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Wisdom, Wit, and Pathos of Ouida - Selected from the Works of Ouida
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WISDOM, WIT, AND PATHOS

OF

OUIDA.

WISDOM, WIT, AND PATHOS

SELECTED FROM THE WORKS

OF

OUIDA

BY F. SYDNEY MORRIS

PHILADELPHIA

J. B. LIPPINCOTT & CO.

1884



CONTENTS.

SELECTIONS FROM

PAGE

ARIADNE 1

CHANDOS 32

FOLLE-FARINE 48

IDALIA 97

A VILLAGE COMMUNE 106

PUCK 115

TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES 158

FAME 177

MOTHS 182, 354

IN A WINTER CITY 189

A LEAF IN THE STORM 205

A DOG OF FLANDERS 209

A BRANCH OF LILAC 216

SIGNA 220

TRICOTRIN 264

A PROVENCE ROSE 288

PIPISTRELLO 291

HELD IN BONDAGE 294

PASCAREL 296

IN MAREMMA 335

UNDER TWO FLAGS 363

STRATHMORE 417

FRIENDSHIP 427

WANDA 452



ARIADNE.

One grows to love the Roman fountains as sea-born men the sea. Go where you will there is the water; whether it foams by Trevi, where the green moss grows in it like ocean weed about the feet of the ocean god, or whether it rushes reddened by the evening light, from the mouth of an old lion that once saw Cleopatra; whether it leaps high in air, trying to reach the gold cross on St. Peter's or pours its triple cascade over the Pauline granite; whether it spouts out of a great barrel in a wall in old Trastevere, or throws up into the air a gossamer as fine as Arachne's web in a green garden way where the lizards run, or in a crowded corner where the fruit-sellers sit against the wall;—in all its shapes one grows to love the water that fills Rome with an unchanging melody all through the year.

* * *

And indeed I do believe all things and all traditions. History is like that old stag that Charles of France found out hunting in the woods once, with the bronze collar round its neck on which was written, "Caesar mihi hoc donavit." How one's fancy loves to linger about that old stag, and what a crowd of mighty shades come thronging at the very thought of him! How wonderful it is to think of—that quiet grey beast leading his lovely life under the shadows of the woods, with his hinds and their fawns about him, whilst Caesar after Caesar fell and generation on generation passed away and perished! But the sciolist taps you on the arm. "Deer average fifty years of life; it was some mere court trick of course—how easy to have such a collar made!" Well, what have we gained? The stag was better than the sciolist.

* * *

Life costs but little on these sunny, silent shores; four walls of loose stones, a roof of furze and brambles, a fare of fish and fruit and millet-bread, a fire of driftwood easily gathered—and all is told. For a feast pluck the violet cactus; for a holiday push the old red boat to sea, and set the brown sail square against the sun—nothing can be cheaper, perhaps few things can be better.

To feel the western breezes blow over that sapphire sea, laden with the fragrance of a score of blossoming isles. To lie under the hollow rocks, where centuries before the fisher folk put up that painted tablet to the dear Madonna, for all poor shipwrecked souls. To climb the high hills through the tangle of myrtle and tamarisk, and the tufted rosemary, with the kids bleating above upon some unseen height. To watch the soft night close in, and the warning lights shine out over shoals and sunken rocks, and the moon hang low and golden in the blue dusk at the end there under the arch of the boughs. To spend long hours in the cool, fresh, break of day, drifting with the tide, and leaping with bare free limbs into the waves, and lying outstretched upon them, glancing down to the depths below, where silvery fish are gliding and coral branches are growing, and pink shells are floating like rose-leaves, five fathoms low and more. Oh! a good life, and none better, abroad in the winds and weather, as Nature meant that every living thing should be, only, alas, the devil put it into the mind of man to build cities! A good life for the soul and the body: and from it this sea-born Joy came to seek the Ghetto!

* * *

With a visible and physical ill one can deal; one can thrust a knife into a man at need, one can give a woman money for bread or masses, one can run for medicine or a priest. But for a creature with a face like Ariadne's, who had believed in the old gods and found them fables, who had sought for the old altars and found them ruins, who had dreamed of Imperial Rome and found the Ghetto—for such a sorrow as this, what could one do?

* * *

Some said I might have been a learned man, had I taken more pains. But I think it was only their kindness. I have that twist in my brain, which is the curse of my countrymen—a sort of devilish quickness at doing well, that prevents us ever doing best; just the same sort of thing that makes our goatherds rhyme perfect sonnets, and keeps them dunces before the alphabet.

* * *

If our beloved Leopardi, instead of bemoaning his fate in his despair and sickening of his narrow home, had tried to see how many fair strange things there lay at his house door, had tried to care for the troubles of the men that hung the nets on the trees, and the innocent woes of the girl that carried the grass to the cow, and the obscure martyrdom of maternity and widowhood that the old woman had gone through who sat spinning on the top of the stairs, he would have found that his little borgo that he hated so for its dulness had all the comedies and tragedies of life lying under the sound of its tolling bells. He would not have been less sorrowful, for the greater the soul the sadder it is for the unutterable waste, the unending pain of life. But he would never have been dull: he would never have despised, and despising missed, the stories and the poems that were round him in the millet fields and the olive orchards. There is only one lamp which we can carry in our hand, and which will burn through the darkest night, and make the light of a home for us in a desert place: it is sympathy with everything that breathes.

* * *

Into other lands I wandered, then, and sought full half the world. When one wants but little, and has a useful tongue, and knows how to be merry with the young folk, and sorrowful with the old, and can take the fair weather with the foul, and wear one's philosophy like an easy boot, treading with it on no man's toe, and no dog's tail; why, if one be of this sort, I say, one is, in a great manner, independent of fortune; and the very little that one needs one can usually obtain. Many years I strayed about, seeing many cities and many minds, like Odysseus; being no saint, but, at the same time, being no thief and no liar.

* * *

Art was dear to me. Wandering through many lands, I had come to know the charm of quiet cloisters; the delight of a strange, rare volume; the interest of a quaint bit of pottery; the unutterable loveliness of some perfect painter's vision, making a glory in some dusky, world-forgotten church: and so my life was full of gladness here in Rome, where the ass's hoof ringing on a stone may show you that Vitruvius was right, where you had doubted him; or the sun shining down upon a cabbage garden, or a coppersmith's shreds of metal, may gleam on a signet ring of the Flavian women, or a broken vase that may have served vile Tullia for drink.

* * *

Art is, after nature, the only consolation that one has at all for living.

* * *

I have been all my life blown on by all sorts of weather, and I know there is nothing so good as the sun and the wind for driving ill-nature and selfishness out of one.

* * *

Anything in the open air is always well; it is because men now-a-days shut themselves up so much in rooms and pen themselves in stifling styes, where never the wind comes or the clouds are looked at, that puling discontent and plague-struck envy are the note of all modern politics and philosophies. The open air breeds Leonidas, the factory room Felix Pyat.

* * *

I lit my pipe. A pipe is a pocket philosopher, a truer one than Socrates. For it never asks questions. Socrates must have been very tiresome when one thinks of it.

* * *

I have had some skill in managing the minds of crowds; it is a mere knack, like any other; it belongs to no particular character or culture. Arnold of Brescia had it, and so had Masaniello. Lamartine had it, and so had Jack Cade.

* * *

It is of use to have a reputation for queerness; it gains one many solitary moments of peace.

* * *

Ersilia was a good soul, and full of kindliness; but charity is a flower not naturally of earthly growth, and it needs manuring with a promise of profit.

* * *

The soul of the poet is like a mirror of an astrologer: it bears the reflection of the past and of the future, and can show the secrets of men and gods; but all the same it is dimmed by the breath of those who stand by and gaze into it.

* * *

"You are not unhappy now?" I said to her in farewell.

She looked at me with a smile.

"You have given me hope; and I am in Rome, and I am young."

She was right. Rome may be only a ruin, and Hope but another name for deception and disappointment; but Youth is supreme happiness in itself, because all possibilities lie in it, and nothing in it is as yet irrevocable.

* * *

There never was an AEneas; there never was a Numa; well, what the better are we? We only lose the Trojan ship gliding into Tiber's mouth, when the woodland thickets that bloomed by Ostia were reddening with the first warmth of the day's sun; we only lose the Sabine lover going by the Sacred Way at night, and sweet Egeria weeping in the woods of Nemi; and are—by their loss—how much the poorer!

Perhaps all these things never were.

The little stone of truth, rolling through the many ages of the world, has gathered and grown grey with the thick mosses of romance and superstition. But tradition must always have that little stone of truth as its kernel; and perhaps he who rejects all, is likelier to be wrong than even foolish folk like myself who love to believe all, and who tread the new paths, thinking ever of the ancient stories.

* * *

There can be hardly any life more lovely upon earth than that of a young student of art in Rome. With the morning, to rise to the sound of countless bells and of innumerable streams, and see the silver lines of the snow new fallen on the mountains against the deep rose of the dawn, and the shadows of the night steal away softly from off the city, releasing, one by one, dome and spire, and cupola and roof, till all the wide white wonder of the place discloses itself under the broad brightness of full day; to go down into the dark cool streets, with the pigeons fluttering in the fountains, and the sounds of the morning chants coming from many a church door and convent window, and little scholars and singing children going by with white clothes on, or scarlet robes, as though walking forth from the canvas of Botticelli or Garofalo; to eat frugally, sitting close by some shop of flowers and birds, and watching all the while the humours and the pageants of the streets by quaint corners, rich with sculptures of the Renaissance, and spanned by arches of architects that builded for Agrippa, under grated windows with arms of Frangipanni or Colonna, and pillars that Apollodorus raised; to go into the great courts of palaces, murmurous with the fall of water, and fresh with green leaves and golden fruit, that rob the colossal statues of their gloom and gauntness, and thence into the vast chambers where the greatest dreams that men have ever had, are written on panel and on canvas, and the immensity and the silence of them all are beautiful and eloquent with dead men's legacies to the living, where the Hours and the Seasons frolic beside the Maries at the Sepulchre, and Adonis bares his lovely limbs, in nowise ashamed because S. Jerome and S. Mark are there; to study and muse, and wonder and be still, and be full of the peace which passes all understanding, because the earth is lovely as Adonis is, and life is yet unspent; to come out of the sacred light, half golden, and half dusky, and full of many blended colours, where the marbles and the pictures live, sole dwellers in the deserted dwellings of princes; to come out where the oranges are all aglow in the sunshine, and the red camellias are pushing against the hoary head of the old stone Hermes, and to go down the width of the mighty steps into the gay piazza, alive with bells tolling, and crowds laughing, and drums abeat, and the flutter of carnival banners in the wind; and to get away from it all with a full heart, and ascend to see the sun set from the terrace of the Medici, or the Pamfili, or the Borghese woods, and watch the flame-like clouds stream homewards behind S. Peter's, and the pines of Monte Mario grow black against the west, till the pale green of evening spreads itself above them, and the stars arise; and then, with a prayer—be your faith what it will—a prayer to the Unknown God, to go down again through the violet-scented air and the dreamful twilight, and so, with unspeakable thankfulness, simply because you live, and this is Rome—so homeward.

* * *

The strong instinctive veracity in her weighed the measure of her days, and gave them their right name. She was content, her life was full of the sweetness and strength of the arts, and of the peace of noble occupation and endeavour. But some true instinct in her taught her that this is peace, but is not more than peace. Happiness comes but from the beating of one heart upon another.

* * *

There was a high wall near, covered with peach-trees, and topped with wistaria and valerian, and the handsome wild caperplant; and against the wall stood rows of tall golden sunflowers late in their blooming; the sun they seldom could see for the wall, and it was pathetic always to me, as the day wore on, to watch the poor stately amber heads turn straining to greet their god, and only meeting the stones and the cobwebs, and the peach-leaves of their inexorable barrier.

They were so like us!—straining after the light, and only finding bricks and gossamer and wasps'-nests! But the sunflowers never made mistakes as we do: they never took the broken edge of a glass bottle or the glimmer of a stable lanthorn for the glory of Helios, and comforted themselves with it—as we can do.

* * *

Dear, where we love much we always forgive, because we ourselves are nothing, and what we love is all.

* * *

There is something in the silence of an empty room that sometimes has a terrible eloquence: it is like the look of coming death in the eyes of a dumb animal; it beggars words and makes them needless.

* * *

When you have said to yourself that you will kill any one, the world only seems to hold yourself and him, and God—who will see the justice done.

* * *

What is it that love does to a woman?—without it she only sleeps; with it, alone, she lives.

* * *

A great love is an absolute isolation, and an absolute absorption. Nothing lives or moves or breathes, save one life: for one life alone the sun rises and sets, the seasons revolve, the clouds bear rain, and the stars ride on high; the multitudes around cease to exist, or seem but ghostly shades; of all the sounds of earth there is but one voice audible; all past ages have been but the herald of one soul; all eternity can be but its heritage alone.

* * *

Is Nature kind or cruel? Who can tell?

The cyclone comes, or the earthquake; the great wave rises and swallows the cities and the villages, and goes back whence it came; the earth yawns, and devours the pretty towns and the sleeping children, the gardens where the lovers were sitting, and the churches where women prayed, and then the morass dries up and the gulf unites again. Men build afresh, and the grass grows, and the trees, and all the flowering seasons come back as of old. But the dead are dead: nothing changes that!

As it is with the earth, so it is with our life; our own poor, short, little life, that is all we can really call our own.

Calamities shatter, and despair engulfs it; and yet after a time the chasm seems to close; the storm wave seems to roll back; the leaves and the grass return; and we make new dwellings. That is, the daily ways of living are resumed, and the common tricks of our speech and act are as they used to be before disaster came upon us. Then wise people say, he or she has "got over it." Alas, alas! the drowned children will not come back to us; the love that was struck down, the prayer that was silenced, the altar that was ruined, the garden that was ravished, they are all gone for ever,—for ever, for ever! Yet we live; because grief does not always kill, and often does not speak.

* * *

I crept through the myrtles downward, away from the house where the statue lay shattered. The earliest of the nightingales of the year was beginning her lay in some leafy covert hard by, but never would he hear music in their piping again; never, never: any more than I should hear the song of the Faun in the fountain.

For the song that we hear with our ears is only the song that is sung in our hearts.

And his heart, I knew, would be for ever empty and silent, like a temple that has been burned with fire, and left standing, pitiful and terrible, in mockery of a lost religion, and of a forsaken god.

* * *

Men and women, losing the thing they love, lose much, but the artist loses far more; for him are slaughtered all the children of his dreams, and from him are driven all the fair companions of his solitude.

* * *

Love art alone, forsaking all other loves, and she will make you happy, with a happiness that shall defy the seasons and the sorrows of time, the pains of the vulgar and the changes of fortune, and be with you day and night, a light that is never dim. But mingle with it any human love—and art will look for ever at you with the eyes of Christ when he looked at the faithless follower as the cock crew.

* * *

And, indeed, there are always the poor: the vast throngs born century after century, only to know the pangs of life and of death, and nothing more. Methinks that human life is, after all, but like a human body, with a fair and smiling face, but all the limbs ulcered and cramped and racked with pain. No surgery of statecraft has ever known how to keep the fair head erect, yet give the trunk and the limbs health.

* * *

For in a great love there is a self-sustaining strength by which it lives, deprived of everything, as there are plants that live upon our barren ruins burned by the sun, and parched and shelterless, yet ever lifting green leaves to the light.

* * *

And indeed after all there is nothing more cruel than the impotence of genius to hold and keep those commonest joys and mere natural affections which dullards and worse than dullards rejoice in at their pleasure; the common human things, whose loss makes the great possessions of its imperial powers all valueless and vain as harps unstrung, or as lutes that are broken.

* * *

"This world of our own immediate day is weak and weary, because it is no longer young; yet it possesses one noble attribute—it has an acute and almost universal sympathy, which does indeed often degenerate into a false and illogical sentiment, yet serves to redeem an age of egotism. We have escaped both the gem-like hardness of the Pagan, and the narrowing selfishness of the Christian and the Israelite. We are sick for the woe of creation, and we wonder why such woe is ours, and why it is entailed on the innocent dumb beasts, that perish in millions for us, unpitied, day and night. Rome had no altar to Pity: it is the one God that we own. When that pity in us for all things is perfected, perhaps we shall have reached a religion of sympathy that will be purer than any religion the world has yet seen, and more productive. 'Save my country!' cried the Pagan to his deities. 'Save my soul!' cries the Christian at his altars. We, who are without a god, murmur to the great unknown forces of Nature: 'Let me save others some little portion of this pain entailed on all simple and guileless things, that are forced to live, without any fault of their own at their birth, or any will of their own in their begetting.'"

* * *

How should we have great Art in our day? We have no faith. Belief of some sort is the lifeblood of Art. When Athene and Zeus ceased to excite any veneration in the minds of men, sculpture and architecture both lost their greatness. When the Madonna and her son lost that mystery and divinity, which for the simple minds of the early painters they possessed, the soul went out of canvas and of wood. When we carve a Venus now, she is but a light woman; when we paint a Jesus now, it is but a little suckling, or a sorrowful prisoner. We want a great inspiration. We ought to find it in the things that are really beautiful, but we are not sure enough, perhaps, what is so. What does dominate us is a passion for nature; for the sea, for the sky, for the mountain, for the forest, for the evening storm, for the break of day. Perhaps when we are thoroughly steeped in this we shall reach greatness once more. But the artificiality of all modern life is against it; so is its cynicism. Sadness and sarcasm make a great Lucretius as a great Juvenal, and scorn makes a strong Aristophanes; but they do not make a Praxiteles and an Apelles; they do not even make a Raffaelle, or a Flaxman.

Art, if it be anything, is the perpetual uplifting of what is beautiful in the sight of the multitudes—the perpetual adoration of that loveliness, material and moral, which men in the haste and the greed of their lives are everlastingly forgetting: unless it be that it is empty and useless as a child's reed-pipe when the reed is snapt and the child's breath spent. Genius is obligation.

* * *

"No woman, I think, ever loved you as this woman does, whom you have left as I would not leave a dog," said Maryx, and something of his old ardent eloquence returned to him, and his voice rose and rang clearer as the courage in him consummated the self-sacrifice that he had set himself for her sake. "Have you ever thought what you have done? When you have killed Art in an artist, you have done the cruellest murder that earth can behold. Other and weaker natures than hers might forget, but she never. Her fame will be short-lived as that rose, for she sees but your face, and the world will tire of that, but she will not. She can dream no more. She can only remember. Do you know what that is to the artist?—it is to be blind and to weary the world; the world that has no more pity than you have! You think her consoled because her genius has not left her: are you a poet and yet do not know that genius is only a power to suffer more and to remember longer?—nothing else. You say to yourself that she will have fame, that will beguile her as the god came to Ariadne; perhaps; but across that fame, let it become what it may, there will settle for ever the shadow of the world's dishonour; it will be for ever poisoned, and cursed, and embittered by the scorn of fools, and the reproach of women, since by you they have been given their lashes of nettles, and by you have been given their by-word to hoot. She will walk in the light of triumph, you say, and therefore you have not hurt her; do you not see that the fiercer that light may beat on her, the sharper will the eyes of the world search out the brand with which you have burned her. For when do men forgive force in the woman? and when do women ever forgive the woman's greatness? and when does every cur fail to snarl at the life that is higher than its fellows? It is by the very genius in her that you have had such power to wound, such power to blight and to destroy. By so long as her name shall be spoken, so long will the wrong you have done her cling round it, to make it meet for reproach. A mere woman dies, and her woe and her shame die with her, and the earth covers her and them; but such shelter is denied for ever to the woman who has genius and fame; long after she is dead she will lie out on common soil, naked and unhouselled, for all the winds to blow on her and all the carrion birds to tear."

* * *

"No, no. That is accursed! To touch Art without a right to touch it, merely as a means to find bread—you are too honest to think of such a thing. Unless Art be adored for its own sake and purely, it must be left alone. Philip of Macedon had every free man's child taught Art! I would have every boy and girl taught its sacredness; so, we might in time get back some accuracy of taste in the public, some conscientiousness of production in the artist. If artistic creation be not a joy, an imperious necessity, an instinct of all the forces of the mind, let the boy go and plough, and the girl go and spin."

* * *

Maybe you turn your back on happiness. I have heard that wise people often do that. They look up so at the sun and the stars, that they set their foot on the lark that would have sung to them and woke them brightly in the morning—and kill it.

* * *

Landscape painting is the only original form of painting that modern times can boast. It has not exhausted itself yet; it is capable of infinite development. Ruysdael, Rembrandt, and the rest, did great scenes, it is true, but it has been left to our painters to put soul into the sunshine of a cornfield, and suggest a whole life of labour in a dull evening sky hanging over a brown ploughed upland, with the horses going tired homewards, and one grey figure trudging after them, to the hut on the edge of the moor. Of course the modern fancy of making nature answer to all human moods, like an Eoelian harp, is morbid and exaggerated, but it has a beauty in it, and a certain truth. Our tenderer souls take refuge in the country now, as they used to do in the cloister.

* * *

I think if people oftener saw the break of day they would vow oftener to keep that dawning day holy, and would not so often let its fair hours drift away with nothing done that were not best left undone.

* * *

We are the sons of our Time: it is not for us to slay our mother. Let us cover her dishonour if we see it, lest we should provoke the Erinyes.

* * *

How one loves Canova the man, and how one execrates Canova the artist! Surely never was a great repute achieved by so false a talent and so perfect a character. One would think he had been born and bred in Versailles instead of Treviso. He is called a naturalist! Look at his Graces! He is always Coysevax and Coustou at heart. Never purely classic, never frankly modern. Louis XIV. would have loved him better than Bernini.

* * *

If Alexander had believed himself a bubble of gas instead of the son of a god, he would not have changed the face of the world. Negation cannot be the parent of heroism, though it will produce an indifference that counterfeits it not ill, since Petronius died quite as serenely as ever did the martyrs of the Church.

* * *

Genius cannot escape the taint of its time more than a child the influence of its begetting. Augustus could have Horace and Ovid; he could never have had Homer and Milton.

* * *

I do not think with you. Talent takes the mark of its generation; genius stamps its time with its own impression. Virgil had the sentiment of an united Italy.

* * *

Tell her that past she thinks so great was only very like the Serapis which men worshipped so many ages in Theophilis, and which, when the soldiers struck it down at last, proved itself only a hollow Colossus with a colony of rats in its head that scampered right and left.

* * *

Falconet struck the death-note of the plastic arts when he said, "Our marbles have almost colour." That is just where we err. We are incessantly striving to make Sculpture at once a romance-writer and a painter, and of course she loses all dignity and does but seem the jay in borrowed plumes of sable. Conceits are altogether out of keeping with marble. They suit a cabinet painting or a piece of china. Bernini was the first to show the disease when he veiled the head of his Nile to indicate that the source was unknown.

* * *

Whosoever has any sort of fame has lighted a beacon that is always shining upon him, and can never more return into the cool twilight of privacy even when most he wishes. It is of these retributions—some call them compensations—of which life is full.

* * *

Men have forgotten the virile Pyrrhic dance, and have become incapable of the grace of the Ionian; their only dance is a Danse Macabre, and they are always hand in hand with a skeleton.

* * *

By night Rome is still a city for the gods; the shadows veil its wounds, the lustre silvers all its stones; its silence is haunted as no other silence is; if you have faith, there where the dark gloss of the laurel brushes the marble as in Agrippa's time, you will see the Immortals passing by chained with dead leaves and weeping.

* * *

A great love is an absolute isolation and an absolute absorption. Nothing lives or moves or breathes save one life; for one life alone the sun rises and sets, the seasons revolve, the clouds bear rain, and the stars ride on high; the multitudes around cease to exist, or seem but ghostly shades; of all the sounds of earth there is but one voice audible; all past ages have been but the herald of one soul; all eternity can be but its heritage alone.

* * *

Perhaps she was right: for a few hours of joy one owes the debt of years, and should give a pardon wide and deep as the deep sea.

This Love which she had made in his likeness, the tyrant and compeller of the world, was to her as the angel which brings perfect dreams and lets the tired sleeper visit heaven.

* * *

"And when the ship sails away without you?" I said brutally, and laughing still, because the mention of the schooner had broken the bonds of the silence that had held me against my will half paralysed, and I seemed to be again upon the Tyrrhene shore, seeing the white sail fade against the sky.

"And when that ship sails without you? The day will come. It always comes. You are my Ariadne; yet you forget Naxos! Oh, the day will come! you will kiss the feet of your idol then, and they will not stay; they will go away, away, away, and they will not tarry for your prayers or your tears—ay, it is always so. Two love, and one tires. And you know nothing of that; you who would have love immortal."

And I laughed again, for it seemed to me so horrible, and I was half mad.

No doubt it would have been kinder had I struck my knife down into her breast with her words unspoken.

All shade of colour forsook her face; only the soft azure of the veins remained, and changed to an ashen grey. She shook with a sudden shiver from head to foot as the name she hated, the name of Ariadne, fell upon her ear. The icebolt had fallen in her paradise. A scared and terrible fear dilated her eyes, that opened wide in the amaze of some suddenly stricken creature.

"And when he leaves you?" I said, with cruel iteration. "Do you remember what you told me once of the woman by the marshes by the sea, who had nothing left by which to remember love save wounds that never healed? That is all his love will leave you by-and-by."

"Ah, never!"

She spoke rather to herself than me. The terror was fading out of her eyes, the blood returning to her face; she was in the sweet bewildered trance of that blind faith which goes wherever it is led, and never asks the end nor dreads the fate. Her love was deathless: how could she know that his was mortal?

"You are cruel," she said, with her mouth quivering, but the old, soft, grand courage in her eyes. "We are together for ever; he has said so. But even if—if—I only remembered him by wounds, what would that change in me? He would have loved me. If he would wish to wound me, so he should. I am his own as the dogs are. Think!—he looked at me, and all the world grew beautiful; he touched me, and I was happy—I, who never had been happy in my life. You look at me strangely; you speak harshly. Why? I used to think, surely you would be glad——"

I gripped my knife and cursed him in my soul.

How could one say to her the thing that he had made her in man's and woman's sight?

"I thought you would be glad," she said, wistfully, "and I would have told you long ago—myself. I do not know why you should look so. Perhaps you are angered because I seemed ungrateful to you and Maryx. Perhaps I was so. I have no thought—only of him. What he wished, that I did. Even Rome itself was for me nothing, and the gods—there is only one for me; and he is with me always. And I think the serpents and the apes are gone for ever from the tree, and he only hears the nightingales—now. He tells me so often. Very often. Do you remember I used to dream of greatness for myself—ah, what does it matter! I want nothing now. When he looks at me—the gods themselves could give me nothing more."

And the sweet tranquil radiance came back into her eyes, and her thoughts wandered into the memories of this perfect passion which possessed her, and she forgot that I was there.

My throat was choking; my eyes felt blind; my tongue clove to my mouth. I, who knew what that end would be as surely as I knew the day then shining would sink into the earth, I was dumb, like a brute beast—I, who had gone to take his life.

Before this love which knew nothing of the laws of mankind, how poor and trite and trivial looked those laws! What could I dare to say to her of shame? Ah! if it had only been for any other's sake! But he,—perhaps he did not lie to her; perhaps he did only hear the nightingales with her beside him; but how soon their song would pall upon his ear, how soon would he sigh for the poisonous kiss of the serpents! I knew! I knew!

I stood heart-broken in the warm light that was falling through the casement and streaming towards her face. What could I say to her? Men harder and sterner and surer in every way of their own judgment than I was of mine no doubt would have shaken her with harsh hands from that dream in which she had wandered to her own destruction.

No doubt a sterner moralist than I would have had no pity, and would have hurled on her all the weight of those bitter truths of which she was so ignorant; would have shown her that pit of earthly scorn upon whose brink she stood; would have torn down all that perfect, credulous faith of hers, which could have no longer life nor any more lasting root than the flowering creeper born of a summer's sun, and gorgeous as the sunset's hues, and clinging about a ruin-mantling decay. Oh yes, no doubt. But I am only weak, and of little wisdom, and never certain that the laws and ways of the world are just, and never capable of long giving pain to any harmless creature, least of all to her.

She seemed to rouse herself with effort to remember I was there, and turned on me her eyes that were suffused and dreamful with happiness, like a young child's with sleep.

"I must have seemed so thankless to you: you were so very good to me," she said, with that serious sweetness of her rare smile that I had used to watch for, as an old dog watches for his young owner's—an old dog that is used to be forgotten, but does not himself forget, though he is old. "I must have seemed so thankless; but he bade me be silent, and I have no law but him. After that night when we walked in Nero's fields, and I went home and learned he loved me;—do you not see I forgot that there was any one in all the world except himself and me? It must always be so—at least, so I think. Oh, how true that poem was! Do you remember how he read it that night after Mozart amongst the roses by the fire? What use was endless life and all the lore of the spirits and seers to Sospitra? I was like Sospitra, till he came; always thinking of the stars and the heavens in the desert all alone, and always wishing for life eternal, when it is only life together that is worth a wish or a prayer. But why do you look at me so? Perhaps you do not understand. Perhaps I am selfish."

This was all that it seemed to her—that I did not understand. Could she see the tears of blood that welled up in my eyes? Could she see the blank despair that blinded my sight? Could she see the frozen hand that I felt clutching at my heart and benumbing it? I did not understand; that was all that it seemed to her.

She was my Ariadne, born again to suffer the same fate. I saw the future: she could not. I knew that he would leave her as surely as the night succeeds the day. I knew that his passion—if passion, indeed, it were, and not only the mere common vanity of subjugation and possession—would pall on him and fade out little by little, as the stars fade out of the grey morning skies. I knew, but I had not the courage to tell her.

Men were faithful only to the faithless. But what could she know of this?

"Thinking of the stars and of the heavens in the desert all alone! Yes!" I cried; and the bonds of my silence were unloosed, and the words rushed from my lips like a torrent from between the hills.

"Yes; and never to see the stars any more, and to lose for ever the peace of the desert—that, you think, is gain! Oh, my dear! what can I say to you? What can I say? You will not believe if I tell you. I shall seem a liar and a prophet of false woe. I shall curse when I would bless. What can I say to you? Athene watched over you. You were of those who dwell alone, but whom the gods are with. You had the clue and the sword, and they are nothing to you; you lose them both at his word, at the mere breath of his lips, and know no god but his idle law, that shifts as the winds of the sea. And you count that gain? Oh, just Heaven! Oh, my dear, my heart is broken; how can I tell you? One man loved you who was great and good, to whom you were a sacred thing, who would have lifted you up in heaven, and never have touched too roughly a single hair of your head; and you saw him no more than the very earth that you trod; he was less to you than the marbles he wrought in; and he suffers: and what do you care? You have had the greatest wrong that a woman can have, and you think it the greatest good, the sweetest gift! He has torn your whole life down as a cruel hand tears a rose in the morning light, and you rejoice! For what do you know? He will kill your soul, and still you will kiss his hand. Some women are so. When he leaves you, what will you do? For you there will only be death. The weak are consoled, but the strong never. What will you do? What will you do? You are like a child that culls flowers at the edge of a snake's breeding-pit. He waked you—yes!—to send you in a deeper sleep, blind and dumb to everything but his will. Nay, nay! that is not your fault. Love does not come at will; and of goodness it is not born, nor of gratitude, nor of any right or reason on the earth. Only that you should have had no thought of us—no thought at all—only of him by whom your ruin comes; that seems hard! Ay, it is hard. You stood just so in my dream, and you hesitated between the flower of passion and the flower of death. Ah, well might Love laugh. They grow on the same bough; Love knows that. Oh, my dear, my dear, I come too late! Look! he has done worse than murder, for that only kills the body; but he has killed the soul in you. He will crush out all that came to you from heaven; all your mind and your hopes and your dreams, and all the mystery in you, that we poor half-dumb fools call genius, and that made the common daylight above you full of all beautiful shapes and visions that our duller eyes could not see as you went. He has done worse than murder, and I came to take his life. Ay, I would slay him now as I would strangle the snake in my path. And even for this I come too late. I cannot do you even this poor last service. To strike him dead would only be to strike you too. I come too late! Take my knife, lest I should see him—take it. Till he leaves you I will wait."

I drew the fine, thin blade across my knee and broke it in two pieces, and threw the two halves at her feet.

Then I turned without looking once at her, and went away.

I do not know how the day waned and passed; the skies seemed red with fire, and the canals with blood. I do not know how I found my road over the marble floors and out into the air. I only remember that I felt my way feebly with my hands, as though the golden sunlight were all darkness, and that I groped my way down the steps and out under an angle of the masonry, staring stupidly upon the gliding waters.

I do not know whether a minute had gone by or many hours, when some shivering sense of sound made me look up at the casement above, a high, vast casement fretted with dusky gold and many colours, and all kinds of sculptured stone. The sun was making a glory as of jewels on its painted panes. Some of them were open; I could see within the chamber Hilarion's fair and delicate head, and his face drooped with a soft smile. I could see her, with all her loveliness, melting, as it were, into his embrace, and see her mouth meet his.

If I had not broken the steel!——

I rose from the stones and cursed them, and departed from the place as the moon rose.

* * *

He was silent; the moonlight poured down between us white and wide; there lay a little dead bird on the stones, I remember, a redbreast, stiff and cold. The people traffic in such things here, in the square of Agrippa; it had fallen, doubtless, off some market stall.

Poor little robin! All the innocent sweet woodland singing-life of it was over, over in agony, and not a soul in all the wide earth was the better for its pain; not even the huckster who had missed making his copper coin by it. Woe is me; the sorrow of the world is great.

I pointed to it where it lay, poor little soft huddled heap of bright feathers; there is no sadder sight than a dead bird, for what lovelier life can there be than a bird's life, free in the sun and the rain, in the blossom and foliage?

"Make the little cold throat sing at sunrise," I said to him. "When you can do that, then think to undo what you have done."

"She will forget:—"

"You know she never will forget. There is your crime."

"She will have her art——"

"Will the dead bird sing?"

* * *

Here, if anywhere in the "divine city of the Vatican"—for in truth a city and divine it is, and well has it been called so—here, if anywhere, will wake the soul of the artist; here, where the very pavement bears the story of Odysseus, and each passage-way is a Via Sacra, and every stone is old with years whose tale is told by hundreds or by thousands, and the wounded Adonis can be adored beside the tempted Christ of Sistine, and the serious beauty of the Erythean Sibyl lives beside the laughing grace of ivy-crowned Thalia, and the Jupiter Maximus frowns on the mortals made of earth's dust, and the Jehovah who has called forth woman meets the first smile of Eve. A Divine City indeed, holding in its innumerable chambers and its courts of granite and of porphyry all that man has ever dreamed of, in his hope and in his terror, of the Unknown God.

* * *

The days of joyous, foolish mumming came—the carnival mumming that as a boy I had loved so well, and that, ever since I had come and stitched under my Apollo and Crispin, I had never been loth to meddle and mix in, going mad with my lit taper, like the rest, and my whistle of the Befana, and all the salt and sport of a war of wits such as old Rome has always heard in midwinter since the seven nights of the Saturnalia.

Dear Lord! to think that twice a thousand years ago and more, along these banks of Tiber, and down in the Velabrum and up the Sacred Way, men and women and children were leaping, and dancing, and shouting, and electing their festal king, and exchanging their new-year gifts of wax candles and little clay figures: and that now-a-days we are doing just the same thing in the same season, in the same places, only with all the real faunic joyfulness gone out of it with the old slain Saturn, and a great deal of empty and luxurious show come in instead! It makes one sad, mankind looks such a fool.

Better be Heine's fool on the seashore, who asks the winds their "wherefore" and their "whence." You remember Heine's poem—that one in the "North Sea" series, that speaks of the man by the shore, and asks what is Man, and what shall become of him, and who lives on high in the stars? and tells how the waves keep on murmuring and the winds rising, the clouds scudding before the breeze, and the planets shining so cold and so far, and how on the shore a fool waits for an answer, and waits in vain. It is a terrible poem, and terrible because it is true.

Every one of us stands on the brink of the endless sea that is Time and is Death; and all the blind, beautiful, mute, majestic forces of creation move around us and yet tell us nothing.

It is wonderful that, with this awful mystery always about us, we can go on on our little lives as cheerfully as we do; that on the edge of that mystical shore we yet can think so much about the crab in the lobster-pot, the eel in the sand, the sail in the distance, the child's face at home.

Well, no doubt it is heaven's mercy that we can do so; it saves from madness such thinking souls as are amongst us.

* * *

"My dear, of love there is very little in the world. There are many things that take its likeness: fierce unstable passions and poor egotisms of all sorts, vanities too, and many other follies—Apate and Philotes in a thousand masquerading characters that gain great Love discredit. The loves of men, and women too, my dear, are hardly better very often than Minos' love for Skylla; you remember how he threw her down from the stern of his vessel when he had made the use of her he wished, and she had cut the curls of Nisias. A great love does not of necessity imply a great intelligence, but it must spring out of a great nature, that is certain; and where the heart has spent itself in much base petty commerce, it has no deep treasury of gold on which to draw; it is bankrupt from its very over-trading. A noble passion is very rare; believe me; as rare as any other very noble thing."

* * *

"Do you call him a poet because he has the trick of a sonorous cadence and of words that fall with the measure of music, so that youths and maidens recite them for the vain charm of their mere empty sound? It is a lie—it is a blasphemy. A poet! A poet suffers for the meanest thing that lives; the feeblest creature dead in the dust is pain to him; his joy and his sorrow alike outweigh tenfold the joys and the sorrows of men; he looks on the world as Christ looked on Jerusalem, and weeps; he loves, and all heaven and all hell are in his love; he is faithful unto death, because fidelity alone can give to love the grandeur and the promise of eternity; he is like the martyrs of the church who lay upon the wheel with their limbs racked, yet held the roses of Paradise in their hands and heard the angels in the air. That is a poet; that is what Dante was, and Shelley and Milton and Petrarca. But this man? this singer of the senses, whose sole lament is that the appetites of the body are too soon exhausted; this languid and curious analysist who rends the soul aside with merciless cruelty, and puts away the quivering nerves with cold indifference, once he has seen their secrets?—this a poet? Then so was Nero harping! Accursed be the book and all the polished vileness that his verses ever palmed off on men by their mere tricks of sound. This a poet! As soon are the swine that rout the garbage, the lions of the Apocalypse by the throne of God!"

* * *

The glad water sparkles and ripples everywhere; above the broad porphyry basins butterflies of every colour flutter, and swallows fly; lovers and children swing balls of flowers, made as only our Romans know how to make them; the wide lawns under the deep-shadowed avenues are full of blossoms; the air is full of fragrance; the palms rise against a cloudless sky; the nights are lustrous; in the cool of the great galleries the statues seem to smile: so spring had been to me always; but now the season was without joy, and the scent of the flowers on the wind hurt me as it smote my nostrils.

For a great darkness seemed always between me and the sun, and I wondered that the birds could sing, and the children run amongst the blossoms—the world being so vile.

* * *

Women hope that the dead love may revive; but men know that of all dead things none are so past recall as a dead passion.

The courtesan may scourge it with a whip of nettles back into life; but the innocent woman may wet it for ever with her tears, she will find no resurrection.

* * *

Art is an angel of God, but when Love has entered the soul, the angel unfolds its plumes and takes flight, and the wind of its wings withers as it passes. He whom it has left misses the angel at his ear, but he is alone for ever. Sometimes it will seem to him then that it had been no angel ever, but a fiend that lied, making him waste his years in a barren toil, and his nights in a joyless passion; for there are two things beside which all Art is but a mockery and a curse: they are a child that is dying and a love that is lost.

* * *

Love art alone, forsaking all other loves, and she will make you happy, with a happiness that shall defy the seasons and the sorrows of time, the pains of the vulgar and the changes of fortune, and be with you day and night, a light that is never dim. But mingle with it any human love—and art will look for ever at you with the eyes of Christ when he looked at the faithless follower as the cock crew.

* * *

The little garden of the Rospigliosi seems to have all mediaeval Rome shut in it, as you go up the winding stairs with all their lichens and water-plants and broken marbles, into the garden itself, with its smooth emerald turf and spreading magnolias, and broad fish-ponds, and orange and citron trees, and the frescoed building at the end where Guido's Aurora floats in unchanging youth, and the buoyant Hours run before the sun.

Myself I own I care not very much for that Aurora; she is no incarnation of the morning, and though she floats wonderfully and does truly seem to move, yet is she in nowise ethereal nor suggestive of the dawn either of day or life. When he painted her, he must have been in love with some lusty taverner's buxom wife busked in her holiday attire.

But whatever one may think of the famed Aurora, of the loveliness of her quiet garden home, safe in the shelter of the stately palace walls, there can be no question; the little place is beautiful, and sitting in its solitude with the brown magnolia fruit falling on the grass, and the blackbirds pecking between the primroses, all the courtly and superb pageant of the dead ages will come trooping by you, and you will fancy that the boy Metastasio is reciting strophes under yonder Spanish chestnut-tree, and cardinals, and nobles, and gracious ladies, and pretty pages are all listening, leaning against the stone rail of the central water.

For this is the especial charm and sorcery of Rome, that, sitting idly in her beautiful garden-ways, you can turn over a score of centuries and summon all their pomp and pain before you, as easily as little children can turn over the pages of a coloured picture-book until their eyes are dazzled.



CHANDOS.

It is so easy for the preacher, when he has entered the days of darkness, to tell us to find no flavour in the golden fruit, no music in the song of the charmer, no spell in eyes that look love, no delirium in the soft dreams of the lotus—so easy when these things are dead and barren for himself, to say they are forbidden! But men must be far more or far less than mortal ere they can blind their eyes, and dull their senses, and forswear their nature, and obey the dreariness of the commandment; and there is little need to force the sackcloth and the serge upon us. The roses wither long before the wassail is over, and there is no magic that will make them bloom again, for there is none that renews us—youth. The Helots had their one short, joyous festival in their long year of labour; life may leave us ours. It will be surely to us, long before its close, a harder tyrant and a more remorseless taskmaster than ever was the Lacedemonian to his bond-slaves,—bidding us make bricks without straw, breaking the bowed back, and leaving us as our sole chance of freedom the hour when we shall turn our faces to the wall—and die.

* * *

Society, that smooth and sparkling sea, is excessively difficult to navigate; its surf looks no more than champagne foam, but a thousand quicksands and shoals lie beneath: there are breakers ahead for more than half the dainty pleasure-boats that skim their hour upon it; and the foundered lie by millions, forgotten, five fathoms deep below. The only safe ballast upon it is gold dust; and if stress of weather come on you, it will swallow you without remorse. Trevenna had none of this ballast; he had come out to sea in as ticklish a cockle-shell as might be; he might go down any moment, and he carried no commission, being a sort of nameless, unchartered rover: yet float he did, securely.

* * *

Corals, pink and delicate, rivet continents together; ivy tendrils, that a child may break, bold Norman walls with bonds of iron; a little ring, a toy of gold, a jeweller's bagatelle, forges chains heavier than the galley-slave's: so a woman's look may fetter a lifetime.

* * *

He had passed through life having escaped singularly all the shadows that lie on it for most men; and he had, far more than most, what may be termed the faculty for happiness—a gift, in any temperament, whose wisdom and whose beauty the world too little recognises.

* * *

A temperament that is never earnest is at times well-nigh as wearisome as a temperament that is never gay; there comes a time when, if you can never touch to any depth, the ceaseless froth and brightness of the surface will create a certain sense of impatience, a certain sense of want.

* * *

A straw misplaced will make us enemies; a millstone of benefits hung about his neck may fail to anchor down by us a single friend. We may lavish what we will—kindly thought, loyal service, untiring aid, and generous deed—and they are all but as oil to the burning, as fuel to the flame, when spent upon those who are jealous of us.

* * *

Truth is a rough, honest, helter-skelter terrier, that none like to see brought into their drawing-rooms, throwing over all their dainty little ornaments, upsetting their choicest Dresden, that nobody guessed was cracked till it fell with the mended side uppermost, and keeping every one in incessant tremor lest the next snap should be at their braids or their boots, of which neither the varnish nor the luxuriance will stand rough usage.

* * *

When will men learn to know that the power of genius, and the human shell in which it chances to be harboured, are as distinct as is the diamond from the quartz-bed in which they find it?

* * *

Had he embraced dishonour, and accepted the rescue that a lie would have lent him, this misery in its greatest share had never been upon him. He would have come hither with riches about him, and the loveliness he had worshipped would have been his own beyond the touch of any rival's hand. Choosing to cleave to the old creeds of his race, and passing, without a backward glance, into the paths of honour and of justice, it was thus with him now. Verily, virtue must be her own reward, as in the Socratic creed; for she will bring no other dower than peace of conscience in her gift to whosoever weds her. "I have loved justice, and fled from iniquity; wherefore here I die in exile," said Hildebrand upon his death-bed. They will be the closing words of most lives that have followed truth.

* * *

There are liberties sweeter than love; there are goals higher than happiness.

Some memory of them stirred in him there, with the noiseless flow of the lingering water at his feet, and above the quiet of the stars; the thoughts of his youth came back to him, and his heart ached with their longing.

Out of the salt depths of their calamity men had gathered the heroisms of their future; out of the desert of their exile they had learned the power to return as conquerors. The greater things within him awakened from their lethargy; the innate strength so long untried, so long lulled to dreamy indolence and rest, uncoiled from its prostration; the force that would resist and, it might be, survive, slowly came upon him, with the taunts of his foe. It was possible that there was that still in him which might be grander and truer to the ambitions of his imaginative childhood under adversity, than in the voluptuous sweetness of his rich and careless life. It was possible, if—if he could once meet the fate he shuddered from, once look at the bitterness of the life that waited for him, and enter on its desolate and arid waste without going back to the closed gates of his forfeited paradise to stretch his limbs within their shadow once more ere he died.

There is more courage needed oftentimes to accept the onward flow of existence, bitter as the waters of Marah, black and narrow as the channel of Jordan, than there is ever needed to bow down the neck to the sweep of the death-angel's sword.

* * *

He accepted the desolation of his life, for the sake of all beyond life, greater than life, which looked down on him from the silence of the night.

* * *

It was sunset in Venice,—that supreme moment when the magical flush of light transfigures all, and wanderers whose eyes have long ached with the greyness and the glare of northward cities gaze and think themselves in heaven. The still waters of the lagunes, the marbles and the porphyry and the jasper of the mighty palaces, the soft grey of the ruins all covered with clinging green and the glowing blossoms of creepers, the hidden antique nooks where some woman's head leaned out of an arched casement, like a dream of the Dandolo time when the Adriatic swarmed with the returning galleys laden with Byzantine spoil, the dim, mystic, majestic walls that towered above the gliding surface of the eternal water, once alive with flowers, and music, and the gleam of golden tresses, and the laughter of careless revellers in the Venice of Goldoni, in the Venice of the Past;—everywhere the sunset glowed with the marvel of its colour, with the wonder of its warmth.

Then a moment, and it was gone. Night fell with the hushed shadowy stillness that belongs to Venice alone; and in the place of the riot and luxuriance of colour there was the tremulous darkness of the young night, with the beat of an oar on the water, the scent of unclosing carnation-buds, the white gleam of moonlight, and the odour of lilies-of-the-valley blossoming in the dark archway of some mosaic-lined window.

* * *

The ruin that had stripped him of all else taught him to fathom the depths of his own attainments. He had in him the gifts of a Goethe; but it was only under adversity that these reached their stature and bore their fruit.

* * *

The words were true. The bread of bitterness is the food on which men grow to their fullest stature; the waters of bitterness are the debatable ford through which they reach the shores of wisdom; the ashes boldly grasped and eaten without faltering are the price that must be paid for the golden fruit of knowledge. The swimmer cannot tell his strength till he has gone through the wild force of opposing waves; the great man cannot tell the might of his hand and the power of his resistance till he has wrestled with the angel of adversity, and held it close till it has blessed him.

* * *

The artist was true to his genius; he knew it a greater gift than happiness; and as his hands wandered by instinct over the familiar notes, the power of his kingdom came to him, the passion of his mistress was on him, and the grandeur of the melody swelled out to mingle with the night, divine as consolation, supreme as victory.

* * *

The man who puts chains on another's limbs is only one shade worse than he who puts fetters on another's free thoughts and on another's free conscience.

* * *

One fetter of tradition loosened, one web of superstition broken, one ray of light let in on darkness, one principle of liberty secured, are worth the living for, he mused. Fame!—it is the flower of a day, that dies when the next sun rises. But to do something, however little, to free men from their chains, to aid something, however faintly, the rights of reason and of truth, to be unvanquished through all and against all, these may bring one nearer the pure ambitions of youth.

Happiness dies as age comes to us; it sets for ever, with the suns of early years: yet perhaps we may keep a higher thing beside which it holds but a brief loyalty, if to ourselves we can rest true, if for the liberty of the world we can do anything.

* * *

Do not believe that happiness makes us selfish; it is a treason to the sweetest gift of life. It is when it has deserted us that it grows hard to keep all the better things in us from dying in the blight.

* * *

"Coleridge cried, 'O God, how glorious it is to live!' Renan asks, 'O God, when will it be worth while to live?' In nature we echo the poet; in the world we echo the thinker."

* * *

"Yet you are greater than you were then," he said, slowly. "I know it,—I who am but a wine-cup rioter and love nothing but my summer-day fooling. You are greater; but the harvest you sow will only be reaped over your grave."

"I should be content could I believe it would be reaped then."

"Be content then. You may be so."

"God knows! Do you not think Marsy and Delisle de Sales and Linguet believed, as they suffered in their dungeons for mere truth of speech, that the remembrance of future generations would solace them? Bichat gave himself to premature death for science' sake; does the world once in a year speak his name? Yet how near those men are to us, to be forgotten! A century, and history will scarce chronicle them."

"Then why give the wealth of your intellect to men?"

"Are there not higher things than present reward and the mere talk of tongues? The monstrari digito were scarce a lofty goal. We may love Truth and strive to serve her, disregarding what she brings us. Those who need a bribe from her are not her true believers."

Philippe d'Orvale tossed his silvery hair from his eyes,—eyes of such sunny lustre still.

"Ay! And those who held that sublime code of yours, that cleaving to truth for truth's sake, where are they? How have they fared in every climate and in every age? Stoned, crucified, burned, fettered, broken on the vast black granite mass of the blind multitude's brutality, of the priesthood's curse and craft!"

"True! Yet if through us, ever so slightly, the bondage of the creeds' traditions be loosened from the lives they stifle, and those multitudes—so weary, so feverish, so much more to be pitied than condemned—become less blind, less brute, the sacrifice is not in vain."

"In your sense, no. But the world reels back again into darkness as soon as a hand has lifted it for a while into light. Men hold themselves purified, civilised; a year of war,—and lust and bloodthirst rage untamed in all their barbarism; a taste of slaughter,—and they are wolves again! There was truth in the old feudal saying, 'Oignez vilain, il vous poindra; poignez vilain, il vous oindra.' Beat the multitudes you talk of with a despot's sword, and they will lick your feet; touch them with a Christ-like pity, and they will nail you to the cross."

There was terrible truth in the words: this man of princely blood, who disdained all sceptres and wanted nothing of the world, could look through and through it with his bold sunlit eyes, and see its rottenness to the core.

Chandos sighed as he heard.

"You are right,—only too right. Yet even while they crouch to the tyrant's sabre, how bitterly they need release! even while they crucify their teachers and their saviours, how little they know what they do! They may forsake themselves; but they should not be forsaken."

Philippe d'Orvale looked on him with a light soft as woman's tears in his eyes, and dashed his hand down on the alabaster.

"Chandos, you live twenty centuries too late. You would have been crowned in Athens, and throned in Asia. But here, as a saving grace, they will call you—'mad!'"

"Well, if they do? The title has its honours. It was hooted against Solon and Socrates."

* * *

"I would do all in the world to please you, monseigneur," he answered, sadly; "but I cannot change my nature. The little aziola loves the shade, and shrinks from noise and glare and all the ways of men; I am like it. You cannot make the aziola a bird for sunlight; you cannot make me as others are."

Chandos looked down on him with an almost tender compassion. To him, whose years were so rich in every pleasure and every delight that men can enjoy, the loneliness and pain of Lulli's life, divorced from all the living world, made it a marvel profoundly melancholy, profoundly formed to claim the utmost gentleness and sympathy.

"I would not have you as others are, Lulli," he said, softly. "If in all the selfishness and pleasures of our world there were not some here and there to give their lives to high thoughts and to unselfish things, as you give yours, we should soon, I fear, forget that such existed. But for such recluse's devotion to an art as yours, the classics would have perished; without the cloister-penmen, the laws of science would never have broken the bondage of tradition."

Lulli looked up eagerly; then his head drooped again with the inexpressible weariness of that vain longing which "toils to reach the stars."

"Ah, what is the best that I reach?—the breath of the wind which passes, and sighs, and is heard no more."

* * *

"How crabbed a scroll!" he went on, throwing himself down a moment on the thyme and grass. "The characters must baffle even you; the years that have yellowed the vellum have altered the fashion. Whose is it?"

"An old Elizabethan musician's," answered Lulli, as he looked up. "Yes; the years take all,—our youth, our work, our life, even our graves."

Something in his Provencal cadence gave a rhythm to his simplest speech: the words fell sadly on his listener's ear, though on the sensuous luxuriance of his own existence no shadow ever rested, no skeleton ever crouched.

"Yes: the years take all," he said, with a certain sadness on him. "How many unperfected resolves, unachieved careers, unaccomplished ambitions, immatured discoveries, perish under the rapidity of time, as unripe fruits fall before their season! Bichat died at thirty-one:—if he had lived, his name would now have outshone Aristotle's."

"We live too little time to do anything even for the art we give our life to," murmured Lulli. "When we die, our work dies with us: our better self must perish with our bodies; the first change of fashion will sweep it into oblivion."

"Yet something may last of it," suggested Chandos, while his hand wandered among the blue bells of the curling hyacinths. "Because few save scholars read the 'Defensio Populi' now, the work it did for free thought cannot die. None the less does the cathedral enrich Cologne because the name of the man who begot its beauty has passed unrecorded. None the less is the world aided by the effort of every true and daring mind because the thinker himself has been crushed down in the rush of unthinking crowds."

"No, if it could live!" murmured Lulli, softly, with a musing pain in the broken words. "But look! the scroll was as dear to its writer as his score to Beethoven,—the child of his love, cradled in his thoughts night and day, cherished as never mother cherished her first-born, beloved as wife or mistress, son or daughter, never were. Perhaps he denied himself much to give his time more to his labour; and when he died, lonely and in want, because he had pursued that for which men called him a dreamer, his latest thought was of the work which never could speak to others as it spoke to him, which he must die and leave, in anguish that none ever felt to sever from a human thing. Yet what remains of his love and his toil? It is gone, as a laugh or a sob dies off the ear, leaving no echo behind. His name signed here tells nothing to the men for whom he laboured, adds nothing to the art for which he lived. As it is with him, so will it be with me."

His voice, that had risen in sudden and untutored eloquence, sank suddenly into the sadness and the weariness of the man whose highest joy is but relief from pain; and in it was a keener pang still,—the grief of one who strives for what incessantly escapes him.

"Wait," said Chandos, gently. "Are we sure that nothing lives of the music you mourn? It may live on the lips of the people, in those Old-World songs whose cause we cannot trace, yet which come sweet and fresh transmitted to every generation. How often we hear some nameless melody echo down a country-side! the singers cannot tell you whence it came; they only know their mothers sang it by their cradles, and they will sing it by their children's. But in the past the song had its birth in genius."

Guido Lulli bent his head.

"True: such an immortality were all-sufficient: we could well afford to have our names forgotten——"

* * *

"Let that fellow alone, Cos," laughed Chandos, to avert the stormy element which seemed to threaten the serenity of his breakfast-party. "Trevenna will beat us all with his tongue, if we tempt him to try conclusions. He should be a Chancellor of the Exchequer or a Cheap John; I am not quite clear which as yet."

"Identically the same things!" cried Trevenna. "The only difference is the scale they are on; one talks from the bench, and the other from the benches; one cheapens tins, and the other cheapens taxes; one has a salve for an incurable disease, and the other a salve for the national debt; one rounds his periods to put off a watch that won't go, and the other to cover a deficit that won't close; but they radically drive the same trade, and both are successful if the spavined mare trots out looking sound, and the people pay up. 'Look what I save you,' cry Cheap John and Chancellor; and while they shout their economics, they pocket their shillings. Ah, if I were sure I could bamboozle a village, I should know I was qualified to make up a Budget."

* * *

"Most impudent of men! When will you learn the first lesson of society, and decently and discreetly apprendre a vous effacer?"

"A m'effacer? The advice Lady Harriet Vandeleur gave Cecil. Very good for mediocre people, I dare say; but it wouldn't suit me. There are some people, you know, that won't iron down for the hardest rollers. M'effacer? No! I'd rather any day be an ill-bred originality than a well-bred nonentity."

"Then you succeed perfectly in being what you wish! Don't you know, monsieur, that to set yourself against conventionalities is like talking too loud?—an impertinence and an under-breeding that society resents by exclusion."

"Yes, I know it. But a duke may bawl, and nobody shuts out him; a prince might hop on one leg, and everybody would begin to hop too. Now, what the ducal lungs and the princely legs might do with impunity, I declare I've a right to do, if I like."

"Becasse! no one can declare his rights till he can do much more, and—purchase them. Have a million, and we may perhaps give you a little license to be unlike other persons: without the million it is an ill-bred gaucherie."

"Ah, I know! Only a nobleman may be original; a poor penniless wretch upon town must be humbly and insignificantly commonplace. What a pity for the success of the aristocratic monopolists that nature puts clever fellows and fools just in the reverse order! But then nature's a shocking socialist."

"And so are you."

Trevenna laughed.

"Hush, madame. Pray don't destroy me with such a whisper."

* * *

Talent wears well; genius wears itself out; talent drives a brougham in fact, genius a sun-chariot in fancy; talent keeps to earth and fattens there, genius soars to the empyrean, to get picked by every kite that flies; talent is the part and the venison, genius the seltzer and souffle of life. The man who has talent sails successfully on the top of the wave; the man with genius beats himself to pieces, fifty to one, on the first rock he meets.

* * *

One innocent may be wrongly suspected until he is made the thing that the libel called him.

* * *

Men shut out happiness from their schemes for the world's happiness. They might as well try to bring flowers to bloom without the sun.

* * *

The most dastardly sin on earth is the desertion of the fallen.

* * *

Let the world abandon you, but to yourself be true.

* * *

The bread of bitterness is the food on which men grow to their fullest stature.

* * *

Youth without faith is a day without sun.

* * *

I detest posterity—every king hates his heir.

* * *

Scandals are like dandelion seeds; they are arrow-headed and stick when they fall, and bring forth and multiply fourfold.

* * *

The puff perfect is the puff personal—adroitly masked.

* * *

I wear the Bonnet Rouge discreetly weighed down with a fine tassel of British prudence.

* * *

He was a master of the great art of banter. It is a marvellous force; it kills sanctity, unveils sophistry, travesties wisdom, cuts through the finest shield, and turns the noblest impulses to hopeless ridicule.

* * *

Immortality is dull work—a hideous statue that gets black as soot in no time; funeral sermons that make you out a vial of revelations and discuss the probabilities of your being in the realms of Satan; a bust that slants you off at the shoulders and sticks you up on a bracket; a tombstone for the canes of the curious to poke at; an occasional attention in the way of withered immortelles or biographical Billingsgate, and a partial preservation shared in common with mummies, auks' eggs, snakes in bottles, and deformities in spirits of wine:—that's posthumous fame. I must say I don't see much fun in it.

* * *

It were hard not to be wrong in philosophies when the body starves on a pinch of oatmeal. It is the law of necessity, the balance of economy; human fuel must be used up that the machine of the world may spin on; but it is not, perhaps, marvellous that the living fuel is sometimes unreconciled to that symmetrical rule of waste and repair, of consumer and consumed.

* * *

It is many centuries since Caius Gracchus called the mercantile classes to aid the people against the patricians, and found too late that they were deadlier oppressors than all the optimates; but the error still goes on, and the moneymakers churn it into gold, as they churned it then into the Asiatic revenues and the senatorial amulets.

* * *

The love of a people is the most sublime crown that can rest on the brow of any man, but the love of a mob is a mongrel that fawns and slavers one moment, to rend and tear the next.



FOLLE-FARINE.

In this old-world district, amidst the pastures and corn-lands of Normandy, superstition had taken a hold which the passage of centuries and the advent of revolution had done very little to lessen. Few of the people could read, and fewer still could write. They knew nothing but what their priests and politicians told them to believe. They went to their beds with the poultry, and rose as the cock crew: they went to mass, as their ducks to the osier and weed ponds; and to the conscription as their lambs to the slaughter. They understood that there was a world beyond them, but they remembered it only as the best market for their fruit, their fowls, their lace, their skins. Their brains were as dim as were their oil-lit streets at night; though their lives were content and mirthful, and for the most part pious. They went out into the summer meadows chanting aves, in seasons of drought to pray for rain on their parching orchards, in the same credulity with which they groped through the winter-fog bearing torches, and chanting dirges to gain a blessing at seed-time on their bleak, black fallows.

The beauty and the faith of the old mediaeval life were with them still; and with its beauty and its faith were its bigotry and cruelty likewise.

They led simple and contented lives; for the most part honest, and amongst themselves cheerful and kindly: preserving much grace of colour, of costume, of idiosyncrasy, because apart from the hueless communism and characterless monotony of modern cities.

But they believed in sorcery and in devilry: they were brutal to their beasts, and could be as brutal to their foes: they were steeped in legend and tradition from their cradles; and all the darkest superstitions of dead ages still found home and treasury in their hearts and at their hearths.

They had always been a religious people in this birth country of the Flamma race: the strong poetic reverence of their forefathers, which had symbolised itself in the carving of every lintel, corbel or buttress in their streets, and the fashion of every spire on which a weather-vane could gleam against the sun, was still in their blood; the poetry had departed, but the bigotry remained.

* * *

"The earth and the air are good," she thought, as she lay there watching the dark leaves sway in the foam and the wind, and the bright-bosomed birds float from blossom to blossom. For there was latent in her, all untaught, that old pantheistic instinct of the divine age, when the world was young, to behold a sentient consciousness in every leaf unfolded to the light; to see a soul in every created thing the day shines on; to feel the presence of an eternal life in every breeze that moves, in every grass that grows; in every flame that lifts itself to heaven; in every bell that vibrates on the air; in every moth that soars to reach the stars.

Pantheism is the religion of the poet; and nature had made her a poet, though man as yet had but made of her an outcast, a slave, and a beast of burden.

"The earth and the air are good," she thought, watching the sun-rays pierce the purple hearts of a passion-flower, the shadows move across the deep brown water, the radiant butterfly alight upon a lily, the scarlet-throated birds dart in and out through the yellow feathery blossoms of the limes.

* * *

When a man clings to life for life's sake, because it is fair and sweet, and good in the sight and the senses, there may be weakness in his shudder at its threatening loss. But when a man is loth to lose life although it be hard, and joyless, and barren of all delights, because this life gives him power to accomplish things greater than he, which yet without him must perish, there is the strength in him, as there is the agony of Prometheus.

With him it must die also: that deep dim greatness within him, which moves him, despite himself; that nameless unspeakable force which compels him to create and to achieve; that vision by which he beholds worlds beyond him not seen by his fellows.

Weary of life he may be; of life material, and full of subtlety; of passion, of pleasure, of pain; of the kisses that burn, of the laugh that rings hollow, of the honey that so soon turns to gall, of the sickly fatigues, and the tired, cloyed hunger, that are the portion of men upon earth. Weary of these he may be; but still if the gods have breathed on him, and made him mad with the madness that men have called genius, there will be that in him greater than himself, which he knows,—and cannot know without some fierce wrench and pang,—will be numbed and made impotent, and drift away, lost for evermore, into that eternal night, which is all that men behold of death.

* * *

The grass of the Holy River gathers perfume from the marvellous suns, and the moonless nights, and the gorgeous bloom of the east, from the aromatic breath of the leopard, and the perfume of the fallen pomegranate, and the sacred oil that floats in the lamps, and the caress of the girl-bather's feet, and the myrrh-dropping unguents that glide from the maiden's bare limbs in the moonlight,—the grass holds and feeds on them all. But not till the grass has been torn from the roots, and been crushed, and been bruised and destroyed, can the full odours exhale of all it has tasted and treasured.

Even thus the imagination of man may be great, but it can never be at its greatest until one serpent, with merciless fangs, has bitten it through and through, and impregnated it with passion and with poison,—that one deathless serpent which is memory.

* * *

And, indeed, to those who are alive to the nameless, universal, Eternal Soul which breathes in all the grasses of the fields, and beams in the eyes of all creatures of earth and air, and throbs in the living light of palpitating stars, and thrills through the young sap of forest trees, and stirs in the strange loves of wind-borne plants, and hums in every song of the bee, and burns in every quiver of the flame, and peoples with sentient myriads every drop of dew that gathers on a hare-bell, every bead of water that ripples in a brook—to them the mortal life of man can seem but little, save at once the fiercest and the feeblest thing that does exist; at once the most cruel and the most impotent; tyrants of direst destruction, and bondsmen of lowest captivity.

* * *

The earth has always most charm, and least pain, to the poet or the artist when men are hidden away under their roofs. Then they do not break its calm with either their mirth or their brutality; then the vile and revolting coarseness of their works, that blot it with so much deformity, is softened and obscured in the purple breaths of shadow, and the dim tender gleam of stars.

* * *

When the world was in its youth, it had leisure to treasure its recollections; even to pause and look back; to see what flower of a fair thought, what fruit of a noble art, it might have overlooked or left down-trodden. But now it is so old, and is so tired; it is purblind, and heavy of foot; it does not notice what it destroys; it desires rest and can find none; nothing can matter greatly to it; its dead are so many that it cannot count them; and being thus worn and dulled with age, and suffocated under the weight of its innumerable memories, it is very slow to be moved, and swift—terribly swift—to forget.

Why should it not be?

It has known the best, it has known the worst that ever can befall it.

And the prayer that to the heart of man seems so freshly born from his own desire, what is it on the weary ear of the world, save the same old, old cry which it has heard through all the ages, empty as the sound of the wind, and for ever—for ever—unanswered?

* * *

For there is nothing so cruel in life as a Faith;—the Faith, whatever its name may be, that draws a man on all his years through on one narrow path, by one tremulous light, and then at the last, with a laugh—drowns him.

* * *

I think I see!—the great God walked by the edge of the river, and he mused on a gift to give man, on a joy that should be a joy on the earth for ever; and he passed by the lily white as snow, by the thyme that fed the bees, by the gold heart in the arum flower, by the orange flame of the tall sandrush, by all the great water-blossoms which the sun kissed and the swallows loved, and he came to the one little reed pierced with the snake's-tongues, and all alone amidst millions. Then he took it up, and cut it to the root, and killed it; killed it as a reed—but breathed into it a song audible and beautiful to all the ears of men. Was that death to the reed?—or life? Would a thousand summers of life by the waterside have been worth that one thrill of song when a god first spoke through it?

* * *

It is odd that you should live in a palace, and he should want for bread; but then he can create things, and you can only buy them. So it is even, perhaps.

* * *

A word that needs compelling is broken by the heart before the lips give it. It is to plant a tree without a root to put faith in a man that needs a bond.

* * *

"You are glad since you sing!" said the old man to her as she passed him again on her homeward way and paused again beside him.

"The birds in cages sing," she answered him, "but think you they are glad?"

"Are they not?"

She sat down a moment beside him, on the bank which was soft with moss, and odorous with wild flowers curling up the stems of the poplars and straying over into the corn beyond.

"Are they? Look. Yesterday I passed a cottage, it is on the Great South Road; far away from here. The house was empty; the people no doubt were gone to labour in the fields; there was a wicker cage hanging to the wall, and in the cage there was a blackbird. The sun beat on his head; his square of sod was a dry clod of bare earth; the heat had dried every drop of water in his pan; and yet the bird was singing. Singing how? In torment, beating his breast against the bars till the blood started, crying to the skies to have mercy on him and to let the rain fall. His song was shrill; it had a scream in it; still he sang. Do you say the merle was glad?"

"What did you do?" asked the old man, still breaking his stones with a monotonous rise and fall of his hammer.

"I took the cage down and opened the door."

"And he?"

"He shot up in the air first, then dropped down amidst the grasses, where a little brook which the drought had not dried was still running; and he bathed and drank, and bathed again, seeming mad with the joy of the water. When I lost him from sight he was swaying among the leaves on a bough over the river; but then he was silent."

"And what do you mean by that?"

Her eyes clouded; she was mute. She vaguely knew the meaning it bore to herself, but it was beyond her to express it. All things of nature had voices and parables for her, because her fancy was vivid, and her mind was still too dark, and too profoundly ignorant, for her to be able to shape her thoughts into metaphor or deduction. The bird had spoken to her; by his silence as by his song; but what he had uttered she could not well utter again. Save indeed that song was not gladness, and neither was silence pain.

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