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    Selected Prose

    by Oscar Wilde
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    Preface by Robert Ross
    How They Struck a Contemporary
    The Quality of George Meredith
    Life in the Fallacious Model
    Life the Disciple
    Life the Plagiarist
    The Indispensable East
    The Influence of the Impressionists on Climate
    An Exposure to Naturalism
    Thomas Griffiths Wainewright
    Wainewright at Hobart Town
    Cardinal Newman and the Autobiographers
    Robert Browning
    The Two Supreme and Highest Arts
    The Secrets of Immortality
    The Critic and his Material
    Dante the Living Guide
    The Limitations of Genius
    Wanted A New Background
    Without Frontiers
    The Poetry of Archaeology
    The Art of Archaeology
    Herod Suppliant
    The Tetrarch's Remorse
    The Tetrarch's Treasure
    Salome anticipates Dr. Strauss
    The Young King
    A Coronation
    The King of Spain
    A Bull Fight
    The Throne Room
    A Protected Country
    The Blackmailing of the Emperor
    Covent Garden
    A Letter from Miss Jane Percy to her Aunt
    The Triumph of American 'Humor'
    The Garden of Death
    An Eton Kit-cat
    Mrs. Erlynne Exercises the Prerogative of a Grandmother
    Motherhood more than Marriage
    The Damnable Ideal
    From a Rejected Prize-essay
    The Possibilities of the Useful
    The Artist
    The Doer of Good
    The Disciple
    The Master
    The House of Judgment
    The Teacher of Wisdom
    Wilde gives directions about 'De Profundis'
    Carey Street
    Sorrow wears no mask
    Vita Nuova
    The Grand Romantic
    Clapham Junction
    The Broken Resolution
    Domesticity at Berneval
    A visit to the Pope


    This anthology is dedicated to Michael Lykiardopulos as a little token of
    his services to English Literature in the great Russian Empire.


    With the possible exceptions of the Greek Anthology, the "Golden
    Treasury" and those which bear the name of E. V. Lucas, no selections of
    poetry or prose have ever given complete satisfaction to anyone except
    the compiler. But critics derive great satisfaction from pointing out
    errors of omission and inclusion on the part of the anthologist, and all
    of us have putatively re-arranged and re-edited even the "Golden
    Treasury" in our leisure moments. In an age when "Art for Art's sake" is
    an exploded doctrine, anthologies, like everything else, must have a
    purpose. The purpose or object of the present volume is to afford
    admirers of Wilde's work the same innocent pleasure obtainable from
    similar compilations, namely that of reconstructing a selection of their
    own in their mind's eye--for copyright considerations would interfere
    with the materialisation of their dream.

    A stray observation in an esteemed weekly periodical determined the plan
    of this anthology and the choice of particular passages. The writer,
    whose name has escaped me, opined that the reason the works of Pater and
    Wilde were no longer read was owing to both authors having treated
    English as a dead language. By a singular coincidence I had purchased
    simultaneously with the newspaper a shilling copy of Pater's
    "Renaissance," published by Messrs. Macmillan; and a few days afterwards
    Messrs. Methuen issued at a shilling the twenty-eighth edition of "De
    Profundis." Obviously either Messrs. Macmillan and Messrs. Methuen or
    the authority on dead languages must have been suffering from
    hallucinations. It occurred to me that a selection of Wilde's prose
    might at least rehabilitate the notorious reputation for common sense
    enjoyed by all publishers, who rarely issue shilling editions of deceased
    authors for mere aesthetic considerations. And I confess to a hope that
    this volume may reach the eye or ear of those who have not read Wilde's
    books, or of those, such as Mr. Sydney Grundy, who are irritated by the
    revival of his plays and the praise accorded to his works throughout the

    Wilde's prose is distinguished by its extraordinary ease and clarity, and
    by the absence--very singular in his case--of the preciosity which he
    admired too much in other writers, and advocated with over-emphasis.
    Perhaps that is why many of his stories and essays and plays are used as
    English text-books in Russian and Scandinavian and Hungarian schools.
    Artifice and affectation, often assumed to be recurrent defects in his
    writings by those unacquainted with them, are comparatively rare. Wilde
    once boasted in an interview that only Flaubert, Pater, Keats, and
    Maeterlinck had influenced him, and then added in a characteristic way:
    "But I had already gone more than half-way to meet them." Anyone curious
    as to the origin of Wilde's style and development should consult the
    learned treatise {1} of Dr. Ernst Bendz, whose comprehensive treatment of
    the subject renders any elucidation of mine superfluous; while nothing
    can be added to Mr. Holbrook Jackson's masterly criticism {2} of Wilde
    and his position in literature.

    In making this selection, with the valuable assistance of Mr. Stuart
    Mason, I have endeavoured to illustrate and to justify the critical
    appreciations of both Dr. Bendz and Mr. Holbrook Jackson, as well as to
    afford the general reader a fair idea of Wilde's variety as a prose
    writer. He is more various than almost any author of the last century,
    though the act of writing was always a burden to him. Some critic
    acutely pointed out that poetry and prose were almost side-issues for
    him. The resulting faults and weakness of what he left are obvious.
    Except in the plays he has no sustained scheme of thought. Even "De
    Profundis" is too desultory.

    For the purpose of convenient reference I have exercised the prerogative
    of a literary executor and editor by endowing with special titles some of
    the pieces quoted in these pages. Though unlike one of Wilde's other
    friends I cannot claim to have collaborated with him or to have assisted
    him in any of his plays, I was sometimes permitted, as Wilde acknowledges
    in different letters, to act in the capacity of godfather by suggesting
    the actual titles by which some of his books are known to the world. I
    mention the circumstance only as a precedent for my present temerity. To
    compensate those who disapprove of my choice, I have included two
    unpublished letters. The examples of Wilde's epistolary style, published
    since his death, have been generally associated with disagreeable
    subjects. Those included here will, I hope, prove a pleasant contrast.



    There is such a thing as robbing a story of its reality by trying to make
    it too true, and _The Black Arrow_ is so inartistic as not to contain a
    single anachronism to boast of, while the transformation of Dr. Jekyll
    reads dangerously like an experiment out of the _Lancet_. As for Mr.
    Rider Haggard, who really has, or had once, the makings of a perfectly
    magnificent liar, he is now so afraid of being suspected of genius that
    when he does tell us anything marvellous, he feels bound to invent a
    personal reminiscence, and to put it into a footnote as a kind of
    cowardly corroboration. Nor are our other novelists much better. Mr.
    Henry James writes fiction as if it were a painful duty, and wastes upon
    mean motives and imperceptible 'points of view' his neat literary style,
    his felicitous phrases, his swift and caustic satire. Mr. Hall Caine, it
    is true, aims at the grandiose, but then he writes at the top of his
    voice. He is so loud that one cannot bear what he says. Mr. James Payn
    is an adept in the art of concealing what is not worth finding. He hunts
    down the obvious with the enthusiasm of a short-sighted detective. As
    one turns over the pages, the suspense of the author becomes almost
    unbearable. The horses of Mr. William Black's phaeton do not soar
    towards the sun. They merely frighten the sky at evening into violent
    chromolithographic effects. On seeing them approach, the peasants take
    refuge in dialect. Mrs. Oliphant prattles pleasantly about curates, lawn-
    tennis parties, domesticity, and other wearisome things. Mr. Marion
    Crawford has immolated himself upon the altar of local colour. He is
    like the lady in the French comedy who keeps talking about "le beau ciel
    d'Italie." Besides, he has fallen into the bad habit of uttering moral
    platitudes. He is always telling us that to be good is to be good, and
    that to be bad is to be wicked. At times he is almost edifying. _Robert
    Elsmere_ is of course a masterpiece--a masterpiece of the "genre
    ennuyeux," the one form of literature that the English people seems
    thoroughly to enjoy. A thoughtful young friend of ours once told us that
    it reminded him of the sort of conversation that goes on at a meat tea in
    the house of a serious Nonconformist family, and we can quite believe it.
    Indeed it is only in England that such a book could be produced. England
    is the home of lost ideas. As for that great and daily increasing school
    of novelists for whom the sun always rises in the East-End, the only
    thing that can be said about them is that they find life crude, and leave
    it raw.--_The Decay of Lying_.


    Ah! Meredith! Who can define him? His style is chaos illumined by
    flashes of lightning. As a writer he has mastered everything except
    language: as a novelist he can do everything, except tell a story: as an
    artist he is everything except articulate. Somebody in
    Shakespeare--Touchstone, I think--talks about a man who is always
    breaking his shins over his own wit, and it seems to me that this might
    serve as the basis for a criticism of Meredith's method. But whatever he
    is, he is not a realist. Or rather I would say that he is a child of
    realism who is not on speaking terms with his father. By deliberate
    choice he has made himself a romanticist. He has refused to bow the knee
    to Baal, and after all, even if the man's fine spirit did not revolt
    against the noisy assertions of realism, his style would be quite
    sufficient of itself to keep life at a respectful distance. By its means
    he has planted round his garden a hedge full of thorns, and red with
    wonderful roses. As for Balzac, he was a most remarkable combination of
    the artistic temperament with the scientific spirit. The latter he
    bequeathed to his disciples. The former was entirely his own. The
    difference between such a book as M. Zola's _L'Assommoir_ and Balzac's
    _Illusions Perdues_ is the difference between unimaginative realism and
    imaginative reality. 'All Balzac's characters;' said Baudelaire, 'are
    gifted with the same ardour of life that animated himself. All his
    fictions are as deeply coloured as dreams. Each mind is a weapon loaded
    to the muzzle with will. The very scullions have genius.' A steady
    course of Balzac reduces our living friends to shadows, and our
    acquaintances to the shadows of shades. His characters have a kind of
    fervent fiery-coloured existence. They dominate us, and defy scepticism.
    One of the greatest tragedies of my life is the death of Lucien de
    Rubempre. It is a grief from which I have never been able completely to
    rid myself. It haunts me in my moments of pleasure. I remember it when
    I laugh. But Balzac is no more a realist than Holbein was. He created
    life, he did not copy it. I admit, however, that he set far too high a
    value on modernity of form, and that, consequently, there is no book of
    his that, as an artistic masterpiece, can rank with _Salammbo_ or
    _Esmond_, or _The Cloister and the Hearth_, or the _Vicomte de
    Bragelonne_.--_The Decay of Lying_.


    Art begins with abstract decoration, with purely imaginative and
    pleasurable work dealing with what is unreal and non-existent. This is
    the first stage. Then Life becomes fascinated with this new wonder, and
    asks to be admitted into the charmed circle. Art takes life as part of
    her rough material, recreates it, and refashions it in fresh forms, is
    absolutely indifferent to fact, invents, imagines, dreams, and keeps
    between herself and reality the impenetrable barrier of beautiful style,
    of decorative or ideal treatment. The third stage is when Life gets the
    upper hand, and drives Art out into the wilderness. That is the true
    decadence, and it is from this that we are now suffering.

    Take the case of the English drama. At first in the hands of the monks
    Dramatic Art was abstract, decorative and mythological. Then she
    enlisted Life in her service, and using some of life's external forms,
    she created an entirely new race of beings, whose sorrows were more
    terrible than any sorrow man has ever felt, whose joys were keener than
    lover's joys, who had the rage of the Titans and the calm of the gods,
    who had monstrous and marvellous sins, monstrous and marvellous virtues.
    To them she gave a language different from that of actual use, a language
    full of resonant music and sweet rhythm, made stately by solemn cadence,
    or made delicate by fanciful rhyme, jewelled with wonderful words, and
    enriched with lofty diction. She clothed her children in strange raiment
    and gave them masks, and at her bidding the antique world rose from its
    marble tomb. A new Caesar stalked through the streets of risen Rome, and
    with purple sail and flute-led oars another Cleopatra passed up the river
    to Antioch. Old myth and legend and dream took shape and substance.
    History was entirely re-written, and there was hardly one of the
    dramatists who did not recognise that the object of Art is not simple
    truth but complex beauty. In this they were perfectly right. Art itself
    is really a form of exaggeration; and selection, which is the very spirit
    of art, is nothing more than an intensified mode of over-emphasis.

    But Life soon shattered the perfection of the form. Even in Shakespeare
    we can see the beginning of the end. It shows itself by the gradual
    breaking-up of the blank-verse in the later plays, by the predominance
    given to prose, and by the over-importance assigned to characterisation.
    The passages in Shakespeare--and they are many--where the language is
    uncouth, vulgar, exaggerated, fantastic, obscene even, are entirely due
    to Life calling for an echo of her own voice, and rejecting the
    intervention of beautiful style, through which alone should life be
    suffered to find expression. Shakespeare is not by any means a flawless
    artist. He is too fond of going directly to life, and borrowing life's
    natural utterance. He forgets that when Art surrenders her imaginative
    medium she surrenders everything.--_The Decay of Lying_.


    We have all seen in our own day in England how a certain curious and
    fascinating type of beauty, invented and emphasised by two imaginative
    painters, has so influenced Life that whenever one goes to a private view
    or to an artistic salon one sees, here the mystic eyes of Rossetti's
    dream, the long ivory throat, the strange square-cut jaw, the loosened
    shadowy hair that he so ardently loved, there the sweet maidenhood of
    'The Golden Stair,' the blossom-like mouth and weary loveliness of the
    'Laus Amoris,' the passion-pale face of Andromeda, the thin hands and
    lithe beauty of the Vivian in 'Merlin's Dream.' And it has always been
    so. A great artist invents a type, and Life tries to copy it, to
    reproduce it in a popular form, like an enterprising publisher. Neither
    Holbein nor Vandyck found in England what they have given us. They
    brought their types with them, and Life with her keen imitative faculty
    set herself to supply the master with models. The Greeks, with their
    quick artistic instinct, understood this, and set in the bride's chamber
    the statue of Hermes or of Apollo, that she might bear children as lovely
    as the works of art that she looked at in her rapture or her pain. They
    knew that Life gains from art not merely spirituality, depth of thought
    and feeling, soul-turmoil or soul-peace, but that she can form herself on
    the very lines and colours of art, and can reproduce the dignity of
    Pheidias as well as the grace of Praxiteles. Hence came their objection
    to realism. They disliked it on purely social grounds. They felt that
    it inevitably makes people ugly, and they were perfectly right. We try
    to improve the conditions of the race by means of good air, free
    sunlight, wholesome water, and hideous bare buildings for the better
    housing of the lower orders. But these things merely produce health,
    they do not produce beauty. For this, Art is required, and the true
    disciples of the great artist are not his studio-imitators, but those who
    become like his works of art, be they plastic as in Greek days, or
    pictorial as in modern times; in a word, Life is Art's best, Art's only
    pupil.--_The Decay of Lying_.


    I once asked a lady, who knew Thackeray intimately, whether he had had
    any model for Becky Sharp. She told me that Becky was an invention, but
    that the idea of the character had been partly suggested by a governess
    who lived in the neighbourhood of Kensington Square, and was the
    companion of a very selfish and rich old woman. I inquired what became
    of the governess, and she replied that, oddly enough, some years after
    the appearance of _Vanity Fair_, she ran away with the nephew of the lady
    with whom she was living, and for a short time made a great splash in
    society, quite in Mrs. Rawdon Crawley's style, and entirely by Mrs.
    Rawdon Crawley's methods. Ultimately she came to grief, disappeared to
    the Continent, and used to be occasionally seen at Monte Carlo and other
    gambling places. The noble gentleman from whom the same great
    sentimentalist drew Colonel Newcome died, a few months after _The
    Newcomer_ had reached a fourth edition, with the word 'Adsum' on his
    lips. Shortly after Mr. Stevenson published his curious psychological
    story of transformation, a friend of mine, called Mr. Hyde, was in the
    north of London, and being anxious to get to a railway station, took what
    he thought would be a short cut, lost his way, and found himself in a
    network of mean, evil-looking streets. Feeling rather nervous he began
    to walk extremely fast, when suddenly out of an archway ran a child right
    between his legs. It fell on the pavement, he tripped over it, and
    trampled upon it. Being of course very much frightened and a little
    hurt, it began to scream, and in a few seconds the whole street was full
    of rough people who came pouring out of the houses like ants. They
    surrounded him, and asked him his name. He was just about to give it
    when he suddenly remembered the opening incident in Mr. Stevenson's
    story. He was so filled with horror at having realised in his own person
    that terrible and well-written scene, and at having done accidentally,
    though in fact, what the Mr. Hyde of fiction had done with deliberate
    intent, that he ran away as hard as he could go. He was, however, very
    closely followed, and finally he took refuge in a surgery, the door of
    which happened to be open, where he explained to a young assistant, who
    happened to be there, exactly what had occurred. The humanitarian crowd
    were induced to go away on his giving them a small sum of money, and as
    soon as the coast was clear he left. As he passed out, the name on the
    brass door-plate of the surgery caught his eye. It was 'Jekyll.' At
    least it should have been.--_The Decay of Lying_.


    What is true about the drama and the novel is no less true about those
    arts that we call the decorative arts. The whole history of these arts
    in Europe is the record of the struggle between Orientalism, with its
    frank rejection of imitation, its love of artistic convention, its
    dislike to the actual representation of any object in Nature, and our own
    imitative spirit. Wherever the former has been paramount, as in
    Byzantium, Sicily and Spain, by actual contact, or in the rest of Europe
    by the influence of the Crusades, we have had beautiful and imaginative
    work in which the visible things of life are transmuted into artistic
    conventions, and the things that Life has not are invented and fashioned
    for her delight. But wherever we have returned to Life and Nature, our
    work has always become vulgar, common and uninteresting. Modern
    tapestry, with its aerial effects, its elaborate perspective, its broad
    expanses of waste sky, its faithful and laborious realism, has no beauty
    whatsoever. The pictorial glass of Germany is absolutely detestable. We
    are beginning to weave possible carpets in England, but only because we
    have returned to the method and spirit of the East. Our rugs and carpets
    of twenty years ago, with their solemn depressing truths, their inane
    worship of Nature, their sordid reproductions of visible objects, have
    become, even to the Philistine, a source of laughter. A cultured
    Mahomedan once remarked to us, "You Christians are so occupied in
    misinterpreting the fourth commandment that you have never thought of
    making an artistic application of the second." He was perfectly right,
    and the whole truth of the matter is this: The proper school to learn art
    in is not Life but Art.--_The Decay of Lying_.


    Where, if not from the Impressionists, do we get those wonderful brown
    fogs that come creeping down our streets, blurring the gas-lamps and
    changing the houses into monstrous shadows? To whom, if not to them and
    their master, do we owe the lovely silver mists that brood over our
    river, and turn to faint forms of fading grace curved bridge and swaying
    barge? The extraordinary change that has taken place in the climate of
    London during the last ten years is entirely due to a particular school
    of Art. You smile. Consider the matter from a scientific or a
    metaphysical point of view, and you will find that I am right. For what
    is Nature? Nature is no great mother who has borne us. She is our
    creation. It is in our brain that she quickens to life. Things are
    because we see them, and what we see, and how we see it, depends on the
    Arts that have influenced us. To look at a thing is very different from
    seeing a thing. One does not see anything until one sees its beauty.
    Then, and then only, does it come into existence. At present, people see
    fogs, not because there are fogs, but because poets and painters have
    taught them the mysterious loveliness of such effects. There may have
    been fogs for centuries in London. I dare say there were. But no one
    saw them, and so we do not know anything about them. They did not exist
    till Art had invented them. Now, it must be admitted, fogs are carried
    to excess. They have become the mere mannerism of a clique, and the
    exaggerated realism of their method gives dull people bronchitis. Where
    the cultured catch an effect, the uncultured catch cold. And so, let us
    be humane, and invite Art to turn her wonderful eyes elsewhere. She has
    done so already, indeed. That white quivering sunlight that one sees now
    in France, with its strange blotches of mauve, and its restless violet
    shadows, is her latest fancy, and, on the whole, Nature reproduces it
    quite admirably. Where she used to give us Corots and Daubignys, she
    gives us now exquisite Monets and entrancing Pissaros. Indeed there are
    moments, rare, it is true, but still to be observed from time to time,
    when Nature becomes absolutely modern. Of course she is not always to be
    relied upon. The fact is that she is in this unfortunate position. Art
    creates an incomparable and unique effect, and, having done so, passes on
    to other things. Nature, upon the other hand, forgetting that imitation
    can be made the sincerest form of insult, keeps on repeating this effect
    until we all become absolutely wearied of it. Nobody of any real
    culture, for instance, ever talks nowadays about the beauty of a sunset.
    Sunsets are quite old-fashioned. They belong to the time when Turner was
    the last note in art. To admire them is a distinct sign of provincialism
    of temperament. Upon the other hand they go on.--_The Decay of Lying_.


    After all, what the imitative arts really give us are merely the various
    styles of particular artists, or of certain schools of artists. Surely
    you don't imagine that the people of the Middle Ages bore any resemblance
    at all to the figures on mediaeval stained glass, or in mediaeval stone
    and wood carving, or on mediaeval metal-work, or tapestries, or
    illuminated MSS. They were probably very ordinary-looking people, with
    nothing grotesque, or remarkable, or fantastic in their appearance. The
    Middle Ages, as we know them in art, are simply a definite form of style,
    and there is no reason at all why an artist with this style should not be
    produced in the nineteenth century. No great artist ever sees things as
    they really are. If he did, he would cease to be an artist. Take an
    example from our own day. I know that you are fond of Japanese things.
    Now, do you really imagine that the Japanese people, as they are
    presented to us in art, have any existence? If you do, you have never
    understood Japanese art at all. The Japanese people are the deliberate
    self-conscious creation of certain individual artists. If you set a
    picture by Hokusai, or Hokkei, or any of the great native painters,
    beside a real Japanese gentleman or lady, you will see that there is not
    the slightest resemblance between them. The actual people who live in
    Japan are not unlike the general run of English people; that is to say,
    they are extremely commonplace, and have nothing curious or extraordinary
    about them. In fact the whole of Japan is a pure invention. There is no
    such country, there are no such people. One of our most charming
    painters {3} went recently to the Land of the Chrysanthemum in the
    foolish hope of seeing the Japanese. All he saw, all he had the chance
    of painting, were a few lanterns and some fans. He was quite unable to
    discover the inhabitants, as his delightful exhibition at Messrs.
    Dowdeswell's Gallery showed only too well. He did not know that the
    Japanese people are, as I have said, simply a mode of style, an exquisite
    fancy of art. And so, if you desire to see a Japanese effect, you will
    not behave like a tourist and go to Tokio. On the contrary, you will
    stay at home and steep yourself in the work of certain Japanese artists,
    and then, when you have absorbed the spirit of their style, and caught
    their imaginative manner of vision, you will go some afternoon and sit in
    the Park or stroll down Piccadilly, and if you cannot see an absolutely
    Japanese effect there, you will not see it anywhere. Or, to return again
    to the past, take as another instance the ancient Greeks. Do you think
    that Greek art ever tells us what the Greek people were like? Do you
    believe that the Athenian women were like the stately dignified figures
    of the Parthenon frieze, or like those marvellous goddesses who sat in
    the triangular pediments of the same building? If you judge from the
    art, they certainly were so. But read an authority, like Aristophanes,
    for instance. You will find that the Athenian ladies laced tightly, wore
    high-heeled shoes, dyed their hair yellow, painted and rouged their
    faces, and were exactly like any silly fashionable or fallen creature of
    our own day. The fact is that we look back on the ages entirely through
    the medium of art, and art, very fortunately, has never once told us the
    truth.--_The Decay of Lying_.


    He was taken back to Newgate, preparatory to his removal to the colonies.
    In a fanciful passage in one of his early essays he had fancied himself
    'lying in Horsemonger Gaol under sentence of death' for having been
    unable to resist the temptation of stealing some Marc Antonios from the
    British Museum in order to complete his collection. The sentence now
    passed on him was to a man of his culture a form of death. He complained
    bitterly of it to his friends, and pointed out, with a good deal of
    reason, some people may fancy, that the money was practically his own,
    having come to him from his mother, and that the forgery, such as it was,
    had been committed thirteen years before, which, to use his own phrase,
    was at least a _circonstance attenuante_. The permanence of personality
    is a very subtle metaphysical problem, and certainly the English law
    solves the question in an extremely rough-and-ready manner. There is,
    however, something dramatic in the fact that this heavy punishment was
    inflicted on him for what, if we remember his fatal influence on the
    prose of modern journalism, was certainly not the worst of all his sins.

    While he was in gaol, Dickens, Macready, and Hablot Browne came across
    him by chance. They had been going over the prisons of London, searching
    for artistic effects, and in Newgate they suddenly caught sight of
    Wainewright. He met them with a defiant stare, Forster tells us, but
    Macready was 'horrified to recognise a man familiarly known to him in
    former years, and at whose table he had dined.'

    Others had more curiosity, and his cell was for some time a kind of
    fashionable lounge. Many men of letters went down to visit their old
    literary comrade. But he was no longer the kind light-hearted Janus whom
    Charles Lamb admired. He seems to have grown quite cynical.

    To the agent of an insurance company who was visiting him one afternoon,
    and thought he would improve the occasion by pointing out that, after
    all, crime was a bad speculation, he replied: 'Sir, you City men enter on
    your speculations, and take the chances of them. Some of your
    speculations succeed, some fail. Mine happen to have failed, yours
    happen to have succeeded. That is the only difference, sir, between my
    visitor and me. But, sir, I will tell you one thing in which I have
    succeeded to the last. I have been determined through life to hold the
    position of a gentleman. I have always done so. I do so still. It is
    the custom of this place that each of the inmates of a cell shall take
    his morning's turn of sweeping it out. I occupy a cell with a bricklayer
    and a sweep, but they never offer me the broom!' When a friend
    reproached him with the murder of Helen Abercrombie he shrugged his
    shoulders and said, 'Yes; it was a dreadful thing to do, but she had very
    thick ankles.'--_Pen, Pencil and Poison_.


    His love of art, however, never deserted him. At Hobart Town he started
    a studio, and returned to sketching and portrait-painting, and his
    conversation and manners seem not to have lost their charm. Nor did he
    give up his habit of poisoning, and there are two cases on record in
    which he tried to make away with people who had offended him. But his
    hand seems to have lost its cunning. Both of his attempts were complete
    failures, and in 1844, being thoroughly dissatisfied with Tasmanian
    society, he presented a memorial to the governor of the settlement, Sir
    John Eardley Wilmot, praying for a ticket-of-leave. In it he speaks of
    himself as being 'tormented by ideas struggling for outward form and
    realisation, barred up from increase of knowledge, and deprived of the
    exercise of profitable or even of decorous speech.' His request,
    however, was refused, and the associate of Coleridge consoled himself by
    making those marvellous _Paradis Artificiels_ whose secret is only known
    to the eaters of opium. In 1852 he died of apoplexy, his sole living
    companion being a cat, for which he had evinced at extraordinary

    His crimes seem to have had an important effect upon his art. They gave
    a strong personality to his style, a quality that his early work
    certainly lacked. In a note to the _Life of Dickens_, Forster mentions
    that in 1847 Lady Blessington received from her brother, Major Power, who
    held a military appointment at Hobart Town, an oil portrait of a young
    lady from his clever brush; and it is said that 'he had contrived to put
    the expression of his own wickedness into the portrait of a nice, kind-
    hearted girl.' M. Zola, in one of his novels, tells us of a young man
    who, having committed a murder, takes to art, and paints greenish
    impressionist portraits of perfectly respectable people, all of which
    bear a curious resemblance to his victim. The development of Mr.
    Wainewright's style seems to me far more subtle and suggestive. One can
    fancy an intense personality being created out of sin.--_Pen, Pencil and


    In literature mere egotism is delightful. It is what fascinates us in
    the letters of personalities so different as Cicero and Balzac, Flaubert
    and Berlioz, Byron and Madame de Sevigne. Whenever we come across it,
    and, strangely enough, it is rather rare, we cannot but welcome it, and
    do not easily forget it. Humanity will always love Rousseau for having
    confessed his sins, not to a priest, but to the world, and the couchant
    nymphs that Cellini wrought in bronze for the castle of King Francis, the
    green and gold Perseus, even, that in the open Loggia at Florence shows
    the moon the dead terror that once turned life to stone, have not given
    it more pleasure than has that autobiography in which the supreme
    scoundrel of the Renaissance relates the story of his splendour and his
    shame. The opinions, the character, the achievements of the man, matter
    very little. He may be a sceptic like the gentle Sieur de Montaigne, or
    a saint like the bitter son of Monica, but when he tells us his own
    secrets he can always charm our ears to listening and our lips to
    silence. The mode of thought that Cardinal Newman represented--if that
    can be called a mode of thought which seeks to solve intellectual
    problems by a denial of the supremacy of the intellect--may not, cannot,
    I think, survive. But the world will never weary of watching that
    troubled soul in its progress from darkness to darkness. The lonely
    church at Littlemore, where 'the breath of the morning is damp, and
    worshippers are few,' will always be dear to it, and whenever men see the
    yellow snapdragon blossoming on the wall of Trinity they will think of
    that gracious undergraduate who saw in the flower's sure recurrence a
    prophecy that he would abide for ever with the Benign Mother of his
    days--a prophecy that Faith, in her wisdom or her folly, suffered not to
    be fulfilled. Yes; autobiography is irresistible.--_The Critic as


    Taken as a whole the man was great. He did not belong to the Olympians,
    and had all the incompleteness of the Titan. He did not survey, and it
    was but rarely that he could sing. His work is marred by struggle,
    violence and effort, and he passed not from emotion to form, but from
    thought to chaos. Still, he was great. He has been called a thinker,
    and was certainly a man who was always thinking, and always thinking
    aloud; but it was not thought that fascinated him, but rather the
    processes by which thought moves. It was the machine he loved, not what
    the machine makes. The method by which the fool arrives at his folly was
    as dear to him as the ultimate wisdom of the wise. So much, indeed, did
    the subtle mechanism of mind fascinate him that he despised language, or
    looked upon it as an incomplete instrument of expression. Rhyme, that
    exquisite echo which in the Muse's hollow hill creates and answers its
    own voice; rhyme, which in the hands of the real artist becomes not
    merely a material element of metrical beauty, but a spiritual element of
    thought and passion also, waking a new mood, it may be, or stirring a
    fresh train of ideas, or opening by mere sweetness and suggestion of
    sound some golden door at which the Imagination itself had knocked in
    vain; rhyme, which can turn man's utterance to the speech of gods; rhyme,
    the one chord we have added to the Greek lyre, became in Robert
    Browning's hands a grotesque, misshapen thing, which at times made him
    masquerade in poetry as a low comedian, and ride Pegasus too often with
    his tongue in his cheek. There are moments when he wounds us by
    monstrous music. Nay, if he can only get his music by breaking the
    strings of his lute, he breaks them, and they snap in discord, and no
    Athenian tettix, making melody from tremulous wings, lights on the ivory
    horn to make the movement perfect, or the interval less harsh. Yet, he
    was great: and though he turned language into ignoble clay, he made from
    it men and women that live. He is the most Shakespearian creature since
    Shakespeare. If Shakespeare could sing with myriad lips, Browning could
    stammer through a thousand mouths. Even now, as I am speaking, and
    speaking not against him but for him, there glides through the room the
    pageant of his persons. There, creeps Fra Lippo Lippi with his cheeks
    still burning from some girl's hot kiss. There, stands dread Saul with
    the lordly male-sapphires gleaming in his turban. Mildred Tresham is
    there, and the Spanish monk, yellow with hatred, and Blougram, and Ben
    Ezra, and the Bishop of St. Praxed's. The spawn of Setebos gibbers in
    the corner, and Sebald, hearing Pippa pass by, looks on Ottima's haggard
    face, and loathes her and his own sin, and himself. Pale as the white
    satin of his doublet, the melancholy king watches with dreamy treacherous
    eyes too loyal Strafford pass forth to his doom, and Andrea shudders as
    he hears the cousins whistle in the garden, and bids his perfect wife go
    down. Yes, Browning was great. And as what will he be remembered? As a
    poet? Ah, not as a poet! He will be remembered as a writer of fiction,
    as the most supreme writer of fiction, it may be, that we have ever had.
    His sense of dramatic situation was unrivalled, and, if he could not
    answer his own problems, he could at least put problems forth, and what
    more should an artist do? Considered from the point of view of a creator
    of character he ranks next to him who made Hamlet. Had he been
    articulate, he might have sat beside him. The only man who can touch the
    hem of his garment is George Meredith. Meredith is a prose Browning, and
    so is Browning. He used poetry as a medium for writing in prose.--_The
    Critic as Artist_.


    Life and Literature, life and the perfect expression of life. The
    principles of the former, as laid down by the Greeks, we may not realise
    in an age so marred by false ideals as our own. The principles of the
    latter, as they laid them down, are, in many cases, so subtle that we can
    hardly understand them. Recognising that the most perfect art is that
    which most fully mirrors man in all his infinite variety, they elaborated
    the criticism of language, considered in the light of the mere material
    of that art, to a point to which we, with our accentual system of
    reasonable or emotional emphasis, can barely if at all attain; studying,
    for instance, the metrical movements of a prose as scientifically as a
    modern musician studies harmony and counterpoint, and, I need hardly say,
    with much keener aesthetic instinct. In this they were right, as they
    were right in all things. Since the introduction of printing, and the
    fatal development of the habit of reading amongst the middle and lower
    classes of this country, there has been a tendency in literature to
    appeal more and more to the eye, and less and less to the ear which is
    really the sense which, from the standpoint of pure art, it should seek
    to please, and by whose canons of pleasure it should abide always. Even
    the work of Mr. Pater, who is, on the whole, the most perfect master of
    English prose now creating amongst us, is often far more like a piece of
    mosaic than a passage in music, and seems, here and there, to lack the
    true rhythmical life of words and the fine freedom and richness of effect
    that such rhythmical life produces. We, in fact, have made writing a
    definite mode of composition, and have treated it as a form of elaborate
    design. The Greeks, upon the other hand, regarded writing simply as a
    method of chronicling. Their test was always the spoken word in its
    musical and metrical relations. The voice was the medium, and the ear
    the critic. I have sometimes thought that the story of Homer's blindness
    might be really an artistic myth, created in critical days, and serving
    to remind us, not merely that the great poet is always a seer, seeing
    less with the eyes of the body than he does with the eyes of the soul,
    but that he is a true singer also, building his song out of music,
    repeating each line over and over again to himself till he has caught the
    secret of its melody, chaunting in darkness the words that are winged
    with light. Certainly, whether this be so or not, it was to his
    blindness, as an occasion, if not as a cause, that England's great poet
    owed much of the majestic movement and sonorous splendour of his later
    verse. When Milton could no longer write he began to sing.--_The Critic
    as Artist_.


    On the mouldering citadel of Troy lies the lizard like a thing of green
    bronze. The owl has built her nest in the palace of Priam. Over the
    empty plain wander shepherd and goatherd with their flocks, and where, on
    the wine-surfaced, oily sea, [Greek text], as Homer calls it,
    copper-prowed and streaked with vermilion, the great galleys of the
    Danaoi came in their gleaming crescent, the lonely tunny-fisher sits in
    his little boat and watches the bobbing corks of his net. Yet, every
    morning the doors of the city are thrown open, and on foot, or in horse-
    drawn chariot, the warriors go forth to battle, and mock their enemies
    from behind their iron masks. All day long the fight rages, and when
    night comes the torches gleam by the tents, and the cresset burns in the
    hall. Those who live in marble or on painted panel, know of life but a
    single exquisite instant, eternal indeed in its beauty, but limited to
    one note of passion or one mood of calm. Those whom the poet makes live
    have their myriad emotions of joy and terror, of courage and despair, of
    pleasure and of suffering. The seasons come and go in glad or saddening
    pageant, and with winged or leaden feet the years pass by before them.
    They have their youth and their manhood, they are children, and they grow
    old. It is always dawn for St. Helena, as Veronese saw her at the
    window. Through the still morning air the angels bring her the symbol of
    God's pain. The cool breezes of the morning lift the gilt threads from
    her brow. On that little hill by the city of Florence, where the lovers
    of Giorgione are lying, it is always the solstice of noon, of noon made
    so languorous by summer suns that hardly can the slim naked girl dip into
    the marble tank the round bubble of clear glass, and the long fingers of
    the lute-player rest idly upon the chords. It is twilight always for the
    dancing nymphs whom Corot set free among the silver poplars of France. In
    eternal twilight they move, those frail diaphanous figures, whose
    tremulous white feet seem not to touch the dew-drenched grass they tread
    on. But those who walk in epos, drama, or romance, see through the
    labouring months the young moons wax and wane, and watch the night from
    evening unto morning star, and from sunrise unto sunsetting can note the
    shifting day with all its gold and shadow. For them, as for us, the
    flowers bloom and wither, and the Earth, that Green-tressed Goddess as
    Coleridge calls her, alters her raiment for their pleasure. The statue
    is concentrated to one moment of perfection. The image stained upon the
    canvas possesses no spiritual element of growth or change. If they know
    nothing of death, it is because they know little of life, for the secrets
    of life and death belong to those, and those only, whom the sequence of
    time affects, and who possess not merely the present but the future, and
    can rise or fall from a past of glory or of shame. Movement, that
    problem of the visible arts, can be truly realised by Literature alone.
    It is Literature that shows us the body in its swiftness and the soul in
    its unrest.--_The Critic as Artist_.


    Who cares whether Mr. Ruskin's views on Turner are sound or not? What
    does it matter? That mighty and majestic prose of his, so fervid and so
    fiery-coloured in its noble eloquence, so rich in its elaborate symphonic
    music, so sure and certain, at its best, in subtle choice of word and
    epithet, is at least as great a work of art as any of those wonderful
    sunsets that bleach or rot on their corrupted canvases in England's
    Gallery; greater indeed, one is apt to think at times, not merely because
    its equal beauty is more enduring, but on account of the fuller variety
    of its appeal, soul speaking to soul in those long-cadenced lines, not
    through form and colour alone, though through these, indeed, completely
    and without loss, but with intellectual and emotional utterance, with
    lofty passion and with loftier thought, with imaginative insight, and
    with poetic aim; greater, I always think, even as Literature is the
    greater art. Who, again, cares whether Mr. Pater has put into the
    portrait of Monna Lisa something that Lionardo never dreamed of? The
    painter may have been merely the slave of an archaic smile, as some have
    fancied, but whenever I pass into the cool galleries of the Palace of the
    Louvre, and stand before that strange figure 'set in its marble chair in
    that cirque of fantastic rocks, as in some faint light under sea,' I
    murmur to myself, 'She is older than the rocks among which she sits; like
    the vampire, she has been dead many times, and learned the secrets of the
    grave; and has been a diver in deep seas, and keeps their fallen day
    about her: and trafficked for strange webs with Eastern merchants; and,
    as Leda, was the mother of Helen of Troy, and, as St. Anne, the mother of
    Mary; and all this has been to her but as the sound of lyres and flutes,
    and lives only in the delicacy with which it has moulded the changing
    lineaments, and tinged the eyelids and the hands.' And I say to my
    friend, 'The presence that thus so strangely rose beside the waters is
    expressive of what in the ways of a thousand years man had come to
    desire'; and he answers me, 'Hers is the head upon which all "the ends of
    the world are come," and the eyelids are a little weary.'

    And so the picture becomes more wonderful to us than it really is, and
    reveals to us a secret of which, in truth, it knows nothing, and the
    music of the mystical prose is as sweet in our ears as was that flute-
    player's music that lent to the lips of La Gioconda those subtle and
    poisonous curves. Do you ask me what Lionardo would have said had any
    one told him of this picture that 'all the thoughts and experience of the
    world had etched and moulded therein that which they had of power to
    refine and make expressive the outward form, the animalism of Greece, the
    lust of Rome, the reverie of the Middle Age with its spiritual ambition
    and imaginative loves, the return of the Pagan world, the sins of the
    Borgias?' He would probably have answered that he had contemplated none
    of these things, but had concerned himself simply with certain
    arrangements of lines and masses, and with new and curious
    colour-harmonies of blue and green. And it is for this very reason that
    the criticism which I have quoted is criticism of the highest kind. It
    treats the work of art simply as a starting-point for a new creation. It
    does not confine itself--let us at least suppose so for the moment--to
    discovering the real intention of the artist and accepting that as final.
    And in this it is right, for the meaning of any beautiful created thing
    is, at least, as much in the soul of him who looks at it, as it was in
    his soul who wrought it. Nay, it is rather the beholder who lends to the
    beautiful thing its myriad meanings, and makes it marvellous for us, and
    sets it in some new relation to the age, so that it becomes a vital
    portion of our lives, and a symbol of what we pray for, or perhaps of
    what, having prayed for, we fear that we may receive.--_The Critic as


    There is no mood or passion that Art cannot give us, and those of us who
    have discovered her secret can settle beforehand what our experiences are
    going to be. We can choose our day and select our hour. We can say to
    ourselves, 'To-morrow, at dawn, we shall walk with grave Virgil through
    the valley of the shadow of death,' and lo! the dawn finds us in the
    obscure wood, and the Mantuan stands by our side. We pass through the
    gate of the legend fatal to hope, and with pity or with joy behold the
    horror of another world. The hypocrites go by, with their painted faces
    and their cowls of gilded lead. Out of the ceaseless winds that drive
    them, the carnal look at us, and we watch the heretic rending his flesh,
    and the glutton lashed by the rain. We break the withered branches from
    the tree in the grove of the Harpies, and each dull-hued poisonous twig
    bleeds with red blood before us, and cries aloud with bitter cries. Out
    of a horn of fire Odysseus speaks to us, and when from his sepulchre of
    flame the great Ghibelline rises, the pride that triumphs over the
    torture of that bed becomes ours for a moment. Through the dim purple
    air fly those who have stained the world with the beauty of their sin,
    and in the pit of loathsome disease, dropsy-stricken and swollen of body
    into the semblance of a monstrous lute, lies Adamo di Brescia, the coiner
    of false coin. He bids us listen to his misery; we stop, and with dry
    and gaping lips he tells us how he dreams day and night of the brooks of
    clear water that in cool dewy channels gush down the green Casentine
    hills. Sinon, the false Greek of Troy, mocks at him. He smites him in
    the face, and they wrangle. We are fascinated by their shame, and
    loiter, till Virgil chides us and leads us away to that city turreted by
    giants where great Nimrod blows his horn. Terrible things are in store
    for us, and we go to meet them in Dante's raiment and with Dante's heart.
    We traverse the marshes of the Styx, and Argenti swims to the boat
    through the slimy waves. He calls to us, and we reject him. When we
    hear the voice of his agony we are glad, and Virgil praises us for the
    bitterness of our scorn. We tread upon the cold crystal of Cocytus, in
    which traitors stick like straws in glass. Our foot strikes against the
    head of Bocca. He will not tell us his name, and we tear the hair in
    handfuls from the screaming skull. Alberigo prays us to break the ice
    upon his face that he may weep a little. We pledge our word to him, and
    when he has uttered his dolorous tale we deny the word that we have
    spoken, and pass from him; such cruelty being courtesy indeed, for who
    more base than he who has mercy for the condemned of God? In the jaws of
    Lucifer we see the man who sold Christ, and in the jaws of Lucifer the
    men who slew Caesar. We tremble, and come forth to re-behold the
    stars.--_The Critic as Artist_.


    The appeal of all Art is simply to the artistic temperament. Art does
    not address herself to the specialist. Her claim is that she is
    universal, and that in all her manifestations she is one. Indeed, so far
    from its being true that the artist is the best judge of art, a really
    great artist can never judge of other people's work at all, and can
    hardly, in fact, judge of his own. That very concentration of vision
    that makes a man an artist, limits by its sheer intensity his faculty of
    fine appreciation. The energy of creation hurries him blindly on to his
    own goal. The wheels of his chariot raise the dust as a cloud around
    him. The gods are hidden from each other. They can recognise their
    worshippers. That is all . . . Wordsworth saw in _Endymion_ merely a
    pretty piece of Paganism, and Shelley, with his dislike of actuality, was
    deaf to Wordsworth's message, being repelled by its form, and Byron, that
    great passionate human incomplete creature, could appreciate neither the
    poet of the cloud nor the poet of the lake, and the wonder of Keats was
    hidden from him. The realism of Euripides was hateful to Sophokles.
    Those droppings of warm tears had no music for him. Milton, with his
    sense of the grand style, could not understand the method of Shakespeare,
    any more than could Sir Joshua the method of Gainsborough. Bad artists
    always admire each other's work. They call it being large-minded and
    free from prejudice. But a truly great artist cannot conceive of life
    being shown, or beauty fashioned, under any conditions other than those
    that he has selected. Creation employs all its critical faculty within
    its own sphere. It may not use it in the sphere that belongs to others.
    It is exactly because a man cannot do a thing that he is the proper judge
    of it.--_The Critic as Artist_.


    He who would stir us now by fiction must either give us an entirely new
    background, or reveal to us the soul of man in its innermost workings.
    The first is for the moment being done for us by Mr. Rudyard Kipling. As
    one turns over the pages of his _Plain Tales from the Hills_, one feels
    as if one were seated under a palm-tree reading life by superb flashes of
    vulgarity. The bright colours of the bazaars dazzle one's eyes. The
    jaded, second-rate Anglo-Indians are in exquisite incongruity with their
    surroundings. The mere lack of style in the story-teller gives an odd
    journalistic realism to what he tells us. From the point of view of
    literature Mr. Kipling is a genius who drops his aspirates. From the
    point of view of life, he is a reporter who knows vulgarity better than
    any one has ever known it. Dickens knew its clothes and its comedy. Mr.
    Kipling knows its essence and its seriousness. He is our first authority
    on the second-rate, and has seen marvellous things through keyholes, and
    his backgrounds are real works of art. As for the second condition, we
    have had Browning, and Meredith is with us. But there is still much to
    be done in the sphere of introspection. People sometimes say that
    fiction is getting too morbid. As far as psychology is concerned, it has
    never been morbid enough. We have merely touched the surface of the
    soul, that is all. In one single ivory cell of the brain there are
    stored away things more marvellous and more terrible than even they have
    dreamed of, who, like the author of _Le Rouge et le Noir_, have sought to
    track the soul into its most secret places, and to make life confess its
    dearest sins. Still, there is a limit even to the number of untried
    backgrounds, and it is possible that a further development of the habit
    of introspection may prove fatal to that creative faculty to which it
    seeks to supply fresh material. I myself am inclined to think that
    creation is doomed. It springs from too primitive, too natural an
    impulse. However this may be, it is certain that the subject-matter at
    the disposal of creation is always diminishing, while the subject-matter
    of criticism increases daily. There are always new attitudes for the
    mind, and new points of view. The duty of imposing form upon chaos does
    not grow less as the world advances. There was never a time when
    Criticism was more needed than it is now. It is only by its means that
    Humanity can become conscious of the point at which it has arrived.--_The
    Critic as Artist_.


    Goethe--you will not misunderstand what I say--was a German of the
    Germans. He loved his country--no man more so. Its people were dear to
    him; and he led them. Yet, when the iron hoof of Napoleon trampled upon
    vineyard and cornfield, his lips were silent. 'How can one write songs
    of hatred without hating?' he said to Eckermann, 'and how could I, to
    whom culture and barbarism are alone of importance, hate a nation which
    is among the most cultivated of the earth and to which I owe so great a
    part of my own cultivation?' This note, sounded in the modern world by
    Goethe first, will become, I think, the starting point for the
    cosmopolitanism of the future. Criticism will annihilate
    race-prejudices, by insisting upon the unity of the human mind in the
    variety of its forms. If we are tempted to make war upon another nation,
    we shall remember that we are seeking to destroy an element of our own
    culture, and possibly its most important element. As long as war is
    regarded as wicked, it will always have its fascination. When it is
    looked upon as vulgar, it will cease to be popular. The change will of
    course be slow, and people will not be conscious of it. They will not
    say 'We will not war against France because her prose is perfect,' but
    because the prose of France is perfect, they will not hate the land.
    Intellectual criticism will bind Europe together in bonds far closer than
    those that can be forged by shopman or sentimentalist. It will give us
    the peace that springs from understanding.--_The Critic as Artist_.


    Infessura tells us that in 1485 some workmen digging on the Appian Way
    came across an old Roman sarcophagus inscribed with the name 'Julia,
    daughter of Claudius.' On opening the coffer they found within its
    marble womb the body of a beautiful girl of about fifteen years of age,
    preserved by the embalmer's skill from corruption and the decay of time.
    Her eyes were half open, her hair rippled round her in crisp curling
    gold, and from her lips and cheek the bloom of maidenhood had not yet
    departed. Borne back to the Capitol, she became at once the centre of a
    new cult, and from all parts of the city crowded pilgrims to worship at
    the wonderful shrine, till the Pope, fearing lest those who had found the
    secret of beauty in a Pagan tomb might forget what secrets Judaea's rough
    and rock-hewn sepulchre contained, had the body conveyed away by night,
    and in secret buried. Legend though it may be, yet the story is none the
    less valuable as showing us the attitude of the Renaissance towards the
    antique world. Archaeology to them was not a mere science for the
    antiquarian; it was a means by which they could touch the dry dust of
    antiquity into the very breath and beauty of life, and fill with the new
    wine of romanticism forms that else had been old and outworn. From the
    pulpit of Niccola Pisano down to Mantegna's 'Triumph of Caesar,' and the
    service Cellini designed for King Francis, the influence of this spirit
    can be traced; nor was it confined merely to the immobile arts--the arts
    of arrested movement--but its influence was to be seen also in the great
    Graeco-Roman masques which were the constant amusement of the gay courts
    of the time, and in the public pomps and processions with which the
    citizens of big commercial towns were wont to greet the princes that
    chanced to visit them; pageants, by the way, which were considered so
    important that large prints were made of them and published--a fact which
    is a proof of the general interest at the time in matters of such
    kind.--_The Truth of Masks_.


    Indeed archaeology is only really delightful when transfused into some
    form of art. I have no desire to underrate the services of laborious
    scholars, but I feel that the use Keats made of Lempriere's Dictionary is
    of far more value to us than Professor Max Muller's treatment of the same
    mythology as a disease of language. Better _Endymion_ than any theory,
    however sound, or, as in the present instance, unsound, of an epidemic
    among adjectives! And who does not feel that the chief glory of
    Piranesi's book on Vases is that it gave Keats the suggestion for his
    'Ode on a Grecian Urn'? Art, and art only, can make archaeology
    beautiful; and the theatric art can use it most directly and most
    vividly, for it can combine in one exquisite presentation the illusion of
    actual life with the wonder of the unreal world. But the sixteenth
    century was not merely the age of Vitruvius; it was the age of Vecellio
    also. Every nation seems suddenly to have become interested in the dress
    of its neighbours. Europe began to investigate its own clothes, and the
    amount of books published on national costumes is quite extraordinary. At
    the beginning of the century the _Nuremberg Chronicle_, with its two
    thousand illustrations, reached its fifth edition, and before the century
    was over seventeen editions were published of Munster's _Cosmography_.
    Besides these two books there were also the works of Michael Colyns, of
    Hans Weigel, of Amman, and of Vecellio himself, all of them well
    illustrated, some of the drawings in Vecellio being probably from the
    hand of Titian.

    Nor was it merely from books and treatises that they acquired their
    knowledge. The development of the habit of foreign travel, the increased
    commercial intercourse between countries, and the frequency of diplomatic
    missions, gave every nation many opportunities of studying the various
    forms of contemporary dress. After the departure from England, for
    instance, of the ambassadors from the Czar, the Sultan and the Prince of
    Morocco, Henry the Eighth and his friends gave several masques in the
    strange attire of their visitors. Later on London saw, perhaps too
    often, the sombre splendour of the Spanish Court, and to Elizabeth came
    envoys from all lands, whose dress, Shakespeare tells us, had an
    important influence on English costume.--_The Truth of Masks_.


    Non, non, vous ne voulez pas cela. Vous me dites cela seulement pour me
    faire de la peine, parce que je vous ai regardee pendant toute la soiree.
    Eh! bien, oui. Je vous ai regardee pendant toute la soiree. Votre
    beaute m'a trouble. Votre beaute m'a terriblement trouble, et je vous ai
    trop regardee. Mais je ne le ferai plus. Il ne faut regarder ni les
    choses ni les personnes. Il ne faut regarder que dans les miroirs. Car
    les miroirs ne nous montrent que des masques . . . Oh! Oh! du vin! j'ai
    soif . . . Salome, Salome, soyons amis. Enfin, voyez . . . Qu'est-ce que
    je voulais dire? Qu'est-ce que c'etait? Ah! je m'en souviens! . . .
    Salome! Non, venez plus pres de moi. J'ai peur que vous ne m'entendiez
    pas . . . Salome, vous connaissez mes paons blancs, mes beaux paons
    blancs, qui se promenent dans le jardin entre les myrtes et les grands
    cypres. Leurs becs sont dores, et les grains qu'ils mangent sont dores
    aussi, et leurs pieds sont teints de pourpre. La pluie vient quand ils
    crient, et quand ils se pavanent la lune se montre au ciel. Ils vont
    deux a deux entre les cypres et les myrtes noirs et chacun a son esclave
    pour le soigner. Quelquefois ils volent a travers les arbres, et
    quelquefois ils couchent sur le gazon et autour de l'etang. Il n'y a pas
    dans le monde d'oiseaux si merveilleux. Il n'y a aucun roi du monde qui
    possede des oiseaux aussi merveilleux. Je suis sur que meme Cesar ne
    possede pas d'oiseaux aussi beaux. Eh bien! je vous donnerai cinquante
    de mes paons. Ils vous suivront partout, et au milieu d'eux vous serez
    comme la lune dans un grand nuage blanc . . . Je vous les donnerai tous.
    Je n'en ai que cent, et il n'y a aucun roi du monde qui possede des paons
    comme les miens, mais je vous les donnerai tous. Seulement, il faut me
    delier de ma parole et ne pas me demander ce que vous m'avez


    Salome, pensez a ce que vous faites. Cet homme vient peut-etre de Dieu.
    Je suis sur qu'il vient de Dieu. C'est un saint homme. Le doigt de Dieu
    l'a touche. Dieu a mis dans sa bouche des mots terribles. Dans le
    palais, comme dans le desert, Dieu est toujours avec lui . . . Au moins,
    c'est possible. On ne sait pas, mais il est possible que Dieu soit pour
    lui et avec lui. Aussi peut-etre que s'il mourrait, il m'arriverait un
    malheur. Enfin, il a dit que le jour ou il mourrait il arriverait un
    malheur a quelqu'un. Ce ne peut etre qu'a moi. Souvenez-vous, j'ai
    glisse dans le sang quand je suis entre ici. Aussi j'ai entendu un
    battement d'ailes dans l'air, un battement d'ailes gigantesques. Ce sont
    de tres mauvais presages. Et il y en avait d'autres. Je suis sur qu'il
    y en avait d'autres, quoique je ne les aie pas vus. Eh bien! Salome,
    vous ne voulez pas qu'un malheur m'arrive? Vous ne voulez pas


    Moi, je suis tres calme. Je suis tout a fait calme. Ecoutez. J'ai des
    bijoux caches ici que meme votre mere n'a jamais vus, des bijoux tout a
    fait extraordinaires. J'ai un collier de perles a quatre rangs. On
    dirait des lunes enchainees de rayons d'argent. On dirait cinquante
    lunes captives dans un filet d'or. Une reine l'a porte sur l'ivoire de
    ses seins. Toi, quand tu le porteras, tu seras aussi belle qu'une reine.
    J'ai des amethystes de deux especes. Une qui est noire comme le vin.
    L'autre qui est rouge comme du vin qu'on a colore avec de l'eau. J'ai
    des topazes jaunes comme les yeux des tigres, et des topazes roses comme
    les yeux des pigeons, et des topazes vertes comme les yeux des chats.
    J'ai des opales qui brulent toujours avec une flamme qui est tres froide,
    des opales qui attristent les esprits et ont peur des tenebres. J'ai des
    onyx semblables aux prunelles d'une morte. J'ai des selenites qui
    changent quand la lune change et deviennent pales quand elles voient le
    soleil. J'ai des saphirs grands comme des oeufs et bleus comme des
    fleurs bleues. La mer erre dedans, et la lune ne vient jamais troubler
    le bleu de ses flots. J'ai des chrysolithes et des beryls, j'ai des
    chrysoprases et des rubis, j'ai des sardonyx et des hyacinthes, et des
    calcedoines et je vous les donnerai tous, mais tous, et j'ajouterai
    d'autres choses. Le roi des Indes vient justement de m'envoyer quatre
    eventails faits de plumes de perroquets, et le roi de Numidie une robe
    faite de plumes d'autruche. J'ai un cristal qu'il n'est pas permis aux
    femmes de voir et que meme les jeunes hommes ne doivent regarder qu'apres
    avoir ete flagelles de verges. Dans un coffret de nacre j'ai trois
    turquoises merveilleuses. Quand on les porte sur le front on peut
    imaginer des choses qui n'existent pas, et quand on les porte dans la
    main on peut rendre les femmes steriles. Ce sont des tresors de grande
    valeur. Ce sont des tresors sans prix. Et ce n'est pas tout. Dans un
    coffret d'ebene j'ai deux coupes d'ambre qui ressemblent a des pommes
    d'or. Si un ennemi verse du poison dans ces coupes elles deviennent
    comme des pommes d'argent. Dans un coffret incruste d'ambre j'ai des
    sandales incrustees de verre. J'ai des manteaux qui viennent du pays des
    Seres et des bracelets garnis d'escarboucles et de jade qui viennent de
    la ville d'Euphrate. . . Enfin, que veux-tu, Salome? Dis-moi ce que tu
    desires et je te le donnerai. Je te donnerai tout ce que tu demanderas,
    sauf une chose. Je te donnerai tout ce que je possede, sauf une vie. Je
    te donnerai le manteau du grand pretre. Je te donnerai le voile du


    Ah! tu n'as pas voulu me laisser baiser ta bouche, Iokanaan. Eh bien! je
    la baiserai maintenant. Je la mordrai avec mes dents comme on mord un
    fruit mur. Oui, je baiserai ta bouche, Iokanaan. Je te l'ai dit, n'est-
    ce pas? je te l'ai dit. Eh bien! je la baiserai maintenant . . . Mais
    pourquoi ne me regardes-tu pas, Iokanaan? Tes yeux qui etaient si
    terribles, qui etaient si pleins de colere et de mepris, ils sont fermes
    maintenant. Pourquoi sont-ils fermes? Ouvre tes yeux! Souleve tes
    paupieres, Iokanaan. Pourquoi ne me regardes-tu pas? As-tu peur de moi,
    Iokanaan, que tu ne veux pas me regarder? . . . Et ta langue qui etait
    comme un serpent rouge dardant des poisons, elle ne remue plus, elle ne
    dit rien maintenant, Iokanaan, cette vipere rouge qui a vomi son venin
    sur moi. C'est etrange, n'est-ce pas? Comment se fait-il que la vipere
    rouge ne remue plus? . . . Tu n'as pas voulu de moi, Iokanaan. Tu m'as
    rejetee. Tu m'as dit des choses infames. Tu m'as traitee comme une
    courtisane, comme une prostituee, moi, Salome, fille d'Herodias,
    Princesse de Judee! Eh bien, Iokanaan, moi je vis encore, mais toi tu es
    mort et ta tete m'appartient. Je puis en faire ce que je veux. Je puis
    la jeter aux chiens et aux oiseaux de l'air. Ce que laisseront les
    chiens, les oiseaux de l'air le mangeront . . . Ah! Iokanaan, Iokanaan,
    tu as ete le seul homme que j'ai aime. Tous les autres hommes
    m'inspirent du degout. Mais, toi, tu etais beau. Ton corps etait une
    colonne d'ivoire sur un socle d'argent. C'etait un jardin plein de
    colombes et de lis d'argent. C'etait une tour d'argent ornee de
    boucliers d'ivoire. Il n'y avait rien au monde d'aussi blanc que ton
    corps. Il n'y avait rien au monde d'aussi noir que tes cheveux. Dans le
    monde tout entier il n'y avait rien d'aussi rouge que ta bouche. Ta voix
    etait un encensoir qui repandait d'etranges parfums, et quand je te
    regardais j'entendais une musique etrange! Ah! pourquoi ne m'as-tu pas
    regardee, Iokanaan? Derriere tes mains et tes blasphemes tu as cache ton
    visage. Tu as mis sur tes yeux le bandeau de celui qui veut voir son
    Dieu. Eh bien, tu l'as vu, ton Dieu, Iokanaan, mais moi, moi . . . tu ne
    m'as jamais vue. Si tu m'avais vue, tu m'aurais aimee. Moi, je t'ai vu,
    Iokanaan, et je t'ai aime. Oh! comme je t'ai aime. Je t'aime encore,
    Iokanaan. Je n'aime que toi . . . J'ai soif de ta beaute. J'ai faim de
    ton corps. Et ni le vin, ni les fruits ne peuvent apaiser mon desir. Que
    ferai-je, Iokanaan, maintenant? Ni les fleuves ni les grandes eaux, ne
    pourraient eteindre ma passion. J'etais une Princesse, tu m'as
    dedaignee. J'etais une vierge, tu m'as defloree. J'etais chaste, tu as
    rempli mes veines de feu . . . Ah! Ah! pourquoi ne m'as-tu pas regardee,
    Iokanaan? Si tu m'avais regardee tu m'aurais aimee. Je sais bien que tu
    m'aurais aimee, et le mystere de l'amour est plus grand que le mystere de
    la mort. Il ne faut regarder que l'amour.--_Salome_.


    All rare and costly materials had certainly a great fascination for him,
    and in his eagerness to procure them he had sent away many merchants,
    some to traffic for amber with the rough fisher-folk of the north seas,
    some to Egypt to look for that curious green turquoise which is found
    only in the tombs of kings, and is said to possess magical properties,
    some to Persia for silken carpets and painted pottery, and others to
    India to buy gauze and stained ivory, moonstones and bracelets of jade,
    sandal-wood and blue enamel and shawls of fine wool.

    But what had occupied him most was the robe he was to wear at his
    coronation, the robe of tissued gold, and the ruby-studded crown, and the
    sceptre with its rows and rings of pearls. Indeed, it was of this that
    he was thinking to-night, as he lay back on his luxurious couch, watching
    the great pinewood log that was burning itself out on the open hearth.
    The designs, which were from the hands of the most famous artists of the
    time, had been submitted to him many months before, and he had given
    orders that the artificers were to toil night and day to carry them out,
    and that the whole world was to be searched for jewels that would be
    worthy of their work. He saw himself in fancy standing at the high altar
    of the cathedral in the fair raiment of a King, and a smile played and
    lingered about his boyish lips, and lit up with a bright lustre his dark
    woodland eyes.

    After some time he rose from his seat, and leaning against the carved
    penthouse of the chimney, looked round at the dimly-lit room. The walls
    were hung with rich tapestries representing the Triumph of Beauty. A
    large press, inlaid with agate and lapis-lazuli, filled one corner, and
    facing the window stood a curiously wrought cabinet with lacquer panels
    of powdered and mosaiced gold, on which were placed some delicate goblets
    of Venetian glass, and a cup of dark-veined onyx. Pale poppies were
    broidered on the silk coverlet of the bed, as though they had fallen from
    the tired hands of sleep, and tall reeds of fluted ivory bare up the
    velvet canopy, from which great tufts of ostrich plumes sprang, like
    white foam, to the pallid silver of the fretted ceiling. A laughing
    Narcissus in green bronze held a polished mirror above its head. On the
    table stood a flat bowl of amethyst.

    Outside he could see the huge dome of the cathedral, looming like a
    bubble over the shadowy houses, and the weary sentinels pacing up and
    down on the misty terrace by the river. Far away, in an orchard, a
    nightingale was singing. A faint perfume of jasmine came through the
    open window. He brushed his brown curls back from his forehead, and
    taking up a lute, let his fingers stray across the cords. His heavy
    eyelids drooped, and a strange languor came over him. Never before had
    he felt so keenly, or with such exquisite joy, the magic and the mystery
    of beautiful things.

    When midnight sounded from the clock-tower he touched a bell, and his
    pages entered and disrobed him with much ceremony, pouring rose-water
    over his hands, and strewing flowers on his pillow. A few moments after
    that they had left the room, he fell asleep.--_The Young King_.


    And when the Bishop had heard them he knit his brows, and said, 'My son,
    I am an old man, and in the winter of my days, and I know that many evil
    things are done in the wide world. The fierce robbers come down from the
    mountains, and carry off the little children, and sell them to the Moors.
    The lions lie in wait for the caravans, and leap upon the camels. The
    wild boar roots up the corn in the valley, and the foxes gnaw the vines
    upon the hill. The pirates lay waste the sea-coast and burn the ships of
    the fishermen, and take their nets from them. In the salt-marshes live
    the lepers; they have houses of wattled reeds, and none may come nigh
    them. The beggars wander through the cities, and eat their food with the
    dogs. Canst thou make these things not to be? Wilt thou take the leper
    for thy bedfellow, and set the beggar at thy board? Shall the lion do
    thy bidding, and the wild boar obey thee? Is not He who made misery
    wiser than thou art? Wherefore I praise thee not for this that thou hast
    done, but I bid thee ride back to the Palace and make thy face glad, and
    put on the raiment that beseemeth a king, and with the crown of gold I
    will crown thee, and the sceptre of pearl will I place in thy hand. And
    as for thy dreams, think no more of them. The burden of this world is
    too great for one man to bear, and the world's sorrow too heavy for one
    heart to suffer.'

    'Sayest thou that in this house?' said the young King, and he strode past
    the Bishop, and climbed up the steps of the altar, and stood before the
    image of Christ.

    He stood before the image of Christ, and on his right hand and on his
    left were the marvellous vessels of gold, the chalice with the yellow
    wine, and the vial with the holy oil. He knelt before the image of
    Christ, and the great candles burned brightly by the jewelled shrine, and
    the smoke of the incense curled in thin blue wreaths through the dome. He
    bowed his head in prayer, and the priests in their stiff copes crept away
    from the altar.

    And suddenly a wild tumult came from the street outside, and in entered
    the nobles with drawn swords and nodding plumes, and shields of polished
    steel. 'Where is this dreamer of dreams?' they cried. 'Where is this
    King who is apparelled like a beggar--this boy who brings shame upon our
    state? Surely we will slay him, for he is unworthy to rule over us.'

    And the young King bowed his head again, and prayed, and when he had
    finished his prayer he rose up, and turning round he looked at them

    And lo! through the painted windows came the sunlight streaming upon him,
    and the sun-beams wove round him a tissued robe that was fairer than the
    robe that had been fashioned for his pleasure. The dead staff blossomed,
    and bare lilies that were whiter than pearls. The dry thorn blossomed,
    and bare roses that were redder than rubies. Whiter than fine pearls
    were the lilies, and their stems were of bright silver. Redder than male
    rubies were the roses, and their leaves were of beaten gold.

    He stood there in the raiment of a king, and the gates of the jewelled
    shrine flew open, and from the crystal of the many-rayed monstrance shone
    a marvellous and mystical light. He stood there in a king's raiment, and
    the Glory of God filled the place, and the saints in their carven niches
    seemed to move. In the fair raiment of a king he stood before them, and
    the organ pealed out its music, and the trumpeters blew upon their
    trumpets, and the singing boys sang.

    And the people fell upon their knees in awe, and the nobles sheathed
    their swords and did homage, and the Bishop's face grew pale, and his
    hands trembled. 'A greater than I hath crowned thee,' he cried, and he
    knelt before him.

    And the young King came down from the high altar, and passed home through
    the midst of the people. But no man dared look upon his face, for it was
    like the face of an angel.--_The Young King_.


    From a window in the palace the sad melancholy King watched them. Behind
    him stood his brother, Don Pedro of Aragon, whom he hated, and his
    confessor, the Grand Inquisitor of Granada, sat by his side. Sadder even
    than usual was the King, for as he looked at the Infanta bowing with
    childish gravity to the assembling counters, or laughing behind her fan
    at the grim Duchess of Albuquerque who always accompanied her, he thought
    of the young Queen, her mother, who but a short time before--so it seemed
    to him--had come from the gay country of France, and had withered away in
    the sombre splendour of the Spanish court, dying just six months after
    the birth of her child, and before she had seen the almonds blossom twice
    in the orchard, or plucked the second year's fruit from the old gnarled
    fig-tree that stood in the centre of the now grass-grown courtyard. So
    great had been his love for her that he had not suffered even the grave
    to hide her from him. She had been embalmed by a Moorish physician, who
    in return for this service had been granted his life, which for heresy
    and suspicion of magical practices had been already forfeited, men said,
    to the Holy Office, and her body was still lying on its tapestried bier
    in the black marble chapel of the Palace, just as the monks had borne her
    in on that windy March day nearly twelve years before. Once every month
    the King, wrapped in a dark cloak and with a muffled lantern in his hand,
    went in and knelt by her side calling out, '_Mi reina_! _Mi reina_!' and
    sometimes breaking through the formal etiquette that in Spain governs
    every separate action of life, and sets limits even to the sorrow of a
    King, he would clutch at the pale jewelled hands in a wild agony of
    grief, and try to wake by his mad kisses the cold painted face.

    To-day he seemed to see her again, as he had seen her first at the Castle
    of Fontainebleau, when he was but fifteen years of age, and she still
    younger. They had been formally betrothed on that occasion by the Papal
    Nuncio in the presence of the French King and all the Court, and he had
    returned to the Escurial bearing with him a little ringlet of yellow
    hair, and the memory of two childish lips bending down to kiss his hand
    as he stepped into his carriage. Later on had followed the marriage,
    hastily performed at Burgos, a small town on the frontier between the two
    countries, and the grand public entry into Madrid with the customary
    celebration of high mass at the Church of La Atocha, and a more than
    usually solemn _auto-da-fe_, in which nearly three hundred heretics,
    amongst whom were many Englishmen, had been delivered over to the secular
    arm to be burned.

    Certainly he had loved her madly, and to the ruin, many thought, of his
    country, then at war with England for the possession of the empire of the
    New World. He had hardly ever permitted her to be out of his sight; for
    her, he had forgotten, or seemed to have forgotten, all grave affairs of
    State; and, with that terrible blindness that passion brings upon its
    servants, he had failed to notice that the elaborate ceremonies by which
    he sought to please her did but aggravate the strange malady from which
    she suffered. When she died he was, for a time, like one bereft of
    reason. Indeed, there is no doubt but that he would have formally
    abdicated and retired to the great Trappist monastery at Granada, of
    which he was already titular Prior, had he not been afraid to leave the
    little Infanta at the mercy of his brother, whose cruelty, even in Spain,
    was notorious, and who was suspected by many of having caused the Queen's
    death by means of a pair of poisoned gloves that he had presented to her
    on the occasion of her visiting his castle in Aragon. Even after the
    expiration of the three years of public mourning that he had ordained
    throughout his whole dominions by royal edict, he would never suffer his
    ministers to speak about any new alliance, and when the Emperor himself
    sent to him, and offered him the hand of the lovely Archduchess of
    Bohemia, his niece, in marriage, he bade the ambassadors tell their
    master that the King of Spain was already wedded to Sorrow, and that
    though she was but a barren bride he loved her better than Beauty; an
    answer that cost his crown the rich provinces of the Netherlands, which
    soon after, at the Emperor's instigation, revolted against him under the
    leadership of some fanatics of the Reformed Church.--_The Birthday of the


    A procession of noble boys, fantastically dressed as _toreadors_, came
    out to meet her, and the young Count of Tierra-Nueva, a wonderfully
    handsome lad of about fourteen years of age, uncovering his head with all
    the grace of a born hidalgo and grandee of Spain, led her solemnly in to
    a little gilt and ivory chair that was placed on a raised dais above the
    arena. The children grouped themselves all round, fluttering their big
    fans and whispering to each other, and Don Pedro and the Grand Inquisitor
    stood laughing at the entrance. Even the Duchess--the Camerera-Mayor as
    she was called--a thin, hard-featured woman with a yellow ruff, did not
    look quite so bad-tempered as usual, and something like a chill smile
    flitted across her wrinkled face and twitched her thin bloodless lips.

    It certainly was a marvellous bull-fight, and much nicer, the Infanta
    thought, than the real bull-fight that she had been brought to see at
    Seville, on the occasion of the visit of the Duke of Parma to her father.
    Some of the boys pranced about on richly-caparisoned hobby-horses
    brandishing long javelins with gay streamers of bright ribands attached
    to them; others went on foot waving their scarlet cloaks before the bull,
    and vaulting lightly over the barrier when he charged them; and as for
    the bull himself, he was just like a live bull, though he was only made
    of wicker-work and stretched hide, and sometimes insisted on running
    round the arena on his hind legs, which no live bull ever dreams of
    doing. He made a splendid fight of it too, and the children got so
    excited that they stood up upon the benches, and waved their lace
    handkerchiefs and cried out: _Bravo toro_! _Bravo toro_! just as
    sensibly as if they had been grown-up people. At last, however, after a
    prolonged combat, during which several of the hobby-horses were gored
    through and through, and, their riders dismounted, the young Count of
    Tierra-Nueva brought the bull to his knees, and having obtained
    permission from the Infanta to give the _coup de grace_, he plunged his
    wooden sword into the neck of the animal with such violence that the head
    came right off, and disclosed the laughing face of little Monsieur de
    Lorraine, the son of the French Ambassador at Madrid.

    The arena was then cleared amidst much applause, and the dead
    hobby-horses dragged solemnly away by two Moorish pages in yellow and
    black liveries, and after a short interlude, during which a French
    posture-master performed upon the tightrope, some Italian puppets
    appeared in the semi-classical tragedy of _Sophonisba_ on the stage of a
    small theatre that had been built up for the purpose. They acted so
    well, and their gestures were so extremely natural, that at the close of
    the play the eyes of the Infanta were quite dim with tears. Indeed some
    of the children really cried, and had to be comforted with sweetmeats,
    and the Grand Inquisitor himself was so affected that he could not help
    saying to Don Pedro that it seemed to him intolerable that things made
    simply out of wood and coloured wax, and worked mechanically by wires,
    should be so unhappy and meet with such terrible misfortunes.--_The
    Birthday of the Infanta_.


    It was a throne-room, used for the reception of foreign ambassadors, when
    the King, which of late had not been often, consented to give them a
    personal audience; the same room in which, many years before, envoys had
    appeared from England to make arrangements for the marriage of their
    Queen, then one of the Catholic sovereigns of Europe, with the Emperor's
    eldest son. The hangings were of gilt Cordovan leather, and a heavy gilt
    chandelier with branches for three hundred wax lights hung down from the
    black and white ceiling. Underneath a great canopy of gold cloth, on
    which the lions and towers of Castile were broidered in seed pearls,
    stood the throne itself, covered with a rich pall of black velvet studded
    with silver tulips and elaborately fringed with silver and pearls. On
    the second step of the throne was placed the kneeling-stool of the
    Infanta, with its cushion of cloth of silver tissue, and below that
    again, and beyond the limit of the canopy, stood the chair for the Papal
    Nuncio, who alone had the right to be seated in the King's presence on
    the occasion of any public ceremonial, and whose Cardinal's hat, with its
    tangled scarlet tassels, lay on a purple _tabouret_ in front. On the
    wall, facing the throne, hung a life-sized portrait of Charles V. in
    hunting dress, with a great mastiff by his side, and a picture of Philip
    II. receiving the homage of the Netherlands occupied the centre of the
    other wall. Between the windows stood a black ebony cabinet, inlaid with
    plates of ivory, on which the figures from Holbein's Dance of Death had
    been graved--by the hand, some said, of that famous master himself.

    But the little Dwarf cared nothing for all this magnificence. He would
    not have given his rose for all the pearls on the canopy, nor one white
    petal of his rose for the throne itself. What he wanted was to see the
    Infanta before she went down to the pavilion, and to ask her to come away
    with him when he had finished his dance. Here, in the Palace, the air
    was close and heavy, but in the forest the wind blew free, and the
    sunlight with wandering hands of gold moved the tremulous leaves aside.
    There were flowers, too, in the forest, not so splendid, perhaps, as the
    flowers in the garden, but more sweetly scented for all that; hyacinths
    in early spring that flooded with waving purple the cool glens, and
    grassy knolls; yellow primroses that nestled in little clumps round the
    gnarled roots of the oak-trees; bright celandine, and blue speedwell, and
    irises lilac and gold. There were grey catkins on the hazels, and the
    foxgloves drooped with the weight of their dappled bee-haunted cells. The
    chestnut had its spires of white stars, and the hawthorn its pallid moons
    of beauty. Yes: surely she would come if he could only find her! She
    would come with him to the fair forest, and all day long he would dance
    for her delight. A smile lit up his eyes at the thought, and he passed
    into the next room.

    Of all the rooms this was the brightest and the most beautiful. The
    walls were covered with a pink-flowered Lucca damask, patterned with
    birds and dotted with dainty blossoms of silver; the furniture was of
    massive silver, festooned with florid wreaths, and swinging Cupids; in
    front of the two large fire-places stood great screens broidered with
    parrots and peacocks, and the floor, which was of sea-green onyx, seemed
    to stretch far away into the distance. Nor was he alone. Standing under
    the shadow of the doorway, at the extreme end of the room, he saw a
    little figure watching him. His heart trembled, a cry of joy broke from
    his lips, and he moved out into the sunlight. As he did so, the figure
    moved out also, and he saw it plainly.--_The Birthday of the Infanta_.


    'The kings of each city levied tolls on us, but would not suffer us to
    enter their gates. They threw us bread over the walls, little
    maize-cakes baked in honey and cakes of fine flour filled with dates. For
    every hundred baskets we gave them a bead of amber.

    'When the dwellers in the villages saw us coming, they poisoned the wells
    and fled to the hill-summits. We fought with the Magadae who are born
    old, and grow younger and younger every year, and die when they are
    little children; and with the Laktroi who say that they are the sons of
    tigers, and paint themselves yellow and black; and with the Aurantes who
    bury their dead on the tops of trees, and themselves live in dark caverns
    lest the Sun, who is their god, should slay them; and with the Krimnians
    who worship a crocodile, and give it earrings of green glass, and feed it
    with butter and fresh fowls; and with the Agazonbae, who are dog-faced;
    and with the Sibans, who have horses' feet, and run more swiftly than
    horses. A third of our company died in battle, and a third died of want.
    The rest murmured against me, and said that I had brought them an evil
    fortune. I took a horned adder from beneath a stone and let it sting me.
    When they saw that I did not sicken they grew afraid.

    'In the fourth month we reached the city of Illel. It was night-time
    when we came to the grove that is outside the walls, and the air was
    sultry, for the Moon was travelling in Scorpion. We took the ripe
    pomegranates from the trees, and brake them, and drank their sweet
    juices. Then we lay down on our carpets, and waited for the dawn.

    'And at dawn we rose and knocked at the gate of the city. It was wrought
    out of red bronze, and carved with sea-dragons and dragons that have
    wings. The guards looked down from the battlements and asked us our
    business. The interpreter of the caravan answered that we had come from
    the island of Syria with much merchandise. They took hostages, and told
    us that they would open the gate to us at noon, and bade us tarry till

    'When it was noon they opened the gate, and as we entered in the people
    came crowding out of the houses to look at us, and a crier went round the
    city crying through a shell. We stood in the market-place, and the
    negroes uncorded the bales of figured cloths and opened the carved chests
    of sycamore. And when they had ended their task, the merchants set forth
    their strange wares, the waxed linen from Egypt and the painted linen
    from the country of the Ethiops, the purple sponges from Tyre and the
    blue hangings from Sidon, the cups of cold amber and the fine vessels of
    glass and the curious vessels of burnt clay. From the roof of a house a
    company of women watched us. One of them wore a mask of gilded leather.

    'And on the first day the priests came and bartered with us, and on the
    second day came the nobles, and on the third day came the craftsmen and
    the slaves. And this is their custom with all merchants as long as they
    tarry in the city.

    'And we tarried for a moon, and when the moon was waning, I wearied and
    wandered away through the streets of the city and came to the garden of
    its god. The priests in their yellow robes moved silently through the
    green trees, and on a pavement of black marble stood the rose-red house
    in which the god had his dwelling. Its doors were of powdered lacquer,
    and bulls and peacocks were wrought on them in raised and polished gold.
    The tilted roof was of sea-green porcelain, and the jutting eaves were
    festooned with little bells. When the white doves flew past, they struck
    the bells with their wings and made them tinkle.

    'In front of the temple was a pool of clear water paved with veined onyx.
    I lay down beside it, and with my pale fingers I touched the broad
    leaves. One of the priests came towards me and stood behind me. He had
    sandals on his feet, one of soft serpent-skin and the other of birds'
    plumage. On his head was a mitre of black felt decorated with silver
    crescents. Seven yellows were woven into his robe, and his frizzed hair
    was stained with antimony.

    'After a little while he spake to me, and asked me my desire.

    'I told him that my desire was to see the god.'--_The Fisherman and His


    'As soon as the man was dead the Emperor turned to me, and when he had
    wiped away the bright sweat from his brow with a little napkin of purfled
    and purple silk, he said to me, "Art thou a prophet, that I may not harm
    thee, or the son of a prophet, that I can do thee no hurt? I pray thee
    leave my city to-night, for while thou art in it I am no longer its

    'And I answered him, "I will go for half of thy treasure. Give me half
    of thy treasure, and I will go away."

    'He took me by the hand, and led me out into the garden. When the
    captain of the guard saw me, he wondered. When the eunuchs saw me, their
    knees shook and they fell upon the ground in fear.

    'There is a chamber in the palace that has eight walls of red porphyry,
    and a brass-sealed ceiling hung with lamps. The Emperor touched one of
    the walls and it opened, and we passed down a corridor that was lit with
    many torches. In niches upon each side stood great wine-jars filled to
    the brim with silver pieces. When we reached the centre of the corridor
    the Emperor spake the word that may not be spoken, and a granite door
    swung back on a secret spring, and he put his hands before his face lest
    his eyes should be dazzled.

    'Thou couldst not believe how marvellous a place it was. There were huge
    tortoise-shells full of pearls, and hollowed moonstones of great size
    piled up with red rubies. The gold was stored in coffers of elephant-
    hide, and the gold-dust in leather bottles. There were opals and
    sapphires, the former in cups of crystal, and the latter in cups of jade.
    Round green emeralds were ranged in order upon thin plates of ivory, and
    in one corner were silk bags filled, some with turquoise-stones, and
    others with beryls. The ivory horns were heaped with purple amethysts,
    and the horns of brass with chalcedonies and sards. The pillars, which
    were of cedar, were hung with strings of yellow lynx-stones. In the flat
    oval shields there were carbuncles, both wine-coloured and coloured like
    grass. And yet I have told thee but a tithe of what was there.

    'And when the Emperor had taken away his hands from before his face he
    said to me: "This is my house of treasure, and half that is in it is
    thine, even as I promised to thee. And I will give thee camels and camel
    drivers, and they shall do thy bidding and take thy share of the treasure
    to whatever part of the world thou desirest to go. And the thing shall
    be done to-night, for I would not that the Sun, who is my father, should
    see that there is in my city a man whom I cannot slay."

    'But I answered him, "The gold that is here is thine, and the silver also
    is thine, and thine are the precious jewels and the things of price. As
    for me, I have no need of these. Nor shall I take aught from thee but
    that little ring that thou wearest on the finger of thy hand."

    'And the Emperor frowned. "It is but a ring of lead," he cried, "nor has
    it any value. Therefore take thy half of the treasure and go from my

    '"Nay," I answered, "but I will take nought but that leaden ring, for I
    know what is written within it, and for what purpose."

    'And the Emperor trembled, and besought me and said, "Take all the
    treasure and go from my city. The half that is mine shall be thine

    'And I did a strange thing, but what I did matters not, for in a cave
    that is but a day's journey from this place have, I hidden the Ring of
    Riches. It is but a day's journey from this place, and it waits for thy
    coming. He who has this Ring is richer than all the kings of the world.
    Come therefore and take it, and the world's riches shall be thine.'--_The
    Fisherman and His Soul_.


    Where he went he hardly knew. He had a dim memory of wandering through a
    labyrinth of sordid houses, of being lost in a giant web of sombre
    streets, and it was bright dawn when he found himself at last in
    Piccadilly Circus. As he strolled home towards Belgrave Square, he met
    the great waggons on their way to Covent Garden. The white-smocked
    carters, with their pleasant sunburnt faces and coarse curly hair, strode
    sturdily on, cracking their whips, and calling out now and then to each
    other; on the back of a huge grey horse, the leader of a jangling team,
    sat a chubby boy, with a bunch of primroses in his battered hat, keeping
    tight hold of the mane with his little hands, and laughing; and the great
    piles of vegetables looked like masses of jade against the morning sky,
    like masses of green jade against the pink petals of some marvellous
    rose. Lord Arthur felt curiously affected, he could not tell why. There
    was something in the dawn's delicate loveliness that seemed to him
    inexpressibly pathetic, and he thought of all the days that break in
    beauty, and that set in storm. These rustics, too, with their rough,
    good-humoured voices, and their nonchalant ways, what a strange London
    they saw! A London free from the sin of night and the smoke of day, a
    pallid, ghost-like city, a desolate town of tombs! He wondered what they
    thought of it, and whether they knew anything of its splendour and its
    shame, of its fierce, fiery-coloured joys, and its horrible hunger, of
    all it makes and mars from morn to eve. Probably it was to them merely a
    mart where they brought their fruits to sell, and where they tarried for
    a few hours at most, leaving the streets still silent, the houses still
    asleep. It gave him pleasure to watch them as they went by. Rude as
    they were, with their heavy, hob-nailed shoes, and their awkward gait,
    they brought a little of a ready with them. He felt that they had lived
    with Nature, and that she had taught them peace. He envied them all that
    they did not know.

    By the time he had reached Belgrave Square the sky was a faint blue, and
    the birds were beginning to twitter in the gardens.--_Lord Arthur
    Savile's Crime_.



    27_th May_.

    My Dearest Aunt,

    Thank you so much for the flannel for the Dorcas Society, and also for
    the gingham. I quite agree with you that it is nonsense their wanting to
    wear pretty things, but everybody is so Radical and irreligious nowadays,
    that it is difficult to make them see that they should not try and dress
    like the upper classes. I am sure I don't know what we are coming to. As
    papa has often said in his sermons, we live in an age of unbelief.

    We have had great fun over a clock that an unknown admirer sent papa last
    Thursday. It arrived in a wooden box from London, carriage paid, and
    papa feels it must have been sent by some one who had read his remarkable
    sermon, 'Is Licence Liberty?' for on the top of the clock was a figure of
    a woman, with what papa said was the cap of Liberty on her head. I
    didn't think it very becoming myself, but papa said it was historical, so
    I suppose it is all right. Parker unpacked it, and papa put it on the
    mantelpiece in the library, and we were all sitting there on Friday
    morning, when just as the clock struck twelve, we heard a whirring noise,
    a little puff of smoke came from the pedestal of the figure, and the
    goddess of Liberty fell off, and broke her nose on the fender! Maria was
    quite alarmed, but it looked so ridiculous, that James and I went off
    into fits of laughter, and even papa was amused. When we examined it, we
    found it was a sort of alarum clock, and that, if you set it to a
    particular hour, and put some gunpowder and a cap under a little hammer,
    it went off whenever you wanted. Papa said it must not remain in the
    library, as it made a noise, so Reggie carried it away to the schoolroom,
    and does nothing but have small explosions all day long. Do you think
    Arthur would like one for a wedding present? I suppose they are quite
    fashionable in London. Papa says they should do a great deal of good, as
    they show that Liberty can't last, but must fall down. Papa says Liberty
    was invented at the time of the French Revolution. How awful it seems!

    I have now to go to the Dorcas, where I will read them your most
    instructive letter. How true, dear aunt, your idea is, that in their
    rank of life they should wear what is unbecoming. I must say it is
    absurd, their anxiety about dress, when there are so many more important
    things in this world, and in the next. I am so glad your flowered poplin
    turned out so well, and that your lace was not torn. I am wearing my
    yellow satin, that you so kindly gave me, at the Bishop's on Wednesday,
    and think it will look all right. Would you have bows or not? Jennings
    says that every one wears bows now, and that the underskirt should be
    frilled. Reggie has just had another explosion, and papa has ordered the
    clock to be sent to the stables. I don't think papa likes it so much as
    he did at first, though he is very flattered at being sent such a pretty
    and ingenious toy. It shows that people read his sermons, and profit by

    Papa sends his love, in which James, and Reggie, and Maria all unite,
    and, hoping that Uncle Cecil's gout is better, believe me, dear aunt,
    ever your affectionate niece,


    PS.--Do tell me about the bows. Jennings insists they are the
    fashion.--_Lord Arthur Savile's Crime_.


    At half-past ten he heard the family going to bed. For some time he was
    disturbed by wild shrieks of laughter from the twins, who, with the light-
    hearted gaiety of schoolboys, were evidently amusing themselves before
    they retired to rest, but at a quarter past eleven all was still, and, as
    midnight sounded, he sallied forth. The owl beat against the window
    panes, the raven croaked from the old yew-tree, and the wind wandered
    moaning round the house like a lost soul; but the Otis family slept
    unconscious of their doom, and high above the rain and storm he could
    hear the steady snoring of the Minister for the United States. He
    stepped stealthily out of the wainscoting, with an evil smile on his
    cruel, wrinkled mouth, and the moon hid her face in a cloud as he stole
    past the great oriel window, where his own arms and those of his murdered
    wife were blazoned in azure and gold. On and on he glided, like an evil
    shadow, the very darkness seeming to loathe him as he passed. Once he
    thought he heard something call, and stopped; but it was only the baying
    of a dog from the Red Farm, and he went on, muttering strange sixteenth-
    century curses, and ever and anon brandishing the rusty dagger in the
    midnight air. Finally he reached the corner of the passage that led to
    luckless Washington's room. For a moment he paused there, the wind
    blowing his long grey locks about his head, and twisting into grotesque
    and fantastic folds the nameless horror of the dead man's shroud. Then
    the clock struck the quarter, and he felt the time was come. He chuckled
    to himself, and turned the corner; but no sooner had he done so, than,
    with a piteous wail of terror, he fell back, and hid his blanched face in
    his long, bony hands. Right in front of him was standing a horrible
    spectre, motionless as a carven image, and monstrous as a madman's dream!
    Its head was bald and burnished; its face round, and fat, and white; and
    hideous laughter seemed to have writhed its features into an eternal
    grin. From the eyes streamed rays of scarlet light, the mouth was a wide
    well of fire, and a hideous garment, like to his own, swathed with its
    silent snows the Titan form. On its breast was a placard with strange
    writing in antique characters, some scroll of shame it seemed, some
    record of wild sins, some awful calendar of crime, and, with its right
    hand, it bore aloft a falchion of gleaming steel.

    Never having seen a ghost before, he naturally was terribly frightened,
    and, after a second hasty glance at the awful phantom, he fled back to
    his room, tripping up in his long winding-sheet as he sped down the
    corridor, and finally dropping the rusty dagger into the Minister's jack-
    boots, where it was found in the morning by the butler. Once in the
    privacy of his own apartment, he flung himself down on a small pallet-
    bed, and hid his face under the clothes. After a time, however, the
    brave old Canterville spirit asserted itself, and he determined to go and
    speak to the other ghost as soon as it was daylight. Accordingly, just
    as the dawn was touching the hills with silver, he returned towards the
    spot where he had first laid eyes on the grisly phantom, feeling that,
    after all, two ghosts were better than one, and that, by the aid of his
    new friend, he might safely grapple with the twins. On reaching the
    spot, however, a terrible sight met his gaze. Something had evidently
    happened to the spectre, for the light had entirely faded from its hollow
    eyes, the gleaming falchion had fallen from its hand, and it was leaning
    up against the wall in a strained and uncomfortable attitude. He rushed
    forward and seized it in his arms, when, to his horror, the head slipped
    off and rolled on the floor, the body assumed a recumbent posture, and he
    found himself clasping a white dimity bed-curtain, with a sweeping-brush,
    a kitchen cleaver, and a hollow turnip lying at his feet!--_The
    Canterville Ghost_.


    'Far away beyond the pine-woods,' he answered, in a low dreamy voice,
    'there is a little garden. There the grass grows long and deep, there
    are the great white stars of the hemlock flower, there the nightingale
    sings all night long. All night long he sings, and the cold, crystal
    moon looks down, and the yew-tree spreads out its giant arms over the

    Virginia's eyes grew dim with tears, and she hid her face in her hands.

    'You mean the Garden of Death,' she whispered.

    'Yes, Death. Death must be so beautiful. To lie in the soft brown
    earth, with the grasses waving above one's head, and listen to silence.
    To have no yesterday, and no to-morrow. To forget time, to forgive life,
    to be at peace. You can help me. You can open for me the portals of
    Death's house, for Love is always with you, and Love is stronger than
    Death is.'

    Virginia trembled, a cold shudder ran through her, and for a few moments
    there was silence. She felt as if she was in a terrible dream.

    Then the Ghost spoke again, and his voice sounded like the sighing of the

    'Have you ever read the old prophecy on the library window?'

    'Oh, often,' cried the little girl, looking up; 'I know it quite well. It
    is painted in curious black letters, and it is difficult to read. There
    are only six lines:

    When a golden girl can win
    Prayer from out the lips of sin,
    When the barren almond bears,
    And a little child gives away its tears,
    Then shall all the house be still
    And peace come to Canterville.

    But I don't know what they mean.'

    'They mean,' he said sadly, 'that you must weep for me for my sins,
    because I have no tears, and pray with me for my soul, because I have no
    faith, and then, if you have always been sweet, and good, and gentle, the
    Angel of Death will have mercy on me. You will see fearful shapes in
    darkness, and wicked voices will whisper in your ear, but they will not
    harm you, for against the purity of a little child the powers of Hell
    cannot prevail.'

    Virginia made no answer, and the Ghost wrung his hands in wild despair as
    he looked down at her bowed golden head. Suddenly she stood up, very
    pale, and with a strange light in her eyes. 'I am not afraid,' she said
    firmly, 'and I will ask the Angel to have mercy on you.'

    He rose from his seat with a faint cry of joy, and taking her hand bent
    over it with old-fashioned grace and kissed it. His fingers were as cold
    as ice, and his lips burned like fire, but Virginia did not falter, as he
    led her across the dusky room. On the faded green tapestry were
    broidered little huntsmen. They blew their tasselled horns and with
    their tiny hands waved to her to go back. 'Go back! little Virginia,'
    they cried, 'go back!' but the Ghost clutched her hand more tightly, and
    she shut her eyes against them. Horrible animals with lizard tails, and
    goggle eyes, blinked at her from the carven chimney-piece, and murmured
    'Beware! little Virginia, beware! we may never see you again,' but the
    Ghost glided on more swiftly, and Virginia did not listen. When they
    reached the end of the room he stopped, and muttered some words she could
    not understand. She opened her eyes, and saw the wall slowly fading away
    like a mist, and a great black cavern in front of her. A bitter cold
    wind swept round them, and she felt something pulling at her dress.
    'Quick, quick,' cried the Ghost, 'or it will be too late,' and, in a
    moment, the wainscoting had closed behind them, and the Tapestry Chamber
    was empty.--_The Canterville Ghost_.


    "Well," said Erskine, lighting a cigarette, "I must begin by telling you
    about Cyril Graham himself. He and I were at the same house at Eton. I
    was a year or two older than he was, but we were immense friends, and did
    all our work and all our play together. There was, of course, a good
    deal more play than work, but I cannot say that I am sorry for that. It
    is always an advantage not to have received a sound commercial education,
    and what I learned in the playing fields at Eton has been quite as useful
    to me as anything I was taught at Cambridge. I should tell you that
    Cyril's father and mother were both dead. They had been drowned in a
    horrible yachting accident off the Isle of Wight. His father had been in
    the diplomatic service, and had married a daughter, the only daughter, in
    fact, of old Lord Crediton, who became Cyril's guardian after the death
    of his parents. I don't think that Lord Crediton cared very much for
    Cyril. He had never really forgiven his daughter for marrying a man who
    had not a title. He was an extraordinary old aristocrat, who swore like
    a costermonger, and had the manners of a farmer. I remember seeing him
    once on Speech-day. He growled at me, gave me a sovereign, and told me
    not to grow up 'a damned Radical' like my father. Cyril had very little
    affection for him, and was only too glad to spend most of his holidays
    with us in Scotland. They never really got on together at all. Cyril
    thought him a bear, and he thought Cyril effeminate. He was effeminate,
    I suppose, in some things, though he was a very good rider and a capital
    fencer. In fact he got the foils before he left Eton. But he was very
    languid in his manner, and not a little vain of his good looks, and had a
    strong objection to football. The two things that really gave him
    pleasure were poetry and acting. At Eton he was always dressing up and
    reciting Shakespeare, and when he went up to Trinity he became a member
    of the A.D.C. his first term. I remember I was always very jealous of
    his acting. I was absurdly devoted to him; I suppose because we were so
    different in some things. I was a rather awkward, weakly lad, with huge
    feet, and horribly freckled. Freckles run in Scotch families just as
    gout does in English families. Cyril used to say that of the two he
    preferred the gout; but he always set an absurdly high value on personal
    appearance, and once read a paper before our debating society to prove
    that it was better to be good-looking than to be good. He certainly was
    wonderfully handsome. People who did not like him, Philistines and
    college tutors, and young men reading for the Church, used to say that he
    was merely pretty; but there was a great deal more in his face than mere
    prettiness. I think he was the most splendid creature I ever saw, and
    nothing could exceed the grace of his movements, the charm of his manner.
    He fascinated everybody who was worth fascinating, and a great many
    people who were not. He was often wilful and petulant, and I used to
    think him dreadfully insincere. It was due, I think, chiefly to his
    inordinate desire to please. Poor Cyril! I told him once that he was
    contented with very cheap triumphs, but he only laughed. He was horribly
    spoiled. All charming people, I fancy, are spoiled. It is the secret of
    their attraction.

    "However, I must tell you about Cyril's acting. You know that no
    actresses are allowed to play at the A.D.C. At least they were not in my
    time. I don't know how it is now. Well, of course, Cyril was always
    cast for the girls' parts, and when _As You Like It_ was produced he
    played Rosalind. It was a marvellous performance. In fact, Cyril Graham
    was the only perfect Rosalind I have ever seen. It would be impossible
    to describe to you the beauty, the delicacy, the refinement of the whole
    thing. It made an immense sensation, and the horrid little theatre, as
    it was then, was crowded every night. Even when I read the play now I
    can't help thinking of Cyril. It might have been written for him. The
    next term he took his degree, and came to London to read for the
    diplomatic. But he never did any work. He spent his days in reading
    Shakespeare's Sonnets, and his evenings at the theatre. He was, of
    course, wild to go on the stage. It was all that I and Lord Crediton
    could do to prevent him. Perhaps if he had gone on the stage he would be
    alive now. It is always a silly thing to give advice, but to give good
    advice is absolutely fatal. I hope you will never fall into that error.
    If you do, you will be sorry for it."--_The Portrait of Mr. W. H_.


    Lady Windermere, before Heaven your husband is guiltless of all offence
    towards you! And I--I tell you that had it ever occurred to me that such
    a monstrous suspicion would have entered your mind, I would have died
    rather than have crossed your life or his--oh! died, gladly died! Believe
    what you choose about me. I am not worth a moment's sorrow. But don't
    spoil your beautiful young life on my account! You don't know what may
    be in store for you, unless you leave this house at once. You don't know
    what it is to fall into the pit, to be despised, mocked, abandoned,
    sneered at--to be an outcast! to find the door shut against one, to have
    to creep in by hideous byways, afraid every moment lest the mask should
    be stripped from one's face, and all the while to hear the laughter, the
    horrible laughter of the world, a thing more tragic than all the tears
    the world has ever shed. You don't know what it is. One pays for one's
    sin, and then one pays again, and all one's life one pays. You must
    never know that.--As for me, if suffering be an expiation, then at this
    moment I have expiated all my faults, whatever they have been; for to-
    night you have made a heart in one who had it not, made it and broken
    it.--But let that pass. I may have wrecked my own life, but I will not
    let you wreck yours. You--why, you are a mere girl, you would be lost.
    You haven't got the kind of brains that enables a woman to get back. You
    have neither the wit nor the courage. You couldn't stand dishonour! No!
    Go back, Lady Windermere, to the husband who loves you, whom you love.
    You have a child, Lady Windermere. Go back to that child who even now,
    in pain or in joy, may be calling to you. God gave you that child. He
    will require from you that you make his life fine, that you watch over
    him. What answer will you make to God if his life is ruined through you?
    Back to your house, Lady Windermere--your husband loves you! He has
    never swerved for a moment from the love he bears you. But even if he
    had a thousand loves, you must stay with your child. If he was harsh to
    you, you must stay with your child. If he ill-treated you, you must stay
    with your child. If he abandoned you, your place is with your
    child.--_Lady Windermere's Fan_.


    Men don't understand what mothers are. I am no different from other
    women except in the wrong done me and the wrong I did, and my very heavy
    punishments and great disgrace. And yet, to bear you I had to look on
    death. To nurture you I had to wrestle with it. Death fought with me
    for you. All women have to fight with death to keep their children.
    Death, being childless, wants our children from us. Gerald, when you
    were naked I clothed you, when you were hungry I gave you food. Night
    and day all that long winter I tended you. No office is too mean, no
    care too lowly for the thing we women love--and oh! how _I_ loved _you_.
    Not Hannah, Samuel more. And you needed love, for you were weakly, and
    only love could have kept you alive. Only love can keep any one alive.
    And boys are careless often and without thinking give pain, and we always
    fancy that when they come to man's estate and know us better they will
    repay us. But it is not so. The world draws them from our side, and
    they make friends with whom they are happier than they are with us, and
    have amusements from which we are barred, and interests that are not
    ours: and they are unjust to us often, for when they find life bitter
    they blame us for it, and when they find it sweet we do not taste its
    sweetness with them . . . You made many friends and went into their
    houses and were glad with them, and I, knowing my secret, did not dare to
    follow, but stayed at home and closed the door, shut out the sun and sat
    in darkness. What should I have done in honest households? My past was
    ever with me. . . . And you thought I didn't care for the pleasant things
    of life. I tell you I longed for them, but did not dare to touch them,
    feeling I had no right. You thought I was happier working amongst the
    poor. That was my mission, you imagined. It was not, but where else was
    I to go? The sick do not ask if the hand that smooths their pillow is
    pure, nor the dying care if the lips that touch their brow have known the
    kiss of sin. It was you I thought of all the time; I gave to them the
    love you did not need: lavished on them a love that was not theirs . . .
    And you thought I spent too much of my time in going to Church, and in
    Church duties. But where else could I turn? God's house is the only
    house where sinners are made welcome, and you were always in my heart,
    Gerald, too much in my heart. For, though day after day, at morn or
    evensong, I have knelt in God's house, I have never repented of my sin.
    How could I repent of my sin when you, my love, were its fruit! Even now
    that you are bitter to me I cannot repent. I do not. You are more to me
    than innocence. I would rather be your mother--oh! much rather!--than
    have been always pure . . . Oh, don't you see? don't you understand? It
    is my dishonour that has made you so dear to me. It is my disgrace that
    has bound you so closely to me. It is the price I paid for you--the
    price of soul and body--that makes me love you as I do. Oh, don't ask me
    to do this horrible thing. Child of my shame, be still the child of my
    shame!--_A Woman of No Importance_.


    Why can't you women love us, faults and all? Why do you place us on
    monstrous pedestals? We have all feet of clay, women as well as men; but
    when we men love women, we love them knowing their weaknesses, their
    follies, their imperfections, love them all the more, it may be, for that
    reason. It is not the perfect, but the imperfect, who have need of love.
    It is when we are wounded by our own hands, or by the hands of others,
    that love should come to cure us--else what use is love at all? All
    sins, except a sin against itself, Love should forgive. All lives, save
    loveless lives, true Love should pardon. A man's love is like that. It
    is wider, larger, more human than a woman's. Women think that they are
    making ideals of men. What they are making of us are false idols merely.
    You made your false idol of me, and I had not the courage to come down,
    show you my wounds, tell you my weaknesses. I was afraid that I might
    lose your love, as I have lost it now. And so, last night you ruined my
    life for me--yes, ruined it! What this woman asked of me was nothing
    compared to what she offered to me. She offered security, peace,
    stability. The sin of my youth, that I had thought was buried, rose up
    in front of me, hideous, horrible, with its hands at my throat. I could
    have killed it for ever, sent it back into its tomb, destroyed its
    record, burned the one witness against me. You prevented me. No one but
    you, you know it. And now what is there before me but public disgrace,
    ruin, terrible shame, the mockery of the world, a lonely dishonoured
    life, a lonely dishonoured death, it may be, some day? Let women make no
    more ideals of men! let them not put them on alters and bow before them,
    or they may ruin other lives as completely as you--you whom I have so
    wildly loved--have ruined mine!--_An Ideal Husband_.


    Nations may not have missions but they certainly have functions. And the
    function of ancient Italy was not merely to give us what is statical in
    our institutions and rational in our law, but to blend into one elemental
    creed the spiritual aspirations of Aryan and of Semite. Italy was not a
    pioneer in intellectual progress, nor a motive power in the evolution of
    thought. The owl of the goddess of Wisdom traversed over the whole land
    and found nowhere a resting-place. The dove, which is the bird of
    Christ, flew straight to the city of Rome and the new reign began. It
    was the fashion of early Italian painters to represent in mediaeval
    costume the soldiers who watched over the tomb of Christ, and this, which
    was the result of the frank anachronism of all true art, may serve to us
    as an allegory. For it was in vain that the Middle Ages strove to guard
    the buried spirit of progress. When the dawn of the Greek spirit arose,
    the sepulchre was empty, the grave-clothes laid aside. Humanity had
    risen from the dead.

    The study of Greek, it has been well said, implies the birth of
    criticism, comparison and research. At the opening of that education of
    modern by ancient thought which we call the Renaissance, it was the words
    of Aristotle which sent Columbus sailing to the New World, while a
    fragment of Pythagorean astronomy set Copernicus thinking on that train
    of reasoning which has revolutionised the whole position of our planet in
    the universe. Then it was seen that the only meaning of progress is a
    return to Greek modes of thought. The monkish hymns which obscured the
    pages of Greek manuscripts were blotted out, the splendours of a new
    method were unfolded to the world, and out of the melancholy sea of
    mediaevalism rose the free spirit of man in all that splendour of glad
    adolescence, when the bodily powers seem quickened by a new vitality,
    when the eye sees more clearly than its wont and the mind apprehends what
    was beforetime hidden from it. To herald the opening of the sixteenth
    century, from the little Venetian printing press came forth all the great
    authors of antiquity, each bearing on the title-page the words [Greek
    text]; words which may serve to remind us with what wondrous prescience
    Polybius saw the world's fate when he foretold the material sovereignty
    of Roman institutions and exemplified in himself the intellectual empire
    of Greece.

    The course of the study of the spirit of historical criticism has not
    been a profitless investigation into modes and forms of thought now
    antiquated and of no account. The only spirit which is entirely removed
    from us is the mediaeval; the Greek spirit is essentially modern. The
    introduction of the comparative method of research which has forced
    history to disclose its secrets belongs in a measure to us. Ours, too,
    is a more scientific knowledge of philology and the method of survival.
    Nor did the ancients know anything of the doctrine of averages or of
    crucial instances, both of which methods have proved of such importance
    in modern criticism, the one adding a most important proof of the
    statical elements of history, and exemplifying the influences of all
    physical surroundings on the life of man; the other, as in the single
    instance of the Moulin Quignon skull, serving to create a whole new
    science of prehistoric archaeology and to bring us back to a time when
    man was coeval with the stone age, the mammoth and the woolly rhinoceros.
    But, except these, we have added no new canon or method to the science of
    historical criticism. Across the drear waste of a thousand years the
    Greek and the modern spirit join hands.

    In the torch race which the Greek boys ran from the Cerameician field of
    death to the home of the goddess of Wisdom, not merely he who first
    reached the goal but he also who first started with the torch aflame
    received a prize. In the Lampadephoria of civilisation and free thought
    let us not forget to render due meed of honour to those who first lit
    that sacred flame, the increasing splendour of which lights our footsteps
    to the far-off divine event of the attainment of perfect truth.--_The
    Rise of Historical Criticism_.


    There are two kinds of men in the world, two great creeds, two different
    forms of natures: men to whom the end of life is action, and men to whom
    the end of life is thought. As regards the latter, who seek for
    experience itself and not for the fruits of experience, who must burn
    always with one of the passions of this fiery-coloured world, who find
    life interesting not for its secret but for its situations, for its
    pulsations and not for its purpose; the passion for beauty engendered by
    the decorative arts will be to them more satisfying than any political or
    religious enthusiasm, any enthusiasm for humanity, any ecstasy or sorrow
    for love. For art comes to one professing primarily to give nothing but
    the highest quality to one's moments, and for those moments' sake. So
    far for those to whom the end of life is thought. As regards the others,
    who hold that life is inseparable from labour, to them should this
    movement be specially dear: for, if our days are barren without industry,
    industry without art is barbarism.

    Hewers of wood and drawers of water there must be always indeed among us.
    Our modern machinery has not much lightened the labour of man after all:
    but at least let the pitcher that stands by the well be beautiful and
    surely the labour of the day will be lightened: let the wood be made
    receptive of some lovely form, some gracious design, and there will come
    no longer discontent but joy to the toiler. For what is decoration but
    the worker's expression of joy in his work? And not joy merely--that is
    a great thing yet not enough--but that opportunity of expressing his own
    individuality which, as it is the essence of all life, is the source of
    all art. 'I have tried,' I remember William Morris saying to me once, 'I
    have tried to make each of my workers an artist, and when I say an artist
    I mean a man.' For the worker then, handicraftsman of whatever kind he
    is, art is no longer to be a purple robe woven by a slave and thrown over
    the whitened body of a leprous king to hide and to adorn the sin of his
    luxury, but rather the beautiful and noble expression of a life that has
    in it something beautiful and noble.--_The English Renaissance of Art_.


    ONE evening there came into his soul the desire to fashion an image of
    _The Pleasure that abideth for a Moment_. And he went forth into the
    world to look for bronze. For he could think only in bronze.

    But all the bronze of the whole world had disappeared, nor anywhere in
    the whole world was there any bronze to be found, save only the bronze of
    the image of _The Sorrow that endureth for Ever_.

    Now this image he had himself, and with his own hands, fashioned, and had
    set it on the tomb of the one thing he had loved in life. On the tomb of
    the dead thing he had most loved had he set this image of his own
    fashioning, that it might serve as a sign of the love of man that dieth
    not, and a symbol of the sorrow of man that endureth for ever. And in
    the whole world there was no other bronze save the bronze of this image.

    And he took the image he had fashioned, and set it in a great furnace,
    and gave it to the fire.

    And out of the bronze of the image of _The Sorrow that endureth for Ever_
    he fashioned an image of _The Pleasure that abideth for a Moment_.--_Poems
    in Prose_.


    It was night-time and He was alone.

    And He saw afar-off the walls of a round city and went towards the city.

    And when He came near He heard within the city the tread of the feet of
    joy, and the laughter of the mouth of gladness and the loud noise of many
    lutes. And He knocked at the gate and certain of the gate-keepers opened
    to Him.

    And He beheld a house that was of marble and had fair pillars of marble
    before it. The pillars were hung with garlands, and within and without
    there were torches of cedar. And He entered the house.

    And when He had passed through the hall of chalcedony and the hall of
    jasper, and reached the long hall of feasting, He saw lying on a couch of
    sea-purple one whose hair was crowned with red roses and whose lips were
    red with wine.

    And He went behind him and touched him on the shoulder and said to him,
    'Why do you live like this?'

    And the young man turned round and recognised Him, and made answer and
    said, 'But I was a leper once, and you healed me. How else should I

    And He passed out of the house and went again into the street.

    And after a little while He saw one whose face and raiment were painted
    and whose feet were shod with pearls. And behind her came, slowly as a
    hunter, a young man who wore a cloak of two colours. Now the face of the
    woman was as the fair face of an idol, and the eyes of the young man were
    bright with lust.

    And He followed swiftly and touched the hand of the young man and said to
    him, 'Why do you look at this woman and in such wise?'

    And the young man turned round and recognised Him and said, 'But I was
    blind once, and you gave me sight. At what else should I look?'

    And He ran forward and touched the painted raiment of the woman and said
    to her, 'Is there no other way in which to walk save the way of sin?'

    And the woman turned round and recognised Him, and laughed and said, 'But
    you forgave me my sins, and the way is a pleasant way.'

    And He passed out of the city.

    And when He had passed out of the city He saw seated by the roadside a
    young man who was weeping.

    And He went towards him and touched the long locks of his hair and said
    to him, 'Why are you weeping?'

    And the young man looked up and recognised Him and made answer, 'But I
    was dead once, and you raised me from the dead. What else should I do
    but weep?'--_Poems in Prose_.


    When Narcissus died the pool of his pleasure changed from a cup of sweet
    waters into a cup of salt tears, and the Oreads came weeping through the
    woodland that they might sing to the pool and give it comfort.

    And when they saw that the pool had changed from a cup of sweet waters
    into a cup of salt tears, they loosened the green tresses of their hair
    and cried to the pool and said, 'We do not wonder that you should mourn
    in this manner for Narcissus, so beautiful was he.'

    'But was Narcissus beautiful?' said the pool.

    'Who should know that better than you?' answered the Oreads. 'Us did he
    ever pass by, but you he sought for, and would lie on your banks and look
    down at you, and in the mirror of your waters he would mirror his own

    And the pool answered, 'But I loved Narcissus because, as he lay on my
    banks and looked down at me, in the mirror of his eyes I saw ever my own
    beauty mirrored.'--_Poems in Prose_.


    Now when the darkness came over the earth Joseph of Arimathea, having
    lighted a torch of pinewood, passed down from the hill into the valley.
    For he had business in his own home.

    And kneeling on the flint stones of the Valley of Desolation he saw a
    young man who was naked and weeping. His hair was the colour of honey,
    and his body was as a white flower, but he had wounded his body with
    thorns and on his hair had he set ashes as a crown.

    And he who had great possessions said to the young man who was naked and
    weeping, 'I do not wonder that your sorrow is so great, for surely He was
    a just man.'

    And the young man answered, 'It is not for Him that I am weeping, but for
    myself. I too have changed water into wine, and I have healed the leper
    and given sight to the blind. I have walked upon the waters, and from
    the dwellers in the tombs I have cast out devils. I have fed the hungry
    in the desert where there was no food, and I have raised the dead from
    their narrow houses, and at my bidding, and before a great multitude, of
    people, a barren fig-tree withered away. All things that this man has
    done I have done also. And yet they have not crucified me.'--_Poems in


    And there was silence in the House of Judgment, and the Man came naked
    before God.

    And God opened the Book of the Life of the Man.

    And God said to the Man, 'Thy life hath been evil, and thou hast shown
    cruelty to those who were in need of succour, and to those who lacked
    help thou hast been bitter and hard of heart. The poor called to thee
    and thou didst not hearken, and thine ears were closed to the cry of My
    afflicted. The inheritance of the fatherless thou didst take unto
    thyself, and thou didst send the foxes into the vineyard of thy
    neighbour's field. Thou didst take the bread of the children and give it
    to the dogs to eat, and My lepers who lived in the marshes, and were at
    peace and praised Me, thou didst drive forth on to the highways, and on
    Mine earth out of which I made thee thou didst spill innocent blood.'

    And the Man made answer and said, 'Even so did I.'

    And again God opened the Book of the Life of the Man.

    And God said to the Man, 'Thy life hath been evil, and the Beauty I have
    shown thou hast sought for, and the Good I have hidden thou didst pass
    by. The walls of thy chamber were painted with images, and from the bed
    of thine abominations thou didst rise up to the sound of flutes. Thou
    didst build seven altars to the sins I have suffered, and didst eat of
    the thing that may not be eaten, and the purple of thy raiment was
    broidered with the three signs of shame. Thine idols were neither of
    gold nor of silver that endure, but of flesh that dieth. Thou didst
    stain their hair with perfumes and put pomegranates in their hands. Thou
    didst stain their feet with saffron and spread carpets before them. With
    antimony thou didst stain their eyelids and their bodies thou didst smear
    with myrrh. Thou didst bow thyself to the ground before them, and the
    thrones of thine idols were set in the sun. Thou didst show to the sun
    thy shame and to the moon thy madness.'

    And the Man made answer and said, 'Even so did I.'

    And a third time God opened the Book of the Life of the Man.

    And God said to the Man, 'Evil hath been thy life, and with evil didst
    thou requite good, and with wrongdoing kindness. The hands that fed thee
    thou didst wound, and the breasts that gave thee suck thou didst despise.
    He who came to thee with water went away thirsting, and the outlawed men
    who hid thee in their tents at night thou didst betray before dawn. Thine
    enemy who spared thee thou didst snare in an ambush, and the friend who
    walked with thee thou didst sell for a price, and to those who brought
    thee Love thou didst ever give Lust in thy turn.'

    And the Man made answer and said, 'Even so did I.'

    And God closed the Book of the Life of the Man, and said, 'Surely I will
    send thee into Hell. Even into Hell will I send thee.'

    And the Man cried out, 'Thou canst not.'

    And God said to the Man, 'Wherefore can I not send thee to Hell, and for
    what reason?'

    'Because in Hell have I always lived,' answered the Man.

    And there was silence in the House of Judgment.

    And after a space God spake, and said to the Man, 'Seeing that I may not
    send thee into Hell, surely I will send thee unto Heaven. Even unto
    Heaven will I send thee.'

    And the Man cried out, 'Thou canst not.'

    And God said to the Man, 'Wherefore can I not send thee unto Heaven, and
    for what reason?'

    'Because never, and in no place, have I been able to imagine it,'
    answered the Man.

    And there was silence in the House of Judgment.--_Poems in Prose_.


    From his childhood he had been as one filled with the perfect knowledge
    of God, and even while he was yet but a lad many of the saints, as well
    as certain holy women who dwelt in the free city of his birth, had been
    stirred to much wonder by the grave wisdom of his answers.

    And when his parents had given him the robe and the ring of manhood he
    kissed them, and left them and went out into the world, that he might
    speak to the world about God. For there were at that time many in the
    world who either knew not God at all, or had but an incomplete knowledge
    of Him, or worshipped the false gods who dwell in groves and have no care
    of their worshippers.

    And he set his face to the sun and journeyed, walking without sandals, as
    he had seen the saints walk, and carrying at his girdle a leathern wallet
    and a little water-bottle of burnt clay.

    And as he walked along the highway he was full of the joy that comes from
    the perfect knowledge of God, and he sang praises unto God without
    ceasing; and after a time he reached a strange land in which there were
    many cities.

    And he passed through eleven cities. And some of these cities were in
    valleys, and others were by the banks of great rivers, and others were
    set on hills. And in each city he found a disciple who loved him and
    followed him, and a great multitude also of people followed him from each
    city, and the knowledge of God spread in the whole land, and many of the
    rulers were converted, and the priests of the temples in which there were
    idols found that half of their gain was gone, and when they beat upon
    their drums at noon none, or but a few, came with peacocks and with
    offerings of flesh as had been the custom of the land before his coming.

    Yet the more the people followed him, and the greater the number of his
    disciples, the greater became his sorrow. And he knew not why his sorrow
    was so great. For he spake ever about God, and out of the fulness of
    that perfect knowledge of God which God had Himself given to him.

    And one evening he passed out of the eleventh city, which was a city of
    Armenia, and his disciples and a great crowd of people followed after
    him; and he went up on to a mountain and sat down on a rock that was on
    the mountain, and his disciples stood round him, and the multitude knelt
    in the valley.

    And he bowed his head on his hands and wept, and said to his Soul, 'Why
    is it that I am full of sorrow and fear, and that each of my disciples is
    an enemy that walks in the noonday?' And his Soul answered him and said,
    'God filled thee with the perfect knowledge of Himself, and thou hast
    given this knowledge away to others. The pearl of great price thou hast
    divided, and the vesture without seam thou hast parted asunder. He who
    giveth away wisdom robbeth himself. He is as one who giveth his treasure
    to a robber. Is not God wiser than thou art? Who art thou to give away
    the secret that God hath told thee? I was rich once, and thou hast made
    me poor. Once I saw God, and now thou hast hidden Him from me.'

    And he wept again, for he knew that his Soul spake truth to him, and that
    he had given to others the perfect knowledge of God, and that he was as
    one clinging to the skirts of God, and that his faith was leaving him by
    reason of the number of those who believed in him.

    And he said to himself, 'I will talk no more about God. He who giveth
    away wisdom robbeth himself.'

    And after the space of some hours his disciples came near him and bowed
    themselves to the ground and said, 'Master, talk to us about God, for
    thou hast the perfect knowledge of God, and no man save thee hath this

    And he answered them and said, 'I will talk to you about all other things
    that are in heaven and on earth, but about God I will not talk to you.
    Neither now, nor at any time, will I talk to you about God.'

    And they were wroth with him and said to him, 'Thou hast led us into the
    desert that we might hearken to thee. Wilt thou send us away hungry, and
    the great multitude that thou hast made to follow thee?'

    And he answered them and said, 'I will not talk to you about God.'

    And the multitude murmured against him and said to him, 'Thou hast led us
    into the desert, and hast given us no food to eat. Talk to us about God
    and it will suffice us.'

    But he answered them not a word. For he knew that if he spake to them
    about God he would give away his treasure.

    And his disciples went away sadly, and the multitude of people returned
    to their own homes. And many died on the way.

    And when he was alone he rose up and set his face to the moon, and
    journeyed for seven moons, speaking to no man nor making any answer. And
    when the seventh moon had waned he reached that desert which is the
    desert of the Great River. And having found a cavern in which a Centaur
    had once dwelt, he took it for his place of dwelling, and made himself a
    mat of reeds on which to lie, and became a hermit. And every hour the
    Hermit praised God that He had suffered him to keep some knowledge of Him
    and of His wonderful greatness.

    Now, one evening, as the Hermit was seated before the cavern in which he
    had made his place of dwelling, he beheld a young man of evil and
    beautiful face who passed by in mean apparel and with empty hands. Every
    evening with empty hands the young man passed by, and every morning he
    returned with his hands full of purple and pearls. For he was a Robber
    and robbed the caravans of the merchants.

    And the Hermit looked at him and pitied him. But he spake not a word.
    For he knew that he who speaks a word loses his faith.

    And one morning, as the young man returned with his hands full of purple
    and pearls, he stopped and frowned and stamped his foot upon the sand,
    and said to the Hermit: 'Why do you look at me ever in this manner as I
    pass by? What is it that I see in your eyes? For no man has looked at
    me before in this manner. And the thing is a thorn and a trouble to me.'

    And the Hermit answered him and said, 'What you see in my eyes is pity.
    Pity is what looks out at you from my eyes.'

    And the young man laughed with scorn, and cried to the Hermit in a bitter
    voice, and said to him, 'I have purple and pearls in my hands, and you
    have but a mat of reeds on which to lie. What pity should you have for
    me? And for what reason have you this pity?'

    'I have pity for you,' said the Hermit, 'because you have no knowledge of

    'Is this knowledge of God a precious thing?' asked the young man, and he
    came close to the mouth of the cavern.

    'It is more precious than all the purple and the pearls of the world,'
    answered the Hermit.

    'And have you got it?' said the young Robber, and he came closer still.

    'Once, indeed,' answered the Hermit, 'I possessed the perfect knowledge
    of God. But in my foolishness I parted with it, and divided it amongst
    others. Yet even now is such knowledge as remains to me more precious
    than purple or pearls.'

    And when the young Robber heard this he threw away the purple and the
    pearls that he was bearing in his hands, and drawing a sharp sword of
    curved steel he said to the Hermit, 'Give me, forthwith this knowledge of
    God that you possess, or I will surely slay you. Wherefore should I not
    slay him who has a treasure greater than my treasure?'

    And the Hermit spread out his arms and said, 'Were it not better for me
    to go unto the uttermost courts of God and praise Him, than to live in
    the world and have no knowledge of Him? Slay me if that be your desire.
    But I will not give away my knowledge of God.'

    And the young Robber knelt down and besought him, but the Hermit would
    not talk to him about God, nor give him his Treasure, and the young
    Robber rose up and said to the Hermit, 'Be it as you will. As for
    myself, I will go to the City of the Seven Sins, that is but three days'
    journey from this place, and for my purple they will give me pleasure,
    and for my pearls they will sell me joy.' And he took up the purple and
    the pearls and went swiftly away.

    And the Hermit cried out and followed him and besought him. For the
    space of three days he followed the young Robber on the road and
    entreated him to return, nor to enter into the City of the Seven Sins.

    And ever and anon the young Robber looked back at the Hermit and called
    to him, and said, 'Will you give me this knowledge of God which is more
    precious than purple and pearls? If you will give me that, I will not
    enter the city.'

    And ever did the Hermit answer, 'All things that I have I will give thee,
    save that one thing only. For that thing it is not lawful for me to give

    And in the twilight of the third day they came nigh to the great scarlet
    gates of the City of the Seven Sins. And from the city there came the
    sound of much laughter.

    And the young Robber laughed in answer, and sought to knock at the gate.
    And as he did so the Hermit ran forward and caught him by the skirts of
    his raiment, and said to him: 'Stretch forth your hands, and set your
    arms around my neck, and put your ear close to my lips, and I will give
    you what remains to me of the knowledge of God.' And the young Robber

    And when the Hermit had given away his knowledge of God, he fell upon the
    ground and wept, and a great darkness hid from him the city and the young
    Robber, so that he saw them no more.

    And as he lay there weeping he was ware of One who was standing beside
    him; and He who was standing beside him had feet of brass and hair like
    fine wool. And He raised the Hermit up, and said to him: 'Before this
    time thou hadst the perfect knowledge of God. Now thou shalt have the
    perfect love of God. Wherefore art thou weeping?' And he kissed
    him.--_Poems in Prose_.



    April 1st, 1897.

    My Dear Robbie,--I send you a MS. separate from this, which I hope will
    arrive safely. As soon as you have read it, I want you to have it
    carefully copied for me. There are many causes why I wish this to be
    done. One will suffice. I want you to be my literary executor in case
    of my death, and to have complete control of my plays, books, and papers.
    As soon as I find I have a legal right to make a will, I will do so. My
    wife does not understand my art, nor could be expected to have any
    interest in it, and Cyril is only a child. So I turn naturally to you,
    as indeed I do for everything, and would like you to have all my works.
    The deficit that their sale will produce may be lodged to the credit of
    Cyril and Vivian. Well, if you are my literary executor, you must be in
    possession of the only document that gives any explanation of my
    extraordinary behaviour . . . When you have read the letter, you will see
    the psychological explanation of a course of conduct that from the
    outside seems a combination of absolute idiotcy with vulgar bravado. Some
    day the truth will have to be known--not necessarily in my lifetime . . .
    but I am not prepared to sit in the grotesque pillory they put me into,
    for all time; for the simple reason that I inherited from my father and
    mother a name of high distinction in literature and art, and I cannot for
    eternity allow that name to be degraded. I don't defend my conduct. I
    explain it. Also there are in my letter certain passages which deal with
    my mental development in prison, and the inevitable evolution of my
    character and intellectual attitude towards life that has taken place:
    and I want you and others who still stand by me and have affection for me
    to know exactly in what mood and manner I hope to face the world. Of
    course from one point of view I know that on the day of my release I
    shall be merely passing from one prison into another, and there are times
    when the whole world seems to me no larger than my cell and as full of
    terror for me. Still I believe that at the beginning God made a world
    for each separate man, and in that world which is within us we should
    seek to live. At any rate you will read those parts of my letter with
    less pain than the others. Of course I need not remind you how fluid a
    thing thought is with me--with us all--and of what an evanescent
    substance are our emotions made. Still I do see a sort of possible goal
    towards which, through art, I may progress. It is not unlikely that you
    may help me.

    As regards the mode of copying: of course it is too long for any
    amanuensis to attempt: and your own handwriting, dear Robbie, in your
    last letter seems specially designed to remind me that the task is not to
    be yours. I think that the only thing to do is to be thoroughly modern
    and to have it typewritten. Of course the MS. should not pass out of
    your control, but could you not get Mrs. Marshall to send down one of her
    type-writing girls--women are the most reliable as they have no memory
    for the important--to Hornton Street or Phillimore Gardens, to do it
    under your supervision? I assure you that the typewriting machine, when
    played with expression, is not more annoying than the piano when played
    by a sister or near relation. Indeed many among those most devoted to
    domesticity prefer it. I wish the copy to be done not on tissue paper
    but on good paper such as is used for plays, and a wide rubricated margin
    should be left for corrections . . . If the copy is done at Hornton
    Street the lady typewriter might be fed through a lattice in the door,
    like the Cardinals when they elect a Pope; till she comes out on the
    balcony and can say to the world: "Habet Mundus Epistolam"; for indeed it
    is an Encyclical letter, and as the Bulls of the Holy Father are named
    from their opening words, it may be spoken of as the "_Epistola_: _in
    Carcere et Vinculis_." . . . In point of fact, Robbie, prison life makes
    one see people and things as they really are. That is why it turns one
    to stone. It is the people outside who are deceived by the illusions of
    a life in constant motion. They revolve with life and contribute to its
    unreality. We who are immobile both see and know. Whether or not the
    letter does good to narrow natures and hectic brains, to me it has done
    good. I have "cleansed my bosom of much perilous stuff"; to borrow a
    phrase from the poet whom you and I once thought of rescuing from the
    Philistines. I need not remind you that mere expression is to an artist
    the supreme and only mode of life. It is by utterance that we live. Of
    the many, many things for which I have to thank the Governor there is
    none for which I am more grateful than for his permission to write fully
    and at as great a length as I desire. For nearly two years I had within
    a growing burden of bitterness, of much of which I have now got rid. On
    the other side of the prison wall there are some poor black
    soot-besmirched trees that are just breaking out into buds of an almost
    shrill green. I know quite well what they are going through. They are
    finding expression.

    Ever yours,


    --_Letter from Reading Prison to Robert Ross_.


    Where there is sorrow there in holy ground. Some day people will realise
    what that means. They will know nothing of life till they do,--and
    natures like his can realise it. When I was brought down from my prison
    to the Court of Bankruptcy, between two policemen,--waited in the long
    dreary corridor that, before the whole crowd, whom an action so sweet and
    simple hushed into silence, he might gravely raise his hat to me, as,
    handcuffed and with bowed head, I passed him by. Men have gone to heaven
    for smaller things than that. It was in this spirit, and with this mode
    of love, that the saints knelt down to wash the feet of the poor, or
    stooped to kiss the leper on the cheek. I have never said one single
    word to him about what he did. I do not know to the present moment
    whether he is aware that I was even conscious of his action. It is not a
    thing for which one can render formal thanks in formal words. I store it
    in the treasure-house of my heart. I keep it there as a secret debt that
    I am glad to think I can never possibly repay. It is embalmed and kept
    sweet by the myrrh and cassia of many tears. When wisdom has been
    profitless to me, philosophy barren, and the proverbs and phrases of
    those who have sought to give me consolation as dust and ashes in my
    mouth, the memory of that little, lovely, silent act of love has unsealed
    for me all the wells of pity: made the desert blossom like a rose, and
    brought me out of the bitterness of lonely exile into harmony with the
    wounded, broken, and great heart of the world. When people are able to
    understand, not merely how beautiful ---'s action was, but why it meant
    so much to me, and always will mean so much, then, perhaps, they will
    realise how and in what spirit they should approach me. . . .

    The poor are wise, more charitable, more kind, more sensitive than we
    are. In their eyes prison is a tragedy in a man's life, a misfortune, a
    casuality, something that calls for sympathy in others. They speak of
    one who is in prison as of one who is 'in trouble' simply. It is the
    phrase they always use, and the expression has the perfect wisdom of love
    in it. With people of our own rank it is different. With us, prison
    makes a man a pariah. I, and such as I am, have hardly any right to air
    and sun. Our presence taints the pleasures of others. We are unwelcome
    when we reappear. To revisit the glimpses of the moon is not for us. Our
    very children are taken away. Those lovely links with humanity are
    broken. We are doomed to be solitary, while our sons still live. We are
    denied the one thing that might heal us and keep us, that might bring
    balm to the bruised heart, and peace to the soul in pain.--_De


    Sorrow, being the supreme emotion of which man is capable, is at once the
    type and test of all great art. What the artist is always looking for is
    the mode of existence in which soul and body are one and indivisible: in
    which the outward is expressive of the inward: in which form reveals. Of
    such modes of existence there are not a few: youth and the arts
    preoccupied with youth may serve as a model for us at one moment: at
    another we may like to think that, in its subtlety and sensitiveness of
    impression, its suggestion of a spirit dwelling in external things and
    making its raiment of earth and air, of mist and city alike, and in its
    morbid sympathy of its moods, and tones, and colours, modern landscape
    art is realising for us pictorially what was realised in such plastic
    perfection by the Greeks. Music, in which all subject is absorbed in
    expression and cannot be separated from it, is a complex example, and a
    flower or a child a simple example, of what I mean; but sorrow is the
    ultimate type both in life and art.

    Behind joy and laughter there may be a temperament, coarse, hard and
    callous. But behind sorrow there is always sorrow. Pain, unlike
    pleasure, wears no mask. Truth in art is not any correspondence between
    the essential idea and the accidental existence; it is not the
    resemblance of shape to shadow, or of the form mirrored in the crystal to
    the form itself; it is no echo coming from a hollow hill, any more than
    it is a silver well of water in the valley that shows the moon to the
    moon and Narcissus to Narcissus. Truth in art is the unity of a thing
    with itself: the outward rendered expressive of the inward: the soul made
    incarnate: the body instinct with spirit. For this reason there is no
    truth comparable to sorrow. There are times when sorrow seems to me to
    be the only truth. Other things may be illusions of the eye or the
    appetite, made to blind the one and cloy the other, but out of sorrow
    have the worlds been built, and at the birth of a child or a star there
    is pain.

    More than this, there is about sorrow an intense, an extraordinary
    reality. I have said of myself that I was one who stood in symbolic
    relations to the art and culture of my age. There is not a single
    wretched man in this wretched place along with me who does not stand in
    symbolic relation to the very secret of life. For the secret of life is
    suffering. It is what is hidden behind everything. When we begin to
    live, what is sweet is so sweet to us, and what is bitter so bitter, that
    we inevitably direct all our desires towards pleasures, and seek not
    merely for a 'month or twain to feed on honeycomb,' but for all our years
    to taste no other food, ignorant all the while that we may really be
    starving the soul.--_De Profundis_.


    Far off, like a perfect pearl, one can see the city of God. It is so
    wonderful that it seems as if a child could reach it in a summer's day.
    And so a child could. But with me and such as me it is different. One
    can realise a thing in a single moment, but one loses it in the long
    hours that follow with leaden feet. It is so difficult to keep 'heights
    that the soul is competent to gain.' We think in eternity, but we move
    slowly through time; and how slowly time goes with us who lie in prison I
    need not tell again, nor of the weariness and despair that creep back
    into one's cell, and into the cell of one's heart, with such strange
    insistence that one has, as it were, to garnish and sweep one's house for
    their coming, as for an unwelcome guest, or a bitter master, or a slave
    whose slave it is one's chance or choice to be.

    And, though at present my friends may find it a hard thing to believe, it
    is true none the less, that for them living in freedom and idleness and
    comfort it is more easy to learn the lessons of humility than it is for
    me, who begin the day by going down on my knees and washing the floor of
    my cell. For prison life with its endless privations and restrictions
    makes one rebellious. The most terrible thing about it is not that it
    breaks one's heart--hearts are made to be broken--but that it turns one's
    heart to stone. One sometimes feels that it is only with a front of
    brass and a lip of scorn that one can get through the day at all. And he
    who is in a state of rebellion cannot receive grace, to use the phrase of
    which the Church is so fond--so rightly fond, I dare say--for in life as
    in art the mood of rebellion closes up the channels of the soul, and
    shuts out the airs of heaven. Yet I must learn these lessons here, if I
    am to learn them anywhere, and must be filled with joy if my feet are on

    the right road and my face set towards 'the gate which is called
    beautiful,' though I may fall many times in the mire and often in the
    mist go astray.

    This New Life, as through my love of Dante I like sometimes to call it,
    is of course no new life at all, but simply the continuance, by means of
    development, and evolution, of my former life. I remember when I was at
    Oxford saying to one of my friends as we were strolling round Magdalen's
    narrow bird-haunted walks one morning in the year before I took my
    degree, that I wanted to eat of the fruit of all the trees in the garden
    of the world, and that I was going out into the world with that passion
    in my soul. And so, indeed, I went out, and so I lived. My only mistake
    was that I confined myself so exclusively to the trees of what seemed to
    me the sun-lit side of the garden, and shunned the other side for its
    shadow and its gloom. Failure, disgrace, poverty, sorrow, despair,
    suffering, tears even, the broken words that come from lips in pain,
    remorse that makes one walk on thorns, conscience that condemns, self-
    abasement that punishes, the misery that puts ashes on its head, the
    anguish that chooses sack-cloth for its raiment and into its own drink
    puts gall:--all these were things of which I was afraid. And as I had
    determined to know nothing of them, I was forced to taste each of them in
    turn, to feed on them, to have for a season, indeed, no other food at

    I don't regret for a single moment having lived for pleasure. I did it
    to the full, as one should do everything that one does. There was no
    pleasure I did not experience. I threw the pearl of my soul into a cup
    of wine. I went down the primrose path to the sound of flutes. I lived
    on honeycomb. But to have continued the same life would have been wrong
    because it would have been limiting. I had to pass on. The other half
    of the garden had its secrets for me also.--_De Profundis_.


    It is when he deals with a sinner that Christ is most romantic, in the
    sense of most real. The world had always loved the saint as being the
    nearest possible approach to the perfection of God. Christ, through some
    divine instinct in him, seems to have always loved the sinner as being
    the nearest possible approach to the perfection of man. His primary
    desire was not to reform people, any more than his primary desire was to
    a relieve suffering. To turn an interesting thief into a tedious honest
    man was not his aim. He would have thought little of the Prisoners' Aid
    Society and other modern movements of the kind. The conversion of a
    publican into a Pharisee would not have seemed to him a great
    achievement. But in a manner not yet understood of the world he regarded
    sin and suffering as being in themselves beautiful holy things and modes
    of perfection.

    It seems a very dangerous idea. It is--all great ideas are dangerous.
    That it was Christ's creed admits of no doubt. That it is the true creed
    I don't doubt myself.

    Of course the sinner must repent. But why? Simply because otherwise he
    would be unable to realise what he had done. The moment of repentance is
    the moment of initiation. More than that: it is the means by which one
    alters one's past. The Greeks thought that impossible. They often say
    in their Gnomic aphorisms, 'Even the Gods cannot alter the past.' Christ
    showed that the commonest sinner could do it, that it was the one thing
    he could do. Christ, had he been asked, would have said--I feel quite
    certain about it--that the moment the prodigal son fell on his knees and
    wept, he made his having wasted his substance with harlots, his swine-
    herding and hungering for the husks they ate, beautiful and holy moments
    in his life. It is difficult for most people to grasp the idea. I dare
    say one has to go to prison to understand it. If so, it may be worth
    while going to prison.

    There is something so unique about Christ. Of course just as there are
    false dawns before the dawn itself, and winter days so full of sudden
    sunlight that they will cheat the wise crocus into squandering its gold
    before its time, and make some foolish bird call to its mate to build on
    barren boughs, so there were Christians before Christ. For that we
    should be grateful. The unfortunate thing is that there have been none
    since. I make one exception, St. Francis of Assisi. But then God had
    given him at his birth the soul of a poet, as he himself when quite young
    had in mystical marriage taken poverty as his bride: and with the soul of
    a poet and the body of a beggar he found the way to perfection not
    difficult. He understood Christ, and so he became like him. We do not
    require the Liber Conformitatum to teach us that the life of St. Francis
    was the true _Imitatio Christi_, a poem compared to which the book of
    that name is merely prose.

    Indeed, that is the charm about Christ, when all is said: he is just like
    a work of art. He does not really teach one anything, but by being
    brought into his presence one becomes something. And everybody is
    predestined to his presence. Once at least in his life each man walks
    with Christ to Emmaus.--_De Profundis_.


    My lot has been one of public infamy, of long imprisonment, of misery, of
    ruin, of disgrace, but I am not worthy of it--not yet, at any rate. I
    remember that I used to say that I thought I could bear a real tragedy if
    it came to me with purple pall and a mask of noble sorrow, but that the
    dreadful thing about modernity was that it put tragedy into the raiment
    of comedy, so that the great realities seemed commonplace or grotesque or
    lacking in style. It is quite true about modernity. It has probably
    always been true about actual life. It is said that all martyrdoms
    seemed mean to the looker on. The nineteenth century is no exception to
    the rule.

    Everything about my tragedy has been hideous, mean, repellent, lacking in
    style; our very dress makes us grotesque. We are the zanies of sorrow.
    We are clowns whose hearts are broken. We are specially designed to
    appeal to the sense of humour. On November 13th, 1895, I was brought
    down here from London. From two o'clock till half-past two on that day I
    had to stand on the centre platform of Clapham Junction in convict dress,
    and handcuffed, for the world to look at. I had been taken out of the
    hospital ward without a moment's notice being given to me. Of all
    possible objects I was the most grotesque. When people saw me they
    laughed. Each train as it came up swelled the audience. Nothing could
    exceed their amusement. That was, of course, before they knew who I was.
    As soon as they had been informed they laughed still more. For half an
    hour I stood there in the grey November rain surrounded by a jeering
    mob.--_De Profundis_.


    We call ours a utilitarian age, and we do not know the uses of any single
    thing. We have forgotten that water can cleanse, and fire purify, and
    that the Earth is mother to us all. As a consequence our art is of the
    moon and plays with shadows, while Greek art is of the sun and deals
    directly with things. I feel sure that in elemental forces there is
    purification, and I want to go back to them and live in their presence.

    Of course to one so modern as I am, 'Enfant de mon siecle,' merely to
    look at the world will be always lovely. I tremble with pleasure when I
    think that on the very day of my leaving prison both the laburnum and the
    lilac will be blooming in the gardens, and that I shall see the wind stir
    into restless beauty the swaying gold of the one, and make the other toss
    the pale purple of its plumes, so that all the air shall be Arabia for
    me. Linnaeus fell on his knees and wept for joy when he saw for the
    first time the long heath of some English upland made yellow with the
    tawny aromatic brooms of the common furze; and I know that for me, to
    whom flowers are part of desire, there are tears waiting in the petals of
    some rose. It has always been so with me from my boyhood. There is not
    a single colour hidden away in the chalice of a flower, or the curve of a
    shell, to which, by some subtle sympathy with the very soul of things, my
    nature does not answer. Like Gautier, I have always been one of those
    'pour qui le monde visible existe.'

    Still, I am conscious now that behind all this beauty, satisfying though
    it may be, there is some spirit hidden of which the painted forms and
    shapes are but modes of manifestation, and it is with this spirit that I
    desire to become in harmony. I have grown tired of the articulate
    utterances of men and things. The Mystical in Art, the Mystical in Life,
    the Mystical in Nature this is what I am looking for. It is absolutely
    necessary for me to find it somewhere.

    All trials are trials for one's life, just as all sentences are sentences
    of death; and three times have I been tried. The first time I left the
    box to be arrested, the second time to be led back to the house of
    detention, the third time to pass into a prison for two years. Society,
    as we have constituted it, will have no place for me, has none to offer;
    but Nature, whose sweet rains fall on unjust and just alike, will have
    clefts in the rocks where I may hide, and secret valleys in whose silence
    I may weep undisturbed. She will hang the night with stars so that I may
    walk abroad in the darkness without stumbling, and send the wind over my
    footprints so that none may track me to my hurt: she will cleanse me in
    great waters, and with bitter herbs make me whole.--_De Profundis_.



    June 1st, 1897.

    My Dear Robbie,--I propose to live at Berneval. I will _not_ live in
    Paris, nor in Algiers, nor in Southern Italy. Surely a house for a year,
    if I choose to continue there, at 32 pounds is absurdly cheap. I could
    not live cheaper at a hotel. You are penny foolish, and pound foolish--a
    dreadful state for my financier to be in. I told M. Bonnet that my
    bankers were MM. Ross et Cie, banquiers celebres de Londres--and now you
    suddenly show me that you have no place among the great financial people,
    and are afraid of any investment over 31 pounds, 10s. It is merely the
    extra ten shillings that baffles you. As regards people living on me,
    and the extra bedrooms: dear boy, there is no one who would stay with me
    but you, and you will pay your own bill at the hotel for meals; and as
    for your room, the charge will be nominally 2 francs 50 centimes a night,
    but there will be lots of extras such as _bougie, bain_ and hot water,
    and all cigarettes smoked in the bedrooms are charged extra. And if any
    one does not take the extras, of course he is charged more:--

    Bain, 25 C.

    Pas de bain, 50 C.

    Cigarette dans la chambre a coucher, 10 C. pour chaque cigarette.

    Pas de cigarette dans la chambre a coucher, 20 C. pour chaque

    This is the system at all good hotels. If Reggie comes, of course he
    will pay a little more: I cannot forget that he gave me a dressing-case.
    Sphinxes pay a hundred per cent more than any one else--they always did
    in Ancient Egypt.

    But seriously, Robbie, if people stayed with me, of course they would pay
    their _pension_ at the hotel. They would have to: except architects. A
    modern architect, like modern architecture, doesn't pay. But then I know
    only one architect and you are hiding him somewhere from me. I believe
    that he is as extinct as the dado, of which now only fossil remains are
    found, chiefly in the vicinity of Brompton, where they are sometimes
    discovered by workmen excavating. They are usually embedded in the old
    Lincrusta Walton strata, and are rare consequently.

    I visited M. le Cure {4} to-day. He has a charming house and a _jardin
    potager_. He showed me over the church. To-morrow I sit in the choir by
    his special invitation. He showed me all his vestments. To-morrow he
    really will be charming in red. He knows I am a heretic, and believes
    Pusey is still alive. He says that God will convert England on account
    of England's kindness to _les pretres exiles_ at the time of the
    Revolution. It is to be the reward of that sea-lashed island.

    Stained glass windows are wanted in the church; he has only six; fourteen
    more are needed. He gets them at 300 francs--12 pounds--a window in
    Paris. I was nearly offering half a dozen, but remembered you, and so
    only gave him something _pour les pauvres_. You had a narrow escape,
    Robbie. You should be thankful.

    I hope the 40 pounds is on its way, and that the 60 pounds will follow. I
    am going to hire a boat. It will save walking and so be an economy in
    the end. Dear Robbie, I must start well. If the life of St. Francis of
    Assissi awaits me I shall not be angry. Worse things might happen.



    --_Letter to Robert Ross_.



    April 16th, 1900.

    My dear Robbie,--I simply cannot write. It is too horrid, not of me, but
    to me. It is a mode of paralysis--a _cacoethes tacendi_--the one form
    that malady takes in me.

    Well, all passed over very successfully. Palermo, where we stayed eight
    days, was lovely. The most beautifully situated town in the world--it
    dreams away its life in the _concha d'oro_, the exquisite valley that
    lies between two seas. The lemon groves and the orange gardens were so
    entirely perfect that I became quite a Pre-Raphaelite, and loathed the
    ordinary impressionists whose muddly souls and blurred intelligences
    would have rendered, but by mud and blur, those "golden lamps hung in a
    green night" that filled me with such joy. The elaborate and exquisite
    detail of the true Pre-Raphaelite is the compensation they offer us for
    the absence of motion; literature and motion being the only arts that are
    not immobile.

    Then nowhere, not even at Ravenna, have I seen such mosaics as in the
    Capella Palatine, which from pavement to domed ceiling is all gold: one
    really feels as if one was sitting in the heart of a great honey-comb
    looking at angels singing: and _looking_ at angels, or indeed at people,
    singing, is much nicer than listening to them, for this reason: the great
    artists always give to their angels lutes without strings, pipes without
    vent-holes, and reeds through which no wind can wander or make

    Monreale you have heard of--with its cloisters and cathedral: we often
    drove there.

    I also made great friends with a young seminarist, who lived in the
    cathedral of Palermo--he and eleven others, in little rooms beneath the
    roof, like birds.

    Every day he showed me all over the cathedral, I knelt before the huge
    porphyry sarcophagus in which Frederick the Second lies: it is a sublime
    bare monstrous thing--blood-coloured, and held up by lions who have
    caught some of the rage of the great Emperor's restless soul. At first
    my young friend, Giuseppe Loverdi, gave me information; but on the third
    day I gave information to him, and re-wrote history as usual, and told
    him all about the supreme King and his Court of Poets, and the terrible
    book that he never wrote. His reason for entering the church was
    singularly mediaeval. I asked him why he thought of becoming a
    _clerico_, and how. He answered: "My father is a cook and most poor; and
    we are many at home, so it seemed to me a good thing that there should be
    in so small a house as ours, one mouth less to feed; for though I am
    slim, I eat much, too much, alas! I fear."

    I told him to be comforted, because God used poverty often as a means of
    bringing people to Him, and used riches never, or rarely; so Giuseppe was
    comforted, and I gave him a little book of devotion, very pretty, and
    with far more pictures than prayers in it--so of great service to
    Giuseppe whose eyes are beautiful. I also gave him many _lire_, and
    prophesied for him a Cardinal's hat, if he remained very good and never
    forgot me.

    At Naples we stopped three days: most of my friends are, as you know, in
    prison, but I met some of nice memory.

    We came to Rome on Holy Thursday. H--- left on Saturday for Gland--and
    yesterday, to the terror of Grissell {5} and all the Papal Court, I
    appeared in the front rank of the pilgrims in the Vatican, and got the
    blessing of the Holy Father--a blessing they would have denied me.

    He was wonderful as he was carried past me on his throne--not of flesh
    and blood, but a white soul robed in white and an artist as well as a
    saint--the only instance in history, if the newspapers are to be
    believed. I have seen nothing like the extraordinary grace of his
    gestures as he rose, from moment to moment, to bless--possibly the
    pilgrims, but certainly me.

    Tree should see him. It is his only chance.

    I was deeply impressed, and my walking-stick showed signs of budding,
    would have budded, indeed, only at the door of the Chapel it was taken
    from me by the Knave of Spades. This strange prohibition is, of course,
    in honour of Tannhauser.

    How did I get the ticket? By a miracle, of course. I thought it was
    hopeless and made no effort of any kind. On Saturday afternoon at five
    o'clock H--- and I went to have tea at the Hotel de l'Europe. Suddenly,
    as I was eating buttered toast, a man--or what seemed to be one--dressed
    like a hotel porter entered and asked me would I like to see the Pope on
    Easter Day. I bowed my head humbly and said "Non sum dignus," or words
    to that effect. He at once produced a ticket!

    When I tell you that his countenance was of supernatural ugliness, and
    that the price of the ticket was thirty pieces of silver, I need say no

    An equally curious thing is that whenever I pass the hotel, which I do
    constantly, I see the same man. Scientists call that phenomenon an
    obsession of the visual nerve. You and I know better.

    On the afternoon of Easter Day I heard Vespers at the Lateran: music
    quite lovely. At the close, a Bishop in red, and with red gloves--such
    as Pater talks of in _Gaston de Latour_--came out on the balcony and
    showed us the Relics. He was swarthy, and wore a yellow mitre. A
    sinister mediaeval man, but superbly Gothic, just like the bishops carved
    on stalls or on portals: and when one thinks that once people mocked at
    stained-glass attitudes! they are the only attitudes for the clothes. The
    sight of the Bishop, whom I watched with fascination, filled me with the
    great sense of the realism of Gothic art. Neither in Greek art nor in
    Gothic art is there any pose. Posing was invented by bad
    portrait-painters; and the first person who posed was a stock-broker, and
    he has gone on posing ever since.

    I send you a photograph I took on Palm Sunday at Palermo. Do send me
    some of yours, and love me always, and try to read this letter.

    Kindest regards to your dear mother.



    --_Letter to Robert Ross_.


    {1} "The Influence of Pater and Matthew Arnold in the Prose-Writings of
    Oscar Wilde," by Ernst Bendz. London: H. Grevel & Co., 1914.

    {2} "The Eighteen Nineties: A Review of Art and Idea at the Close of the
    Nineteenth Century," by Holbrook Jackson. London: Grant Richards Ltd.,

    {3} Mortimer Menpes.

    {4} M. Constant Trop-Hardy, died at Berneval, March 2, 1898.

    {5} Hartwell de la Garde Grissell, a Papal Chamberlain.
    If you're writing a Selected Prose essay and need some advice, post your Oscar Wilde essay question on our Facebook page where fellow bookworms are always glad to help!

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