Vanishing Roads and Other Essays eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 329 pages of information about Vanishing Roads and Other Essays.
volume.  We were both intimate friends of William Sharp, but I was better acquainted with Sharp’s earlier poetry than Grant Allen, and it was my detection in Pharais of one or two subtly observed natural images, the use of which had previously struck me in one of his Romantic Ballads and Poems of Phantasy, that brought to my mind in a flash of understanding that Rudgwick conversation with Mrs. Sharp, and thus made me doubly certain that “Fiona Macleod” and William Sharp were one, if not the same.  Conceiving no reason for secrecy, and only too happy to find that my friend had fulfilled his wife’s prophecy by such fuller and finer expression of himself, I stated my belief as to its authorship in a review I wrote for the London Star.  My review brought me an urgent telegram from Sharp, begging me, for God’s sake, to shut my mouth—­or words to that effect.  Needless to say, I did my best to atone for having thus put my foot in it, by a subsequent severe silence till now unbroken; though I was often hard driven by curious inquirers to preserve the secret which my friend afterwards confided to me.

When I say “confided to me,” I must add that in the many confidences William Sharp made to me on the matter, I was always aware of a reserve of fanciful mystification, and I am by no means sure, even now, that I, or any of us—­with the possible exception of Mrs. Sharp—­know the whole truth about “Fiona Macleod.”  Indeed it is clear from Mrs. Sharp’s interesting revelations of her husband’s temperament that “the whole truth” could hardly be known even to William Sharp himself; for, very evidently in “Fiona Macleod” we have to deal not merely with a literary mystification, but with a psychological mystery.  Here it is pertinent to quote the message written to be delivered to certain of his friends after his death:  “This will reach you,” he says, “after my death.  You will think I have wholly deceived you about Fiona Macleod.  But, in an intimate sense this is not so, though (and inevitably) in certain details I have misled you.  Only, it is a mystery.  I cannot explain.  Perhaps you will intuitively understand or may come to understand.  ’The rest is silence.’  Farewell.  WILLIAM SHARP.”

“It is only right, however, to add that I, and I only, was the author—­in the literal and literary sense—­of all written under the name of ‘Fiona Macleod.’”

“Only, it is a mystery.  I cannot explain.”  Does “I cannot explain” mean “I must not explain,” or merely just what it says?  I am inclined to think it means both; but, if so, the “must not” would refer to the purely personal mystification on which, of course, none would desire to intrude, and the “cannot” would refer to that psychological mystery which we are at liberty to investigate.

Project Gutenberg
Vanishing Roads and Other Essays from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook