in 1796, she entirely ignored the code of morality convenient in a society whose basis is the family. In the succession of her "lovers" only Patiomkin, and for a moment Gregory Orlof, acquired a position of the first political importance; and Patiomkin's was maintained long after his first relation had come to an end. It has been ascribed to her as a merit that she pensioned these worthies handsomely, instead of dealing with them after the manner of Christina of Sweden; and that she was able to make passion, which has lost others, coincident with her calculated selfinterest. Certainly she entered, a child, into a society "rotten before it was ripe." She was surrounded with a court long demoralized by a succession of drunken and dissolute czarinas, which aped the corruption of Versailles more consummately than its refinement. The age was that of Louis XV., of Lord Sandwich, of Augustus the Strong; in it even a Burke had persuaded himself that "vice lost half its evil by losing all its grossness." The reader of Bayle and Brantôme had been introduced to a bizarre sort of morality; her "spiritual father," Voltaire, was the author of "La Pucelle," and "Jacques le Fataliste" proceeded from the same pen as the "University for Russia." Dide rot, indeed, whose moral obscenity was not the whole of the man, but was. nevertheless, sincere and from the centre, was able to compliment her on her freedom from "the decencies and virtues, the worn-out rags of her sex." She had no fund of theoretical cynicism on such matters, nor, on the other hand, the slightest moral pretence. The revolutionary Moniteur branded her as Messalina. "Cela ne regarde que moi," she said haughtily, and the sheet circulated throughout the empire. Such is the summary of the gallons of printers' ink that have soiled paper on this account. It is the aspect of her allowed to escape no one, and therefore

the portraits of Peter III. and Paul I.; a resemblance stronger still in Paul's eccentric policy, temperment, and miserable end.

we say no more of it here. How easy it is to "hint and chuckle and grin" with the "chroniques scandaleuses!" easier still to be incontinent of one's moral indignation. The truth is that this backstair gossip misses, on the whole, that just proportion necessary if you would not only see but also perceive. Catharine, whom her generation called "the Great," had one absorbing passion; it was the greatness of Russia, and of herself as ruler of Russia-"mon petit ménage," as she would call it, with her touch of lightness-and she desired to be the first amateur of "la grande politique" in Europe.

"Elle brillait surtout par le caractère," says Waliszewski, whose volumes, collecting most of what is known about Catharine, I have freely consulted. It is only natural that her biographer should regard her as a strikingly complex and exceptional being. "Nous sommes tous des exceptions." Yet she is not essentially different from the "woman of character" you may meet in every street. Given her splendid physical constitution there is nothing prodigious about her except her good fortune in every crisis and important action of her career. In one of his Napoleonic fits of incoherence, Patiomkin said vividly enough that the empress and himself were "the spoilt children of God." For herself, she says in that introductory page, which SainteBeuve has well compared with Machiavelli, that what commonly passes for good fortune is in reality the result of natural qualities and conduct. If that satisfies, it is so much to her credit. Certainly, "the stars connived" with her from the day in 1762 when she galloped in her cuirassier's uniform through the streets of St. Petersburg. "Toute la politique," she said, "est fondée sur trois mots, circonstances, conjectures et conjonctures;" and like many leaders of action she was in her moments a fatalist, for then she saw how little, after all, the greatest, as Bismarck says, can control events.


Matrimony by advertisement is popularly supposed to lack glamour; and I feel a reasonable shyness in confessing that my introduction to the most romantic of all literary loves was brought about by a press cutting agency. Sometime in the winter of 1887-88 I received a parcel of cuttings, which included one from the St. James's Gazette, entitled "Meade Primus to his Proud Parent." The reader will find something very much like it by turning to chap. xx. of his copy of "My Lady Nicotine," by J. M. Barrie. At this time, however, and for a year or two after, I did not know the author's name; I only knew that this man's humor differed in a subtle way from other men's humor, and hoped that when next he set forth to write about boys I might be there to read.

A year or two after it became a fairly common experience of mine to find myself waiting for a few minutes in a certain publisher's room. In the bookcase stood a copy of "When a Man's Single," published in the autumn of 1888. By this time Mr. Barrie's name was beginning to be noised abroad, and I took down the volume with curiosity. The copy belonged, or had belonged, to an eminent novelist, who had passed it on to the publisher, no doubt with the kindly purpose of calling his attention to the work of this young man. I wonder how often I began to read that book. "One still Saturday afternoon, some years ago, a child pulled herself through a small window into a kitchen in the Kirk Wynd of Thrums.

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It grew to a point of honor to begin at the very beginning, and always the interruption came before I reached the end of chap. ii. Months passed, and I read the "Auld Licht Idylls" and "A Window in Thrums" and underwent their spell, but still without guessing that this master of our hearts, the creator of Jess and Leeby and the wonderful world of Thrums, was also the writer who had tickled my lungs with the economics of Meade Primus. The

first glimmer of enlightenment came at length with a determined perusal of the book which had baffled me so often, and was confirmed in April, 1890, by "My Lady Nicotine."

Now concerning "Sentimental Tommy,” Mr. Barrie's latest book, and (as many will hold) his masterpiece, three very obvious remarks may be made at the outset. The first is, that Mr. Barrie now for the first time turns to serious purpose that queer knowledge of the humors of childhood which he formerly in the case of Meade Primus, for example wasted upon trifles. The second is, that he concurrently raises what one may call the Thrums note to the n'th power. I cannot offer to define that note exactly, but love of home will be found in it, and of the hearth, and of the worn faces of kinsfolk, and of all things homely; and a sense of tears and of the heroism of obscure lives; and an exile's regret, lingering upon trifles; and the smile of one who knows better, and the sigh of one who knows better still. Let it suffice that you all recognize what so many have imitated of late. And let it be hoped that after reading "Sentimental Tommy" you will all recognize the imitations for what they are. For even the pathos of the last chapter of "A Window in Thrums" did not reach the emotional intensity of Jean Myles's last message to Aaron Latta, or of her last Hogmanay, or of Aaron's last look up at his old love, or of Grizel's "straiking" of her mother the Painted Lady. You may contend that this pathos is almost intolerably poignant and altogether too frequent, and that by reason of it the masterpiece now and then comes dangerously near to resembling a tour de force. But you cannot deny that in this book, for good or ill, Mr. Barrie has allowed his genius the fullest expression of its own individual quality, and has drawn notes unapproachable and inimitable from the very strings which his imitators selected for their experiments in "thrumming."

And in the third place (though this observation is really implied in the foregoing one), "Sentimental Tommy"


must be recognized as a book of genius before the critic falls to work upon it with line and measure, and that recognition must qualify your acceptance of the critic's measurements and conclusions. It seems a hard thing to say: but it is the postulate, nevertheless. The critic cannot undertake to explain genius or say in what it consists. But it exists so evidently in "Sentimental Tommy" as almost to encourage a hope that time and popularity may waft it into the ken even of those who make speeches about Literature at public feasts when her health is toasted immediately after that of the Reserve Forces. In theory nothing could be better than our custom of entrusting this toast to a gentleman whose good I will towards Literature stands above suspicion of personal interest, and associating it with the name of another gentleman who has a capital memory for funerals. But in practice these orators too constantly invest their theme with a pathological interest unsuited to the occasion; they come to bury Literature, not to praise her; they tell us not of her health, but of her last hours. "Answer me," demands A, "what has happened to literature of late? Where are the giants?" And B responds, "Literature is moribund; and of giants I am sorry to report a total dearth. I myself have had the privilege of escorting as pall-bearer, the last five or six to their resting-place." We cannot hope that the genius which so evidently lends its own distinction to page after page of Mr. Barrie's novel will persuade these sad augurs to mock their own presage, or even to look at each other with an awed surmise, silent; but it may induce a shadow of distrust upon their too hasty assumption that the Sacred Choir began to droop at the exact moment when A embraced a professional career; and died, and were buried, one by one, in the coffins of B's distinguished friends. Speaking merely as a hack whose business constrains him to take the elementary trouble of reading the literature on which he discourses, I must timidly confess to having detected, or believed

myself to detect, signs of genius in as many as three writers among our younger living novelists-in Miss Schreiner, Mr. Kipling, and Mr. Barrie. I would add the name of Mr. John Davidson, who has genius and writes novels now and then; but his novels are not novels of genius, and he seems to have followed prose fiction, as Saul followed asses, on his way to find a kingdom.

To come to the book-"Sentimental Tommy" is, first of all, a study of what we call the "artistic temperament;" and the owner of this temperament is exhibited to us a boy, by parentage a lowland Scot, and but little, if at all, above the peasant class. The reader's lips at once hesitate over an august name. Is it can it be that Mr. Barrie's mind dwelt on Robert Burns as he drew the portrait? To be frank, I do not know. Let us first examine this Tommy, and remember meanwhile that Thrums is not in Ayrshire. Tommy is the son of one Jean Myles, who abandoned her disgraced lover, Aaron Latta, to marry a fascinating rascal named Magerful (Masterful) Tom; and she married, not because she loved, but because he fascinated and mastered her. The scandal of the circumstances drove her from her native Thrums to London, where her two children, Tommy and Elspeth, were born, the latter after Magerful Tom's death had brought release from his brutalities. The story opens with Elspeth's birth, and we find the mother in a London attic, working hard for daily bread, wearying for the northern home that has cast her forth, hiding from the Thrums folk who are her fellow-exiles in London, but writing home magnificent accounts of a wholly fictitious prosperity, even while to her children she paints Thrums in all the colors of fairyland, colors which are intensified and made more fairylike by Tommy's imaginative young brain. But the shadow of death already lies on the mother; and before dying she must speak, if only to secure provision for her young children. She sends a message to be delivered to her old sweet

heart, Aaron Latta, by the mouth of a third party; but the third party has long lain in the cemetery, and so the letter came to be read by the smith at whose house the post dropped it:"Dear Double Dykes,” it said, "I send you these few scrapes to say I am dying, and you and Aaron Latta were seldom sindry, so I charge you to go to him, and say to him, ‘Aaron Latta, it's all lies Jean Myles wrote to Thrums about her grandeur, and her man died mony year back, and it was the only kindness he ever did her, and if she doesna die quick, her and her starving bairns will be flung out into the streets.' If that doesna move him, say, 'Aaron Latta, do you mind yon day at Inverquharity and the cushie doos?' likewise, 'Aaron Latta, do you mind yon day at the Kaims of Airlie?' likewise, 'Aaron Latta, do you mind that Jean Myles was ower heavy for you to lift? Oh, Aaron, you could lift me so pitiful easy now.' And syne says you solemnly three times, ‘Aaron Latta, Jean Myles is lying dying all alone in a foreign land; Aaron Latta, Jean Myles is lying dying all alone in a foreign land; Aaron Latta Jean Myles is lying dying all alone in a foreign land.' And if he's sweer to come, just say, 'Oh, Aaron, man, you micht; oh, Aaron, oh, Aaron, are you coming?"

The smith had often denounced this woman, but he never said a word against her again. He stood long reflecting, and then took the letter to Blinder and read it to him.

O water, where it makes about as much stir in the world as a minnow jumping at a fly. They say that if a boy, by making a bowl of his hands, should suddenly carry off all the water, a quick girl could thread her needle at the spring. But it is a spring that will not wait a moment.

Men who have been lads in Thrums sometimes go back to it from London, or from across the seas, to look again at some battered little house and feel the blasts of their bairnhood playing through the old wynds, and they may take with them a foreign wife. They show her everything, except the Cuttle Well; they often go there alone. The well is sacred to the memory of first love. You may walk from the well to the round cemetery in ten minutes. It is a common walk for those who go back.

First love is but a boy and girl playing at the Cuttle Well with a bird's egg. They blow it on one summer evening in the long grass, and on the next it is borne away on a coarse laugh, or it breaks beneath the burden of a tear. And yet— I once saw an aged woman, a widow of many years, cry softly at mention of the Cuttle Well. "John was a good man to you," I said, for John had been her husband. "He was a leal man to me," she answered with wistful eyes, "ay, he was a leal man to me-but it wasna John I was

thinking o'. You dinna ken what makes me greet so sair," she added presently, and though I thought I knew now I was wrong. "It's because I canna mind his

"She doesna say, 'Oh, Aaron Latta, do name," she said.

you mind the Cuttle Well?" was the blind man's first comment.

So the Cuttle Well has its sad memories and its bright ones, and many of the bright

"She was thinking about it," said memories have become sad with age, as so


Why Jean Myles should have been thinking of the Cuttle Well, let Mr. Barrie explain in a passage that will, at the same time, afford us a beautiful example of his method:

Through the Den runs a tiny burn, and by its side is a pink path, dyed this pretty color, perhaps, by the blushes the ladies leave behind them. The burn as it passes the Cuttle Well, which stands higher and just out of sight, leaps in vain to see who is making that cooing noise, and the well, taking the spray for kisses, laughs all day at Romeo, who cannot get up. Well is a name it must have given itself, for it is only a spring in the bottom of a basinful

often happens to beautiful things, but the most mournful of all is the story of Aaron Latta and Jean Myles. Beside the well there stood for long a great pink stone, called the Shoaging Stone, because it could be rocked like a cradle, and on it lovers have cut their names. Often Aaron Latta and Jean Myles sat together on the Shoaging Stone, and then there came a time when it bore these words, cut by Aaron Latta:


A Fond Son, a faithful FRIEND, and

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And here Jean Myles shall take up the story and tell it as she told it to her boy Tommy a few nights before she died:

She was a good, happy lassie that gaed into the Den that moonlight night wi' Aaron's arm round her, but it was another woman that came out. We thought we had the Den to oursel's, and as we sat on the Soaging Stane at the Cuttle Well, Aaron wrote wi' a stick on the ground, "Jean Latta," and prigged wi' me to look at it, but I spread my hands ower my face, and he didna ken that I was keeking at it through my fingers all the time. We was so ta'en up with oursel's that we saw nobody coming, and all at once there was your father by the side o' us! "You've written the wrong name, Aaron," he said, jeering and pointing with his foot at the letters; "it should be Jean Sandys."

Aaron said not a word, but I had a presentiment of ill, and I cried, "Dinna let him change the name, Aaron!" Your father had been to change it himsel', but at that he had a new thait, and he said, "No, I'll no do it; your brave Aaron shall do it for me."

Laddie, it doesna do for a man to be, a coward afore a woman that's fond o' him. A woman will thole a man's being anything except like hersel'. When I was sure Aaron was a coward I stood still as death, waiting to ken wha's I was to be. Aaron did it.

The woman turned and went away with her master; anu the coward fled to his home and shut himself up, and lived a lonely and dishonored life from that hour. When at length Jean Myles' message came to him by the mouth of the smith, the town held its breath, in doubt if Aaron would hearken and go. But the blind man who lived beside the road heard a footfall go by his door that night; and next morning Aaron was missing.

He made his way to London, and to the street in which Jean dwelt, but

would not enter her house.

Her first intimation that he had come she got from Shovel, who said that a little high-shouldered man in black had been inquiring if she was dead, and was now walking up and down the street like one

waiting. She sent her children out to him, but he would not come up. He had answered Tommy roughly, but when Elspeth slipped her hand into his, he let it stay there, and he instructed her to tell Jean Myles that he would bury her in the Thrums cemetery and bring up her bairns. Jean managed once to go to the window and look down at him, and by and by he looked up and saw her. They looked long at each other, and then he turned away his head and began to walk up and down again.

At Tilliedrum the coffin was put into a hearse and thus conveyed to Monypenny, Aaron and the two children sitting on the box-seat.

Some one said, "Jean Myles boasted that when she came back to Thrums it would be in her carriage and pair, and she has kept her word," and the saying is still preserved in that Bible for week-days, of which all little places have their unwritten copy, one of the wisest of books, but nearly every text in it has cost

a life.

Thus it happened that the boy Tommy came to the Thrums which had danced like fairyland through his childish dreams. I wish I could linger over the which those exquisite chapter. in dreams were dispelled, and then pieced together from the wreckage left by reality. But it is time to consider the boy himself, for on him Mr. Barrie has lavished all his art. The result is a melancholy portrait, and none the less melancholy because the artist has touched-in so many of its features with a smile; the portrait of a boy all unconsciously cursed-yes, I think we may say cursed-with a genius for art, and with all the disabilities of that genius; of a boy marked out for greatness, and marching towards it through unreality and constant self-deception; of a boy we must dislike at times almost as furiously as his schoolmaster, Cathro, disliked him, yet of whom we are never quite unaware that he carries his temperament as a doom, and goes to his high future as a victimonly it is the hearts of those who love him which must suffer. child in London, he makes his way into an entertainment provided by a certain "Society for the Reformation of Juve

While yet a

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