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BOOKS AND BOOKMEN, Issue 15702, 16 January 1915
BOOKS AND BOOKMEN
’lncredible Adventures.’ By Algernon Blackwood, London : Macmillan and Co.
Air Blackwood would deserve high place among modern writers of fiction if only for Ms mastery of words, illustrated in 'his remarkably clear and vivid style, and his unusual 'instinct for appropriate ornamentation. Rut it is in his handling .if a bizarre and rather outre subject that he hao really carved a niche for himself in modem fiction. Mr Blackwood sets cutin this new series of tales, a-s in his earlier ‘John Silence/ to depict- those abnormal states of consciousness in which sometimes, the mind seems to have ai; intuitive comprehension of things lying close behind the veil that seemingly lias been interposed intentionally between visible phenomena and their meaning. Lonscioaeneas, Mr Blackwood teaches in these five tales, is a thing fluid in its nature and constantly dissolving, and, in certain states, sometimes of extreme passivity, but sometimes, too, of extreme activity, the mind gets back, in a dim nebulous way, to the dark gull of the putt Perhaps the most significant and most brilliant of the five talcs is ‘ The Damned,’ in which a woman of weak and receptive nature is driven to the verge of madness by an inexplicable horror of the bouse in which she lives—a house' which, as the sequel shows, is saturated by an appalling stream of damnable thinking—the legacy of cruelty and terror left behind by a -scries of previous occupants. The book is emphatically not one to be merely skimmed. But if it exacts, it also merits, careful reading.
THE TWENTIETH CENTURY ALVA. HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF IN BELGIUM. ‘ Prince and Heretic.' Miss Marjorie Bowers's new story, reads .strangely fain; liar in London to-day, for though it deals with events of over 300 years ago, across the Channel the store _is now being reenacted again with all its horrors, cm the tame historic ground. For the 1 Prince and Heretic’ ia William, of Orange. Substitute for his name tki* name of the King al the Belgians; for Philip the Inquisitor substitute to-day’s William of Germany : ?.nd for Alva's army the German army, and ;. taro in. this, story a realistic picture
fit ttie desolation of the Netherlands today. Many of Miss Bowen's very phrates and paragraphs are exactly photographic :>f what has happened in Belgium, and as
.me reads one marvels that the same country- should be thus twice crucified in sishort a tile of years. History made a mistake in repeating herself this lime. The glowing and moving story which Miss Bowen has to lei! is of the (Netherlands «hen they rase against the tyranny of Philip of Spain, whose Sister Margaret of Burma. ruled them. 15u! as did not “hack through” witn too Inquisition at the rate required by her brother, lie sent tc speed the task that apostle of spiritual onlighteitmsnt and early disciple of the “ will to power,” Alva the terrible. Against him we have the tine personality of William of (Nassau, Prince of Orange, dr .tilled to Ire the soul of the suttees*till rising which overthrow the tyranny of Spain. —"William of Orange.— "William of Orong-e was “a person of unusual riches, power, and position, one of the first cavaliers of the age, an extremely popular noble, and a man already in his first youth distinguished as, a soldier and governor.” “As Prime' of Orange lie was a Sovereign. ruler, owing allegiance to no one; (his other titles were perhaps more numerous than ihoso any other noble in Europe could boast. ” His graceful, youthful figure, his small handsome head, his rich attire of ■ bia-ck velvet—all gave Itini tho appearance of the neck-ss grandee- many believed him to be. But Cardinal Grave lie was not 80 deceived ; its knew that- the young cavalier smiling at him was as astute, as -experienced, as able, as wise, as prudent as himself, arid that- he was the- most dangerous of the many dangerous men in the (Netherlands. For 15 years he Lad been spending money like water to maintain a life and a. magnificence such os many emperors had not attained; his houses, his horses, his falcons, his kitchens, his entertainments were tho most splendid in tho land and famous in Europe; and even his enormous income had felt tho strain of such lavishnoss. “I am,” he explained, “ Stadthokler of some Netherlaud provinces and one- of the advisers of tho (Regent, therefore I think I do well to protest against measures which 1 foresee bringing rum on His Majesty's domains, and 1 do not believe in punishing people for their private faith.” “To do what you are doing,” said William to the Cardinal, “is to ruin the Netherlands. The civil officers will tan obey, the population, will not submit, yon will break commerce and industry—you will provoke a revolution."’ —(Death "Warrants of a Nation.—
Hut nothing could withstand Philip’* decision to break the Netherlands. And so the day cams when the decrees of the Council of Trent and all edicts against heretics were enforced in the Netherlands witn lull vigor, and the Inquisition was given full power and’authority. Instruction:.: were given “ which were practically tho death warrants of a whole nation.” “Now we shall see the beginning of the most terrible tragedy the world has known,” said William of Orange. “So Philip will cut the Netherlandors to the measure of tho Pope’s yardstick?" "The (Netherlands will never take the Inquisition. They will never give up heresy. It they are forced they will be mad-
dened into a revolt.” _ “ The' liberties of tho Netherlands were pigned and sealed in laws and charters ; but what could parchment and ink avail ijgainat the temporal -power of & Philip? The heretics might bo courageous and unyielding, but what were they compared to the spiritual power of tho Pope, supported by pH Princes of Europe?” —'“ You Could Do do Much."’—
_ As the story proceeds we sea how "William of Orange came to realise that it was appointed unto him to lead the defiance against Philip and Alva. “Oh, you could do so much—you could do it all 1” said one who loved him from afar. “I have dreamt it, others have thought it. You, you might be, tho man! Y'ou might redeem us from slavery, from tyranny, from misery unutterable. You are he who might defv Philip.” “ Y’oirr first lovalty is to the statute* of thia land which Philip rends and spurns, and your first obligation i.s the freedom and liberty of the land you help to govern.”
Then there came a- day u’neu " the splendid young noble hud become the* grave man of affairs. Still not much over 50 and endowed "with a wai m and joyous temperament, used to wealth and power, pleasura and luxury, he found himself able to take up a position in which all these things must be forgotten.”
“Of lata he hail sickened against the show and pretensions, the cruelty and bigotry, the avarice and falseness shown by the professors of the ancient faith, and bad turned naturally to the sterner, simpler creed that was: struggling hard for existence.” And when the critical moment came he cried out i “Is William of Orange to await the orders of the Duke of Alva"’ To be the servant of the Inquisition?” —My Policy to Prevent It.— When they told him ho mocked at loyalty, and'that his property would be confiscated if he left the Netherlands, he replied:
If I stay I shall lose mom |i';ui my estates. 1 will sooner encounftF all that may happen from this my action than sacrifice my conscience by the taking of this oath. For the true service of tim King 1
am always ready, but to Alva, Granville, and the Inquisition, call me rebel if you will. lor. I do protest against them and their authority and all attempts to force the faith of these people, which attempts are in defiance of laws and privileges, and. wholly against God.
Thp design k to utterly subjugate the provinces, re-establish the. Inquisition, exterminate all heretics, and make the Netherlands subject appanages of the Spanish Grown—that is Philip’s policy. Aline (added William with a certain passion) will be to prevent it. To exhaust Alva’s resources is but a question of time. We sliall not hesitate nor turn hack, nor lay down our arms until these provinces‘of His Majesty bo released from the desolation of the Spaniards and the abomination of the Inquisition, or till death free us from our task. Those last words strangply resemble those recently spoken by Mr Asquith on a recent and memorable occasion in Ixmdoii. —Alva Appointed.— William addressed a letter of remonstrance and protest to the governing Duchess, plainly avowing his views, pointing te the state of the land, and condemning the policy of the King. Margaret, in despair. wrote to Philip, putting all these things before him, and beseeching, him to reconsider the decision with regard to the I nquisit ion. Philip did not answer, and William of Orange, who .did not lack spies in Madrid. knew why. The King was preparing the levies with which Alva was t-o try his hand at bringing the rebellious Netherlands to subjection. Philip, intent on gathering together Alva's army, kept his sister in an agony of suspense, and neither let- her know that her successor was already preparing to take her place nor that he had finally deckled to crush the Netherlands under the weight of the secular sword since the authority of the Inquisition had failed.
So Philip, the king of half the world, condemned to death tho Netherlands, and Alva was her executioner; and when he set- out for Brussels ho had the finest army in. Europe at his back! At his corning crowds of refugees and fugitives threw themselves on the protection of Orange, for Alva's name was beginning to sound over the provinces like the sound of a, curse." and ■‘hit: shadow was flung back before him' like the shadow of death." Netherlands a Shambles.fiomc vivid glimpses ate given which tell what the Inquisition, meant for the Netherlands. “ 1 am safe," said one brave little Lutheran. “ but others better than ,1 die every day—are possibly burned alive or tortured U> death. The Nether-,-f-re ii. ; lYt+n smoke of human sacrifice fouls the air, and it will be worse.'” “I, too, am <>uc of those doomed people," rejoined Gaunt Louis, the. brother of William. “ f am one of tiuiSß whom the Church and Philip have, thrice cursed, thrico damned ; and every poor artisan whose flesh smokes above, the market place, and every wandering preacher who is tortured to death, is my brotb-w in God. We may tourney, and dunce, and feast, but ■ the nation is. bleeding to death from a thousand
wounds."' in the mind of every other man ami woman in the Netherlands was the thought hi the fires in the market place, of the daily hideous executions, of tho cries of agony and despair, bereavement, and madness rising from every town and from every village; of the exiles fleeing to England, carrying with them their skill, their knowledge, which was the wealth of the nation; of broken fields and unsown harvests • of children starving and lamenting in. tho streets. Field preachings and camp meetings had spread with irresistible force- ail over the- country—tho answer of the 1 tore tics to the decree of the Council of 'Trent. .Sometimes they met in barns or houses, but more often in the open fields outside the city walls, whet a preaching was forbidden. They were in Tim®ed.s, in thousands, so that sometimes the city would be- empty, and the hymns of Clement Marot would rise as fearlessly as if there were no (Inquisition waiting for them with faggot and chain, sword and axe. —"What tho Inquisition (Did.— Tho Inquisition in tho Netherlands was answered by a cry of passionate wrath and hate, and bitter despair and agony, intense enough to have readied Philip in the cells of the- Eueuriol.
Foreign merchant!! ;md workers lied, boast's of business were shut up, shops dosed, and banks ruined; commerce—nay, the ordinary business of life—was almost suspended ; while districts emigrated, abandoning their work and their property. In a short time famine threatened, riots broke out. and the daily barbarous executions were the scenes of frantic race 0,1 the part of the. maddened popiuation. which the officers of the Crown sometimes found it difficult or impossible to repress. Tito price of grain rose- to hitherto un-heard-of figures, for the ground was untitled, the harvests unsown;, all business with foreign lands was at a standstill, for no stranger -would venture into a country which lay under such a ban, nor trust their goods to a Dutch port. The great, busy cities, formerly some of the finest and busiest in the world, were silent, deserted, and desolate under the monstrous tyranny which had overwhelmed them. So came tho firststormy months of the- year 1565. Antwerp then, as now. was the victim of this Campaign of Hell, and the infuriated people wreaked their vengeanceon those symbols of their tyrants—the churches of the city. All Antwerp seemed within the church. Through the open doors of the sacristy he had a glimpse of frightened priests and treasurers with gold and jewels in their hands, then they cast down their precious objects and fled. An ominous lull, a deadly silence reigned over tho crowd, then with sudden fierceness there rose the passionate rhythm of a Protestant psalm breaking harshly on tho air, that still seemed full of the ehantings of the priests and full of echoes of Latin prayers. The fig urns on tho tombs were beaten out of all likeness to humanity, tte banners were torn down ami slit to shreds, knives and spears were drven into .Mosaics ami wall paintings, fragments of alabaster were hurled through the gorgeous glass windows. The inspiration. the labor, the riches of 40C years were in a few hours destroyed ... by those who saw nothing in tv hat they destroyed but tho symbols of a monstrous tyranny and the pageantry that disguised ail cruelty and wickedness. But Miss Bowen's present book does not tell all that happened when Al/u went to the Netherlands to “avenge the insolence of the heretics." In another and succeeding volume she intends to tell tiro dnauatic sequel of how tho tree Netherlands in 1584 renounced for ever their allegiance to Philip and ended the rule of Spain. Three hundred and thirty years pass, and to-day the Netherlands (or that part of it which is Belgium), which refused Philip the inquisitor, is asked to accept William tho Pagan Protestant. Is it worth while? History has repeated itself only too completely in the devastation of Belgium. So must it repeat itself in ousting this later tyrant from its soil.— ' Public Opinion.’ FROM MR WELLS’S NEW STORY. These sentences arc from .Mr 11, G, Weil s's new story, 'The Wife of Sir Isaac Harman,’ which was reviewed in this column last week: Lady Beach-Mandarin, expansive, moves over the lawn “ with very much of the effect of a fleet of captive balloons dragging their anchors." Miss Sharsper is " a real live novelist pocking observations out of life as a hen pecks seeds amidst scenery.” Sir Isaac "was a little noisy with his soup, as became a man who controls honest indignation.”
BOOKS AND BOOKMEN, Issue 15702, 16 January 1915
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