Wyndham Lewis – Beau Séjour,1927


THE POLE. In pre-war Europe, which was also even more the Europe of before the Russian Revolution, a curious sect was established in the watering-places of Brittany. Its members were generally known by the peasants as ‘Poles.’ The so-called ‘Pole’ was a russian exile or wandering student, often coming from Poland. The sort that collected in such great numbers in Brittany were probably not politicians, except in the sentimental manner in which all educated Russians before the Revolution were ‘radical’ and revolutionary. They had banished themselves, for purely literary political reasons, it is likely, rather than been banished. Brittany became a heavenly Siberia for masses of middle-class russian men and women who made ‘art’ the excuse for a never-ending holiday. They insensibly became a gentle and delightful parasite upon the French. Since the Revolution (it being obvious that they cannot have vast and lucrative estates, which before the Revolution it was easy for them to claim) they have mostly been compelled to work. The Paris taxi-driver of today, lolling on the seat of his vehicle, cigarette in mouth, who, without turning round, swiftly moves away when a fare enters his cab, is what in the ancien régime would have been a ‘Pole.’ If there is a communist revolution in France, this sort of new nomad will move down into Spain perhaps. He provides for the countries of Europe on a very insignificant scale a new version, today, of the ‘jewish problem.’ His indolence, not his activity, of course, makes him a ‘problem.’

The pre-war method of migration was this. A ‘Pole’ in his home in Russia would save up or borrow about ten pounds. He then left his native land for ever, taking a third-class ticket to Brest. This must have become an almost instinctive proceeding. At Brest he was in the heart of the promised land. He would then make the best of his way to a Pension de Famille, already occupied by a phalanstery of ‘Poles.’ There he would have happily remained until the crack of doom, but for the Bolshevik Revolution. He had reckoned without Lenin, so to speak.

He was usually a ‘noble,’ very soberly but tactfully dressed. He wore suède gloves: his manners were graceful. The proprietress had probably been warned of his arrival and he was welcome. His first action would be to pay three months’ board and lodging in advance; that would also be his last action of that sort. With a simple dignity that was the secret of the ‘Pole,’ at the end of the trimestre, he remained as the guest of the proprietress. His hostess took this as a matter of course. He henceforth became the regular, unobtrusive, respected inhabitant of the house.

If the proprietress of a Pension de Famille removed her establishment from one part of the country to another, took a larger house, perhaps (to make room for more ‘Poles’), her ‘Poles’ went with her without comment or change in their habits. Just before the war, Mademoiselle T. still sheltered in her magnificent hotel, frequented by wealthy Americans, some of these quiet ‘Poles,’ who had been with her since the day when she first began hotel-keeping in a small wayside inn. Lunching there you could observe at the foot of the table a group of men of a monastic simplicity of dress and manner, all middle-aged by that time, indeed even venerable in several instances, talking among themselves in a strange and attractive tongue. Mademoiselle T. was an amiable old lady, and these were her domestic gods. Any one treating them with disrespect would have seen the rough side of Mademoiselle T.’s tongue.

Their hosts, I believe, so practical in other ways, became superstitious about these pensive inhabitants of their houses. Some I know would no more have turned out an old and ailing ‘Pole’ who owed them thirty years’ board and lodging, than many people would get rid of an aged and feeble cat.

For the breton peasant, ‘Polonais’ or ‘Pole’ sufficed to describe the member of any nation whom he observed leading anything that resembled the unaccountable life of the true slav parasite with which he had originally familiarized himself under the name of ‘Pole.’

Few ‘Poles,’ I think, ever saw the colour of money once this initial pin-money that they brought from Russia was spent. One ‘Pole’ of my acquaintance did get hold of three pounds by some means, and went to spend a month in Paris. After this outing, his prestige considerably enhanced, he came back and resumed his regular life, glad to be again away from the siècle and its metropolitan degradation. In pre-war Paris, ‘Poles’ were to be met, very much de passage, seeing some old friends (en route for Brest) for the last time.

A woman opened a smart hotel of about thirty beds not far from Beau Séjour. I was going over to see it. She advertised that any artist who would at once take up his quarters there would receive his first six months gratis. Referring to this interesting event in the hearing of a ‘Pole,’ he told me he had been over there the previous day. He had found no less than twelve ‘Poles’ already installed, and there was a considerable waiting list. ‘If you like to pay you can go there all right,’ he said, laughing.

The general explanation given by the ‘Pole’ of the position in which he found himself, was that his hosts, after six or nine months, were afraid to let him go, for fear of losing their money. He would add that he could confidently rely on more and more deference the longer he stopped, and the larger the amount that he represented in consequence. Ordinary boarders, he would tell you, could count on nothing like so much attention as he could.

That such a state of affairs should ever have occurred, was partly due perhaps to the patriarchal circumstances of the breton agricultural life. This new domestic animal was able to insinuate himself into its midst because of the existence of so many there already. Rich peasants, and this applied to the proprietors of country inns, were accustomed in their households to suffer the presence of a number of poor familiars, cousinly paupers, supernumeraries doing odd jobs on the farm or in the stables. The people not precisely servants who found a place at their hearth were not all members of the immediate family of the master.

But there was another factor favouring the development of the ‘Pole.’ This was that many of them were described as painters. They seldom of course were able to practise that expensive art, for they could not buy colours or canvases: in their visitors’ bulletins, however, they generally figured as that. But after the death of Gauguin, the dealer, Vollard, and others, came down from Paris. They ransacked the country for forgotten canvases: when they found one they paid to the astonished peasants, in the heat of competition, very considerable sums. Past hosts of the great french romantic had confiscated paintings in lieu of rent. The least sketch had its price. The sight of these breathless collectors, and the rumours of the sums paid, made a deep impression on the local people. The ‘Poles’ on their side were very persuasive. They assured their hosts that Gauguin was a mere cipher compared to them.—These circumstances told in favour of the ‘Pole.’

But no such explanations can really account for the founding of this charming and whimsical order. Whether there are still a few ‘Poles’ surviving in Brittany or not, I have no means of knowing. In the larger centres of villégiature the siècle was already paramount before the war.

The Russian with whom translations of the Russian books of tsarist Russia familiarized the West was an excited and unstable child. We have seen this society massacred in millions without astonishment. The Russian books prepared every Western European for that consummation. All the cast of the Cherry Orchard could be massacred easily by a single determined gunman. This defencelessness of the essential Slav can, under certain circumstances, become an asset. Especially perhaps the French would find themselves victims of such a harmless parasite, so different in his nature to themselves. A more energetic parasite would always fail with the gallic nature, unless very resolute.

Wyndham Lewis, 1882-1957 Beau Séjour, in, The Wild Body, A Soldier of Humour and Other Stories,1927

Image 1: Horace Brodzky, 1885-1969, Viewing Kermesse 1917, Drypoint, 11 x 9.5 cm. © The Estate of Horace Brodzky; Image supplied courtesy of the Hunterian, University of Glasgow 2011

Image 2: Wyndham Lewis, 1882-1957. Mr Wyndham Lewis as a Tyro, a self-portrait, 1921. Oil on canvas, 73 x 44 cm. Ferens Art Gallery, Hull City Museums and Art Gallery. © The Estate of Mrs G.A. Wyndham Lewis: The Wyndham Lewis Memorial Trust

Wyndham Lewis describes a particular group of resident ‘artists’ in Brittany, known as the ‘Poles,’ who were political and economic refugees, mostly Little Russians, Finns and Germans, who live modestly in auberges on the charity of the Breton landladies. As well-mannered êmigrês they found a niche in the social structure and are accepted as dilettantes adopting the role of poverty-bound artists.The Soldier of Humour, appeared in its original form in The Little Review (an American publication) of 1917-18. In it the showman, Ker-Orr, is, we are to suppose, at a later stage of his comic technique than in the accounts of his adventures in Brittany. Beau Séjour is the first hotel at which he stops. (This, except for the note at the end, is a new story.)” Foreward, Wyndham Lewis, July 6, 1927. Harcourt Brace,

Wyndham Lewis – Sigismund, 1922,


Some months later, settled in the midst of a very great establishment, Sigismund’s fancy found a new avenue of satisfaction. He resolved to make a collection of pictures. His newly-awakened sensibility where pictures were concerned was the servant of his ruling passion, and admirably single-minded. His collection must be such as a nobleman would wish to possess. And again in this fresh activity his instinct was wonderfully right.

But Deborah grew blacker day by day. The dumb animal from the sacred Past felt by now that there was something exceedingly queer about her husband. The fabulous sums of money that Sigismund got through in the prosecution of his new fad awoke at last her predatory instincts. Solid bullion and bank balances was what she had wedded: not a crowd of fantastic and rather disturbing scenes. She secretly consulted with Lord Victor.

However, Sigismund proceeded to fill the house with pictures, engravings, drawings and pieces of sculpture. They all had some bearing on the Past. Many were historical pieces. They showed you Henry VIII., the king of the playing card, divorcing Catherine. He appeared, in the picture, to be trying to blow her away. They disclosed the barons after their celebrated operation at Runnymede, thundering off with the Charter: or William the Conqueror tripping up as he landed. There were pictures celebrating Harry Page’s doings, ‘Arripay’ : episodes on the Spanish main. There was an early lord earning his book-rights with an excellent ferocity: and a picture of a lonely geneat on his way to the manor with his lenten tribute of one lamb.

A rather special line depicted a runaway labourer being branded upon the forehead with a hot iron, at the time of the Labour Statutes of the fourteenth century: and sailors being bastinadoed after unusually violent mutinies. Stock and thumbscrew scenes. There was a picture of a Kentish churchyard, John Ball preaching to a rough crowd. As Sigismund gazed at this terrible picture, he experienced perhaps his richest thrill.

When Adam delved and Eve span Who was then the gentleman?

He could see these unhallowed words coming out of the monk’s lips and the crowd capering to them.

He had the six English regiments at Minden, mechanical red and accoutred waves, disposing of the French cavalry: and Hawke in Quiberon Bay, pointing with a grand remote pugnacity to the French flagship: the old ceremonious ships, caught in a rather stormy pathos of the painter’s, who had half attempted, by his colouring and arrangement, to find the formula for an event very remote in time from the day of the artist depicting it.

Charles II. dying ‘do not let poor Nelly starve ‘ Sigismund’s model of how to die: * for-

give me, Deborah, for protracting this insignificant scene. 5 He was not sure about ‘insignificant ‘ and sometimes substituted ‘tedious.’ The word ‘unconscionable,’ he felt, was the prerogative of dying princes.

The masked executor holding up the head of Charles I., whose face, in the picture, although severed from the body, still wore a look of great dignity and indifference to the little trick that had been played upon it by the London Magnificos. ‘Eikon Basilike’ drew as many tears from Sigismund’s susceptible lids as it did from many honest burgesses at the time of its publication.

Mary Queen of Scots over and over again: Fotheringay : many perfect deaths: the Duke of Cumberland holding the candle for the surgeon amputating his leg.

Gildas, Kemble’s ‘Saxons in England’ the life of Wilfrid, by Eddi, were three of his favourite books. And pictures dealing with this period he concentrated in a room, which he called the ‘Saxon’ room. In these pieces were seen

The Crowning of Cedric.

Guthlac of Crowland vomiting at the sight of a bear.

The Marriage of Ethelbert with Bertha, daughter of King Charibert.

The Merchants telling Gregory that the angelic slaves came from ‘Deira.’

Constantine on the chalk cliffs, Minster below, knees jutting out, for the first time, in a bluff english breeze ; and Ethelbert, polite, elevated, but postponing his conversion with regal procrastination, or possibly leisureliness.

Burner’s dagger reaching Edwwie through Lilians body.

Coifi, the priest, at Godmanham, making his unexpected attack on an obsolete temple.

Aidan with a bag of hairy converts in the wilds of Bernicia.

Penda looking at the snowy fist blessed by Aidan after he had defeated the Northumbrians. Alfred singing psalms and turning cakes, and Caedmon writing verses in his stable.

These were only a few of the many scenes that Sigismund roamed amongst: standing in front of them (when he could prevail on her to come with him) with his arm round Deborah’s waist.

The pictures that Deborah hated most were those most economically noxious. These were pictures by masters contemporary with the Past. Van Dyck was his great favourite, at once a knight, a Belgian, and a painter. He reflected with uncertainty, ‘a foreign title, obviously’ ? Contemporary painters who were at the same time knights, or even lords, he thought less of, it may be mentioned in passing : though he never grudged them, on account of their good fortune, the extra money he had to pay for their pictures.

His instinct manifested itself more subtly, though, in his choice of modern works. Burne-Jones was perhaps his favourite artist not belonging, except in spirit, to the wonderful Past. He recognized the tendril or twist he had read about in the book found at Bosselwood. Also the unquestionable proclivity to occupy himself with very famous knights and queens struck Sigismund as a thing very much in his favour. But our hero was an incomparable touchstone. His psychic qualities had their part in this. You could have taken him up to a work of art, watched his behaviour, and placed the most entire confidence in the infallibility of his taste in deciding as to the really noble qualities, or the reverse, of the artist. The Man in the Savage State propensity always met with a response. And you would not be surprised, if going further along the gallery with Sigismund, you came upon a work by the same painter of a very tender description, showing you some lady conceived on a plane of rhetorical spirituality. The Animal and the Noble, you would know, are not so far apart: and the savage or sentimental and the impulses to high-falute very contiguous.

Suffocated by this avalanche of pictorial art, Deborah had been constantly sending up S.O.S.’s, and Lord Victor had hurried to her assistance, unknown to Sigismund. This very ‘natural’ female splinter from a remote eruption, grew more violent every day. The more animal she grew the better pleased was Sigismund. One day when as usual he strolled round his galleries, he was only able to examine his acquisitions with one eye, the other having been ‘poached’ overnight by his wife.

Wyndham Lewis, 1882-1957   Sigismund, 1922.

Sigismund, was first published in Art and Letters, 1922, and in the collection of short stories, The Wild Body, A Soldier of Humour and Other Stories,1927, Harcourt Brace, 1928.

Image: The Honourable John Maler Collier OBE RP ROI (1850-1934). 1. Lady Godiva, 1897, oil on canvas, 56 x 72 inches /142.2 x 183 cms, Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Coventry. 2. Sacred and Profane Love,1919, oil on canvas, Northampton Museums and Art Gallery

Wyndham Lewis is in full snarling hunting pink in a satirical anti-establishment story where ‘Art’ and ‘Race’ signify the good-bad breeding of the English quality society. ‘Art’ is a collection of paintings of English history and pictures by masters contemporary with the past.” Lord Sigismund and the Honourable Deborah Libyon-Bosselwood are monolithic representatives of the genealogical relics of ‘Race’, or inbred aristocratic blood lines. The Bosselwood motto: Nunquam ignoscete (Never Forgive) reflects a violent and primitive heraldic feudalism. She is described as a surly, lumpen woman of thunderous stature, hairy and leathery skinned, mute and massive. His pursuits involve the necromancy of researching her astrological pedigree. A passive cast of haw-hawing imbeciles and nincompoops are the more malevolent reflection of the upper classes mirrored by PG Wodehouse. They include Captain Reddie Gribble-Smith, and Tom Fireacres. pronounced Furrakers, a Socialist from an “Awfully good family you know.”, and a genetically defective Bulldog, named Pym. Sigismund reads to Deborah from a book in the library at Bosselwood Chase:

The training of these fortunate people—ancient houses, receding lines of pictures, trophies, books, careful crystallization of memories and forms, quiet parks, large and massive dwellings—all is calculated to make life grow backward instead of forward, naturally, from birth. This is just as pleasant, and in some ways easier. The dead are much nicer companions, because they have learnt not to expect too much of existence, and have a lot of nice habits that only demise makes possible. Far less cunning, only to take one instance, is required to be dead than to live. They respect no one, again, for they know, what is universally recognized, that no one is truly great and good until he is dead: and about the dead, of course, they have no illusions. In spite of this they are not arrogant, as you might expect.

‘I think that is divinely well put, don’t you agree, darling?’ asked Sigismund closing the book. Deborah looked straight at him with genuine hatred: with the look of a dog offered food about which he feels there is some catch.

Wyndham Lewis – Tarr,1918

W Lewis_Tarr

Part VII. Swagger Sex. Chapter 2

‘I am an artist.’

‘Yes I’ve heard that before!’ she blustered gaily with a german conviviality that made him feel more than ever at home. ‘But the artist has to hunt and kill his material so to speak just as primitive man has to do his own trapping butchering and cooking – it will not do to be squeamish if you are to become a great artist, Mister Tarr!’

Tarr looked the great artist every inch as he haughtily replied:

‘Nevertheless there stands the fact that life is art’s rival in all particulars. Tehy are de puntos for ever and ever, you will see, if you observe closely.’

‘That I do not see.’

‘No because you mix them up in your own practice.’

‘The woman, I suppose?’

Tarr gave her a hard dogmatic look and then asserted roundly, and probably finally:

‘As such, and with such resources, you are the arch-enemy of any picture.’

Anastasya looked pleased, and looked a picture.

‘Yes I see how I might be that. But let us have a definition here and there. What is art? – it sounds like Pompous Pilate!’

‘Life with all the humbug of living taken out of it: will that do?’

‘Very well: but what is life?’

‘Everything that is not putrified so that it is art.’


‘Very well: Death is the one attribute that is peculiar to life.’

‘And to art as well.’

‘Ah but it is impossible to imagine it in connection with art – that is if you understand art – that is the test for your understanding. Death is the motif of all reality: the purest thought is ignorant of that motif.’

‘I ask you as a favour to define art for me, you have not. A picture is art if I am not mistaken, but a living person is life. We sitting here are life, if we were talking on a stage we would be art.’

‘A picture, and also the actors on a stage, are pure life. Art is merely what the picture and the stage-scene represent, and what we now, or any living person as such, only, does not: that is why you could say that the true statue can be smashed, and yet not die.’


‘This is the essential point to grasp: Death is the thing that differentiates art and life. Art is identical with the idea of permanence. Art is a continuity and not an individual spasm: but life is the idea of a person.’

Both their faces lost some of their colour, hers white, his the strong, almost the ‘high’ yellow. They flung themselves upon each other socratically, stowing away course after course.

‘You say that actors upon the stage are pure life, yet they represent something that we do not. But “all the world’s a stage,” isn’t it?’

‘It was an actor that said that. I say it’s all an atelier – “all the world’s a workshop” I should say. Consider the content of what we call art. A statue is art. It is a dead thing, a lump of stone or wood. Its lines and proportions are its soul. Anything living, quick and changing is bad art always; naked men and women are the worst art of all, because there are fewer semi-dead things about them. The shell of the tortoise, the plumage of a bird, makes these animals approach nearer to art. Soft, quivering and quick flesh is as far from art as it is possible for an object to be.’

‘Art is merely the dead, then?’

No but Deadness is the first condition of art. The armoured hide of the hippopotamus, the shell of the tortoise, feathers and machinery, you may put in one camp; naked pulsing and moving of the soft inside of life – along with elasticity of movement and consciousness – that goes in the opposite camp. Deadness is the first condition for art: the second is the absence of soul, in the human and sentimental sense. With the statue its lines and masses are its soul, no restless inflammable ego is imagined for its interior: it has no inside: good art must have no inside: that is capital.’

‘Then why should human beings be chiefly represented in art?’

‘Because it is human beings that commission and buy art.’

Wyndham Lewis, 1882-1957  – Tarr,1918

Wyndham Lewis – Rotting Hill,1951

W Lewis_Rotting Hill 1951

Chapter 8. My Disciple.

  Of course in fact he had had a wide choice of callings. Upon demobilization he could have become almost anything from a Harley Street consultant to an Anglican clergyman, by means of a Government grant: to the mind of the politician, who is anti-craft, the notion that it takes a long time to become anything worth the being is repugnant. The politician, like the journalist, is a professional amateur. The only thing there was no grant for was to learn how to be a politician. The laziest of the ex-servicemen naturally chose the fine arts. The nation’s money was drained off on oil-paints, palettes, mahlsticks, six-foot lay-figures, poppy-oil and sable-brushes—and of course studio rents. Sculpture was not so popular, it sounded too much like work.

Gartsides was sent to an emergency training centre. In one year he would have qualified as a teacher in an elementary school. Shortly, however, he discovered that there was no obstacle to his transferring, if he so desired, and training to be an art teacher. So he changed over (he probably found arithmetic a bit of a sweat): whether remaining in the same training centre or not I forget. On the completion of a brief period of art-training, he blossomed forth as art-teacher, was appointed to a slum-school. The other teachers there, of whatever kind, were “certificated”—which meant they had matriculated and spent some years in procuring their licence to teach. It seems he was not a popular figure, even before he showed what stuff he was made of. But it was no time at all before he did that. He quite literally painted the school red.

A thigh thrown over a desk, an arm akimbo, his utility shoe dangling, the children were addressed by Gartsides; and their fidgety little eyes popped out of their curly little heads. They were told that what was spontaneous was best. Spontaneous meaning what spurts up, free and uncontrolled, not fed out by a nasty tap. The freest expression—the most innocent release—of their personalities was what he was there to teach. They would get no direction from him, his role was that of a helpful looker-on. Ready to give a hand, that was all. (He conveyed a very vivid impersonation of these transactions I am obliged naturally to abridge). Art was doing what they liked. It was not doing what he liked. They must pay no attention to him or to anyone else—it did not matter a hoot what anyone thought. He waved a rebellious eye over towards the office of the superintendent. He could teach them nothing. What can one person teach another except to be himself, as if he lived on a little island all by himself? They all lived on little islands all by themselves. No, he was simply there in the capacity of a wet-nurse, to assist them to be their little selves, and to bring forth—to create—whatever was inside them!

The children—typical Giles-like gnomes from the neighbouring sooty alleys and crapulous crescents—were of course alarmed and excited. Then he appeared one morning with a number of tins of house-painters’ colours and a couple of dozen suitable brushes (and he was very proud of introducing house-painters’ colours into the teaching of art). He pointed dramatically to the walls of the class-room crying: “Here’s paints and brushes and there’s the old wall! Atta boy! Paint me some pitchers on it!”

His petrified class suddenly saw the light. With squeaks of rapture they went to work. Soon the walls, part of the ceiling, as well as the cupboards and doors and even some areas of the floor of the class-room were as rich with crude imagery as the walls of a public lavatory. Some of the children were smeared from head to foot with paint.

After this his popularity suffered a further decline among the teaching staff. Next the school-inspectors arrived one morning and “nearly threw a fit” when they saw his class-room. He played the simpleton. He grimaced with a wooden jaw, hanging open an idiot lip and goggled with his eyes, to show me how smart he could be. It seems that the inspectors were satisfied that he was practically imbecilic. Of course they recognised that this was the type of man called for to teach art. They bullied the children, however, a little, for obviously they should have had more sense.

After the paint he obtained some plasticine.

“What do you think they did with it?” he asked me.

I shook my head, to indicate my inability to guess what might supervene if their personalities were left alone with so malleable a substance as plasticine.

“Well, they all made the same sort of thing,” he told me.

“Indeed. How curious.”

“Yes,” he agreed. “They stood their piece of plasticine up on end like this.” And he stood a safety-match upright on the table. He smiled at me. “I asked them what it was,” he said. “They told me a lighthouse.”

“Ah, yes. That lighthouse rescue probably. It was in all the papers: I suppose it was that.”

“No,” he said, obviously disappointed in me. “It was—well a phallus. Phallic.”

“I beg your pardon,” I said. “I see, of course. How amusing. Their personalities vanished momentarily. They became one—the primeval child.”

He looked at me with surprise.

“No,” he objected. “Each did a different lighthouse.”

Wyndham Lewis,1882-1957 – Rotting Hill,1951

Published: Methuen & Co. Ltd., London 1951

Image: Wyndham Lewis, Rotting Hill, 1st edition cover, 1951

Wyndham Lewis – Apes of God, 1930

Part 8. Lesbian-Ape

DAN scudded down Launceston Place, a high wind smote 
its acacia fernery, and he found his way to Ashbum Place,
which was up in arms. Two vagabond cripples had seized
 a basement, into which they had fallen. This Place he descended 
in quick strides passing to the other side of the road, averting his
head from the scene of disorder. Where Ashburn Place ended he 
hesitated, and then entered Rosary Gardens. Leaving them 
behind him, and passing over into Chelsea, he consulted his 

It was a long way to this spot from Mrs. Farnham’s. He could
 never have done it without the help of a pocket-atlas of London
 and his natural map-craft. Policemen made him extremely shy.
 He never spoke to them if he could help it, and avoided their eyes,
 even, when crossing the tides of traffic. From experience he had
 found that, on account of his self-consciousness, it was quite 
impossible to understand their directions at all. Nothing but
 confusion ensued from asking to be directed by one of these 
helmeted young men in blue—whose proverbially kind eyes only 
drew him in, under the cruel peaked eaves of their helmets, and
 made him forgetful of his duty and feel so terribly hot and ashamed 
too and only upset him in any case.

Dan went along a tunnel that was an arched way beneath 
flats. And in the twilight he came to an empty terrace, upon one 
side of which was a row of liver-umber, brick, geraniumed 
cottages. Confronting them was a high and gloomy wall, it
 filled the terrace with premature darkness. Above it Dan could 
see the tops of the windows of formidable studios.—These were 
the gardens he was to visit. A great nest of women Apes! The 
studios were secluded.

Turning into a paved court, out of the narrow terrace, there 
was a row of wicket-gates, cottage-effect. He attempted in spite 
of the misty dusk to read the numbers upon the small green studio
doors. He stopped at the third wicket-gate. He looked over it 
for a little while, he was satisfied. Although the number was
 blurred and might be five instead of three, he entered and knocked 
upon the massive doll’s-house entrance. The door opened very suddenly. Dan at the moment was 
collapsed, as if deflated, and crumpling at the left side. He had 
forgotten he was there, about to put his head into the she-ape’s
 den, in a spasm of delicious reminiscence, and of anticipation.
 Tomorrow Horace would be with him !

With alarm he glanced up. Before him stood a severe masculine figure. In general effect it was a bavarian youth-movement 
elderly enthusiast. She was beyond question somewhat past
mark-of-mouth. But this was a woman, as in fact she had 
appeared in the typed description. Of that he felt tolerably cer
tain, because of the indefinable something that could only be
 described as ” masculine.” An heroic something or other in the
bold blue eye, that held an eyeglass, that reminded him of the 
Old Guard or the Death-or-Glory-Boys, in the house of Mr. Brian 
Macdonnell, secured for him certainty of the sex at least without 
further worry. It was She. This was Miss Ansell.

She was wiry and alert with hennaed hair bristling, en-
brosse. In khaki-shorts, her hands were in their pockets, and her 
bare sunburnt legs were all muscle and no nonsense at all. There
 was something that reminded Dan of Dick Whittingdon, for she
 was bald, he remarked with a deep blush, on the top of her head.
 Only there the resemblance ended it seemed, for whereas Dick 
was anxious, that was easy to see, to disguise his naked scalp, this
 strong-minded person had a peculiar air of being proud of it all 
the time (to be bald, like the ability to grow a moustache, was a
 masculine monopoly). A march had been stolen, with her
masculine calvity. But a strawberry-pink pull-over was oddly 
surmounted by a stiff Radcliffe-Hall collar, of antique masculine
cut—suggestive of the masculine hey-day, when men were men 
starched-up and stiff as pokers, in their tandems and tilburys.
 The bare brown feet were strapped into spartan sandals. A 
cigarette-holder half a foot long protruded from a firm-set jaw.
 It pointed at Dan, sparkling angrily as the breath was compressed 
within its bore.

Daniel Boleyn stood simply rooted to the spot. He was frankly
 dismayed, but could think of nothing to say to excuse himself for
 having knocked at all. ” The wrong door! ” he muttered in his 
mind but he could not utter the apology. He was genuinely 
sorry he had knocked—but he was quite unable to find his 
tongue. Could this be Miss Ansell? Surely he would have been warned in his morning duty-sheet. Not even Horace would 
have been so inhumane as not to whisper a caveat! Why had
 he been sent to her? He must have mistaken the number. What
 was the number? Was it five? Was it three? He had not 
looked for some time at his instructions, though he was positive 
three was the number. What a terrible oversight! —

They stood staring at each other for a momentous half-
minute, the woman with the utmost hostility.

“What are you staring at! “at last she asked him, bold and
 gruff, straight from the shoulder.

A shiver went down Dan’s back as he heard this voice, but he 
was incapable of moving a muscle.

She turned up a wrist-watch towards the sky.
 “It’s a bit late isn’t it?” She pointed out to him gruffly.

Dan blushed. It was late.

“Come in, if you’re coming in!”

She turned upon her heel and went back into a large lighted
 studio, which he could perceive beyond. At least it was a studio,
 even if the wrong one, and should he bolt she would be after him 
like a flash of greased lightning he was positive and catch him
 before he had gone far.

But as she left him he did regain the use of his legs. Con
vulsively he stepped out and it was forward he was moving. He 
followed the soldierly boy-scoutish fantosh into the artist’s-studio, 
slinking in the wake of its positive strut.

“Shut the door!” she called over her shoulder at him, as
 she receded.

Dan went back and, with the most anxious attention, he
closed the front door without making any noise whatever, as he
pushed it into its sleek solid oaken rabbets. Then anew he made
 his way into the lighted interior, and she faced him in the manner
t hat is indicated by the word roundly and by the word squarely.

There she stood, and avoiding her militant male eye he approached 
her. Her dander was up.

“Who sent you? Was it Borstie? Was it Miss Lippencott? “
 she demanded.

“Lip Got!” Dan cooed, with blankest eyes, in Beach-la-Mar.

“Lippencott” she said with a dark puzzled scorn.
 He was quite silent. However pressed for an answer, he would 
have been quite unable to open his lips any more. She quizzed the drooping six-foot-three of speechless man-hood. With vicious eye she wrenched off his four-foot of swaying
 trouser-leg. She tore to shreds the massive pretences of the male

She snorted a sigh, as she saw the man quail at her glances. 
”Well, let’s have a look at you!” she then ruggedly ex
claimed, as one chap to another. She jerked a thumb backwards, 
towards a screen, beneath the balcony, which ran the entire 
length of the long side of the place.

“You can undress there! Look slippy!”

At this Dan’s knees in fact did shake. Had he had a tongue 
in his head he would have told her then and there that she must 
be mistaken. He was not an Italian model (such as he had seen 
leaving the studio of Melanie). There was some fearful misunderstanding. This was not Miss Ansell, he had been deceived. 
It was quite a different kind of Ape, that dwelt in this lonely well,
 to the one it had been Horace’s wish he should visit.

But even as these words (which would not materialize) were
 crying out inside his brain, he was assailed by a new doubt. If
 this were after all Miss Ansell?  Horace he said to himself would 
not have sent him here upon a purposeless errand. There was 
nothing purposeless about Horace. This was a noted Ape of
 God no doubt. He had been dispatched to report upon her — he 
must not leave empty-handed. It was not his place to call in
question the arrangements of Horace. Horace, it might very
 well be, had intended him to pose as a nude Italian model, to this
 woman. For the ways of Horace were mysterious in the extreme.

Taken to its ultimatum and crisis, where would this not 
perhaps lead? The expressive eyes of this dewy colossus, this
 maidenly great doe, rolled in panic — he saw the path that Horace 
had, it might be, intended him to tread, but he balked it in one
 sweeping squirm of lovely revulsion. He writhed, beneath her 
insulting eyes. Mustht I? his eye, in tender obsecration, asked.
 Yrslh! her eye signalled in response, in beastly parody—hitting 
every time below the belt.

In spite of the fact that his glances were downcast mainly, 
Dan was yet present to every object, and he had immediately 
observed with terror a large dog-whip upon the model’s-throne.
 Haunted as he was by the memory of the. Bokharan ox thong he
 had been compelled to hold by that grinning old Jenny, the sight of this disciplinary instrument disturbed him extremely. In
fancy he could see himself naked, in full flight, before this little
hennaed white-collared huntress — her dog-thong cracking about
 his girl-white surfaces, of Clydesdale proportions, as he rushed 
round and round her artist’s studio — till probably he would fall, 
panting and exhausted, at her sandalled feet! And vac victis of 
course — there would be no quarter in this sanguinary immera. 
For better or for worse, he must escape at once—he could not
 go through with it, he had made up his mind—tomorrow he 
must inform Horace that posing as a nude model was a thing he 
was quite unable to do. Would Horace excuse him nude-posing
 please, as a great concession! It would be asking him to suffer
the tortures of the Damned! Please Horace, do not ask me to 
strip and nude-pose — not that! (It was not as though he were 
beautiful, he added with a secret blush.)

“What are you doing may I ask?” the horrid masculine
 accents banged out at him ever so loud in the big hollow studio,
 and caused him a fright-bang too — a discharge of adrenalin.

“Look sharp! I can’t hang about here all night for you to

Oh how that dreadful word peel left him not only naked, but 
skinless! What, wrench off his putamen, in obedience to this 
martinet? Oh what a horrid errand was this, upon which Horace 
had sent him! — if, that was, he had come to the right address.
 What an anguishing thought — the real Ape he had been sent in
quest of might in fact all the time be expecting him with a glass 
of sherry, in the studio opposite.

She had been lighting a cigarette, straddling her tiger-skinned
 hearth, selecting a seasoned cigarette-holder, resembling a 
Brissago, facing the mantelpiece. Catching sight (out of the 
corner of her eye) of this maddening male professional lay-figure,
 who had turned up to offer himself for posing-work, still in the
same place (posing as it were already where he stood) she wheeled
about in the most savage manner possible. Pointing to the
 screen, she shouted:

“There you idiot — over there! — can’t you see the bloody 
thing! Go over there and peel at once or I’ll chuck you out of
the bloody studio neck and crop! Yes I mean it! I do believe 
you’re some beastly Fairy! I don’t know what possessed Borstie
 to send a ghastly Fairy round here! It’s no use your making sheep’s eyes at me! Either go in there and peel or else beat it! 
Do you get me! Jump to it !

As she said jump she jumped herself, and more dead than 
alive Dan skipped as well. As she took a threatening step in his
 direction he turned tail, he rushed quickly over straight at the 
screen. Bolt upright behind it, his heart-rate trebled, he held
 his breath and bit his lip, rolling frightened eyes. He strained
 his ears to catch her movements. Oh — what he had gone through
 for the sake of this man! And did Horace return his devotion?
 He smiled wanly to himself, in the comparative darkness — no,
 one would scarcely say Horace did, to judge from all he made
 him suffer!

Dan became slowly aware that his was the opposite case to
that of the ostrich. He had achieved the occultation of his body,
 but the luxuriant summit of his head must be visible above the
 screen. So he made haste to crouch down, and in that position
 he placed an eye to a crack, where two of the panels of the screen
 met. With an intense alarm, he was able now to observe all the 
movements of the threatening masculine person beyond, in her 
sports-kit (dressed to kill, by sheer roughness, and to subdue all 
the skirted kind) scraping a large palette with an ugly looking 

He saw her look up, stop scraping, and incline her head to
listen. Then she called out sharply.

“I say aren’t you ready yet? You take a long time to peel for 
a man!”

There was a pause in which, knife in hand, she listened.

“I don’t believe you are peeling! “
He saw her put down the palette upon the model’s-throne,
 next to the dog-whip. She retained, he observed abashed, the 
long jack-knife in her hand.

In an instant Dan had wrenched off his jacket, torn from his
 neck his collar and his tie. With hands all thumbs and all
 a-flutter, he undid, and then in one continuous movement
 dropped down, and kicked off, his man’s long trousers — as if as a
 symbol of capitulation to the militant feminine-male beyond.
 Standing white, occult, and quite naked, his teeth chattering,
 with his vest in one hand and limp shoe in the other, he awaited 
the next move of the master-spirit — the boy-scout spinster mascu
line rake. But suddenly he was pulled up sharp with a vengeance, and put to work to think in earnest: he gazed, startled and guilty,
 blushing unseen, quite lost in thought. Feverishly he turned over 
in his mind a most knotty problem. It had not presented itself 
to him before, in the midst of this breathless march of events.

Necessity proved herself once again, upon the spot, the 
mother of invention, and he put down his shoe and seized the 
limp empty arms of the thin cotton vest. He held it out, until the
 square body of it hung like an apron before the midst of his 
person. With the speed bred of a high sense of decorum, he had
 passed the shoulder-line of the vest, rolled into a rude rope,
 about his waist — securing it behind, at the summit of the buttocks,
 in a large knot. Then he drew the apron that hung down
 between his legs, and he incorporated its extremity in the large 
bulging knot behind.

“Look here I’ve had about enough of this!” came the now 
familiar bark, from beyond the screen.” Are you coming out or
 not? Anyone would think you were a bloody woman!”

The imperious tones of crashing command rang out upon the
air of this palatial well of stern bachelor loneliness, and they froze
 his blood.

Blushing a deeper red than any hefty big-handed Susannah 
could ever compass — surprised by the most designing of Old Elders 
that ever stepped upon painted canvas, Dan came out into the 
obscene harsh light of the arc-lamp which hung above the 

He gave one dilated terrified glance at the woman standing 
astride before her easel. Turning swiftly, he rushed back behind 
the screen. There was a hoarse laugh from the haggard old
 bachelor-girl in sports-shorts. But her voice pursued him scorn-
fully over the screen, behind which once more he crouched:

“The world’s coyest virgin what! Well well well! Come 
out of that! Come out and let’s have a look at what all the fuss 
is about! I’m sure I don’t know what the men are coming to!”

Dan stood and shook behind the screen. Wildly he rolled his
 eyes to himself in a great effort to decide what steps to take, in this
 fearful emergency — what for a Pelman-brave would have been 
Kinderspiel. But he simply shook with blank indecision.

“I say, cut this out old bean will you? You’ve come to the 
wrong shop!” she raised her voice still more. (The wrong shop 
indeed! This could not be where Horace had sent him!)

“I shall absolutely lose my patience in two shakes of a donkey’s 
tail!” the harpy’s voice whipped him like a cat-o’-nine-tails. It
 had grown ugly too. “Come out unless you want me to step
 over there and drag you out by the – ! Chuck all this jolly 
rot and roll out, you dirty little sprucer, or I’ll stick you up on 
the jolly old throne myself!”

Upon a terrified sudden impulse Dan came swiftly out from
 behind the screen. He cast one glance of wild appeal at the
 woman, and rushed up upon the model’s-throne. There, blushing 
down to his waist line—the “ram and goat” even, of the horrid
 poetry, suffused with red, his solar plexus flushed, as if it had
been punched in boxing—he limply stood, his head turned in the
opposite direction from the watching slave-driving person, his 
body drooped in profile.

“Good!” she rapped at him. “Yes!” she said, with her
 painter’s squint. “Not at all bad!” she informed the nudity 
before her, with hearty male patronage, as she ran over his
 points, “you’re quite muscular!” she yawned.

The studio was extremely cold, when you were nude, and Dan
 was beside himself with fear. He shivered without ceasing, 
occasionally gulping.

“Model! Turn round — do you mind! I’ve had that view
 of you long enough.”

Slowly Dan moved, until the whole of his back was turned
 towards her.

“No!” the woman immediately bellowed, as she grasped 
the manoeuvre. “No! Not that way! Turn round this way. 
Not your back!”

With a fresh spasm of deep-red bashfulness, Dan still more 
slowly turned about, until he faced her. But he stood with 
averted face, gazing away to his right flank. He held his chin
 high, for beneath upon the floor of the throne was the dog-whip,
 and he wished to forget its presence.

“What on earth have you got there!” he heard her exclaim.
 Dan was petrified. The hard white light poured down over 
him, splitternaked and stark as your fist’s-face, he could not move 
a muscle. Oh, what obedience to Horace (if it were indeed 
Horace who had planned this) had led him to! In a pose of 
hieratic stiffness, his head in profile, he awaited her attack. He
 heard her brisk step and the rigor increased. Marching over with decision to the model’s-throne, she did not hesitate a moment.
 A half-scream, the first sound he had uttered since his entrance,
 broke from the lips of Dan, as with careless hand she rudely
 seized the coil of his cotton vest. Then, with a violent tug, she 
dragged it clean off his shrinking person.

Standing beneath him, his vest in one hand, she fixed him
 with a chilly masculine eye.

“Listen to me my dear man!” she said: she waved a dis
dainful hand in his direction, “that is of no interest whatever to
 me. Do you understand me? Put your mind quite at rest! It
would take a jolly sight more than the likes of you to vamp me!
 Get me ? So don’t let’s have any more of this stuff! You come
 here to sit, not to try and seduce me anyway! It’s love’s labour
 lost! See? Spare yourself the derangement!”

She threw down the vest upon a chair.

“Do you want to sit or not?”

Dan violently nodded his head. He desired from the bottom
 of his heart to sit down.

“Very well. Let’s get on with the War then! I shan’t pay 
you for the time you waste while you’re trying to vamp me! If
 you want to sit — sit!”

Dan again nodded his head, without looking at her, with 
great vehemence. She was appeased.

“Very well!” it became almost a tone of approval. “Here
 get hold of this!”

To his horror she snatched up the dog-whip and brandished it.
 He retreated a step, his eyes fixed upon her in terror. She held
 out to him the handle of the whip. He seized it, and his knees
 knocking lightly together from mingled cold and dread of what 
this fearful Ape might not require of him, he held it tightly at 
his side.

“Take up an attitude like this will you?”

Dan gave her askance one fleeting look of horror — for she had
 thrown herself into an attitude replete with offence not to some
 figure but to himself he felt.

“I want you for a figure of a roman soldier threatening Our 
Saviour. No that whip!”

Dan struck several attitudes. All were designed, as far as pos
sible, to minimize the immodesty of the glaring white crown-to-foot
 exposure of his animal self. The towering milk-pink declivities of the torso beneath the arc-light, the sectioning of the chest by
 the upright black feather of body-hair, the long polished blanched
 stalks of the legs, upon which the trunk oscillated, all moved hither
 and thither. He threw his head into the scales, first to the left then
 to the right. Full it is true of earth’s old timid grace, as haunted 
by the feminine irish chastity, he threatened an imaginary 
Saviour with a whip. But at length the restless evasive bulk
 fell into an accepted position.

“Stop like that!”

Camped energetically, charcoal in hand, she dropped into a
 watchful, pouncing attitude. She looked keenly from the white 
surface of the body to the white surface of the paper, and back.
 With difficulty Dan came to a halt.

“Can you keep that?” she asked him.

His whip gave a weary upward waggle. His head sank, in
melancholy affirmative. For a few seconds he held himself quite
 still. When he saw her eyes were upon her paper he moved
 about, seeking a more comfortable arrangement for his twisted 
nudity — one that might eventually lessen the immodesty.

Now a steady scratching began. A large sheet of paper was 
fixed upon a board. Her legs wide apart, the busy artist stood
 before her super-easel — thrusting out at arm’s-length a stick of 
charcoal, from time to time, while she squinted up the eye that 
was not furnished with the eye-glass. She computed relative 
distances, from one landmark to another, upon the person of her
 sitter. She joined these major points, upon the paper before her,
 with sweeping lines.

But for Dan the physical agony, in succession to the mental 
agony, had now set in. His hips had become still more incon
veniently twisted, in order to remove away to the left the greater 
part of his exposed person, and so present as far as possible an
 offenceless edge-on object to the eye of the observer. On one
 foot the heel was gracefully removed from the ground. The 
other foot received the complete weight of a muscle-laden body 
rising above two metres into the air.

The staccato rasp, flashed to and fro, of the brittle charcoal,
 was incessant. A page was whisked off the board with as much 
force as had been used to remove Dan’s vest. It fell to the floor 
and she stamped upon it as she returned to the attack, dashing dark 
black lines here and there upon the new page.

But Dan stood bathed in a cold perspiration. His face, from 
having been a sunset crimson, had become a corpse-like white.
 Then it became a most alarming pallid green. Holding stiffly at
 arm’s length the whip of the legionary, Dan swayed from side to 
side, with more and more giddy abandon.

“Keep still can’t you!” the enraged employer of labour 
shouted, from the easel. “I can’t draw you if you roll about
 like that!”

Dan’s last thought (before he fell) was of Horace. He had forgotten that this might be the wrong studio altogether. All he
 could say over and over again to himself was “Horace, why are 
you always so unkind — why — so always — unkind!”

Dan reeled, slowly at first. His body with a loud report came 
in contact with the floor of the model’s throne. As his head struck
he had a sickly flash of consciousness, and his body turned over,
in a slight convulsion. Then he lay relaxed at last in a deep faint.

When Dan came-to there were two voices audible — one soft
 and one hard. The hard one said,
 “Of course I thought you sent him, Borstie. How can you be 
so stupid!”

The soft voice replied inaudibly, it was a muffled tinkle.

“With that? Thank you!”

There was a hoarse whispering, with a snorted laugh or two,
 also a super-male chuckle, a bald ha-ha !

A more useless piece of goods I’ve never met with.”

“It is certainly a horrid sight.”

“You’re right. If it could only stand up on its legs!”
 “You don’t propose to pay it for lying on its back do you”

“The trouble I had to get the animal to peel ! II s’est fait
 prie ma chere.”

“Isn’t he a model? —What does he come for?” 
”I think he thought he’d got a bonne poire. He tried to
 vamp me!”

“My dear! That!”

“Oh yes. He wanted me to undress him. He was most
 averse to posing.”

“Pah! Turn it over! I don’t want to look at that any more!”
 Opening an eye slightly, Dan perceived a second younger 
figure, that that possessed the softer voice, beside the first — but
 dressed with recognized feminine elegance, with a breast visible to the nipple, and with sun-kissed silken legs all-clear to the 
tenderloin. Then a rough hand seized his shoulders and
 attempted to roll him along the floor of the throne.

“Don’t touch him—he might not like it, if he were conscious,” 
the feminine voice remarked, solicitous for the safety of her mate.

The man-voice snorted defiance, and gave Dan another big

Dan’s head and neck were wet with water. He made a slight 
movement with his arm.

He if coming round” said the slight voice. “My dear!

“Model! Do you feel better?”

Dan was nearer the edge of the throne now: with an eel-like
 agility born of shame and terror he rolled off, and as he did so he
 sprang to his feet. The newcomer started back and uttered a
 scream. Swiftly Dan regained the cover of the model’s undress
ing screen. His “vanish” was accompanied by two loud shouts 
of laughter from extraordinary woman No. I — who, at his bashful
 exit, indulged in the coarsest mirth, pointing after him with her 
cigarette-holder to her sweetheart, who tittered sneeringly as the 
great white mass disappeared, like a rat into its hole.

With a violent head-ache, overwhelmed with shame, Dan got
 his clothes on very quickly. But the vest remained in the hands
 of the feminine enemy. When he was quite ready, standing in 
his hiding-place he waited some minutes. He hoped that the 
second woman might take herself off. But the terrible voice of 
the first to bring him to his senses soon rang out.

“How much longer are you going to potter about in there?
 If I hadn’t seen all you’ve got I should have thought you were a
 woman. Hallo! Come out! I’ve had enough of your com
pany. Hop it! Do you hear model ?”

Dan came out and went towards the door with averted head.

“Here. Here is a half-crown for you.”

She intercepted him and thrust the money up into the occulted
palm of his trembling hand.

“Go and have a Scotch.”

He held the half-crown in his hand, and he went on towards 
the door.

“You don’t appear satisfied. It’s all you’ll get! It’s a bloody 
sight more than you deserve!”

She slammed the door upon him, as soon as he had passed out 
into the garden.

Night had now fallen. In the lighted doorway of the opposite
 studio stood a dark eminently feminine figure. As he went
 through the wicket-gate he observed it making signs to him.
 Without losing time he decamped at the double, but he heard
 at his back in the darkness a tinkling voice.

“Is that Mr. Boleyn by any chance?”

That was it! Evidently that could be none other than Miss
 Ansell, to whom he had been supposed to go after Yarmouth Place.
 He had got into the wrong studio. Horace was not to blame! He 
did not look back but hastened away from this monstrous colony.

Wyndham Lewis. 1882-1957.  Apes of God. 1930