The Works of Max Beerbohm
Max Beerbohm

Part 1 out of 2

This etext was prepared by Tom Weiss (
with thanks to G. Banks for proofreading.

I have transliterated the Greek passages. Here are some approximate
translations (with thanks to a nameless Radlettite and
--philomathestatoi ton neaniskon: some of the youths most eager for
--Ne^pios: childish
--hexeis apodeiktikai: things that can be proven (Aristotle, Nic.
--eido^lon amauron: shadowy phantom (phrase used by Homer in The
Odyssey to describe the specter Athena sends to comfort Penelope)
--all' aiei: but always
--tina pho^ta megan kai kalon edegmen: I received some great and
beautiful light

The Works of Max Beerbohm

by Max Beerbohm

With a Bibliography by John Lane

`Amid all he has here already achieved, full, we may
think, of the quiet assurance of what is to come,
his attitude is still that of the scholar; he
seems still to be saying, before all
things, from first to last, "I
am utterly purposed
that I will not

Dandies and Dandies
A Good Prince
King George the Fourth
The Pervasion of Rouge
Poor Romeo!

Dandies and Dandies

How very delightful Grego's drawings are! For all their mad
perspective and crude colour, they have indeed the sentiment of style,
and they reveal, with surer delicacy than does any other record, the
spirit of Mr. Brummell's day. Grego guides me, as Virgil Dante,
through all the mysteries of that other world. He shows me those
stiff-necked, over-hatted, wasp-waisted gentlemen, drinking Burgundy
in the Cafe' des Milles Colonnes or riding through the village of
Newmarket upon their fat cobs or gambling at Crockford's. Grego's
Green Room of the Opera House always delights me. The formal way in
which Mdlle. Mercandotti is standing upon one leg for the pleasure of
Lord Fife and Mr. Ball Hughes; the grave regard directed by Lord
Petersham towards that pretty little maid-a-mischief who is risking
her rouge beneath the chandelier; the unbridled decorum of Mdlle.
Hullin and the decorous debauchery of Prince Esterhazy in the
distance, make altogether a quite enchanting picture. But, of the
whole series, the most illuminative picture is certainly the Ball at
Almack's. In the foreground stand two little figures, beneath whom, on
the nether margin, are inscribed those splendid words, Beau Brummell
in Deep Conversation with the Duchess of Rutland. The Duchess is a
girl in pink, with a great wedge-comb erect among her ringlets, the
Beau tre`s de'gage', his head averse, his chin most supercilious upon
his stock, one foot advanced, the gloved fingers of one hand caught
lightly in his waistcoat; in fact, the very deuce of a pose.

In this, as in all known images of the Beau, we are struck by the
utter simplicity of his attire. The `countless rings' affected by
D'Orsay, the many little golden chains, `every one of them slighter
than a cobweb,' that Disraeli loved to insinuate from one pocket to
another of his vest, would have seemed vulgar to Mr. Brummell. For is
it not to his fine scorn of accessories that we may trace that first
aim of modern dandyism, the production of the supreme effect through
means the least extravagant? In certain congruities of dark cloth, in
the rigid perfection of his linen, in the symmetry of his glove with
his hand, lay the secret of Mr. Brummell's miracles. He was ever most
economical, most scrupulous of means. Treatment was everything with
him. Even foolish Grace and foolish Philip Wharton, in their book
about the beaux and wits of this period, speak of his dressing-room as
`a studio in which he daily composed that elaborate portrait of
himself which was to be exhibited for a few hours in the clubrooms of
the town.' Mr. Brummell was, indeed, in the utmost sense of the word,
an artist. No poet nor cook nor sculptor, ever bore that title more
worthily than he.

And really, outside his art, Mr. Brummell had a personality of almost
Balzacian insignificance. There have been dandies, like D'Orsay, who
were nearly painters; painters, like Mr. Whistler, who wished to be
dandies; dandies, like Disraeli, who afterwards followed some less
arduous calling. I fancy Mr. Brummell was a dandy, nothing but a
dandy, from his cradle to that fearful day when he lost his figure and
had to flee the country, even to that distant day when he died, a
broken exile, in the arms of two religieuses. At Eton, no boy was so
successful as he in avoiding that strict alternative of study and
athletics which we force upon our youth. He once terrified a master,
named Parker, by asserting that he thought cricket `foolish.' Another
time, after listening to a reprimand from the headmaster, he twitted
that learned man with the asymmetry of his neckcloth. Even in Oriel he
could see little charm, and was glad to leave it, at the end of his
first year, for a commission in the Tenth Hussars. Crack though the
regiment was--indeed, all the commissions were granted by the Regent
himself--young Mr. Brummell could not bear to see all his brother-
officers in clothes exactly like his own; was quite as deeply annoyed
as would be some god, suddenly entering a restaurant of many mirrors.
One day, he rode upon parade in a pale blue tunic, with silver
epaulettes. The Colonel, apologising for the narrow system which
compelled him to so painful a duty, asked him to leave the parade. The
Beau saluted, trotted back to quarters and, that afternoon, sent in
his papers. Henceforth he lived freely as a fop, in his maturity,

His de'but in the town was brilliant and delightful. Tales of his
elegance had won for him there a precedent fame. He was reputed rich.
It was known that the Regent desired his acquaintance. And thus,
Fortune speeding the wheels of his cabriolet and Fashion running to
meet him with smiles and roses in St. James's, he might well, had he
been worldly or a weakling, have yielded his soul to the polite
follies. But he passed them by. Once he was settled in his suite, he
never really strayed from his toilet-table, save for a few brief
hours. Thrice every day of the year did he dress, and three hours were
the average of his every toilet, and other hours were spent in council
with the cutter of his coats or with the custodian of his wardrobe. A
single, devoted life! To White's, to routs, to races, he went, it is
true, not reluctantly. He was known to have played battledore and
shuttlecock in a moonlit garden with Mr. Previte' and some other
gentlemen. His elopement with a young Countess from a ball at Lady
Jersey's was quite notorious. It was even whispered that he once, in
the company of some friends, made as though he would wrench the
knocker off the door of some shop. But these things he did, not, most
certainly, for any exuberant love of life. Rather did he regard them
as healthful exercise of the body and a charm against that dreaded
corpulency which, in the end, caused his downfall. Some recreation
from his work even the most strenuous artist must have; and Mr.
Brummell naturally sought his in that exalted sphere whose modish
elegance accorded best with his temperament, the sphere of le plus
beau monde. General Bucknall used to growl, from the window of the
Guards' Club, that such a fellow was only fit to associate with
tailors. But that was an old soldier's fallacy. The proper associates
of an artist are they who practise his own art rather than they who--
however honourably--do but cater for its practice. For the rest, I am
sure that Mr. Brummell was no lackey, as they have suggested. He
wished merely to be seen by those who were best qualified to
appreciate the splendour of his achievements. Shall not the painter
show his work in galleries, the poet flit down Paternoster Row? Of
rank, for its own sake, Mr. Brummell had no love. He patronised all
his patrons. Even to the Regent his attitude was always that of a
master in an art to one who is sincerely willing and anxious to learn
from him.

Indeed, English society is always ruled by a dandy, and the more
absolutely ruled the greater that dandy be. For dandyism, the perfect
flower of outward elegance, is the ideal it is always striving to
realise in its own rather incoherent way. But there is no reason why
dandyism should be confused, as it has been by nearly all writers,
with mere social life. Its contact with social life is, indeed, but
one of the accidents of an art. Its influence, like the scent of a
flower, is diffused unconsciously. It has its own aims and laws, and
knows none other. And the only person who ever fully acknowledged this
truth in aesthetics is, of all persons most unlikely, the author of
Sartor Resartus. That any one who dressed so very badly as did Thomas
Carlyle should have tried to construct a philosophy of clothes has
always seemed to me one of the most pathetic things in literature. He
in the Temple of Vestments! Why sought he to intrude, another Clodius,
upon those mysteries and light his pipe from those ardent censers?
What were his hobnails that they should mar the pavement of that
delicate Temple? Yet, for that he betrayed one secret rightly heard
there, will I pardon his sacrilege. `A dandy,' he cried through the
mask of Teufelsdro"ck, `is a clothes-wearing man, a man whose trade,
office, and existence consists in the wearing of clothes. Every
faculty of his soul, spirit, purse, and person is heroically
consecrated to this one object, the wearing of clothes wisely and
well.' Those are true words. They are, perhaps, the only true words in
Sartor Resartus. And I speak with some authority. For I found the key
to that empty book, long ago, in the lock of the author's empty
wardrobe. His hat, that is still preserved in Chelsea, formed an
important clue.

But (behold!) as we repeat the true words of Teufelsdro"ck, there
comes Monsieur Barbey D'Aurevilly, that gentle moqueur, drawling, with
a wave of his hand, `Les esprits qui ne voient pas les choses que par
leur plus petit co^te', ont imagine' que le Dandysme e'tait surtout
l'art de la mise, une heureuse et audacieuse dictature en fait de
toilette et d'e'le'gance exte'rieure. Tre`s-certainement c'est cela
aussi, mais c'est bien davantage. Le Dandysme est toute une manie`re
d'e^tre et l'on n'est pas que par la co^te' mate'riellement visible.
C'est une manie`re d'e^tre entie`rement compose'e de nuances, comme il
arrive toujours dans les socie'te's tre`s-vieilles et tre`s-
civilise'es.' It is a pleasure to argue with so suave a subtlist, and
we say to him that this comprehensive definition does not please us.
We say we think he errs.

Not that Monsieur's analysis of the dandiacal mind is worthless by any
means. Nor, when he declares that George Brummell was the supreme king
of the dandies and fut le dandysme me^me, can I but piously lay one
hand upon the brim of my hat, the other upon my heart. But it is as an
artist, and for his supremacy in the art of costume, and for all he
did to gain the recognition of costume as in itself an art, and for
that superb taste and subtle simplicity of mode whereby he was able to
expel, at length, the Byzantine spirit of exuberance which had
possessed St. James's and wherefore he is justly called the Father of
Modern Costume, that I do most deeply revere him. It is not a little
strange that Monsieur D'Aurevilly, the biographer who, in many ways,
does seem most perfectly to have understood Mr. Brummell, should
belittle to a mere phase that which was indeed the very core of his
existence. To analyse the temperament of a great artist and then to
declare that his art was but a part--a little part--of his
temperament, is a foolish proceeding. It is as though a man should say
that he finds, on analysis, that gunpowder is composed of potassium
chloride (let me say), nitrate and power of explosion. Dandyism is
ever the outcome of a carefully cultivated temperament, not part of
the temperament itself. That manie`re d'e^tre, entie`rement compose'e
de nuances, was not more, as the writer seems to have supposed, than
attributory to Mr. Brummell's art. Nor is it even peculiar to dandies.
All delicate spirits, to whatever art they turn, even if they turn to
no art, assume an oblique attitude towards life. Of all dandies, Mr.
Brummell did most steadfastly maintain this attitude. Like the single-
minded artist that he was, he turned full and square towards his art
and looked life straight in the face out of the corners of his eyes.

It is not hard to see how, in the effort to give Mr. Brummell his due
place in history, Monsieur D'Aurevilly came to grief. It is but
strange that he should have fallen into a rather obvious trap. Surely
he should have perceived that, so long as Civilisation compels her
children to wear clothes, the thoughtless multitude will never
acknowledge dandyism to be an art. If considerations of modesty or
hygiene compelled every one to stain canvas or chip marble every
morning, painting and sculpture would in like manner be despised. Now,
as these considerations do compel every one to envelop himself in
things made of cloth and linen, this common duty is confounded with
that fair procedure, elaborate of many thoughts, in whose accord the
fop accomplishes his toilet, each morning afresh, Aurora speeding on
to gild his mirror. Not until nudity be popular will the art of
costume be really acknowledged. Nor even then will it be approved.
Communities are ever jealous (quite naturally) of the artist who works
for his own pleasure, not for theirs--more jealous by far of him whose
energy is spent only upon the glorification of himself alone. Carlyle
speaks of dandyism as a survival of `the primeval superstition, self-
worship.' `La vanite',' are almost the first words of Monsieur
D'Aurevilly, `c'est un sentiment contre lequel tout le monde est
impitoyable.' Few remember that the dandy's vanity is far different
from the crude conceit of the merely handsome man. Dandyism is, after
all, one of the decorative arts. A fine ground to work upon is its
first postulate. And the dandy cares for his physical endowments only
in so far as they are susceptible of fine results. They are just so
much to him as to the decorative artist is inilluminate parchment, the
form of a white vase or the surface of a wall where frescoes shall be.

Consider the words of Count D'Orsay, spoken on the eve of some duel,
`We are not fairly matched. If I were to wound him in the face it
would not matter; but if he were to wound me, ce serait vraiment
dommage!' There we have a pure example of a dandy's peculiar vanity--
`It would be a real pity!' They say that D'Orsay killed his man--no
matter whom--in this duel. He never should have gone out. Beau
Brummell never risked his dandyhood in these mean encounters. But
D'Orsay was a wayward, excessive creature, too fond of life and other
follies to achieve real greatness. The power of his predecessor, the
Father of Modern Costume, is over us yet. All that is left of
D'Orsay's art is a waistcoat and a handful of rings--vain relics of no
more value for us than the fiddle of Paganini or the mask of
Menischus! I think that in Carolo's painting of him, we can see the
strength, that was the weakness, of le jeune Cupidon. His fingers are
closed upon his cane as upon a sword. There is mockery in the
inconstant eyes. And the lips, so used to close upon the wine-cup, in
laughter so often parted, they do not seem immobile, even now. Sad
that one so prodigally endowed as he was, with the three essentials of
a dandy--physical distinction, a sense of beauty and wealth or, if you
prefer the term, credit--should not have done greater things. Much of
his costume was merely showy or eccentric, without the rotund unity of
the perfect fop's. It had been well had he lacked that dash and
spontaneous gallantry that make him cut, it may be, a more attractive
figure than Beau Brummell. The youth of St. James's gave him a
wonderful welcome. The flight of Mr. Brummell had left them as sheep
without a shepherd. They had even cried out against the inscrutable
decrees of fashion and curtailed the height of their stocks. And (lo!)
here, ambling down the Mall with tasselled cane, laughing in the
window at White's or in Fop's Alley posturing, here, with the devil in
his eyes and all the graces at his elbow, was D'Orsay, the prince
paramount who should dominate London and should guard life from
monotony by the daring of his whims. He accepted so many engagements
that he often dressed very quickly both in the morning and at
nightfall. His brilliant genius would sometimes enable him to appear
faultless, but at other times not even his fine figure could quite
dispel the shadow of a toilet too hastily conceived. Before long he
took that fatal step, his marriage with Lady Harriet Gardiner. The
marriage, as we all know, was not a happy one, though the wedding was
very pretty. It ruined the life of Lady Harriet and of her mother, the
Blessington. It won the poor Count further still further from his art
and sent him spinning here, there, and everywhere. He was continually
at Cleveden, or Belvoir, or Welbeck, laughing gaily as he brought down
our English partridges, or at Crockford's, smiling as he swept up our
English guineas from the board. Holker declares that, excepting Mr.
Turner, he was the finest equestrian in London and describes how the
mob would gather every morning round his door to see him descend,
insolent from his toilet, and mount and ride away. Indeed, he
surpassed us all in all the exercises of the body. He even essayed
pree"minence in the arts (as if his own art were insufficient to his
vitality!) and was for ever penning impenuous verses for circulation
among his friends. There was no great harm in this, perhaps. Even the
handwriting of Mr. Brummell was not unknown in the albums. But
D'Orsay's painting of portraits is inexcusable. The aesthetic vision
of a dandy should be bounded by his own mirror. A few crayon sketches
of himself--dilectissimae imagines--are as much as he should ever do.
That D'Orsay's portraits, even his much-approved portrait of the Duke
of Wellington, are quite amateurish, is no excuse. It is the process
of painting which is repellent; to force from little tubes of lead a
glutinous flamboyance and to defile, with the hair of a camel therein
steeped, taut canvas, is hardly the diversion for a gentleman; and to
have done all this for a man who was admittedly a field-marshal....

I have often thought that this selfish concentration, which is a part
of dandyism, is also a symbol of that einsamkeit felt in greater or
less degree by the practitioners of every art. But, curiously enough,
the very unity of his mind with the ground he works on exposes the
dandy to the influence of the world. In one way dandyism is the least
selfish of all the arts. Musicians are seen and, except for a price,
not heard. Only for a price may you read what poets have written. All
painters are not so generous as Mr. Watts. But the dandy presents
himself to the nation whenever he sallies from his front door. Princes
and peasants alike may gaze upon his masterpieces. Now, any art which
is pursued directly under the eye of the public is always far more
amenable to fashion than is an art with which the public is but
vicariously concerned. Those standards to which artists have gradually
accustomed it the public will not see lightly set at naught. Very
rigid, for example, are the traditions of the theatre. If my brother
were to declaim his lines at the Haymarket in the florotund manner of
Macready, what a row there would be in the gallery! It is only by the
impalpable process of evolution that change comes to the theatre.
Likewise in the sphere of costume no swift rebellion can succeed, as
was exemplified by the Prince's effort to revive knee-breeches. Had
his Royal Highness elected, in his wisdom, to wear tight trousers
strapped under his boots, `smalls' might, in their turn, have
reappeared, and at length--who knows?--knee-breeches. It is only by
the trifling addition or elimination, modification or extension, made
by this or that dandy and copied by the rest, that the mode proceeds.
The young dandy will find certain laws to which he must conform. If he
outrage them he will be hooted by the urchins of the street, not
unjustly, for he will have outraged the slowly constructed laws of
artists who have preceded him. Let him reflect that fashion is no
bondage imposed by alien hands, but the last wisdom of his own kind,
and that true dandyism is the result of an artistic temperament
working upon a fine body within the wide limits of fashion. Through
this habit of conformity, which it inculcates, the army has given us
nearly all our finest dandies, from Alcibiades to Colonel Br*b*z*n de
nos jours. Even Mr. Brummell, though he defied his Colonel, must have
owed some of his success to the military spirit. Any parent intending
his son to be a dandy will do well to send him first into the army,
there to learn humility, as did his archetype, Apollo, in the house of
Admetus. A sojourn at one of the Public Schools is also to be
commended. The University it were well to avoid.

Of course, the dandy, like any other artist, has moments when his own
period, palling, inclines him to antique modes. A fellow-student once
told me that, after a long vacation spent in touch with modern life,
he had hammered at the little gate of Merton and felt of a sudden his
hat assume plumes and an expansive curl, the impress of a ruff about
his neck, the dangle of a cloak and a sword. I, too, have my Eliza-
bethan, my Caroline moments. I have gone to bed Georgian and awoken
Early Victorian. Even savagery has charmed me. And at such times I
have often wished I could find in my wardrobe suitable costumes. But
these modish regrets are sterile, after all, and comprimend. What
boots it to defy the conventions of our time? The dandy is the `child
of his age,' and his best work must be produced in accord with the
age's natural influence. The true dandy must always love contemporary
costume. In this age, as in all precedent ages, it is only the
tasteless who cavil, being impotent to win from it fair results. How
futile their voices are! The costume of the nineteenth century, as
shadowed for us first by Mr. Brummell, so quiet, so reasonable, and, I
say emphatically, so beautiful; free from folly or affectation, yet
susceptible to exquisite ordering; plastic, austere, economical, may
not be ignored. I spoke of the doom of swift rebellions, but I doubt
even if any soever gradual evolution will lead us astray from the
general precepts of Mr. Brummell's code. At every step in the progress
of democracy those precepts will be strengthened. Every day their
fashion is more secure, corroborate. They are acknowledged by the
world. The barbarous costumes that in bygone days were designed by
class-hatred, or hatred of race, are dying, very surely dying. The
costermonger with his pearl-emblazoned coat has been driven even from
that Variety Stage, whereon he sought a desperate sanctuary. The
clinquant corslet of the Swiss girl just survives at bals costume's. I
am told that the kilt is now confined entirely to certain of the
soldiery and to a small cult of Scotch Archai"cists. I have seen men
flock from the boulevards of one capital and from the avenues of
another to be clad in Conduit Street. Even into Oxford, that curious
little city, where nothing is ever born nor anything ever quite dies,
the force of the movement has penetrated, insomuch that tasselled cap
and gown of degree are rarely seen in the streets or colleges. In a
place which was until recent times scarcely less remote, Japan, the
white and scarlet gardens are trod by men who are shod in boots like
our own, who walk--rather strangely still--in close-cut cloth of
little colour, and stop each other from time to time, laughing to show
how that they too can furl an umbrella after the manner of real

It is very nice, this universal acquiescence in the dress we have
designed, but, if we reflect, not wonderful. There are three apparent
reasons, and one of them is aesthetic. So to clothe the body that its
fineness be revealed and its meanness veiled has been the aesthetic
aim of all costume, but before our time the mean had never been
struck. The ancient Romans went too far. Muffled in the ponderous
folds of a toga, Adonis might pass for Punchinello, Punchinello for
Adonis. The ancient Britons, on the other hand, did not go far enough.
And so it had been in all ages down to that bright morning when Mr.
Brummell, at his mirror, conceived the notion of trousers and simple
coats. Clad according to his convention, the limbs of the weakling
escape contempt, and the athlete is unobtrusive, and all is well. But
there is also a social reason for the triumph of our costume--the
reason of economy. That austerity, which has rejected from its toilet
silk and velvet and all but a few jewels, has made more ample the
wardrobes of Dives, and sent forth Irus nicely dressed among his
fellows. And lastly there is a reason of psychology, most potent of
all, perhaps. Is not the costume of today, with its subtlety and
sombre restraint, its quiet congruities of black and white and grey,
supremely apt a medium for the expression of modern emotion and modern
thought? That aptness, even alone, would explain its triumph. Let us
be glad that we have so easy, yet so delicate, a mode of expression.

Yes! costume, dandiacal or not, is in the highest degree expressive,
nor is there any type it may not express. It enables us to classify
any `professional man' at a glance, be he lawyer, leech or what not.
Still more swift and obvious is its revelation of the work and the
soul of those who dress, whether naturally or for effect, without
reference to convention. The bowler of Mr. Jerome K. Jerome is a
perfect preface to all his works. The silk hat of Mr. Whistler is a
real nocturne, his linen a symphony en blanc majeur. To have seen Mr.
Hall Caine is to have read his soul. His flowing, formless cloak is as
one of his own novels, twenty-five editions latent in the folds of it.
Melodrama crouches upon the brim of his sombrero. His tie is a
Publisher's Announcement. His boots are Copyright. In his hand he
holds the staff of The Family Herald.

But the dandy, innowise violating the laws of fashion, can make more
subtle symbols of his personality. More subtle these symbols are for
the very reason that they are effected within the restrictions which
are essential to an art. Chastened of all flamboyance, they are from
most men occult, obvious, it may be, only to other artists or even
only to him they symbolise. Nor will the dandy express merely a crude
idea of his personality, as does, for example, Mr. Hall Caine,
dressing himself always and exactly after one pattern. Every day as
his mood has changed since his last toilet, he will vary the colour,
texture, form of his costume. Fashion does not rob him of free will.
It leaves him liberty of all expression. Every day there is not one
accessory, from the butterfly that alights above his shirt front to
the jewels planted in his linen, that will not symbolise the mood that
is in him or the occasion of the coming day.

On this, the psychological side of foppery, I know not one so expert
as him whom, not greatly caring for contemporary names, I will call
Mr. Le V. No hero-worshipper am I, but I cannot write without
enthusiasm of his simple life. He has not spurred his mind to the
quest of shadows nor vexed his soul in the worship of any gods. No
woman has wounded his heart, though he has gazed gallantly into the
eyes of many women, intent, I fancy, upon his own miniature there. Nor
is the incomparable set of his trousers spoilt by the perching of any
dear little child upon his knee. And so, now that he is stricken with
seventy years, he knows none of the bitterness of eld, for his toilet-
table is an imperishable altar, his wardrobe a quiet nursery and very
constant harem. Mr. Le V. has many disciples, young men who look to
him for guidance in all that concerns costume, and each morning come,
themselves tentatively clad, to watch the perfect procedure of his
toilet and learn invaluable lessons. I myself, a lie-a-bed, often
steal out, foregoing the best hours of the day abed, that I may attend
that leve'e. The rooms of the Master are in St. James's Street, and
perhaps it were well that I should give some little record of them and
of the manner of their use. In the first room the Master sleeps. He is
called by one of his valets, at seven o'clock, to the second room,
where he bathes, is shampooed, is manicured and, at length, is
enveloped in a dressing-gown of white wool. In the third room is his
breakfast upon a little table and his letters and some newspapers.
Leisurely he sips his chocolate, leisurely learns all that need be
known. With a cigarette he allows his temper, as informed by the news
and the weather and what not, to develop itself for the day. At
length, his mood suggests, imperceptibly, what colour, what form of
clothes he shall wear. He rings for his valet--`I will wear such and
such a coat, such and such a tie; my trousers shall be of this or that
tone; this or that jewel shall be radiant in the folds of my tie.' It
is generally near noon that he reaches the fourth room, the dressing-
room. The uninitiate can hardly realise how impressive is the
ceremonial there enacted. As I write, I can see, in memory, the whole
scene--the room, severely simple, with its lemon walls and deep
wardrobes of white wood, the young fops, philomathestatoi ton
neaniskon, ranged upon a long bench, rapt in wonder, and, in the
middle, now sitting, now standing, negligently, before a long mirror,
with a valet at either elbow, Mr. Le V., our cynosure. There is no
haste, no faltering, when once the scheme of the day's toilet has been
set. It is a calm toilet. A flower does not grow more calmly.

Any of us, any day, may see the gracious figure of Mr. Le V., as he
saunters down the slope of St. James's. Long may the sun irradiate the
surface of his tilted hat! It is comfortable to know that, though he
die to-morrow the world will not lack a most elaborate record of his
foppery. All his life he has kept or, rather, the current valets have
kept for him, a Journal de Toilette. Of this there are now fifty
volumes, each covering the space of a year. Yes, fifty springs have
filled his button-hole with their violets; the snow of fifty winters
has been less white than his linen; his boots have outshone fifty
sequences of summer suns, and the colours of all those autumns have
faded in the dry light of his apparel. The first page of each volume
of the Journal de Toilette bears the signature of Mr. Le V. and of his
two valets. Of the other pages each is given up, as in other diaries,
to one day of the year. In ruled spaces are recorded there the cut and
texture of the suit, the colour of the tie, the form of jewellery that
was worn on the day the page records. No detail is omitted and a
separate space is set aside for `Remarks.' I remember that I once
asked Mr. Le V., half in jest, what he should wear on the Judgment
Day. Seriously, and (I fancied) with a note of pathos in his voice, he
said to me, `Young man, you ask me to lay bare my soul to you. If I
had been a saint I should certainly wear a light suit, with a white
waistcoat and a flower, but I am no saint, sir, no saint.... I shall
probably wear black trousers or trousers of some very dark blue, and a
frock-coat, tightly buttoned.' Poor old Mr. Le V.! I think he need not
fear. If there be a heaven for the soul, there must be other heavens
also, where the intellect and the body shall be consummate. In both
these heavens Mr. Le V. will have his hierarchy. Of a life like his
there can be no conclusion, really. Did not even Matthew Arnold admit
that conduct of a cane is three-fourths of life?

Certainly Mr. Le V. is a great artist, and his supremacy is in the
tact with which he suits his toilet to his temperament. But the
marvellous affinity of a dandy's mood to his daily toilet is not
merely that it finds therein its perfect echo nor that it may even be,
in reflex, thereby accentuated or made less poignant. For some years I
had felt convinced that in a perfect dandy this affinity must reach a
point, when the costume itself, planned with the finest sensibility,
would change with the emotional changes of its wearer, automatically.
But I felt that here was one of those boundaries, where the fields of
art align with the fields of science, and I hardly dared to venture
further. Moreover, the theory was not easy to verify. I knew that,
except in some great emotional crisis, the costume could not palpably
change its aspect. Here was an impasse; for the perfect dandy--the
Brummell, the Mr. Le V.--cannot afford to indulge in any great emotion
outside his art; like Balzac, he has not time. The gods were good to
me, however. One morning near the end of last July, they decreed that
I should pass through Half Moon Street and meet there a friend who
should ask me to go with him to his club and watch for the results of
the racing at Goodwood. This club includes hardly any member who is
not a devotee of the Turf, so that, when we entered it, the cloak-room
displayed long rows of unburdened pegs--save where one hat shone. None
but that illustrious dandy, Lord X., wears quite so broad a brim as
this hat had. I said that Lord X. must be in the club.

`I conceive he is too nervous to be on the course,' my friend replied.
`They say he has plunged up to the hilt on to-day's running.'

His lordship was indeed there, fingering feverishly the sinuous
ribands of the tape-machine. I sat at a little distance, watching him.
Two results straggled forth within an hour, and, at the second of
these, I saw with wonder Lord X.'s linen actually flush for a moment
and then turn deadly pale. I looked again and saw that his boots had
lost their lustre. Drawing nearer, I found that grey hairs had begun
to show themselves in his raven coat. It was very painful and yet, to
me, very gratifying. In the cloak-room, when I went for my own hat and
cane, there was the hat with the broad brim, and (lo!) over its iron-
blue surface little furrows had been ploughed by Despair.

Rouen, 1896.

A Good Prince

I first saw him one morning of last summer, in the Green Park. Though
short, even insignificant, in stature and with an obvious tendency to
be obese, he had that unruffled, Olympian air, which is so sure a sign
of the Blood Royal. In a suit of white linen he looked serenely cool,
despite the heat. Perhaps I should have thought him, had I not been
versed in the Almanach de Gotha, a trifle older than he is. He did not
raise his hat in answer to my salute, but smiled most graciously and
made as though he would extend his hand to me, mistaking me, I doubt
not, for one of his friends. Forthwith, a member of his suite said
something to him in an undertone, whereat he smiled again and took no
further notice of me.

I do not wonder the people idolise him. His almost blameless life has
been passed among them, nothing in it hidden from their knowledge.
When they look upon his dear presentment in the photographer's window-
-the shrewd, kindly eyes under the high forehead, the sparse locks so
carefully distributed--words of loyalty only and of admiration rise to
their lips. For of all princes in modern days he seems to fulfil most
perfectly the obligation of princely rank. Ne^pios he might have been
called in the heroic age, when princes were judged according to their
mastery of the sword or of the bow, or have seemed, to those mediaeval
eyes that loved to see a scholar's pate under the crown, an ignoramus.
We are less exigent now. We do but ask of our princes that they should
live among us, be often manifest to our eyes, set a perpetual example
of a right life. We bid them be the ornaments of our State. Too often
they do not attain to our ideal. They give, it may be, a half-hearted
devotion to soldiering, or pursue pleasure merely--tales of their
frivolity raising now and again the anger of a public swift to envy
them their temptations. But against this admirable Prince no such
charges can be made. Never (as yet, at least) has he cared to `play at
soldiers.' By no means has he shocked the Puritans. Though it is no
secret that he prefers the society of ladies, not one breath of
scandal has ever tinged his name. Of how many English princes could
this be said, in days when Figaro, quill in hand, inclines his ear to
every key-hole?

Upon the one action that were well obliterated from his record I need
not long insist. It seems that the wife of an aged ex-Premier came to
have an audience and pay her respects. Hardly had she spoken when the
Prince, in a fit of unreasoning displeasure, struck her a violent blow
with his clenched fist. Had His Royal Highness not always stood so far
aloof from political contention, it had been easier to find a motive
for this unmannerly blow. The incident is deplorable, but it belongs,
after all, to an earlier period of his life; and, were it not that no
appreciation must rest upon the suppression of any scandal, I should
not have referred to it. For the rest, I find no stain, soever faint,
upon his life. The simplicity of his tastes is the more admirable for
that he is known to care not at all for what may be reported in the
newspapers. He has never touched a card, never entered a play-house.
In no stud of racers has he indulged, preferring to the finest blood-
horse ever bred a certain white and woolly lamb with a blue riband to
its neck. This he is never tired of fondling. It is with him, like the
roebuck of Henri Quatre, wherever he goes.

Suave and simple his life is! Narrow in range, it may be, but with
every royal appurtenance of delight, for to him Love's happy favours
are given and the tribute of glad homage, always, here and there and
every other where. Round the flower-garden at Sandringham runs an old
wall of red brick, streaked with ivy and topped infrequently with
balls of stone. By its iron gates, that open to a vista of flowers,
stand two kind policemen, guarding the Prince's procedure along that
bright vista. As his perambulator rolls out of the gate of St. James's
Palace, he stretches out his tiny hands to the scarlet sentinels. An
obsequious retinue follows him over the lawns of the White Lodge,
cooing and laughing, blowing kisses and praising him. Yet do not
imagine his life has been all gaiety! The afflictions that befall
royal personages always touch very poignantly the heart of the people,
and it is not too much to say that all England watched by the cradle-
side of Prince Edward in that dolorous hour, when first the little
battlements rose about the rose-red roof of his mouth. I am glad to
think that not one querulous word did His Royal Highness, in his great
agony, utter. They only say that his loud, incessant cries bore
testimony to the perfect lungs for which the House of Hanover is most
justly famed. Irreiterate be the horror of that epoch!

As yet, when we know not even what his first words will be, it is too
early to predict what verdict posterity will pass upon him. Already he
has won the hearts of the people; but, in the years which, it is to be
hoped, still await him, he may accomplish more. Attendons! He stands
alone among European princes--but, as yet, only with the aid of a

London, 1895.


Say, shall these things be forgotten
In the Row that men call Rotten,
Beauty Clare?--Hamilton Ai"de'.

`History,' it has been said, `does not repeat itself. The historians
repeat one another.' Now, there are still some periods with which no
historian has grappled, and, strangely enough, the period that most
greatly fascinates me is one of them. The labour I set myself is
therefore rather Herculean. But it is also, for me, so far a labour of
love that I can quite forget or even revel in its great difficulty. I
would love to have lived in those bygone days, when first society was
inducted into the mysteries of art and, not losing yet its old and
elegant tenue, babbled of blue china and white lilies, of the painter
Rossetti and the poet Swinburne. It would be a splendid thing to have
seen the tableaux at Cromwell House or to have made my way through the
Fancy Fair and bartered all for a cigarette from a shepherdess; to
have walked in the Park, straining my eyes for a glimpse of the Jersey
Lily; danced the livelong afternoon to the strains of the Manola
Valse; clapped holes in my gloves for Connie Gilchrist.

It is a pity that the historians have held back so long. For this
period is now so remote from us that much in it is nearly impossible
to understand, more than a little must be left in the mists of
antiquity that involve it. The memoirs of the day are, indeed, many,
but not exactly illuminative. From such writers as Frith, Montague
Williams or the Bancrofts, you may gain but little peculiar knowledge.
That quaint old chronicler, Lucy, dilates amusingly enough upon the
frown of Sir Richard (afterwards Lord) Cross or the tea-rose in the
Prime Minister's button-hole. But what can he tell us of the
negotiations that led Gladstone back to public life or of the secret
councils of the Fourth Party, whereby Sir Stafford was gradually
eclipsed? Good memoirs must ever be the cumulation of gossip. Gossip
(alas!) has been killed by the Press. In the tavern or the barber's-
shop, all secrets passed into every ear. From newspapers how little
can be culled! Manifestations are there made manifest to us and we are
taught, with tedious iteration, the things we knew, and need not have
known, before. In my research, I have had only such poor guides as
Punch, or the London Charivari and The Queen, the Lady's Newspaper.
Excavation, which in the East has been productive of rich material for
the archaeologist, was indeed suggested to me. I was told that, just
before Cleopatra's Needle was set upon the Embankment, an iron box,
containing a photograph of Mrs. Langtry, some current coins and other
trifles of the time, was dropped into the foundation. I am sure much
might be done with a spade, here and there, in the neighbourhood of
old Cromwell House. Accursed be the obduracy of vestries! Be not I,
but they, blamed for any error, obscurity or omission in my brief

The period of 1880 and of the two successive years should ever be
memorable, for it marks a great change in the constitution of English
society. It would seem that, under the quiet re'gime of the Tory
Cabinet, the upper ten thousand (as they were quaintly called in those
days,) had taken a somewhat more frigid tone. The Prince of Wales had
inclined to be restful after the revels of his youth. The prolonged
seclusion of Queen Victoria, who was then engaged upon that superb
work of introspection and self-analysis, More Leaves from the
Highlands, had begun to tell upon the social system. Balls and other
festivities, both at Court and in the houses of the nobles, were
notably fewer. The vogue of the Opera was passing. Even in the top of
the season, Rotten Row, I read, was not impenetrably crowded. But in
1880 came the tragic fall of Disraeli and the triumph of the Whigs.
How great a change came then upon Westminster must be known to any one
who has studied the annals of Gladstone's incomparable Parliament.
Gladstone himself, with a monstrous majority behind him, revelling in
the old splendour of speech that not seventy summers nor six years'
sulking had made less; Parnell, deadly, mysterious, with his crew of
wordy peasants that were to set all Saxon things at naught--the
activity of these two men alone would have made this Parliament
supremely stimulating throughout the land. What of young Randolph
Churchill, who, despite his halting speech, foppish mien and rather
coarse fibre of mind, was yet the greatest Parliamentarian of his day?
What of Justin Huntly McCarthy, under his puerile mask a most dark,
most dangerous conspirator, who, lightly swinging the sacred lamp of
burlesque, irradiated with fearful clarity the wrath and sorrow of
Ireland? What of Blocker Warton? What of the eloquent atheist, Charles
Bradlaugh, pleading at the Bar, striding past the furious Tories to
the very Mace, hustled down the stone steps with the broadcloth torn
in ribands from his back? Surely such scenes will never more be
witnessed at St. Stephen's. Imagine the existence of God being made a
party question! No wonder that at a time of such turbulence fine
society also should have shown the primordia of a great change. It was
felt that the aristocracy could not live by good-breeding alone. The
old delights seemed vapid, waxen. Something vivid was desired. And so
the sphere of fashion converged with the sphere of art, and revolution
was the result.

Be it remembered that long before this time there had been in the
heart of Chelsea a kind of cult for Beauty. Certain artists had
settled there, deliberately refusing to work in the ordinary official
way, and `wrought,' as they were wont to asseverate, `for the pleasure
and sake of all that is fair.' Little commerce had they with the
brazen world. Nothing but the light of the sun would they share with
men. Quietly and unbeknown, callous of all but their craft, they
wrought their poems or their pictures, gave them one to another, and
wrought on. Meredith, Rossetti, Swinburne, Morris, Holman Hunt were in
this band of shy artificers. In fact, Beauty had existed long before
1880. It was Mr. Oscar Wilde who managed her de'but. To study the
period is to admit that to him was due no small part of the social
vogue that Beauty began to enjoy. Fired by his fervid words, men and
women hurled their mahogany into the streets and ransacked the curio-
shops for the furniture of Annish days. Dados arose upon every wall,
sunflowers and the feathers of peacocks curved in every corner, tea
grew quite cold while the guests were praising the Willow Pattern of
its cup. A few fashionable women even dressed themselves in sinuous
draperies and unheard-of greens. Into whatsoever ballroom you went,
you would surely find, among the women in tiaras and the fops and the
distinguished foreigners, half a score of comely ragamuffins in
velveteen, murmuring sonnets, posturing, waving their hands. Beauty
was sought in the most unlikely places. Young painters found her
mobled in the fogs, and bank-clerks, versed in the writings of Mr.
Hamerton, were heard to declare, as they sped home from the City, that
the Underground Railway was beautiful from London Bridge to
Westminster, but not from Sloane Square to Notting Hill Gate.

Aestheticism (for so they named the movement,) did indeed permeate, in
a manner, all classes. But it was to the haut monde that its primary
appeal was made. The sacred emblems of Chelsea were sold in the
fashionable toy-shops, its reverently chanted creeds became the patter
of the boudoirs. The old Grosvenor Gallery, that stronghold of the
few, was verily invaded. Never was such a fusion of delightful folk as
at its Private Views. There was Robert Browning, the philosopher,
doffing his hat with a courtly sweep to more than one Duchess. There,
too, was Theo Marzials, poet and eccentric, and Charles Colnaghi, the
hero of a hundred tea-fights, and young Brookfield, the comedian, and
many another good fellow. My Lord of Dudley, the virtuoso, came there,
leaning for support upon the arm of his fair young wife. Disraeli,
with his lustreless eyes and face like some seamed Hebraic parchment,
came also, and whispered behind his hand to the faithful Corry. And
Walter Sickert spread the latest mot of `the Master,' who, with
monocle, cane and tilted hat, flashed through the gay mob anon.

Autrement, there was Coombe Wood, in whose shade the Lady Archibald
Campbell suffered more than one of Shakespeare's plays to be enacted.
Hither, from the garish, indelicate theatre that held her languishing,
Thalia was bidden, if haply, under the open sky, she might resume her
old charm. All Fashion came to marvel and so did all the Aesthetes, in
the heart of one of whose leaders, Godwin, that superb architect, the
idea was first conceived. Real Pastoral Plays! Lest the invited guests
should get any noxious scent of the footlights across the grass, only
amateurs were accorded parts. They roved through a real wood, these
jerkined amateurs, with the poet's music upon their lips. Never under
such dark and griddled elms had the outlaws feasted upon their
venison. Never had any Rosalind traced with such shy wonder the
writing of her lover upon the bark, nor any Orlando won such laughter
for his not really sportive dalliance. Fairer than the mummers, it may
be, were the ladies who sat and watched them from the lawn. All of
them wore jerseys and tied-back skirts. Zulu hats shaded their eyes
from the sun. Bangles shimmered upon their wrists. And the gentlemen
wore light frock-coats and light top-hats with black bands. And the
aesthetes were in velveteen, carrying lilies.

Not that Art and Fashion shunned the theatre. They began in 1880 to
affect it as never before. The one invaded Irving's premie`res at the
Lyceum. The other sang paeans in praise of the Bancrofts. The French
plays, too, were the feigned delight of all the modish world. Not to
have seen Chaumont in Totot chez Tata was held a solecism. The homely
mesdames and messieurs from the Parisian boards were `lionised' (how
strangely that phrase rings to modern ears!) in ducal drawing-rooms.
In fact, all the old prejudice of rank was being swept away. Even more
significant than the reception of players was a certain effort, made
at this time, to raise the average of aristocratic loveliness--an
effort that, but a few years before, would have been surely scouted as
quite undignified and outrageous. What the term `Professional Beauty'
signified, how any lady gained a right to it, we do not and may never
know. It is certain, however, that there were many ladies of tone,
upon whom it was bestowed. They received special attention from the
Prince of Wales, and hostesses would move heaven and earth to have
them in their rooms. Their photographs were on sale in the window of
every shop. Crowds assembled every morning to see them start from
Rotten Row. Pree"minent among Professional Beauties were Lady Lonsdale
(afterwards Lady de Grey), Mrs. Wheeler, who always `appeared in
black,' and Mrs. Corowallis West, who was Amy Robsart in the tableaux
at Cromwell House, when Mrs. Langtry, cette Cle'opatre de son sie`cle
appeared also, stepping across an artificial brook, in the pink kirtle
of Effie Deans. We may doubt whether the movement, represented by
these ladies, was quite in accord with the dignity and elegance that
always should mark the best society. Any effort to make Beauty
compulsory robs Beauty of its chief charm. But, at the same time, I do
believe that this movement, so far as it was informed by a real wish
to raise a practical standard of feminine charm for all classes, does
not deserve the strictures that have been passed upon it by posterity.
One of its immediate sequels was the incursion of American ladies into
London. Then it was that these pretty creatures, `clad in Worth's most
elegant confections,' drawled their way through our greater portals.
Fanned, as they were, by the feathers of the Prince of Wales, they had
a great success, and they were so strange that their voices and their
dresses were mimicked partout. The English beauties were rather angry,
especially with the Prince, whom alone they blamed for the vogue of
their rivals. History credits His Royal Highness with many notable
achievements. Not the least of these is that he discovered the
inhabitants of America.

It will be seen that in this renaissance the keenest students of the
exquisite were women. Nevertheless, men were not idle, neither. Since
the day of Mr. Brummell and King George, the noble art of self-
adornment had fallen partially desuete. Great fops like Bulwer and le
jeune Cupidon had come upon the town, but never had they formed a
school. Dress, therefore, had become simpler, wardrobes smaller,
fashions apt to linger. In 1880 arose the sect that was soon to win
for itself the title of `The Mashers.' What this title exactly
signified I suppose no two etymologists will ever agree. But we can
learn clearly enough, from the fashion-plates of the day, what the
Mashers were in outward semblance; from the lampoons, their mode of
life. Unlike the dandies of the Georgian era, they pretended to no
classic taste and, wholly contemptuous of the Aesthetes, recognised no
art save the art of dress. Much might be written about the Mashers.
The restaurant--destined to be, in after years, so salient a delight
of London--was not known to them, but they were often admirable upon
the steps of clubs. The Lyceum held them never, but nightly they
gathered at the Gaiety Theatre. Nightly the stalls were agog with
small, sleek heads surmounting collars of interminable height.
Nightly, in the foyer, were lisped the praises of Kate Vaughan, her
graceful dancing, or of Nellie Farren, her matchless fooling. Never a
night passed but the dreary stage-door was cinct with a circlet of
fools bearing bright bouquets, of flaxen-headed fools who had feet
like black needles, and graceful fools incumbent upon canes. A strange
cult! I once knew a lady whose father was actually present at the
first night of `The Forty Thieves,' and fell enamoured of one of the
coryphe'es. By such links is one age joined to another.

There is always something rather absurd about the past. For us, who
have fared on, the silhouette of Error is sharp upon the past horizon.
As we look back upon any period, its fashions seem grotesque, its
ideals shallow, for we know how soon those ideals and those fashions
were to perish, and how rightly; nor can we feel a little of the
fervour they did inspire. It is easy to laugh at these Mashers, with
their fantastic raiment and languid lives, or at the strife of the
Professional Beauties. It is easy to laugh at all that ensued when
first the mummers and the stainers of canvas strayed into Mayfair. Yet
shall I laugh? For me the most romantic moment of a pantomime is
always when the winged and wired fairies begin to fade away, and, as
they fade, clown and pantaloon tumble on joppling and grimacing, seen
very faintly in that indecisive twilight. The social condition of 1880
fascinates me in the same way. Its contrasts fascinate me.

Perhaps, in my study of the period, I may have fallen so deeply
beneath its spell that I have tended, now and again, to overrate its
real import. I lay no claim to the true historical spirit. I fancy it
was a chalk drawing of a girl in a mob-cap, signed `Frank Miles,
1880,' that first impelled me to research. To give an accurate and
exhaustive account of that period would need a far less brilliant pen
than mine. But I hope that, by dealing, even so briefly as I have
dealt, with its more strictly sentimental aspects, I may have
lightened the task of the scientific historian. And I look to
Professor Gardiner and to the Bishop of Oxford.

`Cromwell House.' The residence of Lady Freake, a famous hostess of
the day and founder of a brilliant salon, `where even Royalty was sure
of a welcome. The writer of a recent monograph declares that, `many a
modern hostess would do well to emulate Lady Freake, not only in her
taste for the Beautiful in Art but also for the Intellectual in

`Fancy Fair.' For a full account of this function, see pp. 102-124 of
the `Annals of the Albert Hall.'

`Jersey Lily.' A fanciful title bestowed, at this time, upon the
beautiful Mrs. Langtry, who was a native of Jersey Island.

`Manola Valse.' Supposed to have been introduced by Albert Edward,
Prince of Wales, who, having heard it in Vienna, was pleased, for a
while, by its novelty, but soon reverted to the more sprightly deux-

`Private Views.' This passage, which I found in a contemporary
chronicle, is so quaint and so instinct with the spirit of its time
that I am fain to quote it:

`There were quaint, beautiful, extraordinary costumes walking about--
ultra-aesthetics, artistic-aesthetics, aesthetics that made up their
minds to be daring, and suddenly gave way in some important point--put
a frivolous bonnet on the top of a grave and flowing garment that
Albert Durer might have designed for a mantle. There were fashionable
costumes that Mrs. Mason or Madame Eliot might have turned out that
morning. The motley crowd mingled, forming into groups, sometimes
dazzling you by the array of colours that you never thought to see in
full daylight.... Canary-coloured garments flitted cheerily by
garments of the saddest green. A hat in an agony of pushes and angles
was seen in company with a bonnet that was a gay garland of flowers. A
vast cape that might have enshrouded the form of a Mater Dolorosa hung
by the side of a jauntily-striped Langtry-hood.'

The `Master.' By this title his disciples used to address James
Whistler, the author-artist. Without echoing the obloquy that was
lavished at first nor the praise that was lavished later upon his
pictures, we must admit that he was, as least, a great master of
English prose and a controversialist of no mean power.

`Masher.' One authority derives the title, rather ingeniously, from
`Ma Che`re,' the mode of address used by the gilded youth to the
barmaids of the period--whence the corruption, `Masher.' Another
traces it to the chorus of a song, which, at that time, had a great
vogue in the music-halls: `I'm the slashing, dashing, mashing
Montmorency of the day.' This, in my opinion, is the safer suggestion,
and may be adopted.

London, 1894.

King George The Fourth

They say that when King George was dying, a special form of prayer for
his recovery, composed by one of the Archbishops, was read aloud to
him and that His Majesty, after saying Amen `thrice, with great
fervour,' begged that his thanks might be conveyed to its author. To
the student of royalty in modern times there is something rather
suggestive in this incident. I like to think of the drug-scented room
at Windsor and of the King, livid and immobile among his pillows,
waiting, in superstitious awe, for the near moment when he must stand,
a spirit, in the presence of a perpetual King. I like to think of him
following the futile prayer with eyes and lips, and then, custom
resurgent in him and a touch of pride that, so long as the blood moved
ever so little in his veins, he was still a king, expressing a desire
that the dutiful feeling and admirable taste of the Prelate should
receive a suitable acknowledgment. It would have been impossible for a
real monarch like George, even after the gout had turned his thoughts
heavenward, really to abase himself before his Maker. But he could, so
to say, treat with Him, as he might have treated with a fellow-
sovereign, in a formal way, long after diplomacy was quite useless.
How strange it must be to be a king! How delicate and difficult a task
it is to judge him! So far as I know, no attempt has been made to
judge King George the Fourth fairly. The hundred and one eulogies and
lampoons, irresponsibly published during and immediately after his
reign, are not worth a wooden hoop in Hades. Mr. Percy Fitzgerald has
published a history of George's reign, in which he has so artistically
subordinated his own personality to his subject, that I can scarcely
find, from beginning to end of the two bulky volumes, a single opinion
expressed, a single idea, a single deduction from the admirably-
ordered facts. All that most of us know of George is from Thackeray's
brilliant denunciation. Now, I yield to few in my admiration of
Thackeray's powers. He had a charming style. We never find him
searching for the mot juste as for a needle in a bottle of hay. Could
he have looked through a certain window by the river at Croisset or in
the quadrangle at Brasenose, how he would have laughed! He blew on his
pipe, and words came tripping round him, like children, like pretty
little children who are perfectly drilled for the dance, or came, did
he will it, treading in their precedence, like kings, gloomily. And I
think it is to the credit of the reading mob that, by reason of his
beautiful style, all that he said was taken for the truth, without
questioning. But truth after all is eternal, and style transient, and
now that Thackeray's style is becoming, if I may say so, a trifle
1860, it may not be amiss that we should inquire whether his estimate
of George is in substance and fact worth anything at all. It seems to
me that, as in his novels, so in his history of the four Georges,
Thackeray made no attempt at psychology. He dealt simply with types.
One George he insisted upon regarding as a buffoon, another as a
yokel. The Fourth George he chose to hold up for reprobation as a
drunken, vapid cad. Every action, every phase of his life that went to
disprove this view, he either suppressed or distorted utterly.
`History,' he would seem to have chuckled, `has nothing to do with the
First Gentleman. But I will give him a niche in Natural History. He
shall be King of the Beasts.' He made no allowance for the
extraordinary conditions under which all monarchs live, none for the
unfortunate circumstances by which George, especially, was from the
first hampered. He judged him as he judged Barnes Newcome and all the
scoundrels lie created. Moreover, he judged him by the moral standard
of the Victorian Age. In fact, he applied to his subject the wrong
method, in the wrong manner, and at the wrong time. And yet every one
has taken him at his word. I feel that my essay may be scouted as a
paradox; but I hope that many may recognise that I am not, out of mere
boredom, endeavouring to stop my ears against popular platitude, but
rather, in a spirit of real earnestness, to point out to the mob how
it has been cruel to George. I do not despair of success. I think I
shall make converts. The mob is really very fickle and sometimes
cheers the truth.

None, at all events, will deny that England stands to-day otherwise
than she stood a hundred and thirty-two years ago, when George was
born. To-day we are living a decadent life. All the while that we are
prating of progress, we are really so deteriorate! There is nothing
but feebleness in us. Our youths, who spend their days in trying to
build up their constitutions by sport or athletics and their evenings
in undermining them with poisonous and dyed drinks; our daughters, who
are ever searching for some new quack remedy for new imaginary megrim,
what strength is there in them? We have our societies for the
prevention of this and the promotion of that and the propagation of
the other, because there are no individuals among us. Our sexes are
already nearly assimilate. Women are becoming nearly as rare as
ladies, and it is only at the music-halls that we are privileged to
see strong men. We are born into a poor, weak age. We are not strong
enough to be wicked, and the Nonconformist Conscience makes cowards of
us all.

But this was not so in the days when George was walking by his tutor's
side in the gardens of Kew or of Windsor. London must have been a
splendid place in those days--full of life and colour and wrong and
revelry. There was no absurd press nor vestry to protect the poor at
the expense of the rich and see that everything should be neatly
adjusted. Every man had to shift for himself and, consequently, men
were, as Mr. Clement Scott would say, manly, and women, as Mr. Clement
Scott would say, womanly. In those days, a young man of wealth and
family found open to him a vista of such licence as had been unknown
to any since the barbatuli of the Roman Empire. To spend the early
morning with his valet, gradually assuming the rich apparel that was
not then tabooed by a hard sumptuary standard; to saunter round to
White's for ale and tittle-tattle and the making of wagers; to attend
a `drunken de'jeuner' in honour of `la tre`s belle Rosaline' or the
Strappini; to drive some fellow-fool far out into the country in his
pretty curricle, `followed by two well-dressed and well-mounted
grooms, of singular elegance certainly,' and stop at every tavern on
the road to curse the host for not keeping better ale and a wench of
more charm; to reach St. James's in time for a random toilet and so
off to dinner. Which of our dandies could survive a day of pleasure
such as this? Which would be ready, dinner done, to scamper off again
to Ranelagh and dance and skip and sup in the rotunda there? Yet the
youth of that period would not dream of going to bed or ever he had
looked in at Crockford's--tanta lubido rerum--for a few hours' faro.

This was the kind of life that young George found opened to him, when,
at length, in his nineteenth year, they gave him an establishment in
Buckingham House. How his young eyes must have sparkled, and with what
glad gasps must he have taken the air of freedom into his lungs!
Rumour had long been busy with the damned surveillance under which his
childhood had been passed. A paper of the time says significantly that
`the Prince of Wales, with a spirit which does him honour, has three
times requested a change in that system.' King George had long
postponed permission for his son to appear at any balls, and the year
before had only given it, lest he should offend the Spanish Minister,
who begged it as a personal favour. I know few pictures more pathetic
than that of George, then an overgrown boy of fourteen, tearing the
childish frill from around his neck and crying to one of the Royal
servants, `See how they treat me! `Childhood has always seemed to me
the tragic period of life. To be subject to the most odious espionage
at the one age when you never dream of doing wrong, to be deceived by
your parents, thwarted of your smallest wish, oppressed by the terrors
of manhood and of the world to come, and to believe, as you are told,
that childhood is the only happiness known; all this is quite
terrible. And all Royal children, of whom I have read, particularly
George, seem to have passed through greater trials in childhood than
do the children of any other class. Mr. Fitzgerald, hazarding for once
an opinion, thinks that `the stupid, odious, German, sergeant-system
of discipline that had been so rigorously applied was, in fact,
responsible for the blemishes of the young Prince's character.' Even
Thackeray, in his essay upon George III., asks what wonder that the
son, finding himself free at last, should have plunged, without
looking, into the vortex of dissipation. In Torrens' Life of Lord
Melbourne we learn that Lord Essex, riding one day with the King, met
the young Prince wearing a wig, and that the culprit, being sternly
reprimanded by his father, replied that he had `been ordered by his
doctor to wear a wig, for he was subject to cold.' Whereupon the King,
to vent the aversion he already felt for his son, or, it may have
been, glorying in the satisfactory result of his discipline, turned to
Lord Essex and remarked, `A lie is ever ready when it is wanted.'
George never lost this early-ingrained habit of lies. It is to
George's childish fear of his guardians that we must trace that
extraordinary power of bamboozling his courtiers, his ministry, and
his mistresses that distinguished him through his long life. It is
characteristic of the man that he should himself have bitterly
deplored his own untruthfulness. When, in after years, he was
consulting Lady Spencer upon the choice of a governess for his child,
he made this remarkable speech, `Above all, she must be taught the
truth. You know that I don't speak the truth and my brothers don't,
and I find it a great defect, from which I would have my daughter
free. We have been brought up badly, the Queen having taught us to
equivocate.' You may laugh at the picture of the little chubby, curly-
headed fellows learning to equivocate at their mother's knee, but pray
remember that the wisest master of ethics himself, in his theory of
hexeis apodeiktikai, similarly raised virtues, such as telling the
truth, to the level of regular accomplishments, and, before you judge
poor George harshly in his entanglements of lying, think of the
cruelly unwise education he had undergone.

However much we may deplore this exaggerated tyranny, by reason of its
evil effect upon his moral nature, we cannot but feel glad that it
existed, to afford a piquant contrast to the life awaiting him. Had he
passed through the callow dissipations of Eton and Oxford, like other
young men of his age, he would assuredly have lacked much of that
splendid, pent vigour with which he rushed headlong into London life.
He was so young and so handsome and so strong, that can we wonder if
all the women fell at his feet? `The graces of his person,' says one
whom he honoured by an intrigue, `the irresistible sweetness of his
smile, the tenderness of his melodious, yet manly voice, will be
remembered by me till every vision of this changing scene are
forgotten. The polished and fascinating ingenuousness of his manners
contributed not a little to enliven our promenade. He sang with
exquisite taste, and the tones of his voice, breaking on the silence
of the night, have often appeared to my entranced senses like more
than mortal melody.' But besides his graces of person, he had a most
delightful wit, he was a scholar who could bandy quotations with Fox
or Sheridan, and, like the young men of to-day, he knew all about Art.
He spoke French, Italian, and German perfectly. Crossdill had taught
him the violoncello. At first, as was right for one of his age, he
cared more for the pleasures of the table and of the ring, for cards
and love. He was wont to go down to Ranelagh surrounded by a retinue
of bruisers--rapscallions, such as used to follow Clodius through the
streets of Rome--and he loved to join in the scuffles like any
commoner. Pugilism he learnt from Angelo, and he was considered by
some to be a fine performer. On one occasion, too, at an exposition
d'escrime, when he handled the foils against the mai^tre, he `was
highly complimented upon his graceful postures.' In fact, despite all
his accomplishments, he seems to have been a thoroughly manly young
fellow. He was just the kind of figure-head Society had long been in
need of. A certain lack of tone had crept into the amusements of the
haut monde, due, doubtless, to the lack of an acknowledged leader. The
King was not yet mad, but he was always bucolic, and socially out of
the question. So at the coming of his son Society broke into a gallop.
Balls and masquerades were given in his honour night after night. Good
Samaritans must have approved when they found that at these
entertainments great ladies and courtesans brushed beautiful shoulders
in utmost familiarity, but those who delighted in the high charm of
society probably shook their heads. We need not, however, find it a
flaw in George's social bearing that he did not check this kind of
freedom. At the first, as a young man full of life, of course he took
everything as it came, joyfully. No one knew better than he did, in
later life, that there is a time for laughing with great ladies and a
time for laughing with courtesans. But as yet it was not possible for
him to exert influence. How great that influence became I will suggest

I like to think of him as he was at this period, charging about, in
pursuit of pleasure, like a young bull. The splendid taste for
building had not yet come to him. His father would not hear of him
patronising the Turf. But already he was implected with a passion for
dress and seems to have erred somewhat on the side of dressing up, as
is the way of young men. It is fearful to think of him, as Cyrus
Redding saw him, `arrayed in deep-brown velvet, silver embroidered,
with cut-steel buttons, and a gold net thrown over all.' Before that
`gold net thrown over all,' all the mistakes of his afterlife seem to
me to grow almost insignificant. Time, however, toned his too florid
sense of costume, and we should at any rate be thankful that his
imagination never deserted him. All the delightful munditiae that we
find in the contemporary `fashion-plates for gentlemen' can be traced
to George himself. His were the much-approved `quadruple stock of
great dimension,' the `cocked grey-beaver,' `the pantaloons of mauve
silk negligently crinkled' and any number of other little pomps and
foibles of the kind. As he grew older and was obliged to abandon many
of his more vigorous pastimes, he grew more and more enamoured of the
pleasures of the wardrobe. He would spend hours, it is said, in
designing coats for his friends, liveries for his servants, and even
uniforms. Nor did he ever make the mistake of giving away outmoded
clothes to his valets, but kept them to form what must have been the
finest collection of clothes that has been seen in modern times. With
a sentimentality that is characteristic of him, he would often, as he
sat, crippled by gout, in his room at Windsor, direct his servant to
bring him this or that coat, which he had worn ten or twenty or thirty
years before, and, when it was brought to him, spend much time in
laughing or sobbing over the memories that lay in its folds. It is
pleasant to know that George, during his long and various life, never
forgot a coat, however long ago worn, however seldom.

But in the early days of which I speak he had not yet touched that
self-conscious note which, in manner and mode of life, as well as in
costume, he was to touch later. He was too violently enamoured of all
around him, to think very deeply of himself. But he had already
realised the tragedy of the voluptuary, which is, after a little time,
not that he must go on living, but that he cannot live in two places
at once. We have, at this end of the century, tempered this tragedy by
the perfection of railways, and it is possible for our good Prince,
whom Heaven bless, to waken to the sound of the Braemar bagpipes,
while the music of Mdlle. Guilbert's latest song, cooed over the
footlights of the Concerts Parisiens, still rings in his ears. But in
the time of our Prince's illustrious great-uncle there were not
railways; and we find George perpetually driving, for wagers, to
Brighton and back (he had already acquired that taste for Brighton
which was one of his most loveable qualities) in incredibly short
periods of time. The rustics who lived along the road were well
accustomed to the sight of a high, tremulous phaeton flashing past
them, and the crimson face of the young Prince bending over the
horses. There is something absurd in representing George as, even
before he came of age, a hardened and cynical profligate, an
Elagabalus in trousers. His blood flowed fast enough through his
veins. All his escapades were those of a healthful young man of the
time. Need we blame him if he sought, every day, to live faster and
more fully?

In a brief essay like this, I cannot attempt to write, as I hope one
day to do, in any detail a history of George's career, during the time
when he was successively Prince of Wales and Regent and King. Merely
is it my wish at present to examine some of the principal accusations
that have been brought against him, and to point out in what ways he
has been harshly and hastily judged. Perhaps the greatest indignation
against him was, and is to this day, felt by reason of his treatment
of his two wives, Mrs. Fitzherbert and Queen Caroline. There are some
scandals that never grow old, and I think the story of George's
married life is one of them. It was a real scandal. I can feel it. It
has vitality. Often have I wondered whether the blood with which the
young Prince's shirt was saturate when Mrs. Fitzherbert was first
induced to visit him at Carlton House, was merely red paint, or if, in
a frenzy of love, he had truly gashed himself with a razor. Certain it
is that his passion for the virtuous and obdurate lady was a very real
one. Lord Holland describes how the Prince used to visit Mrs. Fox, and
there indulge in `the most extravagant expressions and actions--
rolling on the floor, striking his forehead, tearing his hair, falling
into hysterics, and swearing that he would abandon the country, forego
the crown, &c.' He was indeed still a child, for Royalties, not being
ever brought into contact with the realities of life, remain young far
longer than other people. Cursed with a truly royal lack of self-
control, he was unable to bear the idea of being thwarted in any wish.
Every day he sent off couriers to Holland, whither Mrs. Fitzherbert
had retreated, imploring her to return to him, offering her formal
marriage. At length, as we know, she yielded to his importunity and
returned. It is difficult indeed to realise exactly what was Mrs.
Fitzherbert's feeling in the matter. The marriage must be, as she
knew, illegal, and would lead, as Charles James Fox pointed out in his
powerful letter to the Prince, to endless and intricate difficulties.
For the present she could only live with him as his mistress. If, when
he reached the legal age of twenty-five, he were to apply to
Parliament for permission to marry her, how could permission be given,
when she had been living with him irregularly? Doubtless, she was
flattered by the attentions of the Heir to the Throne, but,
had she really returned his passion, she would surely have preferred
`any other species of connection with His Royal Highness to one
leading to so much misery and mischief.' Really to understand her
marriage, one must look at the portraits of her that are extant. That
beautiful and silly face explains much. One can well fancy such a lady
being pleased to live after the performance of a mock-ceremony with a
prince for whom she felt no passion. Her view of the matter can only
have been social, for, in the eyes of the Church, she could only live
with the Prince as his mistress. Society, however, once satisfied that
a ceremony of some kind had been enacted, never regarded her as
anything but his wife. The day after Fox, inspired by the Prince, had
formally denied that any ceremony had taken place, `the knocker of her
door,' to quote her own complacent phrase, `was never still.' The
Duchesses of Portland, Devonshire and Cumber-land were among her

How much pop-limbo has been talked about the Prince's denial of the
marriage! I grant that it was highly improper to marry Mrs.
Fitzherbert at all. But George was always weak and wayward, and he
did, in his great passion, marry her. That he should afterwards deny
it officially seems to me to have been utterly inevitable. His denial
did her not the faintest damage, as I have pointed out. It was, so to
speak, an official quibble, rendered necessary by the circumstances of
the case. Not to have denied the marriage in the House of Commons
would have meant ruin to both of them. As months passed, more serious
difficulties awaited the unhappily wedded pair. What boots it to
repeat the story of the Prince's great debts and desperation? It was
clear that there was but one way of getting his head above water, and
that was to yield to his father's wishes and contract a real marriage
with a foreign princess. Fate was dogging his footsteps relentlessly.
Placed as he was, George could not but offer to marry as his father
willed. It is well, also, to remember that George was not ruthlessly
and suddenly turning his shoulder upon Mrs. Fitzherbert. For some time
before the British plenipotentiary went to fetch him a bride from over
the waters, his name had been associated with that of the beautiful
and unscrupulous Countess of Jersey.

Poor George! Half-married to a woman whom he no longer worshipped,
compelled to marry a woman whom he was to hate at first sight! Surely
we should not judge a prince harshly. `Princess Caroline very gauche
at cards,' `Princess Caroline very missish at supper,' are among the
entries made in his diary by Lord Malmesbury, while he was at the
little German Court. I can conceive no scene more tragic than that of
her presentation to the Prince, as related by the same nobleman. `I,
according to the established etiquette,' so he writes, `introduced the
Princess Caroline to him. She, very properly, in consequence of my
saying it was the right mode of proceeding, attempted to kneel to him.
He raised her gracefully enough, and embraced her, said barely one
word, turned round, retired to a distant part of the apartment, and
calling to me, said: `Harris, I am not well: pray get me a glass of
brandy.' At dinner that evening, in the presence of her betrothed, the
Princess was `flippant, rattling, affecting wit.' Poor George, I say
again! Deportment was his ruling passion, and his bride did not know
how to behave. Vulgarity--hard, implacable, German vulgarity--was in
everything she did to the very day of her death. The marriage was
solemnised on Wednesday, April 8th, 1795, and the royal bridegroom was

So soon as they were separated, George became implected with a morbid
hatred for his wife, which was hardly in accord with his light and
variant nature and shows how bitterly he had been mortified by his
marriage of necessity. It is sad that so much of his life should have
been wasted in futile strainings after divorce. Yet we can scarcely
blame him for seizing upon every scrap of scandal that was whispered
of his wife. Besides his not unnatural wish to be free, it was
derogatory to the dignity of a prince and a regent that his wife
should be living an eccentric life at Blackheath with a family of
singers named Sapio. Indeed, Caroline's conduct during this time was
as indiscreet as ever. Wherever she went she made ribald jokes about
her husband, `in such a voice that all, by-standing, might hear.'
`After dinner,' writes one of her servants, `Her Royal Highness made a
wax figure as usual, and gave it an amiable pair of large horns; then
took three pins out of her garment and stuck them through and through,
and put the figure to roast and melt at the fire. What a silly piece
of spite! Yet it is impossible not to laugh when one sees it done.'
Imagine the feelings of the First Gentleman in Europe when the
unseemly story of these pranks was whispered to him!

For my own part, I fancy Caroline was innocent of any infidelity to
her unhappy husband. But that is neither here nor there. Her behaviour
was certainly not above suspicion. It fully justified George in trying
to establish a case for her divorce. When, at length, she went abroad,
her vagaries were such that the whole of her English suite left her,
and we hear of her travelling about the Holy Land attended by another
family, named Bergami. When her husband succeeded to the throne, and
her name was struck out of the liturgy, she despatched expostulations
in absurd English to Lord Liverpool. Receiving no answer, she decided
to return and claim her right to be crowned Queen of England. Whatever
the unhappy lady did, she always was ridiculous. One cannot but smile
as one reads of her posting along the French roads in a yellow
travelling-chariot drawn by cart-horses, with a retinue that included
an alderman, a reclaimed lady-in-waiting, an Italian count, the eldest
son of the alderman, and `a fine little female child, about three
years old, whom Her Majesty, in conformity with her benevolent
practices on former occasions, had adopted.' The breakdown of her
impeachment, and her acceptance of an income formed a fitting anti-
climax to the terrible absurdities of her position. She died from the
effects of a chill caught when she was trying vainly to force a way to
her husband's coronation. Unhappy woman! Our sympathy for her is not
misgiven. Fate wrote her a most tremendous tragedy, and she played it
in tights. Let us pity her, but not forget to pity her husband, the
King, also.

It is another common accusation against George that he was an
undutiful and unfeeling son. If this was so, it is certain that not
all the blame is to be laid upon him alone. There is more than one
anecdote which shows that King George disliked his eldest son, and
took no trouble to conceal his dislike, long before the boy had been
freed from his tutors. It was the coldness of his father and the petty
restrictions he loved to enforce that first drove George to seek the
companionship of such men as Egalite' and the Duke of Cumberland, both
of whom were quick to inflame his impressionable mind to angry
resentment. Yet, when Margaret Nicholson attempted the life of the
King, the Prince immediately posted off from Brighton that he might
wait upon his father at Windsor--a graceful act of piety that was
rewarded by his father's refusal to see him. Hated by the Queen, who
at this time did all she could to keep her husband and his son apart,
surrounded by intriguers, who did all they could to set him against
his father, George seems to have behaved with great discretion. In the
years that follow, I can conceive no position more difficult than that
in which he found himself every time his father relapsed into lunacy.
That he should have by every means opposed those who through jealousy
stood between him and the regency was only natural. It cannot be said
that at any time did he show anxiety to rule, so long as there was any
immediate chance of the King's recovery. On the contrary, all
impartial seers of that chaotic Court agreed that the Prince bore
himself throughout the intrigues, wherein he himself was bound to be,
in a notably filial way.

There are many things that I regret in the career of George IV., and
what I most of all regret is the part that he played in the politics
of the period. Englishmen to-day have at length decided that Royalty
shall not set foot in the political arena. I do not despair that some
day we shall place politics upon a sound commercial basis, as they
have already done in America and France, or leave them entirely in the
hands of the police, as they do in Russia. It is horrible to think
that, under our existing re'gime, all the men of noblest blood and
highest intellect should waste their time in the sordid atmosphere of
the House of Commons, listening for hours to nonentities talking
nonsense, or searching enormous volumes to prove that somebody said
something some years ago that does not quite tally with something he
said the other day, or standing tremulous before the whips in the
lobbies and the scorpions in the constituencies. In the political
machine are crushed and lost all our best men. That Mr. Gladstone did
not choose to be a cardinal is a blow under which the Roman Catholic
Church still staggers. In Mr. Chamberlain Scotland Yard missed its
smartest detective. What a fine voluptuary might Lord Rosebery have
been! It is a platitude that the country is ruled best by the
permanent officials, and I look forward to the time when Mr. Keir
Hardie shall hang his cap in the hall of No. 10 Downing Street, and a
Conservative working man shall lead Her Majesty's Opposition. In the
lifetime of George, politics were not a whit finer than they are to-
day. I feel a genuine indignation that he should have wasted so much
of tissue in mean intrigues about ministries and bills. That he should
have been fascinated by that splendid fellow, Fox, is quite right.
That he should have thrown himself with all his heart into the storm
of the Westminster election is most natural. But it is awful
inverideed to find him, long after he had reached man's estate,
indulging in back-stair intrigues with Whigs and Tories. It is, of
course, absurd to charge him with deserting his first friends, the
Whigs. His love and fidelity were given, not to the Whigs, but to the
men who led them. Even after the death of Fox, he did, in misplaced
piety, do all he could for Fox's party. What wonder that, when he
found he was ignored by the Ministry that owed its existence to him,
he turned his back upon that sombre couple, the `Lords G. and G.,'
whom he had always hated, and went over to the Tories? Among the
Tories he hoped to find men who would faithfully perform their duties
and leave him leisure to live his own beautiful life. I regret
immensely that his part in politics did not cease here. The state of
the country and of his own finances, and also, I fear, a certain love
that he had imbibed for political manipulation, prevented him from
standing aside. How useless was all the finesse he displayed in the
long-drawn question of Catholic Emancipation! How lamentable his
terror of Lord Wellesley's rude dragooning! And is there not something
pitiable in the thought of the Regent at a time of ministerial
complications lying prone on his bed with a sprained ankle, and
taking, as was whispered, in one day as many as seven hundred drops of
laudanum? Some said he took these doses to deaden the pain. But
others, and among them his brother Cumberland, declared that the
sprain was all a sham. I hope it was. The thought of a voluptuary in
pain is very terrible. In any case, I cannot but feel angry, for
George's own sake and that of his kingdom, that he found it impossible
to keep further aloof from the wearisome troubles of political life.
His wretched indecision of character made him an easy prey to
unscrupulous ministers, while his extraordinary diplomatic powers and
almost extravagant tact made them, in their turn, an easy prey to him.
In these two processes much of his genius was spent untimely. I must
confess that he did not quite realise where his duties ended. He
wished always to do too much. If you read his repeated appeals to his
father that he might be permitted to serve actively in the British
army against the French, you will acknowledge that it was through no
fault of his own that he did not fight. It touches me to think that in
his declining years he actually thought that he had led one of the
charges at Waterloo. He would often describe the whole scene as it
appeared to him at that supreme moment, and refer to the Duke of
Wellington, saying, `Was it not so, Duke?' `I have often heard you say
so, your Majesty,' the old soldier would reply, grimly. I am not sure
that the old soldier was at Waterloo himself. In a room full of people
he once referred to the battle as having been won upon the playing-
fields of Eton. This was certainly a most unfortunate slip, seeing
that all historians are agreed that it was fought on a certain field
situate a few miles from Brussels.

In one of his letters to the King, craving for a military appointment,
George urges that, whilst his next brother, the Duke of York,
commanded the army, and the younger branches of the family were either
generals or lieutenant-generals, he, who was Prince of Wales, remained
colonel of dragoons. And herein, could he have known it, lay the right
limitation of his life. As Royalty was and is constituted, it is for
the younger sons to take an active part in the services, whilst the
eldest son is left as the ruler of Society. Thousands and thousands of
guineas were given by the nation that the Prince of Wales, the Regent,
the King, might be, in the best sense of the word, ornamental. It is
not for us, at this moment, to consider whether Royalty, as a wholly
Pagan institution, is not out of place in a community of Christians.
It is enough that we should inquire whether the god, whom our grand-
fathers set up and worshipped and crowned with offerings, gave grace
to his worshippers.

That George was a moral man, in our modern sense, I do not for one
moment pretend. It were idle to deny that he was profligate. When he
died there were found in one of his cabinets more than a hundred locks
of women's hair. Some of these were still plastered with powder and
pomatum, some were mere little golden curls, such as grow low down
upon a girl's neck, others were streaked with grey. The whole of this
collection subsequently passed into the hands of Adam, the famous
Scotch henchman of the Regent. In his family, now resident in Glasgow,
it is treasured as an heirloom. I myself have been privileged to look
at all these locks of hair, and I have seen a clairvoyante take them
one by one, and, pinching them between her lithe fingers, tell of the
love that each symbolised. I have heard her tell of long rides by
night, of a boudoir hung with grass-green satin, and of a tryst at
Windsor; of one, the wife of a hussar at York, whose little lap-dog
used to bark angrily whenever the Regent came near his mistress; of a
milkmaid who, in her great simpleness, thought her child would one day
be King of England; of an arch-duchess with blue eyes, and a silly
little flautist from Portugal; of women that were wantons and fought
for his favour, great ladies that he loved dearly, girls that gave
themselves to him humbly. If we lay all pleasures at the feet of our
Prince, we can scarcely hope he will remain virtuous. Indeed, we do
not wish our Prince to be an examplar of godliness, but a perfect type
of happiness. It may be foolish of us to insist upon apolaustic
happiness, but that is the kind of happiness that we can ourselves,
most of us, best understand, and so we offer it to our ideal. In
Royalty we find our Bacchus, our Venus.

Certainly George was, in the practical sense of the word, a fine king.
His wonderful physique, his wealth, his brilliant talents, he gave
them all without stint to Society. From the time when, at Madame
Cornelys', he gallivanted with rips and demireps, to the time when he
sat, a stout and solitary old king, fishing in the artificial pond at
Windsor, his life was beautifully ordered. He indulged to the full in
all the delights that England could offer him. That he should have, in
his old age, suddenly abandoned his career of vigorous enjoyment is, I
confess, rather surprising. The Royal voluptuary generally remains
young to the last. No one ever tires of pleasure. It is the pursuit of
pleasure, the trouble to grasp it, that makes us old. Only the
soldiers who enter Capua with wounded feet leave it demoralised. And
yet George, who never had to wait or fight for a pleasure, fell
enervate long before his death. I can but attribute this to the
constant persecution to which he was subjected by duns and ministers,
parents and wives.

Not that I regret the manner in which he spent his last years. On the
contrary, I think it was exceedingly cosy. I like to think of the
King, at Windsor, lying a-bed all the morning in his darkened room,
with all the sporting papers scattered over his quilt and a little
decanter of the favourite cherry-brandy within easy reach. I like to
think of him sitting by his fire in the afternoon and hearing his
ministers ask for him at the door and piling another log upon the
fire, as he heard them sent away by his servant. It was not, I
acknowledge, a life to kindle popular enthusiasm. But most people knew
little of its mode. For all they knew, His Majesty might have been
making his soul or writing his memoirs. In reality, George was now
`too fat by far' to brook the observation of casual eyes. Especially
he hated to be seen by those whose memories might bear them back to
the time when he had yet a waist. Among his elaborate precautions of
privacy was a pair of avant-couriers, who always preceded his pony-
chaise in its daily progress through Windsor Great Park and had strict
commands to drive back any intruder. In The Veiled Majestic Man, Where
is the Graceful Despot of England? and other lampoons not extant, the
scribblers mocked his loneliness. At White's, one evening, four
gentlemen of high fashion vowed, over their wine, they would see the
invisible monarch. So they rode down next day to Windsor, and secreted
themselves in the branches of a holm-oak. Here they waited perdus,
beguiling the hours and the frost with their flasks. When dusk was
falling, they heard at last the chime of hoofs on the hard road, and
saw presently a splash of the Royal livery, as two grooms trotted by,
peering warily from side to side, and disappeared in the gloom. The
conspirators in the tree held their breath, till they caught the
distant sound of wheels. Nearer and louder came the sound, and soon
they saw a white, postillioned pony, a chaise and, yes, girth
immensurate among the cushions, a weary monarch, whose face, crimson
above the dark accumulation of his stock, was like some ominous
sunset.... He had passed them and they had seen him, monstrous and
moribund among the cushions. He had been borne past them like a
wounded Bacchanal. The King! The Regent!... They shuddered in the
frosty branches. The night was gathering and they climbed silently to
the ground, with an awful, indispellible image before their eyes.

You see, these gentlemen were not philosophers. Remember, also, that
the strangeness of their escapade, the cramped attitude they had been
compelled to maintain in the branches of the holm-oak, the intense
cold and their frequent resort to the flask must have all conspired to
exaggerate their emotions and prevent them from looking at things in a
rational way. After all, George had lived his life. He had lived more
fully than any other man. And it was better really that his death
should be preceded by decline. For every one, obviously, the most
desirable kind of death is that which strikes men down, suddenly, in
their prime. Had they not been so dangerous, railways would never have
ousted the old coaches from popular favour. But, however keenly we may
court such a death for ourselves or for those who are near and dear to
us, we must always be offended whenever it befall one in whom our
interest is aesthetic merely. Had his father permitted George to fight
at Waterloo, and had some fatal bullet pierced the padding of that
splendid breast, I should have been really annoyed, and this essay
would never have been written. Sudden death mars the unity of an
admirable life. Natural decline, tapering to tranquillity, is its
proper end. As a man's life begins, faintly, and gives no token of
childhood's intensity and the expansion of youth and the perfection of
manhood, so it should also end, faintly. The King died a death that
was like the calm conclusion of a great, lurid poem. Quievit.

Yes, his life was a poem, a poem in the praise of Pleasure. And it is
right that we should think of him always as the great voluptuary. Only
let us note that his nature never became, as do the natures of most
voluptuaries, corroded by a cruel indifference to the happiness of
others. When all the town was agog for the fe^te to be given by the
Regent in honour of the French King, Sheridan sent a forged card of
invitation to Romeo Coates, the half-witted dandy, who used at this
time to walk about in absurd ribbons and buckles, and was the butt of
all the streetsters. The poor fellow arrived at the entrance of
Carlton House, proud as a peacock, and he was greeted with a
tremendous cheer from the bystanding mob, but when he came to the
lackeys he was told that his card was a hoax and sent about his
business. The tears were rolling down his cheeks as he shambled back
into the street. The Regent heard later in the evening of this sorry
joke, and next day despatched a kindly-worded message, in which he
prayed that Mr. Coates would not refuse to come and `view the
decorations, nevertheless.' Though he does not appear to have treated
his inferiors with the extreme servility that is now in vogue, George
was beloved by the whole of his household, and many are the little
tales that are told to illustrate the kindliness and consideration he
showed to his valets and his jockeys and his stable-boys. That from
time to time he dropped certain of his favourites is no cause for
blaming him. Remember that a Great Personage, like a great genius, is
dangerous to his fellow-creatures. The favourites of Royalty live in
an intoxicant atmosphere. They become unaccountable for their
behaviour. Either they get beyond themselves, and, like Brummell,
forget that the King, their friend, is also their master, or they
outrun the constable and go bankrupt, or cheat at cards in order to
keep up their position, or do some other foolish thing that makes it
impossible for the King to favour them more. Old friends are generally
the refuge of unsociable persons. Remembering this also, gauge the
temptation that besets the very leader of Society to form fresh
friendships, when all the cleverest and most charming persons in the
land are standing ready, like supers at the wings, to come on and
please him! At Carlton House there was a constant succession of wits.
Minds were preserved for the Prince of Wales, as coverts are preserved
for him to-day. For him Sheridan would flash his best bon-mot, and
Theodore Hook play his most practical joke, his swiftest chansonette.
And Fox would talk, as only he could, of Liberty and of Patriotism,
and Byron would look more than ever like Isidore de Lara as he recited
his own bad verses, and Sir Walter Scott would `pour out with an
endless generosity his store of old-world learning, kindness, and
humour.' Of such men George was a splendid patron. He did not merely
sit in his chair, gaping princely at their wit and their wisdom, but
quoted with the scholars and argued with the statesmen and jested with
the wits. Doctor Burney, an impartial observer, says that he was
amazed by the knowledge of music that the Regent displayed in a half-
hour's discussion over the wine. Croker says that `the Prince and
Scott were the two most brilliant story-tellers, in their several
ways, he had ever happened to meet. Both exerted themselves, and it
was hard to say which shone the most.' Indeed His Royal Highness
appears to have been a fine conversationalist, with a wide range of
knowledge and great humour. We, who have come at length to look upon
stupidity as one of the most sacred prerogatives of Royalty, can
scarcely realise that, if George's birth had been never so humble, he
would have been known to us as a most admirable scholar and wit, or as
a connoisseur of the arts. It is pleasing to think of his love for the
Flemish school of painting, for Wilkie and Sir Thomas Lawrence. The
splendid portraits of foreign potentates that hang in the Banqueting
Room at Windsor bear witness to his sense of the canvas. In his later
years he exerted himself strenuously in raising the tone of the drama.
His love of the classics never left him. We know he was fond of
quoting those incomparable poets, Homer, at great length, and that he
was prominent in the `papyrus-craze.' Indeed, he inspired Society with
a love of something more than mere pleasure, a love of the `humaner
delights.' He was a giver of tone. At his coming, the bluff,
disgusting ways of the Tom and Jerry period gave way to those florid
graces that are still called Georgian.

A pity that George's predecessor was not a man, like the Prince
Consort, of strong chastening influence! Then might the bright
flamboyance which he gave to Society have made his reign more
beautiful than any other--a real renaissance. But he found London a
wild city of taverns and cock-pits, and the grace which in the course
of years he gave to his subjects never really entered into them. The
cock-pits were gilded and the taverns painted with colour, but the
heart of the city was vulgar, even as before. The simulation of higher
things did indeed give the note of a very interesting period, but how
shallow that simulation was and how merely it was due to George's own
influence, we may see in the light of what happened after his death.
The good that he had done died with him. The refinement he had laid
upon vulgarity fell away, like enamel from withered cheeks. It was
only George himself who had made the sham endure. The Victorian era
came soon, and the angels rushed in and drove the nymphs away and hung
the land with reps.

I have often wondered whether it was with a feeling that his influence
would be no more than life-long, that George allowed Carlton House,
that dear structure, the very work of his life and symbol of his
being, to be rased. I wish that Carlton House were still standing. I
wish we could still walk through those corridors, whose walls were
`crusted with ormolu,' and parquet-floors were `so glossy that, were
Narcissus to come down from heaven, he would, I maintain, need no
other mirror for his beaute'.' I wish that we could see the pier-
glasses and the girandoles and the twisted sofas, the fauns foisted
upon the ceiling and the rident goddesses along the wall. These things
would make George's memory dearer to us, help us to a fuller knowledge
of him. I am glad that the Pavilion still stands here in Brighton. Its
trite lawns and wanton cupolae have taught me much. As I write this
essay, I can see them from my window. Last night, in a crowd of
trippers and townspeople, I roamed the lawns of that dishonoured
palace, whilst a band played us tunes. Once I fancied I saw the shade
of a swaying figure and of a wine-red face.

Brighton, 1894.

The Pervasion of Rouge

Nay, but it is useless to protest. Artifice must queen it once more in
the town, and so, if there be any whose hearts chafe at her return,
let them not say, `We have come into evil times,' and be all for
resistance, reformation, or angry cavilling. For did the king's
sceptre send the sea retrograde, or the wand of the sorcerer avail to
turn the sun from its old course? And what man or what number of men
ever stayed that inexorable process by which the cities of this world
grow, are very strong, fail, and grow again? Indeed, indeed, there is
charm in every period, and only fools and flutterpates do not seek
reverently for what is charming in their own day. No martyrdom,
however fine, nor satire, however splendidly bitter, has changed by a
little tittle the known tendency of things. It is the times that can
perfect us, not we the times, and so let all of us wisely acquiesce.
Like the little wired marionettes, let us acquiesce in the dance.

For behold! The Victorian era comes to its end and the day of sancta
simplicitas is quite ended. The old signs are here and the portents to
warn the seer of life that we are ripe for a new epoch of artifice.
Are not men rattling the dice-box and ladies dipping their fingers in
the rouge-pot? At Rome, in the keenest time of her degringolade, when
there was gambling even in the holy temples, great ladies (does not
Lucian tell us?) did not scruple to squander all they had upon
unguents from Arabia. Nero's mistress and unhappy wife, Poppaea, of
shameful memory, had in her travelling retinue fifteen--or, as some
say, fifty--she-asses, for the sake of their milk, that was thought an
incomparable guard against cosmetics with poison in them. Last
century, too, when life was lived by candle-light, and ethics was but
etiquette, and even art a question of punctilio, women, we know, gave
the best hours of the day to the crafty farding of their faces and the
towering of their coiffures. And men, throwing passion into the wine-
bowl to sink or swim, turned out thought to browse upon the green
cloth. Cannot we even now in our fancy see them, those silent
exquisites round the long table at Brooks's, masked, all of them,
`lest the countenance should betray feeling,' in quinze masks, through
whose eyelets they sat peeping, peeping, while macao brought them
riches or ruin! We can see them, those silent rascals, sitting there
with their cards and their rouleaux and their wooden money-bowls, long
after the dawn had crept up St. James's and pressed its haggard face
against the window of the little club. Yes, we can raise their ghosts-
-and, more, we can see manywhere a devotion to hazard fully as meek as
theirs. In England there has been a wonderful revival of cards.
Baccarat may rival dead faro in the tale of her devotees. We have all
seen the sweet English cha^telaine at her roulette wheel, and ere long
it may be that tender parents will be writing to complain of the
compulsory baccarat in our public schools.

In fact, we are all gamblers once more, but our gambling is on a finer
scale than ever it was. We fly from the card-room to the heath, and
from the heath to the City, and from the City to the coast of the
Mediterranean. And just as no one seriously encourages the clergy in
its frantic efforts to lay the spirit of chance that has thus resurged
among us, so no longer are many faces set against that other great
sign of a more complicated life, the love for cosmetics. No longer is
a lady of fashion blamed if, to escape the outrageous persecution of
time, she fly for sanctuary to the toilet-table; and if a damosel,
prying in her mirror, be sure that with brush and pigment she can
trick herself into more charm, we are not angry. Indeed, why should we
ever have been? Surely it is laudable, this wish to make fair the ugly
and overtop fairness, and no wonder that within the last five years
the trade of the makers of cosmetics has increased immoderately--
twentyfold, so one of these makers has said to me. We need but walk
down any modish street and peer into the little broughams that flit
past, or (in Thackeray's phrase) under the bonnet of any woman we
meet, to see over how wide a kingdom rouge reigns.

And now that the use of pigments is becoming general, and most women
are not so young as they are painted, it may be asked curiously how
the prejudice ever came into being. Indeed, it is hard to trace folly,
for that it is inconsequent, to its start; and perhaps it savours too
much of reason to suggest that the prejudice was due to the tristful
confusion man has made of soul and surface. Through trusting so keenly
to the detection of the one by keeping watch upon the other, and by
force of the thousand errors following, he has come to think of
surface even as the reverse of soul. He seems to suppose that every
clown beneath his paint and lip-salve is moribund and knows it (though
in verity, I am told, clowns are as cheerful a class of men as any
other), that the fairer the fruit's rind and the more delectable its
bloom, the closer are packed the ashes within it. The very jargon of
the hunting-field connects cunning with a mask. And so perhaps came
man's anger at the embellishment of women--that lovely mask of enamel
with its shadows of pink and tiny pencilled veins, what must lurk
behind it? Of what treacherous mysteries may it not be the screen?
Does not the heathen lacquer her dark face, and the harlot paint her
cheeks, because sorrow has made them pale?

After all, the old prejudice is a-dying. We need not pry into the
secret of its birth. Rather is this a time of jolliness and glad
indulgence. For the era of rouge is upon us, and as only in an
elaborate era can man, by the tangled accrescency of his own pleasures
and emotions, reach that refinement which is his highest excellence,
and by making himself, so to say, independent of Nature, come nearest
to God, so only in an elaborate era is woman perfect. Artifice is the
strength of the world, and in that same mask of paint and powder,
shadowed with vermeil tinct and most trimly pencilled, is woman's

For see! We need not look so far back to see woman under the direct
influence of Nature. Early in this century, our grandmothers,
sickening of the odour of faded exotics and spilt wine, came out into
the daylight once more and let the breezes blow around their faces and
enter, sharp and welcome, into their lungs. Artifice they drove forth
and they set Martin Tupper upon a throne of mahogany to rule over
them. A very reign of terror set in. All things were sacrificed to the
fetish Nature. Old ladies may still be heard to tell how, when they
were girls, affectation was not; and, if we verify their assertion in
the light of such literary authorities as Dickens, we find that it is
absolutely true. Women appear to have been in those days utterly
natural in their conduct--flighty, fainting, blushing, gushing,
giggling, and shaking their curls. They knew no reserve in the first
days of the Victorian era. No thought was held too trivial, no emotion
too silly, to express. To Nature everything was sacrificed. Great
heavens! And in those barren days what influence did women exert! By
men they seem not to have been feared nor loved, but regarded rather
as `dear little creatures' or `wonderful little beings,' and in their
relation to life as foolish and ineffectual as the landscapes they did
in water-colour. Yet, if the women of those years were of no great
account, they had a certain charm, and they at least had not begun to
trespass upon men's ground; if they touched not thought, which is
theirs by right, at any rate they refrained from action, which is
ours. Far more serious was it when, in the natural trend of time, they
became enamoured of rinking and archery and galloping along the
Brighton Parade. Swiftly they have sped on since then from horror to
horror. The invasion of the tennis-courts and of the golf-links, the
seizure of the bicycle and of the typewriter, were but steps pre-
liminary in that campaign which is to end with the final victorious
occupation of St. Stephen's. But stay! The horrific pioneers of
womanhood who gad hither and thither and, confounding wisdom with the
device on her shield, shriek for the unbecoming, are doomed. Though
they spin their bicycle-treadles so amazingly fast, they are too late.
Though they scream victory, none follow them. Artifice, that fair
exile, has returned.

Yes, though the pioneers know it not, they are doomed already. For of
the curiosities of history not the least strange is the manner in
which two social movements may be seen to overlap, long after the
second has, in truth, given its death-blow to the first. And, in like
manner, as one has seen the limbs of a murdered thing in lively
movement, so we need not doubt that, though the voices of those who
cry out for reform be very terribly shrill, they will soon be hushed.
Dear Artifice is with us. It needed but that we should wait.

Surely, without any of my pleading, women will welcome their great and
amiable protectrix, as by instinct. For (have I not said?) it is upon
her that all their strength, their life almost, depends. Artifice's
first command to them is that they should repose. With bodily activity
their powder will fly, their enamel crack. They are butterflies who
must not flit, if they love their bloom. Now, setting aside the point
of view of passion, from which very many obvious things might be said
(and probably have been by the minor poets), it is, from the
intellectual point of view, quite necessary that a woman should
repose. Hers is the resupinate sex. On her couch she is a goddess, but
so soon as ever she put her foot to the ground--ho, she is the veriest
little sillypop, and quite done for. She cannot rival us in action,
but she is our mistress in the things of the mind. Let her not by
second-rate athletics, nor indeed by any exercise soever of the limbs,
spoil the pretty procedure of her reason. Let her be content to remain
the guide, the subtle suggester of what we must do, the strategist
whose soldiers we are, the little architect whose workmen.

`After all,' as a pretty girl once said to me, `women are a sex by
themselves, so to speak,' and the sharper the line between their
worldly functions and ours, the better. This greater swiftness and
less erring subtlety of mind, their forte and privilege, justifies the
painted mask that Artifice bids them wear. Behind it their minds can
play without let. They gain the strength of reserve. They become
important, as in the days of the Roman Empire were the Emperor's
mistresses, as was the Pompadour at Versailles, as was our Elizabeth.
Yet do not their faces become lined with thought; beautiful and
without meaning are their faces.

And, truly, of all the good things that will happen with the full
revival of cosmetics, one of the best is that surface will finally be
severed from soul. That damnable confusion will be solved by the
extinguishing of a prejudice which, as I suggest, itself created. Too
long has the face been degraded from its rank as a thing of beauty to
a mere vulgar index of character or emotion. We had come to troubling
ourselves, not with its charm of colour and line, but with such ques-
tions as whether the lips were sensuous, the eyes full of sadness, the
nose indicative of determination. I have no quarrel with physiognomy.
For my own part I believe in it. But it has tended to degrade the face
aesthetically, in such wise as the study of cheirosophy has tended to
degrade the hand. And the use of cosmetics, the masking of the face,
will change this. We shall gaze at a woman merely because she is beau-
tiful, not stare into her face anxiously, as into the face of a

How fatal it has been, in how many ways, this confusion of soul and
service! Wise were the Greeks in making plain masks for their mummers
to play in, and dunces we not to have done the same! Only the other
day, an actress was saying that what she was most proud of in her art-
-next, of course, to having appeared in some provincial pantomime at
the age of three--was the deftness with which she contrived, in parts
demanding a rapid succession of emotions, to dab her cheeks quite
quickly with rouge from the palm of her right hand or powder from the
palm of her left. Gracious goodness! why do not we have masks upon the
stage? Drama is the presentment of the soul in action. The mirror of
the soul is the voice. Let the young critics, who seek a cheap
reputation for austerity, by cavilling at `incidental music,' set
their faces rather against the attempt to justify inferior dramatic
art by the subvention of a quite alien art like painting, of any art,
indeed, whose sphere is only surface. Let those, again, who sneer, so
rightly, at the `painted anecdotes of the Academy,' censure equally
the writers who trespass on painters' ground. It is a proclaimed sin
that a painter should concern himself with a good little girl's
affection for a Scotch greyhound, or the keen enjoyment of their port
by elderly gentlemen of the early 'forties. Yet, for a painter to prod
the soul with his paint-brush is no worse than for a novelist to
refuse to dip under the surface, and the fashion of avoiding a
psychological study of grief by stating that the owner's hair turned
white in a single night, or of shame by mentioning a sudden rush of
scarlet to the cheeks, is as lamentable as may be. But! But with the
universal use of cosmetics and the consequent secernment of soul and
surface, upon which, at the risk of irritating a reader, I must again
insist, all those old properties that went to bolster up the ordinary
novel--the trembling lips, the flashing eyes, the determined curve of
the chin, the nervous trick of biting the moustache, aye, and the
hectic spot of red on either cheek--will be made spiflicate, as the
puppets were spiflicated by Don Quixote. Yes, even now Demos begins to
discern. The same spirit that has revived rouge, smote his mouth as it
grinned at the wondrous painter of mist and river, and now sends him
sprawling for the pearls that Meredith dived for in the deep waters of

Indeed the revival of cosmetics must needs be so splendid an
influence, conjuring boons innumerable, that one inclines almost to
mutter against that inexorable law by which Artifice must perish from
time to time. That such branches of painting as the staining of glass
or the illuminating of manuscripts should fall into disuse seems, in
comparison, so likely; these were esoteric arts; they died with the
monastic spirit. But personal appearance is art's very basis. The
painting of the face is the first kind of painting men can have known.
To make beautiful things--is it not an impulse laid upon few? But to
make oneself beautiful is an universal instinct. Strange that the
resultant art could ever perish! So fascinating an art too! So various
in its materials from stimmis, psimythium, and fuligo to bismuth and
arsenic, so simple in that its ground and its subject-matter are one,
so marvellous in that its very subject-matter becomes lovely when an
artist has selected it! For surely this is no idle nor fantastic
saying. To deny that `making up' is an art, on the pretext that the
finished work of its exponents depends for beauty and excellence upon
the ground chosen for the work, is absurd. At the touch of a true
artist, the plainest face turns comely. As subject-matter the face is
no more than suggestive, as ground, merely a loom round which the
beatus artifex may spin the threads of any golden fabric:

`Quae nunc nomen habent operosi signa Maronis
Pondus iners quondam duraque massa fuit.
Multa viros nescire decet; pars maxima rerum
Offendat, si non interiora tegas,'

and, as Ovid would seem to suggest, by pigments any tone may be set
aglow on a woman's cheek, from enamel the features take any form.
Insomuch that surely the advocates of soup-kitchens and free-libraries
and other devices for giving people what Providence did not mean them
to receive should send out pamphlets in the praise of self-
embellishment. For it will place Beauty within easy reach of many who
could not otherwise hope to attain to it.

But of course Artifice is rather exacting. In return for the repose
she forces--so wisely!--upon her followers when the sun is high or the
moon is blown across heaven, she demands that they should pay her long
homage at the sun's rising. The initiate may not enter lightly upon
her mysteries. For, if a bad complexion be inexcusable, to be ill-
painted is unforgivable; and, when the toilet is laden once more with
the fulness of its elaboration, we shall hear no more of the proper
occupation for women. And think, how sweet an energy, to sit at the
mirror of coquetry! See the dear merits of the toilet as shown upon
old vases, or upon the walls of Roman ruins, or, rather still, read
Bo"ttiger's alluring, scholarly description of `Morgenscenen im
Puttzimmer Einer Reichen Ro"merin.' Read of Sabina's face as she comes
through the curtain of her bed-chamber to the chamber of her toilet.
The slavegirls have long been chafing their white feet upon the marble
floor. They stand, those timid Greek girls, marshalled in little
battalions. Each has her appointed task, and all kneel in welcome as
Sabina stalks, ugly and frowning, to the toilet chair. Scaphion steps
forth from among them, and, dipping a tiny sponge in a bowl of hot
milk, passes it lightly, ever so lightly, over her mistress' face. The
Poppaean pastes melt beneath it like snow. A cooling lotion is poured
over her brow, and is fanned with feathers. Phiale comes after, a
clever girl, captured in some sea-skirmish on the Aegean. In her left
hand she holds the ivory box wherein are the phucus and that white
powder, psimythium; in her right a sheaf of slim brushes. With how
sure a touch does she mingle the colours, and in what sweet proportion
blushes and blanches her lady's upturned face. Phiale is the cleverest
of all the slaves. Now Calamis dips her quill in a certain powder that
floats, liquid and sable, in the hollow of her palm. Standing upon
tip-toe and with lips parted, she traces the arch of the eyebrows. The
slaves whisper loudly of their lady's beauty, and two of them hold up
a mirror to her. Yes, the eyebrows are rightly arched. But why does
Psecas abase herself? She is craving leave to powder Sabina's hair
with a fine new powder. It is made of the grated rind of the cedar-
tree, and a Gallic perfumer, whose stall is near the Circus, gave it
to her for a kiss. No lady in Rome knows of it. And so, when four
special slaves have piled up the headdress, out of a perforated box
this glistening powder is showered. Into every little brown ringlet it
enters, till Sabina's hair seems like a pile of gold coins. Lest the
breezes send it flying, the girls lay the powder with sprinkled attar.
Soon Sabina will start for the Temple of Cybele.

Ah! Such are the lures of the toilet that none will for long hold
aloof from them. Cosmetics are not going to be a mere prosaic remedy


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