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point of crime'—so Mr. Galsworthy, with orthodox polite evasion, addresses his criminal in one of the two chapters on prison life which epitomise much popular sentiment on the subject. So far we are all agreed; but the doctrine of irresponsibility is easier to accept than to put in practice, and most of us are accustomed to handle it gingerly, and apply strictly in accordance with our preconceived notions of what should be, as some republican nations, it is said, apply the principle of social equality. To Mr. Galsworthy belongs the credit of following out his theory regardless of consequences. Having accepted without reserve the non-responsibility of the convict, he perceives clearly that the matter cannot rest there. If one mortal, through no will of his own, is born in squalor ruinous to his nature, so is another to enervating comfort; and the child of luxury, it may be, is vitiated the more surely because the poison of his life is sweet. Mr. Galsworthy, when he turns to examine the outwardly more favoured victims of chance, shows himself almost “too severe a moraler.” Playthings, ornament, and idle laughter are as illegitimate in his world as the criminal at large in the world ruled by judge and prison warders. There is a strain of belated Calvinism in his conviction that the exquisite woman of the world, apostrophised in Chapter VI., was created to no good purpose. “The doll of Nature l’ he cries, in accents of pain softened by no trace of pleasure. If burning, as well as pretty clothes, were still in fashion, she would be the very stuff to burn. But, for all that, you are not to blame her. This is where she touches the far-away convict in gaol and awakes our interest. The apparent distance is bridged in a single phrase. Circumstance, which fashioned the convict into a thing dumb, atrophied in mind and body, has been no less cruel to the child of fashion. Blind she is, ‘in heart and soul and voice and walk, the blindest creature in the world, . . . the long result of forces working in dim, inexorable progress from the remotest time.’ And to her, as to the convict, and even mor, freely, the author grants absolution, repeating with all the emphasis of plain English and italics, “You have never had a chance.” These two, the criminal and the woman of fashion, represent. as it were, the eternal snows of unblamableness, and beneath them range infinitely varying levels of irresponsibility. There. for instance, stretches the great tableland whose inhabitants are comprised under the word “comfort.” Moderate people, moderately rich, moderately virtuous, immoderately comfortable. In all ages the consolation of governments, the despair of the social reformer, and the target, more or less unconscious, of his arrows of sarcasm. How to make a mark on surfaces so smooth and polished that your missiles rebound, inflicting no smallest scratch, unless it be on the thrower, less perfectly protected by nature ? The problem is tempting precisely because so hard of solution. Mr. Galsworthy, like other social reformers, has his infallible remedy, and we have the privilege of seeing it tested on a typical husband and wife who spend prosperous days in their comfortable, self-contained flat, lifted high above the untranquil street. These people were not in quite so poor a case as the Doll of Nature who never had a chance. Certainly they had their chance of salvation that evening when Fate, to give it no higher name, led them gently to a pair of comfortable stalls, whence, all unsuspecting the benevolent influences about them, they became the unwilling spectators of an “uncomfortable play. The admirable invention 1 A cunning trap for the worldly, of which John Knox himself might have been proud. But, alas ! invented all in vain. Some momentary disturbance there is, as of a pebble cast into a sheltered pool, then the waters of comfort close in again and smooth out the troubled place as if it had never been. And are we not to blame these, seeing they had their chance and threw it away ? Well, no. It is true they were not wholly blind; they could if they had chosen have seen—just a little; but a deep instinct, “for which Nature was responsible,” made them feel that it was better not to see, and so— You perceive how inexorably the rule works. The real culprit stands always round the corner. This time it is Nature, and since Nature cannot be blamed, what is there left to a prophet but to shake his head mournfully and utter plaintive regrets: “If only they could know what is good for them—where Wisdom lies 1 If only they would go regularly to see “uncomfortable" plays l’ Sometimes as the author continues his patient investigation of human stupidities and wrongs, arriving always at the same absolving conclusion, you are aware of a dim conflict proceeding behind the scenes, as if the prophet's fire protested against some dampingdown process. Certain classes and persons—holders of place and power, men of precise habit, busy men, matter-of-fact men, and all who own good digestions and imperturbable tempers—rouse his most secret antipathies, and against them he restrains himself with difficulty and only in obedience to the necessities of his creed. “My instinct is to burn you, but reason tells me you are not to blame. However despicable, useless, or harmful you appear, it is not your fault. The cause lies far behind you, embodied in vague forms which must be respectfully alluded to under the names of Life, Force, Nature, Circumstance, System, in all the dignity of capital letters, whilst man, as befits his subordinate and ineffectual existence, is written in small.”
There is no need to enquire whether the assumptions underlying this work are endorsed by common experience. We have only to note how well—granting the premises—the inevitable results have been indicated. The scene, rigid, airless, and innocent of perspective as a Chinese landscape, is filled with mechanical figures of men and women who arrange themselves obediently in the conventional lines of some old immutable pattern. And if one asks by what force or motive power the vast machinery of life progresses, or even maintains its place, you have to reply that there is no visible sign that the machine moves at all. You find yourself in a world at standstill, water-logged, rolling stupidly in the trough, and as you gaze across the dull waste of surrounding waters you discern a distant beacon whose pallid beams are constant rather than illuminating, and whose name, which you recognise to be appropriate, is ‘Courage without Hope.”
With these, its last words, we take leave of our author's Commentary on Modern Life. Regarded as such, some may complain that the selections from the text are arbitrary and insufficient and the interpretation academic. But as a commentary on a particular attitude towards life we shall find it an honest and therefore a suggestive and valuable, though, it must be added, a depressing document. For perhaps, rightly considered, there can be no spectacle more forlorn than that of a race of men at once blameless and without hope.
THE thirty-seven years that have gone by since the twentieth of September 1870, when, by the issue of the skirmish at the Porta Pia, Rome became the capital of Italy, have brought with them changes which can only be fully felt by those who knew Rome well in papal days and who know it well now. The change which has taken place has no analogy with that which has by the steady march of modern invention and modern improvement—I use the word without prejudice—made such a city as London of to-day a very different London from that of the 'sixties. Rome of the 'sixties was still essentially a survival of the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries, very little encroached upon by the modern spirit. There were many towns in Italy which had retained the outward features of even the earliest of those centuries far more completely—Perugia, San Gemignano, Siena, for example; but the form of government and the social conditions which had made them what they were had long ago departed from them. From Rome they had not so vanished. There still hung about it the flavour of past days, past forms of government, past methods of thought, and past customs which made it unique amongst the important towns of Europe. It was inevitable that these should give way before the needs of a great modern capital. It is safe to say that the last thirty-seven years have more changed the face of Rome than the previous three centuries had done. And yet there were living in Rome even at the end of the papal period plenty of old habitués who told one that the glory of Rome had in their own day departed from it, and that the march of modern invention, the railroad and gas, had already vulgarised the place beyond recognition. Be that as it may, the change from Rome of the Popes to Rome of United Italy has inevitably been such as has had no exact parallel in any other case—a town in itself unique called upon to face a change of circumstance which is also unique in history. If I am asked whether I would rather live in Rome of that day or Rome of this, I unhesitatingly give the preference to Rome as I knew her first. This I hope is not at all the same thing as condemning the present condition of things, or as depreciating the recent development of the city. For if I were again asked to make choice amongst all the capitals of Europe as a place to livein, even to-day I should name Rome as the town which combined the greatest number of human interests with quite sufficient machinery for a well-ordered and comfortable life. The fascination of old Rome was bound up to a great extent with a condition of things which went hand-in-hand with the absence of these very machineries. In all probability, even if Rome had not become Italian, many or most of these machineries must have forced their way in before now; but it was inevitable that, from whatever source they came, the ancient city should, in their entry, lose some of its character and of its special flavour. Rome in the 'sixties had a population, roughly speaking, of about 215,000 souls; to-day it holds nearly 500,000. If a map of the city at that date is laid beside a map of to-day, it is easy to see at what points the increase of building has taken place to accommodate the inhabitants. The older map shows unoccupied ground in the outlying portions of the Pincian, Quirinal, Viminal, Esquiline, and Celian Hills forming an irregular triangular space with many projections, which lay between the Aurelian Wall and the inhabited quarters in a band whose breadth varied from a quarter of a mile to a mile and a half on the east and south. Further to south and west lay another triangle bordered westwards by the Tiber, which included the Aventine and the void spaces around Monte Testaccio and the Protestant cemetery. By eye measurement these combined tracts of open space, chiefly vineyard and garden, intersected by roads and lanes running between high walls, amounted to one half of the entire area of the city within the walls. And it may be said that in the 'sixties this uninhabited portion of the city—the phrase must not be taken too literally—presented much the same appearance which it had presented for at least twelve hundred years. That is to say, that it had never been populated since the days of Totila. So far back as 1447 Pope Nicholas V. had tried to encourage settlement on the Viminal and Esquiline by promises of complete immunity from taxes. But then, and in the succeeding centuries, the tendency of the population to mass itself on the northern and north-western corners of the city proved irresistible. The Aventine and the district near Testaccio in like manner remained unoccupied all down the centuries, save by a few scattered monasteries. The district has always laboured under a deadly reputation for malaria. Pope Honorius IV.