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And 'twas, too, from a neighbouring port,
Ah! lovely, lovely is the land
And in that pleasaunce it befell—
'Twas eve, Midsummer Eve ; the flush,
And as I looked, misdoubting, lo!
Of shapes most diverse: from the Oak
And dainty in white linen smocks,
Stands, stiff of stower, each Yew-tree maid;
And death eternal; and, hard by,
Of the Park's silence. Bold and free,
Ah! who shall tell those Oreads all ?
Great Flanders creatures, slow emerge
And hark they sing ! Like leafage stirred
Even such their song : it sinks, it soars,
And swelling thence, it seems to voice
But wordless all ! O, Oreads fair,
In vain, in vain l Wainly I cry,
Wain, vain l Again and yet again, Like echoes dwindling in the hills, Such seems the dying song's refrain, Its one clear message.—Silence fills 7. The pleasaunce, and the dark invades ** The glory of its star-lit glades. FRANK T. MARZIALS.
THE BOOK ON THE TABLE.
• A COMMENZAR Y. 1
MR. GALsworthy has chosen an alluring title. No work so poor but it desires comment; better adverse than none at all. And when the text of the commentator is life itself, and the object of his criticism living men and women, vanity should see to it that he gets a hearing. Mr. Galsworthy's commentary, one may guess, is not intended to be a wholly soothing document. You may, if you choose, bring a man abruptly home to himself by confronting him with the unmistakable effigy of his own solid form and substance, or, more subtly, by drawing his gaze towards a dim projection, unfamiliar, sinister, or even monstrous, which yet on closer inspection he must acknowledge to be the authentic shadow he throws. Mr. Galsworthy employs both methods, and as he turns his bright reflector now upon the closed-up ranks of the comfortable rich, now on the chaotic under-world of poverty and fear, the well-to-do spectator recognises himself equally on either page as the author's objective. ‘Here in this picture see yourself; in this other, your work.’ The contrast, it may be said, and its application are not new, and a concentrated civilisation has at least the merit of forcing them to some extent on the consideration of every man. Lazarus no longer waits at the gate. For a trifle he is made free of Dives's house, invades his most private hours, and has access to his mind if not to his bodily presence. The unanswerable pressure of his misery on the private conscience has been set down by Mr. Galsworthy in the sketch “A Lost Dog,” where all the specious arguments of self-interest and commonsense retreat discomfited before the simple reiterated fact of the lost dog's existence. But we have something more here than ingenious and pointed statements of one of the oldest and most obvious of problems. Beneath the surface show of violent inequality you discover a fine thread of likeness, giving unity and rational sequence to the whole. We may assume the short paper which heads the rest and gives ' A Commentary. By John Galsworthy.
its title to the book to be a more or less accurate summary of the author's point of view. The symbolism of the steam-roller is sufficiently obvious, whilst the old man whose call in life was to warn the public of its dangers, with his glib use of “humanity,” ‘morals,’ ‘government by the people,’ ‘the milk of human kindness,’ and other book-learned properties, is clearly more than his own mouthpiece. At all events, when you have read his commentary on modern life you will have gained the essentials of what this book has to tell you. The roadside philosopher, if you ask him, will give you his opinion, admirably condensed, on most of the outstanding features of the day. He passes under review the whole social structure. At the base, destitution, brutality, degenerate blood; at the head, purblind indifference. The building is neither fair to look upon nor seemingly secure. And you may derive from its contemplation no more consoling reflection than that, bad as it all seems, nobody in particular is to blame. This consolation, such as it is, emerges as you examine more closely the human items of which the fabric is composed. Some, for instance, are simply ‘born tired.’ ‘You can’t do nothing with them; . . . they ain’t up to what's wanted of them nowadays. You can’t blame them, 's far as I can see.” Some, again, live like the beasts; so would you in the same houses. ‘How can you have morals when you’ve got to live like that ? Let alone humanity? You can’t, it stands to reason.” Others you will see taking their pleasures with aimless imbecility because ‘This 'ere modern life it's hollowed of 'em out. People's got so restless. I don’t see how you can prevent it.’ Of those in the clutches of the law he will tell you : “Them fellows come out dead—with their minds squashed out o' them, an’ all done with the best intentions, so they tell me.” As for the rich, the comfortable, the official—‘Well, they’ve got their position and one thing and
another to consider—they’re bound to be cautious; . . . them sort of people they don't mean any 'arm, but they 'aven’t got the mind. You can’t expect it of them, living their lives. . . . I don’t blame them.”
The old man, it will be seen, with his impartial and lenient philosophy, is quite in tune with his time, for modern judgments do not err on the side of harshness. Material penalties still wait on breaches of the law, but, morally speaking, our temptation is to acquit the convicted law-breaker without further inquiry. ‘Your soul, born undersized, was dwarfed by Life to the commission
VOL. XXV.-NO. 147, N.S. 24