August, and yellowing Autumn, so
To Winter nights knee-deep in mud or snow,
And you've been everything.
Dear, you've been everything that I most lack
In these soul-deadening trenches—pictures, books.
Music, the quiet of an English wood,
The narrow, bouldered mountain-track,
The broad, full-bosomed ocean, green and black,
And Peace, and all that's good.
Yes, he is the man who does not forget, whom to-day does not absorb; he remains conscious of a crowd of younger selves, and of those distant places which have coloured his thought. At the front the absent are " everything," and after death "everything" becomes the lost friend. A complex and delicately poised nature, but perhaps lacking the passion and impetus that can shape large and difficult themes. Watts might have painted a young man leading a child through Gehenna and preventing its terror by keeping it laughing, but such allegories are not necessary or obvious enough for successful plastic treatment even by a great painter. Christophe's statue, Le Masque, is better conceived; a smiling artificial visage still fronts the world from which the real agonised head has fallen back. From one view—
- "vois ce souris fin et voluptueux
Où la fatuité promène son extase";
while from the other—
- "voici, crispée atrocement
La véritable tête, et la sincère face
Renversée à l'abri de la face qui ment,"
as Baudelaire describes the well-known masterpiece in the Jardin des Tuileries. Only I think to substitute a man for the woman would heighten the effect, and for this the