There is no need for me to enter into detail with regard to Dale’s personal appearance; the caricaturists did him rather more than justice, the photographers rather less. In his younger days he suggested a gingerbread man that had been left too long in the sun; towards the end he affected a cultured and elaborate ruggedness that made him look like a duke or a market gardener. Like most clever men, he had good eyes.
Nor is it my purpose to add more than a word to the published accounts of his death. There is something strangely pitiful in that last desperate effort to achieve humour. We have all read the account of his own death that he dictated from the sick-bed—cold, epigrammatic, and, alas! characteristically lacking in taste. And once more it was his fate to make us rather sorry than angry.
In the third scene of the second act of “Henry V.,” a play written by an author whom Dale pretended to despise, Dame Quickly describes the death of Falstaff in words that are too well known to need quotation. It was thus and no otherwise that Dale died. It is thus that every man dies.
He sat in the middle of the great cafe with his head supported on his hands, miserable even to bitterness. Inwardly he cursed the ancestors who had left him little but a great name and a small and ridiculous body. He thought of his father, whose expensive eccentricities had amused his fellow-countrymen at the cost of his fortune; his mother, for whom death had been a blessing; his grandparents and his uncles, in whom no man had found any good. But most of all he cursed himself, for whose follies even heredity might not wholly account. He recalled the school where he had made no friends, the University where he had taken no degree. Since he had left Oxford, his aimless, hopeless life, profligate, but dishonourable, perhaps, only by accident, had deprived even his title of any social value, and one by one his very acquaintances had left him to the society of broken men and the women who are anything but light. And these, and here perhaps the root of his bitterness lay, even these recognised him only as a victim for their mockery, a thing more poor than themselves, whereon they could satisfy the anger of their tortured souls. And his last misery lay in this: that he himself could find no day in his life to admire, no one past dream to cherish, no inmost corner of his heart to love. The lowest tramp, the least-heeded waif of the night, might have some ultimate pride, but he himself had nothing, nothing whatever. He was a dream-pauper, an emotional bankrupt.