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THE CAERLEON EDITION OF THE WORKS OF ARTHUR MACHEN .

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/ THE GAERLEON EDITION OF THE WORKS OF ARTHUR MACHEN VOLUME FIVE HIEROGLYPHICS LONDON: MARTIN SECKER ! ^^ .

London : Martin Seeker (Ltd) 1923 Printed in Great Britain .

HIEROGLYPHICS .

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and succeeded in repeating this feat over and over again since then). many years ago. he talked almost with the joy of a child. in the prehistoric age of the 'seventies. and I became an assiduous visitor of his cell. and he was not sorry to have a listener. he gave as much pleasure as he received. He had found an odd retreat. There had 3 . but as he chose subjects which from have always interested me intensely. But I " " believe that something had happened many years before. Our first meeting was one of those chance affairs that now and then mitigate the loneliness of the London streets. and I never gathered much of his past history. indeed. I think that the Hermit (as I shall him) had begun to find the perpetual solitude of his years a growing terror. at first.PREFATORY NOTE It was my privilege. and a second hazard led to the discovery that we had many interests in call common. He avoided personalities. and had a happy knack of forgetting any that I vouchsafed on my side (he forgot my name three times on the first evening that we spent together. or rather of a prisoner who has escaped the house of silence. to make the acquaintance of the obscure literary hermit whose talk I have tried to reproduce in the pages that follow.

grown wild. straggling boughs brushed the pane. standing apart from the street and sheltered by gaunt-grown trees and ancient shrubs. and of dark. I think. and some of its and the trees like all shrubs. an almost mythical region lying between quite young. The room in which we sat was hung with at fault. house had been built in the early eighteenth century. mouldy house. that twenty rooms in it. there were. and so he had Pentonville and the Caledonian Road. windy nights while we sat together and talked of art and life we would be startled by the sudden violence with which those branches beat angrily upon the glass. black. he occupied two rooms on the ground floor of a big. of a deep and heavy crimson colour. in the most retired street of that retired quarter. and my friend used to declare when a new servant came she spent many months in maze of stairs and finding her way in the complicated was now and then even the that and landlady passages.PREFATORY NOTE been a break of some sort in the man's life when he was left the world and gone to Bamsbury. Often we sat there till the veritable darkness came. and with a even on bright summer evenings the crimson looked almost black. and seemed to cast a shadow into the room. flock paper. and just beside the dim and dusty window of the sitting-room a laburnum had cast a The laburnum had green stain on the decaying wall. and 4 . " for the '* final comparative luxury of doing up someone in the 'tens or 'twenties. Here. I suppose that the The room seemed always dark. and had been altered and added to at various periods.

Against one wall stood a heavy bookcase. In the duskiest corner of the room there was a secretaire of better workmanship. but only the vague growth of the laburnum. the inanimate matter about us found a voice. and then my friend would light two lonely candles on the mantelpiece. and looking through the uncurtained window one could not see even the friendly twinkle of the gas-lamp in the street. It was a large room and gave me always a sense of empty space. and two small tables and three gaunt chairs made up the furnishing. or if he wished to read he set one on a table beside him . I have spent . and used to wonder for a moment whether the man had not vansihed for ever. And it always seemed 5 about him. and if I chanced to be sitting by the window his shape would almost disappear as he neared the secretaire on his march. and I heard the voice. and when the candles were lighted I thought that the gloom grew more intense. where. The Hermit would sometimes pace up and down in the void centre of the room as he talked. and the tangle of boughs beyond. and a vague sound might come from the cellars underneath. when we were silent for an instant. and the decaying beams murmured together. but made in the intermediate period that came between Chippendale and the modem school of machine-turned rubbish. having been resolved into the shadows many evenings in that old mouldering room. with glass doors.PREFATORY NOTE each could scarcely see the white of the other's face. solid and of dark mahogany.

unspeakably ludicrous.PREFATORY NOTE if the crypt-like odour of the cellar rose also room. and I think that he often deliberately talked in S. and I think that he cherished. mingling with a faint suggestion of incense. the atmosphere with its subtle 6 . but I incline to think that he was right in this belief. He would sometimes. though I am sure that my friend never burned it. had the huge merit of interesting no one but ourselves. we held our sessions and talked freely and with to me as into the enjoyment of many curious things. and a lamp that would enlighten all the dark treasure-houses of the Universe. Still. which would have caused to regard any such comparison. a confession of mysticism. which. with delight in the joke. as him C. C. *' the Lamp is in his hands. the notion that he had a system. echoing room." an esoteric philosophy of things. T. T. he was fond. seriously entertained.'s manner. compare himself to Coleridge. as the Hermit would say. with a still greater veneration for that which Coleridge might have achieved. I recall the presence of It that hollow. he liked to regard himself as a very humble disciple in Coleridge's school. of imitating his master's manner as well as he could. whimsically. he had a veneration for Coleridge's achievement. He sought for a key that would open. Here then. For I need hardly say that the comparison was not in any way a serious one. with such surroundings as I have indicated. as I have said. and sometimes he believed that he held both the Key and in the fashion of S.

PREFATORY NOTE
suggestion of incense sweetening the dank odours of the cellar, and the tone of the voice speaking to me, and I
believe that once or twice

we both saw

visions,

and some

glimpse at least of certain eternal, ineffable Shapes. But these matters, the more esoteric doctrines of the
*' system," have entered hardly or not at all into the very imperfect and fragmentary notes that I have made of his conversations on literature.

monomaniac.
significance

I should scarcely be justified in calling him a literary But it is true that art in general and the

art of literature in particular

had

for

him a very high

and interest; and he was always ready to
all

defend the thesis that,
literary art

the arts being glorious, the

was the most glorious and wonderful of all. He reverenced music, but he was firm in maintaining that in perfect lyrical poetry there is the subtlest and most beautiful melody in the world. I can scarcely say whether he wrote much himself. He would speak of stories on which he was engaged, but I have never seen his name on publisher's lists, and I do not think that he had adopted a pseudonym. One evening, I remember, I came in a little before my accustomed time, and in the shadowy comer of the room a drawer in the secretaire was open, and I thought that it looked full of neat manuscripts. But I never spoke to him about his literary work; and I noticed that he did not much care to talk of literature from the commercial standpoint. It is perhaps needless to say that I consulted

my friend
T

PREFATORY NOTE
before publishing these notes of his conversations. I had been forced to leave London for some months, and I

wrote to him from the country, requesting his permission to give to the world (if the world would have them) those judgments on books which I had listened to in Barns*' with bury. His reply allowed me to take my own way,
long as you make me sufficiently not going to compete with *real' critics whose names are printed in the papers but if you can
all

my

heart,
I

so

apocryphal.

am

;

maintain the incognito and allow your readers (supposing their existence) to believe that I am a mere figment of * your brain, you can print my obiter dicta with ease of

body and rest of reins.' Here is a suggestion for a title what do you say to * Boswell in Bamsbury ? But I really had no notion that you were taking notes all the time. Remember keep the secret, and the
i

'

:

secrets.**

tried
*'

I regarded this as a very liberal license, and I have to set in the best order I could compass the

so far as it relates to letters. I do not pretend a verbatim reporter, for I had to trust to my memory, and though I tried to arrange my notes at the

system

"

that I

am

time, I fear I have fallen here and there into confusion. Still, I think that the six chapters which follow will seem
fairly consecutive in their

and the " Appendix "
which the Hermit

—a

argument and arrangement,
confession of failure

is,

in

reality, the result of the "cyclical

in

of discoursing," jocularly professed to follow Cole-

mode

ridge,

S

PREFATORY NOTE
Perhaps indeed Coleridge was deceived, and my dear friend with him, in the hope of real essential knowledge ;
but even so, these fragments which I propose are evidence that the latter earnestly desired the truth and sought it.

A. M.

9

and that there is something august in the imiversal human passion for gambling. the halfcrown is a venture into mystery. even under its most sordid aspects. his delight gain. I think I pointed out at the time that even horse-racing and an interest in "events" are preferable to stagnation. the uncertainty. When the office-boy wins and gets ten shillings for the risk of his *' two-and-six. I remember one day when we were out together you swore at an inoffensive boy who tried to allure us with news of all the winners. with that due flavour which we in England add to most of our interests. that make the real delight of betting.Do you know that just before you came in I found some- I am thing highly significant in the evening paper? afraid from your expression that you rather undervalue the influence of the press indeed. . don't you? that gambling. after all. But you see. is not altogether sordid . 10 who is always . the office" boy who puts on half-a-crown is really only an example of the love of man for the unknown. the hours of of commercialism " that the smallest bet gives to the strange surmise bettor. it is is distinguished not by any means pure love of by a very marked line from the constantly repeated joys of the grocer. it's the mystery. And.

is that even when he he invariably takes the first opportunity of venturing again in the same manner. And. enough. and especially on the grocer's sugary and soapy Perhaps if we were to look with a rather enterprise. in guessing at the song the Sirens sang. form but our office-boy. and his sleeve. in reading the cypher. he is gambling it is course is with loaded dice. into the dim region of surmises. certainly. the Indies have not been discovered on this voyage. wonders on the way. loses. and 11 . Of if the grocer opens his shop with a certainty. betting against a horse that he knows " all to be made right. though he likes the money well . there are always consolations . stands on a much higher plane. we might find that not wholly commercial. in unveiling the hidden treasure that the buccaneers buried on the lonely shore . Casanova died towards the close of the last century. not altogether sordid. in discovering the unknown continent. up it will always meet with out sternest disapproval. he is a wicked fellow . by the way. but there have been delicious expectation. For the moment he is the man who has succeeded in solving the enigma of the Sphinx." playing cards with honours I am sure that if this be his enterprise. he has ventured successfully And when he loses. he has enjoyed many hours of The proof that he likes the sport. perhaps I was a little severe just now on trade. mathematical or almost mathematical. that the public will buy his wares. finer vision into the commercial spirit.HIEROGLYPHICS buying delicious tea at ninepence and selling it at oneHere you have commercialism in its simplest and-six.

But that reminds me of what I was saying just after you had lit your pipe. and uncertainty connotes the unknown. The problem I mean is this How does it happen that the : things have here the real hidden English are both the greatest poets and the greatest tradesmen of the modem world ? Superficially.HIEROGLYPHICS of taste. after all. since then card-sharping has become impossible to a man But seriously. But if we trace back the trading instinct to that love of a risk or in other words to the desire for the unknown the antinomy disappears. Keats and Shelley. I think I remarked that I had seen something of very high significance in the evening paper." uncommercial Latin races. after and and material. spiritual Columbus. and the glare of disgust with which you greeted my observation constituted an interruption. to be of the kin of mystery-mongers. of the and delvers treasure-seekers. and risk means uncertainty. So you see our despised grocer turns out. and it will become perfectly natural that the race which has gone to the world's end with its merchandise. it seems that keeping shops and making poetry are incompatibles. from the unpractical. and Wordsworth and Coleridge. has penetrated so — — gloriously into the further regions of poetry. and the solution of a problem that has often puzzled me. I suppose we explanation of the human trading passion. and an 12 . I suspect that a good deal of the risk allurement that trade possesses for so many of us is the which it almost always implies. Tennyson and Poe„ should have come from Provence or " Sicily.

at the waning of the light Coleridge was still diligently . and And (if young and imprudent) asked him a question." And you will please to — a vice of which Coleridge interest taken remember this when you think that also " " I am wandering was accused. having talked without intermission *' all the cyclical mode of discoursing " the pious Henry Nelson summer day. I believe ?) as a tribute to the enormous by the editors of these agreeable journals in the very latest sporting news . that I have not made out a very convincing case for journalism? But you must remember that my called mental process resembles that of Coleridge you on the Seer at eleven o'clock in the morning. an interest which allows but little space for the discussion of pure literature. but it will do so no longer when you reflect that a Hence burning anxiety as to the running of Bolter is for many 13 . P. and now I hope you will at least assume a thrill of interest when the " All the winners and S. which I diagnosed (and rightly. you would say. A Coleridge called it.HIEROGLYPHICS interruption that had to be dealt with. on the evening paper being mentioned. and he deals faithfully with certain " that they could get no answer persons who complained to a question from Coleridge. perhaps. Now again you seem to hint at doubt with your eyebrows. and the interruption may annoy you. for example. your face expressed disgust and contempt. my remarks on the gambling-spirit. engaged in answering your question for you." It boy bawls in your ear is possible you may be thinking of Ulysses or of Keats at the moment. To-night.

A kind of pinky green. It was the evening paper. a little sickly. doesn't it ? the most extraordinary manner. just as Powers were at work. was rather : misty —October. where that weeps green entangled in that sapless old laburnum tears upon the wall. the perhaps. I was walking up and down it was getting dusk. and the air this evening. But it forced itself on my notice in it seems. I was staring. then. when to my vast astonishment a great pale bird seemed suddenly to shoot up into the air from the it became road. that some But here is. Well. — and — Doom of is the evening paper in question. and I ran out. you will remember. I dare say you have remarked that I do not keep my window in a very brilliant condition. so 14 .HIEROGLYPHICS thousands the symbol of the the only possible symbol Troy and the wandering fields of foam. Yes. the window. and to flutter into the garden. I was making phrases as usual. not a bird. and every now and then I stopped and looked out of the window. and thmking of a new hence the quarterstory in the middle of the old one deck exercise. and I expect you will have to admit. colour the room. I saw. Yes. as I thought. when you have heard the story. and I saw at once that it would be impious to let it flutter there unread. imagining that I was to secure a strange companion for my solitude. grace in I always think. " wild surmise " of and the Isle of Calypso. and the Pizarro and all his men. the beating and fluttering of wings. wears a peculiar Bamsbury so I hope you will not find — dim my out of impressions too incredible.

and these men are issuing printed matter. It was a short comment upon some 1 secured it agitation that is now appealing rather strongly to Progressive leaders. but the subject-matter is of no consequence." matter is called *' literature. and I will do myself the justice to say that I at once recognised the communication that was addressed to me in this singular and even I may say Arabian fashion. meditating the adventure. Here it is '* ments have : We been are glad to hear that extensive arrangemade for the dissemination of literature. it may be a brief history." You surprise me.Hieroglyphics and brought it in. it : 15 . I told you I was not very precise as to the exact scope of the agitation alluded to ^it may be a question of a heavy tax on — persons who will *' say lady " instead of *' lydy." You '* — And this know the printed sort of thing indicated. simple may be in dialogue. it doesn't matter but here are men who wish some political change to be effected. the purpose of which is to convince others of the righteousness of this particular program." it may be an affair of restricting the franchise to citizens thoroughly ignorant of history. So I went through its columns patiently. it may be in story form. may be a series of arguments. And now what I want to know is this It and fallacious. even to the leaderettes. it may assume the guise of parody. and wondering what strange message was thus borne to my eyes. then. don't see the immense importance of that ? You Let us go into it. since the significance lies in the last sentence.

*' fine literature is it What . to judge exactly in the case of any particular book whether it is literature : rather verbal than real may say that the question is that " literature " is a general term conveniently applied to anything in print. clothed in words. and the question will be. or partly grammatical. or to lie in the pamphet drawer ? Where is Pope's place ? Is he to be set in the class of Keats ? If not. but for the avoidance of verbal con- fusion I suggest that when we mean literature in its highest sense we shall say (for the present at all events).HIEROGLYPHICS we have a vast body of thought. by what rule are we to divide the true from the false. our means of distinguishing between the two extremes I have mentioned and all the innumerable links between them ? Is the whole mass literature in the true sense of the word? If not. sentences arranged in a more or less logical order? Why is the Odyssey to come in. why : is the " literature " of our evening paper to be kept out ? And again. or not? Of course you political pamphlet and the Odyssey. and that in practice everybody knows the difference between a . then that differentiates fine literature from a number of : " grammatical. for 16 . to put the question in a more subtle form To which class do the works of Jane Austen belong ? Is Pride and Prejudice to stand on the Odyssey shelf. and all this here — — mass is known as literature what is to be our criterion. with what instrument. ranging from the agreeable leaflets that we have been speaking of up to let us say the Odyssey. I very much doubt whether people do understand precisely the distinction between the two.

and I like it none the less because the word of the for If enigma seems to me actually but a single word. be absent. we have a is product (possibly a very interesting one) which fine literature. or written. I think. I have my solution. and sub-classes of infinite analysis. as it were. dexterity the workmanship and observation and you may show me. of Hawthorne ? and. Yes. me the answer comes with the one word. 17 B . then I say there is fine literature.HIEROGLYPHICS of is the rank of Dickens. but of philosophy. in spite of all the cleverness. giving to each one his proper rank and station ? ? what reason What I am glad it strikes you as a big question : to me it seems the question. or we begin to discuss the my was the word. I said to contradict myself. all the all if it talents. and in a manner . ecstasy be present. but of life. as you may have guessed. while the question I have propounded is the question of first principles it marks the parting of two ways. ecstasy. the question which covers the final dogma of literary criticism. how are we to sort out. Ecstasy. What is the line. then . itself not only of literature. But this will be detail. in a word. of Thackeray. to amplify myself before answer matter fully. then. not Of course you will allow me rather. George Eliot. Of course after we have answered this prerogative riddle there will be other questions. then. this huge multitude of names. classes. but of religion. almost without end. it asks or printed thought into two great genera ? Well. the mark of division which is to separate spoken.

HIEROGLYPHICS
I
still

say so,

but I

may remark

that I have chosen this
Substitute,
if

word

as the representative of

many.

you

beauty, adoration, wonder, awe, mystery, sense of the unknown, desire for the unknown. All and each will convey what I mean; for some particular case
like, rapture,

may be may be more appropriate than another, but in every case there will be that withdrawal from the common life and the common consciousness which justifies

one term

my
ing.

choice of

"

ecstasy

"

as the best

symbol

of

my

mean-

I claim, then, that here

we have

the touchstone

which

will infallibly separate the higher from the lower in literature, which will range the innumerable multitude of books in two great divisions, which can be

with equal justice to a Greek drama, an eighteenth-century novelist, and a modem poet, to an I epic in twelve books, and to a lyric in twelve lines.
applied
will

convince you of
:

my

belief in

my own

nostrum by a

bold experiment here is Pickwick and here is Vanity " comic " Fair; the one regarded as a popular book, the other as a serious masterpiece, showing vast insight into

human

character; and applying my test, I set Fickwick beside the Odyssey, and Vanity Fair on top of the
I will

political

pamphlet. not argue the matter at the moment; I would

merely caution you against supposing that I imply any equality of merit in the books that I have thus sum" bracketed." You mustn't suppose that I think marily
Dickens's book as good as Homer's, or that I have any doubts as to the vast superiority of Vanity Fair over all
18

HIEROGLYPHICS
the pamphlets in the world. " Here is a temple, here is a tub," we may suppose a child to say, learning from a
picture alphabet; but the temple may be a miserably designed structure, in ruinous condition, and the tub is, perhaps, a miracle of excellent workmanship. But one means worship and the other means washing, £ind that
is the distinction. Or, to take a better example; the bottom boy in the sixth form may be a miserable dunce compared with the top boy in the fifth; still, the dunce is in the sixth form, and the genius is in the fifth. Or, to take a third instance (I want you to understand what I'm driving at), the fact than an English orator is fluent, brilliant, profound, convincing, while a Greek orator is

stuttering, stupid, shallow, illogical, does not hinder that

the former, though he may speak ever so well, still speaks English, while the latter, however badly he may speak,

speaks in Greek for all that. Analogies, as you know, are never perfect, and must not be pressed too far; they

me though you may
solvent,

suggest rather than prove ; but I hope you understand not agree with me.

But before we argue the merits of my own literary we might very well see what we can do with
I dare say

other tests.

you can suggest a good many.
and not printed,
it is

We won't go

into the question of printed

written or not written, because

obvious that the

visible symbols by which literature is recorded have nothing to do with literature itself. In the beginning all literature was a matter of improvisation or recitation and

memory, and

hieroglyphics, writing, printing are

mere
19

HIEROGLYPHICS
conveniences.

Indeed, the point is only worth mentioning because there are, I believe, simple souls who think that the invention of printing has some sort of mysterious connection with the birth of literature, and that the
abolition of the paper
I

duty was

its

coming of

don't think

we need

trouble ourselves

age. But much about a

view of literary art which regards the cheap press as its father and the school-board as its nursing mother. Many
people think, on the other hand, that literature is to be estimated by its effect on the emotions, by the shock which its gives to the system. You may say that a book

which interests you so intensely that you cannot put it down, that affects you so acutely that you weep, that amuses you so immensely that you roar with laughter, must be very good. I don't object to '* very good," but from my point of view, " very good " and " fine literature " are two different things. You see I believe that the difference between interesting, exciting, tear-^compelling, laughter-moving reading-matter and fine art is not specific but generic who would blaspheme against good bitter beer, who would say that because it is good,
:

it is

therefore

burgundy

?

I

am

not quite sure that I

am

not muddling up two

I mean I am in things which are in reality distinct. doubt whether the faculty of making the reader cry ought

not to be distinguished from the faculty of interesting him intensely. On the whole I think that it would be
well

to

"
2G

interesting

draw a line between the two, " is somewhat ambiguous.

especially

as

but artifice and art are very different things. virtually. increased quantity means no doubt an increased artifice. We 21 . I think. she will either faint away or burst into an agony of tears . and if you admit that four words which produce an . then it follows that four hundred or four hundred thousand words woven An together on the same principle are in no better position. and inside it the " Well. Suppose that a few yards from this room in the next house. a long succession of such telegrams can rise higher than its origin and source ? You must see. but Is it is the teleIt isn't gram Is it art } even artifice ? art because it is true ! But if I invented such a telegram and sent it to a woman whose husband and son were away." reddish — than death. brown envelope. then. to maintain that the power of exciting the emotions to a high degree is not a mark of fine literature ? But just think it over. she may even die of the shock. emotional result are not necessarily art. and you can't have a more striking emotional rcault A ring comes at the bell. in the next street a woman is waiting for the — — return of her husband and son.HIEROGLYPHICS And you think it a paradox. can you? fine art ? Very well. that the question of truth and falsity can make no real difference to our (no doubt pompous) high aesthetic standpoint. there's a : message you can imagine the effect that these four words will have on the woman's emotions . would it thereby become art ? You must see perfectly well that it would be nothing of the kind and I must ask you to explain how a book which is. Railway accident father killed.

and the gentleman is Mr. " or " '* absorbing *' " seems such an said. say. Well. suppose that my really then My landlady. We must — Landlady printed omit " interesting " in our account of the possible criteria of fine art. by the CEdipus it may denote the wide- eyed attention of the butcher's wife listening to the story of my landlady as to the love-affairs of the grocer's daughter and there are many books which are. relating their lyric to the butcher's wife. I have never read The Sorrows if agree then that Werther. because it may mean on the one hand the possession of the highest artistic value. You know there are books which the French have kindly named romans a clef . should. Tibb. virtually. to whose amours I alluded just now. the word as it were cancels itself out. and I suppose there is no more miserable form of book-making.HIEROGLYPHICS may may of artistic it is impossible to measure the merit of a book by the emotional shock that it give to its readers. —but little paradoxical you —not to gets to the question of the As I ous word. but you have read it and it has made you sorrowful you are hereby warned against deducing from this effect any conclusion as to its aesthetic value. or on the other it may serve as epithet for a book which gratifies the lowest curiosity. The grocer's daughter. grows more when one " produced. *' " Tales of and bound. interesting ambiguIt may stand for that aesthetic emotion interesting . is really named Miss Buggins. 22 . though difficult I see are still inclined to think say sophistical book. The recipe is easy enough. I confess all this seems it AB me C a to me.

and perhaps you will understand the class I mean when I say that a novel of this description is hard to lay down. it may become a handmaid to lead one towards that desire of the unknown 23 . to experience the joy of an the books I mean sometimes show fails I that artifice. in criticising the Heptameron. and in itself.HIEROGLYPHICS with a knowing wink. Ribb she would simply be composing a roman a clef without knowing it. and one never Still. stated that its chief value lay in the fact that one could identify the persons who tell the stories and those also of whom they were told ! But there is another interest of a much higher kind. perhaps. and harder stUl to take up again when you have once found out the secret. You might say that — hardly worth while to labour the point. This is not high art. and the secret of Lycidas is always secret. an earnest desire to know is not. profess to tell the story of Miss Ruggins and Mr. the power of exciting a vivid what is to come next. you are always at liberty to put down Lycidas. curiosity. I imagine that this trick of stimulating the curiosity may be made subservient to purely aesthetic ends. like the vulgar rovian a clef curiosity. that such " as this is wholly and lamentably inartistic that it is the very contrary to all true art but it is not it is *' interest — — long since a person of some literary note. the quality talking about. Indeed. in actual very high am discord from the purpose of art. We have done some excellent books of this sort in England. and that is the sensational. but then you are compelled to take it up a again and again. artistic surprise.

that monument of ingenuity and absurdity. I should case in my be pressed hard if I were asked to make terms and syllogisms. Still. Logically. I It . to and to But I am inclined. You may much by : doubt. but if you require me of to do Dupin — and so.HIEROGLYPHICS which I think was one of the synonyms I gave you for the master word Ecstasy. place him almost in the sphere of pure literature. discover so it will not. Listen to — : was a freak of fancy in my friend (for what else shall I call it ?) to be enamoured of the Night for her own sake and into this bizarrerie. but we could counterfeit her At the dawn of the morning we closed 24 . perhaps. though the trick is a — reading The Moonstone. giving myself up to his wild whims with a The sable divinity would not herself perfect abandon. dwell with presence. and so vary infinitely ingenious to infinitely far as I remember. no good one. make an exception in favour of Poe's Dupin. as into all his others. by itself. us always first . the famous French towards the lower rather than tales of detection verge the higher ground. but I almost think that in his case the detective is a symbol of the mystagogue. make fine art. I would say first of all that the atmosphere you must remember that in literature everything counts. he is a detective. On the face of it all detective stories come under this heading formally. not very logically. they must all be reckoned as tricks. and they the may from the imbecile. " quietly fell. As out I say. it is not alone the plot or the style that we have to consider has to me hints of that this presence which I have called ecstasy.

HIEROGLYPHICS
all

the massive shutters of our old building, lighting a

couple of tapers which, strongly perfumed, threw out only the ghastliest and feeblest of rays. By the aid of
these

we then buried our

souls in

dreams

— reading, writ-

ing, or conversing, until warned by the clock of the advent of the true Darkness. Then we sallied forth into

the streets, arm in arm, continuing the topics of the day, or roaming far and wide until a late hour, seeking, amid the wild lights and shadows of the populous city,
that infinity of mental excitement which quiet observation can afford."

And

again

;

in the stories themselves, in the

conduct of

detective processes, I find a faint suggestion of the under-consciousness or other-consciousness of man,

M. Dupin's

a mere hint, not, I think, expressed in so many words, rather latent than patent, that if you would thoroughly understand the rational man you must have sounded the
irrational

beside each one of us

man, the mysterious companion that walks on the earthly journey. Of course

the artifice in the Dupin stories is of the very highest kind, but for the reasons I have given I am inclined to think that there is more than artifice, and the shadow,
at
all

events, of art

itself.

But

this exceptional case of Poe's detective tales

leads us back to the

main proposition

—that

only

the

power

of exciting a very high sensational interest does not, in I think itself, mark out a book as being fine literature.
I

stone,

proved the proposition by my instance of The Mmmbut if that does not convince you, we might 25

HIEROGLYPHICS
demonstrate this theorem in the same way as we demonstrated the other one about the " literature " that produces its effect on the emotions. We have only to send out a series of telegrams, or we may even glance at the
newspaper, and follow a case in the Central Criminal
Court.
offers

Or we may

affirm,

more

generally, that

life

often

highly absorbing and highly interesting spectacles, but that life is not art, and therefore, that literature which fails to rise above the level of life, or

many

fine literature in

rather, to penetrate beneath the surface of life, is not our sense of that term. A gold nugget may be as pure and fine as you like, but it is not a
;

sovereign

it

lacks the

stamp

;

and

it is

the business of

art to give its stamp and imprint to the matter of life. I really think then that we have disposed of perhaps

the most generally received of artistic fallacies

—that

books are to be judged by their power of reproducing in
the reader those feelings of grief, interest, curiosity, and
so forth which he experiences or

may

experience in his

which he really does experience in greater or less degree every time he talks to a friend, takes up a newspaper, or receives a telegram. It comes to this again and again, doesn't it? that Art and Life are two
everyday
life,

different spheres,

and that the Artist with a capital

A

is

not a clever photographer who understands selection in a greater or less degree. But before we go on with our work and see what can

" I want to make *' solvents be done with other literary a digression. I should have made it before, if you had

2Q

HIEROGLYPHICS
pulled
fruitful

me up
'*

spoke of

interest

at the proper cue, " as a highly

and that was when I ambiguous term, the

parent of "undistributed middles."

You

see

how

the unscrupulous sophist would bend this word to his dark work, don't you? It would be, I suppose, something like this
:

A very high degree of interest [of the artistic kind] the mark of fine literature.
But The Moonstone
[of the sensational kind].

is

excites a very high degree of interest

Therefore, The Moonstone has the
'*

mark

of fine literature.

You note the paltering " with the word, its use now in one sense, and now in another; and if that sort of
thing were allowed we should have Wilkie Collins placed among the Immortals before we knew where we were.

But hasn't it occurred to you that nearly all the terms we are using are patient of the same vile uses ? You remember that we began with " literature " itself, as a
monstrous example of ambiguity, sheltering as it did both the publications of the Anti-Everything Society and the Song of Ulysses' Wandering even now we are trying
;

to track the monster to his den in spite of his manifold turnings and disguises. In the meanwhile, for the sake of clearness,

the word

we agreed to prefix the epithet *' fine " to when we meant the Odyssey class, though if we say " fine " so often I am afraid we run the risk of being thought superfine. However, one must run all
risks in the

cause of making oneself understood; and so 27

through the influence of forces occult. ." " My art " may not be the same as your '* art. In the case of the bees and wasps there art in is make a slightly different nuance of meaning. but we do not all know the physiology of the stomach and the gastric juices. gathering its materials and shaping them. has at the moment nothing but a blind impulse. similar nest. and perhaps not one of us knows the whole to that of hunger.HIEROGLYPHICS I say you ought to have pulled me up when I talked about "art. instances the word really speaks of the adaptation of means to ends. that wasps have an art of making a sort of paper for their nests." and my " was another hint to you an art of logic." and '* emotions " are still more dangerous in the same way. We simply eat because 23 ." and "books that appealed to the emotions. I think I I made some attempt I contrasted it was " Artist with a phrase big A that the word must be handled cautiously. that there is talking. an art of cookery. You know that in ordinary conversation we say that bees have *' the " or " an art " of art making hexagonal cells of wax. secret of inanition and nutrition. an Now in each of these making a gravel path. " art " as to deal with with " artifice. We all know when we are himgry and we all know what to do in such a case. because they their cells and their paper just as a bird builds its which to us are which we conveniently sum up under the word instinct. In the arts of cookery and path-making there is a conscious employment of certain means towards the securing of certain ends and it is at least possible that the swallow.

" manner in which Fernando and the heroine are brought " these. When. in no way differing in degree from — the contrivances of the of the man who makes the garden path.HIEROGLYPHICS to eat. not because we wish to supply ourselves with a certain quantity of peptones . of the bee who administers the royal food. little birds that are to need not remind you that there are plenty of well-authenticated instances of animals who have con" art " in sciously used means to secure ends. without the con- we want sciousness of the eggs and the follow. cook who " dusts in " just a suspicion of lemon" rind. significance is not even an exclusively human for example. and so perhaps the swallow gathers her nest and shapes it. Now. the very adaptawe have been discussing. The art with which the mystery is carefully kept in the " the art by which the two characters are background." This 29 ." '* the highly artistic contrasted throughout the volume. '* great say you have often heard a book praised for its will have discovered it art. the bees find themselves in danger of being left queenless. let us apply all this to our matter. are together on the last page contrivances. and that which would have been a worker becomes a queen and " artists " as the cook in this case the bees are as much ." £ind if you have read you that *' its " art " is tion of means to ends that simply contrivance. and thus I its But common faculty. they administer what has been called " royal food " to a common grub. who puts a particular ingredient into a dish with the I dare view of obtaining a particular flavour. you see clearly. artifices. then.

And now as to " emotion. rather vaguely. by pointing out that Poe seemed " other-consciousness " of to hint at the man." I shall always say " artifice. I you understood . saw that what I wanted to say was this that fine literature does not content itself with repeating. you ought to have been down on me. personal. and to suggest. I tried to realise the image of a man. But to what then does is not a test of "What Homer appeal ? the CEdipus but an appeal to the emotions ? What is all exquisite lyric poetry but the cry of the " I emotions. or mimicking. And do you know that I believe that the best approach we can make to a rather subtle question will be a somewhat indirect one? Just now I was talking about Poe's Dupin stories. with the epithet ** fine " or *' high " before it. Still. or half-known Companion who walks beside each one of us all our days. to justify my tentative inclusion of them in the higher class of letters. my real meaning by the instance : gave you the anguish of a wife at the loss of a husband . the emotions of private. at least. I should have gone into the matter more fully then.HIEROGLYPHICS a totally different thing from our Art with the capital letter. unknown. 80 . as a matter is of fact. and in future when I mean " adaptation of art is *' (( " then means to ends. I think. and I tried. the presence of that shadowy. and as I did not do so we had better see what can be done now. set to music ? suppose that." while " will be retained and set art apart for higher uses." Here. You might have said " You : declare that the appeal to the emotions fine literature. everyday life.

like this : . Already you must have a hint of it. by a spiritual fellow.HIEROGLYPHICS followed or rather attended. something Fine Literature. treading a path parallel with but different from his own . One might draw a figure. and now I want you to carry out this image into the sphere of words.

no doubt. what I mean by saying that the power to emotion. the madness of Lear. to extend these parallel columns I think the list is almost to but pose. but perhaps I may say that he who tastes calix mens inehrians " inebriated " condition. Thus it when we mean the be with emotion that we witness the fall of CEdipus. or somebody not evidence in cry. tell me that a book else.HIEROGLYPHICS " Drama " acted the dissolute of the Rue Coehon. Literature. It would be will not be in an possible infinity . your tears are. So never to the feelings right you must never emphatically. while we feel for our friends and ourselves in misfortune. must always be to the emotion of the left-hand " " on the hand. of personal and private relationship. That seems to make it plain will enough. who know the Elizabethans and the Cavaliers . The two vary" " need not be underlined for ing uses of the word lyric barmaid who you. that it will be convenient to speak of feelings things of life. of producing an emotional shock cajinot be a test of fine literature. clearly. the court of Fine 32 . and Trench On Words is But you see my right-hand column word parallel with " Emotion "? You see I have written *' Feelings. it and sometimes. is fine art because made you." and I suggest long enough for our pura well-known handbook. of society. Art must appeal but it column. while we may reserve emotion for the influence produced in man by fine art. and it was a *' " from eloped dramatically Peckham in the dog-cart of her employer. doesn't it ? You see now. with a shock.

and I believe we shall understand them and the position which they represent better if we take them. : " because it will do good. I don't think we want to extend that list of parallels. then. artifice] in the design and ' laying out ' of the plot. but such critics are to be spelt with a very small initial letter. No doubt many persons calling themselves critics have praised the art of a book because it has drawn tears from eyes. and proceed to the more technical solvents that are proposed by professed men raise one's opinion of the clergy. that many : persons whose opinion one would respect would state their position in literary criticism a book [they would say] shows keenness of observation. at all events. or because it contains easily recognisable portraits of well-known people.HIEROGLYPHICS I dare say it may have struck you that the tests we have considered hitherto have been." ** another test that I had forgotten I suppose there really are people who believe that a book is fine There is popular " tests as of letters. in the contrivance of incident is confessedly Q 33 . in the main. I can conceive. and. though I once knew a liberally educated man who said a certain book was fine because it tended '* to So we will reckon our done with. Three of these more literary criteria occur to me at the moment. as I said." but I don't think we'll argue with them. at first. popular tests. in a mass. or because it has not suffered itself to be put down. with fidelity as follows If —" somewhat to life as the result of these capacities. if its art [we should say. insight into character.

the selection being taken for granted. to Don Quixote. no one out of an asylum would maintain that a book of life. in short. but is it worth surely hardly necessary to demonstrate the fact that the author of the Morte d* Arthur had never seen It is We may " " test gone more sharply to work with this fidelity 34 the Graal. of Fielding ? Is there anything in our experience answering to the episodes of the Lotus-Eaters. in any " faithful " to life as we accepted sense of the phrase. the Is the Cyclops' Cavern. that such a character as Don Quixote never existed in the natural order of things. of George Eliot. let us apply the test in question to one or two of the acknowledged excellences to the Odyssey. Fine art. clear- ness of reflection. now.HIEROGLYPHICS admirable." that is to say. of course. and finally if it is written in a good style : then you have fine literature. and the artist's skill consists in arranging and selecting such parts of life as he thinks best for his purpose of reflection." Well. as to the as first point : fidelity to life. or even the millionth part of one particular man's life. of Thackeray. . with the fidelity of Jane Austen. We might have . the descent of the Goddess ? " reflection experience belly of a giants ? even a reflection of Homer's own Had he escaped from the cave under the ram ? Had he been in the world of one-eyed ? " Were ? his friends in the habit of talking in hexa- meter verse while ? go on. is a clear mirror. Is the story of Ulysses. Come. to the Morte d' must mirror the whole — Arthur. Calypso's Isle. know it? Is it *' faithful. for instance.

" it is daily lives. then . if I were commentating and not arguing. therefore the test breaks down at once. beyond also exalted above our understanding. I mean that for those who posses the secret it skills not to bring in the Cyclops (who for us is not a giant but a eternal books recipe. I should handle the great masterpieces in a much more reverent manner. with this criterion of admit the charge. I think we may say. faithful to life as and (admittedly also) being unwe know it both in matter and manner. If fine literature is must be literature faithful to life. Kubla Khan not fine which. — — the only thing to be done is to throw Odyssey and (Edipus. recognising that by the very reason of its transcendent beauty. admittedly. fine literature at its finest. by the very fact that it trespasses far beyond the world of our . who somewhat " remember that I am understand nothing but materialism. symbol) we have only to bow down before the great music of such a poem as the Odyssey. people tell you in so many words that the And when it is these the author's business clearly and intelligently to present the life common. but you must dealing with very bad people. Morte d'Arthur. believe me. in a materialistic I fidelity to life. and to demonstrate that these were not constructed on the proposed Of course if I were treating with the initiated. and selection reflection. I dare say you think I have dealt rather crudely. and Don Quixote straight in their faces.HIEROGLYPHICS we might have said that poetry being. Kubla Khan. social life around him then. that because its 35 " " *' ." spirit. is highly absurd.

all this would be too subtle for the enemy. then since the works of Sophocles are . it follows that some fine literature does not I reflect is nature ordinary life. but let But as I was saying. and think that Jane Austen touched the point of literary supremacy. You look as if you thought I were fight- me tell you that great people have praised Homer because he depicted truthfully the men and manners of his time. and we know that the transcendence of it is dent. For ourselves we do not need large beyond to prove its life by this or that extraordinary incithe whole spirit and essence and sound and colour of the song that affect us . : : . as those use them who would say that Vanity Fair is a faithful presentation of this. Odyssey surpassed the bounds of its own age and its own land just as much as it surpasses those of our time and own country. fine literature. and therefore that fidelity to not the differentia of the highest art. ing with the vanquished. I ought to caution you again against the ambiguity of language ? We are dealing easily enough with such words as ** life " and *' nature. therefore its beauty is criticism. life. we must be rough we must ask Did Sophocles describe the ordinary life of Athens in his day ? No very well. as I said. for the people who maintain that fine literature is a faithful reflection of life." and from wonder whether what you know of my system you may perhaps have seen that I have been using these words as the people use them. understand 36 but I may just I thought you would mention in passing that . With them.HIEROGLYPHICS beauty is supreme.

essential forms . everyday popular significance. the next test we have to analyse that of artifice. 87 . it consists in the rejection of that which is unfit for the particular puipose in view. But I think we have already demolished In dis- tinguishing between art and artifice I pointed out that the latter merely signifies the adaptation of means to an end. and has no relation whatever with art properly so called man life . used in their common. and the literary standpoint that we have been attacking that of Pope and not that of Wordsworth. and in the acceptance and use of that which is fit for the desired end and likely to bring tion. example) the truth of the scientist . it about. It concerns not creation but execu- and it is I need hardly say as indispensable to the is author as are his pen and ink." "life. this criterion. that the artist continually mirrors nature in its eternal. turn out by and by that in the occult sense " fidelity to " is the differentia of fine literature that the aim of life also words have like "nature. is it not? that these words have been art is truth . is is often and improperly called art." and "truth" or "fidelity" their esoteric values. The Dunciad is a study of man.HIEROGLYPHICS that (by way of and the truth of the So it may philosopher are two very different things. and (I might almost say) as httle concerned as these with the essence of his art. and Wordsworth's Ode on Intimations of Immortality is a study of man. but for the present moment it is understood. it is simply the mental instrument with which performs every task and every work of his daily . If I remember.

What is a good " " style ? If you mean by a good style one that delivers the author's meaning in the clearest possible manner. as I said. a clever choice of incident. I its — '* " in this sense is or should be point out that style the amongst accomplishments of every commercial clerk indeed. that the necessary artifice has been interpenetrated with art. if it be designed solely with the view of imparting knowledge the knowledge of what the author intends then I must — — and plain writing and in this sense it is evidently not one of the marks of art.HIEROGLYPHICS Of course in works of the very highest genius we may declare that. The faculty may. but a peculiar kind of aesthetic delight. and it is clear enough I think (perhaps I may mention Wilkie Collins once more) that in itself it cannot establish the claim of any book to be fine in literature. if . In such cases artifice so that it has been lifted up and exalted into the heaven of art. and remains artifice no longer . the knack of putting in and leaving out. it will be merely a synonym for plain speaking purpose and effect are obviously utilitarian. the other hand style is — to mean such a use and choice of 88 . art has become all in all. And lastly we have to deal with style and here again must have recourse to my distinctions. but in the view that we are considering it is merely the adaptation of means to an end. since the object of art is not informaBut if on tion. in a sense. but every newspaper reporter must have more or less of it. be glorified and transfigured by genius. we can hardly distinguish in our minds between the idea and the realisation of it.

that we have considered one by one the alternative tests of fine literature which have been or may be proposed. word and I have only said so much because it was necessary draw the line between language as a means of imparting facts (good style in the sense of our opponents) and language as an aesthetic instrument.HIEROGLYPHICS words and phrases and cadences that the ear and the soul though the ear receive an impression of subtle but most beautiful music. it is the out- But we must sign of the burning grace within. It seems to me. for of some other the consideration systematic style keep night. longer permissible. then I say that while idea is the soul. style is the glorified body of the very highest literary art." these reasons to pieces one by one. and we have come to the It is no conclusion that each and all are impossible. I imagine. so natural and faithful to life. it's not a subject to be dealt with by the way. in short. for you or for me to say " This book is fine literature because it makes me cry. : a bill because it was because it is so interesting that I couldn't put it down. because it is have picked so well (plainly and neatly) written. is the last perfection of the very best in literature. Style. or to it is rather a beautiful style in our sense. which is a good. if the sense and sound and colour of the words affect us with an almost inexplicable delight. In the latter sense the form of fine literature. in the former sense it is the medium of of all else that is expressed in words. then. and the result is that we are driven back on my " word of the enigma " We — 89 . from exchange upwards.

the infallible instrument. green . as I think. by which fine literature may be discerned from reading-matter. which art may be known from intelligent expression. 40 . by artifice. I believe we began to-night with the evening paper. and you remember what stress Coleridge laid on the necessity of forming some hypothesis before entering on any investigation. through a cloud of laborious nonsense about odds and winners and tips and all such foolery. into that ancient eternal desire of man for the unknown. was one of the synonyms that I offered you for ecstasy and so in a sense I expect that we shall have the evening paper close beside us all the way of our long voyage in quest of the lost Atlantis.HIEROGLYPHICS Ecstasy. and the strange glimpse it gives us. through a pinkyveil. And that. and style from At any rate we have got our hypothesis. you remember.

but you surely do not expect to work out the arguments in detail ? Of course if I down were giving a series of lectures I should *' set a paper " after each one . a horrible thing to have such a good memory now that you remind me. with the skeleton map. that I did lay of my me Pickxiick v. as it were. is that he all showman with a the while nothing but a photographer. Vanity Fair as a sort of test case theory of literature . a *' showman with is that ing.II I THINK as that. But where will you find is Ecstasy in Thackeray? "Where his adoration? his You 41 may search. interesting patter an artificer of very high merit. if we said about fine literature in general. " a gift of amus- quite extraordinary. if we take that special case of two eminent Victorian novels as a concrete instance of the abstract argument. I think. Besides. but I expect you to content yourself with the suggestion. certainly. a set of pictures ? consummately clever A photographer. don't you see that we are answering the particular question all the while that we you are investigating recollect all that the general proposition ? Surely. from one end of books to the . you won't have much difficulty in adjudicating on the claims of self Thackeray. Don't you see that he never withdraws himfrom the common life and the common consciousness. it is I recollect.

he understood the artifice of story-telling. the glorified body of the highest literary art. Well. and " style " in that secondary sense which we disfrom those " melodies tinguish from the real style unheard " which I called (I think rather picturesquely) floor. But these we found out. with all our admiration and all our interest. He has observation. are not. he shows you that bald old nobleman sprawling on the and the words that he uses are his brisk. the differentia of fine literature as we understand the . and he could write a terse. qualities. without finding any evidence that he realised the mystery of things . and besides that. and capable servants. willing. I am always reading him. who walks. term and consequently. and I chose his Vanity Pair because it strikes me as such a supremely clever example of its class. and artifice. he was never for a moment aware of that shadowy double. observant man of the world. separately or conjointly. we are compelled to place Thackeray in the 42 . and yet his paces are in an unknown world. I suppose there is nothing more amusing than the society of a brilliant. He contrives the corporal overthrow of the Marquis of Steyne.HIEROGLYPHICS other. hope you don't think I am abusing Thackeray. Thackeray was brilliant and observant in excelsis. And (unless you have got any fresh arguments) I think we decided last week that the book which lacks the sense of all this is not I fine literature. foot to foot with each one of us. as I said. . that strange companion of man. clean-cut English which was always sufficient for his purpose.

because he never leaves the street and the highroad to wander on the eternal hills.HIEROGLYPHICS lower form. of the in so " plain man " whom we have engaged many — with due respect to " common sense. of those queer woodblocks. many And I say that Thackeray amuses me greatly ing. and I dare say they would have a good deal to say for their choice. I find it more amusing than Pride and Prejudice. personally." and that I enjoy reading his books immensely. because he does not seem to be aware that such hills exist. a fineness of observation. have chosen other books . he is the most favourable representative of it. other I am simply saying that I prefer the company of 43 . comes out now and then in the books. Undoubtedly there is a severity." such an argument fails to prove that Vanity Fair is fine literature. as I remarked. I am " " forms. would have selected Miss Austen. a delicacy of irony in Pride and Prejudice which are unmatehed of their kind (the Thackeray of the caricatures. and digression occasionally goes beyond due bounds) but I named Vanity Fair because. really. and I chose him. but that. because. Of course I have only taken Thackeray as the representative of his class. no doubt. simply because he is clearly and decisively lacking in that one essential quality of ecstasy. Other people would. and in preferring the one over the . and of his plain " for me a book argument which comes to this great is a book that amuses me greatly and that I enjoy read- thinking. In neither of these books is there art in our high sense of the word. a self-restraint. for me.

and if we don't them. (to me) so infinitely the more entertaining You see. I may find Homer very dull reading. but very limited maiden lady. but the circles the reason why the vicar in which Pendennis moved are of the two. the cosmopolitan at the club window certainly fails a little in his manners now and then. if I may say so. I think that the it not liking as the like question of liking a book or has nothing whatever to do with the con- sideration of fine art.HIEROGLYPHICS a brilliant and witty cosmopolitan to that of a very keen and delicate. who lives in a remote country town and understands thoroughly bowed so low when a certain the rolled street. but my limited and somewhat commonplace brains. imiversal human to ecstasy. and why that pretty. Art is there. and the country gentlewoman's breeding is perfect of its kind. between observation that is close and keen and observation that distinguish 44 . and descend these lower levels that we are talking of now. and my envy of your prosperity. high up carriage prim girl crossed over the way when the handsome gentleman from the Hall came out of the chymist's. which we have agreed to call art. Yes. I may covet your ox and your ass and everything that is yours. won't alter the fact that the Odyssey is fine literature and that covetousness is wicked. But when we once leave the utterances of the eternal. We must still between plots stupid or ingenious. just Tenth Commandment is there. of course. it seems to me that the question of liking or not likmg counts for a deal. good Not : for everything. so much the worse for us.

between sentences that are neatly constructed and mere slipshod. Thackeray. One man may say that he prefers to talk to artists. as you read the newspaper. you frequent the company that suits you. as reported by Mr. 45 . more amusing than the conversation of Miss Elizabeth Bennett as is reported by Miss Jane Austen. It is not a question of art. quite legitimately. as you choose the scene of your holiday. may love Ihe society of brewers .HIEROGLYPHICS vague and inaccurate. still you will usually find that you are influenced more by your mere liking or disliking of the subjectmatter. And tion. you may think Norway perfection. Here is a speech on Bimetallism. but of taste. if you look closely into the whole question. Elizabeth's remarks are more ? skilfully reported Very likely. it seems to me that there no more to be said. you will find that you are judging these secondary books as you judge of life. For. of individual humour and constitu. but when they have been estimated and allowed is their value. turns at once to the quotation for Turpentine at Savannah. you go to the place you like. in the same way. All these things naturally reckon in the account. and (let us presume) had rather listen to the record. of the other lady's conversation. W. folds down the sheet at the Police News. between artifice and the want of it. B. granting that. but. you read the news that happens to be most interesting from your special standpoint. if I find the conversation of Miss Becky Sharp. that is. imperfect. and it seems to me quite legitimately. I if you please. another. I am going to Constantinople A. M. given at great length.

and you. ful report. in most cases.HIEROGLYPHICS with great accuracy here is a short summary of Professor L. a musician perhaps it form find difficult to would answer the question whether he would 40 . . as there is I said. to be a greengrocers. It often amuses me to hear people quarrelling about the rival " artistic merit " of books which have. you see.'s lecture on the Eleusinian Mysteries. and I suppose it is this pleasure that has secured Miss Austen her fervent admirers. That is all. I happen not to care twopence about Bimetallism. which is purely a matter of individual taste. no artistic merits at all. and B. while I pronounce the *' something singularly piquant and entertaining in the manners. while the latest football news absorbs the other. while I cut out that wretched sum- of the lecture with the purpose of pasting it in scrap-book. and habits of the class in question. speech. growling . The Stock Exchange column interests one man. I love dukes. very badly *' sub-edited.'s novel of the peerage strikes me as a marvel of artistic accomplishment." But. Each of us is talking nonsense there is no art in the question. writes a book about " who has written a great artist masterpiece. Of course. pronounce A. so I turn away from the care. A. artifice counts for something : a pleasure in seeing the thing neatly done. who find work that has charmed you to be as stupid and tiresome as the class it represents. It is a little difficult to treat this of pleasure quite fairly. since every word about the Eleusinian mary my Mysteries has a vivid interest for me.

47 . in it It seems to me that." comes under the same category as liking and disliking. I believe. not a good example. for example. that Palestrina martyred was better than Zingarelli . about which no very strict laws can be laid down. on the other nothing hand. after is all. that " how the thing this question of artifice. since Jekyll and Hyde is certainly in its conception. of done. triumphant. in any hands. even the author of Ten Thousand a Year had written her history. I mean it is largely a matter of the personal equation. though the author has portrayed them with wonderful skill. Let us take The Moonstone again as though it But that is an example. our musician might say. I am afraid I can imagine myself saying " Limited country-people. had been treated by the veriest dolt in letters." but I can hardly fancy myself affirming that Becky Sharp is such an if interesting personage that she would still delight me. are : ' so slow ' that they rather bore me. a work of fine art. though not in its execution. Becky would entertain you indifferent.HIEROGLYPHICS badly rendered or Zingarelli executed to perfection. You might say. Jekyll and On the other hand I beUeve that Hyde would still have had some the plot of fascination. then. however " facts " were provided that her preserved. that if the events related had caught our eyes in a brief newspaper paragraph they would still have interested. though the music were nothing or worse than still. In the latter case there would certainly be the charm of exquisite voices in perfect order rather hear Palestrina and accord. as seen by Jane Austen.

" Yes. will '* be really useful. because it symbolises for us certain amazing and between matter. And the great poem may be equated with the great making due allowance each is made for beauty. on the other hand. But the church and the pig-sty. really voiceless. I want a piganswering sty. : : difference fine literature and interesting readingread the Odyssey because we are supernatural. humanity so The question of deftly mimicked. another on sterling goodness of character. We it is music we read Miss Austen and Thackeray because we like to recognise the faces of our friends aptly reproduced.HIEROGLYPHICS and It reminds I don't see that I could argue the point with you. rickety as it is. but I don't want a bookcase whereas that table. our preference for one over the other is. a third on wit. for analogy. *' look how exquisitely it is made. me again of the way in which men choose . the other ecstasy in stone. their friends one lays stress on pleasant manners. here again. and argument is *' Here is a bookcase. the question of our preference for a table over a bookcase or vice versa. are not to be compared together incidentally." you may say." You see how. the one is ecstasy in words. no doubt. But if you were to say Look at Westminster Abbey. because . and the workmanship in each case is largely a matter of detail. because we are natural. a fourth on distinction of some kind." you can hardly imagine my *' Bother Westminster Abbey. the former is rainproof church : : 48 . to see the external face of beautiful things. because we hear in it the echoes of the eternal song. we come to the generic .

" I prefer the CEdipus to Pride and Prejudice " or '* I prefer the Venus of the Louvre to the wax-figures in the exhibition. so is Jane Austen to Sophocles. to . is by no means he is in the first rank of is I think golden. the safe keeping of pigs. " I prefer an abbey to a pig-sty. Thackeray (in private judgment) is the chief of those who have provided interesting reading- my matter. you see. but they may help to make my meaning clearer. In her case you would have to substitute a neat Georgian house " " and then I think for pig-sty you would have a very fair proportion." to say. has good or bad acoustic properties. to enforce the vast distinction between art and to artifice.HIEROGLYPHICS or in ill the latter repair. the line between things made symbols. and you mustn't press them. But all that I wanted to do was to draw occupy some definite place in relation to our common daily life and things made by ecstasy and for ecstasy. of his circumstances in life. Dickens literary artists. proclaiming the presence of the unknown world. the essence of the church is beauty. It would be absurd. Just contrast the 49 » . Still." and it would Of course these are only analogies. And I chose Picktvick as the antithesis to Vanity Fair deliberately. with indifferent metal. : Please don't as a pig-sty think that I wish to establish a proportion is an abbey. ecstasy . things that are for use. while may be either an aesthetic pest in the back-yard or an agreeable-looking little shed enough. of his own uncertain taste. but he very largely alloyed with baser stuff. of the sty utility. which was the product of his age. be equally absurd to say.

every little a discovery. a something new. It is a book of wandering. the other in Camden was accustomed to breathe that *' the other inhaled the worse places. fine literature in every age and in every nation ^0 you will find it in Celtic . whose bounds on every side were is more beautiful than the muddy. at once. in reality. communicate that enthralling impression of the unknown. a whole philosophy of life. intensity you will trace it all through . which is. need not remind you which of course as so much more mystery. and yet in each case the symbol both the heroic song of the old is. you start from your own doorstep and you stray into the unknown every turn of the road village is fills . . I You how is know not what may happen next. it is essentially one with the Odyssey. you through another world. the same Ionian world and the comic cockney romance of 1837 Thames. a creation.HIEROGLYPHICS atmosphere which surrounded the young Sophocles with that in which the young Dickens flourished. not that there are faults in Dickens. you with surmise. glorious all this is are journeying in the Odyssey. beautiful than Pickwick. Both were men of genius. I am not going to analyse Pickwick any more than I analysed Vanity Fair. but that there is genius of any kind. foggy as those rolling hexameters are more beautiful than Dickens's prose. that glowing Mediterranean Sea." The wonder *' Town and is. and the In varying degrees of most exquisite of emotions. but of course you see that. in its conception. but one grew up in the City of the Violet Crown. one most pellucid air " London particular.

Pickwick ?) the book is rather the suggestion of another life. and the char. remember the bizarre element. in Don Quixote. but don't you see that all element the masterpieces of the kind? remember the grotesque shapes that decorate the Arabian Nights. 51 . an overpowering impression of strangeness. a portrayal. of withdrawal from the common ways of life. and at last in our Pickwick. these eases as in Pickwick the same result is " obtained." of remoteness. are queer for the same reason that the Cyclops is queer and the dwarfs and dragons of mediaeval romance are queer.HIEROGLYPHICS voyages. Pickwick. in You talk of the this " grotesquerie is " of Pickwick. a copy. the almost Cyclops. and the rest of them are not clever reproductions of actual people (is there any more foolish pursuit than that of disputing about the " original " of Mr. and Sam. or in no valuable sense. whimsically journeying up and down the England of eighty years ago. in the Eastern Tale. those queer grotesque people. There are sentences in Pickicick that give me an almost extravagant is delight. acters. in no sense. and Jingle. Pickwick is. beneath our own or beside our own. in the mediaeval stories of the wandering knights. where a door in a dull street suddenly opens into dreamland. where Ulysses has become a retired City man. an imitation of life in the ordinary " imitation " and '* life sense of ". present Remember the wanton grotesquerie In all of many of the Arthur romances. You remember the lines about the Lotus-Eaters. We are withdrawn from the common ways of life and in that . withdrawal the beginning of ecstasy.

impressions which never become expressions. there's a wind got up that drifts it across the fields.' inquired the old lady.' " You know this is the introduction to the Tale of Gabriel " a thick legend of the north) suggested by those phrases " a wind that's white cloud. of course. on Christmas Eve. and a wind that's piercing cold.HIEROGLYPHICS Twv S' ocTTts AcoTOto (jidyoi fj. * cold night. is there ? ' *' ' * No. mother. But Dickens. But I confess that the atmosphere (which to me seems all the wild weather and the wild my is judgment wholly marvellous. '* ' * What does Jem say. The scene is the manor-farm kitchen. Rough.' replied Wardle . *' ' * and sir. does it? ' said Wardle." is in Grub." and piercing cold.' said one of the men in a low voice. an admirable legend which Dickens "farsed" with an obtrusive moral.' " Snows. ovK€T aTrayyeiXat TraAtv i"]6e\£V ov8e veea-Qat dXX avTov jSovkovTO fxer^ avSpacri Ao}TO(f>dyoLcnv X(DTOV epcTTTOiJbevoL ix^vkfx^v vocTTOV T€ XadecrOaL. the 52 . he says there's a snow-drift. Well. in a thick white cloud. no.eXn]Bia Kapirhv.' replied the man. There ain't anything the matter. do you know there is a brief dialogue in Picktvick that seems almost enchanted to me. " * How it snows. You remember that chapter about the lawyer's clerks in " ? It is the " Magpie and Stump always quite pathetic full of to me to note how Dickens felt the strangeness.

and I think you will be able to find out his laches quite well for yourself. the haunting that are like a mist about the old Inns of Court. dark Inns. and then changes the subject in despair . the vague impression has refused to be put into words . But I am afraid that if I once begin to talk about the defects and faults and throws one that of Dickens I shall run on for ever. there is ecstasy in that vague *' rotten " impression of the old. and how utterly unable he was to express his emotion to find a fit symbol for his meaning. there is ecstasy in the thought the wild Christmas Eve. : 53 . as it were. his ecstasy. He — takes refuge." hidden by the thick cloud of snow. probably. there is ecstasy in the conception of all those queer. grotesque characters. indeed. who tells two very Inns. his and. of the fields and woods " a wind that's scourged by piercing cold. insignificant legends as to the feels mystery of the Dickens in that these legends are insignificant. finally. is ecstasy in away from his familiar streets into who wanders unknown tracks and lanes and villages. the " heads " of such an analysis. There the main idea. in the thought of the man mystery. I have not proved my case up to the hilt by a thoroughgoing analysis of Pickxcick. but I think I have suggested is What I want to insist on his sense of withdrawal from common life. is pure burlesque. of the chambers that had been shut up for years and years. In a word Pickxcick is fine literature. it had stopped short of becoming thought. behind Jack Bamber.HIEROGLYPHICS mystery. reminders each one of the strangeness of of life.

obscurities. or to make a very long list a very short one of about ninety-nine per cent. like ment the of what is right. take off my cap to the man who has " gone on his way. but very far from beautiful. you will have no because need to come to me for my or of Anthony Trollope. frankly. it is a typical one. is always It may be like an ingeniously plain on the surface. and we shall not be obliged to go over the same ground again. I. However. regarded from an ordinary standpoint. except his own judgnovels. It is not a beautiful style. devised cryptogram. I am not sorry that I have been led to go into this particular case rather fully." or anything else. though it may be the veil and visible body of concealed mysteries. but is outwa. in a style which is extraordinary certainly. dubieties of all kinds are . you've got what you wanted.HIEROGLYPHICS Well.rdly as simple and straightforward as a business letter. without caring for the public. tion though it may carry suggesbeyond the bourne of thought. that having witnessed the dissection of Thackeray. Vanity Fair. some sort of my case Pickwick v. I mean." or the " reviewers. of our — — judgment of George Eliot. plain opinion is this : my that he has written about ordinary life. But in the works of the writer whom we 54 are discussing. you. modem and Yes. since a fine style. but it must be clearly understood that I'm not going to " work analysis of : out " every example. which may have an occult sense conveyed to initiated eyes in every dot and line and flourish. if you pass from to his work. you have mentioned a great name. man and come But.

But the writer we are considering not only fails in the body of art but even You have more conspicuously in the soul of it. ecstasy is entirely absent both 55 .HIEROGLYPHICS far from uncommon . f aU Style is not everything ? Certainly not . that one has to search very long for — the nominative of the sentence but when one has read the words and parsed them." courtier. is by another. often in a single word. a book may in style. though not the finest literature. and in many of his books there are The passages which hardly seem to be English at all. I mean. and. as in the case of Thackeray. one feels inclined to think that after all the passage is not in English but in some — other language with a superficial resemblance to English. and social comassorted plications perturbed the hearts of the curiously lovers. Just think for a moment was a of his story of the very earnest Jew who earnest. and that phrase or that word will always signify some primary To me the only " idea " suggested and palmary idea. you remember. words are familiar most of them the grammatical con- — — struction often offers no very considerable difficulties it is rarely. by the plot I have outlined is unimportance . the soul of fine literature. only to open Sir Walter Scott to have highly conclusive evidence on that point. thing more trivial than this ? such a book as that the idea. and yet be fine. fell in love with the baroness who was not very There false female friend. Can you conceive anyDon't you see that from summed up Great books may always be completely lacking? in a phrase. less and " finally the Jew was shot in a duel detrimental.

of the particular. he must give. In short. Think of The Scarlet Letter. there is the dim. Of course fine literature must 66 . but in reality the scene is Eternity. he must poise his feet on earth. open it again and see how admirably Hawthorne has omitted has left inessential details that He a world of a lesser man would have put in. all other of the author's books. You say that. but his way is to the stars. conditions and so forth but if he is a great author he will do this incidentally and — — make us feel that such details are incidental. but I must point out that the book is not the story of the love of a man for a woman.HIEROGLYPHICS from this and from all. it is the story of the flirtation of a baroness with a Socialist — a very different matter. and the greatest German Jew it is In a word. briefly and succinctly. and the drama is the Mystery of Love and Vengeance and Hell-fire. and an idea which is the most of all fit for the purpose and the making of the finest literature. stress laid on the minor characters. after love of a man the plot in question is a plot of the for a woman. necessary background of time and place. out a whole encyclopaedia of useless and tedious information. It is quite true that when an author writes a romance containing a hero and a heroine he must tell you who they are. it is completely the play of Hamlet with the part of Hamlet omitted. I agree with you in the latter clause of your sentence. the necessary details names. a tale of the accidental. of the inessential . ages. and that that is an idea in the highest sense of the word.

You cannot look at a Greek Apollo without looking as that part of the body which conceals the bowels." for I don't think an old-fashioned recipe that I remember was ever very successful. It was not successful. the social position of the characters and all other such details in fine literature are inessential. and I repeat that the finest literature must have its accidents it cannot exist as shining substance alone. but really one doesn't want to know. Oh. I mean Two on a Tower by Thomas Hardy. but how utterly all " " (in any sense of the word) disthought of society contrast of social ranks : 57 . could teU you whether those wild and terrible rocks were volcanic or carboniferous . as I said. with the art of painting. you must have read some of the tales I mean. they used to flourish in the old Keepsakes.HIEROGLYPHICS have its gross and carnal body. the great artist inessential. It is just the same with the art of sculpture. we must know " who's who. If make you want an instance us feel that they are of what I mean read a book which is very comparable with the German-JewBaroness tale that we were talking about. looking at a picture. but I imagine you don't want to treasure this thought or to insist on it? — And I suppose a geologist. and will. Bowels. this well-meaning school of fiction. might surmise that Fernando was domiciled on the continent of Europe. in sculpture and painting. and the hero was boldly labelled " Fernando " for all distinction and One description. but that was all. In that you have the the " two " are the lady of the manor and an educated peasant. geological formation.

but the fashion-plates are sometimes very nicely done. but for heaven's sake don't come here and tell me that on the whole you prefer Botticelli's Primavera ! Nay. it is made the abode of the Lover and the Beloved. I have no You may be amused by Summer Novelties " in the plates of the ladies' papers. and you will know the chief distinction between fine literature I confess. and they are trying to give the faces into your head —firmly and fixedly—that the camera and are some character. transmuted. Compare these two books. and passionate. of Thackeray. if you please . because of the mechanical two entirely different things. accidents are glorified and are made of the essence of The old tower standing in the midst of lonely.HIEROGLYPHICS find that the appears from those wonderful pages. Do get it the soul of man think the " photographic " comparison unfair. every stone of it is aglow with mystic light. You 58 . or Jane Austen. the lower sort. in this and other instances. red ploughlands far from the highway is at first only the convenient place where the young peasant studies but as you read you feel the change coming. but objection to make. the '* Spring and you are amused by it. the tower is dwelling far from the ways of men. as you advance and theme is really Love. Why even the the book. or even of poor. I say again. draggle-tailed " Jew-book " has not even not by any means the interest if and reading-matter. it is seen to be a symbol of Love. interest of the George Eliot. remote. To me. glorified . of an ecstasy. and eternal. and they put in backgrounds. astronomy . dreary.

but the end of each is the same. and you must understand me to speak only of the object which is common to each. but you will remark that the artists in literature have the power of creation. thing in its more or less obscure hiding-place . 59 . I suppose that it is a little misThe sun and the camera between them cerleading. its choice of the right and the wrong way. and as you urge. The means employed artifice is are different. to make a picture of the outside of things. when I compare the secondary writer to a photographer. creation is the making of a new thing.HIEROGLYPHICS element just photography. the invocation of Something from Nothing. to be sure. there is a great deal in it that is not mechanical. a composite portrait. and its exercise of judgment. you must remember that photography too has its artifice. Socialist who fell in love with the Baroness is simply a portrait of Ferdinand Lassalle. have invention in a greater or less degree. the clergyman in Pride and Prejudice is an invention Colonel Newcome is. while the Jew. jl Invention is the finding of a totally different process. and a higher and finer required for making books than for taking photographs. Don Quixote is a creation. because of that camera I have mentioned ? Well. and that end is to portray the surface of life. Still. tainly do your picture for you. It is on this ground that I defend my use of the analogy. and in its essence it is of the same class as the books I have been alluding to. The writers. in all probability. there is more of artifice in the merest Sunday-school tale than in in the best of photographs.

60 . no labour. the latter is immensely silly but the two are. emphatically. no polishing of the phrase. In each case the effort of the author '* is to describe life. Still : a photograph taken in the most famous studio in London is still a the photograph equally with the spotted and misty effort of '* " or amateur. who obtrudes her very ethics instead empty personality and her very trashy of studiously concealing them. and their results differ only as the Frenchman differs from the Englishwoman." however patient it may be. but it is a specific difference. no artifice in plot or in construction will ever make " reading-matter " into fine literature. And.HIEROGLYPHICS You must remember literature that while the two classes and reading-matter — — fine differ the one from the other generically. In the same way it is hard to measure with the imagination the difference between Madame Bovary and that famous Simday-schooi stoiy Jackie's Holiday: the former is immensely clever. no patience in investigation. of the same genus. the one being a serious and patient artificer . while the other is a bungling idiot. and no amount of touching-up *' finishing. in like manner. Thus the difference in merit between the Odyssey and Pickwick is enormous. the individuals of each class differ from each other only specifically. no care. will turn a photograph into a work of art." the aim of Flaubert is absolutely identical with the aim of Miss Flopkins.

" or in observation art and other words between expressed with I SEE that I shall be obliged to difference between fine literature artifice. I think we succeeded in demonstrating the falsity of this idea. though. " than Pride and It is that Prejudice. that monstrous fallacy of comparing Westminster Abbey with the charming old houses in Queen Square. though the Greek poem is much more " important " than the pamphlet. The general opinion. if I substituted for Pride and Prejudice some " though the Odyssey degree ordinary circulating-library novel of our least I own times. still I am afraid that. and that Pride and Prejudice is is fine literature. you fine literature.ni keep on reiterating the and *' literature. I expect. You would better see the absurdity of imagining that there can be any of comparison between two things entirely different. At hope you would see. as I told you a few weeks ago. is that both belong to the same class. in showing clearly and decisively that fine literature means the expression of the eternal human ecstasy in the 61 . *' " that I want to better get out of your head. in believe that the Odyssey is your heart of hearts. I doubt very much whether many people realise the distinction between the Odyssey and a political pamphlet.

and at the moment that solemn preconisation of the servant girls. But you surely didn't think that you were making literature all the while ? Or that the history of Mrs. so very obvious. as you say. and I am glad that you see that no process of writing or printing. Mabel to the not a '* effect that her mistress. could have changed an amusing presentation ing it is of the Stickings' menage into fine literature. no variation in the proportion of truth and invention. this : of words.HIEROGLYPHICS medium soever. Stickings and Mabel would have mysteriously become literature if you had written it down and got somebody have been little literature if some to print it ? Or that it would of the details had been a exaggerated (I thought you had embroidered here and there). and that it means nothing else Words. are used for other ends whatthan they are used in sending telegrams to stockbrokers." was more to my taste than the recitation of the Ode on a Grecian Urn. The other day you gave me a most amusfor example. it is true. and embellished. you were. or if you had made the whole story up out of your own head ? Exactly. even to the total lack of all truth. compressed. But. was lydy. Stickings. Did any cook ever think that he could change a turkey into a bird of paradise by careful 62 . amus- me by the relation of facts a little altered. why should this double office create any confusion? A tub and a tabernacle may each be made of wood. but ing account of your landlady's quarrels with her servant I remember that I laughed consumedly. but you don't mix the two things up on that account. surely. Mrs.

or pathetic tale to literature. two solutions of existence . interesting. in the last resort. and the transformation would be the work of a second There is no more madness in that notion than in the I other one —that one has only to print an amusing. Well. then readingmatter becomes fine literature. somehow or is. if the characters are extremely life-like. let the artifice be sufficiently artificial and it will be art. changed into a bird of to translate the analogy. That other. if only the sauce is an exquisite concoction. thereby made into a gold statue. you might as well maintain that a wooden statue. the turkey paradise. if only the plot is very ingenious. one is the materialistic or rationalistic. is. if the English is admirably neat and sufiicient. the 63 . Indeed. life-like. I remember saying one night that you were here that ecstasy is at once the most exquisite of emotions and is life a whole philosophy of life. but what I : am afraid is still lurking somewhere your skull is this that if only the stuffing is extremely well made. if it be really well carved. if only the construction is well carried out.HIEROGLYPHICS attention to the farse and the sauce ? The fanner might as well expect to breed early phoenixes for Leadenhall Market by the simple process of lighting a bonfire in the farmyard. speaking very generally. You know that there are. The young ducks would jump into the blaze. make it into fine Yes in . Make the bonfire high enough and your young ducks will be burned into phoenixes fast enough. And it is to the philosophy of that we are brought.

spends five years over a book. that fine literature becomes fine literature. we have at last settled the .volume novels. Miss B. — make your not ? You cutting. What's that about sus! : tained effort staircase ? Can you turn a deal ladder into a golden by making it of a thousand rungs? What I say three times is right. therefore fine literature. A. If the former were true. Good Lord You might as well say But my landlady's name is Mrs. " our minimum Stickings so that it extends to length for three. if the latter fine literature. then Keats would be a queer kind of madman. Shorthouse got the name of a school in the time of Charles John Inglesant details in is a private I quite right. and the Morte d'Arthur would be an elaborate symptom of insanis true. eh ? and if I tell the tale of Mrs. the spiritual or mystic. therefore that story of mine was fine literature. therefore it is not fine literature. that it is beauty 64 Well. while the archseological Do not man who kept say. and therefore what he writes is fine literature. choice : is think it is the story of the Graal lunacy. Mr. polishes off five novels in a year. and the girl (who left last month) was really called Mabel. then Pride and Prejudice is not and the works of George Eliot are the works of a superior insect and nothing more. Stickings." it is simply the expression of the eternal things that are in man. You must ity . Ivanhoc are all wrong. or not then do not talk any more : of turning glass into diamonds by careful polishing and : Do not say Mr. I really hope that matter.HIEROGLYPHICS other. and therefore she does not write fine literature.

it must have accident as well as essence. but a book must spirit. expecting beyond every hill to find the holy city. ocean. perhaps. peculiar to man. Essentially. I propose that we drop the " fine " and speak simply of literature. and he strains his eyes. it is. and now that we clearly understand the difference between the two. that longing. . it must have arrangement and Conartifice. Everything terrestrial pure music) that one is by no means plain sailing. finest as an example. spying about him. the prose romance in existence. and body from Literature. far from the common course of life. which makes him reach out towards sider Don Quixote infinity. and goes apart into lonely places. for Avalon that is beyond the setting of the sun. from looking glorious places. the and all his days he journeys through the world. for certain fabled. it expresses the eternal quest of the unknown. And he comes into life from the unknown world.HIEROGLYPHICS clothed in words. confronted by an almost endless task of distinguishing matter from form. happy islands. however interesting. I suppose. we say. But I assure you that. and you will never be misled into pronouncing mere readiagmatter. is ecstasy. reminded every hour E of his 65 . be written about something and about somebody it must be expressed in words. to be fine literature. that it is always ecstasy. even after having established it is is the grand distinction. and he across lifts up his eyes. that it always draws itself away. seeing signs and omens and tokens by the way. going on and ever on. Realise this. so composite (except.

It seems a mere comic incident the knight dreaming of enchantment is knocked about. one finds oneself. and so it is with this tragedy symbolised by the is. when under a figure. as it were. and made ridiculous but I tell you it is the perpetual tragedy of life itself. in a place where all lines that seemed parallel and eternally divided meet. . the strife between temporal and eternal. I suppose. symbolised. but its symbol is shown again and again . 66 . of the Idea and the Fact. the you may say. is '* moral " Don Quixote life. that you will find the truth it represents repeated again and again throughout all history. then. you get the eternal moral of the book. and you will understand that I am not using *' of The eternal moral. of the Soul and Body. Don Quixote. of Ecstasy and Common Life at last. the picture of humanity in the world. and things corporal.HIEROGLYPHICS everlasting citizenship. in the second place. you are continually confronted by the great antinomy of life. between things spiritual in the vulgar sense. : From the great deep to the " it is true of King Arthur and of great deep he goes each one of us . You know that if one goes back resolutely to the first principles of things. between the soul and the body. I say that it is. between ecstasy and the common You read the book and you see that there is a perpetual jar. and of all his forerunners and successors. of Good and Evil. Unknown and It in Cervantes's page. The source of it lies far beyond our understanding. and this. is the essence of Don Quixote. the tragedy of the Known. Then. I take it.

.of thix.

fairly be so charmed with the writer's rapture. and (always excepting the last chapters of the book) each keeps its due place. and Cervantes speaks to me But through an interpreter named Charles Jarvis. because I am sorry to say that I have no Spanish. Each of these different themes managed with consummate ability.HIEROGLYPHICS you may have seen the ugly. and the comments on affairs. so that it really rests with the reader. may to judge a book as a whole. the strife between ecstasy and the common life. And then there are other elements which must be if accounted for one I is and thoroughly. that I may forget the fact that the artist must also be the artificer. mysterious delight must dictate the burning phrases and sound in the music and melody of the words. But this very brief and imperfect analysis of a great masterpiece of literary art may give you some idea of the extraordinary complexity of all literature. common sense must help to range each circumstance in order. in this particular case. 68 . I I omitting style. five books in one. As it is have omitted one most important item in the account . that while an inward. shapeless thing that sinks into the earth. you see that we have. the institutes of cynicism. to choose which book he is to read. we have the utterance of pure ecstasy. have said nothing of the style. with the wonder and beauty of his idea. the understanding must formulate the conception. the burlesque of chivalry. in a is manner. that while ecstasy must suggest the conduct of the story. that while the soul conceives.

then. by their sound. This. Thirdly. by their mysterious suggestion. for example. in the shape of a story. having once admired 69 it : very high in the class . if literature be the language of the the Shadowy Companion.HIEROGLYPHICS cool judgment must go through every line. and here we have Construction. the higher it will be or. with Plot. is pure art . Here then we have the elements of a book. and Construction. it must yet be translated out of unknown speech into the vulgar tongue. is the fourfold work of literature. not yet clothed in words. it . in the shelf of the Odyssey as I think I once expressed it. when this emotion has taken definite form. is made incarnate. as it were. because. the story is to be written down. If then any given book can be shown to proceed from an Idea. Firstly the Idea or Conception. Secondly. but only the Idea. to be carried out to its legitimate conclusions. we may speak of the Plot. reminding the author that. which can be roughly jotted down on paper. its have of rapture in may be placed very low. to be drawn to scale. but a pure emotion. the plot has to be systematised. the thing of exquisite beauty which dwells in the author's soul. and Style is the invention of beautiful words which shall affect the reader by their meaning. the more every part. Fourthly. Art must inspire and shape each and all. and if you want to be perfect you must be perfect in each part. It may be placed the first. to be displayed by means of incident. it is to be placed in the class of literature. and Style there is an alloy of artifice. nor even in thought.

I can do so freely and without fear of consequences. which. through the discovery of scamped workmanship. Let us take the strange case of R. suppose we begin to apply our analysis. You will notice that I am never afraid of blaming my favourites. for example. in some ways. Well. non-existent. Now I suppose that instructed opinion (granting its existence) was about equally divided as to the class in which this most skilful and striking story was to be placed.HIEROGLYPHICS the Conception. L. the dream that came to the author from the other world. since having once applied my test. I have no doubt. of finding fault with the books which I most adore. that the Construction was clumsily carried out. and having found that Pickwick. Many. gave of literature it tive literature. and I will warrant you against it being suddenly transmuted into a tub. and nothing 70 . and we need not if is gold. that the Style is. The statue much. a very high place in the ranks of imaginawe should now say) in the ranks while many other judges set it down as an extremely clever piece of sensationalism. I am not in the least afraid that I shall be compelled to eat my words if flaws in plot and style and construction are afterwards made have will settled that apparent. Stevenson. we it fear that turn into lead. and especially his Jekyll characteristic and Hyde. is literature. Once be sure that your temple is a temple. or (as . aesthetically. we find that the graving and carv- ing is poor enough. we are forced to admit that the Story or Plot was feebly imagined. is his most and most effective book.

if one You see that the secret once disclosed all the steps which lead to the disclosure become. rather dusty. would seem to be merely sensationalism. insignificant. but this If when once remained? curiosity had been satisfied. your cryptogram perilously near to nothingness. You have never opened it again ? Exactly. simply a rather languid admiration of the ingenuity of the plot with its construction. if I may say so. since their only significance and their only existence lay in the secret. and I was astonished — to find first how it had.HIEROGLYPHICS more. and no more. be inclined to say that Jekyll and Hyde just scrapes by the skin of its teeth. while you are solving it. what speak from my own experience. and perplexed. the signs and and cyphers of it fall also into the world of nonentity. and this secret once discovered I imagine that Jekyll and Hyde retired to your shelf ^and stays there. I think both these opmions are wrong. You may be amazed. hurrying over the pages in your eagerness to find out the secret. I expect that when you read it you did so with breathless absorption. but the solution once attained. evaporated. ipso facto. combined with a slight I may feeling of impatience. and I should Well. and entranced by a cryptogram. such as one might experience were asked to solve a puzzle for the second time. is either nothing or 71 . or rather they become nothing at all. into the On the surface it shelves of literature. I have read it for a second time. At the reading one was enthralled by mere curiosity. as it were. when the secret has ceased to be a secret.

on the conception that lies. but not linked at all with the really mysterious. inclusion of Jekyll amongst works inexpressive song. a polity with many inhabiJekyll writes in his confession. very low literature. I as ingenious the construction affected is ingenious artifice. me we divine the presence is Man not truly one. then. — linked certainly with a theory of ethical change. *' my for it seems to that. of the Dr or. the really all this affects me. Throughout it is a thoroughly conscious style. produced by a drug. I mechanism and nothing more. all this takes its place. that I justify of art . and in literature all the highest things are unconsciously. perhaps. splendid and ruinous as drowned Atlantis deep beneath the waves. of a dim vast city. or at It has music. very cleverly done.HIEROGLYPHICS points. but it has least subconsciously produced. in itself. buried rather deeply. among books that are verdict solely on the Idea." alone. but truly two. and there are no phrases veils of is in it that seem It dreams. of a haunted 72 . beneath the plot. The plot. have shown how and the style is by the same plague of laboured ingenuity. compounded of the dust and of the stars. strikes me as mechanical this actual physical transformation. And I base my down. lurking behind the plot. " of an idea. Jekyll and Hyde just scrapes over the border-line and Well." tants. while psychical — say. doesn't it? towards mere sensaBut. echoes of the on the conception. and I think that I see here a trace that Stevenson had received a vision mystery of human nature. of an inspiration. as I said. no under-music. I think tionalism.

such as Keats's Belle Dame sans Mercy is almost pure soul. almost pure idea. a perfect lyric. soul manifested under the form of body. In a word. then. This. physical the actual plot is ? and if one escapes for a moment from the atmosphere of the laboratory it is only to be confronted by the most obvious vein of moral allegory. but the artificer seized hold of it at once and made it own. relation to these will occupy a considerable a certain extent. and from this latter light Jekyll and Hyde admirable all his seems almost the vivid metaphor of a clever preacher. and part of the whole. it must have incident. expressed in magic words. one might say. I believe. Don't you see how thoroughly coarsening. and art has to deal with each and both and to show their interaction and interdependence. at all events) a prose romance must put on a grosser and more material envelope than this. But (in our age. art with scarcely an alloy of artifice. the body must never be 73 . You mustn't imagine. a spirit with the luminous body of melody. omitting what he did not understand. lyrical poetry. but fleshly through the still it must always shine vestment. To corporeity. you know. that I condemn the powder business as bad in itself. was the vision that came to the artist. translating roughly from the unknown tongue. which is. materialising. The most perfect form of literature is. in the voice of music. no doubt. all material things. for (let us revert for a moment to philosophy) man is a sacrament.HIEROGLYPHICS quire where a flickering light bums before the Veil. the idea must be materialised. hardening.

better I and perhaps you may realise my theory draw out that analogy of " translation " which suggested. instead of presiding over and inspiring every further step in plot. that seems to me the vitium of Jekyll and Hyde: the conception has been badly realised. literal standpoint the plot and the construction are marvels of cleverness . I was passing if I along New Oxford Street the other day. it is simply an inward mystery. and I happened to look into a shop which displays Bibles in all languages. which as of art. astounding incident.HIEROGLYPHICS mere body but always the body of the spirit. because from the logical. All this subtle. Yes. I think. a few minutes ago. without artistic significance . open at the seventh 74 . as Poe so well observed. in construction. gave birth to : the idea. and we are only able to enjoy The Pilgrim's Progress by forgetting that the allegory exists. existing to conceal and yet to manifest the spirit. but I mean in artistic ally is we have settled the synonym ecstasy. is always a literary vice. and not an outward sign of an As for the possible allegory I have too much respect for Stevenson as an artificer to think that he would regard this element as anything but a very grave defect. and to artifice only. but immediately abandoned it to artifice. and here it seems to me that Stevenson's story breaks down. and in style. The transformation of Jekyll into Hyde is solely material as you read it. Allegory. but I may seem to you am convinced very fine-drawn and overthat it is the true account of the matter. and by badly I do not mean clumsily. and I glanced at the French version.

HIEROGLYPHICS chapter of the jeune Book of Proverbs. lower the contrast must more violent by choosing a passage from the Song of Songs or the Ecclesiastes . we know " in no depourvu de bon sens way renders that noble and austere simplicity that we reverence in the English text." young man void of understanding. Of course the analogy is not perfect." and it was some considerable time before I realised that these phrases " " a translated. well. is much vaster than the distinction between 75 . made between And '* yet ." and then. or story. But isn't the gulf astounding *' void of understanding " and " depourvu de bon sens "? Yet the meaning of the French is really the same as the meaning of the English. sens. because the magnum chaos that yawns between the unformulated idea and the formulated plot. . logically." and " as an ox goeth to the slaughter. between pure ecstasy and ecstasy plus artifice. the two phrases are exactly equivalent. and I wonder how *' Therefore with Angels and Archangels " would go into French. there as it is nothing extraordinarily poetical in either phrase stands in the Authorised Version. I should think. . perfectly well that Now. I think. that does divide the conception from the plot of Jekyll and Hyde. I saw the words " un boucherie." Now you notice that these are in every way commonplace examples. you ought to see what I to express about the gulf that may open have been trying always between the conception and the plot. I might have homme depourvu de bon " comme un boeuf a la down.

Hamlet with the part that it is Now I think strong evidence of the soundness of my literary theory that we are enabled by it to take two books so utterly dissimilar in manner and method. without the inward thing of which the fact is a symbol. We and by way of consequence. For if you will consider the matter you will see that a fact is qua fact has no existence in art at all. because deals with outward show and not with the inward spirit. You remember we were the Socialist and Baroness novel that placed it outside of literature firstly and chiefly because it was not based on ecstasy. because in its execution and was so thoroughly insignificant. a translation of an idea. you see how a book is a rendering. on an idea of any kind. and how a very fine idea may be embodied in a very mechanical plot. the fact. and secondly. of soul and body . And in just the same way we say that Jekyll and Hyde (its conception apart) is not literature inasmuch as it too has the because body of a story without the soul of a story. For this is what it is really comes to : we say that The it it Tragic Comedians the not literature because simply tells of facts without their significance. it is his business to communicate to us 76 . still.HIEROGLYPHICS is English and French. and to judge them both by the same scale. it is accidental and not essential. It not the painter's business to make us a likeness of a tree or a rock . in story and treatment. because it played of the Prince omitted. detail it talking about the other night. indeed between the two former there almost or altogether the difference of the infinite and the finite. the incident.

77 . And one can apply exactly the same reasoning to I do not know whether Stevenson's ingenious story. the sculptor to chisel likenesses of men in marble. there is. so far as art then they are nothing. If and doings. which in its turn is a copy of certain eternal and ineffable things.. a word in his language of colour and form." says the bad sculptor. and " But is concerned. and " My My characters are life-like. if you please and that he may do so he uses a tree or a rock as a symbol. let us say. are only A. can turn a or has been. It is not the business of — — human form idea. worse than nothing. their sayings of consequence in the degree that they symbolise the universal human passion. their whims and fancies. the is to him also a symbol which stands for an In the same manner it is or imaginary in possessed with an idea which he symbolises by incident. or will be a salt in existence which man into another person." says the novelist. and B. do not do tree is this." says the dull painter. probable or improbable. is an incident. with their social positions. but he must never forget that A. The result of the powder. He is possessed. his actual lovers in the tale. and it makes no difference to the critical judgment whether the incident is true or false. and " faultless. as it is described in the book.HIEROGLYPHICS an emotion an ecstasy. and B. by a story of men and women and things. by the idea of Love then literary artist to describe facts —real not the business of the — words : he is : he must write a story of lovers. that is of not the slightest consequence to the argument. my like anatomy is a tree.

you say. absolutely the only point is this : Is the incident significant or insignificant. wonder. withdrawal from the common life and I dare say I have used many other phrases in the same sense without giving you any special warning that it — was our old friend again occurred to in a new guise. is it related for its own sake. been saying about the essential element of all literature might be open to ver}'^ grave misunderstanding. adoration. with reiteration that must have tired you. this But it has of just me that with all wealth synonyms. And then we admitted a whole string of synonyms desire of the un- — known. and that that test is summed up in the word. that there is only one test by which literature may be distinguished from mere reading-matter. But it is also insignificant. I have been insisting. do you know. For example. mystery. because it has struck me that what I have true. But in the book it is insignificant. rapture. really . ecstasy. or it is posited because it is a sign. I may not have made my meaning perfectly clear.HIEROGLYPHICS point. The only a word which veils and reveals the inspiration it is ? artist's ecstasy and : The socialist fell in love it with the baroness happened so in Germany some fifty years ago. sense of the unknown. a symbol. The doctor took the powder and became another man it is probably untrue. and to the critic of art in literature the one incident stands precisely on the same footing as the other. And. I am glad I have made this comparison between Jekyll and Hyde and The Tragic Comedians. while I was laying down the law 78 .

Facts. tale of you might have put in some modem adventure. its mode of plots. to justify my praise of the old and rejection of the new. : you might have *' But I thought you interrupted me with the remark said the sense of wonder was characteristic of literature." Or again. the solution of the difficulty seems to me to be sought for in the remarks I was making just now about I said. on our premisses. is the made up of plots. have no existence at all. then you have no longer language but gibberish. incidents. And that would look rather like the collapse of our literary case. when I was belauding the Odyssey. making out. synonymous. Jekyll's powder and its effects. " facts " in art. and surely the change from Jekyll into Hyde is extremely wonderful. sentences 79 . I think. a plausible case for books which we know very well are neither literature nor anything remotely approaching it. dwelling on the voyage of Ulysses amongst strange peoples. so language of the letters of the alphabet. wouldn't it? Well. that. incidents. And we have mentioned strange Sunday-school books. but Sunday-school books usually deal with religion. always. with a certain nuance of contempt. you remember. in art.HIEROGLYPHICS about Dr. facts as facts — — Just as language artistic is made up arranged in significant words and sentences. and requested me to distinguish between the two. with our own test. and religion and adoration are almost And so one could go on with the list. or medium and if there is no idea behind the facts. simply form the artistic speech expression.

and Calypso and the Cyclops. but I may am be. I am forming gibberish. without attaching to them any letters of the alphabet. it ing. Isaacs. might be made into a ful Christmas book for boys. and not a language. that it only becomes some. turning this maxim inside out. for example. In a sense it is a of surprising Look at Mr. an exciting. without meaning. 80 . I am writing. on a closer examination. Tell the bare plot Odyssey to one of these '* and hint it that successwriters. apparently insignificant.HIEROGLYPHICS which are informed with significance. significance. And. If I heap up and arrange them in an arbitrary collocation. and incidents. as it were. That seems to me the explanation one must say again that mere incident is nothing. " wonderful " book. to be significant and symbolic in a very high degree. may turn out. we shall sometimes find that a book which seems on the surface to be " reading-matter " is really literature. thing when it is a symbol of an interior meaning. So I don't think our literary criterion is in any way invalidated by the occurrence incidents in very worthless books. some of the books that might be mentioned in this connection remind me of a man swearing he uses the holiest names. and so if I pepper my pages with extraordinary incidents. but which will have just the same relation to literature as blasphemy bears to the Liturgy. interesting book. absorb- not making literature. : Indeed." and he will produce you a book which will contain the Lotus-Eaters. but he does so in such a manner that he excites not reverence and awe but disgust and repul'* " of sion.

as purely artistic. in the meditation of eternal Do you know that I can never hear a jangling piano-organ contending with the roar of traffic without truth.HIEROGLYPHICS inasmuch as it contains incidents which are far removed from common experience but you have only to read it to discover that the author had not been visited by any inspiration of the unseen. in the colour of a picture. Some of us seek them with most hope and the fullest assurance in the sacring of the Mass. others receive tidings through the sound of music. The sorriest pirate. the most wretchedly con- cealed treasure. sometimes ia the scent of a flower. Do you remember the books that you read when you were a boy ? ago (I I can think of stories that I read long have forgotten the very names of them) that filled me with emotions that I recognised." The " other "? Ah. the tears —not of feeling but of emotion And that instance — it is grotesque me that I think I have an explanation eyes? —coming to my enough— reminds of another puzzle that has often perplexed me. poor Captain Mayne Reid at his boldest gave me then the sensations that I now search for in the . sometimes in the whirl of a London street. One may trace some acquaintance with theosophical " literature. sometimes hidden under a great lonely hill. and I dare say has perplexed you. furnish a precise definition of the indefinable ? They are sometimes in the song of a bird. that is another synonym." but not even the dimmest vision of " the other things. afterwards. but who can things . in the shining form of a statue.

" possess the artistic emotion in remarkable purity.HIEROGLYPHICS of these Odyssey or in the thought of it and I looked into some shabby old tales years afterwards. on the contrary. it by saying that the emotions defiled by the horrors of " education. and wondered how on earth I had managed to penetrate into *' faery . that essence lands forlorn " And of the that everybody recollections. and the child undoubtedly looks at the world through "magic casements. the primitive man before he was defiled. somehow or other. you say. and as you may sometimes see children uttering their conto it. in a measure. would be easy enough to solve the problem of children are of no consequence and don't count. unknown that you now find in Poe and I expect who loves literature could gather similar . that they reproduce. you. or next door so nonsense or at any rate very poor stuff suffices with of the the vision from the them to summon up depths 82 . through such miserable stucco portals. children. but then I don't think that I think. extracted. that proposition is true. ceptions in words that are nonsense. by the horrors of civilisation. especially young children before they have been Well. from Harrison Ainsworth's Lancashire Witches. The ecstasy of the but a recollection. artistically. and artists are rare simply because it is their almost impossible task to translate the emotion of the subconsciousness into the speech of consciousness). a remnant from the childish vision." But you see all this is unartist is later conscious or subconscious (to a less degree it is so in life.

" or " It kept me awake." is of such efficacy and virtue that the grossest and vilest matter is transmuted for them into pure gold." And I think that what I have already remarked about the subconscious element in literature should have answered that question about ** books with a purpose. we should be able to criticise any given book on some ground or prin" It sent me to ciple. not on the rule of thumb of sleep. Coleridge was a Bluecoat boy when he read the '* poems " of William Lisle Bowles. and I am quite sure that at some early period Poe had been enraptured by Mrs. But all this has been a digression it has come by the way in a talk about worthless and insignificant books. but it is not a case for a . and admired them to enthusiasm. and a wonderful vision appears where many of us can only see the common and insignificant. and that it excited in him an ineffable joy and ecstasy. and in the same way you would find that he read rubbish." As a matter of fact I believe that they are mostly trash.HIEROGLYPHICS Suppose we could catch a genius at the age of nine or ten and request him to utter what he felt. 83 . But I think that we should by this time have brought our testing apparatus into working order. the inward " red ecstasy. The child (and with him you may link all primitive and childlike people) approaches books and pictures just as he approaches nature itself and life . the boy soul. Radcliffe. the powder of projection. and we know how Bums founded himself on Fergusson. would speak or write rubbish. When men are young. glistering and glorious as the sun.

subconscious artist. but we have how Hyde. each book by itself. Peter . who had no analysis but the logical. an seen artist at heart. Johnson. An unimportant lament over an unimportant personage.HIEROGLYPHICS priori reasoning. WEintonly absurd with its mixture of nymphs and St. you must test Stevenson was. it is not only wretched in plan but clumsy in construction. For example . abuse. Forget your logic. and even preachers. full of acrid. was disgusted. Puritanical declamation and it . your common sense. at heart. and read again as poetry you will acknowledge the presence of an amazing masterpiece. 84) . and the artificer overcame the artist in Jekyll and in like manner there have been cases of people who were artificers. I believe. its austere ! and exquisite rapture say : thrills one so that I could almost understands the mystery and the beauty of Lycidas understands also the final and eternal secret of art He who and life and man. when pen touched paper. who were forced to succumb to the concealed. And it is also perfect beauty It is the very soul set to music . the artifice is atrocious. constructed on an affected pseudopastoral plan. first logically analyse Lycidas: you will be disgusted just as Dr.

I maintain the find justice of the last epithet in spite of circulation. since I have loved for already informed you that. in spite " literature. you know. and if a book reasons. I love a 85 cyclical " mode of discoursing. I needn't have excused myself for my constant references to Dickens's masterpiece. without drawing some illustration from that very notable. who study every day. and in spite of Pickwick You may like a book very much and read it three times a year without appreciating it. and I honestly think . if you keep one. you its may be sure that most peccant parts. and if a great book is really popular it is sure to owe its popularity to entirely wrong There are people.IV Do you know that when we last talked belles lettres the whole evening went by (or at least I think so) without my saying anything about Piekxvick? I hope you noted the omission in your diary. and curious. just as nine people out of ten will recall The Raven and The Bells if the poetry of Edgar Allan Poe is mentioned. Yes. like *' Coleridge. After all. because I it difficult to talk much about literature. because he throws so much light on the manners and customs of the ancients. and unappreciated book. Homer of our own time it is is both great and popular." of popularity.

and 86 . since nothing can be mathematical proof . We have noted that that sight seems significant may turn out to be and I think that in passing I hinted that the reverse was sometimes the case. from the artistic standpoint. and strong ale. and yet each will supplement the other. Pickwick and Of course you've noticed all his friends and associates. You may have felt quite certain that a set of men who were always drinking brandy and water. and if intricately fashioned. just as many "good people" have found it a nuisance and a blemish from the temperance or teetotal standpoint. from half a dozen standpoints. but literature is different. . you can consider it in half a dozen ways. Very good. each of which will be true and perfect in itself. Two or three weeks ago I think I tried to show you what a complex organism any given book reveals. you plexity of the whole subject. A proposition in Euclid is demonstrated and done with. and milk-punch. and the especial instance that is in my mind is the enormous capacity for strong drink exhibited by Mr. if one examines it with to a It is added a little attention. and from half a dozen judgments. many-sided and many-coloured. and variable always. it perhaps you have thought it a nuisance and a blemish which at first insignificant. and one specimen be so curiously may imagine the com- But I have a more particular reason for turning once more to The Posthumous Papers.HIEROGLYPHICS that if you want to understand something about the Mysteries or the Fine Arts (which are the expression of the mysteries) it is the only way.

the artifice may be the mean ? We there. that " one had a right to say. better here. I 87 . You know. Pickwick could keep on the coach if there were a chance of drinking his favourite beverage) do you know that there are really people who make their liking or of disliking of the characters the criterion of literature — romances. that a man whose daily life is a pilgrimage from one whiskey bar to another is. in most extremely tedious and unprofitable companion undeniable that the Pickwickians rather ties for cases. . I touched on this some time ago. But (I can no more miss an opportunity of digression than Mr. whose decorum is so unexceptionable. and I remember saying that in the case of such secondary books as Jane Austen's and Thackeray's. Yes. I dare say you have been thankful that you never knew Mr. an and it is made opportimi- brandy and water than avoided them. you feel that all this makes you like the book less." But I confess that at the time it had not dawned upon me that fine art —the there are people true literature —on who try to judge the same grounds. it was permissible enough to go where one was best amused.HIEROGLYPHICS madeira. I expect. And in an indirect manner. but the characters are much more amusing and I had rather talk to the cosmopolitan whose manners are now and then a little to seek. than to the maiden lady in the village. who of each and all constantly drank a great deal too much of these things. by personal experience. would be extremely unpleasant companions in private life. Pickwick or any of his followers.

if literature be a kind of withdrawal from the common atmosphere of life. not for themselves. believe. all these things are symbols. we shall naturally expect to find its utterance. wholly unsuitable for the drawing88 . Remember our old definition the standing apart from common life and you will see that we may almost reverse this popular method of judgment. that there are many people who more or less by asking. I believe. as we found out. that the egregious M. in which. Voltaire was dimly moved by some believe. indeed." and scenes. The perpetual hills did bow : His ways are everlasting? Evidently invitation. And I I said. For. but it is by no would one room ? " And this is well means well in literature. " Would these people be pleasant to meet? like to hear this kind of thing in one's drawingenough with secondary books. or rather another —ecstasy. as Habakkuk could never hope for a second and therefore he wrote rubbish. the — withdrawal.HIEROGLYPHICS is the case." and *' inci" " facts dents. however. used. way of putting the test. since they contain nothing but " characters. unconsciously judge literature by this measure. both in matter and manner. of art." and ". but because they are significant. that such such feeling when he wrote his famous " criticism " of the prophet Habakkuk. words of a language. and turn it into another test. What (he must have said t-o himself) would they think in the salons of a man who talked like this : — And the everlasting mountains were scattered.

in men this —that at rare intervals. a profound and lonely ecstasy. you see that if characters in it. and its " charaxiters " persons wliom imagine associating with on pleasant or comfortable terms. I should have your sense of humour had not prompted you to ask whether the drinking of too much milk-punch constituted a withdrawal from the common life. for the street and the drawSo ing-room. the education of the dramatist with the education of the it brought 89 . you read a book and can say of the " I wish I knew them. fewer. perhaps. very briefly. and comparing been sorry if with the Odyssey. But don't you remember that when we were discussing Pickwick before. Yes. It we should hardly is feel at home with there is Sir Galahad. Neither you nor I would be very happy on Ulysses's boat. and our care is for the body and for the things of the body. strong reason to literature.HIEROGLYPHICS room or the street. but as you know few of us are saints. and in Sophocles ? I think I contrasted. we are sunk for the most part of our days in the common life. I was expecting that question. in certain true that all the good lonely moments of exaltation they do feel for the time a faint stirring of the beautiful within them." there is very suspect that the book in question is not it though may well be a pleasant picture of pleasant people. and then they would adventure on the Quest of the Graal . are men of genius. I suddenly deserted Homer. we should soon become ourselves irritated with we cannot Don is Quixote. and not for the perpetual solitary hills.

in the degree that the artistic " mother of atmosphere on the banks of Fleet Ditch." was inferior to the artistic atmosphere on the banks of the Ilissus. the London of the 'twenties and 'thirties with the city of the Violet Crown. in the praise of Dionysus the chorus sang and danced about the altar. full of the highest significance. a pretty fair Well. the fate of him act 8ta XajXK porarov /SaivovTOS a/Spws alOepos with that of the other the evil and hideous who tried to find the fog. in whose honour the Greek wrote his dramas and his choral songs ? It was the god of wine who was worshipped and invoked at the Dionysiaca. the dead dogs.HIEROGLYPHICS romance writer. I expect you have gathered from all this talk the point that the brandy and water and punch I want to make business in Pickwick. The interior meaning is in each case the same. is. So you get. way through London you might have been inclined to ask. the unction : 00 . why ? But do you remember for whose festivals. Sophocles proportion as the Athens of Sophocles is to the Cockneydom of Dickens. which at first sight seems trivial and insignificant and even disgusting. and all the drama arose from the celebration of the Bacchic mysteries. so is the cult of Dionysus to the cult of cold punch and brandy and water. the artistic expression has : lamentably deteriorated. I think. Don't you notice the insistence with which the writer dwells on drinking. in fact.

and I have only to remind you of the name to remind you that as Pickivick has been " reek with said to brandy and water. the priestess of the Bottle.HIEROGLYPHICS and enthusiasm with which he describes it? We have admitted the poverty of the *' materials " with which Dickens works. the assuredly reek of wine. . heuvez. He *' " expressed himself as best he could. " and I refer you to the allocution of Bacbuc. let us Gargantua and Pantagruel. The history begins raillard : Grandgousier estoit bon aimant a boire net. In a word. By wine. celebre et entendu de toutes nations. I absolutely identify the brandy and water scenes " with the Bacchic cultus and all that it implies. with the word " Trinch ." so does Rabelais another well-known book." and I may say that if you have " " is man not got the key to these Rabelaisian riddles much of the value — 91 . and of course it would be as idle to expect him to write a choral song in honour of Dionysus as it would be to expect him to write in Greek. ends with the Oracle of the Holy Bottle. et nous signifie. This take is " a little too much for you. . made divine." it " en son temps. in the language (that is with the incidents and in the atmosphere) that he knew. but there can be no possible doubt as to his " meaning. at large. You know it well. un mot panomphee." she says." is it ? Well.

in the France of the Renaissance. and that in each instance there is an apparent glorification of drunkenness. since. psalmist. and I nise the that of you that here again I recogsame music as the dithy-rambic choruses in honour of Dionysus. you know the aroma of the vintage. a sober people by necessity. the Greek drama. the which were eventually amplified into that magnificent And if we wish to literary product. as I have reminded you. the odour of the wine-vat that fills all those marvellous and how they enigmatic pages. in a manner. he belonged. too. whose personal habit was 02 . what does Bacchic cultus have seen that under various disguises the one spirit appeared in Greece. \ \ penetrate the secret est. you feel inclined to shudder at the milk-punch. after the flesh. this And mean? then. unbeautiful dialect because he after all. that the words which I have just " how quoted might be rendered. impersonated the genius of intoxication. poor Dickens did so render them. We The Greeks. mysteries. tell same signs as in Pickwick. to the ! Camden Town its of the 'twenties. with rites and festivals and as all Southerners are. as it would seem. those strange figures. and was forced to use knew no other. You know drink. with his calix we must not forget the Hebrew meus inebrians quam prasclarus if And remember. The Tourainian. indeed. and made excessive drinking.HIEROGLYPHICS the highest value —of the book is lost to you. splendid is this cup of wine that makes me drunk " and we may say that. the giants and their followers. and in Victorian England. an elaborate religion.

for a final touch of apparent absurdity. but symbolically. the rationalist. so that to read Pantagruel is like walking through a French village in the vintage season. when concocted. And. symbols. the problem is quite insoluble." Thirdly. Let us get back to our maxim that. dedicated all his enormous book to the ! much in the manner of the good cure I once knew (" My God " he said to me. it will follow. shows us Mr. then. as words of the language of art. when the whole world. the problem and the puzzle . after the third small glass of ! same cause. Well. the incidents of Pantagruel and Pickwick are not to be taken literally. has. who loved to talk of concocting gin-punch. We are not to conclude that 93 . the materialist critic. in very brief outline. that is. you remember that the civilising influence ! Dionysus myth represents wine as a You may well think of the public-house at the comer. " 'tis a veritable debauch "). Pick- " wick " dead drunk " in a wheelbarrow.HIEROGLYPHICS restorer of that not of a drunkard but of a learned physician and ancient letters. who do not end in any the enigma will not be quite so hopeless. and ask yourself how strong drink can contribute to civilisation. But to you and me. and I may say at once that to the literalist. facts and incidents are not present for their own sake but as kind of ist. and left it. that the incidents of the Dionysus myth. Dickens. to be drunk by his guests. who probably drank very small white wine. as Zola unpleasantly and nastily expresses it. pue le raisin. on the face of it. in literature.

que de vin. divin on devient et n'y a argument tant seur. ains boire. And. priestess of the " Et Dive Bouteille. vous avez peu entendre qu'en vin est verite cachee. and taking him from the dust of the earth. and you see what Rabelais meant in the Prologue to the first book by that reference to " certain little boxes such as we see nowadays in apothecaries' shops. amis.HIEROGLYPHICS the Greeks were a race of drunkards. estre : propre de I'homme je ment. icy maintenons : les bestes je dis boire vin Notez." You see how that passage lights up the whole book. tout savoir et philosophic. Vos academiques I'afferment. est le ne dis boire simplement et absolu: bon et frais. ni art de divination moms fallace. in the eternal world of ideas. sets him in all. force. high places. I'ame de toute verite. or that Rabelais and Dickens preached habitual excess in drink as the highest virtue . comme Car pouvoir il a d'emplir vis. we are to conclude that both the ancient people and the modern writers recognised Ecstasy as the supreme gift and state of man. puissance. car aussi bien boivent que non rire. after I cannot do better than quote at length the sermon of Bacbuc. rendans I'etymologie de vin lequel ils disent en Grec OINOS. the which boxes are painted on the outside with joyous and fantastic 94 . and that they chose the Vine and the juice of the Vine as the most beautiful and significant symbol of that Power which withdraws a man from the common life and the common consciousness. Si vous avez note ce qui est en lettres loniques escrit dessus la porte du temple.

and the satire is therefore goodhumoured. and. . proceeds always from love and rapture. and all manner of precious things. civet. if not. . musk. the "literature of the " life-like " books lie all subject. certain stones of high virtue. unless you take pleasure in futility. one may say. his very 9p . and his consequent ill-humour. never from hatred and disdain. and satire of every kind qua.HIEROGLYPHICS figures . Art. but within they hold rare drugs. I would not advise you to do For so." chivalry in the Don can well be. you may feel quite assured. as balm. ambergris. In Quixote one perceives that Cervantes loved the romances he condemns. instance they take the passage from the prologue. fairly answering to the attacks on books of veiled his attacks buffoonery." and the together. and seeing the hint that something is concealed. ammonium. and a still more singular misapprehension of the motive-forces which make and shape great books. satire is eternally condemned to that Gehenna where the pamphlets. try by some complicated chain of argument to show that Rabelais on the Church under a mask of " wild Of course the attacks on the Church (the ** " and secondary comparatively unimportant element in the book." I do not know whether you have read any of our English commentators on Rabelais. Don by the friars. and anyone Quixote) are as open as any attack who finds a veil drawn between it Rabelais' dislike for the clergy and his expression of must have a very singular notion of what constitutes concealment. does his book little harm or none at all but Rabelais had been harshly treated .

are better left unsaid." like the adorn the a " that apes and owls and antiques boxes of the apothecaries . have found merely the ledge tiresome. noted there under Yes. chose the method of symbolism. There are things which. best of. some of it is said . and is He the human if not. as I have noted. fit for vulgar ears. no doubt. Rabelais perceived when he devised his symbolism and set many traps in the paths of the shallow commentator. and have cursed their bargain. who would merely profane this occult know- they had it. By consequence The Complete Works of Rabelais are obtainable in Holywell Street. and symbolism is the speech of art. You know I have not opened the door. since. in this as in other instances. "joyous and little acrid. be discerned in Pantagruel. The secret places of nature are not heedlessly to be exposed to the uninitiated. the satire in Rabelais is an accident. his hatred of the Church is quite open and unconcealed. and many. as I but essence of the book is its let us never forget that the splendid celebration of ecstasy. seeking the libidinous. and this. I have only put the key into your hands. " amusing enough.HIEROGLYPHICS violent abuse are in disaccord with the eternal melodies which *' strange symbols. 96 . It was not from dread of under the figure of the vine. strange to say. and secondly because the high truth that he prophesied was not. firstly because he was an artist. the consequences of attacking the clergy that he devised curious veils and concealments." which one has to accept and to make the may some little of it is fantastic.

and there Plato . There is in Gargantua and Pantagruel that some complexity of may thought and construction you may note. by a vey cataract of obscenity. interminable argument of the frenzy. expressed in the one case under : — the similitude of knight-errantry. outrageous words. and smiling from the rich banks of the 97 G . Pickwick's overdose of milk-punch prove. in the other by the symbol of the vine. I might. in Rabelais you have another the shape of gauloiserie. of gross. far-lifted Gothic quire. There are. the clear. how grossness is poured out in a sort of mad torrent. however. exuberant gaiety. smiling chateaux rise and those fair. analyse attempted to analyse Don Quixote. ornate. if I were " afraid with " you.HIEROGLYPHICS No. for a respond. the unspeakable. you know. in a please. one or two minor points in Rabelais that it as I be worth notice. there is the mystery of the vast. a clue to the labyrinth of mystic theology. a very passion of is thirdly. first of all. the impression one collects from the book a transfigured picture of that wonderful age there is the note of the vast. I would not be any amazement should Mr. enchanted voice of is the vision. There is only this to be mentioned that. expressing itself by outrageous tales. the great essence which is common to these masterpieces as to all literature ecstasy. if you symbolism of ecstasy — if only you will notice how the obscenity of Rabelais transcends the obscenity of common life. ultimately. The key : is in your hands. Then. I will positively say no more. Then. and with it you may open what chambers you can. : there : schools.

liking count for nothing. in literature properly so called. of lost beauty recovered. the ancient turns of speech. But now. We that when once amusing reading-matter has been put out of court. or rather to modify that axiom we . I think. but you must reverse the order. the exultation of the new learning. I have. each of which I believe firmly to be true literature Pickwick. read Pickwick. once every — three years. the new style the new. have been speaking of three great books. the old legends. We account. that is to say. much see is in Cervantes. liking and dishave understood. approaches most nearly . I want to contradict. since we are agreed that though the message was that of angels. Well.HIEROGLYPHICS Loire and the Vienne. with what absorption one reads a work of art. fession. the accent and the speech were of Camden Town 98 . once a year. matters nothing. and Pantagruel. while I read Rabelais in fragments perhaps once in six years. is satire of clergy and lawyers with as I said. he. —the that and manner of speaking Then one has the criticism of life : so to the old world answers — analogous. the question of how often. Don Here is my confession. say. and so from divers elements you how a literary masterpiece made into a whole. I am You have heard me going to make a consay more than once that in art. You might suppose that I have indi- cated the order of merit? Well. do you know. the joy of the vintage. The old tales told in farmhouse kitchens in the Chinonnais. since I firmly believe that Pantagruel will leave Dickens out of is the finest of the three. Don Quixote. I Quixote.

" and practical reason. Mind you. . for a Spanish peasant of the sixteenth century. a Colonel Newcome of his time. less tinged may sound with the personal. I confess that Cervantes pleases me much the more . But. but I think that the conception of Rabelais 99 . just as poor Mr Pickwick. to a certain degree. I find greater deftness. who I think expressed his conception the more is perfectly. but don't you see that the very grotesquerie of Rabelais shows a further remove from the daily round. kindly creature blatant. two. paradoxical to say so. the cosmopolitanism of Thackeray he is. material interest than Don Quixote. a finer artifice in Cervantes. naturally. And hence I conclude that Pantagruel It is the finer book. the vulgarity of Dickens is absent. I am charmed with the good-humoured and observant companionship of Cervantes. or rather it is concentrated in Sane ho in a much milder form than that of Pickwick. to the common passages in which and hence he. but he has seen the world more sagaciously than Colonel Newcome ever could. with all his " common sense.HIEROGLYPHICS life. with his extravagance. a purer metal. So while Rabelais appals me pretentious. of the other to the common we live. has something of the urbanity. his torrents of obscene words. who lacks. But Cervantes. " commonness " of as I say. pleases us the most in our ordinary and common humours. is vastly superior to the diamond-bedecked swindlers who represent the City iu our day. is less remote from beauty than the retired "business man" of the early nineteenth century. an honest. the Dickens.

precisely because it is the more remote. but it happens to be the psychology man. by going far lower than the streets and the gutter he brings : " " before you the highest by positing that which is lower than the lowest. consider those *' lists. but it has the disadvantage of being true. : — its truth by recollecting the *' " scientific persons who write handpsychology of the books on the subject.HIEROGLYPHICS the higher. initiated *' " is the best list mind. so Rabelais soars above the common life. Look at the Pantagrtiel . it is not the psychology of the " serious " novelists. that ebullition of grossness. plainly init is either the merest lunacy. No you are right this is not the . and if you have the prepared." that more than frankness. or else it is sublime. designed : Extremes meet ? don't you perceive that when ing. of those who write the annals of the of " engaged " . as think that Rabelais was anxious to be systematic or 100 . I don't know that very much can be made of the I hardly signification of the characters in Pantagruel. a Rabelaisian preface to the angelic song. All this may strike you as extreme paradox. above the streets and the gutter. a certain depth has been passed you begin to ascend into the heights } The Persian poet expresses the most transcendental secrets of the Divine Love by the grossest phrases of the carnal love. Don't you remember the trite saytentional. and perhaps you may assure yourself of converse proposition that it is when one is absorbed in the highest emotions that the most degrading images will intrude themselves.

wiser than any or all of his followers formally. I believe that there are two reasons for the gigantic stature of Pantagruel. warning you not to expect a faithful picture of life. speaking. I am inclined to favour this view. may not be a hint of the stature of the perfect man. actually. and legends popular that is the first and least important reason. '* " the giant conception does something to remove the book from common experience it is a sign-post. Secondly perhaps three. having only the eternal thirst for the eternal vine. whether the giant Pantagruel. and common appetites. it may be all nonsense. he is to Rabelais that which Don : Quixote is to Cervantes. tremendous shadow. And yet. the living. the son of the king. Candidly. of the ideal man. I hesitate and doubt. the leader. but nothing more. but only as a private interpretation . and you are in a position to appreciate the value of that motive. he who is "all thirst" and ever athirst. And. but rather a withdrawal from life and from common experience. and I shall not be offended or surprised if you can prove to me that it is nonsense. .HIEROGLYPHICS consistent in delineating them. impressive personages are Frere Jean and 101 . since I have never ceased from telling you that it is the principal motive of all literature. he is the hero. he is little more than a vague. thirdly. the giant. But have you noticed how Pantagruel is at once the most important and the least important figure in the book ? He is the most important personage. freed from the bonds of the common life. or The form of the whole story came from about a giant named Gargantua.

Rabelais had no mode of speaking the truth in those days but in such form as this. seems to hint that Rabelais was With all respect to Coleridge. which. who occupy tion. had a glimpse of the truth. I think that Coleridge." I must cavil at the last sentence. unobtrusive part usually. in in which Coleridge danger because he had hinted the distinction between the Reason and the Understanding. is as plain spoken as satire well can be. and Mr. using the technical language of German philosophy. the stage and capture our attenDoesn't this rather suggest to you the part played " real " man in life itself ? a by the subordinate. As I have already said. I scarcely know an more : You know " — Pantagruel illustrative of the distinction example between the two.HIEROGLYPHICS Panurge. as I have pointed out. he was indebted to the king's protection for his life. Coleridge says that is the Reason . hidden very often by an exterior which bears little resemblance to the true man within. he was threatened on account of his very open satire of the Church and the clergy. Still. as it was. the man with every faculty except the reason. perhaps. I don't think that Rabelais kept his characters within the strict limits of consistence they are only significant. 102 now and then — — and I . Besant's remark that Panurge is a careful portrait of a man without a soul is virtually the same definition in another terminology. Rabelais might have gone to the limits of psychology and meta- physics without incurring any danger . Panurge the Understanding the pollarded man.

The giant is always calm. For example. or perfect man. and yet all-important. hybrid creature of the Greek myth. Panurge is the spiritual. in reality. of life. the hairy-legged. and the three are. perhaps. One. as the repreFrere Jean is. Panurge. and at any sure that anyone who knows his Rabelais could may holes in said that the Panurge the Panurge assumes the character . and Brother John has the courage to take it to the publishers. monk was the " healthy animal. and suffer its All this rate I pick am many be purely fantastical . I may say that while Pantagruel conceives the idea. the peculiar and tion ? ." and rational man but there are occasions when of the my interpretation. is this a valid objec- Are there not such men in life itself ? Is it not. If I may apply the case to our own subject." the rational man. and the third the social being. again. in is " the background. the healthy animal. and the Monk want to are not so much the sentative of man three different characters. as I said. since his head but the other vidit nuhes et sidera is high above earth *irst is — — two have to face the compromises defeats. in his three persons.HIEROGLYPHICS say. that I speak under correction in this matter. ready to battle for his place in the material world. who uses the superior human artifice for ends that are wholly bestial or worse than bestial. gigantic. terrible privilege of humanity perhaps. But I am inclined to think that Pantagruel. I unhealthy beast. The the artist. the second the artificer. natural man. who looms. not feeling at all sure of my ground. almost invisible. and Pantagruel. Still. Panurge writes the book.

most blessed if it pleases." or a " life-like. perhaps. not yielded to. prostitute its gifts to most holy and the worst and most horrible uses? does not each one of us feel that. in any case. always ready to assume the command? The greatest saints. 104 . in its constant apposition of the eternal heights and the eternal depths. I think that when one It is mysteries. all And events. there we are told. have suffered the other words diabolicus. —Pantagruel I . yet always present. I think I have shown that the Pantagruel is one of the most extraordinary efforts of the human mind. full of " Pantagruelism " and that word stands for many concealed and wondeiful . certainly. But. knows of the key or rather of the keys one opens the pages almost with a sensation of dread. and a vision that is splendid." or even an " interesting " book . at is such a being within him. potentially. but given to evil ways if one do not hold him in check. for a moment. most fiery temptations . also.HIEROGLYPHICS that it may. because it is only at rare moments that a man can bear the spectacle of his — — own naked but awful soul. not in the least a " pleasant. but one must not forget that there is the Muddy Companion also a being often of exquisite wit and deep understanding. So it is a book that one consults at long intervals. in always attended by Panurge have talked once or twice of the Shadowy is Companion.

as you utter it. strong ale. crudest — form. I will put the question in its plainest. But. and I only wonder that you have been able to restrain yourself so well through such a series of what I I — know you you all. and perhaps before it. whether Charles Dickens had any consciousness of the interior and brandy and water which he caused Mr. and I remember when I first began to think of these things I went astray simply because I did not recognise the — existence of the difiiculty that has been bothering you. doesn't it? and yet I must tell you that to answer that question fairly you must first analyse human nature. imagine that you understand its significance perfectly 105 . Pickwick and his friends to consume in such outrageous quantities. you significance of the milk-punch. sounds a very simple predicate. and I will make you ask.HAVE been waiting for that question for a very long time. believe to be paradoxes. It sounds plain enough and simple enough. tagrueline Yes. though I have assured that I deal merely in the plainest truth. ever since that talk of ours about the haulte sagesse Panet Pickwickienne. and I needn't remind " Man " you that that is a task very far from simple. after your question is quite a legitimate one. if you please.

cut and dried answer to your question whether literature is a conscious production or. the same exeunt in mysterium was an old scholastic maxim. dancing to the rattling tune of a piano-organ. this term or on that.HIEROGLYPHICS but when you begin to refine a little. movements —motus lonici. I fear of the purely aesthetic delight there was in the sight of young little slatterns. And. — — — — You were you had telling me that as you came along this evening to stop for five minutes at the comer of the Caledonian Road to watch the exquisite grace of two slum-girls of fourteen or fifteen. and to bring and to carry propositions to their legitimate bounds. we need not pitch on well. after all. spoke of the charm of their some of them. for I take that the truth is that human knowledge disadvantage. disguised as horrible dancing. You — 106 . the people who think that one can solve the enigma of the universe with subject to the same doubts and reservations. and the only people who have always a plain answer for a plain question are the pseudo-scientists. Omnia a box of chemicals. in distinctions. there is no need to is select it " man " as offering any all especial difficulty. leaping and girls. as young girls have always leapt and danced. you find that you have undertaken the definition of that which is essentially indefinite and probably indefinable. in more particular form was Dickens aware that by milk-punch he meant ecstasy? I shall " in the *' ask you another approved Scotch manner. But all this is a caution necessary I suppose that you need not expect me to give you a plain.

the universal and eternal ecstasy of life ? Look back know. I in your memory for illustrations . of ecstasy in its highest form. Remember the Hebrew dances of religious instances and authorities. supposed to dance in the forest glade beneath the moon. am able to support a theory by rarely that a systematic catena of it is and But. of our old English peasants " treading the mazies. to that jingling. from the time of the cave-dwellers onwards. as you am rather the enemy of facts." and dancing round the maypole. of the Dionysiac chorus in the theatre. and partakers of the universal sacrament. that they were beautiful because they were naturally expressing by a symbol that is imiversal. and the step-children of the School Board. Well. Why. leaping on the pavement. clattering tune.HIEROGLYPHICS I suppose. remember that strange survival of the choristers' dance before the high altar in Spain on certain solemn feasts. Think of the Greek Maenads and Bacchantes. but do you suppose that this charm you have remarked was conscious ? Do you think that Harriet and Emily realised that they were of the kin of the ecstatic dancers of all time. they were yet human. of dances at Breton PardonSf of the fairies. 107 . joy. a survival which has persisted in spite of the strong Roman influences which make for rigid uniformity. I. and I expect even more ancient . one might make a most curious history of the dance. if one had the industry and energy. and Harriet and Emily. dancing is as much an expres- human secret as literature itself. were sion of the it is merely showing that though they were the children of the slum.

HIEROGLYPHICS But if you I need hardly say that they could not have put their very real emotion into the terms I have used nor perhaps into any terms be very difficult ask. searching questions could and face and overcome that preliminary. just as Socrates demonstrated to the slave that he was perfectly acquainted with geometry but failing a Socrates. in truth. were they conscious of to give a direct answer. as they eat and drink. I said that to answer the riddle fully and completely one would have to make an analysis of human nature. . and of the action I will not be too and interaction between the two. and using words in their usual senses. much question as to literature. it will at as If all — — and yet they know the delight of what they do. someone with the genius of Socrates for propounding " comer " Harriet and Emily. We are in misty. and. I suppose we must say that they are not conscious. regions. the problem is simply a problem of the consciousness and subconsciousness. inevitable " Gam. dogmatic. uncertain and unexplored and it is impossible to chart all the cities and mountains and streams. They dance and leap without calculation. and fix with the nicety of the ordnance survey their several places on the map but I — am 108 strangely inclined to think that all the quintessence . and as birds sing in springtime and very much the same answer must be given to the similar . as if they had been initiated in all the mysteries." it is possible that he might find that they were fully conscious of the reasons why they danced and delighted in dancing. all this.

. for it is very difficult to be exact) that his masterpiece of the picaresque. but they might be better still and one wonders that he does not announce that. and very often. his epitome of Pantagruelism. ! been altered triumphs is much more amusing than any The law of imprisonment for debt has Fleet Prison has been pulled down The ! School Board ! is coming I Lawyers' clerks have nicer ! manners Parliamentary elections are a little better. after telling us that the original design was to — — give opportunities to the etcher Seymour. conscious in other words.HIEROGLYPHICS of art is distilled self . There is a queer instance of what I mean in Dickens's preface to the later editions of Pickxvick I put the book up on a high shelf the other day. that the artificer seldom or never understands the ends and designs and spirit of the artist. in consequence of the publication of Pickwick. from the subconscious and not from the or. the achievements of the book. builded better than they knew. and enjoys it in his manner. you see. takes all the credit to himself. medical students have given up brandy It is evident. was written to correct 109 for barley-water. Our literary architects have all. and I can't be bothered getting it down and verifying the quotation but I believe the author. that Dickens thought (or thought that he thought. and his list of list in Rabelais. as it were. I think. and ludicrously imagines that it is his careful drawing and amplification of the sketch and following the scale that have created the high and holy house of God. goes on to recapitulate. I expect the draughtsman who sees the triumph.

" immense advances. the dancer. ! y. and having 110 . would probably you. Harriet. He was impelled to write this son. lurking on the parapet. obtained the prize for Physiology. and looking back. conceivably. who took in Dickens at times. and portentous "character-drawing. and Teacher says as the blood. as well as for French and the " Piano-Forte . but had written a useful tract remember he " explains " Stiggins." that she danced because she liked it. he warns you not to be under any misconceptions. b. or c. it is a very fine book. and thought the later books. she is thus enabled to give reasons." Emily." and *' " of reasons Dickens. by compari" educated " . if you succeeded in penetrating beyond "Gam.HIEROGLYPHICS abuses. since he has only aimed at x. and I suppose the master felt obliged to Justify himself for that first enterprise to show that he had not really — You been inspired. Can you conceive that a mediaeval artist in gargoyles. pompous with their ingenious plots. but. not to suppose that Stiggins satirises a. reply it's 'elthy. he congratulates himself that most of these abuses have been corrected. tell nonsense of the preface because he was. many years after its publication. granting that the poisoning process had been carried out more successfully in the case of that she danced " becos 'ow it cirkilates Emily. she might. and floods of maudlin tears. you see. having perfected for our eternal joy a splendid grinning creature. and z. they are quite as valuable as the You know that explaining the merits of Pickwick. old fool Forster. and (one can almost hear him say) ergo. sniffed a little at Pickwick.

HIEROGLYPHICS endowed him. that which makes And I am sure he would most his books literature. because the artificer. . the prior over the way ? of Dickens. greatly to our oblectation. at seems fairly plain. if I did decidedly and entirely disagree with me. the feet of an eagle. and if you want 111 . and go apart into high. but you no doubt saw that I was indicating that which is. praised it for its ecstatic passion. showing how one must withdraw from the common ways. even while he carried out the commands. with a Franciscan cowl. for its symbolism. dusty London streets. valuable in Mr. I believe that artists in you would find the rule hold good with other it a greater or I With Dickens holds in a very his high degree. lonely places. should afterwards explain that no offence to Father Ambrose. the head of a bull in hysterics. his mtelligence lived in those dreary. with the tail of a dragon. doesn't it? that in the case all events. mysteries. Take the case of Mr. for instance. I artist's doing. just because there was that tremendous gulf have so often spoken about between his inward and outward self because. with the soul of rare genius. Hardy's work. one would perceive the high. remember what I said about his Two on a Tower. the body of a dog. there was no very clear con- sciousness of what had been achieved. from the dusty highroad and the swarming street. understood very little what he was But one can trace the same working in other You cases. in my opinion. etemsil not say so in so many words. for that revelation of a great rapture. and less degree. Hardy. by way So was intended it of finish.

if he had under- mean. who Think of that distant vision of Oxford from the lonely field. If Mr. You know how the Tess was talked about. I Two on howls him down. It is pathetic in the latter book amidst much weary and futile writing to come across a passage here and there that shows the artist striving for utterance. how it remade the author from the commercial I know why am standpoint. longing to stood. in spite of the preacher. he would never have turned Jude into a long pamphlet on secondary education for farm labourers. can trace the struggle all through the book Sue was an artistic conception.HIEROGLYPHICS to his Tess sure. with what sorrow. suddenly kindling into glancing and scintillant fire at the sunset. to and Jude. Hardy had been a conscious artist. and then remember. with beautiful things. a very curious but a very beautiful revelation of some strange elements in the nature and land of blundering argument. I refer you to his later books. — — It is almost as if literature : 112 ." many much pseudo-philosophy of a kind suited to the intelligence of persons who think that Robert Elsmere is literature. many absurd " preachments. what makes the charm and the wonder of a Tower^ he could never have adulterated the tale of Tess with a free-thinking tract. with agnostic notes. wet with rain. simply because it contained. of all those clustering roofs and spires. sing us his incantations. that this is but an oasis in a barren had become " literature " the *' literature of the sub" and one must only rejoice that the artist still ject You lives even if the enemy has shut him up in prison.

" think what might have happened if the Rabelais who had been put in the dark cell of Fontenay-le-Comte had completely gained the upper hand. though. no doubt with some eloquence and vigour. which makes women. sometimes amusing. little harm to And how one Hardy ! It ." or whatever the contemporary twaddle on the subject was called. is not his element of real value. and it might well suffice him in his more material moments. runaway Franciscan friar. when he feels the necessity of descending from the H 113 . good as it is. Fortunately Pantagruel was too strong for the forces of Panurge and Frere Jean combined. of course. and had silenced that other Rabelais that solitary and rapturous soul who had seen as in a glass the marvellous face of man. But it is inoffensive always. the highly unimportant fact that — Franfois Rabelais._the five books of the Pantogruel would have conveyed to us. his work in this way. ceptions it might be so with Mr. but how difficult it is to detect Sue seem the prophetess of the " Woman Question. Conceive the Odyssey so handled that it seems " technical series " like a volume in a with '* Seadealing manship and Navigation. he had no " body " for his conhis studies of peasant folk do very well as back- wishes that if is not as grounds for his dramas. and so they have been able to do the book. did not like Franciscan friars . Well. and now that the centuries have gone by we see how (comparatively) worthless such a book as that would have been.HIEROGLYPHICS in the love of this —the real Sue—underneath the surface.

the passion of the hills no artist could desire more — exquisite or significant symbols than these. the passion of love. immemorial barrows where one may have communion with the souls of the dead. lonely ploughlands. by the way. ? you may ask. stated You . to voice for us our poor. of dark woods that hide a secret. and indeed many other passages in the final chapters. of strange. nor need he seek for more beautiful forms for the expression of the And Mr. and with it the symbol of red. I am moved to revert to the case ! pamphleteer. is." That passage. How far. would seem to show that the author had worked consciously.HIEROGLYPHICS solitary heights into the pleasant. " " Society Small Talk occupied in inditing But it proves the unconsciousness of Mr. ignorant contembe porary chatter it is as if an angel's pen were to : of Rabelais. populous valleys and But his true work is as it is villages of common life. Hardy has chosen to be a perfect beauty. The passion of love. and here. understands and for him the symbol which he no doubt. the work of all artists — —the shaping for us of ecstasy by means of symbols. was he conscious of and I see you remember that pasthe splendid declaralast book the from I quoted sage " tion of the Priestess Bacbuc that by wine is man made divine. will remember that I a I rather proposed it as in literature the finest that the effect to pious opinion— my rule without bigotry 114 . and I certainly think the point what he was saying — worth our consideration. of deep overshadowed lanes that climb the hills and wander into lands that we know not. Hardy's art .

but in later years the critical spirit is apt to assert itself. a very exceptional man. — the creative influence prevails. understood clearly what he was doing. and I am in no way concerned — to defend the position that an author must always remain unconscious of the work that he has done.HIEROGLYPHICS things are not designed. and this will lead. always or almost always operates secretly. the springtime of artistic work. indeed. My point is that the allocuBacbuc and all these chapters which describe the last Oracle of the Holy Bottle are the last in the book the words of the author. In the beginning of production. he is unconscious while he is writing . or almost always. it seems to me. but I see no reason why the revelation may not come to him afterwards. very naturally. for Rabelais was. this And I confess. in the youth. But I hardly think this is an instance of the proverbial (and fallacious) exception that proves the rule. which was the affair of many years of a lifetime. as I think I have shown. that at first sight matter of Bacbuc and her allocution looks rather like an exception to the rule. a proof that Rabelais. Well. of 115 . As a matter of fact I think that always. especially in such a case as the Pantagruel. it may have been so. Rabelais had a long wonderful career. and this. to the artist's understanding more plainly the nature of his accomplishment. at all events. his life was full of incident. but I am not intion of clined to press this point. In the first place I believe that some French editors have grave doubts whether Rabelais wrote the fifth book at all. whom it would be difficult to place in any class.

he takes the gross tale of the farmhouse and the tavern. the rank speech of the people. and you violent breaks. at all events. and every line is written in a is fury of delight may say. I think." begin with legend " All truth and and end with the interpretation every " but I believe that if . popular story about a giant. he writes on. but rather evidence of a man for whom the world has been transformed. I think I of writing no conscious . who has been visited by an astounding vision. and it seems to me very possible that.HIEROGLYPHICS and his books were produced at intervals. will note that. there at the moment well but. he writes madly. and with these elements. with these " facts. the sense of the amazing message that he had delivered. That : may come : later: one may well ** Grandgousier was a good drinker. He writes. he may have reflected on what he had done. admirable as criticism. if you are content with this I should like to give comment on Bacbuc. and have understood in part. philosophy is contained in wine Rabelais had perceived this at the beginning he would have been not an artist but a philosopher. he takes the vine that flourishes in his native Chinonnais. is the *' " explanation of the Holy Bottle chapters. He takes an old. he takes the New Learning that seems to him like the New Wine. This. you a very curious instance of our 116 . towards the end. Well." he symbolises the revelation that he has received. apperception of all that that torrent of words conveys and implies. they are inferior as art to those astounding early pages where there is no hint of conscious workmanship.

all social when I read ary. think. subordination of the accidental to the essential that I praised in Two on a Tower.HIEROGLYPHICS own day. inalterable human nature. note of ecstasy. and '* " and though there was an undertone of preaching arguing. but of the very woman who remains really the same ia grades and in all ages. of the true. society — — belonging to a particular grade and a particular period. tertiary problems of an organised civilisation. there is but very genuine. I only think of women and of men. apart. 117 . a somewhat slight. You remember those very notable books Keynotes and Discords? I have not seen them for some time. but I think that the two volumes mark very well the fatal descent from the higher : to the lower ground. it seems to But the next me. The volume. In the first. I remember thinking " " book. if I remember rightly. forgotten all about social conditions. Discords. that artistic. and I am the more conI have vinced that this is so by my own recollections. it Keynotes that it was a lonely I a soul and afar from secondthe hinted. the total impression was curiously and beautifully I found. of the woman. in which the unconscious artist has been sub- dued by the conscious preacher. you have a very high achievement. and here. inane psychology of George Meredith and those who work with him not " " the analysis of the surface. I mean that you can collect a certain distinct image of real womanhood not the laboured. foolish. so I am afraid my critcism will be very loose and general. if any such things are indicated . it seems to me. took distinctly lower ground.

: If the author of Keynotes art. have rather cut off his right hand than have suffered such a magisterium as the Ode on Imitations of Im^m^yrtality to have the companionship of the enormous mass of futility and stupidity the unconsciousness of which constitutes the greater part of the complete works ? Well. there was only the "literature of the subject. that art is not. there is the evidence that must guide us in answering the question you propounded. but there was no more literature. and it shows. 118 . Perhaps it would be a perilous dogmatism. and I expect we had better take refuge in the subconscious. conclusively enough. One might continue the catena almost ad infinitum: would not Wordsworth. supposing him to have been a conscious artist. in the ordinary acceptation of the term. the stories. definitely to pronounce it to be unconscious .'* The incidents were no longer symbols of an emotion they had become the basis of an agitation. I like best my old figure of Shadowy Companion. as stories. on the other hand. had understood her achievement Discords would never have been written. a conscious product. though his feet are in the Other World and I think that it is he who whispers to us his ineffable secrets. I think. were told with more skill and more deftness than anything in Keynotes . which we clumsily endeavour to . concerning which my curiosity never led me to inquire further and there you see another proof of artifice . that convenient name for the transcendental element in human the nature. For myself.HIEROGLYPHICS was better. the invisible attendant who walks all the way beside us.

and when he endeavours to explain himself we are often perplexed by this strange spectacle of a man is Consider wholly ignorant of his own creation. Art. only knowing the joy live of his So indeed we all speak and when we are not (and supernatural) ing of a flower. no strange trick acquired by the late ingenuity of man. First and him there was only one possible he spoke. " as the blossomas but as " natural . the creature of reason. And after all the conclusion does return to us from You cannot conceive a other than literary sources. should answer that his Venus was indeed beautiful because it tended to improve the marble — industry and the general knowledge of anatomy. whether the natural. I suppose. by endowment. any artifice 119 . It is doubtful. bound by convention and acquired usages and manners. indeed. is wholly natural.and without conscious effort. and he work. down he works beautifully but he could give no rationale of the process. built. it really as if a great sculptor congratulated on his achievement.HIEROGLYPHICS set I think that while the in mortal language. and you see that art. builder of the fourteenth century hesitating as to the respective merits of Second Pointed. artifice is more or less acquired. Norman. again the grotesqueness of that preface to Pickwick. of systematised intelligence. properly so called. and the singing of the nightingale. imtaught man has of himself. artist works he is conscious of joy and of nothing more . takes its place in the great scheme of things it is no studied contortion. without calculation method. as . of experiment. to Romanesque.

that to acquire by the power the human soul possesses of projecting into the unknown. entering the world. it seems. could never have invented the telephone had he not first created it. that I have not solved the problem I propounded. in the beginning. that is by art. removed from his consciousness simply because it is within and not from without. ha^d he not is itself conceived the possibility of its existence. is of his very inmost being. his artifice was not the product of his art. has not the inborn artifice of the swallow and the bee. and distinguished from the animals. conscious of an inner meaning in his praise of wine. and It is is of the essence. because he had received from nature the certainly the child. because he is . But art is bom with man. I suppose. when as yet it was non-existent. the very differentia of man. man has been forced art of singing by slow and painful degrees. whether Rabelais was and therefore. perhaps. and so his artifice will always be artifice of progressive. Man. whether. But if I the last analysis. whether he did not learn to speak with artifice . doubtful. and adventuring in the realm of nothingness. I mean. in a tremendous mystery. You may say that I have been vague. whether Dickens imderstood the value of his punch and brandy. that I have not clearly explained whether the Greeks knew what they did when they worshipped Dionysus. 120 is have been vague it is because man. and perhaps it only differs from the artifice of animals in that it has been aided and reinforced by imagination. This artifice.HIEROGLYPHICS at all.

because he : words. Indeed. And. doubtless.HIEROGLYPHICS is at once Pantagruel and Panurge and Frere Jean. Pantagruel dictates and Panurge the scribe writes down his a complex being. seers." to the understanding which regulates life. Sometimes the two seem like foreigners in one home. who have opened their mouths and prophesied. per- who have worked like men under the influence of haschish. into the lonely wilderness. and went apart into high solitary places. things unintelligible to the ** common sense. hardly or not at all comprehending the magic symbols that he expresses. and what they had been doing. and All the of the common affairs arranges these were alike men of the mountains. and in 121 . to be able to communicate the one with the other if Rabelais wrote " the " Dive Bouteille chapters. prophets. haps. because he is both Don Quixote In some cases Pantagruel and and Sancho Panza. Panurge seem to speak a common language. for this. magicians. it may be that this was the condition of the working of art in the very dawn of human life. no doubt. and then recovering from the possession have sat up and stared. and asked where they were. So Dickens ludicrously misinterprets his own Pickwick. men who with- drew from the camp. is the explanation of that old equation in which bards. and madmen ranked all together as men who spoke and worked miracles. this understanding of the artificer of the artist varies in an almost infinite chain of nuances: there have been artists. into the forest. he certainly imderstood much of that which he had expressed in symbols.

HIEROGLYPHICS such retirements and came to cells they uttered the voices that them." but it would be vain to dream into that poor temporary and corporal necesAnd so. then. literature from reading122 . they are never able to express in rational terms the whole force of the message. who have not only the *' gift of tongues " but also the gift of the interpretation of tongues. understand. Here. however sities of rough and illiterate farmers. speaking words that were unintelligible to themselves. when the magic song return and least. is another form of our text which enables us to separate art from artifice. they do but a little since the tongue of art has many words which of translating almost perfect beauty for the medium. in a measure at the meaning of their prophecies. well an artist or those who appreciate his work may " understand " " understand " his meaning. are whom common always possessed. because art is. framed . rapt from their nature at the moment of inspiration. succeed in giving a Boer " some notion " of a Greek chorus through the medium of the *' Taal. the sole channel by which the highest and purest truth can reach us." ecstasic. Even these. You may. On the other hand there may have been artists in the two persons have been happily reconciled. I think. indeed. perhaps. for the good reason that the language of the soul infinitely transcends the language of the understanding . they awake and remember and understand. have no rendering in the speech of the understanding. but afteris done. They never wholly *' wards.

123 . We simply see a man who does the things that : we do. too. in its workbeyond and above explanation. but we have no sense of miracle. you remember that someone has said Thackeray was simply the ordinary clubman plus genius and a style. and you and I can admire his work and be amused and delighted by it. We must correct his but if you substitute an '* immense talent of phrases Artifice is : observation" for genius. are potentially an acrobat. a far greater dexterity too. and a "great gift of expression" for style. explicable . but does them with you may watch an acrobat with an immense admiration. he differs not in quiddity but in quality and quantity from his neighbour at the window. of transcendant vision and achievement. in short. ing. but you recognise that you. he looks more closely than Tom Eaves.HIEROGLYPHICS matter. is the clubman of heightened faculties . unconsciousness is only one phase of its infinite mysteries. could hang by the heels. though not with such grace. but he looks at the same things from the same standpoint. But art is always miraculous. that with a little training you. I think the definition admirable. and he can give you the result of his inspection in better phrases and with a better system. in its results it is and the artist's In its origin. nor for so long a time. Thackeray.

in Explain. since no public meeting that I can imagine would have stood me for a moment. logically. and the following questions set. 4. 3. your delight in colour. " the beauty of line." '* What do you mean by the word music " } Give the rational explanation of Bach's Fugues. justify your pleasure 1. in rational terms. in reading the 2. and if you think it did not. perhaps." Not pre- manner. The Quest of the Holy State whether in your opinion such a vessel ever existed. Explain.VI I AM to you afraid that at our last conversation I rather spoke " as if you were a public meeting. Estimate the value of Westminster Abbey in the avoirdupois measure. account of the search for it. showing them to be as (1) true as Biology and (2) useful as Applied Mechanics. but I fear that I was what is called " high-flown. the mean- ing of the phrase. State. Graal." And yet how can one avoid that reproach ? Look here let cisely in that : us suppose an examination paper. 124 . terms that Voltaire would have understood.

let us have as much If literature common sense " and " rationalism " as you please. then. and the more the better but if literature is a mysterious ecstasy. Show that heaven lies must mean " wholesome maternal in about us in our infancy " influences surround us our childhood." What light? 6. and talk about after all. we had better be mystics when we discuss the subject. (apparently) nonsensical be. if we want to it it to any profit. that the tables of weights and measures give no aesthetic guide to the value of Westminster afraid that Having Abbey. in which the reporter is at liberty to invent some incidents and leave out others. but if we agree on this I am we must be content to be called high-flown. and frankly confess that *' . the withdrawal from all common and ordinary conditions well.HIEROGLYPHICS 5. 1 agree with you that it is nonsense. nothing to do with literary we must is uncommon. " The light that never was on land or sea." Draw a map of the district in question. That what comes to. I sup- 125 . be a kind of dignified reporting. once for all settled that " common sense " has art." You art of say that is all nonsense any kind in the ? that one cannot express terms of rationalism? Well. 7. putting in principal towns ** and naming exports. " Faery lands forlorn. and to arrange all in the order that pleases him best. I suppose. — with its first principles logic has nothing to do. I suppose.

the plain cuts as well as the ornate. and moreover I shall be so indecent as to prove the truth of my position. wholly wrong. and the other. where is its superiority ? better. and all the world of the arts must go into the region of mania. Here is a knife with a wooden handle. the simplest instance. why do Because I find pleasure in seeing those designs ? I find any pleasure in ornament? What But is the rationalistic justification for that pleasure ? By logical definition a knife is an instrument for cutting. than that other It does knife. more to be valued. to you. Why is this knife better. and nothing else. is wholly right. the goes with one's party. and 126 . and with that *' Examination Paper " I just read out mystical. while you don't last to in care twopence for the loss of the other? You have at answer that you have a joy which you cannot any way define in the purely decorative pattern . Take the lowest. ture. which it is not decorated at all? not cut does not justify its existence and purpose as a knife more than the other . have the ferocity to insist that my side. why then are you sorry if you lose the one. and the handle has certain curious carved designs on it. is simple lunacy. then all litera- that both sides agree in thinking the finest literature. the rationalist. But. all For if rationalism be the truth.HIEROGLYPHICS pose that there are only two parties in the world the Rationalists and the Mystics. but I. I have done so. and one's vote on literature : One might leave the matter there. which do not enable it to be held better. personally. and amiably agree to differ with the other side.

but I confess I am fond of carrying things to their limits. and therefore I think poetry. finer than prose. something as little decorative scheme on the seventeenth-century chest. or leave off going. You have : only to answer Your command is based on the premiss that one should do nothing without being able to give a definite reason for it. ergo. still like to follow up an argument whithersoever it will lead and this. And I too. of " my system. as poetry. I am sure.HIEROGLYPHICS with that answer the whole system of Rationalism topples over. all this is altogether outside of my business . and yet proudly. as you have admitted that there are things that one may do without being able to give a definite reason for doing them. regardless of consequences should count for righteousness with our friends the . You remember how poor S. Rationalism may say to you Either give a definite reason for going to Mass. 1 shall not neglect the *' parson's bell. and from the same premiss I draw the conclusion 127 . C." Of course. and yet you confess that I am right in liking these things. me. Hence I approve of " Ritualism " in the service of the church. But I can give no definite reason : for liking the Odyssey or a curiously carved knife. as prose. used to talk. T. I follows : I admire that odd but beautiful love to start a sorites. though I have only broken morsels and ruinous stones to show for the splendid outlines and indicated arches of Coleridge." though I am afraid " my system " never emerged from the state of fragments and disjecta membra. humbly rationalists. Then I have proved the contradictory of your premiss.

I like my theories to through. And French perhaps being vastly inferior to English. an attendant at Pleasant Sunday Afternoons. you can. at the mildest." and I confess that my belief in the truth of " my system " is " work very much strengthened by the fact that it does through. it necessarily follows that the English Reformation was a great (though Hence. of course. it follows that to " intone " is in every way and better than to *' " read " the Liturgy and the Offices. Frith's pictures. I am led strictest logic to dislike the religious policy of all by the Edward VI. to pronounce democracy to be a bad and the premiss baldly stated is simply . admiring certain lines cut in an old oaken box. my favourite reading.HIEROGLYPHICS that Keats was a poet and that Pope was not. with George Eliot for " work Yes. guess my opinion on the respective merits of the French and English languages as literary instruments. " ing that I do not care for the Derby scarcely And after learnwill Day. Pope not being a poet. with the other consequences in order. or. unavoidable) misfortune." that life. " the service reading being wrong. it seems to me justified by the facts of that the premiss which enables me to declare Keats to be a poet and Pope not to be a poet does I mean really enable me system 128 in theory. you will easily infer that I dislike Mr. and on the other hand if I saw no sense in that rude ornament I should be an Atheist." you require righteousness of the my opinion as to the (theoretical) first Reform Bill. and from my atti- tude towards Lord John Russell's measure. you see.

HIEROGLYPHICS
this
:

that logic does not cover
life

life,

or in other words,
logic,

that

cannot be judged by the rules of
sense.
I
I

of

common
tainly,

But yet
but
for

am am

using logic

all

the time, you say

?

Cer-

which

it is

in its right place, to do the work competent. If I say that a scythe is not

using

it

exactly the instrument for performing a surgical operation, I am not therefore bound to have my meadow mown

with a bistoury is good, but it
teriology.

?

is

You

microscope is good and a telescope the microscope that one uses in backnow, don't you ? that ever since that

A

unhappy Reformation

of ours people have been talking nonsense about the Aristotelian logic, and fumbling, in the most grotesque manner, for some " new " logic. Our

great false prophet Bacon (a wretch infinitely more guilty than Hobbes) began it in England with his Novum Organutn; and if you wish really to estimate "educated" folly, to touch the bottom of the incredible depths to which a man of information may sink, read Macaulay's " old " " new " comparison of the philosophy and the

The essayist says that the " old " philowas no good, because it never led up to the steamsophy engine and the telegraph-post. Isn't it almost humiliating to think that we have to acknowledge ourselves of the same genus as that " brilliant " Macaulay } But if I told you that the Greek alphabet was no good because it has never grilled a single steak you would probably get uneasy and make for the door, and if you were charitable you would tell the landlady that I ought to be
philosophy.
1

129

HIEROGLYPHICS
*'

taken care of."

But such a remark
*'

as that

is

no whit

" between lunatic than Macaulay's comparison and so called, philosophy, properly physical science applied to utilitarian purposes. Well, all the portentous
more
stuff

that has been written about logic

is

nonsense of

exactly the same kind. The scholastic logic, people said, won't discover the truth. That is perfectly true, but then the scholastic logic was not intended to discover
truth.
It will

draw conclusions from truths already

dis-

covered, from premisses granted, but it won't make premisses any more than a scythe will make grass. And it is, curiously enough, the very class of people who despise the formal logic
for actions

who insist on your giving logical reasons and emotions which are altogether outside the jurisdiction of logic. With one breath they say Aristotle is useless, because the Organon could never have led men to discover the stomach pump and with the next breath they ask you what you mean by admiring the Ode on a
:

;

you can't give any logical reason for your Your religion doesn't rest on a logical foundation, they say. But does anything of any consequence rest on a logical foundation ? Can you reduce the Morte d' Arthur into valid syllogisms in Barbara,? can " " Salisbury Cathedral by the aid of disprove you of our What is the " rational " Celarent.
if

Grecian Urn
admiration.

explanation

wonder and joy symphony, the
understanding 130
?

at the vision of the hills swell

Are a great ? and triumph of the organ, the

voices of the choristers, to be tested

by the process

of the

But perhaps

I

am

misjudging the people

HIEROGLYPHICS
ask these questions. When they say that logic does not discover truth, they doubtless mean by logic that

who

formal analysis of the ratiocinative process that is rightly so called; but I am inclined to think that when they

condemn "

religious or artistic

illogical,"

they

mean by

**

emotions because they are " that which docs illogical

not conduce to the ease and comfort of the digestive apparatus or the money-making faculty. They are terrible fellows, you know, some of these persons. For example, I asked, with a tone of undue triumph, I am afraid, for
the

" reason " why we experience awe and delight in the of the hills. But in certain quarters my problem presence would be very quickly solved. I should be told, more
than in anger, that my emotion at the sight of certain shapes of earth was due to the fact that hill air was highly ozonised, and that the human race had
in sorrow

acquired an instinctive pleasure in breathing it, greatly to its digestive profit. And if I tried to turn the tables by declaring that I experienced an equal, though a
different delight in the spectacle of a desolate,

smoking marsh, where a red sun sinks from a world of shivering reeds, I suppose I should hear that some remote ancestor of mine had found in some such place " pterodactyls plentiful and strong on the wing," and if I like the woods
it

tree,

" second
There

was because a monkey sat at the root of my family and if I love an ancient garden it is because I am
cousin to the
:

worm."
to keep one's temper with
to

I confess

it is difficult

these people, but one

must try

do

so.

Do you remem131

fired a pistol and stood over to the other side. ' where did gation? 132 " you learn your navi- . To and desired he would proceed this message Mr.' * What ' answered the commander. making an obtuse angle with the line of his former course. the messenger came up . . " Surprised at this strange method of journeying. right in the wind's eye? straight forward. what occasion have you to go zig-zag in that lie 1 but clap spurs to your horses and ride and I'll engage you shall be at the church porch in less than a quarter of an hour. and tell those we make all who sent you that the wind has shifted since that we weighed anchor. with more expedition. where the bfide waited a whole half-hour in vain. A messenger was sent who saw — The whole troop disposed in a long field. and short trips in tacking. sir ' said ' the valet. and the.HIEROGLYPHICS how Trunnion's marriage was delayed ? The groom set out bravely with his retinue for the ber : bride- parish church. keeping always in the rear of each other like a flight of wild geese. and headed by the bridegroom and his friend Hatchway who.' * Lord. rest of the *' squadron followed his example. * . crossing the road obliquely. Hark ? ye. don't you see possible speed Go back. finding himself hindered by a hedge from proceeding farther in the same direction. by reason of the narrowness of the channel . and that. as we we are obliged to make within six points of the wind. brother. ! manner? Do ** Ahey ! brother. they must make some allowance for variation and leeway. Trunnion replied.

that they didn't get there. and I showed him that such institutions were begun by the religion of the past and carried on by the religion of the present. Then he allowed. and he went on to praise some sajdng of Confucius on the folly of troubling about the future things. He began by saying that time and thought devoted to religion (they never see that art and religion stand or fall arts) together. and I demonstrated that all painting arose from the religious impulse. I tackled a materialist once on very similar lines. There are a good many people at the present day who are quite unable to get to church " reasons '* as valid as Trunnion's and in time. that painting was something. that the greatest paint- 133 . you know. for .HIEROGLYPHICS You see Commander Trumiion's ** logic " was perfect. The moral is. He agreed that to found and endow hospitals and almshouses was not precisely a waste of time. when I hear of " the scientific basis of literature " I am always a little reminded of those scarecrows straggling in short tacks from one side of the lane to the other on their way to the wedding. and I pointed out to him that England was changed from a savage wilderness into a pleasant garden by the monastic houses. He had to admit that agriculture is good. from consideration which we ought to study to the utmost. only it was the logic of seamanship and not of riding to church on horseback. in response to my Socratic question. as they only diverted us of the present world. religion being the foundation of the fine were an utter waste of time. Then I went for him.

and its part As for the in the preservation of the old literature. and the wonder- mound temples of Ceylon right at his head. F. kindly but firmly that religion wasn't rational. ful all the mediaeval cathedrals. and to compose symphonies.HIEROGLYPHICS ings in the world were meant to adorn churches. an elaborate — Then he put it mildly. I told him that the only Roman civilisation which contributed to the making of our country was that brought over by St. ing's ! was about considering the state of England in the sixth century. as helpful as the somewhat similar remark of Mr. and that it is also good to meditate and enjoy all these things. he was forced to admit that his suppressed premiss had been 134 . Then he admitted the value of architecture. I mean. to said good to paint pictures. Hence. which. my rationalist paper on the Mandarin class hadn't anything to say to it at all. was. Austin . He granted me that travel civilised. I showed him that it is form of idleness. blessedness of forming one's character on the teaching of Confucius there happened to be an article in the morn- — Well. with the exception of some vague remark that the Romans made roads. to devise romances. and I rubbed in the pilgrimage . and he had to allow that his statement that religion was a waste of time. and Greek classics he confessed that he liked to read the Latin sometimes and he received from me — — information as to the monastic scriptorium. not proven.'s Aunt that there are mile-stones on the Dover Road. and he got the Parthenon. to write poems. and I used up most of the arguments that I have used to-night.

and remedy unexpected tilted the bees' evils. but . Cobras at once. then. occasionally. and not of a mere mechanical reason. the fun really began." I said. don't you think that there is a good deal of common sense in many of the actions of animals ? Take the case of the small birds who mob an owl all day. as I think that in your phraseology the two terms are very fairly equated. aren't they ? presume you won't mind I substitute. who milk the aphides. into observable experience. I carried the camp of the enemy . a calculated and rational contrivance. and that he must no longer say is '* : That which not rational is absurd. I think." And war into the very life. and so unable to hunt at night. then. with singular contrivance. Take the bees. brought a wounded fellow to the hospital where he had been cured. in order that their enemy may be kept awake. then. and remedy. Animals. Take the case of the ant. a sufficient number of bees climbed up and placed themselves on the other side so that they constituted a balance here there was no mechanism. and go slave-hunting. All these are instances of as rational as the telegram common " Sell sense. Very well. but of reason that can rise to the height of unforeseen cases. who the threatened lack of a queen. into actual. so that the equilibrium was in danger." Very good . the everyday world of fact and You talk about if " reason. Take the dog. have a plentiful supply of reason. and I " common sense " for reason. that is.HIEROGLYPHICS disproved. who rise to an emergency. 135 . then. animals. When the experimenter house to one side.

the successful and triumphant knowledge of men and affairs and strategy man of genius in diplomacy. perhaps I. angelis et archangelis. in this or in that according to its kind. the result of of irrational were a " rational " product. then. commerce. actions though they have common sense they do things which must be troublesome to them. or business. a man. but I am sure " .ilitid C3elestis exrcitu^. If the knowledge.HIEROGLYPHICS have reason and its effect. providing for the future grub its only possible then animals. perform "irrational" . then. the adaptation of means to secure ends. a Stonewall Jackson. and pray that I may be joined cum bus. And we have all heard of the " woman's reason " " I know that it is — don't know why I am sure that x = a. rationally foresee that it is ? food No but . which elude all analysis. laying its eggs here and hexagon cell ? there. say. how about instinct? By what motion does the swallow make her nest in spring? Can the bee demonstrate the advantages of the Does the fly. which is not common sense. or in the crevices of a wall. in meat or in dung. intuitions. and that no man by taking thought can make himself. even. cum thronis et Cumque omni m. Carlyle's dictum were true. artifice. And consider our own human life. at choice. and each one of us were. But. But if a bluebottle lays her eggs in my beef. diplomacy. or usually. and knows not why. indeed. of all ** great coups the conduct of life." that is are often. a and inexplicable mental processes. may sing the Sanctus. or battle. at some instance. We not so. the dominationi- of war.

I finished up. You have been appealing from the common. I said. your " reason. and I of therefore thought it well to trust to him in all problems a similar character. beyond the jurisdicproblems " " tion of the altogether. I pointed out that the analogy was not quite The case. won't enable a decent living by selling ribbons and laces. everyday existence. you to make " King's Majesty in Council to the Magistrates of Little Pedlington in Petty Sessions assembled Then my rationalist made a point. confessedly. Why. even though the " ordinary his answers arithmetic. thereI was fore. was this.HIEROGLYPHICS — and this extremely irrational process often corresponds with the truth. So. though useful. ** " of were. unanswered. that skill in some men seem to have an almost miraculous : solving mathematical problems would you. scouting the Binomial Theorem because one couldn't prove it by Practice or the Rule of Three. give up teaching the ordinary arithmetic? not alarmed ." who obtained results that were demonstrably correct. he ! said. and is by no means a prerogative force." confessedly incompetent. and you have been trying to make me accept its dictation in the highest affairs of the soul. well on in Colenso." far from being the despot of the world. and I suppose 137 . turns out to be a humble. I left then. deputy-assistant councillorgeneral. but ordinary arithmetic offered A no difficulties to the " lightning calculator." alone and unassisted. assured me that were wholly unreliable a case of a school- — boy. even in affairs of reason. You know. certain number perfect.

perhaps. you know. . it is the noblest of trees. * And." there is. alleviates the calamities of the human race —we are forced to No ourselves disappointed. contemptuously amused by the chanting of the cathedral choir. since it added nothing to the pleasures of the wash-tub. You would not have " argued " with me if I had disparged the Greek alphabet because it never grilled a single steak . we might wonder but we should contend with a Laughing not argue . I hinted the course I friend passed the rest of the evening in showing that " you would probably have pursued if had chanced to make such an alarming remark. with the which utters such stuff as this Assuredly if the tree which Socrates planted and Plato watered is to be judged of by its flowers and leaves. : And why tribe should I argue with the sect of Macaulay. own If the Learned Pig found voice and articulate speech and expressed his scorn of the poet's art. you are wondering what all this talk of 138 . But. But if we take the homely test of of " Bacon it — if we judge the less tree by its fruits —our opinion may be favourable. really.HIEROGLYPHICS my " to the facts of BioSalisbury Cathedral was opposed and that Sisters of Charity are to be classed with logy. nothing to be said. to what do But when we look for something they amount? more for something which adds to the comfort or — . criminal lunatics. I was the real lunatic. and it were idle to Jackass. . . When we sum up the use- ful truths which we owe to that philosophy.

mine has to — gallantly contending for the rights of Holy Church. if we. in reality. the Symbol will be offered. that Jane Austen's works are not literature. but to us. no veracious document will be our truth. the very Presence and eternal indwelling of God. but Art is of Eternity. I have been showing. but it is so. For Artifice is of Time. and only now. beneath the outward and perhaps unlovely accidents. initiated. and we shall take the Sign and adore. but I think that now. if all our joys are from above. capable of rational demonstration. then Pride and Prejudice would be the highest pinnacle of the literary art. we have discovered its full and perfect definition. the science of life. being wondrous. journey through a wonderful world. at every step.HIEROGLYPHICS do with our main subject literature ? But don't you see that all the while I have merely been reiterating our old conclusions in a new phraseology ? I may have appeared to you to be the last of the Cavaliers. from the other world where the Shadowy Companion walks. but if not. consisted of a series of mathematical propositions. if Yes. in divers strange disguises. but. then no mere making of the likeness of the external shape will be our art. If philosophy. We have tracked Ecstasy by many strange paths. 139 .

.

after all. facts as facts this of course is what Poe wished to say —literature . I should contend. But I doubt. of all the arts. or information of any kind. whether Poe had quite grasped the theory of literature. is in love with B. because ture. that poetry /car' ^^o-xriv. You remember that he says that he yields to no man in his love of the truth . no doubt.APPENDIX PoE was not altogether right in saying that the object of poetry was Beauty as distinguished from Truth. is a " scientific truth. generally. would express his enthusiasm for facts is 141 . surely not Poe. They are *' words " in the language of literary art." a fact. it has no literary existence whatever and self-evident. I should imagine. is not a matter of information. No one. on the other hand. are the sole media by which the very highest truth can be conveyed. but if it be not also a symbol. of facts. Poe. meant to state a proposition which is true and self-evident that poetry — hf»s nothing to do with scientific truth. and unless he meant the highest truth the state- ment almost nonsensical. and literature. and are only used as symbols of something else. That A. but I hardly like his expression of it. I don't for a moment suppose that his meaning was amiss. and I say that that proposition is we have already seen that in literahave no existence at all.

doubtful whether truth in this. the highest truth. In the last analysis entirely true that " they are one Beauty it is : " Beauty is Truth and Truth and the same entity seen from : different points of view. Of course he was completely mistaken. would be his faith also. the expression of the true faith. with You will see how this fits in we have been saying about literature lately how we can if we please put our test of literature into yet another phraseology. All the profound verities which have been revealed to man have come to him under the guise of myths and symbols— such as the myth of Dionysus and truth in the form of a mathematical demonstra- — 142 . from what we know of Poe. being clearly under the impression that they were two different things. it is and its real significance. Yet in the next breath he contrasts this Truth with Beauty. number of facts as I said. which.HIEROGLYPHICS as facts. the universal as distinguished from the particular. — no doubt. And. nor cared whether the sun went round the earth or the and so far as art is concerned. while the other symbolises certain eternal and essential elements in human nature by means of incidents. We should therefore conclude that by truth he meant philosophical truth. For instance Vanity Fair is inall : the one tells you a about Becky Sharp and other people. would adore correct information Rossetti said You remember what —that he neither knew in the abstract. earth went round the sun this is. while Pickwick is Truth . formation. its highest can be adequately expressed in any other way. the essential truth as distinguished from the acccidental.

almost the soul without the body. ecstatic. he did not see that the qualities which make poetry to be what it is must also be present in prose if " it is to be something more than reading-matter. It is terms. the dry wood flaming and crackling on the sand. as we should say. run on lower levels. and these will. it is. the finest form of poetry is necessarily the lyrical.HIEROGLYPHICS tion or a " rational " statement is a contradiction in . the honey143 . to invest every detail of existence with its own singular and inexplicable glory. probably or indeed necessarily. it con: veys to us by means of symbols the verities of our nature. Mrs. it is almost pure art unmixed with the alloy And to carry on the analysis. Yet note the profound vice of language we are obliged to use the same word to imply things which are " true " that separated by an immeasurable gulf. or. A meal by the seashore. and the Don Quixote is is. the roasting goat's flesh. there have to be passages linking the raptures together." He thought that poetry alone should be beautiful. Of course primitive man had moods in which rapture seemed to embrace everything." Poetry of course is literature in its purest state . Where you get the element of narrative you are apt also to get the element of artifice. and I rely on your testi" true " that mony). of prose . Stickings sent away Ethelberta to-night (you imparted that interesting fact. own But Poe had not grasped the essential distinction between literature and " literature. as I think I at its highest once said.

and they are. " things unknown. there was no possiNo . This might pass. we see. I think. but I presume that on the gentlest and most antiquated computation man must have long known the world before Homer wrote. and the palaeolithic age. inclined to account for it on the ground that then everything was new. or all but including the meal by the seashore. as universal. dark and almost as too seems to have its as the sea itself it. I believe this element in the early poetry has often been noticed . perceive. and there. glorious one might think it sweet wine. since as you. but one has heard something about the neolithic age. novelty. everything new " means *' everything unknown " known is no longer new). I am not at all up in the theories which assign this or that age to the appearance of man on the earth. but solemnity and its inner meaning. or. and so there hardly seems room for this theory of we have seen. the theory bility of invention or sense of newness. the knack of making things and the gift of adorning them. life. but I hardly (that which is think that the explanation can stand in its present form.HIEROGLYPHICS — a mere dinner of half-savages. in any sense. no doubt. could have been novelties. it colours the whole of 14i4i . ** perhaps. people have wondered at the naive delight with which the writers describe the work of man's hands. about the very early man who scratched the rude likeness of a reindeer on the brute's own bone. is And besides." I repeat I know nothing or next to nothing about these dates in anthropology. the rapture universal . so one scarcely sees that human skill and art.

must be definitely abandoned. almost to our own day when the School Board (and other things) have got hold it No seems to me of him. that atmosphere wanting. with all that we have concluded about literature. effort. : may be briefly summed up wonderful. so that to him every meal became a sacrament. descended of a wonderful ancestry. that even the smallest details of . had such an unconscious but all-pervading. of course. of the child. of the effort. always and everywhere. K 145 .HIEROGLYPHICS is you but tempting. and in which poetry should be produced. and it would fall in perfectly. is the atmosphere in which poets ought to live. I really think that it . phrase things are because they are This. the impossibility of sustaining it for long. life icould It is the attitude of the primitive in the man. and surrounded by all mysteries of his life partook of the ruling ecstasy kinds. he was so sure that he was miraculous that it seemed that no part of his escape from the miracle. it has and the difficulty to be regained by a conscious common meal as a sacrament you could be supreme in narrative poetry . perhaps. Homeric man. with the simple incantation. allinfluencing conviction that he was a wonderful being. that primitive man. Formerly it was natural to all men or almost all. but. explain the supremacy of lyrical If you lived in a world that could regard a poetry. mediaeval man. we have to be content for the most part with the lyric. it of the real man. man. without any description of the cir- cumstance or occasion. as I dare say see. now. indeed.

that the only essential. poetry because numbered. I as the Neither each Odyssey and such a book as the Morte d^Arthur. immaterial what these laws alliteration. assonance. And this. in truth.HIEROGLYPHICS Yet prose. of course. desires and obtains " the strictest and most formal laws. is the only possible distinction that can be established between such a book natural. in its intensest raptures. in the fact that art. in its most truly "natural" moment. am sure. means. accents. Of course there are difficult cases. hybrids. must ideal before distinctly. which are. testify to the important and essential rule that freedom is chiefly free when it is most bound and bounded by restrictions which we should call artificial. I think that its real meaning has become almost reversed. It is. it is That word natural is another of the many traps that language sets us. " " in the common sense of the is word. though still keep the same between the two is it yields in much it to the world. as there always are. and the English is prose because it lacks number." and in nine cases out of ten he will say that it *' " but that 146 it is very unnatural. that . difference '* to be sought in the numbering of poetry. whatever laws one may lay down. I suppose. feet. rhyme. in the highest sense. He may be pretty. prosaic " " but the Greek book is is poetical . Take the average man to church and ask him his opinion of the " intoning. defining I say. as poetry. all are.

peoples. and that singing —" numerosity artificial. are purely natural. bears witness to the truth that — 147 ." some sort of chant will is You the entirely natural utterance of man in his most fer- vent. are all "primitives" and therefore natural) playing some game. as if it were music. Irving elaborated for himself a distinctly musical and measured utterance. I am sure. and every chant. Nay. always find that where convention has not cast out nature. great tragic actors. is." which is " sing-song " in a very simple form. distinguish the depends largely on the tonal variations which meaning of one word from that of an- other. The Greek drama was intoned. the Welsh preacher of to-day at the impassioned height of eloquence begins to chant. while the priests' chant. chant. so that a skilful musician. but a distinctly measured. The Chinese language. or. manner. I am told. you will find the same thing in the Norwegian. the Persian passion-plays are recited in a sing-song. He is It is artificial to speak in the ordinary utterly wrong. his most natural moments. but think of one of our Quite unconsciously. you must remember. some kind of "sing-song. Their voices are pretty sure to fall into a very rude. more simply.HIEROGLYPHICS speaking of tone — is is natural. Listen to half a dozen children (children. in a word. learning their lesson at school. and the Jewish " can till ation. the Koran is intoned. that is. could have noted his delivery of many passages. For the proof of this you have only to read a little — a very little — about primitive or "natural" to listen to children at play. '* not natural. provided with scored paper.

It seems almost too nonsensical an assumption assumption that man is to put into words. conventional. in a way. chant- ing Mass at the altar. very impudent only natural when he is doing business on the Stock Exchange or reading leadingarticles." that existence in the days of laced coats was. this sounds too ridiculous. if it were not for the fact that we have. and artificial. a kind of phantasmagoria. to be somehow more priest. Take your average Protestant. and that a man who wore chain-mail was hardly a man. clad in the mystical robes of his office. But in literature why this perversion of the word influences the whole of criticism. I believe it really is so. mouthing platitudes at his con" natural " than the venticle. is natural. I say. and I am much mistaken if you do not discover that he believes the pxeacher. All this would be perfectly would require no demonstration of anykind. — 148 . floating idea that there never were any real men at all till the period of the first Reform Bill. got into the way of making the clear in itself. and the foundation of the School Board be the era of true humanity. in his shiny black suit. and I suppose that before very long Lord John Russell will be pushed back into the will region of myth. but examine yourself and see whether you don't dimly believe that before the advent of trousers the whole world was really "play-acting.HIEROGLYPHICS " speaking " is while " singing " acquired. somehow or other. but I really do believe that *' at the back of our heads " there is a sort of vague. and you will find the same nonsense influencing religious opinion.

Many animals have sufficient artifice to shelter themselves from the weather. in poetry. and it finds expression in the arts. in melody. and Edgar Allan Poe is unnatural. at all times. and in all ages. there is. and whom shall we meet at dinner. I think. are in no sense natural. or all animals. if you wish for the truth. say. in romance. or the art of beauty in building many animals. since they are they all so purely temporary. That. and in what order shall we go in to dinner. is truly natural which is unchanging. an end of the discussion .HIEROGLYPHICS Jane Austen. and how shall we behave at dinner. have the . In this sense is natural to man. means of 149 . but man alone has the art of language. as it is sometimes expressed. in singing. inhuman. Tennyson's Fatima. we say. unless you are willing to believe that a com- pany prospectus is. in dancing. Of course. more natural and more than. don't you ? that all these questions as to what we shall get for dinner. somehow. but then we should have to admit that all human the greatest artists of the world were maniacs. If you think that the real man is the stomach. in painting. which belongs to will men ecstasy always. of course. is natural. faculty of communicating with one another by signs. But you see clearly. since be answered by one age in a manner that will seem wholly *' unnatural " to the next. no animal has architecture. in architecture. the proposition must be reversed. or.

though I am not sure. of a Mississippi village. but throughout. Do you know that I can conceive many people who would find something of this difficulty in Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn? Here you have a tale of the rude America of fifty or sixty years ago. And. that it degree. only we can't say why. of a " run away. the true literary feeling. not in a phrase or in a particular passage. we do not call a man poet on the Prejudice. if one may borrow the phraseology of physical science. and this sometimes happens because the ecstasy.HIEROGLYPHICS Has it ecstasy in books. that was by no means literature. and are puzzled. feeling somehow. or more or less ? ecstatic ever struck you while I have been talking of is nearly always a question of I think I indicated as while I was talking about Pickwick. But sometimes one is confronted with books which are really very difficult to judge. supposing it to be present. We read such books. full of the most ordinary people. that if you were to go through your much how the conception had been alloyed with much baser in other words that there was much in Pickwick Meredith you might succeed in finding some passages and sentences which are literature. since on the face of it they seem only to be entertaining reading. is present not here or there. I dare say. and for all I know there may be hints of rapture between the lines of Pride and Still. one with the slightest perception of literature could read 150 . strength of a single line. they are literature. I showed matter." I don't think anyboy and a negro who that. in a very weak solution.

In pure romance. partly from vicious training. rolling river. isn't it? it seems to frankly a rough bit of recollection drawn up from the author's boyish days with jottings added from the time when he was a pilot on one of the river-boats — it is all so apparently devoid of " " literary feeling that many a reader must have felt greatly ashamed huge enjoyment. unquenchable joy of wandering into the unknown in a more acute degree than Pickwick. between the dim marshy lands and the high " bluffs " of the other shore.HIEROGLYPHICS without experiencing extraordinary delight. To me Huckleberry Finn is not a very difficult case. grown-up people have largely succeeded in quenching the sense of mystery which should be their You have only to read the average principal delight. I am sure of his . That flight by night down the great unknown. partly from the absorption of the *'getting-on" process. In the mouth of a man the tale . and you will note that the story is told by a boy. and that by this method a larger element of wonder is secured. a word it is is to be reckoned under the same heading. indeed. which. the old." since partly from affectation. as we have seen. book of travels to see how this affectation (or perversion 151 spectacle of the world. but I can imagine many people would be a good deal puzzled to it justify the pleasure they had received. for even in this absurd age children are allowed to be amazed at the would necessarily have lost somewhat of its " strangeness. comes in my mind well under the great Odyssey class it has. The " stuff " of the book is so very common and commonplace.

to my thinking. Cervantes. there is " feeling . They are most amusing reading. of the gigantic achievements of such men as Homer. and that the author caught cold through imprudent bathing. we agreed that 152 . but they are burlesque and nothing more than burlesque and from them one can almost imagine what Don Quixote would have been if it had been written by a very clever man. Sophocles. So it is well for us that Mark Twain put his story in the mouth of an "infant. I confess I find know her tales delightful. and I often read them. by an artificer who was not an artist. and I think that it would be difficult to find a more successful render" " theme with modem wandering ing of the old . language." who is frankly at liberty to express his sense of the marvels of the world. But there is to account for —I another writer who is much more difficult mean Miss Wilkins.HIEROGLYPHICS of the soul) has deprived the seeing being of his sight. they have lost the spirit. the Later. but. those chapters literary Evasion " are very Cervantic in their " " an introduction of about Jim's artifice and method. We are no longer talking of the great masterpieces. Rabelais. But the earlier chapters are wonderfully fine. but as you I am not content to rest on my own pleasure in literary criticism. Dip into a book say a book on China and you will — — probably find that Pekin streets are dusty in summer and muddy in winter. though they preserve the body.

it is pardonable if sometimes a little confused. He selects a scene from which the young people play at some 153 .HIEROGLYPHICS when we spoke it was best of these great. Hardly can one conceive the possibility of any ecstasy in these pleasant stories . that. T. I persuade myself that I am reading literature while there is only reading-matter. And at one time I was inclined to think that I had '* confused " Miss Wilkins in this manner. with a breed of Englishmen whose chief pride it was to hide away and smother all those passions and emotions which are the peculiar mark of man as man. enduring miracles of art. for they deal. tales often sentimental. O'Connor. by an one is unconscious trick of the mind. and sometimes. it would seem. with the surface of things. reasons that have nothing to do with art. to lay aside all question of liking or not liking. For. of reading often or reading seldom. liking. if one fails to discriminate at once between the merely interesting and the I may be so delighted with a book for really artistic. manner. who pointed out very well that the passion does come through the reserve. to books which have yet to prove their merit by the test of their endurance. on the tales of surface. P. and occasionally in the most volcanic in Pembroke. But when one comes to modem days. I believe that I can justify my love of Miss Wilkins 's work on a higher ground than that of mere In the first place I agree with Mr. often trivial enough. you have in her books merely village New Englanders. Yet. ostentatiously. of scarcely more than local interest.

tales is one of loneliness. we have agreed that in such a case the writer is an artist. they were really animated by the spirit of the Bacchanals. J54 . O'Connor shows that though the boys and girls of Pembroke knew nothing of it. Well I find it difficult to express exactly what I mean. but I think that the whole impression which one receives from these of isolation. But I think that there are other things. You might imagine. that Miss Austen's heroines are as remote from the great streams and whirlpools of life as any Jane Field or Charlotte of Massachusetts. of separation from the world. more delicately hinted things in Miss Wilkins's tales or . rather I should say that they are all pervaded and filled with an emotion which I can hardly think that the writer has realised. since they are not human beings at all but merely the representatives of certain superficial manners and tricks of manner which were common in the " Remoteness >s rural England of a hundred years ago. at first. indeed. more subtle. that in one case as in the other there is a sense of retirement. and Mr. that the fire and glow of passion of the youthful ecstasy burst through all the hard crusts of Calvinism and New England reserve. the New England stories with Pride and Prejudice. they are merely dull. sense remote. they cannot be remote. Compare Miss Wilkins with Jane Austen.HIEROGLYPHICS dancing game called Copenhagen. if he can create the image of the eternal human ecstasy. But in reality this The people in the English novels are in no is not so. And we have agreed that if a writer can make passion for us.

! *' run away. and to preserve them." carries to us its meaning and significance. phrase. they cannot be remote. in permanent When we were talking about Huckleberry Finn. It seems to me that one is of the most important functions of literature of life to seize the really fine flavours form. as it were. apart with his own and each one lives soul." Doesn't I it. I remember that I spoke of it as the story *' of a boy who runs away. that one can detect a veritable human passion under the cry of the newsboy. to live in an isolated sphere. when you come and to examine the phrase. " All the winners " So I think that shouting. dressed up cannot have any such affections or predicated of them . an affection of the soul. and wicker-figures. 155 . for example. and consequently though Elizabeth may appear very quaint to us from the contrast Emma between the manners of this century and the last.HIEROGLYPHICS is in the clothes of a period. and in his own life. But that does seem to me the quality of those books of Miss Wilkins's . and dwells spite of all the trivial chatter and circumstance of the village one feels that each is a human being moved by eminently human affections. the people appear to be very far off from the world." But what a curious magic there is in these words ? *' runs away. exhale the very essence spirit of romance Some time ago is reminded you all that the essential thing concealed under manner of grotesque and unseemly forms.

and adventured out upon the in the great waste of the unexplored. it is the inevitable mixture of the lower with the higher which manoeuvres. secondary emotions . since poetry and shop-keeping are but different expressions of the one idea . of brougham and confound the Smiths. you have the true inter- *' divine discontent. characterises all our human ways." the profitable sale of poison.HIEROGLYPHICS For. what did all the heroes of romance do but " run away "? They left the region of the known. of a world which transcends all daily experience. I think." the progress of civilisation. that the English passion of the for trading goes very well with the supremacy of English poetry. this tale hero. really divine impulse is corrupted by all kinds of earthly. has for its issues the " development of '* markets. the higher 156 . and here again you find con- firmation of the theory in that very marked English characteristic the desire of wandering. Of course. Still." for surely pretation of the phrase that is divine which revolts from the commonness only common life. which is conscious of things beyond. one expects all this. and all manner of base and blackguardly But. I said once. of course. so the great joy of nmning away from the mapped and charted land. of " going on — and on " in the manner of a knight-errant or a fairy in practice. and just as the love of a venture which is at the root of trade often or always ends in a very vulgar wish to make money and more money and to set up a exploration. the familiar fields or the familiar shores. Here. of better things. perhaps. after all. into the forest or sea.

they will never deserve the title of : Seriously. In other words. excellence. and of second-rate shop-keepers. because they hate a any kind. they engage in money-making simply for the sake of making money they have no joy of the hazard.HIEROGLYPHICS motive dwells within us I suspect. so because the French " risk " of nothing more. to eat less and to drink less than the English . and all in the pursuit of money. to give more time. a man of acute intelligence would. for example. therejore. that the English is. lower things of humanity only flourish in consequence of the existence of the higher. I believe that are money-grubbers and *' merchant adventurers. in short. the French should be infinitely better men of business than the English. for the mere sake of gain than the English it is ready to work harder. Sir. because they abhor any kind of mercantile venturing into the unknown. that if it were not for the higher the lower could hardly flourish — — and so when you hear that a boy has run away to sea or elsewhere I wish you to think kindly of him as a survival of the most primitive and important human Yes. they remain in truth a nation of shop-keepers. and par yet this we know that is this is not so. of French and English and Racine. It is infinitely more bent on grain ." and. have deduced the future state of colonisation from a comparison between Shakespeare French and English commerce. I think I am right in saying that the passions. the business nation. Rationally. I have no doubt that the Phoenicians were shop157 . to live more unpleasantly. indeed. Take the French nation. in the seventeenth century.

but I faculty? believe that it can be redargued. But we must be thankful that in the sixteenth and early seventeenth ^centuries England stood aloof from the continent of Europe. and that when it did borrow it transformed and transmuted so that the original Cavalier poets. second place. the Wordsworth in Rasselas and have always suspected that Latin " literature was in a great measure Johnsonised. do you know that I have grave doubts whether we know very much of the Roman spirit from the Roman literature ? How far into the English char- acter would the works of the excellent Dr. Keats or I The Ramhler. wasn't it ? It was. not in any way a real colonisAnd in the ing in the Greek and the English sense. the Elizabethans. The Roman Empire was such a purely show. I always think that 158 . It may be a paradox. so little of the imaginative. adventurous I think the objection is formidable. and entirely lost its foreign character. but I have a very strong conviction that the Missal and the Breviary tell us more about the true Latin character than Cicero and Horace. You think the to my theory. hidden and perverted by the irresistible flood of Greek culture. Johnson carry us ? One hardly finds Chaucer. a garrisoning of the world. if one may say so. as Dominie Sampson used to say. their shadowy survival merely in the history oi their conquerors." periwigged. military settlement.HIEROGLYPHICS keepers of the French kind. and hence their extinction. because Roman Empire a formidable objection Roman literature and Roman art in general.

I think that is so. de Brunetiere. literary merit for Miss Wilkins because her books give out an impression of loneliness. English literature would have meant Chevy Chace and a few old ballads. beautiful because it is firstly and secondly because to ladies. dwelling apart. I it is elegant nothingness. like a but of society. I think. If you look into the French literature of the last two hundred years and complain of loneliness its acter. of the eminent M." a kind of a long "talk I hardly think that I need go into the 159 . of its wholly secondary charwould point out that it is second-rate because the expression. I am not making an accusation. but I should like to point out that ** " is merely another synonym for that one which makes the difference between real literaproperty ture and reading-matter. as Rome grovelled before the literature of Greece forming force — I well. of the ruelles. but perhaps it saved our litera- ture. not of the lonely human soul. if we had grovelled before the literature of France or Spain or Italy.HIEROGLYPHICS change of Madame ! de Querouaille into Madam such a wonderful instance of our nationalism —our trans- Carewell If it had been otherwise. and the eighteenth century I hate the Reformation. I am adopting the terms star. it is that French literature sociable. of the salon. of the cafe and the boulevard. of polite company. who is tells us. I claimed. simply by isolating the nation. perhaps. I think.

" the endeavour of of savages. if you like. pretty certain. de Brunetiere has given the true reason of the French literature being on the distinctly low level. is So this 160 my plea for Miss Wilkins. you and I. every age to return to the first age. it is standing out. all alone. it is always Jane Austen. are convinced of the vast immeasurable inferiority of Racine to Shakespeare (with these two name one sums up the whole debate). that real literature has always been produced by soul. to an age. one is factor all may be pretty sure that this social responsible for the pleasant nullities which we You may feel know. I take it. de Brunetiere's account of the formation of modem French letters. though. the secrets of his own soul. It is always Thackeray. it is sure.HIEROGLYPHICS merits of the question . Remember. I do not speak of the ultimate reason that is to be sought. but by the silence of the eternal hills. I presume. in our sense of the word. its artifice tion. to be always Pope. not of body the masterpieces are not generated by that pleasant and witty traffic of the drawing-rooms. but I am quite sure that M. I think that she . in the mental constitution of the nation but when one reads M. men who if have preserved a certain loneliness of . we have settled " of the is the that literature expression of the withdrawal of the soul. and — — notes his insistence on the social element as the chief factor. it is. I think. is often of the most exquisite descrip- Of course. when a man crept away to the rocks or to the forests that he might utter. not literature at all.

he must. live alone with his own is from this mood of lonely reverie and 161 I- . if you read her carefully. indeed. in spite of their very strong and social instinct drawing them in the opposite direction. you will see how this doctrine of awful. and yet I call it each man must soul." because he saw quite clearly that he must stand or fall by his own word and his own promise. but a society in which each man note stands apart. You will this. Many of the people in her stories are so abso- ** lutely convinced of their loneliness. individual loneliness prevails so far that it is carried into the necessary and ordinary transactions of social life. The instance is ludicrous. she has painted a society. often with results that are very absurd. to a certain extent. conscious only of himself and his God. of doing what other sit who vowed — — kept people didn't do.HIEROGLYPHICS has indicated this condition of " ecstasis " . stand or fall alone. and that if he would It stand. a witness to the everlasting truth that. You remember the man that imder certain circumstances he would on the meeting-house steps every Sunday ? He kept his vow for ten years." so certain that there are only two persons in the whole universe each man and his God —that they do not — shrink from trans- gressing and flouting all the social orders and regulations. and that the opinions of others could be of no possible importance to him. I think and he kept it in spite of his profound horror of ridicule. at last. but he it because he realised his " loneliness. even to the verge of farce. responsible only for himself and to himself. in spite of his own happiness.

Cervantes recounting the fooleries of Don Quixote. literal compliance with Christianity is needed. The Greeks. from our all. through the aesthetic medium of words. Dickens measuring Mr. and that which in any way is out of harmony with these dogmas is not literature. not reckoning 162 .HIEROGLYPHICS ecstasy that literature proceeds. but not exactly in the sense which you it is really so . and I think that the sense of all this is diffused throughout Miss Wilkins's New England stories. You ask me for a new is one test mass of stuff which sion of the —that or rather for a new expresseparates literature from the not literature. literature is the expression. Rabelais with his thirsty Pantagruel were all the sufficiently Catholic from our point of view. are simply nothing at These. and is merely a symbol misimderstood and possibly corrupted. of the dogmas of the Catholic Church. I will give you a test — test that will startle you. and if you can describe an initiatory dance of savages in the proper manner. is not literature. and you are perfectly right. celebrating the festivals of suppose. I shall You say that Robert Elsmere call you a good Catholic. no. nor even an acquaintance with the doctrines of Christianity. Pickwick's glasses of cold pirnch. but I hope cultus of Aphrodite you don't condemn it because it contains arguments directed against the Catholic Faith? own standpoint. Yes. No Dionysus.

Each was profoundly convinced that there are mile-stones on the Dover Road. and entirely false. and each. in his several way. remember. The conscious opinions of a writer are simply not worth twopence in the court of literature. but each was ignorant of the meaning of Sacramentalism. then we may be perfectly assured that we have not to deal with literais the subconsciouness. when the total impression of the human being gathered from the book is of a simply demonstrating and demonstrable animal. while George Eliot was a conscious one. you have from each a view of life that is substantially the same. and so. and the milestones seem few indeed while their books. It . 163 . matters secret of Canterbury Cathedral are altogether to seek in Certainly the gentleman is a delightful companion. while the other was a dull.HIEROGLYPHICS either way. creature and nothing more. was so intent on the truth of this proposition (and it is a perfectly true one) that the secret of the scenery and the ture. who cares to enquire into the theology of Keats ? But when we find not only the consciousness but also the subconsciousness permeated " rationalistic " by the impression that man is a logical. Thackeray was an unconscious heretic. just as we should pass over a passage on quadratic equations pleasantly interpolated by an author into the body of his romance. industrious woman. alone that and (to put it again theologically) you will find that books which are not literature proceed from ignorance of the Sacramental System. We pass them over. making allowance for the fact that the one was a clever man.

you can never write literature. Catholic. Think of it. will Quixote. and you will see that from the literary standpoint. while with the other guide we feel like a girls' school. and you are a pilgrim to the blissful shrine beyond. but subconsciously of necessity. you But read a chapter of Don not be aware of the existence of the milestones. Don't imagine that you can improve your literary chances by subscribing the Catechism or the Decrees of the Council of Trent." so far from desiring that compliment of 164 . the same in genus if not in species. and you may add Flaubert to your companions on the road and you will " " Now. " fidelity to life. it is merely the voice which tells us distinctly that man is not the creature of the drawingroom and the Stock Exchange. compelled to listen to the " " be in the same case. Have you noticed how many of the greatest writers. but I tell you that unless you have assimilated the final dogmas ^the eternal truths upon which those things rest. under a special symbolism. but a lonely awful soul confronted by the Source of all Souls. at events subconsciously. consciously if you please. Still. of the enduring facts of human nature and the universe. . young ladies and the lessons which every object on the road suggests. No I can give you no such short and easy plan for excelling. however clever and amusing you may be.HIEROGLYPHICS we are on the way. since your gaze is fixed on the mystery of the woods. — Catholic dogma is merely the witness. the total view is much the same. and you will realise that to all make literature it is necessary to be.

found in a tomb. in the same way. as it were. in an old lumber-room. endures some of his severest struggles in endeavouring to get away from life. behind a mask. and in the Greek Play the analogous talking of what has happened in place of visibly showing writer. and lights. and Tennyson's Morte d'Arthur shelters itself. so far from being the imitator of life. Manuscript of Cid Hamet Benengeli. I have just pointed out one. 165 . Pickimck was a transcript of the " Transactions " or " Papers " of the Pickwick Clab. and imtil he can do this he knows that his labour is all in vain." The fact is that the true artist.HIEROGLYPHICS do their best to get away in ordinary phraseology. how Cervantes. and you find a trace of the same instinct in the Greek Tragedies. to ? make their books. beginning in propria persona authoris. where the final scene. how Hawthorne prologises with the custom-house at Salem. from life. the peripeteia. of withdrawal from the common track of common things. breaks off and discovers the true history of Don Quixote in the Arabic . " unreal " I do not know whether anybody has compared the facts before or made the only possible inference from them but you remember how Rabelais professes to derive his book from a little mouldy manuscript. but described by a '* messenger. the hiding of the author. on the documents telling him the history of the Scarlet Letter. It would be amusing to trace all the various devices which have been used to secure this effect of separation. behind the personality of an imaginary There is a very profound significance in all this. is not shown on the stage.

far away " which really calls up a very similar emotion to that produced by the other theme of ** '* once on a time. effect story remote by placing it far back in time. what can be more depressing than the style which is meant to be *' " and is strange only flatulent ? In many cases. again. It is." which carry commonto the very ends of the earth. exhibition of strange dresses and unfamiliar Briefly may say strangeness of incident. And in style. long ago. hardly necessary to give the caution that. From this instinct I imagine arises the historical novel in all its forms . there is nothing more melancholy than the book which has the body of fine literature without the soul. such books as I have alluded to are mere survivals of tradition. which uses literary methods without understanding. too. of course. you may get virtually the same by using the remoteness of space. You " two novels. but there must be many more. and occasionally place penetrate to the stars. or plot." and every Christmas brings its huge budget " of those dreadful boys' books. or style makes for this one end . on the principle of corruptio optimi. we that all our old text in another form. and of course you see that all this is only the repetition of Or. by playing on the theme '* far. you make your by the manners. perhaps." as the fairy long. our aghast with recollections of futile .HIEROGLYPHICS it. conventions of bookmaking which bear witness to the fact that pirates and treasure-hoards were 166 memories are " historical needn't ask for proofs of that proposition ." of the terrific school of the horsemen." or " " tale has it.

The writer has felt and experienced the wonder of things the beauty of the sun and the hierogljrphic mystery of the figures — that the birds make in the air — and he feels. with miraculous effect. even. Many kinds of artifice. But the beginner would do well to be wary of these things. obsolete constructions. and falls back on uphappy phrases that give the very opposite impression to that which he wishes to excite. and from all our talks I expect you have gathered this much at all events that — the art of literature. " How " flowery meads is one to know when such phrases may be used ? If I could give you the answer to that question I should be also giving you the secret of making literature." The instinct is in itself an entirely right one. and I need hardly say that the masters those who have the secret can use archaic forms. conven- — — tional phrases even. is quite incommunicable. possibly. that to describe wonders one must suggest wonder by words.HIEROGLYPHICS once symbols of wonder. have been effective the glorious orb. are unteach- 167 . with all the arts. and the extravagances of style are probably to be accounted for in the same way. he breaks down at this point. Unfortunately. At some remote period to call the sun *' it may." and even now some minds may be made to realise the strangeness of great " the feathered flights of birds by the phrase Zingari of the air " . Here you have the whole history of *' poetic diction. and to turn his face resolutely away from and all the family of inversions. but if one is a little sophisticated one feels the pathos and the futility of such efforts. quite rightly.

HIEROGLYPHICS able —I could not write or be taught to write one of those George Eliot novels that I have been abusing with such hearty good-will—but art is by its very definition quite without the jurisdiction of the schools and the realm of the reasoning process. EDINBUEGH . since art the laws. superior to PRINTED m GREAT BRITAIN BY THE DUNEDIN PRESS WMJTEP. is a miracle.

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ARTHUR Hieroglyphics .P fiACHEN.