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      There was not much traffic. Only here and there stood some German soldiers, or seriously wounded men were lying on mattresses and chairs. Nearly every house by the roadside had been turned into an emergency hospital, for from all sides they brought in soldiers wounded by shells that had exploded amidst the advancing divisions.Paris without the wide streets of enormous houses, the broad, shady boulevards, the magnificent shops and crowded pavements, the glare and wealth and luxury of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; Paris of old France, of the Monarchy, with its ancient towers and buildings, its great h?tels and convents with vast gardens above whose high walls rose stately trees; its narrow, crooked, ill-paved [34] streets, mostly unsafe to walk in after dusk, through which troops of cavalry clattered in gay uniforms, scattering the foot-passengers right and left, and magnificent coaches drawn by four, six, or eight horses lumbered heavily along.

      The Poetics of Aristotle contains some hints on the subject of composition which entitle it to be mentioned in the present connexion. The deficiencies, even from a purely theoretical point of view, of this work, once pronounced infallible, have at last become so obvious that elaborate hypotheses have been constructed, according to which the recension handed down to us is a mere mutilated extract from the original treatise. Enough, however, remains to convince us that poetry was not, any more than eloquence, a subject with which Aristotle was fitted to cope. He begins by defining it, in common with all other art, as an imitation. Here, we at once recognise the spirit of a philosophy, the whole power and interest of which lay in knowledge; and, in fact, he tells us that the love of art is derived from the love of knowledge. But the truth seems to be that aesthetic enjoyment is due to an ideal exercise of our faculties, among which the power of perceiving identities is sometimes, though not always, included. That the materials of which every artistic creation is composed are taken from the world of our experience makes no difference; for it is by the new forms in which they are arranged that we are interested, not because we remember having met them in301 some natural combination already. Aristotle could not help seeing that this was true in the case of music at least; and he can only save his principle by treating musical effects as representations of passions in the soul. To say, however, that musical pleasure arises from a perception of resemblance between certain sounds and the emotions with which they are associated, would be an extremely forced interpretation; the pleasure is due rather to a sympathetic participation in the emotion itself. And when Aristotle goes on to tell us that the characters imitated in epic and dramatic poetry may be either better or worse than in ordinary life, he is obviously admitting other aesthetic motives not accounted for by his general theory. If, on the other hand, we start with ideal energising as the secret of aesthetic emotion, we can easily understand how an imaginary exaltation of our faculties is yielded by the spectacle of something either rising above, or falling below, the level on which we stand. In the one case we become momentarily invested with the strength put into action before our eyes; in the other, the consciousness of our own superiority amounts to a fund of reserve power, which not being put into action, is entirely available for ideal enjoyment. And, if this be the correct view, it will follow that Aristotle was quite wrong when he declared the plot to be more important than the characters of a drama. The reason given for his preference is, even on the principles of his own philosophy, a bad one. He says that there can be plot without character-drawing, but never character-drawing without plot. Yet he has taught us elsewhere that the human soul is of more value than the physical organism on which its existence depends. This very parallel suggests itself to him in his Poetics; but, by an almost inconceivable misjudgment, it is the plot which he likens to the soul of the piece, whereas in truth it should be compared to the body. The practice and preference of his own time may have helped to mislead him, for he argues (rather inconsistently, by the way) that plot302 must be more indispensable, as young writers are able to construct good stories before they are able to portray character; and more artistic, as it was developed much later in the historical evolution of tragedy. Fortunately for us, the Alexandrian critics were guided by other canons of taste, or the structurally faulty pieces of Aeschylus might have been neglected, and the ingeniously constructed pieces of Agathon preserved in their place.Mesdames de France were in many respects excellent women: religious, charitable to the poor, strict in their duties. The three elder ones had stayed by their father in his fatal illness, by which Adla?de and Sophie had caught the small-pox. Louise was a saintly person; and all of them were devoted to their family and friends. But they were narrow-minded, obstinate, and prejudiced to an extraordinary degree, and they allowed their hatred of the house of Austria to include their niece, the young Queen; their unjust animosity against whom was the cause of incalculable mischief.

      "The Russians advanced fifty miles into East Prussia."

      The sun had just set, a violet haze was rising and enwrapping every object. Fires were being lighted in the villages on the road to the holy place. Tom-toms were rattling in the distance,[Pg 115] and nearer at hand a vina, gently touched by an invisible player, murmured a tune on three notes."At six o'clock a captain separated the men from the women and children. The women were placed behind a line of infantry. The men had to stand alongside a wall; those in the first row were ordered to sit on their haunches, the others to remain standing behind them. A platoon took a stand straight opposite the group. The women prayed in vain for mercy for their husbands, their sons, and their brothers; the officer gave the order to fire. He had not made the slightest investigation, pronounced no sentence of any sort.

      Three musicians in white, with red turbans, squatted down on the ground in front of us. One sang to the accompaniment of a viol with three strings and nine frets, and a darboukha; a drawling strain, all on the upper notes, and rising higher to a shrill monotonous wail, retarded, as it were, to a rhythm against the accompaniment; then by degrees more lively, faster and faster, ending with a sudden stop on a word of guttural consonants. But the man began again; he sang for a long time, varying the tunes, always returning to the first. But nothing of them remains in my mind, not even the rhythm, only a vague recollection, a singular echo, confused but [Pg 67]charming, in spite of the weirdness of the too high pitch.

      Some native lancers were man?uvring; they charged at top speed in a swirl of golden dust, which transfigured their movements, making them look as though they did not touch the earth, but were riding on the clouds. They swept lightly past, almost diaphanous, the colour of their yellow khaki uniforms mingling with the ochre sand; and then, not ten yards off, they stopped short, with astonishing precision, like an apparition. Their lances quivered for an instant, a flash of steel sparks against the skya salute to the Maharajahand then they were as motionless as statues.