S. N. Behrman
The New Yorker
 February 20, 1960: 50-98

In December of 1926, I made my first journey to England, in the company of two older friends—Crosby Gaige, a prominent New York theatrical producer with bookish tastes, and his wife, Hilda, who fiercely admired the distinguished actor Sir Gerald du Maurier. Mrs. Gaige knew when we sailed, on the Majestic, that Sir Gerald was closing in Frederick Lonsdale's "The Last of Mrs. Cheyney" at St. James's Theatre on the Saturday the ship was due to dock at Southampton. From the boat, she radioed to London, asking for seats for the final performance. The boat train reached London late in the afternoon; the Gaiges scarcely had time to register in their hotel and I in mine before we all met to gulp a hasty dinner and take a taxi to the theatre. After the performance, we went back to see Sir Gerald. It used to be said of Sir Gerald that he did not so much act as behave on the stage; he performed with an air of absentmindedness, as if he were thinking all the time of other, and more agreeable, things than the ones he was professionally concerned with at the moment—of tooled-leather bindings, perhaps, or a lovely still-life, or maybe just of what would be waiting for him for supper when he got back, with relief, to Cannon Hall, where he lived. His dressing room was a suite, and his dresser offered us a drink in the salon while we waited for Sir Gerald to appear. Actually, I remember the period of waiting more vividly than the meeting itself, because I became engrossed in a series of six caricatures by Max Beerbohm that were hanging on one wall. The caricatures themselves, entitled "Long Choosing and Beginning Late," were arresting, and the story they told in the legends—in Max's calligraphic handwriting—was even sensational. How sensational I did not know till many years later. They told a singular love story, projected into an era following a Bolshevik revolution in England in 1972. Max imagines Edward Windsor, then the Prince of Wales, as an old gentleman failing in love with and eventually marrying—against the stern opposition of the bride's parents—the daughter of a boarding-house keeper, named Flossie Pearson. In one of the caricatures, Flossie's father is shown taking a very poor view of the match; he had hoped for better for Flossie. Mrs. Pearson tries to cheer him up, but without much success. Love conquers all. While Mrs. Gaige was staring in trancelike suspension at the door through which Sir Gerald was to emerge, I started copying on a pad the legend Max had written under the final caricature, commemorating the ceremony at which the Prince and Flossie were united.

But before I could get going on Max's forecast of how the London Times would comment on this improbable marriage, Sir Gerald came in. He had a quick eye, and he saw what I was doing; I was embarrassed, as if I had been caught reading one of his letters. Sir Gerald responded with murmured appreciation when he was told that we had rushed from the docks at Southampton to his final performance. In the lacquered conversation that ensued, I managed to insert a query about Max's caricatures. "Oh, amusing, aren't they?" said Sir Gerald absent-mindedly. "I bought them in the Leicester Galleries, where they first were seen, in 1923. Kicked up quite a storm, you know." I wanted to inquire about the nature of the storm, but Mrs. Gaige was imploring Sir Gerald to come to America and telling him what a reception he would find there. Sir Gerald managed to convey simultaneously the impression that there was nothing in the world he would rather do and the impression that there was nothing in the world he was less likely to do.

I kept looking at the caricatures. "Do you know Max Beerbohm?" I asked Sir Gerald.

"Oh, rather," he said. "Forever."

By this time, other people had begun to stream in, and we got up to go.

In the summer of 1929, I was in London again, and again at St. James's Theatre. The Lunts were playing in an adaptation of a Central European comedy called "Caprice." Mrs. Lunt had Sir Gerald's dressing room, and I had the hope, when I went back to see her after the performance, that I would be able to get another look at Max's caricatures. There they were! Sir Gerald had left his dressing room intact, against his next engagement. I was far more at ease with Miss Fontanne than I had been with him, and I sat down before "Long Choosing and Beginning Late" to read and copy what the London Times would one day have to say about the wedding of Edward Windsor and Flossie Pearson:

An interesting wedding was quietly celebrated yesterday at the Ealing Registry Office, when Mr. Edward Windsor was united to Miss Flossie Pearson. The bridegroom, as many of our elder readers will recall, was one time well-known as "heir-apparent" of the late "King" George. He has for some years been residing at "Balmoral," 85, Acacia Terrace, Lenin Avenue, Ealing; and his bride is the only daughter of his landlady. Immediately after the ceremony the happy pair travelled to Ramsgate, where the honeymoon will be spent. Interviewed later in the day by a Times man, the aged mother-in-law confessed that she had all along been opposed to the union, because of the disparity between the ages of the two parties—the bride being still on the sunny side of forty. "I had always," she said, "hoped that my Flossie was destined to make a brilliant match." Now that the knot was tied, however, the old lady was evidently resigned to the fait accompli. "I believe," she said, "that Mr. Windsor will make a good husband for my girl, for I must say that a nicer, quieter gentleman, or a more pleasant-spoken, never lodged under my roof."

Five years later, I was once more in London. Sir Gerald had just died, and I was eager to find out what had become of those caricatures. I sought out Sir William Rothenstein. I knew that Sir William was one of Max's closest friends. In "Enoch Soames," Max describes Rothenstein's irruption into Oxford when he himself was still an undergraduate, at Merton. "He was Paris in Oxford," Max says, in rapturous recollection. Sir William was a small, mercurial man—though not quite as small as Max liked to draw him. It was on this 1934 visit to London that I bought from Sir William a lovely pastel of Max standing on the terrace outside his workroom in Rapallo, not working. (I have had it hanging in all my own workrooms ever since.) Before that, however, Sir William invited me to the Athenaeum Club for lunch. There I told my host about having seen in Sir Gerald's dressing room Max's caricatures of the Prince of Wales and Flossie Pearson, and asked him if he knew what had become of them. Sir William, with an I-could-an-if-I-would air that was very tantalizing, slid off into some private grievance.

"Are the caricatures in private hands?" I inquired. "Did Sir Gerald sell them?"

"I believe he did," Sir William said. "Yes, I believe they are in private hands. In any case, they are inaccessible."

"What about the storm over them when they were first exhibited?" I asked.

At this, Sir William's eyes lit up; where there was a storm, he was in his element. "Oh, terrific!" he said. "Max had to withdraw them. Du Maurier was lucky to have bought them in time. Max was accused of all sorts of things in the press. We've laughed and laughed over it together since."

By this time, my host was in such a jolly mood that I ventured to threaten him. "If you won't tell me where those caricatures are," I said, "I will write to Beerbohm myself to ask him."

Rothenstein made, for him, a large gesture. "Of course you may write to him," he said. "He won't answer. Max never answers letters."

If I could not force Sir William to tell me where the caricatures were, I could at least, I thought, repair to the British Museum to calibrate the storm, and this I did. It had indeed been considerable. The caricatures whose final legend I had copied in Sir Gerald's dressing room in 1926 came in for a hurricane of fury when they were shown in the Leicester Galleries in 1923. Hannen Swaffer, a drama critic but not a humorist, headed a diatribe in the Daily Graphic "The End of Max Beerbohm," a prophecy that Max deflated by not ending. There were, elsewhere, suggestions that Mr. Beerbohm "was either a stealthy Bolshevist or a shameless bounder." In the same exhibition, Max had included a caricature of Edward Windsor's late grandfather, revealing him in Heaven, an overfed, haloed angel strumming a lyre. "Dastardly attack on Royalty," "teutonically brutal," "infamous bad taste," and, conversely, "an offence to good taste" were some of the tempestuous words flung at Max. Max, I learned, withdrew the royal caricatures. "It seemed," he said in a letter he wrote to the Leicester Galleries, "that they were likely to be misunderstood by the general public and to worry it." The last thing Max wanted to do was to worry anybody.

I did not carry out my threat to write to Beerbohm himself to find out what had happened to the Windsor caricatures. In fact, twenty years passed and Sir William was nine years dead before I found out. In the summer of 1954, two years after Max and I became friends and two years before he died, I was in Rapallo on one of many visits I paid him. I was staying at the Excelsior Hotel, and, since Max was eighty-two and not inclined to receive callers in the evening, I usually spent the hours between four and six in the afternoon with him. One hot August night, some American friends who were staying in nearby Portofino invited me to join them for dinner there, and I accepted. I summoned Charlie, the local chauffeur who drove for me in Rapallo, to take me to Portofino. On the way, Charlie told me that I was lucky I was going there, because the Duke and Duchess of Windsor were aboard a yacht in the bay; if my luck held, he said, I might catch a glimpse of them, for they came ashore every night to dine. My luck did hold. After dinner that night, my friends and I walked to the esplanade, curving like a horseshoe around the little bay, and sat on the terrace of a café having drinks. Presently, Charlie's wish for me was realized. The Duchess and her hostess were striding purposefully along the quay. The hostess, a round little woman, was very bouncy, and the Duchess, walking beside her, was equally brisk. Following them, at some distance, was the Duke, alone and walking wearily. He carried his jacket strung across his sagging shoulders; he looked like a tired commuter trudging to make the local that would presently take him back to the same old bungalow. I remembered, of course, the caricatures in du Maurier's dressing room; the romance of this same Duke with Flossie Pearson; the great storm; my interview with Rothenstein, when he wouldn't tell me—though obviously he knew—where those caricatures were. And now I wondered whether Max, whom I intended to ask about them the following day, would he less reticent than Sir William.

The next day, when I rang the doorbell of Max's home, the Villino Chiaro, at four, Miss Jungmann, his secretary, opened the door. She was in a state of breathless excitement. "Max is on the terrace!" she said. "We are going to have tea on the terrace!" Behind her excitement lay the fact that it was her constant effort to get Max to leave his tiny living room and move about a bit. That day, the weather was so fine that he had gone there after lunch and was there even now. I followed Miss Jungmann through the house and up the outdoor staircase that led to the terrace, and there found Max, his straw hat on his head and his cane in one hand, lounging against the parapet and looking out over the Gulf of Genoa, as he had been doing in my workrooms at home since 1934. I lounged beside him. I told Max that the scene was familiar to me, that I had bought him and it from Sir William Rothenstein in 1934. I added that since his figure in the drawing was diaphanous, I had been seeing through him for years. Max laughed, and began to reminisce about Rothenstein. "Will was a propulsive character, don't you know. He had a propulsive mental activity. My caricatures of him were cruel, I am afraid. He knew they were, and yet he took it manfully." Max reflected for a moment, in wonderment, on this cruelty. "As a writer, I was kindly, I think—Jekyll—but as a caricaturist I was Hyde. I always preferred the society of painters to that of writers: Walter Sickert, William Nicholson, Wilson Steer. Writers, including myself, don't you know, like to make an effect, put their best foot forward. But painters are another story. Steer, for example, had no interest whatever in the impression he made; he was just interested in painting. One day, Sickert said to me, 'Your caricatures [Max always emphasized the last syllable in pronouncing this word, and the "t" sounded very precise and pure] of dear Will and of Oscar Wilde were so deadly. I know how Oscar feels about them—he can't bear them—but doesn't Will resent them? Isn't he angry? ' 'More frightened,' I said to Walter, 'than angry.' But I loved Will; he was so kind. No one took such trouble over young artists, to help them; there was nothing he wouldn't do. But Oscar—"

Max leaned over the parapet, looking across the gulf. I encouraged him to say what he was thinking of Oscar.

"Well, in the beginning he was the most enchanting company, don't you know. His conversation was so simple and natural and flowing—not at all epigrammatic, which would have been unbearable. He saved that for his plays, thank heaven. My brother Herbert produced Oscar's play 'A Woman of No Importance.' During rehearsals, at the Haymarket Theatre, we used to go to a little bar around the corner where they served sandwiches. Oscar asked for a watercress sandwich. When the waiter brought it, it seemed to Oscar excessive. 'I asked for a watercress sandwich,' he said to the waiter—oh, in the friendliest manner possible, smiling at him as if asking for, and being sure of, the waiter's sympathy—'not for a loaf of bread with a field in the middle of it.'"

As an illustration of Wilde's imperturbability in the midst of his terrible debacle, Max repeated a story told him many years before by Lewis Waller, a matinee idol of the time. Waller was walking down Piccadilly with Allan Aynesworth, another accomplished actor. Both of them had suddenly found themselves out of work; Waller had been playing Sir Robert Chiltern in "An Ideal Husband" and Aynesworth Algernon in "The Importance of Being Earnest." The outbreak of the Wide scandal had closed both plays. The two actors were deep in talk about the source of their abrupt unemployment when, to their horror, they were hailed cheerily by their disemployer, riding blithely down Piccadilly in a hansom cab. They returned his greeting pallidly, hoping Wilde would ride on, but he didn't. He got out and came up to them. "Have you heard," he inquired, "what that swine Queensberry has had the effrontery to say?" Writhing with embarrassment, they both protested that no rumor of the Marquis's allegation had reached their chaste ears. "Since you haven't heard it, I’ll tell you," said Wilde, with the eagerness of a tutor avid to fill in a gap in folklore. "He actually had the effrontery to say"— and he fixed his eye on Waller—"that 'The Importance of Being Earnest' was a better-acted play than 'An Ideal Husband'!" He smiled radiantly, waved, got back into his hansom, and rode off down Piccadilly, leaving his victims gasping.

Max then spoke of his friends Ernest and Ada Leverson. He used to see a lot of them in their large, comfortable London house. Ada Leverson—the Sphinx, she was called—was a staunch friend to everyone who wrote or painted anything. She has survived best, perhaps, as having been the only person in London who would receive Wilde after his return from Reading Gaol. Max said that she deserved credit for this, but that no one ever gave any credit to poor Mr. Leverson, who consented to let Wilde stay in his house. The Sphinx, Max said, cared only about the opinion of the artistic set, but "Mr. Leverson had larger responsibilities. He was a prominent figure in the City and had much more to lose." On the morning of Wilde's return from prison, Max continued, Mrs. Leverson had to get up very early, for the train was arriving at ten o'clock. She was in an agony of apprehension—how to greet this broken figure whom she had known, and received in her house, as the most sought-after lion in London. By the time she reached the station platform, she was in a panic. The train came in; the Sphinx stood there wishing she were more sphinxlike. Wilde descended. He ran to her, smiling—a schoolboy greeting a pet aunt after a dreary semester—threw his arms around her, and crowed with appreciation, "Sphinx! Oh, Sphinx! Only you, only you in all the world, would know exactly what hat to wear at ten o'clock in the morning!" Ada had no worries after that.

"But, you know"—Max's eyes darkened with regret, and his brow furrowed—"as Oscar became more and more successful, he became . . ." Max paused, as if he couldn't bear to say it, but he did say it. "He became arrogant. He felt himself omnipotent, and he became gross not in body only—he did become that—but in his relations with people. He brushed people aside; he felt he was beyond the ordinary human courtesies that you owe people even if they are, in your opinion, beneath you. He snubbed Charles Brookfield, the actor who played the lackey in 'An Ideal Husband'—he was a wonderful, unfailing actor in small parts, and was said to be an illegitimate son of Thackeray, you know—and Brookfield never forgave him, Brookfield was vindictive; Brookfield hated Oscar, and it was Brookfield who did him in—supplied evidence against him. And I myself— It did give me a turn—"

I waited to hear what had given Max a turn. He told me.

"One day, I found myself in the office of the police inspector who had arrested Oscar. I don't know why; perhaps I went there to get news of Oscar or to find out whether there might be some amelioration—I don't know. This police inspector had offended Oscar when he arrested him." Max's voice thickened in imitation. "'Gruss misdemeanor!' the inspector kept shouting, and the gross mispronunciation grated on Oscar. There I was in his office. The walls were covered with a grisly collection of criminal souvenirs—oh, knives and pistols and bludgeons, all the implements of crime—and there among them, as though it were evidence against the inspector's latest malefactor, was one of my own caricatures of Oscar. I hadn't realized till that moment how wicked it was. I felt as if I had contributed to the dossier against Oscar; it gave me quite a turn. How did I come to do it? My hand did it, don't you know."

Max looked ruefully at his hand, resting on the sunny parapet. His eyes had an expression of pain and bewilderment, as if he could neither understand nor explain the dichotomy in his art and in his nature. After a moment, he looked up; the furrows in his brow disappeared and he returned, as to a green pasture, to Will Rothenstein. "I used to stay with Will. It was wonderful to stay with the Rothensteins at Far Oakridge, in Gloucestershire. I finished there one of the stories in 'Seven Men'—'Maltby and Braxton.' You are perhaps familiar with it?"

I was familiar with it: it is a study in the pathology of social climbing, as demonstrated by two newly arrived novelists Max invented. Maltby had had a great success with a novel called "Arid in Mayfair," Braxton simultaneously with "A Faun on the Cotswolds." Braxton went in for fauns and Maltby for aristocrats. They are both—Braxton in his gruff, churlish way, and Maltby in his bland, ingratiating one—madly snobbish. The great prize is to be asked to the "almost blatantly immemorial" country house of the Duke of Hertfordshire, Keeb Hall. At a party at which both are present, the Duchess invites Maltby; she wants to invite Braxton, but Maltby tells her that Braxton would be offended by the invitation and she forbears. The story is the account of the horrendous weekend, made disastrous for Maltby by his sense of guilt, as represented by Braxton's spiritualized presence, which Maltby can't get away from. Three of Max's favorite non-imaginary caricature subjects arc there also: Henry Chaplin, the Marquis de Soyeral, Arthur Balfour. The last tries to help Maltby through his final horror but without much success. The experience is so eroding that, after it, Maltby has to leave England. He settles at Lucca, where Max meets him and gets the story. Maltby is quite happy. He has married his elderly landlady, and he expresses to Max his felicity in the last lines of the story:

Maltby looked at his watch. He rose and took tenderly from the table his great bunch of roses. "She is [he says of his wife, in an ecstasy of snobbery] a lineal descendant . . . of the Emperor Hadrian."

I asked Max who had been the models for Maltby and Braxton. He would not tell me, though he said that Thomas Hardy had always insisted that they were H. G. Wells and Arnold Bennett. "When I had finished the story, I told the Rothensteins that I had done so and that I had used their demesne for local color," Max said. "Thereupon they both insisted—Will and Alice, Alice perhaps even more clamorous—that I read it aloud to them after dinner. Will was electrically attentive, but dear Alice fell asleep. I read and read, and Alice slept and slept. When I was approaching the end, I felt that something had to be done to spare Alice the embarrassment of having slept through a masterpiece." Max gave me a quick look that was the equivalent of a wink. "Therefore, when I got near the end, I began to read very loud. I bellowed, and Alice, startled, woke up. She came in for the kill, don't you know. She was most enthusiastic. She had, indeed, loved the story, so she insisted that I read it again. But my throat was hoarse from shouting and I forbore."

I asked Max whether he hadn't been disturbed by Lady Rothenstein's critique.

"No," he said quietly, "because I knew the story was good."

I spoke of Rothenstein's three-volume "Men and Memories," the final volume of which is dedicated to Max, and he was pleased that I had enjoyed them. He recited to me a poem he had written about Rothenstein, first explaining to me how resilient Rothenstein was in mood—"always matching your own, don't you know." Max recited the poem with spirit:


"How do you do?" Will asked of me.
"Very well, thanks," said I. Said he,
"Yes. I invariably find
Abundant health in all mankind."

Next morning, "How d'you do?" asked Will.
I told him I was rather ill.
"Alas," his voice toll'd like a bell,
"Mankind was ever far from well."

After we had laughed over the poem, Max felt a twinge of conscience. "Perhaps I shouldn't have told you this," he said. "It will hurt pour Will." I don't think that Max had forgotten, even momentarily, that poor Will had long since died; Max had read the eulogy at Will's memorial service. It was probably that he did not wish, even in fun, to ruffle the memory of his dead friend.

Miss Jungmann summoned us to tea, and gave instructions to the young Italian servant girl who was setting the tea tray on a little table under an umbrella in front of Max's study, which opened on to the terrace. Max put his hat and cane on a chair. At tea, I described to Miss Jungmann and Max the scene I had witnessed in Portofino the night before. Max chuckled when I remarked on how energetic the Duchess looked and how weary the Duke.

"Sometimes he seems to have become a butt," said Miss Jungmann.

"Not as bad," said Max tolerantly, "as being an if."

I planted my next remark carefully. "Isn't it odd," I said, "that at one time the Duchess's mother ran a boarding house?"

"Did she? Did she really?" said Max. "Did you know a countryman of yours—a radio artist, I believe he was—Alexander Woollcott?"

This diversion pulverized my plant so thoroughly that I did not even bother to amplify on Woollcott's occupations. When Max found that I had indeed known him, he went on, "I met him in England during the war. He was brought by Thornton Wilder. I looked forward eagerly to meeting Mr. Wilder. I wished to hear him talk. But Mr. Woollcott talked all the time and Mr. Wilder never said anything, and I began to wonder—you know, I began to wonder whether Mr. Wilder could talk. But then Mr. Woollcott left, and Mr. Wilder did, and most enchantingly."

I began to re-mine. "Those caricatures you drew of the Prince of Wales," I said. "I saw them first in Sir Gerald du Maurier's dressing room in St. James's Theatre."

Max remembered that du Maurier had bought them, and was much interested to hear that I had seen them.

I then told him that in 1934 I had pumped Sir William Rothenstein about them, with no result.

Max was extremely interested.

I said that Max had, in that fantasy, been prophetic.

"It is amusing, isn't it?" he said. "No matter how fantastic one is in art, life always goes you one better!"

Miss Jungmann was seized with a bright idea. "Do you mind, Max, if I show Queen Victoria's book?"

Max didn't mind.

Miss Jungmann rose and went into the study to fetch it. "Have you read Queen Victoria at all?" Max asked me.

I confessed I hadn't.

"Whatever may be said of Queen Victoria's style," Max went on, "it has to be admitted, I think, that no one ever, before or since, has written like her." Miss Jungmann appeared with the book. It was "More Leaves from the Journal of a Life in the Highlands." It is dedicated

and especially

"But wait," said Miss Jungmann. "There is another dedication!" She turned the page, and there, scrawled in pen, in a slashing schoolgirl handwriting, with great flourishes, was:


the never-sufficiently-to-be-studied writer whom Albert looks down on affectionately, I am sure—

From his Sovereign

Balmoral, 1899

"Do you know," said Miss Jungmann, "Max studied the Queen's handwriting and copied it exactly. She wrote exactly so. And, do you know, a lady came here once and I showed her this and she believed—she really believed—that the Queen had given this to Max and written the dedication. She was so awed she could hardly speak."

I stared, fascinated, at the Queen's handwriting. It was touchingly ingenuous.

Miss Jungmann got up. "It is time for your nap, Max," she said. "I'll just make our guest comfortable in your study, and he can see for himself what you have done to pour Queen Victoria."

Max rose, smiled at me, and said he looked forward to my next visit. He put on his straw hat and took his cane, and started to cross the flagged terrace. Halfway to the staircase leading down to his bedroom, he turned and came back. He removed his straw hat and gave me a quizzical look in which there was an aspect of pity. I saw that he was enjoying himself. "Those caricatures," he began, "those Flossie Pearson caricatures you were asking poor Will about"—he made it seem as if I had been asking poor Will a few hours ago—"they were bought up by the Royal Family, don't you know. It is not generally known, but they are at Windsor. The tenants keep them behind a panel in the drawing room. I am told that when they have people they are cozy with, they take them out from behind the panel and show them. I hope that, unlike this lady on a historic occasion"—he made a flicking gesture toward Queen Victoria—"they are amused." He restored his straw hat at its customary jaunty angle, and went hack toward the staircase.

Miss Jungmann ushered me into Max's study. Before settling down with the Queen, I had a look around. In this room, Max had written most of "Seven Men," finished "Zuleika Dobson" (he had started it when he was a boy), written most of his maturest essays, and drawn a great many of the innumerable caricatures that are scattered all over the world, in private and public collections, concealed in palaces and exposed in libraries, art galleries, universities—in Blenheim, at Harvard, and in Merton College, Oxford, where there is a room devoted to Max. The study was a square room of modest size, with blue-painted walls. Max's nursery had had blue-painted walls, and his rooms in Merton, and he had brought his color scheme here. On the walls hung a series of caricatures done by Max in imitation of the style of the great Italian caricaturist Carlo Pellegrini—"Ape," as he signed himself—whom Max revered as a master of the craft. The caricatures were imitations, but the legends were Max's own. Original Pellegrini drawings cut out of "Vanity Fair" had hung in Max's rooms in Merton, and later in those he occupied in his mother's house in London. When Max was tired, he said—especially after an exhibition of his drawings—and had no ideas for new caricatures, his hand still wanted to draw, and he pacified it by allowing it to produce these Pellegrini forgeries. One of those in the study was of the young Disraeli in his dandiacal period; Max's legend is "A Well Known Dandy, Who Afterwards Followed a Less Arduous Calling." (Max had a quartet of subjects whom he never let alone: King Edward VII, George Moore, Balfour, and Disraeli.) There was a square wooden table in the center of the room, and on the left, near the door to the terrace, the drawing table on which Max had dune his caricatures. To be drawn by Max came to be the insigne of arrival, but it had its penalties, too. Christopher Hassell, in his biography of Sir Edward Marsh, tells with what excitement Marsh received the news that Max had expressed the wish to draw him. But some of Max's subjects—Arnold Bennett, H.G. Wells, Oscar Wilde, the Marquis de Soveral—were restive under the penalties. Mrs. Shaw, in a fury, tore in two a caricature Max had done of G.B.S. and threw the pieces into the fire. Max was aware of the restiveness, and he once said of his drawing table, "This unassuming piece of furniture has given much offense." Logan Pearsall Smith tells how Edmund Gosse consoled him when Max had Smith on his list:

"I feel it my duty to tell you [Gosse wrote Smith] that something has happened to you that sooner or later happens to us almost all. Max has got you! We don't like it, and you won't like it, but you must pretend, as we all do, that you like it. You can console yourself, at any rate, with the thought that it will give enormous pleasure to your friends."

Gosse was doubly right. Though at Max's next show I found all the other drawings laughable beyond words, the caricature of myself I considered the only failure of the exhibition. Not that I minded in the least; I simply saw nothing funny in it; and was greatly surprised, though pleased, of course, as well, that it gave, as Gosse predicted it would give, so much pleasure to my friends.

Three of the walls were lined, halfway up, with plain white-painted wooden bookshelves. I sampled some of the books. They were mostly presentation copies of books by the great and lesser and forgotten authors who were Max's contemporaries—George Moore, Arnold Bennett, Oscar Wilde, G. S. Street, George Meredith, Herbert Trench, Edmund Gosse, Siegfried Sassoon, Thomas Hardy, Henry James, G. M. Trevelyan, Henry Arthur Jones, Richard Le Gallienne, Stephen Phillips. I looked through "Herod, a Tragedy," by Phillips, who was once rampantly successful but is now a forgotten dramatist. Rothenstein tells, in his memoirs, of the time that Richard Le Gallienne had, during the height of Phillips' success, suddenly gone to America. Someone asked Max why Le Gallienne had made this sudden departure. Said Max, "He is waiting for Stephen Phillips to blow over." The poor man did indeed blow over; he knew the sudden declension of popularity and took refuge in drink. But here was one of his great successes, with an inscription to Max in the style of a man who is well aware that he can afford to be modest.

For many of these books, Max had amused himself by drawing what he called Misleading Frontispieces. They are mostly in color, and they do mislead you. If you believed, for example, Max's title page for George Moore's "Memoirs of My Dead Life," you would think you were in for the reminiscences of a hero of the cricket field. There were two odd volumes—"The Poetical Works of Thomas Henry Huxley" and "The Complete Works of Arnold Bennett." I didn't know that Huxley had written poems, and I wondered how all the works of Arnold Bennett could be contained in this narrow volume. Was it on microfilm? I started to remove the "Complete Works" to find out by what miracle of compression they had been so compactly assembled. The book resisted me; I saw then that it and the "Poetical Works" were only part of the wooden partition. The spines had been so cunningly fabricated that I tried to take the books out again after I knew that they weren't there. It was a relief, though, to find out that I wouldn't have to read "The Poetical Works of Thomas Henry Huxley." I found it hard to keep from browsing. It seemed that all the authors of my youth, whom I used to take out of the Elm Street Public Library, in Worcester, Massachusetts, were here in person, near and tangible: they had been generous; they had given their works away; they had taken the trouble to write affectionate dedications; and Max had taken the trouble to mislead their readers into paths the authors had not chosen. He certainly misled readers of the Queen, with whom I now settled down on the sofa.

Before examining what Max had done to the Queen, I thought I'd better see what the Queen had done for herself. I was fascinated. I couldn't stop reading—not even for Max's forgeries, scattered all through the book in the Queen's handwriting. I saw quickly what Max had meant; certainly no one had ever written like this, before or since. On the surely acceptable theory that nothing she does can fail to be interesting, Victoria describes in detail all the minutiae of her daily life during her travels in Scotland. She has a nice feeling for nature, for the colors of earth and sky, and she sets down her observations prettily. She reads, she writes, she sketches, she plays the piano with the Princess Beatrice. She rides her pony. She drives in her carriage. And always, everywhere and every minute, she misses Albert. When it is a nice day, she grouses about it. What business has a day to be nice when Albert isn't there to take in its niceness When the weather is bad, she finds it "provoking;" this is an affront not to Albert but to herself. The poignancy of her loss stabs her in unexpected places. She suffers a minor accident while out driving:

Almost directly after the accident happened, I said to Alice it was terrible not to be able to tell it to my dearest Albert, to which she answered: "But he knows it all, and I am sure he watched over us." I am thankful that it was by no imprudence of mine, or the slightest deviation from what my beloved one and I had always been in the habit of doing, and what he sanctioned and approved.

Once, her irritation with the weather is assuaged by the memory of Albert's advice on such occasions:

A thick, misty, very threatening morning! There was no help for it, but it was sadly provoking. It was the same once or twice in former happy days, and my dear Albert always said we could not alter it, but must leave it as it was and make the best of it.

She decides then to leave it as it is, and has breakfast with "our three little ones." She misses Albert acutely when she has a good breakfast:

Excellent breakfasts, such splendid cream and butter! The Duchess has a very good cook, a Scotchwoman, and I thought how dear Albert would have liked it all. He always said things tasted better in smaller houses.

On a little safari over the Scotch hills, she sees some stags:

We saw eight stags together at a distance. Oh! had dearest Albert been here with his rifle!

From all her journeys the Queen returns to Balmoral with manifest relief. She always tells the time of her return, to the minute, and she invariably says that she returned "safely," as if she had reached Balmoral after running a gantlet. In Mr. Brown, her gillie, the Queen has managed to create an extraordinarily diverting character. There are many references in "More Leaves" to General Ponsonby, her chief equerry. Max later lent me a book by this general's son, Sir Frederick Ponsonby—"Recollections of Three Reigns." Sir Frederick had the same job with King Edward VII that his father had had with Queen Victoria. It is a very entertaining and honest book. Sir Frederick devotes several pages to Mr. Brown. He doesn't believe for one moment what many blasphemers among the Queen's subjects believed that she was secretly married to Mr. Brown. A privately printed pamphlet of the time entitled "Mrs. John Brown," with the Queen as its heroine, he dismisses as "scurrilous." The possibility that the Queen was in love with Mr. Brown and that Mr. Brown reciprocated her emotion he does admit, but he insists that if it was so, the tidal passion was unconscious, certainly suppressed. But that Mr. Brown's tremendous influence with the Queen was a nuisance to everybody he does not deny. Mr. Brown was an absolute autocrat with the other servants, and equally temperamental with higher-ups. History, as set down by the Queen herself in "More Leaves," does record that whatever else Mr. Brown might have been, he was one thing unquestionably—accident-prone. The Queen never feels safe unless Mr. Brown is sitting on the box of any equipage that is conveying her, yet the number of upsets and wrong roads and serious mishaps that the vehicle encounters even with that ballast is astonishing. Perhaps it is no wonder, considering Mr. Brown's knack for misfortune, that the Queen emphasizes the safety element in her perennial returns to Balmoral. Mr. Brown is a Scot, and wears native costume even when he is at home. This is too bad, because on one occasion Brown wounds his leg painfully by cutting it with his wet kilt. The Queen is "much distressed" over the bad behavior of Mr. Brown's kilt. On another occasion, more serious, the whole carriage—the Queen is travelling in a sociable this time—is overturned, and the Queen's thumb is injured in the fall. "I thought at first," she writes, "it was broken, till we began to move it." Another time, Mr. Brown falls through a turret:

A dull morning, very mild. Had not a good night. Up at a quarter-past eight, breakfasting at a quarter to nine (I had packed my large boxes with papers etc., with Brown, before breakfast on Monday, as all the heavier luggage had to he sent on in advance), and at a quarter past nine left Balmoral with Beatrice and the Duchess of Roxburghe. . . . Brown on the rumble of the landau, his leg now really fairly well, but he looks pulled.*

*When we went on board the "Thunderer," August 52, at Osborne, Brown had fallen through an open place inside the turret, and got a severe hurt on the shin. He afterwards damaged it again, when it was nearly healed, by jumping off the box of the carriage, so that when he came to Balmoral about a fortnight afterwards, it was very bad, and he was obliged to take care of it for some days previous to the fresh journey.

At one point, the Queen, evidently a little tired of constantly saying "Mr. Brown was on the box," advises her readers that henceforth, unless she specifies to the contrary, they may assume that Mr. Brown was on the box and so feel the security that she enjoyed herself. Along with his predilection for accidents, Mr. Brown appears to have only the most rudimentary sense of direction. He appears to have a dependable instinct for the wrong road. Sometimes he goes off on a road that isn't a carriage road at all but a cart road. Although he is on the box, the Queen cannot ignore the fact that progress is very bumpy; she is considerably shaken about. On trains, compartment doors stick and Brown has a terrible time opening them.

The book ends with a heartfelt tribute from the Queen to Mr. Brown, and a poem:

A truer, nobler, trustier heart,
More loyal, and more loving, never beat
Within a human breast.

Having, for once, been diverted from Max by another author, I now turned to his emendations.

The Queen, in her Maxian phase, had taken the trouble to copy out on the flyleaf, in her own handwriting, "Some Opinions of the Press" on her book:

Cuts deep. . . . Had Marie Bashkirtseff sat on a throne for a good long time she might have done something like thisbut we can think of no one else.—Ladies' Pictorial.

Not a book to leave lying about on the drawing-room table nor one to place indiscriminately in the hands of young men and maidens. . . . Will be engrossing to those of mature years. —Spectator.

Romantic . . . Strange . . . Enigmatic . . . Where's our Queen Mary the noo?—Scotsman.

Bin readin' Vic's latest. Perfickly scrumptious, doncherthink ?—"Eve" in the Tatler.

A style as pure as her Court, and we cannot give higher praise than that.—Windsor Mercury.

The Queen has two collies, of whom she is almost as fond as she is of Mr. Brown. On one journey she writes, on her own:

Dear good Sharp* was with us and out each day, and so affectionate . . .

*A favourite collie of mine.

There is a full-page lithograph of Sharp. Beneath it the incorrigible forger has written:

Such a dear, faithful, noble friend and companion, and for whom Albert had the greatest respect also.


and over Noble, the other friend's photograph:

Never shall I cease to mourn this dear, good servant. His early decease plunged us all in the deepest grief. It was most heartbreaking and annoying.


To divert the Empress Eugenie after the loss of her son, the Queen takes her to a little cottage, Glen Gelder Shiel. There is a full-page photograph of the Shiel and the trees surrounding it. Beneath this is written, at least in Max's copy:

This picture is now inexpressibly saddening to me to see. The tree that I have marked with a cross [there is a firm, black-inked cross over that tree] died last year. Knowing how much I liked that tree, they sent me some chips of the poor dear trunk after it had been felled. These I have painted black and they are a great pleasure.


At the very end, Max has had the effrontery to add to the lines of the poem the Queen wrote to Mr. Brown:

Uncouth he was,
But not the less a courtier withal.

And, beneath that, there is a drawing of Mr. Brown, wearing the lethal kilt, bearded, and with a great expanse of tartaned behind, just lifting himself up painfully from the ground after some unhappy miscalculation.

Perhaps the most famous caricature that Max ever drew was of Queen Victoria and her son Edward. It is captioned "The Rare, the Rather Awful Visits of Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, to Windsor Castle," and shows the future Edward VII, then nearing sixty, frock-coated, obese, standing abject and chastened, with his hands behind his back, in a corner of a drawing room of his mother's house. In the foreground sits the Queen, now a very old lady and also very fat, and frighteningly formidable. But there is a difference in the two fatnesses; that of the Prince is the efflorescence of overindulgence, that of his mother an accretion of righteousness. Victoria's hands are crossed over a handkerchief in her lap. Her heavy-lidded eyes are closed, as if to shut out the awful spectacle of her son's profligacies. The blubbery back of Edward's neck, forced out of his collar, ends abruptly and somewhat trivially in the bald dome of his head. The head is an anticlimax to such a back-of-the-neck. From the tension with which his hands are clasped behind him you feel that the Prince is praying, "O God, will I ever get out of this room!" But the Queen has had her say and is just sitting there, and you feel that she will be sitting there, locked in an outrage too deep for utterance, forever. There is the aging Prince, with so many pleasant things waiting for him outside this room—enormous meals, women, games, shooting, practical jokes, trips to Marienbad, to Paris (where he was adored), the whole palpitating world—if only he could get at them, if only that implacable little old lady who has been haranguing him would open her eyes. But her eyes won't open; they are clamped shut eternally against the horrors of her eldest son's excesses.

Max initiated the pastime of royalty-baiting long before the birth of the Angry Young Men. He indulged in it unremittingly, in caricature and in prose, all his life. The last caricature he ever made—with the exception of one of George Moore—was one he did of Edward VII, in 1955. Showing it to me in the Villino one day, he was moved to comment on the sharpness of the nose, as on a phenomenon his caricature had made him notice for the first time. "The noses of fat men do not follow suit with the rest of them as they age," he said. "The noses become, if anything, sharper, thinner." But Max, even when he was a young man, was not an angry young man. He was a civilized young man. His needling of royalty was acute, uncompromising, anal funny, but it was never savage.

I had earlier been told that a poem of Max's, written for private circulation among his friends during the reign of King George V and Queen Mary, had delayed his knighthood for twenty years. Max loved writing and drawing things for private publication or private circulation. Fond of privacy for himself, he sought it for his work as well. Perhaps Max wanted to undermine his knighthood; perhaps, in some unconscious way, he was trying to fulfill an ambition be had expressed in an essay when he was twenty-three—never to be knighted. The poem is called "Ballade Tragique à Double Refrain," and it is actually a one-act play:

SCENE: A room in Windsor Castle
IME: The present

(Enter a Lady-in-Waiting and a Lord-in-Waiting)

Slow pass the hours, ah, passing slow;
My doom is worse than anything
Conceived by Edgar Allan Poe:
The Queen is duller than the King.

Lady, your mind is wandering,
You babble what you do not mean;
Remember, to your heartening,
The King is duller than the Queen.

No, most emphatically, no,
To one firm-rooted fact I cling
In my now chronic vertigo:
The Queen is duller than the King.

Lady, you lie. Last evening
I found him with a rural dean
Talking of District Visiting. . . .
The King is duller than the Queen.

At any rate he doesn't sew;
You don't see him embellishing
Yard after yard of calico. . . .
The Queen is duller than the King.
Oh, to have been an underling
To (say) the Empress Josephine.

Enough of your self-pitying;
The King is duller than the Queen.

The Queen is duller than the King.

Death, then, for you shall have no sting.
(Stabs her, and as she falls dead produces phial from breast-pocket of coat)
Nevertheless, sweet friend strychnine, The King—is—duller than—the Queen.
(Expires in horrible agony)

In the summer of 1923, the future Duke of Windsor was about to pay his annual visit to the Duchy of Cornwall. Someone at Court suggested to him that on his way he should visit Thomas Hardy. The Prince agreed to do so, and, in due course, lunched with Hardy and his wife. Max heard about this. Again, he wrote a poem, this one, a Hardy parody, called "A Luncheon":

Lift latch, step in, be welcome, Sir,
Albeit to see you I'm unglad
And your face is fraught with a deathly shyness
Bleaching what pink it may have had.
Come in, come in, Your Royal Highness.

Beautiful weather?—Sir, that's true,
Though the farmers are casting rueful looks
At tilth's and pasture's dearth of spryness—
Yes, Sir, I've written several books—
A little more chicken, Your Royal Highness?

Lift latch, step out, your car is there,
To bear you hence from this ancient vale.
We are both of us aged by our strange brief nighness.
But each of us lives to tell the tale.
Farewell, farewell, Your Royal Highness.

It was not until the next day that I was able to discuss with Max his collaboration with the Queen and his verses on royalty. I was returning to America, and Miss Jungmann had arranged a farewell lunch for me at the Villino.  Again the weather was flawless, and when I rang the bell, Miss Jungmann opened the door. "Max is in the Vining Room!" she said triumphantly. "We are going to have lunch there. He loves it there." I followed Miss Jungmann through the house, up the stairs, past the terrace, and to a tiny auxiliary outdoor area, which she called the Vining Room, just above the terrace. Beneath the canopy of a vine from which white grapes were hanging, Max, straw-hatted, was sitting at a table doing a London Times crossword puzzle. He got up to greet me, putting his hat aside.

It was a halcyon day, and we had a gay lunch. We began talking about Victoria's prose style.

"It is rather nice, in the book, don't you think," said Max, "that when the Queen is asked to write her name in Sir Walter Scott's diary, which is shown her, she refuses to do it—she considers it a 'presumption'? I thought that delicate."

I asked Max whether King George and Queen Mary had ever read the "Ballade Tragique à Double Refrain."

"Yes," he said dryly. "Kind friends sent it them."

"How did they like it?" I asked.

"They were vexed," he said, with an innocent look at me.

I asked him whether it was true that this ballade had delayed his knight-hood for twenty years.

He said he did not know.

Considering how he had treated the successive British Royal Families, I said, it was a wonder he had been knighted at all; in fact, I wasn't sure that his residence in Italy was entirely voluntary.

Max chuckled; his shoulders shook. "You must remember," he said quietly,' "it was British royalty."

"That is so," Miss Jungmann said, looking at me seriously. "There are no people in the world like the English. I am a foreigner—I am a German and I can say it. I had a job in the Foreign Office during the last war—I believe told you. I shall never forget the day Dresden was bombed. I can't tell you the pain that was felt there in the Foreign Office. Pain! It was a massive bombing, you remember. It had to be done, but no one was happy about it. Just the contrary. I'll never forget the atmosphere in the Foreign Office that day, overcast with gloom. That could happen only in England. Only the English are like that!"

Max began talking about King Edward VII. "For some reason," he said, "he spoke English with a heavy German accent, very guttural." Max imitated the King's speech; it sounded like Weber and Fields. "When he was still Prince of Wales and living at Marlborough House, Sir Sidney Lee, the Shakespearean scholar, came to the Prince with a proposal. It was on the eve of the publication of the Dictionary of National Biography. It was Sir Sidney's idea that the Prince ought to give a dinner to those responsible for the completion of this monumental work. The monumental work had escaped the Prince's attention, don't you know, and Sir Sidney had painfully to explain to him what it was. The Prince, you know, was not an omnivorous reader. Sir Sidney managed to obtain his grudging consent. 'How many?' asked the Prince. `Forty,' said Sir Sidney. The Prince was appalled. For-r-ty!' he gasped. 'For-r-ty wr-ri-ter-rs! I can't have for-r-ty wr-ri-ter-rs in Marlborough House! Giff me the list!' Sir Sidney gave it him, and the Prince, with a heavy black pencil, started slashing off names. Sir Sidney's heart sank when he saw that the first name the Prince had slashed was that of Sir Leslie Stephen. He conveyed, as tactfully as he could, that this was a bad cut, since Stephen was the animating genius of the whole enterprise. Reluctantly, the Prince allowed Sir Leslie to come. Eventually, Sir Sidney put over his entire list. The dinner took place. Among the contributors present was Canon Ainger, a distinguished cleric whose passion was Charles Lamb, on whom he was considered a very great authority indeed. He had written the articles on Charles and Mary Lamb for the Dictionary. Sir Sidney sat at the Prince's right and found it heavy weather, don't you know. The Prince must have found it heavy going also; to be having dinner with forty writers was not his idea of a cultivated way to spend an evening. His eye roamed the table morosely, in self-objurgation for having let himself in for a thing like this. Finally, his eye settled on Canon Ainger. 'Who's the little parson?' he asked Lee. 'Vy is he here? He's not a wr-ri-ter!' 'He is a very great authority,' said Lee, apologetically, 'on Lamb.' This was too much fur the Prince. He put down his knife and fork in stupefaction; a pained outcry of protest heaved from him: 'On lamb!'"

Thinking of Edward put Max in a benign mood. "My brother Herbert produced a play about Mme. de Pompadour," he said. "The incidental music for it was written by a composer of the time named Edward German. You know, in those days the incidental music was quite a factor. The audience was affected by it; I was affected. When I listened to it, my heartstrings were twanged at. When it began to throb, I throbbed. People sobbed; I sobbed. King Edward expressed a wish to see my brother's production, and Herbert met him afterward. The King said not a word about the production, or the play. All he wanted to know was who had written the incidental music, which had greatly moved him. Herbert was a bit miffed. 'German,' he replied to the King's question. 'Oh, a German,' said Edward. 'Yes. Yes. I know many Ger-r-mans wr-rite music, but which German?' Not,' said Herbert, becoming a bit desperate, 'a German but Sir Edward German, the composer. His name is German.' Edward couldn't take it in; his gutturals thickened in vehement inquiry. Lady Tree intervened, but to no avail. It got worse and worse. It was never cleared up."

Max remembered that someone had had the cruelty to insert in an Address from the Throne the phrase "guerrilla warfare." The King's struggle to master this phrase was convulsive. Max imitated how it sounded—a consonantal chaos. The phrase was mercifully deleted.

I asked Max whether he cared at all for music that was not incidental.

"Anything above Puccini is above me, too," he said, "but I do love Puccini."

I asked whether he had any Puccini records.

"Unfortunately," said Miss Jungmann, "we have no phonograph."

Max took the deprivation more lightly than Miss Jungmann did; he was in a wonderful mood, and he began to tell, with tremendous gusto, and acting it out, about a shattering experience his friend Logan Pearsall Smith had once endured, when he found himself sitting next to Queen Victoria's son the Duke of Connaught at a lunch party. It was the day of the return of the captured German fleet to Scapa Flow, during the First World War; the lunch was to commemorate the great occasion. "When you are with royalty," Max began, "you are not supposed to start a subject, you are supposed to wait for them to start it and then you fall in. Logan knew this; he sat and sat through course after course, munching away in silence, waiting for the Duke to say something. The Duke didn't. Either he had no subject on which he wished to discourse or, if he did, he wasn't inclined to divulge it to Logan. The silence got on Logan's nerves; he decided, finally—he was American, you know; no Englishman would have done it to take the plunge, and he was careful to make it what he considered a safe and conservative plunge. 'Well, Sir,' he heard himself saying, 'this is a historic day.' The effect on the Duke was devastating; whatever might have been drifting through his own mind had collided with something. A remark had been made; he had heard something, though not the remark. He turned on Logan; in a voice somewhat thunderous, he demanded, 'What did you say?' Now that he was embarked on this line, there was no way for Logan to retreat. 'I said, Sir,' he repeated stoutly, 'that this is a historic day.' This time, the Duke did hear it—a remark so bizarre, so startling, and, above all, so unasked for." Max leaned forward and whispered Logan's remark to himself as the Duke had done; you could see that the vast implications of it were churning in Max's mind as they had churned in the Duke's. It was barely audible, Max's whisper: "A historic day? A historic day." Emboldened, Logan repeated it out loud: "Yes, Sir, this is a historic day." Max, who was inside the Duke's mind, kept revolving it, turning it over, munching it; his lips kept forming and re-forming the words inaudibly. Then a light began to glow in his eyes and a smile to form on his lips. You could tell the moment when the Duke made the molten connection between the remark and the event; they fused suddenly, and this illumination gave the Duke the thrill of creation. "At last," Max went on, "he had a subject; he had it firmly entrenched, and was only too proud to introduce it, don't you know. He turned to Logan and hosed him with it. He lavished upon the anonymous commoner the full flavor of his intuition. 'THIS,' he said, 'IS A HISTORIC DAY!'"

Max went on talking about Smith. He said that Smith's experience with the Duke might have been harrowing but that Smith had submitted Max himself to an experience that was not so much harrowing as humiliating. Smith was the son of American Quaker parents from Germantown, Pennsylvania. They were rich—the family owned a successful bottling plant—and were both internationally famous as applied salvationists. Smith's father had applied salvation so intimately to his female communicants in England that a hue and cry arose among the pious and he retired into the shadows of contemplation, but Logan's mother went on to the end, effulgent, preaching and writing. Her inspirational books were best-sellers. Logan settled down in London and devoted himself to literature. His greatest success was with a little book called "Trivia," which consists of small, exquisitely polished paragraphs of worldly wisdom and disillusion. Max had done a caricature of Smith. Its legend reads, "The Author of 'Trivia' Submitting His Latest MS. to the CONDUCTORS Of 'The London Mercury' (Mr. Logan Pearsall Smith, Mr. J. C. Squire, Mr. Edward Shanks)." The caricature shows Smith watching the two editors. He has just submitted the manuscript to Mr. Squire, who is handing it ceremoniously to Mr. Shanks. The manuscript is the size of a postage stamp. One day, when Max was working for the Saturday Review, Smith gave him, for his edification, a small brochure written by his mother—"How Little Logan Was Brought to Jesus." It appeared from it that little Logan had originally not been with Jesus. He was somewhat restive and rebellious as a child; his mother had to bring him. Max received the book gratefully and promised to read it. He had a date at the Athenaeum Club for lunch, which he kept. In a cab, after lunch, he realized with horror that he had left the history of Logan's conversion at the club. He made a special trip to the club the next day to report his loss to the hall porter. The latter was lofty and elegant. Max flattered himself that he had a way with club hall porters—deferential, and with a hint of geniality restrained only by Max's own sense of decorum before the remote and august. He had always made a particular effort with the Athenaeum's hall porter, and felt that he had succeeded in winning his respect. Max reported his loss. "And what was the book, Mr. Beerbohm?" the great man inquired. Max, since he had no alternative, answered, "'How Little Logan Was Brought to Jesus.'" In that moment, Max recalled, something happened between the porter and himself. He lost status. The work of years of careful deference was undone. The porter merely said that he would inquire, but the intimacy was gone and the respect was gone. A few days later, Max returned. The porter handed him the book in a gingerly manner. It was carefully wrapped up and tied with string, so that the porter himself could handle it safely. Max knew that his day at the Athenaeum was over.

We started to leave the Vining Room. Max's eye caught the season's first gardenia in the flower border. We stopped to admire it. Miss Jungmann, with Max looking on approvingly, pointed out for me the acanthus, lemons, figs, bougainvillaea, geraniums. We stopped for a moment on the terrace, near the parapet. There was a great tree across the road before us. "Do you notice," said Max, "that on the side facing us it spreads its branches way back, leans backward—like Swinburne? There arc the leaners-forward, you know, and there are the leaners-backward. Balfour was a leaner-forward, but Swinburne was a leaner-backward, like that tree."

Max stared at the tree, as if by looking at it he was again seeing Swinburne. From Swinburne his eyes wandered to the sea. He stared at it as if he were trying to extract from its tranquil, gleaming surface the answer to the riddle of those twin darknesses from which we emerge and toward which we move. I remembered a description by Max, at the end of one of his essays, of himself, staring at another sea, on the coast of Sussex. The essay starts innocently enough: a nine-year-old architect is working rapturously and meticulously at constructing a sand cottage. Max is full of admiration at the completed work; other children come up and give their grudging admiration. Presently, the tide comes in and destroys the cunning fabrication:

The unrestful, the well-organised and minatory sea had been advancing quickly. It was not very far now from the cottage. I thought of all the civilizations that had been, that were not, that were as though they had never been. Must it always be thus?—always the same old tale of growth and greatness and overthrow, nothingness?

To Max's surprise, the boys shout with joy as the cottage is demolished, and finally the architect himself joins in their jubilation:

I myself was conscious of a certain wild enthusiasm within me. But this was less surprising for that I had not built the cottage, and my fancy had not enabled me to dwell in it. It was the boy's own enthusiasm that made me feel, as never before, how deep-rooted in the human breast the love of destruction, of mere destruction, is.

The spectacle arouses in Max a more intimate and fearsome speculation still: Is the English polity safe? Might it not share the fate of that cottage: He won't let himself think about it. "I waived the question coming from that hypothesis," he writes, "and other questions that would have followed; for I wished to be happy while I might."

(This is the third of a series of seven articles.)

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