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Title: Spain, Canada, And Other Topics Author: Edgar Wallace * A Project Gutenberg Australia eBook * eBook No.: 1200141.html Language: English Date first posted: January 2012 Date most recently updated: January 2012 This eBook was produced by: Roy Glashan Project Gutenberg Australia eBooks are created from printed editions which are in the public domain in Australia, unless a copyright notice is included. We do NOT keep any eBooks in compliance with a particular paper edition. Copyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the copyright laws for your country before downloading or redistributing this file. This eBook is made available at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg Australia License which may be viewed online at http://gutenberg.net.au/licence.html
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Unless otherwise specified, the articles in this collection were originally published in the Daily Mail. The texts given here are reproduced from newspapers published in New Zealand. The scanned versions can be viewed at the "PapersPast" website, which is maintained by the National Library of New Zealand. A link to the digitised version of each article is provided via the attribution line following the article's title.
Quebec is a bit of old France transplanted across the ocean; Montreal is twentieth-century American in the middle of the street tapering off to Louis Quinze sidewalks; Toronto is openly, unblushingly American in a hustling, unwearying fashion—this you will find if you do business in this queen of cities. Toronto is also aggressively British, and Orange at that.
Exactly whether the anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne is observed I cannot say, but this I know—Toronto is Orange.
Ottawa is the cleanest of little towns. Here England and France hold equal sway, and here every man you meet who is not a Civil servant is a Yankee drummer.
Leave behind you Montreal and Quebec, Ottawa, and Toronto, and the lesser towns about. Go north from Toronto, straight up the map to where the Canadian Pacific Railway bustling westward forms the never-ending top line of a capital "T."
IN HIAWATHA'S LAND
Go to bed on the couch that has, at a porter's magic touch, sprung into existence from nowhere in particular, and sleep. You will run so easily that you will doubt the man who tells you the number of miles per hour you are travelling.
In the morning you will awake and find yourself in Canada. Not the Canada, you have been visiting this past three weeks; not the Canada of tall smokestacks belching bellowing blackness; of broad, straight streets and ten- storied stores—but the Canada you have read about, dreamt about; the Canada that your youthful imaginings people with hooked-nosed red men in the wholesale scalp business. Straight young trees all crimson and gold trembling in their gaudiness; lush grasslands sloping to little white-frothed torrents. Great rugged kopjes with firs atop and a hundred varieties of vegetation softening the harsh outlines of their bases. Hollows and hills and thick, clustering copses. Here a rushing rapid and there a big placid stretch of lake with little wooded isles and tree-grown shores.
Your fancy will people the waste as the train flashes westward. Here, by the side of this dancing, darting, whirling, rock-fretted current might well have lived and loved the dusky Minnehaha. Stealing through this little wood,into which the train plunges for a minute and then throws backward might easily have come Hiawatha, himself. You get a momentary glimpse of a squirrel, a comical furry streak that flies at the train's approach.
THE BOOK OF NATURE
"Do not shoot me, Hiawatha," you murmur unconsciously. All day long you will travel with your unopened book on your knees reading the great story of nature in the ever-changing pictures of Manitou Himself. 0 the joy of it! that first day's ride westward.
Stand on the observation platform and watch the track drawn from under you; watch trees and stones and hills and lakes fly backward and disappear at each fresh turn of the road. Watch the horizon of the greak lake, watch the purple-blue islands, and the daintily scalloped bays, and the rivers splashing over tiny Niagaras in their haste to join this fresh-water sea. Feel the keen autumn air and catch the glorious scent of the pines and you will not nave lived in vain.
Day will follow day. Portage, lake, river, road, hill, river, township, lake, portage, wood, lake—so they will follow end on end. No two rivers quite the same. Some choked with a thousand jumbled logs, some clear and still, and black with the shadows of overhanging trees. Some racing and roariag between rocks that show up like the blackened fangs of some submerged leviathan. No two towns; no two hills, or woods, or clearings; each characteristic of its peculiar self. Nature broke the mould of each wild thing she shaped. The eye does not weary nor the mental palate clog of this over- loveliness.
THE CHICAGO OF CANADA
The country is one great flat expanse, patchily wooded and decorously watered—how sedately the streams roll hereabouts! Then, before the flatness becomes monotonous or the wheat-bearing qualities of the black-turned earth can be fully explained by the Yankee drummer in the smoking room, the train runs through the outskirts of a township, which proves to be a town, which, as solid stone buildings spring across the line of vision, and electric tramway-cars pause in their wild flight to let us pass, proves to be the city of Winnipeg, the Chicago of Canada.
Canada is proud of Winnipeg—although not quite so proud as Winnipeg is of itself. There is a mild jealousy between towns in the East. When they wish to be very nasty they speak slightingly of the hustling qualities of each other.
"But," says Toronto—"But," says Quebec—"But," say Montreal, Ottawa, Hamilton, London, and Windsor—"if you want to see a Real Live Typical Canadian city, a city that will Open your Eyes and make you Marvel, go to Winnipeg!"
And that is just what Winnipeg is. It is very real. It is very much alive—except on Sundays, when it atones in tiptoeing silence for its youthful indiscretions—and it is very typical of this young nation of Canada. It is the new Canada, the Canada of to-morrow.
THE PRIDE OF THE DOMINION
Montcalm and Wolfe, Quebec and the Heights of Abraham, the historical richness of the East are things apart. Tbe East stood for civilisation; now it stands for settled orderliness. Not that the West is any the less law-abiding than the East. But it is so boundless, so vast, so illimitable, so wondrously potential that the older provinces of the Dominion, cramped by routine, narrowed by invariable system, and made small in Western eyes by the knowledge of their limitations, are regarded as but appendants to the West. And Winnipeg is the key of the West, the heart of it, the barometer of its prosperity.
In Winnipeg you get no chance of showering encomiums on the city. The baggage man who takes your traps from the depot gives you a précis of the history of Winnipeg, the elevator-boy contrives between the first and the fourth floors to inculcate a knowledge of the relative importance of Winnipeg and the rest of Canada, The chambermaid, depositing clean towels in your room, lingers at the door to deliver a disquisition on the Rise and Growth of Winnipeg, with some Remarks on Its Remarkable Future. The polite clerk who registers you, the imposing barber who removes the three-day stubble from your chin, the bell-boy who brings you distressing cablegrams from headquarters, all contribute their quota to your education, and the head waiter, as he arranges your serviette before you, leans over the back of your chair and asks in a respectful whisper. "What do you think of Winnipeg?"
MONTREAL, Canada, November 7, 1903
I was asleep when I tumbled out of a Pullman on to an almost deserted platform. I dreamt still of the morning glories of the Hudson river, the sheer, green-dappled banks, and the broad, lordly stream; the blue Katskill Mountains rising fold on fold, the hidden heights of the Adironacks, the wondrous beauty of the autumnal foliage, and the grey lakes in the twilight of the forests. It was one long, confused dream.
I dozed as I handed my keys to the Custom-house officer, and what time he was laying bare the mysteries of my wardrobe I was mentally surveying the bleak baggage-room for something comfortable to sit on. In a haze I walked to my cab and sank blissfully into its snuggest corner. It was the driver who roused me to wakefulness "Où vous descendrai-je, m'sieu?" he asked.
Then it was that I knew my journey from New York was indeed completed, and I was in Canada. It is one of the annoyances that beset the path of the travelling Imperialistic Britisher that there is something in the language or custom of nearly every British dependency calculated to impress him with his own crass ignorance. It is so much simpler and easier to be a stay-at-home Little Englander, to ignore the Colonies as factors in our national life, to dismiss their importance with a wave of the hand, and settle their complex problems—conveniently translated into English by obliging partisans—with a stroke of the pen.
Because if you want to get down to bedrock principles, to investigate conditions and grievances at first hand, you must, before you start off on your quest, take a thorough course in languages, which will include French, Dutch, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Hindustani, Tamil, Chinese, Asiatic, Greek, and about three hundred separate and distinct native dialects. Thus will you be able to hold converse with your fellow-subjects the Empire over from Canada to Cyprus, and from Hong-Kong to Gibraltar.
Here in Montreal a somewhat fragmentary knowledge of the "taal" helps me not at all. For two-thirds of the citizens are French, the policemen, the postmen, the very elevator boys in your hotel speak but broken English, and the more influential portion of the city's Press is printed in the language that the unintelligent Englishman associates with menus. This is a fact forcibly brought home to the unlettered stranger, for whom the oft-repeated warning in park and square, "Ne passez pas sur le gazon," has no especial terrors, so that he will transgress with a blissful tranquility of mind until a kindly policeman brings hian back to what are literally the paths of righteousness.
And this is Montreal: Imagine a beautifully-dressed woman, in down-at- heel slippers, or a city of noble buildings—and primitive roadways; imagine a city with cathedrals built on the plan of St. Peter's at Rome and Nôtre Dame of Paris—-with wooden side-walks. Electric cars whiz over corded roads, and broughams and motor-cars jolt unevenly along the tree- fringed avenues. Montreal is the worst-paved city in the world, considering its pretensions, considering, too, that here we have the New York of Canada, the London of the West.
Perhaps the former title better suits this mother of cities. French- American she is essentially. Forget, the fact that orchestras play "God Save The King" at the end of performances: that that population's loyalty to the Throne, is unquestionable—forget these, and there will be no single thing to remind you that you are on British soil. The stamp of America is on the town and on one-third of the people, and Holy Rome looks down from a dozen emulating spires and turrets with a benign eye upon the faithful majority.
American in commerce, American in habit—we drink ice-water for breakfast and in driving keep to the right—American in speech, in thought, and—except for the reverence it has for the Throne and Person—in sentiment, it promises, if it be the microcosm of a composite Dominion, to render the student's path by no means one of roses.
For here in Montreal you have every evidence of a dominant Roman Catholicism, a religious dictatorship, a power which, scornful of dissemblance and fearless of criticism, might well stand behind a Government or a people indicating its requirements and urging its demands, strong within the unassailable battlements of its sanctity.
For good or for ill the power of the priesthood stands as a very real and tangible factor in the future of this Colony. For good one cannot but think, since the traditions of Canada are made glorious by the memory of her brave priests' deeds, and since foremost among her pioneers went these pale-faced, dark-eyed priests, carrying with that fearlessness which is equally shared by fanatic and fatalist the elements of Christianity to the wigwams of the Iroquois. And since Montreal owes its very existence to the attempt made a century ago to form a veritable kingdom of God on American soil, the manifestation of this ideal cannot fail to be gratifying to those who believe—as some do—that the progress of a country is naturally coincident with the prosperity of the Roman Church.
I have spoken of Montreal as being the New York of Canada, and it does seem, from ite very position, that not only will it be to Canada what New York is to the States—as indeed it already is—but in course of time, remembering the enormous resources of Canada, it will be equal in wealth, population, and importance. Like New York, practically an island town, it has greater opportunities for expansion, and if it has the disadvantage of being closed to river traffic for certain months in the year owing to its frozen waters, it is far nearer to a free seaboard—free in a purely climatic sense—than is that other great lake town, Chicago.
The French-Canadian of Montreal cares little enough for the future; lives very much for to-day. See him, clean-shaven, sharpfeatured, somewhat sallow, and wearing his hair in a sleek, rigidly-trimmed bunch at the back of his head. Slightly below the medium height, yet a man of some brawn; lithe and alert in his movements, voluble and buoyant in his speech, remarkably expressive in his gesticulations—a Frenchman who can ride, shoot, swim, or row—that is the French-Canadian. He is much more of an athlete than his brother across the Channel. He is less emotional, cooler-headed, and has such a fund of common sense as to almost denationalise him. Essentially be is a Frenchman, and yet—
Perhaps it is that he has absorbed something of the qualities of his English neighbor; perhaps its is only that he is French and not Parisian—we sometimes confuse the types. At any rate, he is an excellent companion this Frenchman. When he gets over the natural suspicion with which all Continental races regard the Englishman he will become expansive.
The cable messages have given some slight indication of the deep feeling of resentment felt by Canada at the recent judgment of the Alaska Arbitration Tribunal, but though the newspapers raged and gave "scare-head" captions to their articles upon the subject it would appear that the elder colony of the Empire maintained a very dignified and sensible moderation over the judicial reverse which her people so keenly felt. The utterances of her leading statesmen have shown that the tie with the Motherland will survive the strain of many Alaskan awards. It is interesting, however, to learn how Canadian sentiment was affected by the decree of the Commission, and this is graphically told by Mr Edgar Wallace, the able war correspondent of the Daily Mail, who happened to be in the Dominion at the time. Mr Wallace writes:
"To deny that Canada is at the present moment boiling over with honest wrath would be to deny that she possesses any sense of rectitude, and that the spirit which she has inherited from the Motherland, that abhorrence of injustice which made a teapot of Boston Harbor, is still existent. How it strikes you at Home I cannot gauge, but here in the heart of the Dominion, where every man's first thought is of his country and where patriotism swamps the personal equation, to one catching the spirit of the people, and in one's sympathy unconsciously expatriating oneself from Britain, there comes a momentary glimpse of that inbred distrust of Englishmen and English methods that is characteristic of the colonial attitude toward the Mother Country.
"Rightly or wrongly—I am too near Hades to take a dispassionate view of the Higher Criticism—the decision of the Commission has widened the cracks and fissures in the Imperial fabric to such an extent that one holds one's breath lest a little extra strain should rend the structure from crown to base, and split this great Empire as easily as lightning might cleave an oak. You have only to think how near we have been to losing South Africa when it was the toss of a penny whether or not the Vierkleur should float from Capetown to the Zambesi; you have only to remember how we lost the great country that lies to the south of Canada and to realise that the hundred years that have brought the steam engine and the electric telegraph have not changed emotional mankind—since emotions are not a matter of education, and the feelings of the man who slips on the sidewalk are identical with those of William of Normandy who tripped on the English foreshore—to know that British injustice—as we see it here—has again set a colony aflame with impotent rage, and the work of the last few years of sane Downing street administration has been undone, in as few minutes.
"You may talk to the Canadian until your breath fails, and you will never convince him that Great Britain is not prepared at all times to sacrifice Canadian interests to gain the goodwill of the United States. Despite your Anglo-American societies, your flag-wagging, musical-hall outbursts of foolish sentimentality, the eternal clap-trap of the destinies of the Anglo-Saxon races—meaning the Anglo-American races—the Canadian knows what you in England do not know: that commercially and naturally the Yankee is the worst enemy Great Britain has in the world; that nowhere is England more hated, that nowhere in the world was news of British disasters in the late war received with greater glee and more joyous celebration than in the Union.
"Here stories of unspeakable atrocities were given the freest circulation, cartoons depicting John Bull in humiliating circumstances were without exception the only kind published. Tariffs designed to strike at Britain and Canada were erected, and Canada being close at hand has felt the full lash of 'our cousin's' venom. And all this time, the English statesmen have been preaching the doctrine of closer relations with the United States, Canada has been standing with her back to the wall, fighting for "dear life against the attacks of this cousin of ours. Do not think I am extravagant or intemperate. It would be impossible for me to attempt to convey, except in the slightest degree, the strength of the feeling between these two countries, a feeling which is accentuated to bitterness by the finding of the Alaska Commission.
"Canada has an excellent memory. There is not a child from school who could not tell you the story of the Ashburton treaty, by which Canada lost her free seaport on the east and a great wedge of country which now constitutes the State of Maine. There is a legend, too, of that same treaty by which, in addition to the country on the east, Canada lost the States of Washington and Oregon on the west; that these two States were lost because the Commissioner, a great fisherman, could not catch salmon with fly in one of the rivers and consequently handed over a country containing so worthless a stream to the Union! It is only a legend, and there is probably nothing in it, but it is one that is half believed in Canada, and who shall say, with a knowledge of the eccentricities of English statesmanship before them, that Canadians do wrong to credit the seeming absurd?"
Having thus pictured Canadian sentiment as it is, the correspondent proceeds to outline the possible consequences. He does not believe for one moment that as a result the preference granted to the Mother Country will be withdrawn. Canada is too large-minded, too broad-visioned, to play the tit-for-tat game. But she may well reconsider the question of tariffs if. the unmistakeable voice, of England rejects Mr Chamberlain's proposals, calculated to encourage her agricultural industries. Canada, Mr Wallace declares, will never join the Union. Washington's dream of a united American from the Tropic to the Arctic can never be realised. American as they are in habit, in method, in literature, and—to the Britisher inexperienced in the niceties of accent—in tongue, yet they are as distinct from the Yankee in thought, sentiment, and morality as is New Orleans from Dawson. Canada's natural way is the way of independence. Unhampered and untrammelled by overmuch interference from Downing street she is steadily following the inevitable course of her great destiuy. If she is turned aside it will be towards England. If England does not invite her before she passes out of reach or earshot she will make for nationality. At present Great Britain's hold on the colonies is purely nominal—there may come a time when the assumption of "possessing" such a colony as Canada will be farcical. There may, too, come a time when if England's invitation is not too tardy, and Canada, harkening, inclines her steps toward the Mother Country when the Canadian and the British interests will so blend and be so indispensable one to the other that the question of separation will be as remote as the days when Anglia and Northumbria stood for distinct national ideals.
MADRID, March 29, 1906
There is in Spain a tall, slim, sallow youth with a perpetual smile. It is the frank smile of undisguised delight at the joy of living and finding things out. For him life is a birthday, with thousands of presents still unopened. His smile—were I less respectful I might call it a delighted grin, for such it is in very truth—is for the joy of discovery.
I saw him standing up in his carriage once at Burgos, responding to the hoarse "vivas" of the country folk. He might have saluted gravely, taken his seat solemnly, and driven away in the pomp and circumstance of his rank—that would have been kingly. But he kept to his feet with that amused smile which is chuckle suppressed, and waved his hand cheerily. He waved it to the ladies crowding the balconies, to the children perilously perched on unsuitable elevations, to the swart-faced peasants wrapped in their shawls.
And the love of his people, the people who had watched the fatherless boy grow towards manhood, was his first discovery. Then he discovered other good things, riding and the joy of the hunt, and the delight of travel; and he went on smiling.
Then he discovered that, given the nerve, a man might drive a car over a straight road at 100 kilometres an hour and that was nearly the greatest discovery of all. Coincidentally with this, the Spanish people, who did not share his enthusiasm for rounding dangerous corners at full speed, remarked mildly, but with that mordant humour which is characteristic of the race, that there was no heir to the throne.
They say of Alfonso XIII. that he was the best-ruled child in the world, and if this be so, to-day he vindicates the Latin proverb, which may be found in the appendices of most oheap dictionaries, and which is to the effect that the best-ruled is the best ruler. So that when it came to choosing a wife, and when before him were arrayed the dozen or so of uninteresting but eligible princesses of royal blood, Alfonso, who, as an amateur photographer, realises the fallibility of re-touched photographs, started forth on a tour of inspection.
THE SWEETEST OR ALL
The eligibles of Europe were mostly concentrated in Berlin, but the young man—we may suppose that he carried it off with that smile of his—was politely indefinite, and went outside the list, and chose a lady of England, who had certainly never been included.
Therefore the King has made yet another discovery, and that is the sweetest of all.
All Royal matches are love matches. It is part of our eternal hypocrisy to hail them as such, but here is a match which comes to the hardened cynic as rain following a drought. Here is a real love match, an infatuation that is eminently boyish in its intensity, an eager love-making that would satisfy the most exacting of sentimentalists—notice the King's smile in the photographs—and a match-making so much at first hand that, if the truth be told, it almost estranged the boy King from his mother.
Spain is the home of Catholic majestv. In these days of agnosticism the wave of free thought has passed over Spain and left it untouched; indeed, if anything, it has closed the ranks of Roman Catholicism against the heretical intruder.
The news of the match was received with genuine enthusiasm by the people of Spain. One hears of little else throughout the country; one sees their portraits exhibited in every other shop. Ena of Battenberg entered the hearts of the common people, of the bourgeois, and of the thinking classes—and I say this without gush and without cant.
If the truth be pursued, the match found no favour in the ultra-Catholic circle of the Court. Queen Maria Cristina had hoped that the choice would have fallen upon a princess of Austria of her faith; and the great officers of State, who have for years stood next to the throne and who through the King have ruled Spain, were at one in that opinion.
"A Catholic by birth, the urged, and though they were in the minority yet they formed the minority that rules and has governed Spain for years.
We may, without stretching our imagination, imagine the King smiling this opposition. For this King from the first has had his way in things that count.
ALFONSO AND VELASQUEZ
They tell a story about him, a story of a small boy standing before the portrait of Philip IV., by Velasquez, in the gallery here. He looked long and earnestly at the picture. Then...
"I also will have a chin like that, he said, and set himself to work from dav to day, despite many smacking, to pinch and mould his face to the shape of his ancestor's.
That it was an ugly chin does not matter—it was the chin of Philip, and to-day when I saw the picture by Velasquez I was almost startled by the remarkable likeness between the two monarchs.
So that having altered the face to suit his pleasure—I can see him smiling as he did it—it was not to be expected that he should alter his life to please others. If this sounds inconsequential it is because I am dealing with a boy whose life is made up of inconsequences.
The weightiest opinions were gossamer before this smiling youth, who could not spare one eye for logic when both were for love. He wore down opposition gradually but surely, and todav finds Spain enthusiastic and the Spanish Court more than tolerant. A few days ago I went from Algeciras to Cadiz to see him leave for the Canaries. It was his last bachelor holidy, and all Cadiz was there to wish him "Godspeed." As the launch went throbbing from the shore he stood in the stern, waving his hand and smiling as though a trip to the Canaries were really the joke of all jokes.
A BRILLIANT WEDDING—FROM JOY TO TEARsS
Mr Edgar Wallace, in the Daily Mail, gives a brilliant account of the Royal wedding at Madrid and of the tragedy that followed. In the course of the report he says:—
A distant burst of cheering and the blare of bugles announced at half- past 9 that the Royal procession had started. Prince after prince with fitting escort passed, and then came princes and princesses of the blood royal of Spain, with all the attentions due to their rank and exact order of precedence. Recognised instantly by the people and cheered rapturously was the Infanta Isabel, a motherly lady with silver hair, who was weeping as she passed.
But the greatest reception, apart to that accorded to the principals, was reserved for the Prince and Princess of Wales. The difficulty of distinguishing personages in the Royal carriage was overcome by the fact that the Prince's photograph had been published in all the papers.
When the British National Anthem sounded in the distance the enthusiasm of the crowd was unbounded, and the approach of their Royal Highnesses' coach was the occasion for a singularly warm demonstration. Both the Prince and Princess bowed, smiled, and saluted the cheering people with that wave of the hand which is characteristically Spanish, and the use of which pleases the Spaniard more than the most stately bows.
A quaint feature of the Prince's retinue was the "coach of respect," an empty State coach following behind with exactly the same escort as that occupied by the Prince. The Princess was dressed in white.
The procession seemed unending, and there were frequent stops, but at last appeared the plume-crested heads of the eight white horses drawing the Royal carriage. King Alfonso's welcome was unique. They "vivaed," they called him by name, and they showed in a dozen ways their affection for him. With him were Don Carlos and a pretty little boy of four, the Infante Alfonso, the King's cousin and heir. The child was a feature of the procession—he was so obviously enjoying the ride and saluted so gravely.
PRINCESS ENA'S OVATION
But whatever had been the acclamations that greeted King Alfonso, the ovation of the day was reserved for Princess Ena. For her Madrid displayed its most beautiful decorations; for her they hung from countless windows tapestries of enormous value (an authority pointed out to me a house from the windows of which were hung fabrics of the value of £40,000); in her honor family ohests were ransacked and treasures which had not seen the light for 100 years, and which are practically priceless, were hung side by side with more modern specimens of the decorator's art.
All brides look beautiful, but Princess Ena looked divine, and it is no exaggeration to say that Madrid went mad with enthusiasm as she passed, half an hour after the King, through the streets.
For the last time she listened to "God Save the King" played in her honor. Her progress was a triumph over the Spain that loves beauty and courtships, and the youths paid her homage such as few women are fated to receive. The people pressed forward with outstretched hands, and only a strong force of military prevented them from reaching the carriage.
Here was a color feast such as Paul Veronese alone could have done justice to—a scene beside which the most magnificent efforts of pageant- makers were insignificant. The tiny Gothic church is perched on a slight eminence, its wonderful proportions alone preventing it from appearing mean. It stood, a splash of cinnamon, with delicate finials rising to the blue Spanish sky.
As Princess Ena's carriage turned into the broad drive that leads past the church, to the frenzied, shrill cries of the people, to the waving of thousands of handkerchiefs, to the soft tones of Spanish music, one was transported back to the day of barbaric gorgeousness when kings moved through a golden haze.
Everything helped the illusion. There had been passing up the sweep of grey granite steps that lead to the silvered portals a procession of grandees—not in their military uniforms, as would be the case in other countries, but in the garb of their religious orders—not as soldiers, but as "brothers of Christ." In their spotless white cloaks, emblazoned with the ensignia of their order, with their mediaeval plumed hats, they were part of the great and wonderful picture.
Now, as Princess Ena's golden coach stopped before the steps, the picture was complete. For at the head of the stairs under the great sweep of the canopy—a huge patch of crimson and gold—stood a glittering throng waiting to receive her. Left and right of the entrance, supported by slender silver halberds, were the canopies over the Ambassadors, and from the terrace of the church hung priceless tapestries.
IN THE CHURCH
At the church door an official helped the bride to alight, and then, slightly ahead of the two mothers, she walked up with a light step, standing out from the colored splendor of her surroundings.
The King, who wore the plain uniform of a captain-general with the Orders of the Garter and Golden Fleece, awaited her arrival at the end of the dim aisle, which was almost dark after the glare of the sunshine, despite the subdued light of the chandeliers and the lights on the beautiful altar.
In almost every detail the service was identical with every Catholic marriage service, but it was sufficiently trying for the young pair, as the crowded church was suffocatingly hot. The Archbishop of Toledo, crozier in hand, advanced and performed the simple service:
"Senora Princesa Victoria Eugenia de Battenberg, I require Your Highness and Your Majesty Senor Don Alfonso XIII., King of Spain and Castile, to affirm if there be any impediment by which this marriage cannot be contracted."
The Princess made the responses in Spanish, speaking distinctly and making the three affirmutions required in a clear voice. Then in a voice rendered almost indistinct by emotion the Archbishop said, "And I, on behalf of God Almighty and the blessed Apostles, Peter, Paul, and of Holy Mother Church, marry you, illustrious Princess, and you, most exalted King. This sacrament of matrimony I confirm in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen."
It was a quarter to one when the booming of cannon announced the mass that followed the wedding ceremony was finished.
AFTER THE CEREMONY
Out from the dark church into the glaring sunshine the Royal couple passed. The young Queen looked pale, but smiled and waved her hand to the people. The King himself looked a little fatigued, but there was happiness in his smile, and he looked eagerly into his Queen's face and pressed her arm in frank delight. As they stood together under the noble canopy, a young couple side by side waving hands here and there, as they recognised friends among the privileged circle, there was something in the scene unlike anything one has witnessed. Without losing a particle of the dignity of a splendid function it took on a character of happiness so evident, so undisguised, as to be almost plebeian. Even Spanish dignity melted in joy at seeing the two whose lovemaking has been the talk of Spain brought together.
The scene that followed as they moved off was remarkable, and the return journey to the palace was marked by demonstrations of affection unequalled in the history of Spain. From the packed stands, windows, and balconies, and from the roof-tops, rose one long, continued roll of cheering. One cry shouted by a spectator, and caught up by the crowd, I shall always hear. It was, "Beautiful, beautiful!" Even the guarding soldiers lining the route caught the enthusiasm, and raised their swords in irregular salute with the same cry of "Bonito!"
THE BOMB THROWN
A dastardly attempt to assassinate King Alfonso and Queen Victoria was made in the Calle Mayor at twenty minutes past two, as the royal couple were returning from the church to the palace after the wedding.
I had just left the street, after seeing the royal carriage pass. Queen Victoria was leaning forward, radiantly happy, and waving her hand to the cheering people. King Alfonso was leaning back, lazily waving his hand, but not taking his eyes from his wife's face.
I was writing the last words of a despatch when from a distant street came what sounded like a solitary explosion.
Some ten minutes later a courier came galloping past and brought the terrible news, that a diabolical attempt had been made on the lives of the King and Queen.
The royal procession had passed through the Calle Alcala, where the crowd pressed densely, had crossed the Puerto del Sol, and had entered the Calle Mayor. This street runs almost to the threshold of the palace. It is one of the most beautifully decorated thoroughfares, its narrowness allowing it to be spanned with garlands and suspended arches. At the palace end the street slopes steeply, and opposite the Civil Governor's house grows yet narrower.
The assassin had posted himself on a balcony overlooking the road and facing the Governor's house. As the royal pair passed he hurled a bomb.
By God's providence he missed his mark. Had the weapon fallen a foot further nothing could have prevented the transformation of the most famous wedding of modern days into a dreadful tragedy.
As it was the bomb exploded, killing a number of spectators and wounding others. At the moment of telegraphing the excitement is so intense that it is impossible to obtain accurate particulars. But I am credibly informed that eight persons were killed and twenty-five injured.
The whole royal procession was panic-stricken, but King Alfonso, recovering himself immediately, spoke through the broken windows of the royal carriage and inquired what damage had been done. Immediately he sent an orderly to reassure Princess Henry of Battenberg and the Queen-Mother.
His Majesty, raising his voice, commanded the procession to resume its course. Queen Victoria was deathly pale, but smiled courageously.
At that moment all the King's thoughts were evidently for her. He patted her arm and spoke to her continuously all the way to the palace.
A rumor had already reached the palace that the King was killed, and utter consternation prevailed until the royal carriage came into view. Then arose an hysterical shout of joy.
A few minutes later King Alfonso and Queen Victoria appeared hand in hand on the palace balcony, smiling and bowing in answer to the frantic cheering of their subjects.
THE KING AND HIS BRIDE IN TEARS
The missile fell to the right of the royal carriage, between the hindmost pair of horses and the front pair of wheels. The explosion killed two horses and a groom.
The Marquis de Sotomayor, the equerry who was riding at the right side of the carriage, was slightly wounded. Four soldiers lining the route were killed on the spot, and a lieutenant who was standing at the salute was fatally injured.
A police-bugler had his head severed from his body, and two women among the spectators were also killed. The injured were very numerous, and included two or three persons on the second-storey balcony of the house from which the bomb was thrown. Immediately after the explosion the Duke of Cornachuelos rushed forward, opened the carriage door, and taking hold of the King dragged him out of the vehicle, and then the Queen, who showed signs of great emotion. On their arrival at the palace it was noticed that both the King and his bride were in tears.
THE ASSASSIN'S ESCAPE
The assassin, whose name is Mateo Moral, escaped in the confusion, but left evidence of being wounded.
Immediately before the outrage the Queen had remarked to the King that she would be glad to reach home, the explosion following on her words. The bleeding and wounded officers threw themselves round the royal carriage, and the Queen, alighting, gazed with horror on the dead and dying men and officers.
One officer lay dead, with his hand raised to the salute. The Queen was composed, but on reaching the palace broke down completely.
As she alighted gentlemen pressed forward, but the King waved them back and tenderly supported his weeping wife.
The bomb was thrown concealed in a bunch of flowers. A panic ensued among the occupants of the stands, who threw themselves to the ground. The postillion of the Municipal Guard and a Moorish officer were killed instantly.
Bodies, horribly mutilated, lay along the street. Men removed their hats before the dead, and there followed a solemn scene. A priest from a neighboring church arrived to give the last sacraments to the wounded and his blessing to the dead. King Alfonso stood up when the explosion occurred, and cried to the people, "Don't be afraid; we are not hurt."
[It will be remembered that Moral some days afterwards was challenged in a village inn by a constable, that he afterwards shot the constable and fled, but was followed by the villagers and committed suicide when cornered by them.]
There came to meet me at the North Station at Madrid a cheerful boy—a boy who had obviously come straight from a tennis court, who was dressed "slack" as only the English can dress "slack" and remain respectable. In the carriage that drove us through the uneven streets of Madrid he told me about a "rotter" of our acquaintance, used twelve different school-slang phrases in as many minutes.
That night he came to the Fornos to dinner, and I asked him why his friends called him by a Spanish name.
"Because I am Spanish," was the reply, and the answer staggered me.
"But you are unique?"
"Not a bit of it. Dozens of fellows in Madrid like myself have been educated in England."
And this boy, I discovered, was the son of a noble house that goes back to the year 1, and that he was by no means alone in his Anglicisation I soon discovered.
The royal marriage and the enthusiasm it has aroused through Spain are only symptomatic of the extraordinary respect in which Great Britain is held throughout Spain. The word "Inglesi" has a meaning outside the narrow limits of appellation, and the young Spain that is growing up with the boy-King has possibilities which the boldest may speculate upon and fall short of the mark.
A LITTLE MAD
Remember that old Spain does not quite understand Alfonso. It loves him; he is the darling of the people, and your ultra-Republicans, exceedingly voluble on all pertaining to kingship, have a pleasant word for the slim youth with the everlasting smile.
But none the less old Spain does not quite take him in. To be perfectly frank, old Spain, watching in wonderment as the young man sweeps away the cobwebs that hamper his administration, confesses sadly that the King is a little mad. This same old Spain, be it noted, has for generations regarded the "Inglesi" as a nation of amiable lunatics, and for very much the same reason as England has deserved the stigma, King Alfonso bears it.
People who know Spain from books will tell you with bated breath of the cast-iron etiquette that surrounds the royal personagee of Spain, of dreadful dinners eaten in solemn silence, of bows to the left and curtsies to the right, of mace-bearers and cup-bearere and sword- bearers, of orders of precedence; such as that between the Infanta who was born at 7.25 and the Infanta who entered this wicked world at 7.29.
There have been customs handed down from the days of the gloomy builder of the Escurial. They have been handed down from king to king—even Joseph Bonaparte "carried on"—and they were handed over, heirlooms of procedure, to the patient little boy whose unceasing education earned for him the sympathy of all the little boys in the world.
Where are those customs now?
If we are to believe the aged masters of ceremonies, who—so it is said—go moaning about the Corridors of the Palacio Real, weeping for glories gone, they have vanished. Pruned here and omitted there, remodelled, improved, renovated, the irreverent youth (he has just streaked past my window in a motor-car) has, in the language of the soap advertiser, "made home comfortable."
THE IRON HAND BENEATH
And his influence is felt throughout Spain. Not because he has led the Spanish gentry to wearing English clothes, English collars, and English cravats (I saw a "smo-king jakket" ticketed in the window of a cheap tailor to-day), nor because he has infused into a languid people something of that restless energy which is peculiarly his, but because you see his hand in the great acts of administration.
There was a Minister in Spain who had a friend. The friend's past was not exactly blameless: there was a sort, of "war stores scandal" in the background, but the Minister was anxious to put his friend into the Cabinet. And the Minister, who was sufficiently powerful to he blind to his own weakness had not the slightest doubt that his nomination would be accepted. It is unfortunately true that corruption in the public service has been by no means rare in Spain, and is not regarded in a very serious light, and the Minister was perhaps justified in his belief that the unfortunate affair bad been conveniently forgotten.
But the King's memory, like the King's digestion, is remarkably good, and without a word he struck his pen through his name. The Minister was thunderstruck.
"I shall place my resignation in your Majesty's hands," he said stiffly; but the awful threat did not alarm the young man.
"That is my wish," he said gravely.
Again. The present marriage is by no means regarded with approval in Germany. You are aware that there are divers great German Princes whose "military duties" will prevent their attending the ceremony.
It is an unfortunate fact that one cannot show preference without offending the unpreferred. The attachment of the King has drawn him closer to Great Britain; but King Alfonso is a shrewd youth, and he has certainly no desire to antagonise a powerful State like Germany. The spirit of "manana," which is at once the joy and curse of Spain, extends to every class of Spaniard—even to the Spaniard ambassadorial—and there are to be celebrations this year in Germany at which the crowned heads of Europe are to be represented. Somehow the Spanish Ambassador at Berlin failed to notify the King of these celebrations, with the result that there was no time for the fitting representation of Spain. Alfonso's hand fell on the Ambassador. A prompt Gazette announced his recall and the reason.
ALL THE TO-MORROWS SHALL BE AS TO-DAY
This is how Alfonso XIII. is creating a new Spain. By substituting promptitude for procrastination; by replacing "manana" by "to-day"; by refusing to recognise the plea of custom; and lastly, and most important of all, by doing himself the things that he asks his people to do.
The story that best illustrates the sane, practical spirit that underlies most of his acts is the story of the reservoir disaster. In the course of constructing a reservoir near Madrid, part of the works collapsed, and hundreds of workmen were buried beneath tons of earth. The boy King was at the royal palace when the newß was telephoned through, and he ordered his car and drove through to the scene of the catastrophe. Crowds had gathered in the vicinity, and the King was recognised as he drove up. Accident or royal procession, all's one to the Spaniard, so long as it be in the nature of sight- seeing, and "Viva el Rey!" was roared by a thousand throats. It was an indignant young monarch who stood up in his car and harangued the crowd. "If you were helping to dig these poor fellows out, instead of shouting 'Viva,' you would be doing a far better thing." he said—and the orowd took the hint.
It is customary at such a time as this for the writer to say the nicest things he can remember about his royal subject. Kings, with two notable exceptions, are very uninteresting people, who do a great deal of work and listen patiently to a great number of national anthems. But one requires very little stimulating to "enthuse" over the ruler of Spain. Partly because he is the sort of youth that an ordinary citizen—were he, too, an ordinary citizen—would be very friendly with, and would speak about behind his back as a very decent fellow indeed, and partly because he is a monarch, isolated from the contact of common men, surrounded by what seemed insurmountable walls of etiquette and tradition, and apparently at the mercy of wire-pullers and courtiers, and yet has broken through the steel girdle and proved himself a wise ruler and a very human being.
MADRID, Friday, May 25, 1906
Yesterday I watched Madrid at play. In the great Plaza del Torres I saw a huge circle of banked faces rising tier on tier, and heard the hum of fourteen thousand voices, and saw the sun glitter on thousands of fluttering fans.
There was a stir, and fourteen thousand heads turned toward the high- perched royal box. A young man in the scarlet coat of the dragoons entered, raised his hand stiffly to the buzzing crowd, and took his seat. There was no cheer, no "Viva"—the King's German brother-in-law has not gripped the popular fancy.
An unshaven photographer, operating a blundering camera and a big cigar at one and the same time, spoke through the unoccupied corner of his mouth. "Ah! it will be different when the Queen comes!" And the pathetic thing was that he spoke in tones of joyful anticipation, as though, in the new Queen Victoria, bull-fighting was to receive a fillip which would establish it for ever as the premier sport of Europe.
ALL EYES ON THE ENGLISH QUEEN
Next week the young Queen will preside at her first fight. She will sit high up in the flower-decked tribune, the focussing point of thousands of curious eyes, all knowing the Englishwoman's detestation of such sport, and watching for the pallor that oomes to the face of even the "nerviest" of untried spectators. She will see the Spanish bull—the bravest and most ferocious of God's creatures—in all his wild rage; she will see wretched hacks driven to their death, and lithe, catlike men with nerves of ice playing with destruction.
And not alone on the day she makes her bow to the clamouring ring, but day after day at intervals her figure will be seen in the royal box, her head, draped in a white mantilla, bent to the plaudits, of the Madrileno, till the play and the horror and the fascination of bull-fighting will become a matter of habit, and her heart will no longer beat furious tattoos wheen the trumpet wails, and a nimble official throws open a thick door of the bullpen, and there steps into the light, warily, inquiringly, an animal all aquiver with fierce wrath.
Best for her, since the bull-ring must become part of her life, if she shuts her eyes to the picador urging forward the ambling, scraggy brute of a horse he rides, and accepts philosophically the quick plunge of the bull and the toss of its head beneath the breast of the horse, and the tumbling picador sprawling within a yard of the needle-pointed horns. For she may reflect that this same bony horse, did he not meet swift death in the sanded arena, might die less comfortably and more lingeringly—even of starvation—in Spain, a country where horseflesh is lightly regarded, and where the "friend of man" is an idiom untranslatable.
Best for her, too, if she watches the sight of sights, concentrating her thoughts, her emotions, and her philosophies upon the supreme moment of the trial when the matador takes the sword from his attendant, raises his hand in salute to the occupants of the tribunal—quaint survival of the gladiator's farewell—throws his cap across the barrier with that peculiar swing of his that is inimitable, and walks slowly towards the beast that awaits him in the centre of the arena.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS REVISED
Travellers who visit Spain write lurid impressions of their first bull- fight. They denounce it as inhuman, barbaric, and beyond defence. Then they go again to the bull-ring to see if their first impression was justified—and finding that it was, go a third time to make sure. By the time they have seen their sixth fight they are more bloodthirsty than the Spaniards, and shout for more horses and "fire" for the cowardly bull.
I have always enjoyed bull-fighting, because it throws me back to the days when my ancestors lived in caves and beat one another's heads off in the settlement of all disputes. If you love a horse the sight is sickening; if your fondness embraces all animal life, it is hopelessly cruel; if you are a vegetarian, it is sacrilegious.
For me, and for thousands of Britishers who know the story of bull- fighting and have studied its art, and can tell instantly the blundering kill from the clean, straight stroke of the master bull-fighling has fascinations which all its horrors cannot destroy.
And it is the last scene of all that draws you back and back again to the Plaza.
The bandilleros have played the bull, and the blarct of the trumpet calls them off. The bull stands trembling with rage in the circle of the gaily- coloured fighters. Then from the barrier, from his salute, comes a slight figure of a man, hatless, in his left hand a blood-red flag, in his right a thin, red-hilted sword.
A roar of greeting comes to him from the packed barreras, but he scarcely acknowledges it.
His thin, aesthetic face, the thick black eyebrows, the firm, delicately- shaped mouth are known from one end of Spain to the other. Now, the face is tense and white. Not with fear, for Machiquito does not know it, and some day this daring little man will end his days in the bull-ring.
He nears the group, and the play of cloaks begins. Flick! The bull turns as swift as lightning, and springs at the cloak. He misses by a hand's-breadth, and the flutter of another cloak sends him spinning in another direction. Now comes the delicate part of the day's work. Machiquito raises his red flag, and the bull jumps with a curious sidelong thrust of his head. A warning yell goes up from ten thousand throats, for the trained observers have seen that the bull is aiming at the man and not at the flag. Again the flicking of cloaks and the sharp, mad rushes and the hand's-breadth escapes. This is not for the fighter's amusement; it has a purpose. You may not kill a bull by the laws of the ring except he stand with feet in such a position and head at such a poise. So back and forward goes Machiquito's flag, till suddenly the bull stands still, and fighter and victim face each other.
The silence of death comes on the banked crowds, for the feet of the bull are in the right position, and the head is at the angle. Slowly the right hand of the matador rises and the sword lies level with his eye. In a moment the bull jumps, and Machiquito springs towards him—straight forward to what looks like certain death, so that his breast is between the horns of the bull, and his glittering coat scrapes the bull's forehead. There is a flash of steel...
You cannot from a humanitarian point of view defend bull-fights any more than you can prize-fighting or kicking the soul out of two-year-old horses for the sake of a 6 to 4 starting-price coup. It is brutal, it is often disgusting—it is, if you wish, the indication of national decadence—but it is the greatest "thrill" in the world.
Nothing outside the equipages of Royalty created so much sensation and called for greater admiration than the wonderful state coaches in which, some of the members of the peerage drove to and from the Abbey. The Duke of Marlborough and his Duchess rode through admiring crowds in a deep-crimson coach with real silver fittings, which evoked, loud cheers. Consuelo, Duchess of Manchester, appeared in a coach simply dazzling, with a gorgeous hammer- cloth, which was only equalled by that of the Duke of Somerset's new coach, whose hammmer-cloth cost him over £800. The Northumberland state carriage was a magnificent affair in white and silver, carrying ten people altogether, five of the family inside, and an equal number of the most elaborately and gorgeously appointed servants clinging to the outside. One of the most moving moments on Constitution Hill was when a strange little company of white-haired men with medals on their coats came marching—slow and stiff, but very proud and erect—to one of the stand's. They were the survivors of the charge of Balaclava. The Green Park was alive with fluttering handkerchiefs, and cheers went up from the stands.
Never before in the history of England have grandchildren of the Sovereign in direct line of succession been present in the Abbey at the Coronation. The Coronation, it is estimated, cost £125,000. When Queen Victoria was crowned the cost was £69,401, at the crowning of William IV, £43,159, and the Coronation of George IV, £243,388.
Two ladies with a bag of provisions took up a position on the rising ground in Picadilly before midnight. They whiled away the night reading by the light of a bicycle lamp tied to the park railings. After waiting nearly fifteen hours they only saw the procession through the kindness of a policeman. When the route was cleared the crowd got in front of them, but the constable, knowing how long they had waited, considerately passed them through to the front.
Mr Edgar Wallace in the Daily Mail thus describes the return of the King:—
"And now the Horse Guards, and in their rear a glimpse of a golden panoply. No need to consult your programme, the hurricane of cheers, the tossing hats, the shrill acclamations of the women proclaiming unmistakably—the King!
Nearer... the escort passes, and the finicking cream ponies pick their way daintily. Crane forward... The King is smiling—bowing and smiling. How well he looks. Left and right he bows, the great crown glittering on bis head. You only see him for a second. It is a glimpse of a very happy man—a proud, contented man. A man, who has gripped death by the throat and of his unconquerable will triumphed.
It is only a glimpse, for hardly does your eye rest on him than you attention, your cheers, your love, is claimed by the beautiful woman who sits by his side. Not smiling—but the face of a woman whol is silently praying. Silent, and lovely, we do her homage for the moment, and then she passes, and something like a sigh runs through the crowd, and they forget to watch for the Prince of Wales, but follow the great swaying coach with a happy man and the pale woman with wistful eyes. The Duke of Connaught and his soldier son you forget to notice. The Duke of Portland, the Duke of Buccleuch pass—the King's procession ends.
The interest dies momentarily, the passing gorgeous uniform might be so much drab for all the effect it has upon the spectator. Heads craned forward to see the last of the King's carriage. Then the band crashes "God! save the King" again—it is the Prince of Wales's coach passing. "Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful," says an old lady, touching an arm, and tears stand in her eyes. "What?—the procession?" "No, sir; the Queen. Wasn't she lovely."
There was no lack of comic relief in the various incidents in the vicinity of the Abbey. One of the peeresses, exhausted by long waiting for her carriage, sat down in despair on the ground in the courtyard with her velvet robes folded under her as a cushion, while her husband sought the erring coachman attired in his velvet and miniver. Another peer rushed, coronet in hand, down the streets calling for a hansom, receiving an impromptu ovation from the crowd, which disconcerted him a little.
One of the most beautiful moments was the crowning of the Queen, which was performed with her Majesty kneeling. As her Majesty passed to her footstool the four duchesses advanced to hold the canopy. Their crimson trains were spread fan-wise, and when her Majesty rose their trains were readjusted by four gentlemen. The Duchess of Buccleuch's page did the same to her Grace's train. The King and Queen were evidently quite au fait with the whole ceremony, and on more than one occasion, when hesitation occurred, guided the procedure. The Queen was assisted by the Bishop of Oxford, who took her hand whenever there was a step to mount.
The crowning of the Queen was a much shorter function, but it gave rise to one of the most extraordianry effects possible. At the moment that the crown was placed on her head each peeress put on her coronet, and, as seen from the peers' stand, the whole bank of fluttering down opposite was in a flash converted into one great white trellis work, in every opening of which a face was framed. This singular illusion was produced by the hundreds of pairs of white-gloved arms all simultaneously being raised to an angle over the head.
Thie Maharajah of Scindia's jewels were brought to the Abbey the evening before the Coronation. Previous to the ceremony his Keeper of the Jewel's attended, and in one of the robing rooms the jewels were put on. An eyewitness describes the Indian Prince as being "swathed in diamonds."
The value of the actual contents of Westminster Abbey during the ceremony is perhaps such as no human brain could estimate. Apart from the regalia, the worth of one single diadem, the Queen's crown, is computed at £100,000. The solid gold plate belonging to the Abbey and the Chapels Royal, if melted down, would buy several warships. An increased value is added by history, each piece having been the property of some English sovereign.
Everybody admired the Queen's crown. It was specially made for the, occasion, and was composed entirely of diamonds, each of which is mounted in a silver setting. This is the only precious metal which comlpletely shows the brilliance of fine stones. Gold is only used on the inner and hidden portions of the mounting, for the sake of lightness and strength. The circlet, unsurpassed in effect by that of any existing crown, is 1½ inches in width, and is entirely encrusted with brilliants of the finest water. These diamonds, varying in size from one specially fine in color weighing, nearly 17 carats, down for the smallest necessary to carry out the design, are of the most perfect cutting, and are placed as closely together as possible throughout. This method is adopted so that no metal is visible, and renders the entire circlet one blaze of light. This rich band supports four large cross- patées, and thee largest of these displays the Koh-i-Noor, the grand and unique feature of the orown. Three very large diamonds of extraordinary lustre occupy the centres of the other cross-patées. The total number of stones used is 3,688.
By her Majesty's special command the crown was constructed as lightly as possible—an immense advantage when in use. Every effort experience and skill could dictate resulted in keeping the entire weight down to only 22oz 15dwt, a result never before attained.
"THERE SHALL BE WINGS"
"The human bird shall take his first flight, filling the world with amazement, all writings with his fame, and bringing eternal glory to the nest from whence he sprang."—Leonardo do Vinci.
Let us go down to the place where the good monks of Santa Maria delle Grazie showed Leonardo da Vinci the wall of the refectory on which he might paint a picture—to where Leonardo came—between whiles—and drew a long table and men at meat and, central, a strong, sorrowing Christ, who all but spoke from the wall, "One of you shall betray me." Before all that time has left of the picture, you may well stand abashed and mystified, for you are face to face with the handiwork of one who lived five hundred years before his day—the great and supreme genius of his age, greater, so far as his world- value goes, than Shakespeare or Newton or Galileo. When all that his jealous rival wrought is dust; when Michael Angelo himself is a vague memory confused in the years with his fellow- courtiers, Leonardo will be remembered, if only for this: that he was in touch with the Ever-present.
I like the picture of Leonardo best as Merejkowski painted him. An unperturbed, silent figure, callipers in hand, measuring the smile of Aphrodite, while from without came the infuriated yells of frenzied people and the shrill cry of "Antichrist" from the goading priests. Then, he was more than forty, small of face, with heavy golden eyebrows over cold blue eyes, with a long fair beard that gave the face some majesty.
He was a painter, and you knew him best, and perhaps only, as a painter. He painted the Lord's Supper with pigments of his own invention—so that the picture peeled and cracked and faded.
And he invented machines of war and means of defence, and he reared wonderful creations in stone and bronze—and mended the bath of the Grand Duchess.
"I have a method for bridges, very light and very strong; easy of transport and incombustible; new means of destroying any fortress or castle; of making mines and passages immediately and noiselessly under ditches and streams. For sea combats, I have contrivances both offensive and defensive; ships whose sides would repel stone and iron balls, and explosives unknown to any soul."
This is from a letter written by Leonardo da Vinci, who first of the painters painted strength and manlinees into the face of the Son of God, and who lived and died in the faith that he would discover the secret of flight:
"I remember that once in infancy, lying in my cradlo, I fancied that a kite flew to me and opened my lips and rubbed his feathers over them. It would seem to be my destiny all my life to talk about wings."
In an age when Savanarola preached and Machiavelli was laying the foundation for a new and a more tortuous pathway of diplomacy; when that fine popinjay Angelo was fawning a way to fame (he would paint the Grand Duchess as the Blessed Virgin for a consideration) Leonardo lived—a tragic, isolated figure. Between Pisa and Florence is the city of Vinci. Here was born a natural son to a notary. Afterwards his mother married a peasant, and passed from the story. His bourgeois father educated him, and Leonardo became a painter—who instructed his masters. He became, too, a mathematician and a philosopher, an engineer and an architect—and the first of the great aeronauts. This was bis dream; this was the white light to which this fluttering moth of his genius battled.
"If the eagle can sustain himself in the rarest atmosphere, why cannot likewise Man, by means of powerful wings, make himself lord of the winds and rise the conqueror of space?"
With Leonardo, to think was to act. Little doubt that this note-book of his, filled with observations on every conceivable subject, from the flight of birds to the treatment of fruit-trees, gave Merejkowski some foundation for the picture he draws in his wonderful book of the machine with which the dreamer atrove to conquer the air:—
"It was like an enormous bat. The body of the wings was formed by five wooden fingers, like a skeleton hand, with many joints and pliant articulations. Tendons and muscles connecting the fingers were formed by strips of tanned leather and laces of raw silk. The wing rose by means of a crank and movable piston, and was covered with impermeable taffetas. There were four wings, moving in turn like the legs of a horse. Their length was forty braccia, their spread eight. They bent backward for propulsion, and dropped to make the machine rise. A man was to sit in it astride, and with his feet in stirrups was to move the wings by a machinery of cords, blocks, and levers."
He sat working at his model day and night; sheet after sheet of paper covered with calculations—a stuffed bird suspended from the ceiling, that he might better observe the centre of gravity—and failed.
There was some force he could not fathom. Some central problem that eluded him. It took no shape that he might overcome it.
"Before the bird flies he runs a little distance," wrote Leonardo, "then with a quick flapping of wings he rises."
There were two cane stilts to his machine. They were hideous to his artistic eye. But he thought they were necessary to raise his "bird" from the ground and to secure him the initial impetus.
Mathematically the machine may have been perfect, but consider the material! Consider the dead weights of the age of wood! Once at school the teacher asked him to name the greatest hero.
"Icarus, son of Daedalus," he answered, without hesitation. There was in the grotesque figures among the bas-relief of Giotto's campanile in Florence a clumsy representation of his hero, and this he took pleasure in observing.
So Leonardo painted and planned and figured. The head of a John the Baptist, a problem in hydraulics, a new cannon to be cast; some new pigment to be tested; but always he came back to the flight.
He passed out of life a broken man—I think a broken-hearted man—watching with an ungrudging eye the vain glories of his former pupils; the triumphal march of deserters. He saw the failure of his frescoes (he was trying a new process of painting on wax), and heard the plaudits of those who acclaimed Michael Angelo's conventions.
But this robbed such failures of their sting, that a greater sense of defeat was always with him. Fresco and statue might come into existence for the joy of the eye, but nature's great secret was unrevealed.
But in the agony of his failure he saw the solution must be found. This in the message he left to the world, a prophecy that rounded off this sad man's life of experiment:
"There shall be wings!"
(By EDGAR WALLACE, in the London Evening News)
Take one dead man. One man done to death violently. One man whose soul has been wrenched from his body without a second of grace.
Outstretched on the frozen ground, with a bitter wind whirling the show- dust over the tense, still face, he lies, that once was a breathing, thinking man. Hands half-clenched, defy the flying clouds, and the eyes that stare, but do not see, look wonderingly upwards.
Take this one man, this fragment, this smallest and least considerable pawn in the great game, multiply him by fifty thousand, twist him, as the grotesqueness of your fancy dictates, into ten thousand horrid shapes; embellish your awful picture with the unprintable details of battles—remembering always that the bullet does not always kill cleanly, and that bursting shrapnel and one-pound automatic guns create a havoc that can only be imagined by people who have served on coroner's juries—and you have formed in your mind something like the battlefield of Mukden.
THE MEN WHO RAN
Where the victorious army has passed, where the retreating army has retired, panicky and demoralised, with ducking of heads and affrightened glances over shoulders, when men have whimpered arnd sobbed in their rage and rear, the dormant fears of childhood responding to the knowledge of the death behind; where men running for cover have suddenly squealed like frightened horses, and tumbled over and over like rabbits, on this deserted battlefield there lies the silence of the grave.
The Things that lie so still seem part of the white earth on which they lie, be closely cuddled to the earth they are.
There is fighting yet, for the horizon is ablaze, and the guhr-r-r-r- r of rifle fire comes borne on the cold north wind.
It will be hours yet before the will-o'-the-wisp lanterns of the search parties come flickering over the plain, separating the quick from the dead, composing these poor limbs, digging great, trenches, and clearing away in the darkness of the night the awful work of day.
THE PATIENT VULTURES
Before they come, the lantern men with their bamboo stretchers, the birds will have arrived. For the birds will drop out of the sky, and stand in a contemplative circle, waiting.
Great, beastly birds, with sleek, black coats and beady eyes. They will wait, for they are patient, till quivering limbs are still, till every sign of life has departed, before they do their work.
They will wait days, if needs be, but their wait will be almost fruitless, for long before carrion can take on courage the burying regiments will have cleared the ground, leaving only the horses and the dumb beasts who have fallen victims to the disputes of men.
With a rattle the rifles came down together to the salute, and Boy Smith blew a flourish on his bugle.
Not very good order was kept, for the ground was naturally uneven and slippery with new-dug clay.
The junior lieutenant pulled his moustache nervously with a white gloved hand and consulted the sergeant, for this was the first job of its kind that he had ever been engaged in.
"What do we do now, sergeant?"
"March off, sir."
The subaltern nodded.
"Let's get out of this beastly place, for Heaven's sake; I'm caked with clay from head to foot."
He adjusted his brass helmet chain and ran his fingers over his buttons. A whispered suggestion from the sergeant, a falsetto order from the officer, and the party straggled off, regaining some kind of formation on the gravellbd roadway that led to the gate of the cemetery. Clear of the gate, the band crashed into a lively march, and the firing-party and the company behind got its step.
"There—is—a—tavern—in—the—town," roared the band, and the men stepped briskly.
"Take me a week to get this mud off," grumbled the right-hand man of the leading four.
"Same here," agreed his supporter.
WHAT KILLED "POOR OLD MICK"?
Curious pedestrians stopped to view the military pageant, and people on the tops of tramway-cars leant over.
"Poor old Mick," said one of the firing party. "Picture of 'ealth, wasn't 'e?"
"He'd have bin all right if 'e 'adn't gone to the hospital," said the party addressed, and the remark was passed along and approved with a gloomy nodding of heads.
"I remember one night me an' him was down at the Phoenix, an' a feller said—"
Here the sergeant spoke.
"Stop that talking, Brown."
A long, long pause, with only the tramping of feet and the joyous song of the band.
Adieu, adieu, adieu, adieu,
I can. no longer stay with you,
Stay with you.
The sergeant dropped back a little, until he was level with the colour- sergeant of the mourning company.
"I told him there was another way—if we'd come along the main road and turned off by the Clarendon."
"Coach and Horses," corrected the colour-sergeant.
"My mistake; if we'd turned off by the Coach and Horses we'd have saved about a mile."
"Why didn't he?" asked the despairing colour-sergeant.
"He said we'd better keep to the main road, and then we couldn't go wrong."
The colour-sergeant shook his head helplessly.
"I wonder they let a young chap like that take charge of a thing like this."
The officer under discussion was plodding along with an anxious eye for stealthy electric cars that whizzed past momentarily.
"I took him in a bit of tobacco," said the anecdotal man of the firing party relieved from the attentions of the sergeant.
"'How are you, Mick?' I sez.
"'Pretty bad, George. I don't think I shall ever get over this.'
"'Dry up,' I sez. 'You'll be out in a day or two, as right as ninepence.'
"'Straordinary thing," confessed the speaker, "'ow you say the wrong thing at the right time. I sez to him, 'Don't be down-hearted,' an' then I remembered 'e had heart disease. But 'e didn't see the joke in a manner of speakin'. 'I don't think they're givin' me the proper kind of medicine,' 'e sez."
The firing party marched and listen, and the youngest of them all offered a suggestion.
"Somebody ought to write to the papers about it."
"I can't say," said Fatty Johnson, the adjutant's groom, "that I exactly remember 'im—was he a little feller with a big nose?"
A chorus of corrections.
"No—a tall chap with red 'air—you knew 'im, Fatty—the chap that ueed to sing 'The Young 'Ero.'"
Fatty shook his head doubtingly.
"There was a little feller with a big nose," he insisted; "used to 'ang around the canteen a lot. Wasn't that him?"
"STOP THAT TALKING!"
The sergeant was back again, and the firing party looked ahead, each man taking on the look of innocence which best suited him.
"Not much use speakin' to some of you men," added the sergeant by way of comment. "If you're not very careful a few of you will find yourselves in the guard-room before you're many days older."
The music stopped with a final crash, in which every instrument did its best to outshine the others.
"Have you ever noticed," asked the euphonium of the French horn, "'ow, when there's a garden party on, and you're engaged to play away, somebody always goes an' dies?"
French horn gave an impatient and sympathetic jerk of his head.
"Always the way," he admitted, and hastened to ask, "Who was he? I only came off leave just before we marched out."
"A chap in 'B' Company. Nice feller by all accounts; just joined from the second battalion."
"What was it?"
"Aneurism of the something aorta." The alto drummer, with a hospital course behind him, took advantage of the pause.
The band agreed that it was a very dangerous complaint, and were reasonably sympathetic. The subaltern had called the sergeant to him, and the firing party were again in a conversational mood.
"I cannot understand, sergeant, why we play lively music coming back from—er—an occasion like this."
The sergeant was deferential, and said he had often thought it was rather funny himself.
"Do you think that the idea is to cheer up the men?" asked the subaltern.
The sergeant smiled respectfully, and thought that there might be something in that.
"About this man, sergeant," the subaltern, went on; "this man we've—er—buried, don't you know. I suppose he's got friends and—er—relations—and next of kin, and all that sort of thing, what?"
"No relations at all, sir," said the sergeant.
The subaltern breathed a sigh of relief, for he was very young, very sentimental, and very tender-hearted.
"Pretty good thing," he said, and the sergeant agreed.
They were nearing barracks now, and the band-sergeant, looking over his shoulder, caught the eye of his men.
"Lincolnshire Poacher," he commanded. "Now, are you ready? One, two, three——"
For it's my delight,
On a starry night,
At this season of the year.
Through the barrack gate with a guard presenting arms.
Silence in the rank now, for they are turning on to the barrack square.
Two minutes later, as the dismissed company was melting away, the sergeant remarked to the colour-sergeant:
"The worst of funerals is that it breaks into the afternoon. There isn't time for a sleep, and it isn't time for tea."
"Come and have a drink," said the colour-sergeant wisely.
Do not think that because the German failed to understand British psychology that he is a bad psychologist. Nobody has ever understood the British, or ever will. The truth is that the German is a greater psychologist than any other race in Europe, and he was certainly the first man to discover the antidote to Bolshevism.
He knows better than any that the Spartacist derived his strength, not from the millions which Lenin supplied, but from the falling off in the supply of music, especially brass music. To-day Berlin is infinitely more peaceful than Luton. Its beaten people are calmer than the folks on the Clyde or the workers of Coventry. The Berliner goes about his business, takes a shrewd, clear view of the situation, and is working rapidly to rebuild the shattered finances of the country, and he has come to sanity because some genius suggested that Bolshevism was a disease which was as effectively destroyed by music as most other diseases are destroyed by sunshine.
THE BUG OF BOLSHEVISM
The bug of Bolshevism withers and dies under the beneficent action of Tannhäuser, even if Tannhäuser be played in ragtime. To-day Berlin simply blares. Every beer-garden, every cafe has its band. There are bands at the street corners, and bands in the park. The German trombone is blowing Bolshevism across the Dwina, and if she can only keep pace with the demand, and can train her bandsmen as quickly as we trained our soldiers, she should have Europe at her feet before the end of the year.
A month ago one of those precious Bolshie commissioners of Moscow, who spend their time alternately in signing death warrants and remitting their perquisites to relatives in Sweden, announced with great pride that bourgeoisie bands were forbidden, and that music was not the least hateful attribute of the aristocracy.
Russia is well nigh bandless. Only the Cossacks retain their jingling bells—and only the Cossacks have any kind of good government. In Britain we are suffering from a brass band famine. Yorkshire, which is one of the most truculent of the labour centres, was once a model of industrial virtue, but those were the days when Besses o' th' Barn was Yorkshire's pride, and when brass band contests brought hundreds of thousands of rapt visitors to the centres where these contests were held.
Wales before the war was one of the most musical countries in the world, and although an Eisteddfod of sorts is still held, and bards are crowned, Wales is practically musicless, with the result that it is even more discontented than Yorkshire. All this may read fantastic, but there are the facts beyond question or doubt. Where the band flourishes Bolshevism dies; in the citadels of Bolshevism the B-flat cornet is not heard.
It is, therefore, the imperative duty of the Government to summon not the Labour leaders, but the band conductors to conference. All our resources must be pressed into use and the Salvation Army must play a real part in national reconstruction.
A start might be made by engaging Sir Henry Wood's orchestra to play in the House of Commons Gallery—their very harmony would qualify them for a place in the Distinguished Strangers' Gallery—and it should be the penalty of dullness that the addresses of any honourable member lacking in the power of oratory should coincide with a selection from one of the light operas.
And what a triumphant finish to a premier's speech if it could end on a chord or be followed by "Land Of Our Fathers"!.
AN EMERGENCY BAND
There should be a band kept in readiness in Whitehall, ready to dash away in motor-lorries to the scene of any local agitation. If before the stone- throwing and the window-smashing began a syncopated orchestra could be rushed to the spot, if only on the pretext of playing the mayor out of ihe back door, what expense might be saved!
I am not mad when I suggest that every police station should be equipped with a cornet or that no inspector should be appointed to his rank until he had taken a course at Kneller Hall.
The Germans have always known the political value of music; Luther himself has described it as "the art of the prophets" and "the only art that can calm the agitations of the soul." And did not Shakespeare, that amazing seer, foresee exactly the present condition of the British mind when he said:
The man that hath no music in himself...
Is fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils.
Congreve, yet another prophet, advocated the anti-Bolshevik treatment when he told us that music had charms to soothe the savage breast.
A MINISTRY OF MUSIC
Let us have bands of music at every corner if necessary. Let us even have a Ministry of Music with under-secretaries and armies of typists—but let us have music.
In Hungary, where the fiddlers come from, there is such a scarcity of violins that the instruments are practically unprocurable. Do you wonder that Bela Kun usurped authority and remained in control until a few weeks ago? That his hurried departures coincided with the arrival of large consignments of fiddles from Austria is more than likely.
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