Puslapio vaizdai


sign to infinity. Witness the three examples on page 873, where a square and the resultant cube shape all the forms in a room. Inevitably, watching the process, we think of a child playing with blocks, blocks, and moving them here and there until he gets


arrangement that suits his fancy. Yet the efficacy of the thing is undeniable. The Germans have found that the power lies in using blocks of a definitely geometrical shape. They prefer to lay bare rather than to conceal the motive, and their motives mean something to the intellect. They deal not in the empty shapes of a groping intuition, but in unabashed geometrical units. And the use of these is bringing about in Germany an unparalleled artistic ferment.

But despite the fact that there is here the seed of a great artistic truth, German architecture and decoration in the end generally become wearisome. They remind you too much of a man who can whistle only one tune, and who is so enamoured of that that he whistles it continually. Definite as the compositional tone is, the questions nevertheless arise: Is there not a certain superficiality about this composition? Is there not a great noise that conceals a lack of depth? Does not German composition, like Cubism, tend to play upon the surface of a geometry that contains still greater unutilized possibilities?


These questions

[blocks in formation]


back for a time
into analogous
cases in the art
of the past.
There is, for
example, a cer-
tain architect
of the twelfth
Wilars de Honecort, in whose work
the same
the same generative seed of truth is
plainly implanted, and what he accom-
plished is full of suggestions. As an
architect of such note that he was sent
for from France to carry out certain
projects in distant Hungary, and as a col-
league of those men who brought Gothic
architecture to its highest development,
any revelations he might make of his
methods should hold a particularly vital
interest. Just such revelations he did
make in his note-book, published in fac-
simile in Paris in 1858. Here there are,
besides some very suggestive architectural
drawings, a great many sketches of ani-
mals and men so well executed that they
prove Wilars to have been a draftsman
considerably superior to many of his
painter contemporaries. It is peculiar,
then, to find this man, like Dürer, in the
grip of geometry. At a time when most
architects were painters, and all painters
were architects (Giotto, Michelangelo,
and later Leonardo, for example), he sets
up the human figure geometrically ex-
actly as he would a building.
He even
prefaces this portion of his book with the
remark, "Here begin the powers of the
lines of portraiture, as taught by the art
of geometry." And there follows an abun-
dance of figures and faces made with the
ingenious manipulation of geometrical


Suggestive as they are, however, it is not these that form the artistically valuable part of Wilars's work. This lies partly in the skill geometry has given him in schematic drawing,the swan, for example, so like the famous Egyptian






geese of Meydum, but chiefly in his handling of figure groups. Notice the two instances here given: one a pair of trumpeters ranged on a five-pointed star (which Wilars uses elsewhere to construct a tower), the other a partly completed group of fighters, placed by means of squares the sides and diagonals of which furnish all the determining lines of the composition. Here the individual figures are crudely sketched in, but the point is that they are placed with certainty and with an eye chiefly on design value. It is merely a series of squares, yet without this Wilars might have experimented indefinitely and arrived nowhere.

And particularly is it worthy of note that the spontaneous method of composition to Wilars was not our modern method, which relies mainly upon "continuity of line." From the appearance of his book, such a vague and specious thing I would not have entered his head as artistically rational. Having inherited directly the compositional methods of the great mosaic painters and decorators, he was concerned with definite shapes, angles, and distances, and not with an intangible line rhythm. Indeed, it would seem that the modern method, which has caught the advocates of the new movements along with the rest, did not arise until after the Renaissance, when the old medieval principles of Wilars and his contemporaries were either completely lost or rapidly disappearing. With Raphael came the distinct domination of curves over angles in composition, though still curves related to architectural settings, and a

consequent saccharinity that had seldom. appeared before; the Madonna di Foglino sufficiently illustrates "continuity of line," combined with a certain quantum of geometric planning. Cimabue and Giotto composed like Wilars, chiefly with the square, powerful and simple compositions that have enabled the pictures of these men to outlive any technical crudities. Much of their work may seem childish and stiff to us, who are broken to the harness of realism, or have been taught to like a spineless and protoplasmic type of design. In reality, this design of the early masters went through a long apprenticeship to architecture, and came out set in its ways, perhaps, but at least vigorous, schematic, and decorative, capable of fulfilling a great great function, and marked with the unmistakable stamp takablestamp of creative human effort. A painting in those days was always destined to fit a certain space in a certain building, and the very architectural necessities that gave it birth



affixed upon it simultaneously a strong schematic character. Here, in this birth out of architecture, lies the cause of that curious quality in early paintings which



has made them preeminent for design. And in the light of the success achieved by German art and by the fundamental ideas of Cubists and Post-Impressionists, it is just here that design will bear investigation. Here

may we seek to discover why the Germans are not wholly successful.



Author of "The Mango Seed," "The Divided Kingdom "'

T has often been said that women have no sense of humor. I consider that I possess it myself; but I confess that I have sometimes wondered whether humor is not, in our sex, the essentially melancholy prerogative of celibate middle age. Do we not pay for it? If I had married the delightful adventurer whom I unmistakably loved, and threw over only out of bitter caution, should I have come into my inheritance? I wonder. The habitually happy women, I think, never have it. At all events, it is not a fireside flower. In the end you grow a little ashamed of it. You realize that if the comic spirit had always prevailed, there would have been no Francesca, no Iseult, no Héloïse; and that would have been a pity.

So it is with the sincerest respect that I declare Adela Waring to have had no sense of humor. She was originally composed for all sorts of pictorial and lyric effects. She is the kind of person who is always being caught in big situations; people have invariably taken her intensely. I've always felt myself a poor creature, morally, beside her. Physically, of course, all of us are poor creatures compared with Adela. Her type is not in fashion, to be sure; that kind of neck and waist went out long ago. Adela still orders her clothes from Burne-Jones and her attitudes from Rossetti. Esthetically, she is quite right, I fancy. A sense of humor might have led her to modernize her type; instead of which she unblushingly accentuates it. To the end, I dare say, she will wear green Liberty dresses in her motorcar. She is very lovely, but I have seen her when I felt that the poor thing must have mislaid her frame. I have wanted to plead :

"Don't-don't let yourself get knocked about with the tables and chairs, for the only men who could retouch you are dead. Even Watts has gone now, you know."

Of course Adela married early, and of course she married a painter. I really do

not think that any man who could not transmute her into art would put up with her. It would be a terrible thing for most of us to live forever with a masterpiecewith just one masterpiece.

I was most interested by the whole affair. Richard Waring, you see, was a very complicated creature. His existence was not restricted to visual impressions. If Adela had been an absolutely homogeneous person herself, it might all have been very different; but her Preraphaelite contours were limited to her exterior. They never worked in. She loved to go to the play; she loved to travel very fast; she adored meeting her fellow-beings on pretty nearly every kind of occasion devised for the purpose. So long as you let her obey her conscience by bundling her coppery hair into a pearl-sewn net, she really liked playing hide-and-seek all over a country house on a rainy afternoon. Of course she was spoiled. Who would not have been, with her success? Naturally, too, when still very young, she came to consider that the great emotions were her just due. That was the romantic taint in the pagan carelessness of her. She was not going to die without the coup de foudre. At least so she told me when we were both eighteen. I could see even then that she expected her beauty to get it for her. She was not really vain, but she honestly did not see how romance could pass her by; nor did any one else. Accordingly, when she married Richard Waring, every one realized that romance had come to her; and every one, as is every one's way, was very content to leave her alone with it and go on to something else. Even the people who had known Richard thought everything was settled for all time. Suppose her tastes were not wholly his-well, after all, he had only to look at her.

That did not prevent every one from looking very wise about five years later,I had been abroad four years, and was

just returning to my native shores,-and saying they always knew that, with two such different persons, something would go wrong. I had been hearing a lot of good talk in France and Italy; I had thrown over my adventurer; I felt very sophisticated and cynical and bored. So, with the firm determination to keep out of the mess, I listened to the eager, innocent babblings of the bridge-playing, motoring crowd into which my own young set had developed. I had had enough psychology for a decade; besides, I liked Richard Waring quite as much as I liked Adela. He was not so out-and-out good, but he had a more coherent personality. No outsider ever knows the whole history of any marriage relation, and unless one is frankly partizan, he had better keep his hands off. So I refused Adela's pretty invitations to stay with them.

For two years they had been living at Dalkeith all the year round. You know Dalkeith in summer: high bluffs garlanded with white cottages, for all the world like a chain of gardenias blooming against the thick green of the pines and oaks. The gardens at Dalkeith are hewn out of the woods, and often the white house has only a narrow vista to the sea. It is a bleak place for winter. I could not see why the Warings chose to stay there, charming as I remembered it to be in August. Unless they carried eternal summer in their hearts, it seemed foolish. Adela had apparently given the excuse that Richard could work better without distraction; but, considering the situations of his earlier studios, that was a little too absurd. I could not find any one who had been down there to see them. The general attitude was one of patient attendance on their folly's fit. Every one thought something was the matter, but no one knew what; and though Betty Carruthers did suggest to me that Richard might be jealous of Clement Place, that was obviously absurd. Betty's divorce has given her the most lurid ideas, and no one pays any attention to her, I least of all. Imagine being Richard Waring and being jealous of Clement Place! If I were a man, I think it would be physically impossible for me to be jealous of a poet. Clement Place was handsome, and he was pecuniarily independent of his very genuine lyric gift; but, in homely parlance, he

could not hold a candle to Richard Waring. I did not believe, either, that he would make love to another man's wife. He would confine himself to sonnet sequences. I scolded Betty sharply-all the more sharply because I was afraid, from the rumblings on the horizon and the "feel" in the air, that something was coming.

I saw Richard once or twice that spring when he ran up to town, and I questioned him lightly, as a woman sometimes may when her own heart is irreclaimably elsewhere. Once he broke out a little irritably:


'Adela 's such a dear,—you can't think what a dear she is,-but she saw herself in a mirror once, and it did for her. She's been trying ever since to live up to her coloring and to make her mind like her figure. She can't see that it's enough to look like that, without being like it. And she is n't like it. Why don't you come down and talk to her, Alice?”

"Heaven forbid!" I said. "Bring her up to town, and we 'll shake her out of it."

'She won't come." He shook his head. "She has a notion that I must n't be distracted from my work, and I 've never been able to do any work in my life unless I was being mercilessly distracted from it all the time. I can get more out of Broadway in ten minutes than I can get out of that monotonous ocean in ten months."

"Are you painting her?"

"I have painted her six distinct and separate times. No, I'm not painting her." He lingered a little as he was taking his leave. "You won't come, Alice?"

"No, I can't." I could tell from the nervous manner that suited him so badly how bothered he really was; but I was sure I ought to keep my hands off.

"Oh, well," he said as he turned to go, "we shall be very gay by the end of June." Then, with a change of tone, "You really won't?" I shook my head. "Heaven forgive you, Alice!" He was gone.

The more I pondered over the matter, -and no one could have helped interfering in spirit at least, with Betty Carruthers croaking and chirping in one's ear,the surer I felt that I had done right not to go to Dalkeith. Adela was so good that in the end her heart would be sure

to tell her the right thing to do. There is a deal of wit in sheer goodness, though often, I admit, it arrives on the scene too late to be of any use. I was not at all sure that Richard's thirst for town would move Adela if she were convinced that for his work's sake his thirst should not be assuaged. But I did bank a good deal on Adela's waking up some morning and finding that she herself could not put it through any longer.

Apparently, however, her fortitude matched her beauty, for she never left Dalkeith at all. Richard might vanish and return, but she remained to guard the sacred fire. At least that was my guess at the situation.

There came a time, however, when I had to go to Dalkeith. The critics have not ceased to lament the early taking-off of Richard Waring; if they do not praise one manner, they praise another, and no one has a word to say against him—yet. There was irony, too, in the manner of his going. Almost any death, I suppose, if you go back far enough in the chain of things, seems unnecessary, something that could have been prevented, if some very little fact had only seemed at the time as important as it really was. But this was a death that was ironic on the face of it.

Richard had gone canoeing one afternoon on the bay, and had paddled as far as South Dalkeith. He had called on an unfashionable artist acquaintance in that unfashionable resort,-South Dalkeith being, as is well known, a "poor relation" of Dalkeith proper, possessed of some of the family features, but of none of the family jewels, and had offered to take the artist acquaintance's younger sister out in the canoe. It was smooth enough when they started, but they never got to Dalkeith. Whether it was a sudden wind or the roll from the wake of a launch, Miss Vance did not know. The canoe had overturned; Richard, knowing that she could swim, had given her a paddle to keep herself afloat. He tried to right the canoe. In the course of his endeavors, cramp or fatigue overcame him, and he went down. Aid came too late to save him alive. She survived. The less valuable person outlasted the more precious creature. When Death has a chance to choose between two, I have noticed that he often shows the same good taste.

[ocr errors]

They buried Richard at Dalkeith,Adela insisted on that, and after the racking business was over, I took Adela back to town with me. With her wavering figure, her flaming hair, the concentrated shadows of her mourning, she was like a splendid funeral-torch. I remember that I rather pitied her for it; it seemed to me that in her place I should have longed to look vaguer, duller, more effaced. I realized that her broken heart probably neither knew nor cared.

Both the Warings had been singularly unblessed with close kin, and Clement Place and I did most of the things that some one has to rise and do. I housed Adela and looked after her clothes; he took her steamer passage and saw all kinds of irrelevant persons, who sprang out of the earth overnight, as they always do after a disaster-people who begin and end in a single detail. I liked him; he was very devoted and very sorry and extremely useful. He did not ask to see her in those few days, though he obviously longed to assure himself of-what? Hardly her happiness. Her health, possibly, or perhaps simply her continued existence in this unworthy world. was at that point of adoration. He really thought only of her, and of how, unobtrusively, he could serve her. What lyric wings might have stirred in the silences I do not know, of course.


He asked humbly whether he might sail on the next steamer. I opened my eyes wide.

"My dear Mr. Place, what has my permission to do with it?"

"Just to be about, you know. Not so many thousand miles away in case she should need some one."

"She would n't let me go with her," I said. "I think she wants to be alone. But if it would comfort you to be on the same continent, I can't see why you should n't. Only you understand that I'm not speaking for her, and on this subject I won't speak to her. She 's going to the country in Belgium," I reflected; "to the same nuns who taught her when she was a child in France. I really can't see how your being in London or Paris could annoy her. But neither," I finished frankly, "do I see how it could do either of you the slightest good." "Then I may go?"

« AnkstesnisTęsti »