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Title: A Librarian's Open Shelf
Author: Bostwick, Arthur E.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Librarian's Open Shelf" ***






The papers here gathered together represent the activities of a librarian
in directions outside the boundaries of his professional career, although
the influences of it may be detected in them here and there. Except for
those influences they have little connection and the transition of thought
and treatment from one to another may occasionally seem violent. It may,
however, serve to protect the reader from the assaults of monotony.



  (_The Critic_, July, 1901, p. 67-70)

  (_The Book Lover_, January, 1904, p. 12-16)

  (_The Book Buyer_, June, 1897, p. 500-1)

  (_Educational Review_, November, 1907, p. 365-73)

  Read before the American Library Association, Asheville Conference,
  May 28, 1907. (_A.L.A. Bulletin_, July, 1907, p. 183-7)

  Delivered before the Library Associations of Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas,
  Missouri, Indiana and Ohio, October 9-18, 1907. (_Library Journal_,
  January, 1908, p. 3-9)

  (_Notes and News_, Montclair, N.J., July, 1908)

  Read at the opening of the Chestnut Hill Branch, Philadelphia Free
  Library, January 22, 1909. (_Library Journal_, February, 1909, p.

  (_Review of Reviews_, August, 1909, p. 171-4)

  Read before the Pacific Northwest Library Association, June, 1910.
  (_P.N.W.L.A. Proceedings_, 1910, p. 8-23)

  Read before the St. Louis Academy of Science. (_The Monist_,
  October, 1912, p. 580-5)

  (_Minnesota Library Notes and News_, December, 1912, p. 190-7)

  Read before the National Education Association. (_N.E.A.
  Proceedings_, 1912, p. 240-5)

  (_St. Louis Mirror_, July 18, 1913)


  Read before the New England Society of St. Louis. (_New England
  Society of St. Louis_. _Proceedings_, 29th year, p. 13-20)

  A Flag Day address in St. Peter's church, St. Louis. (_St. Louis
  Republic_, June 15, 1914)

  Read before the Chicago Women's Club, January 6, 1915. (_Library
  Journal_, April, 1915, p. 227-32)

  Read before the New York Library Association at Squirrel Inn, Haines
  Falls, September 28, 1915. (_Library Journal_, November, 1915, p.

  A Commencement address to the graduating class of the School of
  Pharmacy, St. Louis, May 19, 1915. (_Journal of the American
  Pharmaceutical Association_, August, 1915, p. 915-22)

  Read before the American Library Association, Asbury Park, N.J.,
  June 27, 1916. (_Library Journal_, August, 1916, p. 541-7)

  (_The Bookman_, January-March, 1915, p. 515-21, 642-7, 64-70)

  (_Yale Review_, January, 1917, p. 358-68)

  Read before the Town and Gown Club, St. Louis.

  Address at the closing section of the Church School of Religious





Those who are interested in the proper use of our libraries are asking
continually, "What do readers read?" and the tables of class-percentages
in the annual reports of those institutions show that librarians are at
least making an attempt to satisfy these queries. But a question that is
still more fundamental and quite as vital is: Do readers read at all? This
is not a paradox, but a common-sense question, as the following suggestive
little incident will show. The librarian-in-charge of a crowded branch
circulating-library in New York City had occasion to talk, not long ago,
to one of her "star" borrowers, a youth who had taken out his two good
books a week regularly for nearly a year and whom she had looked upon as a
model--so much so that she had never thought it necessary to advise with
him regarding his reading. In response to a question this lad made answer
somewhat as follows: "Yes, ma'am, I'm doing pretty well with my reading. I
think I should get on nicely if I could only once manage to read a book
through; but somehow I can't seem to do it." This boy had actually taken
to his home nearly a hundred books, returning each regularly and borrowing
another, without reading to the end of a single one of them.

That this case is not isolated and abnormal, but is typical of the way in
which a large class of readers treat books, there is, as we shall see,
only too much reason to believe.

The facts are peculiarly hard to get at. At first sight there would seem
to be no way to find out whether the books that our libraries circulate
have been read through from cover to cover, or only half through, or not
at all. To be sure, each borrower might be questioned on the subject as he
returned his book, but this method, would be resented as inquisitorial,
and after all there would be no certainty that the data so gathered were
true. By counting the stamps on the library book-card or dating-slip we
can tell how many times a book has been borrowed, but this gives us no
information about whether it has or has not been read. Fortunately for our
present purpose, however, many works are published in a series of volumes,
each of which is charged separately, and an examination of the different
slips will tell us whether or not the whole work has been read through by
all those who borrowed it. If, for instance in a two-volume work each
volume has gone out twenty times, twenty borrowers either have read it
through or have stopped somewhere in the second volume, while if the first
volume is charged twenty times and the second only fourteen, it is certain
that six of those who took out the first volume did not get as far as the
second. In works of more than two volumes we can tell with still greater
accuracy at what point the reader's interest was insufficient to carry him

Such an investigation has been made of all works in more than one volume
contained in seven branches of the Brooklyn Public Library, and with very
few exceptions it has been found that each successive volume in a series
has been read by fewer persons than the one immediately preceding. What is
true of books in more than one volume is presumably also true, although
perhaps in a less degree, of one-volume works, although we have no means
of showing it directly. Among the readers of every book, then, there are
generally some who, for one reason or other, do not read it to the end.
Our question, "Do readers read?" is thus answered in the negative for a
large number of cases. The supplementary question, "Why do not readers
read?" occurs at once, but an attempt to answer it would take us rather
too deeply into psychology. Whether this tendency to leave the latter part
of books unread is increasing or not we can tell only by repeating the
present investigation at intervals of a year or more. The probability is
that it is due to pure lack of interest. For some reason or other, many
persons begin to read books that fail to hold their attention. In a large
number of cases this is doubtless due to a feeling that one "ought to
read" certain books and certain classes of books. A sense of duty carries
the reader part way through his task, but he weakens before he has
finished it.

This shows how necessary it is to stimulate one's general interest in a
subject before advising him to read a book that is not itself calculated
to arouse and sustain that interest. Possibly the modern newspaper habit,
with its encouragement of slipshod reading, may play its part in producing
the general result, and doubtless a careful detailed investigation would
reveal still other partial causes, but the chief and determining cause
must be lack of interest. And it is to be feared that instead of taking
measures to arouse a permanent interest in good literature, which would in
itself lead to the reading of standard works and would sustain the reader
until he had finished his task, we have often tried to replace such an
interest by a fictitious and temporary stimulus, due to appeals to duty,
or to that vague and confused idea that one should "improve one's mind,"
unaccompanied by any definite plan of ways and means. There is no more
powerful moral motor than duty, but it loses its force when we try to
apply it to cases that lie without the province of ethics. The man who has
no permanent interest in historical literature, and who is impelled to
begin a six-volume history because he conceives it to be his "duty" to
read it, is apt to conclude, before he has finished the second volume,
that his is a case where inclination (or in this instance disinclination)
is the proper guide.

As a matter of fact, the formation of a cultivated and permanent taste for
good reading is generally a matter of lifelong education. It must be begun
when the child reads his first book. An encouraging sign for the future is
the care that is now taken in all good libraries to supervise the reading
of children and to provide for them special quarters and facilities. A
somewhat disheartening circumstance, on the other hand, is the
multiplication of annotated and abbreviated children's editions of all
sorts of works that were read by the last generation of children without
any such treatment. This kind of boned chicken may be very well for the
mental invalid, but the ordinary child prefers to separate his meat from
the "drumstick" by his own unaided effort, and there is no doubt that it
is better for him to do so.

In the following table, the average circulation of first volumes, second
volumes, etc., is given for each of seven classes of works. The falling
off from volume to volume is noticeable in each class. It is most marked
in science, and least so, as might be expected, in fiction. Yet it is
remarkable that there should be any falling off at all in fiction. The
record shows that the proportion of readers who cannot even read to the
end of a novel is relatively large. These are doubtless the good people
who speak of Dickens as "solid reading" and who regard Thackeray with as
remote an eye as they do Gibbon. For such "The Duchess" furnishes good
mental pabulum, and Miss Corelli provides flights into the loftier regions
of philosophy.

             Vol. Vol. Vol. Vol. Vol. Vol. Vol. Vol. Vol. Vol. Vol. Vol.
  CLASS        I.  II. III.  IV.   V.  VI. VII. VIII  IX.   X.  XI. XII.

  History    10.1  6.9  4.9  4.4  4.6  4.3  2.5  2.8  1.0  0.5  1.0  3.0
  Biography   7.2  5.1  3.0  2.3  1.6  1.0  1.6  1.2  1.0  2.
  Travel      9.2  7.9
  Literature  7.3  5.9  3.5  3.8  5.3  6.6 19.0 15.0 21.0
  Arts        4.7  3.7  3.0
  Sciences    5.2  2.7  1.5
  Fiction    22.0 18.9 15.8 16.  26.  16.

The figures in the table, as has been stated, are averages, and the number
of cases averaged decreases rapidly as we reach the later volumes,
because, of course, the number of works that run beyond four or five
volumes is relatively small. Hence the figures for the higher volumes are
irregular. Any volume may have been withdrawn separately for reference
without any intention of reading its companions. Among the earlier volumes
such use counts for little, owing to the large number of volumes averaged,
while it may and does make the figures for the later volumes irregular.
Thus, under History the high number in the twelfth column represents
one-twelfth volume of Froude, which was taken out three times, evidently
for separate reference, as the eleventh was withdrawn but once.
Furthermore, apart from this irregularity, the figures for the later
volumes are relatively large, for a work in many volumes is apt to be a
standard, and although its use falls rapidly from start to finish enough
readers persevere to the end to make the final averages compare unduly
well with the initial ones where the high use of the same work is averaged
in with smaller use of dozens of other first and second volumes. That the
falling off from beginning to end in such long works is much more striking
than would appear from the averages alone may be seen from the following
records of separate works in numerous volumes:

                                 I  II  III IV   V  VI  VII VIII IX  X

  Grote, "Greece"               11   6   5   2   1   0   1   1   1   0
  Bancroft, "United States"     22  10   6   8  10   8
  Hume, "England"               24   7   5   2   1   1
  Gibbon, "Rome"                38  12   7   3   4   6
  Motley, "United Netherlands"   7   1   1   1
  Prescott, "Ferdinand and
    Isabella"                   20   4   2
  Carlyle, "French Revolution"  18  10   8
  McCarthy, "Our Own Times"     27   8  11


  Bourienne, "Memoirs of
    Napoleon"                   19  18   9   7
  Longfellow's "Life"            6   4   2
  Nicolay and Hay, "Lincoln"     6   3   3   2   2   2   2   1   1   2
  Carlyle, "Frederick the
    Great"                       7   3   2   2   2


  Dumas, "Vicomte de
    Bragelonne"                 31  30  24  22  21  16
  Dumas, "Monte Cristo"         27  17  18
  Dickens, "Our Mutual Friend"   5   4   1   0
  Stowe, "Uncle Tom's Cabin"    37  24

Of course, these could be multiplied indefinitely. They are sufficiently
interesting apart from all comment. One would hardly believe without
direct evidence that of thirty-one persons who began one of Dumas's
romances scarcely half would read it to the end, or that not one of five
persons who essayed Dickens's "Mutual Friend" would succeed in getting
through it.

Those who think that there can be no pathos in statistics are invited to
ponder this table deeply. Can anyone think unmoved of those two dozen
readers who, feeling impelled by desire for an intellectual stimulant to
take up Hume, found therein a soporific instead and fell by the wayside?

A curious fact is that the tendency to attempt to "begin at the beginning"
is so strong that it sometimes extends to collected works in which there
is no sequence from volume to volume. Thus we have the following:

                              Vol.  Vol.  Vol.  Vol.  Vol.  Vol.
                                I.   II.  III.   IV.    V.   VI.

  Chaucer, "Poetical Works"    38     9     5
  Milton, "Poetical Works"     19     8
  Longfellow, "Poetical Works" 14    15     2    10     3     3
  Emerson, "Essays"            48    13
  Ward, "English Poets"        13     2     6

There are of course exceptions to the rule that circulation decreases
steadily from volume to volume. Here are a few:

                                   Vol.  Vol.  Vol.  Vol.
                                     I.   II.  III.   IV.

  Fiske, "Old Virginia"            26    24
  Spears, "History of the Navy"    44    39    36    36
  Andrews, "Last Quarter Century"   8     8
  Kennan, "Siberia"                15    13

In the case of the two-volume works the interest-sustaining power may not
always be as great as would appear, because when the reader desires it,
two volumes are given out as one; but the stamps on the dating-slips show
that this fact counted for little in the present instances.

I would not assume that the inferences in the present article are of any
special value. The statistical facts are the thing. So far as I know, no
one has called attention to them before, and they are certainly worthy of
all interest and attention.


Does the reading public read because it has a literary taste or for some
other reason? In the case of the public library, for instance, does a man
start with an overwhelming desire to read or study books and is he
impelled thereby to seek out the place where he may most easily and best
obtain them? Or is he primarily attracted to the library by some other
consideration, his love for books and reading acting only in a secondary
manner? The New York Public Library, for instance, carries on the registry
books of its circulating department nearly 400,000 names, and in the
course of a year nearly 35,000 new applications are made for the use of
its branch libraries, scattered over different parts of the city. What
brings these people to the library? This is no idle question. The number
of library users, large as it is, represents too small a fraction of our
population. If it is a good thing to provide free reading matter for our
people--and every large city in the country has committed itself to the
truth of this proposition--we should certainly try to see that what we
furnish is used by all who need it. Hence an examination into the motives
that induce people to make their first use of a free public library may
bring out information that is not only interesting but useful. To this end
several hundred regular users of the branches of the New York Public
Library were recently asked this question directly, and the answers are
tabulated and discussed below. In each of sixteen branch libraries the
persons interrogated numbered forty--ten each of men, women, boys and
girls. Thirty answers have been thrown out for irrelevancy or
defectiveness. The others are classified in the following table:

            A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L  Totals

  Men       6  64  10  ..  ..  ..  37  20   3   1   9   4   154
  Boys     38  63  28  ..   4   3   9   6   5  ..  ..   3   159
  Women    12  67  14   4  ..  ..  20  21   2   1   2   5   148
  Girls    33  69  34  ..  ..  ..   5   3   3  ..  ..   2   149
    Total  89 263  86   4   4   3  71  50  13   2  11  14   610

  Col. A: Sent or Told by Teacher
  Col. B: Sent or Told by Friend
  Col. C: Sent or Told by Relative
  Col. D: Sent or Told by Clergyman
  Col. E: Sent or Told by Library Assistant
  Col. F: Through Reading Room
  Col. G: Saw Building
  Col. H: Saw Sign
  Col. I: Saw Library Books
  Col. J: Saw Bulletin
  Col. K: Saw Article in Paper
  Col. L: Sought Library

It will be seen that the vast majority of those questioned were led to the
library by some circumstance other than the simple desire to find a place
where books could be obtained. Of more than six hundred persons whose
answers are here recorded only fourteen found the library as the result of
a direct search for it prompted by a desire to read. In a majority of the
other cases, of course, perhaps in all of them, the desire to read had its
part, but this desire was awakened by hearing a mention of the library or
by seeing it or something connected with it. These determining
circumstances fall into two classes, those that worked through the ear and
those that operated through the eye.

Those who _heard_ of the library in some way numbered 449, while those who
_saw_ it or something connected with it were only 147--an interesting
fact, especially as we are told by psychologists that apprehension and
memory through sight are of a higher type than the same functions where
exercised through hearing. Probably, however, this difference was
dependent on the fact that the thing heard was in most cases a direct
injunction or a piece of advice, while the thing seen did not act with
similar urgency. There are some surprises in the table. For instance, only
four persons were sent directly to libraries by persons employed therein.
Doubtless the average library assistant wishes to get as far from "shop"
as possible in her leisure hours, but it is still disappointing to find
that those who are employed in our libraries exercise so little influence
in bringing persons to use them. The same thing is true of the influence
of reading rooms. In many of the branch libraries in New York there are
separate reading rooms to which others than card-holders in the library
are admitted, and one of the chief arguments for this has been that the
user of such a room, having become accustomed to resort to the library
building, would be apt to use the books. Apparently, however, such persons
are in the minority. No less disappointing is the slight influence of the
clergy. Only four persons report this as a determining influence and these
were all women connected with a branch which was formerly the parish
library of a New York church.

The influence of the press, too, seems to amount to little, in spite of
the fact that the newspapers in New York have freely commented on the
valuable work of the branch libraries and have called attention to it both
in the news and editorial columns whenever occasion offered. Do the
readers of library books in New York shun the public-press, or do they pay
scant heed to what they read therein?

Another somewhat noteworthy fact is that of the 449 persons who sought the
library by advice of some one, only 89 were sent by teachers. But perhaps
this is unfair. Of 265 boys and girls who thus came to the library, only
71 were sent by teachers. This is a larger percentage, but it is still not
so large as we might expect.

The difference between adults and children comes out quite strikingly in a
few instances. We should have foreseen this of course in the case of
advice by teachers, which was reported by 71 children and only 18 adults
as a reason for visiting the library. Here we should not have expected
this reason to be given by adults at all. Doubtless these were chiefly
young men and women who had used the library since their school-days. In
like manner the advice or injunction of relatives was more patent with
children than with adults, the proportion here being 62 to 24. This
probably illustrates the power of parental injunction. In another case the
difference comes out in a wholly unexpected way. Of the 71 persons who
reported that they were attracted to the library by seeing the buildings,
57 were adults and only 14 children. The same is true of those who were
led in by seeing a sign, who numbered 41 adults to only 9 children. This
seems to show either that adults are more observant or that children are
more diffident in following out an impulse of this kind. It completely
negatives the ordinary impression among librarians, at least in New York,
where it has been believed that the sight of a library building,
especially where the work going on inside is visible from the street, is a
potent attraction to the young. Some of the new branch buildings in New
York have even been planned with a special view to the exercise of this
kind of attraction.

The small number of persons who were attracted by printed matter, in
library or general publications, were entirely adults. The one instance
where age seems to exercise no particular influence is that of the advice
of friends, by which old and young alike seem to have profited.

The influence of sex does not appear clearly, although among those who
followed the injunction of relatives the women and girls are slightly in
the majority, and the four who were sent by clergymen were all women. Of
those who were attracted by the buildings 46 were male and 25 female,
which may mean that men are somewhat more observant or less diffident than

A few of those questioned relate their experiences at some length. Says
one boy: "A boy friend of mine said he belonged to this library and he
found some very good books here. He asked me if I wanted to join; I said
yes. He told me I would have to get a reference. I got one, and joined
this library." Another one reports: "I saw a boy in the street and asked
him where he was going. He said he was going to the library. I asked him
what the library was and he told me; so I came up here and have been
coming ever since."

Critical judgment is shown by some of the young people. One boy says: "I
heard all the other boys saying it was a good library and that the books
were better kept than in a majority of libraries." A girl says that
friends "told her what nice books were in this library." In one case a
boy's brother "told him he could get the best books here for his needs."

The combination of man and book seems to be very attractive. One child
"saw a boy in school with a book, telling what a boy should know about
electricity; I wanted to read that book and joined the library." Others
"followed a crowd of little boys with books"; "saw children taking books
out of the building and asked them about joining"; "saw a boy carrying
books and asked if there was a library in the neighborhood." A woman "saw
a child with a library book in the park and asked her for the address of
the library." Sometimes the book alone does the work, as shown by the
following laconic report: "Found a book in the park; took it to the
library; joined it." A cause of sorrow to many librarians who have decided
ideas regarding literature for children will be the report of a boy who
exclaimed: "Horatio Alger did it!" On being asked to explain, he said that
a friend had brought one of Alger's books to his house and that he was
thereby attracted to the library.

Among those who were brought in by relatives are children who were first
carried by their mothers to the library as infants and so grew naturally
into its use. Sometimes the influence works upward instead of downward,
for several adults report that their children brought them to the library
or induced them to visit it. One man reports that he "got married and his
wife induced him to come."

Some of the reasons given are curious. A few are unconnected with the use
of books. One girl came to the library because "it was a very handy
library"; another, because she "saw it was a nice place to come to on a
rainy day." Still another frankly avows that "it was the fad among the
boys and girls of our neighborhood; we used to meet at the library." A
postman reported that he entered the library first in the line of his
duty, but was attracted by it and began to take out books. A clergyman had
his attention called to the library by requests from choir-boys that he
should sign their application blanks; afterwards thinking that he might
find books there for his own reading, he became a regular user. One user
came first to the library to see an exhibition of pictures of old New
York. A recent importation says: "When I came from Paris I found all my
cousins speaking English; 'well,' they said, 'go to the library and take
books'"--a process that doubtless did its share toward making an American
of the new arrival. In another case, the Americanizing process has not yet
reached the stage where the user's English is altogether intelligible. He
says: "Because I like to read the book. I ask the bakery lady to my
reference and I sing my neam" [sign my name?].

Here are some examples of recently acquired elegance in diction that are
almost baboo-like in their hopelessness: "Because it interest about the
countries that are far away. It gives knowledge to many of the people in
this country." "So as to obtain knowledge from them and by reading books
find out how the great men were in their former days and all about them
and the world and its people." It will be seen that the last two writers
were among those who misunderstood our questions and told why they read
books rather than how they were first led to the use of a library.

These reports are far from possessing merely a passing interest for the
curious. For the public librarian, whose wish it is to reach as large a
proportion of the public as possible, they are full of valuable hints.
They emphasize, for instance, the urgent necessity of winning the good
will of the public, and they forcibly remind us that this is of more value
in gaining a foothold for the library than columns of notices in the
papers or thousands of circulars or cards distributed in the neighborhood.
It is even more potent than a beautiful building. Attractive as this is,
its value as an influence to secure new readers is vastly less than a
reputation for hospitality and helpfulness.

In looking over the figures one rather disquieting thought cannot be kept
down. If the good will of the public is so potent in increasing the use of
the library, the ill will of the same public must be equally potent in the
opposite direction. Some of those who are satisfied with us and our work
are here put on record. How about the dissatisfied? A record of these
might be even more interesting, for it would point out weaknesses to be
strengthened and errors to be avoided--but that, as Kipling says, "is
another story."


If there is one particular advantage possessed by the Teutonic over the
Romance languages in idiomatic clearness and precision it is that
conferred by their ownership of a possessive case, almost the sole
remaining monument to the fact that our ancestors spoke an inflected
tongue. That we should still be able to speak of "the baker's wife's dog"
instead of "the dog of the wife of the baker" certainly should be regarded
by English-speaking people as a precious birthright. Yet, there are
increasing evidences of a tendency to discard this only remaining
case-ending and to replace its powerful backbone with the comparatively
limp and cartilaginous preposition. This tendency has not yet appeared so
much in our spoken as in our written language, and even here only in the
most formal parts of it. It is especially noticeable in the diction of the
purely formal title and heading.

That the reader may have something beyond an unsupported assertion that
this is the case, I purpose to offer in evidence the titles of some recent
works of fiction, and to make a brief statistical study of them.

The titles were taken from the adult fiction lists in the Monthly
Bulletins of the New York Free Circulating Library from November, 1895, to
March, 1897, inclusive, and are all such titles as contain a possessive,
whether expressed by the possessive case or by the preposition "of" with
the objective. Some titles are included in which the grammatical relation
is slightly different, but all admit the alternative of the case-ending
"'s" or "of" followed by the objective case.

Of the 101 titles thus selected, 41 use the possessive case and 60 the
objective with the preposition. This proportion is in itself sufficiently
suggestive, but it becomes still more so by comparing it with the
corresponding proportion among a different set of titles. For this purpose
101 fiction titles were selected, just as they appeared in alphabetical
order, from a library catalogue bearing the date 1889; only those being
taken, as before, that contain a possessive. Of these 101, 71 use the
possessive case and 30 the objective with "of." In other words, where
eight years ago nearly three-quarters of such titles used the possessive
case, now only two-fifths use it, a proportionate reduction of nearly

The change appears still more striking when we study the titles a little
more closely. Of those in the earlier series there is not one that is not
good, idiomatic English as it stands, whichever form is used; we may even
say that there is not one that would not be made less idiomatic by a
change to the alternative form. Among the recent titles, however, while
the forms using the possessive case are all better as they are, of the 60
titles that use the objective with "of" only 22 would be injured by a
change, and the reason why 8 of these are better as they are is simply
that change would destroy euphony. Among these eight are

  "The Indiscretion of the Duchess,"
  "The Flight of a Shadow,"
  "The Secret of Narcisse," etc.,

where the more idiomatic forms,

  "The Duchess's Indiscretion,"
  "Narcisse's Secret,"
  "A Shadow's Flight," etc.,

are certainly not euphonic.

Of the others, 8 would not be injured by a change, and no less than 30
would be improved from the standpoint of idiomatic English. It may be well
to quote these thirty titles. They are:

  "The Shadow of Hilton Fernbrook,"
  "The Statement of Stella Maberly,"
  "The Shadow of John Wallace,"
  "The Banishment of Jessop Blythe,"
  "The Desire of the Moth,"
  "The Island of Dr. Moreau,"
  "The Damnation of Theron Ware,"
  "The Courtship of Morrice Buckler,"
  "The Daughter of a Stoic,"
  "The Lament of Dives,"
  "The Heart of Princess Osra,"
  "The Death of the Lion,"
  "The Vengeance of James Vansittart,"
  "The Wife of a Vain Man,"
  "The Crime of Henry Vane,"
  "The Son of Old Harry,"
  "The Honour of Savelli,"
  "The Life of Nancy,"
  "The Story of Lawrence Garthe,"
  "The Marriage of Esther,"
  "The House of Martha,"
  "Tales of an Engineer,"
  "Love-letters of a Worldly Woman,"
  "The Way of a Maid,"
  "The Soul of Pierre,"
  "The Day of Their Wedding,"
  "The Exploits of Brigadier Gerard,"
  "The Hand of Ethelberta,"
  "The Failure of Sibyl Fletcher,"
  "The Love-affairs of an Old Maid."

Of course, in such a division as this, much must depend on individual
judgment and bias. Probably no two persons would divide the list in just
the same way, but it is my belief that the general result in each case
would be much the same. To me the possessive in every one of the
above-quoted titles would have been more idiomatic, thus:

  "Hilton Fernbrook's Shadow,"
  "Stella Maberly's Statement,"
  "John Wallace's Shadow,"
  "Morrice Buckler's Courtship,"
  "A Stoic's Daughter,"
  "Henry Vane's Crime," etc., etc.

In one case, at least, this fact has been recognized by a publisher, for
"The Vengeance of James Vansittart," whose title is included in the list
given above, has appeared in a later edition as "James Vansittart's
Vengeance"--a palpable improvement.

I shall not discuss the cause of this change in the use of the possessive,
though it seems to me an evident Gallicism, nor shall I open the question
of whether it is a mere passing fad or the beginning of an actual
alteration in the language. However this may be, it seems undeniable that
there is an actual and considerable difference in the use of the
possessive to-day and its use ten years ago, at least in formal titles and
headings. I have confined myself to book-titles, because that is the
department where the tendency presents itself to me most clearly; but it
may be seen on street signs, in advertisements, and in newspaper headings.
It is not to be found yet in the spoken language, at least it is not
noticeable there, but it would be decidedly unsafe to prophesy that it
will never appear there. Ten years from now we may hear about "the
breaking of the arm of John Smith" and "the hat of Tom," without a thought
that these phrases have not been part of our idiomatic speech since
Shakespeare's time.


    [1] Read before the Schoolmen of New York.

Since Darwin called attention to the role of what he named "natural
selection" in the genesis and preservation of species, and since his
successors, both followers and opponents, have added to this many other
kinds of selection that are continually operative, it has become
increasingly evident that from one standpoint we may look on the sum of
natural processes, organic and inorganic, as a vast selective system, as
the result of which things are as they are, whether the results are the
positions of celestial bodies or the relative places of human beings in
the intellectual or social scale. The exact constitution of the present
population of New York is the result of a great number of selective acts,
some regular, others more or less haphazard. Selection is no less
selection because it occurs by what we call chance--for chance is only our
name for the totality of trivial and unconsidered causes. When, however,
we count man and man's efforts in the sum of natural objects and forces,
we have to reckon with his intelligence in these selective processes. I
desire to call attention to the place that they play in educative systems
and in particular to the way in which they may be furthered or made more
effective by books, especially by public collections of books.

When we think of any kind of training as it affects the individual, we
most naturally regard it as changing that individual, as making him more
fit, either for life in general or for some special form of life's
activities. But when we think of it as affecting a whole community or a
whole nation, we may regard it as essentially a selective process. In a
given community it is not only desirable that a certain number of men
should be trained to do a specified kind of work, but it is even more
desirable that these should be the men that are best fitted to do this
work. When Mr. Luther Burbank brings into play the selection by means of
which he achieves his remarkable results in plant breeding he gets rid of
the unfit by destruction, and as all are unfit for the moment that do not
advance the special end that he has in view, he burns up plants--new and
interesting varieties perhaps--by the hundred thousand. We cannot destroy
the unfit, nor do we desire to do so, for from the educational point of
view unfitness is merely bad adjustment. There is a place for every man in
the world and it is the educators business to see that he reaches it, if
not by formative, then by selective processes. This selection is badly
made in our present state of civilization. It depends to a large extent
upon circumstances remote from the training itself--upon caprice, either
that of the person to be trained or of his parents, upon accidents of
birth or situation, upon a thousand irrelevant things; but in every case
there are elements present in the training itself that aid in determining
it. A young man begins to study medicine, and he finds that his physical
repulsion for work in the dissecting-room can not be overcome. He abandons
the study and by doing so eliminates an unfit person. A boy who has no
head for figures enters a business college. He can not get his diploma,
and the community is spared one bad bookkeeper. Certainly in some
instances, possibly in all, technical and professional schools that are
noted for the excellence of their product are superior not so much because
they have better methods of training, but because their material is of
better quality, owing to selection exercised either purposely, or
automatically, or perhaps by some chance. The same is true of colleges. Of
two institutions with the same curriculum and equally able instructors,
the one with the widest reputation will turn out the best graduates
because it attracts abler men from a wider field. This is true even in
such a department as athletics. To him that hath shall be given. This is
purely an automatic selective effect.

It would appear desirable to dwell more upon selective features in
educational training, to ascertain what they are in each case and how they
work, and to control and dispose them with more systematic care. Different
minds will always attach different degrees of importance to natural and
acquired fitness, but probably all will agree that training bestowed upon
the absolutely unfit is worse than useless, and that there are persons
whose natural aptitudes are so great that upon them a minimum of training
will produce a maximum effect. Such selective features as our present
educational processes possess, the examination, for instance, are mostly
exclusive; they aim to bar out the unfit rather than to attract the fit.
Here is a feature on which some attention may well be fixt.

How do these considerations affect the subject of general education? Are
we to affirm that arithmetic is only for the born mathematician and Latin
for the born linguist, and endeavor to ascertain who these may be? Not so;
for here we are training not experts but citizens. Discrimination here
must be not in the quality but in the quantity of training. We may divide
the members of any community into classes according as their formal
education--their school and college training--has lasted one, two, three,
four, or more years. There has been a selection here, but it has operated,
in general, even more imperfectly than in the case of special training.
Persons who are mentally qualified to continue their schooling to the end
of a college course, and who by so doing would become more useful members
of the community, are obliged to be content with two or three years in the
lower grades, while others, who are unfitted for the university, are kept
at it until they take, or fail to take, the bachelor's degree. An ideal
state of things, of course, would be to give each person the amount of
general education for which he is fitted and then stop. This would be
difficult of realization even if financial considerations did not so often
interfere. But at least we may keep in view the desirability of preventing
too many misfits and of insisting, so far as possible, on any selective
features that we may discover in present systems.

For instance, a powerful selective feature is the attractiveness of a
given course of study to those who are desired to pursue it. If we can
find a way, for example, to make our high school courses attractive to
those who are qualified to take them, while at the same time rendering
them very distasteful to those who are not so qualified, we shall
evidently have taken a step in the right direction. It is clear that both
parts of this prescription must be taken together or there is no true
selection. Much has been done of late years toward making educational
courses of all kinds interesting and attractive, but it is to be feared
that their attractiveness has been such as to appeal to the unfit as well
as to the fit. If we sugar-coat our pills indiscriminately and mix them
with candy, many will partake who need another kind of medicine
altogether. We must so arrange things that the fit will like while the
unfit dislike, and for this purpose the less sugar-coating the better.
This is no easy problem and it is intended merely to indicate it here, not
to propose a general solution.

The one thing to which attention should be directed is the role that may
be and is played by the printed book in selective education. There is more
or less effort to discredit books as educative tools and to lay emphasis
on oral instruction and manual training. We need not decry these, but, it
must be remembered that after all the book contains the record of man's
progress; we may tell how to do a thing, and show how to do it, but we
shall never do it in a better way or explain the why and wherefore, and
surely transmit that ability and that explanation to posterity, without
the aid of a stable record of some kind. If we are sure that our students
could and would pick out only what they needed, as a wild animal picks his
food in the woods, we might go far toward solving our problem, by simply
turning them loose in a collection of books. Some people have minds that
qualify them to profit by such "browsing," and some of these have
practically educated themselves in a library. Even in the more common
cases where formal training is absolutely necessary, access to other books
than text-books is an aid to selection both qualitative and quantitative.
Books may serve as samples. To take an extreme case, a boy who had no
knowledge whatever of the nature of law or medicine would certainly not be
competent to choose between them in selecting a profession, and a month
spent in a library where there were books on both subjects would certainly
operate to lessen his incompetence. Probably it would not be rash to
assert that with free access to books, under proper guidance, both before
and during a course of training, the persons who begin that course will
include more of the fit and those who finish it will include less of the
unfit, than without such access.

Let us consider one or two concrete examples. A college boy has the choice
of several different courses. He knows little of them, but thinks that one
will meet his needs. He elects it and finds too late that he is wasting
his time. Another boy, whose general reading has been sufficient to give
him some superficial knowledge of the subject-matter in all the courses,
sees clearly which will benefit him, and profits by that knowledge.

Again, a boy, full of the possibilities that would lead him to appreciate
the best in literature, has gained his knowledge of it from a teacher who
looks upon a literary masterpiece only as something to be dissected. The
student has been disgusted instead of inspired, and his whole life has
been deprived of one of the purest and most uplifting of all influences.
Had he been brought up in a library where he could make literary friends
and develop literary enthusiasms, his course with the dry as dust teacher
would have been only an unpleasant incident, instead of the wrecking of a
part of his intellectual life.

Still again, a boy on a farm has vague aspirations. He knows that he wants
a broader horizon, to get away from his cramped environment--that is about
all. How many boys, impelled by such feelings, have gone out into the
world with no clear idea of what they are fitted to do, or even what they
really desire! To how many others has the companionship of a few books
meant the opening of a peep-hole, thru which, dimly perhaps, but none the
less really, have been descried definite possibilities, needs, and

To all of these youths books have been selective aids merely--they have
added little or nothing to the actual training whose extent and character
they have served to point out. Such cases, which it would be easy to
multiply, illustrate the value of books in the selective functions of
training. To assert that they exercise such a function is only another way
of saying that a mind orients itself by the widest contact with other
minds. There are other ways of assuring this contact, and these should not
be neglected; but only thru books can it approach universality both in
space and in time. How else could we know exactly what Homer and St.
Augustine and Descartes thought and what Tolstoi and Lord Kelvin and
William James, we will say, are even now thinking?

It has scarcely been necessary to say all this to convince you of the
value of books as aids to education; but it is certainly interesting to
find that in an examination of the selective processes in education, we
meet with our old friends in such an important role.

A general collection of books, then, constitutes an important factor in
the selective part of an education. Where shall we place this collection?
I venture to say that altho every school must have a library to aid in the
formative part of its training, the library as a selective aid should be
large and central and should preferably be at the disposal of the student
not only during the period of his formal training, but before and after
it. This points to the public library, and to close cooperation between it
and the school, rather than to the expansion of the classroom library.
This is, perhaps, not the place to dispute the wisdom of our Board of
Education in developing classroom libraries, but it may be proper to put
in a plea for confining them to books that bear more particularly on the
subjects of instruction. The general collection of books should be outside
of the school, because the boy is destined to spend most of his life
outside of the school. His education by no means ends with his graduation.
The agents that operate to develop and change him will be at work so long
as he lives, and it is desirable that the book should be one of these. If
he says good-by to the book when he leaves school, that part of his
training is likely to be at an end. If he uses, in connection with, and
parallel to, his formal education a general collection of books outside of
the school, he will continue to use it after he leaves school. And even so
far as the special classroom library is concerned, it must be evident that
a large general collection of books that may be drawn upon freely is a
useful supplement. For the teacher's professional use, the larger the
collection at his disposal the better. A sum of money spent by the city in
improving and making adequate the pedagogical section of its public
library, particularly in the department of circulation, will be expended
to greater advantage than many times the amount devoted to a large number
of small collections on the same subjects in schools.

These are the considerations that have governed the New York Public
Library in its effort to be of assistance to the teachers and pupils in
the public schools of the city. Stated formally, these efforts manifest
themselves in the following directions:

(1) The making of library use continuous from the earliest possible age,
thru school life and afterwards;

(2) Cooperation with the teacher in guiding and limiting the child's
reading during the school period;

(3) Aid within the library in the preparation of school work;

(4) The supplementing of classroom libraries by the loan of books in

(5) The cultivation of personal relations between library assistants and
teachers in their immediate neighborhood;

(6) The furnishing of accurate and up-to-date information to schools
regarding the library's resources and its willingness to place them at the
school's disposal;

(7) The increase of the library's circulation collection along lines
suggested and desired by teachers;

(8) The granting of special privileges to teachers and special students
who use the library for purposes of study.

Toward the realization of these aims three departments are now
cooperating, each of them in charge of an expert in his or her special
line of work.

(1) The children's rooms in the various libraries, now under the direction
of an expert supervisor.

(2) The traveling library office.

(3) The division of school work, with an assistant in each branch, under
skilled headquarters superintendence.

When our plans, which are already in good working order, are completely
carried out, we shall be able to guarantee to every child guidance in his
reading up to and thru his school course, with direction in a line of
influence that will make him a user of books thruout his life and create
in him a feeling of attachment to the public library as the home and
dispenser of books and as a permanent intellectual refuge from care,
trouble, and material things in general, as well as a mine of information
on all subjects that may benefit or interest him.

Some of the obstacles to the immediate realization of our plans in full
may be briefly stated as follows:

(1) Lack of sufficient funds. With more money we could buy more books, pay
higher salaries, and employ more persons. The assistants in charge of
children's rooms should be women of the highest culture and ability, and
it is difficult to secure proper persons at our present salaries.
Assistants in charge of school work must be persons of tact and quickness
of perception, and they should have no other work to do; whereas at
present we are obliged to give this work to library assistants in addition
to their ordinary routine duties, to avoid increasing our staff by about
forty assistants, which our appropriation does not permit.

(2) Misunderstanding on the part of the public, and also to some extent on
the part of teachers, of our aims, ability, and attitude. This I am glad
to say is continually lessening. We can scarcely expect that each of our
five hundred assistants should be thoroly imbued with the spirit of
helpfulness toward the schools or even that they should perfectly
understand what we desire and aim to do. Nor can we expect that our wish
to aid should be appreciated by every one of fifty thousand teachers or a
million parents. This will come in time.

(3) A low standard of honesty on the part of certain users of the library.
It is somewhat disheartening to those who are laboring to do a public
service to find that some of those whom they are striving to benefit, look
upon them merely as easy game. To prevent this and at the same time to
withstand those who urge that such misuse of the library should be met by
the withdrawal of present privileges and facilities uses up energy that
might otherwise be directed toward the improvement of our service. Now,
like the intoxicated man, we sometimes refuse invitations to advance
because it is "all we can do to stay where we are." Here is an opportunity
for all the selective influences that we may bring to bear, and
unfortunately the library can have but little part in these.

Have I wandered too far from my theme? The good that a public library may
do, the influence that it may exert, and the position that it may assume
in a community, depend very largely on the ability and tact with which it
is administered and the resources at its disposal. Its public services may
be various, but probably there is no place in which it may be of more
value than side by side with the public school; and I venture to think
that this is the case largely because education to be complete must select
as well as train, must compel the fit to step forward and the unfit to
retire, and must do this, not only at the outset of a course of training
but continuously thruout its duration. We speak of a student being "put
thru the mill," and we must not forget that a mill not only grinds and
stamps into shape but also sifts and selects. A finished product of a
given grade is always such not only by virtue of formation and adaptation
but also by virtue of selection. In human training one of the most potent
of these selective agencies is the individual will, and to train that will
and make it effective in the right direction there is nothing better than
constant association with the records of past aims and past achievements.
This must be my excuse for saying so much of libraries in general, and of
one library in particular, in an address on what I have ventured to give
the name of Selective Education.


    [2] Read before the American Library Association, Asheville
        Conference, May 28, 1907.

Literature is becoming daily more of a dynamic and less of a static
phenomenon. In other days the great body of written records remained more
or less stable and with its attendant body of tradition did its work by a
sort of quiet pressure on that portion of the community just beneath
it--on a special class peculiarly subject to its influence. To-day we have
added to this effect that of a moving multitude of more or less ephemeral
books, which appear, do their work, and pass on out of sight. They are
light, but they make up for their lack of weight by the speed and ease
with which they move. Owing to them the use of books is becoming less and
less limited to a class, and more and more familiar to the masses. The
book nowadays is in motion. Even the classics, the favorites of other
days, have left their musty shelves and are moving out among the people.
Where one man knew and loved Shakespeare a century ago, a thousand know
and love him to-day. The literary blood is circulating and in so doing is
giving life to the body politic. In thus wearing itself out the book is
creating a public appreciation that makes itself felt in a demand for
reprinting, hence worthy books are surer of perpetuation in this swirling
current than they were in the old time reservoir. But besides these books
whose literary life is continuous, though their paper and binding may wear
out, there are other books that vanish utterly. By the time that the
material part of them needs renewing, the book itself has done its work.
Its value at that moment is not enough, or is not sufficiently
appreciated, to warrant reprinting. It drops out of sight and its place is
taken by another, fresh from the press. This part of our moving literature
is what is called ephemeral, and properly so; but no stigma necessarily
attaches to the name. In the first place, it is impossible to draw a line
between the ephemeral and the durable. "One storm in the world's history
has never cleared off," said the wit--"the one we are having now." Yet the
conditions of to-day, literary as well as meteorological, are not
necessarily lasting.

We are accustomed to regard what we call standard literature as
necessarily the standard of innumerable centuries to come, forgetful of
the fact that other so-called standards have "had their day and ceased to
be." Some literature lasts a century, some a year, some a week; where
shall we draw the line below which all must be condemned as ephemeral? Is
it not possible that all literary work that quickly achieves a useful
purpose and having achieved it passes at once out of sight, may really
count for as much as one that takes the course of years to produce its
slow results? The most ephemeral of all our literary productions--the
daily paper--is incalculably the most influential, and its influence
largely depends on this dynamic quality that has been noted--the
penetrative power of a thing of light weight moving at a high speed. And
this penetrative power effective literature must have to-day on account of
the vastly increased mass of modern readers.

Reading is no longer confined to a class, it is well-nigh universal, in
our own country, at least. And the habit of mind of the thoughtful and
intent reader is not an affair of one generation but of many. New readers
are young readers, and they have the characteristics of intellectual

Narrative--the recapitulation of one's own or someone else's experience,
the telling of a story--is the earliest form in which artistic effort of
any kind is appreciated. The pictorial art that appeals to the young or
the ignorant is the kind that tells a story--perhaps historical painting
on enormous canvasses, perhaps the small genre picture, possibly something
symbolic or mythological; but at any rate it must embody a narrative,
whether it is that of the signing of a treaty, a charge of dragoons, a
declaration of love or the feeding of chickens. The same is true of music.
The popular song tells something, almost without exception. Even in
instrumental music, outside of dance rhythms, whose suggestion of the
delights of bodily motion is a reason of their popularity, the beginner
likes program music of some kind, or at least its suggestion. So it is in
literature. With those who are intellectually young, whether young in
years or not, the narrative form of expression is all in all. It is, of
course, in all the arts, a most important mode, even in advanced stages of
development. We shall never be able to do without narrative in painting,
sculpture, music and poetry; but wherever, in a given community, the
preference for this form of expression in any art is excessive, we may be
sure that appreciation of that form of art is newly aroused. This is an
interesting symptom and a good sign. To be sure, apparent intellectual
youth may be the result of intellectual decadence; there is a second as
well as a first childhood, but it is not difficult to distinguish between
them. In general, if a large proportion of those in a community who like
to look at pictures, prefer such as "tell a story," this fact, if the
number of the appreciative is at the same time increasing, means a newly
stimulated interest in art. And similarly, if a large proportion of those
persons who enjoy reading prefer the narrative forms of literature, while
at the same time their total numbers are on the increase, this surely
indicates a newly aroused interest in books. And this is precisely the
situation in which we find ourselves to-day. A very large proportion of
the literature that we circulate is in narrative form--how large a
proportion I daresay few of us realize. Not only all the fiction, adult
and juvenile, but all the history, biography and travel, a large
proportion of literature and periodicals, some of the sciences, including
all reports of original research, and a lesser proportion of the arts,
philosophy and religion, are in this form. It may be interesting to
estimate the percentage of narrative circulated by a large public library,
and I have attempted this in the case of the New York public library for
the year ending July 1, 1906.

  Class                  Per cent.         Estimated per
  Fiction                               cent. of narrative
    Juvenile 26
    Adult    32 ........... 58                  58
  History .................  6                   6
  Biography ...............  3                   3
  Travel ..................  3                   3
  Literature ..............  7                   3
  Periodicals .............  4                   2
  Sciences ................  9                   3
  Arts ....................  3                   1
  Philos. & Relig. ........  2                   1
  Foreign .................  5                   4
                           ---                  --
                           100                  84

In other words, if my estimates are not too much out of the way--and I
have tried to be conservative--only 16 per cent. of our whole circulation,
and 38 per cent. of our non-fiction, is non-narrative, despite the fact
that our total fiction percentage is low.

I attach little importance in this regard to any distinction between true
and fictitious narrative, people who read novels do not enjoy them simply
because the subject matter is untrue. They enjoy the books because they
are interesting. In fact, in most good fiction, little beside the actual
sequence of the events in the plot and the names of the characters is
untrue. The delineation of character, the descriptions of places and
events and the statements of fact are intended to be true, and the further
they depart from truth the less enjoyable they are. Indeed, when one looks
closely into the matter, the dividing line between what we call truth and
fiction in narrative grows more and more hazy.

In pictorial art we do not attempt to make it at all. Our museums do not
classify their pictures into true and imaginary. Our novels contain so
much truth and our other narrative works so much fiction, that it is
almost as difficult to draw the line in the literary as it is in the
pictorial arts. And in any case objections to a work of fiction, as well
as commendations, must be based on considerations apart from this

To represent a fictitious story as real or an imaginary portrait as a true
one is, of course, a fault, but the story and the portrait may both be of
the highest excellence when the subjects are wholly imaginary. It should
be noted that the crime of false representation, when committed with
success, removes a work from library classification as fiction and places
it in one of the other classes. Indeed, it is probable that much more
lasting harm is done by false non-fiction than by fiction. The reader,
provided he uses literature temperately, has much less need to beware of
the novel, which he reads frankly for entertainment, than of the history
full of "things that are not so," of the biased biography, of science
"popularized" out of all likeness to nature, of absurd theories in
sociology or cosmology, of silly and crude ideas masquerading as
philosophy, of the out-and-out falsehood of fake travellers and

In what has gone before it has been assumed that the reader is temperate.
One may read to excess either in fiction or non-fiction, and the result is
the same; mental over-stimulation, with the resulting reaction. One may
thus intoxicate himself with history, psychology or mathematics--the
mathematics-drunkard is the worst of all literary debauchees when he does
exist--and the only reason why fiction-drunkenness is more prevalent is
that fiction is more attractive to the average man. We do not have to warn
the reader against over-indulgence in biography or art-criticism, any more
than we have to put away the vichy bottle when a bibulous friend appears,
or forbid the children to eat too many shredded-wheat biscuits. Fiction
has the fatal gift of being too entertaining. The novel-writer must be
interesting or he fails; the historian or the psychologist does not often
regard it as necessary--unless he happens to be a Frenchman.

But with this danger of literary surfeit or over-stimulation, I submit
that the librarian has nothing to do; it is beyond his sphere, at least in
so far as he deals with the adult reader. We furnish parks and playgrounds
for our people; we police them and see that they contain nothing harmful,
but we cannot guarantee that they will not be used to excess--that a man
may not, for example, be so enraptured with the trees and the squirrels
that he will give up to their contemplation time that should be spent in
supporting his family. So in the library we may and do see that harmful
literature is excluded, but we cannot be expected to see that books which
are not in themselves injurious are not sometimes used to excess.

I venture to suggest that very much of our feeling of disquietude about
the large use of fiction in the public library and elsewhere arises from
our misapprehension of something that must always force itself upon the
attention in a state of society where public education and public taste
are on the increase. In this case the growth will necessarily be uneven in
different departments of knowledge and taste, and in different localities;
so that discrepancies frequently present themselves. We may observe, for
instance, a quietly and tastefully dressed woman reading, we will say,
Laura Jean Libbey. We are disconcerted, and the effect is depressing. But
the discrepancy may arise in either of two ways. If we have here a person
formerly possessing good taste both in dress and reading, whose taste in
the latter regard has deteriorated, we certainly have cause for sadness;
but if, as is much more likely, we have one who had formerly bad taste of
both kinds and whose taste in dress has improved, we should rather
rejoice. The argument is the same whether the change has taken place in
the same generation or in more than one. Our masses are moving upward and
the progress along the more material lines is often more rapid than in
matters of the intellect. Or, on the contrary, intellectual progress may
be in advance of manners. Such discrepancies are frequently commented upon
by foreign travelers in the United States, who almost invariably
misinterpret them in the same way. Can we blame them, when we make the
same mistake ourselves? M. Jules Huret, in his recent interesting book "En
Amerique," notes frequently the lapses in manners and taste of educated
persons among us. He describes, for instance, the bad table-manners of a
certain clergyman. His thought is evidently, "How shocking that a
clergyman should act in this way!" But we might also put it: "How
admirable that professional education in this country is so easily
obtained that one of a class in which such manners prevail can secure it!
How encouraging that he should desire to enter the ministry and succeed in
doing so!" These are extreme standpoints; we need of course endorse
neither of them. But when I find that on the upper west side of New York,
where the patrons of our branch libraries are largely the wives and
daughters of business men with good salaries, whose general scale of
living is high, the percentage of fiction circulated is unduly great, I do
not say, as I am tempted to do "How surprising and how discouraging that
persons of such apparent cultivation should read nothing but fiction, and
that not of the highest grade!" I say rather: "What an evidence it is of
our great material prosperity that persons in an early stage of mental
development, as evidenced by undue preference for narrative in literature,
are living in such comfort or even luxury!"

Is not this the right way to look at it? I confess that I can see no
reason for despairing of the American people because it reads more fiction
than it used to read, so long as this is for the same reason that a ten
year old boy reads more stories than a baby. Intellectual youth is at
least an advance over mental infancy so long as it is first childhood--not
second. It is undoubtedly our duty, as it is our pleasure, to help these
people to grow, but we cannot force them, and should not try. Complete
growth may take several generations. And even when full stature has been
obtained, literature in its narrative modes, though not so exclusively as
now, will still be loved and read. Romance will always serve as the
dessert in the feast of reason--and we should recollect that sugar is now
highly regarded as a food. It is a producer of energy in easily available
form, and, thinking on some such novels as "Uncle Tom," "Die Waffen
nieder" and shall we say "The jungle"? we realize that this thing is a
parable, which the despiser of fiction may well read as he runs.


    [3] An address delivered before the Library Associations of Iowa,
        Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Indiana and Ohio, October 9-18, 1907.

Man is a gregarious animal; he cannot think, act, or even exist except in
certain relations to others of his kind. For a complete description of
those relations we must go to a treatise on sociology; our present subject
is a very brief consideration of certain groups of individuals, natural or
voluntary, and the application of the laws that govern such groups to the
voluntary associations with which we are all familiar in library work. Men
have joined together to effect certain things that they could not
accomplish singly, ever since two savages found that they could lift a
heavy log or stone together, when neither one could manage it alone. Until
recently the psychology of human groups has received little study. Le Bon,
in his book on "The Crowd," gives the modern treatment of it. A group of
persons does not think and act precisely as each of its component
individuals would think or act. The very act of association, loose as it
may be, introduces a new factor. Even the two savages lifting the log do
not work together precisely as either would have worked singly. Their
co-operation affects their activity; and both thought and action may
likewise be affected in larger groupings even by the mere proximity of the
individuals of the group, where there is no stronger bond.

But although the spirit that collectively animates a group of men cannot
be calculated by taking an arithmetical sum, it does depend on that
possessed by each individual in the group, and more particularly on what
is common to them all and on the nature of the bonds that connect them.
Even a chance group of persons previously unconnected and unrelated is
bound together by feelings common to all humanity and may be appealed to
collectively on such grounds. The haphazard street crowd thrills with
horror at the sight of a baby toddling in front of a trolley-car and
shouts with joy when the motorman stops just in time. But the same crowd,
if composed of newly-arrived Poles, Hungarians and Slovaks, would fail
utterly to respond to some patriotic appeal that might move an American
crowd profoundly. You may sway a Methodist congregation with a tale of
John Wesley that would leave Presbyterians or Episcopalians cold. Try a
Yale mob with "Boola" and then play the same tune at Princeton, and watch
the effect.

Thus, the more carefully our group is selected the more particular and
definite are the motives that we can bring to bear in it, and the more
powerful will its activities be along its own special lines. The mob in
the street may be roused by working on elemental passions--so roused it
will kill or burn, but you cannot excite in it enthusiasm for Dante's
Inferno, or induce it to contribute money or labor toward the preparation
of a new annotated edition. To get such enthusiasm and stimulate such
action you must work upon a body of men selected and brought together for
this very purpose.

Besides this, we must draw a distinction between natural and artificial
groups. The group brought together by natural causes and not by man's
contriving is generally lower in the scale of civilization when it acts
collectively than any one of its components. This is the case with a mob,
a tribe, even a municipal group. But an artificial or selected group,
where the grouping is for a purpose and has been specially effected with
that end in view may act more intelligently, and be, so far as its special
activities are concerned, more advanced in the scale of progress than its
components as individuals. There is the same difference as between a man's
hand and a delicate tool. The former is the result of physical evolution
only; the latter of evolution into which the brain of man has entered as a
factor. The tool is not as good for "all round" use as the hand; but to
accomplish its particular object it is immeasurably superior.

If, then, we are to accomplish anything by taking advantage of the very
peculiar crowd or group psychology--owing to which a collected body of men
may feel as a group and act as a group, differently from the way in which
any one of its components would feel or act--we must see that our group is
properly selected and constituted. This does not mean that we are to go
about and choose individuals, one by one, by the exercise of personal
judgment. Such a method is generally inferior and unnecessary. If we
desire to separate the fine from the coarse grains in a sand-pile we do
not set to work with a microscope to measure them, grain by grain; we use
a sieve. The sieve will not do to separate iron filings from copper
filings of exactly the same size, but here a magnet will do the business.
And so separation or selection can almost always be accomplished by
choosing an agency adapted to the conditions; and such agencies often act
automatically without the intervention of the human will. In a voluntary
association formed to accomplish a definite purpose we have a
self-selected group. Such a body may be freely open to the public, as all
our library clubs and associations practically are; yet it is still
selective, for no one would care to join it who is not in some way
interested in its objects. On the other hand, the qualifications for
membership may be numerous and rigid, in which case the selection is more
limited. The ideal of efficiency in an association is probably reached
when the body is formed for a single definite purpose and the terms of
admission are so arranged that each of its members is eager above all
things to achieve its end and is specially competent to work for it, the
purpose of the grouping being merely to attain the object more surely,
thoroughly and rapidly. A good example is a thoroughly trained military
organization, all of whose members are enthusiastic in the cause for which
the body is fighting--a band of patriots, we will say--or perhaps a band
of brigands, for what we have been saying applies to evil as well as to
good associations. The most efficient of such bodies may be very
temporary, as when three persons, meeting by chance, unite to help each
other over a wall that none of them could scale by himself, and, having
reached the other side, separate again. The more clearly cut and definite
the purpose the less the necessity of retaining the association after its
accomplishment. The more efficient the association the sooner its aims are
accomplished and the sooner it is disbanded. Such groups or bodies, by
their very nature are affairs of small detail and not of large and
comprehensive purpose. As they broaden out into catholicity they
necessarily lose in efficiency. And even when they are accomplishing their
aims satisfactorily the very largeness of those aims, the absence of sharp
outline and clear definition, frequently gives rise to complaint. I know
of clubs and associations that are doing an immense amount of good, in
some cases altering for the better the whole intellectual or moral tone of
a community, but that are the objects of criticism because they do not act
in matters of detail.

"Why don't they do something?" is the constant cry. And "doing something,"
as you may presently discover, is carrying on some small definite,
relatively unimportant activity that is capable of clear description and
easily fixes the attention, while the greater services, to the public and
to the individual, of the association's quiet influences pass unnoticed.
The church that has driven out of business one corner-saloon gets more
praise than the one that has made better men and women of a whole
generation in one neighborhood; the police force that catches one
sensational murderer is more applauded than the one that has made life and
property safe for years in its community by quiet, firm pressure.

There is no reason of course, why the broader and the more definite
activities may not be united, to some degree, in one organization. Either
smaller groups with related aims may federate for the larger purpose, or
the larger may itself be the primary group, and may subdivide into
sections each with its specified object. Both these plans or a combination
of the two may be seen in many of our large organizations, and it is this
combination that seems finally to have been selected as the proper form of
union for the libraries and the librarians of the United States. We have a
large organization which, as it has grown more and more unwieldy, has been
subdivided into smaller specialized sections without losing its continuity
for its broader and perhaps vaguer work. At the same time, specialized
bodies with related aims have been partially or wholly absorbed, until, by
processes partly of subdivision and partly of accretion, we have a body
capable of dealing alike with the general and the special problems of
library work. It should not be forgotten, however, that its success in
dealing with both kinds of problems is still conditioned by the laws
already laid down. The general association, as it grows larger, will be
marked less and less by the enthusiasm of the specialist, will be less and
less efficient, will move more slowly, will deliver its opinions with
reticence and will hesitate to act upon them. The smaller constituent
bodies will be affected by none of these drawbacks, but their purposes
appeal to the few and their actions, though more energetic, will often
seem to the majority of the larger group devoid of meaning. This is, of
course, the case with the National Educational Association, the American
Association for the Advancement of Science, and hosts of similar bodies
here and abroad. To state the difficulty is merely to confess that all
attempts hitherto have failed to form a group that is at once
comprehensive, powerful and efficient, both in the larger matters with
which it deals and in details.

Probably the most successful attempt of this kind is formulated in the
Constitution of the United States itself and is being carried on in our
country from day to day, yet successful as it is, our history is witness,
and the daily press testifies, that the combination of general and local
governments has its weak points and is dependent for its smooth working on
the cordial consent and forbearance of the governed. This is true also of
smaller combinations. In our own organization it is easy to find fault, it
is easy to discover points of friction; only by the cordial effort of
every member to minimize these points can such an organization begin to
accomplish its aims. Failure is much more apt to be due to lack of
appreciation of this fact than to any defect in the machinery of
organization. This being the case we are thrown back upon consideration of
the membership of our institution. How should it be selected and how

The constitution of the association says that "Any person or institution
engaged in library work may become a member by paying the annual dues, and
others after election by the executive board." We have thus two classes of
members, those by their own choice and those by election. The annual lists
of members do not record the distinction, but among those in the latest
list we find 24 booksellers, 17 publishers, 5 editors, 9 school and
college officials, 8 government employees not in libraries, and 24 wives
and relatives of other members, while in the case of 132 persons no
qualification is stated in the list. We have or have had as our
associates, settlement workers, lawyers, lecturers, indexers, binders, and
so on almost indefinitely. Our membership is thus freely open to
librarians, interpreting this word very broadly, and to any others that we
may desire to have with us, which means, practically, any who have
sufficient interest in library work to come to the meetings. We must,
therefore, be classed with what may be called the "open" as opposed to the
"closed" professional or technical associations. The difference may be
emphasized by a reference to two well-known New York clubs, the Players
and the Authors. These organizations would appear by their names to be
composed respectively of actors and writers. The former, however, admits
also to membership persons interested in the drama, which may mean little
or much, while the Authors Club, despite repeated efforts to broaden it
out in the same way, has insisted on admitting none but _bona fide_
authors. In advocacy of the first plan it may be said that by adopting it
the Players has secured larger membership, embracing many men of means.
Its financial standing is better and it is enabled to own a fine club
house. On the other hand, the Authors has a small membership, and owns
practically no property, but makes up in _esprit de corps_ what it lacks
in these other respects. It is another phase of the question of
specialization that we have already considered. The larger and broader
body has certain advantages, the smaller and more compact, certain others.
We have, doubtless been right in deciding, or rather in accepting what
circumstances seem to have decided for us, that our own association shall
be of the larger and less closely knit type, following the analogy of the
National Educational Association and the various associations for the
advancement of science, American, British and French, rather than that of
the Society of Civil Engineers, for instance, or the various learned
academies. Our body has thus greater general but less special influence,
just as on a question of general scientific policy a petition from the
American association might carry greater weight, whereas on a question of
engineering it would be incomparably inferior to an opinion of the civil
engineers. There is in this country, it is true, a general scientific body
of limited membership--the National Academy of Sciences, which speaks both
on general and special questions with expert authority. In the formation
of the American Library Institute it was sought to create some such
special body of librarians, but it is too soon to say whether or not that
expectation is to be fulfilled. The fact remains that in the American
Library Association we are committed to very nearly the broadest plan of
organization and work that is possible. We are united only by our
connection with library work or our interest in its success, and are thus
limited in our discussions and actions as a body to the most general
problems that may arise in this connection, leaving the special work to
our sections and affiliated societies, which are themselves somewhat
hampered by our size in the treatment of the particular subjects that come
before them, inasmuch as they are not separate groups whose freedom of
action no one can call in question.

In illustration of the limitations of a general body of the size and scope
of our Association, I may perhaps be allowed to adduce the recent
disagreement among librarians regarding the copyright question, or rather
regarding the proper course to be followed in connection with the
conference on that question called by the Librarian of Congress. It will
be remembered that this conference was semi-official and was due to the
desire of members of Congress to frame a bill that should be satisfactory
to the large number of conflicting interests involved. To this conference
our Association was invited to send, and did send, delegates. It is
obvious that if these and all the other delegates to the conference had
simply held out for the provisions most favorable to themselves no
agreement would have been possible and the objects of the conference would
have been defeated. Recognizing this, all the bodies and interests
represented worked from the beginning to secure an agreement, striving
only that it should be such as would represent a minimum of concession on
all sides. This view was shared by the delegates of this Association. The
law as it stood was, it is true, most favorable to libraries in its
provisions regarding importation, and the retention of these provisions
might have been facilitated by withdrawal from the conference and
subsequent opposition to whatever new bill might have been framed. But the
delegates assumed that they were appointed to confer, not to withdraw, and
that if the Association had desired to hold aloof from the conference that
result would have been best attained by appointing no delegates at all.
The Association's delegates accordingly joined with their fellows in the
spirit of compromise to agree on such a bill as might be least
unacceptable to all, and the result was a measure slightly, but only
slightly, less favorable to libraries than the existing law. With the
presentation of this bill to the proper committees of Congress, and a
formal statement that they approved it on behalf of the Association, the
duties of the delegates ended. And here begins to appear the applicability
of this chapter from library history to what has preceded. The action of
the delegates was officially that of the Association. But it was
disapproved by very many members of the Association on the ground that it
seemed likely to result in lessening the importation privilege of
libraries. Whether these dissidents were in a majority or not it seemed
impossible to say. The Association's legislative body, the Council, twice
refused to disapprove or instruct the delegates, thus tacitly approving
their action, but the dissidents asserted that the Council, in this
respect, did not rightly reflect the opinion of the Association. The whole
situation was an instructive illustration of the difficulty of getting a
large body of general scope to act on a definite, circumscribed question,
or even of ascertaining its opinion or its wishes regarding such action.
Recognizing this, the dissidents properly and wisely formed a separate
association with a single end in view--the retention of present library
importation privileges, and especially the defeat of the part of the bill
affecting such privileges as drafted in the conference. The efforts of
this body have been crowned with success in that the bill as reported by
the committee contains a modified provision acceptable to the dissidents.
Thus a relatively small body formed for a definite purpose has quickly
accomplished that purpose, while the objects of the larger body have been
expressed but vaguely, and so far as they have been definitely formulated
have failed of accomplishment. There is a lesson in this both for our own
association and for others.

It must not be assumed, however, that limitation of action along the lines
I have indicated means weakness of organization. On the contrary, foreign
observers have generally testified to the exceptional strength and
efficiency of societies and groups of all kinds in this country. It may be
interesting to quote here what a recent French writer on the United States
has to say of the part played by associations of all kinds in our national
life. And, in passing, he who is proud of his country nowadays should read
what is said of her by French and German, and even English writers. The
muck-raking is all on this side of the water. The writer from whom I
quote, M. Paul de Rousiers, author of "La Vie Américaine," does not
commend without discrimination, which makes what he has to say of more
value. He notes at the outset that "the spirit of free association is
widely extended in the United States, and it produces results of
surprising efficiency." There are two motives for association, he thinks,
the consciousness of weakness, which is generally operative abroad, and
the consciousness of strength, which is our motive here. He says:

    The need of association comes generally from the conscience of
    one's own feebleness or indolence.... When such people join they
    add together their incapacities; hence the failure of many
    societies formed with great eclat. On the contrary, when men
    accustomed to help themselves without depending on their neighbors
    form an association, it is because they really find themselves
    facing a common difficulty ... such persons add their capacities;
    they form a powerful union of capables, the only one that has
    force. Hence the general success of American associations.

The radical difference in the motives for association here and in the old
world was noted long ago by De Tocqueville, who says:

    European societies are naturally led to introduce into their midst
    military customs and formulas.... The members of such associations
    respond to a word of command like soldiers in a campaign; they
    profess the dogma of passive obedience, or rather, by uniting,
    they sacrifice entirely, at a single stroke, their judgment and
    free will.... In American associations, on the other hand,
    individual independence finds its part; as in society every man
    moves at the same time toward the same goal, but all are not
    forced to go by the same road. No one sacrifices his will or his
    reason, but applies them both toward the success of the common

Commenting on this, De Rousiers goes on:

    This is not to say that the discipline necessary to the pursuit of
    the common end is less exact than with us. As far as I can judge,
    the members of an American association, on the contrary, take
    their obligations more seriously than we, and precisely because
    they have undertaken them very freely, without being forced into
    them by environment or fashion, and also because the heads of the
    association have not sought to make it serve their own interests.
    In fine, their discipline is strong, but it is applied only to one
    precise object; it may thus subsist intact and without tyranny,
    despite the most serious divergences of view among the members
    regarding objects foreign to its aim. These happy conditions--this
    large and concrete mind, joined to the effective activity of the
    Americans, have given rise to a multitude of groups that are
    rendering the greatest service.

De Rousiers enlarges on this point at great length and gives many
illustrations. He returns to it even when he appears to have gone on to
other subjects. In an account of a visit to a militia encampment in
Massachusetts, where he was inclined at the outset to scoff at the lack of
formal military training, but finally became enthusiastic over the
individual efficiency and interest of the militiamen, he ends by saying:

    What I have seen here resembles what I have seen everywhere
    throughout the United States; each organism, each individual,
    preserves all its freedom, as far as it can; hence the limited and
    special character of the public authorities, to whom little is
    left to do. This doubtless detracts from the massed effects that
    we are in the habit of producing; we are apt to think that this
    kind of liberty is only disorder; but individual efforts are more
    energetic and when they converge toward a single end, by
    spontaneous choice of each will, their power is incalculable. This
    it is that makes the strength of America.

An interesting and satisfactory summary. There is, however, another way of
looking at it. A well-known scientific man recently expressed to me his
conviction that an "American" association of any kind is destined to
failure, whether it be of scientific men, commercial travellers or
plumbers. By "American" here he meant continental in extent. There may
thus be, according to this view, a successful Maine hotel-keeper's
association, a New York bar association, or a Pennsylvania academy of fine
arts, but no such body truly representative of the whole United States.
Many such organizations are "American" or "National" in name only; for
instance, the "American" Academy of Sciences, which is a Boston
institution, or the "National" Academy of Fine Arts, which belongs to New
York City. Many bodies have attempted to obviate this trouble by the
creation of local sections in different parts of the country, and the
newly-formed Society of Illuminating Engineers has, I understand, in mind
the organization of perfectly co-ordinate bodies in various parts of the
country, without any attempt to create a central body having headquarters
at a definite place. This is somewhat as if the American Library
Association should consist of the federated state associations, perhaps
with a council consisting of a single representative from each. It would
seem to be a workable and rather attractive plan. We may remind ourselves
again that the United States itself is the classic example of an American
association, and that it has been fairly successful by adopting this very
system. Our recognition of the necessity of local divisions in our own
association and of close affiliation with the various state bodies is
shown by the recent resolution of the council providing for sectional
meetings and by the presence at this and several other state meetings in
the present month of an official representative of the American Library
Association. That these, or similar means of making our national body
continental in something more than name are necessary we may freely admit.
Possibly it may take some years of experimentation, ending perhaps in
appropriate constitutional revision, to hit upon the best arrangement. Too
much centralization is bad; but there must be some centralization. We must
have our capital and our legislative and administrative machinery, as the
United States has at Washington. For legislative purposes our Washington
is a shifting one. It is wherever the Association may hold its annual
meeting and wherever the Council may convene in the interim. For such
administrative and executive purposes as require a fixed location, our
Washington is for the present in Boston. Next year it may be elsewhere;
but whether it shall remain there or move to some other place would seem
to be a matter of small importance. Wherever it may be, it will be
inaccessible to a large majority of American librarians. If immediate
accessibility is a requisite, therefore, some of its functions may and
should be divided. It may not be too much to look forward to a sectional
headquarters in every state in the Union, related perhaps to the general
headquarters somewhat as branch libraries to a central library, or,
perhaps, carried on under the auspices of the state associations. At any
rate, it is encouraging to reflect that we are not insensible to the
obstacles in the way of making our own, or any other association truly
American in scope, and are experimenting toward obviating them.

All these considerations appear to me to lead to one conclusion--the duty
of every librarian to become and remain a member of the American Library
Association. I do not desire to dwell on the direct advantages that
membership offers--these are not few, and they are sufficiently obvious.
Possibly most of those who are likely to be affected by them are already
members of the Association. I would recommend for consideration higher
grounds than these. Instead of asking the question, "What is there in it
for me?" I should inquire, "What is there in it for other people?" How
will it benefit the general status of library work, the general standing
of librarians in the community, the influence of libraries on those who
use or ought to use them--these and a hundred other elements of progress
that are closely bound up with the success of library effort, but that may
not add to the welfare of any one individual.

There seems to be no doubt that the answers to these questions all point
toward increased membership. As we have chosen to work along the broader
lines and by the energy of mass rather than that of velocity--with the
sledge-hammer rather than the rifle bullet--it is surely our duty to make
that mass as efficient and as impressive as possible, which means that it
must be swelled to the largest possible proportions. Large membership may
be efficient in two ways, by united weight and by pervasiveness. An army
is powerful in the first way. Ten thousand men concentrated in one spot
may strike a sledge-hammer blow and carry all before them. Yet the same
ten thousand men may police a great city without even seeing one another.
Scattered about on different beats they are everywhere. Every block or two
one meets a patrol and the sense of security that they give is
overwhelming. It is in this way, it seems to me, that large membership in
the American Library Association may be effective. We meet together but
once a year, and even then we do not bring out our full force. We have no
intention of marching on Washington _en masse_ to secure legislation or
even of forcing our trustees to raise salaries by a general library
strike. But if we can make it an unusual thing for a librarian not to be a
member of the American Library Association; if wherever one goes he meets
our members and recognizes what they stand for, then, it seems to me,
public opinion of librarians and librarianship is sure to rise. Our two
savages, who band together for a few moments to lift a log, become by that
act of association marked men among their fellows; the mere fact that they
have intelligence enough to work together for any purpose raises them
above the general level. It is not alone that increasing numbers,
strength, and influence make for the glory of the Association itself; the
most successful bodies of this kind are those that exalt, not themselves
but the professions, localities or ideals that they represent. It is
because increasing our numbers and scattering our membership throughout
the land will increase the influence of the library and strengthen the
hands of those who work in it that I believe such increase a worthy object
of our effort. Associations and societies come and go, form and disband;
they are no more immortal than the men and women that compose them. Yet an
association, like a man, should seek to do the work that lies before it
with all its strength, and to keep that strength at its maximum of
efficiency. So doing, it may rest content that, be its accomplishment
large or small, its place in the history of human endeavor is worthy and


Those who complain that the average of general education has been lowered
are both right and wrong--right literally and wrong in the general
impression that they give. It is undoubtedly true that among young persons
with whom an educated adult comes intellectually in contact the average of
culture is lower than it was twenty years ago. This is not, however,
because the class of persons who were well educated then are to-day less
well trained, but rather because the class has been recruited from the
ignorant classes, by the addition of persons who were not educated at all
then, or educated very slightly, and who are now receiving a higher,
though still inadequate degree of training. In other words the average of
education among all persons in the community is higher, but the average
among educated persons is lower, because the educated class has been
enlarged by the addition of large numbers of slightly educated persons.

This phenomenon is common to all stages of progress in all sorts of
things. It is true, for instance, in the general advance of the world in
civilization. The average degree of appreciation of art among persons who
know anything of art at all is less, for instance, than in the days of
ancient Greece, because the class of art-lovers throughout the world is
vastly larger and includes a very large number of persons whose
appreciation of art is slight and crude. There is, nevertheless, a greater
total amount of love for art, and a higher average of art education,
taking into account the world's entire population, than there was then.
Let us state the case mathematically: If, of one thousand persons, ten
have a hundred dollars each and the rest nothing, a gift of five dollars
each to five hundred others will raise the average amount owned by each of
the thousand, but will greatly lower the average amount held by the
property owners in the group, who will now number 510, instead of ten.

"How do you demonstrate all this?" will probably be asked. I do not know
of any statistical data that will enable it to be proved directly, but it
is certain that education is becoming more general, which must increase
the number of partly educated persons having an imperfect educational
background--a lack of ancestral training and home influence. Thus, among
the persons with whom the educated adult comes in contact, he necessarily
meets a larger number of individuals than formerly who betray lack of
education in speech, writing or taste; and he wrongly concludes that the
schools are not doing their work properly. If the schools were not doing
their work properly, we should have direct statistical evidence of it, and
all the direct evidence I have seen goes to show that the schools are
accomplishing more to-day and accomplishing it by better methods, than
ever before.

Similarly, I believe that the totality of teaching ability in the
profession has increased. The conspicuous failures are persons who are
unfit to be teachers and who have been drafted into service because of our
sudden increase in educational plant. The result in some cases has been a
curious aberration in disciplinary methods--a freakishness that is
inseparable from any sudden advance such as we are making.

Our schools can and will advance much further in personnel, methods and
results; but they are by no means on the downward path now. One way in
which they may do better work is by greater appreciation of their
selective as well as their training function.

Suppose we have twenty bushels of raspberries and the same quantity of
potatoes to be prepared for food. Our present educational methods are a
good deal like those of a cook who should try to make the whole into
either jam or Saratoga chips, or should divide the lot in some arbitrary
way unrelated to their fitness for one or the other operation. We are
giving in our educational institutions many degrees and many kinds of
training without proper selection of the persons to whom the training is
to be applied. Selection must be and is made, of course, but it is made on
arbitrary lines, or for reasons unrelated to fitness. One boy's education
lasts ten years, and another's two, not because the former is fitted to
profit by a longer period of training, but because his father happens to
have money and inclination to give it to him. One young man studies
medicine and another goes into business, not because these are the careers
for which they are specially fitted, but because one thinks that the
prefix "Doctor" would look well in front of his name and the other has a
maternal uncle in the dry-goods trade.

I am not so foolish as to think that selection of this kind could ever be
made with unerring accuracy, but I do assert that an effort should be made
to effect it in a greater degree through our regular educational
institutions and to leave it less to chance. Our present methods are like
those of wild nature, which scatters seeds broadcast in the hope that some
may settle on favoring soil, rather than those of the skilled cultivator,
who sees that seed and soil are fitted for each other.

In this and other particulars I look for great improvement in our
educational methods; but I do not think that, except in local and
unessential particulars, here and there, they are now retrograding.


    [4] Read at the opening of the Chestnut Hill Branch, Philadelphia
        Free Library, January 22, 1909.

Of the three great divisions of economics--production, distribution and
consumption--the library has to do chiefly with the second, and it is as a
distributor of literature that I desire to speak of it, although it has
its share both in the production and consumption of books--more briefly,
in the writing and reading of them. Much writing of books is done wholly
in libraries and by their aid, and much reading is done therein. These
functions I pass by with this brief notice.

A library distributes books. So does a bookseller. The functions of these
two distributors, however, should differ somewhat as do those of the two
producers of books--the author and the publisher. The author creates the
soul of the book and the publisher gives it a body. The former produces
the immaterial, possibly the eternal, part and the latter merely the
material part. Likewise, in our distribution we librarians should lay
stress upon what is in the book, upon the production of the author rather
than on that of the publisher, though we may not neglect the latter. We
are, however, eminently distributors of ideas rather than of mere
merchandise, and in so far as we lay stress on the material side of the
book--important as this is--and neglect what is in it, we are but traders
in books and not librarians.

Among many of the great distributors of ideas--the magazine, the
newspaper, the school--it is becoming increasingly difficult to find any
that do not feel what I may call an anti-civic tendency. They have come to
be supported largely by other agencies than the public, and they are
naturally controlled by those agencies. As for the public, it has become
accustomed to paying less than cost for what it gets along these lines,
and is thus becoming intellectually pauperized. It is no more possible to
distribute ideas at a profit, as a commercial venture, nowadays, than it
would have been to run a circus, with an admission fee, in Imperial Rome.
Thus a literary magazine is possible only because it is owned by some
publisher who uses it as an advertising medium. He can afford to sell it
to the public for less than cost; the public would leave a publication
sold at a fair profit severely alone, hence such a venture is impossible.
A scientific magazine in like manner must have some one to back it--a firm
of patent-office brokers or a scientific society. The daily papers depend
almost wholly on their advertisements; the public would not buy a simple
compilation of the day's news at a fair profit. Even our great
institutions of higher education give their students more than the latter
pay for; the student is getting part of his tuition for nothing. A college
that depends wholly on tuition fees for its support is soon left without
students. Thus all these disseminators of ideas are not dependent on the
persons to whom they distribute those ideas, for whose interest it is that
the ideas shall be good and true and selected with discrimination. They
depend rather for support on outside bodies of various kinds and so tend
to be controlled by them--bodies whose interests do not necessarily
coincide with those of the public. This is not true of material things.
Their distributors still strive to please the public, for it is by the
public that they are supported. If the public wants raspberry jam,
raspberry jam it gets; and if, being aroused, it demands that this shall
be made out of raspberries instead of apples, dock-seeds and aniline, it
ultimately has its way. But if the department store were controlled by
some outside agency, benevolent or otherwise, which partly supported it
and enabled it to sell its wares below cost, then if this controlling
agency willed that we should eat dock-seeds and aniline--dock-seeds and
aniline we should doubtless eat.

Not that the controlling powers in all these instances are necessarily
malevolent. The publisher who owns a literary magazine may honestly desire
that it shall be fearlessly impartial. The learned body that runs a
scientific periodical may be willing to admit to its pages a defense of a
thesis that it has condemned in one of its meetings; the page-advertiser
in a great daily may be able to see his pet policy attacked in its
editorial columns without yielding to the temptation to bring pressure to
bear; the creator of an endowed university may view with equanimity an
attack by one of its professors on the methods by which he amassed his
wealth. All these things may be; we know in fact that they have been and
that they are. But unfortunately we all know of cases where the effect of
outside control has been quite the contrary. The government of a
benevolent despot, we are told, would be ideal; but alas! rules for making
a despot benevolent and for ensuring that he and his successors shall
remain so, are not yet formulated. We have fallen back on the plan of
fighting off the despot--good though he may possibly be; would that we
could also abolish the non-civic control of the disseminators of ideas!

Are there, then, no disseminators of ideas free from interference? Yes,
thank heaven, there are at least two--the public school and the public
library. Of these, the value of academic freedom to the public school is
slight, because the training of the very young is of its nature subject
little to the influences of which we have spoken. There is little
opportunity, during a grammar school or high school course, to influence
the mind in favor of particular government policies and particular
theories in science or literature or art. This opportunity comes later.
And it is later that the public library does its best work. Supported by
the public it has no impulse and no desire to please anyone else. No
suspicion of outside control hangs over it. It receives gifts; but they
are gifts to the public, held by the public, not by outsiders. It is
tax-supported, and the public pays cost price for what it gets--no more
and no less. The community has the power of abolishing the whole system in
the twinkling of an eye. The library's power in an American municipality
lies in the affections of those who use and profit by it. It holds its
position by love. No publisher may say to it: "Buy my books, not those of
my rival"; no scientist may forbid it to give his opponent a hearing; no
religious body may dictate to it; no commercial influence may throw a
blight over it. It is untrammeled.

How long is it to remain thus? That is for its owners, the public, to say.
I confess that I feel uneasy when I realize how little the influence of
the public library is understood by those who might try to wield that
influence, either for good or for evil. Occasionally an individual tries
to use it sporadically--the poet who tries to secure undying fame by
distributing free copies of his verses to the libraries, the manufacturer
who gives us an advertisement of his product in the guise of a book, the
enthusiast who runs over our shelf list to see whether the library is well
stocked with works on his fad--socialism or Swedenborgianism, or the "new
thought." But, so far, there has been no concerted, systematic effort on
the part of classes or bodies of men to capture the public library, to
dictate its policy, to utilize its great opportunities for influencing the
public mind. When this ever comes, as it may, we must look out!

So far as my observation goes, the situation--even the faintest glimmering
of it--is far from dawning on most of these bodies. Most individuals, when
the policy of the library suits them not, exhaust their efforts in an
angry kick or an epistolary curse; they never even think of trying to
change that policy, even by argument. Most of them would rather write a
letter to a newspaper, complaining of a book's absence, than to ask the
librarian to buy it. Organizations--civil, religious, scientific,
political, artistic--have usually let us severely alone, where their
influence, if they should come into touch with the library, would surely
be for good--would be exerted along the line of morality, of more careful
book selection, of judicial mindedness instead of one-sidedness.

Let us trust that influences along this line--if we are to have influences
at all--may gain a foothold before the opposite forces--those of sordid
commercialism, of absurdities, of falsities, of all kinds of
self-seeking--find out that we are worth their exploitation.

When it comes, as I expect it will some day--this general realization of
what only a few now understand--that the public library is worth trying to
influence and to exploit, our trouble will be that we shall be without any
machinery at all to receive it, to take care of it, to direct the good
into proper channels and to withstand the evil. We are occasionally
annoyed and disconcerted now by the infinitesimal amount of it that we
see; we wish people would mind their own business; we detest meddlers; we
should be able to do more work if it were not for the bores--and so on.
But what--what in heaven's name shall we do with the deluge when it comes?
With what dam shall we withstand it; through what sluices shall we lead
it; into what useful turbines shall we direct it? These things are worth

For the present then, this independence of the library as a distributor
may be regarded as one of its chief economic advantages. Another is its
power as a leveler, and hence as an adjunct of democracy. Democracy is a
result, not a cause, of equality. It is natural in a community whose
members resemble each other in ability, modes of thought and mental
development, just as it is unthinkable where great natural differences
racial or otherwise, exist. If we wish to preserve democracy, therefore,
we must first maintain our community on something like a level. And we
must level it up, not down; for although a form of democracy may exist
temporarily among individuals equally ignorant or degraded, the advent of
a single person more advanced in the scale of ability, quickly transforms
it into absolutism. Similar inequalities may result in an aristocratic
régime. The reason why England, with its ancient aristocracy, on the
whole, is so democratic, is that its commoners are constantly recruited by
the younger sons of its nobility, so that the whole body politic is
continually stirred and kept more homogeneous than on the continent, where
all of a noble's sons and daughters are themselves noble. This stirring or
levelling process may be effected in many ways and along many lines, but
in no way better than by popular education, as we have well understood in
this country. This is why our educational system is a bulwark of our form
of government, and this is why the public library--the only continuous
feature of that system, exercising its influence from earliest childhood
to most advanced age--is worth to the community whatever it may cost in
its most improved form. There are enough influences at work to segregate
classes in our country, and they come to us ready-made from other
countries; we may be thankful that the public library is helping to make
Americans of our immigrants and to make uniformly cultivated and
well-informed Americans of us all.

Another interesting light on the functions of the printed page, and hence
of the library, is shown by the recent biological theory that connects the
phenomena of heredity with those of habit and memory. The inheritance of
ancestral characteristics, according to this view, may be described as
racial memory. To illustrate, we may take an interesting study of a family
of Danish athletes, recently made and published in France. The members of
this family, adults and children, men and women, have all been gymnasts
for over three hundred years--no one of them would think of adopting any
other means of gaining a livelihood. It seems certain to the scientific
men who have been conducting the investigation, that not only the physical
ability to become an acrobat, but also the mental qualities that
contribute so much to success in this occupation--pride in the acrobatic
pre-eminence of the family, courage, love of applause, and so on--have
been handed down from one generation to another, and that it has cost each
generation less time and effort to acquire its skill than its predecessor.
In other words, we are told, members of this family are born with certain
predispositions--latent ancestral memories, we may say, of the occupations
of previous generations. To make these effective, it is necessary only to
awaken them, and this may be done simply by the sight of other persons
performing gymnastic feats. These they learn in weeks, where others,
without such ancestral memories, would require months or years.

Evidently this may be applied much more widely than to mere physical
skill. Few of us can boast of gymnastic ancestry, but all of us have
inherited predispositions and have ancestral memories that make it easier
for us to learn certain things and to choose certain courses than we
should find it without them. Some of these are good; some bad. Some are
useful; some injurious. It is necessary only to awaken them to set going a
train of consequences; if not awakened, they may remain permanently
dormant. How important, therefore, are the suggestions that may serve as
such awakeners; how necessary to bring forward the useful, and to banish
the injurious ones!

Now of all possible agencies that may bring these predispositions into
play--that may awaken our ancestral memories, if you choose to adopt this
theory--I submit that the book stands at the very head. For it is itself a
racial record; it may contain, in the form best suited to awaken our
predispositions, the very material which, long ages ago, was instrumental
in handing those predispositions down to us. It is in tune with our latent
memories, and it may set them vibrating more vigorously than any merely
contemporary agency.

Does this not place in a new and interesting light the library and the
books of which it is composed? We have learned to respect them as the
records of the race and to recognize their value as teachers and their
power as energizers; in addition we now see that they may act as fingers
on invisible mental triggers. A slight impulse--altogether trivial
compared with its effect--and off goes the gun. The discharge may carry a
line to a wrecked ship, or it may sink her with all on board.

We frequently hear it said of some book whose tendency is bad: "Well, it
can't hurt me, anyway; I'm immune." Are you quite sure? Have you gone
quite to the bottom of those ancestral memories of yours, and are you
certain that there are none that such a book may rouse, to your harm?

On the other hand, does this not explain much that has always interested
the librarian; for instance, the vast popularity of fairy tales,
especially those that date back to our racial infancy? I need dwell no
further on the economic importance of the book as viewed from this

But it has also a function almost diametrically opposed to that which we
have just considered; besides harking back to what is oldest it looks
forward to what is newest. It may stir us by awakening dim racial
recollections; but it may also thrill us by adding to the store of what is
already in the mind. In fact, we like to assimilate new ideas, to think
new thoughts, to do new acts; we like to read or hear something that we
could not have produced ourselves. When we are young and ignorant,
therefore, we like music or art or literature that appears trivial to us
as we grow older and have developed our own creative powers. A poem that
is no better than one a man might dash off himself he likes no longer; he
prefers to be confronted with something that is above and beyond his own
powers, though not above his comprehension. Thus, as he grows, his zone of
enjoyment shifts upward, and the library covers the whole moving field.
When Solomon John Peterkin, pen in hand, sat down to write a book, he
discovered that he hadn't anything to say. Happy lad! He had before him
all literature as a field of enjoyment, for all, apparently, was beyond
his creative efforts.

Do those of you who are musicians remember when you first apprehended the
relations between the tonic and the dominant chords? I have heard a small
boy at a piano play these alternately for hours. Such a performance is
torture to you and me; it is the sweetest harmony to him, because it is
new and has just come into his sphere of creative power. When he is
thoroughly satisfied that he can produce the effect at will, he abandons
it for something newer and a little higher. The boy who discovers, without
being told, that the dominant chord, followed by the tonic, produces a
certain musical effect, is doing something that for him is on a par with
Wagner's searching the piano for those marvellous effects of his that are
often beyond technical explanation.

The child who reads what you think is a trivial book, re-reads it, and
reads others like it, is doing this same thing in the domain of
literature--he is following the natural course that will bring him out at
the top after a while.

When we distribute books, then, we distribute ideas, not only actual, but
potential. A book has in it not only the ideas that lie on its surface,
but millions of others that are tied to these by invisible chords, of
which we have touched on but a few--the invisible ancestral memories of
centuries ago, the foretastes of future thoughts in our older selves and
our posterity of centuries hence. When we think of it, it is hard to
realize that a book has not a soul.

Gerald Stanley Lee, in his latest book, a collection of essays on
millionaires, sneers at the efforts of the rich mill owners to improve
their employees by means of libraries. Life in a modern mill, he thinks,
is so mechanical as to dull all the higher faculties. "Andrew Carnegie,"
he says (and he apparently uses the name merely as that of a type), "has
been taking men's souls away and giving them paper books."

Now the mills may be soul-deadening--possibly they are, though it is hard
to benumb a soul--but I will venture to say that for every soul that Mr.
Carnegie, or anyone else, has taken away, he has created, awakened and
stimulated a thousand by contact with that almost soul--that
near-soul--that resides in books. Mr. Lee's books may be merely paper;
mine have paper and ink only for their outer garb; their inner warp and
woof is of the texture of spirit.

This is why I rejoice when a new library is opened. I thank God for its
generous donor. I clasp hands with the far-reaching municipality that
accepts and supports it. I wish good luck to the librarians who are to
care for it and give it dynamic force; I congratulate the public whose
privilege it is to use it and to profit by it.


Among those in all parts of the world whose good opinion is worth having,
Simon Newcomb was one of the best known of America's great men.
Astronomer, mathematician, economist, novelist, he had well-nigh boxed the
compass of human knowledge, attaining eminence such as is given to few to
reach, at more than one of its points. His fame was of the far-reaching
kind,--penetrating to remote regions, while that of some others has only
created a noisy disturbance within a narrow radius.

Best and most widely known as an astronomer, his achievements in that
science were not suited for sensational exploitation. He discovered no
apple-orchards on the moon, neither did he dispute regarding the railways
on the planet Venus. His aim was to make still more exact our knowledge of
the motions of the bodies constituting what we call the solar system, and
his labors toward this end, begun more than thirty years ago, he continued
almost until the day of his death. Conscious that his span of life was
measured by months and in the grip of what he knew to be a fatal disease,
he yet exerted himself with all his remaining energy to complete his
monumental work on the motion of the moon, and succeeded in bringing it to
an end before the final summons came. His last days thus had in them a
cast of the heroic, not less than if, as the commander of a torpedoed
battleship, he had gone down with her, or than if he had fallen charging
at the head of a forlorn hope. It is pleasant to think that such a man was
laid to rest with military honors. The accident that he was a retired
professor in the United States Navy may have been the immediate cause of
this, but its appropriateness lies deeper.

Newcomb saw the light not under the Stars and Stripes, but in Nova Scotia,
where he was born, at the town of Wallace on March 12, 1835. His father, a
teacher, was of American descent, his ancestors having settled in Canada
in 1761. After studying with his father and teaching for some little time
in his native province he came to the United States while yet a boy of
eighteen, and while teaching in Maryland in 1854-'56 was so fortunate as
to attract, by his mathematical ability, the attention of two eminent
American scientific men, Joseph Henry and Julius Hilgard, who secured him
an appointment as computer on the Nautical Almanac. The date of this was
1857, and Newcomb had thus, at his death, been in Government employ for
fifty-two years. As the work of the almanac was then carried on in
Cambridge, Mass., he was enabled to enter the Lawrence Scientific School
of Harvard University, where he graduated in 1858 and where he pursued
graduate studies for three years longer. On their completion in 1861 he
was appointed a professor of mathematics in the United States Navy, which
office he held till his death. This appointment, made when he was
twenty-six years old,--scarcely more than a boy,--is a striking testimony
to his remarkable ability as a mathematician, for of practical astronomy
he still knew little.

One of his first duties at Washington was to supervise the construction of
the great 26-inch equatorial just authorized by Congress and to plan for
mounting and housing it. In 1877 he became senior professor of mathematics
in the navy, and from that time until his retirement as a Rear Admiral in
1897 he had charge of the Nautical Almanac office, with its large corps of
naval and civilian assistants, in Washington and elsewhere. In 1884 he
also assumed the chair of mathematics and astronomy in Johns Hopkins
University, Baltimore, and he had much to to do, in an advisory capacity,
with the equipment of the Lick Observatory and with testing and mounting
its great telescope, at that time the largest in the world.

To enumerate his degrees, scientific honors, and medals would tire the
reader. Among them were the degree of LL.D. from all the foremost
universities, the gold medal of the Royal Astronomical Society of London
in 1874, the great gold Huygens medal of the University of Leyden, awarded
only once in twenty years, in 1878, and the Schubert gold medal of the
Imperial Academy of St. Petersburg. The collection of portraits of famous
astronomers at the Observatory of Pulkowa contains his picture, painted by
order of the Russian Government in 1887. He was, of course, a member of
many scientific societies, at home and abroad, and was elected in 1869 to
our own National Academy of Sciences, becoming its vice-president in 1883.
In 1893 he was chosen one of the eight foreign associates of the Institute
of France,--the first native American since Benjamin Franklin to be so
chosen. Newcomb's most famous work as an astronomer,--that which gained
him world-wide fame among his brother astronomers,--was, as has been said,
too mathematical and technical to appeal to the general public among his
countrymen, who have had to take his greatness, in this regard, on trust.
They have known him at first hand chiefly as author or editor of popular
works such as his "Popular Astronomy" (1877); of his text-books on
astronomy, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and calculus; of his books on
political economy, which science he was accustomed to call his
"recreation"; and of magazine articles on all sorts of subjects not
omitting "psychical research," which was one of the numerous by-paths into
which he strayed. He held at one time the presidency of the American
Society for Psychical Research.

The technical nature of his work in mathematical astronomy,--his
"profession," as he called it, in distinction to his "recreations" and
minor scientific amusements,--may be seen from the titles of one or two of
his papers: "On the Secular Variations and Mutual Relations of the Orbits
of the Asteroids" (1860); "Investigation of the Orbit of Neptune, with
General Tables of Its Motion" (1867); "Researches on the Motion of the
Moon" (1876); and so on. Of this work Professor Newcomb himself says, in
his "Reminiscences of an Astronomer" (Boston, 1903), that it all tended
toward one result,--the solution of what he calls "the great problem of
exact astronomy," the theoretical explanation of the observed motions of
the heavenly bodies.

If the universe consisted of but two bodies,--say, the sun and a
planet,--the motion would be simplicity itself; the planet would describe
an exact ellipse about the sun, and this orbit would never change in form,
size, or position. With the addition of only one more body, the problem at
once becomes so much more difficult as to be practically insoluble;
indeed, the "problem of the three bodies" has been attacked by astronomers
for years without the discovery of any general formula to express the
resulting motions. For the actually existing system of many planets with
their satellites and countless asteroids, only an approximation is
possible. The actual motions as observed and measured from year to year
are most complex. Can these be completely accounted for by the mutual
attractions of the bodies, according to the law of gravitation as
enunciated by Sir Isaac Newton? In Newcomb's words, "Does any world move
otherwise than as it is attracted by other worlds?" Of course, Newcomb has
not been the only astronomer at work on this problem, but it has been his
life-work and his contributions to its solution have been very noteworthy.

It is difficult to make the ordinary reader understand the obstacles in
the way of such a determination as this. Its two elements are, of course,
the mapping out of the lines in which the bodies concerned actually do
move and the calculations of the orbits in which they ought to move, if
the accepted laws of planetary motion are true. The first involves the
study of thousands of observations made during long years by different men
in far distant lands, the discussion of their probable errors, and their
reduction to a common standard. The latter requires the use of the most
refined methods of mathematical analysis; it is, as Newcomb says, "of a
complexity beyond the powers of ordinary conception." In works on
celestial mechanics a single formula may fill a whole chapter.

This problem first attracted Newcomb's attention when a young man at
Cambridge, when by analysis of the motions of the asteroids he showed that
the orbits of these minor planets had not, for several hundred thousand
years past, intersected at a single point, and that they could not,
therefore, have resulted, during that period, from the explosion of a
single large body, as had been supposed.

Later, when Newcomb's investigations along this line had extended to the
major planets and their satellites, a curious anomaly in the moon's motion
made it necessary for him to look for possible observations made long
before those hitherto recorded. The accepted tables were based on
observations extending back as far as 1750, but Newcomb, by searching the
archives of European observatories, succeeded in discovering data taken as
early as 1660, not, of course, with such an investigation as this in view,
but chiefly out of pure scientific curiosity. The reduction of such
observations, especially as the old French astronomers used apparent time,
which was frequently in error by quarter of an hour or so, was a matter of
great difficulty. The ancient observer, having no idea of the use that was
to be made of his work, had supplied no facilities for interpreting it,
and "much comparison and examination was necessary to find out what sort
of an instrument was used, how the observations were made, and how they
should be utilized for the required purpose." The result was a vastly more
accurate lunar theory than had formerly been obtained.

During the period when Newcomb was working among the old papers of the
Paris Observatory, the city, then in possession of the Communists, was
beset by the national forces, and his studies were made within hearing of
the heavy siege guns, whose flash he could even see by glancing through
his window.

Newcomb's appointment as head of the Nautical Almanac office greatly
facilitated his work on the various phases of this problem of planetary
motions. Their solution was here a legitimate part of the routine work of
the office, and he had the aid of able assistants,--such men as G.W. Hill,
who worked out a large part of the theory of Jupiter and Saturn, and
Cleveland Keith, who died in 1896, just as the final results of his work
were being combined. In connection with this work Professor Newcomb
strongly advocated the unification of the world's time by the adoption of
an international meridian, and also international agreement upon a uniform
system of data for all computations relating to the fixed stars. The
former still hangs fire, owing to mistaken "patriotism"; the latter was
adopted at an international conference held in Paris in 1896, but after it
had been carried into effect in our own Nautical Almanac, professional
jealousies brought about a modification of the plan that relegated the
improved and modernized data to an appendix.

Professor Newcomb's retirement from active service made the continuance of
his great work on an adequate scale somewhat problematical, and his data
on the moon's motion were laid aside for a time until a grant from the
newly organized Carnegie Institution in 1903 enabled him to employ the
necessary assistance, and the work has since gone forward to completion.

What is the value of such work, and why should fame be the reward of him
who pursues it successfully? Professor Newcomb himself raises this
question in his "Reminiscences," and without attempting to answer it
directly he notes that every civilized nation supports an observatory at
great annual expense to carry on such research, besides which many others
are supported by private or corporate contributions. Evidently the
consensus of public opinion must be that the results are worth at least a
part of what they cost. The question is included in the broader one of the
value of all research in pure science. Speaking generally, the object of
this is solely to add to the sum of human knowledge, although not seldom
some application to man's physical needs springs unexpectedly from the
resulting discoveries, as in the case of the dynamo or that of wireless
telegraphy. Possibly a more accurate description of the moon's motion is
unlikely to bring forth any such application, but those who applaud the
achievements of our experts in mathematical astronomy would be quick to
deny that their fame rests on any such possibility.

Passing now to Professor Newcomb's "recreation," as he called,
it,--political economy, we may note that his contributions to it were
really voluminous, consisting of papers, popular articles and several
books, including "The A B C of Finance" (1877) and "Principles of
Political Economy" (1886). Authorities in the science never really took
these as seriously as they deserved, possibly because they regarded
Professor Newcomb as scarcely orthodox. Some of his distinctions, however,
are of undoubted value and will live; for instance, that between the fund
and the flux of wealth, on which he insists in his treatises on finance.
As to Professor Newcomb's single excursion into fiction, a romance
entitled "His Wisdom the Defender," it is perhaps sufficient to say that,
like everything he attempted, it is at least worth notice. It is a sort of
cross between Jules Verne and Bulwer Lytton's "Coming Race."

Professor Newcomb's mind was comprehensive in its activity. One might have
thought that an intellect occupied to the last in carrying out one of the
most stupendous tasks ever attempted by a mathematical astronomer would
have had little time or little energy left for other things; but Newcomb
took his rest and pleasure in popular articles and interviews. Only a
short time before his death he published an essay on aeronautics that
attracted wide attention, drawing the conclusions that the aeroplane can
never be of much use either as a passenger-carrier or in war, but that the
dirigible balloon may accomplish something within certain lines, although
it will never put the railways and steamships out of business. In
particular, he treated with unsparing ridicule the panic fear of an aerial
invasion that so lately seized upon our transatlantic cousins.

Personally, Newcomb was an agreeable companion and a faithful friend. His
success was due largely to his tenacity of purpose. The writer's only
personal contact with him came through the "Standard Dictionary,"--of
whose definitions in physical science Newcomb had general oversight. On
one occasion he came into the office greatly dissatisfied with the
definition that we had framed for the word "magnet."--a conception almost
impossible to define in any logical way. We had simply enumerated the
properties of the thing,--a course which in the absence of authoritative
knowledge of their causes was the only rational procedure. But Newcomb's
mind demanded a logical treatment, and though he must have seen from the
outset that this was a forlorn hope, his tenacity of purpose kept him,
pencil in hand, writing and erasing alternately for an hour or more.
Finally he confessed that he could do no better than the following pair of
definitions,--"_Magnet_, a body capable of exerting magnetic force," and
"_Magnetic Force_, the force exerted by a magnet." With a hearty laugh at
this beautiful _circulus in definiendo_ he threw down his pencil, and the
imperfect and illogical office definition was accepted.

Logical as he was, however, he was in no sense bound by convention. His
economics, as has been said, was often unorthodox, and even in his
mathematical text-books he occasionally shocked the hide-bound. I well
remember an interesting discussion among members of the Yale mathematical
faculty just after the appearance of Newcomb's text-book of geometry, in
which he was unsparingly condemned by some because he assumed in certain
elementary demonstrations that geometrical figures could be removed from
the paper, turned over and laid down again,--the so-called "method of
superposition," now generally regarded as quite allowable. Of course, a
figure can be treated in this way only in imagination and for this season,
probably, the method was not employed by Euclid. Its use, however, leads
always to true results, as anyone may see; and it was quite characteristic
of Professor Newcomb that he should have taken it up, not having the fear
of the Greek geometers before him.

Such was Newcomb; it will be long before American science sees his equal.
Mathematical genius is like an automobile,--it is looked upon in two
opposing fashions as one has it or has it not. A noted educator not long
ago announced his belief that the possession of a taste for mathematics is
an exact index of the general intellectual powers. Not much later, another
eminent teacher asserted that mathematical ability is an exotic,--that one
may, and often does, possess it who is in other respects practically an
imbecile. This is scarcely a subject in which a single illustration
decides, but surely Newcomb's career justifies the former opinion rather
than the latter; the amount and kind of his mental abilities along all
lines seemed to run parallel to his mathematical genius, to resemble it in
quantity and in kind.

The great volumes of astronomical tables without which no astronomer may
now venture upon a computation are his best monument; yet the general
reader will longer remember, perhaps, the lucid expositor, the genial
essayist, the writer of one of the most readable autobiographies of our


    [5] Read before the Pacific Northwest Library Association,
        June, 1910.

Are books fitted to be our companions? That depends. You and I read them
with pleasure; others do not care for them; to some the reading of any
book at all is as impossible as the perusal of a volume in Old Slavonic
would be to most of us. These people simply do not read at all. To a
suggestion that he supplement his usual vacation sports by reading a
novel, a New York police captain--a man with a common school
education--replied, "Well, I've never read a book yet, and I don't think
I'll begin now." Here was a man who had never read a book, who had no use
for books, and who could get along perfectly well without them. He is not
a unique type. Hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens might as well
be quite illiterate, so far as the use that they make of their ability to
read is concerned. These persons are not all uneducated; they possess and
are still acquiring much knowledge, but since leaving school they have
acquired it chiefly by personal experience and by word of mouth. Is it
possible that they are right? May it be that to read books is unnecessary
and superfluous?

There has been some effort of late to depreciate the book--to insist on
its inadequacy and on the impracticality of the knowledge that it conveys.
"Book-learning" has always been derided more or less by so-called
"practical men". A recent series of comic pictures in the newspapers makes
this clear. It is about "Book-taught Bilkins". Bilkins tries to do
everything by a book. He raises vegetables, builds furniture, runs a
chicken farm, all by the directions contained in books, and meets with
ignominious failure. He makes himself, in fact, very ridiculous in every
instance and thousands of readers laugh at him and his absurd books. They
inwardly resolve, doubtless, that they will be practical and will pay no
attention to books. Are they right? Is the information contained in books
always useless and absurd, while that obtained by experience or by talking
to one's neighbor is always correct and valuable?

Many of our foremost educators are displeased with the book. They are
throwing it aside for the lecture, for laboratory work, for personal
research and experiment. Does this mean that the book, as a tool of the
teacher, will have to go?

What it all certainly does mean is that we ought to pause a minute and
think about the book, about what it does and what it can not do. This
means that we ought to consider a little the whole subject of written as
distinguished from spoken language. Why should we have two languages--as
we practically do--one to be interpreted by the ear and the other by the
eye? Could we or should we abandon either? What are the advantages and
what the limitations of each? We are so accustomed to looking upon the
printed page, to reading newspapers, books, and advertisements, to sending
and receiving letters, written or typewritten, that we are apt to forget
that all this is not part of the natural order, except in the sense that
all inventions and creations of the human brain are natural. Written
language is a conscious invention of man; spoken language is a
development, shaped by his needs and controlled by his sense of what is
fitting, but not at the outset consciously devised.

We are apt to think of written language as simply a means of representing
spoken language to the eye; but it is more than this; originally, at least
in many cases, it was not this at all. The written signs represented not
sounds, but ideas themselves; if they were intended to correspond directly
with anything, it was with the rude gestures that signified ideas and had
nothing to do with their vocal expression. It was not until later that
these written symbols came to correspond to vocal sounds and even to-day
they do so imperfectly; languages that are largely phonetic are the
exception. The result is, as I have said, that we have two languages--a
spoken and a written. What we call reading aloud is translation from the
written to the spoken tongue; while writing from dictation is translation
from the spoken to the written. When we read, as we say, "to ourselves,"
we sometimes, if we are not skilful, pronounce the spoken words under our
breath, or at least form them with our vocal organs. You all remember the
story of how the Irishman who could not read made his friend stop up his
ears while reading a letter aloud, so that he might not hear it. This
anecdote, like all good comic stories, has something in it to think about.
The skilful reader does not even imagine the spoken words as he goes. He
forgets, for the moment, the spoken tongue and translates the written
words and phrases directly into the ideas for which they stand. A skilful
reader thus takes in the meaning of a phrase, a sentence, even of a
paragraph, at a glance. Likewise the writer who sets his own thoughts down
on paper need not voice them, even in imagination; he may also forget all
about the spoken tongue and spread his ideas on the page at first hand.
This is not so common because one writes slower than he speaks, whereas he
reads very much faster. The swift reader could not imagine that he was
speaking the words, even if he would; the pace is too incredibly fast.

Our written tongue, then, has come to be something of a language by
itself. In some countries it has grown so out of touch with the spoken
tongue that the two have little to do with each other. Where only the
learned know how to read and write, the written language takes on a
learned tinge; the popular spoken tongue has nothing to keep it steady and
changes rapidly and unsystematically. Where nearly all who speak the
language also read and write it, as in our own country, the written
tongue, even in its highest literary forms, is apt to be much more
familiar and colloquial, but at the same time the written and the spoken
tongue keep closer together. Still, they never accurately correspond. When
a man "talks like a book," or in other words, uses such language that it
could be printed word for word and appear in good literary form, we
recognize that he is not talking ordinary colloquial English--not using
the normal spoken language. On the other hand, when the speech of a
southern negro or a down-east Yankee is set down in print, as it so often
is in the modern "dialect story," we recognize at once that although for
the occasion this is written language, it is not normal literary English.
It is most desirable that the two forms of speech shall closely
correspond, for then the written speech gets life from the spoken and the
spoken has the written for its governor and controller; but it is also
desirable that each should retain more or less individuality, and
fortunately it is almost impossible that they should not do so.

We must not forget, therefore, that our written speech is not merely a way
of setting down our spoken speech in print. This is exactly what our
friends the spelling reformers appear to have forgotten. The name that
they have given to what they propose to do, indicates this clearly. When a
word as written and as spoken have drifted apart, it is usually the spoken
word that has changed. Reform, therefore, would be accomplished by
restoring the old spoken form. Instead of this, it is proposed to change
the written form. In other words, the two languages are to be forced
together by altering that one of them that is by its essence the most
immutable. Where the written word has been corrupted as in spelling
"guild" for "gild," the adoption of the simpler spelling is a reform;
otherwise, not.

Now is the possession of two languages, a spoken and a written, an
advantage or not? With regard to the spoken tongue, the question answers
itself. If we were all deaf and dumb, we could still live and carry on
business, but we should be badly handicapped. On the other hand, if we
could neither read nor write, we should simply be in the position of our
remote forefathers or even of many in our own day and our own land. What
then is the reasons for a separate written language, beyond the variety
thereby secured, by the use of two senses, hearing and sight, instead of
only one?

Evidently the chief reason is that written speech is eminently fitted for
preservation. Without the transmittal of ideas from one generation to
another, intellectual progress is impossible. Such transmittal, before the
invention of writing, was effected solely by memory. The father spoke to
the son, and he, remembering what was said, told it, in turn, to the
grandson. This is tradition, sometimes marvellously accurate, but often
untrustworthy. And as it is without check, there is no way of telling
whether a given fact, so transmitted, is or is not handed down faithfully.
Now we have the phonograph for preserving and accurately reproducing
spoken language. If this had been invented before the introduction of
written language, we might never have had the latter; as it is, the device
comes on the field too late to be a competitor with the book in more than
a very limited field. For preserving particular voices, such as those of
great men, or for recording intonation and pronunciation, it fills a want
that writing and printing could never supply.

For the long preservation of ideas and their conveyance to a human mind,
written speech is now the indispensable vehicle. And, as has been said,
this is how man makes progress. We learn in two ways: by undergoing and
reflecting on our own experiences and by reading and reflecting on those
of others. Neither of these ways is sufficient in itself. A child bound
hand and foot and confined in a dark room would not be a fit subject for
instruction, but neither would he reach a high level if placed on a desert
island far from his kind and forced to rely solely on his own experiences.
The experiences of our forebears, read in the light of our own; the
experiences of our forebears, used as a starting-point from which we may
move forward to fresh fields--these we must know and appreciate if we are
to make progress. This means the book and its use.

Books may be used in three ways--for information, for recreation, for
inspiration. There are some who feel inclined to rely implicitly on the
information that is to be found in books--to believe that a book can not
lie. This is an unfortunate state of mind. The word of an author set down
in print is worth no more than when he gives it to us in spoken
language--no more and no less. There was, to be sure, a time when the
printed word implied at least care and thoughtfulness. It is still true
that the book implies somewhat more of this than the newspaper, but the
difference between the two is becoming unfortunately less. Now a wrong
record, if it purports to be a record of facts, is worse than none at all.
The man who desires to know the distance between two towns in Texas and is
unable to find it in any book of reference may obtain it at the cost of
some time and trouble; but if he finds it wrongly recorded, he accepts the
result and goes away believing a lie. If we are to use books for
information, therefore, it is of the utmost consequence that we know
whether the information is correct or not. A general critical evaluation
of all literature, even on this score alone, without going into the
question of literary merit, is probably beyond the possibilities, although
it has been seriously proposed. Some partial lists we have, and a few
lists of those lists, so that we may know where to get at them. There are
many books about books, especially in certain departments of history,
technology, or art, but no one place to which a man may go, before he
begins to read his book, to find out whether he may believe what he reads
in it. This is a serious lack, especially as there is more than one point
of view. Books that are of high excellence as literature may not be at all
accurate. How shall the boy who hears enthusiastic praise of Prescott's
histories and who is spellbound when he reads them know that the results
of recent investigation prove that those histories give a totally
incorrect idea of Mexico and Peru? How is the future reader of Dr. Cook's
interesting account of the ascent of Mount McKinley to know that it has
been discredited? And how is he to know whether other interesting and
well-written histories and books of travel have not been similarly proved
inaccurate? At present, there is no way except to go to one who knows the
literature of the subject, or to read as many other books on the subject
as can be obtained, weighing one against the other and coming to one's own
conclusions. Possibly the public library may be able to help. Mr. Charles
F. Lummis of the Los Angeles library advocates labelling books with what
he calls "Poison Labels" to warn the reader when they are inaccurate or
untrustworthy. Most librarians have hesitated a little to take so radical
a step as this, not so much from unwillingness to assume the duty of
warning the public, as from a feeling that they were not competent to
undertake the critical evaluation of the whole of the literature of
special subjects. The librarian may know that this or that book is out of
date or not to be depended on, but there are others about which he is not
certain or regarding which he must rely on what others tell him. And he
knows that expert testimony is notoriously one-sided. It is this fear of
acting as an advocate instead of as a judge that has generally deterred
the librarian from labelling his books with notes of advice or warning.

There is, however, no reason why the librarian should take sides in the
matter. He may simply point out to the reader that there are other books
on the same subject, written from different points of view, and he may
direct attention to these, letting the reader draw his own conclusions.
There is probability that the public library in the future will furnish
information and guidance of this kind about books, more than it has done
in the past.

And here it may be noted in passing that the library is coming out of its
shell. It no longer holds itself aloof, taking good care of its books and
taking little care of the public that uses them. It is coming to realize
that the man and the book are complementary, that neither is much without
the other, and that to bring them together is its duty. It realizes also
that a book is valuable, not because it is so much paper and ink and
thread and leather, but because it records and preserves somebody's ideas.
It is the projection of a human mind across space and across time and
where it touches another human mind those minds have come into contact
just as truly and with as valuable results as if the bodies that held them
stood face to face in actual converse. This is the miracle of written
speech--a miracle renewed daily in millions of places with millions of

We have, in the modern library, the very best way of perpetuating such
relations as this and of ensuring that such as are preserved shall be
worth preserving. When the ancients desired to make an idea carry as far
as possible, they saw to the toughness and strength of the material object
constituting the record; they cut it in stone or cast it in metal,
forgetting that all matter is in a state of continual flux and change; it
is the idea only that endures. Stone and metal will both one day pass away
and unless some one sees fit to copy the inscription on a fresh block or
tablet, the record will be lost. It is, then, only by continual renewal of
its material basis that a record in written language can be made to last,
and there is no reason why this renewal should not take place every few
years, as well as every few centuries. There is even an advantage in
frequent renewal; for this ensures that the value of the record shall be
more frequently passed upon and prevents the preservation of records that
are not worth keeping. This preservation by frequent renewal is just what
is taking place with books; we make them of perishable materials; if we
want to keep them, we reprint them; otherwise they decay and are

We should not forget that by this plan the reader is usually made the
judge of whether a book is worth keeping. Why do we preserve by continual
reprinting Shakespeare and Scott and Tennyson and Hawthorne? The
reprinting is done by publishers as a money-making scheme. It is
profitable to them because there is a demand for those authors. If we
cease to care for them and prefer unworthy writers, Shakespeare and Scott
will decay and be forgotten and the unworthy ones will be preserved. Thus
a great responsibility is thrown upon readers; so far they have judged
pretty well.

Just now, however, we are confining ourselves to the use of books for
information; and here there is less preservation than elsewhere.
Especially in science, statements and facts quickly become out of date;
here it is not the old but the new that we want--the new based on the
accurate and enduring part of the old.

Before we leave this part of the subject it may be noted that many persons
have no idea of the kinds of information that may be obtained from books.
Even those who would unhesitatingly seek a book for data in history, art,
or mathematics would not think of going to books for facts on plumbing,
weaving, or shoe-making, for methods of shop-window decoration or of
display-advertising, for special forms of bookkeeping suitable for
factories or for stock-farms--for a host of facts relating to trades,
occupations, and business in general. Yet there are books about all these
things--not books perhaps to read for an idle hour, but books full of meat
for them who want just this kind of food. If Book-taught Bilkins fails,
after trying to utilize what such books have taught him, it is doubtless
because he has previously failed to realize that books plus experience,
or, to put it differently, the recorded experience of others plus our own
is better than either could be separately. And the same is true of
information that calls for no physical action to supplement it. Books plus
thought--the thoughts of others plus our own--are more effective in
combination than either could be by itself. Reading should provoke
thought; thought should suggest more reading, and so on, until others'
thoughts and our own have become so completely amalgamated that they are
our personal intellectual possessions.

But we may not read for information at all--recreation may be what we are
after. Do not misunderstand me. Many persons have an idea that if one
reads to amuse himself he must necessarily read novels. I think most
highly of good novels. Narrative is a popular form of literary expression;
it is used by those who wish to instruct as well as to amuse. One may
obtain plenty of information from novels--often in a form nowhere else
available. If we want exact statement, statistical or otherwise, we do not
go to fiction for it; but if we wish to obtain what is often more
important--accurate and lasting general impressions of history, society,
or geography, the novel is often the only place where these may be had.
Likewise, one may amuse himself with history, travel, science, or
art--even with mathematics. The last is rarely written primarily to amuse,
although we have such a title as "Mathematical recreations," but there are
plenty of non-fiction books written for entertainment and one may read for
entertainment any book whatever. The result depends not so much on the
book or its contents as on the reader.

Recreation is now recognized as an essential part of education. And just
as physical recreation consists largely in the same muscular movements
that constitute work, only in different combinations and with different
ends in view, so mental recreation consists of intellectual exercise with
a similar variation of combinations and aims.

Somebody says that "play is work that you don't have to do". So reading
for amusement may closely resemble study--the only difference is that it
is purely voluntary. Here again, however, the written language is only an
intermediary; we have as before, the contact of two minds--only here it is
often the lighter contact of good-fellowship. And one who reads always for
such recreation is thus like the man who is always bandying trivialities,
story-telling, and jesting--an excellent, even a necessary, way of passing
part of one's time, but a mistaken way of employing all of it.

The best kind of recreation is gently stimulating, but stimulation may
rise easily to abnormality. There are fiction drunkards just as there are
persons who take too much alcohol or too much coffee. In fact, if one is
so much absorbed by the ideas that he is assimilating that the process
interferes with the ordinary duties of life, he may be fairly sure that it
is injuring him. If one loves coffee or alcohol, or even candy, so dearly
that one can not give it up, it is time to stop using it altogether. If a
reader is so fond of an exciting story that he can not lay it aside, so
that he sits up late at night reading it, or if he can not drop it from
his mind when he does lay it aside, but goes on thinking about the deadly
combat between the hero and Lord William Fitz Grouchy when he ought to be
studying his lessons or attending to his business, it is time to cut out
fiction altogether. This advice has absolutely nothing to do with the
quality of the fiction. It will not do simply to warn the habitual
drunkard that he must be careful to take none but the best brands; he must
drop alcohol altogether. If you are a fiction drunkard, enhanced quality
will only enslave you further. This sort of use is no more recreation in
the proper sense of the word than is gambling, or drinking to excess, or
smoking opium.

And now we come to a use of books that is more important--lies more at the
root of things--than their use for either information or recreation--their
use for inspiration. One may get help and inspiration along with the other
two--reading about how to make a box may inspire a boy to go out and make
one himself. It is this kind of thing that should be the final outcome of
every mental process. Nothing that goes on in the brain is really complete
until it ends in a motor stimulus. The action, it is true, may not follow
closely; it may be the result of years of mental adjustment; it may even
take place in another body from the one where it originated. The man who
tells us how to make a box, and tells it so fascinatingly that he sets all
his readers to box-making, presumably has made boxes with his own hands,
but there may be those who are fitted to inspire action in others rather
than to undertake it themselves. And the larger literature of inspiration
is not that which urges to specific deeds like box-making, or even to
classes of deeds, like caring for the sick or improving methods of
transportation; rather does it include in its scope all good thoughts and
all good actions. It makes better men and women of those who read it; it
is revolutionary and evolutionary at the same time, in the best sense of
both words.

What will thus inspire me, do you ask? It would be easy to try to tell
you; it would also be easy to fail. Many have tried and failed. This is a
deeply personal matter. I can not tell what book, or what passage in a
book, will touch the magic spring that shall make your life useful instead
of useless, that shall start your thoughts and your deeds climbing up
instead of grovelling or passively waiting. Only search will reveal it.
The diamond-miner who expects to be directed to the precise spot where he
will find a gem will never pick one up. Only he who seeks, finds. There
are, however, places to look and places to avoid. The peculiar clay in
which diamonds occur is well known to mineralogists. He who runs across
it, looks for diamonds, though he may find none. But he who hunts for them
on the rock-ribbed hills of New Hampshire or the sea-sands of Florida is
doing a foolish thing--although even there he may conceivably pick up one
that has been dropped by accident.

So you may know where it is best to go in your search for inspiration from
books, for we know where seekers in the past have most often found it. He
who could read the Bible or Shakespeare without finding some of it is the
exception. It may be looked for in the great poets--Homer, Virgil, Dante,
Chaucer, Milton, Hugo, Keats, Goethe; or the great historians--Tacitus,
Herodotus, Froissart, Macaulay, Taine, Bancroft; or in the great
travellers from Sir John Mandeville down, or in biographies like Boswell's
life of Johnson, or in books of science--Laplace, Lagrange, Darwin,
Tyndall, Helmholtz; in the lives of the great artists; in the great novels
and romances--Thackeray, Balzac, Hawthorne, Dickens, George Eliot. Yet
each and all of these may leave you cold and may pick up your gem in some
out-of-the-way corner where neither you nor anyone else would think of
looking for it.

Did you ever see a car-conductor fumbling about in the dark with the
trolley pole, trying to hit the wire? While he is pulling it down and
letting it fly up again, making fruitless dabs in the air, the car is dark
and motionless; in vain the motorman turns his controller, in vain do the
passengers long for light. But sooner or later the pole strikes the wire;
down it flows the current that was there all the time up in the air; in a
jiffy the car is in motion and ablaze with light. So your search for
inspiration in literature may be long and unsuccessful; you are dark and
motionless. But the life-giving current from some great man's brain is
flowing through some book not far away. One day you will make the
connection and your life will in a trice be filled with light and instinct
with action.

And before we leave this subject of inspiration, let us dwell for a moment
on that to be obtained from one's literary setting in general--from the
totality of one's literary associations and impressions, as distinguished
from that gained from some specific passage or idea.

It has been said that it takes two to tell the truth; one to speak and one
to listen. In like manner we may say that two persons are necessary to a
great artistic interpretation--one to create and one to appreciate. And of
no art is this more true than it is of literature. The thought that we are
thus cooperating with Shakespeare and Schiller and Hugo in bringing out
the full effect of their deathless conceptions is an inspiring one and its
consideration may aid us in realizing the essential oneness of the human
race, so far as its intellectual life is concerned.

Would you rather be a citizen of the United States than, we will say, of
Nicaragua? You might be as happy, as well educated, as well off, there as
here. Why do you prefer your present status? Simply and solely because of
associations and relationships. If this is sentiment, as it doubtless is,
it is the kind of sentiment that rules the world--it is in the same class
as friendship, loyalty, love of kin, affection for home. The links that
bind us to the past and the threads that stretch out into the future are
more satisfactory to us here in the United States, with the complexity of
its interests for us, than they would be in Nicaragua, or Guam, or

Then of what country in the realm of literature do you desire to be a
citizen? Of the one where Shakespeare is king and where your familiar and
daily speech is with the great ones of this earth--those whose wise,
witty, good, or inspiring words, spoken for centuries past, have been
recorded in books? Or would you prefer to dwell with triviality and
banality--perhaps with Laura Jean Libbey or even with Mary J. Holmes, and
those a little better than these--or a little worse.

I am one of those who believe in the best associations, literary as well
as social. And associations may have their effect even if they are
apparently trivial or superficial.

When the open-shelf library was first introduced we were told that one of
its chief advantages was that it encouraged "browsing"--the somewhat
aimless rambling about and dipping here and there into a book. Obviously
this can not be done in a closed-shelf library. But of late it has been
suggested, in one quarter or another, that although this may be a pleasant
occupation to some, or even to most, it is not a profitable one. Opponents
of the open shelf of whom there are still one or two, here and there, find
in this conclusion a reason for negativing the argument in its favor,
while those of its advocates who accept this view see in it only a reason
for basing that argument wholly on other grounds.

Now those of us who like a thing do not relish being told that it is not
good for us. We feel that pleasure was intended as an outward sign of
benefits received and although it may in abnormal conditions deceive us,
we are right in demanding proof before distrusting its indications. When
the cow absorbs physical nutriment by browsing, she does so without
further reason than that she likes it. Does the absorber of mental pabulum
from books argue wrongly from similar premises?

Many things are hastily and wrongly condemned because they do not achieve
certain results that they were not intended to achieve. And in particular,
when a thing exists in several degrees or grades, some one of those grades
is often censured, although good in itself, because it is not a grade or
two higher. Obviously everything depends on what is required. When a
shopper wants just three yards of cloth, she would be foolish to buy four.
She would, of course, be even more foolish to imagine that, if she really
wished four, three would do just as well. But if a man wants to go to the
eighth story of a building, he should not be condemned because he does not
mount to the ninth; if he wishes a light lunch, he should not be found
fault with for not ordering a seven-course dinner. And yet we continually
hear persons accused of "superficiality" who purposely and knowingly
acquire some slight degree of knowledge of a subject instead of a higher
degree. And others are condemned, we will say, for reading for amusement
when they might have read for serious information, without inquiring
whether amusement, in this instance, was not precisely what they needed.

It may be, therefore, that browsing is productive of some good result, and
that it fails to effect some other, perhaps some higher, result which its
critics have wrongly fixed upon as the one desirable thing in this

When a name embodies a figure of speech, we may often learn something by
following up the figure to see how far it holds good. What does an animal
do, and what does it not do, when it "browses"? In the first place it eats
food--fresh, growing food; but, secondly, it eats this food by cropping
off the tips of the herbage, not taking much at once, and again, it moves
about from place to place, eating now here and now there and then making
selection, from one motive or another, but presumably following the
dictates of its own taste or fancy. What does it not do? First, it does
not, from choice, eat anything bad. Secondly, it does not necessarily
consume all of its food in this way. If it finds a particularly choice
spot, it may confine its feeding to that spot; or, if its owner sees fit,
he may remove it to the stable, where it may stand all day and eat what he
chooses to give it. The benefits of browsing are, first, the nourishment
actually derived from the food taken, coupled with the fact that it is
taken in small quantities, and in great variety; and secondly, the
knowledge of good spots, obtained from the testing of one spot after
another, throughout the whole broad pasture.

Now I submit that our figure of speech holds good in all these
particulars. The literary "browser" partakes of his mental food from books
and is thereby nourished and stimulated; he takes it here and there in
brief quantities, moving from section to section and from shelf to shelf,
selecting choice morsels of literature as fancy may dictate. He does not,
if he is a healthy reader, absorb voluntarily anything that will hurt him,
and this method of literary absorption does not preclude other methods of
mental nourishment. He may like a book so much that he proceeds to devour
it whole, or his superiors in knowledge may remove him to a place where
necessary mental food is administered more or less forcibly. And having
gone so far with our comparison, we shall make no mistake if we go a
little further and say that the benefits of browsing to the reader are
twofold, as they are to the material feeder--the absorption of actual
nutriment in his own wilful, wayward manner--a little at a time and in
great variety; and the knowledge of good reading obtained from such a wide
testing of the field.

Are not these real benefits, and are they not desirable? I fear that our
original surmise was correct and that browsing is condemned not for what
it does, but because it fails to do something that it could not be
expected to do. Of course, if one were to browse continuously he would be
unable to feed in any other way. Attendance upon school or the continuous
reading of any book whatever would be obviously impossible. To avoid
misunderstanding, therefore, we will agree at this point that whatever may
be said here in commendation of browsing is on condition that it be
occasional and not excessive and that the normal amount of continuous
reading and study proceed together with it.

Having settled, therefore, that browsing is a good thing when one does not
occupy ones' whole time with it, let us examine its advantages a little
more in detail.

First: about the mental nourishment that is absorbed in browsing; the
specific information, the appreciation of what is good, the intellectual
stimulation--not that which comes from reading suggested or guided by
browsing, but from the actual process itself. I have heard it strenuously
denied that any such absorption occurs; the bits taken are too small, the
motion of the browser is too rapid, the whole process is too desultory.
Let us see. In the first place a knowledge of authors and titles and of
the general character of their works is by no means to be despised. I
heard the other day of a presumably educated woman who betrayed in a
conversation her ignorance of Omar Khayyam--not lack of acquaintance with
his works, but lack of knowledge that such a person had ever existed. If
at some period in her life she had held in her hand a copy of "The
Rubaiyat," and had glanced at its back, without even opening it, how much
embarrassment she might have been spared! And if, in addition, she had
glanced within for just ten seconds and had discovered that he wrote
poetry in stanzas of four lines each, she would have known as much about
Omar as do many of those who would contemptuously scoff at her ignorance.
With so brief effort may we acquire literary knowledge sufficient to avoid
embarrassment in ordinary conversation. Browsing in a good library, if the
browser has a memory, will soon equip him with a wide range of knowledge
of this kind. Nor is such knowledge to be sneered at as superficial. It is
all that we know, or need to know, about scores of authors. One may never
study higher mathematics, but it may be good for him to know that Lagrange
was a French author who wrote on analytical mechanics, that Euclid was a
Greek geometer, and that Hamilton invented quaternions. All this and
vastly more may be impressed on the mind by an hour in the mathematical
alcove of a library of moderate size. And it will do no harm to a boy to
know that Benvenuto Cellini wrote his autobiography, even if the
inevitable perusal of the book is delayed for several years, or that
Felicia Hemans, James Thomson, and Robert Herrick wrote poetry,
independently of familiarity with their works, or that "Lamia" is not
something to eat or "As you like it" a popular novel. Information of this
kind is almost impossible to acquire from lists or from oral statement,
whereas a moment's handling of a book in the concrete may fix it in the
mind for good and all. So far, we have not supposed that even a word of
the contents has been read. What, now, if a sentence, a stanza, a
paragraph, a page, passes into the brain through the eye? Those who
measure literary effect by the thousand words or by the hour are making a
great mistake. The lightning flash is over in a fraction of a second, but
in that time it may reveal a scene of beauty, may give the traveller
warning of the fatal precipice, or may shatter the farmer's home into
kindling wood. Intellectual lightning may strike the "browser" as he
stands there book in hand before the shelf. A word, a phrase, may sear
into his brain--may turn the current of his whole life. And even if no
such epoch-making words meet his eye, in how brief a time may he read,
digest, appreciate, some of the gems of literature! Leigh Hunt's "Jennie
kissed me" would probably take about thirty seconds; on a second reading
he would have it by heart--the joy of a life-time. How many meaty epigrams
would take as long? The whole of Gray's "Elegy" is hardly beyond the
browser's limit.

In an editorial on the Harvard Classics in the "Chicago evening post",
(April 22), we read, "the cultural tabloid has very little virtue;... to
gain everything that a book has to give one must be submerged in it,
saturated and absorbed". This is very much like saying, "there is very
little nourishment in a sandwich; to get the full effect of a luncheon you
must eat everything on the table". It is a truism to say that you can not
get everything in a book without reading all of it; but it by no means
follows that the virtue of less than the whole is negligible.

So much for the direct effect of what one may thus take in, bit by bit.
The indirect effect is even more important. For by sampling a whole
literature, as he does, he not only gets a bird's-eye view of it, but he
finds out what lie likes and what he dislikes; he begins to form his
taste. Are you afraid that he will form it wrong? I am not. We are
assuming that the library where he browses is a good one; here is no
chance of evil, only a choice between different kinds of good. And even if
the evil be there, it is astonishing how the healthy mind will let it slip
and fasten eagerly on the good. Would you prefer a taste fixed by someone
who tells the browser what he ought to like? Then that is not the reader's
own taste at all, but that of his informant. We have too much of this sort
of thing--too many readers without an atom of taste of their own who will
say, for instance, that they adore George Meredith, because some one has
told them that all intellectual persons do so. The man who frankly loves
George Ade and can yet see nothing in Shakespeare may one day discover
Shakespeare. The man who reads Shakespeare merely because he thinks he
ought to is hopeless.

But what a triumph, to stand spell-bound by the art of a writer whose name
you never heard, and then discover that he is one of the great ones of the
world! Nought is comparable to it except perhaps to pick out all by
yourself in the exhibition the one picture that the experts have chosen
for the museum or to be able to say you liked olives the first time you
tasted them.

Who are your favorites? Did some one guide you to them or did you find
them yourselves? I will warrant that in many cases you discovered them and
that this is why you love them. I discovered DeQuincey's romances, Praed's
poetry, Béranger in French, Heine in German, "The Arabian nights",
Molière, Irving's "Alhambra," hundreds of others probably. I am sure that
I love them all far more than if some one had told me they were good
books. If I had been obliged to read them in school and pass an
examination on them, I should have hated them. The teacher who can write
an examination paper on Gray's "Elegy", would, I firmly believe, cut up
his grandmother alive before the physiology class.

And next to the author or the book that you have discovered yourself comes
the one that the discoverer himself--your boy or girl friend--tells you
about. _He_ knows a good thing--_she_ knows it! No school nonsense about
that; no adult misunderstanding. I found out Poe that way, and Thackeray's
"Major Gahagan", and many others.

To go back to our old illustration and consider for a moment not the book
but the mind, the personality whose ideas it records, such association
with books represents association with one's fellowmen in society--at a
reception, in school or college, at a club. Some we pass by with a nod,
with some we exchange a word; sometimes there is a warm handgrasp;
sometimes a long conversation. No matter what the mental contact may be,
it has its effects--we are continually gaining knowledge, making new
friends, receiving fresh inspiration. The complexion of this kind of daily
association determines the cast of one's mind, the thoroughness of his
taste, the usefulness or uselessness of what he does. A man is known by
the company he keeps, because that company forms him; he gets from it what
becomes brain of his brain and soul of his soul.

And no less is he formed by his mental associations with the good and the
great of all ages whom he meets in books and who talk to him there. More
rather than less; for into a book the writer puts generally what is best
in him, laying aside the pettiness, the triviality, the downright
wickedness that may have characterized him in the flesh.

I have often heard the comment from one who had met face to face a writer
whose work he loved--"Oh! he disappointed me so!" How disappointed might
we be with Thackeray, with Dickens, even with Shakespeare, could we meet
them in the flesh! Now they can not disappoint us, for we know only what
they have left on record--the best, the most enduring part, purified from
what is gross and earthly.

In and among such company as this it is your privilege to live and move,
almost without money and without price. Thank God for books; let them be
your friends and companions through life--for information, for recreation,
but above all for inspiration.


    [6] Read before the St. Louis Academy of Science.

A theory involving some sort of a discrete or discontinuous structure of
energy has been put forward by Prof. Max Planck of the University of
Berlin. The various aspects of this theory are discussed and elaborated by
the late M. Henri Poincaré in a paper entitled "L'Hypothèse des Quanta,"
published in the _Revue Scientifique_ (Paris, Feb. 21, 1912).

A paper in which a discontinuous or "atomic" structure of energy was
suggested was prepared by the present writer fifteen years ago but remains
unpublished for reasons that will appear later. Although he has no desire
to put in a claim of priority and is well aware that failure to publish
would put any such claim out of court, it seems to him that in connection
with present radical developments in physical theory the paper, together
with some correspondence relating thereto, has historical interest.
Planck's theory was suggested by thermodynamical considerations. In the
paper now to be quoted the matter was approached from the standpoint of a
criterion for determining the identity of two portions of matter or of
energy. The paper is as follows:

_Some Consideration on the Identity of Definite Portions of Energy_

It has been remarked recently that physicists are now divided into two
opposing schools according to the way in which they view the subject of
energy, some regarding it as a mere mathematical abstraction and others
looking upon it as a physical entity, filling space and continuously
migrating by definite paths from one place to another. It may be added
that there are numerous factions within these two parties; for instance,
not all of those who consider energy to be something more than a mere
mathematical expression would maintain that a given quantity of it retains
its identity just as a given quantity of matter does. In fact a close
analysis would possibly show that opinions are graded very closely and
continuously from a view hardly differing from that of Lagrange, who
clearly saw and freely used the mathematical considerations involving
energy before the word had been invented or its physical meaning
developed, up to that stated recently in its extreme form by Professor
Ostwald, who would replace what he terms a mechanical theory of the
universe by an "energetical" theory, and would dwell exclusively on energy
as opposed to its vehicles.

Differences of opinion of this sort very frequently reduce to differences
of definition, and in this case the meaning of the word "identity" or some
similar word or phrase has undoubtedly much to do with the view that is
taken of the matter. It may be interesting, for instance, to look for a
moment at our ideas of the identity of matter and the extent to which they
are influenced by the accepted theory of its constitution.

Very few persons would hesitate to admit that the matter that now
constitutes the universe is identical in amount with that which
constituted it one million years ago, and that any given portion of that
matter is identical with an equal amount of matter that then existed,
although the situations of the parts of that portion might be and probably
were widely different in the two classes. To assert this is of course a
very different thing from asserting that the identity of the two portions
or any parts thereof could have been practically shown by following them
during all their changes of location or state. That cannot be done even in
the case of some simple changes that are effected in a fraction of a
second. For instance, if water from the pail A be mixed with water from
the pail B there is no possible way of telling which pail any given
portion of the mixture came from or in what proportions, yet it is certain
that such portion is identical with a portion of equal mass that recently
occupied part of one or both pails.

How far our certainty as to this is influenced by our ideas regarding the
ultimate constitution of the water is worthy of investigation. All who
accept the molecular theory, for instance, will regard our inability to
trace the elements of a mixture as due to purely physical limitations. A
set of Maxwell's "demons" if bidden to watch the molecules of the water in
pail A, one demon being assigned to each molecule, would be able to tell
us at any time the precise proportions of any given part of the mixture.
But if we should not accept the molecular theory and believe for instance,
that water is a continuum, absolutely homogeneous, no matter how small
portions of it be selected, then our demons would be as powerless as we
ourselves now are to trace the constituents in the mixture.

We are now in a position to ask the question: Is the matter in a mixture
of two continua identical with that of its constituents? The identity
certainly seems of a different kind or degree from that which obtains in
the first case, for there is no part, however small, that was derived from
one pail alone. The mixture is something more than a mere juxtaposition of
elements each of which has retained its identity; it is now of suck nature
that no part of it is identical with any part of A alone or of B alone,
nor of A+B, where the sign + denotes simple juxtaposition. It is
identical, to be sure, with a perfect mixture of certain parts of A and B,
but this is simply saying that it is identical with what it is now, that
is, with itself, not with something that went before.

Probably no one now believes that water or any other kind of matter is a
continuum, but the bearing of what has been said may be seen when we
remember that this is precisely the present stage of our belief regarding

No one, so far as I know, has ventured to suggest what may be termed a
molecular theory of energy, a somewhat remarkable fact when we consider
the control now exercised over all thought in physics by molecular
theories of matter. While we now believe, for instance, that a material
body, say a crystal, can by no possibility increase continuously in mass,
but must do so step by step, the minimum mass of matter that can be added
being the molecule, we believe on the contrary that the energy possessed
by the same body can and may increase with absolutely perfect continuity,
being hampered by no such restriction.

It is not the purpose of this paper to discuss whether we have grounds for
belief that there is such a thing as a minimum quantity, or atom, of
energy, that does not separate into smaller parts, no matter what changes
it undergoes. Suffice it to say that there appears to be no _a priori_
absurdity in such an idea. At first sight both matter and energy appear
non-molecular in structure. But we have been forced to look upon the
gradual growth of a crystal as a step-by-step process, and we may some
day, by equally cogent considerations, be forced to regard the gradual
increase of energy of an accelerating body as also a step-by-step process,
although the discontinuity is as invisible to the eye in the latter case
as in the former.

Without following this out any farther, however, the point may be here
emphasized that it is hardly possible for one who, like the majority of
physicists, regards matter as molecular and energy as a continuum, to hold
the same ideas regarding the identity of the two. Efforts to show that
definite portions of energy, like definite portions of matter, retain
their identity have hitherto been made chiefly on the lines of a
demonstration that energy travels by definite and continuous paths in
space just as matter does. This is very well, but it would appear to be
necessary to supplement it with evidence to show that the lines
representing these paths do not form at their intersections continuous
blurs that not only forbid any practical attempt at identification on
emergence, but make it doubtful whether we can in any true sense call the
issuing path identical with the entering one. Otherwise the identity of
energy can be admitted to be only that kind of identity that could be
preserved by matter if its molecular structure did not exist. One who can
admit that this sort of identity is the same sort that can be preserved by
molecular matter may be able to hold the identity of energy in the present
state of the evidence, but the present attitude of physicists would seem
to show that, whether they realize the connection of the two subjects or
not, they cannot take this view. In other words, modern views of the
identity of matter seem closely connected with modern views of its
structure, and the same connection will doubtless hold good for energy.

Regarding the probable success of an attempt to prove that energy has a
"structure" analogous to the molecular structure of matter, any prediction
would doubtless be rash just now. The writer has been unable, up to the
present time, to disprove the proposition, but the subject is one of
corresponding importance to that of the whole molecular theory of matter
and should not be entered upon lightly.

       *       *       *       *       *

The writer freely acknowledges at present that the illustrations in the
foregoing are badly chosen and some of the statements are too strong, but
it still represents essentially his ideas on the subject. No reputable
scientific journal would undertake to publish it. The paper was then sent
to Prof. J. Willard Gibbs of Yale, and elicited the following letter from

    "NEW HAVEN, JUNE 2, 1897.


    "I regret that I have allowed your letter to lie so long
    unanswered. It was in fact not very easy to answer, and when one
    lays a letter aside to answer, the weeks slip away very fast.

    "I do not think that you state the matter quite right in regard to
    the mixture of fluids if they were continuous. The mixing of water
    as I regard it would be like this, if it were continuous and not
    molecular. Suppose you should take strips of white and red glass
    and heat them until soft and twist them together. Keep on drawing
    them out and doubling them up and twisting them together. It would
    soon require a microscope to distinguish the red and white glass,
    which would be drawn out into thinner and thinner filaments if the
    matter were continuous. But it would be always only a matter of
    optical power to distinguish perfectly the portion of red and
    white glass. The stirring up of water from two pails would not
    really mix them but only entangle filaments from the pails.

    "To come to the case of energy. All our ideas concerning energy
    seem to require that it is capable of gradual increase. Thus the
    energy due to velocity can increase continuously if velocity can.
    Since the energy is as the square of the velocity, if the velocity
    can only increase discontinuously by equal increments, the energy
    of the body will increase by unequal increments in such a way as
    to make the exchange of energy between bodies a very awkward
    matter to adjust.

    "But apart from the question of the increase of energy by
    discontinuous increments, the question of relative and absolute
    motion makes it very hard to give a particular position to energy,
    since the 'energy' we speak of in any case is not one quantity but
    may be interpreted in a great many ways. Take the important case
    of two equal elastic balls. One, moving, strikes the other at
    rest, we say, and gives it nearly all its energy. But we have no
    right to call one ball at rest and we can not say (as anything
    absolute) which of the balls has lost and which has gained energy.
    If there is such a thing as absolute energy of motion it is
    something entirely unknowable to us. Take the solar system,
    supposed isolated. We may take as our origin of coordinates the
    center of gravity of the system. Or we may take an origin with
    respect to which the center of gravity of the solar system has any
    (constant) velocity. The kinetic energy of the earth, for example,
    may have any value whatever, and the principle of the conservation
    of energy will hold in any case for the whole solar system. But
    the shifting of energy from one planet to another will take place
    entirely differently when we estimate the energies with reference
    to different origins.

    "It does not seem to me that your ideas fit in with what we know
    about nature. If you ask my advice, I should not advise you to try
    to publish them.

    "At best you would be entering into a discussion (perhaps not in
    bad company) in which words would play a greater part than precise

    "This is the way I feel about it.

    "I remain,
    "Yours faithfully,
    "J.W. GIBBS."

Professor Gibbs's criticism of the illustration of water-mixture is
evidently just. Another might well have been used where the things mixed
are not material--for instance, the value of money deposited in a bank. If
A and B each deposits $100 to C's credit and C then draws $10, there is
evidently no way of determining what part of it came from A and what from
B. The structure of "value", in other words, is perfectly continuous.
Professor Gibbs's objections to an "atomic" theory of the structure of
energy are most interesting. The difficulties that it involves are not
overstated. In 1897 they made it unnecessary, but since that time
considerations have been brought forward, and generally recognized, which
may make it necessary to brave those difficulties.

Planck's theory was suggested by the apparent necessity of modifying the
generally accepted theory of statistical equilibrium involving the so
called "law of equipartition," enunciated first for gases and extended to
liquids and solids.

In the first place the kinetic theory fixes the number of degrees of
freedom of each gaseous molecule, which would be three for argon, for
instance, and five for oxygen. But what prevents either from having the
six degrees to which ordinary mechanical theory entitles it? Furthermore,
the oxygen spectrum has more than five lines, and the molecule must
therefore vibrate in more than five modes. "Why," asks Poincaré, "do
certain degrees of freedom appear to play no part here; why are they, so
to speak, 'ankylosed'?" Again, suppose a system in statistical
equilibrium, each part gaining on an average, in a short time, exactly as
much as it loses. If the system consists of molecules and ether, as the
former have a finite number of degrees of freedom and the latter an
infinite number, the unmodified law of equipartition would require that
the ether should finally appropriate all energy, leaving none of it to the
matter. To escape this conclusion we have Rayleigh's law that the radiated
energy, for a given wave length, is proportional to the absolute
temperature, and for a given temperature is in inverse ratio to the fourth
power of the wave-length. This is found by Planck to be experimentally
unverifiable, the radiation being less for small wave-lengths and low
temperatures, than the law requires.

Still again, the specific heats of solids, instead of being sensibly
constant at all temperatures, are found to diminish rapidly in the low
temperatures now available in liquid air or hydrogen and apparently tend
to disappear at absolute zero. "All takes place," says Poincaré, "as if
these molecules lost some of their degrees of freedom in cooling--as if
some of their articulations froze at the limit."

Planck attempts to explain these facts by introducing the idea of what he
calls "quanta" of energy. To quote from Poincaré's paper:

"How should we picture a radiating body? We know that a Hertz resonator
sends into the ether Hertzian waves that are identical with luminous
waves; an incandescent body must then be regarded as containing a very
great number of tiny resonators. When the body is heated, these resonators
acquire energy, start vibrating and consequently radiate.

"Planck's hypothesis consists in the supposition that each of these
resonators can acquire or lose energy only by abrupt jumps, in such a way
that the store of energy that it possesses must always be a multiple of a
constant quantity, which he calls a 'quantum'--must be composed of a whole
number of quanta. This indivisible unit, this quantum, is not the same for
all resonators; it is in inverse ratio to the wave-length, so that
resonators of short period can take in energy only in large pieces, while
those of long period can absorb or give it out by small bits. What is the
result? Great effort is necessary to agitate a short-period resonator,
since this requires at least a quantity of energy equal to its quantum,
which is great. The chances are, then, that these resonators will keep
quiet, especially if the temperature is low, and it is for this reason
that there is relatively little short-wave radiation in 'black
radiation'... The diminution of specific-heats is explained similarly:
When the temperature falls, a large number of vibrators fall below their
quantum and cease to vibrate, so that the total energy diminishes faster
than the old theories require."

Here we have the germs of an atomic theory of energy. As Poincaré now
points out, the trouble is that the quanta are not constant. In his study
of the matter he notes that the work of Prof. Wilhelm Wien, of Würzburg,
leads by theory to precisely the conclusion announced by Planck that if we
are to hold to the accepted ideas of statistical equilibrium the energy
can vary only by quanta inversely proportional to wave-length. The
mechanical property of the resonators imagined by Planck is therefore
precisely that which Wien's theory requires. If we are to suppose atoms of
energy, therefore, they must be variable atoms. There are other objections
which need not be touched upon here, the whole theory being in a very
early stage. To quote Poincaré again:

"The new conception is seductive from a certain standpoint: for some time
the tendency has been toward atomism. Matter appears to us as formed of
indivisible atoms; electricity is no longer continuous, not infinitely
divisible. It resolves itself into equally-charged electrons; we have also
now the magneton, or atom of magnetism. From this point of view the quanta
appear as _atoms_ of _energy_. Unfortunately the comparison may not be
pushed to the limit; a hydrogen atom is really invariable.... The
electrons preserve their individuality amid the most diverse vicissitudes,
is it the same with the atoms of energy? We have, for instance, three
quanta of energy in a resonator whose wave-length is 3; this passes to a
second resonator whose wave-length is 5; it now represents not 3 but 5
quanta, since the quantum of the new resonator is smaller and in the
transformation the number of atoms and the size of each has changed."

If, however, we replace the atom of energy by an "atom of action," these
atoms may be considered equal and invariable. The whole study of
thermodynamic equilibrium has been reduced by the French mathematical
school to a question of probability. "The probability of a continuous
variable is obtained by considering elementary independent domains of
equal probability.... In the classic dynamics we use, to find these
elementary domains, the theorem that two physical states of which one is
the necessary effect of the other are equally probable. In a physical
system if we represent by _q_ one of the generalized coordinates and by
_p_ the corresponding momentum, according to Liouville's theorem the
domain [double integral]_dpdq_, considered at given instant, is invariable
with respect to the time if _p_ and _q_ vary according to Hamilton's
equations. On the other hand _p_ and _q_ may, at a given instant take all
possible values, independent of each other. Whence it follows that the
elementary domain is infinitely small, of the magnitude _dpdq_.... The new
hypothesis has for its object to restrict the variability of _p_ and _q_
so that these variables will only change by jumps.... Thus the number of
elementary domains of probability is reduced and the extent of each is
augmented. The hypothesis of quanta of action consists in supposing that
these domains are all equal and no longer infinitely small but finite and
that for each [double integral]_dpdq_ equals _h_, _h_ being a constant."

Put a little less mathematically, this simply means that as energy equals
action multiplied by frequency, the fact that the quantum of energy is
proportional to the frequency (or inversely to the wave-length as stated
above) is due simply to the fact that the quantum of action is constant--a
real atom. The general effect on our physical conceptions, however, is the
same: we have a purely discontinuous universe--discontinuous not only in
matter but in energy and the flow of time. M. Poincaré thus puts it: "A
physical system is susceptible only of a finite number of distinct states;
it leaps from one of these to the next without passing through any
continuous series of intermediate states."

He notes later:

"The universe, then, leaps suddenly from one state to another; but in the
interval it must remain immovable, and the divers instants during which it
keeps in the same state can no longer be discriminated from one another;
we thus reach a conception of the discontinuous variation of time--the
atom of _time_."

I quote in conclusion, Poincaré's final remarks:

"The present state of the question is thus as follows: the old theories,
which hitherto seemed to account for all the known phenomena, have met
with an unexpected obstacle. Seemingly a modification becomes necessary. A
hypothesis has presented itself to M. Planck's mind, but so strange a one
that one is tempted to seek every means of escaping it; these means,
however, have been sought vainly. The new theory, however, raises a host
of difficulties, many of which are real and not simply illusions due to
the indolence of our minds, unwilling to change their modes of thought....

"Is discontinuity to reign through out the physical universe, and is its
triumph definitive? Or rather shall we find that it is but apparent and
hides a series of continuous processes?... To try to give an opinion just
now on these questions would only be to waste ink."

It only remains to call attention again to the fact that this conception
of the discontinuity of energy, the acceptance of which Poincaré says
would be "the most profound revolution that natural philosophy has
undergone since Newton" was suggested by the present writer fifteen years
ago. Its reception and serious consideration by one of the first
mathematical physicists of the world seems a sufficient justification of
its suggestion then as a legitimate scientific hypothesis.


Writing is a device for the storage of ideas--the only device for this
purpose prior to the invention of the phonograph, and not now likely to be
generally superseded. A book consists of stored ideas; sometimes it is
like a box, from which the contents must be lifted slowly and with more or
less toil; sometimes like a storage battery where one only has to make the
right kind of contact to get a discharge. At any rate, if we want people
to use books or to use them more, or to use them better, or to use a
different kind from that which they now use, we must lose sight for a
moment of the material part of the book, which is only the box or the lead
and acid of the storage battery, and fix our attention on the stored
ideas, which are what everybody wants--everybody, that is, except those
who collect books as curiosities. The subject of this lecture is thus only
library advertising, about which we have heard a good deal of late, but we
shall try to confine its applications to this inner or ideal substance
which it is our special business as librarians to purvey. And first, in
considering the matter, it may be worth while to say a word about
advertising in general. Practically an advertisement is an announcement by
somebody who has something to distribute. Announcements of this kind may
be classified, it seems to me, as economic, uneconomic and illegitimate.

The most elementary form is that of the person who tells you where you can
get something that you want--a simple statement that someone is a barber
or an inn-keeper, or gives music lessons, or has shoes for sale. This may
be accompanied by an effort to show that the goods offered are of
specially good quality or have some feature that makes them particularly
desirable, either to consumers in general or to those of a certain class.
This is all surely economic, so long as nothing but the truth is told.
Next we have an effort not only to supply existing wants and to direct
them into some particular channel, but to create a new field, to make
people realize a lack previously not felt; in other words to make people
want something that they need. This may be done simply by exhibiting or
describing the article or it may require long and skillful presentation of
the matter. All this is still economic. But it requires only a step to
carry us across the line. Next the enthusiastic advertiser strives to make
someone want that which he does not need. As may be seen, the line here is
difficult to determine, but this sort of advertising is surely not
economic. So long as the thing not needed is not really injurious,
however, the advertising cannot be called illegitimate. It is simply
uneconomic. The world would be better off without it, but we may look for
its abolition only to the increase of good judgment and intelligence among
consumers. When an attempt however, is made to cause a man to want
something that is really injurious, then the act becomes illegitimate and
should be prevented. Another class of illegitimate advertising is that
which would be perfectly allowable if it were truthful and becomes
objectionable only because its representations are false. It may be
ostensibly of any of the types noted above.

As we have already noted, the material objects distributed by the
librarian are valued not for their physical characteristics but for a
different reason altogether, the fact that they contain stored ideas.
Ideas which, according to some, are merely the relative positions of
material particles in the brain, and which are indisputably accompanied
and conditioned by such positions, here subsist in the form of peculiar
and visible arrangements of particles of printer's ink upon paper, which
are capable under certain conditions of generating in the human brain
ideas precisely similar to those that gave them birth. And although the
book cannot think for itself, but must merely preserve the idea intrusted
to it, without change, it is vastly superior in stability to the brain
that gave it birth, so that thousands of years after that brain has
mouldered into dust it is capable of reproducing the original ideas in a
second brain where they may germinate and bear fruit. How familiar all
this is, and yet how perennially wonderful! The miracle of it is
sufficient excuse for this digression.

Now books, beside this modern form of distribution by loan, are widely
distributed commercially both by loan and by sale, and especially in the
latter form advertisement is now very extensively used in connection with
the distribution. In fact we have all the different types specified
above--economic, uneconomic and illegitimate, both through
misrepresentation and the harmful character of the subject matter. The
reason for all illegitimate forms of advertising is of course not a desire
to misrepresent or to do harm per se, but to make money, the profit to the
distributor being proportioned to the amount of distribution done and not
at all dependent on its economic value. Distribution by public officers is
of course not open to this objection, nor are the distributors subject to
temptation, since their compensation does not depend on the amount of
distribution. If they are capable and interested, furthermore, they are
particularly desirous to increase the economic value of the work that they
are doing. Since this is so and since the danger of uneconomic or harmful
forms of advertising is thus reduced to a minimum, there would seem to be
special reason why the economic forms should be employed very freely. But
the fact is that they have been used sparingly, and by some librarians
shunned altogether.

Let us see what library advertising of the economic types may mean. In the
first place it means telling those who want books where they may get them.
This simple task is rarely performed completely or satisfactorily. It is
astonishing how many inhabitants of a large town do not even know where
the public library is. Everyone realizes this who has ever tried to find a
public library in a strange place. I once asked repeatedly of passers-by
in a crowded city street a block distant from a library (in this case not
architecturally conspicuous) before finding one who knew its whereabouts;
in another city I inquired in vain of a conductor who passed the building
every few hours in his car. In the latter case the library was a beautiful
structure calculated to move the curiosity of a less stolid citizen. In
New York inquiry would probably cause you to reach the nearest branch
library, anything more remote than that being beyond the local
intelligence. Sometimes I think we had better drop all our far-reaching
plans for civic betterment and devote our time for a few years to causing
citizens, lettered and unlettered alike to memorize some such simple
formula as this: "There is a Public Library. It is on Blank street. We may
borrow books there, free."

You will notice that I have inserted in this formula one item of
information that pertains to use, not location. For of those who know of
the existence and location of the Public Library there are many whose
ideas of its contents and their uses, and of the conditions and value of
such uses, are limited and crude. The advertising that succeeds in
bettering this state of things is surely doing an economic service. All
these things the self-respecting citizen should know. But beyond and above
all this there is the final economic service of advertising--the causing a
man to want that which he needs but does not yet desire. Every man, woman
and child in every town and village needs books in some shape, degree,
form or substance. And yet the proportion of those who desire them is yet
outrageously small, though encouragingly on the increase. Here no
memorizing of a formula, even could we compass it, could suffice. This
kind of advertising means the realization of something lacking in a life.
Is the awakening of such a realization too much for us? Are we to stand by
and see our neighbors all about us awakening to the undoubted fact that
they need telephones in their houses, and electric runabouts, and
mechanical fans in hot weather, and pianolas, and new kinds of breakfast
food, while we despair of awakening them to their needs of books--quite as
undoubted? Are we to admit that personal gain, which was the victorious
motive that spurred on the commercial advertisers in these and countless
other instances, is to be counted more mighty than the desire to do a
service to our fellowmen and to fulfill the duties of our positions--which
should spur us on?

I am not foolish enough to suppose that by placarding the fences with the
words "Books! Books!" as the patent medicine man does with "Curoline!
Curoline!" we shall make any progress. The patent medicine man is right;
he wants to excite curiosity and familiarize the public with the name of
his nostrum. They all know what a book is--and alas the name is not even
unknown and mysterious--would that it were! It calls up in many minds
associations which, if we are to be successful we must combat, overthrow,
and replace by others. To many--sad it is to say it--a book is an
abhorrent thing; to more still, it is a thing of absolute indifference. To
some a book is merely a collection of things, having no ascertainable
relationships, that one is required to memorize; to others it is a
collection of statements, difficult to understand, out of which the
meaning must be extracted by hard study; to very few indeed does the book
appear to be what it really is--a message from another mind. People will
go to a seance and listen with thrills to the silliest stuff purporting to
proceed from Plato or Daniel Webster or Abraham Lincoln, when in the
Public Library, a few blocks away are important and authentic messages
from those same persons, to which they have never given heed. Such a
message derives interest and significance from circumstances outside
itself. Very few books create their own atmosphere unaided. They
presuppose a system of abilities, opinions, prejudices, likes and
dislikes, intellectual connections and what not, that is little less than
appalling, if we try to follow it up. Dislike of books or indifference
toward them is often simply the result of a lack of these things or of
some component part of them. We must supply what is lacking if we are to
arouse a desire for books in those who do not yet possess it. I say that
such a labor is difficult enough to interest him whose pleasure it is to
essay hard tasks; it is noble enough to attract him who loves his
fellow-man; success in it is rare enough and glorious enough to stimulate
him who likes to succeed where others have failed. Advertising may be good
or bad, noble or ignoble, right or wrong, according to what is advertised
and our methods of advertising it. He who would scorn to announce the
curative powers of bottled spring-water and pink aniline dye; he who
regards it as a commonplace task to urge upon the spendthrift public the
purchase of unnecessary gloves and neckties, may well feel a thrill of
satisfaction and of anticipation in the task of advertising ideas and of
persuading the unheeding citizen to appropriate what he has been
accustomed to view with indifference.

To get at the root of the matter, let us inquire why it is that so many
persons do not care for books. We may divide them, I think, into two
classes--those who do not care, or appear not to care for ideas at all,
whether stored in books or not; and those who do care for ideas but who
either do not easily get them out of storage or do not realize that they
can be and are stored in books. Absolute carelessness of ideas is, it
seems to me, rather apparent than real. It exists only in the idiot. There
are those to be sure that care about a very limited range of ideas; but
about some ideas they always care.

We must, in our advertisement of ideas, bear this in mind--the necessity
of offering to each that which he considers it worth his while to take. If
I were asked what is the most fundamentally interesting subject to all
classes, I should unhesitatingly reply "philosophy." Not, perhaps, the
philosophy of the schools, but the individual philosophy that every man
and woman has, and that is precisely alike in no two of us. I have heard a
tiny boy, looking up suddenly from his play, ask "Why do we live?" This
and its correlative "Why do we die?" Whence come we and whither do we go?
What is the universe and what are our relations to it--these questions in
some form have occurred to everyone who thinks at all. They are discussed
around the stove at the corner grocery, in the logging camp, on the ranch,
in clubs and at boarding-house tables. Sometimes they take a theological
turn--free will, the origin and purpose of evil, and so on. I do not
purpose to give here a catalogue of the things in which an ordinary man is
interested, and I have said this only to remind you that his interest may
be vivid even in connection with subjects usually considered abstruse.
This interest in ideas we may call the library's raw material; anything
that tends to create it, to broaden it, to extend it to new fields and to
direct it into paths that are worth while is making it possible for the
library to do better and wider work--is helping on its campaign of
publicity. This establishes a web of connecting fibers between the library
and all human activity. The man who is getting interested in his work,
debaters at a labor union, students at school and college, the worker for
civic reform, the poetic dreamer--all are creating a demand for ideas that
makes it easier for the library to advertise them. Those who object to
some of the outside work done by modern libraries should try to look at
the whole matter from this standpoint. The library is taking its place as
a public utility with other public utilities. Its relations with them are
becoming more evident; the ties between them are growing stronger. As in
all cases of such growth it is becoming increasingly difficult to identify
the boundaries between them, so fast and so thoroughly do the activities
of each reach over these lines and interpenetrate those of the others. And
unless there is actual wasteful duplication of work, we need not bother
about our respective spheres. These activities are all human; they are
mutually interesting and valuable. A library need be afraid of doing
nothing that makes for the spread of interest in ideas, so long as it is
not neglecting its own particular work of the collection, preservation and
distribution of ideas as stored in books, and is not duplicating other's
work wastefully.

When we observe those who are already interested in ideas, however, we
find that not all are interested in them as they are stored up in books.
Some of these cannot read; their number is small with us and growing
smaller; we may safely leave the schools to deal with them. Others can
read, but they do not easily apprehend ideas through print. Some of these
must read aloud so that they may get the sound of the words, before these
really mean anything to them. These persons need practice in reading. They
get it now largely through the newspapers, but their number is still
large. A person in this condition may be intellectually somewhat advanced.
He may be able to discuss single-tax with some acumen, for instance. It is
a mistake to suppose that because a person understands a subject or likes
a thing and is able to talk well about it, he will enjoy and appreciate a
book on that subject or thing. It may be as difficult for him to get at
the meat of it as if it were a half-understood foreign tongue. You who
know enough French to buy a pair of gloves or sufficient German to inquire
the way to the station, may tackle a novel in the original and realize at
once the hazy degree of such a persons' apprehension. He may stick to it
and become an easy reader, but on the other hand your well-meant publicity
efforts may place in his hands a book that will simply discourage and
ultimately repel him, sending him to join the army of those to whom no
books appeal.

Next we find those who understand how to read and to read with ease, but
to whom books--at any rate certain classes of books--are not interesting.
Now interest in a subject may be so great that one will wade through the
driest literature about it, but such interest belongs to the few--not to
the many. I have come to the conclusion that more readers have had their
interest killed or lessened by books than have had it aroused or
stimulated. This is a proportion that it is our business as librarians to
reverse. More of this unfortunate and heart-breaking, interest-killing
work than I like to think of goes on in school. Not necessarily; for the
name of those is legion who have had their eyes opened to the beauties of
literature by good teachers. This makes it all the more maddening when we
think how many poor teachers, or good teachers with mistaken methods, or
indifferent teachers, have succeeded in associating with books in the
minds of their pupils simply burdensome tasks--the gloom and heaviness of
life rather than its joy and lightness. Such boys and girls will no more
touch a book after leaving school than you or I would touch a scorpion
after one had stung us.

Perhaps it is useless to try to change this; possibly it is none of our
business, though we have already seen that there are reasons to the
contrary. But we can better matters, and we are daily bettering them, by
our work with children. If a child has once learned to love books and to
associate them powerfully with something else than a burdensome task, then
the labors of the unskillful teachers will create no dislike of the book
but only of the teacher and his methods; while those of the good teacher
will be a thousand times more fruitful than otherwise.

So much for the ways in which interesting books are sometimes made
uninteresting. Now for the books that are uninteresting _per se_--and how
many there are! When a man has something to distribute commercially for
personal gain, the thing that he tries above all to do is to interest his
public--to make them want what he has to sell. His success or failure in
doing this, means the success or failure of his whole enterprise. He does
not decide what kind of an entertainment his clients ought to attend and
then try to make them go to it, or what kind of neckties they ought to
wear and then try to make them wear them. Of ten promoters, if nine
proceeded on this principle and one on the plan of offering something
attractive and interesting, who would succeed? It is one of the marvels of
all time that this never seems to have occurred to writers of books. We
are almost forced to conclude that they do not care whether their volumes
are read or not. In only one class of books, as a rule, do the writers
endeavor to interest the reader first and foremost; you all know that I
refer to fiction. What is the result? The writers of fiction are the ones
read by the public. More fiction is read, as you very well know, than all
the other classes of literature put together. The library that is able to
show a fiction percentage of 60, points to it with pride, while there are
plenty with percentages between 70 and 80. Now this is all to the credit
of the fiction writers. I refuse to believe that their readers are any
more fundamentally interested in the subjects of which they treat than in
others. They simply follow the line of least resistance. They want
something interesting to read and they know from experience where to go
for it. Of course this brings on abuses. Writers use illegitimate methods
to arouse interest--appeals perhaps, to unworthy instincts. We need not
discuss that here, but simply focus our attention on the fact that writers
of fiction always try to be interesting because they must; while writers
of history, travel, biography and philosophy do not usually try, because
they think it unnecessary. This is simply a survival. It used to be true
that readers of these subjects read them because of their great antecedent
interest in them--an interest so great that interesting methods of
presentation became unnecessary. No one cared about the masses, still less
about what they might or might not read. Things are changed now; we are
trying to advertise stored ideas to persons unfamiliar with them and we
are suddenly awakening to the fact that our stock is not all that it
should be. We need history, science and travel fascinatingly presented--at
least as interestingly as the fiction-writer presents his subjects. This
is by no means impossible, because it has been done, in a few instances.
We are by no means in the position of the Irishman who didn't know whether
or not he could play the piano, because he had never tried. Some of our
authors have tried--and succeeded. No one after William James can say that
philosophy cannot be made interesting to the ordinary reader. Tyndall
showed us long ago that physics could interest the unlearned, and there
are similarly interesting writers on history and travel--more perhaps in
these two classes than any other. But it remains true that the vast
majority of non-fiction books do not attract, and were not written with
the aim of attracting, the ordinary reader such as the libraries are now
trying to reach. The result is that the fiction writers are usurping the
functions of these uninteresting scribes and are putting history, science,
economics, biology, medicine--all sorts of subjects, into fictional
form--a sufficient answer to any who may think that the subjects
themselves, as distinguished from the manner in which they are presented,
are calculated to repel the ordinary reader. Fiction is thus becoming, if
it has not already become, the sole form of literary expression, so far as
the ordinary reader is concerned. This is interesting; it justifies the
large stock of fiction in public libraries and the large circulation of
that stock. It does not follow that it is commendable or desirable. For
one thing it places truth and falsehood precisely on the same plane. The
science or the economics in a good novel may be bad and that in a poor
novel may be good. Then again, it dilutes the interesting matter with
triviality. It is right that those who want to know how and when and under
what circumstances Edwin and Angelina concluded to get married should have
an opportunity of doing so, but it is obviously unfair that the man who
likes the political discussions put into the mouth of Edwin's uncle, or
the clever descriptions of country-life incident to the courtship, should
be burdened with information of this sort, in which he has little

To those who are interested in the increase of non-fiction percentages I
would therefore say: devise some means of working upon the authors. These
gentry are yet ignorant of the existence of a special library public. Some
day they will wake up, and then fiction will be relieved from the burden
that oppresses it at present--of carrying most of the interesting
philosophy, religion, history and social science, in addition to doing its
own proper work.

Meanwhile the librarian, who is interested in advertising ideas, must do
what he can with his material. There is still a saving remnant of
interesting non-fiction, and there is a goodly body of readers whose
antecedent interest in certain subjects is great enough to attract them to
almost any book on those subjects. I have purposely avoided the discussion
here of the details of library publicity, which has been well done
elsewhere; but I cannot refrain from expressing my opinion that the
ordinary work of the library and its stock of books if properly displayed,
are more effective than any other means that can be used for the purpose.
From a series of articles entitled "How to Start Libraries in Small Towns"
by A.M. Pendleton, I quote the following, which appears in The Library
Journal for May 13, 1877:

"Plant it [the library] among the people, where its presence will be seen
and felt,... Other things being equal, it is better to have it upon the
first floor, so that passers-by will see its goodly array of books and be
tempted to inspect them."

Excellent advice; we might take it if we had not built our libraries as
far away from the street as possible and lifted them up on as high a
pedestal as our money would buy. Who, passing by a modern library
building, branch or central, can by any possibility see through the
windows enough of the interior to tell whether it is a library rather than
a postoffice, a bank, or an office?

Before moving into its new home the St. Louis Public Library occupied
temporarily a business building having a row of six large plate-glass
windows on one side, directly on the sidewalk, enabling passers-by to see
clearly all that went on in the adult lending-delivery room. The effect on
the circulation was noteworthy. During the last months of our occupancy we
went further and utilized each of the windows for a book display. This was
in charge of a special committee of the staff, and its results were beyond
expectation. In one window we had a shelfful of current books, open to
attractive pictures, with a sign reminding wayfarers that they might be
taken out by cardholders and that cards were free. In another we had
standard works, without pictures, but open at attractive pages. In another
we had children's books; in another, open reference or art books in a
dust-proof case--and so on. Each of these windows was seldom without its
contingent of gazers, and the direct effect on library circulation was
noticed by all. At the end of the year we moved into our great
million-and-a-half-dollar building; and beautiful as it is--satisfactory
as are its arrangements--we have had--alas--to give up our show windows.
We can, it is true, have show cases in the great entrance hall, but we
want to attract outsiders, not insiders. Some of our enthusiastic staff
want to build permanent show cases on the sidewalk. What we may possibly
do is to rent real show windows opposite. What we do not desire, is to
abandon our publicity plan altogether. But when, oh when, shall we have
libraries (branches at any rate, if our main buildings must be monumental)
that will throw themselves open to the public eye, luring in the wayfarer
to the joys of reading, as the commercial window does to the delights of
gumdrops or neckties?

One of the greatest steps ever taken toward the advertisement of ideas was
the adoption, on a large scale, of the open shelf. This throws the books
of a library, or many of them, open to public inspection and handling; it
encourages "browsing"--the somewhat aimless rambling about and dipping
here and there into a volume.

If we are to present ideas to our would-be readers in great variety,
hoping that among them there may be toothsome bait, surely there could be
no better way than this. The only trouble is that it appeals only to those
who are already sufficiently interested in stored ideas to enter the

We must remember, however, that by our method of sending out books for
home use we are making a great open-shelf of the whole city. While the
number of volumes in any one place may be small, the books are constantly
changing so that the non-reader has a good chance of seeing in his
friend's house something that may attract him. That this may affect the
use of the library it is essential that he who sees a library book on the
table or in the hands of a fellow passenger on a car must be able to
recognize its source at once, so that, if attracted, he may be led thither
by the suggestion. Nothing is better for this purpose than the library
seal, placed on the book where all may see it; and that all may recognize
it, it should also be used wherever possible, in connection with the
library--on letter heads, posters, lists, pockets and cards, so that the
public association between its display and the work of the library shall
become strong.

This making the whole outstanding supply of circulating books an agency in
our publicity scheme for ideas is evidently more effective as the books
better fit and satisfy their users; for in that case we have an unpaid
agent with each book. The adaptation of book to user helps our
advertisement of ideas, and that in turn aids us in adapting book to user.
When a dynamo starts, the newly arisen current makes the field stronger
and that in turn increases the current. Only here we must have just a
little residual magnetism in the field magnet to start the whole process.
In the library's work the residual magnetism is represented by the latent
interest in ideas that is present in every community. And I can do no
better, in closing, than to emphasize the fact that everything that
advertises ideas, even if totally unconnected with their recorded form in
books, helps the library and pushes forward its work.

Itself a product of the great extension of intellectual activity to
classes in which it was formerly bounded by narrow limits, the library is
bound to widen those limits wherever they can be stretched, and every
movement of them reacts to help it. Surely advertisement on its part is an
evangel--a bearing of good intellectual tidings into the darkness. We are
spiritualistic mediums in the best sense--the bearers of authentic
messages from all the good and great of past or present time; only with
us, no turning on of the light, no publicity however glaring, will break
the spell or do otherwise than aid, for whether we succeed or fail,
whether we live or die, those messages, recorded as they are in books,
will stand while humanity remains.


    [7] Read before the National Education Association.

The center of a geometrical figure is important, not for its size and
content, but for its position--not for what it is in itself, but for its
relations to the other elements of the figure. And words used with derived
meanings are used best when their original significations are kept in
mind. The business center of a city does not contain all of that city's
commercial activity; when we speak of the church as a religious center, we
do not mean that there is to be no religious activity in the home or in
other walks of life; as for the center of population of a large and
populous country, it may be out in the prairie where neither man nor his
dwellings are to be seen. All these centers are what they are because of
certain relationships. It is so with a social center. But social
relationships cover a wide field. The relationships of business, of
religion, even of mere co-existence, are all social. May we have a center
for so wide a range of activities? Even the narrower relations of business
or of religion tend to form subsidiary groups and to multiply subsidiary
centers. In a large city we may have not only a general business center
but centers of the real estate business, of the hardware or textile
trades, and so on. Our religious affiliations condense into denominational

In the district of a large city where newly arrived foreign immigrants
gather, you will be shown the group of blocks where the Poles or the
Hungarians have segregated themselves from the rest, and even within
these, the houses where dwell families from a particular province or even
from one definite city or village. Man is social but he is socially
clannish, and the broadest is not so much he who refuses to recognize
these clan or caste relationships as he who enters into the largest number
of them--he who keeps in touch with his childhood home, has a wide
acquaintance among those of his own religious faith and of his chosen
business or profession, keeps up his old college friendships, is
interested in collecting coins or paintings and knows all the other
collectors, is active in civic and charitable societies, takes an interest
in education and educators, and so on. The social democracy that should
succeed in abolishing all these groups or leveling them--that should
recognize no relationships but the broader ones that underly all human
effort and feeling--the touches of nature that make the whole world
kin--would be barren indeed.

We cannot spare these fundamentals; we could not get rid of them if we
would; but civilization advances by building upon them, and to do away
with these additions would be like destroying a city to get at its
foundation, in the vain hope of securing some wide-reaching result in
economics or aesthetics. Occupying a foremost place among these groupings
is the large division embracing our educational activities. And these are
social not only in the broad sense, but also in the narrower. The
intercourse of student with student in the school and even of reader with
reader in the library, especially in such departments as the children's
room, is so obviously that of society that we need dwell on it no further.

This intercourse, while a necessary incident of education in the mass, is
only an incident. It is sufficiently obtrusive, however, to make it
evident that any use of school or library building for social purposes is
fit and proper. There is absolutely nothing new nor strange about such
use. In places that cannot afford separate buildings for these purposes,
the same edifice has often served for church, schoolhouse, public library,
and as assembly room for political meetings, amateur theatricals, and
juvenile debating societies. The propriety of all this has never been
questioned and it is difficult to see why it should not be as proper in a
town of 500,000 inhabitants as in one of 500. The incidence of the cost is
a matter of detail. Why should such purely social use of these educational
buildings--always common in small towns--have been allowed to fall into
abeyance in the larger ones? It is hard to say; but with the recent great
improvements in construction, the building of schools and libraries that
are models of beauty, comfort, and convenience, there has arisen a not
unnatural feeling in the public that all this public property should be
put to fuller use. Why should children be forced to dance on the street or
in some place of sordid association when comfortable and convenient halls
in library or school are closed and unoccupied? Why should the local
debating club, the mothers' meeting--nay, why should the political ward
meeting be barred out? Side by side with this trend of public opinion
there has been an awakening realization on the part of many connected with
these institutions that they themselves might benefit by such extended

Probably this realization has come earlier and more fully to the library,
because its educational function is directed so much more upon adults. The
library is coming to be our great continuation school--an institution of
learning with an infinity of purely optional courses. It may open its
doors to any form of adult social activity.

There are forms of activity proper to a social center that require special
apparatus or equipment. These may be furnished in a building erected for
the purpose, as are the Chicago fieldhouses. Here we have swimming-pools,
gymnasiums for men and for women, and all the rest of it. A branch library
is included and some would house the school also under the same roof. We
may have to wait long for the general adoption of such a composite social
center. Our immediate problem is to supply an immediate need by using
means directly at our disposal. And it is remarkable how many kinds of
neighborhood activity may take place in a room unprovided with any special
equipment. A brief glance over our own records for only a few months past
enables me to classify them roughly as athletic or outdoor, purely social,
educational, debating, political, labor, musical, religious, charitable or
civic, and expository, besides many that defy or elude classification.

The athletic or outdoor organizations include the various turning or
gymnastic clubs and the Boy and Girl Scouts; the social organizations
embrace dancing-classes, "welfare" associations, alumni and graduate clubs
of schools and colleges, and dramatic clubs; the educational, which are
very numerous, reading circles, literary clubs galore, free classes in
chemistry, French, psychology, philosophy, etc., and all such
organizations as the Jewish Culture Club, the Young People's Ethical
Society, the Longan Parliamentary Class, and the Industrial and Business
Women's Educational leagues. Religious bodies are parish meetings,
committees of mission boards, and such organizations as the Theosophical
Society; charitable or civic activities include the National Conference of
Day Nurseries, the Central Council of Civic Agencies, the W.C.T.U.,
playground rehearsals for the Child Welfare Exhibit, and the Business
Men's Association; and the Advertising Men's League; musical organizations
embrace St. Paul's Musical Assembly, the Tuesday Choral Club, etc. Among
exhibitions are local affairs such as wild flower shows, an exhibit of
bird-houses, collections from the Educational Museum, the Civil League's
Municipal Exhibit, selected screens from the Child Welfare Exhibit, and
the prize-winners from the St. Louis Art Exhibit held in the art room of
our central library. Then we have the Queen Hedwig Branch, the Clay School
Picnic Association, the Aero Club, the Lithuanian Club, the Philotechne
Club, the Fathers' Club, and the United Spanish War Veterans.

I trust you will not call upon me to explain the objects of some of these,
as such a demand might cause me embarrassment--not because their aims are
unworthy, but because these are skilfully obscured by their names. If
anyone believes that there is a limit to the capacity of the human race
for forming groups and subgroups on a moment's notice, for any reason or
for no reason at all, I would refer him to our assembly room and clubroom
records; and he would find, I think, that these are typical of every large
library offering the use of such rooms somewhat freely.

It will be noted that the library takes no part in organizing or operating
any of these activities; it does not have to do so.

The successful leader is he who repairs to a hill and raises his standard,
knowing that at sight of it followers will flock around him. When you drop
a tiny crystal into a solution, the atoms all rush to it naturally: there
is no effort or compulsion except that of the aptitudes that their Creator
has implanted in them. So it is with all centers, business or religious or
social. No one instituted a campaign to locate the business center of a
city at precisely such a square or corner. Things aggregate, and the point
to which they tend is their center; they make it, it does not make them.
The leader on a hill is a leader because he has followers; without them he
would be but a lone warrior. The school or the library that says proudly
to itself, "Go to; I will be a social center," may find itself in the same
lonely position. It can offer an opportunity: that is all. It can offer
houseroom to clubs, organizations, and groups of all kinds, whether
permanent or temporary, large or small, but its usefulness as a social
center depends largely on the existence of these and on their desire for a
meeting place. We have in St. Louis six branch libraries with assembly
rooms and clubrooms--in all a dozen or so. I have before me the calendar
for a single week and I find 55 engagements, running from 24 at one branch
down thru 13, 8, 6, and 3 to one. If I had before me only the largest
number I should conclude that branch libraries as social centers were a
howling success; if only the smallest, I should say that they were dismal
failures. Why the difference? For the same reason that the leader who
displays his standard may or may not be surrounded with eager "flocking"
followers. There may be no one within earshot, or they may have no stomach
for the war, or they may not be interested in the cause that he
represents. Or again, he may not shout loud or persuasively enough, or his
standard may not be attractive enough in form or color, or mounted on a
sufficiently high staff.

I have said that all we can offer is opportunity; to change our figure, we
can furnish the drinking-fountain--thirst must bring the horse to it. But
we must not forget that we offer our opportunity in vain unless we are
sure that everyone who might grasp it realizes our offer and what it

Here is the chance for personal endeavor. If the young people in a
neighborhood continue to hold their social meetings over a saloon when the
branch library or the school is perfectly willing to offer its assembly
room, it is pretty certain that they do not understand that offer, or that
they mistrust its sincerity, or that there is something wrong that might
be remedied by personal effort. In the one of our branches that is most
used by organizations there is this personal touch. But I should hesitate
to say that the others do not have it too. There are plenty of
organizations near this busiest library and there are no other good places
for them to meet. In the neighborhood of some other branches there are
other meeting-places, and elsewhere, perhaps, the social instinct is not
so strong, or at any rate the effort to organize is lacking. Should the
librarian step out and attempt to stimulate this social instinct and to
guide this organizing effort? There is room for difference of opinion

Personally I think that he should not do it directly and officially as a
librarian. He may do it quietly and unobtrusively like any other private
citizen, but he needs all his efforts, all his influence, to bring the
book and the reader together in his community. Sometimes by doing this he
can be doing the other too, and he can always do it vicariously. He should
bear in mind that the successful man is not he who does everything
himself, but he who can induce others to do things--to do them in his way
and to direct them toward his ends. Even in the most sluggish, the most
indifferent community there are these potential workers with enthusiasms
that need only to be awakened to be let loose for good. The magic key is
often in the librarian's girdle, and his free offer of house room and
sympathy, with good literature thrown in, will always be of powerful
assistance in this kind of effort. He will seldom need to do more than to
make clear the existence and the nature of the opportunity that he offers.
I know that there are some librarians and many more teachers who hesitate
to open their doors in any such way as this; who are afraid that the
opportunities offered will be misused or that the activities so sheltered
will be misjudged by the public. It has shocked some persons that a young
people's dancing-class has been held, under irreproachable auspices, in
one of our branch libraries; others have been grieved to see that
political ward meetings have taken place in them, and that some rather
radical political theories have been debated there. These persons forget
that a library never takes sides. It places on its shelves books on the
Civil War from the standpoint of both North and South, histories of the
great religious controversies by both Catholics and Protestants, ideas and
theories in science and philosophy from all sides and at all angles. It
may give room at one time to a young people's dancing-class and at another
to a meeting of persons who condemn dancing. Its walls may echo one day to
the praises of our tariff system and on another to fierce denunciations of

These things are all legitimate and it is better that they should take
place in a library or a school building than in a saloon or even in a
grocery store. The influence of environment is gently pervasive. I may be
wrong, but I cannot help thinking that it is easier to be a gentleman in a
library, whether in social meeting or in political debate, than it is in
some other places. In one of our branches there meets a club of men who
would be termed anarchists by some people. The branch librarian assures me
that the brand of anarchism that they profess has grown perceptibly milder
since they have met in the library. It is getting to be literary,
academic, philosophic. Nourished in a saloon, with a little injudicious
repression, it might perhaps have borne fruit of bombs and dynamite.

In this catholicity I cannot help thinking that the library as an
educational institution is a step ahead of the school. Most teachers would
resent the imputation of partisanship on the part of the school, and yet
it is surely partisan--in some ways rightly and inevitably so. One cannot
well explain both sides of any question to a child of six and leave its
decision to his judgment. This is obvious; and yet I cannot help thinking
that there is one-sided teaching of children who are at least old enough
to know that there is another side, and that the one-sided teaching of
two-sided subjects might be postponed in some cases until two-sided
information would be possible and proper. Where a child is taught one side
and finds out later that there is another, his resentment is apt to be
bitter; it spoils the educational effect of much that he was taught and
injures the influence of the institution that taught him. My resentment is
still strong against the teaching that hid from me the southern viewpoint
concerning slavery and secession, the Catholic viewpoint of what we
Protestants call the Reformation--dozens of things omitted from textbooks
on dozens of subjects because they did not happen to meet the approval of
the textbook compiler. I am no less an opponent of slavery--I am no less a
Protestant--because I know the other side, but I think I am a better man
for knowing it, and I think it a thousand pities that there are thousands
of our fellow citizens, on all sides of all possible lines, from whom our
educative processes have hid even the fact that there is another side.
This question, as I have said, does not affect the library, and
fortunately need not affect it. And as we are necessarily two-sided in our
book material so we can open our doors to free social or neighborhood use
without bothering our heads about whether the users are Catholics,
Protestants, or Jews; Democrats, Republicans, or Socialists; Christian
Scientists or suffragists. The library hands our suffrage and
anti-suffrage literature to its users with the same smile, and if it hands
the anti-suffrage books to the suffragist, and vice versa, both sides are
certainly the better for it.

I have tried to make it clear in what I have said that in this matter of
social activity, public institutions should go as far as they can in
furnishing facilities without taking upon themselves the burden of
administration. I believe fully in municipal ownership of all kinds of
utilities, but rarely in municipal operation. Municipal ownership
safeguards the city, and private or corporate operation avoids the
numerous objections to close municipal control of detail. So the library
authorities may retain sufficient control of these social activities by
the power that they have of admitting them to the parts of the buildings
provided for them, or of excluding them at any time. These activities
themselves are better managed by voluntary bodies, and, as I have said,
there is no indication that the formation of such bodies is on the wane.
The establishment and operation of a musical or athletic club, a debating
society, or a Boy Scouts company, are surely quite as educational as the
activities themselves in which their members engage. Do not let us
arrogate to ourselves such opportunities as these. I should be inclined to
take this attitude also with regard to the public playgrounds, were they
not somewhat without the province of this paper; and I take it very
strongly with regard to the public school. Throw open the school buildings
as soon as you can, and as freely as you can to every legitimate form of
social activity, but let your relationship to this activity be like that
of the center to the circle--in it and of it, but embracing no part of its
areal content. So, I am convinced, will it be best for all of us--for
ourselves, the administrators of public property, and for the public, the
owning body which is now demanding that it should not be barred out by its
servants from that property's freest and fullest use.


The peace propaganda has suffered much from the popular impression that
many of those engaged in it are impractical enthusiasts who are assuming
the possibility of doing away with passions and prejudices incident to our
very humanity, and of bringing about an ideal reign of love and good will.
Whether this impression is or is not justified we need not now inquire. It
is the impression itself that is injuring the cause of peace, and will
continue to injure it until it is removed.

It may at least be lessened by allowing the mind to dwell for a time on
another aspect of the subject in which the regime of peace that would
follow the discontinuance of all settlement of disputes by violence will
appear to consist not so much in the total disappearance of violence from
the earth as in the use of it for a different purpose, namely, the
preservation of the peaceful status quo, by a systematic and lawful use of
force, or at any rate, the readiness to employ it.

A state of peace, whether between individuals or nations, whether without
or within a regime of law, always partakes of the nature of an armed
truce: under one regime, however, the arms are borne by the possible
contestants themselves; under the other, by the community whose members
they are. If there is a resort to arms, violence ensues under both
regimes; in both cases it tends ultimately to restore peace, but the
action is more certain and more systematic when the violence is exerted by
the community.

These laws may apply indifferently to a community of individuals or to one
of nations. The most cogent and the most valid argument at the disposal of
the peace advocate is the fact that we no longer allow the individual to
take the law into his own hand, and that logically we should equally
prohibit the nation from doing so. This is unanswerable, but its force has
been greatly weakened by the assumption, which it requires no great
astuteness to find unwarranted, that the settlement of individual quarrels
by individual force has resulted from--or at least resulted in--the
discontinuance of violence altogether, or in the dawn of a general era of
good-will, man to man. On the contrary, it is very doubtful whether there
is less violence to-day than there would be if the operation of law were
suspended altogether; the difference, is that the violence has shifted its
incidence and altered its aim--it is civic and social and no longer

If we are to introduce the regime of law among nations as among
individuals, our first step must be similarly to shift the incidence of
violence. In so doing we may not decrease it, we may, indeed, increase
it--but we shall none the less be taking that step in the only possible
direction to achieve our purpose.

Among individuals, custom, crystallizing into law, generally precedes the
enforcement of that law by the community. Hence, a somewhat elaborate code
may exist side by side with the settlement of disputes, under that code,
by personal combat. We have among nations such a code, and we yet admit
the settlement of disputes by war, because the incidence of violence has
not yet completely shifted. We have established a tribunal to act, in
certain cases, on behalf of the community of nations, but we have not yet
given that tribunal complete jurisdiction and we have given it no power
whatever to enforce its decrees. It is on this latter point that I desire
to dwell. In a community of individuals, there are two ways of using
violence to enforce law--by the professional police force and by the posse
of citizens. The former is more effective, but the latter is often readier
and more certain in particular instances, especially in primitive
communities. To give it force we must have readiness on the part of every
citizen to respond to a call from the proper officer, and ability to do
effective service, especially by the possession of arms and skill in their
use. These requisites are not generally found in more advanced

In like manner, the decrees of an international tribunal might be enforced
either by the creation of an international army or by calling upon as many
of the nations as necessary to aid in coercing the non-law-abiding member
of the international community. Each nation is already armed and ready.

Whatever may be thought of the ultimate possibility of an international
army, it must be evident that the principle of the posse must serve us at
the outset. An international army would always consist in part of members
of the nation to be coerced, whereas, in selecting a posse those furthest
in race and in sympathy from the offender might always be chosen, just as
members of a hostile clan would make up the best posse to arrest a
Highlander for sheep-stealing.

Moreover, the posse has been used internationally more than once, as when
decrees have been pronounced by a general European Congress and some
particular nation or nations have been charged with their execution.

When a frontier community that has been a law unto itself gets its first
sheriff, the earliest visible result is not impossibly a sudden increase,
instead of a decrease, of violence. There is a war of the community,
represented by the sheriff and the good citizens, against all the bad
ones. Even so it may be expected that among the first results of an
effective agreement to enforce the decrees of an international tribunal,
would be an exceptionally great and violent war. Sooner or later some
nation would be sure to take issue with an unpopular decree and refuse to
obey it. This would probably be one of the larger and more powerful
nations, for a weaker power would not proceed to such lengths in protest.

Not improbably other nations might join the protesting power. The result
would be a war; it might even be the world war that we have been fearing
for a generation. It might conceivably be the greatest and the bloodiest
war that the world has yet seen. Yet it would be far the most glorious war
of history, for it would be a struggle on behalf of law and order in the
community of nations--a fight to uphold that authority by whose exercise
alone may peace be assured to the world. The man who shudders at the
prospect of such a war, who wants peace, but is unwilling to fight for it,
should cease his efforts on behalf of a universal agreement among nations,
for there is no general agreement without power to quell dissension.

This is not the place to discuss the details of an international agreement
to enforce the decrees of an international tribunal. It may merely be said
that if the most powerful and intelligent communities of men that have
ever existed cannot devise machinery to do what puny individuals have long
been successfully accomplishing, they had better disband and coalesce in
universal anarchy.

My object here is neither to propose plans nor to discuss details, but
merely to point out that not the abandonment, but the systematization of
violence is the goal of a rational peace propaganda, and that when this is
once acknowledged and universally realized, an important step will have
been taken toward winning over a class of persons who now oppose a
world-peace as impractical and impossible.

These persons disapprove of disarmament: and from the point of view here
advocated, a general disarmament would be the last thing to be desired.
The possible member of a posse must bear arms to be effective. Armaments
may have to be limited and controlled by international decree, but to
disarm a nation would be as criminal and foolish as it would be to take
away all weapons from the law-abiding citizens of a mining town as a
preliminary to calling upon them to assist in the arrest of a notorious
band of outlaws.

Again: a common objection to the peace propaganda is that without war we
shall have none of the heroic virtues that war calls into being. This
objection fails utterly when we consider that what we shall get under a
proper international agreement is not the abolition of war, but simply an
assurance that when there is a war it will be one in which every good
citizen can take at once the part of international law and order--a
contest between the law and the law-breaker, and not one in which both
contestants are equally lawless. Thus the profession of arms will still be
an honorable one--it will, in fact, be much more honorable than it is
to-day, when it may at any moment be prostituted to the service of greed
or commercialism.


"I have nothing to read," said a man to me once. "But your house seems to
be filled with books." "O, yes; but I've read them already." What should
we think of a man who should complain that he had no friends, when his
house was thronged daily with guests, simply because he had seen and
talked with them all once before? Such a man has either chosen badly, or
he is himself at fault. "Hold fast that which is good" says the Scripture.
Do not taste it once and throw it away. To get at the root of this matter
we must go farther back than literature and inquire what it has in common
with all other forms of art to compel our love and admiration. Now, a work
of art differs from any other result of human endeavor in this--that its
effect depends chiefly on the way in which it is made and only secondarily
upon what it is or what it represents. Were this not true, all statues of
Apollo or Venus would have the same art-value; and you or I, if we could
find a tree and a hill that Corot had painted, would be able to produce a
picture as charming to the beholder as his.

The way in which a thing is done is, of course, always important, but its
importance outside of the sphere of art differs from that within. The way
in which a machine is constructed makes it good or bad, but the thing that
is aimed at here is the useful working of the machine, toward which all
the skill of the maker is directed. What the artist aims at is not so much
to produce a likeness of a god or a picture of a tree, as to produce
certain effects in the person who looks at his complete work; and this he
does by the way in which he performs it. The fact that a painting
represents certain trees and hills is here only secondary; the primary
fact is what the artist has succeeded in making the on-looker feel.

While Sorolla is painting a group of children on the beach, I may take a
kodak picture of the same group. My photograph may be a better likeness
than Sorolla's picture, but it has no art-value. Why? Because it was made
mechanically, whereas Sorolla put into his picture something of himself,
making it a unique thing, incapable of imitation or of reproduction.

The man who has a message, one of those pervasive, compelling messages
that are worth while, naturally turns to art. He chooses his subject not
as an end, but as a vehicle, and he makes it speak his message by his
method of treatment, conveying it to his public more or less successfully
in the measure of his skill.

We have been speaking of the representative arts of painting and
sculpture, but the same is true of art in any form. In music, not a
representative art, in spite of the somewhat grotesque claims of so-called
program music, the method of the composer is everything, or at least his
subject is so vague and immaterial that no one would think of exalting it
as an end in itself. There is, however, an art in which the subject stands
forth so prominently that even those who love the art itself are
continually in danger of forgetting the subject's secondary character. I
mean the art of literature. Among the works of written speech the
boundaries of art are much more ill-defined than they are elsewhere. There
is, to be sure, as much difference between Shelley's "Ode to a Skylark"
and Todhunter's "Trigonometry" as there is between the Venus de Milo and a
battleship; and I conceive that the difference is also of precisely the
same kind, being that by which, as we have seen above, we may always
discriminate between a work of art and one of utility. But where art-value
and utility are closely combined, as they are most frequently in
literature, it is, I believe, more difficult to divide them mentally and
to dwell on their separate characteristics, than where the work is a
concrete object. This is why we hear so many disputes about whether a
given work does or does not belong to the realm of "pure literature," and
it is also the reason why, as I have said, some, even among those who love
literature, are not always ready to recognize its nature as an art, or
mistakenly believe that in so far as its art-value is concerned, the
subject portrayed is of primary importance--is an aim in itself instead of
being a mere vehicle for the conveyance of an impression.

Take, if you please, works which were intended by their authors as works
of utility, but have survived as works of art in spite of themselves, such
as Walton's "Compleat Angler" and White's "Natural History of Selborne."
Will anyone maintain that the subject-matter of those books has much to do
with their preservation, or with the estimation in which they are now
held? Nay; we may even be so bold as to enter the field of fiction and to
assert that those fictional works that have purely literary value are
loved not for the story they tell, but for the way in which the author
tells it and for the effect that he thereby produces on the reader.

I conceive that pure literature is an art, subject to the rules that
govern all art, and that its value depends primarily on the effect
produced on the reader--the message conveyed--by the way in which the
writer has done his work, the subject chosen being only his vehicle. Where
a man who has something to say looks about for means to say it worthily,
he may select a tale, a philosophical disquisition, a familiar essay, a
drama or a lyric poem. He may choose badly or well, but in any case it is
his message that matters.

My excuse for dwelling on this matter must be that unless I have carried
you with me thus far what I am about to say will have no meaning, and I
had best fold my papers, make my bow, and conclude an unprofitable
business. For my subject is re-reading, the repetition of a message; and
the message that we would willingly hear repeated is not that of utility
but of emotion. It is the word that thrills the heart, nerves the arm, and
puts new life into the veins, not that which simply conveys information.
The former will produce its effect again and again, custom can not stale
it. The latter, once delivered, has done its work. I see two messengers
approaching; one, whom I have sent to a library to ascertain the
birth-date of Oliver Cromwell, tells me what it is and receives my thanks.
The other tells me that one dear to my heart, long lying at death's door,
is recovering. My blood courses through my veins; my nerves tingle; joy
suffuses me where gloom reigned before. I cry out; I beg the bearer of
good tidings to tell them again and again; I keep him by me, so that I may
ask him a thousand questions, bringing out his message in a thousand
variant forms. But do I turn to the other and say, "O, that blessed date!
was Cromwell truly born thereon? Let me, I pray, hear you recite it again
and again!" I trow, not.

The message that we desire to hear again is the one that produces its
effect again and again; and that is the message of feeling, the message of
art--not that of mere utility. This is so true that I conceive we may use
it as a test of art-value. The great works of literature do not lose their
effect on a single reading. One makes response to them the hundredth time
as he did the first. Their appeal is so compelling that there is no
denying it--no resisting it. There are snatches of poetry--and of prose,
too--that we have by heart; that we murmur to ourselves again and again,
sure that the response which never failed will come again, thrilling the
whole organism with its pathos, uplifting us with the nobility of its
appeal, warming us with its humor. There is a little sequence of homely
verse that never fails to bring the tears to my eyes. I have tested myself
with it under the most unfavorable circumstances. In the midst of
business, amid social jollity, in the mental dullness of fatigue, I have
stopped and repeated to myself those three verses. So quickly acts the
magic of the author's skill that the earlier verses grip the fibers of my
mind and twist them in such fashion that I feel the pathos of the last
lines just as I felt them for the first time, years ago. You might all
tell similar stories. I believe that this is a characteristic of good
literature, and that all of it will bear reading, and re-reading, and
reading again.

But I hear someone say, "Do you mean to tell me that those three little
verses that bring the tears to your eyes, will bring them also to mine and
my neighbor's? I might listen to them appreciatively but dry-eyed; my
neighbor might not care for them enough to re-read them once. All about us
we see this personal equation in the appreciation of literature. Unless
you are prepared, then, to maintain that literature may be good for one
and bad for another, your contention will scarcely hold water."

Even so, brother. The messenger who told me of the safety of my dear one
did not thrill your heart as he did mine. She was dear to me, not to you,
and the infinitely delicate yet powerful chain of conditions and relations
that operated between the messenger's voice and my emotional nature did
not connect him with yours. Assuredly, the message that reaches one man
may not reach another. It may even reach a man in his youth and fall short
in manhood, or vice versa. It may be good for him and inoperative on all
the rest of the world. We estimate literature, it is true, by the
universality of its appeal or by the character of the persons whom alone
that appeal reaches. The message of literature as art may thus be to the
crowd or to a select few. I could even imagine intellect and feeling of
such exquisite fineness, such acknowledged superiority, that appeal to it
alone might be enough to fix the status of a work of art, though it might
leave all others cold. Still, in general I believe, that the greatest
literature appeals to the greatest number and to the largest number of
types. I believe that there are very few persons to whom Shakespeare,
properly presented, will not appeal. In him, nevertheless, the learned and
those of taste also delight. There are authors like Walter Pater who are a
joy to the few but do not please the many. There are others galore, whom
perhaps it would be invidious to name, who inspire joy in the multitude
but only distaste in the more discriminating. We place Pater above these,
just as we should always put quality above quantity; but I place
Shakespeare vastly higher, because his appeal is to the few and the many
at once.

But we must, I think, acknowledge that an author whose value may not
appeal to others may be great to one reader; that his influence on that
reader may be as strong for good as if it were universal instead of
unique. We may not place such a writer in the Walhalla, but I beseech you,
do not let us tear him rudely from the one or two to whom he is good and
great. Do not lop off the clinging arms at the elbow, but rather skilfully
present some other object of adoration to the intent that they may
voluntarily untwine and enfold this new object more worthily.

The man who desires to own books but who can afford only a small and
select library can not do better than to make his selection on this
basis--to get together a collection of well-loved books any one of which
would give him pleasure in re-reading. Why should a man harbor in his
house a book that he has read once and never cares to read again? Why
should he own one that he will never care to read at all? We are not
considering the books of the great collectors, coveted for their rarity or
their early dates, for their previous ownership or the beauty of their
binding--for any reason except the one that makes them books rather than
curiosities. These collections are not libraries in the intellectual or
the literary sense. Three well thumbed volumes in the attic of one who
loves them are a better library for him than those on which Pierpont
Morgan spent his millions.

This advice, it will be noted, implies that the man has an opportunity to
read the book before he decides whether to buy it or not. Here is where
the Public Library comes in. Some regard the Public Library as an
institution to obviate all necessity of owning books. It should rather be
regarded from our present standpoint as an institution to enable readers
to own the books that they need--to survey the field and make therefrom a
proper and well-considered selection. That it has acted so in the past,
none may doubt; it is the business of librarians to see that this function
is emphasized in the future. The bookseller and the librarian are not
rivals, but co-workers. Librarians complain of the point of view of those
publishers and dealers who regard every library user as a lost customer.
He is rather, they say, in many cases a customer won--a non-reader added
to the reading class--a possible purchaser of books. But have not
librarians shared somewhat this mistaken and intolerant attitude? How
often do we urge our readers to become book-owners? How often do we give
them information and aid directed toward this end? The success of the
Christmas book exhibitions held in many libraries should be a lesson to
us. The lists issued in connection with these almost always include
prices, publishers' names, and other information intended especially for
the would-be purchaser. But why should we limit our efforts to the holiday
season? True, every librarian does occasionally respond to requests for
advice in book-selection and book-purchase, but the library is not yet
recognized as the great testing field of the would-be book owner; the
librarian is not yet hailed as the community's expert adviser in the
selection and purchase of books, as well as its book guardian and book
distributor. That this may be and should be, I believe. It will be if the
librarian wills it.

Are we straying from our subject? No; for from our present standpoint a
book bought is a book reread. My ideal private library is a room, be it
large or small, lined with books, every one of which is the owner's
familiar friend, some almost known by heart, others re-read many times,
others still waiting to be re-read.

But how about the man whose first selection for this intimate personal
group would be a complete set of the works of George Ade? Well, if that is
his taste, let his library reflect it. Let a man be himself. That there is
virtue in merely surrounding oneself with the great masters of literature
all unread and unloved, I can not see. Better acknowledge your poor taste
than be a hypocrite.

The librarian can not force the classics down the unwilling throats of
those who do not care for them and are perhaps unfitted to appreciate
them. There has been entirely too much of this already and it has resulted
disastrously. Surely, a sane via media is possible, and we may agree that
a man will never like Eschylus, without assuring him that Eschylus is an
out-of-date old fogy, while on the other hand we may acknowledge the
greatness of Homer and Milton without trying to force them upon unwilling
and incompetent readers. After all it is not so much a question of Milton
versus George Ade, as it is of sanity and wholesomeness against vulgarity
and morbidity. And if I were to walk through one city and behold
collections of this latter sort predominating and then through another,
where my eyes were gladdened with evidences of good taste, of love for
humor that is wholesome, sentiment that is sane, verse that is tuneful and
noble, I should at once call on the public librarian and I should say to
him, "Thou art the man!" The literary taste of your community is a
reflection of your own as shown forth in your own institution--its
collection of books, the assistants with which you have surrounded
yourself, your attitude and theirs through you toward literature and
toward the public.

But, someone asks, suppose that I am so fortunate and so happy as to sit
in the midst of such a group of friendly authors; how and how often shall
I re-read? Shall I traverse the group every year? He who speaks thus is
playing a part; he is not the real thing. Does the young lover ask how and
how often he shall go to see his sweetheart? Try to see whether you can
keep him away! The book-lover reopens his favorite volume whenever he
feels like it. Among the works on his shelves are books for every mood,
every shade of varying temper and humor. He chooses for the moment the
friend that best corresponds to it, or it may be, the one that may best
woo him away from it. It may be that he will select none of them, but
occupy himself with a pile of newcomers, some of whom may be candidates
for admission to the inner group. The whole thing--the composition of his
library, his attitude toward it, the books that he re-reads oftenest, the
favorite passages that he loves, that he scans fondly with his eye while
yet he can repeat them by heart, his standards of admission to his inner
circle--all is peculiarly and personally his own. There is no other
precisely like it, just as there is no other human being precisely like
its owner. There is as much difference between this kind of a library and
some that we have seen as there is between a live, breathing creature with
a mind and emotions and aspirations, and a wax figure in the Eden Musee.

Thus every book lover re-reads his favorites in a way of his own, just as
every individual human being loves or hates or mourns or rejoices in a way
of his own.

One can no more describe these idiosyncrasies than he can write a history
of all the individuals in the world, but perhaps, in the manner of the
ethnological or zoological classifier, it may interest us to glance at the
types of a few genera or species.

And first, please note that re-reading is the exact repetition of a dual
mental experience, so far at least as one of the minds is concerned. It is
a replica of mind-contact, under conditions obtainable nowhere else in
this world and of such nature that some of them seem almost to partake of
other-worldliness. My yesterday's interview with Smith or Jones, trivial
as it is, I can not repeat. Smith can not remember what he said, and even
if he could, he could not say it to me in the same way and to the same
purpose. But my interview with Plato--with Shakespeare, with Emerson; my
talk with Julius Caesar, with Goethe, with Lincoln! I can duplicate it
once, twice, a hundred times. My own mind--one party to the contact--may
change, but Plato's or Lincoln's is ever the same; they speak no "various
language" like Byrant's nature, but are like that great Author of Nature
who has taken them to Himself, in that in them "is no variableness,
neither shadow of turning." To realize that these men may speak to me
today, across the abyss of time, and that I can count on the same message
tomorrow, next year and on my death bed, in the same authentic words,
producing the same effect, assures me that somewhere, somehow, a miracle
has been wrought.

I have said that one of the minds that come thus into contact changes not,
while the other, the reader's, is alterable. This gives him a sort of
standard by which he can measure or at least estimate, the changes that go
on within him, the temporary ones due to fluctuations in health, strength
or temper, the progressive ones due to natural growth or to outside

In his "Introduction to Don Quixote," Heine tells us how that book, the
first that he ever read, was his mental companion through life. In that
first perusal knowing not "how much irony God had interwoven into the
world," he looked upon the luckless knight as a real hero of romance and
wept bitterly when his chivalry and generosity met with ingratitude and
violence. A little later, when the satire dawned upon his comprehension,
he could not bear the book. Still later he read it with contemptuous
laughter at the poor knight. But when in later life, he lay racked on a
bed of pain his attitude of sympathy returned. "Dulcinea del Toboso," he
says "is still the most beautiful woman in the world; although I lie
stretched upon the earth, helpless and miserable, I will never take back
that assertion. I can not do otherwise. On with your lances, ye Knights of
the Silver Moon; ye disguised barbers!"

So every reader's viewpoint shifts with the years.

Our friend who welcomes George Ade to his inner sanctuary may find as the
years go on that his reaction to that contact has altered. I should not
recommend that the author be then be cast into outer darkness. Once a
favorite, always a favorite, for old sake's sake even if not for present
power and influence. Our private libraries will hold shelf after shelf of
these old-time favorites--milestones on the intellectual track over which
we have wearily or joyously traveled.

There will always be a warm spot in my heart and a nook on my private
shelf for Oliver Optic and Horatio Alger. Though I bar them from my
library (I mean my Library with a big L) I have no right to exclude them
from my private collection of favorites, for once I loved them. I scarcely
know why or how. If there had been in those far-off days of my boyhood,
children's libraries and children's librarians, I might not have known
them; as it is, they are incidents in my literary past that can not be
blinked, shameful though they may be. The re-reading of such books as
these is interesting because it shows us how far we have traveled since we
counted them among our favorites.

Then there is the book that, despite its acknowledged excellence, the
reader would not perhaps admit to his inner circle if he read it now for
the first time. It holds its place largely on account of the glamour with
which his youth invested it. It thrills him now as it thrilled him then,
but he half suspects that the thrill is largely reminiscent. I sometimes
fancy that as I re-read Ivanhoe and my heart leaps to my mouth when the
knights clash at Ashby, the propulsive power of that leap had its origin
in the emotions of 1870 rather than those of 1914. And when some of
Dickens' pathos--that death-bed of Paul Dombey for instance--brings the
tears again unbidden to my eyes, I suspect, though I scarcely dare to put
my suspicion into words, that the salt in those tears is of the vintage of
1875. I am reading Arnold Bennett now and loving him very dearly when he
is at his best; but how I shall feel about him in 1930 or how I might feel
if I could live until 2014, is another question.

Then there is the book that, scarce comprehended or appreciated when it
was first read, but loved for some magic of expression or turn of thought,
shows new beauties at each re-reading, unfolding like an opening rose and
bringing to view petals of beauty, wit, wisdom and power that were before
unsuspected. This is the kind of book that one loves most to re-read, for
the growth that one sees in it is after all in oneself--not in the book.
The gems that you did not see when you read it first were there then as
they are now. You saw them not then and you see them now, for your mental
sight is stronger--you are more of a man now than you were then.

Not that all the changes of the years are necessarily for the better. They
may be neither for better nor for worse. As the moving train hurries us
onward we may enjoy successively the beauties of canyon, prairie and lake,
admiring each as we come to it without prejudice to what has gone before.
In youth we love only bright colors and their contrasts--brilliant sunsets
and autumn foliage; in later life we come to appreciate also the more
delicate tints and their gradations--a prospect of swamp-land and distant
lake or sea on a gray day; a smoky town in the fog; the tender dove colors
of early dawns. So in youth we eagerly read of blood and glory and wild
adventure; Trollope is insufferably dull. Jane Austen is for old maids;
even such a gem as Cranford we do not rate at its true value. But in after
life how their quiet shades and tints come out! There is no glory in them,
no carnage, no combat; but there is charm and fascination in the very
slowness of their movement, the shortness of their range, their lack of
intensity, the absence of the shrill, high notes and the tremendous bases.

Then there is the re-reading that accuses the reader of another kind of
change--a twist to the right or the left, a cast in the mental eye, or
perhaps the correction of such a cast. The doctrines in some book seemed
strange to you once--almost abhorrent; you are ready to accept them now.
Is it because you then saw through a glass darkly and now more clearly? Or
is your vision darker now than it was? Your rereading apprizes you that
there has been a change of some sort. Perhaps you must await corroborative
testimony before you decide what its nature has been. Possibly you read
today without a blush what your mind of twenty years ago would have been
shocked to meet. Are you broader-minded or just hardened? These questions
are disquieting, but the disturbance that they cause is wholesome, and I
know of no way in which they can be raised in more uncompromising form
than by re-reading an old favorite, by bringing the alterable fabric of
your living, growing and changing mind into contact with the stiff,
unyielding yardstick of an unchangeable mental record--the cast of one
phase of a master mind that once was but has passed on.

Here I can not help saying a word of a kind of re-reading that is not the
perusal of literature at all with most of us--the re-reading of our own
words, written down in previous years--old letters, old lectures,
articles--books, perhaps, if we chance to be authors. Of little value,
perhaps, to others, these are of the greatest interest to ourselves
because instead of measuring our minds by an outside standard they enable
us to set side by side two phases of our own life--the ego of 1892,
perhaps, and that of 1914. How boyish that other ego was; how it jumped to
conclusions; how ignorant it was and how self-confident! And yet, how
fresh it was; how quickly responsive to new impressions; how unspoiled;
how aspiring! If you want to know the changes that have transformed the
mind that was into the very different one that now is, read your own old

I have tried to show you that pure literature is an art and like other
arts depends primarily upon manner and only secondarily upon matter. That
the artist, who in this case is the author, uses his power to influence
the reader usually through his emotions or feelings and that its effects
to a notable extent, are not marred by repetition. That on this account
all good literature may be re-read over and over, and that the pleasure
derived from such re-reading is a sign that a book is peculiarly adapted
in some way to the reader. Finally, that one's private library, especially
if its size be limited, may well consist of personal favorites, often

When the astronomer Kepler had reduced to simple laws the complicated
motions of the planets he cried out in ecstacy: "O God! now think I Thy
thoughts after Thee!" Thus when a great writer of old time has been
vouchsafed a spark of the divine fire we may think his divine thoughts
after him by re-reading. And Shakespeare tells us in that deathless speech
of Portia's, that since mercy is God's attribute we may by exercising it
become like God. Thus, by the mere act of tuning our brains to think the
thoughts that the Almighty has put into the minds of the good and the
great, may it not be that our own thoughts may at the last come to be
shaped in the same mould?

"Old wine, old friends, old books," says the old adage; and of the three
the last are surely the most satisfying. The old wine may turn to vinegar;
old friends may forget or forsake us; but the old book is ever the same.
What would the old man do without it? And to you who are young I would
say--you may re-read, you first must read. Choose worthy books to love. As
for those who know no book long enough either to love or despise it--who
skim through good and bad alike and forget page ninety-nine while reading
page 100, we may simply say to them, in the words of the witty Frenchman,
"What a sad old age you are preparing for yourself!"


    [8] Read before the New England Society of St. Louis.

In one of his earlier books, Prof. Hugo Munsterberg cites the growing love
for tracing pedigrees as evidence of a dangerous American tendency toward
aristocracy. There are only two little things the matter with this--the
fact and the inference from it. In the first place, we Americans have
always been proud of our ancestry and fond of tracing it; and in the
second place, this fondness is akin, not to aristocracy but to democracy.
It is not the purpose of this paper to prove this thesis in detail, so I
will merely bid you note that aristocratic pedigree-tracers confine
themselves to one line, or to a few lines. Burke will tell you that one of
the great-great-grandfathers of the present Lord Foozlem was the First
Baron; he is silent about his great-grandfather, the tinker, and his
great-grandfather, the pettifogging country lawyer. Americans are far more
apt to push their genealogical investigations in all directions, because
they are prompted by a legitimate curiosity rather than by desire to prove
a point, American genealogical research is biological, while that of
Europe is commercial.

An obvious advantage of interest in our ancestors is that it ought to make
history a more vital thing to us; for to them, history was merely current
events in which they took part, or which, at least, they watched. This
linking up of our personal ancestral lines with past events is done too
seldom. Societies like the New England Society are doing it, and it is for
this reason that I have chosen to bring the subject briefly before you.

It has been noted that our historical notions of the Civil War are now,
and are going to be in the future, more just and less partisan than those
of the Revolution. This is not because we are nearer the Civil War; for
nearness often tends to confuse historical ideas rather than to clear them
up. It is because the descendants of those who fought on both sides are
here with us, citizens of our common country, intermarrying and coming
into contact in a thousand ways. We are not likely to ignore the Southern
standpoint regarding the rights of secession and the events of the
struggle so long as the sons and daughters of Confederate soldiers live
among us. Nor shall we ever forget the Northern point of view while the
descendants of those who fought with Grant and Sherman are our friends and

It is otherwise with the Revolution. We are the descendants only of those
who fought on one side. Of the others, part went back to their homes in
England, the rest, our old neighbors and friends, we despoiled of their
lands and drove across our northern border with execrations, to make new
homes in a new land and view us with a hatred that has not yet passed
away. If you doubt it, discuss the American Revolution for fifteen minutes
with one of the United Empire Loyalists of Toronto. It will surprise you
to know that your patriot ancestors were thieves, blacklegs and
scoundrels. I do not believe that they were; but possibly they were not
the impossible archangels of the school histories.

Of one thing I am sure; that if the descendants of those who fought
against us in '76 had been left to mingle with our own people, the
historical recollections of the struggle would have been surer and truer
on both sides than they are today. Here is a case where ancestry has
perverted history, but simply because there has been an unnatural
segregation of descendants. Let me note another where we have absolutely
forgotten our ancestral predilections and have gone over to the other
side, simply because the other side made the records. When we read a Roman
account of encounters between the legions and the northern tribes, where
do we place ourselves in imagination, as readers? Always with the Roman
legions. But our place is not there; it is with our hardy and brave
forefathers, fighting to defend their country and their firesides against
the southern intruders. How many teachers of history try to utilize
race-consciousness in their pupils to make them attain a clearer knowledge
of what it all meant? Should we not be proud that we are of the blood of
men who withstood the self-styled rulers of the world and won their
freedom and their right to shape their own personal and civic development?

I should like to see a book tracing the history and development of an
imaginary Anglo-Saxon American line of ancestry, taking it from the
forests of Northern Germany across to Britain, through the Norman conquest
and down the stream of subsequent English history across seas to
America--through savage wars and Revolution, perhaps across the
Alleghenies, to settle finally in the great West. I would try to make the
reader realize that here was no fairy tale--no tale of countries and races
with which we have naught to do, but the story of our own fathers, whose
features and whose characteristics, physical and mental, have been
transmitted by heredity to us, their sons and daughters of the year 1913.

It is unfortunate perhaps, for our perceptions of racial continuity, that
we are rovers by disposition. Who runs across the sea, says the Latin
poet, changes his sky but not his mind. True enough, but it is difficult
for some of us to realize it. It is hard for some of us to realize that
our emigrant ancestors were the same men and women when they set foot on
these shores as when they left the other side some weeks before. Our
trans-Atlantic cousins labor under the same difficulties, for they assure
us continually that we are a "new" country. We have, they say, the faults
and the advantages of "youth." It would be interesting to know at just
what point in the passage the education and the habits and the prejudices
of the incoming Englishman dropped off. Change of environment works
wonders with habits and even with character; we must of course recognize
that; but it certainly does not make of the mind a _tabula rasa_, on which
the fresh surroundings may absolutely work their will.

I must say that our migrations within the limits of our own continent have
not been productive of so much forgetfulness. I have been struck, for
instance, since I came to St. Louis, with what I may call the
source-consciousness of our western population. Everyone, whether he is
particularly interested in genealogy or not, knows that his people came
from Vermont or Virginia or Pennsylvania. He may not be able to trace his
ancestry, or even to name his great-grandfather; but with the source of
that ancestry he is always acquainted. I believe this to be the case
throughout the Middle West. From this point of view the population is not
so well mixed as it is in the East. No one in Massachusetts or Connecticut
can point out to you, offhand, the families that came from particular
counties in England. And yet in England, a migration from one county to
another is always recognized and remembered. A cousin of mine, visiting on
an English estate, was casually informed by his host, "Our family are
newcomers in this county. We moved in only about 300 years ago." From this
point of view we are all newcomers in America. It is to be hoped that as
the years go on, the elements of our western population will not so
thoroughly lose sight of their sources as have the Easterners. It is not
likely that they will, for those sources are more accessible. We have
Virginia families who still keep up friendly intercourse with the old
stock; Vermont families who spend each summer on the old homestead; and so
on. The New Englander did not and could not keep up similar relations with
Old England. Even the Southerner, who did it for a time, had to drop it.
Our inter-communication with Europe has grown enormously in volume, but
little of it, if any, is due to continuous ancestral interest, although a
revived general interest has sprung up and is to be commended.

I fear, however, that the greater part of this interest in sources, where
it exists, is very far from an intelligent connection with the body of
historical fact. When a man is proud of the fact that an ancestor took
part in the famous Boston Tea Party, has he taken any pains to ascertain
what actually took place on that occasion? If he claims descent from
Pocahontas, can he tell us just how much of what we currently believe of
her is fact and how much is myth? If he knows that his family came from
Cheshire, England, and was established and well-known there for centuries,
what does he know of the history of Cheshire and of the connection of his
ancestors with it? Our interest, when it exists, is concentrated too much
on trivial happenings. We know and boast that an ancestor came over in the
Mayflower without knowing of the family doings before and after that
event. Of course, connection with some one picturesque event serves to
stimulate the imagination and focus the interest, but these events should
serve as starting points for investigation rather than resting points
where interest begins and ends. Historical students are beginning to
realize that it is not enough to know about the battle of Hastings without
understanding the causes and forces that led to it and proceeded from it,
and the daily lives and thoughts of those who took part in it, from
captain to spearman.

This failure to link up family history with general history is responsible
for many sad losses of historical material. Many persons do not understand
the value of old letters and diaries; many who do, keep them closely in
the family archives where they are unknown and unappreciated. Old letters
containing material that bears in any way on the events, customs or life
of the time, should be turned over to the local historical society. If
they contain private matter, seal up the packet and require that it shall
remain sealed for a century, if you wish; but do not burn it. The feeling
that destroys such documents is simply evidence that we are historically
valuing the individual and the family above the community, just as we
still are in so many other fields of thought. I cannot tolerate the idea
that we shall ultimately think only in terms of the common good; the
smaller units, the man, the family must not lose their influence, but the
connection between them and the general welfare must be better understood
and more generally recognized; and this must be done, in the first place,
in all that relates to their historical records and to our historical

Ancestral feeling should, in this way, always be historical, not
individual. A man is right to be personally proud of his own achievements,
but it is difficult to see how he can properly take the same kind of pride
in that of others, whether related to him by blood or not. But there are
other kinds of legitimate pride--family pride, racial pride, group pride
of all sorts, where the feeling is not personal. If any member of a
family, a profession or any association, has so conducted himself that
credit is gained for the whole body, it is proper that this kind of group
pride should be felt by each member of the body, and in the case of a
family, where the bond is one of blood, the group feeling should be
stronger and the group pride, if it is proper to feel it at all, may be of
peculiar strength, provided it be carefully distinguished from the pride
due to personal achievement. And when the member of the family in whom one
takes pride is an ancestor, this means, as I have said, that feeling
should be historical, not individual. And anything that tends to lift our
interest from the individual to the historical plane--to make us cease
from congratulating ourselves personally on some connection with the good
and great and substitute a feeling of group pride shared in common by some
body to which we all belong, is acting toward this desirable end. The body
may be a family; it may be the community or the state; it may be as broad
as humanity itself, for we may all be proud of the world's greatest. Or it
may be a body like our own, formed to cherish the memories of forebears in
some particular line of endeavor, in some particular place or at some
particular era. Our ancestry is part of our history; so long as our regard
for it is properly interwoven with our historical sense, no one can
properly charge us with laving the foundation for aristocracy. We are
rather making true democracy possible, for such is the case only when the
elements of a community are closely united by ties of blood, interest and
knowledge--by pride in those who have gone before and by determination
that the standard set by these men and women of old shall be worthily


    [9] An address on Flag Day made in St. Peter's Church, St. Louis.

The most important things in the world are ideas. We are so familiar with
the things that are the material embodiment of ideas--buildings, roads,
vehicles and machines--that we are prone to forget that without the ideas
that gave them birth all these would be impossible. A house is a mass of
wood, stone and metal, but all these substances, collected in a pile, do
not suffice to make a house.

A locomotive is made of steel and brass, but although the ancient Romans
had both the metal and the alloy, they had no locomotives.

The vital thing about the house--the thing that differentiates it from
other masses of the same materials--is the idea--the plan--that was in the
architect's mind while wood and stone and iron were still in forest,
quarry and mine. The vital thing about the locomotive is the builder's
idea or plan, which he derived, in turn, from the inventor.

The reason why there were no locomotives in ancient Rome is that in those
days the locomotive had not yet been invented, and when we say this we
refer not to the materials, which the Romans had in abundance, but to the
idea or plan of the locomotive. So it is with the whole material world
about us. The things that result, not from man's activities, but from the
operations of nature, are no exceptions; for, if we are Christians, we
believe that the idea or plan of a man, or a horse, or a tree, was in the
mind of the great architect, the great machinist, before the world began,
and that this idea is the important thing about each.

A man, a house, an engine--these are ideas that lead to things that we can
feel, and see and hear. But there are other ideas that have nothing of the
kind to correspond to them--I mean such ideas as charity, manliness,
religion and patriotism--what sometimes are called abstract qualities.
These are real things and their ideas are even more important than the
others, but we cannot see nor feel them.

Now, man likes to use his senses, and it is for this reason that he is
fond of using for these abstract ideas, symbols that he can see and feel.
We of St. Louis should appreciate this to the full just now, for we have
just set before the world the greatest assemblage of symbolic images and
acts, portraying our pride in the past and our hope and confidence for the
future, that any city on this earth ever has been privileged to present or
to witness.[10] Whether we were actors or spectators; whether we camped
with the Indians, marched with De Soto or La Salle and felled the forests
of early St. Louis with Laclede and Chouteau, or whether we were part of
that great host on the hillside, we can say no longer that we do not
understand the importance of the idea, or the value and cogency of the
visible symbols that fix it in the memory and grip it to the heart.

    [10] The Pageant and Masque of St. Louis, 1915.

The Church of Christ always has understood and used this property of the
visible and tangible symbol to enforce the claims of the abstract idea.

We revere the cross, not because there is anything in its shape or
substance to make us venerate it, but because it is the symbol of the
Christian religion--of all that it has done for the world in the past and
all that it may do in the future. That is why we love and honor the
flag--not because it is a piece of cloth bearing certain figures and
colors, but because it is to us the symbol of all that our country has
meant to our fathers; all it means to us and all that it may mean to our
children, generation after generation.

A nation's flag did not always mean all this to those who gazed upon it.
In very old times the flag was for the soldier alone and had no more
meaning for the ordinary citizen than a helmet or a spear. When the
soldier saw it uplifted in the thick of the battle he rallied to it. Then
the flag became the personal emblem of a king or a prince, whether in
battle or not; then it was used to mark what belonged to the government of
a country. It is still so used in many parts of Europe, where the display
of a flag on a building marks it as government property, as our flag does
when it is used on a post office or a custom-house. Nowhere but in our own
country is the flag used as the general symbol of patriotic feeling and
displayed alike by soldier and citizen, by Government office and private
dwelling. So it comes about that the stars and stripes means to us all
that his eagles did to the Roman soldier; all that the great Oriflamme did
to the medieval Frenchman; all that the Union Jack now means to the Briton
or the tri-color to the Frenchman--and more, very much more, beside.

What ideas, then, does the flag stand for? First, it stands for union. It
was conceived in union, it was dipped in blood to preserve union, and for
union it still stands. Its thirteen stripes remind us of that gallant
little strip of united colonies along the Atlantic shore that threw down
the gage of battle to Britain a century and a half ago. Its stars are
symbols of the wider union that now is. Both may be held to signify the
great truth that in singleness of purpose among many there is effective
strength that no one by himself can hope to achieve. Our union of States
was formed in fear of foreign aggression; we have need of it still though
our foes be of our own household. If we are ever to govern our cities
properly, hold the balance evenly betwixt capital and labor, develop our
great natural resources without undue generosity on the one hand or
parsimony on the other--solve the thousand and one problems that rise to
confront us on every hand--we shall never accomplish these things by
struggling singly--one man at a time or even one State at a time, but by
concerted, united effort, the perfect union of which our flag is a symbol,
and which we need to-day even more than we did in 1776 or 1861.

We stand on the threshold of an effort to alter our city government.
Whether that effort should or should not succeed, every citizen must
decide for himself, with the aid of such intelligence and judgment as it
has pleased God to give him. But if he should decide in its favor, be
certain that his individual vote at the polls will go a very little way
toward bringing his desires to pass. We are governed by majorities, and a
majority is a union of many. He who would win must not only vote, but
work. Our flag, with its assemblages of stripes and stars, is a perpetual
reminder that by the union of the many, and not merely by the rectitude of
the individual, are policies altered and charters changed.

Again, our flag stands for love. It is a beautiful flag and it stands for
a beautiful land. We all love what is our own, if we are normal men and
women--our families, our city, our country. They are all beautiful to us,
and it is right that they should be.

I confess that the movement that has for its motto "See America First" has
my hearty sympathy. Not that the Rockies or the Sierras are necessarily
more beautiful than the Alps or the Missouri fairer than the Danube; we
should have no more to do here with comparisons than the man who loves his
children. He does not, before deciding that he will love them, compare
them critically with his neighbors'. If we do not love the Grand Canyon
and the Northern Rockies, the wild Sierras and the more peaceful beauties
of the Alleghenies or the Adirondacks, simply because leaving these all
unseen we prefer the lakes and mountains of foreign lands, we are like a
man who should desert his own children, whom he had never seen, to pass
his time at a moving-picture show, because he believed that he saw there
faces and forms more fair than those of his own little ones. When we sing
in our hymn of "America"

  I love thy rocks and rills
  Thy woods and templed hills,

we should be able to do it from the heart.

It is indeed fitting that we should love our country, and thrill when we
gaze at the old flag that symbolizes that love. Does this mean that when
our country makes an error we are to shut our eyes to it? Does it require
us to call wrong right and black white?

There is a sentiment with which you are all familiar, "My country, may she
ever be right; but, right or wrong, my country!"

Understood aright, these are the noblest and truest of words, but they are
commonly misinterpreted, and they have done much harm. To love and stand
by a friend who has done wrong is a fine thing; but it would be very
different to abet him in his wrong-doing and assure him that he had done
right. We may dearly love a son or a brother who is the worst of sinners,
without joining him in sin or persuading him that he is righteous.

So we may say, "Our country, right or wrong" without forfeiting the due
exercise of our judgment in deciding whether she is right or wrong, or the
privilege of exerting our utmost power to make her do right.

If she is fighting for an unrighteous cause, we should not go over to the
enemy, but we should do our best to make her cease and to make amends for
the wrong she has done.

Another thing for which the flag stands is freedom or liberty. We all are
familiar with the word. It means different things to different persons.
When hampering conditions press hard upon a man, all that he thinks of for
the moment is to be rid of them. Without them he deems that he will be
free. The freedom of which our fathers thought, for which they fought and
which they won, was freedom from government by what had become to them a
foreign power. The freedom that the black man longed for in the sixties
was freedom from slavery.

To-day men and women living in intolerable industrial conditions are
panting for freedom--the freedom that seems to them just now more
desirable than aught else in the world. All this the flag stands for, but
it stands for much more. Under its folds we are entitled to live our own
lives in the fullest way compatible with the exercise of the same
privilege by others. This includes political freedom, industrial freedom,
social freedom and all the rest. Despite much grumbling and some denials,
I believe that it is all summed up under political freedom, and that we
have it all, though we may not always take advantage of it. The people who
groan under an industrial yoke do so because they do not choose to exert
the power given them by law, under the flag, to throw it off. The
boss-ridden city is boss-ridden only because it is satisfied to be so. The
generation that is throttled by trusts and monopolies may at any time
effect a peaceful revolution. The flag gives us freedom, but even a man's
eternal salvation cannot be forced upon him against his will.

Another thing for which the flag stands is justice--the "square deal," as
it is called by one of our Presidents. To every man shall come sooner or
later, under its folds, that which he deserves. This means largely "hands
off," and is but one of the aspects of freedom, or liberty, since if we do
not interfere with a man, what happens to him is a consequence of what he
is and what he does. If we oppress him, or interfere with him, he gets
less than he merits; and if, on the contrary we coddle him and give him
privileges, he may get more than his due.

Give a man opportunity and a free path and he will achieve what is before
him in the measure of his strength. That the American Flag stands for all
this, thousands will testify who have left their native shores to live
under its folds and who have contributed here to the world's progress what
the restraints and injustice of the old world forbade then to give.

This sense of the removal of bonds, of sudden release and the entry into
free space, is well put by a poet of our own, Henry Van Dyke, when he

  So it's home again, and home again, America for me!
  My heart is turning home again, and there I long to be,
  In the land of youth and freedom beyond the ocean bars,
  Where the air is full of sunlight and the flag is full of stars.

  I know that Europe's wonderful, yet something seems to lack:
  The Past is too much with her, and the people looking back,
  But the glory of the Present is to make the Future free--
  We love our land for what she is and what she is to be.

  Oh, it's home again, and home again, America for me!
  I want a ship that's westward bound to plough the rolling sea,
  To the blessed Land of Room Enough beyond the ocean bars,
  Where the air is full of sunlight and the flag is full of stars.

Finally, the flag stands for the use of physical force where it becomes

This simple statement of facts will grieve many good people, but to omit
it would be false to the truth and dishonorable to the flag that we honor

Its origin, as we have seen, was in its service as a rallying point in
battle. We are still battling, and we still need it. And at times our
contests still inevitably take the physical form. One may earnestly pray
for peace; one may even pay his dues to the Peace Society and still
realize that to preserve peace we may have to use the sword.

Northward, across the Canadian border, good men[11] are striving even now
to keep us in peace and to assure peace to a neighbor severely torn by
internal conflict. Can any of us doubt that our good friend and
fellow-citizen--nay, can anyone doubt that our neighbors of the Southern
Continent--are doing their best to save human lives, to preserve our young
men and the young men of Mexico to build and operate machines, to raise
crops and to rebuild and beautify cities, instead of sending them to fill
soldiers' graves, as our bravest and best did in the "sixties?" And yet,
should they succeed, as God grant they may, who can doubt that what will
give strength and effect to their decisions will be the possibility of
force, exerted in a righteous cause, symbolized by the flag? Who can be
sorry that back of the flag there are earnest men; nay, that there are
ships there, and guns? One need not be a Jingo; one can hate war and love
peace with all one's heart and yet rejoice that the flag symbolizes
authority--the ability to back up a decision without which the mind itself
cannot decide in calmness and impartiality.

    [11] United States and "A-B-C" Commissions on the State of Mexico.

Surely, to say that the flag stands for the exertion of force, is only to
say that it stands for peace; for it is by force only, or by the
possibility of it, that peace is assured and maintained.

These are a few of the many things for which our flag of the Stars and
Stripes stands. We are right to doff our hats when it passes; we are right
to love it and to reverence it, for in so doing we are reverencing union,
patriotism, liberty and justice. That it shall never become an empty
symbol; that it shall never wave over a land disunited, animated by hate,
shackled by indifference and feebleness, permeated by injustice, unable to
exert that salutary strength which alone can preserve peace without and
within--this is for us to see and for our children and grandchildren. We
must not only exercise that "eternal vigilance" of which the fathers
spoke, but we must be eternally ready, eternally active. The Star-Spangled
Banner! Long may it wave over a land whose sons and daughters are both
free and brave--free because they are brave, and brave because they are
free, and both because they are true children of that eternal father
without whom both freedom and bravery are but empty names.


    [12] Read before the Chicago Woman's Club. January 6, 1915.

The change that has come over the library in the last half century may be
described, briefly but comprehensively, by saying that it has become
predominantly a social institution; that is, that its primary concern is
now with the service that it may render to society--to the people. Books,
of course, were always intended to be read, and a library would have no
meaning were it never to be used; yet in the old libraries the collection
and preservation of the books was primary and their use secondary, whereas
the modern institution exists primarily for public service, the collection
of the books, their preservation, and whatever is done to them being
directed to this end. To a social institution--a family, a school, a club,
a church or a municipality--the persons constituting it, maintaining it,
or served by it are all-important. A family without parents and children,
a school without pupils, a club without members, a church with no
congregation, a city without citizens--all are unthinkable. We may better
realize the change in our conception of the public library by noting that
it has taken its place among bodies of this type. A modern library with no
readers is unthinkable; it is no library, as we now understand the word;
though it be teeming with books, housed in a palace, well cataloged and
properly manned.

It is no longer possible to question this view of the library as a social
institution--a means of rendering general service to the widest public. We
have to deal not with theories of what the library ought to be, but, with
facts indicating what it actually is; and we have only to look about us to
realize that the facts give the fullest measure of support to what I have
just said. The library is a great distributing agency, the commodities in
which it deals being ideas and its customers the citizens at large, who
pay, through the agency of taxation, for what they receive. This
democratic and civic view of the public library's functions, however, does
not commend itself to those who are not in sympathy with democratic
ideals. In a recent address, a representative librarian refers to it as
"the commercial traveler theory" of the library. The implication, of
course, is that it is an ignoble or unworthy theory. I have no objection
to accepting the phrase, for in my mind it has no such connotation. The
commercial traveler has done the world service which the library should
emulate rather than despise. He is the advance guard of civilization. To
speak but of our own country and of its recent years, he is responsible
for much of our improvement in transit facilities and hotel
accommodations. Personally, he is becoming more and more acceptable. The
best of our educated young men are going into commerce, and in commerce
to-day no one can reach the top of the ladder who has not proved his
efficiency "on the road." Would that we could place men of his type at the
head of all our libraries!

We need not think, however, that there is anything new in the method of
distribution by personal travel. Homer employed it when he wished his
heroic verse to reach the great body of his countrymen. By personal travel
he took it to the cross-roads--just as the distributor of food and
clothing and labor-saving appliances does to-day; just as we librarians
must do if we are to democratize all literature as Homer democratized a
small part of it. Homer, if you choose to say so, adopted the
"commercial-traveler theory" of literary distribution; but I prefer to say
that the modern public library, in laying stress on the necessity of
distributing its treasures and in adopting the measures that have proved
effective in other fields, is working on the Homeric method.

Now, without the people to whom he distributed his wares, Homer would have
been dead long ago. He lives because he took his wares to his audience.
And without its public, as we have already said, the public library, too,
would soon pass into oblivion. It must look to the public for the breath
of life, for the very blood in its veins, for its bone and sinew. What,
then, is the part that the community may play in increasing the efficiency
of a public institution like the public library? Such an institution is,
first of all, a medium through which the community does something for
itself. The community employs and supports it, and at the same time is
served by it. To use another homely illustration, which I am sure will not
please those who object to comparing great things with small, this type of
relationship is precisely what we find in domestic service. A cook or a
housemaid has a dual relation to the mistress of the house, who is at the
same time her employer and the person that she directly serves. This sort
of relation does not obtain, for instance, in the case of a railroad
employe, who is responsible to one set of persons and serves another. The
public library is established and maintained by a given community in order
that it may perform certain service for that same community directly. It
seems to me that this dual relationship ought to make for efficiency. If
it does not, it is because its existence and significance are not always
realized. The cook knows that if she does not cook to suit her mistress
she will lose her job--the thing works almost automatically. If the
railroad employe does not serve the public satisfactorily there is no such
immediate reaction, although I do not deny that the public displeasure may
ultimately reach the railroad authorities and through them the employe. In
most public institutions the reaction is necessarily somewhat indirect.
The post office is a public institution, but public opinion must act on it
generally through the channels of Congressional legislation, which takes
time. Owing to this fact, very few postmen, for instance, realize that the
persons to whom they deliver letters are also their employers. In all
libraries the machinery of reaction is not the same. In St. Louis, for
instance, the library receives the proceeds of a tax voted directly by the
people; in New York City it receives an appropriation voted by the Board
of Apportionment, whose members are elected by the people. The St. Louis
Public Library is therefore one step nearer the control of the people than
the New York Public Library. If we could imagine the management of either
library to become so objectionable as to make its abolition desirable, a
petition for a special election could remove public support in St. Louis
very soon. In New York the matter might have to become an issue in a
general election, at which members of a Board of Apportionment should be
elected under pledge to vote against the library's appropriation.
Nevertheless, in both cases there is ultimate popular control. Owing to
this dual relation, the public can promote the efficiency of the library
in two ways--by controlling it properly and by its attitude toward the
service that is rendered. Every member of the public, in fact, is related
to the library somewhat as a railway stockholder, riding on a train, is
related to the company. He is at once boss and beneficiary. Let us see
first what the public can do for its library through its relation of
control. Besides the purse-strings, which we have seen are sometimes held
directly by the public and sometimes by its elected representatives, we
must consider the governing board of the institution--its trustees or
directors. These may be elected by the people or appointed by an elected
officer, such as the mayor, or chosen by an elected body, such as the city
council or the board of education.

Let us take the purse-strings first. Does your public library get enough
public money to enable it to do the work that it ought to do? What is the
general impression about this in the community? What does the library
board think? What does the librarian think? What do the members of his
staff say? What has the library's annual report to say about it? It is not
at all a difficult matter for the citizen to get information on this
subject and to form his own opinion regarding it. Yet it is an unusual
thing to find a citizen who has either the information or a
well-considered opinion. The general impression always seems to be that
the library has plenty of money--rather more, in fact, than it can
legitimately use. It is probably well for the library, under these
circumstances, that the public control of its purse-strings is indirect.
If the citizens of an average American city had to go to the polls
annually and vote their public library an appropriation, I am sure that
most libraries would have to face a very material reduction of their

The trouble about this impression is that it is gained without knowledge
of the facts. If a majority of the citizens, understanding how much work a
modern public library is expected to do and how their own library does it,
should deliberately conclude that its management was extravagant, and that
its expenditure should be cut down, the minority would have nothing to do,
as good citizens, but submit. The citizens have nothing to say as directly
as this, but the idea, so generally held, that libraries are well off,
does operate in the long run to limit library appropriations and to
prevent the library from doing much useful work that it might do and ought
to do.

It is then, every citizen's business, as I conceive it, to inform himself
or herself of the work that the public library is doing, of that which it
is leaving undone, and of the possibilities of increased appropriations.
If the result is a realization that the library appropriation is
inadequate, that realization should take the form of a statement that will
sooner or later reach the ears, and tend to stimulate the action, of those
directly responsible. And it should, above all, aid in the formation of a
sound public opinion. Ours is, we are told, a government of public
opinion. Such government will necessarily be good or bad as public opinion
is based on matured judgment or only on fleeting impressions.

Inadequacy of support is responsible for more library delinquency than the
average citizen imagines. Many a librarian is deservedly condemned for the
unsatisfactory condition of his institution when his fault is not, as his
detractors think, failure to see what should be done, or lack of ability
to do it, so much as inability to raise funds to do it with. This is
doubtless a fault, and its possessor should suffer, but how about the
equally guilty accessories? How about the city authorities who have failed
to vote the library adequate support? How about the board of trustees who
have accepted such a situation without protest? And what is more to our
purpose here, how about the citizens who have limited their efforts to
pointing out the cracks in the edifice, with not a bit of constructive
work in propping it up and making possible its restoration to strength and

In conversation with a friend, not long ago, I referred to the financial
limitations of our library's work, and said that we could add to it
greatly and render more acceptable service if our income were larger. He
expressed great surprise, and said: "Why, I thought you had all the money
you want; your income must be all of $100,000 a year." Now, our income
actually is about $250,000, but how could I tell him that? I judiciously
changed the subject.

Let us look next, if you please, at the library board and examine some of
its functions. There appears to be much public misapprehension of the
duties of this body, and such misapprehension assumes various and opposing
forms. Some appear to think that the librarian is responsible for all that
is done in the library and that his board is a perfunctory body. Others
seem to believe that the board is the direct administrative head of the
library, in all of its working details and that the librarian is its
executive in the limited sense of doing only those things that he is told
to do. Unfortunately there are libraries that are operated in each of
these ways, but neither one relationship nor the other, nor any
modification of either, is the ideal one between a librarian and his
board. The board is supreme, of course, but it is a body of non-experts
who have employed an expert to bring about certain results. They ought to
know what they want, and what they have a right to expect, and if their
expert does not give them this, the relation between him and them should
terminate; but if they are men of sense they will not attempt to dictate
methods or supervise details. They are the delegated representatives of
the great public, which owns the library and operates it for a definite
purpose. It is this function of the board as the representative of the
public that should be emphasized here. Has the public a definite idea of
what it wants from the public library, and of what is reasonable for it to
ask? If so, is it satisfied that it is represented by a board that is of
the same mind? The citizens may be assured that the composition of the
library board rests ultimately upon its will. If the board is elective,
this is obvious; if appointive, the appointing officer or body would
hardly dare to go counter to the expressed desire of the citizens.

What has been said above may be put into a very few words. The public
library is public property, owned and controlled by the citizens. Every
citizen, therefore, should be interested in setting standards for it and
playing his part toward making it conform to them--in seeing that its
governing body represents him in also recognizing those standards and
trying to maintain them--in laboring for such a due apportionment of the
public funds as shall not make an attempt to live up to such standards a
mere farce.

So much for the things that the citizen can and should do in his capacity
of library boss. His possibilities as a beneficiary are still more
interesting and valuable.

Perhaps you remember the story of the man who attempted to board the
warship and, on being asked his business, replied, "I'm one of the
owners." One version of the tale then goes on to relate how the sailor
thus addressed picked up a splinter from the deck, and, handing it to the
visitor, remarked: "Well, I guess that's about your share. Take it and get

I have always sympathized with the sailor rather than with his visitor.
Most of us librarians have had experiences with these bumptious "owners"
of public property. The fact has already been noted that in a case like
this the citizen is both an owner and a beneficiary. He has duties and
privileges in both capacities, but he sometimes acts the owner in the
wrong place. The man on the warship was doubtless an owner, but at that
particular moment he was only a visitor, subject to whatever rules might
govern visitors; and he should have acted as such. Every citizen is a part
owner of the public library; he should never forget that fact. We have
seen how he may effectively assert his ownership and control. But when he
enters the library to use it his role is that of beneficiary, and he
should act as such. He may so act and at the same time be of the greatest
service to the institution which he, as a member of the public, has
created and is maintaining.

I know of no way in which a man may show his good citizenship or the
reverse--may either demonstrate his ability and willingness to live and
work in community harness, or show that he is fit for nothing but
individual wild life in the woods--better than in his use of such a public
institution as a library. The man who cannot see that what he gets from
such an institution must necessarily be obtained at the price of
sacrifice--that others in the community are also entitled to their share,
and that sharing always means yielding--that man has not yet learned the
first lesson in the elements of civic virtue. And when one sees a thousand
citizens, each of whom would surely raise his voice in protest if the
library were to waste public money by buying a thousand copies of the
latest novel, yet find fault with the library because each cannot borrow
it before all the others, one is tempted to wonder whether we really have
here a thousand bad citizens or whether their early education in
elementary arithmetic has been neglected.

Before the present era there were regulations in all institutions that
seemed to be framed merely to exasperate--to put the public in its place
and chasten its spirit. There are now no such rules in good libraries. He
who thinks there are may find that there is a difference of opinion
between him and those whom he has set in charge of the library regarding
what is arbitrary and what is necessary; but at any rate he will discover
that the animating spirit of modern library authority is to give all an
equal share in what it has to offer, and to restrain one man no more than
is necessary to insure to his brother the measure of privilege to which
all are equally entitled.

Another way in which the citizen, in his capacity of the library's
beneficiary, can aid it and improve its service is his treatment of its
administrators. Librarians are very human: they react quickly and surely
to praise or blame, deserved or undeserved. Blame is what they chiefly
get. Sometimes they deserve it and sometimes not. But the occasions on
which some citizen steps in and says, "Well done, good and faithful
servant," are rare indeed. The public servant has to interpret silence as
praise; so sure is he that the least slip will be caught and condemned by
a vigilant public. No one can object to discriminating criticism; it is a
potent aid to good administration. Mere petulant fault-finding, however,
especially if based on ignorance or misapprehension, does positive harm.
And a little discriminating praise, now and then, is a wonderful
stimulant. No service is possible without the men and women who render it;
and the quality of service depends, more than we often realize, on the
spirit and temper of a staff--something that is powerfully affected,
either for good or for evil, by public action and public response.

Years ago, at a branch library in a distant city, a reader stood at the
counter and complained loudly because the library would not send her a
postal reserve notice unless she defrayed the cost, which was one cent.
The assistant to whom she was talking had no option in the matter and was
merely enforcing a rule common, so far as I know, to all American public
libraries; but she had to bear the brunt of the reader's displeasure,
which she did meekly, as it was all in the day's work. The time occupied
in this useless business spelled delay to half a dozen other readers, who
were waiting their turn. Finally, one of them, a quiet little old lady in
black, spoke up as follows: "Some of us hereabouts think that we owe a
great debt of gratitude to this library. Its assistants have rendered
service to us that we can never repay. I am glad to have an opportunity to
do something in return, and it therefore gives me pleasure to pay the cent
about which you are taking up this young lady's time, and ours." So
saying, she laid the coin on the desk and the line moved on. I have always
remembered these two points of view as typical of two kinds of library
users. Their respective effects on the temper and work of a library staff
need, I am sure, no explanation.

In what I have said, which is such a small fraction of what might be said,
that I am almost ashamed to offer it to you, I have in truth only been
playing the variations on one tune, which is--Draw closer to the library,
as it is trying to draw closer to you. There is no such thing, physicists
tell us, as a one-sided force. Every force is but one aspect of a stress,
which includes also an equal and opposing force. Any two interacting
things in this world are either approaching each other or receding from
each other. So it should be with library and public. A forward movement on
the one hand should necessarily involve one to meet it.

The peculiarity of our modern temper is our hunger for facts--our
confidence that when the facts are known we shall find a way to deal with
them, and that until the facts are known we shall not be able to act--not
even to think. Our ancestors thought and acted sometimes on premises that
seem to us frightfully flimsy--they tried, as Dean Swift painted them in
his immortal satire, to get sunbeams from cucumbers. There are some
sunbeam-chasers among us to-day, but even they recognize the need of real
cucumbers to start with; the imaginary kind will not do. I recently heard
a great teacher of medicine say that the task of the modern physician is
merely to ascertain the facts on which the intelligent public is to act.
How different that sounds from the dicta of the medicine of a past
generation! It is the same everywhere: we are demanding an accurate
survey--an ascertainment of the facts in any field in which action, based
on inference and judgment, is seen to be necessary. Now the library is
nothing more nor less than a storehouse of recorded facts. It is becoming
so more truly and more fully every day, thereby adjusting itself to the
modern temper of which I have already spoken. The library and its users
are coming more closely together, in sympathy, in aims and in action, than
ever before--partly a result and partly a justification for that Homeric
method of popularizing it which has been characterized and condemned as
commercial. The day when the librarian, or the professor, or the clergyman
could retire into his tower and hold aloof from the vulgar herd is past.
The logical result of such an attitude is now being worked out on the
continent of Europe. Not civilizations, as some pessimists are lamenting,
but the forces antagonistic to civilization are there destroying one
another, and there is hope that a purified democracy will arise from the
wreckage. May our American civilization never have to run the gantlet of
such a terrible trial! Meanwhile, there can be no doubt that the hope for
the future efficiency of all our public institutions, including the
library, lies in the success of democracy, and that depends on the
existence and improvement of the conditions in whose absence democracy
necessarily fails. Foremost among these is the homogeneity of the
population. The people among whom democracy succeeds must have similar
standards, ideas, aims and abilities. Democracy may exist in a pack of
wolves, but not in a group that is half wolves and half men. Either the
wolves will kill the men or the men the wolves. This is an extreme case,
but it is true in general that in a community made up of irreconcilable
elements there can be no true democracy. And the same oneness of vision
and purpose that conduces to the success of democracy will also bring to
perfection such great democratic institutions as the library, which have
already borne such noteworthy fruit among us just because we are
homogeneous beyond all other nations on the earth. And here progress is by
action and reaction, as we see it so often in the world. The unity of aims
and abilities that makes democracy and democratic institutions possible is
itself facilitated and increased by the work of those institutions. The
more work the library does, the more its ramifications multiply, and the
further they extend, the more those conditions are favored that make the
continuance of the library possible. In working for others, it is working
for itself, and every additional bit of strength and sanity that it takes
on does but enable it to work for others the more. And if the democracy
whose servant it is will but realize that it has grown up as a part of
that American system to which we are all committed--to which we owe all
that we are and in which we must place all our hopes for the future--then
neither democracy nor library will have aught to fear. Democracy will have
its "true and laudable" service from the library, and the library in its
turn will have adequate sympathy, aid and support from the people.

It is no accident that I make this appeal for sympathy and aid to a club
composed of women. The bonds between the modern public library and the
modern woman's club have been particularly strong in this country. The two
institutions have grown up together, making their way against suspicion,
contempt and hostility, aided by the same public demand, and now, when
both are recognized as elements in the intellectual strength of our
nation, they are rendering mutual service. The club turns to the library
daily. Hitherto the library has turned to the club only in some
emergency--a bill to be passed, an appropriation to be made, an
administration to be purified. I have tried to show you how, apart from
these great services, which no one would think of minimizing, the women of
this country, as citizens, can uphold the hands of the library daily. Ours
is a government of public opinion, and in the formation of that opinion
there is no more powerful element than the sentiment of our women,
especially when organized in such bodies as yours.

"To be aristocratic in taste and democratic in service," says Bliss Perry,
"is the privilege and glory of the public library." In appealing thus to
both your aristocracy and your democracy, I feel, then, that I have not
gone astray.


    [13] Read before the New York Library Association at Squirrel Inn,
         Haines Falls, September 28, 1915.

The modern American mind, like modern America, itself, is a melting pot.
We are taking men and women of all races and fusing them into Americans.
In the same way we are taking points of view, ideas, standards and modes
of action from whatever source we find them, combining them and fusing
them into what will one day become American thoughts and standards. We are
thus combining the most varied and opposing things--things that it would
seem impossible to put together. Take our modern American tendency in
government, for instance. Could there be two things more radically
different than despotism and democracy?--the rule of the one and the rule
of the many? And yet I believe that we are taking steps toward a very
successful combination of the two. Such a combination is essentially
ancient. No despotism can hold its own without the consent of the
governed. That consent may be unwilling and sooner or later it is then
withheld, with the result that a revolution takes place and the despot
loses his throne--the oldest form of the recall. Every despotism is thus
tempered by revolution, and Anglo-Saxon communities have been ready to
exercise such a privilege on the slightest sign that a despotic tendency
was creeping into their government.

It is not remarkable, then, that our own Federal government, which is
essentially a copy of the British government of its day, should have
incorporated this feature of the recall, which in England had just passed
from its revolutionary to its legal stage. It was beginning to be
recognized then that a vote of the people's representatives could recall a
monarch, and the English monarchy is now essentially elective. But to make
assurance doubly sure, the British government, in its later evolution, has
been practically separated from the monarch's person, and any government
may be simply overthrown or "recalled" by a vote of lack of confidence in
the House of Commons, followed, if need be, by a defeat in a general
election. We have not yet adopted this feature. Our President is still the
head of our government, and he and all other elected Federal officers
serve their terms out, no matter whether the people have confidence in
them or not. But the makers of our Constitution improved on the British
government as they found it. They made the term of the executive four
years instead of life and systematized the "recall" by providing for
impeachment proceedings--a plan already recognized in Britain in the case
of certain administrative and judicial officers.

As it stands at present we have a temporary elective monarch with more
power, even nominally, than most European constitutional monarchs and more
actually than many so-called absolute monarchs such as the Czar or the
Sultan. In case he should abuse the power that we have given him, he may
be removed from office after due trial, by our elected representatives.

In following out these ideas in later years, we are gradually evolving a
form of government that is both more despotic and more democratic. We are
combining the legislative and executive power in the hands of a few
persons, hampering them very little in their exercise of it, and making it
possible to recall them by direct vote of the body of citizens that
elected them. I think we may describe the tendency of public thought in
governmental matters as a tendency toward a despotism under legalized
democratic control. It may be claimed, I think, that the best features of
despotism and democracy may thus be utilized, with a minimum of the evils
of each.

It was believed by the ancients, and we frequently see it stated today,
that the ideal government would he government by a perfectly good despot.
This takes the citizens into account only as persons who are governed, and
not as persons who govern or help to govern. It is pleasant, perhaps, to
have plenty of servants to wait upon one, but surely health, physical,
mental and moral, waits on him who does most things for himself. I once
heard Lincoln Steffens say: "What we want is not 'Good Government'; it is
_Self_-Government." But is it not possible to get the advantage of
government by a few, with its possibilities of continuous policy and its
freedom from "crowd-psychology," with its skillful utilization of expert
knowledge, while admitting the public to full knowledge of what is going
on, and full ultimate control of it? We evidently think so, and our present
tendencies are evidence that we are attempting something of the kind. Our
belief seems to be that if we elect our despot and are able to recall him
we shall have to keep tab on him pretty closely, and that the knowledge of
statecraft that will thus be necessary to us will be no less than if we
personally took part in legislation and administration--probably far more
than if we simply went through the form of delegating our responsibilities
and then took no further thought, as most of us have been accustomed to do.

Whether this is the right view or not--whether it is workable--the future
will show; I am here discussing tendencies, not their ultimate outcome.
But it would be too much to expect that this or any other eclectic policy
should be pleasing to all.

"The real problem of collectivism," says Walter Lippmann, "is the
difficulty of combining popular control with administrative power.... The
conflict between democracy and centralized authority ... is the line upon
which the problems of collectivism will be fought out."

In selecting elements from both despotism and democracy we are displeasing
the adherents of both. There is too much despotism in the plan for one
side and too much democracy for the other. We constantly hear the
complaint that concentrated responsibility with popular control is too
despotic, and at the same time the criticism that it is too democratic. To
put your city in the hands of a small commission, perhaps of a city
manager, seems to some to be a return to monarchy; and so perhaps it is.
To give Tom, Dick and Harry the power to unseat these monarchs at will is
said to be dangerously socialistic; and possibly it is. Only it is
possible that by combining these two poisons--this acid and this
alkali--in the same pill, we are neutralizing their harmful qualities. At
any rate this would seem to be the idea on which we are now proceeding.

We may now examine the effects of this tendency toward eclecticism in
quite a different field--that of morals. Among the settlers of our country
were both Puritans and Cavaliers--representatives in England of two moral
standards that have contended there for centuries and still exist there
side by side. We in America are attempting to mix them with some measure
of success. This was detected by the German lady of whom Mr. Bryce tells
in his "American Commonwealth," who said that American women were
"_furchtbar frei und furchtbar fromm_"--frightfully free and frightfully
pious! In other words they are trying to mix the Cavalier and Puritan
standards. Of course those who do not understand what is going on think
that we are either too free or too pious. We are neither; we are trying to
give and accept freedom in cases where freedom works for moral efficiency
and restraint where restraint is indicated. We have not arrived at a final
standard. We may not do so. This effort at mixture, like all our others,
may fail; but there appears to be no doubt that we are making it. To take
an obvious instance, I believe that we are trying, with some success, to
combine ease of divorce with a greater real regard for the sanctity of
marriage. We have found that if marriage is made absolutely indissoluble,
there will be greater excuse for disregarding the marriage vow than if
there are legal ways of dissolving it.

Americans are shocked at Europeans when they allude in ordinary
conversation to infractions of the moral code that they treat as trivial.
They on the other hand are shocked when we talk of divorce for what they
consider insufficient causes. In the former case we seem to them
"frightfully pious"; in the latter, "frightfully free." They are right; we
are both; it is only another instance of our tendency towards eclecticism,
this time in moral standards.

In some directions we find that this tendency to eclecticism is working
toward a combination not of two opposite things, but of a hundred
different ones. Take our art for instance, especially as manifested in our
architecture. A purely native town in Italy, Arabia, or Africa, or Mexico,
has its own atmosphere; no one could mistake one for the other any more
than he could mistake a beaver dam for an ant hill or a bird's nest for a
woodchuck hole.

But in an American city, especially where we have enough money to let our
architects do their utmost, we find streets where France, England, Italy,
Spain, Holland, Arabia and India all stand elbow to elbow, and the
European visitor knows not whether to laugh or to make a hasty visit to
his nerve-specialist. It seems all right to us, and it _is_ all right from
the standpoint of a nation that is yet in the throes of eclecticism. And
our other art--painting, sculpture, music--it is all similarly mixed. Good
of its kind, often; but we have not yet settled down to the kind that we
like best--the kind in which we are best fitted to do something that will
live through the ages.

We used to think for instance that in music the ordinary diatonic major
scale, with its variant minor, was a fact of nature. We knew vaguely that
the ancient Greeks had other scales, and we knew also that the Chinese and
the Arabs had scales so different that their music was generally
displeasing to us. But we explained this by saying that our scale was
natural and right and that the others were antiquated, barbaric and wrong.
Now we are opening our arms to the exotic scales and devising a few of our
own. We have the tonal and the semi-tonal scales and we are trying to make
use of the Chinese, Arabic and Hindu modes. We are producing results that
sound very odd to ears that are attuned to the old-fashioned music, but
our eclecticism here as elsewhere is cracking the shell of prejudice and
will doubtless lead to some good end, though perhaps we can not see it

How about education? In the first place there are, as I read the history
of education, two main methods of training youth--the individual method
and the class method. No two boys or girls are alike; no two have like
reactions to the same stimulus. Each ought to have a separate teacher, for
the methods to be employed must be adapted especially to the material on
which we have to work. This means a separate tutor for every child.

On the other hand, the training that we give must be social--must prepare
for life with and among one's fellow beings, otherwise it is worthless.
This means training in class, with and among other students, where each
mind responds not to the teacher's alone but to those of its fellow

Here are two irreconcilable requirements. In our modern systems of
education we are trying to respond to them as best we may, teaching in
class and at the same time giving each pupil as much personal attention as
we can. The tutorial system, now employed in Princeton University, is an
interesting example of our efforts as applied to the higher education.

At the same time, eclecticism in our choice of subjects is very manifest,
and at times our success here seems as doubtful as our mixture of
architectural styles. In the old college days, not so very long ago,
Latin, Greek, and mathematics made up the curriculum. Now our boys choose
from a thousand subjects grouped in a hundred courses. In our common
schools we have introduced so many new subjects as to crowd the
curriculum. Signs of a reaction are evident. I am alluding to the matter
here only as another example of our modern passion for wide selection and
for the combination of things that apparently defy amalgamation.

What of religion? Prof. George E. Woodberry, in his interesting book on
North Africa, says in substance that there are only two kinds of religion,
the simple and the complex. Mohammedanism he considers a simple religion,
like New England Puritanism, with which he thinks it has points in common.
Both are very different from Buddhism, for instance. Accepting for the
moment his classification I believe that the facts show an effort to
combine the two types in the United States. Many of the Christian
denominations that Woodberry would class as "simple"--those that began
with a total absence of ritual, are becoming ritualized. Creeds once
simple are becoming complicated with interpretation and comment. On the
other hand we may see in the Roman Catholic Church and among the so-called
"High Church" Episcopalians a disposition to adopt some of the methods
that have hitherto distinguished other religious bodies. Consider, for
example, some of the religious meetings held by the Paulist Fathers in New
York, characterized by popular addresses and the singing of simple hymns.
As another example of the eclectic spirit of churches in America we may
point to the various efforts at combination or unity, with such results as
the Federation of the Churches of Christ in America--an ambitious name,
not yet justified by the facts--the proposed amalgamation of several of
the most powerful Protestant bodies in Canada, and the accomplished fact
of the University of Toronto--an institution whose constituent colleges
are controlled by different religious denominations, including the Roman
Catholic Church. I may also mention the present organization of the New
York Public Library, many of whose branch libraries were contributions
from religious denominations, including the Jews, the Catholics and the
Episcopalians. All these now work together harmoniously. I know of nothing
of this kind on any other continent, and I think we shall be justified in
crediting it to the present American tendency to eclecticism.

Turn for a moment to philosophy. What is the philosophical system most
widely known at present as American? Doubtless the pragmatism of William
James. No one ever agreed with anyone else in a statement regarding
philosophy, and I do not expect you to agree with me in this; but
pragmatism seems to me essentially an eclectic system. It is based on the
character of results. Is something true or false? I will tell you when I
find out whether it works practically or not. Is something right or wrong?
I rely on the same test. Now it seems to me that this is the scheme of the
peasant in later Rome, who was perfectly willing to appeal to Roman Juno
or Egyptian Isis or Phoenician Moloch, so long as he got what he wanted.
If a little bit of Schopenhauer works, and some of Fichte; a piece of
Christianity and a part of Vedantism, it is all grist to the mill of
pragmatism. Any of it that works must of necessity be right and true. I am
not criticizing this, or trying to controvert it; I am merely asserting
that it leads to eclecticism; and this, I believe, explains its vogue in
the United States.

It would be impossible to give, in the compass of a brief address, a list
of all the domains in which this eclecticism--this tendency to select,
combine and blend--has cropped out among us Americans of today. I have
reserved for the last that in which we are particularly interested--the
Public Library, in which we may see it exemplified in an eminent degree.
The public library in America has blossomed out into a different thing, a
wider thing, a combination of more different kinds of things, than in any
other part of the world. Foreign librarians and foreign library users look
at us askance. They wonder at the things we are trying to combine under
the activities of one public institution; they shudder at our
extravagance. They wonder that our tax-payers do not rebel when they are
compelled to foot the bills for what we do. But the taxpayers do not seem
to mind. They frequently complain, but not about what we are doing. What
bothers them is that we do not try to do more. When we began timidly to
add branch libraries to our system they asked us why we did not build and
equip them faster; when we placed a few books on open shelves they
demanded that we treat our whole stock in the same way; when we set aside
a corner for the children they forced us to fit up a whole room and to
place such a room in every building, large or small. We have responded to
every such demand. Each response has cost money and the public has paid
the bill. Apparently librarians and public are equally satisfied. We
should not be astonished, for this merely shows that the library is
subject to the same laws and tendencies as all other things American.

Hence it comes about that whereas in a large library a century ago there
were simply stored books with no appliances to do anything but keep them
safe, we now find in library buildings all sorts of devices to facilitate
the quick and efficient use of the books both in the building and in the
readers' homes, together with other devices to stimulate a desire to use
books among those who have not yet felt it; to train children to use and
love books; to interest the public in things that will lead to the use of
books. This means that many of the things in a modern library seem to an
old-fashioned librarian and an old-fashioned reader like unwarranted
extensions or even usurpations. In our own Central building you will find
collections of postal cards and specimens of textile fabrics, an index to
current lectures, exhibitions and concerts, a public writing-room, with
free note-paper and envelopes, a class of young women studying to be
librarians, meeting places for all sorts of clubs and groups, civic,
educational, social, political and religious; a bindery in full operation,
a photographic copying-machine; lunch-rooms and rest-rooms for the staff;
a garage, with an automobile in it, a telephone switchboard, a paintshop,
a carpenter-shop, and a power-plant of considerable capacity. Not one of
these things I believe, would you have found in a large library fifty
years ago. And yet the citizens of St. Louis seem to be cheerful and are
not worrying over the future. We are eclectic, but we are choosing the
elements of our blend with some discretion and we have been able, so far,
to relate them all to books, to the mental activities that are stimulated
by books and that produce more books, to the training that instils into
the rising generation a love for books. The book is still at the
foundation of the library, even if its walls have received some
architectural embellishment of a different type.

When anyone objects to the introduction into the library of what the
colleges call "extra-curriculum activities," I prefer to explain and
justify it in this larger way, rather than to take up each activity by
itself and discuss its reasonableness--though this also may be undertaken
with the hope of success. In developing as it has done, the Library in the
United States of America has not been simply obeying some law of its own
being; it has been following the whole stream of American development. You
can call it a drift if you like; but the Library has not been simply
drifting. The swimmer in a rapid stream may give up all effort and submit
to be borne along by the current, or he may try to get somewhere. In so
doing, he may battle with the current and achieve nothing but fatigue, or
he may use the force of the stream, as far as he may, to reach his own
goal. I like to think that this is what many American institutions are
doing, our libraries among them. They are using the present tendency to
eclecticism in an effort toward wider public service. When, in a
community, there seems to be a need for doing some particular thing, the
library, if it has the equipment and the means, is doing that thing
without inquiring too closely whether there is logical justification for
linking it with the library's activities rather than with some others.
Note, now, how this desirable result is aided by our prevailing American
tendency toward eclecticism. Suppose precisely the same conditions to
obtain in England, or France, or Italy, the admitted need for some
activity, the ability of the library and the inability of any other
institution, to undertake it. I submit that the library would be extremely
unlikely to move in the matter, simply from the lack of the tendency that
we are discussing. That tendency gives a flexibility, almost a fluidity,
which under a pressure of this kind, yields and ensures an outlet for
desirable energy along a line of least resistance.

The Englishman and the American, when they are arguing a case of this
kind, assume each the condition of affairs that obtains in his own
land--the rigidity on the one hand, the fluidity on the other. They assume
it without stating it or even thoroughly understanding it, and the result
is that neither can understand the conclusions of the other. The fact is
that they are both right. I seriously question whether it would be right
or proper for a library in a British community to do many of the things
that libraries are doing in American communities. I may go further and say
that the rigidity of British social life would make it impossible for the
library to achieve these things. But it is also true that the fluidity of
American social life makes it equally impossible for the library to
withstand the pressure that is brought to bear on it here. To yield is in
its case right and proper and a failure of response would be wrong and

It is usually assumed by the British critic of American libraries that
their peculiarities are due to the temperament of the American librarian.
We make a similar assumption when we discuss British libraries. I do not
deny that the librarians on both sides have had something to do with it,
but the determining factor has been the social and temperamental
differences between the two peoples. Americans are fluid, experimental,
eclectic, and this finds expression in the character of their institutions
and in the way these are administered and used.

Take if you please the reaction of the library on the two sides of the
water to the inevitable result of opening it to home-circulation--the
necessity of knowing whether a given book is or is not on the shelves. The
American response was to open the shelves, the British, to create an
additional piece of machinery--the indicator. These two results might have
been predicted in advance by one familiar with the temper of the two
peoples. It has shown itself in scores of instances, in the front yards of
residences, for instance--walled off in England and open to the street in
the United States.

I shall be reminded, I suppose, that there are plenty of open shelves in
English libraries and that the open shelf is gaining in favor. True;
England is becoming "Americanized" in more respects than this one. But I
am speaking of the immediate reaction to the stimulus of popular demand,
and this was as I have stated it. In each case the reaction, temporarily
at least, satisfied the demand; showing that the difference was not of
administrative habit alone, but of community feeling.

This rapid review of modern American tendencies, however confusing the
impression that it may give, will at any rate convince us, I think, of one
thing--the absurdity of objecting to anything whatever on the ground that
it is un-American. We are the most receptive people in the world. We "take
our good things where we find them," and what we take becomes "American"
as soon as it gets into our hands. And yet, if anything new does not
happen to suit any of us, the favorite method of attack is to denounce it
as "un-American." Pretty nearly every element of our present social fabric
has been thus denounced, at one time or another, and as it goes on
changing, every change is similarly attacked.

The makers of our Constitution were good conservative Americans--much too
conservative, some of our modern radicals say--yet they provided for
altering that Constitution, and set absolutely no limits on the
alterations that might be made, provided that they were made in the manner
specified in the instrument. We can make over our government into a
monarchy tomorrow, if we want, or decree that no one in Chicago shall wear
a silk hat on New Year's Day. It was recently the fashion to complain that
the amendment of the Constitution has become so difficult as to be now
practically a dead letter. And yet we have done so radical a thing as to
change absolutely the method of electing senators of the United States;
and we did it as easily and quietly as buying a hat--vastly more easily
than changing a cook. The only obstacle to changing our Constitution, no
matter how radically and fundamentally, is the opposition of the people
themselves. As soon as they want the change, it comes quickly and simply.
Changes like these are not un-American if the American people like them
well enough to make them. They, and they alone, are the judges of what
peculiarities they shall adopt as their own customs and characteristics.
So that when we hear that this or that is un-American, we may agree only
in so far as it is not yet an American characteristic. That we do not care
for it today is no sign that we may not take up with it tomorrow, and it
is no legitimate argument against our doing so, if we think proper.

And now what does this all mean? The pessimist will tell us, doubtless,
that it is a sign of decadence. It does remind us a little of the later
days of the Roman empire when the peoples of the remotest parts of the
known world, with their arts, customs and manners, were all to be found in
the imperial city--when the gods of Greece, Syria and Egypt were
worshipped side by side with those of old Rome, where all sorts of exotic
art, philosophy, literature and politics took root and flourished. That is
usually regarded as a period of decadence, and it was certainly a
precursor of the empire's fall. When we consider that it was
contemporaneous with great material prosperity and with the spread of
luxury and a certain loosening of the moral fiber, such as we are
experiencing in America today, we can not help feeling a little perturbed.
Yet there is another way of looking at it. A period of this sort is often
only a period of readjustment. The Roman empire as a political entity went
out of existence long ago, but Rome's influence on our art, law,
literature and government is still powerful. Her so-called "fall" was
really not a fall but a changing into something else. In fact, if we take
Bergson's view-point--which it seems to me is undoubtedly the true one,
the thing we call Rome was never anything else but a process of change. At
the time of which we speak the visible part of the change was
accelerated--that is all. In like manner each one of you as an individual
is not a fixed entity. You are changing every instant and the reality
about you is the change, not what you see with the eye or photograph with
the camera--that is merely a stage through which you pass and in which you
do not stay--not for the thousand millionth part of the smallest
recognizable instant. So our current American life and thought is not
something that stands still long enough for us to describe it. Even as we
write the description it has changed to another phase. And the phenomena
of transition just now are particularly noticeable--that is all. We may
call them decadent or we may look upon them as the beginnings of a new and
more glorious national life.

"The size and intricacy which we have to deal with," says Walter Lippmann,
"have done more than anything else, I imagine, to wreck the simple
generalizations of our ancestors."

This is quite true, and so, in place of simplicity we are introducing
complexity, very largely by selection and combination of simple elements
evolved in former times to fit earlier conditions. Whether organic
relations can be established among these elements, so that there shall one
day issue from the welter something well-rounded, something American,
fitting American conditions and leading American aspirations forward and
upward, is yet on the knees of the gods. We, the men and women of America,
and may I not say, we, the Librarians of America, can do much to direct
the issue.


    [14] A Commencement address to the graduating class of the School
         of Pharmacy, St. Louis, May 19, 1915.

The graduation of a class of technically trained persons is an event of
special moment. When we send forth graduates from our schools and colleges
devoted to general education, while the thought of failure may be
disquieting or embarrassing, we know that no special danger can result,
except to the man who has failed. The college graduate who has neglected
his opportunities has thrown away a chance, but he is no menace to his
fellows. Affairs take on a different complexion in the technical or
professional school. The poorly trained engineer, physician or lawyer, is
an injury to the community. Failure to train an engineer may involve the
future failure of a structure, with the loss of many lives. Failure to
train a doctor means that we turn loose on the public one who will kill
oftener than he will cure. Failure to train a lawyer means wills that can
be broken, contracts that will not hold, needless litigation.

Congressman Kent, of California, has coined a satisfactory word for this
sort of thing--he calls it "mal-employment." Unemployment is a bad thing.
We have seen plenty of it here during the past winter. But Kent says, and
he is right, that malemployment is a worse thing. All these poor engineers
and doctors and lawyers are busily engaged, and every thing on the surface
seems to be going on well. But as a matter of fact, the world would be
better off if each one of them should stop working and never do another
stroke. It would pay the community to support them in idleness.

I have always considered pharmacy to be one of the occupations in which
malemployment is particularly objectionable. If you read Homer badly it
affects no one but yourself. If you think Vera Cruz is in Italy and that
the Amazon River runs into the Arctic Ocean, your neighbor is as well off
as before; but if you are under the impression that strychnine is aspirin,
you have failed in a way that is more than personal.

I am dwelling on these unpleasant possibilities partly for the reason that
the Egyptians displayed a skeleton at their banquets--because warnings are
a tonic to the soul--but also because, if we are to credit much that we
see in general literature, including especially the daily paper and the
popular magazine, _all_ druggists are malemployed. And if it would really
be better for the community that you should not enter upon the profession
for which you have been trained, now, of course, is the time for you to
know it.

There seems to be a widespread impression--an assumption--that the day of
the drug is over--that the therapeutic of the future are to be concerned
along with hygiene and sanitation, with physical exercise, diet, and
mechanical operations. The very word "drug" has come to have an
objectionable connection that did not belong to it fifty years ago. Even
some of the druggists themselves, it seems to me, are a little ashamed of
the drug part of their occupation. Their places of business appear to be
news-agencies, refreshment parlors, stationery stores--the drugs are "on
the side," or rather in the rear. Sometimes, I am told, the proprietors of
these places know nothing at all about pharmacy, but employ a prescription
clerk who is a capable pharmacist. Here the druggist has stepped down from
his former position as the manager of a business and has become a servant.
All of which looks to me as if the pharmacist himself might be beginning
to accept the valuation that some people are putting upon his services to
the community.

Now these things affect me, not as a physician nor as a pharmacist, for I
am neither, but they do touch me as a student of physics and chemistry and
as one whose business and pleasure it has been for many years to watch the
development of these and other sciences. The fact that I am addressing you
this evening may be taken, I suppose, as evidence that you may be
interested in this point of view. The action of most substances on the
human organism is a function of their chemical constitution. Has that
chemical constitution changed? It is one of the most astonishing
discoveries of our age that many, perhaps all, substances undergo
spontaneous disintegration, giving rise to the phenomena now well known as
"radio-activity." No substances ordinarily known and used in pharmacy,
however, possess this quality in measurable degree, and we have no reason
to suppose that the alkaloids, for instance, or the salts of potash or
iron, differ today in any respect from those of a century ago. How about
the other factor in the reaction--the human organism and its properties?
That our bodily properties have changed in the past admits of no doubt. We
have developed up to the point where we are at present. Here, however,
evolution seems to have left us, and it is now devoting its attention
exclusively to our mental and moral progress. Judging from what is now
going on upon the continent of Europe, much remains to be accomplished.
But there is no reason to believe that if Caesar or Hannibal had taken a
dose of opium, or ipecac, or aspirin, the effect would have been different
from that experienced today by one of you. This is what a physicist or a
chemist would expect. If the action of a drug on the organism is chemical,
and if neither the drug nor the organism has changed, the action must be
the same. If we still desire to bring about the action and if there is no
better way to do it, we must use the drug, and there is still need for the
druggist. As a matter of fact, the number of drugs at your disposal today
is vastly greater than ever before, largely owing to the labor, and the
ingenuity, of the analytical chemist. And there are still great classes of
compounds of whose existence the chemist is assured, but which he has not
even had time to form, much less to investigate. Among these may lurk
remedies more valuable than any at our disposal today. It does not look,
at any rate, as if the druggist were going to be driven out of business
from lack of stock, whether we regard quantity or variety. To what, then,
must we attribute the growth of the feeling that the treatment of disease
by the administration of drugs is on the decline? From the standpoint of a
layman it seems to be due to two facts, or at least to have been strongly
affected by them: (1) The discovery and rapid development of other
therapeutic measures, such as those dependent on surgical methods, or on
the use of immunizing serums, or on manipulations such as massage, or on
diet, or even on mental suggestion; and (2) the very increase in the
number and variety of available drugs alluded to above, which has
introduced to the public many new and only partially tried substances, the
results of whose use has often been unexpectedly injurious, including a
considerable number of new habit-forming drugs whose ravages are becoming
known to the public.

The development of therapeutic measures that are independent of drugs has
been coincident with popular emancipation from the mere superstition of
drug-administration. The older lists of approved remedies were loaded with
items that had no curative properties at all, except by suggestion. They
were purely magical--the thumb-nails of executed criminals, the hair of
black cats, the ashes of burned toads and so on. Even at this moment your
pharmacopoeia contains scores of remedies that are without effect or that
do not produce the effects credited to them. I am relying on high
therapeutical authority for this statement. Now when the sick man is told
by his own physician to discard angleworm poultices, and herbs plucked in
the dark of the moon, on which he had formerly relied, it is any wonder
that he has ended by being suspicious also of calomel and ipecac, with
which they were formerly classed? And when the man who believed that he
received benefit from some of these magical remedies is told that the
result was due to auto-suggestion, is it remarkable that he should fall an
easy prey next day to the Christian Scientist who tells him that the
effects of calomel and ipecac are due to nothing else than this same
suggestion? The increased use and undoubted value of special diets,
serums, aseptic surgery, baths, massage, electrical treatment,
radio-therapeutics, and so on, makes it easy for him to discard drugs
altogether, and further, it creates, even among those who continue to use
drugs, an atmosphere favorable to the belief that they are back numbers,
on the road to disuse. Just here comes in the second factor to persuade
the layman, from what has come under his own observation, that drugs are
injurious, dangerous, even fatal. Newly discovered chemical compounds with
valuable properties, have been adopted and used in medicine before the
necessary time had elapsed to disclose the fact that they possessed also
other properties, more elusive than the first, but as potent for harm as
these were for good. Many were narcotics or valuable anesthetics, local or
otherwise, which have proved to be the creators of habits more terrible
than the age-long enemies of mankind, alcohol and opium. When the man
whose wife takes a coal-tar derivative for headache finds that it stills
her heart forever, the incident affects his whole opinion of drugs. When
the patient for whom one of the new drugs has been prescribed by a
practitioner without knowledge of his idiosyncrasies reacts to it fatally,
it is slight consolation to his survivors that his case is described in
print under the heading, "A Curious Case of Umptiol Poisoning." When a
mother sees her son go to the bad by taking cocaine, or heroin, or some
other drug of whose existence she was ignorant a dozen years ago, she may
be pardoned for believing that all drugs, or at least all newly discovered
drugs, are tools of the devil.

And this feeling is intensified by one of our national faults--the
tendency to jump at conclusions, to overdo things, to run from one evil to
its opposite, without stopping at the harmless mean. We think we are
brighter and quicker than the Englishman or the German. They think we are
more superficial. Whatever name you give the quality it causes us to
"catch on" sooner, to work a good thing to death more thoroughly and to
drop it more quickly for something else, than any other known people,
ancient or modern. Somebody devises a new form of skate roller that makes
roller-skating a good sport. We find it out before anyone else and in a
few months the land is plastered from Maine to California with huge
skating halls or sheds. Everybody is skating at once and the roar of the
rollers resounds across the oceans. We skate ourselves out in a year or
two, and then the roar ceases, the sheds decay and roller-skating is once
more a normal amusement. Then someone invents the safety bicycle, and in a
trice all America, man, woman and child, is awheel. And we run this good
horse to death, and throw his body aside in our haste to discover
something new. Shortly afterward someone invents a new dance, or imports
it from Spanish America, and there is hardly time to snap one's finger
before we are all dancing, grandparents and children, the cook in the
kitchen and the street-cleaner on the boulevard.

We display as little moderation in our therapeutics. We can not get over
the idea that a remedy of proved value in a particular case may be good
for all others. Our proprietary medicines will cure everything from
tuberculosis to cancer. If massage has relieved rheumatism, why should it
not be good also for typhoid? The Tumtum Springs did my uncle's gout so
much good; why doesn't your cousin try them for her headaches? And even
so, drugs must be all good or bad. Many of us remember the old household
remedies, tonics or laxatives or what not, with which the children were
all dosed at intervals, whether they were ill or not. That was in the days
when all drugs were good: when one "took something" internally for
everything that happened to him. Now the pendulum has swung to the other
side--that is all. If we can ever settle down to the rational way of
regarding these things, we shall discover, what sensible medical men have
always known, and what druggists as well as mere laymen can not afford to
neglect, that there is no such thing as a panacea, and that all rational
therapeutics is based on common sense study of the disease--finding out
what is the cause and endeavoring to abate that cause. The cause may be
such that surgery is indicated, or serum, or regulation of diet, or change
of scene. It may obviously indicate the administration of a drug. I once
heard a clever lawyer in a poisoning case, in an endeavor to discredit a
physician, whom we shall call Dr. Jones, tell the following anecdote: (Dr.
Jones, who had been called in when the victim was about to expire, had
recommended the application of ice). Said the lawyer:

"A workman was tamping a charge of blasting-powder with a crowbar, when
the charge went off prematurely and the bar was driven through the
unfortunate man's body, so that part of it protruded on either side: A
local physician was summoned, and after some study he pronounced as
follows: 'Now, if I let that bar stay there, you'll die. If I pull it out,
you'll die. But I'll give you a pill that may melt it where it is!' In
this emergency," the lawyer went on to say, "Dr. Jones doubtless would
have prescribed _ice_."

Now the pill to melt the crowbar may stand for our former excessive and
absurd regard for drugs. The application of ice in the same emergency may
likewise represent a universal resort to hydrotherapy. Neither of them is
logical. There is place for each, but there are emergencies that can not
be met with either. Still, to abandon one method of treatment simply
because additional methods have proved to be valuable, would be as absurd
as to give up talking upon the invention of writing or to prohibit the
raising of corn on land that will produce wheat.

No: we shall doubtless continue to use drugs and we shall continue to need
the druggist. What can he do to make his business more valued and
respected, more useful to the public and more profitable to himself? For
there can be no doubt that he will finally succeed in attaining all these
desirable results together, or fail in all. Here and there we may find a
man who is making a fortune out of public credulity and ignorance, or, on
the other hand, one who is giving the public more service than it pays for
and ruining himself in the process; but in general and on the average
personal and public interest run pretty well hand in hand. Henry Ford
makes his millions because he is producing something that the people want.
St. Jacob's Oil, once the most widely advertised nostrum on the continent,
cost its promoters a fortune because there was nothing in it that one
might not find in some other oil or grease.

What then, I repeat, must the pharmacist do to succeed, personally and
professionally? I welcome this opportunity to tell you what I think. My
advice comes from the outside--often the most valuable source. I have so
little to do with pharmacy, either as a profession or as a business that I
stand far enough away to get a bird's-eye view. And if you think that any
advice, based on this view, is worthless, it will be a consolation to all
of us to realize that no force on earth can compel you to take it.

It is doubtless too late to lament or try to resist the course of business
that has gone far to turn the pharmacy into a department store. But let me
urge you not to let this tendency run wild. There are side-lines that
belong properly to pharmacy, such as all those pertaining to hygiene or
sanitation; to the toilet, to bodily refreshment. I do not see why one
should not expect to find at his pharmacist's, soap, or tooth-brushes, or
sponges. I do not see why the thirsty man should not go there for mineral
water as well as the dyspeptic for pills. But I fail to see the connection
between pharmacy and magazines, or stationery or candy. By selling these
the druggist puts himself at once into competition with the department
stores. There can be no doubt about who will win out in any such
competition as that. But I believe there is still a place in the community
for any special line of business if its proprietor sticks to his specialty
and makes himself a recognized expert in it. The department store spreads
itself too thin--there is no room for intensive development at any point
of its vast expanse. Its general success is due to this very fact. I am
not now speaking of the rural community where there is room only for one
general store selling everything that the community needs. But my
statement holds good for the city and the large town.

Let me illustrate by an instance in which we librarians are professionally
interested--the book store. Once every town had its book-store. Now they
are rare. We have few such stores even in a city of the size of St. Louis.
Every department store has its book-section. They are rarely satisfactory.
Everybody is lamenting the disappearance of the old book-store, with its
old scholarly proprietor who knew books and the book-market; who loved
books and the book-business. Quarts of ink have been wasted in trying to
account for his disappearance. The Public Library, for one thing, has been
blamed for it. I have no time now to disprove this, though it is very
clear to me that libraries help the book trade instead of hindering it. I
shall simply give you my version of the trouble. The book-dealer
disappeared, as soon as he entered into competition with the department
store. He put in side lines of toys, and art supplies, and cameras and
candy. He began to spread himself thin and had no time for expert
concentration on his one specialty. Thus he lost his one advantage over
the department store--his strength in the region where it was weak; and of
course he succumbed. If you will think for a moment of the special
businesses that have survived the competition of the department store, you
will see that they are precisely the ones that have resisted this
temptation to spread themselves and have been content to remain experts.
Look at the men's furnishing stores. Would they have survived if they had
begun to sell cigars and lawn-mowers? Look at the retail shoe stores, the
opticians, the cigar stores, the bakers, the meat markets, the
confectioners, the restaurants of all grades! They have all to compete
with the department stores, but their customers realize that they have
something to offer that can be offered by no department store--expert
service in one line, due to some one's life-long training, experience and
devotion to the public.

I do not want the pharmacist to go the way of the book dealers. Already
some of the department stores include drug departments. I do not see how
these can be as good as independent pharmacies. But I do not see the
essential difference between a drug department in a store that sells also
cigars and stationery and confectionery, and a so-called independent
pharmacy that also distributes these very things.

I am assuming that the druggist is an expert. That is the object of our
colleges of pharmacy, as I understand the matter. As a librarian I want to
deal with a book man who knows more of the book business than I do. I want
to ask his advice and be able to rely on it. When I have printing to be
done, I like to give it to a man who knows more about the printed page
than I do. When I buy bread, or shoes, or a house, or a farm I like to
deal with recognized experts in these articles. How much more when I am
purchasing substances where expert knowledge will turn the balance between
life and death. I have gossiped with pharmacists enough to know that all
physicians do not avoid incompatibles in their prescriptions, and that
occasionally a combination falls into the prescription clerk's hands,
which, if made up as he reads it would produce a poisonous compound, or
perhaps even an explosive mixture. Two heads are better than one, and if
my physician ever makes a mistake of this kind I look to my pharmacist to
see that it shall not reach the practical stage.

I recognize the great value and service of the department store, but I do
not go there for my law or medicine; neither do I care to resort thither
for my pharmacy. I want our separate drug stores to persist, and I want
them to remain in charge of experts.

And when the store deals in other things than purely therapeutic
preparations--which I have already said I think probably unavoidable,--I
want it to present the aspect of a pharmacy that deals also in toilet
preparations and mineral water, not of an establishment for dispensing
soda-water and soap, where one may have a prescription filled on the side,
in an emergency. And when the emergency does arise, I should have the
pharmacy respond to it. It is the place where we naturally look in an
emergency--the spot to which the victim of an accident is carried
directly--the one where the lady bends her steps when she feels that she
is going to faint. In hundreds of cases the drug store is our only
standby, and it should be the druggist's business to see that it never
fails us. There are pharmacies where a telephone message brings an
unfailing response; there are others to which one would as soon think of
sending an inquiry regarding a Biblical quotation. To which type, do you
think, will the public prefer to resort?

Then there are those little courtesies that no retail business is obliged
to offer, but that the public has been accustomed to expect from the
druggist--the cashing of checks, the changing of bills, the furnishing of
postage stamps, the consultation of the city directory. There can be no
reason for resorting to a drug store for all these favors except that the
pharmacist has an enviable reputation as the man who is most likely to
grant them. And yet I begin to hear druggists complaining of the results
of this reputation, of which they ought to be proud; I see them pointing
out that there is no profit on postage stamps and no commission for
changing a bill. They intimate, further, that although it may be proper
for them to put themselves out for regular customers, it is absurd for
strangers to ask for these courtesies. I marvel when I hear these
sentiments. If this popular impression regarding the courtesy of the
druggist did not exist, it would be worth the expenditure of vast sums and
the labor of a lifetime to create it. To deliberately undo it would be as
foolish as to lock the door in the face of customers.

I do not believe that in St. Louis the pharmaceutical profession is
generally averse to a reputation for generous public service, and I base
my belief on some degree of personal knowledge. The St. Louis Public
Library operates about sixty delivery stations in various parts of the
city. These stations are all in drug stores. The work connected with them,
though light, is by no means inconsiderable, and yet not one of the
druggists who undertake it charges the library a cent for his space or his
services. Doubtless they expect a return from the increased attractiveness
of their places to the public. I hope that they get it and I believe that
they do. At any rate we have evidence here of the pharmacist's belief that
the bread of public service, cast upon the waters, will sooner or later

You will notice that I am saying nothing about advertising. One would
think from the pharmaceutical papers, with which I am not unfamiliar, that
the druggist's chief end was to have a sensational show window of some
kind. These things are not unimportant, but I do not dwell on them because
I believe that if a druggist realizes the importance of his profession; if
he makes himself a recognized expert in it; if he sticks to it and
magnifies it; if he makes his place indispensable to the community around
him, the first point to which the citizens resort for help in an
emergency, an unfailing center of courtesy and favor--he may fill his
window with toilet soap, or monkeys, or with nothing at all--there will
still be a trodden path up to his door.

Gentlemen, you have chosen as your life work a profession that I believe
to be indispensable to human welfare--one of enviable tradition and honor
and with standing and reputation in the community that set it apart, in
some degree from all others. And while I would not have you neglect the
material success that it may bring you, I would urge you to expect this as
a result rather than strive for it as an immediate end. I would have you
labor to maintain and develop the special knowledge that you have gained
in this institution, to hold up the standard of courtesy and helpfulness
under which you can best do public service, confident that if you do these
things, business standing and financial success will also be added unto


    [15] Read before the American Library Association, Asbury Park,
         N.J., June 27, 1916.

In endeavoring to distinguish between self-education and education by
others, one meets with considerable difficulty. If a boy reads Mill's
"Political Economy'" he is surely educating himself; but if after reading
each chapter he visits a class and answers certain questions propounded
for the purpose of ascertaining whether he has read it at all, or has read
it understandingly, then we are accustomed to transfer the credit for the
educative process to the questioner, and say that the boy has been
educated at school or college. As a matter of fact, I think most of us are
self-educated. Not only is most of what an adult knows and can do,
acquired outside of school, but in most of what he learned even there he
was self-taught. His so-called teachers assigned tasks to him and saw that
he performed them. If he did not, they subjected him to discipline. Once
or twice in a lifetime most of us have run up against a real teacher--a
man or a woman that really played a major part in shaping our minds as
they now are--our stock of knowledge, our ways of thought, our methods of
doing things. These men have stood and are still standing (though they may
have joined the great majority long ago) athwart the stream of sensation
as it passes through us, and are determining what part shall be stored up,
and where; what kind of action shall ultimately result from it. The
influence of a good teacher spreads farther and lasts longer than that of
any other man. If his words have been recorded in books it may reach
across the seas and down the ages.

There is another reason why the distinction between school education and
self-education breaks down. If the boy with whom we began had any teacher
at all it was John Stuart Mill, and this man was his teacher whether or
not his reading of the book was prescribed and tested in a class-room. I
would not have you think that I would abolish schools and colleges. I wish
we had more of the right kind, but the chief factor in educative
acquirement will still be the pupil.

So when the community educates itself, as it doubtless does and as it must
do, it simply continues a process with which it has always been familiar,
but without control, or under its own control. Of all the things that we
learn, control is the most vital. What we are is the sum of those things
that we do not repress. We begin without self-repression and have to be
controlled by others. When we learn to exercise control ourselves, it is
right that even our education should revert wholly to what it has long
been in greater part--a voluntary process.

This does not mean that at this time the pupil abandons guidance. It means
that he is free to choose his own guides and the place and method of using
them. Some rely wholly on experience; others are wise enough to see that
life is too short and too narrow to acquire all that we need, and they set
about to make use also of that acquired by others. Some of these wiser
ones use only their companions and acquaintances; others read books. The
wisest are opportunists; they make use of all these methods as they have
occasion. Their reading does not make them avoid the exchange of ideas by
conversation, nor does the acquirement of ideas in either way preclude
learning daily by experience, or make reflection useless or unnecessary.

He who lives a full life acquires ideas as he may, causes them to combine,
change and generate in his own mind, and then translates them into action
of some kind. He who omits any of these things cannot be said to have
really lived. He cannot, it is true, fail to acquire ideas unless he is an
idiot; but he may fail to acquire them broadly, and may even make the
mistake of thinking that he can create them in his own mind.

He may, however, acquire fully and then merely store without change or
combination; that is, he may turn his brain into a warehouse instead of
using it as a factory.

And the man who has acquired broadly and worked over his raw material into
a product of his own, may still stop there and never do anything. Our
whole organism is subsidiary to action and he who stops short of it has
surely failed to live.

Our educative processes, so far, have dwelt heavily on acquirement,
somewhat lightly on mental assimilation and digestion, and have left
action almost untouched. In these two latter respects, especially, is the
community self-educated.

The fact that I am saying this here, and to you, is a sufficient guaranty
that I am to lay some emphasis on the part played by books in these
self-educative processes. A book is at once a carrier and a tool; it
transports the idea and plants it. It is a carrier both in time and in
space--the idea that it implants may be a foreign idea, or an ancient
idea, or both. Either of its functions may for the moment be paramount; a
book may bring to you ideas whose implantation your brain resists, or it
may be used to implant ideas that are already present, as when an
instructor uses his own text book. Neither of these two cases represents
education in the fullest sense.

You will notice that I have not yet defined education. I do not intend to
try, for my time is limited. But in the course of my own educative
processes, which I trust are still proceeding, the tendency grows stronger
and stronger to insist on an intimate connection with reality in all
education--to making it a realization that we are to do something and a
yearning to be able to do it. The man who has never run up against things
as they are, who has lived in a world of moonshine, who sees crooked and
attempts what is impossible and what is useless--is he educated? I used to
wonder what a realist was. Now that I am becoming one myself I begin dimly
to understand. He certainly is not a man devoid of ideals, but they are
real ideals, if you will pardon the bull.

I believe that I am in goodly company. The library as I see it has also
set its face toward the real. What else is meant by our business branches,
our technology rooms, our legislative and municipal reference departments?
They mean that slow as we may be to respond to community thought and to do
our part in carrying on community education, we are vastly more sensitive
than the school, which still turns up its nose at efforts like the Gary
system; than the stage, which still teaches its actors to be stagy instead
of natural; even than the producers of the very literature that we help to
circulate, who rarely know how even to represent the conversation of two
human beings as it really is. And when a great new vehicle of popular
artistic expression arises, like the moving picture, those who purvey it
spend their millions to build mock cities instead of to reproduce the
reality that it is their special privilege to be able to show. And they
hire stage actors to show off their staginess on the screen--staginess
that is a thousand times more stagy because its background is of waving
foliage and glimmering water, instead of the painted canvas in front of
which it belongs. The heart of the community is right. Its heroine is Mary
Pickford. It rises to realism as one man. The little dog who cannot pose,
and who pants and wags his tail on the screen as he would anywhere else,
elicits thunderous applause. The baby who puckers up its face and cries,
oblivious of its environment, is always a favorite. But the trend of all
this, these institutions cannot see. We librarians are seeing it a little
more clearly. We may see it--we shall see it, more clearly still.

The self-education of a community often depends very closely on bonds of
connection already established between the minds of that community's
individual members. Sometimes it depends on a sudden connection made
through the agency of a single event of overwhelming importance and
interest. Let me illustrate what I mean by connection of this kind. For
many years it was my duty to cross the Hudson river twice daily on a
crowded ferry-boat, and it used to interest me to watch the behavior of
the crowds under the influence of simple impulses affecting them all
alike. I am happy to say that I never had an opportunity of observing the
effect of complex impulses such as those of panic terror. I used
particularly to watch, from the vantage point of a stairway whence I could
look over their heads, the behavior of the crowd standing in the cabin
just before the boat made its landing. Each person in the crowd stood
still quietly, and the tendency was toward a loose formation to ensure
comfort and some freedom of movement. At the same time each was ready and
anxious to move forward as soon as the landing should be made. Only those
in front could see the bow of the ferryboat; the others could see nothing
but the persons directly in front of them. When those in the front rank
saw that the landing was very near they began to move forward; those just
behind followed suit and so on to the rear. The result was that I saw a
wave of compression, of the same sort as a sound-wave in air, move through
the throng. The individual motions were forward but the wave moved
backward. No better example of a wave of this kind could be devised. Now
the actions and reactions between the air-particles in a sound wave are
purely mechanical. Not so here. There was neither pushing nor pulling of
the ordinary kind. Each person moved forward because his mind was fixed on
moving forward at the earliest opportunity, and because the forward
movement of those just in front showed him that now was the time and the
opportunity. The physical link, if there was one, properly speaking,
between one movement and another was something like this: A wave of light,
reflected from the body of the man in front, entered the eye of the man
just behind, where it was transformed into a nerve impulse that readied
the brain through the optic nerve. Here it underwent complicated
transformations and reactions whose nature we can but surmise, until it
left the brain as a motor impulse and caused the leg muscles to contract,
moving their owner forward. All this may or may not have taken place
within the sphere of consciousness; in the most cases it had happened so
often that it had been relegated to that of unconscious cerebration.

I have entered into so much detail because I want to make it clear that a
connection may be established between members of a group, even so casual a
group as that of persons who happen to cross on the same ferry boat, that
is so real and compelling, that its results simulate those of physical
forces. In thin case the results were dependent on the existence in the
crowd of one common bond of interest. They all wanted to leave the ferry
boat as soon as possible, and by its bow. If some of them had wanted to
stay on the boat and go back with it, or if it had been a river steamboat
where landings were made from several gangways in different parts of the
boat the simple wave of compression that I saw would not have been set up.
In like manner the ordinary influences that act on men's minds tend in all
sorts of directions and their results are not easily traced. Occasionally,
however, there occurs some event so great that it turns us all in the same
direction and establishes a common network of psychical connections. Such
an event fosters community education.

We have lately witnessed such a phenomenon in the sudden outbreak of the
great European War. Probably no person in the community as we librarians
know it remained unaffected by this event. In most it aroused some kind of
a desire to know what was going on. It was necessary that most of us
should know a little more than we did of the differences in racial
temperament and aim among the inhabitants of the warring nations, of such
movements as Pan-Slavism and Pan-Germanism, of the recent political
history of Europe, of modern military tactics and strategy, of
international law, of geography, of the pronunciation of foreign
placenames, of the chemistry of explosives--of a thousand things regarding
which we had hitherto lacked the impulse to inform ourselves. This sort of
thing is going on in a community every day, but here was a catastrophe
setting in motion a mighty brain-wave that had twisted us all in one
direction. Notice now what a conspicuous role our public libraries play in
phenomena of this kind. In the first place, the news-paper and periodical
press reflects at once the interest that has been aroused. Where man's
unaided curiosity would suggest one question it adds a hundred others.
Problems that would otherwise seem simple enough now appear complex--the
whole mental interest is intensified. At the same time there is an attempt
to satisfy the questions thus raised. The man who did not know about the
Belgian treaty, or the possible use of submarines as commerce-destroyers,
has all the issues put before him with at least an attempt to settle them.
This service of the press to community education would be attempted, but
it would not be successfully rendered, without the aid of the public
library, for it has come to pass that the library is now almost the only
non-partisan institution that we possess; and community education, to be
effective, must be non-partisan. The press is almost necessarily biassed.
The man who is prejudiced prefers the paper or the magazine that will
cater to his prejudices, inflame them, cause him to think that they are
reasoned results instead of prejudices. If he keeps away from the public
library he may succeed in blinding himself; if he uses it he can hardly do
so. He will find there not only his own side but all the others; if he has
the ordinary curiosity that is our mortal heritage he cannot help glancing
at the opinions of others occasionally. No man is really educated who does
not at least know that another side exists to the question on which he has
already made up his mind--or had it made up for him.

Further, no one is content to stop with the ordinary periodical
literature. The flood of books inspired by this war is one of the most
astonishing things about it. Most libraries are struggling to keep up with
it in some degree. Very few of these books would be within the reach of
most of us were it not for the library.

I beg you to notice the difference in the reaction of the library to this
war and that of the public school as indicative of the difference between
formal educative processes, as we carry them on, and the self-education of
the community. I have emphasized the freedom of the library from bias. The
school is necessarily biassed--perhaps properly so. You remember the story
of the candidate for a district school who, when asked by an examining
committee-man whether the earth was round or flat, replied, "Well, some
says one and some t'other. I teach either round or flat, as the parents

Now, there are books that maintain the flatness of the earth, and they
properly find a place on the shelves of large public libraries. Those who
wish to compare the arguments pro and con are at liberty to do so. Even in
such a _res adjudicata_ as this the library takes no sides. But in spite
of the obliging school candidate, the school cannot proceed in this way.
The teaching of the child must be definite. And there are other subjects,
historical ones for instance, in which the school's attitude may be
determined by its location, its environment, its management. When it is a
public school and its controlling authority is really trying to give
impartial instruction there are some subjects that must simply be skipped,
leaving them to be covered by post-scholastic community education. This is
the school's limitation. Only the policy of caution is very apt to be
carried too far. Thus we find that in the school the immense educational
drive of the European War has not been utilized as it has in the community
at large. In some places the school authorities have erected a barrier
against it. So far as they are concerned the war has been non-existent.
This difference between the library and the school appears in such reports
as the following from a branch librarian:

"Throughout the autumn and most of the winter we found it absolutely
impossible to supply the demand for books about the war. Everything we had
on the subject or akin to it--books, magazines, pamphlets--were in
constant use. Books of travel and history about the warring countries
became popular--things that for years had been used but rarely became
suddenly vitally interesting.

"I have been greatly interested by the fact that the high school boys and
girls never ask for anything about the war. Not once during the winter
have I seen in one of them a spark of interest in the subject. It seems so
strange that it should be necessary to keep them officially ignorant of
this great war because the grandfather of one spoke French and of another

Another librarian says:

"The war again has naturally stimulated an interest in maps. With every
turn in military affairs, new ones are issued and added to our collection.
These maps, as received, have been exhibited for short periods upon
screens and they have never lacked an appreciative line of spectators,
representing all nationalities."

One noticeable effect of the war in libraries has been to stimulate the
marking of books, periodicals and newspapers by readers, especially in
periodical rooms. Readers with strong feelings cannot resist annotating
articles or chapters that express opinions in which they cannot concur.
Pictures of generals or royalties are especially liable to defacement with
opprobrious epithets. This feeling extends even to bulletins. Libraries
receive strenuous protests against the display of portraits and other
material relating to one of the contesting parties without similar
material on the other side to offset it.

"Efforts to be strictly neutral have not always met with success, some
readers apparently regarding neutrality as synonymous with suppression of
everything favorable to the opposite side. One library reports that the
display of an English military portrait called forth an energetic protest
because it was not balanced by a German one."

Such manifestations as these are merely symptoms. The impulse of the war
toward community education is a tremendous one and it is not strange that
it should find an outlet in all sorts of odd ways. The German sympathizer
who would not ordinarily think of objecting to the display of an English
portrait, and in fact would probably not think of examining it closely
enough to know whether it was English or Austrian, has now become alert.
His alertness makes him open to educative influences, but it may also show
itself in such ways as that just noted.

Keeping the war out of the schools is of course a purely local phenomenon,
to be deprecated where it occurs. The library can do its part here also.

"G. Stanley Hall believes that the problem of teaching the war is how to
utilize in the very best way the wonderful opportunity to open, see and
feel the innumerable and vital lessons involved." Commenting on this a
children's librarian says: "The unparalleled opportunity offered to our
country, and the new complex problems presented by these new conditions
should make the children's librarian pause and take heed.

"Can we do our part toward using the boy's loyalty to his gang or his
nine, his love of his country, his respect for our flag, his devotion to
our heroes, in developing a sense of human brotherhood which alone can
prevent or delay in the next generation another such catastrophe as the
one we face to-day?"

Exclusion of the war from the schools is partly the outcome of the general
attitude of most of our schoolmen, who object to the teaching of a subject
as an incidental. Arithmetic must be studied for itself alone. To absorb
it as a by-product of shop-work, as is done in Gary, is inadmissible. But
it is also a result of the fear that teaching the war at all would
necessarily mean a partisan teaching of it--a conclusion which perhaps we
cannot condemn when we remember the partisan instruction in various other
subjects for which our schools are responsible.

Again, this exclusion is doubtless aided by the efforts of some pacifists,
who believe that, ostrich-like, we should hide our heads in the sand, to
avoid acknowledging the existence of something we do not like. "Why war?"
asks a recent pamphlet. Why, indeed? But we may ask in turn "Why fire?"
"Why flood?" I cannot answer these questions, but it would be foolish to
act as if the scourges did not exist. Nay, I hasten to insure myself
against them, though the possibility that they will injure me is remote.
This ultra-pacifist attitude has gone further than school education and is
trying to put the lid on community education also. Objection, for
instance, has been made to an exhibit of books, prints and posters about
the war, which was displayed in the St. Louis Public Library for nearly
two months. We intended to let it stand for about a week, but the public
would not allow this. The community insists on self-education even against
the will of its natural allies. The contention that we are cultivating the
innate blood-thirstiness of our public, I regard as absurd.

What can we do toward generating or taking advantage of other great
driving impulses toward community education? Must we wait for the horrors
of a great war to teach us geography, industrial chemistry and
international law? Is it necessary to burn down a house every time we want
to roast a pig? Certainly not. But just as one would not think of bringing
on any kind of a catastrophe in order to utilize its shock for educational
purposes, so also I doubt very much whether we need concern ourselves
about the initiation of any impulse toward popular education. These
impulses exist everywhere in great number and variety and we need only to
select the right one and reinforce it. Attempts to generate others are
rarely effective. When we hear the rich mellow tone of a great organ pipe,
it is difficult to realize that all the pipe does is to reinforce a
selected tone among thousands of indistinguishable noises made by the air
rushing through a slit and striking against an edge. Yet this is the fact.
These incipient impulses permeate the community all about us; all we have
to do is to select one, feed it and give it play and we shall have an
"educational movement." This fact is strongly impressed upon anyone
working with clubs. If it is desired to foster some movement by means of
an organization, it is rarely necessary to form one for the purpose. Every
community teems with clubs, associations and circles. All that is needed
is to capture the right one and back it up. Politicians well understand
this art of capture and use it often for evil purposes. In the librarian's
hands it becomes an instrument for good. Better than to offer a course of
twenty lectures under the auspices of the library is it to capture a club,
give it house-room, and help it with its program. I am proud of the fact
that in fifteen public rooms in our library, about four thousand meetings
are held in the course of the year; but I am inclined to be still prouder
of the fact that not one of these is held formally under the auspices of
the library or is visibly patronized by it. To go back to our thesis, all
education is self-education; we can only select, guide and strengthen, but
when we have done these things adequately, we have done a very great work

What is true of assemblies and clubs is also true of the selection and use
of books. A book purchased in response to a demand is worth a dozen bought
because the librarian thinks the library ought to have them. The
possibilities of free suggestion by the community are, it seems to me, far
from realized, yet even as it is, I believe that librarians have an
unexampled opportunity of feeling out promising tendencies in this great
flutter of educational impulses all about us, and so of selecting the
right ones and helping them on.

Almost while I have been writing this I have been visited by a delegate
from the foundrymen's club--an organization that wants more books on
foundry practice and wants them placed together in a convenient spot. Such
a visit is of course a heaven-sent opportunity and I suppose I betrayed
something of my pleasure in my manner. My visitor said, "I am so glad you
feel this way about it; we have been meaning for some time to call on you,
but we were in doubt about how we should be received." Such moments are
humiliating to the librarian. Great heavens! Have we advertised,
discussed, talked and plastered our towns with publicity, only to learn at
last that the spokesman of a body of respectable men, asking legitimate
service, rather expects to be kicked downstairs than otherwise when he
approaches us? Is our publicity failing in quantity or in quality?

Whatever may be the matter, it is in response to demands like this that
the library must play its part in community education. Here as elsewhere
it is the foundrymen who are the important factors--their attitude, their
desires, their capabilities. Our function is that of the organ pipe--to
pick out the impulse, respond to it and give it volume and carrying power.
The community will educate itself whether we help or not. It is permeated
by lines of intelligence as the magnetic field is by lines of force.
Thrust in a bit of soft iron and the force-lines will change their
direction in order to pass through the iron. Thrust a book into the
community field, and its lines of intelligence will change direction in
order to take in the contents of the book. If we could map out the field
we should see great masses of lines sweeping through our public libraries.

All about us we see men who tell us that they despair of democracy; that
at any rate, whatever its advantages, democracy can never be "efficient."
Efficient for what? Efficiency is a relative quality, not absolute. A big
German howitzer would be about as inefficient a tool as could be imagined,
for serving an apple-pie. Beside, democracy is a goal; we have not reached
it yet; we shall never reach it if we decide that it is undesirable. The
path toward it is the path of Nature, which leads through conflicts,
survivals, and modifications. Part of it is the path of community
education, which I believe to be efficient in that it is leading on toward
a definite goal. Part of Nature is man, with his desires, hopes and
abilities. Some men, and many women, are librarians, in whom these desires
and hopes have definite aims and in whom the corresponding abilities are
more or less developed. We are all thus cogs in Nature's great scheme for
community education; let us be intelligent cogs, and help the movement on
instead of hindering it.


I--_The Malady_

A well-dressed woman entered the Art Department of a large public library.
"Have you any material on the Medici?" she asked the custodian. "Yes; just
what kind of material do you want?" "Stop a minute," cried the woman,
extending a detaining hand; "before you get me anything, just tell me what
they are!" Librarians are trained not to laugh. No one could have detected
the ghost of a smile on this one's face as she lifted the "M" volume of a
cyclopedia from a shelf and placed it on the table before the seeker after
knowledge. "There; that will tell you," she said, and returned to her

Not long afterward she was summoned by a beckoning finger. "I can't tell
from this book," said the perplexed student, "whether the Medici were a
family or a race of people." The Art Librarian tried to untie this knot,
but it was not long before another presented itself. "This book doesn't
explain," said the troubled investigator, "whether the Medici were
Florentines or Italians." Still without a quiver, the art assistant
emitted the required drop of information. "Shan't I get you something more
now?" she asked. "Oh, no; this will be quite sufficient," and taking out
pencil and paper the inquirer began to write rapidly with the cyclopedia
propped before her. Presently, when the Art Librarian looked up, her guest
had disappeared. But she was on hand the next morning. "May I see that
book again?" she asked sweetly. "There are some words here in my copy that
I can't quite make out."

On another occasion a reader, of the same sex, wandered into the
reading-room and began to gaze about her with that peculiar sort of
perplexed aimlessness that librarians have come to recognise instinctively
as an index to the wearer's state of mind. "Have you anything on American
travels?" she asked.

"Do you mean travels in America, or travels by Americans in foreign

"Well; I don't know--exactly."

"Do you want books like Dickens's _American Notes_, that give a
foreigner's impression of this country?"


"Or books like Hawthorne's _Note Book_, telling how a foreign country
appears to an American?"

"We-ell; perhaps."

"Are you following a programme of reading?"


"May I see it? That may give me a clue."

"I haven't a copy here."

"Can you give me the name of the person or committee who made it?"

"Oh, I _made_ it _myself_."

This was a "facer"; the librarian seemed to have brought up against a
stone wall, but she waited, knowing that a situation, unlike a knot, will
sometimes untie itself.

The seeker after knowledge also waited for a time. Then she broke out

"Why, I just wanted American travels, don't you know? Funny little stories
and things about the sort of Americans that go abroad with a bird-cage!"

Just what books were given to her I do not know; but in due time her
interesting paper before the Olla Podrida Club was properly noticed in the
local papers.

In another case a perplexed club-woman came to a library for aid in making
a programme of reading. "Have you some ideas about the subject you want to
take up?" asked the reference assistant.

"Well, we had thought of England, or perhaps Scotland; and some of us
would like the Elizabethan Period."

The assistant, after some faithful work, produced a list of books and
articles on each of these somewhat comprehensive subjects and sent them to
the reader for selection. "Which did you finally take?" she asked when the
inquirer next visited the library.

"Oh, they were so good, we decided to use all of them this year!"

The writer is no pessimist. These stories which are as true, word for
word, as any tales not taken down by a stenographer (and far more so than
some that are) seemed to throw the persons who told them into a sort of
dumb despair, but I hastened to reassure them. I pointed out that the
inquirers after knowledge had, beyond all doubt, obtained some modicum of
what they wanted. If the lady in the first tale, for instance, had
mistakenly supposed that the Medici were a new kind of dance or something
to eat, she surely has been disabused. And her cyclopedia article was
probably as well written as most of its kind, so that a literal transcript
of it could have done no harm either to the copyist or to her clubmates.
And the paper on "American Travels," and the combined lists on England,
Scotland and the Elizabethan Period; did not those who laboured on them,
or with them, acquire information in the process? Most assuredly!

Still, I must confess that, in advancing these arguments, I feel somewhat
like an _advocatus diaboli_. It is all very well to treat the puzzled
clubwoman as a joke. When a man slips on a banana-peel and goes down, we
may laugh at his plight; but suppose the whole crowd of passers-by began
to pitch and slide and tumble! Should we not think that some horrible
epidemic had laid its hand on us? The ladies with their Medici and their
Travels are not isolated instances. Ask the librarians; they know, but in
countless instances they do not tell, for fear of casting ridicule upon
the hundreds of intelligent clubwomen whom they are proud to help. In many
libraries there is a standing rule against repeating or discussing the
errors and slips of the public, especially to the ever hungry reporter. I
break this rule here with equanimity, and even with a certain degree of
hope, for my object is to awaken my readers to the knowledge that part of
the reading public is suffering from a malady of some kind. Later I may
try my hand at diagnosis and even at therapeutics. And I am taking as an
illustration chiefly the reading done by women's clubs, not because men do
not do reading of the same kind, or because it is not done by individuals
as well as by groups; but because, just at the present time, women in
general, and clubwomen in particular, seem especially likely to be
attacked by the disease. It must be remembered also that I am writing from
the standpoint of the public library, and I here make humble
acknowledgement of the fact that many things in the educational field,
both good and bad, go on quite outside of that institution and beyond its

The intellectual bonds between the library and the woman's club have
always been close. Many libraries are the children of such clubs; many
clubs have been formed in and by libraries. If any mistakes are being made
in the general policies and programmes of club reading, the librarian
would naturally be the first to know it, and he ought to speak out. He
does know it, and his knowledge should become public property at once.
But, I repeat, although the trouble is conspicuous in connection with the
reading of women's clubs, it is far more general and deeply rooted than

The malady's chief symptom, which is well known to all librarians, is a
lack of correspondence between certain readers and the books that they
choose. Reading, like conversation, is the meeting of two minds. If there
is no contact, the process fails. If the cogs on the gearwheels do not
interact, the machine can not work. If the reader of a book on algebra
does not understand arithmetic; if he tackles a philosophical essay on the
representative function without knowing what the phrase means; if he tries
to read a French book without knowing the language, his mind is not fitted
for contact with that of the writer, and the mental machinery will not

In the early days of the Open Shelf, before librarians had realised the
necessity of copious assignments to "floor duty," and before there were
children's librarians, I saw in a branch library a small child staggering
under the weight of a volume of Schaff's _History of the Christian
Church_, which he had taken from the shelves and was presenting at the
desk to be charged. "You are not going to read that, are you?" said the
desk assistant.

"It isn't for me; it's for me big brudder."

"What did your big brother ask you to get?"

"Oh, a Physiology!"

Nowadays, our well-organised children's rooms make such an occurrence
doubtful with the little ones, but apparently there is much of it with

Too much of our reading--I should rather say our attempts at reading--is
of this character. Such attempts are the result of a tendency to regard
the printed page as a fetich--to think that if one knows his alphabet and
can call the printed words one after another as his eye runs along the
line, some unexplained good will result, or at least that he has performed
a praiseworthy act, has "accumulated merit" somehow or somewhere, like a
Thibetan with his prayer-wheel.

It is probably a fact that if a man should meet you in the street and say,
"In beatific repentance lies jejune responsibility," you would stare at
him and pass him by, or perhaps flee from him as from a lunatic; whereas
if you saw these words printed in a book you might gravely study them to
ascertain their meaning, or still worse, might succeed in reading your own
meaning into them. The words I have strung together happen to have no
meaning, but the result would be the same if they meant something that was
hidden from the reader by his inability to understand them, no matter what
the cause of that inability might be.

This malady is doubtless spontaneous in some degree, and dependent on
failings of the human mind that we need not discuss here, but there are
signs that it is being fostered, spread, and made more acute by special
influences. Probably our educational methods are not altogether blameless.
The boy who trustfully approached a Reference Librarian and said, "I have
to write a composition on what I saw between home and school; have you got
a book about that?" had doubtless been taught that he must look in a book
for everything. The conscientious teacher who was now trying to separate
him from his notion may have been the very one who, perhaps unconsciously,
had instilled it; if so, her fault had thus returned to plague her.

The boy or girl who comes to attach a sacredness or a wizardry to the book
in itself will naturally believe, after a little, that whether he
understands what is in it matters little--and this is the malady of which
we have been complaining.

A college teacher of the differential calculus, in a time now happily long
past, when a pupil timidly inquired the reason for this or that, was wont
to fix the interrogator with his eye and say, "Sir; it is so because the
book says so!" Even in more recent days a well-known university teacher,
accustomed to use his own text-book, used to say when a student had
ventured to vary its classic phraseology, "It can not be expressed better
than in the words of the book!?" These instances, of course, are taken
from the dark ages of education, but even to-day I believe that a false
idea of the value of a printed page merely as print--not as the record of
a mind, ready to make contact with the mind of a reader--has impressed
itself too deeply on the brains of many children at an age when such
impressions are apt to be durable. Not that the schools are especially at
fault; we have all played our part in this unfortunate business. It might
all fade, at length; we all know that many good teachings of our childhood
do vanish; why should not the bad ones occasionally follow suit?

But now come in all the well-meaning instructors of the adult--the
Chautauquans, the educational extensionists, the lecturers, the
correspondence schools, the advisers of reading, the makers of booklists,
the devisers of "courses." They deepen the fleeting impression and
increase its capacity for harm, while varying slightly the mechanism that
produced it. As the child grows into a man, his childish idea that a book
will produce a certain effect independently of what it contains is apt to
yield a little to reason. The new influences, some of which I have named
above, do not attempt directly to combat this dawning intelligence; they
utilise it to complete the mental discomfiture of their victims. They
admit the necessity of comprehending the contents of the book, but they
persuade the reader that such comprehension is easier than it really is.
And they often administer specially concocted tabloids that convince one
that he knows more than he really does. Thus the unsuspecting adult goes
on reading what he does not understand, not now thinking that it does not
matter, but falsely persuaded that he has become competent to understand.

Every one of the agencies that I have named aims to do good educational
work; every one is competent to do such work; nearly every one does much
of it. I am finding fault with them only so far as they succeed in
persuading readers that they are better educated than they really are. In
this respect such agencies are precisely on a par with the proprietary
medicine that is an excellent laxative or sudorific, but is offered also
as a cure for tuberculosis or cancer.

I once heard the honoured head of a famous body that does an enormous
amount of work of this sort deliver an _apologia_, deserving of all
attention, in which he complained that his institution had been falsely
accused of superficiality. It was, he said, perfectly honest in what it
taught. If its pupils thought that the elementary knowledge they were
gaining was comprehensive and thorough, that was their fault--not his. And
vet, at that moment, the institution was posing before its pupils as a
"university" and using the forms and nomenclature of such a body to
strengthen the idea in their minds. We cannot acquit it, or any of the
agencies like it, of complicity in the causation of the malady whose
symptoms we are discussing.

It is not the fault of the women's clubs that they have fallen into line
in such an imposing procession as this. Their formation and work
constitute one of the most interesting and important manifestations of the
present feminist movement. Their rôle in it is partly social, partly
educational; and as they consist of adults, elementary education is of
course excluded from their programme. We therefore find them committed,
perhaps unconsciously, to the plan of required or recommended reading, in
a form that has long been the bane of our educational systems both in
school and out.

One of the corner-stones of this system is the idea that the acquisition
of information is valuable in itself, no matter what may be the
relationship between it and the acquiring mind, or what use of it may be
made in the future. According to this idea, if a woman can once get into
her head that the Medici were a family and not "a race of people," it
matters little that she is unfitted to comprehend why they are worth
reading about at all, or that the fact has nothing to do with what she has
ever done or is likely to be called upon to do in the future.

That the members of these clubs are willing to pursue knowledge under
these hampering conditions is of course a point in their favour, so far as
it goes. A desire for knowledge is never to be despised, even when it is
not entertained for its own sake. And a secondary desire may often be
changed into a primary one, if the task is approached in the right way.
The possibility of such a transformation is a hopeful feature of the
present situation.

The reading that is done by women in connection with club work is of
several different types. In the simplest organisations, which are reading
clubs pure and simple, a group of books, roughly equal in number to the
membership, is taken and passed around until each person has read them
all. There is no connection between them, and each volume is selected
simply on some one's statement that it is a "good book." A step higher is
the club where the books are on one general subject, selected by some one
who has been asked to prescribe a "course of reading." By easy gradations
we arrive at the final stage, where the reading is of the nature of
investigation and its outcome is an essay. A subject is decided on at the
beginning of the season. The programme committee selects several phases of
it and assigns each to a member, who prepares her essay and reads it to
the club at one of the stated meetings. In this case the reading to be
done in preparation for writing the essay may or may not be guided by the
committee. In many cases, where the local public library cooperates
actively with the clubs, a list may be made out by the librarian and
perhaps printed, with due acknowledgment, in the club's year book. No one
can doubt, in looking over typical programmes and lists among the
thousands that represent the annual reading of the women's clubs
throughout the United States, that a serious and sustained effort is being
made to introduce the intellect, as an active factor, into the lives of
thousands of women--lives where hitherto it has played little part,
whether they are millionaires or near paupers, workers or idlers. With
this aim there must be frill measure of sympathy, but I fear we can
commend it only in the back-handed fashion in which a great authority on
sociology recently commended the Socialists. "If sympathy with what they
are trying to do, as opposed to the way in which they are trying to do it,
makes one a Socialist," said the Professor, "then I am a Socialist." Here
also we may sympathise with the aim, but the results are largely dependent
on the method; and that method is the offspring of ignorance and
inefficiency. The results may be summed up in one word--superficiality. I
have elsewhere warned readers not to think that this word means simply a
slight knowledge of, a subject. A slight knowledge is all that most of us
possess, or need to possess, about most subjects. I know a little about
Montenegro for instance--something of its origin and relationships, its
topography, the names and characteristics of a city or two, the racial and
other peculiarities of its inhabitants. Yet I should cut a poor figure
indeed in an examination on Montenegrin history, geography or government.
Is my knowledge "superficial"? It could not properly be so stigmatised
unless I should pose as an authority on Montenegro, or unless my
opportunities to know about the country had been so great that failure to
take advantage of them should argue mental incapacity. The trouble with
the reading-lists and programmes of our women's clubs, inherited in some
degree from our general educational methods, is that they emphasise their
own content and ignore what they do not contain, to such an extent that
those who use them remain largely in ignorance of the fact that the former
bears a very small proportion indeed to the latter.

It was once my duty to act as private tutor in algebra and geometry to a
young man preparing for college. He was bright and industrious, but I
found that he was under the impression that when he had gone to the end of
his text-books in those two subjects he would have mastered, not only all
the algebra and geometry, but all the mathematics, that the world held in
store. And when this story has been told in despair to some very
intelligent persons they have commented: "Well, there isn't much more, is

The effort of the text-book writer, as well as that of the maker of
programmes, lists, and courses, appears to have been to produce what he
calls a "well-rounded" effect; in other words, to make the student think
that the whole subject--in condensed form perhaps, but still the
whole--lies within what he has turned out. Did you ever see a chemistry
that gave, or tried to give, an idea of the world of chemical knowledge
that environs its board cover? One has to become a Newton before he feels,
with that sage, like a child, playing on the sands, with the great,
unexplored ocean of knowledge stretching out before him. Most students are
rather like ducks in a barn-yard puddle, quite sure that they are familiar
with the whole world and serene in that knowledge.

Most writers of text-books would indignantly deny that this criticism
implies a fault. It is none of their business, they would say, to call
attention to what is beyond their scope. So be it. Unfortunately, every
one feels in the same way and so the horizon of our women's clubs is that
of the puddle instead of the ocean.

It is a most interesting fact in this connection that there exist certain
organisations which make a business of furnishing clubwomen with
information for their papers. I have heard this service described as a
"godsend," to clubs in small places where there are no libraries, or where
the libraries are poorly equipped with books and _personnel_. But, if I am
correctly informed, the service does not stop with the supply of raw
material; it goes on to the finished product, and the perplexed lady who
is required to read a paper on "Melchisedek" or on "Popular Errors
Regarding the Theory of Groups," may for an adequate fee, or possibly even
for an inadequate one, obtain a neatly typewritten manuscript on the
subject, ready to read.

This sort of thing is not at all to be wondered at. It has gone on since
the dawn of time with college theses, clergymen's sermons, the orations
and official papers of statesmen. Whenever a man is confronted with an
intellectual task that he dare not shirk, and yet has not the intellect or
the interest to perform, the first thing he thinks of is to hire some one
to do it for him, and this demand has always been great enough and
widespread enough to make it profitable for some one to organise the
supply on a commercial basis. What interests us in the present case is the
fact that its existence in the woman's club affords an instant clue to the
state of mind of many of its members. They have this in common with the
plagiarising pupil, clergyman, or statesman--they are called upon to do
something in which they have only a secondary interest. The minister who
reads a sermon on the text "Thou Shalt Not Steal," and considers that the
fact that he has paid five dollars for it will absolve him from the charge
of inconsistency, does not--cannot--feel any desire to impress his
congregation with a desire for right living--he wants only to hold his
job. The university student who, after ascertaining that there is no
copyable literature in the Library on "Why I Came to College," pays a
classmate a dollar to give this information to the Faculty, cares nothing
about the question; but he does care to avoid discipline. So the clubwoman
who reads a purchased essay on "Ireland in the Fourteenth Century," has
not the slightest interest in the subject; but she does want to remain a
member of her club, in good and regular standing. It is the same
substitution of adventitious for natural motives and stimuli that works
intellectual havoc from the mother's knee up to the Halls of Congress.

When I assert boldly that at the present time the majority of vague and
illogical readers are women, and that women's clubs are responsible for
much of that kind of reading, I shall doubtless incur the displeasure of
the school of feminists who seem bent on minimising the differences
between the two sexes. Obvious physical differences they have not been
able to explain away, and to deny that corresponding mental differences
exist is to shut one's eyes to all the teachings of modern physiology. The
mental life is a function, not of the brain alone, but of the whole
nervous system of which the brain is but the principal ganglion. Cut off a
man's legs, and you have removed something from his mental, as well as
from his physical equipment. That men and women should have minds of the
same type is a physiological impossibility. A familiar way of stating the
difference is to say that in the man's mind reason predominates, in the
woman's, intuition. There is doubtless something to be said for this
statement of the distinction, but it is objectionable because it is
generally interpreted to mean--quite unnecessarily--that a woman's mind is
inferior to a man's--a distinction about as foolish as it would be to say
the negative electricity is inferior to positive, or cold to heat. The
types are in most ways supplementary, and a combination of the two has
always been a potent intellectual force--one of the strongest arguments
for marriage as an institution. When we try to do the work of the world
with either type alone we have generally made a mess of it. And the
outcome seems to make it probable that the female type is especially prone
to become the prey of fallacies like that which has brought about the
present flood of useless, or worse than useless, reading.

I shall doubtless be asked whether I assert that one type of mind belongs
always to the man and one to the woman. By no means. I do not even lay
emphasis on the necessity of naming the two types "male" and "female." All
I say is that the types exist--with those intermediate cases that always
bother the classifier--and that the great majority of men possess one type
and the great majority of women the other. It is possible that differences
of training may have originated or at least emphasised the types; it is
possible that future training may obliterate the lines that separate them,
but I do not believe it. I am even afraid of trying the experiment, for
there is reason to believe that its success in the mental field might
react unfavourably on those physical differences on which the future of
the race depends. We may have gone too far in this direction already; else
why the feverish anxiety of the girls' colleges to prove that their
graduates are marrying and bearing children?

The fact is that the problem of the education of the sexes is not yet
solved. Educating one sex alone didn't work; neither, I believe, does the
present plan of educating both alike, whether in the same institution, or

II--_A Diagnosis_

Reading, like conversation, is, or ought to be, a contact between two
minds. The difference is that while one may talk only with his
contemporaries and neighbours one may read the words of a writer far
distant both in time and space. It is no wonder, perhaps, that the printed
word has become a fetish, but fetishes of any kind are not in accordance
with the spirit of the age, and their veneration should be discouraged.
Reading in which the contact of minds is of secondary importance, or even
cuts no figure at all, is meaningless and valueless.

In a previous paper, reasons have been given for believing that reading of
this kind is peculiarly prevalent among the members of women's clubs. The
value of these organisations is so great, and the services that they have
rendered to women, and through them to the general cause of social
betterment, are so evident, that it seems well worth while to examine the
matter a little more closely, and to complete a diagnosis based on the
study of the symptoms that have already presented themselves. As most of
the reading done in connection with clubs is in preparation for the
writing and reading of papers, we may profitably, perhaps, direct our
attention to this phase of the subject.

Most persons will agree, probably, that the average club paper is not
notably worth while. It is written by a person not primarily and vitally
interested in the subject, and it is read to an assemblage most of whom
are similarly devoid of interest--the whole proceeding being more or less
perfunctory. Could it be expected that reading done in connection with
such a performance should be valuable?

This is worth pondering, because it is a fact that almost all the vital
informative literature that is produced at first hand sees the light in
connection with clubs and associations--bodies that publish journals,
"transactions" or "proceedings" for the especial purpose of printing the
productions of their members.

This literature, for the most part, does not come to the notice of the
general reader. The ordinary books on the technical subjects of which it
treats are not raw material, but a manufactured product--compilations from
the original sources. And the pity of it is that very many of them, often
the best of them from a purely literary point of view, are so
unsatisfactory, viewed from the point of view of accomplishment. They do
not do what they set out to do; they are full of misunderstandings,
misinterpretations, interpolations and omissions. It is the old story;
those who know won't tell and the task is assumed by those who are
eminently able to tell, but don't know. The scientific expert despises the
public, which is forced to get its information through glib but ignorant
expounders. This is a digression, but it may serve to illuminate the
situation, which is that the authoritative literature of special subjects
sees the light almost wholly in the form of papers, read before clubs and
associations. Evidently there is nothing in the mere fact that a paper is
to be read before a club, to make it trivial or valueless. Yet how much
that is of value to the world first saw the light in a paper read before a
woman's club? How much original thought, how much discovery, how much
invention, how much inspiration, is put into their writing and emanates
from their reading?

There must be a fundamental difference of some kind between the
constitution and the methods of these two kinds of clubs. A study of this
difference will throw light on the kind of reading that must be done in
connection with each and may explain, in great part, why the reading done
for women's club-papers is what it is.

A scientific or technical society exists largely for the purpose of
informing its members of the original work that is being done by each of
them. When anyone has accomplished such work or has made such progress
that he thinks an account of what he has done would be interesting, he
sends a description of it to the proper committee, which decides whether
it shall be read and discussed at a meeting, or published in the
Proceedings, or both, or neither. The result depends on the size of the
membership, on its activity, and on the value of its work. It may be that
the programme committee has an embarrassment of riches from which to
select, or that there is poverty instead. But in no case does it arrange a
programme. The Physical Society, if that is its name and subject, does not
decide that it will devote the meetings of the current season to a
consideration of Radio-activity and assign to specified members the
reading of papers on Radio-active springs, the character of Radium
Emanation, and so on. If it did, it would doubtless get precisely the same
results that we are complaining of in the case of the Woman's Club. A man
whose specialty is thermodynamics might be told off to prepare a paper on
Radio-active Elements in Rocks--a subject in which he is not interested.
He could have nothing new nor original to say on the subject and his paper
would be a mere compilation. It would not even be a good compilation, for
his interest and his skill would lie wholly in another direction. The good
results that the society does get are wholly dependent on the fact that
each writer is full of new information that he desires, above all things,
to communicate to his fellow-members.

In the preparation of such a paper, one needs, of course, to read, and
often to read widely. Much of the reading will be done in connection with
the work described, or even before it is begun. No one wishes to undertake
an investigation that has already been made by someone else, and so the
first thing that a competent investigator does is to survey his field and
ascertain what others have accomplished in it. This task is by no means
easy, for such information is often hidden in journals and transactions
that are difficult to reach, and the published indexes of such material,
though wonderfully advanced on the road toward perfection in the past
twenty years, have yet far to travel before they reach it, Not only the
writer's description of what he has done or ascertained, but the character
of the work itself; the direction it takes--the inferences that he draws
from it, will be controlled and coloured by what he reads of others' work.
And even if he finds it easy to ascertain what has been done and to get at
the published accounts and discussions of it, the mass may be so great
that he has laid out for him a course of reading that may last many

But mark the spirit with which he attacks it! He is at work on something
that seems to him supremely worth while. He is labouring to find out
truth, to dissipate error, to help his fellow-men to know something or to
do something. The impulse to read, and to read much and thoroughly, is so
powerful that it may even need judicious repression. The difference
between this kind of reading and that done in the preparation of a paper
to fill a place in a set programme hardly needs emphasis.

The preparation of papers for professional and technical societies has
been dwelt upon at such length, because I see no reason why the impulse to
reading that it furnishes cannot also be placed at the disposal of the
woman's club; and I shall have some suggestions toward this end in a
future article.

Meanwhile, I shall doubtless be told that it is unfair to compare the
woman's club, with its didactic aim, and the scientific association of
trained and interested investigators. It is true that we have plenty of
clubs--some of men alone, some of both sexes--whose object is to listen to
interesting and instructive papers on a set subject, often forming part of
a pre-arranged programme. These, however, need our attention here only so
far as the papers are prepared by members of the club, and in this case
they are in precisely the same class as the woman's club. In many cases,
however, the paper is merely the excuse for a social gathering, perhaps at
a dinner or a luncheon. Of course if the paper or lecture is by an expert
invited to give it, the case falls altogether outside of the region that
we are exploring.

I am condemning here all clubs, formed for an avowed educational or
cultural purpose, that adopt set programmes and assign the subjects to
their own members. I am deploring the kind of reading to which this leads,
the kind of papers that are prepared in this way, and the kind of thought
and action that are the inevitable outcome.

It would seem that the women's clubs now form an immense majority of all
organisations of this kind and that there are reasons for warning women
that they are specially prone to this kind of mistake.

The diversity of interests of the average man, the wideness of his
contacts--the whole tradition of his sex--tends to minimise the injury
that may be done to him, intellectually and spiritually, by anything of
this kind. The very fact that he is the woman's inferior spiritually, and
in many cases, in intellect, also--although probably not at the
maximum--relieves him, in great part, of the odium attaching to the error
that has been described. Women are becoming keenly alive to the
deficiencies of their sex-tradition; they are trying to broaden their
intellectual contacts--that is the great modern feminist movement. Some of
those who are active in it are making two mistakes--they are ignoring the
differences between the sexes and they are trying to substitute revolution
for evolution. In this latter error they are in very good company--hardly
one of the great and the good has not made it, at some time and in some
way. Revolution is always the outcome of a mistake. The mistake may be
antecedent and irrevocable, and the revolution therefore necessary, but
this is rarely the case. The revolutionist runs a risk common to all who
are in a hurry--he may break the object of his attention instead of moving
it. When he wants to hand you a dish he hits it with a ball-bat. Taking a
reasonable amount of time is better in the long run.

That there is no royal road to knowledge has long been recognised. The
trouble with most of us is that we have interpreted this to mean that the
acquisition of knowledge must always be a distasteful process. On the
contrary, the vivid interest that is the surest guide to knowledge is also
the surest smoother of the path. Given the interest that lures the student
on, and he will spend years in surmounting rocks and breaking through
thorny jungles, realising their difficulties perhaps, but rejoicing the
more when those difficulties prove no obstacles.

The fact that the first step toward accomplishment is to create an
interest has long been recognised, but attempts have been made too often
to do it by devious ways, unrelated to the matter in hand. Students have
been made to study history or algebra by offering prizes to the diligent
and by threatening the slothful with punishment. More indirect rewards and
punishments abound in all our incitements to effort and need not be
mentioned here. They may often be effective, but the further removed they
are from direct personal interest in the subject, the weaker and the less
permanent is the result. You may offer a boy a dollar to learn certain
facts in English history, but those facts will not be fixed so well or so
lastingly in his mind as those connected with his last year's trip to
California, which he remembers easily without offer of reward or threat of

The interest in the facts gathered by reading in connection with the
average club paper is merely the result of a desire to remain in good
standing by fulfilling the duties of membership; and these duties may be
fulfilled with slight effort and no direct interest, as we have already

If interest were present even at the inception of the programme, something
would be gained; but in too many cases it is not. The programme committee
must make some kind of a programme, but what it is to be they know little
and care less.

Two women recently entered a branch library and asked the librarian, who
was busy charging books at the desk, what two American dramatists she
considered "foremost." This was followed by the request, "Please tell me
the two best plays of each of them." A few minutes later the querists
returned and asked the same question about English dramatists, and still
later about German, Russian, Italian and Spanish writers of the drama.
Each time they eagerly wrote down the information and then retired to the
reading-room for a few minutes' consultation.

Finally they propounded a question that was beyond the librarian's
knowledge, and then she asked why they wanted to know.

"We are making out the programme for our next year's study course in the
Blank Club," was the answer.

"But you mustn't take my opinion as final," protested the scandalised
librarian. "You ought to read up everything you can find about dramatists.
I may have left out the most important ones."

"This will do nicely," said the club-woman, as she folded her sheets of
paper. And it did--whether nicely or not deponent saith not? but it
certainly constituted the club programme.

On another occasion a clubwoman entered the library and said with an air
of importance, "I want your material on Susanna H. Brown."

The librarian had never heard of Susanna, but experience had taught her
modesty and also a certain degree of guile, so she merely said, "What do
you want to know about her, particularly?"

"Our club wishes to discuss her contributions to American literature."

Now the Brown family has been active in letters, from Charles Brockden
down to Alice, but no one seems to know of Susanna H. The librarian
contrived to put off the matter until she could make some investigations
of her own, but, all the resources of the central reference room proving
unequal to the task, she timidly asked the clubwoman, at her next visit,
to solve the problem.

"Oh, we don't know who Susanna H. Brown was; that is why we came to you
for information!"

"But where did you find the name?"

"Well, I don't know exactly; but one of our members, in a conversation
with some one who knows a lot about literature--I forget just who it
was--was told that Susanna H. Brown had rendered noteworthy services to
American literature. We've got to find out, for her name is already
printed on the programme!"

I don't know what was said of Miss, or Mrs. Brown at the meeting; but my
opinion is that this particular item on the programme had to be omitted.

Another lady entered a library abruptly and said "I want your books on

"Do you mean the country of that name? or are you looking up porcelain?"

First perplexity and then dismay spread over the lady's face. "Why, I
don't know," she faltered. "The program just said China!"

A university professor was once asked by one of these program committees
for a list of references on German folklore--a subject to which it had
decided that its club should devote the current season. The list, as
furnished, proved rather stiff, and the astonished professor received
forthwith the following epistle (quoted from memory):


"Thank you so much for the folk-lore; but we have changed our minds and
have decided to study the Chicago Drainage Canal instead."

This hap-hazard method of programme-making is not confined to club papers,
as the following anecdote will show:

An officer of a woman's club entered a library and said that she thought
it would be nice to vary the usual literary programme by the introduction
of story-telling, and she asked for aid from the library staff. It was a
busy season and as the librarian hesitated the clubwoman added hastily
that the whole programme need not occupy more than half an hour. "We want
the very simplest things, told in a few words, so that it will really be
no trouble at all."

Pressed to be more specific, she went on: "Well--no story must take more
than three minutes, and we want Little Nell, Louis IX, Moses in the
Bulrushes, the Princes in the Tower, Cinderella, Jack and the Bean Stalk,
the Holy Night and Louis XI.

"You see that allowing three minutes apiece would bring them all within
twenty-four minutes--less than half an hour, just as I said.

"And--oh, yes! we want the storyteller to sit on a platform, and just in
front of her we will pose a group of little girls, all in white frocks.
Won't that be nice?"

The making of programmes has in many cases been influenced by the fact
that some subjects are considered more "high-toned" than others. The drama
is at present a particularly high-toned subject. The fine arts are always
placed in the first class. Apparently anything closely related to the
personal lives, habits and interests of those concerned is under a ban.
The fine arts, for instance, are not recognised as including the patterns
of wall-paper or curtains, or the decoration of plates or cups. Copying
from one programme to another is a common expedient. The making of these
programmes betrays, all through its processes and their inevitable result,
lack of originality, blind adherence to models, unquestioning imitation of
something that has gone before. I do not believe these to be
sex-characteristics, and there are signs that the sex is growing out of
them. If they are not sex characteristics they must be the results of
education, for ordinary heredity would quickly equalise the sexes in this
respect. I have already stated my belief that the physical differences
between the sexes are necessarily accompanied by mental differences, and I
think it probable that the characteristics noted above, although not
proper to sex, spring from the fact that we are expecting like results
from the same educational treatment of unlike minds. When we have learned
how to vary our treatment of these minds so as to produce like results--in
those cases where we want the results to be alike, as in the present
instance--we shall have solved the problem of education, so far as it
affects sex-differences.

It has long been recognised that whenever woman does show a deviation from
standards she is apt to deviate far and erratically. So far, however, she
has shown no marked tendency so to deviate in the arts and a very slight
one in the sciences. There have been lately some marked instances of her
upward deviation in the field of science. In literature, no age has been
wanting in great woman writers, though there have been few of them. I look
eventually to see woman physicists as eminent as Helmholtz and Kelvin,
woman painters as great as Raphael and Velasquez, woman musicians as able
as Bach and Beethoven. That we have had none yet I believe to be solely
the fault of inadequate education. Of this inadequacy our imitative,
arbitrary and uninspiring club programmes are a part--the very fact that
our clubwomen pin their faith to programmes of any kind is a consequence
of it. The substitution of something else for these programmes, with the
accompanying change in the interests and reading of clubwomen, will be one
step toward the rationalisation of education--for all processes of this
kind are essentially educative.

We need not despair of finding ultimately the exact differences in method
which, applied in the education of the sexes, will minimise such of the
present mental differences as we desire to obliterate. Problems of this
sort are solved usually by the discovery of some automatic process. In
this case the key to such a process is the fact that the mental
differences between the sexes manifest themselves in differences of

Every parent of boys and girls knows that these differences begin early to
show themselves. We have been too prone to disregard them and to
substitute a set of imagined differences that do not really exist. We go
about the moral training of the boy and the girl in precisely the same
way, although their moral points of view and susceptibilities differ in
degree and kind; and then we marvel that we do not get precisely similar
moral products. But we assume that there is some natural objection to the
climbing of trees by girls, while it is all right for boys--an imaginary
distinction that has caused tears and heart-burnings. We are outgrowing
this particular imaginary distinction, and some others like it. Possibly
we may also outgrow our systems of co-education, so far as this means the
subjection of the male and the female mind to exactly the same processes
of training. The training of the sexes in the same institution, with its
consequent mental contact between them, has nothing to do with this,
necessarily, and has advantages that cannot be overlooked.

Whatever we do in school, our subsequent education, which goes on at least
as long as we inhabit this world, must be in and through social contact,
men and women together. But if each sex is not true to itself and does not
live its own life, the results cannot be satisfactory. Reactions that are
sought in an effort made by women to conform their instincts, aspirations
and mental processes to those of men will be feeble or perverted, just as
they would be if men should seek a similar distortion. The remedy is to
let the woman's mind swing into the channel of least resistance, just as
the man's always has done. Then the clubs, and the clubwomen, their
exercises, their papers and their preparatory reading will all be released
from the constraint that is now pinching them and pinning them down and
will bud and blossom and grow up to normal and valuable fruition.

We have started with the fact that the reading done by the members of
women's clubs, especially in connection with club papers, is often
trivial, superficial, devoid of intelligence and lacking in judgment.
Treating this as a symptom; we have, I think, traced the cause to a total
lack of interest due to arbitrary, perfunctory and unintelligent
programme-making. The disease may be diagnosed, I think, as acute
programitis and the physician is in a position to consider what
therapeutic measures may be indicated. We shall endeavor to prescribe some
simple remedies.

III--_The Remedy_

When we have once discovered the cause of a malady, we may proceed in two
ways to combat it; either we may destroy the cause or we may render the
possible victims immune. To put it a little differently, we may eliminate
either of the two elements whose conjunction causes the disease. To grow
weeds, there must co-exist their seeds and a favourable soil. They may be
exterminated either by killing the seeds or sterilising the soil. Either
of these methods may be used in dealing with the disease that prevails
among readers, or, if you prefer the other metaphor, with the rank
vegetation that has choked the fertile soil of their minds, making any
legitimate mental crop impossible. We have seen that the conditions
favorable to the disease are a lack of interest and a fallacious idea that
there is something inherent in the printed page _per se_ that makes its
perusal valuable whether the reader is interested or not--somewhat as a
charm is supposed to work even when it is in a language that the user does
not understand.

We are considering only the form of the disease that affects clubwomen,
and this we have diagnosed as _programitis_--the imposition of a set
programme of work--which, as an exciting cause, operates on the mental
soil prepared by indifference and fetichism to produce the malady from
which so many are now suffering.

I think physicians will generally agree that where the exciting cause can
be totally removed that method of dealing with the disease is far more
effective than any attempt to secure immunity. I believe that in most
cases it is so in the present instance.

In other words, my prescription is the abandonment, in nine cases out of
ten, of the set programme, and the substitution of something that is
interesting primarily to each individual concerned. This is no new
doctrine. Listen to William James:

    Any object not interesting in itself may become interesting
    through becoming associated with an object in which an interest
    already exists. The two associated objects grow, as it were,
    together: the interesting portion sheds its quality over the
    whole; and thus things not interesting in their own right borrow
    an interest which becomes as real and as strong as that of any
    natively interesting thing.... If we could recall for a moment our
    whole individual history, we should see that our professional
    ideals and the zeal they inspire are due to nothing but the slow
    accretion of one mental object to another, traceable backward from
    point to point till we reach the moment when, in the nursery or in
    the schoolroom, some little story told, some little object shown,
    some little operation witnessed, brought the first new object and
    new interest within our ken by associating it with some one of
    those primitively there. The interest now suffusing the whole
    system took its rise in that little event, so insignificant to us
    now as to be entirely forgotten. As the bees in swarming cling to
    one another in layers till the few are reached whose feet grapple
    the bough from which the swarm depends; so with the objects of our
    thinking--they hang to each other by associated links, but the
    original source of interest in all of them is the native interest
    which the earliest one once possessed.

If we are to exorcise this spirit of indifference that has settled down
like a miasma upon clubdom we must find James's original germ of
interest--the twig upon which our cluster of bees is ultimately to hang.
Here we may introduce two axioms: Everyone is deeply interested in
something; few are supremely interested in the same thing. I shall not
attempt to prove these, and what I shall have to say will be addressed
only to those who can accept them without proof. But I am convinced that
illustrations will occur at once to everyone. Who has not seen the man or
woman, the boy or girl who, apparently stupid, indifferent and able to
talk only in monosyllables, is suddenly shocked into interest and
volubility by the mere chance mention of some subject of
conversation--birds, or religion, or Egyptian antiquities, or dolls, or
skating, or Henry the Eighth? There are millions of these electric buttons
for galvanising dumb clay into mental and spiritual life, and no one of
them is likely to act upon more than a very few in a given company--the
theory of chances is against it. That is why no possible programme could
be made that would fit more than a very small portion of a given club. We
have seen that many club-programmes are made with an irreducible minimum
of intelligence; but even a programme committee with superhuman intellect
and angelic goodwill could never compass the solution of such a problem as
this. Nor will it suffice to abandon the general programme and endeavour
to select for each speaker the subject that he would like best to study
and expound. No one knows what these subjects are but the owners of the
hearts that love them.

We have seen how the scientific and technical societies manage the matter
and how well they succeed. They appoint a committee whose duty it is to
receive contributions and to select the worthiest among those presented.
The matter then takes care of itself. These people are all interested in
something. They are finding out things by experimentation or thought; by
induction or deduction. It is the duty and the high pleasure of each to
tell his fellows of his discoveries. It is in this way that the individual
gives of his best to the race--the triumph of the social instinct over
selfishness. As this sort of intellectual profit-sharing becomes more and
more common, the reign of the social instinct will extend and strengthen.
To do one's part toward such an end ought to be a pleasure, and this is
one reason why this course is commended here to the women's clubs.

Everyone, I repeat, is deeply interested in something. I am not talking of
idiots; there are no such in women's clubs. I have been telling some odd
stories of clubwomen, in which they are represented as doing and saying
idiotic things. These stories are all true, and if one should take the
time to collect and print others, I do not suppose, as the sacred writer
says, "that all the world could contain the books that should be written."
Things quite as idiotic as these that I have reported are said and done in
every city and every hamlet of these United States every day in the year
and every hour in the day--except possibly between three and five A.M.,
and sometimes even then. Yet those who say and do these things are not
idiots. When your friend Brown is telling you his pet anecdote for the
thirty-fifth time, or when Smith insists that you listen to a recital of
the uninteresting accomplishments of his newly-arrived infant, you may
allow your thoughts to wander and make some inane remark, yet you are not
an idiot. You are simply not interested. You are using most of your mind
in another direction and it is only with what is left of it that you hear
Brown or Smith and talk to him. Brown or Smith is not dealing with your
personality as a whole, but with a residuum.

And this is what is the matter with the clubwomen who read foolishly and
ask foolish questions in libraries. They are residual personalities. Not
being at all interested in the matter in hand, they are devoting to it
only a minimum part of their brains; and what they do and say is
comparable with the act of the perambulating professor, who, absorbed in
mathematical calculation, lifted his hat to the cow.

The professor was perhaps pardonable, for his mind was not wandering--it
was suffering, on the contrary, from excessive concentration--but it was
not concentrated on the cow. In the case of the clubwomen, the role of the
cow is played by the papers that they are preparing, while, in lieu of the
mathematical problems, we have a variety of really absorbing subjects,
more or less important, over which their minds are wandering. What we must
do is to capture these wandering minds, and this we can accomplish only by
enlisting their own knowledge of what interests them.

If you would realise the difference between the mental processes of a mere
residue and those of the whole personality when its vigour is concentrated
on one subject, listen first to one of those perfunctory essays, culled
from a collection of cyclopædias, and then hear a whole woman throw her
whole self into something. Hear her candid opinion of some person or thing
that has fallen below her standard! Hear her able analysis of the case at
law between her family and the neighbours! Hear her make a speech on woman
suffrage--I mean when it is really to her the cause of causes; there are
those who take it up for other reasons, as the club-women do their papers,
with not dissimilar results. In all these cases clearness of presentation,
weight of invective, keenness of analysis spring from interest. None of
these women, if she has a feminine mind, treats these things as a man
would. We men are very apt to complain of the woman's mental processes,
for the same reason that narrow "patriots" always suspect and deride the
methods of a foreigner, simply because they are strange and we do not
understand them. But what we are compelled to think of the results is
shown by the fact that when we are truly wise we are apt to seek the
advice and counsel of the other sex and to act upon it, even when we
cannot fathom the processes by which it was reached.

All the more reason this why the woman should be left to herself and not
forced to model her club paper on the mental processes of a man, used with
many necessary elisions and sometimes with very bad workmanship, in the
construction of the cyclopædia article never intended to be employed for
any such purpose.

Perhaps we can never make the ordinary clubwoman talk like Susan B.
Anthony, or Anna Shaw, or Beatrice Hale, or Fola La Follette; any more
than we can put into the mouth of the ordinary business man the words of
Lincoln, or John B. Gough, or Phillips Brooks, or Raymond Robins--but get
somehow into the weakest of either sex the impulses, the interests, the
energies that once stood or now stand behind the utterances of any one of
these great Americans, and see if the result is not something worth while!
An appreciative critic of the first paper in this series, writing in _The
Yale Alumni Weekly_, gives it as his opinion that these readers are in the
first stage of their education--that of "initial intellectual interest."
He says: "Curiosity, then suspicion, come later to grow into individual
intellectual judgment."

I wish I could agree that what we have diagnosed as a malady is only an
early stage of something that is ultimately to develop into matured
judgment. But the facts seem clearly to show that, far from possessing
"initial intellectual interest," these readers are practically devoid of
any kind of interest whatever, properly speaking. Such as they have is not
proper to the subject, but simply due to the fact that they desire to
retain their club membership, to fulfil their club duties, and to act in
general as other women do in other clubs. To go back to our recent simile,
it is precisely the same interest that keeps you listening, or pretending
to listen, to a bore, while you are really thinking of something else. If
you were free to follow your impulses, you would insult the bore, or throw
him downstairs, or retreat precipitately. You are inhibited by your sense
of propriety and your recognition of what is due to a fellow-man, no
matter how boresome he may be. The clubwoman doubtless has a strong
impulse to throw the encyclopædia out of the window, or to insult the
librarian (occasionally she does) or even to resign from the club. She is
prevented, in like manner, by her sense of propriety, and often, too, we
must admit, by a real, though rudimentary, desire for knowledge. But such
inhibitions cannot develop into judgment. They are merely negative, while
the interest that has a valuable outcome is positive.

Another thing that we shall do well to remember is that no condition or
relation one of whose elements or factors is the human mind can ever be
properly considered apart from that mind. Shakespeare's plays would seem
to be fairly unalterable. Shakespeare is dead and cannot change them, and
they have been written down in black and white this many a year. But the
real play, so far as it makes any difference to us to-day, is not in the
books; or, at least, the book is but one of its elements. It is the effect
produced upon the auditor, and of this a very important element is the
auditor's mental and spiritual state. Considered from this standpoint,
Shakespeare's plays have been changing ever since they were written.
Environment, physical and mental, has altered; the language has developed;
the plain, ordinary talk of Shakespeare's time now seems to us quaint and
odd; every-day allusions have become cryptic. It all "ain't up to date,"
to quote the Cockney's complaint about it. Probably no one to-day can
under any circumstances get the same reaction to a play of Shakespeare as
that of his original audience, and probably no one ever will.

Anecdotes possess a sort of centripetal force; tales illustrative of the
matter at hand have been flying to me from all parts of the country. From
the Pacific Northwest comes this, which seems pertinent just here. A good
clubwoman, who had been slaving all day over a paper on Chaucer, finally
at its close threw down her pen and exclaimed, "Oh, dear! I wish Chaucer
were _dead_!" She had her wish in more senses than the obvious one. Not
only has Chaucer's physical body long ago given up its substance to earth
and air, but his works have to be translated for most readers of the
present day; his language is fast becoming as dead as Latin or Greek. But,
worse still, Ills very spirit was dead, so far as its reaction on her was
concerned. Poetry, to you and me, is what we make of it; and what do you
suppose our friend from Oregon was making of Chaucer? Our indifference,
our failure to react, is thus more far-reaching than its influence on
ourselves--it is, in some sense, a sin against the immortal souls of those
who have bequeathed their spiritual selves to the world in books. And this
sin the clubs are, in more cases than I care to think, forcing
deliberately upon their members.

A well-known cartoonist toiled long in early life at some uncongenial task
for a pittance. Meanwhile he drew pictures for fun, and one day a
journalist, seeing one of his sketches, offered him fifty dollars for
it--the salary of many days. "And when," said the cartoonist, "I found I
could get more money by playing than by working, I swore I would never
work again--and I haven't."

When we can all play--do exactly what we like--and keep ourselves and the
world running by it, then the Earthly Paradise will be achieved. But,
meanwhile, cannot we realize that these clubwomen will accomplish more if
we can direct and control their voluntary activity, backed by their whole
mental energy, than when they devote some small part of their minds to an
uncongenial task, dictated by a programme committee?

I shall doubtless be reminded that the larger clubs are now generally
divided into sections, and that membership in these sections is supposed
to be dictated by interest. This is a step in the right direction, but it
is an excessively short one. The programme, with all its vicious
accompaniments and lamentable results, persists. What I have said and
shall say applies as well to an art or a domestic science section as to a
club _in toto_.

To bring down the treatment to a definite prescription, let us suppose
that the committee in charge of a club's activities, instead of marking
out a definite programme for the season, should simply announce that
communications on subjects of personal interest to the members, embodying
some new and original thought, method, idea, device, or mode of treatment,
would be received, and that the best of these would be read and discussed
before the club, after which some would appear in print. No conditions
would be stated, but it would be understood that such features as length
and style, as well as subject matter, would be considered in selecting the
papers to be read. Above all, it would be insisted that no paper should be
considered that was merely copied from anything, either in substance or
idea. It is, of course, possible to constitute a paper almost entirely of
quotations and yet so to group and discuss these that the paper becomes an
original contribution to thought; but mere parrot-like repetition of
ascertained facts, or of other people's thoughts, should not be tolerated.

Right here the first obstacle would be encountered. Club members,
accustomed to be assigned for study subjects like "The Metope of the
Parthenon" or "The True Significance of Hyperspace," will not easily
comprehend that they are really desired to put briefly on paper original
ideas about something that they know at first hand. Mrs. Jones makes
better sponge cake than any one in town; the fact is known to all her
friends. If sponge cake is a desirable product, why should not the woman
who has discovered the little knack that turns failure into success, and
who is proud of her ability and special knowledge, tell her club of it,
instead of laboriously copying from a book--or, let us say, from two or
three books--some one else's compilation of the facts ascertained at
second or third hand by various other writers on "The Character of the
Cid"? Why should not Mrs. Smith, who was out over night in the blizzard of
1888, recount lier experiences, mental as well as physical? Why should not
Miss Robinson, who collects coins and differs from the accepted
authorities regarding the authenticity of certain of her specimens, tell
why and how and all about it? Why should not the member who is crazy about
begonias and the one who thinks she saw Uncle Hiram's ghost, and she who
has read and re-read George Meredith, seeing beauties in him that no one
else ever detected--why should not one and all give their fellows the
benefit of the really valuable special knowledge that they have acquired
through years of interested thinking and talking and doing?

But there will be trouble, as I have said. The thing, simple as it is,
would be too unaccustomed to comprehend. And then a real article in a real
cyclopædia by a real writer is Information with a big "I." My little
knowledge about making quince jelly, or darning stockings, or driving an
auto, or my thoughts about the intellectual differences between Dickens
and Thackeray, or my personal theories of conduct, or my reasons for
preferring hot-water heat to steam--these are all too trivial to mention;
is it possible that you want me to write them down on paper?

It may thus happen that when the committee opens its mail it may
find--nothing. What, then? Logically, I should be forced to say: Well, if
none of your members is interested enough in anything to have some
original information to tell about it, disband your club. What is the use
of it? Even three newsboys, when they meet on the street corner, begin at
once to interchange ideas. Where are yours?

Possibly this would be too drastic. It might be better to hold a meeting,
state the failure, and adjourn for another trial. It might be well to
repeat this several times, in the hope that the fact that absence of
original ideas means no proceedings might soak in and germinate. If this
does not work, it might be possible to fight the devil with fire, by going
back to the programme method so far as to assign definitely to members
subjects in which they are known to be deeply interested. This, in fact,
is the second method of treatment mentioned at the outset, namely, the
endeavour to secure immunity where the germ cannot be exterminated. We
shall probably never be able to rid the world of the _bacillus
tuberculosis_; the best we can do is to keep as clear of it as we can and
to strengthen our powers of resistance to it. So, if we cannot kill the
programme all at once, let us strive to make it innocuous and to minimise
its evil effects on its victims.

Let us suppose, now, that in one way or another, it is brought about that
every club member who reads a paper is reporting the result of some
personal experience in which her interest is vivid--some discovery,
acquisition, method, idea, criticism or appreciation that is the product
of her own life and of the particular, personal way in which she has lived

What a result this will have on that woman's reading--on what she does
before she writes her paper and on what she goes through after it! If her
interest is as vivid as we assume it to be, she will not be content to
recount her own experiences without comparing them with those of others.
And after her paper has been read and the comment and criticism of other
interested members have been brought out--of some, perhaps, whose interest
she had never before suspected, then she will feel a fresh impulse to
search for new accounts and to devour them. There is no longer anything
perfunctory about the matter. She can no longer even trust the labour of
looking up her references to others. She becomes an investigator; she
feels something of the joy of those who add to the sum of human knowledge.

And lo! the problem of clubwomen's reading is solved! The wandering mind
is captured; the inane residuum is abolished by union with the rest to
form a normal, intelligent whole. No more idiotic questions, no more
cyclopædia-copying, no more wool-gathering programmes. Is it too much to
expect? Alas, we are but mortal!

I trust it has been made sufficiently clear that I think meanly neither of
the intellectual ability of women nor of the services of women's clubs.
The object of these papers is to give the former an opportunity to assert
itself, and the latter a chance to profit by the assertion. The woman's
club of the future should be a place where original ideas, fed and
directed by interested reading, are exchanged and discussed. Were I
writing of men's clubs, I should point out to them the same goal. And
then, perhaps, we may look forward to a time when a selected group of men
and women may come together and talk of things in which they both, as men
and women, are interested.

When this happens, I trust that in the discussion we shall not heed the
advice of some modern feminists and forget that we are as God made us. Why
should each man talk to a woman "as if she were another man"? I never
heard it advised that each woman should talk to each man "as if he were
another woman"; but I should resent it if I did. Why shut our eyes to the
truth? I trust that I have not been talking to the club-women "as if they
were men"; I am sure I have not meant to do so. They are not men; they
have their own ways, and those ways should be developed and encouraged. We
have had the psychology of race, of the crowd and of the criminal; where
is the investigator who has studied the Psychology of Woman? When she
(note the pronoun) has arrived, let us make her president of a woman's

It is with diffidence that I have outlined any definite procedure,
because, after all, the precise manner in which the treatment should be
applied will depend, of course, on the club concerned. To prescribe for
you most effectively, your physician should be an intimate friend. He
should have known you from birth--better still, he should have cared for
your father and your grandfather before you. Otherwise, he prescribes for
an average man; and you may be very far from the average. The drug that he
administers to quiet your nerves may act on your heart and give you the
smothers--it might conceivably quiet you permanently. Then the doctor
would send to his medical journal a note on "A Curious Case of Umptiol
Poisoning," but you would still be dead, even if all his readers should
agree with him.

I have no desire to bring about casualties of this kind. Let those who
know and love each particular club devote themselves to the task of
applying my treatment to it in a way that will involve a minimum shock to
its nerves and a minimum amount of interference with its metabolic
processes. It will take time. Rome was not built in a day, and a
revolution in clubdom is not going to be accomplished over night.

I have prescribed simple remedies--too simple, I am convinced, to be
readily adopted. What could be simpler than to advise the extermination of
all germ diseases by killing off the germs? Any physician will tell you
that this method is the very acme of efficiency; yet, the germs are still
with us, and bid fair to spread suffering and death over our planet for
many a long year to come. So I am not sanguine that we shall be able all
at once to kill off the programmes. All that may be expected is that at
some distant day the simplicity and effectiveness of some plan of the sort
will begin to commend itself to clubwomen. If, then, some lover of the
older literature will point out the fact that, back in 1915, the gloomy
era when fighting hordes were spreading blood and carnage over the fair
face of Europe, an obscure and humble librarian, in the pages of THE
BOOKMAN, pointed out the way to sanity, I shall be well content.


The most distinctive thing about a book is the possibility that someone
may read it. Is this a truism? Evidently not; for the publishers, who
print books, and the libraries, which store and distribute them, have
never thought it worth their while to collect and record information
bearing on this possibility. In the publisher's or the bookseller's
advertising announcements, as well as on the catalogue cards stored in the
library's trays, the reader may ascertain when and where the book was
published, the number of pages, and whether it contains plates or maps;
but not a word of the size or style of type in which it is printed. Yet on
this depends the ability of the reader to use the book for the purpose for
which it was intended. The old-fashioned reader was a mild-mannered
gentleman. If he could not read his book because it was printed in
outrageously small type, he laid it aside with a sigh, or used a
magnifying lens, or persisted in his attempts with the naked eye until
eyestrain, with its attendant maladies, was the result. Lately however,
the libraries have been waking up, and their readers with them. The
utilitarian side of the work is pushed to the front; and the reader is by
no means disposed to accept what may be offered him, either in the content
of the book or its physical make-up. The modern library must adapt itself
to its users, and among other improvements must come an attempt to go as
far as possible in making books physiologically readable.

Unfortunately the library cannot control the output of books, and must
limit itself to selection. An experiment in such selection is now in
progress in the St. Louis Public Library. The visitor to that library will
find in its Open Shelf Room a section of shelving marked with the words
"Books in large type." To this section are directed all readers who have
found it difficult or painful to read the ordinary printed page but who do
not desire to wear magnifying lenses. It has not been easy to fill these
shelves, for books in large type are few, and hard to secure, despite the
fact that artists, printers, and oculists have for years been discussing
the proper size, form, and grouping of printed letters from their various
standpoints. Perhaps it is time to urge a new view--that of the public
librarian, anxious to please his clients and to present literature to them
in that physical form which is most easily assimilable and least harmful.

Tired eyes belong, for the most part, to those who have worked them
hardest; that is, to readers who have entered upon middle age or have
already passed through it. At this age we become conscious that the eye is
a delicate instrument--a fact which, however familiar to us in theory, has
previously been regarded with aloofness. Now it comes home to us. The
length of a sitting, the quality, quantity, and incidence of the light,
and above all, the arrangement of the printed page, become matters of
vital importance to us. A book with small print, or letters illegibly
grouped, or of unrecognizable shapes, becomes as impossible to us as if it
were printed in the Chinese character.

It is an unfortunate law of nature that injurious acts appear to us in
their true light only after the harm is done. The burnt child dreads the
fire after he has been burned--not before. So the fact that the
middle-aged man cannot read small, or crooked, or badly grouped type means
simply that the harmfulness of these things, which always existed for him,
has cumulated throughout a long tale of years until it has obtruded itself
upon him in the form of an inhibition. The books that are imperative for
the tired eyes of middle age, are equally necessary for those of
youth--did youth but know it. Curiously enough, we are accustomed to
begin, in teaching the young to read, with very legible type. When the
eyes grow stronger, we begin to maltreat them. So it is, also, with the
digestive organs, which we first coddle with pap, then treat awhile with
pork and cocktails, and then, perforce, entertain with pap of the second
and final period. What correspond, in the field of vision, to pork and
cocktails, are the vicious specimens of typography offered on all sides to
readers--in books, pamphlets, magazines, and newspapers--typography that
is slowly but surely ruining the eyesight of those that need it most.

Hitherto, the public librarian has been more concerned with the minds and
the morals of his clientele than with that physical organism without which
neither mind nor morals would be of much use. It would be easy to pick out
on the shelves of almost any public library books that are a physiological
scandal, printed in type that it is an outrage to place before any
self-respecting reader. I have seen copies of "Tom Jones" that I should be
willing to burn, as did a puritanical British library-board of newspaper
notoriety. My reasons, however, would be typographic, not moral, and I
might want to add a few copies of "The Pilgrim's Progress" and "The
Saint's Everlasting Rest," without prejudice to the authors' share in
those works, which I admire and respect. Perhaps it is too much to ask for
complete typographical expurgation of our libraries. But, at least,
readers with tired eyes who do not yet wear, or care to wear, corrective
lenses, should be able to find, somewhere on the shelves, a collection of
works in relatively harmless print--large and black, clear in outline,
simple and distinctive in form, properly grouped and spaced.

The various attempts to standardize type-sizes and to adopt a suitable
notation for them have been limited hitherto to the sizes of the type-body
and bear only indirectly on the size of the actual letter. More or less
arbitrary names--such as minion, bourgeois, brevier, and nonpareil,--were
formerly used; but what is called the point-system is now practically
universal, although its unit, the "point," is not everywhere the same.
Roughly speaking, a point is one-seventy-second of an inch, so that in
three-point type, for example, the thickness of the type-body, from the
top to the bottom of the letter on its face, is one-twenty-fourth of an
inch. But on this type-body the face may be large or small--although of
course, it cannot be larger than the body,--and the size of the letters
called by precisely the same name in the point notation may vary within
pretty wide limits. There is no accepted notation for the size of the
letters themselves, and this fact tells, more eloquently than words, that
the present sizes of type are standardized and defined for compositors
only, not for readers, and still less for scientific students of the
effect upon the readers' eyes of different arrangements of the printed

What seems to have been the first attempt to define sizes of type suitable
for school grades was made fifteen years ago by Mr Edward R. Shaw in his
"School Hygiene"; he advocates sizes from eighteen-point in the first year
to twelve-point for the fourth. "Principals, teachers, and school
superintendents," he says, "should possess a millimetre measure and a
magnifying glass, and should subject every book presented for their
examination to a test to determine whether the size of the letters and the
width of the leading are of such dimensions as will not prove injurious to
the eyes of children." To this list, librarians might be well added--not
to speak of authors, editors, and publishers. In a subsequent part of his
chapter on "Eyesight and Hearing," from which the above sentence is
quoted, appears a test of illumination suggested by "The Medical Record"
of Strasburg, which may serve as a "horrid example" in some such way as
did the drunken brother who accompanied the temperance lecturer. According
to this authority, if a pupil is unable to read diamond
type--four-and-one-half-point--"at twelve-inch distance and without
strain," the illumination is dangerously low. The adult who tries the
experiment will be inclined to conclude that whatever the illumination,
the proper place for the man who uses diamond type for any purpose is the

The literature upon this general subject, such as it is, is concerned
largely with its relations with school hygiene. We are bound to give our
children a fair start in life, in conditions of vision as well as in other
respects, even if we are careless about ourselves. The topic of
"Conservation of Vision," in which, however, type-size played but a small
part, was given special attention at the Fourth International Congress of
School Hygiene, held in Buffalo in 1913. Investigations on the subject, so
far as they affect the child in school, are well summed up in the last
chapter of Huey's "Psychology and Pedagogy of Reading." In general, the
consensus of opinion of investigators seems to be that the most legible
type is that between eleven-point and fourteen-point. Opinion regarding
space between lines, due to "leading," is not quite so harmonious. Some
authorities think that it is better to increase the size of the letters;
and Huey asserts that an attempt to improve unduly small type by making
wide spaces between lines is a mistake.

As to the relative legibility of different type-faces, one of the most
exhaustive investigations was that made at Clark University by Miss
Barbara E. Roethlin, whose results were published in 1912. This study
considers questions of form, style, and grouping, independently of mere
size; and the conclusion is that legibility is a product of six factors,
of which size is one, the others being form, heaviness of face, width of
the margin around the letter, position in the letter-group, and shape and
size of adjoining letters. For "tired eyes" the size factor would appear
of overwhelming importance except where the other elements make the page
fantastically illegible. In Miss Roethlin's tables, based upon a
combination of the factors mentioned above, the maximum of legibility
almost always coincides with that of size. These experiments seem to have
influenced printers, whose organization in Boston has appointed a
committee to urge upon the Carnegie Institution the establishment of a
department of research to make scientific tests of printing-types in
regard to the comparative legibility and the possibility of improving some
of their forms. Their effort, so far, has met with no success; but the
funds at the disposal of this body could surely be put to no better use.

With regard to the improvement of legibility by alteration of form, it has
been recognized by experiments from the outset that the letters of our
alphabet, especially the small, or "lower-case" letters, are not equally
legible. Many proposals for modifying or changing them have been made,
some of them odd or repugnant. It has been suggested, for instance, that
the Greek lambda be substituted for our _l_, which in its present form is
easily confused with the dotted _i_. Other pairs of letters (_u_ and _n_,
_o_ and _e_, for example) are differentiated with difficulty. The
privilege of modifying alphabetic form is one that has been frequently
exercised. The origin of the German alphabet and our own, for instance, is
the same, and no lower-case letters in any form date further back than the
Middle Ages. There could be no well-founded objection to any change, in
the interests of legibility, that is not so far-reaching as to make the
whole alphabet look foreign and unfamiliar. It may be queried, however,
whether the lower-case alphabet had not better be reformed by abolishing
it altogether. There would appear to be no good reason for using two
alphabets, now one and now the other, according to arbitrary rules,
difficult to learn and hard to remember. That the general legibility of
books would benefit by doing away with this mediaeval excrescence appears
to admit of no doubt, although the proposal may seem somewhat startling to
the general reader.

In 1911, a committee was appointed by the British Association for the
Advancement of Science "to inquire into the influence of school-books upon
eyesight." This committee's report dwells on the fact that the child's eye
is still in process of development and needs larger type than the fully
developed eye of the adult. In making its recommendation for the
standardization of school-book type, which it considers the solution of
the difficulty, the committee emphasizes the fact that forms and sizes
most legible for isolated letters are not necessarily so for the groups
that need to be quickly recognized by the trained reader. It dwells upon
the importance of unglazed paper, flexible sewing, clear, bold
illustrations, black ink, and true alignment. Condensed or compressed
letters are condemned, as are long serifs and hair strokes. On the other
hand, very heavy-faced type is almost as objectionable as that with the
fine lines, the ideal being a proper balancing of whites and blacks in
each letter and group. The size of the type face, as we might expect, is
pronounced by the committee "the most important factor in the influence of
books upon vision"; it describes its recommended sizes in millimetres--a
refinement which, for the purposes of this article, need not be insisted
upon. Briefly, the sizes run from thirty-point, for seven-year-old
children, to ten-point or eleven-point, for persons more than twelve years
old. Except as an inference from this last recommendation, the committee,
of course, does not exceed its province by treating of type-sizes for
adults; yet it would seem that it considers ten-point as the smallest size
fit for anyone, however good his sight. This would bar much of our
existing reading matter.

A writer whose efforts in behalf of sane typography have had practical
results is Professor Koopman, librarian of Brown University, whose plea
has been addressed chiefly to printers. Professor Koopman dwells
particularly on the influence of short lines on legibility. The eye must
jump from the end of each line back to the beginning of the next, and this
jump is shorter and less fatiguing with the shorter line, though it must
be oftener performed. Owing largely to his demonstration, "The Printing
Art," a trade magazine published in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has changed
its make-up from a one-column to a two-column page. It should be noted,
however, that a uniform, standard length of line is even more to be
desired than a short one. When the eye has become accustomed to one length
for its linear leaps, these leaps can be performed with relative ease and
can be taken care of subconsciously. When the lengths vary capriciously
from one book, or magazine, to another, or even from one page to another,
as they so often do, the effort to get accustomed to the new length is
more tiring than we realize. Probably this factor, next to the size of
type, is most effective in tiring the middle-aged eye, and in keeping it
tired. The opinion may be ventured that the reason for our continued
toleration of the small type used in the daily newspapers is that their
columns are narrow, and still more, that these are everywhere of
practically uniform width.

The indifference of publishers to the important feature of the physical
make-up of books appears from the fact that in not a single case is it
included among the descriptive items in their catalogue entries. Libraries
are in precisely the same class of offenders. A reader or a possible
purchaser of books is supposed to be interested in the fact that a book is
published in Boston, has four hundred and thirty-two pages, and is
illustrated, but not at all in its legibility. Neither publishers nor
libraries have any way of getting information on the subject, except by
going to the books themselves. Occasionally a remainder-catalogue,
containing bargains whose charms it is desired to set forth with unusual
detail, states that a certain book is in "large type," or even in "fine,
large type," but these words are nowhere defined, and the purchaser cannot
depend on their accuracy. An edition of Scott, recently advertised
extensively as in "large, clear type," proved on examination to be printed
in ten-point.

In gathering the large-type collection for the St. Louis Library
fourteen-point was decided upon as the standard, which means, of course,
types with a face somewhere between the smallest size that is usually
found on a fourteen-point body, even if actually on a smaller body, and
the largest that this can carry, even if on a larger body. The latter is
unusually large, but it would not do to place the standard below
fourteen-point, because that would lower the minimum, which is none too
large as it is. The first effort was to collect such large-type books,
already in the library, as would be likely to interest the general reader.
In the collection of nearly 400,000 volumes, it was found by diligent
search that only 150 would answer this description. Most octavo volumes of
travel are in large type, but only a selected number of these was placed
in the collection to avoid overloading it with this particular class. This
statement applies also to some other classes, and to certain types of
books, such as some government reports and some scientific monographs,
which have no representatives in the group. The next step was to
supplement the collection by purchase. All available publishers'
catalogues were examined, but after a period of twelve months it was found
possible to spend only $65.00 in the purchase of 120 additional books. A
circular letter was then sent to ninety-two publishers, explaining the
purpose of the collection and asking for information regarding books in
fourteen-point type, or larger, issued by them. To these there were
received sixty-three answers. In twenty-nine instances, no books in type
of this size were issued by the recipients of the circulars. In six cases,
the answer included brief lists of from two to twelve titles of large-type
books; and in several other cases, the publishers stated that the labor of
ascertaining which of their publications are in large type would be
prohibitive, as it would involve actual inspection of each and every
volume on their lists. In two instances, however, after a second letter,
explaining further the aims of the collection, publishers promised to
undertake the work. The final result has been that the Library now has
over four hundred volumes in the collection. This is surely not an
imposing number, but it appears to represent the available resources of a
country in which 1,000 publishers are annually issuing 11,000 volumes--to
say nothing of the British and Continental output. In the list of the
collection and in the entries, the size of the type, the leading, and the
size of the book itself are to be distinctly stated. The last-mentioned
item is necessary because the use of large type sometimes involves a heavy
volume, awkward to hold in the hand. The collection for adults in the St.
Louis Library, as it now exists, may be divided into the following
classes, according to the reasons that seem to have prompted the use of
large type:

1. Large books printed on a somewhat generous scale and intended to sell
at a high price, the size of the type being merely incidental to this
plan. These include books of travel, history, or biography in several
volumes, somewhat high-priced sets of standard authors, and books intended
for gifts.

2. Books containing so little material that large type, thick paper, and
wide margins were necessary to make a volume easy to handle and use. These
include many short stories of magazine length, which for some inscrutable
reason are now often issued in separate form.

3. Books printed in large type for aesthetic reasons. These are few,
beauty and artistic form being apparently linked in some way with
illegibility by many printers, no matter what the size of the type-face.

The large-type collection is used, not only by elderly persons, but also
in greater number by young persons whose oculists forbid them to read fine
print, or who do not desire to wear glasses. The absence of a wide range
in the collection drives others away to books that are, doubtless, in many
cases bad for their eyes. Some books that have not been popular in the
general collection have done well here, while old favorites have not been
taken out. Such facts as these mean little with so limited a collection.
Until readers awake to the dangers of small print and the comfort of large
type there will not be sufficient pressure on our publishers to induce
them to put forth more books suitable for tired eyes. It is probably too
much to expect that the trade itself will try to push literature whose
printed form obeys the rules of ocular hygiene. All that we can reasonably
ask is that type-size shall be reported on in catalogues, so that those
who want books in large type may know what is obtainable and where to go
for it.

It has often been noted that physicians are the only class of professional
men whose activities, if properly carried on, tend directly to make the
profession unnecessary. Medicine tends more and more to be preventive
rather than curative. We must therefore look to the oculists to take the
first steps towards lessening the number of their prospective patients by
inculcating rational notions about the effects of the printed page on the
eye. Teachers, librarians, parents, the press--all can do their part. And
when a demand for larger print has thus been created the trade will
respond. Meanwhile, libraries should be unremitting in their efforts to
ascertain what material in large type already exists, to collect it, and
to call attention to it in every legitimate way.


    [16] Read before the Town and Gown Club, St. Louis.

Anyone who talks or writes about the "movies" is likely to be
misunderstood. There is little to be said now about the moving picture as
a moving picture, unless one wants to discuss its optics or mechanics. The
time is past when anyone went to see a moving picture as a curiosity. It
was once the eighth wonder of the world; it long ago abdicated that
position to join its dispossessed brothers the telephone, the X-ray, the
wireless telegraph and the phonograph. What we now go to see is not the
moving picture, but what the moving picture shows us; it is no more than a
window through which we gaze--the poet's "magic casement" opening
(sometimes) "on the foam of perilous seas." We may no more praise or
condemn the moving picture for what it shows us than we may praise or
condemn a proscenium arch or the glass in a show window.

The critic who thinks that the movies are lowering our tastes, or doing
anything else objectionable, as well as he who thinks they are educating
the masses, is not of the opinion that the moving pictures are doing these
things because they show moving objects on a screen, but because of the
character of what is photographed for such exhibition.

Thoughts on the movies, therefore, must be rather thoughts on things that
are currently shown us by means of the movies; thoughts also on some of
the things that we might see and do not. I have compared the screen above
to a proscenium arch and a show window, but both of these are selective:
the screen is as broad as the world. It is especially adapted to show
realities; through it one may see the coast of Dalmatia as viewed from a
steamer, the habits of animals in the African jungle, or the play of
emotion on the faces of an audience at a ball game in Philadelphia. I am
pleased to see that more and more of these interesting realities are shown
daily in the movie theatres. There has been a determined effort to make
them unpopular by calling them "educational," but they seem likely to
outlive it. One is educated, of course, by everything that he sees or
does, but why rub it in? The boy who thoroughly likes to go sailing will
get more out of it than he who goes because he thinks it will be "an
educational experience." As one who goes to the movies I confess that I
enjoy its realities. Probably they educate me, and I take that with due
meekness. Some of these realities I enjoy because they are unfamiliar,
like the boiling of the lava lake in the Hawaiian craters and the changing
crowds in the streets of Manila; some because they are familiar, like a
college foot-ball game or the movement of vessels in the North River at
New York.

I like the realities, too, in the dramatic performances that still occupy
and probably will continue to occupy, most of the time at a movie theatre.
Here I come into conflict with the producer. Like every other adapter he
can not cut loose from the old when he essays the new. We no longer wear
swords, but we still carry the buttons for the sword belt, and it is only
recently that semi-tropic Americans gave up the dress of north-temperate
Europe. So the movie producer can not forget the theatre. Now the theatre
has some advantages that the movie can never attain--notably the use of
speech. The movie, on the other hand, has unlimited freedom of scene and
the use of real backgrounds. We do not object to a certain amount of what
we call "staginess" on the stage--it is a part of its art; as the pigment
is part of that of the painter. We are surrounded by symbols; we are not
surprised that costume, gesture and voice are also symbolic instead of
purely natural. But in the moving picture play it is, or should be,
different. The costume and make-up, the posture and gesture, that seem
appropriate in front of a painted house or tree on a back-drop, become so
out-of-place as to be repulsive when one sees them in front of a real
house and real trees, branches moving in the wind, running water--all the
familiar accompaniments of nature. The movie producers, being unable to
get away from their stage experience, are failing to grasp their
opportunity. Instead of creating a drama of reality to correspond with the
real environment that only the movie can offer, they are abandoning the
unique advantages of that environment, to a large degree. They build fake
cities, they set all their interiors in fake studio rooms, where
everything is imitation; even when they let us see a bit of outdoors, it
is not what it pretends to be. We have all seen, on the screen, bluffs 200
feet high on the coast of Virginia and palm trees growing in the borough
of the Bronx. And they hire stage actors to interpret the stagiest of
stage plots in as stagy a way as they know how. I am taking the movie
seriously because I like it and because I see that I share that liking
with a vast throng of persons with whom it is probably the only thing I
have in common--persons separated from me by differences of training and
education that would seem to make a common ground of any kind well-nigh
impossible. With some persons the fact that the movie is democratic puts
it outside the pale at once. Nothing, in their estimation, is worth
discussing unless appreciation of it is limited to the few. Their attitude
is that of the mother who said to the nurse: "Go and see what baby is
doing, and tell him he musn't." "Let us," they say "find out what people
like, and then try to make them like something else." To such I have
nothing to say. We ought rather, I believe, to find out the kind of thing
that people like and then do our best to see that they get it in the best
quality--that it is used in every way possible to pull them out of the
mud, instead of rubbing their noses further in.

On the other hand, some capable critics, like Mr. Walter Pritchard Eaton,
decry the movies because they are undemocratic--because they are offering
a form of entertainment appealing only to the uneducated and thus
segregating them from the educated, who presumably all attend the regular
theatre, sitting in the parquet at two dollars per. One wonders whether
Mr. Eaton has attended a moving-picture theatre since 1903. I believe the
movie to be by all odds the most democratic form of intellectual (by which
I mean non-physical) entertainment ever offered; and I base my belief on
wide observation of audiences in theatres of many different grades. Now
this democracy shows itself not only in the composition of audiences but
in their manifestations of approval. I do not mean that everyone in an
audience always likes the same thing. Some outrageous "slap-stick" comedy
rejoices one and offends another. A particularly foolish plot may satisfy
in one place while it bores in another. But everywhere I find one thing
that appeals to everybody--realism. Just as soon as there appears on the
screen something that does not know how to pose and is forced by nature to
be natural--an animal or a young child, for instance--there are immediate
manifestations of interest and delight.

The least "stagy" actors are almost always favorites. Mary Pickford stands
at the head. There is not an ounce of staginess in her make-up. She was
never particularly successful on the stage. Some of her work seems to me
ideal acting for the screen--simple, appealing, absolutely true. Of course
she is not always at her best.

To the stage illusions that depend on costume and make-up, the screen is
particularly unfriendly. Especially in the "close-ups" the effect is
similar to that which one would have if he were standing close to the
actor looking directly into his face. It is useless to depend on ordinary
make-up under these circumstances. Either it should be of the description
used by Sherlock Holmes and other celebrated detectives (we rely on
hearsay) which deceives the very elect at close quarters, or else the
producer must choose for his characters those that naturally "look the
parts." In particular, the lady who, although long past forty, continues
to play _ingenue_ parts and "gets away with it" on the stage, must get
away _from_ it, when it comes to the screen. The "close up" tells the sad
story at once. The part of a sixteen-year-old girl must be played by a
real one. Another concession to realism, you see. And what is true of
persons is true of their environment. I have already registered my
disapproval of the "Universal City" type of production. It is almost as
easy for the expert to pick out the fake Russian village or the pasteboard
Virginia court-house as it is for him to spot the wrinkles in the
countenance of the school girl who left school in 1892. Next to a fake
environment the patchwork scene enrages one--the railway that is
double-track with 90-pound rails in one scene and single-track with
streaks of rust in the next; the train that is hauled in quick succession
by locomotives of the Mogul type, the Atlantic and the wood-burning
vintage of 1868. There is here an impudent assumption in the producer, of
a lack of intelligence in his audience, that is quite maddening. The same
lack of correspondence appears between different parts of the same street,
and between the outside and inside of houses. I am told by friends that I
am quite unreasonable in the extent to which I carry my demands for
realism in the movies. "What would you have?" they ask. I would have a
producing company that should advertise, "We have no studio" and use only
real backgrounds--the actual localities represented. "Do you mean to tell
me," my friend goes on, "that you would carry your company to Spain
whenever the scene of their play is laid in that country? The expense
would be prohibitive." I most certainly should not, and this because of
the very realism that I am advocating. Plays laid in Spain should be acted
not only in Spain but by Spaniards. The most objectionable kind of fake is
that in which Americans are made to do duty for Spaniards, Hindus or
Japanese when their appearance, action and bearing clearly indicate that
they were born and brought up in Skowhegan, Maine or Crawfordsville,
Indiana. I have seen Mary Pickford in "Madame Butterfly", and I testify
sadly that not even she can succeed here. No; if we want Spanish plays let
us use those made on Spanish soil. Let us have free interchange of films
between all film-producing countries. All the change required would be
translating the captions, or better still, plays might be produced that
require no captions. This might mean the total reorganization of the
movie-play business in this country--a revolution which I should view with
equanimity. Speaking of captions, here again the average producer appears
to agree with Walter Pritchard Eaton that he is catering only to the
uneducated. The writers of most captions seem, indeed, to have abandoned
formal instruction in the primary school. Why should not a movie caption
be good literature? Some of them are. The Cabiria captions were fine:
though I do not admire that masterpiece. I am told that D'Annunzio
composed them with care, and equal care was evidently used in the
translation. The captions of the George Ade fables are uniformly good, and
there are other notable exceptions. Other places where knowledge of
language is required are inadequately taken care of. Letters from eminent
persons make one want to hide under the chairs. These persons usually sign
themselves "Duke of Gandolfo" or "Secretary of State Smith." Are grammar
school graduates difficult to get, or high-priced? I beg you to observe
that here again lack of realism is my objection.

But divers friends interpose the remark that the movies are already too
realistic. "They leave nothing to the imagination." If this were so, it
were a grievous fault--at any rate in so far as the moving-picture play
aims at being an art-form. All good art leaves something to the
imagination. As a matter of fact, however, the movie is the exact
complement of the spoken play as read from a book. Here we have the words
in full, the scene and action being left to the imagination except as
briefly sketched in the stage direction. In the movie we have scene and
action in full, the words being left to the imagination except as briefly
indicated in the captions. Where captions are very full the form may
perhaps be said to be complementary to the novel, where besides the words
we are given a written description of scene and action that is often full
of detail. The movie leaves just as much to the imagination as the novel,
but what is so left is different in the two cases. Do I think that
everyone in a movie audience makes use of his privilege to imagine what
the actors are saying? No; neither does the novel-reader always image the
scene and action. This does not depend on ignorance or the reverse, but on
imaging power. Exceptional visual and auditive imaging power are rarely
present in the same individual. I happen to have the former. I
automatically see everything of which I read in a novel, and when the
descriptions are not detailed, this gets me into trouble. On a second
reading my imaged background may be different and when the earlier one
asserts itself there is a conflict that I can compare only to hearing two
tunes played at once. Persons having already good visual imaging power
should develop their auditive imaging power by going to the movies and
hearing what the actors say; these with deficient visual imagery should
read novels and see the scenery. But to say that the movies allow no scope
for the imagination is absurd. As I said at the outset, the movie play is
just a play seen through the medium of a moving picture. It is like seeing
a drama near enough to note the slightest play of feature and at the same
time so far away that the actors can not be heard--somewhat like seeing a
distant play through a fine telescope. The action should therefore differ
in no respect from what would be proper if the words were intended to be
heard. Doubtless this imposes a special duty upon both the author of the
scenario and the producer, and they do not always respond to it. Action is
introduced that fails to be intelligible without the words, and to clear
it up the actors are made to use pantomime. Pantomime is an interesting
and valuable form of dramatic art, but it is essentially symbolic and
stagy and has, I believe, no place in the moving picture play as we have
developed it. If owing to the faulty construction of the play, or a lack
of skill on the part of producer or actors, all sorts of gestures and
grimaces become necessary that would not be required if the words were
heard, the production can not be considered good. Sometimes, of course,
words are _seen_; though not heard. The story of the deaf mutes who read
the lips of the movie actors, and detected remarks not at all in
consonance with the action of the play, is doubtless familiar. It crops up
in various places and is as ubiquitous as Washington's Headquarters. It is
good enough to be true, but I have never run it to earth yet. Even those
of us who are not deaf-mutes, however, may detect an exclamation now and
then and it gives great force to the action, though I doubt whether it is
quite legitimate in a purely picture-play.

I beg leave to doubt whether realism is fostered by a method of production
said to be in vogue among first rate producers; namely keeping actors in
ignorance of the play and directing the action as it goes on.

"Come in now, Mr. Smith; sit in that chair; cross your legs; light a
cigar; register perplexity; you hear a sound; jump to your feet"--and so
on. This may save the producer trouble, but it reduces the actors to
marionettes; it is not thus that masterpieces are turned out.

Is there any chance of a movie masterpiece, anyway? Yes, but not in the
direction that most producers see it. What Vachell Lindsay calls
"Splendor" in the movies is an interesting and striking feature of
them--the moving of masses of people amid great architectural
construction--sieges, triumphs, battles, mobs--but all this is akin to
scenery. Its movements are like those of the trees or the surf. One can
not make a play entirely of scenery, though the contrary seems to be the
view of some managers, even on the stage of the regular theatre. So far,
the individual acting and plot construction in the great spectacular
movies has been poor. It was notably so, it seems to me in the Birth of a
Nation and not much better in Cabiria. Judith of Bethulia (after T.B.
Aldrich) is the best acted "splendor" play that I have seen. Masterpieces
are coming not through spending millions on supes, and "real" temples, and
forts; but rather by writing a scenario particularly adapted to
film-production, hiring and training actors that know how to act for the
camera, preferably those without bad stage habits to unlearn, cutting out
all unreal scenery, costume and make-up and keeping everything as simple
and as close to the actual as possible. The best movie play I ever saw was
in a ten-cent theatre in St. Louis. It was a dramatization of Frank
Norris's "McTeague." I have never seen it advertised anywhere, and I never
heard of the actors, before or since. But most of it was fine, sincere
work, and seeing it made me feel that there is a future for the movie

One trouble is that up to date, neither producers nor actors nor the most
intelligent and best educated part of the audience take the movies
seriously. Here is one of the marvels of modern times; something that has
captured the public as it never was captured before. And yet most of us
look at it as a huge joke, or as something intended to entertain the
populace, at which we, too are graciously pleased to be amused. It might
mend matters if we could have every day in some reputable paper a column
of readable serious stuff about the current movie plays--real criticism,
not simply the producer's "blurb."

Possibly, too, a partnership between the legitimate stage and the movie
may be possible and I shall devote to a somewhat wild scheme of this sort
the few pages that remain to me. To begin with, the freedom enjoyed by the
Elizabethan dramatists from the limitations imposed by realistic scenery
has not been sufficiently insisted upon as an element in their art. Theirs
was a true _drame libre_, having its analogies with the present attempts
of the vers-librists to free poetry from its restrictions of rhyme and
metre. But while the tendency of poetry has always been away from its
restrictions, the _mise-en-scéne_ in the drama has continually, with the
attempts to make it conform to nature, tightened its throttling bands on
the real vitality of the stage.

Those who periodically wonder why the dramatists of the Elizabethan
age--the greatest productive period in the history of the English
stage--no longer hold the stage, with the exception of Shakespeare, and
who lament that even Shakespeare is yielding his traditional place, have
apparently given little thought to this loss of freedom as a contributing
cause. While the writers of _vers libre_ have so far freed themselves that
some of them have ceased to write poetry at all, it is a question whether
the scenic freedom of the old dramatists may not have played such a vital
part in the development of their art, that they owed to it at least some
of their pre-eminence.

Shakespeare's plays, as Shakespeare wrote them, read better than they act.
Hundreds of Shakespeare-lovers have reached this conclusion, and many more
have reached it than have dared to put it into words. The reason is, it
seems to me, that we can not, on the modern stage, enact the plays of
Shakespeare as he intended them to be acted--as he really wrote them.

If we compare an acting edition of any of the plays with the text as
presented by any good editor, this becomes increasingly clear. Shakespeare
in his original garb, is simply impossible for the modern stage.

The fact that the Elizabethan plays were given against an imaginary
back-ground enabled the playwright to disregard the old, hampering unity
of place more thoroughly than has ever been possible since his time. His
ability to do so, was the result not of any reasoned determination to set
his plays without "scenery," but simply of environment. As the scenic art
progressed, the backgrounds became more and more realistic and less and
less imaginary. The imagination of the audience, however, has always been
more or less requisite to the appreciation of drama, as of any other art.
No stage tree or house has ever been close enough to its original to
deceive the onlooker. He always knows that they are imitations, intended
only to aid the imagination, and his imagination has always been obliged
to do its part. In Shakespeare's time the imagination did all the work;
and as imaginary houses and trees have no weight, the services of the
scene-shifter were not required to remove them and to substitute others.
The scene could be shifted at once from a battlefield in Flanders to a
palace in London and after the briefest of dialogues it could change again
to a street in Genoa--all without inconveniencing anyone or necessitating
a halt in the presentation of the drama. Any reflective reader of
Shakespeare will agree, I think, that this ability to shift scenes, which
after all, is only that which the novelist or poet has always possessed
and still possesses, enables the dramatist to impart a breadth of view
that was impossible under the ideas of unity that governed the drama of
the Ancients. Greek tragedy was drama in concentration, a tabloid of
intense power--a brilliant light focussed on a single spot of passion or
exaltation. The Elizabethan drama is a view of life; and life does not
focus, it is diffuse--a congeries of episodes, successive or
simultaneous--something not re-producible by the ancient dramatic methods.

Today, while we have not gone back to the terrific force of the Greek
unified presentation, we have lost this breadth. We strive for it, but we
can no longer reach it because of the growth of an idea that realism in
_mise-en-scéne_ is absolutely necessary. Of course this idea has been
injurious to the drama in more ways than the one that we are now
considering. The notable reform in stage settings associated with the
names of Gordon Craig, Granville Barker, Urban, Hume and others, arises
from a conviction that _mise-en-scéne_ should inspire and reflect a
mood--should furnish an atmosphere, rather than attempt to reproduce
realistic details. To a certain extent these reforms also operate to
simplify stage settings and hence to make a little more possible the quick
transitions and the play of viewpoint which I regard as one of the glories
of the Elizabethan drama. This simplification, however, is very far from a
return to the absolute simplicity of the Elizabethan setting. Moreover, it
is doubtful whether the temper of the modern audience is favorable to a
great change in this direction. We live in an age of realistic detail and
we must yield to the current, while using it, so far as possible, to gain
our ends.

This being the case, it is certainly interesting to find that, entirely
without the aid or consent of those who have at heart the interests of the
drama, a new dramatic form has grown up which caters to the utmost to the
modern desire for realistic detail--far beyond the dreams of ordinary
stage settings--and at the same time makes possible the quick transitions
that are the glory of the Elizabethan drama. Here, of course, is where we
make connection with the moving picture, whose fascinating realism and
freedom from the taint of the footlights have perhaps been sufficiently
insisted upon in what has been already said. In the moving picture, with
the possibility of realistic backgrounds such as no skill, no money, no
opportunity could build up on the ordinary stage--distant prospects,
marvels of architecture, waving trees and moving animals--comes the
ability of passing from one environment to another, on the other side of
the globe perhaps, in the twinkling of an eye. The transitions of the
Elizabethan stage sink into insignificance beside the possibilities of the
moving-picture screen. Such an alternation as is now common in the film
play, where two characters, talking to each other over the telephone, are
seen in quick succession, would be impossible on the ordinary stage. The
Elizabethan auditor, if his imagination were vivid and ready, might
picture such a background of castle or palace or rocky coast as no
photographer could produce; but even such imagination takes time to get
under way, whereas the screen-picture gets to the brain through the retina

It is worth our while, I think, to consider whether this kind of scenery,
rich in detail, but immaterial and therefore devoid of weight, could not
be used in connection with the ordinary drama. There are obstacles, but
they do not appear insuperable. The ordinary moving-picture, of course, is
much smaller than the back drop of a large stage. Its enlargement is
merely a matter of optical apparatus. Wings must be reduced in number and
provided each with its own projection-machine, or replaced with drops
similarly provided. Exits and entrances must be managed somewhat
differently than with ordinary scenery. All this is surely not beyond the
power of modern stagecraft, which has already surmounted such obstacles
and accomplished such wonders. The projection, it is unnecessary to say,
must be from behind, not from before, to avoid throwing the actors'
shadows on the scenery. There must still, of course, be lighting from the
front, and the shadow problem still exists, but no more than it does with
ordinary scenery. Its solution lies in diffusing the light. No spotlight
could be used, and its enforced absence would be one of the incidental
blessings of the moving scene.

The advantages of this moving-picture scenery would be many and obvious.
Prominent among them of course are fidelity to nature and richness of
detail. The one, however, on which I desire to lay stress here is the
flexibility in change of scene that we have lost with the introduction of
heavy material "scenery" on our stages. This flexibility would be regained
without the necessity of discarding scenery altogether and going back to
the Elizabethan reliance on the imagination of the audience.

Of course, moving scenery would not be required or desired in all dramatic
productions--only in those where realistic detail combined with perfect
flexibility and rapidity of change in scene seems to be indicated. The
scenery should of course be colored, and while we are waiting for the
commercial tri-chroic picture with absolutely true values, we may get
along very well with the di-chroic ones, such as those turned out with the
so-called Kinemacolor process. Those who saw the wonderful screen
reproduction of the Indian durbar, several years ago, will realize the

And more than all else, may we not hope that these new backgrounds may
react on the players who perform their parts in front of them? Not
necessarily; for we have seen that it does not always do so in the present
movie play. But I am confident that the change will come. Little by little
the necessities of the case are developing actors who act naturally. One
may pose in a canoe on a painted rapid; but how can he do so in the real
water course, where every attitude, every play of the muscles must be
adapted to the real propulsion of the boat?

In short, the movie may ultimately require its presenters to be real, and
so may come a school of realism in acting that may have its uses on the
legitimate stage also.

Who will be the first manager to experiment with this new adjunct to the
art of the stage?


    [17] Address at the closing session of the Church School of
         Religious Instruction, St. Louis.

People may be divided into a great many different classes according to
their attitude toward belief and beliefs--toward the meaning and value of
belief in general--toward their own beliefs and those of their neighbors.
We have the man who does not know what "belief" means, and who does not
care; the man whose idea of its meaning is perverse and wrong; the man who
thinks his own beliefs are important and those of his neighbors are
unimportant; the man who thinks it proper to base belief on certain
considerations and not on others--the man, for instance, who will say he
believes that two plus two equals four, but can not believe in the
existence of God because the grounds for such belief can not be stated in
the same mathematical symbols. These are only a few of the classes that
might be defined, using this interesting basis of classification. But
before we can take up the question of instruction in the church's beliefs,
about which I have been asked to address you this evening, we must
recognize the existence of these classes, and possibly the fact that you
yourselves are not all in accord in the way in which you look at the

What I shall say is largely personal and you must not look upon me as
representing anybody or anything. I may even fail to agree with some of
the instruction that you have received in this interesting and valuable
course. But I do speak, of course, as one who loves our church and as a
loyal and I hope a thoughtful layman.

First, what is belief? We surely give the word a wide range of values. A
man says that he believes in his own existence, which the philosopher
Descartes said was the most sure thing in the world--"_Cogito, ergo sum_."
He also says that he believes it will rain to-morrow. What can there be in
common between these two acts of faith? Between a certainty and a fifty
per cent chance, or less? This--that a man is always willing to act on his
beliefs; if not, they are not beliefs within the meaning of this address.
If you believe it will rain, you take an umbrella. Your doing so is quite
independent of the grounds for your belief. There may really be very
little chance of its raining; but it is your belief that causes your
action, no matter whether it is justified or not. You could not act more
decisively if you were acting on the certainty of your own existence. It
is this willingness to act that unifies our beliefs--that gives them
value. If I heard a man declare his belief that a fierce wild animal was
on his track, and if I then saw him calmly lie down and go to sleep on the
trail, I should know that he was either insane or a liar.

I have intimated above that belief may or may not be based on mathematical
certainty. Fill up a basket with black and white pebbles and then draw out
one. Let us create a situation that shall make it imperative for a person
to declare whether a black or a white pebble will be drawn. For instance,
suppose the event to be controlled by an oriental despot who has given
orders to strike off the man's head if he announces the wrong color. Of
course, if he has seen that only white pebbles went into the basket he
says boldly "White." That is certainty. But suppose he saw one black
pebble in the mass. Does he any the less say "White"? That one black
pebble represents a tiny doubt; does it affect the direction of his
enforced action? Suppose there were two black pebbles; or a handful.
Suppose nearly half the pebbles were black? Would that make the slightest
difference about what he would do? If you judge a man's belief by what he
does, as I think you should do, that belief may admit of a good deal of
doubt before it is nullified. Are your beliefs all based on mathematical
certainties? I hope not; for then they must be few indeed.

That many of our fellow men have a wrong conception of belief is a very
sad fact. The idea that it must be based on a mathematical demonstration
of certainty, or even that it must be free from doubt is surely not
Christian. Our prayers and our hymns are full of the contrary. We are
beset not only by "fightings" but by "fears"--"within; without;" by "many
a conflict, many a doubt"; we pray to be delivered from this same doubt.
The whole body of Christian doctrine is permeated with the idea that the
true believer is likely to be beset by doubts of all kinds, and that it is
his duty, despite all this, to believe.

And yet there are many who will not call themselves Christians so long as
they can not construct a rigid demonstration of every Christian doctrine.
There are many thoughtful men who call themselves Agnostics just because
they can not be mathematically sure of religious truth. Some of these men
are better Christians than many that are so named. That they hold aloof
from Christian fellowship is due to their mistaken notion of the nature of
belief. The more is the pity. Now let us go back for a moment to our
basket of pebbles. We have seen that the action of the guesser is based to
some extent on his knowledge of the contents of the basket. In other
words, he has grounds for the belief by which his act is conditioned.
Persons may act without grounds; it may be necessary for them so to do.
Even in this case there may be a sort of blind substitute for belief. A
man, pursued by a bear, comes to a fork in the road. He knows nothing
about either branch; one may lead to safety and one to a jungle. But he
has to choose, and choose at once; and his choice represents his bid for
safety. There is plenty of action of this sort in the world; if we would
avoid the necessity for it we must do a little preliminary investigation;
and if we can not find definitely where the roads lead, we may at least
hit upon some idea of which is the safest.

But with all our investigation we shall find that we must rely in the end
on our trust in some person; either ourselves or someone else. Even the
certainty of the mathematical formula depends on our confidence in the
sanity of our own mental processes. The man who sees the basket filled
with white pebbles must trust the accuracy of his eyesight. If he relies
for his information on what someone else told him, he must trust not only
that other's eyesight, but his memory, his veracity, his friendliness. And
yet one may be far safer in trusting another than in relying on his own
unaided powers. _Securus judicat orbis terrarum_, says the old Latin. "The
world's judgment is safe." We have learned to modify this, for we have
seen world judgments that are manifestly incorrect. The world thought the
earth was flat. It thought there were witches, and it burned them. Here
individuals simply followed one another like sheep; and all, like sheep,
went astray. But where there is a real, independent judgment on the part
of each member of a group, and all agree, that is better proof of its
correctness than most individual investigations could furnish. My watch,
of the best make and carefully regulated, indicates five o'clock, but if I
meet five friends, each of whom tells me, independently, that it is six, I
conclude that my watch is wrong. There was never a more careful scientific
investigation than that by which a French physicist thought he had
established the existence of what he called the "N ray"--examined its
properties and measured its constants. He read paper after paper before
learned bodies as his research progressed. He challenged the interest of
his brother scientists on three continents. And yet he was entirely wrong:
there never was any "N ray." The man had deceived himself. The failure of
hundreds to see as he did weighed more than his positive testimony that he
saw what he thought he saw. Here as elsewhere our view of what may be the
truth is based on trust. If you trust the French physicist, you will still
believe in the "N ray." Creeds we are told, are outworn, and yet we are
confronted, from birth to death, with situations that imperiously require
action of some sort. Every act that responds must be based on belief of
some kind. Creeds are only expressions of belief. The kind of Creed that
_is_ outworn (and this is doubtless what intelligent persons mean when
they make this statement) is the parrot creed, the form of words without
meaning, the statement of belief without any grounds behind it or any
action in front of it. For this the modern churchman has no use.

And if he desires to avoid the parrot creed, he must surely inform himself
regarding the meaning of its articles and the grounds on which they are
held. More; he must satisfy himself of the particular meaning that they
have for him and the personal grounds on which he is to hold them. This is
the reason why such a course as that which you complete to-night is
necessary and valuable. I have heard instruction of this kind deprecated
as likely to bring disturbing elements into the mind. One may doubtless
change from belief to skepticism by too much searching. It used to be a
standing joke in Yale College, when I was a student there, that a
well-known professor reputed to be an Atheist, had been perfectly orthodox
until he had heard President Porter's lectures on the "Evidences of
Christianity." But seriously, this objection is but another phase of the
fallacy at which we have already glanced--that doubts are fatal to belief.
I am certain that the professor in question might have examined in detail
every one of President Porter's "Evidences," and found them wanting, only
to discover clearer and stronger grounds of belief elsewhere--in his mere
confidence in others, perhaps. Or he might have turned pragmatist and
believed in Christianity because it "worked"--a valid reason in this case
doubtless, but not always to be depended on; because the Father of Lies
sometimes makes things "work" himself--at least temporarily.

But if examining into the grounds of his belief makes a man honestly give
up that belief, then I bid him God-speed. I may weep for him, but I cannot
help believing that he stands better with his Maker for being honest with
himself than if he had gone on with his parrot belief that meant
absolutely nothing. I can not feel that the Aztecs who were baptized by
the followers of Cortes were any more believers in Christianity after the
ceremony than they were before. It seems to me, however that a Christian,
examining faithfully the grounds of his belief, will usually have that
belief strengthened, and that a churchman, examining the doctrines of the
church will be similarly upheld.

Not that church instruction should be one-sided. The teaching that tends
to make us believe that every intelligent man thinks as we do reacts
against itself. It is like the unfortunate temperance teaching that
represents the liking for wine as always acquired. When the pupil comes to
taste wine and finds that he likes it at once, he concludes that the whole
body of instruction in the physiology of alcohol is false and acts
accordingly. When a boy is taught that there is nothing of value beyond
his own church, or nothing of value outside of Christianity, he will think
less of his church, and less of Christianity when he finds intelligent,
upright, lovable outsiders. I look back with horror on some of the books,
piously prepared under the auspices of the S.P.C.K. in London, that I used
to take home from Sunday School. In them we were told that a good man
outside the church was worse than a bad man in it. If that was not the
teaching in the book, it was at least the form in which it took lodgment
in my boyish brain. Thank God it never found permanent foothold there.
Instead, I hold in my memory the Eastern story of God's rebuke to Abraham
when he expelled the Fire Worshipper from his tent. "Could you not bear
with him for one hour? Lo! I have borne with him these forty years!"

I have always thought that a knowledge of what our neighbors believe is an
excellent balance-wheel to our own beliefs and that our own beliefs, so
balanced, will be saner and more restrained. It would be well, I think, if
we could have a survey of the world's religions, setting down in parallel
columns all the faiths of mankind. If this is too great a task we might
begin with a survey of Christianity, set down in the same way. I believe
that the results of such a survey might surprise us, showing, as I think
it would do, the many fundamentals that we hold in common and the trivial
nature of some of the barriers that appear to separate us.

In your course, just completed, you have had such a survey, I doubt not,
of the beliefs of our own beloved church. Where her divines have differed,
you have had the varying opinions spread before you. You have not been
told that the mind of every churchman has always been a replica of the
mind of every other churchman. Personally, I feel grateful that this has
not been the case. As I say my creed and begin "I believe in God, the
Father Almighty," I realize that the aspect of even such a basic belief as
this, is the same in no two minds; that it shifts from land to land and
from age to age. I know that God, as he is, is past human knowledge and
that until we see Him face to face we can not all mean just the same thing
when we repeat this article of belief. But I realize also that this is not
due to the mutability of the Almighty but to man's variability. The Gods
of St. Jerome, of Thomas Carlyle and of William James are different; but
that is because these men had different types of minds. Behind their human
ideas stands God himself--"the same yesterday, to-day and forever." So we
may go through the creed; so we may study, as you have been doing, the
beliefs of the church. Everywhere we see the evidences of the working,
upon fallible human minds of a dim appreciation of something beyond full
human knowledge--

  "That one far-off divine event
   Toward which the Whole Creation moves."

We have a wonderful church, my friends. It is a church to live with; a
church to be proud of. Those who miss what we are privileged to enjoy are
missing something from the fulness of life. We have not broken with the
historic continuity of the Christian faith: there is no chasm, filled with
wreckage, between us and the fathers of the church. Above all we have
enshrined our beliefs in a marvellous liturgy, which is ever old and ever
new, and which had the good fortune to be put into English at a day when
the force of expression in our Mother tongue was peculiarly virile, yet
peculiarly lovely. I know of nothing in the whole range of English
literature that will compare with the collects as contained in our Book of
Common Prayer, for beauty, for form, for condensation and for force. They
are a string of pearls. And indeed, what I have said of them applies to
the whole book. When I see Committees of well-meaning divines trying to
tamper with it, I shudder as I might if I witnessed the attempt of a guild
of modern sculptors to improve the Venus of Milo by chipping off a bit
here and adding something there. Good reasons exist for changes,
doubtless; but I feel that we have here a work of art, of divine art; and
art is one of God's ways of reaching the human heart. We are proud that we
have not discarded it from our church buildings, from our altars, from the
music of our choirs. Let us treat tenderly our great book of Common
Prayer, like that other great masterpiece of divine literary art, the King
James version of the Bible. There are plenty of better translations; there
is not one that has the same magic of words to fire the imagination and
melt the heart.

These are all trite things to say to churchmen: I have tried, on occasion,
to say them to non-churchmen, but they do not seem to respond. There are
those who rejoice in their break with historic continuity, who look upon a
written form of service with horror. It is well, as I have said, for us to
realize that our friends hold these opinions. One can not strengthen his
muscles in a tug of war unless some one is pulling the other way. The
savor of religion, like that of life itself, is in its contrasts. I thank
God that we have them even within our own Communion. We are high-church
and low-church and broad-church. We burn incense and we wear Geneva gowns.
This diversity is not to be condemned. What is to be deprecated is the
feeling among some of us that the diversity should give place to
uniformity--to uniformity of their own kind, of course. To me, this would
be a calamity. Let us continue to make room in our church for
individuality. God never intended men to be pressed down in one mold of
sameness. In the last analysis, each of us has his own religious beliefs.
The doctrines of our church, or of any church are but a composite portrait
of these beliefs. But when one takes such a portrait throughout all lands
and in all time, and the features keep true, one can not help regarding
them as the divine lineaments.

This is how I would have you regard the beliefs of our church, as you have
studied them throughout this course--as our particular composite
photograph of the face of God, as He has impressed it on the hearts and
minds of each one of us. I commend this view to those who have no
reverence for beliefs, particularly when they are formulated as creeds.
These persons mean that they have no regard for group beliefs but only for
those of the individual. Each has his own beliefs, and he must have
confidence in them, for they are the grounds on which he acts, if he is a
normal man. Even the faith of an Agnostic is based on a very positive
belief. As for me, I feel that the churchman goes one step beyond him: he
even doubts Doubt. Said Socrates: "I know nothing except this one thing,
that I know nothing. The rest of you are ignorant even of this." Socrates
was a great man. If he had been greater still, he might have said
something like this: "I freely acknowledge that a mathematical formula can
not satisfy all the cases that we discuss. But neither can it be stated
mathematically that they are all unknowable. I am not even sure that I
know nothing." Surely, under these circumstances, we may give over looking
for mathematical demonstrations and believe a few things on our own
account--that our children love us--that our eyes do not deceive us; that
the soul lives on; that God rules all. We may put our faith in what our
own church teaches us, even as a child trusts his father though he can not
construct a single syllogism that will increase that trust.

This does not mean that we shall not benefit by examining the articles of
our faith; by learning what they are, what they mean and what others have
thought of them. The churchman must combine, in his mental habits, all
that is best of the Conservative and the Radical. While holding fast that
which is good he must keep an open mind toward every change that may serve
to bring him nearer to the truth or give him a clearer vision of it.

How we can insure this better than by such an institution as the Church
School for Religious Instruction I am sure I do not see. May God guide it
and aid it in its work!


Abraham, Story of, 335

Action, test of belief, 332

Ade, George, 110, 170;
  fables in picture plays, 319

Adults and children, compared, 14

Advertisement of ideas, 127

Aldrich, T.B., 322

Alger, Horatio, 16, 174

America, Fluid customs in, 224

"America", hymn, 191

American Academy of Sciences, 57

American ancestry, 179;
  architecture, 218;
  art, 217;
  music, 218;
  philosophy, 220;
  religion, 219;
  thought, tendencies of, 213

American Association for the Advancement of Science, 50

American Library Association, 51

American Library Institute, 52

American readers, 42

Americanization, 17, 73

Americanization of England, 225

Ancestry, American, 179

Anglo-Saxon ancestry, 181

Architecture, American, 218

Archives, family, 184

Army, international, 159

Art, American, 217;
  effect of, 163

Art, Early forms of, 37

Association, value of, 45

Atoms of energy and action, 122

Attractiveness a selective feature, 26

Austen, Jane, 176

Author, Function of, 67

Authors Club, N.Y., 51

Auto-suggestion in drugs, 233

Aviation, Newcomb's opinion of, 86

Belief, What is?, 339

Bennett, Arnold, 175

Bible, King James Version, 337

Birth of a nation; picture play, 322

Book-stores, disappearance of, 238

Books in selective education, 27

"Book-Taught Bilkins", 89, 98

Book-titles, Possessive case in, 19

Boston tea-party, 183

Branch libraries, Reasons given for using, 11

British Association, 307

Brooklyn Public Library, 4

Brown, Susannah H., who was she? 281

Browsing, 27;
  uses of, 104

Bryce, James, quoted, 216

Buildings, Monumental, 141

Bulwer-Lytton, E.G.E.L., 86

Burbank, Luther, 24

Cabiria; motion picture play, 319, 322

Captions in motion pictures, 318

Carnegie, Andrew, 77

Carnegie Institution, 85, 306

Cartoonist, Anecdote of, 294

Centre, What is a?, 145

Centralized associations, 58

Certainty and belief, 330

Chaucer, 293

Chautauqua, 265

Chemistry, New drugs from, 232

Chicago Evening Post, quoted, 109

Chicago, Field houses in, 148

Chicago Women's Club, Paper before, 197

Children's editions, 6;
  rooms, 31

Christian Science and drugs, 233

Christianity, 331

Christmas book shows, 170

Church School of religious instruction, 329

Church, Use of symbols by, 188

Churches of Christ in America, Federation of, 220

Circulation by volumes, 6;
  publicity value of, 142;
  tables, 7, 8

Circulation, Publicity, 142

Civil Engineers, Society of, 52

Civil War, Notions of, 180

Classroom libraries, 29

Clergy, Slight influence of, 13

"Close-ups" in motion pictures, 317

Clubs that meet in libraries, 148

Clubwomen's reading, 259

Colloquial speech, 92

Color-photography in motion pictures, 327

Combat, Settlement by, 158

Commercial travellers, 198

Commission government, 216

Constitution, United States, 50, 214;
  amendment of, 226

Continuum, 116

Cook, Dr. Frederick, 95

Copyright conference, 53

Courses of reading, 268

Court, International, 159

Creeds, Uses of, 333

Crowd-psychology on a ferry, 247

Dante, 46

D'Annunzio, G., 322

Delivery stations in drug stores, 241

Democracy a result, 72;
  and ancestry, 186;
  and despotism, 213;
  conditions of, 209

Department stores, 238

Despotism and democracy, 213

Dickens, pathos of, 175

Disarmament, 161

Discontinuity of the universe, 124

Distribution of books, 67, 129

Distributor, Library as a, 198

Divorce, Freedom of, 217

Don Quixote, Heine on, 173

Drug-addiction, 234

Drugs and the man, 229

Eaton, Walter Pritchard, quoted, 316

Eclecticism in America, 213

Economic advertising, 130

Economic writings of Newcomb, 86

Education, American, 218;
  in recreation, 100;
  modern methods of, 63;
  of the community, 243;
  of the sexes, 273;
  post-scholastic, 30;
  selective, 23, 65;
  through books, 90

Efficiency in association, 48;
  What is? 257

Elizabethan drama, 323

Energetics, Theory of, 114

Energy, Atomic theories of, 113

England an elective monarchy. 214;
  rigid customs in, 224;
  source consciousness in, 182

Ephemeral, Meaning of, 36

Episcopalians, 220

Eyes, injured by small type, 302

Fairy tales, 75

Falsity in books, 39

Feminist movement, 267

Flag, what it stands for, 187

Fiction, 39;
  interest in, 137;
  intoxication by, 40, 100;
  uses of, 35

Fluids, Mixture of, 118

Force symbolized by flag, 194

Ford, Henry, 237

Freedom, What is? 192

Gallicism in book-titles, 22

Gary system, 246

Genealogy, American, 179

Gibbs, J. Willard, quoted, 118

Good-will, Influence of, 17

Government, Federal, 213

Gravitation, Law of, 83

Gray's Elegy, 111

Greek tragedy, 324

Group-action, 45;
  on a ferry, 247

Hall, G. Stanley, quoted, 253

Harvard Classics, 109

Heine, Heinrich, quoted, 173

Henry, Joseph, 80

Heredity, and memory, 73;
  History and, 179

Hertzian waves, 121

Hilgard, Julius, 80

Hill, G.W., 84

Holmes, Mary J., 104

Homer, Methods of, 198

Honesty, Lack of, 32

Huey, Book by, 305

Hunt, Leigh, 109

Huret, Jules, 41

Identity, Meaning of, 114

Impeachment, 214

Indicator, in English libraries, 225

Indifference to books, 133

Information in books, 94

Inspiration from books, 101

Intemperance in reading, 40, 100

Interest, Importance of, 287, 289;
  Necessity of, 5, 137

International agreements in science, 85

Internationalism, 159

Intoxication by fiction, 40, 100

Ivanhoe, 175

James, William, 138;
  founder of pragmatism, 221;
  quoted, 287

Keith, Cleveland, 84

Kent, William, quoted, 229

Kepler, quoted, 177

Kinemacolor process, 327

Kinetic theory, 120

Koopman, H.L., 308

Lagrange, 114

Languages, written and spoken, 90

Large type, Books in, 301

Law, Enforcement of, 158

Le Bon, Gustave, 45

Lee, Gerald Stanley, 77

Legibility of type, 306

Libbey, Laura Jean, 41, 104

Libraries, Economic features of, 67

Library associations. 49;
  Non-partisanship of, 70, 96, 152;
  Private basis of, 169

Lindsay, Vachell, 321

Lines, Length of on printed page, 309

Liouville's theorem, 123

Lippmann, Walter, quoted, 216, 228

Literature an art, 165;
  evaluation of, 95;
  static and dynamic, 35

Los Angeles Public Library, 96

Lower-case letters. 307

Loyalists, United Empire, 180

Lummis, Chas. F., 96

Lunar theory, 84

Magazines, Support of, 68

Magical remedies, 233

Magnet, Definition of, 87

Make-up in motion pictures, 317

Malemployment, 229

Maxwell Jas. Clerk, 115

Mayflower, The, 183

Medical Record, Strasburg, 305

Meetings in libraries, 147

Memory, Latent, 74

Meredith, Geo., 110

Mexican commission, 194

Military associations, 48

Mill, John Stuart, 243, 244

Mind, Male and female types, 272

Moderation, Lack of in America, 235

Mohammedanism, 219

Molecular theory, 115

Moon's motion, 84

Morals, Eclecticism in, 216

Morgan, J.P., 169

Motives of library users, 11

Moving pictures, 313

Municipal ownership and operation, 154

Music, American, 218

N-ray, 333

Narrative, earliest literary form, 37

National Academy of Fine Arts, 57

National Academy of Science, 52

National Education Association, 50;
  Address before, 145

Nautical Almanac, 80

New country, What is? 182

New England Society, 179

New York, Free Circulating Library, 19

New York, Library support in, 200;
  West side readers, 42

New York Public Library, 11, 30, 220

Newcomb, Simon, Sketch of, 79

Newspapers, 36

Newton, Isaac, 83

Non-partisanship of library, 250

Norris, Frank, 322

Omar Khayyam, 108

Open shelves, 104;
  Origin of, 225

Optic, Oliver, 174

Ostwald, Wilhelm, 114

Pacifism, 157

Pageant of St. Louis, 188

Pantomime in the motion picture, 320

Papers, Ready-made, for clubs, 270;
  scientific, 275

Pater, Walter, 168

Paulist fathers, 220

Pauperization, intellectual, 68

Pendleton, A.M., quoted, 140

Perry, Bliss, quoted, 211

Pharmacy, School of, address to, 229

Philadelphia Free Library, Address at, 67

Philosophy, an interesting subject, 133, 138;
  in America, 220

Phonograph, Uses of, 94

Physics made interesting, 138

Pickford, Mary, 247, 317

Planck, Max, 113, 120

Planets, Orbits of, 83

Players' Club, N.Y., 51

Pocahontas, 183

Poincaré, Henri, 113, 120

"Poison labels" for books, 96

Porter, Noah, 334

Posse, International, 159

Possessive case, Use of, 19

Pragmatism in America, 221

Prayer Book as literature, 337

Prescott, William H., 95

Press, Slight influence of, 13

Pride, Personal and group, 185

Princeton University, 219

Printing Art, magazine, 308

Programitis, club disease, 286

Programmes, Club, 268, 280, 295

Public as library owners, 205

Public Library, 169;
  eclecticism of, 221;
  people's share in, 197

Publicity, Library, 140

Publisher, Function of, 67

Puritanism, 219

Quanta, 121;
  hypothesis of, 113

Race-record, Library as a, 74

Radio-activity, 231

Rayleigh's Law, 120

Readers, Do they read? 3

Reading, mechanism of, 91;
  skill in, 135

Realism in education, 246;
  in motion pictures, 314

Recall, earliest form of, 213

Records, varieties of, 94

Recreation through books, 99

Religion in America, 219

Renewal, Preservation by, 97

Repetition a test of art, 166

Reprinting, Use of, 98

Re-reading, Art of, 163

Residual personality, 290

Resonators, 121

Revolution, American, notions of, 180;
  versus evolution, 279

Revue Scientifique, 113

Roethlin, Barbara E., 306

Roman Catholic Church, 220

Roman viewpoint in history, 181

Rome, decadence of, 227

Rousiers, Paul de., quoted, 55, 56, 57

St. Louis Academy of Science, paper before, 113

St. Louis, library tax in, 200

St. Louis Public Library, 140, 254, 302;
  meetings in, 150

Sampling books, 110

Scenery in motion pictures, 317;
  in Elizabethan drama, 323;
  made of motion pictures, 327

School libraries, 29

School, Non-partisanship of, 70;
  Community use of, 155

Schoolmen of N.Y., Paper before, 23

Scientific societies, 52

"See America First" movement, 191

Selection In nature, 23;
  mechanical, 47

Selective education, 65

Sex in library use, 15

Sexes, differences of, 272

Shakespeare, 178;
  changes in, 293;
  rank of, 168;
  unavailable for stage, 323

Shaw, Edw. R., 304

Social Centre movement, 145

Society for Psychical Research, 82

Society of Illuminating Engineers, 57

Socrates, quoted, 338

Sorolla, 164

Southern views of Civil War, 180

Spelling reform, 93

Staginess of the theatre, 315

Standard Dictionary, 87

Standards in literature, 36

Statistics of reading, actual, 4

Story-telling, 37;
  extraordinary, 282

Structure of energy, 118

Superficiality, meaning of, 105; 269

Swift, Dean, 208

Symbols, Use of, 188

Taste, literary, 171;
  origin of, 4

Tax, library, 200

Teacher, influence of, 13, 243

Text-books, Defects of, 270

Therapeutics, Changes in, 230

Tocqueville, de., quoted, 56

Toronto, University of, 220

Trade-literature, 98

Tradition, Uses of, 93

Travel, Foreign, in United States, 41

Trollope, Anthony, 176

Tutorial system, 219

Tyndall, John, 138

Type sizes, Standardization of, 304

Un-American, what is? 226

Unfitness, Elimination of, 24

Union, symbolized by flag, 189

Unity of place on the stage, 324

Universal City, 317

Value, Structure of, 119

Van Dyke, Henry, quoted, 193

Verne, Jules, 86

Violence, systematization of, 157

Vision, Conservation of, 305

Volumes, Statistics by, 4

Walton, Isaac, 165

War, European, 209, 249; status of, 158

Wesley, John, 46

West, source-consciousness of, 182

White, Gilbert, 165

Wien, Wilhelm, 122

Women's Clubs, 210; reading of, 259

Woodbury, George E., quoted, 219

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