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grows faint, and my faith in woman flickers, and her present is an agony to me, and her future a despair, the scent of that dead rose, withered for twelve years, comes back to me. I know there will be spring; as surely as the birds know it when they see above the snow two tiny, quivering green leaves. Spring cannot fail us.
There were other flowers in the box once; a bunch of white acacia flowers, gathered by the strong hand of a man as we passed down a village street on a sultry afternoon, when it had rained, and the drops fell on us from the leaves of the acacia trees. The flowers were damp; they made mildew marks on the paper I folded them in. After many years I threw them away. There is nothing of them left in the box now, but a faint, strong smell of dried acacia, that recalls that sultry summer afternoon; but the rose is in the box still.
It is many years ago now; I was a girl of fifteen, and I went to visit in a small up-country town. It was young in those days, and two days' journey from the nearest village; the population consisted mainly of men. A few were married, and had their wives and children, but most were single. There was only one young girl there when I came. She was about seventeen, fair, and rather fully-fleshed; she had large dreamy blue eyes, and wavy light hair; full, rather heavy lips, until she smiled; then her face broke into dimples, and all her white teeth shone. The hotel-keeper may have had a daughter, and the farmer in the outskirts had two, but we never saw them. She reigned alone. All the men worshipped her. She was the only woman they had to think of. They talked of her on the " stoep," at the market, at the hotel; they watched for her at street corners; they hated the man she bowed to or walked with down the street. They brought flowers to the front door; they offered her their horses; they begged her to marry them when they dared. Partly, there was something noble and heroic in this devotion of men to the best woman they knew; partly there was something natural in it, that these men, shut off from the world, should pour at the feet of one woman the worship that otherwise would have been given to twenty; and partly, there was something mean in their envy of one another. she had raised her little finger, I suppose,
prettier; I do not think I was so pretty as she was. I was certainly not as handsome. But I was vital, and I was new, and she was old-they all forsook her and followed me. They worshipped me. It was to my door that the flowers came; it was I had twenty horses offered me when I could only ride one; it was for me they waited at street corners; it was what I said and did that they talked of. Partly I liked it. I had lived alone all my life; no one ever had told me I was beautiful and a woman. I believed them. I did not know it was simply a fashion, which one man had set, and the rest followed unreasoningly. I liked them to ask me to marry them, and to say, No. I despised them. The mother heart had not swelled in me yet; I did not know all men were my children, as the large woman knows when her beart is grown. I was too small to be tender. I liked my power. I was like a child with a new whip, which it goes about cracking everywhere, not caring against what. I could not wind it up and put it away. Men were curious creatures, who liked me, I could never tell why. Only one thing took from my pleasure; I could not bear that they had deserted her for me. I liked her great dreamy blue eyes, I liked her slow walk and drawl; when I saw ber sitting among men, she seemed to me much too good to be among them; I would have given all their compliments if she would once have smiled at me as she smiled at them, with all her face breaking into radiance, with her dimples and flashing teeth. But I knew it never could be; I felt sure she hated me; that she wished I was dead; that she wished I had never come to the village. She did not know, when we went out riding, and a man who had always ridden beside her came to ride beside me, that I sent him away; that once when a man thought to win my favor by ridiculing her slow drawl before me I turned on him so fiercely that he never dared come before me again. I knew she knew that at the hotel men had made a bet as to which was the prettier, she or I, and had asked each man who came in, and that the one who had staked on me won. I hated them for it, but I would not let her see that I cared about what she felt toward me.
She and I never spoke to each other. If we met in the village street we bowed and passed on; when we shook hands we did so silently, and did not look at each other. But I thought she felt my presence in a room just as I felt hers.
At last the time for my going came. was to leave the next day. Some one I knew gave a party in my honor, to which all the village was invited.
Now it was midwinter; there was nothing in the gardens but a few dahlias and chrysanthemums, and I suppose that for two hundred miles round there was not a rose to be bought for love or money. Only in the garden of a friend of mine, in a sunny corner between the oven and the brick wall, there was a rose-tree growing which had on it one bud. It was white. It had been promised to the girl to wear at the party.
The evening came; when I arrived and went to the waiting-room, to take off my mantle, I found the girl already there. She was dressed in a pure white dress, with her great white arms and shoulders showing, her bright hair glittering in the candle-light, and the white rose fastened
at her breast. She looked like a queen.
I looked in the glass. She had taken the white rose from her breast, and was fastening it in my hair.
"How nice dark hair is; it sets off flowers so." She stepped back and looked at it. "It looks much better there !" I turned round and looked at her. "You are so beautiful to me," I said. "Y-e-s, she said, slowly; "I'm
We stood looking at each other.
Then they came in and swept us away. All the evening we did not come near to each other. Only once, as she passed, she smiled at me.
The next morning I left the town.
Years after I heard she had married and
BY E. NESBIT.
My garden was lovely to see,
Sweet flowers and blossoms rare,
I had planted there.
There were pinks and lilies and stocks,
Sweet gray and white stocks, and rose and rue,
And pansies and daisies and phlox.
And the lawn was trim, and the trees were shady,
On the Life's-love-crowning day
When she should come
To her lover's home,
I saw the red of the roses
The royal roses that bloomed for her sake;
They shall lie," I said, "where my heart's hopes lie:
I dreamed in the orchard-closes :
""Tis here we will walk in the July days,
When the paths and the lawn are ablaze;
We will walk here, and look at our life's great bliss,
And thank God for this."
She never saw the flowers
That were hers from their first sweet hours.
The roses, the pinks, and the dark heartsease
Died in my garden, ungathered, forlorn ;
Only the jasmine, the lilies, the white, white rose,
They lay round her, touched her close.
The jasmine stars-white stars, that about our window their faint light shed,
Lay round her head.
THE more M. Renan is studied, the less he seems to be in any real sense a religious teacher at all, unless that spirit of airy caprice which is of the essence of the fairy-tale may be admitted as a constituent of true religion; and this is just what M. Renan wishes us to believe, and what any one who has any real faith absolutely repudiates. To us, religion means first of all something which binds, something which is not elastic to our will, something which we cannot vary, as we vary our pleasures and our tastes and our lighter reveries. To M. Renan, apparently, religion, if it is anything, is a midsummer night's NEW SERIES.-VOL. LIV., No. 2.
dream, a kind of fairy-tale which he can vary as the colors vary in a bubble, or the hum of the insects in a garden varies its attraction for the ear. On Sunday there was a gathering of the Provençal enthusiasts at Sceaux, near Paris. The Society who call themselves the Félibres of Paris, and who hope to revive the Provençal language as the language of a literature peculiar to the South of France, celebrated their anniversary at Sceaux; and the Félibres were generous enough to associate with themselves the Bretons who cultivate the language and religion of Celtic Brittany with the same tender enthusiasm with
which the Provençals cultivate the language and religion of Languedoc. M. Renan was chosen to deliver an address, and while saying many true and graceful things about the local legends and associations which, instead of undermining the larger petriotism, really fill the larger patriotism with new significance, and lend the passion of home, as it were, to what would be otherwise its too abstract conceptions, he indulged himself in talking of the immortal life after a fashion which shows clearly enough that the immortal life has no serious meaning for him at all. He ended thus:-"I am old; I have reached the time when one ought to dream of furnishing one's head with the thoughts which will occupy it during the life eternal. That will be so long! It is, I imagine, the last images which will be the most tenacious, and which will fill our immortal soul during the ages that never end. Well, I have at this moment under my eyes most charming images; I am going to cherish them with the utmost care; I hope to place your festival of 1891 among the subjects on which I shall ponder through all eternity." Doubtless M. Renan was not serious. To us, he never seems to be serious when he talks of religion. He treats religious themes with the same light, airy, and arbitrary touch with which he might manipulate a fairytale. But he could hardly have shown how little serious he is in dealing with the immortal life, better than by suggesting that the spirit is to have its latest thoughts, however trivial they may be, perpetuated and petrified, as it were, through all eternity, and that he himself inay perhaps be occupied during the ages that never end, with the sunny dreams of Provence and the language in which the Troubadours sang their rather extravagant songs of love and chivalry, or even with the gloomier, but not less arbitrary, traditions and superstitions of Brittany. Doubtless, in a graceful way, M. Renan wanted to intimate that the immortal life is a mere dream. That exclamation of his concerning eternity, Ce sera si long!" betrays his real drift. And, indeed, that notion of occupying himself to all eternity with picturesque costumes, and the dialect and associations of the most showy, the least solid and durable, of all earthly kingdoms, indicates frankly enough the irony of the mood in which he was indulging. "Let
me not attack formally the belief in immortality," he seems to say. "There is enough and too much of serious argument of that kind. Let me assume it as all true, and make it seem ridiculous by complimenting these good people with the assurance that I should like to be thinking of their fête day and its motley gayeties to all eternity. Human life is a sort of caprice, sometimes dignified, sometimes grotesque. If it is to have an immortality at all, it is just as likely that its more capricious attitudes will be caught and stereotyped as any other,-just as a butterfly is chloroformed and then pinned in a naturalist's collection. I cannot imagine myself immortal, but if I am to be, I think I should be just as likely to be always dreaming of bright costumes, and fairy pageants, and lively masques, and passionate Southern vocabularies, and all the vivid romance of chivalry, as of anything else. And it is much better to hint to these good people indirectly, of what evanescent stuff their religious dreams are made, than to direct any serious assault on their religion." And no doubt it is hardly possible to underinine a traditional religious belief more effectually than by this ironic mode of assuming that though the popular belief in human immortality may be true, there is nothing in man that is not absolutely trivial, nothing in him deserving of the eternity with which he is, as a matter of course, credited. And this is what M. Renan sets himself to show from beginning to end. At the very opening of his address, he says that, after having reflected long on "the Infinite which surrounds us," he has arrived at the conclusion that nothing is more certain than that we shall never know much about it; "but an infinite goodness penetrates life, and I am persuaded that the moments which man gives to joy ought to count among those in which he responds best to the views of the Eternal." And he evidently means by joy, joy of the butterfly kind, the joy which the sun brings to the creatures who can bask in it, the joy which picturesque celebrations bring to those who love festivity and social gayety, the joy which all literary renaissance brings with it in this age," as M. Renan terms it, "of the resurrection of the dead." The notion of a soul fixed in contemplating to all eternity the gayeties of an anniversary celebration of the foundation of a Pro
vençal society, is so plainly ironical, that we rather suspect that it must have given offence to all the genuine Christians, if there were any, among "the Félibres of Paris." It was like suggesting that the soul should live forever in the perception of a sweet scent, or a rich tone, or a graceful group, or a fair flower. That is a great descent even from the conception of worth by which M. Renan measures the present life of man. "Every one," he says, "is worth more or less in proportion to the joys which he has tasted in the beginning of life, to the share of goodness which he has experienced from those round him." But the share of goodness which men have experienced in the early part of their life from those round them, involves elements a vast deal richer and deeper than the contemplation of the gayeties of a Provençal celebration; and one perceives, therefore, that M. Renan thinks the sweet thoughts of the eternal life are likely to be made up of material much more trivial and evanescent than the experiences upon which the worth of human character depends. That is one way in which he trains his hearers to depreciate the prospect of immortality. The worth of human life, he says, is to be measured by the share it has had in the goodness of those by whom the period of childhood has been surrounded; but the worth of immortality is to be measured by the worth of the pleasurable images which happen to be uppermost in the mind at the close of the human career. Tenderness, goodness, human affections of the highest order, enter into the substance of the one; the capricious amusements which most impress themselves on old men's memory will determine the value of the other. In both cases alike it is the amount of joyous experience which measures the worth of the
result; but the joyous experiences of age being to the joyous experiences of youth as moonlight is to sunlight, or as water is to wine, the long immortality of those at least who die in old age, will necessarily be somewhat fâde and tedious, if there is an immortality at all. That is what M. Renan's language suggests, though he does not say it plainly out.
What M. Renan ignores is, that all serious belief in immortality is founded on the conviction that the human heart craves rest on an eternal righteousness and blessedness the communion with which is by no manner of means a light pleasure of that butterfly order to which he chooses to attribute all the significance of finite immortality. The "beatific vision" is a vision for which finite minds can only be prepared by suffering or willingness to suffer,-indeed, by the kind of suffering or willingness to suffer of which we have had a divine example. The only preparation for immortality is experience of a diametrically opposite kind from that on which M. Renan dilates with a sort of epicurish cynicism as the possible amusement of a wearisome eternity. To learn to fathom the depth of even the deeper human characters is a process which involves a great capacity for voluntary suffering. But to learn to grow up from the human standard of righteousness to the divine, is a process which involves the willing carrying of a cross in the infinite agony and blessedness of which M. Kenan has long ago ceased to believe. Of course, having once reduced our nature to the level in which the capacity for ephemeral gayety is all in all, he finds no difficulty in making the prospect of immortality look as absurd for man as it would be for the butterfly itself.-Spectator.
THE BALLAD OF MELICERTES.
BY ALGERNON CHARLES SWINBURNE.
IN MEMORY OF THÉODORE DE BANVILLE.
DEATH, a light outshining life, bids heaven resume