“And do you observe, where those trees slope down the hill, (indicating

them with a sweep of the hand, and with all the patronising air of the

man who has himself arranged the landscape), “how the mists rising from

the river fill up exactly those intervals where we need indistinctness,

for artistic effect? Here, in the foreground, a few clear touches are

not amiss: but a back-ground without mist, you know! It is simply

barbarous! Yes, we need indistinctness!”

The orator looked so pointedly at me as he uttered these words, that I

felt bound to reply, by murmuring something to the effect that I hardly

felt the need myself–and that I enjoyed looking at a thing, better,

when I could see it.

“Quite so!” the great man sharply took me up. “From your point of

view, that is correctly put. But for anyone who has a soul for Art,

such a view is preposterous. Nature is one thing. Art is another.

Nature shows us the world as it is. But Art–as a Latin author tells

us–Art, you know the words have escaped my memory “Ars est celare

Naturam,” Arthur interposed with a delightful promptitude.

“Quite so!” the orator replied with an air of relief. “I thank you!

Ars est celare Naturam but that isn’t it.” And, for a few peaceful

moments, the orator brooded, frowningly, over the quotation. The

welcome opportunity was seized, and another voice struck into the


“What a lovely old ruin it is!” cried a young lady in spectacles,

the very embodiment of the March of Mind, looking at Lady Muriel, as the

proper recipient of all really original remarks. “And don’t you admire

those autumn-tints on the trees? I do, intensely!”

Lady Muriel shot a meaning glance at me; but replied with admirable

gravity. “Oh yes indeed, indeed! So true!”

“And isn’t strange, said the young lady, passing with startling

suddenness from Sentiment to Science, “that the mere impact of certain

coloured rays upon the Retina should give us such exquisite pleasure?”

“You have studied Physiology, then?” a certain young Doctor courteously


“Oh, yes! Isn’t it a sweet Science?”

Arthur slightly smiled. “It seems a paradox, does it not,” he went on,

“that the image formed on the Retina should be inverted?”

“It is puzzling,” she candidly admitted. “Why is it we do not see

things upside-down?”

“You have never heard the Theory, then, that the Brain also is


“No indeed! What a beautiful fact! But how is it proved?”

“Thus,” replied Arthur, with all the gravity of ten Professors rolled

into one. “What we call the vertex of the Brain is really its base:

and what we call its base is really its vertex: it is simply a question

of nomenclature.”

This last polysyllable settled the matter.

“How truly delightful!” the fair Scientist exclaimed with enthusiasm.

“I shall ask our Physiological Lecturer why he never gave us that

exquisite Theory!”

“I’d give something to be present when the question is asked!” Arthur

whispered to me, as, at a signal from Lady Muriel, we moved on to where

the hampers had been collected, and devoted ourselves to the more

substantial business of the day.

We ‘waited’ on ourselves, as the modern barbarism (combining two good

things in such a way as to secure the discomforts of both and

the advantages of neither) of having a picnic with servants to wait

upon you, had not yet reached this out-of-the-way region–and of course

the gentlemen did not even take their places until the ladies had been

duly provided with all imaginable creature-comforts. Then I supplied

myself with a plate of something solid and a glass of something fluid,

and found a place next to Lady Muriel.

It had been left vacant–apparently for Arthur, as a distinguished

stranger: but he had turned shy, and had placed himself next to the

young lady in spectacles, whose high rasping voice had already cast

loose upon Society such ominous phrases as “Man is a bundle of

Qualities!”, “the Objective is only attainable through the Subjective!”.

Arthur was bearing it bravely: but several faces wore a look of alarm,

and I thought it high time to start some less metaphysical topic.

Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92

Categories: Carroll, Lewis