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movement, and Guesde, may have precipitated it by their narrow determination to stamp out its beginnings ; but its coming was inevitable. Socialism may keep out of politics and be frankly revolutionary, but it cannot enter politics and remain so. Socialism is and must ever remain the greatest revolutionary change the world has seen, but if it is to be accomplished by peaceful methods its supporters must adapt themselves to parliamentary tactics, and the moment this is admitted the revolutionary ideal must be put aside. The change will not all be gain, and the danger is that the agitation, by becoming flabby, will lose its greatest value as a force for regenerating the character of the democracy. Here all the argument is on the side of the extremists. No hard-and-fast rule can be laid down for the application of the new methods, but generally speaking, where the Socialist propaganda has so far succeeded as to have built up a strong party in the State, and where the ties which kept the older parties together have so far been dissolved that there is no longer an effective reform party remaining, there the Socialists may be expected to lend their aid in creating a new combination of such progressive forces as give an intellectual assent to Socialism, and are prepared to co-operate in waging war against reaction and in rallying the forces of democracy. When this can be done so as in no way to impair the freedom of action of the Socialist party or to blur the vision of the Socialist ideal, it would appear as if the movement had really no option but to accept its share of the responsibility of guiding the State. Then, just in proportion as Socialism grows, so will the influence of its representatives in the national councils increase, and the world may wake up one morning to find that Socialism has come, that the long-dreaded revolution is over, and that the dreamers are already in quest of a new ideal for the regeneration of the race.
J. KEIR HARDIE.
MR. HARRISON'S HISTORICAL ROMANCE 1
THE last occasion when I made bold to write for the readers of this Review (February 1892) about a literary achievement of Mr. Harrison's, was on the appearance of that remarkable volume, the New Calendar of Great Men, a dozen years ago. I ventured at some length to question the omission from the list of those heirs of the Roman Empire in the East who, on any sound estimate, must be held to have performed in more ways than one services of the first magnitude in saving civilisation in the West. The omission was Comte's fault-80 far as fault it was—and not that of his distinguished adherent. Hannibal has a place in this famous calendar; so have Harun-alRaschid, the caliph of Bagdad, and Abd-al-Rahman, the caliph of Cordova. Charles Martel had a place for the glory of stemming the torrent of Mussulman invasion at Tours. Yet the battle of Tours (732) was only a victory over a plundering expedition of Spanish Arabs, whereas the repulse of the Saracens before Constantinople by Leo the Third (718) was what first drove back the tide. Still Leo and the other great champions at Byzantium were held unworthy of canonisation. Of course the heroes of New Rome were schismatic in the eyes of the Popes of Old Rome, and it is not irreverent to the great name of Comte to suppose it natural for him to take up the Pope's grievances against the Greek schism, along with some other pontifical attributes. In truth, Comte had broad reasons of his own. The dominant fact in the mediæval West was in his eyes the separation of spiritual from temporal power. In the Eastern Rome the two powers were essentially one; military concentration was a necessity of existence; and the Church was, as it is in Russia to-day, and as Napoleon intended it to be in France a century ago, the instrument of the State. The other vital element, again, in Comte's view of the normal evolution of the Middle Ages, was feudalism, and feudalism was inconsistent with the military requirements of Byzantine power. In consideration, therefore, of these two ruling factors, the series of events dealt with in Theophano was regarded by Comte as moving outside of the main stream of the progress of mankind.
* Theophano : the Crusade of the Tenth Century. A Romantic Monograph. By Frederic Harrison. London: Chapman & Hall.
Whatever defect there may have been in his master's appreciation of Byzantine influence on our world, Mr. Harrison has, at any rate, in his new volume as well as in other pieces, made it strenuously good. His Rede lecture at Cambridge four years since is a singularly comprehensive, just, and eloquent statement and vindication of the modern case. The chapters upon Constantinople in his volume on the meaning of history abound in brilliant description and in reflections at once deep and precise. The scholar, the politician, and the general reader who happens to be little of either politician or scholar, will find both pleasure and food for thought in those sixty admirable pages.? His present story Mr. Harrison describes as an attempt, under the form of romance, to give the history of one of the most striking episodes in the annals of what used to be called the Dark Ages. His aim is to paint a general picture of the South and East of Europe, and of the relations of that portion of Christendom to the advancing power of Islam, in the tenth century. His first design was a prose narrative, with no larger use of imagination than is as truly indispensable in history, as it is declared to be in the fields of natural science.
Some of his readers may possibly wish that to this design he had adhered, for the mixture of history with romance, of real actors and known events with avowed fiction, has not always been a successful experiment. No novelist has ever had so much of the genius of his-tory as Scott, that great writer and true-hearted man; and if it be - unluckily true that Scott is no longer widely read, we may be quite sure that it is so much the worse for the common knowledge of his
tory. Apart from the stimulating contribution to historic knowledge in Ivanhoe, it may be suspected in the palace of truth that a majority of people who would fairly pass for cultivated, owe all they know of such figures as Louis the Eleventh and Charles the Bold to Quentin Durward. Scott tried his hand at a Byzantine story, but he made nothing of it; he knew little of the ground, for not even Gibbon had perceived the full bearing of the stupendous events of which Constantinople was the centre between the time of Justinian and the time of Richard Cour de Lion. When Scott wrote Count Robert of Paris (1830), the noble brain that had peopled the world's gallery with so many incomparable figures, such vivid scenes, such moving interests, was at last itself outworn, and the gallant man could only liken himself in a mournful image to a leaking vessel out at sea in the pitch-dark.
If anybody chooses to say that Theophano is old-fashioned, assuredly a fashion set by Ivanhoe and Quentin Durward has something to say for itself. In Hypatiu the genius of Kingsley, who had less of the historic sense than any other professor that ever sat in a chair of history, brought out some aspects of the fifth century with enchanting
? The Meaning of History, and other Historical Pieces (Macmillan, 1894); Byzantine History in the Early Middle Ages (Macmillan, 1900).
success. None, again, of Bulwer's romances stood higher in popularity than Rienzi, and to this day some foreign writers do justice to his admirable mixture of intrigue proper for a story with historic narrative, his animated description-among other things of the plague of Florence—though less scrupulous in respect for his authorities than might have been expected from his severe treatment of the errors of some other writers, Catherine the Second of Russia might appear a theme of grand promise, and the experiment has been in a certain fashion tried, but with indifferent result. Lucrezia Borgia, as we all know, has been set to music, but the libretto is sadly unhistoric, for Lucrezia, it now seems, if not absolutely blameless, was still an excellent woman, and died in an entirely respectable confinement. Chateaubriand's once famous Martyrs (1802-9) was a romance of the persecutions of Diocletian and Galerius. Though without verse, it is poetry and not history. Its prose has the melody of plaintive song, and a fluent harmony that prose has never surpassed. The emotions with which it so deeply stirred a generation early in our last century, arose, as Aristotle said they should, not merely from scenery and spectacle, but from the inner structure of the piece. They arose, too, from the burning association, in the minds of the readers of the time, of the sufferings of the Church at the hands of Galerius with the fresh persecution of the children of the same Church at the hands of Chaumette and the firebrands of revolution. All this gives a pathos and poetic tenderness to the tale of Eudore and Cymodocée that is hardly to be conceived in dealing with Theophano and Nicephorus. Here warm thoughts and free spirits must give way to
The Iron-pointed pen
In this dire conflict of faith and race and rival empires, we need a firmer and sterner chord. Mr. Harrison has naturally felt an artistic compulsion to introduce the relief of gentler episodes. Some may find these episodes less suited to his silver trumpet of a style, than pageant, landscape, battle, fervid councils, stirring scenes of high bistoric fate.
In the works that I have named, history is secondary to romance. In Theophano this is reversed. It is primarily and really history, an attempt to relate authentic facts in deep colour, not verifiable in every detail out of written documents, yet wholly true to the historic tones. No piece of dilettantism, it is the production of one, now long well known as an accomplished scholar, a traveller, a powerful writer, who has kept himself well abreast of the acquisitions of new learning and new culture, and who, in this case, has both thoroughly worked the contemporary records at first hand, and laboriously
See Rodocanachi's Cola di Rienzo, p. xi., 1888.
mastered the mass of elucidation and dissertation due to an army of specialists.
Of course most people would admit the noblest piece of tragedy in all written history to be the retreat of the beaten Athenians from Syracuse. “Is it or is it not,' wrote Gray to Wharton, 'the finest thing you ever read in your life?' Macaulay said : 'I do assure you that there is no prose composition in the world that I place so high as the seventh book of Thucydides. . . . Tacitus was a great man, but he was not up to the Sicilian expedition.'s But it would be absurd to compare the original history of Thucydides, Herodotus, Cæsar, Machiavelli, Guicciardini with the composite narrative of even the greatest of literary historians. Gibbon's description of the capture of Constantinople is indeed magnificent, but the gorgeous art of this splendid composition is fatal to the profoundest kind of dramatic effect upon our inmost minds, and conveys none of that tragic impression which stirs us not less deeply than even the grandest of stage-plays, and makes the reader, now more than two thousand years since these events, hold his breath in that profoundest pity which is pity without tears, as he watches the agony of the sea-fight in the great harbour, the panic and misery of the march, the horrors by the river, the death of Nicias--of all Hellenes least deserving of an end so wretched—the dreadful sufferings of the prisoners in the stonequarries, fleet and army perishing from the face of the earth, and of the many who had gone forth few ever returning home. Here is indeed the supreme model of tragic prose.
It was inevitable that a story of Byzantium in the tenth century should take a shape not so much of tragedy as of melodrama, and the author has thrown himself into the melodramatic elements of his tale with extraordinary force and spirit. He has not always resisted the temptation to overdo these elements, and to push animation to violence. Still, the temper of the age was in essence barbaric, and any narrative without a sort of violence would be untrue to local and historic colour, just as it would be in a romance of Petersburg or Belgrade at certain moments of the nineteenth century. Every competent judge will admire the energy with which the high and strenuous pitch is from beginning to end swiftly and unfalteringly sustained. Mr. Harrison is a recognised master of language; not always wholly free from excess, but direct, powerful, plain, with none of our latter-day nonsense of mincing and posturing, of elliptic brevities, cryptic phrase, vapid trick, and the hundred affectations and devices of ambitious insincerity. He has the signal merit of looking his readers in the eye ; his periods, even when we most dissent from their substance, are alive with the strong and manly pulse of the writer's own personality. Whether Theophano and Nicephorus and Otto and Gerbert and Luitprand and the rest will be found con
s Trevelyan, i. 440, 449.