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order. The school, as we have Barrie's village studies, with said, has no necessary conneo- their perfection and finish as tion with London, or indeed of some fine miniature, are with any city, and the most incomparable of their kind, but conspicuous modern instance that kind is a secondary one. happens to have been born & They are curiously artificial, Scotsman and a countryman. too.
too. We see no trace of that Mr Barrie, in his earlier and shrewd understanding of the most successful work, was pro- national character which you fessedly a chronicler of small- will find in Scott and Galt, for beer,—the little jealousies and save in external things like ambitions, the homely hum- dialect and habits there is ours, the minor moralities of anothing Scottish about them. clachan. With a sure hand Tammas Haggart lives galand the kindliest humour he lantly up to his Scottish name, unveiled the souls of his taoi- but contrast him with Andrew turn villagers. But in one Fairservice and see how little respect he differed from other idiomatio is his humour. He workers in the same field, such is as theatrical a figure of a as Dostoieffsky or Mr Hardy: Scot as Sir Pertinax MacSycohe was content with a surface phant. Mr Barrie's tales move presentation. In the best sense in a theological atmosphere, of the word his country folk but no one would look to them were conventional, as conven- for a picture of the grim old tional in their way as the world of the Scottish kirks. shepherds of Theooritus or the He has created an artificial shepherdesses of Watteau. He and modish life of his own, and did not probe deep for the since he confines himself to the sources of life. The passions surface the artifice is wholly and humours which he so deftly delightful. "Auld Licht Idylls' handled were surface passions, and A Window in Thrums ' trivial comedies. Very wisely, may be accurately described as as we think, Mr Barrie kept comedies of manners. out of the elemental sphere, Since then Mr Barrie has and stuck to matters where written many books and plays, his drollery, his tenderness, bis but he has not thereby broadquick sense of the little ironies ened his reputation. Every of life were most sure of success. year has made it more certain It is delightful fooling, often, that his gift is essentially the but it is fooling rather than Cockney gift, and that he is inherent comedy. It is in- successful only when he keeps tolerably pathetio, sometimes, within the prescribed limits of just as "Auld Lang Syne" in that guild. In “The Admirable certain circumstances can be Crichton” he was writing a as much as a man can bear, comedy of manners based upon but it is the pathos of senti- the irony of our social forms, ment and not of tragedy, for and he produced a masterpiece. the issues are small. To say But in almost everything else this is not to condemn. Mr while the cleverness is immense,
the faults of Cockneyism, astray with some hackneyed fatuityin an unfamiliar world, grate “Bang went
saxpence !” on the reader. 'Sentimental “Peebles for pleesure !” “A
“ Tommy' and 'Tommy and wee drappie 1” there are about Grizel' are surely among the a dozen all told. Mr Barrie's worst books ever written by a attitude towards his native man of genius. Whenever Mr land is precisely the same, Barrie attempts the graver but his fault is greater, for, problems of life, whenever he while we do not mind the stock deals with what is commonly Anglo-Saxon with red whiskers called good society, whenever he and large teeth in a French treats of his own countrymen farce, we should dislike it if except in a spirit of pure fan- the author were an Englishtasy, he seems to us to fail. man. He sees Scotland through If at his best he is worthy to Cockney eyes, and applies to a rank with Lamb, at his worst life and character, which Prohe joins hands with Leigh vidence has placed at the Hunt. His latest play, "What opposite pole, the glib_cateEvery Woman Knows,” is a gories of Cookaigne. Every good instance of his strength one of his Scotsmen pechs and and weakness. The technical hoasts and is pawky without cleverness of it can hardly be provocation, and has the same overstated. It runs smoothly methods of getting on as the from start to finish ; it bristles comic Scots viewed through with "points" and swarms the Cookney spectacles of with “situations." There are Wilkes and Churcbill.
A things in the first act which talent which is urban and show an uncanny gift of obser- artificial has narrow bounds vation and that humour of fact to move in. Mr Barrie is the which is too subtle to find form prime instance of how a rare in words. But how stale and and wonderful gift oan, if silly is the central idea! The exercised in a wrong sphere, theory that women and their coase both to convince and ways are an occult soience, and please. a smirking affectation of special One further instance from knowledge therein, are familiar literature will enable us to Cockney marks : the atrocious make the transition to other Tommy, if we remember rightly, domains where the Cockney was an expert on the subject. standpoint is of more importHow terrible is Mr Barrie's ance. Mr G. K. Chesterton in conception of fine lady! recent years has attained that Above all, how wearisome is kind of vogue which belongs his presentation of the Scottish only to popular preachers and character! We do not wonder didactic journalists. He has that his performances are some all the things which the halftimes aoutely offensive to his penny publio values—a
, countrymen. The ordinary sage,
“mission," and a Cockney, when the name of resonant style. He has laid a Sootland is mentioned, is ready patronising hand upon the
Christian religion, and he has which may be flattering to the admitted the Deity to the greengrocer but is sadly damcircle of his intimate friends. aging to the archangel. He He is professedly an obscur- has so dragged the poetry that antist and an opponent of is in him through the miry easy rationalism, and because ways of paradox that it has there is so much neglected become dingy and stale. Week truth in obscurantism we are by week he repeats his machinesometimes inclined to wish well made inversions till the trick to Mr Chesterton. We only grows too easy, and the epihope that those who hang on gram becomes as trite as & his lips really understand what pillar - box, Not that Mr he means. He is avowedly an Chesterton would object to the exponent of the old roads of simile, for & pillar - box is to humanity, the primary things him an “immense and mystical of human life. In his own conception," or some such sillieyes he treads the windy ways ness. He has a kind of potof earth and owes no allegiance valiant mysticism, which jars either to Philistia or Bohemia. the ordinary reader's nerves The odd thing is that there is with a sense of irreverence. a certain justification for this It is a curious and melancholy attitude. Before he discovered case of a fine talent perverted. his message and took to Here is a man with a feeling occupying pulpits he had for the simple and spacious written some poetry, a few qualities of art, with fire and pages of criticism, and a chap- imagination in him, who in ter or two of romance, which some dark freak condemns to our mind were among the himself to play with petty most promising work of the counters, using all the while day. He had revealed & wild the rules and speech of the vigour of imagination and a greater game. He wants to robust vein of comedy which domesticate the sublime, and made us hope for a second thereby succeeds in making it Hazlitt or even another Field- ridiculous. And all the while ing. But the "message" came, he has none of the true Cookand from the artist he fell to ney prettinesses, the fireside the popular teacher, a descent and bedside arts and graces. as swift and far as Lucifer's. He harps on trivialities with Being a poet he cannot get rid the thunderous accents of a altogether of his poetry, but prophet, and moves among the he has harnessed Pegasus be- nick-nacks in his parlour with tween the shafts of a four- the clumsiness of a wild animal. wheeler. His stock-in-trade is Moreover, as a man with & still the immensities, but he
he is not content has made it his business to with literature: he must needs domesticate them. He is never have a voice in politics. Acweary of explaining how like cordingly he has exalted his an archangel is to the green limitations into & political grocer at the corner
-a thought creed. He is the devotee of
everything small — the small abuse is when a book or a play state, the small sect, the small makes the ordinary man feel coterie. His belletristio phil- shy, for, let it never be forosophy has convinced him that gotten, the ordinary man has a the model of all governance is very acute sense of the relevant to be found in the snug com
and the congruous.
But in radeship of the café. The politics it is not too much to sterner disciplines and the say that the Cockney temperalarger interests of life he dis- ment is an unqualified evil. misses with the glib assurance The government of a State, if of ignorance.
it is to be wholesome, must
proceed in conformity with “Tiny pleasures occupy the place Of glories and of duties : as the feet
natural laws. The common Of fabled fairies, when the sun goes weal must be sought at the down,
expense of individual hard Trip o'er the grass where wrestlers
The laws of economics strove by day."
and of national survival will In the
of youthful not stay their course for a vigour Mr Chesterton exhibits pretty phrase, and sentiment the familiar symptoms of de- which may be well enough in cadence. He has deified the private life will work havoc if trivial, but to save his face he applied to the impersonal incalls it the heroio.
terests of the State. It is
needless to labour the point, It is in politics, however, for literature is so full of the that the faults of the Cockney doctrine that it has become a attitude are
most apparent truism and is enshrined in a and most dangerous. After all, hundred proverbs. “Les vices a blunderer in literature pays d'un archevêque,” said Cardinal the penalty himself and no one Retz, “peuvent être dans une is a penny the worse, but the infinité de rencontres les vertus blunderer in politios imperils d'un chef de parti;” and we the safety of the State and the may thus state the converse : wellbeing of all his fellows. “The engaging qualities of a Besides, in literature the thing worthy private citizen may is not a vice. It is only to be very often be vices in a statescongured when, as with Mr man. Barrie, it strays into spheres We propose to investigate where it is hopelessly ill at the temperament rather than ease, or where, as in the case of to cite instances, but one exMr Chesterton, a talent which ample may be permitted us at is in its essence un-Cockney the start. Mr Birrell has long drifts into an alien Cockney been one of the sanest and world, and thereby blasphemes most agreeable of our critics. its gods. A little Cockneyism To a catholic taste and a ready is no bad thing in a writer, sympathy he joins a style of and probably Mr Conrad is delectable simplicity and ease. alone to-day in having none No safer guide could be found of it. A sure test of its to the high places of literature,
and no better companion. A ation of the permanent needs critical gift so free from pre- of the country; they are so ciosity is not so common in many sops flung to so many these days that we can pass it clamorous factions.
A few lightly over.
But in an evil rhetorical phrases, like “men hour for Mr Birrell's reputa- before cattle,” are his only con. tion the whirligig of politics tributions to the most difficult brought him into office. At of our national problems. Mr first he was not unhappy. The Birrell either cannot see things Education difficulty was no bad as they are, or, seeing them, is
, subject for his good - humour resolved to outwit reality by a and good sense. "Being singu- pleasant make-believe. In this larly free from fanaticism, and there is a touch of the curious free at the same time from the practical mysticism of
Mr equally dangerous fault of a Gladstone, the belief that two thin scepticism, he was well and two will make five if you fitted to hold the balance be- only say it long enough and tween sects; and his patience well enough. But more notand geniality won him a well. ably there is the Cockney deserved triumph. But the temperament, which cannot Irish Chief Secretaryship fol- conceive of a world different lwed on the Education Office, from that of good books and and Mr Birrell found himself like-minded friends. It cannot in unfamiliar waters.
The imagine that a humour which post demanded high gifts of smooths the way in private administration, a clear eye for life will not make straight the facts, and a power of continu- path in national politics. It is ous and resolute action.
To convinced that an evil is best the disappointment of his cured by letting it alone, and friends he showed none
of therefore it weakens the sanothese things. We should never tion of the law and the safehave credited him with Cock- guards of life and property. It ney faults had he not gone to is the perpetual prophet of Ireland, but Ireland has shown smooth things, and the world, that in politics he has all the which is not smooth, is apt to Cockney limitations. Ho can- take
formidable revenge. not bring himself to face an
“The qualities of a worthy unpleasant fact. He imagines private citizen are often vices that a ready humour and pro- in & statesman."
This, then, is one of the reconcile the secular antagon- notable marks of the temperaisms of Irish parties
. A Hag- ment, the incapacity to under, rant defiance of the criminal stand primary passions and that popular feeling is in ously picture any world beyond favour of the criminals and the glow of its fireside. The that law must keep pace with whole earth, on its theory, is popular feeling. His legisla- made up of men who have at tive measures show no appreci- bottom the same temperament
fessions of good fellowship can