Author of "Bracken", "Sleeping Waters", etc.
With an Introduction by
THE FOUR SEES COMPANY
For eight years or more, since I first became acquainted with the novels
and tales of John Trevena it has been my firm conviction
Thomas Hardy and George Moore among contemporary
novelists rival his art
at its best. Like Meredith, he has written for twenty years in
obscurity, and like Meredith also he has been content with a small
discriminating audience. I suppose that in 1950 our grandchildren will
be electing college courses on his literary
method, but meanwhile
would be more gratifying if there were even a slight public response
the quality of his individual talent.
Trevena's novels are the expression of a passionate
feeling for Nature,
regarded as the sum of human personality
and experience, in all its
moods,--benign and malign, as man is benign and malign, and faithful
life in the stone as well as the flower. What a gallery
characters they are, Mary and Peter Tavy, Brightly, Cuthbert Orton,
Jasper Ramrige, Anthonie and Petronel, William and Yellow Leaf, Captain
Drake and dark Pendoggat, Ann Code, Cyril Rossingall, and a hundred
and gentle, with wind and water and earth and sky for
a chorus, and the shifting pageantry of Nature as a stage.
His fourteen volumes reveal a gift for characterization equalled by none
of the contemporary
English realists, and a Shakespearian humor
elsewhere gone from our day. In _Furze the Cruel_, _Bracken_, _Wintering
Hay_, and _Sleeping Waters_, to name no others, John Trevena has written
novels of Dartmoor that will take their rightful
place in the great
English line, when the honest carpentering of Phillpotts that now
overshadows them is totally
The feeling has spread among Trevena's few critical
who have written about him, that he is fundamentally morbid and
one-sided. On the contrary, I know of few novelists who are more
recklessly and irresistibly gay, in whom sheer fun bubbles over so
spontaneously and wholeheartedly. To ignore
life's harshness is simply
life. Trevena's many-sidedness will be apparent
there is a definitive edition
of his work. His habit of confining a
novel to a single mood or passion
of nature, together with the fact that
Americans have only had an opportunity to read those novels by him which
deal with nature's most cruel moods, have done the reputation
a grave injustice.
_By Violence_ and _Matrimony_ are Trevena's most beautiful short tales,
and I hardly know which is the finer revelation
gentle vision. Their message is conveyed so quietly that they may be
read for their sensuous beauty only, and yet convey
a rare pleasure. If
their feeling is veiled and somewhat aloof from the common ways of men,
there is none the less a fine human sympathy
concealed in them, and a
indissolubly woven into their pages.
If Nature's power is inevitable
in these stories, it is also kind, and I
like to think that from _By Violence_ as a text a new reading
may be deciphered. Trevena has written the books of furze and heather
and bracken, which outlast time on the hills of Dartmoor.
But this tale hints at a fifth force which survives all the others. Some
day, when the wind is strong, John Trevena will write the book of "The
Rain-drop," which is the gentlest of all elements, and yet outlasts the
Edward J. O'Brien
_South Yarmouth, Mass._
_February 26, 1918_
enemies are out.
Simon Searell read this short message as he tramped the streets of
Stonehouse, which were full of fog, from the sea on one side and the
river on the other. Vorse was an uneducated man; the mysticism of
flowers was nothing to him, the time of spring was merely a change of
season, and the most spiritual
of blooms were only "wooden enemies."
Searell frowned a little, not at the lack of education, which was rather
a peace to be desired, but at the harshness of the words, and went on,
wondering if the wood-anemones were to be his friends, or little cups of
He climbed streets of poor houses, their unhappy
windows curtained with
mist, and came out near a small church made of iron, a cheap and gaudy
thing, almost as squalid on the outside as the houses. The backslider
looked at it with a shudder. It was his no longer; he had given it up;
he was forgetting those toy-like altars, the cheap brass candlesticks,
flowers, and all the images. They were wooden
enemies to him now. He was going deeper to find the throbbing heart of
religion, putting aside dolls and tapers and the sham of sentimentality.
Solitude and mysticism were to be his stars through the night, and he
trusted, with their aid, to reach the dawn. He turned from the church,
stopped at a house, and that was squalid too, knocked, then wiped his
boots, as if certain of being admitted.
"Father Damon?" he asked shortly. Searell's voice was sweet; he had
helped people "home," as they called it, with his tongue, not with his
soul, just as a sweet-toned organ calls for tears with the beauty of its
sounds, though the instrument
itself is dead.
"Yes, your reverence," the housekeeper
answered, as shortly; and Searell
walked up the foggy stairs murmuring to himself, "The wind-flowers are
out, and I am free."
Father Damon stood in a little square room hideously papered. He was
small, dark, heavy-featured, peasant-like; and Searell saw at a glance
that his successor
was as dull in many ways as Oliver Vorse. All that he
knew had been forced upon him almost violently; he had not gone forth
gathering for himself, he dared not, his mind had been tilled by careful
teachers, kept under restraint, all his side-growths pruned away, in
order that orthodoxy might develop in one large unlovely head. When the
order went forth to kneel, he knelt, and when it was time to lift his
eyes to Heaven, he lifted them. It was a life of prison, and he could
never smell the woodland
through the fog of incense.
"He knows nothing," muttered Searell. "He thinks it is daylight
"I come to give you information about the mission," he said aloud, and
then began; but the telling took some time. How troublesome, how paltry,
the details; and Father Damon was so dull. Everything had to be
repeated, explained so carefully; and was it worth the words? The
successor was very earnest, but not enthusiastic, that had been crushed
out of him; and Searell grew impatient
at the wooden
figure, with its
simple face and child-like questions. He spoke faster, almost angrily,
desiring to get away and smell the earth; and his eyes wandered about
the room, which was so unlovely, not bare, but filled with those things
that make for the nakedness of life. There was wanting
galvanise that sluggish
Damon into passion, to destroy the machinery,
turn him into a strong animal with dilating nostrils. One little touch
would have done it. A portrait
of a pretty woman upon the mantelshelf
would have gone far; but there was nothing except pictures of mythical
"You are retiring. You seem strong and well," said Damon, when he had
obtained all the information that was required.
Searell was in a hurry to be gone, as the sleeper
struggles to awake
from a bad dream; but that voice and its stagnantrepose
"I am old, I am sixty," he said. "I am beginning
what the Church has not shown me."
"What is that?"
Damon stared with the eyes of horror, and put out his peasant-like hands
as if to force away some weight that pressed against him; but he said
"I will not depart in the odour of hypocrisy. Listen," said Searell. "I
am far from saying
that the Church does not lead towards a kind of
light; but it has not led me. And this do I say, that in the world at
large all religion is a failure; and I am going to find mine in the
"The truth is in the Church. It is your fault if you have missed it,"
said Damon, in a hollow voice, hoping that the other, for the sake of
his soul, was mad.
"It is there for some, the minority. You will never realize how small
is. We cannot hasten
the dawn with juggling. True religion
is a thing of innocence, not a matter of spells and charms; and it is in
of Nature that I will search for it. I believe it exists
cruelty, and I shall find it among the
flowers. The flower alone does not struggle with violence, it sheds no
blood; the weed smothers, and the bindweed chokes; but without some
fault upon the surface, perfection
might be obtained, which cannot be.
Look into the flower, and you will find a condition which is not
approached by man or other animals. There is a purity
which brings tears
into your eyes. Eliminate violence, and you have innocence; obtain
innocence, and you see the light. At the beginning
of things we are told
that the world was destroyed by water because the earth was filled with
violence. At the beginning
of the new era we learn that the Kingdom of
Heaven suffereth violence. Will you say the Church does not rule by
violence, by threats, suppressions, rubrics, and by vows?"
"I cannot understand you," said Damon.
"Will you understand when I say that the God of life is to be found
among the flowers?"
The other shook his head and looked frightened. Free speech was not
allowed, and, if it had been, he would not have known how to use it. He
walked between rubrics, turning neither to the right hand nor to the
left; and the living lily was a thing for funeral
wreaths. For the
flowers were good enough, as they did not require
renewing, and they looked real to the congregation, and how they were
did not concern him; and whether they had been made
by sweated labour did not concern him, because he was not allowed to
think, and he himself was artificial, neither man nor animal, but a
side-growth of supernaturalism.
"Let me go on now I have begun," said Searell. "I am leaving here, and
my words will not live after me. I am a man who has tested life, who has
been through every experience, and I have discovered that what morality
calls bad is often good, and that which we call virtue
from vice. The purest water runs upon mud, only you must not rake it up.
In my youth I served as a soldier, and upon leaving the army I sought
the Church, partly
to find a rest, chiefly, perhaps, because my mind was
mystical. But nothing was revealed, and nothing could be, for the mystic
must be free; and the priest
is a soul in prison, and the book of his
captivity is always before him. Here he must join his hands; there he
must lift his eyes to Heaven, prostrate
himself, kiss the altar, until
the time comes when he feels alone, cut off from the Creator of his
dreams by these mechanics, horribly
alone among images; and he seems to
hear a voice asking sorrowfully, 'What is this rule you are following?
Who told you to do this? Go out upon the hills and into the woods, for I
am there.' But he cannot move, for the time has come to join his hands
again, and the revelation
passes unseen, because he has to keep his eyes
shut. It is written so, and he must obey."
"I cannot answer you," muttered Damon; and it was true, for these words
took him outside the well-worn groove
and dropped him useless.
"If I found the man who could, I would follow him," came the answer, and
the white-headed priest
passed a hand across his eyes, as if trying
brush the fog away. "I have been longing
to escape for years. The iron
of the little mission-church has eaten into my soul. I ought to have
resigned? Why so, when I performed all my duties? Without means I could
not have faced the world, for the mystic
is not a practical man, and
these hands," he said, frowning, "they are hands to be despised, for
they have done nothing. No, do not answer me, you cannot, you are bound.
I am free. A year ago I was left money--"
"If you will, a curse to buy a pathway
to my Heaven. There was a place I
pined for, up on the heights of Dartmoor, a valley
among mountains. I
have bought it. They call it Pixyland."
"Paganism," cried the peasant-priest hoarsely, and crossed himself.
"Purity," said Searell, in his sweet voice. "Pure air, pure hills, pure
loneliness. It is a place of rocks, of heather
and large-rooted ferns,
and it is very steep, terrace
rising upon terrace
to the heights. At the
bottom of the valley
are trees; here also is a wild path and a wild
stream broken upon the rocks, and becoming whole again at the foot of a
glen. For centuries the place has been haunted
in men's imagination, and
they have avoided it because it is a garden of--angels. I am going now
to make it bloom, I am going to grasp that solitude
and weave with it a
mantle of light. I am going to walk on my pixy-path and watch the
shadows creeping up and down my pixy-glen; and the growth will come, the
growth of knowledge, and of consciousness; and there I may meet my
out of the world by violence, out of the Church by
violence, revealing Himself, not tortured, cross-laden, and frowning,
and not awful, but as the smiling Guardian of the flowers."
There was hardly a sound in the cold room, stiff with the antique
pictures of quaint
saints, dark with that dull peasant
born to be ruled;
and yet Searell was going out with a haunted
face, passing like a
phantom from the house of poverty, and the wet board with Mass notices,
and the waste of ground heaped up with rubbish. There was a pear-tree
leaning from the waste, a tree which the builders had forgotten, and
from the tree hung a broken branch, and at the end of that branch,
beneath the buds of spring, were two black leaves neglected by the
winter, side by side, struggling with one another; for there was wind
down the street which made them struggle; but neither dropped, and they
fought on silently
while the wind lasted.
"Violence even in dead things," Searell murmured; and, reaching up his
hand, he quieted those two restless
leaves for ever.
Oliver Vorse was lying among the wood-anemones, and he was drunk. He
would have looked like a monster
had his condition been rare; but it was
Vorse was not abnormal, only a fool. He did not know
where he was, in the pixy-path upon the wind-flowers, crushing so many
with his sodden carcase, while the pure pixy-water trickled underneath.
He had come the wrong way at the turning of the path; instead of
ascending to the house, which was the way of difficulty, he had stepped
downwards choosing the path of ease, as men will, even when sober. The
state of his body was nothing, as nobody would see him except Sibley,
his wife. The master was expected tomorrow, and then he would have to
pretend to be a man.
The moon was young, a cradle
of silver, and the stars were wrapped in
sleep-compelling clouds; and all the light that there was seemed to come
from the anemones which Vorse was defiling. The little white things were
introduction [,intrə´dʌkʃən] n.介绍；引言；引导 (初中英语单词)conviction [kən´vikʃən] n.定罪；确信，信服 (初中英语单词)audience [´ɔ:diəns] n.听众；观众；接见 (初中英语单词)literary [´litərəri] a.文学(上)的 (初中英语单词)meanwhile [´mi:n´wail] n.&ad.其间；同时 (初中英语单词)personality [,pə:sə´næliti] n.人；个性；人品；人物 (初中英语单词)faithful [´feiθfəl] a.忠实的；可靠的 (初中英语单词)gallery [´gæləri] n.画廊；美术馆；长廊 (初中英语单词)chorus [´kɔ:rəs] n.合唱；齐声 v.合唱 (初中英语单词)contrary [´kɔntrəri] a.相反的 n.相反 (初中英语单词)apparent [ə´pærənt] a.显然的；表面上的 (初中英语单词)passion [´pæʃən] n.激情；激怒；恋爱 (初中英语单词)vision [´viʒən] n.视觉；想象力；幻影 (初中英语单词)convey [kən´vei] vt.运送；传达；转让 (初中英语单词)sympathy [´simpəθi] n.同情，怜悯 (初中英语单词)reading [´ri:diŋ] n.(阅)读；朗读；读物 (初中英语单词)wooden [´wudn] a.木制的；呆板的 (初中英语单词)spiritual [´spiritʃuəl] a.精神(上)的；神圣的 (初中英语单词)unhappy [ʌn´hæpi] a.不幸的；不快乐的 (初中英语单词)artificial [,ɑ:ti´fiʃəl] a.人工的；模拟的 (初中英语单词)shortly [´ʃɔ:tli] ad.立刻，马上；不久 (初中英语单词)instrument [´instrumənt] n.仪器；手段；乐器 (初中英语单词)daylight [´deilait] n.日光；黎明 (初中英语单词)earnest [´ə:nist] a.认真的 n.认真；诚恳 (初中英语单词)beginning [bi´giniŋ] n.开始，开端；起源 (初中英语单词)horror [´hɔrə] n.恐怖；战栗 (初中英语单词)failure [´feiljə] n.失败；衰竭；破产 (初中英语单词)hasten [´heisən] vt.催促；促进 vi.赶紧 (初中英语单词)underneath [,ʌndə´ni:θ] ad.&prep.在底下 (初中英语单词)violence [´vaiələns] n.猛烈；暴力(行) (初中英语单词)purity [´pjuəriti] n.纯净；贞洁 (初中英语单词)funeral [´fju:nərəl] n.葬礼，丧葬；困难 (初中英语单词)elsewhere [,elsweə] ad.在别处；向别处 (初中英语单词)virtue [´və:tʃu:] n.美德；贞操；长处 (初中英语单词)partly [´pɑ:tli] ad.部分地；不完全地 (初中英语单词)chiefly [´tʃi:fli] ad.主要地；尤其 (初中英语单词)priest [pri:st] n.教士；牧师；神父 (初中英语单词)valley [´væli] n.谷；河谷；流域 (初中英语单词)haunted [´hɔ:tid] a.常出现鬼的，闹鬼的 (初中英语单词)imagination [i,mædʒi´neiʃən] n.想象(力) (初中英语单词)driven [´driv(ə)n] drive 的过去分词 (初中英语单词)peasant [´pezənt] n.农民；庄稼人 (初中英语单词)poverty [´pɔvəti] n.贫穷(乏，瘠)；不足 (初中英语单词)silently [´sailəntli] ad.寂静地；沉默地 (初中英语单词)restless [´restləs] a.没有休息的 (初中英语单词)monster [´mɔnstə] n.怪物 a.大得异常的 (初中英语单词)therefore [´ðeəfɔ:] ad.&conj.因此；所以 (初中英语单词)abnormal [æb´nɔ:məl] a.变态的，反常的 (初中英语单词)cradle [´kreidl] n.摇篮；发源地 (初中英语单词)contemporary [kən´tempərəri] a.&n.同时代的(人) (高中英语单词)response [ri´spɔns] n.回答；响应 (高中英语单词)passionate [´pæʃənit] a.易动情的；易怒的 (高中英语单词)brightly [´braitli] ad.明亮地；聪明地 (高中英语单词)critical [´kritikəl] a.批评的；关键性的 (高中英语单词)ignore [ig´nɔ:] vt.忽视，不理，不顾 (高中英语单词)edition [i´diʃən] n.版本；很相似的 (高中英语单词)revelation [,revə´leiʃən] n.展现；揭露(的事物) (高中英语单词)inevitable [i´nevitəbəl] a.不可避免的 (高中英语单词)granite [´grænit] n.花岗岩 (高中英语单词)shudder [´ʃʌdə] n.&vi.震颤；发抖 (高中英语单词)housekeeper [´haus,ki:pə] n.主妇，女管家 (高中英语单词)successor [sək´sesə] n.继承人，接班人 (高中英语单词)violently [´vaiələntli] ad.强暴地；猛烈地 (高中英语单词)restraint [ri´streint] n.抑制；管束；克制 (高中英语单词)woodland [´wudlənd] n.树林，林地 (高中英语单词)enthusiastic [inθju:zi´æstik] a.热情的，热心的 (高中英语单词)impatient [im´peiʃənt] a.不耐烦的，急躁的 (高中英语单词)portrait [´pɔ:trit] n.肖像；相片；雕像 (高中英语单词)repose [ri´pəuz] v.&n.(使)休息；安息 (高中英语单词)saying [´seiŋ, ´sei-iŋ] n.言语；言论；格言 (高中英语单词)minority [mai´nɔriti] n.少数(民族)；未成年 (高中英语单词)innocence [´inəsəns] n.无罪；天真 (高中英语单词)outward [´autwəd] a.外面的 ad.向外 (高中英语单词)cruelty [´kru:əlti] n.残忍；残酷行为 (高中英语单词)perfection [pə´fekʃən] n.完美；极致；熟练 (高中英语单词)eliminate [i´limineit] vt.消除；淘汰 (高中英语单词)mechanics [mi´kæniks] n.力学；构成法；技巧 (高中英语单词)unseen [,ʌn´si:n] a.未看见的 (高中英语单词)longing [´lɔŋiŋ] n.&a.渴望(的) (高中英语单词)terrace [´terəs] n.梯田 vt.使成梯田 (高中英语单词)solitude [´sɔlitju:d] n.孤独；寂寞；荒凉 (高中英语单词)consciousness [´kɔnʃəsnis] n.意识；觉悟；知觉 (高中英语单词)guardian [´gɑ:diən] n.监护人；保护人 (高中英语单词)quaint [kweint] a.离奇的；奇妙的 (高中英语单词)totally [´təutəli] ad.统统，完全 (英语四级单词)reputation [repju´teiʃən] n.名誉；名声；信誉 (英语四级单词)radiance [´reidjəns] n.发光；光彩；辐射 (英语四级单词)trying [´traiiŋ] a.难堪的；费劲的 (英语四级单词)congregation [,kɔŋgri´geiʃən] n.集合；团体 (英语四级单词)prostrate [´prɔstreit, prɔ´streit] a.俯伏的 vt.弄倒 (英语四级单词)creator [kri:´eitə] n.创造者；设立者 (英语四级单词)groove [gru:v] n.槽 vt.在…作槽 (英语四级单词)pathway [´pɑ:θwei] n.小路 (英语四级单词)rubbish [´rʌbiʃ] n.垃圾；碎屑；废话 (英语四级单词)rightful [´raitfəl] a.正义的；合法的 (英语六级单词)poetic [pəu´etik] a.理想化了的 (英语六级单词)wanting [´wɔntiŋ, wɑ:n-] a.短缺的；不足的 (英语六级单词)sluggish [´slʌgiʃ] a.呆滞的；偷懒的 (英语六级单词)sleeper [´sli:pə] n.睡眠者；(铁路)枕木 (英语六级单词)stagnant [´stægnənt] a.停滞的；萧条的 (英语六级单词)hypocrisy [hi´pɔkrisi] n.伪善 (英语六级单词)horribly [´hɔrəbli] ad.恐怖地 (英语六级单词)mystic [´mistik] a.神秘的；难以理解的 (英语六级单词)hoarsely [´hɔ:sli] ad.嘶哑地 (英语六级单词)heather [´heðə] n.石南属植物 (英语六级单词)