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Seven o'clock in the evening. - Clémence has been ringing again, during the last half-hour of the scrutin. Now that she has stopped, the silence has a terrible seriousness, like that which weighs upon a crowd when it is waiting for the return of the judge and the delivery of the death sentence. The fate of the Genevese church and country is now in the voting box.
Eleven o'clock in the evening. — Victory along the whole line. The Ayes have carried little more than two-sevenths of the vote. At my friend -'s house I found them all full of excitement, gratitude, and joy.
5th July 1880. — There are some words which have still a magical virtue with the mass of the people: those of State, Republic, Country, Nation, Flag, and even, I think, Church. Our sceptical and mocking culture knows nothing of the emotion, the exaltation, the delirium, which these words awaken in simple people. The blasés of the world have no idea how the popular mind vibrates to these appeals, by which they themselves are untouched. It is their punishment; it is also their infirmity.
Their temper is satirical and separatist; they live in isolation and sterility.
I feel again what I felt at the time of the Rousseau centenary ; my feeling and imagination are chilled and repelled by those Pharisaical people who think themselves too good to associate with the crowd.
At the same time, I suffer from an inward contradiction, from a twofold, instinctive repugnance
- an æsthetic repugnance towards vulgarity of every kind, a moral repugnance towards barrenness and cold. ness of heart.
So that personally I am only attracted by the individuals of cultivation and eminence, while on the other hand nothing is sweeter to me than to feel myself vibrating in sympathy with the national spirit, with the feeling of the masses. I only care for the two extremes, and it is this which separates me from each of them.
Our everyday life, split up as it is into clashing parties and opposed opinions, and harassed by perpetual disorder and discussion, is painful and almost hateful to me. A thousand things irritate and provoke me. But perhaps it would be the same elsewhere. Very likely it is the inevitable way of the world which displeases me - the
sight of what succeeds, of what men approve or blame, of what they excuse or
I need to admire, to feel myself in sympathy and in harmony with my neighbour, with the march of things, and the tendencies of those around me, and almost always I have had to give up the hope of it. I take refuge in retreat, to avoid discord. But solitude is only a pis-aller.
6th July 1880. — Magnificent weather. The college prize-day.* Towards evening I went with our three ladies to the plain of Plainpalais. There was an immense crowd, and I was struck with the bright look of the faces. The festival wound up with the traditional fireworks, under a calm and starry sky. Here we have the Republic indeed, I thought as I came in.
For a whole week this people has been out-ofdoors, camping, like the Athenians on the Agora. Since Wednesday lectures and public meetings have followed one another without intermission; at home there are pamphlets and the newspapers to be read; while speech-making goes on at the clubs. On Sunday, plebiscite; Monday, public pro
* The prize-giving at the College of Geneva is made the occasion of a national festival.
cession, service at St. Pierre, speeches on the Molard, festival for the adults. Tuesday, the college fête-day. Wednesday, the fête-day of the primary schools.
Geneva is a cauldron always at boilingpoint, a furnace of which the fires are never extinguished. Vulcan had more than one forge, and Geneva is certainly one of those world-anvils on which the greatest number of projects have been hammered out. When one thinks that the martyrs of all causes have been at work here, the mystery is explained a little ; but the truest explanation is that Geneva, — republican, protestant, democratic, learned, and enterprising Geneva — has for centuries depended on herself alone for the solution of her own difficulties. Since the Reformation she has been always on the alert, marching with a lantern in her left hand and a sword in her right. It pleases me to see that she has not yet become a mere copy of anything, and that she is still capable of deciding for herself. Those who say to her, "Do as they do at New York, at Paris, at Rome, at Berlin,' are still in the minority. The doctrinaires who would split her up and destroy her unity waste their breath upon her. She divines the snare laid for her and turns away. I like this proof of vitality. Only that which is original has a sufficient reason for existence. A country in which the word of command comes from elsewhere is nothing more than a province. This is what our Jacobins and our Ultramontanes never will recognise. Neither of them understand the meaning of self-government, and neither of them have any idea of the dignity of a historical state and an independent people.
Our small nationalities are ruined by the hollow cosmopolitan formulæ which have an equally disastrous effect upon art and letters. The modern isms are so many acids which dissolve everything living and concrete. No one achieves a masterpiece, nor even a decent piece of work, by the help of realism, liberalism, or romanticism. Separatism has even less virtue than any of the other isms, for it is the abstraction of a negation, the shadow of a shadow. The various isms of the present are not fruitful principles : they are hardly even explanatory formulæ. They are rather names of disease, for they express some element in excess, some dangerous and abusive exaggeration. Examples : empiricism, idealism, radicalism. What is best among things and