صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

sleep, and I have my doubts. When I lay down my pen these cells continue their work. For an hour or two they go on weaving fresh scenes, they ruminate paragraphs.

I am incapable of planning out a scenario, of taking notes, of setting out in search of material. When I think of playing the part of an observer nothing registers itself on my brain. This is perhaps because the vanity of such an attitude disturbs the delicate work. What impenetrable mysteries we are for ourselves! I have tried and I am always trying to find out the mechanism of cerebral creation, to discover which is the work of my Divine collaborator, Providence, and which is my own work. I do not succeed in this, but I have succeeded in distinguishing the various actions of the three factors of the human trinity: the mind, the soul, and the body. The mind seems to me to be that higher essence which is to be found in all individuals, even in the greatest criminals. I call the mind “the other one” just as Plato called matter. The mind is like a little sun working on the nebula around it, that is, on the soul which the living cells of the body are constantly elaborating. I have an impression that “the other one ” is in direct communication with the invisible, that it carries ideas along, and that it is outside us, whilst the ego, the nebula is within, inside the skull. All this may be absurd, but the truth of things is never discovered at once. I am neither laying down any scientific theory nor any dogma. I am merely searching after truth, and that is the duty and the right of every human creature. The “other one ” and the ego are constantly at loggerheads. The former is passionately interested in Divine work here below. It believes in its eternal progress; it feels God very near, and it is impossible to deny Him and more easy to accept Him. The second has remained selfish, frivolous, and indifferent. From the moment that I take up the pen I feel that I am being governed by the “other one.” Its inspiration amazes me, as it is in such direct contrast with my own character and tastes that my sense of humour is sometimes tickled. If only I were free I should write nothing but plays and stories of brigands. Another curious thing is that “the other one” has not the vocation of an apostle. It does not feel the necessity of propagating ideas nor of transmitting to others the various hopes discovered when looking at Life. It has no desire to tell its own thoughts and ideas, and yet for the last twelve years it has been doing nothing else. Is this because it has been actuated by any ambition for fame and glory? No, a thousand times no.

It is very evident that the incentive which urges it on is a will superior to its own. It is serving some purpose. When people express any gratitude to me for some consolation that they have found in my books I am quite confused. Their thanks have made me blush, and I have felt inclined to say, “I am not responsible for it, I fancy you have Providence to thank." Ever since "the other one” has developed into a writer or a scribbler, I myself have been in the state of mind of a sheep which would like to stop and

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

.

a

[ocr errors]

in this way.

graze in a more flowery field if it were not for the sheepdog which barks and worries. But I am grumbling more as a matter of form than anything else, for grumbling is a habit common to the human race. We certainly ought to give it up, as it must be exasperating to the gods. Providence gives us, in our intellectual work, an enjoyment in which I delight, an enjoyment which makes me oblivious to time and suffering. The writing of books is a complaint, like love, but a complaint of which we should not like to be cured.

During my intellectual work I have realised that man is merely another cerebral ruminator, for ruminating is a function common to all creatures. It seems as though Nature herself were ruminating eternally and as though she made the whole human species ruminate. If a book is to be anything like good it requires several mastications. On finishing a chapter an author fancies it is good, and gives a little purr of satisfaction. A few days later he fetches it out again, and finds it insipid and empty. It was insufficiently masticated. During the correction of proofs the author ruminates about his book all the time, at table, outdoors, and even when asleep. In this way the weak phrases, the wrong expressions, and all that is in harmonious comes to his mind again and is corrected. This is mastication again. It is scarcely to be wondered at that a work of any kind should become dear to the author who has lived it, and lived it over again

When once the correction of the proofs is done the ebullition of the book ceases, and there is silence and a dreary void in the mind. Outsiders imagire that the publication of a book causes the author a certain exultation. I cannot answer for the feelings of my fellow-authors at such a time, but personally I never feel any exultation, and I regret this. I march on towards victory or defeat with that consciousness which we have on the great days of our life. The first few weeks as I walk quickly past the bookshops

. I feel magnetically that on the other side of the window there is something of myself, and this sensation is disagreeable, almost painful in fact. The new book has a red band round it, its baptismal sash. A few days later the red band is taken off and the volume is then put among the other books. This always pains me, too, a little, as it seems to me then as though I have quite lost it, as though it no longer belongs to me at all. These books, these children of our mind, have their destinies traced out for them, just as the children of our flesh and blood do. Some are born prematurely, others die almost as soon as they are born; most of them have an average life. Those which contain ideas destined to act as incentives to humanity are immortal. Many of them are not understood or are forgotten for many long years, and then, at the right moment, they come back to life again, thanks to some unexpected movement which gives them renown. George Gissing, a great English thinker, who for å long time was unrecognised, said, “For the work of man's mind there is one test and one alone, the judgment of generations yet unborn. If you have written a great book, the world to come will

know of it.” Formerly this would have made me very indignant, and in my blindness I should have protested. At present I resign myself to the fact like a veritable seer. The most valuable books are not those which run into the greatest number of editions. Books are the most tangible proof of that Beyond which the Divine and the human radio-activity proclaim. They are fragments of the soul of the world and of the individual soul. Some of these fragments have come to us from across the centuries. The nations from which they emanated have disappeared. Walls, fortresses, palaces, works of stone and of marble have been destroyed, but they have remained living and they work on our brains to-day. They go on giving themselves all the time and they are never consumed. Such books do not come into our hands haphazard, they are put there by Providence. We find certain words and thoughts in their pages which work on us without our knowing it, and these words and thoughts have an influence on our after-life. Some of them serve the forces of good and others the opposite forces. The former only will be victorious.

[ocr errors]

A voice has just come to me from the street, a voice that I listen for anxiously every time I return to Paris. It is that of Loute, a large dog who lives near me and who has the most beautiful voice I know. It must be a dog's soprano, and, although it barks from morning to night, no one could possibly complain. It takes upon itself the care of the short street in which it lives, and appears to look upon

that as its own particular domain. It walks to the corner with people who are poorly dressed, growling gently all the time as though saying, “Go away, I do not want you here.” It literally talks to a certain bulldog, who is its neighbour and friend. Its voice is sometimes caressing, sometimes angry, and sometimes nervous, and one hears in it a whole scale of human sentiments and a feminine soul. The idea that, in the name of science and humanity thousands of good, affectionate creatures like Loute have been and will be tortured makes me furious with indignation. It is not vivisection which is so revolting, but the cruelty, the injustice, and the ingratitude of the human species towards the animal species. France, in Italy, and in Spain the horse is as badly treated as the donkey in the East. Whenever I think of that, the Latin race, that is my own race, seems odious to me, and I am obliged to pull myself up mentally in order to judge fairly again.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

Men do not yet know what animals really are; they neither know the rôle nor the mission of animals here below, and consequently have no idea of their obligations to them .

[blocks in formation]

Animals are not outside humanity, and, more than that, they form an integral part of it, for we absorb their substance under all kinds of forms. By marvellous and invisible transformations this substance becomes the elements of our ideas and of our immortal soul. Through it and by it we hold communion with all Nature. In our clothing and in our food, as well as in the construction of our dwellings, there is always something of its toil and of its suffering. "The good shepherd,” says the Gospel, “gives his life for the sheep," but that is only a figure of speech. Sheep are always giving their life for the shepherd, and that is no figure of speech. If men could only conceive the depth of this fraternity they would not, in their own interest, hurt the flesh destined to become their own flesh, and they would not refuse food to animals since that food is transformed into energy which is beneficial to themselves. Men are not only cruel through ignorance, but through habit and custom. The Parisian cabdriver is accustomed to seeing a badly-fed beast trotting in front of him, and he is accustomed to seeing him fall down between the shafts and to getting him up again until the day comes when he can go no more. Parisians are accustomed in the same way to being dragged along by wretched horses, and they are not ashamed of this, although in reality their indifference is worthy of barbarians.

It is quite time that Science taught us our real obligations and duty to animals. For the present, strict laws ought to oblige us to

. do our duty with regard to them. The eighteenth century proclaimed the rights of man and the nineteenth century the rights of woman. It is for the twentieth century to proclaim the rights of animals.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

Whilst I have been writing the above lines Loute's voice has never ceased influencing my thoughts and urging on my pen. Dear old Loute little thinks how much that has done for the cause of its species. Heaven grant that neither the dog's work nor mine be in vain !

Translated by Alys Hallard.

FOREIGN AFFAIRS: A CHRONIQUE.

LONDON, October 22nd, 1908. The record for this month is the narrative of a crisis too complicated and far-reaching to be dealt with adequately in this abstract and brief chronicle even if we devote to it, as we must, the whole of our pages. No other topic competes. By comparison with it even the dullest of American Presidential contests becomes not only flat, but parochial. With the connection between the crisis and the new spirit of Hapsburg Imperialism we have dealt elsewhere. Here we have to trace more particularly the causes of the Bulgarian coup, the results of that daring but intelligible attack upon the diplomatic sanctity of the nominal status

quo,
and the

course of the international negotiations leading up to the new European Conference-probable, though at the moment of writing not yet absolutely

absolutely assured. Before endeavouring to disentangle the threads of this ravelled skein, let us give the most rapid summary of the march of events according to the calendar. On the first Sunday in October, the 4th of that month, the Treaty of Berlin was still in existence, a little torn at the edges, but sufficiently intact. Within twenty-four hours it had perished as completely and ignominiously as though burnt by the common hangman. On Monday, the 5th, the Principality of Bul

. garia repudiated the Sultan's suzerainty, and declared itself an independent kingdom. On Tuesday, as explained elsewhere, “we, Francis Joseph I., Emperor of Austria, King of Bohemia and Apostolic King of Hungary,” in the sixtieth year of our reign, extended “the rights of our suzerainty to Bosnia and to Herzegovina" —thus repudiating the sovereign rights of the Sultan as expressly reserved in the separate Convention of 1879. On Wednesday Prince Nicholas repudiated the Berlin Treaty as respects Clause 29, giving Austria the right to restrict the freedom of the Montenegrin seaboard. On Thursday was received the intelligence that Crete had proclaimed its union with Greece. On the Friday British warships were ordered to the Ægean. On the Saturday M. Isvolsky and Sir Edward Grey held the first of their conversations in London. No one week for many years may hereafter appear more memorable in its whole character and consequences. Meanwhile, over the head of Europe the sword seemed to be suspended by the thread. While Sofia surged in triumph, Belgrade seethed with rage. It seemed for one tense moment as though the Serbs might throw themselves upon Austria in even a madder mood of recklessness than when they flung themselves against the Turks in 1876. In Constantinople the Grand Vizier Kiamil and his colleagues conducted themselves throughout with admirable judgment and composure. There were not wanting voices for war. But the Young Turks, profound

« السابقةمتابعة »