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Page:Notes and Queries - Series 9 - Volume 11.djvu/59

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9 th S. XI JAK. 17, 1903.]



death. My answer to this is that although it did win a great popular acceptance, I never expected it to do so. I knew the book to be an expression of idiosyncrasy, and no man knows how much or how little his idiosyncrasy is in harmony with the tem- per of his time until his book has been given to the world. It was the story of ' Aylwin ' that was born of the speculations upon Love and Death ; it was not the speculations that were pressed into the story ; without these speculations there could have been no story to tell. Indeed, the chief fault which / myself should find with ' Aylwin,' if my business were to criticize it, would be that it gives not too little, but too much prominence to the strong incidents of the story a story written as a com- ment on love's warfare with death written to show that confronted as Man is every moment by signs of the fragility and the brevity of human life, the great marvel connected with him is not that his thoughts dwell frequently upon the unknown country beyond Orion where the beloved dead are loving us still, but that he can find time and patience to think upon anything else a story written further to show how terribly despair becomes intensified when a man has lost, or thinks he has lost, a woman whose love was the only light of his world when his soul is torn from his body, as it were, and whisked off on the wings of the 'viewless winds' right away beyond the furthest star, till the universe hangs beneath his feet a trembling point of twinkling light, and at last even this dies away and his soul cries out for help in that utter darkness and loneliness.

" It was to depict this phase of human emotion that both ' Aylwin ' and its sequel, ' The Coming of Love,' were written. They were missives from the lonely watch-tower of the writer's soul, sent out into the strange and busy battle of the world sent out to find, if possible, another soul or two to whom the watcher was, without knowing it, akin."

"There is another question a question of a very different kind raised by several correspondents of Notes and Queries, upon which I should like to say a word- the question as to 'The Veiled Queen,' and the use therein of the phrase ' The Renascence of Wonder' a phrase which has been said to 1 express the artistic motif of the book.' The motif of the book, however, is one of emotion primarily, or it would not have been written. The definition ' The Renascence of Wonder ' is used to express that great revived movement of the soul of man which is generally said to have begun with the poetry of Wordsworth, Scott, Coleridge, and others, and after many varieties of expression reached its culmination in the poems and pictures of Rossetti. The definition was at once accepted by many literary critics in England, France, and Germany as a convenient formula to express what is usually called 'the Romantic Movement.' And quite lately it has again been alluded to, among others, by two well-known critics, Prof. Walter Raleigh and Mr. James Douglas, the latter of whom has affirmed that the definition in question has already ' become a critical commonplace, and has permeated criticism so thoroughly that it is used as literary shorthand for the great generalization which it connotes.' The phrase ' The Renascence of Wonder ' merely indicates that there are two great impulses governing man, and probably not man only but the entire world of conscious life the impulse of acceptance the impulse to take unchallenged and

for granted all the phenomena of the outer world as they are, and the impulse to confront^ these phenomena with eyes of enquiry and wonder."

" There is yet another subject upon which I feel tempted to say a few words. D'Arcy, in referring to Ayl win's conduct in regard to the cross, says :

" ' You were simply doing what Hamlet would have done in such circumstances what Macbeth would have done, and what he would have done who spoke to the human heart through their voices. All men, I believe, have Macbeth's instinct for making ' assurance doubly sure,' and I cannot imagine the man who, entangled as you were in a net of conflicting evidence the evidence of the spiritual and the evidence of the natural world- would not, if the question were that of averting a curse from acting on a beloved mistress, have done as you did. That paralysis of Hamlet's will which followed when the evidence of two worlds hung in equipoise before him, no one can possibly under- stand better than I.'

" Several critics have asked me to explain these words. Of course, however, the question is much top big and much too important to discuss here. I will merely say that Shakspeare having decided in the case of ' Macbeth ' to adopt the machinery he found in Holinshed, and in the case of ' Hamlet ' the machinery he found in the old ' Hamlet,' seems to have set himself the task of realizing the situation of a man oscillating between the evidence of two worlds, the physical and the spiritual a man in each case unusually sagncious, and in each case endowed with the instinct for ' making assur- ance doubly sure,' the instinct which seems, from many passages in his dramas, to have been a special characteristic of the poet's own, such, for instance, as the words in ' Pericles ' :

For truth can never be confirm'd enough, Though doubts did ever sleep.

"Why is it that, in this story, Hamlet, the moody moralizer upon charnel-houses and mouldy bones, is identified with the jolly companion of the Mermaid, the wine-bibbing joker of the Falcon and the Apollo saloon ? It is because Hamlet is the most elaborately painted character in literature. It is because the springs of his actions are so pro- foundly touched, the workings of his soul so thoroughly laid bare, that we seem to know him more completely than we knew pur most intimate friends. It is because the sea which washes between personality and personality is here, for once, rolled away, and we and this Hamlet touch, soul to soul. That is why we ask whether such a character can be the mere evolvement of the artistic mind at work. That is why we exclaim, ' The man who painted Hamlet must have been painting himself.' The perfection of the dramatist's work betrays him. For, really and truly, no man can paint another, but only himself, and what we call ' character painting' is, at the best, but a poor mixing of painter and painted, a 'third something' between these two, just as what we call colour and sound are born of the play of undulation upon organism."


2, Kirkstone Villas, Hounslow, W.

CIRCUMFLEX ACCENT (9 th S. x. 346. 493). At the latter reference MR. LATHAM directs attention to the fact that the circumflex accent is not used in the word thtdtre when