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some want of public confidence towards the speculative markets of the Stock Exchange. To win back public confidence is the first duty of the Committee towards the members who elected them, and this calls for no more than the exercise of the powers they have, but to deal with the larger questions involved in the consideration of a scheme for the reform of the Stock Exchange requires foresight, self-abnegation, courage to endure unpopularity, and firmness, patience, and tact to overcome obstacles; in fact, the qualities of a statesman and man of business combined.

Given the existence of such a genius in the Committee room, the rehabilitation of the Stock Exchange is assured ; without it, it would be better to invoke the expert aid of a Royal Commission.

John Flower.

THE POET'S DIARY

EDITED BY LAMIA

V

190–. Between Rome and Florence. “We entered Rome, it is true,” said Lamia plaintively, “ across the shaggy Campagna, with the loitering Tiber and waterless aqueducts for appropriate guides, but withal by train. Surely we are not to leave it in like fashion ? It would run too counter to itself to do so. Dear Veronica, to my rescue !” “It has all been arranged,” answered Veronica, “ though not without some difficulty. Time was when it was an easy matter to travel by vetturino from Rome to Florence; now it takes some little trouble to find carriage, horses, and driver for the purpose. However, it has been done, and a five-days journey will bring us to your, I hope, unforgotten Tuscan WinterQuarters.” The night before we left, the April moon being but fortyeight hours from full—for Veronica had conspired with me to time our time of starting so that moonlight should accompany us, we did not fail to pay farewell to the Fontana di Trevi and drink of the water that, taken on the eve of departure, is said to bring one back infallibly to Rome. Mindful of what she was pleased to call that compromising reminiscence of my first visit to the Acqua Vergine ever so many years ago, Lamia tendered her palm as drinking-cup to us all ; and I fancied our Biographer showed himself as insatiably thirsty even as the Roman Legion of ancient story. “Let us,” she said, “believe as many legends as possible. I once heard you confess,” she added, turning to me, “that one knows many things about men and women one should never permit oneself to think of them ; and may I avow that I believe numbers of things I know to be not true f Is that foolish, Veronica f" “Not in the least. It is the secret of Poetic Faith, perhaps of all Faith ; thus accommodating, as Bacon says so admirably, the shows of things to the affections of the mind.”

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... Then we shall assuredly return to Rome," said Lamia. * One always returns, is it not said, to one's earliest loves; and Rome is, looked at retrospectively, or read backward, as we all know, Amor."

we drove out of the Porta del Popolo in unuttered thought, and were well beyond the Milvian Bridge before the silence was broken, and many a league further on our way before we ceased to talk of Rome and what we had left, and began to link of what was before us. Our first halting-place for the night was to be Civita Castellana, and our other stopping-stages the Falls of Terni, Spoleto, and Foligno, but there would be little to wean us from our Roman recollections till we got to Perugia, and there made a halt of a couple of days, dedicating one of them to Assisi.

a Have you ever been to Urbino f" Lamia asked.

a Yes," I replied, “and on the same occasion to Gubbio, to San Sepolcro, to the little Republic of San Marino, and thence to Rimini, Faenza, and Forli, whence my companion and I drove across the Apennines to Florence in one day, without travelling in the dusk at either end of it. But our conveyance was not a sumptuous carriage like this, but a bagherino drawn at a cheery pace by a Romagnole pony.”

“May we all go, some day, to Urbino, Veronica f" asked Lamia in her most imploring manner.

“Speriamo " said Veronica ; “let us hope so. But why Urbino especially f"

* Because of Raphael. Before ever I came to Italy I believed him to be the one supreme Painter; and in that belief I am now confirmed."

* I am glad to hear you say so,” I observed. “Such was long the opinion of the best judges ; and, though brushed aside in recent times in favour of artists of more violent or less balanced gifts, it will again, I cannot help suspecting, be the general opinion. Indeed, I think one can already discern signs of returning sanity in this as in other judgments, after a period that one once had the audacity to nickname the Age of Nonsense. In the long run, mankind is sane in its judgments on Literature, Painting, Architecture, Sculpture, Music, and even, to descend in the scale of dignity but scarcely of importance, in Politics. otherwise, what would become of us f"

* Yet one can quite understand,” said Lamia, “that continuous sanity, like absolute perfection or unblemished virtue, is rather exasperating. I once heard some one say that the one thing she could not stand in you was your equable temper pp. “She could not have known me very intimately,” I interrupted. “And I myself,” Lamia went on, “know so impeccable a wife that I often feel I shall not die happy unless I open the paper some fine morning and find her the heroine of the latest scandal. Raphael exasperates in a similar manner. He is perfect; almost what Tennyson in ‘Maud' calls faultily faultless. But am I wrong in thinking that, in Painting, if an artist has invention, variety, strength, refinement, and glamour, he cannot be too faultless in execution ? In Poetry it may possibly be otherwise ; but, in Painting, technique seems to count for so much, and the want of it is such a patent blemish, that, granted the other qualities one has named, too perfect he cannot be. Am I right f" “I scarcely know why you appeal to me,” I answered, “unless it be you think that one who may possibly have some knowledge of the secrets of one Art cannot be without apprehension of the secret of the others. Truly, the same principles underlie them all ; so that what is true of one cannot but be true of the rest. But I should like to hear what Veronica has to say on the point.” “Lamia seems to me to be right in what she has said. One can put up with, indeed more than put up with, a certain amount of technical carelessness in Poetry, provided it be in other respects of a very high order, as not unoften, for instance, in Shakespeare and Byron. But similar blemishes in a picture would be all but fatal to it in the estimation of connoisseurs, since it would be the first thing that struck them in it.” “Yes,” I said, “I think that is so. Yet has there not been a tendency of late to demand from poets the same technical faultlessness that in a painter is all but indispensable f Sitting one afternoon with Tennyson in his garden at Aldworth, where he had been recalling his youthful experience of the incendiary action of the Rebeccahites, I observed that what seemed to me two of his finest lines, though I had never heard them quoted, must have been suggested to him by what he had just described. And then I cited them : Slowly comes a hungry people, as a lion drawing nigher Glares at one that nods and winks behind a slowly dying fire. “Do you know where I got that idea 7” he asked. ‘I got it from a Methodist magazine, where I had read of explorers in desert lands lighting watch-fires to keep off prowling beasts of prey.’ ‘You made good use of it,' I said, “yet perhaps there is what you would now regard as a slight blemish in the first line.’

“What is that ?" he asked quickly, for his artistic sensitiveness was always on the alert. ‘The close approximation of the same vowel sound in lion and higher,' I replied. “You are quite right,’ he observed, “it is a blemish. I never thought of it.’ ‘No,' I took courage to say, ‘I should be quite wrong if I really thought it a blemish worth noticing ; but I suspected you now would consider it such. You have laid an additional burden,' I went on somewhat boldly, “on all future writers of verse by the fastidious finish of your own.” “It isn't artificial, is it 7” he asked with quick sensitiveness. And when I did not answer the question, he laid his hand on my arm and said, “Tell me ! It isn't artificial, is it f ' I knew how he loved truthfulness above all things, so I replied, ‘Yes, it is ; but '—for I would not have wounded him, then advanced in years, for worlds—"I suppose it is the right sort of artifice.’ I offer this as an illustration of what we were talking about. Short poems cannot well be too fastidiously perfect in expression throughout, but long ones conceivably may be, and certainly should not be severely judged because of occasional imperfection. A lawn should be smooth, and I have heard Veronica point out that garden-paths should be neat and orderly; but a mighty expanse of mountain can afford to be rough ever and anon, and a high road is all the better for a few undulations. “I am glad I was right,” said Lamia, “for I once heard a sapient critic from the height of his superiority affirm that the address to the Ocean at the close of Childe Harold is unspeakably bad, and he proceeded, as he thought, to establish his case by indicating one or two instances of carelessness of expression. But I fancy he was a somewhat embittered person, for he had himself published a poem of which the world had taken as little notice as of the paradoxes of Smelfungus.” We did not fail to halt at the Temple of Clitumnus, and there made the midday meal Veronica's thoughtfulness had provided for us. When it was over, I asked Lamia to recite the stanza concerning the spot in the Fourth Canto of the great Poem she had just named. Whereupon she blended her silvery voice with that of the rippling water : And on thy happy shore a Temple still, Of small and delicate proportions, keeps, Upon a mild declivity of hill, Its memory of thee: beneath it sweeps Thy currents' calmness, oft from out it leaps The finny darter with its glittering scales, Who dwells and revels in thy glassy deeps ; While, 'chance, some floating water-lily sails Down where the shallower wave still tells its bubbling tales.

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