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But Chaucer lived a long time ago, and is there-
fore sacred, while Keats is almost of his own time,


so Matthew Arnold whips him with the sad in-
feriority of his tepid temperament. Here we have
"the merely sensuous man," he cries, "the man who
is 'passion's slave.' " He uses the Shakespearean
phrase without any inkling of the fact that Shake-
speare has given a thousand proofs that he was more
enslaved by passion than ever Keats was. Matthew
Arnold, then, allows himself to talk of this letter
as "the love-letter of a surgeon's apprentice." . . .
"It has in its relaxed self-abandonment," he writes,
"something underbred and ignoble, as of a youth
ill-brought up !" No wonder Heine wanted to leave
England in order to get quit of its "gentlemen, and
live with unpretentious fools and rogues."

This snobbish and vicious nonsense does not stand
alone in Matthew Arnold's work, or I should have
striven for pity's sake to forget it. Puritan preju-
dice and English propriety debase and degrade all
Arnold's critical work. He regrets the publication of
Dowden's Life of Shelley: he does not "want the
truth about Shelley's passion," though he assures us
again and again that "truth, the real truth," is what
"the disinterested reader" demands.

Even this disgraceful priggish "underbred" and
"ill-brought up" has its parallel elsewhere. Mat-
thew Arnold writes from Paris that he has come
across a new poet, one Heine, who "apes the bit-
ter scepticism and world-weariness of Byron," but
then Byron is an English lord, and has the right,


Matthew thinks, to feel disgust with ordinary life
— "Byron had the entree everywhere." And so we
find mixed with Puritan prejudice and English
hypocrisy the essential oil, so to speak, of British
snobbery. Nurtured in early Victorian gentility,
Matthew Arnold does not like the word "snob."
Scherer gives Instances of Goethe's extraordinary
"snobbishness" (It is the very perfume of Germanic
vulgarity!), but Matthew Arnold will not have the
word: he calls it "caporalism''' striving fatuously to
disguise the rank odor with a ridiculous neologism.

Matthew Arnold could never have been a great
critic, but he might surely have reached somewhat
the same level as Swinburne had not English Puri-
tanism debased his judgment and destroyed his in-
tellectual honesty.

He condemns Faust as a "seduction drama,"
though he praises Sophocles without measure in
spite of the Greek's parricides and Incest. He takes
poor Burns as mentor, and asserts that passion
"petrifies the feeling," though he himself has writ-

Ere the parting kiss be dry
Quick, thy tablets. Memory !

He cannot even select the great lines in Dante,
the "simple, sensuous, impassioned" lines, but praises
beyond measure such a copy-book headline as

In la tua volimtade e nostra pace.


He Is curiously typical of the English middle-class
in his hatred of simple, sensuous, impassioned poetry
such as Heine's and his ready acceptance of the
rhymed rhetoric and coarse animalism of Byron.
But, after all, he is best seen in his treatment of
Keats and Milton. He condemns Macaulay's Essay
on Milton not alone for "redundance of youthful
enthusiasm," as Mr. Trevelyan condemns it; but
because "the writer has not for his aim to see and
to utter the real truth about his object." He finds
his master, Scherer, declaring with much justice that
"The Paradise Lost" Is "a sort of 'tertiary' forma-
tion, the copy of a copy, wholly factitious ... a
false poem, a grotesque poem, a tiresome poem
. . . but immortal ... it will be read for Incom-
parable lines."

Matthew Arnold knows that the true judgment
on Milton is even severer than Scherer's : he knows
that it is English Puritanism which ruined Milton's
poetry; he even says so once — "they (the Puri-
tans) spoiled him," but he shuts his eyes to the truth.
He is resolved to praise Milton, and he praises
him for "elevation of style," and is not ashamed to
say that his elevation of style is due to "a moral
quahty in him — his pureness." There we have it:
the English Puritan is to be tickled at any cost, even
of truth. For whence comes the "elevation" of
Shakespeare or the elevation of Sophocles or the


elevation of Goethe or of Ecclesiastes or of the
Psalms? Certainly not from "pureness."

Had it not been for his debasing Puritanism Mat-
thew Arnold must have told the truth that Keats,
though handicapped by poverty, illness, and untimely
death, stands higher as a poet than Milton, that he
has shown a nobler spirit, and has left a richer
legacy mainly because he was not degraded by Puri-
tan falsehoods and by the childish Puritan miscon-
ceptions both of God and man.

Poor Matthew Arnold, how heavily handicapped
he was by birth, how ill-brought up! The son of a
schoolmaster-cleric of the strictest sect of British
Pharisee! True, he had an extraordinary endow-
ment; he was gifted with a French mind, French
lucidity of vision, French amiability and urbanity,
and, above all, with something of a Frenchman's
high conscience In all Intellectual and artistic mat-
ters, but, alas, the Bad Fairy condemned the charm-
ing little fellow to be born In an English upper-mid-
dle-class home, and so he was trained painfully to
be a sort of pinchbeck Wordsworth.

It needs, as Arnold himself once said, "a miracle
of genius" like Shakespeare to grow comparatively
straight and high in such an atmosphere.


MY memory almost Invariably connects per-
sons by likeness or by contrast — for exam-
ple, I think of Emerson and Nietzsche together as
opposltes, while Maupassant and Kipling resemble
each other, though the talent of the one Is peculiarly
French and the talent of the other peculiarly Eng-
lish. Both are born story-tellers of the first class,
though characteristically enough the domain of the
Frenchman Is love, whereas the domain of the Eng-
lishman Is war. Both have written masterpieces.
La Maison Tellier and L'Heritage are even finer
than The Maji Who IVould he King or The Drums
of the Fore and Aft. Both men came to Immediate
popularity, which means that both were on the or-
dinary level of thought and feeling, and wrote for
ordinary men and women. The man in the street
in Paris and In London finds himself in Maupassant
and in Kipling; he has the same outlook, the same
vague creed, the same hopes and fears, the same
simple Imperative instinct to achieve his own well-
being and that of his country. Both men might

^Souvenirs sur Guy de Maupassant (1883-1893). By Francois,
his Valet de Chambre. (Plon-Xourrit and Co., Paris.)



have been born three hundred years ago, for neither
has had anything to do with the thought-currents
pecuHar to our time. There is, too, a curious phys-
ical resemblance: de Maupassant, like Kipling, was
short and broad and strong, and so ordinary-looking
that it is difficult to make the reader see him by
means of words. He was a Norman by descent,
lumpy-shouldered, large-limbed; the oval of the
face rather long; features regular; hair dark brown
and thick; eyes greyish-blue. He would have passed
unnoticed, save that he was handsome, in any Euro-
pean crowd. If you studied his looks you could
see no trace of exceptional endowment, save per-
haps something searching in the regard, a certain
sensitiveness in the well-cut lips and in the refine-
ment of small hands. De Maupassant, like Kip-
ling, was healthy, courteous, well-mannered; both
were made social lions; but de Maupassant allowed
himself to be swept away by the current, whereas
Kipling in this respect seems stronger. Both men
got the best out of themselves; but Kipling had the
longer wind, though the Frenchman plunged deeper
into life. De Maupassant, like Kipling, met you
fairly, and, while conscious of his achievements, was
well aware, too, of some, at any rate, of his limita-
tions — in fine, two ordinary healthy men, rather
under than over middle height, gifted with an ex-
traordinary writer's talent. Both men, like Franz
Hals, depicted the life which they saw and lived


with marvellous verisimilitude, making of ordinary
men unforgettable portraits — portraits that live In
the memory like photographs transmuted into pic-
tures by an Incomparable brio of presentment.

This book of de Maupassant's valet ought to
have been a masterpiece, for It deals with the last
ten years of the great writer's brief life; it covers
all his best work and the appalling tragedy which
brought his life and labor to an untimely and hor-
rible end. The valet Francois witnessed the trag-
edy; lived through It, Indeed, from the first scene to
the last; but he saw It and understood It without re-
alizing its universal significance or putting it before
us so that we too must realize It and the lesson of
it. His book, therefore. Is not an unique book —
hardly, indeed, a valuable book. There Is no pro-
portion In It, no sense at all of the relative impor-
tance of events. Hundreds of pages are filled with
trivialities: the furnishing of rooms, journeyings In
France, Algeria, and Tunis, yachting excursions,
dinners, feeble practical jokes and ordinary distrac-
tions, which are interrupted by alarming hints of
recurring Illness always connected In some mysteri-
ous way with the visits of a "dame a la robe gris
perle"; then suddenly comes the confession of de
Maupassant himself, who tells of unstrung, dis-
cordant nerves — and "malaise Indicible." There
follows a casual description of the slow partial re-
covery; then another visit of the lady whom Fran-


qois now calls the "Vampire," and a day or two
later de Maupassant worn to a rag, cuts his throat
in a frenzy, and ends his life in a madhouse — "En-
core un homme au rancart," as he cried himself In
characteristic bitter modern phrase; or as one might
English it — "Another carcass for the dust-heap."

Here is tragedy enough to fill a volume with won-
der and regret and pity; the poor gifted, passionate,
foolish, human being in the toils of necessity, a slave
of his own passion, which to him is inexorable fate:

Who shall contend with his lords.

Or cross them or do them wrong?

Who shall bind them as with cords?
Who shall tame them as with song?
For the hands of their kingdom are strong.

In truth "the hands of their kingdom are strong."
But there is hardly more than a hint of the astound-
ing and awful tragedy in this book, hardly more
than a suggestion anywhere of de Maupassant's
trial as with fire and his utter incredible breakdown.
Frangois appears never to have seen much more than
the outside of his master, and that, as I have said,
was commonplace enough; but de Maupassant's
temperament was abnormal and deserves a careful
and sympathetic study.

In order to give my readers an adequate compre-
hension of de Maupassant's passionate endowment,
or the strength of his temptation, or the horror of


the tragedy, I should have to use plain words, and
that is impossible in any English book. The tragedy
is there, and the lesson flamed out in letters of fire;
but the purblind British Puritans have unanimously
decided that the ostrich policy is the most becoming
and fitting policy for English writers, and we poor
scribes are forced to bow to their infallible dicta-
tion. "Little Mary" we may write about, it ap-
pears, and "our obligations to our betters," and
"our duties in that state of life into which it has
pleased God to call us"; but the great human prob-
lems are not to be discussed by us; truth holds no
sanctuary for us, but for the free peoples and their
teachers, for the Sudermanns and Brieux and
Artzibacheffs and d'Annunzios, but not for the
Grundy-ridden descendants of Shakespeare and

But to return to my text. If Francois the valet
has shown himself unable to depict his brilliant mas-
ter, if he has not attempted to rise to the height of
the great argument and justify the ways of God to
men, he has incidentally painted himself as the very
model of a wise and kindly valet, as a very honest,
humble, reverent, human soul, and has besides re-
produced de Maupassant's daily life for us, and
given us little sketches of de Maupassant's mother
and some of his friends which are immediately
recognizable. This leads me to fear that because 1
knew de Maupassant intimately I am inclined to be


a little unjust to this book, which does after all per-
haps in a degree make up for the want of personal
knowledge, and does supply some of those little
personal peculiarities which bring the man before us
in his habit as he lived. Moreover, there are in
this book a few pages of high interest in which
de Maupassant reveals himself, or at least his mind,
to us at its best. I make no apology for transcrib-
ing those which I regard as worthful and charac-

I was introduced to de Maupassant by Blanche
Macchetta, an exceedingly fair American with mag-
nificent red hair, who figures in the first pages of
this book as "the author of several novels" and "as
intelligent as she was beautiful." We dined to-
gether, and de Maupassant took away my breath by
declaring that he hated writing and only whipped
himself to the work by thoughts of the money he
would make and the pleasant yachting trips which
the money would buy for him : Pegasus only valu-
able as a grocer's nag. To Francois he confesses
that this is not the whole truth, not even the best
part of the truth, "There are in France some fifty
thousand young men of good birth and fairly well
off," he says, "who are encouraged to live a life of
complete Idleness. They must either cease to exist
or must come to see that there can be no happiness,
no health even, without regular daily labor of some
sort. . . . The need of work is in me," he con-


eludes. "As soon as I have finished all the novels
and short stories I have in my head I shall write a
sort of general analysis of my works, and then I'll
review all the great writers whom I think I have
understood. That would be an easy piece of work
for me and of great interest to younger writers.
Besides, it would delight me to reread again all the
masters who have afforded me intellectual enjoy-

As everyone knows, he admired Flaubert more
than any modern writer; he used to speak of him
as his spiritual father, and insisted that after
France had passed through a dozen revolutions and
had forgotten all the other writers of the time, Flau-
bert would be studied as a classic, as one "who
had lent French prose divine grace and harmony."

De Maupassant's praise of other writers was
often astonishingly generous. Already, in '88, he
talked of Bourget as a master, and of Zola as "a
great writer ... a considerable literary value,"
though he could not help adding, with characteristic
frankness, "personally, I don't like the man." He
did not like his work either; indeed Zola's method
of work was the absolute antithesis to his own, and
If we consider the two ways we shall find that de
Maupassant's method was right, and Zola's wrong.
Here is the comparison as recorded by Francois.
First of all, de Maupassant admits that "Zola is a
relentless workman, wiUing to undergo any labor.


He's now thinking of writing a novel on every dif-
ferent class of laborer. But a man of real talent
oughtn't to do that sort of thing. He should only
write what he has felt, what he has seen and under-
stood. I'd go even further and say he should only
write of what he loves and of what he hates, of
what he has lived, suffered and enjoyed. I'm not
tempted to imitate Zola." It was well for him that
he saw so truly, felt so justly. There are books of
Zola which are mere rubbish-heaps of industry,
whereas every volume of de Maupassant is worth

De Maupassant sometimes forgot his own pre-
cepts. His little story, "Les Deux Amis," made a
painful impression on me. It tells of how two mid-
dle-aged bourgeois in Paris during the siege of '71
went out on a fishing expedition in the Seine heedless
of the fact that they were beyond their own lines.
They were seized by a small German detachment;
the officer tried to wring a valuable secret from them
and when they refused to betray their compatriots
they were put against a wall and summarily shot as
spies. And, with the two bodies there before him,
the German officer tells his servant to take the catch
of fish and cook it for his dejeuner. It Is a brutal
touch ; the pathos of the story being due to the fact
that the two Frenchmen are quite helpless and harm-
less. De Maupassant, I found, had no facts to go on
for this malevolent fiction; a sorry performance, just


as base In its way as Kipling's similar attack on the
Russians for having tortured and flogged a British
officer who had fallen into their hands. Both men
seemingly delighted to spread hate by senseless

Before leaving this book I must give some idea of
de Maupassant's religious beliefs, for, after all, it
is from what a man believes about this life and the
life beyond the grave that we get his truest measure.
He did not talk freely on such matters, even to his
intimates. The death of his brother, however, and
a visit to his tomb, stirred him to speech, and the
account of these hesitating and partial confessions
are the most interesting pages in the book. De Mau-
passant was particularly self-centred and inaccessi-
ble to strangers; but his family affections and his
rare friendships were intensely passionate and ten-
der. His mother was an ideal to him, and he
mourned his brother as one who would not be com-
forted. "I saw him die," he says. "According to
the doctors, he should have died the day before; but
he was waiting for me and would not go without see-
ing me once more and saying 'good-bye' to me again.
'Adieu . . . Au revoir peut-etre? . . . Qui sait?' "

And then this word about Jesus. Pointing to the
great figure of the Christ outside the cemetery, de
Maupassant said:

"Surely the finest intelligence and the most per-
fect nature ever seen on earth when one thinks of


all He did! And He was only thirty-three when
they crucified Him! . . . Napoleon I, whom I ad-
mire, though only for his genius, said of Him: 'In.
all that that Man did — God or not — there Is some-
thing mysterious, incomprehensible. . . .' "

Yesterday I went out to "Les Ravenelles," his
mother's villa in Nice. It is set on a little height
behind the Rue de France, and here de Maupassant
spent that ist of January, 1892, his last day on
earth as a man among men. The "Vampire" in
grey silk had just paid him another visit and had
left him drained of strength and hope, exhausted,
enerved, panting. In spite of his indescribable
wretchedness and misery, that "malaise indicible,"
he would not alarm his mother by his absence on
such a day; but dragged himself over from Cannes,
and gave her whom he loved so tenderly the illu-
sion at least that he was getting better. The effort
cost him more than life. He returned to Cannes
by train, and at two the next morning Frangois heard
him ringing and hurried to his bedside, only to find
him streaming in blood and out of his mind, crying —
An rancart! an rancart!

Today I went through the little, low, two-storied
villa, and sat where he had sat, and walked where
he had walked. Here, on this raised, half-moon
terrace, on that bright, clear day, with the sunshine
sparkling over there on the red roofs and the blue
sea he had always taken such pleasure in; here he


stood, another Antony, and fought a more terrible
fight than the Roman ever imagined. I had seen
him a month before, and had had a long, intimate
talk with him which cannot be set down in these
pages; but it enables me to picture him as he was
on that fatal morning. He had taken Francois with
him to cook his food; he meant to give himself
every chance of winning in the fight, and now, the
meal over, the strain of talking and pretending grew
intolerable, and he came out here by himself, with
only the blue, unheeding sky above and the purple,
dancing sea in front to mock his agony.

How desperately he struggled for control; now
answering some casual remark of his friends, now
breaking out into cold sweat of dread as he felt the
rudder slipping from his hand; called back to sanity
again by some laughing remark, or some blessed
sound of ordinary life, and then, again, swept off
his feet by the icy flood of sliding memory and
dreadful thronging imaginings, with the awful
knowledge behind knocking at his consciousness that
he was already mad, mad — never to be sane again,
mad — that the awful despairing effort to hold on to
the slippery rock and not to slide down Into the
depths was all in vain, that he was slipping, slip-
ping in spite of himself, in spite of bleeding fingers,
falling — falling. . . .

Hell has no such horror! There in that torture
chamber — did his agony last but a minute — he paid


all debts, poor, hounded, hunted creature with wild
beseeching eyes, choking in the grip of the foulest
spectre that besets humanity. . . . And all for
what? For another mad hour with the "bourgeoise
de plus grand chic . . . d'une beaute remarquable,"
all for another kiss from the stylish lady of really
remarkable beauty, "to whom he was always glad
to say 'good-bye.' "

The worship of the great goddess Aselgeia is
sweet indeed, honey to the lips; but the price she
exacts from her devotees is appalling. How many
of them I have known, and how brilliant they were:
her victims are taken from the most gifted of the
sons of men. Heine fell to her and Maupassant
and scores of others whom for pity's sake one does
not name — young and gifted and lovable. As the
clown says in Twelfth Night:

Pleasure will be paid some time or other.


NOWHERE is the growth of mankind so
clearly to be seen as in their ideals. Before
beginning one of his famous portraits, Plutarch
tells his readers that on this occasion he is not going
to talk to them of some famous general or states-
man who should excite emulation in well-born
youths ; but of a painter whose example no gentleman
would think of following, a mere artist. Nearly
twenty centuries later Bacon puts forth much the
same view: In classifying men he gives the first five
or six ranks to statesmen, and artists are not even
mentioned as among the great. But today we
should put saints and prophets and artists high
above generals and statesmen; indeed we esteem
artistic power as the highest and rarest of human
endowments and say that a general can only be great
in so far as he wins his battles like an artist, that
no saint can hold us, no prophet inspire, unless he,
too, is gifted with the artist-faculty. And of all
artists the greatest is he who works in words.

Goethe says somewhere that Tacitus and his
history are as valuable as Rome, that all Eng-
land and English worth found expression in



Shakespeare, in fact that the dream of life itself is
not so memorable as the telling. The workman
and the merchant, the lawyer and doctor, the man
of science, the soldier and the priest all live and
labor as material for the Singer. Nothing endures
like the word: "it liveth and it conquereth for ever-

It is not wonderful then that men should be
curious about the poets and artists of their own
time. They will take more and more interest in
them, and not less, as they advance in wisdom. I
need no excuse, therefore, for talking here of Ver-
laine, for he, too, was one of "the Sacred Band."

Paul Verlaine did not look like one's ideal of a
poet: he is best to be seen in Rothenstein's pencil
sketch; his likeness to Socrates was extraordinary.
One could have sworn that the old Silenus-mask
was come to life again in him. But Verlaine had
not the figure of the great fighter: though of aver-
age height he was punily made and inclined to be
podgy. With his careless, slovenly dress he would
have passed unremarked in any street crowd, French
or English. He seemed, indeed, to wish to avoid
notice : there was something timid and shy, a shrink-
ing even, in his manner, due to constitutional ner-
vousness rather than to reserve. With friends Ver-
laine gave himself as freely and simply In talk as

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