by Oscar Wilde
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Up, ye People! or down into your graves! Cowards ever will be slaves!

is to be sung to the tune of Rule, Britannia! the old melody of The Vicar of Bray is to accompany the new Ballade of Law and Order—which, however, is not a ballade at all—and to the air of Here's to the Maiden of Bashful Fifteen the democracy of the future is to thunder forth one of Mr. T. D. Sullivan's most powerful and pathetic lyrics. It is clear that the Socialists intend to carry on the musical education of the people simultaneously with their education in political science and, here as elsewhere, they seem to be entirely free from any narrow bias or formal prejudice. Mendelssohn is followed by Moody and Sankey; the Wacht am Rhein stands side by side with the Marseillaise; Lillibulero, a chorus from Norma, John Brown and an air from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony are all equally delightful to them. They sing the National Anthem in Shelley's version and chant William Morris's Voice of Toil to the flowing numbers of Ye Banks and Braes of Bonny Doon. Victor Hugo talks somewhere of the terrible cry of 'Le Tigre Populaire,' but it is evident from Mr. Carpenter's book that should the Revolution ever break out in England we shall have no inarticulate roar but, rather, pleasant glees and graceful part-songs. The change is certainly for the better. Nero fiddled while Rome was burning—at least, inaccurate historians say he did; but it is for the building up of an eternal city that the Socialists of our day are making music, and they have complete confidence in the art instincts of the people.

They say that the people are brutal— That their instincts of beauty are dead— Were it so, shame on those who condemn them To the desperate struggle for bread. But they lie in their throats when they say it, For the people are tender at heart, And a wellspring of beauty lies hidden Beneath their life's fever and smart,

is a stanza from one of the poems in this volume, and the feeling expressed in these words is paramount everywhere. The Reformation gained much from the use of popular hymn-tunes, and the Socialists seem determined to gain by similar means a similar hold upon the people. However, they must not be too sanguine about the result. The walls of Thebes rose up to the sound of music, and Thebes was a very dull city indeed.

Chants of Labour: A Song-Book of the People. With Music. Edited by Edward Carpenter. With Designs by Walter Crane. (Swan Sonnenschein and Co.)


(Pall Mall Gazette, February 27, 1889.)

'If you to have your book criticized favorably, give yourself a good notice in the Preface!' is the golden rule laid down for the guidance of authors by Mr. Brander Matthews in an amusing essay on the art of preface- writing and, true to his own theory, he announces his volume as 'the most interesting, the most entertaining, and the most instructive book of the decade.' Entertaining it certainly is in parts. The essay on Poker, for instance, is very brightly and pleasantly written. Mr. Proctor objected to Poker on the somewhat trivial ground that it was a form of lying, and on the more serious ground that it afforded special opportunities for cheating; and, indeed, he regarded the mere existence of the game outside gambling dens as 'one of the most portentous phenomena of American civilisation.' Mr. Brander Matthews points out, in answer to these grave charges, that Bluffing is merely a suppressio veri and that it requires a great deal of physical courage on the part of the player. As for the cheating, he claims that Poker affords no more opportunities for the exercise of this art than either Whist or Ecarte, though he admits that the proper attitude towards an opponent whose good luck is unduly persistent is that of the German-American who, finding four aces in his hand, was naturally about to bet heavily, when a sudden thought struck him and he inquired, 'Who dole dem carts?' 'Jakey Einstein' was the answer. 'Jakey Einstein?' he repeated, laying down his hand; 'den I pass out.'

The history of the game will be found very interesting by all card-lovers. Like most of the distinctly national products of America, it seems to have been imported from abroad and can be traced back to an Italian game in the fifteenth century. Euchre was probably acclimatised on the Mississippi by the Canadian voyageurs, being a form of the French game of Triomphe. It was a Kentucky citizen who, desiring to give his sons a few words of solemn advice for their future guidance in life, had them summoned to his deathbed and said to them, 'Boys, when you go down the river to Orleens jest you beware of a game called Yucker where the jack takes the ace;—it's unchristian!'—after which warning he lay back and died in peace. And 'it was Euchre which the two gentlemen were playing in a boat on the Missouri River when a bystander, shocked by the frequency with which one of the players turned up the jack, took the liberty of warning the other player that the winner was dealing from the bottom, to which the loser, secure in his power of self-protection, answered gruffly, "Well, suppose he is—it's his deal, isn't it?"'

The chapter On the Antiquity of Jests, with its suggestion of an International Exhibition of Jokes, is capital. Such an exhibition, Mr. Matthews remarks, would at least dispel any lingering belief in the old saying that there are only thirty-eight good stories in existence and that thirty-seven of these cannot be told before ladies; and the Retrospective Section would certainly be the constant resort of any true folklorist. For most of the good stories of our time are really folklore, myth survivals, echoes of the past. The two well-known American proverbs, 'We have had a hell of a time' and 'Let the other man walk' are both traced back by Mr. Matthews: the first to Walpole's letters, and the other to a story Poggio tells of an inhabitant of Perugia who walked in melancholy because he could not pay his debts. 'Vah, stulte,' was the advice given to him, 'leave anxiety to your creditors!' and even Mr. William M. Evart's brilliant repartee when he was told that Washington once threw a dollar across the Natural Bridge in Virginia, 'In those days a dollar went so much farther than it does now!' seems to be the direct descendant of a witty remark of Foote's, though we must say that in this case we prefer the child to the father. The essay On the French Spoken by Those who do not Speak French is also cleverly written and, indeed, on every subject, except literature, Mr. Matthews is well worth reading.

On literature and literary subjects he is certainly 'sadly to seek.' The essay on The Ethics of Plagiarism, with its laborious attempt to rehabilitate Mr. Rider Haggard and its foolish remarks on Poe's admirable paper Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists, is extremely dull and commonplace and, in the elaborate comparison that he draws between Mr. Frederick Locker and Mr. Austin Dobson, the author of Pen and Ink shows that he is quite devoid of any real critical faculty or of any fine sense of the difference between ordinary society verse and the exquisite work of a very perfect artist in poetry. We have no objection to Mr. Matthews likening Mr. Locker to Mr. du Maurier, and Mr. Dobson to Randolph Caldecott and Mr. Edwin Abbey. Comparisons of this kind, though extremely silly, do not do much harm. In fact, they mean nothing and are probably not intended to mean anything. Upon the other hand, we really must protest against Mr. Matthews' efforts to confuse the poetry of Piccadilly with the poetry of Parnassus. To tell us, for instance, that Mr. Austin Dobson's verse 'has not the condensed clearness nor the incisive vigor of Mr. Locker's' is really too bad even for Transatlantic criticism. Nobody who lays claim to the slightest knowledge of literature and the forms of literature should ever bring the two names into conjunction. Mr. Locker has written some pleasant vers de societe, some tuneful trifles in rhyme admirably suited for ladies' albums and for magazines. But to mention Herrick and Suckling and Mr. Austin Dobson in connection with him is absurd. He is not a poet. Mr. Dobson, upon the other hand, has produced work that is absolutely classical in its exquisite beauty of form. Nothing more artistically perfect in its way than the Lines to a Greek Girl has been written in our time. This little poem will be remembered in literature as long as Thyrsis is remembered, and Thyrsis will never be forgotten. Both have that note of distinction that is so rare in these days of violence, exaggeration and rhetoric. Of course, to suggest, as Mr. Matthews does, that Mr. Dobson's poems belong to 'the literature of power' is ridiculous. Power is not their aim, nor is it their effect. They have other qualities, and in their own delicately limited sphere they have no contemporary rivals; they have none even second to them. However, Mr. Matthews is quite undaunted and tries to drag poor Mr. Locker out of Piccadilly, where he was really quite in his element, and to set him on Parnassus where he has no right to be and where he would not claim to be. He praises his work with the recklessness of an eloquent auctioneer. These very commonplace and slightly vulgar lines on A Human Skull:

It may have held (to shoot some random shots) Thy brains, Eliza Fry! or Baron Byron's; The wits of Nelly Gwynne or Doctor Watts— Two quoted bards. Two philanthropic sirens.

But this, I trust, is clearly understood, If man or woman, if adored or hated— Whoever own'd this Skull was not so good Nor quite so bad as many may have stated;

are considered by him to be 'sportive and brightsome' and full of 'playful humor,' and 'two things especially are to be noted in them—individuality and directness of expression.' Individuality and directness of expression! We wonder what Mr. Matthews thinks these words mean.

Unfortunate Mr. Locker with his uncouth American admirer! How he must blush to read these heavy panegyrics! Indeed, Mr. Matthews himself has at least one fit of remorse for his attempt to class Mr. Locker's work with the work of Mr. Austin Dobson, but like most fits of remorse it leads to nothing. On the very next page we have the complaint that Mr. Dobson's verse has not 'the condensed clearness' and the 'incisive vigor' of Mr. Locker's. Mr. Matthews should confine himself to his clever journalistic articles on Euchre, Poker, bad French and old jokes. On these subjects he can, to use an expression of his own, 'write funny.' He 'writes funny,' too, upon literature, but the fun is not quite so amusing.

Pen and Ink: Papers on Subjects of More or Less Importance. By Brander Matthews. (Longmans, Green and Co.)


(Woman's World, March 1889.)

Miss Nesbit has already made herself a name as a writer of graceful and charming verse, and though her last volume, Leaves of Life, does not show any distinct advance on her former work, it still fully maintains the high standard already achieved, and justifies the reputation of the author. There are some wonderfully pretty poems in it, poems full of quick touches of fancy, and of pleasant ripples of rhyme; and here and there a poignant note of passion flashes across the song, as a scarlet thread flashes through the shuttlerace of a loom, giving a new value to the delicate tints, and bringing the scheme of colour to a higher and more perfect key. In Miss Nesbit's earlier volume, the Lays and Legends, as it was called, there was an attempt to give poetic form to humanitarian dreams and socialistic aspirations; but the poems that dealt with these subjects were, on the whole, the least successful of the collection; and with the quick, critical instinct of an artist, Miss Nesbit seems to have recognised this. In the present volume, at any rate, such poems are rare, and these few felicitous verses give us the poet's defence:

A singer sings of rights and wrongs, Of world's ideals vast and bright, And feels the impotence of songs To scourge the wrong or help the right; And only writhes to feel how vain Are songs as weapons for his fight; And so he turns to love again, And sings of love for heart's delight.

For heart's delight the singers bind The wreath of roses round the head, And will not loose it lest they find Time victor, and the roses dead. 'Man can but sing of what he knows— I saw the roses fresh and red!' And so they sing the deathless rose, With withered roses garlanded.

And some within their bosom hide Their rose of love still fresh and fair, And walk in silence, satisfied To keep its folded fragrance rare. And some—who bear a flag unfurled— Wreathe with their rose the flag they bear, And sing their banner for the world, And for their heart the roses there.

Yet thus much choice in singing is; We sing the good, the true, the just, Passionate duty turned to bliss, And honour growing out of trust. Freedom we sing, and would not lose Her lightest footprint in life's dust. We sing of her because we choose, We sing of love because we must.

Certainly Miss Nesbit is at her best when she sings of love and nature. Here she is close to her subject, and her temperament gives colour and form to the various dramatic moods that are either suggested by Nature herself or brought to Nature for interpretation. This, for instance, is very sweet and graceful:

When all the skies with snow were grey, And all the earth with snow was white, I wandered down a still wood way, And there I met my heart's delight Slow moving through the silent wood, The spirit of its solitude: The brown birds and the lichened tree Seemed less a part of it than she.

Where pheasants' feet and rabbits' feet Had marked the snow with traces small, I saw the footprints of my sweet— The sweetest woodland thing of all. With Christmas roses in her hand, One heart-beat's space I saw her stand; And then I let her pass, and stood Lone in an empty world of wood.

And though by that same path I've passed Down that same woodland every day, That meeting was the first and last, And she is hopelessly away. I wonder was she really there— Her hands, and eyes, and lips, and hair? Or was it but my dreaming sent Her image down the way I went?

Empty the woods are where we met— They will be empty in the spring; The cowslip and the violet Will die without her gathering. But dare I dream one radiant day Red rose-wreathed she will pass this way Across the glad and honoured grass; And then—I will not let her pass.

And this Dedication, with its tender silver-grey notes of colour, is charming:

In any meadow where your feet may tread, In any garland that your love may wear, May be the flower whose hidden fragrance shed Wakes some old hope or numbs some old despair, And makes life's grief not quite so hard to bear, And makes life's joy more poignant and more dear Because of some delight dead many a year.

Or in some cottage garden there may be The flower whose scent is memory for you; The sturdy southern-wood, the frail sweet-pea, Bring back the swallow's cheep, the pigeon's coo, And youth, and hope, and all the dreams they knew, The evening star, the hedges grey with mist, The silent porch where Love's first kiss was kissed.

So in my garden may you chance to find Or royal rose or quiet meadow flower, Whose scent may be with some dear dream entwined, And give you back the ghost of some sweet hour, As lilies fragrant from an August shower, Or airs of June that over bean-fields blow, Bring back the sweetness of my long ago.

All through the volume we find the same dexterous refining of old themes, which is indeed the best thing that our lesser singers can give us, and a thing always delightful. There is no garden so well tilled but it can bear another blossom, and though the subject-matter of Miss Nesbit's book is as the subject-matter of almost all books of poetry, she can certainly lend a new grace and a subtle sweetness to almost everything on which she writes.

The Wanderings of Oisin and Other Poems is from the clever pen of Mr. W. B. Yeats, whose charming anthology of Irish fairy-tales I had occasion to notice in a recent number of the Woman's World. {437} It is, I believe, the first volume of poems that Mr. Yeats has published, and it is certainly full of promise. It must be admitted that many of the poems are too fragmentary, too incomplete. They read like stray scenes out of unfinished plays, like things only half remembered, or, at best, but dimly seen. But the architectonic power of construction, the power to build up and make perfect a harmonious whole, is nearly always the latest, as it certainly is the highest, development of the artistic temperament. It is somewhat unfair to expect it in early work. One quality Mr. Yeats has in a marked degree, a quality that is not common in the work of our minor poets, and is therefore all the more welcome to us—I mean the romantic temper. He is essentially Celtic, and his verse, at its best, is Celtic also. Strongly influenced by Keats, he seems to study how to 'load every rift with ore,' yet is more fascinated by the beauty of words than by the beauty of metrical music. The spirit that dominates the whole book is perhaps more valuable than any individual poem or particular passage, but this from The Wanderings of Oisin is worth quoting. It describes the ride to the Island of Forgetfulness:

And the ears of the horse went sinking away in the hollow light, For, as drift from a sailor slow drowning the gleams of the world and the sun, Ceased on our hands and faces, on hazel and oak leaf, the light, And the stars were blotted above us, and the whole of the world was one;

Till the horse gave a whinny; for cumbrous with stems of the hazel and oak, Of hollies, and hazels, and oak-trees, a valley was sloping away From his hoofs in the heavy grasses, with monstrous slumbering folk, Their mighty and naked and gleaming bodies heaped loose where they lay.

More comely than man may make them, inlaid with silver and gold, Were arrow and shield and war-axe, arrow and spear and blade, And dew-blanched horns, in whose hollows a child of three years old Could sleep on a couch of rushes, round and about them laid.

And this, which deals with the old legend of the city lying under the waters of a lake, is strange and interesting:

The maker of the stars and worlds Sat underneath the market cross, And the old men were walking, walking, And little boys played pitch-and-toss.

'The props,' said He, 'of stars and worlds Are prayers of patient men and good.' The boys, the women, and old men, Listening, upon their shadows stood.

A grey professor passing cried, 'How few the mind's intemperance rule! What shallow thoughts about deep things! The world grows old and plays the fool.'

The mayor came, leaning his left ear— There were some talking of the poor— And to himself cried, 'Communist!' And hurried to the guardhouse door.

The bishop came with open book, Whispering along the sunny path; There was some talking of man's God, His God of stupor and of wrath.

The bishop murmured, 'Atheist! How sinfully the wicked scoff!' And sent the old men on their way, And drove the boys and women off.

The place was empty now of people; A cock came by upon his toes; An old horse looked across the fence, And rubbed along the rail his nose.

The maker of the stars and worlds To His own house did Him betake, And on that city dropped a tear, And now that city is a lake.

Mr. Yeats has a great deal of invention, and some of the poems in his book, such as Mosada, Jealousy, and The Island of Statues, are very finely conceived. It is impossible to doubt, after reading his present volume, that he will some day give us work of high import. Up to this he has been merely trying the strings of his instrument, running over the keys.

* * * * *

Lady Munster's Dorinda is an exceedingly clever novel. The heroine is a sort of well-born Becky Sharp, only much more beautiful than Becky, or at least than Thackeray's portraits of her, which, however, have always seemed to me rather ill-natured. I feel sure that Mrs. Rawdon Crawley was extremely pretty, and I have never understood how it was that Thackeray could caricature with his pencil so fascinating a creation of his pen. In the first chapter of Lady Munster's novel we find Dorinda at a fashionable school, and the sketches of the three old ladies who preside over the select seminary are very amusing. Dorinda is not very popular, and grave suspicions rest upon her of having stolen a cheque. This is a startling debut for a heroine, and I was a little afraid at first that Dorinda, after undergoing endless humiliations, would be proved innocent in the last chapter. It was quite a relief to find that Dorinda was guilty. In fact, Dorinda is a kleptomaniac; that is to say, she is a member of the upper classes who spends her time in collecting works of art that do not belong to her. This, however, is only one of her accomplishments, and it does not occupy any important place in the story till the last volume is reached. Here we find Dorinda married to a Styrian Prince, and living in the luxury for which she had always longed. Unfortunately, while staying in the house of a friend she is detected stealing some rare enamels. Her punishment, as described by Lady Munster, is extremely severe; and when she finally commits suicide, maddened by the imprisonment to which her husband had subjected her, it is difficult not to feel a good deal of pity for her. Lady Munster writes a very clever, bright style, and has a wonderful faculty of drawing in a few sentences the most lifelike portraits of social types and social exceptions. Sir Jasper Broke and his sister, the Duke and Duchess of Cheviotdale, Lord and Lady Glenalmond, and Lord Baltimore, are all admirably drawn. The 'novel of high life,' as it used to be called, has of late years fallen into disrepute. Instead of duchesses in Mayfair, we have philanthropic young ladies in Whitechapel; and the fashionable and brilliant young dandies, in whom Disraeli and Bulwer Lytton took such delight, have been entirely wiped out as heroes of fiction by hardworking curates in the East End. The aim of most of our modern novelists seems to be, not to write good novels, but to write novels that will do good; and I am afraid that they are under the impression that fashionable life is not an edifying subject. They wish to reform the morals, rather than to portray the manners of their age. They have made the novel the mode of propaganda. It is possible, however, that Dorinda points to some coming change, and certainly it would be a pity if the Muse of Fiction confined her attention entirely to the East End.

* * * * *

The four remarkable women whom Mrs. Walford has chosen as the subjects of her Four Biographies from 'Blackwood' are Jane Taylor, Elizabeth Fry, Hannah More, and Mary Somerville. Perhaps it is too much to say that Jane Taylor is remarkable. In her day she was said to have been 'known to four continents,' and Sir Walter Scott described her as 'among the first women of her time'; but no one now cares to read Essays in Rhyme, or Display, though the latter is really a very clever novel and full of capital things. Elizabeth Fry is, of course, one of the great personalities of this century, at any rate in the particular sphere to which she devoted herself, and ranks with the many uncanonised saints whom the world has loved, and whose memory is sweet. Mrs. Walford gives a most interesting account of her. We see her first a gay, laughing, flaxen-haired girl, 'mightily addicted to fun,' pleased to be finely dressed and sent to the opera to see the 'Prince,' and be seen by him; pleased to exhibit her pretty figure in a becoming scarlet riding-habit, and to be looked at with obvious homage by the young officers quartered hard by, as she rode along the Norfolk lanes; 'dissipated' by simply hearing their band play in the square, and made giddy by the veriest trifle: 'an idle, flirting, worldly girl,' to use her own words. Then came the eventful day when 'in purple boots laced with scarlet' she went to hear William Savery preach at the Meeting House. This was the turning- point of her life, her psychological moment, as the phrase goes. After it came the era of 'thees' and 'thous,' of the drab gown and the beaver hat, of the visits to Newgate and the convict ships, of the work of rescuing the outcast and seeking the lost. Mrs. Walford quotes the following interesting account of the famous interview with Queen Charlotte at the Mansion-House:

Inside the Egyptian Hall there was a subject for Hayter—the diminutive stature of the Queen, covered with diamonds, and her countenance lighted up with the kindest benevolence; Mrs. Fry, her simple Quaker's dress adding to the height of her figure—though a little flushed—preserving her wonted calmness of look and manner; several of the bishops standing near; the platform crowded with waving feathers, jewels, and orders; the hall lined with spectators, gaily and nobly clad, and the centre filled with hundreds of children, brought there from their different schools to be examined. A murmur of applause ran through the assemblage as the Queen took Mrs. Fry by the hand. The murmur was followed by a clap and a shout, which was taken up by the multitudes without till it died away in the distance.

Those who regard Hannah More as a prim maiden lady of the conventional type, with a pious and literary turn of mind, will be obliged to change their views should they read Mrs. Walford's admirable sketch of the authoress of Percy. Hannah More was a brilliant wit, a femme d'esprit, passionately fond of society, and loved by society in return. When the serious-minded little country girl, who at the age of eight had covered a whole quire of paper with letters seeking to reform imaginary depraved characters, and with return epistles full of contrition and promises of amendment, paid her first visit to London, she became at once the intimate friend of Johnson, Burke, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Garrick, and most of the distinguished people of the day, delighting them by her charm, and grace, and wit. 'I dined at the Adelphi yesterday,' she writes in one of her letters. 'Garrick was the very soul of the company, and I never saw Johnson in more perfect good-humour. After all had risen to go we stood round them for above an hour, laughing, in defiance of every rule of decorum and Chesterfield. I believe we should never have thought of sitting down, nor of parting, had not an impertinent watchman been saucily vociferating. Johnson outstaid them all, and sat with me for half an hour.' The following is from her sister's pen:

On Tuesday evening we drank tea at Sir Joshua's with Dr. Johnson. Hannah is certainly a great favourite. She was placed next him, and they had the entire conversation to themselves. They were both in remarkably high spirits, and it was certainly her lucky night; I never heard her say so many good things. The old genius was as jocular as the young one was pleasant. You would have imagined we were at some comedy had you heard our peals of laughter. They certainly tried which could 'pepper the highest,' and it is not clear to me that the lexicographer was really the highest seasoner.

Hannah More was certainly, as Mrs. Walford says, 'the feted and caressed idol of society.' The theatre at Bristol vaunted, 'Boast we not a More?' and the learned cits at Oxford inscribed their acknowledgment of her authority. Horace Walpole sat on the doorstep—or threatened to do so—till she promised to go down to Strawberry Hill; Foster quoted her; Mrs. Thrale twined her arms about her; Wilberforce consulted her and employed her. When The Estimate of the Religion of the Fashionable World was published anonymously, 'Aut Morus, aut Angelus,' exclaimed the Bishop of London, before he had read six pages. Of her village stories and ballads two million copies were sold during the first year. Caelebs in Search of a Wife ran into thirty editions. Mrs. Barbauld writes to tell her about 'a good and sensible woman' of her acquaintance, who, on being asked how she contrived to divert herself in the country, replied, 'I have my spinning-wheel and my Hannah More. When I have spun one pound of flax I put on another, and when I have finished my book I begin it again. I want no other amusement.' How incredible it all sounds! No wonder that Mrs. Walford exclaims, 'No other amusement! Good heavens! Breathes there a man, woman, or child with soul so quiescent nowadays as to be satisfied with reels of flax and yards of Hannah More? Give us Hannah's company, but not—not her writings!' It is only fair to say that Mrs. Walford has thoroughly carried out the views she expresses in this passage, for she gives us nothing of Hannah More's grandiloquent literary productions, and yet succeeds in making us know her thoroughly. The whole book is well written, but the biography of Hannah More is a wonderfully brilliant sketch, and deserves great praise.

* * * * *

Miss Mabel Wotton has invented a new form of picture-gallery. Feeling that the visible aspect of men and women can be expressed in literature no less than through the medium of line and colour, she has collected together a series of Word Portraits of Famous Writers extending from Geoffrey Chaucer to Mrs. Henry Wood. It is a far cry from the author of the Canterbury Tales to the authoress of East Lynne; but as a beauty, at any rate, Mrs. Wood deserved to be described, and we hear of the pure oval of her face, of her perfect mouth, her 'dazzling' complexion, and the extraordinary youth by which 'she kept to the last the . . . freshness of a young girl.' Many of the 'famous writers' seem to have been very ugly. Thomson, the poet, was of a dull countenance, and a gross, unanimated, uninviting appearance; Richardson looked 'like a plump white mouse in a wig.' Pope is described in the Guardian, in 1713, as 'a lively little creature, with long arms and legs: a spider is no ill emblem of him. He has been taken at a distance for a small windmill.' Charles Kingsley appears as 'rather tall, very angular, surprisingly awkward, with thin staggering legs, a hatchet face adorned with scraggy gray whiskers, a faculty for falling into the most ungainly attitudes, and making the most hideous contortions of visage and frame; with a rough provincial accent and an uncouth way of speaking which would be set down for absurd caricature on the boards of a comic theatre.' Lamb is described by Carlyle as 'the leanest of mankind; tiny black breeches buttoned to the knee-cap and no further, surmounting spindle legs also in black, face and head fineish, black, bony, lean, and of a Jew type rather'; and Talfourd says that the best portrait of him is his own description of Braham—'a compound of the Jew, the gentleman, and the angel.' William Godwin was 'short and stout, his clothes loosely and carelessly put on, and usually old and worn; his hands were generally in his pockets; he had a remarkably large, bald head, and a weak voice; seeming generally half asleep when he walked, and even when he talked.' Lord Charlemont spoke of David Hume as more like a 'turtle-eating alderman' than 'a refined philosopher.' Mary Russell Mitford was ill- naturedly described by L.E.L. as 'Sancho Panza in petticoats!'; and as for poor Rogers, who was somewhat cadaverous, the descriptions given of him are quite dreadful. Lord Dudley once asked him 'why, now that he could afford it, he did not set up his hearse,' and it is said that Sydney Smith gave him mortal offence by recommending him 'when he sat for his portrait to be drawn saying his prayers, with his face hidden in his hands,' christened him the 'Death dandy,' and wrote underneath a picture of him, 'Painted in his lifetime.' We must console ourselves—if not with Mr. Hardy's statement that 'ideal physical beauty is incompatible with mental development, and a full recognition of the evil of things'—at least with the pictures of those who had some comeliness, and grace, and charm. Dr. Grosart says of a miniature of Edmund Spenser, 'It is an exquisitely beautiful face. The brow is ample, the lips thin but mobile, the eyes a grayish-blue, the hair and beard a golden red (as of "red monie" of the ballads) or goldenly chestnut, the nose with semi-transparent nostril and keen, the chin firm-poised, the expression refined and delicate. Altogether just such "presentment" of the Poet of Beauty par excellence, as one would have imagined.' Antony Wood describes Sir Richard Lovelace as being, at the age of sixteen, 'the most amiable and beautiful person that ever eye beheld.' Nor need we wonder at this when we remember the portrait of Lovelace that hangs at Dulwich College. Barry Cornwall, described himself by S. C. Hall as 'a decidedly rather pretty little fellow,' said of Keats: 'His countenance lives in my mind as one of singular beauty and brightness,—it had an expression as if he had been looking on some glorious sight.' Chatterton and Byron were splendidly handsome, and beauty of a high spiritual order may be claimed both for Milton and Shelley, though an industrious gentleman lately wrote a book in two volumes apparently for the purpose of proving that the latter of these two poets had a snub nose. Hazlitt once said that 'A man's life may be a lie to himself and others, and yet a picture painted of him by a great artist would probably stamp his character.' Few of the word-portraits in Miss Wotton's book can be said to have been drawn by a great artist, but they are all interesting, and Miss Wotton has certainly shown a wonderful amount of industry in collecting her references and in grouping them. It is not a book to be read through from beginning to end, but it is a delightful book to glance at, and by its means one can raise the ghosts of the dead, at least as well as the Psychical Society can.

(1) Leaves of Life. By E. Nesbit. (Longmans, Green and Co.)

(2) The Wanderings of Oisin and Other Poems. By W. B. Yeats. (Kegan Paul.)

(3) Dorinda. By Lady Munster. (Hurst and Blackett.)

(4) Four Biographies from 'Blackwood.' By Mrs. Walford. (Blackwood and Sons.)

(5) Word Portraits of Famous Writers. Edited by Mabel Wotton. (Bentley and Son.)


(Pall Mall Gazette, March 2, 1889.)

Mr. Morris's last book is a piece of pure art workmanship from beginning to end, and the very remoteness of its style from the common language and ordinary interests of our day gives to the whole story a strange beauty and an unfamiliar charm. It is written in blended prose and verse, like the mediaeval 'cante-fable,' and tells the tale of the House of the Wolfings in its struggles against the legionaries of Rome then advancing into Northern Germany. It is a kind of Saga, and the language in which the folk-epic, as we may call it, is set forth recalls the antique dignity and directness of our English tongue four centuries ago. From an artistic point of view it may be described as an attempt to return by a self-conscious effort to the conditions of an earlier and a fresher age. Attempts of this kind are not uncommon in the history of art. From some such feeling came the Pre-Raphaelite movement of our own day and the archaistic movement of later Greek sculpture. When the result is beautiful the method is justified, and no shrill insistence upon a supposed necessity for absolute modernity of form can prevail against the value of work that has the incomparable excellence of style. Certainly, Mr. Morris's work possesses this excellence. His fine harmonies and rich cadences create in the reader that spirit by which alone can its own spirit be interpreted, awake in him something of the temper of romance and, by taking him out of his own age, place him in a truer and more vital relation to the great masterpieces of all time. It is a bad thing for an age to be always looking in art for its own reflection. It is well that, now and then, we are given work that is nobly imaginative in its method and purely artistic in its aim. As we read Mr. Morris's story with its fine alternations of verse and prose, its decorative and descriptive beauties, its wonderful handling of romantic and adventurous themes, we cannot but feel that we are as far removed from the ignoble fiction as we are from the ignoble facts of our own day. We breathe a purer air, and have dreams of a time when life had a kind of poetical quality of its own, and was simple and stately and complete.

The tragic interest of The House of the Wolfings centres round the figure of Thiodolf, the great hero of the tribe. The goddess who loves him gives him, as he goes to battle against the Romans, a magical hauberk on which rests this strange fate: that he who wears it shall save his own life and destroy the life of his land. Thiodolf, finding out this secret, brings the hauberk back to the Wood-Sun, as she is called, and chooses death for himself rather than the ruin of his cause, and so the story ends.

But Mr. Morris has always preferred romance to tragedy, and set the development of action above the concentration of passion. His story is like some splendid old tapestry crowded with stately images and enriched with delicate and delightful detail. The impression it leaves on us is not of a single central figure dominating the whole, but rather of a magnificent design to which everything is subordinated, and by which everything becomes of enduring import. It is the whole presentation of the primitive life that really fascinates. What in other hands would have been mere archaeology is here transformed by quick artistic instinct and made wonderful for us, and human and full of high interest. The ancient world seems to have come to life again for our pleasure.

Of a work so large and so coherent, completed with no less perfection than it is conceived, it is difficult by mere quotation to give any adequate idea. This, however, may serve as an example of its narrative power. The passage describes the visit of Thiodolf to the Wood-Sun:

The moonlight lay in a great flood on the grass without, and the dew was falling in the coldest hour of the night, and the earth smelled sweetly: the whole habitation was asleep now, and there was no sound to be known as the sound of any creature, save that from the distant meadow came the lowing of a cow that had lost her calf, and that a white owl was flitting about near the eaves of the Roof with her wild cry that sounded like the mocking of merriment now silent. Thiodolf turned toward the wood, and walked steadily through the scattered hazel-trees, and thereby into the thick of the beech-trees, whose boles grew smooth and silver-grey, high and close-set: and so on and on he went as one going by a well-known path, though there was no path, till all the moonlight was quenched under the close roof of the beech-leaves, though yet for all the darkness, no man could go there and not feel that the roof was green above him. Still he went on in despite of the darkness, till at last there was a glimmer before him, that grew greater till he came unto a small wood-lawn whereon the turf grew again, though the grass was but thin, because little sunlight got to it, so close and thick were the tall trees round about it. . . . Nought looked Thiodolf either at the heavens above, or the trees, as he strode from off the husk-strewn floor of the beech wood on to the scanty grass of the lawn, but his eyes looked straight before him at that which was amidmost of the lawn: and little wonder was that; for there on a stone chair sat a woman exceeding fair, clad in glittering raiment, her hair lying as pale in the moonlight on the grey stone as the barley acres in the August night before the reaping-hook goes in amongst them. She sat there as though she were awaiting some one, and he made no stop nor stay, but went straight up to her, and took her in his arms, and kissed her mouth and her eyes, and she him again; and then he sat himself down beside her.

As an example of the beauty of the verse we would take this from the song of the Wood-Sun. It at least shows how perfectly the poetry harmonises with the prose, and how natural the transition is from the one to the other:

In many a stead Doom dwelleth, nor sleepeth day nor night: The rim of the bowl she kisseth, and beareth the chambering light When the kings of men wend happy to the bride-bed from the board. It is little to say that she wendeth the edge of the grinded sword, When about the house half builded she hangeth many a day; The ship from the strand she shoveth, and on his wonted way By the mountain hunter fareth where his foot ne'er failed before: She is where the high bank crumbles at last on the river's shore: The mower's scythe she whetteth; and lulleth the shepherd to sleep Where the deadly ling-worm wakeneth in the desert of the sheep. Now we that come of the God-kin of her redes for ourselves we wot, But her will with the lives of men-folk and their ending know we not. So therefore I bid thee not fear for thyself of Doom and her deed, But for me: and I bid thee hearken to the helping of my need. Or else—Art thou happy in life, or lusteth thou to die In the flower of thy days, when thy glory and thy longing bloom on high?

The last chapter of the book in which we are told of the great feast made for the dead is so finely written that we cannot refrain from quoting this passage:

Now was the glooming falling upon the earth; but the Hall was bright within even as the Hall-Sun had promised. Therein was set forth the Treasure of the Wolfings; fair cloths were hung on the walls, goodly broidered garments on the pillars: goodly brazen cauldrons and fair- carven chests were set down in nooks where men could see them well, and vessels of gold and silver were set all up and down the tables of the feast. The pillars also were wreathed with flowers, and flowers hung garlanded from the walls over the precious hangings; sweet gums and spices were burning in fair-wrought censers of brass, and so many candles were alight under the Roof, that scarce had it looked more ablaze when the Romans had litten the faggots therein for its burning amidst the hurry of the Morning Battle.

There then they fell to feasting, hallowing in the high-tide of their return with victory in their hands: and the dead corpses of Thiodolf and Otter, clad in precious glittering raiment, looked down on them from the High-seat, and the kindreds worshipped them and were glad; and they drank the Cup to them before any others, were they Gods or men.

In days of uncouth realism and unimaginative imitation, it is a high pleasure to welcome work of this kind. It is a work in which all lovers of literature cannot fail to delight.

A Tale of the House of the Wolfings and all the Kindreds of the Mark. Written in Prose and in Verse by William Morris. (Reeves and Turner.)


(Pall Mall Gazette, March 25, 1889.)

A critic recently remarked of Adam Lindsay Gordon that through him Australia had found her first fine utterance in song. {452} This, however, is an amiable error. There is very little of Australia in Gordon's poetry. His heart and mind and fancy were always preoccupied with memories and dreams of England and such culture as England gave him. He owed nothing to the land of his adoption. Had he stayed at home he would have done much better work. In a few poems such as The Sick Stockrider, From the Wreck, and Wolf and Hound there are notes of Australian influences, and these Swinburnian stanzas from the dedication to the Bush Ballads deserve to be quoted, though the promise they hold out was never fulfilled:

They are rhymes rudely strung with intent less Of sound than of words, In lands where bright blossoms are scentless, And songless bright birds; Where, with fire and fierce drought on her tresses, Insatiable summer oppresses Sere woodlands and sad wildernesses, And faint flocks and herds.

Whence gather'd?—The locust's grand chirrup May furnish a stave; The ring of a rowel and stirrup, The wash of a wave. The chaunt of the marsh frog in rushes, That chimes through the pauses and hushes Of nightfall, the torrent that gushes, The tempests that rave.

In the gathering of night gloom o'erhead, in The still silent change, All fire-flushed when forest trees redden On slopes of the range. When the gnarl'd, knotted trunks Eucalyptian Seem carved, like weird columns Egyptian, With curious device—quaint inscription, And hieroglyph strange;

In the Spring, when the wattle gold trembles 'Twixt shadow and shine, When each dew-laden air draught resembles A long draught of wine; When the sky-line's blue burnish'd resistance Makes deeper the dreamiest distance, Some song in all hearts hath existence,— Such songs have been mine.

As a rule, however, Gordon is distinctly English, and the landscapes he describes are always the landscapes of our own country. He writes about mediaeval lords and ladies in his Rhyme of Joyous Garde, about Cavaliers and Roundheads in The Romance of Britomarte, and Ashtaroth, his longest and most ambitious poem, deals with the adventures of the Norman barons and Danish knights of ancient days. Steeped in Swinburne and bewildered with Browning, he set himself to reproduce the marvellous melody of the one and the dramatic vigour and harsh strength of the other. From the Wreck is a sort of Australian edition of the Ride to Ghent. These are the first three stanzas of one of the so-called Bush Ballads:

On skies still and starlit White lustres take hold, And grey flashes scarlet, And red flashes gold. And sun-glories cover The rose, shed above her, Like lover and lover They flame and unfold.

. . . . .

Still bloom in the garden Green grass-plot, fresh lawn, Though pasture lands harden And drought fissures yawn. While leaves, not a few fall, Let rose-leaves for you fall, Leaves pearl-strung with dewfall, And gold shot with dawn.

Does the grass-plot remember The fall of your feet In Autumn's red ember When drought leagues with heat, When the last of the roses Despairingly closes In the lull that reposes Ere storm winds wax fleet?

And the following verses show that the Norman Baron of Ashtaroth had read Dolores just once too often:

Dead priests of Osiris, and Isis, And Apis! that mystical lore, Like a nightmare, conceived in a crisis Of fever, is studied no more; Dead Magian! yon star-troop that spangles The arch of yon firmament vast Looks calm, like a host of white angels On dry dust of votaries past.

On seas unexplored can the ship shun Sunk rocks? Can man fathom life's links, Past or future, unsolved by Egyptian Or Theban, unspoken by Sphynx? The riddle remains yet, unravell'd By students consuming night oil. O earth! we have toil'd, we have travailed: How long shall we travail and toil?

By the classics Gordon was always very much fascinated. He loved what he calls 'the scroll that is godlike and Greek,' though he is rather uncertain about his quantities, rhyming 'Polyxena' to 'Athena' and 'Aphrodite' to 'light,' and occasionally makes very rash statements, as when he represents Leonidas exclaiming to the three hundred at Thermopylae:

'Ho! comrades let us gaily dine— This night with Plato we shall sup,'

if this be not, as we hope it is, a printer's error. What the Australians liked best were his spirited, if somewhat rough, horse-racing and hunting poems. Indeed, it was not till he found that How We Beat the Favourite was on everybody's lips that he consented to forego his anonymity and appear in the unsuspected character of a verse-writer, having up to that time produced his poems shyly, scribbled them on scraps of paper, and sent them unsigned to the local magazines. The fact is that the social atmosphere of Melbourne was not favourable to poets, and the worthy colonials seem to have shared Audrey's doubts as to whether poetry was a true and honest thing. It was not till Gordon won the Cup Steeplechase for Major Baker in 1868 that he became really popular, and probably there were many who felt that to steer Babbler to the winning- post was a finer achievement than 'to babble o'er green fields.'

On the whole, it is impossible not to regret that Gordon ever emigrated. His literary power cannot be denied, but it was stunted in uncongenial surroundings and marred by the rude life he was forced to lead. Australia has converted many of our failures into prosperous and admirable mediocrities, but she certainly spoiled one of our poets for us. Ovid at Tomi is not more tragic than Gordon driving cattle or farming an unprofitable sheep-ranch.

That Australia, however, will some day make amends by producing a poet of her own we cannot doubt, and for him there will be new notes to sound and new wonders to tell of. The description, given by Mr. Marcus Clarke in the preface to this volume, of the aspect and spirit of Nature in Australia is most curious and suggestive. The Australian forests, he tells us, are funereal and stern, and 'seem to stifle, in their black gorges, a story of sullen despair.' No leaves fall from the trees, but 'from the melancholy gum strips of white bark hang and rustle. Great grey kangaroos hop noiselessly over the coarse grass. Flights of cockatoos stream out, shrieking like evil souls. The sun suddenly sinks and the mopokes burst out into horrible peals of semi-human laughter.' The aborigines aver that, when night comes, from the bottomless depth of some lagoon a misshapen monster rises, dragging his loathsome length along the ooze. From a corner of the silent forest rises a dismal chant, and around a fire dance natives painted like skeletons. All is fear-inspiring and gloomy. No bright fancies are linked with the memories of the mountains. Hopeless explorers have named them out of their sufferings—Mount Misery, Mount Dreadful, Mount Despair.

In Australia alone (says Mr. Clarke) is to be found the Grotesque, the Weird, the strange scribblings of nature learning how to write. But the dweller in the wilderness acknowledges the subtle charm of the fantastic land of monstrosities. He becomes familiar with the beauty of loneliness. Whispered to by the myriad tongues of the wilderness, he learns the language of the barren and the uncouth, and can read the hieroglyphs of haggard gum-trees, blown into odd shapes, distorted with fierce hot winds, or cramped with cold nights, when the Southern Cross freezes in a cloudless sky of icy blue. The phantasmagoria of that wild dream-land termed the Bush interprets itself, and the Poet of our desolation begins to comprehend why free Esau loved his heritage of desert sand better than all the bountiful richness of Egypt.

Here, certainly, is new material for the poet, here is a land that is waiting for its singer. Such a singer Gordon was not. He remained thoroughly English, and the best that we can say of him is that he wrote imperfectly in Australia those poems that in England he might have made perfect.

Poems. By Adam Lindsay Gordon. (Samuel Mullen.)


(Pall Mall Gazette, March 30, 1889.)

Judges, like the criminal classes, have their lighter moments, and it was probably in one of his happiest and, certainly, in one of his most careless moods that Mr. Justice Denman conceived the idea of putting the early history of Rome into doggerel verse for the benefit of a little boy of the name of Jack. Poor Jack! He is still, we learn from the preface, under six years of age, and it is sad to think of the future career of a boy who is being brought up on bad history and worse poetry. Here is a passage from the learned judge's account of Romulus:

Poor Tatius by some unknown hand Was soon assassinated, Some said by Romulus' command; I know not—but 'twas fated.

Sole King again, this Romulus Play'd some fantastic tricks, Lictors he had, who hatchets bore Bound up with rods of sticks.

He treated all who thwarted him No better than a dog, Sometimes 'twas 'Heads off, Lictors, there!' Sometimes 'Ho! Lictors, flog!'

Then he created Senators, And gave them rings of gold; Old soldiers all; their name deriv'd From 'Senex' which means 'old.'

Knights, too, he made, good horsemen all, Who always were at hand To execute immediately Whate'er he might command.

But these were of Patrician rank, Plebeians all the rest; Remember this distinction, Jack! For 'tis a useful test.

The reign of Tullius Hostilius opens with a very wicked rhyme:

As Numa, dying, only left A daughter, named Pompilia, The Senate had to choose a King. They choose one sadly sillier.

If Jack goes to the bad, Mr. Justice Denman will have much to answer for.

After such a terrible example from the Bench, it is pleasant to turn to the seats reserved for Queen's Counsel. Mr. Cooper Willis's Tales and Legends, if somewhat boisterous in manner, is still very spirited and clever. The Prison of the Danes is not at all a bad poem, and there is a great deal of eloquent, strong writing in the passage beginning:

The dying star-song of the night sinks in the dawning day, And the dark-blue sheen is changed to green, and the green fades into grey, And the sleepers are roused from their slumbers, and at last the Danesmen know How few of all their numbers are left them by the foe.

Not much can be said of a poet who exclaims:

Oh, for the power of Byron or of Moore, To glow with one, and with the latter soar.

And yet Mr. Moodie is one of the best of those South African poets whose works have been collected and arranged by Mr. Wilmot. Pringle, the 'father of South African verse,' comes first, of course, and his best poem is, undoubtedly, Afar in the Desert:

Afar in the desert I love to ride, With the silent Bush-boy alone by my side: Away, away, from the dwelling of men By the wild-deer's haunt, by the buffalo's glen: By valleys remote where the oribi plays, Where the gnu, the gazelle and the hartebeest graze, And the kudu and eland unhunted recline By the skirts of grey forests o'erhung with wild vine, Where the elephant browses at peace in his wood, And the river-horse gambols unscared in the flood, And the mighty rhinoceros wallows at will In the fen where the wild ass is drinking his fill.

It is not, however, a very remarkable production.

The Smouse, by Fannin, has the modern merit of incomprehensibility. It reads like something out of The Hunting of the Snark:

I'm a Smouse, I'm a Smouse in the wilderness wide, The veld is my home, and the wagon's my pride: The crack of my 'voerslag' shall sound o'er the lea, I'm a Smouse, I'm a Smouse, and the trader is free! I heed not the Governor, I fear not his law, I care not for civilisation one straw, And ne'er to 'Ompanda'—'Umgazis' I'll throw While my arm carries fist, or my foot bears a toe! 'Trek,' 'trek,' ply the whip—touch the fore oxen's skin, I'll warrant we'll 'go it' through thick and through thin— Loop! loop ye oud skellums! ot Vikmaan trek jy; I'm a Smouse, I'm a Smouse, and the trader is free!

The South African poets, as a class, are rather behind the age. They seem to think that 'Aurora' is a very novel and delightful epithet for the dawn. On the whole they depress us.

Chess, by Mr. Louis Tylor, is a sort of Christmas masque in which the dramatis personae consist of some unmusical carollers, a priggish young man called Eric, and the chessmen off the board. The White Queen's Knight begins a ballad and the Black King's Bishop completes it. The Pawns sing in chorus and the Castles converse with each other. The silliness of the form makes it an absolutely unreadable book.

Mr. Williamson's Poems of Nature and Life are as orthodox in spirit as they are commonplace in form. A few harmless heresies of art and thought would do this poet no harm. Nearly everything that he says has been said before and said better. The only original thing in the volume is the description of Mr. Robert Buchanan's 'grandeur of mind.' This is decidedly new.

Dr. Cockle tells us that Mullner's Guilt and The Ancestress of Grillparzer are the masterpieces of German fate-tragedy. His translation of the first of these two masterpieces does not make us long for any further acquaintance with the school. Here is a specimen from the fourth act of the fate-tragedy.



ELVIRA (after long silence, leaving the harp, steps to Hugo, and seeks his gaze).

HUGO (softly). Though I made sacrifice of thy sweet life. The Father has forgiven. Can the wife—Forgive?

ELVIRA (on his breast). She can!

HUGO (with all the warmth of love). Dear wife!

ELVIRA (after a pause, in deep sorrow). Must it be so, beloved one?

HUGO (sorry to have betrayed himself). What?

In his preface to The Circle of Seasons, a series of hymns and verses for the seasons of the Church, the Rev. T. B. Dover expresses a hope that this well-meaning if somewhat tedious book 'may be of value to those many earnest people to whom the subjective aspect of truth is helpful.' The poem beginning

Lord, in the inn of my poor worthless heart Guests come and go; but there is room for Thee,

has some merit and might be converted into a good sonnet. The majority of the poems, however, are quite worthless. There seems to be some curious connection between piety and poor rhymes.

Lord Henry Somerset's verse is not so good as his music. Most of the Songs of Adieu are marred by their excessive sentimentality of feeling and by the commonplace character of their weak and lax form. There is nothing that is new and little that is true in verse of this kind:

The golden leaves are falling, Falling one by one, Their tender 'Adieux' calling To the cold autumnal sun. The trees in the keen and frosty air Stand out against the sky, 'Twould seem they stretch their branches bare To Heaven in agony.

It can be produced in any quantity. Lord Henry Somerset has too much heart and too little art to make a good poet, and such art as he does possess is devoid of almost every intellectual quality and entirely lacking in any intellectual strength. He has nothing to say and says it.

Mrs. Cora M. Davis is eloquent about the splendours of what the authoress of The Circle of Seasons calls 'this earthly ball.'

Let's sing the beauties of this grand old earth,

she cries, and proceeds to tell how

Imagination paints old Egypt's former glory, Of mighty temples reaching heavenward, Of grim, colossal statues, whose barbaric story The caustic pens of erudition still record, Whose ancient cities of glittering minarets Reflect the gold of Afric's gorgeous sunsets.

'The caustic pens of erudition' is quite delightful and will be appreciated by all Egyptologists. There is also a charming passage in the same poem on the pictures of the Old Masters:

the mellow richness of whose tints impart, By contrast, greater delicacy still to modern art.

This seems to us the highest form of optimism we have ever come across in art criticism. It is American in origin, Mrs. Davis, as her biographer tells us, having been born in Alabama, Genesee co., N.Y.

(1) The Story of the Kings of Rome in Verse. By the Hon. G. Denman, Judge of the High Court of Justice. (Trubner and Co.)

(2) Tales and Legends in Verse. By E. Cooper Willis, Q.C. (Kegan Paul.)

(3) The Poetry of South Africa. Collected and arranged by A. Wilmot. (Sampson Low and Co.)

(4) Chess. A Christmas Masque. By Louis Tylor. (Fisher Unwin.)

(5) Poems of Nature and Life. By David R. Williamson. (Blackwood.)

(6) Guilt. Translated from the German by J. Cockle, M.D. (Williams and Norgate.)

(7) The Circle of Seasons. By K. E. V. (Elliot Stock.)

(8) Songs of Adieu. By Lord Henry Somerset. (Chatto and Windus.)

(9) Immortelles. By Cora M. Davis. (G. P. Putnam's Sons.)


(Woman's World, April 1889.)

'In modern life,' said Matthew Arnold once, 'you I cannot well enter a monastery; but you can enter the Wordsworth Society.' I fear that this will sound to many a somewhat uninviting description of this admirable and useful body, whose papers and productions have been recently published by Professor Knight, under the title of Wordsworthiana. 'Plain living and high thinking' are not popular ideals. Most people prefer to live in luxury, and to think with the majority. However, there is really nothing in the essays and addresses of the Wordsworth Society that need cause the public any unnecessary alarm; and it is gratifying to note that, although the society is still in the first blush of enthusiasm, it has not yet insisted upon our admiring Wordsworth's inferior work. It praises what is worthy of praise, reverences what should be reverenced, and explains what does not require explanation. One paper is quite delightful; it is from the pen of Mr. Rawnsley, and deals with such reminiscences of Wordsworth as still linger among the peasantry of Westmoreland. Mr. Rawnsley grew up, he tells us, in the immediate vicinity of the present Poet-Laureate's old home in Lincolnshire, and had been struck with the swiftness with which,

As year by year the labourer tills His wonted glebe, or lops the glades,

the memories of the poet of the Somersby Wold had 'faded from off the circle of the hills'—had, indeed, been astonished to note how little real interest was taken in him or his fame, and how seldom his works were met with in the houses of the rich or poor in the very neighbourhood. Accordingly, when he came to reside in the Lake Country, he endeavoured to find out what of Wordsworth's memory among the men of the Dales still lingered on—how far he was still a moving presence among them—how far his works had made their way into the cottages and farmhouses of the valleys. He also tried to discover how far the race of Westmoreland and Cumberland farm-folk—the 'Matthews' and the 'Michaels' of the poet, as described by him—were real or fancy pictures, or how far the characters of the Dalesmen had been altered in any remarkable manner by tourist influences during the thirty-two years that have passed since the Lake poet was laid to rest.

With regard to the latter point, it will be remembered that Mr. Ruskin, writing in 1876, said that 'the Border peasantry, painted with absolute fidelity by Scott and Wordsworth,' are, as hitherto, a scarcely injured race; that in his fields at Coniston he had men who might have fought with Henry V. at Agincourt without being distinguished from any of his knights; that he could take his tradesmen's word for a thousand pounds, and need never latch his garden gate; and that he did not fear molestation, in wood or on moor, for his girl guests. Mr. Rawnsley, however, found that a certain beauty had vanished which the simple retirement of old valley days fifty years ago gave to the men among whom Wordsworth lived. 'The strangers,' he says, 'with their gifts of gold, their vulgarity, and their requirements, have much to answer for.' As for their impressions of Wordsworth, to understand them one must understand the vernacular of the Lake District. 'What was Mr. Wordsworth like in personal appearance?' said Mr. Rawnsley once to an old retainer, who still lives not far from Rydal Mount. 'He was a ugly-faaced man, and a mean liver,' was the answer; but all that was really meant was that he was a man of marked features, and led a very simple life in matters of food and raiment. Another old man, who believed that Wordsworth 'got most of his poetry out of Hartley,' spoke of the poet's wife as 'a very onpleasant woman, very onpleasant indeed. A close-fisted woman, that's what she was.' This, however, seems to have been merely a tribute to Mrs. Wordsworth's admirable housekeeping qualities.

The first person interviewed by Mr. Rawnsley was an old lady who had been once in service at Rydal Mount, and was, in 1870, a lodging-house keeper at Grasmere. She was not a very imaginative person, as may be gathered from the following anecdote:—Mr. Rawnsley's sister came in from a late evening walk, and said, 'O Mrs. D—-, have you seen the wonderful sunset?' The good lady turned sharply round and, drawing herself to her full height, as if mortally offended, answered: 'No, miss; I'm a tidy cook, I know, and "they say" a decentish body for a landlady, but I don't knaw nothing about sunsets or them sort of things, they've never been in my line.' Her reminiscence of Wordsworth was as worthy of tradition as it was explanatory, from her point of view, of the method in which Wordsworth composed, and was helped in his labours by his enthusiastic sister. 'Well, you know,' she said, 'Mr. Wordsworth went humming and booing about, and she, Miss Dorothy, kept close behint him, and she picked up the bits as he let 'em fall, and tak' 'em down, and put 'em together on paper for him. And you may be very well sure as how she didn't understand nor make sense out of 'em, and I doubt that he didn't know much about them either himself, but, howivver, there's a great many folk as do, I dare say.' Of Wordsworth's habit of talking to himself, and composing aloud, we hear a great deal. 'Was Mr. Wordsworth a sociable man?' asked Mr. Rawnsley of a Rydal farmer. 'Wudsworth, for a' he had noa pride nor nowt,' was the answer, 'was a man who was quite one to hissel, ye kna. He was not a man as folks could crack wi', nor not a man as could crack wi' folks. But there was another thing as kep' folk off, he had a ter'ble girt deep voice, and ye might see his faace agaan for long enuff. I've knoan folks, village lads and lasses, coming over by old road above, which runs from Grasmere to Rydal, flayt a'most to death there by Wishing Gaate to hear the girt voice a groanin' and mutterin' and thunderin' of a still evening. And he had a way of standin' quite still by the rock there in t' path under Rydal, and folks could hear sounds like a wild beast coming from the rocks, and childer were scared fit to be dead a'most.'

Wordsworth's description of himself constantly recurs to one:

And who is he with modest looks, And clad in sober russet gown? He murmurs by the running brooks, A music sweeter than their own; He is retired as noontide dew, Or fountain in a noonday grove.

But the corroboration comes in strange guise. Mr. Rawnsley asked one of the Dalesmen about Wordsworth's dress and habits. This was the reply: 'Wudsworth wore a Jem Crow, never seed him in a boxer in my life,—a Jem Crow and an old blue cloak was his rig, and as for his habits, he had noan; niver knew him with a pot i' his hand, or a pipe i' his mouth. But he was a great skater, for a' that—noan better in these parts—why, he could cut his own naame upo' the ice, could Mr. Wudsworth.' Skating seems to have been Wordsworth's one form of amusement. He was 'over feckless i' his hands'—could not drive or ride—'not a bit of fish in him,' and 'nowt of a mountaineer.' But he could skate. The rapture of the time when, as a boy, on Esthwaite's frozen lake, he had

wheeled about, Proud and exulting like an untired horse That cares not for his home, and, shod with steel, Had hissed along the polished ice,

was continued, Mr. Rawnsley tells us, into manhood's later day; and Mr. Rawnsley found many proofs that the skill the poet had gained, when

Not seldom from the uproar he retired, Into a silent bay, or sportively Glanced sideway, leaving the tumultuous throng To cut across the reflex of a star,

was of such a kind as to astonish the natives among whom he dwelt. The recollection of a fall he once had, when his skate caught on a stone, still lingers in the district. A boy had been sent to sweep the snow from the White Moss Tarn for him. 'Did Mr. Wudsworth gie ye owt?' he was asked, when he returned from his labour. 'Na, but I seed him tumlle, though!' was the answer. 'He was a ter'ble girt skater, was Wudsworth now,' says one of Mr. Rawnsley's informants; 'he would put one hand i' his breast (he wore a frill shirt i' them days), and t'other hand i' his waistband, same as shepherds does to keep their hands warm, and he would stand up straight and sway and swing away grandly.'

Of his poetry they did not think much, and whatever was good in it they ascribed to his wife, his sister, and Hartley Coleridge. He wrote poetry, they said, 'because he couldn't help it—because it was his hobby'—for sheer love, and not for money. They could not understand his doing work 'for nowt,' and held his occupation in somewhat light esteem because it did not bring in 'a deal o' brass to the pocket.' 'Did you ever read his poetry, or see any books about in the farmhouses?' asked Mr. Rawnsley. The answer was curious: 'Ay, ay, time or two. But ya're weel aware there's potry and potry. There's potry wi' a li'le bit pleasant in it, and potry sic as a man can laugh at or the childer understand, and some as takes a deal of mastery to make out what's said, and a deal of Wudsworth's was this sort, ye kna. You could tell fra the man's faace his potry would niver have no laugh in it. His potry was quite different work from li'le Hartley. Hartley 'ud goa running along beside o' the brooks and mak his, and goa in the first oppen door and write what he had got upo' paper. But Wudsworth's potry was real hard stuff, and bided a deal of makking, and he'd keep it in his head for long enough. Eh, but it's queer, mon, different ways folks hes of making potry now . . . Not but what Mr. Wudsworth didn't stand very high, and was a well-spoken man enough.' The best criticism on Wordsworth that Mr. Rawnsley heard was this: 'He was an open-air man, and a great critic of trees.'

There are many useful and well-written essays in Professor Knight's volume, but Mr. Rawnsley's is far the most interesting of all. It gives us a graphic picture of the poet as he appeared in outward semblance and manner to those about whom he wrote.

* * * * *

Mary Myles is Mrs. Edmonds's first attempt at writing fiction. Mrs. Edmonds is well known as an authority on modern Greek literature, and her style has often a very pleasant literary flavour, though in her dialogues she has not as yet quite grasped the difference between la langue parlee and la langue ecrite. Her heroine is a sort of Nausicaa from Girton, who develops into the Pallas Athena of a provincial school. She has her love- romance, like her Homeric prototype, and her Odysseus returns to her at the close of the book. It is a nice story.

* * * * *

Lady Dilke's Art in the Modern State is a book that cannot fail to interest deeply every one who cares either for art or for history. The 'modern State' which gives its title to the book is that political and social organisation of our day that comes to us from the France of Richelieu and Colbert, and is the direct outcome of the 'Grand Siecle,' the true greatness of which century, as Lady Dilke points out, consists not in its vain wars, and formal stage and stilted eloquence, and pompous palaces, but in the formation and working out of the political and social system of which these things were the first-fruits. To the question that naturally rises on one's lips, 'How can one dwell on the art of the seventeenth century?—it has no charm,' Lady Dilke answers that this art presents in its organisation, from the point of view of social polity, problems of the highest intellectual interest. Throughout all its phases—to quote her own words—'the life of France wears, during the seventeenth century, a political aspect. The explanation of all changes in the social system, in letters, in the arts, in fashions even, has to be sought in the necessities of the political position; and the seeming caprices of taste take their rise from the same causes which went to determine the making of a treaty or the promulgation of an edict. This seems all the stranger because, in times preceding, letters and the arts, at least, appeared to flourish in conditions as far removed from the action of statecraft as if they had been a growth of fairyland. In the Middle Ages they were devoted to a virgin image of Virtue; they framed, in the shade of the sanctuary, an ideal shining with the beauty born of self-renunciation, of resignation to self-enforced conditions of moral and physical suffering. By the queenly Venus of the Renaissance they were consecrated to the joys of life, and the world saw that through their perfect use men might renew their strength, and behold virtue and beauty with clear eyes. It was, however, reserved for the rulers of France in the seventeenth century fully to realise the political function of letters and the arts in the modern State, and their immense importance in connection with the prosperity of a commercial nation.'

The whole subject is certainly extremely fascinating. The Renaissance had for its object the development of great personalities. The perfect freedom of the temperament in matters of art, the perfect freedom of the intellect in intellectual matters, the full development of the individual, were the things it aimed at. As we study its history we find it full of great anarchies. It solved no political or social problems; it did not seek to solve them. The ideal of the 'Grand Siecle,' and of Richelieu, in whom the forces of that great age were incarnate, was different. The ideas of citizenship, of the building up of a great nation, of the centralisation of forces, of collective action, of ethnic unity of purpose, came before the world. It was inevitable that they should have done so, and Lady Dilke, with her keen historic sense and her wonderful power of grouping facts, has told us the story of their struggle and their victory. Her book is, from every point of view, a most remarkable work. Her style is almost French in its clearness, its sobriety, its fine and, at times, ascetic simplicity. The whole ground- plan and intellectual-conception is admirable.

It is, of course, easy to see how much Art lost by having a new mission forced upon her. The creation of a formal tradition upon classical lines is never without its danger, and it is sad to find the provincial towns of France, once so varied and individual in artistic expression, writing to Paris for designs and advice. And yet, through Colbert's great centralising scheme of State supervision and State aid, France was the one country in Europe, and has remained the one country in Europe, where the arts are not divorced from industry. The Academy of Painting and Sculpture and the School of Architecture were not, to quote Lady Dilke's words, called into being in order that royal palaces should be raised surpassing all others in magnificence:

Bievrebache and the Savonnerie were not established only that such palaces should be furnished more sumptuously than those of an Eastern fairy-tale. Colbert did not care chiefly to inquire, when organising art administration, what were the institutions best fitted to foster the proper interests of art; he asked, in the first place, what would most contribute to swell the national importance. Even so, in surrounding the King with the treasures of luxury, his object was twofold—their possession should, indeed, illustrate the Crown, but should also be a unique source of advantage to the people. Glass-workers were brought from Venice, and lace-makers from Flanders, that they might yield to France the secrets of their skill. Palaces and public buildings were to afford commissions for French artists, and a means of technical and artistic education for all those employed upon them. The royal collections were but a further instrument in educating the taste and increasing the knowledge of the working classes. The costly factories of the Savonnerie and the Gobelins were practical schools, in which every detail of every branch of all those industries which contribute to the furnishing and decoration of houses were brought to perfection; whilst a band of chosen apprentices were trained in the adjoining schools. To Colbert is due the honour of having foreseen, not only that the interests of the modern State were inseparably bound up with those of industry, but also that the interests of industry could not, without prejudice, be divorced from art.

Mr. Bret Harte has never written anything finer than Cressy. It is one of his most brilliant and masterly productions, and will take rank with the best of his Californian stories. Hawthorne re-created for us the America of the past with the incomparable grace of a very perfect artist, but Mr. Bret Harte's emphasised modernity has, in its own sphere, won equal, or almost equal, triumphs. Wit, pathos, humour, realism, exaggeration, and romance are in this marvellous story all blended together, and out of the very clash and chaos of these things comes life itself. And what a curious life it is, half civilised and half barbarous, naive and corrupt, chivalrous and commonplace, real and improbable! Cressy herself is the most tantalising of heroines. She is always eluding one's grasp. It is difficult to say whether she sacrifices herself on the altar of romance, or is merely a girl with an extraordinary sense of humour. She is intangible, and the more we know of her, the more incomprehensible she becomes. It is pleasant to come across a heroine who is not identified with any great cause, and represents no important principle, but is simply a wonderful nymph from American backwoods, who has in her something of Artemis, and not a little of Aphrodite.

* * * * *

It is always a pleasure to come across an American poet who is not national, and who tries to give expression to the literature that he loves rather than to the land in which he lives. The Muses care so little for geography! Mr. Richard Day's Poems have nothing distinctively American about them. Here and there in his verse one comes across a flower that does not bloom in our meadows, a bird to which our woodlands have never listened. But the spirit that animates the verse is simple and human, and there is hardly a poem in the volume that English lips might not have uttered. Sounds of the Temple has much in it that is interesting in metre as well as in matter:—

Then sighed a poet from his soul: 'The clouds are blown across the stars, And chill have grown my lattice bars; I cannot keep my vigil whole By the lone candle of my soul.

'This reed had once devoutest tongue, And sang as if to its small throat God listened for a perfect note; As charily this lyre was strung: God's praise is slow and has no tongue.'

But the best poem is undoubtedly the Hymn to the Mountain:—

Within the hollow of thy hand— This wooded dell half up the height, Where streams take breath midway in flight— Here let me stand.

Here warbles not a lowland bird, Here are no babbling tongues of men; Thy rivers rustling through the glen Alone are heard.

Above no pinion cleaves its way, Save when the eagle's wing, as now, With sweep imperial shades thy brow Beetling and grey.

What thoughts are thine, majestic peak? And moods that were not born to chime With poets' ineffectual rhyme And numbers weak?

The green earth spreads thy gaze before, And the unfailing skies are brought Within the level of thy thought. There is no more.

The stars salute thy rugged crown With syllables of twinkling fire; Like choral burst from distant choir, Their psalm rolls down.

And I within this temple niche, Like statue set where prophets talk, Catch strains they murmur as they walk, And I am rich.

Miss Ella Curtis's A Game of Chance is certainly the best novel that this clever young writer has as yet produced. If it has a fault, it is that it is crowded with too much incident, and often surrenders the study of character to the development of plot. Indeed, it has many plots, each of which, in more economical hands, would have served as the basis of a complete story. We have as the central incident the career of a clever lady's-maid who personifies her mistress, and is welcomed by Sir John Erskine, an English country gentleman, as the widow of his dead son. The real husband of the adventuress tracks his wife to England, and claims her. She pretends that he is insane, and has him removed. Then he tries to murder her, and when she recovers, she finds her beauty gone and her secret discovered. There is quite enough sensation here to interest even the jaded City man, who is said to have grown quite critical of late on the subject of what is really a thrilling plot. But Miss Curtis is not satisfied. The lady's-maid has an extremely handsome brother, who is a wonderful musician, and has a divine tenor voice. With him the stately Lady Judith falls wildly in love, and this part of the story is treated with a great deal of subtlety and clever analysis. However, Lady Judith does not marry her rustic Orpheus, so the social convenances are undisturbed. The romance of the Rector of the Parish, who falls in love with a charming school-teacher, is a good deal overshadowed by Lady Judith's story, but it is pleasantly told. A more important episode is the marriage between the daughter of the Tory squire and the Radical candidate for the borough. They separate on their wedding-day, and are not reconciled till the third volume. No one could say that Miss Curtis's book is dull. In fact, her style is very bright and amusing. It is impossible, perhaps, not to be a little bewildered by the amount of characters, and by the crowded incidents; but, on the whole, the scheme of the construction is clear, and certainly the decoration is admirable.

(1) Wordsworthiana: A Selection from Papers read to the Wordsworth Society. Edited by William Knight. (Macmillan and Co.)

(2) Mary Myles. By E. M. Edmonds. (Remington and Co.)

(3) Art in the Modern State. By Lady Dilke. (Chapman and Hall.)

(4) Cressy. By Bret Harte. (Macmillan and Co.)

(5) Poems. By Richard Day. (New York: Cassell and Co.)

(6) A Game of Chance. By Ella Curtis. (Hurst and Blackett.)


(Pall Mall Gazette, April 13, 1889.)

Blue-books are generally dull reading, but Blue-books on Ireland have always been interesting. They form the record of one of the great tragedies of modern Europe. In them England has written down her indictment against herself and has given to the world the history of her shame. If in the last century she tried to govern Ireland with an insolence that was intensified by race hatred and religious prejudice, she has sought to rule her in this century with a stupidity that is aggravated by good intentions. The last of these Blue-books, Mr. Froude's heavy novel, has appeared, however, somewhat too late. The society that he describes has long since passed away. An entirely new factor has appeared in the social development of the country, and this factor is the Irish-American and his influence. To mature its powers, to concentrate its actions, to learn the secret of its own strength and of England's weakness, the Celtic intellect has had to cross the Atlantic. At home it had but learned the pathetic weakness of nationality; in a strange land it realised what indomitable forces nationality possesses. What captivity was to the Jews, exile has been to the Irish. America and American influence has educated them. Their first practical leader is an Irish-American.

But while Mr. Froude's book has no practical relation to modern Irish politics, and does not offer any solution of the present question, it has a certain historical value. It is a vivid picture of Ireland in the latter half of the eighteenth century, a picture often false in its lights and exaggerated in its shadows, but a picture none the less. Mr. Froude admits the martyrdom of Ireland but regrets that the martyrdom was not more completely carried out. His ground of complaint against the Executioner is not his trade but his bungling. It is the bluntness not the cruelty of the sword that he objects to. Resolute government, that shallow shibboleth of those who do not understand how complex a thing the art of government is, is his posthumous panacea for past evils. His hero, Colonel Goring, has the words Law and Order ever on his lips, meaning by the one the enforcement of unjust legislation, and implying by the other the suppression of every fine national aspiration. That the government should enforce iniquity and the governed submit to it, seems to Mr. Froude, as it certainly is to many others, the true ideal of political science. Like most penmen he overrates the power of the sword. Where England has had to struggle she has been wise. Where physical strength has been on her side, as in Ireland, she has been made unwieldy by that strength. Her own strong hands have blinded her. She has had force but no direction.

There is, of course, a story in Mr. Froude's novel. It is not simply a political disquisition. The interest of the tale, such as it is, centres round two men, Colonel Goring and Morty Sullivan, the Cromwellian and the Celt. These men are enemies by race and creed and feeling. The first represents Mr. Froude's cure for Ireland. He is a resolute 'Englishman, with strong Nonconformist tendencies,' who plants an industrial colony on the coast of Kerry, and has deep-rooted objections to that illicit trade with France which in the last century was the sole method by which the Irish people were enabled to pay their rents to their absentee landlords. Colonel Goring bitterly regrets that the Penal Laws against the Catholics are not rigorously carried out. He is a 'Police at any price' man.

'And this,' said Goring scornfully, 'is what you call governing Ireland, hanging up your law like a scarecrow in the garden till every sparrow has learnt to make a jest of it. Your Popery Acts! Well, you borrowed them from France. The French Catholics did not choose to keep the Hugonots among them, and recalled the Edict of Nantes. As they treated the Hugonots, so you said to all the world that you would treat the Papists. You borrowed from the French the very language of your Statute, but they are not afraid to stand by their law, and you are afraid to stand by yours. You let the people laugh at it, and in teaching them to despise one law, you teach them to despise all laws—God's and man's alike. I cannot say how it will end; but I can tell you this, that you are training up a race with the education which you are giving them that will astonish mankind by and bye.'

Mr. Froude's resume of the history of Ireland is not without power though it is far from being really accurate. 'The Irish,' he tells us, 'had disowned the facts of life, and the facts of life had proved the strongest.' The English, unable to tolerate anarchy so near their shores, 'consulted the Pope. The Pope gave them leave to interfere, and the Pope had the best of the bargain. For the English brought him in, and the Irish . . . kept him there.' England's first settlers were Norman nobles. They became more Irish than the Irish, and England found herself in this difficulty: 'To abandon Ireland would be discreditable, to rule it as a province would be contrary to English traditions.' She then 'tried to rule by dividing,' and failed. The Pope was too strong for her. At last she made her great political discovery. What Ireland wanted was evidently an entirely new population 'of the same race and the same religion as her own.' The new policy was partly carried out:

Elizabeth first and then James and then Cromwell replanted the Island, introducing English, Scots, Hugonots, Flemings, Dutch, tens of thousands of families of vigorous and earnest Protestants, who brought their industries along with them. Twice the Irish . . . tried . . . to drive out this new element . . . They failed. . . . [But] England . . . had no sooner accomplished her long task than she set herself to work to spoil it again. She destroyed the industries of her colonists by her trade laws. She set the Bishops to rob them of their religion. . . . [As for the gentry,] The purpose for which they had been introduced into Ireland was unfulfilled. They were but alien intruders, who did nothing, who were allowed to do nothing. The time would come when an exasperated population would demand that the land should be given back to them, and England would then, perhaps, throw the gentry to the wolves, in the hope of a momentary peace. But her own turn would follow. She would be face to face with the old problem, either to make a new conquest or to retire with disgrace.

Political disquisitions of this kind, and prophecies after the event, are found all through Mr. Froude's book, and on almost every second page we come across aphorisms on the Irish character, on the teachings of Irish history and on the nature of England's mode of government. Some of them represent Mr. Froude's own views, others are entirely dramatic and introduced for the purpose of characterisation. We append some specimens. As epigrams they are not very felicitous, but they are interesting from some points of view.

Irish Society grew up in happy recklessness. Insecurity added zest to enjoyment.

We Irish must either laugh or cry, and if we went in for crying, we should all hang ourselves.

Too close a union with the Irish had produced degeneracy both of character and creed in all the settlements of English.

We age quickly in Ireland with the whiskey and the broken heads.

The Irish leaders cannot fight. They can make the country ungovernable, and keep an English army occupied in watching them.

No nation can ever achieve a liberty that will not be a curse to them, except by arms in the field.

[The Irish] are taught from their cradles that English rule is the cause of all their miseries. They were as ill off under their own chiefs; but they would bear from their natural leaders what they will not bear from us, and if we have not made their lot more wretched we have not made it any better.

'Patriotism? Yes! Patriotism of the Hibernian order. The country has been badly treated, and is poor and miserable. This is the patriot's stock in trade. Does he want it mended? Not he. His own occupation would be gone.'

Irish corruption is the twin-brother of Irish eloquence.

England will not let us break the heads of our scoundrels; she will not break them herself; we are a free country, and must take the consequences.

The functions of the Anglo-Irish Government were to do what ought not to be done, and to leave undone what ought to be done.

The Irish race have always been noisy, useless and ineffectual. They have produced nothing, they have done nothing, which it is possible to admire. What they are, that they have always been, and the only hope for them is that their ridiculous Irish nationality should be buried and forgotten.

The Irish are the best actors in the world.

Order is an exotic in Ireland. It has been imported from England, but it will not grow. It suits neither soil, nor climate. If the English wanted order in Ireland, they should have left none of us alive.

When ruling powers are unjust, nature reasserts her rights.

Even anarchy has its advantages.

Nature keeps an accurate account. . . . The longer a bill is left unpaid, the heavier the accumulation of interest.

You cannot live in Ireland without breaking laws on one side or another. Pecca fortiter, therefore, as . . . Luther said.

The animal spirits of the Irish remained when all else was gone, and if there was no purpose in their lives, they could at least enjoy themselves.

The Irish peasants can make the country hot for the Protestant gentleman, but that is all they are fit for.

As we said before, if Mr. Froude intended his book to help the Tory Government to solve the Irish question he has entirely missed his aim. The Ireland of which he writes has disappeared. As a record, however, of the incapacity of a Teutonic to rule a Celtic people against their own wish, his book is not without value. It is dull, but dull books are very popular at present; and as people have grown a little tired of talking about Robert Elsmere, they will probably take to discussing The Two Chiefs of Dunboy. There are some who will welcome with delight the idea of solving the Irish question by doing away with the Irish people. There are others who will remember that Ireland has extended her boundaries, and that we have now to reckon with her not merely in the Old World but in the New.

The Two Chiefs of Dunboy: or An Irish Romance of the Last Century. By J. A. Froude. (Longmans, Green and Co.)


(Woman's World, May 1889.)

Miss Caroline Fitz Gerald's volume of poems, Venetia Victrix, is dedicated to Mr. Robert Browning, and in the poem that gives its title to the book it is not difficult to see traces of Mr. Browning's influence. Venetia Victrix is a powerful psychological study of a man's soul, a vivid presentation of a terrible, fiery-coloured moment in a marred and incomplete life. It is sometimes complex and intricate in expression, but then the subject itself is intricate and complex. Plastic simplicity of outline may render for us the visible aspect of life; it is different when we come to deal with those secrets which self-consciousness alone contains, and which self-consciousness itself can but half reveal. Action takes place in the sunlight, but the soul works in the dark.

There is something curiously interesting in the marked tendency of modern poetry to become obscure. Many critics, writing with their eyes fixed on the masterpieces of past literature, have ascribed this tendency to wilfulness and to affectation. Its origin is rather to be found in the complexity of the new problems, and in the fact that self-consciousness is not yet adequate to explain the contents of the Ego. In Mr. Browning's poems, as in life itself which has suggested, or rather necessitated, the new method, thought seems to proceed not on logical lines, but on lines of passion. The unity of the individual is being expressed through its inconsistencies and its contradictions. In a strange twilight man is seeking for himself, and when he has found his own image, he cannot understand it. Objective forms of art, such as sculpture and the drama, sufficed one for the perfect presentation of life; they can no longer so suffice.

The central motive of Miss Caroline Fitz Gerald's psychological poem is the study of a man who to do a noble action wrecks his own soul, sells it to evil, and to the spirit of evil. Many martyrs have for a great cause sacrificed their physical life; the sacrifice of the spiritual life has a more poignant and a more tragic note. The story is supposed to be told by a French doctor, sitting at his window in Paris one evening:

How far off Venice seems to-night! How dim The still-remembered sunsets, with the rim Of gold round the stone haloes, where they stand, Those carven saints, and look towards the land, Right Westward, perched on high, with palm in hand, Completing the peaked church-front. Oh how clear And dark against the evening splendour! Steer Between the graveyard island and the quay, Where North-winds dash the spray on Venice;—see The rosy light behind dark dome and tower, Or gaunt smoke-laden chimney;—mark the power Of Nature's gentleness, in rise or fall Of interlinked beauty, to recall Earth's majesty in desecration's place, Lending yon grimy pile that dream-like face Of evening beauty;—note yon rugged cloud, Red-rimmed and heavy, drooping like a shroud Over Murano in the dying day. I see it now as then—so far away!

The face of a boy in the street catches his eye. He seems to see in it some likeness to a dead friend. He begins to think, and at last remembers a hospital ward in Venice:

'Twas an April day, The year Napoleon's troops took Venice—say The twenty-fifth of April. All alone Walking the ward, I heard a sick man moan, In tones so piteous, as his heart would break: 'Lost, lost, and lost again—for Venice' sake!' I turned. There lay a man no longer young, Wasted with fever. I had marked, none hung About his bed, as friends, with tenderness, And, when the priest went by, he spared to bless, Glancing perplexed—perhaps mere sullenness. I stopped and questioned: 'What is lost, my friend?' 'My soul is lost, and now draws near the end. My soul is surely lost. Send me no priest! They sing and solemnise the marriage feast Of man's salvation in the house of love, And I in Hell, and God in Heaven above, And Venice safe and fair on earth between— No love of mine—mere service—for my Queen.'

He was a seaman, and the tale he tells the doctor before he dies is strange and not a little terrible. Wild rage against a foster-brother who had bitterly wronged him, and who was one of the ten rulers over Venice, drives him to make a mad oath that on the day when he does anything for his country's good he will give his soul to Satan. That night he sails for Dalmatia, and as he is keeping the watch, he sees a phantom boat with seven fiends sailing to Venice:

I heard the fiends' shrill cry: 'For Venice' good! Rival thine ancient foe in gratitude, Then come and make thy home with us in Hell!' I knew it must be so. I knew the spell Of Satan on my soul. I felt the power Granted by God to serve Him one last hour, Then fall for ever as the curse had wrought. I climbed aloft. My brain had grown one thought, One hope, one purpose. And I heard the hiss Of raging disappointment, loth to miss Its prey—I heard the lapping of the flame, That through the blanched figures went and came, Darting in frenzy to the devils' yell. I set that cross on high, and cried: 'To Hell My soul for ever, and my deed to God! Once Venice guarded safe, let this vile clod Drift where fate will.' And then (the hideous laugh Of fiends in full possession, keen to quaff The wine of one new soul not weak with tears, Pealing like ruinous thunder in mine ears) I fell, and heard no more. The pale day broke Through lazar-windows, when once more I woke, Remembering I might no more dare to pray.

The idea of the story is extremely powerful, and Venetia Victrix is certainly the best poem in the volume—better than Ophelion, which is vague, and than A Friar's Story, which is pretty but ordinary. It shows that we have in Miss Fitz Gerald a new singer of considerable ability and vigour of mind, and it serves to remind us of the splendid dramatic possibilities extant in life, which are ready for poetry, and unsuitable for the stage. What is really dramatic is not necessarily that which is fitting for presentation in a theatre. The theatre is an accident of the dramatic form. It is not essential to it. We have been deluded by the name of action. To think is to act.

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