The Remarkable Rightness of Rudyard Kipling

Kipling could get an audience for tales and ballads and jungle-books; but the moment he tried to speak nationally, he could not get an audience. Even now, they would rather read H. G. Wells.

It looks Chestertonian as I write it. As if a world of concrete things were to be gathered into the titular abstraction; or as if Kipling's rightness were presently to be proved remarkable in that it is all wrong.

And yet, I think, Chesterton or no Chesterton,—where is he, by the way?—I mean precisely what I have set down: Rudyard Kipling's remarkable rightness. Right, because time has sustained him against scoffers; remarkable, because no one originally expected that particular kind of rightness from him.

This is not to be a discursive or an exhaustive discussion of Kipling's utterances on planetary or even racial questions. I have not annotated his complete works with his 'rightness' in mind. Indeed, to treat him exhaustively would be a very difficult task; for the sum of his wisdom is made up, not of a few big 'works,' but of an infinite number of significant brevities. My wily excuse for dealing with him at all is that I have lived a long time with the prose and verse of Kipling, and that my knowledge of him has reached what Henry James called the point of saturation. I will not pretend that I have read every word he has ever printed in the Allahabad Pioneer or even in the London Times; but I know him very well. I belong to the generation that took its Kipling hard. My friends who are five years older or five years younger never took him quite so hard as that. They knew other gods.

Rudyard Kipling, in his later life, has suffered under two great disadvantages: his insistence on a political point of view which was unpopular, and the gradual diminishing of his flow of masterpicces. The dullest people will tell you smartly that he is 'written out'; the cleverest will tell you that he was precocious, but always cheap, if not vulgar. Perhaps someone will fling The Female of the Species at you. This paper is not to be a catalogue of Kipling's virtues, nor yet of his achievements. But I should like you to consider with me for a few moments that little volume of verse, The Five Nations. I take The Five Nations purposely, for it is the Kipling of The Five Nations that I mean. Not the better known Kipling of the Barrack-Room Ballads or The Seven Seas. But supremely the Kipling I refer to.

Two things changed the Kipling we first knew: renewed residence in England, and the Boer War. Of course, he was always an imperialist; he always loved Lord Roberts—as long ago as the Plain Tales, when Kipling was at once younger and cleverer than anyone else. But he saw these things, then, from the angle of India; he was an imperialist only in embryo. He cared more for the British army—in red—than for the British navy; and Anzacs were not within his vision.

Then—by devious paths—he returned to England; and England held him as it held the man and the woman in An Habitation Enforced. The Boer War came; and The Five Nations tells how he reacted. He has gone on very consistently from that day developing, but never swerving from the path of his conviction. England did not listen to him: the Liberals of the first decade did not propose to listen to anyone who wrote short stories for the sake of the plot and verse for the sake of a Tory idea. They were much too serious in Great Britain, in those days, to hearken to Rudyard Kipling. And, so far as I know, neither Lord Roberts nor Kipling ever said, 'I told you so.'

Yet listen to 'The Lesson':—

It was our fault, and our very great fault—and now we must turn it to use;
We have forty million reasons for failure, but not a single excuse!

How one has heard that rough-and-ready poem reviled—in the early nineteen-hundreds! Even now one recalls abusive editorials in American newspapers about the poem which mentioned

... the flannelled fools at the wicket ... the muddied oafs at the goals.

'Oblige me by referring to the files.' I remember those taunting comments very well. Not an editor but was so sane that he could make his little mock of Kipling as an extremist. But if you will get out The Five Nations and read 'The Islanders' through soberly, you will curse those editors for fools. 'Preparedness' is so familiar to us all now, not only as a word but even as an idea, that we can hardly believe intelligent people were calling a man names fifteen years ago for stating axioms. We are always thinking the days of Galileo are over. But they are not; they never will be; the human race instinctively and always has it in for Galileo. Kipling could get an audience for tales and ballads and jungle-books; but the moment he tried to speak nationally, he could not get an audience. Even now, they would rather read H. G. Wells.

Do ye wait for the spattered shrapnel ere ye learn how a gun is laid?
For the low red glare to southward when the raided coast towns burn?
(Light ye shall have on that lesson, but little time to learn.)

'Yes, thanks,' came the sarcastic answer from all the wise British millions; 'we jolly well do wait.' And they 'jolly well' did; and a dozen years later it all came true, and their sarcasm was put where it belonged. That is, if they had the sense to see it.

Will ye pray them or preach them, or print them, or ballot them back from your shore?
Will your workmen issue a mandate to bid them strike no more?

Well: it very nearly came to that. But I suggest that you re-read 'The Islanders.' I cannot quote any more. Every word of 'The Islanders' is true to make one weep; and it was the storm-centre of The Five Nations. How many thousands of people felt that, in writing 'The Islanders,' Kipling had destroyed his own reputation! Doubtless the Germans would have felt the same way about 'The Parting of the Columns'; though, if they had read it and had taken the trouble to believe it, it would have saved them a good many millions spent in propaganda. But the Germans were quite as stupid as the British public.

There has been more than one reason, as I have said, for the waning of Kipling's popularity. In the first place, he does not give us so many good stories as once, in the full flush of his genius, he did. That is a perfectly legitimate reason. Then, too, he has had an unlucky trick of seeing ahead. When 'The Edge of the Evening' was first published (in 1913), it passed for hysteria. Only 'fools' believed in German spies—in 1913. But there are other causes more insidious and more potent. He stands, not only politically for the highest type of Toryism,—at least, one fancies he does,—but for a lot of other outdated things: pious attachment to the soil; romantic love, enduring, clean outside and in; the beauty of childhood and the bitterer beauty of parenthood; patriotism unshrinking; and unashamed; loathing of the mob and the mob's madness and meanness; the continuity of the English political tradition, from Magna Charta down; religious toleration; scrupulous perception of differences between race and race, type and type; the White Man's Burden. And I doubt if, even now, he is an ardent believer in Woman Suffrage.

Almost any one of these attitudes would have been enough to damn him with the British democracy. One quite understands that The Five Nations would not have been Mr. Lloyd George's vade mecum. One perfectly sees why Mr. Asquith, following the usual tradition, passed Kipling over for the Laureateship in favor of a gentleman whom few people had heard of and no one could read. ('The Widow at Windsor' probably shocked Balliol as much as it shocked Queen Victoria.) No Kipling-lover, for that matter, particularly wanted Kipling to be Laureate. One even realizes—though this time with amusement—why he is persona non grata to 'the brittle intellectuals that crack beneath the strain.' The intellectuals say that he is good at times for children, and often for the vulgar, and take their refuge in not taking him seriously. The intellectuals have been Russianizing themselves, in these last years; and Kipling's laughter at that phenomenon must have been unholy. They could scarcely afford to feel him remarkably right, it would prove them so remarkably wrong.

As I say, one quite understands why the gorged and flattered workingman, the demagogue, and the 'brittle intellectual' have not read him or listened to him; but it is none the less a mystery that someone should not have listened to him and seen that he was eminently sane on many vital points. There is, after all, no one living in England who writes so well, who is so nearly master of the English language. But one has to conclude that his audience has made up its mind only to be amused during a train-journey.

II

There was a merry little international correspondence in 1914 or 1915 over 'The Truce of the Bear.' What did Mr. Kipling say now? It was all a great joke on him. People also raked up 'The Man Who Was.' I believe Mr. Kipling never replied to his humorous questioners, or, if he did, it was to the effect that a man, like a government, might change his foreign policy with changing conditions. Still, everybody was very much amused, and for some reason (it can have been I only his unpopularity) very much pleased. Perhaps they had not forgiven some of the other poems in The Five Nations, and looked to discredit Kipling by pitching on 'The Truce of the Bear' as they had once pitched on 'The Islanders.' With Russia driving back the Teutons on the eastern front, I do not see that Kipling, as a patriot, could proceed to defend his ancient position very loudly. But I do not remember—here I speak under correction, for his war-poems are very elusive—that even since 1914 he has written of Russia as he has written of France. And I have often wondered if, in the last months, he has not taken a very private comfort in his own refrain of years ago,—

Make ye no truce with Adam-zad, the bear that walks like a man.

He may at least feel that he was essentially right about Russia, if incidentally wrong. If I am not mistaken, 'The Truce of the Bear' was written on the occasion of the invitation to the first Hague Conference. We took it that it was the Tsar whom England was to mistrust. Very likely. But I cannot help believing that Kipling had a private suspicion that the Hague Conference was all tommy-rot. Which, obviously, it was, pragmatically judged. The sheer decency and competence of certain Russian generals did save the world in the first year of the war: let us never forget it. There never was a Russian steam-roller, but the Germans thought there was going to be one. Let us, as I say, never forget it. But for the last year, the Russian people has been behaving allegorically in the sense of the poem.

When he stands up like a tired man, tottering near and near;
When he stands up as pleading, in wavering, man-brute guise....

When he shows as seeking quarter, with paws like hands in prayer,
That is the time of peril—the time of the Truce of the Bear!

Eyeless, noseless, and lipless, asking a dole at the door,
Matun, the old blind beggar, he tells it o'er and o'er;
Fumbling and feeling the rifles, warming his hands at the flame,
Hearing our careless white men talk of the morrow's game;

Over and over the story, ending as he began:—
'There is no truce with Adam-zad—the bear that looks like a man!'

I should be particularly sorry to say anything that German propagandists would like to have said. It is perfectly impossible for the average person to know what is the proper and what the improper attitude to take to Russia at the moment. Even those in high places might be forgiven for being perplexed. What the average person perceives is that the Russians are behaving very much, and very vividly, like 'the bear that looks like a man.' Certainly they stood up at Brest-Litovsk 'in wavering, man-brute guise.'

The only point of all which is that the folk who made so merry, a few years ago over 'The Truce of the Bear' had better find another joke. One does not base the rightness of Kipling on his merely having been a little less ridiculous, in a given instance, than his contemporaries wanted to think him.

I wonder, too,—still as I turn the pages of The Five Nations,—if there is not a tonic value to-day in the poem called 'Sussex.'

God gave all men all earth to love,
        But since our hearts are small,
Ordained for each one spot should prove
        Beloved over all;
That, as He watched Creation's birth,
        So we, in godlike mood,
May of our love create our earth
        And see that it is good.

So one shall Baltic pines content,
        As one some Surrey glade,
Or one the palm-grove's droned lament
        Before Levuka's trade.
Each to his choice, and I rejoice
        The lot has fallen to me
In a fair ground—in a fair ground—
        Yea, Sussex by the sea!

So to the land our hearts we give
        Till the sure magic strike,
And Memory, Use, and Love make live
        Us and our fields alike—
That deeper than our speech and thought,
        Beyond our reason's sway,
Clay of the pit whence we were wrought
        Yearns to its fellow-clay.

The windy internationalism to which we are so often invited, nowadays, to listen, would deny it—might even call it 'chauvinisme de clocher.' The reply is that people actually do feel as Kipling says they do. He has always tended to serve (in his own phrase) the God of Things as They Are. Granted, for the sake of argument, that it would be good for you to love all men and all countries alike, the fact remains that you do not. If that is your duty, most decent people do not perform their duty; their fathers did not, and their children will not. Even the most radical internationalists wish to substitute class-consciousness for patriotism—on the whole, a less enlightened chauvinism than the other. And, judging from the present war, they have not been able to pull even that off.

As for saying that one has the same sense of personal insult in seeing a foreign land invaded as in seeing one's own, that is nonsense. France has been the home of the spirit to many of us; the thought of an invaded France is of a bitterness hardly to be borne. But though one has lived in it and loved it, one is not so angry, in the very depths of one, at Teuton occupation of France as one would be at Teuton occupation of one's own soil. I will not say what German invasion of my own New England would be to me. 'Ten generations of New England ancestors' would rise up to curse the enemy. But even an invaded Oshkosh (and Oshkosh is a mere name to me) would be to me, an American, an even deadlier insult than an invaded Paris. I should take it more personally, I know. And if that can be so for us, in our far-flung, heterogeneous republic, what must be the case with the children of homogeneous France? If I know that I should feel that way about Oshkosh, what must the Kentish man feel about Kent, the Devonshire man about Devon, the Englishman about England? Did not all sane Americans between Bangor and San Diego react in precisely similar fashion to Herr Zimmermann's plans for Texas? I have never even been in Texas, but Texas belongs to me and I belong to it.

No: say what you please, geography is the great human science; it is more intimate than biology. And Kipling has had the sense to see it because he really knows something about the genus homo. It was a delightful phrase of the Frenchman's that charmed our youth—'the passion for the planet'; but are we not a little undeceived now? Do we not at last realize that the only real 'man without a country' is the cosmopolite? If there be such a person.

I can almost hear someone quoting ironically,—

But there is neither East nor West, border nor breed nor birth,
When two strong men stand face to face, though they come from the ends of the earth.

That is very taking; and in a sense it is true, thank Heaven. But I fancy Kipling would want to modify it now. At least he would like to write a footnote containing a careful definition of the word 'strong.' It would not apply to the average German.

Kipling was called, for many years, by the pacifist-Liberals, a jingo. All imperialists were, ex officio, jingoes. Some of these people have got into their heads, by this time, the conception of a 'preparedness' that makes for peace, and realize the difference between a real jingo and a man who wants to avert war in the only way possible when a considerable portion of the world remains militaristic. We all know by this time that, if England had been prepared in 1914, there would have been no war in 1914; that, very probably, if Sir Edward Grey had been empowered to say, at the proper instant, that England would fight, there would have been no war in 1914. Had 'The Army of a Dream' been there, the mailed fist would not have been shaken at the world. But that is ancient history. It is to be hoped that everyone who preached preparedness in the old days is not now stigmatized as a jingo. If anyone still thinks of Kipling vaguely as a war-mad imperialist, let him read 'The Settler':—

Earth where we rode to slay or be slain,
        Our love shall redeem unto life;
We will gather and lead to her lips again
        The waters of ancient strife,
From the far and fiercely guarded streams
        And the pools where we lay in wait,
Till the corn cover our evil dreams
        And the young corn our hate.

That is not the accent of the dyed-in-the-wool jingo.

And here again,—still out of The Five Nations,—the 'Half-Ballad of Waterval':—

They'll never know the shame that brands—
        Black shame no livin' down makes white,
The mockin' from the sentry-stands,
        The women's laugh, the gaoler's spite.
        We are too bloomin' much polite,
        But that is 'ow I'd 'ave us be ...
        Since I 'ave learned at Waterval
        The meanin' of captivity.

Written at least fifteen years ago—and still, I fancy, the core of the matter. Certainly very different from imperialistic-militaristic conceptions of the rights of prisoners as exemplified by—Wittenberg, let us say.

III

All these later quotations go to show merely that Kipling need not have been so slanged for The Five Nations, since in much of The Five Nations he has pretty well expressed fundamental British feeling—as is now, day by day, being proved. And—let us face it squarely—fundamental British feeling is on the whole the most decent on earth. As Americans, we like to think that we share it. No one, to be sure, paid much attention to the poems just cited: they took it out in criticizing things like 'The Lesson,' 'The Islanders,' and 'The Old Men.' Now we find that in those much-execrated poems he told the simple truth. Why not admit it? Admit, that is, ungrudgingly, not only that he has been right since 1914, but that he was right much earlier, and that it is the other people who have had to shift their point of view.

But policies—as well foreign as domestic—have, from of old, made bitter enemies and excited acrimonious controversy. No one could have said anything worse about Kipling than political folk in all the serious English reviews were saying (before the war), all the time, about their political opponents. You could never take up one of those famous periodicals without feeling that vitriol had been spilled in your very presence. If there is a special rhetoric of vituperation, the English political article was its textbook. We milder Americans gasped. No Southern gentleman, on the floor of the Senate, ever went quite so far.

So we should expect Kipling to be called horrid names by those who disagreed with him politically, because that is English political manners. No one really minds, except as one has always resented the doom of Cassandra. What one does mind, what one does resent, is the judgment of the 'intellectuals' on Kipling's general human knowledge. They seem to agree with Oscar Wilde that, in turning over the pages, 'one feels as if one were seated under a palm-tree reading life by superb flashes of vulgarity.... From the point of view of literature Mr. Kipling is a genius who drops his aspirates.... He is our first authority on the second-rate, and has seen marvelous things through key-holes, and his backgrounds are real works of art.' Even Henry James spoke of him tentatively, as a young man who had gone a long way before breakfast. Politics always make people see red; but the human emotions in general, people ought to be able to discuss amicably. And the intellectuals have never been willing to discuss Kipling at all. When he is dead, they will, of course. But at present they still consider him negligible.

Now no one—unless Rudyard Kipling himself—is less tempted than I to set Rudyard Kipling up as 'saint and sage,' or to try to establish a Kipling philosophy or a Kipling cult. You may take a man seriously without taking him religiously, I should hope. But the intellectuals take other people religiously, not to say seriously; and why Kipling is to be forever relegated by our arbiters of taste to the ranks of the frivolous or the hysterical or the vulgar, passes the normal understanding.

Two demands can respectably be made on a writer, in order that he should be taken 'seriously': that he should be to some extent a master of style, and that he should have sane and serious things to say about life. To those who insist that Kipling is not a master of English style, one has, really,—now I come to think of it,—nothing to say. Especially as many of them will tell you, with straight faces, that Galsworthy, or Arnold Bennett, or someone else, is a master of style. Mostly, it means that they care so little about what he says that they belittle his way of saying it. They persist in taking a purely momentary point of view. Kipling, I fancy, can afford to await the judgment of posterity. He is destined to become a great English name.

There are probably several reasons for this critical scorn. One is that he writes short stories, and short stories are not yet as dignified as novels—unless the writer be Maupassant. Some of the critics have never read anything but the earliest Kipling. Largely, it is because they have not the faintest approximation to a Chaucerian or Shakespearean sense of life,—life, good and bad, high and low, grave and gay,—and they find no charm, no 'distinction' in the blessed, common, earthy Englishness of the English scene. Most of all, they are uninterested in the very universality of the emotions and events he deals with: patriotism, love, childhood and parenthood, duty, and death. Nor have they much taste for laughter. As for tradition, they are so busy scrapping it, that they are not concerned with illustrations of its continuity and deathlessness.

I could get up a better brief for Kipling on the human score, if I were not making it a point of honor to stick to The Five Nations. For Kipling has gone on very much, even since then. The Five Nations deals particularly with the Boer War and reactions after the Boer War. His more explicitly 'human' wisdom is not to be found there in greatest measure. Yet in some ways The Five Nations came home to us just now more than other things, when we were in the midst of the very war which he therein prophesied.

Take the 'Chant-Pagan.' When the war is over, there will be some millions of Englishmen (to leave out the other Allies) who will come home singing that chant—if not literally, then in spirit. In fact, that is the most encouraging thing in all Kipling for the reformers—except that I do not believe the returned soldier will care much more for the English industrial paradise than for the 'Squire an' 'is wife.' Even old-age pensions and the abolition of great estates, and all the other articles of Lloyd George's faith, are not going to make him happy. He is going to know too much about real values. There is just a chance that, after having saved England in the field, he may save England at home. There will—God send!—be so many of him. No man can prophesy; and yet already, in America, one hears people wondering about our own boys, in the very sense of the 'Chant-Pagan'.

Naturally, as I say, the more personal human relations are not dealt with in The Five Nations. But there remains 'The Second Voyage.' I do not know that anything saner or wiser or more poignant has ever been written about that love between man and woman which is the bulwark of Occidental civilization. No one can deal more tenderly than Kipling with the idyll between boy and girl—look at 'The Brushwood Boy.' He can even deal convincingly with the great illicit love (though it is not a favorite theme of his)—witness 'Without Benefit of Clergy' and the great paragraph in 'Love o' Women.' But the love that he most often treats is the love between husband and wife: the love that is built on shared tears and laughter, on deep domestic sympathies and clean sex-attraction, the love that many waters cannot quench. In 'The Second Voyage' he explicitly renounces all others; it expresses love, if you like, more or less according to the prayer-book. He sacrifices to the god of Romantic Marriage. If you choose to put it that way, there ain't a lady livin' in the land as he'd change for 'is dear old Dutch. Perhaps that is why they call him vulgar. Many of our 'serious' contemporaries appear to resent any account of human relations that is both vitally human and essentially decent, because it leaves at one side their two preferred groups: the very sophisticated, and the criminal classes.

I suspect that one difficulty, for the more sincere, if still brittle, intellectuals, lies in the unconventional verse-forms which Kipling often affects. They can stand any amount of slang in prose, but they cannot endure it in verse. At least, they do not believe that 'high seriousness' can wear such a garb. I dare say they would throw out even 'The Second Voyage' on the score of unconventionality. Well: let them. I was going to quote some of it, but I am too out of temper with the intellectuals. They may read it for themselves. And probably none of the moderns would be able to endure the mention of 'Custom, Reverence, and Fear.' I give it up. But they need not think that Kipling's own education in the matter of sex-relations stopped with the Gadsbys.

To the mind of the serious Kipling-lover, the thing that grows more and more impressive is his universality. Perhaps it seems to some an unimportant list of allegiances that I have mentioned: 'pious attachment to the soil; romantic love, enduring, clean outside and in; the beauty of childhood and the bitterer beauty of parenthood; patriotism unshrinking and unashamed; loathing of the mob and the mob's madness and meanness; the continuity of the English political tradition, from Magna Charta down; religious toleration; scrupulous perception of differences between race and race, type and type; the White Man's Burden.' Many a man has had a tablet in Westminster Abbey for a lesser creed. And almost no one has sought his wisdom and his delight in so many places or so many classes of society. Engineers, subalterns, ladies of the manor, cockney privates, Hindu bearers, Boer farmers, half-caste Portuguese nursemaids, Gloucester fishermen, bank clerks, reporters, young English children, German scientists, law lords, public-school boys, lamas, pilots, children of the zodiac, even the beast-folk of the jungle—what a Shakespearean welter, and, humanly speaking, what a Shakespearean result! It is the 'good gigantic smile o' the brown old earth.' And the far-flung adventure has brought Kipling back to a very simple but not too easy code. At least, one cannot say that he sticks by the most English of English traditions because he has never seen anything else. He has had room and chance to choose. He has ended by being very orthodox, not to say conventional, about the fundamental human duties; and he reads history with a canny eye. But I do not think anyone can accuse Kipling of being a stick-in-the-mud. 'With the Night Mail' does not look so Jules Verne-ish now as it did when it was printed. Perhaps some day we shall even have to give the benefit of the doubt to the later 'flight of fact' called 'As Easy as A. B. C.' Though I admit that that is going far.

Just there, I did leave The Five Nations for the moment; but it is impossible to mention 'As Easy as A. B. C.' and not also quote some of 'MacDonough's Song.'

Whether the People be led by the Lord,
        Or lured by the loudest throat;
If it be quicker to die by the sword
        Or cheaper to die by vote—
These are the things we have dealt with once,
        (And they will not rise from their grave)
For Holy People, however it runs,
        Endeth in wholly Slave.

Whatsoever, for any cause,
        Seeketh to take or give
Power above or beyond the Laws,
        Suffer it not to live!
Holy State or Holy King—
        Or Holy People's Will—
Have no truck with the senseless thing.
        Order the guns and kill!

Saying—after—me:—

Once there was The People—Terror gave it birth;
Once there was The People and it made a Hell of Earth.
Earth arose and crushed it. Listen, O ye slain!
Once there was The People—it shall never be again!

Easy enough to see why Kipling is not popular. Yet Kipling is by no means the only person who is warning us that mob-rule may come and sweep away our institutions. Most people who fear that event are doing their best to ingratiate themselves with the mob before it wholly loses its temper. I confess that—politics apart, and as a mere matter of dignity—it is a comfort to hear some man speak in another spirit and sense than that of craven conciliation. I have not quoted from 'MacDonough's Song' because I think it is a great poem; but because it is perhaps the most nakedly, blatantly 'unpopular' thing Kipling has ever written. There it is, openly admitted, in all its offensiveness—his greatest crime. Damn him for it if you feel inclined, but confess that to write as uncompromisingly as that is better manners than to have loathing or fear in your heart and honey on your lips. 'We reason with them in Little Russia,' says Dragomiroff in 'As Easy as A. B. C.' Well, it looks as if, several generations ahead, that might still be the method in Little Russia. The story was written in 1912.

The Five Nations ends with 'The Recessional,' which preceded the Boer War by three years. And there is nothing to add to the 'Recessional,' even now; except that Germany needs to read it, at present, more than England does. All that I have meant to do is to point out that Kipling was right about preparedness, right about the Colonies, right about Germany, right about Russia, right about the Boers, right about Kitchener, right about demagogues and 'labor,' right about the elderly politicians, right about the decent British code, right about patriotism and the human heart—right about love. And that for all those things (except the last) he was slanged as if he were wrong. In political matters, 'thought is free,' with us, at least. But in the matter of literary criticism, it seems a pity not to realize the worth and distinction of the few people we have who possess either. I have been told that Kipling still sells better than any other author in America. When I think of Harold Bell Wright, I hope, for the credit of America, that it is true. Perhaps the attitude of the intellectuals is mere snobbishness, which cannot consent to think a best-seller literature. But, as I say, it is a pity that the greatest living master of English style (for Conrad's is a restricted field) should not be confessed to as such by the few who still profess to care about style. One would not mind so much if they did not commend such a lot of third-rate stuff.

I am glad that Kipling himself has the vulgar consolation of royalties. He has, to be sure,—I repeat,—the disadvantage of telling the truth prematurely. If we have just about caught up with The Five Nations—well, let us hope that the argument from analogy will not work in this case: that we shall never have to catch up with 'As Easy as A. B. C.'; that that, at least, may not be an instance of his remarkable rightness. For it does not make one happy about the immediate future.

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