ALTHOUGH the saint has had his day and the shrine
has become merely a curiosity, the pilgrim remains—as zealous as ever. The only difference is his motive, which, piety no longer, has changed to hero-worship. Possibly an element of hero-worship was always present; but be that as it may, it is now the compelling force. It draws American pilgrims • (1) 17Ie Canterbury Pilgrimage. By H. Snowden Ward. London : A. and C. Black. (6s.]—(2) The Old Road. By H. Belloc. London ; A. Constable and Co. Pls. Sd. net.]—(3) Tales of the Canterbunj Pitgrsnts. Retold from Chaucer and Others by P. J. Harvey partos. London Wells Gardner, Dorton- and CO. 1-66.2 across the Atlantic from New York to Stratford-on-Avon as powerfully as ever religion drew English pilgrims across the hills from Winchester to Canterbury ; and it impels men to write books as sedulously as the older spirit bent their heads over missals. Mr. Snowden Ward is as thorough a pilgrim in our new way as ever was Chaucer's most pious companion. He is the author not only of the present book, but of Shakespeare's Town and Times and The Beal Dickens Land, all of which are manuals for pilgrims like himself, literary hero-worshippers.
No one taking that very interesting path—the Pilgrim's Way—for a week's excursion can afford to neglect Mr. Ward's new volume, for, gossiping and popular as it may be, the meaning and character of the historic journey are certainly to be found in its pages, together with much curious lore and a number of useful photographs. The book begins with the history of Thomas e, Becket, and passes on to his death and canonisation and the importance of his relics in healing and mediation; then it takes up Chaucer and the Canterbury Tales ; and finally traces the Pilgrim's Way as it is to-day, and offers practical counsel to those that travel upon it. The scheme, it will be seen, is thorough, and Mr. Ward has collected enough information to be an interesting and enter-
As too often happens to-day, when literary competition is so brisk, at the time Mr. Ward was compiling his budget of Canterbury pilgrimage lore another and muter mind was also studying the Pilgrim's Way, and devoting a whole book to the task. Had Mr. Belloc's work been published in time for Mr. Ward to consult it before issuing his own conjectures, his book would often be the more valuable.
The opening paragraphs of Mr. Belloc's introductory essay on "The Road and the Fascination of Antiquity" contain some of the best writing in the volume, and most of its poetry :—
" There are primal things which move us. Fire has the character of a free companion that has travelled with us from the first exile ; only to see a fire, whether he need it or no, comforts every man. Again, to hear two voices outside at night after a silence, even in crowded cities, transforms the mind. A Roof also, large and mothering, satisfies us here in the north much more than modern necessity can explain; so we built in beginning : the only way to carry off our rains and to bear the weight of our winter snows. A Tower far off arrests a man's eye always : it is more than a break in the sky-line ; it is an enemy's watch or the rallying of a defence to whose aid we are summoned. Nor are these emotions a memory or a reversion only as one crude theory might pretend; we craved these things—the camp, the refuge, the sentinels in the dark, the hearth—before wo made them ; they are part of our human manner, and when this civili- zation has perished they will reappear. Of these primal things the least obvious, but the most important, is The Road. It does not strike the sense as do these others I have mentioned ; we are slow to feel its influence. We take it so much for granted that its original meaning escapes us. Men, indeed, whose pleasure it is perpetually to explore even their own country on foot, and to whom its every phase of climate is delightful, receive, somewhat tardily, the spirit of The Read. They feel a meaning in it ; it grows to suggest the towns upon it, it explains its own vagaries, and it gives a unity to all that has arisen along its way. But for the mass The Road is silent ; it is the humblest and the most subtle, but, as I have said, the greatest and the most original of the spells which we inherit from the earliest pioneers of our race. It was the most imperative and the first of our necessities. It is older than building and than wells ; before we were quite men we knew it, for the animals still have it to-day ; they seek their food and their drinking-places, and, as I believe, their assemblies, by known tracks which they have made."
That is good. Mr. Bello° then expresses the particular purpose of this pilgrimage :—
"For ray part I desired to step exactly in the footprints of such ancestors. I believed that, as I followed their hesitations at the river-crossings, as I climbed where they had climbed to a shrine whence they also had seen a wide plain, as I suffered the fatigue they suffered, and laboriously chose, as they had chosen, the proper soils for going, something of their much keener life would wake again in the blood I drew from them, and that in a sort I should forget the vileness of my own time, and renew for some few days the better freedom of that vigorous morning when men were already erect, articulate, and wor- shipping God, but not yet broken by complexity and the long accumulation of evil."
In other words, he would "recover the past," in the act of which "stuff and being are added to us ; our lives which, lived in the present only, are a film or surface, take on body—are lifted into one dimension more."
For this interesting essay we have nothing but Drains. But the book itself is less admirable. Mr. BeHoe has done his task very thoroughly,—more thoroughly perhaps than was necessary, for in its presentation he who was born to become high-spirited and romantic in the open air becomes scientific and, we are constrained to say, a little tedious. Not that be is ever dull; but we are not quite convinced of his authority in this matter. In his historic sense we believe, and wherever that has play he is sound enough. But we are doubtful of some of his very ingenious speculations. In what frame of mind he undertook the task of supplying Mr. Hyde's pictures with a suitable text we do not know, but we venture to doubt if he anticipated so serious an essay as he has written. It is a case, we fancy, of a subject controlling a writer instead of a writer controlling a subject. From Mr. Belloc we want such nimble fancies and gallant embroideries as no one else can produce, and however well he may discourse of geological strata and the effect of the tides we shall be disappointed. None the less, he has carried off his labour with fine address.
The pictures by Mr. William Hyde are wholly beautiful, saturated with grandeur and mystery, and sometimes con- veying a sense of peace and stillness before which one holds one's breath. For these alone The Old Road is a book to be acquired, apart from Mr. Belloc's interesting ingenuities.
To what extent Mr. Ward and Mr. Belloc will send people to Chaucer we cannot guess. Mr. Belloc probably would say that he wished not to send them to Chaucer but to the road, the hills ; and Mr. Ward perhaps is under the impression that he has by his paraphrases made Chaucer in the original unnecessary. But we hope that both books may be the means of reviving or stimulating interest in the great poet. Mr. F. J. Harvey Dayton's prose versions of the Canterbury Tales, which came out last year as a Christmas book—and a very admirable one—for children, should certainly be on the poet's side, too, for the author has introduced the stories with a very engaging picture of the old pilgrimage days and Chaucer's share in them, and Mr. Hugh Thomson's drawings are charming. We quote from the first chapter the following passage as a specimen of Mr. Darton's friendly and ingratia- ting manner of imparting the significance of the pilgrimage to children, and interesting them in it :— "A pilgrimage was one of the most popular of institutions. It was the custom for men to go long journeys at certain seasons to the shrines of famous saints, or to cathedrals and abbeys where relics of good and holy men were to be found, for it was believed that by travelling so far they showed their sorrow and penitence for any evil they had done ; and they sometimes endeavoured to display still deeper repentance by going barefoot or lightly clad, or in some other painful way. They made special vows at these shrines, for prayers at such places, by virtue of the saints and martyrs who had lived or died there, were thought to be of more power than those offered elsewhere Thus it was a frequent sight in the England of those days to see a band of pilgrims slowly going on their way through Kent, the country folk staring at the noise and dust of the gaily-clad little company, and all the dogs barking at their heels. Sometimes, indeed, a pilgrimage seemed nothing but an excuse for a lively and pleasant holiday, and the travellers often made themselves very merry on the road, with their loud jests and songs, and their flutes and fiddles and bagpipes. But there were very many who went with high thoughts in their hearts, garbed outwardly in accordance with the reverent purpose of their journey, wearing the sober robe and hat, and carrying the staff and scrip which were known as the proper weeds' for a serious pilgrim. And even those who turned the journey into a pleasant outing never forgot their real purpose in going, and were moved by a real religious feeling, in spite of all their light behaviour."
No child who reads this book, or hears it read aloud, is likely to forget it, and must some day come to want to read Chaucer and cross the hills on foot. It is also an excellent preparation for Mr. Ward's book, which might well be adopted as a history reader in schools, since it gives so excellent a picture of life in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, and is always interesting.
Thus the three books represent three stages. First Mr. Darton, as a romantic appetiser ; next Mr. Ward, with a budget of facts; next Mr. Belloc, with an imaginative theory ; and finally will come Chaucer, to whom each leads, who will endure when all these are no more,