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What do you know of London Town,
Shepherd boy, shepherd boy, bare and FIRELIGHT.
Said the shepherd boy, with his long When winds are chill and the skies are
crook crutch: sober,
“So little I know, and I dream so And clouds lie low on the misty hill,
much, A lover comes with the gray October
That across the hills, and the valley A blank in our empty hearts to fill.
I can hear the murmur of London In the ingle she waits with red-gold.
Town." tresses, With rosy cheeks and with lips rose.
Little red wall or the pasture ground, red.
Cound you wind it round, could you And we stretch our hands to her warın
wind it round? caresses In days when the drifted leaves lie Said the little red wall, with its gates
set fast: dead.
“It hides so deep, and it lies so vast,
That only the arm of God bent down Not a thought has she but to do our
Could compass the whole of London pleasure,
Town." With flash and sparkle to light our
eyes, To gladden each hour of twilight lei
Little white sheep on the windy moor,
Can you show the way to that city's sure
door? With richer dreams than the sunset
“It lies so far," said the little white skies.
"That we only travelled there once, in She croons to us songs of buried sum
And if any should wish to know the When loud west winds in the chim
Dear, 'twas only a dream, that we She heralds winter, the proud new
dreamt one day." comer,
Agnes: Grozier. Herbertson. With blaring bugle and roaring drum. Pall Mall. Magazine..
Literature as detached as is the revolt from some accepted ideal and literature of to-day from the middle tradition; you will be estimating a force and working classes, the unconscious which in no long time is destined to rulers of England, would appear to be enter into the play of outward affairs independent of the actual processes of and to mould the courses of the world. political and social change. A few No better example could be adduced rigorous story tellers, a group of than the history of the Reaction of writers of pleasant verse, some youth- the later years of the nineteenth cenful and brilliant journalists, will make tury. Weary of the long work of reup a literary "movement”; which will form, a little bored by the strenuoustake itself seriously, parade a pompness of the appeal to disinterested and circumstance, and continue until causes, conscious of the possession of the respectabilities of advancing age, unparalleled means of enjoyment, and and often, alas! the revelations of a of great possessions, the nation was failing inspiration, have once again evidently prepared for a new spirit, a demonstrated the triumph of time and new inspiration. That spirit and inchange. Yet this emphasis of aloof- spiration came with the Reaction; Dess is not the whole truth. Literature, whose literature some fifteen years ago indeed, has no direct concern with the revealed the only confident and secure dust of the party struggle, with bills proclamation of any kind of definite of licensing or local government. But appeal. As the former enthusiasms the larger transitions of any period, the subsided and the former systems were spirit which underlies some definite found unsatisfying; as, in a word, the upheaval, whose appearance in the new England disentangled itself from world of action astonisbes the unthink the old; so the message proclaimed by ing, is certain to find itself first articu- a few men of genius, and diffused late in the universe of art. Estimate through a thousand obscure channels in that universe a vital movement of in Press and platform, became sud. denly arresting: and it now stands of such a spirit seemed of the elements crystallized in the past as the charac- of tragedy. Literature, after its long teristic product of those extraordinary alliance with the party of reform, had years.
gone definitely over to the enemy. To The contrast was glaring between the the minds of the few faithful the disliterature of the earlier Victorian era may was somewhat similar to that and the literature of the closing days. aroused in the defenders of the inThe old had been cosmopolitan; violate city when the Shekinah dethe new was Imperial. The old parted from the courts of the temple had proclaimed the glory of the and passed into the camp of its foes. “one imperishable cause," allied This new spirit of the Reaction through all lands; the struggle for gathered itself especially round two liberty against the accumulated athe- men, each possessing more than a isms of a dozen centuries. The new touch of genius–Mr. W. E. Henley and was frankly. Tory; with the Tory Mr. Rudyard Kipling. Mr. Henley's scoffing at the futilities of freedom, vitriolic denunciation of the accepted described now as a squalid uprising codes of life, the almost insane lust of of the discontented against their mas- blood and violence of one physically ters. The old had been “Liberal”; in debarred from personal adventure, bethat wide definition including such ex- came reflected in a hundred eager foltremes as a Browning or a Tennyson; lowers, who plied the axe and hammer the new branded Liberalism as but a of sneer and gibe round the humanigigantic fraud by which the weak de- tarian ideal and the house of the good luded the strong into an abnegation of citizen. Mr. Kipling's proclamation of their individuality. The old had been the Imperial race co-operating with humanitarian; preaching, if with a God in the bloody destruction and domsomewhat thick voice, yet with a ination of subject peoples passed into sanguine air, the coming of the golden the commonplaces of a journalism age; with war abandoned as irrational, which every morning revealed to the and a free and universal trade binding astonished clerk his devastation of the nations into one brotherhood, and Afghanistan, or civilization of Zanzi. the diffusion of the sweet reasonable bar, or slaughter of ten thousand ness of the English character through fantastic Dervishes in a night and a all the envious nations of the world. day. The new had no such hopes or dreams. It was a literature of the security of It revolted always against the domina a confident triumph; with that quality tion of the bourgeois. It estimated com- which distinguishes the work of a merce as a means of conflict and a weap- dawn from the work of a declining on of offence. It clamored for the ancient day. Its appeal was to many perma. Barbarism; and delighted in war; and nent elements of human emotion. It would spread an English civilization, proclaimed the supremacy of England not by the diffusion of its ideas but as a mother worth dying and living for; by the destruction of its enemies. It her children seeking danger as a bride, was literature congruous to a nation searching all the confines of the world; wearied of the drabness of its uniform encountering and joyfully mastering successes; with the dissatisfaction and enemies and natural forces, the winds vague restlessness which come both to and the seas and the terrors of elemenindividuals and communities after tal things. There were visions of ships long periods of order and routine. To steering through deep waters and harthe friends of progress the dominance vests gathered from all seas; of the pioneers whose bones have marked the ing, parochial. Imperial Destiny retrack for the advancing army that they placed national well-being; and men might follow where these had trod; of were no longer asked to pursue the the flag of England descried amid mist "just” course, but to approve the "inand cold or in the Southern sun as evitable." everywhere triumpbant by the testi. The thing lasted only so long as it mony of all the winds of Heaven. It could keep divorced from real things was a literature of intoxication; ade- and confined to its world of dreams. quate to a nation which, baving con- While British wars consisted of batquered the world in a fit of absence of tues of blacks, with the minimum of mind, has suddenly become conscious loss and pain to ourselves, the falsity of the magnitude of its achievement. of the atmosphere of Mr. Kipling's Small wonder that to the eyes of the battle tales was un discoverable. The men of the time there came with it blind and gibbering maniac of the end something of the force of a gospel; as of "The Light that Failed," who shrieks, the boundaries of their thougbt lifted "Give 'em Hell, men, oh, give 'em to disclose larger horizons than they Hell," from the security of an armored had ever known.
train, while his companions annihilate It was a literature on the other hand their enemies through the turning of of a rather forced ferocity; of an the handle of a machine gun, seemed academic enthusiasm for the noise and not only a possible but even a reputatrappings of war; the work of men ble figure. The sport of such "good who despised death because there was hunting":"the lordliest life on earth” present in their minds, not death as was not recounted by the historian of a reality but only death as an idea. the hunted, the tribes of the bills. It preached a boastful insularity with whose land was laid desolate and wells. a whole-hearted contempt for disloyal choked up and palmtrees cut down Ireland or the cretins of the continent; and villages burnt, who were joyfully revealing the Briton to himself, a butchered to make an Imperial holiday. majestic figure, lord of the earth, who Their verdict upon such "hunting": with the approbation of God, but by might have been less exuberant; as the power of his own right arm, had Newman said in the famous parable in gotten himself the victory. It pre- his defence of Catholics in England, sented a figure of the Imperial race, “Lions would have fared better, bad like Nietzsche's Overman, trampling lions been the artists." over the ineffective, crusbing opposing With the outbreak of real war and nations, boasting an iron supremacy, some apprehension of its meaning the administering an iron justice. It spell snapped. Directly Mr. Kipling thought scorn of all the ideals of commenced to write concerning the philanthropy of the middle classes with actual conflict in South Africa, the note their timidities and reticence and dull suddenly jarred and rang false. His routine, of the poor with the clumsiness judgment was found to be concerned of their ineffectual squalor. “More not with war but the idea of war; the chops, bloody ones with gristle,"—so a conception in the brain of a journalist. critic bas summed up Mr. Kipling's de- The jauntiness and cocksureness, the mand from life in his own words. It surface swagger, were suddenly con. Deglected and despised the ancient fronted with realities;-Death and Loss pieties of an older England, the little and Longing. “There was a good kill. isle set in its silver sea. Greatness ing at Paardeberg; the first satisfactory became bigness; specific national feel. killing of the whole war";-this attitude was revealed suddenly in its essential tenuous phantoms of the Greek he lid heart's vulgarity; a grimace from the teeth The spectacle is not without its per mu to po into the outwards; war as viewed from Capel We have not changed, these wyn Drenche Court or Whitechapel, or any other might complain. Here is the balling on the place where men shout and are impo- music which you once approved, vanad the bls tent. Real war gave indeed a revela- once moved you clumsily to cap in the eying tion of high sacrifice, the coming of the the market place. What has ce will be fil "fire of Prometheus" into the common the charm suddenly to cease? e madar ways of men; flaming up under the It has ceased—is the reply-bec: stress of a vast upheaval in the con- your world of phantasy has b flict of life and of death. It was not judged and condemned by real thin, CCAI ON given to the Apostles of the New Im- because with that judgment a ne... perialism to estimate or even to under. Spirit is dawning in England. stand those deeper tides of the human This inspiration should make its first trag soul. Their conception was of war appearance in literature. And the carried on in the spirit of the music question immediately arises: can we hall comedy; the men at the close of the estimate to-day anything confident and struggle wiping their hands which have vital which can be interpreted as the successfully gouged out the eyes of work of the pioneers, the Spring of a their enemies, while they hum the Summer to be? latest popular song. It was left for an. We shall find, I think, on examinaother poet of a different spirit, Mr. tion two classes of such writings. The Henry Newbolt, to strike the deeper first is of those who growing up under notes in the only memorable verse the spirit and dominance of the Reaccalled forth by this three years' strug- tion, have yet refused to give it their gle,
allegiance; a Literature of protest With the coming of a war which it colored by a sense of isolation from the had so vigorously demanded, the litera ideals of its age. The second is of ture of the reaction fell suddenly, first those developing when that dominance into shrillness, then into silence. Read is passing away and who exhibit thereto-day, the whole thing stands strange fore all the security and triumph which ly remote and fantastic, the child of a comes from the conviction of a winning time infinitely far away. Of its au- cause. thors, some are dead; and some sur- of the first, the most noteworthy vive in a strange shadowy life in an name is of one who has always stood alien time. Mr. Kipling continues to apart and alone, whose verse has compile such mournful productions as shown a conviction that he is speaking "Traffics and Discoveries." But the to a people indifferent to his art. The pipe fails to awaken any responsive work of Mr. William Watson will apechoes. Even those who before bad pear in the future by the side of that approved now turn away their heads. of Mr. Rudyard Kipling as representHe appears like one dancing and ing a conflict of ideas which go down grimacing in the midst of the set grave to the basis of man's being. The very faces of a silent company. And so of methods reflect the diversified ideals. the others. Mr. Street, one of the The' one is detached, elusive, cold; briskest of the original young men, standing apart upon the height; content contributes long letters on Tariff Re- in a serenity and a fastidious taste in form to the columns of the Times. words. The other is colored, barbaric, They suggest nothing so much as the human; tumid and rhetorical; moving return from beyond the grave of the and rejoicing in the every-day world;