Enoch Soames - Max Beerbohm - Страница 1 из 41


Enoch Soames
A Memory of the Eighteen-nineties
By
MAX BEERBOHM
When a book about the literature of the eighteen-nineties was given by
Mr. Holbrook Jackson to the world, I looked eagerly in the index for
Soames, Enoch. It was as I feared: he was not there. But everybody
else was. Many writers whom I had quite forgotten, or remembered but
faintly, lived again for me, they and their work, in Mr. Holbrook
Jackson's pages. The book was as thorough as it was brilliantly
written. And thus the omission found by me was an all the deadlier
record of poor Soames's failure to impress himself on his decade.
I dare say I am the only person who noticed the omission. Soames had
failed so piteously as all that! Nor is there a counterpoise in the
thought that if he had had some measure of success he might have
passed, like those others, out of my mind, to return only at the
historian's beck. It is true that had his gifts, such as they were,
been acknowledged in his lifetime, he would never have made the bargain
I saw him make--that strange bargain whose results have kept him always
in the foreground of my memory. But it is from those very results that
the full piteousness of him glares out.
Not my compassion, however, impels me to write of him. For his sake,
poor fellow, I should be inclined to keep my pen out of the ink. It is
ill to deride the dead. And how can I write about Enoch Soames without
making him ridiculous? Or, rather, how am I to hush up the horrid fact
that he WAS ridiculous? I shall not be able to do that. Yet, sooner


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