has lost one of her most talented artists by the death
of Paul Peel. He was cut off before he had commenced
to realise his powers, just at the time when the technical
difficulties of his art were conquered, and when he
might expect to use to advantage the control and experience
he had gained. I am not able to give a sketch of his
life or works; that must be furnished by those who knew
him; but it would be amiss if in this column no reference
were made to one who gave himself up to his chosen art,
and who died before his life-work was finished. I am
not aware that any of his work dealt with Canadian subjects;
those pictures of his which I have seen seemed to show
French ideals, and were painted from French subjects.
His work always had a charm of its own, and the reproduction
by the Autotype Company of his "After the Bath,"
where two little children warm themselves before an
open fire, is very tender and charming, and the original
picture must have these qualities in a still higher
notice that Mrs. Cotes (Sara J. Duncan) has an article
on "The East" in the present number of The
Popular Science Monthly. This fact reminds us that Canada
has many very able writers among her women. Prominent
in a long list are the well-known names of Miss Machar,
Mrs. Harrison, Miss Wetherald, and Miss Pauline Johnson,
the Indian poetess. All of these women are able writers
of fiction, as well as poets. Miss Wetherald, who is
one of the youngest, has also a reputation as a journalist
and has written many a strong editorial. She has been
for some time associate editor of Mrs. Cameron's clever
paper, Wives and Daughters, and is often a contributor
to American periodicals and journals. But it is as a
poet that I think Miss Wetherald has not done justice
to herself, and it is hard to say what she might not
have accomplished had she but wooed her muse a little
more faithfully. As it is, she has produced the finest
sonnets ever written by a Canadian woman, and stands
in the front rank of Canadian sonnet writers. It is
a pity that such a woman as Miss Wetherald, with her
strong practical sensibilities and literary powers,
has given herself over to the drudgery of journalism.
It is all very well to say that women cannot write verse.
Some of the strongest verse of to-day in America is
written by women, and we hope that Miss Wetherald has
not entirely deserted her muse. Miss Machar's spiritual
lyre is so well known to Canadians that she needs no
introduction to the readers of the Mermaid Inn. Mrs.
Harrison is also well known to us all in prose and verse.
Miss Johnson is becoming known in England, where, I
understand, Mr. Theodore Watts has espoused her cause.
She has written some strong and original work, which
should deserve our notice outside of any interest her
personality as an Indian may create. Those who would
know more of her evident genius, I would direct to the
fine, if rather enthusiastic, article on Miss Johnson's
verse in the September number of The Lake Magazine,
by Mr. H.W. Charlesworth, of The Toronto World, who
is himself one of our rising litterateurs.
with us is not an instinctive but a moral quality. We
cannot be patriotic as the Englishman is patriotic.
Born and bred in an old and famous land covered with
the monuments and remnants of a romantic history, a
land still ringing with names that were illustrious
centuries ago, surrounded by all the epoch-making stir
of a great race, the Englishman, indeed, were not at
the level of humanity if he had not patriotism. Rather
than that all this should suffer hostile touch or be
affected by any breath of shame, he springs to arms
by an impulse as natural and irrepressible as the indignation
that would fire him at seeing a child or a woman beaten
and abused. With us it is very different. We have no
magnificent race history behind us, nor visible memorials
of its beauty and splendor, we have not even a homogeneous
people; we are, indeed, only the scattered and intractable
materials of which a nation may be made. We cannot have,
therefore, any impulse of patriotism. Our patriotism
is founded upon duty and the sense of honor. But it
is none the less real, and in those who possess it will
do duty as unflinchingly in the hour of danger as that
other patriotism of the blood whereof we have spoken.
Even among our neighbors of the United States, with
the inspiriting memory of some heroic national experiences
behind them, the old-fashioned fiery and affectionate
love of native land is not fully developed, as the exaggerated
gasconading exhibition of it in their public press distinctly
shows. The ordinary American only loves and clings to
his country as long as he can make money out of it.
He is ready to nationalise himself anywhere where the
dollars are. Nevertheless, there is a great deal more
patriotism of the instinctive sort in the United States
than in Canada, and most naturally so—their power,
independence and considerable historic background giving
them that spiritual as well as material advantage over
us. No one can go into some of the American cities and
study the inscriptions—on the monuments to their
dead of the Civil War without a thrilled consciousness
that these are the records of mighty events, and that
he is listening to the impassioned voice of a people.
We shall not know what national consciousness and patriotism
are until something like that happens to us. If it ever
comes to a question with each one of us of either sneaking
off into a corner and playing the coward or else going
forth sternly for pride and honor's sake, if not for
love, to risk our blood for this land's unity or independence,
then in a little while we shall learn what patriotism
is. The brave among us shall make it possible for our
descendants to be patriotic in the true sense, and not
can all remember a book in which an American behaved
with some audacity, and with plenty of that humor and
good sense, coupled with self-reliance, which the world
has come to recognise as the characteristic of a type
of the neighboring republic. I refer to Christopher
Newman in Mr. Henry James' novel "The American."
Nicholas Tarvin, the Westerner who occupies so large
a portion of the canvas in "The Nahulakah,"
is cast in the same mould; he proceeds with his impossible
tasks with an assumption of the same humor and self-reliance.
But one cannot consider them as anything but an assumption;
behind all his valorous deeds and presence of mind one
seems to see a really threadbare character. Christopher
Newman was a gentleman, and even in the most trying
situations he never becomes absurd. This is, of course,
an evidence of Mr. James' wonderful power. But Tarvin
is created not from the life, but from that idea of
it which certain American playwrights bring so prominently
before their audiences. From first to last there is
no touch of the gentleman about him, and he remains
to the end as vulgar as he promises to be at the beginning.
The book is frankly one given over to antithesis, and
we have the rawest and rankest Western life forced into
the most dreamy and ancient Eastern civilisation; we
even have a little native prince reciting a poem of
tiger, burning bright
the forests of the night";
the fortunes of a Western town, in which it is impossible
to take any interest, depending upon the success of
Tarvin's more than quixotic enterprise. If it is fair
to separate the work of the joint authors, one must
confess that those portions which bear the imprint of
Mr. Kipling's genius are successful, and brilliantly
so; the ride to the "Cow's Mouth," the descriptions
of the prince's wedding fete, and many another passage
in the book, are as vivid and picturesque as possible.
It is curious to notice here and there tricks of the
novelist's art which are certainly out of date, and
which have a grotesque appearance in a modern novel;
witness Tarvin's ridiculous address to his horse before
he commences his journey to the "Cow's Mouth,"
which adds yet another stroke of the unsubstantial to
that most visionary figure.