Page images

do not. Of the latter was Boccaccio. In Italy, at that very time, Petrarch was employing his genius writing love poems of a most delicate and refined nature, and Dante, the greatest idealist in this respect that ever lived, was alive when Boccaccio was a boy. Boccaccio himself lectured on Dante. Mr. Symonds admits that Boccaccio could not understand Dante's sentiment for Beatrice. He puts it thus: "Between Boccaccio and the enthusiasms of the Middle Ages a ninefold Styx already rolled its waves." But the difficulty with this apology is that this ninefold Styx shows an infernal ingenuity in rolling around Boccaccio alone. Read Petrarch's tenth sonnet:

"I' benedico il loco e'l tempo e l'ora

Che si alto miraron gli occhi miei."

Petrarch's "Italia Mia and Leopardi's "O Patria Mia," and that the book even then had a profoundly tragic element. Europe in Did you find Europe old? Good Repair. Then thank your good angel that led you blindfolded through a land sprinkled with guidebooks and vergers, overrun by tourists, and given over to the amenities of travel.

Cologne cathedral was my first recognized disappointment. We reached it by way of Antwerp and Aix la Chapelle. Rubens's florid tomb and Charlemagne's uncomfortable coronation chair had, it is true, made me vaguely uneasy. But it was not until I saw Cologne cathedral that I knew to a certainty that I was disappointed. There it stood in all its beauty, immaculate, spick-span; as if it had been built seven years ago instead of seven hundred. My companion gazed upon it, wrapped in admiration. She, fortunate soul, could bear corroborative witness to the guidebook's testimony: "It justly excites the admiration of every beholder." She called my lagging attention to its rare beauty and finish. Finish - yes, "finished in 1880." Beauty- What went we out for to see? Fine buildings? Nay, we had traveled thousands of miles that we might come in touch with the old, the historic, and here I stood before an advertised antiquity and felt no re

Yet it is not merely the denial of the value of idealizing the love of woman, as to which there may be an honest disagreement, but the lack of all interest in anything that vitally concerns human society, that confounds the reader: no loyalty, no honor, no generosity, no sympathy, no courage, no fortitude, no recklessness of consequence, nothing male in the whole book. Boccaccio left these things out because he wished to interest, and did not think them interesting. Nothing is fit to his hand except the meetings of one blackguard with another of the opposite sex. "Spitzbübin war sie, er war ein Dieb," is sponsive thrill, — I, who at home worshiped true of all his heroes and heroines.

[blocks in formation]

Boccaccio's contemporary, Chaucer, tells his tales, he roams up and down through the emotions. This limitation of the Decameron strikes the reader into a melancholy, in spite of its beautiful framework, its merriment and its variety. He perceives that even the memory of ancient Rome is gone from Italy, and in its stead has come that intelligent and rational epicureanism which, as Mr. Kidd tells us so vivaciously, must inevitably bring national degradation in its train. We cannot but believe that some of Boccaccio's original readers foresaw the five hundred years of servitude between

the past, haunted old cemeteries and bought only old furniture! Nor was the inside much better. We had happened in Cologne on a feast day. We stood and watched the procession of priests move slowly up the broad aisle. They were round of head, round of person, and solid of foot, not a suggestion of the tonsured monk of the Middle Ages. If those early monks were of the earth, earthy, we to-day feel it not. They are long since dust and ashes, and by a sort of homœopathic process have become canonized in our imaginations. But these modern priests, they are yet in the body. Led by an assiduous attendant, we visited the choir chapel, climbed to the choir gallery, and even to the top of the tower. Not so much as a thrill to reward our tired legs. It was all shockingly new and surpassingly beautiful.

It may be that this first disappointment affected all my subsequent impressions of Europe. For I looked and hungered in

vain for the glory of the past. There is no past in Europe. It is all distressingly up to date. The ruins are all in an excellent state of preservation, thanks to the constant and watchful care bestowed on them. I gazed upon the bullet holes that mark the place where William the Silent met his fate. I tried to be impressed by their age, by the tragedy they commemorated. All in vain. I could only look upon them as well-preserved bullet holes, hold my peace, and wonder what William the Silent would have thought. Even Heidelberg Castle, with its promenades and bands and guides, is a sort of historic beer garden.

It is the tourist that has spoiled Europe. First and foremost, he is everywhere, marring the picturesque market-place by his presence, robbing it of its local color, and having too little individuality to replace it by anything of his own. And secondly, his influence is constantly seen in the eager attempts made to satisfy his curiosity. Everywhere and in everything is manifest a pathetic, thrifty provision to catch his eye and his dollars. Ruins are labeled-nay, even restored for his benefit. Guides are constantly at hand. All Europe is one continuous show.

If the enterprise stopped at ruins, one might endure it, harrowing though it is. But even nature is not safe from the rejuvenating hand. “As old as the hills," we say. Alas, not in Switzerland. Each peak

and crevasse is ticketed and advertised, nor could I escape the impression, during my stay there, that the cheerful bugler, whose notes every morning woke the hotel in time for the advertised sunrise, had carefully dusted each shining peak before summoning us to the spectacle. A long-handled feather duster hovered dimly in my imagination. And I felt, when I dropped the customary coin into his customary palm at the hotel door, that I paid for both waking and dusting. Then I would take my misty way to the top of the kulm; and lo, out of the shrouding mists, tables and booths would shape themselves to my sleepy vision, -tables laden with colored photographs and carved salad-forks and stick-pins. And I would turn my back upon them, and watch for the "red eye" of dawn to appear, just as the guidebook describes it, with a vague feeling that each individual

salad-fork and stick-pin was imbedded in my spinal column.

No, it is only by chance and rare good fortune that one finds the old in Europe. Some little out-of-the-way place has escaped the all-seeing Baedeker eye. You come upon it by accident, and suddenly you feel yourself in the presence of the old, the venerable. The town may not boast even one ruin, but it has the atmosphere of antiquity. It grins down at you from grotesque gargoyles; it reaches out to you in curiously wrought door - handles; it smiles from quaintly colored rural pictures upon some burgher's house; it clatters in sabots over the cobbled streets and you yield yourself to it and breathe deep. It is genuine antiquity; there is no mistaking the flavor.

One View of the "New Woman."


It is the same feeling that has swept over you hundreds of times in sleepy New England towns where Time has had his way. You are reminded, perhaps, of Old Hadley cemetery, where one long Indian-summer afternoon you drifted with the hours, and the peace of the past came upon you, and baffling mysteries, gliding from their soft haze, touched you familiarly and said, “Lo, you too are one of us; and we are of the Present and the Future and the Past." In that most "gruesome" and most uncomfortable story, full of "the horror and darkness of shadow and sin and death," Mr. Marion Crawford's Casa Braccio, we come occasionally upon some keen and subtle general reflection that seems worth preserving. The other day I picked up in one of its pages this little nugget: "She had that rarest quality in women which commands men without inspiring love. It is very hard to explain what that quality is, but most men who have lived much and seen much have met with it at least once in their lives. A hundred women may rebuke a man for something he has done, and he will smile at the reproach. Another will say to him the same words, and he will be gravely silent, and will feel that she is right, and will like her better for it ever afterwards. And she is not, as a rule, the woman whom such men would love." All this seems to me to contain a fine truth that has never been very generally recognized or pointed out. I am certainly myself acquainted with several wo

men possessing this power, noble natures, who, "without inspiring love" (indeed, at least two of them never married), have yet, to a remarkable degree, influenced and guided, and up to a certain point moulded the lives and actions of more than one man with whom they came into close contact. But I do not agree with Mr. Crawford that "it is very hard to explain what that quality is;" on the contrary, the solution of that mystery seems to me very easy. The quality, or rather combination of qualities, from which that power emanates that " commands men" is simply character. And by character, I here mean all those tendencies that make for truthfulness, sincerity, loyalty, courage, honesty, and a fine sense of honor, in a wider interpretation of that noble word. Not the honor which a woman alone is supposed to be able to lose, but that other "gem" which manifests itself in steadfastly keeping a promise made, redeeming a given word, discharging a debt incurred, of whatever kind, the honor that will make us brave enough to come forward without flinching, to face and meet disagreeable things, even though we know they will hurt our vanity or pleasant opinion of ourselves; indeed, in all and every possible way to live up to our own best convictions and ideal standards. To sum it all up in one comprehensive term, I might call it that perfect rectitude of nature, more commonly supposed to be the attribute of man than of woman, but which, when it is found in a woman, almost appears to be worth something more, to be lifted to a still higher plane, touched and consecrated, as it were, with a more subtle and beautiful light by the ewig weibliche in her, the generally finer texture of the woman's whole mental fibre, and thus comes to be all the more potent for good. For as she is so universally esteemed the "weaker vessel," fickleness, untruthfulness, cunning, deceit, and dissembling have been almost looked upon as a woman's privilege, her natural weapons of defense, against man's overwhelming physical force. I have read somewhere of late, "The strong force of Lady was her sex weak, untruthful, cowardly, and malicious, she was still no more than woman may be." This, of course, is a bitter, satirical fling, yet I must confess not wholly undeserved; for it is but too true that somehow the unwritten laws of honor (in my definition of the word)

do not seem to be equally understood and accepted by both sexes. I may illustrate just what I mean by a more good-natured passage from another book, and ought perhaps to premise that the words are spoken by a man, and that "what she did "was, in this case, deliberately to conceal, though not destroy, a will, by the simple non-appearance of which she came into a fortune : "The difference between masculine and feminine character is immense. No man with a grain of honor in him would have done what she did; only some dastardly hound, who could cheat at cards. And she, - somehow she seems a pure, good woman in spite of it." She had coveted the fortune very largely for the purpose of procuring more comforts and a life free from anxiety for her sick mother; for, you see, she was a "good girl." Only, what an argument! It seems to me every woman ought to resent this, to protest against the pernicious as well as insulting assumption that there can be anything but one code of honor, that binds equally every man, woman, and child on the face of the earth! Of course, not all men live up to that code. What an ideal place this world would be if they did! Indeed, the very individuals most influenced by some woman who " commands" them, without inspiring love, are probably, whether conscious of it or not, themselves most deficient, or at least most weak and vacillating, in those qualities that lend power to the woman. Mr. Crawford's concluding words are entirely true, "And she is not, as a rule, the woman whom such men would love;" but we might add, The worse for him! for in all probability she is the very helpmate his life most sorely needs. But the point I make is, that the general standard of women in such matters is not as high as that of men. And here it is where the real " new woman " and her true mission should begin : not by attempting to ape and imitate in outward things, in all ways most distasteful, revolting, and absurd, the one creature of earth whom at the same time, by an affectation more utterly absurd still, if that were possible, she pretends to look down upon and despise, man, unfortunate, inferior man ! But let women impress upon their girls as well as their boys, by every precept as well as by the force of their own example, the importance, the priceless value, of truthfulness

and loyalty and honor, the eternal obligations laid upon them by those splendid old words noblesse oblige, and see how quickly they, as well as their daughters after them, will rise to the coveted plane of perfect equality with man in all ethical regions, as woman is already undoubtedly his superior in a certain more restricted sense of the word "moral." Just now, the "new woman" is the laughing-stock of the world, a kind of hybrid, not belonging entirely to either one sex or the other, a grotesque and ridiculous "sport" on the great tree of humanity. But if the new woman will only, instead of wearing his outer garments and smoking his cigarettes and playing his athletic games," be a man in honor," not alone this, but also every coming generation “ will rise up and call her blessed."

The Good OldFashioned Hand-Shake.

Is it really a thing of the past? Will it some time be as obsolete as the curtsy with which our grandmothers greeted the beaux of their day, or the kiss that the gallant impressed on the fragile hand that he raised so respectfully to his lips? Or-what is perhaps a better comparison, since these gracious customs rose from over-refinement, while the cordial, whole-souled hand-shake has been a thing of the heart — will it some day find itself as out of fashion as the kiss with which our mothers greeted each other, square on the mouth, direct, and often resounding? Who was the first woman who was brave enough to slide her cheek coyly and coldly into the track of the approaching lips? It could not have been Eve, for there was no other woman to kiss, except possibly Lilith, and the relations there were somewhat strained, even for kissing. But somewhere, some time, there was a first woman who thus met the proffered kiss, and somewhere was a first woman who was thus repulsed, and whose soul froze into righteous determination to try the same thing on the next woman she met and thus was sealed the fate of the kiss on the mouth. We understand that the custom

still persists to a certain extent among lovers, but we have fears that even there it will not long survive. Think of the offense against the laws of hygiene! What fell microbes of disease may not flit between them in the kiss that plights their vows!

No, the good old-fashioned kiss has gone; the good old-fashioned hand-shake is going, even while I write may be gone. It is still occasionally met with. Your country cousin comes to town. She does not understand the artistic crook of interrogation in which your hand attempts to approach hers. She grasps the curving fingers and straightens them in a loving squeeze. You sigh, and fancy that the art was lost upon her? Not at all. Wait until she reaches home. See her at the next church "sociable;" note the condescending curve of her small figure as it bends in greeting; observe the digital hook with which she draws in each unwary and disconcerted comer. And so the evil communication spreads until the whole country has felt its devastating touch.

Some people are bound to suffer more than others from this social change. Be merciful unto them, ye powers that be. The man who for long years has laid his fishlike fingers confidingly in yours has come upon an evil day. His torpid sensibilities are doomed to daily shocks. Be gentle with him. Woo him, win him, out of his limp straightness in that first difficult curve, doubly difficult for him. And the whole-hearted, cordial, pumplike man is destined to meet many a setback before it dawns on his stupid, blundering soul that something is wrong. To him a hand-shake is a hand-shake. He will be slow to understand these fine distinctions between the old and the new; to comprehend that the old hand-shake was "physical " in its nature; that the new one, given as it is from the level of the heart, is "soulful, spiritual.” Bear with him. He will comprehend in time. In time we shall all comprehend and acquiesce, and the good old fashion will be no more.


A Magazine of Literature, Science, Art, and Politics.



SINCE the settlement of this country, we have received nearly, if not quite four million immigrants from Ireland, a number about two thirds as large as that of the present population of Ireland. To understand what part these people have played in American life, it is necessary to inquire what were their antecedents and what was their national character.

In the first place, our immigrants have been the most Irish of the Irish. They have come mainly from the western counties, from Clare, Kerry, Leitrim, Galway, and Sligo; and these are the counties in which the inhabitants are most nearly of Celtic descent. It is a matter of dispute among historians how far the peculiarities of the Irish race are due to the Celtic blood that is in them, but at all events these peculiarities have come to be associated with the Celtic race and are called by that name. A Celt is notoriously a passionate, impulsive, kindly, unreflecting, brave, nimble - witted man; but he lacks the solidity, the balance, the judgment, the moral staying power of the Anglo-Saxon. The Celts, so far as their history is known, have been as unsuccessful in war as they have been brave in battle. Their history is a history of defeat. "They went forth to war, but they always fell." Intellectually, the Celt is fundamentally different from the Anglo-Saxon. He proceeds by intuition rather than by inference, and he is usually unable to state the process by which he has reached a

given conclusion in such a way as to be convincing or even comprehensible to an Anglo-Saxon antagonist. I was present once at a long discussion between the most brilliant Irishman whom I ever knew and an American of great talent. After it had come to an impotent conclusion, one of the disputants declared, "It is useless for us to discuss, for we really cannot understand each other: " and that was the truth. It was this fundamental difference that a great English writer had in mind when he said, after a residence of some length in Ireland, "It becomes more clear to me every day that, in their ways of thinking, in their ideals and mental habits, these people are as different from us as if they belonged to a different world."

Mr. Arnold, in his acute essay upon Celtic literature, says that if we are to characterize the Celtic nature by a single word, "sentimental" is the word that we should choose; and, adopting the happy phrase of a French writer, he speaks of "the Celts, with their vehement reaction against the despotism of fact." It is this inability to see facts as they are, to realize their consequences and to submit to them, which more than anything else has impaired the efficiency of the Celtic race. instance, to attempt, as the Fenians did, the conquest of England by throwing a handful of soldiers across the line between Canada and the United States was a signal example of "reaction against the despotism of fact." But Mr. Arnold


« PreviousContinue »