Originally from, currently via Cat Yronwode.
THE ARTISTIC TEMPERAMENT
Jack Flynn was the centre of a happy group of artists. They
were seated upon the terrace of the Café d'Alençon to drink
the apéritif; for although November was upon Paris, the Sun
still remembered his beloved city, and fed it with light and
Flynn had come over from London for a week to see the Autumn
Salon, and to gossip with his old friends. The conversation
was naturally of Art, and, like the universe itself, had
neither beginning nor end, being self-created by its own
energy, so rolled easily through the Aeons in every
combination of beauty.
But half of beauty is melancholy, a subtle subcurrent of
sadness; and on this particular occasion it was visible,
giving a grey tone to the most buoyant rhapsodies. The
talkers were in fact subdued and restrained; each spoke
gaily, yet stood upon his guard, as if there were some
subject near his consciousness which he must be careful not
It was a curiously distinguished group. Two of the men wore
the Légion d'Honneur; the elder of the two, who looked more
like a soldier or a diplomat than a painter, seemed to be
the object of constant solicitude on the part of the
younger, whose ruddy, cheerful ironic face was like a
picture by Franz Hals-but a Franz Hals in the mood of
Rabelais. He seemed particularly anxious lest the other
should say something unfortunate, but he should really have
been looking round the corner, for there was where the
Round that corner, all arms and legs, came swinging the
agile body of no less a person than the mystic, Simon Iff.
His first greeting was the bombshell! "Ah ha!'' he cried,
grasping the hand of the elder of the two decores. "and
how's the dear old Sea?" For the person addressed happened
to be famous all over the world as a marine painter. The
younger man sprang to his feet. "Just don't mention the sea,
please, for a few months!" he said in Simon's ear. It was
unnecessary. Even in the general joy at the return of an old
friend, Iff's quick apprehension could not fail to detect a
suppressed spasm of pain on every face.
The mystic turned and greeted the man who had interrupted
him with honest gladness; then his other hand shot out to
Flynn. "I've been out of the world all summer," he cried,
shaking hands all round, "in a hermitage after my own heart.
Fancy a castle dating from the crusades, on the very edge of
a glacier, and every practicable route barred against the
world the flesh, and the devil, in the shape of tourists,
tables d'hôte, and newspapers!'' "You look thirty!''
declared one of the men. "And I feel twenty," laughed the
magician; "what do you say to a little dinner at Lapérouse?
I want to walk across the Luxembourg to a feast, as I've
done any time these fifty years!"
As it happened, only two of the party were free; Major, the
young man with the button, and Jack Flynn.
After some quiet chat the three strolled off together, arm
in arm, down the Boulevard Montparnasse.
When they reached the Avenue de l'Observatoire, they turned
down that noble grove. Here, at all hours of day and night,
is a stately solitude. Intended for gaiety, devised as a
symbol of gaiety by the most frivolous age of all time, it
has become by virtue of age the very incarnation of
melancholy grandeur. It seems almost to lament that
eighteenth century which fathered it.
Before they had passed into this majesty more than an
hundred yards, the mystic said abruptly: "What's the
"Haven't you really seen a paper for six months?'' countered
"Of course I haven't. You know my life; you know that I
retire, whenever I am able, from this nightmare illusion of
matter to a world of reality. So tell me your latest evil
"Evil enough!" said Major, "it doesn't actually touch us,
but it's a narrow escape. We only heard the climax three
days ago; so it's a green wound, you see."
"Yet it doesn't touch you."
"No; but it touches Art, and that's me, all right!''
"Will you tell me the story?"
"I´ll leave that to Flynn. He´s been on the trail all the
"I was even at the trial.'' said Flynn.
"Come, come'' laughed Iff "all these be riddles.''
"I'll make them clear enough-all but the one. Now, no
interruptions! I have the thing orderly in my mind.''
"Five: four three: two one: gun!"
"The place is a small rocky islet off the west coast of
Scotland, by name Dubhbheagg. A few fisher-folk live there;
nobody else. There is one landing-place, and one only, even
in calm weather; in a storm it is inaccessible altogether.
Overlooking this quay is a house perched on the cliff; an
old stone mansion. The proprietor is one of our sacred
guild, and spends most of his time in Central Asia or
Central Africa or Central America or Central
Australia-anything to be central!- and he lets the house to
any one who is fool enough to pay the price.
"This summer it was rented by the president of the Royal
"What's that?" said Iff, sharply.
"The Royal Academy," explained Flynn, is an institution
devised by divine Providence for the detection of British
Artists. It brings them into notice by ostentatiously
rejecting their works. The president is Lord Cudlipp."
"Wasn't he a Joseph Thorne, or some such name?" asked Simon
"Thornton, I think. Ennobled thirteen years ago," corrected
"It was Thornley," insisted the sculptor, Major.
"Yes, Thornley; I remember now. I know him slightly; and I
knew his father before him; an M.P and a biscuit
manufacturer," exclaimed the mystic.
"A pity the son didn't follow the father," murmured Major.
"I feel sure that his biscuits would have been delightful!"
"You're interrupting the court," protested the editor "To
proceed. Here we have Cudlipp in the Big House of
Dubhbheagg, with a man and wife to cook for him, both old
servants, with him thirty years. There are also his son
Harry, his daughter Eleanor, her companionmaid, and-a man
from the Quarter!"
"Up in Montrouge his studio is, I think, one of those lost
cottages with a garden in the middle of a block of houses.
Well, this man, or rather boy, he's not twentyyet, is, or
wants to be, a marine painter like Cudlipp-"
"God forbid!" groaned the Major.
"Shut up! the boy's name is Andre de Bry; he's half Frenchf,
half English, I believe, a pretty hot combination."
"So I've noticed, remarked Iff, as they turned into
Lapérouse, crept up the narrow stair, and found a table by
the window in the Salle de Miroirs.
"Harry and Eleanor were born seventeen years ago, twins"
"Which is dead?" interrupted Iff. The others stared.
"Excuse an old man's vanity!" laughed the mystic. "I really
have to show off sometimes! You see, I know Jack's passion
for precision of language. He wouldn't say the simple thing,
`They are twins,' or `They are seventeen years old,' and he
wouldn't say `They were twins,' or `were seventeen years
old,' so I knew that one, and one only, was dead."
"I hope your acuteness will continue through dinner,"
laughed the editor. "We need it. Now, then, to business.
Cudlipp had sort of adopted André de Bry, Used him to
prepare his bigger canvases, and so on. De Bry had fallen in
love with Eleanor. She returned bis passion De Bry was
hopelessly poor-no, not hopelessly, for he had a rich uncle,
who had a fad of independence. He wouldn't give André a
farthing; but if the boy succeeded in making himself a
career, he promised to leave him every penny he had. The
family is noble, much better than Cudlipp's; so the boy was
not a bad match for Eleanor, and, contigently, a very good
one. He and Harry were perfectly good friends. There was, in
short, no element of disagreement worth notice. The days
passed pleasantly, either in painting or fishing, and the
evenings in games. One can hardly imagine a more harmonious
"On the 18th of August the yacht, which supplied the island
with stores from the mainland, called and left provisions
for the party. To avert false conjecture from the start, I
may say that it is absolutely impossible that some
mysterious stowaway could have landed from the yacht and
hidden somewhere on the island. The police subsequently went
through the place with a fine tooth comb. It is thirty miles
from the nearest land, is barely a quarter of a mile in its
greatest length, has neither a cave nor a tree on it. So
don't talk about that! Well, the yacht weighed anchor on the
afternoon of the 18th; that night a storm came up from the
Atlantic, and raged for a whole week. It is physically
impossible that any one should have landed on the rock
during that period. Furthermore, the Big House stands on a
quite unclimbable pinnacle-I'm a rock climber, as you know,
and I went to see it, and there's not a crack anywhere. It
was only connected with the rest of the island by a wooden
bridge of the cantilever type; and the violence of the wind
was such that on the second night of the storm it carried it
away. This was inconvenient for them, as will be seen; but
it simplifies the matter a good deal for us. Well, on the
25th the storm abated, and the fishermen were about to put
to sea when they observed Lord.Cudlipp on the edge of the
cliff, firing his shotgun. Seeing he was noticed, he
signalled and shouted to them to come up. He met them, so
far as he could, at the chasm where the bridge had been.
"There has been murder done here," he said shortly, "take
this message and telegraph it at once." He flung a stone to
them, with a paper wrapped about it. The telegram asked for
the police; also for a gang of men with materials to build
up the bridge. The following noon relief arrived.
"The rest of the story needs little detail. It is as
astonishingly simple as it is perplexing. The naked body of
the boy Harry was found on the morning of the 23rd in the
big room used by the other men as a studio-Harry and Eleanor
took not the slightest interest in art. Death had been
caused by a small deep wound in the femoral artery; a
penknife might have made it. But there was no blood; and at
the postmortem was revealed the utterly astonishing fact
that there was no blood in the whole body-when I say no
blood, I mean, not enough for a rabbit! It had been
systematically drained. I need hardly tell you that the
whole island went wild with stories of vampires and witches;
I won't bother you with that sort of rubbish.
"But the horror of the circumstances cannot be easily
matched. Imagine to yourselves that lonely crag, itself a
monument of desolation, towering from sea to sky, bleak,
bare, barren and heartless as sea and sky themselves. Such a
place has always bred strange stories-and strange crimes.
"But think of the feelings of the people in the house, one
of them certainly a murderer!
"However, the police were easily able to narrow down the
possibilities. The boy had been chloroformed or otherwise
rendered unconscious, without doubt, for there could have
been no struggle. The wound was clean, and obviously
inflicted by some one with first rate anatomical knowledge.
It was, too, a highly civilized crime, so to speak.
"This really restricted the field of inquiry to the two
painters. Common sense excluded the father, whose main hope
of an illustrious line was thus cut off. On the other hand,
de Bry was a doubtful character. In Paris he had been
accustomed to frequent the lowest haunts-the sort of places
one find in these little streets about here-and as a matter
of fact, he was usually called the `Apache' as a sort of
nickname. But no one had ever heard of anything very
definite, except an alleged duel with knives in a shop off
the Boulevard St. Germain called Tout à la Joie, a low
drinking cellar. This came out in court later, and sounded
nasty, though it was proven that he had been attacked
without provocation, and the police had not even arrested
him. Still, a man so ready with a knife-it impressed the
jury! badly, I could see that.
"To cut a long story short, they arrested André. He refused
to enter the witness hox; he had no story to tell; nor,
indeed, had any of the others. Harry had gone to bed alive;
he was found dead in the morning. No quarrel anywhere. No
motive for anyhody.
"The jury was out for twenty-four hours; they came back with
that jov which only Scotland offers to its jurymen-the
Verdict of the Sitter on the Fence: `Not proven.' They all
thought he did it, but they couldn´t make up their minds to
hang him; so there was the way out. Therefore, André de Bry
is at large again; and, by the same token, I came over on
the boat with him. He was muffled to the eyes, but I knew
him. So he's probably within a mile of us at this minute."
"What do you think of the story?" asked Major, a little
anxiously "Oh, I agree with the natives," replied the
mystic, laughingly, to the astonishment of his hearers.
"Excuse my referring to the fact that I'm a professional
Magus- still, you should not be surprised if I tell you that
I hold to the theory of vampires and wehr-wolves and sirens
and the rest of the dear creatures!"
"Be serious, master!" urged Flynn, using a title which he
knew would put the mystic on his honor.
"My dear lad, I believe this murder was done by some one
whom none of them knew to have been there."
"But how could he have got away?"
"Vanished whence he came."
"A haunted house? Damn it, something in your tone makes my
blood run cold."
"Well," slowly answered the mystic, "possibly, in a sense, a
Major called the waiter to bring another bottle of Burgundy.
"Have you really formed a theory about the case?" asked
Flynn. "To me it's absolutely beyond reason."
"Beneath it, beneath it! Ah well, no matter! As a fact, I
have not made up my mind. How can I, till I've seen this
"You think there was some motive of jealousy?" snapped out
Major I don't think at all till I've seen them. Look here!
do you know his work?
"No; he hasn't shown anything. He's an absolute kid you
know. But Tite saw a thing of his in some studio or other,
and Tite said it was damned bad. So I dare say it's pretty
"Where's his studio?"
"Don't know," answered the sculptor. "I'll find out
to-night, if you're really set on this. May I call for you
in the morning? We'll go up together; perhaps you'll let me
make it déjeuner-you'll come, of course, Jack- as I've been
shouting for Burgundy at your dinner, you shall shout for
Claret at my lunch!"
"I'm at Bourcier's, 50 rue Vavin, as always,"1 said Simon
Iff. "The best house, and the best people. in all Paris.
Come round at nine."
"Right. Meet me there, Flynn. It's a great hunt, the truth!"
"With a hunter like Simple Simon, you'll find it so," said
The next morning saw the three friends tramping it up the
Boulevard Raspail, past the great calm glory of the
unconquered Lion de Belfort, along the busy Boulevard de
Montrouge, and so to the very hem of Paris, the "fortifs"
dear to the Apache. Here they turned west, and came
presently to an old wine shop, throughwhich lay the entrance
to the studio of de Bry.
He was already at work in his little garden; an old man,
leaning on a spade, was posing for him.
Major advanced and offered his card. "Monsieur de Bry! I
feel sure you will pardon me. I am a Sociétaire of the Beaux
Arts; I have heard that your work is excellent, and I am
here with two friends of the most distinguished to ask the
honor of looking at it."
"Mr. Major!" cried the boy, as he put his brushes down in
his eagerness-at first he had not recognized the great
man-"indeed, the honor is altogether mine. But I've nothing
worth seeing, I assure you."
Major introduced his friends. De Bry, telling the model to
rest, led the party into the studio. With infinite
diffidence the boy began to show his work.
In a few minutes Major, with his hands thrust deep into his
trousers' pockets, and his head thrown back, was reduced to
utter silence. Simon Iff, who was watching him as well as
the pictures, smiled his grimmest smile. The editor, inured
to small talk by his profession, made the conversation.
"lt's all beginnings," said the boy, "but this is more what
I've tried for. I did it in the summer." The mystic noticed
with a darkening face that he seemed to speak of that summer
as if it had held nothing but a holiday.
The canvas showed the rock of Dubhbheagg amidst the
breakers. It had been painted from a boat on a clear day.
The sky was blue; a flight of wildfowl gave life to the
picture But the rock itself was more vital than the birds.
It seemed the image of some great lost God of solitude,
eternally contemplative, eternally alone. It was more
melancholy than Dürer's master work, or Thomson's
interpretation of it. And de Bry had not used the materials
of melancholy, or images of death; he had merely painted a
rock just as it was when he saw it. Yet he had made it a
creature of cosmic life, as significant and vital as the
universe itself-and as lonely and inexorable.
Simon Iff spoke for the first time. "Is that picture for
sale?" he asked. "Yes," said the painter, rather eagerly.
They noticed that he looked ill.
"Probably hasn't had a meal since that damned affair,"
thought Major. "How much?" very stiffly from Simple Simon.
The painter hesitated. "Would you give me fifty francs for
it?" he asked timidly.
The mystic rose to his feet, and shook his stick in the
boy's face. "No, you damned young scoundrel. I will not!" he
roared. "How dare you ask such a price?"
The boy shrank back; he expected that the old man would
"Do you know who I am?" thundered Simon. "I'm the chairman
of the Art Committee of the Hemlock Club! That's the trouble
with you artists; you're blacklegs, every one of you.
Offering a thing like that for fifty francs and pulling down
the price of everything but the old Masters! Answer me
straight now: how much is it worth?"
The boy was too taken aback to reply.
"Have you ever seen a worse thing offered for ten thousand
francs?'' asked Simon, cynically.
"Oh yes!" he stammered at last.
"I'll give you fifteen thousand. Here's a thousand on
account; I'll send a cheque for the balance this afternoon.
Send the picture to Simon Iff, 50, rue Vavin. And, if you've
nothing to do, come and see me as soon as the light fails
this afternoon. Yes, bring the picture around in a fiacre.
About 5, then!"
He thrust a big thousand franc note in the boy's hand, and
withdrew stormily from the studio.
The others followed him; but Major stopped a moment. "Did
you like my bust of Rodin?" asked the sculptor. The boy was
still too bewildered to do more than nod. "I'll send you a
bronze, if you'd care to have it. And come and see me, any
time you care to, and particularly any time you need a
friend." De Bry grasped the offered hand in silence."
The others had reached the street when Major caught them. "I
hope you don't mean mischief by that boy," he said to Iff.
"I seem to smell a trap. For heaven's sake leave him alone!
He's the biggest thing since Turner; if he keeps on growing,
the planet won't hold him."
"My mind is quite made up," returned Simon Iff, coldly. "If
the lunch is still on, suppose we take a taxi. If you don't
mind, we'll have a private room at the Café de la Paix. We
shall need to go rather deeply into this matter."
Simon Iff would not talk at all of anything but old times in
Paris until after lunch, when the decks were Cleared of all
but the three Cs-coffee, cigars, and cognac2 Then he cleared
"As you have heard me say about a million times Jack, `Do
what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.' Failure to
observe this precept is the root of all human error. It is
our right and duty-the two are one, as Eliphaz Lévi very
nearly saw-to expand upon our own true centre, to pursue the
exact orbit of our destiny. To quit that orbit is to invite
collisions. Suppose it to be my illusion to think it my will
to pass through that closed window. I bump my head; I cut my
face; I finally make a mess on the boulevard. Or I think it
my will to steal my neighbor's watch. I am caught;
police-court, prison, and general disaster. Merely the
result of my ignorance in regard to my true destiny. Failure
in life and especially criminal failure; collision. Then
where is the original collision? In myself. There is a
conflict between my conscious will and my unconscious will,
between the sophisticated babble of reason and the still
small voice of the soul. Poe had quite an idea of this, with
his `Imp of the Perverse'; Ibsen, the greatest of all
realists, a more detailed conception, with his `troll'; but
both imagined that consciousness was right and the Inner
Light wrong. Now that is a mere assumption, and we mystics,
who know that Light, know better. It is the first task of
every man who would not only be himself, but understand
himself, to make the union or harmony between these two,
perfect. Now of course most men, so far as the main path of
their lives is concerned, never find these two forces in
conflict, never become aware of them at all. The troubles of
genius are principally due to a recognition of this truer
Light, and of its apparent incompatibility with the
conscious will, or perhaps of a realization that they cannot
execute their will, because of the pressure of circumstance
upon them. Hence the well-earned celebrity of the Artistic
Temperament. Frequently we observe that the artist, unable
to fulfil himself in his art, turns to vice of one kind or
another. It is as if a sculptor, in a gestureof impatience
with his Venus, dabbed a handful of clay on her nose, and
made her look like an elephant!"
"If you knew how often I've done just that thing!" laughed
"Well," continued the mystic, "to come to the murder of this
boy Harry "
"I see where you're driving," broke in Jack Flynn. "And as
I'm sure you noticed the perfect nonchalance of de Bry when
he showed us that picture, you are going to prove that he
did it unconsciously, or at least that it's all so natural
to him that he has no sense of it."
"You would find out what I am going to prove if you would
let me do it," said Simon, in some ill-humor. Major had felt
ashamed of himself for smiling; he was genuinely concerned
about his great new artist.
"To come to the murder of this boy Harry," repeated the
magician, "we notice two things. First, the general
surroundings. Storm, isolation, the wild weird atmosphere of
the Scottish Highlands-enough to send any man, with an
original touch of madness, over the line Second, the nature
of the murder itself, it is in perfect keeping with the
setting. Its details are elaborate. It is not an ordinary
murder, but the murder of-a-I can't find the right word."
Major broke in grimly: "The murder of a great mind gone
wrong? Of such a mind as conceived, and such a hand as
executed, those masterpieces? Oh my God!"
"Your interruptions will not alter the facts of the case, or
my deductions; pray let me proceed! Besides, there is still
one step to take before we arrive at any such conclusion. I
want you to remember a peculiar fact about the French
Revolution. Here we find a whole set of people, educated,
intelligent, complex, and above all humanitarian, who
suddenly indulge in wholesale massacre. This, like the crime
we are discussing, was a perverse crime. It was not at all
in accordance with the general will of the Revolutionists,
which was simply Social Justice.
"But they had been thwarted for generations; thwarting was
in their blood, as it were; and when they came to action,
they became perverse. Thus-I beg you to believe-it is not
merely the artistic temperament which produces these
horrible crimes; it is simply any temperament which is
suppressed long enough. It is more usual to find this
manifested in artists, because they are advanced people who
understand pretty well what their will is, who suffer more
keenly, in consequence, from the thwarting of that will,
especially as they usually perceive only too keenly the fact
that it is the errors and stupidities of other people,
people who have strayed far from their own orbits, that
cause the thwarting in question. I will ask you to consider
the case of a man who makes friends of spiders. Oh, you say,
that is after he has been in the Bastille for twenty years.
Precisely. He may have been a very bad man; he may himself
have thwarted his own fundamental impulses of love; but the
complete suppression of that instinct for so many years
results in its peeping out at last, and taking an unnatural
form. There are plenty of similar instances which will occur
to you. In the case of the French Revolution, we must also
consider the question of atavism. Humanitarian as the
leaders were, their forefathers had been inured to fire and
sword since the dawn of the race. It was the primitive
tribal passions that broke out in them, after centuries of
suppression. So you get the same phenomenon in both the man
and the race." Simon paused.
"That boy, said Major, "has one of the greatest souls ever
incarnated on this planet, and I won't believe he did it."
"Your courage is splendid," replied Simple Simon, "but your
beliefs do not invalidate the conclusions of science. E pur
"Is that all?" asked Flynn.
"For shame, Jack," cried the mystic; `'I have hardly begun.
But I perceive that the light is failing; we had better end
this conversation in the presence of André de Bry." Major
paid the bill; and they went across Paris to the old
magician's little studio in the rue Vavin.
It was a small room, and very simply furnished; but the
paintings and sculptures would have made the fame of any
museum. Each was the gift of a master to Simon Iff.
"We shall wait for the young man," said the mystic, as they
seated themselves; you will see that I have no difficulty in
forcing him to confess.''
"I'll never believe it," insisted Major.
"Don't believe it till you hear it!" was the abrupt retort.
A quarter of an hour elapsed; then the slim figure of the
boy appeared. In his arms was the picture.
Simon took it and placed it upon the mantel. Major was
right; there was nothing in the room to equal it. The
magician went to his desk and wrote out a check for fourteen
thousand francs, which he handed to the young painter. "If
you would sign this receipt?" De Bry complied.
"Do not go!" said Simon. "I have much to say to you. You
really like the picture? You think it worthy of you?"
"I wouldn't have sold it if I didn't."
"Yet you were in sore straits? You were denying yourself
food to pay your model?"
"I shouldn't have sold it to you if I didn't think it mine."
"That too is worthy. But now, sit down. There are others to
consider in this matter. I am going to ask my friends to
remain absolutely silent while we talk."
"I know what you are going to say," said the boy.
"I think it unnecessary and cruel."
"Wait till I have done. It is not only necessary and kind,
but it is very urgent."
"I can't refuse the first man who has appreciated my work."
"Listen while I tell you a story. Many years ago I knew a
man named Thornley, a wealthy manufacturer of biscuits. He
had one son, Joseph. He asked me one day to recommend a
tutor for the lad. I told him of a clergyman named Drew, a
man of deep scholarship, great culture, and intense love of
art. He worked on the ambition of Joseph Thornley and the
boy, after a year's tuition from Drew, decided to be a
painter. The tutor died suddenly; but the boy's ambition
remained. He persuaded his father to let him go to varios
art schools, where he studied incessantly with the most
"Damn it!'' roared Major, "he had no more capacity for art
that this chair I am sitting on!"
"I asked you not to interrupt," returned Simon mildly. "I
never said he had! To continue. Backed with ample wealth and
influence, and fortified with determination to succeed,
Thornley's career was one long series of triumphs. Although
primarily a marine painter, he also did other work, notably
portraits. His picture of the king in the uniform of a
British Admiral caught the public taste more than any other
of his efforts. It was in that year that he was not only
elected to the presidency of the Royal Academy of Arts, but
raised to the peerage with the title of Baron Cudlipp. His
only sorrow was the death of his wife two years after the
birth of his children."
The magician turned to André. "Good! Now-how did you spend
the week of the great storm?"
"Billiards, mostly," stammered André taken by surprise.
"Chess, too, and some card games. I sketched of course,
nearly all day. Eleanor had some needlework. Poor Harry was
very bored; he did nothing much."
"And Cudlipp buried himself a good deal of anthropology?"
"Yes; he had Frazer's `Golden Bough' all the time "The boy
broke off, and stared. "How did you know that?" he said,
"A little bird told me," said Simon lightly.
All of a sudden Major sprang to his feet. "Then Cudlipp
killed his son," he shouted, "Oh! Simple Simon, what a fool
I've been!" And he suddenly broke down in spasm on spasm of
sobs. "I promised these gentlemen," said Simon, taking no
notice of the outburst, "that I would force a confession
from you this afternoon. I think this is the moment. Come,
we are all attention."
"I certainly cannot hear this senseless slander against my
"Hush!" said Simon. "I told you this matter was urgent. I
meant what I said. You must catch the nine o'clock train for
"Why?" said the boy, defiantly; "who are you to say this!"
"I am a person who is going to put a letter in the post in
an hour's time; and you had better arrive before the
"I don't understand."
"I was explaining to these gentlemen at lunch that all crime
was the result of conflict; that perverse crime, in
particular, was caused by conflict of the conscious and
"Don't you see?" said Major, mastering himself, "it couldn't
be you. You were supremely happy; you had the girl you
loved; you had found yourself as an artist. But Cudlipp had
thwarted his own inner will all his life; he was meant to
bake biscuits; and he had forced himself to do those
eye-destroying horrors. But-go on, master!-I still don't see
the whole story."
"I haven't told you all the facts yets. Cudlipp's family was
originally Armenian, for one thing, the offspring of some
old Babylonian tribe. Then there was the `Golden Bough' with
its detailed description of various savage rites, especially
the sacrifice of the first-born, an idea, by the way, which
the Jews only adopted at third or fourth hand from older and
autochthonous races. Then the newspapers were filled with
long arguments about the Chesidim and ritual murder,3 the
trial of that man somewhere in Russia-can't think of his
name-begins with a B-was on at this time. Well, when the
suppressed genius of the man for baking biscuits-which may
be a passion like another-when that broke out, probably
under the strain of the long storm, and the wildness of the
whole scene, and possible some sudden realization that this
boy here could paint, and he himself never could, why, then
his brain snapped. The recent impressions combined with some
far strain of atavism, and he resolved upon the murder."
"I still can't see why murder," said Flynn. "Why should not
this biscuit-baking genius go into the kitchen and bake
"I want you to recognize the fact, you dear good simple
soul, that madmen are a thousand times more logical than the
sane. The conclusions of normal men are always balanced by
other considerations; we criticize our ideas of proper
tailoring, for example, in the spotlight of our check books.
The madman doesn't. He wants clothes; he thinks of nothing
else; so he goes down to Savile Row and orders a dozen sable
overcoats and thirty dress suits. It's much more logical, if
logic were all!
"So Cudlipp reasoned something like this, as I imagine;
`I've wasted forty years trying to paint when I ought to
have been baking biscuits; now I must make up for lost
time.' How to do that? The madman's reason finds it easy The
connection between gold and copper coins is an arbitrary
one, isn't it. Yes. Well, if I haven't got a barrow load of
coppers, I can give you a fist full of sovereigns, and it's
just as good. The whole idea of primitive magic (which he
had been reading, remember!) rests on arbitrary
substitution. The king must die every year, or the sun won't
come back-there's an arbitrary connection, to begin with,
though its based on false reasoning, or rather on correct
reasoning from false observation. Now the king doesn't want
to die; so he takes a criminal, labels him king, and kills
him. Every one is happy. So this man seeks to satisfy his
genius, suppressed for forty years, in a night. Surely it
must be through some monstrous act of violence and horror!
That is madman's logic. Then, as I said before, some
ancestral memory in the subconscious self influenced his
recent impression, and that gave the form to the idea. It is
also conceivable that he had a real purpose, thought that
the sacrifice of the first-born might enable him to become a
painter. Gilles de Retz murdered over 800 children in his
endeavor to make gold4. I But of this theory I have no
evidence. However, the rest stands."
André de Bry listened with white lips to this speech.
"Now will you confess?" asked the magician, with mild
"I don't see why I should."
"Because you are still looking at the past. Can't you
foresee the future?"
"Ought I to kill myself?"
"Be serious, sir!" reprimanded Simon. "I see that I must
tell you more. So far I have told you how I know that
Cudlipp killed his son, and how he came to do it. You may or
may not know why he did it but you must know that he did it,
if only by a process of exclusion. Then-what will he do
The boy began to smile. "Oh Eleanor is with an aunt" he
said: "she's safe enough."
"Now we begin to confess indirectly" continued Simon. "But
what will he do? Is he conscious of his act? You see, I must
know all. I was already sure that you would never have left
Eleanor in danger. But there are other problems"
"I'm beaten," said Andre. "I'll tell you all I know."
"It was I who discovered the body of poor Harry; for I had
risen with the first light, intending to paint. I needn't go
into the events of that day, much; it was all suspicion,
perfectly hellish. I haven't your reasoning powers, Mr. Iff,
and I didn't think he had done it, particularly. He
pretended to suspect me, of course. We can see now, thanks
to you, that his whole life has been one long hypocrisy,
that he has been pretending to be an artist, just like any
other fraud. His deadly earnestness about it only made it
worse; I see that now. But I didn't see it then; to me he
was just a bad painter, and I looked no deeper. Well, by
dinner time our nerves were all on edge; Eleanor's,
naturally, more than any. After dinner I said I would go to
bed, meaning to snatch an hour's sleep and then to watch
Eleanor's door all night. I had told her to have her
companion in her room-the poor old lady was glad enough to
have company, you can imagine.
Eleanor s manner to me had been strange beyond words; but I
only thought that it meant that she suspected me. However,
when I said I was going to bed, she jumped up: `Do play me a
hundred up first!' she cried; `I'll go mad if you don't.' We
went into the billiard room together. She closed the door,
and put her back to it. `André,' she cried, `I've been
insane about this all day, but I'm in a fearful position.
Only-I can't let you go to bed. I must tell you. Papa did
it.' I caught her in my arms, for she was falling. In a
moment she recovered. `Last night,' she went on, `I woke
with frightful dreams-and I found my nose was bleeding. I
lit my candle, and got up to get water. Then I knew suddenly
that something was wrong with Harry. I always have known;
it's the twin sympathy.'"
"Damnation!" interrupted Simple Simon in a fury, "I'm
getting old. I ought to have known that she knew."
"You've done well enough, sir," said André; `it's been like
a miracle to me to hear you. Eleanor went on: `The moment my
nose stopped bleeding I took my black kimono, and went down
to Harry's room. The door was open. I slipped in. It was
dark. At that instant I saw the studio door open.' (They
were right opposite, Mr. Iff). `I knew there would be all
kinds of trouble if I were caught wandering about the house
at that time of night. I kept still. I could see through the
crack of the door. Papa was silhouetted against the light in
the studio. He had a wash hand basin, carrying it carefully.
I heard him give a short harsh laugh and say aloud: "Now I
begin to live." He went down the little corridor by Harry's
room.' (It leads to a pepperbox turret. Harry's room has a
window on to that corridor.) `I went to the side window. I
saw papa throw the basin over the cliff. Then he went back,
and down the main corridor to his room. I felt for Harry in
his bed. He wasn't there. I found matches. The room was
empty. I went into the lighted studio. I saw Harry at once,
and knew he was dead. I fainted, when I came to myself I was
in my own bedroom. I must have walked there without knowing.
A few minutes later, I suppose, the alarm came. Forgive me;
I ought to have told you before; you must have suffered
fearfully. But I stopped her. `It's best, I think, that you
have told me now,' I said, `we must save him. We must be on
our guard, and do nothing.' We noted Cudlipp's conduct. It
became clear that he would hide his crime to the end, even
to letting me be hanged for it. I told her that I would
never speak to her again if she interfered, that I would die
for the honor of her family. I made her swear by her dead
mother. I doubted at first if he were aware of what he had
done, but his manner left no doubt. For instance, he made no
inquiry into the mystery of the basin missing from his room,
and never spoke of it in court. So we knew."
"You're a very noble and very wrong-headed young man," said
Simon; "you don't really think we can leave things as they
are, do you? Observe what is happening now. The explosion in
the man's brain once over, habit has resumed its sway. He's
the hypocritical bourgeois once more-but with the memory of
that most fearful deed to lash him. If I know anything of
men, it will prey upon his mind; and we shall have either
another murder, or, more likely, suicide. Your sacrifice and
Eleanor's will be useless. This is what has to be done: You
and I will go to London together to-night. In the morning we
will confide in two alienists. We will all go to Cudlipp
House; the doctors will certify him insane, he must consent
to our terms. He must put himself in the charge of a medical
attendant and a male nurse, and he must go away with them,
so that he never returns.
"The newspapers will be told that the shock of recent events
has undermined his health, and that he has been ordered a
complete change of scene.
"We shall then go to Eleanor. and tell her what has been
done; you will marry her here in Paris; I will arrange with
the Consulate for secrecy; and you will yourself seek change
of scene for a year or so. You, Major, will supply him with
money if he needs it; you can get rid of some of those
canvases, I suppose?"
"And you, Flynn, will invent a way up those cliffs, and a
story about a maniac vampire, ending with his confession and
suicide, to round it off nicely; we must clear this lad of
that ghastly `not proven' business.
"That is a job," said Flynn, "which I shall most thoroughly
enjoy doing. But now you must all comand dine with me; we
have no time to lose, if we mean to catch that nine o'clock
Two years later a certain pretty French Countess was
enthusiastic at the Salon des Beaux Arts, over the six South
Sea Island pictures of a new Sociétaire. "André de Bry?" she
said to her escort the great sculptor Major; "isn't that the
young man who was accused of poor Bibi Sangsue's last
"The maniac vampire! yes; the fools! as if anyone could
mistake Bibi's handiwork!"
"Truth is certainly stranger that fiction; Bibi's career
sounds like the wildest imagination. Doesn't it?"
"It does," said Major solemnly. "But perhaps you knew him?"
"At one time," murmured the Countess, with a blush and a
droop of the eyelids, "at one time-well-rather intimately!"
"I," said Major, "knew only his father and mother!"
THE ARTISTIC TEMPERAMENT - originally published in The
International 11 (10): 295-301 (October 1917).
1. A small hotel in the Latin Quarter of Paris which
Crowley used as his headquarters. See Confessions, 569,
2. In his poem "Léa Sublime," Crowley gives quite a
different version of the "three Cs":
Stab your demoniac
Smile to my brain!
Soak me in cognac,
Cunt and cocaine
(Norman Mudd, diary, February 25, 1925, transcript in
3. Crowley seems to have accepted the "blood libel," the
anti-Semitic legend that the Chassidim in Eastern Europe
practiced ritual murder. For further examples see
Aleister Crowley, The Secret Rituals of the O.TO., ed.
Francis King (1974), 190, and Crowley's preface signed
"Perdurabo" to "Sepher Sephiroth" in The Equinox 1 (8):
4. See Aleister Crowley, The Banned Lecture (1930), a
pamphlet issue of a lecture on Gilles de Rais which
Crowley was prevented from delivering to the Oxford
University Poetry Society.