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This great game of catching revolutionists napping, of catching the unconventional people in conventional poses, of outmarching and outmanoeuvring progressives till they felt like conservatives, of undermining the mines of Nihilists till they felt like the House of Lords, this great game of dishing the anarchists continued for some time to be his most effective business. It would be untrue to say that he was a cynic; he was never a cynic, for that implies a certain corrupt fatigue about human affairs, whereas he was vibrating with virtue and energy. Nor would it be fair to call him even a sceptic, for that implies a dogma of hopelessness and definite belief in unbelief. But it would be strictly just to describe him at this time, at any rate, as a merely destructive person. He was one whose main business was, in his own view, the pricking of illusions, the stripping away of disguises, and even the destruction of ideals. He was a sort of anti-confectioner whose whole business it was to take the gilt off the gingerbread.
‘Yes, we have to go as far as Thornleigh,’ Milly answered.
‘Nenni!’ said the Cat. ‘I am the Cat who walks by himself, and all places are alike to me. I will not come.’ But all the same he followed Wild Horse softly, very softly, and hid himself where he could hear everything.
“We were provided with mules for ourselves and what we carried with us, and in nine days reached the sea-shore, where we found an English vessel ready to receive both us and the slaves. We went aboard it, and sailed the next day with a fair wind for New England, where I hoped to get an immediate passage to the Old: but Providence was kinder than my expectation; for the third day after we were at sea we met an English man-of-war homeward bound; the captain of it was a very good-natured man, and agreed to take me on board. I accordingly took my leave of my old friend, the master of the shipwrecked vessel, who went on to New England, whence he intended to pass to Jamaica, where his owners lived. I was now treated with great civility, had a little cabin assigned me, and dined every day at the captain’s table, who was indeed a very gallant man, and at first, made me a tender of his affections; but, when he found me resolutely bent to preserve myself pure and entire for the best of husbands, he grew cooler in his addresses, and soon behaved in a manner very pleasing to me, regarding my sex only so far as to pay me a deference, which is very agreeable to us all.
“Certainly then, I shall be charmed,” he said. “It will only be a sketch, you know, but you shall have it this week. Shall I send it to your house?”
At the close of their engagement pupil-teachers are perfectly free in the choice of employment. If they wish to continue in the work of education they may become assistants in elementary schools; or may be examined for admission into a training college;43 or may be provisionally certificated for immediate service in charge of small schools.
Essex could never distinguish very clearly between a personality and an argument. “I call forth Mr. Bacon,” he replied, “against Mr. Bacon”; and then he told the Court how, but a few months previously, his accuser had written letters in his name, to be shown to the Queen, in which his case had been stated “as orderly for me as I could do myself.”
This brings us by a natural transition to a very noble book — the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius. The dispassionate gravity, the noble forgetfulness of self, the tenderness of others, that are there expressed and were practised on so great a scale in the life of its writer, make this book a book quite by itself. No one can read it and not be moved. Yet it scarcely or rarely appeals to the feelings — those very mobile, those not very trusty parts of man. Its address lies further back: its lesson comes more deeply home; when you have read, you carry away with you a memory of the man himself; it is as though you had touched a loyal hand, looked into brave eyes, and made a noble friend; there is another bond on you thenceforward, binding you to life and to the love of virtue.
A reply in the affirmative promptly came back, and five minutes afterward a whale-boat, manned by a sturdy crew steered by Frank, was pulling toward the steamer.
1."There is Guvutu," she suggested.
2.Into this riot of all imaginary innovations Shaw brought the sharp edge of the Irishman and the concentration of the Puritan, and thoroughly thrashed all competitors in the difficult art of being at once modern and intelligent. In twenty twopenny controversies he took the revolutionary side, I fear in most cases because it was called revolutionary. But the other revolutionists were abruptly startled by the presentation of quite rational and ingenious arguments on their own side. The dreary thing about most new causes is that they are praised in such very old terms. Every new religion bores us with the same stale rhetoric about closer fellowship and the higher life. No one ever approximately equalled Bernard Shaw in the power of finding really fresh and personal arguments for these recent schemes and creeds. No one ever came within a mile of him in the knack of actually producing a new argument for a new philosophy. I give two instances to cover the kind of thing I mean. Bernard Shaw (being honestly eager to put himself on the modern side in everything) put himself on the side of what is called the feminist movement; the proposal to give the two sexes not merely equal social privileges, but identical. To this it is often answered that women cannot be soldiers; and to this again the sensible feminists answer that women run their own kind of physical risk, while the silly feminists answer that war is an outworn barbaric thing which women would abolish. But Bernard Shaw took the line of saying that women had been soldiers, in all occasions of natural and unofficial war, as in the French Revolution. That has the great fighting value of being an unexpected argument; it takes the other pugilist’s breath away for one important instant. To take the other case, Mr. Shaw has found himself, led by the same mad imp of modernity, on the side of the people who want to have phonetic spelling. The people who want phonetic spelling generally depress the world with tireless and tasteless explanations of how much easier it would be for children or foreign bagmen if “height” were spelt “hite.” Now children would curse spelling whatever it was, and we are not going to permit foreign bagmen to improve Shakespeare. Bernard Shaw charged along quite a different line; he urged that Shakespeare himself believed in phonetic spelling, since he spelt his own name in six different ways. According to Shaw, phonetic spelling is merely a return to the freedom and flexibility of Elizabethan literature. That, again, is exactly the kind of blow the old speller does not expect. As a matter of fact there is an answer to both the ingenuities I have quoted. When women have fought in revolutions they have generally shown that it was not natural to them, by their hysterical cruelty and insolence; it was the men who fought in the Revolution; it was the women who tortured the prisoners and mutilated the dead. And because Shakespeare could sing better than he could spell, it does not follow that his spelling and ours ought to be abruptly altered by a race that has lost all instinct for singing. But I do not wish to discuss these points; I only quote them as examples of the startling ability which really brought Shaw to the front; the ability to brighten even our modern movements with original and suggestive thoughts.>
It is to this point of the history of man that I shall return when I begin to tell of the triumph of the will for light. Meanwhile I must from this point pursue the story of increasing darkness; for at this very moment, when seemingly the will for the light had gained unprecedented power, the will for darkness gathered its strength for final triumph.
I somehow felt that with him it was impossible to refuse or to say beforehand that I played badly: I sat down obediently at the piano and began to play as well as I could; yet I was afraid of criticism, because I knew that he understood and enjoyed music. The adagio suited the remembrance of past days evoked by our conversation at tea, and I believe that I played it fairly well. But he would not let me play the scherzo. “No,” he said, coming up to me; “you don’t play that right; don’t go on; but the first movement was not bad; you seem to be musical.” This moderate praise pleased me so much that I even reddened. I felt it pleasant and strange that a friend of my father’s, and his contemporary, should no longer treat me like a child but speak to me seriously. Katya now went upstairs to put Sonya to bed, and we were left alone in the parlor.
It was Miss Fortescue’s habit, though those who knew her best least suspected it, to commend herself and those she loved to the special care of God every night. Though she never talked about religion, there was nothing in the world more real to her than her communion with things unseen. But she never lost sight of her undoubted connection also with things seen, and to-night her devotions were tepid. For at dinner Jeannie had been altogether unaccountable, the obsession of gravity and responsibility which had beleaguered her during the past week was altogether absent, and Miss Fortescue wondered what had driven it away. She had laughed and spilled things with the mastery of custom, and after dinner she had stopped in the dining-room with Arthur, smoking a cigarette.