room. In the late afternoon everyone went to tea on the
terrace, even Madame Tolstoi. According to Boulgakov: "She was in a
terrible state of nervous excitement; she was rude and provocative to
everyone, especially to Tchertkov; it was so unpleasant that we all
drank our tea in hurried silence and separated as soon as possible."

Tolstoi's only remark was that it was necessary as the Gospel said to
love one's enemies and those who hate you. But he added sadly: "I am
far from that perfection."

In August, the situation went from bad to worse. After a "disagreeable
talk" with her husband on the first, Madame Tolstoi kept to her bed
the whole day of the second, and like a giant refreshed made an
awful scene on the evening of the third. Boulgakov assures us that she
called her husband all sorts of names, going beyond all limits of
decency, inventing insane accusations (_des choses folles_) to justify
her hatred of Tchertkov.

Suddenly she sees Tolstoi hurry away pale with horror, into his
bedroom, which he locks behind him and then into his workroom where he
locks the door leading into the drawing-room, barricading himself as
in a fortress.

A moment later his unhappy wife went from door to door begging for
admittance and asking for forgiveness: "Leo darling, I won't say it
any more!"

Tolstoi did not answer or open to her; but next day admits that he
thinks of going away: "It is impossible," he says, "to treat a great
many people as reasonable beings (and he waved his hand towards his
wife's apartment). One must regard them as children, that is, love
them, respect them, protect them but never put them on a level with
oneself, nor expect from them an understanding beyond their capacity.
The worst of it is that these grown-up children have no desire to
learn as real children have and no childish sincerity; they are
indifferent to argument, contemptuous of reason, disagreeably
self-centered. And how many of them we have about us!" he added. "I
want you to put all this down in my journal," he went on, and then
although he was all gray and bent, he climbed up a ladder and took
from a drawer, ostensibly filled with books, the Mss. of his Memoirs,
which he had hidden there from his wife.

A week later Boulgakov recalls a sentence of Tolstoi on Maupassant's
story entitled "Solitude"; "the fundamental idea," he says, "is true,
but not pushed far enough, not so far as Schopenhauer pushes the
thought when he says, 'in solitude one must understand the being who
is oneself, with whom one lives.' In Maupassant there is no such
self-analysis; his development was not complete; but in many persons
such development has not even begun: they are mere children even when
grown-up, even when advanced in years. . . ."

Madame Tolstoi kept on interrupting Tolstoi while he made these
remarks: evidently she did not agree with him on a single point.
Schopenhauer's idea that this abstract intelligence which is always
beside one and able to judge one's own idiosyncrasies as against
perfection, was God, the highest spiritual principle in Man; and this
was also the belief of Tolstoi, indeed the fundamental conviction of
his life and the base of all his ideas. Madame Tolstoi would not
accept this for a moment: to her husband's face she sneered at it as
an "_ingenieuse plaisanterie_" (ingenious pleasantry).

At this Tolstoi got up and went into his bedroom and when Boulgakov
followed him he said: "As a weak man, I went away; it is impossible to
talk on such a serious subject with my wife: she will not or cannot
think."

September is even worse than August. On the 14th, Boulgakov declares
that "she is absolutely insane!" ("tout _a fait folle_").

She shows him a passage in the earlier "Memoirs" "which explains,"
she says, "her insane jealousy of Tchertkov." Boulgakov won't read the
passage. "I respect, I love Tolstoi so profoundly," he says to her,
"that I would rather not read anything that might do him harm in my
eyes." Madame Tolstoi said she understood his sentiment.

On the 18th of September, there was a terrible scene with a chance
visitor: Madame Tolstoi horrified him with tales of Tchertkov so that
at length he fled from the house. On the 21st comes a letter to
Boulgakov from the daughter Alexandra who is paying a visit at
Kotchety with her father saying that at length Tolstoi has made up his
mind not to give in again to his wife. "_II ne pent plus tendre le dos
davantage_." On the 16th, Tolstoi wrote to Tchertkov that at last he
saw there must be a resolve not to yield to mere bully ing; but to do
one's duty before one's conscience and God: he adds, "I am going to do
this."

On the 22nd, Boulgakov goes to Yasnaia to await Tolstoi's arrival. He
says that Madame Tolstoi was extremely worked up, not only against
Tchertkov, but against her husband. She declared publicly that "she no
longer loved him, and that she regarded him as almost a stranger." She
awaited him, she said, "without any feeling of joy." And her meeting
with her husband was very cold. She hardly spoke to him and followed
him in silence to their apartment. A little later she returned and
said to her daughter Alexandra, "Your father wants you" and
disappeared into her own room. Alexandra and Boulgakov went to Tolstoi
who greeted them with the words: "Always the same; she is in a state
of extreme nervousness. Oh! the unhappy woman!"

On the anniversary of their marriage forty eight years before, Madame
Tolstoi put on an elegant white dress, but when Boulgakov
congratulated her she cried out: "Why congratulate an unhappy woman!"
and burst into tears.

Then his daughter makes a scene with Tolstoi because he yields to her
mother and the poor old man puts his head on his arms and sobs. The
daughter begs forgiveness and they cry in each other's arms.

A little later Tolstoi speaks freely to Boulgakov: "I ought to be
content with the fame I have won," he began, "but really I cannot
understand why everyone wishes to see in me a specially gifted
individual; I am just a man like all others, with all the ordinary
human weaknesses. And yet they won't accept my liking and esteem
simply, as that of one near and dear to them, but they are resolved to
set on my liking a special value!"

And then he gave Boulgakov a masterly letter to copy that he had
written to Grote, the brother of the famous Greek historian, a letter
of such youth and power and joy that it filled Boulgakov with
admiration.

Immediately afterwards Madame Tolstoi burst in like a whirlwind
screaming that her husband is determined to kill her, for he has hung
up a new portrait of Tchertkov and she is going to burn it, and a few
minutes later she comes back with "the portrait that she has torn into
shreds."

An hour later they are horrified by a shot in her room; they run to
her only to find that she has not hurt anything. "She missed," she
says.

Later more shots are heard and they find Madame Tolstoi has hit a
chest of drawers. A little later another outburst and Madame Tolstoi
declares that her daughter Alexandra must leave the house. Nothing
loath, the daughter goes bag and baggage to her own place. On the
29th, she returns for some things and her mother begs her to stay but
she refuses. Boulgakov recounts how kind Tolstoi is to his half-insane
wife: at dinner he presses her to take a liqueur and in the evening
persuades her to go to bed early saying: "Rest is the best cure for us
all."

Next day Madame Tolstoi talks kindly to Boulgakov; says that she has
noticed his delicacy and understands his reticence though she has
called him "the living post" whereupon Boulgakov replies that his
chief duty is to Tolstoi and that he will do his bidding at all costs,
even as a post-boy.

On the 3rd of October, Tolstoi has an attack of unconsciousness in
which he mutters incoherently. Then he passes into convulsions and
it takes five friends to hold him. All this time Madame Tolstoi held
her face against his feet sobbing and when Alexandra hurried to the
bedside, she said to her: "I suffer more than you: you only lose a
father; but I lose a husband and I am responsible for his death."

Yet as soon as Tolstoi has recovered, the scenes recommence, worse
even than before: "Has Tolstoi made a will?" If so, she wants
control of all his artistic work--everything.

At last Tolstoi writes to a peasant friend to ask him can he find him
one quiet room. No matter how small so that it is silent and warm; he
won't disturb him, he justs wants to rest; he will wire to him in an
assumed name.

At midnight on the 27th of October, Tolstoi, who was in bed, saw light
in his workroom and heard the rustling of papers. It was his wife who
had come to hunt for the supposed will. This was the last drop that
made the cup overflow; he went straight to his daughter and said: "I
am going away for good," and he said it with extraordinary fire and
resolution.

The daughter began to pack his clothes while Tolstoi wrote a last
letter to his wife: "My going will annoy you; I am sorry for that; but
I can't help it, my position here has become intolerable. I don't want
luxuries about me now I have come to the end, but solitude and peace.
I beg you to believe me and don't follow me even if you learn where I
am. Your coming would only worsen the situation without changing my
decision.

"I thank you for the forty-eight years of loyal and sweet
companionship that you have given me and I beg you to pardon me all my
faults as I now pardon yours. Take up your own life and don't be angry
with me.   LEO TOLSTOI."

This letter reminds me of Blake's fine verse:--

  "And throughout all Eternity
  I forgive you, you forgive me;
  As our dear Redeemer said:
  This the wine and this the bread."

To Alexandra, Tolstoi said he was going to his sister, Maria, in the
convent of Charmardino; he had always a great affection for this
sister though they disagreed in matters of religion. At half past five
in the morning, he left his home quietly and drove to the station.

The end came quickly. Tolstoi left his home on the 28th of October.
Next morning Boulgakov tells how he went to Yasnaia at 11 in the
morning and met on the stairs Alexandra, the daughter, and Madame
Tolstoi who had just come down.

"Where is Papa?" cried Madame Tolstoi.

"Gone away!" replied Alexandra.

"What? When? Where?" exclaimed Madame Tolstoi.

"Last night!"

"Impossible, dear Sacha--where?"

"I don't know where," replied Alexandra; "he gave me this letter for
you--"

Madame Tolstoi tore open the letter but could not read more than the
first line; she threw the letter on the table and ran away to her
room.

A few moments later one of the servants came running in to say Madame
Tolstoi had hurried into the park towards the lake. They all ran out
and found that Madame Tolstoi had flung herself into the water; they
saw her head go under but at once Boulgakov and Alexandra waded in and
with some difficulty drew her out and carried her into the house while
she complained that they should have left her to drown. As soon as she
had her clothes changed she sent off a telegram to the station: "Come
back at once, Sacha."

For hours afterwards she went on asserting that she would find
another, surer way to kill herself; but no one paid much attention
to her. Boulgakov adds that the servants as a rule did not like Madame
Tolstoi. Evidently Boulgakov doesn't like her; a day or two afterwards
Madame Tolstoi went about with the pillow of Tolstoi's bed in her
arms, nursing and talking to it: "Dear Leo, where is thy poor little
head now?" The next moment she burst out in imprecations of hate: "A
savage beast he is; no one could be so cruel: he went away on purpose
to kill me."

Boulgakov no doubt reads her rightly; he says she was inordinately
vain and proud of her position as Tolstoi's wife. Besides her
vanity, motives of self-interest and cupidity were also quite
manifest: she wanted the "Memoirs" not only for the honor, but also
for their money-value. She always wished to play the part of the good
genius of Tolstoi, his helpmate in every sense, and now with his
flight, her whole pose had come to grief. People would say: "You drove
him out of his home; he could not even live with you." Shame fell upon
her and this sense of disgrace was the cause of her tears, and her
anger and her passionate desire to get Tolstoi to return.

But of that there was no likelihood: hearing of his wife's futile
attempt to drown herself, he wrote to Alexandra: "If anyone has reason
to commit suicide, it is I, and not my wife."

Madame Tolstoi at length begs Boulgakov to go with her in pursuit of
Tolstoi and when he refuses she tries to get Tchertkov to come back
to her and forgive her and help her. But he refuses.

Telegrams begin to pour in; the Russian papers have got wind of
Tolstoi's flight; even the Paris and London press are inquisitive.
Fortunately, Dr. Berkenheim and a nurse arrive to take care of Madame
Tolstoi who has eaten nothing in the three days since Tolstoi left the
house and is now visibly weak and ill. When the doctor suggests
feeding her she threatens to throw herself on a knife or kill herself
in some other way, resolved to keep up the tragicomedy to the end.

When Brio, a correspondent of the Rousskoie-Slovo, called upon Madame
Tolstoi, she had already read articles condemning her in several
journals and had completely lost her head; before Brio there was a
terrible scene in which she poured out a flood of reproaches not only
against Tchertkov but also against her husband.

That same evening on the 1st of November came a telegram from
Tchertkov saying that Tolstoi had pneumonia; the next day a wire from
the Rousskoie-Slovo gave Yasnaia Tolstoi's address and at once Madame
Tolstoi, nurse, doctor and the children all went off to him at the
little roadside station at Astapova. But help came too late; on the
7th of November, Boulgakov heard from Tchertkov's wife that Tolstoi
was dead. . . .

The whole story, it seems to me, gives birth to two thoughts: first of
all, here perhaps is the first and best account of feminine jealousy
ever put in print. Shakespeare painting from his own experience
describes Othello's jealousy, but says little or nothing of
Cleopatra's when Antony marries, and very little of the mad jealousy
felt by Antony's wife when she learns that he has left her and gone
back to "that serpent of old Nile." But jealousy is the vice of the
woman and not of the man; long ago it should have been studied and
described by all the great poets; but they have all ignored it, meshed
in their own personalities. It now remains for some woman to depict
woman's chief passion; the best attempt so far is this description of
Sofia Tolstoi.

The second thought that occurs to me has been suggested by Tolstoi
himself when he comes all too late to realise that he should not have
given in to his wife's senseless unreason and bad temper. Good men are
punished for their goodness by ordinary mortals, punished incredibly
and beyond all endurance. If Tolstoi had spoken firmly to his wife in
June when her jealousy first showed itself, he might have lived a year
or two longer and given us some more great work. He should have
thought of his duty to the world at large and recalled Tennyson's
lines:

  "Death closes all, yet something ere the end,
  Some work of noble note may yet be done."

Fancy allowing such a vain, selfish, stupid, perverse creature as
Sofia Andreievna proved herself, to destroy Tolstoi and limit his gift
to humanity.




PART TWO

PLACES

GREAT CITIES OF THE WORLD


In the world's history there are scarcely more than half-a-dosen
cities whose fame and fate are known to everyone, whose mere names
convey to the unlearned an inspiration of that nobility which lingers
wherever great lives have been lived. Think of it! In ten thousand
years the myriad races of men have not been able to build more than
half-a-dozen habitations sanctified by self 'sacrifice, or glorified
by greatness, or made sweet by visions of loveliness to such a degree
that we must perforce cherish their names in our memory. Thousands of
thousands of cities have been built, however, with toil of hand and
strain of breath only to disappear and be forgotten, as transitory as
are the shadows which in summer flit across a breezy upland. "Many are
called but few chosen."

Yet Jerusalem is remembered. Even now, we can, in imagination,
reconstruct its Temple, and with speechless awe enter its Holy of
Holies, and silently gaze upon the Ark of the Covenant, to be prompted
by the thought that Gethsemane yonder is of more deathless memory
still, and the gray hill of Calvary of even deeper significance. Here
our race learned all that it knows of the conduct of life, and of the
solemnity of death; here we are, so to speak, at our mother's knees
once more, with childish voice repeating words of prayer.

Athens, too, we can never forget. In it we live again in the
youth-tide of humanity. Here we become warriors and artists, poets
and philosophers, without straining effort; here our dreams are
fulfilled, all our powers realised. On its Acropolis we still see
stately temples, and all around them fair statues, incorporating in
human form those ideals of love and wisdom and majesty which still
guide our aspirations. Here the old religion of law loses its
terror; the fallen veil reveals a fair humanity, and we give up our
tongue-tied adoration for words and looks of love. In Athens, life
opens before us, life and the joy of living. We have not yet forgotten
the boy's delight in rivalry and conquest, the keen pleasure of strife
for strife's sake, but we have come to recognize that life itself is a
perpetual struggle, whether it be the artist's struggle with his
material, or the statesman's strife with his surroundings, or the
saint's conflict with his own unworthiness. At length we realize that
living implies continual overcoming. And so we throw ourselves into
the world, and are orators, artists, poets, as the desire moves us,
attempting all things, and succeeding in all our endeavors. Behind us,
as we pass, we leave eloquent words of wisdom, statues of
astonishing perfection, poems of deathless beauty, deeds that can
never be forgotten; but, at last, we are brought face to face with the
hard lesson that of himself the individual, however gifted and how
ever powerful, is not omnipotent, and it is Rome that teaches us.

Rome--the very word brings with it a larger air as of corporate life,
and a sterner stress as of death faced for the fatherland. Here we
learn that living is not all enjoyment and achievement; here we find
again that "we win most in that we seem to fail." And so we spend our
lives, soaking the Nubian sands with our blood, or in dim German
forests battling with hordes of savages, or in wild British strands
seeking a landing, and lo! in death itself our life wins purpose and
significance. And so Rome is the city of our manhood; its passion is
ambition; its art the writing of history; its highest achievement the
federation of men in one citizenship of world-wide empire. Jerusalem
is, as it were, the mother of our childhood, and Athens the mistress
of our youth; but Rome is the wife of our maturer years, teaching us,
as she does, to sacrifice ourselves for our posterity, and to find
pleasure in the fulfillment of duty.

There are no cities quite like these three; none so assured as are
these of immortal renown. But after these three, and in a second rank,
there are a few others which humanity cannot forget, even if it would.
There is Constantinople, the city of lawless lust and savage cruelty;
the stones of it are blood-stained with purposeless murder; the waters
flowing by it are scared to haste by the deeds they witness there.
Constantinople will be remembered, as men remember, in their own
despite, the grimmest tale of giant and ogre over which they shuddered
in childhood. Besides, Constantinople is the grave of Athens; in St.
Sophia there still dwells the memory of her loveliness, and the
wavelets of the Sweet Waters whisper to each other her _requiem_.

Paris, too, is not likely to die, nor can it ever be forgotten. Here
we grew skeptical of duty and laughed, and the light laughter--echoing
hollow in the eternal silence--is called Voltaire. There is something
of Rousseau and Voltaire, of Panurge and Figaro, in every man, and
here is the city in which they lived their lives--and faced their
deaths.  And what deaths they all met! A sort of convulsion of
universal Nature, during which the foundations of the earth were
shaken, and the waters under the earth rose up to fill the vaults of
heaven. And all the while, the blood-rain fell in sheets, till the
earth shivered under its clammy mantle. But since the Revolution,
Paris has become the ideal city. Profiting by its revolutionary
experiences, France leads the world in social justice. It has no
unemployed, few multi-millionaires, and a love of the best in art,
literature and thought, such as no other country can claim. No! Paris
is not likely to be forgotten while men live upon this earth!

  And Vienna cannot be forgotten,
  The rose-red city half as old as time.

Paris draws strangers from London and New York and Kioto, but Vienna
draws Hungarians, Greeks, Rumanians, Russians, and Poles, and all the
Balkan peoples with an imperious attraction. Its Opera shows finer
music than Paris; the Burg Theater is at least as good as the _Comedie
Francaise_ for its repertoire includes Shakespeare and Goethe, and its
public library and museum are at least as interesting as anything to
be found in Paris. The _Literaten Cafe_ was a better meeting-place
than Poussets on the Grand Boulevard, for there one met the best
writers and thinkers, artists and musicians of a dozen different
nationalities.

The books and humorous papers, too, are just as good as the French,
and speech everywhere as free as in Paris and as witty. Oh! the golden
days of youth in gay Vienna!

It takes a thousand years and a hundred generations of men to build
such a great city and it is not to be destroyed by three ignorant
bald-pates in an hour! Sooner or later the "repairer of the ways"
shall come, as Isaiah called the Savior, and dear Vienna will again
know the old pulsing, passionate, colored life!

What shall be said of London and New York? I have written at great
length of London elsewhere, of its beauty, and fog and grime; but New
York, despite its tremendous natural advantages, is devoid of any
historical associations and noble memories; this omission makes life
hardly worth living there for the highly educated.

The man who reads and thinks lives at least as much in the past and in
the future as in the present. Life to him is not bounded by the walls
within which he dwells, nor confined to the affections and sorrows,
the cares and customs, of his individual life. "The heir of all the
ages" that have passed, he finds in history counsel, consolation, and
encouragement, such as the present does not yield; in the cellars of
the Time-home there lies waiting for his use goodly store of "the wine
that's meant for souls," and this wine has had time to clear itself of
the fiery spirit which, when it was new, concealed its finest flavor.
The educated man will not even attempt to slake his thirst with the
vintage of the day. The men who meet and jostle him in the street, the
men whose orders he obeys or to whom he gives commands, are usually
nothing more than acquaintances to him; "the persons of importance" in
the day are generally unimportant in his judgment. Why should he make
these his friends when he can choose the society of any of those who
in the past have lived noble and heroic lives? For he can make those
"shining ones" as present to him, can know them as intimately and love
them as dearly as if they now walked the streets beside him.

What society can be found today comparable to that which throngs the
streets of Old London--the London of Shakespeare and Elizabeth, of
Cromwell and Milton, of Chatham and Nelson, of Wordsworth and
Coleridge, of Carlyle and of Browning? Even now, after living but a
short time in London, we become aware that the spirits of these men
encompass us about; this is the very air they breathed, these skies
they gazed upon, these ways they trod; and the deeds they did, and the
words they spoke, live still and reveal their souls to us with such
reality of representment that we can easily conjure up their bodily
presence.

And so the historical cities of the world, the places where great men
have lived and labored, nay, even the roads along which they passed,
are invested with a secret and singular charm. But in a young city
like New York, a city devoid of lofty traditions, fancy has nothing to
feed on. The future even is intangible, a crowded buzzing hive in
which the shaping spirit of imagination cannot build for want of
material. This material exists only in the past, and so we understand
how all arts partake of the nature of a record, and are prophetic only
as the flower forecasts the fruit.

Thus it comes about that the educated man finds it almost impossible
to live in a new city. The better part of life is lacking there, and
no material wealth or comfort, no prospect of personal gain or
advantage, can ever make up for this hidden want. "Men shall not live
by bread alone"; the saying is as true today as it was when first
uttered nineteen centuries ago.




SEVILLE


Some travelers wander over the earth's surface for no other apparent
reason than to tell us afterwards of their discomforts and
disappointments.  They catch colds in St. Peter's and fleas in St.
Sophia, are ague-stricken at Thermopylae, and sea-sick off Trafalgar.
They have eyes only for shortcomings, and can never look at the sun
without cursing its spots. Was it not Cobden who said that when at
Athens he could not find the Ilyssus, as "a couple of washerwomen had
dammed up that classic stream?" A sneer is the one weapon with which
mediocrity can avenge itself upon everything beyond its ken. But,
after all, things ignoble and envious, and of evil nature, may safely
be left to their own Nemesis. Those who travel in order to find fault
are not rewarded as are those who go in quest of the beautiful. "Seek
and ye shall find;" and if sought in the right spirit, with reverence
and appreciation, loveliness is as easily found in this world of ours
as ugliness; kindness is as common as malevolence, wisdom as prevalent
as folly. It is Thackeray who compares the world to a mirror; if you
grin at it, it grins at you in turn; if you threaten it, it shakes a
menacing fist in your face by way of answer; and if you bend to kiss
it, its lips try to return your greeting.

Let us then be determined to see everything at its best, and we shall
not be disappointed in Seville. The very name has an inexplicable
charm for us. We do not know when or where we first heard it, or why
the mention of it should exercise a fascination for our fancy. But so
it is. In some strange way Seville reminds us of the first love-tale
we read and cried over without knowing why the tears came. It is so
beautiful that we love it, and its beauty is so fleeting that it moves
us to heavy sorrow. Is not the kiss of youth rounded by the sign of
age? "Seville" we murmur to ourselves, and forthwith the
myrtle-blossom is before us, and the scent of the almond in our
nostrils. The fields around it are blue with hyacinth and golden with
crocus. There it lies in its white loveliness, girdled with orange
groves, and seems, mider the moonlight, to sway to some mystic
measure of passionate desire; but it is lonely in its isolation, and
the hills about it are sad with the gray quivering olive-leaves. The
beauty of life and the desolation of death meet in this one word
"Seville."

For it is very beautiful, although its beauty is not easy to describe.
Regularity of feature it does not possess, nor majestic grandeur, nor
classic severity of grace. But the splendor of its coloring atones for
a thousand faults of form, and it continually startles our
indifference into delight by unexpected beauties where shyness and
passion seem to mingle. It is "a romance in stone"; its narrow streets
are more than modest, and the high houses with their barred windows
almost unapproachable; but suddenly through a doorway we catch a
glimpse of some patio, bathed in golden sunlight, with birds singing
on broad palm-leaves, as if in emulation of the melody made by the
falling spray of the center fountain. And the glimpse of light and
warmth and music charms us the more by reason of this contrast. We
pass on down the street and halt involuntarily before a shop without
doors or windows, a fruit-shop to its inmost recesses open to the
gaze, wherein a young mother is quietly nursing her baby, in utter
unconsciousness of the fact that in our days the hereditary fig-leaf
is usually of portentous size. The great dark eyes regard us without
curiosity, meditatively, and the picture is complete. The piles of
fruit around, the young mother, the simple duty and delight, something
of the old-world innocence in all this charms us, and we move on
wondering whether the love-poetry of Seville is more beautiful than
the household prose of its later life.

There is so much in it to love because there is such variety in its
expressiveness. You bend your steps to its cathedral, and look up the
Giralda tower, to where the delicate tracery seems to move in the
quivering sunlight, and, far above, is the blue dome of the sky. Out
of the warmth you pass through a doorway into the chill gloom of the
building, and at first your dazzled eyesight exaggerates the mystic
grandeur and solemnity of the lofty columns which stretch before you
towards unexplored solitudes, and unconsciously the voice is hushed,
and the footfall becomes inaudible. But scarcely have you yielded to
this influence when suddenly the organ peals forth, and you come to an
opening in the aisle, where from a side window the painted glass
throws bars of purple, and gold, and rose, athwart the green marble
floor; and the gloom of the place is lighted with the glow and glory
of passion.

Everyone remembers the story of how Mozart, when a youth, visited
Rome, and attended at St. Peter's in order to hear a celebrated
requiem which had never been published. On his return to his lodgings
the youthful genius sat down and wrote out from memory every note of
the music he had just heard. In the eighteenth century this feat was
looked upon as something almost miraculous, but today there are
hundreds of Germans, and perhaps some few Frenchmen and Englishmen,
who would not shrink from attempting a similar task. For example, at
the Cathedral of Seville a Miserere is now and then played, the score
of which is carefully guarded, and which, they say, has never yet been
duplicated, much less published, and yet one can obtain a copy of it,
transcribed by hand, without serious difficulty. Who, we wonder, was
the man who first listened to this music with such enthusiastic love
that each separate note burned itself into his memory so that he could
afterwards reproduce the score of it at will? So much is certain, that
he never won fame as Mozart did, or we should have heard of him. He
was one of that noble band whose names were writ on water, and who yet
did work which the world would not willingly lose.

What a heartless, merciless coquette Fame is! She throws herself into
one man's arms almost without being solicited, and on his forehead
presses the kiss of immortality, careless of gratitude; and yet shows
herself coy and cold to another who is eager to buy her smallest
favor at the cost of half his life. Thank goodness, the vast majority
of feminine beauties are not of so nice a fancy. At least, Spanish
beauties do not push discrimination to so ultra-fine a point. Perhaps
their instinct tells them that when they yield they are altogether
irresistible. At any rate, one glance from their eyes, a sort of
promissory note without a signature, is not easily forgotten.

Let us return to our Cathedral at Seville. We go there one spring
afternoon, in order to be present at a ceremony, the like of which
cannot be seen in any other city on earth. For on this one day in each
year it is the custom at Seville Cathedral for young boys to dance
before the altar to the music of stringed instruments, much as David,
we are told, danced before the Lord twenty-seven centuries ago. On the
occasion we speak of, the ceremony took place in a side chapel, as
part of the Cathedral was undergoing repairs; but this which we at
first looked upon as a subject for regret we afterwards regarded as a
piece of singular good fortune. For the ceremony was carried out in
all detail under the eyes of an officiating Archbishop, and yet the
stage was so small and so near us that we could follow easily every
movement of the dancers. They were eight in number, apparently choir
boys of from ten to fourteen years of age. They were all dressed in
doublets of gay colors, and their hose and shoes seemed to be of white
satin. It is said that their costumes are centuries old; but if so, we
can only say they have worn marvelously well. In two rows the boys
stood facing each other, and as the music changed from wailing sadness
to a strain of grave rejoicing, forthwith the boys began to move in
time to it, changing places and swinging round, all the while marking
its measure with the castanets in their upraised hands. The spectacle
was strangely impressive. The few tapers on the altar before us, the
half-dozen candles which served to light up the scores of the
musicians, threw scarcely any light into the dim aisles on our left;
and the gloom and grandeur of the lofty pillars, whose capitals were
lost in the night overhead, served as fitting background to the
picture whereon our eyes were fixed. Such a miniature representation
of this world of ours we have never looked upon. Here in the light we
mortals move for a brief moment to the music of life and love, but all
around us is the night, immense and unfathomable, with shadows
hastening to embrace us, and a silence which rebukes our feeble
rejoicings.

But the quickened sense of man's mortality exercises anything but a
depressing effect upon some natures. Let us eat, drink and be merry,
for tomorrow we die, is but the corollary of the monition, "Work, for
the night cometh wherein no man can work," which has ever been the
motto of the northern races. And so we leave the Cathedral on this
second day of carnival, minded to enjoy ourselves. But in spite of
brave resolutions our mirth is at first a trifle forced. Of course, we
buy packets of gilt paper cut into small squares, and deluge every
pretty girl who passes us with the golden spray that sits so well upon
the black tresses. As we pass under a balcony our gifts are repaid
with interest, and as we look up we see merry girl faces and hear
ringing laughter--better sounds and sights, we think, than those in
the Cathedral yonder. And so our hearts beat quicker, and the spirit
of enjoyment enters into us, and we laugh and dance, pelt and are
pelted through the streets, while the laughter overhead grows more and
more musical, and the fun faster and faster.

Suddenly we find ourselves before our hotel, and all at once remember
that we are hungry. What is that? From the dining-room of the hotel
come strains of music, dance-music, too, played by many hands, and
among the instruments riot two or three violins. In our present mood
nothing could suit us better than this. Hastily we change our dress,
and five minutes later enter the dining-room, to find there a band of
young students, all dressed in ancient costumes, who on these evenings
of carnival turn their musical talents to account. Their dress is
sober in hue, but strikingly picturesque. Black doublet and hose,
shoes with steel buckles, short black cloaks and broad-brimmed black
hats, each adorned with a single white feather; this is what we
remember of their vestments, and each one wears a plain rapier by his
side. They are some twenty in number, and they play with all their
hearts, finding each of their efforts rewarded by enthusiastic
applause. But alas! their repertoire seemingly contains nothing but
well-known French, and German, and Italian airs, and it requires some
pressing to get their leader to give the signal for a genuinely
Spanish tune. And when it does come we find it is but the
accompaniment to a dance. Two of the student band leave their
instruments, and suddenly pose opposite each other with the castanets
in their hands. Then they dance and we all watch them with interest.
The steps are similar to those of a Scotch reel, and the hoarse shouts
of the Highlanders are here represented by the Holeh! Holeh! which at
intervals break from the Spanish spectators. As the dinner draws to an
end, a pair of students go about among the company with tamborines,
which are soon filled with large silver dollars. Well pleased at the
harvest, their leader makes a bow to the world at large, and assures
"the noble gentlemen and gentlewomen" present that he and his comrades
will be glad to play for us the whole night long.

And so the _table d'hote_ breaks up tumultuously and all the younger
ones press into the reading-room to clear away the tables and chairs
and prepare to finish fittingly what has been so well begun. Then we
dance to the music of violins and guitars and tamborines, while the
castanets mark the measure, till the stars above the patio come out to
watch us, and grow larger and larger eyed in wonder at our amusement.
And then, as we pause for breath, and go out beneath the palm-leaves
of the patio for coolness, we see the queen of night, with silver
radiance clad, moving across the blue floor of heaven, and in spite of
sorrow and in scorn of death

  "We look into the future far as human eye can see,
  See the rapture of the world and all the wonders that will be."

And so, as I began to know Seville, I came to love it more and more,
and to find in its customs and courtesies things characteristic of
Spanish sentiment which were not to be found elsewhere in the
Peninsula. After all, the Spaniards themselves are the best judges;
Andalusia is the heart of Spain, the province most courted by the sun,
best loved of poets. Its wine is better than the wine of other
districts, and its women are fairer than those which are to be found
north of Cordova. And so I came to love the province and its capital.

  "Give us wine and women, mirth and laughter;
  Sermons and soda-water the day after."

Some of the customs which still obtain in Seville strike the foreign
taste as peculiar. For example, you meet a pretty girl in the street,
and, instead of passing her by with one admiring glance, you pause and
say, so as to be heard, "Que monisima es!" "How delicately beautiful
she is!" or "What perfect eyes!" or "What divine feet!" Do not be
afraid; your beauty will acknowledge the compliment either by a
graceful inclination of the head, or, better still, by the quick blush
which suffuses neck and forehead with crimson, or by one glance of the
dark eyes. Happy land! in which a compliment constitutes a claim to
kindness, and admiration is one of the means by which love is won! To
English ears the story of how Walter Raleigh gained Queen Elizabeth's
favor seems somewhat far-fetched. Who, in our days, would think of
throwing his cloak over a puddle in order that a queen might cross it
dry-foot? But in Andalusia this custom still prevails. Here it is not
even necessary to await the opportunity of a puddle. Throw your
overcoat boldly down before any pretty girl, and stand beside it with
bowed head; of a surety you will not miss your reward. Quietly she
will bow in recognition of your compliment, and her eyes in eloquent
fashion will thank you for your courtesy. And so the first step
towards acquaintanceship is taken, and the man is a fool who cannot
find a way further to improve his opportunity.

The Andalusian type of woman's beauty is all but perfect. Generally
the loveliness consists chiefly in coloring. Again and again you will
find perfect complexions and magnificent eyes. Not infrequently,
however, the features, too, are fine, and then the beauty of the face
becomes almost divine. It is scarcely necessary to say anything about
the figures of Andalusian women. In this respect they surpass all
others; such a mixture of voluptuousness and delicacy is hardly to be
found in any other part of the world. Rounded limbs and graceful
suppleness of movement; small and exquisitely formed hands and feet:
these beauties they possess in perfection. It may be doubted, however,
whether their minds are as perfect as their bodies. But they have a
good share of natural wit and mother shrewdness combined with an
absolute simplicity and directness of feeling. They like or dislike,
at first sight, so ingenuously that one is apt to underrate the
strength of their sympathies. One of their favorite _pateneras_ will
best show our meaning:

  "'Give me thy love or kill me,'
    Say the dark eyes,
  'Give me thy love or I shall die,'
    Say the eyes of blue."

And if hazel eyes are commoner in Andalusia than eyes of violet, these
latter are to be found there not infrequently.

_Ay de mi_! What would this world be worth without woman's love! Here
in a room I sit, and hear, as in a dream, men and women talking. They
talk and talk and talk, and I hear every word, and yet cannot catch
the sense of what they say. But suddenly I hear a footfall on the
stairs, and then a form enters--I need not look to know who it is--all
my blood rushes to my face, and my pulses beat as if they would burst.
"Fairer than the evening air," fairer than any poet's simile; the
place whereon her feet rest is holy ground. And then she looks at me,
perhaps shyly glancing, perhaps with truthful earnestness; but however
it may be, I catch the kindness of it, and thank her from my heart's
core. And suddenly, in the sunshine of her regard, all things grow
beautiful and worthful to me; the chitchat of the company is charming,
and their mirth musical, and I sit still for fear of breaking the
spell, and pray that she may move, and so afford me a new delight, or
remain as she is, and so hold my soul in a snare. Great God! When they
talk of woman's constancy do they ever know what the faithfulness of
man sometimes means?

  "For all her passions matched with mine
  Are as moonlight unto sunlight and as water unto wine."

I hear the rustling of her dress, and my blood is in my face; she
stops beside me, and my heart holds its beating; I close my eyes and
see her, see how the little waves of hair kiss the white slimness of
her neck, and how the eyelids kiss her eyes; see her head bend, and
the heaving of her bosom. Each drop of my blood is a mirror of her
loveliness. Without her my life is a dream. But were I dead and
buried, I should wake to life again as soon as her footfall startled
my solitude. Ah! Seville! What strength is to a man and youth to a
woman, that thou art among the cities of this world! Of the fair
moonlight the forms of thy daughters are made, and their eyes of the
depth of thy heaven.

And so it is but fitting that before we leave Seville we should go on
to the flat roof of the hotel at night and look out over the city.
There it sleeps in the moonlight beneath us, and beside it the
Guadalquiver sweeps past to the sea. On one side is the delicate white
tracery of a Moorish tower, and on the other the green foliage of a
garden, rich in myrtle, and orange and palm trees.  And hark! from the
street beneath us the notes of a guitar rise, and the music of a man's
voice, and then suddenly we catch a glimpse of a half-opened casement
and of a hand which holds back the curtain. And so we say to
ourselves, Seville is the city of romance and of love, and the
extravagances of passion are the realities of its life.




TRAVEL IN FRANCE


Men have hardly learned the A B C of the art of living; they have only
just begun to find out that change, or contrast, is a law of it as of
all the other arts. For many years I used to spend eight or ten months
working in grimy, foggy London and then go for a few weeks to the
Swiss mountains, or the Riviera, to Khartoum or Biskra. And before
the change had begun to take effect, before the sun had had time to
dry the skin or tune up the nerves, I was back again in London,
fitting anew my neck to the yoke. When a horse is fagged and stale
with overwork we take his shoes off and turn him out to grass and
idleness for three or four months; if we prescribed with the same
large-heartedness for ourselves, we should live longer and do better
work. Rest and change are Nature's doctors; change of air, change of
scene, change of language and custom refresh the spirit and renew
one's youth.

Unlike the great majority of tourists and travelers, I have always
preferred Spain to Italy. Italy, it seems to me, has lost all her
peculiar characteristics: one has to go into the Apennines or the
wilds beyond Salerno before one can find among the peasantry primitive
beliefs or old pagan customs. The veneer of French civilisation is
smeared over Italy like the brown sauce with which a bad cook
disguises the native flavor of a dish. Cheap steamers turn the Grand
Canal into an evil-smelling ditch, and the modern quarters of Rome and
Florence are bad imitations of Hausmannized Paris.

But Spain is still Spain; in Valladolid or Burgos, Toledo or Valencia,
one can still live in the storied past: everywhere the old Spain crops
up like granite rocks showing here and there through sparse herbage.
And how quickening it is to catch even a glimpse of a national spirit
quite unlike our own--a Sancho Panza who, at any moment, may surprise
us by acting Quixote to the life! How we have degraded the noble
idealist with our contemptuous adjective "quixotic"!

The railroad and ocean liner have made change easy and travel a
delight and wonder. Turner was the first, I suppose, to depict the
poetry and mystery of the railroad; but to me, a wanderer from
boyhood, the shining straight way has always been at once a magic
symbol and an inspiration. "Aladdin's Carpet" I call it to myself,
with a shuddering sense of expectancy and delight; at any moment I can
close my eyes and hear the _chunk-chunk, chunketty-chunk_ of the blood
beating in the great heart of the monster who will carry me to the
home of Heart's Desire.

The great railways of the world are to me beneficent Titans who have
beauty and health and wonder as gifts and are always prodigal of
bounty. Think of the Canadian Pacific, whose imperious purpose
holds arrow-straight from Quebec to Vancouver, through untrodden
pine-forests, over unchristened lakes and unchartered prairies and
heaped-up mountain-ranges to the great ocean.where West and East are
one. Think of the New York Central which follows the Hudson quietly
for miles and miles and then flings itself coil on coil over the
Adirondacks to dart, straight as a serpent striking, to Chicago, a
thousand miles away. Or recall for a moment the Cape Railway, like a
homing-pigeon circling round Table Mountain before it finds its line
due north to the Victoria Falls, the first breathing-place on its
breathless flight of seven thousand miles to the Mediterranean Sea.

But my favorite among railways is the Paris-Lyons-Mediterranee, or
the P.L.M., as its admirers love to call it. It is a marvelous
journey, not through France merely, but across the pictured centuries.
The P.L.M. will whirl you through the dim backward of time to the days
before Christ: it is the first stage to Girgenti and the Greek theater
at Taormina, and to Athens itself and its Acropolis. And once there,
you can turn aside, if you will, from the "altar to the immortal gods"
to a nobler but unpretentious shrine, a rough, whale-shaped rock lying
athwart the road to the Agora, which, as Mars Hill, is consecrate to
still more sacred memories.

Or if you please, you need not plunge so deep in time, or so far to
the East; you can stop in the Rome of the Caesars if you say the word,
or at Florence of the Medici, or study the beginning of the pictorial
art and the art of mosaics in Siena or Orvieto.

You may even take another way altogether, and cleaving to the P.L.M.,
go down the long trail through Dijon and Avignon to where in Provence
the land bares its loveliness to the waters and dream yourself into
the fourteenth century with master works of classic civilisation all
about you, and on every hand, too, examples of the modern spirit and
its wonderworking magic.

Here at the Frejus you will find a Roman amphitheater and there the
remains of a Roman villa dating from the first Caesars, and while you
watch the little green lizards darting about the ruined walls, and
crush the myrtle and rosemary under your footsteps, you are disturbed
by the whirr of an airplane and are fain to follow an aviator a
thousand feet above you in his flight towards the Italian frontier.

Wonderful as it is, the journey across space has never seemed to me so
enthralling as the flight across time. Who can travel from Paris
southward without remembering that in the first couple of hours he
will pass through Chartres, with its great cathedral kneeling in its
robe of stone?

Who can help thinking of the many pious souls who took the stubborn
rock and transformed it into a prayer which moves us six hundred years
afterwards as it moved those who first fashioned it? And the artists
are just as living for us as the priestly architects; there is the
great choir they chiseled, with its world of figures--princes and
monks and saints; fair women and wondering children and monsters of
humorous deformity. A city of creatures, all born of loving hands,
modeling at leisure in sunny afternoons.

The two spires set me dreaming; they are so unlike: the one straight
and severe, the other all crocheted. What a subtle attraction there is
in the unexpected; it is one of the great secrets of all art, the
discord in music that turns melody into harmony, the irregular accent
or caesura that helps to transform verse into poetry.

I find the unexpected again and again in this high church, which lives
for me as a noble and gracious personality; some Newman, with a wider,
subtler artistry, and a far more intense and saintly devotion of
spirit than the framer of the great Apologia. To know and love the
maker of Chartres is in itself no mean religion.

The very names of the half-forgotten towns we .pass through hold a
strange fascination. "Sens," I hear the porters cry; "Sens," and I
suddenly recall the great church of St. Etienne, which was built by
that William of Sens who designed the choir of Canterbury in imitation
of the choir here. This church, in which in 1234 St. Louis married
Margaret of Provence, was built in the early part of the twelfth
century to take the place of an older church which, it is said, was
constructed in the third century by St. Savinien on the foundation of
a still older pagan temple. And so reverence "that angel of the world"
leads one back and back to where the mists of time veil the past in
oblivion. I remember Sens very well now: here are to be seen the
sacerdotal vestments of St. Thomas a Becket, who, in 1170, left his
favorite monastery of St. Colombe on the outskirts of Sens to go to
far-off Canterbury to meet his death.

Veselay and Avallon and Chinon are a little to the south (how the
names sing themselves to music!) and then one comes to Dijon, the
jewel-casket of Burgundian life, with its unforgettable Chartreuse
and the magnificent monuments to Death.

Here at Dijon one runs into French sunshine and French gayety and love
of life; here, as the vintagers say, you can taste through the wine
the perfume of the grape and the exquisite, healthful savor of that
amber French earth.

And then the marvelous land and sea views all the way from St. Raphael
through the Esterel to Cannes. I don't like Cannes; the conventional
British element dominates the whole place: golf clubs and bridge
drives are out of place in hot white sunshine; but St. Juan pleases
me, where Napoleon landed from Elba, and alone and unfriended
overthrew a monarchy and conquered twenty millions of people. Then
Antibes, with Vauban's old toy fort and the long tongue of land
immortalized by Alexandre Dumas' dream of a permanent home and
hospital for broken men of letters.

Old women still relate how the great mulatto used to drive bareheaded
in a carriage filled with _dames de Paris_, who startled even the
life-loving Southerners with mad _cancans_. Dumas took his dream
seriously, got together a million or so of francs, and built his new
Hotel des Invalides at the end of the Cape, almost surrounded by the
sea; but on his return to Paris he forgot all about his great scheme
which fell to oblivion, and his home for old writers has since become
the Hotel du Cap d' Antibes. Thus our dreams take shape as realities,
and are so different from our imaginings that we can hardly recognize
them--some unknown divinity rough-hews our ends....

"Nice, Nice, Nice!" The clanging ceases. After a bath and change, the
Promenade des Anglais and the marvelous Baie des Anges; the blue sea
laughing in the sunshine; the sky like a blue bubble above, luminous
towards the horizon, resting lightly on the waters; the clean, clear
air; the mountains in the distance; about us palms and umbrella
pines--the livery of the South,,,.




GRANADA AND THE ALHAMBRA


The city of Granada is assured of enduring remembrance. There it
lies, like a sea-shell, its cup-like vega fringed with mountains; and
whoever listens intently may still hear sweet, faint music. Music,
with a theme of saddest thought singing the tragic downfall of a great
race; music that now wails over fratricidal strife, and now grows wild
with shameful memories of defeat and dishonor, and anon dies away
into sighings of heartbroken regret. For these streets of Granada have
witnessed strange sights. Once the capital of the Moorish empire in
Spain, an empire which at one time extended over more than half the
Peninsula, Granada was doomed to fall because its king would war with
his own son while the invading army of Christians was encamped under
its very walls. Disunion brought disaster, and the empire of the
Moors, which had endured for 700 years, was swept away by the last,
highest wave of Catholic Christian fanaticism, while, had it resisted
this one shock, it might have survived forever.

But this was not to be. As night follows day, so suffering follows
sin, and these Moors, we may be sure, reaped just what they had sown.
And yet we regret their downfall and their disappearance from the
stage of human history most keenly when we look upon the fair remains
of the buildings they erected. Sometimes, indeed, our admiration
of their high artistry leads us almost to question the justice of
their doom. These artists, we say, these lovers of the beautiful, were
thrust out of their possessions by the brute force of mail-clad
barbarians, and in their defeat intolerance triumphed, for the
Christians brought with them the Inquisition, and the Jews, whom the
Moors had always favored, were exiled in their turn by the followers
of Christ. Never did history spin a more tangled web; never was it
harder to see that "right is always in the long run might"--a sort of
higher power of the same symbol--than when the tolerant,
pleasure-loving, gifted Moors were beaten and driven out of their
beautiful homes by the intolerant, ascetic, unlearned fanatics of that
most Christian monarch, Ferdinand of Castile. Is it not enough to
make us question eternal justice, to remember this one fact that the
Moors built the Alhambra, and their Spanish conquerors established the
Inquisition? It would almost seem as if the intolerance of hatred had
its uses in the economy of God. But we must remember that the Alhambra
still survives for our inspiration; that the work has outlived the
workmen. On a hill, lifted like a pearl brooch above the fair breast
of the city, the Alhambra can still be seen and loved.

Let me try to describe it. And first of all let me say that the
natural beauty of its position and surroundings is quite equal to that
of Constantinople or of Athens.

The city of Granada itself, built on four hills, in the base, so to
speak, of the shell, looks down from an eminence of some two thousand
feet upon these orchards and garden-like farms. And every house in the
city had its fountain of high-springing water in the open courtyard,
and in every street the murmurous tinkle of a hundred underground
rivulets did much to refresh the senses wearied by the glow of the
southern sun. High above the city, however, is a mountain ridge, which
springs tongue-like from still higher eminences, and the precipitous
sides of this ridge fall sheer to the Daro on one side, and in a long
slope to the Xenil on the other. It may be mentioned here as a curious
fact that the Xenil is the only brook in the world which ebbs and
flows like the tide of the sea. And on this ridge the Moors built the
Alhambra, and on the mountain back which rises above it they
constructed the summer palace of their Khalifs in a maze of gardens.
For comfort and beauty combined, no building on earth has ever equaled
the Alhambra. In its planning and constructing, these two objects were
kept steadily in view. We find that the Moors knew what luxurious
comfort was, as well as the Romans of the later empire, when, under
the Alhambra, we pass through immense underground bathrooms of white
marble with hot and cold water-pipes still leading into them, and
learn that this suite of rooms is supposed to have been the Khalifs
and this other the bathing apartments of the women of his household.
But comfort alone, however complete and however luxurious, does not
satisfy the souls of men, and these Moors were men in a very high
sense of the word. Let us go up again into the Alhambra, and enter any
of its numberless courts or rooms. Here, for instance, is a court open
to the air, barely fifty yards long by twenty wide; let us enter it,
and see what the Moors did with the space.

Down the center of it, forty yards in length, and perhaps four in
breadth, they constructed an immense marble bath, the water in it
being perpetually drained away and perpetually renewed. At either
end of it a fountain rises into the air. On either side of the long
bath runs a hedge of myrtle about five feet in height, and perhaps six
feet in breadth, perfectly trimmed. At the corners of the hedge
were planted orange and almond-trees--now, alas! destroyed--which
lent natural color and fragrance to the place. But what shall be said
of the surrounding buildings! No pen can picture their exceeding
loveliness. There, opposite to us, is a roof resplendent with blue
and white rounded tiles, and from the middle of it springs a dome of
exquisite proportions, gorgeous in the same colors. On all sides of
the space are marble pillars of fairylike elegance, Ionic pillars one
might call them, with their simple capitals, did not their number and
lightness bespeak a luxurious delicacy which surpasses that once
known in Corinth. And these pillars, which support the first
overhanging story of the surrounding buildings, form a sort of
cloister walk into which we now pass. Under our feet there is a white
marble pavement, the joinings of which are even now, after the lapse
of six centuries, scarcely visible. On our right the walls of the
building are so ornamented that the longer we gaze upon it the more
we admire it. For about four feet from the ground it is tiled. These
tiles are small and oblong, of every color under the sun, and possess
an unapproached luster of glaze. Here, for instance, is a seemingly
brown tile which yet shimmers with all the colors of the rainbow as we
change our point of view. The arrangement is simple in the extreme,
and yet the tiles of brown and green and yellow harmonic perfectly.
Immediately above this tiling commences stucco work in strange
geometrical patterns, so cunningly devised that we find extreme grace
where one might well have expected angular rigidity.

Everywhere in this stucco work, texts of the Koran are introduced, and
the center of many of these geometrical figures is formed of a shield
across which, in Arabic, is written "God alone is Conqueror." Above
this thin stucco, flung like a lace veil upon the walls, the roof
arches, and the arch is rounded with curious stucco work, in
multitudinous copes, each cope gilded or painted so that the effect of
great height is enhanced by the gradations of the coloring. And from
the gold and blue arch of the roof the eye falls again on the
cream-colored, Iace-like ornamentation of the higher wall and then
lingers on the bright lower tiles and finds in each a new delight.
There is nothing for it but to pass again between the columns on our
left, and look out upon the hedge-rows and water, and up to the blue
dome of sky. But lo! a new surprise awaits us! As we gaze upon the
water in the bath we see what we had not observed before: that the
storied building behind us is mirrored in the translucent water at our
feet. We pass to the other end of the bath, and there we see the
mirage repeated.

The colonnade supporting the rounded roof, the tiled roof itself, the
dome which springs from it, are all to be seen now in the water before
us, perfectly reproduced in form and in color as in an immense crystal
glass. In the whole history of artistic work we only remember one
other instance where, as in this case, chance seems to have
perfected, while outdoing, man's high endeavor. The famous Medicean
tomb in Florence was designed and made by Michelangelo; on either side
the great artist placed a figure: here the gigantic form of a sleeping
woman representing Night, the night of death; there the figure of a
young man commonly supposed to represent Day, but, perchance, meant to
symbolize the Resurrection, or the life after death. This figure of
Life is strangely interesting.  The face is perfectly modeled save the
forehead, which is still left rough and projecting. Thus it catches
the light, leaving the rest of the face in darkness, and when looking
at it it seems to us as if the young man were straining forward to
catch a glimpse of a rising sun, the light of which seems to shine
upon his forehead. It is supposed that Michelangelo left the forehead
unchiseled simply because this effect of chance was better than
anything his skill could produce. In like manner the Moor was favored
who designed the court we have endeavored to describe.

But this is not the only court of the Alhambra of surpassing beauty.
There are several more famous than this, and rightly. Of all,
perhaps, "The Court of the Lions" is the most perfect. Here we have
only space to say that it takes its name from a central fountain which
is surrounded and supported by twelve marble lions. It reproduces the
general architectural features we have already sketched, as, indeed,
do all the halls and courts still to be seen in the Alhambra, and it
is preferred to "The Hall of the Ambassadors," for example, only
because it is in a slightly better state of preservation. The Alhambra
has suffered little from time, but much from the vandalism of
successive generations of ignorant or malevolent owners. In this room,
for instance, the stucco work of the walls was covered with plaster by
order of the Most Christian Queen Isabella, and this plaster was
adorned according to her order with frescoes of dubious beauty. The
ornamentation of another room was defaced by the fires lighted in it
by French soldiery. And so on.

Had we our choice today we should prefer an uninjured Acropolis to all
the deeds of all the Turks who ever lived. It is hard sometimes to
reconcile an eternal Providence with the fact that man can destroy
creations a thousand times more worthful than his own miserable being.

After one has visited the Alhambra many times and lived with its
loveliness day by day, one comes to understand the architecture, and
by means of it to know the architects. This is the supreme reward of
reverential study of any work of art, that at length we come to
realize not only the beauty of the creation, but also the desires and
aspirations, nay, the very thoughts and character, of the artists. So
our outlook upon life is widened and our reverence for humanity
increased by an intimate personal knowledge of the greatest men who
have lived and labored upon this earth of ours. We then learn that we
have inherited not merely fifty or sixty fleeting years with their
burden of cares and pains, of trivial toil and insignificant
accomplishment, but also, as Goethe so well says, "the whole of time."
The past is unfolded before us, and its history reveals itself to us,
page by page, in measure as we come to know and love the chosen
spirits who have, in very truth, created it. Period by period it comes
before us, and after studying two or three of these we are astonished
to find in them great differences, and then numberless points of
resemblance which delight us with hints of a plan running through all
creation, suggestions of a future that shall include the glory of all
the past.

  "For I doubt not through the ages one increasing purpose runs,
  And the thoughts of men are widened by the process of the suns."

What one civilisation fails in, the succeeding one accomplishes, and,
as story upon story of the temple of human life arises, we see how the
faults are corrected, the shortcomings made good, and our admiration
of the builders turns at length into sacred awe of the unknown Creator
who has used our heroes and priests, artists and thinkers, the noblest
of the sons of men, as instruments. Thus we catch

  "Hints of the proper craft,
  Tricks of the soul's true play."

and find balm for all wounds, satisfaction of ail injustice, in the
assurance that the future must compensate for the present.

In the course of his apprenticeship, the art student learns at least
one lesson of appalling severity. When studying a civilisation
through its art, his first hours are hours of hope and delight.
Plainly he sees how the earliest generation of artists tried, with
strain of soul, to express itself, and succeeded in some degree. Then
comes another generation, taught by the first, who do more and do it
more easily; and then, at length, a period arrives when the artists,
still conscious of their high mission, still upborne by the
measureless importance of their message, are enabled to deliver
themselves completely, and thus speak to the soul of men in a language
not to be misunderstood.

But alas! scarcely has this peak of perfection been attained before
the descent begins. On the heels of the great generation tread men who
have learned the language, but who know nothing of the purpose to
which their forerunners used it. The work being done, these late
comers fall straightway in love with the tools, and delight
themselves by showing skill in the use of the instruments.

So art degenerates; the hollowness of its effects mocks our longing,
and hour by hour we see the inevitable end drawing nearer. At last the
artist becomes a mere craftsman; his pictures are portraits of
"persons of importance" painted to order, and paid for with gold; his
buildings are mere fabrics in which judges sit or lawmakers assemble
shielded from the elements; his plays are puerile adaptations, or
broad farces to which the idle crowd for the distraction of their own
vapidity. Worst of all, if the time be the twentieth century, one sees
newspapers ousting books, and these dare to confess themselves to be
what they are: mere records of passing events, mirrors in which the
kaleidoscopic puerilities, vanities, and sensualities of the hour are
reflected.

This, the chief lesson of life, the most dreadfully important lesson
for all of us, is taught pointedly by the Alhambra. As students of the
Moorish civilization in Spain, we must go back a little and visit the
mosque of Cordova. The Christians have now built a cathedral in it,
but that does not concern our purpose for the moment. The great mosque
is still to be seen and can still be studied by whoever wills. And
what do we find in it?

In the first place, it is of vast extent; built, as it were, to hold a
nation of worshipers; and secondly, to speak of nothing else, we are
on entering it at once struck by the solidity of the structure and
by the multitude of pillars which support the enormous roof. The
builders seem to rise from their graves and say to us, "See, we
intended this House of God to endure, and so we founded it deep in the
earth, and constructed it of the best materials. We were never weary
in His service, and so where one column might have sufficed, we placed
ten or a dozen, lavish of our toil, joyful in a sacred labor which was
praise."

And mark it well, these pillars supporting the mosque at Cordova are
not the delicate ones we saw in the Alhambra, overloaded with
profusion or ornament. No! These are sturdy columns on broad bases,
not easily to be displaced, and with simplest, broadest capitals not
to be denied their burden. And from their rough-hewn strength and from
their multitude we come to understand the spirit and the temper of the
armies of Moors, servants of the Prophet of God, who overran Spain in
the eighth century. As their artists erected this temple, so their
warriors and statesmen built the Moorish empire in the Peninsula, with
lavish waste of toil and lives, with undaunted energy and the patience
of men who possess Eternity. These men did in verity believe, and of
experience know, and with purpose were minded to declare, what their
descendants had only heard with their ears, that

  "God alone is Conquerer."

This is the motto we read everywhere worked into the lace-like
ornamentation of the walls of the Alhambra, but the confession is
there, nothing but a phrase which sickens us by senseless repetition,
while in the mosque at Cordova we feel the significance of its
inspiration in every detail, although the words are absent.
Heart-service at Cordova and lip-service at Granada; the distance
between these two is infinite. How are the mighty fallen! During seven
centuries those Moors who had it in them to conquer the world, whose
ambition was as all-devouring as their faith was profound, have
degenerated into curious sensualists, whose art consists in a clever
contrast of color and delicacy of form set off by a profusion of
jewel-like ornaments. No, they do not believe in the creed of their
forefathers; its simplicity seems to them poverty stricken, and the
self-restraint and self-sacrifice it inculcates seems to them hateful.
Yet, after all, their worldy wisdom turns out to be folly: for soon
they lose what their forefathers had won; their empire vanishes, and
their places are turned into showrooms. For,

  "God alone is Conqueror."

and the consequences of our actions overtake us. We have just compared
the vastness, grandeur and severe simplicity of this "Temple of
Purification" (Zeca, it was called by the Moors) with the small and
exquisitely proportioned Alhambra, whose characteristic is luxurious
delicacy. The mosque at Cordova was designed by Abder-Rahman, the
Khalif himself, and history tells us that this leader of the people
toiled at its building day by day with his own hands; but the Alhambra
was designed by an architect, and built by paid workmen. In all
details these two buildings are good examples of the earliest and
latest stages in any particular art-period, and, indeed, in any
civilisation. Growth and decay, vigorous youth and ease-loving
decrepitude, are to be found in the art and in the civilisation of
every people, just as surely as they are to be found in the individual
life.

We would not be taken as roundly asserting, like our forefathers, the
Puritans, that ease and luxury in themselves are bad and fatal
things--snares of the Evil One, certain to bring their possessors to
ruin. On the contrary, ease and luxury seem in themselves to be very
good things, but just because they are at the same time exceedingly
pleasant things men are apt to indulge in them to a harmful extent. In
support of this view one may say that ease of life and luxury have
always been present in some degree whenever art has flourished. So we
shall not condemn even the last stage of Moorish art as exemplified in
the Alhambra, but we will take delight in it for whatsoever of the
beautiful it holds, and part from it with regret. In the Temple of
Life there are many mansions, and surely we can spare one of these to
be called the Alhambra, and to be dedicated to the refined pleasures
of the senses. For some reason or other the beauty of the Alhambra is
always suggestive to me of ease and summer-time, and short-lived
contentment of spirit....

Before leaving Granada, we go again to the Alhambra Hill at night.
>From the summit of the hill one looks down upon the girdle of white
houses five hundred feet below. No sound breaks the drowsy silence.
And further away still the green, with its orchards and gardens,
sleeps in the moonlight. Behind us, and on either hand, stand higher
brown hills, and above these again others rise purple clad till the
furthest ranges melt into the snowcrowned serrated line of the Sierra
Nevada. The wonderful gradation of coloring seems to find its climax
in this sharp contrast. But as you look again through the mountain
ranges, piled tier on tier, towards the silver diadem of the highest
height, you are more startled at seeing how the pure white radiance of
the snow shows off the beauty of the blue cope of heaven. Nature has
surpassed herself here, and seems to have borrowed the purpose of Art,
deliberately heightening her usual effects. As a rule, every hue and
line in Nature is harmonious, but here the contrasts are so sharp and
decisive that they seem to have been premeditated. The balmy southern
air kisses the cheek; around us gleams the intense radiance of a
southern moonlight; above us the profound blue of the tropical sky,
and there, piled up against the very heavens, lie masses of snow, and
about our feet a thousand rivulets dance towards the valley. There is
an audacious delicacy in the contrasts, an air of conscious coquetry
over the whole scene such as Nature seldom wears, but which reminds us
irresistibly of something feminine and artificial. Other cities seem
beautiful to us, but Granada alone is seductive and enchanting.

And as we turn into the Courts of the Alhambra lo! in this
architecture the same characteristics strike us which we noticed in
Nature outside. Here, too, are tricks and devices; masses of
contrasting colors; vistas of graceful, delicate marble columns;
mirrors of deep blue water showing off the silver moonpath. Did we not
know that the essential features of this architecture were borrowed
from the Far East we could have sworn that the makers of it drew their
inspiration from the natural scenery of the surrounding country. And
yet, borrowed and mannered as the architecture is, artificial as
Nature herself seems to be, one cannot help acknowledging the
seductive charms which both Nature and Art exercise over us here.

It is all very well indeed, and certainly quite true to say, with the
old Greek, that the highest beauty is always severe; but nevertheless
we men are not always in the mood to enjoy high things, and then we
willingly yield ourselves to be charmed and led captive by our
gratified senses. And so Granada lives, and will continue to live, in
the memory of men, intensifying our conception of the possible
enjoyments of life, by always bringing before our startled senses a
vision of dainty, yet luxurious, loveliness. Had we to portray the
genius of Granada on canvas, the task might be difficult of execution,
but would assuredly be easy of conception.





PART THREE

PRINCIPLES

SHORT STORY WRITING


It is curious that some of the best English masters regard the short
story with contempt. Kipling has always said frankly that he puts
the long story far above the short in importance, and his ambition
would have been to have written a great "three decker." Wells has
called the art of the short story "a jolly little art" and speaks of
it generally as the sort of thing men practice in youth and then
discard for something better.

It is difficult to understand how the length of a story should have
anything to do with its worth. We don't judge pictures by their size,
or statues, or music, or any other art: even architecture cannot be
appraised in this way. Besides, the stories everyone knows and loves
are for the most part short stories or short plays; long books are
remembered for some little incident or brilliant passage. We remember
in the Iliad Hector's farewell to his wife and son, and in the
Niebelungenlied the great scene of the Massacre; but hardly
more. Surely it is the great soliloquy of Hamlet or his scene with
Ophelia that we remember best in Shakespeare's masterpiece.

My opinion on the matter will be best shown by relating an incident
which took place a good many years ago. Professor York Powell asked me
if I would lecture in Oxford on the short story. I said I'd be
delighted; "but there wasn't much new to be said on the matter." He
smiled, remarking that I'd find lots to say as soon as I was on my
feet.

A month later I went down to Oxford to talk on the short story. I told
several stories of Bret Harte, Paul Heyse, Maupassant and Turgenev,
described their methods of work and conflicting ideas and finally
compared the short story with the sonnet. The sonnet, I said, has only
fourteen lines; yet there's nothing like a perfect sonnet in all
English literature. There are, however, one or two short stories that
are divinely imperfect: Maupassant's "Maison Tellier" and his
"L'Heritage," for example, are great short stories: we have nothing
equal to them in English nor are we likely to have till we get rid of
our ridiculous pruderies of speech.

I enlarged on this theme because my audience was wholly made up of
young men and I had no fear of shocking them.  French literature, I
said, has become the world-literature of today because it is
outspoken, free. And yet their writers, in my opinion, are inferior to
the best Englishmen in genius and subtlety. It was puritanism brought
in prudery, I concluded, and now that we have freed ourselves from the
childish belief surely we shall not keep the bib and tucker of our
babyhood for ever under our chins.

There was the usual applause when I had finished and then one got up
and asked me some questions and another and I answered them. Finally a
young professor rose as if reluctantly and said that he had enjoyed
the lecture, but that he had hoped I would give him the names of the
dozen best short stories. "Of course, I know," he added, "that Mr.
Harris might simply give us the names of a dozen of his own short
stories, but I meant to get from him if I could, the names of the next
best short stories."

Naturally everyone smiled, feeling that Oxford had justified its
reputation for common-room wit.

I asked York Powell to be allowed to answer the young professor at
once. And when the permission was accorded to me, I began by saying
that, unlike the young professor, I knew my betters when I saw them
and I had never thought that my short stories were the best in the
world. "But the ignorance of Oxford is such," I continued, "that you
don't even know what are the greatest short stories.

"The greatest story in the world long or short is the story told by
Jesus of 'The Woman Taken in Adultery.' Not two hundred words in
length, it is full of detail and glows with local color. For the first
time it seems to me Jesus was caught: He had said time and again that
He was come to fulfill the Law; and now the Jews caught him: 'The law
says the adulterous woman should be stoned to death; but _what sayest
thou_?' And He stooped and wrote upon the ground '_as though he heard
them not_.' For the first time he realised, I think, that he had not
come to fulfill the cruel law of Moses that demanded an eye for an
eye. He went to counsel with His own soul and brought forth the new
Gospel: 'He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone
at her.'

"As soon as this was said all prisons vanished from the earth, and
hospitals took their places; all judges and justicers became
ridiculous, and doctors and nurses came instead. Still, after twenty
centuries, we have both prisons and hospitals side by side; we are
not as sincere as those Jews nor so easily 'convicted by our
conscience'; but the fulfillment will come. For Jesus reached another
great word in this little story: 'Neither do I condemn thee,' He said
to the woman, which must mean, I think, that He too had sinned.

"And the next best story in the world is also His. It is nothing like
so astonishing as the first, but it, too, is a wonder in beauty and
sweetness of appeal. It is the story of 'The Prodigal Son.'

"It would need a long explanation to show how Jesus came to this
story. He started, as all the Jewish teachers seem to have started,
with a firm belief in the moral governance of the world, an absolute
conviction that in this life the righteous would be rewarded, and
the days of the dutiful and obedient would be long in the land.

"The Book of Job was the first sign of revolt against this cheerful
optimism. Job said practically, 'I have always been good, always done
right, and yet here I am plagued and punished as if I had loved
wickedness all my life.'

"This was the position of the Jews when Jesus came into the world:
they still tried to believe in the moral government of things, but had
to admit that the exceptions were appalling. Jesus went deeper.
Whatever was, was to Him the work of God; even the injustice of the
world was to Him divine, and He sought to justify it in story or
parable. His first attempt, I think, was a failure. He told the story
of the husbandman who went to engage laborers, and agreed with the
first set that they should work for a penny a day. He went out later
and engaged others and set them to work, saying they should be paid
fairly, and so to those whom he engaged at the eleventh hour. But when
he paid them all equally, the first grumbled. 'Is it fitting?' they
said, 'that we who have borne the burden and heat of the day should be
paid the same as those men who have labored only one hour?' And the
good man said: 'I have paid you what I agreed to pay you, and
therewith you must be content,' and they went away.

"But the soul is not content with this solution. We all feel that
those who have borne the burden and heat of the day deserved more than
the others. The story shows the injustice of the world, but it fails
to reconcile us to it or to justify it; the story is therefore maimed
and incomplete.  Jesus seems to have felt this, for shortly afterwards
he told the story of 'The Prodigal Son.'

"Here all the demands of justice are fulfilled. The young son who
spends his money in riotous living has to eat the husks that the swine
reject, but when he repents and returns to his father, he is received
with joy; and when the eldest son protests and says, 'You have never
killed the fatted calf for me,' the father's answer is supreme: 'All
that I have is yours. But this, my son, was dead and is alive again;
was lost and is found.' Sorrow for the sin committed is the
purification of the spirit, and love can reconcile us even to
injustice.

"The story of 'The Prodigal Son' is the next best story in the world,
and there are no other stories in all literature worthy to be placed
beside these. No Greek myth, or drama, or lyric is of this class.
Passing from these stories to any other is like going down from a
mountain peak to a table-land where many men dwell.

"I have done nothing so good as 'The Woman Taken in Adultery' or 'The
Prodigal Son'; but perhaps, here and there a word at second hand
touched with the same sacred passion. If I were asked to go on tracing
the hierarchy of artistic achievement, I should perhaps place in the
second rank Balzac's 'Unknown Masterpiece' and 'Another Study of a
Woman,' Anatole France's 'Crainquebille' and Merimee's 'Carmen'."

The young don and others came round me when I had finished and we went
up to his rooms and talked the stars down the sky and became friends.
For I think the professors and students felt that once again the
highest moral law had been called in to judge even a work of art.

Why do I prefer the short story to what Thackeray, I think, used to
speak of as the great "three-decker"? Long stories in his time being
distributed through the circulating libraries were usually issued in
three volumes at one and a half guineas so as to recompense the
publisher even on a small sale restricted to libraries. I prefer the
short story because no one can work up an emotion to a crescendo for
hours: it is hard to heighten interest for more than ten or fifteen
minutes; a long story that takes a volume to tell has, of necessity,
dull places in it, bleak spots of explanation or changes of interest;
it does not quicken steadily to a catastrophe like Niagara through the
rapids to the Falls.

There is no question, I suppose, today, that the novel is the highest
form of art; for science has given us the criterion; the most complex
form is certainly the highest and in no other art is such complexity
possible as in the novel. There are musicians who will deny this, I
know, and Plato, I remember, called music the divinest of all the
arts; but the novel had not been invented in the time of Pericles and
even now it is seldom seen at its best, for it should surely use lyric
poetry for its most passionate expression and the only example we have
of this sort of story is Goethe's "Wanderjahre."

Music cannot express definite concrete ideas; think of putting even
Hamlet's famous soliloquy, vague as it is, into music; one sees at
once that music cannot convey in any degree the thoughts that wander
through eternity. Music can, perhaps, render a sense of loss and
despair even more acutely than words, thanks to the realistic cry in
it; but that is all--the plastic beauty of form, the glow and magic of
color, the nobility of great architectural effects, are beyond its
scope. Literature is the one art that covers the whole field of human
life and human achievement and the most complex form of literary art
is surely the modern novel, which can be as dramatic as a play and
infinitely more subtle. For example, you can show courage in a play
perhaps as well as in a story; but suppose you want to show how some
hereditary taint destroys your hero's courage in the dark, it would be
difficult for you to represent it in a drama.  The modern story is
manifestly a far more complex form of art than even a play and preface
combined of Bernard Shaw. And if he puts his prefaces on the stage, we
should all need long cushioned seats and pillows.

But still I have not proved that short stories are better than long
ones. Go to thought and ask yourselves which are the unforgettable
stories of the world: I would rather have written Wells' "The Country
of the Blind" full of faults as I think it, than any novel in English
save "Robinson Crusoe" or "Tom Jones" or "Vanity Fair" or "The
Cloister and the Hearth." Bret Harte's "The Outcasts of Poker Flat"
will, I believe, live and be read when all Richardson and Dickens are
whelmed in oblivion. Mrs. Gaskell wrote excellent novels and so did
Jane Austen; but I prefer "Manon Lescaut" to all of them put together
and I firmly believe that Tolstoi's "Cossacks" and "Ivan Ilytch" are
finer than the interminable "War and Peace" or even "Anna Kerenina."
The seduction in "Resurrection" lives with me when all the long prison
scenes have faded out of my mind. To me nearly all the immortal works
of literary art are short and I can reread Poe's tales when a volume
of Hawthorne leaves me bored.

In a letter the other day I was asked why I praised Hans Christian
Anderson. I know as well as most people that by far the greatest
number of his stories are silly child's tales, but he was the first to
bring symbolism into modern literature, I believe, and some of his
fabulous tales are still among the best of their kind--masterpieces
indeed. "The Ugly Duckling" is unforgettable. Everyone will
remember, too, the king who was persuaded by his false courtiers to
discard his clothing and then they admired his new attire; but a child
cried out that he was naked--a great short story with a sharp, solid
moral.

I have just remarked that Wells' "The Country of the Blind" is full of
faults and it may be worth while to prove this, for it is his
masterpiece and one of the few great short stories in English
literature.

"The Country of the Blind" is thirty-three pages long, or, say, ten
thousand words, and the first thing that strikes me is that Wells
takes nearly ten pages to get his hero into "The Country of the
Blind," ten pages which have no influence on the story at all, which
do not even tell us much about the hero; ten pages of what I must call
scaffolding, necessary to the builder, no doubt, in order to help his
imagination to work, but which should have been taken away after the
house was built, the story realised.

But now we come with Nunez, the mountaineer of the Andes, and find
ourselves in the "narrow, shut-in valley which is 'The Country of the
Blind'." At the very beginning Wells strikes the keynote. Through the
mind of Nunez runs the old proverb, as if it were a refrain, "In the
country of the blind the one-eyed man is king."

It was this proverb, no doubt, which gave Wells the idea of the story.
He will show us that this proverb is not true, is indeed the reverse
of the truth, the theme of Wells' story being that in the country of
the blind the man with eyes will be made a common servant, and before
he is admitted to citizenship or fellowship he must lose his eyes.
Now there is, of course, an element of truth in this story.

All the stories of great men born into the world are stories of men
gifted with eyesight in the country of the blind. It is not true that
the man with sight becomes king; it is never true except with many
qualifications. Let us examine the matter. With fine insight, Wells
begins with the fact that the blind will not believe what the man with
eyes says, and the truth he tells them makes them hate him. He
represents to us that Nunez, his hero, gets into conflict with the
blind people, which, of course, is true, and at last, in order to get
food, he has to submit to them, and they make him a servant. Here my
agreement with Wells comes to an end.

He represents Nunez as isolated in a hostile world; no one believes in
him, no one credits the fact of his vision; even the girl he loves
begs him to submit to an operation, and be blinded in order to
become like an ordinary person. Rather than consent to this, he leaves
her, and climbs up out of the shut-in valley, and turns his back
forever on the country of the blind.

Now all this, it seems to me, is false, and a libel on humanity of the
worst. Wells has fallen into a half truth lower than the proverb he
seeks to disprove; lower because more hopeless and more untrue.
The truth is that in the country of the blind the one-eyed man is
king; but not the man with two eyes and perfect sight. Your Mahomet,
who is one-eyed, makes himself king; your Shakespeare, who has two
eyes and perfect sight, is made a common servant of, and passes
through life almost unknown by the many. It is, however, absolutely
untrue to say that even a towering genius like Shakespeare can be born
into the world with no one to understand him or appreciate him. On the
contrary, your Ben Jonson sees him completely, and, when he is not
blinded by vanity and jealousy, he will boldly proclaim that
Shakespeare was not "for an age, but for all time," greater than any
Greek or Roman of them all, an Immortal among the Immortals. Even Lord
Southampton saw enough in him to give him 1000 pounds, or, say $50,000
dollars of our money, in order to let him buy the best house in
Stratford, and write his "Hamlets," that no one cared for, rather than
the "Titus Adronicuses," which everyone hurried to see. On this side
and on that, when he least expected it, Shakespeare found admirers and
defenders. Were that not true, genius would end in suicide. And as we
drop in the scale and come to the one-eyed we find the appreciation
more common and the admiration more intense.

Luther comes out of the first examination almost in despair. Everyone
seems against him, the nobles as well as the priests, and the common
people are awe-stricken and stand aloof. Suddenly a knight, whom he
does not know, comes up to him and slaps him on the shoulder cheerily:
"Well done, little monk!" he cries; "go on, you'll win yet"; and
Luther, thrilling, makes up his mind to go to Worms "though it rain
devils." Mahomet, too, found supporters even among his enemies, and
help and encouragement on all hands. Did not Napoleon conquer twenty
millions of people without a weapon and almost without striking a
blow? The truth is, every great man bom into the world is surrounded
by an invisible cloud of witnesses, some of whom see him as he is,
others catch glimpses now and then of his greatness, enough to
recognize and admire and love him. Of course, he will be lonely in
proportion to his greatness, but he will never be alone, and for the
one supporter whom he knows there are a hundred whom he may never
know, but who are working for him. What does Wordsworth say?

    "Thou hast great allies,
  Thy friends are exultations, agonies
  And love and man's unconquerable mind."

One other feature of Wells' story strikes me as untrue and unduly
pessimistic. The girl whom Nunes loves does not recognise his
superiority, and begs him to let himself be blinded in order to be as
other men and marry her. This appears to me a libel on womanhood: when
even the Disciples hide themselves and hold aloof, the women kept
near the Cross, heedless of self. Mahomet's wife stood by him through
good and evil report, even when he married a younger woman. The girl
Shakespeare loved did not, perhaps, see him as we see him; but she
surely knew that he was an extraordinary man, and gave herself to him
in defiance of convention and morality with passionate abandonment.
The truth is that the great man, almost without exception, finds his
most constant and most loyal supporters among women. Women have a
peculiar weakness for the best and for the worst of men. It is
mediocrity that leaves them cold.

Wells' reading of the whole story is unduly pessimistic, a libel on
humanity: and how lamely it ends! Nunes, the great man, can do nothing
but leave the country of the blind no wiser than he entered it. What
an impotent and disappointing conclusion!

And yet the idea is a great idea, and the story one of the best of
English stories, only Wells has taken his art too lightly; the "jolly
little art" must be a ministry before it produces a masterpiece. If
Wells had given thought to the matter, he would have seen how to make
his story truer and at the same time more finely symbolical. He should
have represented the rulers and directors of the little kingdom as
being purblind, and he could have made Nunes, through his gift of good
sight, a benefactor of the people. He might have told them all, for
instance, when rain was threatened so that the poor blind peasants
could save their crops. He would get no reward for this, bare thanks.
Later he might build a machine so sensitive that it would tell the
peasants when it was going to rain or storm, and doing that he might
win the girl, but still no big reward. But after he dies the machine
gets out of order and everyone remembers that he offered to build a
dozen of them and show how they should be kept in order, and then the
people make a hero of him and erect statues to him when it is too late
to profit by his far-sightedness.

Kipling has written even better short stories than Wells and perhaps I
ought to say a word about him here. I knew him well before I had begun
to write myself; I admired some of his stories and knew much of his
verse by heart; had talked things over with him time and again in the
late eighties when he first came back from India. I have written about
him, coo, done a sort of portrait of him, and thought I had finished
with him, when the other day I picked up a copy of a book of his,
published, I think, in Paris, and entitled "A Diversity of Creatures."
It begins with a story entitled "As Easy as A B C" and almost
immediately I came upon a verse in it which fettered attention,
challenging thought:

  "Once there was The People--Terror gave it birth;
  Once there was The People and it made a Hell of Earth.
  Earth arose and crushed it.  Listen, O ye slain!
  Once there was The People--it shall never be again!"

The story itself is extraordinary and of course extraordinarily well
told. It is a sort of vision of what will be when aerial navies
control all other powers and make Chicago a suburb of London, or
London an East End of Chicago. It is an astounding piece of work,
and one which no one should leave unread; and there are other stories
in the book almost as astonishing.

This book has forced me to revise my judgment of Kipling. There is
more in him than the author of "Kim," and the "Jungle Book" fades into
a child's tale in comparison with the imagination that rules this
story "As Easy as A B C."

I am glad that we Americans have done better work both in the novel
and in the short story than our English cousins, by dint chiefly of
greater sincerity and deeper insight; though in poetry the English are
still infinitely our superiors. "The Gift of the Magi," by O. Henry,
is more remarkable and certainly better told than Wells' "The Country
of the Blind"; and "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge," by Ambrose
Bierce, is even better than Kipling's "The Man Who Would Be King."
Think of the best English novels of the last quarter of a century:
Weyman's "A Gentleman of France," with its boyish romantic feeling, or
"The New Machiavelli," by Wells, with its tame and petty love
squabble, or "The Old Wives' Tale," by Arnold Bennett, with its drab
commonness of texture and its failure to bring out the best in the
more adventurous of the sister-heroines. Think of them; think even of
"The House of the Green Shutters," which is perhaps better than any of
them, and then read "The Octopus" or "The Jungle" or "Sister Carrie"
or the half-dozen masterpieces of David Graham Phillips, and you will
be able to judge how immeasurably superior our best American work is,
not in style merely or chiefly, but in largeness of conception, truth
of vision and fidelity of presentment.

Norris' "The Octopus" is not merely a novel but an epic, the greatest
epic in the language. I had almost said the only epic we
English-speaking people possess. It should be in our schools as well
as in our libraries: it extends and strengthens our well-founded
belief in the genius of our race. There is an epic breadth and tragic
grandeur in the struggle of these human animalcula in the vast net of
capitalism that is awe-inspiring. Small criticisms of detail; the
flagging here and there of interest; too much prominence given to some
petty realistic ideals; weaknesses in character-drawing--all are swept
away in the mighty flood of a narrative that gathers strength and
volume and speed as it sweeps menacingly on to the inevitable tragic
end. It is a great book, "The Octopus"; perhaps the first book I would
give any foreigner, Englishman or Frenchman or Russian, if I wished to
convince him that American literature had a life and power of its own
and even now was worthy to stand against the best English work
smiling.

But the best stories of David Graham Phillips are still better work.
In a portrait of him I have already given my reasons for placing him
with the greatest. But Fielding has only "Tom Jones," Thackeray only
"Vanity Fair" and Reade only "The Cloister and the Hearth" in the
first rank, whereas Phillips has at least half a dozen: "White Magic,"
"The Hungry Heart," "The Price She Paid," "The Husband's Story," "Old
Wives for New," and "Light-Finger'd Gentry"--all worthy to stand with
the best novels in all literature. Strange to say, Phillips' short
stories are nothing like so good as his long novels.




THE ART OF BIOGRAPHY


Biography, properly considered, is the topmost peak of art. For the
painter, the body is the chief thing and by means of it he can give
glimpses of the soul, but to the biographer the body is only valuable
as it has influenced the spirit; it is the spirit he must portray. And
he can do what no other art can even attempt: he can depict the growth
and the formative influences and the effect poverty or riches, health
or sickness, even accidents may have upon the soul. The true
biographer can make you know a man or woman, body, heart, and spirit,
and its multiform development from the cradle to the grave. And if
he has taken a great soul to depict, the vicissitudes are apt to be
extraordinary and the crises heartrending. The great man must be
considered fortunate if his Gethsemane and Calvary come at the end and
not midway in his life. The story of the growth of a true soul is the
essence of Natural Religion; for great men are the Jacob's ladder
which leads to heaven.

The soul only grows through love, and in measure as it sheds hatreds
and prejudices and burgeons out in new tendrils of sympathy and pity
and reverence, in just that measure will it feel kinship with all the
first souls of the past.

The biographer will have to trace how faults in such a one dwindle,
not by pruning, but by lov ing, by affectionate understanding of
others, and the shortcomings that persist will hardly be serious,
much less maiming.

The biography of one great man faithfully told is the history of his
whole nation or race up to that time and contains not a little of the
whole story of man; perhaps, indeed, may adumbrate or shadow forth the
future.

Biographies as a rule are written in very different ways; the most
usual way is to picture the outside of a man and the incidents of his
life coolly and more or less dispassionately. All such biographies,
even when written with talent, might as well be burned, save that now
and then a good work or good story emerges and is remembered.

Then there is the biography written by a great man of a great man, as
Plato wrote of Socrates, lending to the hero the charm of a
transcendental idealist and philosopher. Such a biography written with
love and admiration is a possession forever.

There is also the biographer who avows himself inferior to his
subject, putting the great man up on his shoulders, so to speak, in
order the better to show him off. This is Boswell's method, and
again is sanctified by love.

Then there is the way I think the best: to paint the man as he
appeared, his loves and hatreds, fears and hopes and deeds, with
admiring affection and perfect sympathy till he lives for you, but
above all to trace his growth, and show how and why he came to his
achievement. Later it may be worth while to show him as others saw
him, friends and foes alike, so that he is the focus, so to speak, of
a dozen different lights; but all the while the love and admiration of
the writer must keep the reader's interest by interpreting the very
soul of his subject.

If I had understood this completely I should have done my "Life of
Wilde" better; as it is, I learned from practicing the art, and leave
the ideal for those who will come later to do better.

One very memorable, yet minor, fact you will find in this
biography-writing if you seek to make your subject live: his virtues
and powers must be balanced or offset, so to speak, by faults and
whimsies. You can make a man live by blocking in his faults and vices
but not by praising his virtues and qualities; you can mark outlines
better by black shadows than by high lights. And so the biographer is
compelled to recall his hero's short-comings, his faults, his vices,
his superstitions and humors with particularity, but never with
contempt or dislike, or, so to speak, from above.

Here is the final judgment. If you have been able to tell his vilest
faults as a mother would, with love and pity, your portrait will live;
for love is the key that opens all hearts and there is no other.

And, in fact, the love of the biographer-artist must far transcend the
foolish-fond adoration of a mother. For probably from vanity, the
mother only records amiable traits or endearing high qualities whereas
the biographer must play recording angel and take as loving an
interest in the defects as in the superiorities of his subjects.

Of all the literary arts, biography is the most difficult. As each
drop of water is a microcosm of the ocean, so each individual is a
microcosm of humanity holding in himself all the powers and
potentialities of life up to the day on which he was born.

The question is how to picture this little animal of almost infinite
possibilities so that he shall live in the memory of men as an
individual and, at the same time, as a symbol or type.

Let us see what the past can teach us. There are three biographies
superior to all others. One is the life of Jesus, as told in the
Gospels; the second the life of Socrates, as told in the "Memorabilia"
of Xenophon and the dialogues of Plato; and the third is Boswell's
"Life of Johnson."

The biography given in the Gospels for the moment can be left out of
consideration, except just to note that his biographers have tried to
represent Jesus as almost without faults or frailties, whether of
temper or temperament, or limitations, whether of capacity or of
experience. At the same time they have preserved certain sayings which
show astonishing spiritual intuition and sweet-thoughted wisdom.

Almost the same thing is true of the life of Socrates as depicted by
Xenophon, and especially by Plato. Xenophon, it is true, does give a
few details about his life, tells us how he went barefoot cheerfully,
even talks with admiration of his courage in war and his patient
acceptance of a scolding wife. Plato, on the other hand, shows us the
fine mind of the man, his religious fervor and determination to live
to the best in him, always obeying the Voice of God, as he calls
conscience, which was the noblest of his characteristics. Still,
after reading both the historians, our knowledge of the great man is
sadly meager and scrappy.

Boswell is a type of the Dutch artist: like another Tenier he gives
us all the small details. He describes Johnson from day to day and
from night to night, in his habit as he lived. We know the Doctor's
imperious rudeness and his sensible retorts; we are told of his
inordinate fondness for tea; of his good resolutions and his weak
performances; his genuine religious feeling and his little
superstitions; all the minor human whimsies and frailties are pictured
for us; but the soul of the man we know little about. How was it that
in that eighteenth century called the century of enlightenment a
thoughtful man could still worship devoutly in the Church of St.
Clement Danes? He had one of the best heads in the world, we are told,
and he certainly had a good one; how, then, could he justify the
American war and declare that the Colonists would have to be "whipped"
into submission? Did he fall in love in youth or was his wife his only
affection? Of the heights and depths of Johnson's temperament, Boswell
tells us almost nothing. But, in his realm, Boswell is infinitely
interesting, and if someone had played Boswell to Socrates or to Jesus
the story of humanity would have been infinitely enriched.

There is more than one Boswell in our English literature. Aubrey, who
wrote in the middle of the seventeenth century the "Lives of Eminent
Persons," is much more succinct than Boswell, but at least as
interesting, for he has fifty heroes and something new to say about
each and all of them.

Milton, he tells us, "pronounced the letter Y very hard." Spenser "was
a little man, wore short hair, a little band, and little cuffs."
Erasmus "loved not fish, though born in a fish town." Of Bacon he
tells us that "none of his servants durst appear before him without
Spanish leather boots, for he would smell the neat's-leather, which
offended him." Dr. Fuller "had a very working head, in such that,
walking and meditating before dinner, he would eat up a penny loaf,
not knowing that he did it." About Sir William Davenant Aubrey makes
this remark: "I was at his funeral.  He had a coffin of walnut-tree.
Sir John Denham said 'twas the finest coffin he ever saw." Of Ben
Jonson, Aubrey writes: "I have heard Mr. Lacy, the player, say that
he was wont to wear a coat like a coachman's coat, with slits under
the armpits," probably because big, stout Ben perspired freely. Hobbes
"became very bald in his old age, yet within doors used to study and
sit bare-headed, and said he never took cold in his head, but that the
greatest trouble was to keep off the flies from pitching on the
baldness."

It is clear that Aubrey had a perfect consciousness of the
peculiarities of his task. He is not ignorant that Harvey discovered
the circulation of the blood, but he prefers to note that that great
man spent his sleepless nights in walking about his chamber in his
shirt, that he wrote a very bad hand, and that the London doctors
would not have given threepence for one of his prescriptions. He is
sure that he has enlightened us about Bacon when he explains that he
had "a delicate, lively hazel eye, like the eye of a viper."

But Aubrey is not so great an artist as Holbein. He cannot fix for
eternity an individual by his special features. He gives life to an
eye, to the nose, the leg, or the pout of his models; he cannot
animate the whole countenance. Old Hokusai saw clearly that it was
necessary to arrive at rendering individual what is most general.
Aubrey had not that penetration and width of vision.

No one seems to be able to give the small, intimate painting details
and yet record the all-important spiritual powers and appraise them
fairly. Diogenes Laertius tell us that Aristotle used to carry on his
stomach a leathern purse full of warm oil; but we don't know why he
went to the trouble, any more than we know what Johnson did with the
dried orange peelings he used to carry in his pockets.

But such little shortcomings are nothing in comparison with the fact
that none of the famous biographers have attempted to paint the youth
and spiritual growth of their hero, though the formative period of
life is by far the most important,




THOUGHTS ON MORALS


Matthew Arnold is responsible for the belief that the Jews had a
special genius for morality and religion, and Huxley apparently
accepted the superstition.

"In the eighth century B.C., in the heart of a world of idolatrous
polytheists, the Hebrew prophets put forth a conception of religion
which appears to be as wonderful an inspiration of genius as the art
of Pheidias, or the science of Aristotle. 'And what does the Lord
require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk
humbly with thy God'."

To the great agnostic this seemed "the perfect ideal of religion," the
ultimate of human wisdom. It would be easy, however, to prove that the
admonition was the personal utterance of some man of extraordinary
talent; for assuredly a "love of mercy" was never a characteristic of
the Jews. But the soul of the counsel is intensely Hebraic; it is all
informed by fear, a dread of the Almighty, whose tent is the heavens
and whose ways are through the great deep.

The spirit seems a little childish to us, a little unworthy. "To walk
humbly" is not a becoming attitude for men. We have learned to love
Nature and enjoy its mystery and beauty _without_ fear; storms and
tempests do not terrify us; we study what is unknown with the
assurance that before long we shall master the pusale, and the marvel
of every new appearance will be transmuted into a symbol of service.
On every hand we find evidence of our kinship with the spirit that
made the world; ideas in the mind are laws of Nature and our thoughts
rule the motion of the stars. Not humbly but with serene pride and
confidence we give ourselves to the inflowing spirit; fear and prayer
are alike offensive to us. We are not slaves or aliens, but sons and
daughters of the House Beautiful, and our rules of conduct are all
modified by the fact that we have come of age and are entered into
our inheritance.

If happy confidence, and not fear, is the proper spirit in which to
face the mystery of things; if investigation, and not prayer, is the
clew to the heart of the labyrinth, then we should study religion
and morals with the same detached curiosity which we are wont to give
to crystals or gases.

Morals are to religion what correct anatomy is to sculpture: if the
skeleton is wrong the body cannot be beautiful. Let us begin, then,
with a study of morals. In essence, morals are nothing but laws of
health--health of mind and health of body--and without showing
ourselves unduly credulous we may accept the ordinary belief of
investigators today that psychology is only a part of physiology,
that the health of the mind depends on the health of the body and that
this must always take precedence.

What is to be said of our modern morality, the rules of health which
we are now supposed to observe? Not only are the laws uncodified, but
they are at sixes and sevens. This precept is taken from Moses, and
that from Paul, a third from race-experience, while a fourth is picked
up at haphazard. Let us try to bring some order into the chaos. Our
morality is founded to some slight extent in the Hebraic code, and,
though we cannot accept the Jews as inspired guides, it will not be
denied that they devoted time and thought to morals and their
emotional sanction. Leviticus shows how earnestly they had studied the
rules of health, how anxious they were to arrive at a scientific
dietary, and we can often find some reason in the nature of things for
their peculiar ordinances.

They forbid one to eat pork, and they forbid one to eat blood, and we
have learned that pork is hard to digest and we usually recommend it
to be eaten very seldom, even in winter, and only by those given to
hard bodily labor. We admit at once that it is not a commendable
article of ordinary diet in a hot climate. And though we have found no
physiological reason why we should eschew blood, yet, probably because
of the Jewish prohibition, blood is very little eaten amongst us;
though both Frenchman and Germans consume a good deal of it without
ill effects. Again, when the Mosaic law forbids us to eat fish without
scales, we admit that such fish are often unhealthful, particularly
in a hot climate, and content ourselves with using mackerel even, and
shellfish, very sparingly.

In the same way we study the Mosaic commendations. When we are
informed that we may eat "the locust after his kind . . . and the
beetle after his kind and the grasshopper after his kind," we gulp
down our disgust and murmur that the moralist was writing in Palestine
under primitive conditions and for a pastoral people. Clearly the
Hebraic precepts are not binding on us; nor in themselves perhaps very
admirable. They were tentative, we say, and far too harsh; we do not
condemn the adulteress to death, nor burn the daughters of a priest
for high-living.

The peculiarity of the old Jewish morality is its barbaric severity.
The penalties are excessive, much more severe than _the penalties
founded in the nature of things_, which we do well to remember though
perhaps not to imitate. This is one of the difficulties. Nature
punishes us, as we know; are we justified in forestalling her
sentences? "Let him that is without sin among you first cast the
stone" seems to me decisive. The criminal is apt to move me to pity,
while the judge invariably excites me to contempt or indignation. But,
however we may decide, it is certain that for many a long year to come
society will punish breaches of its code with a relentless severity
which has no intimate relation to equity.

We must, however, take Nature's punishments into consideration, for
they lie at the root of all morals. "The wages of sin is death," said
the Jew, and the "iniquity of the father is visited on the children to
the third and fourth generation." The Greek was just as convinced that
punishment was unavoidable: "The man who has sinned shall suffer,"
says Aeschylus.

There can be no doubt that Nature does punish with suffering in some
rough proportion to the offense, and with death as the ultimate penalty.
In many cases the suffering does not work itself out, even by
the fourth generation, but goes on and on till pain and weakness are
finally merged in merciful extinction. Nevertheless, Nature is no
Rhadamanthus; she has her favorites and shows all manner of kindness
to her loved ones.

This is the heart of the new Gospel; we take our cue from Nature, and
Nature has no liking for the Sunday-school scholar or the ascetic; she
treats the pulse-eater and the Pharisee, the flagellator, and
formalist, a little more harshly than she treats the profligate or the
happy-go-lucky. The deep-breasted Mother, indeed, shows a distinct
preference for the rich-generous, hot-blooded, vigorous
personalities who scatter abroad sins and seeds, sense and nonsense,
out of the exuberance of health and youth, and she forgives her
favorites their transgressions again and again, warning them now with
headaches and now with heart-sinkings of the danger of evil courses.

Here we come to the dividing-line between the old code and the new:
morals don't belong to statics at all, as the Jews imagined, but to
dynamics; that is, there is no universal law or rule with a penalty
indubitably attached. The rule is general, the exceptions numerous;
the punishment, like the fault, is all a question of the individual,
and is in intimate relation to his health and strength and wisdom. The
vigorous man may eat too much and yet transmute his food into extra
force; or he may eat what disagrees with him and yet hardly be
conscious of his offense.

The weak, on the other hand, will suffer out of measure for all
mistakes. In this matter of health, "he that hath to him shall be
given; and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which
he hath." Wine, though injurious to eight out of ten, may be good for
the ninth and save the life of the tenth. The law, or rule, is only a
counsel for guidance; the penalty may often be avoided. The fact is
the particular man or woman should study his or her individual nature
and use such suggestions of the code as they find salutary.

But how can we arrive at a natural code, a code in close conformity
with the nature of things? Let us see if a modern comparison will help
us.

The rise of the Japanese to power is not only the most important
political event which modern Europe has known, but also the most
important moral event. Here is a people whose virtue, in the ordinary
sense of the word, has commanded the admiration of all civilized
peoples, whose morality is as different from ours as chalk is from
cheese. What we have regarded as vital--that sex morality, so dear to
our Germanic strain--they smile at as indifferent; what we regard as
negligible, such as a daily hot bath, they insist is essential, and
yet their moral health and strength can no more be disputed than their
physical vigor. They have proved their astonishing fitness beyond
doubt in a series of desperate trials and, finally, in a
life-and-death struggle with one of the strongest of European powers.
Clearly, then, a study of the Japanese code of morals may help us to
arrive at some definite conclusions on the matter.

One of the great Japanese papers, the _Fiji Shimpo_, has published a
series of twelve precepts, or commandments, which it puts forward for
universal acceptance, and, strange to say, these admonitions, like
the Jewish commandments, have for sanction length of days. The
Japanese paper assures its readers that by observing these moral rules
they may live to be two hundred years old.

Whether the prize, is worth the effort must be a question for the
individual. The majority of men are inclined to think that even a
gluttonous appetite should be satisfied with a hundred years of
living; while some of us hope that as soon as our mental faculties
deteriorate we may be allowed to rest from our labors and find peace
in the grave.

There can be no doubt, however, that the majority of these Japanese
rules are nearer scientific exactitude than the rules of Moses, or
than the ordinary practice of modern life.

Here are the Japanese commandments:

1. Spend as much time as possible in the open air.

2. Never eat meat more than once a day.

3. Take a very hot bath daily.

4. Wear rough warm clothes.

*5. Early to bed and early to rise.

*6. Sleep at least six hours each night and at most seven and a half
in a dark room with open windows.

7. Rest on the seventh day and during that day do not read or write.

8. Avoid every expression of anger: never exercise the brain too much
or too long.

9. Marry early; widows and widowers should remarry as soon as
possible.

10. Drink coffee and tea in strictest moderation: do not smoke at all;
and never touch alcohol in any form.

11. Avoid hot rooms, and, indeed, all rooms heated artificially.

12. In order to strengthen such organs as may be weakened by age or
use, nourish yourself on the corresponding organs of animals.

*These two precepts should be compared with the old French rhyme:
  _Lever a six, diner a dix
  Souper a six, coucher a dix
  Fait vivre I'homme dix fois dix_.

Most of these precepts are excellent and of general, if not
universal, acceptance. Numbers 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and even 11,
that is, nine out of the twelve can be regarded as counsels of
perfection for everyday use, though 10 may be modified, as alcohol is
often advisable. On the other hand, number 12 is manifestly childish:
one does not strengthen the stomach by eating the stomach of a cow, or
a rabbit, or hen; nor one's skin by eating the hide of a bull or
lamb. Number 12 may be rejected _in toto_.

Number 3 comes under a different head. Before the War doctors in
England and America generally recommended a cold tub daily.
Prizefighters and athletes were the first, I believe, to modify the
unpleasant recommendation. They used massage and dry rubbing in
preference to cold dips and douches. It may be laid down as an axiom
that all persons with weak circulation or feeble heart-action, or
those inclined to rheumatism, should eschew cold baths and
inordinately hot baths, too, though these latter are less likely to be
injurious. Number 3, then, can be accepted in a general form: "Take a
warm bath daily," or even more precisely "take care to keep the pores
of the skin open, either by friction or by bathing or by both."

Number 2 is also to be accepted only with some modifications. In
northern climates the Jap rule is an excellent one, even for young
people, and as soon as a man or woman reaches forty the rule should be
made more stringent. After forty, meat should be eaten only rarely,
say, twice or thrice a week, fish being substituted for it; and after
fifty it will be found salutary to eschew meat altogether in the vast
majority of cases.

It will hardly be disputed that these Japanese precepts come much
nearer the ideal code than the Hebraic commandments. They are at once
more reasonable, more salutary, and more natural, and because they
are better suited to human nature they find more sanction in
themselves and need less external, or, shall we say superhuman,
sanction? They are not taken from the mouth of God by a great man and
written on tables of stone; they are the slow inductions of many
millions of experiences and are written perdurably in our human flesh.

They are democratic and amiable, too; they do not frame themselves as
orders coming from above, but as advice and admonition from counselors
well disposed to men, who regard human frailties with kindly, tolerant
eyes.

But, it may be asked, and, indeed, should be asked, will this code, or
any such code, ever be touched by emotion and become religious? Or, in
other words, will it ever win such sanction as to enforce its more
disagreeable provisions on those natures which find it most difficult
to follow good advice?

First of all, it is plain that if this code, or some rational code
like it, be established and approved, and if it be verily an exact
image or replica of the law as founded in the nature of things, then
the transgressors of it will inevitably be punished; that is, they or
their descendants will, in process of time, fade out of life, and so
the number of those who do not accept the law will tend continually
to diminish. The punishment of sin is, indeed, death. This unavoidable
effect would alone, one imagines, be sufficient in time to clothe the
rule with sacred emotional sanction.

Then, too, if the rule be good, those who use it will profit by it in
health and in the pleasures of healthful living as soon as they begin
seriously to put it into practice. The rule makes for health and joy
and efficiency, and all who study what pertains to their peace will
respect it, and such respect will in time grow to reverence.

Yet I would not have the rule clothed with idolatrous observance; it
is possible to respect the law too much; whoever reverences the
established truth is apt to hate new light and be an enemy of new
wisdom.

At long last we men are coming in sight of a rational code of morals
and a natural religion and all over Christendom reformers and
innovators are able to point to Japan and the secular practice of the
great Japanese people as proof positive that the restrictions and
self-denials of the Puritans, and of all those who hate the body and
bodily functions, have no deeper root than the folly of fanaticism.
"Marry early and marry often," say the Japanese euphemistically, and
Montaigne tells us that love should occupy the years of youth--"the
next years after childhood." Aristotle talks a great deal of obvious
twaddle about moderation as the rule of virtue; but the Italian
precept, _Peccato di came non e peccato_ (the sins of the flesh are
not sins), has a great deal to say for itself. It is certain that a
little excess in youth in the gratification of natural desire is less
harmful than the abstinence generally recommended in England and
America.

In maturity, on the other hand, artists and those given to severe
mental labor will find in complete abstinence a renewal of vigor.
Balzac declared that nothing but periods of monkish self-denial gave
him the power necessary to produce masterpieces. There is no general
law, but the French proverb, _une fois nest pas coutume_, is valuable.
Temporary excesses are not harmful; sometimes, indeed, they are
positively beneficial. Our vagrant nature is impatient of rigid
limits.

And the tolerance already accorded to one sex should be extended to
the other. Indeed, were it not for the inconvenience and danger of
maternity, it would hardly be denied that love and passion and all
the myriad consequences of love are more natural in woman than in men
and her aberrations should be regarded with even greater leniency than
his.

Every code of morals will have to take into account peculiarities of
race. For instance, English and American boys, as a rule, take too
much physical exercise.  They overdevelop the muscles of the legs and
injure the heart by excessive running and jumping and football. The
muscles of the arms and torso should be developed and the youths
should be guarded against over-exertion or strain. American boys are
often overdeveloped to such an extent that as soon as youth is passed,
the mere sustenance of the large muscles involves an undue strain on
the heart. It is a truism that great athletes usually die young.

The mental training of English and American schools is in an
infinitely worse state than the bodily training. The fault in the
physical discipline is that it is partial and ill-balanced, but the
desire of perfection is there and needs only to be restrained and
regulated. Mental training, on the other hand, is in its infancy; in
the classroom memories are developed and minds dwarfed. Young boys
are crammed with books, like chickens: tube-fed beyond power of
assimilation. The majority of them are content to parrot the thoughts
of others from youth to senility.

And the incidental training of boyish companionship in England is even
worse; there exists a despotism of snobbish opinion which is
soul-destroying, and an idiot prejudice against originality of any
sort which is encouraged by the authorities. It is "bad form" to
write well or to speak foreign languages well; it is "bad form" even
to speak English correctly, and our noble language is degraded into a
meaningless jargon of slang, less articulate than the "clicks" of
Kafir savages. Yet English public schools are praised by snobs and
parasites who find it "bad form" to differ in any way from the
dead-level of mediocrity. In no English school is one encouraged to
think for oneself, and an original opinion, or, indeed, any opinion
that is not an opinion of the governing caste, is taboo. This vulgar
love of uniformity is so cherished in England that one recognises a
public-school boy by his mind as easily as by his dress. His soul even
is prostituted to convention and has an inborn respect for Sunday
clothes and Sunday behavior.

It would almost seem as if a large measure of political and personal
liberty were only to be purchased with a tame conventionality of
thought, and as if the boldest adventurers, robbers, and colonisers of
the modern world sprang from a race in love with a sheepish uniformity
of conduct.

But the idea beckons, a light fixed high above racial peculiarities or
compensations.

Boys should be taught to question everything and to deny whatever is
of current acceptance. By rejecting old truths we bottom them or
discover better.

The first commandment is: be yourself; never conform; be proud of
yourself and willful; for there is no one in the world like you, nor
ever has been, and your unlikeness to all others is the reason of your
existence, and its solitary justification. What shall it profit a man
if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?

The second commandment is a corollary of the first: find out wherein
you excel naturally, and with the most ease, and make that quality
your breadwinner. If you have a good head you will soon turn your
craft into an art, and if you happen to have one of the best heads,
whatever you do, you will do it with mastery and find in it the
likeness of everything in this world that is well done. You, too, will
be one of the Creators.

Let no one imagine that these counsels are of vain conceit: each new
generation is trained to servile respect for the preceding generation
and for authority; but the subservience is ridiculous and unnatural. I
am full of respect, not for the past wave of being, but for the coming
wave; for the young and not for the old. In truth the youngest born of
Time are the oldest; they have a longer experience to draw on than
their fathers possessed: they are the embodied wisdom of all the past,
the favorites of Fortune, the lords of Creation. All creatures must
come to them to be named and accorded their proper place in the
hierarchy. What is Socrates to you, or Jesus, or Paul, or Shakespeare,
if he cannot quicken you to new power?  and in measure as he quickens
you, you shall accord him honor. If the greatest can teach you this
and that, is there no deep lesson you have learned from life which you
can teach them?

As all reputations are re-valued by every new generation, or rather by
every original man, so morals, too, should be remolded, brought a
little nearer Nature's law in this particular or that; every new
generation, too, should add a new chapter to religion, some new verse
to the great Bible of Humanity.




NATURAL RELIGION


There is an old belief with which every man who comes into the world
is endowed: it is the love and care of himself. We usually speak of
this love of the individual for himself in the past as paganism, and
we are accustomed to dismiss it as inevitable but not admirable.
Accordingly, to old Doctor Johnson, the spirit of self-assertion was
the spirit of the devil; and even when obeying its impulses we are
somewhat ashamed of them. This old paganism, though self-centered, was
not given over wholly to self-indulgence, as logically it perhaps
should have been. The Greeks knew as well as the moderns that
self-control was necessary even to health, and that self-denial was as
essential to life as any pleasure. But this faith or practice of
paganism hardly held a higher word than health--love of others, help
to others, self-sacrifice, were all supposed to be good or bad in so
far as they contributed to the perfect well-being of the individual
who was thus, so to speak, the center of gravity round which the
universe revolved.

Of course, such a belief could not hold the field forever. Buddha
boldly broke down the barriers and proclaimed the need of the soul,
the longing for self-sacrifice, the ecstasy of annihilation, the
passion for the great Peace. But Gautama was not in the direct line,
so to speak, of our development. We follow a nobler teaching.

Jesus brought into the world a new appeal and a new gospel. With
supreme confidence He addressed himself directly to the soul. Before a
world whose ideal was Pericles, He held up the innocence of a child
and preached pity, forgiveness, and love to men whose highest ideal
was moderation and justice. We owe Him the new commandment "that ye
love one another." And ever since, paganism and Christianity,
individualism and altruism, have been at war.

The growth of modern scientific knowledge strengthened the old pagan
belief in individualism astonishingly and in almost equal degree
weakened the sanction of Christianity. In other ways, too, science
undermined Christian teaching, made it impossible to believe in
Christian miracles, or in the resurrection of the body, or in a
life for the individual after death. Science made it ridiculous to
condemn the body and despise its desires. Instead of hating the body
and regarding it as lower than the spirit, science teaches us to keep
it in perfect health, for if the body is unhealthy or suffering, the
mind must be unhealthy and suffer as well. For almost half the
nineteenth century individualism was the religion of English
politics: it was believed that if each individual pursued his own
advantage and thought of nothing else, the whole society would prosper
exceedingly and win to perfect health, and curiously enough, this
same creed appeared in chemistry as the atomic theory. This
individualism buttressed by the growth of science and the scientific
spirit found an astonishing advocate in Friederich Nietzsche. It is
the fashion of the moment rather to jeer at this; but Nietzsche was
really a considerable force, perhaps as big a man as could hold so
one-sided a creed, and he is gifted with a controversial style of the
best, a sword of rarest edge and point.

He found words that went to the heart of the matter: "the immaculate
conception," he said, "maculates all other conceptions." Christianity,
with its acceptance of despotic government, its contempt of this world
and of the body and the pleasures of life is "a cowardly
slave-religion." Instead of the noble spirit of revolt which leads man
to improve his condition and surroundings, Christianity preaches a
tame and servile acceptance: "Render unto Caesar the things that are
Caesar's." Nietzsche's contempt for such a creed is vitriolic.
Besides, he does more than condemn: he voices an ideal; he wants a
superman who will solve all problems.

Now, if we look into our own hearts, we find ourselves agreeing with
much of Nietzsche; it is useless telling us to love our neighbors as
ourselves: we simply can't and don't. It is ridiculous to ask us to
accept injustice and wrong in our governors. The French Revolution
taught us that revolt, if not revenge, is the better method. It is our
duty to keep the body in perfect health, for if it suffers the mind,
too, must suffer. We love ourselves best, then probably some woman,
and then our children and long afterwards our relations, friends and
acquaintances, and we care little even for the vast majority of our
own countrymen, and still less for foreigners. These are the facts and
the mind must take account of facts.

It is plain to all of us that this love of self is necessary to our
self-preservation: without a good dose of it, we should starve, or
come to grief in some way or other. Nay, in the strife of life we
often find ourselves compelled to act as if we were even more selfish
than we are, to demand the lion's share of any booty, to show our
teeth and growl in order to get what we regard as our proper
proportion. Selfishness is a duty we owe ourselves and those we love.

And this scientific creed of selfishness has achieved so much that it
has become hopeful, a Gospel of Good Tidings. Nietzsche pushed his
hope to a belief in a superman who will go on from victory to victory,
and in time establish the kingdom of man upon earth in universal
well-being and happiness. But scarcely has the creed of individualism,
like the atomic theory, been formulated, before one becomes conscious
of its insufficiency and then of its limitations. In industry it led
to the heaping up of riches in a few hands and to the sordid misery of
the many.

The most selfish man recognizes now that selfishness is not the only
force; the most callous admits that there is a certain beauty and
persuasiveness in the creed of Jesus: "take no heed of the morrow":
"love one another": "judge not that ye be not judged": "Father,
forgive them for they know not what they do," and so forth.

The ordinary man says "it is a counsel of perfection" and tries now
and then fitfully to act up to this new and strange standard. The hold
this creed of unselfishness and love has on mankind is extraordinary.
By all reason it should die out rather than increase; for
unselfishness and self-sacrifice lead directly to death.

All the greatest teachers have held something like this belief and won
immortal honor by preaching it: Buddha, Mahomet, St. Francis. Now the
question is, is it possible to reconcile these antipodal passions of
humanity, these contradictory beliefs of Jesus and Nietzsche, or
must we take sides with one to the exclusion of the other.

Is there a higher synthesis which shall include both affirmations? And
lead us to a rational faith? We are beginning to find out that
so-called physical laws are laws also of thought, and may be traced
even in morals. One writes on the duty of "compromise" and immediately
one sees that compromise is known in physics as the law of least
resistance; another talks of original sin and teaches that progress is
due to effort, and we learn by experiment that the gorgeous roses of
our gardens, if left untended for twenty years, all go back to the
common dog-rose of our hedges from which they sprang. The doctrine of
original sin is nothing but the scientific creed of reversion to type.
Dimly one perceives that the law of gravitation governs human society
as it governs the stars, and is as true in the love of Jack and Jill
as in the belt of Orion.

In the heavens, order is kept by a balance between two almost
opposite forces, the centrifugal and centripetal forces. The
centrifugal force is the desire of the star to whirl off on its own,
so to speak, the energy of individual selfishness, and the centripetal
is the pull of the larger body on the smaller, or, if you like, the
love of the individual for society. Now is there any equilibrium to be
found in morals between these two forces? Is there any higher
synthesis, too, which shall unite and reconcile them both? First of
all, let it be said at once that these two apparently opposite forces
are merely two manifestations of the one force of gravitation. The law
is that the smaller is attracted by the larger body in proportion to
its mass and in inverse ratio to the square of the distance. But how
is the equilibrium to be kept in morals and in life? Between the creed
of Nietzsche and the creed of Jesus, between individualism and the law
of love?

Individualism, it seems to me, is justified so long as the individual
is growing. All the things it needs for its growth it is its duty to
get and to enjoy. When its growth is complete it should begin to act
for the whole and merge its own life in the whole. Selfishness is
justified in youth, in the growing time and not after maturity. Grow
and give is the law, or grow in order to give more.

Of course, even in youth a balance must be kept between our duty to
ourselves and our duty to others. It is seldom well to take for
ourselves, at the cost of pain to others perhaps, more than equivalent
to our pleasure: the noble-minded will try to keep on the credit side
of the balance.

Thus we establish a new theory of morals: whatever is needed by the
individual to bring his powers and talents to perfect ripeness he
should seek to obtain: that is his duty to himself and to the
universe.

And here we solve another problem, incidentally. Should more license
be permitted to the man of genius than to the ordinary man? People say
"no" but they are wrong: there is no such injustice as equality; the
great man once come to maturity will give more to humanity than the
smaller man and will almost infallibly demand and take more license
just as a larger body demands and will take more food and we are glad
to give it for the same reason.

He should, however, pursue selfish ends as far as possible without
inflicting suffering on others; when it is necessary to inflict it, it
should be done. "This is my mother and these are my brethren who do
the will of my Father."

One may say that this view of morals is generally acted upon:
parents help their children to develop their powers and in turn, when
the children become parents, they sacrifice themselves for their
children. The balance between the two forces is fairly well kept
already or the world would not go on.

But as communities grow larger and larger they are capable of
inflicting more and more injustice upon the individual and it is
well that the individual should know that his first duty is to himself
and to his growth. For thus alone will he become capable of giving to
his children or the state or humanity what he ought to give. The
centrifugal law is also a consequence of the attraction of
gravitation.

Nietzsche, with his individualism, is only right in a very limited
sense and to a small degree; in the deepest and most enduring sense
Christ is right: it is more blessed to give than to receive.

Now let us approach the problem in a different way. At the turn of the
century we were all Rationalists, a good many of us Rational
Determinists. We believed in the Reason and were bold to accept no
other authority. But lately we have come to see that the individual
reason is a poor guide and has in truth little or nothing to do either
with our loves or with our hates.

For example, let us take love itself as a test case. Our father may
point out to us that the girl we love has no money and comes of a poor
stock: we perfectly admit it should be easy to pick just as fine a
girl, or even finer, who has money to boot; but we can only answer "I
love this girl." Our mother can then prove that the girl is older than
we are and the discrepancy should be on the other side; or she is hot
tempered, or a flirt, or extravagant; we may have to admit the
accusation and yet all we can say is "I love this girl." Love laughs
at reason and is obeying some higher or, at any rate, some more
imperious law. With the most important choice in life, reason has
nothing to do: nay, if reason has anything to do with our choice in
love we are inclined to despise the result. The heart, we say, has a
higher authority.

Similarly in our deepest condemnation reason has no voice. Swift
proposed once in savage irony that as children were the chief product
of Ireland, it would be well to kill Irish babies and salt them down
for the English market. "They will grow up to misery and destitution,"
he said; "it would surely be better to kill them off painlessly and
turn their bodies to account as food." Now, the reason can find no
argument against this proposal. Babies would no doubt be very good
food: the children of the poor are devoted to a life of much hardship
and misery; so far as we can see, it would be well to salt down some
of the superfluous children and sell them as food. But against this
there is a fixed loathing in humanity, a prejudice stronger than any
reason. What is such a prejudice? It is probably the experience of a
thousand generations of men turned into flesh and blood; it is worth
ten millions of reasons and we bow to it at once.

The progress upward of humanity, we say, is like an army making its
way slowly up a perilously steep slope. Again and again .whole races
have slipped down into the abyss and been lost. It may be that our
high instinct to hold home and flesh sacred has prevented us from
perishing. Any way, the prejudice is there deep rooted, beyond
argument, deeper than reason in our heart of hearts.

But there are other prejudices which we feel at once have not this
validity, a prejudice, for instance, against eating snails, or a
deep prejudice against accepting colored people as our equals. How are
we to distinguish between the prejudice which is sacred and the
prejudice which is mere purblind prejudging an imperfectly understood
case. Some say you must call in the despised reason as supreme
arbiter, but that is not true; we judge dumbly by our feelings and not
by reason.

Let us give another instance. There are born into the world, in every
generation, a certain number of congenital idiots, often with the
most horrible bodily deformities: this poor boy has a nose reaching
to his waist: that girl a lower lip that falls on her breast. Reason
says they are no good: they should be put in a lethal chamber and done
away with peaceably. Instead of that we keep skilled doctors and
nurses to attend to them, and to minister to their needs: they are
well fed and well taken care of all the days of their miserable lives.
In some dumb instinctive way we feel that these poor creatures are the
scapegoats of humanity: they are bruised for our transgression and
with their stripes we are made whole; and so we take them into our
pity. And against all argument and all reason, that realm of pity is
growing and bound to grow.

Before the War a certain school of economists attacked charity and
proved that so and so much given in charity made another beggar, and
for a time this reasoning held sway with the selfish. But now there is
a revolt against it, and contempt for it: charity, we say, is one of
the divine virtues of the soul: it blesseth him that gives and him
that takes, and we will not be denied the practice of it.

Here are three or four crucial instances in which reason is a poor
guide or rather no guide at all, and in which the feelings or heart,
the whole being, is accepted as the supreme judge against reason.

I always liken the reason of man to that part of the iceberg that
stands out in the air and sunshine above the water. Nine-tenths of the
berg is below the water in the darkness. The reason decides that the
berg must not go to the south, for as it gets into the warmth it melts
to quick decay: but in spite of the reason, the berg moves south
steadily in obedience to a current of tendency which the reason
ignores and often condemns.

We don't know whither the stream of tendency is taking us; we can't
judge its power; we may not even feel it; but we are conscious of it
in our instinctive loves and instinctive hatreds. May there not be a
moral pressure on us like the pressure of the air which determines
our movements and influences all our actions, while leaving us
apparently free?

This is my conviction: now for the proof. We are growing very
conscious today. It is the glory of our age that we have for the first
time scientifically formulated the law of life, which is the law of
growth, not the law of happiness, but the law of growth even through
unhappiness. We progress from the simple to the complex. There is a
continual unfolding and development going on within us and without,
and whatever true happiness we get, we get in furthering this process.
We love, let us say, and get much joy from it: but as soon as our love
begins to limit our growth and thwart our development, we rebel and
rightly.

Not love even, not love itself, should be permitted to hinder our
progress upwards and outwards, our growth. Shakespeare has the word
here, the word of modern science:

    "Men must endure
  Their going hence even as their coming hither,
  _Ripeness is all_."

But is ripeness all? Are we to bring virtues and faults to ripeness?
There is a higher word than "ripeness": let us open our ears to hear
it. It was said nearly twenty centuries ago: "_Be ye perfect_."

But how shall we know that we are growing and making progress towards
perfection? First of all by our comprehension of the great men who
have lived in the world, and by our growing love and reverence for the
greatest. We can only grow up, so to speak, through them; that doesn't
mean that we have to imitate them or even possess their talents, but
that our growth is sure to take us sooner or later to their level.

As we approach their stature, we begin to feel that our kinship with
them demands proofs in some notable performance. What they have given
to men we must equal or, if possible, surpass. And then the great
struggle begins.

Since Heine, the struggle is always one for the liberation of Man, and
we know even better than Heine that every blow struck for freedom will
recoil on our own heads.

Will you take part in the fight between the Haves and the Havenots?
You may be sure, beforehand, that the Haves will punish you
hatefully, while the Havenots won't even know that you fought for
them.

Will you lead the fight against hypocrisy and prudery? Do you forget
that half a dozen free-speaking poems cost Whitman his government
position at Washington and threw him penniless on to the street? Yet
he had distinguished himself in war as in peace: can you hope for
better treatment?

Whosoever will serve his fellowman has to pay for it and pay in exact
proportion to the value of his help: if you are among the great and
act greatly, then the Cross or the cup of hemlock will be handed to
you.

No wisdom can save you from the penalty: your one consolation must be
that they will not say worse of you than they said of Socrates before
you: they accused him of corrupting the young; great age shall not
save you from the same insult. But after all what does it matter?

  "Better men fared thus before thee."

After all, great enterprises are their own rewards. However high we
toil, there are still foot-prints in front of us and our forerunners
were of the noblest.

I might go into a long argument to show that such self-sacrificing
work is part only of the debt we owe to human society. We get so much
from it that we could never make for ourselves; so much from the
unnumbered millions, the unknown races even that have preceded us on
this earth.

Think of it! No one, under the most favorable circumstances, could,
by any effort of his own, live as well as the ordinary middle-class
person lives today, and to live at all he would have to labor
ceaselessly. Nine-tenths of all that he has or can get is given him by
those who have gone before; true, they have also left certain
deformities in mind and body, certain drunkards, thieves,
murderers,--pimples, so to speak, on the face of the body politic: are
we not to accept these trifling drawbacks, too, and treat them sanely?
Now, how do you treat pimples? You don't punish them or even touch
them rudely: you regard them as a sign that the body is not in
perfect condition; you institute reforms, come nearer to righteous
living, and if they still persist in appearing, what do you do? You
bear them patiently and give them more care and attention than you do
the healthy portions of your frame.

This is all the reasoned consequence of that new commandment:

  Love one another.

We have, perhaps, set down enough of these vagrant thoughts.




PART FOUR

PASSIONS

AN EXECUTION IN PARIS


I had heard about Henry, the anarchist, from one of his friends, had
been told of his wild idealism and quaint beliefs, of his kindness,
too, and amiability, and suddenly a journalist acquaintance, H.B.,
asked me to go with him to witness the execution. I had never seen
one: reason or curiosity suggested that it was an experience which
perhaps I ought to go through: it might teach me something: in an evil
hour I made up my mind to go.

I got the journalist's special permission without any difficulty,
besides my _coupe-file_; I was to go with two or three Parisian
writers; one of them, the gigantic H.B., declared that it was usual to
make a night of it; he proposed we should sup first on the spot, and
then go down to the show. I allowed myself to be persuaded; we supped
in a room looking on the fatal square; my friends told stories, talked
about other executions, did everything to pass the time, but time
crawled on leaden feet. When I first looked at my watch (my heart was
in my mouth) I thought it must be four o'clock; it was barely two.

The window was thrown open, the night was clear and starlit, a faint
breeze sighed across the void square. There was a certain animation in
the Place: the windows were lighted, the cafes all doing brisk
business. As I looked towards the dark prison my whole inside seemed
to shrink: almost I made up my mind to say that I would not stay; but
a sort of false shame was upon me, and the old foolish arguments came
back--experiences enrich life and so forth--I turned again to the
room.

The talk began again, and the meaningless stories, chiefly now mere
egoistic braggings. I sat and watched my friends; they seemed to me mv
real, grotesque masks; I wondered whether Henry was sleeping or
waking; what his thoughts were. ... My heart was wrung with pity.

It was H.B. who turned my thought and distracted my attention by
telling of a new play he had written for some little theater on an
outside boulevard. It was a gruesome story, but splendidly mimed,
and the telling of it and the discussion it led to relieved me of the
obsession of the one thought. Interested in my turn, I forgot.. ..

All of a sudden we heard the tramp of men: again the windows were
thrown open, and we looked out. It was near dawn; the stars were
paling. A crowd now fringed the _Place_, and in the center the
Republican Guard had made a cordon, a great square, which was kept
free, save for perhaps a dozen or twenty people, who, I was told, were
journalists like ourselves. All the preparations oppressed me: I could
scarcely draw my breath; the waiting was terrible. I felt it, weak
with apprehension. I was afraid to think of the condemned man; I hoped
he was sleeping--unconscious. But I could not help seeing, feeling,
thinking. . . .

In the square the crowd talked, laughed; snatches of song broke out
from windows near, or wild whoopings, "_A bas l'assassin_!" The beat
was taken up--"_l'assassin, l'assassin, l'assassin_," the first two
syllables pronounced quickly, the third dwelt upon--a ghastly
imitation of the three knocks at the theater to show that the audience
was becoming impatient--"_l'assassin, I'as-sassin_." The brutes!
I thought, the brutes! It suddenly struck me that this ribaldry was
perhaps a pretense in order to remove the dreadful apprehension
that was weighing me down, that must be weighing everyone
down. But I was mistaken: the exclamations grew more frequent, the
witticisms riper, and behind all the vile refrain rose more
imperious--"_l'assassin, l'assassin_!" More people tried to sing;
shrieks of laughter pealed out here and there; squeals as of women
tickled, and all the while--"_l'assassin, l'assassin, l'assassin_!"

The incongruity between what went on around us and the menacing silent
square and the gloomy prison front was too horrible. I said weakly:

"I've had enough of this: I'll go home to bed."

"Nonsense, nonsense!" my friends cried. "The fun's going to begin."
Fun! "M. de Paris will arrive soon. Here he is! On time always!"

A burst of cheering rose from the square and the open windows, and,
fascinated, I watched the great fourgons drive up and enter the
guarded enclosure.

"Let's go down, or we'll be too late," proposed H.B.

The bill was called for and paid; and we trooped down the stairs and
made our way as quietly as possible through the crowd into the central
guarded square: "_Pardon, monsieur; pardon, madame_." The people
made way....

The executioner and his assistants had begun to set up the guillotine.
We walked inside the file of soldiery, inside the picket of mounted
men, and stood looking on. The men worked very quickly. While the
assistants were putting up the guillotine I noticed that time, which
had been so laggard, was now racing; everything was done swiftly,
silently; not a pause, not a check any where; the men seemed to be
racing; piece moved to piece, the thing went together of itself, and
soon the hideous bare outline was there against the pale sky and the
dying stars. I could hear my heart thump--that wicked triangle--the
long, slanting edge against the pale turquoise sky. . . .

The executioner went over and pressed a button, and the knife fell
with a swish. I almost choked. Another touch, and the knife slid up
into its place again. The deadly blade was eager to be at work: it was
all ready, waiting--my mouth was dry with fever.

Scarcely had the guillotine been erected and tried when a sharp order
was given, and the soldiers began to move the crowd back. One saw
faces everywhere: eager, curious faces, framing us in; terrible faces,
pallid, gray, menacing!

And still time hurried and the sky got lighter and lighter, and
suddenly there was a loud word of command, and at once the square of
soldiers opened out, and we saw straight to the prison. A moment's
pause, and there came a clang, and the prison doors flew open, and in
the black hollow a little group of men appeared, hurrying towards us.
I could have shrieked. Insensibly, we were drawn towards them. I could
scarcely keep up with the rest; but I was in a trance: life had
stopped still with me. . . . Suddenly the knot of men was quite close
to me, the priest in front of Henry, who kept waving him away; the
priest moved backward, repeating phrases--prayers, in a distressed,
quick monotone. I could see the sweat of the man's forehead--ghastly!
Again Henry waved him aside, and as he moved I saw him. His face was
not white, but green, a sort of greenish yellow, the eyes set! The
shirt had been cut away from round the neck in jagged cuts; his mouth
was pressed together, his eyes fixed--staring. Suddenly I felt that he
was staring at the guillotine, and the solid ground waved under my
feet. There might have been resolution in his face: there was
resolution in it--a man's resolution; but his feet had been tied
together so tightly that he could scarcely hobble. Every time he
attempted to step like a man he stumbled, and had to be held up by the
men walking on either side of him who hurried him along. ... It was
all degrading, dreadful!

Suddenly shouts broke forth, wild shriekings. "_A bas l'assassin!
L'assassin a la veuve! A la veuve_!" Shrieks of inhuman triumph, of
gloating expectation. Were these human beings?

Henry stopped, and his eyes fell on them; the next moment he was
pushed forward almost on his face, then held up from falling, and
hurried on, dragged and pushed forward. The needless appalling
indignity of it!

I followed unconscious; I was standing by the guillotine. The two
assistants caught hold of Henry, and pulled him roughly to the
bascule. One stooped, tying his legs to it; the other slid the strap
round his chest and buckled it. Haste, breathless haste! Suddenly the
bascule operated, and instead of standing he was slung forward on his
face: his head was in the lunette, but not through; an assistant on
the other side got hold of his ears in both hands and dragged his head
through--tore it through into position. The next second he moved back,
withdrawing his hands quickly; the executioner stepped forward, one
glance to see that all was in order, then he touched the button. Again
the swish as of tearing silk and the head jumped forward from the body
into the basket like a carrot chopped off with a knife, while the
trunk spouted streams of blood. The next moment the body was cast off
and flung into the basket, too, and while we stood appalled at the
ghastly speed of it all, unable to think as quickly as the event, the
assistants had begun to take the whole thing to pieces, and H.B.
caught me by the arm: "Quick work, eh?"

I could not speak: my tongue stuck to my dry mouth. I gasped for
breath; the others were talking around me, the crowds outside singing
and laughing as they dispersed.

"The savages!" I said to myself. "The brute beasts! Oh, the brutes!
They can shout and laugh;" and again I saw the man trying to be brave
and dragged forward, stumbling. . . . Oh, what brutes men are!





A STRANGE STORY OF LOVE


I wish to end this book with a story that was sent to me while I was
editing _Pearson's Magazine_ in New York. I consider it the most
interesting love story that has come to me from America and in
certain ways very characteristic. The noble and generous
self-abnegation of the uncle is in harmony with the best spirit of
America, the America of Whitman and Phillips and Lincoln.

The problem of love and sex is a most difficult one. In my
autobiography I have tried to speak plainly and truthfully and have
been perversely misunderstood. Some day man will discuss all sex
problems freely as they should be discussed and then a happier
existence for mankind on earth will be possible.

I am sure the reader will find the whole story human and kindly and
sensible; a forecast of that good time coming when wild jealousies and
hatreds shall be regarded as insanities.

My dear Frank Harris:

I have been reading your writings for years and have read practically
everything you have written, all that I could get my hands on. This
is my first communication to you. When one nears fifty and looks back
at life, he is not liable to have many pangs of conscience, because
one sees the little things sink into the larger whole. I am prompted
to write soley because I have had some unique experiences; stranger
than fiction, you will say, I believe, when you read the story. I have
never read a case like mine even in fiction, so I am giving it to
Frank Harris with permission to use it as a theme for a story, should
he see fit so to do. Very naturally I write anonymously, as I would
not wish to run the risk of hurting those near and dear to me, who are
part of my life.

I am not a literary person so will tell the story just as briefly as I
can.

I was born in California, my father and mother being of the race of
hardy pioneers that made the Golden State. My father died when I was
ten years old and my mother when I was twelve. I was "adopted" by an
aunt, a sister of my mother, who was the wife of a prominent physician
and surgeon. This uncle and aunt, for such I will call them, had been
married for nearly twenty years but had no children, although both of
them, I came to know, had always desired children.

Few boys have been blessed with as happy a home as this uncle and aunt
made for me. Possibly my aunt might have spoiled me, but my uncle
was made of sterner stuff and brought me up as I believe a boy should
be brought up. My uncle had been a crack athlete in his younger days
and was still interested in athletics and preached the gospel of
exercise to his patients. He was an expert swimmer, a splendid
oarsman, both of which arts he taught me. We lived near the ocean, and
there was a splendid little bay, or slough, where we went boating and
canoeing. This, together with baseball on the near-by lot, and later
with the school team, kept me very well occupied and my mind free from
many of the vicious things that often crowd in on a boy's mind not
otherwise occupied. I was my uncle's constant companion; I considered
him an ideal man. He was not a religious man, nor was my aunt a
religious woman though both of them were members of the neighboring
Episcopal Church, which I attended from time to time.

As I got up to fourteen or so my uncle started to tell me some things
"a boy should know." As I look back at it now, I cannot see that these
talks had very much influence on me, except, perhaps, to make me feel
that what my uncle said was right. He was so far removed from what we
boys used to term a "kill joy" that I was always inclined to do the
very thing he wanted me to do. Now, do not think from this I was an
angel. Far from it. But that wonderful uncle of mine knew well the
psychology of boy life, and he never antagonized me, but led me by the
right path without my knowing it. Then, too, as I look back at it
further, my life was so full of physical activities that I had no time
for any other thought. If my uncle went hunting, I went with him,
though from my very earliest years I had the strongest repugnance to
killing. I did learn to shoot, largely because my uncle wanted me to
learn, and it gave me an opportunity to be with him when he went to
tramp the hills, or go in the boat to hunt ducks on the slough.

At fourteen I was in high school, and at fifteen my good aunt died. My
uncle was quite stunned; in fact, for a time it was thought he would
go insane. He cared nothing for his practice. Fortunately, he was in
partnership with two other splendid physicians, who helped him out a
great deal.

Nevertheless, as the months went by after my aunt's death, he cared
less and less for his practice, and he made up his mind quite suddenly
to go to Europe for further study. He had spent several years of
student life in Europe in his post graduate work. He would not hear of
being separated from me. And so I went to Europe with him. He was in
London a few months, then in Paris a year and in Vienna another year.
I had a private tutor in Paris, with whom I kept up my studies fairly
well. Very naturally I picked up French very easily and quickly. In
Vienna I had also a private teacher and from him I learned German.
Perhaps my other studies were somewhat neglected, as my uncle made me
his constant companion in nearly all his trips through Europe. We saw
Europe quite thoroughly. Then my uncle returned to America and resumed
his practice.

I again entered high school, but although I knew French and German, I
was deficient in my mathematics and science. I had decided I wanted to
be a physician and surgeon like my uncle, in which he very much
encouraged me. It was a large high school I was attending and there
were several special teachers for just such pupils as I was. I was
then nearly eighteen years of age, and large for my age, being over
six feet tall and weighing 175 pounds. My coach in mathematics and
English was a young teacher, just out of college. She was only
slightly over twenty-three years of age and I fell desperately in love
with her. She could do anything with me. I studied hard to please her
and made a very good student indeed. I was constantly singing her
praises to my uncle. And of course he very soon made her acquaintance,
and he admired her even more than I did. I will not go into
details, but a very few months from the time my uncle met her they
were married. At first it was an awful blow to me. But I was young and
buoyant, and I believe I got over it.

Looking back through the years at it now, I believe I was reconciled
to it because it made my uncle happy and it made her happy, seemingly.
She was a splendid "mother" to me, and she made an ideal wife for my
uncle. I finished high school with a brilliant record, thanks to her
very competent coaching. I was then twenty-one, a man physically
strong and robust as an ox. On account of my environment (perhaps), I
had experienced very little difficulty from my sex life. My whole
'teen period was so filled with physical activities that sex rarely
intruded itself. In those days dancing was not the vogue for young
folks that it is today, and the moving pictures were not here to
sophisticate the minds of us young ones as it does the minds of the
youth of today. I had many girl friends, but no sweetheart. My "case"
with the woman my uncle married perhaps arrested this development of
the sex expression towards other women.

At last graduation day arrived and I was the valedictorian of our
class. We had had a week of brilliant social affairs for the high
school, winding up with the reception of our diplomas. My uncle and
aunt were present, but my uncle had to leave immediately after the
diplomas were awarded as he was leaving for the South to be gone a
week or ten days, attending a medical convention.

My aunt and I came back home somewhere towards midnight. Our bedrooms
were upstairs in rather an old-fashioned house. I had received a
"wagon-load" of presents and remembrances from friends on my
graduation day, and so my aunt was in and out of my room looking at
this and that present, and with this and that comment about what I had
received. And I would go back and forth to her room as some new thing
would occur to my mind to tell her about the events of the past week.
And during the process of it all we were both preparing for bed. As I
look back at it through the years I am sure now that there was no
thought of sex in my mind. I would go into her room, sit on the side
of her chair or on the bed with her, and she would come into my room
and do the same. My uncle was rather adverse to my smoking, and I
had not acquired the habit until I was well past twenty. This night I
was smoking a cigarette sitting in an easy chair in my room when my
aunt came in again. I was all undressed and in my pajamas, as the
night was warm. She came in and sat down on my lap. Well, I need not
go into details as to what happened, but happen it did, and that
night I was born a man. And until my uncle returned it was a continual
love feast. My sex nature suddenly awoke and could not be satisfied,
it would seem. Again and again we had our wild delirium of maddest
love. I cannot describe it all.

I say I was born a man, and with it came a kind of "cunning," shall I
say, to play the man's part. I felt guilty, yes! I was remorseful at
times, but when in her dear arms I felt fully justified for all that
happened. Her sex nature was pent up too, for I was later to learn
that my uncle was not strong sexually. I do not know how I got through
meeting uncle. I have only a hazy remembrance of all that was said and
done. My uncle had an eye like a hawk and could look one through.
However, he said nothing. And during the few months that elapsed
before I left for college, we kept up our clandestine love affair.
This was easy, as my uncle was away from home a good deal.

I was only a month in college when she wrote to tell me that she was
in the family way. My uncle, she said, was delighted. And then the
Christmas homecoming! I cannot tell you how I got through all that.
Then the next summer when I was home a little boy was born, my boy, I
was absolutely certain. It was ten days old before I could get to see
it, as the baby was born in a hospital. And when I saw the mother for
the first time after the baby was born, fortunately no one was near.
We had a long and sweet embrace. And the years went by, and the
opportunities were made the most of, and in my closing year of college
a little girl came.

Then I went to Europe for two years of study, and my aunt and uncle
were to visit me the first winter in Europe. Towards the spring,
though, they had not come, and letters from both uncle and aunt told
me of my uncle's illness, and then in the closing days of my first
year's activities abroad I received a cable that my uncle had died.

I caught the first steamer homeward. They held the body in a vault
until I returned. The bank opened my uncle's safe-deposit box and
found his will. He had left the property to his wife and children. A
sealed envelope was in the safe-deposit box for me. I opened it. It
contained an account of the stewardship of the property left me by my
parents, and inside another sealed letter. I opened this and the
contents certainly dumfounded me. Nothing had been hidden from my
uncle. He told me plainly and bluntly that he knew I was the father of
"his" two children, did not blame me in the least, but merely added
that he knew I would do the right thing to all concerned. He wished me
to have his instruments and his practice. He had nothing but words of
love and tenderness for his wife and the children. He said she had
been a good wife to him. Great generous soul! How much I owe him!

There was never a word of scandal about the whole affair. My "aunt's"
mother came to live with us and after a year we were quietly married.
Two other boys came to bless our home. A truer or more faithful wife
no man could expect than my wife has been. And for myself, until I
went to Europe, she was the only woman I had ever had sexual
intercourse with. In Europe for the first few months I had the usual
wild riot of student life. Since our marriage the thought of another
woman has never entered into my head. In later years I was to finish
my post graduate work in Europe, and had the pleasure of the company
of my wife and family. And what a joy I had in my first boy! He was
truly what you should expect a child of love to be. He was of the most
amiable disposition I ever knew in a human being.

And then the big war. My boy was a student in college. Naturally he
entered the officers' training course and was among the first to go
to Europe. I volunteered as a physician and surgeon and fortunately
was accepted. I went to New York just prior to my son's sailing. He
did not know the day or the hour. And the last night we were together
we slept together. We had been out to the theater and came
back. When he had retired I took him in my arms, as I often did when
he was a wee lad, and I told him the whole story. It was hard telling,
but the boy understood, said he knew and felt always that I was his
dad. And then he was off and weeks after I was to follow. My boy was
wounded over there, but I had the good fortune to get to him and
operate on him and I believe I saved his life.

Well, the war is all over now. My boy got well. We are all back home
and reunited again. My boy is married, happily married, I believe, and
I am lately a grandpa. My daughter is a wonderful musician, and the
other two boys are just ordinary, fair average, but nothing brilliant
like my first two children, who were the fruits of love.

And again I say, as I look back at it all, I cannot see what there
is to regret. My conscience is at ease. Who was injured? My wife was
at that time of her life in that impetuous mood that perhaps another
man entering her life might have ruined her. A sweeter, purer wife and
mother never lived than my wife. Hammer home to the world that real
youthful passion is verily the fire of the gods and in that passion of
purest love, if a race was born, it would be a race of gods. Some day
the world will see it.

I have finished. I have tried to tell the story as simply as I could.
Did I do wrong, Frank Harris? I know that each one must answer to
himself and my conscience is very much at ease.

A Reader.

P.S.--One thing I did intend to say, and that was that from the very
night I became a man the world looked differently. An almost complete
physiological change came over me. I was a far more brilliant scholar
in college than I ever was in high school. That wonderful sexual
energy must have a rational outlet. We may sublimate it by directing
it into other channels of activity, but I do believe that at certain
times the actual physical contact with the right woman is absolutely
necessary to a man if he is to achieve his best. Say something to us
on this subject.



THE END




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