Open main menu

Page:EB1911 - Volume 17.djvu/314

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

estate at Oostacker. He had by this time determined to devote his whole life to poetry, a dedication which his fortune permitted. His career as an author began in 1889, when he published a volume of verse, Serres chaudes, and a play, La Princesse Maleine, the latter originally composed in metre, but afterwards carefully rewritten in prose, the vehicle which the author continued to use for his dramatic work. Maeterlinck was at this time totally unknown, but he became famous through an article by Octave Mirbeau, prominently published in the Paris Figaro, entitled “ A Belgian Shakespeare.” The enthusiasm of this review and the excellence of the passages quoted combined to make Maeterlinck the talk of the town. Maeterlinck, among his Belgian roses, continued to work with extreme deliberation. In 1890 he published, in Brussels, two more plays, L'Intruse and Les Aveugles; followed in 1891 by Les Sept princesses. His strong leaning to mysticism was now explained, or defined, by a translation of the Flemish medieval visionary, the Admirable Ruysbroeck, which Maeterlinck brought out in 1891. In 1892 appeared what has been perhaps the most successful of all his plays on the stage, Pelléas et Mélisande, followed in 1894 by those very curious and powerful little dramas written to be performed by marionettes: Alladine et Palomides, Intérieur and La Mort de Tintagiles. In 1895 Maeterlinck brought out, under the title of Annabella, a translation of Ford's 'Tis Pity She's a Whore, with a preface. Two philosophical works followed, a study on Novalis (1895) and Le Trésor des humbles (1896). In 1896 he returned to drama with Aglavaine et Sélysette and to lyric verse with Douze chansons. A monograph on the ethics of mysticism, entitled La Sagesse et la destinée, was issued, as a kind of commentary on his own dramas, in 1898; and in 1901 Maeterlinck produced a fascinating volume of prose, founded upon observations made in his apiaries at Oostacker, in which philosophy, fancy and natural history were surprisingly mingled—La Vie des abeilles. In 1902 he published Le Temple enseveli and Monna Vanna; in 1903 Joyzelle. In 1901 he began to issue, in Brussels, an edition of his complete dramatic works.

The nature of Maeterlinck's Writings, whether in prose or verse, has been strictly homogeneous. Few poets have kept so rigorously to a certain defined direction in the practice of their art. Whether in philosophy, or drama, or lyric, Maeterlinck is exclusively occupied in revealing, or indicating, the mystery which lies, only just out of sight, beneath the surface of ordinary life. In order to produce this effect of the mysterious he aims at an extreme simplicity of diction, and a symbolism so realistic as to be almost bare. He allows life itself to astonish us by its strangeness, by its inexplicable elements. Many of his plays are really highly pathetic records of unseen emotion; they are occupied with the spiritual adventures of souls, and the ordinary facts of time and space have no influence upon the movements of the characters. We know not who these orphan princesses, these blind persons, these pale Arthurian knights, these aged guardians of desolate castles, may be; we are not informed whence they come, nor whither they go; there is nothing concrete or circumstantial about them. Their life is intense and consistent, but it is wholly of a spiritual character; they are mysterious with the mystery of the movements of a soul. These characteristics, which make the dramatic work of Maeterlinck so curious and unique, are familiar to most readers in Pelléas et Mélisande, but are carried, perhaps, to their farthest intensity in Aglavaine et SélysetTe, which seems to be written for a phantom stage and to be acted by disembodied spirits. In spite of the violence of his early admirers, and of the fact that the form of his dramas easily lent itself to the cheap ridicule of parodists, the talent of Maeterlinck has hardly met with opposition from the criticism of his time. It has been universally felt that his spirit is one of grave and disinterested attachment to the highest moral beauty, and his seriousness, his serenity and his extreme originality have impressed even those who are bewildered by his diaphanous graces and offended at his nebulous mysticism. While the crude enthusiasm which compared him with Shakespeare has been shown to be ridiculous, the best judges combine with Camille Mauclair when he says: “ Maurice Maeterlinck est un homme de génie authentique, un très grand phénomène de puissance mentale à la fin du xixe siècle.” In spite of the shadowy action of Maeter1inck's plays, which indeed require some special conditions and contrivances for their performance, they are frequently produced with remarkable success before audiences who cannot be suspected of mysticism, in most of the countries of Europe. In his philosophical writings Maeterlinck shows himself a disciple of Novalis, of Emerson, of Hello, of the Flemish Catholic mystics, and he evolves from the teachings of those thinkers a system of aesthetics applicable to the theatre as he conceives it.  (E. G.) 

Mafeking, a town in the British Bechuanaland division of the Cape, 870 m. N.E. of Cape Town and 492 m. S.S.W. of Bulawayo by rail, and 162 m. in a direct line W. by N. of Johannesburg. Pop. (1904), 2713. It is built on the open veld, at an elevation of 4194 ft., by the banks of the Upper Molopo, is 9 m. W. of the western frontier of the Transvaal and 15 m. S. of the southern boundary of the Bechuanaland protectorate. The Madibi goldfields are some 10 m. south of the town. Mafeking is thus an important trading and distributing centre for Bechuanaland and the western Transvaal. Here are, too, the chief railway workshops between Kimberley and Bulawayo. The headquarters of the administration for the Bechuanaland protectorate are in the town. The chief buildings are the town-hall, Anglican church, Masonic temple, and hospital.

Mafeking was originally the headquarters of the Barolong tribe of Bechuana and is still their largest station, the native location (pop. 2860) being about a mile distant from the town. It was from Pitsani Pothlugo (or Potlogo), 24 m. north of Mafeking, that Dr Jameson started, on the 29th of December 1895, on his raid into the Transvaal. On the outbreak of the Anglo-Boer war in 1899 Mafeking was invested by a Boer force. Colonel R. S. S. Baden-Powell was in command of the defence, which was stubbornly maintained for 217 days (Oct. 12 to May 17), when a relief column arrived and the Boers dispersed (see Transvaal: History). The fate of the town had excited the liveliest sympathy in England, and the exuberant rejoicings in London on the news of its relief led to the coining of the word mafficking to describe the behaviour of crowds on occasions of extravagant demonstrations of a national kind. In September 1904 Lord Roberts unveiled at Mafeking an obelisk bearing the names of those who fell in defence of the town.

R. S. S. Baden-Powell's Sketches in Mafeking and East Africa (1907) and Lady Sarah Wilson's South African Memories (1909) deal largely with the siege of Mafeking.

Maffei, Francesco Scipione, Marchese di (1675–1755), Italian archaeologist and man of letters, was born at Verona on the first of June 1675. He studied for five years in Parma, at the Jesuit College, and afterwards from 1698 at Rome; and in 1703–1704 he took part as a volunteer in the war of succession, fighting on the Bavarian side at Donauwerth. In 1709 he began at Padua along with Apostolo Zeno and Valisnieri the Giornale dei letterati d'Italia, a literary periodical which had but a short career; and subsequently an acquaintance with the actor Riccoboni led him to exert himself for the improvement of dramatic art in Italy. His Merope, a tragedy, appeared in 1713; Teatro italiano, a small collection of works for presentation on the stage, in 1723–1725; and Le Ceremonie, an original comedy, in 1728. From 1718 he became specially interested in the archaeology of his native town, and his investigations resulted in the valuable Verona illustrata (1731–1732). Maffei afterwards devoted four years to travel in France, England, Holland and Germany. He died at Verona on the 11th of February 1755.

A complete edition of his works appeared at Venice (28 vols., 8vo) in 1790.

Mafia (Maffia), a secret society of Sicily. Its organization and purposes much resemble those of the Camorra (q.v.).

Various derivations are found for the name. Some hold it to be a Tuscan synonym for miseria; others, a corruption of Fr. mauvais