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"Then it behoves us both to be quick with it."
Twilight was coming on. They might not now wait for the night. Hastily they made their rude funeral preparations. Job tore a broad plank from the side of a rough penthouse which leant against the back of the cottage; that was the bier. They laid the dead man on it, first putting a white cloth over his face to hide that awful simulation of life which the glassy eyes gave it. By his side they placed his claymore. The man and the boy staggered under the terrible burden, but it was no time to give way. As they bore it forth, the moor gently rising before them looked black already against the woolly sky. It was but a journey of a short two furlongs, and Roland's memory kept no record of it save the contradictory impression of a heavy blank. Job had dug that second grave only a few yards from the spot where the dead man had lain and secretly bled. It was behind a slight hump, enough to screen them on the Langsett side and give lodgment to a considerable snowdrift. That narrow shallow trench, banked round by freshly upturned black frozen clods, made a sorry blot on the pure white. They lowered the corpse with an awestricken clumsiness, trembling both of them. Job drew Roland a few yards aside, as though he might be overheard, and whispered hoarsely in his ear:
'Tis a fearsome thing to lay honds to t' mon yo've killed."
He broke off a twig of heather, returned to the grave and dropped it in. "I did t' same by Mary," he said. "They say 'at rosemary if yo can come by't is best for to mak t' sperrit rest. But they dunnot say 'at rosemary ull bring 'em back."
Then he took the spade and began hastily to shovel the earth in. There was craft in his method; he busily heaped earth upon the feet but carefully
left the head uncovered. When the filling-in rose so high that it began to appear out of the gloom of the trench, he pushed the spade into Roland's hand, saying:
"Mak a finish o't' wark whilst I rest mysel."
Roland took a timid spadeful and looked down. At the bottom of the dark hole he saw a little glimmer of white. It was from the cloth that covered the face, but it seemed like the face itself looking up. He felt the same horror as if his spadeful had been meant to choke the breath in living nostrils. He let the spade empty itself into the snow.
"I can't anyhow do it," he said. "We hanna no time to stand," said Job. "Gie't to me." He took the spade from Roland and shuddered. “A shoolful o' black earth is a faw kuss' on a mon's mouth." He shut his eyes. "Now tak me by t' hond an' turn me about."
Roland did so.
"Nay," said Job, "it's t' same place; I know it well. Turn me again."
Roland did so.
"Nay," said Job, "it's noan better. I seem to gleg it thorough my eyelids. Turn me about more an' better; twizzle me round twyst; disguise it from me."
Roland turned him twice, and once again.
"Nay," cried Job desperately, "I know he's a-lookin' up at me; I can see his een skimmerin'.10 Faith an' trawth, 'tis toota uncouth, when a mon canna hinder hissel from seein"."
Such delay was likely to cost them dear. Roland took the spade from him, nerved himself and with open eyes cast a spadeful in, then another and another.
"Forgie's, poor Highlan' mon," said Job. "Dust to dust, ass to ass."
9 Foul (ugly) kiss. 10 Glimmering.
His eyes came open in his own despite. The glimmer of white at the bottom was blotted out. He received
the spade back and soon the pit was filled in, heaped up. A few snowflakes fluttered down and lay, unnoticeable save on that mound of newly turned earth.
"Ay," said Job, "if t' snow ud fall again an' cover wer ugly job we should be all reet. Yet it irks me, poor cratur.
T' snow's a co'd, co'd happin'. Howsumever-in sure an' sartain hope o'-summat." He took up spade and pick. "Now coom your ways."
Roland stood for a moment by the graveside with bared head in silence, then turned away and followed his companion over the moor. The snow was already falling fast. Job stood
at the open door and looked into the dark house.
"Does't mind thee of oat?" he said. "Ay," answered Roland.
"It doe me. I canna, an' yit I mun." "We have lingered too long already."
"I know that, ower well. But I canna; an' yit I mun."
"What do you want?"
""Tis on t' chimley-shelf. I allus tho't it favored her a wee bit."
of pottery, then laid his hand on what he was in search of and brought it to the door, a paltry chimney ornament, a poor little paint-smudged sheperdess with absurd hoop and beribboned crook.
"That's it!" said Job. "Tis wunnerful like her; partic'lar t' mouth."
He put it in his pocket, then picked up a small harden bag which he had crammed with such portable property as he most needed or valued, thrust a stake through under the knot and lifted it to his shoulder. Rofand took with him nothing of the dead man's but his pistol, powder and shot and the money, which last was only a partial restitution of what he had been robbed of. The rest of that donatio pro mortis causa he had buried with its late pos
"Now we're boun' for Wakefield," said Job.
"Is it on the way to Scotland?" asked Roland.
"Ay, sure 'tis."
"How do you know?"
"Nay, I'm noan purtendin' to know. It's that fur off a mon canna be expected to know. I nobbut mane 'tis the way I should choose. If I were forced to choose."
"Where does it lie?"
Job pointed almost opposite to the quarter in which the sun had died wintrily out.
Roland thought he knew; he entered hastily, struck against the table, overturned a stool, clumsily groping found the chimney, reached up to the shelf, knocked something off with a metallic clatter and something else with a crash you may." (To be continued.)
"Then lead on, with the best speed
POETRY AND THE MODERN NOVEL.*
It is a very remarkable fact that, even at this stage of æsthetic accuracy, we are still unable to define to everybody's satisfaction the most vital ele
The substance of this paper was given as an address to the Poets' Club on March 28th, 1912.
ment of Art. We are tolerably sure what is and is not Music; we have no hesitation, even in Sackville Street, in recognizing what is and is not Painting. Sculpture, Dancing, and Architecture present no problems in their
definition; but Poetry, escaping from the pigeon-holes of fixed denomination like the creature of fire and air it is, eternally eludes us. No doubt differences of language are partly to blame. Poetry alone of the arts lacks a universally recognized outward sign of its spiritual existence; and, like certain wines, it is very impatient of translation. Color is the same for us as it was for Venice four hundred years ago. The symphonies of Beethoven sound with equal majesty in London and Berlin. Praxiteles and Rodin wrought their monuments from similar material. But Heine may be unintelligible where Herrick enchants the listener; and so widely do not merely the tongues of mankind but also the national standards of beautiful language vary, that the application of any test of words alone is almost useless. In England we have poetic words and unpoetic words, and for this reason, perhaps, English poetry is more readily recognized than any other nation's. For this reason, too, perhaps we have in England the best of the world's poetry and a good deal of the worst: ambidexterity does not help a language when ostentatiousness reveals its weakness. In France, where poetry has always suffered from an over-elaboration of pure technique and a devotion to barren forms, genius is often dissected like a jigsaw and put together by a tenth muse called Ingenuity. How much of French poetry is Rhetoric curbed by the reins of metre.
I wonder whether comparisons apply to poetry—that is, whether we actually have any justification for speaking of good and bad poetry, as I myself did a moment ago. Surely the only antithesis to poetry is not-poetry; and is prose necessarily not-poetry? It might be safer to contrast prose with verse. I do not believe that poetry is discoverable in externals, and, incidentally, I
would like to take this opportunity to reprobate very strongly the barbarous phrase "poetical prose." I confess I scarcely know what it can mean. be intended to describe prose infused with the spirit of poetry, it would surely never have acquired the odium that is attached to it. If it mean prose mimicking the regular stresses and rhythms and assonances of verse, it can surely only be called prose by the courtesy or avarice of the printer. But I believe that "poetical prose" is generally used to signify prose in a condition of hysterical excitement, language in an epilepsy: so why the meaning of poetical should be disgracefully debased it is difficult to imagine.
In primitive times all the noblest actions and emotions of humanity were expressed in metrical forms for the reason that, recitation being the medium of distribution, it was necessary to make an obviously rhythmical appeal. Moreover, superficially, it is easier to write verse than prose: the less exhausting intervals are a great aid to the expression of simple ideas. It is worth noting, too, that with the growth of complications moral, mental, eugenic, rational, which has been called civilization, verse has been more and more completely puzzled to hold its own with prose. Now to argue that this is bad is to argue that progress is bad. No doubt the proposition is defensible; but it lies outside our province, and I am only anxious to persuade you that, though verse is perhaps no longer the dominant æsthetic influence on our period, it by no means follows that the supremacy enjoyed since the beginning of Art by Poetry is in any danger of destruction. I wonder if I can make my meaning clearer by analogies from other arts. I should be tempted to say that the earlier composers like Bach wrote in verse; that Beethoven wrote sometimes in prose, but mostly in verse; that Schumann
wrote sometimes in verse, but mostly in prose; that Wagner wrote, and Strauss writes, entirely in prose. Again, Rodin is a prose sculptor; Turner and Whistler are prose painters.
And if you feel that these analogies are too fantastic, let me remind you of certain phases in the history of English literature.
After the dramatic outburst of the Elizabethans, that reflected in poetic drama the suddenly heightened action of contemporary politics, an age of com. paratively degenerate verse succeeded, from which emerged the solitary figure of Milton, that great eclectic and decadent. Contemporary with him was the greatest age of English prose which, learning from the Authorized Version new and stupendous monies, contained the real poetry of the time. During the eighteenth century verse fell farther and farther away from poetry, and was content with the insignificant treatment of important subjects, as in Pope's "Essay on Man," or with the elaboration of unimportant subjects, as in the same And poet's "Rape of the Lock." where was poetry hiding? I confess the Muses were in strange company; for Calliope was riding pillion behind Henry Fielding, and Melpomene was gossiping over a counter with Samuel Richardson. The Romantic revival flamed up in a profusion of glorious verse, and with the renewed worship of the past, with all the best inspiration of poetry going into verse, prose stood still, stifled by the rhetoric of chattering statesmen all agog with the French Revolution and the rise of Bonaparte.
At this point I am inclined to hazard a generalization, and say that prose nearly always occupies itself with the reflection of the present. The past presents itself for us mostly in patterns, and verse is better able to take advantage of patterns than prose,
which always achieves its own design with greater labor and less consciousness of it in the making. I believe that Browning wrote in verse primarily on account of the manifest rhythm of the past.
You are, no doubt, perfectly aware by this time that I cannot identify poetry with verse, and you have possibly remarked how many fences I have tried to leap to avoid a plain definition. Poetry, for me, is the quintessence of life displayed and preserved in a reliquary of beautiful words; and for the purposes of this definition, I will say that life consists of action, emotion and thought, together with their corollaries of experience, tranquillity and contemplation, against a background of divine and human beauty. To me great poetry seems to happen when a perfection of utterance or expression completely coincides with the capacity for experience, the sense of tranquillity and the power of contemplation.
Now you will not, I hope, deny that prose may contain all these. The predominance of action will give drama; the exaltation of emotion will produce lyric poetry; the battles of thought may effect a philosophy. I am not going to claim for the novel a likely supremacy in any one of these conditions. It would not be fair to expect for a guinea the right to change as often as you like works that combine Macbeth, the Ode to a Skylark, and the Phodo. But I do ask that the modern novel may be free to utilize all these, and, furthermore, that the novelist's complete works, bound exquisitely in the édition definitive, may one day confront their creator as his epical contribution to the poetry of his time.
I do not believe that the epic, as written for the last time by Milton, possesses any chance of revival in the traditional form. The complexity of modern life has made it inconceivable; for the epic was invented to record
splendidly splendid deeds and simple thoughts. Sincerity is necessary to all art; but an epic is sincerity. The original epics were produced casually, almost as after-dinner speakers would persuade us that they produce their speeches. The later epics were begotten by belief in an idea, by the obsession of an overwhelming reality. Such was the Divina Commedia. Such was Paradise Lost. What idea or reality have we now in this empirical age? There is one only-Man. And I would ask you to believe that no twelve books of great blank verse will suffice to sing the epic of democracy.
Our contemporary epic is the united output of fiction. We plant more and more saplings every year, but few survive August drought or Christmas frost; and such trees as we leave behind will depend for their growth on the forestry of the future. The English novel has always leaned towards the epic, and was invented just as casually. I do not believe it marked a continuation of that steady growth which, beginning with Milesian tales, developed through Petronius and Apuleius and Boccaccio, and had reached already its culmination with Cervantes. The foundations of the English novel seem to me to rest on a far less obvious basis than the conte, and to represent a revolt against the Georgian devotion to compartments. In the eighteenth century Literature and Politics, Morality, Religion and Society, all had to show a greatest common factor of common sense. Poetry does not flourish in periods when mankind is engaged in auditing his history and, as it were, putting an extravagantly managed business on a sound commercial footing. This craze for arrangement was bound to set the world off again, when the leisurely recuperation from the effects of two stormy centuries began to manifest itself in a certain boisterousness of too good health. The poetry of Tom
Jones is mostly to be found in its profound vitality and passionately normal humanity. After kings and institutions, after new worlds and new religions, it seemed suddenly to strike Fielding as worth while to write of the ultimate cause of all the surging change, the ordinary man's ordinary actions. Almost at the same time Richardson thought it worth while to write of the ordinary woman. Tom Jones has often enough been called an epic. The parallel is plain enough to establish a platitude. But Clarissa Harlowe, perhaps because of its awkward epistolary form, has never seemed to justify any comparison with the epic. Yet the "soul with all its maladies," the strife of character, the subservience of action to motive, the reality of the protagonists, the pageant of domestic life, indicated to posterity a potential development of the novel which all the spacious sanity of Fielding never promised. His is the poetry of Shakespeare's comedy, of green England, of simplicity and grossness and normality; but Clarissa claims comparison with Hamlet, and hers is the poetry of the human soul. I wish I had space to examine the long list of successors to Fielding and Richardson, to show you how, in my opinion, the immortality of any novelist depends almost entirely on his poetry. I will refer instead to a brilliant exposition of the theory of ecstasy in literature, to Mr. Arthur Machen's Hieroglyphics. You will find there much to dissent from, but you will also find much more to endorse and many lines of critical development finely indicated.
I am inclined to say that Balzac really gave us the form of the modern novel. If Fielding was the Homer, he was the Dante. He wrote in a frenzy of creation. He deliberately and consciously imagined an epic, and in his Comédie Humaine directly challenged comparison with the Florentine. Bal