Arthur W. Lewis
By the Author
LEONARD SMITHERS AND CO
5 OLD BOND STREET W
THE ENTRANCE TO FAIRYLAND: A PREFATORY STORY ... ... I
THE JOURNEY ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 4
VARIATIONS ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 9
THE GAME ... ... ... ... ... .. ... ... ... 24
TWO CHAPTERS ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 26
AT THE ENTRANCE ... ... ... ... .. ... ... 35
VENUS AND THE PAINTER ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 38
THE DESIRE FOR IMMORTALITY ... .. ... ... ... ... 41
THE WITCH ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 60
SATAN'S PICTURE ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 64
THE TEMPLE OF BEAUTY ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 71
THE MILLIONAIRE ... ... .. ... ... ... ... 79
AN ENTERTAINMENT ... ... ... ... ....... ... 84
THE BANQUET OF THE DESPERATE ... ... ... ... .... 88
Two STORIES ... ... ... ... .. .. ... ... ... 91
THE BOOK OF TRUE IDEAS ... ... ... ... ... ... 93
THE PICTURE BOOK ... ... ... ... ... ... ... .. 97
THE PRINCE'S DREAMS ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 102
THE PALACE IN THE SEA ... ... ... ... ... ... ... o8
THE PHOTOGRAPHER ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 121
A DAY AND A DREAM ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 129
BEFORE YOU WERE BORN ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 133
GROTESQUES ... ... ... ...... ... ... ... ... 136
THE BOOKSELLER ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 143
FAIRYTOWN ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 149
THE DELIVERANCE ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 152
A DAY DREAM ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 159
THE MAD MASQUERADERS ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 16I
A VERY SIMPLE ADVENTURE ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 164
THE LAND OF LAZINESS ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 172
THE UNBUILT TOWER ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 177
THE MISER ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 181
A LOVE STORY ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 186
THE DEPARTURE FROM FAIRYLAND: THE CONCLUDING STORY ... 200
DINNER AT A RESTAURANT: A STORY AS APPENDIX ... ... ... 203
LONDON FAIRY TALES
THE ENTRANCE TO FAIRYLAND:
A PREFATORY STORY.
"UNFORTUNATELY," I said, "you have succeeded in injuring
me. The coarse words that you have spoken and forgotten,-
I shall not be able to forget them; I will not again speak to
you nor see you, yet I shall constantly hear your evil folly
repeated in my brain."
He stared at me with hatred, he smiled at me with scorn.
As he stared, my reason became dumb; I did not know what
words the strange, hard, loud voice of hate was about to speak
out of my mouth:
As he smiled at me with scorn, I changed into a dog and
I growled confused words of rage. He beat me with a stick;
I bit him and ran into the street. I ran in and out between
legs and skirts and wheels and hoofs,-I do not know where
Then I turned to a'quieter street; the houses were dark
LONDON FAIRY TALES.
and colourless with the city's dirt, and there was no light in
any of the windows.
Suddenly I saw a curious building; in its steeple there
was a projecting window, protected by tracery through which
light shone; over the door curved lines of iron supported an
inscribed stone, on which was written "The Entrance to Fairy-
land ";-a faint gleam came through the pierced carving of the
half-opened door out of the darkness within.
I pushed aside a little of the curtain that hung behind the
door; then, with a joyous bark, I entered into the light.
An old man was talking to a beautiful lady; I passed
under a table and went up to her; she stroked me and even
kissed my hairy nose. Then it was good and joyful to be a
dog. As she looked at me with kind eyes I changed into a
man again. Hate was silent in my brain, and Love stretched
out his arms to embrace the universe.
"I am glad to see the guest," said the old man, "who
comes to our feast."
A poor beast, unworthy to sit with you," I answered.
"That you have been a dog is unalterable," said the lady;
"but you are now a man and we are glad to see you."
"Is it because I am with you that I am a man? If I
were always with you, I should be removed from all folly ; I
should be turned towards the entrance to Heaven on earth,-
I should be serious and move towards an end."
Let me tell you then," said the old man, that he who
can read my unspoken thoughts shall marry my daughter."
1 looked at him.
Then my mouth was opened, and I was astonished at my
own words. .
"Take my daughter," said the old man;" he who reads the
thoughts of Wisdom shall live with Beauty."
THE ENTRANCE TO FAIRYLAND.
My beautiful Soul," I said, will you live with me?"
"I shall always love you, but you will forget me."
Now the table was set ready for a feast ; I took a glass
from it, I threw it violently on to the ground,-it broke into
"May it be thus with me if ever [ forget you," I
The guests who came to eat with us were not, as I had
expected, Kings and Princes of Fairyland, and the most
beautiful women ever on the earth-they were men and women
from the streets of London.
When we had finished eating, the old man said: "Will not
each of our guests tell us a fairy tale, we should like to hear
But they smiled, and sat unmoved and scornful, and said
they did not know any fairy tales.
She who was to be my wife told them that she desired it,
and everyone was ready to speak.
"Before you begin," said the old man, "I should like to
say a few words as Preface.
The study of the Impossible is a good stimulant for all
who are burdened with the difficulties of life; but such an
audience demands a feeling of capacity for seriousness even
from the narrator of the most irregular fairy tales.
This feeling might be attained, I fancy, if you could bring
the Impossible into contact with the routine of life, so that it
were combined with the actual serious emotions, thoughts,
questions, and surroundings of ordinary London life of to-day.'
Then each, in turn, told a tale, and most of them seemed
to heed the old man's words.
And the Tales that follow here are what I remember of
I WAS tired of ugly walls and of colourless crowds and of the
noisy city that is usually enveloped in a cloud of smoke.
I was tired of the unmoral warfare of commerce and of the
monotonous weariness of painful circumstances and of deadly,
useless vexations that extinguish the light of the soul.
I was tired of the artistic, who, being surrounded by ugli-
ness, thirst for every mental stimulant, however maddening it
be, and who absorb themselves in a painful love of dreams.
I was tired of the well-fed society that calls itself respect-
able; it gossips about people and depicts their meanness and
absurdity without seeming to know that there is a soul of
beautiful nobility in every man. I was tired of dulness, and I
was very tired of laughter.
I was tired of starvation, and I was tired of gorging.
I was tired of reformers, who continually argue and build
perfect Utopias with words.
I was tired of my friend Misty's didactic tales. He read me
"If the world rested for a few days," said the Reformer,
" we should see whose work is needed. Fire and force would
destroy the evil and unnecessary.
"Then we should see before us the Temple of Beauty,
whence flow the waters of Life.
Now we sacrifice ourselves to cowardice and convenience,
and we praise our self-sacrifice; we are more moderate than
reason, and more cowardly than righteousness."
With fire and force the crowd applauded his words.
Without skill and weapons it is impossible to kill neatly.
Many corpses looked as if they had been dragged to death
by a hook in their entrails or in their heads, rather than as if
they had been killed in a well-arranged slaughter-house .
The ugly towns danced slowly away.
All men again enjoyed "the sky above and the pure air
and the life of the fields," and they worked in the service of
Then the Reformer went to his beloved, and said:
Even when men were slaves, and ugly streets surrounded
them, and the future was a doubtful, hopeless task; when men
said in the morning,' Would that the day's work were done,
and that to-morrow's never came'; even then how happy were
they who walked together with love.
No one then knew what I desired.
LONDON FAIRY TALES.
"I have not entirely failed, but I am lonely and tired, and
only with you is there rest."
And she answered:
My life was a life in which buying new clothes and wear-
ing them were great events; a life of comfortable and ugly
monotony; I judged men and flattered them, but seldom sym-
pathised with them, because I saw so little of their lives.
Because of their ignorance women's power was often evil.
"But you "
I was tired of such didactic tales.
One night I said to myself: I think the Recording
Angel must be very tired; he has always to write all the dull
deeds of this London and of the rest of the world."
At that instant, hands seized me from behind; I was
carried out of my bedroom. Beneath me, in the darkness
diapered with golden gas-lights, rumbled a confusion of noisy
I was hurried through the air.
I was placed on a rocky shelf that projected from the side
of a precipitous cliff. My face was towards the cliff. I began
to climb upwards, panting and perspiring with fear. I placed
my feet with care, but sometimes one slipped from an
insufficient projection. A few times I looked for an instant
downwards into the darkness and trembled with the fear of
becoming giddy. Yet I said to myself in my fear, Are you
not tired of life? If then it is signed, sealed, and determined
that you shall now die, die bravely and be at rest for ever."
The cliff seemed endless above me. I talked aloud to my
lonely and tired self.
At last I reached the summit and saw before me a house.
I entered, and a lady advanced towards me. She was pale
and weary-looking, but her eyes and hair were dark and
"You are hungry and tired and stained," she said; "when my
maidens have washed you and clothed you, we will eat and
once again be happy together; we will forget all the troubles
of the past and all the terrors of the future."
While I ate she related to me a tale that I will not spoil
by retelling. In it the works of man were endowed with magic
qualities and spoke eloquently ; in it the most grotesque
monsters and the most beautiful men and women appeared
before me. The most astonishing occurrences succeeded each
other, and the most familiar events were strangely beautiful;
so that nothing seemed so profane or so sacred that it could
not be mentioned. The lady fell asleep. Patched
and faded (as I now noticed) were the fascinating patterns
on her dress and on the draperies of the room.
The broad tones of the night "(that I saw outside the
house) were more definite in colour than they are in our
Sometimes I heard in the distance the faint tinkling and
the wild roaring of some strange Eastern music, whose joyous
sorrow and sorrowful joy revealed the numerous and conflicting
memories of an aged race.
"Come with us and with happiness," said voices at the
They invited me to enter a kind of covered chair. Like
curling serpents were the staves on which they carried it; like
claws and haunches and breasts and hoofs and tails were the
parts of the outline of the case that enclosed the seat.
LONDON FAIRY TALES.
Through the dark privacy of trees and tangled growths,
where the graceful tiger softly moves ; along hillsides covered
with brown leafless woods and bordering a pale river that bore
rafts of logs ; over the irregular giant steps of a snowy
mountain ; over windy darknesses under a. wide sky and by
many other beautiful places, they carried me.
At last I fell asleep.
I was in my own bed, when a clattering waked me. A cat
was seated in the middle of the window on the horizontal bar
of the window-frame; its form was silhouetted against the dim
light that entered through the curtain. I moved ; the cat
jumped to the floor, clattering the curtain.
It ran towards my clothes and then towards the chimney,
which it seemed to ascend.
I lit a match. It had disappeared.
My clothes were disordered and I began to rearrange
them. Some of my money was gone. The cat must have
taken it. I do not know exactly how much it had taken.
It had collected, I suppose, the fare for my journey.
And I had returned to the London of which I was
so tired. I was surrounded by its innumerable mean little
houses and its innumerable large houses, by innumerable men
who make little jokes and never rejoice in joyous madness,
who pursue the nearest little aims and never conceive earnest
hopes of huge impossibilities.
"A MAN is sad; a woman causes him to rejoice: there's a
plot for you," Mary once said to me.
"If I treat it allegorically," I answered, the woman could
stand for sin, life, spring, beauty, the imagination, the feminine,
religion, or poetry-ought a woman's form to be used to re-
present abstract conceptions if, as is said, women conceive none?
or to typify spiritual desires, if it be true that they seldom
love ideas and pursue dreams ?-or the woman could stand
for almost any virtues, or vices, or pleasureable mental con-
ditions or qualities."
"You must not hint evil about women to me," said Mary.
"I-I know few women. I have no opinion about them.
You-you, like all that is pleasant and admirable, always
hasten away from me too soon. How, then, can I know your
If you will tell me a story, using my plot, I will stay
with you now and listen," she answered.
I turned towards her-I wanted to. know what colour her
eyes really are, it is often" so difficult to determine of dark eyes
-and I told her the following tale:-
LONDON FAIRY TALES.
Only two. men were walking along the street; the other
figures were leaning against posts, lounging outside the public-
house, gazing into the little shop windows, or they were
old women standing together and gossiping, or children in
doorways, whose eyes were like lights burning in lamps of
worn and ill-nourished clay.
Two gleams of light fell down the houses from the bright
sky; the rest of the narrow street was shadowy and smoky.
One of the two men who were walking down the street
was a fool.
When he had had work, he was employed as a ware-
houseman and porter; his usual duties had been wrapping up
parcels of goods, storing them in dark underground cellars,
carrying them, going errands, and searching out any needed
parcel from the general stock. (Noble is the work that we
love; most of us make devils that weary ourselves, injure
others, and imprison and burden the earth.)
He had neglected his work as much as he could ; it was
wearisome vanity to him, and his masters (and most men)
were hostile strangers. He was sensible of their unfriendly
words; anger and pain made him silent and slow, when they
showed their contempt for him,-and they thought him stupid
and insensible, because of his awkward silence.
Every public-house attracted him because it was a place of
rest, free from the rattle and rush of the streets. And beer,
although it had sometimes made him sick and unable to eat,
enabled him to laugh carelessly and muddled his troubles. It
dulled the vexatipn of weariness, of restless inactivity and of
effort. It quieted the demon within him that rebelled and
demanded obscurely by pains "More food and better."
His evenings had never offered him anything more soothing
than the public-house and the newspapers at his humble club.
He had taken no thought for the morrow, and sought to
ease recklessly the evils of the long to-day; he was always
ready to lie, if thereby he could avoid trouble.
He was alone, for no one valued his life.
Hunger, cold, and a dirty dwelling-these are not the whole
of poverty, for it takes away thought and feeling also-labour,
pain, and weariness remain. To many not even the emotion
of prayer is possible ; if there be only one Cause," they say,
"how can we seek to oppose ourselves to it by praying ?
We can only bow before the Throne of Life (through which
all is and changes). Neither can any repentance (that we can
understand) nor any forgiveness stop the consequences of our
Books are too expensive for those who are scarcely fed and
clothed: the fool found beauty nowhere,-neither at his work
nor on the way to it.
His work needed all his time and energy.
In the summer, when out of work, he had slept in the
public parks, haunted by an ever-present vision of hunger.
The dark, quiet trees surrounded him; outside them, in the
lamp-bordered street, was the rattle of harness and wheels.
The unfriendly houses and the criticising crowd of comfort-
able and strictly condemning people had watched him loiter
in the streets by day, and with downcast face, mumbled words
and beating heart ask for work at warehouses filled with the
LONDON FAIRY TALES.
The other man was a designer, named Riemer, who had
attempted many kinds of work,-designs for book covers, title-
pages, headings, and tail-pieces, illustrations, posters, chairs,
painted ceilings, picture-frames, pottery, drinking-fountains; and
frescoes for public buildings.
On Sunday evening some friends were accustomed to have
supper with him ; some of them were authors, who regarded
their companions as models in a (literary) studio.
Once they read together "The Book of Job." They read
how after Job's friends had assured him that all is well in
the world, God asked them Where were you when I laid
the foundations of the earth ?" He rebuked the magnitude of
their faith; for we can neither justify nor condemn God,-to
us there is evil and it is incomprehensible why the Almighty
has not avoided it. Job's friends reproached an upright man,
whom Satan had tortured; they did not pity the unfortunate,
because they were judging and condemning him. His suffer-
ings are punishments and cures, they said; Job knew that man
is powerless to guide his steps and cannot understand the aim
of his journey or of his misfortunes.
Perhaps suffering is punishment, but one man suffers for
the sin of another ; the sins of the stomach are visited on the
nerves; all men, therefore, are responsible for one another, for
our actions affect the universe and our neighbour.
Two insoluble questions trouble Job: If life be an un-
avoidable gift and in so far as we cannot return it, how can
God ever give an evil gift ? And if God cause us to sin,
why does He cause us to live in punishment? "Wherefore is
light given to him that is in misery and life unto the bitter
in soul; which long for death, but it cometh not; and dig
for it more than for hid treasures; which rejoice exceedingly
and are glad when they can find the grave? I have
sinned; why hast thou set me as a mark against
thee so that I am a burden to myself? If I wash my-
self with snow water and make my hands never so clean, yet
shalt thou plunge me into the ditch and mine own clothes
shall abhor me."
As these two men walked along the street a woman entered
it from within a house. She cast a handful of earth (of which
there was none on the road or pavement) into the air ; it
seemed to spread over the sky and darken the whole street.
It fell on to the roofs; the houses broke, fell, and crumbled.
"In what kind of house and garden would you wish to live
and labour ?" said the woman, who now stood on a bare plain
with the two men before her. "Would you not admire the
beauties of a heaven and earth that were new to you? Do
you not desire to create them ? "
"I fear," she said, turning to the fool, "I fear that the
agile and disgusting distortions of acrobatic performers, the
meanly directed physical ingenuity of jugglers, the contempla-
tion of abnormal forms that encourage lustful excitation-I fear
that such have been your most beautiful pleasures. Perhaps
you hardly know how to commence; we shall have first to
I am getting hungry," said the fool, for his mouth watered
LONDON FAIRY TALES.
his cheeks and head ached slightly, his stomach made itself
prominent to his mind.
"Here's satisfying food," said she, and handed him some
lozenges; "and the money that you will need."
Her face was at once cheerful and full of pity (an expression
never seen in a man's face), her whole form was ruddy and
round with health, yet its definite sinuosities were delicately
shaped and did not mingle their swellings together.
I wish my words (like rain on parched earth) gave hope and
life, so that when I speak of beautiful houses and gardens you
would greatly desire to build and to plant. Lend me your sketch-
book, please," she said, holding out her hand towards Riemer.
As the two men saw the skilful hand create a forest, which
continually approximated perfection, Riemer said: "Though we
would not say so to ourselves, life has often been disgusting to
us; but in the dancing shadows of such a forest, why should
we not enjoy it?"
Without cares, tod much work or great cold or hunger," said
Simplicity shall rule us," said Riemer. "The roughness of
our lives will be made beautiful by the vital individuality of our
minutes and of our works."
"As for the clothes we shall wear," he continued, the forms
of men's ordinary clothes have in general been less ugly than
those of women; they have been less bounded by excrescent and
shapeless drapery. If new trousers are straight and ugly tubes,
when worn they soon cease to be so; they become, perhaps,
slightly grotesque, because their curves hang lower than those
of the leg. A long overcoat and a cylindrical high hat are in-
expressive in outline; but so are swollen sleeves and skirts
festooned in artificial folds. Collar, shirt, and tie (though easily
treated in a picture) form a hard and ugly design; but we shall
probably be more clothed in skins than in starchy whiteness."
"But shall we not have to make paper, colours, ink, and
brushes?" asked the woman, treating this essay on clothes as
You have money, you said," Riemer answered; "and we
need not live in a completely logical system, independent of, as
well as separated from, outside institutions; besides, being but
three persons, our lives cannot present all that they may
Here are lists of what we need to fetch," said the woman.
"We have been together only a little time, and now we must
separate ; but I shall be with you till we are again together,
for we have greeted each other and exchanged goodwill."
Then was satisfied in the two men the thirst for romantic
adventure that troubles the young, and the desire to be loved
that troubles most of us-the desire to come near to the heart
of humanity, to be in communication with the inmost being of
another creature ; only to be pitied is irritating, since our mis-
fortunes are partly accidental; only to be admired is unsatis-
factory, since our actions are only a part of us-they do not
achieve our desires. In short, our self-estimation refuses to be
content with a love that neglects our best parts.
As the fool was about to enter London a madman tempted
You cannot be happy in a bare Eden, where you will be
poor as Adam; come with me.-in the world there is much
joy-beautiful women and pleasing landscapes ; there the cold
LONDON FAIRY TALES.
wind shall not eat your entrails, nor the sun drink your blood;
there you will lie opposite to an entrancing woman, and you
will compliment each other in pretty verses, eating perfumed
and well-coloured food; a moving forest of fair forms will
gracefully dance before you, and broken-hearted voices sing
sweet sad songs that ease digestion; your chariots will be
partly softly feathered birds, partly women ; jewels will light
your house, and a man's life shall be spent in fashioning the
beauty of one of its pots; thousands shall wait for your words,
and their eyes look towards you as the eyes of a lover follow
his lady. You shall be merry, and when you call, Death shall
come to you."
The fool smiled and walked on.
Wet with perspiration, the two men laboured; their dreams
of the house and garden they were making-their design-
became to them every moment more perfect. Life became
serious and valuable to them, because they needed it to attain
From her hand the woman threw into the air some water (of
which there was none upon the ground); the dew of life fell
on to the whole country.
"A little coarse, dull, and morbid," said Mary, when I had
finished the tale.
"I do not feel quite well, if that is an excuse," I said.
"I am sorry,' she answered; "if you will tell me another
story using my plot, I will stay with you a little longer."
"Your pitying eyes heal; your cheeks, delicately shaded
with red, prevent me from speaking well of sadness."
(I knew her eyes did not heal, but I was pleased with the
slight smile with which she received my admiration.)
Begin, then," she said.
And I related the following tale:-
The man was sad.
He spoke softly to himself as he walked the streets, and
delighted himself with the fury of his laments. He walked
guided by an unconsidering impulse, and did not think how he
should return or how obtain food and rest.
.The incoherent colours of the street-of dirty brick and
-dirty paint-were made neutral by the twilight of a grey,
foggy sky; the monotonous, metallic sound of the church-bell
was resting for a .little, and only a few people were out of
The long tram was almost empty-on Sunday no one
needed to hurry to work. .
The curse of life-why has it been pronounced against
me ?" he said.
"Who kills a man is killed; who brings to life there is no
law against him; the parents who fed me and watched my
sickness.(when I was weak and did not desire to see the life
to which I had just come), and who, with a doctor, conquered
nature, which would not have given me strength to bear the
trouble and movements of life-did they not merit that I
should kill them?
"The ways of nature-the decent man cannot think of them;
LONDON FAIRY TALES.
when the stomach is painful and its hunger shouts for food,
the tame beast turns its eye with goodwill towards man, and
is led to the slaughter-house, and the green plant is changed
to disgust and decay within a man's body.
For this food he labours; when he has eaten he is alive
and has no pleasure; it may be that he hates the evil work
that he has done for his mouth, the work that is a burden to
"All seek pleasure, if only by endeavouring to forget it; it is
the mad, oblivious pursuit of dreams; to each his neighbour's
aims are vanity, but his own aims--he needs his life in order
to attain them.
Man can hardly attain his painful vital desires, yet he is
insatiable for the unattainable; he lives, supporting himself
with difficulty on feeble staves, yet he raises his eyes from the
ground towards beauty, peace, and justice.
"Or most men who can eat, drink, and laugh-are they
"If a shop were open, if food were at hand, I should
His pulse, like a wanderer tired to death, sometimes almost
stopped and sometimes ran a few steps furiously.
Perhaps a definite pain (such as the cutting off of an arm)
can be more easily forgotten than months of starvation, of in-
cessant little discomforts.
He was now in a street where bare trees grew at regular
intervals out of squares of ground that were near the road and
between the paving-stones; the houses of soiled brick stood
behind low walls surmounted by railings which enclosed dismal
gardens, the grass, trees, and bushes of which seemed to live
sadly in London.
The man was sad and starving; he walked inattentively,
delighting himself with the fury of his laments. At
last his road enclosed a green, with feathery, wintry trees on
one side and cottages on the others. Then he passed a wood
partly obscured by a pale blueish mist that rose from low, de-
caying plants growing between the dark trees and the reddish path.
Afterwards the path began to shine like engraved silver as the
sun broke the sky's grey with silver and blue; the silver
path went downwards between the high banks of grass, behind
which stood black lines of branching trees that netted the
The green was soothing; the birds sang. New fields of
green, new black branchings, new lines of hedges, succeeded to
his view ; he entered a road that led upwards, through fields
of a more soothing green, past trees with more pleasing
arrangements of branches. .
The man was sad and starving; "But I could yet be
happy," thought he.
Suddenly, after a turn in the road, stood a lady before
More beautiful than any human face was her face beneath
black hair; but human paint was on her superhuman cheeks.
The eyes were large and of a pale blue-grey (he feared to look
at their beautiful outlines, yet could not look away from them),
but the brows and lashes had been darkened; the tall, slender
form was clothed in a black dress.
Food," she said, "food, money, and health-these you
have needed; with me you shall not need them.
Weary of beauty, I am amusing myself with the grotesque
and ugly developments of mankind; I am trying to be a
LONDON FAIRY TALES.
"We will hang a sign at the entrance to our lands pro-
claiming that to every man one day of pleasure is there free;
we shall see the happiness of faces in which want and care
have dug deep furrows and exposed the framework of bones,-
faces from which despairing passion or dull worry, coarse
stimulant or weariness, has worn the smooth surfaces or the
By the food with which he feeds his desire for happiness
we shall see what food life has hitherto offered to each, how
it tasted to him and what he has become by it; we shall
look at him with interest, but not with scorn, because the
diet will explain the errors of the stripped form."
The miserable journeyed to the lady's lands, and found
one day of joy.
There they forgot their unfulfilled desires.
If it be in any way possible," said one, "I would escape;
interminable, inane stories, and laughter, and drinking, and-
myself, these are amusements for our customers; they are the
whole of my life, for I live with the public-house counter in
front of me, and the barrels, bottles, and glittering miscellany
of stores behind me." And there she did escape and found
one day of joy.
And one forgot his sorrow; he forgot how he had sought
to cleanse himself and was not clean; how first he had
studied books to see how the perfect man would live with his
time, place, and fate; how he had been further cleansed by
Love, at sight of whom the darkest despair left him for ever;
but when the earth had fallen on the coffin of his beloved, he
buried with her all his brighter hopes.
He had sought to suffer all that makes men's lives bitter,
labouring at unwholesome labours ; he had sought for the
visions on whose wings men fly away and are at peace, for
he had thought that if by these means he could cleanse away
his selfishness and dislike, he would behold in every man the
serious desire for that happiness that is only in the beautiful,
unattainable land of righteousness, that he would cease to
laugh at, hate, and condemn men (and are not all their sins
and follies in that hatred and laughter ?), that he would see
and worship Love and Beauty, whose lights reveal the joy of
appearances, and the beauty and pathos of souls.
He forgot for one day that he had sought and had not
Another forgot his desire for heaven.
He had often testified his desires within the ring of the
band of music and the gaily apparelled regiment, declaring
that before he joined the Salvation Army he had been con-
scious-even in happy moments-that his happiness did not
make the whole earth well; therefore he had prayed for a
discontent that aspired to better pleasures.
The pleasures of the earth," he had said, "do not make
us happy, and they lead to the gates of hell.
"The cares of the earth can be destroyed-for the blood of
the Crucified cleanses and rejoices the sinner who kneels at
His feet." .
And another forgot for one day his desire for money. And
another saw entrancing visions and was glad, although he had
spent his last penny.
LONDON FAIRY TALES.
"That's better," said Mary.
The merits are due to the feelings you cause in me; the
faults, may I not account for them not only by my stupidity
but also by my fear of you and by my unpremeditated speech ? "
"Your matter is often insincere," said Mary.
"I desire to please you; I desire to be rejoiced with your
kind aspect before sorrow comes, before you go, and pain and
weariness return. When a man is sad, a woman can cause
him to rejoice."
"Can you not treat the theme shortly and simply?" said
Then I related the following:-
I dreamt that I was falling-as we often fall in dreams;
the hair of my head stood up, my .heart stopped, my cheeks
became bloodless and stiff, my eyes stared and saw nothing;
in my terror I felt very lonely-even lovers and friends are far
apart, they do not know what to say or how to approach
when they would be very near; I was weary and disgusted;
I hated men because they did not know that I was falling
whilst they were at peace. Suddenly the flow of blood and
fantastic thought returned; I saw a crowd of girls dancing
downstairs, they went backwards with their faces towards me;
I saw everything distinctly and I admired the cheeks, the hair,
the changing graces of swaying bodies, the delicate characterising
hands. I noticed the foreshortened appearance of one who
leant back terribly while she danced downwards and backwards;
and yet I grew weary again and disgusted.
Suddenly life ceased in me; I saw you wrapped up in a
mist: I looked long at your face. I wondered if I could
recognize it again, were it not that only in its neighbourhood
am I alive; elsewhere all is void and tasteless and there is no
difference to me between joy and terror and disgust.
" Do you fear the darkness of the grave?" said
The fountain splashed in the garden; each
the old king.
"My lord," answered the young slave, "the light awakes
me daily saying: 'Work.' Death is better than life without
any pleasure : sun's light, night's mantle, and the movements
of the crowd never reveal any beauty to me. With unseeing
eyes, men pass in the streets from labour to labour like beasts
that wearily obey the whip and never hope to stand again on
grass. I wish I were like the old man, who says: 'When I
am kissed in turn by the warm lips of the pleasures that
THE GAME. 25
love, I tremble with weakness as I dance from one to another
of them; my cup of life is almost empty, although I am still
thirsty; Death calls me,-I -constantly hear his voice.'"
"Then play a game with me," said the king, "and if you
win, my power and life (nothing to me) are yours; but if I
win, your life and youthful power are mine."
In the garden the trees framed the bright sky in irregu-
lar panels; in the palace the cards fell one by one.
At first the king's cards were the weaker, but the king's
"I have won," he said; "it is a sign that'I shall win.
"I need your brains; the physicians will make with them a
mixture that will restore my sap, a tonic that will thoroughly
renovate my appearance.
"For until now, though I painted my face, I seemed old;
when I spoke of love and of her beauty, she was weary of
me. But now I begin to win."
"THE fat John Bull, as conventionally drawn," I said, "only
exists now in remote places; but the Englishman's taste is
still generally that of a man fed on beef and beer. He wants
a book to aid digestion,-a book that neither represents life
too truly (for therein too much would be disgusting and
terrible) nor takes him violently to a fairyland of impossi-
bilities (for therein too much would be madly absurd and
"The public is a fool, no doubt," answered Williams, "but
I want to please it. One of my great works (as yet un-
written) is a tale of a man who one day follows through the
streets someone whose appearance greatly interests him, and
whom you may hold to be his Genius or Inspiration; and so
he is led into a certain house where he inherits the life, the
circumstances, mind, and memory of another; and whenever
he again suddenly meets his Inspiration, he is led to enter a
fresh life and inherit another's past: thus he passes through
a thousand transformations. I have in my pocket the notes for
two chapters of this tale,-the first and a later one, in which is
described one of the transformations."
Let me see them," said I.
He gave the papers to me and I read the following:-
I turned and followed him.
For sometimes when the sky is grey and the ends of the
streets closed with fog, when all the multitude seem clothed in
black or dull colours and in rigid forms that are inexpressive
of life, when I have become wearied by my cares, by the con-
fused sounds of the traffic, and by monotonous, uninteresting,
ugly buildings, suddenly I see amongst the innumerable in-
volved figures one that is so interesting to me that I should
like to follow it.
It may be the figure of one who seems to talk of vital
matters (to preach great truths or entreat great favours), or of
a girl with dreamy, weary eyes, and mouth half open as though
to sigh, who seems fit for greater things than the common
troubles to which she is fated, or of a boy whose face is full
of promises of great purposes and nobility. .
"Go into the house," said the unknown man whom I had
followed; "you will find yourself the inheritor of a new past.
You will see me again."
Turning to another sheet of paper I read the following:-
Life, it is said, is a battle; if so, my contest has been like
those we read of in many fairy tales, where one or both of
them that fight changes from form to form: when you capture
the hind it changes to a bird and flies away, and when you
have wounded the lion with a sword it is a genie that pelts
LONDON FAIRY TALES.
you with fire ;-thus did I and my endeavours and all that
opposed me change, as I gradually journeyed through London
from house to house following the unknown man.
And now again, for the I99th time, I became a new man;
really, I forget what his name was.
Dreading the brutalising effect of business routine, he had,
at the age of sixteen, boldly declared that he would be
apprenticed to a handicraft; he had refused the high hat and
the tailed coat, for (With the early foresight in practical
matters of one who was to be a genius in realistic represen-
tation) he had felt the barrenness of a life whose activities
are confined to the arrangement of figures, the repetition of the
stale phrases of business letters and business intercourse, and
the transmission of papers ; he had hated the prospect of
routine-of an automatic life, a death in life. He had rejected
the privileges of his position-desks and ledgers, letter-books
and papers,-and had chosen, like the working classes, to deal
with lathes and tools, wood and metal; he had the pleasure of
struggling with materials and fashioning them according to
their natures; the pleasure of seeing the fluttering metal fall
before his tool, and symmetry and design emerge as he bent
and hammered and chiselled and forged, though the joy
of personal design was denied to him by the conditions of
modern workmanship, by "commercial competition and whole-
He had attained independence earlier than if he had
remained in his own rank of society; in his lonely mind he
had conceived a great desire, the desire to write books
showing the little poetry that germinates in the brains and
vivifies the existences" of the multitude of drudges; the desire
to explain the motive power that sustains them, though perhaps
the workhouse or the enforced holiday of helplessness is the
old age towards which they go; to find the illusions, the
beauties invisible to alien eyes, that give pleasure to bare lives;
to cause the nobility to speak that lies beneath forms worn
with bitterness, misery, disgust, weariness, and ignoble pleasures.
But to accomplish such a work, great experience was needed.
To gain means of obtaining greater experience of life, and
(if possible) means of writing in the future better books, he
had written a novel, which now lay before him on the table of
his lonely lodging.
"'The great R. is in a rage,' said the smallest office-boy."
It was thus that his novel began.
"The senior office-boy laughed in acknowledgment of this
reference to their employer,. Mr. Revelton, the managing
director of the Mutual Investment Trust Corporation, as 'the
great R.': amidst the aridities of business, the smallest joke is
often gratefully received.
"The head clerk came out of the inner office, shutting the
door after him. 'What's the row?' asked his neighbour at the
desk nearest the window.
"'He cannot find securities worth 4o,ooo; he supposes they
have been stolen; he cannot find them himself, and damns and
God bless my soul's everyone who tries to help him,' answered
the head clerk.
"At a quarter-past six Mr. Revelton left the office. He
smiled once or twice as he sat in the omnibus on his way
home; he helped ladies who went past him between the knees
of the passengers by putting his hand beneath their forearms,
and he talked to the conductor about the weather ; his temper
LONDON FAIRY TALES.
seemed as excellent as it usually was. An expression of
habitual anxiety distinguished him in appearance from other
men of his type, for the red face and neck, small, pale green
eyes, puffy eyelids, partly assumed expression of jollity, and
swollen figure fitting tightly into glossy clothes these could
be seen on many men of business."
Mr. Revelton reaches home, and the book describes his
wife; then it continues thus-
"'You remember, dear, that I am dining with the Ellisons
and then going to the theatre with them,' said she.
"'When you come in, do not wait for me,' he answered,
'I shall go out too. When you are away this does not feel
like my home.'
"' Then I will say Good-night now,' she said, smiling.
"He kissed her. Certainly her feminine presence was needed
to give him a feeling of home; but her somewhat romantic
mind had little real intercourse with his.
"She went out, wearing the diamonds that, together with
a far better position in society than his own, had beer her
The novel then describes Mr. Revelton's visit to a gambling
house, his pleasures and his losses.
It was almost four o'clock in the morning when he again
reached home. He was tired, and disgusted with life, with
himself, and with his prospects.
His wife was not in their bedroom. Irritated, surprised, and
angry, he woke the servants; none of them had seen her since
she went out, or knew anything of her movements since then.
A fine description of Mr. Revelton's early morning search for
his wife now follows. He goes to the Ellisons' house and wakes
it with repeated ringing at the front-door bell. He is told that
his wife, after the theatre, had said that she was tired and
would go home alone, for the others had wished to go and
have supper at a restaurant. Mrs. Revelton had intended
to take a cab. Mr. Revelton does not know where to search;
he passes men huddled together bn benches, and bundles
of rags hiding in shadows away from the.gas-lamps; miserable
women struggle to give him the customary smile of invitation,
thinking that the red-faced, well-dressed man is a returning
reveller. "It is strange to see such creatures in my respectable,
prosperous neighbourhood," thought Mr. Revelton, "such dismal
sights should be hidden."
When Mrs. Revelton was left alone, so tells the next
chapter, the movements in the brightly lit streets around the
theatre and the novelty of wandering alone at night had made
her determine to walk a little way.
Then she had left the wide thoroughfare and entered
a narrow street-a blackness faintly gemmed with gaslights.
Gradually a man became distinct to her as she approached
him through the darkness.
"'Would you,' said he, '' would you for ever remain bound
by such narrow limits of class and convention and circum-
stance? Would you never wish to see more, and to see more
truly? If you are contented to remain within these stupid
limitations for ever, then do not come with me.'
Excited by his words, by the desire of adventure and for
knowledge, she answered, 'But if I come ?'
"' You will know,' he replied.
She followed him past dark houses that seemed to stand
above a mystic tide of light that flowed from gas-lamps and
open doors and uncurtained panes of windows."
The following chapter tells how the police find the body of
LONDON FAIRY TALES.
Mrs. Revelton. The diamonds have been taken from her
blood-stained dress. The man who formerly lodged in the
room where her body is found has not been seen since the
day before she disappeared.
A short time afterwards a jeweller was found guilty of
selling a counterfeit diamond in place of a real one; in size,
shape, and colour this large pseudo-gem greatly resembled
(according to the newspapers) some of the diamonds stolen
from the late Mrs. Revelton.
The jeweller's description of the man from whom he pur-
chased it was a description of the man who had lodged in the
room in which the dead body was found.
Some account now follows of the efforts of the police to
find this man.
Mr. Revelton becomes bankrupt; he is arrested whilst trying
to leave England; his affairs are examined. He has misappro-
priated large sums of money; he has himself stolen from the
companies of which he was managing director amounts equiva-
lent to the properties supposed to have been taken by some
person whose guilt had till then never been discovered.
His carefully kept private account books further led to the
discovery that he had sold his wife's jewels, replacing them
with imitation ones.
Worry and desire of money and an ingenuity in obtaining
it that was restrained more by a desire not to be considered a
swindler than by fear of injuring anyone; gambling with cards,
with shares, with commodities of unknown or of rapidly chang-
ing price, and by staking money in doubtful enterprises (but do
we not all gamble? Who does nothing, plays against the unseen
hand of Fate)-in this part of the book these fill the mind of
the reader with a feeling of terror, anger, and anxiety.
Mr. Revelton was sentenced to several years' imprisonment
for fraud and theft. Lastly the book tells how'the murderer of
his wife was found living in a small town near London, and
was also condemned, after having been recognized by the
jeweller who had purchased the counterfeit diamond. As he had
murdered in order to rob, he had been astonished, disappointed,
and terrified on finding that the gems were false.
The whole novel now lay before the author. So long as he
had been writing it, he had always wished for solitude; he had
been impatient with his long hours of work and of the inter-
course with a narrow, well-known world.
But now he wished for a friend to encourage him to seek
beauty. He felt that the writing of books is vain. The best
book can help little in cultivating the faculties of men sur-
rounded by ugliness; and yet he hoped to help some mind.in
its efforts towards perfection.
He began wearily yet rapidly to undress for bed. I have,"
thought he, "staked all and will lose it, or will succeed where
I wish to succeed; I'll either succeed in being a genius or
will live in the solitary confinement of the most restricted
mechanic's existence-day after day in the same streets, the
same workshop, the same lodging, the same public-house, and
without love or despair, without solitude or intimacy."
When he was going to work next morning he saw a man
in the street, whom he began to follow.
"Go into this house," said the unknown man whom he had
been following, "a new life awaits you there. You will see
34 LONDON FAIRY TALES.
me again and inherit a new past, again see a new part of life
through other eyes and with another's mind."
"I should like to see more of that story when you have
written it," said I, when 'I had finished reading these notes.
But could it ever be made to sell ? said Williams. It
would be a long task to describe a thousand transformations.
The book would have I,ooI chapters."
AT THE ENTRANCE.
HIs impertinence, his dishonesty, his baseness, and his success
in making me treat him like a friend-I was disgusted because
of these things. In my haste I said, "I hate all men."
I walked quickly through the streets, heeding no man's face
nor any woman's; bright skirts and smiling faces, omnibuses
that splashed mud on me, cabs that threatened to run over
me, deafening noises-my angry dreams were not disturbed by
these things. I did not notice where my feet went; I seemed
to walk along one long street of ugly houses. (In truth, how-
ever, I must have turned many times.) Sometimes the street
was crowded, sometimes there were few people in it.
At length I lifted up my eyes and saw above me a bridge
standing at the top of a hill. And the bridge went upwards
till the middle of its central arch, so that I could see nothing
that lay beyond it. And above the bridge a man flew, waving
his arms with joy; and I ran in order to stand on the bridge
and look down on the unknown shore.
LONDON FAIRY TALES.
What shadowy shapes are these which I suddenly perceive
passing over the bridge into the unknown beyond ?
Your faces are bloodlessly pale, your forms are indistin-
guishably massed together; you are unreal as what we know
when our souls are wandering from their homes of flesh.
"We have never laughed or wept on solid earth, for in
constant labour we live.
But the arms that on earth are torn asunder or never join
two sympathetic brains, here embrace with deepest love; the
lips that Fate forbids to speak on earth, here tell the music of
the heart's pulsations; the songs of praise we never sing on
earth, we live them here."
Whom do I see above me, mounted on a winged horse ?
Riding on the Pegasus of the Imagination, I go through
the Gate of Fairyland, I see before me its secluded valleys ;
exultant I see before me here the beauty that I never saw on
O delightful land, which I too shall see when I reach the
"Only the idle can tread on me; those who are willing to-
starve and to forget all claims of others. Those who can
forget what's awry on earth, and forget what Custom has.
declared to be their duty. Those who can find entrances into.
a new world in the pages of a book, and can be transported
into a new life by an emotion or an idea. Those who will
give all their possessions for a minute's peace, and for a dream
or an idea endure life's greatest bitterness. Those who are not:
unhappy when he who calls himself Respectability says, I
cannot speak to you.' Those who are willing to be despised
and rejected by men and a cause of anger to their neigh-
AT THE ENTRANCE. 37
"Those who are not curbed by that moderation which is
part of 'common-sense.'
Those who can bear to live without intercourse with other
For though it be safe for others to look at them, and listen
to them, and laugh at them, and speak to them, and pity
them-and even give to them, yet their misfortunes fall on
those who feel with them and think with them.
"Cursed with their curse are all who admire them.
And yet the greatest pleasures of life are enjoyed only
by those who enter here and tread on me."
I turned away from the bridge and went back into the
VENUS AND THE PAINTER.
VENUS entered the studio silently, and the painter did not
see her. The painter said in his thoughts, Each day I think
that to-morrow will be a day of importance to me,-a day
when a great message, a gospel, or an inspiration of beauty
will come to me. And to-morrow is as empty as to-day. I
will no longer live to hear the silence of God-the mocking
silence. I have failed so often that I have now no feeling of
failure-only a weariness."
Then Venus spoke to him thus-
"I am come to help you.
"In former times I was a queen and men were often
loyal to me. In me is all the beauty of the earth.
"In former times, when men built a house, my name was
carved on its stones; they built temples to many gods, but my
name was carved on the stones; they made themselves gar-
ments and vessels, and these also were to my glory.
"When the monk left the world of passions to find peace
in a narrower world, he could not forget me; in illuminated
books, in pictures, in music he wrote my name.
"But now, it seems, I am by some forgotten.
VENUS AND THE PAINTER.
"Many things are made in factories, but not to my glory;
and my name is not written in ledgers.
I have seen sorrow.
"In former years my hair was golden; the darkness of
sorrow has dyed it black.
Desiring praise from them that have forgotten me, and
desiring in pity to favour you (since no girl has smiled to see
you, no man admired any of your actions, no one listened to
you without scorn-and yet you have painted to my glory), I
am now come to you, and you shall paint me, that we may
increase our fame !"
The painter replied: "Venus, as the flying Dutchman was.
condemned to sail the restless seas until he found a maiden
who could love him and be faithful until death, so have I
suffered on the restless sea of passion until now I find an
image that can never fade from me, that will calm my soul
"If I could express in a few lines how you have placed
yourself, those lines would write my name on future centuries.
"A thousand passions pass over your face in ever-chang-
ing beauty, although your face is unmoved in pose; I do not
know which image to place on the canvas; my hand trembles."
"Let me talk to you and quiet you. Do you know there
was a man, who, when he ate a certain herb, had strange
delusions; ill-natured fellows came to see him eat dirt thinking
it a feast; when he was sleepy, they disturbed him and
made him tell his dreams ; he talked of palaces and beautiful
women, whilst they laughed to see his weak limbs trembling
beneath his rags; he lay and rolled his head to and fro on
the dirty ground, and imagined he was nodding graciously to
LONDON FAIRY TALES.
"Venus, when you smile thus with pity, my soul weeps that
your beauty should have lived on this rough earth with us
and felt our sufferings. I am so sad that my mind will not
"Let me talk to you and quiet you. There was a lady
who loved; but the man did not know it, and did not know
love. And she used to come in the darkness of the night and
kiss him; with trembling gentleness she uncovered him and
kissed his body."
"Venus, your eyes are terrible; your voice is changed; my
"Let me talk to you and quiet you. There was a fool,
who dreamed a dream and sought everywhere for a reality
like to it. Fame, Love, and Beauty were in the dream; and
when they came to his door, he died from joy as he opened
it to let them enter."
"Venus, I was the man whom they mocked when I ate the
herb of poetry; you were the lady who kissed me in the dark-
ness, so that I never saw beauty but only dreamt of it; I am
the fool to whose door Fame, Love, and Beauty (long sought
for) are come.
"Yours are the picture and all else that I have; though
truly this curious rubbish of the studio is too trifling to give
to a goddess.
The plot of my life is finished, my interest in it is ended.
Never again could I paint like this when you have left me.
When the story is perfected, who would wish to add another
The painter took an old dagger from the wall of the studio,
stabbed himself, and died.
THE DESIRE FOR IMMORTALITY.
THE water thundered softly and bubbled as it curled foaming
between the rocks or poured over them; it was so hot that
my eyes half closed as I looked at the brown precipitous sides
of the valley and at the green foliage within it.
One of the ladies threw grass at me to wake me.
If," said I, "a sheep said to you: It is wrong to enslave
and then kill me in order to eat mutton,-to make me, who
have no voice in your state, inheritor and subject of its sys-
tem,' what would you reply?"
"Sheep cannot reason," said one of the ladies.
"And women cannot usually argue; they stray on by-paths,
and (to our great delight) they sacrifice us men like sheep.
You have even taken my sleep."
LONDON FAIRY TALES.
How sadly you said that."
"Life is sad, but the day of rejoicing comes to all-the
day of death."
I should like to live-for ever."
"One man does."
"In his memory and hopes," I continued, "years are as
days, therefore he is seldom discontented; but he is exiled
from peace, for he lives by restless change,-his changing life
is a series of lives, each adapted to new men and new oppos-
"Men, in his endless life, are unreal to him; even while he.
perceives the little hollows beneath the bones of cheek and
chin, the radiations of light in the colour of the eyes, and the
creases of the skin,-even while he smiles in answer to a
smile, bargains, shows his teeth and is weary,-even in his
activity all his labours are vanity to him, his companions
dreams, yet though he desires solitude it is seldom granted to
him; and though intercourse is often stale and unprofitable to.
him, yet he must taste all that men drink from thirst or
desire; thus, despite his age and weariness, his heart will be
young for rejoicing, when the Lord rejoices with His people
as the bridegroom with the bride."
"When I saw him the rain and the hail were coming and
ceasing as the dark clouds now wrapped the summits of the
hills, and now rose and admitted more light.; at its farther end
THE DESIRE FOR- IMMORTALITY.
the pass between the hills was arched by a light cloud, beneath
which gleamed a lake.
"I had felt discontented because the weather was bad, and
the country was not sufficiently worn to wildness, but was
covered with the greenest of grass that contrasted too gaily
with the grey sky and slate quarries; and the people at the
hotel were either noisy and silly or without fancy, and said
nothing in many slowly spoken, prosaic words.
So when the strange traveller arrived (he had slept in the-
valley under two rocks that leant on each other so as to form
a rough gable) I had told him of my discontent.
"'You are English,' he said, 'and, therefore, perhaps
happiest among your own mixed race. But Palestine is the
only beautiful country on earth."'
Palestine is the only beautiful country on earth. The-
snowy wildness of Lebanon looked through clouds over
varied depths of green,-of fig-tree, vine, palm, and barley;
from the purple burning wilderness, that seemed endless, you
came quickly to the joyous multitude of Jerusalem.
"But as soon as I was old enough to compare impressions,.
Jerusalem sank into the ground, so disfigured with sufferings.
-with starvation, wounds, and weariness-that we could hardly
recognize her. But where now is Babylon, that I may curse
"Because of our sins we were exiled; was it not more com-
forting, when the soul shivered and the future was full of
unseen terrors, to buy favour from an idol than to bow before
LONDON FAIRY TALES.
nothing, or pray turned towards a heap of dust on a distant
Israel still imitated the follies of the people round her."
I thought of our fate (then it was wonderful to us, now
a miracle) and of what Jeremiah had said concerning it (his
spirit, distant from us, had heard the voice of God); I remem-
bered him threatening with clenched hands and frowning face,
and pitying with outspread, embracing arms and sudden tears
that rolled from overflowing eyelids. While I watched my
master's flocks in Babylon, I heard again his words 'Thus
saith the Lord, if you can break my covenant of the day and
my covenant of the night, so that there should not be day
and night in their season ; then may also my covenant be
broken with David my servant, so that he should not have a
son to reign upon his throne; and with the Levites, the priests,
my ministers. If my covenant be not with day and
night, and I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and
earth, then will I cast away the seed of Jacob and David my
servant, so that I will not take any of his seed to be rulers
over the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; for I will cause
their captivity to return and have mercy on them.'
"Would then that God might afflict me, I thought, and let
me know pain, cold, hunger, heat, exhaustion, and thoughts of
pain, if with suffering I could buy life and see Israel triumph
*over her enemies."
"'Be silent'-(I looked up, and a stranger stood before me
and spoke): 'You shall see it.
"'The heathen shall give Israel idols and swine to sacrifice to
THE DESIRE FOR IMMORTALITY.
them ; but in her affliction she shall refuse to the tyrants what
in her prosperity God and the priests in vain forbade; there-
fore her persecutors shall punish her.
"'The Lord will scatter this people that they may be a bless-
ing amongst all the nations.'"
"'Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar's'-(a sentence
which I heard many centuries after)-that was not the patriot-
ism of my party when all who desired to defy Rome fled to-
Before then, I had already helped to cause the Roman, the
tax-gatherer, and the cursed nobles that went with them to fear
the rocks on the mountains; many fleeing from massacre in
the villages had received life from our exertions. Caesar was-
not our governor, for he was the disturber of the law-he was
murderer and robber-in his madness he said, 'Bow and sacri-
fice to my statue or die'; the pious gave him nothing that
they could withhold.
The streets of Jerusalem became, silent-we were too weak
to talk and had eaten all the beasts-(when a woman ate her
child, men forgot fhe difference bbeween clean and unclean); if
our brother said It were better to yield to Rome than starve,'"
we slew him-(the defence of Israel's life justified every
deed); the silence, our unimaginable pains, the smell of death,
the sudden sounds of battering, of falling walls, of fighting, of
rushing to repulse the enemy, to kill a traitor, or extinguish
fire-these made our hurried days seem like -a mad poet's-
dreams. When our last defeat came we thought God's own
hand might protect the house called by His name, but God
LONDON FAIRY TALES.
.shut the gates of heaven ; many of us entered the burning
temple-our last defence-to be Israel's last burnt-offering till
*God (in His mercy) again rebuild His altar. Many prayed for
death, but God shut the gates of heaven, so that the Romans
.crucified or enslaved them, or made them ornament a triumph
in their chains, or let them die in prison of hunger and fury,
-or provide a show by being wounded by beasts' teeth and
claws or by each other.
On the day of the destruction of the first temple, the
.second also sank in the ground; but where now are the
Romans that I may curse them?"
"The last burnt-offering on altar and with priest; but
Hadrian made rivers of blood spring up and flow to the sea;
.one student of the law was burnt with vine branches, thin wet
.cotton-wool laid on his heart delaying his death; the skin
was torn from Rabbi Akiba with pincers, while he repeated
the verse 'Hear, 0 Israel, the Lord our God the Lord is one,'
Until consciousness ceased. Sometimes the words were a
defiance-' There is one God and us, one nation (do what you
will!) He has chosen.' Sometimes a mystic revelation-' There
is one God, and the whole earth (did you think I suffered?)
is beautiful-filled with one glory.'
'"When we were in the hands of these misgovernors we
.began to discuss hypothetical cases of equity, and in our con-
.straint and poverty we arranged the laws of our fathers so
that they could guide all men under all conditions.
And though we began at that time to say that Israel grew
-old and her strength failed, yet when quieter times came, I
THE DESIRE FOR IMMORTALITY.
yet could enjoy for a lifetime the days of work in my two
fields; I watched the growing plants that blessed my oblivious
labours, and the clouds, glowing or grey, that passed in the
sky above them; sometimes I smiled as I repeated to myself
.some old ingenious, traditional argument, and when I could
take a holiday I went to the town to dispute with cheering
vigour about the traditional laws, and to speak of old tales.
_But Christianity grew strong."
You grow weary-I will miss out the old Jew's reminis-
.cences of a few centuries. As I know nothing about the
times of the end of the Roman Empire and the reigns of the
barbarians who succeeded, I could confidently answer his
remarks about Christian persecution. Anyhow," I said,
"Christians are always Christians." Dagobert," he answered,
' one of the Merovingian kings, decreed in his madness that all
the Jews of the Frankish Empire should either be baptised by
.a certain date or killed."
"I can tell little," said he, "of years when I wandered
.as a merchant-selling slaves amongst other goods, when the
laws allowed Jews to do so, and the slaves themselves
liked Jewish owners (who were human and not masterfully
unconscious of the servants' humanity)-and when I learnt to
.suit myself to the manners of strangers and observed men and
races ; the record of those years was blotted out by the blood
which the Crusaders shed, crying 'Death or baptism.'
LONDON FAIRY TALES.
"Many committed suicide or killed each other, because they
knew their own weakness or preferred death from a friendly
hand; parents killed their children to save them from baptism.
"Some said What must we believe to be safe?' and were
baptised and converted by the faithful followers of Him who
taught 'Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do
good to them that hate you '-but later, when it was safe to.
do so, they returned to Israel."
"It was only my misfortunes that I took lightly-all else
was serious to me. My fate was not that of any other man,
and I did not precisely hate our enemies; they, like us, were
slaves of nature-of ever recurring hunger and irrational
impulse-and of an instituted system; besides they were mad
when they burnt us. The Church had so often taught, when
it desired to establish its power, that we were as dangerous as
the devil, that it could not (if it would) afterwards teach that
we were harmless. We were by our existence a protest against
their system, and are always a danger to erroneous systems
because we are born as strangers though natives, and being
diSenters are critics.
"I was living as a physician, examining the effects of
manners of life on the constitutions of men which I tried to
restore, at the time when the Black Death destroyed a quarter
of the inhabitants of the earth; unfortunately, Jews did not
die from it nearly as much as Christians,-they began to die
because the Christians burnt them.
For, said the Christians, the Jews poison the wells, making
poison from Christian hearts and fragments of the Host, or
THE DESIRE FOR IMMORTALITY.
skins of basilisks, or from frogs and spiders; we will disinfect
Europe with the smell of their burning flesh; we will drive
away the few who remain, leaving them alive so that Christ
can reproach them; but they came naked into the land and
naked shall go out.
"Almost naked we went out and said: Behold, God, how
Edom has treated your people; in the darkness women weep,
wet and shivering, and in the morning, motionless, cold, and
aching, they die; the righteous, whose words pleased you, are
taken from us, and our children are led into a new land, weep-
ing, or smiling as we look into their faces, until, starving, they
die-the enemies smile when they see us and we have no
money to buy water.
Answer us, Lord, answer us; yet, perhaps, if God granted
my prayers, He would destroy the world; for if the world were
not as it is, God himself would not be; the consequences of
each cause spread in endless waves; yet He made me seem
free-and, therefore, free to pray, and free to act by my prayer
-hear our voice, Lord our God, we do not trouble you with
trifles, but speak of a nation.
Give us knowledge that we may enter the land of righteous-
ness and beauty; with the kiss of prayer let us be joined to
You that we forget suffering and become strong to help our
"A strange restlessness seized me, due partly to physical
disease. Sometimes I lived by singing new tunes in the
synagogues as a wandering reader of the prayers; sometimes
I trusted chiefly to the unpaid hospitality of the communities;
sometimes I acted as agent or messenger. Thus I travelled
LONDON FAIRY TALES.
over almost the whole of Europe. I ate the bread and salt of
goodwill in many houses, and saw in them the caresses and
smiles of love; often I felt the peace that follows good wishes,
greetings, and the kind question, 'How is it with you?'
I reached Portugal (it was strange for me to go there then)
about five years after the Jews had been expelled from Spain.
After every fasting monk in Spain had been refreshed with the
smell of burning Jew, every lonely and blase fanatic had stimu-
lated his passions with the sight of flaming, blackening, shrieking,
writhing Marranos, who, having been converted to Christianity
by flame and sword, had afterwards been found guilty of remem-
bering the sufferings and heroism of their fathers; priests and
king had grown richer by inheriting the property of the damned
and of their descendants (Spain was hell to those suspected by
the Inquisition), and at last, on the day on which both temples
had sunk into the ground, to the blood-stirring sounds of pipe
and drum, with which the Rabbis had helped the people to
forget their pain, the Jews had gone from their country. They
had gone out to eat grass in their hunger, to see their children
die from starvation, and even to return in despair to the waters of
baptism, the introduction to the saving religion of love. For a
piece of bread, some skeleton-like fugitives of Genoa had sold
themselves to baptism.
"These things I had not seen ; but I took part in Lisbon in
one of the most shameful scenes ever occasioned by Christianity,
or, at any rate, by a Christian professing to further the glory
of his religion.
Our children had been torn from us and baptised. The date
of our expulsion was past, but there were not enough ships to
carry us, the king, contrary to his promise, having left only one
port open to us.
THE DESIRE FOR IMMORTALITY.
"Into the dark vastness of a church, in which glitter the
colours of images, banners, carvings, candles, screens, and vested
ecclesiastics, suddenly enters a crowd of soldiers hauling resisting
Jews by ropes, by their hair, and by their clothes-the soldiers,
a little heated and disordered, laughing or brutally punishing
the vicious Jews; the Jevs, mostly pale green from three days
of enforced fast in confinement, strangling themselves or each
other, or with furious faces finally dragged to the font and the
priest; the priests, abstracted from earth, singing and reciting
Latin; the officials of his Majesty, King Manoel the Great,
solemn and medievally magnificent. These form the scene.
This baptism hardly stained my soul. I took part in a few
Christian ceremonies before I could leave Portugal, but thereby
I harmed neither liberty nor Israel. They had not convinced me
that the Messiah had already been with men, that the reign of
God had already commenced.
I left Portugal before the Inquisition was established there-
before blood-stained priests forbade the 'new Christians' to leave
the land and rejoiced to see them burning, or enclosed in the
dungeon's never-lifting darkness, or racked by good torture-
instruments. Orphans and widows were robbed of their inherit-
ance and lived in poverty; brave men thought of burning heat
and bowed before the Crucifix."
"I journeyed to Constantinople. Ishmael was violent and
sometimes fanatical, but seldom systematically intolerant; his
violence was more easily forgiven than merely the cold insults
and moral reasoning that the Christians gave with their injuries.
After the brain-perplexing, over-elaborated Gothic architecture
LONDON FAIRY TALES.
and the dismal Ghettos, it was pleasant for us to be in sunny
Constantinople, where there was an amusing variety and contrast
of races, thoughts, and conditions. The rich Jewish merchants
and physicians smiled when the scornful Christians needed their
influence; the Kabbalists dreamed about the transmigrations and
combinations of souls, the kingdoms of spirits, the connection
between the spirit spheres and God and the earth, and the con-
ditions that govern the coming of the Messiah; the Talmudists
forgot all troubles by entering through their books into an
abstract fairy world of -subtle arguments and solemn moving
"'Become corrupt; live in a single street shut out from all
natural life, so that your houses are ugly, dirty, overcrowded,
without trees; let the very vehemence with which you have
sought for beauty, truth, God, weaken your discretion and
change to despair and hatred; be active as money-lenders,
that our princes, by robbing you, may become rich; we will
not allow you to practise handicrafts or sell anything, except
old clothes; let money therefore be your aim---in your insecure
lives let money, if held by the gracious protection of princes
and institutions, be success; a good life be one that leads to
success. Let all aspirations be destroyed by the monotonous
weariness of dull, stupifying confinement, removed from the
sources of life, from beauty and intellect (for we'll burn your
blasphemous books; we can't understand them); let the coarse
words we say to you, that make the fairest parts of life
abominable, your imprisonments and expulsions, our mockery
of your sufferings-let these reduce you to baseness. You
THE DESIRE FOR IMMORTALITY.
shall not even clothe your children in red or blue without
exposing them to insult and yourselves to extortion; if we
give you promises of favour sealed sixty-fold we will break
them, for law and religion command us not to keep faith
with Jews.' Frankfort spoke thus to its Jews; but can the body
excommunicate the heart? Israel is the heart of the nations;
suffering teaches her to be a sympathising priest, who shares
all pains and sensations of the body.
"Though Israel was disfigured by suffering and weariness,
she was beautiful. Palestine is the most beautiful country on
earth, and the poetry of Palestine was in the dirty Ghettos:
in them on the day of rejoicing we were glad, and on the
day of mourning wept; for Israel had to live, and the calm,
happy indifference of the Stoic, that neither desires nor avoids,
would have killed her with inertness; we rejoiced when some-
one was married, or when Israel had come out of Egypt; we
repeated joyfully the wish, Next year'-(or was it sorrowful,
because so often repeated and unfulfilled ?)-' next year in
Jerusalem'; we rejoiced because the Egyptians were drowned
in the Red Sea; but often we wept too, because our sons and
brothers and friends had been murdered (thus Edom celebrated
Easter at the same season as Passover); we sat on the ground
on the day on which both the temples were destroyed.
Ceremonies were life to us; in fulfilling the ceremonies of
the Catholic Church the Marranos must have hated more than the
acting of a lie, because the religious ceremonies of every nation
adapt themselves to the emotions and character of the nation;
and (if I may digress a little further) it has often seemed to me
that the exaggerated expressions employed by the Jew Jesus
have prevented Western peoples from seriously following him."
LONDON FAIRY TALES.
"The Judengasse of Frankfort was unhealthy; I succeeded
in reaching Rome, paying a tax at nearly every frontier, like
an animal going to market. Here I became a money-lender-
I did not like the trade, but handicrafts and the owning of
land and houses had just been again forbidden to Jews there,
and of course no Christian would take them into his service.
Italy was sad, her beautiful children pale and weary. Des-
pair silenced their passion and intellect.
"A new spirit seemed to be among us, and yet all the old
delusions revived. Doubt perplexed us with her different
gospels; Spinoza, excommunicated by the Rabbis of Amster-
dam, had explained his pantheistic philosophy; before that,
Uriel da Costa, who had been a Catholic in Spain, had been
twice excommunicated from Judaism in the same city of
Amsterdam, had passed fifteen years of religious doubt in
almost complete solitude, and had finally committed suicide; in
Turkey the long-expected Messiah had appeared (Christians
and Jews told us so),. but, though he had publicly wedded the
scroll of the Law, he became a Mohammedan ; every moral
law was subjected to enquiry, and yet superstitions, beliefs in
charms, amulets, the evil eye, and tormenting spirits, became
general; mystics conversed with spirits, and in order to hasten
the coming of the Messiah, whose soul, they said, will be the
last that enters earth, they overcame sin by sin, and repealed
all the laws of chastity; others fenced the Law with innumer-
able new restrictions, and reflected on new hypothetical cases
of doubtful conduct.
Indeed we were weary and in despair; perhaps despair
silenced our intellect. I believe that the smell of death, lives
of feigned Christianity and of some consequent self-hatred, had
THE DESIRE FOR IMMORTALITY.
peculiarly wearied the minds of the Marranos, who now every-
where again lived among us after generations of Catholicism.
"Every little mind that could delight in mastery, and knew
how weak we were, threw the stone of insult at us ; if the
Jews dared reply, the law would neither help nor avenge him,
though fire, imprisonment, and sword and torture were no
longer quite ready to punish his impertinence.
But the Christian Churches grew weaker; the medieval
darkness of the Gentiles began to depart."
"Could you miss a century ? It must be tea-time."
"No," said another lady, "it is still too hot to move as
soon as you climb up out of the shadow of the trees. But
just pull me up, I am getting tired of this rock."
"I shall have to move, too," I said; "when your shadow
goes the sun burns me between the shadows of the leaves-
like a jealous lover, deserted by the delight of his eyes, but left
with a rival. And I cannot sit on rock-L am too thin."
"I will spread out my skirt for you to sit on. Now don't
get excited-you disturb me too much when you do; gently
continue your dismal and disgusting lamentations till tea-
The water thundered softly and bubbled as it curled foam-
ing between the rocks or poured over them .
"I became an actor" (so the Jew said,-I have omitted
some of his reminiscences), "and not a very bad one; I had
already played many parts in life. Many Jews had at that
time to play a changeable part; some revolutionary Frenchmen
said no one should be molested on account of his religious
LONDON FAIRY TALES.
opinions; and Napoleon (wishing to be tolerant if possible)
had asked an assembly of representatives summoned from the
Jews: 'Is it true that you are a monstrous ogre, ready to
devour weak, silly Christians? Or could you love French men,
and marry French women?' But some Germans, dressing them-
selves in medieval Catholic costume, said, 'Purge the land
of this vermin-kill or expel them,' and one day they chased
an old Christian professor through the streets because he had
said Jews ought to be legally equal to other mammals.
Therefore many of us had to be, now, almost fellow-citizens;
and next instant, vile slaves."
"The Jews began to enter the Gentile world freely when
the scientific barbarians were conquering it; when it was
generally accepted that man lives by bread and money alone,
and therefore had best work like a machine, when he makes
what he needs; that the starvation of the body is painful,
but that eye and mind may feed with impunity on ugliness.
"(The Irish, Spaniards, and Italians, who have probably
expressed their extreme characteristics in art, and amongst
whom love of beauty is spread, have grown weaker ; the
Germans and English, amongst whom artists are aliens, have
grown stronger. The Dutch and French, both artistic peoples,
were already strong when the present power was established,
-when it was decided that money is success-and therefore
that they are not become small does not disprove my argu-
"The victory of this error can be partly explained: Pro-
testants had misunderstood Judaism (or the Old Testament)
and (unconsciously) copied it badly. Palestine is the most
THE DESIRE FOR IMMORTALITY.
beautiful country on earth; but to them beauty and vice are
too often synonymous. In Christianity the dominant philo-
sophy (for every philosophy has been found in it) is a stoicism
that avoids joy and sorrow (it often refuses even the fruits of
enjoyment that fall into its hand, and which the heathen
Stoic would have eaten), and finds the Kingdom of Heaven
in a mental peace, which shields it from all the darts that
pierce the body, and also from all the disturbing (perhaps
wicked) joys with which nature would soothe it. Now when
such a religion has taught people not to desire beauty, and
when the religion itself grows weak, the people's aims become
coarse; then money-money, if held with the protection of
the law and of the whole of existing institutions-is success.
High endeavours, whether successful or not, are wasted if they
earn no money.
In short, the virtues of the Ghetto, the pleasing visible
humanity of an essentially excitable people, are wanting in
modern Europe ; its supposed vices are spread all over
"I do not say these were the characteristic vices of the
Ghetto; if these vices were there, they were the results ot
centuries of affliction, and the sins of despair; and if they
were only in the weaker minds, would you have me say
'These are the results of Christianity,-such are the Aryans,'
when I read the reports of the police-courts?
"These were my reflections when I entered London, and saw
its innumerable people and endless streets; grey, straight streets
beneath a grey sky, and between them flows an endless noise
.of trams, carts, omnibuses, cabs ;-trains, trams, carts, omnibuses,
cabs, people go noisily over gigantic grey bridges beneath which
flow grey, silent, dirty waters."
LONDON FAIRY TALES.
"If you want to go back a century, become a Jew and go to
Russia. When some tyrant willed it, I was driven from my
home, and, when he willed it, shut up and forbidden to go
beyond a certain frontier; my life was made uncertain by his
mysterious will ; the stone of insult was cast at me, the
entrance to intelligence and honour closed to me."
Our actual history seems a parable, in which Israel stands
for humanity. All men must desire good when they perceive
it ; just as Israel desires God, beauty, truth, and has not
remained alive in dangers because of her "wickedness. These
men who are so obstinate in their stupidities and so alien,-if
you will enter the Ghetto in which race, conditions, and history
have separated them from you,-you will find them human;
had you been born in their Ghetto you would have their
faults, and if you search for them, they have virtues that your
mission and history have denied you. 'Had you been confined
by poverty and ugliness, the faults and follies you despise in
others would be your own. These women, whom you could
never love; these labourers, who never tell you their sorrows;
these ordinary people, coarse in their manners, too ready to
laugh with every sinner, and so ugly that you find in them no
beauty ; these repeaters of one soul-destroying drudgery, to
whom the day is a constant repetition of one unintellectual
formula ; these classes who oppose you,-they have eyes, hands,
organs, senses, affections, passions (they are more human than
I,-I talk virtuously, sometimes sit alone and sigh, but I can-
not yet pity the neighbour who suffers by my side);--perhaps
THE DESIRE FOR IMMORTALITY.
their lives condemn our words, as the Ghetto denounced the
Christianity that produced it.
"In vain you maintain any wrong by might. 'Truth is our
king, there is none besides'; all persecutions, weaknesses,
human inexorable needs, will never make men wash themselves
free from the worship of it;-in the end it shall reign over the
whole earth,-peace will come to all (not a new dream of
peace),-all labour will be fruitful and beautiful.
We have all sinned and done foolishly; we are all exiled
and slaves; we all hope.
The light still recedes before the darkness and the dark-
ness before the light."
"It's time for tea," they all cried, and my hands helped
ladies to climb over the rocks and slippery grass into the road
that led along the valley to the cottage by the bridge; there
we had tea.
MY father was a map-draughtsman, and often he sat the whole
night intent on lines, or calculations, or relievo-modellings, that
to me were as uninteresting as is a railway time-table. But
there are people who read a time-table with interest, tracing
complex journeys in it, or comparing speeds, or studying
geography, or imagining travel-pictures. Sometimes my father
invented little contrivances which I could never understand,
despite the careful explanations that he gave me.
To my surprise he left me 0oo a year when he died. I
then began to live alone in London.
I am greatly influenced by my background, so I ought to
describe London to you-or, at least, one street as sample.
The street hawkers half despairingly attempt to sell toys
that (at best) are worthless; the pavements are crowded with
men so soulless that they seem mainly composed of a stomach
and clothes, and with women who are dressed so as to show
nothing of Nature's beauty of form ; the roads are a- babel of
vehicles that convey men from ugliness to ugliness. Like a
basket of roses on the head of a wretched man is the blue
sky between the roofs and chimneys of the opposite houses.
For, like a beautiful savage who wearies herself in tattooing
and painting her body and hanging ornaments on her nose and
lips, so do men seek troubles and invent ugly labours.
A man in London is only a single figure in the crowded,
restless street; his voice is insignificant in the midst of the
And yet how often I walked through the streets dreaming
of my future glory, when I should have learnt to be a
magician, whose single presence would heal and make happy,
whose words would solve the universal purpose, whose thoughts
would make straight the crooked places, and whose soul would
destroy evil with its purity, who would open wide the cage in
which the multitude of the men in the streets are imprisoned.
It seems long ago. It was before I heard the voice
of the Witch.
"Strive no longer," she said, "you cannot prevail. You are
not starving, nor ragged, nor hated ; why, then, are you not
Your thoughts will never fashion any forms; your soul is
worth no care.
"Enemy and friend laugh at your incomprehensible efforts;
neither friend nor enemy praises your foolish life.
"Come with me; forget your desires, and let us meet
Do not suppose that I am a she-devil; I am not an
embodiment of the corrupting influence of the world, of the
cares and riches that make the soul sleep. I shall not teach
you the incentives to dishonesty, the chains of want, the im-
possibility of virtue, the meanness of man, the insatiable desire
LONDON FAIRY TALES.
for pleasure, and the other bitter lessons with which the world
teaches that all nobility is vanity.
I would bring you to the joys of life that you have never
known and always need.
"For you have lived apart from men-silently preparing to
The night sky was such a clear, pale blue that it seemed
to spread a shelter of peace over the restless noisy streets; the
shadowy, gas-lit streets were crowded with figures blurred by
the darkness, who came to breathe the air after the day of
indoor labour; but the air was scarcely cooler than it had
been by day, so that many a pair of lovers were too tired to
talk, though glad to be again together.
The Witch opened the door of her. house; we entered and
she shut out the discords of the street.
The Witch sat down and sang the song of human life, but
instead of feeling joy, I felt a great disgust.
I was like a certain young Prince to whom it was
thought well to instruct concerning life, in order that he
might learn to live consistently and with a purpose in all his
actions. Therefore, one day his teachers caused a procession
to pass before him. First came a man sounding a trumpet
and one bearing a banner; then one clashing cymbals and one
beating a drum; then a number of others bearing big banners
and sounding trumpets; and all these summoned the passions
of life-the insatiably starving multitude of passions, and they
summoned the dim forms of the triumphant Future. And the
trembling Prince grew wise with a wisdom that uncovers the
cruelty, the decay, and the indecency that prevade life. .
THE WITCH. 63
Thus to me also there came a great disgust, as the Witch
sang the song of human life. .
Half bird, half woman, were the creatures on which we flew
away over the earth; we flew away over the mysterious
disordered masses of houses, over lines of gas-lamps, over the
winding river bordered and crossed by lights and reflections,
and over the whole earth.
Instead of joy I felt disgust, as I saw the human .life over
which we flew, and as the Witch spoke to me concerning it.
The Witch was wise with wisdom that terrified me.
"I show you reality," she said, "and the real joys of life
that you have never known." But I always wished that I
could return to my ignorant romantic dreams.
IT seemed to William Ward as though his soul had once been
in a picture gallery, where there were pictures of nature and
of heroic deeds: the deeds which he was to do in the future
were amongst them. But gradually Fate had covered the
pictures with greyness; and now his soul was in a bare prison.
Would it die there, and would he then continue his daily
office-work without it ?
He had locked his desk, and put on his hat, and entered
the street whilst these thoughts passed through his mind.
It was too early for him to go to the art-class, where he
spent his leisure evenings, so he went into the British Museum
reading-room. There was a soothing silence in it, despite the
large number of people seated at the tables that radiate from
the walls of bookshelves.
He sat down and began to read Misty's Prologue to
Theology, at the second chapter, entitled "The Birth of
Religion." He read as follows:-
And the serpent said to man: Eat of the tree of know-
ledge, and you shall live like gods, far from this rough, un-
cultivated garden ; you shall know a life far different from
your present life of unvaried simplicity.
"Man ate; then he began to built fortifications against
"He then discovered that God's primary conceptions are too
impure for man to see.
"And man began to feel that he was not free; that he was
a Word of God; that he was only an intermediary in the
chain of effects that develops from the one Great Cause; and
he began to ask for what purpose he was being used, why he
was born to suffer and to sin, and how he could best employ
"Yet despite all doubts as to right conduct and the pur-
poses of life, every effort and enthusiasm towards beauty is noble.
"Each of us helps to torture others with the cruel lash of
Fate, and each of us suffers from it; but with the other hand
each may help to advance the universe. Out of the pattern
of ordinary life, where we turn one wheel or are turned
within one wheel of the complex machine of organised indus-
try,-where even the minutes when we are most free are
uniform-out of this routine there grows the flower of un-
changeable passion,-of romance, of poetry, of faith.
"For Art, Religion, and Knowledge are flowers on one stem,
though they are not equal in beauty and brilliance."
Ward now turned over the pages of the book and began
to read in the middle of the fourteenth chapter, which is
entitled Satan." He read as follows:-
"Life is strife, and every combatant thinks that he is
fighting for the right; how varied, then, are our conceptions
of the evil Opposer,-of Satan. Your Satan is perhaps my
LONDON FAIRY TALES.
good angel. Thus to men who declare it is well to leave
established evils untouched since it is impossible to replace
them by good, to men who live by respected old-established
means, which are yet unjust in the eyes of reason, and to all
who collect solid property and hate by instinct any uninherited
ideas and idle dreams and unprofitable admirations, and to all
hypocrites who profess the feelings and opinions of their
fathers, although they reject the principles that justified them,
-to all these people, Satan, the great Opposer, is the Hater of
the tyranny of such money-bags as only fill themselves by
emptying others, and the enemy of evil and unnecessary ugliness.
"For like every artist, the Enemy of whom we are now
speaking is the enemy of unreasonable ugliness. Every artist
must give life to his creations despite the barrenness and
opposition of the wilderness of life; he must cause them to
derive their beauty from rough, common earth and impure air,
and even evil weeds and stones. He must journey over rocks
and brambles towards the temple of perfection; he must
struggle towards it although he knows that he can never
attain to it. Some poor fellows must even work like the
builders of the second temple, who 'every one with one of his
hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a
weapon'; for with one hand they defend themselves against
the wolf at the door, and with the other they seek to accom-
plish the work of their heart.
"The spirit of poetry and progress, endowed with immor-
tality, endurance, and genius,-this is the Opposer to the heavy
immovable multitude, who are exactly as honest as the laws
and customs of their time and place."
Ward closed the book and replaced it on the shelves of
the reference library.
The girl model was already undressed when he arrived at
the school of art. She placed herself in various positions, from
which one was selected, remarkable for the fine line of the
bending body. Ward's mind, tired by the day's business, was
greatly distracted by the conversation of some of the students;
gossip about models, funny stories, and disagreeable bass
undertones,-these made every line an effort to him.
After an hour of work someone called out "Rest," and the
model shook her aching limbs, and the men formed into talka-
tive groups. Ward remained unmoved on his seat and found
himself staring at the man who was sitting beside him. He
saw a pale, yellow, bloodless face, which suggested great vital
force, despite this morbidness of colour; an intensely serious
and calm face, yet marked by passion. Feeling obliged to say
something to the man after having stared at him in silence,
Ward enquired whether conversation disturbed him- in his work.
"No," answered the stranger, "a little of the cold cinders
of opposition cannot extinguish my enthusiasm."
After a day's work I am afraid that talking does disturb
me," Ward replied; but despite all the noise around him, when
the model had found her old position, he became entirely
absorbed in his drawing. The words of the stranger had
given him strength; he was absorbed in his work and happy.
After the end of another hour and during the next ten
minutes of rest for the model, he saw to his astonishment a
copy of Misty's Prologue to Theology lying on a shelf, on which
pots, plates, and all kinds of picturesque rubbish were kept.
Some student must have placed it there. He commenced read-
ing it .where he had left off at the Museum, where it says:
"This Enemy possesses, it is said, certain pictures, one of
which he sometimes gives to a favoured artist, who, when he
looks at this picture, sees a vision of beauty come over it, and
remain until he has copied it and preserved it for the world.
LONDON FAIRY TALES.
"Is it some faint picture of perfection which is given to
the genius, and which ever interests him in vain efforts to copy
all visions of beauty that come near to it; or is it likeness of
his own soul, or of Love, or of the beloved which inspires him
with visions ?
"But what is his own soul, or Love, or the beloved, save
a faint picture of perfection ?
Or is some part of God's perfect word given to him, and
he beholds it dimly through the beautiful veil of God's work,
and reverently he seeks to copy the word as seen through
the veil ? "
Ward was glad when, after the end of the next hour's
and of the evening's work, he found that the stranger was
walking in the same direction as himself.
Of course it is hard," said the stranger, to oppose your-
self to the weariness of the end of a busy and monotonous
The words were perhaps trivial, but they were sympathetic,
and Ward opened the innermost chambers of his heart to him.
He told the stranger that he thought he was sacrificing
his evenings to failure; but that he could not leave .off working
at Art, even though he knew that it were so.
"Usually," he said, "I have an idea, waiting to be ex-
pressed on the Sunday of rest; but it has to wait in some
distant, inconvenient part of my brain, for during the week
I am busy with other things.
"When Sunday comes, I cannot express it without a model;
sometimes I undress myself and stand before a looking-glass."
What would you give for the certainty of having great
merit and of doing good work ?-Your life?"
Yes; but what do you mean ? "
Will you give more-your happiness, your peace, all your
prosperity? Death is the end, but life without peace and
happiness is filled with terrors that wait in the future."
"I would give my peace, all my happiness, and all my
"Take this picture; gazing at it you will see visions of
beauty and give them to others; yet,' what the world calls
success you shall not have.
"You will live by means of Art-your genius will at once
be sufficiently recognized to keep you from starvation; you will
at once have to express so much that there will be no hope
of your attending to your other business."
It seemed to be a picture of a man fighting with a dragon
that Ward took; the fight with the evil, the unnecessary, the
ugly, was to move him to effort; in this everlasting struggle
he saw the presence of the perfect God, who is the source
of all change and vitality.
When Ward reached his home he looked at the picture
and saw a blackness come over it,, and white lines twisted
themselves in decorative designs upon the blackness; then
black and white melted together,, and grey figures of all the
demons that oppress mankind passed before him-Greed,
Luxury, Custom, Cruelty, Selfishness, and many others, bear-
ing lashes, the waving lines of which combined the figures into
one harmonious design; then the grey figures melted and he
saw Fate holding the universe in her hands, and, when she
touched with her body the dreams and. the thoughts of men
with which she was clothed, they fell on to the earth and
covered it with beautiful forms ; then he saw the earth grow
larger, and he saw the great landscapes revolving on it, painted
with the endless range of God's palette..
And this is man's greatest happiness, when out of the
smoke and thorns of life he sees the Temple of Beauty rise.
70 LONDON FAIRY TALES.
A hand draws the curtain from the door of the temple-
the heaviness leaves our eyelids, we wonder at the beauty of
the vision. .
From that time Ward lived very happily, for he was im-
prisoned by beautiful visions ; yet many pitied him because of
his poverty, for they did not know that his mind was always
of+ol+..m Irt. +-g., ., P s.
fC~y~ ~4~ 1kr... I .r I
THE TEMPLE .OF BEAUTY.
We see and feel much that is unknown to the inhabitants of
the Land of Happiness. One of them once came to London
in order to make accurate sketches of our lives, which might
help him in the design of his novels. The sketches them-
selves were framed by him in his book, Specimen Days in
London. In this book he tells of many of the different kinds
of people who live in London; with what occupations and feel-
ings they spend the day; who make and who destroy; who
are at peace, in beauty and in happiness, and who are in un-
rest, in ugliness, and in weariness; who are the pillars of the
LONDON FAIRY TALES.
State and who are its ornaments. Sometimes also we seem
to hear in this book the message of one who is native in
the Land of Happiness, and knows that the unexplored Land
of the Future may be to the Present as is his country to ours.
The traveller from the Land of Happiness became a mem-
ber of the Disputers' Club.
"All human feelings," said one of the members on a certain
evening, "are reducible to two elements." Then he paused to
look for words with which to explain his meaning.
"I hate a picture that pretends to have been painted with
great feeling," said an art-critic who was conversing in another
circle; some painters do .their best work when they forget
that they have souls."
The second path to happiness, corresponding to the
second element of human feeling," the moralist was now say-
ing, is by a Stoic calm."
"You are as metaphysical as a Persian," said another.
"The most stoical action I ever knew is that of a man-Sapira
is his name-who was rich by. inheritance, but who sold all he
had and gave it to the poor, and is now earning his living as
a tailor. He lives somewhere in the East End of London."
"I should like to know him," said the traveller from the
Land of Happiness.
Although no one at the club knew Sapira's address, the
traveller at last succeeded on a Sunday morning in finding his
He has pushed his way through a narrow street in White-
chapel that was filled with barrows and foreign bargainers-
they were Jews from the East of Europe. A few English
workmen were walking through the noisy street, in which
everyone expressed himself with Oriental exaggeration ; the
THE TEMPLE OF BEAUTY.
Britons were completely prejudiced against everything foreign to
them, and in practice completely indulgent to all foreigners.
A narrow street of small houses branched out of this
market-street; some of the children who were playing in its
roadway showed the traveller the house that he was seeking,
and guided him up the dark stairs to the right door.
He knocked on the door panel and then entered.
"I hope you will forgive the intrusion of a stranger. I have
been told that if I dared ask you, you could do me a great
"What is it that I can do for you?" asked Sapira.
"I come from the Land of Happiness; I am studying
London life. You can give me much information."
Something I have seen of life, but my memory has few
pictures worthy to be exhibited."
Concerning the present manner of your life," continued the
"The noise of joking stupidity irritates me in the workshop;
a periodical groaning that comes through the wall from an
adjacent room disturbs me here-it is the complaint of some-
one sitting in lonely pain."
He told him of many other things: of a thirst for
colour, at times when the streets are grey and shortened by
a closing mist, into which the brightly painted omnibuses
soon retreat and become only moving shadows; of wanderers
in the streets, whose faces show the sallow passion of the
South and who sell ice-creams to little red-cheeked boys; of
the unreasoning emotions of the Salvation Army meeting;
of the docks, and the ships, and the processions of men who
unload them; of starvation; of the awakening of a great
machine, when its wheels and belts and bars return to their
LONDON FAIRY TALES.
noisy, monotonous life; of red-hot gleaming metal poured into
moulds in the dark dusty workshop; of the anxieties of seeking
work; and of huge cart-horses that crowd the narrow City
streets of warehouses.
These are a few of the subjects of which they spoke.
"I cannot find words with which to thank you," said the
traveller. May I leave with you a Stone of Good Luck
which I have with me?"
Sapira thanked him, took the stone, and showed him the
way to the street.
Now Beauty sees all things from her temple, where she rules
over all that is beautiful.
Her temple is in the air and quite near to all of us;
whoever possesses the Stone of Good Luck will be carried
Therefore the wind took Sapira and carried him to the
entrance of the Temple of Beauty.
Beauty was standing at the entrance. She was dressed in
modern clothes-for the garments of Beauty are infinite, and
she need never clothe herself in the forms of the distant past.
She held in her hand the torch by whose light she reveals
to us the joy of appearances.
She led him into the temple in silence; and although she
gave him no gold of learning, wit, or morality, yet he greatly
rejoiced to see her. For when the poor man sees her, he for-
gets the length of his drudgery, and the thinness of his life;
when the sick man sees her, he forgets the unceasing tortures
of pain, and the despairing forgets the terror of the future.
With the light of her torch she illumined the pictures that
are within the temple.
THE TEMPLE OF BEAUTY.
He saw Venus looking at sleeping Mars. The boy-satyrs
are boldly playing with the weapons of the sleeper; one hides
his small head in the great helmet, and helps another thrust
the lance they can scarcely raise from the ground. A third
one sounds reveille on a large sea shell close to the sleeping
ear of the god.
Like one who, after years spent in a whitewashed cell,
looks again at the sky and the earth, thus intently does Venus
gaze at sleeping Mars.
She lies upon the grass, raising her body on her bent arm,
and gazing at his naked form.
In the next picture that Beauty showed to him he saw the
slave, looking into the dark night. The slave's neck is chained
to his cage; his weary mind cannot go far' from the bars.
In the darkness an angel appears to him-a messenger
from God, from the great life that is in him and in the whole
The angel holds an unrolled scroll, and a gleam of light
shines on the hopeful words of God.
Like a strong naked man the angel seems; he is very tall
and a star is on his hair.
The bright scroll- lies unrolled on his extended arm, but it
is so far away that the slave cannot read the words on
In the next picture Sapira saw Death endeavouring in vain
to blow out the light of Israel. The light is enclosed in a large
lantern with a small pointed dome on the roof, and little
tinkling bells hanging from the eaves. The sides of the
lantern are formed of fantastically shaped pieces of metal,
LONDON FAIRY TALES.
connected to each other by bars, some of which are of great
curvature and some of the most rigid straightness.
Death lays his destructive hand on the lantern-case, and
blows into the brightness; in vain he swells out his bony
cheeks and draws his hairless brows down over his eye-
He saw pleasant pictures of the impossible ; pictures
abstracted from actual life, and unconcerned with human
He saw the Devil carefully folding up poor Schlemihl's
shadow as he lifts it from the grass ; he saw the Enchantress
spitting in the face of the amorous king and changing him
into a white bird with a long red beak and red feet; he saw
the man digging a grave by the light of a single candle in the
half ruined church-a grave for the corpse that sits on his
back and clasps him with dead arms and legs; he saw Fame
crowning the ghost of a genius, who had been said to fail.
He saw the gardens of Pleasure, where. all labour is play,
and where Beauty sits in nakedness.
I think it is wrongly sensual and degrading to depict
the nude," said Sapira.
"I' have a servant, called Criticism," said Beauty, "and he
shall speak to you about that."
"I wish I had considered what I desire to say to you,"
said Criticism; digressions and disorders in a critic's remarks
are as inappropriate as fairies would be in the streets of
You are probably in an inconsistent position to which
you have been led by retaining some Puritan opinions whilst
THE TEMPLE OF BEAUTY.
rejecting many others, and rejecting also all the larger prin-
ciples of which they were the logical consequences.
It seems to me that there are only two rational views as
to the morality of looking at naked figures.
"You may say: All the things of this world, all nature as we
see it with our material eyes, are sinful ; all matter is Satan's-
it is wrong either to listen with pleasure to the singing of a
bird or to look with pleasure at a naked human form.
Although we cannot be consistent in avoiding all physical
pleasure (for we live by it, and are 'all naked within our
clothes'), we are able to interfere with the satisfaction of every
carnal appetite, so as to deny to the body the greater number
of its desires.
"But there is another safe position besides this one.
You may say: In the body as well as in the mind, in the
material as well as in the spiritual, we may perceive God.
Physical pleasure is not sinful, except when it harms the mind
or the body."
Sapira lived happily in the Temple of Beauty. But when
the man from the Land of Happiness desired to return home,
he could no longer find the way to it. Many gave him
instructions concerning the road, but none had ever been there
themselves. Perhaps without the Stone of Good Luck no one
can go there, and with foolish generosity he had given it away.
(" Foolish generosity" is no doubt a pleonasm.)
The pleasant face of the cheerful gold coin was becoming
strange to him; he was obliged to remain in London and
work for his bread. He never despaired in the midst of his
troubles of returning to the Land of Happiness.
78 LONDON FAIRY TALES.
For on this weary voyage of life the most hopeless some-
times think that they see in the distance some Land of
Happiness, some island of Bimini, where the waters of youth
are flowing, and where winter is unknown. There the faded
flower returns to bloom, and the weary feet to careless joy.
At length we all do come to a silent land of peace.
For surely when we are in the grave, no hateful discordant
trumpet will call us to stand up again and put on our clothes
and boots. Our restless dust will be moulded into new forms,
our worn souls will return and pass again through the
Entrance into Life; but we shall sleep the sleep without end
-undisturbed, unwearied by any earthly noise, or heavenly
song, or infernal groaning.*
*See Heine's Bimini (Letzte Gedichte)
A POOR man once visited a millionaire. In answer to the
poor man's questions, the millionaire admitted that since he
had already travelled as much and entered as many spheres of
activity as he desired, and was already becoming dulled by
age, he expected that his future life would now mostly repeat
his past; therefore, although he was not tired of life, he was
no longer greatly interested in it; and one intense hour would
please him more than all the drowsy years that probably
remained for him.
"An hour of intense life-of active preparation and of
absorbing oblivion of your usual cares-this I can give you,"
LONDON FAIRY TALES.
said the poor man. You may enjoy it, if you now determine
to commit suicide after another hour; because to you this
deed would be motiveless, unexpected, and important,-to
prepare for it will be exciting."
The millionaire was pleased with this logic.
The millionaire admitted that he was troubled by the
difficulty of making his will ; the poor man said, You should
leave your property to me. I am exceptionally capable both
of spending money well and of enjoying myself."
When this was settled, it was difficult to decide the method
of suicide. To hang oneself needs skill; besides, there seemed
to be neither a strong rope nor a suitable sustainer for it.
The millionaire disliked violence or great exertion; he would
not therefore stab or shoot himself, or cut his own throat,
or keep his head in a basin of water, or suffocate himself in
an air-tight room. Pleasant poisons are troublesome to buy;
-chemists ask questions and only sell small quantities. To
die by holding one's breath or by drinking several bottles of
pure brandy would be attractive; but the poor man and the
millionaire were not sure that either of these is really a
possible method of suicide.
At last a sword with a letter-weight tied to its handle was
hung so that the millionaire could make it drop down and
kill him in an instant.
The poor man superintended, the millionaire did the work.
.. Thus the poor man became a millionaire. He
now ate all that he needed; he lived in a country house
far from the enervating irritation of the streets. He ceased
to devote his days to the service of hunger; he no longer
spent about ten hours a day in the little counting-house
of a small wholesale tailor; he no longer calculated the prices
of each garment, according to the measurements sent by the
retail shops, and wrote these measurements on tickets for the
use of "hands" who make the clothes at their houses ; he was
no longer confined with the persons (of which he was very
weary) of the clerk who kept the ledger and made up the
accounts, and of the head clerk, whom he had obeyed, hated,
and despised. The head clerk had to pay the "hands" at a
little sliding window, after they had brought in the work and
the head cutter had "passed" it as satisfactory; he had to
cheat so as to reduce prices wherever it was possible, and in
general he acted as cashier and sub-manager; for .the men in
the warehouse who sought out rolls of cloth from the stacks
that were .piled up to the ceiling and cut off from them the
needed lengths, and who took down verbal orders from cus-
tomers, the cutters, in the hot gas-lit room upstairs, and
sometimes the machinists, whose female chatter and clattering
wheels filled the top room-all these often referred to the head
clerk for instructions.
The millionaire was no longer confined to the companion-
ship of such people from whom his soul had derived no
benefit; he was no longer employed in the wearisome repetition
of actions that needed neither sense nor spirit; the present was
without haste or hunger, the future was without dread for him.
He endeavoured to become strong and healthy; he rode,
walked, boated, swum, skated, fenced, bicycled, and hunted.
But soon, although free from the, whip of need and the
vexations of lifeless servitude, he grew weary ; he was too
restless and unemotional to enjoy the beauties of the country
and of a healthy life.
In his new leisure he found the shelter of .reading; he
was chiefly interested by the most artificial element in books
LONDON FAIRY TALES.
(as might have been expected from his pessimism)-by the
ingenuity of the plot more than by descriptions, characters, or
emotions-by the inventiveness shown in the succession ot
incidents more than by any resemblance to actuality. .
Once the millionaire' returned to London.
But suddenly London was not London, the streets were
not streets; moving without an effort, he walked rapidly,
absorbed in the memory of a face that he had seen in the
darkness. "Would that I had had courage to shout to her," he
said to himself, "to stop her in the entanglement of moving
faces." But when he had turned backwards she had passed
away-he could not find her among the stream of traffic that
divided the pavement, and among the tumult of walkers. .
At length, near where Nelson's statue stood on a tall black
pillar (at that moment Nelson was looking on to a sky growing
red with sunset as smoke and cloud were blown away, for he
stands high above the noisy traffic of converging streets, and
high above the grey heights of the buildings that form a
square around him)-near there he again found her.
I greatly desire to hear you speak-I mean, since I once
saw you pass I have been afraid that I should never meet you."
"I shall grow taller with vanity," she answered; "but I am
glad to talk to someone to whom I am not a machine with
which to make money."
She spoke to him of the troubles and pleasures and weari-
nesses of her work-she was employed in a factory; she
related the incidents of her short holidays and of her times of
freedom; he looked with pleasure at the hardly-earned adorn-
ments of her dress. .
He asked her to become his companion; not to marry him,
for, as he said, he was too tired to love; with all his wealth
he did not live happily, and would not bring children to life;
to see her sometimes smile, to hear her talk, to sit near her, to
see her happy (sometimes, perhaps, to be alone without her),-
this was all he desired.
I shall no longer be constantly sad. Is it selfish to
think in that way?"
You are flattering," she answered; "but why are you sad?
I am not worried by my cares."
And perhaps I shall be happy," he said, "when you walk
beside me, and, in the silent darkness of my garden, the
moon kindly shows me a glimmer of your face."
AFTER the Necromancer had told me some parts of my
future, he said he would give me some new views of the
He did not merely cause my soul to transmigrate; that is,
my old self did not merely pass into new bodies, but I
became another man, with other ideas and other knowledge,
with a new mind looking out of new eyes. I gained a new
past and a new present, and lost my former past and present;
but afterwards, when I returned here into my old self, I
remembered all that I had experienced when the Necromancer
played with me, when he made me his doll.
Like a tune that repeats itself in the brain, the fragments
of life that I lived when I was outside myself are now con-
stantly reacted in my thoughts.
. To tell the story is my greatest relief from the torture of
this everlasting mental drama.
It was to .the sound of music (the great disturber of the
soul) that I lost myself; the music seemed like a joyous tune
sung in great sorrow; it reminded me of my life, which is
covered with a foolish joy, and inwardly there is disappoint-
ment, weariness, and disgust.
A buzzing sound-the carbons separated, the (electric) arc
was formed, and for the first time my invention was visible
in wire and wheel and dazzling brilliance before my delighted
But soon I heard a hissing in the light, and the brilliance
became variable, and the craters of the carbons, between which
the arc was situated, became misshapen; I peered anxiously
into my complicated arrangement of wires and wheels by
which the "feed" of the carbons was regulated..
A hissing, then darkness-the darkness of, failure.
The experiments, each accompanied by a rotation of hope,
despair, and success, the gradual construction of the idea's
metallic meclhanical body, the consultations, the patenting, the
cost, the labour--even the obtaining of the experimenting room
in which I was-they had all been in vain.
For the invention was a failure and-I was its inventor.
Like .a sad tune sung in great joy seemed the music that
the fairy played on the violin while we wildly danced round
LONDON FAIRY TALES.
her. The tune reminded me of our fairy life, which has a
likeness to sad human life, but is acted lightly without foolish
human toils and ugly, useless human cares. .
I was the only male fairy there.
The light skirts whirled far from the swift bare legs; the
bare arms rose and fell, and bent and straightened to keep
hand joined to hand, despite their owners' different whims in
I ached with hunger and thirst. An empty desert was
around me. Suddenly I saw in the distance beautiful trees,
and under them, tables bearing food. I struggled to hasten
towards them; they disappeared slowly. It became so cold
that I seemed covered with ice. I saw naked women, lying
on soft cushions and smiling to invite me; I went towards
them, and when I expected to touch them, they slowly
I said: "Although my brains burn, and the worm and
the fire devour my entrails, my mind in poetry shall peace-
fully describe my feelings." But Death came, and with nerve-
destroying music he mowed down my thoughts.' The music
seemed like a sad tune sung in great joy; as though devils
joyfully mocked me with fictitious sympathetic sorrow.
This is hell, where you are in pain while healing pleasure
is near to you; healing pleasure is near, but it is not per-
mitted to you.
Gradually I came back to myself, and to the sound of the
music which I had heard when I lost myself.
AN ENTERTAINMENT. 87
Like a sad tune sung in great sorrow the music now
seemed ; it was like the life which I have lived, without pur-
pose, will-power, or any guiding seriousness, since the Necro-
mancer disturbed my brain by using me for what he termed
" an interesting experiment in the disintegration of the soul."
THE BANQUET OF THE DESPERATE.
THE last shall be first," said one man, and with a sweep of
his arm he overturned the dishes of meat, sweets, and fruit
that lay before him; "the fulfiller of one life-destroying formula
of work shall sit in the seat of leisure, the profitable seat of
the manager; the murderer shall solemnly condemn the judge
to be hanged by the neck; the sheep shall roast the cook;
and the disreputable instruct people of good position."
Listen to none of them," said a woman, flinging the
tendrils of her hair into beautiful disorder. "See by what
charming arts my dress has been made a net for the minds of
THE BANQUET OF THE DESPERATE.
men; come closer that I may speak,-for how can I flatter
you in a crowd ?"
But he to whom she had spoken was stabbing again the
dead body of his 'enemy, and in his joy he had understood
nothing that she had said; he still panted with rage.
H'is neighbour was silent, almost motionless, and naked, as
though he had cast off all worldly distractions; he was staring
at the vision of beauty that he at length clearly beheld.
In characterless dress clothes sat another and smiled, as he
ate and drank with the oblivious satisfaction of one who loves
and possesses a good dinner.
A doctor dissected the diseased parts of a corpse, and
another learned man was intently meditating a scheme for
bringing the world and all that is therein into agreement with
a diagram that he was inventing.
Innumerable were the ways in which the different people
satisfied a little of their desires.
When the banquet was nearly concluded, the master of the
ceremonies rose, obtained silence, and said:
Ladies and gentlemen, at this moment, when we, who are
desperate, are draining the only cups of pleasure that we can
attain, I do not wish to weary you with my after-dinner
speech; but I cannot let you depart without some ceremony.
I think that here in England we deprive ourselves of pleasure
by avoiding symbols and signs of feeling; even 'pleases' and
'thank-yous,' and greetings and words of suitable civility and
motions of endearment often seem much,-they add ideas and
emotions to the struggle for more solid things-they make less
material the relations between masters and servants, between
lovers, friends, and companions. Therefore we are come to-
gether, and shall together drink the waters of forgetfulness-
90 LONDON FAIRY TALES.
the end of weariness. Drink joyfully, ladies and gentlemen,
and die in a happy moment, and with the hope that the in-
destructible. elements, of which we are composed, may (if it be
possible), in the shapes into which they will be moulded, assume
ever increasing beauty."
Bowing a farewell one to another, the banqueters drank
glasses of poison.
I. A LEGEND.
AN old woman, dirty and dressed in rags, fell fainting in the
street. I took her in my arms and carried her into my room.
She opened her eyes, and I gave her some wine.
The room was dark; a beautiful old crucifix hung on the
wall. The blood from the hands and feet and side seemed to
fall into the wine-glass when she put it on the table.
The deadly sufferings of the past fell into our life-giving
wine, and the signs of their cruelty taught me pity. I kissed
the old woman, although she was dirty, ugly, and disreputable.
Then the city was disenchanted, and its ugliness changed
to beauty; even the old woman became beautiful.
II. AN IMPRESSION OF THE IMPOSSIBLE.
It was too dark to read; I closed my book of fairy tales.
Then I saw a procession of the princesses of Fairyland pass
The shrouded princess from the east, the black-haired
92 LONDON FAIRY TALES.
maiden with the dark cloak clasped at the throat and falling
over her pale dress and naked feet, the golden-haired one with
the embroidered dress and cap, the enchantress with mystic
signs on her dress and carrying the magic wand, and other
skirts and faces dimly seen in the darkness,-they passed
I said: "Princesses of Fairyland, what service may I
seriously do for you?"
They answered : "Be as merry as you may, for by us
your services are thrown aside."