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makes this book so vital. The warmest praise of the Master is there, and yet courteous alarm-bells are rung on every page.
This doctrine of rejection compels Mrs. Meynell to be a vigilant critic of Ruskin's style. Yet there is an eager, almost laughing, recognition of the fine things. Thus, from some pages "beautiful beyond praise" in "Unto this Last," Mrs. Meynell gives:
All England may. if it chooses, become one manufacturing town; and Englishmen, sacrificing themselves to the good of humanity, may live diminished lives in the midst of noise, of darkness, and of deadly exhalation. But the world cannot become a factory or a mine. . . . Neither the avarice nor the rage of men will ever feed them. ... So long as men live by bread, the far away valleys must laugh as they are covered with the gold of God, and the shouts of the happy multitude ring round the winepress and the well.
Of censure there is some, too, and it is in this direction that we encounter with distinct regret, what we may call Mrs. Meynell's ukase method of criticism. Page after page passes, and the criticism is gracious, experimental, or proven; then comes a ukase, an emanation of opinion, decisive in inverse proportion to its needlessness. These ukases are in your hands before you recover speech. You would exclaim, you would summon assistance, but Mrs. Meynell passes on in the gentle, deaf autocracy of her mood. The ceremony of delivering a ukase cannot be better illustrated than by her remarks on one of the most famous passages in the "Seven Lamps of Architecture." She says:
Ruskin's description of that landscape... is a finished work, exquisite with study of leaf and language but yet not effective in proportion to its own beauty and truth. Ruskin wrote it in youth, in the impulse of his own discovery of language, and of all that English in its rich modern freshness could do under his mastery-and it is too much, too charged, too anxious. Some sixty lines of "word-painting" are here, and they are less than this line of a poet
"Sunny eve in some forgotten place."
This refraining phrase is of more avail to the imagination than the splendid subalpine landscape of The Seven Lamps.
That is a ukase. How civilly you would have accepted the whole judgment up to the words "too anxious"! But this line of poetry-torn from some antipodean context, flicked into the wit
That is the perfect ukase. Note the intensification of authority by the withholding of Gibbon's name until the air has been darkened with his sin. But is it fair, or quite in the scheme of things, thus to ban Gibbon in a casual breath; to flout en passant, the reader's probable cherished opinion of Gibbon as if it were nothing? We picture Gibbon's own astonishment when this judgment is whispered along "the line of the Elysian shades." He may have expected it, may have humbled himself for its coming; but the manner of its coming he could not have foreseen. "In parenthesis!" we hear him gasp, as he sinks back on his couch of asphodel.
Well, but it is not enough that an interpreter should have prayed three times a day "in his chamber toward Jerusalem," or that he should pronounce the handwriting on the wall elegant or not-the question is, Can he translate its meaning? In this case the question may be hard to answer. Our own difficult, incompact impression of Mrs. Meynell's interpretation of Ruskin-itself necessarily difficult and incompact-flies to a phrase, or rather to two words, which Mrs. Meynell brings into vital relation with Ruskin Lesson. She shows that, when dealing
with the Mystery, Ruskin is great; but, "if ever he has explained in vain, registered an inconsequence, committed himself to failure, it has been in the generous cause of possible rescue-it has been in the Lesson." The nobility of her exposition of Ruskin dwells centrally in the fact that, while she is sometimes doubtful about the Lesson, or is obliged to show (by its arduous compilation) that it was not too clearly or consistently delivered, or is constrained to deny it as a working precept, she makes us feel how glorious were those dealings with the hidden Mystery which issued in the peccant Teaching. And the vision of Ruskin which she leaves in the mind, in the mind of the present writer, is that of a man who spent his life in turning over with his great clean hand-first in hope, and at last in weariness-the whole assembled result of human art, and the registers of its origins. Anon he rose, like one drunken with beauty, afflicted with more purpose than he could contain or control, to teach from a full, but too particular, inspiration. And because in its divine frenzy the Lesson was not aimed, shaped, timed, proved, peptonized-it was laughed into the street by men whose hands stayed in their coat-tails. It would be easy for us to show again and again how Mrs. Meynell, having wrestled with and reluctantly confuted Ruskin's Lesson, has convinced us of his hold on the Mystery. And one comes to be very grateful for these long compensating swings of the pendulum, and for the smaller reparations. One notes how, after some pages of particularly destructive criticism on "The Two Paths," a dainty justice hastens to offer this:
If I have treated this book with controversy, it was impossible to do otherwise. But out of its treasures of wisdom take the page in praise of Titian, which ends in the passage: "Nobody
cares much at heart about Titian; only there is a strange undercurrent of everlasting murmur about his name, which means the deep consent of all great men that he is greater than they."
And surely with this quotation went a tact in its choice, for Ruskin's fate and Titian's are not alike. Ruskin's bitter disappointment when he found that the Turner water-colors in the National Gallery, which he had arranged with incredible labor, had been absolutely forgotten by the public and allowed to fade by Providence, produces a fine comment. Ruskin had said: "That was the first mystery of life to me," and Mrs. Meynell says:
The reader will remember that Turner's pictures were not only neglected by men, but also irreparably injured and altered by time; to witness this was to endure the chastisement of a hope whereof few men are capable. Surely it is no obscure sign of greatness in a soul-that it should have hoped so much. Ninety-and-nine are they who need no repentance, having not committed the sin of going thus in front of the judgments of heavenheralds-and have not been called back to rebuke as was this one. In what has so often been called the dogmatism of Ruskin's work appears this all noble fault.
Upon the discovery of this mystery crowd all the mysteries. Who that has suffered one but has also soon suffered all? In this great lecture ["The Mystery of Life and its Arts"] Ruskin conThe Academy.
fesses them one by one, in extremities of soul. And he is aghast at the indifference not of the vulgar only, but of poets. The seers themselves have paltered with the faculty of sight. ton's history of the fall of the angels is unbelievable to himself, told with artifice and invention, not a living truth presented to living faith, nor told as he must answer it in the last judgment of the intellectual conscience. "Dante's . . . ." The indifference of the world as to the infinite question of religion, the indifference of all mankind as to the purpose of its little life, of every man as to the effect of his little lifein an evil hour these puzzles throng the way to the recesses of thought.
We have shown the temper and tendency of Mrs. Meynell's book. are now asked whether evolved from Ruskin's teaching a clear resultant that one may copy into one's pocket-book, and say, "At last this is Ruskin's teaching," we answer that she has failed to do this-because it was not possible. All the more is one impressed by the patience which footed every inch of the way to a foreseen vagueness. But Mrs. Meynell has set many things in order, and has put some things in a bright light; she has greatly distinguished Ruskin's failure from his success; and she has written an intrinsically fine book, of which the labor and truthful speaking adumbrate the labor and truthful speaking of the Master.
FORGIVE OUR DEBTS, AS WE DO NOT
Ere yet thy heart be hard and dry,
One hoarded hate shuts all the sky,
And turns the Father's heart to stone.
THE SAVING OF WYLLARD'S WHEAT.
One day in early spring, when the rolling levels of frost-bleached grass stretched back as yet untouched with green towards the horizon, two men who risked much upon the weather that year talked together beside the long, black furrows of Imrie's ploughing, which alone broke the gray-white waste of Manitoban plain. One was rich in stock and lands, though the free prairie settlers did not like him, for Evanson Wyllard of Carrington still retained the less pleasant characteristics of an insular Briton, and ruled over his fifteen hundred acres in feudal fashion, neither granting nor accepting favors from any man. Nevertheless, as a matter of business, they broke the virgin prairie soil for him at so much an
The other was poor, though of good up-bringing, and, as sometimes happens, loved the rich man's daughter, which was presumptuous of him, for Wyllard was sowing twelve hundred acres of wheat that spring, while Imrie had sunk his last dollar and pledged his credit to sow three hundred. Still, the prairie folk greatly preferred Imrie, for he gave of his little with open hands, and borrowed seed-wheat and implements as freely as he lent them. Neither did he abuse the country which provided him with a living, as was sometimes Wyllard's custom. He stood with his feet in the black loam of the spring ploughing beside his big oxteam, a bronzed, athletic figure in blue canvas overalls, refined rather than roughened by sturdy labor, speaking fast and eagerly. Wyllard sat in his Ontario buggy silent and grim, a hard man, so the settlers said, with iron-gray hair and piercing eyes, listening with ironical patience until the other had done.
"I'm sorry. It's perfectly impossible, even absurd," he said then. “Constance was carefully trained in England, and when she marries it must be in accordance with her station. She shall not, in any case, come down to the rough life you could offer her, all of which I tried to make plain before. This time you must plainly understand I forbid all correspondence, decline to reopen the subject, and request you to cease your visits at my house."
Shaking the reins he drove away, and Imrie's hands clenched tighter on the stilts of the breaker plough, as with a sense of cold dismay he stared across the waste of rolling prairie. Away on the crest of a rise two figures were silhouetted against crystalline blue, one slender and girlish, a graceful picture with the broncho beneath her, though he frowned as he recognized a distant and favorite kinsman of Wyllard's in the other. They turned and dipped behind the rise as the buggy approached, and that was the last of Constance Wyllard Imrie saw for many a day. Afterwards he stood still, seeing nothing, while his thoughts went back to the weary years of struggle since he had taken his younger son's portion, and, turning his back on the overcrowded mother country, set out to seek his fortune in the wider spaces of the West. Fortune proved herself strangely hard to win. Two crops had the gophers eaten, and one was blighted by frost, but, too proud to own himself beaten or ask for aid from home, Imrie held on, living very hardly and working harder, until at last the luck began to turn. Also the prairie settlers, ready as usual to help the man with courage to help himself, gave him much more than sage advice, while, so their wives said, the winsome Con
stance Wyllard looked on him kindly, for Imrie was a handsome man.
"You won't raise twenty bushels the acre that way. No, nor yet fifteen," said the burly Ontario Jasper, who went by ripping up the stiff, black clods with the disc-harrows. "Saw you talking to old Cast-iron-no business of mine, but I guess it was about the girl. Greatly stuck on himself, and going nap on a big crop again this year he is. Well, you just lie by. Harvest frost will fetch him sure some day, and then you'll get her easy."
Imrie was not a new-comer, and therefore did not resent the speech. He knew it was made with frank goodwill, and he shook off the dull, cold feeling as he settled the bright share in the furrow anew. Perhaps in due time, he thought, this obstacle might be overcome as others had been, and meanwhile there was much to do if he would keep faith with the Brandon implement dealers who had shown faith in him. He, too, was staking his all, for the sake of Constance Wyllard, on a record crop. So while the autocrat of Carrington drove home, spoke sharp words to his daughter, and spent an unpleasant hour over accounts which proved to him that hail or frost in harvest might spell ruin, Imrie's heart grew lighter as he went on with his ploughing. He had learned on the lone, hard prairie that there is little a man cannot win by singleness of purpose and the power of tireless labor.
Thus, as the tardy northern spring melted into burning summer, and an emerald flush that presently vanished again, crept over the whitened sod, the blue-green wheat grew tall and strong upon the holdings of rich man and poor alike. Imrie's heart grew soft at times as he watched it. He had toiled twelve hours a day, sometimes fifteen, and now the kindly earth promised to return what he had entrusted it to him a hundredfold, while every bushel brought
him so much nearer to Constance Wyllard. She also believed in his eventual success, so a last hurried letter written before her departure to England said, which bade him wait and be of a good courage. Then mellow autumn came, while for once the early frost did not, and under the blaze of noonday sun, and by the light of the moon in the clear, cool nights, when the air was filled with the smell of burning grass, the tall wheat went down before the clinking knives and tossing arms of the Ontario.binders. Swath by swath the yellow sea, which swayed in long ripples four feet above the prairie, was piled up in sheaves, and the smoke of the big thrasher drifted night and day across the dusty plain which was now gray-white again. Wyllard thrashed and stored his wheat in strawpile granaries, waiting for a rise. Imrie thrashed and sold, and when the accounts arrived, gazed at them with misty eyes, remembering how for three hopeless years he held on, denying himself everything for the sake of his land, and now the land was faithfully paying it back to him.
Thus it happened that when the last bushel had been accounted for, Imrie gave his neighbors a supper, and the scattered settlers drove their wives and sweethearts in from thirty miles around to rejoice with him over a record crop. Under radiant moonlight, they danced quaint country dances of Caledonia, and measures of ancient France, on the crackling prairie-sod which rolled back from the inky shadows of the homestead mile after mile to the edge of the great circle where it cut the skyline. The music was in keeping with the sense of vastness and distance, for a minor note wailed through its merriment, and the Quebec habitant, whose battered violin evolved it, had been handed down part by forebears, who came over with Jacques Cartier and had learned the rest among the whis