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research of man. Her perceptions are of the nerves, for, like some of her favourite Swedish and Norwegian authors, she personifies our modern nervousness, and her best characters are quivering bundles of nerves. The reader can hardly fail to recognise the autobiographical character of her writings, redolent, as they are, of the spirit of discontent and disillusionment. Stories of the 'Keynotes' type, especially the more artistic ones, are monologues, as it were. The writers seem to be relating their own mental experiences, like Marie Bashkirtseff, without any attempt at concealment. The mood varies in these books-sometimes tender, sometimes sorrowful, sometimes vicious, as though the authoress would like to scratch or slap somebody; but they are always purely subjective, or else rapid generalisations from limited experience. Like all introspective work of the kind, Mrs Egerton's appeals to women far more than to men, for her instinct enables her to perceive the fundamental traits of woman's nature. Of these traits the deepest and most ineradicable, it appears, is her "eternal wildness, the untamed primitive savage temperament that lurks in the mildest, best woman." Mrs Roy Devereux also asserts that woman is at heart a barbarian, and her affinity in many respects to her remote ancestresses is insisted on by other lady writers. Backwards across the ages, remarks one of them, her gaze flashes recognition to "the grand untamed eyes of the primeval woman," whose freedom from the restraints of civilisation some of our revoltées would seem to envy. Only one man, we are told, "has had sufficient instinct to bring to light this abyss in woman's nature," a poet named

Barbey D'Aurévilly, and he, poor fellow, was never understood. This seems to be the usual fate of people with very complex natures in both sexes. They make a study of incomprehensibility, and raise mystification to the level of a fine art, and then complain because they are misunderstood. It is not quite clear why this somewhat commonplace trait of wildness should be called an "abyss," except that all terms denoting profundity and immensity are deemed appropriate to the feminine soul, which possesses many other fundamental characteristics besides that of wildness. It is volcanic, for instance, in its nature, as may be learned from the neurotic novelists, and as some men, I am given to understand, have occasion to know. I notice, by way of illustration, that one young lady describes herself as "a bundle of electric currents bursting forth in all directions into chaos." This, however, strikes me as a somewhat daring metaphor. Personally, I should be content to liken the spirit of feminism to a river, now flowing tranquilly with every passing sentiment and impression mirrored on its placid surface, now surging tumultuously onwards but always prodigiously deep.

Another characteristic, according to Fru Marholm Hansson, is beginning to make itself felt, "and that is an intense and morbid consciousness of the ego in woman." Mrs Egerton is, of course, a great believer in the Scandinavian doctrine of the ego. Self-sacrifice is out of fashion altogether in our modern school of novelists, and self-development has taken its place. This consciousness of the self is of recent growth: it was unknown to Our mothers and grandmothers, who, says Mrs Devereux, "knew as little about

their sensations as a cabbage does about its growth." I have no knowledge of what it feels like to be conscious of your ego, so I must content myself with simply chronicling the phenomenon without commenting upon it. It has always been understood that the best sign of all being right with a man's heart or liver is, that he should not be conscious of possess ing such things; and to be conscious of your ego must be a much more serious matter. I remember that Max Nordau classes egomania as among the leading stigmata of degeneration, so doubtless this newly aroused consciousness lies at the root of our modern introspectiveness, and accounts for many of the strange things that neurotic people do both in real life and in fiction.

The last of these psychological sketches is that of the Woman's Rights woman, Fru Edgren-Leffler. It strikes me as less interesting than most of the others, perhaps because the authoress is less in sympathy with the type of feminism that it deals with. This type is analogous in some respects with those heroines in recent novels who are afire with the new altruism, and talk Poor Law Reports and Parliamentary BlueBooks at great length to their lovers. In her early days Fru Leffler was the champion of the Swedish Woman's Rights movement, and interested herself in all the "isms," such as socialism, anarchism, theosophy, positivism, and atheism; but late in life she seems to have learned that the highest altruism, as well as the truest happiness, for women lies in performing the duties of wife and mother. Fru Hansson uses the story of her life to enforce her favourite theory-namely, that individualism in woman is a mistake,

because she cannot exist alone, being "spiritually and mentally an empty vessel, which must be replenished by man." I try to picture to myself what Mrs Sarah Grand's feelings must have been if ever she read this sentence. One fears, too, lest the dissemination of such views should have a bad effect upon man, and tend to make the creature more insupportable than ever. Fru Hansson, however, is most emphatic on the point, and asserts that those ladies who seek to exert their influence by main force, and "manifest a desire to dispense with man altogether," are acting most imprudently. Far be it from me to express an opinion on this delicate point, though one cannot help thinking that Eve without Adam, or vice versa, might after a while find even Paradise a bore. Anyhow, Fru Leffler seems to have grown to this opinion, for, though as a disciple of Ibsen she had raged against the unhappiness of married life, she fell violently in love at the age of forty, and abandoned her active championship of the rights of feminism in order to enjoy "liberty, love, and the South" in Italy. Unfortunately, like Sonia Kovalevsky, she died young, but her closing days were unclouded by grief; for "the woman's rights woman sang a hymn to the mystery of love, and the last short years of happiness, too soon interrupted by death, were a contradiction to the long insipid period of literary production."

There is another point on which the authoresses of the two books under consideration are at variance with the modern champions of their sex. Mrs Grand, among others, has maintained, with much insistence and great wealth of pathological detail, that a great deal of the unhappiness and the ailments


of women are due to their want of occupation. There is much, no doubt, to be said for this contention, though work regarded as a cure may be worse than the disease when, as so often is the case, it means overwork. Fru Hansson is evidently no great believer in the weary path or study" for women; and certainly work brought neither health nor happiness to Sonia Kovalevsky or Marie Bashkirtseff, in spite of their intellectual triumphs. As for Mrs Devereux, she simply laughs at the idea of any woman really loving work as an end in itself. "To say that she loves work better than liberty and leisure is a pathetic pretence. Surely the fact that the New Woman is always trying to persuade herself that work is a blessing when she knows in her heart of hearts it is a curse, is one of the saddest of 'life's little ironies.' Who shall decide when such emiment doctors disagree?


Having thus in cursory fashion reviewed the various mental phenomena exhibited in woman's writings on herself, one is tempted to ask, What is the purport or origin of all this super-subtlety and microscopic self-examination? Why should people take such infinite pains to make themselves miserable? and why should woman, in particular, so "persistently parade her ' scourged white breast'" for our inspection? Is it simply a symptom of the fret and fever of modern life? of the restlessness and discontent which seem to have got so deep a hold of us all? We all love to be parading our burdens and to say, "See what a heavy load I bear!" just like those old people who are continually prating of their ailments. The world is very hollow and empty, and we must all, especially the ladies amongst us, be

very sad, to judge from the books and plays that delight the public. Morbid pessimism, subdued or paroxysmal, is the dominant note alike of the "new" fiction and the new psychological drama. It expresses itself in the worship of ugliness, the minute and almost exclusive delineation of what is gloomy and squalid in life, and the strange affection exhibited by so many writers for the gutter and those who lie therein. The Scandinavian authors set the fashion, with their wonderful talent for "pathological hunting in the terra incognita of the human soul," but they found plenty of imitators in this country. The ideal writer in the eyes of the neurotic school is a sort of literary mosquito, whose "intellectual antennæ " probe greater depths of agonised human nature than anybody else. He catches the suffering reader on the raw, so to speak, and makes him skip. I have just been reading how a brutal Hyperborean, named Strindberg, is said to have probed so deeply into the recesses of the feminine soul that his victims fairly shrieked with anguish and vexation. However, as we learn from the Ascent of Woman,' "you cannot probe to the heart of life without making a wound"; and these homocca - like mental vivisectionists, with their faculty of always "touching the spot," would much rather make the wound than not probe at all. Whenever a book or a play of this sort comes out, it sets all the decadents chattering, and they call it profoundly convincing and significant; whereas, if they were not decadents, they would call it simply dismal and disgusting. There are two recent novels, very different in some respects, but both excessively morbid, which will serve to illustrate my meaning: Mrs

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Egerton's Discords' and Hardy's 'Jude the Obscure.' To Mr read them, one would think that the only fleeting moments of happiness the authors enjoy is when they can invent some new thrill or shudder. Their characters move about in an atmosphere of intense gloom. They not only torture themselves and each other, but the hand of Destiny lies heavy upon them. They are driven by fate, circumstance, or the Zeitgeist; playthings of the inexplicable, of heredity, and everything else that is unpleasant. Never for an instant, regardless of their doom, can these wretched victims sport, for the spirit of humour is not in them. They may "take love as an anodyne to deaden the agony of thought," but the result is always equally depressing, for their malady is the malady of despair.

We have lately been witnessing a slight recrudescence of the Ibsen "boom"; so, being naturally interested in the father of the new psychology, I attended a matinée of "Little Eyolf" at the Avenue theatre. I arrived early, but found the house already full. There was a small sprinkling of males, but woman had assembled in force to do honour to the Master who headed the revolt of her sex. new culture and the newest chifThe fon were alike represented in the audience, proving that intellectual womanhood has listened to Mrs Roy Devereux and once more begun (did it ever cease?) to beautify itself in real earnest. Through a forest of colossal and befeathered hats I obtained occasional glimpses of the stage and the performers engaged in their self-appointed but depressing task -the hero, the usual Ibsenite idiot or travesty of a man, with a chronic but futile appetite for


rotic "she-animal,"-she, all for well-doing; his wife Rita, a neuthe "roses and raptures"; he, preferring the "lilies and languors,"


and the pantomime witch or critics, "a heavenly messenger," Rat-wife, who is, according to the and apparently symbolical of anything you please. hours those two poor unbalanced Two mortal creatures, the Allmers, spent in dismal psychologising and mutual torment and self- torture. acting was excellent, and it was such artists an intellectual treat to see three Campbell, Miss Robins, and Miss as Mrs Patrick Janet Achurch on the stage together. Everything that art can do was done to infuse life and reality into these doleful marionnettes, but the general impression the two Allmers made on my epileptics exercising in the hosmind was that of a couple of pital grounds. In particular,

Miss Achurch's scream end of the first Act, which has at the been much admired by connoisseurs in painful sensations, recalled vividly to my mind the screeching of a woman whom I once had the misfortune to see However, the audience, or rather fall down in an epileptic fit. some of the female portion of it, and sobs and tears occasionally seemed at times much affected, greeted such passages in the drama as were especially lugubrious. The males, I regret to say, were more disposed to chuckle irreverently, probably because the contemplation of nervous disorders and the whinings of sexual hysteria, and other forms of mental disease, less arouse the sympathy of the dull masculine mind. "Morbid trash," my nearest neighbour ejaculated as we emerged into the comparatively pure atmosphere of a London fog; while I went home and read


Max Nordau's chapter on Ibsen in 'Degeneration,' and felt better.

time went about wearing low-cut collars and a terrible scowl, denoting their views of the misery and hopelessness of life. These views were probably derived from verses like the following:"We wither from our youth, we gasp away

The author of this dismal and evil-smelling play is certainly one of the portents of the age. He voices better than any one else its morbid tendencies, and, although a man, he is distinctly the founder of the new so-called science of feminine psychology. That is to say, he above all others has directed the energies of the woman psychologist into the channels they now run in. To my humble way of thinking, these semi-insane weaklings and irresponsible neuropaths of the Ibsenite drama are neither admirable nor interesting. They are simply "sick" men and women; degenerates to be shunned, like any other manifestations of disease. And yet they serve as the pattern and type of characters in books and plays innumerable that have taken hold of the public mind. It would be interesting to know how far this literature is the cause, and how far simply the expression, of the morbid tendencies of which I have spoken. The shockingly improper young person in Miss Marie Corelli's 'Sorrows of Satan,' who would have flirted with the Devil if that more selfrespecting personage had permitted her, attributed her moral downfall to our modern literature of decadence. It was the "satyrsongster," Swinburne, and those wicked women novelists, who wrought all the mischief. Max Nordau thinks that the influence of polite literature on life is much greater than that of life on polite literature. He mentions several instances of fashions being set by books, the most remarkable one being the epidemic of suicide that broke out in Germany after the publication of 'The Sorrows of Young Werther.' Every one knows that the young men in Byron's

Sick, sick; unfound the boon, unslaked the thirst.

Though to the last in verge of our decay,

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This stanza contains as good psychology and as good philosophy as any Scandinavian drama, while there is something almost elevating in the swing and rhythm of the majestic verse compared with the commonplace and the banalités of Ibsen's "Ollendorffian" dialogue. No doubt the Byronic morbidity was all affectation, but so to a great extent is the psychology and morbid pessimism of these days. Marie Bashkirtseff was a walking affectation, a mere pose in petticoats, but she succeeded in making herself intensely miserable. And it seems certain that the same process of needless self-torture is at work in some women's minds now. It is difficult to explain on any other hypothesis their craving for the literature of hysteria or decadence -the doleful squalor of Ibsen, the mawkishness of the neurotic fiction writers, or that strange blend of "hoggishness and hysteria," to borrow a truculent critic's phrase, 'Jude the Obscure.' I know there are people who

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