Americans and Others
by Agnes Repplier
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Often it adjusts itself along time-honoured lines, and with time-honoured results. In this happy event, some mystic figures are recalculated in scientific journals, the graduate's babies are added to the fractional birth-rate accredited to the college woman, her family and friends consider that, individually, she has settled the whole vexed question of education and domesticity, and the world, enamoured always of the traditional type of femininity, goes on its way rejoicing. If, however, the graduate evinces no inclination for social and domestic delights, if she longs to do some definite work, to breathe the breath of man's activities, and to guide herself, as a man must do, through the intricate mazes of life, it is the part of justice and of wisdom to let her try. Nothing steadies the restless soul like work,—real work which has an economic value, and is measured by the standards of the world. The college woman has been trained to independence of thought, and to a wide reasonableness of outlook. She has also received some equipment in the way of knowledge; not more, perhaps, than could be easily absorbed in the ordinary routine of life, but enough to give her a fair start in whatever field of industry she enters. If she develops into efficiency, if she makes good her hold upon work, she silences her critics. If she fails, and can, in Stevenson's noble words, "take honourable defeat to be a form of victory," she has not wasted her endeavours.

It is strange that the advantages of a college course for girls—advantages solid and reckonable—should be still so sharply questioned by men and women of the world. It is stranger still that its earnest advocates should claim for it in a special manner the few merits it does not possess. When President David Starr Jordan, of Leland Stanford University, tells us that "it is hardly necessary among intelligent men and women to argue that a good woman is a better one for having received a college education; anything short of this is inadequate for the demands of modern life and modern culture"; we can only echo the words of the wise cat in Mr. Froude's "Cat's Pilgrimage," "There may be truth in what you say, but your view is limited."

Goodness, indeed, is not a matter easily opened to discussion. Who can pigeonhole goodness, or assign it a locality? But culture (if by the word we mean that common understanding of the world's best traditions which enables us to meet one another with mental ease) is not the fair fruit of a college education. It is primarily a matter of inheritance, of lifelong surroundings, of temperament, of delicacy of taste, of early and vivid impressions. It is often found in college, but it is not a collegiate product. The steady and absorbing work demanded of a student who is seeking a degree, precludes wide wanderings "in the realms of gold." If, in her four years of study, she has gained some solid knowledge of one or two subjects, with a power of approach in other directions, she has done well, and justified the wisdom of the group system, which makes for intellectual discipline and real attainments.

In households where there is little education, the college daughter is reverenced for what she knows,—for her Latin, her mathematics, her biology. What she does not know, being also unknown to her family, causes no dismay. In households where the standard of cultivation is high, the college daughter is made the subject of good-humoured ridicule, because she lacks the general information of her sisters,—because she has never heard of Abelard and Heloise, of Graham of Claverhouse, of "The Beggars' Opera." Nobody expects the college son to know these things, or is in the least surprised when he does not; but the college daughter is supposed to be the repository of universal erudition. Every now and then somebody rushes into print with indignant illustrations of her ignorance, as though ignorance were not the one common possession of mankind. Those of us who are not undergoing examinations are not driven to reveal it,—a comfortable circumstance, which need not, however, make us unreasonably proud.

Therefore, when we are told of sophomores who place Shakespeare in the twelfth, and Dickens in the seventeenth century, who are under the impression that "Don Quixote" flowed from the fertile pen of Mr. Marion Crawford, and who are not aware that a gentleman named James Boswell wrote a most entertaining life of another gentleman named Samuel Johnson, we need not lift up horror-stricken hands to Heaven, but call to mind how many other things there are in this world to know. That a girl student should mistake "Launcelot Gobbo" for King Arthur's knight is not a matter of surprise to one who remembers how three young men, graduates of the oldest and proudest colleges in the land, placidly confessed ignorance of "Petruchio." Shakespeare, after all, belongs to "the realms of gold." The higher education, as now understood, permits the student to escape him, and to escape the Bible as well. As a consequence of these exemptions, a bachelor of arts may be, and often is, unable to meet his intellectual equals with mental ease. Allusions that have passed into the common vocabulary of cultivated men and women have no meaning for him. Does not Mr. Andrew Lang tell us of an Oxford student who wanted to know what people meant when they said "hankering after the flesh-pots of Egypt"; and has not the present writer been asked by a Harvard graduate if she could remember a Joseph, "somewhere" in the Old Testament, who was "decoyed into Egypt by a coat of many colours"?

To measure any form of schooling by its direct results is to narrow a wide issue to insignificance. The by-products of education are the things which count. It has been said by an admirable educator that the direct results obtained from Eton and Rugby are a few copies of indifferent Latin verse; the by-products are the young men who run the Indian Empire. We may be startled for a moment by discovering a student of political economy to be wholly and happily ignorant of Mr. Lloyd-George's "Budget," the most vivid object-lesson of our day; but how many Americans who talked about the budget, and had impassioned views on the subject, knew what it really contained? If the student's intelligence is so trained that she has some adequate grasp of economics, if she has been lifted once and forever out of the Robin Hood school of political economy, which is so dear to a woman's generous heart, it matters little how early or how late she becomes acquainted with the history of her own time. "Depend upon it," said the wise Dr. Johnson, whom undergraduates are sometimes wont to slight, "no woman was ever the worse for sense and knowledge." It was his habit to rest a superstructure on foundations.

The college graduate is far more immature than her characteristic self-reliance leads us to suppose. By her side, the girl who has left school at eighteen, and has lived four years in the world, is weighted with experience. The extension of youth is surely as great a boon to women as to men. There is time enough ahead of all of us in which to grow old and circumspect. For four years the student's interests have been keen and concentrated, the healthy, limited interests of a community. For four years her pleasures have been simple and sane. For four years her ambitions, like the ambitions of her college brother, have been as deeply concerned with athletics as with text-books. She has had a better chance for physical development than if she had "come out" at eighteen. Her college life has been exceptionally happy, because its complications have been few, and its freedom as wide as wisdom would permit. The system of self-government, now introduced into the colleges, has justified itself beyond all questioning. It has promoted a clear understanding of honour, it has taught the student the value of discipline, it has lent dignity to the routine of her life.

Some reverence for the laws ourselves have made,

is surely the first and best lesson which the citizen of a republic needs to learn.

Writers on educational themes have pointed out—with tremors of apprehension—that while a woman student working among men at a foreign university is mentally stimulated by her surroundings, stimulated often to the point of scholarship, her development is not uniform and normal. She is always in danger of sinking her femininity, or of overemphasizing it. In the former case, she loses charm and personality; in the latter, sanity and balance. From both perils the college woman in the United States is happily exempt. President Jordan offers as a plea for co-education the healthy sense of companionship between boy and girl students. "There is less of silliness and folly," he says, "where man is not a novelty." But, in truth, this particular form of silliness and folly is at a discount in every woman's college, simply because the interests and occupations which crowd the student's day leave little room for its expansion.

The three best things about the college life of girls are its attitude towards money (an attitude which contrasts sharply with that of many private schools), its attitude towards social disparities, and its attitude towards men. The atmosphere of the college is reasonably democratic. Like gravitates towards like, and a similarity of background and tradition forms a natural basis for companionship; but there is tolerance for other backgrounds which are not without dignity, though they may be lacking in distinction. Poverty is admittedly inconvenient, but carries no reproach. Light hearts and jesting tongues minimize its discomforts. I well remember when the coming of Madame Bernhardt to Philadelphia in 1901 fired the students of Bryn Mawr College with the justifiable ambition to see this great actress in all her finer roles. Those who had money spent it royally. Those who had none offered their possessions,—books, ornaments, tea-cups, for sale. "Such a chance to buy bargains," observed one young spendthrift, who had been endeavouring to dispose of all she needed most; "but unluckily everybody wants to sell. We know now the importance of the consuming classes, and how useful in their modest way some idle rich would be."

That large and influential portion of the community which does not know its own mind, and which the rest of the world is always endeavouring to conciliate, is still divided between its honest desire to educate women, and its fear lest the woman, when educated, may lose the conservative force which is her most valuable asset. That small and combative portion of the community which knows its own mind accurately, and which always demands the impossible, is determined that the college girl shall betake herself to practical pursuits, that she shall wedge into her four years of work, courses in domestic science, the chemistry of food, nursing, dressmaking, house sanitation, pedagogy, and that blight of the nursery,—child-study. These are the things, we are often told, which it behooves a woman to know, and by the mastery of which she is able, so says a censorious writer in the "Educational Review," "to repay in some measure her debt to man, who has extended to her the benefits of a higher education."

It is to be feared that the girl graduate, the youthful bachelor of arts who steps smiling through the serried ranks of students, her heart beating gladly in response to their generous applause, has little thought of repaying her debt to man. Somebody has made an address which she was too nervous to hear, and has affirmed, with that impressiveness which we all lend to our easiest generalizations, that the purpose of college is to give women a broad and liberal education, and, at the same time, to preserve and develop the characteristics of a complete womanhood. Somebody else has followed up the address with a few fervent remarks, declaring that the only proof of competence is performance. "The world belongs to those who have stormed it." This last ringing sentence—delivered with an almost defiant air of originality—has perhaps caught the graduate's ear, but its familiar cadence awakened no response. Has she not already stormed the world by taking her degree, and does not the world belong to her, in any case, by virtue of her youth and inexperience? Never, while she lives, will it be so completely hers as on the day of her graduation. Let her enjoy her possession while she may.

And her equipment? Well, those of us who call to mind the medley of unstable facts, untenable theories, and undesirable accomplishments, which was our substitute for education, deem her solidly informed. If the wisdom of the college president has rescued her from domestic science, and her own common sense has steered her clear of art, she has had a chance, in four years of study, to lay the foundation of knowledge. Her vocabulary is curiously limited. At her age, her grandmother, if a gentlewoman, used more words, and used them better. But then her grandmother had not associated exclusively with youthful companions. The graduate has serious views of life, which are not amiss, and a healthy sense of humour to enliven them. She is resourceful, honourable, and pathetically self-reliant. In her highest and happiest development, she merits the noble words in which an old Ferrara chronicler praises the loveliest and the most maligned woman in all history: "The lady is keen and intellectual, joyous and human, and possesses good reasoning powers."

To balance these permanent gains, there are some temporary losses. The college student, if she does not take up a definite line of work, is apt, for a time at least, to be unquiet. That quality so lovingly described by Peacock as "stayathomeativeness" is her least noticeable characteristic. The smiling discharge of uncongenial social duties, which disciplines the woman of the world, seems to her unseeing eyes a waste of time and opportunities. She has read little, and that little, not for "human delight." Excellence in literature has been pointed out to her, starred and double-starred, like Baedeker's cathedrals. She has been taught the value of standards, and has been spared the groping of the undirected reader, who builds up her own standards slowly and hesitatingly by an endless process of comparison. The saving in time is beneficial, and some defects in taste have been remedied. But human delight does not respond to authority. It is the hour of rapturous reading and the power of secret thinking which make for personal distinction. The shipwreck of education, says Dr. William James, is to be unable, after years of study, to recognize unticketed eminence. The best result obtainable from college, with its liberal and honourable traditions, is that training in the humanities which lifts the raw boy and girl into the ranks of the understanding; enabling them to sympathize with men's mistakes, to feel the beauty of lost causes, the pathos of misguided epochs, "the ceaseless whisper of permanent ideals."

The Estranging Sea

"God bless the narrow sea which keeps her off, And keeps our Britain whole within itself."

So speaks "the Tory member's elder son," in "The Princess":—

"... God bless the narrow seas! I wish they were a whole Atlantic broad";

and the transatlantic reader, pausing to digest this conservative sentiment, wonders what difference a thousand leagues would make. If the little strip of roughened water which divides Dover from Calais were twice the ocean's breadth, could the division be any wider and deeper than it is?

We Americans cross from continent to continent, and are merged blissfully into the Old-World life. Inured from infancy to contrasts, we seldom resent the unfamiliar. Our attitude towards it is, for the most part, frankly receptive, and full of joyous possibilities. We take kindly, or at least tolerantly, to foreign creeds and customs. We fail to be affronted by what we do not understand. We are not without a shadowy conviction that there may be other points of view than our own, other beliefs than those we have been taught to cherish. Mr. Birrell, endeavouring to account for Charlotte Bronte's hostility to the Belgians,—who had been uncommonly kind to her,—says that she "had never any patience" with Catholicism. The remark invites the reply of the Papal chamberlain to Prince Herbert Bismarck, when that nobleman, being in attendance upon the Emperor, pushed rudely—and unbidden—into Pope Leo's audience chamber. "I am Prince Herbert Bismarck," shouted the German. "That," said the urbane Italian, "explains, but does not excuse your conduct."

So much has been said and written about England's "splendid isolation," the phrase has grown so familiar to English eyes and ears, that the political and social attitude which it represents is a source of pride to thousands of Englishmen who are intelligent enough to know what isolation costs. "It is of the utmost importance," says the "Spectator," "that we should understand that the temper with which England regards the other states of Europe, and the temper with which those states regard her, is absolutely different." And then, with ill-concealed elation, the writer adds: "The English are the most universally disliked nation on the face of the earth."

Diplomatically, this may be true, though it is hard to see why. Socially and individually, it is not true at all. The English possess too many agreeable traits to permit them to be as much disliked as they think and hope they are. Even on the Continent, even in that strange tourist world where hostilities grow apace, where the courtesies of life are relaxed, and where every nationality presents its least lovable aspect, the English can never aspire to the prize of unpopularity. They are too silent, too clean, too handsome, too fond of fresh air, too schooled in the laws of justice which compel them to acknowledge—however reluctantly—the rights of other men. They are certainly uncivil, but that is a matter of no great moment. We do not demand that our fellow tourists should be urbane, but that they should evince a sense of propriety in their behaviour, that they should be decently reluctant to annoy. There is distinction in the Englishman's quietude, and in his innate respect for order.

But why should he covet alienation? Why should he dread popularity, lest it imply that he resembles other men? When the tide of fortune turned in the South African war, and the news of the relief of Mafeking drove London mad with joy, there were Englishmen who expressed grave alarm at the fervid demonstrations of the populace. England, they said, was wont to take her defeats without despondency, and her victories without elation. They feared the national character was changing, and becoming more like the character of Frenchmen and Americans.

This apprehension—happily unfounded—was very insular and very English. National traits are, as a matter of fact, as enduring as the mountain-tops. They survive all change of policies, all shifting of boundary lines, all expansion and contraction of dominion. When Froissart tranquilly observed, "The English are affable to no other nation than themselves," he spoke for the centuries to come. Sorbieres, who visited England in 1663, who loved the English turf, hated and feared the English cooking, and deeply admired his hospitable English hosts, admitted that the nation had "a propensity to scorn all the rest of the world." The famous verdict, "Les Anglais sont justes, mais pas bons," crystallizes the judgment of time. Foreign opinion is necessarily an imperfect diagnosis, but it has its value to the open mind. He is a wise man who heeds it, and a dull man who holds it in derision. When an English writer in "Macmillan" remarks with airy contempt that French criticisms on England have "all the piquancy of a woman's criticisms on a man," the American—standing outside the ring—is amused by this superb simplicity of self-conceit.

Fear of a French invasion and the carefully nurtured detestation of the Papacy,—these two controlling influences must be held responsible for prejudices too deep to be fathomed, too strong to be overcome. "We do naturally hate the French," observes Mr. Pepys, with genial candour; and this ordinary, everyday prejudice darkened into fury when Napoleon's conquests menaced the world. Our school histories have taught us (it is the happy privilege of a school history to teach us many things which make no impression on our minds) that for ten years England apprehended a descent upon her shores; but we cannot realize what the apprehension meant, how it ate its way into the hearts of men, until we stumble upon some such paragraph as this, from a letter of Lord Jeffrey's, written to Francis Horner in the winter of 1808: "For my honest impression is that Bonaparte will be in Dublin in about fifteen months, perhaps. And then, if I survive, I shall try to go to America."

"If I survive!" What wonder that Jeffrey, who was a clear-headed, unimaginative man, cherished all his life a cold hostility to France? What wonder that the painter Haydon, who was highly imaginative and not in the least clear-headed, felt such hostility to be an essential part of patriotism? "In my day," he writes in his journal, "boys were born, nursed, and grew up, hating and to hate the name of Frenchman." He did hate it with all his heart, but then his earliest recollection—when he was but four years old—was seeing his mother lying on her sofa and crying bitterly. He crept up to her, puzzled and frightened, poor baby, and she sobbed out: "They have cut off the Queen of France's head, my dear." Such an ineffaceable recollection colours childhood and sets character. It is an education for life.

As for the Papacy,—well, years have softened but not destroyed England's hereditary detestation of Rome. The easy tolerance of the American for any religion, or for all religions, or for no religion at all, is the natural outcome of a mixed nationality, and of a tolerably serene background. We have shed very little of our blood, or of our neighbour's blood, for the faith that was in us, or in him; and, during the past half-century, forbearance has broadened into unconcern. Even the occasional refusal of a pastor to allow a cleric of another denomination to preach in his church, can hardly be deemed a violent form of persecution.

What American author, for example, can recall such childish memories as those which Mr. Edmund Gosse describes with illuminating candour in "Father and Son"? "We welcomed any social disorder in any part of Italy, as likely to be annoying to the Papacy. If there was a custom-house officer stabbed in a fracas at Sassari, we gave loud thanks that liberty and light were breaking in upon Sardinia." What American scientist, taking a holiday in Italy, ever carried around with him such uncomfortable sensations as those described by Professor Huxley in some of his Roman letters? "I must have a strong strain of Puritan blood in me somewhere," he writes to Sir John Donnelly, after a morning spent at Saint Peter's, "for I am possessed with a desire to arise and slay the whole brood of idolaters, whenever I assist at one of these services."

Save and except Miss Georgiana Podsnap's faltering fancy for murdering her partners at a ball, this is the most bloodthirsty sentiment on record, and suggests but a limited enjoyment of a really beautiful service. Better the light-hearted unconcern of Mr. John Richard Green, the historian, who, albeit a clergyman of the Church of England, preferred going to the Church of Rome when Catholicism had an organ, and Protestantism, a harmonium. "The difference in truth between them doesn't seem to me to make up for the difference in instruments."

Mr. Lowell speaks somewhere of a "divine provincialism," which expresses the sturdy sense of a nation, and is but ill replaced by a cosmopolitanism lacking in virtue and distinction. Perhaps this is England's gift, and insures for her a solidarity which Americans lack. Ignoring or misunderstanding the standards of other races, she sets her own so high we needs must raise our eyes to consider them. Yet when Mr. Arnold scandalized his fellow countrymen by the frank confession that he found foreign life "liberating," what did he mean but that he refused to

"drag at each remove a lengthening chain"?

His mind leaped gladly to meet new issues and fresh tides of thought; he stood ready to accept the reasonableness of usages which differed materially from his own; and he took delight in the trivial happenings of every day, precisely because they were un-English and unfamiliar. Even the names of strange places, of German castles and French villages, gave him, as they give Mr. Henry James, a curious satisfaction, a sense of harmony and ordered charm.

In that caustic volume, "Elizabeth in Rugen," there is an amusing description of the indignation of the bishop's wife, Mrs. Harvey-Browne, over what she considers the stupidities of German speech.

"What," she asks with asperity, "could be more supremely senseless than calling the Baltic the Ostsee?"

"Well, but why shouldn't they, if they want to?" says Elizabeth densely.

"But, dear Frau X, it is so foolish. East sea! Of what is it the east? One is always the east of something, but one doesn't talk about it. The name has no meaning whatever. Now 'Baltic' exactly describes it."

This is fiction, but it is fiction easily surpassed by fact,—witness the English tourist in France who said to Sir Leslie Stephen that it was "unnatural" for soldiers to dress in blue. Then, remembering certain British instances, he added hastily: "Except, indeed, for the Artillery, or the Blue Horse." "The English model," comments Sir Leslie, "with all its variations, appeared to him to be ordained by nature."

The rigid application of one nation's formulas to another nation's manners has its obvious disadvantages. It is praiseworthy in an Englishman to carry his conscience—like his bathtub—wherever he goes, but both articles are sadly in his way. The American who leaves his conscience and his tub at home, and who trusts to being clean and good after a foreign fashion, has an easier time, and is not permanently stained. Being less cock-sure in the start about his standing with Heaven, he is subject to reasonable doubts as to the culpability of other people. The joyous outdoor Sundays of France and Germany please him at least as well as the shut-in Sundays of England and Scotland. He takes kindly to concerts, enlivened, without demoralization, by beer, and wonders why he cannot have them at home. Whatever is distinctive, whatever is national, interests and delights him; and he seldom feels called upon to decide a moral issue which is not submitted to his judgment.

I was once in Valais when a rude play was acted by the peasants of Vissoye. It set forth the conversion of the Huns to Christianity through the medium of a miracle vouchsafed to Zacheo, the legendary apostle of Anniviers. The little stage was erected on a pleasant hillside, the procession bearing the cross wound down from the village church, the priests from all the neighbouring towns were present, and the pious Valaisans—as overjoyed as if the Huns were a matter of yesterday—sang a solemn Te Deum in thanksgiving for the conversion of their land. It would be hard to conceive of a drama less profane; indeed, only religious fervour could have breathed life into so much controversy; yet I had English friends, intelligent, cultivated, and deeply interested, who refused to go with me to Vissoye because it was Sunday afternoon. They stood by their guns, and attended their own service in the drawing-room of the deserted little hotel at Zinal; gaining, I trust, the approval of their own consciences, and losing the experience of a lifetime.

Disapprobation has ever been a powerful stimulus to the Saxon mind. The heroic measures which it enforces command our faltering homage, and might incite us to emulation, were we not temperamentally disposed to ask ourselves the fatal question, "Is it worth while?" When we remember that twenty-five thousand people in Great Britain left off eating sugar, by way of protest against slavery in the West Indies, we realize how the individual Englishman holds himself morally responsible for wrongs he is innocent of inflicting, and powerless to redress. Hood and other light-minded humourists laughed at him for drinking bitter tea; but he was not to be shaken by ridicule. Miss Edgeworth voiced the conservative sentiment of her day when she objected to eating unsweetened custards; but he was not to be chilled by apathy.

The same strenuous spirit impelled the English to express their sympathy for Captain Alfred Dreyfus by staying away from the Paris fair of 1900. The London press loudly boasted that Englishmen would not give the sanction of their presence to any undertaking of the French Government, and called attention again and again to their absence from the exhibition. I myself was asked a number of times in England whether this absence were a noticeable thing; but truth compelled me to admit that it was not. With Paris brimming over like a cup filled to the lip, with streets and fair-grounds thronged, with every hotel crowded and every cab engaged, and with twenty thousand of my own countrymen clamorously enlivening the scene, it was not possible to miss anybody anywhere. It obviously had not occurred to Americans to see any connection between the trial of Captain Dreyfus and their enjoyment of the most beautiful and brilliant thing that Europe had to give. The pretty adage, "Tout homme a deux pays: le sien et puis la France," is truer of us than of any other people in the world. And we may as well pardon a nation her transgressions, if we cannot keep away from her shores.

England's public utterances anent the United States are of the friendliest character. Her newspapers and magazines say flattering things about us. Her poet-laureate—unlike his great predecessor who unaffectedly detested us—began his official career by praising us with such fervour that we felt we ought in common honesty to tell him that we were nothing like so good as he thought us. An English text-book, published a few years ago, explains generously to the school-boys of Great Britain that the United States should not be looked upon as a foreign nation. "They are peopled by men of our blood and faith, enjoy in a great measure the same laws that we do, read the same Bible, and acknowledge, like us, the rule of King Shakespeare."

All this is very pleasant, but the fact remains that Englishmen express surprise and pain at our most innocent idiosyncrasies. They correct our pronunciation and our misuse of words. They regret our nomadic habits, our shrill voices, our troublesome children, our inability to climb mountains or "do a little glacier work" (it sounds like embroidery, but means scrambling perilously over ice), our taste for unwholesome—or, in other words, seasoned—food. When I am reproved by English acquaintances for the "Americanisms" which disfigure my speech and proclaim my nationality, I cannot well defend myself by asserting that I read the same Bible as they do,—for maybe, after all, I don't.

The tenacity with which English residents on the Continent cling to the customs and traditions of their own country is pathetic in its loyalty and in its misconceptions. Their scheme of life does not permit a single foreign observance, their range of sympathies seldom includes a single foreign ideal. "An Englishman's happiness," says M. Taine, "consists in being at home at six in the evening, with a pleasing, attached wife, four or five children, and respectful domestics." This is a very good notion of happiness, no fault can be found with it, and something on the same order, though less perfect in detail, is highly prized and commended in America. But it does not embrace every avenue of delight. The Frenchman who seems never to go home, who seldom has a large family, whose wife is often his business partner and helpmate, and whose servants are friendly allies rather than automatic menials, enjoys life also, and with some degree of intelligence. He may be pardoned for resenting the attitude of English exiles, who, driven from their own country by the harshness of the climate, or the cruel cost of living, never cease to deplore the unaccountable foreignness of foreigners. "Our social tariff amounts to prohibition," said a witty Englishman in France. "Exchange of ideas takes place only at the extreme point of necessity."

It is not under such conditions that any nation gives its best to strangers. It is not to the affronted soul that the charm of the unfamiliar makes its sweet and powerful appeal. Lord Byron was furious when one of his countrywomen called Chamonix "rural"; yet, after all, the poor creature was giving the scenery what praise she understood. The Englishman who complained that he could not look out of his window in Rome without seeing the sun, had a legitimate grievance (we all know what it is to sigh for grey skies, and for the unutterable rest they bring); but if we want Rome, we must take her sunshine, along with her beggars and her Church. Accepted sympathetically, they need not mar our infinite content.

There is a wonderful sentence in Mrs. Humphry Ward's "Marriage of William Ashe," which subtly and strongly protests against the blight of mental isolation. Lady Kitty Bristol is reciting Corneille in Lady Grosville's drawing-room. "Her audience," says Mrs. Ward, "looked on at first with the embarrassed or hostile air which is the Englishman's natural protection against the great things of art." To write a sentence at once so caustic and so flawless is to triumph over the limitations of language. The reproach seems a strange one to hurl at a nation which has produced the noblest literature of the world since the light of Greece waned; but we must remember that distinction of mind, as Mrs. Ward understands it, and as it was understood by Mr. Arnold, is necessarily allied with a knowledge of French arts and letters, and with some insight into the qualities which clarify French conversation. "Divine provincialism" had no halo for the man who wrote "Friendship's Garland." He regarded it with an impatience akin to mistrust, and bordering upon fear. Perhaps the final word was spoken long ago by a writer whose place in literature is so high that few aspire to read him. England was severing her sympathies sharply from much which she had held in common with the rest of Europe, when Dryden wrote: "They who would combat general authority with particular opinion must first establish themselves a reputation of understanding better than other men."

Travellers' Tales

"Wenten forth in heore wey with mony wyse tales, And hedden leve to lyen al heore lyf aftir." Piers Plowman.

I don't know about travellers' "hedden leve" to lie, but that they "taken leve" no one can doubt who has ever followed their wandering footsteps. They say the most charming and audacious things, in blessed indifference to the fact that somebody may possibly believe them. They start strange hopes and longings in the human heart, and they pave the way for disappointments and disasters. They record the impression of a careless hour as though it were the experience of a lifetime.

There is a delightful little book on French rivers, written some years ago by a vivacious and highly imaginative gentleman named Molloy. It is a rose-tinted volume from the first page to the last, so full of gay adventures that it would lure a mollusc from his shell. Every town and every village yields some fresh delight, some humorous exploit to the four oarsmen who risk their lives to see it; but the few pages devoted to Amboise are of a dulcet and irresistible persuasiveness. They fill the reader's soul with a haunting desire to lay down his well-worn cares and pleasures, to say good-bye to home and kindred, and to seek that favoured spot. Touraine is full of beauty, and steeped to the lips in historic crimes. Turn where we may, her fairness charms the eye, her memories stir the heart. But Mr. Molloy claims for Amboise something rarer in France than loveliness or romance, something which no French town has ever yet been known to possess,—a slumberous and soul-satisfying silence. "We dropped under the very walls of the Castle," he writes, "without seeing a soul. It was a strange contrast to Blois in its absolute stillness. There was no sound but the noise of waters rushing through the arches of the bridge. It might have been the palace of the Sleeping Beauty, but was only one of the retrospective cities that had no concern with the present."

Quiet brooded over the ivied towers and ancient water front. Tranquillity, unconcern, a gentle and courteous aloofness surrounded and soothed the intrepid travellers. When, in the early morning, the crew pushed off in their frail boat, less than a dozen citizens assembled to watch the start. Even the peril of the performance (and there are few things more likely to draw a crowd than the chance of seeing four fellow mortals drown) failed to awaken curiosity. Nine men stood silent on the shore when the outrigger shot into the swirling river, and it is the opinion of the chronicler that Amboise "did not often witness such a gathering." Nine quiet men were, for Amboise, something in the nature of a mob.

It must be remembered that Mr. Molloy's book is not a new one; but then Touraine is neither new nor mutable. Nothing changes in its beautiful old towns, the page of whose history has been turned for centuries. What if motors now whirl in a white dust through the heart of France? They do not affect the lives of the villages through which they pass. The simple and primitive desire of the motorist is to be fed and to move on, to be fed again and to move on again, to sleep and to start afresh. That unavoidable waiting between trains which now and then compelled an old-time tourist to look at a cathedral or a chateau, by way of diverting an empty hour, no longer retards progress. The motorist needs never wait. As soon as he has eaten, he can go,—a privilege of which be gladly avails himself. A month at Amboise taught us that, at the feeding-hour, motors came flocking like fowls, and then, like fowls, dispersed. They were disagreeable while they lasted, but they never lasted long. Replete with a five-course luncheon, their fagged and grimy occupants sped on to distant towns and dinner.

But why should we, who knew well that there is not, and never has been, a quiet corner in all France, have listened to a traveller's tale, and believed in a silent Amboise? Is there no limit to human credulity? Does experience count for nothing in the Bourbon-like policy of our lives? It is to England we must go if we seek for silence, that gentle, pervasive silence which wraps us in a mantle of content. It was in Porlock that Coleridge wrote "Kubla Khan," transported, Heaven knows whither, by virtue of the hushed repose that consecrates the sleepiest hamlet in Great Britain. It was at Stoke Pogis that Gray composed his "Elegy." He could never have written—

"And all the air a solemn stillness holds,"

in the vicinity of a French village.

But Amboise! Who would go to rural England, live on ham and eggs, and sleep in a bed harder than Pharaoh's heart, if it were possible that a silent Amboise awaited him? The fair fresh vegetables of France, her ripe red strawberries and glowing cherries, her crisp salads and her caressing mattresses lured us no less than the vision of a bloodstained castle, and the wide sweep of the Loire flashing through the joyous landscape of Touraine. In the matter of beauty, Amboise outstrips all praise. In the matter of romance, she leaves nothing to be desired. Her splendid old Chateau—half palace and half fortress—towers over the river which mirrors its glory and perpetuates its shame. She is a storehouse of historic memories, she is the loveliest of little towns, she is in the heart of a district which bears the finest fruit and has the best cooks in France; but she is not, and never has been, silent, since the days when Louis the Eleventh was crowned, and she gave wine freely to all who chose to be drunk and merry at her charge.

If she does not give her wine to-day, she sells it so cheaply—lying girt by vine-clad hills—that many of her sons are drunk and merry still. The sociable habit of setting a table in the open street prevails at Amboise. Around it labourers take their evening meal, to the accompaniment of song and sunburnt mirth. It sounds poetic and it looks picturesque,—like a picture by Teniers or Jan Steen,—but it is not a habit conducive to repose.

As far as I can judge,—after a month's experience,—the one thing no inhabitant of Amboise ever does is to go to bed. At midnight the river front is alive with cheerful and strident voices. The French countryman habitually speaks to his neighbour as if he were half a mile away; and when a score of countrymen are conversing in this key, the air rings with their clamour. They sing in the same lusty fashion; not through closed lips, as is the custom of English singers, but rolling out the notes with volcanic energy from the deep craters of their throats. When our admirable waiter—who is also our best friend—frees his soul in song as he is setting the table, the walls of the dining-room quiver and vibrate. By five o'clock in the morning every one except ourselves is on foot and out of doors. We might as well be, for it is custom, not sleep, which keeps us in our beds. The hay wagons are rolling over the bridge, the farmhands are going to work, the waiter, in an easy undress, is exchanging voluble greetings with his many acquaintances, the life of the town has begun.

The ordinary week-day life, I mean, for on Sundays the market people have assembled by four, and there are nights when the noises never cease. It is no unusual thing to be awakened, an hour or two after midnight, by a tumult so loud and deep that my first impression is one of conspiracy or revolution. The sound is not unlike the hoarse roar of Sir Henry Irving's admirably trained mobs,—the only mobs I have ever heard,—and I jump out of bed, wondering if the President has been shot, or the Chamber of Deputies blown up by malcontents. Can these country people have heard the news, as the shepherds of Peloponnesus heard of the fall of Syracuse, through the gossiping of wood devils, and, like the shepherds, have hastened to carry the intelligence? When I look out of my window, the crowd seems small for the uproar it is making. Armand, the waiter, who, I am convinced, merely dozes on a dining-room chair, so as to be in readiness for any diversion, stands in the middle of the road, gesticulating with fine dramatic gestures. I cannot hear what is being said, because everybody is speaking at once; but after a while the excitement dies away, and the group slowly disperses, shouting final vociferations from out of the surrounding darkness. The next day when I ask the cause of the disturbance, Armand looks puzzled at my question. He does not seem aware that anything out of the way has happened; but finally explains that "quelques amis" were passing the hotel, and that Madame must have heard them stop and talk. The incident is apparently too common an occurrence to linger in his mind.

As for the Amboise dogs, I do not know whether they really possess a supernatural strength which enables them to bark twenty-four hours without intermission, or whether they divide themselves into day and night pickets, so that, when one band retires to rest, the other takes up the interrupted duty. The French villager, who values all domestic pets in proportion to the noise they can make, delights especially in his dogs, giant black-and-tan terriers for the most part, of indefatigable perseverance in their one line of activity. Their bark is high-pitched and querulous rather than deep and defiant, but for continuity it has no rival upon earth. Our hotel—in all other respects unexceptionable—possesses two large bulldogs which have long ago lost their British phlegm, and acquired the agitated yelp of their Gallic neighbours. They could not be quiet if they wanted to, for heavy sleigh-bells (unique decorations for a bulldog) hang about their necks, and jangle merrily at every step. In the courtyard lives a colony of birds. One virulent parrot which shrieks its inarticulate wrath from morning until night, but which does—be it remembered to its credit—go to sleep at sundown; three paroquets; two cockatoos of ineffable shrillness, and a cageful of canaries and captive finches. When taken in connection with the dogs, the hotel cat, the operatic Armand, and the cook who plays "See, O Norma!" on his flute every afternoon and evening, it will be seen that Amboise does not so closely resemble the palace of the Sleeping Beauty as Mr. Molloy has given us to understand.

All other sounds, however, melt into a harmonious murmur when compared to the one great speciality of the village,—stone-cutting in the open streets. Whenever one of the picturesque old houses is crumbling into utter decay, a pile of stone is dumped before it, and the easy-going masons of Amboise prepare to patch up its walls. No particular method is observed, the work progresses after the fashion of a child's block house, and the principal labour lies in dividing the lumps of stone. This is done with a rusty old saw pulled slowly backward and forward by two men, the sound produced resembling a succession of agonized shrieks. It goes on for hours and hours, with no apparent result except the noise; while a handsome boy, in a striped blouse and broad blue sash, completes the discord by currying the stone with an iron currycomb,—a process I have never witnessed before, and ardently hope never to witness again. If one could imagine fifty school-children all squeaking their slate pencils down their slates together,—who does not remember that blood-curdling music of his youth?—one might gain some feeble notion of the acute agony induced by such an instrument of torture. Agony to the nervous visitor alone; for the inhabitants of Amboise love their shrieking saws and currycombs, just as they love their shrieking parrots and cockatoos. They gather in happy crowds to watch the blue-sashed boy, and drink in the noise he makes. We drink it in, too, as he is immediately beneath our windows. Then we look at the castle walls glowing in the splendour of the sunset, and at the Loire sweeping in magnificent curves between the grey-green poplar trees; at the noble width of the horizon, and at the deepening tints of the sky; and we realize that a silent Amboise would be an earthly Paradise, too fair for this sinful world.

The Chill of Enthusiasm

"Surtout, pas de zele."—TALLEYRAND.

There is no aloofness so forlorn as our aloofness from an uncontagious enthusiasm, and there is no hostility so sharp as that aroused by a fervour which fails of response. Charles Lamb's "D—n him at a hazard," was the expression of a natural and reasonable frame of mind with which we are all familiar, and which, though admittedly unlovely, is in the nature of a safeguard. If we had no spiritual asbestos to protect our souls, we should be consumed to no purpose by every wanton flame. If our sincere and restful indifference to things which concern us not were shaken by every blast, we should have no available force for things which concern us deeply. If eloquence did not sometimes make us yawn, we should be besotted by oratory. And if we did not approach new acquaintances, new authors, and new points of view with life-saving reluctance, we should never feel that vital regard which, being strong enough to break down our barriers, is strong enough to hold us for life.

The worth of admiration is, after all, in proportion to the value of the thing admired,—a circumstance overlooked by the people who talk much pleasant nonsense about sympathy, and the courage of our emotions, and the open and generous mind. We know how Mr. Arnold felt when an American lady wrote to him, in praise of American authors, and said that it rejoiced her heart to think of such excellence as being "common and abundant." Mr. Arnold, who considered that excellence of any kind was very uncommon and beyond measure rare, expressed his views on this occasion with more fervour and publicity than the circumstances demanded; but his words are as balm to the irritation which some of us suffer and conceal when drained of our reluctant applause.

It is perhaps because women have been trained to a receptive attitude of mind, because for centuries they have been valued for their sympathy and appreciation rather than for their judgment, that they are so perilously prone to enthusiasm. It has come to all of us of late to hear much feminine eloquence, and to marvel at the nimbleness of woman's wit, at the speed with which she thinks, and the facility with which she expresses her thoughts. A woman who, until five years ago, never addressed a larger audience than that afforded by a reading-club or a dinner-party, will now thrust and parry on a platform, wholly unembarrassed by timidity or by ignorance. Sentiment and satire are hers to command; and while neither is convincing, both are tremendously effective with people already convinced, with the partisans who throng unwearyingly to hear the voicing of their own opinions. The ease with which such a speaker brings forward the great central fact of the universe, maternity, as an argument for or against the casting of a ballot (it works just as well either way); the glow with which she associates Jeanne d'Arc with federated clubs and social service; and the gay defiance she hurls at customs and prejudices so profoundly obsolete that the lantern of Diogenes could not find them lurking in a village street,—these things may chill the unemotional listener into apathy, but they never fail to awaken the sensibilities of an audience. The simple process, so highly commended by debaters, of ignoring all that cannot be denied, makes demonstration easy. "A crowd," said Mr. Ruskin, "thinks by infection." To be immune from infection is to stand outside the sacred circle of enthusiasts.

Yet if the experience of mankind teaches anything, it is that vital convictions are not at the mercy of eloquence. The "oratory of conviction," to borrow a phrase of Mr. Bagehot's, is so rare as to be hardly worth taking into account. Fox used to say that if a speech read well, it was "a damned bad speech," which is the final word of cynicism, spoken by one who knew. It was the saving sense of England, that solid, prosaic, dependable common sense, the bulwark of every great nation, which, after Sheridan's famous speech, demanding the impeachment of Warren Hastings, made the House adjourn "to collect its reason,"—obviously because its reason had been lost. Sir William Dolden, who moved the adjournment, frankly confessed that it was impossible to give a "determinate opinion" while under the spell of oratory. So the lawmakers, who had been fired to white heat, retired to cool down again; and when Sheridan—always as deep in difficulties as Micawber—was offered a thousand pounds for the manuscript of the speech, he remembered Fox's verdict, and refused to risk his unballasted eloquence in print.

Enthusiasm is praised because it implies an unselfish concern for something outside our personal interest and advancement. It is reverenced because the great and wise amendments, which from time to time straighten the roads we walk, may always be traced back to somebody's zeal for reform. It is rich in prophetic attributes, banking largely on the unknown, and making up in nobility of design what it lacks in excellence of attainment. Like simplicity, and candour, and other much-commended qualities, enthusiasm is charming until we meet it face to face, and cannot escape from its charm. It is then that we begin to understand the attitude of Goethe, and Talleyrand, and Pitt, and Sir Robert Peel, who saved themselves from being consumed by resolutely refusing to ignite. "It is folly," observed Goethe, "to expect that other men will consent to believe as we do"; and, having reconciled himself to this elemental obstinacy of the human heart, it no longer troubled him that those whom he felt to be wrong should refuse to acknowledge their errors.

There are men and women—not many—who have the happy art of making their most fervent convictions endurable. Their hobbies do not spread desolation over the social world, their prejudices do not insult our intelligence. They may be so "abreast with the times" that we cannot keep track of them, or they may be basking serenely in some Early Victorian close. They may believe buoyantly in the Baconian cipher, or in thought transference, or in the serious purposes of Mr. George Bernard Shaw, or in anything else which invites credulity. They may even express their views, and still be loved and cherished by their friends.

How illuminating is the contrast which Hazlitt unconsciously draws between the enthusiasms of Lamb which everybody was able to bear, and the enthusiasms of Coleridge which nobody was able to bear. Lamb would parade his admiration for some favourite author, Donne, for example, whom the rest of the company probably abhorred. He would select the most crabbed passages to quote and defend; he would stammer out his piquant and masterful half sentences, his scalding jests, his controvertible assertions; he would skilfully hint at the defects which no one else was permitted to see; and if he made no converts (wanting none), he woke no weary wrath. But we all have a sneaking sympathy for Holcroft, who, when Coleridge was expatiating rapturously and oppressively upon the glories of German transcendental philosophy, and upon his own supreme command of the field, cried out suddenly and with exceeding bitterness: "Mr. Coleridge, you are the most eloquent man I ever met, and the most unbearable in your eloquence."

I am not without a lurking suspicion that George Borrow must have been at times unbearable in his eloquence. "We cannot refuse to meet a man on the ground that he is an enthusiast," observes Mr. George Street, obviously lamenting this circumstance; "but we should at least like to make sure that his enthusiasms are under control." Borrow's enthusiasms were never under control. He stood ready at a moment's notice to prove the superiority of the Welsh bards over the paltry poets of England, or to relate the marvellous Welsh prophecies, so vague as to be always safe. He was capable of inflicting Armenian verbs upon Isopel Berners when they sat at night over their gipsy kettle in the dingle (let us hope she fell asleep as sweetly as does Milton's Eve when Adam grows too garrulous); and he met the complaints of a poor farmer on the hardness of the times with jubilant praises of evangelicalism. "Better pay three pounds an acre, and live on crusts and water in the present enlightened days," he told the disheartened husbandman, "than pay two shillings an acre, and sit down to beef and ale three times a day in the old superstitious ages." This is not the oratory of conviction. There are unreasoning prejudices in favour of one's own stomach which eloquence cannot gainsay. "I defy the utmost power of language to disgust me wi' a gude denner," observes the Ettrick Shepherd; thus putting on record the attitude of the bucolic mind, impassive, immutable, since earth's first harvests were gleaned.

The artificial emotions which expand under provocation, and collapse when the provocation is withdrawn, must be held responsible for much mental confusion. Election oratory is an old and cherished institution. It is designed to make candidates show their paces, and to give innocent amusement to the crowd. Properly reinforced by brass bands and bunting, graced by some sufficiently august presence, and enlivened by plenty of cheering and hat-flourishing, it presents a strong appeal. A political party is, moreover, a solid and self-sustaining affair. All sound and alliterative generalities about virile and vigorous manhood, honest and honourable labour, great and glorious causes, are understood, in this country at least, to refer to the virile and vigorous manhood of Republicans or Democrats, as the case may be; and to uphold the honest and honourable, great and glorious Republican or Democratic principles, upon which, it is also understood, depends the welfare of the nation.

Yet even this sense of security cannot always save us from the chill of collapsed enthusiasm. I was once at a great mass meeting, held in the interests of municipal reform, and at which the principal speaker was a candidate for office. He was delayed for a full hour after the meeting had been opened, and this hour was filled with good platform oratory. Speechmaker after speechmaker, all adepts in their art, laid bare before our eyes the evils which consumed us, and called upon us passionately to support the candidate who would lift us from our shame. The fervour of the house rose higher and higher. Martial music stirred our blood, and made us feel that reform and patriotism were one. The atmosphere grew tense with expectancy, when suddenly there came a great shout, and the sound of cheering from the crowd in the streets, the crowd which could not force its way into the huge and closely packed opera house. Now there are few things more profoundly affecting than cheers heard from a distance, or muffled by intervening walls. They have a fine dramatic quality, unknown to the cheers which rend the air about us. When the chairman of the meeting announced that the candidate was outside the doors, speaking to the mob, the excitement reached fever heat. When some one cried, "He is here!" and the orchestra struck the first bars of "Hail Columbia," we rose to our feet, waving multitudinous flags, and shouting out the rapture of our hearts.

And then,—and then there stepped upon the stage a plain, tired, bewildered man, betraying nervous exhaustion in every line. He spoke, and his voice was not the assured voice of a leader. His words were not the happy words which instantly command attention. It was evident to the discerning eye that he had been driven for days, perhaps for weeks, beyond his strength and endurance; that he had resorted to stimulants to help him in this emergency, and that they had failed; that he was striving with feeble desperation to do the impossible which was expected of him. I wondered even then if a few common words of explanation, a few sober words of promise, would not have satisfied the crowd, already sated with eloquence. I wondered if the unfortunate man could feel the chill settling down upon the house as he spoke his random and undignified sentences, whether he could see the first stragglers slipping down the aisles. What did his decent record, his honest purpose, avail him in an hour like this? He tried to lash himself to vigour, but it was spurring a broken-winded horse. The stragglers increased into a flying squadron, the house was emptying fast, when the chairman in sheer desperation made a sign to the leader of the orchestra, who waved his baton, and "The Star-Spangled Banner" drowned the candidate's last words, and brought what was left of the audience to its feet. I turned to a friend beside me, the wife of a local politician who had been the most fiery speaker of the evening. "Will it make any difference?" I asked, and she answered disconsolately; "The city is lost, but we may save the state."

Then we went out into the quiet streets, and I bethought me of Voltaire's driving in a blue coach powdered with gilt stars to see the first production of "Irene," and of his leaving the theatre to find that enthusiasts had cut the traces of his horses, so that the shouting mob might drag him home in triumph. But the mob, having done its shouting, melted away after the irresponsible fashion of mobs, leaving the blue coach stranded in front of the Tuileries, with Voltaire shivering inside of it, until the horses could be brought back, the traces patched up, and the driver recalled to his duty.

That "popular enthusiasm is but a fire of straw" has been amply demonstrated by all who have tried to keep it going. It can be lighted to some purpose, as when money is extracted from the enthusiasts before they have had time to cool; but even this process—so skilfully conducted by the initiated—seems unworthy of great and noble charities, or of great and noble causes. It is true also that the agitator—no matter what he may be agitating—is always sure of his market; a circumstance which made that most conservative of chancellors, Lord Eldon, swear with bitter oaths that, if he were to begin life over again, he would begin it as an agitator. Tom Moore tells a pleasant story (one of the many pleasant stories embalmed in his vast sarcophagus of a diary) about a street orator whom he heard address a crowd in Dublin. The man's eloquence was so stirring that Moore was ravished by it, and he expressed to Sheil his admiration for the speaker. "Ah," said Sheil carelessly, "that was a brewer's patriot. Most of the great brewers have in their employ a regular patriot who goes about among the publicans, talking violent politics, which helps to sell the beer."

Honest enthusiasm, we are often told, is the power which moves the world. Therefore it is perhaps that honest enthusiasts seem to think that if they stopped pushing, the world would stop moving,—as though it were a new world which didn't know its way. This belief inclines them to intolerance. The more keen they are, the more contemptuous they become. What Wordsworth admirably called "the self-applauding sincerity of a heated mind" leaves them no loophole for doubt, and no understanding of the doubter. In their volcanic progress they bowl over the non-partisan—a man and a brother—with splendid unconcern. He, poor soul, stunned but not convinced, clings desperately to some pettifogging convictions which he calls truth, and refuses a clearer vision. His habit of remembering what he believed yesterday clogs his mind, and makes it hard for him to believe something entirely new to-day. Much has been said about the inconvenience of keeping opinions, but much might be said about the serenity of the process. Old opinions are like old friends,—we cease to question their worth because, after years of intimacy and the loss of some valuable illusions, we have grown to place our slow reliance on them. We know at least where we stand, and whither we are tending, and we refuse to bustle feverishly about the circumference of life, because, as Amiel warns us, we cannot reach its core.

The Temptation of Eve

"My Love in her attire doth shew her wit."

It is an old and honoured jest that Eve—type of eternal womanhood—sacrificed the peace of Eden for the pleasures of dress. We see this jest reflected in the satire of the Middle Ages, in the bitter gibes of mummer and buffoon. We can hear its echoes in the invectives of the reformer,—"I doubt," said a good fifteenth-century bishop to the ladies of England in their horned caps,—"I doubt the Devil sit not between those horns." We find it illustrated with admirable naivete in the tapestries which hang in the entrance corridor of the Belle Arti in Florence.

These tapestries tell the downfall of our first parents. In one we see the newly created and lovely Eve standing by the side of the sleeping Adam, and regarding him with pleasurable anticipation. Another shows us the animals marching in line to be inspected and named. The snail heads the procession and sets the pace. The lion and the tiger stroll gossiping together. The unicorn walks alone, very stiff and proud. Two rats and two mice are closely followed by two sleek cats, who keep them well covered, and plainly await the time when Eve's amiable indiscretion shall assign them their natural prey. In the third tapestry the deed has been done, the apple had been eaten. The beasts are ravening in the background. Adam, already clad, is engaged in fastening a picturesque girdle of leaves around the unrepentant Eve,—for all the world like a modern husband fastening his wife's gown,—while she for the first time gathers up her long fair hair. Her attitude is full of innocent yet indescribable coquetry. The passion for self-adornment had already taken possession of her soul. Before her lies a future of many cares and some compensations. She is going to work and she is going to weep, but she is also going to dress. The price was hers to pay.

In the hearts of Eve's daughters lies an unspoken convincement that the price was not too dear. As far as feminity is known, or can ever be known, one dominant impulse has never wavered or weakened. In every period of the world's history, in every quarter of the globe, in every stage of savagery or civilization, this elementary instinct has held, and still holds good. The history of the world is largely the history of dress. It is the most illuminating of records, and tells its tale with a candour and completeness which no chronicle can surpass. We all agree in saying that people who reached a high stage of artistic development, like the Greeks and the Italians of the Renaissance, expressed this sense of perfection in their attire; but what we do not acknowledge so frankly is that these same nations encouraged the beauty of dress, even at a ruthless cost, because they felt that in doing so they cooperated with a great natural law,—the law which makes the "wanton lapwing" get himself another crest. They played into nature's hands.

The nations which sought to bully nature, like the Spartans and the Spaniards, passed the severest sumptuary laws; and for proving the power of fundamental forces over the unprofitable wisdom of reformers, there is nothing like a sumptuary law. In 1563 Spanish women of good repute were forbidden to wear jewels or embroideries,—the result being that many preferred to be thought reputationless, rather than abandon their finery. Some years later it was ordained that only women of loose life should be permitted to bare their shoulders; and all dressmakers who furnished the interdicted gowns to others than courtesans were condemned to four years' penal servitude. These were stern measures,—"root and branch" was ever the Spaniard's cry; but he found it easier to stamp out heresy than to eradicate from a woman's heart something which is called vanity, but which is, in truth, an overmastering impulse which she is too wise to endeavour to resist.

As a matter of fact it was a sumptuary law which incited the women of Rome to make their first great public demonstration, and to besiege the Forum as belligerently as the women of England have, in late years, besieged Parliament. The Senate had thought fit to save money for the second Punic War by curtailing all extravagance in dress; and, when the war was over, showed no disposition to repeal a statute which—to the simple masculine mind—seemed productive of nothing but good. Therefore the women gathered in the streets of Rome, demanding the restitution of their ornaments, and deeply scandalizing poor Cato, who could hardly wedge his way through the crowd. His views on this occasion were expressed with the bewildered bitterness of a modern British conservative. He sighed for the good old days when women were under the strict control of their fathers and husbands, and he very plainly told the Senators that if they had maintained their proper authority at home, their wives and daughters would not then be misbehaving themselves in public. "It was not without painful emotions of shame," said this outraged Roman gentleman, "that I just now made my way to the Forum through a herd of women. Our ancestors thought it improper that women should transact any private business without a director. We, it seems, suffer them to interfere in the management of state affairs, and to intrude into the general assemblies. Had I not been restrained by the modesty and dignity of some among them, had I not been unwilling that they should be rebuked by a Consul, I should have said to them: 'What sort of practice is this of running into the streets, and addressing other women's husbands? Could you not have petitioned at home? Are your blandishments more seductive in public than in private, and with other husbands than your own?'"

How natural it all sounds, how modern, how familiar! And with what knowledge of the immutable laws of nature, as opposed to the capricious laws of man, did Lucius Valerius defend the rebellious women of Rome! "Elegance of apparel," he pleaded before the Senate, "and jewels, and ornaments,—these are a woman's badges of distinction; in these she glories and delights; these our ancestors called the woman's world. What else does she lay aside in mourning save her purple and gold? What else does she resume when the mourning is over? How does she manifest her sympathy on occasions of public rejoicing, but by adding to the splendour of her dress?"[1]

[Footnote 1: Livy.]

Of course the statute was repealed. The only sumptuary laws which defied resistance were those which draped the Venetian gondolas and the Milanese priests in black, and with such restrictions women had no concern.

The symbolism of dress is a subject which has never received its due share of attention, yet it stands for attributes in the human race which otherwise defy analysis. It is interwoven with all our carnal and with all our spiritual instincts. It represents a cunning triumph over hard conditions, a turning of needs into victories. It voices desires and dignities without number, it subjects the importance of the thing done to the importance of the manner of doing it. "Man wears a special dress to kill, to govern, to judge, to preach, to mourn, to play. In every age the fashion in which he retains or discards some portion of this dress denotes a subtle change in his feelings." All visible things are emblematic of invisible forces. Man fixed the association of colours with grief and gladness, he made ornaments the insignia of office, he ordained that fabric should grace the majesty of power.

Yet though we know this well, it is our careless custom to talk about dress, and to write about dress, as if it had no meaning at all; as if the breaking waves of fashion which carry with them the record of pride and gentleness, of distinction and folly, of the rising and shattering of ideals,—"the cut which betokens intellect and talent, the colour which betokens temper and heart,"—were guided by no other law than chance, were a mere purposeless tyranny. Historians dwell upon the mad excesses of ruff and farthingale, of pointed shoe and swelling skirt, as if these things stood for nothing in a society forever alternating between rigid formalism and the irrepressible spirit of democracy.

Is it possible to look at a single costume painted by Velasquez without realizing that the Spanish court under Philip the Fourth had lost the mobility which has characterized it in the days of Ferdinand and Isabella, and had hardened into a formalism, replete with dignity, but lacking intelligence, and out of touch with the great social issues of the day? French chroniclers have written page after page of description—aimless and tiresome description, for the most part—of those amazing head-dresses which, at the court of Marie Antoinette, rose to such heights that the ladies looked as if their heads were in the middle of their bodies. They stood seven feet high when their hair was dressed, and a trifle over five when it wasn't. The Duchesse de Lauzun wore upon one memorable occasion a head-dress presenting a landscape in high relief on the shore of a stormy lake, ducks swimming on the lake, a sportsman shooting at the ducks, a mill which rose from the crown of her head, a miller's wife courted by an abbe, and a miller placidly driving his donkey down the steep incline over the lady's left ear.

It sounds like a Christmas pantomime; but when we remember that the French court, that model of patrician pride, was playing with democracy, with republicanism, with the simple life, as presented by Rousseau to its consideration, we see plainly enough how the real self-sufficiency of caste and the purely artificial sentiment of the day found expression in absurdities of costume. Women dared to wear such things, because, being aristocrats, they felt sure of themselves: and they professed to admire them, because, being engulfed in sentiment, they had lost all sense of proportion. A miller and his donkey were rustic (Marie Antoinette adored rusticity); an abbe flirting with a miller's wife was as obviously artificial as Watteau. It would have been hard to find a happier or more expressive combination. And when Rousseau and republicanism had won the race, we find the ladies of the Directoire illustrating the national illusions with clinging and diaphanous draperies; and asserting their affinity with the high ideals of ancient Greece by wearing sandals instead of shoes, and rings on their bare white toes. The reaction from the magnificent formalism of court dress to this abrupt nudity is in itself a record as graphic and as illuminating as anything that historians have to tell. The same great principle was at work in England when the Early Victorian virtues asserted their supremacy, when the fashionable world, becoming for a spell domestic and demure, expressed these qualities in smoothly banded hair, and draperies of decorous amplitude. There is, in fact, no phase of national life or national sentiment which has not betrayed itself to the world in dress.

And not national life only, but individual life as well. Clothes are more than historical, they are autobiographical. They tell their story in broad outlines and in minute detail. Was it for nothing that Charles the First devised that rich and sombre costume of black and white from which he never sought relief? Was it for nothing that Garibaldi wore a red shirt, and Napoleon an old grey coat? In proof that these things stood for character and destiny, we have but to look at the resolute but futile attempt which Charles the Second made to follow his father's lead, to express something beyond a fluctuating fashion in his dress. In 1666 he announced to his Council—which was, we trust, gratified by the intelligence—that he intended to wear one unaltered costume for the rest of his days. A month later he donned this costume, the distinguishing features of which were a long, close-fitting, black waistcoat, pinked with white, a loose embroidered surtout, and buskins. The court followed his example, and Charles not unnaturally complained that so many black and white waistcoats made him feel as though he were surrounded by magpies. So the white pinking was discarded, and plain black velvet waistcoats substituted. These were neither very gay, nor very becoming to a swarthy monarch; and the never-to-be-altered costume lasted less than two years, to the great relief of the courtiers, especially of those who had risked betting with the king himself on its speedy disappearance. Expressing nothing but a caprice, it had the futility and the impermanence of all caprices.

Within the last century, men have gradually, and it would seem permanently, abandoned the effort to reveal their personality in dress. They have allowed themselves to be committed for life to a costume of ruthless utilitarianism, which takes no count of physical beauty, or of its just display. Comfort, convenience, and sanitation have conspired to establish a rigidity of rule never seen before, to which men yield a docile and lamblike obedience. Robert Burton's axiom, "Nothing sooner dejects a man than clothes out of fashion," is as true now as it was three hundred years ago. Fashion sways the shape of a collar, and the infinitesimal gradations of a hat-brim; but the sense of fitness, and the power of interpreting life, which ennobled fashion in Burton's day, have disappeared in an enforced monotony.

Men take a strange perverted pride in this mournful sameness of attire,—delight in wearing a hat like every other man's hat, are content that it should be a perfected miracle of ugliness, that it should be hot, that it should be heavy, that it should be disfiguring, if only they can make sure of seeing fifty, or a hundred and fifty, other hats exactly like it on their way downtown. So absolute is this uniformity that the late Marquess of Ailesbury bore all his life a reputation for eccentricity, which seems to have had no other foundation than the fact of his wearing hats, or rather a hat, of distinctive shape, chosen with reference to his own head rather than to the heads of some odd millions of fellow citizens. The story is told of his standing bare-headed in a hatter's shop, awaiting the return of a salesman who had carried off his own beloved head-gear, when a shortsighted bishop entered, and, not recognizing the peer, took him for an assistant, and handed him his hat, asking him if he had any exactly like it. Lord Ailesbury turned the bishop's hat over and over, examined it carefully inside and out, and gave it back again. "No," he said, "I haven't, and I'll be damned if I'd wear it, if I had."

Even before the establishment of the invincible despotism which clothes the gentlemen of Christendom in a livery, we find the masculine mind disposed to severity in the ruling of fashions. Steele, for example, tells us the shocking story of an English gentleman who would persist in wearing a broad belt with a hanger, instead of the light sword then carried by men of rank, although in other respects he was a "perfectly well-bred person." Steele naturally regarded this acquaintance with deep suspicion, which was justified when, twenty-two years afterwards, the innovator married his cook-maid. "Others were amazed at this," writes the essayist, "but I must confess that I was not. I had always known that his deviation from the costume of a gentleman indicated an ill-balanced mind."

Now the adoption of a rigorous and monotonous utilitarianism in masculine attire has had two unlovely results. In the first place, men, since they ceased to covet beautiful clothes for themselves, have wasted much valuable time in counselling and censuring women; and, in the second place, there has come, with the loss of their fine trappings, a corresponding loss of illusions on the part of the women who look at them. Black broadcloth and derby hats are calculated to destroy the most robust illusions in Christendom; and men—from motives hard to fathom—have refused to retain in their wardrobes a single article which can amend an imperfect ideal. This does not imply that women fail to value friends in black broadcloth, nor that they refuse their affections to lovers and husbands in derby hats. Nature is not to be balked by such impediments. But as long as men wore costumes which interpreted their strength, enhanced their persuasiveness, and concealed their shortcomings, women accepted their dominance without demur. They made no idle claim to equality with creatures, not only bigger and stronger, not only more capable and more resolute, not only wiser and more experienced, but more noble and distinguished in appearance than they were themselves. What if the assertive attitude of the modern woman, her easy arrogance, and the confidence she places in her own untried powers, may be accounted for by the dispiriting clothes which men have determined to wear, and the wearing of which may have cost them no small portion of their authority?

The whole attitude of women in this regard is fraught with significance. Men have rashly discarded those details of costume which enhanced their comeliness and charm (we have but to look at Van Dyck's portraits to see how much rare distinction is traceable to subdued elegance of dress); but women have never through the long centuries laid aside the pleasant duty of self-adornment. They dare not if they would,—too much is at stake; and they experience the just delight which comes from cooperation with a natural law. The flexibility of their dress gives them every opportunity to modify, to enhance, to reveal, and to conceal. It is in the highest degree interpretative, and through it they express their aspirations and ideals, their thirst for combat and their realization of defeat, their fluctuating sentiments and their permanent predispositions.

"A winning wave, deserving note, In the tempestuous petticoat; A careless shoe-string, in whose tie I see a wild civility."

Naturally, in a matter so vital, they are not disposed to listen to reason, and they cannot be argued out of a great fundamental instinct. Women are constitutionally incapable of being influenced by argument,—a limitation which is in the nature of a safeguard. The cunning words in which M. Marcel Provost urges them to follow the example of men, sounds, to their ears, a little like the words in which the fox which had lost its tail counsels its fellow foxes to rid themselves of so despicable an appendage. "Before the Revolution," writes M. Provost, in his "Lettres a Francois," "the clothes worn by men of quality were more costly than those worn by women. To-day all men dress with such uniformity that a Huron, transported to Paris or to London, could not distinguish master from valet. This will assuredly be the fate of feminine toilets in a future more or less near. The time must come when the varying costumes now seen at balls, at the races, at the theatre, will all be swept away; and in their place women will wear, as men do, a species of uniform. There will be a 'woman's suit,' costing sixty francs at Batignolles, and five hundred francs in the rue de la Paix; and, this reform once accomplished, it will never be possible to return to old conditions. Reason will have triumphed."

Perhaps! But reason has been routed so often from the field that one no longer feels confident of her success. M. Baudrillart had a world of reason on his side when, before the Chamber of Deputies, he urged reform in dress, and the legal suppression of jewels and costly fabrics. M. de Lavaleye, the Belgian statist, was fortified by reason when he proposed his grey serge uniform for women of all classes. If we turn back a page or two of history, and look at the failure of the sumptuary laws in England, we find the wives of London tradesmen, who were not permitted to wear velvet in public, lining their grogram gowns with this costly fabric, for the mere pleasure of possession, for the meaningless—and most unreasonable—joy of expenditure. And when Queen Elizabeth, who considered extravagance in dress to be a royal prerogative, attempted to coerce the ladies of her court into simplicity, the Countess of Shrewsbury comments with ill-concealed irony on the result of such reasonable endeavours. "How often hath her majestie, with the grave advice of her honourable Councell, sette down the limits of apparell of every degree; and how soon again hath the pride of our harts overflown the chanell."

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