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duties is not the same thing as positive zeal. And active zeal, hearty co-operation, is an essential condition of the prosperity of South Africa and of the attainment of the aims which the Government has professedly set itself. It likewise represents a material gain inasmuch as it renders economy in military matters possible. No British Colonies are ruled against the will of the people. The Government, we are willing to assume, desires that the latest addition to the Colonial ultramarine Empire should not form an exception. Meanwhile, however, it is announced that the garrison is to be raised to 70,000 men, who with 30,000 police make a total of 100,000 armed men. The cost of that military establishment is serious, but doubtless the authorities believe it to be the minimum compatible with tranquility. Now a people animated by the feelings I have alluded to above would themselves further most of the objects for which soldiers have now to be employed, and that free of cost to the taxpayer. And the justifiable lessening of the garrison by 50,000 men is a boon for which both the Government and the nation would have reason to feel grateful.
The sum required to relieve the primary needs of our South African fellow-subjects would not constitute a really irksome burden for this wealthy Empire, though it is certainly more than I have yet seen any disposition to grant. The number of farms destroyed is larger far than people in England-aye, and than many Englishmen in South Africa-imagine. We ourselves, who know the country and the people, are reduced to estimates which, laying no claim to absolute accuracy, would, if our request for help were entertained, require to be officially verified by some impartial Commission. By the report of such a body of men we would willingly abide.
Meanwhile to discuss with acrimony the number of ruined farmsteadswhich I repeat is much larger than people suppose and their money value is a hindrance to an understanding instead of a help. And an understanding between the Government and the governed is a necessity. That once compassed, all other things will be added to it. That is why we rest our case mainly on the community of interests between the two. I say nothing now therefore of the other arguments: that the Government having taken over our assets has ipso facto assumed our liabilities as well, and that the guarantee it gives us of our lawful property covers all debts due to the subject by solvent debtors and therefore all property destroyed by necessity of war. If that confidence and good feeling which would go far to draw together the two races in South Africa and induce them to work in harmony can be established by a policy of let us call it-generosity, it is surely needless to haggle over mere money or to stickle for alleged absolute rights.
So much for what was implied by our journey abroad. Now as to the manifestations which are said to have accompanied it. Not a single incident took place anywhere which ought reasonably to wound the sensibilities of the most patriotic British subject. For that fact I vouch as a man of honor, and my comrades' experience is identical with mine. Englishmen who were present at our meetings and listened to our speeches-and I am now speaking of Englishmen who have never professed any sympathy for our cause -have borne the same testimony. Wherever we travelled not only did we ourselves eschew politics, but we insisted on having them excluded by everyone else with whom we came in contact as well. How far we went in that direction will never be known
It is painful to have to defend ourselves against charges based upon our appeal to the charity of foreigners, after having taken such minute and successful precautions to afford no pretext for them. But the unwelcome fact is forcing itself more and more upon us that the Boer character is but very imperfectly understood by the British people, who too often play upon the wrong chord when it seems so easy to touch the right one. In this there is at least as much matter for regret as for blame. With the very defective, and indeed misleading, information which is generally supplied to the British public, it is not easy to see how the views which it forms of the state and strivings of the Boers could well be more correct or the feelings which it entertains towards themselves could be more sympathetic. No people are more straightforward, more staunch, more devoted than ours when properly treated, and nothing is less difficult than to treat them with that cordiality which our fellow subjects in England doubtless feel, but are not capable of expressing effectively. Ice and cold water are essentially one, yet the laws that govern them differ widely. So it is with the characters of Boer and Briton: methods which persuade the one repel the other; acts which seem friendly or indifferent
from the standpoint of the Englishman take on the opposite hue when seen from the angle of vision of the Afrikander. Thus, as some persons in this island disapproved our appeal to the world for help, which we deemed natural enough, so most of our people. in the new Colonies have their suspicions aroused by the action of the Government in still maintaining some Concentration Camps, and in buying up the ground of the Boers there and of others outside the camps who, had they been assisted a little, could and would have resumed their peaceful labors. "For whom," they ask, "is our land being purchased? Is some vast colonization scheme being matured, and if so, why are we eliminated from it? Evidently because we are distrusted." Now distrust, especially when unmerited, is not an element of harmony in a country occupied by two races who were lately at war. Neither does a policy which tends to cut off a large number of farmers from the land and set them drifting into cities contribute to peace and stability. Their stake in the common weal is nil, and their temptation to fish in troubled waters is great. Lastly, I cannot help uttering a word of regret that the delegates of the late South African States: now in Europe are not allowed to return home. At the conclusion of peace it was well understood and stated that they would be free to go back after the war was over. And in truth there seemed no reason why any obstacle should be placed in their way. When they came to Europe they were genuine delegates of a real Government, whose orders they obeyed just as my comrades and myself did, and whose confidence they fully retained to the very last. Would it not be conducive to reciprocal trust if they were told that they might return to their native country? In any and every case, to hinder them or any burghers from go
ing home is an act which cannot be reconciled with the spirit or with the clear intent-as we all understood itof the Treaty of Peace.
And if, as we believe, both Britons and Boers are equally desirous of establishing reciprocal trust, it must be evident to all that nothing could more materially contribute to the realization of this praiseworthy aim than a general and complete amnesty which would sweep away once for all one of the most potent causes of estrangement between the two sections of the population. Even if the men whom this opportune exercise of royal clemency would directly benefit were but vulgar rebels, its beneficent effects would of themselves suffice to justify it. But they are not mere rebels, if there be any truth in the essentially English saying that blood is thicker than water. The sentiments that inspired them to help their brothers-a warm devotion to their kindred, a selfless love of country-would have moved Englishmen in their place to go and do likewise. This consideration alone ought to turn the scale of mercy in their favor. But if further argument were needed it would be furnished by the example of magnanimity set by the Boers themselves after the Jameson raid. They at once waived their right to justice and treated their eneThe Contemporary Review.
mies with extreme clemency, and this without waiting for any appeal. Generosity in the present case, however, is not merely the practical conclusion of an argument, it is the dictate of national self-interest as well, which would vastly benefit by the healing of wounds which are still profound and inflamed. It is also in harmony with the cherished traditions of the British people to display generosity to a brave, defeated foe. And generosity shown to our intrepid comrades would carry with it its own reward: it would prove excellent policy in the long run,-policy to the full as beneficial to both sides as it was in the case of Canada, whose high-spirited people appreciated, forgave and finally forgot.
If I have in any degree succeeded in making our position clear, if I have shown that it is compatible with the conscientious discharge of our obligations as subjects, if I have brought home to the British mind the desirability-nay the necessity-of lending a helping hand to the Boer, not only for the sake of humanity but also as a matter of good policy, and have proved that the avowed aims of the British Government are identical with the interests of our kindred in South Africa, then I shall not regret that I have broken silence.
THE ART OF EMILE ZOLA.
English, no less than French, opinion of the art of Emile Zola has been unduly affected by the artist's attitude in the Dreyfus case. It is scarcely an exaggeration to say that we have promoted him from the grade of a "realistic" writer to that of an apostle, because he publicly accused the French General Staff of conspiracy to defeat
the ends of justice. The reward is not only out of all proportion to the service rendered, but is also out of all relation to it. Facts are facts; and the Dreyfus case is only one fact among many that have to be weighed in the attempt to estimate either the character of the man or the value of his literary work. Most of the essential
facts the writing and publication of his most successful books-occurred long before the Dreyfus case; and it is by them that we must judge Zola, remembering that obscenity is not the less obscene because it is found in conjunction with civic courage, and that the merits of a work of art are in no way conditioned by the side which the artist subsequently takes in a controversy. The facts of the "Affaire" may incidentally help us a little towards the comprehension of his ideals, but they certainly will not help us very much.
Of course, Zola was a great writer. The most hostile critic, if he does not wish to make himself ridiculous, must start with that admission. For thirty years, indeed, it has been the habit of critics to take him as seriously as they take Mr. George Meredith, and the habit of "general readers" to take him as seriously as they take Mr. Hall Caine. Evidently one cannot pass by on the other side, protesting that there is nothing to criticise. On the contrary, there is a great deal to criticise. One can no more ignore the novels than Mr. F.'s aunt could ignore the mile-stones on the Dover road. There is hardly one of them that can be read without branding a durable impression on the reader's brain. It is well worth while to try to get behind that impression: to analyze the method by which it has been produced; to inquire how far it is a true impression of real life. One may even, after reading nothing else for several days, in order to isolate the impression and make sure of it, desire to ask oneself whether it is not an impression as misleading and injurious as it is unpleasant; whether the author was not, after all, more usefully occupied in writing advertisements of other people's novels for Hachette, than in looking at life through a temperament in order to write novels of his own.
One naturally turns to the published sketches of Zola's life, to see if there is anything in them that accounts for the characteristics that differentiate his art. There are several such sketches by Mr. R. H. Sherard, by M. Edouard Rod, and others-and the principal picture that emerges from all of them is merely that of a little bourgeois, with very big forehead, cut by three remarkable wrinkles, sitting at an enormous table, surrounded by prodigious furniture, and writing with the unemotional regularity of a copying clerk in a Government office, for a fixed number of hours every day. For the rest he seems to spend most of his time sitting in the summer-house of a garden on an island of the Seine. The picture suggests nothing except what Zola, who delighted in scientific terms, would have called a specialization of function. The creator of the "roman expérimental" has nothing to do with novels except to write them. It is left to others to live the lives and garner the experiences which he expounds. It is not anything in his own life, but life in general, that he regards through a temperament, and of which he aspires to be the great interpreter.
The picture develops, and shows that the little bourgeois attaches great importance to this colossal task of interpretation. Nearly every day a representative of the Press waits upon him, and no such visitor is denied admission. Sometimes it is his own aims and methods that he explains. His novels have always been written with a higher aim than merely to amuse"; he has "certain contributions to make to the thought of the world on certain subjects" and the novel is his chosen medium of communication. More often he supplies the interviewer with an instalment of his wisdom on some topic of the day. Has an old woman's apple stall been upset? The catastrophe suggests reflections on the con
dition of the great Norman cider industry. And so forth. The example, borrowed from a protest by Mr. George Moore, is not too trivial to serve. thing goes on to such an extent that the relations of the novelist and the interviewers are critically canvassed in the newspapers. There is a complaint that Zola lacks "bonhommie"; that he never "offers anything" when he is interviewed. This, however, is not from meanness, but from a sense of the solemnity of the occasion, and of the importance of the functions which he has been invited to perform. He is the consulting physician of the social organism. Does the physician "offer anything" to those who come to him to have their pulses felt, and to be warned against errors of diet and unhealthy habits?
These glimpses of Zola may help us to make a beginning of criticism by classing him. He is not a novelist who has a philosophy in spite of himself, but a philosopher who has deliberately chosen to write novels, because he regards the novel as "the highest form of literary expression," because the novel "contains, or may be made to contain, everything." And he brings to this ambitious task of putting everything into novels a curious medley of endowments.
First-hand knowledge of life is certainly the least of his qualifications. It is, indeed, the loudest claim of his admirers, that the author of the most flamboyant pictures of vice ever published in modern times lived, as we have just seen that he lived, like a good bourgeois at his desk and in his garden. He knew as little of the haute cocotterie, which he tried to depict in Nana, as he knew of the salons of the Faubourg Saint Germain, in which he seems to have imagined that men of breeding spent their time in long and loud discussions of the supposed frailties of their hostesses. His only real
experience of the hard actualities of life was acquired in the two years of struggling misery which preceded his engagement to tie up parcels and write réclames in Hachette's office. Those were, indeed, years in which his misfortunes made him acquainted with strange bed-fellows. He lived, for a while, we are told, in a hotel borgne— a sort of shady lodging-house, mainly frequented by loose characters. He rubbed shoulders there with people whose lives were their vices, and whose vices were their lives-people who knew neither reticence nor refinement-people who used a blasphemous and obscene vocabulary without conscious effort, because it was the vo cabulary that they had always been accustomed to.
We shall see presently how this early experience colored not only Zola's manner of expressing the most ordinary ideas, but also his attitude towards life, and his estimate of human nature. For the moment it is enough to note that it was the least of the gifts that he brought to the writing of novels.
The essence of Zola's equipment was not knowledge but intellect. For sheer brain power he probably excelled alk the novelists of his generation, and it was the association of intellectual power with intellectual pride in a man who was never sufficiently a student to become a scholar that determined the character of his literary aims. His: plans-both the plans that he originally formed and the plans that he ultimately carried out-were on a more grandiose scale than those of any other novelist, not excluding Balzac. For nothing is more certain than that the great scheme of the Rougon-Macquart series was materially modified in thecourse of its execution, because the author gradually discovered, or imagined that he discovered, that he was: capable of doing something even big