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By Edward A. Steiner
How little honor Maeterlinck has in
his own country is proved by the fact Walks seeing through the night."
that his photograph could not be found VERY visitor to in any art store of his country, and, still
Maeterlinck's lit greater oblivion, he is not immortalized
be not a profes- mystic, has all its beauty within. Glimpses sional interviewer, has a longing to see of green, a ripple of falling water, patches and hear the man whose dramas have of gay autumn color, birds and bees, led him over new and shadowy paths of the clip-clap of wooden shoes worn by human experience, whose philosophical the servants--these were Maeterlinck's essays have led him into the hushed pres- environment, into which he was born in ence of the unknown God, and who has 1862. disclosed to him in a minute study of the His parents were pious Roman Cathobee the order and justice which govern lics, and in the old spirit-haunted cathe. this universe.
dral the fancy of the boy first took wing Judging him from his somber thoughts, and flew far, far away from the padre's one would imagine Maeterlinck to be a sermon and the monotonous Hail Marys ! world-tired hermit who had fathomed the Superstitious neighbors said, "The boy depth of all human woe, and who was has the second sight," and although he now living in a lone castle listening to did not begin life as a mystic philosopher, the faint voice within him, a voice which but as a plain, realistic lawyer, the superthe author has made vibrant, and which stitious neighbors for once had guessed has been heard and understood the world the truth. Not even in sleepy Brabant over by the elect, who have grown weary has a silent mystic much chance of sucof the coarse, metallic voice of the modern ceeding in the law, and so the business realist, who have been frozen by the cold fell upon a brother and a cousin, who are north blast of Ibsen, or been satiated by now on the road to wealth and political the sensuousness of the modern French fame. Instead of reading his Flemish school.
Blackstone, Maeterlinck read the English To find Maeterlinck's real environ- Shakespeare and the American Emerson, ment one has to travel from the highway so that these two authors are much to of pleasure and business to Ghent, an blame for the fact that Belgium is rid of old haunt of the mystics, where earth’s a poor lawyer and the world the possessor sounds are faint upon the streets, although of a dramatist of the highest rank and a the cobblestones in the pavements have philosopher who has kindled a torch been placed with the noisiest and most which leads men from blatant noise to pointed part toward the sky. Cabmen, wholesome silence and from weariness carmen, and even bookmen knew but to rest. little of the new glory resting upon their I was startled to hear him say the very old city, and to find the home where words spoken to me by many men so Maeterlinck was born was difficult enough different from him: “ Emerson was my to make even the greatest skeptic believe guide and teacher.” Tolstoi, Nietzsche, that the adage about the "prophet in his Hauptmann, and Ibsen have said the same own country” was spoken by inspired thing; wherever I come into strange lips.
lands as a hero-worshiper, the greatest