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IV. At the Bureau of Information CAROLINE FRANCIS RICHARDSON
V. Quips and Cranks of the Ancient Irish LUCILE NEEDHAM VI. Is Our Literature Still English? H. HOUSTON PECKHAM VII. Spenser's “Faerie Queene" and the Student of To-day
H. W. PECK VIII. The Beginnings of the French Revolution SEDLEY LYNCH WARE IX. Little Laughs in History
H. MERIAN ALLEN X. Şeeing America
ARCHIBALD HENDERSON XI. Book Reviews.
PUBLISHED BY THE UNIVERSITY OF THE SOUTH
AT THE UNIVERSITY PRESS OF SEWANEE TENNESSEE
LONGMANS, GREEN, & CO.
London Agency: 39 Paternoster Row, E.C.
Board of Managers : John M. McBRYDE, Jr., Chairman, WALTER HULLIHEN, THOMAS A. TIDBALL, CLEVELAND K. BENEDICT, SEDLEY L. WARE.
Contributors to the July Number
GEORGE R. MacMinn is an instructor in English in the University of California.
Miss LUCILE NEEDHAM is a member of the faculty in the University of Illinois.
JAMES FREDERICK ROGERS is a practising physician in New Haven, Connecticut.
Edwin W. Bowen is Professor of Latin in Randolph-Macon College, Virginia.
Miss CAROLINE F. RICHARDSON is a member of the faculty of Sophie Newcomb College, New Orleans.
H. H. PECKHAM is a menber of the department of English in Purdue University, Indiana.
H. MERIAN ALLEN is an attorney-at-law in Philadelphia,
H. W. Peck is a member of the faculty of the University of Texas.
ARCHIBALD HENDERSON is a professor in the University of North Carolina.
Maeterlinck's admiration for Emerson has been frequently remarked upon. The dealers in literary intimacies have told of the well-worn and abudantly underscored edition of Emerson's essays in the private library of the Belgian author, and every reader who has sought a complete acquaintance with Maeterlinck's writings is familiar with the enthusiastic introduction which he contributed to a French translation of seven of Emersons essays, published some twenty years ago. But, in general, it has seemed sufficient to the biographers, panegyrists, interpreters, and critics of Maeterlinck merely to list Emerson vaguely among the sages—the philosophers, mystics, transcendentalists, and prophets—to whom the elegant Flemish visionary and idealist is in some measure beholden for his ideas or with whom he would appear to have some sort of intellectual or temperamental affiliation. It is easy to be glib with names, and the numerous literary advertisers of Maeterlinck, especially in America, have exercised no reticence in their rather thinly erudite allusions to Plato, Plotinus, and Porphyry, Marcus Aurelius, Ruysbroeck the Admirable, Boehme, Swedenborg, Novalis, and divers others, including Coleridge, Ruskin, Carlyle, and Emerson. Whatever correspondence it may be possible to disclose between Maeterlinck and these various eminent sources of spiritual insight, it is certain that between him and Emerson in particular there are noteworthy similarities and equally significant differ
Both the resemblances and the unlikenesses are probably obvious enough to anyone who finds the time to regard the two men deliberately side by side, but it is perhaps not imper.
tinent to take special cognizance of them, with a view to venturing an opinion as to the relative longevity that the work of each of these purveyors of wisdom seems likely to enjoy.
It is, of course, broadly, the mystic in Emerson that Maeterlinck admires. “I believe, he says, with his characteristically jewelled rhetoric, “that the writings of the mystics are the purest diamonds of the wondrous treasure of humanity.” But among these "purest diamonds" there are important varieties of color, form, size, number of facets, and appropriateness of setting “Plato and Plotinus,” he reminds one, “are above all, princes of dialectic. They reach mysticism through the science of reasoning. They make use of their discursive soul, and seem to mistrust their intuitive or contemplative soul.” In the mediæval Ruysbroeck, on the contrary, that ecstatic saint, "we meet again the habits of Asiatic thought; the intuitive soul reigns supreme above the discursive purification of ideas by words." Emerson is neither a prince of dialectic nor an inspired monk wrapped into union with God. He is "the good morning shepherd of pale meadows, green with a new optimism, both natural and plausible. He does not lead us to the edge of a precipice. He does not make us go from the humble and familiar close, because the glacier, the sea, the eternal snows, the palace, the stable, the cheerless hearth of the poor, and the cot of the sickall are found beneath the same heaven, purified by the same stars, and subjugated to the same infinite powers."
Maeterlinck was still a young man, with swift and uncertain poetic images whirling in his mind, when he thus praised the American seer. But his meaning is not obscure. It is emphasized by what he chants descriptively of three other masters of luminous insight. “Goethe accompanies our soul upon the shores of the sea of Serenity. Marcus Aurelius places our soul on the hill-side of an ideal humanity, its perfect excellence somewhat tiresome, and beneath too heavy a foliage of hopeless resignation. Carlyle, the spiritual brother of Emerson, who in this century has given us warning from the other end of the valley, has brought before us in lightning strokes, upon a background of shadow and storm, of an unknown, relentlessly strange, the only heroic moments of our being.' Emerson has the strong calm of
Goethe, but is not set aloof by the resigned loftiness of Marcus Aurelius and is not smokily surrounded by the sulphurous storminess of Carlyle. More specifically, Emerson is admirable to Maeterlinck because he recognizes and reveals that "treasure of the humble,” that “buried temple,” that “unknown guest" which is the possession of every human soul. His is a timely voice eloquently declaring that, no matter how thickly the spirit of the lowliest or of the boldest man may be encrusted with skepticism or ignorance or error or evil, it wells divinely with unsuspected goodness and beauty. Emerson speaks with courage, "he has confidence in mystery.” “Emerson has come to affirm simply this equal and secret grandeur of life. He has encompassed us with silence and with wonder. He has placed a shaft of light beneath the feet of the workman who leaves the workshop.
He is nearer than any other to our common life. He is the most attentive, the most assiduous, the most honest, the most scrupulous, and probably the most human of guides. He is the sage of commonplace days, and commonplace days are in sum the substance of our being.” It is Emerson's gift to discover to men, without respect of persons, that “transcendental consciousness," that self which is “more profound and more inexhaustible than the self of passion or of pure reason.”
Thus Maeterlinck congratulates Emerson benignly on his being a co-worker, a co-"interpreter," with himself. They would both be ministers of restoratives to the spiritually sick and of stimulants to the spiritually indolent. But they are not unbuttoned evangelists like Whitman, nor feverishly zealous revolutionists like Nietzsche, nor irascibly righteous pleaders like Ruskin, nor blessed dramatic visualists like Browning, nor gigantically earnest examiners like Tolstoy, nor coolly surprising philosophers like M. Bergson. They question the meaning of life closely and even passionately, but not with lowering brows and burning eyes, nor with the slow steady gaze of undeflected logical perception. Both are somewhat naïve in the "miscellaneous eclecticism” of their convictions, suggestions, recommendations, doctrines; their ideas are fresh and stimulating not because they are new, for they are almost all of ancient lineage, but because