Vanishing Roads and Other Essays eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 267 pages of information about Vanishing Roads and Other Essays.

Along with all the other constituents of his work, its sacerdotalism, its subtle reverie, its sensuous colour and perfume, its marmoreal austerity, its honeyed music, its frequent preoccupation with the haunted recesses of thought, there go an endearing homeliness and simplicity, a deep human tenderness, a gentle friendliness, a something childlike.  He has written of her, “the presence that rose thus so strangely beside the waters,” to whom all experience had been “but as the sound of lyres and flutes,” and he has written of “The Child in the House.”  Among all “the strange dyes, strange colours, and curious odours, and work of the artist’s hands,” one never misses “the face of one’s friend”; and, in all its wanderings, the soul never strays far from the white temples of the gods and the sound of running water.

It is by virtue of this combination of humanity, edification, and aesthetic delight that Walter Pater is unique among the great teachers and artists of our time.

XXIII

THE MYSTERY OF “FIONA MACLEOD” [1]

[1]_William Sharp (Fiona Macleod)_.  A Memoir, compiled by his wife, Elizabeth A. Sharp. (Duffield & Co.) The Writings of Fiona Macleod.  Uniform edition.  Arranged by Mrs. William Sharp. (Duffield & Co.)

In the fascinating memoir of her husband, which Mrs. William Sharp has written with so much dignity and tact, and general biographic skill, she dwells with particular fondness of recollection on the two years of their life at Phenice Croft, a charming cottage they had taken in the summer of 1892 at Rudgwick in Sussex, seven miles from Horsham, the birthplace of Shelley.  Still fresh in my memory is a delightful visit I paid them there, and I was soon afterwards to recall with special significance a conversation I had with Mrs. Sharp, as four of us walked out one evening after dinner in a somewhat melancholy twilight, the glow-worms here and there trimming their ghostly lamps by the wayside, and the nightjar churring its hoarse lovesong somewhere in the thickening dusk.

“Will,” Mrs. Sharp confided to me, was soon to have a surprise for his friends in a fuller and truer expression of himself than his work had so far attained, but the nature of that expression Mrs. Sharp did not confide—­more than to hint that there were powers and qualities in her husband’s make-up that had hitherto lain dormant, or had, at all events, been but little drawn upon.

Mrs. Sharp was thus vaguely hinting at the future “Fiona Macleod,” for it was at Rudgwick, we learn, that that so long mysterious literary entity sprang into imaginative being with Pharais. Pharais was published in 1894, and I remember that early copies of it came simultaneously to myself and Grant Allen, with whom I was then staying, and how we were both somewhat intrigue by a certain air of mystery which seemed to attach to the little

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Vanishing Roads and Other Essays from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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