SALUTATION TO FIVE SALUTATION TO FIVE by SHANE LESLIE Biography Index Reprint Series BOOKS FOR LIBRARIES PRESS FREEPORT, NEW YORK CONTENTS RETROSPECT .. .. .. .. i I. MRS. FITZHERBERT . . . . . . z6 n. EDMOND WARRE . . . . . . 42 m. SIR WILLIAM BUTLER . . . . . . 66 IV. LEO TOLSTOY . . . . . . . . 99 V. SIR MARK SYKES . . . . 133 7104961 KANSAS CITY MO. PUBUC LIBRARY MORTUIS MORITURUS RETROSPECT THE five essays in biography which compose this volume Edmond Warre, Headmaster of Eton Sir William Butler, British General and Irish patriot Sir Mark Sykes, Orientalist and traveller Mrs. Fitzherbert, wife of George IV and Leo Tolstoy have little in common except their personal interest in my mind for this preface is autobiography. They need framing in the manner that old photographs are glued into a family scrap-book. They need not be relatives but may be objects of hero-worship. All five have been so much a part of my life that I feel I shall carry their remem brance away with me. Warre, the god of Eton days Butler, my first steersman on Irish troubled water Tolstoy, inspiration of my Paris days Mark Sykes, an Occidental star who dipped under the horizons of Versailles not to reappear, Mrs. Fitzherbert, naturally, was the one of the five I could not know while she lived. But her mysterious and gracious memory had remained like a family ghost in my home and I was destined to be her final champion with the pen. llie others passed one by one into my impressionable ken until I felt the debt could only be paid by writing. While weaving each into essay form, I found my own mind s biography collecting in the margins like dust upon the gilt-edge. Life is too short to decide whether chance or heredity, choice or environments play the strongest influences. All shared in mine but particularly certain characters, some strong and some quaint or queer. Thanks to books, one can double and redouble life s brevity. In a great library one can taste or drain the life-blood of the great writers But the great who have not written, one must follow awhile and write into literature for oneself. Autobiography is the result of following back one s own SALUTATION TO FIVE tracks and recording impressions which may one day be examined like any dead film of the past. The mind of man is like some indestructible toy. It brings back visions out of invisible memory and it can construct possible futures. There is no doubt which is the more restful. Everyone who can think a little can flutter backwards in his own life or borrow the mightier wings of great writers. Not for nothing did the Latin for feather give us the word for pen I have found the power of fluttering back one of the pleasantest variants to life. I have envied the power of the Lady of Shalott to sit in a trance and watch a mirrored world pass by. The mirror of the mind is literature. The supreme gift of an education is the power of reading, the fascination of dipping into other worlds and being able to conjure greater spirits than oneself. It reconciled me to being a sap at Eton under the athletic reign of Warre when any appreciation of literature left one despised and avoided. This was otherwise in the more civilised parts of the School, but I was dropped into a dark corner. I was glad to exchange the Playing Fields for the Champs filys es of Paris before I had been confirmed in Church principles or even in the right style of rowing. The exploration of Letters kept me busily delighted in the Latin Quarter and I could have subscribed to what a great poet picked as the greatest line in Kipling concerning fools that were flannelled and oafs that were muddy. The France of 1 900 was largely innocent of the games of sport. Generally speaking, the Arts took their place. I once asked what incident most symbolised the gulf between English and French mentality...