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BOOKS AND BOOKMEN, Issue 15644, 7 November 1914
BOOKS AND BOOKMEN
The of the Dark Chamber.’ .By
No one had ever seen the King. Strangers declared that the country had no King. The loose-tnngued of his subjects babbled that he dared not show himself —he was too ugly. A popiniay, “so soft, so delicate, and exquisite, like a waxen doll,” paraded through the city while it kept the spring feast, and the populace shouted itself into the belief that he was indeed the King. But other kings, who had conic to the feast, knew him for an impostor; and one of them compelled his aid in a plot to burn the palace and carry off the Sudarshana. the Queen —Sudarsbana, who had never met her husband except in the dark chamber, and was not content, like Surangama, her companion, to know him by faith alone. She has seen the popinjay and loved him. And when the palace is on fire the King reveals himself to his Queen. “ Black, black,” she cries; “oh, tfiou art black like, the everlasting night," and she leaves him and returns to’her father's kingdom. Thither the other kings come in chase of her, and with them the popinjay, now shrivelled to his mean reality. There is a battle; the King of the Dark Chamber is victorious; and then his Queen, having risen above fear and even to faith, obeys the mysterious call which is his way of communicating himself. She takes" the open road to return. ® When I filing my dignity and pride to the winds and came nut on the common streets, then it seemed to me that he too had come out: I havo been finding him since the moment I was on the road. I have no misgivings now. And in the Dark Chamber the King and Queen meet once more. King; AVill you be able to boar me now Kudaishana; Oh, yes. yes, I shall. Your sight repelled me because I had sought to find you in the pleasure garden, in my Queen’s chambers; there even your meanest servant looks handsomer* than you. That fevor of longing has left my eyes for ever. You are not beautiful, my" lord—you stand beyond all comparisons'. King ; That which can be comparable with me lies within yourself. Sudarshana : If this bo so, (hen that 100 is beyond comparison. Your love lives in me—you are mirrored in that love, and you see your face reflected in me: nothing of this [is] mine, it is ail yours, 0 lord! King: I open the door of this dark room to-day—the game is finished here ! Come, come with me now, come outside —into tile light
“ In quietness and confidence shall he your strength " —it is a lesson which all groat spiritual natures have tried to impress upon the world. Mr Tagore, with his steady vision into the profound secrets of the spirit, tells us the same truth in new forms. What is Ids “ King of the Dark Chamber’ ‘‘meant for”? The point is that, with all his serene and lofty beauty of soul, where laughter and gaiety glimmer like sunlight on the ocean, Air Tagore folds us in an atmosphere of confidence and faith, strips from us all tension and petty effort (" when you are past tins state of feverish restlessness,” says Saraiigama to the Queen. " everything will become quite easy "), and leads us out of the Jiltlo aims and the conventional considerations to the simple doty of following the i all of hit we know to te the truth. Tho refreshment of coming into contact with a mind like Air Tagore's is a privilege. And even minds insensible to the spiritual import of the play must be the richer for the passages of beauty in it —the songs and talk of the gay obi grandfather with tile simple heart of a boy, or the. passionate sweetness of the_voiee of Snrangama, or tin l words of the King himself. Side by side with the close of the play, quoted above, we might put a portion of the first scene between the King and iSmlarshana i—.Sudarshana : Toll me, can you see me in the dark? King : Yes, I can. Sudarshana; What do you see? King : 1 see that the darkness of the infinite heavens, whirled into life and bcinig by the power of my line, has drawn the light of a myriad stars into itself, and incarnated itself in a form of flesh and blood. And in that form, wind, icons of thought and striving, untold yearnings of limitless skies, the countless gifts of unnumbered seasons! Sudarshana : Am I so wonderful, so beautiful? When t can hear you speak so. my heart swells with gladness and pride. But bow can I believe the wou- ' dorful things you tell me? I cannot find them in mvself!
Kinu ; Your own mirror will not reflect lliem-Art lessens you, limits you. makes you look small and insignificant. But ccnkl you see yourself mirrored in my own mind, how grand would you appear! In my' own heart you are no longer the daily individual which you think yon are—you are verily my .second self! The Times.’ ‘Early Rangitikci." By James fl. Milson. Loudon ; Whiteoinbe and Tombs. Tho sub-title to the above sets forth the purpose of the book. It reads as follows : “A few notes eolleeted from various sources of the seltlenumt on the Hangitikei River and of 'a number of Maoris of different tribes. A short his-
tory of the purchase and colonisation of the land between the Tnrakina and Oroua llivers, and an account of the various pioneers.” There are 27 chapters, 11 illustrations, and two maps, the whole being contained in 250 pages, clearly printed and strongly bound. *The author In his preface says all that need bo said of this most interesting story of some of the men and women who made this New Zealand of onra possible. Our admiration and respect for these worthy pioneers is, wc trust, one of our most stronglv developed traits. Mr Wilson savs T It has hoen truly said that the carlv settlers require no memorial, for ‘if we fbok around wc see their monuments.’ Unfortunately the later day colonist docs not ‘ look around,’ he is too much occupied in the rush of life or sport to think of those who braved nil, and left those dear to them to come and found our Dominion. They were our true Empire builders. Many have supplied records of their work elsewhere, but although Rangitikei is one of tho .oldest settlements, no record is in existence of the early settlers who made it. It is to record something of their personality, work, and life- that I have gathered a few farts about them, and although very
meagre, and unsatisfying. I determined to publish them, so that their part should not be forgotten. They lived the truly simple life, with little money and indifferent markets; no means of transit except by bullock, dray, or boat; po roads, save -Maori tracks or along river, beds; living in Maori-built whares : yet they had stout hearts, and no doubt they dreamt dreams of the future oF their country."
‘ 111 lII'IT YEARS’ ANGLO-FRENCH REMINISCENCES’ (1876-1906), BY SIR TJIOMAS BARCLAY. [By Tic,he lloi'kixs.j More even than the late King Edward is Sir Thomas Barclay the author of the Entente Cordiale. At some time it might possibly have been effected without him, but without him it would not have been effected in tin? early years of the 20th century. A man of peace always, ho had long been working towards this happy end. From 1876 to 1909 he was a resident in Paris, and no one has even better understood the French mind in its various attitudes towards our own country. “ I have seen the Republic grow up,” he says—“ the effects of the war of 1870 evolve into distrust. jealousy, and hatred of England ; France ally herself with England's declared foo; even the two enemies of 1,870 draw closer in their common opposition to their island neighbor; then, the reversal of this insensate Anglo-French hostility, due to a movement which stirred tho live subsoil of modem democracy; then, again, underhand scheming which gave reaction its chance, and anti-German movements started both in England and France, which, after a fitful success in some parts of England, and absolute failure in others, have nearly died out on this side of the Channel.” —Sowing the fm’cls.—
Before Lord Salisbury or any other important personage had a real belief in the idea, or the possibility of translating it into fact, Sir Thomas Barclay perceived that happier relations between France and England were no longer out of the question. This was in 1899. In that year, as chairman of tho British Chamber of Commerce in Paris, he was present at the Belfast mooting of the Association of Ch.rmIwm of Commerce of the United Kingdom. He boldly invited the association to hold its autumn session the following year in Paris, Lord Avebury, the president, ■‘much concerned about the anti-English feeling in France.” doubted the wisdom of pressing the invitation. Lord. Salisbury sent a cipher telegram to the Ambassador in Paris “to inquire what he thought of the proposal.” Sir Edward Monson. “ though unencmiraging, was not averse.” Down to tho very day when Sir Thomas Barclay’s formal* invitation _ was on the agenda it was viewed with distrust, Then he made one of his happiest with an apt reference to the Prince of Wales s part in tho great Exhibition : " It was an immense satisfaction to the French to see our future Sovereign at the head of, tho British section of' the Exhibition. No man. not even any Frenchman, is mote popular in France than the Prince of Wales, and it there is any man in the world who has it in his power by » word to make the whole French nation kind, it is His Royal Highness.” —“Carried Unanimously!"—
Tne vote to accept the invitation “ was carried, amid great applause, unanimously.'' That a purely British, institution should go to a foreign country to discuss purely British questions was in itself a touch anomalous; but all who ueie concerned in the matter seemed to feel that considerations of form or precedent wore of small account when set against the enormous importance of getting France and Kngland on cordiaj terms. And Kir Thomas’* Ruviuwtion being thus unanimously accepted, Paris he\tu to be foithvrith in kintllv and liopitabu*- humor. .Lite visit of the ‘.Associated Chambers was a success through and through: “Every F/ench authority, from the President of the Republic to'the gendarmes at the exhibition. co-operated in this patriotic work. The State theatres were thrown open to the visitors% the Paris .Chamhei of Commerce gave a brilliant reception. All the French domestic and colonial authorities offered special entertainments, down to granting the hospitality of the Trocai’ero itself for the meetings. This was in 1900. the exhibition year. The Boer War. of course, threw us back, but it is of interest to remember that our reverses in that campaign did a little to modify the feeling of the French agamst us. ‘“The English arc an. example t-n----us,” wrote M. Comely in the ‘Figam.’ Queen Victoria died, and “the of the whole British Empire for our giv.it Queen struck a sympathetic, choid in the generous nature of the French. That all the political, commercial, industrial life of an Empire should stand still even for a few- hours to express, as it did. the feelings of hundreds of millions of her subjects at the loss of their Sovereign produced a profound impression in France.’ - The moment was propitious, ami Sir Tlioinii' Barclay was not the. man to neglect the omen's. He began his famous propaganda for a general Treaty of Conciliation between the United Kingdom and Franco; ” .My life for the next two vears was one of wild activity-a liie nt sleeping in trains, speaking sometimes several times a day. sometimes twice in one evening. I invented (oil, Motner Necessity 1) a quick-change shirt, a quvkchange ‘ dicliie.’ a quick-change tic, a travelling bag adapted lo my requirements.”
—A Kingly Stroke.— In 1903 King Edward paid the visit to I'aiis that is in a, manner historic. Consciously rather than unconsciously His .Majesty was thus co-operating with .Sir Thomas Barclay. It was the last stroke needed for the accomplishment of tho Entente. The accredited advisers of tho Crown gavo a reluctant conse.it, or perhaps gave no consent at all. Sir Thomas hints that King Edward took the decision into his own hands. To visit the Exhibition as Prince of Whies, president of the British section, was a different affair front the visit to Paris of a King of England; hut King Edward knew well what he was doing, and when his resolve to go to Paris was announced in the spring of 1903 “the support given to tho movement was overwhelming.” It. was the seal upon tho Entente Cordiale. In October of the same year the Treaty of Arbitration between (treat Britain and Franco was signed; the first stop in ;v new period of the history of Anglo-French understandings. This Treaty “is one of the three greatest events in tho histoty of arbitration. The first was the Alabama case, in which two great countries submitted a question which had aroused the war spit it to a white* heat to tho decision of a conn composed mainlv of foreigners, and in which for tho first'time the methods of domestic judicature were applied to arbitration. The second was the creation of the Hague Court, and the third was the AngloFrench Treatv agreeing to .submit to it all difficulties of a judicial character. These three events stand in the direct line of descent one from the other as the three landmarks in the road of pi ogress towards the goal of justice among nations.” The third of these events is chiefly the triumph of Sir Thomas Bat clay, who has thus, with a modesty unsurpassed and rarely equalled, written himself into British history.
BOOKS AND BOOKMEN, Issue 15644, 7 November 1914
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