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better vocal expression among writers one of the most remarkable features of and is more adopted by those whom modern life. There must be some they lead than what publishers, and powerful reason which draws the occasionally railway companies, call mammoth stockbroker and the levia“the cult of the country.” But this than newspaper owner from the Empire very enthusiasm wakes in the hearts and the Ritz. of its inculcators the most lively dis- It is a platitude, of course, if one trust. Are we not, they ask themselves, says that modern civilization produces following a literary tradition which nerves. But, like all platitudes on is the most faded and the most decep- civilization, it gains in force if the tive in literature? Are we not compar- attempt be made to apply it to ancient able to the hardly rustic Virgil, whose times. Greece and Rome knew nothing views on the generation of bees spell about nerves; neither had they the bankruptcy to the credulous bee-farmer, true week-end habit. The Roman and whose poems produce agricultural senator proceeded periodically with ruin, wherever they are widely studied?
pomp to his country villa; and when Are we not, in short, the dupes or the he was there he was there for some exploiters of a convention as unreal time. He could no more conceive the in essence as the cult of the 'nineties
hurried bolt of Saturday, the placid for the music-hall? Does the country sluggishness of Sunday, and the dismal on which we write exist outside our return of Monday than he could imagown books?
ine an electric tram. This is a serious To all this interrogatory, a strong matter which has escaped the attenbut usually dumb instinct returns an tion of the sociologists who comobstinate reply. And the writers, still placently examine and adjudicate upon questioning, withdraw into the country the fall of Empires.
of whenever they have the chance. More modern life—the tube, the tram, the persistently than even the tired Titans. lift, the cinema, are factors which of commerce, they retreat to green materially complicate the problem of fields, followed by their disciples and civilization. Add to this the incomever fleeing them, so that London
parable and incurable dirtiness of the throws out round her concentric rings air in modern towns, and you have of authors, each ring seeking to avoid, the causes which drive men into the as Villiers de l'Isle Adam said of the
country. Mr. W. H. Davies writes romantic Red Indian, not the dangers with little elegance but much point: but the banalities of civilization.
The City has black spit, There must be something in all this.
The City's breath is stale. The affected man, with one eye on the drawing-rooms of the rich and the And then: other on his royalty accounts, may
The Country has sweet breath, wear uncomfortable clothes or incon
The Country's spit is white. veniently suppress his natural likings in food or drink; but he will not, if he This is quite true; but how long has it really like picture-palaces and trams, been true? It would have meant little separate himself from them by a hun- enough to Herrick or Catullus dred miles of rail and prohibitive Aristophanes. They, if they fled at all, fares. And his readers and equally fled from the enemy of their mental those who do not read him follow him quiet, from society; but we have a into the country whenever an oppor- powerful motive to flee a concrete tunity offers. The week-end habit is danger to our health. The growth of
modern conditions has produced a reaction which is far-reaching in its effects, and which has not yet attained its full development.
So much for our strongest motiveone which is quite sufficient. But there is something more in the country than a mere remedy to be taken in doses when required. The charm of the country is, no doubt, very well set off by the unpleasantness of modern cities; but it exists in itself. What is this charm that draws us either in flesh or on paper? What, indeed, is the country? It is not land unspoiled by human influence. Very little of England, none of the parts that are peculiarly England, is not tamed, disciplined and made comely by the work of man. You may walk mile after mile, day after day, without ever being out of sight of his traces. The hedge may be untrimmed, but a man drew it in a straight line. The road may be half fallen away and altogether overgrown, but roads do not come of themselves. The bank of the stream may be infinitely lonely at all hours, but men modeled the stream out of a swamp or a torrent. In the loneliest part of the South Downs you are likely at any moment to come across a stone barn or a belled sheep; or, if neither of these, at least an earthwork guarding the straight path just under the crest of the hills. The Mendips have even notice-boards to warn off trespassers on the barren heather.
It is in this humanity of the countryside that nowadays we find its beauty. We have rejected the rather sto and rather pretentious cult of the late eighteenth century for wild nature. We like fields with hedges, we like tracks and paths, streams with tended banks, well-kept woods with rides cut through them. There is no sight in the world more depressing than a neglected wood. We are not now on the whole a prey to that call
of the wild which still devastates some popular novelists.
We have reconciled the love of Nature with the love of man; and we refuse to believe that, where every prospect pleases man can be wholly vile.
Agriculture, they say, is still numerically the greatest of British industries. Reflection on this gives one a queer feeling of comfort that, in going into the country, one is not altogether a reactionary who has fled from important events. The great industry has made the country (in our special sense) what it is and is constantly maintaining it. ant or the farm-laborer is still-in spite of motor-ploughs-a hand-worker, and this gives him his perpetual interest in his work, with its variety of tasks and his genuine though dumb love for it. We seldom hear a townsman speak as proudly of his factory as a farm-laborer of the soil which he tills for a wage.
The countryman is engaged in partnership with living things; he finds his land companionable and makes a work of art of it. Hence he has his shrewdness and his kindliness; he feels with the things he handles. There can be few who have not thrilled at Marty South's words in The Woodlanders, when she says of the trees she is helping to plant , that so soon as they are set upright in the earth they begin to whisper with their leaves, as though they knew that their troubles were beginning. Her saying is very like Mr. Hardy, to be sure, but it is not at all unlike a country girl. The countryman's whole world is alive and he feels towards it emo ns of living friendliness. Waste is something more to him than an economic fact; it is an insult to Nature. Mr. Joseph Campbell grasped very well the feeling of the peasant when he wrote:
The silence of unlabored fields Lies like a judgment on the air,
These lines reveal the deep force looks, and the men whom one sees which dwells in the country-a reserve busy with them at the roadside have force which manifests itself less often artist's air of absorption and in words than in manual labor.
consideration. Manual labor, of
pre- There is, again, an immediate conscribed as a cure for nerves. But it is nection between even the underpaid not in this alone that the contentment agricultural worker and the result of of the countryman lies, or the fas- his work. The young men whom one cination of his toil and its results for can see incredibly making blouses on the mind-driven townsman. There sewing-machines in the East End are manual workers enough in fac- will never wear one of those blouses; tories, handling machines and manu- it is not likely that they will even walk factured articles and depending every out with a young woman who does. day for livelihood on the quickness of But the farm laborerhand or wrist. It is the countryman's Working stooped amid the golden perpetual manipulation of a living
ears, thing so as to make and keep it sweet Or taking the sweet apples from the and docile that attracts us. His work boughs is essentially that of an artist. His And laying them by rows in country hedge is his own creation, and there is
lofts no more enjoyable work in the world -knows that he will presently eat than that of trimming a hedge. There some of what he is handling. His is also no more beautiful thing in the work is real to him in a sense rarely world than a hedge of some length, experienced by the factory or the which follows the undulations of the brain worker. This is not to say that ground and which is trimmed well and these unfortunates should immediately with proper regard to the different plunge into the country and buy sorts of tree in it. In those parts of the farms; they would find their work country, such as the Cotswolds, where then only too cruelly real. But it goes they prefer stone walls, the landscape way towards explaining the has perhaps a bleaker and less amiable spirit that fills the cultivated lands appearance; but these walls are of England, and towards explaining tremely beautiful, and it must be a the genuine desire of modern men to great pleasure either to build or to look for refreshment, at least for a repair them. A wall of loose stones is little while, out of their hurried and by no means the easy matter that it grimy towns. The New Statesman.
The happy woods, fields and meadows roll into one another for miles and miles, stretching their greenness to the blue sky and smiling to the wooing sun; the car
to be conscious of the universal joy and bounds madly on like a deer intoxicated by the Spring breezes; the sun, the speed, and every now and then the dust raised by a procession of lorries,
too much for your eyes and thoughts, and you shut your eyes, opening them only when a whiff of bagpipe lyricism searching your innermost being makes you feel that it is all true and that the Highlanders marching past the harsh-eyed German road-menders are not a dream; that the black sphinxes you see squatting on the horizon must be the dross-hills
and ventilating machines of BullyGrenay, and that the grand scene you are seeking cannot be far.
No warning is given you. Suddenly the car is toiling up a solitary road between the comfortable houses of a large village, with a high-shouldered church and a château with indented gables on your right; and in one moment you realize that war has been here, that the château, church and houses may be standing, but the swearing rage of artillery has shattered their windows, roofs and partitions, making life a burden for the inhabitants until nobody has felt like facing the morrow except an old man feeding a few chickens and, at the edge of the wood, an invisible woman who advertises in imperfect English that she takes in washing.
Past the village rises a woody upland showing here and there on its sunny slopes crumbling trenches or rusty wires; there are shell holes, too, in plenty, but the trees have not been hit hard, and Nature is fast making her losses good. The road alone, unhelped by plant or man, is beyond repair; so much so that, at a crossing near the ridgeway, your guide decides that the car had better go down a valley you see to your right, and you proceed on foot.
In a few minutes you are clear of the wood, and you find yourself on the broad green back of a hill with other hills in the hazy distance. “Where are we?”
"Why! Notre-Dame de Lorette! the ruins you see over there are those of Mont Saint-Eloy, and the hill in front of us is the Vimy Ridge.”
Cannon is booming all round, but the strong breeze brews its sounds, and they melt in a dull, deep swell, so continuous that in a few moments it is not noticed any more, and the great names you have just heard fill your ears to the exclusion of anything else. The calmness of the summer morning
is too complete to admit of any recollections in strong opposition to it: Notre-Dame de Lorette and Vimy are the titles of sanguinary chapters in the history of the War it is true, but just now they
are only sacred names bearing their significance in themselves; their solemnity is undisturbed by imaginations of mad scrambling or horrible slaughter. Your guide and yourself are alone on the grassy plateau, and wherever you look not another human being is to be seen; the white road down below meanders in full view for miles, but you see nobody go up or down it; there are no sounds of distant cartings, no ploughman's song rising from a field, but the swallows chase one another in frantic joy and a buffoon of a crow tries his awkward somersault a hundred times over, as if this were a verdant Cornwall district and the booming were only the seas playing along the cliff. The ruins of Ablain-Saint-Nazaire church which you gradually see rising above the lip at your right is so beautiful: the white arches, flamboyant windows, and tall tower recall so much the happy wanderings of other years, that war seems an absurd dream, and the awe you are conscious of has every now and then to be explained to yourself.
Yet there are shell holes every twenty steps, and wires trail among the dandelions, and old trenches zigzag everywhere in indescribable confusion. You come to another trench which evidently is still used, and after following this a few minutes you hear a muffled murmur of conversation somewhere, which as you listen suggests Edinburgh Castle and quaint talks with its custodian; and in fact you soon find yourself in an underground observation post listening to the telephoning of two Scotch artillery men. You look out at the slits on which daisies have decided to bloom, and you see war at last. Between where you