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Title: Hail and Farewell
Author: Moore, George Augustus (1852-1933)
Date of first publication: 1925 (this version). Earlier separate versions of the three parts of the trilogy were first published in 1911 ("Ave"), 1912 ("Salve"), and 1914 ("Vale")
Date first posted: 10 June 2009
Date last updated: 10 June 2009
Project Gutenberg Canada ebook #329

This ebook was produced by: Jon Ingram, Don Perry & the Online Distributed Proofreaders Europe at http://dp.rastko.net

Ave, Salve, Vale

George Moore

First published in 1911
Copyright 1911, 1914, 1925


At the end of the 'forties Ruskin preached: Let us abandon ourselves unreservedly to Nature, and his teaching gave birth to Pre-Raphaelitism, unless indeed the truth is that the painters Rossetti, Millais, and Holman Hunt stood up one evening in a studio in Newman Street, all three crying together: If we purify ourselves in ignorance and put our trust in Nature, we shall rediscover the innocency of the painters of the fifteenth century. So did Robert Ross relate to me the story of the movement, and perceiving that he was intimately acquainted with it, I often tried to persuade him to write it: but he could not be persuaded, for to do so, he said, would deprive him of the pleasure of talking it, and I was disappointed, for no more perfect beginning of a story was ever invented than the three—a Robespierre, a Danton, a Marat, standing up together proclaiming their faith in Nature. A little too dramatic and self-conscious they were for an aesthetic Revolution, some may think, but for many no more than a few moments of reflection are needed to remember that the natural would be for the painters to discover the truth themselves and find their Apostle afterwards in Ruskin.

But however our feelings go, whether in the direction of Ruskin or the painters, we must not forget that Ruskin was a craftsman, a master of the lead pencil, whose drawings bear comparison with the best of their kind, if we except Turner's. His architectural drawings must have been admired by Whistler in secret, and there are drawings in which his pencil followed a range of hills revealing the beauty of every fold and the swerve of every outline. An exquisite draughtsman! and the question now comes whether these drawings were done in the 'forties. If Robert Ross were alive he could tell me; but assuming that some were accomplished about that time and were accompanied by literary comment (which is not unlikely, his pen and pencil being as dependent one upon the other as the musical notes of a song are upon the words they enhance and illustrate), we find ourselves unable to consider Ruskin as a mere propagandist, and are obliged to admit that his handicraft counted for a little in the declaration that was destined to give to England an art entirely her own.

Hitherto England had derived her inspiration from abroad, but the Pre-Raphaelite movement was English as a Surrey hedgerow. But before the hedgerow there were scattered bushes, and before the Pre-Raphaelite (p. 048) movement there were quakings and stirrings. Mulready is reported to have said: Yes, but what you tell me is no more than what I have been trying to do all my life! words that tell plainly how unable Mulready was by temperament to appreciate the love of beauty that inspired the brotherhood and directed their choice to beautiful things with a view to making them seem even more beautiful than they were by a beautiful handicraft, of which I should speak at length if the subject of this paper was the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood or Pre-Raphaelitism. As it is neither one nor the other I shall say no more than that the desire of Man to discover the source of things led critics even to the beginning of the century, to William Dyce, and to hang a pretty, romantic movement round the neck of one of the most prosaic of all painters, dry and punctilious.

So things are misrepresented in this world even by the best intentioned! But truth is stronger than good intentions, and of late years Dyce's name as a possible claimant has been dropped and the Newman Street episode accepted as the authorised version.

A small thing Pre-Raphaelitism may be, no more than a daisy in the great flower garden of the world's art; but a daisy that is your own is perhaps better than a sunflower that is somebody else's, and it is with reluctance I remark that Rossetti was an Italian—born in England, nurtured in England, it is true—and that Millais came from the Channel Islands and was perhaps of French stock. But Holman Hunt's English blood has never been called into question, happily; so we are in possession of an artistic movement more or less exclusively our own, and one that lasted more than twenty years. The dates are approximately from 1850 to 1870. Millais was painting the three Miss Armstrongs in Cromwell Place in the 'seventies, and drooping, the movement lingered on still a few years, till in the 'eighties a great painter, James M'Neill Whistler, felt himself called upon to pronounce what may be described as a funeral oration over it. None was necessary, for the Pre-Raphaelite movement was dead and beyond hope of resurrection before a goodly assembly of ladies and gentlemen was called to the Dudley Gallery to hear the artist exalted, placed above Nature, and his business declared to be to take hints from Nature, to interpret and to amplify, to use Nature as a musician uses the piano. All the same, James M'Neill (I drop the Whistler, the name being an absurd one and a disparagement to his painting) could not do else than concede a part of every picture to Nature, an admission that will be regarded as a weakness by many who have followed after him. In his Ten o'Clock he admits that Nature can on occasions create a picture:

'The sun blares, the wind blows from the east, the sky is bereft of cloud, and without, all is of iron. The windows of the Crystal Palace (p. 049) are seen from all points of London. The holiday-maker rejoices in the glorious day, and the painter turns aside to shut his eyes.

'How little this is understood, and how dutifully the casual in Nature is accepted as sublime, may be gathered from the unlimited admiration daily produced by a very foolish sunset.

'The dignity of the snow-capped mountain is lost in distinctness, but the joy of the tourist is to recognise the traveller on the top. The desire to see, for the sake of seeing, is, with the mass, alone the one to be gratified, hence the delight in detail.

'And when the evening mist clothes the riverside with poetry, as with a veil, and the poor buildings lose themselves in the dim sky, and the tall chimneys become campanili, and the warehouses are palaces in the night, and the whole city hangs in the heavens, and fairyland is before us—then the wayfarer hastens home; the working man and the cultured one, the wise man and the one of pleasure, cease to understand, as they have ceased to see, and Nature, who, for once, has sung in tune, sings her exquisite song to the artist alone, her son and her master—her son in that he loves her, her master in that he knows her.'

When the beautifully proportioned brown, square book drops upon my lap, my mind reverts to the Nocturnes, and I have not long to wait before a pale grey-green waste of waters rises up in my thoughts, with shadowy shores, receding lights, and on the horizon dimmer lights, and half submerged in the swelling tide a trailing seaweed of lovely design. A mingling of night and day is on the waters, and the artist hears the song that Nature sings, this time in tune, and returns home to report it in paint and afterwards in words so beautiful that we do not forget the warehouses like palaces in the night, nor the artist who declares himself Nature's son and master—her son in that he loves her, her master in that he knows her. A beautiful prose this is, beautiful as the artist's paint. Can I say more? And it is with regret that I pick a hole in it; but my argument compels. James M'Neill's point is that Nature is rarely an artist. But may we not say the same of Man? Indeed, James M'Neill says it on the first page of his book. Are not then Man and Nature equal, both of them being seldom artists? James M'Neill would have found no way out of the dilemma, and if he had sought to do so I should have asked him to come to the Royal Academy with me. Nature sings in tune many times in the course of a single year, and sings in vain, there being no artist about who understands her; and taking Nature's adventures into painting as being on the whole equal to those of Man, we will turn to Nature's novels.

A novel is the story of a man's life, and I think we shall find that Nature provides ends for lives more strangely significant than any invented by story-tellers. The end of Beau Brummel at Nice seems to me (p. 050) one of Nature's triumphs; in it she has surpassed anything that I remember for the moment in Tolstoy, or Turgenev, or Tchekov, or Balzac. We all have a hearsay knowledge of Beau Brummel. We have heard, or think we have heard, that he came to London with a fifty-pound note in his pocket, no more, and a talent for dressing himself so remarkable that he soon began to set the fashion in clothes and was much sought after by tailors. His wit was ready and he reigned in London for twenty years, till one evening he said, addressing the Regent: George, ring the bell! The Regent rang the bell, and the servant was told to send round for Mr Brummel's carriage. Everybody wondered, and everybody understood that the knell of his popularity had been rung. The friends who had endured the Beau's authority, accepting rebuffs, sarcasms, and insolences of every kind complacently, foresaw their release from tyranny in the incident, and soon after, if not immediately after, the Beau found himself without a friend in London. And for some years, I know not for how many, he lived in Nice with an ever-fading brain, without friends or money, his only entertainment being the donning of his gala clothes of other days and listening to his servant announcing the high-sounding titles of his former friends, till the cracking of the sconces restored him to sanity and the sadness thereof.

For another great conqueror, Napoleon, Nature invented an end that equals in beauty the one she devised for Beau Brummel: she placed him on the rock of St Helena to watch and listen to the Atlantic, a wonderful end. And Tolstoy's end is very wonderful if we connect it with the strange morality that he preached from the Steppes, a veritable Jeremiah, telling that a wife who left her husband would meet a violent end; however kind and good her lover may have been, she would not escape her fate. We are asked to believe in Anna Karenina's suicide, and we do whilst the book is in our hands; but we do not follow the great writer in The Kreutzer Sonata, for the morality preached in that book is that unless we marry a woman who is physically disagreeable to us, we shall plunge of a certainty a stiletto through the exquisite jersey that tempted us in the beginning. Mad indeed is the moralist who would reform our natures; and Nature, having watched the preacher all the while, decreed an end the significance of which cannot escape even the most casual reader: a flight from his wife and home in his eighty-second year, and his death in the waiting-room of a wayside railway station in the early hours of a March morning.

The correlation of the end of a story to the story itself is that of the hand to the arm; neither is complete without the other. The end of Héloïse and Abélard is very beautiful. Nature furnished it, together with a large part of the narrative, for Nature does not stint her literary activities to ends. Sometimes she undertakes the entire composition, as in Hail (p. 051) and Farewell; every episode and every character was a gift from Nature, even the subject itself. And I shall not be misunderstood if due attention be paid to the call that was vouchsafed to me whilst walking in the Hospital Road, and if the fact be borne in mind that from that day forward I never seemed to have doubted that I was needed in Ireland, and that the words: Highly favoured am I among authors! rose to my lips instinctively, I might say incontinently, as I opened my garden gate one morning in May, for the true significance of the words was not perceived by me whilst I worked at Nature's bidding, taking down her many surprising inventions, thinking they were my own because they happened to come my way. For Nature is a sly puss; she sets us working, but we know nothing of her designs; and for years I believed myself to be the author of Hail and Farewell, whereas I was nothing more than the secretary, and though the reader may doubt me in the sentence I am now writing, he will believe that I am telling no more than the truth when the narrative leads him to Coole Park and he meets the hieratic Yeats and Lady Gregory out walking, seeking living speech from cottage to cottage, Yeats remaining seated under the stunted hawthorn usually found growing at the corner of the field, Lady Gregory braving the suffocating interior for the sacred cause of Idiom. And the feeling that there is something providential in the art of Hail and Farewell will be strengthened when the reader comes upon Yeats standing lost in meditation before a white congregation of swans assembled on the lake, looking himself in his old cloak like a huge umbrella left behind by some picnic-party; and raising his eyes from the book, the reader will say: This is Nature, not Art! and his thoughts reverting to the name upon the title-page, he will add: A puny author indeed, who merits a severe reprimand, if not punishment: with such a figure as Yeats he should have created something overtopping Don Quixote. He has done well, of course, for with such material he could not have done badly, but...

Whilst Yeats contemplates the lake and its water-fowl, esurient Edward devours huge loin chops, followed by stewed chicken and platesful of curried eggs, for he is suffering terrific qualms of conscience. And finding that food cannot allay thief, he founds a choir for the singing of Palestrina Masses, hoping to do something for his Church; but the only result of Palestrina is the emptying of two churches. How the emptying of the two churches came about I will suffer the reader to find out for himself, for I feel that the episode will once more strengthen the conviction in him that the book he is reading is Nature's own book, wrought by providential hands; but when he meets AE in Salve he will discard the belief that Nature is the real author of the book and will attribute the authorship to Erin. On reflection it may seem to him that the name Erin has been turned to derision by much bad poetry in modern times, (p. 052) and being a student of ancient Ireland the name Banva may occur to him. Banva was Ireland's name when the Druids flourished, and AE is the last believer in Druid mysteries. Yeats is hieratic, Edward is esurient (eating procured his death), but AE is neither hieratic nor esurient; indeed, he is apt to forget his food, so subject is he to ideas, so willing to deliver everybody of his ideas, if he have one. He has helped all and sundry through the labours of parturition, with the single exception of Lady Gregory, who delivers herself, and very easily, of her own plays and stories. Now is there a word that would represent him as hieratic represents Yeats, as esurient represents Edward? I am sure there is a word—yes, it is coming, it is coming ... I've got it, maieutic! The maieutic AE! A trilogy, if ever there was one, each character so far above anything one meets in fiction that the reader's thoughts will return to Banva as the author, thinly disguised by the puerile name of George Moore, of this extraordinary work. And if any doubt regarding the authorship still remains in his mind, it will be dispelled, I think, by the labours of Plunkett and Gill in Ireland during the ten years which Hail and Farewell chronicles.

Yeats and dear Edward and AE are outside and beyond anything that has ever appeared before in print; there is no standard by which we can judge them; but in the case of Plunkett and Gill there is a standard, and a literary standard. The reader has read or has heard of Flaubert's Bouvard and Pecuchet, two clerks whom a fortune beguiles from their offices and an evil spirit urges to experiment in all directions, one of which is horticulture, and their efforts produce a melon that has all the qualities a melon should have except one—the monstrous fruit is uneatable. France has laughed at the joke for forty years, appreciating the point of it: the wrecking of a theory by a simple fact overlooked by the theorists; and Plunkett and Gill reproduced the originals almost line for line, with this difference, that they exceeded the originals, which is not surprising if the theory advanced in this paper be true, that Nature's inventions exceed the artist's. Whosoever doubts this I would invite to compare Flaubert's invention of the melon with some of the disasters that followed Plunkett's and Gill's philanthropic career in Ireland. Some of these disasters the reader will discover in the book, succinctly related, but the crowning disaster is the one that I hope will engage his attention. Inspired by a very noble desire for the advancement of Banva, it occurred to them that the breed of Irish asses might be improved; and having sent to the library for all the books on the subject, the twain spent six days reading, with a view to avoiding the mistakes that had been made hitherto in the breeding of asses. On the seventh day several hundred pounds were sent to Alexandria for the purchase of sires—but no, I will not deflower the joke by reporting what happened to the unfortunate (p. 053) asses on the voyage. A broad smile will illumine the face of the reader and the smile will wax broader till he bursts into laughter, and when he comes to the impotent jackass that brays at Foxrock, he will cry aloud: Bravo! and clap his hands. But I would not give a false impression of Banva's book. The reader will find many touching incidents in it. Tchekov should have written the story of the snow lion; he would have, had not Banva been busy dictating it to me.

So far my task of introducing Hail and Farewell to the reader has been an easy one. All the merits of the book belong to Banva, and the demerits, alas! to me. In this new edition I have not, needless to say, meddled with Banva's inventions and with the characters that she brought into the book. For me to lay hands upon these would be as unseemly as if I were to undertake to rearrange, to emendate, to revise the work of some great author—more unseemly, perhaps, for Banva is a spiritual entity; the Irish themselves are always willing to strike a blow for Banva. So my editing was limited to re-knitting and mending the literary texture, which seemed to me in many places loose and casual. I have done my best with it, and even now, despite all my stitching and unstitching, as Yeats would say, I have not woven a garment worthy of Banva.


(p. 055) AVE

In 1894 Edward Martyn and I were living in the Temple, I in a garret in King's Bench Walk, he in a garret in Pump Court. At the time I was very poor and had to work for my living; all the hours of the day were spent writing some chapter of Esther Waters or of Modern Painting; and after dinner I often returned to my work. But towards midnight a wish to go out to speak to somebody would come upon me: Edward returned about that time from his club, and I used to go to Pump Court, sure of finding him seated in his high, canonical chair, sheltered by a screen, reading his book, his glass of grog beside him, his long clay pipe in his hand; and we used to talk literature and drama until two or three in the morning.

I wish I knew enough Irish to write my plays in Irish, he said one night, speaking out of himself suddenly.

You'd like to write your plays in Irish! I exclaimed. I thought nobody did anything in Irish except bring turf from the bog and say prayers.

Edward did not answer, and when I pressed him he said:

You've always lived in France and England, and have forgotten Ireland.

You're wrong: I remember the boatmen speaking to each other in Irish on Lough Carra! And Father James Browne preaching in Irish in Carnacun! But I've never heard of anybody wanting to write in it ... and plays, too!

Everything is different now; a new literature is springing up.

In Irish? I said; and my brain fluttered with ideas regarding the relation of the poem to the language in which it is born.

A new language to enwomb new thoughts, I cried out to Edward.

On the subject of nationality in art one can talk a long while, and it was past one o'clock when I groped my way down the rough-timbered staircase, lit by dusty lanterns, and wandered from Pump Court into the cloister, loitering by the wig-maker's shop in the dim corner, so like what London must have been once, some hundreds of years after the Templars.

On my way back to King's Bench Walk I passed their church! And, standing before the carven porch, I thought what a happy accident it (p. 056) was that Edward Martyn and myself had drifted into the Temple, the last vestige of old London—combining, as some one has said, the silence of the cloister with the licence of the brothel—Edward attracted by the church of the Templars, I by the fleeting mistress, so it pleased me to think.

One is making for the southern gate, hoping that the aged porter will pull the string and let her pass out without molesting her with observations, and, when the door closed behind her, there seemed to be nothing in the Temple but silence and moonlight: a round moon sailing westward let fall a cold ray along the muddy foreshore and along the river, revealing some barges moored in mid-stream.

The tide is out, I said, and I wondered at the spots and gleams of light, amid the shrubs in the garden, till I began to wonder at my own wonderment, for, after all, this was not the first time the moon had sailed over Lambeth. Even so the spectacle of the moonlit gardens and the river excited me to the point of making me forget my bed; and, watching the white torch of Jupiter and the red ember of Mars, I began to think of the soul which Edward Martyn had told me I had lost in Paris and in London, and if it were true that whoever casts off tradition is like a tree transplanted into uncongenial soil. Turgenev was of that opinion: Russia can do without any one of us, but none of us can do without Russia—one of his sentimental homilies grown wearisome from constant repetition, true, perhaps, of Russia, but utterly untrue of Ireland. Far more true would it be to say that an Irishman must fly from Ireland if he would be himself. Englishmen, Scotchmen, Jews, do well in Ireland—Irishmen never; even the patriot has to leave Ireland to get a hearing. We must leave Ireland; and I did well to listen in Montmartre. All the same, a remembrance of Edward Martyn's conversation could not be stifled. Had I not myself written, only half conscious of the truth, that art must be parochial in the beginning to become cosmopolitan in the end? And isn't a great deal of the savour of a poem owing to the language in which it is written? If Dante had continued his comedy in Latin! He wrote two cantos in Latin! Or was it two stanzas?

So Ireland is awaking at last out of the great sleep of Catholicism! And I walked about the King's Bench Walk, thinking what a wonderful thing it would be to write a book in a new language or in an old language revived and sharpened to literary usage for the first time. We men of letters are always sad when we hear of a mode of literary expression not available to us, or a subject we cannot treat. After discussing the Humbert case for some time, Dujardin and a friend fell to talking of what a wonderful subject it would have been for Balzac, and I listened to them in sad silence. Moore is sad, Dujardin said. He is (p. 057) always sad when he hears a subject which he may never hope to write.

The Humbert case being involved in such a mass of French jurisprudence that—And they laughed at me.

But in the Temple, in Edward's rooms, I had heard that a new literature was springing up in my own parish, and forthwith began to doubt if the liberty my father's death had given me was an unmixed blessing. The talent I brought into the world might have produced rarer fruit if it had been cultivated less sedulously. Ballinrobe or the Nouvelle Athènes—which?

The bitterness of my meditation was relieved, somewhat, on remembering that those who had remained in Ireland had written nothing of any worth—miserable stuff, no narrative of any seriousness, only broad farce. Lever and Lover and a rudiment, a peasant whose works I had once looked into, and whose name it was impossible to remember. Strange that Ireland should have produced so little literature, for there is a pathos in Ireland, in its people, in its landscape, and in its ruins. And that night I roamed in imagination from castle to castle, following them from hillside to hillside, along the edges of the lake, going up a staircase built between the thickness of the walls, and on to the ramparts, remembering that Castle Carra must have been a great place some four or five hundred years ago. Only the centre of the castle remains; the headland is covered with ruins, overgrown with thorn and hazel; but great men must have gone forth from Castle Carra; and Castle Island and Castle Hag were defended with battle-axe and sword, and these were wielded as tremendously, from island to island, and along the shores of my lake, as ever they were under the walls of Troy. But of what use are such deeds if there be no chroniclers to relate them? Heroes are dependent upon chroniclers, and Ireland never produced any, only a few rather foolish bards, no one who could rank with Froissart; and I thought of my friend up in Pump Court writing by a window, deep set in a castle wall, a history of his times. That was just the sort of thing he might do, and do very well, for he is painstaking. An heroic tale of robbers issuing from the keep of Castle Carra and returning with cattle and a beautiful woman would be more than he could accomplish. I had heard of Grania for the first time that night, and she might be written about; but not by me, for only what my eye has seen, and my heart has felt, interests me. A book about the turbulent life of Castle Carra would be merely inventions, cela ne serait que du chiqué; I should be following in the tracks of other marchands de camelote, Scott and Stevenson, and their like. But modern Ireland! What of it as a subject for artistic treatment?

And noiselessly, like a ghost, modern Ireland glided into my thoughts, ruinous as ancient Ireland, more so, for she is clothed not only with the (p. 058) ruins of the thirteenth century, but with the ruins of every succeeding century. In Ireland we have ruins of several centuries standing side by side, from the fifth to the eighteenth. By the ruins of Castle Carra stand the ruins of a modern house, to which the chieftains of Castle Carra retired when brigandage declined; and the life that was lived there is evinced by the great stone fox standing in the middle of the courtyard—was evinced, for within the last few years the fox and the two hounds of gigantic stature on either side of the gateway have been overthrown.

When I was a small child I used to go with my mother and governess to Castle Carra for goat's milk, and we picnicked in the great banqueting-hall overgrown with ivy. If ever the novel I am dreaming is written, Ruin and Weed shall be its title—ruined castles in a weedy country. In Ireland men and women die without realising any of the qualities they bring into the world, and I remembered those I had known long ago, dimly, and in fragments, as one remembers pictures—the colour of a young woman's hair, an old woman's stoop, a man's bulk; and then a group of peasants trooped past me—Mulhair recognised by his stubbly chin, Pat Plunket by his voice, Carabine by his eyes—and these were followed by recollection of an old servant, Appleby, his unstarched collar and the frock-coat too large for him which he wore always, and his covert dislike of the other servants in the house, especially the old housemaids.

All these people have gone to their rest; they are all happily forgotten, no one ever thinks of them; but to me they are clearer than they were in life, because the present changes so quickly that we are not aware of our life at the moment of living it. But the past never changes; it is like a long picture-gallery. Many of the pictures are covered with grey cloths, as is usual in picture-galleries; but we can uncover any picture we wish to see, and not infrequently a cloth will fall as if by magic, revealing a forgotten one, and it is often as clear in outline and as fresh in paint as a Van der Meer.

That night in the Temple I met a memory as tender in colour and outline as the Van der Meer in the National Gallery. It was at the end of a long summer's day, five-and-twenty years ago, that I first saw her among some ruins in the Dublin mountains, and in her reappearance she seemed so startlingly like Ireland that I felt she formed part of the book I was dreaming, and that nothing of the circumstances in which I found her could be changed or altered. My thoughts fastened on to her, carrying me out of the Temple, back to Ireland, to the time when the ravages of the Land League had recalled me from the Nouvelle Athènes—a magnificent young Montmartrian, with a blonde beard à la Capoul, trousers hanging wide over the foot, and a hat so small that my sister had once mistaken it for her riding-hat. And still in my Montmartrian (p. 059) clothes I had come back from the West with a story in my head, which could only be written in some poetical spot, probably in one of the old houses among the Dublin mountains. And I had set out to look for one on a hot day in July, when the trees in Merrion Square seemed like painted trees, so still were they in the grey silence; the sparrows had ceased to twitter; the carmen spat without speaking, too weary to solicit my fare; and the horses continued to doze on the bridles. Even the red brick, I said, seems to weary in the heat. Too hot a day for walking, but I must walk if I'm to sleep tonight.

My way led through Stephen's Green, and the long decay of Dublin that began with the Union engaged my thoughts, and I fared sighing for the old-time mansions that had been turned into colleges and presbyteries. There were lodging-houses in Harcourt Street, and beyond Harcourt Street the town dwindled, first into small shops, then into shabby-genteel villas; at Terenure, I was among cottages, and within sight of purple hills, and when the Dodder was crossed, at the end of the village street, a great wall began, high as a prison wall; it might well have been mistaken for one, but the trees told it was a park wall, and the great ornamental gateway was a pleasant object. It came into sight suddenly—a great pointed edifice finely designed, and after admiring it I wandered on, crossing an old grey bridge. The Dodder again, I said. And the beautiful green country unfolded, a little melancholy for lack of light and shade, for lack, I added, of a ray to gild the fields. A beautiful country falling into ruin. The beauty of neglect—yet there is none in thrift. My eyes followed the long herds wandering knee-deep in succulent herbage, and I remembered that every other country I had seen was spoilt more or less by human beings, but this country was nearly empty, only an occasional herdsman to remind me of myself in this drift of ruined suburb, with a wistful line of mountains enclosing it, and one road curving among the hills, and everywhere high walls—parks, in the centre of which stand stately eighteenth-century mansions. How the eighteenth century sought privacy! I said, and walked on dreaming of the lives that were lived in these sequestered domains.

No road ever wound so beautifully, I cried, and there are no cottages, only an occasional ruin to make the road attractive. How much more attractive it is now, redeemed from its humanities—large families flowing over doorways, probably in and out of cesspools! I had seen such cottages in the West, and had wished them in ruins, for ruins are wistful, especially when a foxglove finds root-hold in the crannies, and tall grasses flourish round the doorway, and withdrawing my eyes from the pretty cottage, I admired the spotted shade, and the road itself, now twisting abruptly, now winding leisurely up the hill, among woods ascending on my left and descending on my right. But what seemed (p. 060) most wonderful of all was the view that accompanied the road—glimpses of a great plain showing between comely trees shooting out of the hillside—a dim green plain, divided by hedges, traversed by long herds, and enclosed, if I remember rightly, by a line of low grey hills, far, ever so far, away.

All the same, the road ascends very steeply, I growled, beginning to doubt the veracity of the agent who had informed me that a house existed in the neighbourhood. In the neighbourhood, I repeated, for the word appeared singularly inappropriate. In the solitude, he should have said. A little higher up in the hills a chance herdsman offered me some goat's milk; but it was like drinking Camembert cheese, and the least epicurean amongst us would prefer his milk and cheese separate. He had no other, and, in answer to my questions regarding a house to let, said there was one a mile up the road: Mount Venus.

Mount Venus! Who may have given it that name?

The question brought all his stupidity into his face, and after a short talk with him about his goats, I said I must be getting on to Mount Venus ... if it be no more than a mile.

Nothing in Ireland lasts long except the miles, and the last mile to Mount Venus is the longest mile in Ireland; and the road is the steepest. It wound past another ruined cottage, and then a gateway appeared—heavy wrought-iron gates hanging between great stone pillars, the drive ascending through lonely grass-lands with no house in view, for the house lay on the farther side of the hill, a grove of beech trees reserving it as a surprise for the visitor. A more beautiful grove I have never seen, some two hundred years old, and the house as old as it—a long house built with picturesque chimney-stacks, well placed at each end, a resolute house, emphatic as an oath, with great steps before the door, and each made out of a single stone, a house at which one knocks timidly, lest mastiffs should rush out, eager for the strangling. But no fierce voices answered my knocking, only a vague echo. Maybe I'll find somebody in the back premises, and wandering through a gateway, I came upon many ruins of barns and byres, and upon a heap of stones probably once used for the crushing of apples. No cow in the byre, nor pony in the stable, nor dog in the kennel, nor pig in the sty, nor gaunt Irish fowl stalking about what seemed to be the kitchen-door. An empty dovecot hung on the wall above it. Mount Venus without doves, I said. And as no answer came to my knocking I wandered back to the front of the house to enjoy the view of the sea and the line of the shore, drawn as beautifully as if Corot had drawn it. Dublin City appeared in the distance a mere murky mass, with here and there a building, faintly indicated. Nearer still the suburbs came trickling into the fields, the very fields in which I had seen herds of cattle feeding.

(p. 061) Besides the beech woods there was the great yew hedge, hundreds of years old, and a walled garden at the end of it, a little lower down the shelving hillside, and, pulling a thorn-bush out of the gateway, I passed into a little wilderness of vagrant grasses and goats. A scheme for the restoration of Mount Venus started up in my mind for about two thousand pounds. I should live in the most beautiful place in the world. The Temple Church cannot compare with Chartres, nor Mount Venus with Windsor; a trifle, no doubt, in the world of art; but what a delicious trifle!... My dream died suddenly in the reflection that one country-house is generally enough for an Irish landlord, and I walked seeking for a man who would spend two thousand pounds on Mount Venus, thereby giving me a house for which I would repay by dedicating all the books I should write inspired by the lovely lines of Howth afloat between sea and sky. Men speculate in racehorses and hounds, yachts and Scottish moors, why is it there is no one who would restore Mount Venus sufficiently for the summer months, long enough for me to write my books and to acquire a permanent memory of a beautiful thing which the earth is claiming rapidly, and which, in a few years, will pass away.

By standing on some loose stones it was possible to look into the first-floor rooms, and I could see marble chimney-pieces set in a long room, up and down which I could walk while arranging my ideas; and when ideas failed me I could suckle my imagination on the view. This is the house I'm in search of, and there seems to be enough furniture for my wants. I'll return tomorrow.... But my pleasure will be lost if I've to wait till tomorrow. Somebody must be here. I'll try again. The silence that answered my knocking strengthened my determination to see Mount Venus that night, and I returned to the empty yard, and peeped and pried through all the outhouses, discovering at last a pail of newly peeled potatoes. There must be somebody about, and I waited, peeling the potatoes that remained unpeeled to pass the time.

I'm afraid I'm wasting your potatoes, I said to the woman who appeared in the doorway—a peasant woman wearing a rough, dark grey petticoat and heavy boots, men's boots (they were almost the first thing I noticed)—just the woman who I expected would come, the caretaker. She spoke with her head turned aside, showing a thin well-cut face with a shapely forehead, iron-grey hair, a nose, long and thin, with fine nostrils, and a mouth a pretty line I think ... but that is all I can say about her, for when I try to remember more I seem to lose sight of her...

'You've come to see the house?

She stopped and looked at me.

Is there any reason why I shouldn't see it?'

(p. 062) 'No, there's no reason why you shouldn't. If you'll wait a minute I'll fetch the key.

She doesn't speak like a caretaker, I thought, nor look like one.

Is it a lease of the house you'd like, or do you wish only to hire it for the season, sir?

Only for the season, I said. It is to be let furnished?

There's not much furniture, but sufficient—

So long as there are beds, and a table to write upon, and a few chairs.

Yes, there's that, and more than that, she answered, smiling. This is the kitchen, and she showed me into a vast stone room; and the passages leading from the kitchen were wide and high, and built in stone. The walls seemed of great thickness, and when we came to the staircase, she said: Mind you don't slip. The stairs are very slippery, but can easily be put right. The stonemason will only have to run his chisel over them.

I'm more interested in the rooms in which I'm to live myself ... if I take the house.

These are the drawing-rooms, she said, and drew my attention to the chimney-piece.

It's very beautiful, I answered, turning from the parti-coloured marbles to the pictures. All the ordinary subjects of pictorial art lined the walls, but I passed on without noticing any, so poor and provincial was the painting, until I came suddenly upon the portrait of a young girl. The painting was hardly better than any I had already seen, but her natural gracefulness transpired in classical folds as she stood leaning on her bow, a Diana of the 'forties, looking across the greensward waiting to hear if the arrow had reached its mark.

Into what kind of old age has she drifted? I asked myself, and the recollection of the thin clear-cut eager face brought me back again to the portrait, and forgetful of the woman I had found in the outhouse peeling potatoes for her dinner, I studied the face, certain that I had seen it before. But where?

Several generations seem to be on these walls, and I asked the caretaker if she knew anything about the people who had lived in the house? It was built about two hundred years ago, I should say, and we wandered into another room. I should like to hear something about the girl whose portrait I've been looking at. There's nothing to conceal? No story—

There's nothing in her story that any one need be ashamed of. But why do you ask? And the manner in which she put the question still further excited my curiosity.

Because it seems to me that I've seen the face before.

Yes, she answered, you have. The portrait in the next room is my portrait ... as I was forty years ago. But I didn't think that any one would see the likeness.

(p. 063) Your portrait! I answered abruptly. Yes, I can see the likeness. And I heard her say under her breath that she had been through a great deal of trouble, and her face was again turned from me as we walked into another room.

But do you wish to take the house, sir? If not—

In some ways it would suit me well enough. I'll write and let you know. And your portrait I shall always remember, I added, thinking to please her. But seeing that my remark failed to do so, I spoke of the water supply, and she told me there was another well: an excellent spring, only the cattle went there to drink; but it would be easy to put an iron fence round it.

And now, if you'll excuse me. It's my dinner-time.

I let her go and wandered whither she had advised me—to the cromlech, one of the grandest in Ireland.

I could not miss it, she had said: I'd find it if I followed the path round the hill in the beech dell: a great rock laid upon three upright stones; one had fallen lately and, in the words of a shepherd I'd consulted, the altar was out of repair. Even Druid altars do not survive the nineteenth century in Ireland, I answered, and still lingering, detained by the ancient stones, my thoughts returned to her whom an artist had painted as Diana the Huntress. A man of some talent, for he had painted her in an attitude that atoned to some extent for the poverty of the painting. Or was it she who gave him the attitude leaning on her bow? Was it she who settled the folds about her limbs, and decided the turn of her head, the eyes looking across the greensward towards the target? Had she fled with somebody whom she had loved dearly and been deserted and cast away on that hillside? Does the house belong to her? Or is she the caretaker? Does she live there with a servant? Or alone, cooking her own dinner? None of my questions would be answered, and I invented story after story to explain her as I returned through the grey evening in which no star appeared, only a red moon rising up through the woods like a fire in the branches.

My single meeting with this woman happened twenty-five years ago, and it is more than likely she is now dead, and the ruins among which she lived are probably a quarry whence the peasants go to fetch stones to build their cottages; many of the beech trees have been felled. Mount Venus has passed away, never to be revived again. But enough of its story is remembered to fill a corner of the book I am dreaming; no more than that, for the book I am dreaming is a man's book, and it should be made of the life that lingered in Mayo till the end of the 'sixties: landlords, their retainers and serfs.

At these words, in the middle of the Temple, a scene rose up before (p. 064) me of a pack of harriers—or shall I say wild dogs?—running into a hare on a bleak hillside, and far away, showing faintly on a pale line of melancholy mountains, a horse rising up in the act of jumping. And on and on came horse and rider, over stone wall after stone wall, till stopped by a wall so high that no horse could jump it, so I thought. The gate of the park was miles away, so the hounds had time, not only to devour the hare they had killed, but to eat many a rabbit. Surrounding the furze, they drove the rabbits this way and that, the whole pack working in concert, as wild dogs might, and the whip, all the while, talking to a group of countrymen, until the hunt began to appear. I must be getting to my hounds now, and picking up the snaffle-rein, he drove the pony at the wall, who, to the admiration of the group, rose at it, kicking it with her hind hooves, landing in style among the hounds quarrelling over bits of skin and bone. The wild huntsman blew his horn and, gathering his hounds round him, said to me, before putting his pony again at the wall: A great little pony, isn't she? And what's half a dozen of rabbits between twenty-two couple of hounds? It'll only give them an appetite, though they've always that. Bedad if they weren't the most intelligent hounds in the country it's dead long ago they'd be of hunger. Do you know of an old jackass? he said, turning to a country-man. If you do you might have a shilling for bringing him. You can have the skin back if you like to come for it.

By this time all the field were up, the master, florid and elderly, and a quarrel began between him and the huntsman, whom he threatened to sack in the morning for not being up with the hounds.

Wasn't there six foot of a wall between us? And they as hungry as hawks?

But if the pony was able to lep the wall, why didn't you ride her at it at once?

And so I did, your honour.

And the countrymen were called and they testified.

Well, Pat, you must be up in time to get the next hare from them, for if you don't, it's myself and Johnny Malone that will be drinking our punch on empty bellies, which isn't good for any man. And away went the master in search of his dinner over the grey plain, under rolling clouds threatening rain, the hounds trying the patches of furze for another hare, and the field—a dozen huntsmen with a lady amongst them—waiting, talking to each other about their horses. I could see Pat pressing his wonderful pony forward, on the alert for stragglers, assuring Bell-Ringer with a terrific crack of his whip that he was not likely to find a hare where he was looking for one, and must get into the furze instantly; and then I caught a glimpse of the ragged peasantry following the hunt over the plains of Ballyglass, just as they used to follow it, (p. 065) a fierce wind thrilling in their shaggy chests, and they speaking Irish to each other, calling to the master in English.

A place must be found, I said to myself, in my story for that pack of hounds, for its master, for its whip, and for the marvellous pony, and for a race-meeting, whether at Ballinrobe or Breaghwy or Castlebar. Castlebar for preference. The horde of peasantry would look well amid the line of hills enclosing the plain: old men in knee-breeches and tall hats, young men in trousers, cattle-dealers in great overcoats reaching to their heels, wearing broad-brimmed hats, everybody with a broad Irish grin on his face, and everybody with his blackthorn. Of a sudden I could see a crowd gathered to watch a bucking chestnut, a sixteen-hands horse with a small boy in pink upon his back. Now the horse hunches himself up till he seems like a hillock; his head is down between his legs, his hind legs are in the air, but he doesn't rid himself of his burden. He plunges forward, he rises—up, coming down again, his head between his legs; and the boy, still unstirred, recalls the ancient dream of the Centaur.

Bedad! he's the greatest rider in Ireland, a crowd of tinkers and peasants are saying, the tinkers hurrying up to see the sport, retiring hurriedly as the horse plunges in their direction, running great danger of being kicked.

So did I remember the scene as I walked about the Temple that moonlit night, the very words of the tinkers chiming in my head after many years: Isn't he a devil? cries one; it's in the circus he ought to be. Mickey was near off that time, cries another, and while the great fight was waged between horse and jockey, my father rode up, crying to the crowd to disperse, threatening that if the course was not cleared in a few minutes he would ride in amongst them, and he on a great bay stallion. I'll ride in amongst you; you'll get kicked, you'll get kicked. Even at this distance of time I can feel the very pang of fear which I endured, lest the horse my father was riding should kick some peasant and kill him, for, even in those feudal days, a peasant's life was considered of some value, and the horse my father rode quivered with excitement and impatience. Get back! Get back or there'll be no racing today. And you, Mickey Ford, if you can't get that horse to the post, I'll start without you. Give him his head, put the spurs into him, thrash him! And taking my father at his word, Mickey raised his whip, and down it came sounding along the golden hide. The horse bounded higher, but without getting any nearer to unseating his rider, and away they went towards the starting-point, my father crying to the jockeys that they must get into line, telling Mickey that if he didn't walk his horse to the post he would disqualify him, and Mickey swearing that his horse was unmanageable, and my father swearing that the jockey was touching him on (p. 066) the offside with his spur. It seemed to me my father was very cruel to the poor boy whose horse wouldn't keep quiet. A moment after they were galloping over the rough fields, bounding over the stone walls, the ragged peasantry rebuilding the walls for the next race, waving their sticks, running from one corner of the field to another, and no one thinking at all of the melancholy line of wandering hills enclosing the plain.

A scene to be included in the novel I was dreaming, and, for the moment, my father appeared to me as the principal character; but only for a moment. Something much rougher, more Irish, more uncouth, more Catholic, was required. My father was a Catholic, but only of one generation, and to produce the pure Catholic several are necessary. The hero of my novel must be sought and found among the Catholic end of my family, a combination of sportsman and cattle-dealer. Andy on his grey mare careering after the Blazers, rolling about like a sack in the saddle, but always leading the field, tempted me, until my thoughts were suddenly diverted by a remembrance of a Curragh meeting, with Dan who had brought up a crack from Galway and was going to break the ring.

Dan, aren't you going to see your horse run? cried I. He'll run the same whether I'm looking at him or not. And Dan, in his long yellow mackintosh, hurrying through the bookies, rose up in my mind, as true and distinct and characteristic of Ireland as the poor woman I had discovered among the Dublin mountains. She had fixed herself on my mind as she was in a single moment. Dan I had seen many times, in all kinds of different circumstances; all the same, it is in his mackintosh at the Curragh meeting, on his way to the urinal, that I remember him—in his tall silk hat (every one wore a tall silk hat at the Curragh in the 'seventies); but Dan was only half himself in a hat, for whoever saw him remembers the long white skull over which he trailed a lock of black hair—the long skull which I have inherited from my mother's family—and the long pale face; and his hands were like mine, long, delicate, female hands; one of Dan's sisters had the most beautiful hands I ever saw. He'll run the same whether I'm looking at him or not, and Dan laughed craftily, for craft and innocency were mingled strangely in his face. Dan had a sense of humour. Or did I mistake a certain naturalness for humour? Be that as it may, when I was in Galway I was often tempted to ride over to see him.

It will be difficult to get him on to paper, I reflected. His humour will not transpire if I'm not very careful, for, though I may transcribe the very words he uttered, they will mean little on paper unless I get his atmosphere: the empty house at Dunamon, the stables about it filled with racehorses, most of them broken down, for no four legs ever stood (p. 067) more than two years' training over the rough fields which Dan called his racecourse. A four-year-old, with back sinews and suspensory ligaments sound, rarely stood in the Dunamon stables, a chaser or two perchance. All the same Dan did not lose money on the turf; a stroke of luck kept him going for a long time, and these strokes of luck happened every five or six years. Every five or six years he would arrive at the Curragh with a two-year-old, which, on account of its predecessors' failures, would be quoted on the list at ten to one. Dan knew how to back him quietly; his backing was done surreptitiously, without taking any one into his confidence, not even his cousins. It was no use going to Dunamon to ask him questions; the only answer one ever got was:

There he is, quite well, but whether he can gallop or not, I can't tell you. I've nothing to try him with. There he is; go and look at him.

At the post he might advise us to put a fiver on him, if he wasn't in too great a hurry. Is your money on him, Dan? one of his cousins cried. Dan turned only to say: it's all right, and from his words we guessed, and guessed rightly, that the horse had been backed to win seven or eight thousand pounds, enough to keep the Dunamon establishment going for the next four or five years.

As soon as a horse broke down he was let loose on Lagaphouca, a rocky headland, where the cracks of yesteryear picked up a living as best they could. He treated his horses as the master of the harriers treated his hounds: intelligent animals who could be counted upon to feed themselves. He loved them, too, in his own queer way, for he never made any attempt to sell them, knowing that the only use they could be put to, after he had finished training them, would be to draw cabs; and though food was scarce in Lagaphouca in winter, they were probably happier there than they would have been in a livery-stable. Only once did Dan sell his horses. My brother, the Colonel, succeeded in buying three from him. Any three you like, Dan said, at twenty-five pounds apiece. At that time Lagaphouca was full of wild horses, and the Colonel's story is that he only just escaped being eaten, which is probably an exaggeration. But he chose three, and his choice was successful. He won may races.... But I must keep to my own story.

I had wandered round the church of the Templars, and, after admiring the old porch, and the wig-maker's shop, and the cloister, turned into Pump Court. Up there aloft Edward was sleeping. Then, leaving Pump Court, I found my way through a brick passage to a seat under the plane trees in Fountain Court, and I sat there waiting for Symons, who returned home generally about one. The Temple clock clanged out the half-hour, and I said: Tonight he must be sleeping out, and continued my memories to the tune of water dripping, startled now and then by the carp plunging in the silence, recollecting suddenly that (p. 068) the last time I went to Dunamon, Dan was discovered by me before an immense peat fire burning in an open grate. The chimney-piece had fallen some time ago; one of the marbles had been broken, and it was difficult to replace the slab. No mason in the country could undertake the job; all the skilled workmen had gone out of the country, he said. But one did not discuss the evils of emigration with Dan, knowing what his answer would be.

As long, he would say, as the people want to go to America they'll go, and when America is out of fashion they'll stay at home.... There will always be enough people here for me.

On one occasion when I rode over to Dunamon to get news of what horses Dan was going to run at the next meeting of the Curragh, Bridget opened the door to me. The master is not in the house, she said, but if you'll wait in the drawing-room I'll go and find him for you. I would have preferred to go round to the stables to seek Dan myself; he was generally to be found in the stables, but not wishing to distress Bridget I walked into the room and my eyes went at once to the piano on which his sisters had played, and to the pictures they had admired. The room was empty, cheerless, dilapidated, but it was strangely clean for a room in the charge of an Irish peasant of Bridget's class. I shall speak of her anon; now I must speak of the two pictures of dogs going after birds, reddish dogs with long ears, for I used to detest them when I was a child—why I never knew, they seemed foolish; now they seemed merely quaint, and I wondered at my former aversion. Under one of them stood the piano—a grand, made in the beginning of the nineteenth century. The Virgin's Prayer lay still on top of a heap of music unlocked into by Dan, for when he touched a piano it was to play his memories of operas heard long ago in his youth. No doubt he often turned for refreshment to this piano after an excellent dinner cooked by Bridget, who, when she had done washing up, would appear in the drawing-room, for she was not confined to the bedroom and the kitchen. Dan was a human fellow, who would not keep his mistress unduly in the kitchen, and I can see Bridget bringing her knitting with her, and hear Dan playing to her, until, overtaken by love or weariness, he would cease to strum Traviata or Trovatore and go to her.

Nobody ever witnessed this scene, but it must have happened just as I tell it.

A pretty girl Bridget certainly was, and one that any man would have liked to kiss, and one whom I should like to have kissed had I not been prevented by a prejudice. We are all victims of prejudice of one kind or another, and as the prejudice which prevented me from kissing Bridget inclines towards those which are regarded as virtues, I will tell the reader that the reason I refrained from kissing Dan's mistress was (p. 069) because it has always been the tradition in the West that my family never yielded to such indulgences as peasant mistresses or the esuriences of hot punch: nobody but Archbishop McHale was allowed punch in my father's house; the common priests who dined there at election times had to lap claret. And, proud of my family's fortitudes, I refrained from Bridget.

But if you respect your family so much, why do you lift the veil on Dan's frailties? I often asked myself, and the answer my heart gave back was: if I did not do so, I should not think of Dan at all; and what we all dread most is to be forgotten. If I don't write about him I shall not be able to forget the large sums of money I lost by being put on the wrong horses. I am sure he would like to make amends to me for those losses; and the only way he can do this now is by giving me sittings. His brother and sisters will, no doubt, think my portrait in bad taste, the prejudices of our time being that a man's frailties should not be written about. It is difficult to understand why a mistress should be looked upon as a frailty, and writing about the sin more grievous than the sin itself. These are questions which might be debated till morning, and as it is very nearly morning now, it will be well to leave their consideration to some later time, and to decide at once that Dan shall become a piece of literature in my hands. It is no part of my morality to urge that nobody's feelings should be regarded if the object be literature. But I would ask why one set of feelings should be placed above another? Why the feelings of my relations should be placed above Dan's? For, if Dan were in a position to express himself now, who would dare to say that he would like his love of Bridget to be forgotten? There is nothing more human, as Pater remarks, than the wish to be remembered for some years after death, and Dan was essentially a human being, and Bridget was a human being. So why should I defraud them of an immortality opened up to them by a chance word spoken by Edward Martyn in his garret in Pump Court? If my cousins complain, I'll answer them: We see things from different sides: you from a catholic, I from a literary. What a side of life to choose! I hear them saying, and myself answering: Dan's love of Bridget was what was best in him, and what was most like him. It is in this preference that Dan is above you, for alone among you he sought beauty. Bridget was a pretty girl, and beauty in a woman is all that a man like Dan could be expected to seek. Whoever amongst you has bought an Impressionist picture or a Pre-Raphaelite picture let him first cast a stone. But not one of you ever bought any object because you thought it beautiful, so leave me to tell Dan's story in my own way. His love of Bridget I hold in higher esteem than Mat's desire, during the last ten years of his life, to buy himself a seat in Heaven in the front row, a desire which, by the way, cost him many hundreds a year.

(p. 070) At that moment a leaf floated down, and, forgetful of my tale, I looked up into the tree, admiring the smooth stem, the beautiful growth, the multitudinous leaves above me and the leaf in my hand. Enough light came through the branches for me to admire the pattern so wonderfully designed, and I said: How intense life seems here in this minute! Yet in a few years my life in the Temple will have passed, will have become as dim as those years of Dan's life in Dunamon. But are these years dim or merely distant?

A carp splashed in the fountain basin. How foolish that fish would think me if he could think at all, wasting my time sitting here, thinking of Dan instead of going to bed! But being a human being, and not a carp, and Dan being a side of humanity which appealed to me, I continued to think of him and Bridget—dead days rising up in my mind one after the other. I had gone to Mayo to write A Mummer's Wife, and Dan had lent me a riding-horse, a great black beast with no shoulders, but good enough to ride after a long morning's work, and a rumour having reached me that something had gone wrong with one of his cracks, I rode over to Dunamon. The horse was restive and seventeen hands high, so I did not venture to dismount but halloed outside, and receiving no answer rode round to the stables, and inquired for the master of every stableman and jockey, without getting a satisfactory answer. Every one seemed reticent. The master had gone to Dublin, said one; another, slinking away, mentioned he was thinking of going, perhaps he had gone, and seeing they did not wish to answer me, I called to one, slung myself out of the saddle and walked into the kitchen.

Well, Bridget, how are you today?

Well, thank you, sir.

What's this I'm hearing in the stables about the master going to Dublin?

Ah, you've been hearing that? and a smile lit up Bridget's pretty eyes.

Isn't it true? Bridget hesitated, and I added: Is it that he doesn't want to see me?

Indeed, sir, he's always glad to see you.

And my curiosity excited, I pressed her.

It's just that he don't want to be showing himself to everybody.

To deceive her my face assumed a grave air.

No trouble with the tenants, I hope? Nothing of that sort?

The people are quiet enough round here.

Well, Bridget, I've always thought you a pretty girl. Tell me, what has happened? And to lead her further I said: But you and the master are just as good friends as ever, aren't you? Nothing to do with you, Bridget? I'd be sorry—

With me, sir? Sure, it isn't from me he'd be hiding in the garden.

(p. 071) Unless, Bridget, he's beginning to grow holy, like Mr Mat, who is a very holy man up in Dublin now, wearing a white beard, never going out except to chapel; far too repentant for the priest, who, it is said, would be glad to get rid of him.

How is that, sir?

He cries out in the middle of Mass that God may spare his soul, interrupting everybody else's prayers. I never liked that sort of thing myself, Bridget, and have never understood how God could be pleased with a man for sending his children and their mother to America. You know of whom I'm talking?

Bridget did not answer for a while, and when I repeated my question she said:

Of course I do. Of Ellen Ford.

Yes, that is of whom I'm thinking.

And then, looking round to see if anybody was within hearing, she told me how two of Mr Mat's sons had come back from America, bothering Mr Dan for their father's address.

Two fine young fellows, the two of them as tall as Mr Mat himself.

And to escape from his nephews the master locks himself up in the garden? Excellent security in eighteen feet of a wall.

But didn't they get into the trees—Mr Mat's two big sons—and Mr Dan never suspecting it walked underneath them, and then it was that they gave him the length and breadth of their tongues, and the whole stable listening. The smile died out of her eyes, and fearing that one day her lot might be Ellen Ford's, Bridget said: Wouldn't it be more natural for Mr Mat to have married Ellen and made a good wife of her than sending her to America and her sons coming back to bother Mr Dan?

It was a cruel thing, Bridget.

That's always the way, Bridget answered, and she moved a big saucepan from one side of the range to the other. You'll find him in the garden if you knock three times.

I'll go and fetch him presently.

Will you be staying to dinner, sir?

That depends on what you're cooking.

A pair of boiled ducks today.

Boiled ducks!

Don't you like them boiled? You won't be saying anything against my cooking, if you stay to dinner, will you?

Not a word against your cooking. Excellent cooking, Bridget.

And as she busied herself about the range, thinking of the ducks boiling in the saucepan, or thinking of what her fate would be if Dan died before making a good wife of her, I studied the swing of her hips, still (p. 072) shapely, but at thirty a peasant's figure begins to tell of the hard work she has done, and as she bent over the range I noticed that she wore a little more apron-string than she used to wear.

The return of Mat's two sons from America seemed to have made her a little anxious about her own future. Any day, I said, another girl may be brought up from the village, and then Bridget will be seen less frequently upstairs. She'll receive ten or twelve pounds a year for cleaning and cooking, and perhaps after a little while drift away like a piece of broken furniture into the outhouses. That will be her fate, unless she becomes my cousin, and the possibility of finding myself suddenly related to Bridget caused a little pensiveness to come into my walk. It was not necessary that Dan should marry her, but he should make her a handsome allowance if some years of damned hard luck on the turf should compel him to marry his neighbour's daughter; enlarged suspensory ligaments have made many marriages in Mayo and Galway; and I went about the Temple remembering that when —— was going to marry ——, the bride's relations had gathered round the fire to decide the fate of the peasant girl and her children. They were all at sixes and sevens until a pious old lady muttered: Let him emigrate them; whereupon they rubbed their shins complacently. But Bridget was not put away; Dan died in her arms. After that her story becomes legendary. It has been said that she remained at Dunamon, and washed and cooked and scrubbed for the next of kin, and wore her life away there as a humble servant at the smallest wage that could be offered to her. And it has been said that she made terms with the next of kin and got a considerable sum from him, and went to America and keeps a boarding-house in Chicago. And I have heard, too, that she ended her days in the workhouse, a little crumpled ruin, amid other ruins, every one with her own story.

Bridget is a type in the West of Ireland, and I have known so many that perhaps I am confusing one story with another. For the purpose of my book any one of these endings would do. The best would, perhaps, be a warm cottage, a pleasant thatch, a garden, hollyhocks, and bee-hives. In such a cottage I can see Bridget an old woman. But the end of a life is not a thing that can be settled at once, walking about in moonlight, for what seems true then may seem fictitious next day. And already Dan and Bridget had begun to seem a little too trite and respectable for my purpose. When he came to be written out Dan would differ little from the characters to be found in Lever and Lover. They would have served him up with the usual sauce, a sort of restaurant gravy which makes everything taste alike, whereas painted by me, Dan would get into something like reality, he would attain a certain dignity; but a rougher being would suit my purpose better, and I fell to thinking of (p. 073) one of Dan's hirelings, Carmody, a poacher, the most notorious in Mayo and Galway, and so wary that he escaped convictions again and again; and when Dan appointed him as gamekeeper there was no further use to think about bringing him for trial, for wasn't Dan on the Bench?

Carmody shot and fished over what land and what rivers he pleased. My friend's grouse, woodcock, snipe, wild duck, teal, widgeon, hares, and rabbits, went to Dunamon, and during the composition of A Mummer's Wife, when my palate longed for some change from beef and mutton, I had to invite Carmody to shoot with me or eat my dinner at Dunamon. He knew where ducks went by in the evening, and Carmody never fired without bringing down his bird—a real poaching shot and a genial companion, full of stories of the country. It is regrettable that I did not put them into my pocket-book at the time, for if I had I should be able now to write a book original in every line.

The old woodranger looked at me askance when I brought Carmody from Dunamon to shoot over my friend's lands. The worst man that ever saw daylight, he would say. I pressed him to tell me of Carmody's misdeeds, and he told me many ... but at this distance of time it is difficult to recall the tales I heard of Carmody's life among the mountains, trapping rabbits, and setting springes for woodcocks, going down to the village at night, battering in doors, saying he must have a sheaf of straw to lie on.

We used to row out to the islands and lie waiting for the ducks until they came in from the marshes; and those cold hours Carmody would while away with stories of the wrongs that had been done him, and the hardships he had endured before he found a protector in Dan. The account he gave of himself differed a good deal from the one which I heard from the woodranger, and looking into his pale eyes, I often wondered if it were true that he used to entice boys into the woods, and when he had led them far enough, turn upon them savagely, beating them, leaving them for dead. Why should he commit such devilry? I often asked myself without discovering any reason, except that finding the world against him he thought he might as well have a blow at the world when he got the chance.

Many a poor girl was sorry she ever met with him, the woodranger would say, and I asked him how, if he were such a wild man, girls would follow him into the woods? Them tramps always have a following; and he told me a story he had heard from a boy in the village. A knocking at the door had waked the boy, and he lay quaking, listening to his young sister telling Carmody it was too late to let him in, but Carmody caught a hold of her and dragged her out through the door, so the boy told me, and he heard them going down the road, Carmody (p. 074) crying: Begob, I've seen that much of you that you'll be no use to anybody else.

And what became of the girl? Did he marry her?

Sorra marry; he sold her to a tinker, it is said to the one who used to play the pipes. I thought you said he was a tinker. So he was; but he used to play the pipes in the dancing-houses on a Sunday night, till one night Father O'Farrell got out of his bed and walked across the bog and pushed open the door without a By your leave or With your leave, and making straight for the old tinker in the corner, snatched the pipes from him and threw them on the floor, and began dancing upon them himself, and them squeaking all the time, and he saying every time he jumped on them: Ah, the divil is in them still. Do you hear him roarin'?

I closed my eyes a little and licked my lips as I walked, thinking of the pleasure it would be to tell this story ... and to tell it in its place. The priest would have to be a friend of the family that lived in the Big House; he would perhaps come up to teach the children Latin, or they might go to him. Dan and his lass were typical of Catholic Ireland, tainted through and through with peasantry. True that every family begins with the peasant; it rises, when it rises, through its own genius. The cross is the worst stock of all, the pure decadent. But he must come into the book. Never was there such a subject, I said, as the one I am dreaming. Dan, Bridget, Carmody and his friends the tinkers—with these it should be possible to write something that would be read as long as—

And while thinking of a simile wherewith to express the durability of the book, I remembered that Ireland had not been seen by me for many years, and to put the smack of immortality upon it, it would be necessary to live in Ireland, in a cabin in the West; only in that way could I learn the people, become intimate with them again. The present is an English-speaking generation, or very nearly, so Edward told me; mine was an Irish-speaking. The workmen that came up from the village to the Big House spoke it always, and the boatmen on the lake whispered it over their oars to my annoyance, until at last the temptation came along to learn it; and the memory of that day floated up like a wraith from the lake: the two boatmen and myself, they anxious to teach me the language—a decisive day for Ireland, for if I had learned the language from the boatmen (it would have been easy to do so then) a book would have been written about Carmody and the tinker that would have set all Europe talking; and the novel dreamed in the Temple by me, written in a new language, or in a language revived, would have been a great literary event, and the Irish language would now be a flourishing concern. Now it is too late. That day on Lough Carra its fate was decided, unless, indeed, genius awakens in one of the islanders off the (p. 075) coast where Edward tells me only Irish is spoken. If such a one were to write a book about his island he would rank above all living writers, and he would be known for evermore as the Irish Dante. But the possibility of genius, completely equipped, arising in the Arran Islands seemed a little remote. To quote that very trite, mutton-chop-whiskered gentleman, Matthew Arnold, not only the man is required, but the moment.

The novel dreamed that night in the Temple could not be written by an Arran islander, so it will never be written, for alas! the impulse in me to redeem Ireland from obscurity was not strong enough to propel me from London to Holyhead, and then into a steamboat, and across Ireland to Galway, whence I should take a hooker whose destination was some fishing harbour in the Atlantic. No, it was not strong enough, and nothing is more depressing than the conviction that one is not a hero. And, feeling that I was not the predestined hero whom Cathleen ni Houlihan had been waiting for through the centuries, I fell to sighing, not for Cathleen ni Houlihan's sake, but my own, till my senses stiffening a little with sleep, thoughts began to repeat themselves.

Other men are sad because their wives and mistresses are ill, or because they die, or because there has been a fall in Consols, because their names have not appeared in the list of newly created peers, baronets, and knights; but the man of letters ... my energy for that evening was exhausted, and I was too weary to try to remember what Dujardin had said on the subject.

A chill came into the air, corresponding exactly with the chill that had fallen upon my spirit; the silence grew more intense and grey, and all the buildings stood stark and ominous.

Out of such stuff as Ireland dreams are made.... I haven't thought of Ireland for ten years, and tonight in an hour's space I have dreamed Ireland from end to end. When shall I think of her again? In another ten years; that will be time enough to think of her again. And on these words I climbed the long stone stairs leading to my garret.


One of Ireland's many tricks is to fade away to a little speck down on the horizon of our lives, and then to return suddenly in tremendous bulk, frightening us. My words were: In another ten years it will be time enough to think of Ireland again. But Ireland rarely stays away so long. As well as I can reckon, it was about five years after my meditation in the Temple that W. B. Yeats, the Irish poet, came to see me in my flat in Victoria Street, followed by Edward. My surprise was great at seeing them arrive together, not knowing that they even knew each other; (p. 076) and while staring at them I remembered they had met in my rooms in the King's Bench Walk. But how often had Edward met my friends and liked them, in a way, yet not enough to compel him to hook himself on to them by a letter or a visit? He is one of those self-sufficing men who drift easily into the solitude of a pipe or a book; yet he is cheerful, talkative, and forthcoming when one goes to see him. Our fellowship began in boyhood, and there is affection on his side as well as mine, I am sure of that; all the same he has contributed few visits to the maintenance of our friendship. It is I that go to him, and it was this knowledge of the indolence of his character that caused me to wonder at seeing him arrive with Yeats. Perhaps seeing them together stirred some fugitive jealousy in me, which passed away when the servant brought in the lamp, for, with the light behind them, my visitors appeared a twain as fantastic as anything ever seen in Japanese prints—Edward great in girth as an owl (he is nearly as neckless), blinking behind his glasses, and Yeats lank as a rook, a-dream in black silhouette on the flowered wallpaper.

But rooks and owls do not roost together, nor have they a habit or an instinct in common. A mere doorstep casualty, I said, and began to prepare a conversation suitable to both, which was, however checked by the fateful appearance they presented, sitting side by side, anxious to speak, yet afraid. They had clearly come to me on some great business! But about what, about what? I waited for the servant to leave the room, and as soon as the door was closed they broke forth, telling together that they had decided to found a Literary Theatre in Dublin; so I sat like one confounded, saying to myself: Of course they know nothing of Independent Theatres, and, in view of my own difficulties in gathering sufficient audience for two or three performances, pity began to stir in me for their forlorn project. A forlorn thing it was surely to bring literary plays to Dublin!... Dublin of all cities in the world!

It is Yeats, I said, who has persuaded dear Edward, and looking from one to the other, I thought how the cunning rook had enticed the profound owl from his belfry—an owl that has stayed out too late, and is nervous lest he should not be able to find his way back; perplexed, too, by other considerations, lest the Dean and Chapter, having heard of the strange company he is keeping, may have, during his absence, bricked up the entrance to his roost.

As I was thinking these things, Yeats tilted his chair in such dangerous fashion that I had to ask him to desist, and I was sorry to have to do that, so much like a rook did he seem when the chair was on its hind legs. But if ever there was a moment for seriousness, this was one, so I treated them to a full account of the Independent Theatre, begging them not to waste their plays upon Dublin. It would give me no pleasure whatever (p. 077) to produce my plays in London, Edward said. I have done with London. Martyn would prefer the applause of our own people, murmured Yeats, and he began to speak of the by-streets, and the lanes, and the alleys, and how one feels at home when one is among one's own people.

Ninety-nine is the beginning of the Celtic Renaissance, said Edward.

I am glad to hear it, I answered; the Celt wants a Renaissance, and badly; he has been going down in the world for the last two thousand years. We are thinking, said Yeats, of putting a dialogue in Irish before our play ... Usheen and Patrick. Irish spoken on the stage in Dublin! You are not—Interrupting me, Edward began to blurt out that a change had come, that Dublin was no longer a city of barristers, judges, and officials pursuing a round of mean interests and trivial amusements, but the capital of the Celtic Renaissance.

With all the arts for crown—a new Florence, I said, looking at Edward incredulously, scornfully perhaps, for to give a Literary Theatre to Dublin seemed to me like giving a mule a holiday, and when he pressed me to say if I were with them, I answered with reluctance that I was not; whereupon, and without further entreaty, the twain took up their hats and staves, and they were by the open door before I could beg them not to march away like that, but to give me time to digest what they had been saying to me, and for a moment I walked to and forth, troubled by the temptation, for I am naturally propense to thrust my finger into every literary pie-dish. Something was going on in Ireland for sure, and remembering the literary tone that had crept into a certain Dublin newspaper—somebody sent me the Express on Saturdays—I said, I'm with you, but only platonically. You must promise not to ask me to rehearse your plays. I spoke again about the Independent Theatre, and of the misery I had escaped from when I cut the painter.

But you'll come to Ireland to see our plays, said Edward. Come to Ireland! and I looked at Edward suspiciously; a still more suspicious glance fell upon Yeats. Come to Ireland! Ireland and I have ever been strangers, without an idea in common. It never does an Irishman any good to return to Ireland ... and we know it.

One of the oldest of our stories, Yeats began. Whenever he spoke these words a thrill came over me; I knew they would lead me through accounts of strange rites and prophecies, and at that time I believed that Yeats, by some power of divination, or of ancestral memory, understood the hidden meaning of the legends, and whenever he began to tell them I became impatient of interruption. But it was now myself that interrupted, for, however great the legend he was about to tell, and however subtle his interpretation, it would be impossible for me to give him my attention until I had been told how he had met Edward, and all the circumstances of the meeting, and how they had arrived at an (p. 078) agreement to found an Irish Literary Theatre. The story was disappointingly short and simple. When Yeats had said that he had spent the summer at Coole with Lady Gregory I saw it all; Coole is but three miles from Tillyra: Edward is often at Coole; Lady Gregory and Yeats are often at Tillyra; Yeats and Edward had written plays—the drama brings strange fowls to roost.

So an owl and a rook have agreed to build in Dublin. A strange nest indeed they will put together, one bringing sticks, and the other—with what materials does the owl build? My thoughts hurried on, impatient to speculate on what would happen when the shells began to chip. Would the young owls cast out the young rooks, or would the young rooks cast out the young owls, and what view would the beholders take of this wondrous hatching? And what view would the Church?

So it was in Galway the nest was builded, and Lady Gregory elected to the secretaryship, I said. The introduction of Lady Gregory's name gave me pause.... And you have come over to find actors, and rehearse your plays. Wonderful, Edward, wonderful! I admire you both, and am with you, but on my conditions. You will remember them? And now tell me, do you think you'll find an audience in Dublin capable of appreciating The Heather Field?

Ideas are only appreciated in Ireland, Edward answered, somewhat defiantly.

I begged them to stay to dinner, for I wanted to hear about Ireland, but they went away, speaking of an appointment with Miss Vernon—that name or some other name—a lady who was helping them to collect a cast.

As soon as they had news they could come to me again. And on this I returned to my room deliciously excited, thrilling all over at the thought of an Irish Literary Theatre, and my own participation in the Celtic Renaissance brought about by Yeats. So the drama, I muttered, was not dead but sleeping, and while the hour before dinner was going by, I recalled an evening I had spent about two years ago in the Avenue Theatre, and it amused me to remember the amazement with which I watched Yeats marching round the dress circle after the performance of his little one-act play, The Land of Heart's Desire. His play neither pleased nor displeased; it struck me as an inoffensive trifle, but himself had provoked a violent antipathy as he strode to and forth at the back of the dress circle, a long black cloak drooping from his shoulders, a soft black sombrero on his head, a voluminous black silk tie flowing from his collar, loose black trousers dragging untidily over his long, heavy feet—a man of such excessive appearance that I could not do otherwise—could I?—than to mistake him for an Irish parody of the poetry that I had seen all my life strutting its rhythmic way in the alleys of the Luxembourg (p. 079) Gardens, preening its rhymes by the fountains, excessive in habit and gait.

As far back as the days when I was a Frenchman, I had begun to notice that whosoever adorns himself will soon begin to adorn his verses, so robbing them of that intimate sense of life which we admire in Verlaine: his verses proclaim him to have been a man of modest appearance. Never did Hugo or Banville affect any eccentricity of dress—and there are others. But let us be content with the theory, and refrain from collecting facts to support it, for in doing so we shall come upon exceptions, and these will have to be explained away. Suffice it to say, therefore, that Yeats's appearance at the Avenue Theatre confirmed me in the belief that his art could not be anything more than a pretty externality, if it were as much, and I declined to allow Nettleship to introduce me to him. No, my good friend, I don't want to know him; he wouldn't interest me, not any more than the Book of Kells—not so much; Kells has at all events the merit of being archaic, whereas—No, no; to speak to him would make me 'eave—if I may quote a girl whom I heard speaking in the street yesterday.

It was months after, when I had forgotten all about Yeats, that my fingers distractedly picked up a small volume of verse out of the litter in Nettleship's room. Yeats! And after turning over a few pages, I called to Nettleship, who, taking advantage of my liking for the verses, begged again that he might be allowed to arrange a meeting, and, seduced by the strain of genuine music that seemed to whisper through the volume, I consented.

The Cheshire Cheese was chosen as a tryst, and we started for that tavern one summer afternoon, talking of poetry and painting by turns, stopping at the corner of the street to finish an argument or an anecdote. Oxford Street was all aglow in the sunset, and Nettleship told, as we edged our way through the crowds, how Yeats's great poem was woven out of the legends of the Fianna, and stopped to recite verses from it so often that when we arrived at the Cheshire Cheese we found the poet sitting in front of a large steak, eating abstractedly, I thought, as if he did not know what he was eating, hearing, if he heard at all, with only half an ear, the remonstrance that Nettleship addressed to him for having failed to choose Friday to dine at the Cheshire Cheese, it being the day when steak-and-kidney pudding was on at that tavern. He moved up the bench to make room for me as for a stranger: somebody overheard the unkind things I said at the Avenue Theatre and repeated them to him, I said to myself. However this may be, we shall have to get through the dinner as best we can.

Nettleship informed me that Yeats was writing a work on Blake, and the moment Blake's name was mentioned Yeats seemed altogether (p. 080) to forget the food before him, and very soon we were deep in a discussion regarding the Book of Thel, which Nettleship said was Blake's most effectual essay in metre. The designs that accompanied Blake's texts were known to me, and when the waiter brought us our steaks, Blake was lost sight of in the interest of the food, and in our interest in Yeats's interpretation of Blake's teaching.

But as the dinner at the Cheshire Cheese was given so that I should make Yeats's acquaintance, Nettleship withdrew from the conversation, leaving me to continue it, expecting, no doubt, that the combat of our wits would provide him with an entertainment as exciting as that of the cock-fights which used to take place a century ago in the adjoining yard. So there was no choice for me but to engage in disputation or to sulk, and the reader will agree that I did well to choose the former course, though the ground was all to my disadvantage, my knowledge of Blake being but accidental. There was however, no dread of combat in me, my adversary not inspiring the belief that he would prove a stout one, and feeling sure that without difficulty I could lay him dead before Nettleship, I rushed at him, all my feathers erect. Yeats parried a blow on which I counted, and he did this so quickly and with so much ease that he threw me at once. A dialectician, I muttered, of the very first rank; one of a different kind from any I have met before; and a little later I began to notice that Yeats was sparring beautifully, avoiding my rushes with great ease, evidently playing to tire me, with the intention of killing me presently with a single spur stroke. In the bout that ensued I was nearly worsted, but at the last an answer shot into my mind. Yeats would have discovered its weakness in a moment, and I might have fared ill, so it was a relief to me to notice that he seemed willing to drop our argument about Blake and to talk about something else. He was willing to do this, perhaps because he did not care to humiliate me, or it may have been that he wearied of talking about a literature to one who was imperfectly acquainted with it, or it may have been that I made a better show in argument than I thought for.

We might indulge in endless conjectures, and the simplest course will be to assume that the word dramatic led the conversation away from Blake. In Blake there is a great deal of drama, but in Yeats, as far as I knew his poetry, there was none, and his little play The Land of Heart's Desire did not convince me that there ever would be any; but Yeats's idea about Yeats was different from mine. About this time he was thinking of himself as a dramatist and was anxious for me to tell him what his chances were of obtaining a hearing for a literary play in London. The Land of Heart's Desire was not the only play he had written; there was another—a four-act play in verse, which my politeness said would give me much pleasure to read. I had met with many beautiful verses in the (p. 081) little volume picked up in Nettleship's rooms. Yeats bowed his acknowledgment of my compliments, and the smile of faint gratification that trickled round his shaven lips seemed a little too dignified; nor did I fail to notice that he refrained from any mention of my own writings, and wondering how Esther Waters would strike him, I continued the conversation, finding him at every turn a more enjoying fellow than any I had met for a long time. Very soon, however, it transpired that he was allowing me to talk of the subjects that interested me, without relinquishing for a moment his intention of returning to the subject that interested him, which was to discover what his chances were of getting a verse play produced in London. Two or three times I ignored his attempts to change the conversation, but at last yielded to his quiet persistency, and treated him to an account of the Independent Theatre and of its first performance organised by me, and, warming to my subject, I told him of the play that I had agreed to write if Mr G. R. Sims would give a hundred pounds for a stall from which he might watch the performance. The stipulated price brought the desired perplexity into Yeats's face, and it was amusing to add to his astonishment with—And I got the hundred pounds. As he was obviously waiting to hear the story of the hundred-pounds stall I told him that Sims was a popular dramatist, to whom a reporter had gone with a view to gathering his opinions regarding independent drama, and that in the course of Sims's remarks about Ibsen, allusion had been made to the ideas expressed by me regarding literature in drama; and, as if to give point to his belief in the limitations of dramatic art, he had said that he would give a hundred pounds if Mr George Moore would write an unconventional play for the Independent Theatre. The reporter came to me with his newspaper, and after reading his interview with Mr Sims, he asked me for my answer to Mr Sims's challenge. I am afraid Mr Sims is spoofing you. (In the 'nineties the word spoofing replaced the old word humbug, and of late years it seems to be heard less frequently; but as it evokes a time gone by, I may be excused for reviving it here.) If you write a play, the reporter answered, Mr Sims will not refuse to give the hundred pounds.

But he asks for an unconventional play, and who is to decide what is conventional? I notice, I said, picking up the paper, that he says the scenes which stirred the audience in Hedda Gabler are precisely those that are to be found in every melodrama. Mr Sims has succeeded in spoofing you, but he will not get me to write a play for him to repudiate as conventional. No, no, I can hear him saying, the play is as conventional as the last one I wrote for the Adelphi. I'll not pay for that.... But if Mr Sims wishes to help the independent drama, let him withdraw the word conventional or let him admit that he has been humbugging.

The reporter left me, and the next week's issue of the paper announced (p. 082) that Mr Sims had withdrawn the objectionable word, and that I had laid aside my novel and was writing the play.

So did I recount the literary history of The Strike at Arlingford to Yeats, who waited, expecting that I would give him some account of the performance of the play, but remembering him as he had appeared when on exhibition at the Avenue Theatre, it seemed to me that the moment had come for me to develop my aestheticism that an author should never show himself in a theatre while his own play was being performed. Yeats was of the opinion that it was only by watching the effect of the play upon the public that an author could learn his trade. He consented, however, and very graciously, to read The Strike at Arlingford, if I would send it to him, and went away, leaving me under the impression that he looked upon himself as the considerable author, and that to meet me at dinner at the Cheshire Cheese was a condescension on his part. He had somehow managed to dissipate, and, at the same time, to revive, my first opinion of him, but I am quick to overlook faults in whoever amuses and interests me, and this young man interested me more than Edward or Symons, my boon companions at that time. He was an instinctive mummer, a real dancing dog, and the dog on his hind legs is, after all, humanity; we are all on our hind legs striving to astonish somebody, and that is why I honour respectability; if there were nobody to shock our trade would come to an end, and for this reason I am secretly in favour of all the cardinal virtues. But this young man was advertising himself by his apparel, as the Irish middle classes do when they come to London bent on literature. They come in knee-breeches, in Jaeger, in velvet jackets, and this one was clothed like a Bible reader and chanted like one in his talk. All the same, I could see that among much Irish humbug there was in him a genuine love of his art, and he was more intelligent than his verses had led me to expect. All this I admitted to Nettleship as we walked up Fleet Street together. It even seemed difficult to deny to Nettleship, when he bade me goodbye at Charing Cross, that I should like to see the young man again, and all the way back to the Temple I asked myself if I should redeem my promise and send him The Strike at Arlingford. And I might have sent it if I had happened to find a copy in my bookcase, but I never keep copies of my own books. The trouble of writing to my publisher for the play was a serious one; the postman would bring it in a brown-paper parcel which I should have to open in order to write Yeats's name on the fly-leaf. I should have to tie the parcel up again, redirect it, and carry it to the post—and all this trouble for the sake of an opinion which would not be the slightest use to me when I had gotten it. It was enough to know that there was such a play on my publisher's shelves, and that a dramatic writer had paid a hundred pounds to see it. Why (p. 083) turn into the Vale of Yarrow, I muttered, and, rising from my table, I went to the window to watch the pigeons that were coming down from the roofs to gobble the corn a cabman was scattering for them.

Yeats was forgotten, and almost as completely as before, a stray memory of his subtle intelligence perhaps crossing my mind from time to time and a vague regret coming into it that he had dropped out of my life. But no effort was made to find him, and I did not see him again until we met at Symons's rooms—unexpectedly, for it was for a talk with Symons before bedtime that I had walked over from King's Bench Walk. But it was Yeats who opened the door; Symons was out, and would be back presently—he generally returned home about one. Wouldn't I come in? We fell to talking about Symons, who spent his evenings at the Alhambra and the Empire, watching the ballet. Having written Symbolism in Literature, he was now investigating the problem of symbolism in gesture. Or was it symbolism in rhythm or rhythmic symbolism? Even among men of letters conversation would be difficult were it not for the weakness of our absent friends, and to pass the time I told Yeats of an evening I had spent with Symons at the Empire two weeks ago, and how I had gone with him after to the Rose and Crown; and thinking to amuse him I reported the nonsense I had heard spoken of over tankards of ale by various contemporary poets. He hung dreamily over the fire, and fearing that he should think I had spoken unkindly of Symons—a thing I had no intention of doing (Symons being at the time one of my greatest friends)—I spoke of the pleasure I took in his society, and then of my admiration of his prose, so distinguished, so fine, and so subtle. The Temple clock clanging out the hour interrupted my eulogy. As Symons does not seem to return, I said, I must go home to bed. Yeats begged me to stay a little longer, and tempted by the manuscripts scattered about the floor, I sat down and asked him to tell me what he had been writing. He needed no pressing to talk of his work—a trait that I like in an author, for if I do not want to hear about a man's work I do not want to hear about himself. He told me that he was revising the stories that he had contributed to different magazines, and was writing some new ones, and together these were to form a book called The Secret Rose.

I am afraid I interrupted you.

No, I had struck work some time. I came upon a knot in one of the stories, one which I could not disentangle, at least not tonight.

I begged him to allow me to try to disentangle it, and when I succeeded, and to his satisfaction, I expected his face to light up; but it remained impassive, hieratic as ancient Egypt. Wherein now lies his difficulty? I asked myself. Being a poet, he must be able to find words, and we began to talk of the search for the right word.

(p. 084) Not so much the right word, Yeats interrupted, but the right language, if I were only sure of what language to put upon them.

But you don't want to write your stories in Irish, like Edward?

A smile trickled into his dark countenance, and I heard him say that he had no Irish. It was not for a different language that he yearned, but for a style. Morris had made one to suit his stories, and I learnt that one might be sought for and found among the Sligo peasants, only it would take years to discover it, and then he would be too old to use it.

You don't mean the brogue, the ugliest dialect in the world?

No dialect is ugly, he said; the bypaths are all beautiful. It is the broad road of the journalist that is ugly.

Such picturesqueness of speech enchants me, and the sensation was of a window being thrown suddenly open, and myself looking down some broad chase along which we would go together talking literature, I saying that very soon there would not be enough grammar left in England for literature. English was becoming a lean language. We have lost, Yeats, and I fear for ever, the second person singular of the verbs; thee and thou are only used by peasants, and the peasants use them incorrectly. In poetry, of course—Yeats shook his head—thee and thou were as impossible in verse as in prose, and the habit of English writers to allow their characters to thee and to thou each other had made the modern poetic drama ridiculous. Nor could he sympathise with me when I spoke of the lost subjunctive, and I understood him to be of the opinion that a language might lose all its grammar and still remain a vehicle for literature, the literary artist always finding material for his art in the country.

Like a landscape painter, I answered him. But we are losing our verbs, we no longer ascend and descend, we go up and we go down; birds still continue to alight, whereas human beings get out and get in.

Yeats answered that even in Shakespeare's time people were beginning to talk of the decline of language. No language, he said, was ever so grammatical as Latin, yet the language died; perhaps from excess of grammar. It is with idiom and not with grammar that the literary artist should concern himself; and, stroking his thin yellow hands slowly, he looked into the midnight fire, regretting he had no gift to learn living speech from those who knew it—the peasants. It was only from them one could learn to write, their speech being living speech, flowing out of the habits of their lives, struck out of life itself, he said, and I listened to him telling of a volume of folklore collected by him in Sligo; a welcome change truly is such after reading the Times, and he continued to drone out his little tales in his own incomparable fashion, muttering after each one of them, like an oracle that has spent itself—a beautiful story, a (p. 085) beautiful story! When he had muttered these words his mind seemed to fade away, and I could not but think that he was tired and would be happier tucked up in bed. But when I rose out of my chair he begged me to remain; I would if he would tell me another story. He began one, but Symons came in in the middle of it, tired after long symbolistic studies at the Empire, and so hungry that he began to eat bread and butter, sitting opposite to us and listening to what we were saying, without, however, giving us much of his attention. He seemed to like listening to Yeats talking about style, but I gathered from his detachment that he felt his own style had been formed years ago; a thing of beauty without doubt, but accidentally bestowed upon him, so much was it at variance with his appearance and his conversation; whereas Yeats and his style were the same thing; and his strange old-world appearance and his chanting voice enabled me to identify him with the stories he told me, and so completely that I could not do otherwise than believe that Angus, Étaine, Diarmuid, Deirdre, and the rest, were speaking through him. He is a lyre in their hands; they whisper through him as the wind through the original forest; but we are plantations, and came from England in the seventeenth century. There is more race in him than in any one I have seen for a long while, I muttered, while wending my way down the long stairs, across Fountain Court, through Pump Court, by the Temple Church, under the archway into King's Bench Walk.

It is pleasant to stay with a friend till the dusk, especially in summer; the blue dusk that begins between one and two is always wonderful; and that morning, after listening to many legends, it struck me, as I stood under the trees in King's Bench Walk, watching the receding stars, that I had discovered at last the boon companion I had been seeking ever since I came to live in London. A boon companion is as necessary to me as a valet is to Sir William Eden. Books do not help me to while away the time left over when I am not writing, and I am fain to take this opportunity to advise everybody to attend to his taste for reading; once it is lost it is hard to recover; and believe, if in nothing else, in this, that reading is becoming an increasing necessity. The plays that entertain us are few, the operas hardly more numerous; there are not always concerts, and one cannot choose the music that shall be played if one be not a King. To have music in the evenings at home we must choose for a wife one who can play Chopin, and modern education does not seem to have increased the number of these women. One meets one, misses her, and for ever after is forced to seek literary conversation; and literary conversation is difficult to get in London. One cannot talk literature in a club, or at a literary dinner; only with a boon companion; and my search is even a more difficult one than that of the light-o'-love who once told me that her great trouble in life was to find an amant de coeur. (p. 086) The confession amused me, the lady being exceedingly beautiful, but I understood her as soon as she explained all the necessary qualifications for the post. He must be in love with me, she said. As you are very polite, you will admit that there can be no difficulty about that. And I must be in love with him! Now you are beginning to understand. He must be able to give me his whole time, he must be sufficiently well off to take me out to dinner, to the theatre, to send me flowers.... Money, of course, I would not take from him.

Your trouble as you explain it is a revelation of life, I answered, but it is not greater than mine—she tossed her head—for what I am seeking in London at the present time is a boon companion. In many respects he must resemble your amant de coeur. He must like my company, and as you are very polite, you will admit there can be no difficulty about that. I shall have to enjoy his company; and so many other things are necessary that I am beginning to lose heart.

Mary pressed me to recapitulate my paragon, and to console her, for there is nothing so consoling as to find that one's neighbour's troubles are at least as great as one's own, I told her that my boon companion must be between thirty and fifty. Until a man reaches the age of thirty he is but a boy, without experience of life; I'd prefer him between thirty-five and forty; and my boon companion must be a bachelor or separated from his wife. How he spends his days concerns me not, only in the evenings do I want his company—at dinner about twice a week, for it is my pleasure to prolong the evenings into the small hours of the morning, talking literature and the other arts until the mouth refuses another cigar and the eyelids are heavy with sleep. You see, he must be a smoker, preferably a cigar rather than a cigarette smoker, but I lay no stress upon that particular point. I should prefer his appearance and manner to be that of a gentleman, but this is another point upon which I lay no particular stress. His first qualification is intelligence, and amongst women you will understand me better than any other, your lovers having always been men of intellect. Any one of them would suit me very well: you have loved, I think, Adrien Marcs, Coppée, and Becque.

Yes, and many others, she answered. You have required great works from your lovers, and have gotten them. But I do not require that my boon companion shall write nearly as well as any of the men you have honoured. My companion's literature concerns me much less than his conversation, and if it were not that only a man of letters can understand literature, I would say that I should not care if he had never put a pen to paper. I am interested much more in his critical than in his creative faculty; he must for my purpose be a man keenly critical, and he must be a witty man too, for to be able to distinguish between a badly and a well-written book is not enough—a professor of literature (p. 087) can do that ... occasionally. My man must be able to entertain me with unexpected sallies. I would not hear him speak of the verbal felicities of Keats, or of the truly noble diction of Milton, and I would ring and tell my servant to call a cab were I to catch him mumbling 'and with new-spangled ore, flames in the forehead of the morning sky.' If the subject were poetry, my boon companion would be expected by me to flash out unexpected images, saying that Keats reminded him of a great tabby-cat purring in the sun; and I would like to hear him mutter that there was too much rectory lawn in Tennyson; not that I would for a moment hold up the lawn and the cat as felicities of criticism. He would, I hope, be able to flash out something better. It is hard to find a simile when one is seeking for one. He would have to be interested in the other arts, and be able to talk about them intelligently, literature not being sufficient to while an evening away. And in every art he must be able to distinguish between washtubs and vases; he must know instinctively that Manet is all vase, and that Mr ——'s portraits are all wash-tub. When the conversation wanders from painting to sculpture, he must not be very concerned to talk about Rodin, and if he should speak of this sculptor, his praise should be measured: There is not the character of any country upon Rodin's sculpture; it is not French nor Italian; it would be impossible to say whence it came if one did not know. As a decorative artist he is without remarkable talent, and he too often parodies Michael Angelo. Michel Ange à la coule would be a phrase that would not displease me to hear, especially if it were followed by—Only the marvellous portraitist commands our admiration: the bronzes, not the marbles—they are but copies by Italian workmen, untouched by the master who alone, among masters, has never been able to put his hand to the chisel. A knowledge of music is commendable in a boon companion, else he must be unmusical like Yeats. It would be intolerable to hear him speak of Tristan and ask immediately after if Madame Butterfly were not a fine work, too.

With her enchanting smile, Mary admitted that my difficulties were not less than hers, and so I kissed her and returned, with some regret, next day to London and to dear Edward, who has served me as a boon companion ever since he came to live in the Temple. He likes late hours; he is a bachelor, a man of leisure, and has discovered at last what to admire and what to repudiate. But he is not very sure-footed on new ground, and being a heavy man, his stumblings are loud. Moreover, he is obsessed by a certain part of his person which he speaks of as his soul: it demands Mass in the morning, Vespers in the afternoon, and compels him to believe in the efficacy of Sacraments and the Pope's indulgences; and it forbids him to sit at dinner with me if I do not agree to abstain from flesh meat on Fridays, and from remarks regarding my feelings (p. 088) towards the ladies we meet in the railway-trains and hotels when we go abroad.

When Symons came to live in the Temple I looked forward to finding a boon companion in him. He is intelligent and well versed in literature, French and English; a man of somewhat yellowish temperament, whom a wicked fairy had cast for a parson; but there was a good fairy on the sill at the time, and when the wicked fairy had disappeared up the chimney she came in through the window, and bending over the cradle said: I bestow upon thee extraordinary literary gifts. Her words floated up the chimney and brought the wicked fairy down again as soon as the good fairy had departed. For some time she was puzzled to know what new mischief she should be up to; she could not rob the child of the good fairy's gift of expression in writing: but in thy talk, she said, thou shalt be as commonplace as Goldsmith, and flew away in a great passion.

Unlike Symons, Yeats is thinner in his writings than in his talk; very little of himself goes into his literature—very little can get into it, owing to the restrictions of his style; and these seemed to me to have crept closer in Rosa Alchemica inspiring me to prophesy one day to Symons that Yeats would end by losing himself in Mallarmé, whom he had never read.

Symons did not agree in my estimation of Yeats's talent, and I did not press the point, being only really concerned with Yeats in as far as he provided me with literary conversation. A more serious drawback was Yeats's lack of interest in the other arts. He admired and hung Blake's engravings about his room, but it was their literary bent rather than the rhythm of the spacing and the noble line that attracted him, I think. But I suppose one must not seek perfection outside of Paris, and in the Temple I was very glad of his company. He is absorbed by literature even more than Dujardin, that prince of boon companions, for literature has allowed Dujardin many love-stories, and every one has been paid for with a book (his literature is mainly unwritten); all the same, his women, though they have kept him from writing, have never been able to keep him from his friends; for our sakes he has had the courage only to be beguiled by such women as those whom he may treat like little slaves; and when one of these accompanies him to his beautiful summer residence at Fontainebleau, in those immemorial evenings, sad with the songs of many nightingales, she is never allowed to speak except when she is spoken to; and when she goes with him to Bayreuth, she has to walk with companions of her own sex, whilst the boon companion explains the mystery of The Ring, musical and literary. If I were to go to his lodgings on the eve of the performance of The Valkyrie and awaken Dujardin, he would push his wife aside as soon as he heard the (p. 089) object of my visit was to inquire from him why Wotan is angry with Brünnhilde because she gives her shield and buckler to Siegmund, wherewith Siegmund may fight Hunding on the mountain-side, and would rise up in bed and say to me: You do not know, then, that the Valkyrie are the wills of Wotan which fly forth to do his bidding? And if I said that I was not quite sure that I understood him, he would shake himself free from sleep and begin a metaphysical explanation for which he would find justification in the character of the motives. And then, if one were to say to Dujardin: Dujardin, in a certain scene in the second act of Siegfried, Wagner introduces the Question to Fate motive without any apparent warrant from the text to do so; I fear he used the motive because his score required the three grave notes, Dujardin would, for sure, begin to argue that though the libretto contained no explicit allusion to Fate in the text, yet Fate was implicit in it from the beginning of the scene, and, getting out of bed, he would take the volume from the little shelf at his head and read the entire scene before consenting to go to sleep.

And if one were to go to Yeats's bedside at three o'clock in the morning and beg him to explain a certain difficult passage, let us say, in the Jerusalem, he would raise himself up in bed like Dujardin, and, stroking his pale Buddhistic hands, begin to spin glittering threads of argument and explanation; instead of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, we should hear of the Rosicrucians and Jacob Boehm.

My boon companions are really strangely alike, though presenting diverse appearances. Were I to devote a volume to each, the casual reader would probably mutter as he closed the last, A strangely assorted set, but the more intelligent reader would be entertained by frequent analogies; many to his practised eye would keep cropping up: he would discover that Dujardin, though he has written a book in which he worships the massive materialism of ancient Rome, and derides the soft effusive Jewish schism known as Christianity, would, nevertheless, like to preserve a few Catholic monasteries for the use of his last days. At least a dozen would be necessary, for Dujardin admits that he would be not unlikely flung out of several before he reached the one in which he was fated to die in long white robe and sandal shoon, an impenitent exegetist, but an ardent Catholic, and perhaps to the last, a doubtful Christian. How often have I heard him mutter in his beard as he crosses the room: It would be a beautiful end ... in smock and sandal shoon! He is attracted by rite, and Yeats is too; but whereas Dujardin would like the magician to boil the pot for him, Yeats would cry:

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble,

(p. 090) following all the best recipes of the Kabala. I have often thought that he takes a secret pleasure in the word, speaking it with that unction which comes into the voices of certain relations of mine when they mention the Bible. And from his constant reference to the Kabala, I judged it to be his familiar reading, though I never saw it in his hand nor upon his table when I went to see him. So one day when he left the room I searched for it among his books, but only copies of Morris's and Blake's works came under my hand; and on mentioning the Kabala to him when he returned, he began to speak volubly of the alchemists and Rosicrucians who had left a great mass of mystical writings. The interpretation of these was the business of the adepts, and the fair conclusion appeared to be, that instruction from the Kabala formed part of the ceremony of initiation into the Order of the Golden Door—an Order which, so far as I could gather from his allusions, held weekly meetings somewhere in West Kensington. As soon as I asked him for a copy of the book, the conversation drifted back to the alchemists and Rosicrucians, their oaths and conclaves, and when we returned speciously to modern times I heard for the first time about McPherson—a learned one in the Order; he may have been the Prior of it, and that, I think, was the case, for I remember being told that he had used his authority so unflinchingly that the other members had rebelled against it, and now he had, after expelling the entire Order, gone away with the book in which was written much secret matter. So far the Order had not replied to his repeated libels, but it would be well for McPherson to refrain from publication of their secrets; if he did not, it would be hard to prevent certain among them from.... Up to the present the authority of a certain lady had saved him, but it was by no means sure that she would be able to protect him in the future; she had, indeed, incurred a good deal ... I strained my ears, but Yeats's voice had floated up the chimney, and all I could hear was the sound of one hand passing over the other.

Rising from the low stool in the chimney-corner, he led me to a long box, and among the manuscript I discovered several packs of cards. As it could not be that Yeats was a clandestine bridge-player, I inquired the use the cards were put to, and learnt that they were specially designed for the casting of horoscopes. He spoke of his uncle, a celebrated occultist, whose predictions were always fulfilled, and related some of his own successes. All the same, he had been born under Aquarius, and the calculations of the movements of the stars in that constellation were so elaborate that he had abandoned the task for the moment, and was now seeking the influences of the Pleiades. He showed me some triangles drawn on plain sheets of cardboard, into which I was to look, while thinking of some primary colour—red, or blue, or green. His instructions (p. 091) were followed by me—why not?—but nothing came of the experiment; and then he selected a manuscript from the box, which he told me was the new rules of the Order of the Golden Door, written by himself. There was no need to tell me that, for I recognise always his undulating cadences. These rules had become necessary; an Order could not exist without rule, and heresy must be kept within bounds, though for his part he was prepared to grant every one such freedom of will as would not endanger the existence of the Order. The reading of the manuscript interested me, and I remember that one of its finest passages related to the use of vestments, Yeats maintaining with undeniable logic that the ancient priest put on his priestly robe as a means whereby he might raise himself out of the ordinary into an intenser life, but the Catholic priest puts on an embroidered habit because it is customary. A subtle intelligence which delighted me in times gone by, and I like now to think of the admiration with which I used to listen to Yeats talking in the chimney-corner, myself regretting the many eloquent phrases which floated beyond recall up the chimney, yet unable to banish from my mind the twenty-five men and women collected in the second pair back in West Kensington, engaged in the casting of horoscopes and experimenting in hypnotism.

As has been said before, analogies can be discovered in all my boon companions. Could it be otherwise, since they were all collected for my instruction and distraction? Yeats will sit up smoking and talking of literature just like Dujardin, Edward the same; and Yeats and Edward are both addicted to magic: it matters little that each cultivates a different magic, the essential is that they like magic. And looking towards the armchairs in which they had been sitting, I said: Yeats likes parlour magic, Edward cathedral magic. A queer pair, united for a moment in a common cause—the production of two plays: The Heather Field and The Countess Cathleen. The Heather Field I know, but The Countess Cathleen I have not read, and wondering what it might be like, I went to the bookcase and took down the volume.


Three weeks after Edward knocked at my door.

Are you busy? I don't want to disturb you, but I thought I'd like to ask you—

You have come to tell me that the company has been engaged. No! My dear friend, this is trifling, I cut in sharply, asking if the date had been fixed for the first rehearsal; it seemed necessary to shake him into some kind of activity, and it amused me to see him flurried.

(p. 092) From his narrative it appeared that Miss Vernon, a friend of Yeats, who they had engaged as general manager, had received letters from a number of actors, and he mentioned the name of one who thought he might like to play the part of Carden Tyrrell.

Il faut que je m'en mêle, I said one morning, jumping out of bed, for if I don't there'll be no performance. So I wired to Edward, and in the course of the afternoon he knocked.

Has this woman called a rehearsal?

She has written to a man—I have forgotten his name—he played in one of Ibsen's plays, and hopes to—

And hopes to get an answer from him next week. If the rehearsals don't begin at once there'll be no performance. Run away and engage the company.

He went away red and flurried, and I didn't hear of him again until the end of the week. Late one afternoon when he called, meeting me on my doorstep. A moment later and you would have missed me, I said, and the evening being too fine to turn indoors, he agreed that we should go for a walk in St James's Park.

As I write I can see ourselves walking side by side, Edward's bluff and dogmatic shoulders contrasting with my own very agnostic sloping shoulders; and the houses rising up against the evening sky, delicate in line and colour. I can see a blue spire striking into the heart of the sunset, and the casual winds moving among the branches and long silken grass. The pen pauses ... or I am moved to wonder why I should remember that evening in St James's Park when so many other evenings are forgotten? Maybe that I was conscious of Edward's emotion; all the while, though outwardly calm as any parish priest, he was troubled inly; and the fact that he expressed his trouble in the simplest language perhaps helped me to understand how deeply troubled he was.

We have had three or four rehearsals, he confided to me, but my play is not coming out. An alarming piece of news, for I had sworn to him that The Heather Field was a good play. But Yeats's play is coming out beautifully.

A still more alarming piece of news, for I did not want to see Yeats supreme in these theatricals; and without betraying my concern, I told him that Yeats's play was poetry, and only to be repeated, whereas The Heather Field would have to be carefully rehearsed, and by an experienced stage-manager.

Now, who is your stage-manager? What does he say? And is he competent?

As Edward at that time had never seen a stage-manager at work he could form no opinion of the man's ability, nor did he seem to have a clear idea whether the actors and actresses were competent and suited (p. 093) to their parts. I can't tell from a rehearsal, he said. Yeats and I went together to the agent's office—

I know, and you chose the company from the description in the agent's book. Miss X, tall, fair, good presence—I think she'll do for your leading lady, sir. How much? Four pounds a week. I can't afford so much. Three? I think I could get her to accept three pounds ten. Very well. Now for your leading man. Tall, dark, aristocratic bearing. Five. I can't give so much. You might get him to take four.

That's just what he is getting, said Edward.

There must have been an outburst; rude words were uttered by me, no doubt; one is unjust, and then one remembers and is sorry. Edward had never cast a play before; he had never engaged a company, nor had he ever seen a rehearsal; therefore my expectations that he would succeed in so delicate an enterprise were ridiculous.

If you would come to see a rehearsal, he ventured timidly. This very natural request can only have provoked another outburst; one learns oneself, and in the course of my rage, not quite spontaneous, I must have reminded him that I had specially stipulated that I was not to be asked to cast or rehearse plays.

If you would only just come to see one rehearsal.

Anything else, but not that, I answered sullenly, and walked on in silence, giving no heed to Edward's assurance that the mere fact of my going to see a rehearsal would not transgress our agreement. There were my proofs; it would be folly to lay them aside, and striving against myself, for at the back of my mind I knew I would yield, I swore again that I would not go. But if I didn't? The thought of these two wandering over to Dublin with their ridiculous company was a worry. The Heather Field would be lost; Edward would be disappointed; his play was his single pleasure; besides, it was annoying to hear that The Countess Cathleen was coming out better than The Heather Field. So it was perhaps jealousy of Yeats that caused the sudden declension of my will; and when the question, Where are you rehearsing? slipped from me, and the question warned me that for three weeks at least I should be at their beck and call, for having made an alteration. Once I had altered something I should not leave The Heather Field, nor perhaps The Countess Cathleen, if Yeats allowed me to rehearse it, until it was quite clear to me that the expedition to Dublin would not turn out so absurd as General Humbert's.... Where are you rehearsing? At the Bijou Theatre in Notting Hill. It is impossible to rehearse anywhere except in the Strand. We'll rehearse where you like; and he continued to press me to say why I was so averse from seeing the plays. You're coming to Dublin, George?

I never said I was. If the plays were going to be acted in London it (p. 094) would be a different thing, but to ally myself to such folly as the bringing of literature to Ireland! Les Cloches de Corneville is what they want over there. And next morning in the hansom I continued to poke Edward up with the sharpest phrases I could find, and to ask myself why I had yielded to his solicitations. For his sake, or for the sake of his play—which? He is an amateur; that is to say, a man of many interests, one of which is literature. Edward is interested in his soul, deeply interested; he is interested in Palestrina and in his property in Galway, and the sartorial reformation of the clergy. He would like to see the clergy in cassocks. Then there are his political interests. He wants Home Rule, and when he is thinking of none of these things he writes plays.

But I am always ready to stretch out a hand to save a work of art, however little merit it may have, if it only have a little. Yeats is like me in this. Other men write for money, or for fame, or to kill time, but we are completely disinterested. We are moved by the love of the work itself, and therefore can make sacrifices for other men's work. Yeats is certainly like that, and for disinterestedness in art I'm sure he would give me a good character. My reverie was interrupted by Edward crying: There's Yeats, and I saw the long black cloak with the manuscript sticking out of the pocket, and the rooklike gait, and a lady in a green cloak. My stick went up, the cab stopped, and as we entered the theatre Edward told me that Yeats and the lady had been in and out of the bun-shop ever since rehearsals began.

I knew it, I knew it; I can see it all—talking continually of the speaking of verse.

Two or three people on a stage, repeating as much as they can remember of something they have been trying to learn by heart, and a man with a script in his hand watching and interrupting them with some phrase like: I think, old man, the line you've just spoken should get you across; whoever is in the habit of conducting rehearsals can tell at the first glance if things are going well or badly, and, above all, if the stage-manager knows his business. A play is like music; it has to go to a beat; and it did not take me long to see that The Heather Field was not going to a bad or a good beat; it was just going to no beat at all, and I said to Edward: Which is your stage-manager? The one reading from the script? But he isn't rehearsing the play; he's prompting, that's all.

Edward begged me to be patient, but in a very few minutes it was clear to me that patience meant wasting time.

We shall have to make some alteration in the cast. Mr ——, I don't think the part of Carden Tyrrell altogether suits you; the second part, Barry Ussher—The gentleman who was playing Barry Ussher objected. You'll play, I said, perhaps, one of the doctors in the second act. Now, Edward, who is your leading lady? Edward whispered: The fair-haired (p. 095) lady—But she looks as if she had come from the halls. So she has. She's been doing a turn. And you expect a music-hall artist to play Mrs Tyrrell! Edward besought me to try her.

Will you, Miss ——, if you please, read your part from your first entrance. With some reluctance the lady rose out of her seat, and went upon the stage. She did not think the part suited her, and it was with evident relief that she agreed to give it up and accept two pounds for her trouble. Then I entered into discussion with the gentleman who had been told that he was not to play Barry Ussher. Now, sir, if you'll read me the part of one of the doctors from the first entrance. A few words from him on the stage convinced me that, like the fair-haired lady, he would be of no use; but when he was told so he caught up a chair, threw it at me, and swore and damned the whole company and all the plays. An irate little actor interposed, saying that Mr —— should try to remember that he was in the presence of ladies. Edward was appealed to, but he said the matter was entirely out of his hands, and in the course of the next half-hour three or four more members of the company received small doles from Edward, and went their several ways.

We've got through a very nice rehearsal, I whispered, taking Edward's arm—very satisfactory indeed, dear Edward. For it was just as well to show a bold front, although, indeed, I was a little frightened. The responsibility of collecting an efficient company was now my share of the Irish Literary Theatre, and if I failed and the plays did not go to Dublin.... Even so, it were better that the project should fall through than that the plays should be distributed among such odds and oddments. One can go out hunting, I said to Edward, on bad horses, but one can't go out hunting on goats. And I impressed this point of view upon Yeats too, begging of him to try to find a small part among the peasants in his play for the gentleman who had thrown the chair at me; he had since apologised, and seemed so distressed at his own bad conduct that I thought I must do something for him. A few words to speak, that is all I ask, Yeats. Edward and I are going to the Strand to find a Carden Tyrrell and a Mrs Tyrrell. And we're going to the bun-shop, where we have an appointment with Miss Vernon's niece. Her speaking of verse—Don't trouble; I'll bring you back a Countess Cathleen, my good friend. Edward sat back in the hansom, too terrified for speech, and as we went along I explained to him the disaster that had been averted. At last we came to the Green Room Club, and opposite two friends of mine were living. The wife is just the woman to play Mrs Tyrrell. She wouldn't do the Countess Cathleen badly, either. Be that as it may, she'll have to play it. And we went up the stairs praying that we might find her at home; she was, and after a little solicitation agreed to come with us.

(p. 096) Now, Edward, do you follow in another cab. I'll jump into this one with Miss ——, and will tell her about the Irish Literary Theatre, and that we want her to play leading parts in Dublin, in two of the most beautiful plays of modern times. Mrs Tyrrell and the Countess Cathleen whiled the miles away. There's Yeats—and putting up my stick I stopped the cab—the man in the long black cloak like a Bible reader, coming out of the bun-shop. With the woman in the long green cloak followed by a pretty girl? the new Countess Cathleen asked. Deeply engaged, I said, in conversation.

It was difficult to attract his attention, and his emotions were so violent that he could hardly collect himself sufficiently to bow to the new Countess Cathleen, and for the first time this master of words could not find words to tell us of the joy he had experienced at hearing his verses properly spoken. Miss Vernon's niece had recited the monologue in the second act—

I'm glad, Yeats, very glad; and now you'll have the pleasure of hearing somebody else recite the monologue. But won't you hear—

The monologue isn't the part. My dear young lady, I said, turning to a girl about sixteen, we've reserved one of the fairies for you, and you'll look enchanting in a blue veil. The Countess Cathleen requires an experienced actress. Now, Miss ——, you who can speak verse better than any living actress, will you read us the monologue, for your pleasure and for ours? I have told Mr Yeats about you, and ... now, will you be so kind?

The experienced actress went on the stage, and while she recited my mind turned over all the possible Carden Tyrrells in the Green Room Club, but Yeats had been listening, and as soon as I had congratulated her he began to talk to her about his method. My anger was checked by the thought that the quickest way, and perhaps the only way, to rid ourselves of Yeats would be to ask him to go on the stage and read his verses to us. There was no choice for him but to comply, and when he left the stage I took him by the arm, saying: One can hear that kind of thing, my dear fellow, on Sunday, in any Methodist chapel. Yeats's face betrayed his disappointment, but there is a fund of good sense in him which can be relied upon, and he had already begun to understand that, however good his ideas might be in themselves, he had not had enough experience to carry them out, and that there was no time to experiment. What I would do with his play would not be what he wanted, but I should realise something.

Now, Edward, I'll say goodbye; I must get back to the Green Room Club. I may find your husband there, Miss ——, playing cards; if I do I shall try to persuade him to undertake the stage-management. I'll write and let you know about the next rehearsal; Notting Hill is too far (p. 097) away. We must find some place in the Strand, don't you think so, Miss ——?

Miss —— agreed with me that Notting Hill was too far for her to go to rehearsals, and as I handed her out of the cab, she pointed with her parasol across the street, and looking along it, I spied a man in a velvet coat going into the Green Room Club. She said he might play Carden Tyrrell. A friend introduced us; I gave him the part to read, and he came to rehearsal next day enthusiastic. A boy presented himself—and an excellent boy-actor he showed himself to be, giving a good reading of his part, and a few days after Miss ——'s husband relieved me of the stage-management, and seeing that things were going well, I bade everybody goodbye.

I'm going back to my writing, but will give you a look in some time next week, towards the end of the week, for my publishers are pressing me to finish some proofs.

The proofs were those of Esther Waters, not the proofs of the original edition (they had been corrected in the Temple), but the proofs of a cheap edition. I had been tempted by the opportunity a new type-setting gave me of revising my text, and had begun, amid many misgivings, to read a book which I had written, but never read. One reads when the passion of composition is over, and on the proofs of the original edition one correction alone amounted to the striking out of some twenty or thirty pages, and the writing in of as many more new pages, and there were many others nearly as important, for proofs always inspire me, and the enchanted period lasts until the bound copy arrives. Esther Waters was no exception; and turning the pages, seeing all my dreams frozen into the little space of print, I had thrown the book aside and had sat like one overcome until the solitude of King's Bench Walk became unendurable, and forced me to seek distraction in St James's Theatre, for I did not think that any one had yet read the book, and was genuinely surprised when an acquaintance stopped me in the lobby and began to thank me for the pleasure my story had given him. But I could not believe that he was not mocking me, and escaped from him, feeling more miserable than before. A little farther on another acquaintance stopped me to ask if I had written the book with the intention of showing up the evils of betting, and his question was understood as an ironical insinuation that the existence of my book might be excused on account of the moral purpose on the part of the author. Or was my intention merely to exhibit? His second question struck me as intelligent, but strange as coming from him. His writings have since gained some notoriety, but not because he has ever confined himself to the mere exhibition of a subject.

The old saw that everything is paid for came into my mind. I was (p. 098) paying for the exaltation I had experienced when rewriting my proofs, and when I returned to the Temple I had fallen into an armchair, without sufficient energy to take off my clothes and turn into bed, wondering at my folly in having supposed that there could have been anything worth reading in Esther Waters. How could there be, since it was I who wrote it? I repeated to myself over and over again.

For it is difficult for me to believe any good of myself. Within the oftentimes bombastic and truculent appearance that I present to the world, trembles a heart shy as a wren in the hedgerow or a mouse along the wainscoting. And the question has always interested me, whether I brought this lack of belief in myself into the world with me, or whether is was a gift from Nature, or whether I was trained into it by my parents at so early an age that it became part of myself. I lean to the theory of acquisition rather than to that of inheritance, for it seems to me that I can trace my inveterate distrust of myself back to the years when my father and mother used to tell me that I would certainly marry an old woman, Honor King, who used to come to the door begging. This joke did not wear out; it lasted through my childhood; and I remember still how I used to dread her appearance, or her name, for either was sufficient to incite somebody to remind me of the nuptials that awaited me in a few years. I understood very well that the joke rested on the assumption that I was such an ugly little boy that nobody else would marry me.

I do not doubt that my parents loved their little boy, but their love did not prevent them laughing at him and persuading him that he was inherently absurd; and it is not wise to do this, for as soon as the child ceases to take himself seriously he begins to suspect that he is inferior, and I had begun to doubt if I would ever come to much, even before I failed to read at the age of seven, without hesitating, a page of English written with the long ff's, whereas my father could remember reading the Times aloud at breakfast when he was three. I could see that he thought me a stupid little boy, and was ashamed of me, and as the years went by many things occurred to confirm him in his opinion. The reports that were sent home from school incited him to undertake to teach me when I came back for the holidays, but the more I was taught the stupider I became, and, perhaps, the more unwilling to learn. My father was trying to influence me directly, and it is certain that direct influence counts for nothing. We are moulded, but the influences that mould us are indirect, and are known to nobody but ourselves. We never speak of them, and are almost ashamed even to think of them, so trivial do they seem. It requires some little courage to tell that my early distaste for literature was occasioned by my father coming into the billiard-room where I was playing and insisting on my reading Burke's French (p. 099) Revolution; nor does it sound very serious to say that a meeting with a cousin of mine who used to paint sign-board lions and tigers awakened a love of painting in me that has lasted all my life. He sent me to Paris to learn painting; I have told in My Confessions how I found myself obliged to give up painting, having no natural aptitude for it; but I do not know if I tell in that book, or lay sufficient stress on the fact that the agony of mind caused by my failure was enhanced by remembrances of the opinion that my father formed of me and my inability to learn at school. I think I am right in saying that I tell in My Confessions of terrible insomnias and of a demon who whispered in my ear that it would be no use my turning to literature; my failure would be as great there as it had been in painting.

The slight success that has attended my writings did not surprise my relations as much as it surprised me, and what seems curious is that, if the success had been twice what it was, it would not have restored the confidence in myself that I lost in childhood. I am always a novice, publishing his first book, wondering if it is the worst thing ever written; and I am as timid in life as in literature. It is always difficult for me to believe that my friends are glad to see me. I am never quite sure that I am not a bore—an unpleasant belief, no doubt, but a beneficial one, for it saves me from many blunders, and I owe to it many pleasant surprises: that day at Steer's, when Tonks interrupted me in one of my usual disquisitions on art with—Isn't it nice to have him among us again criticising our paintings? I had come back from Ireland after an absence of two years, and I shall never forget the delicious emotion that his words caused me. I never suspected my friends would miss me, or that it would mean much to them to have me back again. I was overwhelmed and were I Rousseau, my pages would be filled with instances of my inherent modesty of character, but my way is not Rousseau's. Out of this one instance the reader should be able, if he be intelligent, to imagine for himself the hundred other exquisite moments that I owe to my inveterate belief in my own inferiority. True that it has caused me to lose many pleasant hours, as when I imagined that some very dear friends of mine were bored by my society, and did not wish to see me in their house again. Mary Robinson did not say a word to suggest any such thing, only there are times when the belief intensifies in me that nobody does, or could, care for me; and I did not go to see her for a long while, and would never have gone if I had not met her at her railway-station, and if she had not asked me if I were on my way to her, and on my answering that I wasn't, had not cheerfully replied that I ought to be, it being nearly two years since she had seen me. But you don't want to see me? The last time, just as I was leaving—She looked at me and I tried to explain, but there was nothing to explain, and I walked by her side (p. 100) thinking of the many delightful visits that my imagination had caused me to lose.

No doubt something of the same kind has happened to everybody, but not so often as it happens to me—I am sure of that, and I am quite sure nobody believes he is in the wrong so easily as I do, or is tempted so irresistibly to believe the fault is his if anything goes wrong with his work. If an editor were to return an article to me tomorrow, it would never occur to me to suppose he returned it for any other reason that its worthlessness, and those who think badly of my writings are always looked upon as very fine judges, while admirers are regarded with suspicion. Symons used to say that he could not understand such a lack of belief side by side with unflagging perseverance, and he often told me that when a manuscript was returned to him, he never doubted the editor to be a fool.... The Confessions are coming back to me. Rousseau realised in age that in youth Rousseau was a shy, silly lad, with no indication, apparently, of the genius that awaited him in middle life, always blundering, and never with the right word on his lips. But I do not think Rousseau was obsessed by a haunting sense of his own inferiority—not, at any rate, as much as I am—and I am not sure that he realised sufficiently that the braggart wins but foolish women and the vain man has few sincere friends. If it had not been for my unchanging belief in my own unworthiness, I might have easily believed in myself to the extent that my contemporaries believe in themselves, and there is little doubt that many of them believe themselves to be men and women of genius; and I am sure it were better, on the whole, to leave St James's Theatre heart-broken than to leave it puffed up, thinking oneself a great man of letters, representing English literature. Even from the point of view of personal pleasure, it were better that I should learn gradually that Esther Waters was not such a bad book as I had imagined it to be when the first copy came to me. It were enough that my friends and the Press should succeed at length in hammering this truth into me; it were too absurd that I should continue to think it worthless; an artist should know his work to have been well done, and it is necessary that it should meet with sufficient appreciation, though, indeed, it is open to doubt if the vain fumes that arise from the newspapers when a new masterpiece is published be of any good to anybody.

Only once can I accuse myself of any sudden vanity called out of the depths by the sight of a newspaper placard—once certain words excited in me a shameful sense of triumph at, shall I say, having got the better of somebody?—only once, and it did not endure longer than while walking past St Clement Danes. And I am less ashamed to speak of the joy I experienced five years after the first publication of Esther Waters. The task has to be got through, I said, throwing myself into an armchair, (p. 101) having left my friends at rehearsal. The hospital scenes were not liked, but the story soon picked up again, and when the end came I sat wondering how it could have happened to me to write the book that among all books I should have cared most to write, and to have written it so much better than I ever dreamed it could be written.

The joy of art is a harmless joy, and no man should begrudge me the pleasure that I got from my first reading of Esther Waters. He would not, though he were the most selfish in the world, if he knew the unhappiness and anxieties that my writings always cause me. A harmless joy, the reading of Esther Waters, truly, and it is something to think of that the book itself, though pure of all intention to do good—that is to say, to alleviate material suffering—has perhaps done more good than any novel written in my generation. It is no part of my business nor my desire to speak of the Esther Waters Home—I am more concerned with the evil I know the book to have done than with the good. It did good to others—to me it did evil, and that evil I could see all around me when I raised my eyes from my proofs. At the end of a large, handsome, low-ceilinged flat on the first floor, very different from the garret in King's Bench Walk, hung a grey portrait by Manet; on another wall a mauve morning by Monet, willows emerging from a submerged meadow; on another an April girl sitting in an arbour, her golden hair glittering against green leaves, by Berthe Morisot. The flowered carpet and all the pretty furniture scattered over it represented evil, and the comfortable cook who came to ask me what I would like for dinner. We read in the newspapers of the evil a book may produce—the vain speculation of erotic men and women; but here is a case of a thoroughly healthy book having demoralised its author. How is such evil to be restrained? All virtuous men and women may well ask, and I hope that they may put their heads together and find out a way.

In Paris I had lived very much as I lived in Victoria Street, but it had never occurred to me that I showed any merit by accepting, without murmuring, the laborious life in the Temple that a sudden reverse of fortune had forced upon me;[1] it was no suffering for me to live in a garret, wearing old clothes, and spending from two shillings to half a crown on my dinner, because I felt, and instinctively, that that is the natural life of a man of letters; and I can remember my surprise when my brother told me one day that my agent had said he never knew anybody so economical as George. Some time after Tom Ruttledge himself came panting up my stairs, and during the course of conversation regarding certain large sums of money which I heard of for the first time, he said: Well, you have spent very little money during the last few years. And when I spoke of the folly of other landlords, he added: There (p. 102) are very few who would be content to live in a cock-loft like this. And looking round my room I realised that what he said was true; I was living in a cock-loft, bitterly cold in winter and stifling in summer; the sun beating on the windows fiercely in the afternoon, obliging me to write in my shirt-sleeves. And it so happened that a few days after Tom Ruttledge's visit a lady called by appointment—a lady whom I was so anxious to see that I did not wait to put on my coat before opening the door. My plight and the fatigue of three long flights of stairs caused her to speak her mind somewhat plainly.

A gentleman, she said, wouldn't ask a lady to come to such a place; and he wouldn't forget to put his coat on before opening the door to her. But you have received me dressed still more lightly.

With me it is all or nothing, she said laughing, her ill humour passing away suddenly. All the same, I realised that she was right; the Temple is too rough and too public a place for a lady, and it is an inconvenient place, too, for in the Temple it is only possible to ask a lady to dinner during forty days in the year. Only for forty days are there dinners in the hall; the sutler then will send over an excellent dinner of homely British fare to any one living in the Temple. She used to enjoy these dinners, but they did not happen often enough; and it was the necessity of providing myself with a suitable trysting place that drew me out of the poverty to which I owe so much of my literature, and despite many premonitions compelled me to sign the lease of a handsome flat. The flat sent me forth collecting pretty furniture which she never saw, for she never came to Victoria Street. I should have written better if I had remained in the Temple, within hearing and seeing of the poor folk that run in and out of Temple Lane like mice, picking up a living in the garrets, for, however poor one may be there is always somebody by one who is still poorer. Esther Waters was a bane—the book snatched me, not only out of that personal poverty which is necessary to the artist, but out of the way of all poverty.

My poor laundress[2] used to tell me every day of her troubles, and through her I became acquainted with many other poor people, and they awakened spontaneous sympathy in me, and by doing them kindnesses I was making honey for myself without knowing it. Esther Waters and Tom Ruttledge robbed me of all my literary capital; and I had so little, only a few years of poverty. I've forgotten how long I lived in the Strand lodging described in My Confessions—two years, I think; I was five or six in Dane's Inn, and seven in the Temple—about twelve lean years in all; and twelve lean years are not enough, nor was my poverty hard enough. The last I saw of literature was when my poor laundress came to see me in Victoria Street. Standing in the first position of (p. 103) dancing (she used to dance when she was young), she looked round the drawing-room. Five pounds was my farewell present to her! How mean we seem when we look back into our lives! When her son wrote to ask me to help her in her old age I forgot to do so, and this confession costs me as much as some of Rousseau's cost him.... In bidding her goodbye I bade goodbye to literature. No, she didn't inspire the subject of Esther Waters, but she was the atmosphere I required for the book, and to talk to her at breakfast before beginning to write was an excellent preparation. In Victoria Street there was nobody to help me; my cook was nearly useless (in the library), and the parlourmaid quite useless. She had no stories to tell of the poor who wouldn't be able to live at all if it weren't for the poor. She thought, instead, that I ought to go into society, and at the end of the week opened the door so gleefully to Edward that she seemed to say: At last somebody has called.

I turned round in my chair; Well, how are the rehearsals going on? I noticed that he was unusually red and flurried. He had come to tell me that Yeats had that morning turned up at rehearsal, and was now explaining his method of speaking verse to the actors, while the lady in the green cloak gave illustration of it on a psaltery. At such news as this a man cries Great God! and pales. For sure I paled, and besought Edward not to rack my nerves with a description of the instrument or of the lady's execution upon it. In a fine rage I started out of my seat in the bow-window, crying: Edward, run, and be in time to catch that cab going by. He did this, and on the way to the Strand indignation boiled too fiercely to hear anything until the words quarter-tones struck my ear.

Lord save us! Quarter-tones! Why, he can't tell a high note from a low one! And leaving to Edward the business of paying the cab, I hurried through the passage and into the theatre, seeking till I found Yeats behind some scenery in the act of explanation to the mummers, whilst the lady in the green cloak, seated on the ground, plucked the wires, muttering the line, Cover it up with a lonely tune. And all this going on while mummers were wanted on the stage, and while an experienced actress walked to and fro like a pantheress. It was to her I went cautiously as the male feline approaches the female (in a different intent, however) and persuaded her to come back to her part.

As soon as she had consented I returned to Yeats with much energetic talk on the end of my tongue, but finding him so gentle, there was no need for it; he betook himself to a seat, after promising in rehearsal language to let things rip, and we sat down together to listen to The Countess Cathleen, rehearsed by the lady, who had put her psaltery aside and was going about with a reticule on her arm, rummaging in it from time to time for certain memoranda, which when found seemed (p. 104) only to deepen her difficulty. Her stage-management is all right in her notes, Yeats informed me. But she can't transfer it from paper on to the stage, he added, without appearing in the least to wish that the stage-management of his play should be taken from her. Would you like to see her notes? At that moment the voice of the experienced actress asking the poor lady how she was to get up the stage drew attention from Yeats to the reticule, which was being searched for the notes. And the actress walked up the stage and stood there looking contemptuously at Miss Vernon, who laid herself down on the floor and began speaking through the chinks. Her dramatic intention was so obscure that perforce I had to ask her what it was, and learnt from her that she was evoking hell.

But the audience will think you are trying to catch cockroaches.

Yeats whirled forward in his cloak with the suggestion that she should stand on a chair and wave her hands.

That will never do, Yeats; and the lady interrupted, asking me how hell should be evoked, and later begged to be allowed to hand over the rehearsal of The Countess Cathleen to the experienced actress's husband, who said he would undertake to get the play on the stage if Mr Yeats would promise not to interfere with him.

Yeats promised, but as he had promised me before not to interfere, I felt myself obliged to beg him to take himself off for a fortnight.

The temptation to deliver orations on the speaking of verse is too great to be resisted, Yeats.

One can always manage to do business with a clever man, and with a melancholy caw Yeats went away in his long cloak leaving Mr—to settle how the verses should be spoken; and, feeling that my presence was no longer required, I returned to my novel, certain that Erin would not be robbed of the wassail-bowl we were preparing for her. But there is always a hand to snatch the bowl from Erin's lips, and at the end of the week Yeats came to tell me that Edward had gone to consult a theologian, and was no longer sure that he would be able to allow the performances of The Countess Cathleen.

You see, he's paying for it, and believes himself to be responsible for the heresy which the friar detects in it.

Every other scene described in this book has been traced faithfully from memory; even the dialogues may be considered as practically authentic, but all memory of Yeats bringing news to me of Edward's vacillations seemed to have floated from my mind until Yeats pitted his memory against mine. My belief was that it was in Ireland that Edward had consulted the theologian, but Yeats is certain that it was in London. He gave me a full account of it in Victoria Street, and was careful to put geasa upon me, as himself would word it, which in English means that (p. 105) he was careful to demand a promise from me not to reproach Edward with his backsliding until the company had left Euston. The only interest in the point is that I who remember everything should have forgotten it. There can be no doubt that Yeats's version is the true one; it appears that I was very angry with Edward, and did write him a letter which flurried him and brought him to Yeats with large sweat upon his forehead. Of this I am sure, that if I were angry with Edward, it was not because he feared to bring an heretical play to Dublin—a man has a right to his conscience—if I were angry, it was because he should have neglected to find out what he really thought of The Countess Cathleen before it went into rehearsal. It seemed that, after giving up many of my days to the casting of his play, and to the casting of The Countess Cathleen, it was not fair for him to cry off, and at the last moment. He had seen The Countess Cathleen rehearsed day after day, and to consult a friar about a play was not worthy of a man of letters. But he was not a man of letters, only an amateur, and he would remain one, notwithstanding The Heather Field—Symons had said it. What annoyed me perhaps even more than the sudden interjection of the friar into our business, were Edward's still further vacillations, for after consultation with the friar he was not yet certain as to what he was going to do. Such a state of mind, I must have declared to Yeats, is horrifying and incomprehensible to me. Edward's hesitation must have enraged me against him. It is difficult for me to understand how I could have forgotten the incident.... It seems to me that I do remember it now. But how faint my memory of it is compared with my memory of the departure of the mummers from Euston! Yeats and the lady in green had started some days before—Yeats to work up the Press, and the lady to discover the necessary properties that would be required in Dublin for both plays. Noggins were wanted for The Countess Cathleen, and noggins could not be procured in London. Yeats and the lady in green were our agents in advance, Edward with universal approbation casting himself for the part of baggage-man. He was splendid in it, with a lady's bag on his arm, running up and down the station at Euston, shepherding his flock, shouting that all the luggage was now in the van, and crying: The boy, who is to look after him? I will be back with the tickets in a moment. Away he fled and at the ticket-office he was impassive, monumental muttering fiercely to impatient bystanders that he must count his money, that he had no intention of leaving till he was sure he had been given the right change.

Now, are you not coming with us? he cried to me, and would have pulled me into the train if I had not disengaged myself, saying:

No, no; I will not travel without clothes. Loose me. The very words do I remember, and the telegram two days after: The sceptre of intelligence (p. 106) has passed from London to Dublin. Again and again I read Edward's telegram. If it be true, if art be winging her way westward? And a vision rose up before me of argosies floating up the Liffey, laden with merchandise from all the ports of Phoenicia, and poets singing in all the bowers of Merrion Square; and all in a new language that the poets had learned, the English language having been discovered by them, as it had been discovered by me, to be a declining language, a language that was losing its verbs.

The inflaming telegram arrived in the afternoon, and it was possible to start that evening; but it seemed to me that the returning native should see Ireland arising from the sea, and thinking how beautiful the crests would show against the sunset, I remembered a legend telling how the earliest inhabitants of Ireland had the power of making the island seem small as a pig's back to her enemies, and a country of endless delight to her friends.

And while I sat wondering whether Ireland would accept me as a friend or as an enemy, the train steamed through the Midlands; and my anger against Edward, who preferred his soul to his art, was forgotten; it evaporated gently like the sun haze at the edges of the wood yonder. A quiet, muffled day continued its dreams of spring and summer time; but my thoughts were too deeply set in memories of glens where fairy bells are heard, to heed the simple facts of Nature—the hedgerows breaking into flower, the corn now a foot high in the fields, birds rising out of it, birds flying from wood to wood in the dim sunny air, flying as if they, that had been flying all their lives, still found pleasure in taking the air. I was too deeply set in my adventure to notice the red towns that flashed past, nor did I sentimentalise over the lot of those who lived in those ugly parallel streets—human warrens I should call them. I could think of nothing else but the sweetness of Étaine's legs as she washed them in the woodlands; of Angus coming perhaps to meet her, his doves flying round him; of Grania and Diarmuid sleeping under cromlechs, or meeting the hermit in the forest who had just taken three fish out of the stream, of the horns of Finn heard in the distance, and the baying of his hounds.

The sudden sight of shaw, spinney, and sagging stead would at other times have carried my thoughts back into medieval England, perhaps into some play of Shakespeare's interwoven with kings and barons; now the legends of my own country—the renascent Ireland—absorbed me, and so completely, that I did not notice the passing of Stafford and Crewe. It was not until the train flashed through Chester that I awoke from my reveries sufficiently to admire the line of faint yellow hills, caught sight of suddenly, soon passing out of view. Before my wonderment ceased we were by a wide expanse of water, some vast river or (p. 107) estuary of the sea, with my line of yellow hills far away—cape, promontory, or embaying land, I knew not which, until a fellow-passenger told me that we were travelling along the Dee, and at low tide the boats, now proudly floating, would be lying on the empty sand. A beautiful view it was at high tide, the languid water lapping the rocks within a few feet of the railway; and a beautiful view it doubtless was at low tide—miles and miles of sand, a streak of water flashing half-way between me and the distant shore.

We went by a manufacturing town, and there must have been mines underneath the fields, for the ground sagged, and there were cinder-heaps among the rough grass. Conway Castle was passed; it reminded me of the castles of my own country, and Anglesey reminded me of the Druids. Yeats had told me that the Welsh Druids used to visit their brethren in Ireland to learn the deeper mysteries of their craft. Pictures rose up in my mind of these folk going forth in their galleys, whether plied with oar or borne by sail I knew not; and I would have crossed the sea in a ship rather than in a steamer. It was part of my design to sit under a sail and be the first to catch sight of the Irish hills. But the eye of the landsman wearies of the horizon, and it is possible that I went below and ordered the steward to call me in time; and it is also possible that I rolled myself up in a rug and sat on the deck, though this be not my ordinary way of travelling; but having no idea at the time of writing this book, no notes were taken, and after the lapse of years details cannot be discovered.

But I do remember myself on deck watching the hills now well above the horizon, asking myself again if Ireland were going to appear to me small as a pig's back or a land of extraordinary enchantment? It was the hills themselves that reminded me of the legend—on the left, rough and uncomely as a drove of pigs running down a lane, with one tall hill very like the peasant whom I used to see in childhood, an old man that wore a tall hat, knee-breeches, worsted stockings, and brogues. Like a pig's back Ireland has appeared to me, I said; but soon after on my right a lovely hill came into view, shapen like a piece of sculpture and I said: Perhaps I am going to see Ireland as an enchanted isle after all.

While I was debating which oracle I should accept, the steamer churned along the side of the quay, where I expected, if not a deputation, at least some friends to meet me; but no one was there, though a telegram had been sent to Yeats and Edward informing them of my journey. And as there was nobody on the platform at Westland Row to receive me, I concluded that they were waiting at the Shelbourne Hotel. But I entered that hotel as any stranger from America might, unknown, unwelcomed, and it was with a sinking heart that I asked vainly if Edward had left a note for me, an invitation to dine with him at his club. (p. 108) He had forgotten. He never thinks of the gracious thing to do, not because he is unkind, but because he is a little uncouth. He will be glad to see me, I said, when we meet. All the same, it seemed to me uncouth to leave me to eat a solitary table-d'hôte dinner when I had come over in his honour. And chewing the casual food that the German waiters handed me, I meditated the taunts that I would address to him about the friar whose advice he had sought in London, and whose advice he had not followed. He runs after his soul like a dog after his tail, and lets it go when he catches it, I muttered as I went down the street, to angry to admire Merrion Square, beautiful under the illumination of the sunset, making my way with quick, irritable steps towards the Antient Concert Rooms, whither the hall-porter had directed me, and finding them by a stone-cutter's yard. Angels and crosses! A truly suitable place for a play by Edward Martyn, I said. The long passage leading to the rooms seemed to be bringing me into a tomb. Nothing very renascent about this, I said, pushing my way through the spring doors into a lofty hall with a balcony and benches down the middle, and there were seats along the walls placed so that those who sat on them would have to turn their heads to see the stage, a stage that had been constructed hurriedly by advancing some rudely painted wings and improvising a drop-curtain.

There is something melancholy in the spectacle of human beings enjoying themselves, but the melancholy of this dim hall I had never seen before, except in some of Sickert's pictures: the loneliness of an audience, and its remoteness as it sits watching a small illuminated space where mummers are moving to and fro reciting their parts.

And it is here that Edward thinks that heresy will flourish and put mischief into men's hearts, I thought, and searched for him among the groups, finding him not; but Yeats was there, listening reverentially to the sound of his verses. He went away as soon as the curtain fell, returning just before the beginning of the next act, his cloak and his locks adding, I thought, to the melancholy of the entertainment. His intentness interested me so much that I did not venture to interrupt it. His play seemed to be going quite well, but in the middle of the last act some people came on the stage whom I did not recognise as part of the cast, and immediately the hall was filled with a strange wailing, intermingled with screams; and now, being really frightened, I scrambled over the benches, and laying my hand upon Yeats's shoulder begged him to tell me what was happening. He answered, The caoine—the caoine. A true caoine and its singers had been brought from Galway. From Galway! I exclaimed. You miserable man! and you promised me that the play should be performed as it was rehearsed. Instead of attending to your business you have been wandering about from cabin to cabin, seeking these women.

(p. 109) Immediately afterwards the gallery began to howl, and that night the Antient Concert Rooms reminded me of a cats' and a dogs' home suddenly merged into one. You see what you have brought upon yourself, miserable man! I cried in Yeats's ear. It is not, he said, the caoine they are howling at, but the play itself. But the play seemed to be going very well, I interjected, failing to understand him. I want to hear the Countess's last speech—I'll tell you after.

A man must love his play very much, I thought, to be able to listen to it in such distressing circumstances. He did not seem to hear the cat-calls, and when the last lines had been spoken he asked if I had seen The Cross or the Guillotine. Wasn't it put into your hand as you came into the theatre? And while walking to the hotel with me he told me that the author of this pamphlet was an old enemy of his. All the heresies in The Countess Cathleen were quoted in the pamphlet, and the writer appealed to Catholic feeling to put a stop to the blasphemy. Last night, Yeats said, we had to have the police in, and Edward, I am afraid, will lose heart; he will fear the scandal and may stop the play. He spoke not angrily of Edward as I should have done, but kindly and sympathetically, telling me that I must not forget that Edward is a Catholic, and to bring a play over that shocks people's feelings is a serious matter for him. The play, of course, shocks nobody's feelings, but it gives people an opportunity to think their feelings have been shocked, and it gives other people an opportunity of making a noise; and Yeats told me how popular noise was in Ireland, and controversy, too, when accompanied with the breaking of chairs. But I was too sad for laughter, and begged him to tell me more about the friar whom Edward had consulted in London, and whose theology had not been accepted, perhaps because Gill had advised Edward that the friar's opinion was only a single opinion, no better and no worse than any other man's. It appeared that Gill had held out a hope to Edward that opinions regarding The Countess Cathleen, quite different from the friar's, might be discovered, and I more or less understood that Gill's voice is low and musical, that he had sung Hush-a-by baby on the tree top; but a public scandal might awaken the baby again. And send it crying to one of the dignitaries of the Church, and so it may well be that we have seen the last of The Countess Cathleen.

Yeats seemed to take the matter very lightly for one whom I had seen deeply interested in the play, and I begged him to explain everything—himself, Edward, the friar, and above all, Ireland.

In Ireland we don't mean all we say, that is your difficulty, and he began to tell of the many enemies his politics had made for him, and in a sort of dream I listened, hearing for the hundredth time stories about money that had been collected, purloined, information given to the (p. 110) police, and the swearing of certain men to punish the traitors with death. I was told how these rumoured assassinations had reached the ears of Miss Gonne, and how she and Yeats had determined to save the miscreants; and many fabulous stories of meetings in West Kensington, which in his imagination had become as picturesque as the meetings of Roman and Venetian conspirators in the sixteenth century. A few years before Miss Gonne had proclaimed '98 to a shattering accompaniment of glass in Dame Street, Yeats walking by her, beholding divinity. We have all enjoyed that dream. If our lady be small we see her with a hand-mirror in her boudoir, and if she be tall as an Amazon, well, then we see her riding across the sky hurling a javelin. And the stars! We have all believed that they could tell us everything if they only would; and we have all gone to some one to cast our horoscopes. So why jeer at Yeats for his humanities? We have all been interested in the Rosicrucians—Shelley our van-bird. Yeats knew all their strange oaths, and looked upon himself as an adept. Even the disastrous pamphlet could not make him utterly forget Jacob Boehm, and we spoke of this wise man, going up Merrion Street—a dry subject, but no subject is dry when Yeats is the talker. Go on, Yeats, I said—go on, I like to listen to you; you believe these things because Miss Gonne believes herself to be Joan of Arc, and it is right that a man should identify himself with the woman he admires. Go on, Yeats—go on talking; I like to hear you.

After some further appreciation of Jacob Boehm we returned to the pamphlet.

It is all very sad, Yeats, I said, but I cannot talk any more tonight. Tomorrow—tomorrow you can come to see me, and we will talk about Edward and The Cross or the Guillotine.


When the boots asked me in the morning if I would like to have my water 'otted, it seemed to me that I was back in London; but the bareness of the hotel bedroom soon stimulated my consciousness, and with a pang yesterday returned to me—its telegram, its journey, and the hissing of The Countess Cathleen in the Antient Concert Rooms.

I haven't been shown Ireland as a land of endless enchantment, I said, turning over, and perhaps the wisest thing for me to do would be to go away by the morning boat. But the morning boat was already in the offing; word should have been left overnight that I was to be called at seven. An impulsive departure would be in strict keeping with myself ... a note for Yeats, enclosing a paragraph to be sent to the (p. 111) papers: Mr George Moore arrived in Dublin for the performance of The Countess Cathleen, but the hissing of the play so shocked his artistic sensibilities that he could not bide another day in Dublin, and went away by the eight o'clock boat. The right thing to do, without a doubt, only I had not done it, and to go away by the eleven o'clock boat from the North Wall would not be quite the same thing. There was an evening boat at eight to consider; it would give me time to see Yeats, with whom I had an appointment, and to find out if there was stuffing enough in Edward to hold out against the scandal that this pamphlet had provoked.

The Cross or the Guillotine. Into what land have I drifted? and slipping out of bed, I stood in pyjamas for some moments asking myself if a paragraph in the paper announcing my sudden departure would cause Ireland to blush for her disgraceful Catholicism....

But it is difficult to be angry with Ireland on a May morning when the sun is shining, and through clouds slightly more broken than yesterday's, but full of the same gentle, encouraging light—dim, ashen clouds out of which a white edging rose slowly, calling attention to the bright blue, the robe that perhaps noon would wear. All about the square the old brick houses stood sunning themselves, and I could see a chimney-stack steeped in rich shadow, touched with light, and beyond it, and under it, upon an illuminated wall, the direct outline of a gable; and at the end of the streets the mountains appeared, veiled in haze, delicate and refined as The Countess Cathleen.

A town wandering between mountain and sea, I said as I stood before my glass shaving, forgetful of Edward, for below me was Stephen's Green, and it took me back to the beginning of my childhood, to one day when I stole away, and inspired by an uncontrollable desire to break the monotony of infancy, stripped myself of my clothes, and ran naked in front of my nurse or governess, screaming with delight at the embarrassment I was causing her. She could not take me home along the streets naked, and I had thrown my clothes out of reach into a hawthorn—cap and jacket, shirt and trousers. Since those days the Green had been turned into an ornamental park by a neighbour of mine in Mayo, and given to the public; and telling the hall-porter that if Mr Yeats called he would find me in the Green, I went out thinking how little the soul of man changes. It declares itself in the beginning, and remains with us to the end. Was this visit to Ireland any thing more than a desire to break the monotony of my life by stripping myself of my clothes and running ahead a naked Gael, screaming Brian Boru?

There is no one in the world that amuses one as much as oneself. Whoever is conscious of his acts cannot fail to see life as a comedy and himself as an actor in it; but the faculty of seeing oneself as from afar (p. 112) does not save a man from his destiny. In spite of his foreseeing he is dragged on to the dreaded bourne like an animal, supposing always that animals do not foresee. But a spring morning will not tolerate thought of destiny, and of dreaded bournes. A glow of sunlight catches our cheeks, and we begin to think that life is a perfect gift, and that all things are glad to be alive. Our eyes go to the horse between the shafts; he seems to munch in his nosebag, conscious of the goodness of the day, and the dogs bark gaily and run, delighted with the world, interested in everything. The first thing I saw on entering the Green was a girl loosening her hair to the wind, and following her down a sunny alley, I found myself suddenly by a brimming lake curving like some wonderful caligraphy round a thickly planted headland, the shadows of some great elms reflected in the water, and the long, young leaves of the willow sweeping the surface. The span of a stone bridge hastened my steps, and leaning over the parapet I stood enchanted by the view of rough shores thickly wooded, and high rocks down which the water came foaming to linger in a quiet pool. I enjoyed standing on the bridge, feeling the breeze that came rustling by, flowing through me as if I were plant or cloud. The water-fowl beguiled me; many varieties of ducks, green-headed sheldrakes, beautiful, vivacious teal hurried for the bread that the children were throwing, and over them a tumult of gulls passed to and fro; the shapely little black-headed gull, the larger gull whose wings are mauve and whose breast is white, and a herring gull, I think, its dun-coloured porpoise-like body hanging out of great wings. Whither had they come? From their nests among the cliffs of Howth? Anyhow, they are here, being fed by children and admired by me.... A nurse-maid rushes forward, a boy is led away screaming; and wondering what the cause of his grief might be, I went in quest of new interests, finding one in an equestrian statue that ornamented the centre of the Green. There were parterres of flowers about it, and in the shadow people of all ages sat half asleep, half awake, enjoying the spring morning like myself; perhaps more than I did, they being less conscious of their enjoyment.

My mood being sylvan, I sought the forest, and after wandering for some time among the hawthorns, came upon a nook seemingly unknown to anybody but a bee that a sweet scent had tempted out of the hive. The insect was bustling about in the lilac bloom, reminding me that yesterday the crocuses were coming; and though they are ugly flowers, like cheap crockery, it was a sad surprise to find them over, and daffodils nodding in woods already beginning to smell rooky. And the rooks. How soon they had finished building! Before their eggs were hatched the hyacinths were wasting and the tulips opening—the pale yellow tulip which I admire so much, and the purple tulip which I detest, for (p. 113) it reminds me of an Arab drapery that I once used to see hanging out of a shop in the Rue de Rivoli. But the red tulip with yellow stripes is as beautiful as a Chinese vase, and it is never so beautiful as when it is growing among a bed of forget-me-nots—the tall feudal flower swaying over the lowly forget-me-nots, well named, indeed, for one can easily forget them. And thinking of Gautier's sonnet, Moi, je suis la tulipe, une fleur de Hollande, I remembered that lilies would succeed the tulips, and after the lilies would come roses, and then carnations. A woman once told me that all that goes before is a preliminary, a leading up to the carnation. After them are dahlias, to be sure, and I love them, but the garden is over in September, and the year declines into mist and shortening days and those papery flowers, ugly as the mops with which the coachmen wash carriage-wheels. All the same, this much can be said in praise of the winter months, that they are long, and sorrow with us, but the spring passes by, mocking us, telling us that the flowers return as youthful as last year's, but we....

I wandered on, now enchanted by the going and coming of the sun, one moment implanting a delicious warmth between my shoulder-blades, and at the next leaving me cold, forgetful of Yeats until I saw him in his black cloak striding in a green alley, his gait more than ever like a rook's. But the simile that had once amused me began to weary me from repetition, and resolving to banish it from my mind for evermore, I listened to him telling that he had been to the Kildare Street Club without finding Edward. Mr Martyn had gone out earlier than usual that morning, the hall-porter had said, and I growled out to Yeats: Why couldn't he came to see the tulips in the Green instead of bustling off in search of a theologian ... listening to nonsense in some frowsy presbytery? The sparrows, Yeats! How full of quarrel they are! And now they have all gone away into that thorn-bush!

By the water's edge we met a willing duck pursued by two drakes—a lover and a moralist. In my good nature I intervened, for the lover was being hustled off again and again, but mistaking the moralist for the lover, I drove the lover away, and left the moralist, who feeling that he could not give the duck the explanation expected from him, looked extremely vexed and embarrassed. And this little incident seemed to me full of human nature, but Yeats's thoughts were far above nature that morning, and he refused to listen, even when a boy pinched a nurse-maid and she answered his rude question very prettily with—she would be badly off without one.

The spring-time! The spring-time! Wake up and see it, Yeats, I cried, poking him up with this objection—that before he met the Indian who had taught him metaphysics his wont was to take pleasure in the otter in the stream, the magpie in the hawthorn and the heron in the (p. 114) marsh, the brown mice in and out of the corn-bin, and the ousel that had her nest in the willow under the bank. Your best poems came to you through your eyes. You were never olfactory. I don't remember any poems about flowers or flowering trees. But is there anything, Yeats, in the world more beautiful than a pink hawthorn in flower? For all the world like one of those purfled waistcoats that men wore in the sixteenth century. And then, changing the conversation, I told him about an article which I should write, entitled, The Soul of Edward Martyn, if dear Edward should yield to popular outcry and withdraw The Countess Cathleen. But I wouldn't be walking about all the morning, Yeats; let us sit on a bench where the breeze comes filled with the scent of the gillyflowers. What do you say to coming with me to see one of the old Dublin theatres—a wreck down by the quays? Some say it was a great place once ... before the Union.

The ghost of a theatre down by the quays? I answered.

One does not like to speak of a double self, having so often heard young women say they fear they never can be really in love, because of a second self which spies upon the first, forcing them to see the comic side even when a lover pleads. Yet if I am to give a full account of my visit to Dublin, it seems necessary that I should speak of my self-consciousness, a quality which I share with every human being; but as no two human beings are alike in anything, perhaps my self-consciousness may be different from another's. The reader will be able to judge if this be so when he reads how mine has been a good friend to me all my life, helping me to while away the tediousness of walks taken for health's sake, covering my face with smiles as I go along the streets; many have wondered, and never before have I told the secret of my smiling face. In my walks comedy after comedy rises up in my mind, or I should say scene after scene, for there are empty interspaces between the scenes, in which I play parts that would have suited Charles Mathews excellently well. The dialogue flows along, sparkling like a May morning, quite different from any dialogue that I should be likely to find pen in hand, for in my novels I can write only tragedy, and in life play nothing but light comedy, and the one explanation that occurs to me of this dual personality is that I write according to my soul, and act according to my appearance.

The reader will kindly look into his mind, and when the point has been considered he will be in a mood to take up my book again and to read my story with profit to himself.

These unwritten dialogues are often so brilliant that I stop in my walk to repeat a phrase, making as much of it as Mathews or Wyndham would make, regretting the while that none of my friends is by to hear me. All my friends are actors in these unwritten plays, and (p. 115) almost any event is sufficient for a theme on which I can improvise. But never did Nature furnish me with so rich a theme as she did when Yeats and Edward came to see me in Victoria Street. The subject was apparent to me from the beginning, and the reason given for my having agreed to act with them in the matter of the Irish Literary Theatre (the temptation to have a finger in every literary pie) has to be supplemented. There was another, and a greater temptation—the desire to secure a good part in the comedy which I foresaw, and which had for the last three weeks unrolled itself, scene after scene, exceeding any imagination of mine. Who could have invented the extraordinary rehearsals, Miss Vernon and her psaltery? Or the incident of Yeats's annunciation that Edward had consulted a theologian in London? My anger was not assumed; Yeats told me he never saw a man so angry; how could it be otherwise, ready as I am always to shed the last drop of my blood to defend art? Yet the spectacle of Edward and the theologian heresy-hunting through the pages of Yeats's plays was behind my anger always, an irresistible comicality that I should be able to enjoy some day. And then the telegram saying that the sceptre of intelligence had passed from London to Dublin. Who could have invented it? Neither Shakespeare nor Cervantes. Nor could either have invented Yeats's letter speaking of the Elizabethan audiences at the Antient Concert Rooms. The hissing of The Countess Cathleen had enraged me as every insult upon art must enrage me—my rage was not factitious; all the same, when Yeats spoke to me of his arch-enemy the author of the pamphlet The Cross or the Guillotine, the West Kensington conspirators and the President of the Order of the Golden Door who had expelled the entire society and gone away to Paris, I felt that the comedy was not begotten by any poor human Aristophanes below, but was the invention of the greater Aristophanes above.

We had only just finished the first act of the comedy in which I found myself playing a principal part, and the second act promised to exceed the first, as all second acts should, for I learned from Yeats that The Cross or the Guillotine had been sent to Cardinal Logue, and that a pronouncement was expected from him in the evening papers. If Logue's opinion was adverse to the play, Yeats was afraid that Edward would not dare to challenge his authority, he being Primate of all Ireland. Further rumours were current in Dublin that morning—the names of the priests to whom Gill had sent the play; it had gone, so it was said, to a Jesuit of high repute as an educationalist, and to a priest of some literary reputation in England. Yeats wouldn't vouch for the truth of these rumours, but if there were any truth in them he felt sure that Edward would be advised that to stop the play would raise the question whether Catholicism was incompatible with modern (p. 116) literature; and this was a question that no Jesuit would care to raise. The line Yeats said that the pamphlet laid special stress on was: And smiling, the Almighty condemns the lost. I begged for an explanation, for, as we can only conceive the Almighty in the likeness of a man, we must conceive him as smiling or frowning from his Judgment-seat. Frowning, I suppose, would mean that he was angry with those who had disobeyed the commands of his priests, and smiling would mean that he wasn't thinking of priests at all, which, of course, would be very offensive to a majority of the population. Yeats laughed, but could not be pressed into a theological argument. You look upon theology, Yeats, as a dead science. At that he cawed a little—the kindly caw of the jackdaw it was, and I wondered why he was not more angry with Edward and with the priests.

Ecclesiastical interference is intolerable, I said, trying to rouse him. But if he were indifferent to the fate of his play, if he did not care for literature as much as I thought he did, why was it that he did not notice the spring-time? Have tulips and nursemaids no part in the Celtic Renaissance? It isn't kind not to look at them; they have come out to be looked at. Do notice the fragrance of the lilacs. Are all of you Irish indifferent to the spring-time? Upon my word, it wouldn't surprise me if the spring forgot one of these days to turn up in Ireland. Yeats, I looked forward to finding Ireland a land of endless enchantment, but so far as I can see at present Ireland isn't bigger than a priest's back.

We passed out of the gates and walked up the sunny pavement; girls were going by in pretty frocks. That one, Yeats. How delightful she is in her lavender dress.

To exaggerate one's ignorance of Dublin seemed to me to be parcel of the character of the returned native, and though I knew well enough that we were walking down Grafton Street, Yeats was asked what street we were in. When he mentioned the name, I told him the name was familiar, but the street was changed, or my memory of it imperfect. For such parade—for parade it was—I have no fault to find with myself, nor for stopping Yeats several times and begging of him to admire the rich shadows that slumbered in the brick entanglements, making an ugly street seem beautiful. But I cannot recall, without frowning disapproval, the fact that I compared the sky at the end of Grafton Street to a beautiful sky by Corot. The sky I mean rises above yellow sand and walls, blue slates, and iron railings; and these enhance its beauty very much in the same way as the terra-cotta shop fronts in Grafton Street enhanced the loveliness of the pale blue sky that I saw the day I walked down Grafton Street with Yeats. To exalt art above nature has become a platitude; and resolving never to be guilty of this platitude again, I asked Yeats if the grey walls at the end of the street were Trinity College, (p. 117) and standing on my toes insisted on looking through the railings and admiring the greenswards, and the trees, and the cricket-match in progress. Yeats was willing to talk of Trinity, but not to look at it; and though I have no taste or knowledge in architecture, it was pleasant, even with Yeats, to admire the Provost's House and the ironwork over the gateway, and the beautiful proportions of the courtyard. It was pleasant to allow one's enthusiasm to flow over like a mug of ale at the sight of the front of Trinity, to contrast the curious differences in style that the Bank presented to the College—the College severe and in straight lines, the Bank all in curves.

The Venus de Milo facing the Antinous, I cried.

Yeats laughed a somewhat chilling approval as is his wont; all the same, he joined me in admiration of the curve of the parapet cutting the sky, the up-springing statues breaking the line and the beautiful pillared porticoes up and down the street, the one in Westmorland Street reminding me of a walk with my father when I was a child of ten. In those times a trade in umbrellas was permitted under the great portico, and though it could interest Yeats nowise, I insisted on telling him that I remembered my father buying an umbrella there, and that my affection for Dublin was wilting for lack of an umbrella-stand under the portico. Impossible to interest Yeats in that umbrella my father bought in the 'sixties, he seemed absorbed in some project on the other side of the street, and when the opposite pavement was reached he began to tell me of a friend of his, a clerk in a lawyer's office who I gathered was a revolutionary of some kind (after business hours), a follower of Miss Gonne. I refused, however, to listen to his account in Miss Gonne's prophecies or in the mild-eyed clerk on the third landing, who said he would join us on the quays when he had finished drafting a lease.

The quays were delightful that day, and I wished Yeats to agree with me that there is nothing in the world more delightful than to dawdle among seagulls floating to and fro through a pleasant dawdling light. But how is it, Yeats, you can only talk in the evening by the fire, that yellow hand drooping over the chair as if seeking a harp of apple-wood? Yeats cawed; he could only caw that morning, but he cawed softly, and my thoughts sang so deliciously in my head that I soon began to feel his ideas to be unnecessary to my happiness, and that it did not matter how long the clerk kept us waiting. When he appeared he and Yeats walked on together, and I followed them up an alley discreetly remaining in the rear, fearing that they might be muttering some great revolutionary scheme. I followed them up a staircase full of dust, and found myself to my great surprise in an old library. Very like a drawing by Phiz, I said to myself, bowing, for Yeats and the clerk were bowing apologies for our intrusion to twenty or more shabby-genteel scholars (p. 118) who sat reading ancient books under immemorial spider webs. At the end of the library there was another staircase, and we ascended, leaving footprints in the dust. We went along a passage, which opened upon a gallery overlooking a theatre, one that I had no difficulty in recognising as part of the work done in Dublin by the architects that were brought over in the eighteenth century from Italy. The garlands on the ceiling were of Italian workmanship, and the reliefs that remained on the walls. Once the pit was furnished with Chippendale chairs, carved mahogany chairs, perhaps gilded chairs in which ladies in high-bosomed dresses and slippered feet had sat listening to some comedy or tragedy when their lovers were not talking to them; and in those times the two boxes on either side of the stage let out at a guinea or two guineas for the evening.

Once supper-parties were served in them, for Abbey Street is only a few yards from the old Houses of Parliament, and even Grattan may have come to this theatre to meet a lady, whom he kissed after giving her an account of his speech. It amused me to imagine the love-scene, the lady's beauty and Grattan's passion for her, and I wondered what her end might have been, if she had died poor, without money to buy paint for her cheeks or dye for her hair, old, decrepit, and alone like that fair helm-maker who had lived five hundred years ago in France, or the helm-maker who had lived a thousand years ago in Ireland. She, too, had been sought by kings for her sweet breasts, her soft hair, her live mouth and sweet kissing tongue; and she, too, tells how she fell from love's high estate into shameful loves at nightfall in the wind and rain. I looked on the plank benches that were all the furniture of this theatre, I thought of the stevedores, the carters, the bullies and their trulls, eating their suppers, listening the while to some farce or tragedy written nobody knows by whom. Grattan's mistress may have sat among such, eating her bread and onions about eighty years ago. A little later she may have fallen below even the lust of the quays, and in her great want may have written to Grattan some simple letter, and her words were put into my mind. Dear Henry,—You will be surprised to hear from me after all these years. I am sorry to say that I am in very poor health, and distress. I had to leave a good place last Christmas, and have not been able to do much since. I thought you might send me a few shillings. If you do I shall be very grateful and will not trouble you again. Send them for old time's sake. Do you know that next year it will be forty years since we met for the first time? Looking over an old newspaper, I saw your speech, and am sending this to the House of Commons. My address is 24 Liffey Street; Mrs Mulhall, my proper name.

Grattan would read this letter, hurriedly thrusting it into the brown (p. 119) frock-coat with brass buttons which he wore, and that night, and the next day, and for many a week, the phrase of the old light-o'-love: Do you know that next year it will be forty years since we met for the first time? would startle him, and would recall a beautiful young girl whom he had met in some promenade, listening to music, walking under trees—the Vauxhall Gardens of Dublin—and he would say, Now she is old with grey hair and broken teeth, and he would wonder what was the good place she had lost last Christmas. He would send her something, or tell somebody to give her a few pounds, and then would think no more of her.

Yeats and the clerk were talking about the rebuilding of the theatre, saying that the outer walls seemed sound enough, but all the rest would have to be rebuilt, and I wandered round the gallery wondering what were Yeats's dreams while looking into the broken decorations and the faded paint. Plays were still acted in this bygone theatre. But what plays? And who were the mummers that came to play them?

As if in answer, a man and two women came on the stage. I heard their voices, happily not the words they were speaking, for at the bottom of my heart a suspicion lingered that it might be The Colleen Bawn they were rehearsing, and not to hear that this was so I moved up the gallery and joined Yeats, saying that we had been among dust and gloom long enough, that I detected drains, and would like to get back into the open air.

We moved out of the theatre, Yeats still talking to the clerk about the price of the building, telling him that the proprietor must never know from whom the offer came; for if he were to hear that there was a project on foot for the establishment of an Irish Literary Theatre his price would go up fifty per cent. The clerk muttered something about a hundred per cent. And if he were to hear that Mr Edward Martyn was as the back of it—Yeats muttered. The clerk interjected that if he were to hear that it would be hard to say what price he would not be putting upon his old walls.

A dried-up, dusty fellow was the clerk, a man about fifty, and I wondered what manner of revolution it might be that he was supposed to be stirring, and how deep was his belief that Maud Gonne would prove herself to be an Irish Joan of Arc; not very much deeper than Yeats's belief that he would one day become possessed of a theatre in Dublin and produce literary plays in it for a people unendowed with any literary sense whatever. Yet they continued shepherding their dreams up the quays, just as if The Countess Cathleen had not been hissed the night before, as if Cardinal Logue were not about to publish an interdiction, as if Edward were the one that could be recovered from ecclesiasticism.

(p. 120) It is an old philosophy to say that the external world has no existence except in our own minds, and that day on the quays my experience seemed to bear witness to its truthfulness. The houses on the other side, the quays themselves, the gulls floating between the bridges, everything seemed to have put off its habitual reality, to have sloughed it, and to have acquired another—a reality that we meet in dreams; and connecting the external world with the fanciful projects that I heard discussed with so much animation at my elbow, I began to ask myself if I were the victim of an hallucination. Had I come over to Ireland? Else surely Ireland had lost her reality? The problem was an interesting one, and getting it well before me, I began to consider if it might be that through excessive indulgence in dreams for over a hundred years the people had at last dreamed themselves and Ireland away. And this was a possibility that engaged my thoughts as we crossed Carlisle Bridge. I put it to myself in this way: reality can destroy the dream, why shouldn't the dream be able to destroy reality? And I continued to ponder the theory that had been accidentally vouchsafed to me until the clerk left us, and Yeats said: Even if it should happen that Edward should stop the performances (I don't think he will), the Irish literary movement will go on.

It's extraordinary what conviction they can put into their dreams, I thought, and we walked on in silence, for in spite of myself Yeats's words had revealed to me a courage and a steadfastness in his character that I had not suspected. There is more stuffing in him than I thought for, and I shouldn't be surprised if he carried something through. What that will be, and how he will carry it, it is impossible to form any idea.

Stopping suddenly, he told me that T. P. Gill, the editor of the Daily Express, expected me to lunch, and he was anxious I should meet him, for he was one of the leaders of the movement; an excellent journalist, he said, who had been editing the paper with great brilliancy ever since he and Horace Plunkett had changed it from an organ of mouldering Unionism into one interested in the new Ireland.

Somebody—Gill, perhaps—had been kind enough to send me the Express during the winter, and I used to read it, thinking it even more unworldly than any of the little reviews of my youth edited by Parnassians and Realists. All the winter I had read in it stories of the Celtic Gods—Angus, Dana, and Lir, intermingled with controversies between Yeats and John Eglinton regarding the literary value of national legend in modern literature; and when the Irish Literary Theatre was spoken of, the Express seemed to have discovered its mission—the advancement of Celtic drama. Angus and Lir were lifted out of, and Yeats and Edward lifted into their thrones; and on the Saturday before the arrival of the company in Dublin the Express had (p. 121) printed short but succinct biographies of the actors and actresses whom I had picked up in the casual Strand. If the entire Comédie Française had come over with plays by Racine and Victor Hugo, not the old plays, but new ones lately discovered, which had not yet been acted, the Express could not have displayed more literary enthusiasm. A newspaper so confused and disparate that I had never been able to imagine what manner of man its editor might be. A tall, dark, and thin man with feverish, restless hands and exalted diction whenever he spoke, was dismissed for a short, square, and thick-set man like a bull-dog, with great melancholy eyes, and he in turn was dismissed for a stout, elderly man with spectacles, very commonplace and polite, speaking little, and not interested at all in literature or in theosophy, but in something quite different, and I had often sat thinking what this might be, without being able to satisfy myself, getting up from my chair at last, saying that only Balzac could solve the problem; only he could imagine the inevitable personality of the editor of the Daily Express.

He would have foreseen that the editor of this extraordinary sheet wore a Henri Quatre beard; whereas the beard, the smile, the courtesy, the flow of affable conversation, were a surprise to me. Balzac would have foreseen the wife and children, and their different appearances and personalities; whereas I had always imagined the editor of the Express a bachelor. Balzac would have divined the family man in his every instinct, despite the round white brows shaded by light hair, curling prettily; despite the eyes—the word that comes to the pen is furtive, but for some reason, perhaps from repetition, the expression furtive eyes has come to mean very little. Gill's eyes seem to follow a dream and then they suddenly return, and he watches his listener, evidently curious to know what effect he is producing upon him, and then the eyes wander away again in pursuit of the dream. The coming and going of his eyes interested me until the nose caught my attention—a large one with a high bridge, and with those clean-cut nostrils without which every nose is ugly. But the nose is said to be an index of character, telling of resolution; and the hand, too, is said to be a tell-tale feature: I noticed that Gill's hands were small and white, with somewhat crooked and ill-shapen nails. A hand of languid movement—one that went to the beard, caressing it constantly, reminding one of a cat licking its fur, with this difference, however, that a cat is silent while it licks itself, whereas Gill could talk while he dallied with his beard. It has been said, too, that a man's character transpires in his dress, and Gill was carefully dressed. His shirt-collar looked more like London than Dublin washing, and I asked myself if his washing went to London while I admired the carefully chosen necktie and the pin. The grey suit fitted his shoulders so well that I decided he must have gone back and forwards a good (p. 122) many times to try on, and then that he did not give his tailor much trouble, for his figure was well knit, square shoulders, clean-cut flanks. A delicate man withal, said the hollow chest, and I remembered that Yeats had told me that last winter Gill had been obliged to go abroad in search of health.

We were not altogether strangers, as he reminded me—he had had the pleasure of meeting me in London. We had been fellow-workers on the Speaker, and so it gave him much pleasure to see me in Ireland. I'm afraid that Ireland doesn't want either Yeats or me, I growled out; and this remark carried us right into the middle of the controversy regarding The Countess Cathleen. When he was in London Martyn had spoken to him on the subject, and had told him that a learned theologian had been consulted and that the incident of the crucifix kicked about the stage by the starving peasantry had been cut out.

I don't remember the incident you speak of. Martyn insisted on its omission, you say? Without answering me, Gill continued, speaking very slowly, hesitating between his words. He seemed to take pleasure in hearing himself talk, and this was strange to me, for he was saying nothing of importance, merely that the subject of the play was calculated to wound the religious susceptibilities of the Irish people; and while stroking his beard he continued to speak of the famine times and of the proselytising by the Protestants: memories like these were too deep to be washed away by mere poetry, though, indeed, he would yield to nobody in his admiration of Yeats's poetry; and if Yeats had consulted him regarding the choice of a subject for a play, he certainly would not have advised him to choose The Countess Cathleen. All the same, he had done all that he possibly could do for the Irish Literary Theatre, as I must have seen by his paper. He had even done more than what had appeared in the paper, for he had, himself, sent The Countess Cathleen to two priests, and placing himself in the light of a wise mediator, he told me that both these priests had given their verdict in favour of the play. One of them, a Jesuit of considerable attainments, had pointed out that the language objected to was put into the mouths of demons.

Who could not be expected to say altogether kind things of their Creator, I interjected. Gill laughed, and his laughter seemed to reveal a temperament that ripples, pleasantly murmuring, over shallows, never sinking into a deep pool or falling from any great height. A pleasant stream, I said to myself, only I wish it would flow a little faster. The opposition to The Countess Cathleen in the Antient Concert Rooms was no doubt regrettable, but I must not judge Ireland too harshly. The famine times were remembered in Ireland; and I had lived too long out of Ireland to sympathise with the people on this point. Yeats (p. 123) had lived more in Ireland; but he, too, was liable to misjudge Ireland, being a Protestant. Gill felt that there was an Ireland in Ireland that Protestants could not understand, and he repeated that if Yeats had come to him in the first instance he certainly would have advised him to choose another subject. When Parnell consulted him at the time of the split—I begin to be interested, I said to myself, and wondering what advice Gill had given to Parnell, all my attention was strained to hear. The fault was mine, no doubt, but at the supreme moment Gill's words and voice began to ripple vaguely, like the stream, and I heard that if a great Liberal newspaper had existed then (he used the word Liberal in its broadest sense), it would have been possible to arrive at some compromise between Parnell and the party, and himself would have gone to the prelates, and knowing Ireland as well as he did, he thought that the situation might have been saved. The present situation might be saved if somebody came forward and gave Ireland a newspaper, a newspaper bien entendu, that would give expression to all the different minds now working in Ireland. He was doing this in the Express, in a small way, for his enterprise was checked by lack of capital. All the same, he had managed to bring more culture into the Express than had ever entered into it before—John Eglinton, AE, Yeats. Under his direction the Express was the first paper that had attempted to realise that Ireland had an aesthetic spirit of her own.

This is true, I said to myself, and I lent to Gill an attentive ear, thinking he was interested in art; but he glided away from my questions, passing into an account of the co-operative movement, apparently as much concerned in dairies as in statues; and for an hour I listened to his slumbrous talk until at last it seemed to me that a firkin rolled out of the door of one of the dairies, and that I could see a dainty little man fixed upon it for ever, a sort of petrifaction having taken place, a statue upon butter or—

My reverie was broken by Gill, who questioned me regarding my first impressions of Dublin, if I would be kind enough to write them out for him, and if not, he was interested to hear them for his own pleasure. On the subject of Dublin the leader of the Renaissance seemed to hold far-reaching views. He knew Paris well, and feeling that the conversation would be agreeable to me, he spoke of the immense benefit of the work that Baron Haussmann had done there; and then, as if spurred by a sense of rivalry, he described the great boulevards he would cut through Dublin if he were entrusted with the dictatorship of Ireland for fifteen years. Nor was this all. The University question could be dealt with, and the Home Rule question to the satisfaction of all parties. It seemed to me that I had come upon the original fount of all wisdom; it flowed from him in a slow but continual stream, bearing along in its (p. 124) current different schemes; one, I remember, was for the construction of a new bank, for the bankers would have to be housed when they were turned out of the old House of Parliament. Whereas I was thinking whether his father was Balzac or Turgenev, and perhaps this point might never have been decided if he had not suddenly begun to talk about Trinity College, saying there was a wider and more Bohemian culture, one to which he would like to give effect. By means of the newspaper you were speaking of just now? I asked.

The newspaper would be necessary, but a café was necessary too. A café was Continental, and the new Dublin should model itself more upon Continental than British ideas; and we talked on, discussing the effect of the café on the intellectual life in Dublin. The café would be useless unless it remained open until two in the morning. A short Act of Parliament might easily be introduced, and the best site would be the corner of Grafton Street and the Green. The site, however, had this disadvantage—it would go to make Stephen's Green the centre of Dublin, and this was not desirable. The old centre of Dublin, which was in the north, should be restored to its former prosperity. Another café might be established on the quays, an excellent site were it not for the Liffey. I mentioned that I had only seen the river when the tide was up, and Gill told me that when it was out the smell was not pleasant. The new drainage, however, would soon be completed, and a café could be opened at the corner of O'Connell Street, but for the moment the corner of Grafton Street seemed the more practicable site.

A question regarding the probable cost of the café brought a slight cloud into his face, but it vanished quickly as soon as he had stroked his beard, and he spoke to me at great length about a man whom he had met in America, and with whom he had become great friends. This man was a millionaire, and his ambition was to build hotels in Ireland, whether for the sake of adding to his millions, or diminishing them for the sake of Ireland, Gill did not know. Probably his friend was influenced by both reasons, for, of course, to found hotels that did not pay some dividend would be of no benefit to anybody. Gill continued to talk of possible dividends, and I listened to him with difficulty, for my curiosity was now keen to hear from him the reciprocation of the millionaire in the building of hotels and the founding of a real Parisian café at the corner of Stephen's Green and Grafton Street, and I waited almost breathless for the answer to this conundrum. It was simple enough when it came. After the building of the hotels a great deal of money would remain over, and with this money the millionaire would build the café.

There isn't a drop of Balzac blood in him, I said to myself; he is pure Turgenev, and perhaps Ireland is a little Russia in which the (p. 125) longest way round is always the shortest way home, and the means more important than the end.

Two or three young men who wrote in the Express every night had been invited to come to take coffee with us after lunch, and their arrival was a relief to both Gill and myself. We had been talking of Ireland for several hours, and Gill had begun to speak of the time when he would have to go down to the office. The young men, too, wished to speak to him about what they were to write that evening, for Gill explained that he did not write very much himself in his newspaper; his notion of editing was to pump ideas into people; and after listening for some time I got up to go. It was then that Gill told me that the newspaper of which he was the editor was offering a great dinner at the Shelbourne Hotel to the Irish Literary Theatre, and he hoped that I would be present.

On this we parted, and a few moments afterwards I found myself lost in Nassau Street, for Nature has denied me all sense of topography, and while looking up and down the street wondering how I should get to Merrion Square, I caught sight of Yeats coming out of a bun-shop. By calling wildly I succeeded in awakening him from his reverie. He stopped, and in answer to my question told me that he had been to Edward's club; but Edward was not there. With one of his theologians, no doubt, both deep in your heresies, I said, and we walked on in silence until a newsboy posted his placard against some railings, and we read: Letter from Cardinal Logue condemning The Countess Cathleen.

Yeats pointed, saying, There's Edward, and I saw him in his short black jacket and voluminous grey trousers reading the newspaper at the kerb. There will be no plays tonight! we cried. His glasses dropped from his high nose, but he caught them as they fell. You haven't seen Logue's letter, then? He admits that he hasn't read the play; he has only judged it by extracts. And you can't judge a work by extracts. Besides, I said, the two priests to whom the play was sent have decided in its favour. Gill told me that he showed you some letters from them. As well as I remember he showed me—But, my dear friend, you must know whether he showed you a letter or not. Yes, I'm practically sure that I saw a letter, but I'm not affected by stray opinions, whether they are in favour of the play or against it. You may not have sent the play to two priests, but you brought it to a theologian. That was in England. Of course you were then in a Protestant country. And did he decide in favour of the play? No, he didn't. Very much the other way.

Edward's sense of humour does not desert him even when he fears that his soul may be grilled; and he entertained us with an account of the evening he had spent with the theologian.

(p. 126) I had to bite my lips to prevent myself from laughing when he climbed up the steps of a ladder, taking down tomes, and he descended step by step very carefully, for he is an old man, and putting the tome under the lamp—

He read aloud the best opinions on the subject. It was like going to a lawyer. Blackstone writes according to So-and-so Vic. Who was this theologian? Edward refused to give up his name, and I could not guess it, although he allowed me many guesses. Somebody you never heard of. Then I am to understand the plays will go on as usual? I see no reason why not. The Cardinal hasn't read the play; he has put himself out of court. But if he had read the play, Edward, and had interdicted it?

An interdiction would be quite another matter. I'm not obliged to accept stray opinions, but an interdiction would be very serious. It would be a very serious matter for me to persist in supporting a play that the head of the Church in Ireland deemed harmful!

I suggested that Dr Walshe was a sufficient authority in his own diocese.

There's that, too, and I wouldn't be surprised if Walshe said some of those sharp things that ecclesiastics can, on occasion, say about each other.

What enrages me, I said, turning to Yeats, is the insult offered to mankind by this Cardinal. But you don't seem interested, Yeats. I can't understand why you are so little interested in the general question, apart from the particular.

I am interested; but the matter isn't so serious as you think. I know Ireland better than you, and am more patient.

Yeats's words appeased me, and without knowing it my thoughts were drawn away from the peasant Cardinal to the spring weather, and I relinquished myself to the delight of the warm air, to the beauty of the sunlight among the flowering trees, to the sky, so blue, so ecstatic, lifting the heart to rapture; and knowing Edward's love of architecture, and feeling he needed a little compensation for the courage he had shown, I called his attention to a piece of monumented wall, designed to conceal the rear of a gardener's cottage, but a beautiful thing in itself, and adding to the beauty of the square.

Two curving wings, an arched recess, vases and terra-cotta plaques—very eighteenth century, a century to which Edward has never been able to extend his sympathy, calling it with some truth a century of boudoirs, and its genius the decoration of an alcove. His sympathies flow out more naturally to the cathedral, to the monastery, and to the palace, never very generously to the dwelling-house.

(p. 127) You've always said, my dear friend, that you understand public life much better than private.

Edward is always willing to discuss his ideas, but for the moment he was taken with the beauty of the monumented wall.

As a screen, he said, it is beautiful, but the sixteenth century would have built—

Built a cottage that would have been beautiful all the way round? No, it wouldn't. As I have said, you've never understood the eighteenth century, Edward, and your misunderstanding is quite natural; a century of feminine intrigue, subtle women devoted to the arts and to the delightful abbes, who visited artists in their studios, drawing attention to the points of their female models. In the sixteenth century Roman priests no longer spoke of their sons as their nephews, and went into the church laughing at the Mass they were going to celebrate. A sixteenth-century Cardinal would have been highly amused at the thought of condemning a beautiful play because the writer spoke of the Almighty smiling as He condemned the lost. He would have said, But if the line is beautiful? and taking Logue by the arm, he would have told him that religion is interesting until we are twenty. After that it becomes a means to an end, and the mission of every Cardinal should be to find a mistress who would respect his nerves, and to collect some passable pictures. My dear friends, how you have duped me! Do you remember what you told me about the Celtic Renaissance? Poets and painters burgeoning on every bush.

I laid a hand on Edward's shoulder and another on Yeats's, and looked into their faces. Now, Edward—Well, all I can say is, the Irish people liked my play, and it wouldn't have been listened to in London ... any more than Ibsen is.

And what about Yeats?

His would have been listened to if he had not put things into it which shocked people's feelings. I know there are many calling themselves Christians who are only Christians in name, but it is very hurtful for those who really believe to have to listen to lines.... And Edward stopped, fearing to wound Yeats's feelings.

He bade us goodbye soon after. Perhaps he is going to Vespers, I said. A good fellow—an excellent one, and a man who would have written well if his mother hadn't put it into his head that he had a soul. The soul is a veritable pitfall. I'm afraid, Yeats, you'll find it difficult to persuade him to buy the theatre for you. He would live in terror lest you should let him in for some heresy.

(p. 128) IV

I read an historic entertainment in the appearance of the waiters; they were more clean and spruce and watchful than usual; the best shirts had been ordered from the laundry, every button-hole held its stud, shoes had been blacked scrupulously; and the head waiter, a tall, thin man, confident in his responsibilities, pointed out the way to the cloak-room, and in subdued voice told us that we should find Mr Gill in the ante-room.

And we found him receiving his guests, blithe and alert as a bird in the spring-time. All his seriousness had vanished from him, he stroked his beard and he laughed, and his eye brightened as he told of his successes ... the extreme ends of Dublin had yielded to his persuasiveness, and under the same roof-tree that night Trinity College and the Gaelic League would dine together. Hyde was coming, and John O'Leary, the Fenian leader, was over yonder. And looking through the evening coats and shirt-fronts, I caught sight of the patriarchal beard that had bored me years ago in Paris, for John would talk about Ireland when I wanted to talk about Ingres and Cabanel. All the same I went to him, and he angered me for the last time by asking for news of Marshall, my friend in the Confessions, instead of speaking to me about the Gaelic literary movement. As tedious as ever, I said, escaping from him; and seeing nobody who might amuse me, I returned to Gill to reproach him for not having asked his guests to bring their females with them.

At these public repasts there is nothing to distract our eyes from the food but the eternal feminine, and when that is absent, the eternal masculine confronts us shamelessly in his office clothes; and looking round I said to myself not an opera-hat among them; and lowering my eyes, I noticed that some of the men had not even taken the trouble to change their shoes. Perhaps they haven't even changed their socks, and to pass the time away I began to wonder how it was that women could take any faint interest in men. Every kind seemed present: men with bellies and without, men with hair on their heads, bald men, short-legged men and long-legged men; but looking up and down the long tables, I could not find one that might inspire passion in a woman; no one even looked as if he would like to do such a thing. And with this sad thought in my head I sought for my chair, and found it next to a bald, obese professor, with Yeats on the other side, next to Gill, at the head of the table. It is always nice to see dear Edward, and he was not far away, on Gill's left hand, as happy as a priest at a wedding. He sat, (p. 129) chewing his cud of happiness, a twig from The Heather Field; slightly triumphant, I thought, over Yeats, whose Countess Cathleen had not been received quite so favourably.

Beside me, on my right, was a young man, clean-shaven and demure; the upper lip was long, but the nose and eyes and forehead were delicately cut, like a cameo, and his bright auburn hair was brushed over his white forehead, making a line that a girl might have envied if she were inclined to that style of coiffure. He answered my questions, but he answered them somewhat dryly. Yeats would not speak, but sat all profile, like a drawing on an Egyptian monument, thinking his speech; and it was not until we had eaten the soup and the fish, and a glass of champagne had been drunk, that I discovered the young man at my right elbow to be full of information about the people present.

The very person, I said, I stand in need of. And that is why Gill put him next to me. So I began to speak of our host, of his kind and genial nature. My young friend knew him (he was one of the writers on the Express), and seemed to be much amused at my story of Gill's plan to introduce Continental culture into Dublin. As we talked of Gill our eyes went towards him, and we admired in silence, thinking how like he was to some portraits we had seen in the Louvre, or in the National Gallery—we were not sure which.

Bellini, I think.

My young friend had some knowledge of the art of painting, for he corrected me, saying that Giorgione was the first designer of that round brow, shaded by pretty curling hair. I believe you're right, I said. It was he who started the fashion for a certain wisdom which Gill seems to have caught admirably, and which, though enhanced by, is not dependent upon the beauty of a blond and highly trimmed beard.

Did you see a portrait of Gill done before he grew his beard?

I answered that I had not seen it, surprised a little by the question. My young friend smiled.

He rarely shows that photograph now. Perhaps he has destroyed it.

But at what are you smiling?

Well, you see, he answered, Gill was nothing before he grew his beard. His face is so thin, and falls away at the chin so quickly, that no one credited him with any deep and commanding intelligence.

The round, prettily drawn eyes have nothing to recommend them. One couldn't call them crafty eyes.

My young friend smiled, but as I was about to ask him why he was smiling. Gill addressed some remarks to me over Yeats's head, disturbing, I feared, some wondrous array of imagery collecting in the poet's mind. The professor I had perforce to fall back upon, and I succeeded in engaging his attention with a remark regarding Tennyson's proneness (p. 130) to write the sentiment of his time rather than the ideas of all time.

But his language is always so exquisite. You must know the line—something you know: Doves murmuring in immemorial elms, not since Milton, and I am not sure that I don't prefer Tennyson's imagery, excepting that immortal line: Blazed in the forehead of the morning sky. Give me, said the professor, the sublime diction. You can have all the rest—the sentiments, the ideas, the thoughts ... all. You remember that wonderful line when he addresses Virgil, that ... that ... (I waited for the rare adjective), that excellent line. The waiter interposed a bottle between us. This excellent wine goes very well with the entrée. He was then called into the conversation which Gill was holding with Edward, regarding the necessity of founding a school of acting, and I found myself free to return to the young gentleman on my right.

You mentioned just now that Gill's beard was the origin of Gill.

Lowering his voice, my young neighbour said:

I'm afraid the story is difficult to tell here.

Nobody is listening; everybody is engaged in different conversations.

Gill is not very strong, and has often to go away in quest of health. It was in Paris that it happened.

We were interrupted many times by the waiters, and our neighbours, seeing that we were amused, sought to share our amusement. All the same, the young man succeeded in telling me how, at the end of a long convalescence, Gill had entered a barber's shop, his beard neglected, growing in patches, thicker on one side of the face than on the other. He fell wearily into a chair, murmuring, La barbe, and exhausted by illness and the heat of the saloon, he did not notice for some time that no one had come to attend upon him. The silence at last awoke him out of the lethargy or light doze into which he had slipped, and looking round it seemed to him that his dream had come true; that the barber had gone: that he was alone, for some reason unaccountable, in the shop. A little alarmed he turned in his chair, and for a moment could find nobody. The barber had retreated to the steps leading to the ladies' saloon, whence he could study his customer intently, as a painter might a picture. As Gill was about to speak the barber struck his brow, saying, Style Henri Quatre, and drew his scissors from the pocket of his apron.

Gill does not remember experiencing any particular emotion while his beard was being trimmed. It was not until the barber gave him the glass that he felt the sudden transformation—felt rather than saw, for the transformation effected in his face was little compared with that which had happened in his soul. In the beginning was the beard, and the beard was with God, who in this case happened to be a barber; and glory be to the Lord and to his shears that a statesman of the Renaissance walked that day up the Champs Élysées, his thoughts turning—and we (p. 131) think not unnaturally—towards Machiavelli. A Catholic Machiavelli is not possible, nor an Alexander the Sixth, a Caesar Borgia, nor a Julius the Second; but if one is possessed of the sense of compromise, difficulties can be removed, and Gill's alembicated mind soon discovered that it was possible to conceive Machiavelli with all that great statesman's bad qualities removed and the good retained. As he walked it seemed to him all the learning of his time had sprung up in him. He found himself like the great men of the sixteenth century, well versed in the arts of war and peace, a patron of the arts and sciences.

But at that moment reality thrust itself forward, shattering his dream. Gill had been an active Nationalist—that is to say, he had driven about the country on outside cars, occasionally stopping at crossroads to tell little boys to throw stones at the police; in other words, he had been a campaigner, and had felt that he was serving his country by being one. But since he had set eyes on his new beard the conviction quickened in him that he would be able to serve his country much better by dispensing his prodigal wisdom than by engaging in the rough-and-tumble fights of party politics. The inside of gaols were well enough for such simple minds as Davitt and O'Brien, but not for a mind grown from a Henri Quatre beard; and remembering the celebrated saying of him who had worn the beard four hundred years ago—Paris vaut bien une messe-Gill muttered in his beard, Ma barbe vaut mieux que le plan.

About the time of Gill's beard Horace Plunkett was engaged in laying the foundations of what he believed to be a great social reformation in Ireland. But Plunkett, Gill reflected as he walked gaily, with an alert step and brightening eye, did not know Ireland. A Protestant can never know Ireland intimately. Such was Gill's conviction, and there was the still deeper conviction that he was the only man who could advise Plunkett, and save him from the many pitfalls into which he was sure to tumble. All that Plunkett required was something of the genial spirit of the Renaissance. Again beguiled by the delicious temptation, Gill paused in his walk. Plunkett could not associate himself with one who had been engaged in the Plan of Campaign. The Plan had faded with the trimming of his beard; and he could hardly believe that he had been connected with it, except, indeed, as a romantic incident in his career. The only difficulty—if it were a difficulty—was to find a means of explaining his repudiation of the Plan satisfactorily. The Irish atmosphere is dense, and to tell the people that it had all gone away with the shaggy ends of his beard would hardly satisfy them. But in Ireland there is always Our Holy Mother the Church, and the Church had quite lately condemned the Plan. Gill is a faithful son of the Church. Of course, of course. The error into which he had fallen had gone with (p. 132) the shaggy beard, and with his trimmed beard, and his trimmed soul, Gill appeared in Dublin, henceforth known to his friends as Tom the Trimmer.

An excellent story that probably started from some remark of Gill's, and was developed as it passed from mouth to mouth. A piece of folk. If a story be told three or four times by different people it becomes folk. You have, no doubt, stories of the same kind about everybody?

This last remark was injudicious, for I seemed to frighten my neighbour, and I had some difficulty in tempting him into gossip again.

Are there any other contributors to the Express present?

Yes, he said, yielding again to his temptation to talk. T. W. Rolleston. Do you see that handsome man a head above everybody else, sitting a little way down the table?

Yes, I said. And what a splendid head and shoulders! Byron said he would give many a poem for Southey's, and Southey's were not finer than that man's.

As if guessing that somebody was admiring him, Rolleston looked down the table, and I saw how little back there was to his head.

He lacks something, my neighbour said; and I was told how Rolleston came down every evening to write his leader in a great cloak and in leggings if it were raining, bringing with him his own pens and ink and blotting-pad, all the paraphernalia of his literature.

A man like that writing leaders! I said. Nothing short of an Odyssey, one would have thought—

So many people did think. He was a great scholar at Trinity, and in Germany he translated, or helped to translate, Walt Whitman into German. When he came back, the prophet, the old man, John O'Leary, whom you told me you knew in France, the ancient beard at the end of the room, accepted him as Parnell's successor.

And now he is writing leaders for the Express! How did the transformation happen?

O'Grady tells a story—

Who is O'Grady? I asked, enjoying the gossip hugely; and my neighbour drew my attention to a grey, round-headed man, and after looking at him for some time I said: How lonely he seems among all these people! Does he know nobody? Or is he very unpopular?

He is very little read, but we all admire him. He is our past; and my neighbour told me that O'Grady had written passages that for fiery eloquence and energy were equal to any that I would find in Anglo-Irish literature. Only—

Only what? I asked.

And he told me that O'Grady's talent reminded him of the shaft of (p. 133) a beautiful column rising from amid rubble-heaps. After a pause, during which we mused on the melancholy spectacle, I said:

Rolleston—you were going to tell me about Rolleston.

O'Grady tells that he found Rolleston a West Briton, but after a few lessons in Irish history Rolleston donned a long black cloak and a slouch hat, and attended meetings, speaking in favour of secret societies, persuading John O'Leary to look upon him as one that might rouse the country, going much further than I had ever dreamed of going, O'Grady said. His extreme views frightened me a little, but when I met him next time and began to speak to him about the Holy Protestant Empire, he read me a paper on Imperialism.

And when did that happen?

About ten years ago, a Messiah that punctured while the others were going by on inflated tyres ... poor Rolleston punctured ten years ago.

And we talked of Messiahs, going back and back until we arrived at last at Krishna, the second person of the Hindoo Trinity, whose crucifixion, it is related, happened between heaven and earth.

Two beautiful poems and a great deal of scholarship which he doesn't know what to do with. How very sad! And looking at him, I said: A noble head and shoulders. What a good tutor he would make if I had children!

So from one remark to another I was led into saying spiteful things about men whom I did not know, and who were destined afterwards to become my friends.

Tell me about some of your other contributors—about the professor who writes Latin and Greek verses as well as he writes English. He reviews books for you, doesn't he?

Yes; but I beg of you to speak a little lower, or he'll hear you.

No, no; he's talking with Gill and Yeats.

Gill is terrified, my young friend said, lest Yeats should speak disrespectfully of Trinity College. He has taken a great deal of trouble about this dinner, and believes that it will unite the country in a common policy if Yeats doesn't split it up on him again.

At that moment the professor turned to me, and asked me to lunch the following day at Trinity, impressing upon me the necessity of coming down a little early, in time to have just a glass of wine before lunch. His doctor had forbidden him all stimulants in the morning, and by stimulants he understood whisky. But a bottle of wine, he said, was a tenuous thing, and he would like to avail himself of my visit to Dublin to drink one with me. I could see that we had now struck upon his interest in life, and with a show of interest which he had not manifested in Virgil's poetry, he said:

Just a glass of Marsala, the ancient Lilybaeum. You know, the grape (p. 134) is so abundant there that they never think of mixing it with bad brandy.

At that moment somebody spoke to me, and when I had answered a few questions I heard the professor saying that he had gone down for lunch to some restaurant. Nothing much today, John. Just a dozen of oysters and a few cutlets, and a quart of that excellent ale.

Again my attention was distracted by a waiter pressing some ice-pudding upon me, and I lost a good deal of information regarding the professor's arduous day. As soon, however, as I had helped myself I heard a story, whether it related to yesterday or some previous time I cannot say.

After that I had nothing at all, until something brought me to the cupboard, and there, behold! I found a bottle of lager. I said: Smith has been remiss. He has mixed the Bass and the lager. But no. They were all full, twelve bottles of Bass and only one of lager; so I took it, as it seemed a stray and lonely thing.

It appears that the professor then continued his annotations of Aristophanes until the light began to fade.

I thought of calling again on Lilybaeum. Really, the more I drink of it the more honest and excellent I find it. When the bottle was finished it was time to return home to dinner, and I learned that the professor's abstinence was rewarded by the delight he took in the first whisky and soda after dinner.

An excellent old pagan he seems to be, Quintus Horatius Flaccus of Dublin, untroubled by any Messianic idea. Now Hyde—I've heard a good deal about him. Can you point him out to me?

As my neighbour was about to do so Gill rose up at the head of the table.

Speech time has come, I said.

Gill read a letter from W. E. H. Lecky, who regretted that he was prevented from being present at the dinner, and then went on to say that the other letter was from a gentleman whose absence he was sure was greatly regretted. He alluded to his friend, Mr Horace Plunkett, who was, if he might be allowed to say so, one of the truest and noblest sons that Ireland had ever begotten.

I've noticed, I said to my young friend, even within a few days I have been in Ireland, that Ireland is spoken of, not as a geographical, but a sort of human entity. You are all working for Ireland, and I hear now that Ireland begets you; a sort of Wotan who goes about—

Somebody looked in our direction, somebody said Hush! And Gill continued, saying they had had an exciting week in Ireland, one that would be memorable in the history of the country. For the first time Ireland had been profoundly stirred upon the intellectual question. He said he regarded the controversy which Yeats's play had aroused as (p. 135) one of the best signs of the times. It showed that they had reached at last the end of the intellectual stagnation of Ireland, and that, so to speak, the grey matter of Ireland's brain was at last becoming active.

Ireland's brain! Just now it was the loins of Ireland.

Gill's soul set free flowed on rejoicing in journalistic vapidities that had a depressing effect upon Yeats, who seemed to sink farther and farther into himself. But continuing unabashed his gentle rigmarole, Gill talked on. He for one had always regarded Yeats, broadly, as one who held the sword of the spirit in his hand, and waged war upon the gross host of materialism, and as an Irishman of genius who had devoted a noble enthusiasm to honouring his country by the production of beautiful work.... What should he say of Mr Martyn? There was no controversy about him. Their minds were not occupied by controversy, but with that which must be gratifying to Mr Martyn and to all of them—the knowledge that he had produced a great and original play, and that Ireland had discovered in him a dramatist fitted to take rank among the first in Europe.

I think everybody present thought this eulogy a little exaggerated, for I noticed that everybody hung down his head and looked into his plate, everybody except Edward, who stared down the room unabashed, which, indeed, was the only thing for him to do, for it is better when a writer is praised that he should accept the praise loftily than that he should attempt to excuse himself, a mistake that I fell into at the St James's Theatre.

Gill continued in the same high key. This gathering of Irishmen, which he thought he might say was representative of the intellect of Dublin, and included men of the utmost differences of opinion on every question which now divided Irishmen, was, to his mind, a symbol of what they were moving towards in this country. He thought they had now reached the stage at which they had begun to recognise the profundity of the saying:

The mills of God grind slowly,
Yet they grind exceeding small.

They all felt, instinctively now, that the time for the reconstruction of Ireland had begun. They stood among the wreckage of old society and felt that out of the ruins they were called upon to build a new Ireland. No matter what their different opinions on various questions might be, they all felt within them a throb of enthusiasm for their new life, their own country, and a determination that, irrespective of different views, they would give their country an intellectual and a political future worthy of all the sufferings that every class and creed of the country had gone through in the past.

(p. 136) You're disappointed, my young friend said, but if you stay here much longer you'll get used to hearing people talk about working for Ireland, helping Ireland, selling boots for Ireland, and bullocks too. You'll find if you read the papers that Gill's speech will be very much liked—much more than Yeats's. The comment will be: We want more of that kind of thing in Ireland.

My young friend's cynicism now began to get upon my nerves, and turning upon him rudely, I said:

Then you don't believe in the language movement?

His reply not being satisfactory, and his accent not convincing of his Celtic origin, I grew suddenly hostile, and resolved not to speak to him again during dinner; and to show how entirely I disapproved of his attitude towards Ireland, I affected a deep interest in the rest of Gill's speech, which, needless to say, was all about working for Ireland. Amid the applause which followed I heard a voice at the end of the table saying, We want more of that in Ireland.

My neighbour laughed, but his laughter only irritated me still more against him, and my eyes went to Yeats, who sat, his head drooping on his shirt-front, like a crane, uncertain whether he should fold himself up for the night, and I wondered what was the beautiful eloquence that was germinating in his mind. He would speak to us about the Gods, of course, and about Time and Fate and the Gods being at war; and the moment seemed so long that I grew irritated with Gill for not calling upon him at once for a speech. At length this happened, and Yeats rose, and a beautiful commanding figure he seemed at the end of the table, pale and in profile, with long nervous hands and a voice resonant and clear as a silver trumpet. He drew himself up and spoke against Trinity College, saying that it had always taught the ideas of the stranger, and the songs of the stranger, and the literature of the stranger, and that was why Ireland had never listened and Trinity College had been a sterile influence. The influences that had moved Ireland deeply were the old influences that had come down from generation to generation, handed on by the story-tellers that collected in the evenings round the fire, creating for learned and unlearned a communion of heroes. But my memory fails me; I am disfiguring and blotting the beautiful thoughts that I heard that night clothed in lovely language. He spoke of Cherubim and Seraphim, and the hierarchies and the clouds of angels that the Church had set against the ancient culture, and then he told us that Gods had been brought vainly from Rome and Greece and Judaea. In the imaginations of the people only the heroes had survived, and from the places where they had walked their shadows fell often across the doorways; and then there was something wonderfully beautiful about the blue ragged mountains and the mystery that lay behind them, ragged (p. 137) mountains flowing southward. But that speech has gone for ever. I have searched the newspapers, but the journalist's report is feebler even than my partial memory. It seemed to me that while Yeats spoke I was lifted up and floated in mid-air.... But I will no longer attempt the impossible; suffice it to say that I remember Yeats sinking back like an ancient oracle exhausted by prophesying.

A shabby, old, and woolly-headed man seated at the head of the second table rose up and said he could not accept Yeats's defence of the ancient beliefs—Ireland had not begun to be Ireland until Patrick arrived; and he went on till everybody was wearied. Then it was my turn to read the lines I had dictated to the typist.

After some words hastily improvised, some stuttering apology for daring to speak in the land of oratory (perhaps I said something about the misfortune of having to speak after Demosthenes, alluding, of course, to Yeats), I explained the reason for my return to Ireland: how in my youth I had gone to France because art was there, and how, when art died in France, I had returned to England; and now that art was dead in England I was looking out like one in a watch-tower to find which way art was winging. Westward, probably, for all the countries of Europe had been visited by art, and art never visits a country twice. It was not improbable that art might rest awhile in this lonely Northern island; so my native country had again attracted me. And when I had said that I had come, like Bran, to see how they were getting on at home, I spoke of Yeats's poetry, saying that there had been since the ancient bards poets of merit, competent poets, poets whom I did not propose they should either forget or think less of; but Ireland, so it seemed to me, had no poet who compared for a moment with the great poet of whom it was my honour to speak that night. It was because I believed that in the author of The Countess Cathleen Ireland had recovered her ancient voice that I had undertaken the journey from London, and consented to what I had hitherto considered the most disagreeable task that could befall me—a public speech. I told them I would not have put myself to the inconvenience of a public speech for anything in the world except a great poet—that is to say, a man of exceptional genius, who was born at a moment of great national energy. This was the advantage of Shakespeare and Victor Hugo, as well as of Yeats. The works of Yeats were not yet, and probably never would be, as voluminous as those of either the French or the English poet, but I could not admit that they are less perfect. I pointed out that the art of writing a blank-verse play was so difficult that none except Shakespeare and Yeats had succeeded in this form.

The assertion, I said, seems extravagant; but think a moment, and you will see that it is nearer the truth than you suppose. We must not (p. 138) be afraid of praising Mr Yeats's poetry too much; we must not hesitate to say that there are lyrics in the collected poems as beautiful as any in the world. We must, I said, be courageous in front of the Philistine, and insist that the lyric entitled Innisfree is unsurpassable.

And I concluded by saying that twenty years hence this week in Ireland would be looked back upon with reverence. Then things would have falled into their true perspective. The Saxon would have recovered from his bout of blackguardism and would recognise with sorrow that while he was celebrating Mr Kipling, Marie Corelli, Mrs Humphry Ward, and Mr Pinero, the Celt was celebrating in a poor wayside house the idealism of Mr Yeats.

My paper irritated a red-bearded man sitting some way down the table. He wore no moustache, but his beard was like a horse's collar under his chin, and his face was like glass, and his voice was like the breaking of glass, and everybody wondered why he should speak so sourly about everybody, myself included. Now that Mr Moore thinks that Ireland has raised herself to his level, Mr Moore has been kind enough to return to Ireland, like Bran.

Who is he? I asked Yeats.

Bran is one of the greatest of our legends.

Yes, I know that. But the man who is speaking?

A great lawyer, Yeats answered, who has never quite come into his inheritance.

And the gritty voice went on proclaiming the genius of the Irish race.

But, Yeats, I said, he is talking nonsense. All races are the same; none much better or worse than another: merely blowing dust; the dust higher up the road is no better than the dust lower down.

Yeats said this would be an excellent point to make in my answer, and Gill said that I must get up; but I shook my head, and sat listening to my speech, seeing it quite clearly, and the annihilation of my enemy in every stinging sentence, but without the power to rise up and speak it.

Who would care for France, I whispered to Yeats, if it only consisted of peasants, industrious or idle? The race is anonymous, and passes away if it does not produce great men who do great deeds, and if there be no great contemporary writers to chronicle their valour. What nonsense that man is talking, Yeats! Do get up and speak for me. Tell him that the fields are speechless, and the rocks are dumb. In the last analysis everything depends upon the poet. Tell him that, and that it is for Ireland to admire us, not for us to admire Ireland. Dear me, what nonsense, Yeats! Do speak for me.

Yeats tried to push me on to my feet.

(p. 139) No, no! I said; I will not. My one claim to originality among Irishmen is that I have never made a speech.

Gill waited for me, and looking at him steadily, I said, No; and he answered:

Then I will call upon Hyde.

Hyde, I said; that is the man I want to see.

He had been sitting on my side of the table, and I could catch glimpses only of his profile between the courses when he looked up at the waiter and asked him for more champagne, and the sparkling wine and the great yellow skull sloping backwards had seemed a little incongruous. A shape strangely opposite, I said, to Rolleston, who has very little back to his head. All Hyde's head seemed at the back, like a walrus, and the drooping black moustache seemed to bear out the likeness. As nothing libels a man a much as his own profile, I resolved to reserve my opinion of his appearance until I had seen his full face. His volubility was as extreme as a peasant's come to ask for a reduction of rent. It was interrupted, however, by Edward calling on him to speak in Irish, and then a torrent of dark, muddied stuff flowed from him, much like the porter which used to come up from Carnacun to be drunk by the peasants on midsummer nights when a bonfire was lighted. It seemed to me a language suitable for the celebration of an antique Celtic rite, but too remote for modern use. It had never been spoken by ladies in silken gowns with fans in their hands or by gentlemen going out to kill each other with engraved rapiers or pistols. Men had merely cudgelled each other, yelling strange oaths the while in Irish, and I remembered it in the mouths of the old fellows dressed in breeches and worsted stockings, swallow-tail coats and tall hats full of dirty bank-notes which they used to give to my father. Since those days I had not heard Irish, and when Hyde began to speak it an instinctive repulsion rose up in me, quelled with difficulty, for I was already a Gaelic Leaguer. Hyde, too, perhaps on account of the language, perhaps it was his appearance, inspired a certain repulsion in me, which, however, I did not attempt to quell. He looked so like a native Irish speaker; or was it?—and perhaps it was this—he looked like an imitation native Irish speaker; in other words, like a stage Irishman.

Passing without comment over the speeches of the various professors of Trinity, I will tell exactly how I saw Hyde in the ante-room from a quiet corner whence I could observe him accurately. He was talking to a group of friends. Is he always so hilarious, so voluble? I'm so delighted, I could hear him saying to some new-comer, so delighted to see you again. Well, this is really a pleasure.

His three-quarter face did not satisfy me, but, determined to be just, I refused to allow any opinion of him to creep into my mind until (p. 140) I had seen him in full face; and when he turned, and I saw the full face, I was forced to admit that something of the real man appeared in it: I sat admiring the great sloping, sallow skull, the eyebrows like blackthorn bushes growing over the edge of a cliff, the black hair hanging in lank locks, a black moustache streaking the yellow-complexioned face, dropping away about the mouth and chin.

Without doubt an aboriginal, I said.

He spoke with his head thrust over his thin chest, as they do in Connemara. Yet what name more English than Hyde? It must have some to him from some English ancestor—far back, indeed, for it would require many generations of intermarriage with Celtic women to produce so Celtic an appearance.

At this moment my reflections were interrupted by Hyde himself. A common friend brought him over and introduced him to me, and when I told him of my interest in the language movement, he was vociferously enthusiastic, and I said to myself: He has the one manner for everybody.

Some of his writings were known to me—some translations he had made of the peasant songs of Connaught—and I admired them, though they seemed untidily written, the verse and the prose. I had read some of his propagandist literature, and this, too, was of a very untidy kind. So the conclusion was forced upon me that in no circumstance could Hyde have been a man of letters in English or in Irish.

The leader has absorbed the scholar. So perhaps the language movement is his one chance of doing something.

Our conversation was interrupted by the arrival of AE. I had read his articles in the Express, and looking at him I remembered the delight and the wonder which his verse and prose had awakened in me. It had been just as if somebody had suddenly put his hand into mine, and had led me away into a young world which I recognised at once as the fabled Arcady that had flourished before man discovered gold, and forged the gold into a ring which gave him power to enslave. White mist curled along the edge of the woods, and the trees were all in blossom. There were tall flowers in the grass, and gossamer threads glittered in the rays of the rising sun. Under the trees every youth and maiden was engaged in some effusive moment of personal love, or in groups they wove garlands for the pleasure of the children, or for the honour of some God or Goddess. Suddenly the songs of the birds were silenced by the sound of a lyre; Apollo and his Muses appeared on the hillside; for in these stories the Gods and mortals mixed in delightful comradeship, the mortals not having lost all trace of their divine origin, and the Gods themselves being the kind, beneficent Gods that live in Arcady.

The paper had dropped from my hands, and I said: Here is the (p. 141) mind of Corot in verse and prose; the happiness of immemorial moments under blossoming boughs, when the soul rises to the lips and the feet are moved to dance. Here is the inspired hour of sunset and it seemed to me that this man must live always in this hour, and that he not only believed in Arcady, but that Arcady was always in him. While we strive after happiness he holds it in his hand, I said, and it was to meet this man that I had come to Ireland as much as to see the plays.

He had refused to dine with us because he did not wish to put on evening clothes, but he had come in afterwards, more attractive than anybody else in the room in his grey tweeds, his wild beard, and shaggy mane of hair. Some friends we seem to have known always, and try as we will we cannot remember the first time we saw them; whereas our first meetings with others are fixed in our mind, and as clearly as if it had happened no later than yesterday, I remember AE coming forward to meet me, and the sweetness of his long grey eyes. He was more winning than I had imagined, for, building out of what Yeats had told me in London, I had imagined a sterner, rougher, ruder man. Yeats had told me how a child, while walking along a country road near Armagh, had suddenly begun to think, and in a few minutes the child had thought out the whole problem of the injustice of a creed which tells that God will punish him for doing things which he never promised not to do.

The day was a beautiful summer's day, the larks were singing in the sky, and in a moment of extraordinary joy AE realised that he had a mind capable of thinking out everything that was necessary for him to think out for himself, realising in a moment that he had been flung into the world without his consent, and had never promised not to do one thing or to do another. It was hardly five minutes since he had left his aunt's house, yet in this short space his imagination had shot up into heaven and defied the Deity who had condemned him to the plight of the damned because—he repeated the phrase to himself—he had done something which he had never promised not to do. It mattered nothing what that thing was—the point was that he had made no promise; and his mind embracing the whole universe in one moment, he understood that there is but one life: the dog at his heels and the stars he would soon see (for the dusk was gathering) were not different things, but one thing.

There is but one life, he had said to himself, divided endlessly, differing in degree, but not in kind; and at once he had begun to preach the new gospel.

I had heard how, when earning forty pounds a year in an accountant's office, he used to look at his boots, wondering whether they would carry him to the sacred places where the Druids ascended and (p. 142) descended in many-coloured spirals of flame; and fearing that they would not hold together for forty long miles, he had gone to Bray Head and had addressed the holiday folk. I could hear the tumult, the ecstasy of it all! I could see him standing on a bit of wall, his long, thin, picturesque figure with grey clothes drooping about it, his arms extended in feverish gesture, throwing back his thick hair from his face, telling the crowd of the sacred places of Ireland, of the Druids of long ago, and their mysteries, and how much more potent these were than the dead beliefs which they still clung to; I could hear him telling them that the genius of the Gael, awakening in Ireland after a night of troubled dreams, returns instinctively to the belief of its former days, and finds again the old inspiration.

The Gael seeks again the Gods of the mountains, where they live enfolded in a mantle of multitudinous tradition. Once more out of the heart of mystery he had heard the call Come away; and after that no other voice had power to lure—there remained only the long heroic labours which end in the companionship of the Gods.

The reason I have not included any personal description of AE is because he exists rather in one's imagination, dreams, sentiments, feelings, than in one's ordinary sight and hearing, and try as I will to catch the fleeting outlines, they escape me; and all I remember are the long, grey, pantheistic eyes that have looked so often into my soul and with such a kindly gaze.

Those are the eyes, I said, that have seen the old Celtic Gods; for certainly AE saw them when he wandered out of the accountant's office in his old shoes, into Meath, and lay under the trees that wave about the Druid hills; or, sitting on some mountain-side, Angus and Diarmuid and Grania and Deirdre have appeared to him, and Mannanan MacLir has risen out of the surge before him, and Dana the great Earth Spirit has chanted in his ears. If she had not, he could not have written those articles which enchanted me. Never did a doubt cross my mind that these great folk had appeared to AE until he put a doubt into my mind himself, for he not only admitted that he did not know Irish (that might not be his fault, and the Gods might have overlooked it, knowing that he was not responsible for his ignorance), but that he did not believe in the usefulness of the Irish language.

But how, then, am I to believe that the Gods have appeared to you? I answered. That Angus and Diarmuid, Son of Angus, have conversed with you? That Dana the Earth Spirit has chanted in your ears?

The Gods, he answered, speak not in any mortal language; one becomes aware of their immortal Presences.

Granted. But the Gods of the Gael have never spoken in the English language; it has never been spoken by any Gods.

(p. 143) Whatever language the Gods speaks becomes sacred by their use.

That is begging the question. I can't accept you as the redeemer of the Gael; and I turned from him petulantly, let it be confessed, and asked somebody to introduce me to John Eglinton. I'm vexed, AE, I said, and will go and talk with John Eglinton. For not having ever communed with the Gods he is at liberty to deny their speech.

And John Eglinton told me that it was not from the Gods that he had learned what he knew of the Irish language; that his was only a very slight knowledge acquired from O'Growney and some of Hyde's folk-tales.

So you've learned Irish enough to read it? And I grew at once interested in John Eglinton, and pressed him to continue his studies, averring that I had not time to learn the language myself. And now what is your opinion about it as a medium of literary expression?

Before he could answer me I had asked him if he did not think that English was becoming a lean language, and all I remember is that in the middle of the discussion John Eglinton dropped the phrase: The Irish language strikes me as one that has never been to school.

Of course it hasn't. How could it? But is a language the worse for that?

We began to argue how much a language must be written in before it becomes fitted for literary usage, and during the discussion I studied John Eglinton, wondering why he had said that the Irish language had never been to school. There was something of the schoolmaster in his appearance and in his talk. The articles he had published in the Express were written in a style of his own; but he had no valiant ideas like AE, and AE had cast a spell, and only his eloquence could appeal to me. John Eglinton had seemed to me dryly a writer, and I could only regard as intolerable that an editor should be found so tolerant as to allow John Eglinton to contravene AE, and remembering all this, I noticed a thin, small man with dark red hair growing stiffly over a small skull; and I studied the round head and the high forehead, and the face somewhat shrivelled and thickly freckled.

A gnarled, solitary life, I said, lived out in all the discomforts inherent in a bachelor's lodging, a sort of lonely thorn tree. One sees one sometimes on a hillside and not another tree near it. The comparison amused me, for John Eglinton argued with me in a thorny, tenacious way, and remembering his beautiful prose, I said: The thorn breaks to flower, and continued to discover analogies. A sturdy life has the thorn, bent on one side by the wind, looking as if sometimes it had been almost strangled by the blast. John Eglinton, too, looked as if he had battled; and I am always attracted by those who have battled, and who know how to live alone. Looking at him more attentively, I said: (p. 144) If he isn't a schoolmaster he is engaged in some business: an accountant's office, perhaps; and the tram takes him there every morning at the same hour. A bachelor he certainly is, and an inveterate one; but not because all women appeal to him, or nearly all; rather because no woman appeals to him much, not sufficiently to induce him to change his habits. He sits in the tram, his hands clasped over his stick, and no flowered skirt rouses him from his literary reverie.

So did I see him in my thoughts going into Dublin in the morning, without a feminine trouble in his life. If there had ever been such a trouble, it must have been a faint one, a little surprise to himself as soon as it was over. A woman must feel as if there was a stone wall between them. Many will think that this seems to imply a lack of humanity, for the many appreciate humanity in the sexual instinct only, an instinct which we share with all animals and insects; only the very lowest forms of life are epicene. Yet, somehow, we are all inclined to think that man is never so much man as when he is in pursuit of the female. Perhaps he is never less man than at the moment. We are apt to think we are living intensely when we congregate in numbers in drawing-rooms and gossip about the latest publications, social and literary, and there is a tendency in us all to look askance at the man who likes to spend the evening alone with his book and his cat, who looks forward to lonely holidays, seeing in them long solitary walks in the country, much the same walks as he enjoyed the summer before, when he wandered through pleasantly wooded prospects, seeing hills unfolding as he walked mile after mile, pleasantly conscious of himself, and of the great harmony of which he is a part.

The man of whom I am dreaming, shy, unobtrusive and lonely, whose interests are literary, and whose life is not troubled by women, feels intensely and hoards in his heart secret enthusiasms and sentiments which in other men flow in solution here and there down any feminine gutter. I thought of Emerson and then of Thoreau—a Thoreau of the suburbs. And remembering how beautiful John Eglinton's writings are, how gnarled and personal, like the man himself, my heart went out to him a little, and I wondered if we should ever become friends. I hoped we should, for I felt myself inclining to the belief that the hard North is better than the soft, peaty, Catholic stuff which comes from Connaught.


While strolling with him, or sitting beside him smoking cigars, listening to him talking about the success of The Heather Field, the thought (p. 145) often crossed my mind that his life had flowered in the present year, and that after it all would be decline. He was to me a pathetic figure as he sat sunning himself in the light of Ibsen and Parnell, his exterior placid as a parish priest's; for knowing him from the very beginning of his life, and having seen the play written, I was not duped like the others. He is thinking that his dreams are coming to pass, and believes himself to be the Messiah—he who will give Ireland literature and her political freedom; and I wondered how far he would go before puncturing like the others.

He was talking about his new comedy, The Tale of a Town. Politicians were satirised and things were said in it that might create a riot, and the riot in the theatre might spread to the streets, and a flame run all over Ireland. We cannot afford, Edward, to have the Gaiety Theatre wrecked. A shadow used to come into his face when he thought of the moral responsibility he was incurring by writing The Tale of a Town; but heresies frighten him more than the destruction of property; he was prepared to risk the play, and took refuge in generalities, saying he was no good at telling a plot. A doubt rises up in my mind always when I hear an author say he cannot tell his plot, for if there be one, a baby can tell it, and it is the plot that counts; the rest is working out, and can be accomplished if one is a writer. All I could learn from him was that the play was nearly finished. He was going down to Galway to work over the dialogue for the last time, and then the manuscript would be sent to Yeats, and when it was read it would be sent to London to me, for the rules of the Irish Literary Theatre were that no play could be performed without the approval of the three directors.

You may expect it in about three weeks.

And a memorable morning it was in Victoria Street when I received the parcel and cut the string, saying:

We shall be able to talk about this comedy, and to discuss its production, on our way to Bayreuth, when we have said all we have to say about Wagner and his Ring.

The first half-dozen pages pleased me, and then Edward's mind, which can never think clearly, revealed itself in an entanglement; which will be easily removed, I said, picking up the second act. But the second act did not please me as much as the first, and I laid it down, saying: Muddle, muddle, muddle. In the third act Edward seemed to fall into gross farcical situations, and I took up the fourth act sadly. It and the fifth dissipated every hope, and I lay back in my chair in a state of coma, unable to drag myself to the writing-table. But getting there at last, I wrote—after complimenting him about a certain improvement in the dialogue—that the play seemed to me very inferior to The Heather Field and to Maeve.

(p. 146) But plainer speaking is necessary. It may well be inferior to The Heather Field and to Maeve, and yet be worthy of the Irish Literary Theatre.

So I wrote: There is not one act in the five you have sent me which, in my opinion, could interest any possible audience—Irish, English, or Esquimaux. There you have it, my dear friend; that is my opinion. But perhaps we shall be able to straighten it out on our way to Bayreuth, and on our way home.

After posting such a letter one is seized with scruples, and I walked about the room asking myself if a pinch of human kindness but not worth more than a cartload of disagreeable truths. Edward was my friend, the friend of my boyhood, and I had written to say that the play he had been working upon for the last two years was worthless. Why not have saddled Yeats and Lady Gregory with the duty? One looks at the question from different points of view, worrying a great deal, coming back to the point—that lies would not have saved our trip abroad. Be that as it may, my letter had probably wrecked it.

We were to meet at Victoria Station, and if Edward were to turn rusty what would happen? The theatre tickets would be lost. No Bayreuth for me that year; impossible to travel in Germany when one doesn't know a word of German. I regretted again the letter I had written, and watched the post. Letters came, but none from Edward. This was a good sign, for if he were not coming he would let me know. All the same, the quarter of an hour before the train started was full of anxiety.

Ah, there he is! We're going to Bayreuth after all!

There he was—huge and puffy, his back to the engine, his belly curling splendidly between his short fat thighs, his straw hat perched on the top of his head, broader at the base than at the crown, a string dangling from it. We sat embarrassed; Edward did not seem embarrassed, but I suppose he must have been; I was embarrassed enough for two. The play would have to be talked about. But who would open the conversation? Edward did not seem inclined to speak about it, and for me to do so before Clapham Junction would be lacking in courtesy. Ask him for a cigar! But one cannot talk of the quality of a cigar beyond Croydon, and when we had passed through the station the strain became unbearable. Besides, I was anxious to aestheticise.

I am sorry I didn't like your play, but you see you asked my opinion, and there was no use my giving you a false one.

I dare say you are right. I'm no critic; all the same, it was a great disappointment to me to hear that you didn't like it.

I had expected a note of agony in his voice, and was shocked to find that he could enjoy a cigar while I gave him some of my reasons for (p. 147) thinking his play unpresentable. If he were a real man of letters it would be otherwise—so why should I pity him? And the pity for him which had been gathering in my heart melted away, and suddenly I found myself angry with him, and would have said some unpleasant things about his religion if he had not dropped the remark that my letter had entirely spoilt the pleasure of his trip round the coast of Ireland in a steamer with a party of archaeologists. I begged for an account of this trip, and he told me that they had visited pagan remains in Donegal and Arran, and many Christian ruins, monasteries and round towers, and my naturally kind heart was touched by the thought of Edward lagging in the rear, thinking of his unfortunate play and the letter I had written him, his step quickening when Coffey began his discourses, but proving only an indifferent listener.

One would have to lack the common sympathies not to feel for Edward, and to myself I seemed a sort of executioner while telling him that the play would have to be altered, and extensively altered. It was not a matter of a few cuts; my letter must have made that clear; but he had not been told the whole truth. He probably suspected it would be forthcoming, if not on board the train, on board the boat. A courageous fellow is Edward before criticism, perhaps because art is not the great concern of his life; and he would have listened to the bitter end; but it seemed to me that it would be well to allow my criticism to work down into his mind. The subject was dropped; we talked about The Ring all the way to Dover, and on board the boat he whistled the motives, looking over the taffrail until it was time to go to bed. His manner was propitious, and it seemed to me that in the morning he would listen to the half-dozen alterations that were of an elemental necessity, and turning these over in my mind, I fell asleep, and awoke thinking of them, and nothing could have prevented me from telling Edward how the third act might be reconstructed the moment we got on deck but the appearance of the foreland as we steamed into Holland.

A dim light had just begun to filter through some grey clouds, like the clouds in Van Goyen's pictures; and the foreland—sand and tussocked grass, with a grey sea slopping about it—was drawn exactly as he would have drawn it.

The country has never quite recovered from his genius and the genius of his contemporaries though two hundred years have passed away, I said, mentioning, as we climbed into the train, that painting was no longer possible in Holland.

Edward wished to know why this was, and I kept him waiting till breakfast for an answer, saying then: The country is itself a picture. See! A breeze has just awakened a splendid Ruysdael in the bay. A little farther on we shall pass a wood which Hobbema certainly painted. (p. 148) We did, and we had not got many miles before we came upon some fields with cattle in them. Dujardin and Berghem. And afterwards the train sped through flat meadows intersected by drains, for the country, once marish, had been redeemed by the labour of the Dutchmen—indefatigable labour, I said. When they drove the Catholics out of Holland, art and Protestantism began together. Look! See those winding herds. Cuyp! Look into the mist and you'll see him in his leathern jerkin, and his great beaver hat with a plume in it, stalking the cattle, drawing bits at a time—heads and hind quarters. I don't like Holland; it looks too much like pictures—and pictures I have weared of.

It seemed to me that we were wasting time. What was important was The Tale of a Town, for another alteration had come into my mind; and anxious to know how it would strike Edward, I asked him to give me his attention.

Don't look at those fields any more; forget Dujardin and Berghem, forget Cuyp; let us think of The Tale of a Town.

His lack of eagerness was discouraging; all the same I began my serious criticism, to which was given an excellent but somewhat stolid attention.

There is no growth in the first act, and very little in the second, and the scene of the meeting in which Jasper Dean makes his great speech must come in the middle of the play, and not at the beginning of it.

I waited for some acknowledgment from Edward, but was unable to get from him either assent or dissent.

You're a very good critic, he repeated again and again, and that irritated me, for, of course, one thinks one is something more than a critic.

Is it possible that he thinks his play perfect? Or is it that he would not like to bring any outside influence into it, because to do so might impair its originality. It must be one of these things. Which?

Edward opened his valise, and took a book out of it, and began to read, and I was left to continue my meditations. Was it that Edward was what I had often believed him to be: merely an amateur? An amateur of talent, but an amateur. That was Symons's opinion. He said: Martyn will always remain an amateur, whereas you, notwithstanding your deficiences, can be considered a writer.

His words were remembered, for Edward's aversion from my suggestions discovered the amateur in him. It was not that he disapproved of the alterations, but he did not like to accept them because they were not his. The amateur always puts himself before his work, and it is only natural that he should do so, for the amateur writes or paints when he has time. When weary of the glory that a title or a motor-car brings him, he writes a book about Shakespeare's Sonnets, or David Cox's (p. 149) slushy water-colours, or maybe an appreciation of Napoleon; whereas the artist is interested in the thing itself, and will accept readily a suggestion from any one, if he thinks that it will be to the advantage of the work to do so. Je prends mon bien où je le trouve is his device, the motto upon his shield. Anybody who can improve a sentence of mine by the omission of a comma or by the placing of a comma is looked upon as my dearest friend. But Edward....

The interruption in my thoughts concerning him was caused by a sudden motion to ask him which was our first halting-place. I expected him to answer Cologne, where we had stopped before to hear a contrapuntal Mass; two choirs, as well as I remember, answering each other from different sides of the cathedral, the voices dividing and uniting, seeking each other along and across the aisles. It was my first experience of this kind of music, and I had preserved a vague, perhaps, but intense memory of it, and feeling somewhat disappointed that we were not going to hear another Mass by Palestrina, I asked Edward for his reasons for this change of route, and my astonishment was great when he began to speak disparagingly of the Cologne music, and my astonishment passed into amazement when he told me that the music we had heard was not by Palestrina at all, but only a modern imitation of his manner. It had seemed to me so beautiful that I did not like to hear its authenticity called into question, but Edward was very firm, and it soon became plain that he knew he had been deceived, and that all mention of Cologne was disagreeable to him. We shall never stop there again, I said to myself, and to fall in with his humour, spoke of the cathedral, which we looked upon as an ugly building. How could it be otherwise? It was begun in the Middle Ages and finished somewhere in the middle of the nineteenth century. But the cathedral at Aix, where we stopped, he declared to be pure thirteenth century, with a good deal of old glass still in the windows; and he looked forward to hearing Mass, his eyes raised to some wonderful purples which a friend of his in London, in whom he placed great faith, had told him to be sure not to miss seeing.

Ugly glass, ugly vestments, ugly architecture, distract one's attention from one's prayers. The music is simple at Aix, but I hear it is excellent; and he pressed me to go with him in the morning, saying that I would be able to appreciate the glass better during the service than afterwards. The purples you speak of must be wonderful when there is a prayer in the heart, but I cannot pray in a church, Edward, and the rather in a Roman Catholic church. There are times when Edward is afraid to understand, others when he cannot; and asking myself which is the real Edward I directed my steps towards the church.

The folk were coming out, but Edward was not among them, and I feared that my opportunity was lost of learning something definite about (p. 150) architecture. He might, however, be in the church, and was discovered after a long search at the end of a pew, in a distant corner, still praying heavily. Reluctant to interrupt him, I stood watching, touched by his piety. He crossed himself, came out of the pew, genuflected before the altar, and hastened towards me, now ready to explain the difference between the Romanesque and the Gothic, and that day I learned that the Romanesque windows are round and the Gothic pointed.

It is always interesting to add to one's store of information; all the simple facts of the world are not known to everybody; and when Edward had told me that the cathedral at Aix bore traces of both styles, we went to study the stained glass, stopping before a large window, the beauty of which, he said, filled him with enthusiasm for the genius of the thirteenth century.

But, my dear Edward, I'm sure that is a modern window.

Whereupon he blazed out. He respected my judgment, but not about stained glass, nor about architecture, and he reminded me that five minutes before I did not know the difference between the Gothic and the Romanesque.

That is quite true; all the same, I know the window to be modern; and after a heated argument we went in search of a beadle, who produced a guide-book and a little English; Edward produced a little German, and between the three—guide-book, German-English, and English-German—it was established beyond doubt that the window was exactly six years old. But let no one conclude that this story is told in order to show that dear Edward is one of the nine hundred and ninety and nine who cannot distinguish between the thirteenth century and a modern imitation of it. Were the story told for this purpose I should be a false friend, and, what is worse, a superficial writer. The story is told in order to show Edward when the fog descends upon him. His comprehension is never the same. There is always a little mist about; sometimes it is no more than a white, evanescent mist sufficient to dim the outlines of things, making them seem more beautiful; sometimes the mist thickens into yellow fog through which nothing is seen. It trails along the streets of his mind, filling every alley, and then the fog lifts and pinnacles are seen again. He is like Ireland, the country he came from; sometimes a muddling fog, sometimes a delicious mist with a ray of light striking through; and that is why he is the most delightful of travelling companions. One comes very soon to the end of a mind that thinks clearly, but one never comes to the end of Edward.

After the cathedral we went to the picture-gallery, and I remember a number of small rooms—hung with pictures, of course, since it was a picture-gallery—and going down these with Edward, and being stopped suddenly by the sight of one picture so beautiful that all the others are (p. 151) forgotten. Who can have painted it? Let us stand here—don't go near it; let us try to work it out. Some Dutch or Flemish master. A Flemish master rather than a Dutch master—I cannot get nearer to it than that; but one of the most beautiful pieces of paintings in the world,—a picture, let us say, twenty-four by thirty-six (remember, it is ten or a dozen years since I have seen it!) painted on canvas or on a panel; for aught I know it may be painted on copper; but if I have forgotten the details that interest the bric-à-brac hunter, I have not forgotten the painting. But no more than this will I say about it—that it is not by Hondecoeter nor by Cuyp, who painted barn-door fowls occasionally, nor by Snyders. Its brilliant beauty is beyond the scope of their palettes. Shall I satisfy the curiosity of the reader, or shall I excite it by concealing the name? Excite it by telling him to be sure to stop at Aix-la-Chapelle on his way to Bayreuth to see the most beautiful cock that ever trod a hen on a dunghill—a glowing, golden bird.


A long train journey awaited us (and Edward insists on travelling second-class, however hot the weather may be), and all the way to Mainz the day grew hotter and hotter, the carriage narrower and narrower, and Edward's knees longer and longer. Our carriage was filled with large-bellied Germans, and whenever the train stopped, and any of our travelling-companions got out, other Germans, as large-bellied as those who left us, climbed in, followed by their Frauen—swaying, perspiring German females, hugely breasted, sweating in their muslin dresses, and tediously good-humoured. It was necessary to find places for the new arrivals and their luggage, and all the way to Mainz it seemed to me that Edward was being asked to remove his luggage, and that I was helping him to lift his valise into the rack or out of it.

The cathedral is in red brick—rose-coloured domes upon a blue sky—and it is said to be of very ancient date; whether Gothic or Romanesque I cannot remember. Edward seemed loath to express an opinion, and he questioned me regarding the probable age of certain walls, but not with a view to tempting me into a trap, and so repair his own mistakes with mine; he is far too good-natured for that. I should like to have shown off; faire la roue is natural to every human being; but fearing to lose my newly acquired prestige by a mistake, I assured Edward that Mainz cathedral was all right, and hurried him off to catch the boat, anxious to get away, for Mainz is a pompous town—imitation French, white streets with tall blue roofs, and some formal gardens along the river. We felt as if we were being roasted. The Rhine itself did not look cooler than molten lead, and we waited, limping over (p. 152) the burning cobble-stones and asphalt, till our boat turned in, our intention being to ascend the Rhine as far as the boats go.

A couple of hours of Rhenish scenery, however, tamed our enthusiasm, and I sought Edward out among the passengers, feeling that I must tell him at once that I had discovered Rhenish scenery to be entirely opposed to my temperament. As he wished me to see Lorelei, there was nothing for it but to remain on deck until the boat had passed the Rhine Maiden's Rock. The harpist and the fiddler whom we had on board might have attempted to play some of the Rhine music; they might at least have played the motives, but they continued to scrape out their waltzes as we steamed over the very spot where Alberich had robbed the Maidens of the Fairy Gold.

We are in the country of Günther and Hagen. It must have looked better in those days than it does now; otherwise Siegfried would not have left Brünnhilde.

Do you really think the Rhine so ugly?

Edward! mile after mile of ugly shapeless hills, disfigured by ruins of castles in which one would fain believe that robber-barons once lived, but one knows in one's heart that they were only built to attract tourists. And to make the hills seem still more ugly, vines have been planted everywhere, and I know of nothing more unpicturesque than a vineyard. The beauty of a swelling wheat-field is obvious to everybody, and the lesser beauty of fields of oats, barley, and rye. I can admire a field of mustard, though I doubt if it would find its way more easily into a picture than a zebra or a Swiss chalet. I love sainfoin and clover, and do not turn up my nose at cabbages; a potato-field in flower is a beautiful sight; much can be said in favour of mangolds, mangold-wurzels; parsnips and turnip-tops are leathery, but under certain skies they present a pleasant variation in the landscape. A hop-country is one of the most beautiful things in the world, but vines are abhorrent—not for any moral reasons; I appreciate good wine with difficulty, but I'm not a teetotaller.

Look; the other bank isn't so ugly.

It is higher and steeper, and there are trees. But trees in Germany seem to lose their beauty; they clothe the hillside like gigantic asparagus.

At that moment a castle rose up through the trees, seemingly built upon the top of a crag, and we learned from one of the officers on board that it belonged to a certain German baron who spent some months of every year in it; and we wondered how he reached it, without experiencing, however, the slightest desire to visit him and his German family.

There's Boppart, Edward said. We'll stop there.

My heart answered yes, for my heart is full of memories of Boppart, (p. 153) a charming, little village on the banks of the river, where we dine on a balcony, and where, with a bottle of Rhine wine on the table and the thought of the bottle that will follow in our minds, the hours dream themselves away. We awake at midnight as from fairyland. We have been in fairyland, for on Boppart's balcony we leave the casual and inferior interests of our daily lives to mingle with Gods and Goddesses. The story of The Ring is told there best, by him that knows it, amid pensive attitudes and minds uplifted to Valhalla; and in the telling the August dusk dies on the river, and the song of the river is heard at last coming up through the darkness.

All trains stop at Boppart, and Edward discovered a good one soon after midday; so we should have plenty of time to climb the hillside and visit the church, which we did, and found it to be a straight, stiff building with flying buttresses, fine in a way, built in the fourteenth or fifteenth century, when every building was beautiful ... even in Germany. And when Edward had completed his inspection of the church we wandered about the hillside, finding ourselves at last in some shady gardens, where we had no right to stray. We shall never see those gardens again, but the dim green shade of the trees and the long grass are pleasant to remember. And it was pleasant to lie there for an hour, out of the way of the light. We who live under grey skies in the North always cry out for the light, but in the South we follow the shade; and I should have been glad to have lingered all the afternoon in that garden, but Edward was anxious to get on to Nuremberg.

The journey is a long and tedious one, and we did not arrive there before something had arisen as much like a quarrel as anything that could happen between me and Edward. A quarrel with Edward is so unthinkable that the reader will pardon me for telling what happened. We were both tired of talking, tired of holding our tongues, tired of thinking, and for some forgotten reason the conversation had turned on newspapers, on their circulation, and how they may profit the owner through the advertisements if the circulation does not pass beyond a certain figure.

But as the circulation increases the loss disappears.

Not, Edward, if a single number costs more to produce than the price it is sold at. The illustrated paper we are speaking of is sold at sixpence. The editor makes a large profit if he sells twenty thousand, because if he can guarantee that circulation he can, let us say, get two thousand pounds of advertisements—the maximum that he can get; and as the paper costs sixpence-halfpenny to produce, you see, it will not do for him to sell twenty-five thousand or thirty thousand.

But that is just what I don't see. I've always heard that if you sell enough—

(p. 154) That is when the cost of producing a single copy does not exceed the price at which it is sold.

Edward remained recalcitrant, and after many efforts on my part to explain, he begged me not to lose my temper.

I can't see it.

The fog, the fog, I said to myself, is descending upon him. And never was it so thick as it is at this moment between Boppart and Nuremberg.

And it lasted all the evening, thickening during dinner, no sign of a pinnacle anywhere. It was not until next morning after breakfast that one began to appear.

That illustrated paper, Edward began.

You aren't going to open that discussion again, I replied, interrupting him.

It was to tell you that I have been thinking over your argument, and that I see it all quite plainly now. There are times when my mind is denser than at others.

It is charming to hear a man admit that he is wrong—nothing is more winning; and we went away together, talking of Achilles and the tortoise, an admirable fallacy, resting, it appears, upon a false analogy which no one is able to detect. Edward, however, had been able to unravel the other problem, and we were going to see the old town. But on our way there we were stopped by the most beautiful fountain in the world, to which all the folk come to draw water. The drawing of the water is accomplished by some strange medieval device which I cannot remember, and which if I did would be difficult to describe: a grooved iron (one cannot call it a pipe) is tipped over, it fills with water and then it is tipped back again, and the water runs out very prettily.

It surprises me that I am not able to produce a better description of an object that delighted and interested me for quite a long while, compelling me not only to drink when I was not thirsty, but forcing me to beg Edward to do likewise. He besought me to leave that fountain, but its beauty fascinated me. I returned to it again and again, and I remember yielding at last, not to exhortations that we should be late for dinner, nor to the strength of his arm, but to the eighteen stone to which that arm is attached. It dragged me away, I vowing all the while that I should never go to Nuremberg without finding time to run down to see that fountain. But the last time I was in Nuremberg, two years ago, the fountain was not to be discovered, at least by me, and after walking till we were both foot-sore, the friend who set out with me to seek it declared it to be a dream-fountain. We took a carriage and questioned the driver. He pretended to understand and drove us to see a number of sights, and among them were some fountains, but not my fountain—mere parish pumps. My friend jeered the more. A dream-fountain! A (p. 155) dream-fountain! So I insisted on returning to the hotel to ask the way to the fountain from the hotel-porter. A Continental porter or concierge can understand trains and luggage in all languages, and when he has learned to do this his intellect is exhausted, like one who has won a fellowship at Trinity. And our man, to save himself from the suspicion that was beginning to fall upon him that he did not understand us, said the fountain had been abolished two years ago, an open fountain being considered injurious to the health of the town. It may be so. But I have much difficulty in believing that the Nuremberg folk would permit such a vandalism, and shall be glad if some reader who knows German will inquire the matter out when he is next in Nuremberg, and publish, if he discovers it, the shameful order for the destruction of the fountain.

The old citadel crowns the hill, and around many devious streets a panting horse dragged us, through the burning afternoon, up to the castle gateway. We were shown the famous virgin of Nuremberg, and all the strange instruments that the ecclesiastics of the Middle Ages devised for the torment of their religions enemies, together with the stuffed representation of a robber-baron, said to have harried the town-folk for years, he and twenty-five companions. The tale runs that one day he failed to make good his retreat to the cave amid the woods, and was taken prisoner. The custom of the town was that a man condemned to death should be allowed whatever enjoyment he might choose on the eve of his execution; a last bite of the cake of earthly satisfactions should be his. The baron loved his horse, and declared that he chose to ride him through the town. No one divined a ruse in this choice. The baron was free for the time being, and putting spurs to his horse he jumped over the parapet into the moat, and swam the animal across it, and so escaped. But at the end of three years he was again taken prisoner; this time the usual gratification allowed to prisoners was refused him; he was put forthwith on the wheel, and his limbs broken one by one with an iron bar. And looking at the wheel, I said to Edward:

You wouldn't have been broken, but I should, had I lived in those times; and Luther would not have escaped had it not been for the Elector of Saxony.

We discovered the great monk's portrait in the museum, and a splendid piece of portraiture it is, Cranach fixing upon our minds for ever a bluff face with a fearless eye in it. We looked into the panel tenderly, thinking of the stormy story of his life—quite a little panel, eight or ten by six or seven inches, containing but the head and shoulders, and so like Luther! Those fifteenth-century painters convince us, giving in a picture a likeness more real than any photograph, and doing this because they were able to look at nature innocently. We wondered at his Adam and Eve, two little panels, hanging close by, single figures, (p. 156) covering with their hands certain ridiculous but necessary organs, in modern pictures generally hidden by somebody else's elbow, or a flying gull, or a flying towel, or what not. Modern painting is uninteresting because there is no innocency left in it. Blessed are the innocent, for theirs is the kingdom of Art!

Edward admired these nudes as much as I did, and when he said it was not a painter's but a photographer's studio that shocked him, I muttered to myself: Pinnacles! pinnacles! On this we went down the galleries, discovering suddenly a beautiful portrait by Boucher, and the question whether his vision was an innocent one arose, and it was discussed before a portrait of a beautiful woman, looking like some rare flower or a bird—only a head and shoulders, with all Boucher's extraordinary handicraft apparent in the dress she wears—a cynical thing, for the painter has told her story lightly, gracefully, almost casually.

And I had to admit that however much we may admire him, we cannot describe his vision as being as innocent as Cranach's.

All the same, these are the two painters who make Nuremberg rememberable, and we left it full of curiosity to see a town about sixty miles south of Bayreuth, having heard that it is today exactly as it was in the fifteenth century, less changed than any other town in Germany. The journey there was a wearisome one, for our train shed some of its German peasantry at every station and gathered up more, and it carried many creels of geese, and these cackled monotonously, while a very small engine drew us with so much difficulty that we feared it would break down at the next ascent. But it reached Rothenburg at the end of a long afternoon, blond as the corn-fields through which we had come, and I said:

We might have walked, driving the geese before us. We should have arrived in time for supper instead of arriving in time for dinner.

The station is about a mile distant from the town, whither the hotel omnibus took us, and having ordered dinner to be ready in an hour's time, we went out to see the streets, Edward, as usual, seeking the church, which was found at last. But I did not follow him into it, the evening being so fine that it seemed to me shameful to miss any moment of it. Never were the streets of Rothenburg more beautiful than that evening, not even when the costumes of old time moved through them. A more beautiful sky never unfolded, and girls, passing with alert steps and roguish glances, answering their admirers with sallies of impertinent humour, are always delightful. They and the sky absorbed my attention, for it is natural for me to admire what is permanent, whereas Edward is attached to the transitory. He had just come out of the church, where he had discovered a few bits of old glass, and he was talking of these (p. 157) eagerly, and congratulating himself that we had seen everything there was to be seen in Rothenburg, and would be able to go away next morning. His hurry to leave shocked me not a little. It semed indeed like an insult to go into a town, look about one, and rush away again without bestowing a thought upon the people who lived in it. So did I speak to him, telling him that while he had been poking about in the church I had been thinking of a sojourn of six months in Rothenburg in some pretty lodging which one could easily find tomorrow, and the attendance of a sweet German girl. From her it would be possible to learn a little German, rejoicing in her presence in the room while she repeated a phrase, so that we might catch the sound of the words. At the end of the day it would be pleasant to wander with my few mouthfuls of German into the fields, and make new acquaintances. The whole of my life would not be spent in Rothenburg, but enough of it to acquire a memory of Rothenburg. But Edward did not understand me. All he cared to study were the monuments and the public buildings, and from them he could learn all there was worth knowing about the people that had made them, all people being more or less disagreeable to him, I said to myself; especially women, I added, noticing that he averted his eyes from the girls that passed in twos and threes; and as if desirous to distract my attention from them, he called upon me to admire a very wide, red-tiled roof, and some old lanterns hung on a chain across the street. These things and the hillside over against our window interested Edward more than any man or woman could; quaint little houses went up the hillside like the houses in Dürer's pictures. There are quite a number of them in his picture of Fortune. Everybody knows the woman who stands on the world holding a chalice in one hand; she does not hold it straight, as she would have done if the painter had been an inferior artist: Dürer leaned it a little towards the spectator. Over one arm hangs some curious bridle, at least in the engraving it seems to be a bridle with many bits and chains; and every one of these and the reins are drawn with a precision which gives them beauty. Dürer's eyes saw very clearly, and they had to see clearly, and steadily, to interest us in that great rump and thigh. One wonders who the model was, and why Dürer chose her. Degas more than once drew a creature as short-legged and as bulky, and the model he chose was the wife of a butcher in the Rue La Rochefoucauld. The poor creature arrived in all her finery, the clothes which she wore when she went to Mass on Sunday, and her amazement and her disappointment are easily imagined when Degas told her he wanted her to pose for the naked. She was accompanied by her husband, and knowing her to be not exactly a Venus de Milo, he tried to dissuade Degas, and Edward who has had little experience of life, expressed surprise that a husband should not guard his (p. 158) wife's honour more vigilantly; but he laughed when I told that Degas had assured the butcher that the erotic sentiment was not strong in him, and he liked my description of the poor, deformed creature standing in front of a tin bath, gripping her flanks with both hands—his bias towards ecclesiasticism enables him to sympathise with the Middle Ages, and its inherent tendency to regard women as inferior, and to keep them out of sight.

It's strange, I said to myself, to feel so different from one's fellows, to be exempt from all interest and solicitude for the female, to be uninfluenced by that beauty which sex dowers her with, and which achieves such marvels in the heart. We go to our mistresses as to Goddesses, and the peasant, though he does not think of Goddesses, thinks of the wife waiting for him at his fireside, with a tender, kindly emotion of which the labour of the fields has not been able to rob him. It's wonderful to come into the world unconcerned with the other sex, Edward.

You think I hate women. You're quite wrong. I don't hate women, only they seem absurd. When I see them going along the streets together they make me laugh; their hats and feathers, everything about them.

We come into the world, Edward, with different minds; that is a thing we can't remember too often. What makes you laugh enchants me. Nature has given us companions as different from us as the birds of the air, and for that I shall always feel grateful to Nature.

And then, just for the sake of expressing myself, though I knew that Edward would never understand, I told him that the coming of a woman into the room was like a delicious change of light.

Without women we should be all reasonable, Edward; there would be no instinct, and a reasonable world—what would it be like? A garden without flowers, music without melody.

But these comparisons did not satisfy me, and seeking for another one I hit upon this, and it seemed to express my meaning better: without women the world would be like a palette set in the raw umber and white. Women are the colouring matter, the glaze the old painters used. Edward wanted information as to the method employed by the old painters, but I preferred to develop my theme, telling him that a mother's affection for her daughter was quite different from her affection for her son, and that when a father looks upon his daughter he hears the love that he bore her mother echoed down the years, and muttering the old saw God is Love, I said that it would be much truer to invert the words, considering religion as a development of the romance which begins on earth.

To one who realises hell more clearly than heaven, and to one so temperamentally narrow as my friend, it must have been disagreeable (p. 159) to hear me say that religion has helped many to raise sex from earth to heaven; to instance Teresa as an example, saying how she has, in hundreds of pages of verse and prose, told her happy fate, that, by resigning an earthly, she has acquired an eternal Bridegroom.

It was in the second or third century that the Church became aware that heaven without a virgin could not commend itself to man's imagination, but the adoration of the Virgin, said to be encouraged by the Catholic Church, has never been realised by any saint that I know of—not even by St Bernard. Nor is this altogether to be wondered at; the Virgin is always represented with a baby in her arms: motherhood is her constant occupation, and I can imagine Edward, to whom all exhibition of sex is disagreeable, being not a little shocked at the insistence of certain painters on the breast, the nipple, and the gluttonous lips of the child. The exhibition which women make of their bosoms at dinner-parties has always struck him as somewhat ludicrous. Full-blown roses, he used to call them, reminding him of the flower-maidens in Klinsor's garden.

Who could not tempt Parsifal, and would not tempt you, Edward. But would you have yelled as he did when Kundry tried to kiss him?

By one of those intricate and elaborate analogies of thought which surprise us, Parsifal took me back to my chambers in King's Bench Walk, and I told Edward how, when I was writing Esther Waters, it was a help to me to gossip with my laundress after breakfast, a pious woman of the Nonconformist type, like Esther herself. Almost any topical event provided a basis for ethical discussion; a divorce case best of all, and the O'Shea divorce and Parnell's complicity seemed to me to be the very thing. But it was impossible to engage her attention, and soon it was evident that she was much more interested in a certain murder case—a Mrs Percy who had murdered another woman's baby, and hidden it in a perambulator. It was the perambulator that gave the story the touch of realism that appealed to my laundress's imagination. But the murder of a baby offering little scope for ethical discussion, I took advantage of the first break in the flow of her conversation to remind her that the crimes were not parallel.

Don't you think so, sir? And I can still see her rolling her apron about her arms. It comes to the same thing in the end, sir, for when one party goes away with the other party, the party that's left behind dies.

Her view of life interested me; the importance of desertion is greater among the lower classes than it is among the upper; but it could not be doubted that she was telling me what she had heard from the parson rather than any view of her own, drawn from her experience. Therefore, to get at herself, to force her into direct personal expression, I said:

(p. 160) You can't seriously maintain, Mrs Millar, that adultery is as great a crime as murder?

Still winding her coarse apron round her arms, she stood looking at me, her eyes perplexed and ambiguous, and I thought of how I might move her out of her position.

You know your Bible, Mrs Millar? You know the story of the woman of Samaria? And you remember that Christ forbade the people to stone her, and told her to sin no more?... Mrs Millar, you can't deny that Christ said that ... and you are a Christian woman.

Yes, sir, he did say that; but you must remember he was only a bachelor.

I think I fell back in my chair and looked at my laundress in amazement, until she began to wonder what was the matter, and she must have wondered the more when I told her she had said something which I should never forget.

But what I said is true, isn't it? she answered shyly.

Yes, it's quite true, only nobody ever thought of it before, Mrs Millar! It's true that the married man who brings home his wages at the end of the week is the one that understands life, and you are quite right to condone Christ's laxity in not pronouncing a fuller condemnation. You are quite right. The bachelor may not attain to any full comprehension of the 'ome.

She left the room, confused and wondering at my praise, thinking that she had answered as everybody would have answered, and conscious of having expressed national sentiments.

Dear Irish Edward was shocked by Mrs Millar's theology at first, but hearing that she was a pious woman, he roused a little, and, lest he might reproach Protestantism for its married clergy, I reminded him that Rome still retained married clergy in Greece. His answer was that he was sure the Greek priests abstained from their wives before their ministrations, an answer that rejoiced my heart exceedingly, and set me thinking that the Western mind has never been able to assimilate, or even understand, the ideas that Christianity brought from the East. Our notions of the value of chastity are crude enough, and the Brahmin would life his eyes in silent contempt on hearing from a priest that a man, if he lives chastely, though he be a glutton and a drunkard, will never descend to so low a stage of materialism as he that lives with a woman ... even if his life be strict. The oddest of all animals is man; in him, as in all other animals, the sexual interest is the strongest; yet the desire is inveterate in him to reject it; and I am sure that Christ's words that in heaven there is neither marriage nor giving in marriage have taken a great weight off Edward's mind, and must have inspired in him many prayers for a small stool in heaven. If by any chance he should (p. 161) not get one (which is, of course, unthinkable) and finds himself among the damned, his plight will be worse than ever, for I suppose he will have no opportunity for correcting his natural disinclination, and I believe no theologian has yet decided that the damned do not continue to commit the sins in hell which they were damned for committing on earth.

Edward always leads me to think of the Middle Ages, but he also leads me to think sometimes of the ages that preceded these. There are survivals of pagan rites in Christianity, and in every man there is a survival of the pagan that preceded him; paganism is primordial fire, and it is always breaking through the Christian crust. We know of the eruption that took place in Italy in the sixteenth century, and, though the pagan Edward lies in durance vile, Edward is, in common with every other human being, no more than a pagan overlaid with Christianity. If three men meet in The Heather Field to speak of the misfortune that comes to a man when he allows himself to be inveigled by woman's beauty, they express, every one of them, a craving for some higher beauty, and this craving finds beautiful expression in the scene between Carden Tyrrell and his brother; and the same craving for some beauty, half imagined, something which the world has lost, is the theme of Maeve. She renounces earthly love, and dreams of a hero of Celtic romance, and in her last sleep he visits her at the head of a wonderful assemblage. Edward's paganism finds fuller expression in The Enchanted Sea than in any other play. In the depths of green sea-water, we catch sight of the face of the beautiful boy, Guy, whose drowning causes Lord Mark such blinding despair that he walks like one enchanted into the sea, and is carried away by the waves. More in this play than in the others do we catch a glimpse of the author's earlier soul, for every soul proceeds out of paganism; only in Edward the twain are more distinct; neither has absorbed the other, both exist contemporaneously and side by side—a Greek marble may be found enfolded in a friar's frock.


Though we could find nothing of interest to say about Rothenburg, we did not wish to leave the town in a slighting silence, so I asked Edward if he thought that living among medieval aspects influenced the children playing, and if it were possible to feel sure that the Rothenburg mind could be as effective in modern life as the Berlin, or the Carlsbad, or the Dresden? Edward replied that he did not know or care whether it would be as effective, but was quite sure that life in a medieval town (p. 162) could not fail to produce a beautiful mind, and a long discussion sprang up between us, I maintaining that it were better to live in a modern town like Düsseldorf, in which there is only one picture—Holbein's Holy Family—then to live in a medieval town like Rothenburg, where there are only roofs and lanterns; Edward declaring that art is traditional, and where there is no tradition there can be no art, and, though it was not likely that Rothenburg would produce an impressionist painter—

There is no saying that Rothenburg might not produce another Cranach, or, better still, another Luther. And you would not mind sacrificing some red roofs to save Europe from another heresy.

Edward did not like my remark. It proved my soul, he said, a shallow one, for whenever I was being cornered in an argument I tried to banter my way out.

Continue, my dear friend; but I don't see your point.

Nor do I see yours, he answered—I thought somewhat testily. Rothenburg is a Gothic town, and you don't approve of the Gothic. Is your proposal to turn the people out of Rothenburg and keep the place as a museum? You wouldn't destroy it, I suppose?

Destroy it! No, I answered. But if it can be shown that medieval surroundings are not altogether a healthy influence upon children, do you not think that some opportunity should be given to them for contrasting the old with the new, and that some part of the town, for instance, should be modernised?

It is possible that the reader will think that I was rather tiresome that day, but so was the train, and to while away the time there was no resource but to raise the question whether Rothenburg would have produced the same Edward as Galway. But the question did not succeed in provoking any of those psychological admissions that make him so agreeable a travelling companion. He was not in a communicative mood that afternoon, and to draw him out I was obliged to remind him that Bavaria is Protestant and Catholic, and strangely intermixed, for the two sects use the same church—service at eleven and Mass at twelve.

And you might have been brought up a Protestant, Edward, or half and half.

A grave look came into his face, and he answered that if he hadn't been brought up a Catholic, and severely, he might have gone to pieces altogether; and I sat pondering the very interesting question whether Edward would have done better as a Protestant than as a Catholic. Every man knows himself better than any one else can know him, and Edward seemed to think that he needed a stay. Perhaps so, but there is a vein of thought—perhaps I should say of feeling—in him which (p. 163) Catholicism seems to me to have restrained, and which Protestantism, I like to think, would have encouraged. The effect of religion upon character was worth considering, and as there was nothing else to do in the train I set myself to think the matter out.

But it is hard to set bounds on one's thoughts, and mine suddenly turned from Edward, and I found myself wondering if the great genius towards whom we were faring could have written The Ring in Rothenburg. Now this was a question which had to be put to Edward, and at once, and he applied himself to it, pointing out that Bayreuth was nearly as quaint and slumberous as Rothenburg, yet Wagner had written part of The Ring in Bayreuth. True that he had written parts of it all over Europe; some of it was written in Switzerland, some in Italy, some even in Dorset Square.

But if he had been born in Rothenburg and had never left it—

The noise of the train prevented me from catching his answer, and leaning back in my seat, I fell to thinking of the extraordinary joy and interest that Bayreuth had been in my life ever since Edward and I went there for the first time at the beginning of the 'nineties, after hearing a performance of The Ring in London.

It had been the horns announcing the Rhine that re-awakened my musical conscience. The melodies of my own country I had never heard. Offenbach and Hervé stirred me to music when we went to live in London, and I carried to Paris all their little tunes in my head. Painters are often more or less musicians: one such drifted into our studio, and he introduced me to the Circle des Merlitons, where I heard Haydn, Beethoven, Mozart. Classical music ousted operette without difficulty; and as long as there were musical friends about, music was followed with as much interest as could be spared from the art of painting. But when the maladministration of my affairs called me from Paris to Ireland musical interests disappeared with my French friends; they were driven underground when agrarian outrages compelled me to consider the possibility of earning my living. The only way open to me was literature, so I went to London to learn to write, as has been told in a chapter in an earlier book.

In London literature and poverty absorbed me for several years, and I had forgotten music altogether when Edward asked me if I would go to hear The Rhinegold. I had consented, regretting my promise almost as soon as it was given, for Wagner was reputed unmelodious and difficult to all except the most erudite, and fearing that I should be bored for several hours by sounds which would mean nothing to me, I began to seek for excuses, and to ask Edward if he could not dispose of the ticket he had taken for me. He could not do this, and as my plaints did not cease, he said to me, as we walked up King's Bench Walk:

(p. 164) Well, there's no use your coming. All my pleasure will be spoilt.

The dark theatre reminded me of the rooms at exhibitions in which bad pictures are exhibited, no light showing anywhere except on the picture itself; but the moment the horns gave out the theme of the Rhine my attention was arrested, and a few minutes after it was clear that new birth awaited me. A day or two later I heard Tristan, and it so happened that there were performances at Bayreuth that year, so Edward and I went there together, and we have gone there many times since, each visit awakening every little musical faculty in me, and developing it; and though nothing can be created, a seed can be developed prodigiously, and a taste likewise, if the soil be fertile and circumstances fortunate. They were certainly favourable to my picking up this lost interest. Edward is a true melamonaic, loving all good music, and ready to travel anywhere to hear music; then there is Dujardin, who is always talking to me about music; his friends are musicians and whenever I go to Paris I am with musicians, talking about music when not listening to it, and once again my life began to unfold in a musical atmosphere. To feel one's life unfolding is joy. Life should never cease to unfold, and it will be time enough for Death to lower the banner when the last stitch of canvas is reached.

Now I was going to Bayreuth again, determined to understand The Ring a little better than heretofore. But was this possible? I can learn until somebody tries to teach me; all the same every man is at tether, and lying back in my seat in the train from Rothenburg, a little weary of conversation with Edward, I relinquished myself to regrets that my ear only allows me to hear the surface of the music, the motives which float up to the top, the transforming effect of a chord upon a melodic phrase. I can hear that Wagner's melodies arise naturally one out of the other. If I could not hear that every melody in Tristan rises out of the one that preceded it, Wagner would have written in vain, so far as I was concerned. My ear is but rudimentary, an ear that will seem like no ear to those who can hear the whole orchestra together and in detail, seeing in their mind's eye the notes that every instrument is playing. It is well to have their ears, but mere ear will not carry anybody very far; to appreciate music an intelligence is necessary; and those who are not gifted with too much ear can hear the music oftener than those who can read it. Last year in Paris Dukas told me he would not go to hear some music with me because he had read it, and having once read a piece of music there was nothing left in it for him.

So essentially human is Wagner that there is something in his art for everybody, something in his music for me, and a great deal for musicians; and besides the music, some part of which everybody except the tone-deaf can hear, there are the dramas, wonderful in conception (p. 165) and literary art; for him gifted with imagination there are scenes in The Ring as beautiful as any in Shakespeare; and were Dujardin pressed to state his real feeling on the subject he would affirm that nothing has been written in words as moving as the scene in which Brünnhilde tells Siegmund that Wotan is calling him to Valhalla. Not the music, Dujardin cries—it is not the music that counts, but the words. The music is beautiful, of course it is—it couldn't be else; but so intensely aware was Wagner of the poetry that he allowed it to transpire.

One can think about Dujardin and Wagner without the time appearing long; and I had forgotten a very important matter about which there had been a great deal of correspondence, till I was suddenly reminded of it by a slackening in the speed of the train.

At the time I am writing of, Bayreuth was an uncomfortable town to live in; it has changed a good deal within the last ten years, and in the twentieth century we get better food in the restaurants than we did in the nineteenth; bathrooms have begun to appear, the fly-haunted privy is nearly extinct, and this was the important matter that the slackening of the train's speed had reminded me of. We had written many letters, and had many interviews with the agent who apportions out the lodgings, and my last words had been to him, A clean privy! He had promised that he would see to it, but from the direction in which the coachman was driving us, it would seem that the desirable accommodation was not procurable in the town. It was Edward who noticed that our coachman was heading straight for the country, and standing up in the carriage, he began to expostulate—ineffectually, however, for Edward's German is limited and the driver only laughed, pointing with a whip towards a hillside facing the theatre, and there we saw a villa embowered and overlooking a corn-field, a lodging so delightful that I could not but feel interested in Edward's objection to it.

We shall be out of the way of everything, was all he shrieked.

But not out of the way of the theatre! I interjected. We shall walk through the corn-fields to it.

The theatre isn't everything.

Everything in Bayreuth ... surely.

He spoke of his breakfast. He wouldn't be able to get it. He must be near a restaurant, and the corn-field did not appeal to his sense of the picturesque as Rothenburg did. Despite my entreaty, he stood up again in the carriage, and began to expostulate with the driver again, who, however, only laughed and pointed with his whip, pouring forth all the while a torrent of Bavarian German which Edward could not understand.

How shall I stop him? he cried, turning to me, who can speak no (p. 166) single word of German. After mentioning this fact, I reminded him that the people in the villa were waiting for us, and for us to go away to the town without advising them might prevent them from letting their lodgings. I said this, knowing Edward's weak spot—his moral conscience. He fell to my arrow, answering quietly that he would willingly pay for the lodging on the hillside if I would only go with him to the town in search of another. To this I consented, unwillingly I admit, but I consented. My unwillingness, however, to live in the town, where all the decent lodgings had long ago been taken, became more marked when we were shown into a large drawing-room and two bedrooms, the cleanest we had ever seen in Bayreuth.

We shall want a room in which to write The Tale of a Town.

The mention of his play did not seem to soften Edward, and the landlord, an elderly man, who had relinquished me because I knew no German at all, attached himself to Edward—literally attached himself, taking him by the lappet of his coat; and I remember how the old man drew him along with him to the end of a passage, I following them, compelled by curiosity. We came to a door, which the old man threw open with a flourish, exhibiting to our enchanted gaze a brand-new water-closet, all varnish and cleanliness, and the pride of the old man, who entered into a long explanation, the general drift only of which pierced Edward's understanding. He says he has redecorated the privy for us at the special request of Mr Schulz Curtis. But if we pay him for his lodging!

No mere payment will recompense him. Remember he asked you if you liked the wallpaper. He may have spent hours choosing it.

But, blind to all the allurements of the checkered paper, Edward insisted on telling the landlord that he wished to live near a restaurant where he could get his breakfast. The German again caught him by the lappet of his coat, and there was a pretty German girl who knew a little English, the old man's daughter, smiling in the doorway, about whom I had already begun to think. But it was impossible to dissuade Edward, and we drove with our luggage here and there and everywhere, seeking a couple of rooms. It would be inopportune to describe every filthy suite of apartments that we visited; but it is not well, in a book of this kind, to omit any vivid memory, and among my memories none is more vivid than that of an iron railing dividing a sort of shallow area from the street in which some workmen were drinking beer, and of the kitchen beyond it. Uncouth women, round in the back as washtubs, walked about with frying-pans in their hands, great udders floating under blue blouses; and we followed a trail of inferior German cookery up a black slimy staircase to the first landing, where a bald-headed waiter, with large drops of sweat upon his brow, opened a door, (p. 167) exhibiting for our inspection two low-ceilinged rooms with high beds in the corners.

Ask him if we can have clean sheets. We have no others, the waiter answered.

As I moved towards the doorway, I heard Edward saying that the rooms would do us very well, and when I explained to him their disadvantages, he answered that he would be able to get his breakfast. To get his breakfast! The phrase seemed so Irish, so Catholic, that for a moment it was impossible to suppress my anger at Edward's unseemly indifference to my sense of cleanliness and comfort, and the women in the kitchen, the waiter, and the sheets horrified me, even to the extent of compelling me to tell him that I would sooner go back to England, giving up The Ring, Parsifal

I would sooner sleep anywhere, Edward; in the streets! Let us get away. Perhaps we shall find—

No, you'll object to all.

But why, Edward, should you stay here? You can have breakfast at our lodging.

I shan't be able to get an omelette. Can't you understand that people have habits?

Habits! I said.

And then he admitted—it seemed to me somewhat unwillingly, no doubt because he was talking to a heretic—that the villa under the lindens was two miles from the chapel, and that he liked to go to Mass in the morning.

I see; it is the magician and his house that tempts you.

If you talk like that you'll make me regret I came abroad with you.

But, unable to restrain myself, I added:

The desire to have a magician always at one's elbow is extraordinary.

I know the value of such talk as that, he growled, as we drove back to the villa, and he seemed so much put about that he gained my sympathy, almost to the extent of persuading me that I, and not he, was the inconsiderate one; and I began to defend myself.

It would have been impossible to eat anything that came out of that kitchen. The magician must have a very strong hold upon you to—

Edward is so good-humoured that one cannot resist the temptation to tease and to twit him, though one knows that one will regret doing so afterwards; and, sorry already, seeing how seriously he felt this unexpected dislocation in his habits, I began to think how I might be kind, and, rightly or wrongly, mentioned his play, asking him when he would like to consider it with me. Without answering my question, he went into his room and began to rummage in his trunk, coming back, however, with the manuscript, which he handed to me.

(p. 168) Now, Edward, there is the second act—

You don't want to alter that, do you? I thought it the best act—

He did not seem to appreciate my criticism or to pick up my suggestions. He was not very forthcoming, and we went to bed early that evening. He'll be in a more literary humour tomorrow morning, I said, before going to sleep, and looked forward to a long séance de collaboration after breakfast. But Edward would accept no breakfast in the house, only a cup of tea and a thin slice of bread and butter. He refused to ask the landlord's daughter, who attended upon us, if she could make an omelette, for some reason which it is impossible for me even to guess at. It would not be like him to go without breakfast, so that he might make me feel I had seriously inconvenienced him, and it seemed difficult to understand why he should refuse to breakfast in the house. The people were willing to cook him anything he wanted. Was he such a slave to habits that he had to breakfast in a restaurant? No, for when he was at home he had to breakfast in his own house. He would say that was different. So I was forced to fall back on the theory that he was annoyed because he would have to walk two miles to chapel to hear Mass. But when he was in Galway he did not go to Mass every morning. So why did he wish to go to Mass every day in Bayreuth? Why would he refuse to discuss the question any further, saying that it didn't matter, that it was all right, and, after sipping his tea, steal away for the greater part of the day, leaving me alone with The Tale of a Town? A séance de collaboration would have passed the morning nicely for me, and I muttered: He has taken his soul out, or his soul has taken him out. Would that his soul would betake itself to literature! He has gone away without saying a word about The Tale of a Town.

It did not strike me until late in the afternoon that he had gone away to avoid criticism of his play; but on reflection it hardly seemed necessary that I should accept literary sensitiveness as a reason for absence. Yeats had told him, and I had told him, and Lady Gregory had told him, that the play could not be acted by the Irish Literary Theatre in its present form. It would have to be altered, and at Aix-la-Chapelle, at Boppart, and at Mainz, and in the long train journey from Mainz to Nuremberg, he had seemed willing to accept some of my criticism as just. Et alors? Had he begun to examine my criticism, picking it to pieces, arriving gradually at the conclusion that it was all wrong, and that his play was all right? Or was it that he had persuaded himself that it were better to retain his own mistakes than to accept my suggestions, even if they were improvements? A view of art for which a great deal may be said when the artist has arrived at maturity of thought and expression, but a very dangerous one when the artist is but a beginner.

(p. 169) And Edward is a beginner, and he isn't progressing, I said, and may remain a beginner. For he came into the world a sketch, une ébauche by a great master, and was left unfinished, whether by design or accident it is impossible to say. A delightful study he is! And in the embowered villa I sat, looking into his mind, interested in its unmapped spaces (Australia used to interest me in much the same manner when I was a child) until the young girl came upstairs to tell me it was time to go to the theatre. One knows a single word—Spielhaus. My eyes went to the clock, the hands pointed to four, and from four to five is the hottest hour of a summer's day. By four the sun, blazing forth from a cloudless sky, has sucked all the cool of the night away, and heated unendurably every brick and tile and stone it can strike with a ray. Even in the shady villa under the lindens one could not think of the tall gables in the town, the fierce sun beating on them, or of the cobble-stones in the streets, without congratulating oneself that Edward's inclinations had been resisted. Those low-ceilinged rooms above the kitchen would stifle on such a day, and I was able to look back on my courage with admiration. It had given me a splendid view of a corn-field with reapers working in it, the sun shining on their backs—that one straightening himself to wipe the sweat from his brow with a ragged sleeve.

And while walking through the corn-field I remembered a letter to Bülow in which the Master says: One thing is certain—I am not a musician, meaning thereby that music was only part of his message. He tells in these words that his art enjoined separation from the drone of daily life, and that is why he chose Bayreuth, a small Bavarian town difficult to get at, but not impossible to reach. It had a train service even in Wagner's time, and there was a sufficient number of dirty inns and lodgings in the town to house the pilgrims. Humanity was an open book to the Master, and the hardships he was inflicting on his pilgrims he knew to be for their good, for it would induce in them the disposition of mind suitable for the reception of the sacramental Ring. And while building his theatre on the brow of the hill in the shade of the pines, there can be no doubt that he foresaw the added charm it would be to the pilgrim to leave the town and plod through the glare up the long street past the railway-station into the avenue of chestnut trees. He foresaw them, pausing in their ascent, leaning upon their staves; and the restaurant which he allowed to be built next his theatre is a tribute to his perfect understanding of men, for however beautiful his music might be he knew that none could listen to it for five hours upon an empty belly. He liked, I am sure, the little green-painted restaurant higher up the hill in the orchard close, and must have gone there himself and sat under the trees, drinking Rhenish wine mixed with cool water from stone jars. The Master, who thought of everything, must (p. 170) have foreseen the great charm it would be to walk through the pine-wood, seeing beyond the red bark of the trees the purple ranges of hills that enclose the great plain, slope after slope rising at evening, and no one too far distant for the eye to follow the noble shapes and all the delicate sinuosities travelling down the skyline. Every shape and every outline is visible between the acts of The Valkyrie, Siegfried, and the Götterdämmerung. The village standing in the middle of the plain is often lighted by a last ray. Between the acts an extraordinary harmony gathers; art and Nature abandon their accustomed strife, and with ears filled with calm, exalted melodies, our eyes follow the beautiful landscape in which Bayreuth stands.

There are off-days at Bayreuth when there are no performances, and these are pleasant days of rest, that give us time to think of what we have heard, and what we are going to hear, and time to stroll about the town admiring its German life. The town is more interesting than Rothenburg—to me at least—for it is less archaic. One cannot imagine oneself living in the fifteenth century, whereas one can imagine oneself living at the end of the eighteenth or the beginning of the nineteenth. Bayreuth is very yesteryear, suranné as the French say. A foreign word is a veiled face. The veil is often slight, but there is a veil always, wherefore we like foreign words—a weakness. The great gables which show themselves against the blue skies at Bayreuth mean more to me than the red-tiled roofs with the dormer windows in Rothenburg, for I can imagine myself born in Bayreuth, or growing up in it, and living there, seeing the Margrave and his court. It would be pleasant to live under the protection of a Margrave. One asks the name of the last, and wonders what he was like in his Schloss, a melancholy building full of tall official portraits and heavy German furniture, surrounded by gardens full of trees in which there is artificial water and swans. The year I am writing of the swans were followed by a brood of cygnets, and we used to watch these, not Edward and I, but myself and the daughter of a great painter, one who has inherited some of the intensity of her father's early pictures—a woman loving music dearly, and travelling with her husband in search of it.

It was pleasant to leave The Tale of a Town and visit her, and to walk about under the sunlit trees, or through the town, or to visit with her the old Court Theatre, perhaps picking up Edward on the way there and taking him along with us.

He will always go to see a building, and though we had both visited the Court Theatre many times before, it was pleasant to see it again, and she and he and I together admired its pillared front and its quaint interior, German rococo, clumsy, quaint, heavy, but representative of the German mind. And together we admired the gilded cupids, the garlands (p. 171) of flowers and the little boxes on either side of the stage, in which the Margrave's trumpeters used to appear to announce his arrival—a theatre not intended for the populace, but for the Court, containing only fifty or sixty stalls, beautifully designed and comfortable withal. The gilded balconies reminded us of drawing-rooms; we spoke of the courtly air of the theatre, now forbidden to the mime for many a day. A beautiful little theatre, we said—a theatre designed for the performance of Mozart or Gluck's operas, and I think Edward would have given up some performances of Parsifal to hear Gluck or Mozart in this out-of-date theatre.

In the afternoon my friends suggested to us that we should accompany them to a village some six or seven miles distant, and we went there in a carriage drawn by two long-tailed Bavarian horses, that drew us slowly but surely out of Bayreuth along smooth white roads, every one lined with apple trees and loaded with fruit. It was a wonder to us how these trees were not despoiled by thieves, so easy would it be to carry away the fruit by night. In England, in Ireland, or in Scotland a great deal of fruit would certainly have been robbed, and we asked ourselves if the Bavarian peasants are more naturally honest than the English, or if it were mere custom that prevented the waggonner from gathering as many apples as he pleased. The lady's husband, who is a politician, suggested that these wayside trees belonged to the community, and he is no doubt right; and we accepted his explanation that the honesty of the Bavarian is to be found in the fact that everybody shared in the fruit and, this being so, it was nobody's interest to strip the trees.

Behold the trees, and the long undivided plain stretching away to the foot of the hills, without wall or hedge, and we asking ourselves how do the peasants distinguish between the different farms, somebody telling how one of his farmers had called another to admire a fence he had put up between their lands. I'd like the fence, aye, twice as well, if thee 'ad not taken in some six or seven inches of my land. In our appreciation of the German landscape there is to be reckoned our disappointment at seeing nowhere beautiful English trees—ash, elm, beech, and oak—only the pine, and we, being tree-lovers, think the pine a tedious tree, if it can be called a tree; it isn't in our apprehension of one, only being intended by Nature for what the French call bois charpentier. No man would care to sit under a pine (and a woman still less), needles underfoot and needles overhead. To us English folk the beauty of a wood is as much in the underwoods as in the tall trees, and the pine allows no underwood. In a pine wood one meets few birds. A goshawk, startled from the branches, flees quickly down the long aisles. The pine is cultivated in Germany; the unfortunate pine, ugly by nature, is made (p. 172) still more ugly by cultivation. Pines cover the lower hills, forming black stains in the landscape and disfiguring their purple.

The long-tailed Bavarian horses walked up some steep ascent, trotted down a hill, at the bottom of which a pretty brook purls through an orchard, and the village was reached at last, built under the foot of a steep black hill, on which stand the ruins of a castle. There are paths through the woods, and one becomes conscious of the ceaseless change in human life as one follows the paths to the gateway of the robber-baron who lived there three centuries ago, defying Gustavus Adolphus, the Lion of the North, until his castle was battered with cannon. It was fortunate for Adolphus that he had cannon to batter it with, for without cannon he would not have captured it.

We came upon a ravine, and on each hillside a wooden platform had been built; the orchestra playing in the pit between, no doubt, as in the theatre at Bayreuth. We strolled up and down the steep paths, wondering if players were heard from hillside to hillside, inclining to the belief that human voices would not carry so far, and to put the natural acoustics of the wood to the test, some went to the other hillside and spoke to us. But what play had been acted in this wood? Somebody suggested a miracle play, and leaping at the suggestion, I spoke of the miracle plays in Oberammergau.

Some pious people of your sect, Edward, I said, taking his arm, who would set Asiatic Gods against native divinities.

My aphorism was not at first understood, and I explained it—how Bavaria comprises two spectacles: the Asiatic Gods in the South on the Tyrolean frontier, while the original Rhine Gods display themselves in the North at Bayreuth—Wotan, Loki, Donner, Froh, and the Goddesses Frika, Erda, and Freia. My remark had some success, and we walked on, wondering how it was that this division of the deities had not been remarked before. All were interested except Edward, who said he did not care to listen to blasphemy.

But, my dear Edward, it cannot be blasphemy to tell the truth, and surely the Gods that Oberammergau exhibits are Asiatic. And there can be no doubt that the Gods that Bayreuth exhibits are German and Scandinavian; and I pressed Edward to explain to me how a mere statement of fact, the truth of which could not be contested, could be called blasphemous, falsehood being implicit in every blasphemy. To escape from this quandary Edward began to argue that the Rhenish Gods had come from Asia, too, by way of Scandinavia, finding solace, apparently, in the belief in the Asiatic origin of all Gods. We laughed at this novel defence of divinity.

It is like China tea, I answered, only grown in Asia. Somebody else spoke of Havana cigars, and very soon all the life died out of the argument. (p. 173) We were but vaguely interested in it, for none amongst us, perhaps not even the youngest, was entirely free from the thought inspired by the empty platforms. We were all thinking how every generation is but a pageant, that all is but pageant here below. Part of our excursion was already behind us, and in later years how little of it would be remembered! Such philosophies are soon exhausted, and we sympathised with a lady who was anxious about her daughter and husband. They were walking in the woods, and she feared they might be overtaken by the coming darkness. But we assured her there would be light for many hours still, and whistled the motives of The Ring....

We returned through the hilly country, with the wide, sloping evening above us, and apple-trees lining the roads, all the apples now reddened and ready for gathering. We admired the purple crests illuminated by the sunset, as millions of men and women had done before us, and as millions of men and women shall do after us. Voices dropped and faces grew pensive. We asked if we should ever meet at Bayreuth again, and our thoughts turned towards the great Master lying in his grave, whose dreams had given us such sweet realities.

Too soon over, somebody said. In a few days Bayreuth would be deserted like the platforms we found in the wood. The long distance we had come was mentioned, and somebody asked if the pleasure we had received were worth the journey. The answer made to this—and it was a woman who made it—was that the journey would be more real in six months' time than it was today, and picking up the thought, I answered quickly:

So you think that we must live not so much for the moment as for the sake of the memory of it?

Somebody answered that memory was, perhaps, half of life and this was denied.

He who cannot enjoy things as they go by is but a poor companion.

A poor lover, I interjected. And soon after found myself arguing that the great gift Nature has bestowed upon woman is the power of enjoying things as they go by—a great gift truly it is, and sufficient compensation for lack of interest in religion and morals. It may be that that is why women have not written a great book, or painted a great picture. Or invented a religion, some one added.

Women are not idealists, Edward said, speaking out of his remembrance of his play The Heather Field.

In the evening we were all going to the house that Wagner had lived in, and in which he had written the last act of Siegfried, the Götterdämmerung, and Parsifal. Every one who goes to Bayreuth is asked there if he leaves a card upon Madame Wagner. Such, at least, used to be the custom. One presented an invitation card at the door and (p. 174) walked about the music-room and into Wagner's library. Edward was much moved to see the Master's books and his writing-table. Things interest him more than human beings, whereas Wagner's books and writing-table merely depressed me, and refusing to follow Edward to the grave, I sought for a friend who might introduce me to Madame Wagner.

A tall, thin woman, nearer sixty than seventy, very vital, with a high nose like her father's, came forward to meet me, full of cordiality, full of conversation and pleasant greeting. Liszt lives again in her, I said, the same inveigling manner; she casts her spells like her father, and—Well, there is no way of telling my impression except to tell the thought that passed through my mind: it was, But how is all this to end? Am I going to run away with her? And when we arrive somewhere, what am I to do with her? A woman nearly seventy years! And I thought what an extraordinary fascination she must have been when she heard Tristan for the first time, and felt she could no longer live with Bülow.

It is always pleasant, she said, to welcome to Bayreuth strangers who come to hear our art.

The arrogance of the expression amused me; but after all, music is the art of Germany just as poetry is the art of England; and feeling in the next five minutes that I must either take her hand or interrupt the conversation, I chose the latter course, and asked her to introduce me to her son. She hastened to comply with my wish, and put herself to some trouble to find him. He was found at last, and I was introduced to him.

My impression of Madame Wagner is compressed in the Am I going to run away with her? And the same words, with a change of preposition and pronoun, will describe the impression that Siegfried Wagner produced upon me. The son is the father in everything except his genius—the same large head, the same brow, the same chin and jaw. A sort of deserted shrine! I cried to myself and gasped for words.

Van Roy was singing at the time, and I succeeded at last in asking Siegfried Wagner who had composed the song.

I do not know, but it should be by Grandpapa Liszt.

I bowed, thanked him, and moved away, glad to escape from his repelling blankness. Shyness it may have been, or perhaps boredom. If we had met at Venice or in London—anywhere except in that crowd, we might have become friends. So I was glad to meet him on the bench in front of the theatre, and to find him slightly more forthcoming than he had shown himself to me in his mother's house. We spoke about his opera, and about Ellis, who had translated his libretto, and for a moment it looked as if we were going to know each other, to become acquainted, for in answer to my question whether he thought it was of (p. 175) advantage that the musician should write his own libretto, he answered that he thought it was, for while writing the libretto the musician sang his first ideas of the music.

Meeting me again on the same seat at the same hour, he asked me why I was not in the theatre, and it only occurred to me to tell the mere truth, that I came to Bayreuth to hear The Ring and not Parsifal. Perhaps if you knew the score of Parsifal.

I can never know a score, for I'm not a musician, but I've heard it many times, and it makes no personal appeal as do the other works.

The explanation was received in silence, and I thought how I might have better explained my position if I had said that, though I recognised Milton to be a great poet, he wrote in vain so far as I was concerned. But Siegfried's manner checks the words upon one's lips, and the people began to come out of the theatre soon after.

We parted, and all the way to the café where Edward and I went to have supper I turned Siegfried over in my mind and understood him to be a man of talent, for he is the son of a man of genius. One must be a man of talent to conduct The Ring as I had heard him conduct it, bearing the last scene of The Valkyrie along with him like a banner. A man of talent, the son of a man of genius, without sufficient vitality to be very much interested in anything; his life a sort of diffused sadness like a blank summer day when the clouds are low; and he must be conscious, too, that there is no place on earth where he can lay his head and call it his own.

If the physical resemblance were not so marked, I said to myself as we entered the café.

That little café! What enchanting hours Edward and I have spent in it between half past ten and in the morning, amid beer and cigars and endless discussions as to the values of certain scenes and acts, of singers and conductors! The year that I am now referring to, Parsifal was conducted in turn by Fischer, Mottl, and Seidl, Wagner's favourite pupil and disciple. He sat in the far end of the café by himself, and I often wondered why his society was not more sought after. Although he was an old man, and in declining health, it was a pleasure for me to sit with him and engage him in conversation, telling him that under his direction the first act of Parsifal played ten minutes quicker than it did under Mottl, and that Mottl was five minutes quicker than Fischer.

So much as that?

Yes, I took the time. And how much better I like your conducting of The Flower Maidens! Mottl gets a crescendo in the middle.

Whereas there is no necessity. It goes as well without, doesn't it?

A thin, spare man, quiet, speaking but little—a kindly man, as the (p. 176) reader has already guessed from the few phrases exchanged between him and me, and an unassuming man, apparently taking a pleasure even in such appreciations as Edward's and mine; a man between sixty and seventy, at the time I am speaking of, and as I write this line I can see his small, refined features and his iron-grey hair, which once must have been black. My thoughts pause, and I like to indulge myself in the regret that I did not walk home with him in the evenings to his lodgings. He might have asked me to come to see him in the morning, and over the piano, perhaps, would have told me many things regarding his relations with Wagner and his understanding of the music, and things about himself, for Seidl lived among great men, and was easily inveigled in the confessional.

He died a year or two later, and the café is no longer as attractive as it was when all the actors came down from the theatre to eat their supper there. Klafsky was my first Brünnhilde; when she died Gulbranson took her place, and the moment she came into the cafe all eyes went towards her, and I may say all hearts, for very soon a beautiful smile would light up a round, rosy, very ordinary face, suffusing it, transforming a plain woman into one to whom one's heart goes instinctively, convinced that all that is necessary to be happy is to be with her.


We take tickets for a cycle, a Ring, and as many Parsifals as we have appetite for, and when the last performance is over the railway-station is crowded; no longer with the Bohemianism of London and Paris, but with the snobbery (I use the word in its French sense) of both capitals. The trolleys are piled with aristocratic luggage, and the porters are followed by anxious valets; ladies in long, fashionable dust-cloaks are beset by maids with jewel-cases in their hands. Among this titled crowd one can still pick out the student (the professional musician still goes to Bayreuth) and those who really love music, and who go to Bayreuth for the art of the Master—like our friends, the politician and his wife and daughter.

Between the acts of the Götterdämmerung we had heard arrangements being made to be present at other music festivals. It seemed that a considerable part of the audience was going to Munich to hear Mozart. For the last day or two everybody seemed to be muttering Cosi fan Tutti, an opera never given in England. On a former occasion Edward and I had gone to Munich, but we had not heard it; and I would have preferred to follow Mozart, but we were going in a different (p. 177) direction, in quest of other music—northward, a long and tedious journey. For Edward had decided that the revival of drama which the success of The Heather Field had started in Ireland must be accompanied by a revival of all the arts—painting, sculpture, and music. For landscape and portrait-painting he thought he could rely on Dermod O'Brien, who had decided to come to Ireland. A number of chapels had been spoilt by German stained glass, but Miss Purser had promised to engage a man whose father had been intimately connected with the Pre-Raphaelite movement in England, and under her direction ecclesiastical art would flourish again in Ireland. John Hughes would revive Donatello and Edward Palestrina. He told me that Archbishop Walsh had been approached, and that he thought he would be able to persuade him to accept a donation of ten thousand pounds to establish a choir in the cathedral upon the strict understanding, of course, that the choir was only to sing Vittoria, Palestrina, Orlando di Lasso, Francesca de Près, and the other writers, bearing equally picturesque names, who had, if I may borrow a phrase from Evelyn Innes, gravitated round the great Roman composer.

It seemed to me that the analogy he drew between the Italian Renaissance and the Irish was a false one. The Italians had imported nothing, but had re-created all the arts simultaneously. This view was, however, not acceptable, and in the return journey between Nuremberg and Mainz, Edward pointed out that the Italian Renaissance was not as original as it seemed at first sight. It was indebted largely to antiquity, and its flavour was due to the spirit of the Middle Ages which still lingered in the sixteenth century, and in support of this theory he affirmed that Palestrina had used plain-chant melodies in all his Masses.

Turning them into pattern music, I interjected. If you want religion in music, let your choir sing only plain chant.

Edward feared that the congregation would deem that monotonous, and I said, If concessions are going to be made—, and the conversation dropped, for we were going to a festival of pattern music far away in the North of Germany, to a town called Münster, whither, I venture to say, very few have ever wandered, though it is well known by name, on account of Meyerbeer's opera Le Prophète. We all know the prayer that the prophet sings at the end of the third act before he enters the town, and the great beauty of the fourth act—the cathedral scene in which John of Leyden refuses to recognise his mother. A great act! It was not the fashion of those times to write fifth acts, and Meyerbeer finished his opera with a couple of songs of no great merit, and the blowing up of the town by John of Leyden, who perishes amid the ruins.

But in history he perished quite differently. After a few weeks of revelry Münster was taken by assault, and John of Leyden and his (p. 178) companions were put into iron cages, in which they could neither stand, nor sit, nor lie, and in them they remained on exhibition, hung up some thirty feet above the pavement on the principal street, for three days, before they were torn to pieces with red-hot hooks, by order of the good Bishop. These cages still hang in the principal street, regarded, no doubt, as objects of great historical interest. That they are, no one will contest, yet one cannot help feeling that they would be better out of sight in a museum, for they certainly inspire hatred of the Roman Church in the heart of every passer-by, and it is hardly going too far to say that to these cages, and to the memories which they evoke, is owing the preservation of all the original aspects of the town, so grey and austere, without a sign anywhere of life, of modern thought or aspiration, without a picture-gallery, without a painter, without a writer, a fitting town, indeed, for a festival of archaic music.

Edward had written to his conductor, the man to whom the revival of Palestrina was to be entrusted, to come over and when we were not in the cathedral—which was not often—we used to spend the time wandering about the grey, calico-coloured streets, Edward admiring the fifteenth-century roofs, of which there are a great many, and the arcades; the conductor and myself thinking how the minutes were bringing us nearer another concert. He was a man of quiet and neutral intelligence, and it would have been pleasant to go away for a walk in the country with him. He would have liked to escape from the patter of this archaic music which he already foresaw it was his fate to teach and conduct till the end of his days. But to slip away between a Gloria and a Credo (my suggestion to him) would have offended his burly task-master and perhaps have lost him his job. He dared not even show for one instant that the music bored him, and I hardly dared either, and resisted Edward with difficulty at the door of the cathedral. The choice lay between a motet by Josquin des Près and The Tale of a Town. The third act needed revision, and I not infrequently took the manuscript away with me and forgot it in the pleasant shade of the avenue that encircles the town; and sometimes I took the manuscript with me to the Zoological Gardens, beguiled there by the finest lion ever known, that is to say, the finest ever seen or imagined by me—an extraordinary, silent and monumental beast that used to lie, his paw tucked in front of him, a gazing-stock for me and a group of children. We moved on subdued by his wonderful presence, majestic, magnificent, forlorn, ashamed before his great, brown, melancholy eyes, full of dreams of the desert of long ago, perhaps of the very day when an Arab held him, a whelp, well above the high, red-pommelled saddle, and the dam was speared and shot by other Arabs in the mêlée that happened amid some loose rocks and brushwood.

(p. 179) The blue sky of Münster, and the dust of Münster, and the silence and the loneliness of Munster, often made me think I should like to enter his cage. It was such a splendid one!—built out into the garden, a little park with two tree-trunks and some rocks, a dome-shaped cage in which the great beast could trot or climb, if he were so disposed, but I never saw him except sunning himself in front of his bars. He seemed as lonely as myself, and I often imagined us twain, side by side, The Tale of a Town in my left hand, while with the right I combed his great, brown mane for him. Which would he resent—the reading or the combing? Speculation on this point amused me, and urged me towards the risk, and perhaps might have induced me to undertake it, if I had not met a fox in the circular avenue. The red, bushy animal came there on a chain, and when his master sat on the other end of the bench on which I was sitting, the fox often hopped up between us, treating me with the politeness due to a visitor, a politeness which was requited next by a cutlet. On cutlets our friendship throve until the end of the week, and had I known German it might have become permanent. The fox seemed quite willing, for though well behaved with his master, his affection for me was so spontaneous that I think it would have lasted. The peasant, too, might have been persuaded to sell his fox, and if he refused a sovereign it would be because he did not know its value, or because he would not include the chain. As this point could not be settled without some knowledge of German, I strove to explain to him by signs that he was to remain where he was, until I brought back somebody who could sprechen Deutsch. There was no hope of a passer-by who could speak English—there were no passers-by; the whole population of Munster was in the cathedral. It had been going there all the morning, headed by Edward and his conductor, to hear several Masses by Palestrina, and they had started off again in the afternoon to listen to Orlando di Lasso. Edward had pressed me to accompany them, saying that the opportunity might not occur again to hear a work by that great Fleming; but one concert a day of contrapuntal music was enough for me, and I had pleaded my duty regarding a possible reconstruction of the third act, which I was anxious to submit to him in the evening.

He is in the cathedral, listening, I said, and tired by now of Orlando di Lasso; he will be glad of an excuse to get away.

Orlando was being sung when I arrived, and I listened, forgetful of the fox, and very soon it began to seem to me strange that so beautiful a name should be allied to such ugly music. So I fell to thinking how a theory often goes down before a simple fact. It had been mine this long while that a man's work proceeds from his name; and still forgetful of the fox, I pondered the question whether Orlando di Lasso was, or was (p. 180) not, a beautiful name, deciding at last that it was an affected name, and therefore not beautiful; whereas Palestrina is naturally beautiful, like his music. Palestrina! There is a sound of strings in the name, and he could not have failed to write beautifully for the strings if he had written for instruments. Palestrina! Strings! Strings! I murmured, seeking Edward, and finding him without much difficulty, so striking is his appearance when he sits listening, his hand to his ear, an old melomaniac, drinking in the music. As soon as my errand was whispered he shook his head, saying that he could not leave just now, for the choir were going to sing another motet by Orlando di Lasso, and when that motet was finished there was one by Nannini, which he would not like to miss.

The peasant will never wait so long, I said many a time as I lingered about the church; and when all the motets were finished, and we returned to the avenue, the peasant and his fox were far away, and there was no means of discovering them. The lion? Well, he is dead now—dead and buried; and that is all I remember of a town which I praise God I shall never see again!

As a recompense for having accompanied him to hear the contrapuntalists, Edward was coming with me to see Rubens. We should not arrive in Antwerp until late that night. Edward lay sleeping opposite; it seemed strange that any one should be able to sleep while on his way to Rubens; and I thought of the picture we were going to see. It seemed extraordinary, inconceivable, impossible that tomorrow I should walk down a street into a cathedral, and find myself face to face with The Descent from the Cross. Edward sleeps, but art keeps me awake.

My thoughts turned to Florence and Stella, whom I had arranged to meet in the cathedral; and to pass the time I very soon began to ask myself which I would retain, if the choice were forced upon me—the immense joy of the picture, or the pleasure of meeting two amiable and charming women? In the ordinary course of my days there could be no hesitation, but Edward had been my sole companion for the last six weeks, and in our journeys abroad he imposed acceptance of this rule upon me—that no acquaintances should be made among the flocks of English and American women that congregate in the Continental hotels. I had always abided by this rule of the road, leaving him when the strain became too great—at Dresden some years before, and some years later again at Munich. Those separations had been effected without difficulty. Edward never complains; only once did he mention that I had broken up our tours, as he would put it, for the pleasure of some abandoned woman; and so in this tour it had been a point of honour with me to allow it, at all costs to my feelings, to run its natural course. As it was to end at Antwerp I was well within my rights in arranging to (p. 181) meet Florence and Stella in the cathedral. I say well within, for my friends did not belong to the class of women to which Edward took special objection—women whose sole morality seemed to him to be to yield to every impulse of the heart. My friends were painters, and of considerable talent, and in Edward's eyes art redeems sex of much of its unpleasantness. He knew nothing of the meeting, and it did not seem to me worth while to mention it as we walked down the street. It would be stupid to interrupt our emotion by introducing any contentious question. We were going to see Rubens, in what is perhaps his lordliest achievement; and when the cathedral came in sight, I laid my hand suddenly on Edward's shoulder, stopping him to say:

Edward, isn't it wonderful that we should this moment be walking down a street to see Rubens? Let us never forget it. Let us try to fix it in our memories now before we enter.

Rubens for the moment blotted out all remembrance of Florence and Stella, but as we wandered round the cathedral, memory of them returned to me, and my heart misgave me, for I was beginning to think of Stella perhaps more than was altogether fair to Florence. To confide such scruples as these to Edward would at once prejudice him against both women, and I wanted him to like them. So, with the intention to deceive, I continued to aestheticise, speaking of the beauty of the drooping body as it slips down the white sheet into the arms of devoted women. The art of Greece, we said, re-arisen in Florence, and carried to Antwerp on the calm, overflowing genius of a Fleming. We contrasted this picture, so restrained and concentrated, with the somewhat gross violence of The Ascent of the Cross, painted immediately on his return from Italy, his first abandonment to his native genius, before he had discovered himself. The Crowning of the Virgin is said to have been repainted in some places. Edward was anxious to know if it were so, but art-criticism is difficult when one is expecting two ladies. Though one knows they will not wilfully disappoint, there is always a danger that something may happen to prevent them from coming. The picture is one of the most enchanting that Rubens ever painted. He seems to have forgotten the theological aspects of the subject, and to have remembered only that much of it which is nearest to his heart—a beautiful woman surrounded by beautiful children—and to have painted with no other intention than to make beautiful fair faces, clouds and pale draperies, seem more beautiful. The ease and grace of his incomparable handicraft held my attention while looking round for Stella, tall and shapely, and Florence, whom Nature has not made less well, but on a smaller scale. At last two backs were perceived in a distant chapel. The moment had therefore come to tell Edward that I had just caught sight of two ladies, acquaintances, artists both of them.

(p. 182) I must go and speak to them. Shall I bring them back and introduce them? They are artists.

Somewhat to my surprise, Edward did not raise any objection to meeting them; on the contrary, he said that it would be interesting to hear them talk about the pictures. He showed himself very affable to both, speaking to Florence about the supposed repainting of The Crowning of the Virgin, and to Stella about the quality of the black behind the Magdalen's head in The Descent from the Cross. At the door of the cathedral I mentioned that I was lunching with the ladies, and he consented to join us, and when the ladies left us, he made complimentary observations regarding their demeanour and intelligences, asking several questions about their work, and not one about their private lives.

After lunch we went to the exhibition of Van Dyck's works which was being held at Antwerp that year, and after viewing his monotonous portraits one after the other, the residual impression left on the mind was of a painting lackey, an impersonal mind transcribing an impersonal world. Something less vulgar, more individual, I declared, we should find at Ghent, a small town in Flanders, renowned because of its possession of one of the world's masterpieces, Van Eyck's Adoration of the Lamb. And we went thither accompanied by Edward, who had not seen the picture. It astonishes the painter as nothing else in the world can, except, perhaps, the miracle that decrees that to flowers their shapes and hues. We visited other towns and saw some fine Memlings; but better than those do I remember the afternoon that I walked with Stella up a long grey platform (Edward, walked with Florence), telling her that I should deem my life worthless if she did not allow me to accompany her to Holland. As I have said, my tour with Edward had been arranged to end at Antwerp, so the change from Edward's society to that of these ladies would prove beneficial to me, as much for intellectual as for sensuous reasons. I am penetrated through and through by an intelligent, passionate, dreamy interest in sex, going much deeper than the mere rutting instinct; and turn to women as a plant does to the light, as unconsciously, breathing them through every pore, and my writings are but the exhalation that follows the inspiration. I am, in contrast to Edward, an essentially social being, taking pleasure in, and deriving profit from, my fellows. But he is independent of society, and we both suffer from the defects of our qualities. The moments of loneliness that fall upon me at the close of a long day's work are unknown to him. He has never experienced that spiritual terror which drives me out after dinner in search of somebody to talk to. A book and a cigar (I have never been able to smoke a pipe) are not enough for me, and the hours between nine and midnight are always redoubtable hours. How (p. 183) they are to be whiled away is my problem. I admire and envy Edward's taste for reading. That bulky man can return to his rooms, even in the height of summer, light half a dozen candles (he does not like a lamp) and sit down behind a lofty screen (draughts give him colds) with a long clay between his teeth and a book on aesthetics in his hand, and read till midnight. And that, night after night, his life going by all the while. It is true that he pays for his contentment. His mind began to harden before he was forty, and I had to warn him of the precipice towards which he was going: One cannot change oneself, he answered. He is glad to see me if I call, but he feels no special need of my society. One day I said: Edward, which would you prefer to spend the evening with—a very clever woman, or a stupid man? After three or four puffs at his pipe he answered: With the stupid man.

But man, no more than woman, is necessary to him. Is not his self-sufficientness (if I may coin a word) admirable? Never have I known it fail him. At Dresden, it is true that he expressed regret that I was leaving him in the middle of our tour; but how shallow that regret was can be gathered from the indifference with which he accepted the news of my decision to accompany the ladies to Holland. We asked him if he would come with us, but he said that important business awaited him in Ireland; and he told me privately that he was not frightened away by the ladies, but he did not care to go to a Protestant country, for he never felt at home in one, and he did not even seem to understand when I asked him if he minded the long journey to Ireland alone.

I shall be with you in Tillyra a month later, and we shall then be able to make the necessary alterations in The Tale of a Town.

At the mention of the alterations in his play his face clouded, but he did not betray that anxiety which would have approved him a true artist. Only an amateur, I said, and went away with the ladies, our intention being to study the art of the Low Countries in Amsterdam, in Haarlem, and the Hague; to stop at every town in which there was a picture-gallery. An account of our aesthetic and sentimental tour would make a charming book; our appreciations of Ruysdael, Hals, Rembrandt and Van der Meer, and Florence's incautious confession that no more perfect mould of body than Stella's existed in the flesh—perhaps in some antique statues of the prime, though even that was not certain.


The scene you want me to write isn't at all in character with the Irish people.

So you've said, Edward. We talked the matter out at Rothenburg, (p. 184) but men's instincts are the same all over the world. If you don't feel the scene, perhaps it would be as well if you allowed me to sketch it out for you. It is all quite clear.... Just as you like.

Edward said he didn't mind, and I went up to my bedroom, and came down about tea-time to look for him, anxious to read the pages I had written. He consented to hear the scene, but it seemed to me that he listened to it resentfully; and when I had finished, it did not surprise me to hear that he didn't like it at all; and then he begged of me, almost hysterically, not to press my alteration upon him, crying aloud, Leave me my play! Then, turning suddenly, he thanked me effusively for the trouble I had taken, and besought me to try to understand that he couldn't act otherwise, assigning as a reason that I was giving the play a different colour from what he intended.

I'm sorry. But what is to be done? You admit the play requires alteration?

Yes, but I can make the alterations myself. And away he went up the slippery staircase of the old castle to his study.

For it is in the old castle that he prefers to live; the modern house, which he built some five-and-twenty years ago, remaining always outside his natural sympathies, especially its drawing-room. But one cannot have a modern house without a drawing-room, or a drawing-room without upholstered furniture, and the comfort of a stuffed armchair does not compensate Edward for its lack of design; and he prefers that his hinder parts should suffer rather than his spirit. Every drawing-room is, in the first glance, a woman's room—the original harem thrown open to visitors—and his instinct is to get away from women, and all things which evoke intimacy with women. He was always the same, even in his hunting days, avoiding a display of horsemanship in front of a big wall, if women were about. It was in these early days, when the stables were filled with hunters, that I first went to Tillyra; and walking on the lawn, I remember trying to persuade him that the eighteenth-century house, which one of his ancestors had built alongside of the old castle, on the decline of brigandage, would be sufficient for his wants.

For you don't intend to become a country gentleman, do you?

That he might escape from Tillyra had clearly never occurred to him, and he was startled by the idea suggested by me that he should follow his instinct. But the sea sucks back the wave, and he murmured that the old house had decayed and a new one was required.

If you spend a few hundred pounds upon the old house it will last your lifetime, my dear friend; and it is in much better taste than any house you will build. You think that modern domestic Gothic will be in keeping with the old fortress!

He must have suspected I was right, for his next argument was that (p. 185) the contract had been signed, and to break it would cost several hundred pounds. Better pay several hundred than several thousand, and your Gothic house will cost you twenty, and never will it please you.

For a moment it seemed as if he were going to reconsider the matter, and then he adduced a last argument in favour of the building: his mother wished it.

But, my dear friend, unless you're going to marry, so large a house will be a burden.

Going to marry!

Well, everybody will look upon you as an engaged man.

A shadow crossed his face, and I said: I've touched the vital spot, and rebellion against all authority being my instinct, I incited him to rebel.

After all, your mother has no right to ask you to spend so much money, and she wouldn't do so unless she thought you were going to marry.

I suppose she wouldn't.

But not on that occasion, nor any other, could I induce him to throw the architect's plans into the fire, and why blame him for his lack of courage? For it is natural to man to yield something of himself in order that there may be peace in his home. (Edward yields completely to authority once he has accepted it.) His mother's clear and resolute mind was perhaps more sympathetic to me than to him, and turning to her, in my officiousness, I said, thinking to frighten her: Will that house be finished for fifteen thousand?

The painting and the papering aren't included in the estimate; but a few thousands more will finish it, and I have promised to finish it for him.

That the spending of so much money should cost her no scruple whatever surprised me, and to explain her to myself I remembered that she belonged to a time when property was secured to its owner by laws. The Land Acts, which were then coming into operation, could not change her point of view. Edward must build a large and substantial house of family importance, and when this house was finished he could not do otherwise than marry. She would ask all the young ladies of her acquaintance to come to see them, and among the many Edward might find one to his liking. This hope often transpired in her talks about Edward, and she continued to cherish it during the building of the house, in spite of her suspicions that Edward's celibacy was something more than the whim of a young man who thinks that a woman might rob him of his ideals. She could not admit to herself any more than you can, reader, or myself, that we come into the world made as it were to order, contrived so that we shall run down certain lines of conduct. We are not determinists, (p. 186) except in casual moments of no importance, and we like to attribute at least our misfortunes to circumstance, never looking beyond the years of childhood, just as if the greater part of man's making was not done before he came into the world. Edward was a bachelor before he left his mother's womb. But how was his mother to know such a thing—or to sympathise with such an idea? All the instruction we get from the beginning of our lives is to the effect that man is free, and our every action seems so voluntary that we cannot understand that our lives are determined for us. Another illusion is that nothing is permanent in us, that all is subject to change. Edward's mother shared this illusion, but for a much shorter time than many another woman would have done, partly because her intelligence allowed her to perceive much, and to understand much that would have escaped an inferior woman, and partly because Edward never tried to hide his real self, wearing always his aversion on his sleeve. So it could not have been later than two years after the building of the house that the first thought crossed her mind, that, though she had ruled Edward in every detail of his daily life since he was a little boy, she might still fail to reach the end which she regarded as the legitimate end of life—a wife for her son, and grandchildren for herself.

He has built a modern house, but before it is quite finished he has decided to live in the old tower, she said to me, and the furniture which had been made for his sitting-room filled her, I could see, with dread. A less intelligent woman would have drawn no conclusions from the fact that a table taken from a design by Albert Dürer, and six oaken stools with terrifying edges, were to be the furniture of the turret chamber, reached by cold, moist, winding stairs, and that his bedroom, too, was to be among the ancient walls. Look at his bed, she said, as narrow as a monk's; and the walls whitewashed like a cell, and nothing upon them but a crucifix. He speaks of his aversion from upholstery, and he can't abide a cushion.

She has begun to understand that there are certain natures which cannot be changed, I said to myself. She understands in her subconscious nature already, soon she will understand with her intellect, that he, who lies in that bed by choice, will never leave it for a bridal chamber.

Life affords no more arresting drama than the fatality of temperament which irrevocably separates two people bound together by the closest natural ties, and the poignancy is heightened when each is sensitive to the duty which each bears the other, when each is anxious to perform his or her part of the contract; and the drama is still further heightened when both become aware that they must go through life together without any hope that they will ever understand each other better. This drama is curious and interesting to the looker-on, who is (p. 187) able to appreciate the qualities of the mother and the son; the son's imaginative temperament always in excess of, and overruling, his reason, and his mother's clear, practical intelligence, always unable to understand that her son must live the life that his nature ordained him to live. Again and again, in the course of our long friendship, he has said: If you had been brought up as severely as I was.... A sudden scruple of conscience, or shyness of soul, stays the end of the phrase on his large loose mouth. But by brooding on his words I understand them to mean that his mother imposed obedience upon him by appealing to his fear of God, and aggravating this fear by a severe training in religious dogma. It is easy to do this; a little child's mind is so sensitive and so unprotected by reason that a stern mother is one of the great perils of birth. If the boy is a natural boy with healthy love of sex in his body, the wife or mistress will redeem him from his mother, but if there be no such love in him he stands in great danger; for from woman's influence the son of man may not escape; and it would seem that whoever avoids the wife falls into the arms of the mistress, and he who avoids the wife and the mistress becomes his mother's bond-slave.

Edward was in his tower, and, wandering about the park, I thought how he had gone back to his original self since his mother death. The schoolboy was a Republican, but the Church is not friendly to free-thought, and the prestige of his mother's authority had prevented him from taking any active part in Nationalist politics during her lifetime. The wild heather, I said, is breaking out again; and I stopped in my walk, so that I might think how wonderful all this was—the craving for independence, of a somewhat timid nature always held back, never being able to cast out of the mouth the bit that had been placed in it. These weak, ambiguous natures lend themselves so much more to literature, and, indeed, to friendship, than the stronger, who follow their own instincts, thinking always with their own brains. They get what they want, the others get nothing; but the weak men are the more interesting: they excite our sentiments, our pity, and without pity man may not live.

Then, a little weary of thinking of Edward, my thoughts turned to Yeats. He had come over to Tillyra from Coole a few days before, and had read us The Shadowy Waters, a poem that he had been working on for more than seven years, using it as a receptacle or storehouse for all the fancies that had crossed his mind during that time, and these were so numerous that the pirate-ship ranging the Shadowy Waters came to us laden to the gunnel with Fomorians, beaked and unbeaked, spirits of Good and Evil of various repute, and, so far as we could understand the poem, these accompanied a metaphysical pirate of ancient Ireland cruising in the unknown waters of the North Sea in search of (p. 188) some ultimate kingdom. We admitted to Yeats, Edward and I, that no audience would be able to discover the story of the play, and we confessed ourselves among the baffled that would sit bewildered and go out raging against the poet. Our criticism did not appear to surprise Yeats; he seemed to realise that he had knotted and entangled his skein till no remedy short of breaking some of the threads would avail, and he eagerly accepted my proposal to go over to Coole to talk out the poem with him, and to redeem it, if possible from the Fomorians. He would regret their picturesque appearance; but could I get rid of them, without losing the poetical passages? He would not like the words poetical passages—I should have written beautiful verses.

Looking up at the ivied embrasure of the tower where Edward was undergoing the degradation of fancying himself a lover so that he might write the big scene between Jasper and Millicent at the end of the third act, I said: He will not come out of that tower until dinner-time, so I may as well ride over to Coole and try what can be done. But the job Yeats has set me is a difficult one.

Away I went on my bicycle, up and down along the switch-back road, trying to arrive at some definite idea regarding Fomorians, and thinking, as I rode up the long drive, that perhaps Yeats might not be at home, and that to return to Tillyra without meeting the Fomorians would be like riding home from hunting after a blank day.

The servant told me that he had gone for one of his constitutionals, and would be found about the lake. The fabled woods of Coole are thick hazel coverts, with tall trees here and there, but the paths are easy to follow, and turning out of one of these into the open, I came upon a tall black figure standing at the edge of the lake, wearing a cloak which fell in straight folds to his knees, looking like a great umbrella forgotten by some picnic-party.

I've come to relieve you of Fomorians, and when they've been flung into the waters we must find some simple and suggestive anecdote. Now, Yeats, I'm listening.

As he proceeded to unfold his dreams to me I perceived that we were inside a prison-house with all the doors locked and windows barred.

The chimney is stopped, I said, but a brick seems loose in that corner. Perhaps by scraping—

And we scraped a little while; but very soon a poetical passage turned the edge of my chisel like a lump of granite, and Yeats said:

I can't sacrifice that.

Well, let us try the left-hand corner.

And after scraping for some time we met another poetical passage.

Well, let us try one of the tiles under the bed; we might scrape our way into some drain which will lead us out.

(p. 189) But after searching for a loose tile for an hour, and finding none, all proving more firmly cemented than any reader would think for, the task of getting Yeats out of the prison-house which he had so ingeniously built about himself, began to grow wearisome, and my thoughts wandered from the Fomorians to the autumn landscape, full of wonderful silence and colour, and I begged Yeats to admire with me the still lake filled with broad shadow of the hill, and the ghostly moon high up in the pale evening, looking down upon a drift of rose-coloured clouds. A reed growing some yards from the shore threw its slender shadow to our feet, and it seemed to me that we could do nothing better than watch the landscape fixed in the lake as in a mirror.

But Yeat's mind was whirling with Fomorians, and he strove to engage my attention with a new scheme of reconstruction. He had already proposed, and I had rejected so many that this last one was undistinguishable in my brain from those which had preceded it, and his febrile and somewhat hysterical imagination, excited as if by a drug, set him talking, and so volubly, that I could not help thinking of the old gentleman that Yeats had frightened when he was staying last at Tillyra. The old gentleman had come down in the morning, pale and tired, after a sleepless night, complaining that he had been dreaming of Neptune and surging waves.

Last night, said Yeats, looking up gloomily from his breakfast, I felt a great deal of aridness in my nature, and need of moisture, and was making most tremendous invocations with water, and am not surprised that they should have affected the adjoining room.

The old gentleman leaned back in his chair, terror-stricken, and taking Edward aside after breakfast he said to him: A Finnish sorcerer; he has Finnish blood in him; some Finnish ancestor about a thousand years ago. And with the old gentleman's words in my head, I scrutinised my friend's hands and face, thinking them strangely dark for Ireland. But there are Celts with hair of Oriental blackness, and skins dyed with Oriental yellow. All the same, the old gentleman's reading of Yeats's prehistoric ancestry seemed to me like an intuition. His black hair and yellow skin were perhaps accidents, or they might be atavisms. It was not the recurrence of any Finnish strain of a thousand years ago that tempted me to believe in a strain of Oriental blood; it was his subtle, metaphysical mind, so unlike anything I had ever met in a European, but which I had once met in an Oriental years ago in West Kensington, in a back drawing-room, lecturing to groups of women—an Indian of slender body and refined face, a being whose ancestry were weaving metaphysical arguments when painted savages prowled in the forests of Britain and Ireland. He seemed to be speaking out of a long metaphysical ancestry; unpremeditated speech flowed like silk (p. 190) from a spool, leading me through the labyrinth of the subconscious, higher and higher, seemingly towards some daylight finer than had ever appeared in the valleys out of which I was clambering hurriedly, lest I should lose the thread that led me. On and on we went, until at last it seemed to me that I stood among the clouds; clouds filled the valleys beneath me, and about me were wide spaces, and no horizon anywhere, only space, and in the midst of this space light breaking through the clouds above me, waxing every moment to an intenser day; and every moment the Indian's voice seemed to lead me higher, and every moment it seemed that I could follow it no longer. The homely earth that I knew had faded, and I waited expectant among the peaks, until at last, taken with a sudden fear that if I lingered any longer I might never see again a cottage at the end of an embowered lane, I started to my feet and fled.

But the five minutes I had spent in that drawing-room in West Kensington were not forgotten; and now by the side of the lake, hearing Yeats explain the meaning of his metaphysical pirate afloat on Northern waters, it seemed to me that I was listening again to my Indian. Again I found myself raised above the earth into the clouds; once more the light was playing round me, lambent light like rays, crossing and recrossing, waxing and waning, until I cried out, I'm breathing too fine air for my lungs. Let me go back. And, sitting down on a rock, I began to talk of the fish in the lake, asking Yeats if the autumn weather were not beautiful, saying anything that came into my head, for his thoughts were whirling too rapidly and a moment was required for me to recover from a mental dizziness.

In this moment of respite, without warning, I discovered myself thinking of a coachman washing his carriage in the mews, for when the coachman washes his carriage a wheel is lifted from the ground, and it spins at the least touch of the mop, turning as fast as Yeats's mind, and for the same reason, that neither is turning anything. I am alluding now to the last half-hour spent with Yeats, talking about his poem; and thinking of Yeats's mind like a wheel lifted from the ground, it was impossible for my thoughts not to veer round to Edward's slow mind, and to compare it to the creaking wheel of an ox-waggon.

If one could only combine these two—one is an intellect without a temperament to sustain it, the other is a temperament without an intellect to guide it; and I reflected how provokingly Nature separates qualities which are essential, one to the other; and there being food for reflection in this thought, I began to regret Yeats's presence. Very soon his mind would begin to whirl again. The slightest touch, I said, of the coachman's mop will set it going, so I had better remain silent.

It was then that I forgot Yeats and Edward and everything else in the delight caused by a great clamour of wings, and the snowy plumage (p. 191) of thirty-six great birds rushing down the lake, striving to rise from its surface. At last their wings caught the air, and after floating about the lake they settled in a distant corner where they thought they could rest undisturbed. Thirty-six swans rising out of a lake, and floating round it, and settling down in it, is an unusual sight; it conveys a suggestion of fairyland, perhaps because thirty-six wild swans are so different from the silly china swan which sometimes floats and hisses in melancholy whiteness up and down a stone basin. That is all we know of swans—all I knew until the thirty-six rose out of the hushed lake at our feet, and prompted me to turn to Yeats, saying, You're writing your poem in its natural atmosphere. To avoid talking about the poem again, and because I am always interested in natural things, I begged him to tell me whence this flock had come, and if they were really wild swans; and he told me that they were descended originally from a pair of tame swans who had re-acquired their power of flight, and that the thirty-six flew backwards and forwards from Coole to Lough Couter, venturing farther, visiting many of the lakes of Galway and Mayo, but always returning in the autumn to Coole.

We struck across the meadows to avoid the corner of the lake where the swans had settled, and Yeats proposed another scheme for the reconstruction of his poem, and it absorbed him so utterly that he could feel no interest in the smell of burning weeds, redolent of autumn, coming from an adjoining field. Yet it trailed along the damp meadows, rising into the dry air till it seemed a pity to trouble about a poem when Nature provided one so beautiful for our entertainment—incense of woods and faint colours, and every colour and every odour in accordance with my mood.

How pathetic the long willow leaves seemed to me as they floated on the lake! and I wondered, for there was not a wind in the branches. So why had they fallen?... Yeats said he would row me across, thereby saving a long walk, enabling us to get to Tillyra an hour sooner than if we followed the lake's edge. Remember, it was still day, though the moon shed a light down the vague water, but when we reached the other side the sky had darkened, and it was neither day-time nor night-time. The fields stretched out, dim and solitary and grey, and seeing cattle moving mysteriously in the shadows, I thought of the extraordinary oneness of things—the cattle being a little nearer to the earth than we, a little farther than the rocks—and I begged of Yeats to admire the mystery. But he could not meditate; he was still among his Fomorians; and we scrambled through some hawthorns over a ruined wall, I thinking of the time when masons were building that wall, and how quaint the little leaves of the hawthorns were, yellow as gold, fluttering from their stems.

(p. 192) A ruined country, I said, wilderness and weed.

Yeats knew the paths through the hazel woods, and talking of the pirate, we struck through the open spaces, decorated with here and there a thorn tree and much drooping bracken, penetrating into the silence of the blood-red beeches, startled a little when a squirrel cracked a nut in the branch above us, and the broken shells fell at our feet.

I thought there were no squirrels in Ireland?

Twenty years ago there was none, but somebody introduced a pair into Wexford, and gradually they have spread all over Ireland.

This and no more would he tell me, and as we fell into another broad path, where hazels grew on either side, it seemed to me that I should have walked through those woods that evening with some quiet woman, talking of a time long ago, some love-time which had grown distinct in the mirror of the years, like the landscape in the quiet waters of the lake. But in life nothing is perfect; there are no perfect moments, or very few, and it seemed to me that I could no longer speak about Fomorians or pirates. Every combination had been tried, and my tired brain was fit for nothing but to muse on the beauty that was about me, the drift of clouds seen through the branches when I raised my head. But Yeats would not raise his eyes; he walked, his eyes fixed on the ground, still intent upon discovering some scheme of recomposition which would allow him to write his poem without much loss of the original text, and before we reached the end of the alley he delivered himself of many new arrangements, none of which it was possible for me to advise him to adopt, it differing nowise from the half a dozen which had preceded it, and in despair I ran over the story again, just as one might run one's fingers down the keys of a piano, with this result—that in a hollow of the sloppy road which we were following he agreed to abandon the Fomorians; and discussing the harp of apple-wood, which could not be abandoned, we trudged on, myself held at gaze by the stern line of the Burran Mountains showing on our left, and the moon high above the woods of Tillyra. How much more interesting all this is than his pirate! I thought. A shadowy form passed us now and then; a peasant returning from his work, his coat slung over his shoulder; a cow wandering in front of a girl, who curtsied and drew her shawl over her head as she passed us.

Yes, that will do, Yeats answered. I shall lose a good many beautiful verses, but I suppose it can't be helped. Only, I don't like your ending.

The poem has since those days been reconstructed many times by Yeats, but he has always retained the original ending, which is, that after the massacre of the crew of the merchant galley, the Queen, who lies under the canopy when the vessel is boarded, is forced by spells, shed from the strings of a harp made of apple-wood, into a love so overwhelming (p. 193) for the pirate, that she consents to follow him in his quest of the ultimate kingdom in the realms of the Pole. My ending was that her fancy for the pirate should cool before his determination to go northward, and that he should bid her step over the bulwarks into the merchant galley, where the pirates were drinking yellow ale; and then, cutting the ropes which lashed the vessels together, he should hoist a sail and go away northward. But Yeats said it would be a disgraceful act to send a beautiful woman to drink yellow ale with a drunken crew in the hold of a vessel.

So did we argue as we went towards Tillyra, the huge castle now showing aloft among the trees, a light still burning in the ivied embrasure where Edward sat struggling with the love-story of Jasper and Millicent.

He, too, is an inferior artist; he will not yield himself to the love-story. Both of these men in different ways put their personal feelings in front of their work. They are both subaltern souls. And my thoughts turned from them to contemplate the huge pile which Edward's Norman ancestor had built in a hollow. Why in a hollow? I asked myself, for these Norman castles are generally built from hillside to hillside, and were evidently intended to overawe the country, the castles lending each other aid when wild hordes of Celts descended from the Burran Mountains; and when these raids ceased, probably in the seventeenth century, the castle's keep was turned into stables, and a modern house run up alongside of the central tower. Ireland is covered with ruins from the fifth to the eighteenth century.

A land of ruin and weed, I said, and began to dream again a novel that I had relinquished years ago in the Temple, till rooks rising in thousands from the beech-trees interrupted my thoughts.

We'd better go into this wood, I said. Our shadows will seem to Edward from his casement window—

Somewhat critical, Yeats answered; and we turned aside to talk of The Tale of a Town, Yeats anxious to know from me if there was any chance of Edward's being able to complete it by himself, and if he would accept any of the modifications I had suggested.


The castle hall was empty and grey, only the autumn dusk in the Gothic window; and the shuffle of the octogenarian butler sounding very dismal as he pottered across the tessellated pavement. On learning from him that Mr Martyn was still writing, I wandered from the organ into the morning-room, and sat by the fire, waiting for Edward's footstep. It (p. 194) came towards me about half an hour afterwards, slow and ponderous, not at all like the step of the successful dramatist; and my suspicions that his third act was failing him were aggravated by his unwillingness to tell me about the alterations he was making in it. All he could tell me was that he had been in Maynooth last summer, and had heard the priests declaring that they refused to stultify themselves; and as the word seemed to him typical of the country he would put it frequently into the mouths of his politicians.

How drama was to arise out of the verb, to stultify, did not seem clear, and in the middle of my embarrassment he asked me where I had been all the afternoon, brightening up somewhat when I told him that I had been to Coole. In a curious detached way he is always eager for a gossip, and we talked of Yeats and Lady Gregory for a long time, and of our walk round the lake, Edward rousing from my description of the swans to ask me where I had left the poet.

At the gate.

Why didn't you ask him to stay for dinner? And while I sought for an answer, he added: Maybe it's just as well you didn't, for today is Friday and the salmon I was expecting from Galway hasn't arrived.

But Yeats and I aren't Catholics.

My house is a Catholic house, and those who don't care to conform to the rule—

Your dogmatism exceeds that of an Archbishop; and I told him that I had heard my father say that the Archbishop of Tuam, Dr McHale, had meat always on his table on Friday, and when asked how this was, answered that he didn't know who had gotten dispensations and who hadn't. Edward muttered that he was not to be taken in by such remarks about dispensations; he knew very well I had never troubled to ask for one.

Why should I, since I'm not a Catholic?

If you aren't a Catholic, why don't you become a Protestant?

In the first place, one doesn't become a Protestant, one discovers oneself a Protestant; and it seems to me that an Agnostic has as much right to eat meat on Friday as a Protestant.

Agnosticism isn't a religion. It contains no dogma.

It comes to this, then: that you're going to make me dine off a couple of boiled eggs. And I walked about the room, indignant, but not because I care much about my food—two eggs and a potato are more agreeable to me in intelligent society than grouse would be in stupid. But two eggs and a potato forced down my throat on a theological fork in a Gothic house that had cost twenty thousand pounds to build—two eggs and a potato, without hope of cheese! The Irish do not eat cheese, and I am addicted to it, especially to Double Gloucester. (p. 195) In my school-days that cheese was a wonderful solace in my life, but after leaving school I asked for it in vain, and gave up hope of ever eating it again. It was not till the 'nineties that a waiter mentioned it. Stilton, sir; Chester, Double Gloucester—Double Gloucester! You have Double Gloucester! I thought it extinct. You have it? Then bring it, I cried, and so joyfully that he couldn't drag himself from my sight. An excellent cheese, I told him, but somewhat fallen from the high standard it had assumed in my imagination. Even so, if there had been a slice of Double Gloucester in the larder at Tillyra, I should not have minded the absence of the salmon, and if Edward had pleaded that his servants would be scandalised to see any one who was supposed to be a Catholic eat meat on Fridays, I should have answered: But everybody knows I'm not a Catholic. I've written it in half a dozen books. And if Edward had said: But my servants don't read your books; I shall be obliged if you'll put up with fasting fare for once, I would have eaten an egg and a potato without murmur or remark. But to be told I must dine off two eggs and a potato, so that his conscience should not be troubled during the night, worried me, and I am afraid I cast many an angry look across the table. An apple pie came up and some custards, and these soothed me; he discovered some marmalade in a cupboard, and Edward is such a sociable being when his pipe is alight, that I forgave his theological prejudices for the sake of his aesthetic. We peered into reproductions of Fra Angelico's frescoes, and studied Leonardo's sketches for draperies. Edward liked Ibsen from the beginning, and will like him to the end, and Swift. But he cannot abide Schumann's melodies. We had often talked of these great men and their works, but never did he talk as delightfully as on that Friday evening right on into Saturday morning. Nor was it till Sunday morning that his soul began to trouble him again. As I was finishing breakfast, he had the face to ask me to get ready to go to Mass.

But, Edward, I don't believe in the Mass. My presence will be only—Will you hold your tongue, George?... and not give scandal, he answered, his voice trembling with emotion. Everybody knows that I don't believe in the Mass.

If you aren't a Catholic, why don't you become a Protestant? And he began pushing me from behind. I have told you before that one may become a Catholic, but one discovers oneself a Protestant. But why am I going to Gort? Because you had the bad taste to describe our church in A Drama in Muslin, and to make such remarks about our parish priest that he said, if you showed yourself in Ardrahan again, he'd throw dirty water over you. If you send me to Gort, I shall be able to describe Father ——'s church. Will you not be delaying? One word more, It isn't on account of my description of Father ——'s church that you (p. 196) won't take me to Ardrahan: the real reason is because, at your request, mind you, I asked Father —— not to spit upon your carpet when he came to dinner at Tillyra. You were afraid to ask a priest to refrain from any of his habits, and left the room. I only asked you to draw his attention to the spittoon. Which I did; but he said such things were only a botheration, and my admonitions on the virtue of cleanliness angered him so that he never—

You'll be late for Mass. And you, Whelan; now, are you listening to me? Do you hear me? You aren't to spare the whip. Away you go; you'll only be just in time. And you, Whelan, you're not to delay putting up the horse. Do you hear me?

Whelan drove away rapidly, and when I looked back I saw my friend hurrying across the park, tumbling into the sunk fence in his anxiety not to miss the Confiteor, and Whelan, who saw the accident, too, feared that the masther is after hurting himself. Happily this was not so. Edward was soon on his feet again, running across the field like a hare, the driver said—out of politeness, I suppose.

Hardly like a hare, I said, hoping to draw a more original simile from Whelan's rustic mind; but he only coughed a little, and shook up the reins which he held in a shapeless, freckled hand.

Do you like the parish priest at Gort better than Father —— at Ardrahan?

They're well matched, Whelan answered—a thick-necked, long-bodied fellow with a rim of faded hair showing under a bowler hat that must have been about the stables for years, collecting dust along the corn-bin and getting greasy in the harness-room. One reasoned that it must have been black once upon a time, and that Whelan must have been a young man long ago; and one reasoned that he must have shaved last week, or three weeks ago, for there was a stubble on his chin. But in spite of reason, Whelan seemed like something that had always been, some old rock that had lain among the bramble since the days of Finn MacCoole, and his sullenness seemed as permanent as that of the rocks, and his face, too, seemed like a worn rock, for it was without profile, and I could only catch sight of a great flabby ear and a red, freckled neck, about which was tied a woollen comforter that had once been white.

He answered my questions roughly, without troubling to turn his head, like a man who wishes to be left to himself; and acquiescing in his humour, I fell to thinking of Father James Browne, the parish priest of Carnacun in the 'sixties, and of the day that he came over to Moore Hall in his ragged cassock and battered biretta, with McHale's Irish translation of Homer under his arm, saying that the Archbishop had caught the Homeric ring in many a hexameter. My father smiled at the (p. 197) priest's enthusiasm, but I followed this tall, gaunt man, of picturesque appearance, whose large nose with tufted nostrils I remember to this day, into the Blue Room to ask him if the Irish were better than the Greek. He was a little loth to say it was not, but this rustic scholar did not carry patriotism into literature, and he admitted, on being pressed, that he liked the Greek better, and I listened to his great rotund voice pouring through his wide Irish mouth while he read me some eight or ten lines of Homer, calling my attention to the famous line that echoes the clash of the wave on the beach and the rustle of the shingle as the wave sinks back. My curiosity about McHale's translation interested him in me, and it was arranged soon after between him and my father that he should teach me Latin, and I rode a pony over every morning to a thatched cottage under ilex-trees, where the pleasantest hours of my childhood were spent in a parlour lined with books from floor to ceiling, reading there a little Virgil, and persuading an old priest into talk about Quintilian and Seneca. One day he spoke of Propertius, and the beauty of the name led me to ask Father James if I might read him, and not receiving a satisfactory answer, my curiosity was stimulated and Caesar studied diligently for a month.

Shall I know enough Latin in six months to read Propertius? It will be many years before you will be able to read him. He is a very difficult writer. Could Martin Blake read Propertius?

Martin Blake was Father James's other pupil, and these Blakes are neighbours of ours, and live on the far side of Carnacun. Father James was always telling me of the progress Martin was making in the Latin language, and I was always asking Father James when I should overtake him, but he held out very little hope that it would be possible for me ever to outdo Martin in scholarship. He may have said this because he could not look upon me as a promising pupil, or he may have been moved by a hope to start a spirit of emulation in me. He was a wise man, and the reader will wonder how it was that, with such a natural interest in languages and such excellent opportunities, I did not become a classical scholar; the reader's legitimate curiosity shall be satisfied.

One day Father James said the time would come when I would give up hunting—everything, for the classics, and I rode home, elated, to tell my mother the prophecy. But she burst out laughing, leaving me in no doubt whatever that she looked upon Father James's idea of me as an excellent joke; and the tragedy of it all is that I accepted her casual point of view without consideration, carrying it almost at once into reality, playing truant instead of going to my Latin lesson. Father James, divested of his scholarship, became a mere priest in my eyes. I think that I avoided him, and am sure that I hardly ever saw him again, except at Mass.

(p. 198) A strange old church is Carnacun, built in the form of a cross, with whitewashed walls and some hardened earth for floor; and I should be hard set to discover in my childhood an earlier memory than the panelled roof, designed and paid for by my father, who had won the Chester Cup some years before. The last few hundred pounds of his good fortune were spent in pitch-pine rafters and boards, and he provided a large picture of the Crucifixion, painted by my cousin, Jim Browne, who happened to be staying at Moore Hall at the time, from Tom Kelly the lodge-keeper, the first nude model that ever stood up in Mayo (Mayo has always led the way—Ireland's van-bird for sure). It was taken in great pomp from Moore Hall to Carnacun; and the hanging of it was a great and punctilious affair. A board had to be nailed at the back whereby a rope could be attached to hoist it into the roof, and lo! Mickey Murphy drove a nail through one of the gilt leaves which served as a sort of frame for the picture. My father shouted his orders to the men in the roof that they were to draw up the picture very slowly, and, lest it should sway and get damaged in the swaying, strings were attached to it. My father and mother each held a string, and the third may have been held by Jim Browne, or perhaps I was allowed to hold it.

Some time afterwards a Blessed Virgin and a St Joseph came down from Dublin, and they were painted and gilded by my father, and so beautifully, that they were the admiration of every one for a very long while, and it was Jim Browne's Crucifixion and these anonymous statues that awakened my first aesthetic emotions. I used to look forward to seeing them all the way from Moore Hall to Carnacun—a bleak road as soon as our gate-lodge was passed: on one side a hill that looked as if it had been peeled; on the other some moist fields, divided by small stone walls, liked by me in those days, for they were excellent practice for my pony. Along this road our tenantry used to come from the villages, the women walking on one side (the married women in dark blue cloaks, the girls hiding their faces behind their shawls, carrying their boots in their hands, which they would put on in the chapel yard), the men walking on the other side, the elderly men in traditional swallow-tail coats, knee-breeches, and worsted stockings; the young men in corduroy trousers and frieze coats. As we passed, the women curtsied in their red petticoats; the young men lifted their round bowler-hats; but the old men stood by, their tall hats in their hands. At the bottom of every one was a red handkerchief, and I remember wisps of grey hair floating in the wind. Our tenantry met the tenantry of Clogher and Tower Hill, and they all collected round the gateway of the chapel to admire the carriages of their landlords. We were received like royalty as we turned in through the gates and went up the wooden staircase leading to the gallery, frequented by the privileged people of the parish—by (p. 199) us, and by our servants, the postmaster and postmistress from Ballyglass, and a few graziers. In the last pew were the police, and after the landlords these were the most respected.

As soon as we were settled in our pew the acolytes ventured from the sacristy tinkling their bells, the priest following, carrying the chalice covered with the veil. As the ceremony of the Mass had never caught my fancy, I used to spend my time looking over the pew into the body of the church, wondering at the herd of peasantry, trying to distinguish our own serfs among those from the Tower Hill and Clogher estates. Pat Plunket, a highly respectable tenant (he owned a small orchard), I could always discover; he knelt just under us, and in front of a bench, the only one in the body of the church, and about him collected those few that had begun to rise out of brutal indigence. Their dress and their food were slightly different from the commoner kind. Pat Plunket and Mickey Murphy, the carpenter, not the sawyer, were supposed to drink tea and eat hot cakes. The others breakfasted off Indian-meal porridge. And to Pat Plunket's bench used to come a tall woman, whose grace of body the long blue-black cloak of married life could not hide. I liked to wonder which among the men about her might be her husband. And a partial memory still lingers of a cripple that was allowed to avail himself of Pat Plunket's bench. His crutches were placed against the wall, and used to catch my eye, suggesting thoughts of what his embarrassment would be if they were taken away whilst he prayed. A great unknown horde of peasantry from Ballyglass and beyond it knelt in the left-hand corner, and after the Communion they came up the church with a great clatter of brogues to hear the sermon, leaving behind a hideous dwarf whom I could not take my eyes off, so strange was his waddle as he moved about the edge of the crowd, his huge mouth grinning all the time.

Our pew was the first on the right-hand side, and the pew behind us was the Clogher pew, and it was filled with girls—Helena, Livy, Lizzy, and May—the first girls I ever knew; and these are now under the sod—all except poor Livy, an old woman whom I sometimes meet out with her dog by the canal. In the first few on the left was a red landlord with a frizzled beard and a perfectly handsome wife, and behind him was Joe McDonnel from Carnacun House, a great farmer, and the wonder of the church, so great was his belly. I can see these people dimly, like figures in the background of a picture; but the blind girl is as clear in my memory as if she were present. She used to kneel behind the Virgin's altar and the Communion rails, almost entirely hidden under an old shawl, grown green with age; and the event of every Sunday, at least for me, was to see her draw herself forward when the Communion bell rang, and lift herself to receive the wafer that the (p. 200) priest placed upon her tongue and having received it, she would sink back, overcome, overawed, and I used to wonder at her piety, and think of the long hours she spent sitting by the cabin fire waiting for Sunday to come round again. On what roadside was that cabin? And did she come, led by some relative or friend, or finding her way down the road by herself? Questions that interested me more than anybody else, and it was only at the end of a long inquiry that I learnt that she came from one of the cabins opposite Carnacun House. Every time we passed that cabin I used to look out for her, thinking how I might catch sight of her in the doorway; but I never saw her except in the chapel. Only once did we meet her as we drove to Ballyglass, groping her way, doubtless, to Carnacun. Where else would she be going? And hearing our horses' hoofs she sank closer to the wall, overawed, into the wet among the falling leaves.

As soon as the Communion was over Father James would come forward, and thrusting his hands under the alb (his favourite gesture) he would begin his sermon in Irish (in those days Irish was the language of the country among the peasantry), and we would sit for half an hour, wondering what were the terrible things he was saying, asking ourselves if it were pitchforks or ovens, or both, that he was talking; for the peasantry were groaning aloud, the women not infrequently falling on their knees, beating their breasts; and I remember being perplexed by the possibility that some few tenantry might be saved, for if that happened how should we meet them in heaven? Would they look another way and pass us by without lifting their hats and crying: Long life to yer honour?

My memories of Carnacun Chapel and Father James Browne were interrupted by a sudden lurching forward of the car, which nearly flung me into the road. Whelan apologised for himself and his horse, but I damned him, for I was annoyed at being awakened from my dream. There was no hope of being able to pick it up again, for the chapel bell was pealing down the empty landscape, calling the peasants from their desolute villages. It seemed to me that the Carnacun bell used to cry across the moist fields more cheerfully; there was a menace in the Gort bell as there is in the voice of a man who fears that he may not be obeyed, and this gave me an interest in the Mass I was going to hear. It would teach me something of the changes that had happened during my absence. The first thing I noticed as I approached the chapel was the smallness of the crowd of men about the gateposts; only a few figures, and they surly and suspicious fellows, resolved not to salute the landlord, yet breaking away with difficulty from traditional servility. Our popularity had disappeared with the laws that favoured us, but Whelan's appearance counted for something in the decaying sense of (p. 201) rank among the peasantry, and I mentally reproached Edward for not putting his servant into livery. It interested me to see that the superstitions of Carnacun were still followed: the peasants dipped their fingers in a font and sprinkled themselves, and the only difference that I noticed between the two chapels was one for the worse; the windows at Gort were not broken, and the happy, circling swallows did not build under the rafters. It was easier to discover differences in the two congregations. My eyes sought vainly the long dark cloak of married life, nor did I succeed in finding an old man in knee-breeches and worsted stockings, nor a girl drawing her shawl over her head.

The Irish language is inseparable from these things, I said, and it has gone. The sermon will be in English, or in a language as near English as those hats and feathers are near the fashions that prevail in Paris.

The Gort peasants seemed able to read, for they held prayer-books, and as if to help them in their devotion a harmonium began to utter sounds as discordant as the red and blue glass in the windows, and all the time the Mass continued very much as I remembered it, until the priest lifted his alb over his head and placed it upon the altar (Father James used to preach in the vestment, I said to myself); and very slowly and methodically the Gort priest tried to explain the mystery of Transubstantiation to the peasants, who lent such an indifferent ear to him that it was difficult not to think that Father James's sermons, based on the fear of the devil, were more suitable to Ireland.

A Mass only rememberable for a squealing harmonium, some panes in terrifying blues and reds, and my own great shame. However noble my motive may have been, I had knelt and stood with the congregation; I had even bowed my head, making believe by this parade that I accepted the Mass as a truth. It could not be right to do this, even for the sake of the Irish Literary Theatre, and I left the chapel asking myself by what strange alienation of the brain had Edward come to imagine that a piece of enforced hypocrisy on my part could be to any one's advantage.

It seemed to me that mortal sin had been committed that morning; a sense of guilt clung about me. Edward was consulted. Could it be right for one who did not believe in the Mass to attend Mass? He seemed to acquiesce that it might not be right, but when Sunday came round again my refusal to get on the car so frightened him that I relinquished myself to his scruples, to his terror, to his cries. The reader will judge me weak, but it should be remembered that he is my oldest friend, and it seemed to me that we should never be the same friends again if I refused; added to which he had been telling me all the week that he was getting on finely with his third act, and for the sake of a hypothetical act I climbed up on the car.

(p. 202) Now, Whelan, don't delay putting up the horse. Mind you're in time for Mass, and don't leave the chapel until the last Gospel has been read.

Must we wait for Benediction? I cried ironically.

Edward did not answer, possibly because he does not regard Benediction as part of the liturgy, and is, therefore, more or less indifferent to it. The horse trotted and Whelan clacked his tongue, a horrible noise from which I tried to escape by asking him questions.

Are the people quiet in this part of the country? Quite enough, he answered, and I thought I detected a slightly contemptuous accent in the syllables.

Not much life in the country? I hear the hunting is going to be stopped?

Parnell never told them to stop the hunting.

You're a Parnellite?

He was a great man.

The priests went against him, I said, because he loved another man's wife.

And O'Shea not living with her at the time.

Even if he had been, I answered, Ireland first of all, say I. He was a great man.

He was that.

And the priest at Gort—was he against him?

Wasn't he every bit as bad as the others?

Then you don't care to go to his church?

I'd just as lief stop away.

It's strange, Whelan; it's strange that Mr Martyn should insist on my going to Gort to Mass. Of what use can Mass be to any one if he doesn't wish to hear it?

Whelan chuckled, or seemed to chuckle.

He will express no opinion, I said to myself, and abstractions don't interest him. So, turning to the concrete, I spoke of the priest who was to say Mass, and Whelan agreed that he had gone agin Parnell.

Well, Whelan, it's a great waste of time going to Gort to hear a Mass one doesn't want to hear, and I have business with Mr Yeats.

Maybe you'd like me to turn into Coole, sur?

I was thinking we might do that ... only you won't speak to Mr Martin about it, will you? Because, you see Whelan, every one has his prejudices, and I am a great friend of Mr Martyn, and wouldn't like to disappoint him.

Wouldn't like to contrairy him, sur?

That's it, Whelan. Now, what about your dinner? You don't mind having your dinner in a Protestant house?

(p. 203) It's all one to me, sur.

The dinner is the main point, isn't it, Whelan?

Begad it is sur, and he turned the horse in through the gates.

Just go round, I said, and put the horse up and say nothing to anybody.

Yes, sur.

After long ringing the maid-servant opened the door and told me that Lady Gregory had gone to church with her niece; Mr Yeats was composing. Would I take a seat in the drawing-room and wait till he was finished? He must have heard the wheels of the car coming round the gravel sweep, for he was in the room before the servant left it—enthusiastic, though a little weary. He had written five lines and a half, and a pause between one's rhymes is an excellent thing, he said. One could not but admire him, for even in early morning he was convinced of the importance of literature in our national life. He is nearly as tall as a Dublin policeman, and preaching literature he stood on the hearthrug, his feet set close together. Lifting his arms above his head (the very movement that Raphael gives to Paul when preaching at Athens), he said what he wanted to do was to gather up a great mass of speech. It did not seem to me clear why he should be at pains to gather up a great mass of speech to write so exiguous a thing as The Shadowy Waters; but we live in our desires rather than in our achievements, and Yeats talked on, telling me that he was experimenting, and did not know whether his play would come out in rhyme or in blank verse; he was experimenting. He could write blank verse almost as easily as prose, and therefore feared it; some obstacle, some darn was necessary. It seemed a pity to interrupt him, but I was interested to hear if he were going to accept my end, and allow the lady to drift southward, drinking yellow ale with the sailors, while the hero sought salvation alone in the North. He flowed out into a torrent of argument and explanation, very ingenious, but impossible to follow. Phrase after phrase rose and turned and went out like a wreath of smoke, and when the last was spoken and the idea it had borne had vanished, I asked him if he knew the legend of Diarmuid and Grania. He began to tell it to me in its many variants, surprising me with unexpected dramatic situations, at first sight contradictory and incoherent, but on closer scrutiny revealing a psychology in germ which it would interest me to unfold. A wonderful hour of literature that was, flowering into a resolution to write an heroic play together. As we sat looking at each other in silence, Lady Gregory returned from church.

She came into the room quickly, with a welcoming smile on her face, and I set her down here as I see her: a middle-aged woman, agreeable to look upon, perhaps for her broad, handsome, intellectual brow enframed (p. 204) in iron-grey hair. The brown, wide-open eyes are often lifted in looks of appeal and inquiry, and a natural wish to sympathise softens her voice till it whines. It modulated, however, very pleasantly as she yielded her attention to Yeats, who insisted on telling her how two beings so different as myself and Whelan had suddenly become united in a conspiracy to deceive Edward, Whelan because he could not believe in the efficacy of a Mass performed by an anti-Parnellite, and I because—Yeats hesitated for a sufficient reason, deciding suddenly that I had objected to hear Mass in Gort because there was no one in the church who had read Villiers de l'Isle Adam except myself; and he seemed so much amused that the thought suddenly crossed my mind that perhaps the cocasseries of Connaught were more natural to him than the heroic moods which he believed himself called upon to interpret. His literature is one thing and his conversation is another, divided irreparably. Is this right? Lady Gregory chattered on, telling stories faintly farcical, amusing to those who knew the neighbourhood, but rather wearisome for one who didn't, and I was waiting for an opportunity to tell her that an heroic drama was going to be written on the subject of Diarmuid and Grania.

When my lips broke the news, a cloud gathered in her eyes, and she admitted that she thought it would be hardly wise for Yeats to undertake any further work at present; and later in the afternoon she took me into her confidence, telling me that Yeats came to Coole every summer because it was necessary to get him away from the distractions of London, not so much from social as from the intellectual distractions that Arthur Symons had inaugurated. The Savoy rose up in my mind with its translations from Villiers le l'Isle Adam, Verlaine and Maeterlinck; and I agreed with her that alien influences were a great danger to the artist. All Yeats's early poems, she broke in, were written in Sligo, and among them were twenty beautiful lyrics and Ireland's one great poem, The Wanderings of Usheen—all these had come straight out of the landscape and the people he had known from boyhood.

For seven years we have been waiting for a new book from him; ever since The Countess Cathleen we have been reading the publisher's autumn announcement of The Wind among the Reeds. The volume was finished here last year; it would never have been finished if I had not asked him to Coole; and though we live in an ungrateful world, I think somebody will throw a kind word after me some day, if for nothing else, for The Wind among the Reeds.

I looked round, thinking that perhaps life at Coole was arranged primarily to give him an opportunity of writing poems. As if she had read my thoughts, Lady Gregory led me into the back drawing-room, and showed me the table at which he wrote, and I admired the clean (p. 205) pens, the fresh ink, and the spotless blotter; these were her special care every morning. I foresaw the strait sofa lying across the window, valued in some future time because the poet had reclined upon it between his rhymes. Ah me! the creeper that rustles an accompaniment to his melodies in the pane will awaken again, year after year, but one year it will awaken in vain.... My eyes thanked Lady Gregory for her devotion to literature. Instead of writing novels she had released the poet from the quern of daily journalism, and anxious that she should understand my appreciation of her, I spoke of the thirty-six wild swans that had risen out of the lake while Yeats and I wandered all through the long evening seeking a new composition for The Shadowy Waters.

She did not answer me, and I followed her in silence back to the front room and sat listening to her while she told me that it was because she wanted poems from him that she looked askance at our project to write a play together on the subject of Diarmuid and Grania. It was not that the subject was unsuited to his genius, but she thought it should be written by him alone; the best of neither would transpire in collaboration, and she lamented that it were useless to save him from the intellectual temptations of Symons if he were to be tossed into more subtle ones. She laughed, as is her way when she cozens, and reminded me that we were of different temperaments and had arisen out of different literary traditions.

Mayo went to Montmartre, and Sligo turned into Fleet Street.

Suspicious in her cleverness, my remark did not altogether please her, and she said something about a man of genius and a man of talent coming together, speaking quickly under her breath, so that her scratch would escape notice at the time; and we were talking of our responsibilities towards genius when the door opened and Yeats came into the room.

He entered somewhat diffidently, I thought, with an invitation to me to go for a walk. Lady Gregory was appeased with the news that he had written five and a half lines that morning, and a promise that he would be back at six, and would do a little more writing before dinner. As he went away he told me that he might attain his maximum of nine lines that evening, if he succeeded in finishing the broken line. But S must never meet S; for his sake was inadmissible, and while seeking how he might avoid such a terrifying cacophony we tramped down wet roads and climbed over low walls into scant fields, finding the ruined castle we were in search of at the end of a long boreen among tall, wet grasses. The walls were intact and the stair, and from the top we stood watching the mist drifting across the grey country. Yeats telling how the wine had been drugged at Tara, myself thinking how natural it was that Lady Gregory should look upon me as a danger to Yeats's genius. As we (p. 206) descended the slippery stair an argument began in my head whereby our project of collaboration might be defended. Next time I went to Coole I would say to Lady Gregory: You see, Yeats came to me with The Shadowy Waters because he had entangled the plot and introduced all his ideas into it, and you will admit that the plot had to be disentangled? To conciliate her completely I would say that while Yeats was rewriting The Shadowy Waters I would spend my time writing an act about the many adventures that befell Diarmuid and Grania as they fled before Finn. Yeats had told me these adventures in the ruined castle; I had given to them all the attention that I could spare from Lady Gregory, who, I was thinking, might admit my help in the arrangement of some incidents in The Shadowy Waters, but would always regard our collaboration in Diarmuid and Grania with hostility. But for this partiality it seemed to me I could not blame her, so well had she put her case when she said that her fear was that my influence might break up the mould of his mind.

The car waited for me at the end of the boreen, and before starting I tried to persuade Yeats to come to Tillyra with me, but he said he could not leave Lady Gregory alone, and before we parted I learnt that she read to him every evening. Last summer it was War and Peace, and this summer she was reading Spenser's Faerie Queene, for he was going to publish a selection and must get back to Coole for the seventh canto.

Goodbye, and springing up on the car, I was driven by Whelan into the mist, thinking Yeats the most fortunate amongst us, he having discovered among all others that one who, by instinctive sympathy, understood the capacity of his mind, and could evoke it, and who never wearied of it, whether it came to her in elaborately wrought stanzas or in the form of some simple confession, the mood of last night related as they crossed the sward after breakfast. As the moon is more interested in the earth than in any other thing, there is always some woman more interested in a man's mind than in anything else, and willing to follow it sentence by sentence. A great deal of Yeats's work must come to her in fragments—a line and a half, two lines—and these she faithfully copies on her typewriter, and even those that his ultimate taste has rejected are treasured up, and perhaps will one day appear in a stately variorum edition.

Well she may say that the future will owe her something, and my thoughts moved back to the first time I saw her some twenty-five years ago. She was then a young woman, very earnest, who divided her hair in the middle and wore it smooth on either side of a broad and handsome brow. Her eyes were always full of questions, and her Protestant high-school air became her greatly and estranged me from her.

In her drawing-room were to be met men of assured reputation in (p. 207) literature and politics, and there was always the best reading of the time upon her tables. There was nothing, however, in her conversation to suggest literary faculty, and it was a surprise to me to hear one day that she had written a pamphlet in defence of Arabi Pasha, an Egyptian rebel. Some years after she edited her husband's memoirs, circumstances had not proved favourable to the development of her gift, and it languished till she met Yeats. He could not have been long at Coole before he began to draw her attention to the beauty of the literature that rises among the hills and bubbles irresponsibly, and set her going from cabin to cabin taking down stories, and encouraged her to learn the original language of the country, so that they might add to the Irish idiom which the peasant had already translated in English, making in this way a language for themselves.

Yeats could only acquire the idiom by the help of Lady Gregory, for although he loves the dialect and detests the defaced idiom which we speak in our streets and parlours, he has little aptitude to learn that of the boreen and the market-place. She put her aptitude at his service, and translated portions of Cathleen ni Houlihan into Kiltartan (Kiltartan is the village in which she collects the dialect); and she worked it into the revised version of the stories from The Secret Rose, published by the Dun Emer Press, and thinking how happy their lives must be at Coole, implicated in literary partnership, my heart went out towards her in a sudden sympathy. She has been wise all her life through, I said; she knew him to be her need at once, and she never hesitated ... yet she knew me before she knew him.


While Edward revised his play Yeats and I talked of The Shadowy Waters, and the Boers crossed one of our frontiers into Cape Colony or Natal—I have forgotten which; but I remember very well my attitude of mind towards the war, and how I used to walk every day from Tillyra to Ardrahan, a distance of at least two Irish miles, to fetch the newspaper, so anxious was I to read of a victory for our soldiers.

Before starting I would pay Edward a visit in his tower, and after a few words about the play, I would tell him that the way out of our South African difficulties was simple—the Government should arm the blacks; and this would make Edward growl out that the English Government was beastly enough to do it; and I remember how I used to go away, pleased that I had always the courage of my morality. Other men do what they know to be wrong, and repent, or think they repent; but (p. 208) as it would be impossible for me to do what I believe to be wrong, repentance is for me an idle word; and, thinking that to raise an army of seventy thousand blacks would be a fine trick to play upon the Boers, I often returned through the park full of contempt for my countrymen, my meditations interrupted occasionally by some natural sight—the beauty of the golden bracken through which the path twisted, a crimson beech at the end of it, or the purple beauty of a line of hills over against the rocky plain freckled with the thatched cabins of the peasantry. Nor do I remember more beautiful evenings than these were; and, as the days drew in, the humble hawthorns shaped themselves into lovely silhouettes, and a meaning seemed to gather round the low, mossy wall out of which they grew, until one day the pictorial idea which had hitherto stayed my steps melted away, and I became possessed by a sentimental craving for the country itself. After all, it was my country, and, strangely perturbed, I returned to the castle to ask Edward's opinion regarding the mysterious feeling that had glided suddenly into my heart as I stood looking at the Burran Mountains.

It is difficult for anybody to say why he loves his country, for what is a country but a geographical entity? And I am not sure that Edward was listening very attentively when I told him of a certain pity, at variance with my character, that had seemed to rise out of my heart.

It would be strange if Cathleen ni Houlihan were to get me after all. That is impossible ... only a passing feeling; and I sat looking at him, remembering that the feeling I dreaded had seemed to come out of the landscape and to have descended into my heart. But he was so little interested in what seemed to me transcendental that I refrained from further explanation, concluding that he was thinking of his play, which had gone to Coole yesterday. I was led to think this, for he was sitting at the window as if watching for Yeats. We were expecting our poet.

Here he is. I wonder what he thinks of your revisions?

And to save Edward from humiliation I asked Yeats as soon as he came into the room if he liked the new third act.

No, no; it's entirely impossible. We couldn't have such a play performed. And dropping his cloak from his shoulders, he threw his hair from his brow with a pale hand, and sank into a chair, and seemed to lose himself in a sudden meditation. It was like a scene from a play, with Yeats in the principal part; and, admiring him, I sat thinking of the gloom of Kean, of the fate of the Princes in the Tower, headsmen, and suchlike things, and thinking, too, that Yeats, notwithstanding his hierarchic airs, was not an actual literary infallibility. The revised third act might not be as bad as he seemed to think it. He might be mistaken ... or prejudiced. Yeats's literary integrity is without stain, that I knew. But he might be prejudiced against Edward without knowing it. The (p. 209) success of The Heather Field had stirred up in Edward, till then the most unassuming of men, a certain aggressiveness which, for some time past, I could see had been getting on Yeats's nerves. Nor am I quite sure that myself at that moment would not have liked to humble Edward a little ... only a little. But let us not be drawn from the main current of our resolution, which is entirely literary, by a desire to note every sub-current. Yeats looked very determined, and when I tried to induce him to give way he answered:

We are artists, and cannot be expected to accept a play because other plays as bad, and nearly as bad, have been performed.

Saints, I said, do not accept sins because sins are of common occurrence.

He did not answer, but sat looking into the fire gloomily.

He takes a very determined view of your play, Edward. It may not strike me in the same light. If you will give me the manuscript I'll just run upstairs with it. I can't read it in front of you both.

There was no reason why I should read the first two acts; Edward had not touched them. What he had engaged to rewrite was the last half of the third act, and a few minutes would enable me to see if he had made sufficient alterations for the play to be put forward—not as a work of art—that is as something that would be acted fifty years hence for the delight of numerous audiences, as proof of the talent that existed in Ireland at the end of the nineteenth century—but as a play to which literary people could give their attention without feeling ashamed of themselves afterwards. There was no reason why we should ask for more than that; for the subject of the play was merely one of topical interest, and it is a mistake—I pointed this out to Yeats—to be very particular about the literary quality of such a play. All the same it would have to be put right, and this Edward could not do. It was more a matter for a cunning literary hand than for a fellow like Edward with a streak of original genius in him, and very little literary tact.

On these reflections I sat down to read, but the play was so crude, even in its revised form, that I fell to thinking that Yeats's thoughts must have wandered very often from the page. He should have remembered, however, whilst we discussed the play with Edward, that Edward was a human being after all, and not made it apparent that he looked upon the play as something the local schoolmaster might have written, and of all, should have kept looks out of his face which said as plainly as words could: Your soul is inferior, beneath my notice; take it away. He did not even seem to apprehend that Edward was torn between love of self and love of Ireland. Abstract thinking, I said, kills human sympathies, and Yeats is no longer able to appreciate anything but literary values. The man behind the play is ignored ... Yeats can no longer (p. 210) think with his body; it is only his mind that thinks. He is all intellect, if that isn't too cardinal a word. And seeing before me quite a new country of conjecture, one which I had never rambled in, I sat thinking of the cruelty of the monks of the Middle Ages, and the cruelty of the nuns and the monks of the present day. Their thoughts are abstracted from this world, from human life—that is why; and Yeats was a sort of monk of literature, an Inquisitor of Journalism who would burn a man for writing that education was progressing by leaps and bounds. Opinions make people cruel—literary as well as theological. Whereas the surgeon, whose thought is always of the flesh, is the kindliest of creatures. It is true that one sometimes hears of surgeons who, in the pursuit of science, willingly undertake operations which they know to be dangerous, and we know that the scientists in the laboratory are indifferent to the sufferings of the animals they vivisect. Even so, Nature thinks like the surgeon who risks an operation in order that he may discover the cause of the disease. The knowledge he gathers from the death of the patient is passed on, and it saves the life of another. But the artist cannot pass on any portion of his art to his pupil; his gift lives in himself and dies with him, and his art comes as much from his heart as from his intellect. The intellect outlives the heart, and the heart of Yeats seemed to me to have died ten years ago; the last of it probably went into the composition of The Countess Cathleen.

Yesterevening, when we wandered about the lake, talking of The Shadowy Waters, trying to free it from the occult sciences that had grown about it, Fomorians beaked and unbeaked, and magic harps and Druid spells, I did not perceive that the difficulties into which the story had wandered could be attributed to a lack of human sympathy. But Yeats's treatment of Edward proved it to me. The life of the artist is always at difficult equipoise; he may fail from lack of human sympathies, or he may yield altogether to them and become a mere philanthropist; and we may well wonder what the choice of the artist would have been if he had to choose between the destruction of Messina and Reggio or of Herculaneum and Pompeii. Were he to choose the ancient ruins in preference to the modern towns, he might give very good reasons for doing so, saying that to prolong the lives of a hundred thousand people for a few years would not be, in his opinion, worth a bronze like the Narcissus. A very specious argument might be maintained in favour of the preservation of the bronze, even at the price of a hundred thousand lives. Perhaps he might let the bronze go, but if all Greek art were added he would hesitate, and when he had let one hundred thousand men and women go to their doom he would probably retire into the mountains to escape from sight of every graven thing. To write a play our human and artistic sympathies must be very evenly balanced, and (p. 211) I remembered that among my suggestions for the reconstruction of The Shadowy Waters, the one that Yeats refused most resolutely was that the woman should refuse to accompany the metaphysical pirate to the ultimate North, but return somewhat diffidently, ashamed of herself, to the sailors who were drinking yellow ale.

Yeats has reflected himself in the pirate, I said. All he cares for is a piece of literature. The man behind it matters nothing to him. But am I not just as wicked as he? Worse, indeed, for Edward is my oldest friend and I do not defend him. Whereupon the manuscript fell from my hand, and I sat for a long time thinking; and then, getting up, I wandered out of my room and hung over the banisters, looking down into the central hall, asking myself what Yeats and Edward were saying to each other, and thinking that their talk must be strained and difficult, thinking too that my duty was to go down to them and bring their bitter interview to an end.

And I resolved to say that I could see no reason why the play should not be acted. But half-way down the stairs my conscience forbade so flagrant a lie. Yeats would not believe me. And what good would it do to allow Edward to bring over actors and actresses for the performance of such a play? It's kinder to tell him the truth. In the middle of the hall I stopped again. But if I tell him the truth the Irish Literary Theatre will come to an end.

Well, Edward, I've read your play ... but the alterations you've made aren't very considerable, and I can't help thinking that the play requires something more done to it.

You've read my play very quickly. Are you sure you've read it?

I've read all the passages that you've altered.

I had only glanced through them, but I could not tell him that a glance was sufficient.

If there were time, you might alter it yourself. You see, the time is short—only two months; and I watched Edward. For a long time he said nothing, but sat like a man striving with himself, and I pitied him, knowing how much of his life was in his play.

I give you the play, he said, starting to his feet. Do with it as you like; turn it inside out, upside down. I'll make you a present of it!

But, Edward, if you don't wish me to alter your play—

Ireland has always been divided, and I've preached unity. Now I'm going to practise it. I give you the play.

But what do you mean by giving us the play? Yeats said.

Do with it what you like. I'm not going to break up the Irish Literary Theatre. Do with my play what you like, and he rushed away.

I'm afraid, Yeats, his feelings are very much hurt.

And my heart went out to the poor man sitting alone in his tower, (p. 212) brooding over his failure. I expected Yeats to say something sympathetic, but all he said was: We couldn't produce such a play as that. It was perhaps the wisest thing he could say under the circumstances. For what use is there in sentimentalising over the lamb whose throat is going to be cut in the slaughter-house?

The sooner the alterations are made the better.

And I asked Yeats to come over tomorrow.

You see, you'll have to help me with this adaptation, for I know nothing of Ireland.

It is a pleasure to be with him, especially when one meets him for the purpose of literary discussion; he is a real man of letters, with an intelligence as keen as a knife, and a knife was required to cut the knots into which Edward had tied his play, for very few could be loosened. The only fault I found with Yeats in this collaboration was the weariness into which he sank suddenly, saying that after a couple of hours he felt a little faint, and would require half an hour's rest.

We returned to the play after lunch, and continued until nearly seven o'clock, too long a day for Yeats, who was not so strong then as he is now, and Lady Gregory wrote to me, saying that I must be careful not to overwork him, and that it would be well not to let him go more than two hours without food—a glass of milk, or, better still, a cup of beef-tea in the afternoon, and half an hour after lunch he was to have a glass of sherry and a biscuit. These refreshments were brought up by Gantley, Edward's octogenarian butler, and every time I heard his foot upon the stairs I offered up a little prayer that Edward was away in his tower, for, of course, I realised that the tray would bring home to him in a very real and cruel way the fact that his play was being changed and rewritten under his very roof, and that he was providing sherry and biscuits in order to enable Yeats to strike out, or, worse still, to rewrite his favourite passages. It was very pathetic; and while pitying and admiring Edward for his altruism, I could not help thinking of two children threading a bluebottle. True that the bluebottle's plight is worse than Edward's, for the insect does not know why it is being experimented upon, but Edward knew he was sacrificing himself for his country, and the idea of sacrifice begets a great exaltation of mind, is in fact, a sort of anaesthetic; and sustained by this belief we, Yeats and I, worked on through the day, Yeats tarrying as late as seven o'clock in order to finish a scene, Edward asking him to stay to dinner, a kindness that proved our undoing, for we lacked tact, discussing before Edward the alterations we were going to make. He sat immersed in deep gloom, saying he did not like our adaptation of the first act, and when we told him the alterations we were going to make in the second, he said:

(p. 213) But you surely aren't going to alter that? Why do you do this? Good heavens! I wouldn't advise you—

Yeats looked at him sternly, as a schoolmaster looks at a small boy, and next morning Edward told me that he was going to Dublin, adding that I had better come with him. On my mentioning that I expected Yeats that afternoon, he said that he would write, telling him of his decision, and a note came from Lady Gregory in the course of the afternoon, saying that she was leaving Coole. Would it be convenient to Edward to allow Yeats to stay at Tillyra for a few days by himself? He would like to continue the composition of The Shadowy Waters in Galway.

Lady Gregory's request seemed to me an extraordinary one to make in the present circumstances, and it seemed still more extraordinary that Edward should have granted it, and without a moment's hesitation, as if Yeats's literary arrogance had already dropped out of his memory. Such self-effacement as this was clearly a matter for psychological inquiry, and I turned Edward over in my mind many times before I discovered that his self-effacement should be attributed to patriotism rather than to natural amiability. He believed Yeats to be Ireland's poet, and to refuse to shelter him might rob Ireland of a masterpiece, a responsibility which he did not care to face.

Extraordinary! I said to myself, and as in a vision I saw Ireland as a god demanding human sacrifices, and everybody, or nearly everybody, crying: Take me, Ireland, take me; I am unworthy, but accept me as a burnt-offering. Ever since I have been in the country I have heard people speaking of working for Ireland. But how can one work for Ireland without working for oneself? What do they mean? They do not know themselves, but go on vainly sacrificing all personal achievement, humiliating themselves before Ireland as if the country were a god. A race inveterately religious I suppose it must be! And these sacrifices continue generation after generation. Something in the land itself inspires them. And I began to tremble lest the terrible Cathleen ni Houlihan might overtake me. She had come out of that arid plain, out of the mist, to tempt me, to soothe me into forgetfulness that it is the plain duty of every Irishman to disassociate himself from all memories of Ireland—Ireland being a fatal disease, fatal to Englishmen and doubly fatal to Irishmen. Ireland is in my family. My grand-uncle lay in prison condemned to death for treason; my father wasted his life in the desert of national politics. It is said that the custom of every fell disease is to skip a generation, and up to the present it had seemed that I conformed to the rule. But did I? If I did not, some great calamity awaited me, and I remembered that the middle-aged may not change their point of view. To do so is decadence.

(p. 214) XII

A room had been hired at the Shelbourne Hotel, and the mornings were spent writing The Bending of the Bough It could be finished in the next three weeks if I fortuned upon somebody who could explain the various sections and parties in Irish politics, all striving for mastery at that time; somebody acquainted enough with the country to unravel the Lord Castletown incident, and expound the Healy problem, the O'Brien problem, the Redmond problem, and the great many other political problems with which the play is beset.

There is little use in writing when there is no clear vision in the mind; the pen stops of its own accord, and I often rose from my chair and walked about the room, my feet at last finding their way through the hotel, and down the street as far as the Kildare Street Club, to ask Edward if he would tell me. He would tell me nothing. His present to the Irish Literary Theatre was his play, and I was free to alter it as I pleased, putting the last act first and the first act last, but he would not help me to alter it; and it was impossible not to feel that it was reasonable for him to refuse.

What do you think of the title—The Bending of the Bough?

The Tale of a Town is a better title. And after some heated words we left the Club one evening together. You must sign the play, he said, turning suddenly.

I sign the play! I answered, all my literary vanity ablaze. No; but I'll put adapted from.

I'll have no adaptations; I'll have nothing to do with your version; and he wrenched himself free from me, leaving me to go my way, thinking that here was nothing for it but to sign a work that was not mine. I, too, am sacrificing to Cathleen ni Houlihan; one sacrifice brings many. And to escape from the hag whom I could see wrapped in a faded shawl, her legs in grey worsted stockings, her feet in brogues, I packed my trunk and went away by the mail-boat laughing at myself, and at the same time not quite sure that she was not still at my heels. Cathleen follows her sons across the seas; and she did not seem to be very far away in the morning in Victoria Street, while Edward's play was before me. After writing some lines of vituperation quite in the Irish style, I would lay down the pen and cry: Cathleen, art thou satisfied with me? And it seemed an exquisite joke to voice Ireland's woes, until one day I stopped in Ebury Street, abashed; for it was not a victory for our soldiers that I desired to read in the paper just bought from the boy who had rushed past me, yelling News from the Front, (p. 215) but one for the Boers. The war was forgotten, and I walked on slowly, frightened lest this sudden and inexplicable movement of soul should be something more than a merely accidental mental vacillation.

It may be no more, and it may be that I am changing, I whispered under my breath; and then, charging myself with faint-heartedness and superstition, I walked on, trying to believe that I should be myself again next morning.

It was a bad sign to lie awake all night, thinking of what happened in Ebury Street the evening before, and asking if I really did desire that the Boers should win the fight and keep their country; and it was a worse sign to read without interest headlines announcing a forward movement of our troops. On turning over the pages, a rumour (it was given as a rumour) that the Boers were retreating northward caught my eye; the paper was thrown aside, and an hour was spent wondering why the paper had been tossed aside so negligently. Was it because I had become, without knowing it, Pro-Boer? That was it, for next morning, on reading that five hundred of our troops had been taken prisoners, I was swept away by a great joy, and it was a long time before I could recover sufficient calm of mind to ask myself the reason of all this sympathy for illiterate farmers speaking a Dutch dialect in which no book had yet been written; a people without any sentiment of art, without a past, without folklore, and therefore, in some respect, a less reputable people than the Irish. I had seen some finely designed swords in the Dublin Museum, forged, without doubt, in the late Bronze Age, and Coffey had shown me the splendid bits that the ancient Irish put into their horses' jaws. There was the monkish Book of Kells, a beautiful thing in a way; the Cross of Cong was made in Roscommon, and by an Irish artist; it bears the name of its maker, an Irish name, so there can be no doubt as to its nationality. There are some fine legends, the rudiments of a literature that had not been carried into culture, the Irish not being a thinking race ... perhaps.

After that I must have fallen into a deep lethargy. On awakening, I remembered the autumn evening in Edward's park, when Cathleen ni Houlihan rose out of the plain that lies at the foot of the Burran Mountains, and came, foot-sore and weary, up through the beech-grove to me. I had not the heart to repulse her, so hapless did she seem; nor did I remember the danger of listening to her till I had stood before Edward telling him the story of the meeting in the park.

It is dangerous, I had said to him, to listen to Cathleen even for a moment; she has brought no good luck or good health to any one.

The morning paper was picked up from the hearthrug, and the news of the capture of our troops read again and again, the same thrill of joy coming into my heart. The Englishman that was in me (he that wrote (p. 216) Esther Waters) had been overtaken and captured by the Irishman. Strange, for all my life had been lived in England. When I went to Ireland I always experienced a sense of being a stranger in my own country, and, like many another Irishman, had come to think that I was immune from the disease that overtakes all Irishmen sooner or later—that moment in Edward's park was enough for me, and ever since the disease had been multiplying in secret: the incident in Ebury Street was only a symptom.... A moment after I was asking myself if the microbe were sown that evening in Edward's park, or if the introduction of it could be traced back to the afternoon in Victoria Street, when Edward and Yeats had called to ask me to join in their attempt to give a National Literary Theatre to Ireland. It might be traced further back still, to the evening in the Temple when Edward had told me that he would like to write his plays in Irish; and there arose up in me the memory of that midnight when I wandered among the courts and halls, dreaming of Ireland, of the story of wild country life that I might write.

It was then that I caught the disease, I said; a sort of spiritual consumption; it was then that the microbe first got into my soul and ate away most of it without my being aware of its presence, or of the ravages caused by it, until the greater part of me collapsed in Ebury Street.

And what was still more serious was that out of the wreck and rubble of my former self a new self had arisen. It could not be that the old self that had worshipped pride, strength, courage, and egoism should now crave for justice and righteousness, and should pause to consider humility and obedience as virtues, and might be moved to advocate chastity tomorrow. Such a thing could not be. A new self had grown up within me, or had taken possession of me. It is hard to analyse a spiritual transformation; one knows little about oneself; life is mysterious. Only this can I say for certain, that I learnt then that ideas are as necessary to us as our skins; and, like one that has been flayed, I sat wondering whether new ideas would clothe me again, until a piece of burning coal falling from the grate into the fender awoke me from my reverie. When I had put it back among the live embers, I said: My past life crumbles away like that piece of coal; in a few moments it will be all gone from me, and my new self will then be alone in me, and powerful enough to lead me into a new life. Into what life will it lead me? Into what Christianity?

I wandered across the room to consult the looking-glass, curious to know if the great spiritual changes that were happening in me were recognisable upon my face; but the mirror does not give back characteristic expression, and to find out whether the expression of my face had changed I should have to consult my portrait-painters: Steer, Tonks, and Sickert would be able to tell me. And that night at Steer's, after (p. 217) a passionate protest against the wickedness and the stupidity of the Boer War delivered across his dining-table, I got up and walked round the room, feeling myself to be unlike the portraits they had painted of me, every one of which had been done before the war. The external appearance no doubt remained, but the acquisition of a moral conscience must have modified it. As I was about to launch my question on the company, I caught sight of the little black eyes that Steer screws up when he looks at anything; all the other features are insignificant; the eyes are all that one notices, and the full, sleek outlines of the face. His shoulders slope a little, like mine, and the body is long, and the large feet shuffle down the street in goloshes if the weather be wet, and in the studio in carpet slippers. Long white hands droop from his cuffs—hands that I remember carrying canvases from one easel to another. Tonks is lank and long in every limb, and one remembers him as a herring-gutted fellow, with a high bridge on his nose; and one remembers him much more for the true, honest heart that always goes with his appearance. I could see that he sympathised with the Boer women and children dying in concentration camps, and that Steer was thinking of the pictures he had brought home from the country. It was shameful that any one should be able to think of pictures at such a time, but Steer takes no interest in morals; his world is an external world; and I abandoned myself somewhat cowardly to his pictures till the end of the evening, thinking all the while that Tonks would understand my perplexities better, and that the time to speak to him would be when we walked home together.

Steer's pictures are the best he has done, Tonks said, as soon as we had left our friend's doorstep, and he asked me if I liked the wooded hillside better than the ruins.

I can't talk of pictures just now, Tonks. The war has put pictures clean out of my head, and I don't mind telling you that Steer's indifference to everything except his values has disgusted me. I don't know if you noticed it, I hardly looked at anything. Were you interested?

Well, Moore, I can always admire Steer's pictures, but it is difficult to detach oneself from the war to admire them sufficiently. I'm sure we shall admire his work more at some other time; so far I am with you.

Only as far as that? Can't you see that the war has changed me utterly?

I can see that you take it very much to heart.

I don't mean that, Tonks; it seems to me to have changed me outwardly. I can't believe that I present the same appearance. After all, it is the mind that makes the man. Tell me, hasn't the war put a new look on my face?

When you mention it, you change; there's no doubt about it, you seem a different person. I'll say that.

(p. 218) Do tell me. And Tonks tried to describe the scowl that overspreads my face.

I'll do a drawing of it, and then you'll see. You glare at us across the dinner-table. Steer and I were talking about it only yesterday, and Steer said: Moore looks like that when he remembers we are Englishmen. Now, isn't it so?

I shouldn't like to say it wasn't, though it seems silly to admit it. You don't approve of the war, do you, Tonks?

I think it is a very unfortunate affair.

Those concentration camps!

At the words the kind melancholy of the surgeon appeared in Tonks's face. He was a surgeon before he was a painter, and, seeing that he was genuinely afflicted, I told him the Ebury Street episode, and my fears lest my life had been changed, and radically, and that there was no place now in it for admiration of pictures or of literature.

But what will you do, my dear Moore? Tonks asked, his voice tight with sympathy.

I don't know; anything may happen to me, for I don't think as I used to. When it is assumed that justice must give way to expediency, concentration camps are established and women and children kept prisoners so that they may die of typhoid and enteric.

No, Moore, it isn't as bad as that. They couldn't be left on the veldt; we had to do something with the women and children.

Tonks, I'm ashamed of you! After having burnt down their houses you had to keep them, and as it would be an advantage to you to destroy the Boer race, you keep them in concentration camps where they drop off like flies.

Now, my dear Moore, I'm not going to quarrel with you. I'm quite ready to admit—

When I think of it I feel as if I were going mad, and that I must do something. This evening when I jumped up from my chair and walked about the room I could hardly keep myself from breaking Steer's Chelsea china; those shepherds and shepherdesses were too cynical. Men and women in roses and ribbons twanging guitars! Why—

Of course, I can see what you mean, but I can't help laughing when you say you were tempted to break Steer's Chelsea figures.

It is easy, Tonks, to see an absurdity; very little intelligence is required for that; much more is required to see the abomination of—At that moment we were joined by Sickert. He had stopped behind to exchange a few words with Steer.

You really shouldn't, Sickert, Tonks said. The last time you detained him on the doorstep he was laid up with influenza.

An attack of influenza! And thousands of women and children kept (p. 219) prisoners in concentration camps—children without milk to drink; water, perhaps, from springs fouled with the staling of mules!

But if we had Steer laid up, what would happen to the models? Sickert asked. One is coming at ten tomorrow. Who would support the models? Would you? And the New English Art Club without a work by Steer! Six feet by four; a fine Old English prospect with a romantic castle in the foreground. An august site. As soon as the war is over, one of those sites will be bought for the Pretoria Art Gallery, and the tax-payer will be charged an extra halfpenny in the pound for improving the intellectual status of the Kaffirs, which will be indefinitely raised.

There was a moment's hesitation between anger and laughter, but no one is angry when Sickert is by. He has kept in middle age a great deal of his youth, and during dinner I had noticed that not a streak of grey showed in the thick rippling shock of yellow-brown hair. The golden moustache has been shaved away, and the long mouth and closely set lips give him a distinct clerical look. There was always something of the cleric and the actor in him, I thought, as I overlooked his new appearance, drawing conclusions from the special bowler-hat of French shape that he wore. He had just come over from Dieppe and his trousers were French corduroy, amazingly peg-top, and the wide braid on the coat recalled 1860. He was, at this time, addicted to 1860, living in a hotel in the Tottenham Court Road in which all the steads were four-posted and all the beds feather, and he was full of contempt for Steer's collection of Chelsea china, and in favour of wax fruit and rep curtains, and advocated heavy mahogany sideboards.

He was as Pro-Boer as myself, with less indignation and more wit, and Tonks and I yielded that night, as we always do, to the charm of his whimsical imagination, and we laughed when he said:

Our latest casualties are the capture of four hundred Piccadilly dandies who had been foolish enough to go out to fight the veterans of the veldt. They were stripped of their clothes, patted on their backs, and sent home to camp in silk fleshings and embroidered braces.... Hope Bros., Regent Street.

Sickert's wide, shaven lip laughed, and he looked so like himself in his overcoat and his French bowler-hat that we walked for some yards delighting in his personality—Tonks a little hurt, but pleased all the same, myself treasuring up each contemptuous word for further use, and considering at which of my friends' houses the repetition of Sickert's wit would give most offence.

Tonks bade us goodnight in the King's Road. Sickert came on with me; his way took him through Victoria Street, and we stopped outside my doorway drawn into tense communion by our detestation of the war.

I'm so glad to have met you after this long while, he said, for I (p. 220) wanted to know if you held the same opinion of Mr Gladstone. Do you remember how we used to laugh at him? Now we see what a great man he was.

England is, at present, the ugliest country. Oh, I have changed towards England. I try to forget that I once thought differently, for when I remember myself (my former self) I hate myself as much as I hate England.

Doesn't the lack of humour in the newspapers surprise you? This morning I read in the Pall Mall that we are an Imperial people, and being an Imperial people we must think Imperially, and presumably do everything else Imperially. Splendid, isn't it? Everything, the apple trees included, must be Imperial. We won't eat apples except Imperial apples, and the trees are conjured to bear no others, but the apple trees go on flowering and bearing the same fruit as before, and Sickert burst into joyous laughter in which I joined.

We bade each other good night, and I went up to my bed looking forward to the morning paper. Which may bring us some further news of the Piccadilly dandies, I muttered into my pillow.

In old times my servant would find me in my drawing-room looking at a picture that I had bought a few days before at Christie's, or at one that had been some time in my possession, uncertain whether I liked it as much as last year; but, as I told Tonks, art and literature had ceased to interest me, and now she found me every morning in the dining-room reading the paper. The morning after Steer's dinner-party she came upon me in a very exultant mood. Another win for the Boers, I told her, and took the paper back to bed with me, thinking how I should go down and humiliate my tobacconist. The day before he had said: Buller has trapped the Boers; we shall see a change within the next few days. He was right. A very nice change, too, and I went out to ask him if he had any new cigars that would suit me. I did not like his cigars, and told him so after a ten minutes' discussion as to the reason for our defeat at Spion Kop. From the tobacconist's I went to the Stores in the hope of waylaying a friend or two there. A lady that I knew very well always shopped there in the morning, and it would be only a kindness to advise her to take her money out of South African mines.

Parents take pleasure in putting a horrible powder called Gregory into a spoon, and covering it with jam, and telling the unfortunate child that he must swallow it; and that afternoon I called on all my friends, taking a grim pleasure in watching their faces while I assured them that the recall of our troops would be the wisest thing we could do.

Love of cruelty is inveterate in the human being, and remembering this, remorse would sometimes overtake me in the street, and a passionate resolution surge up not to offend again, and it often happened to (p. 221) me to go to another house to approve myself; but some chance phrase would set me talking again; my tongue could not be checked, not even when the lady, to distract my attention from De Wet, asked my opinion of some picture or knick-knack. She did not succeed any better when she strove to engage my attention by an allusion to a book. Not only books and pictures had lost interest for me, but human characteristics; opinions were what I demanded, and from everybody. I remember coming from the North of England in company with a prosaic middle-aged man who had brought into the carriage with him for his relaxation three newspapers—the Builder, the Athenaeum, and Vanity Fair—and in the long journey from Darlington to London I watched him taking up these papers, one after the other, and reading them with the same attention. At any other time I should have been eager to make the acquaintance of one who could find something to interest him in these papers and should have been much disappointed if I did not succeed in becoming intimate with him by the end of the journey. But, strange as it will seem to the reader, who by this time has begun to know me, I am forced to admit that I was only anxious to hear his opinion of the war, and my curiosity becoming at last intolerable, I interrupted his architectural, social, or literary meditation with the statement that the Daily Telegraph contained some very grave news. Two eyes looked at me over spectacles, and on the phrase, Well, the war was bound to come sooner or later, we began to argue, and it was not until we reached Finsbury Park—he got out there—that I remembered I had forgotten to ask him if he were a constant reader of the three newspapers that he rolled up and put away carefully into a black bag.

The incident is one among hundreds of similar incidents, all pointing to the same fact that nothing but the war interested me as a subject of conversation or of thought. Every day the obsession became more terrible, and the surrender of my sanity more imminent. I shall try to tell the story as it happened, but I fear that some of it will escape my pen; yet it is all before me clear as my reflection in the glass: that evening, for instance, when I walked with a friend through Berkeley Square and fell out with my friend's appearance, so English did it seem to me, for he wore his clothes arrogantly; yet it was not his clothes so much as his sheeplike face that angered me. We were dining at the same house that night, and on looking round the dinner-table I saw the same sheep in everybody, in the women as much as in the men. Next day in Piccadilly I caught sight of it in every passer-by; every man and woman seemed to wear it, and everybody's bearing and appearance suggested to me a repugnant, sensual cosmopolitanism; a heartless lust for gold was read by me in their faces—for the goldfields of Pretoria which they haven't gotten yet, and never will get, I hope.

(p. 222) In the dusk, England seemed to rise up before me in person, a shameful and vulgar materialism from which I turned with horror, and this passionate revolt against England was aggravated by memories of my former love of England, and, do what I would, I could not forget that I had always met in England a warm heart, a beautiful imagination, firmness and quiet purpose. But I just had to forget that I ever thought well of England, or to discover that I had been mistaken in England. To bring the point as clearly as I may before the reader, I will ask him to think of a man who has lived happily and successfully with a woman for many years, and suddenly discovers her to be a criminal or guilty of some infidelity towards him; to be, at all events, one whose conduct and capacities are not those with which he had credited her. As his suspicions multiply, the beauties which he once read in her face and figure fade, and her deportment becomes aggressive, till she can no longer cross the room without exciting angry comment in his mind. A little later he finds that he cannot abide in the house, so offensive is it to him; the disposition of the furniture reminds him of her; and one day the country through which they used to walk together turns so distasteful that he longs to take the train and quit it for ever. How the change has been accomplished he does not know, and wonders. The hills and the woods compose the landscape as they did before, but the poetry has gone out of them; no gleam of sunlight plays along the hillsides for him, and no longer does the blue hill rise up far away like a land out of which dreams come and whither they go. The world exists only in our ideas of it, and as my idea of England changed England died, so far as I was concerned; an empty materialism was all I could see around me; and with this idea in my mind my eyes soon saw London as a great sprawl of brick on either side of a muddy river without a statue that one could look upon with admiration.

And then I grew interested in my case, and went for long walks with a view to discovering how much I had been deceived, taking a certain bitter pleasure in noticing that Westminster Abbey was not comparable to Notre Dame (nobody ever thought it was, but that was a matter that did not concern me); Westminster was merely an echo of French genius, the church that a Norman King had built in a provincial city; and, going up Parliament Street, I shook my head over my past life, for there had been a time when the Horse Guards had seemed no mean structure. The National Gallery was compared to the Madeleine and to the Bourse; St Martin's Church roused me to special anger, and I went down the Strand wondering how any one who had seen the beautiful French churches could admire it. I walked past St Clement Danes, thinking it at best a poor thing. The Temple Church was built by Normans, and it pleased me to remember that there were no avenues (p. 223) in London, no great boulevards. There are parks in London, but they have not been laid out. Hyde Park is no more than a great enclosure, and St James's Park, which used to awaken such delicate sympathies in my heart as I stood on the bridge, seemed to me in 1900 a rather foolish counterfeit, shamming some French model, I said. The detestable race has produced nothing original; not one sculptor, nor a great painter, except, perhaps, John Millais. He came from one of the Channel Islands. A Frenchman! If English painting can be repudiated, English literature cannot: Shakespeare, Shelley, and Wordsworth—above all Shelley, whose poetry I loved more than anything else in the world. Was he free from the taint of England?

The question occupied my thoughts one evening all the way home, and after dinner I took down a volume and read, or looked through, the last act of Prometheus. I cast my eyes over The Sensitive Plant; it might have been beautiful once, but all the beauty seemed to have faded out of it, and I could discover none in the Ode to the West Wind. Nor did any of the hymns interest me, not even the Hymn of Pan, the most beautiful lyric in the world. My indifference to English poetry extended to the language itself; English seemed to me to lack consistency that evening—a woolly language without a verbal system or agreement between the adjectives and nouns. So did I rave until, wearied of finding fault with everything English, my thoughts melted away into memories of the French poets.


It would be better to get away from London and waste no more time joining people in their walks, to try to persuade them that London was an ugly city, or to wring some admission from them that the Boer War was shameful, and that England was on her knees, out-fought, vanquished by a few thousand Boers, about as many able-bodied men as one would find in the Province of Connaught.

It was in such empty conflict of opinion that I had been engaged yesterevening all the way along the King's Road, having button-holed a little journalist as he came out of Sloane Square railway-station. He seemed to be laughing at me when we parted, somewhere in the Grosvenor Road, and I had returned home full of the conviction that I must get away from opinions. My condition would welcome a pastoral country, and a vision of a shepherd following his flock rose before my eyes. The essential was a country unpolluted by opinions, and hoping to find this in Sussex, I got into the train at Victoria one afternoon, rapt in a memory of some South Saxon folk that lived in an Italian house under the downs.

(p. 224) They had come into my life when I was a boy, and had been always the single part of me that had never changed; ideas had come and gone, but they had remained, and it was pleasant to ponder on this friendship as I returned to them and to seek out the secret reason of my love of these people—the very last that anybody would expect to find me among. So it was clear that there was nothing superficial in our affection; it was at the roots of our nature, and I could only think that I had not wearied of these South Saxons because they were so like themselves, exemplars of a long history, a great tradition; and as the train passed through Hayward's Heath I could see them coming over with Hengist and Horsa. Ever since they had been on their land, cultivating it, till it had taken on their likeness, or else they had taken on the likeness of the land. Which had happened I did not know, nor did it matter much. Hundreds of —— had come and gone, but the type remained, affirming itself in habits and customs.

It is my love of what is permanent that has drawn me to them again and again, I said, and I thought of that sweet returning, when, coming back from France after a pursuit of painting through the Latin Quarter and Montmartre, I had met Golville in Regent Street; and without reproaching me for my long desertion, he had asked me when it would be convenient for me to come down to Sussex to see them. All my love of them had sprung up on the instant, and we had gone away together that very afternoon. My visit, intended to last for two or three days, had lasted two or three years ... perhaps more.

One reads one's past life like a book out of which some pages have been torn and many mutilated, and among many scattered and broken sentences I come upon a paragraph telling of a summer which I spent in Southwick, writing the Confessions of a Young Man, in a lodging overlooking the green. We all remember that wonderful Jubilee summer, when the corn was harvested at the end of July; and nearly every evening of summer-time I had followed the winding road under the downs until I came to a corner where the sunk fence could be climbed. As I walked across the park I could see the lights in the dining-room. Kind, homely, hospitable folk, always glad to see me, among whom the pleasantest years of my life were passed; so it is a pity that so much text should be missing or indecipherable. A continuous narrative is not discoverable until the evening when Colville brought back two Belgian hares, and asked his mother to look after them. I recall our first solicitudes, our eagerness to poke lettuces into their hutch; and when some young rabbits appeared there was no end to our enthusiasm.

Colville's project of a rabbit-farm was largely his mother's, I think; be this as it may, by identifying herself with it she had persuaded herself at the end of two years that she alone could feed rabbits. It was plain to (p. 225) us she was working beyond her strength; there could be no doubt about that, and very often I would plead my right to reprove her and take a heavy barrowful of turnips out of her hands, and insist on wheeling it across the garden into the rabbit-yard. Everybody knows how quickly rabbits breed; before three years were out there were four hundred rabbits in the yard; one could hardly walk into it for fear of treading on the little ones; the outhouses were absorbed one by one, and in the fourth year there were rabbit-hutches in the stables, in the coal-and in the wood-sheds, and we used to say that in another six months they would be in the kitchen and coming up the stairs into the drawing-room, if the masons that were building Colville's house on the downs and the maker of the iron hurdles at Wolverhampton did not hasten. And every time Colville returned from London he was asked if he had been able to extract a definite promise from his ironmonger. At last the poor man, plagued and frightened, went himself to Wolverhampton, and came back joyful, saying that the manager at the works had given him special assurances that we might look forward to the exportation of the rabbits to the downs at the end of the month. The end of the month seemed a long while off, but we understood that if the rabbits were turned out on the downs before the ground was enclosed, the stoats and the foxes would get a great number, and poachers the rest. A poaching raid would certainly be organised at Beading, and the labour of years would be wasted.

The last delay was happily not a long one; a few weeks afterwards the house was declared ready to receive us, and the rabbits went away in several vans, Colville and I following on foot, talking, as we went by Thunders Barrow Barn, of the great fortune that always lay about waiting to be picked up by the adventurous.

Again a great gap comes in my narrative. Memory chooses to retain certain scenes and to allow others to perish, and her choice often seems arbitrary and unreasonable. Why should I, for instance, remember Knight, the keeper at Freshcombe Lodge? A spare, silent man is before me as I write, and in my memory he still goes about his work just as he used to do twenty years ago. He strides along, a typical gamekeeper, stopping by the thorn tree to see if there is anything in his traps. A red and white animal is struggling in one of them, and is killed with a blow of his stick and hung up in the thorn-tree, Knight saying that the young stoats will come there looking round after her, and that he expects to get the whole litter by the end of the week.

Every morning as I sat at my window writing I used to see Knight taking food to the great mastiff that was kept some twenty yards from the house: a poor silent animal, always on a chain, to whom the glory of strangling a poacher never came. Colville bought a bloodhound; it (p. 226) was thought she might be useful for tracking, but she was a useless, timid bitch, to whom we could never teach anything, but some of her puppies learned to follow a trail in Freshcombe Bottom. Close to the house there were ten couples of beagles—hard, wiry, blue-haired beagles; and all these are forgotten but Sailor Lad, who could find his way over any fence, and would put his nose down and trail a rabbit when he could run no faster than a hedgehog. We all loved him for his cleverness, and waited eagerly for the first shooting, feeling sure that would lead the pack; but Sailor Lad was gun-shy.

The squire and I were very fair shots; we could be counted upon to shoot well forward, hitting the rabbit in the head, spoiling him as little as possible for the market; but, in spite of our careful shooting, Colville soon found that the profit that could be made on shot rabbits would not pay the interest of the large sum of money that had been spent on the house and hurdles. He determined to make an end of the shooting-parties, and told me one night how he thought the rabbits might be netted. The furze must be planted in strips with eighty yards of feeding-ground between each strip. The rabbits would leave the furze at dawn, and the nets could be lifted. It would not be difficult to invent some mechanism to lift them quickly, so that the rabbits would not have time to get back into the furze.

But the replanting of the furze, I said, would keep the whole of the Sussex militia at work for—

I was about to say for ten years, but Colville, interrupting me, said that he did not propose the work should be done all at once, and I answered that I hoped he did not propose to himself any such job. It is not wise to argue with a man who has just risen from an unsatisfactory examination of his accounts, and later, after some tactless advice of mine to leave such matters as the catching of the rabbits to his keeper, he lost his temper, and, rushing to the door threw it open and begged of me to retire to my own apartments.

When he called me down to breakfast next morning I heard a tremor in his voice, and after some injudicious attempt at explanation we seemed to come to a tacit understanding that it would be better to let the matter drop. He was very wrathful, his temper had been sorely tried, and for a week at least I am sure that I must have seemed to him a cruel, unsympathetic fellow. It is not to be doubted that I was in fault. But Colville could not see that it was my overflowing sympathy that prevented me from observing that rule of conduct which must be observed if two men would live together; each must keep from asking the other questions, and from criticising the other's projects. It would have been interesting to debate this point with him, but Colville was not much interested at any time in criticism of the human mind. He had (p. 227) an ear, however, for music, and whistled beautifully going up and down stairs; and a few days after, hearing that the nightingales were singing in the coombe, we went out to listen to them.

In yon thorn you'll find him, Knight said, and we moved on quietly till we came within sight of the insignificant brown bird that had just arrived, possibly from Algeria. Not a wind stirred in the tall grass, nor was there a cloud in the sky; a dim gold fading into grey and into blue, darkening overhead. A ghostly moon floated in the south, and the blue sailless sea was wound about the shoulders of the hills like a scarf. A fairer evening never breathed upon this world, nor did a lovelier prospect ever enchant human eyes, and Golville and I sat, a twain enchanted. It was one of those evenings when confidences rise to the lips, and Colville, as if to show me that he had forgotten our quarrel, confided new projects to me. In years to come he hoped to fill the coombes with apple trees; they would cost from half a crown to three and sixpence apiece to buy, and in some twenty years or more orchards would blossom every May from Thunders Barrow Barn all the way to the foot of the downs.

My imagination was touched, and we returned through the blue dusk delighted with each other, fearful lest our lives should not continue to be lived at Freshcombe till the end; we may have even dreamed of our graves under the apple boughs, and when we reached the top of the hill we had reached also the top of our friendship.

A few days afterwards the evenings began to seem a little tedious; all I had to say to Colville I had said, for the time being, at least, and his sisters and his mother and his father, whom I loved well, were always glad to see me, and the walk was pleasant along the hillsides, and it was pleasant to enter that Italian house under the ilex trees and to find them all glad of my company. The squire liked me to stay on after dinner to play billiards with him, and to keep to the sheep path without missing it on a dark night was difficult, so I was often persuaded to stay the night. These visits became more numerous, and I went to London more frequently. Life, although pleasant at the top and at the foot of the downs, was too restricted in view for the purpose of my literature. If one wants to write, one has to live where writing is being done, I said, and again I left my friends, this time for a still longer absence, and I might never have returned to them if the Boer War had not brought me down to Sussex to find out if there were anything in England, in the country, in the people with which I could still sympathise.

The train that I was returning to my friends by did not pass through Brighton, but came through Preston Park by what is known as the loop-line, and as we approached Shoreham my thoughts were bent on that house far away among the hills. It was not likely that I should find (p. 228) Colville as Pro-Boer as myself; his long militia service would render an active Pro-Boer policy impossible, but he might regard the war as a mistake; and, feeling myself to be in a distinctly reasonable mood, I decided that if Colville would agree to regard the war as a mistake we might come to terms.

About a quarter of a mile lay between their house and the station, and up that straight road I walked, wondering if a great deal of my admiration for the country might be attributed to my love of the people who lived at the foot of those hills, and catching sight of a somewhat shapeless line, nowise beautiful in itself, I said: It may be so; but the downs must not be judged by one hillside. The squire will lend me a horse, and over to Findan I will go tomorrow. Only after a long ride shall I know if I still love the downs. And as this resolution formed in my mind I heard the squire calling me.

He was on the top of the stile, coming out of the corn-field, and it was pleasant to see him cross it so easily, and to see him still dressed in breeches and gaiters, hale as an old tree, and not unlike one—just as spare and as rugged. He gave me a hand covered with a hard reddish skin, like bark, and the shy smile that I knew so well trickled down his wide mouth.

We walked on together in delightful sympathy, but had not gone very far when we caught sight of Colville coming down the drove-way, walking very fast, his shoulders set well back, his toes turned out militia fashion. As the drove-way led only to the downs, it could hardly have been otherwise than that he had been to Freshcombe, so I asked after the rabbits. He said that he was thinking of letting the place, and his voice and manner left me in no doubt that he did not wish to talk about business, a thing that never happens when business is going well with a man. It may, therefore, have been to escape from further questions that he begged me to excuse him if he walked on in front, saying he had some letters to write which he wished to go away by the night's post. But he had not gone very far when the squire said, in that low, sad voice which is the best part of my recollection of him, that Colly had gone to work too expensively, and had left too many rabbits on the ground. All my sympathy was aroused on the instant, but the squire's talk was always in sudden remarks, and as he required a long silence between each, we had passed through the gate leading to the lawn before he spoke again. Something was preparing in his mind, but before he could utter it we met Florence and Dulcie, whom I had hitherto thought of as blonde Saxon girls; they were now middle-aged women, Dulcie looking as old as Florence, though younger by a couple of years; silent women, a little abrupt in their speech, more like their father than their mother.

(p. 229) Their mother's portrait might be introduced into the present text if it had not been written years ago and published in a volume entitled Memoirs of My Dead Life. My portrait is too long for quotation; it cannot be curtailed by me, at least; and paraphrase is out of the question to a man who has written something that he felt deeply, and written, he thinks, truly. The pages entitled A Remembrance would have enhanced any charm that my narrative may have, but the omission cannot be avoided. My reader must read them in the Memoirs, and I doubt not that when he has read them he will ask himself the question which I am now asking myself: would her gay, kindly mind have saved me from the folly of talking of the Boer War during dinner? If he has learned to know me at all, he will probably think she would have failed. The fact that I had come down to Sussex to escape from opinions did not save me from talking of the value of small nationalities before the soup tureen was removed from the table, and to the dear squire, who thought without circumlocutions. It was enough for him to know that his country was at war. He answered: My dear Rory, the Boers invaded our territory, and he sat holding a piece of cake in both his hands, as if he were afraid that somebody would take it from him. As he munched it he kept his eyes fixed on the cake itself with an expression on his face that plainly read, I'll have another piece presently. Golville and I had often noticed this little trick of his, and had laughed over it.

The charm of domestic life is its intensity; each learns to know the other in his or her every peculiarity, physical and mental. We had often noticed the squire's habit of waggling his foot from time to time when he lay back in his armchair in the billiard-room after dinner, purling at his pipe in silence. Colville had drawn my attention to it, and to the old slippers and the grey socks. Colville was a friendly fellow, with a good deal of the squire's natural kindness in him and a disposition for a pleasant talk; but when I went to —— for this last time I found him immersed in his accounts and in himself, to the exclusion of the Boer War and the mistakes of the English Generals. So preoccupied was he with the business of his farm that as soon as he had finished his pipe he went to his brown-paper parcel, which he untied, and produced his diary, saying that his entries were in arrear; and begging of us to excuse him, he began his preparations for transcribing his life. They were always the same: first he sought for scribbling-paper, and taking his letters from his breast pocket he utilised the envelopes, cutting them open carefully. It took him some time to unclasp his penknife, and to sharpen the pencil with which he drafted out the events of the last three days. He then tramped out of the room, his toes well turned out, returning with pen and ink and blotting-paper. The diary was unlocked, and (p. 230) getting it well before him he copied his notes in a caligraphy that would have honoured a medieval scrivener.

Rory, what has become of the chest of cigars?

With this remark the squire broke the silence abruptly and laughed—timidly, for he was conscious of a change in the atmosphere. All the same, he laughed, for he liked to remember how on the occasion of my first visit he had offered me a cheroot, but I had gone upstairs saying, Perhaps you would like one of my cigars, and returned with an oaken chest containing about a thousand of all kinds. My visit was only for a few days, and in the squire's recollection I had said: Well, you see, one can only carry half a dozen cigars in a case, and if one brings a box one never knows if any one will care for that brand, so I thought it safer to bring the chest. And when the squire spoke of this chest of cigars of thirty years ago, he never failed to speak of my adventure that very same evening at Shoreham Gardens, whither I had insisted on going, though Colville had refused to accompany me, and strove to dissuade me with the report that on Saturday nights it was frequented by London roughs come down for the day; I would get myself into trouble certainly. But I had gone to the Gardens and the family had sat up, anxious for my safety, and great indeed was the commotion when I returned about midnight with a long tale of adventure and an eye that would be black in the morning. My friends cherished these stories, which had lost all interest for me, and the squire's next anecdote I had clean forgotten: how on the Monday I had peppered his keeper at eighty yards because he persisted in paunching rabbits while still alive, though I had told him I did not approve of such cruelty. Some hunting anecdotes, in which Colville had a share, were added, and a little later we went to our several beds, myself depressed and hopeless, anxious to forget in sleep that I had been unable to keep the Boer War out of the conversation.

Sleep closed over me, and next morning I awoke thinking that perhaps it might be as well to go back to London by the twelve o'clock from Brighton; but the ride to Findan had been mentioned overnight, and just as if nothing had happened, the squire told me after breakfast that he had ordered his horse to be saddled for me. Colville said he would not be able to meet me at Freshcombe, and in a voice that did not seem altogether friendly. He gave me his hand, however, saying that he would bid me goodbye, since I was going away by the five o'clock. His sisters went to their different occupations, expecting me back for lunch, Florence hoping I would not talk any more about that horrid war, Dulcie lingering to ask me why I wanted to go to Findan, and on such a day! I mentioned a horse, but did not know what answer to give back when she reminded me that the horse fair is in May, and (p. 231) reading suspicions of some woman in her eyes, I sprang into the saddle and rode away.

A new nag, the squire had said; she goes easily on the roads, but pulls a bit on the downs. A rushing, querulous animal, lean as a rake, I soon discovered her to be. A hide hardly thicker than a glove saved her but little from the cold showers and the hard winds that rushed down upon us from the hills. A very different day, I said as I pulled at her, from the day that the squire and I rode over to Findan to the fair. One of my pleasantest recollections was that ride, and despite my exasperated humour it was impossible for me to resist the temptation, as I rode down the valley, to recall how the squire and myself had gone out on horseback one morning in May, looking, as we jogged along side by side by the edge of the valley through which the Adur flows, like figures out of an old ballad. Never did larks rise out of the grass and soar roystering as abundantly as they did that morning. We walked, we trotted, we cantered our horses till we came to Findan's sunny hollow filled with its fair. Many horses were at tether, some were being trotted up and down by the gipsies. We reined in to see a boy ride a bay pony on a halter over a gate held up for the jump in the middle of the field, and while the squire talked with an acquaintance, I sat at gaze, lost in admiration of a group of comely larches; they seemed to me like women engaged with their own beauty, so gracefully did they loll themselves on the sweet wind, every one, I felt sure, aware of her own long shadow on the grass. Our returning, though less vividly remembered, was not less pleasing than our going forth, and my humour must have been harsh indeed that February day to have imperilled so delightful a recollection by riding to Findan alone under dark skies and through bitter winds along grey river lands. It was not in my intention, I suppose, to find Sussex beautiful, and the dun tumult of the downs showing against the rainy sky suggested the welcome thought that I had been befooled, and that this English country was the ugliest in the world, and its weather the worst.

Not a living thing in sight, not even a stray sheep in the wintry hollow, I said, and turned my horse's head towards Freshcombe, asking myself how I ever could have thought the downs beautiful. By what distortion of sight? By what trick of the brain? Because of her? And I rode thinking of her presence in one room and in another, until the day described in A Remembrance floated by, and we following all that remained of her to Shoreham churchyard.

Death is in such strange contradiction to life that it is no matter for wonder that we recoil from it, and turn to remembrances, and find recompense in perceiving that those we have loved live in our memories as intensely as if they were still before our eyes; and it would seem, therefore, (p. 232) that we should garner and treasure our past and forbear to regret partings with too much grief, however dear our friends may be; for in parting from us all their imperfections will pass out of sight, and they will become dearer and nearer to us. The present is no more than a little arid sand dribbling through the neck of an hour-glass; but the past may be compared to a shrine in the coign of some sea-cliff, whither the white birds of recollections come to roost and rest awhile, and fly away again into the darkness. But the shrine is never deserted. Far away up from the horizon's line other white birds come, wheeling and circling, to take the place of those that have left and are leaving. So did my memories of her seem to me as they came to me over the downs; her unforgettable winsomeness, her affection for me, her love of her husband and of her children, were remembered, and the atrocious war which forbade me to love them in the present could not prevent me from loving them in the past.

The scratched and deserted appearance of the hillside interrupted my meditations, and on looking through the iron hurdles I could see that what the squire had said was true, for in trying to find the most profitable way of catching his rabbits Colville had allowed too many to remain on the ground. Every stoat had been destroyed, and the foxes driven out, but one cannot disturb the balance of Nature with impunity. After eating all the grass the rabbits had gnawed the bark of the furze, and afterwards the thorn trees. These thorns will never blossom again, I said, as I rode amid sand-heaps and burrows innumerable, without, however, seeing anywhere a white scut. Only rabbits can destroy rabbits; and the Belgian hares—what has become of them? I asked, remembering how haplessly they used to hop about after the keeper, every season seeing fewer of them; none had mated with the wild rabbit, and all our labour in the backyard had been in vain.

The lambs bleated after the yoes, a raven balanced himself in the blast on the lookout for carrion, and after watching the bird for some time I rode along the iron fence. The lodge seemed deserted, and I asked myself what would become of the iron hurdles. Will he sell them as scrap-iron and allow Nature to redeem the hills from trace of our ambitions? I wondered, and rode away upon my own errand, which, I reminded myself, was not to muse over the destruction of Freshcombe, but to discover if there were one spot on the downs which still appealed to my sympathies. An ugly, rolling country it all seemed: hill after hill rolled up from the sea with deep valleys set between, in which the flock follows the bell-wether. Yet these valleys had once inspired thoughts of the patriarchal ages.

But if the downs didn't please me the weald would, and I rode by the windmill, its great arms roaring as they went round in the blast, (p. 233) frightening my horse, and sat for a long time studying, with hatred, the dim blue expanse that lay before me like a map: Beading, Edburton, Poynings, New Horton, I knew well: Folking and Newtimber far away lost in violet haze. And I could see, or fancied I could see, the brook which Colville had jumped years ago. A landscape, I said, that Rubens might have thought worth painting, but which Ruysdael would have turned from, it being without a blue hill or melancholy scarp or torrent, or anything that raises the soul out of an engulfing materialism; and all the things that I used to love—a red-tiled cottage at the end of a lane with a ponderous team coming through a gateway, followed by a yokel in a smock frock—I hated, and in pursuit of my hatred I resolved to visit Beading, a town that I had once loved.

But of what use to descend into it? I asked myself; and without knowing why I was going there, I let my mare slide herself down the steep chalk path on her haunches. A straggling village street was all I could discover in Beading, an ugly brick village; and interested in my unrelenting humour, I began the ascent of the downs instead of returning home by the road, so that I might give the restive mare the gallop she was craving for. She plunged her way up the hillside. Lord Leconfield's lands were crossed at a hand-gallop, and looking back at the windmill, I cursed it as an ugly thing, and remembering with satisfaction that there are few in Ireland, I reined up and overlooked the great space from Chanctonbury Ring past Lancing, whither Worthing lies, seeking to discover the reason why I liked the downs no longer. The names of the different fields as they came up in my mind irritated me. What name more absurd for that old barn than Thunders Barrow Barn? A few minutes later I was on the crest above Anchor Hollow, whither ships came in the old days, so it was said, and, but for the fact that my friends would lose their land, I doubt if I should have found any great cause for regret in the news that they were certain to come there again. I remembered how the coast towns light up in the evening: garlands of light reaching from Worthing to Lancing, to Amberley, to Shoreham, to Southwick, and on to Brighton. There is no country in England; even the downs are encircled with lights; and my thoughts turned from them to the dim waste about Lough Carra, only lighted here and there by tallow dips. Passing from Mayo to Galway, I remembered Edward's castle and the Burran Mountains, and the lake out of which thirty-six wild swans had risen while Yeats told me of The-Shadowy Waters; and with such distant lands and such vague, primeval people in my mind, it was impossible for me to appreciate any longer the sight of ploughing on the downs. Yet I once watched old Rogers lift the coulter from the vore when he came to the headland, and the great horses turn, the ploughboy yarking and lashing his whip all the time; but now my (p. 234) humour was such that I could hardly answer his cheery Good day, sir; and when the squire asked me how the mare had carried me, I said that she didn't like the ploughboy's whip, and very nearly got me off her ba'ack, as old Rogers would say. He was just at the end of his vore, and the horses were just a-comin' round. So you no longer care about our down speech, the squire said, and he would have wished me to stay on for a few days, for the sake of his billiards in the evening. But Dulcie said that it would be better if I went away and came down again, and Florence seemed to agree with her that I had not been as nice this time as I had been on other occasions. So I am certain that there must have been a mingled sadness and perplexity in my eyes on bidding these dear friends of mine goodbye. I must have known that the friendship of many years—one that meant much to all of us—was now over, ended, done to death by an idea that had come into my life some months ago, without warning, undesired, uncalled for. It had been repulsed more than once, and with all the strength I was capable of, but it had gotten possession of me all the same, and it was now my master, making me hate all that I had once loved.


The best friends a man ever had, yet they had been blown away like thistledown; and leaning back in my seat, I began to rejoice that the Irish Literary Theatre was going over to Dublin with three plays—The Bending of the Bough (my rewritten version of Edward's play, The Tale of a Town), Edward's own beautiful play Maeve, and a small play, The Last Feast of the Fianna, by Miss Milligan, and that Edward, who had cast himself again for baggage-man, was going to take the company over. We were to follow him—Lady Gregory, Yeats, and myself—a day later, and our happy travelling is remembered by me, even to the hop into the carriage after them and the pleasure I took in their soft western accent. Our project drew us together; we were delightfully intimate that morning; and I can recall my elation while watching Yeats reading the paper I had written on the literary necessity of small languages. It was to be read by me at a lunch that the Irish Literary Society was giving in our honour, and in it some ideas especially dear to Yeats had been evolved: that language after a time becomes like a coin too long current—the English language had become defaced, and to write in English it was necessary to return to the dialects. Language rises like a spring among the mountains; it increases into a rivulet; then it becomes a river (the water is still unpolluted), but when the river has passed through a town the water must be filtered. And Milton was mentioned as the first filter, the first stylist.

(p. 235) Never did I hear so deep a note of earnestness in Yeats's voice as when he begged of me not to go back upon these opinions. They were his deepest nature, but in me they were merely intellectual, invented so that the Gaelic League should be able to justify its existence with reasonable, literary argument. Lady Gregory sat in the corner, a little sore, I think, feeling, and not unnaturally, that this fine defence of the revival of the Irish language should come from her poet, instead of coming, as it did, from me. In this she was right, but an apology for the prominent part I was taking in this literary and national adventure would make matters worse. The most I could do to make my intrusion acceptable to her was to welcome all Yeats's emendations of my text with enthusiasm.

There were passages in this lecture intended to capture the popular ear, and they succeeded in doing this in spite of the noise of coffee-cups (as soon as the orator rises the waiters become unnaturally interested in their work); but I can shout, and when I had shouted above the rattle that I had arranged to disinherit my nephews if they did not learn Irish from the nurse that had been brought from Arran, everybody was delighted. The phrase that Ireland's need was not a Catholic, but a Gaelic University, brought a cloud into the face of a priest. Edward agreed with me, adding, however, that Gaelic and Catholicism went hand in hand—a remark which I did not understand at the time, but I learnt to appreciate it afterwards. There were some cynics present, Gaelic Leaguers, who, while approving, held doubts, asking each other if my sincerity were more than skin-deep; and it was whispered at Edward's table that I had come over to write about the country and its ideas, and would make fun of them all when it suited my purpose to do so. It would take years for me to obtain forgiveness for a certain book of mine, Edward said, and reminded me that Irish memories are long. But in time, in time.

When I am a grey-headed old man, I answered; and I went back to England. Irish speakers are dying daily or going to America, and the League will not avail itself of my services. The folly of it! The folly of it! I muttered over my fire for the next three months, until one morning a telegram was handed to me. It was from the League's secretary. Your presence is requested at a meeting to be held in the Rotunda to protest against—

What the League would protest against on that occasion has been forgotten, but my emotion on reading that telegram will never be forgotten. Ireland had not kept me out in the cold, looking over the half-door for years, as Edward had anticipated—only three months. The telegram must be understood to mean complete forgiveness. But they will want a speech from me, and I am the only living Irishman that cannot speak for ten minutes. A speech of ten minutes means two (p. 236) thousand words, and every morning I fail to dictate two thousand words. My dictations are only so much rigmarole, mere incentives to work, and have to be all rewritten. On the edge of a platform one cannot say, Forget what I have said; I'll begin again. One cannot transpose a paragraph, or revise a sentence. I can't go, I can't go; and my feet moved towards the writing-table. But it was as difficult for me to write No as it was to write Yes. The only Irishman living who cannot make a speech, the only one that ever lived, I added, and sank into an armchair, awakened from a painful lethargy by the sudden thought that perhaps the secretary of the Gaelic League might be persuaded to allow me to read a paper at the meeting. I could do that. But time was lacking to write the paper. Midday! And the train left Euston at eight forty-five. Evelyn Innes would have to be abandoned. The secretary should have given longer notice. A man of letters cannot uproot himself at a moment's notice. Leave Owen Asher in the middle of Evelyn's bed to write an argument on the literary necessity of small languages! Impossible! All the same, I could not spend the evening in Victoria Street while my kinsmen were engaged in protesting against the language of the Saxon. A worn-out, defaced coin; and I sought for an old shilling in my pocket, and finding one of George the Third, and looking at the blunted image, I said: That is the English language, a language of commerce. But the Irish language is what the Italian language was when Dante decided to abandon the Latin. I thought of the train rattling through the shires, through Rugby, Crewe, and Chester; I saw it in my thoughts circling through Aber, where Stella was painting flocks and herds. Bangor is but a few miles farther on, and the simplest plan would be to meet her on board the boat. Let Stella be the die that shall decide whether I go or stay. An act relieves the mind from the strain of thinking, and I believed everything to be settled until her telegram arrived, saying she would meet me on board the boat; and my indecisions continued until evening, expressing themselves in five telegrams.

Five telegrams, she said, when I came up the gangway. Two asking me to come, two telling me not to come, and the last one reaching me only in time. You have a servant to pack your things, but in lodgings—

Stella dear, I know, but the fault isn't mine. I came into the world unable to decide whether I should catch the train or remain at home. But don't think my many changes of mind came from selfishness. Agonies were endured while walking up and down Victoria Street between my flat and the post-office; the sending of each telegram seemed to settle the matter, but half-way down the street I would stop, asking myself if I should go or stay, and all the time knowing, I suppose, in some sort of unconscious way, that my love of you would not allow me to miss the (p. 237) pleasure of finding you, a lonely, dark figure, leaning over the bulwarks. How good of you to come!

Yes, it was good of me, for, really, five telegrams! Would you like to see them?

No, no; throw them away.

She crushed the telegrams in her hand and dropped them into the sea.

You were vexed and perplexed, but I suffered agonies. About some things I am will-less, and for half my life I believed myself to be the most weak-minded person in the world.

But you are not weak-minded. I never knew any one more determined about some things. Your writing—

Aren't you as determined about your painting? You have sent me out of your studio, preferring your painting to me. But we haven't met under that moon to wrangle. Here you are and here am I, and we going to Ireland together.

The boat moved away from the pier, steaming slowly down the long winding harbour, round the great headland into the sea; and finding that we were nearly the only passengers on board, and that the saloon was empty, we ensconced ourselves at the writing-table, and while dictating to her, I admired her hand, slender, with strong fingers that held the pen, accomplishing a large, steady, somewhat formal writing, which would suggest to one learned in handwriting a calm, clear mind, never fretted by small, mean interests; and if he were to add, a mind contented with the broad aspect of things, he would prove to me that her soul was reflected in her manuscript as clearly as in her pictures. And it was on board the boat and next morning, when, uncomplaining, she followed me to the writing-table, that I realised how beautiful her disposition was. And when the last sentences were written, it seemed that the time had come for me to consider her pleasure. For she had never been in Dublin before, and would like to see the National Gallery. We hung together over the railings, admiring a Mantegna in the long room, and afterwards a Hogarth—a beautiful sketch of George the Third sitting under a canopy with his family. We talked of these and stood a long time before Millais' Hearts are Trumps, Stella explaining the painting and exhibiting her mind in many appreciative subtleties. No one talked painting better than she, and it was always a delight to me to listen to her; but that day my attention was distracted from her and from the pictures by an intolerable agony of nerves. The repose, the unconsciousness of my animal nature, seemed withdrawn, leaving me nothing but a mere mentality. In a nervous crisis one seems to be aware of one's whole being, of one's fingernails, of the roots of one's hair, of the movements of one's very entrails. One's suffering seems, curiously (p. 238) enough, in the stomach, a sort of tremor of the entrails. There, I have got it at last, or the physical side of it! Added to which is the throb of cerebral perplexity. Why not run away and escape from this sickness? And the sensation of one's inability to run away is not the least part of one's suffering. One rolls like a stone that has become conscious, and often on my way to the Rotunda the thought passed through my mind that I must love Ireland very much to endure so much for her sake. Yet I was by no means sure that I loved Ireland at all. Before this point could be decided I had lost my way in many dark passages. But the platform was at last discovered, and there was Hyde, to whom I told that I had come over at the request of the secretary, having received a wire yestermorning from him, saying my presence was indispensable at the meeting. He was taken aback when I read out the telegram I received from the secretary, and said he was sorry I had been put to so much trouble, trying to hide his indifference under an excessive effusion which seemed to aggravate my disappointment.

An extraordinary indigence of speech, and an artificiality of sentiment caught my ear, and I felt that it would be impossible to refrain from an outburst if he were to say again, in answer to the simple statement that I arrived this morning: Now, did you come across last night? You don't tell me so? Tank you, tank you. You'll have a great reception.

About the reception I care not a fig. I came over because it seemed to me to be my duty.

Did you, now? It was good of you.

But I am suffering something that words can't express, and it will be kind in you to call upon me as soon as you have finished speaking.

MacNeill follows me. I'm sorry for you; from the bottom of my heart I'm sorry.

Well, Hyde, if you don't hasten I'm afraid I shall have to go away. There is a trembling in my stomach that I would explain.

Somebody called him; a shuffling of chairs was followed by a sudden silence, and whilst Hyde stood bawling I saw the great skull, its fringe of long black hair, with extraordinary lucidity, the slope of the temples, the swell of the bone above the nape, the insignificant nose, the droop of the moustache through which his Irish frothed like porter, and when he returned to English it was easy to understand why he desired to change the language of Ireland.

The next speaker was a bearded man of middle height and middle age, forty or thereabouts, a post-office official whose oratory was more reasonable and dignified than our President's, and perhaps for that reason it was less successful despite its repetitions and commonplace. But these qualities, which I had begun to see were essential in Irish (p. 239) oratory, were not considered enough; the audience missed the familiar note of spite. MacNeill was looked upon as good enough, as small ale would be by the average Coombe toper. What they want is porther; and feeling that my paper would interest nobody, I appealed to Hyde again, and begged him to call on me and let me get it over.

Before he could do so he said he would have to call upon two priests, Father Meehan and Father Hogarty, and these men spoke whatever happened to come into their heads, always using twenty words where five would have been too many, and they rambled on to their own pleasure and to that of the audience. Snatches of their oratory still linger in my ears. I remember the language that our forefathers spoke in time of persecution, hermits and saints said their prayers in it—which might be true, but seemed to imply that since the introduction of the English language saints had declined in Ireland. The next speaker, referring to the eloquent words of the last speaker, reminded the audience that not a line of heresy had been written in Irish, an assertion which recalled Father Ford's pamphlet. He must have been reading it, I said to myself.

Now, will you call on me? I whispered to Hyde.

I'm sorry from the bottom of my heart.

Of what use to bring me over from England?

From the bottom of my heart! I must call upon ——, and he called out some name that I have forgotten. The success of this speaker when he declared that the dogs of war were to be loosed was unbounded. In the vast and densely packed building only one dissenting voice was heard. It did not come from the body of the hall, but from a man on the platform—a thick-set fellow, a working man, sitting in a chair next to me. While Hyde was speaking he had played impatiently with his hat—a bowler, worn at the brim, greasy and ingrained with dust, very like Whelan's. His hands were those of a joiner or carpenter or plumber. Yet, I said to myself, he hears that our President's speech isn't as beautiful as it should be. It seemed to me that in the midst of some turgid sentence I had heard him spitting, Good God! Yes, yes; get on! through his tawny moustache. We all know that. And I had certainly heard him mutter while MacNeill was speaking, If I'd known it was to listen to this kind of stuff! While the reverend Fathers were rigmaroling he had only dared to shuffle his feet from time to time, making it clear, at all events to me, that he did not judge ecclesiastical oratory more favourably than lay, thereby winning my approval and sympathy, and inducing me to accept him as a pure, disinterested and very able critic, who might possibly find some small merit in the paper which I began to read as soon as the applause had ceased which followed upon the declaration that the dogs of war were to be loosed. Before five lines were read I heard him shuffling his feet heavily; at the tenth line a loud groan (p. 240) escaped him; and when I began my third paragraph, which to my mind contained everything that could be said in favour of the literary necessity of the revival of small languages, I heard him mutter, It isn't that sort of sophisticated stuff that we want; and he muttered so loudly that there was a moment when it began to seem necessary to ask the audience to choose between us. His impatience increased with every succeeding speaker, and while wondering what his oratory would be like if Hyde were to give him a chance of exercising it, I saw him seize the coat-tails of a little man with a bibulous nose, who had been called upon to address the meeting. Had such a thing happened to me, my nerves would have given way utterly; but the little man merely lifted his coat-tails out of his assailant's reach, and when he had finished talking somebody proposed a vote of thanks. Then the meeting broke up rapidly, and as we were leaving the platform the disappointed orator put his hand on Hyde's shoulder.

For two pins I'd tell you what I think about you; and Hyde was asked to explain why he did not call upon him to speak.

Your name wasn't given to me, sir.

Wasn't I on the platform?

There were many on the platform that I didn't call on to speak; I only called those on my list, and you weren't upon it.

A fine lot of blatherers you had on your list, and every one of us sick listening to them.

The retort seeming to me to be in the fine Irish style, I was tempted to stand by to listen, but fearing to exhibit a too impertinent curiosity, I followed the crowd regretfully out of the building, wondering what Stella would think of her first Gaelic League meeting; and my first, too, for that matter.

On the boat coming over, she had been assured that it was going to be a very grand affair, typical of the new spirit that was awakening in Ireland, and there was no denying that no very high intellectual level had been reached by anybody. My own paper, that in the making had seemed a fine thing, had faded away in the reading, and she could not but have been disappointed with the unintellectual audience that had gathered to hear it. And the ridiculous wrangle between Hyde and the disappointed orator! She may have left her seat before it began. But, even without this episode, a clear-minded Englishwoman, as she undoubtedly was, could not have failed to have been struck by a certain absence of sincerity in the speeches. It would, perhaps, have been better if she hadn't come over; at all events, it would have been desirable that this meeting had not been her first glimpse of Ireland. Her tact and her affection for me would save her from the mistake of laughing at the meeting to my face. There was no real reason why I should regret (p. 241) having brought her over, only that the meeting had exhibited Ireland under a rough and uncouth aspect; worse still, as a country that was essentially insincere and frivolous, and this was unfortunate, for I wanted her to like Ireland.

The man that hadn't been allowed to blather had described the meeting as blather (a word derived, no doubt, from lather; and what is lather but froth?'). Hyde had been all Guinness; and she must have laughed at the prattle of the priests. Though in sympathy with what they had come to bless—the revival of the Irish language—I had had to bite my lips when one of them started talking about the tongue that their forefathers had spoken in time of persecution, and I had found it difficult to keep my patience when his fellow, a young cleric, said that he was in favour of a revival of the Irish language because no heresy had ever been written in it. A fine reason it was to give why we should be at pains to revive the language, and it had awakened a suspicion in me that he was just a lad—in favour of the Irish language because there was no thought in its literature. What interest is there in any language but for the literature it has produced or is going to produce? And there can be no literature when no mental activities are about. Mental activity begets heresy, I muttered, and wandered to and fro, looking for Stella, hoping to find her not too seriously disappointed with her first glimpse into Irish Ireland. If she had heard only one good speech, or one note of genuine passion, however imperfectly expressed! But Ireland lacks passion, I said, and pushed my way through the crowd. It lacks ideas, and worst of all, it lacks passion ... all the same, it is difficult to find Stella. Where the devil!—all froth, porther, porther, and I returned to that very magnanimous statement that the Irish language was worth reviving because no word of heresy had been written in it. Which is a lie. Damn that priest! I said. Stella cannot have failed to see through his advocacy. Without heresy there can be no religion, for heresy means trying to think out the answer to the riddle of life and death for ourselves. We don't succeed, of course we don't, but we do lift ourselves out of the ruts when we think for ourselves—in other words, when we live. But acquiescence in dogma means decay, dead leaves in the mire, nothing more. The only thing that counts is personal feeling. And if this be true, it may be said that Ireland has never shown any interest in religious questions—merely a wrangle between Protestants and Catholics.

Part of the speech of another orator started into my mind; he had said he would shoulder a musket—he didn't say a rifle mark you, but a musket; I wonder he didn't say a pike! Dead leaves in the mire, dead traditions, a people living on the tradition of '98. But there were heroes in '98. In those days men thought for themselves and lived according to (p. 242) their passions. But if the meeting I have just come from is to be taken as typical, Ireland has melted away. Maybe, to be revived again in the language ... if the language can be revived. But can it be revived? Ah, there is Stella! And never did she seem so essentially English to me as at that moment—so English that I experienced a certain sense of resentment against her for wearing the look that, before the Boer War, had attracted me to her—I might say had attracted me even before I had seen her—that English air of hers which she wore with such dignity. Until I met her, the women I had loved were like myself, capricious and impulsive; some had been amusing, some charming, some pretty, and one had enchanted me by her joy in life and belief that everything she did was right because she did it. High spirits are delightful, but incompatible with dignity, and, deep down in my heart, I had always wished to love a chin that deflected, calm, clear, intelligent eyes, and a quiet and grave demeanour, for that is the English face, and the English face and temperament have always been in my blood; and it was doubtless these qualities that attracted me to my friends in Sussex. Stella might be more intelligent than they, or her intelligence was of a different kind—the measure of intellect differs in every individual, but the temperament of the race (in essentials) is the same, and it endures longer. But now her very English appearance and temperament vexed me in Sackville Street, and my vexation was aggravated by the fact that it was impossible to tell her why I was so dissatisfied with her. She had not laughed at nor said a word in disparagement of the meeting, nor told me that, in seeking to revive the language, I was on a wild-goose chase. But out of sorts with her I was, knowing myself all the while for a fool, and cursing myself as a weakling for not having been able to come to Ireland without her.

The incident seemed symbolic; neither country is able to do without the other; and it would have been easy for Stella and me to have quarrelled that evening, though we weren't man and wife. She spoke so kindly and warmly of the meeting, seeing all that was good in it, and laughing with such agreeable humour at the incident of the disappointed orator, that I told her I loved her, despite her English face and voice and manner, making her laugh thereby.

The tact of women cannot be overpraised; and they need all their tact to live with us; and how delightfully they accept the religions we invent, and the morals that we like to worry over, though they understand neither! A wonderful race is the race of women, easily misunderstood by men, for they understand only lovers, children, and flowers. To fill many pages on the subject of women would be easy, and perhaps my sympathy would be more interesting than the tale I have to tell. Even so, I should have to continue telling how, some months after my visit (p. 243) to Dublin, when the cloud cast by the meeting at the Rotunda upon my belief in the possibility of a Celtic Renaissance had dissolved, another escape from England presented itself. A letter arrived one morning from Yeats, summoning me to Ireland, so that we might come to some decision about Diarmuid and Grania, the play that we had agreed to write in collaboration. We had exchanged many letters, but as every one had seemed to estrange us, Lady Gregory had charged Yeats to invite me to Coole, where he was staying at the time; and reading in this letter a week spent in the very heart of Ireland, among lakes and hills, and the most delightful conversation in the world, I accepted the invitation with pleasure.

As I write, the wind whistles and yells in the street; the waves must be mountains high in the Channel, I said, but the Irish Sea has always been propitious to me—all my crossings have been accomplished amid sparkling waves and dipping gulls, and the crossing that I am trying to remember when I went to Coole to write Diarmuid and Grania was doubtless as fine as those that had gone before. I can recall myself waiting eagerly for the beautiful shape of Howth to appear above the sea-line, my head filled with its legends. Or, maybe, my memory fails me, and it may well have been that I crossed under the moon and stars, for I remember catching the morning mail from the Broadstone and journeying, pale for want of sleep and tired, through the beautiful county of Dublin, alongside of the canal, here and there slipping into swamp, with an abandoned boat in the rushes. But when we leave County Dublin the country begins to drop away into bogland, the hovel appears (there is a good deal of the West of Ireland all through Ireland), but as soon as the middle of Ireland has been crossed the green country begins again; and, seeing many woods, I fell to thinking how Ireland once had been known as the Island of Many Woods, cultivated in patches, and overrun by tribes always at war one with the other. So it must have been in the fourth century when Grania fled from Tara with Diarmuid—her adventure; and mine—to write Ireland's greatest love-story in conjunction with Yeats.

Athlone came into sight, and I looked upon the Shannon with a strange and new tenderness, thinking that it might have been in a certain bed of rushes that Grania lifted her kirtle, the sweetness of her legs blighting in Diarmuid all memory of his oath of fealty to Finn, and compelling him to take her in his arms, and in the words of the old Irish story-teller to make a woman of her. And without doubt it would be a great thing to shape this primitive story into a play, if we could do it without losing any of the grandeur and significance of the legend. I thought of the beauty of Diarmuid, his doom, and how he should court it at the end of the second act when the great fame of Finn captures (p. 244) Grania's imagination. The third act would be the pursuit of the boar through the forest, followed by Finn's great hounds—Bran, Sgeolan, Lomairly.

In happy meditation mile after mile went by. Lady Gregory's station is Gort. Coole was beginning to be known to the general public at the time I went there to write Diarmuid and Grania with Yeats. Hyde had been to Coole, and had been inspired to write several short plays in Irish; one of them, The Twisting of the Rope, we hoped we should be able to induce Mr Benson to allow us to produce after Diarmuid and Grania. If Yeats had not begun The Shadowy Waters at Coole he had at least written several versions of it under Lady Gregory's roof-tree; and so Coole will be historic; later still, it will become a legend, a sort of Minstrelburg, the home of the Bell Branch Singers, I said, trying to keep my bicycle from skidding, for I had told the coachman to look after my luggage and bring it with him on the car, hoping in this way to reach Coole in time for breakfast.

The sun was shining, but the road was dangerously greasy, and I had much difficulty in saving myself from falling. A lovely morning, I said, pleasantly ventilated by light breezes from the Burran Mountains. We shall all become folklore in time to come, Finns and Diarmuids and Usheens, every one of us, and Lady Gregory a new Niamh who—At that moment my bicycle nearly succeeded in throwing me into the mud, but by lifting it on to the footpath, and by giving all my attention to it, I managed to reach the lodge-gates without a fall. A horn, I said, should hang on the gatepost, and the gate should not open till the visitor has blown forth a motif; but Yeats would be kept a long time waiting, for he is not musical, and thinking of the various funny noises he would produce on the horn, I admired the hawthorns that AE painted last year; and at the end of a long drive a portico appeared in red and blue glass, partly hidden by masses of reddening creeper. Sir William's marbles detained me on the staircase, and whilst I compared present with past appreciations Lady Gregory came to meet me with news of Yeats. He was still composing; we should have to wait breakfast for him; and we waited till Lady Gregory, taking pity on me, rang the bell. But the meal we sat down to was disturbed not a little by thoughts of Yeats, who still tarried. The whisper went round the table that he must have been overtaken by some inspiration, and Lady Gregory, fluttered with care, was about to send the servant to inquire if Mr Yeats would like to have his breakfast in his room. At that moment the poet appeared, smiling and delightful, saying that just as the clocks were striking ten the metre had begun to beat, and abandoning himself to the emotion of the tune, he had allowed his pen to run till it had completed nearly eight and a half lines, and the conversation turned on the embarrassment (p. 245) his prose caused him, forcing him to reconstruct his scenario. He would have written his play in half the time if he had begun writing it in verse.

As soon as we rose from the table Lady Gregory told us we should be undisturbed in the drawing-room till tea-time, and thanking her, we moved into the room. The moment had come, and feeling like a swordsman that meets for the first time a redoubtable rival, I reminded Yeats that in his last letter he had said we must decide in what language the play should be written—not whether it should be written in English or in Irish (neither of us knew Irish), but in what style.

Yes, we must arrive at some agreement as to the style. Of what good will your dialogue be to me if it is written, let us say, in the language of Esther Waters?

Nor would it be of any use to you if I were to write it in Irish dialect?

Yeats was not sure on that point; a peasant Grania appealed to him, and I regretted that my words should have suggested to him so hazardous an experiment as a peasant Grania.

We're writing an heroic play. And a long time was spent over the question whether the Galway dialect was possible in the mouths of heroes, I contending that it would render the characters farcical, for it is not until the language has been strained through many minds that tragedy can be written in it. Balzac wrote Les Contes Drôlatiques in Old French because Old French lends itself well to droll stories. Our play had better be written in the language of the Bible. Avoiding all turns of speech, said Yeats, which immediately recall the Bible. You will not write Angus and his son Diarmuid which is in heaven, I hope. We don't want to recall the Lord's Prayer. And, for the same reason, you will not use any archaic words. You will avoid words that recall any particular epoch.

I'm not sure that I understand.

The words honour and ideal suggest the Middle Ages, and should not be used. The word glory is charged with modern idea—the glory of God and the glory that shall cover Lord Kitchener when he returns from Africa. You will not use it. The word soldier represents to us a man that wears a red tunic; an equivalent must be found, swordsman or fighting man. Hill is a better word than mountain; I can't give you a reason, but that is my feeling, and the word ocean was not known to the early Irish, only the sea.

We shall have to begin by writing a dictionary of the words that may not be used, and all the ideas that may not be introduced. Last week you wrote begging me not to waste time writing descriptions of Nature. Primitive man, you said, did not look at trees for the beauty of the branches and the agreeable shade they cast, but for the fruits they bore (p. 246) and the wood they furnished for making spear-shafts and canoes. A most ingenious theory, Yeats, and it may be that you are right: but I think it is safer to assume that primitive man thought and felt much as we do. Life in its essentials changes very little, and are we not writing about essentials, or trying to?

Yeats said that the ancient writer wrote about things, and that the softness, the weakness, the effeminacy of modern literature could be attributed to ideas. There are no ideas in ancient literature, only things, and, in support of this theory, reference was made to the sagas, to the Iliad, to the Odyssey, and I listened to him, forgetful of the subject which we had met to discuss. It is through the dialect, he continued, that one escapes from abstract words, back to the sensation inspired directly by the thing itself.

But, Yeats, a play cannot be written in dialect; nor do I think it can be written by turning common phrases which rise up in the mind into uncommon phrases.

That is what one is always doing.

If, for the sake of one's literature, one had the courage to don a tramp's weed—you object to the word don? And still more to weed? Well, if one had the courage to put on a tramp's jacket and wander through the country, sleeping in hovels, eating American bacon, and lying five in a bed, one might be able to write the dialect naturally; but I don't think that one can acquire the dialect by going out to walk with Lady Gregory. She goes into the cottage and listens to the story, takes it down while you wait outside, sitting on a bit of wall. Yeats, like an old jackdaw, and then filching her manuscript to put style upon it, just as you want to put style on me.

Yeats laughed vaguely; his laugh is one of the most melancholy things in the world, and it seemed to me that I had come to Coole on a fruitless errand—that we should never be able to write Diarmuid and Grania in collaboration.


A seat had been placed under a weeping ash for collaborators, and in the warmth and fragrance of the garden we spent many pleasant hours, quarrelling as to how the play should be written, Lady Gregory intervening when our talk waxed loud. She would cross the sward and pacify us, and tempt us out of argument into the work of construction with some such simple question as—And your second act—how is it to end? And when we are agreed on this point she would say:

Let the play be written by one or the other of you, and then let the (p. 247) other go over it. Surely that is the best way—and the only way? Try to confine yourselves to the construction of the play while you are together.

Yeats had left the construction pretty nearly in my hands; but he could theorise as well about construction as about style, and when Lady Gregory left us he would say that the first act of every good play is horizontal, the second perpendicular.

And the third, I suppose, circular?

Quite so. In the third act we must return to the theme stated in the first scene; and he described with long, thin hands the shapes the act should take. The first act begins with laying the feast for the Fianna; this is followed by a scene between Grania and the Druidess; then we have a short scene between King Cormac and his daughter. The Fianna arrive and Grania is at once captured by the beauty of Diarmuid, and she compels the Druidess (her foster-mother) to speak a spell over the wine, turning it into a drug that will make all men sleepy ... now, there we have a horizontal act. You see how it extends from right to left?

And while I considered whether he would not have done better to say that it extended from left to right, he told me that the second act was clearly perpendicular. Did it not begin far away in the country, at the foot of Ben Bulben? And after the shearing of a sheep, which Diarmuid has performed very skilfully, Grania begins to speak of Finn, who is encamped in the neighbourhood, her object being to persuade Diarmuid to invite Finn to his dun. The reconciliation of Finn and Diarmuid is interrupted by Conan, who comes in telling that a great boar has broken loose and is harrying the country, and Diarmuid, though he knows that his destiny is to be killed by the boar, agrees to hunt the boar with Finn.

What could be more perpendicular than that? Don't you see what I mean? and Yeats's hands went up and down; and then he told me that the third act, with some slight alteration, could be made even more circular than the first and second were horizontal and perpendicular.

Agreed, agreed! I cried, and getting up, I strode about the sward, raising my voice out of its normal pitch until a sudden sight of Lady Gregory reminded me that to lose my temper would be to lose the play. You'll allow me a free hand in the construction? But it's the writing we are not agreed about, and if the writing is altered as you propose to alter it, the construction will be altered too. It may suit you to prepare your palette and distribute phrases like garlands of roses on the backs of chairs.... But there's no use getting angry. I'll try to write within the limits of the vocabulary you impose upon me, although the burden is heavier than that of a foreign language.... I'd sooner write the play in French.

Why not write it in French? Lady Gregory will translate it.

(p. 248) And that night I was awakened by a loud knocking at my door, causing me to start up in bed.

What is it? Who is it? Yeats!

I'm sorry to disturb you, but an idea has just occurred to me.

And sitting on the edge of my bed he explained that the casual suggestion that I preferred to write the play in French rather than in his vocabulary was a better idea than he had thought at the time.

How is that, Yeats? I asked, rubbing my eyes.

Well, you see, through the Irish language we can get a peasant Grania.

But Grania is a King's daughter. I don't know what you mean, Yeats; and my French—

Lady Gregory will translate your text into English. Taidgh O'Donoghue will translate the English text into Irish, and Lady Gregory will translate the Irish text back into English.

And then you'll put style upon it? And it was for that you awoke me?

But don't you think a peasant Grania—

No, Yeats, I don't, but I'll sleep on it and tomorrow morning I may think differently. It is some satisfaction, however, to hear that you can bear my English style at four removes. And as I turned over in the hope of escaping from further literary discussion, I heard the thin, hollow laugh which Yeats uses on such occasions to disguise his disapproval of a joke if it tells ever so little against himself. I heard him moving towards the door, but he returned to my bedside, brought back by a sudden inspiration to win me over to his idea that Grania, instead of running in front of her nurse gathering primroses as I wished her to do, might wake at midnight, and finding the door of the dun on the latch, wander out into the garden and stand among the gooseberry-bushes, her naked feet taking pleasure in the sensation of the warm earth.

You've a nice sense of folk, though you are an indifferent collector, I muttered from my pillow; and, as I lay between sleeping and waking, I heard, some time later in the night, a dialogue going on between two men—a young man seemed to me to be telling an old man that a two-headed chicken was hatched in Cairbre's barn last night, and I heard the old man asking the young man if he had seen the chicken, and the young man answering that it had been burnt before he arrived, but it had been seen by many. Even so, I began, but my thoughts were no longer under my command and I saw and heard no more till the dawn divided the window-curtains and the rooks began to fly overhead.

The next morning was spent in thinking of Yeats's talent, and wondering what it would come to eventually. If he would only—But there is always an only, and at breakfast there seemed very little chance of our ever coming to an agreement as to how the play should be written, for Lady Gregory said that Yeats had asked to have his breakfast (p. 249) sent upstairs to him, as he was very busy experimenting in rhyme. She spoke of Dryden, whose plays were always written in rhyme; we listened reverentially, and when we rose from table she asked me to come into the garden with her. It was on our way to the seat under the weeping ash that she intimated to me that the best way to put an end to these verbal disputes between myself and my collaborator would be to do what I had myself suggested yesterday—to write a French version of the play.

Which I will translate, she said.

But, Lady Gregory, wouldn't it be better for you to use your influence with Yeats, to persuade him to concede something?

He has made all the concessions he can possibly make.

I don't know if you are aware of our difficulties?

It would be no use my taking sides on a question of style, even if I were capable of doing so, she said gently. One has to accept Yeats as he is, or not at all. We are both friends of his, and he has told me that it is really his friendship for you which has enabled him—

To suggest that I should try to write the play in French! I cried.

But I will translate it with all deference to your style.

To my French style! Good heavens! And then it is be translated into Irish and back into English. Now I know what poor Edward suffered when I altered his play. Edward yielded for the sake of Ireland—But as I was about to tell Lady Gregory that I declined to descend into the kitchen, to don the cap and apron, to turn the spit while the chef des sauces prepared his gravies and stirred his saucepans, the adventure of writing a play in French, to be translated three times back and forwards before a last and immortal relish was to be poured upon it, began to appeal to me. Literary adventures have always been my quest, and here was one; and seeing in it a way of escape from the English language, which I had come to hate for political reasons, and from the English country and the English people, I said:

It is impossible to write this play in French in Galway. A French atmosphere is necessary; I will go to France and send it to you, act by act. And overjoyed when the news was brought to his bedroom, Yeats came down at once and began to speak about the value of dialect, and a peasant Grania. If I did not like that, at all events a Grania—

Who would be racy of the soil, I said.

A cloud came into Yeats's face, but we parted the best of friends, and it was in the cosmopolitan atmosphere of a hotel sitting-room that I wrote the first scene of our second act in French—if not in French, in a language comprehensible to a Frenchman.

(p. 250) Une caverne. Grania est couchée sur une peau d'ours; se réveillant en sursaut


J'ai entendu un bruit. Quelqu'un passe dans la nuit des rochers. Diarmuid!


Je t'ai fait peur.


Non. Mais qu'est-ce que tu m'apportes? Quels sont ces fruits d'or?


Je t'apporte des pommes, j'ai trouvé un pommier dans ces landes, très loin dans une vallée désolée. Cela doit être le pommier dont le berger nous a parlé. Regarde le fruit! Comme ces pommes sont belles! Cela doit être le pommier des admirable vertus. Le berger l'a dit.

(Il donne la branche à Grania)


Ces pommes sont vraiment belles, elles sont comme de l'or. (Elle fait glisser une pomme dans sa robe.) Les solitudes de ces landes nous ont sauvegardés de toute poursuite. N'est-ce pas, Diarmuid? Ici nous sommes sauvegardés. C'est la solitude qui nous sauvegarde, et ce pommier sacré dont le berger nous a parlé. Mais les pommes si belles doivent être le signe d'un grand malheur ou peut-être bien, Diarmuid, d'une grand joie. Diarmuid! j'entends des pas. Écoute! Cherche tes armes!


Non, Grania, tu n'entends rien. Nous sommes loin de toute poursuite. (On écoute et alors Diarmuid reprend le bouclier qu'il a jeté par terre; avançant d'un pas.) Oui, Grania, quelqu'un passe dans la nuit des rochers.... Qui êtes-vous? D'où venez-vous? Pourquoi venez-vous ici?

Entrent deux Jeunes Hommes.

1er Jeune Homme

Nous venons de Finn.


Et vous venez pour me tuer?

(p. 251) 1er Jeune Homme



Vous êtes donc venus ici en assassins! Pourquoi cherchez-vous à tuer deux amants? Quel mal vous avons-nous donc fait? Nous sommes ici dans les landes inconnues, et si nous ne sommes pas morts c'est parce que la Nature nous a sauvegardés. La Nature aime les amants et les protège. Qu'avons-nous donc fait pour que vous veniez aussi loin nous tuer?

2ème Jeune Homme

Nous avons voulu faire partie du Fianna, et nous avons passé par toutes les épreuves de la prouesse que l'on nous a demandée.

1er Jeune Homme

Nous avons fait des armes avec les guerriers de Finn.

2ème Jeune Homme

La lance lourde et la lance légère, nous avons couru et sauté avec eux.

1er Jeune Homme

Nous sommes sortis acclamés de toutes les épreuves.


Et vous êtes venus chercher la dernière épreuve. Finn vous a demandé ma tête?

1er Jeune Homme

Avant d'être admis au Fianna il faut que nous apportions la tête de Diarmuid à Finn.


Et ne savez-vous pas que tout le Fianna est l'ami de Diarmuid excepté Finn?


Ils veulent ma tête? Eh bien! qu'ils la prennent s'ils le peuvent.


Qui de vous attaquera Diarmuid le premier?

1er Jeune Homme

Nous l'attaquerons tous les deux à la fois.

(p. 252) 2ème Jeune Homme

Nous ne venons pas ici faire des prouesses d'armes.


Ils ont raison, Grania, ils ne viennent pas ici faire des prouesses d'armes, ils viennent comme des bêtes cherchant leur proie; cela leur est égal comment.

(Ils commencent l'attaque; l'un est plus impétueux que l'autre, et il se met en avant. Diarmuid se recule dans un étroit passage entre les rochers. Soudain il blesse son adversaire qui tombe. Diarmuid passe par-dessus son corps et s'engage avec l'autre. Bien vite il le jette par terre et il commence à lui lier les mains, mais l'autre se lève et s'avance l'épée à la main gauche. Diarmuid donne son poignard à Grania; laissant à la charge de Grania l'adversaire qui est par terre, il attaque l'autre et dans quelques ripostes fait sauter l'épée de sa main. Pendant ce combat Grania est restée assise, le poignard en main. Aussitôt, l'homme ayant voulu se relever, elle le poignarde, et avance nonchalamment vers Diarmuid.)


Ne le quitte pas.


Il est mort.


Tu l'as tué?


Oui, je l'ai tué. Et maintenant tue celui-ci; ce sont des lâches qui n'auraient osé t'attaquer un contre un.


Je ne peux pas tuer un homme qui est sans armes. Regarde-le! Son regard me trouble, pourtant c'est Finn qui l'a envoyé. Laisse-le partir.


Les malfaiteurs restent les malfaiteurs. Il retournerait à Finn et il lui dirait que nous sommes ici. (S'adressant à l'homme.) Tu ne dis rien, tourne-toi pour que le coup soit plus sûr. Mets-toi contre le rocher. (L'homme obeit.)

(p. 253) Diarmuid

Dans la bataille je n'ai jamais frappé que mon adversaire et je n'ai jamais frappé quand il n'était pas sur ses gardes. Et quand il tombait, souvent je lui donnais la main; et j'ai souvent déchiré une écharpe pour étancher le sang de ses blessures. (Il coupe un lambeau de son vêtement et l'attache autour du bras du jeune homme.)


Qu'est-ce qu'il dira à Finn?


Je lui donne ces pommes d'or et Finna saura que ce n'est pas lui qui les a trouvées. Oui, je lui donnerai cette branche, et Finna saura que je tiens mon serment.


Entre ses mains les pommes seront flétries, elles n'arriveront pas à Finn si elles sont les pommes dont le berger nous a parlé, elles disparaîtront comme une poussière légère. (Diarmuid donne la branche à l'homme, et l'homme s'en va traînant le cadavre de son compagnon.) Tu aurais dû le tuer, il conduira Finn à cette caverne. Il faut que nous cherchions des landes plus désertes, plus inconnues.


Peut-être au bout de ces landes où il faut que nous nous cachions des années, peut-être trouverons-nous une douce vallée paisible.


Et alors, Diarmuid, dans cette vallée que se passerait-il entre nous?


Grania, j'ai prêtée serment à Finn.


Oui, mais le serment que tu as prêté à Finn ne te poursuit pas dans la forêt: les dieux à qui tu as fait appel ne règnent pas ici. Ici les divinités sont autres.


Si cet homme nous trahit, il y a deux sorties à cette caverne et, comme tu dis, il ne faut pas attendre ici, il faut que nous nous en allions très loin.

(p. 254) Grania

Je ne puis te suivre. Je pense à toi, Diarmuid, nuit et jour, et mon désir me laisse sans force; je t'aime, Diarmuid, et les pommes que tu as trouvées dans cette vallée désolée ne sont-elles pas un signe que ma bouche est pour ta bouche?


Je ne puis t'écouter ... nous trouverons un asile quelque part. Viens au jour. La caverne te fait peur et elle me fait peur aussi. Il y du sang ici et une odeur de sang.


Restons, Diarmuid: tu es un guerrier renommé, et tu as vaincu deux hommes devant mes yeux. Mais, Diarmuid, la pomme qui est tombée dans ma robe ... regarde-la: elle ose plus que toi. Nous avons des périls à traverser ensemble, les serments que tu as prêtés à Tara ne te regardent plus. Notre monde sera autre et nos divinités seront autres.


Mais j'ai prêté serment à Finn. Finn c'est mon frère d'armes, mon capitaine. Combien de fois nous avons été contre l'ennemi ensemble!—non, Grania, je ne puis.

(Il la prend dans ses bras. La scène s'obscurcit.)


Le jour est pour la bataille et pour les périls, pour la poursuite et pour la fuite; mais la nuit est le silence pour les amants qui n'ont plus rien qu'eux-mêmes. (Un changement de scène; maintenant on est dans une vallée pierreuse à l'entrée d'une caverne, à gauche un bois et le soleil commence à baisser.)

The introduction of French dialogue into the pages of this book breaks the harmony of the English narrative, but there is no help for it; for only by printing my French of Stratford atte Bowe can I hope to convince the reader that two such literary lunatics as Yeats and myself existed, contemporaneously, and in Ireland, too, a country not distinguished for its love of letters. The scene in the ravine, which follows the scene in the cave, was written in the same casual memory of the French language, and its literature. We can think, but we cannot think profoundly, in a foreign language, and though a sudden sentiment may lift us for a while out of the common rut, we soon fall back and (p. 255) crawl along through the mud till the pen stops. Mine stopped suddenly towards the end of the act, and I wandered out of the reading-room into the verandah to ponder on my folly in having come to France to write Diarmuid and Grania, and to rail against myself for having accepted Yeats's insulting proposal.

When my fit of ill temper had passed away, I admitted that reason would be amenable to the writing of Diarmuid and Grania in Irish, but to do that one would have to know the Irish language, and to learn it, it would be necessary to live in Arran for some years. A vision of what my life would be there rose up: a large, bright cottage with chintz curtains, and homely oaken furniture, and some three or four Impressionist pictures, and the restless ocean my only companion until I knew enough Irish for daily speech. But ten years among the fisherfolk might blot out all desire of literature in me, and even if it didn't, and if I succeeded in acquiring Irish (which was impossible), it would be no nearer to the language spoken by Diarmuid and Grania than modern English is to Beowulf.

But what is all this nonsense that keeps on drumming in my head about the Irish language and Anglo-Irish? And I went out of the hotel into the street convinced that any further association with Yeats would be ruin to me. Lady Gregory feared that I should break up the mould of his mind. But it is he that is breaking up the mould of mine. I must step out of his way. And as for writing Diarmuid and Grania in French—not another line! My folly ends on the scene in my pocket, which I'll keep to remind me what a damned fool a clever man like Yeats can be when he is in the mood to be a fool. A moment after, it seemed to me that it would be well to write and tell him that I would give the play up to him and Lady Gregory to finish; and I would have given them Diarmuid and Grania if it had not been my one Irish subject at the time, life without a subject not being easily conceived by me; so I decided to retain it, and next day returned to England and to Sickert.

The pictures on the easels were forgotten, and the manuscripts in Victoria Street, so obsessed were we by the thought that, while we were talking, De Wet's army might be caught in one of Kitchener's wire entanglements, and the war be brought to an end, and I remember that very often as I stared at Sickert across the studio my thoughts would resolve into a prayer that the means might be put into my hands to humiliate this detestable England, this brutal people! A prayer not very likely to be answered, and I wondered at my folly while I prayed. Yet it was answered. Every week letters came to me from South Africa, as they came to every other Englishman, Irishman, and Scotchman, and it is not likely that any of these letters contained news that others did (p. 256) not read in their letters or in the newspapers; but soon after my prayer in Sickert's studio, a letter was put into my hands containing news so terrific that for a long time I sat, unable to think, bewildered, holding myself in check, resisting the passion that nearly compelled me to run into the street and cry aloud the plan that an English General had devised. De Wet was in the angle formed by the junction of two rivers; the rivers were in flood; he could go neither back nor forwards; and troops were being marched along either bank, the superior officers of every regiment receiving orders, so my correspondent informed me, that firing was not to cease when De Wet was caught in the triangle and the white flag raised. My correspondent said, and said justly, that if notice had been given at the beginning of the war that quarter would not be asked for nor given, we might have said, This is too horrible, and covered our faces, but we should not have been able to charge our Generals with treachery. But no such notice had been given, and he reminded me that we were accepting quarter from the Boers at the rate of eight hundred a day. A murder plot, pure and simple, having nothing in common with any warfare waged by Europeans for many centuries. It must be stopped, and publication will stop it. But is there a newspaper in London that will publish it? One or two were tried, and in vain. And while you dally with me, I cried, De Wet and his army may be massacred. Only in Ireland is there any sense of right.

And next day, in Dublin, I dictated the story to the editor of the Freeman's Journal. The Times reprinted it, and the editor of a Cape paper copies it from the Times, upon which the military authorities in South Africa disowned and repudiated the plot. If they had not done so, the whole of Cape Colony, as I thought, would have risen against us; and once the plot was repudiated, the Boers were safe; it would be impossible to revive the methods of Tamburlaine on another occasion. The Boer nation was saved and England punished, and in her capacious pocket that she loves so well. The war, I reflected, was costing England two millions a week, and with the white flag respected, it will last some years longer; at the very lowest estimate my publication will cost England two hundred millions. The calculation put an alertness into my step, and I walked forth, believing myself to be the instrument chosen by God whereby an unswerving, strenuous, Protestant people was saved from the designs of the lascivious and corrupt Jew, and the stupid machinations of a nail-maker in Birmingham. In a humbler and more forgiving mood I might have looked upon myself as having saved England from a crime that would have cried shame after her till the end of history. A great delirium of the intellect and the senses had overtaken Englishmen at that time, and how far they had wandered from their true selves can be guessed from the fact that that great and good man (p. 257) Kruger, who loved God and his fellow-countrymen, was scorned throughout the whole British Press—and why? Because he read his Bible. Even to the point of ridiculing the reading of the Bible did a Birmingham nail-maker beguile the English people from their true selves.

There is great joy in believing oneself to be God's instrument, and it seemed to me, as I walked, that my mission had ended in England with the exposure of the murder plan, and that I had earned my right to France, to my own instinctive friends, to the language that should have been mine; and it was while thinking that England was now behind me, and for ever, that a presence semed to gather, or rather, seemed to follow me as I went towards Chelsea. The first sensation was thin, but it deepened at every moment, and when I entered the Hospital Road I did not dare to look behind me, yet not for fear lest my eyes should see something they had never seen before, something not of this world; and walking in a devout collectedness, I heard a voice speaking within me: no whispering thought it was, but a resolute voice, saying, Go to Ireland! The words were so distinct and clear that I could not turn to look. Nobody was within many yards of me. I walked on, but had not taken many steps before I heard the voice again. Order your manuscripts and your pictures and your furniture to be packed at once, and go to Ireland. Of this I am sure—that the words Go to Ireland did not come from within, but from without. The minutes passed by, and I waited to hear the voice again, but I could hear nothing except my own thoughts telling me that no Messiah had been found by me at the dinner at the Shelbourne Hotel because the Messiah Ireland was waiting for was in me and not in another.

So the summons has come, I said—the summons has come; and I walked, greatly shaken in my mind, feeling that it would be impossible for me to keep my appointment with the lady who had asked me to tea that evening. To chatter with her about indifferent things would be impossible, and I returned to Victoria Street unable to think of anything but the voice that had spoken to me; its tone, its timbre, lingered in my ear through that day and the next, and for many days my recollection did not seem to grow weaker. All the same I remained doubtful; at all events, unconvinced of the authenticity of the summons that I had received. It was hard to abandon my project of going to live in my own country, which was France, and I said to myself, If the summons be a real one and no delusion of the senses, it will be repeated. Next morning, as I lay between sleeping and waking, I heard the words, Go to Ireland! Go to Ireland! repeated by the same voice, and this time it was close by me, speaking into my ear. It seemed to speak within five or six inches, and it was so clear and distinct that I put out my hand to detain the (p. 258) speaker. The same voice, I said to myself; the same words, only this time the words were repeated twice. When I hear them again they will be repeated three times, and then I shall know.

But our experience in life never enables us to divine what our destiny will be, nor the manner in which it may be revealed to us. The voice was not heard again, but a few weeks afterwards, in my drawing-room, the presence seemed to fill the room, overpowering me; and though I strove to resist it, in the end it forced me upon my knees, a prayer was put into my mouth, and I prayed, but to whom I prayed I do not know, only that I was conscious of a presence about me and that I prayed. Doubt was no longer possible. I had been summoned to Ireland! Tonks collected some friends to dinner; Steer and Sickert were among the company, and it was pointed out to me that no man could break up his life as I proposed to break up mine with impunity. It is no use. Nothing that you can say will change me.

My manner must have impressed them; they must have felt that my departure was decreed by some unseen authority, and that, no doubt, the Boer War had made any further stay in England impossible to me.

(p. 259) SALVE


As I returned home after the dinner at Tonks's lightly weighing my friends' talents, the thought suddenly struck me that in leaving London I was leaving them for ever, whether in a week or six weeks I did not know; only of this was I sure, that my departure could not be much longer delayed; and while passing through Grosvenor Gardens, I began to wonder by what means the Destiny I had just heard would pull me out of my flat in Victoria Street. Two years or eighteen months of my lease still remained; this lag end had been advertised, but no desirable tenant had presented himself, and it did not seem to me that I could go away to Dublin leaving the flat empty, taking with me all my pictures and furniture. A house in Dublin would be part of my equipment as a Gaelic League propagandist, and it would cost me a hundred pounds a year; houses in Dublin are rarely in good repair, some hundreds might have to be spent upon it; and, falling into an armchair, I asked myself where all this money was to come from. My will is always at ebb when the necessity arises of writing to my banker to ask him how many hundred pounds are between me and destitution. We are but a heredity. My father was a spendthrift and hated accounts, and to me accounts are as mysterious as Chinese, as repellent. We are the same man with a difference; the pain that his pecuniary embarrassment caused him seems to have fallen on me with such force that I am naturally economical. My agent said when he visited me in the Temple: Very few would be content to live in a cock-loft like you, George. His remark or a certain lady's objection to the three flights of stairs had tempted me out of the Temple, and now hatred of the Boer War was forcing me into what seemed a pit of ruin. Two hundred and fifty a year I shall be paying for houses, I said, and yet I must go; even if I am to end my days in the workhouse I must go, even though to engage in Gaelic League propaganda may break up the mould of my mind. The mould of my mind doesn't interest me any longer, it is an English mould; better break it up at once and have done with it. Whereupon my thoughts faded away into a vague meditation in which ideas did not shape themselves, and next morning I rose from my bed undecided whether I should go or stay, but knowing all the while that I was going. It was a (p. 260) queer feeling, day passing over day, and myself saying to myself: I am twelve hours nearer departure than I was yesterday, yet having no idea how I was going to be freed from my flat, but certain that something would come to free me. And the something that came was the Westminster Trust, a Company that had been formed for the purpose of acquiring property in Victoria Street.

It had been creeping up from Westminster for some time past, absorbing house after house, turning the grey austere residential mansions built in 1830 into shops. It had reached within a few doors of me about the time of my landlord's death, and, as soon as his property passed into the hands of the Trust, notice was served upon the tenants that their leases would not be renewed. One lease, that of a peaceable General Officer who lived over my head and never played the piano, expired about that time, and as arrangements could not be made for turning his flat at once into offices it was let, temporarily, to a foreign financier, who demanded more light. The extra windows that were put in to suit his pleasure and convenience seemed to the Company's architect such an improvement that the Company offered to put extra windows into my rooms free of cost.

But don't you see that if two windows be put in, the present admirable relation of wall space to window will be destroyed?

Light, after all—

I engaged these rooms, I said, because I believed that they would afford me the quiet necessary for the composition of books, but for the last three weeks I haven't heard the sweet voice of a silent hour. Have you an ear for music? Tell me if a silent hour is not comparable to a melody by Mozart? You live in a quiet suburban neighbourhood, I'm sure, and can tell me. All the beautiful peace of Peckham is in your face.

The manager regretted that the improvements over my head had caused me inconvenience, and he suggested putting me upon half-rent until these were completed; a surprisingly generous offer, so thought I at the time; but very soon I discovered that the reduction of my rent gave him all kinds of rights, including the building of a wall depriving my pantry of eight or nine inches of light, and the chipping away of my window-sills. The news that I was about to lose my window-sills brought me out of my bedroom in pyjamas, and, throwing up the window, I got out hurriedly and seated myself on the sill, thinking that by so doing I could defy the workmen. Bill, drop yer 'ammer on his fingernails. Better wait and see 'ow long 'e'll stand this fine frosty morning in his pi-jamas. The wisdom of this workman inspired my servant to cry to me to come in. We both feared pneumonia, but if I did not dress myself very quickly, the workmen would have knocked away (p. 261) the window-sill. It was a race between us, and I think that half the sill was gone when I was partially dressed, so I seated myself on the last half.

Let him bide, cried one workman to his mate who was threatening my fingers with the hammer; and they continued their improvements about my windows, filling my rooms with dust and noise. I know not how it started, but a tussle began between me and one of the stone-cutters. We'll see what the magistrate will have to say about this bloody assault, said the man as he climbed down the ladder, and when I had finished my dressing I went to my solicitor, who seemed to look upon the struggle on the scaffolding as very serious. His application for redress was answered by a letter saying that if a summons were issued against the Company, a cross-summons would be issued against me for assault on one of the workmen. A civil action, the solicitor said, was my remedy; and I should have gone on with this if the Company had not expressed a good deal of regret when the tradesmen engaged in laying down a parquet floor for the financier brought down my dining-room ceiling with a crash. The director sent men at once to sweep up the litter, and he ordered his new tenant, the financier, to restore the ceiling; but my solicitor advised me to refuse the tradesmen admission, and by doing so I found that I had again put myself in the wrong; the ceiling was put up at my expense after a long interval during which I dined in the drawing-room. My solicitor's correspondence with the Company did not procure me any special terms; the Company merely repeated an offer they had previously made, which was to buy up the end of my lease for £100, a very inadequate compensation, it seemed to me, for the annoyance I had endured; but as I felt that my solicitor could not cope with the Company, I came gradually to the conclusion that I had better accept the £100. It would pay for the removal of all my furniture and pictures to Dublin, leaving something over for the house which I would have to hire and at once, for the offer of the Company was subject to my giving up possession at the end of the month.

I ordered my trunk to be packed that evening, and next morning was at the house-agent's office in Grafton Street; and while the clerk made out a long list of houses for me I told him my requirements. The houses in Merrion Square are too large for a single man of limited income; I had lived with my mother in one when boycotting brought me back from France; the houses in Stephen's Green are as fine, but even if one could have been gotten at a reasonable rental, Stephen's Green did not tempt me, my imagination turning rather to a quiet, old-fashioned house with a garden situated in some sequestered, half-forgotten street in which old ladies live—pious women who would pass my window every Sunday morning along the pavement on their way to (p. 262) church. The house-agent did not think he had exactly the house, street, and the inhabitants I described upon his books, but there was a house he thought would suit me in Upper Mount Street. I remembered the street dimly; a chilly street with an uninteresting church at the end of it. A bucolic relation had taken a house in Upper Mount Street in the 'eighties and had given parties with a view to ridding himself of two uninteresting sisters-in-law, but the experiment had failed. So I knew what the houses in Upper Mount Street were like—ugly, common, expensive. Why trouble to visit them? All the same, I visited two or three, and from the doorstep of one I caught sight of Mount Street Crescent, bending prettily about a church. But there were no bills in any window, and the jarvey was asked why he didn't take me to Lower Mount Street.

Because, he said, all the houses there are lodging-houses, and he turned his horse's head and drove me into a delightful draggle-tailed end of the town, silhouetting charmingly, I remembered, on the evening sky, for I had never failed to admire Baggot Street when I visited Dublin. There is always something strangely attractive in a declining neighbourhood, and thinking of the powdered lackeys that must have stood on steps that now a poor slavey washes, I began to dream. The house that I had been directed to was no doubt a fine one, but its fate is declension, for it lives in my memory not by marble chimney-pieces nor Adam ceilings, but by the bite of the most ferocious flea that I ever met, caught from the caretaker, no doubt, at the last moment, for I was on the car before he nipped me in the middle of the back, exactly where I can't scratch, and from there he jumped down upon my loins and nipped me again and again, until I arrived at the Shelbourne, where I had to strip naked to discover him.

If the Creator of fleas had not endowed them with a passion for whiteness, humanity would perish, I muttered, descending the stairs.

Are you after catching him, sir? the jarvey asked.

Yes, and easily, for he was drunk with my blood as you might be upon John Jameson on Saturday night, and we drove away to Fitzwilliam Square.

The houses there are large and clean, but the rents were higher than I wished to pay, and it did not seem to me that I should occupy an important enough position in the Square. Something a little more personal, I said to myself, and drove away to Leeson Street: a repetition of Baggot Street, decrepit houses that had once sheltered an aristocracy, now falling into the hands of nuns and lodging-house keepers. It was abandoned for Harcourt Street, but despite the attraction of some magnificent areas and lamp-posts with old lanterns, I decided that I would not live in Harcourt Street and returned to the agent, who produced (p. 263) another list and next day I visited Pembroke Road and admired the great flights of granite steps that lead to doorways that seemed to bespeak a wife and family so emphatically that I drove to Clyde Road. And finding it too pompous and suburban, too significant of distillers and brewers, I told the jarvey to drive me to Waterloo Road, a long monotonous road, with some pretty houses and gardens, connecting Pembroke Road with Upper Leeson Street; but unable to associate it in my mind with my mission to Ireland, I cried out: Castlewood Avenue! The jarvey took me thither, but the avenue, at once shabby and genteel, disappointed me. I cried to the jarvey: Clonskeagh! He took me up the Rathmines Road into Clonskeagh, where I found some pleasant houses, not one of which was to let—the old story of houses that had long been let remaining on the agent's books. After Clonskeagh we wandered through Terenure into a desolate region which the jarvey told me was Clondalkin, and followed a lonely road that seemed to lead away from all human habitation.

But you see, I said to the driver, I'm looking for a house in the town.

It is to The Moat we are going, he answered; and half an hour later our horse stopped before a drawbridge, which I doubted not would cost a great deal of money to put it into working order. But when it is lifted my friends will know that I am composing; and it can be let down at tea-time. A grand sight it will be to see them, all Gaelic Leaguers of course, walk across it into the moated grange. About a thousand pounds, the caretaker said, would make the place quite comfortable, and I answered that The Moat appealed to me in many ways, but that I had not come to Ireland in search of a picturesque residence, but in the hope of reviving the language of the tribe whose wont it was to come down from the rim of blue hills over yonder to invade Dublin and to be repulsed by different garrisons of the Pale. One was no doubt ensconced here, and thinking of Mount Venus, the house that I had visited high up in the Dublin mountains many years ago, wondering whether it would suit me better to live there than to live at The Moat, I said to myself: I shall have to live in one or the other, for there doesn't seem to be any house to let in Dublin City.

A thousand pounds are needed to make The Moat habitable, and that is more than I wish to spend, I said to the clerk, and begged him to give me another list of houses; again he searched his books, and a few more addresses were added to the list.

I'll try these tomorrow, and, leaving the office, I followed the pavement along Trinity College Gardens, my feet taking me instinctively to AE. He settles everybody's difficulties and consoles the afflicted.

If I don't find a house, I said to him, in Dublin, I shall have to return (p. 264) to that Inferno which is London, and I attempted a description of Mafeking night and other nights. There are no houses, AE, to let. I've searched everywhere and can find nothing but The Moat, and Mount Venus, no doubt, is still vacant, but it's a good five miles distant from Ranfarnham, and you won't be able to come to see me very often.

AE's grey eyes lit up with a kindly, witty smile.

Nature, he said, has given you energy, vitality, and perseverance, my dear Moore, but she has denied you the gift of patience, and patience above all things is needed when seeking a house.

But I've searched Merrion Square, Fitzwilliam Square, Harcourt Street, and many a suburb.

There were at the time three bank managers waiting to receive instructions from him, but he listened to my story, and I noticed that the anxious typist with a sheaf of letters in her hand did not distract his attention from me; he dismissed her, but without abruptness, and came down to the door refusing to believe that it would be impossible for me to find a house in Dublin.

Ireland thrives in her belief in you, I answered; perhaps I shall. For two days I did not hear from him, but on the third morning, as I was asking myself if it would be worth while to hire another car to go forth again to hunt through Mountjoy Square and Rutland Square where the aristocracy before the Union had built their mansions, the porter came to tell me that a gentleman wanted to see me. It was AE, who had come to tell me that he had found me a house; within a few minutes' walk of Stephen's Green. The perfect residence, he said, for a man of letters; one of five little eighteenth-century houses shut off from the thoroughfare, and with an orchard opposite which may be yours for two or three pounds a year if you know how to bargain with the landlord.

As he spoke these words we turned a corner and came into sight of an old iron gateway; behind it were the five eighteenth-century houses, five modest little houses, but every one with tall windows; a single window above the area, no doubt the dining-room, and above it a pair of windows with balconies; behind them were the drawing-rooms, and the windows above these were the bedroom windows.

Not a single pane of plate-glass in the house, AE! The room above mine is the cook's room, and if there are some back rooms?

He assured me that the houses were deep and had several back rooms; the drawing-rooms were large and lofty, and, as well as he remembered, the back windows in the dining and drawing-rooms overlooked the convent garden.

I should have tramped round Dublin for a month without finding anything, and in three days you have found the house that suits me. Tell me how you did it.

(p. 265) Number 3 was the home of the Theosophical Society, and I remember, while editing the Review, I used to envy those that had the right to walk in the orchard.

And now you can walk there whenever you please, and dine with me under that apple-tree, AE, if the Irish summer is warm enough.

But you haven't seen the house yet.

I don't want to see the house until my furniture is in it. I'm no judge of unfurnished houses.

But he insisted on ringing the bell, and while he was making inquiries about the state of the roof and the kitchen flue, I was upstairs admiring marble mantelpieces of no mean design, and cottages that the back windows overlooked.

AE, I beseech you to leave off talking about boilers and cisterns and all such tiresome things. Come upstairs at once and see the dear little slum, and the two washerwomen in it. I wish we could hear what they're saying.

One does hear some bad language sometimes, the caretaker murmured, turning her head away.

I'm sure they blaspheme splendidly. Blasphemy is the literature of Catholic countries. AE, what an inveterate mystic you are, as practical as St Teresa; whereas I am content if the windows and mantelpieces are eighteenth century. Don't let the slum trouble you, my good woman. A man of letters never objects to a slum. He sharpens his pen there.

The convent garden, sir, on the right—

Yes, I see, and a great many night-shirts out drying.

No, sir, the nuns' underwear.

Better and better. Into what Eden have you led me, AE? Who is the agent of this Paradise? Is his name Peter?

No, sir; Mr Thomas Burton.

And his address?

He lives at the Hill, Wimbledon. The landlord lives in Wicklow.

How extraordinary! The landlord of an Irish property living in Ireland and the agent in London. Shall I have to go back to England and interview this agent? AE? I can't go back.

You won't be quit of England until your affairs are settled.

But I can't go back.

AE smiled so kindly that I half forgot my anger, and my impulsiveness began to amuse me.

You're always right, AE.

Don't say so, for there's nobody so boring—

As the righteous man.... But come into the garden, where we shall dine, I hope, often. A wilderness it seems at present, but the hen-coops and swings can be removed. He took out his watch. I begged him to (p. 266) stay. He said he couldn't, and bade me goodbye quickly. But, AE, I'm going—

Whither I went that evening I cannot remember; all I know for certain is that at some assembly, not at the Mansion House or at the Rotunda, therefore in some private house (I am sure it was in some private house, for I remember gaseliers, silk cushions, ladies' necks), I rushed up to Hyde, both hands extended, my news upon my lips.

Hyde, I've come over; it's all settled. I've been driving about Dublin for a week without finding a house, and would have had to go away, leave you—think of it!—if AE hadn't come to my help in the nick of time. He has found me such a beautiful house, Hyde, where you'll come to dine, and where, perhaps, we'll be able to talk together in Irish, for I am determined to learn the language.

You don't mean it? You don't tell me that you've left London for good? You're only joking, and he laughed that vacant little laugh which is so irritating.

But tell me, are you advancing?

We're getting on finely. If we could only get the Intermediate—

The Intermediate is most important; but what I want to know is if I shall be able to help you.

You've done a great deal already, but—

But what?

Your book Parnell and His Island will go against you with the League.

I should have thought the League was here to accept those that are willing to help Ireland to recover her language, and not to bother about my past.

That's the way we are over here, he said, and again I had to endure his irritating little laugh. But I'm thinking.... The League might be reconciled to your book if you were to issue it with a sub-title—Parnell and His Island, or Ireland Without Her Language. I was reading your book the other day, and do you know I wouldn't say that it wasn't your best book?

It is mere gabble, I answered, and cannot be reissued.

You can't think that? And dropping a hint that I might be more useful to them in England than in Ireland, he turned away to tell dear Edward that he was delighted to see him. Now have you come up from the West for the meeting? You don't tell me so? I don't believe you. Edward reassured him. And your friend, George Moore, has come over from London; and with you both to back the League—

How are you, George? I heard you had arrived.

What, already!

Father Dineen saw you; I met him in Kildare Street this afternoon (p. 267) and he told me to tell you that the Keating Branch were saying that you're coming over here to write them up in the English papers.

You start your rumours very quickly in Dublin, I answered angrily, and a stupider one I never heard. I don't write for the papers; even if I did, the Keating Branch—I know nothing about it. Hyde, I wish you would use your influence to stop—

I was just telling him that he should reissue Parnell and His Island with a sub-title Ireland Without Her Language. Now, what do you think? We're all very anxious to hear what you think, Martyn.

It would have been much better if he had never written that book. I told him so at the time. I have always told you, George, that I understand Ireland. I mayn't understand England—

But what do you mean when you say that you understand Ireland?

Yeats joined our group, and when Edward said that I had decided to come to live in Dublin he tried a joke, but it got lost in the folds of his style, and he looked at Hyde and at Martyn disconsolate. MacNeill, the Vice-President of the Gaelic League, sidled through the crowd—an honest fellow with a great deal of brown beard. But I couldn't get him to express any opinion regarding my coming, or the view that the League would take of it.

But your subscription will be received gratefully, he said, moving away to avoid further interrogation.

Money, I answered, is always received with gratitude, but I've come to work for the League as well as to subscribe to it, and shall be glad to hear what kind of work you propose to put me to. Would you care to send me to America to collect funds? What do you think? A Gaelic League missionary?

MacNeill answered that if I went to America and collected money the League would be glad to receive it; but he didn't think that the League would send me over as its representative. They would be glad, however, to receive some journalistic help from me. One of the questions that was engaging the League's attention at the time was how to improve The Claidheamh Soluis and he suggested that I should call upon the editor at my convenience. The last words, at my convenience, seemed unnecessary, for had I not come to Dublin to serve the Gaelic League?

Next morning, in great impatience, I sought the offices of the Gaelic League, and after many inquiries of the passers-by, discovered the number hidden away in a passage, and then the offices themselves at the top of a dusty staircase. An inscription in a strange language was assuring, and a memory of the County of Mayo in my childhood told me that the syllables that bade me enter were Gaelic and not German. A couple of rough-looking men, peasants, no doubt, and native Irish speakers, (p. 268) sat on either side of a large table with account-books before them, and in answer to my question if I could see the editor, one of them told me that he was not in at present.

But you speak Irish? I said.

Both of them nodded, and, forgetful of the business upon which I had come, I began to question them as to their knowledge of the language, and I am sure that my eyes beamed when they told me that they both contributed to the Claidheamh.

Your Vice-President MacNeill sent me here. He would like me to write an article. I am George Moore.

I'll tell the editor when he comes in, and if you'll send in your article he'll consider it. The next few numbers are full up.

This man must be a member of the Keating Branch, said I to myself; and, though aware of my folly, I could not restrain my words, but fell to assuring him at once that I had not come to Ireland to write the Keating Branch up in the English papers. He was sure I hadn't, but my article would have to be submitted to the editor all the same.

I appreciate your independence, and I'll submit an article, but in England editors are not quite so Olympian to me.

The men returned to their account-books, and I left the office a little crestfallen, seeking somebody who would neither look upon my coming with suspicion, nor treat it as a joke; but finding no one until I met AE in College Green coming out of a vegetarian eating-house, lighting his pipe after his dish of lentils.

Ah, my dear Moore!

It is a great good fortune to have a friend whose eyes light up always when they see one, and whose mind stoops or lifts itself instinctively to one's trouble, divining it, whether it be spiritual or material. Before I had time to speak he had begun to feel that Cathleen ni Houlihan was not treating me very kindly, and he allowed me to entertain him with an account of my visit to the Gaelic League, and the rebuffs that I had received from the assistant-editors of the Claidheamh Soluis.

Neither of them knew my name, neither had seen my article in the Nineteenth Century, and last night Hyde said perhaps I would be more use to them over in England. Nobody wants me here, AE, and yet I'm coming. I know I am.

But there is other work to do here, he answered, beside the Gaelic League.

None that would interest me. All I know for certain is that I am coming despite jokes and suspicion. When I told Hyde that I had disposed of the lease of my flat he said: Now, is that so? You don't tell me you've left London for good? Yeats tries to treat my coming as an exquisite joke. Edward is afraid that I may trouble somebody's religious (p. 269) convictions. Nobody wants me, AE. Can you tell me why I am coming to Dublin? If you can you're a cleverer man than I am. You are that in any case. All I had hoped for was a welcome and some enthusiasm; no bonfires, torchlight processions, banners, bands, Cead mille failte's, nothing of that kind, only a welcome. It may be that I did expect some appreciation of the sacrifice I was making, for you see I'm throwing everything into the flames. Isn't it strange, AE? You understand, but the others don't, so I'll tell you something that I heard Whistler say years ago. It was in the Old Grosvenor Gallery. I have forgotten what we were talking about; one remembers the words but not what led up to them. Nothing, he said, I suppose, matters to you except your writing. And his words went to the very bottom of my soul, frightening me; and I have asked myself again and again if I were capable of sacrificing brother, sister, mother, fortune, friend, for a work of art. One is near madness when nothing really matters but one's work, and I tell you that Whistler's words frightened me just as Rochefoucauld's famous epigram has frightened thousands. You know it? Something about the misfortunes of our best friends never being wholly disagreeable to us. We don't take pleasure in hearing of the misfortunes of our friends, but there is a truth in Rochefoucauld's words all the same; and it wasn't until the Boer War drove me out of England that I began to think that Whistler's words mightn't be truer than Rochefoucauld's.

AE took out his watch and said he must be getting back to his office.

I'm crossing tonight, I cried after him, and in the steamer's saloon all I had not said to him rambled on and on in my head, and the summary of it all is that it might be better for me if Whistler's words were true, for in leaving England there could be no doubt that I was leaving a literary career behind me. England had been my inspiration. A Mummer's Wife and Esther Waters seemed conclusive proof that I could only write about England. Then, what is it, I cried, starting up from my berth, that is driving me out of England? for it is not natural to feel as determined as I feel, especially for me, who am not at all self-willed. I am being driven, and I am being pushed headlong into the unknown.

There was no motion on board, and believing that we must be by this time nearing the Welsh coast, I climbed the brassy stairs and stood watching the unwrinkled tide sweeping round the great rock. Along the foreland the shapes of the fields were visible in the moon-haze, and, while studying the beauty of the world by night, a lone star reminded me of Stella and I said:

A man is never wholly unhappy as long as he is sure of his mistress's love.

After all, she said, some hours later, a month isn't a long while.

(p. 270) It will pass too quickly, I answered, and to avoid reproaches, and in the hope of enticing her to Ireland, I told her of a garden in the midst of Dublin with apple-trees and fig-trees and an avenue of lilac-bushes as one comes down the steps from the wicket.

For the garden is lower than the street, and in the ditch (I know not how else to explain it) there are hawthorns and laburnums.

Four walks, she said, and a grass plot.

There's a walk down the middle.

Which can be sodded over. But why should I trouble to arrange your garden for you since I shall not see you any more?

But you will come to paint in Ireland?

Do you think that you'd like me to?

My dear Stella, the question is can I live in Ireland without you? and I besought her for the sake of her art. The Irish mountains are as beautiful as the Welsh. Dublin is backed by blue hills, and you won't be obliged to live in a detestable cottage as you were last year in Wales, but in a fine house. And I told her that in my search for one to live in I had come across a house in Clondalkin, or near it, that would suit her perfectly—a moated stead built in the time of Anne, and, seeing she was interested, I described how I had crossed the moat by a little bridge, and between the bridge and the front door there were about thirty yards of gravel. The left wall of the house rises sheer out of the moat; on the other side there is a pathway, and at the back a fairly large garden—close on a hundred yards, I should say—and you like gardening, Stella.

I'm afraid that so much stagnant water—

But, dear one, the water of the moat is not stagnant; it is fed at the upper end by a stream, and it trickles away by the bridge into a brook.

And the house itself? she asked.

It is two-storeyed and there are some fine rooms in it, one that I think you could paint in. My recollection is a little dim, but I remember a dining-room and a very handsome drawing-room, and I think my impression was that a thousand pounds spent upon it would give you such a house as you couldn't get anywhere else. Of that I am sure, and the country about it is all that your art requires. I remember a row of fine chestnuts, and beyond it a far-reaching stretch of tilth to the valley of the Liffey. Promise me that you'll come? She promised. And now, dear one, tell me of some one who will remove my furniture.


A description of a furniture removal would have appealed to my aesthetic sense twenty years ago, and my style of Médan thread was (p. 271) strong enough to capture packers and their burdens; but the net that I cast now is woven of fine silk for the capture of dreams, memories, hopes, aspirations, sorrows, with here and there a secret shame. So I will say no more than that I was out of the house one morning early, lest I should see a man seize the coal-scuttle and walk away with it, and on returning home that night I found that everything in the drawing-room and the dining-room and the spare-room and the ante-room had been taken away, only the bedroom remained intact, and I wandered round the shell that I had lived in so long, pondering on the strange fact that my life in Victoria Street was no more than a dream, and with no more reality in it, I added, than the dream that I shall dream here tonight.

Jane, this is the last time you'll call me, for I'm going away by the mail at half past eight from Euston.

Your life is all pleasure and glory, but I shall have to look round for another place, I heard her say, as she pulled at the straps of my portmanteau, and her resentment against me increased when I put a sovereign into her hand. She cooked me excellent dinners, making life infinitely agreeable to me; a present of five pounds was certainly her due, and a sovereign was more than enough for the porter, whom I suspected of poisoning my cat—a large, grey, and affectionate animal upon whom Jane, without the aid of a doctor, had impressed the virtue of chastity so successfully that he never sought the she, but remained at home, a quiet, sober animal that did not drink milk, only water, and who, when thrown up to the ceiling, refrained from turning round, content to curl himself into a ball, convinced that my hands would receive him—an animal to whom I was so much attached that I had decided to bring him with me in a basket; but a few weeks before my departure he died of a stoppage in his entrails, brought about probably by a morsel of sponge fried in grease—a detestable and cruel way of poisoning cats often practised by porters. It was pitiful to watch the poor animal go to his pan and try to relieve himself, but he never succeeded in passing anything, and after the third day refused to try any more. We had recourse to a dose of castor oil, but it did not move him and after consultation we resolved to give an enema if he would allow us. The poor animal allowed us to do our will; he seemed to know that we were trying to help him, and received my caresses and my words with kindly looks while Jane administered the enema, saying that she didn't mind if the whole courtyard saw her do it, all she cared for was to save Jim's life. But the enema did not help him, and after it he neither ate nor drank, but lay down stoically to die. Death did not come to him for a long while; it seemed as if he would never drop off, and at last, unable to bear the sight of his sufferings any longer, Jane held his head in a pail (p. 272) of water, and after a few gasps the trial of life was over. It may have been that he died of the fur that he licked away, collecting in a ball in his entrails, and that there is no cause for me to regret the sovereign given to the porter when the great van drove up to my door to take away the bedroom and kitchen furniture.

Everything except my personal luggage was going to Ireland by a small coasting steamer, which would not arrive for three weeks, and my hope was that the house in Upper Ely Place would then be ready to receive my furniture; but next morning only one workman could be discovered in my new house, and he lazily sweeping. The builder was rung up on the telephone; he promised many things. Three weeks passed away; the furniture arrived, but the vans had to go away again; communications were received from the firm who removed my furniture, demanding the return of the vans, and it was not until a fortnight later that my Aubusson carpet was unrolled in the drawing-room one afternoon in AE's presence, the purple architecture and the bunches of roses shocking him so much that I think he was on the point of asking me to burn my carpet. It affected him so much that it was with difficulty I persuaded him to withdraw his eyes from it and look at the pictures. I would conceal the fact if I dared, but a desire of truth compels me to record that when he first saw Manet's portrait it seemed to him commonplace, even uncouth.

I asked him if the beautiful grey of the background were not in harmony with the exquisite grey of the dress, and if the paint were not spilt upon the canvas like cream, and if the suffused colour in a tea-rose were more beautiful?

Oh, Moore!

Well, if you will not admire the beauty of Manet's paint, admire its morality. How winningly it whispers, Be not ashamed of anything but to be ashamed! And I chose this mauve wallpaper, for upon it this grey portrait will be triumphant. The other Manet is but a sketch, and the casual critic only sees that she is cock-eyed; the whiteness of her shoulders escapes him, and the pink of her breasts blossoms. Manet's pink—almost a white! I remember a peony.... I'll turn the picture a little more to the light. Now, AE, I beseech you to look upon it. No, it doesn't please you. Well, look at my Monet instead; a flooded meadow and willows evanescent in the mist. Compared with Monet, Constable's vision is a journeyman's, and he is by no means seen at his worst in that little picture. But look again at the willows and tell me if the Impressionists did not bring a delicacy of vision into art undreamt-of before. In their pictures the world is young again. Look at this charming girl by Berthe Morisot and tell me, was a girl ever so young before?—an April girl, hyacinth-coloured dress and daffodil hair.

(p. 273) AE liked better Berthe Morisot's picture of her little daughter coming to see the maid who is sewing under a dovecot.

She has caught the mystery of the child's wondering eyes. We call it mystery, he added, but it is merely stupidity. People often say things that are not in the least like them, therefore criticism will reprove me for recording words that AE may have uttered, but which are admittedly not like him.

Ah, here's my Conder! You can't but like this picture of Brighton—the blue sea breaking into foam so cheerfully; a happy lady looks from her balcony at other happy ladies walking in the sunshine. The optimism of painting! AE sighed. You don't like it? Here is a Mark Fisher; women singing under trees. The Land of Wine and Song, he calls it, and if you look through the trees you will see an estuary and a town in long perspective dying in the distance. Like my Mark Fisher, AE. Why do you hesitate?

I do like it, but—

But what?

It is a landscape in some small world, a third the size of our world.

I know what is the matter with you, AE; you're longing for Watts. You try to disguise it, but you are sighing for Time Treading on the Big Toe of Eternity, or Death Bridging Chaos, or The Triumph of Purgatory over Heaven.


No, AE, I'll admit nothing, except that he painted a heron rather well, and then dropped into sixteenth-century treacle. Impressionism is a new melodic invention invisible to you at present. One of these days you'll see it. But there's no use talking about painting. Come into the garden. I'm expecting a lady; she will join us there, and if you'll take her out among the hills she'll show you how to draw a round brush from one side of the canvas to the other without letting it turn round in the middle, leaving a delicious ridge of paint with a lot of little waggles—

But little waggles, my dear Moore, are not—

AE, we've talked enough about painting for one afternoon. Come into the garden.

AE took out his watch; it was nearly three, he must be getting back to his office; but would I tell the lady that he'd be glad to go out painting with her any Sunday morning?

It was sad to lose him, and while walking to the wicket it seemed to me clear that he was the one who could restore to me my confidence in life; and when he left me, a certain mental sweetness seemed to have gone out of the air, and, thinking of him, I began to wonder if he were aware of his own sweetness. It is as spontaneous and instinctive in him as.... A breath of scent from the lilac-bushes seemed to finish my (p. 274) sentence for me, and it carried my mind into a little story I had heard from Hughes. He and AE were students together in the Art School in Dublin, and in a few weeks masters and students were alike amazed at AE's talent for drawing and composition; he sketched the naked model from sight with an ease that was unknown to them, and, turning from the model, he designed a great assembly of Gods about the shores of the lake renowned in Celtic tradition. Compared with him we seemed at that time no more than miserable scratchers and soilers of paper. Hughes's very words! Yet, in spite of an extraordinary fluency of expression, abundant inspiration, and the belief of the whole school that a great artist was in him, AE laid aside his brushes, determined not to pick them up again until he had mastered the besetting temptation that art presented at that moment. He feared it as a sort of self-indulgence which, if yielded to, would stint his life; art with him is a means rather than an end; it should be sought, for by its help we can live more purely, more intensely, but we must never forget that to live as fully as possible is, after all, our main concern; and he had known this truth ever since he had defied God on the road to Armagh.

But his life did not take its definite direction until an Indian missionary arrived in Dublin. It seemed odd that I should have personal knowledge of this very Brahmin. Chance had thrown me in his way; I had met him in West Kensington, and had fled before him; but AE had gone to him instinctively as to a destiny; and a few months later the Upanishads and the Vedas were born again in verse and in prose—the metrical version better than the prose; in the twenties our thoughts run into verse, and AE's flowed into rhyme and metre as easily as into line and colour. But, deriving the same pleasure from the writing of verse as he did from painting, he was again assailed by scruples of conscience, and to free himself from the suspicion that he might be still living in time rather than in eternity, he charged his disciples to decide whether he should contribute essays or poems. It is to their wise decision that we owe the two inspired volumes The Earth Breath and Homeward.

As the reader follows my tracing of AE's soul at a very difficult point in his life, he must be careful to avoid any inference that AE endeavoured to escape from the sensual will because he believed it to be the business of every one to tear it out of his life; an intellect suckled on the lore of the East does not fall into the error of the parish priest, who accepts chastity as a virtue in itself, thinking that if he foregoes the pleasure of Bridget's he is free to devote himself to that of his own belly; and I smiled, for in my imagination I could see a Yogi raising his oriental eyes in contempt at the strange jargon of metaphysics that a burly priest from Connaught, out of breath from the steep ascent, pours over his bowl of rice.

(p. 275) My thoughts melted away and I dreamed a long while, or a moment, I know not which, on the pure wisdom of the East and our own grossness.

But of course, I said, waking up suddenly, we have all to yield something to gain a great deal. Were it otherwise, Society would come to pieces like a rotten sponge. The right of property holds good in all Society; but in the West ethics invade the personal life in a manner unknown to the East, so much so that the Oriental stands agape at our folly, knowing well that every man brings different instincts and ideas into the world with him. The East says to the West, You prate incessantly about monogamy, and the fruit of all your labour is a house divided against itself, for man is polygamous if he is anything, and if our deeds go down one set of lines and our ideas go down another, our lives are wasted, and in the end—

A sudden thought darting across my mind left my sentence unfinished, and I asked myself what manner of man I was. The question had often been asked before, had always remained unanswered; but that day, sitting under my apple-tree, it seemed to me that I had suddenly come upon the secret lair in which the soul hides itself. An extraordinarily clear and inflexible moral sense rose up and confronted me, and, looking down my past life, I was astonished to see how dependent my deeds had always been upon my ideas. I had never been able to do anything that I thought wrong, and my conscience had inspired my books. A Modern Lover is half forgotten, but it seems to me that even in those early days I was interested in the relation of thought and deed. The Mummer's Wife declines, for she is without sufficient personal conscience to detach herself from the conventions in which she has been brought up. Alice Barton in Muslin is a preparatory study, a prevision of Esther Waters; both represent the personal conscience striving against the communal, and, feeling that I had learnt to know myself at last, I rose from the seat, and looked round, thinking that in AE as in myself thought and action are at one. Alike, I said, in essentials, though to the casual observer regions apart.... But everybody in Dublin thinks that he is like AE as everybody in the world thinks he is like Hamlet.

He comes to see me every day between two and three, riding his old bicycle through the gateway; I run to the wicket to let him in, and we walk together to the great apple-tree and sit there talking of Manet and the immortality of the soul. It is pleasant to remember these weeks, for I was very happy in these first conversations; but the reader knows how impossible it is for me to believe that any one likes me for my own sake, and at the end of a week—my happiness may have lasted half-way into the second week—at the end of eight or nine days I was trying to find sufficient reason why AE should seek me out in my garden every afternoon, (p. 276) saying, and saying vainly, that he was attracted by something in me he had been seeking a long while and thought he had found at last. And this seeming to me a very unsatisfying explanation, I began to cast about in my mind for another, coming to the belief, or very nearly to it, that AE recognised me as the spiritual influence that Ireland had been waiting for so long. And the fact that he was the only one in Dublin who had shown no surprise at my coming fortified me in the belief, and I dreamed on until his voice called me out of my dream of himself and myself; and, as if he had been aware all the time that I had been thinking about him, he said:

As soon as you had lived as much of your life as was necessary for you to live in Paris and in London you were led back to us through Yeats?

No, AE, not through Yeats. At most he was an instrument, and it is possible to go further back than him. Martyn was before Yeats. But, like Yeats, he was no more than an instrument, for neither of them wanted me to come back. You did, and somehow I can't help feeling that you knew I was coming back. You had read my books, and it was my books, perhaps, that made you wish for my return. Wish—not as one wishes to smoke a cigarette, but you really did want to have me here?

I certainly did wish that England would return to us some of our men of talent.

But this wasn't the answer that I wanted.

What I would like to know, AE, is did you wish to have me back for my own sake, because you felt that something was lacking in my books? Or was it merely for the sake of Ireland? I'm afraid the questions I'm putting to you make me seem very silly and egotistical, yet I don't feel either.

Perhaps Ireland needs you a little.

I wonder. I suppose Ireland needs us all. But there is something I have never told you—something I have never told anybody.

AE puffed at his pipe in silence, and I strove against the temptation to confide in him the story of the summons I had received on the road to Chelsea, for his idea of me was not of one that saw visions or heard spirit voices. I felt that to be so, without, however, being able to rid myself of the belief that he had discovered in me the spiritual influence that Ireland was waiting for. How complicated everything is!... Nothing will be gained by telling him. I won't tell him. The conversation took a different turn; I felt relieved; the temptation seemed to have passed from me, but a few minutes after my story slipped from my lips as nearly as possible in these words:

You know that I came over here to publish an article in the Freeman's Journal about the Boer War, and the article attracted a great deal of (p. 277) attention? AE nodded, and I could see that he was listening intently. If it hadn't been for that article all the Boers would have been murdered and England would have saved two hundred million pounds. Providence has to make a choice of an instrument; you are chosen today, another tomorrow; that day I was the chosen instrument, and on the road to Chelsea, thinking of this great and merciful Providence, I heard a voice bidding me back to Ireland. It is difficult to know for certain what one hears and what one imagines one has heard; one's thoughts are sometimes very loud, but the voice was from without. I am sure it was, AE. Three or four days afterwards I heard the same words spoken within my ear while I was lying in bed asleep. And the voice spoke so distinctly that I threw out my arms to retain the speaker. Nor is this all. Very soon afterwards, in my drawing-room in Victoria Street about eleven o'clock at night, I experienced an extraordinary desire to pray, which I resisted for a long time. The temptation proved stronger than my power to resist it; and I shall never forget how I fell forward and buried my face in the armchair and prayed.

What prayer did you say?

One can pray without words, surely?

When the hooker that was taking Yeats over to Arran or taking him back to Galway was caught in a storm Yeats fell upon his knees and tried to say a prayer; but the nearest thing to one he could think of was Of man's first disobedience and the fruit, and he spoke as much of Paradise Lost as he could remember.

But, AE, you either believe or you don't believe what I say.

I can quite understand that you're deeply interested in the voice you heard, or think you heard; but our concern isn't so much with it as with the fact that you have been brought back to Ireland.

A cloud then seemed to come between us, and out of this cloud I heard AE saying that if he were to tell people that all his drawings were done from sittings given to him by the Gods, it would be easy for him to sell every stroke he put on canvas, and to pass himself off as a very wonderful person.

But your drawings are done from sittings given to you by the Gods. I remember your telling me that three stood at the end of your bed looking at you one morning.

Three great beings came to my bedside, but I cannot tell you if I saw them directly, as I see you (if I see you directly), or whether I saw them reflected as in a mirror. In either case they came from a spiritual world.

A vision was vouchsafed to you. Why not to me?

I don't dispute the authenticity of your vision, my dear Moore. Why should I? How could I even wish to dispute it? On what grounds?

But you seem to doubt it?

(p. 278) No. A vision is the personal concern of the visionary.

No more! Who sent the vision? Whose voice did I hear? An angel's?

Angels are Jehovah's messengers and apparitors. And this I can say: the Gods that inspired your coming were not Asiatic.

The Gods to whom the English are praying that strength may be given them to destroy the Boers quickly and at little cost—a poor little nation, no bigger than Connaught! The lust for blood was in everybody's face. I had to leave. If the news came in that five hundred Boers were taken prisoners faces darkened, and brightened if the news were that five hundred had been killed. England has made me detest Christianity.... Born in the amphitheatre, which it didn't leave without acquiring a taste for blood, and the newspapers are filled with scorn of Kruger because he reads the Bible. Think of it, AE! Because he reads his Bible!

But don't think of it, my dear Moore.

It would be better not, for when I do life seems too shameful to be endured.... The Bishops of York and Canterbury praying to Jesus or to His Father—which?

Probably to His Father. But go on with your story.

What story?

The message that you received didn't come round to you by way of Judaea.

No, indeed, the Gods that inspired me are among our native divinities. Angus seems to be kind and compassionate, and so far as I know, his clergy never ordered that any one should be burnt at the stake for holding that it was not the kisses but the songs of the birds circling about his forehead that created love. All the same, the Druids—

No one may speak ill of the Druids in AE's presence, and he told me that he did not know of any mention in Irish legends of human sacrifices, and if there had been, the Christian revisers of the legends would not have failed to mention them.

You love the Druids, I said, looking into his calm and earnest face. When you were earning fifty pounds a year in Pim's shop you used to go to Bray Head and address a wondering crowd! Standing on a bit of broken wall, all your hair flowing in the wind, you cried out to them to return to the kind, compassionate Gods that never ordered burnings in the market place, and I don't see why, AE, we should not go forth together and preach the Danaan divinities, north, south, east, and west. You shall be Paul. Barnabas quarrelled with Paul. I'll be Luke and take down your words.

It would be your own thoughts, my dear Moore, that you would be reporting, not mine; and, though Ireland stands in need of a new religion—

(p. 279) And a new language. One is no good without the other.

We fell to talking of the Irish language, I maintaining that it would be necessary to revive it, AE thinking that the Anglo-Irish idiom would be sufficient for literature, until the thought emerged that perhaps it might have been Diarmuid that bade me to Ireland.

I'd like to see the cromlechs under which the lovers slept, but I don't know where to find them.

AE answered that at Whitsuntide he would have three or four days' holiday, and proposed to visit the sacred places with me.

We'll seek the ancient divinities of the Gael together. AE pulled out his watch and said he must be going, and we strolled across the greensward to the wicket. The ash will be in leaf the day we start. I hope, AE, that nothing will happen to prevent us; and I jumped out of bed every morning to see if the promise were for a fine or a wet day.

I had arrived in Ireland in March; it was raining then, but the weather had taken a turn in the middle of April; the fifteenth was the first fine day, and ever since the days had played in the garden like children, shadows of apple-trees and lilac-bushes moving over the sweet grass with skies of ashen blue overhead fading into a dim, creamy pink in the South and East. The hawthorns were in full leaf, and among the little metallic leaves white and pink stars had just begun to appear, and the scent of these floated after us, for no sinister accident had happened. AE called for me as he had promised, and we went away together on bicycles—myself on a new machine bought for the occasion, AE on an old one that he has ridden all over Ireland, from village to village, establishing co-operative creameries and banks. And side by side we rode together through the early streets to Amiens Street Station, where we took second-class tickets to Drogheda—an hour's journey from Dublin. At Drogheda we jumped on our bicycles again; two tramps we were that day, enjoying the wide world, and so intoxicating was the sunlight that it was with difficulty I kept myself from calling to AE that I felt certain the Gods would answer us. I would have done this if a river had not been passing by, and such a pretty river—a brook rather than a river.

AE, AE, look and admire it!

A few minutes afterwards our brook or river acquired such a picturesqueness that perforce he jumped from his bicycle and unslung his box of pastels which he wore over his shoulder.

Trees, he said, emerging like vapours, and while he discovered the drawing of a brook purling round a miniature isle between low mossy banks, I lay beside him, forgetful of everything but the faint stirring of the breeze in the willows and the song of a bird in the reeds—a reed-warbler no doubt; and while I lay wondering if the bird were really a warbler, AE finished his pastel. He leaned it against a tree, looked at it, (p. 280) and asked me if I liked it.... It was a spiritual seeing of the world, and I told him that no one had ever seen Nature more beautifully. He put his picture into his portfolio, I put mine into my memory, and we went away on our bicycles through the pretty neglected country until we came to a grey bridge standing thirty, perhaps fifty, feet above the shallow river; the beauty of its slim arches compelled me to dismount, and, leaning on the parapet, I started this lamentation:

No more stone bridges will be built, and it has come to this, that a crack in one of those arches will supply a zealous county councillor with a pretext for an iron bridge. The pleasure of these modern days is to tear down beautiful yesteryear.

No arch will fall within the next ten years, he answered. Admire the bridge without troubling yourself as to what its fate will be when you are gone.

AE's optimism is delightful, but, while approving it, I could not keep back the argument that a mountain fails to move our sympathies, for it is always with us, whereas a cloud curls and uncurls and disappears. We cling to life because it is for ever slipping from us. Don't you think so? It is strange that, although you know more poetry by heart than any one I ever met, I have never heard you repeat a verse from Omar Khayyám. You love what is permanent, and believe yourself immortal. That is why, perhaps, Shelley's Hymn of Pan is for you the most beautiful lyric in the world. Do say it again—Sileni and Fauns and that lovely line ending moist river lawns. One sees it all—something about Tempe outgrowing the light of the dying day. Say it all over again.

He repeated the verses as we ascended the hill.

Look at that hound!

He came towards us, trotting amiably, gambolling now and again for sheer pleasure. The loneliness of the road had awakened the affection that his nature was capable of. He leaned himself up against me; his paws rested upon my shoulders; I fondled the silken ears and he yawned, perhaps because he wished me to admire his teeth—beautiful they were and skilfully designed for their purpose, to seize and to tear.

Yet his eyes are gentle. Tell me, is his soul in his eyes or in these fangs?

My dear Moore, you've been asking me questions since eight o'clock this morning; and we all three went on together till we reached a farmhouse in which the hound lived with an old woman.

The dog put his long nose into her hand, and she told us that he had been brought to her very ill. It was distemper, but I brought him through it, and now they'll soon be taking him from me. And you'll be sorry to leave me, won't you, Sampson?

At the end of September, I said, he'll be taken away to scent out foxes with his brethren in the woods over yonder, and to lead them (p. 281) across the green plains, for he is a swift hound. Don't you think he is? But you won't look at him. If he were called Bran or Lomair—

We hopped on our bicycles and rode on till we came to a great river with large sloping banks, covered with pleasant turf and shadowed by trees, the famous Boyne, and AE pointed out the monument erected in commemoration of the battle.

The beastly English won that battle. If they'd only been beaten!

We rode on again until we came to a road as straight as an arrow stretching indefinitely into the country with hedges on either side—a tiresome road and so commonplace that the suspicion entered my mind that this journey to Meath was but a practical joke, and that AE would lead me up and down these roads from morning till noon, from noon till evening, and then would burst out laughing in my face; or, perhaps, by some dodge he would lose me and return to Dublin alone with a fine tale to tell about me. But such a trick would be a mean one, and there is no meanness in AE. Besides, the object of the journey was a search for Divinity and AE does not joke on sacred subjects. We rode on in silence. A woman appeared with candles and matches in her hand.

But why should we light candles in broad daylight? There isn't a cloud in the sky.

He told me to buy a candle and a box of matches and follow him across the stile, which I did, and down a field until we came to a hole in the ground, and in the hole was a ladder. He descended into it and, fearing to show the white feather, I stepped down after him. At twenty feet from the surface he went on his hands and knees and began to crawl through a passage narrow as a burrow. I crawled behind him, and after crawling for some yards, found myself in a small chamber about ten feet in height and ten in width. A short passage connected it with a larger chamber, perhaps twenty feet in width and height, and built of great unhewn stones leaned together, each stone jutting a little in front of the other till they almost met, a large flat stone covering in the vault. And it was here, I said, that the ancient tribes came to do honour to the great divinities—tribes, but not savage tribes, for these stones were placed so that not one has changed its place though four thousand years have gone by. Look at this great hollowed stone. Maybe many a sacrificial rite has been performed in it. He did not answer this remark, and I regretted having made it, for it seemed to betray a belief that the Druids had indulged in blood sacrifice, and, to banish the thought from his mind, I asked him if he could read the strange designs scribbled upon the walls. The spot, he said, within the first circle is the earth, and the first circle is the sea; the second circle is the heavens, and the third circle the Infinite Lir, the God over all Gods, the great fate that surrounds mankind and Godkind. Let us sit down, I said, and (p. 282) talk of the mysteries of the Druids, for they were here for certain; and, as nothing dies, something remains of them and of the demigods and of the Gods. The Druids, he answered, refrained from committing their mysteries to writing, for writing is the source of heresies and confusions, and it was not well that the folk should discuss Divine things among themselves; for them the arts of war and the chase, and for the Druids meditation on eternal things. But there is no doubt that the Druids were well instructed in the heavens; and the orientation of the stones that surround their temples implies elaborate calculations. At the same hour every year the sun shines through certain apertures. But, AE, since nothing dies, and all things are as they have ever been, the Gods should appear to us, for we believe in them, and not in the Gods that men have brought from Asia. Angus is more real to me than Christ. Why should he not appear to me, his worshipper? I am afraid to call upon Mananaan or on Dana, but do you make appeal.

AE acquiesced, and he was on the ground soon, his legs tucked under him like a Yogi, waiting for the vision, and, not knowing what else to do, I withdrew to the second chamber, and ventured to call upon Angus, Diarmuid's father, that he or his son might show himself to me. There were moments when it seemed that a divine visitation was about to be vouchsafed to me, and I strove to concentrate all my thoughts upon him that lives in the circle that streams about our circle. But the great being within the light that dawned faded into nothingness. Again I strove; my thoughts were gathered up, and all my soul went out to him, and again the darkness lightened. He is near me; in another moment he will be by me. But that moment did not come, and, fearing my presence in the tomb might endanger AE's chance of converse with the Immortals, I crept along the passage and climbed into the upper air and lay down, disappointed at my failure, thinking that if I had tried a third time I might have seen Angus or Diarmuid. There are three circles, and it is at the third call that he should appear. But it would be useless to return to the tomb; Angus would not gratify so weak a worshipper with vision, and my hopes were now centred in AE, who was doubtless in the midst of some great spiritual adventure which he would tell me presently.

The sun stood overhead, and never shall I forget the stillness of that blue day, and the beauty of the blue silence with no troublesome lark in it; a very faint blue when I raised my eyes, fading into grey, perhaps with some pink colour behind the distant trees—a sky nowise more remarkable in colour than any piece of faded silk, but beautiful because of the light that it shed over the green undulations, greener than any I had seen before, yet without a harsh tone, softened by a delicate haze, trees emerging like vapours just as AE had painted them. And as I lay in the warm grass on the tumulus, the green country unfolded before my (p. 283) eyes, mile after mile, dreaming under the sun, half asleep, half awake, trees breaking into leaf, hedgerows into leaf and flower, long herds winding knee-deep in succulent herbage. It is wonderful to sit on a tumulus and see one's own country under a divine light. An ache came into my heart, and a longing for the time when the ancient Irish gathered about the tumulus on which I was lying to celebrate the marriage of earth and sky. On days as beautiful as this day they came to make thanksgiving for the return of the sun; and as I saw them in my imagination arrive with their Druids, two opaque-looking creatures, the least spiritual of men, with nothing in their heads but some ignorant Christian routine, lifted their bicycles over the stile.

They're not going to descend into the sacred places! I said. They shall not interrupt his vision; they shall not!

As they approached me I saw that they had candles and matches in their hands, and, resolved at any cost to save the tomb from sacrilege, I strove to detain them with speech about the beauty of the summer-time and the endless herbage in which kine were fattening. Fattening was the word I used, thinking to interest them.

The finest fattening land in all Ireland, one of them said, but we're going below.

I should have told them the truth, that a great poet, a great painter, and a great seer was, in their own phraseology, below, and it might be that the Gods would vouchsafe a vision to him. Would they be good enough to wait till he ascended? Mere Christian brutes they were, approvers of the Boer War, but they might have been persuaded to talk with me for ten or fifteen minutes; they might have been persuaded to sit upon the mound if I had told them the truth. I leaned over the opening, listening, hoping their bellies might stick in the narrow passage; but as they seemed to have succeeded in passing through, I returned to the tumulus hopeless. The Gods will not show themselves while Presbyterian ministers are about; AE will not stay in the tomb with them; and at every moment I expected to see him rise out of the earth. But it was the ministers who appeared a few minutes afterwards, and, blowing out their candles in the blue daylight, they asked me if I had been below.

I have been in the temple, I answered.

Did you see the fellow below?

I'm waiting for him—a great writer and a great painter, I answered indignantly.

Is it a history he's brooding down there; one of them asked, laughing; and I lay down on the warm grass thinking of the pain their coarse remarks must have caused AE, who came out of the hill soon after. And it was just as I had expected. The vision was about to appear, but the clergymen had interrupted it, and when they left the mood had passed.

(p. 284) III

As we rode to Newgrange along smooth roads, between tall hedges, the green undulating country flowing on either side melting into grey distances, AE told me that we should see at Newgrange the greater temples of the Druids; and through his discourses the hope glimmered that perhaps we might be more fortunate at Newgrange than we had been at Dowth. It was only reasonable that the Gods should show themselves to us if they deemed us worthy, and if we were not worthy—AE at least—who were worthy among living men? The Presbyterian ministers would be absent from Newgrange; and we rode on, AE thinking of Angus and his singing-birds, myself of Midir at the feast among the spears and the wine-cups, his arm round Etain, the two passing through the window in the roof, and how all that the host assembled below saw was two white swans circling in the air above the palace.

Whither did they go?

Did who go? he answered.

Etain and Midir.

Towards the fairy mountain of Slievenamon, where Etain rejoined her kindred on the lake.

Legends beguile the monotony of endless roads and hedges, but at the next cross roads it was plain that AE was uncertain which road to take, and our eyes sought vainly a man or woman to direct us. Miles went by without a cottage, and if we came upon one it was locked, the herdsman being away, opening gates, changing his cattle from pasture to pasture. The cottages became rarer, and we rode almost in despair through the green wilderness till we came at last to a ruined dwelling, and a curious one—not exactly a cabin, for it was built of brick and stood above the level of the road. A rubble heap had to be scaled to reach the one room that remained, and it was in this lonely tenement that we found our guide, a child of seven or eight, dressed in a little shirt and an immense pair of trousers, which he hitched up from time to time, a sharp-witted little fellow, as alert as a terrier.

You've come out of your road altogether and will have to go back a couple of miles. Or maybe it'd be best for you to go on up this road till you come to the big hill beyant, and then turn to your left.

The little fellow took our fancy, and, as we were leaving, we turned back to ask who lived with him. He said his mother lived with him, but she went out every day to the neighbours to try to get a bit! We told him that we had ridden many miles and had seen nobody. The little fellow looked puzzled, and, on pressing him to say where his mother had gone, (p. 285) he mentioned the name of some town which AE told me was twenty miles away. Can your mother walk twenty miles?

Faith she can, sir, and back again.

And she leaves you all alone?

We gave him a slice of bread and butter, which he held in his hand, not daring to eat in our presence. We pressed him to eat, and he took a bite timidly, and moved away like a shy animal. As a slice of bread and butter did not seem to us to be a sufficient reward for his directions to Newgrange, I felt in my pocket for a shilling, and asked him how much his mother brought back with her.

Sometimes a few coppers.

His eyes lit up when I handed him the shilling, and he said:

That'll buy us two grand dinners; she won't have to be going away again for a long time.

You don't like your mother to leave you here all day long? Again the little fellow seemed unwilling to answer us. But she'll be coming back tonight?

She will if she don't get a sup too much.

And if she does you'll stay here all night by yourself? Aren't you afraid all alone at night?

I am when the big dog does come.

What dog?

A mad dog. He does wake me up out of my bed.

But the dog doesn't come into the room?

No; but I do be hearing him tearing the stones outside.

And do you ever see him?

When he gets up there I do, and he pointed to the broken wall. He was up there last night and he looking down at me, and his eyes red as fire, and his hair all stuck up agin the moon.

What did you do?

I got under the clothes.

A nightmare, I whispered to AE. But if the dog be mad, I said to the little chap, he shouldn't be allowed to run about the country. He ought to be shot. Why don't the police?

How could they shoot him and he dead already?

But if he be dead how is it that he comes up on the rafters?

I dunno, sir.

Whose dog is it?

Martin Spellacy ownded him. And we learnt that Martin Spellacy lived about a mile down the road and had bought the dog at Drogheda to guard his orchard which was robbed every year; but the dog turned out to be a sleepy old thing that no one was afraid of, and were robbed every year until the dog died.

(p. 286) Then were they robbed no longer?

No, because they do be afeard of his ghost; he's in the orchard every night, a terrible black baste, and nobody would go within a mile of that orchard as soon as the dark evening comes on.

But if the ghost is in the orchard watching, how is it that he comes here?

The little fellow looked at me with a puzzled stare, and answered that he didn't know, but accepted the suggestion that ghosts could be in two places at once. We rode away, a little overcome at the thought of the child asleep that night among the rags in the corner, fearing every moment lest the dog should appear on the rafters. But we couldn't take him with us; and we bicycled on, thinking how Martin Spellacy's apples were better watched over by the ghost of a dog than by a real dog; and when we came to a part of the road shaded by trees, we got off our bicycles and went through a gate into a drove-way. A woman came from the cottage and I can still hear her say:

You won't be writing your names on the stones?

On the sacred stones! I answered.

Well, you see, sir, tourists do be coming from all parts, and my orders are to get a promise from every one visiting the cave not to write on the walls. Of course, one can't be knowing everybody that comes here, but I'm sure that no gentleman like you would be doing such a thing.

Don't stay to expostulate, and AE took me by the arm, and we passed out of the shadow of the trees into the blue daylight. On our left was the tumulus, a small hill overgrown with hazel and blackthorn-thickets, with here and there a young ash coming into leaf. On all sides great stones stood on end, or had fallen, and I would have stayed to examine the carvings or the scratches with which these were covered, but AE pointed to the entrance of the temple—a triangular opening no larger than a fox's or a badger's den; and at his bidding I went down on my hands and knees, remembering that we had not come to Newgrange to investigate but to evoke.

We remained upwards of an hour in the tumulus, and no sign being vouchsafed to us that the Gods were listening, we began our crawl through the long, twisting burrow towards the daylight; and in dejected spirit, wondering at the cause of our failure, asking ourselves secretly why we had been ignored, we climbed over the hill, to discover a robin singing in a blackthorn, the descendant, no doubt, of a robin that had seen the Druids. And it being necessary to say something, I asked AE whence the stones had come for the building of the temple under our feet, for we had not passed anything like a quarry since early morning. But he could not tell me whence they had come, and our talk branched into a learned discussion regarding the antiquity of man, myself muttering (p. 287) that about a million years ago man separated himself from the ape, AE repudiating the ape theory strenuously all the way down the hillside, saying that the world was not old enough to make the theory of evolution possible. At least a billion more years would have to be added to the history of our planet, so it could not be else than that man had been evolved from the Gods—there could be no doubt of it, he said; and we sat down in front of the temple to munch bread and butter. A restless fellow, for no sooner were the slices finished than he began to sketch the stones; and I remember thinking that it was as well he had an occupation, for one cannot talk in front of a Druid temple four thousand years old.

The same landscape that had astonished me at Dowth lay before me, the same green wilderness, with trees emerging like vapour, just as in AE's pastels. My eyes closed, and through the lids I began to see strange forms moving towards the altar headed by Druids. Ireland was wonderful then, said my dreams, and on opening my eyes Ireland seemed as wonderful in the blue morning, the sky hanging about her, unfolding like a great convolvulus. My eyes closed; kind and beneficent Gods drew near and I was awakened by a God surely, for when I opened my eyes a giant outline showed through the sun-haze miles away.

Has Angus risen to greet us, or Mac Lir come up from the sea? I asked, and, shading his eyes with his hand, AE studied the giant outline for a long time.

It's Tara, he said, that you're looking at. On a clear evening Tara can be seen from Newgrange.

Tara! Tara appearing in person to him who is relating the story of her lovers! And certain that there was more in this apparition than accidental weather, I started to my feet. At that moment sounds of voices called me back again to 1901—the voices of clergymen coming through the gate; and askance we watched them cross the field and go down on their hands and knees.

Let us go, AE. Yes, let us go to Tara and escape from these Christian belly-gods.

But Tara lies out of our road some twenty miles, AE answered as we rode away.

But the Gods have shown Tara to us because they await us.

It isn't there that they'd be waiting for us, he answered, and when I asked him why he thought we should be more likely to meet the Gods elsewhere, he told me that he did not remember that the Gods had ever been seen at Tara.

And therefore you think that the apparition of the hill as we lay among the cromlechs was accidental? Of course you know best; but even though the hand of Providence be not in it, I'd like to go to Tara, (p. 288) for I could get into my dialogue glimpses of the great plains about the hill.

He said that any allusions to the woods that Grania roamed with Laban should be drawn from my knowledge of Nature rather than from any particular observation of a particular place.

No one can imagine a landscape that he has not seen, AE.

All my best landscapes come to me in a vision. Last night I saw giants rolling great stones up a hillside with intent to destroy a city.

Perhaps the hillside you saw was Tara.

No, he said, it wasn't. Tara was not destroyed by giants but by an ecclesiastic.

And therefore was worthless, I muttered. And we talked a long while of the monk who had walked round Tara, ringing a bell and cursing the city, which was taken abandoned and Ireland given over to division-which has endured ever since, I added. AE admitted that this memory of Tara did not endear the hill to him, but that was not his reason for not wishing to go there.

It is at least twenty miles from here, he said, and I don't think there's an inn on this side, nor am I sure that there is one on the other. We would have to sleep at ——, and he mentioned the name of some village which I have forgotten. But Monasterboice is only six miles from here, and the herdsman's wife will be able to give us tea and bread and butter.

I remember a man telling me that he had gone to Wales to track Borrow from village to village. I shall not be accused by any one, he said, of lacking sympathy for any place visited by Borrow, but all I remember of my walk from Carnarvon to Bethgelert is that the beer at Bethgelert was the best I ever drank. And this story has always seemed to me so human that I am now tempted to fit it into this narrative, turning excellent beer into tea so delicious that its flavour lingers for ever in the palate. But if I were to introduce a thread of fiction into this narrative, the weft would be torn asunder; and any one who knows me at all would not believe that in a cup of tea, however delicious, I could drink oblivion of the ruins of the great abbey through which we wandered one summer evening, almost within hearing of voices whispering about the arches, the infoliated capitals, and the worn and broken carvings. The darkness of time lightened, and we saw monks reading and painting in their cells, one rising suddenly, delighted, from the Scriptures; he had succeeded in clearing up in a gloss an obscure point that had troubled him for years. And then another appeared, bent over a pattern of endless complexity, his hand moving over the parchment quickly and surely. In the ghostly silence of the ruins we heard—if I heard vaguely, AE must have heard distinctly—the mutter of a monk scanning a poem, a (p. 289) saint, no doubt, that had begun to weary of the promiscuousness of a great monastery, and was meditating further retirement from the world. We rode away, thinking that his poem was in praise of some lake island, whither he would go, like Marban. AE remembered some of Marban's lines, and he told me that they were written in the halcyon days in which Ireland lay dreaming, century after century, arriving gradually at the art of the jeweller, the illuminator, and the carver of symbols. Marban is a great poet; the lines AE repeated to me are as native as the hazels under which the poet lived, and as sweet as the nuts he gathered from the branches.

And we rode forgetful of the excellence of the tea that the herdsman's wife had set before us, full of dreams of a forgotten civilisation, each maintaining to the other that the art of ancient Ireland must have been considerable, since a little handful has come down to us, despite the ravening Dane, and the Norman, worse than the Dane; for the Dane only destroyed, whereas the Norman came with a new culture, when Ireland was beginning to realise herself. If he had come a few centuries later, we should have had an art as original as the Chinese.

The miles flowed under our wheels. We had come so far that it seemed as if we might go on for another hundred miles without feeling tired, and the day, too, seemed as if it could not tire and darken into night. We passed a girl driving her cows homeward. She drew her shawl over her head, and I said that I remembered having seen her long ago in Mayo, and AE answered: Before the tumuli, she was.


You've punctured! AE said, and I could see that he looked upon the incident as ominous. I can mend your puncture for you, but perhaps the quickest way will be to go back; the shop isn't more than a quarter of a mile from here.

And in it we met a young man, who advanced to meet us on long, thin legs, his blue, Celtic eyes full of inquiry; after listening, I thought sympathetically, to my mishap (he was really thinking of something else) he asked me what he could do for me, and, on my telling him again that I had punctured, he seemed to wake up sufficiently to call his partner, a thick-set man, who seized my machine and told me that he was just tightening a gentleman's wheel for him, but it wouldn't take more than a couple of minutes. In a quarter of an hour ... could I wait that long?

He spoke with a Lancashire burr, and I began to wonder how the Celt and the Saxon had come together, so different were they, and why (p. 290) the red-headed Celt lingered about the shop instead of going to the help of his fellow. And it was to escape from unpleasant thoughts of my country's idleness that I asked him if the language movement was making progress in Dundalk; but when he told me that a branch of the Gaelic League had been started about two years ago, and that he was a constant attendant at the classes, I apologised to him, inwardly, for a hasty judgment, and, seeing in him, perhaps, a future apostle, I commenced preaching. A few people had just dropped in for a chat after dinner, and taking for my text the words that I had heard spoken on the road to Chelsea, I said:

A few days after the voice spoke to me again, this time not out of the clouds, but within a few inches of my ear, and the words that it spoke were, Go to Ireland, go to Ireland, and not long after this second revelation, a force completely outside of myself compelled me to fall upon my knees, and I prayed for the first time for many years. But it was not to any Christian God that I prayed.

AE looked up, hoping, no doubt, that I would not shock the young man's Catholic susceptibilities to the point of his asking me to leave his shop; and, thinking that in saying I had not prayed to a Christian God I had said enough, I admitted that the future religion of Ireland was not our business, but one for the next generation to settle. Our business was to revive the Irish language, for the soul of Ireland was implicit in it, and, pulling out of my pocket a copy of the Claidheamh Soluis, I described the aims and ambitions of the paper. But a cloud came into the young man's face and into the faces of the three or four people present, whom I invited to subscribe to it, and the thought dashed through my mind that I was being mistaken for an advertising agent, and to remove such sordid suspicion I told them that I had no pecuniary interest in the paper whatever, but was working for the language of our forefathers, and to support this paper (the organ of the League) seemed to me part of the work I had been sent to do in Ireland. The best way to do this was by getting advertisements for the paper, and my way of getting advertisements was simple and advantageous to all parties. I had rented a house in Dublin. The roof was leaking, and a builder had to be called in; he had been given the job of repairing the roof on condition that he advertised in the Claidheamh Soluis. The upholsterer had furnished my house under the same conditions, and as soon as I came to live in it I had gone to the butcher, the grocer, the chandler, the greengrocer, the apothecary, the baker, the tailor, the draper, the boot-maker: You shall have my custom if you advertise in the Claidheamh Soluis.... And you, sir, having bicycles to sell, might like to do business with me on the same terms.

The young Celt agreed that he would like to do business with me, but, (p. 291) being somewhat slow-witted, said he must refer the matter to his partner.

But why refer it to your partner? I answered. Everybody will advertise if he is sure of getting custom. I am the only advertising agent in the world who can insure a speedy return for the money laid out.

As the young man hesitated, AE took me aside and reminded me that my method was not as applicable to bicycles as to furniture and food, for if I were to buy a bicycle every time I punctured I should have more machines on my hands than it would be possible for me to find use for.

If you'll be good enough to wait till my partner comes back, chimed in the young Celt, I'll be able to give you your answer.

And when the Lancashire man came in with the bicycle on his shoulders, the conditions of sale were explained to him (conditions which I could see by the partner's face he was quite willing to accept).

We shan't get to Slievegullion today if you don't hasten, AE said; but the Lancashire man, loath to lose a chance of selling a bicycle, sent the young Celt along with us, the pretext being to put us on the right road; and we all three pedalled away together, myself riding in the middle, explaining to the Celt that language wears out like a coat, and just as a man has to change his coat when it becomes threadbare, a nation has to change its language if it is to produce a new literature. There could be no doubt about this. Italy had produced a new literature because Italy had changed her language; whereas Greece had not changed hers, and there was no literature in Greece, and there could be none until the modern language had separated itself sufficiently from the ancient.

The young man seemed to wish to interpose a remark, but I dashed into a new theory. Ideas were climatic; the climate of Ireland had produced certain modes of thought, and these could only transpire in the language of the country, for of course language is only the echo of the mind. The young man again tried to interpose a remark, and AE tried too, but neither succeeded in getting heard, for it seemed to me of primary importance to convince the young man that literary genius depended upon the language as much as upon the writer, and Ireland was proof of it, for, though Irishmen had been speaking English for centuries, they had never mastered that language.

If Irishmen would only read English literature, AE shouted from the other side of the road, but they read the daily paper.

But, AE, a nation reads the literature that itself produces. Ireland cannot be as much interested in Shakespeare as England is, or in the Bible, Ireland having accepted the Church of Rome, and the two ways of learning English are through the Bible and Shakespeare.

But there is an excellent Irish translation of the Bible, nearly as good (p. 292) as the English Bible, and AE appealed to the young Celt, who admitted that he had heard that Bedell's Bible was in very good Irish.

But it isn't read in the classes.

And why isn't it read in the classes? I asked.

Well, you see, it was done by a Protestant.

I screamed at him that it was ridiculous to reject good Irish because a Protestant wrote it.

You are a native speaker, sir?

No, I answered, I don't know any Irish.

The young man gazed at me, and AE began to laugh.

You should begin to learn, and I hope you won't mind taking this little book from me; it is O'Growney's. I am in the fifth. And now, he said, I don't think I can go any farther with you. The cromlech—you can't miss it when you come to the first gate on the left.

He left us so abruptly that I could not return the book to him, and had to put it into my pocket; and the incident amused AE until we came to a gate about half a mile up the road, which we passed through, coming upon the altar of our forefathers in the middle of a large green field—a great rock poised upon three or four upright stones, nine or ten feet high, and one stone worn away at the base, but rebuilt by some pious hand, for the belief abides that Diarmuid and Grania slept under the cromlech in their flight from Finn.

Traditions are often more truthful than scripts, AE said, and, believing in this as in everything he says, I walked round the cromlech three times, praying, and when my devotions were finished, I returned to AE, who was putting the last touches to a beautiful drawing of the altar, a little nervous lest he should question me as to the prayers I had offered up. But instead of groping in any one's religious belief AE talks sympathetically of Gods ascending and descending in many-coloured spirals of flame, and of the ages before men turned from the reading of earth to the reading of scrolls, and of the earth herself, the origin of all things and the miracle of miracles. AE is extraordinarily forthcoming, and while speaking on a subject that interests him, nothing of himself remains behind, the revelation is continuous, and the belief imminent that he comes of Divine stock, and has been sent into the world on an errand.

I watched him packing up his pastels, and we went together to the warrior's grave at the other end of the field, and stood by it, wondering in the beautiful summer weather what his story might be. And then my memory disappears. It emerges again some miles farther on, for we were brought to a standstill by another puncture, and this second puncture so greatly stirred AE's fears lest the Gods did not wish to see me on the top of their mountain, that it was difficult for me to persuade him to go into the cottage for a basin of water. At last he consented, and, (p. 293) while he worked hard, heaving the tyre from off the wheel with many curious instruments, which he extracted from a leather pocket behind the saddle of his machine, I talked to him of Ireland, hoping thereby to distract his attention from the heat of the day. It was not difficult to do this, for AE, like Dujardin, can be interested in ideas at any time of the day or night, though the sweat pours from his forehead; and I could see that he was listening while I told him that we should have room to dream and think in Ireland when America had drawn from us another million and a half of the population.

Two millions is the ideal population for Ireland and about four for England. Do you know, AE, there could not have been more than two million people in England when Robin Hood and his merry men haunted Sherwood Forest. How much more variegated the world was then! At any moment one might come upon an archer who had just split a willow wand distant a hundred yards, or upon charcoal-burners with their fingers and thumbs cut off for shooting deer, or jugglers standing on each other's heads in the middle of sunlit interspaces! A little later, on the fringe of the forest, the wayfarer stops to listen to the hymn of pilgrims on their way to Canterbury! Oh, how beautiful is the world of vagrancy lost to us for ever, AE!

There is plenty of vagrancy still in Ireland, he answered, and we spoke seriously of the destiny of the two countries. As England had undertaken to supply Ireland with hardware, he would not hang the pall cloud of Wolverhampton over Dundalk. The economic conditions of the two countries are quite different, he said, and many other interesting things which would have gladdened Plunkett's heart, but my memory curls and rushes into darkness at the word economic, and a considerable time must have elapsed, for we were well on our way when I heard my own voice saying:

Will this hill never cease?

We're going to Slievegullion.

True for you, I said, for at every half-mile the road gets steeper, which I suppose is always the case when one is going towards a mountain. But, despite the steepness which should have left no doubt upon his mind, AE was not satisfied that we were in the right road, and he jumped off his bicycle to call to a man, who left his work willingly to come to our assistance, whether from Irish politeness or because of the heat of the day, I am still in doubt. As he came towards us his pale and perplexed eyes attracted my attention; they recalled to mind the ratlike faces with the long upper lip that used to come from the mountains to Moore Hall, with bank-notes in their tall hats, a little decaying race in knee-breeches, worsted stockings, and heavy shoon, whom our wont was to despise because they could not speak English. Now it was the other way round; (p. 294) I was angry with this little fellow because he had no Irish. His father, he said, was a great Irish speaker, and he would have told us the story of the decline of the language in the district if AE had not suddenly interrupted him with questions regarding the distance to Slievegullion.

If it's to the tip-top you're thinking of going, about another four miles, and he told us we would come upon a cabin about half a mile up the road, and the woman in it would mind our bicycles while we were at the top of the hill, and from her house he had always heard that it was three miles to the top of the mountain; that was how he reckoned it was four miles from where we stood to the lake. He had never been to the top of Slievegullion himself, but he had heard of the lake from those that had been up there, and he thought that he had heard of Finn from his father, but he disremembered if Finn had plunged into the lake after some beautiful queen.

Those who have lived too long in the same place become melancholy, AE. Let him emigrate. He has forgotten his Irish and the old stories that carried the soul of the ancient Gael right down to the present generation. I'm afraid, AE, that ancient Ireland died at the beginning of the nineteenth century and beyond hope of resurrection.

AE was thinking at that moment if the peasant had directed us rightly, and impatient for an answer I continued:

Can the dreams, the aspirations and traditions of the ancient Gael be translated into English? And being easily cast down, I asked if the beliefs of the ancient Gael were not a part of his civilisation and have lost all meaning for us?

That would be so, AE answered, if truth were a casual thing of today and tomorrow, but men knew the great truths thousand of years ago, and it seems to me that these truths are returning, and that we shall soon possess them, not perhaps exactly as the ancient Gael—

I hope that you are right, for all my life is engaged in this adventure, and I think you are right, and that the ancient Gael was nearer to Nature than we have ever been since we turned for inspiration to Galilee.

The fault I find with Christianity is that it is no more than a code of morals, whereas three things are required for a religion—a cosmogony, a psychology, and a moral code.

I'm sure you're right, AE, but the heat is so great that I feel I cannot push this bicycle up the hill any farther. You must wait for me till I take off my drawers. And behind a hedge I rid myself of them. You were telling me that the dreams and aspirations and visions of the Celtic race have lost none of their ancient power as they descended from generation to generation.

I don't think they have. And I listened to him telling how these have crept through dream after dream of the manifold nature of man, and (p. 295) how each dream, heroism, or beauty, has laid itself nigh the Divine power it represents. Deirdre was like Helen.... It went to my heart to interrupt him, but the heat was so great that to listen to him with all my soul I must rid myself of the rest of my hosiery, and so once more I retired behind a hedge, and, returning with nothing on my moist body but a pair of trousers and a shirt, I leaned over the handle-bars, and by putting forth all my strength, mental as well as physical, contrived to reach the cottage.

We left our bicycles with the woman of the house and started for the top of the mountain. The spare, scant fields were cracked and hot underfoot, but AE seemed unaware of any physical discomfort. Miraculously sustained by the hope of reaching the sacred lake, he hopped over the walls dividing the fields like a goat, though these were built out of loose stones, every one as hot as if it had just come out of a fire; and I heard him say, as I fell back exhausted among some brambles, that man was not a momentary seeming but a pilgrim of eternity.

What is the matter, Moore? Can't you get up?

I am unbearably tired, and the heat is so great that I can't get over this wall.

Take a little rest, and then you'll be able to come along with me.

No, no, I'm certain that today it would be impossible, all the way up that mountain, a long struggle over stones and through heather. No, no! If a donkey or a pony were handy!

He conjured me to rise.

It is very unfortunate, for you will see Finn, and I might see him, too, whether in the spirit or in the flesh I know not; and having seen him, we should come down from that mountain different beings, that I know; but it's impossible.

Get up. I tell you to get up. You must get up.

A lithe figure in grey clothes and an old brown hat bade me arise and walk; his shining grey eyes were filled with all the will he had taught himself to concentrate when, after a long day's work at Pim's as accountant, he retired to his little room and communicated with Weekes and Johnson, though they were miles away; but, great as the force of his will undoubtedly is, he could not infuse in me enough energy to proceed; my body remained inert, and he left me, saying that alone he would climb the mountain, and I saw him going away, and the gritty and grimy mountain showing aloft in ugly outline upon a burning sky.

Going to see Finn, I murmured, and had I strength I would sit with him by the holy lake waiting for the vision; but I may not. He'll certainly spend an hour by the lake, and he will take two hours to come back, and all that time I shall sit in a baking field where there is no shade to speak of. I had struggled into a hazel-copse, but my feet were (p. 296) burnt by the sun and my tongue was like a dry stick. The touch of the hazel-leaves put my teeth on edge, and, remembering that AE would be away for hours, I walked across the field towards the cottage where we had left our bicycles.

May I have a drink of water? I asked, looking over the half-door.

Two women came out of the gloom, and, after talking between themselves, one of them asked wouldn't I rather have a drop of milk?—a fine-looking girl with soft grey eyes and a friendly manner; the other was a rougher, an uglier sort.

I drank from the bowl, and could have easily finished the milk, but lifting my eyes suddenly I caught sight of a flat-faced child with flaxen hair all in curl watching me, and it occurring to me at that moment that it might be his milk I was drinking, I put down the bowl and my hand went to my pocket.

How much is the milk?

You're heartily welcome to it, sir, the young woman answered. Sure, it was only a sup.

No, I must pay you.

But all my money had been left in Dundalk, and I stood penniless before these poor people, having drunk their milk.

My friend will come from the mountain to fetch his bicycle, and he will pay you. Again the young woman said I was welcome to the milk; but I didn't know that AE had any money upon him, and it occurred to me to offer her my vest and drawers. She said she couldn't think of taking them, eyeing them all the while. At last she took them and asked me to sit down and take the weight off my limbs. Thank you kindly, and, sitting on the proffered stool, I asked if they were Irish speakers.

Himself's mother can speak it, and I turned towards the old woman who sat by the ashes of a peat fire, her yellow hands hanging over her knees, her thick white hair showing under a black knitted cap. Her eyes never left me, but she made no attempt to answer my questions. She's gone a little bothered lately and wouldn't know what you'd be asking for. I could make nothing of the younger women, the child and the grandmother only stared. It was like being in a den with some shy animals, so I left a message with them for AE, that I would bicycle on to Dundalk very slowly, and hoped he would overtake me. And it was about two hours after he came up with me, not a bit tired after his long walk, and very willing to tell me how he had had to rest under the rocks on his way to the summit, enduring dreadful thirst, for there was no rill; all were dry, and he had been glad to dip his hat into the lake and drink the soft bog water, and then to lie at length among the heather. So intense was the silence that his thoughts were afraid to move, and he had lain, his eyes roving over boundless space, seeing nothing but (p. 297) the phantom tops of distant mountains, the outer rim of the world, so did they seem to him. At each end of the crescent-shaped lake there is a great cairn built of cyclopean stones; and into one of these cairns he had descended and had followed the passage leading into the heart of the mountain till he came upon a great boulder, which twenty men could not move, and which looked as if it had been hurled by some giant down there.

Perchance to save the Druid mysteries from curious eyes, I said, and a great regret welled up in me that I had not been strong enough to climb that mountain with him. What have I missed, AE? Oh, what have I missed? And as if to console me for my weakness he told me that he had made a drawing of the cairn, which he would show me as soon as we reached Dundalk. All the while I was afraid to ask him if he had seen Finn, for if he had seen the hero plunge into the lake after the queen's white limbs, I should have looked upon myself as among the most unfortunate of men, and it was a relief to hear that he had not seen Finn. Such is the selfishness of men. He spoke of alien influences, and as we rode down the long roads under the deepening sky, we wondered how the powers of the material world could have reached as far as the sacred lake, violating even the mysterious silence that sings about the Gods. That the silence of the lake had been violated was certain, for the trance that was beginning to gather had melted away; his eyes had opened in the knowledge that the Gods were no longer by him, and seeing that the evening was gathering on the mountain he had packed up his drawings.

But the night will be starlit. If I had been able to get there I shouldn't have minded waiting. Were you on the mountain, now, you would be seeing that horned moon reflected in the crescent-shaped lake. It was faint-hearted of you.

At that moment two broad backs bicycling in front of us explained the sudden withdrawal of the Gods. Our two Christian wayfarers had been prowling about Slievegullion, and our wheels had not revolved many times before we had overtaken them.

We meet again, sir, and your day has been a pleasant one, I hope?

It has been very hot, he answered, too hot for Slievegullion. We couldn't get more than half-way. It was my friend that sat down overcome by the heat.

AE began to laugh.

What is your friend laughing at?

And the story of how my strength had failed me at the third wall was told.

I quite sympathise with you, said the one that had been overcome like myself by the heat. Did the poet get to the top?

(p. 298) Yes, he did, I replied sharply.

And did the view compensate you for the walk?

There is no view, AE answered; only a rim of pearl-coloured mountains, the edge of the world they seemed, and an intense silence.

That isn't enough to climb a thousand feet for, said the chubbier of the two.

But it wasn't for the view he went there, I replied indignantly, but for the Gods.

For the Gods!

And why not? Are there no Gods but yours?

My question was not answered, and at the end of an awkward silence we talked about the wonderful weather and the crops, the ministers showing themselves to be such good fellows that when we came to the inn AE proposed we should ask them to dine with us. A supper of ideas indeed it was, for before our dish of chops came to table they had learnt that Slievegullion was the most celebrated mountain in all Celtic theology. The birthplace of many beautiful gospels, AE said, leaning across the table, so deep in his discourse that I could not do else than insist on his finishing his chop before he unpacked his portfolio and showed the drawing he had made of the crescent-shaped lake. He ate for a little while, but it was impossible to restrain him from telling how Finn had seen a fairy face rise above the waters of the lake and had plunged after it. Whether Finn captured the nymph, and for how long he had enjoyed her, he did not tell, only that when Finn rose to the surface again he was an old man, old as the mountains and the rocks of the world. But his youth was given back to him by enchantment, and of the adventure nothing remained except his snow-white hair, which was so beautiful, and became him so well, that it had not been restored to its original colour. It was on this mountain that Cuchulain had found the fabled horse, Leath Macha, and he told us, in language which still rings in my memory, of the great battle of the ford and the giant chivalry of the Ultonians. He spoke to us of their untamable manhood, and of the exploits of Cuchulain and the children of Rury, more admirable, he said, as types, more noble and inspiring than the hierarchy of little saints who came later and cursed their memories.

This last passage seemed to conciliate the Presbyterians; they looked approvingly; but AE's soul refuses to recognise the miserable disputes of certain Christian sects. He was thinking of Culain, the smith, who lived in the mountain and who forged the Ultonians their armour. And when that story had been related he remembered that he had not told them of Mananaan Mac Lir, the most remote and most spiritual of all Gaelic divinities, the uttermost God, and of the Feast of Age, the (p. 299) Druid counterpart of the mysteries, and how any one who partook of that Feast became himself immortal.

It is a great grief to me that no single note was taken at the time of that extraordinary evening spent with AE in the inn at Dundalk, eating hard chops and drinking stale beer. The fare was poor, but what thoughts and what eloquence! A shorthand writer should have been by me. She is never with us when she should be. I might have gone to my room and taken notes, but no note was taken, alas!... A change came into the faces of the Presbyterians as they listened to AE; even their attitudes seemed to become noble. AE did not see them; he was too absorbed in his ideas; but I saw them, and thought the while of barren rocks that the sun gilds for a moment. And then, not satisfied with that simile, I thought how at midday a ray finds its way even into the darkest valley. We had remained in the valley of the senses—our weak flesh had kept us there, but AE had ascended the mountain of the spirit and a Divine light was about him. It is the mission of some men to enable their fellows to live beyond themselves. AE possesses this power in an extraordinary degree, and we were lifted above ourselves.

My memory of that evening is one which Time is powerless to efface, and though years have passed by, the moment is remembered when AE said that a religion must always be exotic which makes a far-off land sacred rather than the earth underfoot; and then he denied that the Genius of the Gael had ever owed any of its inspiration to priestly teaching. Its own folk-tales—our talk is always reported incorrectly, and in these memories of AE there must be a great deal of myself, it sounds indeed so like myself, that I hesitate to attribute this sentence to him; yet it seems to me that I can still hear him speaking it—the folk-tales of Connaught have ever lain nearer to the hearts of the people than those of Galilee. Whatever there is of worth in Celtic song and story is woven into them, imagery handed down from the dim Druidic ages. And did I not hear him say that soon the children of Eri, a new race, shall roll out their thoughts on the hillsides before your very doors, O priests! calling your flocks from your dark chapels and twilit sanctuaries to a temple not built with hands, sunlit, starlit, sweet with the odour and incense of earth, from your altars call them to the altars of the hills, soon to be lit up as of old, soon to be blazing torches of God over the land? These heroes I see emerging. Have they not come forth in every land and race when there was need? Here, too, they will arise. My ears retain memories of his voice, when he cried, Ah, my darlings, you will have to fight and suffer; you must endure loneliness, the coldness of friends, the alienation of love, warmed only by the bright interior hope of a future you must toil for but may never see, letting the deed be its own reward; laying in dark places the foundations of that high and holy Eri of prophecy, (p. 300) the isle of enchantment, burning with Druidic splendours, bright with immortal presences, with the face of the everlasting Beauty looking in upon all its ways, Divine with terrestrial mingling till God and the world are one.

But how much more eloquent were thy words than any that my memory recalls! Yet sometimes it seems to me that thy words have floated back almost as thou didst speak them, aggravating the calumny of an imperfect record. But for the record to be perfect the accent of thy voice and the light in thine eyes, and the whole scene—the maculated tablecloth, the chops, everything would have to be reproduced. How vain is art! That hour in the inn in Dundalk is lost for ever—the drifting of the ministers to their beds. Faint, indeed, is the memory of their passing, so faint that it will be better not to attempt to record it, but to pass on to another event, to the portrait which AE drew that evening; for, kept awake by the presences of the Gods on the mountain, he said he must do a portrait of me, and the portrait is a better record of the dream that he brought down with him from the mountain than any words of mine. It hangs in a house in Galway, and it is clearly the work of one who has been with the Gods, for in it my hair is hyacinthine and my eyes are full of holy light. The portrait was executed in an hour, and even this work could not quell AE's ardour. He would have sat up till morning had I allowed him, telling me his theory of numbers, but I said:

Suppose we reserve that theory for tomorrow? Sufficient for the day is the blessing thereof.


A suspicion stops my pen that I am caricaturing AE, setting him forth not unlike a keepsake hero. It may be that this criticism is not altogether unfounded, and to redeem my portrait I will tell how I saw AE roused like a lion out of his lair. A man sitting opposite to him in the railway carriage began to lament that Queen Victoria had not been received with more profuse expressions of loyalty; AE took this West Briton very gently at first, getting him to define what he meant by the word loyalty, and, when it transpired that the stranger attached the same meaning to the word as the newspapers, that, for him, as for the newspapers, a queen or king is a fetish, an idol, an effigy, a thing for men to hail and to bow before, he burst out into a fiery denunciation of this base and witless conception of loyalty, as insulting to the worshipped as to the worshipper. The man quailed before AE's face, so stern was it; AE's eyes flashed, and righteous indignation poured from his lips, but never for one instant (p. 301) did he seek to abase his foe. Whilst defending his principles, he appealed to the man's deeper nature, and I remember him saying: In your heart you think as I do, but, shocked at the desire of some people to affront an aged woman, you fall into the other extreme, and would like to see the Irish race dig a hole and hide itself, leaving nothing of itself above ground but an insinuating tail.

My ears retain his words, and I can still hear our goodbye at the corner of Hume Street. We had been with the Gods for four days, if not with the Gods themselves at least with our dreams of the Gods, and in my armchair in Ely Place I was born again to daily life in anguish and helplessness, even as a child is. The enchantment of the opiate is passing, I said. AE alone possesses the magic philter. He is an adept and can lead both lives, and is on such terms with the Gods that he can come and go at will, doing his work in heaven and on earth. Yesterday he was with Finn by the crescent-shaped lake on Slievegullion; tomorrow he will trundle his old bicycle down to the offices of the I.A.O.S. in Lincoln Place, to take his orders from Anderson.

But there must be some readers who cannot translate these letters into the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society, and who know nothing of the Society, when it was founded, or for what purpose it exists, and the best story in the world becomes the worst if the narrator is not careful to explain certain essential facts that will enable his listeners to understand it.

Years ago the idea of co-operation overtook Plunkett in America. He had seen co-operation at work in America, or had read a book in America, or had spoken to somebody in America, or had dreamed a dream in America. Suffice it to say that he hurried home, certain of himself as the redeemer that Ireland was waiting for; and at more than a hundred meetings he told the farmers that through co-operation they would be able to get unadulterated manure at forty per cent less than they were paying the gombeen man for rubbish. At more than a hundred meetings he told the farmers that a foreign country was exploiting the dairy industry that rightly belonged to Ireland, and that the Dane was doing this successfully because he had learnt to do his own business for himself—a very simple idea, almost a platitude, but Plunkett had the courage of his platitudes, and preached them in and out of season, without, however, making a single convert. He chanced, however, on Anderson, a man with a gift of organisation and an exact knowledge of Irish rural life, two things Plunkett did not possess, but which he knew were necessary for his enterprise. Away they went together, and they preached, and they preached, and back they came together to Dublin, feeling that something was wanting, something which they had not gotten. What was it? Neither could say. Plunkett looked into Anderson's eyes, and (p. 302) Anderson looked into Plunkett's. At last Anderson said: The idea is right enough, but—

Plunkett had brought the skeleton; Anderson had brought the flesh; but the body lay stark, and all their efforts to breathe life into it were so unavailing that they had ceased to try. They walked round their dead idea, or perhaps I should say the idea that had not yet come to life; they watched by it, and they bemoaned its inaction night and day. Plunkett chanted the litany of the economic man and the uneconomic holding, and when he had finished Anderson chanted the litany of the uneconomic man and the economic holding, and this continued until their chants brought out of the brushwood a tall figure, wearing a long black cloak, with a manuscript sticking out of the pocket. He asked them what they were doing, and they said, Trying to revive Ireland. But Ireland is deaf, he answered, she is deaf to your economics, for you do not know her folk-tales, and cannot croon them by the firesides. Plunkett looked at Anderson, and took Yeats for a little trip on an outside car through a mountainous district. It appears that Plunkett was, unfortunately, suffering from toothache, and only half listened to Yeats, who was telling him across the car that he was going to make his speech more interesting by introducing into it the folk-tales that the people for generation after generation had been telling over their firesides. For example, he told how three men in a barn were playing cards, and so intently that they did not perceive that a hare with a white ear jumped out of the cards, and ran out of the door and away over the hills. More cards were dealt, and then a greyhound jumped out of the cards and ran out of the door after the hare. The story was symbolical of man's desire; Plunkett understood co-operation, and Yeats may have mentioned the blessed word, but at the meeting it was a boar without bristles that rushed out of the cards, and went away into the East, rooting the sun and the moon and the stars out of the sky. And while Plunkett was wondering why this story should portend co-operative movement, a voice from the back of the hall cried out. The blessings of God on him if he rooted up Limerick. A bad day it was for us—and a murmur began at the back of the hall. Yeats's allusion to the pig was an unfortunate one; the people had lost a great deal of money by following Plunkett's advice to send their pigs to Limerick. It was quite true that Limerick gave better prices for pigs than the jobbers, but only for the pigs that it wanted. Yeats, however, is an accomplished platform speaker, and not easily cowed, and he soon recaptured the attention of the audience. We always know, he said, when we are among our own people. That pleased everybody; and Plunkett had to admit that the meeting had gone better than usual. A poet was necessary, that was clear, but he did not think that Yeats was exactly the poet they wanted. If they could get a poet with some knowledge (p. 303) of detail (Plunkett reserved the right to dream to himself), the country might be awakened to the advantages of co-operation.

I think I know somebody, Yeats answered, who might suit you. Plunkett and Anderson forthwith lent their ears to the story of a young man, a poet, who was at present earning his living as accountant in Pim's. A poet-accountant sounds well, Plunkett muttered, and looked at Anderson, and Anderson nodded significantly; and Yeats murmured some phrase about beautiful verses, and seemed to lose himself; but Anderson woke him up, and said: Tell us about this young man. Why do you think he would suit us?

Well, said Yeats, his personal influence pervades the whole shop, from the smallest clerk up to the manager, and all eyes go to him when he passes. Plunkett and Anderson looked across the table at each other, and Yeats went on to tell a story, how a young man, a ne'er-do-well, had once seen AE crossing from one desk to another with some papers in his hand, and had gone to him, saying, Something tells me you are the man who may redeem me. Plunkett and Anderson frowned a little, for they foresaw a preacher; and Yeats, guessing what was in Anderson's mind, said: What will surprise you is that he never preaches. The influence he exercises is entirely involuntary. He told the young man that if he came round to see him he would introduce him to new friends, and the young man came, and heard AE talking, and thenceforth beat his wife no more, forswore the public-house, and is now an admirable member of society.

There was no further doubt in the minds of Plunkett and Anderson that AE was the man they wanted. Plunkett sent him an invitation to come to see him, and they saw a tall, thin man, overflowing with wild humour; the ends of his eyes went up and he seemed to them like a kindly satyr, something that had not yet experienced civilisation, for the first stipulation was that he should not receive more than three pounds a week. No man's work, according to him, was worth more. He would need a bicycle, and on being pressed he accepted the present of one; and he rode through Ireland, preaching the doctrine of co-operation and dairy-farming from village to village, winning friends to the movement by the personal magnetism which he exercises wherever he goes. As soon as he arrived in a village everybody's heart became a little warmer, a little friendlier; the sensation of isolation and loneliness, which all human beings feel, thawed a little; everybody must have felt happier the night that that kindly man mounted a platform, threw back his long hair, and began to talk to them, giving them shrewd advice and making them feel that he loved them and that they were not unworthy of his love. The only house in the poor village in which he could lodge would be the priest's house, and the lonely village priest, who does not (p. 304) meet a friend with whom he can exchange an idea once every three months, would spend a memorable evening with AE. The priests in these villages have little bookshelves along their rooms, and AE would go to these shelves and find a book that had not interested the priest since the enthusiasm of his youth had died down; he would open this book, and read passages, and awaken the heart of the priest. In the morning the old bicycle would be brought out, and away AE would go, and the priest, I am sure, looked after him, sorry that he was going. Protestants, Catholics, Presbyterians, Methodists—all united in loving AE. Although other things might be wrong, one thing was right—AE; and they followed him, captivated by the tune he played on his pipes, and before the year was out the skeleton that was Plunkett's, and the flesh and the muscles that were Anderson's began to stir. The watchers called to each other. Anderson, see, it has shifted its leg! Plunkett, see, it has moved an inch; life is creeping over it, from the crown of its head to the soles of its feet; in other words, creameries were springing up in every part of the country, and then Plunkett conceived again. He was a member for South Dublin, and on the friendliest terms with the Unionist Government, so he had no difficulty in forming a committee to inquire into what had been done on the Continent for the co-ordination of State and voluntary action. Many members of this committee were members of Parliament; the committee met during Recess, and was called the Recess Committee.

As well as I remember, Gill's beard was being trimmed in France while the Recess Committee was forming. He was called over by Plunkett to be his secretary. Gill knew French, and it was understood that he had talked co-operative economics with Frenchmen. A newspaper was required, to explain these ideas to the public. The Express had been purchased by Mr Dalziel, who made over the control to Plunkett; Gill was appointed editor; Rolleston, Healy, Longworth, AE, Yeats, John Eglinton, all contributed articles; economics and folklore, Celtic and Indian Gods, all went into the same pot—an extraordinary broth very much disliked by the Freeman's Journal and the Parliamentary Party. Dillon made wry faces, all the same the broth was swallowed and Gerald Balfour brought in his Bill for the creation of a State Department; Plunkett was appointed Vice-President, and it was understood that the whole central authority should be in his hands, though the nominal head was the Home Secretary. About one hundred and seventy thousand a year was voted, and a great part of this money would go in providing for an immense staff of secretaries, inspectors, and lecturers. AE could have had any one of these places for the asking, luxurious places from three hundred to a thousand a year; but he preferred to remain with the I.A.O.S. If it was not his own child, he had reared it (p. 305) and taught it to walk. Now should he desert it? Besides, a comfortable house and servants, a quiet walk down to his office in the morning to sign a few letters, and the quiet conviction that he is running the country by doing so, is not like AE; his soul is too personal for office life, he must be doing his own work; the work is of different kinds, but it is always his own work. He is himself when he rides all over the country, preaching co-operation to the farmers, as much as when he returns to Dublin and begins a poem or paints a picture. Besides, the post of secretary seemed from the very beginning to belong to Gill. During the year he edited the Express he had prepared the public and the official mind for the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction, constituted on Continental lines; but Gill had been a Plan-of-Campaigner, and a Nationalist member of Parliament, and at Tillyra, while the adaptation of The Tale of a Town was in progress, Gill's dilemma was often under consideration. Edward was a large recipient of his confidence and often spoke to me, and very seriously, on the matter. He believed Gill to be, if not in the flesh, at least in the spirit a member of the Parliamentary Party, and his unalterable opinion was that a Nationalist should never accept office under an English Government. But it seemed to me that Gill would act very unwisely if he refused the Secretaryship, and I think I remember saying to Edward that Gill should have consulted me instead, for he would have gotten from me the advice that would have been agreeable to him—to take the primrose path, the scent of which is already in his nostrils. One of the charms of Edward's character is its simplicity; he knows so little about life that it was a surprise to him to hear that men do not consult their friends when their determination is to walk in the thorny path.

The martyr, I said, doesn't consult among his brethren; his resolve hardens in the loneliness of his heart.

I see what you mean—I see what you mean, Edward answered. So then you think—

No, my dear Edward, we are among the complexities of human nature. Our hesitations continue, even though we know, in our subconsciousness, that the end is decreed. Gill's nationalism is quite sincere; the flame doesn't burn very fiercely, but then his nature is not a great nature like Davitt's, and our natures give—overlook the platitude—only what they are capable of giving. But though a flame throws out little heat and light, it is a flame for all that, and the faintest flame is worthy of our respect.

All the same, I don't think that a Nationalist should ever take office from the English Government, and Edward marched off to his tower to reconsider his third act, which Yeats and I had agreed he never would be able to write satisfactorily. Gill came to Tillyra a little before (p. 306) Edward's play was finally refused by Yeats and myself, and seated himself firmly on the fence, as is his wont. Edward, I believe, continued to consult him regarding the revisions Yeats and I were daily proposing. All the same, his name was omitted from that part of my narrative—he seemed a side issue—and in Dublin I was obliged to cast him out of it again. But now my narrative demands his presence and his voice, and I hasten to tell that as soon as Edward left me in Merrion Street (the reader remembers that he refused to advise me regarding he political situation), Gill's name occurred to me; he seemed to be, on the instant, the very person who could guide me through the maze of Irish political intrigue, and my steps turned mechanically from the Shelbourne Hotel, whither I was going, towards Clare Street. A few minutes later I was on Gill's doorstep asking myself why Gill had chosen to confide in Edward rather than in me, and hoping for a long talk with him, after the reading of the play. Scruples of conscience are my speciality, and I was genuinely concerned about his future, being naturally très bon pour la vie, that is to say, très officieux aux voisins. On the doorstep it seemed to me that he was bound to consider not only himself but his wife and his children. My thoughts turned about them while I read the play, and when the reading was over, Gill began to talk on the political questions that were then agitating Ireland. He is always diffuse and vague without much power of concentration, but that night it was easy to see that his thoughts were elsewhere. He will confide in me presently, I said, and, to lead him into confidence, I spoke of the Express, which had then spent all the capital that had been advanced by Mr Dalziel. Nor was it likely that Horace Plunkett would put any more capital into the newspaper, and, after a little discourse as to what might be done with this newspaper, if a capitalist could be found, Gill mentioned that he had been offered the post of Secretary to the Department.

That's the best bit of news I've heard this long while. Edward told me that you had consulted him, but he thinks that, on account of the pledge—

I am no longer a member of Parliament, but my sympathies are with my friend, John Redmond, who, to take the rough with the smooth, seems to be doing very well.

But, Gill, Edward and some others who advised you against accepting the post haven't considered your interests.

And they do right, Gill answered, not to consider my interests. My interests don't count with me for a moment. What I am thinking is that Plunkett may miss a magnificent chance if he has nobody by him who knows the country.

But Plunkett is an Irishman.

Plunkett is a Protestant, and a Protestant can never know Ireland.

(p. 307) A Protestant that has always lived in Ireland?

Even so. Ireland is Catholic if she is anything.

And you're a Catholic first of all, Gill, for you abandoned the Plan of Campaign when the Church condemned it.

Certainly I did, and what strikes me now is that it is hard if Ireland should be deprived of the labour of one of her sons because he once belonged to the Parliamentary Party. I've written to Gerald Balfour on the subject, and Gill rose from his chair and walked to his writing-table.

Will you read me the letter?

Yes, I'll read it to you. And when he had finished it I said:

The letter you've just read me is a very good letter, but it fills me with apprehension, for it seems to me that you leave Gerald Balfour to decide whether you should accept the appointment that he is offering you. Remember your wife and children.

If I were convinced that the best service I could render to Ireland—

But what could you do for Ireland better than to put your gift of co-ordination at the country's service?

Yes, co-ordination is the thing, the delegation of all detail to subordinates, reserving to oneself the consideration of the main outline, the general scheme, yet I am not sure that at the head of a great newspaper I shouldn't be able to serve Ireland better than as the Secretary of the Department. Or perhaps the great newspaper might come after the Secretaryship. It will take some years to get the Department into working order; Home Rule is bound to come sooner or later, and the Department will create an immense batch of officials, all well equipped with ideas, and the preparation of this great machine would be a task worthy of any man's talent. When Home Rule comes there will be an immense change in the government of the country, and very likely the old civil servants will be pensioned off. If such a change were to happen it would interest me to take charge of a great daily.

And have you any idea of a policy for the paper? What line do you think Ireland should take in the present crisis?

And while drawing the golden hair of his beard through his insignificant little hands, Gill began to tell me that, unlike England. Ireland had never known how to compromise. I gathered that he had been reading John Morley, and had discovered arguments that had satisfied him it would not be wise for the race, or for the individual, to persevere in the Nationalism begotten of a belief that a great European conflagration might give birth to a hero who would conquer England, and, incidentally, give Ireland her freedom. He is beginning to see, I thought, that if the long-dreamed-of hero did arise he might propose to enlist (p. 308) Ireland's help for his own purposes, and not surrender her for ever to Donnybrook Fair and an eternal singing of The Wearin' o' the Green. He has just reached the age when the Catholic Celt begins to see, that, though he may continue in his belief in magicians with power to turn God into a wafer, to forgive sins and redeem souls from Purgatory, it would be wise for him to put by his dreams of Brian Boru, to keep them in the background of his mind, a sort of Tir-n'an-og into which he retires in the evening in moments of lassitude and leisure. England allows the Catholic Celt to continue his idle dreaming, knowing well that as soon as sappy youth is over he will come asking for terms. Some become policemen, some soldiers, some barristers; only a negligible minority fails to fall into line, and that is why the Celt is so ineffectual; his dreams go one way and his actions go another. But why blame the race? Every race produces more Gills than Davitts; a man like Davitt, immune from the temptations of compromise, whose ideas and whose actions are identical—

My thoughts, breaking off, returned to Gill, and, while listening to him drawing political wisdom from the very ends of his beard, it seemed to me a pity that Edward had not confided his plot to me from the beginning, for then we should have been able to create a character quite different from Jasper Deane, and much more real. But the play would have to be finished at once, and next morning I went away to London, to patch up one that should not compromise too flagrantly Yeats's literary integrity.

It seems to me now that I have made up some arrears of story, and am free to tell that in the year 1901, when I came to live in Ireland, I found Gill the centre of the Irish Literary and Agricultural party, and looked upon by it as the one man who could weather the political peril and bring the Irish nation into port. When I arrived I found Yeats speaking of Gill as a man of very serious ability, but, as if afraid lest he might compromise literature, he always added, an excellent journalist. AE may have thought with Edward that Gill should have refused the post of Secretary, but to criticise Gill's hobby for compromise would be to criticise Plunkett, and, as well as I recollect, AE's view of the appointment was that Gill understood Catholic Ireland, and would be able to give effect to Plunkett's ideas. Edward, whenever the subject was mentioned, growled out that he had not hesitated to tell Gill when he came to him for advice, that, in his opinion, a Nationalist should never accept office from an English Government.

He rolled out this opinion like a great rock, and, after having done it, he seemed duly impressed by his own steadfastness of purpose, and his own strength of mind. It may be that abstract morality of every kind is repugnant to me, for I used to resent Edward's apothegm. Or was it (p. 309) that the temptation could not be resisted to measure Edward's intellect once again?

Your political morality is of course impeccable; but, dear Edward, will you tell me why you are coming out to Dalkey on this Sunday afternoon to see Gill? Why do you associate with people of whose political morality you cannot altogether approve?

My dear George, all my life I have lived with people whose moralities I do not approve of. You don't think that I approve of yours, do you? But, you know, I never believed that your life is anything else but pure; it is only your mind that is indecent, and Edward laughed, enjoying himself hugely.

As soon as you have finished your joke perhaps you'll tell me what you think Gill ought to have done?

I don't see why he shouldn't have got his living by journalism. He did so before.

But you don't know what it is to get your living by journalism; you can't, for you've got three thousand a year, or is it four? And not a wife, not even a mistress—

Now, George!

As the tram passed Blackrock Catholic Church I said:

You used to insist on sending me to Mass when I was staying with you in Galway. Do you know, Edward, that Whelan suggested he should turn the horse's head into Coole, and, while you thought we were at Mass, Yeats and I were talking Diarmuid and Grania?

A great blankness swept over Edward's face, and very often between Blackrock and Dalkey, in the pauses of our conversation, I reproached myself for having shaken his belief that he had made himself secure against God's reproaches for the conduct of his guests at Tillyra.

Did Gill abstain from meat on Fridays when he was at Tillyra?

Gill is a good Catholic, but you are a bad Catholic.

To call me a bad Catholic is one of Edward's jokes, and my retort is always that Rome would not regard me as such, that no man is answerable for his baptism.

In calling me a bad Catholic you are very near to heresy.

His face became grave again, and he muttered Mon ami Moore, mon ami Moore.

Old friends have always their own jokes, and this joke has tickled Edward in his sense of humour for the last twenty years or more. It appears that in a moment of intense boredom I had asked a very dignified old lady in a solemn salon in the Faubourg St Germain Si elle jouait aux cartes, si elle aimait le jeu; and, on receiving an answer in the negative, I had replied: Vous aimez sans doute bien mieux, madame, le petit jeu (p. 310) d'amour. The old lady appealed to her husband, and explanations had ensued, and my friend Marshall, of The Confessions, had to explain que son ami Moore n'a pas voulu—what, history does not relate.

The story has no other point except that it has tickled Edward in all his fat for twenty years, and that he regaled Gill with it that afternoon, shaking with laughter all the while, and repeating the phrase vous aimez sans doute, madame, le petit jeu d'amour, until at last, to stop him, I had to say:

My dear Edward, I am ashamed to find you indulging in such improper conversation.

A pleasant place on Sunday afternoons was that terrace, hanging some hundred feet or more above the sea, for on that terrace between the grey house and the cliff's edge Gill often forgot that he was wise, and was willing to let us enjoy his real self, his cheerful superficial nature, a pleasant coming and going of light impressions, and this real self was to us, strenuous ones, what a quiet pool is to the thirsty deer at noontide. He reflected all our aspirations, giving back to Yeats The Wanderings of Usheen as the one Irish epic, and The Heather Field to Edward as pure, fresh Ibsen. AE often scanned the pool for a glimpse of economic Ireland, and Edward gazed long and anxiously into it without discovering any faintest shadow of the Irish language. Gill did not sink out of sight like the wild duck in Ibsen's play, who dives down to the bottom and holds on to the weeds; he was for once decisive: he was going to send his boys to Trinity College, where, as Yeats said, our own folk-tales had never been crooned over the fireside. Yeats was splendid that afternoon, reminding Gill that it was not myths from Palestine, nor from India, that had inspired the Celt, but remembrances of the many beautiful women that had lived long ago and the deeds of the heroes. Edward bit his lips at the words, myths from Palestine, and took me aside to confide the fact that words like these hurt him just as if he had sat upon a pin. Gill knew that such words hurt nobody, and he continued airy, cheerful, benign, until he thought it time to return to his wisdom, and then he spoke of what he thought the policy of the Gaelic League should be in Irish-speaking districts, long-drawn-out platitudes and aphorisms of lead falling from his lips; and, to escape from these, I began to take an interest in the colour and texture of his necktie, both of which were exquisite, and then in the beauty of the flight of a tired gull, floating down the quiet air to its roost among the clefts. A flutter of wings and it alighted; the fishing boats beat up to windward; and I thought of the lonely, silent night that awaited the fishers, until Edward's voice roused me from my meditations. He was telling Yeats that he liked the English language and the Irish, but he hated the Anglo-Irish.

I hate the peasant. I like the drama of intellect.

(p. 311) Yeats sniggered, and a cormorant came over the sea, and alighted upon a rock, with a fish for the chicks in the nest, Gill said to his children, who had come to tell him that supper was on the table. All our literary differences were laid to rest in the interest that we soon began to feel for the food. Only AE prefers his ideas to his food; Yeats pecked, and Edward gobbled, and, looking round this happy table, it seemed to me that we liked coming to Dalkey because Gill liked to have us about him. Our pleasure was dependent on the pleasure that our host felt in our company; as kind-tempered a man as ever lived, I said to myself, and listened with more indulgence to him than I had been able to show in the afternoon, when, stretched out on the sofa, he abandoned himself to memories of the days when a boy lepped out from behind a hedge and whispered polis! I asked: Was that the night you were arrested? and he told us of his trial and conviction, and we felt, despite the languor of the narrative, that he was telling us of what was most real and intense in his life. And I listened, noting how unselfish instincts rise to the surface and sink back again, making way for selfish instincts, and how this kindly tempered man had floated down the tide of casual ideas into the harbour of thirteen hundred a year. And all the way home on top of the tram we thought of Gill's kindly sympathetic nature, revealed to me a few weeks later in an incident which I cannot do else than include. A rumour reached me that AE was sick and dangerously ill with a bad cold and cough which he did not seem able to shake off, and which—whoever brought me the news did not finish the sentence, for one does not like to mention the word consumption in Ireland.

If he starts out again on another bicycle tour, riding his old bicycle in all kinds of weathers, sleeping in any inn—you know how he neglects his food?

He must leave Ireland for a long holiday, I said, and went down to see Gill.

The shame of it, Gill, the application of the finest intelligence we have in Ireland to preaching economics in Connemara villages. Plunkett should do his own work. A great poet must needs be chosen, a great spirit! Were the moon to drop out of the sky the nights would be darker, but Dublin without AE would be like the sky without a sun in it. Gill, come out for a walk; this is a matter on which I must speak to you seriously.

It is indeed a serious matter, Gill answered. I will come out with you. We must get him out of the country. I know of nothing more serious than this cough and cold you speak of. How long do you say it has been upon him?

He has been ailing for the last six weeks, and now, in this beautiful month of July, he is lying in his bed without sufficient attendance. You (p. 312) know how careless he is. He will not send for a doctor, nor will he have a nurse.

We certainly must get him out of the country. I will devise some excuse to send him to Italy to report on—Gill mentioned some system of agriculture which had been tried successfully in Italy, and which might be reproduced successfully here. But no matter whether it can or not, it will serve as an excuse, and it will be easy for me to provide for the expenses of the journey. But he'll never consent to go to Italy alone. Will you go with him?

Yes, I'll go with him and look after him as best I can. Three months in Italy will throw me back with my work, but never mind, coûte que coûte, I will go to Italy. And you agree with me, that AE is the most important man in Ireland?


Sienna, Assisi, and Ravenna appeared in the imagination, and ourselves toiling up the narrow streets, talking of Raphael, and as we would return through France, we might well stop at Montauban to see Ingres at home—Raphael re-arisen after three centuries, a Raphael of finer perceptions. AE would have been delightful on this subject, but the journey to Italy was not upon the chart of our destinies; he recovered rapidly; Plunkett arranged that he was to edit The Homestead, and every Saturday evening he was in my house at dinner, talking about poetry, pictures, and W. B. Yeats, who came every morning to edit the dialogue I had written for Diarmuid and Grania, and to regret that I had not persevered with the French version, which Lady Gregory was to translate into English, Taidgh O'Donoghue into Irish, Lady Gregory back into English, and Yeats was to put style upon. This literary brewing used to remind AE of an American drink:

The bar-keeper present,
His two arms describing a crescent

(most readers know Bret Harte's celebrated parody); and then, feeling that he had laughed too long at his old friend, his face would become suddenly grave, and he would quote long passages from Yeats's early poems, the original and the amended versions, always preferring the original.

That's just it, I answered. The words that he likes today he will weary of and alter a few days afterwards.

Forgetting, AE said, that words wear out like everything else. He once said to me that he would like to spend the rest of his life rewriting the poems that he had already written.

(p. 313) He is a very clever man, and the worst of it is that there is something to be said for the alterations, even the most trivial. Miss Gough pointed out to me the other day that he had altered Here is a drug that will put the Fianna to sleep into Here is a drug I have made sleepy. Of course it's better, more like folk, but his alterations seem to drain the text of all vitality. An operatic text is what we should be writing together, for we are always agreed about the construction, and the musician would be free from his criticism.

AE was not quite sure that Yeats would not want a caoine, and would propose to the musician a journey to Arran.

But, AE, we shall require some music for the play. And in the silence that followed this remark the memory of some music I had heard long ago at Leeds, by Edward Elgar, came into my mind. If I knew Elgar, I'd write and ask him to send me a horn-call. Do you know, I think I will.

Mr Benson, I wrote, is going to produce Diarmuid and Grania, a drama written by Mr Yeats and myself on the great Irish legend. Finn's horn is heard in the second act, and all my pleasure in the performance will be spoilt if a cornet-player tootles out whatever comes into his head, perhaps some vulgar phrase the audience has heard already in the streets. Beautiful phrases come into the mind while one is doing odd jobs, and if you do not look upon my request as an impertinence, and if you will provide yourself with a sheet of music-paper before you shave in the morning, and if you do not forget the pencil, you will be able to write down a horn-call, before you turn from the right to the left cheek, that will save my play from a moment of vulgarity.

Elgar sent me six horn-calls to choose from, and, in my letter thanking him for his courtesy, I told him of the scene in the third act, when Diarmuid, mortally wounded by the boar, asks Finn to fetch water from the spring. Finn brings it in his helmet, but, seeing that Grania and Finn stand looking at each other, Diarmuid refuses to drink. This, and the scene which follows, the making of the litter on which the body of Diarmuid is borne away to the funeral pyre, seem to me to crave a musical setting; and how impressive a death-march would come after Grania's description of the burning of Diarmuid!

Elgar wrote, asking for the act, and it went to him by the next post, but without much hope that he would write the music, it being my way always to take disappointment by the forelock, thereby softening the blows of evil fortune. And without this precautionary dose of pessimism Elgar's manuscript would not have given me anything like the pleasure that it did. I was so tired of thats and whichs, fors and buts, that I stood for a long time admiring the crotchets, the quavers, the lovely rests; and the long columns set apart for violins, columns for flutes, and further (p. 314) columns for oboes, fairly transported me. Elgar sent a letter with it saying that the manuscript was the only one in existence, and that if it were lost he could not supply me with another; so it was put hurriedly under lock and key, and the rest of my day was spent going up one mean street and down another, climbing small staircases, opening bedroom doors, and meeting disappointment everywhere. At last, a tenor from a cathedral choir was discovered, swearing from among the bedclothes that he could do musical copying with any one in the world, and pledging his word of honour that he would be with me at ten o'clock next morning. He smelt like a corpse, but no matter, a score is a score, and Benson had to receive a copy of it within the next fortnight. The conductor at the Gaiety said he would like to copy the parts; in copying them he would learn the music, so I yielded to him Elgar's score, begging of him not to lose it, at which he laughed; and some days afterwards he asked me to the music-room and called to his orchestra to follow. The parts were distributed, and the conductor took up his baton, and singing to the fiddles, the slow and melancholy march began, the conductor singing the entrance of every instrument, preserving an unruffled demeanour till the horn went quack. We will start that again, number seventeen. The horn again went quack, and I shall always remember how the player shook his head and looked at the conductor as if to say that the composer should have been warned that, in such long intervals, there is no depending on the horn. When it was over, the conductor turned to me, saying:

There's your march. What do you think of it?

It will have to be played better than that before I can tell, a remark the orchestra did not like, and for which I felt sorry, but it is difficult to have the courage of one's opinions on the spot, and, while walking home, I thought of the many fine things that I might have said; that Elgar had drawn all the wail of the caoine into the languorous rhythm of his march, and that he had been able to do this because he had not thought for a single instant of the external forms of native music, but had allowed the sentiment of the scene to inspire him. Out of the harmony a little melody floats, pathetic as an autumn leaf, and it seemed to me that Elgar must have seen the primeval forest as he wrote, and the tribe moving among the falling leaves—oak-leaves, hazel-leaves, for the world began with oak and hazel.

His mourners—Diarmuid's mourners—were without doubt wistful folk with eyes as sad as the waters of western lakes, very like their descendants whom I found waiting for me in my dining-room. Irish speakers I knew them to be by their long upper lips, and it was almost unnecessary for them to tell me that they were the actors and actresses chosen for Dr Hyde's play, The Twisting of the Rope.

(p. 315) We've never acted before, said a fine healthy country-woman, speaking with a rich brogue. But we can all speak Irish.

I suppose you can, as you're going to act in an Irish play.

We mean that we are all native speakers except Miss O'Kennedy and Miss O'Sullivan, and they have learnt Irish as well as you've learnt French, she added, somewhat tartly.

I hope they've learnt it a great deal better, I answered, for I've never been able to learn that language.

What we mean is, said Taidgh O'Donoghue, that we can speak Irish fluently.

I was very anxious to know how long it would take to learn Irish perfectly, and if Miss O'Sullivan and Miss O'Kennedy knew it as well as English? We talked for about half an hour, and then they all stood up together.

I suppose the best thing we can do is to go home and learn our parts.

If I am to rehearse the play I would sooner that you learnt your parts with me at rehearsal. Again we engaged in conversation, and I learnt that they all made their living by teaching Irish; pupils were waiting for them at that moment, and that was why they could not stay to tea. They would, however, meet me tomorrow evening in the rooms of the Keating Branch of the Gaelic League. Dr Hyde was coming at the end of the week. And for three weeks I followed the Irish play in a translation made by Hyde himself, teaching every one his or her part, throwing all my energy into the production, giving it as much attention as the most conscientious régisseur ever gave to a play at the Français.

And while we were rehearsing The Twisting of the Rope, Mr Benson was rehearsing Diarmuid and Grania in Birmingham. A letter came from him one morning, telling me that he did not feel altogether sure that I would be satisfied with the casting of the part of Laban, and Yeats, who sometimes attended my rehearsals, said—

You had better go over to Birmingham and see if you can't get another woman to play the part.

But our play doesn't matter, Yeats; what matters is The Twisting of the Rope. We either want to make Irish the language of Ireland, or we don't; and if we do, nothing else matters. Hyde is excellent in his part, and if I can get the rest straightened out, and if the play be well received, the Irish language will at last have gotten its chance.

Yeats did not take so exaggerated a view of the performance of Hyde's play as I did.

I see that Benson says that the lady who is going to play Laban has a beautiful voice, and he suggests that you might write to Elgar, asking him if he would contribute a song to the first act.

The more music we get from Elgar the better. Now, Yeats, if you'll (p. 316) go home and write some verses and let me go on with the rehearsal, we'll send them to Elgar tonight.

Yeats said he would see what he could do, and, to my surprise, brought back that afternoon a very pretty unrhymed lyric, nothing, however, to do with the play. It was sent to Elgar, who sent back a very beautiful melody by return of post, and both went away to Benson and were forgotten until I went to the Gaiety Theatre with Yeats to a rehearsal of our play. The lady that played Laban sang the lyric very well, but Schubert's Ave Maria could not have been more out of place; as for the acting—Benson was right, the lady was not a tragic actress; even if she had been she could not have acted the part, so much was her appearance against her. She looked more like a quiet nun than a Druidess, and, drawing aside Yeats, who was telling her how she should hold a wine-cup, I said:

It's no use, Yeats; you're only wasting time. The performance will be ridiculous.

Why didn't you go to Birmingham, as I asked you?

Because Hyde's play would have suffered. One can't have one's cake and eat it. Of course, it's dreadfully disappointing; it is quite hopeless. I shall not go to see the play tonight.

I meant what I said, and was reading in my armchair about eight o'clock when Frank Fay called to tell me he was writing about the play, and would be better able to do so if I could lend him the manuscript.

I'll try to find you one. And after searching for some time in my secretary's room I came back with some loose sheets. This is the best I can do for you, I said, bidding him goodbye.

But aren't you coming to the theatre?

No. I saw the play rehearsed this afternoon. Benson is very good as Diarmuid, and I like Mrs Benson. Rodney plays the part of Finn. He is one of the best actors in England, and Conan will please you.

Then why won't you come?

The lady that plays Laban sings a ballad very beautifully in the first act; but—

You will come to see your play. You won't sit here all night.... No, you'll come.

For nothing in the world: I couldn't bear it! All the same he succeeded in persuading me.


But who is Frank Fay? the reader asks. In the days of Diarmuid and Grania he was earning his living as a shorthand writer and typist in an (p. 317) accountant's office, and when his day's work was over he went to the National Library to read books on stage history. His brother Willie was a clerk in some gas-works, and painted scenery when his work was over, and both brothers, whenever the opportunity offered, were ready to arrange for the performances of sketches, farces, one-act plays in temperance halls. But Box and Cox did not satisfy their ambitions; and the enthusiasm which The Twisting of the Rope had evoked brought Willie Fay to my house one evening, to ask me if I would use my influence with the Gaelic League to send himself and his brother out, with a little stock company, to play an equal number of plays in English and Irish.

But do you know Irish sufficiently?

He admitted that neither of them had any Irish at all, and my brow clouded.

We must have a few plays in English; we wouldn't always be sure of an Irish-speaking audience.

If English plays are allowed, precedence will be given to them. The line of least resistance, I said; but the idea of stock company travelling all over the country seemed an excellent one, and I promised that on the morrow, as soon as I had finished my writing, I would go down to the Gaelic League offices and lay the project before the secretary.

We writers are always glad of any little excuse for an afternoon walk. Our brains are exhausted after five or six hours of composition, and the question arises how are the hours before dinner to be whiled away, and the hours after dinner, for if we go to bed before twelve we may lie awake thinking of what we have written during the day, and of what we hope to write on the morrow. The reader sees us spending our evenings reading, but we have read all the books that we want to read; the modern theatre is merely servant-girlism (I make no difference between the kitchen and the drawing-room variety). After forty, shooting and hunting amuse us no longer, and women, though still enchanting, are not quite so enchanting as they used to be. There's one.... She turned round the corner into Baggot Street, and I stood hesitating between a choice of ways. The Green tempted me, and I thought of Grafton Street and of the women running in and out of its shops, and after each other, talking and gathering up the finery which brings the young barristers from the Courts—spruce young fellows, whom I had often seen in little groups of threes and fours, each one trying to look as if he were busy disentangling some knotty point of law, but thinking all the while of his coloured socks and of the women going by. In Grafton Street I should meet little Tommy O'Shaughnessy on his way home from Green Street Court House which he never really leaves, talking to himself, and tapping his snuff-box from time to time; and Gill would be floating along there, lost in admiration of his own wisdom. Sir Thornley Stoker rarely (p. 318) misses Grafton Street between four and five; I should certainly catch sight of him hopping about a silversmith's, like an old magpie, prying out spoons and forks, and the immodest bulk of Larky Waldron, waiting outside for him, looking into the window. A hundred other odds and oddments I should meet there, every one amusing to see and to hear; all the same for a change of spectacle it might be as well to stroll to the Gaelic League offices through Merrion Street and along Nassau Street. I should meet students on their way to the National Library, girls and boys, and an old derelict Jesuit whom I liked to see going by in his threadbare coat, tightly buttoned, a great Irish scholar; and then there are the clerics to see, out for their afternoon walks, with perhaps a glimpse of Edward talking to them. He always says that he likes Bohemians or priests. The rural clergy tell him about the country, and he tells the urban priest that he has very nearly succeeded in inveigling Archbishop Walsh into accepting ten thousand pounds for the establishment of a choir to sing Palestrina and Orlando di Lasso. The priests go away, smiling inwardly, thinking him a little eccentric, but a very good Catholic. If Edward is out of town and my taste runs that day towards trees and greenswards, all I have to do is to go down Leinster Street and through a gateway into Trinity College Gardens. Professor Mahaffy sometimes walks in the path under the railings shaded by beautiful trees, and if it had not been for a ferocious article published at the time, attacking him for his lack of sympathy for the Gaelic Movement, we might have spent many pleasant hours together under the hawthorns. Professor Tyrrell's hostility to our movement was less aggressive, and I liked to meet him in the gardens, and to walk a little way with him, listening to his pleasant ancient warble about the literature that he has lived in all his life, and with which he is so saturated that, involuntarily, he transports me out of the grey modern day to Athens, where Aristophanes walked to the Piraeus to watch for the galleys from Sicily.

If these two men are not about, there are other professors, and I have often been through the gardens talking with the fellow that teaches French. He is, of course, learned in Corneille, Racine, and Ronsard, and, by some strange chance, he knows Stuart Merrill, a poet of some distinction, a contributor to the old Revue Indépendante, Dujardin's Revue, but unfortunately he never met Dujardin, and as it is impossible to talk of Stuart Merrill for more than half an hour, he was generally sent away at Carlisle Bridge. On the other side one was sure to run up against Taidgh O'Donoghue, the modern Irish poet, the rival of the Munster poets of the eighteenth century, and my Irish translator, though O'Neill Russell had begged me to beware of him, saying that the Irish that Taidgh wrote would not be understood out of Munster—a libel on the Irish language, proved to be one soon after the arrival of a boy (p. 319) from Galway, my nephew's Irish tutor, for Comber, who had never been out of Galway before, understood every word of Taidgh's beautiful translation of my story, The Wedding Gown.

The great old cock was O'Neill Russell, whom we never looked upon as an old man, despite his eighty years. How could we, since he was straight as a maypole, and went for walks of two-and-twenty miles among the Dublin mountains? He came back to me one day after one of these strolls, the news bubbling upon his lips that he had composed an entire scenario on the subject of an heroic adventure that had happened to an Irish king in the thirteenth century; but he would not stay to dinner, nor even to relate it; he was in too great a hurry to verify a fact in the National Library, to get his scenario down on paper. For one reason or another he never dined at my house, though he liked to come in after dinner for a talk on Saturday nights. It was no use offering him a cigar, he always begged to be allowed to smoke his pipe, and there being no spittoons in my dining-room the coal-scuttle was put by him. A great old cock, head upreared, fine neck, grand shoulders, a stately piece of architecture, fine in detail as in general effect. A big nose divided the face, wandering grey eyes lit it. The large hands had worked for sixty years in America, in France, in the East. He had been all over the world, and had returned to Ireland with some seventy, eighty, perhaps a hundred pounds a year. He was gibed in songs, for he had gone away as a boy, speaking bad Irish, and come back after sixty years, speaking bad Irish still; so said the song's refrain, and a story followed at his heels that he had vilified a man for twenty years in the American newspapers, denouncing him as a renegade Irishman, because had advocated a certain use of the genitive. A great old cock, as young as the youngest of the men that came to my house, were it not for a certain sadness—a very beautiful sadness, not for himself, but for his country. He had hoped all his life for Ireland's resurrection, but at the end of his life it seemed as far distant as ever.

He haunted the Gaelic League offices, and the day he pushed the door open, entering the room with a great stride, I began to wonder who the intruder could be—this great tall man, dressed in a faded blue jacket and a pair of grey trousers, and a calico shirt. The editor of the Claidheamh introduced us, and my heart went out to him at once, as every heart did, for he was the recognisable Irishman, the adventurer, the wild goose. And after that meeting we met frequently between five and six o'clock; the Gaelic League offices were then a pleasant resort; all kinds and conditions of men assembled there, and we discussed the Irish language sitting upon tables while smoking cigarettes. It appeared every week in the Claidheamh Soluis, and I liked to dictate a paragraph for somebody to turn into Irish before my eyes, and, when the editor (p. 320) paused for an equivalent, every one ransacked his memory, but our dictionary was always O'Neill Russell—a rambling, incoherent, untrustworthy, old dictionary—but one that none of us would have willingly been without. It is pleasant to remember that he was in the offices of the League the day that I called to unfold my project for a little travelling company to the secretary and that he approved of it; but his conversation soon diverged from the matter in hand into an argument regarding the relative merits of Munster and Connaught Irish.

I'm afraid, he said, that you've come too late to revive the Irish language. There are only three men in Ireland who can write pure Irish. It's dialect, sir, they write.

This may be true, my dear Mr O'Neill Russell, but bad Irish is better than good English and I care little what Irish we get so long as we get ourselves out of English.

A few days after, I returned triumphant to the secretary, Kuno Meyer having told me the night before that Goethe, when he was asked how the German language might be fostered in Poland, had answered, Not so much by schools, or by books, but by travelling companies that will play, not necessarily good plays—good plays are not even desirable—but homely little plays that will interest the villagers. Everybody likes the theatre, and people will take the trouble to learn a language so that they may understand plays.

I'm giving you Goethe's own words, and you'll be well advised to accept the wisdom of the wisest man since Antiquity. The secretary did not answer, and I continued angrily: Up to the present you have done nothing but tell the people that they should learn Irish, and the people are asking themselves what good the language will do them when they have got it. The question is not unreasonable, and it cannot be left unanswered. Willie Fay is willing to undertake the management of a company acting little plays in Irish. You don't answer, and if I read your face correctly, you are not of Goethe's opinion?

That is not what I was going to say, sir. I was thinking of our finances. Our organisers cost the League a great deal of money.

But your organisers will not be able to do half as much for the language as a company of strolling players. How much do you pay your organisers?

About two hundred a year.

Two hundred a year to bawl from market place to market place: Now, my fine fellows, will you be telling me why don't you speak the language of your forefathers? If it was good enough for them it ought to be good enough for you. And you, Joe Maguire, why aren't you talking Irish?

The secretary was not disposed to admit that the organisers of the League were as uncouth as I wished to represent them.

(p. 321) It matters little whether they are couth or uncouth, my good sir; you must provide a reason for the learning of Irish, and there are only two valid reasons—to read books and to understand plays.

Bedell's Bible was mentioned; a masterpiece of modern Irish, the secretary admitted it to be.

But what would Father Riley be saying if we were caught putting forward a Protestant book? We can't afford to have the priests against us.

I know that; but the priest couldn't object to the travelling company?

The secretary admitted that he did not see how he could, and he promised to lay my project for the financing of a small company of strolling players before the Coisde Gnotha on the eighteenth, and on the nineteenth he told me the matter had been carefully considered, but—

If the Coisde Gnotha would only give me an opportunity of laying my project before them. You see it is impossible for you to tell them all that is in my mind. The secretary said he thought he had listened very carefully to me, and had repeated all I had said. You will excuse me if I say that I could plead my own case better than you. Among other things I forgot to tell you that the travelling company might prove a paying concern. If it were to pay ten pounds a week after expenses?

Of course if it did that.... But besides the money there are other difficulties, he said. There are women's parts in the plays you propose to have acted? The ladies who play these parts could hardly travel about unprotected. Father Riley, who is on the Coisde Gnotha—

He is everywhere.

He's a great man for the Irish, and he brought out this point very clearly, and everybody agreed with him.

Of course, if Ireland is to be governed by parish priests! and I fumed about the office, talking of the Italian Renaissance.

There is nothing to hinder you and Mr Martyn from starting a company.

Fiddlesticks. The Moore and Martyn Company would have no success whatever. If it is to be done at all it will have to be called The Gaelic League Touring Company. Besides, Mr Martyn wouldn't go into any project that the priests opposed on the ground of faith and morals; so I suppose the thing is at an end.

I wouldn't advise you to go on with it, for I've always noticed that nothing succeeded in Ireland unless the priests take it up.

So the Irish language is going to be sacrificed for the sake of a little female virtue. But girls are seducing young men ... and old men, too, for the matter of that, all over the world, and every hour of the night and day. That such a profligacy is not desirable in England I readily understand; but in Ireland! You know what I mean.

(p. 322) I'm afraid I don't.

You surprise me. And taking a sovereign out of my pocket, I held it up to his gaze. The depreciation of the gold species. Now you understand?

I'm afraid I don't.

If a man employs fifty girls in a factory he wishes them to practise virtue, for if they don't they will not be able to give him that amount of work which will enable him to pay dividends. But in Ireland there are no factories, and consequently female virtue is not a natural necessity, as in England.

I'm afraid you'll never get Father Riley to see it from your point of view.

Probably not. Irish Catholics have taken their morality from English Puritans. I should have said economists. Good morning.

But half-way down the stairs a new ideas occurred to me, and the temptation was very great to return and tell the secretary that the safety bicycle has brought a new morality into the world, even into Ireland, for, by freeing girls from the control of their mothers, it has given them the right to earn their own living; and the right of women to earn their living on their feet has—and I paused to consider the question—has brought to a close the oldest of all the trades. The light-of-love is becoming as rare as the chough, and on the dusty stairs of the Gaelic League I remembered how numerous they used to be on Kingstown Pier on Sundays, all of them beautifully dressed in sea-green dresses and sealskin jackets. All the same, there is no reason why the moralist should rejoice; their places are being taken by bands of enthusiastic amateurs. Thousands of years ago in India, I said, the Buddhist spoke of the wheel of Life, or was it the wheel of Change? And, thinking how quickly this wheel revolves in the middle of us, I imagined myself in a pulpit, preaching a great sermon on morality, its cause and cure; and the wonderful things I could say on this subject ran on in my head until I caught sight of three large, healthy-looking priests standing on the kerb, dressed in admirable broadcloth, and wearing finely stitched American boots, their fat and freckled hands playing with their watch-chains. At that moment dear Edward joined them, and from the complacency that his arrival brought into the clerical faces it seemed certain that he was asking how the country was looking, meaning thereby, how is the Irish language going along? And they are answering his questions sympathetically, I said; but on approaching the group the words Her Excellency caught my ear, and I guessed that they were talking of the caravan which Lady Aberdeen had sent round the country—a caravan of plastic protests and warnings against the danger of spitting, and of sleeping within closed windows.

(p. 323) But it will not occur to them that insufficient food is the cause of much consumption, I said, thinking of the vanman who goes out at six o'clock in the morning and returns home at midday wet to the skin, and, after a dinner of potatoes and dripping (lucky if he gets a bit of American bacon), goes out again, and comes back about eight or nine to a cup of tea, lucky if he gets that before lying down in his wet shirt. Father Riley had set me against the clerics, and it was in a spirit of rebuke that I listened to the priests proposing that sermons denouncing spitting should be delivered in every parish from the altar.

Edward introduced me to the holy ones, and, after listening to them for a while, the temptation stole over me to tell them that I had written to Her Excellency last night, asking her to use her very great influence to make known the cure that had been discovered.

And what cure is that? Edward asked innocently.

Holy Orders. Now, listen! I have come upon a great truth: that for the last hundred years no Archbishop has died from consumption, nor a Bishop, nor a parish priest, only two or three outlying curates. Therefore, my letter to Her Excellency is a serious advocacy that all Ireland should take Orders, those who want to lead celibate lives remaining or becoming Catholics, those who wish to enter the marriage state remaining, or discovering themselves, Protestants. In this way, and only in this way, will Her Excellency be able to kill a fatal disease and rid Ireland of religious differences. What do you think of the new cure, gentlemen? But, Edward, wait a moment. As the priests did not seem ready with an answer, I bade them goodbye abruptly, and hurried after Edward. Why all this haste? I asked, overtaking him.

I don't like that kind of talk. It's most offensive to me; and I, after introducing you—

But, my dear Edward, how can it be offensive to propose that all Ireland shall take Orders? Didn't Father Sheehan say in his last masterpiece that he looked forward to the day when Ireland should be one vast monastery?

When that day comes they'll make short work of fellows like you—ship you all off. But I daren't linger at the corner talking; I'll catch another cold.

But, Edward, I've just come from the Gaelic League, and have to speak to you on a matter of importance.

Well, then, come along.

We might follow the quays to Ringsend.

That way means loitering, looking at ships, and Edward, who had been feeling a little bit livery lately, proposed that we should walk to Ballsbridge and follow the Dodder on to Donnybrook, returning home by Leeson Street. We crossed Carlisle Bridge at the rate of four miles an (p. 324) hour, and at the end of Westmoreland Street Edward said This way, and we turned into Brunswick Street. At Westland Row he said, We'll turn up here and avoid the back streets, and away we went, through Merrion Square and Lower Mount Street, Edward thinking all the time of his liver, never for a moment of the business that I wished to speak to him about, and my irritation increased against him at every lamp-post in Lower Mount Street, but I restrained myself till we reached Ballsbridge.

Was a man ever absorbed in himself as you are, I wonder?

How is that? he asked, becoming interested at once.

You've forgotten that I told you I had an important matter to speak to you about.

No, I haven't. But I'm waiting for you to speak about it.

And all this while—

Come now, no fussing. What have you got to say?

Feeling the uselessness of being angry with him, I told him of my interview with the secretary. Apparently the touring company is all off; and though you were in favour of it a fortnight ago, you weren't enthusiastic when it came up for discussion. You were asleep.

Who told you I was asleep? You'd fall asleep, too, if you were kept out of your bed till three o'clock in the morning, listening to them saying the same things over and over again.

Well, when you woke up you voted against me with Father Riley. Deny it if you can.

It wasn't till Father Riley brought out the point—

But you were asleep.

No, I wasn't asleep. I followed the argument very closely, and I agree with Father Riley that it would be a very serious thing, indeed, to persuade four or five girls to leave their mothers, and cast them into the promiscuous current of theatrical life without proper chaperons.

A breath of theology blows you hither and thither. You'd have yielded to the persuasion of the learned friar to throw out The Countess Cathleen, if you hadn't found a backing in Father Barry and Father Tom Finlay. Your own play would have had to go with it; even that sacrifice would not have stopped you; and because we wouldn't produce your play, The Tale of a Town

I don't know that anybody else would have acted as I did. When you sided with Yeats against me, I gave you my play to adapt, to cut up, to turn inside out, for I had always preached unity, and was determined that nobody should say I didn't practise what I preached when my turn came.

We produced Maeve instead of The Tale of a Town. You didn't (p. 325) expect that we were going to produce two plays by you in one year, did you? We preferred Maeve. All the same you threw us over. Your agreement with Yeats was to provide money for three years, and when you backed out we had to go to Benson. He agreed to produce Diarmuid and Grania, else the Irish Literary Theatre would not have completed its three years.

There was a great deal in Diarmuid and Grania which I didn't approve of—many coarse expressions, and a tendency to place Pagan Ireland above Christian Ireland. I'm not taken in—I'm not taken in by you and Yeats and ... the old proselytiser in the background.

The long loose mouth tightened; a look of resolution came into the eyes; the woollen gloves grasped the umbrella, and the step grew quicker. I lagged a little behind to obtain a better view of the great boots. Years ago, in London, I had asked him to come and see the Robinsons with me, not noticing the size of his boots until he was seated in their drawing-room; on the hearthrug at Earl's Terrace they seemed to take up so much room that I felt obliged to tell Edward that he would do well to get himself a pair of patent leathers, which, I am bound to say, he ordered at once, and in Jermyn Street, presenting on his next visit a more spruce appearance. But he had always felt out of his element in drawing-rooms, and had long ago returned to the original boots and to the black overcoat, in which he wraps himself in winter as in a blanket. Under the brim of the bowler hat I could just catch sight of the line of his aquiline nose—a drop hung at the end of it; it fell as we entered Leeson Street, at the moment when he was telling me of the agreement he would draw up if he succeeded in persuading the Archbishop to accept his ten thousand pounds for the support of the polyphonic choir. Edward is shrewd enough in business, and I admired the scrupulosity of the wording of the bond which would prevent the clerics from ever returning to Gounod's Ave Maria.

My money will be tied up in such a way that there will be no setting aside of Palestrina for Verdi's Requiem when I'm out of the way.

It amused me to think of the embarrassment of the Archbishop fairly caught between the devil and the deep sea, reduced to the necessity of refusing ten thousand pounds, or entering into the strictest covenant for the performance of sixteenth-century polyphonic music for ever and ever. On one point, however, Edward was inclined to yield. If some great composer of religious music should arise, the fact that he was born out of due time should not exclude his works from performance at the Dublin Cathedral.

But as that possibility is very remote, it is not probable that my choir will ever stray beyond Palestrina, Vittoria, Orlando di Lasso, and Clemens non Papa.

(p. 326) His appearance seemed so strangely at variance with his tastes that I could not help smiling; the old grey trousers challenged the eye at that moment, and I thought of the thin decadent youth, very fastidious in his dress, writing Latin, Greek, or French poems, that one would have naturally imagined as the revivalist of old polyphonic music. An old castle would be the inevitable dwelling of this youth; he would have purchased one for the purpose. But Edward had inherited the castle. He is, as his mother used to say, the last male of his race. A very old race the Martyns are, having been in Ireland since the earliest times. It is said that they came over with William the Conqueror from France, so Edward is a descendant of ancient knights on one side, the very lineage that the Parsifal side of Edward's nature would choose, but the Parsifal side is remote and intermittent, it does not form part of his actual life, and he is prouder of the Smiths than the Martyns, attributing any talent that he may have to his grandfather, John Smith of Masonbrook, a pure peasant, a man of great original genius, who, without education or assistance from any one, succeeded in piling up a great fortune in the county of Galway. He had invested his money in land when estates were being sold in the Encumbered Estates Court, and so successful were his speculations that he was able to marry his daughter to old John Martyn of Tillyra, to whom she brought a fortune of ten thousand pounds. She had inherited from her father some good looks, a distinguished appearance, many refined tastes, and the reader has not forgotten altogether her grief at Edward's celibacy, which would deprive the Gothic house he built to please her of an heir.

My recollections of mother and son go back to the very beginning of my life, to the time when Edward returned from Oxford, writing poems that I admired for their merit, and probably a little for the sake of my friend, in whom I discerned an original nature. I am too different from other people, he used to say, ever to be a success, and the poems were ultimately burnt, for they seemed to him to be, on reflection, in disagreement with the teachings of his Church. So he was in the beginning what he is in the end, I said, and a great psychologist might have predicted his solitary life in two musty rooms above a tobacconist's shop, and his last habits, such as pouring his tea into a saucer, balancing the saucer on three fingers like an old woman in the country. Edward is all right if he gets his Mass in the morning and his pipe in the evening. A great bulk of peasantry with a delicious strain of Palestrina running through it.

I must be getting my dinner, he said.

But won't you come home and dine with me? There are many other points—

No, he said, I don't care to dine with you. You're never agreeable at table. You find fault with the cooking.

(p. 327) If you come back I swear to you that whatever the cook may send me up—

The last time I dined at your house you made remarks about my appetite.

If I did, it was because I feared apoplexy. Several parish priests have died lately.

His great back disappeared in the direction of a tavern.


As it seemed easier to tell Willie Fay the bad news than to write a letter I left a message with one of his friends asking him to call at my house. Any evening except Saturday would suit me. On Saturday evenings I received my friends, and it would be difficult to discuss the matter freely before them. So Willie Fay came to see me one Thursday night, and perching himself on the highest chair in the room in spite of my protests, he fidgeted in it like a man in a hurry, anxious to get through an interview which had no longer any interest for him, answering me with a yes and a no, receiving the suggestion very coldly that in a few months new members would be elected to the Coisde Gnotha.

Men, I said, who will take a different view from Father Riley. I suppose you wouldn't care to wait?

They'll go their way and I'll go mine, he answered, and with such a grand air of indifference that I began to suspect he had already heard of my failure to persuade the Gaelic League to accept him as the manager of a touring company and had gotten something else in view. The acoustics of Dublin are very perfect. But when I questioned him regarding his plans he gave a vague answer and took his leave as soon as he decently could.

A secret there certainly was, and I thought it over till AE mentioned on Saturday night that the Fays had come to ask him to allow them to perform his Deirdre.

Your Deirdre!

And forthwith he confided to me that one morning, about six weeks before, as he rose from his bed, he had seen her in the woods, where she lived with Levarcham. I saw the lilacs blooming in the corner of the yard, and herself running through the woods towards the dun. She came crying to her dear foster-mother, half for protection, half for glee—she had seen a young man for the first time, Naisi, who, in pursuit of a deer, had passed through the glen unperceived, though it was strictly guarded by the king's spearmen.

And what happens then? I asked, interested in the setting forth of the story.

(p. 328) A love-scene with Naisi, who begs Deirdre to fly with him to Scotland, for only by putting a sea between them can they escape the wrath of Concubar. And it was while returning home over Portobello Bridge that he saw Naisi in his Scottish dun mending a spear, a memory of the chivalry of the Ultonians having kindled in him during the night.

So far have I written, AE said, and as soon as I get another free evening I shall finish the act for the Fays.

But he had to wait a long while for his next inspiration, and in great patience the actors and actresses continued to chant their parts through the winter nights until the third act was brought to them.

It was then discovered that AE's play was too short for an evening's entertainment, and Yeats was asked for his Cathleen ni Houlihan; he had met her last summer in one of the Seven Woods of Coole—in which, a future historian will decide; for me it is to tell merely that the two plays were performed on April 15 in St Teresa's Hall, Clarendon Street, before an enthusiastic and demonstrative crowd of men and women. A later historian will also have to determine whether AE took the part of the God Mananaan Mac Lir at this performance, or whether he only appeared in the part at the preliminary performance in Coffey's drawing-room. All I know for certain is that none will ever forget the terrible emphasis he gave to the syllables Man-aan-nawn MacLeer in Coffey's drawing-room. He very likely had something to do with the bringing over of Maud Gonne from France to play the part of Cathleen ni Houlihan. Or did she come for Yeats's sake? However, she came, and dreaming of the many rebel societies that awaited her coming she gave point to the line since become famous:

They have taken from me my four beautiful fields,

a line which I have no hesitation in taking from Lady Gregory and attributing to Yeats.

An Irish audience always likes to be reminded of the time when Ireland was a nation, and the Fays determined that some organisation must be started to keep the idea alive; the Presidency of the National Theatre Society was offered to AE, but he seemed to have considered his dramatic mission over, and contented himself with drawing up the rules and advising the members to elect Yeats as their President. He may have noticed that Yeats had been seeking an outlet for Irish dramatic genius ever since the break-up of the Irish Literary Theatre, and for sure the fact was not lost upon him that Yeats's ears pricked up only when the word play was mentioned, and that his eyes were never lifted from the ground in his walks except to overlook a piece of waste ground as a possible site for a theatre. He could not but have heard Yeats mutter on more than one occasion, Goethe had a theatre ... (p. 329) Wagner had a theatre; and he had drawn the just conclusion that Yeats was seeking an outlet for Irish dramatic talent, and would bring courage and energy to the aid of the new movement. Oh, the wise AE, for Yeats as soon as he was elected President took the Fays in hand, discovering almost immediately that their art was of French descent and could be traced back to the middle of the seventeenth century in France. Some explanation of this kind was necessary, for Dublin had to be persuaded that two little clerks had suddenly become great artists, and to confirm Dublin in this belief the newspapers were requested to state that Mr W. B. Yeats was writing a play for Mr William Fay on the subject of The Pot of Broth.

Well, the best of us are sometimes short-sighted and superficial, and let it be freely confessed that it seemed to me at the time disgraceful that the author of The Wanderings of Usheen should stoop to writing a farce, for the subject Yeats had chosen was farcical, and the word represented to me only the merely conventional drolleries that I had seen on the London stage. My excuse for my blindness is that I have spent much of my life in France among French writers: folklore was unknown in Montmartre in my time, and no French writer that I know of, except Molière and George Sand, has made use of patois in literature; we are only beginning to become alive to the beauty of living speech when living speech is fast being driven out by journalists. But to return to Yeats, whose claim to immortality is well founded, for he knew from the first that literature rises in the mountains like a spring and descends, enlarging into a rivulet and then into a river. All this is clear to me today, but when he spoke to me of The Pot of Broth, I asked him if he weren't ashamed of himself; and when he proposed that I should choose a similar subject and write a farce for Willie Fay, I rose from my chair, relying on gesture to express my abhorrence of his scheme. But not liking to be left out of anything, I consented, at last, to write half a dozen plays to be translated into Irish.

It may not be necessary to have them translated. Wouldn't it do you as well if Lady Gregory put idiom on them?

We shall get the idiom much better, I answered, by having the plays translated into Irish. I will publish the Irish text, and you can do what you like with the brogue.

The stupid answer of a man intellectually run down; but next day I was down at the Gaelic League unfolding my project to the secretary, who thought it a very good one for the advancement of the Irish language, and as soon as the plays were written the Coisde Gnotha would decide.

My good man, do you think that I came over from England to submit plays to the Coisde Gnotha?

(p. 330) And we two stood looking at each other until the futility of my question began to dawn upon me; and then, to pass the matter over, I asked him if he knew of any Irish writers who could clothe the skeletons which I would supply with suitable dialogue. He said that Taidgh O'Donoghue was very busy at present, but a Feis was being held in Galway, and he suggested that I should go down and seek what I wanted among the prize-winners.

Mr Edward Martyn is one of the judges of traditional singing; you'll see him. Mr Yeats and Lady Gregory are certain to be there. So I am going to interview the ancient Irish language in the historic town of Galway, I said to myself as the train rattled westward, and the pretty weather in which Ireland has attired herself is in keeping with the occasion. And on alighting from the train my thoughts ran on to the same tune, that the old grey city lay in the sun seemingly stirred in her sleep by the sound of her language, the remnant having come from the islands beyond the bay. The remnant surely, I repeated as I passed into a long low room pleasantly lighted by four square shining windows. A peasant sang uncouth rhythms, but Edward, the old melomaniac, sat with his hand to his ear.

How are you, Edward?

A traditional singer, he answered, come from the middle island. Listen to him.

And to please Edward I listened to the singer, but could catch only a vague drift of sound, rising and falling, unmeasured as the wind soughing among the trees or the lament of the waves on the shore, something that might go on all day long, and the old fellow thatching his cabin all the while. The singer was followed by a piper, and the music that Michael Fluddery, a blind man from Connemara, drew from his pipes was hardly more articulate, and I began to think that the doleful pipes, now and again breaking into a jig tune, represented the soul of the Irish people better than any words could do, music being more fundamental. A long wail from the pipes startled me, and I was awake again in the long low room with May sunlight streaming through the square windows; Edward's hand was still at his ear, just as if he was afraid of missing a note; and at a little distance away Yeats and Lady Gregory sat colloguing together, their faces telling me nothing. Dancers rushed in, hopped up and down, round about and back again, the women's petticoats whirling above grey worsted legs, the tails of the men's frieze coats flying behind them, their hobnails hammering a great dust out of the floor, and as soon as the jig was over the story-teller came in, and, taking a chair, he warmed his hands over an imaginary peat fire, and began to tell of a man lost in a field, who had to turn his coat inside out to rid himself of the fairy spell; and, glancing round the audience, I (p. 331) could see the eyes of the Irish speakers kindling (it was easy to pick them out), the wandering Celtic eye, pale as their own hills. Creatures of marsh and jungle they seemed to me, sad as the primitive Nature in which they lived. I had known them from childhood but was always afraid of them, and used to run into the woods when I saw the women coming with the men's dinners from Derrinanny (the name is like them), and the marsh behind the village and the dim line of the Partry Mountains were always alien from me.

Edward, let's get away. We're losing all the sunlight.

He could not leave the Feis just then, but if I would wait till the story-teller had finished he might be able to get away for an hour.

We're expecting a piper from Arran, the great piper of the middle island—

And a great number of story-tellers, Yeats added.

You see, I'm the President of the Pipers' Club, Edward broke in.

They should be here by now, only there is no wind in the bay, Yeats muttered.

I begged of him to come away, but he did not know if he could leave Lady Gregory. He leaned over her, and at the end of some affable murmuring she seemed satisfied to let him go, accepting his promise to come back to fetch her in time for lunch; and we three went out together for a walk through the town.

How happy the sunlight makes me! Don't you feel a little tipsy, Edward? How could you have wanted to sit listening any longer to that eternal rigmarole without beginning or end?

You mean the traditional singer? He wasn't very good, and only got poor marks, Edward said, and he asked me what I thought of the piper.

He recalled many memories and a landscape. But if you like folk-music how is it that you don't like folk-tales?

I do like folk-tales in the Irish language or in the English—

Folk is our refuge from vulgarity, Yeats answered, and we strolled aimlessly through the sunlight.

Where would you like to go? Edward asked me abruptly.

To see the salmon. All my life I've heard of the salmon lying in the river, four and five deep, like sardines in a box.

Well, you'll see them today, Yeats answered.

There were other idlers besides ourselves enjoying the fair weather, and their arms resting on the stone bridge they looked into the brown rippling water, remarking from time to time that the river was very low (no one had ever seen it lower), and that the fish would have to wait a long time before there was enough water for them to get up the weir. But my eyes could not distinguish a fish till Yeats told me to look straight down through the brown water, and I saw one, and immediately (p. 332) afterwards a second a third and a fourth. And then the great shoal, hundreds, thousands of salmon, each fish keeping its place in the current, a slight movement of the tail being sufficient.

But if they should get tired of waiting and return to the sea?

Yeats is a bit of a naturalist, and in an indolent mood it was pleasant to listen to him telling of the habits of the salmon which only feeds in the sea. If the fishermen were to get a rise it would be because the fish were tired of waiting and snapped at anything to relieve the tedium of daily life.

A lovely day it was, the town lying under a white canopy of cloud, not a wind in all the air, but a line of houses sheer and dim along the river mingling with grey shadows; and on the other bank there were waste places difficult to account for, ruins showing dimly through the soft diffused light, like old castles, but Yeats said they were the ruins of ancient mills, for Galway had once been a prosperous town. Maybe, my spirit answered, but less beautiful than she is today; and after this remark Yeats was forgotten in the fisherman who threw his fly in vain, for the fish were too absorbed in their natural instinct to think of anything but the coming flood which would carry them up the river. I saw him change his fly many times, and at last, with some strange medley of red and blue and purple, he roused a fish out of its lethargy. It snapped; the hook caught in its gills, and a battle began which lasted up and down the stream, till at last a wearied fish was drawn up to the bank for the gillie to gaff. The fisherman prepared to throw his fly again across the river. Another silly fish would be tempted to snap at the gaudy thing dragged across its very nose sooner or later.... But we had seen enough of fishing for one day, and Edward led us through a dusty, dilapidated square; we stopped by the broken railings of the garden, for in the middle of the grass-plot somebody had set up an ancient gateway, all that remained of some great house; and when we had admired it we followed him through some crumbling streets to the town house of the Martyns, for in the eighteenth century the western gentry did not go to Dublin for the season. Dublin was two long days' journey away; going to Dublin meant spending a night on the road, and so every important county family had its town house in Galway. My grandfathers must have danced in Galway, there being no important town in Mayo, and in fine houses, if one may judge from what remains of Edward's. We viewed it from the courtyard, and he told us it had been let out in tenements and was nearly a ruin when it came into his hands; the roof was falling, the police had ordered him to have it taken down, for it was a public danger, and we listened to him, and we considered the archway under which the four-horsed coach used to pass into the courtyard, whilst he pointed out some marble chimney-pieces high up on the (p. 333) naked walls, saying he had better have them taken away. I hoped he would leave them, for a scattered vision of ladies in high-peaked bodices and gentlemen with swords had just appeared to me, dancing in mid air—appeared to me, not to him.

Leave them, and these steps where the lackeys have set down sedan chairs; embroidered shoes have run up these steps, flowered trains following, to dance minuet or gavotte ... or waltzes.

And arguing whether the waltz had penetrated to Galway in the eighteenth century, we followed Edward to the cathedral. Edward likes arches, even when the service held beneath them is Anglican, and he made himself agreeable, telling us that the cathedral was built late in the fifteenth century, and we wandered down the aisles, deploring the vulgarity of the modern world.

It would be impossible, he said, to build as beautiful a cathedral today, and he called on us to remember that there could not have been much culture in Galway in the fifteenth century, yet Galway could build a cathedral.

Galway was then without knowledge, I answered. We corrupt in knowledge and purify ourselves in ignorance.

Who said that? Yeats asked sharply.

Balzac, but I cannot answer for the exact words.

True! How true! Edward repeated, and, leading us down a lane-way, he pointed out some stone carvings which seemed to him conclusive of the fifteenth, but which might be fourteenth-century sculpture, Ireland being always a century behind England, and England being always a century behind France. All the same he believed that the gateway was late fifteenth century, for at that time Galway was trading with Spain and the gateway bore traces of Spanish influence. He spoke of the great galleons that once came floating up the bay, their sails filled with the sunset, and called our attention to the wide sweeping outlines of the headlands stretching far away into the Atlantic. Not only in certain buildings but in flesh and blood are traces of the Spaniard to be found in Galway, I said, and pointed to a group of yellow-skinned boys basking among the brown nets drying along the great wharf. Edward told me that these were Claddagh boys, and that the Claddagh are all Irish speakers; and we stopped to question them as to what language they were in the habit of using, only to learn with sorrow that English and Irish were all the same to them.

That is how a language dies, Edward said. The parents speak it, the children understand it, but don't speak it, and the grandchildren neither speak nor understand. I like the English language and I like the Irish, but I hate the mixture.

Yeats sighed, and the boys told us that the hooker from Arran was (p. 334) lying out there in the west, becalmed, and we need not expect her before evening, unless the men put out the oars, and she was too heavy for rowing.

On a warm day like this, not likely, I answered, and the indolent boys laughed, and we continued our walk down the wharf, thinking of the great labour spent upon it. The bringing of all these stones and the building of them so firmly and for such a long way into the sea could only have been done in famine times. A long wharf, so long that we had not walked half its length when Yeats and Edward began to speak of returning to the Feis; and, leaving them undecided, staring into the mist, hoping to catch sight every moment of the black hull of the hooker, I strayed on ahead, looking round, wondering, tempted to explore the mystery of the wharf's end. Yet what mystery could there be? Only a lot of tumbled stones. But the wonder of the world has hardly decreased for me since the days when I longed to explore the wilderness of rocks at the end of Kingstown Pier, the great clefts frightening me, sending me back, ashamed of my cowardice, to where my uncles and aunts and cousins were seated, listening to the band (in the 'sixties fashionable Dublin used to assemble on the pier on Sunday afternoons). One day I was bolder, and descended into the wilderness, returning after a long absence, very excited, and telling that I had met the King of the Fairies fishing at the mouth of the cave. The story that I had brought back was that he had caught three fish when I had met him and had given me one. I was silent when asked why I had forgotten to bring it back with me, my interest in the adventure being centred in the fact that in answer to my question how far Fairyland was from Kingstown, he had told me that a great wave rises out of the sea every month, and that I must go away upon it, and then wait for another great wave, which would take me another piece of the way. I must wait for a third wave, and it would be the ninth that would throw me right up on to Fairyland.

But the story interested nobody but me; my uncles and aunts looked at me, evidently considering if I weren't a little daft; and one of the crudest of the Blakes, a girl with a wide, ugly mouth and a loud voice, laughed harshly, saying that I could not be taken anywhere, even to Kingstown Pier, without something wonderful happening to me. These Blakes were my first critics, and their gibes filled me with shame, and I remember coming to a resolve that night to avoid all the places where one would be likely to meet a fairy fisherman, and if I did come across another by ill chance, to run away from him, my fingers in my ears. But notwithstanding that early vow and many subsequent vows, I have failed to see and hear as the Blakes do, and I go on meeting adventures everywhere, even on the wharf at Galway, which should have been safe from them. By Edward one is always safe from adventures, and it would (p. 335) have been well for me not to have stirred from his side. I only strayed fifty yards, but that short distance was enough, for while looking down into the summer sea, thinking how it moved up against the land's side like a soft, feline animal, the voices of some women engaged my attention, and turning I saw that three girls had come down to a pool sequestered out of observation, in a hollow of the headland. Sitting on the bank they drew off their shoes and stockings and advanced into the water, kilting their petticoats above their knees as it deepened. On seeing me they laughed invitingly; and, as if desiring my appreciation, one girl walked across the pool, lifting her red petticoat to her waist, and forgetting to drop it when the water shallowed, she showed me thighs whiter and rounder than any I have ever seen, their country coarseness heightening the temptation. She continued to come towards me. A few steps would have taken me behind a hillock. They might have bathed naked before me, and it would have been the boldest I should have chosen, if fortune had favoured me. But Yeats and Edward began calling, and, dropping her petticoats, she waded from me.

What are you doing down there, George? Hurry up! Here's the hooker being rowed into the bay bringing the piper and the story-tellers from Arran.


Edward, I said, if the Irish language is to be revived, something in the way of reading must be provided for the people.

Haven't they Hyde's Folk Tales?

Yes, and these are well enough in their way, but a work is what is needed—a book.

Edward thought that as soon as the Irish people had learnt their language somebody would be sure to write a national work.

There's plenty of talent about.

But, my dear friend, there isn't sufficient application.

You're quite right. And we talked of atmosphere and literary tradition, neither of which we had, nor could have for a hundred years. And therefore are without hope of an original work in the Irish language. But we can get a translation of a masterpiece. We want a book and can't go on any further without one. I hear everybody complaining that when he has learnt Irish there is nothing for him to read.

But do you think they would deign to read a translation? Edward answered, laughing, and he agreed with me that, outside of folklore, there is no art except that which comes of great culture.

A translation of a world-wide masterpiece is what we want, and we have to decide on a work before we reach Athlone.

(p. 336) Why Athlone?

Athlone or Mullingar. Now, Edward, you are to give your whole mind to the question.

Nothing English, he said resolutely. Something Continental—some great Continental work. His eyes became fixed, and I saw that he was thinking. Télémaque, he said at last.

Télémaque would be quite safe, but aren't you afraid that it is a little tedious?

Gil Blast?

I never read Gil Bias, but have heard many people say that they couldn't get through it. What do you think of Don Quixote? It comes from a great Catholic country, and it was written by a Catholic; and until we remembered the story of The Curious Impertinent, and the other stories interwoven into the narrative, Don Quixote seemed to be the very thing we needed. We want short stories, I said. A selection of tales from Maupassant.

The Gaelic League might object.

It certainly would if my name were mentioned. I've got it, Edward!—The Arabian Nights. There are no stories the people would read so readily.

Edward was inclined to agree with me, and before we reached Dublin it was arranged that he should give fifty pounds and I five-and-twenty towards the publication of Taidgh O'Donoghue's translation.

And if more is wanted, Edward said, they can have it. But remember one thing. It must be sanctioned by the Gaelic League and published under its auspices; as you well know, my interests are in public life. I have no private life.

Oh yes, you have, Edward; I'm your private life.

Edward snorted and took refuge in his joke Mon ami Moore; but this time he showed himself trustworthy. He wrote to the Freeman's Journal, disclosing our project, and winding up his letter with an expression of belief that the entire cost of the work could not be much more than one hundred and fifty pounds, and that he was quite sure there were many who would like to help.

Many were willing to help us—with advice. The Freeman's Journal came out next day full up of letters signed by various Dublin literati, approving of the project, but suggesting a different book for translation. One writer thought that Plutarch's Lives would supply the people with a certain culture, which he ventured to say was needed in the country. Another was disposed to look favourably upon a translation of St Thomas Aquinas; another proposed Caesar's Commentaries; and the debate was continued until the truth leaked out that the proposed translation of The Arabian Nights was due to my suggestion. Then, of (p. 337) course, all the fat was in the fire. Sacerdos contributed a column and a half which may be reduced to this sentence: Mr George Moore has selected The Arabian Nights because he wishes an indecent book to be put into the hands of every Irish peasant. We do not take our ideas of love from Mohammedan countries; we are a pure race.

The paper slipped from my hand and I lay back in my chair overwhelmed, presenting a very mournful spectacle to any one coming into the room. How long I lay inert I don't know, but I remember starting out of my chair, crying, I must go and see Edward.

Well, George, you see you've got the reputation for a certain kind of writing, and you can't blame the priests if—

Edward, Edward!

After all it is their business to watch over their flocks, and to see that none is corrupted.

Ba, ba, ba! ba, ba, ba!

Mon ami Moore, mon ami Moore!

You'll drive me mad, Edward, if you continue that idiotic joke any longer. The matter is a serious one. I came over to Ireland—

You have no patience.

No patience! I cried, looking at the great man. He is the Irish Catholic people, I said, and later in the afternoon my disappointment caused me to doze away in front of my beautiful grey Manet, my exquisite mauve Monet, and my sad Pissaro. The Irish are a cantankerous, hateful race, I muttered, on awaking. And the mood of hate endured for some days, myself continually asking myself why I had ventured back into Ireland. But at the end of the week a new plan for the regeneration of the Irish race came into my head. It seemed a good thing for me to write a volume of short stories dealing with peasant life, and these would be saved from the criticism of Sacerdos and his clan if they were first published in a clerical review. One can only get the better of the clergy by setting the clergy against the clergy. In that way Louis XV ridded France of the Jesuits, and obtained possession of all their property; and in Ireland, no more than in France, are the Jesuits on the best of terms with the secular clergy ... they might be inclined to take me up.

My hopes in this direction were not altogether unwarranted. I had read a paper when I came over to Ireland for the performance of The Bending of the Bough, on the necessity of the revival of the Irish language, for literary as well as for national reasons, at a public luncheon given by the Irish Literary Society, and a few days after the reading of this paper, a neighbour of mine in Mayo wrote to me, saying that a friend of hers desired to make my acquaintance. It was natural to suppose that it could not be any one but some tiresome woman, and up (p. 338) went my nose. No, it isn't a woman; it is a priest. My nose went up still higher. Father Finlay, she said, and I was at once overjoyed, for I had long desired to make Father Tom's acquaintance. But it was not to Father Tom, but to his brother Peter that she proposed to introduce me. A much superior person, she said, a man of great learning who has lived in Rome many years and speaks Latin.

As well as he should be able to speak Irish, I clamoured.

You will like him much better than the agriculturist, she answered earnestly.

It did not seem at all sure to me that she was right; but, not wishing to lose a chance of winning friends for the Irish language, I accompanied her somewhat reluctantly to the Jesuit College in Milltown.

A curious and absurd little meeting it was; myself producing all my arguments, trying to convince the Jesuit with them, and the Jesuit taking up a different position, and the lady listening to our wearisome talk with long patience. At last it struck me that Dante must be boring her prodigiously, and getting up to go I spoke about trains.

Father Peter accompanied us to the College gate, and on the way there he asked me if I would give the paper that I had read at the luncheon for publication in their review.

But I thought your brother was the editor?

He is, Peter answered, but that doesn't make any difference.

As I did not know Tom, the paper went to Peter, and it was published in the New Ireland Review. My contribution did not, however, seem to bring me any nearer Father Tom. He did not write to me about it, nor did he write asking me to contribute again; and when I came to live in Dublin, though I heard everybody speaking of him, no one offered to introduce us—not even Peter, whom I often met in the streets and once in the house where the young lady who had introduced us lodged. No one seemed willing to undertake the risk of introducing me to Tom, and the mystery so heightened my desire of Tom's acquaintance that one day I invited Peter to walk round Stephen's Green with me, in the hope that he might say, Let's call on Tom. But at every step my aversion from Peter increased, without ever prompting the thought that I might dislike Tom equally. Peter Finlay is not an attractive name; there seems to be a little snivel in it, but Tom is a fine, robust name, and it goes well with Finlay; and all that I had heard about him had excited my curiosity. My friends were his friends, and they spoke of him as of a cryptogram which nobody could decipher, and this had set me wondering if I should succeed where others had failed, till at last the ridiculous superstition glided into my mind that Father Tom looked upon me as a dangerous person, one to be avoided—which was tantamount to the belief that Father Tom lacked courage, that he was afraid of me, as (p. 339) absurd a thought as ever strayed into a man's head. But human nature is such that we seek an explanation in every accident.

One day AE stopped to speak to somebody in Merrion Street. Turning suddenly, he said: Let me introduce you to Father Tom Finlay. I felt a look of pleasure come into my face, and I knew myself at once to be in sympathy with this long-bodied man, fleshy everywhere—hands, paunch, calves, thighs, forearm, and neck. I liked the russet-coloured face, withered like an apple, the small, bright, affectionate eyes, the insignificant nose, the short grey hair. I liked his speech—simple, direct, and intimate, and his rough clothes. I was whirled away into admiration of Father Tom, and for the next few days thought of nothing but when I should see him again. A few days after, seeing him coming towards me, hurrying along on his short legs (one cannot imagine Father Tom strolling), I tried to summon courage to speak to him. He passed, saluting me, lifting his hat with a smile in his little eyes—a smile which passed rapidly. One sees that his salute and his smile are a mere formality. So I nearly let him pass me, but summoning all my courage at the last moment I called to him, and he stopped at once, like one ready to render a service to whoever required one.

I thought of writing to you, Father Tom, about a matter which has been troubling me; but refrained. On consideration it seemed too absurd.

Father Tom waited for me to continue, but my courage forsook me suddenly, and I began to speak about other things. Father Tom listened to Gaelic League propaganda with kindness and deference; and it was not till I was about to bid him goodbye that he said:

But what was the matter to which you alluded in the beginning of our conversation? You said you wished to consult me upon something.

Well, it is so stupid that I am afraid to tell you.

I shall be glad if you will tell me, he answered, taking me into his confidence; and I told him that I had been down at the Freeman office to ask the editor if he would publish a letter from me.

But, Father Tom, what I'm going to say is absurd.

Father Tom smiled encouragingly; his smile seemed to say, Nothing you can say is absurd.

Well, it doesn't seem to me that people are dancing enough in Ireland.

You mean there isn't enough amusement in Ireland? I quite agree with you.

It's a relief to find oneself in agreement with somebody, especially with you, Father Tom. Father Tom smiled amiably, and then, becoming suddenly serious, I said, Ever since I've been here I find myself up against somebody or something, and I told him about the touring (p. 340) company, admitting that perhaps the League did not find itself justified in incurring any further expenses. But our project for The Arabian Nights translation—could anything be more inoffensive—yet the Freeman—What is one to do?

One mustn't pay any attention to criticism. The best way is to go on doing what one has to do. In these words Father Tom seemed to reveal himself a little, and we talked about the cross-road dances. He said he would speak on the subject; and he did, astonishing the editor of the Freeman, and, when I next ran across Father Tom, he told me he had just come back from his holidays in Donegal, where he had attended a gathering of young people—the young girls came with their mothers and went home with them after the dance. These words were spoken with a certain fat unction, a certain gross moral satisfaction which did not seem like Father Tom, and I was much inclined to tell him that to dance under the eye of a priest and be taken home by one's mother must seem a somewhat trite amusement to a healthy country girl, unless, indeed, the Irish people experience little passion in their courtships or their marriages. These opinions were, however, not vented, and we walked on side by side till the silence became painful, and, to interrupt it, Father Tom asked if I had seen Peter lately.

Peter? I answered. What Peter? For I had completely forgotten him. Father Tom answered, My brother, and I said, No, I haven't seen him this long while, and we walked on, I listening to Tom with half my mind, the other half meditating on the difference between the two brothers. Whereas Peter seemed to me to be sunk in the Order, Father Tom seemed to have struck out and saved himself. It was possible to imagine Peter reading the Exercises of St Ignatius, and by their help quelling all original speculation regarding the value of life and death; for he that reads often of the beatific faces in Heaven, and the flames that lick up the entrails of the damned without ever consuming them, is not troubled with doubt that perhaps, after all, the flower in the grass, the cloud in the sky, and his own beating heart may be parcel of Divinity. Tom must have studied these Exercises too, but it would seem that they had influenced Peter more deeply, and, thinking of Peter again, it seemed to me that to them might be fairly attributed the dryness and the angularity of mind that I observed in him. But how was it that these Exercises passed so lightly over Tom's mind? For it was difficult to think he had ever been tempted by pantheism. He has had his temptations, like all of us, but pantheism was not one of them, and, on thinking the matter out, the conclusion was forced upon me that he had escaped from the influences of the Exercises by throwing himself into all manners and kinds of work. He is the busiest man in Ireland—on every Board, pushing the wheel of education and industry, the editor (p. 341) of a review, the author of innumerable text-books, a friend to those who need a friend, finding time somehow for everybody and everything, and himself full of good humour and kindness, outspoken and impetuous, a keen intellect, a ready and incisive speaker, a politician at heart, who, if he had been one actually, would have led his own party and not been led by it.

One has to think for a while to discover some trace of the discipline of the Order in him. If he were a secular priest he would not bow so elaborately perhaps, nor wear so enigmatic a smile in his eyes. Father Tom is a little conscious of his intellectual superiority, I think. He is looked upon as a mystery by many people, and perhaps is a little eccentric. Intelligence and moral courage are eccentricities in the Irish character, and one would not look for them in a Jesuit priest. It seems to me that I understand him, but one may understand without being able to interpret, and to write Father Tom's Apology would require the genius of Robert Browning. He could write his own Apology, and if he set himself to the task he would produce a book much more interesting than Newman's. But Father Tom would not care to write about himself unless he wrote quite sincerely, and it would be necessary to tell the waverings that preceded his decision to become a Jesuit. He must have known that by joining the Order he risked losing his personality, the chief business of the Order being to blot out personality. Now, how was this problem solved by Father Tom? Did the Order present such an irresistible attraction to his imagination that he resolved to risk himself in the Order? Or did he know himself to be so strong that he would be able to survive the discipline to which he would have to submit? If he wrote his Apology he would have to tell us whether he does things because he likes to do things efficiently, or because he thinks it right they should be done. This chapter should be especially interesting, and the one in which Father Tom would speculate on the relation of his soul to his intelligence! He values his intelligence—indeed, I think he prides himself on it. As a priest he would have to place his soul above his intelligence, and he would do this very skilfully.... But oneself is a dangerous subject for a priest to write about, and perhaps Father Tom avoids the subject, foreseeing the several difficulties that would confront him before he had gone very far. Once his pen was set going, however, he would not abandon his work, and any misunderstanding which might arise out of his Apology would revert to the co-operative movement of which he is so able an advocate. All the same, I reflected, it's a pity that so delightful an intelligence should be wasted on agriculture, and I thought how I might ensnare Father Tom's literary instincts.

I've been thinking, Father Tom, I said, in our next walk, about the book you told me you once wished to write—The Psychology of Religion. (p. 342) A more interesting subject I cannot imagine, or one more suited to your genius, and I am full of hope that you will write that book.

Father Tom muttered a little to himself, and I think I heard him say that there was more important work to be done in Ireland.

What work?

Father Tom did not seem to like being questioned, and when I pressed him for an answer, he spoke of the regeneration of the countryside.

Mere agriculture, that anybody can do; but this book would be yourself, and Ireland is without ideas and literary ideals. We would prefer your book to agriculture, and you must write it. And ... I wonder how it is that you have never written a book; you are full of literary interests.

Then, very coquettishly, Father Tom admitted that he had once written a novel.

A novel! You must let me see it. And I stared at him nervously, frightened lest he might refuse.

I don't think it would interest you.

Oh, but it would. I was afraid to say how much it would interest me—more it seemed to me than any novel by Balzac or Turgenev, for it would reveal Father Tom to me. However inadequate the words might be, I should be able to see the man behind them; and I pleaded for the book all the way to the College in Stephen's Green.

I shall have to go upstairs to my bedroom to fetch it.

I'll wait. And I waited in the hall, saying to myself, Something will prevent him from giving it to me. He may stop to think on the stairs, or, overtaken by a sudden scruple, he may go to Father Delany's room to ask his advice. Father Delany may say, Perhaps it will be better not to lend him the book. If that happens he will have to obey his Superior. So did my thoughts wander till he appeared on the staircase with the book in his hand—a repellent-looking book, bound in red boards, which I grasped eagerly, and stopped under a lamp to examine. The print seemed as uninviting as tin-tacks, but a book cannot be read under a street lamp and in the rain, so I slipped the volume into my overcoat and hurried home.

AE, I've discovered a novel by a well-known Irishman—a friend of yours.

Have I read it?

I don't think so; you'd have spoken about it to me if you had. You'll never guess—the most unlikely man in Ireland.

The most unlikely man in Ireland to have written a novel? AE answered. Then it must be Plunkett.

You're near it.



(p. 343) Father Tom?

I nodded, very proud of myself at having found out something about Father Tom that AE did not know.

If Father Tom has written a novel I think I shall be able to read the man behind the words.

Just what I said to myself as I came along the Green, and I watched AE reading.

With a cast-iron style like that, a man has nothing to fear from the prying eyes, and he handed the book back to me.

But let us, I replied, discover the story that he has to tell.

AE looked through some pages and said, There seems to be an insurrection going on somewhere; the soldiers have arrived, and are surrounding a castle in the moonlight. AE always finds something to say about a book, even if it be in cast-iron, and I loved him better than before, when he said, Father Tom loves Ireland. That Father Tom's love of Ireland should have penetrated his cast-iron style mitigated my disappointment.

I wonder why he lent me the book?

Possibly to prevent you worrying him any more to write The Psychology of Religion.

Every time I go for a bicycle ride with him, or a walk, I am at him about that book—but it's no use.

A cloud appeared in AE's face. He suspects Father Tom, I said to myself, of angling for my soul; and, to tease AE, I told him that I often spent my evenings talking to Father Tom, in his bedroom, on literary subjects, and that I had arranged with him for the publication of several short stories in the New Ireland Review.

These stories are to be translated into Irish by Taidgh O'Donoghue, and Father Tom will probably get the book accepted as a text-book by the Intermediate Board of Education.

But do you think that it was to write these stories that you came from England?

Well, for what other purpose do you think I came? And to what better purpose can a man's energy be devoted, and his talents, than the resuscitation of his country's language? What do you think I came for?

I hoped that you would do in Ireland what Voltaire did in France, that, whenever Walsh or Logue said something stupid in the papers, you would just reply to them in some sharp cutting letter, showing them up in the most ridiculous light, terrifying them into silence.

I'm afraid you were mistaken if you thought that I came to Ireland on any enterprise so trivial. I came to give back to Ireland her language.

But what use will her language be to Ireland if she is not granted the right to think?

(p. 344) The filing of theological fetters will be a task for the next generation.

Oh, Moore, Moore, Moore! he muttered, in his chimney-corner. And then, seeing him disappointed, the temptation to tread on his corns overcame me.

Of what avail, I asked, are our ideas if they be expressed in a worn-out language? Moreover, it is not ideas that we are seeking. An idea is so impersonal; it is yours today and the whole world's tomorrow. We would isolate Ireland from what you call ideas, from all European influence; we believe that art will arise in Ireland if we segregate Ireland, and the language will enable us to do that.

However fast the language movement might progress, AE answered, Ireland will not be an Irish-speaking country for the next fifty or sixty years, and a hundred years will have to pass before literature will begin in Ireland; besides, you can't have literature without ideas.

The only time Ireland had a literature was when she had no ideas—in the eighth and ninth centuries.

Oh, Moore, Moore, Moore!

The bell rang, and we wondered who the visitor might be. Walter Osborne? John Eglinton? Hughes? Which of our friends? Edward, by all that's holy! We were surprised and pleased to see him, for Edward lives outside my ring of friends; they meet him in the streets, and he is glad to stand and talk with them at the kerb, if the wind be not blowing too sharply. Thinking, therefore, that he had for a wonder yielded to a desire to go out to talk to somebody, my welcome was affectionate. But, alas! he had come to speak to me on some Gaelic League business, an opera that somebody had written, and hoped he was not interrupting our conversation.

I cried, Good Heaven! and handed him the cigar-box, and we began to talk about Yeats, and when we could find nothing more to say about either his mistakes or his genius, AE spoke to us about Plunkett's ideas, and when these were exhausted Hyde's mistakes were discussed with passion by Edward and me. We wanted a forward policy.

If the Boers, I said, had only pressed forward after their first victories—

I beg your pardon, Edward suddenly interrupted, but have either of you heard the news? The Boers seem to have brought it off this time, and he told us that Lord Methuen and fifteen hundred troops had been captured by the Boers.

But what you say can't be true. Edward. You are joking.

No, I'm not. It is all in the evening papers.

And you come here to talk Gaelic League business, forgetful of the greatest event that has happened since Thermopylae. If the Boers should win after all!

(p. 345) It will be the same in the end, only prolonging the war.

His words shocked me, and immediately the conviction overpowered me that nothing would be the same again, and I was lifted suddenly out of my ordinary senses. The walls about me seemed to recede, and myself to be transported ineffably above a dim plain rolling on and on till it mingled with the sky. An encampment was there in a hallowed light, and one face, stern and strong, yet gentle, was taken by me for the face of the Eternal Good, upreared after combat with the Eternal Evil. What I saw was a symbol of a guiding Providence in the world. There is one, there is one! I exclaimed. It is about me and in me. And all the night long I heard as the deaf hear, and answered as the dumb answer. A night of fierce exultations and prolonged joys murmuring through the darkness like a river. For how can it be otherwise? I cried, starting up in bed. Yet I believed this many a year that all was blind chance. And I fell back and lay like one consumed by a secret fire. Life seemed to have no more for giving, and I cried out: It is terrible to feel things so violently. It were better to pass through life quietly like Edward; and on these words, or soon after, I must have dropped away into sleep.


One day, while walking home with John Eglinton from Professor Dowden's, I mentioned that I was thinking of writing a volume of short stories about Irish life.

Like Turgenev's Tales of a Sportsman? And the face that would be ugly if unlighted by the intelligence lit up. And you will require how many stories to make the volume?

Nine, ten, or a dozen—a year's work.

Do you think you'll be able to find subjects all the while?

The question kindled my vanity, and I answered: Turgenev wrote The Tales of a Sportsman in Paris, and sent them to a Russian newspaper week by week. Maupassant contributed two stories a week to the Gil Bias, but it does not follow that because Maupassant and Turgenev were always able to find new subjects I shall, and Father Tom restricting the zone of my stories. The stories I am thinking of are longer than Maupassant's.

As soon as I had bidden him goodbye my thoughts went away in search of subjects, and before many steps were taken I remembered Dick Lennox, the fat man in A Mummer's Wife, He used to lodge in a factory-town in Lancashire in the house of a maiden lady, and one day she opened a drawer and showed him her wedding-gown. It had never gone to church, but how she had lost her swain it was impossible (p. 346) to remember—Dick Lennox may never have told me—but the wedding-gown I remembered, and a new story was woven round it that same evening, and it pleased Father Tom so much that he wished to publish the English text with the Irish.

The publication of the English text seemed to me to render useless the publication of the story, and Father Tom failed to persuade me; and only Taidgh O'Donoghue's translation appeared in the New Ireland Review—a beautiful translation, if I can judge it from Rolleston's retranslation, full of exquisite little turns of phrase. Kuno Meyer—and who knows better?—tells me that the Irish text exhales the folk-flavour that I sought for and missed, and Hyde, who will never take sides on any subject, admits that the Irish version gives him more pleasure, for though I often meet good English, it is seldom I come across a good piece of Irish. Alms-giving and The Clerk's Quest were published subsequently in the New Ireland Review, and both pleased Father Tom. And it was not till the fourth month that I began to feel the restrictions of the New Ireland Review. I had plenty of subjects in stock, but not one that I thought Father Tom would think suitable. Home Sickness might go into the Review, but somehow, I could not see it included in a school-book—The Exile still less, and the worst of it was that The Exile was nearly written; it had taken a fortnight to write—a longish short story, and a downright good subject for narrative, if I may say so without impertinence. And it was for no fault in the writing that Father Tom rejected it. He liked the story, and he liked Home Sickness even better than The Exile, but he made me feel that it could hardly be included in a collection of stories which he could recommend as a text-book for the Intermediate.

Yes, I answered, I quite see. Stories about things, without moral or literary tendencies—stories like Turgenev's, of the horse that is stolen and recovered again, so the owner thinks at first, but after a little while he begins to think the horse less wonderful than the horse he lost, and the uncertainty preys upon his mind to such an extent that he ends by shooting the horse.

That is what we want—a wonderful story, and one excellently well suited to a text-book, for all children love horses; it is one of their first interests.

But my mind seemed closed for the time being to the stories suitable to a text-book, and wide open to those that would lead me away from Father Tom and the New Ireland Review. And this was a grief to me, for I knew full well that my contributions to the New Ireland Review were the link that bound me to my friend, if he will allow me to call him friend. We shall not meet again, and if we do, of what use? We are like ships; all and sundry have destinies and destinations. There is very little (p. 347) Nietzsche in me, but this much of him I remember, that we must pursue our courses valiantly, come what may. Father Tom and I had lain side by side in harbour for a while, but the magnetism of the ocean drew me, and I continued to write, feeling all the while that my stories were drawing me away from Catholic Ireland.

Story followed story, each coming into my mind before the story on the blotting pad was finished, and each suggested by something seen or something heard. When I was called to Castlebar to fulfil the office of High Sheriff, Father Lyons showed me the theatre he had built, and it was AE, I think, who told me that he knew a priest who lived in the great waste lying between Crossmalina and Belmullet. He once liked reading, but he now spent his evenings knitting. I can see your priest, I cried, and wrote The Playhouse in the Waste, and A Letter to Rome. A little wreath of stories was woven one evening at the Moat House out of the gossip of a maid who was prone to relate the whole countryside, and she did this so well that she seemed to be relating a village Odyssey, incident following incident with bewildering prodigality. To omit any seemed a losing. But in writing, order and sequence are necessary, and all I could make use of were the four little tales entitled Some Parishioners. It is a pity that more time was not spent on the writing of them, but the English language was still abhorrent to me; and my text was looked upon by me as a mere foundation for an Irish one, and the stories might never have been finished, or not finished at the time, for I could trust Taidgh O'Donoghue to fill up the ruts for me, if it had not been for Stella's interest in them. Part of our bargain was that I should read them to her in the drawing-room in the Moat House after dinner, and her mind being one of those large tidy minds that can find no pleasure in broken stories or harsh or incomplete sentences, I got from her the advice I needed—to put the finishing hand to the stories before sending them to Taidgh.

Whose task, she said, will be much lightened thereby; badly constructed sentences are difficult to translate.

We stood by the bridge, looking into the moat, and hearing water faintly trickling through the summer tangle of flowering weeds, we fetched a pole and measured four or five feet of mud; below the mud was a flagged bottom, which went far to prove that Stella was right in her surmise that the moat had once been used as a breeding place for trout.

But if trout had been bred in the moat, trout could be bred in it again, and Stella was at last persuaded that the cleansing of the moat would be a pleasant summer's work for the villagers, and that we should take great interest in the laying down of the spawn and in netting the fish when they had grown to half a pound. Trout grew to that size in a (p. 348) piscina, and talking of the pleasure of the netting, she trailing the net on one side of the stream and I on the other, we passed round the house into the rich garden she had planted.

I think you care more for weeds than for flowers, she said, her little hardship being my lack of interest in her garden, for a garden was part of her instinct as much as her painting; and my clearest remembrance of her is a tall figure in the evening light moving through flower-beds.

In front of us was a great sweeping corn-field covering several acres, rare in Ireland, where all the country is grass; and on the other side the Valley of the Liffey extended mile after mile, blue hills gathering the landscape up into its rest at last. Our eyes sought for Rathfarnham, four or five miles away, and we spoke of the two rivers, the Liffey and the Dodder, and of the herdsmen that followed the cattle. Ireland was new to us both, almost as new to me as it was to her, and we were interested in the country we had come to live in, she more playfully and more humanely than I, being a painter, whereas the Boer War still continued to vex me, driving me forward relentlessly, and making me a tiresome companion at times. Stella's cordial unmoral appreciation of Ireland was a great help to me, and her fine ear for idiom drew my attention to the beauty of peasant speech in our walks through the Valley of the Liffey, her eyes measuring the landscape all the while, noting the shapely trees and the lonely farmhouses. She and Florence often spent nights together in the Sussex woods, and now, inspired by the summer-time, she began to speak to me of a night out upon the mountain; and one evening we drove to the end of the mountain road, and walked half a mile with our rugs and lay down under the ruins of the Hell Fire Club. Hard by is the gaunt ruin of an unfinished castle, begun with reckless extravagance—by whom? Names slip away, but the sight of the ruin against the hillside remains distinct.

And for two long summers we drove and walked through these neighbourhoods. Coming one day upon a picturesque farmhouse, and wondering who the folk might be that lived within walls as strong as a fortress, we wandered round the house, looking into the great areas. The farmer introduced us to his daughter, a pretty red-headed girl about twenty, who said they were just going to sit down to tea, and would we join them? Among other things, they spoke of a cousin from America who was coming to Ireland for a rest; he had been all through Cuba, reporting the war for the American papers. He, too, seemed typical of Ireland, and before we reached the Moat House I had begun to see him strolling about Tara, dreaming of Ireland's past, till he fell in love with the farmer's pretty daughter, sensual love bridging over, for a while, intellectual differences. And this story seeming to me representative (p. 349) of Irish life, I decided to include it in the collection, though in length it did not correspond with the others. Each story in the volume entitled The Unfilled Field had helped me to understand my own country, but it was while writing The Wild Goose that it occurred to me for the first time that, it being impossible to enjoy independence of body and soul in Ireland, the thought of every brave-hearted boy is to cry, Now, off with my coat so that I may earn five pounds to take me out of the country.

Every race gets the religion it deserves, I said, and only as policemen, pugilists, and priests have they succeeded, with here and there a successful lawyer. The theory of the germ cell floated into my mind: It may be that Nature did not intend them to advance beyond the stage of the herdsmen—the finest in the world! I cried, rising from the composition of The Wild Goose. They were that in the beginning, when the greater part of Ireland was forest and marsh, with great pasture lands through which long herds of cattle wandered from dawn to evening, watched over by barbarous men in kilts with terrible dogs; and since those days we have lost the civilisation that obtained in the monasteries. We have declined in everything except our cattle, and our herdsmen, the finest in the world, divining the steak in the bullock with the same certainty as the Greek divined the statue in the block of marble.

My discovery produced in me a kind of rapture, and I sat looking at my Monet for a long while, thinking that perhaps, after all, it is unnecessary for a race to produce pictures or literature or sculpture or music, for to do one thing extremely well justifies the existence of a race, and the beef-steaks that Ireland produces justify Ireland—in a way, for though the Irish have produced the finest steaks, they have never invented a sauce for the steak; and I fell to thinking that if some meditative herdsman, while leaning over a gate, had been inspired to compose a sauce whereby the steak might be eaten with relish, the Irish race would be able to hold up its head in the world. One finds excuses always for one's country's shortcomings, and it pleased me to think that if none had imagined Sauce Béarnaise it was because his attention was always needed to keep the cattle from straying. There were wolves in Ireland always lurking round the herd, ready to separate a heifer or a calf from the protection of the bulls. But to find an excuse for the monks dwelling in commodious monasteries is more difficult. The talk of the monks must have been frequently about the pleasures of the table, yet none was inspired to go to the Prior with the sacred word Béarnaise upon his lips. That word would have secured an immortality as secure as Chateaubriand, who is read no more, but is eaten every day. The intellect perishes, but the belly is always with us. Or may we acquit the race of lack of imagination, and lay the blame upon the Irish language, which is, perhaps, too harsh and bitter for such a buttery word as Béarnaise? (p. 350) And could a language in which there is no butter be capable of inventing a succulent sauce? It may be that the Irish language was intended for the sale of bullocks—a language that has never been to school, as John Eglinton once said. If it had only fled to the kitchen one might forgive it for having played truant—the Irish language, a language that has never been spoken in a drawing-room, only in rude towers, and very like those towers are the blocks of rough sound that a Gaelic speaker hurls at his audience when he speaks. Whereas one can hardly imagine any other language but French being spoken along the beautiful winding roads of France, lined with poplar-trees, and about the hillsides dotted with red-tiled roofs, and behind the pierced green shutters, which enchant us when we see them as the train moves on towards Paris from Amiens. The French language is implicit in the balconies, lanterns, perrons, that we see as the train nears Paris, and still more implicit in the high-pitched roofs of the chateau of Fontainebleau when allâmes and allâtes came naturally into conversation. In a trice we leave the Court of Louis XV for a fête at Melun, and there, though the past tenses are no longer in use, the language still sparkles; it foams and goes to the head, a lovely language, very like champagne. True that the English language has never been much in the kitchen nor in the vineyard, but it has been spoken in the dales and along the downs, and there is a finer breeze in it than there is in French, and a bite in it like Elizabethan ale—all the same, a declining language; thee and thou have been lost beyond hope of restoration, and many words that I remember in common use are now nearly archaic; a language wearied with child-bearing, and I pondered the endless poetry of England, and admitted English literature to be the most beautiful, Boer War or no Boer War. Whereas the Irish language, notwithstanding its declensions and its grammatical use of thee and thou, has failed. As Bergin said once to me, We did nothing with it when we had it. By this, did he mean that the Irish race was never destined to rise above the herdsman? And if he did, his instinctive judgment is important; it shows that we know ourselves. We see, I cried, the rump-steak in the animal as clearly as the Greek saw the statue in the marble, and the epigram pleased me so much that I felt I must go out at once to collogue with somebody.

But it was eleven o'clock, and no one is available at that hour but dear Edward; a few hundred yards are as nothing to one with a passion for literary conversation; and away I went down Ely Place, across Merrion Row, through Merrion Street, and as soon as the corner of Clare Street was turned, I began to look out for the light above the tobacconist's shop. The light was there! My heart was as faint as a lover's, and the serenade which I used to beguile him down from his books rose to my lips. He will only answer to this one, or to a motive (p. 351) from The Ring. And it is necessary to whistle very loudly, for the trams make a great deal of noise, and Edward sometimes dozes on the sofa.

On the other side is a public-house, and the serenading of Edward draws comments from the topers as they go away wiping their mouths. One has to choose a quiet moment between the trams; and when the serenade has been whistled twice, the light of Edward's candle appears, coming very slowly down the stairs, and there he is in the doorway, if anything larger than life, in the voluminous grey trousers, and over his shoulders a buff jacket which he wears in the evening. Two short flights of stairs, and we are in his room. It never changes—the same litter from day to day, from year to year, the same old and broken mahogany furniture, the same musty wallpaper, dusty manuscripts lying about in heaps, and many dusty books. If one likes a man one likes his habits, and never do I go into Edward's room without admiring the old prints that he tacks on the wall, or looking through the books on the great round table, or admiring the little sofa between the round table and the Japanese screen, which Edward bought for a few shillings down on the quays—a torn, dusty, ragged screen, but serviceable enough; it keeps out the draught; and Edward is especially susceptible to draughts, the very slightest will give him a cold. Between the folds of the screen we find a small harmonium of about three octaves, and on it a score of Palestrina. As well might one try to play the Mass upon a flute, and one can only think that it serves to give the keynote to a choir-boy. On the table is a candlestick made out of white tin, designed probably by Edward himself, for it holds four candles. He prefers candles for reading, but he snuffs them when I enter and lights the gas, offers me a cigar, refills his churchwarden, and closes his book.

What book are you reading, Edward?

I am reading Ruskin's Modern Painters, but it is very long and rather prosy, and the fifth volume is inexpressibly tedious. It doesn't seem to me that I shall ever get through it.

But if it doesn't interest you why do you read it?

Oh, I don't like to leave a book.

You prefer reading a tiresome book to my conversation.

But you live so far away.

How far, Edward? Five hundred yards.

And after dinner I like to get home to my pipe. You see, I'm at business all day; I've business relations with a great number of people. Our lives aren't the same; and I assure you that in the evening a quiet hour is a luxury to me.

But how can you find business to do all day? There is Mass in the morning and the Angelus at twelve?

I know what all that kind of talk is worth. And Edward puffed (p. 352) sullenly at his churchwarden while I assured him that I was thinking of his play.

All this public business, I said, leaves very little time for your work.

In the afternoon between four and seven I get a couple of hours. Yesterday I had a run; I got off thirty lines, but today I'm stuck again, and shall have to invent something to get one of the characters off the stage naturally. You see, I'm still in the pencil stage. In about two years I shall be in ink, and then I'll give you the play to read.

As my help would not be needed for the next two years, it seemed to me that I might speak of The Wild Goose, and Edward listened, giving his whole mind to the story.

But why, he asked, should Ned Carmody object to his wife suckling her baby?

He fears that it might spoil her figure.

Is that so? I didn't know. And he puffed at his pipe in silence. But do you think Ned Carmody would bother?

You think it introduces a streak of Sir Frederick Leighton? But who can say that an aesthetic aspiration may not break out even in a Celt, who is but a herdsman, the finest in the world, and I launched my epigram. But it met with no response. Edward's face deepened into monumental solemnity, and I understood that the proposition that the Irish race was not destined to rise above the herdsman was too disagreeable to be entertained. Shutting our eyes to facts will not change the facts.

In the eighth and ninth centuries—

The decline of art was coincident with the union of the Irish Church with Rome; till then Ireland was a Protestant country.

A Protestant country! St Patrick a Protestant!

Protestant in the sense that he merely preached Christianity, and the Irish Church was Protestant up to the eleventh or twelfth century; I don't know the exact date. I crossed the room to get myself another cigar; and returned, muttering something about a peasant people that had never risen out of the vague emotions of the clan.

We were talking about a very interesting question—that as soon as the Irish Church became united to Rome, art declined in Ireland. That isn't a matter of opinion, but of fact.

Edward spoke of the Penal Laws.

But the Penal Laws are not hereditary, like syphilis, and Father Tom admits that Irish Catholics have written very little.

Edward was curious to hear if I still went for bicycle rides in the country with Father Tom, and smoked cigarettes with him in his bedroom.

What can it matter how intimate my relations may or may not be (p. 353) with Father Tom? We are talking now on a serious subject, Edward, and I was about to tell you, when you interrupted me, that one evening, as I was walking round the green with Father Tom, I said to him: It is strange that Catholics have written so little in Ireland. It is, indeed, he answered, and Maynooth is a case in point; after a hundred years of education it has not succeeded in producing a book of any value, not even a theological work.

I don't know that Father Tom has produced anything very wonderful himself.

Very likely he hasn't. Father Tom's lack of original literary inspiration is a matter of no importance to any one except to Father Tom. The question before us is, Which is at fault—the race or Catholicism?

Edward would not admit that it could be Catholicism.

Don't you think that yourself have suffered? I said, as I went down the stairs. You burnt a volume of poems, and if Father Tom had not abandoned The Psychology of Religion he would have found himself up against half a dozen heresies before he had written fifty pages.

It seemed to me that I was on the threshold of a great discovery.


Highly favoured, indeed, am I among authors, I said, pushing open the wicket; but before many turns had been taken up and down the greensward, I began to fear that my reading had been too particular. My heart sank at the prospect of the years I should have to spend in the National Library, for a knowledge of all the literature of the world was necessary for the writing of the article I had in my mind. Then with a rising heart I remembered that I could engage the services of some poor scholar—John Eglinton knew for certain many who had read everything without having learnt to make use of their learning. My quickest way will be to lay the nose of one of these fellows on the scent; he will run it through many literatures, and with the results of his reading before me I shall be able to deal Catholicism such a blow as has not been dealt since the Reformation.

A light breeze rustled the lilacs, and I stood for a long time, forgetful of my idea, seeking within the long, pointed leaves for the blossom breaking into purple and white, thinking that the tranquil little path under the bushes was just the one Peter would choose for philosophic meditation; but, feeling that the sunlight beguiled my mind into thought, I wandered round the garden, still thinking, but noticing all the while the changes that had come into it within the last few days. The great ash by the garden gate seems to be making some progress. The catkins (p. 354) are gone, and in about three weeks the plumy foliage will be fluttering in the light breezes of the summer-time. The laburnum blossom is still enclosed in grey-green ears about the size of a caterpillar, I added, with here and there a spot of yellow. And pondering on Nature's unending miracles, I walked under the hawthorns, stopping, of course, to admire the hard little leaves like the medals that Catholics wear, I said, on my way to the corner where the Solomon-seal flourishes year after year, and the blooms of the everlasting pea creep up the wall nine or ten feet, to the level of the street, hard by the rosemary, which should perfume the whole garden, but the smoke from Plunkett's chimney robs the flowers of their perfume. The little blossom freckling the dark green spiky foliage held me at gaze. Above the rosemary is thick ivy; it was clipped close a few years ago, but it is again swarming up the wall, and Gogarty, the arch-mocker, the author of all the jokes that enable us to live in Dublin—Gogarty, the author of the Limericks of the Golden Age, the youngest of my friends, full in the face, with a smile in his eyes and always a witticism on his lips, overflowing with quotation, called yesterday to ask me to send a man with a shears, saying, Your ivy is threatening my slates. A survival of the Bardic Age he is, reciting whole ballads to me when we go for walks; and when I tell him my great discovery he will say, Sparrows and sweet-peas are as incompatible as Literature and Dogma; and you will cut the ivy, won't you?

And wandering across my greensward, I came to my apple-trees, now in bridal attire; not a petal yet fallen, but tomorrow or the day after the grass will be covered with them, I said. Gogarty told me yesterday how the poet rose early to see the daisy open. He describes himself a-kneeling always till it unclosed was upon the softë, sweetë, smallë grass. But if he liked the grass so much, why did he love the daisy? For if sparrows and sweet-peas are incompatible, it may be said with equal truth that the daisy is the grass's natural enemy; and worse than daisies are dandelions. A few still remain, though poison was poured upon them last year. My flower-beds are a sad spectacle; wallflowers straggling—sad are they as Plunkett's beard. Sweet-peas once grew there; the first year a tall hedge sprung up, despite the College of Science; for the soil was almost virgin then, and it sent forth plenty of canterbury bells, columbine, poppies, and larkspur; but year by year my flowers have died, and the garden will now grow only a few lilies and pinks, carnations, larkspur, poppies. At that moment a smut fell across my knuckles, and, looking up, I saw a great black cloud issuing from the chimney of the College of Science. Isn't it a poor thing that all my flowers should die, so that a few students should be allowed the privilege of burning their eyelids for the sake of Ireland?

My garden is but a rood, and the only beauty it can boast of is its (p. 355) grass and its apple-trees—one tree as large as a house, under whose boughs I might dine in the summer-time were it not for the smuts from Plunkett's chimney. One of its great boughs is dying, and will have to be cut away lest it should poison the rest of the tree. My garden is but a rood, and following the walk round the square of glad grass, I am back again in a few minutes, admiring tall bushes flourishing over the high wall, and, as if to greet me, the robin sings the little roundelay that he utters all the year—a saucy little bird that will take bread from my hand in winter, but now it is easy to see he is thinking of his mate, whose nest is in the great tangle of traveller's-joy that covers the southern wall, somewhere near the bush where a thrust is sitting on her eggs—not so bold a bird as the robin. My curiosity last year drove her from her eggs; and it will be well for me to walk the other way.

Now, which will my countrymen choose—Literature or Dogma?

It is difficult to think in a garden where amorous birds are going hither and thither, so amorous that one cannot but be interested in them. If one had to think about books, one would choose to think of Gogarty's extravagances, or Gogarty's remembrances of the poets; and these would be especially pleasant while a blackbird is singing the same rich lay that he sang by a lake's edge a thousand years ago. A blackbird delighted the hermits of old time, those that were poets, and we are grateful to one for having recorded his pleasure in the bird's song, and for the adjective that defines it, and to Kuno Meyer, who discovered the old Irish poem and translated it.

My garden is an enchantment in the spring, and I sit bewitched by the sunlight and by my idea.

A man of letters goes into a garden with an idea; he and his idea spend happy days under apple-boughs in the sun; he plays with his idea as a mother with her child, chasing it about the lilac-bushes; sometimes the child cries with rage, and the mother cannot pacify her baby, but, however naughty her baby may be, she never wearies; her patience is endless, and the patience of a man of letters is endless too. His idea becomes unmanageable, but he does not weary of it; and then his idea grows up, just like the child, passing from blue smock and sash into knickerbockers, in other words into typewriting, and as every mother looks back upon the days of smocks and sashes, we authors look back upon the days when our ideas were meditated in a garden within hearing of amorous sparrows in the ivy, the soft coo—for it is nearly a coo—of the jackdaw as he passes to some disused chimney where he nests, the shrill of the starling, and the reiterated little rigmarole of the chaffinch. The swallows arrive in Dublin in the middle of May; they fly over my garden in the June evenings, and I continued to think of them coming hither over the sea—like my thoughts, I said. And while listening to the (p. 356) breeze in the apple-boughs, my thoughts drift unconsciously across the centuries to the beginning of Christian literature. It began well, I said, with the Confessions of that most sympathetic of saints, Augustine, who was not all theology, but began his life, and began it well, in free thought and free love; his mistress and his illegitimate child endear him to us, and the music of his prose—those beautiful pages where he and Monica, his mother, stand by a window overlooking the Tiber! We are all spirit while we read the flight of his soul and Monica's Godward, each sentence lifting them a little higher till he and she seem to dissolve before our eyes in white rapture.

I have read that Augustine owed something of the ecstasy of his style to the Alexandrian mystics—and this is not unlikely, for he came from Africa and saw the end of paganism and the beginning of Christianity.... He was Julian's contemporary, a thing which never struck anybody before. Augustine and Julian—how wonderful! Landor should have thought of the learned twain as a subject for dialogue, or Shakespeare might have taken Julian for hero. The ascetic Emperor was a subject for him ... but I am thinking casually. Shakespeare could not have done much with Julian. So perhaps it is well that one day the sudden interruption of his secretary, Ben Jonson, jerked his thoughts away from Julian, leaving the Emperor for Ibsen—two rather clumsy dramas, Emperor and Galilean, containing, however, many splendid scenes. But there was more in Julian than the bleak Norwegian could understand, and Ibsen does little more than follow the bare outline that history gave him, including, of course, the story of the old priest sitting on the steps of a fallen temple with a goose in his lap—the only trace of ancient worship that the Emperor could discover in the countries he passed through while leading his army against the Persians.

Were Gogarty here he would tell me the verses in which Swinburne includes the Emperor's last words; unable to remember them, I loiter, amused by the paraphrase of the lines from the Hymn to Proserpine that the circumstance of the moment had put into my head:

Thou hast conquered, O pale Galileo, the world has moved on since thy death,
We cared hardly tuppence for Leo and on Pius we waste not our breath.

The last line is weak, I said—so weak that I must ask Gogarty to alter it, but I like The world has moved on since thy death.

I should like Ibsen's Julian better if some reason for the Emperor's opposition to Christianity were given; a mere caprice for the ancient divinities is not enough for a philosopher who might have foreseen the (p. 357) Middle Ages. A vision for him would have been a procession of monks, and over against them the lights of the Renaissance beginning among the Tuscan hills. I should like him to have foreseen Borgia. But which would he have liked—Alexander or Caesar? Neither. Their paganism was not at all of the kind that appealed to Julian, and the revival of Christianity with Luther at its head would have shocked him more than the gross materialism into which it had declined. He would have hated the Christian monk who said that every man likes a wife with rosy cheeks and white legs, which is true of every man except Julian, who chose for wife one whose age might be pleaded for his abstinence from her bed. Julian is one of Nature's perversities; none but Nature herself would have thought of setting up an ascetic mystic to oppose Christianity—a real believer, for he prayed at the ancient shrines, looking on the Gods not merely as symbols, like many of his predecessors, but as Divine entities.

But after his death the belief nourished like a grain of mustard seed that the secret of life and death had been discovered in a monastery; and men no longer went to the academies of arts but into the wilderness to interpret the fable according to their temperaments. Christianity was soon split up into sects, all at variance one with the other; texts which could not be explained by common sense were disputed by the theologians, till the founding of a town became less important than the meaning of a text: that one, He knew her not till she had brought forth her first-born Son, was the cause of much perplexity and comment, the opinions of the theologians being divided, many going further than the strict letter of the text, averring that nothing had ever happened under the quilt in Galilee before or after the birth of the Saviour, Joseph being a virgin even as Mary. And battles were fought and many slain because men could not agree about the meaning of the word Filioque. The world went clean mad about the new God just come over from Asia. Gods had been coming for some seven hundred years. The first, or one of the first, was Mithras, and he had obtained a very considerable following; none can say why he failed to capture Europe. He brought the Trinity with him, I think—certainly the sacraments, but he forgot the pathetic story of the Passion. Mark wrote it well, and his excellent narrative turned the scale. Mithras was many hundred years before Jesus, and he was succeeded by —— my scholar would come in useful here. He would furnish me with a list of Gods, whereas the only names that come up in my mind at the moment are Adonis, Cybele, Attis, Isis, Serapis; but there were many more. Christian heresies came like locusts from the desert—Arians, Nestorians, Donatists, Manicheans. A century or a century and a half later the Mohammedans poured out of Arabia, crying, Allah, Allah, all round Persia and Asia Minor, fighting (p. 358) their way along the North of Africa, crossing the Straits into Spain, getting through the Pyrenees and the South of France as far as Tours.

The French seem to have been especially created to save us from Asiatics; they defeated Attila at Châlons two hundred years before; his God would not have plagued us with theology; he was plain Mr Booty. But if it had not been for the defeat of the Arabs at Tours we might all have been Mohammedans, and the question arises whether the succeeding centuries would have been crueller under Allah than they were under Jesus. The Middle Ages were the cruellest of all the centuries, and the most ignorant. It would be difficult to choose between Byzantine mosaics and arabesques; literature disappeared after the death of Augustine. Catholicism claims the cathedrals; the claim is a valid one, and it claims Dante, born in 1265, the great anti-cleric, he, who walks before men's eyes like a figure risen from a medieval tomb pedantic, cruel, unclean, like the Middle Ages, venting his hatred on Popes, Cardinals, Bishops, priests, and on his own countrymen, hating them with the hatred of his own Asiatic God. But Dante is likewise the tremulous lover. There is the poet of the Vita Nuova and the poet of The Divine Comedy. Landor reveals both to us. The first in a love-scene in a garden between Dante and Beatrice. The lovers have wandered from some fête in progress, in the garden itself or in an adjacent house, to some quiet marble seat shaded by myrtles, and in this dialogue we see Dante pale and tremulous with passion, and Beatrice admonishing him with grave eyes and the wisdom of the seraphic doctor whom Dante met in the Paradise. One thinks of Tristan (the second act), when Beatrice begs her lover not to take her hands violently; she recognises him as heir to all eternity, and her own mission to inspire him to write the poem which will outlast all other poems and make them and their love wander for ever among the generations. Not in this dialogue, but in another, Landor sets Petrarch and Boccaccio discoursing on their great contemporary—Petrarch only saw Dante once, Boccaccio never saw him, but they talk about him as a contemporary. Landor does not seek to differentiate between Boccaccio's criticism of Dante and Petrarch's; ideas are impersonal, and every wise remark about Dante might have been uttered by either speaker. But would Petrarch have accepted the statement that less than a twentieth part of The Divine Comedy is good, as representing his own opinions? And would Boccaccio admit that he loved The Divine Comedy merely because it brought him happier dreams? It is Petrarch who says that the filthiness of some passages in The Divine Comedy would disgrace the drunkenest horse-dealer, and that the names of such criminals are recorded by the poet as would be forgotten by the hangman in six months. A little later in the dialogue Boccaccio reminds Petrarch that the scenes from the Inferno, the Purgatorio, and the (p. 359) Paradiso are little more than pictures from the walls of churches turned into verse, and that in several of these we detect the cruelty, the satire, and the indecency of the Middle Ages. Yes, and Boccaccio adds that he does not see the necessity for three verses out of six of the third canto of the Inferno, and he does not hesitate to say that there are passages in which he cannot find his way, and where he suspects the poet could not show it to him. Petrarch answers quickly that Dante not only throws together the most opposite and distant characters, he even makes Jupiter and the Saviour the same person, and in a prose lofty and hallowed the Italian poets continue their ingenious fault-finding page after page, but neither doubts the justice of placing Dante higher than any of the Latin poets.

It is disappointing that I cannot remember to whom to attribute. They have less hair-cloth about them and smell less cloisterly, yet they are only choristers. It sounds more like Boccaccio than Petrarch, and this placing of Dante above the Latin poets endears one to Landor, for he loved the Latin poets and understood them very well. He was the last of the Latinists, and we can imagine Horace reading Landor's Latin verses with a certain appreciation, saying: If he had been born in Italy he might have been amongst us. Horace would relish Landor's wisdom. But is it sure—is it certain that Landor's wisdom would not seem oppressive at times? Wisdom estranges an author from his fellows, and in no writer does the intellect shine more clearly than in Landor. His intellect enabled him to admire all that Dante owed to the Renaissance—and to forget the hair shirt. As well as I remember, neither poet refers to Dante's anti-clericalism; its importance was overlooked by Landor; but Boccaccio and Petrarch would not have overlooked it; either might have approved or disapproved, but one or the other would have mentioned it, and Petrarch might have had qualms for the faith of the next generation; he might have foreseen easily that the anti-clericalism of one generation would be followed by a pagan revival. And this is what happened. Borgia was on the throne, two hundred years later, and a reactionary priest was being told that everybody was prepared to admit in theory that Jesus was an interesting figure, but, for the moment, everybody was anxious to talk about a new torso that had been unearthed. But instead of running to see the Greek God, and contributing to the general enthusiasm by praise of the pectoral muscles, Savonarola gathered a few disciples about him and told the people that a much greater discovery would have been part of the tree on which the Saviour hung. Of course, Borgia did not like signing the order for the burning of Savonarola and his monks, but he could not allow the Renaissance to be stopped, and if he had not intervened, the Renaissance would have stopped at Fra Angelico; Pinturicchio might have been allowed to (p. 360) continue his little religious anecdotes, but Mantegna would have been told that his vases and draperies hark back to the heathen, before Christ was, and as likely as not Botticelli's light-hearted women might have had tears painted into their eyes. The world had had enough of the Middle Ages, and the reaction was a Pope who loved his own daughter Lucretia, and ordered the murder of his own son. Or was it Caesar who planned this murder? A wonderful day it was when he pursued the Pope's chamberlain into the Vatican and stabbed him to death in his father's arms, for such a deed attests, perhaps better than any argument, that men's thoughts had turned definitely from the Kingdom of Heaven. The Kingdom of Earth had been swallowed up in theology for some eight or nine centuries, and it was the genius of the sixteenth century to disinter it, and to make merry in it without giving a thought to the super-man—the silly vanity of a Christian gone wrong. In this re-arisen kingdom were all the arts, sculpture, painting, literature, and music, and with the discovery of America the world seemed indefinitely enlarged. A hint was in the air that the world moved. Borgia sat on the Papal chair; Caesar his son might have succeeded him; and, with the genius of Italy, insurgent since 1265, behind him, it is not unlikely that he would have triumphed where Napoleon failed. Machiavelli tells us that Caesar's plans were well laid and would not have miscarried, had it not been for a certain fatal accident, his eating of the poisoned meats at a banquet which Alexander had prepared for a dozen Cardinals, his enemies. Alexander ate, too, of these meats, and being an old man, succumbed to the poison; Caesar recovered partially and, when he staggered convalescent from his bed, he was told that his father had been a fortnight in the tomb, and that a new Pope, entirely out of sympathy with the Renaissance, had been elected. Caesar had to withdraw from Rome to Neppi, where he nearly died of a second attack—of what? Of Roman fever?—for I do not believe in the story of poisoned meats. The French were on foot for Naples and, having nowhere to lay his head, he begged permission to return to Rome.

My gardener's rake ceased suddenly, and, opening my eyes, I saw him snail-hunting among the long blades of the irises.

It had been raining in the morning; he would get a good many; and my thoughts dropped back into a pleasant meditation regarding the nature of man and our lack of reverence for Caesar, who represented, more than any one who ever lived, the qualities that have enabled men to raise themselves above the lower animals. He was, I remember now, allowed to return to Rome; but no sooner was he there than it became plain to him that it would be useless to reassume the Cardinalate which he had abandoned. He had no chance of being elected to the Papacy, the late Pope having created many new Cardinals, all of whom were (p. 361) determined to oppose him. But Caesar had influence among the Spanish Cardinals, and he promised their votes to Julius in exchange for the office of Standard-Bearer to the Church. Julius agreed, but Caesar was deprived of the office, or perhaps it was never given to him. It seems a pity that Catholic history should be robbed of so picturesque an event as the accession of Caesar to the Papacy, but the next best thing happened: another Renaissance Pope was elected, Julius the Second—a warrior-Pope who entered Mirandola sword in hand, and gave Rome back to the paganism of Michael Angelo, Raphael, Del Sarto, Leonardo da Vinci, and Donatello.

These five great artists lived contemporaneously, and in a city called Florence, at that time not much bigger than Rathmines, every one of them as pagan as Caesar himself in their lives, and as Phidias in their art. Were Tonks here he would at once interrupt me, for he paints anecdotes; and, very anxious to defend his principles, he would say, Explain yourself, and if I know him, he would ask why the art of Michael Angelo is as pagan as that of Phidias. My answer would be that The Last Judgment is not an anecdote, but merely a pretext for drawing, and that Michael Angelo chose it for the same reason as Phidias chose Olympus—because it gave him an opportunity of exhibiting man in all his attributes and perfections. In The Holy Family Raphael discovered a like opportunity; and to make the Fornarina seem more beautiful he placed a child in her arms and another against her knees. Leonardo was not less a pagan than Raphael; it was pagan mysticism that inspired Our Lady of the Rocks and St Anne; and these pictures would certainly have been admired by the Apostate. Thou hast not conquered, Galilean, he would have cried out when he raised his eyes to the great temple that Michael Angelo was building for the glory of a Roman Emperor. He would have believed in Tetzel who went along the road shaking his money-box, crying, As your money falls into my till your soul will jump out of Hell; for he attached great importance to medals and amulets; but on meeting Luther he would have said, Why, this is Christianity over again; St Paul re-arisen. Julian hated St Paul and wrote confuting his doctrines, and he would have written against Luther who, ever since his visit to Rome, had been translating the Scriptures and praying that grace might be given to Rome to regain her lost Christianity—the very Christianity that Julian had striven against in the fourth century, a democratic Christianity, without a hierarchy, without external forms, in the heart, dear to Luther whose teaching was that, since Christ died on the Cross to save our souls, and left a Gospel for our guidance, it may be assumed that he left one that could be comprehended by everybody, otherwise he had died in vain. And everybody wondered why he had not understood before that Christianity is a personal (p. 362) thing given into every man's own keeping, whereby he may save his own soul or lose it. The priest comes between me and Christ, was the universal cry in North Germany; England followed Germany, and the spirit of the Reformation swept through Sweden, Norway, Holland. France, the eldest daughter of the Church, nearly went over to Protestantism, Henry IV declaring that he would become a Catholic for the sake of Paris. The Papacy was in tragic times, two-thirds of Europe had slipped away from her, and to save the third that remained a Council assembled at Trent.

The shell has been cracked, and we are at the kernel of the argument, that hitherto everybody had gone his own way and thought very much as he pleased; but at Trent the Church drew a circle about faith and morals, forbidding speculation on the meaning of life and the conduct of life, and arranging the Catholic's journey from the cradle to the grave as carefully as any tour planned by that excellent firm, Messrs Cook and Sons. He who puts himself in the hands of this firm does not waste time inquiring out the departure and the arrival of trains and steamboats. Edward knows that if he goes to confession his sins will be forgiven him; that if he misses Mass he is guilty of mortal sin; if he loses his temper, of venial sin. If he didn't believe these things he wouldn't be a Catholic. So there we are, and all this is as simple as Columbia's egg, but how strange that nobody should have seen before that Catholicism is an intellectual desert!


In Mayo, almost in my own parish, was fought the most famous battle in Irish legend; from Mayo came Davitt, the Land League, and now a discovery which will re-create Ireland. The shepherds will fight hard, but the sword I found in my garden will prevail against the crozier, and by degrees the parish priest will pass away, like his ancestor the Druid.

I remembered the absurd review The Times published about the Descent of Man, and Matthew Arnold's fine phrase about the difficulty of persuading men to rise out of the unclean straw of their intellectual habits—his very words, no doubt—and his wisest, for the human mind declines if not turned out occasionally; mental, like bodily, cleanliness is a habit; and when Papists have been persuaded to bring up their children Protestants the next generation may cross over to the Agnostic end of the quadrille. My co-religionists will not like to hear me say it, but I will say it all the same: Protestantism is but a stage in the human journey; and man will continue to follow his natural evolution despite the endless solemnity of Wolfgang Goethe, who captured the (p. 363) admiration of all the pundits when he said that it would have been better if Luther had never been born, meaning thereby that Luther saved perishing Christianity. Arnold, who is nearly as pompous as Goethe and more vindictive, saw that man likes to bide like a pig in a sty. But enough of Arnold; I must not lead my readers into thinking that a single striking phrase is sufficient condonation for his very Rugby prose, epitomised in that absurd line about seeing life steadily and seeing it whole, a line that led one generation gaping into the wilderness, John Eglinton heading it.... To John I shall have to go presently, but I shall have to tell AE the great news first. Today is Wednesday, Thursday, Friday—on Saturday night!

And on Saturday night I was out on my doorstep, looking down the street to see if AE were coming, trying to discover his appearance in that of every distant passer-by. He did not come, and dinner dragged itself slowly through its three courses, and vowing that I didn't care a brass farthing whether he came or stayed, I rose up from the table and pitched myself into an armchair. All the same I was glad to hear his knock about nine. He came in sweeping a great mass of hair from his forehead and telling me that he had had to go to Foxrock to meet some man from Germany who had written a book about economics, and, having discussed rural banks all the afternoon, he was ready to talk to me about impressionist painting till midnight, and to read me an article which would have interested me if I had not been already absorbed by my idea.

AE, I've made a discovery that will revolutionise Ireland.

It seemed to me that he should start up from his chair and wave his hands; but he continued smoking his old pipe, looking at me from time to time, till at last there was nothing else for me to do but to throw myself upon his mercy, asking him if it weren't very wonderful that nobody had noticed the fact that dogma and literature are incompatible. He seemed to think that everybody knew that this was so; and is there anything more discouraging than to find one's daring definitions accepted as commonplace truths?

Then, my dear AE, you've been extraordinarily remiss. You should have gone down and preached in Bray, taking for your text, Dogma corrodes the intelligence. You weren't stoned when you preached that—

The Catholics will not admit their intellectual inferiority.

But if the history of the world proves it?

All the same—

When I say no Catholic literature, of course I mean that ninety and five per cent of the world's literature was written by Protestants and Agnostics.

(p. 364) Even so, AE answered, Catholics will continue to bring up their children in a faith that hasn't produced a book worth reading since the Reformation.

Well, what's to be done?

AE was dry, very dry. The German economist seemed to have taken all the sting out of him, and I began to see that in this new adventure he would be of little use to me. Rolleston has read every literature, but he had retired to Wicklow, his family having outgrown the house on Pembroke Road, and it was reported that he now was more interested in sheep than in books. Besides, he is a Protestant, and it would be more enlightening to hear a Catholic on the subject of my great discovery. A Catholic would have to put up some sort of defence, unless, indeed, he entrenched himself in theology, saying that it was no part of the business of Catholicism to consider whether dogma tended to encourage or repress literary activities. To this defence, the true one, I should have no answer.

Gill is my man, I said, as I got out of bed on Monday morning. He was educated at Trinity, and has lived in France. It will no doubt be disagreeable to him to listen to my proofs one after the other, but my business today is not to take Gill out for a pleasant walk, but to find out what defence an educated Catholic can put up.

Hullo, my dear Moore! Gill said, raising his eyes from his writing-table.

I've come to take you for a walk, Gill.

I'll be ready in a few minutes.

And I watched my friend, who closed one eye curiously as he signed his letters, his secretary standing over him, handing them to him, one after the other, and answering questions until one of his lecturers came in, a man called Fletcher. The lecturer and Gill talked away, each answering the other as echoes do down a mountain-side, until at last I had to beg Fletcher to desist, and giving Gill his hat, I persuaded him out of the office down the stairs. Even when we were in the street he was undecided whether we should go along the square, wandering down Grafton street, or whether we should treat ourselves to the Pembroke Road. The hawthorns are in flower and thrushes are singing there. Gill agreed and we tripped along together, Gill yawning in the midst of his enjoyment, as is his wont—delightful little yawns. We yawn like dogs, a sudden gape and all is over; but Gill yawns like a cat, and a cat yawns as he eats, with gourmandise. We can read a cat's yawn in his eyes long before it appears in his jaws. Tom settles himself and waits for the yawn, enjoying it in anticipation. His sensuality is expressed in his yawn; his moustaches go up just like a cat's. His yawn is one of the sights of our town, and is on exhibition constantly at the Abbey Theatre. We do not (p. 365) go to the Abbey Theatre to watch it, but we watch it when we are at the Abbey, and we enjoy it oftener during a bad play than we do during a good one—The Play Boy distracts our attention from it, but when Deirdre is performed his yawns while our tedium away. His yawn is what is most real, most essential in him; it is himself; it inspires him; and out of his yawn wisdom comes. (Does this theory regarding the source of his wisdom conflict with an earlier theory?) He yawns in the middle of his own speeches, oftener, so I am assured, than any one of his auditors. He has been seen yawning in chapel, and it is said that he yawns even in those intimate moments of existence when—but I will not labour the point; we can have no exact knowledge on this subject whether or no Gill yawns when he—we will dismiss all the stories that have collected about these yawns as apocryphal, restricting our account to those yawns that happen—well, in our faces.

Gill and I leaned over Baggot Street Bridge, watching the canal-boat rising up in the lock, the opening of the gates to allow the boat to go through, and the hitching on of the rope to the cross-bar. The browsing-horse, roused by a cry, stuck his toes into the towing-path, and the strain began again all the way to the next lock, the boy flourishing a leafy bough, just pulled from the hedge. We continued our interrupted walk, glad that we had not been born canal-horses, Gill's step as airy as his thoughts, and, as we walked under flowering boughs, he began to talk to me about my volume of peasant stories. I was glad he did, for I had just found another translator, an Irish speaker, a Kerry man, and reckoned on this piece of news to interest him. But as soon as I mentioned that my friend was a Protestant and was going to take Orders, Gill spoke of Soupers, and on my asking him his reason for doing so, he said a man with so Irish a name, and coming from so Catholic a part of the country, could not have come from any but Catholic stock.

It has always seemed to me that if a man may modify his political attitude as Gill had done, the right to modify his spiritual can hardly be denied. But among Catholics the vert is regarded with detestation. With them religion is looked upon as a family inheritance, even more than politics. A damned irreligious lot, I thought, but did not speak my thought, for I wished the subject, dogma or literature, to arise naturally out of the conversation; I did not attempt to guide it, but just dropped a remark that even if the man in question came of Catholic stock and had separated himself from Roman formulas for worldly reasons, it did not seem to me that we should blame him, life being what it is, a tangle of motives. But it is difficult to stint oneself, and I was soon asking Gill for what reason would he have a man change his religion if pecuniary and sexual motives were excluded? No man 'verts for theological, except Newman, I said. Do you know another? And during our walk all the (p. 366) reasons used for 'verting were discussed. A new reason has just occurred to me, Gill—literature.

Rome was always the patron of the arts.

Pagan Rome, yes. Alexander VI saved the world from a revival of the Middle Ages by burning that disagreeable monk, Savonarola; and Julius II saved the Renaissance; but since the Council of Trent Catholics have almost ceased to write.

Gill laughed a little recklessly and contented himself with saying, Yes, it is very extraordinary ... if it be a fact.

But, Gill, why not consider this question in our walk?

I would sooner that the defence of Catholicism were taken by one more capable than myself.

Whom would you care to see undertake the task if not yourself? He spoke of Father Tom Finlay. But it was Father Tom that set me thinking on this very subject, for when I said that Irish Catholics had written very little, he concurred, saying that Maynooth, with all its education, had not produced even a theological work—his very words.

Did he say that? Gill asked, with the interest that all Catholics take in every word that comes from their priests.

But I would sooner hear what you, a layman, have to say.

Flattered by the invitation, Gill's somewhat meagre mind began to put forth long weedy sentences, and from these I gathered that I was possibly right in saying that the Church had defined her doctrines at the Council of Trent, and therefore it might be said that the Catholic mind was less free in the twentieth century than in the Middle Ages.

All the same, the great period of French literature came after the Reformation.

You know French literature as well as I do, Gill, and we'll just run through it. French literature in the sixteenth century is represented by Descartes, Rabelais, and Montaigne, all three Agnostics. In the seventeenth century French literature in the Court of Louis Quatorze, which you look upon as the Golden Age, began with Corneille and Racine, but the tragedies of Corneille and Racine do not attempt any criticism of life and the conduct of life, for their heroes and heroines were not Christians and their ideas could not come under the ban of the Church.


A gentle light suited to weak eyes, but remember always that my contention is not that no Catholic ever wrote a book, but that ninety-five per cent of the world's literature is written by Agnostics and Protestants.


A very elaborate and erudite rhetorician, whom Louis XIV employed to unite all the Protestant sects in one Gallican Church. He set himself (p. 367) to this task, but before it was finished Louis XIV had settled his differences with the Pope.

The beauty of Pascal's writing you will not deny, and his Catholicism—

Is more than doubtful, Gill. The Port Royal School has always been suspected of Protestantism, and you will not deny that Pascal's repudiation of the Sacraments justified the suspicion. Naturellement même cela vous fera croire et vous abêtira. A difficult phrase to translate, Gill; the best that I can do at this moment is, Sacraments help you to believe, but they stupefy you. But you know French as well as I do. Gill protested against my interpretation.

Then why was the phrase suppressed in the Port Royal edition by the Jesuits? Cousin restored it after referring to the original manuscript. Now, in the eighteenth century we have Voltaire, the deist, the arch-mocker, the real briseur de fers; Rousseau, a Protestant, whose writings it is said brought about the French Revolution; Diderot and Montesquieu. The nineteenth century in France was all Agnostic.


You can have him and welcome, for through him we shall escape the danger of proving too much, but—

But what?

I was thinking of his name, which is very like him. Upon my word, Gill, our names are our souls. A most suitable name for the author of Le Génie du Christianisme, a name to be incised on the sepulchre at St Malo among the rocks out at sea, but he ordered that none should be put upon the slab; a name for an ambassador, a diplomatist, a religious reformer, but not one for a poet, an artist; a pompous ridiculous name, a soft, unreal name, a grandiose name, a windly name, a spongy name, spongy as a brioche—Chateaubrioche. And looking into Gill's face I read a gentle distress. His books were a means to an end instead of being an end in themselves. To criticise him in a phrase that he would have appreciated, I might say, Je ne trouve dans ses oeuvres que vapeur et tumulte.

Whatever you may think of his writings, you cannot deny his Catholicism, and one of these days when I'm feeling less tired—

He wrote Le Génie du Christianisme in his mistress's house, reading her a chapter every night before they went to bed. It is true that Catholics must have mistresses, as well as Protestants, but you are an Irish Catholic, and would be loath to admit as much. Chateaubriand was content to regret Atala, but Edward burnt his early poems. Verlaine was a Catholic and he was a great poet, there is no question about that, Gill. You see I am dealing fairly with you, but like Chateaubriand, Verlaine's Catholicism ne l'a nullement gêné dans sa vie. He wrote lovely poems in (p. 368) the French language, some were pious, some were indecent, and he spaced them out in Parallèlement. He did not look upon Catholicism as a means of government, he just liked the Liturgy. Mary and the saints were pleasing to him in stained glass, and when he came out of prison he was repentant and wrote Sagesse. Paul Verlaine! Since the Elizabethan days, was a poet ever dowered with a more beautiful name? And his verses correspond to his name. Où donc est l'âme de Verlaine? A refrain for a ballad! What shall we say? Out of hatred of the Voltairean grocer my old friend Huysmanns plunged into magic. The more ridiculous the miracle the more he believed in it; and the French ecclesiastics would be sorry to have about them many Catholics like him. Upon my word, Gill, my theory that Catholicism hasn't produced a readable book since the Reformation stands on more legs than four.

Some carts were passing at the time, and when the rattle of their wheels died down, I asked Gill what he thought of my discovery, but, detecting or seeming to detect a certain petulance in his voice, I interrupted:

But, Gill, I don't see why the discussion should annoy you. It isn't as if I were asking you to reconsider your position regarding the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, of Transubstantiation and the Pope's Infallibility. So far as I know there is no dogma declaring that Catholics are not intellectually inferior to Protestants and Agnostics. Your religion leaves you quite free to accept my theory; indeed, I think it encourages you to do so, for does not Catholicism always prefer the obedient and the poor in spirit to the courageous, the learned, and the wise? And I spoke of the Imitation of Christ till Gill became so petulant that I thought it would be well to desist, and began to speak instead on one of his favourite subjects—compromise. At once he held forth, disclaiming the ideologues of the French Revolution, who would remake the world according to their idea, without regard to the facts of human nature, and then, as if preoccupied by his intellectual relationship with Machiavelli, Gill entered upon a discussion regarding the duties of a statesman, saying that all great reforms had been effected by compromise, and it was by her genius for compromise that England had built up the Empire; and he continued in this strain until at last it was impossible for me to resist the temptation to ask him to explain to me the difference between trimming and compromise, which he did very well, inflicting defeat upon me. The trimmer, he said, compromises for his own advantage, irrespective of the welfare of the State, but the statesman who compromises is influenced by his sympathy for the needs of humanity, which should not be changed too quickly.

And this, the lag end of our argument, carried us pleasantly back over (p. 369) Baggot Street Bridge, but at the corner of Herbert Street, the street in which Gill lives, I could not resist a Parthian shot.

But, Gill, if compromise be so essential in human affairs, is it not a pity that the Irish haven't followed the example of the English? Especially in religion, I said.

As Gill did not answer me at once I followed him to the door of his house.

It can't be denied that Protestantism is a compromise? This Gill had to admit. But it is not one, I said, that you are likely to accept. He laughed and I returned to Ely Place, pleased by the rickety lodging-house appearance of Baggot Street against the evening sky, and, for the moment forgetful of the incompatibility of dogma and literature, my thoughts melted into a meditation, the subject of which was that the sun sets nowhere so beautifully as it does at the end of Baggot Street.

As the clocks had not yet struck seven, I turned into Stephen's Green and followed the sleek borders of the brimming lake, admiring the willow-trees in their first greenness and their reflections in the tranquil water. The old eighteenth-century brick, the slender balconies and the wide flights of steps seemed conscious that they had fallen into evil days; and horrified at the sight of a shop that had been run up at the corner of the Green, I cried, Other shops will follow it, and this beautiful city of Dublin will become in very few years as garish as London. To keep Dublin it might be well to allow it to slumber in its Catholicism.

And at these words my talk with Gill, which had already become a memory, rose up before me. He isn't a stupid man, I said, but why does his intelligence differ from mine and from the intelligence of every Protestant and Agnostic? We are different. Catholics lack initiative, I suppose that that is it. The Catholic mind loses its edge quickly. Sex sharpens it for a little while, but when the Catholic marries and settles down he very soon becomes like an old carving-knife that carves nothing. The two whetstones are sex and religious discussion, and we must keep passing our intelligences up one and down the other.

The ducks climbed out of the water. And the gulls? There was not one in the air nor on the water; and, after wondering a while if they had returned to the sea, I decided for good and all that I owed the preservation of my own intelligence to my theological interests. Some readers may prefer, or think they prefer, my earlier books, but none will deny that my intelligence has sharpened, whereas Gill's—My cook will grumble if I keep dinner waiting, and I returned to Ely Place to eat, and to meditate on the effect of dogma on literature.

(p. 370) XIII

The great French writers of the nineteenth century were Victor Hugo, Lamartine, Balzac, Gautier, Michelet, Renan, Taine, Sainte-Beuve, Gérard de Nerval, Mérimée, les Goncourts, George Sand, Flaubert, Zola. Maupassant, and all these were Agnostics; Guizot was a Protestant, his historical works have I suppose some value; John Eglinton will tell me about him, and glad of an excuse for a visit to the National Library, I went forth after dinner to talk literature again, arriving in Kildare Street about half past nine, when John Eglinton was writing the last of those mysterious slips of paper, cataloguing, I think he calls it. A visitor is welcome after half past nine, and in the sizzle of electric light we debate till ten. Then he comes back to smoke a cigar with me or I go home with him. He lacks the long, clear vision of AE, but when an idea is brought close to him he appreciates it shrewdly and it is the surety that he will understand, a little later, my idea better than I understand it myself, that makes his first embarrassment so attractive to me.

In the evening I am about to relate I found him a little more short-sighted than usual; his little face wrinkled up as he sought to grasp, to understand my discovery that Catholics had not produced a book worth reading since the Reformation, for John Eglinton only understands his own thoughts, and it is with difficulty that he is rolled out of them.

You mean that all English literature has been produced in the Protestant tradition, but I'm afraid that Protestants will think this is a somewhat too obvious truth. Of course, we all know that Chaucer is the only English Catholic poet—

My dear John Eglinton, you've not understood! A worried look came into his face, and in his desire to understand he seemed like getting cross with me. My belief is that Catholic countries haven't produced a book.

John gasped.

But France?

We went into that question, and were talking of Pascal when the attendant came in to ask John for the keys; it was three minutes to ten.

Shall I ring the bell, sir?

John agreed that the bell might be rung, and we watched the odd mixture of men and women leave their books on the counter and go through the turnstiles. John had to wait till the last left, and the last was a little old gentleman about five feet high who has come to the library every night for the last thirty years to read Dickens and nothing but Dickens. He passed through the turnstile; we followed him; the fireman was consulted; and when all the lights were out John was free to go for (p. 371) a walk with me, and I think it was in Baggot Street that I succeeded in bringing home to him the importance of my discovery.

But Spain? he interjected. Don Quixote?

Spanish literature is contemporaneous with the Council of Trent when the Church defined her dogmas, and—

And Don Quixote is as unethical, he said, as David Copperfield.

Whatever merit Lope de Vega may have had in his day, he has none now; and we discussed for a while the interesting question whether the merits of books are permanent or temporary. Byron's poetry conquered Europe, and today everybody knows it to be doggerel; and in our understanding Calderon's plays are merely rows of little wooden figures moved hither and thither by a mind that seems gracious despite his conviction that the Inquisition was a kind and beneficent institution. All the same Shelley and Goethe admired Calderon; Shelley translated some pages, and John Eglinton agreed with me that these are the only pages of Shelley that we cannot read. He spoke of St Patrick's Purgatory.

It passes beyond perception, and he laughed steadily.

Calderon, in spite of his piety, didn't succeed in avoiding heresy, for in ecclesiastic zeal he seems to have identified himself with Antinomianism. Perhaps he was condemned. You quite understand that my point isn't that a Catholic hasn't written a book since the Reformation, but that ninety and nine per cent, well, ninety and five per cent of the literature of the world has been produced by Protestants and Agnostics.

I see what you mean now, and the dear little man of the puckered face listened on his doorstep to an exhortation to write a little more of that beautiful English which he so wastefully spends in his conversation. He listened, but unwillingly; he does not like my literary exhortations, and I pondered on his future as I walked home. He will sink deeper and deeper into his armchair, and into his own thoughts.

The closing of the public-houses told me that it must be near eleven, and the thought of dear Edward sitting behind his screen, smoking, led me to Leinster Street. The Sword Motive brought the candle-light glimmering down the stairs; the door opened, and two old cronies went upstairs to talk once more of painting and literature—two old cronies who had known each other in boyhood, who had talked all through our lives on the same subjects, Edward feeling things perhaps a little deeper than I have ever done. When the Master Builder has been played he walks from the theatre into the Green, and sits under the hawthorns in some secluded spot, his eyes filled with tears at the memory, as he would say it himself, of so much beauty. Was it Yeats described him as the sketch of a great man—the sketch, he said; l'ébauche better realises his idea of dear Edward; but Yeats does not know French; and while my (p. 372) eyes followed Edward about the room I wondered if it would be wise for me to exchange, were it possible, a wine-glass of intelligence for a rummer of temperament. We have gone through life together, myself charging windmills, Edward holding up his hands in amazement.

More culture and less common sense than the Spanish original, I said, and I watched him moving ponderously about his ungainly room, so like himself. There is something eternal about Edward, an entity come down through the ages, and myself another entity. Reciprocating entities, I said, glancing at some pictures of famous churches. (Edward pins photographic reproductions on the dusty wallpaper.) A beautiful church caught my eye, and, desiring Edward's criticism of it, as one desires an old familiar tune, I asked him if the church were an ancient or a modern one; and, answering that it was one of Pugin's churches, he lifted his glasses up on his nose and peered into the photograph, absorbed for some moments by the beauty which he perceived in it.

The church set us talking of Pugin's genius, and whether the world would ever invent a new form of architecture, or whether the age of architecture was over and done like the Stone and the Bronze Ages. Edward's churchwarden was now drawing famously, his glass of grog was by his side, and the nights in the Temple, when he used to tell me that he would like to write his plays in Irish, rose up before me. All his prejudices are the same, I said, more intense, perhaps; he is a little older, a little more liable to catch cold, and he spoke to me of the necessity of a screen to protect him from the draught coming under the door.

Have a cigar. He pushed the box towards me and continued to smoke his pipe.

Although not a priest, there is something hierarchic about him, and I thought of Ancient Egypt and then of our friendship. It was drawing to a close mysteriously as a long summer evening. We shall not see much of each other at the end of our lives, I said, wondering how the separation was going to come about, not liking to tell him of my great discovery, fearing to pain him.

You're very silent tonight, George, he jerked out, breaking the silence at last. Of what are you thinking?

Of a great discovery—

What, another! I thought you had come to the end of them. Your first was the naturalistic novel, your second impressionistic painting—

My third was your plays, Edward, and the Irish Renaissance which is but a bubble.

Oh, it's only a bubble, is it? he said, his jolly great purple face shaking like a jelly.

You may laugh, I said, but it is no laughing matter for the Catholic (p. 373) Church if it can be shown that no Catholic has written a book since the Reformation. I wish you wouldn't laugh like that.

At the end of the next fit of laughter he bit a piece off the end of his churchwarden, and, getting up from the sofa, he searched for another along the chimney-piece, and, when he had filled it, he said to me, who had been sitting quite silent:

Now, tell me about this new mare's-nest.

I've told you already. There has been no Catholic literature since the Reformation, and very little before it. Boccaccio and Ariosto were pagans, Michael Angelo and Raphael—

But Michael Angelo painted The Last Judgment and Raphael The Holy Family.

We talked for an hour, and, his brain cleaning suddenly, he said: Raphael and Michael Angelo lived in a Catholic country, came of Catholic inheritance, and painted Christian subjects.

You seem to me, Edward, to be satisfied with a very simple inquiry, I might say superficial inquiry, into a matter of great interest and intimately concerned with our movement; for why should we change the language of a country in which literature is forbidden? unless indeed some special indulgences are granted for prayers in Irish. Of course, if so, the Irish Renaissance is but a bubble.

And what about your mission?

Good God! I hadn't thought of that, I said. And getting out of my chair, I walked up and down the room, overcome.

What are you thinking of? Edward asked at the end of a long silence.

Of what am I thinking? Of what you said just now.

What did I say?

You reminded me of my mission. Great God, Edward!

I wish you wouldn't take the Sacred Name in vain.

My life has been sacrificed for a bubble.

But you knew Ireland was a Catholic country.

I was bidden here. If some nun said she had seen a troop of angels and the Virgin Mary, you would believe it all, but when I tell you that on the road to Chelsea—

Seeing that I was profoundly moved, Edward ceased laughing, and began to speak of Newman.

Newman was a convert, I said, and he brought some of the original liberty of the Protestant into his Catholicism; isn't that so?

Edward puffed at his pipe and seemed to think that perhaps the convert was not quite so obedient as the born Catholic.

It's a very serious thing for me, I said, rising. I suppose I must be getting home.

(p. 374) He lit the candle and took me downstairs, and at the grating which guards the tobacconist's door I said:

I haven't examined the question thoroughly. I may discover some Catholic writers. Do you know of any?

Edward said he could not say offhand, and I crossed the tramline, thinking how I had been ensnared, and wondering who was the snarer.


Some volumes of Lingard's History of England were brought down from my grandfather's library about fifty years ago, and Miss Westby had striven to teach me reading and history out of them. Now, Lingard was a Catholic, and Pascal, too, in spite of his many doubts. His thoughts (Les Pensées) were written in the hope that doubts might be reasoned away; it must have been in a moment of irritation that he scribbled that sacraments stupefy the recipient, for in the celebrated dialogue the believer escapes from the dilemma into which the unbeliever is pressing him by offering to make the matter between them the subject of a bet. The Kingdom of Earth is such a poor pleasure-ground that the believer decides to put his money on the Kingdom of Heaven; even if it should prove mythical my plight will not be worse than thine, he says; and if it should out a reality—how much better!

When I was half-way up Merrion Square I caught myself considering the word belief—the vainest word in the language, and the cause of all our misunderstandings, for nobody knows what he believes or disbelieves. We attach ourselves to certain ideas and detach ourselves from others; so runs the world away; and it was by the gateway in Ely Place that I remembered Saint-Simon and La Bruyère, two fine writers, and both of them Catholics. La Fontaine reached literary perfection in his Fables, but he could not have been interested in bird-life, else he would not have written of the reed bending beneath the weight of the wren. The image is charming, but wrens do not live among reeds. Was it the rhyme that lured him—roseau and fardeau? Rhyme never lured Shelley into mistakes about the habits of birds and flowers. But in the seventeenth century there was little love of Nature. However, it is with La Fontaine's Catholicism and not his ornithology that I am concerned. He wrote some improper stories. Fénelon, the author of Télémaque (fie upon it!), was a very poor writer, but he seems to have been an amiable gentleman, and we like to think of him, and hate to think of Bossuet, that detestable man, who persecuted Madame de Genlis and wrote a very artificial style. I cannot think of any other writers, but all the same, the seventeenth century shows up far better than I thought for. The (p. 375) eighteenth is, of course, Agnostic from end to end, unless we count Chateaubriand as an eighteenth-century writer, and we may, for he was born about 1760, and lived a long way into the nineteenth, dying at the end of the 'thirties ... he may have lived right into the 'forties. Montalembert remained a staunch Catholic in spite of the Infallibility, declared about that time; and there were some Abbés who did not write badly, one Lamennais, whose writings got him into trouble with Rome.

English literature is, of course, Protestant—back, belly, and sides. Chaucer was pre-Reformation; Crashaw and Dryden returned to Catholicism; Pope seems to have called himself a Catholic, but his Essay on Man proves him to be an Agnostic. In the beginning of the nineteenth century there were a good many conversions, and some writers should be found among them. Newman! Arthur Symons mentioned him in the Saturday Review as having a style, so I suppose he must have one. I must read his Apologia, for Symons may have taken him on trust. Among the present-day writers are W. S. Lilly and Hilaire Belloc, professional Catholics, always ready to argue that the English decadence began with the suppression of the monasteries. Hilarious regards the sixteenth century as altogether blameworthy, from an artistic point of view, I suppose, for in one of his polemics he declared himself to be no theologian, a strange admission from a professional Catholic, ranking him in my eyes with the veterinary surgeon who admits that he knows nothing about spavins. W. S. Lilly is more thoroughly interpenetrated with Catholic doctrine; his articles in the Fortnightly are harder, weightier, denser; he reads Aquinas every day, and dear Edward looks upon him as an admirable defender of the faith. Of late years the shepherds have taken up novel-writing, hoping, no doubt to beguile their flocks away from the dangerous bowers of the lady-novelists, the beds of rose-leaves, the tiger-skins, and the other lustful displays and temptations. Amiable and educated gentlemen, every one of them, no doubt, but without any faintest literary gift. They would do better to return to their slums, where work suitable to their heads and hands awaits them.

I turned over in bed, and must have dozed a little while, for I suddenly found myself thinking of a tall sallow girl, with brown eyes and a receding chin, who used to show me her poems in manuscript ages ago. I thought them very beautiful at the time, and this early appreciation I need not be ashamed, for the poems have lived a pleasant modest life ever since in a slight volume tediously illustrated, entitled Preludes. Unfortunately these poems preluded nothing but a great deal of Catholic journalism, a Catholic husband who once read me a chaplet of sixty sonnets which he had written to his wife, and a numerous Catholic (p. 376) progeny who have published their love of God in a volume entitled Eyes of Youth, which I might never have seen had not the title been mentioned one day by a friend who, fearing my sacrilegious mind, refused to lend me the book. But moved by a remembrance of Alice Meynell, I sent immediately for a copy.

And it came to me some hours later brought by a messenger, a slim grey volume of poems, with an introduction by G. K. Chesterton, an able journalist, it is true, but that is hardly a reason for asking him to introduce a number of young Catholic writers to Protestant readers unless he has gone over to Rome. He could not have done that without reading the Fathers; and he could not have read them without their influencing his style. It rollicks down Fleet Street as pleasantly as ever, and we are there in the first lines, when he writes that all serious critics class Francis Thompson with Shelley and Keats. A critic may be learned, ignorant, discriminating, dense, subtle, venial, honest, and a hundred other things, but serious seems just the one adjective that Mr Chesterton should have avoided. He must have been thinking with the surface of his brain when he compared Francis Thompson with Shelley; casual thinking always puts wrong words into our heads; a thoughtful critic would have classed Thompson with Crashaw; un fond de Crashaw avec une garniture de Shelley is a definition of Francis Thompson which I put forward, hoping that it may please somebody. Francis Thompson accepted Catholic dogma; it provided him with themes, whereupon he might exercise his art; he wrote for the sake of words, they were his all, and avoided piety, for piety is incompatible with a great wealth of poetic diction. He left piety to his poetic inferiors, to the sisters Meynell, Olivia and Viola, who seem to be drawn to verse-writing because it allows them to speak of Mary's knee, the blood-stained Cross, the Fold, the Shepherd, and the Lamb. They must have deplored Monica Saleeby's Retrospect, for it does not contain a single pious allusion, and welcomed her Rebuke, for in this poem Monica makes amends for her abstinence, and uses up all her sister's pious phrases, and adds to them. (I am assuming that Monica Saleeby was originally a Meynell, for her verse is so distinctly Meynell that one hardly believes it to be an imitation.) The volume concludes with the poems of Francis Meynell; but, though the name of God occurs six times in a poem of four stanzas, I think he lacks the piety of his sisters; he does not produce the word with the admirable unction and sanctimonious grace of Maurice Healy, Ruth Lindsay, and Judith Lytton. Were Judith and Ruth like Monica originally Meynells, or are they merely of the school of Meynell? I have pondered their poems now for nearly an hour without being able to satisfy myself on this point. Francis is a Meynell with a drop of Coventry Patmore, but the drop must have (p. 377) gone crossways in him, as we say in Ireland, for even when writing about the marriage-bed he cannot refrain from pietistic allusion:

For when she dreams, who is beloved,
The ancient miracle stands proved—
Virginity's much motherhood!
For O the unborn babes she keeps,
The unthought glory, lips unwooed.

But I must be thinking of my readers, for not a doubt of it every one of them is saying: We will assume that the ladies go to confession once a week, and the gentlemen once a month. Get on with your story. Tell us, is there any Catholic literature in Scandinavia?

My dear readers, Scandinavia seems to be entirely free from Catholic literature; and, looking from Ibsen and Björnson towards Russia, I am afraid that Turgenev, the most thoughtful of all tale-tellers, must be reckoned as an Agnostic writer, and Tolstoy, for his lack of belief in the Resurrection, would have been denied Christian burial by St Paul. Lermontov was certainly an Agnostic. My dear readers, it seems impossible to discover a Catholic writer of importance in Europe.

A voice cries in my ear, Have you looked into German literature? and I answer back, I know nothing of German literature, but will call upon John Eglinton tonight. But John will only tell me that Goethe and Schiller were Protestants, and that Heine was a Jew. He may mention that the Schlegels turned Catholic in their old age. Perhaps Best will be able to tell me. Best is John's coadjutor in the National Library: a young man with beautiful shining hair and features so fine and delicate that many a young girl must have dreamed of him at her casement window, and would have loved him if he had not been so passionately interested in the in-fixed pronoun—one of the great difficulties of ancient Irish. So I went to Best at the end of the evening (John Eglinton being on duty in the mornings).

Kuno Meyer, he said, will be here at the end of the month, and he'll be able to tell you all that you want to know about German literature.

You are quite right, Best. Meyer is my man; he'll understand at once. Best is Kuno Meyer's favourite lamb and Kuno Meyer is a great German scholar who comes over to Dublin from Liverpool occasionally to shepherd the little flock that browses about this Celtic erudition; and a pressing invitation was sent to him next day, asking him to spend a week or a fortnight with me. An invitation of a fortnight did not strike me as excessive. We had been friends for over a year, ever since the day he had come to a rehearsal of The Tinker and the Fairy, a delightful one-act play that Hyde had written for the entertainment of a Gaelic (p. 378) assembly in my garden. He was prompting Hyde, who was not sure of his words, when I came into the room, and my surprise was great, for it is not usual to meet the Irish language in a light brown overcoat and a large, soft brown hat; beards are uncommon among Gaelic speakers, and long, flowing moustaches unknown. A Gaelic Leaguer's eyes are not clear and quiet, and he does not speak with a smooth even voice; his mind is not a comfortable mind; and by these contraries, in defiance of Aristotle, I am describing Kuno Meyer, the great scholar-artist, the pleasure of whose life it has been to disinter the literature of the ancient Celt, and to translate it so faithfully that when we read we seem to see those early times as in a mirror.

It would be a pleasure to me to write some pages on this subject, and I would write them now if the man did not stand before me as he was when I first saw him, a wreck with rheumatism, looking at me sideways, unable to move his neck, his hands and feet swollen. He must have suffered a good deal of pain, but it never showed itself in his face, and though he was well aware that his disease was progressive ossification, he did not complain of his hardship in being so strangely afflicted. At that time death did not seem to be very far away, but he did not fear death, and I admired his unruffled mind, often reminding me of a calm evening, and thought myself the most fortunate of men when he promised to stay at my house next time he came to Dublin. His intelligence and his learning were a great temptation, and during the long evenings we spent together my constant effort was to get him to talk about himself. But he did not seem very much interested in the subject; he does not see himself as a separate entity; and the facts that dribbled out were that he had come to England when he was seventeen, the first visit not being a long one. He returned, however, two years later, and thought that it had taken him about five years to learn English and to capture the spirit of the language. I seemed to get a better sight of him when he mentioned that he had been private tutor for two years. A studious German, I said to myself, who, when not engaged with his pupils, was preparing himself for a University career. He must have told me how he became a Professor of Romantic Languages at Queen's College, Liverpool, but he could not have made much of the story, else I should have remembered it. I learnt from Best that he was once an excellent cricketer, and though now crippled with rheumatism it was easy to see that he must have looked well on the cricket-field in white flannels and a blue belt, and he must have been a strong man, but never a fast runner, I am sure of that, therefore I place him at point ... and can see him in my imagination, the sleeves of his shirt turned up, revealing a sinewy brown arm.

But the cause of his illness, his affection? The cause may have been (p. 379) the Liverpool climate, or his disease may have been constitutional. Who shall trace the disease back to its source? Not the specialists, certainly; for years they were consulted. What do you eat? said the first. I often eat beef, was Meyer's answer. Beef is poison to you, mutton as much as you like. Meyer did not touch beef again for three months, but the disease continued. He consulted another specialist. What do you eat? Mutton? Mutton is poison to you; beef as much as you like. To be on the safe side Meyer ate neither one nor the other, but, notwithstanding his obedience to the different diets imposed upon him, his disease continued unabated. Another specialist was consulted. What do you drink? Claret? Claret is poison to you; whisky as much as you like. With whisky for his daily drink his disease developed alarmingly; Meyer went abroad; he consulted French and German specialists; some gave him pills, some recommended champagne and Rhine wines; but his disease gained steadily, and at last the doctors contented themselves by advising him to avoid everything that he found disagreed with him, which was the best advice they could have given, for a man is often his own best doctor. Meyer's instincts prompted him to spend some months in a warm climate, and it was while travelling in Portugal that Meyer drank some champagne, feeling very depressed, and during a night of agony it occurred to him that perhaps alcohol was the bane. He determined to give abstinence from alcohol a trial, avoiding it in its every form, even light claret. The disease seemed to stop; and, speaking of his affliction to a fellow-traveller in the train from Lisbon to Oporto, he heard of some baths in Hungary.

You have tried so many remedies that I don't dare to ask you to go there, but if you should ever find yourself in Hungary you might try them.

Meyer went to Hungary, hopeless; but he returned convinced that if he had gone there some years earlier the treatment would have boiled all the stiffness out of his neck and shoulders; he had gone, however, soon enough to rid himself of the greater part of his affection, and to secure himself against any further advances.

He will die like another, but not of ossification, I muttered, as I paced the greensward, looking at every turn through the hawthorn-boughs. Why, there he is! and, banging the wicket, I ran across the street to let him in with my latchkey.

Let me help you off with your overcoat, I said, as soon as we were in the passage. You got my letter? It was kind of you to come over so soon, and my eyes dropped to the papers in his hand.

I've long wanted to come to Dublin.

And for why? I asked sympathetically.

You have always taken a kindly and very appreciative interest in the (p. 380) ancient Irish poems which I have been fortunate enough to discover.

And to translate so exquisitely that you and Lang are our only translators, I said, my eyes going back to the papers in his hand. When did you arrive?

He admitted that he had been a couple of days in Dublin without finding time to come to see me, and I thought of Best, who is always frisking about Meyer, gathering up every scrap of his time, sometimes unjustifiably, as I thought in the present case, for Best knew how necessary Meyer's learning was to me.

And where are you staying? I asked.

As far back as three months ago I promised Best to stay with him, but my visit to Percy Place is now over, and when you are tired of me I'm going to take a lodging at Kingstown, so we shall see a good deal of each other.

You are on the track of something important, I said. Do tell me about it. Have you discovered another Marban—another Liadain and Curithir?

Meyer smiled at my enthusiasm through his long moustache, and told me that he had spent the morning in Trinity College library and had come upon—

Another Nature Poem?

No, but a very curious religious poem. My face clouded. I think it will interest you. It throws a light on the life of those times, for the author, a monk, tells us that he left his monastery, which had become noisy, as he required perfect quiet for the composition of his poem, God's Grandfather.

Whose grandfather?

God's Grandfather; that is the title of the poem.

I never knew God had a grandfather.

Mary had a mother; the Biblical narrative is silent regarding her parentage, but the early Greek writers were known to our author, and he read in Epiphanius that Mary's mother, Anne, had had three husbands—Joachim, Cleophas, and Salomas, and that she had been brought to bed of a daughter by each husband. Each daughter was called Mary, but only one Conception was Immaculate. By an Immaculate Conception he understood a conception outside of common sensuality, brought about by some spiritual longing into which obedience to the will of God entered largely.

How very curious! I wonder if the Meynells would have included the poem in their collection?

Meyer became interested at once, but his interest slackened when he heard that their poems were modern, and a kindly smile began in his gold-brown moustache, and he said:

(p. 381) A long family separating in the afternoon for the composition of pious poems.

Like your hermits, I said; but the Catholicism of the desert is more interesting than the Catholicism of the suburbs. Let's get back to the thirteenth century.

His monastery was too noisy for the composition of God's Grandfather, and he retired into the wilderness to think out the circumstances of Mary's Immaculate Conception. And this is how he imagined it: Joachim, as he was driving his cattle home one evening, met some travellers who wished to purchase a bullock from him. He begged of them to choose an animal; they did so, asking Joachim to name a price. But instead of putting the money agreed upon into his hand the travellers poured several blessings on Joachim and told him to return home as quickly as he could. He was at first loath to go without his money, but the travellers told him he must accept the blessings they had poured over him in lieu of money, and on his asking innocently what he was to do with the blessings, he was told that the use of the blessings would be revealed to him when he reached home. And being a man of faith, he ran with the blessings he had received clasped to his bosom, not stopping till he saw Anne, his wife, who happened to be gathering some brushwood to light the fire for their evening meal, and sure enough, as the travellers had told him, unexpected words were put into his mouth; Anne, put down the sticks thou art gathering, and follow me into the inner room. She did his bidding, as a wife should do, and, as they lay face to face, Joachim showered upon her the blessings that the travellers had given him, and it was these blessings that caused the conception recognised as miraculous by Joachim, and afterwards by the Church.

And you have translated that poem? I asked. He answered that he had made a rough translation of some stanzas, and while he read them to me I marvelled at the realism of early Christianity, and when he had finished reading, I cried: How different from our sloppy modern piety! In the poem you have just read to me, there isn't a single abstract term. Meyer, you are making wonderful literary discoveries, unearthing a buried civilisation. And on these words the conversation dropped. The moment had come for me to tell Meyer that I, too, was making discoveries. His cigar was only half-way through, and it was plain that the suave and lucid mind of Meyer was at my disposal. My argument had been repeated so often that it had become a little trite, and a suspicion intruded upon my mind as I hurried from St Augustine, through Dante, Boccaccio, and Ariosto, that my narrative had grown weary. Or was it that Meyer, being a professor, could not grasp at once that we must choose between literature and dogma? A perplexed look came into his face as I sketched in broad lines the sixteenth-and seventeenth-century (p. 382) literature in France, and as I was about to proceed northward through Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, he asked questions which revealed the professor latent in him; and whilst I sought to persuade him out of his professorial humours, it began to dawn upon me that he would show to better advantage in a debate on the Shakespearean drama, or on the debt that the dramatists of the Restoration owed to Molière. A better subject still for discussion, I continued on a rising temper, would be Mademoiselle de Scudéry, whose festoons and astragals are of course plainly to be descried in the works of Pope and Prior. But I still hoped that Meyer's intelligence would awaken, and so I restrained snarl and sneer, exhibiting myself for at least five minutes as a miracle of patience.

You find that Catholicism draws men's thoughts away from this world, and that Catholic literature lacks healthy realism; but surely literature has nothing to do with theology?

Of course it hasn't, Meyer. But I haven't succeeded in explaining myself, and I must begin it all over again. St Augustine—but perhaps it is not necessary to go over it all again. In the Middle Ages there was no literature, only some legends, and a good deal of theology. Why was this? Because if you plant an acorn in a vase the oak must burst the vase or become dwarfed. I can't put it plainer. Do you understand?

You spoke just now of the intense realism of the Irish poets.

The poem you read me was pre-Reformation.

It seems to me that if one outlet be closed to man's thoughts he will find another, and perhaps in a more concentrated and violent form. Even in Spain, he said, where thought was stifled by such potent organisations as Church and State, we find man expressing himself daringly. Velasquez.

You mean the Venus in the National Gallery—that stupid thing for which the nation paid forty-five thousand pounds; the thighs and the back are very likely by Velasquez, but not the head nor the curtain nor the Cupid. But, Meyer, bums have never been actually condemned by the Church, and for the moment I am not interested in the fact that realistic painting throve in Spain when the Inquisition was most powerful.

Goethe speaks of free spirits, and from that moment Meyer began to rouse himself.

Of course the spirit must be free. And Germany, being divided equally between Catholics and Protestants—

A troubled look came into Meyer's face. I fail to see how your theory can be settled one way or the other by German literature, but if you want me to tell you the names of the great German writers, he answered in his most professorial manner, those that occur to me at the moment are Lessing, Goethe, Schiller, Heine, the Schlegels, Kant, Schelling, (p. 383) Hegel, Schopenhauer, Wagner, Jean Paul Richter, Herder, Lenau, and Nietzsche.

And all these were North German writers? None came from the South. Are there no Catholics among them, not one?

No, he said, none. One of the Schlegels turned Catholic in his old age.

And did he write after he turned Catholic?

No; as well as I remember he wrote nothing afterwards.

Austria is a great country. Has it produced no Catholic writers?

None of any note, Meyer answered. There was—and he mentioned the names of two writers, and as they were unknown to me I asked him to tell me about them. Writers of fairy-tales, he said, of feeble novels—writers of the fifth and sixth and seventh rank. No one outside Austria knows their names.

Then, I said, I'm done for. Meyer raised his eyes.

Done for?

I was led into this country in the hopes of reviving the language. It seemed to me that a new language was required to enwomb a new literature. I am done for. Ireland will not forgo her superstitions for the sake of literature—accursed superstitions that have lowered her in intelligence and made her a slut among nations. All the same it is strange that you fail to see that dogma and literature are incompatible. I suppose the idea is new to you.

We talked for a little while longer, and then Meyer asked me if he might go to the writing-table and continue the translation of his poem. And while listening to his pen moving over the paper it seemed to me that a chance still remained, a small one, for the evidence that Germany offered could hardly be refuted. Justice demanded that a Catholic should be heard, and the Colonel would be able to put up as good a defence as another; and a letter to him began in my head, half a dozen lines, reminding him that he had been away a long time in the country, and asking him to come up to Dublin and spend a few days with me.


When I rushed up to tell him of my discovery he was in breeches and riding-boots, presenting in my drawing-room an incongruous spectacle of sport on a background of impressionist pictures.

You don't mean to tell me that you brought me all the way from Mayo to argue with you about Catholicism and Protestantism, leaving important work?

What work?

Clearing the stone park.

(p. 384) A darker cloud than that I had anticipated appeared in his long, narrow face, and as he seemed very angry I thought it better to listen to his plan for allowing the villagers to cut wood in the stone park. But the temptation to hear him argue that literature and dogma were compatible compelled me to break in.

Do let me tell you; it won't take more than ten minutes for me to state my case. And this is a matter that interests me much more than the stone park. The question must be threshed out.

He protested much, beseeching me to believe that he had neither the learning nor the ability to argue with me.

Father Finlay—

That's what Gill said. But the matter is one that can be decided by anybody of ordinary education; even education isn't necessary, for it must be clear to anybody who will face the question without prejudice that the mind petrifies if a circle be drawn round it, and it can hardly be denied that dogma draws a circle round the mind.

The Colonel was very wroth, and his words were that I lived among Protestants, who were inclined to use me as a stalking-horse.

I came to Ireland, as you know, to help literature, and if I see that dogma and literature are incompatible, I must say so.

At that moment the parlourmaid opened the door and announced dinner.

You'll be late for dinner, Maurice.

If I am, you're to blame, and he rushed upstairs; and as we sat down to dinner he begged me, in French, to drop the subject, Teresa being a Catholic.

I suppose you are afraid she might hear something to cause her to lose her faith, I said as she went out with the soup-tureen.

I think we should respect her principles.

The word inflamed me. Superstitions that were rammed into her.

She returned with the roast chicken, and the question had to be dropped until she returned to the kitchen to fetch an apple dumpling; and we did not really settle down to literature or dogma until coffee was brought in and my cigar was alight.

It's a great pity that you always set yourself in opposition to all received ideas. I was full of hope when you wrote saying you were coming to Ireland. I suppose there's no use asking you not to publish. You will always go your own way.

But if I limit myself to an essay entitled Literature or Dogma—you don't object to that?

No, I don't say I object to it; but I'd rather not have the question raised just now.

I see you don't wish to discuss it.

(p. 385) No, I don't mind discussing it. But I must understand you. Two propositions are involved in your statement—which is the one you wish to put forward? Do you mean that all books, which in your opinion may be classed as literature, contain things that are contrary to Catholic dogma? Or do you mean that no man professing the Catholic faith has written a book which, in your opinion, may be classed as literature since the Reformation?

I put forward both propositions. But my main contention is that the Catholic may not speculate; and the greatest literature has come out of speculation on the value of life. Shakespeare—

There is nothing in Shakespeare contrary to Catholic dogma.

You are very prompt.

Moreover, I deny that England had, at that time, gone over entirely to Protestantism. Italian culture had found its way into England; England had discovered her voice, I might say her language. A Renaissance has nothing in common with Puritanism and there is reason for thinking this. The Brownists? And the Colonel, who is a well-read man, gave me an interesting account of these earliest Puritans.

The larger part of the English people may have been Protestant, he continued, in 1590; but England hadn't entirely gone over to Protestantism. Besides, England's faith has nothing to do with Shakespeare. Nor does anybody know who wrote the plays.

My dear friend, you won't allow me to develop my argument. It matters nothing to me whether you prefer the lord or the mummer. The plays were written, I suppose, by an Englishman; that, at least, will not be denied; and my contention is—No, there is no reason why I should contend, for it is sufficiently obvious that only an Agnostic mind could have woven the fabric of the stories and set the characters one against the other. A sectarian soul would not have been satisfied to exhibit merely the passions.

Will you charge me again with interrupting your argument if I say that I know nothing in Shakespeare that a Catholic might not have written?

Well, I think if I were to take down a volume and read it, I could find a hundred verses. I see your answer trembling on your lips, that you don't require a hundred, but two or three. Very well. A Catholic couldn't have written There is nothing serious in mortality, for he believes the very contrary; nor could a Catholic have written A tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

What reason have you to suppose that Shakespeare was speaking in his own person? It seems to me that by assuming he was doing so, you impugn his art as a dramatist, which is to give appropriate speeches to each of his characters; the writer must never transpire in a drama.

(p. 386) I'm afraid your religious zeal spurs you into dangerous statements, and you are in an entanglement from which you will find it difficult to extricate yourself. Shakespeare weaves a plot and sets will against will, desire against desire, but his plays are suffused by his spirit, and it is always the same spirit breathing, whether he be writing about carls or kings, virgins or lights-o'-love. The passage quoted from Macbeth is an excellent example of the all-pervading personality of the poet, who knew when to forget the temporal character of Macbeth, and to put into the mouth of the cattle-spoiler phrases that seem to us more suited to Hamlet. The poet-philosopher, at once gracious and cynical, wise with the wisdom of the ages, and yet akin to the daily necessity of men's foibles and fashions, is as present in the play of Macbeth as in King Lear; and the same fine Agnostic mind we trace throughout the comedies, and the poems, and the sonnets, smiling at all systems of thought, knowing well that there is none that outlasts a generation.

I cannot see why a Catholic might not have written the phrases you quote. One can only judge these things by one's own conscience, and if I had thought of these verses—

You would have written them? I've always suspected you of being an Agnostic Catholic.

The difference between the Agnostic and the Catholic mind seems to me to be this—we all doubt (to doubt is human), only in the ultimate analysis the Catholic accepts and the Agnostic rejects.

We know that the saints suffered from doubt, but the Agnostic doesn't doubt, though he is often without hope of a survival of his personality. A good case might be made out, metaphysically, if it weren't that most of us are without any earthly personality. Why then a heavenly one? You were once a great admirer of Fitzgerald's Omar Khayyám, and I doubt if you will dare to say to my face that a Catholic could have written the Rubáiyát.

The Colonel was at first inclined to agree with me that there was a great deal that a Catholic could not have written in Fitzgerald's poem; but he soon recovered himself, and began to argue that all that Fitzgerald had done was to contrast ideas, maintaining that the argument was conducted very fairly, and that if the poem were examined it would be difficult to adduce proof from it of the author's Agnosticism.

But we know Fitzgerald was an Agnostic?

You're shifting ground. You started by saying that the poems of Shakespeare and Fitzgerald revealed the Agnosticism of the writers, you now fall back upon contemporary evidence.

I don't think I've shifted my ground at all. If we knew nothing about Fitzgerald's beliefs, there is abundant proof in his writings that he was an Agnostic. You'll have to admit that his opinions on the nothingness (p. 387) of life and the futility of all human effort, whether it strives after pleasure or pain, would read as oddly if introduced into the writings of Augustine and Thomas Aquinas as sympathetic remarks about the Immaculate Conception would read in the world of Mr Swinburne or Professor Huxley. The nothingness of our lives and the length of the sleep out of which we come, and the still greater length of the sleep which will very soon fall upon us, is the spring whence all great poetry flows, and this spring is perforce closed to Catholic writers for ever. Do you know the beautiful stanza in Moschus's Lament for Bion?

Ah me! when the mallows wither in the garden, and the green parsley and the curled tendrils of the anise, on a later day they live again and spring in another year; but we, men, we, the great and mighty, or wise, when once we have died, in the hollow earth we sleep, gone down into silence, a right long and endless and unawakening sleep.

Could these lines have been written by a Catholic?

The Colonel could not see why not.

Because ... but, my dear friend, I won't waste time explaining the obvious. This you'll admit—that no such verses occur in Catholic poems?

As poignant expressions regarding the nothingness of life as any in Moschus, Shakespeare, or Fitzgerald are to be found in the Psalms and Ecclesiastes. Man walketh in a vain shadow and troubleth himself in vain.

The Bible wasn't written by Catholics.

The Colonel had to admit that it wasn't, and after watching and rejoicing in his discomfiture for a while I went on to speak of Shakespeare's contemporaries, declaring them to be robust livers, whose philosophy was to live out their day in love of wine and women, as frequenters of the Mermaid Tavern and of wenches, haters of the Puritan.

You'll not claim Marlowe, I suppose? You'll admit that there was very little Catholic about him except a very Catholic taste for life. You mentioned just now the Brownists; they were overcome, you tell me, for the time being. But Puritanism is an enemy, if it be really one, that I can meet in a friendly spirit. Landor says that Virgil and St Thomas Aquinas could never cordially shake hands; but I dare say I could shake hands with Knox. The Puritan closed the theatres, an act which I won't pretend to sympathise with; but England's dramatic genius had spent itself, and for its intolerance of amusement Puritanism made handsome amends by giving us Milton, and a literature of its own. Of course everything can be argued, and some will argue that Milton's poem was written in spite of Puritan influence; but this I do think, that if ever a religious movement may be said to have brought a literature along with it, (p. 388) Puritanism is that one. As much as any man that ever lived, Milton's whole life was spent in emancipating himself from dogma. In his old age he was a Unitarian.

You've forgotten The Pilgrim's Progress, written out of the very heart of the language, and out of the mind of the nation.

Thank you for reminding me of it. A manly fellow was Bunyan, without clerical unction, and a courage in his heart that nothing could cast down, the glory and symbol of Puritanism for ever and ever.

Puritanism is more inspiring than Protestantism; it is a more original attitude of mind—

The Agnostic mind is the original mind, the mind which we bring into the world.

Milton was a Unitarian, Bunyan a Puritan; where does your Protestantism come in? Who is the great Protestant poet?

I don't limit Protestantism to the Established Church. Protestantism is a stage in human development. But if you want a poet who would shed the last drop of his blood for the Established Church, there is one, Wordsworth, and he is still considered to be a pretty good poet; Coleridge was nearly a divine.

You make a point with Wordsworth, I admit it. He seems, however, to have overstepped the line in his Intimations of Immortality.

But you miss my point somewhat; it is that there is hardly any line of Protestantism to overstep.

I set Newman against—

Against whom? Not against Wordsworth, surely? And if you do, think of the others—shall I enumerate?

It wouldn't be worth while; it is evident that all that is best in England has gone into Agnosticism.

And into Protestantism; confronted by Wordsworth and Coleridge, you can't deny to Protestantism a large share in the shaping of modern poetry. But there isn't a Catholic writer, only a few converts.


But, my dear Colonel, we cannot for one moment compare Newman's mind to Wordsworth's or Coleridge's? To do so I may contend is ridiculous, without laying myself open to a charge of being much addicted to either writer. Wordsworth moralised Nature away, and it is impossible, for me, at least, to forgive him his:

A primrose by a river's brim
A yellow primrose was to him,
And it was nothing more.

That nothing more is a moral stain that no time shall wash away. One (p. 389) would have thought that flowers, especially wild flowers, might be freed from all moral obligations. I am an Objectivist, reared among the Parnassians, an exile from the Nouvelle Athènes, and neither poet has ever unduly attracted me. Three or four beautiful poems more or less in the world are not as important as a new mind, a new way of feeling and seeing. Mere writing—

A theory invented on the spot so as to rid yourself of Newman.

There you are mistaken. Allow me to follow the train of my thoughts, and you will understand me better. And don't lose your head and run away frightened if I dare to say that Newman could not write at all. But you have dislocated my ideas a little. Allow me to continue in my own way, for what I'm saying to you today will be written tomorrow or after, and talking my mind to you is a great help. I'm using you as an audience. Now, we were speaking about Coleridge, and I was saying that the mere fact that a man has written three or four beautiful poems is not enough; my primary interest in a writer being in the mind that he brings into the world; by a mind I mean a new way of feeling and seeing. I think I've said that before, but no harm is done by repeating it.

If you'll allow me to interrupt you once more, I will suggest that Newman brought a new way of feeling and seeing into the world—a new soul.

I suppose he did; a sort of ragged weed which withered on till it was ninety. It is a mistake to speak of him as a convert to Catholicism; he was a born Catholic if ever a man was born one. Were it not for him the term a born Catholic would be a solecism, for at first sight it doesn't seem very easy to understand how a man can be born a Catholic. A man is born blind, or deaf, or dumb, a hunchback, or an idiot, but it's difficult to see how he can be born a Catholic. Yet it is so; Newman proves it. A born Catholic would seem to mean one predisposed to rely upon the help of priests, sacraments, texts, amulets, medals, indulgences; and Newman, you will not deny, brought into the world an inordinate appetite for texts, decrees, councils, and the like; even when he was a Protestant he was always talking about his Bishop. He was disposed from the beginning to seek authority for his every thought. Obedience in spiritual matters is the watchword of the Catholic, and surely Newman was always replete with it. He was a born Catholic; he justified the phrase. My dear Colonel, I'm aware that I'm delivering a little sermon, but to speak to you like this is a great help to me. He seems to have been the least spiritual of men, bereft of all sense of divinity. He seems to have lived his life in ignorance that religion existed before Christianity, that Buddhism preceded it, and that in China—But we need not wander so far afield. Newman was a sectarian, if ever there was one, astride on a rail between Protestantism and Catholicism, timidly (p. 390) letting down one leg, drawing it back, and then letting down the other leg. In the 'sixties men were frightened lest their ancestors might turn out to be monkeys, and a great many ran after Newman clapping their hands in praise of his broken English.

Broken English! interrupted the Colonel.

Yes, broken mutterings about an Edict in the fourth century, and that the world has been going astray ever since. He seems to have really believed that the destiny of nations depended on the chatter of the Fathers, and he totters after them, like an old man in a dark corridor with a tallow dip in his hand. A simple-minded fellow, who meant well, I think; one can see his pale soul through his eyes, and his pale style is on his face. The best that can be said about it is that it is homely. You never saw The Private Secretary, did you?

The Colonel shook his head.

When Mr Spalding came on the stage, saying, I obey my Bishop, I at once thought of Newman, and, though I have no shred of evidence to support my case, I shall always maintain that that amusing comedy was suggested by The Apologia. It seems to have risen out of it, and I can imagine the writer walking up and down his study, his face radiant, seeing Mr Spalding as a human truth, a human objectification of an interest in texts, decrees, and in Bishops. I never thought of it before, but Newman confesses to Mr Spalding's wee sexuality in The Apologia. I have been reading The Apologia this morning, and for the first time. Here it is:

I am obliged to mention, though I do it with great reluctance, another deep imagination, which at this time, the autumn of 1816, took possession of me—there can be no mistake about the fact; viz., that it would be the will of God that I should lead a single life. This anticipation, which has held its ground almost continuously ever since—with the break of a month now and a month then, up to 1829, and, after that date, without any break at all—was more or less connected in my mind with the notion, that my calling in life would require such a sacrifice as celibacy involved.

He is himself in this paragraph, and nothing but himself. Even on a subject in which his whole life concerned he can only write dryly.

And we wrangled for some time over the anticipation which had held its ground almost continuously.

I admit that it isn't very good; but how do you explain that he has always been considered a master of English?

All in good time, my dear Colonel. We are now concerned with Newman's mind; it is the mind that produces the style. Listen to this:

(p. 391) The Catholic Church holds it better for the sun and moon to drop from heaven, for the earth to fall, and for all the many millions on it to die of starvation in extremest agony, as far as temporal affliction goes, than that one soul, I will not say, should be lost, but should commit one single venial sin, should tell one wilful untruth, or should steal one poor farthing without excuse.

This passage, I believe, was read with considerable piety and interest by the age which produced it, and I wonder why it has fallen out of favour; for to sentimentalise is to succeed, and it was really very kind of Newman to sentimentalise over the miseries which our lightest sins cause our Creator. An unfortunate case his is indeed, since the Catholic Church holds that venial sins are committed every moment of the day and night. The Creator torments us after we are dead by putting us into hell, but while we are on earth we give him hell. And our difficulties don't end with the statement that we make the Creator's life a hell for him, for we are told that it would be better that all humanity should perish in extremest agony than that, etc. If that be so, why doesn't the Creator bring humanity to an end? The only possible answer to this question is that the Creator and the Catholic Church are not agreed on the point, and it would be pretentious on my part to offer arbitration. They must settle their differences as best they can. I'm afraid, Colonel, you look at me a little contemptuously, as if you thought my criticism frivolous.

Logically, of course, the Colonel answered—logically, of course, Newman is right.

We wasted at least ten minutes discussing how something that seemed utterly absurd could be said to be logical; and to bring the discussion to an end, I reminded the Colonel that Carlyle had said that Newman's mind was not much greater than that of a half-grown rabbit. Perhaps Carlyle libelled the rabbit; he should have said the brain of a half-grown insect, a blackbeetle.

But, said the Colonel, do you believe the blackbeetle to be less intelligent than the rabbit? In my experience—

I'm inclined to agree with you, but we're wandering from the point. I want to draw your attention to some passages, and to ask you if they are as badly written as they seem to be?

When you say that Newman wrote very badly, do you mean that he wrote in a way which does not commend itself to your taste, or that he wrote incorrectly?

His sentences are frequently incorrect, but I don't lay stress on their occasional incorrectness. An ungrammatical sentence is by no mean incompatible with beauty of style; all the great writers have written ungrammatically; (p. 392) I suppose idiom means ungrammatical phrases made acceptable by usage; dialect is generally ungrammatical; but Newman's slips do not help his style in the least. You're watching me, my dear Colonel, with a smile in your eyes, wondering into what further exaggeration my detestation of Catholicism will carry me.

You have abused Newman enough. Let us get to facts. You say that he writes incorrectly.

The passage in which he deplores the suffering that man causes God convinced me that his mind was but a weed, and, though there was no necessity for my doing so, I said: Let us see how he expresses himself. You will admit that a man of weak intellect cannot write a fine style.

Let us get to the grammatical blunders which you say you have discovered in Newman.

I turned to the first pages and read:

He, emphatically, opened my mind, and taught me to think and to use my reason.

Don't you think, Colonel, that emphatically opened my mind is a queer sentence for a master of English style to write, and that we should search in Carlyle or Landor a long while before we came upon such draggle-tailed English as we read on page 7?

He, emphatically, opened my mind, and taught me to think and to use my reason. After being first noticed by him in 1822, I became very intimate with him in 1825, when I was his Vice-Principal at Alban Hall. I gave up that office in 1826, when I became Tutor of my College, and his hold upon me gradually relaxed. He had done his work towards me or nearly so, when he taught me to see with my own eyes and to walk with my own feet. Not that I had not a good deal to learn from others still, but I influenced them as well as they me, and co-operated rather than merely concurred with them. As to Dr Whately, his mind was too different from mine for us to remain long on one line.

I know folks that is in the vegetable line, and I think I know one chap who should be tuk up for the murder of the King's English if he warn't dead already.

I recollect how dissatisfied he was with an Article of mine in the London Review, which Blanco White, good-humouredly, only called Platonic. When I was diverging from him in opinion (which he did not like), I thought of dedicating my first book to him, in words to the effect that he had not only taught me to think, but to think for myself. He (p. 393) left Oxford in 1831; after that, as far as I can recollect, I never saw him but twice, when he visited the University; once in the street in 1834, once in a room in 1838. From the time that he left, I have always felt a real affection for what I must call his memory; for, at least from the year 1834, he made himself dead to me. He had practically indeed given me up from the time that he became Archbishop in 1831; but in 1834 a correspondence took place between us,

A prize fight takes place; a correspondence begins.

which, though conducted, especially on his side, in a friendly spirit, was the expression of differences of opinion which acted as a final close to our intercourse. My reason told me that it was impossible we could have got on together longer, had he stayed in Oxford; yet I loved him too much to bid him farewell without pain. After a few years had passed, I began to believe that his influence on me in a higher respect than intellectual advance,

He means than that of intellectual advance.

(I will not say through his fault) had not been satisfactory. I believe that he has inserted sharp things in his later works about me. They have not come in my way, and I have not thought it necessary to seek out what would pain me so much in the reading.

The next page consists mainly of quotations from Dr Whately, who apparently is capable of expressing himself, and we pick up Newman farther on.

The case was this: though at that time I had not read Bishop Bull's Defensio nor the Fathers, I was just then very strong for that ante-Nicene view of the Trinitarian doctrine, which some writers, both Catholic and non-Catholic, have accused of wearing a sort of Arian exterior.

I really don't see, said the Colonel, that that sentence is—

Don't trouble to defend it. There is worse to come. But how is it that the writer of such sentences is still spoken about as a master of style? Am I the only man living who has read The Apologia? It is almost impossible to read; that I admit.

It would be against my nature to act otherwise than I do; but besides, (p. 394) it would be to forget the lessons which I gained in the experience of my own history in the past.

One doesn't gain lessons. How shall we amend it?—the experience I gained from the lessons of my own history.

The Bishop has but said that a certain Tract is objectionable, no reason being stated.

Without giving his reasons, the Bishop has only said that a certain Tract is objectionable, is how the editor of the halfpenny paper would probably revise Newman's sentence. And who will say that the revised text is not better than the original?

As I declared on occasion of Tract 90, I claimed, in behalf of who would in the Anglican Church,

Can he mean those who so desired in the Anglican Church? But it would take too long to put this passage right, for it is impossible to know exactly what the greatest master of lucid English meant—

the right of holding with Bramhall a comprecation with the Saints, and the Mass all but Transubstantiation with Andrewes, or with Hooker that Transubstantiation itself is not a point for Churches to part communion upon,

The kind of English that one would rap a boy of twelve over the knuckles for writing!

or with Hammond that a General Council, truly such, never did, never shall err in a matter of faith,

A thousand years of Catholicism is needed to write like this, so perhaps the present Duke of Norfolk is the author of The Apologia.

or with Bull that man had in Paradise, and lost on the fall, a supernatural habit of grace,

The style is the man, a simpleton cleric, especially anxious about his soul; no, I am mistaken—about a Text.

or with Thorndike that penance is a propitiation for post-baptismal sin, (p. 395) or with Pearson that the all-powerful name of Jesus is no otherwise given than in the Catholic Church.

What does he mean by given? In what sense? Does he mean that the name of Jesus is rendu in all churches in the same way? But, then, what exactly does he mean by given?

The Colonel, who writes a letter to a newspaper as well as anybody I know, took the book from my hand, saying:

It is barely credible ... I can write as well as that myself.

A great deal better, I answered, and we continued to look through The Apologia, astonished at the feebleness of the mind behind the words, and at the words themselves.

Like dead leaves, I said.

What surprises me is the lack of distinction, the Colonel murmured.

If the writing were a little worse it would be better, I answered. Am I going too far, my dear Colonel, if I say that The Apologia reads more like a mock at Catholic literature than anything else; and that it would pass for such if we didn't know that it was written in great seriousness of spirit, and read with the same seriousness? No Protestant divine ever wrote so badly. Perhaps Newman—

Haven't you read anything but The Apologia?

No, and there is no reason why I should.

How would you like to be judged by one book?

I have shown my friends the passages I have been quoting, and they think he wrote better when he was a Protestant.

I see your article on Newman from end to end. That Newman was a great writer until he became a Catholic is a pretty paradox which will suit your style. You will be able to discover passages in his Protestant sermons better written, no doubt, than the passages you select from The Apologia. The Colonel lit his candle, and I could hear him laughing good-humouredly as he went upstairs to bed.

It is dangerous to name a quality, I said to him next morning at breakfast, whereby we may recognise a great writer, for as soon as we have done so somebody names somebody whom we must confess deficient in the quality mentioned. The perils of definition are numerous, but most people will agree with me that all great writers have possessed an extraordinary gift of creating images, and if that be so, Newman cannot be called a writer. We search vainly in the barren, sandy tract of The Apologia for one, finding only dead phrases, very often used so incorrectly that it is difficult to tell what he is driving at; driving at is just the kind of worn-out phrase he would use without a scruple.

You are judging Newman by The Apologia.

I admit I haven't read any other book. But dear Edward once invited (p. 396) me to look into—I have forgotten the title, but I remember the sentence that caught my eye—Heresy stalks the land, and you will agree with me that it is hardly an exaggeration to say that the average reporter would be ashamed to write the words ... unless he were in a very great hurry.

Newman wrote The Apologia in a great hurry.

However great your hurry, you couldn't, nor could any of the friends who came here on Saturday night, write as badly, and unless we hold that to be always thin and colourless is a style—

You've a good case against him, but I'm afraid you'll spoil it by overstatement.

My concern is neither to overstate nor to understate, but to follow my own mind, faithfully, tracing its every turn. An idea has been running in my head that books lose and gain qualities in the course of time, and I have worried over it a good deal, for what seemed to be a paradox I felt to be a truth. Our fathers were not so foolish as they appear to us to be in their admiration of Lara, The Corsair, The Bride of Abydos, The Giaour; they breathed into the clay and vivified it, and when weary of romance they wandered into theology, and were lured by a mirage, seeing groves of palm-trees, flowers, and a bubbling rill, where in truth there was nothing but rocks and sand and a puddle. And while Byron and Newman turn to dust Shakespeare is becoming eternal.

There are degrees, then, in immortality?

Of course. The longer the immortality the more perfect it becomes, Time putting a patina upon the bronze and the marble and wood, and I think upon texts; you never will persuade me that the text that we read is the text read in 1623.

The Colonel raised his sad eyes from The Apologia into which they had been plunged.

I'll admit that we never seem to get any further in metaphysics than Bishop Berkeley. I see, he said a few minutes later, that Newman has written a preface for this new and insufficiently revised edition. Have you read it?

No, but I shall be glad to listen if you'll read it to me after breakfast.

As soon as he had finished his eggs and bacon, the Colonel fixed his glasses a little higher on his nose, and it was not long before we began to feel that our tasks were hard, one as hard as the other, and when the last sentence was pronounced, the Colonel, despite his reluctance to decry anything Catholic, was forced to admit a lack of focus in the composition.

He wanders from one subject to another, never finishing.

Excellent criticism! What you say is in agreement with Stevenson, who told an interviewer that if a man can group his ideas he is a good writer, though the words in which he expresses himself be tasteless, and (p. 397) as you say, Newman, before he has finished with his third section, returns to his first; from the fifth he returns to the fourth, and in the sixth section we find some points that should have been included in the second.

The Colonel did not answer; and feeling that I owed something to my guest, I said:

The last time you were here you mentioned that you hoped to be able to get one of the gateways from Newbrook.

The Colonel brightened up at once, and told me that he was only just in time, for the stones were about to be utilised by the peasants for the building of pigsties and cottages. But he had followed them in his gig through the country, and had brought them all to Moore Hall, and was now only waiting for me to decide whether I would like the gateway built in a half-circle or in a straight line. The saw-mill he hoped to get into working order very soon.

It will be of great use for cutting up the timber that we shall get out of the stone park.

Isn't it in working order?

With emphasis and interest the Colonel began to relate the accident the saw-mill had met with on the way from Ballinrobe; as it was entering the farmyard one of the horses had shied, bringing the boiler right up against a stone pillar, starting some of the rivets. A dark cloud came into his face, and I learnt from him that he had very foolishly given heed to the smith at Ballinrobe, a braggart who had sworn he could rivet a boiler with any man in Ireland; but when it came to the point he could do nothing. The Castlebar smith, a very clever man, had not succeeded any better, but there was a smith at Cong—

A real Cuchulain.

The story, I admit, is assuming all the proportions of an epic, the Colonel replied joyously, and I allowed him to tell me the whole of it, listening to it with half my brain, while with the other half I considered the height of the Colonel's skull and its narrowness across the temples.

A refined head, I said to myself, and it seemed to me that I had seen, at some time or other, the same pinched skull in certain portraits of ecclesiastics by Bellini and the School of Bellini: but not the Colonel's vague, inconclusive eyes, I added. Italy has always retained a great deal of her ancient paganism; but Catholicism absorbed Spain and Ireland. It is into Spanish painting that we must look for the Colonel, and we find most of him in Velasquez, a somewhat icy painter who, however, relished and stated with great skill the Colonel's high-pitched nose, the drawing of the small nostrils, the hard, grizzled moustache. He painted the true Catholic in all his portraits of Philip, never failing to catch the faded, empty look that is so essentially a part of the Catholic face. Our ideas mould a likeness quickly if Nature supplies certain proportions, (p. 398) and the Colonel—when he fattens out a little, which he sometimes does, and when his mind is away—reminds me of the dead King. Of course, there are dissimilarities. Kingship creates formalities, and the Spanish Court must have robbed Philip of all sense of humour, or buried it very deeply in his breast, for it is recorded that he was so pleased on one occasion with the splendid fight that a bull put up against the picadors, that he did not deem any swordsman in Spain worthy of the honour of killing him; the bull had earned his death from the highest hand in the land, and arming himself with an arquebuse or caliver, he walked across the arena and shot the bull with his own kingly hand. He must have walked towards the bull with a kingly stride—a sloven stride and a kingly act would be incompatible—he must have walked as if to music; but the Colonel has little or no ear for music, and his walk is, for this reason or another, the very opposite to Philip's. He slouches from side to side, a curious gait, the reader will say, for a soldier of thirty years, but very like himself, and therefore one likes to see it, and to see him preparing for it, hustling himself into his old yellow overcoat in the passage. He never carries a stick or umbrella; he slouches along, his hands dangling ugly out of the ends of the cuffs. To what business he is going I often wonder as I stand at the window watching him, remembering all the while how he had lain back in his armchair after breakfast, reading a book, his subconsciousness suggesting to him many different errands, and at last detaching him from his book or his manuscript, for the Colonel has always meditated a literary career for himself as soon as he was free from the army.

There are people of today, tomorrow, and yesterday; and the Colonel is much more of yesterday than of today. If he does not defend the Inquisition directly, he does so indirectly—all religions have persecuted, for it is the nature of man to persecute, and he is unable to understand that Protestantism and Rationalism together redeemed the world from the disgrace of the Middle Ages. His ideas clank like chains about him, but not to the ordinary ear, for the Colonel is reserved by nature; only a fine ear can hear the clanks. Balzac would never have thought of the Colonel for a modern story, but would have placed him—I have sufficient confidence in Balzac's genius to believe that he would have placed him in a Spanish setting; for the Colonel's mind is so archaic that his clothes distress even me. I am not good at clothes, but I am sure it is because his natural garment, the doublet, is forbidden him that he dresses himself in dim grey hues or in pepper-and-salt. He has never been seen in checks or fancy waistcoats, or in a bright-coloured tie. He goes, however, willingly into breeches; at Moore Hall he is never out of breeches; breeches remind him of his racing and hunting days, besides being convenient. So far can his country gear be explained, but why he (p. 399) sometimes comes up to Dublin in breeches, presenting, as I have said, an incongruous spectacle of sport in my drawing-room on a background of impressionist pictures, I am unable to offer any opinion.


A telegram, sir.

Will you please to get the Colonel's room ready, and tell him, when he arrives, that I shall not be free for a couple of hours? I'm busy with The Lake. And about half past four I went down to the dining-room and found him in an armchair surrounded by books: Imaginary Portraits, Evelyn Innes, Wild Wales, and a book of Irish Folk Tales, and he was reading Strauss's Life of Jesus.

He makes some very good points, he said, and I encouraged him to continue in his appreciation of Strauss's skill as a dialectician; but on pressing him to say that the book was influencing him, he said that his mind had been made up long ago.

Then you are merely reading languidly, without taking sides; a cricket-match seen from the windows of a railway train—that's about all. To read without drawing conclusions is fatal. We have known men and women in our youth who could neither read nor write, but who were clever at their trades, far cleverer than those who have come after them. Mahomet could neither read nor write. Forcible education is one of the follies of the century, I continued. We are agreed in that, for how can you educate forcibly? Education demands a certain acquiescence.

Tea was brought in, and the Colonel said he had come up for a meeting of the Coisde Gnotha, and must go back on Saturday.

On Saturday!

I must get back to look after the men.

Your sawyers? I suppose Paddy Walshe wants some rafters for his barn?

No, there's the garden. Kavanagh is a splendid vegetable grower, but he doesn't understand the fruit-trees. I have to look after them myself. The meeting begins at eight. Would you mind if we were to dine at seven or a little before?

It was irritating to be asked to change the hour of dinner for the sake of so futile a thing as a meeting of the Coisde Gnotha, and though I replied, Of course, I could not refrain from adding: In fifty years' time no one will speak Irish unless you procure a parrot and teach her. Parrots live a long while; an Irish-speaking Polly in a hundred years' time! what do you think, Maurice? And about that time Christianity will be extinct.

The Colonel laughed good-humouredly, he hustled himself into his (p. 400) old yellow overcoat, and went away leaving me disconcerted, irritated against him, and still more against myself, for it was impossible not to feel that I was abominably unsympathetic to other people's ideas. But am I? Only when phantoms are cherished because they are phantoms. We are all liable to mistake the phantom for reality. I followed the Irish language for a while, but as soon as I discovered my mistake I retraced my steps. Not so the Colonel. He knows at the bottom of his heart that the Irish language cannot be revived, that it would take two hundred years to revive it, and that even if it were revived nothing would come of it unless Ireland dropped Catholicism.

The lamp burned brightly on the table, and, rising from the armchair to light a cigar, I caught sight of my face and wondered at my anger against my brother, a sort of incoherent, interior rumbling, expressing itself in single words and fragments of sentences. An evil self seemed to be stirring within me; or was it that part of our nature which lurks in a distant corner of our being and sometimes breaks its chain and overpowers the normal self which we are pleased to regard as our true self? Every one has experienced the sensation of spiritual forces at war within himself, but does any one ever suspect that the abnormal self which has come up to the surface and is influencing him may be influencing him for his good; at all events, for some purpose other than the generally received one—the desire to lead poor human nature into temptation? The Christian idea of horns and hooves and tail has been rammed into us so thoroughly that we seldom cease to be Christians; but I must have nearly ceased to be one in the evening I am describing, for I seemed to be aware all the while that there was good purpose behind my anger at my brother's untidy mind. I was not certain what adjective to apply to it—untidy, unfinished, or prejudiced.

He reads Strauss's Life of Jesus, admitting that no proofs, however conclusive, would persuade him that the son of Mary and Joseph was anything else but the Son of God. Christ never said that he was, and I suppose he knew. Even St Paul never spoke of him as God. How precisely I can see that brother of mine, I cried, surprised myself at the clearness with which I remembered the long, pear-shaped head with some fine lines in it; but too narrow at the temples, I muttered, and the eyes are vague and lacking in the light of any great spiritual conviction, and they tell the truth, for has he not admitted to me that substantially the host does not change, and the rest is merely whatever philosophical idea you like to attach to it? Worse still, he has said that the Decrees the Pope issues affecting excommunication do not interest him in the least, and this proves him to be a heretic, a Modernist. He always eats meat on Friday; of course he may have obtained a dispensation to eat the chicken as well as the egg, but I am not at all sure that he acquiesces (p. 401) in priestly rule enough to apply for a dispensation; and I began to wonder how long it was since his last confession. When the Bishop questioned the parish priest on the subject, the Colonel was very angry, and said it was hitting below the belt. He did not go to Mass when he came to see me in Dublin until I reproached him for neglect of his duties, and then he never failed afterwards to step away to Westland Row, his white hair blowing over the collar of the old yellow overcoat—never failed while I was in the house, but when I left it he remained in bed, so I have been told. He may have been ill, but I don't believe it. There has always been a vein of humbug in the depths of his deeply affectionate nature; when he was a little child of four or five he was caught with his fingers in a jam-pot, but instead of saying, I took the jam because I liked it, he fled to his mother and flung himself into her arms, begging of her not to believe the nurse, crying, I am your own innocent yam (lamb).

The Colonel's key in the lock interrupted my thoughts, and there he was before me, overflowing with anecdote, his hilarity as unpleasing as it was surprising; high spirits sit ill upon the constitutionally sad, and the humorous sententious are very trying at times. His chatter about the doings of the League seemed endless, and I felt that I could not abide that family attitude into which he at once fell: the hand held in front of the fire, the elbow resting on the knee. The Colonel had fattened in the face since his last visit. Everybody should cultivate a kindly patience, imitating AE, who, while going his way, can watch others going theirs without seeming invidious or disdainful. But AE was born with a beautiful mind, and can pass a criticism on a copy of bad verses, and send the poet home unwounded in his self-respect. He will never change. He knows himself to be immortal, and is content to overlook or claim my periodical aggressiveness, as part of my character. But not being as wise as AE, I would alter myself if I could. How often have I tried! In vain, in vain! We are what we are, for better or worse, and there are no stepping stones ... except in bad verses. Enough of myself and back to the Colonel.

He was telling me how one orator's loquacity had driven his supporters out of the room, and when the amendment was put there was nobody to support it. The incident amused me for a moment, and then a sudden sense of the triviality of the proceedings boiled up in my mind.

Of course, I said, the amendment you speak of was invaluable, and its loss a great blow to the movement. But tell me, do you propose to spend the rest of your life coming up from Mayo to listen to these fellows chattering about the best means of reviving a language which the few who can speak it are ashamed to speak, or have fallen out of the habit of speaking, like Alec McDonnell and his wife?

(p. 402) I have never denied that the difficulties are very great.

But of what use would the language be to anybody if it could be revived? Prayers, I have often said, are equally valuable in whatever language they may be said.

The Colonel smiled a little contemptuously, and his smile irritated me still further.

As I have said a thousand times, unless Ireland ceases to be Catholic—

That question has been gone into.

Gone into; but you've never been able to explain why there is so little Catholic literature. It must be clear to everybody that dogma draws a circle round the mind; within this circle you may think, but outside of it your thoughts may not stray. An acorn planted in a pot—

Even if what you say be true, it seems to me that the small languages should be preserved. You were in favour of the movement till—

There's no using going over the whole argument again. You've tried to bring up your children Irish speakers, and have failed.

The Colonel laughed, for he could not deny that he had failed in this respect.

They must have professions.

You would like other people to sacrifice their children's chances of life for the sake of the Irish language, but you are not prepared to go as far as you would like others to go. You will only go half-way.

How is that?

You bring them up Catholics. The younger is in a convent school, and the elder is now with the Jesuits. I don't think that our father would have approved of the narrow, bigoted education which they are receiving.

I cannot see why. He never disapproved of the religious orders.

You must feel that the atmosphere of a convent isn't manly, and will rob the mind of something, warp or bias it in a direction—

Of which you don't approve?

It seems to me that the mind of the child should be allowed to grow up more naturally.

You can't let a boy grow up naturally. He must be brought up in some theory of what is right and what is wrong. Now, I ask why my children should be taught your right and wrong rather than mine?

I admit that they must be taught something.

Once you admit that, it seems to me that the parent is the proper person.

It all depends on what you mean by teaching. The Jesuit says: Give me the boy till he is fourteen and I don't care who gets him after. And his words mean that the mind shall be so crushed that he will for ever remain dependent. I don't know if you remember a story ... our mother (p. 403) used to tell of a beggar woman who went about Ireland with four or five blind children, their eyes resembling the eyes of those who are born blind so closely that every oculist was deceived. But one day a child's crying attracted attention, but it was discovered that the mother had tied walnut-shells over his eyes, and in each shell was a beetle; the scratching of the beetle on the eyeball produced the appearance of natural blindness—an ingenious method, part, no doubt, of the common folklore of Europe, come down to us from the Middle Ages when the Courts of Kings had to be kept supplied with dwarfs, eunuchs, buffoons; amusing disfigurements were the fashion, and high prices were paid for them. We are too sensitive to hear even how a permanent leer may be put on a child's face, but we are very much interested in the crushing, I should say the moulding, of children's minds, and all over Europe the Jesuits are busy preparing monstrosities for the Courts of Heaven.

My dear George, St Francis of Assisi and St Teresa, whom you admire so much, were prepared for Heaven in the Catholic religion, and there are others. St John of the Cross is one to whom I am sure you will graciously extend your admiration.

To them, certainly, much rather than to the inevitable Aquinas; but those you mention belong to the Middle Ages.

Not St Teresa.

The Middle Ages existed in Spain long after St Teresa, for the burning of heretics went on till the end of the eighteenth century. Religions! The world is littered with religions; they grow, flourish, and die, and if you can't see that Christianity is dying—

The Colonel spoke of revivals.

After each revival, I said, it grows fainter, and would be dead long ago if it hadn't been that children are taken young and their minds crushed. The Jesuits have admitted that that is so. Give me the child, they cry.

Toby has learnt nothing from the nuns except a shocking accent, and Rory is learning very little, and dislikes the Jesuits. I'm thinking of sending him to the Benedictines.

Monks or priests, it's all the same. You know how worthless the education was which we received at Oscott.

There was none. I admit that priests don't seem to be very good educationalists.

Then why have your sons educated by priests? Priests are in all the Catholic schools, but there are excellent Protestant schools—

And bring them up Protestants?

Why not?

You, an Agnostic!

(p. 404) Protestantism is harmless, as I have often pointed out to you. It leaves the mind free, or very nearly.

I can understand that you, who seem constitutionally incapable of seeing anything in life but art, should prefer Agnosticism, but I don't understand your proposing a Christian dogma for my children that you yourself don't believe in.

Don't you? Would you like to hear?

Very much.

I'll give you three excellent reasons. I look upon Protestantism as a sort of safeguard—

A sort of vaccine?

Just so. If the Agnostic catches the smallpox he generally catches it in an acute form; and ninety-five per cent remain in the religion they are brought up in. Isn't that so?

Well, let us hear your second reason.

Protestantism supplies a book out of which the child can learn. I think it is John Eglinton who says in one of his essays that, however beautifully a book may be written, it will not be read by the multitude for the sake of its style. Shakespeare is read in England, for England produced Shakespeare; and the Bible is read in England, for the Bible produced Protestantism. And Protestantism produced the Irish Bible, the one beautiful book you have. Catholics are forbidden to read it.

A stupid prohibition, for the difference between the Catholic and the Protestant version is so slight that not one reader in ten thousand would be able to trace it.

Yes, isn't it stupid? But what is to be done? I can think of nothing—can you? We learnt no English at Oscott; any English I know I learnt in Sussex out of the Prayer-book, and gossiping with the labourers, bailiffs, and especially with gamekeepers; gamekeepers speak the best English. I can't tell why, but it is so.

A new reason for preserving the game laws. A sally at which we both laughed.

But I was going to give you a third reason for my preference for Protestantism. Protestantism engenders religious discussion. You'll admit that?

Indeed I will, and can imagine nothing more useless or tedious.

Useless it may be for the Catholic, who goes from the cradle to the grave with every point of interest settled for him. How, then, can Catholics be intelligent? We know they're not. But what is much more interesting is the fact that they know themselves they are not intelligent. They admit it freely. At dinner the other day I met a Catholic and spoke to him on this subject. He answered me that the Catholic religion (p. 405) absorbs a man's mind so completely that no energy is left for literary activities, only enough for the practical business of life.

I hate Catholics who speak like that. They're worse than Protestants. There are Uriah Heeps, I admit, and plenty of them, in our Church.

Servant-maids and working-folk are quite free from hypocrisy, and often I've heard them say, It's strange we don't get on as well as Protestants. Once I heard a beggar in Galway saying, There must be something in Protestants since they get on so well in the world. A wiser man than you, my dear friend, or shall I say a less prejudiced one? You remember I told you there was no Catholic literature when you were last in Dublin, but I only half stated my case; the discussion wandered into an argument about Newman.

And what have you discovered since then?

That Russian literature is against you, Scandinavian, too, and, worst of all, North and South America.

The mention of North and South America roused the Colonel, and he did not hesitate to say that it always astonished him that North America had produced so little literature.

I believe that South America can show some records of missionary work done among the Indians.

The Colonel replied that South America was colonised much later than North America—an answer which angered me, for I knew that the Colonel was relying on my ignorance of history.

The first colonisations were made in Peru and Brazil, you know that very well. But what can it profit you to insist that Catholics have written books since the Reformation? What can it profit you to deny facts? Of course there is a book or two—one per cent, two per cent of the world's literature—but if you were to tell me that there is no negro literature, you would think me very stupid if I were to answer, Yes, there is. I can produce a good many songs from Hayti, and I once knew a negro who had written a novel. Catholic literature has declined steadily since the Reformation, and today it is one degree better than Sambo.

No sooner had the words passed my lips than I saw I had, as the phrase goes, given myself away, for the negroes are nearly all Methodists or Wesleyans, and I mentioned the fact to the Colonel, feeling sure that if I did not do so he would mention it himself, but he refused to accept my suggestion, saying that he had once believed that religion was race and climate, but he thought so no longer. He has sunk deeper into Catholicism than I thought, for he believes now in a universal truth; for him there is no hope, but I cannot allow his children to perish without saying a word in their favour, and I spoke of Rory and Toby again.

My children will have as good a chance of making their way as I have had. I was brought up a Catholic.

(p. 406) Why shouldn't your children have a better chance?

The only way, said the impassible Colonel, that children may be educated is either by abolishing religious education in the schools, and nobody is in favour of that, or by sending them to schools in which they will be taught the religion of their parents.

But what you call bringing up children in the religion of their parents is estranging them from every other influence, until they become incapable of thinking for themselves. Give me the child till he's fourteen, and I don't care who gets him afterwards. There is no question of religious truth; there is no such thing, we know that; what concerns me is that your truth is being forced upon your boys to the exclusion of every other. You keep them from me lest they should hear mine.

I hope you will never say anything in the presence of my children that would be likely to destroy their faith. I rely on your honour.

It is no part of my honour to withhold the truth, or what I believe to be the truth, from any human being. The fact that you happen to be their father doesn't give you the right over their minds to deform and mutilate them as you please, any more than it gives you the right to mutilate their bodies. Gelding and splaying—You don't claim such rights, do you?

And do you claim the right to seek my children out and destroy their faith?

Can you define the difference between faith and superstition? The right I claim is that of every human being, to speak what he believes to be the truth to whomever he may meet on his way. Brotherhood doesn't forfeit me that right.

Then I am to understand that you will seek my children out?

Seek them out, no. But do you keep them out of my way. But, if you think like this, you'd have done better not to have married a Protestant. I suppose your children believe their mother will go to hell; and if you love Ireland as well as you profess to, why did you go into the English army?

It's impossible for me to continue this argument any longer, your intention being to say what you think will wound me most. What you have just said I know to have been said with a view to wounding my feelings.

No, but to express my mind. So they're not to get a chance? Well, it's a shame. Why shouldn't their mother have as much voice as you have in their education? Why shouldn't I have a voice?

In the education of my children!

We haven't an idea in common. We are as much separated as though we came from the ends of the earth; yet we were brought up together in the same house, we learnt the same lessons.

(p. 407) The Colonel walked out of the room suddenly, and I heard him take his hat from the table in the hall and go out of the house. The door closed behind him, and I sat in the silence, alarmed by his sudden departure. It seemed to me that I could see him walking, hardly conscious of the street he was passing through, absorbed by the horrible quarrel that had been thrust upon us, a quarrel that might never.... And I began to quake at the thought that we might never be friends again.

The argument had been conducted in quite a friendly spirit, here and there a little heated, but no more, till words had been put into my mouth that wounded him to the quick, sending him out of the house. He would come back, and forgive me, no doubt. But was it sure that he would? And even if he did, the quarrel would begin again the next time we met; the discussion had never ceased since the day he had unsuspectingly come up from Mayo to argue against me that literature and dogma are not incompatible. No matter what the subject of our conversation might be, it drifted sooner or later into religious argument, into something about Protestants and Catholics, and a moment after we were angry, hostile, alienated. Since boyhood our lives had been lived apart, but we had been united by mutual love and remembrances, and as the years went by we had begun to dream that the end of our lives should be lived out together. He had written from South Africa that there was no one he would care to live with as much as with me, and no words that I can call upon can tell the eagerness with which I awaited his return from the Boer War. He was coming home on six months' leave; and three of these he spent with me in Ely Place—delightful months in which we seemed to realise the dearest wishes of our hearts. Our common love of Ireland brought us closer together than we had hoped was possible ... and then? Bitterness, strife, disunion. He had been an idol in my eyes, and my idol lay broken in pieces about me—broken, and by whom? God knows; not by me ... I swear it. That he would not write a book about camp-life in South Africa was a disappointment to me; his dilatoriness in getting grandfather's manuscript in order was another; and now his sticking to Catholicism, despite the proofs that I had laid before him of its inherent illiteracy, had estranged us completely.

An endless whirl of thoughts, and a sudden pause on a recollection of the words I had used: If you hate Protestantism, why did you marry a Protestant? There could be no great harm in saying that. A man who has been married for fifteen years generally knows his wife's religion. Nor in the remark that followed it, that notwithstanding his love of Ireland he had gone into the English army; for a man does not go into the English army and remain in it for thirty years without knowing that he is in it; and I began to wonder if he had gone into the army because (p. 408) he was afraid he could not make his living in any other way? Or was there behind his mind, far back in it, some little flickering thought that if Ireland rose against English dominion he would be able to bring to the services of his country the tactics he had learnt in the enemy's ranks? A sentiment of that kind would be very like him, and I fell to thinking of him, following his life from the beginning of his manhood up to the present time. All his dreams had been of the Irish race, of its literature, of its traditions, and his clinging to Catholicism can be accounted for by his love of Ireland. Or was it that his mind lacked elasticity, and that he failed at the right moment to twist himself out of the theological snare? It must have been so, for one day, while playing at Red Indians in the woods of Moore Hall, during a rest under the lilac-bush that grows at the turn of the drive, I had asked him if he intended to continue to believe in all the priest said about his Sacraments and about God. A look came into his face, and he answered that he couldn't do without it—meaning religion. But why that religion? I asked. The idea of changing his religion seemed to frighten him even more than dropping religion altogether, and he has persisted in that faith, trying to believe all it enjoins, his thoughts and his deeds going down parallel lines—a true Irishman, his dreams always in conflict with reality....

It seemed to me that some time had passed, for when I awoke from my reverie I was thinking of Balzac, thinking that I had read somewhere that it is not ideas which divide us, but le choc des caractères. Balzac must have written very casually when he wrote that, for surely the very opposite is the case. Men are drawn together by their ideas; temperament counts for nothing, or for very little. But it is temperament, I said, that creates our ideas, and my mind reverted to the Colonel, and he stood up in my mind, Ireland in essence, the refined melancholy of her mountains and lakes, and her old castles crumbling among the last echoes of a dying language. In his face, so refined and melancholy, I could trace a constant conflict between dreams and reality, and it is this conflict that makes Ireland so unsuccessful. But I stop, perceiving that I am falling into the stuff one writes in the newspapers. Why judge anybody? Analyse, state the case; that is interesting, but pass no judgments, for all judgments are superficial and transitory. The Colonel has always been a sentimentalist. Something seemed to break in my mind. Yes, a sentimentalist he has always been. Now I understand him, and I thought for a long while, understanding not only my brother, but human nature much better than I had done at the beginning of the evening. It was like looking under the waves, seeing down to the depths where strange vegetation moves and lives. The waves flowed on and on, and I peered, and I dreamed, and I thought, awaking suddenly with this cry upon my lips: Freed from the artificial life of (p. 409) the army he is free to follow an idea, and the Gael loves to follow an idea rather than a thing, and the more shadowy and elusive the idea the greater the enchantment it lends, and he follows the ghost of his language now with outstretched arms. But how little feeling there is in me! I cried, starting up from my chair. My brother all this while walking the streets, his heart rent, and I sitting, meditating, dissecting him, arguing with myself.

Now, the question to be settled was whether I should go to bed or wait for him to come in. To go to bed would be wiser, and speak to him in the morning. But I should lie awake all night, thinking. It seemed impossible to go to sleep until some understanding had been arrived at.


There seemed a little strain in his voice, and I wondered what thoughts had passed through his mind last night about me, and if his affection for me had really changed.

If you leave like this it will never be the same again, and I begged of him not to go away. You thought that I spoke with the express intention of wounding your feelings, but you are wrong.

He did not answer for some time, and when I pressed him he repeated what he had said before, adding that the engagement could not be broken.

And when are you going back to the West?

At the end of next week or the week following.

But won't you spend the interval here?

No; I'm going on to see some other friends.

And then?

Well, then I shall go back to the West.

I'm sorry, I'm sorry ... this religion has estranged us.

Don't let us speak on that subject again.

No, let us never speak on that subject again.

But you can't help yourself.

By going away you'll give importance to words which they really don't deserve. Nothing has happened, only a few words—nothing more. And after all, you can't blame me if I'm