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is an insult to the intelligence of any reader to ask him to accept a statement made on Dr Wichtl's authority.
'World Revolution' is a book of half-truths magnified into whole truths by 'attribution' and innuendo. The author's tendency in her 'French Revolution' was to make her case too complete; and the same tendency is observable in her second book. There certainly were societies working before the Great Revolution to bring about the Brotherhood of Man; there certainly has been a very long Republican tradition in Europe; and there certainly have been secret communistic societies in existence at all times. There have always been Jews working for the capitalist system in countries which befriended them, and working against the State in the countries that persecuted them; but it is very difficult, if not impossible, to build up a four-square edifice of world conspiracy out of these elements and by these methods. The edifice is vulnerable at a hundred points. There may be a secret German-Jewish organisation working for world control at Frankfort, with a G.H.Q. in Moscow; but Mrs Webster has not convinced us of its existence or of its efficiency.
It can do nothing but harm to try to prove that all social unrest is artificial in character, or that, if social grievances and evils exist, they have been deliberately brought about by the 'Hidden Hand' in order to stir up revolt against throne and altar. The best answer to these charges is that offered by Mrs Webster herself, when she says it never occurs to the foreign agitator that the fact of England being a free country might have something to do with the difficulty of rousing in it a spirit of rebellion; that in a country where reforms are in progress revolution can make little headway. In the words of Zenker: 'England possesses no anarchism native to the soil.'
Art. 7.-WILLIAM ERNEST HENLEY.
The Works of William Ernest Henley. Five volumes Macmillan, 1920-21.
SPEAKING of Byron, Henley says that he was not interested in words and phrases, but in the greater truths of destiny and emotion. His empire is over the imagination and the passions.' As a critical judgment this is far less shrewd than was common with Henley, but it is suggestive in relation to his own work as a poet. Henley was a remarkable figure in the literary world of his day, moving in no scholarly seclusion, but coming out into the open field of journalism, and bearing himself always with spirit and dignity. The best of his work is a durable contribution to the finest kind of popular criticism, vivid, far from unlearned, in close touch with the ordinary and confused affairs of life. On any given subject he might have to yield at points to the specialist, but few men have covered so wide a range with so warm an understanding and with a mind so well versed in the evidence of the case. It is as a critic that he will be remembered, and it is of his critical work that there is most to be said. But he produced a good deal of creative work, and, in common with most writers who work in both kinds, he no doubt hoped that it was in this that he came to his best achievement. So that, although on the whole it seems likely that this side of his expression will be the first to fade, it cannot be passed by without consideration.
'He was not interested in words and phrases, but in the greater truths of destiny and emotion.' This, in the last analysis, is true of Henley as a poet. He would have accepted the judgment with pride; and that he would have done so is indicative of his real weakness. When he adds that Byron's empire was over the imagination and the passions, he says more than justly can be put in for himself. Henley's poetic world was not that of passion and imagination, but that of clear-sighted morality, which was sometimes transfigured by indignation. It was in this world that he moved as a master a great deal of his critical work. But it was a world that was, as it always must be, incomplete as an environment for rich poetic creation. In passing, it may be
remarked that it merely is not true to say of Byron tha in his great poetic moods, of which for all his failures he had as many as most poets, he was not interested in words and phrases. Byron knew, as in practice Henley did not, that, while it is passion and imagination tha must condition the poetic faculty, the only possible con summation of that faculty comes through the most exac and disciplined ordering of words and phrases.
Henley brought to his poetry many beautiful qualities He had real courage, he had a great-hearted tenderness he hated Pecksniffs and impure Puritans; he was, i short, a very chivalrous man, with rare intellectua gifts. But he did not perceive that merely to be thes things, while it might do anything else for you, coul not make you into a poet. Every now and again thi fine moral impetus in his being would move with such force as to achieve something which remains memorabl and beyond the reach of any but poets of the mos indisputable magic. Such pieces as 'Matri Delectissimæ and 'On the Way to Kew,' and the well-known 'Out o the night that covers me,' and 'Or ever the knightly years were gone,' are good things for any man to hav written. Coming from the finer airs of Herrick o Marvell or Keats, our minds may not often go to Henley but at other times we find ourselves recalling,
and we do so with a pleasure that we do not question But Henley very rarely came to this excellence in hi verse. The great body of it suffers from the fatal defec of having been subjected to no emotional selection, defect which Henley very thoroughly understood whe considering the work of other men. The sequence a Hospital sketches, for example, is no more than brillian journalism. Brilliant journalism in its place is all ver
well; and, when a man aiming at it accomplishes it, all credit is due to him, but you cannot pass it off as poetry. These poems, one feels all the time as one reads them, are as much an accident as the occasion of Henley's being in the hospital at all. It is no case of carefully selected emotion being projected through an occasion that shall give it final form, as it seems to the poet; it is, rather, a vivid observation catching up this, that, and the other fragment of casual event and setting it down, not with imaginative but merely graphic power. The tranquillity which, as Wordsworth pointed out, is the condition in which emotion must be recollected for the creation of poetry, is precisely the condition in which the poet works with the utmost precision in that matter of words and phrases. And in most of Henley's verse there is unmistakable evidence that he was working, not in tranquillity, but in Fleet Street.
'We flash across the level,
We thunder thro' the bridges,
We sway along the ridges.'
This is a fair example of a prevalent quality in Henley's verse; and it does not begin to exist as poetry.
On the whole, the volume of Poems, running to nearly three hundred pages, is the one of the five forming the admirable collected edition now published that is least likely to serve Henley's memory. He was a skilled writer always and handled many verse forms with ease, but only very rarely in any of them does he come to that last continence which is style. It is interesting to note that he often writes in a manner which is to-day supposed to be very revolutionary, but he seems to have done it without theories, merely because it was easy.
"The stalwart Ships,
The beautiful and bold adventurers!
The tall Policeman,
Flashing his bull's-eye, as he peers
About him in the ancient vacancy,
Tells them this way is safety-this way home.'
That might pass without question in to-morrow morning's anthology, and be held to show how unnecessary
the great English metrical forms had become to progressive genius. The Henley of this kind, however, is already forgotten, but poetry will always have a secure, if modest, place for such forthright excellence as this:
'Some starlit garden gray with dew,
Some chamber flushed with wine and fire,
Are worthy our desire?
Behind, a past that scolds and jeers
'Think on the shame of dreams for deeds,
The slur upon immortal needs,
'Arise! no more a living lie,
And with me quicken and control
There is just a little sheaf of this quality to be garnered from Henley's poems; and he is a fortunate man who can contribute even so much to so great an inheritance.
Before passing to the important Henley, the critic, a word must be said of the four plays that he wrote in collaboration with Stevenson. In these there are passages of patent merit. The Stevenson of 'Treasure Island' could not fail in the course of a long work to find moments of enchantment, flushed with the true broadside manner, and coloured of the best. And, given the situation right and the characters really agog, Henley had a gift of dramatic dialogue-if it was Henley's, as I suspect that could firmly hold the stage for five minutes at a stretch. But these things do not make drama; and, as dramas, these four plays are the merest exercises, and very poor ones at that. It is incredible that two writers of such outstanding ability could at times become so jejune. It is all very well for men of genius to have larks, but even in their larks there must be some conscience, and if there is any conscience in these plays I do not discover it. 'Admiral