A Letter From England

THE past year has, indeed, been a year of emotions. Never before, in the memory of the immediately present generation, has so universal and so sincere a wave of national feeling intoxicated the average Englishman. Nor has the occasion been wholly frivolous, the demonstration entirely without dignity. For whether the existence of a well-defined policy, dating many years before the Raid, — to “ republicanize South Africa” and to “drive the British into the sea,” — is ever honestly proven, or whether the cry of “ The Empire in danger” is found to have been no more than the invention of a chartered press in the service of alien financiers, we have unquestionably stumbled into an imperial crisis of unparalleled magnitude and historic significance.

Until the secret history of the tortuous and discreditable diplomacy pursued alike by Boer and Briton toward each other and toward the colored people, their servants, is authentically exposed, we cannot, in common justice, refuse to face the two entirely divergent interpretations to which it is liable.

A great majority of those who are not mere slaves to militarism or commercial greed still hold to the position, so ably set forth in Mr. J. P. Fitzpatrick’s The Transvaal from Within, that every difficulty in South Africa has been in reality the direct consequence of an undying struggle for domination between the two European races in possession. They discover a steady and unscrupulous development of anti-English legislation, designed to thwart the injured outlander at every turn by denying his political rights and hampering his private life, and carried out with a brilliant combination of cunning, corruption, and brutality. Mr. Fitzpatrick has manifestly overreached himself in the attempt to whitewash the Reform Committee, even while throwing over Dr. Jameson ; but he has created an almost irresistible impression of the incompatibility of Boer methods and ideals with that ostensibly humanitarian form of decency and justice, so essential to commercial prosperity, which we have always claimed as the British brand of civilization. The average Boer, and President Kruger in particular, would certainly seem to have been continually and consistently in opposition to our ideas of progress. The eight hundred and fifty-nine pages lately devoted by “ Vindex ” to the Political Life and Speeches of Cecil Rhodes, empire-maker, provide a solid basis for such contentions.

There is, on the other hand, a small but increasing body of thoughtful and resolute Liberals, whose contentions are eloquently embodied in Mr. J. A. Hobson’s The War in South Africa. They dwell much on the natural community of interests between the white races in the colonies and the republics, particularly for protective purposes toward colored peoples, and maintain that honest overtures had already done much for a working federation. They view the attitude and conduct of the Boers as entirely defensive against a perpetually encroaching and treacherous invader, to whom the principle of patriotism — in other people — is unintelligible, the neighborhood of a weaker enemy a constant temptation to plunder, and the possession of gold fields a perpetual incitement to dishonesty. They consider that the English nation has been tricked into this war by a small ring of international capitalists, with the sole object of “ securing for the mines a full, cheap, regular, and submissive supply of Kaffir and white labor,” under conditions of practical slavery.

On neither reading is the record or the prospect especially satisfactory. We have been, in the past, at once perfidious to our enemies and ungrateful to our loyal colonists. We have broken promises in secession and pledges in expansion. The negotiations terminating in the present war were at least as disingenuous on our side as on that of the Boers, though both parties may claim their previous experiences of each other as an excuse for duplicity. And as Mr. Hobson effectively points out, “ what basis for legitimate respect are we offering, by bearing down through sheer numerical superiority a people who will rightly boast that we tried to meet them man to man, and ignominiously failed ? ”

Yet now, at any rate, there is but one question in South Africa, “ the struggle for British imperial or Boer republican predominance; ” and it would seem that the very existence of our Empire is turning on the inclusion or the exclusion of South Africa from its sphere of influence. Has England shown, during the progress of the war, any honest desire to face the position and recognize her responsibilities ? Imperialism is on its trial. It may prove to be “ a mere catchword vaguely denoting our insular self-conceit,” or " a well-considered policy to be pursued by a commonwealth of the communities flying the British flag.”

The occasion has grown, however unexpectedly, to be serious enough not only politically, but personally. Every son and daughter of the Empire has been confronted with torturing anxiety, true tales of primal heroism, and sudden death.

Theoretically we despise emotion, still more its expression; and when we do forget ourselves, our check books, and our top-hats, the result is not edifying. Drunkenness and rioting have marred our “ carnivals ; ” vulgarity and corruption have absorbed the press, with a few honorable exceptions ; while some of our newspaper posters, topical street toys, and music hall “ turns ” have betrayed a flagrant lack of taste. Liberty of speech has been seriously, though temporarily, of course, curtailed; while all opponents of the government’s policy, foolishly called pro-Boers, are publicly insulted — without official rebuke — and privately boycotted. Charges of treason are flung broadcast by Khaki enthusiasts.

Such manifestations, however, can never prove that England’s nobler feelings were untouched. Our reverses, which M. de Bloch attributes mainly to the fact that all military progress has been to the advantage of the defense, were accepted with clinched teeth and resolute silence. We rejoiced most conspicuously over the relief of our soldiers from circumstances of cruel suffering, and refrained from malicious triumph over the capture of Cronje and the death of Joubert. “ The moving rally of our citizens from beyond the seas — from snowland and sunland, from Canada, from Australia and New Zealand — has set a seal on the unity of the Empire such as no parchments of confederation can bring.” And finally there has arisen among us a new moral force to be reckoned with, the power of a sentient crowd, a new vitality, at once general and individual. There is much significance in the mere fact of comradeship between classes, evoked by common losses; the unwonted loosening of tongues, for example, in ’buses, trains, and upon street corners, the eager discussion of news. And though many of the brute instincts, lately shedding their veneer of civilization, must afford a smart reproof to our complacency, it is none the less become evident that the practice and the dangers of battlefields can actually teach a man to look at life more seriously than in times of peace. For war is not merely, as the military expert would have us believe, a measure adopted by statesmen to gain their ends. It may be also the vital expression of a sentiment; and it is not unduly paradoxical or optimistic to suggest that the present crisis has given an articulate voice to that vague but strong emotion of wider citizenship which stood behind the tawdry pomp and circumstance of the Jubilee, and inspired Mr. Kipling’s Recessional.

Patriotism, in its narrower sense, has long lost its power over Englishmen, for the simple reason that they have no opportunities of exercising it. We can benefit our country to-day only by executive detail and social reforms, which in some way always fail to stir the imagination. Prosperity, material progress, and undisputed supremacy have sapped the national backbone, till that last worst sign of idle luxury has gained its fatal hold through indifference to life, fear of death and forgetfulness of heroism. The war has proved conclusively that grit at the core is still our own; but if it should throw us back upon mere pride of arms, so unfortunately suggested by Lord Roberts’s shocking reference to the relief of Ladysmith as a revenge for Majuba, we care little for the heritage. It should more properly, and more probably, awaken in the minds of every true Englishman a new sense of the importance of life and the virtue of courage, through some realization, however feeble, of new and wider responsibilities in the interests of civilization as a whole.

The goal of modern imperialism has been admirably stated in the manifesto of the Fabian Society, — the only party here to-day with a definite policy, an active conscience, and a living ideal: —

“ The problem before us is how the world can be ordered by Great Powers of practically international extent, arrived at a degree of internal industrial and political development far beyond the primitive political economy of the founders of the United States and the AntiCorn Law League. The partition of the greater part of the globe among such Powers is, as a matter of fact that must be faced, approvingly or deploringly, now only a question of time ; and whether England is to be the centre and nucleus of one of these Great Powers of the future, or to be cast off by its colonies, ousted from its provinces, and reduced to its old island status, will depend on the ability with which the Empire is governed as a whole, and the freedom of its government and its officials from complicity in private financial interests, and from the passions of newspaper correspondents who describe our enemies as ' beasts.’ ”

And again : “ The simple answer to the military plan of holding the Empire is that it is impossible. The pretension to it only destroys the prodigious moral force which is at our disposal the moment we make inclusion in the British Empire a privilege to be earned instead of a yoke to be enforced. Our one threat should be the threat of repudiation and the withdrawal of our officials. It would be so powerful that no British province would dare, in the face of it, to abuse its powers of self-government to institute slavery or debase the standard of life for its workers.”

A very similar note is struck in a thoughtful and lucid work entitled The Settlement after the War in South Africa, by Dr. M. J. Farelli, an advocate of the Supreme Court of Cape Colony, who has himself played a distinguished and honorable part in attempting to secure a peaceful solution of the difficulties he is discussing. He conceives of “ the heritage of the British Empire as the most glorious instrument of justice the world has yet seen,” and as “ a trust for the whole human race.” In the face of such language, it is, indeed, somewhat disquieting to discover that Dr. Farelli, in common with our press imperialists of the moment, is inclined to disclaim the particular moral attitudes by which our expansions have been commonly excused. He laments, for example, that “ British Parliaments, until quite recently, have not taken wide views of foreign relations, or of the necessity of safeguarding British trade.” He condemns at once the sturdy Puritanism of the sixteenth century, and the “humanitarian wave of sentiment” of the nineteenth. Yet our claims as schoolmaster of the world pursuing a Godgiven mission would seem to rest on the upholding of small nationalities, the teaching of Christianity, and the ideal, at least, of being humane toward subject races. From conquest the instrument of justice, we are in danger of turning justice into an instrument of conquest.

Dr. Farelli himself points the warning, when he says of “the people in South Africa: ” “ It will be a fatal error to suppose that so-called ' practical ’ considerations — meaning those of immediate pecuniary gain — must necessarily decide their future action. . . . Of all facts, the most stubborn and creative are the ingrained beliefs and prejudices of a people, which are mostly attributed to quite other causes than a regard for their material interests. A generalization which is correct enough when applied to operators on the Stock Exchange fails to explain the action of a generation of Huguenots who lost all in fleeing from France.”

Much has been wisely written, both in Dr. Farelli’s book and in the Fabian manifesto aforesaid, concerning the details of future government in South Africa, where military rule must be brief and restricted, a free constitution and responsible government guaranteed at the earliest possible moment, and the exploitation of minerals regarded primarily as a fund for state purposes.

The result of the general election affords some indication of the country appreciating its responsibilities. The exceptionally heavy polling — despite an almost foregone conclusion — points to our recognizing the seriousness of the issues at stake; and the dishonorable appeal for votes on the Khaki enthusiasm was treated according to its deserts. In face of complete disorganization in the Liberal party, and since neither side of the House had chosen to formulate a policy, the electorate naturally determined that those who caused the wound should find the cure. The onus of settlement comes by right to the ToryUnionist camp ; but their failure to secure any increase in their majority will have taught them that the Englishman who rallies unquestionably to the flag does not thereby resign his liberty of speech and judgment. In the future we must know exactly how far we intend to go, and for what end.

Books on the war itself are more plentiful than edifying or instructive. Reprinted in most cases from newspaper correspondence, they are little more than clever snapshots ; caught on the run, as it were, hastily grouped in series, and loosely sewn in covers.

But Dr. Conan Doyle has produced in The Great Boer War a responsible record with astonishing rapidity and most commendable thoroughness. While admitting that a fuller knowledge may give an entirely different meaning to some of the events of the Boer war, he has every right to claim that his judgments and criticisms have been made without fear or favor, under the inestimable advantage of having visited the scene of this great drama, met many of the chief actors in it, and seen with his own eyes something of the actual operations. In rather more than fifty pages of history, admirably concise and lucid, if not quite impartial, he has traced the course of events by which the nation has come once more “ to be tested by that hammer of war and adversity by which Providence still fashions us to some nobler and higher end.” The summary is followed by a readable and continuous narrative of an eventful campaign, in which every detail becomes intelligible and every manoeuvre is brought to light. His final chapter is concerned with the military lessons which can no longer be neglected in the face of experience.

Dr. Doyle has no difficulty in justifying the comments of a civilian in this matter; for, to his thinking, the very first lesson of the war has been “ that the army can no longer remain entirely in the hands of the professional soldier and the official, but that the general public must recognize that the defense of the Empire is not the business of a special warrior caste, but of every able-bodied citizen.” He does not entirely realize, perhaps, that popular control in military affairs means the giving to the critical expert of equal if not superior authority to the practical; but his own thoughtful suggestions of reform would not prohibit cooperation. He advocates reserving a comparatively small force of highly organized, well paid professionals — “ constantly encouraged to think and to act for themselves ” — for foreign service, and trusting our home defense to volunteers and to the militia, trained as competent marksmen. He would replace cavalry by mounted infantry, break down the prejudice against a divided battery, and universalize “ the trench and the hidden gun.”

From Dr. Doyle it has been an old promise fulfilled ; but the reputation of the moment is Mr. Winston Spencer Churchill’s. His capture and his escape, his racy comments, his condescensions in approval and audacities in criticism, have sent the press man to Parliament. He will have little difficulty in holding the ear of the public ; for he can write novels, and look after every one else’s business as well as his own.

The anxieties of a grave imperial issue, with an inscrutable Eastern problem, have entirely overshadowed public life, while a stationary majority has encouraged the government in its complacent neglect of home duties. The muchheralded visit of the Australian delegates was but the fixing of a seal on the work of past years, and social reform has been officially at a standstill. Party politics are not edifying in a national crisis, and the reputation of every leading statesman has suffered in some degree.

In the larger humanities men have naturally done little; though here, too, there have been some very notable losses to supplement the long roll call of the battlefield. The death of John Ruskin was scarcely, perhaps, a personal event; for his working days were long over, and his mantle as reformer in art and economy had fallen on William Morris, who actually died before him. The staying power of Ruskin’s teaching, his plea for dignity and cleanliness in art, and for reverence toward nature and simple manhood, has become a national heritage, so far modified to universal acceptance that we no longer recognize its origin. It is as a master of English style that Ruskin lives to-day.

Among scholars, the work of Professor Max Milller has suffered a similar eclipse. To our fathers, with their passion for “ information ” and “ general knowledge,” his popularizing gifts were invaluable ; and the “ Chips ” from his German Workshop have carried the study of philology and comparative religions to unexpected quarters. To-day we are all specialists, but the fact will not justify any depreciation of cultivating influences so widespread as Max Müller’s.

Dr. Martineau was a very different type of the last generation. His keen and lucid intellect was active to the last, and Unitarians can ill spare their scholarly and earnest leader. Lord Russell of Killowen, on the other hand, was scarcely older in years than in mind. The first Roman Catholic Chief Justice since the Reformation was an eager politician and a passionate lover of abstract justice, with a keen eye for horseflesh. He valued a clear head, common sense, and the gift of concentration above all other powers of the intellect. For “ nearly twenty years the history of the common law bar was his history,” and it was only the other day that he startled civic complacency by a public reproof of the Lord Mayor of London for keeping silence under suspicions of financial jobbery and company promoting.

In Dr. Henry Sidgwick, professor of moral philosophy at Cambridge, the world has lost one of the wisest and noblest of his generation. His intellect was of the Greeks, sane, critical, temperate, and in a sense unproductive. But that very genius for seeing both sides, illuminated as it was by polished humor and incisive style, rendered his presence and conversation unceasingly and penetratingly suggestive. Passionate integrity and phenomenal industry, again, have their influence on a philosopher’s friends and pupils ; nor must it be forgotten that difficulties along every path of learning were liable to be smoothed over by his private generosity and ceaseless devotion. In actual daily hard work no fanatic could be more zealous. He was of the first and foremost among the champions of women’s education ; and Improved himself a pioneer to the last by his courageous conviction that, despite the sneers and laughter of the Philistines, an investigator of psychical phenomena is surely fighting to-day in the very vanguard of human thought for the progress of knowledge.

Cambridge has also some special right to mourn for two, not bearing arms, who yet have fallen in the service of the Empire. Miss Kingsley, of the West African Gold Coast, was nursing at Cambridge for almost as many years as she spent weeks in the hospital at Simonstown. And in the little interval between her experiences of the sickroom she became famous, sought out by everybody, universally honored. Yet to those who knew her she was always the same ; possessing a genius for friendship, a sympathetic and unflinching loyalty. Courageous always, in domesticity as in exploration ; vivid in thought and action; graphic ; humorous and witty without a touch of malice, she was the prince of good comrades, and a woman. On the comparative study of races and religions ; on many a field of natural history; on societies for exploration ; and, above all, on councils of the pioneers of commerce and the administrators of outposts, she has left her mark. Her outlook was unquestionably imperialistic, tempered by large humanity, an intrepid zeal for hygienic reform, rare sanity or balance in affairs, and a marvelous sympathy, by no means maudlin, with savage nature. But yesterday she prefixed a memoir of her father, with all the racy vigor and frank veracity of her travels, to a collection of his delightful papers on sport. To-day she is of those whose lives and letters are eagerly anticipated.

The brief record of George W. Steevens, journalist of Egypt, India, America, and “ the conquering Turk,” has certain points of similarity to Miss Kingsley’s. After gaining academic distinctions at the sister university, he became for a short time a Cambridge coach, with literary tastes unusual in that profession. His development into the most brilliant and most popular of our writers for the press was phenomenally abrupt. Without apparently possessing the imagination or creative powers of Mr. Kipling, he exhibited an almost equal gift for rapid, unhewn, and picturesque description; while there seemed no limit to the subjects which he could master at sight and set down for all men’s understanding, with a vigor of line and an instinct for values recalling Beardsley’s methods in decoration. He was a literary impressionist, with a touch of genius ; and good journalists are as rare as other artists. And Steevens, perhaps, was a partner of Mr. Kipling in another sense. One is Laureate of the Empire, the other her Historian. In his From Cape Town to Ladysmith George Steevens has left a few chapters of vivid and almost impassioned description, which stand for more than the last words of one whom Lord Kitchener has called a model correspondent. He saw little, indeed, of the country, and less of the war ; but nothing escaped him that passed under his eye, and all he gained is given. Every Englishman may know just what happened, just what our soldiers were doing and feeling, where Steevens crossed their path.

For the elder dead that noble collection of monuments entitled The National Dictionary of Biography has been completed, and much has been worthily written in separate volumes. Mr. Edward Clodd’s Memoir of the versatile Grant Allen is commendably brief and readable ; providing a genial and sufficient record of the man’s life work, though missing, perhaps, a little the faunlike affinities underlying his nature.

Mr. Leonard Huxley’s Life of his father is a worthy tribute to the memory of one of the founders of modern science, — the comrade of Darwin and Herbert Spencer. Huxley belonged to the school of agnostic propagandists, now almost extinct, but he was a controversialist by conviction rather than by taste. We are drawn to him, as were his contemporaries, by something over and above his wise knowledge in many fields : by his passionate sincerity, his interest not only in pure knowledge, but in human life; by his belief that the interpretation of the book of nature was not to be kept apart from the ultimate problems of existence; by the love of truth, in short, both theoretical and practical, which gave the key to the character of the man himself.

The recent revival of interest in the author of The Angel of the House, coincident with a wave of Romanism among minor poets and essayists, fully justifies the publication of the Memoirs and Correspondence of Coventry Patmore, by Mr. Basil Champneys. Whether Patmore’s poetical fame is destined to increase or diminish at the hands of posterity, the man himself will remain a significant and attractive personality. The prophet of domestic emotion was never a flabby sentimentalist: his religious conviction and spiritual mysticism were exceptionally sincere; his affections were deep and his friendships loyal.

Miss Clare L. Thomson has produced a reliable and convenient Life of Samuel Richardson, curiously neglected for nearly a hundred years by the biographers ; we have two volumes of Letters by T. E. Brown, published almost simultaneously with a complete edition of his poetical works ; and the two sumptuous reprints of Byron, lately inaugurated, are pursuing their leisurely way toward completion.

In fiction, the most definite tendency of the year has been a general yielding to the temptation of writing quickly and carelessly, on lines that pay. The gift of writing after a fashion has become well-nigh universal; the channels of production are widening and multiplying; the agent has transformed the struggling author into a man of business. As journalism develops, literature degenerates. Contributions to the picturesque press of to-day are just good enough to be reprinted for a season ; mere novelists strain their nerves to keep the pace ; and the ideals of permanent work or a critical reputation are reserved for the diminishing elect.

Although the writing of novels is, perhaps, the one occupation in which there is no sound excuse, and even but little temptation, for separating the work of men and women, it may not be impertinent to remark that every one of our leading women writers is to be found among the honorable exceptions to this rule of unprofitable haste.

Deliberateness, indeed, gives a moral and artistic strength to Mrs. Humphry Ward, though it ruins her style. Her Eleanor, like Mr. Barrie’s Tommy and Grizel, has been already reviewed in The Atlantic, and must be passed over with but a single word. It exhibits the real power of Mrs. Ward: that she always slowly awakens, with terrible intensity, to the ideas which the advanced among us have been fighting with for years, and sets them plainly and effectively in the public eye, under the fierce search light of that honest religiosity, stern practicalness, and middle - class idealism which compose the average English mind.

Charles Kingsley’s daughter is an equally serious writer, though she recognizes no mission outside the service of art. It is eminently characteristic of the two women that while Mrs. Ward is still in the toils of “ problems ” and introspection, Lucas Malet should be crossing the threshold of psychic phenomena, whence come the latest science and the newest faith. The Gateless Barrier is an attempt, of fine reverence and subtle audacity, to imagine a complication in the emotional possibilities of life which might arise from the developments of contact with the spirit world. The old immortal ideal of choosing death in pursuit of a higher life is placed in an entirely new setting, and the picture is infinitely suggestive.

While Mrs. Ward and Lucas Malet, as novelists, were born mature, John Oliver Hobbes is only now abandoning the nursery. The petulant precocity and restless brilliance of her first manner have disappeared ; and she seems at last to have realized that the greatest artists are content to produce their effects in patience, to prefer strong and steady lines over flashing zigzags, and to mass in their characters with sober values. There were grown - up touches in A School for Saints ; Robert Orange is almost entirely human, and it convinces us that the author’s penetrating insight and command of language may one day enable her to write a great novel.

Mrs. F. A. Steel’s work is more difficult to appraise. In her Voices of the Night, as elsewhere, she moves easily amidst a wealth of local color which would support a far less competent writer. The hard brilliancy of Indian life, with its violent contrasts of light and shadow, its phantasmagoria of races, its plagues, its passions, its heroisms, and its vices, can hardly fail to make a novel interesting. Mrs. Steel knows her ground well; she never overcrowds it, or loses her head over its bewildering intricacies. But though the harmony of the picture as a whole is marvelous, its central figures are lacking somewhat in strength. The human story fails to dominate the imagination. We have been on a personally conducted tour and seen life, undoubtedly ; but no new characters have enriched our memory, no mind torment or soul ecstasy has stirred our heart. We look in vain for the wand of the dramatic artist.

There is much unexpected power in Love and Mr. Lewisham, by H. G. Wells. The usual manner of this author, an up-to-date Jules Verne, is entirely without distinction, though excellent of its kind ; but his conversion to the school of healthy realists is an event.

His book is concerned with an almost hackneyed subject,—the struggle between the ambition of an egoist and the love of a man. Despite the digression of Alice Heydinger, — a character recalling the “ red-haired girl ” in Mr. Kipling’s Light that Failed, and Julia in Mr. Gissing’s Crown of Life, — its hero is quite virtuous, respectable, and commonplace, like anybody in real life. He is a normal product of evening continuation classes or extension lectures, and flounders pitifully at an emotional crisis. His life is petty, and even his love is not heroic, though Lucy’s simple goodness makes a man of him in the end. The whole story is spontaneous and natural, and one will expect much of Mr. Wells henceforth.

While Mr. Robert Hichens has betrayed, in his Tongues of Conscience, the strained artificiality which even the brilliancy of his rapid style cannot conceal, two younger writers have evinced an even greater courage of simplicity than Mr. Wells. Mr. Henry Harland was formerly editor of The Yellow Book, and contributed some masterly short stories to that remarkable periodical. But his The Cardinal’s Snuff-Box is an idyllic love story, written with the brain of a man of the world and the heart of a schoolboy. Entirely unsupported by plot, local color, crime, analysis, or “ character ” parts, it captivates the reader by sheer delicacy of form and feeling. It is “ literature ” for the young person, — a rare possession.

Sunningwell, by Mr. F. Warre Cornish, vice provost of Eton, is a quiet picture of a cathedral close, and of Philip More, canon thereof. The aim is to create an atmosphere and a personality, interacting on each other, permeating their surroundings. The form of mingled essay, dialogue, and description is well calculated to support so slight a framework, and the book may be gratefully acknowledged as a relief from many of its contemporaries.

The sobriety of Mr. Henry James is wholly different, for his work provides always the keenest of intellectual stimulants. In The Soft Side, however, he has not given us of his best, though it is a volume of short stories. They are overwhimsical, supersubtie, and too finely drawn. The Great Condition, indeed, will grip the heart; but others are someway provoking, and Europe — the pathetic story of “ the house in all the world in which ' culture ’ first came to the aid of morning calls " — compares unfavorably with the earlier exquisite Four Meetings, on a similar idea.

Two of our novelists have chosen the field of modern politics, and worked on an identical situation. Mr. Zangwill’s The Mantle of Elijah and Mr. Anthony Hope’s Quisanté are alike concerned with the progress of an uncultured egoist to the forefront of political life, over the shoulders of his early teachers, whose principles he has forsaken and whose ideals he has crushed. The personal interest in both is supplied by the marriage of the coarse demagogue to a girl of refined and generous nature, succumbing at first to a dominant personality, and then hating herself for the magnetism of its influence.

Mr. Zangwill, perhaps, has allowed his parable to be inartistically obvious. He uses every detail of the present situation without demur, and indulges at times in open defense of the minority nicknamed “ Little Englanders.” But the point of view has seldom been allowed a fair hearing, of late years, and Mr. Zangwill’s partisanship is eloquent, sincere, and spontaneous ; while no digressions can weaken the charm of his impulsive and generous heroine, spoil his drawing of a practical Christian woman, or fog the atmosphere of moral earnestness that pervades his work. Quisanté stands further aloof from current temporalities. The more detached study in a conflict of temperaments gives clearer sway to the dramatic development of a situation. But the book lacks conviction. It reads like an experiment, and, what is even less pardonable, the repetition of an experiment. The recurrence of types and atmospheres would seem to come from the man who writes because he will, and not because he must. There is much of A Man of Mark, and perhaps even more of The God in a Car, in Quisanté.

Mr. Hope is seldom, indeed, at his best on subjects of modern life, —always excepting the Dolly Dialogues. In the hands of most men romance moves on broader lines than realism; with him it is more subtle. And, contrariwise, Mr. E. F. Benson works more surely and easily in the society he knows first hand. His The Princess Sophia is a clever extravagance, but no more. The plot develops in a small principality, frankly borrowed from Stevenson or Mr. Hope, and may be given due license accordingly. But the requisite graces of style and a tender imagination are not here, and the innovation proves unfortunate for Mr. Benson.

Mr. Kipling has done little new work this year; but the papers included in From Sea to Sea have been long inaccessible, and are welcome. Somehow they suggest Mr. Stead, written in vigorous English and lit up by imagination. They form the diary of a journalist of genius, having a taste for slums, which yet fill him with hatred and indignation. One almost wonders why Mr. Kipling should have studied so closely the terrible problems of the vices of the East, when he tells you with such insistence how sick they make him. Perhaps in those days lie had not learnt to take himself quite seriously, and actually “ did ” things in search of copy. There is no question about what he found, and the use he made of it.

In almost every department of literature the numerical output shows no sign of diminishing, however inferior its quality, although the immediate developments of civilization seem hostile to the mere production of poetry. But The Wild Knight, and Other Poems, by Gilbert Chesterton, is a volume of rare promise. We have here the revelation of positive originality, the expression of independent thought, and the music of daring imagination. Mr. Chesterton has a message, an outlook, and a style of his own ; he is not afraid of himself ; he loves mankind and honors God. Though obviously admiring, and influenced by, Robert Browning, he is not imitative in form or matter; and his inspiration comes more from life than from books. He is at once strenuous and romantic ; vibrant to every wail and every song of humanity, but full of visions and prophecies. His intensely religious nature sings ever of the joy of life and the laughter of heaven ; not in blindness, but by right of spiritual intrepidity. The two verses of Ecclesiastes contain a summary of his philosophy : —

“ There is one sin : to call green leaf gray,
Whereat the ann in heaven shuddereth.
There is one blasphemy : for death to pray,
For God alone knoweth the praise of death.
“ There is one creed ; ’neath no world-terror’s wing
Apples forget to grow on apple-trees.
There is one thing is needful — everything —
The rest is vanity of vanities.”

At times Mr. Chesterton is perhaps unwisely fantastic, and his love of emphasis has ruined some of his best work ; but such faults may be forgiven to immaturity. For the most part, his apparent extravagance or obscurity may be explained by the freshness of his point of view. A new poet does not speak the language of his fellows: he sees where they are groping in deep shadows; he feels what is stirring beneath their consciousness. The Wild Knight is frank and full-blooded, indignantly anti-decadent and genially humane. It is in tune with our noblest and most recent impulses toward high seriousness, manly enthusiasm, and spiritual faith. A lyrical gift, too seldom indulged, a rare command of language, and richness of imagination are the ingredients of true poetry. In all probability, when Mr. Chesterton is better known his first volume will be more appreciated. Some of it will survive its author.

It is a pleasing coincidence, perhaps not unwholly undesigned, that the year in which the English nation has received the Wallace Collection in Hertford House — the most princely of artistic endowments — should he marked by unusual activity in the production of illustrations and biographies of painters. Sir Walter Armstrong’s Sir Joshua Reynolds, Lord Gower’s Sir Thomas Lawrence, haply coupled, and Mr. Andrew Lang’s beautifully decorated work on Prince Charles, are fine examples of modern technique. Mr. By am Shaw has executed some strong and imaginative pictures from Shakespeare, which are worthy of a better setting than the neat pocket edition in which they are issued; and Mr. William Nicholson has surpassed his genius for caricature in a brilliant series of pastels of Characters from Romances, where Mr. Tony Weller follows Don Quixote, and Sophia Western smiles but a page or two from Gargantua. Dr. G. C. Williamson’s admirable handbooks of the Great Masters in Painting and Sculpture, with their sound critical biographies and adequate illustrations, are gradually forming a complete and readable encyclopaedia of the subject; while The Artist’s Library of Mr. Lawrence Binyon, in which somewhat less established genius is more unconventionally treated, provides a welcome appendix for the initiate.

Dramatically it has been an eventful year, both for stage and study. The practice of publishing plays has grown apace: Mr. Benson has established a “repertoire” season; the problem play has taken a new lease of life ; the drama in blank verse has been revived. Literary craftsmen, wisely dissatisfied with the dramatized novel, have embarked on original work, and style is reasserting its sway behind the footlights. Managers have shown a certain amount of courage in the choice of old or new work, and there have even been cases in which the persons of the drama are suffered to divert attention from the personators.

Mr. Benson’s Shakespearean Series, now permanently though privately endowed, is a solid achievement of artistic integrity. Though hampered, like Sir Henry Irving, by several obvious personal limitations and mannerisms, and not possessed of that master’s dominant genius, he always presents a definite and serious conception of his part with careful energy. Where most of the company are well trained and competent, some even original, and where the primary responsibility for our entertainment rests with Shakespeare, the personality of the “ star ” actor is, fortunately, not all-important. Mr. Benson’s triumph is gained by intellectual courage, and more by what he does than by the way in which it is done. The opportunity of seeing a complete Hamlet — twice the length of the usual stage version, and producing an entirely different effect — and of living for weeks under the spell of Shakespeare’s imagination, as the long run of a single play can never render it, is a benefaction for which one cannot forget to be grateful.

For playwrights of to-day a somewhat similar service is being rendered by a private club, called the Stage Society, which arranges one or two performances of Ibsen, Maeterlinck, and Hauptmann, George Bernard and the Henley-Stevenson partnership, and thereby gives its members the chance of testing the finest contemporary work. Hauptmann has never before appeared on the English stage, and his vivid dramatic instinct, defying tradition, strikes a new note.

The Second Mrs. Tanqueray has received a new and fascinating interpretation at the hands of Madame Duse. The exciting and novel episode of a visit from native Japanese actors, performing in their own language, has been supplemented by the exquisite and daring Madam Butterfly, adapted from Mr. Luther Long’s story of that name. Mr. Henry Arthur Jones has tried his hand at a farce, The Lackey’s Carnival, which does not please the public; and written a conventional “ problem ” play for Mr. Wyndhain, redeemed by the technical mastery of its second act. The same old tiresome story of a noble woman with a past is fluently handled in Mr. Sydney Grundy’s A Debt of Honour.

Mr. J. M. Barrie, indeed, cannot escape the familiar topic ; but his Wedding Guest is informed by a moral and artistic sincerity of rare distinction. The play is not, properly speaking, constructed at all; its dramatic movements vanish and reappear like a jack-in-the-box, and the situation wanders away to nowhere in particular. The author’s power rests entirely in his devotion to the creatures of his invention, which forces response from the audience. It is the conquest of a frank and eager personality. Fresh materials and new treatment are reserved for Mr. Frank Harris, whose Mr. and Mrs. Daventry is an offense to many, because it shows vice attracting vice, and virtue loving virtue, where stage conventions demand cross links. It touches, moreover, a normally “ unpleasant ” problem, and there is safety in the abnormal. Mr. Harris seems to have studied character from real life, and his tragedy does not rest on the old cry against “ one law for men and another for women.” It lies deeper, and is more fearlessly exposed. His language, also, is simple and effective, and his stagecraft illuminates the plot without being flashy or melodramatic.

Mr. Stephen Phillips is no less daring than Mr. Harris, but he produces quite different effects by methods entirely dissimilar Summoning to his aid the full “ pomp and circumstance ” of Elizabethan romanticism, he hazards comparisons with Shakespeare by a free treatment of the historic magnificence and passion of Herod. Situation and diction alike bring Antony and Cleopatra to mind, and his verse has many an echo, on the other hand, of Tennyson. There is no question, of course, that he stands far below the masters ; but his courage is fully justified, and he has taught us, what no one else of his generation has dared even to suggest, that poetical drama is neither dead nor dying. Mr. Phillips had a long training as an actor, and gained thereby a mastery in construction and stage effects. In spite of certain hauntingly beautiful and stirring lines, Herod does not contain so much good poetry as Paolo and Francesca, but it is gorgeous melodrama.

Alongside of the intellectual and moral activity distinguishing the churches of to-day, we have had, this year, many notable witnesses among laymen of the highest culture and education to the revived interest in the problems of theology and religion which marks our age and country. The time would seem, indeed, to be past beyond recall when scientific discoveries were regarded as the direct enemies of theology, with a message entirely destructive. For the church, essentially a diplomatic organization, with infinite powers of adaptability, was not slow to recover the ascendency by preaching science and history, somewhat hastily digested, and thus ingeniously diverting the immediate necessity for a revision of faith. The delay was probably to the advantage of truth, since the first pride of science adopted an arrogant materialism, no less dogmatic than the old orthodoxies.

And the reconciliation of science, history, and religion stands upon a firmer basis to-day. In ultimate language, natural science can present us with nothing more definite than “a universal flux, in which something, we know not what, moves, we know not why, we know not whither.” It does not forbid, but rather commands, the assumption that behind the discovered there is the discoverable, beyond the actual the possible.

In religion, again, we may fearlessly apply the scientific method to transfer the burden of support of Christian doctrine, and of religion generally, “ from history to psychology, — perhaps rather from the history of facts to the history of ideas ; ” to justify faith by the study of religious psychology in conjunction with the history of religious ideas. Thus we recognize that the facts, or permanent and inspired part, of religion are subjective, founded on individual experience and consciousness ; its illusions, or temporary structure, are reports of historical events, the translation of spiritual doctrines into the sphere of materialism, and the acceptance of creeds on authority.

Dr. James Ward, professor of logic at Cambridge, in his Naturalism and Agnosticism, has cleared the ground by a masterly and comprehensive attack on agnostic materialism, followed by an unproven deduction of spiritual certitude. Dr. Percy Gardner, professor of archaeology at Oxford, — noting his delight in much agreement with Professor William James of Harvard, — has devoted faculties trained in other fields of observation to a most reverent and suggestive treatise on the origin of Christianity, entitled Exploratio Evangeliea. And Mr. George Santayana, another Harvard professor, with a rare command of English style, has attempted, in a study of religions at once eloquent, scholarly, and sympathetic, to establish the tenet that religion and poetry are identical in essence, and differ merely in the way in which they are attached to practical affairs. Poetry is called religion when it intervenes in life ; and religion, when it merely supervenes upon life, is seen to be nothing but poetry.”

From his Interpretations of Poetry and Religion and from Dr. Gardner’s book the foregoing analysis of a current attitude has been entirely derived ; and it only remains to note a striking parallel between two writers, approaching the subject from such different points of view, in their conjectures for the future.

Mr. Santayana has written : “ Human life is always essentially the same, and therefore a religion which, like Christianity, seizes the essence of that life ought to be an eternal religion. Can it reform its claim, or can it overwhelm all opposition, and take the human heart once more by storm ? ”

Dr. Gardner states unhesitatingly that the principles of his book are in favor of the revival of collective control: “ If religious doctrine be really the intellectual statement of principles of conduct, it at once appears to have an ethical bearing. . . . Any such revival of discipline, of course, involves as a preliminary a revival of belief and an outpouring of religious enthusiasm. . . . The process of crystallization has begun, and it may be that that process is destined to proceed with a rapidity which will astonish those who regard religion as a matter quite private between the soul and its Maker.”

Science is once more confined to its legitimate sphere; morality cannot stir imagination, “ the great unifier of humanity,” and hence may arise the work of the new century, — to inspire the body politic with some higher and spiritual purpose ; to build up, from the deep convictions of her noblest sons, a corporate conscience and a universal church.

R. Brimley Johnson.