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were to meet at the Gare de Lyon, but instead encountered outside my house, whither Alexandre rushed dripping to propose adjournment of the escapade. An adjourned escapade is an egg without salt. We should reach Fontainebleau by noon, when probably the sun would be shining, and what did it matter if the heaven threatened deluge meanwhile? Like the late Jules Favre, Alexandre did not mind being shot but he disliked being wet; nevertheless, like the urbane and gallant lad he is, he yielded to my wish, and we began our tramp by the modest train. I proved in the right. By the time we got to Brunoy the rain-clouds were clearing off, and we found the town on the edge of the forest radiant in the tempered brilliance of a restored sun. Here the thing was to find a cheap and clean little inn, where men in blouses were content to feed, for we had settled to pay no more than seven or eight francs a day each for food and shelter. "At the Burgundy Sign" in the Rue de France accomplished our dream. It exceeded it even, for, deeming us illustrious foreigners in disguise, owing to my Britannic metal countenance and Alexandre's gray felt and tan shoes, it awarded us a little dining-room all to our two selves. We may have been taken for bride and bridegroom for anything I know. Anyhow, the cabinet particulier (not so very hidden that servants and proprietors could not refresh their sight by constant vision of us, through the glass wall which separated us from kitchen and corridor) was not charged in the bill nor was light upstairs or downstairs. If the woman was rather glum, the man, a jolly Burgundian, made up for it in civility. I wish you could find in any village at home sheets so white, beds so comfortable, rooms so clean as those which Alexandre and I enjoyed "At the Burgundy Sign" for two francs a night. And how we needed those
beds with a much more liberal supply of water and larger basins when night found us shut within bedroom walls from the murmuring forest after our twenty-five or thirty kilometres on foot. True we spread out these kilometres over twelve hours, starting at eight A.M. and ending at eight P.M., by several prolonged visits and a siesta. We usually came out somewhere at half-past twelve where there was a restaurant, an inn of some kind, and here we lunched for two-and-a-half or three francs. Then at five parched throats clamored for a bock, and eight o'clock found us restored to rest, ablutions, dinner, cigarettes and coffee, with feet on chairs, reduced to helpless imbecility by the excessive intoxication of "the great air."
As an interim in intellectual labor I know of none so refreshing and complete. Your eye is sufficiently exercised by the glowing and varied charms of the forest, whose murmuring fascination is ever new and restful. There is no call on big adjectives, æsthetic attitudes or exhausting reveries. You take your treat in a quiet mood, and are quiescently grateful. Everywhere you are pleased, nowhere surprised. It is a delicate enchantment that seizes you, an idle artistic sense of satisfaction.
The Fontainebleau of tradition, the theatrical environment of the gentleman of the paint-box and white umbrella seems to be a thing of the past, or else to hide itself discreetly from the vagabonds' scrutiny. Not a white umbrella did Alexandre and I encounter, not a velvet jacket or blouse, and no slouched felt but his own. Even at Barbizon there was no atmosphere of Bohemia, or midnight revelry, or rustic impropriety. Siron's is quite a refined institution, where you pay eight francs a day for the privilege of sleeping in a tidy brand-new bedroom and where you may gaze at a few daubs on the
dining-room walls understood to be so many strokes of homage to the ancient resort and shelter of art. The landlady assured us, with a look of relief, that the painters had all forsaken Barbizon, and only Marlotte had the misfortune to harbor a stray animal from time to time. The foundations of the artistic colony lie alas! in ruins.
"We," she said arrogantly, "only receive bourgeoises families." Opposite us sat at lunch a lady Alexandre was quick to qualify as anything but that accepted article. She and the waiter seemed to be on intimate terms, if that were sufficient indication of her sphere, and she afterwards jingled atrociously on an atrocious piano.
I had approached Barbizon in a flutter, remembering Stevenson's charming sketch of the place. I own I was grievously disappointed, and, instead of lingering there a week as I had projected, I nowise regretted to make that same afternoon for Chailly. The sun was dipping westward and a deep scarlet glow lay broadly over Millet's famous plain. One unconsciously listened for the Angelus bell and looked to see the peasants take their immortal attitude. True there were two peasants cutting corn that gleamed like wisps of gold in the ruddy light, and a Philistine was photographing them with barbarous complacency; but they wore too much the self-conscious air of the drama, they were too ostensibly on view to fulfil the requisites of the picturesque. Still the scene was beautiful and impressive; a prolonged panorama of sunset effects and such quietude as belongs to the great plain and the enlarged solemnity of evening.
The long, breezy high road, and the ever varying, ever satisfying charms of woodland besiege the senses with their insidious mirth. Not content with green splendor, the tall trees have swathed their barks in red glamour, and gleam in the softened rays like bur
nished pillars, and when you wish for a change from the interminable perspective of the columned aisle and sunflecked shadow, you have the naked gray of rocks and stretches of broad white stone to stumble over or recline against at will. You may, as we did, play at losing your way; but even if you have taken a first prize as imbecile you will not succeed in doing so for half an hour-thanks to the remorseless blue arrows. And then, when tired of nature, you may stretch yourself under the friendly trees and fall asleep. Nobody will heed you, for the artists have vanished, and their successors, the cyclists, will not perceive
It is surprising how easily books may be dispensed with when you take to vagabondage. On the other hand, food and liquid refreshment assume quite a disproportionate importance. Alexandre and I, lounging under a tree, miles away from a restaurant, took a gruesome satisfaction in bringing the water of envy to our mouths by talking of the ices and iced drinks we yearned for, and food we should have swallowed uncomplainingly in Paris here seemed to us of intolerable mediocrity. I brought several books with me, and read, I believe, a couple of pages of one without in the least knowing what I read. Tobacco was our chief delight, and it was a melancholy moment when we discovered in the very heart of the forest that we had come to the end of our double supply of cigarettes. It was no consolation, but the reverse, to reflect that the bag I had despatched that morning on to Paris from the inn contained a packet of Havana cigarettes smuggled a little while before across the Spanish frontier.
We had arranged to follow the long, long Melun road and there catch the night train to Paris. I never can forget.
That Melun road The more we ad
vanced the longer it seemed to grow. I had imagined a kilometre to be a small affair and began to regard it as a league. I had tramped that morning since eight, and nine at night still found me trudging senselessly and dinnerless alongside of my unfortunate comrade, whose business it soon became to drag me like baggage suspended from his arm. There was no diligence, no carriage, and the last train for Paris stopped at Melun at half-past ten. A quaint old peasant woman, holding two hideous little girls by the hand, passed us as I lay half dead on an edge of grass-plot to the stupefaction of Alexandre, who saw no way out of the dilemma, since it was physically impossible to carry me the remaining five kilometres. Alexandre is a genial and courteous lad, and began to compliment madame on her charming children. This led to talk, and the old woman, smiling delightfully, was strong in her dissuasion against the continued tramp. It was tempting Providence, she vowed, and we were welcome to a rest in her house and a bowl of bouillon. But I was bound to reach Paris that night, and made a gallant, I may say superhuman effort. By shutting my eyes and cling. ing to my companion's arm with both hands clasped as a stay, I was able to
walk almost unconsciously, for nearly four kilometres. But the fifth needed an effort beyond my force, and I began to fear tetanus. I had no notion what the mere projecting of one foot beyond the other may mean, how much numbed pain it may contain. More ment became a sort of nightmare, against which I was not even able to cry out. Every power of the body seemed to come to a standstill, speech as well as sight, and I was imperfectly conscious of being alive. What all this implied for poor Alexandre may easily be guessed, but he bore himself as a hero, neither impatient nor complaining, though mightily vexed with himself for encouraging me to neglect the diligence of Barbizon; the result of my defective knowledge of the length of a kilometre. Were ever eyes more gratified than ours by sight of the lights of Melun? Was ever the ugly protection of railway bridge and arch more comfortable assurance in the breathing fragrance of night than those of that station, as we limpingly approached it? Dinner was out of the question, but there was time for Alexandre to dart up the town, as soon as he had left me reposing on railway cushions, for bread and ham, which we devoured in the train, and midnight found us restored to lamplit and noisy Paris.
MIDNIGHT BY THE SEA.
Waves of the wild North Sea,
From the dumb agony
Of dreams awaking,
How sweet within the loosened arms of sleep
To lie in silence deep,
Lone listening to your many throated roar
Along the caverned shore
In midnight darkness breaking-breaking-breaking.
THE LIVING AGE:
A Weekly Magazine of Contemporary Literature and Thought.
(FOUNDED BY E. LITTELL IN 1844.)
SEVENTH SERIES. NO. 2932. SEPT. 15, 1900.
FROM BEGINNING Vol. CCXXVI.
THE SLOW GROWTH OF MORAL INFLUENCE IN POLITICS.
The subject of this article is the slow growth of moral influence in political affairs, and the practical question that rises out of it and haunts the mind of every educated and thoughtful person -how best to expedite and invigorate this slow growth.
Bearing in mind that the teaching of the New Testament is professedly accepted by most of us as furnishing the imperative rules and standards of moral conduct, and that it has been so accepted in Europe for many centuries, and setting over against this fact the prevalent opinions, aims and standards of action that meet us everywhere, in any country, alike in the language and temper of leading statesmen, in the tone of the press and of public opinion, in party politics, in national policy and in international relationships, there can be no doubt as to the slowness of the growth.
As Christians we believe that the moral principles of the Sermon on the Mount are destined to become the dominating influence in public as in private
affairs; but as observers of the prevalent phenomena of public life we have to acknowledge that amid many doubtful signs the one thing which stands out clearly in this evolutionary process is that a thousand years are but as one day, so slow is the rate of advancement.
It might even be maintained, with some show of reason, that while in Christian countries and under Christian influences individual morality has risen as never before or elsewhere, public or political moral standards rose more rapidly in Israel under the Old Testament covenant, and this because of the untiring insistence and emphasis with which the great national prophets preached the duty of national righteousness and kept the living God before the eyes and mind of the people as the Judge of all national and corporate life.
But, however this may be, there stands before us the plain fact, and it is a fact far too generally disregarded or ignored, that after eighteen centuries of Christian teaching and influence in Europe, a great deal of our public life, both at home and abroad, although in the hands of Christian statesmen, is to all practical intents and purposes still carried on as if the Sermon on the Mount had never been spoken, and
only the lower or selfish motives had a rightful claim to exercise dominion in practical affairs.
It is not that action and practice are constantly falling short of the acknowledged and accepted standard of ethical duty. This we should expect to occur in public as in private matters.
The point is that honest and good men do not seem to recognize those standards of ethical judgment which they accept without question in private life, as having the same claim on their allegiance in the arena of politics, or in the relationships of nations. "Blindness in part is happened to Israel."
We turn, for instance, to that sphere which furnishes the most glaring instances of this strange inconsistency, the sphere of international politics.
In these we see how again and again, there is hardly more than a thinly veiled pretence of any appeal to the higher standards of ethical obligation, or to the spirit of Christianity.
The terms in which national or imperial aims and policy are defined and the spirit in which international affairs are conducted are such as to make it only too plain that the whole structure of foreign politics, and also a great part of internal politics, are built upon a foundation of selfishness, jealousy, rivalry, greed of power and wealth, and not upon any higher or Christian basis.
Thus twenty-six centuries after the prophet Isaiah, twenty-three centuries after Socrates, and nineteen centuries after the Manifestation of Christ, we see, so to speak, whole continents of life, opinion and practice, still under the dominion of that spirit of selfish greed which St. Paul denounced as pleonexia, and held up to view as lying very near to the root of all that is vicious in human life.
By way of illustration reference might be made to many contemporary
events or to events within the memory of most of us; but it may suffice to note the impression made by the current phenomena of public affairs on some of the great writers and thinkers. Mr. Herbert Spencer1 has forcibly reminded us that men seem to give their allegiance, as it were, to two religions, the religion of amity and the religion of enmity, for use in different departments of life and conduct. The real homage is paid in large measure, if not in the larger measure, to the code dietated by enmity.
From the books of the New Testament we take our religion of amity. Greek and Latin epics and histories serve as gospels for our religion of enmity.
In the education of our youth we devote a small portion of time to the one, and a large portion of time to the other.
A priori it might be thought impossible that men should continue through life holding two doctrines which are mutually destructive. But this ability to compromise between conflicting beliefs is very remarkable.
A boy, while growing up, acquires in common with all around him the habit of living by first one and then the other of his creeds, as the occasion may demand; and so great is the power of custom that he does this in ordinary cases without any distinct feeling of inconsistency, and by the time that be reaches maturity the habit has been established in his life. So educated, he will enlarge at one moment on the need of maintaining the national honor, and he thinks it derogatory or unpa triotic or mean to arbitrate about an aggression, trespass, or difference, instead of avenging it by war; at another moment he calls his household together and leads them in the beautiful prayer in which he asks God to forgive his
1 Study of Sociology.