The way to judge him is to try to walk all round him—on which we see how remarkably far we have to go.” When the great novelist wrote these lines of Balzac he must have been thinking not only of the formidable number of the Frenchman’s books, but still more of the rich multiplicity of his ideas. So with Henry James himself, impressive as his output has been in sheer bulk—thirty-five novels and collections of tales, published in England, and some dozen volumes of plays, travel, criticism and biography—yet we shall ever regard him as an author pre-eminently distinguished by the precious quality rather than the gross quantity of his achievements. To define that quality in precise terms would need a mind as subtly analytic as his own, and though many attempts have been made to discover the figure in his carpet, no critic as yet can claim to have discovered the “element that gave unity to all his works.” We know his carpet was our complex, modern, cosmopolitan world, its warp and woof the twisted threads of social intercourse; but when we search for the primal plan our attention is apt to be caught and arrested by changing patterns of human relationships, by their wonder, their beauty, at times by their nobility. Beauty, a beauty of thought as well as a rare exquisiteness of diction, is an element never absent from the work of Henry James; and in a sense it is true that he must have laboured lovingly for half a century to express the beauty he had observed and conceived. But that is not enough, the supremacy of beauty is not his only message. We get some measure of his range when we realise that we might as well attempt to sum up in a sentence the message of Shakespeare as that of Henry James. All we can do is to pick out here or there dominant impressions, postulates on which he insisted again and again in his writings.