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Full Online Book HomeEssaysOld Friends - Essays In Epistolary Parody - LETTER: From Mr. Paul Rondelet to the Very Rev. Dean Maitland
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Old Friends - Essays In Epistolary Parody - LETTER: From Mr. Paul Rondelet to the Very Rev. Dean Maitland Post by :padin Category :Essays Author :Andrew Lang Date :August 2011 Read :3614

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Old Friends - Essays In Epistolary Parody - LETTER: From Mr. Paul Rondelet to the Very Rev. Dean Maitland

LETTER: From Mr. Paul Rondelet to the Very Rev. Dean Maitland


That Dean Maitland should have taken the political line indicated in Mr. Rondelet's letter will amaze no reader of 'The Silence of Dean Maitland.' That Mr. Paul Rondelet flew from his penny paper to a Paradise meet for him is a matter of congratulation to all but his creditors. He really is now in the only true Monastery of Thelema, and is simply dressed in an eye-glass and a cincture of pandanus flowers. The natives worship him, and he is the First AEsthetic Beach-comber.

Te-a-Iti, The Pacific.

Dear Maitland,--As my old friend and tutor at Lothian, you ask me to join the Oxford Home Rule Association. Excuse my delay in answering. Your letter was sent to that detested and long-deserted newspaper office in Fleet Street, and from Fleet Street to Te-a- Iti; thank Heaven! it is a long way. Were I at home, and still endeavouring to sway the masses, I might possibly accept your invitation. I dislike crowds, and I dislike shouting; but if shout I must, like you I would choose to chime in with the dingier and the larger and the more violent assembly. But, having perceived that the masses were very perceptibly learning to sway themselves, I have retired to Te-a-Iti. You have read "Epipsychidion," my dear Dean? And, in your time, no doubt you have loved? {15} Well, this is the Isle of Love, described, as in a dream, by the rapt fancy of Shelley. Urged, perhaps, by a reminiscence of the Great Aryan wave of migration, I have moved westward to this Paradise. Like Obermann, I hide my head "from the wild tempest of the age," but in a much dearer place than "chalets near the Alpine snow." Long ago I said, to one who would not listen, that "all the religions of the world are based on false foundations, resting on the Family, and fatally unsound." Here the Family, in our sense, has not been developed. Here no rules trammel the best and therefore the most evanescent of our affections. And as for Religion, it is based upon Me, on Rondelet of Lothian. Here nobody asks me why or how I am "superior." The artless natives at once perceived the fact, recognised me as a god, and worship me (do not shudder, my good Dean) with floral services. In Te-a-Iti (vain to look for it on the map!) I have found my place--a place far from the babel of your brutal politics, a place where I am addressed in liquid accents of adoration.

You may ask whether I endeavour to raise the islanders to my own level? It is the last thing that I would attempt. Culture they do not need: their dainty hieratic precisions of ritual are a sufficient culture in themselves. As I said once before, "it is an absurdity to speak of married people being one." Here we are an indefinite number; and no jealousy, no ambitious exclusiveness, mars the happiness of all. This is the Higher Life about which we used ignorantly to talk. Here the gross temporal necessities are satisfied with a breadfruit, a roasted fish, and a few pandanus flowers. The rest is all climate and the affections.

Conceive, my dear Dean, the undisturbed felicity of life without newspapers! Empires may fall, perhaps have fallen, since I left Fleet Street; Alan Dunlop may be a ditcher in good earnest on an estate no longer his; but here we fleet the time carelessly, as in the golden world. And you ask me to join a raucous political association for an object you detest in your heart, merely because you want to swim with the turbid democratic current! You are an historian, Maitland: did you ever know this policy succeed? Did you ever know the respectables prosper when they allied themselves with the vulgar? Ah, keep out of your second-hand revolutions. Keep your hands clean, whether you keep your head on your shoulders or not. You will never, I fear, be Bishop of Winkum, with all your historical handbooks and all your Oxford Liberalism.

But I am losing my temper, for the first time since I discovered Te-a-Iti. This must not be.--Yours regretfully,


P.S.--Don't give any one my address; some of these Oxford harpies are still unappeased. The only European I have seen was not an University man. He was a popular Scotch novelist, and carried Shorter Catechisms, which he distributed to my flock. I only hope he won't make "copy" out of me and my situation.

P. R.

{14} Owing to the sudden decease of the Dean in well-known and melancholy circumstances, this letter was not delivered.

{15} Alas, not wisely! But any careful reader of "The Silence of Dean Maitland" will see that the Baby was an anachronism.--ED.

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