The Romance of the First Radical by Andrew Lang

A PREHISTORIC APOLOGUE.

“Titius.  Le premier qui supprime un abus, comme on dit, est toujours victime du service qu’il rend.

Un Homme du Peuple.  C’est de sa faute!  Pourquoi se mêlé t’il de ce qui ne le regarde pas.”—Le Prêtre de Nemi.

The Devil, according to Dr. Johnson and other authorities, was the first Whig.  History tells us less about the first Radical—the first man who rebelled against the despotism of unintelligible customs, who asserted the rights of the individual against the claims of the tribal conscience, and who was eager to see society organized, off-hand, on what he thought a rational method.  In the absence of history, we must fall back on that branch of hypothetics which is known as prehistoric science.  We must reconstruct the Romance of the First Radical from the hints supplied by geology, and by the study of Radicals at large, and of contemporary savages among whom no Radical reformer has yet appeared.  In the following little apologue no trait of manners is invented.

The characters of our romance lived shortly after the close of the last glacial epoch in Europe, when the ice had partly withdrawn from the face of the world, and when land and sea had almost assumed their modern proportions.  At this period Europe was inhabited by scattered bands of human creatures, who roamed about its surface much as the black fellows used to roam over the Australian continent.  The various groups derived their names from various animals and other natural objects, such as the sun, the cabbage, serpents, sardines, crabs, leopards, bears, and hyænas.  It is important for our purpose to remember that all the children took their family name from the mother’s side.  If she were of the Hyæna clan, the children were Hyænas.  If the mother were tattooed with the badge of the Serpent, the children were Serpents, and so on.  No two persons of the same family name and crest might marry, on pain of death.  The man of the Bear family who dwelt by the Mediterranean might not ally himself with a woman of the Bear clan whose home was on the shores of the Baltic, and who was in no way related to him by consanguinity.  These details are dry, but absolutely necessary to the comprehension of the First Radical’s stormy and melancholy career.  We must also remember that, among the tribes, there was no fixed or monarchical government.  The little democratic groups were much influenced by the medicine-men or wizards, who combined the functions of the modern clergy and of the medical profession.  The old men, too, had some power; the braves, or warriors, constituted a turbulent oligarchy; the noisy outcries of the old women corresponded to the utterances of an intelligent daily press.  But the real ruler was a body of strange and despotic customs, the nature of which will become apparent as we follow the fortunes of the First Radical.

THE YOUTH OF WHY-WHY.

Why-Why, as our hero was commonly called in the tribe, was born, long before Romulus built his wall, in a cave which may still be observed in the neighbourhood of Mentone.  On the warm shores of the Mediterranean, protected from winds by a wall of rock, the group of which Why-Why was the offspring had attained conditions of comparative comfort.  The remains of their dinners, many feet deep, still constitute the flooring of the cave, and the tourist, as he pokes the soil with the point of his umbrella, turns up bits of bone, shreds of chipped flint, and other interesting relics.  In the big cave lived several little families, all named by the names of their mothers.  These ladies had been knocked on the head and dragged home, according to the marriage customs of the period, from places as distant as the modern Marseilles and Genoa.  Why-Why, with his little brothers and sisters, were named Serpents, were taught to believe that the serpent was the first ancestor of their race, and that they must never injure any creeping thing.  When they were still very young, the figure of the serpent was tattooed over their legs and breasts, so that every member of primitive society who met them had the advantage of knowing their crest and highly respectable family name.

The birth of Why-Why was a season of discomfort and privation.  The hill tribe which lived on the summit of the hill now known as the Tête du Chien had long been aware that an addition to the population of the cave was expected.  They had therefore prepared, according to the invariable etiquette of these early times, to come down on the cave people, maltreat the ladies, steal all the property they could lay hands on, and break whatever proved too heavy to carry.  Good manners, of course, forbade the cave people to resist this visit, but etiquette permitted (and in New Caledonia still permits) the group to bury and hide its portable possessions.  Canoes had been brought into the little creek beneath the cave, to convey the women and children into a safe retreat, and the men were just beginning to hide the spears, bone daggers, flint fish-hooks, mats, shell razors, nets, and so forth, when Why-Why gave an early proof of his precocity by entering the world some time before his arrival was expected.

Instantly all was confusion.  The infant, his mother and the other non-combatants of the tribe, were bundled into canoes and paddled, through a tempestuous sea, to the site of the modern Bordighiera.  The men who were not with the canoes fled into the depths of the Gorge Saint Louis, which now severs France from Italy.  The hill tribe came down at the double, and in a twinkling had “made hay” (to borrow a modern agricultural expression) of all the personal property of the cave dwellers.  They tore the nets (the use of which they did not understand), they broke the shell razors, they pouched the opulent store of flint arrowheads and bone daggers, and they tortured to death the pigs, which the cave people had just begun to try to domesticate.  After performing these rites, which were perfectly legal—indeed, it would have been gross rudeness to neglect them—the hill people withdrew to their wind-swept home on the Tête du Chien.

Philosophers who believe in the force of early impressions will be tempted to maintain that Why-Why’s invincible hatred of established institutions may be traced to these hours of discomfort in which his life began.

The very earliest years of Why-Why, unlike those of Mr. John Stuart Mill, whom in many respects he resembled, were not distinguished by proofs of extraordinary intelligence.  He rather promptly, however, showed signs of a sceptical character.  Like other sharp children, Why-Why was always asking metaphysical conundrums.  Who made men?  Who made the sun?  Why has the cave-bear such a hoarse voice?  Why don’t lobsters grow on trees?—he would incessantly demand.  In answer to these and similar questions, the mother of Why-Why would tell him stories out of the simple mythology of the tribe.  There was quite a store of traditional replies to inquisitive children, replies sanctioned by antiquity and by the authority of the medicine-men, and in this lore Why-Why’s mother was deeply versed.

Thus, for example, Why-Why would ask his mother who made men.  She would reply that long ago Pund-jel, the first man, made two images of human beings in clay, and stuck on curly bark for hair.  He then danced a corroboree round them, and sang a song.  They rose up, and appeared as full-grown men.  To this statement, hallowed by immemorial belief, Why-Why only answered by asking who made Pund-jel.  His mother said that Pund-jel came out of a plot of reeds and rushes.  Why-Why was silent, but thought in his heart that the whole theory was “bosh-bosh,” to use the early reduplicative language of these remote times.  Nor could he conceal his doubts about the Deluge and the frog who once drowned all the world.  Here is the story of the frog:—“Once, long ago, there was a big frog.  He drank himself full of water.  He could not get rid of the water.  Once he saw a sand-eel dancing on his tail by the sea-shore.  It made him laugh so that he burst, and all the water ran out.  There was a great flood, and every one was drowned except two or three men and women, who got on an island.  Past came the pelican, in a canoe; he took off the men, but wanting to marry the woman, kept her to the last.  She wrapped up a log in a ’possum rug to deceive the pelican, and swam to shore and escaped.  The pelican was very angry; he began to paint himself white, to show that he was on the war trail, when past came another pelican, did not like his looks, and killed him with his beak.  That is why pelicans are partly black and white, if you want to know, my little dear,” said the mother of Why-Why.

Many stories like this were told in the cave, but they found no credit with Why-Why.  When he was but ten years old, his inquiring spirit showed itself in the following remarkable manner.  He had always been informed that a serpent was the mother of his race, and that he must treat serpents with the greatest reverence.  To kill one was sacrilege.  In spite of this, he stole out unobserved and crushed a viper which had stung his little brother.  He noticed that no harm ensued, and this encouraged him to commit a still more daring act.  None but the old men and the warriors were allowed to eat oysters.  It was universally held that if a woman or a child touched an oyster, the earth would open and swallow the culprit.  Not daunted by this prevalent belief, Why-Why one day devoured no less than four dozen oysters, opening the shells with a flint spear-head, which he had secreted in his waist-band.  The earth did not open and swallow him as he had swallowed the oysters, and from that moment he became suspicious of all the ideas and customs imposed by the old men and wizards.

Two or three touching incidents in domestic life, which occurred when Why-Why was about twelve years old, confirmed him in the dissidence of his dissent, for the first Radical was the first Dissenter.  The etiquette of the age (which survives among the Yorubas and other tribes) made it criminal for a woman to see her husband, or even to mention his name.  When, therefore, the probable father of Why-Why became weary of supporting his family, he did not need to leave the cave and tramp abroad.  He merely ceased to bring in tree-frogs, grubs, roots, and the other supplies which Why-Why’s mother was accustomed to find concealed under a large stone in the neighbourhood of the cave.

The poor pious woman, who had always religiously abstained from seeing her lord’s face, and from knowing his name, was now reduced to destitution.  There was no one to grub up pig-nuts for her, nor to extract insects of an edible sort from beneath the bark of trees.  As she could not identify her invisible husband, she was unable to denounce him to the wizards, who would, for a consideration, have frightened him out of his life or into the performance of his duty.  Thus, even with the aid of Why-Why, existence became too laborious for her strength, and she gradually pined away.  As she lay in a half-fainting and almost dying state, Why-Why rushed out to find the most celebrated local medicine-man.  In half an hour the chief medicine-man appeared, dressed in the skin of a wolf, tagged about with bones, skulls, dead lizards, and other ornaments of his official attire.  You may see a picture very like him in Mr. Catlin’s book about the Mandans.  Armed with a drum and a rattle, he leaped into the presence of the sick woman, uttering unearthly yells.  His benevolent action and “bedside manner” were in accordance with the medical science of the time.  He merely meant to frighten away the evil spirit which (according to the received hypothesis) was destroying the mother of Why-Why.  What he succeeded in doing was to make Why-Why’s mother give a faint scream, after which her jaw fell, and her eyes grew fixed and staring.

The grief of Why-Why was profound.  Reckless of consequences, he declared, with impious publicity, that the law which forbade a wife to see her own husband, and the medical science which frightened poor women to death were cruel and ridiculous.  As Why-Why (though a promising child) was still under age, little notice was taken of remarks which were attributed to the petulance of youth.  But when he went further, and transgressed the law which then forbade a brother to speak to his own sister, on pain of death, the general indignation was no longer repressed.  In vain did Why-Why plead that if he neglected his sister no one else would comfort her.  His life was spared, but the unfortunate little girl’s bones were dug up by a German savant last year, in a condition which makes it only too certain that cannibalism was practised by the early natives of the Mediterranean coast.  These incidents then, namely, the neglect of his unknown father, the death of his mother, and the execution of his sister, confirmed Why-Why in the belief that radical social reforms were desirable.

The coming of age of Why-Why was celebrated in the manner usual among primitive people.  The ceremonies were not of a character to increase his pleasure in life, nor his respect for constituted authority.  When he was fourteen years of age, he was pinned, during his sleep, by four adult braves, who knocked out his front teeth, shaved his head with sharp chips of quartzite, cut off the first joint of his little finger, and daubed his whole body over with clay.  They then turned him loose, imposing on him his name of Why-Why; and when his shaven hair began to show through the clay daubing, the women of the tribe washed him, and painted him black and white.  The indignation of Why-Why may readily be conceived.  Why, he kept asking, should you shave a fellow’s head, knock out his teeth, cut off his little finger, daub him with clay, and paint him like a pelican, because he is fourteen years old?  To these radical questions, the braves (who had all lost their own front teeth) replied, that this was the custom of their fathers.  They tried to console him, moreover, by pointing out that now he might eat oysters, and catch himself a bride from some hostile tribe, or give his sister in exchange for a wife.  This was little comfort to Why-Why.  He had eaten oysters already without supernatural punishment, and his sister, as we have seen, had suffered the extreme penalty of the law.  Nor could our hero persuade himself that to club and carry off a hostile girl in the dark was the best way to win a loving wife.  He remained single, and became a great eater of oysters.

THE MANHOOD OF WHY-WHY.

As time went on our hero developed into one of the most admired braves of his community.  No one was more successful in battle, and it became almost a proverb that when Why-Why went on the war-path there was certain to be meat enough and to spare, even for the women.  Why-Why, though a Radical, was so far from perfect that he invariably complied with the usages of his time when they seemed rational and useful.  If a little tattooing on the arm would have saved men from a horrible disease, he would have had all the tribe tattooed.  He was no bigot.  He kept his word, and paid his debts, for no one was ever very “advanced” all at once.  It was only when the ceremonious or superstitious ideas of his age and race appeared to him senseless and mischievous that he rebelled, or at least hinted his doubts and misgivings.  This course of conduct made him feared and hated both by the medicine-men, or clerical wizards, and by the old women of the tribe.  They naturally tried to take their revenge upon him in the usual way.

A charge of heresy, of course, could not well be made, for in the infancy of our race there were neither Courts of Arches nor General Assemblies.  But it was always possible to accuse Why-Why of malevolent witchcraft.  The medicine-men had not long to wait for an opportunity.  An old woman died, as old women will, and every one was asking “Who sent the evil spirit that destroyed poor old Dada?”  In Why-Why’s time no other explanation of natural death by disease or age was entertained.  The old woman’s grave was dug, and all the wizards intently watched for the first worm or insect that should crawl out of the mould.  The head-wizard soon detected a beetle, making, as he alleged, in the direction where Why-Why stood observing the proceedings.  The wizard at once denounced our hero as the cause of the old woman’s death.  To have blenched for a moment would have been ruin.  But Why-Why merely lifted his hand, and in a moment a spear flew from it which pinned his denouncer ignominiously to a pine-tree.  The funeral of the old woman was promptly converted into a free fight, in which there was more noise than bloodshed.  After this event the medicine-men left Why-Why to his own courses, and waited for a chance of turning public opinion against the sceptic.

The conduct of Why-Why was certainly calculated to outrage all conservative feeling.  When on the war-path or in the excitement of the chase he had even been known to address a tribesman by his name, as “Old Cow,” or “Flying Cloud,” or what not, instead of adopting the orthodox nomenclature of the classificatory system, and saying, “Third cousin by the mother’s side, thrice removed, will you lend me an arrow?” or whatever it might be.  On “tabu-days,” once a week, when the rest of the people in the cave were all silent, sedentary, and miserable (from some superstitious feeling which we can no longer understand), Why-Why would walk about whistling, or would chip his flints or set his nets.  He ought to have been punished with death, but no one cared to interfere with him.

Instead of dancing at the great “corroborees,” or religious ballets of his people, he would “sit out” with a girl whose sad, romantic history became fatally interwoven with his own.  In vain the medicine-men assured him that Pund-jel, the great spirit, was angry.  Why-Why was indifferent to the thunder which was believed to be the voice of Pund-jel.  His behaviour at the funeral of a celebrated brave actually caused what we would call a reformation in burial ceremonies.

It was usual to lay the corpses of the famous dead in a cave, where certain of the tribesmen were sent to watch for forty days and nights the decaying body.  This ghastly task was made more severe by the difficulty of obtaining food.  Everything that the watchers were allowed to eat was cooked outside the cave with complicated ceremonies.  If any part of the ritual was omitted, if a drop or a morsel were spilled, the whole rite had to be done over again from the beginning.  This was not all.  The chief medicine-man took a small portion of the meat in a long spoon, and entered the sepulchral cavern.  In the dim light he approached one of the watchers of the dead, danced before him, uttered a mysterious formula of words, and made a shot at the hungry man’s mouth with a long spoon.  If the shot was straight, if the spoon did not touch the lips or nose or mouth, the watcher made ready to receive a fresh spoonful.  But if the attempt failed, if the spoon did not go straight to the mark, the mourners were obliged to wait till all the cooking ceremonies were performed afresh, when the feeding began again.

Now, Why-why was a mourner whom the chief medicine-man was anxious to “spite,” as children say, and at the end of three days’ watching our hero had not received a morsel of food.  The spoon had invariably chanced to miss him.  On the fourth night Why-Why entertained his fellow-watchers with a harangue on the imbecility of the whole proceeding.  He walked out of the cave, kicked the chief medicine-man into a ravine, seized the pot full of meat, brought it back with him, and made a hearty meal.  The other mourners, half dead with fear, expected to see the corpse they were “waking” arise, “girn,” and take some horrible revenge.  Nothing of the sort occurred, and the burials of the cave dwellers gradually came to be managed in a less irksome way.

THE LOVES OF VERVA AND WHY-WHY.

No man, however intrepid, can offend with impunity the most sacred laws of society.  Why-Why proved no exception to this rule.  His decline and fall date, we may almost say, from the hour when he bought a fair-haired, blue-eyed female child from a member of a tribe that had wandered out of the far north.  The tribe were about to cook poor little Verva because her mother was dead, and she seemed a bouche inutile.  For the price of a pair of shell fish-hooks, a bone dagger, and a bundle of grass-string Why-Why (who had a tender heart) ransomed the child.  In the cave she lived an unhappy life, as the other children maltreated and tortured her in the manner peculiar to pitiless infancy.

Such protection as a man can give to a child the unlucky little girl received from Why-Why.  The cave people, like most savages, made it a rule never to punish their children.  Why-Why got into many quarrels because he would occasionally box the ears of the mischievous imps who tormented poor Verva, the fair-haired and blue-eyed captive from the north.  There grew up a kind of friendship between Why-Why and the child.  She would follow him with dog-like fidelity and with a stealthy tread when he hunted the red deer in the forests of the Alpine Maritimes.  She wove for him a belt of shells, strung on stout fibres of grass.  In this belt Why-Why would attend the tribal corroborees, where, as has been said, he was inclined to “sit out” with Verva and watch, rather than join in the grotesque dance performed as worship to the Bear.

As Verva grew older and ceased to be persecuted by the children, she became beautiful in the unadorned manner of that early time.  Her friendship with Why-Why began to embarrass the girl, and our hero himself felt a quite unusual shyness when he encountered the captive girl among the pines on the hillside.  Both these untutored hearts were strangely stirred, and neither Why-Why nor Verva could imagine wherefore they turned pale or blushed when they met, or even when either heard the other’s voice.  If Why-Why had not distrusted and indeed detested the chief medicine-man, he would have sought that worthy’s professional advice.  But he kept his symptoms to himself, and Verva also pined in secret.

These artless persons were in love without knowing it.

It is not surprising that they did not understand the nature of their complaint, for probably before Why-Why no one had ever been in love.  Courtship had consisted in knocking a casual girl on the head in the dark, and the only marriage ceremony had been that of capture.  Affection on the side of the bride was out of the question, for, as we have remarked, she was never allowed so much as to see her husband’s face.  Probably the institution of falling in love has been evolved in, and has spread from, various early centres of human existence.  Among the primitive Ligurian races, however, Why-Why and Verva must be held the inventors, and, alas! the protomartyrs of the passion.  Love, like murder, “will out,” and events revealed to Why-Why and Verva the true nature of their sentiments.

It was a considerable exploit of Why-Why’s that brought him and the northern captive to understand each other.  The brother of Why-Why had died after partaking too freely of a member of a hostile tribe.  The cave people, of course, expected Why-Why to avenge his kinsman.  The brother, they said, must have been destroyed by a boilya or vampire, and, as somebody must have sent that vampire against the lad, somebody must be speared for it.  Such are primitive ideas of medicine and justice.  An ordinary brave would have skulked about the dwellings of some neighbouring human groups till he got a chance of knocking over a child or an old woman, after which justice and honour would have been satisfied.  But Why-Why declared that, if he must spear somebody, he would spear a man of importance.  The forms of a challenge were therefore notched on a piece of stick, which was solemnly carried by heralds to the most renowned brave of a community settled in the neighbourhood of the modern San Remo.  This hero might have very reasonably asked, “Why should I spear Why-Why because his brother over-ate himself?”  The laws of honour, however (which even at this period had long been established), forbade a gentleman when challenged to discuss the reasonableness of the proceeding.

The champions met on a sandy plain beside a little river near the modern Ventimiglia.  An amphitheatre of rock surrounded them, and, far beyond, the valley was crowned by the ancient snow of an Alpine peak.  The tribes of either party gathered in the rocky amphitheatre, and breathlessly watched the issue of the battle.  Each warrior was equipped with a shield, a sheaf of spears, and a heavy, pointed club.  At thirty paces distance they began throwing, and the spectators enjoyed a beautiful exposition of warlike skill.  Both men threw with extreme force and deadly aim; while each defended himself cleverly with his shield.  The spears were exhausted, and but one had pierced the thigh of Why-Why, while his opponent had two sticking in his neck and left arm.

Then, like two meeting thunder-clouds, the champions dashed at each other with their clubs.  The sand was whirled up around them as they spun in the wild dance of battle, and the clubs rattled incessantly on the heads and shields.  Twice Why-Why was down, but he rose with wonderful agility, and never dropped his shield.  A third time he stooped beneath a tremendous whack, but when all seemed over, grasped a handful of sand, and flung it right in his enemy’s eyes.  The warrior reeled, blinded and confused, when Why-Why gave point with the club in his antagonist’s throat; the blood leaped out, and both fell senseless on the plain.

* * * * *

When the slow mist cleared from before the eyes of Why-Why he found himself (he was doubtless the first hero of the many heroes who have occupied this romantic position) stretched on a grassy bed, and watched by the blue eyes of Verva.  Where were the sand, the stream, the hostile warrior, the crowds of friends and foes?  It was Verva’s part to explain.  The champion of the other tribe had never breathed after he received the club-thrust, and the chief medicine-man had declared that Why-Why was also dead.  He had suggested that both champions should be burned in the desolate spot where they lay, that their boilyas, or ghosts, might not harm the tribes.  The lookers-on had gone to their several and distant caves to fetch fire for the ceremony (they possessed no means of striking a light), and Verva, unnoticed, had lingered beside Why-Why, and laid his bleeding head in her lap.  Why-Why had uttered a groan, and the brave girl dragged him from the field into a safe retreat among the woods not far from the stream.  Why-Why had been principally beaten about the head, and his injuries, therefore, were slight.

After watching the return of the tribesmen, and hearing the chief medicine-man explain that Why-Why’s body had been carried away by “the bad black-fellow with a tail who lives under the earth,” Why-Why enjoyed the pleasure of seeing his kinsmen and his foes leave the place to its natural silence.  Then he found words, and poured forth his heart to Verva.  They must never be sundered—they must be man and wife!  The girl leaned her golden head on Why-Why’s dark shoulder, and sniffed at him, for kissing was an institution not yet evolved.  She wept.  She had a dreadful thing to tell him,—that she could never be his.  “Look at this mark,” she said, exposing the inner side of her arm.  Why-Why looked, shuddered, and turned pale.  On Verva’s arm he recognized, almost defaced, the same tattooed badge that wound its sinuous spirals across his own broad chest and round his manly legs.  It was the mark of the Serpent!

Both were Serpents; both, unknown to Why-Why, though not to Verva, bore the same name, the same badge, and, if Why-Why had been a religious man, both would have worshipped the same reptile.  Marriage between them then was a thing accursed; man punished it by death.  Why-Why bent his head and thought.  He remembered all his youth—the murder of his sister for no crime; the killing of the serpent, and how no evil came of it; the eating of the oysters, and how the earth had not opened and swallowed him.  His mind was made up.  It was absolutely certain that his tribe and Verva’s kin had never been within a thousand miles of each other.  In a few impassioned words he explained to Verva his faith, his simple creed that a thing was not necessarily wrong because the medicine-men said so, and the tribe believed them.  The girl’s own character was all trustfulness, and Why-Why was the person she trusted.  “Oh, Why-Why, dear,” she said blushing (for she had never before ventured to break the tribal rule which forbade calling any one by his name), “Oh, Why-Why, you are always right!”

And o’er the hills, and far away
   Beyond their utmost purple rim,
Beyond the night, across the day,
   Through all the world she followed him.

LA MORT WHY-WHY.

Two years had passed like a dream in the pleasant valley which, in far later ages, the Romans called Vallis Aurea, and which we call Vallauris.  Here, at a distance of some thirty miles from the cave and the tribe, dwelt in fancied concealment Why-Why and Verva.  The clear stream was warbling at their feet, in the bright blue weather of spring; the scent of the may blossoms was poured abroad, and, lying in the hollow of Why-Why’s shield, a pretty little baby with Why-Why’s dark eyes and Verva’s golden locks was crowing to his mother.  Why-Why sat beside her, and was busily making the first European pipkin with the clay which he had found near Vallauris.  All was peace.

* * * * *

There was a low whizzing sound, something seemed to rush past Why-Why, and with a scream Verva fell on her face.  A spear had pierced her breast.  With a yell like that of a wounded lion, Why-Why threw himself on the bleeding body of his bride.  For many moments he heard no sound but her long, loud and unconscious breathing.  He did not mark the yells of his tribesmen, nor feel the spears that rained down on himself, nor see the hideous face of the chief medicine-man peering at his own.  Verva ceased to breathe.  There was a convulsion, and her limbs were still.  Then Why-Why rose.  In his right hand was his famous club, “the watcher of the fords;” in his left his shield.  These had never lain far from his hand since he fled with Verva.

He knew that the end had come, as he had so often dreamt of it; he knew that he was trapped and taken by his offended tribesmen.  His first blow shattered the head of the chief medicine-man.  Then he flung himself, all bleeding from the spears, among the press of savages who started from every lentisk bush and tuft of tall flowering heath.  They gave back when four of their chief braves had fallen, and Why-Why lacked strength and will to pursue them.  He turned and drew Verva’s body beneath the rocky wall, and then he faced his enemies.  He threw down shield and club and raised his hands.  A light seemed to shine about his face, and his first word had a strange tone that caught the ear and chilled the heart of all who heard him.  “Listen,” he said, “for these are the last words of Why-Why.  He came like the water, and like the wind he goes, he knew not whence, and he knows not whither.  He does not curse you, for you are that which you are.  But the day will come” (and here Why-Why’s voice grew louder and his eyes burned), “the day will come when you will no longer be the slave of things like that dead dog,” and here he pointed to the shapeless face of the slain medicine-man.  “The day will come, when a man shall speak unto his sister in loving kindness, and none shall do him wrong.  The day will come when a woman shall unpunished see the face and name the name of her husband.  As the summers go by you will not bow down to the hyænas, and the bears, and worship the adder and the viper.  You will not cut and bruise the bodies of your young men, or cruelly strike and seize away women in the darkness.  Yes, and the time will be when a man may love a woman of the same family name as himself”—but here the outraged religion of the tribesmen could endure no longer to listen to these wild and blasphemous words.  A shower of spears flew out, and Why-Why fell across the body of Verva.  His own was “like a marsh full of reeds,” said the poet of the tribe, in a song which described these events, “so thick the spears stood in it.”

* * * * *

When he was dead, the tribe knew what they had lost in Why-Why.  They bore his body, with that of Verva, to the cave; there they laid the lovers—Why-Why crowned with a crown of sea-shells, and with a piece of a rare magical substance (iron) at his side.  Then the tribesmen withdrew from that now holy ground, and built them houses, and forswore the follies of the medicine-men, as Why-Why had prophesied.  Many thousands of years later the cave was opened when the railway to Genoa was constructed, and the bones of Why-Why, with the crown, and the fragment of iron, were found where they had been laid by his repentant kinsmen.  He had bravely asserted the rights of the individual conscience against the dictates of Society; he had lived, and loved, and died, not in vain.  Last April I plucked a rose beside his cave, and laid it with another that had blossomed at the door of the last house which covered the homeless head of SHELLEY.

The prophecies of Why-Why have been partially fulfilled.  Brothers, if they happen to be on speaking terms, may certainly speak to their sisters, though we are still, alas, forbidden to marry the sisters of our deceased wives.  Wives may see their husbands, though in Society, they rarely avail themselves of the privilege.  Young ladies are still forbidden to call young men at large by their Christian names; but this tribal law, and survival of the classificatory system, is rapidly losing its force.  Burials in the savage manner to which Why-Why objected, will soon, doubtless, be permitted to conscientious Nonconformists in the graveyards of the Church of England.  The teeth of boys are still knocked out at public and private schools, but the ceremony is neither formal nor universal.  Our advance in liberty is due to an army of forgotten Radical martyrs of whom we know less than we do of Mr. Bradlaugh.