Impressions And Comments
Havelock Ellis

Part 2 out of 3

writer, a man who, having laboriously taught himself to write after the
best copybook models, found that he had nothing to say and duly said it at
length. It was a state of things highly pleasing to the mob. For they said
one to another: Look, here is a man who writes beautifully, evidently a
Great Writer; and there is nothing inside him but sawdust, just like you
and me. For the most part good writing in the nineteenth century was
self-conscious writing, which cannot be beautiful. Is a woman gazing into
her mirror beautiful?

Our writers waver between vulgarity on the one hand, artificiality or
eccentricity on the other. It is an alternation of evils. The best writing
must always possess both Dignity and Familiarity, otherwise it can never
touch at once the high things and the low things of life, or appeal simply
to the complete human person. That is well illustrated by Cervantes, who
thereby becomes, for all his carelessness, one of the supremely great
writers. There, again, is Brantome, not a supremely great writer, or even
a writer who set out to be great. But he has in him the roots of great
style. He possesses in an incomparable degree this High Familiarity. His
voice is so exquisitely pitched that he can describe with equal simplicity
and charm the secrets of monarchs' hearts or the intimate peculiarities of
maids of honour. He knows that, as a fine critic has said, everything is
serious and at the same time frivolous. He makes us feel that the
ambitions of monarchs may be frivolous, and the intimate secrets of maids
of honour of serious interest.

But where is our great writer to-day, and how can we apply this test to
him? If he deals frivolously with the King off he goes to prison, and if
he deals seriously with so much as a chambermaid's physical secrets off he
goes to prison again, only on a different pretext. And in either case we
all cry: Serve him right!

It ought to be a satisfaction to us to feel that we could not well sink
lower. There is nothing left for us but to rise. The tide turns at low
water as well as at high.

_March_ 19.--"Behold a Republic," once eloquently exclaimed Mr. Bryan, now
Secretary of State of the United States, "solving the problem of
civilisation, hastening the coming of Universal Brotherhood, a Republic
which gives light and inspiration to those who sit in darkness ... a
Republic gradually but surely becoming the supreme moral factor in the
world's progress!"

Behold a Republic, one is hereby at once impelled to continue, where
suspected evildoers are soaked in oil and roasted, where the rulings of
judges override the law, a Republic where the shadow of morality is
preferred to the substance, and a great man is driven out of the land
because he has failed to conform to that order of things, a Republic where
those who sit in darkness are permitted to finance crime. It would not be
difficult to continue Mr. Bryan's rhapsody in the same vein.

Now one has no wish to allude to these things. Moreover, it is easy to set
forth definitely splendid achievements on the other side of the account,
restoring the statement to balance and sanity. It is the glare of
rhapsodical eulogy which instinctively and automatically evokes the
complementary colours and afterimages. For, as Keble rightly thought, it
is a dangerous exploit to

wind ourselves too high
For sinful man beneath the sky.

The spectacle of his hinder parts thus presented to the world may be quite
other than the winder intended.

_March_ 20.--The other day a cat climbed the switchboard at the electric
lighting works of Cardiff, became entangled in the wires, and plunged the
city into darkness, giving up his life in this supreme achievement. It is
not known that he was either a Syndicalist or a Suffragette. But his
adventure is significant for the Civilisation we are moving towards.

All Civilisation depends on the Intelligence, Sympathy, and Mutual Trust
of the persons who wrought that Civilisation. It was not so in barbaric
days to anything like the same degree. Then a man's house was his castle.
He could shut himself up with his family and his retainers and be
independent of society, even laugh at its impotent rage. No man's house is
his castle now. He is at the mercy of every imbecile and every fanatic.
His whole life is regulated by delicate mechanisms which can be put out of
gear by a touch. There is nothing so fragile as civilisation, and no high
civilisation has long withstood the manifold risks it is exposed to.
Nowadays any naughty grown-up child can say to Society: Give me the
sugar-stick I want or I'll make your life intolerable. And for a brief
moment he makes it intolerable.

Nature herself in her most exquisite moods has shared the same fate at the
hands of Civilised Man. If there is anything anywhere in the world that is
rare and wild and wonderful, singular in the perfection of its beauty,
Civilised Man sweeps it out of existence. It is the fate everywhere of
lyre-birds, of humming-birds, of birds of Paradise, marvellous things that
Man may destroy and can never create. They make poor parlour ornaments and
but ugly adornments for silly women. The world is the poorer and we none
the richer. The same fate is overtaking all the loveliest spots on the
earth. There are rare places which Primitive Man only approaches on
special occasions, with sacred awe, counting their beauty inviolable and
the animals living in them as gods. Such places have existed in the heart
of Africa unto to-day. Civilised man arrives, disperses the awe, shoots
the animals, if possible turns them into cash. Eventually he turns the
scenery into cash, covering it with dear hotels and cheap advertisements.
In Europe the process has long been systematised. Lake Leman was once a
spot which inspired poets with a new feeling for romantic landscape. What
Rousseau or Byron could find inspiration on that lake to-day? The Pacific
once hid in its wilderness a multitude of little islands upon which, as
the first voyagers and missionaries bore witness, Primitive Man, protected
by Nature from the larger world, had developed a rarely beautiful culture,
wild and fierce and voluptuous, and yet in the highest degree humane.
Civilised man arrived, armed with Alcohol and Syphilis and Trousers and
the Bible, and in a few years only a sordid and ridiculous shadow was left
of that uniquely wonderful life. People talk with horror of "Sabotage."
Naturally enough. Yet they do not see that they themselves are morally
supporting, and financially paying for, and even religiously praying for,
a gigantic system of world-wide "Sabotage" which for centuries has been
recklessly destroying things that are infinitely more lovely and
irreparable than any that Syndicalists may have injured.

Nature has her revenge on Civilised Man, and when he in his turn comes to
produce exquisite things she in her turn crushes them. By chance, or with
a fine irony, she uses as her instruments the very beings whom he, in his
reckless fury of incompetent breeding, has himself procreated. And whether
he will ever circumvent her by learning to breed better is a question
which no one is yet born to answer.

_March 21_.--It is maintained by some that every great poet is a great
critic. I fail to see it. For the most part I suspect the poetry of the
great critic and the criticism of the great poet. There can be no more
instructive series of documents in this matter than the enthusiastic
records of admiration which P. H. Bailey collected from the first poets of
his time concerning his _Festus_. That work was no doubt a fine
achievement; when I was fifteen I read it from end to end with real
sympathy, and interest that was at least tepid. But to imagine that it was
a great poem, or that there was so much as a single line of great poetry
in all the six hundred pages of it! It needed a poet for that.

If we consider poets as critics in the field of art generally, where their
aesthetic judgment might be less biassed, they show no better. Think of
the lovely little poem in which Tennyson eulogised the incongruous facade
of Milan Cathedral. And for any one who with Wordsworth's exquisite sonnet
on King's College Chapel in his mind has the misfortune to enter that long
tunnel, beplastered with false ornament, the disillusion is unforgettable.
Robert Browning presents a highly instructive example of the poet as
critic. He was interested in many artists in many fields of art, yet it
seems impossible for him to be interested in any who were not second-rate
or altogether inferior: Abt Vogler, Galuppi, Guercino, Andrea del Sarto,
and the rest. One might hesitate indeed to call Filippo Lippi inferior,
but the Evil Genius still stands by, and from Browning's hands Lippi
escapes a very poor creature.

Baudelaire stands apart as a great poet who was an equally great critic,
as intuitive, as daring, as decisively and immediately right in aesthetic
judgment as an artistic creation. And even with Baudelaire as one's guide
one sometimes needs to walk by faith. In the baroque church of St. Loup in
Namur he admired so greatly--the church wherein he was in the end stricken
by paralysis--I have wandered and hesitated a little between the great
critic's insight into a strange beauty and the great artist's acceptance
of so frigidly artificial a model.

Why indeed should one expect a great poet to be a great critic? The fine
critic must be sensitive, but he must also be clear-eyed, calm, judicial.
The poet must be swept by emotion, carried out of himself, strung to high
tension. How can he be sure to hold the critical balance even? He must
indeed be a critic, and an exquisite critic, in the embodiment of his own
dream, the technique of his own verse. But do not expect him to be a
critic outside his own work. Do not expect to find the bee an authority on
ant-hills or the ant a critic of honeycomb.

March 22.--Hendrik Andersen sends from Rome the latest news of that
proposed World City he is working towards with so much sanguine ardour,
the City which is to be the internationally social Embodiment of the World
Conscience, though its site--Tervueren, Berne, the Hague, Paris, Frejus,
San Stefano, Rome, Lakewood--still remains undetermined. So far the City
is a fairy tale, but in that shape it has secured influential support and
been worked out in detail by some forty architects, engineers, sculptors,
and painters, under the direction of Hebrard. It covers some ten square
miles of ground. In its simple dignity, in its magnificent design, in its
unrivalled sanitation, it is unique. The International Centres represented
fall into three groups: Physical Culture, Science, Art. The Art centres
are closely connected with the Physical Culture Centres by gardens devoted
to floriculture, natural history, zoology, and botany. It is all very

So far I only know of one World City. But Rome was the creation of a
special and powerful race, endowed with great qualities, and with the
defects of those qualities, and, moreover, it was the World City of a
small world. Who are to be the creators of this new World City? If it is
not to be left in the hands of a few long-haired men and short-haired
women, it will need a solid basis of ordinary people, including no doubt
English, such as Mr. A., and Mrs. B., and Miss C.

Now I know Mr. A., and Mrs. B., and Miss C., their admirable virtues,
their prim conventions, their little private weaknesses, their ingrained
prejudices, their mutual suspicion of one another. Little people may
fittingly rule a little village. But these little people would dominate
the huge Natatorium, the wonderful Bureau of Anthropological Records, and
the Temple of Religions.

On the whole I would rather work towards the creation of Great People than
of World Centres. Before creating a World Conscience let us have bodies
and souls for its reception. I am not enthusiastic about a World
Conscience which will be enshrined in Mr. A., and Mrs. B., and Miss C.
Excellent people, I know, but--a World Conscience?

_Easter Sunday_.--What a strange fate it is that made England! A little
ledge of beautiful land in the ocean, to draw and to keep all the men in
Europe who had the sea in their hearts and the wind in their brains,
daring children of Nature, greedy enough and romantic enough to trust
their fortunes to waves and to gales. The most eccentric of peoples, all
the world says, and the most acquisitive, made to be pirates and made to
be poets, a people that have fastened their big teeth into every quarter
of the globe and flung their big hearts in song at the feet of Nature, and
even done both things at the same time. The man who wrote the most
magnificent sentence in the English language was a pirate and died on the

_March 26_.--I have lately been hearing Busoni play Chopin, and absorbing
an immense joy from the skill with which that master-player evokes all the
virile and complex power of Chopin, the power and the intellect which
Pachmann, however deliciously he catches the butterflies fluttering up
from the keys, for the most part misses.

All the great artists, in whatever medium, take so rare a delight, now and
again, in interpreting some unutterable emotion, some ineffable vision, in
mere terms of technique. In Chopin, in Rodin, in Besnard, in
Rossetti,--indeed in any supreme artist,--again and again I have noted
this. Great simple souls for the most part, inarticulate except through an
endless power over the medium of their own art, they all love to take some
insignificant little lump of that medium, to work at that little lump,
with all their subtlest skill and power, in the production of what
seemingly may be some absolutely trivial object or detail, and yet, not by
what it obviously represents, but by the technique put into it, has become
a reality, a secret of the soul, and an embodiment of a vision never
before seen on earth.

Many years ago I realised this over Rossetti's poem "Cloud Confines." It
is made out of a little lump of tawdry material which says nothing, is,
indeed, mere twaddle. Yet it is wrought with so marvellous a technique
that we seem to catch in it a far-away echo of voices that were heard when
the morning stars sang together, and it clings tremulously to the memory
for ever.

Technique is the art of so dealing with matter--whether clay or pigment or
sounds or words--that it ceases to affect us in the same way as the stuff
it is wrought out of originally affects us, and becomes a Transparent
Symbol of a Spiritual Reality. Something that was always familiar and
commonplace is suddenly transformed into something that until that moment
eye had never seen or ear heard, and that yet seems the revelation of our
hearts' secret.

It is an important point to remember. For one sometimes hears ignorant
persons speak of technique with a certain supercilious contempt, as though
it were a mere negligible and inferior element in an artist's equipment
and not the art itself, the mere virtuosity of an accomplished fiddler who
seems to say anything with his fiddle, and has never really said anything
in his whole life. To the artist technique is another matter. It is the
little secret by which he reveals his soul, by which he reveals the soul
of the world. Through technique the stuff of the artist's work becomes the
stuff of his own soul moulded into shapes that were never before known. In
that act Dust is transubstantiated into God. The Garment of the Infinite
is lifted, and the aching human heart is pressed for one brief moment
against the breast of the Ineffable Mystery.

_March 29_.--I notice that in his _Year's Journey through France and Spain
in 1795_, Thicknesse favourably contrasts the Frenchman, who only took
wine at meals, with the Englishman, who, "earning disease and misery at
his bottle, sits at it many hours after dinner and always after supper."
The French have largely retained their ancient sober habit (save for the
unhappy introduction of the afternoon "aperitif"), but the English have
shown a tendency to abandon their intemperance of excess in favour of an
opposed intemperance, and instead of drinking till they fall under the
table have sometimes developed a passion for not drinking at all.
Similarly in eating, the English of old were renowned for the enormous
quantities of roast beef they ate; the French, who have been famous
bread-makers for at least seven hundred years, ate much bread and only a
moderate amount of meat; that remains their practice to-day, and though
such skilful cooks of vegetables the French have never shown any tendency
to live on them. When I was last at Versailles the latest guide-book
mentioned a vegetarian restaurant; I sought it out, only to find that it
had already disappeared. But the English have developed a passion for
vegetarianism, here again reacting from one intemperance to the opposed
intemperance. Just in the same way we have a national passion for
bull-baiting and cock-fighting and pheasant-shooting and fox-hunting, and
a no less violent passion for anti-vivisection and the protection of

This characteristic really goes very deep into our English temper. The
Englishman is termed eccentric, and eccentricity, in a precise and literal
sense, is fundamental in the English character. We preserve our balance,
in other words, by passing from one extreme to the opposite extreme, and
keep in touch with our centre of gravity by rolling heavily from one side
of it to the other side.

Geoffrey Malaterra, who outlined the Norman character many centuries ago
with much psychological acuteness, insisted on the excessiveness of that
_gens effrenatissima_, the tendency to unite opposite impulses, the taste
for contradictory extremes. Now of all their conquests the Normans only
made one true and permanent Conquest, the Conquest of England. And as
Freeman has pointed out, surely with true insight, the reason of the
profound conquest of England by the Normans simply lay in the fact that
the spirit of the Norman was already implanted in the English soil,
scattered broadcast by a long series of extravagant Northmen who had
daringly driven their prows into every attractive inlet. So on the
spiritual side the Norman had really in England little conquest to make.
The genius of Canute, one of the greatest of English kings and a Northman,
had paved the road for William the Conqueror. It was open to William
Blake, surely an indubitable Englishman, to establish the English national
motto: "The Road of Excess leads to the Palace of Wisdom." Certainly it is
a motto that can only be borne triumphantly on the standard of a very
well-tempered nation. On that road it is so easy to miss Wisdom and only
encounter Dissolution. Doubtless, on the whole, the Greeks knew better.

Now see how Illusion enters into the world, and men are moved by what
Jules de Gaultier calls Bovarism, the desire to be other than they are.
Here is this profound, blind, unconscious impulse, lying at the heart of
the race for thousands of years, and not to be torn out. And the children
of the race, when the hidden impulse stirring within drives them to
extremes, invent beautiful reasons for these extremes: patriotic reasons,
biological reasons, aesthetic reasons, moral reasons, humanitarian
reasons, hygienic reasons--there is no end to them.

_April 1._--When the boisterous winds of March are at last touched with a
new softness and become strangely exhilarating, when one sees the dry
hedges everywhere springing into points of delicate green and white
blossoms shining in the bare trees, then, for those who live in England
and know that summer is still far away, the impulse of migration arises
within. It has always seemed remarkable to me that Chaucer, at the outset
of the _Canterbury Tales_, definitely and clearly assumes that the reason
for pilgrimage is not primarily religious but biological, an impulse due
to the first manifestation of spring:

Than longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,
And palmers for to seken straunge strondes.

And what a delightful fiction (a manifestation of Vaihinger's omnipotent
"als ob") to transform this inner impulse into a sacred objective duty!

Perhaps if we were duly sensitive to the Inner Voice responding to natural
conditions, we might detect a migratory impulse for every month in the
year. For every month there is surely some fitting land and sky, some
fragrance that satisfies the sense or some vision that satisfies the soul.

In January certainly--if I confined my migrations to Europe--I would be in
the gardens of Malaga, for at that season it is that we of the North most
crave to lunch beneath the orange trees and to feel the delicious echo of
the sun in the air of midnight. In February I would go to Barcelona, where
the cooler air may be delightful, though when is it not delightful in
Barcelona, even if martial law prevails? For March there is doubtless
Sicily. For April there is no spot like Seville, when Spring arrives in a
dazzling intoxicating flash. In May one should be in Paris to meet the
spring again, softly insinuating itself into the heart under the delicious
northern sky. In June and July we may be anywhere, in cities or in
forests. August I prefer to spend in London, for then only is London
leisurely, brilliant, almost exotic; and only then can one really see
London. During September I would be wandering over Suffolk, to inhale its
air and to revel in its villages, or else anywhere in Normandy where the
crowd are not. I have never known where I would be in October, to escape
the first deathly chill of winter; but at all events there is
Aix-les-Bains, beautifully cloistered within its hills and still enlivened
by fantastic visions from the whole European world. In November there is
the Cornish coast, then often most exquisite, with soft nights, magical
skies, and bays star-illuminated with fishers' lights, fire-flies of the
sea. And before November is over I would be in Rome to end the year, not
Rome the new-fangled capital of an upstart kingdom, but that Rome, if we
may still detect it, which is the greatest and most inspiring city in the

_April 4._--An advocate of Anti-vivisection brings an action for libel
against an advocate of Vivisection. It matters little which will win. (The
action was brought on All Fools' Day.) The interesting point is that each
represents a great--or, if you prefer, a little--truth. But if each
recognised the other's truth he would be paralysed in proclaiming his own
truth. There would be general stagnation. The world is carried on by
ensuring that those who carry it on shall be blinded in one or the other
eye. We may call it the method of one-sided blinkers.

It is an excellent device of the Ironist.

_April 8._--As very slowly, by rare sudden glimpses, one obtains an
insight into the lives of people, one is constantly impressed by the large
amount of their moral activity which is hidden from view. No doubt there
are people who are all of a piece and all on the surface, people who are
all that they seem and nothing beyond what they seem. Yet I am sometimes
tempted to think that most people circle round the world as the moon
circles round it, always carefully displaying one side only to the human
spectators' view, and concealing unknown secrets on their hidden

The side that is displayed is, in the moral sphere, generally called
"respectable," and the side that is hidden "vicious." What men show they
call their "virtues." But if one looks at the matter broadly and
naturally, may it not be that the vices themselves are after all nothing
but disreputable virtues? It is not only schoolboys and servant-girls who
spend a considerable part of their time in doing things which are
flagrantly and absurdly contradictory of that artificially modelled
propriety which in public they exhibit. It is just the same, one finds by
chance revelations, among merchant princes and leaders of learned
professions. For it is not merely the degenerate and the unfit who cannot
confine all their activities within the limits prescribed by the
conventional morality which surrounds them, but often the ablest and most
energetic men, the sweetest and gentlest women. Moreover, it would often
seem that on this unseen side of their lives they may be even more heroic,
more inspired, more ideal, more vitally stimulated, than they are on that
side with which they confront the world.

Suppose people were morally inverted, turned upside down, with their vices
above water, and their respectable virtues submerged, suppose that they
were, so to say, turned morally inside out. And suppose that vice became
respectable and the respectabilities vicious, that men and women exercised
their vices openly and indulged their virtues in secret, would the world
be any the worse? Would there be a difference in the real nature of people
if they changed the fashion of wearing the natural hairy fur of their
coats inside instead of outside?

And if there is a difference, what is that difference?

_April 10._--I am a little surprised sometimes to find how commonly people
suppose that when one is unable to accept their opinions one is therefore
necessarily hostile to them. Thus a few years ago, I recall, Professor
Freud wrote how much pleasure it would give him if he could overcome my
hostility to his doctrines. But, as I hastened to reply, I have no
hostility to his doctrines, though they may not at every point be
acceptable to my own mental constitution. If I see a man pursuing a
dangerous mountain track I am not hostile in being unable to follow far on
the same track. On the contrary, I may call attention to that pioneer's
adventure, may admire his courage and skill, even applaud the results of
his efforts, or at all events the great ideal that animated him. In all
this I am not with him, but I am not hostile.

Why indeed should one ever be hostile? What a vain thing is this
hostility! A dagger that pierces the hand of him that holds it. They who
take up the sword shall perish by the sword was the lesson Jesus taught
and himself never learnt it. Ferociously, recklessly, that supreme master
of denunciation took up the sword of his piercing speech against the
"Scribes" and the "Pharisees" of the "generation of vipers," until he made
their very names a by-word and a reproach. And yet the Church of Jesus has
been the greatest generator of Scribes and Pharisees the world has ever
known, and they have even proved the very bulwark of it to this day. Look,
again, at Luther. There was the Catholic Church dying by inches, gently,
even exquisitely. And here came that gigantic peasant, with his too
exuberant energy, battered the dying Church into acute sensibility, kicked
it into emotion, galvanised it into life, prolonged its existence for a
thousand years. The man who sought to exterminate the Church proved to be
the greatest benefactor the Church had ever known.

The end men attain is rarely the end they desired. Some go out like Saul,
the son of Kish, who sought his father's asses and found a kingdom, and
some sally forth to seek kingdoms and find merely asses. In the one case
and in the other they are led by a hand that they knew not to a goal that
was not so much their own as that of their enemies.

So it is that we live for ever on hostility. Our friends may be the
undoing of us; in the end it is our enemies who save us. The views we hate
become ridiculous because they adopt them. Their very thoroughness leads
to an overwhelming reaction on whose waves we ride to victory. Even their
skill calls out our greater skill and our finer achievement. At their
best, at their worst, alike they help us. They are the very life-blood in
our veins.

It is a strange world in which, as Paulhan says (and I chance to alight on
his concordant words even as I write this note), "things are not employed
according to their essence, but, as a rule, for ends which are directly
opposed to that essence." We are more unsuccessful than we know. And if we
could all realise more keenly that we are fighting not so much in our own
cause as in the cause of our enemies, how greatly it would make for the
Visible Harmony of the World.

_April 12._--All literary art lies in the arrangement of life. The
literature most adequate to the needs of life is that most capable of
transforming the facts of life into expressive and beautiful words. French
literary art has always had that power. English literary art had it once
and has lost it now. When I read, for instance, Goncourt's _Journal_--one
of the few permanently interesting memoirs the nineteenth century has left
us--my heart sinks at the comparison of its adequacy to life with the
inadequacy of all contemporary English literature which seeks to grapple
with life. It is all pathetically mirrored in the typical English comic
paper, _Punch_, this inability to go below the surface of life, or even to
touch life at all, save in narrowly prescribed regions. But Goncourt is
always able to say what there is to say, simply and vividly; whatever
aspect of life presents itself, of that he is able to speak. I can
understand, surprising as at first it may be, how Verlaine, who seems at
every point so remote from Goncourt, yet counted him as the first
prose-writer of his time; Verlaine had penetrated to the _simplicite
cachee_ (to use Poincare's phrase) behind the seemingly tortured
expressions of Goncourt's art. Goncourt makes us feel that whatever is fit
to occur in the world is fit to be spoken of by him who knows how to speak
of it. If we wish to face the manifold interest of the world, in its
poignancy and its beauty, as well as in its triviality, there is no other

English literary art was strong and brave and expressive for several
centuries, even, one may say, on the whole, up to the end of the
eighteenth century, though I suppose that Dr. Johnson had helped to crush
the life out of it. When Queen Victoria came to the throne the finishing
stroke seems to have been dealt at it. One might fancy that the whole
literary world had become conscious of the youthful and innocent monarch's
eye on every book issued from the press, and that every writer feared he
might write a word to bring a blush on her virginal countenance. When
young Queen Elizabeth came to the throne, they seem to have felt, it was
another matter. There was a monarch who feared nothing and nobody, who
once spat at a courtier whose costume misliked her, who as a girl had
experienced no resentment when the Lord High Admiral, who was courting
her, sent a messenger to "ax hir whether hir great buttocks were grown any
less or no," a monarch who was not afraid of any word in the English
language, and loved the most expressive words best. Under such a monarch,
the Victorian writers felt they would no longer have modestly refrained
from becoming Shakespeares.

But the excuses for feebleness are apt to be more ingenious than
convincing. There is no connection between coarseness and art. Goncourt
was a refined aristocrat who associated with the most highly civilised men
and women of his day, and possessed the rarest secrets of aesthetic
beauty. Indeed we may say that it is precisely the consciousness of
coarseness which leads to a cowardly flight from the brave expression of
life. Most of these excuses are impotent. Most impotent of all is the
excuse that their books reach the Nursery and the Young Ladies' School. Do
they suppose by any chance that their books grapple with the real life of
Nurseries and Young Ladies' Schools? If they grappled with that they might
grapple with anything. It is a subterfuge, a sham, and with fatty
degeneration eating away the muscular fibre of their hearts, they snatch
at it.

The road is long, and a high discipline is needed, and a great courage, if
our English literature is to regain its old power and exert once more its
proper influence in the world.

_April_ 16.--I have often noticed--and I find that others also have
noticed--that when an artist in design, whether line or colour or clay,
takes up a pen and writes, he generally writes well, sometimes even
superbly well. Again and again it has happened that a man who has spent
his life with a brush in his hand has beaten the best penmen at their own

Leonardo, who was indeed great in everything, is among the few great
writers of Italian prose. Blake was first and above all an artist in
design, but at the best he had so magnificent a mastery of words that
besides it all but the rare best of his work in design looks thin and
artificial. Rossetti was drawing and painting all his life, and yet, as
has now become clear, it is only in language, verse and prose alike, that
he is a supreme master. Fromentin was a painter for his contemporaries,
yet his paintings are now quite uninteresting, while the few books he
wrote belong to great literature, to linger over with perpetual delight.
Poetry seemed to play but a small part in the life of Michelangelo, yet
his sonnets stand to-day by the side of his drawings and his marbles.
Rodin has all his life been passionately immersed in plastic art; he has
never written and seldom talks; yet whenever his more intimate disciples,
a Judith Cladel or a Paul Gsell, have set down the things he utters, they
are found to be among the most vital, fascinating, and profound sayings in
the world. Even a bad artist with the brush may be on the road to become a
good artist with the pen. Euripides was not only a soldier, he had tried
to be a painter before he became a supreme tragic dramatist, and, to come
down to modern times, Hazlitt and Thackeray, both fine artists with the
pen, had first been poor artists with the brush. It is hard, indeed, to
think of any artist in design who has been a bad writer. The painter may
never write, he may never feel an impulse to write, but when he writes, it
would almost seem without an effort, he writes well. The list of good
artists and bad artists who have been masters of words, from Vasari and
earlier onwards, is long. One sets down at random the names of Reynolds,
Northcote, Delacroix, Woolner, Carriere, Leighton, Gauguin, Beardsley, Du
Maurier, Besnard, to which doubtless it might be easy to add a host of
others. And then, for contrast, think of that other art, which yet seems
to be so much nearer to words; think of musicians!

The clue seems to be, not only in the nature of the arts of design, but
also in the nature of writing. For, unlike all the arts, writing is not
necessarily an art at all. It is just anything. It fails to carry
inevitably within it the discipline of art. And if the writer is not an
artist, if the discipline of art has left no acquired skill in his muscles
and no instinctive habit in his nerves, he may never so much as discover
that he is not an artist. The facility of writing is its fate.

Gourmont has well said that whatever is deeply thought is well written.
And one might add that whatever is deeply observed is well said. The
artist in design is by the very nature of his work compelled to observe
deeply, precisely, beautifully. He is never able to revolve in a vacuum,
or flounder in a morass, or run after a mirage. When there is nothing
there he is still. He is held by his art to Nature. So, when he takes up
his pen, by training, by acquired instinct, he still follows with the new
instrument, deeply, precisely, beautifully, the same mystery of Nature.

It was by a somewhat similar transference of skilled experience that the
great writers of Spain, who in so many cases were first soldiers and men
of the sword, when they took up the pen, wrote, carelessly it may seem,
but so poignantly, so vividly, so fundamentally well.

_April_ 22.--There is a certain type of mind which constitutionally
ignores and overlooks little things, and habitually moves among large
generalisations. Of such minds we may well find a type in Bacon, who so
often gave James I. occasion to remark jocularly in the Council Chamber of
his Lord Chancellor, _De minimis non curat lex_.

There is another type of mind which is constitutionally sensitive to the
infinite significance of minimal things. Of such, very typical in our day
are Freud and the Freudians grouped around him. There is nothing so small
that for Freud it is not packed with endless meaning. Every slightest
twitch of the muscles, every fleeting fancy of the brain, is unconsciously
designed to reveal the deepest impulse of the soul. Every detail of the
wildest dream of the night is merely a hieroglyph which may be
interpreted. Every symptom of disease is a symbol of the heart's desire.
In every seeming meaningless lapse of his tongue or his memory a man is
unconsciously revealing his most guarded and shameful secret. It is the
daring and fantastic attempt, astonishing in the unexpected amount of its
success, to work out this Philosophy of the Unconscious which makes the
work of the Freudians so fascinating.

They have their defects, both these methods, the far-sighted and the
near-sighted. Bacon fell into the ditch, and Freud is obsessed by the
vision of a world only seen through the delicate anastomosis of the nerves
of sex. Yet also they both have their rightness, they both help us to
realise the Divine Mystery of the Soul, towards which no telescope can
carry us too far, and no microscope too near.

_April_ 23.--I see to-day that Justice Darling--perhaps going a little out
of his way--informed the jury in the course of a summing-up that he "could
not read a chapter of Rabelais without being bored to death." The
assumption in this _obiter dictum_ seemed to be that Rabelais is an
obscene writer. And the implication seemed to be that to a healthily
virtuous and superior mind like the Judge's the obscene is merely

I note the remark by no means as a foolish eccentricity, but because it is
really typical. I seem to remember that, as a boy, I met with a very
similar assumption, though scarcely a similar implication, in Macaulay's
_Essays_, which at that time I very carefully read. I thereupon purchased
Rabelais in order to investigate for myself, and thus made the discovery
that Rabelais is a great philosopher, a discovery which Macaulay had
scarcely prepared me for, so that I imagined it to be original, until a
few years later I chanced to light upon the observations of Coleridge
concerning Rabelais' wonderful philosophic genius and his refined and
exalted morality, and I realised for the first time--with an unforgettable
thrill of joy--that I was not alone.

It seems clearly to be true that on the appearance in literature of the
obscene,--I use the word in a colourless and technical sense to indicate
the usually unseen or obverse side of life, the side behind the scenes,
the _postscenia vitae_ of Lucretius, and not implying anything necessarily
objectionable,--it at once for most readers covers the whole field of
vision. The reader may like it or dislike, but his reaction, especially if
he is English, seems to be so intense that it absorbs his whole psychic
activity. (I say "especially if he is English," because, though this
tendency seems universal, it is strongly emphasised in the Anglo-Saxon
mind. Gaby Deslys has remarked that she has sometimes felt embarrassed on
the London stage by finding that an attempt to arouse mere amusement has
been received with intense seriousness: "When I appear _en pantalons_ the
whole audience seems to hold its breath!") Henceforth the book is either
to be cherished secretly and silently, or else to be spoken of loudly with
protest and vituperation. And this reaction is by no means limited to
ignorant and unintelligent readers; it affects ordinary people, it affects
highly intelligent and super-refined people, it may even affect eminent
literary personages. The book may be by a great philosopher and contain
his deepest philosophy, but let an obscene word appear in it, and that
word will draw every reader's attention. Thus Shakespeare used to be
considered an obscene writer, in need of expurgation, and may be so
considered still, though his obscene passages even to our prudish modern
ears are so few that they could surely be collected on a single page. Thus
also it is that even the Bible, the God-inspired book of Christendom, has
been judicially declared to be obscene. It may have been a reasonable
decision, for judicial decision ought, no doubt, to reflect popular
opinion; a judge must be judicial, whether or not he is just.

One wonders how far this is merely due to defective education and
therefore modifiable, and how far it is based on an eradicable tendency of
the human mind. Of course the forms of obscenity vary in every age, they
are varying every day. Much which for the old Roman was obscene is not so
for us; much which for us is obscene would have made a Roman smile at our
simplicity. But even savages sometimes have obscene words not fit to utter
in good aboriginal society, and a very strict code of propriety which to
violate would be obscene. Rabelais in his immortal work wore a fantastic
and extravagant robe, undoubtedly of very obscene texture, and it
concealed from stupid eyes, as he doubtless desired that it should, one of
the greatest and wisest spirits that ever lived. It would be pleasant to
think that in the presence of such men who in their gay and daring and
profound way present life in its wholeness and find it sweet, it may some
day be the instinct of the ordinary person to enjoy the vision reverently,
if not on his knees, thanking his God for the privilege vouchsafed to him.
But one has no sort of confidence that it will be so.

_April_ 27.--Every garden tended by love is a new revelation, and to see
it for the first time gives one a new thrill of joy, above all at this
moment of the year when flowers are still young and virginal, yet already
profuse and beautiful. It is the moment, doubtless, when Linnaeus,
according to the legend, saw a gorse-covered English common for the first
time and fell on his knees to thank God for the sight. (I say "legend,"
for I find on consulting Fries that the story must be a praiseworthy
English invention, since it was in August that Linnaeus visited England.)

Linnaeus, it may be said, was a naturalist. But it is not merely the
naturalist who experiences this emotion; it is common to the larger part
of humanity. Savages deck their bodies with flowers just as craftsmen and
poets weave them into their work; the cottager cultivates his little
garden, and the town artisan cherishes his flower-pots. However alien
one's field of interest may be, flowers still make their appeal. I recall
the revealing thrill of joy with which, on a certain day, a quite ordinary
day nearly forty years ago, my eye caught the flash of the red roses amid
the greenery of my verandah in the Australian bush. And this bowl of
wall-flowers before me now--these old-fashioned, homely, shapeless,
intimately fascinating flowers, with their faint ancient fragrance, their
antique faded beauty, their symbolisation of the delicate and contented
beauty of old age--seem to me fit for the altar of whatever might be my
dearest god.

Why should flowers possess this emotional force? It is a force which is
largely independent of association and quite abstracted from direct vital
use. Flowers are purely impersonal, they subserve neither of the great
primary ends of life. They concern us even less than the sunset. And yet
we are irresistibly impelled to "consider the lilies."

Surely it is as symbols, manifoldly complex symbols, that flowers appeal
to us so deeply. They are, after all, the organs of sex, and for some
creatures they are also the sources of food. So that if we only look at
life largely enough flowers are in the main stream of vital necessity.
They are useless to man, but man cannot cut himself off from the common
trunk of life. He is related to the insects and even in the end to the
trees. So that it may not be so surprising that while flowers are vitally
useless to man they are yet the very loveliest symbols to him of all the
things that are vitally useful. There is nothing so vitally intimate to
himself that man has not seen it, and rightly seen it, symbolically
embodied in flowers. Study the folk-nomenclature of plants in any country,
or glance through Aigremont's _Volkserotik und Pflanzenwelt_. And the
symbolisation is not the less fascinating because it is so obscure, so
elusive, usually so unconscious, developed by sudden happy inspirations of
peasant genius, and because I am altogether ignorant why the morbid and
nameless tones of these curved and wrinkled wall-flowers delight me as
they once delighted my mother, and so, it may be, backwards, through
ancient generations who dwelt in parsonages whence their gaze caught the
flowers which the seventeenth-century herbalist said in his _Paradisus
Terrestris_ are "often found growing on the old walls of Churches."

_May_ 8.--It is curious how there seems to be an instinctive disgust in
Man for his own nearest ancestors and relations. If only Darwin could
conscientiously have traced Man back to the Elephant or the Lion or the
Antelope, how much ridicule and prejudice would have been spared to the
doctrine of Evolution! "Monkey" and "Worm" have been the bywords of
reproach among the more supercilious of human beings, whether schoolboys
or theologians. And it was precisely through the Anthropoid Apes, and more
remotely the Annelids, that Darwin sought to trace the ancestry of Man.
The Annelids have been rejected, but the Arachnids have taken their place.

Really the proud and the haughty have no luck in this world. They can
scarcely perform their most elementary natural necessities with dignity,
and they have had the misfortune to teach their flesh to creep before
spiders and scorpions whom, it may be, they have to recognise as their own
forefathers. Well for them that their high place is reserved in another
world, and that Milton recognised "obdurate pride" as the chief mark of

_May_ 9.--The words of Keats concerning the ocean's "priestlike task of
pure ablution" often come to my mind in this deserted Cornish bay. For it
is on such a margin between sea and land over which the tide rolls from
afar that alone--save in some degree on remote Australian hills---I have
ever found the Earth still virginal and unstained by Man. Everywhere else
we realise that the Earth has felt the embrace of Man, and been beautified
thereby, it may be, or polluted. But here, as the tide recedes, all is
ever new and fresh. Nature is untouched, and we see the gleam of her,
smell the scent of her, hear the voice of her, as she was before ever life
appeared on the Earth, or Venus had risen from the sea. This moment, for
all that I perceive, the first Adam may not have been born or the caravel
of the Columbus who discovered this new world never yet ground into the
fresh-laid sand.

So when I come unto these yellow sands I come to kiss a pure and new-born

_May_ 12.--The name of Philip Thicknesse, at one time Governor of
Landguard Fort, is not unknown to posterity. The echo of his bitter
quarrel with his son by his second wife, Baron Audley, has come down to
us. He wrote also the first biography of Gainsborough, whom he claimed to
have discovered. Moreover (herein stealing a march on Wilhelm von
Humboldt) he was the first to set on record a detailed enthusiastic
description of Montserrat from the modern standpoint. It was this last
achievement which led me to him.

Philip Thicknesse, I find, is well worth study for his own sake. He is the
accomplished representative of a certain type of Englishman, a type,
indeed, once regarded by the world at large outside England as that of the
essential Englishman. The men of this type have, in fact, a passion for
exploring the physical world, they are often found outside England, and
for some strange reason they seem more themselves, more quintessentially
English, when they are out of England. They are gentlemen and they are
patriots. But they have a natural aptitude for disgust and indignation,
and they cannot fail to find ample exercise for that aptitude in the
affairs of their own country. So in a moment of passion they shake the
dust of England off their feet to rush abroad, where, also,
however,--though they are far too intelligent to be inappreciative of what
they find,--they meet even more to arouse their disgust and indignation,
and in the end they usually come back to England.

So it was with Philip Thicknesse. A lawsuit, with final appeal to the
House of Lords, definitely deprived him of all hope of a large sum of
money he considered himself entitled to. He at once resolved to abandon
his own impossible country and settle in Spain. Accompanied by his wife
and his two young daughters, he set out from Calais with his carriage, his
horse, his man-servant, and his monkey. A discursive, disorderly,
delightful book is the record of his journey through France into
Catalonia, of his visit to Montserrat, which takes up the larger part of
it, of the abandonment of his proposed settlement in Spain, and of his
safe return with his whole retinue to Calais.

Thicknesse was an intelligent man and may be considered a good writer,
for, however careless and disorderly, he is often vivid and usually
amusing. He was of course something of a dilettante and antiquarian. He
had a sound sense for natural beauty. He was an enthusiastic friend as
well as a venomous enemy. He was infinitely tender to animals. His
insolence could be unmeasured, and as he had no defect of courage it was
just as likely to be bestowed on his superiors as on his subordinates.
When I read him I am reminded of the advice given in my early (1847) copy
of Murray's _Guide to France_: "Our countrymen have a reputation for
pugnacity in France; let them therefore be especially cautious not to make
use of their fists." Note Thicknesse's adventure with the dish of spinach.
It was on the return journey. He had seen that spinach before it came to
table. He gives several reasons why he objected to it, and they are
excellent reasons. But notwithstanding his injunction the spinach was
served, and thereupon the irate Englishman took up the dish and,
dexterously reversing it, spinach and all, made therewith a hat for the
serving-maid's head. From the ensuing hubbub and the _aubergiste's_ wrath
Thicknesse was delivered by the advent of a French gentleman who
chivalrously declared (we are told) that he himself would have acted
similarly. But one realises the picture of the typical Englishman which
Thicknesse left behind him. It is to his influence and that of our
fellow-countrymen who resembled him that we must attribute the evolution
of the type of Englishman, arrogant, fantastic, original, who stalks
through Continental traditions, down even till to-day, for we find him in
Mr. Thomas Tobyson of Tottenwood in Henri de Regnier's _La Double
Maitresse_. For the most part the manners and customs of this type of man
are only known to us by hearsay which we may refuse to credit. But about
Thicknesse there is no manner of doubt; he has written himself down; he is
the veridic and positive embodiment of the type. That is his supreme

The type is scarcely that of the essential Englishman, yet it is one type,
and a notably interesting type, really racy of the soil. Borrow--less of a
fine gentleman than Thicknesse, but more of a genius--belonged to the
type. Landor, a man cast in a much grander mould, was yet of the same
sort, and the story which tells how he threw his Italian cook out of the
window, and then exclaimed with sudden compunction, "Good God! I forgot
the violets," is altogether in the spirit of Thicknesse. Trelawney was a
man of this kind, and so was Sir Richard Burton. In later years the men of
this type have tended, not so much to smooth their angularities as to
attenuate and subtilise them, and we have Samuel Butler and Goldwin Smith,
but in a rougher and more downright form there was much of the same temper
in William Stead. They are an uncomfortable race of men, but in many ways
admirable; we should be proud rather than ashamed of them. Their
unreasonableness, their inconsiderateness, their irritability, their
singular gleams of insight, their exuberant energy of righteous
vituperation, the curious irregularities of their minds,--however
personally alien one may happen to find such qualities,--can never fail to
interest and delight.

_May 13_.--When Aristotle declared that it is part of probability that the
improbable should sometimes happen he invented a formula that is apt for
the largest uses. Thus it is a part of justice that injustice should
sometimes be done, or, as Gourmont puts it, Injustice is one of the forms
of Justice. There lies a great truth which most of the civilised nations
of the world have forgotten.

On Candide's arrival in Portsmouth Harbour he found that an English
admiral had just been solemnly shot, in the sight of the whole fleet, for
having failed to kill as many Frenchmen as with better judgment he might
have killed. "Dans ce pays-ci il est bon de tuer de temps en temps un
amiral pour encourager les autres." I suppose that Voltaire was alluding
to the trial by court martial of Admiral Byng, which took place in
Portsmouth Harbour in 1757, while he was writing _Candide_.

To encourage the others! England has been regarded as a model of political
methods, and that is the method of justice by which, throughout the whole
period of her vital development, she has ensured the purity and the
efficiency of her political and social growth. Byng was shot in order
that, some eighteen months later, Nelson might be brought into life. It
was a triumphantly successful method. If our modern progress has carried
us beyond that method it is only because progress means change rather than

Only think how swiftly and efficiently we might purify and ennoble our
social structure if we had developed, instead of abandoning, this method.
Think, for instance, of the infinite loss of energy, of health, of lives,
the endless degradation of physical and spiritual beauty produced in
London alone by the mere failure to prevent a few million chimneys from
belching soot on the great city and choking all the activities of the
vastest focus of activity in the world. Find the official whose
inefficiency is responsible for this neglect, improvise a court to try
him, and with all the deliberate solemnity and pageantry you can devise
put him to death in the presence of all officialdom. And then picture the
marvellous efficiency of his successor! In a few years' time where would
you find one smut of soot in London? Or, again, think of our complicated
factory legislation and the terrible evils which still abound in our
factories. Find a sufficiently high-placed official who is responsible for
them, and practise the Byng method with him. Under his successor's rule,
we may be sure, we should no longer recognise our death-rates, our
disease-rates, and our accident rates, and the beautiful excuses which
fill our factory inspectors' reports would no longer be needed. There is
no body of officials, from the highest to the lowest, among whom the
exercise of this ancient privilege would not conduce to the highest ends
of justice and the furtherance of human welfare. People talk about the
degradation of politics. They fail to see that it is inevitable when
politics becomes a mere game. There was no degradation of politics when
the Advisers of the Crown were liable to be executed. For it is Death,
wisely directed towards noble ends, which gives Dignity to Life.

One may be quite sure that every fat and comfortable citizen (himself
probably an official of some sort) on whom this argument may be pressed
will take it as a joke in bad taste: "Horrible! disgusting!" Yet that same
citizen, stirring the contents of his morning newspaper into his muddy
brain as he stirs his sugar in his coffee, will complacently absorb all
the news of the day, so many hundred thousand men killed, wounded, or
diseased in the course of the Balkan campaigns, so much ugly and hopeless
misery all over the earth, and all avoidable, all caused, in the last
analysis, by the incompetence, obstinacy, blindness, or greed of some
highly placed official whose death at an earlier stage would have made for
the salvation of the world.

And if any one still feels any doubt regarding the efficacy of this
method, it is enough to point to our English kings. Every king of England
has at the back of his mind a vision of a flashing axe on a frosty January
morning nearly four centuries ago. It has proved highly salutary in
preserving them within the narrow path of Duty. Before Charles I. English
monarchs were an almost perpetual source of trouble to their people; they
have scarcely ever given more than a moment's trouble since. And justice
has herein been achieved by an injustice which has even worked out in
Charles's favour. It has conferred upon him a prestige he could never have
conferred upon himself. For of all our English monarchs since the Conquest
he alone has become a martyr and a saint, so far as Protestantism can
canonise anybody, and of all our dead kings he alone evokes to-day a
living loyalty. Such a result is surely well worth a Decollation.

We have abandoned the method of our forefathers. And see the ignoble and
feeble method we have put in its place. We cowardly promote our
inefficient persons to the House of Lords, or similar obscure heights. We
shelve them, or swathe them, or drop them. Sometimes, indeed, we apply a
simulacrum of the ancient method of punishment, especially if the offence
is sexual, but even there we have forgotten the correct method of its
application, for in such cases the delinquent is usually an effective
rather than an ineffective person, and when he has purged his fault we
continue to punish him in petty and underhand ways, mostly degrading to
those on whom they are inflicted and always degrading to those who inflict
them. We have found no substitute for the sharper way of our ancestors,
which was not only more effective socially, but even more pleasant for the
victim. For if it was a cause of temporary triumph to his enemies, it was
a source of everlasting exultation to his friends.

_May_ 14.--I was gazing at some tulips, the supreme image in our clime of
gaiety in Nature, their globes of petals opening into chalices and painted
with spires of scarlet and orange wondrously mingled with a careless
freedom that never goes astray, brilliant cups of delight serenely poised
on the firm shoulders of their stalks, incarnate images of flame under the
species of Eternity.

And by some natural transition my thoughts turned to the incident a
scholarly member of Parliament chanced to mention to me yesterday, of his
old student days in Paris, when early one evening he chanced to meet a
joyous band of students, one of whom triumphantly bore a naked girl on his
shoulders. In those days the public smiled or shrugged its shoulders:
"Youth will be youth." To-day, in the Americanised Latin Quarter, the
incident would merely serve to evoke the activities of the police.

Shall we, therefore, rail against the police, or the vulgar ideals of the
mob whose minions they are? Rather let us look below the surface and
admire the patient and infinite strategy of Nature. She is the same for
ever and for ever, and can afford to be as patient as she is infinite,
while she winds the springs of the mighty engine which always recoils on
those who attempt to censor the staging of her Comedy or dim the radiance
of the Earthly Spectacle.

And such is her subtlety that she even uses Man, her plaything, to
accomplish her ends. Nothing can be more superbly natural than the tulip,
and it was through the Brain of Man that Nature created the tulip.

_May_ 16.--It is an error to suppose that Solitude leads away from
Humanity. On the contrary it is Nature who brings us near to Man, her
spoilt and darling child. The enemies of their fellows are bred, not in
deserts, but in cities, where human creatures fester together in heaps.
The lovers of their fellows come out of solitude, like those hermits of
the Thebaid, who fled far from cities, who crucified the flesh, who seemed
to hang to the world by no more than a thread, and yet were infinite in
their compassion, and thought no sacrifice too great for a Human Being.

Here as I lie on the towans by a cloud of daisies among the waving and
glistening grass, while the sea recedes along the stretching sands, and
the cloudless sky throbs with the song of larks, and no human thing is in
sight, it is, after all, of Humanity that I am most conscious. I realise
that there is no human function so exalted or so rare, none so simple or
so humble, that it has not its symbol in Nature; that if all the Beauty of
Nature is in Man, yet all the Beauty of Man is in Nature. So it is that
the shuttlecock of Beauty is ever kept in living movement.

It is known to many that we need Solitude to find ourselves. Perhaps it is
not so well known that we need Solitude to find our fellows. Even the
Saviour is described as reaching Mankind through the Wilderness.

_May_ 20.--Miss Lind-Af-Hageby has just published an enthusiastic though
discriminating book on her distinguished fellow-countryman, August
Strindberg, the first to appear in English. Miss Lind-Af-Hageby is known
as the most brilliant, charming, and passionate opponent of the
vivisection of animals. Strindberg is known as perhaps the most ferocious
and skilful vivisector of the human soul. The literary idol of the
arch-antivivisector of animals is the arch-vivisector of men. It must not
be supposed, moreover, that Miss Lind-Af-Hageby overlooks this aspect of
Strindberg, which would hardly be possible in any case; she emphasises it,
though, it may be by a warning instinct rather than by deliberate
intention, she carefully avoids calling Strindberg a "vivisector," using
instead the less appropriate term "dissector." "He dissected the human
heart," she says, "laid bare its meanness, its uncleanliness; made men and
women turn on each other with sudden understanding and loathing, and
walked away smiling at the evil he had wrought."

I have often noted with interest that a passionate hatred of pain
inflicted on animals is apt to be accompanied by a comparative
indifference to pain inflicted on human beings, and sometimes a certain
complaisance, even pleasure, in such pain. But it is rare to find the
association so clearly presented. Pain is woven into the structure of
life. It cannot be dispensed with in the vital action and reaction unless
we dispense with life itself. We must all accept it somewhere if we would
live at all; and in order that all may live we must not all accept it at
the same point. Vivisection--as experiments on animals are picturesquely
termed--is based on a passionate effort to combat human pain,
anti-vivisection on a passionate effort to combat animal pain. In each
case one set of psychic fibres has to be drawn tense, and another set
relaxed. Only they do not happen to be the same fibres. We see the dynamic
mechanism of the soul's force.

How exquisitely the world is balanced! It is easy to understand how the
idea has arisen among so many various peoples, that the scheme of things
could only be accounted for by the assumption of a Conscious Creator, who
wrought it as a work of art out of nothing, _spectator ab extra_. It was a
brilliant idea, for only such a Creator, and by no means the totality of
the creation he so artistically wrought, could ever achieve with complete
serenity the Enjoyment of Life.

_May_ 23.--I seem to see some significance in the popularity of _The
Yellow Jacket_, the play at the Duke of York's Theatre "in the Chinese
manner," and even more genuinely in the Chinese manner than its producers
openly profess. This significance lies in the fact that the Chinese manner
of performing plays, like the Chinese manner of making pots, is the
ideally perfect manner.

The people who feel as I feel take no interest in the modern English
theatre and seldom have any wish to go near it. It combines the maximum of
material reality with the maximum of spiritual unreality, an evil mixture
but inevitable, for on the stage the one involves the other. Nothing can
be more stodgy, more wearisome, more unprofitable, more away from all the
finer ends of dramatic art. But I have always believed that the exponents
of this theatrical method must in the end be the instruments of their own
undoing, give them but rope enough. That is what seems to be happening. A
reaction has been gradually prepared by Poel, Gordon Craig, Reinhardt,
Barker; we have had a purified Shakespeare on the stage and a moderately
reasonable Euripides. Now this _Yellow Jacket_, in which realism is openly
flouted and a drama is played on the same principles as children play in
the nursery, attracts crowds. They think they are being amused; they
really come to a sermon. They are being taught the value of their own
imaginations, the useful function of accepted conventions, and the proper
meaning of illusion on the stage.

Material realism on the stage is not only dull, it is deadly; the drama
dies at its touch. The limitations of reality on the stage are absurdly
narrow; the great central facts of life become impossible of presentation.
Nothing is left to the spectator; he is inert, a cypher, a senseless

All great drama owes its vitality to the fact that its spectator is not a
mere passive block, but the living inspiration of the whole play. He is
indeed himself the very stage on which the drama is enacted. He is more,
he is the creator of the play. Here are a group of apparently ordinary
persons, undoubtedly actors, furnished with beautiful garments and little
more, a few routine stage properties, and, above all, certain formal
conventions, without which, as we see in Euripides and all great
dramatists, there can be no high tragedy. Out of these mere nothings and
the suggestions they offer, the Spectator, like God, creates a new world
and finds it very good. It is his vision, his imagination, the latent
possibilities of his soul that are in play all the time.

Every great dramatic stage the world has seen, in Greece, in Spain, in
Elizabethan England, in France, has been ordered on these lines. The great
dramatist is not a juggler trying to impose an artifice on his public as a
reality; he sets himself in the spectator's heart. Shakespeare was well
aware of this principle of the drama; Prospero is the Ideal Spectator of
the Theatre.

_May_ 31.--It often impresses me with wonder that in Nature or in Art
exquisite beauty is apt to appear other than it is. Jules de Gaultier
seeks to apply to human life a principle of Bovarism by which we always
naturally seek to appear other than we are, as Madame Bovary sought, as
sought all Flaubert's personages, and indeed, less consciously on their
creator's part, Gaultier claims, the great figures in all fiction. But
sometimes I ask myself whether there is not in Nature herself a touch of
Madame Bovary.

There is, however, this difference in the Bovarism of Nature's most
exquisite moments. They seem other than they are not by seeming more than
they are but by seeming less. It is by the attenuation of the medium, by
an approach to obscurity, by an approximation to the faintness of a dream,
that Beauty is manifested. I recall the Greek head of a girl once shown at
the Burlington Fine Arts Club,--over which Rodin, who chanced to see it
there, grew rapturous,--and it seemed to be without substance or weight
and almost transparent. "Las Meninas" scarcely seems to me a painting made
out of solid pigments laid on to a material canvas, but rather a magically
evoked vision that at any moment may tremble and pass out of sight. And
when I awoke in the dawn a while ago, and saw a vase of tulips on the
background of the drawn curtain over a window before me, the scene was so
interpenetrated by the soft and diffused light that it seemed altogether
purged of matter and nothing but mere Loveliness remained. There are
flowers the horticulturist delights to develop which no longer look like
living and complex organisms, but only gay fragments of crinkled
tissue-paper cut at random by the swift hand of a happy artist. James
Hinton would be swept by emotion as he listened to some passage in Mozart.
"And yet," he would say, "there is nothing in it." Blake said much the
same of the drawings of Duerer. Even the Universe is perhaps built on the
same plan. "In all probability matter is composed mainly of holes," said
Sir J.J. Thomson a few years ago; and almost at the same moment Poincare
was declaring that "there is no such thing as matter, there is only holes
in the ether." The World is made out of Nothing, and all Supernal Beauty
would seem to be an approach to the Divine Mystery of Nothingness. "Clay
is fashioned, and thereby the pot is made; but it is its hollowness that
makes it useful," said the first and greatest of the Mystics. "By cutting
out doors and windows the room is formed; it is the space which makes the
room's use. So that when things are useful it is that in them which is
Nothing which makes them useful." Use is the symbol of Beauty, and it is
through the doors and the windows of Beautiful Things that their Beauty
emerges.--Man himself, "the Beauty of the World," emerges on the world
through the door of a Beautiful Thing.

_June_ 5.--"A French gentleman, well acquainted with the constitution of
his country, told me above eight years since that France increased so
rapidly in peace that they must necessarily have a war every twelve or
fourteen years to carry off the refuse of the people." So Thicknesse wrote
in 1776, and he seems to have accepted the statement as unimpeachable.
Indeed, he lived long enough to see the beginning of the deadliest wars in
which France ever engaged. The French were then the most military people
in Europe. Now they are the leaders in the great modern civilising
movement of Anti-Militarism. To what predominant influence are we to
attribute that movement? To Christianity? Most certainly not. To
Humanitarianism? There is not the slightest reason to believe it. The
ultimate and fundamental ground on which the most civilised nations of
to-day are becoming Anti-militant, and why France is at the head of them,
is--there can be no reasonable doubt--the Decline in the Birth-rate. Men
are no longer cheap enough to be used as food for cannon. If their rulers
fail to realise that, it will be the worse for those rulers. The people of
the nations are growing resolved that they will no longer be treated as
"Refuse." The real refuse, they are beginning to believe, already ripe for
destruction, are those Obscurantists who set their backs to Civilisation
and Humanity, and clamour for a return of that ill-fated recklessness in
procreation from which the world suffered so long, the ancient motto,
"Increase and multiply,"--never meant for use in our modern world,--still
clinging so firmly to the dry walls of their ancient skulls that nothing
will ever scrape it off. The best that can be said for them is that they
know not what they talk of.

It is really a very good excuse and may serve to save them from the bloody
fate they are so eager to send others to. They are entitled to contend
that it holds good even of the wisest. For who knows what he talks about
when he talks of even the simplest things in the world, the sky or the
sunshine or the water?

_June_ 15.--Am I indeed so unreasonable to care so much whether the sun
shines? The very world, to our human eyes, seems to care. It only bursts
into life, it only bursts even into the semblance of life, when the sun
shines. All this anti-cyclonic day the sky has been cloudless, and for
three hours on the sea the wavelets have been breaking into sudden flashes
and spires of silver flower-like flames, while on the reflecting waters
afar it has seemed as though a myriad argent swallows were escorting me to
the coasts of France.

In the evening, in Paris, the glory of the day has still left a long
delicious echo in the air and on the sky. I wander along the quays, and by
a sudden inspiration go to seek out the philosophic hermit of the Rue des
Saints Peres, but even he is not at home to-night, so up and down the
silent quays I wander, aimlessly and joyously, to inhale the fragrance of
Paris and the loveliness of the night, before I leave in the morning for

_June_ 19.--As I entered Santa Maria del Mar this morning by the north
door, and glanced along the walls under the particular illumination of the
moment (for in these Spanish churches of subdued light the varying
surprises of illumination are endless), there flashed on me a new swift
realisation of an old familiar fact. How mediaeval it is! Those grey walls
and the ancient sacred objects disposed on them with a strange irregular
harmony, they seem to be as mediaeval hands left them yesterday. And
indeed every aspect of this church--which to me has always been romantic
and beautiful--can scarcely have undergone any substantial change. Even
the worshippers must have changed but little, for this is the church of
the workers, and the Spanish woman's workaday costume bears little mark of
any specific century. If Cervantes were to return to this
district--perhaps to this district alone--of the city he loved it is hard
to see what he would note afresh, save the results of natural decay and
the shifting of the social centre of gravity.

Whenever I enter an old Spanish church, in the south or in the north,
still intact in its material details, in the observance of its traditions,
in its antique grandiosity or loveliness, nearly always there is a latent
fear at my heart. Who knows how long these things will be left on the
earth? Even if they escape the dangers due to the ignorance or
carelessness of their own guardians, no one knows what swift destruction
may not at any moment overtake them.

In the leading article of the Barcelonese _Diluvio_ to-day I read:

The unity which marked the Middle Ages is broken into an infinite
variety of opinions and beliefs.

Everywhere else, however, except in our country, there has been
formed a gradation, a rhythm, of ideas, passing from the highest to
the deepest notes of the scale. There are radicals in politics, in
religion, in philosophy; there are also reactionaries in all these
fields; but it is the intermediate notes, conciliatory, more or less
eclectic, which constitute the nucleus on which every society must
depend. In Spain this central nucleus has no existence. Here in all
orders of thought there are only the two extremes: _all or

And the article concludes by saying that this state of things is so
threatening to the nation that some pessimists are already standing, watch
in hand, to count the moments of Spain's existence.

This tendency of the Spanish spirit, which there can be little doubt
about, may not threaten the existence of Spain, but it threatens the
existence of the last great fortress of mediaeval splendour and beauty and
romance. France, the chosen land of Saintliness and Catholicism, has been
swept clear of mediaevalism. England, even though it is the chosen land of
Compromise, has in the sphere of religion witnessed destructive
revolutions and counter-revolutions. What can save the Church in Spain
from perishing by that sword of Intolerance which it has itself forged?

_June_ 20.--In a side-chapel there is a large and tall Virgin, with
seemingly closed eyes, a serene and gracious personage. Before this image
of the Virgin Mother kneels a young girl, devoutly no doubt, though with a
certain careless familiarity, with her dark hair down, and on her head the
little transparent piece of lace which the Spanish woman, even the
smallest Spanish girl-child, unlike the free-spirited Frenchwoman, never
fails to adjust as she enters a church.

I have no sympathy with those who look on the Bible as an outworn book and
the Church as an institution whose symbols are empty of meaning. It is a
good thing that, somewhere amid our social order or disorder, the Mother
whose child has no father save God should be regarded as an object of
worship. It would be as well to maintain the symbol of that worship until
we have really incorporated it into our hearts and are prepared in our
daily life to worship the Mother whose child has no known father save God.
It is not the final stage in family evolution, certainly, but a step in
the right direction. So let us be thankful to the Bible for stating it so
divinely and keeping it before our eyes in such splendid imagery.

The official guardians of the Bible have always felt it to be a dangerous
book, to be concealed, as the Jews concealed their sacred things in the
ark. When after many centuries they could no longer maintain the policy of
concealing it in a foreign tongue which few could understand, a brilliant
idea occurred to them. They flung the Bible in the vulgar tongue in
millions of copies at the heads of the masses. And they dared them to
understand it! This audacity has been justified by the results. A sublime
faith in Human Imbecility has seldom led those who cherish it astray.

No wonder they feel so holy a horror of Eugenics!

_June_ 22.--I can see, across the narrow side-street, that a room nearly
opposite the windows of my room at the hotel is occupied by tailors,
possibly a family of them--two men, two women, two girls. They seem to be
always at work, from about eight in the morning until late in the evening;
even Sunday seems to make only a little difference, for to-day is Sunday,
and they have been at work until half-past seven. They sit, always in the
same places, round a table, near the large French windows which are
constantly kept open. At the earliest sign of dusk the electric light
suspended over the table shines out. They rarely glance through the
window, though certainly there is little to see, and I am not sure that
they go away for meals; I sometimes see them munching a roll, and the
Catalan water-pot is always at hand to drink from. If it were not that I
know how the Catalan can live by night as well as by day, I should say
that this little group can know nothing whatever of the vast and
variegated Barcelonese world in whose heart they live, that it is nothing
to them that all last night Barcelona was celebrating St. John's Eve (now
becoming a movable festival in the cities) with bonfires and illuminations
and festivities of every kind, or that at the very same moment in this
same city the soldiery were shooting down the people who never cease to
protest against the war in Morocco. They are mostly good-looking, neatly
dressed, cheerful, animated; they talk and gesticulate; they even play,
the men and the girls battering each other for a few moments with any
harmless weapons that come to hand. They are always at work, yet it is
clear that they have not adopted the heresy that man was made for work.

I am reminded of another workroom I once overlooked in a London suburb
where three men tailors worked from very early till late. But that was a
very different spectacle. They were careworn, sordid, carelessly
half-dressed creatures, and they worked with ferocity, without speaking,
with the monotonous routine of machines at high pressure. They were tragic
in the fury of their absorption in their work. They might have been the
Fates spinning the destinies of the world.

A marvellous thing how pliant the human animal is to work! Certainly it is
no Gospel of Work that the world needs. It has ever been the great concern
of the lawgivers of mankind, not to ordain work, but, as we see so
interestingly in the Mosaic Codes, to enjoin holidays from work.

_June_ 23.--At a little station on the Catalonian-Pyrenean line near Vich
a rather thin, worn-looking young woman alighted from the second-class
carriage next to mine, and was greeted by a stout matronly woman and a
plump young girl with beaming face. These two were clearly mother and
daughter, and I suppose that the careworn new-comer from the city, though
it was less obviously so, was an elder daughter. The two women greeted
each other with scarcely a word, but they stood close together for a few
moments, and slight but visible waves of emotion ran sympathetically down
their bodies. Then the elder woman tenderly placed her arm beneath the
other's, and they walked slowly away, while the radiant girl, on the other
side of the new-comer, lovingly gave a straightening little tug to the
back of her jacket, as though it needed it.

One sets out for a new expedition into the world always with a concealed
unexpressed hope that one will see something new. But in our little
European world one never sees anything new. There is merely a little
difference in the emotions, a little finer or a little coarser, a little
more open or a little more restrained, a little more or a little less
charm in the expression of them. But they are everywhere just the same
human emotions manifested in substantially the same ways.

It is not indeed always quite the same outside Europe. It is not the same
in Morocco. I always remember how I never grew tired of watching the Moors
in even the smallest operation of their daily life. For it always seemed
that their actions, their commonest actions, were set to a rhythm which to
a European was new and strange. Therefore it was infinitely fascinating.

_June_ 24.--St. John's Eve was celebrated here in Ripoll on the correct,
or, as the Catalans call it, the classical, date last night. The little
market-place was full of animation. (The church, I may note, stands in the
middle of the Plaza, and the market is held in the primitive way all round
the church, the market-women's stalls clinging close to its walls.) Here
for hours, and no doubt long after I had gone to bed, the grave, sweet
Catalan girls were dancing with their young men, in couples or in circles,
and later I was awakened by the singing of Catalan songs which reminded me
a little of Cornish carols. The Catalan girls, up in these Pyrenean
heights, are perhaps more often seriously beautiful than in Barcelona,
though here, too, they are well endowed with the substantial, homely,
good-humoured Catalan graces. But here they do their hair straight and low
on the brows on each side and fasten it in knots near the nape of the
neck, so they have an air of distinction which sometimes recalls the
Florentine women of Ghirlandajo's or Botticelli's portraits. The solar
festival of St. John's Eve is perhaps the most ancient in our European
world, but even in this remote corner of it the dances seem to have lost
all recognised connection with the bonfires, which in Barcelona are mostly
left to the children. This dancing is just human, popular dancing to the
accompaniment, sad to tell, of a mechanical piano. Yet even as such it is
attractive, and I lingered around it. For I am English, very English, and
I spend much of my time in London, where dancing in the street is treated
by the police as "disorderly conduct." For only the day before I left a
London magistrate admonished a man and woman placed in the dock before him
for this heinous offence of dancing in the street, which gave so much
pleasure to my Catalan youths and maidens all last night: "This is not a
country in which people can afford to be jovial. You must cultivate a
spirit of melancholy if you want to be safe. Go away and be as sad as you

_June_ 25.--Up here on the solitary mountain side, with Ripoll and its
swirling, roaring river and many bridges below me, I realise better the
admirable position of this ancient monastery city, so admirable that even
to-day Ripoll is a flourishing little town. The river has here formed a
flat, though further on it enters a narrow gorge, and the mountains open
out into an amphitheatre. It is, one sees, on a large and magnificent
scale, precisely the site which always commended itself to the monks of
old, and not least to the Benedictines when they chose the country for
their houses instead of the town, and here, indeed, they were at the
outset far away from any great centre of human habitation. Founded,
according to the Chronicles, in the ninth century by Wilfred the Shaggy,
the first independent Count of Barcelona, one suspects that the selection
of the spot was less, an original inspiration of the Shaggy Count's than
put into his head by astute monks, who have modestly refrained from
mentioning their own part in the transaction. In any case they flourished,
and a century later, when Montserrat had been devastated by the Moors, it
was restored and repeopled by monks from Ripoll. In their own house they
were greatly active. There is the huge monastery of which so much still
remains, not a beautiful erection, scarcely even interesting for the most
part, massive, orderly, excessively bare, but with two features which will
ever make it notable; its Romanesque cloisters with the highly variegated
capitals, and the sculptured western portal. This is regarded as one of
the earliest works of sculpture in Spain, and certainly it has some very
primitive, one may even say Iberian, traits, for the large _toro_-like
animals recall Iberian sculpture. Yet it is a great work, largely and
systematically planned, full of imaginative variety; at innumerable points
it anticipates what the later more accomplished Gothic sculptors were to
achieve, and I suspect, indeed, that much of its apparent lack of
executive skill is due to wearing away of the rather soft stone the
sculptors used. In the capitals of the cloisters--certainly much later--a
peculiarly hard stone has been chosen, and, notwithstanding, the precision
and expressive vigour of these artists is clearly shown. But the great
portal, a stupendous work of art, as we still dimly perceive it to be,
wrought nearly a thousand years ago in this sheltered nook of the
Pyrenees, lingers in the memory. Also, like so many other things in the
far Past, its crumbling outlines scatter much ancient dust over what we
vainly call Modern Progress.

_June_ 26.--Every supposed improvement in methods of travelling seems to
me to sacrifice more than it gains; it gains speed, but it sacrifices
nearly everything else, even comfort. Yet, I fear, there is a certain
unreality in one's lamentations over the decay of the ancient methods; one
is still borne on the stream. I have long wanted to cross the Pyrenees,
and certainly I should prefer to cross them leisurely, as Thicknesse would
have done (had he not preferred to elude them by the easier and beaten
road), in one's own carriage. But, failing that, surely I ought to have
walked, or, at least, to have travelled by the diligence. Yet I cannot
escape the contagious disease of Modernity, and I choose to be whirled
through the most delicious and restful scenery in the world, at the most
perfect moment of the year, in three hours (including the interval for
lunch) in a motor 'bus, while any stray passengers on the road, as by
common accord, plant themselves on the further side of the nearest big
tree until our fearsome engine of modernity has safely passed. It is an
adventure I scarcely feel proud of.

Yet even this hurried whirl has not been too swift to leave memories which
will linger long and exquisitely, among far other scenes, even with a
sense of abiding peace. How often shall I recall the exhilaration of this
clear, soft air of the mountains, touched towards the summits by the icy
breath of the snow, these glimpses of swift streams and sudden cascades,
the scent of the pine forests, the intense flame of full-flowered broom,
and perhaps more than all, the trees, as large as almond trees, of richly
blossomed wild roses now fully out, white roses and pink roses, which
abound along these winding roads among the mountains. Where else can there
be such wild rose trees?

_June_ 27.--It is, I suppose, more than twenty years since I stopped at
Perpignan for the night, on the eve of first entering Spain, and pushed
open in the twilight the little door of the Cathedral, and knew with
sudden deep satisfaction the beauty and originality of Catalonian
architecture. The city of Perpignan has emerged into vigorous modern life
since then, but the Cathedral remains the same and still calls me with the
same voice. It seems but yesterday that I entered it. And there, at the
same spot, in the second northern bay, the same little lamp is still
twinkling, each faint throb seemingly the last, as in memory it has
twinkled for twenty years.

_June_ 28.--Nowhere, it is said, are the offices of the Church more
magnificently presented than in Barcelona. However this may be, I nowhere
feel so much as in Spain that whatever may happen to Christianity it is
essential that the ancient traditions of the Mass should be preserved, and
the churches of Catholicism continue to be the arena of such Sacred Operas
as the Mass, their supreme and classic type.

I do not assert that it need necessarily be maintained as a Religious
Office. There are serious objections to the attempt at divine officiation
by those who have no conviction of their own Divine Office. There are
surely sufficient persons, even in pessimistic and agnostic Spain, to
carry on the Mass in sincerity for a long time to come. When sincerity
failed, I would hold that the Mass as an act of religion had come to an

It would remain as Art. As Art, as the embodied summary of a great ancient
tradition, a supreme moment in the spiritual history of the world, the
Mass would retain its vitality as surely as Dante's _Divine Comedy_
retains its vitality, even though the stage of that Comedy has no more
reality for most modern readers than the stage of Punch and Judy. So it is
here. The Play of the Mass has been wrought through centuries out of the
finest intuitions, the loftiest aspirations, of a long succession of the
most sensitively spiritual men of their time. Its external shell of
superstition may fall away. But when that happens the play will gain
rather than lose. It will become clearly visible as the Divine Drama it
is, the embodied presentation of the Soul's Great Adventure, the symbolic
Initiation of the Individual into the Spiritual Life of the World.

It is not only for the perpetuation of the traditions of the recognised
Sacred Offices that Churches such as the Spanish churches continue to
constitute the ideal stage. Secular drama arises out of sacred drama, and
at its most superb moments (as we see, earlier than Christianity, in the
_Bacchae_, the final achievement of the mature art of Euripides) it still
remains infused with the old sacred spirit and even the old sacred forms,
for which the Church remains the only fitting background. It might
possibly be so for _Parsifal_. Of all operas since _Parsifal_ that I have
seen, the _Ariane et Barbe Bleue_ of Dukas and Maeterlinck seems to me the
most beautiful, the most exalted in conception, the most finely symbolic,
and surely of all modern operas it is that in which the ideas and the
words, the music, the stage pictures, are wrought with finest artistry
into one harmonious whole. It seems to me that the emotions aroused by
such an Opera as _Ariane_ could only be fittingly
expressed--unecclesiastical as Blue Beard's character may appear--in the
frame of one of these old Catalonian churches. The unique possibilities of
the church for dramatic art constitute one of the reasons why I shudder at
the thought that these wonderful and fascinating buildings may some day be
swept of their beauty and even torn down.

_June_ 29.--I have always felt a certain antipathy--unreasonable, no
doubt--to Brittany, and never experienced any impulse to enter it. Now
that I have done so the chances of my route have placed my entry at
Nantes, where the contact of neighbouring provinces may well have modified
the Breton characteristics. Yet they seem to me quite pronounced, and
scarcely affected even by the vigorous and mercantile activity of this
large city. A large and busy city, and yet I feel that I am among a people
who are, ineradically, provincial peasants, men and women of a temper
impervious to civilisation. Here too are those symbols of peasantry, the
white caps of endless shape and fashion which seem to exert such an
attraction on the sentimental English mind. Yet they are not by any means
beautiful. And what terrible faces they enfold--battered, shapeless,
featureless faces that may have been tossed among granite rocks but seem
never to have been moulded by human intercourse. The young girls are often
rather pretty, sometimes coquettish, with occasionally a touch of careless
abandonment which reminds one of England rather than of France. But the
old women--one can scarcely believe that these tragic, narrow-eyed,
narrow-spirited old women are next neighbours to the handsome, jovial old
women of Normandy. And the old men, to an extent that surely is seldom
found, are the exact counterparts of the old women, with just the same
passive, battered, pathetic figures. (I recall the remark of an English
friend who has lived much in Brittany, that these people look as though
they were still living under the Ancient Regime.) I know I shall never
forget the congregation that I saw gathered together in the Cathedral at
High Mass this Sunday morning, largely made up of these poor old decayed
abortions of humanity, all moved by the most intense and absorbed

There is something gay and open about this Cathedral. The whole ritual is
clear to view; there is a lavish display of scarlet in the choir
upholstery; the music is singularly swift and cheerful; the whole tone of
the place is bright and joyous. One cannot but realise how perfectly such
a worship is adapted to such worshippers. Surely an accomplished
ecclesiastical art and insight have been at work here. We seem to see a
people scarcely made for this world, and sunk in ruts of sorrow, below the
level of humanity, where no hope is visible but the sky. And here is their
sky! How can it be but that they should embrace the vision with a fervour
surely unparalleled in Christendom outside Russia.

_July_ 4.--Feeble little scraps of reproduction of the Bayeux Tapestry
have been familiar to me since I was a child. Yet until to-day I entered
the room opposite the Cathedral where it has lately been simply but
fittingly housed, I never imagined, and no one had ever told me, how
splendid a work of art it is. Nothing could be more unpretentious, more
domestic in a sense, with almost the air of our grandmothers' samplers,
than this long strip of embroidered canvas, still so fresh in its colours
that it might have been finished, if indeed it is finished, yesterday. It
is technically crude, childishly conventionalised, wrought with an
enforced economy of means. Yet how superbly direct and bold in the
presentation of the narrative, in the realism of the essential details, in
all this marshalling of ships and horses and men, in this tragic
multiplication of death on the battlefield. One feels behind it the fine
and free energy of a creative spirit. It is one of our great European
masterpieces of art, a glory alike for Normans and for English. It is
among the things that once known must live in one's mind to recur to
memory with a thrill of exhilaration. There is in it the spirit of another
great Norman work of art, the _Chanson de Roland_; there is even in it the
spirit of Homer, or the spirit of Flaubert, "the French Homer," as
Gourmont has called him, who lived and worked so few miles away from this
city of Bayeux.

_July_ 9.--Now that I have again crossed Normandy, this time from the
south-west, I see the old puzzle of the architectural quality of the
Norman from a new aspect. Certainly the Normans seem to have had a native
impulse to make large, strong, bold buildings. But the aesthetic qualities
of these buildings seem sometimes to me a little doubtful. Surely
Coutances must lie in a thoroughly Norman district; it possesses three
great churches, of which St. Nicolas pleases me most; the Cathedral, even
in its strength and originality, makes no strong appeal to me. I find more
that is attractive in Bayeux Cathedral, which is a stage nearer to the
Seine. And I have asked myself this time whether the architectural
phenomena of Normandy may not be explained precisely by this presence of
the Seine, running right through the middle of it, and of its capital
city, Rouen, which is also its great architectural centre. What is
architecturally of the first quality in Normandy and the neighbouring
provinces seems to me now to lie on the Seine, or within some fifty miles
of its banks. That would include Bayeux and Chartres to the south, as well
as Amiens and Beauvais to the north. So I ask myself whether what we see
in this region may not be the result of the great highway passing through
it. Have we not here, perhaps, action and reaction between the massive
constructional spirit of Normandy and the exquisite inventive aesthetic
spirit of the Ile de France?

_July_ 12.--Certainly June, at all events as I have known it this year, is
the ideal month for rambling through Europe. Here along the Norman coast,
indeed, at Avranches and Fecamp, one encounters a damp cloudiness to
remind one that England is almost within sight. Yet during a month in
Spain and in France, in the Pyrenees and in Normandy, it has never been
too hot or too cold, during the whole time I have scarcely so much as seen
rain. Everywhere my journey has been an endless procession of summer
pageantry, of greenery that is always fresh, of flowers that have just
reached their hour of brilliant expansion. "To travel is to die
continually"; and I have had occasion to realise the truth of the saying
during the past few weeks. But I shall not soon forget the joy of this
wild profusion of flowers scattered all along my path, for two thousand
miles--the roses and lilies, the broom and the poppies.

_July_ 18.--When one considers that Irony which seems so prevailing a note
of human affairs, if we choose to regard human affairs from the
theological standpoint, it is interesting to remember that the most
pronounced intellectual characteristic of Jesus, whom the instinct of the
populace recognised as the Incarnation of God, was, in the wider sense, a
ferocious Irony. God is Love, said St. John. The popular mind seems to
have had an obscure conviction that God is Irony. And it is in his own
image, let us remember, that Man creates God.

_July_ 29.--In his essay on "The Comparative Anatomy of Angels," Fechner,
the father of experimental psychology, argued that angels can have no
legs. For if we go far down in the animal scale we find that centipedes
have God knows how many legs; then come butterflies and beetles with six,
and then mammals with four; then come birds, which resemble angels by
their free movement through space, and man, who by his own account is half
an angel, with only two legs; in the final step to the angelic state of
spherical perfection the remaining pair of legs must finally disappear.
(Indeed, Origen is said to have believed that the Resurrection body would
be spherical.)

One is reminded of Fechner's playful satire by the spectacle of those
poets who ape angelic modes of progression. The poet who desires to
achieve the music of the spheres may impart to his movement the planetary
impulse if he can suggest to our ears the illusion of the swift rush of
rustling wings, but he must never forget that in reality he still
possesses legs, and that these legs have to be accounted for, and reckoned
in the constitution of metre. Every poet must still move with feet, feet
that must be exquisitely sensitive to the earth's touch, impeccably
skilful to encounter every obstacle on the way with the joyous flashing of
his feet. The most splendidly angelic inspirations will not suffice to
compensate the poet for feet that draggle in the mud, or stumble
higgledy-piggledy among stony words, which his toes should have kissed
into jewels.

We find this well illustrated in a quite genuine poet whose biography has
just been published. In some poems of Francis Thompson we see that the
poet seeks to fling himself into a planetary course, forgetting, and
hoping to hypnotise his readers into forgetting, that the poet has feet.
He thereby takes his place in the group which Matthew Arnold termed that
of Ineffectual Angels. Arnold, it is true, a pedagogue rather than a
critic, invented this name for Shelley, whom it scarcely fits. For
Shelley, whose feet almost keep pace with his wings, more nearly belongs
to the Effectual Angels.

_August_ 3.--In our modern life an immense stress is placed on the value
of Morality. Very little stress is placed on the value of Immorality. I do
not, of course, use the words "Morality" and "Immorality" in any
question-begging way as synonymous of "goodness" and of "badness," but,
technically, as names for two different sorts of socially-determined
impulses. Morality covers those impulses, of a more communal character,
which conform to the standards of action openly accepted at a given time
and place; Immorality stands for those impulses, of a more individual
character, which fail so to conform. Morality is, more concisely, the
_mores_ of the moment; Immorality is the _mores_ of some other moment, it
may be a better, it may be a worse moment. Every nonconformist action is
immoral, but whether it is thereby good, bad, or indifferent remains
another question. Jesus was immoral; so also was Barabbas.

The more one knows of the real lives of people the more one perceives how
large a part of them is lived in the sphere of Immorality and how vitally
important that part is. It is not the part shown to the world, the
mechanism of its activities remains hidden. Yet those activities are so
intimate and so potent that in a large proportion of cases it is in their
sphere that we must seek the true motive force of the man or woman, who
may be a most excellent person, one who lays, indeed, emphatically and
honestly, the greatest stress on the value of the impulses of Morality.
"The passions are the winds which fill the sails of the vessel," said the
hermit to Zadig, and Spinoza had already said the same thing in other
words. The passions are by their nature Immoralities. To Morality is left
the impulses which guide the rudder, of little value when no winds blow.

Thus to emphasise the value of Immorality is not to diminish the value of
Morality. They are both alike necessary. ("Everything is dangerous here
below, and everything is necessary.") There should be no call on us to
place the stress on one side at the expense of the other side. When
Carducci, with thoughts directed on the intellectual history of humanity,
wrote his hymn to Satan, it was as the symbol of the revolutionary power
of reason that he sang the triumph of Satan over Jehovah. But no such
triumph of Immorality over Morality can be foreseen or desired. When we
place ourselves at the high biological standpoint we see the vital
necessity of each. It is necessary to place the stress on both.

If we ask ourselves why at the present moment the sphere of Morality seems
to have acquired, not in actual life, but in popular esteem, an undue
prominence over the sphere of Immorality, we may see various tendencies at
work, and perhaps not uninfluentially the decay of Christianity. For
Religion has always been the foe of Morality, and has always had a sneer
for "mere Morality." Religion stands for the Individual as Morality stands
for Society. Religion is the champion of Grace; it pours contempt on
"Law," the stronghold of Morality, even annuls it. The Pauline and
pseudo-Pauline Epistles are inexhaustible on this theme. The Catholic
Church with its Absolution and its Indulgences could always override
Morality, and Protestantism, for all its hatred of Absolution and of
Indulgences, by the aid of Faith and of Grace easily maintained exactly
the same conquest over Morality. So the decay of Christianity is the fall
of the Sublime Guardian of Immorality.

One may well ask oneself whether it is not a pressing need of our time to
see to it that these two great and seemingly opposed impulses are
maintained in harmonious balance, by their vital tension to further those
Higher Ends of Life to which Morality and Immorality alike must be held in
due subjection.

_August 18_.--How marvellous is the Humility of Man! I find it illustrated
in nothing so much as in his treatment of his Idols and Gods. With a
charming irony the so-called "Second Isaiah" described how the craftsman
deals with mere ordinary wood or stone which he puts to the basest
purposes; "and the residue thereof he maketh a God." One wonders whether
Isaiah ever realised that he himself was the fellow of that craftsman. He
also had moulded his Jehovah out of the residue of his own ordinary
emotions and ideas. But that application of his own irony probably never
occurred to Isaiah, and if it had he was too wise a prophet to mention it.

Man makes his God and places Him, with nothing to rest on, in a Chaos, and
imposes on Him the task of introducing life and order, everything indeed,
out of His own Divine Brains. To the savage theologian and his more
civilised successors that seems an intelligent theory of the Universe.
They fail to see that they have merely removed an inevitable difficulty a
stage further back. (And we can understand the reply of the irritable
old-world theologian to one who asked what God was doing before the
creation: "He was making rods for the backs of fools.") For the Evolution
of a Creator is no easier a problem than the Evolution of a Cosmos.

The theologians, with their ineradicable anthropomorphic conceptions, have
never been able to see how stupendous an anachronism they committed
(without even taking the trouble to analyse Time) when they placed God
prior to His Created Universe in the void and formless Nebula. Such a God
would not have been worth the mist He was made of.

It is only when we place God at the End, not at the Beginning, that the
Universe falls into order. God is an Unutterable Sigh in the Human Heart,
said the old German mystic. And therewith said the last word.

_August 21_.--Is not a certain aloofness essential to our vision of the
Heaven of Art?

As I write I glance up from time to time at the open door of a
schoolhouse, and am aware of a dim harmony of soft, rich, deep colour and
atmosphere framed by the doorway and momentarily falling into a balanced
composition, purified of details by obscurity, the semblance of a
Velasquez. Doors and windows and gateways vouchsafe to us perpetually the
vision of a beauty apparently remote from the sphere of our sorrow, and
the impression of a room as we gaze into it from without through the
window is more beautiful than when we move within it. Every picture, the
creation of the artist's eye and hand, is a vision seen through a window.

It is the delight of mirrors that they give something of the same
impression as I receive from the schoolhouse doorway. In music-halls, and
restaurants, and other places where large mirrors hang on the walls, we
may constantly be entranced by the lovely and shifting pictures of the
commonplace things which they chance to frame. In the atmosphere of
mirrors there always seems to be a depth and tone which eludes us in the
actual direct vision. Mirrors cut off sections of the commonplace real
world, and hold them aloof from us in a sphere of beauty. From the days of
the Greeks and Etruscans to the days of Henri de Regnier a peculiar
suggestion of aesthetic loveliness has thus always adhered to the mirror.
The most miraculous of pictures created by man, "Las Meninas," resembles
nothing so much as the vision momentarily floated on a mirror. In this
world we see "as in a glass darkly," said St. Paul, and he might have
added that in so seeing we see more and more beautifully than we can ever
hope to see "face to face."

There is sometimes even more deliciously the same kind of lovely
attraction in the reflection of lakes and canals, and languid rivers and
the pools of fountains. Here reality is mirrored so faintly and
tremulously, so brokenly, so as it seems evanescently, that the simplest
things may be purged and refined into suggestions of exquisite beauty.
Again and again some scene of scarcely more than commonplace charm--seen
from some bridge at Thetford, or by some canal at Delft, some pond in
Moscow--imprints itself on the memory for ever, because one chances to see
it under the accident of fit circumstance reflected in the water.

Still more mysterious, still more elusive, still more remote are the
glorious visions of the external world which we may catch in a polished
copper bowl, as in crystals and jewels and the human eye. Well might Boehme
among the polished pots of his kitchen receive intimation of the secret
light of the Universe.

In a certain sense there is more in the tremulously faint and far
reflection of a thing than there is in the thing itself. The dog who
preferred the reflection of his bone in the water to the bone itself,
though from a practical point of view he made a lamentable mistake, was
aesthetically justified. No "orb," as Tennyson said, is a "perfect star"
while we walk therein. Aloofness is essential to the Beatific Vision. If
we entered its portals Heaven would no longer be Heaven.

_August_ 23.--I never grow weary of the endless charm of English parish
churches. The more one sees of them the more one realises what fresh,
delightful surprises they hold. Nothing else in England betrays so well
the curious individuality, the fascinating tendency to incipient
eccentricity, which marks the English genius. Certainly there are few
English churches one can place beside some of the more noble and
exquisitely beautiful French churches, such a church, for instance, as
that of Caudebec on the Seine. But one will nowhere find such a series of
variously delightful churches springing out of concretely diversified

Here at Maldon I enter the parish church in the centre of the town, and
find that the tower, which appears outside, so far as one is able to view
it, of the normal four-sided shape, is really triangular; and when in the
nave one faces west, this peculiarity imparts an adventurous sense of
novelty to the church, a delicious and mysterious surprise one could not
anticipate, nor even realise, until one had seen.

Individuality is as common in the world as ever it was, and as precious.
But its accepted manifestations become ever rarer. What architect to-day
would venture to design a triangular-towered church, and what Committee
would accept it? No doubt they would all find excellent reasons against
such a tower. But those reasons existed five hundred years ago. Yet the
men of Maldon built this tower, and it has set for ever the seal of unique
charm upon their church.

The heel of Modern Man is struck down very firmly on Individuality, and
not in human life only, but also in Nature. Hahn in his summary survey of
the North American fauna and flora comes to the conclusion that their
aspect is becoming ever tamer and more commonplace, because all the
animals and plants that are rare or bizarre or beautiful are being
sedulously destroyed by Man's devastating hand. There is nothing we have
to fight for more strenuously than Individuality. Unless, indeed, since
Man cannot inhabit the earth for ever, the growing dulness of the world
may not be a beneficent adaptation to the final extinction, and the last
man die content, thankful to leave so dreary and monotonous a scene.

_August_ 24.--A month ago I was wandering through the superb spiritual
fortress overlying a primeval pagan sanctuary, which was dreamed twelve
centuries ago in the brain of a Bishop of neighbouring Avranches, and
slowly realised by the monastic aspiration, energy, and skill of many
generations to dominate the Bay of St. Michel even now after all the monks
have passed away. And to-day I have been wandering in a very different
scene around the scanty and charming remains of the Abbey of Beeleigh,
along peaceful walks by lovely streams in this most delightful corner of
Essex, which the Premonstratensian Canons once captured, in witness of the
triumph of religion over the world and the right of the religious to enjoy
the best that the world can give.

The Premonstratensian Canons who followed the mild Augustinian rule
differed from the Benedictines, and it was not in their genius to seize
great rocks and convert them into fortresses. Their attitude was humane,
their rule not excessively ascetic; they allowed men and women to exercise
the religious life side by side in neighbouring houses; they lived in the
country but they were in familiar touch with the world. The White Canons
ruled Maldon, but they lived at Beeleigh. They appear to have been
admirable priests; the official Visitor (for they were free from Episcopal
control) could on one occasion find nothing amiss save that the Canons
wore more luxuriant hair than befitted those who bear the chastening sign
of the tonsure, and their abbots seem to have been exceptionally wise and
prudent. This sweet pastoral scenery, these slow streams with luxuriant
banks and pleasant, sheltered walks, were altogether to their taste. Here
were their fish-ponds and their mills. Here were all the luxuries of
Epicurean austerity. Even in the matter of comfort compare the cramped
dungeons, made for defence, in which the would-be lords of the world
dwelt, with the spacious democratic palaces, or the finely spaced rural
villas, with no need to think of defence, in which men led the religious
life. Compare this abbey even with Castle Hedingham a few miles away, once
the home of the great De Veres, by no means so gloomy as such castles are
wont to be, and I doubt if you would prefer it to live in; as a matter of
fact it has been little used for centuries, while Beeleigh is still a
home. Here in these rich and peaceful gardens, Abbot Epicurus of
Beeleigh--who held in his hands, at convenient arm's length, the
prosperous town of Maldon--could discourse at leisure to his girl
disciples--had there been a house of canonesses here--of the lusts and
passions that dominate the world, repletion, extravagance, disorders,
disease, warfare, and death. In reality Abbot Epicurus had captured all
the best things the world can hold and established them at Beeleigh,
leaving only the dregs. And at the same time, by a supreme master-stroke
of ironic skill, he persuaded those stupid dregs that in spurning them he
had renounced the World!

_August_ 27.--Here in the north-west of Suffolk and on into Norfolk there
is a fascinating blank in the map. Much of it was in ancient days fenland,
with, long before the dawn of history, at least one spot which was a great
civilising centre of England, and even maybe of Europe, from the abundance
and the quality of the flints here skilfully worked into implements. Now
it is simply undulating stretches of heathland, at this season freshly
breaking into flower, with many pine trees, and the most invigorating air
one can desire. Not a house sometimes for miles, not a soul maybe in sight
all day long, not (as we know of old by sad experience and are provided
accordingly) a single wayside inn within reach. Only innumerable rabbits
who help to dig out the worked flints one may easily find--broken,
imperfect, for the most part no doubt discarded--and rare solitary herons,
silent and motionless, with long legs and great bills, and unfamiliar
flowers, and gorgeous butterflies. Here, on a bank of heather and thyme,
we spread our simple and delicious meal.

Do not ask the way to this ancient centre of civilisation, even by its
modern and misleading name, even at the nearest cottage. They cannot tell
you, and have not so much as heard of it. Yet it may be that those
cottagers themselves are of the race of the men who were here once the
pioneers of human civilisation, for until lately the people of this
isolated region were said to be of different physical type and even of
different dress from other people. So it is, as they said of old, that the
glory of the world passes away.

_August_ 29.--Whenever, as to-day, I pass through Bury St. Edmunds or
Stowmarket or Sudbury and the neighbourhood, I experience a curious racial
home-feeling. I never saw any of these towns or took much interest in them
till I had reached middle age. Yet whenever I enter this area I realise
that its inhabitants are nearer to me in blood, and doubtless in nervous
and psychic tissue, than the people of any other area. It is true that one
may feel no special affinity to the members of one's own family group
individually. But collectively the affinity cannot fail to be impressive.
I am convinced that if a man were to associate with a group of one hundred
women (I limit the sex merely because it is in relation to the opposite
sex that a man's instinctive and unreasoned sympathies and antipathies are
most definite), this group consisting of fifty women who belonged to his
own ancestral district, and therefore his own blood, and fifty outside
that district, his sympathies would more frequently be evoked by the
members of the first group than the second, however indistinguishably they
were mingled. That harmonises with the fact that homogamy, as it is
called, predominates over heterogamy, that like is attractive to like.
Therefore, after all, the feeling I have acquired concerning this part of
Suffolk may be in part a matter of instinct.

_September_ 3.--Why is it that notwithstanding my profound admiration for
Beethoven, and the delight he frequently gives me, I yet feel so
disquieted by that master and so restively hostile to his prevailing
temper? I always seem to have a vague feeling that he is a Satan among
musicians, a fallen angel in the darkness who is perpetually seeking to
fight his way back to happiness, and to enter on the impossible task of
taking the Kingdom of Heaven by violence.

Consider the exceedingly popular Fifth Symphony. It seems to me to
represent the strenuous efforts of a man who is struggling virtuously with
adversity. It is morality rather than art (I would not say the same of the
Seventh Symphony, or of the Ninth), and the morality of a proud,
self-assertive, rather ill-bred person. I always think of Beethoven as the
man who, walking with Goethe at Weimar and meeting the Ducal Court party,
turned up his coat collar and elbowed his way through the courtiers, who
were all attention to him, while Goethe, scarcely noticed, stood aside
bowing, doubtless with an ironic smile at his heart. The Fifth Symphony is
a musical rendering of that episode. We feel all through it that
self-assertive, self-righteous little man, vigorously thrusting himself
through difficulties to the goal of success, and finely advertising his
progress over obstacles by that ever-restless drum which is the backbone
of the whole symphony. No wonder the Fifth Symphony appeals so much to our
virtuous and pushful middle-class audiences. They seem to feel in it the
glorification of "a nation of shopkeepers" who are the happy possessors of
a "Nonconformist Conscience."

It is another appeal which is made by Bach and Mozart and Schubert. They
also may be moved by suffering and sorrow. But they are never in vain
rebellion against the Universe. Their sorrow is itself at one with the
Universe, and therefore at one with its joy. Such sorrow gives wings to
the soul, it elevates and enlarges us; we are not jarred and crushed by
violent attacks on a Fortress of Joy which to such attacks must ever be an
unscaleable glacis. The Kingdom of Heaven is not taken by violence, and I
feel that in the world of music many a smaller man is nearer to the
Kingdom of Heaven than this prodigious and lamentable Titan.

_September_ 9.--As I sit basking in the sunshine on this familiar little
rocky peninsula in the centre of the bay, still almost surrounded by the
falling tide, I note a youth and a girl crossing the sands below me, where
the gulls calmly rest, to the edge of dry beach. Then she sits down and he
stands or bends tenderly over her. This continues for some time, but the
operation thus deliberately carried out, it ultimately becomes clear, is
simply that of removing her shoes and stockings. At last it is
accomplished, he raises her, swiftly harmonises his costume to hers, and
forthwith conducts her through some shallow water to an island of sand.
The deeper passage to my peninsula still remains to be forded, and the
feat requires some circumspection. In less than half an hour it will be
easy to walk across dry-shod, and time is evidently no object. But so
prosaic a proceeding is disdained by Paul and Virginia. He wades carefully
forward within reach of the rocks, flings boots, white stockings, and
other cumbersome belongings on to the lowest ledge of rock, returns to the
island, and lifts her up, supporting her body with one arm as she clasps
his neck, while with the other he slowly and anxiously feels his way with
his stout stick among the big seaweed-grown stones in the surf. I see them
clearly now, a serious bespectacled youth of some twenty--one years and a
golden--haired girl, some two or three years younger, in a clinging white
dress. The young St. Christopher at last deposits his sacred burden at the
foot of the peninsula, which they climb, to sit down on the rocks, and in
the same deliberate, happy, self-absorbed spirit complete their toilet and

I know not what relation of tender intimacy unites them, but when they
have gone their faces remain in my memory. I seem to see them thirty years
hence, that honest, faithful, straightforward face of the youth,
transformed into the rigid image of an eminently-worthy and
wholly-undistinguished citizen, and the radiant, meaningless girl a stout
and careful Mrs. Grundy with a band of children around her. Yet the memory
of to-day will still perhaps be enshrined in their hearts.

_September_ 12.--"I study you as I study the Bible," said a wise and
religious old doctor to a patient who had proved a complex and difficult
case. His study was of much benefit to her and probably to himself.

It is precisely in this spirit that the psychoanalysts, taught by the
genius of Freud, study their patients, devoting an hour a day for weeks or
months or more to the gospel before them, seeking to purge themselves of


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