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““Do you think the picture is in England ?" asked Heitz innocently.
““I have no certain opinion on the subject; but this I will tell you. A Belgian amateur begged for our help with regard to an exhibition of Flemish pictures in England. A certain number of church pictures were asked for; you see the Government had that idea well in their minds."
““That is not impossible," answered Heitz. “M. Van der Heuvel is then the only person who knows all about the affair."
“The Canon wished to laugh, but only said, “You have judged rightly."
"“ Then you could write to Van der Heuvel for precise information, through Cardinal Mercier."
*The Canon looked furious. “The way I am treated makes me doubt whether I could even get speech with Cardinal Mercier. To every previous request of mine for passports I have received the answer .Nein'-to see my Bishop, my relations and my wards."
““I could give you passports."
““ I would not demean myself to ask you for what I ought to have by right."
Then Heitz held out his hand, thanked the Canon for coming and dismissed him. But the storm was not yet over! The German does not easily let go; so the Bishop of Ghent was next attacked with marked rudeness. Politeness was useless, so they would try something else. Where was the picture hidden? Von Unger, the inspector, was now the assailant. He had received Dr Clemen's report and he repeated that Germany had no designs on the Van Eyck, but must know where it was hidden. Many answers were considered by the Chapter; should the secret be given up ?
But no, it was most unsafe ; they would keep to the same story till the last moment. On Oct. 23 the Bishop sent his answer to the Inspector, saying he was entirely ignorant where the picture was hidden; which was the truth.
A moment of anxiety followed; and they asked themselves whether a careful search for the Adoration was to be made in Ghent. But nothing followed; and the Bishop and the Chapter breathed more freely. It was only for a time. In August 1917, a new assault was prepared; the Germans were determined to find where the picture was actually hidden. The new attack came
from Dr Rauch, Professor of the Göttingen University. He and Dr Hanfft appeared at the Cathedral and asked to see the Crypt. Ostensibly they wished to take photographs of the Belgian works of art, in reality to see if the Van Eyck could be discovered down below. It was known there were works of Van der Meere and Rubens deposited there. • These must be your Van Eyck !' they exclaimed, seeing the cases in the Crypt. The Canon assured them they were mistaken. Then where is it?' In England, sirs.' • That is not true,' one said bluntly; whereupon the Canon became wrathful. • As well tell me I lie!'he exclaimed. As they tried to soften him, the indignant Canon repeated that he had already furnished proof that the picture was claimed by the Government for transport to England, and in an unmistakable temper turned away and walked off to another part of the Crypt. Thus ended this interview; but on Sept. 24, 1917, Professor Rauch sent for the Canon on the subject of the archaeological inventory of Belgium. It was really to repeat the same question, Where was the Van Eyck? They did not want to take the picture to Berlin-on the faith of a German ; they did not even want it put back in St Bavon; they only wanted to know the place of concealment! There were again further encounters between them when they wished to photograph in St Bavon without his leave.
The new Bishop of Ghent was the next attacked. On May 4, 1918, two Germans appeared before Bishop Seghers to obtain permission to photograph the pictures of St Bavon, especially the · Mystic Lamb.' The Bishop referred them to the Canon; and he was sent for. He at once recognised Professor Rauch, with another man unknown, who this time was the spokesman, The question was: Where was the Van Eyck, which they wanted to photograph? The picture was certainly at Ghent; every one knew that; indeed its hiding-place was no secret! The Canon answered quickly that they could in that case go and take it away; as the Belgian Govern. ment had undertaken the responsibility, it was to them they must apply. They were welcome to photograph all the other Cathedral pictures, though he himself had been stopped while doing similar work. No hindrance had been placed in the way of the German inventory; he had indeed pointed out a grave mistake they had made on this very subject. The Professors retired no better satisfied than before.
One cannot help almost admiring the German persistency. The Professor returned on May 14 to the Bishop, repeating that the picture was most certainly at Ghent; might they search his palace ? This request was refused; and the Canon once more rejoiced at this proof that they really did not know the true hiding-place. A town notary was next attacked. He knew all the cellars of Ghent; could he not tell them where the Van Eyck was, for they did not believe it had gone to England ? The Canon was, however, not without a new anxiety. More and more houses were being requisitioned for German soldiers. What if the house next to the true hiding-place should be seized ? What if the wall of partition should be broken through? The friends consulted together and settled that the two principal panels might thus be in danger. They must be moved; and the two Coppejans again offered themselves for this perilous undertaking. Once more the hour of twelve o'clock was chosen ; and the treasure was safely re-housed elsewhere. For the second time the Van Eyck had traversed Ghent unperceived !
But now all the days were to be days of anxiety. A fortnight before their deliverance, the Belgians were anxiously asking themselves how the Allies would effect their freedom. The Germans had proclaimed that the Allies would treat Ghent as they had treated Valenciennes, Douai, Arras, Lille, etc. The Germans alone could protect the Gantois from the barbarity of the assailantswhich they did by immediately blowing-up the station, the viaducts, and bridges, and setting up batteries in the centre of the town, timing the firing from signals on the church towers! To save St Bavon's tower, the Canons interviewed Von Blücher, who sent them to General Von Zydow. They only claimed the promise given them to respect the churches. The General agreed; but next day he mounted guns on the tower of St Jacques in spite of the efforts of its poor Curé.
Night and day the German shells flew over the town. Would the Allies be forced to answer back again? Would their patience hold out? In the midst of this, a
zealous German offered to take the precious Ghent pictures to Holland for safety. At this critical hour the Canon wavered ; should the precious Van Eyck be slipped in among the others ? but happily his friends were dead against it. Was not even a bombarded Ghent safer than German protection? Would the Crypt of St Bavon be safer than the present hiding place ? But again consultation resulted in a negative ; and M. Franz Coppejans declared that, in case Ghent was bombarded, he would go himself to protect the treasure from the danger of catching fire.
These were indeed days of mental anguish ; but we can imagine the intense joy of the inhabitants when on Monday, Nov. 10, a cry was heard at midnight, becoming louder and louder: The Germans are gone! The Germans are gone!' The tramp, tramp of soldiers was heard on every side ; no one slept; and soon the shouting in the streets turned into delirious singing of the Brabançonne and the Marseillaise, as the relieving army approached Ghent from the suburbs. All the long years of oppression were in a moment forgotten. Every one rushed into the streets; every one congratulated every one else. Yet even now the truth could hardly be believed ; Ghent was free and the Van Eyck was saved. With great joy the unconquered Canon gave thanks to God, the Deliverer. Once more he could breathe freely! On Nov. 29 again the friends met together. Without any advertising of the fact, the panels were liberated from their hiding-place and replaced in the chapel for which they had originally been painted ; and on Nov. 30, 1918, they were opened to the public. The little kingdom of Belgium had played a great part in the great war. It had not loved nor fought in vain for Liberty; and the Germans had not found their picture !
Art. 3.-TCHEHOV AND HIS ART.
1. Letters of Anton Tchehov to his family and Friends.
Translated from the Russian by Constance Garnett.
Chatto & Windus, 1920. 2. The Tales of Tchehov. Vols. 1-X (In
(In Progress). Translated from the Russian by Constance Garnett.
Chatto & Windus, 1916–21. 3. (a) The Black Monk and Other Stories. (b) The Kiss
and Other Stories. By Anton Tchekhoff. Translated
from the Russian by R. E. C. Long. Duckworth, 1903. 4. (a) Russian Silhouettes. (b) Plays. By Anton Tchekoff.
Translated from the Russian by Marian Fell. Duck.
worth, 1912, 1915. 5. The Note-Books of Anton Tchekhov. Translated by
S. S. Koteliansky and Leonard Woolf. Hogarth Press,
1921. OF English appreciations of Tchehov Mr Middleton Murry's is alike the most serious and the most illuminating. His eloquent pages in Aspects of Literature'* testify that he among the younger school of critics has understood best the quality of Tchehov's genius and the beauty of his character. Moreover, he it is who has directed attention to the modernity of Tchehov's attitude, rightly declaring that he is “a good many phases in advance of all that is habitually described as modern in literature.' It is therefore in no sense of fault-finding if we try here to enlarge our vistas of the subject and supplement some of Mr Murry's critical remarks by other comments. Mr Murry in his articles has discussed Tchehov's life and Tchehov's art. Let us quote some of his remarks on Tchehov the man:
'He had been saturated in all the disillusions which we regard as peculiarly our own, and every quality which is distinctive of the epoch of consciousness in which we are living now is reflected in him—and yet, miracle of miracles, he was a great artist. He did not rub his cheeks to produce a spurious colour of health; he did not profess beliefs which he could not maintain ; he did not seek a reputation for universal wisdom, or indulge himself in self-gratifying dreams of a millennium which he alone had the ability to control. He
* *Aspects of Literature.' By J. Middleton Murry. Collins, 1920.