by Oscar Wilde
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As for Madame Sand's private life, which is so intimately connected with her art (for, like Goethe, she had to live her romances before she could write them), M. Caro says hardly anything about it. He passes it over with a modesty that almost makes one blush, and for fear of wounding the susceptibilities of those grandes dames whose passions M. Paul Bourget analyses with such subtlety, he transforms her mother, who was a typical French grisette, into 'a very amiable and spirituelle milliner'! It must be admitted that Joseph Surface himself could hardly show greater tact and delicacy, though we ourselves must plead guilty to preferring Madame Sand's own description of her as an 'enfant du vieux pave de Paris.'

As regards the English version, which is by M. Gustave Masson, it may be up to the intellectual requirements of the Harrow schoolboys, but it will hardly satisfy those who consider that accuracy, lucidity and ease are essential to a good translation. Its carelessness is absolutely astounding, and it is difficult to understand how a publisher like Mr. Routledge could have allowed such a piece of work to issue from his press. 'Il descend avec le sourire d'un Machiavel' appears as 'he descends into the smile of a Machiavelli'; George Sand's remark to Flaubert about literary style, 'tu la consideres comme un but, elle n'est qu'un effet' is translated 'you consider it an end, it is merely an effort'; and such a simple phrase as 'ainsi le veut Festhe'tique du roman' is converted into 'so the aesthetes of the world would have it.' 'Il faudra relacher mes Economies' is 'I will have to draw upon my savings,' not 'my economies will assuredly be relaxed'; 'cassures resineuses' is not 'cleavages full of rosin,' and 'Mme. Sand ne reussit que deux fois' is hardly 'Madame Sand was not twice successful.' 'Querelles d'ecole' does not mean 'school disputations'; 'ceux qui se font une sorte d'esthetique de l'indifference absolue' is not 'those of which the aesthetics seem to be an absolute indifference'; 'chimere' should not be translated 'chimera,' nor 'lettres ineditees' 'inedited letters'; 'ridicules' means absurdities, not 'ridicules,' and 'qui pourra definir sa pensee?' is not 'who can clearly despise her thought?' M. Masson comes to grief over even such a simple sentence as 'elle s'etonna des fureurs qui accueillirent ce livre, ne comprenant pas que l'on haisse un auteur a travers son oeuvre,' which he translates 'she was surprised at the storm which greeted this book, not understanding that the author is hated through his work.' Then, passing over such phrases as 'substituted by religion' instead of 'replaced by religion,' and 'vulgarisation' where 'popularisation' is meant, we come to that most irritating form of translation, the literal word-for-word style. The stream 'excites itself by the declivity which it obeys' is one of M. Masson's finest achievements in this genre, and it is an admirable instance of the influence of schoolboys on their masters. However, it would be tedious to make a complete 'catalogue of slips,' so we will content ourselves by saying that M. Masson's translation is not merely quite unworthy of himself, but is also quite undeserved by the public. Nowadays, the public has its feelings.

George Sand. By the late Elme Marie Caro. Translated by Gustave Masson, B.A., Assistant Master, Harrow School. 'Great French Writers' Series. (Routledge and Sons.)


(Pall Mall Gazette, October 24, 1888.)

Mr. Ian Hamilton's Ballad of Hadji is undeniably clever. Hadji is a wonderful Arab horse that a reckless hunter rides to death in the pursuit of a wild boar, and the moral of the poem—for there is a moral—seems to be that an absorbing passion is a very dangerous thing and blunts the human sympathies. In the course of the chase a little child is drowned, a Brahmin maiden murdered, and an aged peasant severely wounded, but the hunter cares for none of these things and will not hear of stopping to render any assistance. Some of the stanzas are very graceful, notably one beginning

Yes—like a bubble filled with smoke— The curd-white moon upswimming broke The vacancy of space;

but such lines as the following, which occur in the description of the fight with the boar—

I hung as close as keepsake locket On maiden breast—but from its socket He wrenched my bridle arm,

are dreadful, and 'his brains festooned the thorn' is not a very happy way of telling the reader how the boar died. All through the volume we find the same curious mixture of good and bad. To say that the sun kisses the earth 'with flame-moustachoed lip' is awkward and uncouth, and yet the poem in which the expression occurs has some pretty lines. Mr. Ian Hamilton should prune. Pruning, whether in the garden or in the study, is a most healthy and useful employment. The volume is nicely printed, but Mr. Strang's frontispiece is not a great success, and most of the tail-pieces seem to have been designed without any reference to the size of the page.

Mr. Catty dedicates his book to the memory of Wordsworth, Shelley, Coleridge and Keats—a somewhat pompous signboard for such very ordinary wine—and an inscription in golden letters on the cover informs us that his poems are 'addressed to the rising generation,' whom, he tells us elsewhere, he is anxious to initiate into the great comprehensive truth that 'Virtue is no other than self-interest, deeply understood.' In order to further this laudable aim he has written a very tedious blank verse poem which he calls The Secret of Content, but it certainly does not convey that secret to the reader. It is heavy, abstract and prosaic, and shows how intolerably dull a man can be who has the best intentions and the most earnest beliefs. In the rest of the volume, where Mr. Catty does not take himself quite so seriously, there are some rather pleasing things. The sonnet on Shelley's room at University College would be admirable but for the unmusical character of the last line.

Green in the wizard arms Of the foam-bearded Atlantic, An isle of old enchantment, A melancholy isle, Enchanted and dreaming lies; And there, by Shannon's flowing In the moonlight, spectre-thin, The spectre Erin sits.

Wail no more, lonely one, mother of exile wail no more, Banshee of the world—no more! Thy sorrows are the world's, thou art no more alone; Thy wrongs the world's—

are the first and last stanzas of Mr. Todhunter's poem The Banshee. To throw away the natural grace of rhyme from a modern song is, as Mr. Swinburne once remarked, a wilful abdication of half the power and half the charm of verse, and we cannot say that Mr. Todhunter has given us much that consoles us for its loss. Part of his poem reads like a translation of an old Bardic song, part of it like rough material for poetry, and part of it like misshapen prose. It is an interesting specimen of poetic writing but it is not a perfect work of art. It is amorphous and inchoate, and the same must be said of the two other poems, The Doom of the Children of Lir, and The Lamentation for the Sons of Turann. Rhyme gives architecture as well as melody to song, and though the lovely lute-builded walls of Thebes may have risen up to unrhymed choral metres, we have had no modern Amphion to work such wonders for us. Such a verse as—

Five were the chiefs who challenged By their deeds the Over-kingship, Bov Derg, the Daghda's son, Ilbrac of Assaroe, And Lir of the White Field in the plain of Emain Macha; And after them stood up Midhir the proud, who reigned Upon the hills of Bri, Of Bri the loved of Liath, Bri of the broken heart; And last was Angus Og; all these had many voices, But for Bov Derg were most,

has, of course, an archaeological interest, but has no artistic value at all. Indeed, from the point of view of art, the few little poems at the end of the volume are worth all the ambitious pseudo-epics that Mr. Todhunter has tried to construct out of Celtic lore. A Bacchic Day is charming, and the sonnet on the open-air performance of The Faithfull Shepherdesse is most gracefully phrased and most happy in conception.

Mr. Peacock is an American poet, and Professor Thomas Danleigh Supplee, A.M., Ph.D., F.R.S., who has written a preface to his Poems of the Plains and Songs of the Solitudes, tells us that he is entitled to be called the Laureate of the West. Though a staunch Republican, Mr. Peacock, according to the enthusiastic Professor, is not ashamed of his ancestor King William of Holland, nor of his relatives Lord and Lady Peacock who, it seems, are natives of Scotland. He was brought up at Zanesville, Muskingum Co., Ohio, where his father edited the Zanesville Aurora, and he had an uncle who was 'a superior man' and edited the Wheeling Intelligencer. His poems seem to be extremely popular, and have been highly praised, the Professor informs us, by Victor Hugo, the Saturday Review and the Commercial Advertiser. The preface is the most amusing part of the book, but the poems also are worth studying. The Maniac, The Bandit Chief, and The Outlaw can hardly be called light reading, but we strongly recommend the poem on Chicago:

Chicago! great city of the West! All that wealth, all that power invest; Thou sprang like magic from the sand, As touched by the magician's wand.

'Thou sprang' is slightly depressing, and the second line is rather obscure, but we should not measure by too high a standard the untutored utterances of artless nature. The opening lines of The Vendetta also deserve mention:

When stars are glowing through day's gloaming glow, Reflecting from ocean's deep, mighty flow, At twilight, when no grim shadows of night, Like ghouls, have stalked in wake of the light.

The first line is certainly a masterpiece, and, indeed, the whole volume is full of gems of this kind. The Professor remarks in his elaborate preface that Mr. Peacock 'frequently rises to the sublime,' and the two passages quoted above show how keenly critical is his taste in these matters and how well the poet deserves his panegyric.

Mr. Alexander Skene Smith's Holiday Recreations and Other Poems is heralded by a preface for which Principal Cairns is responsible. Principal Cairns claims that the life-story enshrined in Mr. Smith's poems shows the wide diffusion of native fire and literary culture in all parts of Scotland, 'happily under higher auspices than those of mere poetic impulse.' This is hardly a very felicitous way of introducing a poet, nor can we say that Mr. Smith's poems are distinguished by either fire or culture. He has a placid, pleasant way of writing, and, indeed, his verses cannot do any harm, though he really should not publish such attempts at metrical versions of the Psalms as the following:

A septuagenarian We frequently may see; An octogenarian If one should live to be, He is a burden to himself With weariness and woe And soon he dies, and off he flies, And leaveth all below.

The 'literary culture' that produced these lines is, we fear, not of a very high order.

'I study Poetry simply as a fine art by which I may exercise my intellect and elevate my taste,' wrote the late Mr. George Morine many years ago to a friend, and the little posthumous volume that now lies before us contains the record of his quiet literary life. One of the sonnets, that entitled Sunset, appeared in Mr. Waddington's anthology, about ten years after Mr. Morine's death, but this is the first time that his collected poems have been published. They are often distinguished by a grave and chastened beauty of style, and their solemn cadences have something of the 'grand manner' about them. The editor, Mr. Wilton, to whom Mr. Morine bequeathed his manuscripts, seems to have performed his task with great tact and judgment, and we hope that this little book will meet with the recognition that it deserves.

(1) The Ballad of Hadji and Other Poems. By Ian Hamilton. (Kegan Paul.)

(2) Poems in the Modern Spirit, with The Secret of Content. By Charles Catty. (Walter Scott.)

(3) The Banshee and Other Poems. By John Todhunter. (Kegan Paul.)

(4) Poems of the Plain and Songs of the Solitudes. By Thomas Bower Peacock. (G. P. Putnam's Sons.)

(5) Holiday Recreations and Other Poems. By Alexander Skene Smith. (Chapman and Hall.)

(6) Poems. By George Morine. (Bell and Son.)


(Woman's World, November 1888.)

Mr. Alan Cole's carefully-edited translation of M. Lefebure's history of Embroidery and Lace is one of the most fascinating books that has appeared on this delightful subject. M. Lefebure is one of the administrators of the Musee des Arts Decoratifs at Paris, besides being a lace manufacturer; and his work has not merely an important historical value, but as a handbook of technical instruction it will be found of the greatest service by all needle-women. Indeed, as the translator himself points out, M. Lefebure's book suggests the question whether it is not rather by the needle and the bobbin, than by the brush, the graver or the chisel, that the influence of woman should assert itself in the arts. In Europe, at any rate, woman is sovereign in the domain of art-needle-work, and few men would care to dispute with her the right of using those delicate implements so intimately associated with the dexterity of her nimble and slender fingers; nor is there any reason why the productions of embroidery should not, as Mr. Alan Cole suggests, be placed on the same level with those of painting, engraving and sculpture, though there must always be a great difference between those purely decorative arts that glorify their own material and the more imaginative arts in which the material is, as it were, annihilated, and absorbed into the creation of a new form. In the beautifying of modern houses it certainly must be admitted—indeed, it should be more generally recognised than it is—that rich embroidery on hangings and curtains, portieres, couches and the like, produces a far more decorative and far more artistic effect than can be gained from our somewhat wearisome English practice of covering the walls with pictures and engravings; and the almost complete disappearance of embroidery from dress has robbed modern costume of one of the chief elements of grace and fancy.

That, however, a great improvement has taken place in English embroidery during the last ten or fifteen years cannot, I think, be denied. It is shown, not merely in the work of individual artists, such as Mrs. Holiday, Miss May Morris and others, but also in the admirable productions of the South Kensington School of Embroidery (the best—indeed, the only really good—school that South Kensington has produced). It is pleasant to note, on turning over the leaves of M. Lefebure's book, that in this we are merely carrying out certain old traditions of Early English art. In the seventh century, St. Ethelreda, first abbess of the Monastery of Ely, made an offering to St. Cuthbert of a sacred ornament she had worked with gold and precious stones, and the cope and maniple of St. Cuthbert, which are preserved at Durham, are considered to be specimens of opus Anglicanum. In the year 800, the Bishop of Durham allotted the income of a farm of two hundred acres for life to an embroideress named Eanswitha, in consideration of her keeping in repair the vestments of the clergy in his diocese. The battle standard of King Alfred was embroidered by Danish princesses; and the Anglo-Saxon Gudric gave Alcuid a piece of land, on condition that she instructed his daughter in needle-work. Queen Mathilda bequeathed to the Abbey of the Holy Trinity at Caen a tunic embroidered at Winchester by the wife of one Alderet; and when William presented himself to the English nobles, after the Battle of Hastings, he wore a mantle covered with Anglo-Saxon embroideries, which is probably, M. Lefebure suggests, the same as that mentioned in the inventory of the Bayeux Cathedral, where, after the entry relating to the broderie a telle (representing the conquest of England), two mantles are described—one of King William, 'all of gold, powdered with crosses and blossoms of gold, and edged along the lower border with an orphrey of figures.' The most splendid example of the opus Anglicanum now in existence is, of course, the Syon cope at the South Kensington Museum; but English work seems to have been celebrated all over the Continent. Pope Innocent IV. so admired the splendid vestments worn by the English clergy in 1246, that he ordered similar articles from Cistercian monasteries in England. St. Dunstan, the artistic English monk, was known as a designer for embroideries; and the stole of St. Thomas a Becket is still preserved in the cathedral at Sens, and shows us the interlaced scroll-forms used by Anglo-Saxon MS. illuminators.

How far this modern artistic revival of rich and delicate embroidery will bear fruit depends, of course, almost entirely on the energy and study that women are ready to devote to it; but I think that it must be admitted that all our decorative arts in Europe at present have, at least, this element of strength—that they are in immediate relationship with the decorative arts of Asia. Wherever we find in European history a revival of decorative art, it has, I fancy, nearly always been due to Oriental influence and contact with Oriental nations. Our own keenly intellectual art has more than once been ready to sacrifice real decorative beauty either to imitative presentation or to ideal motive. It has taken upon itself the burden of expression, and has sought to interpret the secrets of thought and passion. In its marvellous truth of presentation it has found its strength, and yet its weakness is there also. It is never with impunity that an art seeks to mirror life. If Truth has her revenge upon those who do not follow her, she is often pitiless to her worshippers. In Byzantium the two arts met—Greek art, with its intellectual sense of form, and its quick sympathy with humanity; Oriental art, with its gorgeous materialism, its frank rejection of imitation, its wonderful secrets of craft and colour, its splendid textures, its rare metals and jewels, its marvellous and priceless traditions. They had, indeed, met before, but in Byzantium they were married; and the sacred tree of the Persians, the palm of Zoroaster, was embroidered on the hem of the garments of the Western world. Even the Iconoclasts, the Philistines of theological history, who, in one of those strange outbursts of rage against Beauty that seem to occur only amongst European nations, rose up against the wonder and magnificence of the new art, served merely to distribute its secrets more widely; and in the Liber Pontificalis, written in 687 by Athanasius, the librarian, we read of an influx into Rome of gorgeous embroideries, the work of men who had arrived from Constantinople and from Greece. The triumph of the Mussulman gave the decorative art of Europe a new departure—that very principle of their religion that forbade the actual representation of any object in nature being of the greatest artistic service to them, though it was not, of course, strictly carried out. The Saracens introduced into Sicily the art of weaving silken and golden fabrics; and from Sicily the manufacture of fine stuffs spread to the North of Italy, and became localised in Genoa, Florence, Venice, and other towns. A still greater art-movement took place in Spain under the Moors and Saracens, who brought over workmen from Persia to make beautiful things for them. M. Lefebure tells us of Persian embroidery penetrating as far as Andalusia; and Almeria, like Palermo, had its Hotel des Tiraz, which rivalled the Hotel des Tiraz at Bagdad, tiraz being the generic name for ornamental tissues and costumes made with them. Spangles (those pretty little discs of gold, silver, or polished steel, used in certain embroidery for dainty glinting effects) were a Saracenic invention; and Arabic letters often took the place of letters in the Roman characters for use in inscriptions upon embroidered robes and Middle Age tapestries, their decorative value being so much greater. The book of crafts by Etienne Boileau, provost of the merchants in 1258-1268, contains a curious enumeration of the different craft-guilds of Paris, among which we find 'the tapiciers, or makers of the tapis sarrasinois (or Saracen cloths), who say that their craft is for the service only of churches, or great men like kings and counts'; and, indeed, even in our own day, nearly all our words descriptive of decorative textures and decorative methods point to an Oriental origin. What the inroads of the Mohammedans did for Sicily and Spain, the return of the Crusaders did for the other countries of Europe. The nobles who left for Palestine clad in armour, came back in the rich stuffs of the East; and their costumes, pouches (aumonieres sarra-sinoises), and caparisons excited the admiration of the needle-workers of the West. Matthew Paris says that at the sacking of Antioch, in 1098, gold, silver and priceless costumes were so equally distributed among the Crusaders, that many who the night before were famishing and imploring relief, suddenly found themselves overwhelmed with wealth; and Robert de Clair tells us of the wonderful fetes that followed the capture of Constantinople. The thirteenth century, as M. Lefebure points out, was conspicuous for an increased demand in the West for embroidery. Many Crusaders made offerings to churches of plunder from Palestine; and St. Louis, on his return from the first Crusade, offered thanks at St. Denis to God for mercies bestowed on him during his six years' absence and travel, and presented some richly- embroidered stuffs to be used on great occasions as coverings to the reliquaries containing the relics of holy martyrs. European embroidery, having thus become possessed of new materials and wonderful methods, developed on its own intellectual and imitative lines, inclining, as it went on, to the purely pictorial, and seeking to rival painting, and to produce landscapes and figure-subjects with elaborate perspective and subtle aerial effects. A fresh Oriental influence, however, came through the Dutch and the Portuguese, and the famous Compagnie des Grandes Indes; and M. Lefebure gives an illustration of a door-hanging now in the Cluny Museum, where we find the French fleurs-de-lys intermixed with Indian ornament. The hangings of Madame de Maintenon's room at Fontainebleau, which were embroidered at St. Cyr, represent Chinese scenery upon a jonquil-yellow ground.

Clothes were sent out ready cut to the East to be embroidered, and many of the delightful coats of the period of Louis XV. and Louis XVI. owe their dainty decoration to the needles of Chinese artists. In our own day the influence of the East is strongly marked. Persia has sent us her carpets for patterns, and Cashmere her lovely shawls, and India her dainty muslins finely worked with gold thread palmates, and stitched over with iridescent beetles' wings. We are beginning now to dye by Oriental methods, and the silk robes of China and Japan have taught us new wonders of colour-combination, and new subtleties of delicate design. Whether we have yet learned to make a wise use of what we have acquired is less certain. If books produce an effect, this book of M. Lefebure should certainly make us study with still deeper interest the whole question of embroidery, and by those who already work with their needles it will be found full of most fertile suggestion and most admirable advice.

Even to read of the marvellous works of embroidery that were fashioned in bygone ages is pleasant. Time has kept a few fragments of Greek embroidery of the fourth century B.C. for us. One is figured in M. Lefebure's book—a chain-stitch embroidery of yellow flax upon a mulberry- coloured worsted material, with graceful spirals and palmetto-patterns: and another, a tapestried cloth powdered with ducks, was reproduced in the Woman's World some months ago for an article by Mr. Alan Cole. {334a} Now and then we find in the tomb of some dead Egyptian a piece of delicate work. In the treasury at Ratisbon is preserved a specimen of Byzantine embroidery on which the Emperor Constantine is depicted riding on a white palfrey, and receiving homage from the East and West. Metz has a red silk cope wrought with great eagles, the gift of Charlemagne, and Bayeux the needle-wrought epic of Queen Matilda. But where is the great crocus-coloured robe, wrought for Athena, on which the gods fought against the giants? Where is the huge velarium that Nero stretched across the Colosseum at Rome, on which was represented the starry sky, and Apollo driving a chariot drawn by steeds? How one would like to see the curious table-napkins wrought for Heliogabalus, on which were displayed all the dainties and viands that could be wanted for a feast; or the mortuary-cloth of King Chilperic, with its three hundred golden bees; or the fantastic robes that excited the indignation of the Bishop of Pontus, and were embroidered with 'lions, panthers, bears, dogs, forests, rocks, hunters—all, in fact, that painters can copy from nature.' Charles of Orleans had a coat, on the sleeves of which were embroidered the verses of a song beginning 'Madame, je suis tout joyeux,' the musical accompaniment of the words being wrought in gold thread, and each note, of square shape in those days, formed with four pearls. {334b} The room prepared in the palace at Rheims for the use of Queen Joan of Burgundy was decorated with 'thirteen hundred and twenty-one papegauts (parrots) made in broidery and blazoned with the King's arms, and five hundred and sixty-one butterflies, whose wings were similarly ornamented with the Queen's arms—the whole worked in fine gold.' Catherine de Medicis had a mourning-bed made for her 'of black velvet embroidered with pearls and powdered with crescents and suns.' Its curtains were of damask, 'with leafy wreaths and garlands figured upon a gold and silver ground, and fringed along the edges with broideries of pearls,' and it stood in a room hung with rows of the Queen's devices in cut black velvet on cloth of silver. Louis XIV. had gold-embroidered caryatides fifteen feet high in his apartment. The state-bed of Sobieski, King of Poland, was made of Smyrna gold brocade embroidered in turquoises and pearls, with verses from the Koran; its supports were of silver-gilt, beautifully chased and profusely set with enamelled and jewelled medallions. He had taken it from the Turkish camp before Vienna, and the standard of Mahomet had stood under it. The Duchess de la Ferte wore a dress of reddish-brown velvet, the skirt of which, adjusted in graceful folds, was held up by big butterflies made of Dresden china; the front was a tablier of cloth of silver, upon which was embroidered an orchestra of musicians arranged in a pyramidal group, consisting of a series of six ranks of performers, with beautiful instruments wrought in raised needle-work. 'Into the night go one and all,' as Mr. Henley sings in his charming Ballade of Dead Actors.

Many of the facts related by M. Lefebure about the embroiderers' guilds are also extremely interesting. Etienne Boileau, in his book of crafts, to which I have already alluded, tells us that a member of the guild was prohibited from using gold of less value than 'eight sous (about 6s.) the skein; he was bound to use the best silk, and never to mix thread with silk, because that made the work false and bad.' The test or trial piece prescribed for a worker who was the son of a master-embroiderer was 'a single figure, a sixth of the natural size, to be shaded in gold'; whilst one not the son of a master was required to produce 'a complete incident with many figures.' The book of crafts also mentions 'cutters-out and stencillers and illuminators' amongst those employed in the industry of embroidery. In 1551 the Parisian Corporation of Embroiderers issued a notice that 'for the future, the colouring in representations of nude figures and faces should be done in three or four gradations of carnation- dyed silk, and not, as formerly, in white silks.' During the fifteenth century every household of any position retained the services of an embroiderer by the year. The preparation of colours also, whether for painting or for dyeing threads and textile fabrics, was a matter which, M. Lefebure points out, received close attention from the artists of the Middle Ages. Many undertook long journeys to obtain the more famous recipes, which they filed, subsequently adding to and correcting them as experience dictated. Nor were great artists above making and supplying designs for embroidery. Raphael made designs for Francis I., and Boucher for Louis XV.; and in the Ambras collection at Vienna is a superb set of sacerdotal robes from designs by the brothers Van Eyck and their pupils. Early in the sixteenth century books of embroidery designs were produced, and their success was so great that in a few years French, German, Italian, Flemish, and English publishers spread broadcast books of design made by their best engravers. In the same century, in order to give the designers opportunity of studying directly from nature, Jean Robin opened a garden with conservatories, in which he cultivated strange varieties of plants then but little known in our latitudes. The rich brocades and brocadelles of the time are characterised by the introduction of large flowery patterns, with pomegranates and other fruits with fine foliage.

The second part of M. Lefebure's book is devoted to the history of lace, and though some may not find it quite as interesting as the earlier portion it will more than repay perusal; and those who still work in this delicate and fanciful art will find many valuable suggestions in it, as well as a large number of exceedingly beautiful designs. Compared to embroidery, lace seems comparatively modern. M. Lefebure and Mr. Alan Cole tell us that there is no reliable or documentary evidence to prove the existence of lace before the fifteenth century. Of course in the East, light tissues, such as gauzes, muslins, and nets, were made at very early times, and were used as veils and scarfs after the manner of subsequent laces, and women enriched them with some sort of embroidery, or varied the openness of them by here and there drawing out threads. The threads of fringes seem also to have been plaited and knotted together, and the borders of one of the many fashions of Roman toga were of open reticulated weaving. The Egyptian Museum at the Louvre has a curious network embellished with glass beads; and the monk Reginald, who took part in opening the tomb of St. Cuthbert at Durham in the twelfth century, writes that the Saint's shroud had a fringe of linen threads an inch long, surmounted by a border, 'worked upon the threads,' with representations of birds and pairs of beasts, there being between each such pair a branching tree, a survival of the palm of Zoroaster, to which I have before alluded. Our authors, however, do not in these examples recognise lace, the production of which involves more refined and artistic methods, and postulates a combination of skill and varied execution carried to a higher degree of perfection. Lace, as we know it, seems to have had its origin in the habit of embroidering linen. White embroidery on linen has, M. Lefebure remarks, a cold and monotonous aspect; that with coloured threads is brighter and gayer in effect, but is apt to fade in frequent washing; but white embroidery relieved by open spaces in, or shapes cut from, the linen ground, is possessed of an entirely new charm; and from a sense of this the birth may be traced of an art in the result of which happy contrasts are effected between ornamental details of close texture and others of open-work.

Soon, also, was suggested the idea that, instead of laboriously withdrawing threads from stout linen, it would be more convenient to introduce a needle-made pattern into an open network ground, which was called a lacis. Of this kind of embroidery many specimens are extant. The Cluny Museum possesses a linen cap said to have belonged to Charles V.; and an alb of linen drawn-thread work, supposed to have been made by Anne of Bohemia (1527), is preserved in the cathedral at Prague. Catherine de Medicis had a bed draped with squares of reseuil, or lacis, and it is recorded that 'the girls and servants of her household consumed much time in making squares of reseuil.' The interesting pattern-books for open-ground embroidery, of which the first was published in 1527 by Pierre Quinty, of Cologne, supply us with the means of tracing the stages in the transition from white thread embroidery to needle-point lace. We meet in them with a style of needle-work which differs from embroidery in not being wrought upon a stuff foundation. It is, in fact, true lace, done, as it were, 'in the air,' both ground and pattern being entirely produced by the lace-maker.

The elaborate use of lace in costume was, of course, largely stimulated by the fashion of wearing ruffs, and their companion cuffs or sleeves. Catherine de Medicis induced one Frederic Vinciolo to come from Italy and make ruffs and gadrooned collars, the fashion of which she started in France; and Henry III. was so punctilious over his ruffs that he would iron and goffer his cuffs and collars himself rather than see their pleats limp and out of shape. The pattern-books also gave a great impulse to the art. M. Lefebure mentions German books with patterns of eagles, heraldic emblems, hunting scenes, and plants and leaves belonging to Northern vegetation; and Italian books, in which the motifs consist of oleander blossoms, and elegant wreaths and scrolls, landscapes with mythological scenes, and hunting episodes, less realistic than the Northern ones, in which appear fauns, and nymphs or amorini shooting arrows. With regard to these patterns, M. Lefebure notices a curious fact. The oldest painting in which lace is depicted is that of a lady, by Carpaccio, who died about 1523. The cuffs of the lady are edged with a narrow lace, the pattern of which reappears in Vecellio's Corona, a book not published until 1591. This particular pattern was, therefore, in use at least eighty years before it got into circulation with other published patterns.

It was not, however, till the seventeenth century that lace acquired a really independent character and individuality, and M. Duplessis states that the production of the more noteworthy of early laces owes more to the influence of men than to that of women. The reign of Louis XIV. witnessed the production of the most stately needle-point laces, the transformation of Venetian point, and the growth of Points d'Alencon, d'Argentan, de Bruxelles and d'Angleterre.

The king, aided by Colbert, determined to make France the centre, if possible, for lace manufacture, sending for this purpose both to Venice and to Flanders for workers. The studio of the Gobelins supplied designs. The dandies had their huge rabatos or bands falling from beneath the chin over the breast, and great prelates, like Bossuet and Fenelon, wore their wonderful albs and rochets. It is related of a collar made at Venice for Louis XIV. that the lace-workers, being unable to find sufficiently fine horse-hair, employed some of their own hairs instead, in order to secure that marvellous delicacy of work which they aimed at producing.

In the eighteenth century, Venice, finding that laces of lighter texture were sought after, set herself to make rose-point; and at the Court of Louis XV. the choice of lace was regulated by still more elaborate etiquette. The Revolution, however, ruined many of the manufactures. Alencon survived, and Napoleon encouraged it, and endeavoured to renew the old rules about the necessity of wearing point-lace at Court receptions. A wonderful piece of lace, powdered over with devices of bees, and costing 40,000 francs, was ordered. It was begun for the Empress Josephine, but in the course of its making her escutcheons were replaced by those of Marie Louise.

M. Lefebure concludes his interesting history by stating very clearly his attitude towards machine-made lace. 'It would be an obvious loss to art,' he says, 'should the making of lace by hand become extinct, for machinery, as skilfully devised as possible, cannot do what the hand does.' It can give us 'the results of processes, not the creations of artistic handicraft.' Art is absent 'where formal calculation pretends to supersede emotion'; it is absent 'where no trace can be detected of intelligence guiding handicraft, whose hesitancies even possess peculiar charm . . . cheapness is never commendable in respect of things which are not absolute necessities; it lowers artistic standard.' These are admirable remarks, and with them we take leave of this fascinating book, with its delightful illustrations, its charming anecdotes, its excellent advice. Mr. Alan Cole deserves the thanks of all who are interested in art for bringing this book before the public in so attractive and so inexpensive a form.

Embroidery and Lace: Their Manufacture and History from the Remotest Antiquity to the Present Day. Translated and enlarged by Alan S. Cole from the French of Ernest Lefebure. (Grevel and Co.)


(Pall Mall Gazette, November 16, 1888.)

A few years ago some of our minor poets tried to set Science to music, to write sonnets on the survival of the fittest and odes to Natural Selection. Socialism, and the sympathy with those who are unfit, seem, if we may judge from Miss Nesbit's remarkable volume, to be the new theme of song, the fresh subject-matter for poetry. The change has some advantages. Scientific laws are at once too abstract and too clearly defined, and even the visible arts have not yet been able to translate into any symbols of beauty the discoveries of modern science. At the Arts and Crafts Exhibition we find the cosmogony of Moses, not the cosmogony of Darwin. To Mr. Burne-Jones Man is still a fallen angel, not a greater ape. Poverty and misery, upon the other hand, are terribly concrete things. We find their incarnation everywhere and, as we are discussing a matter of art, we have no hesitation in saying that they are not devoid of picturesqueness. The etcher or the painter finds in them 'a subject made to his hand,' and the poet has admirable opportunities of drawing weird and dramatic contrasts between the purple of the rich and the rags of the poor. From Miss Nesbit's book comes not merely the voice of sympathy but also the cry of revolution:

This is our vengeance day. Our masters made fat with our fasting Shall fall before us like corn when the sickle for harvest is strong: Old wrongs shall give might to our arm, remembrance of wrongs shall make lasting The graves we will dig for our tyrants we bore with too much and too long.

The poem from which we take this stanza is remarkably vigorous, and the only consolation that we can offer to the timid and the Tories is that as long as so much strength is employed in blowing the trumpet, the sword, so far as Miss Nesbit is concerned, will probably remain sheathed. Personally, and looking at the matter from a purely artistic point of view, we prefer Miss Nesbit's gentler moments. Her eye for Nature is peculiarly keen. She has always an exquisite sense of colour and sometimes a most delicate ear for music. Many of her poems, such as The Moat House, Absolution, and The Singing of the Magnificat are true works of art, and Vies Manquees is a little gem of song, with its dainty dancing measure, its delicate and wilful fancy and the sharp poignant note of passion that suddenly strikes across it, marring its light laughter and lending its beauty a terrible and tragic meaning.

From the sonnets we take this at random:

Not Spring—too lavish of her bud and leaf— But Autumn with sad eyes and brows austere, When fields are bare, and woods are brown and sere, And leaden skies weep their enchantless grief. Spring is so much too bright, since Spring is brief, And in our hearts is Autumn all the year, Least sad when the wide pastures are most drear And fields grieve most—robbed of the last gold sheaf.

These too, the opening stanzas of The Last Envoy, are charming:

The Wind, that through the silent woodland blows O'er rippling corn and dreaming pastures goes Straight to the garden where the heart of Spring Faints in the heart of Summer's earliest rose.

Dimpling the meadow's grassy green and grey, By furze that yellows all the common way, Gathering the gladness of the common broom, And too persistent fragrance of the may—

Gathering whatever is of sweet and dear, The wandering wind has passed away from here, Has passed to where within your garden waits The concentrated sweetness of the year.

But Miss Nesbit is not to be judged by mere extracts. Her work is too rich and too full for that.

Mr. Foster is an American poet who has read Hawthorne, which is wise of him, and imitated Longfellow, which is not quite so commendable. His Rebecca the Witch is a story of old Salem, written in the metre of Hiawatha, with a few rhymes thrown in, and conceived in the spirit of the author of The Scarlet Letter. The combination is not very satisfactory, but the poem, as a piece of fiction, has many elements of interest. Mr. Foster seems to be quite popular in America. The Chicago Times finds his fancies 'very playful and sunny,' and the Indianapolis Journal speaks of his 'tender and appreciative style.' He is certainly a clever story-teller, and The Noah's Ark (which 'somehow had escaped the sheriff's hand') is bright and amusing, and its pathos, like the pathos of a melodrama, is a purely picturesque element not intended to be taken too seriously. We cannot, however, recommend the definitely comic poems. They are very depressing.

Mr. John Renton Denning dedicates his book to the Duke of Connaught, who is Colonel-in-Chief of the Rifle Brigade, in which regiment Mr. Denning was once himself a private soldier. His poems show an ardent love of Keats and a profligate luxuriance of adjectives:

And I will build a bower for thee, sweet, A verdurous shelter from the noonday heat, Thick rustling ivy, broad and green, and shining, With honeysuckle creeping up and twining Its nectared sweetness round thee; violets And daisies with their fringed coronets And the white bells of tiny valley lilies, And golden-leaved narcissi—daffodillies Shall grow around thy dwelling—luscious fare Of fruit on which the sun has laughed;

this is the immature manner of Endymion with a vengeance and is not to be encouraged. Still, Mr. Denning is not always so anxious to reproduce the faults of his master. Sometimes he writes with wonderful grace and charm. Sylvia, for instance, is an exceedingly pretty poem, and The Exile has many powerful and picturesque lines. Mr. Denning should make a selection of his poems and publish them in better type and on better paper. The 'get-up' of his volume, to use the slang phrase of our young poets, is very bad indeed, and reflects no credit on the press of the Education Society of Bombay.

The best poem in Mr. Joseph McKim's little book is, undoubtedly, William the Silent. It is written in the spirited Macaulay style:

Awake, awake, ye burghers brave! shout, shout for joy and sing! With thirty thousand at his back comes forth your hero King. Now shake for ever from your necks the servile yoke of Spain, And raise your arms and end for aye false Alva's cruel reign. Ho! Maestricht, Liege, Brussels fair! pour forth your warriors brave, And join your hands with him who comes your hearths and homes to save.

Some people like this style.

Mrs. Horace Dobell, who has arrived at her seventeenth volume of poetry, seems very angry with everybody, and writes poems to A Human Toad with lurid and mysterious footnotes such as—'Yet some one, not a friend of —- did! on a certain occasion of a glib utterance of calumnies, by —-! at Hampstead.' Here indeed is a Soul's Tragedy.

'In many cases I have deliberately employed alliteration, believing that the music of a line is intensified thereby,' says Mr. Kelly in the preface to his poems, and there is certainly no reason why Mr. Kelly should not employ this 'artful aid.' Alliteration is one of the many secrets of English poetry, and as long as it is kept a secret it is admirable. Mr. Kelly, it must be admitted, uses it with becoming modesty and reserve and never suffers it to trammel the white feet of his bright and buoyant muse. His volume is, in many ways, extremely interesting. Most minor poets are at their best in sonnets, but with him it is not so. His sonnets are too narrative, too diffuse, and too lyrical. They lack concentration, and concentration is the very essence of a sonnet. His longer poems, on the other hand, have many good qualities. We do not care for Psychossolles, which is elaborately commonplace, but The Flight of Calliope has many charming passages. It is a pity that Mr. Kelly has included the poems written before the age of nineteen. Youth is rarely original.

Andiatorocte is the title of a volume of poems by the Rev. Clarence Walworth, of Albany, N.Y. It is a word borrowed from the Indians, and should, we think, be returned to them as soon as possible. The most curious poem of the book is called Scenes at the Holy Home:

Jesus and Joseph at work! Hurra! Sight never to see again, A prentice Deity plies the saw, While the Master ploughs with the plane.

Poems of this kind were popular in the Middle Ages when the cathedrals of every Christian country served as its theatres. They are anachronisms now, and it is odd that they should come to us from the United States. In matters of this kind we should have some protection.

(1) Lays and Legends. By E. Nesbit. (Longmans, Green and Co.)

(2) Rebecca the Witch and Other Tales. By David Skaats Foster. (G. P. Putnam's Sons.)

(3) Poems and Songs. By John Renton Denning. (Bombay: Education Society's Press.)

(4) Poems. By Joseph McKim. (Kegan Paul.)

(5) In the Watches of the Night. Poems in eighteen volumes. By Mrs. Horace Dobell. Vol. xvii. (Remington and Co.)

(6) Poems. By James Kelly. (Glasgow: Reid and Coghill.)

(7) Andiatorocte. By the Rev. Clarence A. Walworth. (G. P. Putnam's Sons.)


(Woman's World, December 1888.)

'If I were king,' says Mr. Henley, in one of his most modest rondeaus,

'Art should aspire, yet ugliness be dear; Beauty, the shaft, should speed with wit for feather; And love, sweet love, should never fall to sere, If I were king.'

And these lines contain, if not the best criticism of his own work, certainly a very complete statement of his aim and motive as a poet. His little Book of Verses reveals to us an artist who is seeking to find new methods of expression and has not merely a delicate sense of beauty and a brilliant, fantastic wit, but a real passion also for what is horrible, ugly, or grotesque. No doubt, everything that is worthy of existence is worthy also of art—at least, one would like to think so—but while echo or mirror can repeat for us a beautiful thing, to render artistically a thing that is ugly requires the most exquisite alchemy of form, the most subtle magic of transformation. To me there is more of the cry of Marsyas than of the singing of Apollo in the earlier poems of Mr. Henley's volume, In Hospital: Rhymes and Rhythms, as he calls them. But it is impossible to deny their power. Some of them are like bright, vivid pastels; others like charcoal drawings, with dull blacks and murky whites; others like etchings with deeply-bitten lines, and abrupt contrasts, and clever colour-suggestions. In fact, they are like anything and everything, except perfected poems—that they certainly are not. They are still in the twilight. They are preludes, experiments, inspired jottings in a note-book, and should be heralded by a design of 'Genius Making Sketches.' Rhyme gives architecture as well as melody to verse; it gives that delightful sense of limitation which in all the arts is so pleasurable, and is, indeed, one of the secrets of perfection; it will whisper, as a French critic has said, 'things unexpected and charming, things with strange and remote relations to each other,' and bind them together in indissoluble bonds of beauty; and in his constant rejection of rhyme, Mr. Henley seems to me to have abdicated half his power. He is a roi en exil who has thrown away some of the strings of his lute; a poet who has forgotten the fairest part of his kingdom.

However, all work criticises itself. Here is one of Mr. Henley's inspired jottings. According to the temperament of the reader, it will serve either as a model or as the reverse:

As with varnish red and glistening Dripped his hair; his feet were rigid; Raised, he settled stiffly sideways: You could see the hurts were spinal.

He had fallen from an engine, And been dragged along the metals. It was hopeless, and they knew it; So they covered him, and left him.

As he lay, by fits half sentient, Inarticulately moaning, With his stockinged feet protruded Sharp and awkward from the blankets,

To his bed there came a woman, Stood and looked and sighed a little, And departed without speaking, As himself a few hours after.

I was told she was his sweetheart. They were on the eve of marriage. She was quiet as a statue, But her lip was gray and writhen.

In this poem, the rhythm and the music, such as it is, are obvious—perhaps a little too obvious. In the following I see nothing but ingeniously printed prose. It is a description—and a very accurate one—of a scene in a hospital ward. The medical students are supposed to be crowding round the doctor. What I quote is only a fragment, but the poem itself is a fragment:

So shows the ring Seen, from behind, round a conjuror Doing his pitch in the street. High shoulders, low shoulders, broad shoulders, narrow ones, Round, square, and angular, serry and shove; While from within a voice, Gravely and weightily fluent, Sounds; and then ceases; and suddenly (Look at the stress of the shoulders!) Out of a quiver of silence, Over the hiss of the spray, Comes a low cry, and the sound Of breath quick intaken through teeth Clenched in resolve. And the master Breaks from the crowd, and goes, Wiping his hands, To the next bed, with his pupils Flocking and whispering behind him.

Now one can see. Case Number One Sits (rather pale) with his bedclothes Stripped up, and showing his foot (Alas, for God's image!) Swaddled in wet white lint Brilliantly hideous with red.

Theophile Gautier once said that Flaubert's style was meant to be read, and his own style to be looked at. Mr. Henley's unrhymed rhythms form very dainty designs, from a typographical point of view. From the point of view of literature, they are a series of vivid, concentrated impressions, with a keen grip of fact, a terrible actuality, and an almost masterly power of picturesque presentation. But the poetic form—what of that?

Well, let us pass to the later poems, to the rondels and rondeaus, the sonnets and quatorzains, the echoes and the ballades. How brilliant and fanciful this is! The Toyokuni colour-print that suggested it could not be more delightful. It seems to have kept all the wilful fantastic charm of the original:

Was I a Samurai renowned, Two-sworded, fierce, immense of bow? A histrion angular and profound? A priest? a porter?—Child, although I have forgotten clean, I know That in the shade of Fujisan, What time the cherry-orchards blow, I loved you once in old Japan.

As here you loiter, flowing-gowned And hugely sashed, with pins a-row Your quaint head as with flamelets crowned, Demure, inviting—even so, When merry maids in Miyako To feel the sweet o' the year began, And green gardens to overflow, I loved you once in old Japan.

Clear shine the hills; the rice-fields round Two cranes are circling; sleepy and slow, A blue canal the lake's blue bound Breaks at the bamboo bridge; and lo! Touched with the sundown's spirit and glow, I see you turn, with flirted fan, Against the plum-tree's bloomy snow . . . I loved you once in old Japan!


Dear, 'twas a dozen lives ago; But that I was a lucky man The Toyokuni here will show: I loved you—once—in old Japan!

This rondel, too—how light it is, and graceful!—

We'll to the woods and gather may Fresh from the footprints of the rain. We'll to the woods, at every vein To drink the spirit of the day.

The winds of spring are out at play, The needs of spring in heart and brain. We'll to the woods and gather may Fresh from the footprints of the rain.

The world's too near her end, you say? Hark to the blackbird's mad refrain! It waits for her, the vast Inane? Then, girls, to help her on the way We'll to the woods and gather may.

There are fine verses, also, scattered through this little book; some of them very strong, as—

Out of the night that covers me, Black as the pit from pole to pole, I thank whatever gods may be For my unconquerable soul.

It matters not how strait the gate, How charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.

Others with a true touch of romance, as—

Or ever the knightly years were gone With the old world to the grave, I was a king in Babylon, And you were a Christian slave.

And here and there we come across such felicitous phrases as—

In the sand The gold prow-griffin claws a hold,


The spires Shine and are changed,

and many other graceful or fanciful lines, even 'the green sky's minor thirds' being perfectly right in its place, and a very refreshing bit of affectation in a volume where there is so much that is natural.

However, Mr. Henley is not to be judged by samples. Indeed, the most attractive thing in the book is no single poem that is in it, but the strong humane personality that stands behind both flawless and faulty work alike, and looks out through many masks, some of them beautiful, and some grotesque, and not a few misshapen. In the case with most of our modern poets, when we have analysed them down to an adjective, we can go no further, or we care to go no further; but with this book it is different. Through these reeds and pipes blows the very breath of life. It seems as if one could put one's hand upon the singer's heart and count its pulsations. There is something wholesome, virile and sane about the man's soul. Anybody can be reasonable, but to be sane is not common; and sane poets are as rare as blue lilies, though they may not be quite so delightful.

Let the great winds their worst and wildest blow, Or the gold weather round us mellow slow; We have fulfilled ourselves, and we can dare, And we can conquer, though we may not share In the rich quiet of the afterglow, What is to come,

is the concluding stanza of the last rondeau—indeed, of the last poem in the collection, and the high, serene temper displayed in these lines serves at once as keynote and keystone to the book. The very lightness and slightness of so much of the work, its careless moods and casual fancies, seem to suggest a nature that is not primarily interested in art—a nature, like Sordello's, passionately enamoured of life, one to which lyre and lute are things of less importance. From this mere joy of living, this frank delight in experience for its own sake, this lofty indifference, and momentary unregretted ardours, come all the faults and all the beauties of the volume. But there is this difference between them—the faults are deliberate, and the result of much study; the beauties have the air of fascinating impromptus. Mr. Henley's healthy, if sometimes misapplied, confidence in the myriad suggestions of life gives him his charm. He is made to sing along the highways, not to sit down and write. If he took himself more seriously, his work would become trivial.

* * * * *

Mr. William Sharp takes himself very seriously and has written a preface to his Romantic Ballads and Poems of Phantasy, which is, on the whole, the most interesting part of his volume. We are all, it seems, far too cultured, and lack robustness. 'There are those amongst us,' says Mr. Sharp, 'who would prefer a dexterously-turned triolet to such apparently uncouth measures as Thomas the Rhymer, or the ballad of Clerk Saunders: who would rather listen to the drawing-room music of the Villanelle than to the wild harp-playing by the mill-dams o' Binnorie, or the sough of the night-wind o'er drumly Annan water.' Such an expression as 'the drawing-room music of the Villanelle' is not very happy, and I cannot imagine any one with the smallest pretensions to culture preferring a dexterously turned triolet to a fine imaginative ballad, as it is only the Philistine who ever dreams of comparing works of art that are absolutely different in motive, in treatment, and in form. If English Poetry is in danger—and, according to Mr. Sharp, the poor nymph is in a very critical state—what she has to fear is not the fascination of dainty metre or delicate form, but the predominance of the intellectual spirit over the spirit of beauty. Lord Tennyson dethroned Wordsworth as a literary influence, and later on Mr. Swinburne filled all the mountain valleys with echoes of his own song. The influence to-day is that of Mr. Browning. And as for the triolets, and the rondels, and the careful study of metrical subtleties, these things are merely the signs of a desire for perfection in small things and of the recognition of poetry as an art. They have had certainly one good result—they have made our minor poets readable, and have not left us entirely at the mercy of geniuses.

But, says Mr. Sharp, every one is far too literary; even Rossetti is too literary. What we want is simplicity and directness of utterance; these should be the dominant characteristics of poetry. Well, is that quite so certain? Are simplicity and directness of utterance absolute essentials for poetry? I think not. They may be admirable for the drama, admirable for all those imitative forms of literature that claim to mirror life in its externals and its accidents, admirable for quiet narrative, admirable in their place; but their place is not everywhere. Poetry has many modes of music; she does not blow through one pipe alone. Directness of utterance is good, but so is the subtle recasting of thought into a new and delightful form. Simplicity is good, but complexity, mystery, strangeness, symbolism, obscurity even, these have their value. Indeed, properly speaking, there is no such thing as Style; there are merely styles, that is all.

One cannot help feeling also that everything that Mr. Sharp says in his preface was said at the beginning of the century by Wordsworth, only where Wordsworth called us back to nature, Mr. Sharp invites us to woo romance. Romance, he tells us, is 'in the air.' A new romantic movement is imminent; 'I anticipate,' he says, 'that many of our poets, especially those of the youngest generation, will shortly turn towards the "ballad" as a poetic vehicle: and that the next year or two will see much romantic poetry.'

The ballad! Well, Mr. Andrew Lang, some months ago, signed the death- warrant of the ballade, and—though I hope that in this respect Mr. Lang resembles the Queen in Alice in Wonderland, whose bloodthirsty orders were by general consent never carried into execution—it must be admitted that the number of ballades given to us by some of our poets was, perhaps, a little excessive. But the ballad? Sir Patrick Spens, Clerk Saunders, Thomas the Rhymer—are these to be our archetypes, our models, the sources of our inspiration? They are certainly great imaginative poems. In Chatterton's Ballad of Charity, Coleridge's Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner, the La Belle Dame sans Merci of Keats, the Sister Helen of Rossetti, we can see what marvellous works of art the spirit of old romance may fashion. But to preach a spirit is one thing, to propose a form is another. It is true that Mr. Sharp warns the rising generation against imitation. A ballad, he reminds them, does not necessarily denote a poem in quatrains and in antique language. But his own poems, as I think will be seen later, are, in their way, warnings, and show the danger of suggesting any definite 'poetic vehicle.' And, further, are simplicity and directness of utterance really the dominant characteristics of these old imaginative ballads that Mr. Sharp so enthusiastically, and, in some particulars, so wisely praises? It does not seem to me to be so. We are always apt to think that the voices which sang at the dawn of poetry were simpler, fresher, and more natural than ours, and that the world which the early poets looked at, and through which they walked, had a kind of poetical quality of its own, and could pass, almost without changing, into song. The snow lies thick now upon Olympus, and its scarped sides are bleak and barren, but once, we fancy, the white feet of the Muses brushed the dew from the anemones in the morning, and at evening came Apollo to sing to the shepherds in the vale. But in this we are merely lending to other ages what we desire, or think we desire, for our own. Our historical sense is at fault. Every century that produces poetry is, so far, an artificial century, and the work that seems to us the most natural and simple product of its time is probably the result of the most deliberate and self-conscious effort. For Nature is always behind the age. It takes a great artist to be thoroughly modern.

Let us turn to the poems, which have really only the preface to blame for their somewhat late appearance. The best is undoubtedly The Weird of Michael Scott, and these stanzas are a fair example of its power:

Then Michael Scott laughed long and loud: 'Whan shone the mune ahint yon cloud I speered the towers that saw my birth— Lang, lang, sall wait my cauld grey shroud, Lang cauld and weet my bed o' earth!'

But as by Stair he rode full speed His horse began to pant and bleed; 'Win hame, win hame, my bonnie mare, Win hame if thou wouldst rest and feed, Win hame, we're nigh the House of Stair!'

But, with a shrill heart-bursten yell The white horse stumbled, plunged, and fell, And loud a summoning voice arose, 'Is't White-Horse Death that rides frae Hell, Or Michael Scott that hereby goes?'

'Ah, Laird of Stair, I ken ye weel! Avaunt, or I your saul sall steal, An' send ye howling through the wood A wild man-wolf—aye, ye maun reel An' cry upon your Holy Rood!'

There is a good deal of vigour, no doubt, in these lines; but one cannot help asking whether this is to be the common tongue of the future Renaissance of Romance. Are we all to talk Scotch, and to speak of the moon as the 'mune,' and the soul as the 'saul'? I hope not. And yet if this Renaissance is to be a vital, living thing, it must have its linguistic side. Just as the spiritual development of music, and the artistic development of painting, have always been accompanied, if not occasioned, by the discovery of some new instrument or some fresh medium, so, in the case of any important literary movement, half of its strength resides in its language. If it does not bring with it a rich and novel mode of expression, it is doomed either to sterility or to imitation. Dialect, archaisms and the like, will not do. Take, for instance, another poem of Mr. Sharp's, a poem which he calls The Deith-Tide:

The weet saut wind is blawing Upon the misty shore: As, like a stormy snawing, The deid go streaming o'er:— The wan drown'd deid sail wildly Frae out each drumly wave: It's O and O for the weary sea, And O for a quiet grave.

This is simply a very clever pastiche, nothing more, and our language is not likely to be permanently enriched by such words as 'weet,' 'saut,' 'blawing,' and 'snawing.' Even 'drumly,' an adjective of which Mr. Sharp is so fond that he uses it both in prose and verse, seems to me to be hardly an adequate basis for a new romantic movement.

However, Mr. Sharp does not always write in dialect. The Son of Allan can be read without any difficulty, and Phantasy can be read with pleasure. They are both very charming poems in their way, and none the less charming because the cadences of the one recall Sister Helen, and the motive of the other reminds us of La Belle Dame sans Merci. But those who wish thoroughly to enjoy Mr. Sharp's poems should not read his preface; just as those who approve of the preface should avoid reading the poems. I cannot help saying that I think the preface a great mistake. The work that follows it is quite inadequate, and there seems little use in heralding a dawn that rose long ago, and proclaiming a Renaissance whose first-fruits, if we are to judge them by any high standard of perfection, are of so ordinary a character.

* * * * *

Miss Mary Robinson has also written a preface to her little volume, Poems, Ballads, and a Garden Play, but the preface is not very serious, and does not propose any drastic change or any immediate revolution in English literature. Miss Robinson's poems have always the charm of delicate music and graceful expression; but they are, perhaps, weakest where they try to be strong, and certainly least satisfying where they seek to satisfy. Her fanciful flower-crowned Muse, with her tripping steps and pretty, wilful ways, should not write Antiphons to the Unknowable, or try to grapple with abstract intellectual problems. Hers is not the hand to unveil mysteries, nor hers the strength for the solving of secrets. She should never leave her garden, and as for her wandering out into the desert to ask the Sphinx questions, that should be sternly forbidden to her. Durer's Melancolia, that serves as the frontispiece to this dainty book, looks sadly out of place. Her seat is with the sibyls, not with the nymphs. What has she to do with shepherdesses piping about Darwinism and 'The Eternal Mind'?

However, if the Songs of the Inner Life are not very successful, the Spring Songs are delightful. They follow each other like wind-blown petals, and make one feel how much more charming flower is than fruit, apple-blossom than apple. There are some artistic temperaments that should never come to maturity, that should always remain in the region of promise and should dread autumn with its harvesting more than winter with its frosts. Such seems to me the temperament that this volume reveals. The first poem of the second series, La Belle au Bois Dormant, is worth all the more serious and thoughtful work, and has far more chance of being remembered. It is not always to high aim and lofty ambition that the prize is given. If Daphne had gone to meet Apollo, she would never have known what laurels are.

From these fascinating spring lyrics and idylls we pass to the romantic ballads. One artistic faculty Miss Robinson certainly possesses—the faculty of imitation. There is an element of imitation in all the arts; it is to be found in literature as much as in painting, and the danger of valuing it too little is almost as great as the danger of setting too high a value upon it. To catch, by dainty mimicry, the very mood and manner of antique work, and yet to retain that touch of modern passion without which the old form would be dull and empty; to win from long-silent lips some faint echo of their music, and to add to it a music of one's own; to take the mode and fashion of a bygone age, and to experiment with it, and search curiously for its possibilities; there is a pleasure in all this. It is a kind of literary acting, and has something of the charm of the art of the stage-player. And how well, on the whole, Miss Robinson does it! Here is the opening of the ballad of Rudel:

There was in all the world of France No singer half so sweet: The first note of his viol brought A crowd into the street.

He stepped as young, and bright, and glad As Angel Gabriel. And only when we heard him sing Our eyes forgot Rudel.

And as he sat in Avignon, With princes at their wine, In all that lusty company Was none so fresh and fine.

His kirtle's of the Arras-blue, His cap of pearls and green; His golden curls fall tumbling round The fairest face I've seen.

How Gautier would have liked this from the same poem!—

Hew the timbers of sandal-wood, And planks of ivory; Rear up the shining masts of gold, And let us put to sea.

Sew the sails with a silken thread That all are silken too; Sew them with scarlet pomegranates Upon a sheet of blue.

Rig the ship with a rope of gold And let us put to sea. And now, good-bye to good Marseilles, And hey for Tripoli!

The ballad of the Duke of Gueldres's wedding is very clever:

'O welcome, Mary Harcourt, Thrice welcome, lady mine; There's not a knight in all the world Shall be as true as thine.

'There's venison in the aumbry, Mary, There's claret in the vat; Come in, and breakfast in the hall Where once my mother sat!'

O red, red is the wine that flows, And sweet the minstrel's play, But white is Mary Harcourt Upon her wedding-day.

O many are the wedding guests That sit on either side; But pale below her crimson flowers And homesick is the bride.

Miss Robinson's critical sense is at once too sound and too subtle to allow her to think that any great Renaissance of Romance will necessarily follow from the adoption of the ballad-form in poetry; but her work in this style is very pretty and charming, and The Tower of St. Maur, which tells of the father who built up his little son in the wall of his castle in order that the foundations should stand sure, is admirable in its way. The few touches of archaism in language that she introduces are quite sufficient for their purpose, and though she fully appreciates the importance of the Celtic spirit in literature, she does not consider it necessary to talk of 'blawing' and 'snawing.' As for the garden play, Our Lady of the Broken Heart, as it is called, the bright, birdlike snatches of song that break in here and there—as the singing does in Pippa Passes—form a very welcome relief to the somewhat ordinary movement of the blank verse, and suggest to us again where Miss Robinson's real power lies. Not a poet in the true creative sense, she is still a very perfect artist in poetry, using language as one might use a very precious material, and producing her best work by the rejection of the great themes and large intellectual motives that belong to fuller and richer song. When she essays such themes, she certainly fails. Her instrument is the reed, not the lyre. Only those should sing of Death whose song is stronger than Death is.

* * * * *

The collected poems of the author of John Halifax, Gentleman, have a pathetic interest as the artistic record of a very gracious and comely life. They bring us back to the days when Philip Bourke Marston was young—'Philip, my King,' as she called him in the pretty poem of that name; to the days of the Great Exhibition, with the universal piping about peace; to those later terrible Crimean days, when Alma and Balaclava were words on the lips of our poets; and to days when Leonora was considered a very romantic name.

Leonora, Leonora, How the word rolls—Leonora. Lion-like in full-mouthed sound, Marching o'er the metric ground, With a tawny tread sublime. So your name moves, Leonora, Down my desert rhyme.

Mrs. Craik's best poems are, on the whole, those that are written in blank verse; and these, though not prosaic, remind one that prose was her true medium of expression. But some of the rhymed poems have considerable merit. These may serve as examples of Mrs. Craik's style:


Dost thou thus love me, O thou all beloved, In whose large store the very meanest coin Would out-buy my whole wealth? Yet here thou comest Like a kind heiress from her purple and down Uprising, who for pity cannot sleep, But goes forth to the stranger at her gate— The beggared stranger at her beauteous gate— And clothes and feeds; scarce blest till she has blest.

But dost thou love me, O thou pure of heart, Whose very looks are prayers? What couldst thou see In this forsaken pool by the yew-wood's side, To sit down at its bank, and dip thy hand, Saying, 'It is so clear!'—and lo! ere long, Its blackness caught the shimmer of thy wings, Its slimes slid downward from thy stainless palm, Its depths grew still, that there thy form might rise.


It is near morning. Ere the next night fall I shall be made the bride of heaven. Then home To my still marriage-chamber I shall come, And spouseless, childless, watch the slow years crawl.

These lips will never meet a softer touch Than the stone crucifix I kiss; no child Will clasp this neck. Ah, virgin-mother mild, Thy painted bliss will mock me overmuch.

This is the last time I shall twist the hair My mother's hand wreathed, till in dust she lay: The name, her name given on my baptism day, This is the last time I shall ever bear.

O weary world, O heavy life, farewell! Like a tired child that creeps into the dark To sob itself asleep, where none will mark,— So creep I to my silent convent cell.

Friends, lovers whom I loved not, kindly hearts Who grieve that I should enter this still door, Grieve not. Closing behind me evermore, Me from all anguish, as all joy, it parts.

The volume chronicles the moods of a sweet and thoughtful nature, and though many things in it may seem somewhat old-fashioned, it is still very pleasant to read, and has a faint perfume of withered rose-leaves about it.

(1) A Book of Verses. By William Ernest Henley. (David Nutt.)

(2) Romantic Ballads and Poems of Phantasy. By William Sharp. (Walter Scott.)

(3) Poems, Ballads, and a Garden Play. By A. Mary F. Robinson. (Fisher Unwin.)

(4) Poems. By the Author of John Halifax, Gentleman. (Macmillan and Co.)


(Pall Mall Gazette, December 11, 1888.)

Writers of poetical prose are rarely good poets. They may crowd their page with gorgeous epithet and resplendent phrase, may pile Pelions of adjectives upon Ossas of descriptions, may abandon themselves to highly coloured diction and rich luxuriance of imagery, but if their verse lacks the true rhythmical life of verse, if their method is devoid of the self- restraint of the real artist, all their efforts are of very little avail. 'Asiatic' prose is possibly useful for journalistic purposes, but 'Asiatic' poetry is not to be encouraged. Indeed, poetry may be said to need far more self-restraint than prose. Its conditions are more exquisite. It produces its effects by more subtle means. It must not be allowed to degenerate into mere rhetoric or mere eloquence. It is, in one sense, the most self-conscious of all the arts, as it is never a means to an end but always an end in itself. Sir Edwin Arnold has a very picturesque or, perhaps we should say, a very pictorial style. He knows India better than any living Englishman knows it, and Hindoostanee better than any English writer should know it. If his descriptions lack distinction, they have at least the merit of being true, and when he does not interlard his pages with an interminable and intolerable series of foreign words he is pleasant enough. But he is not a poet. He is simply a poetical writer—that is all.

However, poetical writers have their uses, and there is a good deal in Sir Edwin Arnold's last volume that will repay perusal. The scene of the story is placed in a mosque attached to the monument of the Taj-Mahal, and a group composed of a learned Mirza, two singing girls with their attendant, and an Englishman, is supposed to pass the night there reading the chapter of Sa'di upon 'Love,' and conversing upon that theme with accompaniments of music and dancing. The Englishman is, of course, Sir Edwin Arnold himself:

lover of India, Too much her lover! for his heart lived there How far soever wandered thence his feet.

Lady Dufferin appears as

Lady Duffreen, the mighty Queen's Vice-queen!

which is really one of the most dreadful blank-verse lines that we have come across for some time past. M. Renan is 'a priest of Frangestan,' who writes in 'glittering French'; Lord Tennyson is

One we honour for his songs— Greater than Sa'di's self—

and the Darwinians appear as the 'Mollahs of the West,' who

hold Adam's sons Sprung of the sea-slug.

All this is excellent fooling in its way, a kind of play-acting in literature; but the best parts of the book are the descriptions of the Taj itself, which are extremely elaborate, and the various translations from Sa'di with which the volume is interspersed. The great monument Shah Jahan built for Arjamand is

Instinct with loveliness—not masonry! Not architecture! as all others are, But the proud passion of an Emperor's love Wrought into living stone, which gleams and soars With body of beauty shrining soul and thought, Insomuch that it haps as when some face Divinely fair unveils before our eyes— Some woman beautiful unspeakably— And the blood quickens, and the spirit leaps, And will to worship bends the half-yielded knees, Which breath forgets to breathe: so is the Taj; You see it with the heart, before the eyes Have scope to gaze. All white! snow white! cloud white!

We cannot say much in praise of the sixth line:

Insomuch that it haps as when some face:

it is curiously awkward and unmusical. But this passage from Sa'di is remarkable:

When Earth, bewildered, shook in earthquake-throes, With mountain-roots He bound her borders close; Turkis and ruby in her rocks He stored, And on her green branch hung His crimson rose.

He shapes dull seed to fair imaginings; Who paints with moisture as He painteth things? Look! from the cloud He sheds one drop on ocean, As from the Father's loins one drop He brings;—

And out of that He forms a peerless pearl, And, out of this, a cypress boy or girl; Utterly wotting all their innermosts, For all to Him is visible! Uncurl

Your cold coils, Snakes! Creep forth, ye thrifty Ants! Handless and strengthless He provides your wants Who from the 'Is not' planned the 'Is to be,' And Life in non-existent void implants.

Sir Edwin Arnold suffers, of course, from the inevitable comparison that one cannot help making between his work and the work of Edward Fitzgerald, and certainly Fitzgerald could never have written such a line as 'utterly wotting all their innermosts,' but it is interesting to read almost any translation of those wonderful Oriental poets with their strange blending of philosophy and sensuousness, of simple parable or fable and obscure mystic utterance. What we regret most in Sir Edwin Arnold's book is his habit of writing in what really amounts to a sort of 'pigeon English.' When we are told that 'Lady Duffreen, the mighty Queen's Vice-queen,' paces among the charpoys of the ward 'no whit afraid of sitla, or of tap'; when the Mirza explains—

ag lejao! To light the kallians for the Saheb and me,

and the attendant obeys with 'Achcha! Achcha!' when we are invited to listen to 'the Vina and the drum' and told about ekkas, Byragis, hamals and Tamboora, all that we can say is that to such ghazals we are not prepared to say either Shamash or Afrin. In English poetry we do not want

chatkis for the toes, Jasams for elbow-bands, and gote and har, Bala and mala.

This is not local colour; it is a sort of local discoloration. It does not add anything to the vividness of the scene. It does not bring the Orient more clearly before us. It is simply an inconvenience to the reader and a mistake on the part of the writer. It may be difficult for a poet to find English synonyms for Asiatic expressions, but even if it were impossible it is none the less a poet's duty to find them. We are sorry that a scholar and a man of culture like Sir Edwin Arnold should have been guilty of what is really an act of treason against our literature. But for this error, his book, though not in any sense a work of genius or even of high artistic merit, would still have been of some enduring value. As it is, Sir Edwin Arnold has translated Sa'di and some one must translate Sir Edwin Arnold.

With Sa'di in the Garden; or The Book of Love. By Sir Edwin Arnold, M.A., K.C.I.E., Author of The Light of Asia, etc. (Trubner and Co.)


(Pall Mall Gazette, December 14, 1888.)

Mr. Sladen dedicates his anthology (or, perhaps, we should say his herbarium) of Australian song to Mr. Edmund Gosse, 'whose exquisite critical faculty is,' he tells us, 'as conspicuous in his poems as in his lectures on poetry.' After so graceful a compliment Mr. Gosse must certainly deliver a series of discourses upon Antipodean art before the Cambridge undergraduates, who will, no doubt, be very much interested on hearing about Gordon, Kendall and Domett, to say nothing of the extraordinary collection of mediocrities whom Mr. Sladen has somewhat ruthlessly dragged from their modest and well-merited obscurity. Gordon, however, is very badly represented in Mr. Sladen's book, the only three specimens of his work that are included being an unrevised fragment, his Valedictory Poem and An Exile's Farewell. The latter is, of course, touching, but then the commonplace always touches, and it is a great pity that Mr. Sladen was unable to come to any financial arrangement with the holders of Gordon's copyright. The loss to the volume that now lies before us is quite irreparable. Through Gordon Australia found her first fine utterance in song.

Still, there are some other singers here well worth studying, and it is interesting to read about poets who lie under the shadow of the gum-tree, gather wattle blossoms and buddawong and sarsaparilla for their loves, and wander through the glades of Mount Baw-baw listening to the careless raptures of the mopoke. To them November is

The wonder with the golden wings, Who lays one hand in Summer's, one in Spring's:

January is full of 'breaths of myrrh, and subtle hints of rose-lands';

She is the warm, live month of lustre—she Makes glad the land and lulls the strong sad sea;

while February is 'the true Demeter,' and

With rich warm vine-blood splashed from heel to knee, Comes radiant through the yellow woodlands.

Each month, as it passes, calls for new praise and for music different from our own. July is a 'lady, born in wind and rain'; in August

Across the range, by every scarred black fell, Strong Winter blows his horn of wild farewell;

while October is 'the queen of all the year,' the 'lady of the yellow hair,' who strays 'with blossom-trammelled feet' across the 'haughty-featured hills,' and brings the Spring with her. We must certainly try to accustom ourselves to the mopoke and the sarsaparilla plant, and to make the gum-tree and the buddawong as dear to us as the olives and the narcissi of white Colonus. After all, the Muses are great travellers, and the same foot that stirred the Cumnor cowslips may some day brush the fallen gold of the wattle blossoms and tread delicately over the tawny bush-grass.

Mr. Sladen has, of course, a great belief in the possibilities of Australian poetry. There are in Australia, he tells us, far more writers capable of producing good work than has been assumed. It is only natural, he adds, that this should be so, 'for Australia has one of those delightful climates conducive to rest in the open air. The middle of the day is so hot that it is really more healthful to lounge about than to take stronger exercise.' Well, lounging in the open air is not a bad school for poets, but it largely depends on the lounger. What strikes one on reading over Mr. Sladen's collection is the depressing provinciality of mood and manner in almost every writer. Page follows page, and we find nothing but echoes without music, reflections without beauty, second-rate magazine verses and third-rate verses for Colonial newspapers. Poe seems to have had some influence—at least, there are several parodies of his method—and one or two writers have read Mr. Swinburne; but, on the whole, we have artless Nature in her most irritating form. Of course Australia is young, younger even than America whose youth is now one of her oldest and most hallowed traditions, but the entire want of originality of treatment is curious. And yet not so curious, perhaps, after all. Youth is rarely original.

There are, however, some exceptions. Henry Clarence Kendall had a true poetic gift. The series of poems on the Austral months, from which we have already quoted, is full of beautiful things; Landor's Rose Aylmer is a classic in its way, but Kendall's Rose Lorraine is in parts not unworthy to be mentioned after it; and the poem entitled Beyond Kerguelen has a marvellous music about it, a wonderful rhythm of words and a real richness of utterance. Some of the lines are strangely powerful, and, indeed, in spite of its exaggerated alliteration, or perhaps in consequence of it, the whole poem is a most remarkable work of art.

Down in the South, by the waste without sail on it— Far from the zone of the blossom and tree— Lieth, with winter and whirlwind and wail on it, Ghost of a land by the ghost of a sea. Weird is the mist from the summit to base of it; Sun of its heaven is wizened and grey; Phantom of light is the light on the face of it— Never is night on it, never is day! Here is the shore without flower or bird on it; Here is no litany sweet of the springs— Only the haughty, harsh thunder is heard on it, Only the storm, with a roar in its wings!

Back in the dawn of this beautiful sphere, on it— Land of the dolorous, desolate face— Beamed the blue day; and the beautiful year on it Fostered the leaf and the blossom of grace. Grand were the lights of its midsummer noon on it— Mornings of majesty shone on its seas; Glitter of star and the glory of moon on it Fell, in the march of the musical breeze. Valleys and hills, with the whisper of wing in them, Dells of the daffodil—spaces impearled, Flowered and flashed with the splendour of spring in them, Back in the morn of this wonderful world.

Mr. Sladen speaks of Alfred Domett as 'the author of one of the great poems of a century in which Shelley and Keats, Byron and Scott, Wordsworth and Tennyson have all flourished,' but the extracts he gives from Ranolf and Amohia hardly substantiate this claim, although the song of the Tree-God in the fourth book is clever but exasperating.

A Midsummer's Noon, by Charles Harpur, 'the grey forefather of Australian poetry,' is pretty and graceful, and Thomas Henry's Wood-Notes and Miss Veel's Saturday Night are worth reading; but, on the whole, the Australian poets are extremely dull and prosaic. There seem to be no sirens in the New World. As for Mr. Sladen himself, he has done his work very conscientiously. Indeed, in one instance he almost re-writes an entire poem in consequence of the manuscript having reached him in a mutilated condition.

A pleasant land is the land of dreams At the back of the shining air! It hath sunnier skies and sheenier streams, And gardens than Earth's more fair,

is the first verse of this lucubration, and Mr. Sladen informs us with justifiable pride that the parts printed in italics are from his own pen! This is certainly editing with a vengeance, and we cannot help saying that it reflects more credit on Mr. Sladen's good nature than on his critical or his poetical powers. The appearance, also, in a volume of 'poems produced in Australia,' of selections from Horne's Orion cannot be defended, especially as we are given no specimen of the poetry Horne wrote during the time that he actually was in Australia, where he held the office of 'Warden of the Blue Mountains'—a position which, as far as the title goes, is the loveliest ever given to any poet, and would have suited Wordsworth admirably: Wordsworth, that is to say, at his best, for he not infrequently wrote like the Distributor of Stamps. However, Mr. Sladen has shown great energy in the compilation of this bulky volume which, though it does not contain much that is of any artistic value, has a certain historical interest, especially for those who care to study the conditions of intellectual life in the colonies of a great empire. The biographical notices of the enormous crowd of verse-makers which is included in this volume are chiefly from the pen of Mr. Patchett Martin. Some of them are not very satisfactory. 'Formerly of West Australia, now residing at Boston, U.S. Has published several volumes of poetry,' is a ludicrously inadequate account of such a man as John Boyle O'Reilly, while in 'poet, essayist, critic, and journalist, one of the most prominent figures in literary London,' few will recognise the industrious Mr. William Sharp.

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