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men have turned my eyes toward Con- storm, while wind and ware are expressed cordand have uttered the nase of by speech rather than by the trick maEmerson with the reserence of discipies caicery of the stage. and the gratitude of scholars.
Maeterlinck considers his next two Maeterlinck reflects in his works the dramas his best ; one of them is called international character of his country. - The Biind." the other -- The L'ncalled." Belgium belongs as much to England as In both of them he reaches the sublimest to France, and no less to Germany. for height of his own peculiar art, making not only is the money of these countries mere passing shadows and bloodless current among the people, but their ideas creatures call forth in the beholder endalso; and so it happens that Maeterlinck less thoughts and indefinable emotions. has all the glow and fervor of the Roman, The late Richard Horey's translation of the keen human insight of the Anglo- his dramas will give the English reader a Saxon, and that peculiar religious mysti- fair idea of their mystic grandeur, but, cism which is a Germanic quality exem- depending largely upon the power of plified by Swedenborg Lavater, Jacob euphony as they do, much of their mysBoehme, and by his own noble country- terious strength is lost. man Johann Ruysbrock, to whom Maeter- As formless as are his dramas are also linck has given, not unjustly, the title of his essays, in which peculiarity alone we Dr. Ecstaticus.
would discover the disciple of Emerson. Maeterlinck's cousin, who guided me “Out of one subject have grown two through the house, showed me the library or three,” he says; and I was tempted to shelves upon which are crowded the differ. add, “ Ad infinitum.” The step from the ent editions and translations of the author's dramas to the essays was a step from works. It is interesting to know that the sickness to health. smallest number of editions was printed in In his “ Treasure of the Humble," France, that England and America rank a book of thirteen essays, one feels the first, while Germany is slightly ahead of health coming back, though somewhat the country in whose language the books slowly. On every page one feels the were written.
struggling desire of a great power to flow The smallest book is his first work, a back into its own soul, and then to express volume of poems which he called “ Hot- itself about the inexpressible. house Plants,” very French in form and His eyes have not the vague look of the spirit, disclosing but little originality, and clairvoyant and spiritualist, but they seem which, like many others who have achieved to say, “We have seen," although the lips greatness, he wishes he had never printed. of this man cannot convey to you just In 1889 he published his first drama, what. Much more clearly these lips “ Princess Maleine,” which, like all those spoke in his last volume of essays, “Wisthat follow it, is wrapped in fatalistic dom and Destiny.” Here he shows him- . gloom, the power of the over-simple action self the victor over the dark fatalism in lying entirely in suggestions of coming which he was being engulfed, leaning peril, in fear of the impending something much more closely on Emerson, “whose be it life or death, and in displaying the optimism is good virus for a sluggish sledge-hammer of destiny and holding its spirit.” victims under it.
“It is not so far from Wisdom and Only a few times have his shadowy pic- Destiny' to · The Life of the Bee' as you tures passed over the stage, then disap- think ;” this was said to me in Paris, peared forever, for not even a metaphysi- where the author is now living in an cal German audience could stand having environment detrimental to soul quiet and its nerve-strings pulled for two hours introspection. almost to the breaking-point, without being Here, where so many bees kiss the able to say to itself, “ Why is this thus ?” flowers without bringing home the honey,
Much of this intense power is due to Maeterlinck has brought his queens from the phonetic means employed, the repeti- their Italian domains, and surrounded tion of words senseless and meaningless them in true cosmopolitan style by courtto the superticial reader, falling upon the iers, workers, and idlers from many lands. ear like heavy rhythmic raindrops before a Every book written about the bee passed
before him, and for the first time in his asylum, and they call piteously after their riper years Maeterlinck saw the things father and guide-an aged priest who that are, and, with an unsuspected pa- had led them out and now has disaptience, watched his bees day and night as peared. Around them the ocean roars they passed through the window into the angrily, the storm is beating about their flower market by the Madeleine and back heads, and snow, like a funeral pall, is again with their load of sweetness. Thus falling about them. the dramatist and philosopher became a The priest is among them, but a corpse, natural scientist; and nowhere have these and in their terror they cry, but no one three characters been so beautifully answers. A dog is among them, but he blended as in this most delightful book, knows not the way; a poet gathers flowin which the tragedy of the lowly life has ers, and shares not their woe; at last the received a masterful interpretation, the babe of an insane woman leads them by wisdom of the guiding hand of God is its cry.
its cry. The significance of the drama so clearly seen and understood, and the was rightly guessed by me. minutest action of a multitude of insects “ The Blind " is the symbol of a world is so perfectly recorded.
which has lost its ancient guide the Maeterlinck does not make the bee priest, and is now wandering through the speak; you can always hear his own soft, forest of unfaith to the brink of the sea. clear voice; he guides you by his own Nothing can replace the lost guide; the eye, and his reflections are like prism- animal instinct which is symbolized by flashings here and there.
the dog will lead them far astiay, the I was to discuss this book with the poetic fancy will not reach the depth of author. “But there is nothing to discuss,” woe; nothing can waken the dead priest, he pleaded, so I was merciful to my vic- nothing can keep death from men and tim, and looked upon his health-glowing from institutions; but “ a little child shall face and into his deep, far-seeing eyes, lead them.” The question I had come feeling anew the “eloquence of silence.” all the way to Paris to ask was this: “Mr. This I learned in that quiet moment: Maeterlinck, did the child lead the blind that Maeterlinck's second sight has be back to the asylum ?" The reply was come clearer still, that his heart has grown unsatisfactory. “Each man will answer quiet, that he sees order in the universe, that question according to his own faith. and the whole world “shot through with What is your answer?" righteousness."
“No," I said ; " the child does not lead One question I had come to ask—a them back to the asylum, but it leads question which, with its interrogation them to a small and unquiet harbor, and point, had stuck in my brain ever since I upon a large ship.” “And then?” “And had read his most impressive of all dramas, then they sail on toward the light." The “ The Blind."
poet smiled his approval of the answer, A host of despairing, stupefied men walk and the nameless disturber who had caraimlessly through a forest. They are ried a question across the Atlantic and blind, shaken by the cold, and have lost then answered it himself passed on into their way; they want to return to the deserved oblivion.