Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Pipefuls
Author: Morley, Christopher, 1890-1957
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 "Pipefuls" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



PIPEFULS

       *       *       *       *       *

_Other Books by the Author_

   PARNASSUS ON WHEELS

   THE HAUNTED BOOKSHOP

   SHANDYGAFF

   MINCE PIE

   KATHLEEN

   SONGS FOR A LITTLE HOUSE

   THE ROCKING HORSE

   HIDE AND SEEK

   TRAVELS IN PHILADELPHIA

       *       *       *       *       *



PIPEFULS

by

CHRISTOPHER MORLEY

[Illustration]

Illustrated by Walter Jack Duncan



Garden City      New York
Doubleday, Page & Company
1920

Copyright, 1920, by
Doubleday, Page & Company
All Rights Reserved, Including That of Translation
into Foreign Languages, Including the Scandinavian



THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED
TO
THREE MEN

HULBERT FOOTNER
EUGENE SAXTON
WILLIAM ROSE BENÉT

BECAUSE, IF I MENTIONED ONLY ONE
OF THEM, I WOULD HAVE TO
WRITE BOOKS
TO INSCRIBE TO THE OTHER TWO



PREFACE


Sir Thomas Browne said that Eve was "edified out of the rib of
Adam." This little book was edified (for the most part) out of
the ribs of two friendly newspapers, The New York _Evening Post_
and The Philadelphia _Evening Public Ledger_. To them, and to
_The Bookman_, _Everybody's_, and _The Publishers' Weekly_, I am
grateful for permission to reprint.

Tristram Shandy said, "When a man is hemm'd in by two indecorums,
and must commit one of 'em let him chuse which he will, the world
will blame him." Now it is one indecorum to let this collection
of small sketches go out (as they do) unrevised and just as they
assaulted the defenceless reader of the daily prints; and the
other indecorum would be to take fragments of this kind too
gravely, and attempt by more careful disposition of their pallid
members to arrange them into some appearance of painless decease.
As Gilbert Chesterton said (I wish I could say, on a similar
occasion): "Their vices are too vital to be improved with a blue
pencil, or with anything I can think of, except dynamite."

These sketches gave me pain to write; they will give the
judicious patron pain to read; therefore we are quits. I think,
as I look over their slattern paragraphs, of that most tragic
hour--it falls about 4 P. M. in the office of an evening
newspaper--when the unhappy compiler tries to round up the
broodings of the day and still get home in time for supper. And
yet perhaps the will-to-live is in them, for are they not a naked
exhibit of the antics a man will commit in order to earn a
living? In extenuation it may be pleaded that none of them are so
long that they may not be mitigated by an accompanying pipe of
tobacco.

THE AUTHOR.

Roslyn, Long Island,
July, 1920.



CONTENTS


                                             PAGE

Preface                                       vii

On Making Friends                               3

Thoughts on Cider                              10

One-Night Stands                               18

The Owl Train                                  25

Safety Pins                                    29

Confessions of a "Colyumist"                   34

Moving                                         42

Surf Fishing                                   48

"Idolatry"                                     52

The First Commencement Address                 60

The Downfall of George Snipe                   63

Meditations of a Bookseller                    66

If Buying a Meal Were Like Buying a House      71

Adventures in High Finance                     74

On Visiting Bookshops                          78

A Discovery                                    83

Silas Orrin Howes                              91

Joyce Kilmer                                   97

Tales of Two Cities                           109

  I. _Philadelphia_:
     An Early Train
     Ridge Avenue
     The University and the Urchin
     Pine Street
     Pershing in Philadelphia
     Fall Fever
     Two Days Before Christmas
     In West Philadelphia
     Horace Traubel

  II. _New York_:
     The Anatomy of Manhattan
     Vesey Street
     Brooklyn Bridge
     Three Hours for Lunch
     Passage from Some Memoirs
     First Lessons in Clowning
     House Hunting
     Long Island Revisited
     On Being in a Hurry
     Confessions of a Human Globule
     Notes on a Fifth Avenue Bus
     Sunday Morning
     Venison Pasty
     Grand Avenue, Brooklyn

On Waiting for the Curtain to Go Up           236

Musings of John Mistletoe                     240

The World's Most Famous Oration               242

On Laziness                                   244

Teaching the Prince to Take Notes             249

A City Notebook                               253

On Going to Bed                               270



PIPEFULS



ON MAKING FRIENDS

[Illustration]


Considering that most friendships are made by mere hazard, how is it
that men find themselves equipped and fortified with just the friends
they need? We have heard of men who asserted that they would like to
have more money, or more books, or more pairs of pyjamas; but we have
never heard of a man saying that he did not have enough friends. For,
while one can never have too many friends, yet those one has are always
enough. They satisfy us completely. One has never met a man who would
say, "I wish I had a friend who would combine the good humour of A, the
mystical enthusiasm of B, the love of doughnuts which is such an
endearing quality in C, and who would also have the habit of giving
Sunday evening suppers like D, and the well-stocked cellar which is so
deplorably lacking in E." No; the curious thing is that at any time and
in any settled way of life a man is generally provided with friends far
in excess of his desert, and also in excess of his capacity to absorb
their wisdom and affectionate attentions.

There is some pleasant secret behind this, a secret that none is wise
enough to fathom. The infinite fund of disinterested humane kindliness
that is adrift in the world is part of the riddle, the insoluble riddle
of life that is born in our blood and tissue. It is agreeable to think
that no man, save by his own gross fault, ever went through life
unfriended, without companions to whom he could stammer his momentary
impulses of sagacity, to whom he could turn in hours of loneliness. It
is not even necessary to know a man to be his friend. One can sit at a
lunch counter, observing the moods and whims of the white-coated
pie-passer, and by the time you have juggled a couple of fried eggs you
will have caught some grasp of his philosophy of life, seen the quick
edge and tang of his humour, memorized the shrewdness of his worldly
insight and been as truly stimulated as if you had spent an evening with
your favourite parson.

If there were no such thing as friendship existing to-day, it would
perhaps be difficult to understand what it is like from those who have
written about it. We have tried, from time to time, to read Emerson's
enigmatic and rather frigid essay. It seems that Emerson must have put
his cronies to a severe test before admitting them to the high-vaulted
and rather draughty halls of his intellect. There are fine passages in
his essay, but it is intellectualized, bloodless, heedless of the
trifling oddities of human intercourse that make friendship so
satisfying. He seems to insist upon a sterile ceremony of mutual
self-improvement, a kind of religious ritual, a profound interchange of
doctrines between soul and soul. His friends (one gathers) are to be
antisepticated, all the poisons and pestilence of their faulty humours
are to be drained away before they may approach the white and icy
operating table of his heart. "Why insist," he says, "on rash personal
relations with your friend? Why go to his house, or know his wife and
family?" And yet does not the botanist like to study the flower in the
soil where it grows?

Polonius, too, is another ancient supposed to be an authority on
friendship. The Polonius family must have been a thoroughly dreary one
to live with; we have often thought that poor Ophelia would have gone
mad anyway, even if there had been no Hamlet. Laertes preaches to
Ophelia; Polonius preaches to Laertes. Laertes escaped by going abroad,
but the girl had to stay at home. Hamlet saw that pithy old Polonius was
a preposterous and orotund ass. Polonius's doctrine of friendship--"The
friends thou hast, and their adoption tried, grapple them to thy soul
with hoops of steel"--was, we trow, a necessary one in his case. It
would need a hoop of steel to keep them near such a dismal old
sawmonger.

Friendships, we think, do not grow up in any such carefully tended and
contemplated fashion as Messrs. Emerson and Polonius suggest. They begin
haphazard. As we look back on the first time we saw our friends we find
that generally our original impression was curiously astray. We have
worked along beside them, have consorted with them drunk or sober, have
grown to cherish their delicious absurdities, have outrageously imposed
on each other's patience--and suddenly we awoke to realize what had
happened. We had, without knowing it, gained a new friend. In some
curious way the unseen border line had been passed. We had reached the
final culmination of Anglo-Saxon regard when two men rarely look each
other straight in the eyes because they are ashamed to show each other
how fond they are. We had reached the fine flower and the ultimate test
of comradeship--that is, when you get a letter from one of your "best
friends," you know you don't need to answer it until you get ready to.

Emerson is right in saying that friendship can't be hurried. It takes
time to ripen. It needs a background of humorous, wearisome, or even
tragic events shared together, a certain tract of memories shared in
common, so that you know that your own life and your companion's have
really moved for some time in the same channel. It needs interchange of
books, meals together, discussion of one another's whims with mutual
friends, to gain a proper perspective. It is set in a rich haze of
half-remembered occasions, sudden glimpses, ludicrous pranks,
unsuspected observations, midnight confidences when heart spoke to
candid heart.

[Illustration]

The soul preaches humility to itself when it realizes, startled, that
it has won a new friend. Knowing what a posset of contradictions we all
are, it feels a symptom of shame at the thought that our friend knows
all our frailties and yet thinks us worth affection. We all have cause
to be shamefast indeed; for whereas we love ourselves in spite of our
faults, our friends often love us even on account of our faults, the
highest level to which attachment can go. And what an infinite appeal
there is in their faces! How we grow to cherish those curious little
fleshy cages--so oddly sculptured--which inclose the spirit within. To
see those faces, bent unconsciously over their tasks--each different,
each unique, each so richly and queerly expressive of the lively and
perverse enigma of man, is a full education in human tolerance.
Privately, one studies his own ill-modeled visnomy to see if by any
chance it bespeaks the emotions he inwardly feels. We know--as Hamlet
did--the vicious mole of nature in us, the o'ergrowth of some complexion
that mars the purity of our secret resolutions. Yet--our friends have
passed it over, have shown their willingness to take us as we are. Can
we do less than hope to deserve their generous tenderness, granted
before it was earned?

The problem of education, said R. L. S., is two-fold--"first to know,
then to utter." Every man knows what friendship means, but few can utter
that complete frankness of communion, based upon full comprehension of
mutual weakness, enlivened by a happy understanding of honourable
intentions generously shared. When we first met our friends we met with
bandaged eyes. We did not know what journeys they had been on, what
winding roads their spirits had travelled, what ingenious shifts they
had devised to circumvent the walls and barriers of the world. We know
these now, for some of them they have told us; others we have guessed.
We have watched them when they little dreamed it; just as they (we
suppose) have done with us. Every gesture and method of their daily
movement have become part of our enjoyment of life. Not until a time
comes for saying good-bye will we ever know how much we would like to
have said. At those times one has to fall back on shrewder tongues. You
remember Hilaire Belloc:

    From quiet homes and first beginning
      Out to the undiscovered ends,
    There's nothing worth the wear of winning
      But laughter, and the love of friends.



THOUGHTS ON CIDER

[Illustration]


Our friend Dove Dulcet, the poet, came into our kennel and found
us arm in arm with a deep demijohn of Chester County cider. We
poured him out a beaker of the cloudy amber juice. It was just in
prime condition, sharpened with a blithe tingle, beaded with a
pleasing bubble of froth. Dove looked upon it with a kindled eye.
His arm raised the tumbler in a manner that showed this gesture
to be one that he had compassed before. The orchard nectar began
to sluice down his throat.

Dove is one who has faced many and grievous woes. His Celtic
soul peers from behind cloudy curtains of alarm. Old unhappy
far-off things and battles long ago fume in the smoke of his
pipe. His girded spirit sees agrarian unrest in the daffodil and
industrial riot in a tin of preserved prunes. He sees the world
moving on the brink of horror and despair. Sweet dalliance with a
baked bloater on a restaurant platter moves him to grief over the
hard lot of the Newfoundland fishing fleet. Six cups of tea warm
him to anguish over the peonage of Sir Thomas Lipton's coolies in
Ceylon. Souls in perplexity cluster round him like Canadian dimes
in a cash register in Plattsburgh, N. Y. He is a human sympathy
trust. When we are on our deathbed we shall send for him. The
perfection of his gentle sorrow will send us roaring out into the
dark, and will set a valuable example to the members of our
family.

But it is the rack of clouds that makes the sunset lovely. The
bosomy vapours of Dove's soul are the palette upon which the
decumbent sun of his spirit casts its vivid orange and scarlet
colours. His joy is the more perfect to behold because it bursts
goldenly through the pangs of his tender heart. His soul is like
the infant Moses, cradled among dark and prickly bullrushes; but
anon it floats out upon the river and drifts merrily downward on
a sparkling spate.

It has nothing to do with Dove, but we will here interject the
remark that a pessimist overtaken by liquor is the cheeriest
sight in the world. Who is so extravagantly, gloriously, and
irresponsibly gay?

Dove's eyes beaconed as the cider went its way. The sweet
lingering tang filled the arch of his palate with a soft mellow
cheer. His gaze fell upon us as his head tilted gently backward.
We wish there had been a painter there--someone like F. Walter
Taylor--to rush onto canvas the gorgeous benignity of his aspect.
It would have been a portrait of the rich Flemish school. Dove's
eyes were full of a tender emotion, mingled with a charmed and
wistful surprise. It was as though the poet was saying he had not
realized there was anything so good left on earth. His bearing
was devout, religious, mystical. In one moment of revelation (so
it appeared to us as we watched) Dove looked upon all the
profiles and aspects of life, and found them of noble outline.
Not since the grandest of Grand Old Parties went out of power has
Dove looked less as though he felt the world were on the verge of
an abyss. For several moments revolution and anarchy receded,
profiteers were tamed, capital and labour purred together on a
mattress of catnip, and the cosmos became a free verse poem. He
did not even utter the customary and ungracious remark of those
to whom cider potations are given: "That'll be at its best in
about a week." We apologized for the cider being a little warmish
from standing (discreetly hidden) under our desk. Douce man, he
said: "I think cider, like ale, ought not to be drunk too cold.
I like it just this way." He stood for a moment, filled with
theology and metaphysics. "By gracious," he said, "it makes all
the other stuff taste like poison." Still he stood for a brief
instant, transfixed with complete bliss. It was apparent to us
that his mind was busy with apple orchards and autumn sunshine.
Perhaps he was wondering whether he could make a poem out of it.
Then he turned softly and went back to his job in a life
insurance office.

As for ourself, we then poured out another tumbler, lit a corncob
pipe, and meditated. Falstaff once said that he had forgotten
what the inside of a church looked like. There will come a time
when many of us will perhaps have forgotten what the inside of a
saloon looked like, but there will still be the consolation of
the cider jug. Like the smell of roasting chestnuts and the
comfortable equatorial warmth of an oyster stew, it is a
consolation hard to put into words. It calls irresistibly for
tobacco; in fact the true cider toper always pulls a long puff at
his pipe before each drink, and blows some of the smoke into the
glass so that he gulps down some of the blue reek with his
draught. Just why this should be, we know not. Also some
enthusiasts insist on having small sugared cookies with their
cider; others cry loudly for Reading pretzels. Some have
ingenious theories about letting the jug stand, either tightly
stoppered or else unstoppered, until it becomes "hard." In our
experience hard cider is distressingly like drinking vinegar. We
prefer it soft, with all its sweetness and the transfusing savour
of the fruit animating it. At the peak of its deliciousness it
has a small, airy sparkle against the roof of the mouth, a
delicate tactile sensation like the feet of dancing flies. This,
we presume, is the 4-1/2 to 7 per cent of sin with which
fermented cider is credited by works of reference. There are
pedants and bigots who insist that the jug must be stoppered with
a corncob. For our own part, the stopper does not stay in the
neck long enough after the demijohn reaches us to make it worth
while worrying about this matter. Yet a nice attention to detail
may prove that the cob has some secret affinity with cider, for a
Missouri meerschaum never tastes so well as after three glasses
of this rustic elixir.

That ingenious student of social niceties, John Mistletoe, in his
famous Dictionary of Deplorable Facts--a book which we heartily
commend to the curious, for he includes a long and most informing
article on cider, tracing its etymology from the old Hebrew word
_shaker_ meaning "to quaff deeply"--maintains that cider should
only be drunk beside an open fire of applewood logs:

     And preferably on an evening of storm and wetness, when the swish
     and sudden pattering of rain against the panes lend an added
     agreeable snugness to the cheerful scene within, where master and
     dame sit by the rosy hearth frying sausages in a pan laid on the
     embers.

This reminds one of the anecdote related by ex-Senator Beveridge in his
Life of John Marshall. Justice Story told his wife that the justices of
the Supreme Court were of a self-denying habit, never taking wine except
in wet weather. "But it does sometimes happen that the Chief Justice
will say to me, when the cloth is removed, 'Brother Story, step to the
window and see if it does not look like rain.' And if I tell him that
the sun is shining brightly, Judge Marshall will sometimes reply, 'All
the better, for our jurisdiction extends over so large a territory that
the doctrine of chances makes it certain that it must be raining
somewhere.'"

Our own theory about cider is that the time to drink it is when it
reaches you; and if it hails from Chester County, so much the better.

We remember with gusto a little soliloquy on cider delivered by another
friend of ours, as we both stood in a decent ordinary on Fulton Street,
going through all the motions of jocularity and cheer. Cider (he said)
is our refuge and strength. Cider, he insisted, drawing from his pocket
a clipping much tarnished with age, is a drink for men of reason and
genteel nurture; a drink for such as desire to drink pleasantly,
amiably, healthily, and with perseverance and yet retain the command and
superintendence of their faculties. I have here (he continued) a
clipping sent me by an eminent architect in the great city of
Philadelphia (a city which it is a pleasure for me to contemplate by
reason of the beauty and virtue of its women, the infinite vivacity and
good temper of its men, the rectitudinal disposition of its highways)--I
have here (he exclaimed) a clipping sent me by an architect of fame,
charming parts, and infinite cellarage, explaining the virtues of cider.
Cider, this clipping asserts, produces a clearness of the complexion. It
brightens the eye, particularly in women, conducing to the composition
of generous compliment and all the social suavity that endears the
intercourse of the sexes. Longevity, this extract maintains, is the
result of application to good cider. The Rev. Martin Johnson, vicar of
Dilwyn, in Herefordshire, from 1651 to 1698 (he read from his clipping),
wrote:

     _This parish, wherein sider is plentiful, hath many people that
     do enjoy this blessing of long life; neither are the aged
     bedridden or decrepit as elsewhere; next to God, wee ascribe it
     to our flourishing orchards, first that the bloomed trees in
     spring do not only sweeten but purify the ambient air; next, that
     they yield us plenty of rich and winy liquors, which do conduce
     very much to the constant health of our inhabitants. Their
     ordinary course is to breakfast and sup with toast and sider
     through the whole Lent; which heightens their appetites and
     creates in them durable strength to labour._

There was a pause, and our friend (he is a man of girth and with a brow
bearing all the candor of a life of intense thought) leaned against the
mahogany counter.

That is very fine, we said, draining our chalice, and feeling brightness
of eye, length of years, and durable strength to labour added to our
person. In the meantime (we said) why do you not drink the rich and winy
liquor which your vessel contains?

He folded up his clipping and put it away with a sigh.

I always have to read that first, he said, to make the damned stuff
palatable. It will be ten years, he said, before the friend who sent me
that clipping will have to drink any cider.



ONE-NIGHT STANDS

[Illustration]


To those looking for an exhilarating vacation let us commend a
week of "trouping" on one-night stands with a theatrical company,
which mirthful experience has just been ours. We went along in
the very lowly capacity of co-author, which placed us somewhat
beneath the stage hands as far as dignity was concerned; and we
flatter ourself that we have learned our station and observe it
with due humility. The first task of the director who stages a
play is to let the author know where he gets off. This was
accomplished in our case by an argument concerning a speech in
the play where one of the characters remarks, "I propose to send
a mental message to Eliza." This sounds (we contend) quite a
harmless sentiment, but the director insisted that the person
speaking, being an Englishman of studious disposition, would not
say anything so inaccurate. "He would use much more correct
language," said the director. "He ought to say 'I _purpose_ to
send.'" We balked mildly at this. "All right," said our mentor.
"The trouble with you is you don't know any English. I'll send
you a copy of the Century dictionary."

This gentleman carried purism to almost extravagant lengths. He
objected to the customary pronunciation of "jew's-harp,"
insisting that the word should be "juice-harp," and instructing
the actor who mentioned this innocent instrument of melody to
write it down so in his script. When the dress rehearsal came
round, he was surveying the "set" for the first act with
considerable complacence. This scenery was intended to represent
a very ancient English inn at Stratford-on-Avon, and one of the
authors was heard to remark softly that it looked more like a
broker's office on Wall Street. But the director was unshaken.
"There's an old English inn up at Larchmont," said he, "and this
looks a good deal like it, so I guess we're all right."

Let any one who imagines the actor's life is one of bevo and
skittles sally along with a new play on its try-out in the
one-night circuit. When one sees the delightful humour,
fortitude, and high spirits with which the players face their
task he gains a new respect for the profession. It is with a
sense of shame that the wincing author hears his lines repeated
night after night--lines that seem to him to have grown so stale
and disreputably stupid, and which the ingenuity of the players
contrives to instill with life. With a sense of shame indeed does
he reflect that because one day long ago he was struck with a
preposterous idea, here are honest folk depending on it to earn
daily bread and travelling on a rainy day on a local train on the
Central New England Railway; here are 800 people in Saratoga
Springs filing into a theatre with naïve expectation on their
faces. Amusing things happen faster than he can stay to count
them. A fire breaks out in a cigar store a few minutes before
theatre time. It is extinguished immediately, but half the town
has rushed down to see the excitement. The cigar store is almost
next door to the theatre, and the crowd sees the lighted sign and
drops in to give the show the once-over, thus giving one a
capacity house. Then there are the amusing accidents that happen
on the stage, due to the inevitable confusion of one-night stands
with long jumps each day, when scenery and props arrive at the
theatre barely in time to be set up. In the third act one of the
characters has to take his trousers out of a handbag. He opens
the bag, but by some error no garments are within. Heavens! has
the stage manager mixed up the bags? He has only one hope. The
girlish heroine's luggage is also on the stage, and our comedian
dashes over and finds his trousers in her bag. This casts a most
sinister imputation on the adorable heroine, but our friend
(blessings on him) contrives it so delicately that the audience
doesn't get wise. Then doors that are supposed to be locked have
a habit of swinging open, and the luckless heroine, ready to say
furiously to the hero, "_Will_ you unlock the door?" finds
herself facing an open doorway and has to invent a line to get
herself off the stage.

Going on the road is a very humanizing experience and one gathers
a considerable respect for the small towns one visits. They are
so brisk, so proud in their local achievements, so prosperous and
so full of attractive shop-windows. When one finds in Johnstown,
N. Y., for instance, a bookshop with almost as well-assorted a
stock as one would see here in Philadelphia; or in Gloversville
and Newburgh public libraries that would be a credit to any large
city, one realizes the great tide of public intelligence that has
risen perceptibly in recent years. At the hotel in Gloversville
the proprietress assured us that "an English duke" had just left
who told her that he preferred her hotel to the Biltmore in New
York. We rather wondered about this English duke, but we looked
him up on the register and found that he was Sir H. Urnick of
Fownes Brothers, the glove manufacturers, who have a factory in
Gloversville. But then, being a glove manufacturer, he may have
been kidding her, as the low comedian of our troupe observed. But
the local pride of the small town is a genial thing. It may
always be noted in the barber shops. The small-town barber knows
his customers and when a strange face appears to be shaved on the
afternoon when the bills are announcing a play, he puts two and
two together. "Are you with that show?" he asks; and being
answered in the affirmative (one naturally would not admit that
one is merely there in the frugal capacity of co-author, and
hopes that he will imagine that such a face might conceivably
belong to the low comedian) he proceeds to expound the favourite
doctrine that this is a wise burg. "Yes," he says, "folks here
are pretty cagy. If your show can get by here you needn't worry
about New York. Believe me, if you get a hand here you can go
right down to Broadway. I always take in the shows, and I've
heard lots of actors say this town is harder to please than any
place they ever played."

One gets a new viewpoint on many matters by a week of one-night
stands. Theatrical billboards, for instance. We had always
thought, in a vague kind of way, that they were a defacement to a
town and cluttered up blank spaces in an unseemly way. But when
you are trouping, the first thing you do, after registering at
the hotel, is to go out and scout round the town yearning for
billboards and complaining because there aren't enough of them.
You meet another member of the company on the same errand and
say, "I don't see much paper out," this being the technical
phrase. You both agree that the advance agent must be loafing.
Then you set out to see what opposition you are playing against,
and emit groans on learning that "The Million Dollar Doll in
Paris" is also in town, or "Harry Bulger's Girly Show" will be
there the following evening, or Mack Sennett's Bathing Beauties
in Person. "That's the kind of stuff they fall for," said the
other author mournfully, and you hustle around to the box office
to see whether the ticket rack is still full of unsold pasteboard.

At this time of year, when all the metropolitan theatres are
crowded and there are some thirty plays cruising round in the
offing waiting for a chance to get into New York and praying that
some show now there will "flop," one crosses the trail of many
other wandering troupes that are battering about from town to
town. In remote Johnstown, N. Y., which can only be reached by
trolley and where there is no hotel (but a very fine large
theatre) one finds that Miss Grace George is to be the next
attraction. On the train to Saratoga one rides on the same train
with the Million Dollar Doll, and those who have seen her "paper"
on the billboards in Newburgh or Poughkeepsie keep an attentive
optic open for the lady herself to see how nearly she lives up to
her lithographs. And if the passerby should see a lighted window
in the hotel glimmering at two in the morning, he will probably
aver that there are some of those light-hearted "show people"
carousing over a flagon of Virginia Dare. Little does he suspect
that long after the tranquil thespians have gone to their
well-earned hay, the miserable authors of the trying-out piece
may be vigiling together, trying to dope out a new scene for the
third act. The saying is not new, but it comes frequently to the
lips of the one-night stander--It's a great life if you don't
weaken.



THE OWL TRAIN

[Illustration]


Across the cold moonlit landscapes, while good folk are at home curling
their toes in the warm bottom of the bed, the Owl trains rumble with a
gentle drone, neither fast nor slow.

There are several Owl trains with which we have been familiar. One,
rather aristocratic of its kind, is the caravan of sleeping cars that
leaves New York at midnight and deposits hustling business men of the
most aggressive type at the South Station, Boston. After a dissolute
progress full of incredible jerks and jolts these pilgrims reach this
dampest, darkest, and most Arctic of all terminals about the time the
morning codfish begins to warm his bosom on the gridirons of the sacred
city. Another, a terrible nocturnal prowler, slips darkly away from
Albany about 1 A. M., and rambles disconsolately and with shrill
wailings along the West Shore line. Below the grim Palisades of the
Hudson it wakes painful echoes. Its first six units, as far as one can
see in the dark, are blind express cars, containing milk cans and
coffins. We once boarded it at Kingston, and after uneasy slumber across
two facing seats found ourself impaled upon Weehawken three hours later.
There one treads dubiously upon a ferryboat in the fog and brume of
dawn, ungluing eyelids in the bleak dividing pressure of the river
breeze.

But the Owl train we propose to celebrate is the vehicle that departs
modestly from the crypt of the Pennsylvania Station in New York at
half-past midnight and emits blood-shot wanderers at West Philadelphia
at 3:16 in the morning. The railroad company, which thinks these
problems out with nice care, lulls the passengers into unconsciousness
of their woes not only by a gentle and even gait, a progress almost
tender in its carefully modulated repression of speed, but also by
keeping the cars at such an amazing heat that the victims promptly fade
into a swoon. Nowhere will you see a more complete abandonment to the
wild postures of fatigue and despair than in the pathetic sprawl of
these human forms upon the simmering plush settees. A hot eddy of some
varnish-tinctured vapour--certainly not air--rises from under the seats
and wraps the traveller in a nightmarish trance. Occasionally he starts
wildly from his dream and glares frightfully through the misted pane. It
is the custom of the trainmen, who tiptoe softly through the cars,
never to disturb their clients by calling out the names of stations.
When New Brunswick is reached many think that they have arrived at West
Philadelphia, or (worse still) have been carried on to Wilmington. They
rush desperately to the bracing chill of the platform to learn where
they are. There is a mood of mystery about this Owl of ours. The
trainmen take a quaint delight in keeping the actual whereabouts of the
caravan a merciful secret.

Oddly assorted people appear on this train. Occasional haughty
revellers, in evening dress and opera capes, appear among the humbler
voyagers. For a time they stay on their dignity: sit bravely upright and
talk with apparent intelligence. Then the drowsy poison of that stifled
atmosphere overcomes them, too, and they fall into the weakness of their
brethren. They turn over the opposing seat, elevate their nobler shins,
and droop languid heads over the ticklish plush chair-back. Strange
aliens lie spread over the seats. Nowhere will you see so many faces of
curious foreign carving. It seems as though many desperate exiles, who
never travel by day, use the Owl for moving obscurely from city to city.
This particular train is bound south to Washington, and at least half
its tenants are citizens of colour. Even the endless gayety of our dusky
brother is not proof against the venomous exhaustion of that boxed-in
suffocation. The ladies of his race are comfortably prepared for the
hardships of the route. They wrap themselves in huge fur coats and all
have sofa cushions to recline on. Even in an all-night session of
Congress you will hardly note so complete an abandonment of disillusion,
weariness, and cynical despair as is written upon the blank faces all
down the aisle. Even the will-power of a George Creel or a Will H. Hays
would droop before this three-hour ordeal. Professor Einstein, who talks
so delightfully of discarding Time and Space, might here reconsider his
theories if he brooded, baking gradually upward, on the hot green plush.

This genial Owl is not supposed to stop at North Philadelphia, but it
always does. By this time Philadelphia passengers are awake and gathered
in the cold vestibules, panting for escape. Some of them, against the
rules of the train, manage to escape on the North Philadelphia platform.
The rest, standing huddled over the swaying couplings, find the
leisurely transit to West Philadelphia as long as the other segments of
the ride put together. Stoically, and beyond the power of words, they
lean on one another. At last the train slides down a grade. In the dark
and picturesque tunnel of the West Philadelphia station, through thick
mists of steam where the glow of the fire box paints the fog a golden
rose, they grope and find the ancient stairs. Then they stagger off to
seek a lonely car or a night-hawk taxi.



SAFETY PINS

[Illustration]


Ligature of infancy, healing engine of emergency, base and
mainstay of our civilization--we celebrate the safety pin.

What would we do without safety pins? Is it not odd to think,
looking about us on our fellowmen (bearded realtors, ejaculating
poets, plump and ruddy policemen, even the cheerful dusky
creature who runs the elevator and whistles "Oh, What a Pal Was
Mary" as the clock draws near 6 P. M.)--all these were first
housed and swaddled and made seemly with a paper of safety pins.
How is it that the inventor who first conferred this great gift
on the world is not known by name for the admiration and applause
of posterity? Was it not the safety pin that made the world safe
for infancy?

There will be some, mayhap, to set up the button as rival to the
safety pin in service to humanity. But our homage bends toward
the former. Not only was it our shield and buckler when we were
too puny and impish to help ourselves, but it is also (now we are
parent) symbol of many a hard-fought field, where we have
campaigned all over the white counterpane of a large bed to
establish an urchin in his proper gear, while he kicked and
scrambled, witless of our dismay. It is fortunate, pardee, that
human memory does not extend backward to the safety pin
era--happily the recording carbon sheet of the mind is not
inserted on the roller of experience until after the singular
humiliations of earliest childhood have passed. Otherwise our
first recollection would doubtless be of the grimly flushed large
face of a resolute parent, bending hotly downward in effort to
make both ends meet while we wambled and waggled in innocent,
maddening sport. In those days when life was (as George Herbert
puts it) "assorted sorrows, anguish of all sizes," the safety pin
was the only thing that raised us above the bandar-log. No wonder
the antique schoolmen used to enjoy computing the number of
angels that might dance on the point of a pin. But only
archangels would be worthy to pirouette on a safety pin, which is
indeed mightier than the sword. When Adam delved and Eve did
spin, what did they do for a safety pin?

Great is the stride when an infant passes from the safety pin
period to the age of buttons. There are three ages of human
beings in this matter: (1) Safety pins, (2) Buttons, (3) Studs,
or (for females) Hooks and Eyes. Now there is an interim in the
life of man when he passes away from safety pins, and, for a
season, knows them not--save as mere convenience in case of
breakdown. He thinks of them, in his antic bachelor years, as
merely the wrecking train of the sartorial system, a casual
conjunction for pyjamas, or an impromptu hoist for small clothes.
Ah! with humility and gratitude he greets them again later,
seeing them at their true worth, the symbol of integration for
the whole social fabric. Women, with their intuitive wisdom, are
more subtle in this subject. They never wholly outgrow safety
pins, and though they love to ornament them with jewellery,
precious metal, and enamels, they are naught but safety pins
after all. Some ingenious philosopher could write a full tractate
on woman in her relation to pins--hairpins, clothes pins, rolling
pins, hatpins.

Only a bachelor, as we have implied, scoffs at pins. Hamlet
remarked, after seeing the ghost, and not having any Sir Oliver
Lodge handy to reassure him, that he did not value his life at a
pin's fee. Pope, we believe, coined the contemptuous phrase, "I
care not a pin." The pin has never been done justice in the
world of poetry. As one might say, the pin has had no Pindar. Of
course there is the old saw about see a pin and pick it up, all
the day you'll have good luck. This couplet, barbarous as it is
in its false rhyme, points (as Mother Goose generally does) to a
profound truth. When you see a pin, you must pick it up. In other
words, it is on the floor, where pins generally are. Their
instinctive affinity for terra firma makes one wonder why they,
rather than the apple, did not suggest the law of gravitation to
someone long before Newton.

Incidentally, of course, the reason why Adam and Eve were
forbidden to pick the apple was that it was supposed to stay on
the tree until it fell, and Adam would then have had the credit
of spotting the principle of gravitation.

Much more might be said about pins, touching upon their curious
capacity for disappearing, superstitions concerning them,
usefulness of hatpins or hairpins as pipe-cleaners, usefulness of
pins to schoolboys, both when bent for fishing and when filed to
an extra point for use on the boy in the seat in front (honouring
him in the breech, as Hamlet would have said) and their curious
habits of turning up in unexpected places, undoubtedly caught by
pins in their long association with the lovelier sex. But of
these useful hyphens of raiment we will merely conclude by saying
that those interested in the pin industry will probably emigrate
to England, for we learn from the Encyclopædia Britannica that in
that happy island pins are cleaned by being boiled in weak beer.
Let it not be forgotten, however, that of all kinds, the safety
is the King Pin.



CONFESSIONS OF A "COLYUMIST"

[Illustration]


I can not imagine any pleasant job so full of pangs, or any painful job
so full of pleasures, as the task of conducting a newspaper column.

The colyumist, when he begins his job, is disheartened because nobody
notices it. He soon outgrows this, and is disheartened because too many
people notice it, and he imagines that all see the paltriness of it as
plainly as he does. There is nothing so amazing to him as to find that
any one really enjoys his "stuff." Poor soul, he remembers how he
groaned over it at his desk. He remembers the hours he sat with
lack-lustre eye and addled brain, brooding at the sluttish typewriter.
He remembers the flush of shame that tingled him as he walked sadly
homeward, thinking of some atrocious inanity he had sent upstairs to the
composing-room. It is a job that engenders a healthy humility.

I had always wanted to have a try at writing a column. Heaven help me, I
think I had an idea that I was born for the job. I may as well be
candid. There was a time when I seriously thought of inserting the
following ad in a Philadelphia newspaper. I find a memorandum of it in
my scrap-book:

     HUMORIST: Young and untamed, lineal descendent of Eugene Field,
     Frank Stockton, and François Rabelais, desires to run a column in
     a Philadelphia newspaper. A guaranteed circulation-getter.

     Said Humorist can also supply excellent veins of philosophy,
     poetry, satire, uplift, glad material and indiscriminate musings.
     Remarkable opportunity for any newspaper desiring a really
     unusual editorial feature. Address HUMORIST, etc.

So besotted was I, I would have paid to have this printed if I had not
been counselled by an older and wiser head.

I instance this to show that the colyumist is likely to begin his job
with the conception that it is to be a perpetual uproar of mirth and
high spirits. This lasts about a week. He then learns, in secret, to
take it rather seriously. He has to deal with the most elusive and
grotesque material he knows--his own mind; and the unhappy creature,
everlastingly probing himself in the hope of discovering what is so rare
in minds (a thought), is likely to end in a ferment of bitterness. The
happiest times in life are when one can just live along and enjoy things
as they happen. If you have to be endlessly speculating, watching, and
making mental notes, your brain-gears soon get a hot box. The original
of all paragraphers--Ecclesiastes--came very near ending as a complete
cynic; though in what F. P. A. would call his "lastline," he managed to
wriggle into a more hopeful mood.

The first valuable discovery that the colyumist is likely to make is
that all minds are very much the same. The doctors tell us that all
patent medicines are built on a stock formula--a sedative, a purge, and
a bitter. If you are to make steady column-topers out of your readers,
your daily dose must, as far as possible, average up to that same
prescription. If you employ the purge all the time, or the sedative, or
the acid, your clients will soon ask for something with another label.

Don Marquis once wrote an admirable little poem called "A Colyumist's
Prayer." Mr. Marquis, who is the king of all colyumists, realizes that
there is what one may call a religious side in colyumizing. It is hard
to get the colyumist to admit this, for he fears spoofing worse than the
devil; but it is eminently true. If I were the owner of a newspaper, I
think I would have painted up on the wall of the local room the
following words from Isaiah, the best of all watchwords for all who
write:

     Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put
     darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for
     sweet, and sweet for bitter!

The most painful privilege of the colyumist's job is the number of
people who drop in to see him, usually when he is imprecating his way
toward the hour of going to press. This is all a part of the great and
salutary human instinct against work. When people see a man toiling,
they have an irresistible impulse to crowd round and stop him. They seem
to imagine that he has been put there on purpose to help them solve
their problems, to find a job for their friend from Harrisburg, or to
tell them how to find a publisher for their poems. Unhappily, their
victim being merely human, is likely to grow a bit snappish under
infliction. Yet now and then he gets a glimpse into a human vexation so
sincere, so honest, and so moving that he turns away from the typewriter
with a sigh. He wonders how one dare approach the chronicling of this
muddled panorama with anything but humility and despair. Frank Harris
once said of Oscar Wilde: "If England insists on treating her criminals
like this, she doesn't deserve to have any." Similarly, if the public
insists on bringing its woes to its colyumists, it doesn't deserve to
have any colyumists. Then the battered jester turns again to his machine
and ticks off something like this:

     _We have heard of ladies who have been tempted beyond their
     strength. We have also seen some who have been strengthened
     beyond their temptation._

Of course there are good days, too. (This is not one of them.) Days when
the whole course of the news seems planned for the benefit of the
chaffish and irreverent commentator. When Governor Hobby of Texas issues
a call for the state cavalry. When one of your clients drops in, in the
goodness of his heart, to give you his own definition of a pessimist--a
pessimist, he says, is a man who wears both belt and suspenders. When a
big jewellery firm in the city puts out a large ad--

    Bailey, Banks & Biddle Company
          Watches for Women
    Of Superior Design and Perfection
              of Movement

all that one needs to do to that is to write over it the caption

SO DO WE ALL

and pass on to the next paragraph.

The more a colyumist is out on the streets, making himself the reporter
of the moods and oddities of men, the better his stuff will be. It seems
to me that his job ought to be good training for a novelist, as it
teaches him a habit of human sensitiveness. He becomes filled with an
extraordinary curiosity about the motives and purposes of the people he
sees. The other afternoon I was very much struck by the unconscious
pathos of a little, gentle-eyed old man who was standing on Chestnut
Street studying a pocket notebook. His umbrella leaned against a
shop-window, on the sill of which he had laid a carefully rolled-up
newspaper. By his feet was a neat leather brief-case, plumply filled
with contents not discernible. There he stood (a sort of unsuccessful
Cyrus Curtis), very diminutive, his gray hair rather long abaft his
neck, his yellowish straw hat (with curly brim) tilted backward as
though in perplexity, his timid and absorbed blue eyes poring over his
memorandum-book which was full of pencilled notes. He had a slightly
unkempt, brief beard and whiskers, his cheek-bones pinkish, his linen a
little frayed. There was something strangely pathetic about him, and I
would have given much to have been able to speak to him. I halted at a
window farther down the street and studied him; then returned to pass
him again, and watched him patiently. He stood quite absorbed, and was
still there when I went on.

That is just one of the thousands of vivid little pictures one sees on
the city streets day by day. To catch some hint of the meaning of all
this, to present a few scrawled notes of the amazing interest and colour
of the city's life, this is the colyumist's task as I see it. It is a
task not a whit less worthy, less painful, or less baffling than that of
the most conscientious novelist. And it is carried on in surroundings of
extraordinary stimulation and difficulty. It is heart-racking to
struggle day by day, amid incessant interruption and melee, to snatch
out of the hurly-burly some shreds of humour or pathos or (dare one
say?) beauty, and phrase them intelligibly.

But it is fun. One never buys a package of tobacco, crosses a city
square, enters a trolley car or studies a shop-window without trying, in
a baffled, hopeless way, to peer through the frontage of the experience,
to find some glimmer of the thoughts, emotions, and meanings behind. And
in the long run such a habit of inquiry must bear fruit in understanding
and sympathy. Joseph Conrad (who seems, by the way, to be more read by
newspaper men than any other writer) put very nobly the pinnacle of all
scribblers' dreams when he said that human affairs deserve the tribute
of "a sigh which is not a sob, a smile which is not a grin."

So much, with apology, for the ideals of the colyumist, if he be
permitted to speak truth without fear of mockery. Of course in the
actual process and travail of his job you will find him far different.
You may know him by a sunken, brooding eye; clothing marred by much
tobacco, and a chafed and tetchy humour toward the hour of five P. M.
Having bitterly schooled himself to see men as paragraphs walking, he
finds that his most august musings have a habit of stewing themselves
down to some ferocious or jocular three-line comment. He may yearn
desperately to compose a really thrilling poem that will speak his
passionate soul; to churn up from the typewriter some lyric that will
rock with blue seas and frantic hearts; he finds himself allaying the
frenzy with some jovial sneer at Henry Ford or a yell about the High
Cost of Living. Poor soul, he is like one condemned to harangue the
vast, idiotic world through a keyhole, whence his anguish issues thin
and faint. Yet who will say that all his labour is wholly vain? Perhaps
some day the government will crown a Colyumist Laureate, some majestic
sage with ancient patient blue eyes and a snowy beard nobly stained with
nicotine, whose utterances will be heeded with shuddering respect. All
minor colyumists will wear robes and sandals; they will be an order of
scoffing friars; people will run to them on crowded streets to lay
before them the sorrows and absurdities of men. And in that day

    The meanest paragraph that blows will give
    Thoughts that do often lie too deep for sneers.



MOVING

[Illustration]


Man, we suspect, is the only animal capable of persuading himself
that his hardships are medicine to the soul, of flattering
himself into a conviction that some mortal spasm was a fortifying
discipline.

Having just moved our household goods for the fourth time in four
years, we now find ourself in the singular state of trying to
believe that the horrors of the event have added to our supply of
spiritual resignation. Well, let us see.

The brutal task of taking one's home on trek is (we can argue) a
stirring tonic, a kind of private rehearsal of the Last Judgment,
when the sheep shall be divided from the shoats. What could be a
more convincing reminder of the instability of man's affairs than
the harrowing upheaval of our cherished properties? Those dark
angels, the moving men, how heartless they seem in their brisk
and resolute dispassion--yet how exactly they prefigure the
implacable sternness of the ultimate shepherds. A strange life is
theirs, taking them day after day into the bosom of homes
prostrated by the emigrating throe. Does this matter-of-fact
bearing conceal an infinite tenderness, a pity that dare not show
itself for fear of unmanly collapse? Are they secretly broken by
the sight of the desolate nursery, the dismantled crib, the
forgotten clockwork monkey lying in a corner of the cupboard
where the helpless Urchin laid it with care before he and his
smaller sister were deported, to be out of the way in the final
storm? Does the o'ermastering pathos of a modest household turned
inside out, its tender vitals displayed to the passing world,
wring their breasts? Stoic men, if so, they well conceal their
pangs.

They have one hopelessly at a disadvantage. In the interval that
always elapses before the arrival of the second van, there is a
little social chat and utterance of reminiscences. There is a
lively snapping of matchheads on thumbnails, and seated at ease
in the débris of the dismantled living room our friends will
tell of the splendour of some households they have moved before.
The thirty-eight barrels of gilt porcelain, the twenty cases of
oil paintings, the satin-wood grand piano that their spines
twinge to recall. Once our furnitures were moved by a crew of
lusty athletes who had previously done the same for Mr. Ivy Lee,
and while we sat in shamed silence we heard the tale of Mr. Lee's
noble possessions. Of what avail would it have been for us to
protest that we love our stuff as much as Mr. Lee did his? No, we
had a horrid impulse to cry apology, and beg them to hurl the
things into the van anyhow, just to end the agony.

This interval of social chat being prolonged by the blizzard, the
talk is likely to take a more ominous turn. We are told how, only
last week, a sister van was hit by a train at a crossing and
carried a hundred yards on the engine pilot. Two of the men were
killed, though one of these lived from eleven o'clock Saturday
morning until eleven o'clock Monday night. How, after hearing
this, can one ask what happened to the furniture, even if one is
indecent enough to think of it? Then one learns of another of the
fleet, stalled in a drift on the way to Harrisburg, and hasn't
been heard from for forty-eight hours. Sitting in subdued
silence, one remembers something about "moving accidents by flood
and field," and thanks fortune that these pitiful oddments are
only going to a storage warehouse, not to be transported thence
until the kindly season of spring.

But packing for storage instead of for moving implies subtler and
more painful anguishes. Here indeed we have a tonic for the soul,
for election must be made among one's belongings: which are to be
stored, and which to accompany? Take the subject of books for
instance. Horrid hesitation: can we subsist for four or five
months on nothing but the "Oxford Book of English Verse" and
Boswell's Johnson? Suppose we want to look up a quotation, in
those late hours of the night when all really worthwhile reading
is done? Our memory is knitted with a wide mesh. Suppose we want
to be sure just what it was that Shakespeare said happened to him
in his "sessions of sweet silent thought," what are we going to
do? We will have to fall back on the customary recourse of the
minor poet--if you can't remember one of Shakespeare's sonnets,
at least you can write one of your own instead. Speaking of
literature, it is a curious thing that the essayists have so
neglected this topic of moving. It would be pleasant to know how
the good and the great have faced this peculiarly terrible crisis
of domestic affairs. When the Bard himself moved back to
Stratford after his years in London, what did he think about it?
How did he get all his papers packed up, and did he, in mere
weariness, destroy the half-done manuscripts of plays? Charles
Lamb moved round London a good deal; did he never write of his
experience? We like to think of Emerson: did he ever move, and if
so, how did he behave when the fatal day came? Did he sit on a
packing case and utter sepulchral aphorisms? Think of Lord Bacon
and how he would have crystallized the matter in a phrase.

Of course in bachelor days moving may be a huge lark, a humorous
escapade. We remember some high-spirited young men, three of
them, who were moving their chattels from rooms on Twenty-first
Street to a flat on Irving Place. Frugality was their necessary
watchword, and they hired a pushcart in which to transport the
dunnage. It was necessary to do this on Sunday, and one of the
trio, more sensitive than the others, begged that they should
rise and accomplish the public shame early in the morning, before
the streets were alive. In particular, he begged, let the route
be chosen to avoid a certain club on Gramercy Park where he had
many friends, and where he was loath to be seen pushing his
humble intimacies. The others, scenting sport, and brazenly hardy
of spirit, contrived to delay the start on one pretext or another
until the middle of the forenoon. Then, by main force, ignoring
his bitter protest, they impelled the staggering vehicle, grossly
overloaded, past the very door of the club my friend had wished
to avoid. Here, by malicious inspiration, they tilted the wain to
one side and strewed the paving with their property. They skipped
nimbly round the corner, and with highly satisfactory laughter
watched their blushing partner labouring dismally to collect the
fragments. Some of his friends issuing from the club lent a hand,
and the joy of the conspirators was complete.

But to the family man, moving is no such airy picnic. Sadly he
goes through the last dismal rites and sees the modest fragments
of his dominion hustled toward the cold sepulture of a motor van.
Before the toughened bearing of the hirelings he doubts what
manner to assume. Shall he stand at the front door and exhort
them to particular care with each sentimental item, crying "Be
careful with that little chair; that's the one the Urchin uses
when he eats his evening prunes!" Or shall he adopt a gruesome
sarcasm, hoping to awe them by conveying the impression that even
if the whole van should be splintered in collision, he can get
more at the nearest department store? Whatever policy he adopts,
they will not be much impressed. For, when we handed our
gratuity, not an ungenerous one, to the driver, asking him to
divide it among the gang, we were startled to hear them burst
into loud screams of mirth. We asked, grimly, the cause. It
appeared that during the work one of our friends, apparently
despairing of any pourboire appropriate to his own conceptions of
reward, had sold his share of the tip to the driver for fifteen
cents. We are not going to say how much he lost by so doing. But
this gamble put the driver in such a good humour that we believe
he will keep away from railroad crossings.



SURF FISHING

[Illustration]


All day long you see them stand thigh-deep in the surf, fishing.
Up on the beach each one has a large basket containing clams for
bait, extra hooks and leaders, a little can of oil for the reel,
and any particular doo-dads dear to the heart of the individual
fisherman. And an old newspaper, all ready to protect the
anticipated catch from the rays of the sun.

Some of them wear bathing suits; others rubber hip-boots, or
simply old clothes that won't mind getting wet. If they are very
full of swank they will have a leather belt with a socket to hold
the butt of the rod. Every now and then you will see them pacing
backward up the beach, reeling in the line. They will mutter
something about a big strike that time, and he got away with the
bait. With zealous care they spear some more clam on the hook,
twisting it over and over the barb so as to be firmly impaled.
Then, with careful precision, they fling the line with its heavy
pyramid sinker far out beyond the line of breakers.

There they stand. What do they think about, one wonders? But what
does any one think about when fishing? That is one of the happy
pastimes that don't require much thinking. The long ridges of
surf crumble about their knees and the sun and keen vital air
lull them into a cheerful drowse of the faculties. Do they
speculate on the never-ending fascination of the leaning walls of
water, the rhythmical melody of the rasp and hiss of the water?
Do they watch that indescribable beauty of the breaking wave, a
sight as old as humankind and yet never so described that one who
has not seen it could picture it?

The wave gathers height and speed as it moves toward the sand. It
seems to pull itself together for the last plunge. The first wave
that ever rolled up to a beach probably didn't break. It just
slid. It was only the second wave that broke--curled over in that
curious way. For our theory--which may be entirely wrong--is that
the breaking is due to the undertow of previous waves. After a
wave sprawls up on the beach, it runs swiftly back. This
receding undercurrent--you can feel it very strongly if you are
swimming just in front of a large wave about to break--digs in
beneath the advancing hill of water. It cuts away the foundations
of that hill, which naturally topples over at the crest.

The wave of water leans and hangs for a delaying instant. The
actual cascade may begin at one end and run along the length of
the ridge; it may begin at both ends and twirl inward, meeting in
the middle; it may (but very rarely) begin in the middle and work
outward. As the billow is at its height, before it combs over,
the fisherman sees the sunlight gleaming through it--an ecstasy
of perfect lucid green, with the glimmer of yellow sand behind.
Then, for a brief moment--so brief that the details can never be
memorized--he sees a clear crystal screen of water falling
forward. Another instant, and it is all a boil of snowy suds
seething about his legs. He may watch it a thousand times, a
million times; it will never be old, never wholly familiar.
Colour varies from hour to hour, from day to day. Sometimes blue
or violet, sometimes green-olive or gray. The backwash tugs at
his boots, hollowing out little channels under his feet. The sun
wraps him round like a mantle; the salt crusts and thickens in
his hair. And then, when he has forgotten everything save the
rhythm of the falling waves, there comes a sudden tug----

He reels in, and a few curious bathers stand still in the surf
to see what he has got. They are inclined to be scornful. It is
such a little fish! One would think that such a vast body of
water would be ashamed to yield only so small a prize. Never
mind. He has compensations they wot not of. Moreover--although he
would hardly admit it himself--the fishing business is only a
pretext. How else could a grown man with grizzled hair have an
excuse to stand all day paddling in the surf?



"IDOLATRY"

[Illustration]


Once in a while, when the name of R. L. S. is mentioned in
conversation, someone says to us: "Ah well, you're one of the
Stevenson idolators, aren't you?" And this is said with a curious
air of cynical superiority, as of one who has experienced all
these things and is superbly tolerant of the shallow mind that
can still admire Tusitala. His work (such people will generally
tell you) was brilliant but "artificial" ... and for the true
certificated milk of the word one must come along to such modern
giants as Dreiser and Hergesheimer and Cabell. For these artists,
each in his due place, we have only the most genial respect. But
when the passion of our youth is impugned as "idolatry" we feel
in our spirit an intense weariness. We feel the pacifism of the
wise and secretive mind that remains tacit when its most perfect
inward certainties are assailed. One does not argue, for there
are certain things not arguable. One shrugs. After all, what
human gesture more eloquent (or more satisfying to the performer)
than the shrug?

There is a little village on the skirts of the Forest of
Fontainebleau (heavenly region of springtime and romance!) where
the crystal-green eddies of the Loing slip under an old gray
bridge with sharp angled piers of stone. Near the bridge is a
quiet little inn, one of the many happy places in that country
long frequented by artists for painting and "_villégiature_."
Behind the inn is a garden beside the river-bank. The _salle à
manger_, as in so many of those inns at Barbizon, Moret, and the
other Fontainebleau villages, is panelled and frescoed with
humorous and high-spirited impromptus done by visiting painters.

In the summer of 1876 an anxious rumour passed among the artist
colonies. It was said that an American lady and her two children
had arrived at Grez, and the young bohemians who regarded this
region as their own sacred retreat were startled and alarmed.
Were their chosen haunts to be invaded by tourists--and tourists
of the disturbing sex? Among three happy irresponsibles this
humorous anxiety was particularly acute. One of the trio was sent
over to Grez as a scout, to spy out the situation and report. The
emissary went, and failed to return. A second explorer was
dispatched to study the problem. He, too, was swallowed up in
silence. The third, impatiently waiting tidings from his
faithless friends, set out to make an end of this mystery. He
reached the inn at dusk: it was a gentle summer evening; the
windows were open to the tender air; lamps were lit within, and a
merry party sat at dinner. Through the open window the suspicious
venturer saw the recreant ambassadors, gay with laughter. And
there, sitting in the lamplight, was the American lady--a
slender, thoughtful enchantress with eyes as dark and glowing as
the wine. Thus it was that Robert Louis Stevenson first saw Fanny
Osbourne.

A few days later Mrs. Osbourne's eighteen-year-old daughter
Isobel wrote in a letter: "There is a young Scotchman here, a Mr.
Stevenson. He is such a nice-looking ugly man, and I would rather
listen to him talk than read the most interesting book.... Mama
is ever so much better and is getting prettier every day."

"The Life of Mrs. Robert Louis Stevenson," written by her sister
Mrs. Sanchez (the mother of "little Louis Sanchez on the beach at
Monterey" remembered by lovers of "A Child's Garden of Verses")
is a book that none of the so-called idolaters will want to
overlook. The romantic excitements of R. L. S.'s youth were tame
indeed compared to those of Fanny Van de Grift. R. L. S. had
been thrilled enough by a few nights spent in the dark with the
docile ass of the Cevennes; but here was one, sprung from sober
Philadelphia blood, born in Indianapolis and baptized by Henry
Ward Beecher, who had pioneered across the fabled Isthmus, lived
in the roaring mining camps of Nevada, worked for a dressmaker in
Frisco, and venturously taken her young children to Belgium and
France to study art. She had been married at seventeen, had
already once thought herself to be a widow in fact by the
temporary disappearance of her first husband; and was now, after
enduring repeated infidelities, prepared to make herself a widow
in law. Daring horse woman, a good shot, a supreme cook, artist,
writer, and a very Gene Stratton Porter among flowers, fearless,
beautiful, and of unique charm--where could another woman have
been found so marvellously gifted to be the wife of a romancer?
It seems odd that Philadelphia and Edinburgh, the two most
conservatively minded cities of the Anglo-Saxon earth, should
have combined to produce this, the most radiant pair of
adventurers in our recent annals.

The reading of this delightful book has taken us back into the
very pang and felicity of our first great passion--our idolatry,
if you will--which we are proud here and now to re-avow. When was
there ever a happier or more wholesome worship for a boy than the
Stevenson mania on which so many of this generation grew up? We
were the luckier in that our zeal was shared in all its gusto and
particularity by a lean, long-legged, sallow-faced, brown-eyed
eccentric (himself incredibly Stevensonian in appearance) with
whom we lay afield in our later teens, reading R. L. S. aloud by
the banks of a small stream which we vowed should become famous
in the world of letters. And so it has, though not by our
efforts, which was what we had designed; for at the crystal
headwater of that same creek was penned "The Amenities of Book
Collecting," that enchanting volume of bookish essays which has
swelled the correspondence of a Philadelphia business man to
insane proportions, and even brought him offers from three
newspapers to conduct a book page. It seems appropriate to the
present chronicler that in a quiet library overlooking the clear
fount and origin of dear Darby Creek there are several of the
most cherished association volumes of R. L. S.--we think
particularly of the "Child's Garden of Verses" which he gave to
Cummy, and the manuscript of little "Smoutie's" very first book,
the "History of Moses."

       *       *       *       *       *

Was there ever a more joyous covenant of affection than that of
Mifflin McGill and ourself in our boyish madness for Tusitala? It
is a happy circumstance, we say, for a youth, before the
multiplying responsibilities of maturity press upon him, to pour
out his enthusiasm in an obsession such as that; and when this
passion can be shared and doubled and knitted in partnership with
an equally freakish, insane, and innocent idiot (such as our
generously mad friend Mifflin) admirable adventures are sure to
follow. The quest begun on Darby Creek took us later on an
all-summer progress among places in England and Scotland hallowed
to us by association with R. L. S. Never, in any young lives past
or to come, could there be an instant of purer excitement and
glory than when, after bicycling hotly all day with the blue
outline of Arthur's Seat apparently always receding before us, we
trundled grimly into Auld Reekie and set out for the old
Stevenson home at 17 Heriot Row, halting only to bestow our
pneumatic steeds in the nearest and humblest available hostelry.
There (for we found the house empty and "To Let") we sat on the
doorstep evening by evening, smoking in the long northern
twilight and spinning our youthful dreams. This lust for hunting
out our favourite author's footsteps even led one of the pair to
a place perhaps never visited by any other Stevensonian
pilgrim--old Cockfield Rectory, in Suffolk, where Mrs. Sitwell
and Sidney Colvin first met the bright-eyed Scotch boy in 1873.
The tracker of footprints remembers how kind were the then
occupants of the old rectory, and how, in a daze of awe, he trod
the green and tranquil lawn and hastened to visit a cottage near
by where there was an ancient rustic who had been coachman at
the rectory when R. L. S. stayed there, fabled to retain some
pithy recollection. Alas, the Suffolk ancient, eager enough to
share tobacco and speech, would only mull over his memories of a
previous rector, describing how it had fallen to him to prepare
the good man for burial; how he smiled in death and his cheeks
were as rosy as a babe's.

It would take many pages to narrate all the bypaths and happy
excursions trod by these simple youths in their quest of the
immortal Louis. The memories come bustling, and one knows not
where to stop. The supreme adventure, for one of the pair, lay in
the kindness of Sir Sidney Colvin. To this prince of gentlemen
and scholars one of these lads wrote, sending his letter (with
subtle cunning) from a village in Suffolk only a few miles from
Sir Sidney's boyhood home. He calculated that this might arouse
the interest of Sir Sidney, whom he knew to be cruelly badgered
with letters from enthusiasts; and fortune turned in his favour,
granting him numerous ecstatic visits to Sir Sidney and Lady
Colvin and much unwarranted generosity. But, since our mind has
been turned in this direction by Mrs. Sanchez's book, it might be
appropriate to add that one of the most thrilling moments in the
crusade was a season of April days spent beside the green and
stripling Loing, in the forest of Fontainebleau region, visiting
those lovely French villages where R. L. S. roamed as a young
man, crowned by an afternoon at Grez. One remembers the old gray
bridge across the eddying water, and the door of the inn where
the young pilgrim lingered, trying to visualize scenes of
thirty-five years before.

It is not mere idolatry when the hearts of the young are haunted
by such spells. There was some real divinity behind the
enchantment, some marvellous essence that made all roads Tusitala
trod the Road of Loving Hearts. In these matters we would trust
the simple Samoans to come nearer the truth than our cynic friend
in Greenwich Village. The magic of that great name abides
unimpaired.



THE FIRST COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS

(_Delivered to Cain and Abel, the first graduating class of the
Garden of Eden Normal School._)

[Illustration]


My young friends--It is a privilege to be permitted to address you this
morning, for I am convinced that never in the world's history did the
age beckon with so eager a gesture to the young men on the threshold of
active life. Never indeed in the past, and certainly never in the
future, was there or will there be a time more deeply fraught with
significance. And as I gaze upon your keen faces it seems almost as
though the world had amassed all the problems that now confront us
merely in order to give you tasks worthy of your prowess.

The world, I think I may safely say, is smaller now than ever before.
The recent invention of young women, something quite new in the way of
a social problem, has introduced a hitherto undreamed-of complexity into
human affairs. The extreme rapidity with which ideas and thoughts now
circulate, due to the new invention of speech, makes it probable that
what is said in Eden to-day will be known in the land of Nod within a
year. The greatest need is plainly for big-visioned and purposeful men,
efficient men, men with forward-looking minds. I hope you will pattern
after your admirable father in this respect; he truly was a
forward-looking man, for he had nothing to look back on.

You are aware, however, that your father has had serious problems to
deal with, and it is well that you should consider those problems in the
light of the experiences you are about to face. One of his most
perplexing difficulties would never have come upon him if he had not
fallen into a deep sleep. I counsel you, therefore, be wary not to
overslumber. The prizes of life always come to those who press
resolutely on, undaunted by fatigue and discouragement. Another of your
father's failings was probably due to the fact that he was never a small
boy and thus had no chance to work the deviltry out of his system. You
yourselves have been abundantly blessed in this regard. I think I may
say that here, in our Normal Academy, you have had an almost ideal
playground to work off those boyish high spirits, to perpetrate those
mischievous pranks that the world expects of its young. Remember that
you are now going out into the mature work of life, where you will
encounter serious problems.

As you wend your way from these accustomed shades into the full glare of
public life you will do so, I hope, with the consciousness that the eyes
of the world are upon you. The sphere of activity in which you may find
yourselves called upon to perform may be restricted, but you will
remember that not failure but low aim is base. You will hold a just
balance between the conflicting tendencies of radicalism and
conservatism. You will endeavour to secure for labour its due share in
the profits of labour. You will not be forgetful that all government
depends in the last resort on the consent of the governed. These catch
words in the full flush of your youth you may be inclined to dismiss as
truisms, but I assure you that 10,000 years from now men will be
uttering them with the same air of discovery.

It is my great pleasure to confer upon you both the degree of bachelor
of arts and to pray that you may never bring discredit upon your alma
mater.



THE DOWNFALL OF GEORGE SNIPE


George Snipe was an ardent book-lover, and sat in the smoking car
in a state of suspended ecstasy. He had been invited out to
Mandrake Park to visit the library of Mr. Genial Girth, the
well-known collector of rare autographed books. Devoted amateur
of literature as he was, George's humble career rarely brought
him into contact with bookish treasures, and a tremulous
excitement swam through his brain as he thought of the glories he
was about to see. In his devout meditation the train carried him
a station beyond his alighting place, and he ran frantically back
through the well-groomed suburban countryside in order to reach
Mr. Girth's home on time.

They went through the library together. Mr. Girth displayed all
his fascinating prizes with generous good nature, and George grew
excited. The palms of his hands were clammy with agitation. All
round the room, encased in scarlet slip-covers of tooled morocco,
on fireproof shelves, were the priceless booty of the collector.
Here was Charles Lamb's "Essays of Elia," inscribed by the author
to the woman he loved. Here was a copy of "Paradise Lost,"
signed by John Milton. Here was a "Hamlet" given by Shakespeare
to Bacon with the inscription, "Dear Frank, don't you wish you
could have written something like this?" Here was the unpublished
manuscript of a story by Robert Louis Stevenson. Here was a note
written by Doctor Johnson to the landlord of the Cheshire Cheese,
refusing to pay a bill and accusing the tavern-keeper of
profiteering. Here were volumes autographed by Goldsmith, Keats,
Shelley, Poe, Byron, DeFoe, Swift, Dickens, Thackeray, and all
the other great figures of modern literature.

Poor George's agitation became painful. His head buzzed as he
surveyed the faded signatures of all these men who had become the
living figures of his day-dreams. His eye rolled wildly in its
orbit. Just then Mr. Girth was called out of the room, and left
George alone among the treasures.

Just at what instant the mania seized him we shall never know.
There were a pen and an inkpot on the table, and the frenzied
lover of books dipped the quill deep in the dark blue fluid. He
ran eagerly to the shelves. The first volume he saw was a copy of
"Lorna Doone." In it he wrote "Affectionately yours, R. D.
Blackmore." Then came Longfellow's poems. He scrawled "With deep
esteem, Henry W. Longfellow" on the flyleaf. Then three volumes
of Macaulay's "History of England." In the first he jotted "I
have always wanted you to have these admirable books, T. B. M."
In "The Mill on the Floss" he wrote "This comes to you still warm
from the press, George Eliot." The next book happened to be a
copy of Edgar Guest's poems. In this he inscribed "You are the
host I love the best, This is my boast, Yours, Edgar Guest." In a
copy of Browning's Poems he wrote "To my dear and only wife,
Elizabeth, from her devoted Robert." In a pamphlet reprint of the
Gettysburg Speech he penned "This is straight stuff, A. Lincoln."
But perhaps his most triumphant exploit was signing a copy of the
Rubaiyat thus: "This book is given to the Anti-Saloon League of
Naishapur by that thorn in their side, O. Khayyam."

By the time the ambulance reached Mr. Girth's home George was
completely beyond control. He was taken away screaming because he
had not had a chance to autograph a copy of the "Songs of
Solomon."



MEDITATIONS OF A BOOKSELLER

(Roger Mifflin _loquitur_)

[Illustration]


I had a pleasant adventure to-day. A free verse poet came in to see me,
wanted me to buy some copies of "The Pagan Anthology." I looked over the
book, to which he himself had contributed some pieces. I advised him to
read Tennyson. I wish you could have seen his face.

If you want to see a really good anthology (I said) have a look at
Pearsall Smith's "Treasury of English Prose," just out. The only thing
that surprises me is that Mr. Smith didn't include some free verse in
it. The best thing about free verse is that it is often awfully good
prose.

It's a superb clear night: a milky pallor washed in the blue: a white
moon overhead: stars rare but brilliant, one in the south twinkles and
flutters like a tiny flower stirred by faint air. The wind is "a cordial
of incredible virtue" (Emerson)--sharp and chill, but with a milder
tincture. To-day, though brisk and snell on the streets, the sunshine
had a lively vigour, a generous quality, a promissory note of the
equinox. I felt it from first rising this morning--the old demiurge at
work! As I sat in the bathtub (when a man is fifty he may be pardoned
for taking a warm bath on winter mornings) my mind fell upon the desire
of wandering: it occurred to me that a spread of legs in the vital air
would be richly repaid. The windows called me: as soon as shirt and
trousers were on, I was at the sill peering out over Gissing Street.
Later, even through closed panes, the chink of milk bottles on the
pavement below seemed to rise with a clearer, merrier note. Setting out
for some tobacco about 8:30, I stopped to study the ice-man's great
blocks of silvery translucence, lying along the curb by a big apartment
house. "Artificial" ice, I suppose: it was interesting to see, in the
meridian of each cake, a kind of silvery fracture or membrane, with the
grain of air-bubbles tending outward therefrom--showing, no doubt, if
one knew the mechanics of refrigeration, just how the freezing
proceeded. Even in so humble a thing as a block of ice are these
harmonic and lovely patterns, the seal of Nature's craft, inscrutable,
inimitable. I might have made a point of this in talking to that free
verse poet. I'm glad I didn't, however: he would have had some tedious
reply, convincing to himself. That's the trouble with replies: they are
always convincing to the replier. As a friend of mine used to say, one
good taciturn deserves another.

I was thinking, as I took a parcel of laundry up to the Chinaman on
McFee Street just now, it would be interesting to write a book dealing
solely, candidly, exactly, and fully with the events, emotions, and
thoughts of just one day in a man's life. If one could do that, in a way
to carry conviction, assent, and reality, to convey to the reader's
senses a recognition of genuine actual human _being_, one might claim to
be a true artist.

I have found an admirable book for reading in bed--this little anthology
of prose, collected by Pearsall Smith. He knows what good prose is,
having written some of the daintiest bits of our time in his "Trivia," a
book with which I occasionally delight a truly discerning customer. What
a fascination there is in good prose--"the cool element of prose" as
Milton calls it--a sort of fluid happiness of the mind, unshaken by the
violent pangs of great poetry. I am not subtle enough to describe it,
but in the steadily cumulating satisfaction of first-class prose there
seems to be something that speaks direct to the brain, unmarred by the
claims of the senses, the emotions. I meditate much, ignorantly and
fumblingly, on the modes and purposes of writing. It is so
simple--"Fool!" said my Muse to me, "look in thy heart and write!"--all
that is needful is to tell what happens; and yet how hard it is to
summon up that necessary candor. Every time I read great work I see the
confirmation of what I grope for. How vivid, straight, and cleanly it
seems when done: merely the outward utterance of "what the mind at home,
in the spacious circuits of her musing, hath liberty to propose to
herself." Let a man's mind depart from his audience; let him have no
concern whether to shock or to please. Let him carry no consideration
save to utter, with unsparing fidelity, what passes in his own spirit.
One can trust the brain to do its part. All that is needed is honourable
frankness: not to be ashamed to open our hearts, to speak our privy
weakness, our inward exulting. Then the pain and perplexity, or the
childish satisfactions, of our daily life are the true material of the
writer's art, and that which is sown in weakness may be raised in power.
Curious indeed that in this life, brief and precariously enjoyed, men
should so set their hearts on building a permanence in words: something
to stand, in the lovely stability of ink and leaden types, as our speech
out of silence to those who follow on. Indefensible absurdity, and yet
the secret and impassioned dream of those who write!

I was about to say that, for the writing of anything truly durable, the
first requisite is plenty of silence. Then I recall Dr. Johnson's
preface to his Dictionary--"written not in the soft obscurities of
retirement, or under the shelter of academic bowers, but amid
inconvenience and distraction, in sickness and in sorrow."



IF BUYING A MEAL WERE LIKE BUYING A HOUSE


This Indenture

between A. B., an innkeeper, organized and existing under the
laws of good cooking, party of the first part, and C. D., party
of the second part, witnesseth:

That the said party of the first part, for and in consideration
of the sum of $1.50, lawful money of the United States, paid by
the said party of the second part, does hereby grant and release
unto the said C. D., and his heirs, administrators, and assigns
forever,

All that certain group, parcels, or allotments of food, viands,
or victuals, situate or to be spread, served, and garnished upon
the premises of said A. B., shown and known and commonly designed
as one square meal, table d'hôte, together with the drinking
water, napkin, ash tray, finger-bowl and hat-and-coat-hanging
privileges or easements appurtenant thereto,

And Together With the rights, privileges, and opportunities (as
an easement additionally appurtenant to the meal above nominated)
to partake, eat, enjoy, and be nourished upon said victuals, and
to call for extra pats, parcels, or portions of butter.

Subject to the following restrictions, to wit: That neither the
party of the second part, nor his heirs, executors, or assigns,
will feast immoderately upon onions, to the confusion of his
neighbours; nor will the said C. D. or his guests smoke any form
of tobacco other than cigars and cigarettes, the instrument
commonly known as a pipe being offensive to the head waiter (a
man of delicate nurture); nor will said party of the second part
covet, retain, nor seek to remove any knives, forks, spoons, or
other tableware whatsoever; nor is anything said or implied or
otherwise intimated in this covenant to be construed as
permitting the party of the second part to carry on loud
laughter, song, carnival, nor social uproar; nor unnecessarily,
further than is tactful for the procurement of expeditious
attention, to endear himself to or otherwise cajole, compliment,
and ingratiate the waitress.

And Furthermore, that title to said Meal does not pass until the
party of the second part has conveyed, of his mansuetude and
proper charity, a gratuity, fee, honorarium, lagniappe,
pourboire, easement or tip of not less than 15 per cent of the
price of said Meal; which easement, while customarily spoken of
as a free-will grant or gratuity, is to be constructively
regarded as an entail and a necessary encumbrance upon said Meal.

And the said party of the first part covenants with the said
party of the second part as follows: That the said C. D. is
seized of the said Meal in fee simple, and shall quietly enjoy
said Meal subject to the covenants and restrictions and
encumbrances hereinbefore set out, subject to the good pleasure
of the Head Waiter.

In Witness Whereof these presents are signed,

(LOC. SIG.)



ADVENTURES IN HIGH FINANCE

[Illustration]


There is no way in which one can so surely arouse the suspicions of
bankers as by trying to put some money in their hands. We went round to a
near-by bank hoping to open an account. As we had formerly dealt with an
uptown branch of the same institution, and as the cheque we wanted to
deposit bore the name of a quite well-known firm, we thought all would be
easy. But no; it seemed that there was no convincing way to identify
ourself. Hopefully we pulled out a stack of letters, but these were
waved aside. We began to feel more and more as though we had come with
some sinister intent. We started to light our pipe, and then it occurred
to us that perhaps that would be regarded as the gesture of a hardened
cracksman, seeking to appear at his ease. We wondered if, in all our
motions, we were betraying the suspicious conduct of the professional
embezzler. Perhaps the courteous banker was putting us through some
Freudian third degree ... in these days when the workings of the
unconscious are so shrewdly canvassed, was there anything abominable in
the cellar of our soul which we were giving away without realizing ...
had we not thought to ourself, as we entered the door, well, this is a
fairly decent cheque to start an account with, but we won't keep our
balance anywhere near that figure ... perhaps our Freudian banker had
spotted that thought and was sending for a psychological patrol wagon ...
well, how _could_ we identify ourself? Did we know any one who had an
account in that branch? No.

We thought of a friend of ours who banked at another branch of this
bank, not far away. The banker called him up and whispered strangely
over the phone. We were asked to take off our hat. Apparently our friend
was describing us. We hoped that he was saying "stout" rather than
"fat." But it seemed that the corroboration of our friend only
increased our host's precaution. Perhaps he thought it was a carefully
worked-out con game, in which our friend was a confederate. We signed
our name several times, on little cards, with a desperate attempt to
appear unconcerned. In spite of our best efforts, we could not help
thinking that each time we wrote it we must be looking as though we were
trying to remember how we had written it the last time. Still the banker
hesitated. Then he called up our friend again. He asked him if he would
know our voice over the phone. Our friend said he would. We spoke to our
friend, with whom we had eaten lunch a few minutes before. He asked, to
identify us, what we had had for lunch. Horrible instant! For a moment
we could not remember. The eyes of the banker and his assistant were
glittering upon us. Then we spoke glibly enough. "An oyster patty," we
said; "two cups of tea, and a rice pudding which we asked for cold, but
which was given us hot."

Our friend asserted, to the banker, that we were undeniably us, and
indeed the homely particularity of the luncheon items had already made
incision in his hardened bosom. He smiled radiantly at us and gave us a
cheque book. Then he told us we couldn't draw against our account until
the original cheque had passed through the Clearing House, and sent a
youth back to the office with us so that we could be unmistakably
identified.

As we left the banker's office someone else was ushered in. "Here's
another gentleman to open an account," said the assistant. "We hope he
knows what he had for lunch," we said to the banker.



ON VISITING BOOKSHOPS

[Illustration]


It Is a curious thing that so many people only go into a bookshop when
they happen to need some particular book. Do they never drop in for a
little innocent carouse and refreshment? There are some knightly souls
who even go so far as to make their visits to bookshops a kind of
chivalrous errantry at large. They go in not because they need any
certain volume, but because they feel that there may be some book that
needs them. Some wistful, little forgotten sheaf of loveliness, long
pining away on an upper shelf--why not ride up, fling her across your
charger (or your charge account), and gallop away. Be a little knightly,
you book-lovers!

The lack of intelligence with which people use bookshops is, one
supposes, no more flagrant than the lack of intelligence with which we
use all the rest of the machinery of civilization. In this age, and
particularly in this city, we haven't time to be intelligent.

A queer thing about books, if you open your heart to them, is the
instant and irresistible way they follow you with their appeal. You know
at once, if you are clairvoyant in these matters (libre-voyant, one
might say), when you have met your book. You may dally and evade, you
may go on about your affairs, but the paragraph of prose your eye fell
upon, or the snatch of verses, or perhaps only the spirit and flavour of
the volume, more divined than reasonably noted, will follow you. A few
lines glimpsed on a page may alter your whole trend of thought for the
day, reverse the currents of the mind, change the profile of the city.
The other evening, on a subway car, we were reading Walter de la Mare's
interesting little essay about Rupert Brooke. His discussion of
children, their dreaming ways, their exalted simplicity and absorption,
changed the whole tenor of our voyage by some magical chemistry of
thought. It was no longer a wild, barbaric struggle with our fellowmen,
but a venture of faith and recompense, taking us home to the bedtime of
a child.

The moment when one meets a book and knows, beyond shadow of doubt, that
that book must be his--not necessarily now, but some time--is among the
happiest excitements of the spirit. An indescribable virtue effuses from
some books. One can feel the radiations of an honest book long before
one sees it, if one has a sensitive pulse for such affairs. Its honour
and truth will speak through the advertising. Its mind and heart will
cry out even underneath the extravagance of jacket-blurbings. Some
shrewd soul, who understands books, remarked some time ago on the
editorial page of the _Sun's_ book review that no superlative on a
jacket had ever done the book an atom of good. He was right, as far as
the true bookster is concerned. We choose our dinner not by the
wrappers, but by the veining and gristle of the meat within. The other
day, prowling about a bookshop, we came upon two paper-bound copies of a
little book of poems by Alice Meynell. They had been there for at least
two years. We had seen them before, a year or more ago, but had not
looked into them fearing to be tempted. This time we ventured. We came
upon two poems--"To O, Of Her Dark Eyes," and "A Wind of Clear Weather
in England." The book was ours--or rather, we were its, though we did
not yield at once. We came back the next day and got it. We are still
wondering how a book like that could stay in the shop so long. Once we
had it, the day was different. The sky was sluiced with a clearer blue,
air and sunlight blended for a keener intake of the lungs, faces seen
along the street moved us with a livelier shock of interest and
surprise. The wind that moved over Sussex and blew Mrs. Meynell's heart
into her lines was still flowing across the ribs and ledges of our
distant scene.

There is no mistaking a real book when one meets it. It is like falling
in love, and like that colossal adventure it is an experience of great
social import. Even as the tranced swain, the book-lover yearns to tell
others of his bliss. He writes letters about it, adds it to the
postscript of all manner of communications, intrudes it into telephone
messages, and insists on his friends writing down the title of the find.
Like the simple-hearted betrothed, once certain of his conquest, "I want
you to love her, too!" It is a jealous passion also. He feels a little
indignant if he finds that any one else has discovered the book, too. He
sees an enthusiastic review--very likely in _The New Republic_--and
says, with great scorn, "I read the book three months ago." There are
even some perversions of passion by which a book-lover loses much of his
affection for his pet if he sees it too highly commended by some rival
critic.

This sharp ecstasy of discovering books for one's self is not always
widespread. There are many who, for one reason or another, prefer to
have their books found out for them. But for the complete zealot nothing
transcends the zest of pioneering for himself. And therefore working for
a publisher is, to a certain type of mind, a never-failing fascination.
As H. M. Tomlinson says in "Old Junk," that fascinating collection of
sensitive and beautifully poised sketches which came to us recently with
a shock of thrilling delight:

     To come upon a craft rigged so, though at her moorings and with
     sails furled, her slender poles upspringing from the bright plane
     of a brimming harbour, is to me as rare and sensational a delight
     as the rediscovery, when idling with a book, of a favourite
     lyric.

To read just that passage, and the phrase _the bright plane of a
brimming harbour_, is one of those "rare and sensational
delights" that set the mind moving on lovely journeys of its own,
and mark off visits to a bookshop not as casual errands of
reason, but as necessary acts of devotion. We visit bookshops not
so often to buy any one special book, but rather to rediscover,
in the happier and more expressive words of others, our own
encumbered soul.



A DISCOVERY

[Illustration]


We are going to tell the truth. It has been on our mind for some
time. We are going to tell it exactly, without any balancing or
trimming or crimped edges. We are weary of talking about
trivialities and are going to come plump and plain to the
adventures of our own mind. These are real adventures, just as
real as the things we see. The green frog that took refuge on our
porch last night was no more real. Perhaps frogs don't care so
much for wet as they are supposed to, for when that excellent
thunderstorm came along and the ceiling of the night was sheeted
with lilac brightness, through which ran quivering threads of
naked fire (not just the soft, tame, flabby fire of the domestic
hearth, but the real core and marrow of flame, its hungry,
terrible, destroying self), our friend the frog came hopping up
on the porch where we stood, apparently to take shelter. How
brilliant was his black and silver eye when we picked him up! His
direct and honourable regard somehow made us feel ashamed, we
know not why. And yet we have plenty to be ashamed about--but how
did he know? He was still on the porch this morning. Equally real
was the catbird on the hedge as we came down toward the station.
She--we call her so, for there was unmistakable ladyhood in her
delicately tailored trimness--she bickered at us in a cheerful
way, on top of those bushes which were so loaded with the night's
rainfall that they shone a blurred cobweb gray in the lifting
light. Her eye was also dark and polished and lucid, like a bead
of ink. It also had the same effect of tribulation on our spirit.
Neither the catbird nor the frog, we said to ourself, would have
tormented their souls trying to "invent" something to write
about. They would have told what happened to them, and let it go
at that. So, as we walked along under an arcade of maple trees,
admiring the little green seed-biplanes brought down by the
thrash of the rain--they look rather as though they would make
good coathangers for fairies--we asked ourself why we could not
be as straightforward as the bird and the frog, and talk about
what was in our mind.

The most exciting thing that happened to us when we got to New
York last February was finding a book in a yellow wrapper. Its
title was "Old Junk," which appealed to us. The name of the
author was H. M. Tomlinson, which immediately became to us a name
of honour and great meaning. All day and every day intelligent
men find themselves surrounded by oceans of what is quaintly
called "reading matter." Most of it is turgid, lumpy, fuzzy in
texture, squalid in intellect. The rewards of the literary
world--that is, the tangible, potable, spendable rewards--go
mostly to the cheapjack and the mountebank. And yet here was a
man who in every paragraph spoke to the keenest intellectual
sense--who, ten times a page, enchanted the reader with the
surprising and delicious pang given by the critically chosen
word. We sat up late at night reading that book, marvelling at
our good fortune. We wanted to cry aloud (to such as cared to
understand), "Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for here is born a
man who knows how to write!" In our exuberance we seized a pen
and wrote in the stern of our copy: "Here speaks the Lord God of
prose; here is the clear eye, the ironic mind, the compassionate
heart; the thrilling honesty and (apparent) simplicity of great
work." Then we set about making the book known to our friends. We
propelled them into bookshops and made them buy it. We took our
own copy down to William McFee on S.S. _Turrialba_ and a glad
heart was ours when he, too, said it was "the real thing." This
is a small matter, you say? When the discovery of an honest pen
becomes a small matter life will lose something of its savour.
Those who understand will understand; let the others spend their
time in the smoker playing pinochle. Those who care about these
things can get the book for themselves.

Of Mr. Tomlinson in person: he is a London newspaperman, we
understand, and now on the staff of the London _Nation_. (Trust
Mr. Massingham, the editor of that journal, to know an honest
writer when he sees him.) Mr. Tomlinson says of himself:

     My life is like my portrait. It won't bear investigation. I am
     not conscious of having done anything that would interest either
     a policeman or the young lady of the kind who dotes on Daddy Long
     Legs; worse luck. It's about time I got down to business and did
     something interesting either to one or the other. That is why it
     won't bear investigation, this record of mine. I am about as
     entertaining as one of the crowd coming out of the factory gates
     with his full dinner pail. All my adventures have been no more
     than keeping that pail moderately full. I've been doing that
     since I was twelve, in all sorts of ways. I was an office boy and
     a clerk among London's ships, in the last days of the clippers.
     And I am forced to recall some of the things--such as bookkeeping
     in a jam factory and stoking on a tramp steamer--I can understand
     why I and my fellows, without wanting to, drifted about in
     indecision till we drifted into war and drifted into peace. And
     of course, I've been a journalist. I am still; and so have seen
     much of Africa, America, and Europe, without knowing exactly why.
     I was in France in 1914--the August, too, of that year, and woke
     up from that nightmare in 1917, after the Vimy Ridge attack, when
     I returned to England to sit with my wife and children in a
     cellar whenever it was a fine night and listened to the guns and
     bombs. God, who knows all, might make something of this sort of
     inconsequential drift of one day into the next, but I give it up.

But now we pass to the phase of the matter that puzzles us. How
is it that there are some books which can never have abiding life
until they perish and are born again? We have noticed it so
often. There is a book of a certain sort to which this process
seems inevitable. One need only mention Leonard Merrick or Samuel
Butler as examples. The book, we will suppose, has some peculiar
subtlety or flavour of appeal. (We are thinking at the moment of
William McFee's "Letters From an Ocean Tramp.") It is published
and falls dead. Later on--usually about ten years later--it is
taken up with vigour by some other publisher, the stone is rolled
away from the sepulchre, and it begins to move among its destined
lovers.

This remark is caused by our delighted discovery of a previous
book by the author of "Old Junk." "The Sea and the Jungle" is the
title of it, the tale of a voyage on the tramp steamer _Capella_,
from Swansea to Para in the Brazils, and thence 2,000 miles along
the forests of the Amazon and Madeira rivers. It is the kind of
book whose readers will never forget it; the kind of book that
happens to some happy writers once in a lifetime (and to many
never at all) when the moving hand seems gloriously in gear with
the tremulous and busy mind, and all the spinning earth stands
hearkeningly still waiting for the perfect expression of the
thought. It is the work of a hand trained in laborious task-work
and then set magnificently free, for a few blessed months, under
no burden save that of putting its captaining spirit truthfully
on paper. And this book--in which there is a sea passage that not
even Mr. Conrad has ever bettered--this book, which makes the
utmost self-satisfied heroics of the Prominent Writers of our
market place shrivel uncomfortably in remembrance--this book, we
repeat, though published in this country in 1913, has been long
out of print; and the copy which we were lucky enough to lay hand
on through the courtesy of the State Librarian of Pennsylvania
had not previously been borrowed since November 18, 1913. Someone
asks us if this man can really write. Let us choose a paragraph
for example. This deals with the first day at sea of the tramp
steamer _Capella_:

     It was December, but by luck we found a halcyon morning which had
     got lost in the year's procession. It was a Sunday morning, and
     it had not been ashore. It was still virgin, bearing a vestal
     light. It had not been soiled yet by any suspicion of this
     trampled planet, this muddy star, which its innocent and tenuous
     rays had discovered in the region of night. I thought it still
     was regarding us as a lucky find there. Its light was tremulous,
     as if with joy and eagerness. I met this discovering morning as
     your ambassador while you still slept, and betrayed not, I hope,
     any grayness and bleared satiety of ours to its pure, frail, and
     lucid regard. That was the last good service I did before leaving
     you quite. I was glad to see how well your old earth did meet
     such a light, as though it had no difficulty in looking day in
     the face. The world was miraculously renewed. It rose, and
     received the newborn of Aurora in its arms. There were clouds of
     pearl above hills of chrysoprase. The sea ran in volatile flames.
     The shadows on the bright deck shot to and fro as we rolled. The
     breakfast bell rang not too soon. This was a right beginning.

The above is a paragraph that we have chosen from Mr. Tomlinson's
book almost at random. We could spend the whole afternoon (and a
happy afternoon it would be for us) copying out for you passages
from "The Sea and the Jungle" that would give you the extremity
of pleasure, O high-spirited reader! It is an odd thing, it is a
quaint thing, it is a thing that would seem inconceivable (were
we not tolerably acquainted with the vagaries of the reading
public) that a book of this sort should lie perdu on the shelves
of a few libraries. Yet one must not leap too heartily to the
wrong conclusion. The reading public is avid of good books, but
it does not hear about them. Now we would venture to say that we
know fifty people--nay, two hundred and fifty--who would never
have done thanking us if we could lay a copy of a book of this
sort in their hand. They would think it the greatest favour we
could do them if we could tell them where they could go and lay
down honest money and buy it. And we have to retort that it is
out of print, not procurable.[1] Is it the fault of publishers?
We do not think so--or not very often. For every publisher has
experience of this sort of thing--books that he knows to be of
extraordinary quality and fascination which simply lie like lead
in his stockroom, and people will not listen to what he says
about them. Whose fault is it, then? Heaven knows.

[1] Since this was written, a new edition has been published by
E. P. Dutton & Co.



SILAS ORRIN HOWES


There died in New York, on February 11, 1918, one who perhaps as
worthily as any man in any age represented the peculiar traits and
charms of the book-lover, a man whose personal loveliness was only
equalled by his unassuming modesty, a man who was an honour to the fine
old profession of bookselling.

There will be some who frequent Brentano's bookstore in New York who
will long remember the quiet little gentleman who held the post nearest
the front door, whose face lit with such a gentle and gracious smile
when he saw a friend approach, who endured with patience and courtesy
the thousand small annoyances that every salesman knows. There were
encounters with the bourgeois customer, there were the exhausting
fatigues of the rush season, there were the day-long calls on the
slender and none too robust frame. But through it all he kept the
perfect and unassuming grace of the high-born gentleman he was. An
old-fashioned courtesy and gallantry moved in his blood.

It was an honour to know Silas Orrin Howes, and some have been fortunate
to have disclosed to them the richness and simple bravery of that lover
of truth and beauty. The present writer was one of the least and latest
of these. Twice, during the last months of his life, it was my very good
fortune to spend an evening with him at his room on Lexington Avenue, to
drink the delicious coffee he brewed in his percolator given him by
William Marion Reedy, to mull with him over the remarkable scrap-books
he had compiled out of the richness of his varied reading, and to hear
him talk about books and life.

Silas Orrin Howes was born in Macon, Georgia, October 15, 1867. He
attended school in Macon and Atlanta, and then in Franklin, Indiana. He
never went to college.

When he was born, a passion for books was born with him. His niece tells
me that by the time he was twenty-one he had collected a considerable
library. He began life as a newspaper man, on the Macon _Telegraph_.
About the age of twenty-four he went to Galveston where he was first a
copy-reader, and then for seven years telegraph editor of the Galveston
_News_.

I do not know all the details of his life in Galveston, where he lived
for about twenty years. He told me that at the time of the disastrous
storm and flood he was working in a drug store near the Gulf front. He
gave me a thrilling description of the night he spent standing on the
prescription counter with the water swirling about his waist. He slept
in a little room at the back of the store, where he had a shelf of books
which were particularly dear to him. Among them was a volume of Henley's
poems. When the flood subsided all the books were gone, but the next day
as he was looking over the wreckage of neighbouring houses he found his
Henley washed up on a doorstep--covered with slime and filth but still
intact. He sent it to Brentano's in New York to be rebound in vellum,
instructing them not to clean it in any way. He wrote to Henley about
the incident, who sent him a very friendly autographed card which he
pasted in the volume. That was one of the books which he held most dear,
and rightly.

I do not know just when he came to New York; about 1910, I believe. He
took a position as salesman at Brentano's. After a couple of years there
he became anxious to try the book business on his own account. He and
his nephew opened a shop in San Antonio. Neither of them had much real
business experience. Certainly Howes himself was far too devoted a
book-lover to be a good business man! After a few months the venture
ended in failure, and all the personal library which he had collected
through patient years was swallowed up in the disaster. After this he
returned to Brentano's, where he remained until his death. About a year
before his death he was run over by a taxicab, which shook his nerves a
great deal.

At some time during his career he came into intimate friendly contact
with Ambrose Bierce, and used to tell many entertaining anecdotes about
that erratic venturer in letters. He edited one of Bierce's volumes,
adding a pleasant and scholarly little introduction. He was an
occasional contributor to _Reedy's Mirror_, where he enjoyed indulging
in his original vein of satire and shrewd comment. He was a great lover
of quaint and exotic restaurants, and was particularly fond of the
Turkish café, the Constantinople, just off Madison Square. It was a
treat to go there with him, see him summon the waiter by clapping his
hands (in the eastern fashion), and enjoy the strangely compounded
dishes of that queer menu. He had sampled every Bulgar, Turkish, Balkan,
French, and Scandinavian restaurant on Lexington Avenue. His taste in
unusual and savoury dishes was as characteristic as his love for the
finer flavours of literature. I remember last November I elicited from
him that he had never tasted gooseberry jam, and had a jolly time
hunting for a jar, which I found at last at Park and Tilford's, although
the sales-girl protested there was no such thing. I took it to him and
made him promise to eat it at his breakfasts.

He had the true passions of the book-lover, which are not allotted to
many. He had read hungrily, enjoying chiefly those magical draughts of
prose which linger in the mind: Bacon, Sir Thomas Browne, Pater,
Thoreau, Conrad. He was much of a recluse, a little saddened and
sharpened perhaps by some of his experiences; and he loved, above all,
those writers who can present truth with a faint tang of acid flavour,
the gooseberry jam of literature as it were. One of my last
satisfactions was to convert him (in some measure) to an enthusiasm for
Pearsall Smith's "Trivia."

As one looks back at that quiet, honourable life, one is aware of a
high, noble spirit shining through it: a spirit that sought but little
for itself, welcomed love and comradeship that came its way, and was
content with a modest round of routine duty because it afforded inner
contact with what was beautiful and true. One remembers an innate
gentleness, and a loyalty to a high and chivalrous ideal.

Such a life might be a lesson, if anything could, to the bumptious and
"efficient" and smug. Time after time I have watched him serving some
furred and jewelled customer who was not fit to exchange words with him;
I have seen him jostled in a crowded aisle by some parvenu ignoramus who
knew not that this quiet little man was one of the immortal spirits of
gentleness and breeding who associate in quiet hours with the unburied
dead of English letters. That corner of the store, near the front door,
can never be the same.

Such a life could only fittingly be described by the gentle, inseeing
pen of an E. V. Lucas.

My greatest regret and disappointment, when I heard of his sudden
death, was that he would never know of a little tribute I had paid him
in a forthcoming book. I had been saving it as a surprise for him, for I
knew it would please him. And now he will never know.

February, 1918.



JOYCE KILMER

[Illustration]

I


I wonder if there is any other country where the death of a young
poet is double-column front-page news?

And if poets were able to proofread their own obits, I wonder if
any two lines would have given Joyce Kilmer more honest pride
than these:

JOYCE KILMER, POET,
IS KILLED IN ACTION

which gave many hearts a pang when they picked up the newspaper
last Sunday morning.

Joyce Kilmer died as he lived--"in action." He found life
intensely amusing, unspeakably interesting; his energy was
unlimited, his courage stout. He attacked life at all points,
rapidly gathered its complexities about him, and the more
intricate it became the more zestful he found it. Nothing
bewildered him, nothing terrified. By the time he was thirty he
had attained an almost unique position in literary circles. He
lectured on poetry, he interviewed famous men of letters, he was
poet, editor, essayist, critic, anthologist. He was endlessly
active, full of delightful mirth and a thousand schemes for
outwitting the devil of necessity that hunts all brainworkers.
Nothing could quench him. He was ready to turn out a poem, an
essay, a critical article, a lecture, at a few minutes' notice.
He had been along all the pavements of Grub Street, perhaps the
most exciting place of breadwinning known to the civilized man.
From his beginning as a sales clerk in a New York bookstore
(where, so the tale goes, by misreading the price cipher he sold
a $150 volume for $1.50) down to the time when he was run over by
an Erie train and dictated his weekly article for the New York
_Times_ in hospital with three broken ribs, no difficulties or
perplexities daunted him.

But beneath this whirling activity which amused and amazed his
friends there lay a deeper and quieter vein which was rich in its
own passion. It is not becoming to prate of what lies in other
men's souls; we all have our secrecies and sanctuaries, rarely
acknowledged even to ourselves. But no one can read Joyce
Kilmer's poems without grasping his vigorous idealism, his keen
sense of beauty, his devout and simple religion, his clutch on
the preciousness of common things. He loved the precarious
bustle on Grub Street; he was of that adventurous, buoyant stuff
that rejects hum-drum security and a pelfed and padded life. He
always insisted that America is the very shrine and fountain of
poetry, and this country (which is indeed pathetically eager to
take poets to its bosom) stirred his vivid imagination. The
romance of the commuter's train and the suburban street, of the
delicatessen shop and the circus and the snowman in the
yard--these were the familiar themes where he was rich and
felicitous. Many a commuter will remember his beautiful poem "The
12:45," bespeaking the thrill we have all felt in the shabby
midnight train that takes us home, yearning and weary, to the
well-beloved hearth:

    What love commands, the train fulfills
    And beautiful upon the hills
    Are these our feet of burnished steel.
    Subtly and certainly, I feel
    That Glen Rock welcomes us to her.
    And silent Ridgewood seems to stir
    And smile, because she knows the train
    Has brought her children back again.
    We carry people home--and so
    God speeds us, wheresoe'er we go.
    The midnight train is slow and old,
    But of it let this thing be told,
    To its high honour be it said,
    It carries weary folk to bed.

To a man such as this, whose whole fervent and busy adventure was lit
within by the lamplight and firelight of domestic passion, the war, with
its broken homes and defiled sanctities, came as a personal affront.
Both to his craving for the glamour of such a colossal drama, and to his
sense of what was most worshipful in human life, the call was
irresistible. Counsels of prudence and comfort were as nothing; the
heart-shaking poetry of this nation's entry into an utterly unselfish
war burned away all barriers. His life had been a fury of writing, but
those who thought he had entered the war merely to make journalism about
it were mistaken. Only a few weeks before his death he wrote:

     To tell the truth, I am not interested in writing nowadays,
     except in so far as writing is the expression of something
     beautiful. And I see daily and nightly the expression of beauty
     in action instead of words, and I find it more satisfactory. I am
     a sergeant in the regimental intelligence section--the most
     fascinating work possible--more thrills in it than in any other
     branch, except, possibly, aviation. Wonderful life! But I don't
     know what I'll be able to do in civilian life--unless I become a
     fireman!

As journalist and lecturer Kilmer was copious and enthusiastic rather
than deep. He found--a good deal to his own secret mirth--women's clubs
and poetry societies sitting earnestly at his feet, expectant to hear
ultimate truth on deep matters. His humour prompted him to give them
the ultimate truth they craved. If his critical judgments were not
always heavily documented or long pondered, they were entertaining and
pleasantly put. The earnest world of literary societies and blue-hosed
salons lay about his feet; he flashed in it merrily, chuckling inwardly
as he found hundreds of worthy people hanging breathless on his words. A
kind of Kilmer cult grew apace; he had his followers and his devotees. I
mention these things because he would have been the first to chuckle
over them. I do not think he would want to be remembered as having taken
all that sort of thing too seriously. It was all a delicious game--part
of the grand joke of living. Sometimes, among his friends, he would
begin to pontificate in his platform manner. Then he would recall
himself, and his characteristic grin would flood his face.

As a journalist, I say, he was copious; but as a poet his song was
always prompted by a genuine gush of emotion. "A poet is only a
glorified reporter," he used to say; he took as his favourite assignment
the happier precincts of the human heart. As he said of Belloc, a true
poet will never write to order--not even to his own order. He sang
because he heard life singing all about him. His three little books of
poems have always been dear to lovers of honest simplicity. And now
their words will be lit henceforward by an inner and tender
brightness--the memory of a gallant boy who flung himself finely
against the walls of life. Where they breached he broke through and
waved his sword laughing. Where they hurled him back he turned away,
laughing still.


II

Kilmer wrote from France, in answer to an inquiry as to his ideas about
poetry, "All that poetry can be expected to do is to give pleasure of a
noble sort to its readers." He might have said "pleasure or pain of a
noble sort."

It is both pleasure and pain, of a very noble sort, that the reader will
find in Robert Cortes Holliday's memoir, which introduces the two
volumes of Kilmer's poems, essays, and letters. The ultimate and
eloquent tribute to Kilmer's rich, brave, and jocund personality is that
it has raised up so moving a testament of friendship. Mr. Holliday's
lively and tender essay is worthy to stand among the great memorials of
brotherly affection that have enriched our speech. To say that Kilmer
was not a Keats is not to say that the friendship that irradiates Mr.
Holliday's memoir was less lovely than that of Keats and Severn, for
instance. The beauty of any human intercourse is not measured by the
plane on which it moves.

Pleasure and pain of a noble sort are woven in every fibre of this
sparkling casting-up of the blithe years. Pleasure indeed of the
fullest, for the chronicle abounds in the surcharged hilarity and
affectionate humour that we have grown to expect in any matters
connected with Joyce Kilmer. The biographer dwells with loving and
smiling particularity on the elvish phases of the young knight-errant.
It is by the very likeness of his tender and glowing portrait that we
find pleasure overflowing into pain--into a wincing recognition of
destiny's unriddled ways with men. This memory was written out of a full
heart, with the poignance that lies in every backward human gaze. It is
only in the backward look that the landscape's contours lie revealed in
their true form and perspective. It is only when we have lost what was
most dear that we know fully what it meant. That is Fate's way with us:
it cannot be amended.

There will be no need for the most querulous appraiser to find fault
with Mr. Holliday on the score of over-eulogy. He does not try to push
sound carpentry or ready wit into genius. Fortune and his own impetuous
onslaught upon life cast Kilmer into the rôle of hack journalist: he
would have claimed no other title. Yet he adorned Grub Street (that most
fascinating of all thorny ways) with gestures and music of his own. Out
of his glowing and busy brain he drew matter that was never dull, never
bitter or petty or slovenly. In the fervent attack and counter-attack,
shock and counter-shock of his strenuous days he never forgot his
secret loyalty to fine craftsmanship. He kept half a dozen brightly
coloured balls spinning in air at all times--verses, essays, reviews,
lectures, introductions, interviews, anthologies, and what-not; yet each
of these was deftly done. When he went to France and his days of hack
work were over, when the necessities of life no longer threatened him,
the journalistic habit fell away. It was never more than a garment, worn
gracefully, but still only what the tailors call a business suit.

In France, Kilmer wrote but a handful of pieces intended for
publication, but at least one of them--the prose sketch "Holy
Ireland"--showed his essential fibre. The comparative silence of his pen
when he found himself face to face with war was a true expression. It
bespoke the decent idealism that underlay the combats of a journalist
wringing a living out of the tissues of a busy brain. The tender humour
and quaint austerity of his homeward letters exhibit the man at his
inmost. What could better the imaginative genius of the phrase in which
he speaks of friendship developed by common dangers and hardships as "a
fine, hearty, roaring, mirthful sort of thing, like an open fire of
whole pine trees in a giant's castle?"

The memoir and Kilmer's own letters admit us to see something of the
spiritual phases of this man's life, whose soul found "happiness and
quiet kind" in the Roman Catholic faith. The most secret strengths and
weaknesses that govern men's lives are strangely unknown to many of
their intimates: one wonders how many of Kilmer's associates on the
_Times_ staff knew of his habit of stopping daily at the Church of the
Holy Innocents, near the newspaper office, to pray. It was the sorrow of
personal affliction that brought Kilmer to the Catholic Church. Shortly
after being received into that communion he wrote:

     Just off Broadway on the way from the Hudson Tube Station to the
     Times Building, there is a church called the Church of the Holy
     Innocents. Since it is in the heart of the Tenderloin, this name
     is strangely appropriate--for there surely is need of youth and
     innocence. Well, every morning for months I stopped on my way to
     the office and prayed in this church for faith. When faith did
     come, it came, I think, by way of my little paralyzed daughter.
     Her lifeless hands led me; I think her tiny feet still know
     beautiful paths.

Mr. Holliday does well to point out that Kilmer was almost unique in
this country as a representative of the Bellocian School of Catholic
journalism, in which piety and mirth dwell so comfortably together;
though he might have mentioned T. A. Daly as an older and subtler master
of devout merriment, dipping in his own inkwell rather than in any
imported bottles. It is to Belloc, of course, and to Gilbert
Chesterton, that one must go to learn the secret of Kilmer's literary
manner. Yet, as Holliday affirms, the similarity is due as much to an
affinity of mind with these Englishmen as to any eagerness to imitate.
Kilmer was like them in being essentially a humorist. One glance at his
face, with its glowing red-brown eyes (the colour of port wine), and the
twitching in-drawn corners of the mouth, gave the observer an impression
of benignant drollery. Mr. Holliday well says: "People have made very
creditable reputations as humorists who never wrote anything like as
humorous essays as those of Joyce Kilmer. They fairly reek with the joy
of life."

"He that lives by the pen shall perish by the pen," the biographer tells
us, quoting James Huneker. "For a sapling poet, within a few short years
and by the hard business of words, to attain to a secretary and a butler
and a family of, at length, four children, is a modern Arabian Nights
Tale." Aye, indeed! But Joyce Kilmer will have as genuine a claim on
remembrance by reason of his friends' love as in anything his own hand
penned. And what an encircling, almost paternal, gentleness there is in
the picture of the young poet as a salesman at Scribner's bookstore:

     His smile, never far away, when it came was winning, charming. It
     broke like spring sunshine, it was so fresh and warm and clear.
     And there was noticeable then in his eyes a light, a quiet glow,
     which marked him as a spirit not to be forgotten. So tenderly
     boyish was he in effect that his confrères among the book clerks
     accepted with difficulty the story that he was married. When it
     was told that he had a son they gasped their incredulity. And
     when one day this extraordinary elfin sprite remarked that at the
     time of his honeymoon he had had a beard they felt (I remember)
     that the world was without power to astonish them further.

And even more striking is what is implied in the narrative: that when
this "elfin sprite," this gently nurtured young man of bookish pursuits,
took up the art of war, he gloried in his association with a rip-roaring
regiment recruited mainly from hard-handed fellows of the type we may
call (with no atom of disrespect) roughnecks. Hardships and exertions
familiar to them were new to him, but he set himself to win their love
and respect, and did so. He was not content until he had found his way
into the most exhausting and hazardous branch of the whole job. He said,
again and again, that he would rather be a sergeant with the 69th than a
lieutenant with any other outfit. There was a heart of heroism in the
"elfin sprite." The same dashing insouciance that dictated the weekly
article for his paper when in hospital with three broken ribs after
being run down by a train was hardened and steeled in the sergeant who
nightly tore his uniform into ribbons by crawling out through the barbed
wire.

Laughter and comradeship and hearty meals clustered about Kilmer:
wherever he touched the grindstone of life there flew up a merry shower
of sparks. There is convincing testimony to the courage and beauty that
lay quiet at the heart of this singer who said that the poet is only a
glorified reporter, and wished he had written "Casey at the Bat."

Let us spare his memory the glib and customary dishonesty that says "He
died as he would have wished to." No man wishes to die--at least, no
poet does. To part with the exhilarating bustle and tumult, the blueness
of the sky, the sunlight that tingles on well-known street corners, the
plumber's bills and the editor's checks, the mirths of fellowship and
the joys of homecoming when lamps are lit--all this is too close a fibre
to be stripped easily from the naked heart. But the poet must go where
the greatest songs are singing. Perhaps he finds, after all, that life
and death are part of the same rhyme.



TALES OF TWO CITIES

I. PHILADELPHIA



AN EARLY TRAIN

[Illustration]


The course of events has compelled me for several months to catch an
early train at Broad Street three times a week. I call it an "early"
train, but, of course, these matters are merely relative; 7:45 are the
figures illuminated over the gateway--not so very precocious, perhaps;
but quite rathe enough for one of Haroun-al-Raschid temper, who seldom
seeks the "oblivion of repose" (Boswell's phrase) before 1 A. M.

Nothing is more pathetic in human nature than its faculty of
self-deception. Winding up the alarm clock (the night before) I meditate
as to the exact time to elect for its disturbing buzz. If I set it at
6:30 that will give me plenty of time to shave and reach the station
with leisure for a pleasurable cup of coffee. But (so frail is the human
will) when I wake at 6:30 I will think to myself, "There is plenty of
time," and probably turn over for "another five minutes." This will mean
a hideous spasm of awakening conscience about 7:10--an unbathed and
unshaven tumult of preparation, malisons on the shoe manufacturers who
invented boots with eyelets all the way up, a frantic sprint to
Sixteenth Street and one of those horrid intervals that shake the very
citadel of human reason when I ponder whether it is safer to wait for a
possible car or must start hotfoot for the station at once. All this is
generally decided by setting the clock for 6:50. Then, if I am spry, I
can be under way by 7:20 and have a little time to be philosophical at
the corner of Sixteenth and Pine. Of the vile seizures of passion that
shake the bosom when a car comes along, seems about to halt, and then
passes without stopping--of the spiritual scars these crises leave on
the soul of the victim, I cannot trust myself to speak. It does not
always happen, thank goodness. One does not always have to throb madly
up Sixteenth, with head retorted over one's shoulder to see if a car may
still be coming, while the legs make what speed they may on sliddery
paving. Sometimes the car does actually appear and one buffets aboard
and is buried in a brawny human mass. There is a stop, and one wonders
fiercely whether a horse is down ahead, and one had better get out at
once and run for it. Tightly wedged in the heart of the car, nothing can
be seen. It is all very nerve-racking, and I study, for quietness of
mind, the familiar advertising card of the white-bearded old man
announcing "It is really very remarkable that a cigar of this quality
can be had for seven cents."

Suppose, however, that fortune is with me. I descend at Market Street,
and the City Hall dial, shining softly in the fast paling blue of
morning, marks 7:30. Now I begin to enjoy myself. I reflect on the
curious way in which time seems to stand still during the last minutes
before the departure of a train. The half-hour between 7 and 7:30 has
vanished in a gruesome flash. Now follow fifteen minutes of exquisite
dalliance. Every few moments I look suddenly and savagely at the clock
to see if it can be playing some saturnine trick. No, even now it is
only 7:32. In the lively alertness of the morning mind a whole wealth of
thought and accurate observation can be crammed into a few seconds. I
halt for a moment at the window of that little lunchroom on Market
Street (between Sixteenth and Fifteenth) where the food comes swiftly
speeding from the kitchen on a moving belt. I wonder whether to have
breakfast there. It is such fun to see a platter of pale yellow
scrambled eggs sliding demurely beside the porcelain counter and
whipped dextrously off in front of you by the presiding waiter. But the
superlative coffee of the Broad Street Station lunch counter generally
lures me on.

What mundane joy can surpass the pleasure of approaching the station
lunch counter, with full ten minutes to satisfy a morning appetite!
"Morning, colonel," says the waiter, recognizing a steady customer.
"Wheatcakes and coffee," you cry. With one deft gesture, it seems, he
has handed you a glass brimming with ice water and spread out a snowy
napkin. In another moment here is the coffee, with the generous jug of
cream. You splash in a large lump of ice to make it cool enough to
drink. Perhaps the seat next you is empty, and you put your books and
papers on it, thus not having to balance them gingerly on your knees.
All round you is a lusty savour of satisfaction, the tinkle of cash
registers, napkins fluttering and flashing across the counters, coloured
waiters darting to and fro, great clouds of steam rising where the big
dish covers are raised on the cooking tables. You see the dark-brown
coffee gently quivering in the glass gauge of the nickel boiler. Then
here come the wheatcakes. Nowhere else on earth, I firmly believe, are
they cooked to just that correct delicacy of golden brown colour;
nowhere else are they so soft and light of texture, so hot, so
beautifully overlaid with a smooth, almost intangible suggestion of
crispness. Two golden butter pats salute the eye, and a jug of syrup.
It is now 7:38.

As everyone knows, the correct thing is to start immediately on the
first cake, using only syrup. The method of dealing with the other two
is classic. One lifts the upper one and places a whole pat of butter on
the lower cake. Then one replaces the upper cake upon the lower, leaving
the butter to its fate. In that hot and enviable embrace the butter
liquefies and spreads itself, gently anointing the field of coming
action. Upon the upper shield one smilingly distributes the second
butter pat, knifed off into small slices for greater speed of melting.
By the time the first cake has been eaten, with the syrup, the other two
will be ready for manifest destiny. The butter will be docile and
submissive. Now, after again making sure of the time (7:40) the syrup is
brought into play and the palate has the congenial task of determining
whether the added delight of melting butter outweighs the greater
hotness and primal thrill of the first cake which was glossed with the
syrup only. You drain your coffee to the dregs; gaze pityingly on those
rushing in to snap up a breakfast before the 8 o'clock leaves for New
York, pay your check, and saunter out to the train. It is 7:43.

This, to be sure, is only the curtain-raiser to the pleasures to follow.
This has been a physical and carnal pleasure. Now follow delights of the
mind. In the great gloomy shed wafts and twists of thick steam are
jetting upward, heavily coiled in the cold air. In the train you smoke
two pipes and read the morning paper. Then you are set down at
Haverford. It is like a fairyland of unbelief. Trees and shrubbery are
crusted and sheathed in crystal, lucid like chandeliers in the flat,
thin light. Along the fence, as you go up the hill, you marvel at the
scarlet berries in the hedge, gleaming through the glassy ribs of the
bushes. The old willow tree by the Conklin gate is etched against the
sky like a Japanese drawing--it has a curious greenish colour beneath
that gray sky. There is some mystery in all this. It seems more
beautiful than a merely mortal earth vexed by sinful men has any right
to be. There is some ice palace in Hans Andersen which is something like
it. In a little grove, the boughs, bent down with their shining
glaziery, creak softly as they sway in the moving air. The evergreens
are clotted with lumps and bags of transparent icing, their fronds sag
to the ground. A pale twinkling blueness sifts over distant vistas. The
sky whitens in the south and points of light leap up to the eye as the
wind turns a loaded branch.

A certain seriousness of demeanour is noticeable on the generally
unfurrowed brows of student friends. Midyears are on and one sees them
walking, freighted with precious and perishable erudition, toward the
halls of trial. They seem a little oppressed with care, too preoccupied
to relish the entrancing pallor of this crystallized Eden. One carries,
gravely, a cushion and an alarm clock. Not such a bad theory of life,
perhaps--to carry in the crises of existence a cushion of philosophy and
an alarum of resolution.



RIDGE AVENUE


One of the odd things about human beings is, that wherever they happen
to live they accept it as a matter of course. In various foreign cities
I have often been amused (as every traveller has) to see people going
about their affairs just as though it were natural and unquestionable
for them to be there. It is just the same at home. Everyone I see on the
streets seems to be not at all amazed at living here instead of (let us
say) Indianapolis or Nashville. I envy my small Urchin his sense of the
extreme improbability of everything. When he gets on a trolley car he
draws a long breath and looks around in ecstasy at the human scenery. I
am teaching him to say in a loud, clear tone, as he gets on the car,
"Look at all the human beings!" in the same accent of amazement that he
uses when he goes to the Zoo. Perhaps in this way he will preserve the
happy faculty of being surprised.

It is an agreeable thing to keep the same sense of surprise in one's
home town that one would have in a strange city. You will find much to
startle you if you keep your eyes open. Yesterday, for instance, I was
lucky enough to meet a gentleman who had stood only a few feet away from
Lincoln when he made the Gettysburg Speech. Then I found that in a
certain cafeteria which I frequent the price you pay for your lunch is
always just one cent less than that punched on the check. The cashier
explained that this always gives a pleasant surprise to the customers,
and has proved such a good advertising dodge that the proprietor made it
a habit. And I saw, in a clothing dealer's window on Ninth Street, some
fuzzy caps for men, mottled purple and ochre, that proved that the
adventurous spirit has not died in the breast of the male sex.

There is much to exercise the eye in a voyage along Ridge Avenue.
Approaching by way of Ninth Street, one sees in the window of a barber
shop the new contract that the employing barbers have drawn up with
their journeymen. This agreement shows a sound sense of human equities,
proclaiming as it does that "the owner must not do no act to injure the
barber personal earnings." It suddenly occurred to me, what I had not
thought of before, how the barbers of Great Britain must have grieved
when a London newspaper got up (some years ago) an agitation in favour
of every man in England raising a beard in memory of King Edward. The
plan was that the money thus saved was to be devoted to building--I had
almost said "growing"--a battleship, to be named after the Merry
Monarch. Of course, one should not speak of raising a beard, but of
lowering it. However----

Ridge Avenue begins at Ninth and Vine, in a mood of depression. Perhaps
the fact that it runs out toward the city's greatest collection of
cemeteries has made it morbidly conscious of human perishability. At any
rate, it starts among pawnshops, old clothing and furniture, and bottles
of Old Virginia Bitters, the Great Man Restorer. The famous National
Theatre at Callowhill Street has become a garage; it is queer to see the
old proscenium arch and gilded ceiling dustily vaulted over a fleet of
motortrucks. After a wilderness of railway yards one comes to a curious
bit in the 1100 block; a little brick tunnel that bends around into a
huddle of backyards and small houses, where a large green parrot was
stooping and nodding on a pile of old boxes. This little scene is
overlooked by the tall brown spires of the Church of the Assumption on
Spring Garden Street.

There is matter for tarrying at the Spring Garden Street crossing. Here
is an ambitious fountain built by the bequest of Mary Rebecca Darby
Smith, with the carving by J. J. Boyle picturing another Rebecca (she of
Genesis xxiv, 14) giving a drink to Abraham's servant and his camels. It
is carved in the bronze that the donor gave the fountain "To refresh the
weary and thirsty, both man and beast," so it is disconcerting to find
it dry, as dry as the inns along the way. The horse trough is boarded
over and thirsting equines go up to Broad Street for a draught. The
seat by the fountain was occupied by a man reading the New York
_Journal_, always a depressing sight.

Across from the fountain is one of the best magazine and stationery
shops in the city. Here I overheard a conversation which I reproduce
textually. "What you doing, reading?" said one to another. "Yes, reading
about the biggest four-flusher in the Yew-nited States," said he,
looking over an afternoon paper which had just come in. "Who do you
mean?" "Penrose. Say if it was a Republican in the White House, theyda
passed the treaty long ago." The proprietor of this shop is a humorist.
Someone came in asking for a certain brand of cigarettes. He does not
sell tobacco. "Next door," he said, and added: "And you'll find some
over on the fountain."

Ridge Avenue specializes in tobacco shops, where you will find many
brands that require a strong head. Red Snapper, Panhandle Scrap, Pinch
Hit, Red Horse, Brown's Mule, Jolly Tar, Penn Statue Cuttings, Nickel
Cross Cut, Cotton Ball Twist. In the shop windows you will see those
photographs illustrating current events, the two favourites just now
being a picture of Mike Gilhooley, the famous stowaway, gazing
plaintively at the profile of New York, and "Jack Dempsey Goes the
Limit," where Jack signs up for a $1,000 war-savings certificate. One
wonders if Jack's kind of warfare is really so profitable after all.

There are a number of little side excursions from the avenue that repay
scrutiny. Lemon Street, for instance, where in a lane of old brown
wooden houses some children were playing in an empty wagon, with the
rounded tower of the Rodef Shalom synagogue looming in the background.
Best of all is Melon Street and its modest tributary, Park
Avenue--stretches of quiet little brick homes with green and yellow
shutters and mottled gray marble steps. These little houses have the
serene and sunny air so typical of Philadelphia byways. Through their
narrow side entrances one sees glimpses of green in backyards. In the
front windows move the gently swaying faces of grandmothers, lulled in
the to and fro of a rocking chair. There are shining brass knobs and
bell-pulls; rubber plants on the sills, or perhaps a small bowl of
goldfish with a white china swan floating. In one window was a sign
"Vacancies." Over it hung a faded service flag with a golden star. Who
could phrase the pathos of these two things, side by side?

At Broad Street, Ridge Avenue leaps up with a spurt of high life. In the
window of a hotel dining room a gentleman sat eating his lunch,
stevedoring a buttered roll with such gusto that one felt tempted to
applaud. There are the white pillars of a bank and the battleship gray
of the Salvation Army headquarters. Beyond Broad, the avenue spruces up
a bit and enters upon a vivacious phase. Dogs are frequent: white bull
terriers lie sunning in the shop windows. Offers to lend money are
enticing. There is a fascinating slate yard at 1525, where great gray
slabs lie in the sun, a temptation to urchins with a bit of chalk. In
the warm bask of the afternoon there rises a pleasing aroma of fruits
and vegetables piled up in baskets and crates on the pavement. Grapes
give off a delectable savour in the golden air. Elderly ladies are out
in force to do the marketing, and their eyes are bright with the
bargaining passion. Round the windows of a ten-cent store, most
fascinating of all human spectacles, they congregate and compare notes.
A fruit dealer has an ingenious stunt to attract attention. On his cash
register lies a weird-looking rotund little fish--a butter fish, he
calls it--which has a face not unlike that of Fatty Arbuckle. Either
this fish inflates itself or he has blown it full of air in some
ingenious manner, for it presents a grotesque appearance, and many
ladies stop to inquire. Then he spoofs them gently. "Sure," he says,
"it's a jitney fish. It lives on the cash register. It can fly, it can
bite, it can talk, and it likes money."

At the corner of Wylie Street stands an old gray house with a mansard
roof and gable windows. Against it is a vivid store of fruit glowing in
the sun, red and purple and yellow. Here, or on Vineyard Street, one
turns off to enter the quaint triangular settlement of Francisville.



THE UNIVERSITY AND THE URCHIN

[Illustration]


Sunday afternoon is by old tradition dedicated to the taking of Urchins
out to taste the air, and indeed there is no more agreeable pastime. And
so, as the Urchin sat in his high chair and thoughtfully shovelled his
spoon through meat chopped remarkably small and potatoes mashed in that
curious fashion that produces a mass of soft, curly tendrils, his
curators discussed the question of where he should be taken.

It was the first Sunday in March--mild and soft and tinctured with
spring. "There's the botanic garden at the University," I suggested.
The Urchin settled it by rattling his spoon on the plate and sliding
several inches of potato into his lap. "Go see garden!" he cried. With
the generous tastes of twenty-seven months he cares very little where he
is taken; he can find fascination in anything; but something about the
word "garden" seemed to allure him. So a little later when he had been
duly habited in brown leggings, his minute brown overcoat, and white hat
with ribbons behind it, he and his curators set out. The Urchin was in
excellent spirits, for he had been promised a ride on a trolley car--a
glorious adventure. In one pocket he carried his private collection of
talismans, including a horse-chestnut and a picture of a mouse. Also,
against emergencies, a miniature handkerchief with a teddy bear
embroidered in one corner and a safety pin. The expedition may be deemed
to have been a success, as none of these properties were called upon or
even remembered.

The car we boarded did not take us just where we expected to go, but
that made little difference to the Urchin, who gazed steadfastly out of
the window at a panorama of shabby streets, and offered no comment
except one of extreme exultation when we passed a large poster of a cow.
Admirably docile, he felt confident that the unusual conjunction of both
arbiters of destiny and an impressive trolley car would in the end
produce something extremely worth while. We sped across Gray's Ferry
bridge--it seems strange to think that region was once so quiet, green,
and rustic--transferred to another car on Woodland Avenue, past the
white medley of tombstones in Woodland Cemetery, and got off at the
entrance to the dormitory quadrangles at Thirty-seventh Street. We
entered through the archway--the Urchin's first introduction to an
academic atmosphere. "This is the University," I said to him severely,
and he was much impressed. As is his way, he conducted himself with
extreme sobriety until he should get the hang of this new experience and
see what it was all about. I knew from the serene gold sparkle of his
brown eyes that there was plenty of larking spirit in him, waiting until
he knew whether it was safe to give it play. He held my hand
punctiliously while waiting to see what manner of place this University
was.

A college quadrangle on a Sunday afternoon has a feeling all its own.
Thin tinklings of mandolins eddy from open windows, in which young men
may be seen propped up against bright-coloured cushions, always smoking,
and sometimes reading with an apparent zeal which might deceive a few
onlookers. But the slightest sound of footfalls on the pavement outside
their rooms causes these heads to turn and scan the passers. There is
always a vague hope in these youthful breasts that some damsel of
notable fairness may have strayed within the bastions. Groups of ladies
of youth and beauty do often walk demurely through the courts, and may
be sure of hearing admiring whistles shrilled through the sunny air.
When a lady walks through a college quadrangle and hears no sibilation,
let her know sadly that first youth is past. Even the sedate
guardianship of Scribe and Urchin did not forfeit one Lady of Destiny
her proper homage of tuneful testimonial. So be it ever!

One who inhabited college quadrangles not so immeasurably long ago, and
remembers with secret pain how massively old, experienced, and worldly
wise he then thought himself, can never resist a throb of amazement at
the entertaining youthfulness of these young monks. How quaintly
juvenile they are, and how oddly that assumption of grave superiority
sits upon their golden brows! With what an inimitable air of wisdom,
cynicism, ancientry, learned aloofness and desire to be observed do they
stroll to and fro across the quads, so keenly aware in their inmost
bosoms of the presence of visitors and determined to grant an appearance
of mingled wisdom, great age, and sad doggishness! What a devil-may-care
swing to the stride, what a nonchalance in the perpetual wreath of
cigarette smoke, what a carefully assumed bearing of one carrying great
wisdom lightly and easily casting it aside for the moment in the pursuit
of some waggish trifle. "Here," those very self-conscious young visages
seem to betray, "is one who might tell you all about the Holy Roman
Empire, and yet is, for the moment, diverting himself with a mere
mandolin." And yet, as the Lady of Destiny shrewdly observed, it is a
pity they should mar their beautiful quadrangles with orange peel and
scraps of paper.

We walked for some time through those stately courts of Tudor brick and
then passed down the little inclined path to the botanic garden, where
irises and fresh green spikes are already pushing up through the damp
earth. A pale mellow sunlight lay upon the gravel walks and the Urchin
resumed his customary zeal. He ran here and there along the byways,
examined the rock borders with an air of scientific questioning, and
watched the other children playing by the muddy pond. We found shrubbery
swelling with buds, also flappers walking hatless and blanched with
talcum, accompanied by Urchins of a larger growth. Both these phenomena
we took to be a sign of the coming equinox.

Returning to the dormitory quadrangles, we sat down on a wooden bench to
rest, while the Urchin, now convinced that a university is nothing to be
awed by, scampered about on the turf. His eye was a bright jewel of
roguishness, for he thought that in trotting about the grass he was
doing something supremely wicked. He has been carefully trained not to
err on the grass of the city square to which he is best accustomed, so
this surprising and unchecked revelry quite went to his head. Across and
about those wide plots of sodden turf he trotted and chuckled, a small,
quaint mortal with his hat ribbons fluttering. Cheering whistles hailed
him from open windows above, and he smiled to himself with grave
dignity. Apparently, like a distinguished statesman, he regarded these
tributes not as meant for himself, but for the great body of childhood
he innocently represents, and indeed from which his applauders are not
so inextricably severed. With the placid and unconscious happiness of a
puppy he careered and meandered, without motive or method. Perhaps his
underlying thought of a university, if he has any, is that it is a place
where no one says "Keep Off the Grass," and, intellectually speaking,
that would not be such a bad motto for an institution of learning.

I don't know whether Doctor Tait McKenzie so intended it, but his
appealing and beautiful statue of Young Franklin in front of the
University gymnasium is admirably devised for the delight of small
Urchins. While their curators take pleasure in the bronze itself, the
Urchin may clamber on the different levels of the base, which is nicely
adapted for the mountaineering capacity of twenty-seven months. The low
brick walls before the gymnasium and the University museum are also just
right for an Urchin who has recently learned the fascination of walking
on something raised above the ground, provided there is a curator near
by to hold his hand. And then, as one walks away toward the South
Street bridge an observant Urchin may spy the delightful spectacle of a
freight train travelling apparently in midair. Some day, one hopes, all
that fine tract of open space leading from the museum down to the
railroad tracks may perhaps be beautified as a park or an addition to
the University's quadrangle system. I don't know who owns it, but its
architectural possibilities must surely make the city-planner's mouth
water.

By this time the Urchin was beginning to feel a bit weary, and was glad
of a lift on a parental shoulder. Then a Lombard Street car came along
and took us up halfway across the bridge. So ended the Urchin's first
introduction to a university education.



PINE STREET


Our neighbourhood is very genteel. I doubt if any one who has not lived
in Philadelphia can imagine how genteel it is. Visitors from out of town
are wont to sigh with rapture when they see our trim blocks of tall
brick dwellings--that even cornice running in a smooth line for several
hundred yards really is quite a sight--and exclaim, "Oh, I wish we had
something like this in New York!" But our gentility is a little
self-conscious, for we live on the very frontier of a region, darker in
complexion, which is far from scrupulous in deportment. Uproarious and
naïve are the humours of South Street, lying just behind us. Stanleys
have gone exploring thither and come back with merry tales. South Street
on a bright evening, its myriad barber shops gleaming with lathered
dusky cheeks, wafting the essence of innumerable pomades and lotions,
that were a Travel indeed. On South Street the veins of life run close
to the surface.

We are no less human on our street, but it takes a bit more study to get
at the secret. There is a certain reticence about us. It would take an
earthquake to cause much fraternization along Pine Street. Perhaps it
is because three houses out of every four bear the tablets of doctors.
The average layman fears to stop and speak to his neighbour for fear it
will develop into a professional matter. We board up our front windows
at night with heavy wooden shutters. We have no druggists, only
"apothecaries." These apothecaries are closed on Sundays. They sell
stamps in little isinglass capsules, to be quite sanitary, two twos in a
capsule for five cents. In their shops you can still get soda water with
"plain cream" and shaved ice, such as was customary twenty-five years
ago. When our doctors go away for the summer, someone comes twice a week
from June to October to polish up the little silver name plate. It is
the custom in our neighbourhood (so one observes through drawing room
windows) to have reading lamps with rosy pink shades and at least two
beautiful daughters of débutante age. I hope I am not unjust, but our
street looks to me like the kind of place where people take warm baths,
in a roomy old china tub, on Sunday afternoons. After that, they go
downstairs and play a hymn on the piano, at twilight.

[Illustration]

There are a number of very odd features about our neighbourhood. There
is a large schoolhouse at the next corner, but as far as I can see, it
is not used as a school, not for children, at any rate. Sometimes, about
8 o'clock in the evening, I see the building gloriously illuminated, and
a lonely lady stooped and assiduous at a table. She seems quite
solitary. Perhaps her researches are so poignant that the school board
has prescribed entire silence. But midway down the block is a very jolly
little private school, to which very genteel children may be seen
approaching early in the morning. The little girls come with a bustle of
starch, on foot, accompanied by governesses; the small boys arrive in
limousines. They are small boys dressed very much in the English manner,
with heavy woollen stockings ending just below the knee. They probably
do not realize that their tailor has carefully planned them to look like
dear little English boys. Then there is a very mysterious small theatre
near by. If it were a movie theatre, what a boon it would be! But no, it
is devoted to a strange cult called the Religion of Business, which
meets there on Sundays. Before that, there was a Korean congress there.
There is a lovely green room in this theatre, but not much long green in
the box office. Philadelphia prefers Al Jolson to Hank Ibsen.

We have our tincture of vie de Bohème, though, in our little French
table d'hôte, a thoroughly atmospheric place. Delightful Madame B., with
her racy philosophy of life, what delicious soups and salads she serves!
Happy indeed are those who have learned the way to her little tables,
and heard her cheerful cry "À la cuisine!" when one of her small dogs
prowls into the dining room. Equally unique is the old curiosity shop
near by, one of the few genuine "notion" shops left in the city (though
there is a delightful one on Market Street near Seventeenth, to enter
which is to step into a country village). This is just the kind of shop
bought by the old gentleman in one of Frank Stockton's agreeable tales,
"Mr. Tolman," in the volume called "The Magic Egg". The proprietress,
charming and conversable lady, will sell you anything in the "notions"
line, from a paper of pins to garter elastic. Then there is the laundry,
whose patrons carry on a jovial game known as "Looking for Your Own."
Every week, by some cheery habit of confusion, the lists are lost, and
one hunts through shelves of neatly piled and crisply laundered garments
to pick out one's own collars, pyjamas, or whatever it may be. The
amusing humour of this pastime must be experienced to be understood.

The little cigar and magazine shop on the corner is the political and
social focus of the neighbourhood. I shall never forget the pallid and
ghastly countenance of the newsdealer when the rumour first went the
rounds that "Hampy" was elected. Every evening a little gathering of
local sages meets in the shop; on tilted chairs, in a haze of tobacco,
they while the hours away. In tobacco the host adheres to the standard
blends, but in literature he is enterprising. Until recently this was
the only place I know in Philadelphia where one could get the
_Illustrated London News_ every week.

There are twinges of modernity going on along our street. Some of the
old houses have been remodeled into apartments. There is an "electric
shoe repairer" just round the corner. But the antique dealers and
plumbers for which the street is famous still hold sway; the fine old
brick pavement still collects rain water in its numerous dimpled
hollows, and the yellowish marble horse-blocks adorn the curb. The nice
shabby stables in the little side streets have not yet been turned into
studios by artists, and the neighbourhood's youngest urchins set sail
for Rittenhouse Square every morning on their fleet of "kiddie-cars."
Their small stout legs, twinkling along the pavements in white gaiters
on a wintry day, are a pleasant sight. Even our urchins are notably
genteel. Surrounded on all sides by the medical profession, they are
reared on registered milk and educator crackers. If Philadelphia ever
betrays its soul, it does so on this delightful, bland, and genteel
highway.



PERSHING IN PHILADELPHIA

[Illustration]


The pavement in front of Independence Hall was a gorgeous jumble of
colours. The great silken flags of the Allies, carried by vividly
costumed ladies, burned and flapped in the wind. On a pedestal stood the
Goddess of Liberty, in rich white draperies that seemed fortunately of
sufficient texture to afford some warmth, for the air was cool. She
graciously turned round for Walter Crail, the photographer of our
contemporary, the _Evening Public Ledger_, to take a shot at her.

Down Chestnut Street came a rising tide of cheers. A squadron of mounted
police galloped by. Then the First City Troop, with shining swords.
Fred Eckersburg, the State House engineer, was fidgeting excitedly
inside the hall, in a new uniform. This was Fred's greatest day, but we
saw that he was worried about Martha Washington, the Independence Hall
cat. He was apprehensive lest the excitement should give her a fit or a
palsy. Independence Hall is no longer the quiet old place Martha used to
enjoy before the war.

The Police Band struck up "Hail to the Chief." Yells and cheers burst
upward from the ground like an explosion. Here he was, standing in the
car. There was the famous chin, the Sam Browne belt, the high laced
boots with spurs. Even the tan gloves carried in the left hand. There
was the smile, without which no famous man is properly equipped for
public life. There was Governor Sproul's placid smile, too, but the
Mayor seemed too excited to smile. Rattle, rattle, rattle went the
shutters of the photographers. Up the scarlet lane of carpet came the
general. His manner has a charming, easy grace. He saluted each one of
the fair ladies garbed in costumes of our Allies, but taking care not to
linger too long in front of any one of them lest any embracing should
get started. A pattering of tiger lilies or some such things came
dropping down from above. He passed into the hall, which was cool and
smelt like a wedding with a musk of flowers.

While the Big Chief was having a medal presented to him inside the hall
we managed to scuttle round underneath the grand stand and take up a
pencil of vantage just below the little pulpit where the general was to
speak. Here the crowd groaned against a bulwark of stout policemen.
Philadelphia cops, bless them, are the best tempered in the world. (How
Boston must envy us.) Genially two gigantic bluecoats made room against
the straining hawser for young John Fisher, aged eleven, of 332
Greenwich Street. John is a small, freckle-faced urchin. It was amusing
to see him thrusting his eager little beezer between the vast, soft,
plushy flanks of two patrolmen. He had been there over two hours waiting
for just this adventure. Then, to assert the equality of the sexes,
Mildred Dubivitch, aged eleven, and Eva Ciplet, aged nine, managed to
insert themselves between the chinks in the line of cops. An old lady
more than eighty years old was sitting placidly in a small chair just
inside the ropes. She had been in the square more than five hours, and
the police had found her a seat. "Are you going to put Pershing's name
in, too?" asked John as we noted his address.

Independence Square never knew a more thrilling fifteen minutes. The
trees were tossing and bending in the thrilling blue air. There was a
bronzy tint in their foliage, as though they were putting on olive drab
in honour of the general. Great balloons of silver clouds scoured across
the cobalt sky. At one minute to 11 Pershing appeared at the top of the
stand. The whole square, massed with people, shook with cheers.

Had it been any other man we would have said the general was frightened.
He came down the aisle of the stand with his delightful, easy, smiling
swing; but he looked shrewdly about, with a narrow-eyed, puckered gaze.
He was plainly a little flabbergasted. He seemed taken aback by the
greatness of Philadelphia's voice. He said something to himself. On his
lips it looked like "What the deuce," or something of similar purport.
He sat down on a chair beside Governor Sproul. Not more than four feet
away, amazed at our own audacity, we peered over the floor of the stand.

He was paler than we expected. He looked a bit tired. Speaking as a
father, we were pleased to note the absence of Warren, who was (we hope)
getting a good sleep somewhere. We had a good look at the renowned chin,
which is well worth study. It must be a hard chin to shave. It juts
upward, reaching a line exactly below the brim of his cap. Below his
crescent moustache there is no lower lip visible: it is tucked and
folded in by the rising thrust of the jaw. It is this which gives him
the "grim" aspect which every reader of the papers hears about. He is
grim, there's no doubt about it, with the grimness of a man going
through a tough ordeal. "I can see him all right," squeaked little John
Fisher, "but he doesn't see me." The first two rows of seats at the
right of the aisle were crammed with generals, two-star and three-star.
From our lowly station we could see a grand panorama of mahogany leather
boots and the flaring curves of riding breeches. It was a great day for
Sam Browne. The thought came to us that has reached us before. The
higher you go in the A. E. F. the more the officers are tailored after
the English manner. It is the finest proof of international cousinship.
When England and America wear the same kind of clothes, alliance is knit
solid.

Pershing sat with his palms on his knees. He looked worried. There was a
wavering crease down his lean cheeks. The plumply genial countenance of
Governor Sproul next to him was an odd contrast to that dry, hard face.
The bell in the tower tolled eleven times. He stood up for the
photographers. Walter Crail, appearing from somewhere, sprang up on the
parapet facing the general. "Look this way!" he shouted as the general
turned toward some movie men. That will be Walter's first cry when he
gets to heaven, or wherever. Mayor Smith's face was pallid with
excitement. His nicely draped trouserings, which were only six inches
from our notebook, quivered slightly as he said fifteen words of
introduction.

As Pershing stood up to speak the crowd surged forward. The general was
worried. "Don't, don't! Somebody will get hurt!" he called sharply. Then
Mayor Smith surged forward also and said something to the police about
watching the crowd.

The general took off his cap. Holding it in his left hand (with the
gloves) he patted his close-cropped hair nervously. He frowned. He began
to speak.

The speech has already been covered by our hated rivals. We will not
repeat it, save to say that it was as crisp, clean-cut, and pointed as
his chin. He was nervous, as we could see by the clenching and
unclenching of his hands. His voice is rather high. We liked him for not
being a suave and polished speaker. He gestured briskly with a pointing
forefinger, and pronounced the word _patriotic_ with a short
A--"pattriotic." Later he stumbled over it again and got it out as
_patterotism_. We liked him again for that. He doesn't have to pronounce
it, anyway. We liked him best of all for the unconscious slip he made.
"This reception," he said, "I understand is for the splendid soldiery of
America that played such an important part in the war with our Allies."
A respectful ripple of laughter passed over the stand at this, but he
did not notice it. He was fighting too hard to think what to say next.
We liked him, too, for saying "such an important part." A man who had
been further away from the fighting would have said that it was America,
alone and unaided, that won the war. He is just as we have hoped he
would be: a plain, blunt man. We have heard that he is going to enter
the banking business. We'd like to have an account at that bank.



FALL FEVER

[Illustration]


About this time of year, when the mellow air swoons (as the poets say)
with golden languor and the landscape is tinged a soft brown like a
piece of toast, we feel the onset and soft impeachment of fall fever.

Fall fever is (in our case at any rate) more insidious than the familiar
disease of spring. Spring fever impels us to get out in the country; to
seize a knotted cudgel and a pouchful of tobacco and agitate our limbs
over the landscape. But the drowsiness of autumn is a lethargy in the
true sense of that word--a forgetfulness. A forgetfulness of past
discontents and future joys; a forgetfulness of toil that is gone and
leisure to come; a mere breathing existence in which one stands vacantly
eyeing the human scene, living in a gentle simmer of the faculties like
a boiling kettle when the gas is turned low.

Fall fever, one supposes, is our inheritance from the cave man, who
(like the bear and the--well, some other animal, whatever it is) went
into hibernation about the first of November. Autumn with its soft
inertia lulled him to sleep. He ate a hearty meal, raked together some
dry leaves, curled up and slid off until the alarm clock of April.

This agreeable disease does not last very long with the modern man. He
fights bravely against it; then the frost comes along, or the coal bill,
and stings him into activity. But for a few days its genial torpor may
be seen (by the observant) even in our bustling modern career. When we
read yesterday that Judge Audenried's court clerks had fallen asleep
during ballot-counting proceedings we knew that the microbe was among us
again. Keats, in his lovely Ode, describes the figure of Autumn as
stretched out "on a half-reaped furrow sound asleep." Unhappily the
conventions forbid city dwellers from curling up on the pavements for a
cheerful nap. If one were brave enough to do so, unquestionably many
would follow his example. But the urbanite has taught himself to doze
upright. You may see many of us, standing dreamily before Chestnut
Street show windows in the lunch hour, to all intents and purposes in a
state of slumber. Yesterday, in that lucid shimmer of warmth and light,
a group stood in front of a doughnut window near Ninth Street: not one
of them was more than half awake. Similarly a gathering watched the
three small birds who have become a traditional window ornament on
Chestnut Street (they have recently moved from an oculist to a
correspondence course office) and a faint whisper of snoring arose on
the sultry air. The customs of city life permit a man to stand still as
long as he likes if he will only pretend to be watching something. We
saw a substantial burgher pivoted by the window of Mr. Albert, the
violin maker, on Ninth Street. Apparently he was studying the fine
autographed photo of Patti there displayed; but when we sidled near we
saw that his eyes were closed; this admirable person, who seemed to be
what is known as a "busy executive," and whose desk undoubtedly carries
a plate-glass sheet with the orisons of Swett Marden under it, was in a
blissful doze.

Modern life (as we say) struggles against this sweet enchantment of
autumn, but Nature is too strong for us. Why is it that all these
strikes occur just at this time of year? The old hibernating instinct
again, perhaps. The workman has a subconscious yearning to scratch
together a nice soft heap of manila envelopes and lie down on that couch
for a six months' ear-pounding. There are all sorts of excuses that one
can make to one's self for waving farewell to toil. Only last Sunday we
saw this ad in a paper:

     HEIRS WANTED. The war is over and has made many new heirs. You
     may be one of them. Investigate. Many now living in poverty are
     rich, but don't know it.

Now what could be simpler (we said to ourself as we stood contemplating
those doughnuts) than to forsake our jolly old typewriter and spend a
few months in "investigating" whether any one had made us his heir? It
might be. Odd things have happened. Down in Washington Square, for
instance (we thought), are a number of sun-warmed benches, very
reposeful to the sedentary parts, on which we might recline and think
over the possibility of our being rich unawares. We hastened thither,
but apparently many had had the same idea. There was not a bench vacant.
The same was true in Independence Square and in Franklin Square. We will
never make a good loafer. There is too much competition.

So we came back, sadly, to our rolltop and fell to musing. We picked up
a magazine and found some pictures showing how Mary Pickford washes her
hair. "If I am sun-drying my hair," said Mary (under a photo showing her
reclining in a lovely garden doing just that), "I usually have the
opportunity to read a scenario or do some other duty which requires
concentration." And it occurred to us that if a strain like that is put
upon a weak woman we surely ought to be able to go on moiling for a
while, Indian summer or not. And then we found some pictures by our
favourite artist, Coles Phillips, with that lovely shimmer around the
ankles, and we resolved to be strong and brave and have pointed
finger-nails. But still, in the back of our mind, the debilitating
influence of fall fever was at work. We said to ourself, without the
slightest thought of printing it (for it seemed to put us in a false
light), that the one triumphant and unanswerable epigram of mankind, the
grandest and most resolute utterance in the face of implacable fate, is
the snore.



TWO DAYS BEFORE CHRISTMAS


Will the hand-organ man please call? Our wife has dug up our old
overcoat and insists on giving it to him. We intended to give it to the
Honolulu Girls around at the Walnut Theatre, they looked a bit
goose-fleshed last week, but we always have hay fever when we get near
those grass skirts. Grass widows is what the profession calls the
Hawaiian ladies. Hope the temperature isn't going up again. We love the
old-fashioned Christmas and all that sort of thing. Nipping air makes
cheeks pink; we love to see them nestled in fur coats on Chestnut
Street. This is the time of year to do unexpected kindnesses. We know
one man who stands in line for hours in front of movie theatres just in
order to shout _Merry Christmas_ through the little hole in the glass.
Shaving seems less of a bore. Newspapers are supposed to be heartless,
but they all take a hand in trying to help poor children. Find ourselves
humming hymn tunes. Very odd, haven't been to a church for years. Great
fun surprising people. We've been reading the new phone book; noticed
several ways in which people might surprise each other by calling up and
wishing many happy returns of the day. Why doesn't Beulah R. Wine ring
up Mrs. Louis F. Beer, for instance? Or, A. D. Smoker and Burton J.
Puffer might go around to W. C. Matchett, tobacconist, at 1635 South
Second Street, and buy their Christmas cigars. George Wharton Pepper
might give Mayme Salt a ring (on the phone, that is). What a pleasant
voice that telephone operatrix has. Here's to you, child, and many of
them. Grand time, Christmas.

       *       *       *       *       *

Fine old Anglo-Saxon festival, Christmas. A time of jovial cheer and
bracing mirth. Must be so, because Doctor Frank Crane and Ralph Waldo
Trine have often said so. Christmas hard on people like that, however:
they are bursting with the Christmas spirit all the year round; very
trying when the real occasion comes. That's the beauty of having a
peevish and surly disposition: when one softens up at Christmas
everybody notices it and is pleased. Chaucer, fine old English poet,
first English humorist, gave good picture of Christmas cheer more than
five hundred years ago. Never quoted on Christmas cards, why not copy it
here? Chaucer's spelling very like Ring Lardner's, but good sort just
the same. Says he:

    And this was, as thise bookes me remembre,
    The colde, frosty sesoun of Decembre....
    The bittre frostes with the sleet and reyn
    Destroyed hath the grene in every yard;
    Janus sit by the fyre with double beard,
    And drynketh of his bugle horn the wyn;
    Biforn hym stant brawn of the tusked swyn,
    And "_Nowel_" crieth every lusty man.

Janus, god of doors, what we call nowadays a janitor. Had two faces so
he could watch the front and back door at once and get a double tip at
Christmas time. Also, that was why he wore a beard; too much trouble to
shave. We don't cry _Nowel_ any more; instead we petition the janitor to
send up a little more steam. But what a jolly picture Chaucer gives of
Christmas! Wine to drink (fine ruddy wine, as red as the holly berries),
crackling flitch of pig to eat, and a merry cry of welcome sounding at
the threshold as your friends come stamping in through the snow.

Grand time, Christmas! No one is really a Philadelphian until he has
waited for a Pine Street car on a snowy night. Please have my seat,
madam, there's plenty of room on the strap. Wonder why the pavement on
Chestnut Street is the slipperiest in the world? Always fall down just
in front of our bank; most embarrassing; hope the paying teller doesn't
see us. Very annoying to lose our balance just there. Awfully nice
little girl in there who balances the books. Has a kind heart. The
countless gold of a merry heart, as William Blake said. She looks
awfully downcast when our balance gets the way it is now. Hate to
disappoint her. Won't have our book balanced again for a devil of a
while. Even the most surly is full of smiles nowadays. Most of us when
we fall on the pavement (did you ever try it on Chestnut between Sixth
and Seventh on a slippery day?) curse the granolithic trust and wamble
there groaning. But not nowadays. Make the best of things. Fine panorama
of spats.

       *       *       *       *       *

Association of ideas. Everybody wears silk stockings at Christmas time.
Excessive geniality of the ad-writers. Uproarious good cheer. Makes one
almost ashamed to notice the high price of everything. Radicals being
deported. Why not deport Santa Claus, too? Very radical notion that,
love your neighbour better than yourself. Easy to do; very few of us
such dam fools as to love ourselves, but so often when you love your
neighbour she doesn't return it. Nice little boxes they have at the
ten-cent stores, all covered with poinsettia flowers, to put presents
in. Wonder when poinsettia began to be used as a Christmas decoration
and why? Everyone in ten-cent store calls them "poinsettias," but named
after J. R. Poinsett. Encyclopedia very handy at times; makes a good
Christmas present, one dollar down and a dollar a month for life. Nobody
can tell the difference between real pearls and imitation; somebody
ought to put the oysters wise. Save them a lot of trouble and anxiety.
Don't know just what duvetyne is, but there seems to be a lot of it
drunk nowadays. Hope that clockwork train for the Urchin will arrive
soon; we were hoping to have three happy evenings playing with it before
he sees it. Fine to have children; lots of fun playing with their
presents. We are sure that life after death is really so, because
children always kick the blankets off at night. Fine bit of symbolism
that; put it in a sermon, unless Doctor Conwell gets there first.

Grand time, Christmas! We vowed to try to take down our weight this
winter, and then they put sugar back on the menu, and doughnut shops
spring up on every street, and Charles F. Jenkins sent us a big sack of
Pocono buckwheat flour and we're eating a basketful of griddle cakes
every morning for breakfast. Terrible to be a coward; we always turn on
the hot water first in the shower bath, except the first morning we used
it. The plumber got the indicator on the wrong way round, and when you
turn to the place marked HOT it comes down like ice. Our idea of a
really happy man is the fellow driving a wagonload of truck just in
front of a trolley car, holding it back all the way downtown; when he
hears the motorman clanging away he pretends he thinks it's the
Christmas chimes and sings "Hark the Herald Angels."

Speaking of Herald Angels reminds us of a good story about James Gordon
Bennett; we'll spring it one of these days when we're hard up for copy.
Jack Frost must be a married man, did you see him try to cover up the
show windows with his little traceries the other day when the shopping
was at its height? There was a pert little hat in a window on Walnut
Street we were very much afraid someone might see; the frost saved us.
Don't forget to put Red Cross seals on your letters. Delightful to watch
the faces on the streets at Christmas time. Everybody trying hard to be
pleasant; sometimes rather a strain. Curious things faces--some of them
seem almost human; queer to think that each belongs to someone and no
chance to get rid of it; sorry we're not in the mirror industry; never
thought of it before, but it ought to be profitable. Happier most of us,
if mirrors never had been invented. Hope all our nice-natured clients
will have the best kind of a time; forgive us for not answering letters;
we are too disillusioned about ourself to make any resolutions to do
better. We're going home now; on the way we'll think of a lot of nice
things we might have said, write them down and use them to-morrow. Hope
Dorothy Gish will get something nice in her stocking. Don't make the
obvious retort. Grand time, Christmas!



IN WEST PHILADELPHIA

[Illustration]


Climbing aboard car No. 13--ominously labelled "Mt. Moriah"--I voyaged
toward West Philadelphia. It was a keen day, the first snow of winter
had fallen, and sparkling gushes of chill swept inward every time the
side doors opened. The conductor, who gets the full benefit of this
ventilation, was feeling cynical, and seeing his blue hands I didn't
blame him. Long lines of ladies, fumbling with their little bags and
waiting for change, stepped off one by one into the windy eddies of the
street corners. One came up to pay her fare ten blocks or so before her
destination, and then retired to her seat again. This puzzled the
conductor and he rebuked her. The argument grew busy. To the amazement
of the passengers this richly dressed female brandished lusty epithets.
"You Irish mick!" she said. (One would not have believed it possible if
he had not heard it.) "That's what I am, and proud of it," said he. The
shopping solstice is not all fur coats and pink cheeks. If you watch the
conductors in the blizzard season, and see the slings and arrows they
have to bear, you will coin a new maxim. The conductor is always right.

It is always entertaining to move for a little in a college atmosphere.
I stopped at College Hall at the University and seriously contemplated
slipping in to a lecture. The hallways were crowded with earnest youths
of both sexes--I was a bit surprised at the number of co-eds,
particularly the number with red hair--discussing the tribulations of
their lot. "Think of it," said one man, "I'm a senior, and carrying
twenty-three hours. Got a thesis to do, 20,000 words." On a bulletin
board I observed the results of a "General Intelligence Exam." It
appears that 1,770 students took part. They were listed by numbers, not
by names. It was not stated what the perfect mark would have been; the
highest grade attained was 159, by Mr. (or Miss?) 735. The lowest mark
was 23. I saw that both 440 and 1124 got the mark of 149. If these
gentlemen (or ladies) are eager to play off the tie, it would be a
pleasure to arrange a deciding competition for them. The elaborate care
with which the boys and girls ignore one another as they pass in the
halls was highly delightful, and reminded me of exactly the same thing
at Oxford. But I saw the possible beginning of true romance in the
following notice on one of the boards:

     WANTED: Names and addresses of ten nice American university
     students who must remain in Philadelphia over Christmas, away
     from home, to be invited to a Christmas Eve party to help
     entertain some Bryn Mawr College girls in one of the nicest homes
     in a suburb of Philadelphia.

Certainly there is the stage set for a short story. Perhaps not such a
short one, either.

Naturally I could not resist a visit to the library, where most of the
readers seemed wholly absorbed, though one student was gaping forlornly
over a volume of Tennyson. I found an intensely amusing book, "Who's Who
in Japan," a copy of which would be a valuable standby to a newspaper
paragrapher in his bad moments. For instance:

     SASAKI, TETSUTARO: One of the highest taxpayers of Fukushima-ken,
     President of the Hongu Reeling Partnership, Director of the Dai
     Nippon Radium Water Co.; brewer, reeler; born Aug., 1860.

     SAKURAI, ICHISAKU: Member of the Niigata City Council; Director
     of the Niigata Gas Co., Niigata Savings Bank. Born June, 1872,
     Studied Japanese and Chinese classics and arithmetic. At present
     also he connects with the Niigata Orphanage and various other
     philanthropic bodies. Was imprisoned by acting contrary to the
     act of explosive compound for seven years. Recreations: reading,
     Western wine.

Relying on my apparent similarity to the average undergrad, I
plunged into the sancta of Houston Hall and bought a copy of the
_Punch Bowl_. What that sprightly journal calls "A little group
of Syria's thinkers" was shooting pool. The big fireplaces, like
most fireplaces in American colleges, don't seem to be used. They
don't even show any traces of ever having been used, a curious
contrast to the always blazing hearths of English colleges. The
latter, however, are more necessary, as in England there is
usually no other source of warmth. A bitter skirmish of winds,
carrying powdered snow dust, nipped round the gateways of the
dormitories and Tait McKenzie's fine statue of Whitefield stood
sharply outlined against a cold blue sky. I lunched at a varsity
hash counter on Spruce Street and bought tobacco in a varsity
drug store, where a New York tailor, over for the day, was
cajoling students into buying his "snappy styles" in time for
Christmas. There is no more interesting game than watching a lot
of college men, trying to pick out those who may be of some value
to the community in future--the scientists, poets, and teachers
of the next generation. The well-dressed youths one sees in the
varsity drug stores are not generally of this type.

The Evans School of Dentistry at Fortieth and Spruce is a
surprising place. Its grotesque gargoyles, showing (with true
medieval humour) the sufferings of tooth patients, are the first
thing one notices. Then one finds the museum, in which is housed
Doctor Thomas W. Evans's collection of paintings and curios
brought back from France. Unfortunately there seems to be no
catalogue of the items, so that there is no way of knowing what
interesting associations belong to them. But most surprising of
all is to find the travelling carriage of the Empress Eugenie in
which she fled from France in the fatal September days of 1870.
She spent her last night in France at the home of Doctor Evans,
and there is a spirited painting by Dupray showing her leaving
his house the next morning, ushered into the carriage by the
courtly doctor. The old black barouche, or whatever one calls it,
seems in perfect condition still, with the empress's monogram on
the door panel. Only the other day we read in the papers that the
remarkable old lady (now in her ninety-fourth year) has been
walking about Paris, revisiting well-known scenes. How it would
surprise her to see her carriage again here in this University
building in West Philadelphia. The whole museum is delightfully
French in flavour; as soon as one enters one seems to step back
into the curiously bizarre and tragic extravagance of the Second
Empire.

One passes into the dignified and placid residence section of
Spruce and Pine streets, with its distinctly academic air. Behind
those quiet walls one suspects bookcases and studious professors
and all the delightful passions of the mind. On Baltimore Avenue
the wintry sun shone white and cold; in Clark Park, Charles
Dickens wore a little cap of snow, and Little Nell looked more
pathetic than ever. There is a breath of mystery about Baltimore
Avenue. What does that large sign mean, in front of a house near
Clark Park--THE EASTERN TRAVELLERS? Then one comes to the famous
shop of S. F. Hiram, the Dodoneaean Shoemaker he calls himself.
This wise coloured man has learned the advertising advantages of
the unusual. His placard reads:

     Originator of that famous Dobrupolyi System of repairing.

When one enters and asks to know more about this system, he
points to another placard, which says:

     It assumes the nature and character of an appellative noun, and
     carries the article The System.

His shop contains odd curios as well as the usual traffic of a
cobbler. "The public loves to be hood-winked," he adds sagely.



HORACE TRAUBEL


We wait with particular interest to hear what Philadelphia will have to
say about the passing of Horace Traubel. Traubel was the official echo
of the Great Voice of Camden, and in his obituary one may discern the
vivacity of the Whitman tradition. This is a matter of no small concern
to the curators of the Whitman cult. The soul of Philadelphia cannot be
kept alive by conventions and statistics alone. Such men as Traubel have
helped.

There are two kinds of rebels. By their neckties you may know them. Walt
Whitman was of the kind that wears no necktie at all. Then there is the
lesser sort, of which Traubel was one--the rebel who wears a flowing
black bow tie with long trailers. Elbert Hubbard wore one of these. It
is a mild rebellion of which this is symbol. It often goes with shell
spectacles.

[Illustration]

We never knew Horace Traubel, though he was the man we most wanted to
meet when we came to Philadelphia. We have heard men of all conditions
speak of him with affection and respect. He was dedicated from boyhood
to the Whitman cause. From Walt himself he caught the habit of talking
about Walt, and he carried it on with as much gusto and happiness as
Walt did. Only recently he said in his little magazine _The
Conservator_:

     When I was quite small I used to want to be a great man. But in
     my observations of the old man's better than great way of meeting
     the gifts as well as the reverses of fate I didn't want to be a
     great man. I only wanted to stay unannexed to any institution as
     he was. No college ever decorated him. For the best of reasons.
     No college could. He could decorate them.

So Traubel remained unannexed. He was fired from a bank because he
happened to take issue in public with one of the bank's chief
depositors. He floated about happily, surrounded by young Whitman
disciples, carrying on his guerrilla for what his leader called the
"peerless, passionate, good cause" of human democracy. His little
magazine led a precarious life, supported by good friends. His protest
against iniquities was an honest, good-humoured protest.

Horace Traubel will be remembered, as he wished to be remembered, as the
biographer of Whitman. Whitman also, we may add, wished Traubel to be so
remembered. In his careful record of the Camden sage's utterances and
pulse-beats he approached (as nearly as any one) the devoted dignity of
Boswell. We were about to say the self-effacing devotion of Boswell; but
the beauty of biography is that the biographer cannot wholly delete
himself from the book. One is always curious about the recording
instrument. When we see a particularly fine photograph our first
question is always, "What kind of camera was it taken with?"

It seems to us--speaking only by intuition, for we never knew him--that
Traubel was a happy man. He was untouched by many of the harassing
ambitions that make the lives of prosperous men miserable. He was
touched in boyhood by one simple and overmastering motive--to carry on
the Whitman message and spread it out for the younger world. Much of the
dunnage of life he cast overboard. He was too good a Whitman disciple to
estimate success in the customary terms. When he left his job in the
bank he opened an account in the Walt Whitman philosophy--and he kept a
healthy balance there to the end.



TALES OF TWO CITIES

II. NEW YORK



THE ANATOMY OF MANHATTAN


She is the only city whose lovers live always in a mood of wonder and
expectancy. There are others where one may sink peacefully, contentedly
into the life of the town, affectionate and understanding of its ways.
But she, the woman city, who is bold enough to say he understands her?
The secret of her thrilling and inscrutable appeal has never been told.
How could it be? She has always been so much greater than any one who
has lived with her. (Shall we mention Walt Whitman as the only possible
exception? O. Henry came very near to her, but did he not melodramatize
her a little, sometimes cheapen her by his epigrammatic appraisal, fit
her too neatly into his plot? Kipling seemed to see her only as the
brutal, heedless wanton.) Truly the magic of her spell can never be
exacted. She changes too rapidly, day by day. Realism, as they call it,
can never catch the boundaries of her pearly beauty. She needs a mystic.

No city so challenges and debilitates the imagination. Here, where
wonder is a daily companion, desire to tell her our ecstasy becomes at
last only a faint pain in the mind. If you would mute a poet's lyre,
put him on a ferry from Jersey City some silver April morning; or send
him aboard at Liberty Street in an October dusk. Poor soul, his mind
will buzz (for years to come) after adequate speech to tell those cliffs
and scarps, amethyst and lilac in the mingled light; the clear topaz
chequer of window panes; the dull bluish olive of the river, streaked
and crinkled with the churn of the screw! Many a poet has come to her in
the wooing passion. Give him six months, he is merely her Platonist. He
lives content with placid companionship. Where are his adjectives, his
verbs? That inward knot of amazement, what speech can unravel it?

Her air, when it is typical, is light, dry, cool. It is pale, it is
faintly tinctured with pearl and opal. Heaven is unbelievably remote;
the city itself daring so high, heaven lifts in a cautious remove. Light
and shadow are fantastically banded, striped, and patchworked among her
cavern streets; a cool, deep gloom is cut across with fierce jags and
blinks of brightness. She smiles upon man who takes his ease in her
colossal companionship. Her clean soaring perpendiculars call the eye
upward. One wanders as a botanist in a tropical forest. That great
smooth groinery of the Pennsylvania Station train shed: is it not the
arching fronds of iron palm trees? Oh, to be a botanist of this vivid
jungle, spread all about one, anatomist of the ribs and veins that run
from the great backbone of Broadway!

To love her, one thinks, is to love one's fellows; each of them having
some unknown share in her loveliness. Any one of her streets would be
the study and delight of a lifetime. To speak at random, we think of
that little world of brightness and sound bourgeois cheer that spreads
around the homely Verdi statue at Seventy-third Street. We have a
faithful affection for that neighbourhood, for reasons of our own.
Within a radius, thereabouts, of a quarter-mile each way, we could live
a year and learn new matters every day. They call us a hustling folk.
Observe the tranquil afternoon light in those brownstone byways. Pass
along leisurely Amsterdam Avenue, the region of small and genial shops,
Amsterdam Avenue of the many laundries. See the children trooping
upstairs to their own room at the St. Agnes branch of the Public
Library. See the taxi drivers, sitting in their cars alongside the Verdi
grass plot (a rural breath of new-mown turf sweetening the warm, crisp
air) and smoking pipes. Every one of them is to us as fascinating as a
detective story. What a hand they have had in ten thousand romances. At
this very moment, what quaint and many-stranded destinies may hail them
and drive off? But there they sit, placid enough, with a pipe and the
afternoon paper. The light, fluttering dresses of enigmatic fair ones
pass gayly on the pavement. Traffic flows, divides, and flows on, a
sparkling river. Here is that mystery, a human being, buying a cigar.
Here is another mystery asking for a glass of frosted chocolate. Why is
it that we cannot accost that tempting riddle and ask him to give us an
accurate précis of his life to date? And that red-haired burly sage, he
who used to bake the bran muffins in the little lunchroom near by, and
who lent us his Robby Burns one night--what has become of him?

So she teases us, so she allures. Sometimes, on the L, as one passes
along that winding channel where the walls and windows come so close,
there is a felicitous sense of being immersed, surrounded, drowned in a
great, generous ocean of humanity. It is a fine feeling. All life
presses around one, the throb and the problem are close, are close. Who
could be weary, who could be at odds with life, in such an embrace of
destiny? The great tall sides of buildings fly open, the human hive is
there, beautiful and arduous beyond belief. Here is our worship and here
our lasting joy, here is our immortality of encouragement. Yes, perhaps
O. Henry did say the secret after all: "He saw no longer a rabble, but
his brothers seeking the ideal."



VESEY STREET

[Illustration]


The first duty of the conscientious explorer is to study his own
neighbourhood, so we set off to familiarize ourself with Vesey Street.
This amiable byway (perhaps on account of the proximity of Washington
Market) bases its culture on a solid appreciation of the virtue of good
food, an admirable trait in any street. Upon this firm foundation it
erects a seemly interest in letters. The wanderer who passes up the
short channel of our street, from the docks to St. Paul's churchyard,
must not be misled by the character of the books the bibliothecaries
display in their windows. Outwardly they lure the public by Bob
Ingersoll's lectures, Napoleon's Dream Book, efficiency encyclopædias
and those odd and highly coloured small brochures of smoking-car tales
of the Slow Train Through Arkansaw type. But once you penetrate, you may
find quarry of a more stimulating kind. For fifteen cents we eloped with
a first edition of Bunner's "Love in Old Cloathes," which we were glad
to have in memory of the "old red box on Vesey Street" which Banner
immortalized in rhyme, and which still stands (is it the same box?) by
the railing of St. Paul's. Also, even nobler treasure to our way of
thinking, did we not just now find (for fifteen cents) Hilaire Belloc's
"Hills and the Sea," that enchanting little volume of essays, which we
are almost afraid to read again. Belloc, the rogue--the devil is in him.
Such a lusty beguilery moves in his nimble prose that after reading him
it is hard not to fall into a clumsy imitation of his lively and frolic
manner. There is at least one essayist in this city who fell subject to
the hilarious Hilaire years ago. It is an old jape but not such a bad
one: our friend Murray Hill will never return to the status quo ante
Belloc.

But we were speaking of Vesey Street. It looks down to the water, and
the soft music of steamship whistles comes tuning on a cold, gusty air.
Thoroughly mundane little street, yet not unmindful of matters
spiritual, bounded as it is by divine Providence at one end (St. Paul's)
and by Providence, R. I. (the Providence Line pier) at the other.
Perhaps it is the presence of the graveyard that has startled Vesey
Street into a curious reversal of custom. On most other streets, we
think, the numbers of the houses run even on the south side, odd on the
north. But just the opposite on Vesey. You will find all even numbers on
the north, odd on the south. Still, Wall Street errs in the same way.

If marooned or quarantined on Vesey Street a man might lead a life of
gayety and sound nourishment for a considerable while, without having
recourse to more exalted thoroughfares. There are lodging houses in that
row of old buildings down toward the docks; from the garret windows he
could see masts moving on the river. For food he would live high indeed.
Where will one see such huge glossy blue-black grapes; such enormous
Indian River grapefruit; such noble display of fish--scallops,
herrings, smelts, and the larger kind with their dead and desolate eyes?
There are pathetic rows of rabbits, frozen stiff in the bitter cold
wind; huge white hares hanging in rows; a tray of pigeons with their
iridescent throat feathers catching gleams of the pale sunlight. There
are great sacks of nuts, barrels of cranberries, kegs of olive oil,
thick slabs of yellow cheese. On such a cold day it was pleasant to see
a sign "Peanut Roasters and Warmers."

Passing the gloomy vista of Greenwich Street--under the "L" is one of
those mysterious little vents in the floor of the street from which
issues a continual spout of steam--our Vesey grows more intellectual.
The first thing one sees, going easterly, is a sign: THE TRUTH SEEKER,
_One flight Up_. The temptation is almost irresistible, but then Truth
is always one flight higher up, so one reflects, what's the use? In this
block, while there is still much doing in the way of food--and even food
in the live state, a window full of entertaining chicks and ducklings
clustered round a colony brooder--another of Vesey Street's interests
begins to show itself. Tools. Every kind of tool that gladdens the heart
of man is displayed in various shops. One realizes more and more that
this is a man's street, and indeed (except at the meat market) few of
the gayer sex are to be seen along its pavements. One of the tool shops
has open-air boxes with all manner of miscellaneous oddments, from mouse
traps to oil cans, and you may see delighted enthusiasts poring over the
assortment with the same professional delight that ladies show at a
notion counter. One of the tool merchants, however, seems to have
weakened in his love of city existence, for he has put up a placard:

WANTED TO RENT _Small Farm Must Have Fruit and Spring Water_

How many years of repressed yearning may speak behind that modest
ambition!

Our own taste for amusement leads us (once luncheon dispatched; you
should taste Vesey Street's lentil soup) to the second-hand bookshops.
Our imagined castaway, condemned to live on Vesey Street for a term of
months, would never need to languish for mental stimulation. Were he
devout, there is always St. Paul's, as we have said; and were he
atheist, what a collection of Bob Ingersoll's essays greets the faring
eye! There is the customary number of copies of "The Pentecost of
Calamity"; it seems to the frequenter of second-hand bazaars as though
almost everybody who bought that lively booklet in the early days of the
war must have sold it again since the armistice. Much rarer, we saw a
copy of "Hopkins's Pond," that little volume of agreeable sketches
written so long ago by Dr. Robert T. Morris, the well-known surgeon, and
if we had not already a copy which the doctor inscribed for us we would
certainly have rescued it from this strange exile.

There are only two of the really necessary delights of life that the
Vesey Street maroon would miss. There is no movie, there are no
doughnuts. We are wondering whether in any part of this city there has
sprung up the great doughnut craze that has ravaged Philadelphia in the
past months. As soon as prohibition became a certainty, certain astute
merchants of the Quaker City devoted themselves to inoculating the
public with a taste for these humble fritters, and now they bubble gayly
in the windows of Philadelphia's most aristocratic thoroughfare. It is
really a startling sight to see Philadelphia lining up for its noonday
quota of doughnuts, and the merchants over there have devised an
ingenious method of tempting the crowd. A funnel, erected over the
frying sinkers, carries the fragrant fumes out through a transom and
gushes it into the open air, so that the sniff of doughnuts is
perceptible all down the block. There is a fortune waiting on Vesey
Street for the man who will establish a doughnut foundry, and we
solemnly pledge our own appetite and that of all our friends toward his
success.[2]

At its upper end, perhaps in memory of the vanished Astor House, Vesey
Street stirs itself into a certain magnificence, devoting its window
space to jewellery and silver-mounted books of prayer. At this window
one may regulate his watch at a clock warranted by Charles Frodsham of
84, Strand, to whose solid British accuracy we hereby pay decent
tribute. Over all this varied scene lifts the shining javelin-head of
the Woolworth Building, seen now and then in an almost disbelieved
glimpse of sublimity; and the golden Lightning of the Telephone and
Telegraph pinnacle, waving his zigzag brands in the sun.

[2] Since this was written, the lack has been supplied--on Park Row,
just above the top of Vesey Street; probably the most luxurious doughnut
shop ever conceived.



BROOKLYN BRIDGE

[Illustration]


A windy day, one would have said in the dark channels of downtown ways.
In the chop house on John Street, lunch-time patrons came blustering in,
wrapped in overcoats and mufflers, with something of that air of
ostentatious hardiness that men always assume on coming into a warm room
from a cold street. Thick chops were hissing on the rosy grill at the
foot of the stairs. In one of the little crowded stalls a man sat with a
glass of milk. It was the first time we had been in that chop house for
several years ... it doesn't seem the same. As Mr. Wordsworth said, it
is not now as it hath been of yore. But still,

    The homely Nurse doth all she can
    To make her foster-child, her Inn-mate Man,
    Forget the glories he hath known.

It's a queer thing that all these imitation beers taste to us exactly as
real beer did the first time we tasted it (we were seven years old) and
shuddered. "Two glasses of cider," we said to the comely serving maid.
Alas

    That nature yet remembers
    What was so fugitive.

There is a nice point of etiquette involved in lunching in a crowded
chop house. Does the fact of having bought and eaten a moderate meal
entitle one to sit with one's companion for a placid talk and smoke
afterward? Or is one compelled to relinquish the table as soon as one is
finished, to make place for later comers? These last are standing
menacingly near by, gazing bitterly upon us as we look over the card and
debate the desirability of having some tapioca pudding. But our
presiding Juno has already settled the matter, and made courtesy a
matter of necessity. "These gentlemen will be through in a moment," she
says to the new candidates. Our companion, the amiable G---- W----, was
just then telling us of a brand of synthetic whiskey now being
distilled by a famous tavern of the underworld. The superlative charm of
this beverage seems to be the extreme rigidity it imparts to the
persevering communicant. "What does it taste like?" we asked. "Rather
like gnawing furniture," said G---- W----. "It's like a long, healthy
draught of shellac. It seems to me that it would be less trouble if you
offered the barkeep fifty cents to hit you over the head with a hammer.
The general effect would be about the same, and you wouldn't feel nearly
so bad in the morning."

A windy day, and perishing chill, we thought as we strolled through the
gloomy caverns and crypts underneath the Brooklyn Bridge. Those twisted
vistas seen through the archways give an impression of wrecked Louvain.
A great bonfire was burning in the middle of the street. Under the Pearl
Street elevated the sunlight drifted through the girders in a lively
chequer, patterning piles of gray-black snow with a criss-cross of
brightness. We had wanted to show our visitor Franklin Square, which he,
as a man of letters, had always thought of as a trimly gardened plot
surrounded by quiet little old-fashioned houses with brass knockers, and
famous authors tripping in and out. As we stood examining the façade of
Harper and Brothers, our friend grew nervous. He was carrying under his
arm the dummy of an "export catalogue" for a big brass foundry, that
being his line of work. "They'll think we're free verse poets trying to
get up courage enough to go in and submit a manuscript," he said, and
dragged us away.

A windy day, we had said in the grimy recesses of Cliff and Dover
streets. (Approaching this sentiment for the third time, perhaps we may
be permitted to accomplish our thought and say what we had in mind.) But
up on the airy decking of the Brooklyn Bridge, where we repaired with
G---- W---- for a brief stroll, the afternoon seemed mild and tranquil.
It is a mistake to assume that the open spaces are the windier. The
subway is New York's home of Æolus, and most of the gusts that buffet us
on the streets are merely hastening round a corner in search of the
nearest subway entrance so that they can get down there where they feel
they belong. Up on the bridge it was plain to perceive that the March
sunshine had elements of strength. The air was crisp but genial. A few
pedestrians were walking resolutely toward the transpontine borough; the
cop on duty stood outside his little cabin with the air of one ungrieved
by care. Behind us stood the high profiles of the lower city, sharpened
against the splendidly clear blue sky which is New York's special
blessing. On the water moved a large tug, towing barges. Smoke trailed
behind it in the same easy and comfortable way that tobacco reek gushes
over a man's shoulder when he walks across a room puffing his pipe.

The bridge is a curiously delightful place to watch the city from.
Walking toward the central towers seems like entering a vast spider's
web. The footway between the criss-cross cables draws one inward with a
queer fascination, the perspective diminishing the network to the eye so
that it seems to tighten round you as you advance. Even when there is
but little traffic the bridge is never still. It is alive, trembling,
vibrant, the foot moves with a springy recoil. One feels the lift and
strain of gigantic forces, and looks in amazement on the huge sagging
hawsers that carry the load. The bars and rods quiver, the whole lively
fabric is full of a tremor, but one that conveys no sense of
insecureness. It trembles as a tree whispers in a light air.

And of the view from the bridge, it is too sweeping to carry wholly in
mind. Best, one thinks, it is seen in a winter dusk, when the panes of
Manhattan's mountains are still blazing against a crystal blue-green
sky, and the last flush of an orange sunset lingers in the west. Such we
saw it once, coming over from Brooklyn, very hungry after walking in
most of the way from Jamaica, and pledged in our own resolve not to
break fast until reaching a certain inn on Pearl Street where they used
to serve banana omelets. Dusk simplifies the prospect, washes away the
lesser units, fills in the foreground with obliterating shadow, leaves
only the monstrous sierras of Broadway jagged against the vault. It
deepens this incredible panorama into broad sweeps of gold and black and
peacock blue which one may file away in memory, tangled eyries of
shining windows swimming in empty air. As seen in the full brilliance of
noonday the bristle of detail is too bewildering to carry in one clutch
of the senses. The eye is distracted by the abysses between buildings,
by the uneven elevation of the summits, by the jumbled compression of
the streets. In the vastness of the scene one looks in vain for some
guiding principle of arrangement by which vision can focus itself. It is
better not to study this strange and disturbing outlook too minutely,
lest one lose what knowledge of it one has. Let one do as the veteran
prowlers of the bridge: stroll pensively to and fro in the sun, taking
man's miracles for granted, exhilarated and content.



THREE HOURS FOR LUNCH


Hudson Street has a pleasant savour of food. It resounds with the dull
rumble of cruising drays, which bear the names of well-known brands of
groceries; it is faintly salted by an aroma of the docks. One sees great
signs announcing cocoanut and whalebone or such unusual wares; there is
a fine tang of coffee in the air round about the corner of Beach Street.
Here is that vast, massy brick edifice, the New York Central freight
station, built 1868, which gives an impression of being about to be torn
down. From a dilapidated upper window hangs a faded banner of the Irish
Republic. At noontime this region shows a mood of repose. Truckmen loll
in sunny corners, puffing pipes, with their curved freight hooks hung
round their necks. In a dark smithy half a dozen sit comfortably round a
huge wheel which rests on an anvil, using it as a lunch table. Near
Canal Street two men are loading ice into a yellow refrigerator car, and
their practiced motions are pleasant to watch. One stands in the wagon
and swings the big blocks upward with his tongs. The other, on the wagon
roof, seizes the piece deftly and drops it through a trap on top of the
car. The blocks of ice flash and shimmer as they pass through the
sunshine. In Jim O'Dea's blacksmith shop, near Broome Street, fat white
horses are waiting patiently to be shod, while a pink glow wavers
outward from the forge.

[Illustration]

At the corner of Hudson and Broome streets we fell in with our friend
Endymion, it being our purpose to point out to him the house, one of
that block of old red dwellings between Hudson and Varick, which Robert
C. Holliday has described in "Broome Street Straws," a book which we
hope is known to all lovers of New York local colour. Books which have a
strong sense of place, and are born out of particular streets--and
especially streets of an odd, rich, and well-worn flavour--are not any
too frequent. Mr. Holliday's Gissingesque appreciation of the humours of
landladies and all the queer fish that shoal through the backwaters of
New York lodging houses makes this Broome Street neighbourhood
exceedingly pleasant for the pilgrim to examine. It was in Mr.
Holliday's honour that we sallied into a Hudson Street haberdashery,
just opposite the channel of Broome Street, and adorned ourself with a
new soft collar, also having the pleasure of seeing Endymion regretfully
wave away some gorgeous mauve and pink neckwear that the agreeable
dealer laid before him with words of encouragement. We also stood
tranced by a marvellous lithograph advertising a roach powder in a
neighbouring window, and wondered whether Mr. Holliday himself could
have drawn the original in the days when he and Walter Jack Duncan lived
in garrets on Broome Street and were art students together. Certainly
this picture had the vigorous and spirited touch that one would expect
from the draughting wrist of Mr. Holliday. It showed a very terrible
scene, apparently a civil war among the roaches, for one army of these
agile insects was treasonously squirting a house with the commended
specific, and the horrified and stricken inmates were streaming forth
and being carried away in roach ambulances, attended by roach nurses, to
a neighbouring roach cemetery. All done on a large and telling scale,
with every circumstance of dismay and reproach on the faces of the dying
blattidæ. Not even our candour, which is immense, permits us to reprint
the slogan the manufacturer has adopted for his poster: those who go
prowling on Hudson Street may see it for themselves.

In the old oyster and chop house just below Canal Street we enjoyed a
very agreeable lunch. To this place the Broome Street garreteers (so Mr.
Holliday has told us) used to come on days of high prosperity when some
cheque arrived from a publisher. At that time the tavern kept an open
fireplace, with a bright nest of coals in the chilly season; and there
was a fine mahogany bar. But we are no laudator of acted time; the
fireplace has been bricked up, it is true; but the sweet cider is
admirable, and as for the cheesecake, we would back it against all the
Times Square variety that Ben De Casseres rattles about. It is
delightful and surprising to find on Hudson Street an ordinary so droll
and Dickensish in atmosphere, and next door is a window bearing the sign
WALTER PETER. We feel sure that Mr. Holliday, were he still living in
those parts, would have cajoled the owner into changing that E to an A.

Our stroll led us north as far as Charlton Street, which the geographers
of Greenwich Village claim as the lower outpost of their domain.
Certainly it is a pleasing byway, running quietly through the afternoon,
and one lays an envious eye upon the demure brick houses, with their
old-fashioned doorways, pale blue shutters, and the studio windows on
the southern side. At the corner of Varick Street is a large house
showing the sign, "Christopher Columbus University of America."
Macdougal Street gives one a distant blink of the thin greenery of
Washington Square.

An unexpected impulse led us eastward on Grand Street, to revisit Max
Maisel's interesting bookshop.--We had never forgotten the thrill of
finding this place by chance one night when prowling toward Seward Park.
In bookshops of a liberal sort we always find it advisable to ask first
of all for a copy of Frank Harris's "The Man Shakespeare." It is hardly
ever to be found (unfortunately), so the inquiry is comparatively safe
for one in a frugal mood; and it is a tactful question, for the mention
of this book shows the bookseller that you are an intelligent and
understanding kind of person, and puts intercourse on good terms at
once. However, we did find one book that we felt we simply had to have,
as it is our favourite book for giving away to right-minded people--"The
Invisible Playmate," by William Canton. We fear that there are still
lovers of children who do not know this book; but if so, it is not our
fault.

Grand Street is a child at heart, and one may watch it making merry not
only along the pavement but in the shop windows. Endymion's gallant
spirit was strongly uplifted by this lively thoroughfare, and he strode
like one whose heart was hitting on all six cylinders. Max Maisel's
bookshop alone is enough to put one in a seemly humour. But then one
sees the gorgeous pink and green allurements of the pastry cooks'
windows, and who can resist those little lemon-flavoured,
saffron-coloured cakes, which are so thirst-compelling and send one
hastily to the nearest bar for another beaker of cider? And it seems
natural to find here the oldest toyshop in New York, where Endymion
dashed to the upper floor in search of juvenile baubles, and we both
greatly admired the tall, dark, and beauteous damsel who waited on us
with such patience and charity. Endymion by this time was convinced that
he was living in the very heart and climax of a poem; he became more and
more unreal as we walked along: we could see his physical outline
(tenuous enough at best) shimmer and blur as he became increasingly
alcaic.

Along the warm crowded pavement there suddenly piped a liquid, gurgling,
chirring whistle, rising and dropping with just the musical trill that
floats from clumps of creekside willows at this time of year. We had
passed several birdshops on our walk, and supposed that another was
near. A song sparrow, was our instant conclusion, and we halted to see
where the cage could be hung. And then we saw our warbler. He was little
and plump and red-faced, with a greasy hat and a drooping beer-gilded
moustache, and he wore on his coat a bright blue peddler's license
badge. He shuffled along, stooping over a pouch of tin whistles and
gurgling in one as he went. There's your poem, we said to
Endymion--"The Song-Sparrow on Grand Street."

We propose to compile a little handbook for truants, which we shall call
"How to Spend Three Hours at Lunch Time." This idea occurred to us on
looking at our watch when we got back to our kennel.



PASSAGE FROM SOME MEMOIRS


How long ago it seems, that spring noonshine when two young men (we will
call them Dactyl and Spondee) set off to plunder the golden bag of Time.
These creatures had an oppressive sense that first Youth was already
fled. For one of them, in fact, it was positively his thirtieth
birthday; poor soul, how decrepitly he flitted in front of motor trucks.
As for the other, he was far decumbent in years, quite of a previous
generation, a perfect Rameses, whose senile face was wont to crack into
wrinklish mirth when his palsied cronies called him the greatest poet
born on February 2, 1886.

It was a day--well, it is fortunate that some things do not have to be
described. Suppose one had to explain to the pallid people of the
thither moon what a noonday sunshine is like in New York about the Nones
of May? It could not be done to carry credence. Let it be said it was a
Day, and leave it so. You have all known that gilded envelopment of
sunshine and dainty air.

These pitiful creatures arose from the subway at Fourteenth Street and
took the world in their right hands. From this revolving orb, said they,
they would squeeze a luncheon hour of exquisite satisfactions. They
gazed sombrely at Union Square, and uttered curious reminiscences of the
venerable days when one of them had worked, actually toiled for a
living, upon the shores of that expanse. Ten years had passed (yes, at
least ten--_O edax rerum!_). Upon a wall these observant strollers saw a
tablet to the memory of William Lloyd Garrison. Strange, said they, we
never noticed this before. Ah, said one, this is hallowed ground. It was
near here that I used to borrow a quarter, the day before pay-day, to
buy my lunch. The other contributed similar recollections. And now,
quoth he, I am grown so prosperous that when I need money I can't afford
to borrow less than two hundred dollars.

They lunched (one brushes away the mist of time to recall the details)
where the bright sunlight fell athwart a tablecloth of excellent
whiteness. They ate (may one be precise at so great a distance?)--yes,
they ate broiled mackerel to begin with; the kind of mackerel called
(but why?) Spanish. Whereupon succeeded a course of honeycomb tripe,
which moved Dactyl to quoting Rabelais, something that Grangousier had
said about tripes. Only by these tripes is memory supported and made
positive, for it was the first time either had tackled this dish.
Concurrent with the tripes, one inducted the other into the true mystery
of blending shandygaff, explaining the first doctrine of that worthy
draught, which is that the beer must be poured into the beaker before
the ginger ale, for so arises a fatter and lustier bubblement of foam.
The reason whereof they leave no testament. While this portion of the
meal was under discussion their minds moved free, unpinioned, with airy
lightness, over all manner of topics. It seemed no effort at all to
talk. Ripe, mellow with long experience of men and matters, their
comments were notable for wisdom and sagacity. The waiter, overhearing
shreds of their discourse, made a private notation to the effect that
these were Men of Large Affairs. Then they embarked upon some salty
crackers, enlivened with Camembert cheese and green-gage jam. By this
time they were touching upon religion, from which they moved lightly to
the poems of Louise Imogen Guiney. It is all quite distinct as one looks
back upon it.

[Illustration]

Issuing upon the street, Dactyl said something about going back to the
office, but the air and sunlight said him nay. Rather, remarked Spondee,
let us fare forward upon this street and see what happens. This is ever
a comely doctrine, adds the chronicler. They moved gently, not without a
lilac trailing of tobacco fume, across quiet stretches of pavement. In
the blue upwardness stood the tower of the Metropolitan Life Building, a
reminder that humanity as a whole pays its premiums with decent
regularity. They conned the nice gradations of tint in the spring
foliage of Gramercy Park. They talked, a little soberly, of thrift, and
of their misspent years.

Lexington Avenue lay guileless beneath their rambling footfalls. At the
corner of Twenty-second Street was a crowd gathered, and a man with the
customary reverted cap in charge of a moving picture machine. A swift
car drew up before the large house at the southeast corner. Thrill upon
thrill: something being filmed for the movies! In the car, a handsome
young rogue at the wheel, and who was this blithe creature in shiny
leather coat and leather cap, with crumpling dark curls cascading
beneath it? A suspicion tinkled in the breast of Spondee, in those days
a valiant movie fan. Up got the young man, and hopped out of the car. Up
stood the blithe creature--how neatly breeched, indeed, a heavenly
forked radish--and those shining riding boots! She dismounted--lifted
down (so unnecessarily it seemed) by the rogue. She stood there a moment
and Spondee was convinced. DOROTHY GISH, said he to Dactyl. Miss Gish
and her escort darted into the house, the camera man reeling busily. At
an upper window of the dwelling a white-haired lady was looking out,
between lace curtains, with a sort of horror. Query, was she part of the
picture, or only the aristocratic owner of the house, dismayed at
finding her home suddenly become part of a celluloid drama? Spondee had
always had a soft spot in his heart for Miss Dorothy, esteeming her a
highly entertaining creature. He was disappointed in the tranquil
outcome of the scene. He had hoped to see leaping from windows and all
manner of hot stuff. Near by stood a coloured groom with a horse. The
observers concluded that Miss Gish was to do a little galloping shortly.
Dactyl and Spondee moved away. Spondee quoted a poem he had once written
about Miss Dorothy. He recollected only two lines:

    She makes all the rest seem a shoal of poor fish
    So _we_ cast _our_ ballot for Dorothy Gish.

Peering again into the dark backward and abysm, it seems that the two
rejuvenated gossips trundled up on Lexington Avenue to Alfred
Goldsmith's cheerful bookshop. Here they were startled to hear Mr.
Goldsmith cry: "Well, Chris, here are some nice bones for you." One of
these visitors assumed this friendly greeting was for him, but then it
was explained that Mr. Goldsmith's dog, named Christmas, was feeling
seedy, and was to be pampered. At this moment in came the postman with a
package of books, arrived all the way from Canada. One of these books
was "Salt of the Sea," a volume of tales by Morley Roberts, and upon
this Spondee fell with a loud cry, for it contained "The Promotion of
the Admiral," being to his mind a tale of great virtue which he had not
seen in several years. Dactyl, meanwhile, was digging out some volumes
of Gissing, and on the faces of both these creatures might have been
seen a pleasant radiation of innocent cheer. Mr. Goldsmith also
exhibited (it is still remembered) a beautiful photo of Walt Whitman,
which entertained the visitors, for it showed old Walt with his
coat-sleeve full of pins, which was ever Walt's way.

How long ago it all seems. Does Miss Dorothy still act for the pictures?
Does Chris, the amiable Scots terrier, still enjoy his bones? Does old
Dactyl still totter about his daily tasks? Queer to think that it
happened only yesterday. Well, time runs swift in New York.



FIRST LESSONS IN CLOWNING

[Illustration]


A medley of crashing music, pungently odd and exhilarating smells, the
roaring croon of the steam calliope, the sweet lingering savour of
clown-white grease paint, elephants, sleek barking seals, trained pigs,
superb white horses, frolicking dogs, exquisite ladies in tights and
spangles, the pallid Venuses of the "living statuary," a whole jumble
of incongruous and fantastic glimpses, moving in perfect order through
its arranged cycles--this is the blurred and ecstatic recollection of an
amateur clown at the circus.

It was pay day that afternoon and all the performers were in cheerful
humour. Perhaps that was why the two outsiders, who played a very
inconspicuous part in the vast show, were so gently treated. Certainly
they had approached the Garden in some secret trepidation. They had had
visions of dire jests and grievous humiliations: of finding themselves
suddenly astride the bare backs of berserk mules, or hoisted by blazing
petards, or douched with mysterious cascades of icy water. Pat Valdo had
written: "I am glad to hear you are going to clown a bit. I hope you
both will enjoy the experience." To our overwrought imaginations this
sounded a little ominous. What would Pat and his lively confrères do to
us?

We need not have feared. Not in the most genial club could we have been
more kindly treated than in the dressing room where we found Pat Valdo
opening his trunk and getting out the antic costumes he had provided.
(The eye of a certain elephant, to tell the truth, was the only real
embarrassment we suffered. We happened to stand by him as he was waiting
to go on, and in his shrewd and critical orb we saw a complete disdain.
He spotted us at once. He knew us for interlopers. He knew that we were
not a real clown, and his eye showed a spark of scorn. We felt shamed,
and slunk away.)

A liberal coating of clown-white, well rubbed into the palms before
applying; a rich powdering of talcum; and decorations applied by Pat
Valdo with his red and black paint-sticks--these give an effect that
startles the amateur when he considers himself in the mirror. Topped
with a skull-cap of white flannel (on which perches a supreme oddity in
the way of a Hooligan hat) and enveloped in a baggy Pierrot garment--one
is ready to look about and study the dressing room, where our fellows,
in every kind of gorgeous grotesquerie, are preparing for the Grand
Introductory Pageant--followed by the "Strange People." (They don't call
them Freaks any more.) Here is Johannes Joseffson, the Icelandic
Gladiator, sitting on his trunk, with his bare feet gingerly placed on
his slippers to keep them off the dusty floor while he puts on his
wrestling tights. As he bends over with arched back, and raises one leg
to insert it into the long pink stocking, one must admire the perfect
muscular grace of his thighs and shoulders. Here is the equally muscular
dwarf, being massaged by a friend before he dons his pink frills and
dashing plumed hat and becomes Mlle. Spangletti, "the marvel
equestrienne, darling of the Parisian boulevards." Here is the
inevitable Charley Chaplin, and here the dean of all the clowns, an old
gentleman of seventy-four, in his frolicsome costume, as lively as
ever. Here is a trunk inscribed _Australian Woodchoppers_, and sitting
on it one of the woodchoppers himself, a quiet, humorous, cultivated
gentleman with a great fund of philosophy. A rumour goes the rounds--as
it does behind the scenes in every kind of show. "Do you know who we
have with us to-day? I see one of the boxes is all decorated up." "It's
Mrs. Vincent Astor." "Who's she?" interjects the Australian woodchopper,
satirically. "It's General Wood." "Did you hear, Wood and Pershing are
here to-day?" Charley Chaplin asserts that he has "a good gag" that he's
going to try out to-day and see how it goes. One of the other clowns in
the course of dressing comes up to Pat Valdo, and Pat introduces his two
pupils. "Newspaper men, hey?" says the latter. "What did you tell me
for? I usually double-cross the newspaper men when they come up to do
some clowning," he explains to us. We are left wondering in what this
double-crossing consists. Suddenly they all troop off down the dark
narrow stairs for the triumphal entry. The splendour of this parade may
not be marred by any clown costumes, so the two novices are left
upstairs, peering through holes in the dressing-room wall. The big arena
is all an expanse of eager faces. The band strikes up a stirring ditty.
A wave of excitement sweeps through the dingy quarters of the Garden.
The show is on, and how delirious it all is!

Downstairs, the space behind the arena is a fascinating jostle of odd
sights. The elephants come swaying up the runway from the basement and
stand in line waiting their turn. Here is a cage of trained bears. In
the background stands the dogcatcher's cart, attached to the famous
kicking mule. From the ladies' dressing quarters come the aerial human
butterflies in their wings and gauzy draperies. On the wall is a list of
names, _Mail Uncalled For_. One of the names is "Toby Hamilton." That
must mean old Toby, and we fear the letter will never be called for now,
for Toby Hamilton, the famous old Barnum and Bailey press agent, who
cleaned up more "free space" than any man who ever lived, died in 1916.
Suddenly appears a person clad in flesh tights and a barrel, carrying a
label announcing himself as _The Common People_. Someone thrusts a large
sign into the hands of one of the amateur clowns, and he is thrust upon
the arena, to precede the barrelled Common People round the sawdust
circuit. He has hardly time to see what the sign says--something about
"On Strike Against $100 Suits." The amateur clown is somewhat aghast at
the huge display of friendly faces. Is he to try to be funny? Here is
the flag-hung box, and he tries to see who is in it. He doesn't see
either Wood, Pershing, or Mrs. Astor, who are not there; but a lot of
wounded soldiers, who smile at him encouragingly. He feels better and
proceeds, finding himself, with a start, just beneath some flying
acrobats who are soaring in air, hanging by their teeth. Common People
shouts to him to keep the sign facing toward the audience. The tour is
made without palpable dishonour.

Things are now moving so fast it is hard to keep up with them. Pat Valdo
is dressed as a prudish old lady with an enormous bustle. Escorted by
the clown policeman and the two amateurs, Pat sets out, fanning himself
demurely. Hullo! the bustle has detached itself from the old lady, but
she proceeds, unconscious. The audience shouts with glee. Finally the
cop sees what has happened and screams. The amateur clowns scream, too,
and one of them, in a burst of inspiration, takes off his absurd hat to
the bustle, which is now left yards behind. But Pat is undismayed, turns
and beckons with his hand. The bustle immediately runs forward of its
own accord and reattaches itself to the rear of the skirt. You see,
there is a dwarf inside it. The two amateur clowns are getting excited
by this time and execute some impromptu tumbling. One tackles the other
and they roll over and over desperately. In the scuffle one loses both
his hat and skull-cap and flees shamefast from the scene. It is asserted
by our partner that "this went big." He swears it got a laugh. Pat Valdo
hurries off to prepare for his boomerang throwing. Pat is a busy man,
for he is not only a clown, but he and Mrs. Valdo also do wonderful
stunts of their own on Ring Number One.

And there are moments of sheer poetry, too. Into the darkened arena,
crossed by dazzling shafts of light, speeds a big white motor car. Bird
Millman descends, tossing aside her cloak. "A fairy on a cobweb" the
press agents call her, and as two humble clowns watch entranced through
the peepholes in the big doors the phrase seems none too extravagant.
See her, in a foam of short fluffy green skirts, twirl and tiptoe on the
glittering wire, all grace and slenderness and agile enchantment. She
bows in the dazzle of light and kisses her hands to the crowd. Then she
hops into the big car and is borne back behind the scenes. Once behind
the doors her gay vivacity ceases. She sits, wearily, several minutes,
before getting out of the car. And then, later, comes Mlle. Leitzel.
She, like all the other stars, is said to have "amazed all Europe." We
don't know whether Europe is harder to amaze than America. Certainly no
one could be more admiringly astounded than the amateur clowns gazing
entranced through the crack of the doorway. To that nerve-tightening
roll of drums she spins deliriously high up in giddy air, floating, a
tiny human pin-wheel, in a shining cone of light. One can hear the crowd
catch its breath. She walks back, all smiles, while her maid trots ahead
saying something unintelligible. Her tall husband is waiting for her at
the doorway. He catches her up like a child and carries her off, limp
and exhausted. One of the clowns (irreverent creature) makes a piteous
squawk and begs us to carry him to his dressing room.

A trained pig, trotting cheerfully round in search of tidbits, is
retrieved from under the hooves of Mrs. Curtis's horse, which is about
to go out and dance. The dogcatcher's wagon is drawn up ready to rush
forth, and the trained terrier which accompanies it is leaping with
excitement. He regards it as a huge lark, and knows his cue perfectly.
When the right time comes he makes a dash for a clown dressed as an
elderly lady and tears off her skirt. One of the amateurs was allowed to
ride behind the kicking mule, but to his great chagrin the mule did not
kick as well as usual. Here are Charley Chaplin and some others throwing
enormous dice from a barrel. No matter how the dice are thrown they
always turn up seven. Into this animated gamble the amateur clown enters
with enjoyment. All round him the wildest capers are proceeding. The
double-ended flivver is prancing about. John Barleycorn's funeral
procession is going its way. "Give me plenty of space," says Charley
Chaplin to us, "so the people can watch me." We do so, reverently, for
Charley's antics are worth watching. We make a wild dash, and plan to do
a tumble in imitation of Charley's. To our disappointment we find that
instead of sliding our feet dig into the soft sawdust, and the
projected collapse does not arrive. Intoxicated by the rich spice of
circus odours, the booming calliope, the galloping horses, we hardly
know what we are doing half the time. We hear Miss May Wirth, the Wonder
Rider of the World, complaining bitterly that someone got in front of
her when she was doing her particularly special stunt. We wonder
dubiously whether we were the guilty one. Alas, it is all over but the
washing up. Pat Valdo, gentlest of hosts, is taking off his trick hat
with the water cistern concealed in it. He has a clean towel ready for
his grateful pupils.

The band is playing "The Star-Spangled Banner," and all the clowns, in
various stages of undress, stand at attention. Our little peep into the
gay, good-hearted, courageous, and extraordinary world of the circus is
over. Pat and his fellows will go on, twice a day, for the next six
months. It takes patience and endurance. But it must be some consolation
to know that nothing else in the world gives half as much pleasure to so
many people.



HOUSE-HUNTING

[Illustration]


A curious vertigo afflicts the mind of the house-hunter. In the first
place, it is sufficiently maddening to see the settled homes of other
happier souls, all apparently so firmly rooted in a warm soil of
contentment while he floats, an unhappy sea-urchin, in an ocean of
indecision. Furthermore, how confusing (to one who likes to feel himself
somewhat securely established in a familiar spot) the startling panorama
of possible places in which he visualizes himself. One day it is Great
Neck, the next it is Nutley; one day Hollis, the next Englewood; one
day Bronxville, and then Garden City. As the telephone rings, or the
suasive accents of friendly realtors expound the joys and glories of
various regions, his uneasy imagination flits hoppingly about the
compass, conceiving his now vanished household goods reassembled and
implanted in these contrasting scenes.

Startling scenarios are filmed in his reeling mind while he listens,
over the tinkling wire, to the enumeration of rooms, baths, pantries,
mortgages, commuting schedules, commodious closets, open fireplaces, and
what not. In the flash and coruscation of thought he has transported his
helpless family to Yonkers, or to Manhasset, or to Forest Hills, or
wherever it may be, and tries to focus and clarify his vision of what it
would all be like. He sees himself (in a momentary close-up) commuting
on the bland and persevering Erie, or hastening hotly for a Liberty
Street ferry, or changing at Jamaica (that mystic ritual of the Long
Island brotherhood). For an instant he is settled again, with a modest
hearth to return to at dusk ... and then the sorrowful compliment is
paid him and he wonders how the impression got abroad that he is a
millionaire.

There is one consoling aspect of his perplexity, however, and that is
the friendly intercourse he has with high-spirited envoys who represent
real estate firms and take him voyaging to see "properties" in the
country. For these amiable souls he expresses his candid admiration.
Just as when one contemplates the existence of the doctors one knows,
one can never imagine them ill, so one cannot conceive of the friendly
realtor as in any wise distressed or grieved by the problems of the
home. There is something Olympian about them, happy creatures! They deal
only in severely "restricted" tracts. They have a stalwart and serene
optimism. Odd as it seems, one of these friends told us that some people
are so malign as to waste the time of real estate men by going out to
look at houses in the country without the slightest intention of
"acting." As a kind of amusement, indeed! A harmless way of passing an
afternoon, of getting perhaps a free motor ride and enjoying the novelty
of seeing what other people's houses look like inside. But our friend
was convinced of one humble inquirer's passionate sincerity when he saw
him gayly tread the ice floes of rustic Long Island in these days of
slush and slither.

How do these friends of ours, who see humanity in its most painful and
distressing gesture (i.e., when it is making up its mind to part with
some money), manage to retain their fine serenity and blitheness of
spirit? They have to contemplate all the pathetic struggles of
mortality, for what is more pathetic than the spectacle of a man trying
to convince a real estate agent that he is not really a wealthy creature
masking millions behind an eccentric pose of humility? Our genial
adviser Grenville Kleiser, who has been showering his works upon us,
has classified all possible mental defects as follows:

     (_a_) _Too easy acquiescence_

     (_b_) _A mental attitude of contradiction_

     (_c_) _Undue skepticism_

     (_d_) _A dogmatic spirit_

     (_e_) _Lack of firmness of mind_

     (_f_) _A tendency to take extreme views_

     (_g_) _Love of novelty; that is, of what is foreign, ancient,
     unusual, or mysterious._

All these serious weaknesses of judgment may be discerned, in rapid
rotation, in the mind of the house-hunter. It would be only natural, we
think, if the real estate man were to tell him to go away and study Mr.
Kleiser's "How to Build Mental Power." In the meantime, the vision of
the home he had dreamed of becomes fainter and fainter in the seeker's
mind--like the air of a popular song he has heard whistled about the
streets, but does not know well enough to reproduce. How he envies the
light-hearted robins, whose house-hunting consists merely in a gay
flitting from twig to twig. Yet, even in his disturbance and nostalgia
of spirit, he comforts himself with the common consolation of his
cronies--"Oh, well, one always finds something"--and thus (in the words
of good Sir Thomas Browne) teaches his haggard and unreclaimed reason to
stoop unto the lure of Faith.



LONG ISLAND REVISITED


The anfractuosities of legal procedure having caused us to wonder
whether there really were any such place as the home we have just
bought, we thought we would go out to Salamis, L. I., and have a look at
it. Of course we knew it had been there a few weeks ago, but the title
companies do confuse one so. We had been sitting for several days in the
office of the most delightful lawyer in the world (and if we did not
fear that all the other harassed and beset creatures in these parts
would instantly rush to lay their troubles in his shrewd and friendly
bosom we would mention his name right here and do a little metrical
pirouette in his honour)--we had been sitting there, we say, watching
the proceedings, without the slightest comprehension of what was
happening. It is really quite surprising, let us add, to find how many
people are suddenly interested in some quiet, innocent-looking shebang
nestling off in a quiet dingle in the country, and how, when it is to be
sold, they all bob up from their coverts in Flushing, Brooklyn, or Long
Island City, and have to be "satisfied." What floods of papers go
crackling across the table, drawn out from those mysterious brown
cardboard wallets; what quaint little jests pass between the emissaries
of the title company and the legal counsel of the seller, jests that
seem to bear upon the infirmity of human affairs and cause the
well-wishing adventurer to wonder whether he had ever sufficiently
pondered the strange tissue of mortal uncertainties that hides behind
every earthly venture ... there was, for instance, occasional reference
to a vanished gentleman who had once crossed the apparently innocent
proscenium of our estate and had skipped, leaving someone six thousand
dollars to the bad; this ingenious buccaneer was, apparently, the only
one who did not have to be "satisfied." At any rate, we thought that we,
who entered so modestly and obscurely into this whole affair, being only
the purchaser, would finally satisfy ourself, too, by seeing if the
property was still there.

Long Island and spring--the conjunction gives us a particular thrill.
There are more beautiful places than the Long Island flats, but it was
there that we earned our first pay envelope, and it was there that we
first set up housekeeping; and as long as we live the station platform
of Jamaica will move us strangely--not merely from one train to another,
but also inwardly. There is no soil that receives a more brimming
benison of sunshine than Long Island in late April. As the train moves
across the plain it seems to swim in a golden tide of light. Billboards
have been freshly painted and announce the glories of phonographs in
screaming scarlets and purples, or the number of miles that divide you
from a Brooklyn department store. Out at Hillside the stones that
demarcate the territory of an old-fashioned house are new and snowily
whitewashed. At Hollis the trees are a cloud of violent mustard-yellow
(the colour of a safety-matchbox label). Magnolias (if that is what they
are) are creamy pink. Moving vans are bustling along the road. Across
the wide fields of Bellaire there is a view of the brown woods on the
ridge, turning a faint olive as the leaves gain strength. Gus Wuest's
roadhouse at Queens looks inviting as of old, and the red-brown of the
copper beeches reminds one of the tall amber beakers. Here is the little
park by the station in Queens, the flag on the staff, the forsythia
bushes the colour of scrambled eggs.

Is it the influence of the Belmont Park race track? There seem to be, in
the smoking cars, a number of men having the air of those accustomed to
associate (in a not unprofitable way) with horses. Here is one, a
handsome person, who holds our eye as a bright flower might. He wears a
flowing overcoat of fleecy fawn colour and a derby of biscuit brown. He
has a gray suit and joyful socks of heavy wool, yellow and black and
green in patterned squares which are so vivid they seem cubes rather
than squares. He has a close-cut dark moustache, his shaven cheeks are a
magnificent sirloin tint, his chin splendidly blue by the ministration
of the razor. His shirt is blue with a stripe of sunrise pink, and the
collar to match. He talks briskly and humorously to two others, leaning
over in the seat behind them. As he argues, we see his brown low shoe
tapping on the floor. One can almost see his foot think. It pivots
gently on the heel, the toe wagging in air, as he approaches the climax
of each sentence. Every time he drives home a point in his talk down
comes the whole foot, softly, but firmly. He relights his cigar in the
professional manner, not by inhaling as he applies the match, but by
holding the burned portion in the flame, away from his mouth, until it
has caught. His gold watch has a hunting case; when he has examined it,
it shuts again with a fine rich snap, which we can hear even above the
noise of the car.

On this early morning train there are others voyaging for amusement.
Here are two golfing zealots, puffing pipes and discussing with amazing
persistence the minutiæ of their sport. Their remarks are addressed to a
very fashionable-looking curate, whose manners are superb. Whether he is
going to play golf we know not; at any rate, he smiles mildly and
politely to all they say. Perhaps he is going round the course with
them, in the hope of springing some ecclesiastical strategy while they
are softened and chastened by the glee of the game. The name of their
Maker, it is only fair to suspect, has more than once been mentioned on
the putting green; and if it should slip out, the curate will seize the
cue and develop it. In the meantime, one of the enthusiasts (while his
companion is silenced in the act of lighting his pipe) is explaining to
the cloth how his friend plays golf. "I'll tell you how he plays," he
says. "Imagine him sitting down in a low chair and swinging a club. Then
take the chair away and he still keeps the same position. That's what he
looks like when he drives." The curate smiles at this and prepares his
face to smile with equal gentleness when the other retorts.

After Floral Park the prospect becomes more plainly rural. The Mineola
trolley zooms along, between wide fields of tilled brown earth. There is
an occasional cow; here and there a really old barn and farmhouse
standing, incongruously, among the settlements of modern kindling-wood
cottages; and a mysterious agricultural engine at work with a spinning
fly-wheel. Against the bright horizon stand the profiles of Garden City:
the thin cathedral spire, the bulk of St. Paul's school, the white
cupola of the hotel. The tree-lined vistas of Mineola are placidly
simmering in the morning sun. A white dog with erect and curly tail
trots very purposefully round the corner of the First National Bank. We
think that we see the spreading leaves of some rhubarb plants in a
garden; and there are some of those (to us very enigmatic, as we are no
gardener) little glass window frames set in the soil, as though a whole
house, shamed by the rent the owner wanted to charge, had sunk out of
sight, leaving only a skylight.

As we leave East Williston we approach more interesting country, with a
semblance of hills, and wooded thickets still brownly tapestried with
the dry funeral of last year's leaves. On the trees the new foliage
sways in little clusters, catching the light like the wings of perching
green butterflies. Some of the buds are a coppery green, some a burning
red, but the prevailing colour is the characteristic sulphur yellow of
early spring. And now we are set down at Salamis, where the first and
most surprising impression is of the unexpected abundance of competitive
taxicabs. Having reached the terminus of our space, we can only add that
we found our estate still there--and there are a few stalks of rhubarb
surviving from an earlier plantation.



ON BEING IN A HURRY


New York is a perplexing city to loaf in. (Walt Whitman if he came back
to Mannahatta would soon get brain fever.) During the middle hours of
the day, at any rate, it is almost impossible to idle with the proper
spirit and completeness. There is a prevailing bustle and skirmish that
"exerts a compulsion," as President Wilson would say. The air is
electric and nervous. We have often tried to dawdle gently about the
neighbourhood of the City Hall in the lunch hour, to let the general
form and spirit of that clearing among the cliffs sink into our mind, so
that we could get some picture of it. We have sat under a big brown
umbrella, to have our shoes shined, when we had nothing more important
to do than go to the doughnut foundry on Park Row and try some of those
delectable combinations of foods they have there, such as sponge cake
with whipped cream and chocolate fudge. And in a few seconds we have
found ourself getting all stirred up and crying loudly to the artist
that we only wanted a once-over, as we had an important appointment. You
have to put a very heavy brake on your spirit in downtown New York or
you find yourself dashing about in a prickle of excitement, gloriously
happy just to be in a hurry, without particularly caring whither you are
hastening, or why.

[Illustration]

One of the odd things about being in a hurry is that it seems so
fiercely important when you yourself are the hurrier and so comically
ludicrous when it is someone else. We see our friend Artaxerxes
scorching up Church Street and we scream with laughter at him, because
we know perfectly well that there is absolutely not one of his affairs
important enough to cause him to buzz along like that. We look after him
with a sort of mild and affectionate pity for a deluded creature who
thinks that his concerns are of such glorious magnitude. And then, a few
hours later, we find ourself on a subway car with only ten minutes to
catch the train for Salamis at Atlantic Avenue. And what is our state of
mind? We stand, gritting our teeth (we are too excited to sit, even if
there were a seat) and holding our watch. The whole train, it seems to
us, is occupied by invalids, tottering souls and lumbago cripples, who
creep off at the stations as though five seconds made not the slightest
difference. We glare and fume and could gladly see them all maced in
sunder with battle-axes. Nothing, it seems to us, could soothe our
bitter hunger for haste but to have a brilliant Lexington Avenue express
draw up at the platform with not a soul in it. Out would step a polite
guard, looking at his watch. "You want to catch a train at 5:27?" he
asks. "Yes, sir, yes, sir; step aboard." All the other competitors are
beaten back with knotted thongs and we are ushered to a seat. The bells
go chiming in quick sequence up the length of the train and we are off
at top speed, flying wildly past massed platforms of indignant people.
We draw up at Atlantic Avenue, and the solitary passenger, somewhat
appeased, steps off. "Compliments of the Interborough, sir," says the
guard.

The commuter, urgently posting toward the 5:27, misses the finest
flavour of the city's life, for it is in the two or three hours after
office work is over that the town is at her best. What a spry and
smiling mood is shown along the pavements, particularly on these clear,
warm evenings when the dropping sun pours a glowing tide of soft rosy
light along the cross-town streets. There is a cool lightness in the
air; restaurants are not yet crowded (it is, let us say, a little after
six) and beside snowy tablecloths the waiters stand indulgently with
folded arms. Everybody seems in a blithe and spirited humour. Work is
over for the day, and now what shall we do for amusement? This is the
very peak of living, it seems to us, as we sally cheerily along the
street. It is like the beginning of an O. Henry story. The streets are
fluttering with beautiful women; light summer frocks are twinkling in
the busy frolic air. Oh, to be turned loose at the corner of Broadway
and Thirty-second Street at 6:15 o'clock of a June evening, with nothing
to do but follow the smile of adventure to the utmost! Thirty-second, we
might add, is our favourite street in New York. It saddens us to think
that the old boarding house on the corner of Madison Avenue is vanished
now and all those quaint and humorous persons dispersed. We can still
remember the creak of the long stairs and the clink of a broken slab in
the tiled flooring of the hall as one walked down to the dining room.

Affection for any particular street largely depends on the associations
it has accumulated in one's mind. For several years most of our
adventures in New York centred round Thirty-second Street; but its
physique has changed so much lately that it has lost some of its appeal.
We remember an old stone-yard that used to stand where the Pennsylvania
Hotel is now, a queer jumbled collection of odd carvings and relics. At
the front door there was a bust of Pan on a tall pedestal, which used to
face us with a queer crooked grin twice a day, morning and evening. We
had a great affection for that effigy, and even wrote a little piece
about him in one of the papers, for which we got about $4 at a time
when it was considerably needed. We used to say to ourself that some day
when we had a home in the country we would buy Pan and set him in a Long
Island garden where he would feel more at home than in the dusty winds
of Thirty-second Street. Time went on and we disappeared from our old
haunts, and when we came back Pan had vanished, too. You may imagine our
pleasure when we found him again the other day standing in front of a
chop house on Forty-fourth Street.

But one great addition to the delights of the Thirty-second Street
region is the new and shining white tunnel that leads one from the Penn
Station subway platform right into the heart of what used (we think) to
be called Greeley Square. It is so dazzling and candid in its new tiling
that it seems rather like a vast hospital corridor. One emerges through
the Hudson Tube station and perhaps sets one's course for a little
restaurant on Thirty-fifth Street which always holds first place in our
affection. It is somewhat declined from its former estate, for the upper
floors, where the violent orchestra was and the smiling little
dandruffian used to sing solos when the evening grew glorious, are now
rented to a feather and ostrich plume factory. But the old basement is
still there, much the same in essentials, by which we mean the pickled
beet appetizers, the minestrone soup, the delicious soft bread with its
brittle crust, and the thick slices of rather pale roast beef swimming
in thin, pinkish gravy. And the three old French waiters, hardened in
long experience of the frailties of mortality, smile to see a former
friend. One, grinning upon us rather bashfully, recalls the time when
there was a hilarious Oriental wedding celebrating in a private room
upstairs and two young men insisted on going in to dance with the bride.
He has forgiven various pranks, we can see, though he was wont to be
outraged at the time. "Getting very stout," he says, beaming down at us.
"You weigh a hundred pounds more than you used to." This is not merely
cruel; it is untrue. We refrain from retorting on the growth of his bald
spot.



CONFESSIONS OF A HUMAN GLOBULE


As a matter of fact, we find the evening subway jam very restful. Being
neatly rounded in contour, with just a gentle bulge around the
equatorial transit, we have devised a very satisfactory system. We make
for the most crowded car we can find, and having buffeted our way in, we
are perfectly serene. Once properly wedged, and provided no one in the
immediate neighbourhood is doing anything with any garlic (it is well to
avoid the vestibules if one is squeamish in that particular) we lift our
feet off the floor, tuck them into the tail of our overcoat, and remain
blissfully suspended in midair from Chambers Street to Ninety-sixth. The
pressure of our fellow-passengers, powerfully impinging upon the
globular perimeter we spoke of, keeps us safely elevated above the
floor. We have had some leather stirrups sewed into the bottom of our
overcoat, in which we slip our feet to keep them from dangling
uncomfortably. Another feature of our technique is that we always go
into the car with our arms raised and crossed neatly on our chest, so
that they will not be caught and pinioned to our flanks. In that
position, once we are gently nested among the elastic mass of genial
humanity, it is easy to draw out from our waistcoat pocket our copy of
Boethius's "Consolations of Philosophy" and really get in a little
mental improvement. Or, if we have forgotten the book, we gently droop
our head into our overcoat collar, lay it softly against the shoulder of
the tall man who is always handy, and pass into a tranquil nescience.

The subway is a great consolation to the philosopher if he knows how to
make the most of it. Think how many people one encounters and never sees
again.



NOTES ON A FIFTH AVENUE BUS

[Illustration]


Far down the valley of the Avenue the traffic lights wink in unison,
green, yellow, red, changing their colours with well-drilled promptness.
It is cold: a great wind flaps and tangles the flags; the tops of the
buses are almost empty. That brisk April air seems somehow in key with
the mood of the Avenue--hard, plangent, glittering, intensely material.
It is a proud, exultant, exhilarating street; it fills the mind with
strange liveliness. A magnificent pomp of humanity--what a flux of
lacquered motors, what a twinkling of spats along the pavements! On what
other of the world's great highways would one find churches named for
the material of which they are built?--the _Brick Church_, the _Marble
Church_! It is not a street for loitering--there is an eager, ambitious
humour in its blood; one walks fast, revolving schemes of worldly
dominion. Only on the terrace in front of the Public Library is there
any temptation for tarrying and consideration. There one may pause and
study the inscription--_But Above All Things Truth Beareth Away the
Victory_ ... of course the true eloquence of the words lies in the
_But_. Much reason for that _But_, implying a previous contradiction--on
the Avenue's part? Sometimes, pacing vigorously in that river of lovely
pride and fascination, one might have suspected that other things bore
away the victory--spats, diamond necklaces, smoky blue furs nestling
under lovely chins.... Hullo! here is a sign, "Headquarters of the Save
New York Committee." Hum! Save from what? There was a time when the
great charm of New York lay in the fact that it didn't want to be saved.
Who is it that the lions in front of the Public Library remind us of? We
have so often pondered. Let's see: the long slanting brow, the head
thrown back, the haughty and yet genial abstraction--to be sure, it's
Vachel Lindsay!

We defy the most resolute philosopher to pass along the giddy, enticing,
brilliant vanity of that superb promenade and not be just a little moved
by worldly temptation.



SUNDAY MORNING


It was a soft, calm morning of sunshine and placid air. Clear and cool,
it was "a Herbert Spencer of a day," as H. G. Wells once remarked. The
vista of West Ninety-eighth Street, that engaging alcove in the city's
enormous life, was all freshness and kempt tranquillity, from the gray
roof of the old training ship at the river side up to the tall red spire
near Columbus Avenue. This pinnacle, which ripens to a fine claret
colour when suffused with sunset, we had presumed to be a church tower,
but were surprised, on exploration, to find it a standpipe of some sort
connected with the Croton water system.

Sunday morning in this neighbourhood has its own distinct character.
There is a certain air of luxurious ease in the picture. One has a
feeling that in those tall apartment houses there are a great many
ladies taking breakfast in negligée. They are wearing (if one may trust
the shop windows along Broadway) boudoir caps and mules. Mules, like
their namesakes in the animal world, are hybrid things, the offspring of
a dancing pump and a bedroom slipper. They are distinctly futile, but no
matter, no matter. Wearing mules, however, is not a mere vanity; it is
a form of physical culture, for these skimpish little things are always
disappearing under the bed, and crawling after them keeps one slender.
Again we say, no matter. This is no concern of ours.

[Illustration]

Near Broadway a prosperous and opulently tailored costume emerges from
an apartment house: cutaway coat, striped trousers, very long pointed
patent leather shoes with lilac cloth tops. Within this gear, we
presently see, is a human being, in the highest spirits. "All set!" he
says, joining a group of similars waiting by a shining limousine. Among
these, one lady of magnificently millinered aspect, and a smallish man
in very new and shiny riding boots, of which he is grandly conscious.
There are introductions. "Mr. Goldstone, meet Mrs. Silverware." They are
met. There is a flashing of eyes. Three or four silk hats simultaneously
leap into the shining air, are flourished and replaced. The observer is
aware of the prodigious gayety and excitement of life. All climb into
the car and roll away down Broadway. All save the little man in riding
boots. He is left on the sidewalk, gallantly waving his hand. Come, we
think, he is going riding. A satiny charger waits somewhere round the
corner. We will follow and see. He slaps his hunting crop against his
glorious boots, which are the hue of quebracho wood. No; to our chagrin,
he descends into the subway.

We sit on the shoeshining stand on Ninety-sixth Street, looking over the
Sunday papers. Very odd, in the adjoining chairs men are busily engaged
polishing shoes that have nobody in them, not visibly, at any rate.
Perhaps Sir Oliver is right after all. While we are not watching, the
beaming Italian has inserted a new pair of laces for us. Long afterward,
at bedtime, we find that he has threaded them in that unique way known
only to shoe merchants and polishers, by which every time they are tied
and untied one end of the lace gets longer and the other shorter. Life
is full of needless complexities. We descend the hill. Already (it is
9:45 A. M.) men are playing tennis on the courts at the corner of West
End Avenue. A great wagon crammed with scarlet sides of beef comes
stumbling up the hill, drawn, with difficulty, by five horses.

When we get down to the Ninety-Sixth Street pier we see the barque
_Windrush_ lying near by with the airy triangles of her rigging
pencilled against the sky, and look amorously on the gentle curve of her
strakes (if that is what they are). We feel that it would be a fine
thing to be off soundings, greeting the bounding billow, not to say the
bar-room steward; and yet, being a cautious soul of reservations all
compact, we must admit that about the time we got abreast of New Dorp
we would be homesick for our favourite subway station.

The pier, despite its deposit of filth, bales of old shoes, reeking
barrels, scows of rubbish, sodden papers, boxes of broken bottles and a
thick paste of dust and ash-powder everywhere, is a happy lounging
ground for a few idlers on Sunday morning. A large cargo steamer, the
_Eclipse_, lay at the wharf, standing very high out of the water. Three
small boys were watching a peevish old man tending his fishing lines,
fastened to wires with little bells on them. "What do you catch here?"
we said. Just then one of the little bells gave a cracked tinkle and the
angler pulled up a small fish, wriggling briskly, about three inches
long. This seemed to anger him. He seemed to consider himself in some
way humiliated by the incident. He grunted. One of the small boys was
tactful. "Oh, gee!" he said. "Sometimes you catch fish that long,"
indicating a length which began at about a yard and diminished to about
eighteen inches as he meditated. "I don't know what kind they are," he
said. "They're not trouts, but some other kind of fish."

This started the topic of relative sizes, always fascinating to small
boys. "That's a pretty big boat," said one, craning up at the tall stem
of the _Eclipse_. "Oh, gee, that ain't big!" said another. "You ought to
see some of the Cunard boats, the _Olympic_ or the _Baltic_."

On Riverside Drive horseback riders were cantering down the bridlepath,
returning from early outings. The squirrels, already grossly overfed,
were brooding languidly that another day of excessive peanuts was at
hand. Behind a rapidly spinning limousine pedalled a grotesquely humped
bicyclist, using the car as a pacemaker. He throbbed fiercely just
behind the spare tire, with his face bent down into a rich travelling
cloud of gasoline exhaust. An odd way of enjoying one's self! Children
were coming out in troops, with their nurses, for the morning air. Here
was a little boy with a sailor hat, and on the band a gilt legend that
was new to us. Instead of the usual naval slogan, it simply said
_Democracy_. This interested us, as later in the day we saw another,
near the goldfish pond in Central Park. Behind the cashier's grill of a
Broadway drug store the good-tempered young lady was reading Zane Grey.
"I love his books," she said, "but they make me want to break loose and
go out West."



VENISON PASTY

[Illustration]


The good old days are gone, we have been frequently and authoritatively
assured; and yet, sitting in an agreeable public on William Street where
the bright eye of our friend Harold Phillips discerned _venison pasty_
on the menu, and listening to a seafaring man describe a recent "blow"
off Hatteras during which he stood four hours up to his waist in the
bilges, and watching our five jocund companions dismiss no less than
twenty-one beakers of cider, we felt no envy whatever for the ancients
of the Mermaid Tavern. After venison pasty, and feeling somewhat in the
mood of Robin Hood and Friar Tuck, we set off with our friend Endymion
for a stroll through the wilderness. The first adventure of note that we
encountered was the curb market on Broad Street, where we stood
entranced at the merry antics of the brokers. This, however, is a
spectacle that no layman can long contemplate and still deem himself
sane. That sea of flickering fingers, the hubbub of hoarse cries, and
the enigmatic gestures of youths framed in the open windows gave an
impression of something fierce and perilous happening. Endymion, still
deeming himself in Sherwood Forest, insisted that this was the abode of
the Sheriff of Nottingham. "Stout deeds are toward!" he cried. "These
villain wights have a damsel imprisoned in yonder keep!" With difficulty
we restrained him from pressing to the rescue of the lady (for indeed we
could see her, comely enough, appearing now and then at one of the
windows; and anon disappearing, abashed at the wild throng). But
gradually we realized that no such dire matter was being transacted, for
the knights, despite occasional spasms of hot gesticulating fury, were
mild and meant her no ill. One, after a sudden flux of business
concerning (it seemed) 85 shares of Arizona Copper, fell suddenly
placid, and was eating chocolate ice cream from a small paper plate.
Young gallants, wearing hats trimmed with variegated brightly coloured
stuffs (the favours of their ladies, we doubted not), were conferring
together, but without passion or rancour.

We have a compact with our friend Endymion that as soon as either of us
spends money for anything not strictly necessary he must straightway
return to the office. After leaving the curb market, we found ourselves
in a basement bookshop on Broadway, and here Endymion fell afoul of a
copy of Thomas Hardy's "Wessex Poems," illustrated by the author.
Piteously he tried to persuade us that it was a matter of professional
advancement to him to have this book; moreover, he said, he had just won
five dollars at faro (or some such hazard) so that he was not really
spending money at all; but we countered all his sophisms with slogging
rhetoric. He bought the book, and so had to return to the office in
disgrace.

We fared further, having a mind to revisit the old Eastern Hotel, down
by the South Ferry, of whose cool and dusky bar-room we had pleasant
memories in times gone by; but we found to our distress that this also,
like many more of our familiar landmarks, is a prey to the
house-wrecker, and is on its way to become an office building. On our
way back up Broadway it occurred to us to revisit what we have long
considered one of the most impressive temples in our acquaintance, the
lobby of the Telephone and Telegraph Building, on Dey Street. Here,
passing by the enticing little terrace with brocaded chairs and soft
lights where two gracious ladies sit to interview aspiring telephone
débutantes, one stands in a dim golden glow, among great fluted pillars
and bowls of softly burning radiance swung (like censers) by long
chains. Occasionally there is an airy flutter, a bell clangs, bronze
doors slide apart, and an elevator appears, in charge of a chastely
uniformed priestess. Lights flash up over this dark little cave which
stands invitingly open: UP, they say, LOCAL 1-13. The door-sill of the
cave shines with a row of golden beads (small lights, to guide the
foot)--it is irresistible. There is an upward impulse about the whole
place: the light blossoms upward from the hanging translucent shells:
people step gently in, the doors close, they are not seen again. It is
the temple of the great American religion, _Going Up_. The shining gold
stars in the ceiling draw the eye aloft. The temptation is too great. We
step into the little bronze crypt, say "Thirteen" at a venture, and are
borne softly and fluently up. Then, of course, we have to come down
again, past the wagons of spring onions on Fulton Street, and back to
the office.



GRAND AVENUE, BROOKLYN


We have always been a strong partisan of Brooklyn, and when we found
ourself, in company with Titania, set down in the middle of a golden
afternoon with the vista of Grand Avenue before us, we felt highly
elated. Just how these two wayfarers chanced to be deposited in that
quiet serenity, so far from their customary concerns, is not part of the
narrative.

There are regions of Brooklyn, we have always felt, that are too good to
be real. Placid stretches of streets, with baby carriages simmering in
the sun, solid and comfortable brownstone houses exhaling a prosperous
condition of life, tranquil old-fashioned apothecaries' shops without
soda fountains, where one peers in and sees only a solitary customer
turning over the pages of a telephone book. It is all rather like a
chapter from a story, and reminds us of a passage in "The Dynamiter"
where some untroubled faubourgs of London are winningly described.

Titania was wearing a little black hat with green feathers. She looked
her best, and was not unaware of it. Our general plan, when destiny
suddenly plumps us into the heart of Brooklyn, is to make our way
toward Fulton Street, which is a kind of life-line. Once on Fulton
Street we know our way. Moreover, Fulton Street has admirable
second-hand bookshops. Nor do we ever forget that it was at the corner
of Fulton and Cranberry streets that "Leaves of Grass" was set up, in
the spring of 1855, Walt doing a good deal of the work himself. The only
difficulty about getting to Fulton Street is that people will give you
such contradictory instruction. One will tell you to go this way; the
next will point in the opposite direction. It is as though Brooklynites
suspect the presence of a stranger, and do not wish their sacred secrets
to be discovered. There is a deep, mysterious freemasonry among the
residents of this genial borough.

At the corner of Grand and Greene avenues we thought it well to ask our
way. A lady was standing on the corner, lost in pleasant drowse. April
sunshine shimmered all about: trees were bustling into leaf, a wagonload
of bananas stood by the curb and the huckster sang a gay, persuasive
madrigal. We approached the lady, and Titania spoke gently: "Can you
tell me----" The lady screamed, and leaped round in horror, her face
stricken with fearful panic. She gasped and tottered. We felt guilty and
cruel. "We were not meditating an attack," we said, "but just wanted to
ask you the way to Fulton Street." Perhaps the poor soul's nerves were
unstrung, for she gave us instruction that we felt instinctively to be
wrong. Had we gone as she said (we now see by studying the map) we would
have debouched into Wallabout Bay. But undoubtedly it was the protective
instinct of the Brooklynite, on guard before strangers. Is there some
terrific secret in Brooklyn that all residents know about but which must
never be revealed to outsiders?

Making a mental note not to speak too suddenly at the next encounter,
the two cheerful derelicts drifted along the sunny coast of Grand
Avenue. A shining and passionless peace presided over the streets. A
gentle clop-clop of hooves came trotting down the way: here was a man
driving a white horse in a neat rubber-tired buggy without a top. He
leaned back and smiled to himself as he drove along. Life did not seem
to be the same desperate venture it appears round about Broadway and
Wall Street. Who can describe the settled amiability of those rows of
considerable brown houses, with their heavy oak doors, their pots of
daisies on the stoop, their clear window panes, and now and then the
face of a benignant grandmother peeping from behind lace curtains. The
secret of Brooklyn, perhaps, is contentment, and its cautious residents
do not want the rest of us to know too much about it, lest we all flock
over there in swarms.

We then came to the bustle of Fulton Street, which deserves a book in
itself. Some day we want to revisit a certain section of Fulton Street
where (if we remember rightly) a rotisserie and a certain bookstore
conspire to make one of the pleasantest haunts in our experience. We
don't know exactly what the secret of Brooklyn may be, but we are going
to spend some time over there this spring and lie in wait for it.



ON WAITING FOR THE CURTAIN TO GO UP

[Illustration]


We often wonder whether people are really as human as they appear, or is
it only our imagination? Everybody, we suggest, thinks of others as
being excessively human, with all the frailties and crotchets
appertaining to that curious condition. But each of us also (we are not
dogmatic on this matter) seems to regard himself as existing on a
detached plane of observation, exempt (save in moments of vivid crisis)
from the strange whims of humanity en masse.

For example, consider the demeanour of people at a theatre while waiting
for the curtain to go up. To note the censoriousness with which they
study each other, one concludes that each deems himself (herself)
singularly blessed as the repository of human correctness.

Incidentally, why is it that one gets so thirsty at the theatre? We
never get thirsty at the movies, or not nearly so thirsty. The other
evening we drank seven paper cups full of water in the intermissions of
a four-act play.

The presence of people sitting behind one is the reason (we fancy) for a
great deal of the queer antics that take place while one is waiting for
the curtain to rise, particularly when it is twenty minutes late in
going up as it was at a certain theatre the other evening. People behind
one have a horrible advantage. One knows that they can hear everything
you say, unless you whisper it in a furtive manner, which makes them
suspect things far worse than any one would be likely to say in a
Philadelphia theatre, except, of course, on the stage. The fact that you
know they can overhear you, and intend to do so, leads one on to make
the most outrageous, cynical, and scoffish remarks, particularly to
denounce with fury a play that you may be enjoying quite passably well.
All over the house you will hear (after the first act) men saying to
their accompanying damsels, "How outrageously clumsy that act was. I
can't conceive how the director let it get by." Now they only say this
because they think it will make the people behind feel ashamed for
having enjoyed such a botch. But does it? The people in the row behind
immediately begin to praise the play vigorously, for the benefit of the
people behind _them_; and in a minute you see the amusing spectacle of
the theatre cheering and damning by alternate rows.

Here and there you will see a lady whispering something to her escort,
and will notice how ladies always look backward over a lily shoulder
while whispering. They want to see what effect this whispering will have
on the people behind. There is a deep-rooted feud between every two rows
in an audience. The front row, having nobody to hate (except possibly
the actors), take it out in speculating why on earth anybody can want to
sit in the boxes, where they can see nothing.

What the boxes think about we are not sure. We never sat in a box except
at a burlicue.

And then a complete essay might be written on the ads in the theatre
program--what high-spirited ads they are! How full of the savour and
luxurious tang of the _beau monde_! How they insist on saying
_specialité_ instead of specialty!

Well, all we meant to say when we began was, the heroine was Only
Fair--by which we mean to say she was beautiful and nothing else.



MUSINGS OF JOHN MISTLETOE


It was old John Mistletoe, we think, in his "Book of Deplorable Facts,"
discussing the congenial topic of "Going to Bed" (or was it in his essay
on "The Concinnity of Washerwomen?") said something like this:

     Life passes by with deplorable rapidity. _Post commutatorem sedet
     horologium terrificum_, behind the commuter rideth the alarm
     clock, no sooner hath he attained to the office than it is time
     for lunch, no sooner hath lunch been dispatched than it is time
     to sign those dictated letters, no sooner this accomplished, 'tis
     time to hasten trainward. The essential thing, then, is not to
     let one's experiences flow irrevocably past like a river, but to
     clutch and hold them, thoughtfully, long enough to examine and,
     in a manner, sieve them, to halt them in the mind for meditation.
     The relentless fluidity of life, the ease with which it vanisheth
     down the channel of the days, is the problem the thoughtful man
     must deal with. The urgent necessity is to dam the stream here
     and there so we can go swimming in it.

     Time is a breedy creature: the minutes propagate hours, the hours
     beget days, the days raise huge families of months, and before we
     know it we are crowded out of this sweet life by mere surplus of
     Time's offspring. This is a brutish Malthusianism which must be
     adamantly countered. Therefore it is my counsel that every man,
     ere he retire for the night and commit his intellect to
     inscrutable nothingness, do let it hop abroad for a little
     freedom. Life must be taken with a grain of saltation: let the
     spirit dance a measure or two ere it collapse. For this purpose
     it is my pleasure, about the hour of midnight, to draw a jug of
     cider from the keg and a book from the shelf. I choose some
     volume ill written and stupidly conceived, to set me in conceit
     with myself. I read a few pages, and then apply myself to the
     composition of verses. These done, I burn them, and go to bed
     with a cheerful spirit.



THE WORLD'S MOST FAMOUS ORATION

Address to An Employer Upon Demanding a Raise, or, The Battle of
Manila Envelopes


    _As Planned_                          _As Delivered_

I think you will admit,                 If you are not too
sir, that the quality                   busy, sir, there is one
of my work during the                   other matter--in fact,
last two years has been                 the truth of the matter
such that my services                   in fact is exactly--well,
could not easily be replaced.           sir, I was precisely
I speak more                            wondering whether--of
in pain than in anger                   course I know this is a
when I say that it has                  bad time--indeed I have
been a matter of profound               been very pleased to see
surprise to me to                       business picking up a
note that you have not                  bit lately, and I am sure
seen fit to acknowledge                 my own department has
my value to the firm in                 been--but to tell you the
some substantial way. I                 truth, sir, I have been
think I may say that                    wondering--of course it
I have been patient.                    is just as you think best
I have continued my                     and I wouldn't think of
efforts with unremitting                insisting, but after all,
zeal, and I think I may                 perhaps I have made a
flatter myself that my                  mistake in mentioning
endeavors have not been                 it, but I was thinking
without result. I have                  that possibly you might
here, carefully tabulated,              bear in mind the idea of
a memorandum of                         a possible future raise in
the increased profits in                salary at some future time.
my department during
the last twelve months,
due in great part to my
careful management. I
am sorry to have to
force you into a decision,
but I think I owe it to
myself to say candidly
that unless you see the
matter in the same way
that I do I shall feel
obliged to deprive the
firm of my services.



ON LAZINESS

[Illustration]


To-day we rather intended to write an essay on Laziness, but were too
indolent to do so.

The sort of thing we had in mind to write would have been exceedingly
persuasive. We intended to discourse a little in favour of a greater
appreciation of Indolence as a benign factor in human affairs.

It is our observation that every time we get into trouble it is due to
not having been lazy enough. Unhappily, we were born with a certain fund
of energy. We have been hustling about for a number of years now, and
it doesn't seem to get us anything but tribulation. Henceforward we are
going to make a determined effort to be more languid and demure. It is
the bustling man who always gets put on committees, who is asked to
solve the problems of other people and neglect his own.

The man who is really, thoroughly, and philosophically slothful is the
only thoroughly happy man. It is the happy man who benefits the world.
The conclusion is inescapable.

We remember a saying about the meek inheriting the earth. The truly meek
man is the lazy man. He is too modest to believe that any ferment and
hubbub of his can ameliorate the earth or assuage the perplexities of
humanity.

O. Henry said once that one should be careful to distinguish laziness
from dignified repose. Alas, that was a mere quibble. Laziness is always
dignified, it is always reposeful. Philosophical laziness, we mean. The
kind of laziness that is based upon a carefully reasoned analysis of
experience. Acquired laziness. We have no respect for those who were
born lazy; it is like being born a millionaire: they cannot appreciate
their bliss. It is the man who has hammered his laziness out of the
stubborn material of life for whom we chant praise and allelulia.

The laziest man we know--we do not like to mention his name, as the
brutal world does not yet recognize sloth at its community value--is
one of the greatest poets in this country; one of the keenest satirists;
one of the most rectilinear thinkers. He began life in the customary
hustling way. He was always too busy to enjoy himself. He became
surrounded by eager people who came to him to solve their problems.
"It's a queer thing," he said sadly; "no one ever comes to me asking for
help in solving _my_ problems." Finally the light broke upon him. He
stopped answering letters, buying lunches for casual friends and
visitors from out of town, he stopped lending money to old college pals
and frittering his time away on all the useless minor matters that
pester the good-natured. He sat down in a secluded café with his cheek
against a seidel of dark beer and began to caress the universe with his
intellect.

The most damning argument against the Germans is that they were not lazy
enough. In the middle of Europe, a thoroughly disillusioned, indolent
and delightful old continent, the Germans were a dangerous mass of
energy and bumptious push. If the Germans had been as lazy, as
indifferent, and as righteously laissez-fairish as their neighbours, the
world would have been spared a great deal.

People respect laziness. If you once get a reputation for complete,
immovable, and reckless indolence the world will leave you to your own
thoughts, which are generally rather interesting.

Doctor Johnson, who was one of the world's great philosophers, was lazy.
Only yesterday our friend the Caliph showed us an extraordinarily
interesting thing. It was a little leather-bound notebook in which
Boswell jotted down memoranda of his talks with the old doctor. These
notes he afterward worked up into the immortal Biography. And lo and
behold, what was the very first entry in this treasured little relic?

     Doctor Johnson told me in going to Ilam from Ashbourne, 22
     September, 1777, that the way the plan of his Dictionary came to
     be addressed to Lord Chesterfield was this: He had neglected to
     write it by the time appointed. Dodsley suggested a desire to
     have it addressed to Lord C. Mr. J. laid hold of this as an
     excuse for delay, that it might be better done perhaps, and let
     Dodsley have his desire. Mr. Johnson said to his friend, Doctor
     Bathurst: "Now if any good comes of my addressing to Lord
     Chesterfield it will be ascribed to deep policy and address,
     when, in fact, it was only a casual excuse for laziness."

Thus we see that it was sheer laziness that led to the greatest triumph
of Doctor Johnson's life, the noble and memorable letter to Chesterfield
in 1775.

Mind your business is a good counsel; but mind your idleness also. It's
a tragic thing to make a business of your mind. Save your mind to amuse
yourself with.

The lazy man does not stand in the way of progress. When he sees
progress roaring down upon him he steps nimbly out of the way. The lazy
man doesn't (in the vulgar phrase) pass the buck. He lets the buck pass
him. We have always secretly envied our lazy friends. Now we are going
to join them. We have burned our boats or our bridges or whatever it is
that one burns on the eve of a momentous decision.

Writing on this congenial topic has roused us up to quite a pitch of
enthusiasm and energy.



TEACHING THE PRINCE TO TAKE NOTES

[Illustration]


The Prince of Wales probably suffers severely during his tours abroad,
for he is a shy youth; but he also makes many friends, for he is a
delightfully simple and agreeable person. When we used to see him he
looked a good deal like the traditional prince of the fairy tales, for
he was a slender boy with yellow hair, and blue eyes, and a quick pink
blush. And we feel toward him the friendly sense of superiority that the
college alumnus always feels toward the man who was a freshman when he
himself was a senior; for the prince and ourself stood in that relation
a few years ago at a certain haunt of letters.

There was a course of lectures on history that we were to attend. It was
a popular course, and the attendance was large. Arriving late at the
first lecture the room was packed, and we could see from the door that
there was only one empty seat. This happened to be in the very front
row, and wondering how it was that so desirable a place had not been
seized we hastened to it. The lecturer was a swift talker, and we fell
to taking notes busily. Not for some minutes did we have a chance to
scrutinize our surroundings. We then saw that in the adjoining chair sat
the prince, and surmised that no one had wanted to take the chair for
fear of being twitted by his companions for a supposed desire to hobnob
with royalty.

If we remember correctly, it was the prince's first term of college
life. The task of taking notes from a rapid-fire lecturer was plainly
one to which he was not accustomed, and as he wrestled with his notebook
we could see that he had not learned the art of considering the
lecturer's remarks and putting down only the gist of them, in some
abbreviated system of his own, as every experienced student learns.
Grant Robertson, the well-known historian, was lecturing on English
constitutional documents, and his swift and informal utterance was
perfectly easy to summarize if one knew how to get down the important
points and neglect the rest. But the unhappy prince, desperately eager
to do the right thing in this new experience, was trying to write down
every word. If, for instance, Mr. Robertson said (in a humorous aside),
"Henry VIII was a sinful old man with a hobby of becoming a widower,"
the experienced listener would jot down something like this: H 8,
_self-made widower_. But we could see that the prince was laboriously
copying out the sentence in full. And naturally, by the end of a few
paragraphs, he was hopelessly behind. But he scribbled away
industriously, doing his best. He realized, however, that he had not
quite got the hang of the thing, and at the end of the lecture he turned
to us with most agreeable bashfulness and asked if we would lend him our
notebook, so that he could get down the points that he had missed. We
did so, and briefly explained our own system of abbreviating. We noticed
that in succeeding sessions our royal neighbour did very much better,
learning in some measure to discriminate between what was advisable to
note down and what was mere explanatory matter or persiflage on the part
of the lecturer. But (if we must be candid) we would not recommend him
as a newspaper reporter. And, indeed, the line of work to which he has
been called does not require quite as intense concentration as that of a
cub on what Philip Gibbs calls "The Street of Adventure."

No one could come in contact with the prince without liking him, for his
bashful, gentle, and teachable nature is very winning. We remember with
a certain amusement the time that Grant Robertson got off one of his
annual gags to the effect that, according to the principle of strict
legitimacy, there were in Europe several hundred (we forget the figure)
people with a greater right to the British throne than the family at
present occupying it. The roomful of students roared with genial mirth,
and the unhappy prince blushed in a way that young girls used to in the
good old days of three-piece bathing suits.



A CITY NOTEBOOK

(_Philadelphia_)


It would be hard to find a more lovely spot in the flush of a summer
sunset than Wister Woods. Old residents of the neighbourhood say that
the trees are not what they were fifteen and twenty years ago; the
chestnuts have died off; even some of the tall tulip-poplars are a
little bald at the top, and one was recently felled by a gale. But still
that quiet plateau stands in a serene hush, flooded with rich orange
glow on a warm evening. The hollyhocks in the back gardens of Rubicam
Street are scarlet and Swiss-cheese-coloured and black; and looking
across the railroad ravine one sees crypts and aisles of green as though
in the heart of some cathedral of the great woods.

Belfield Avenue, which bends through the valley in a curve of warm thick
yellow dust, will some day be boulevarded into a spick-and-span highway
for motors. But now it lies little trafficked, and one might prefer to
have it so, for in the stillness of the evening the birds are eloquent.
The thrushes of Wister Woods, which have been immortalized by T. A. Daly
in perhaps the loveliest poem ever written in Philadelphia, flute and
whistle their tantalizing note, while the song sparrow echoes them with
his confident, challenging call. Down behind the dusty sumac shrubbery
lies the little blue-green cottage said to have been used by Benjamin
West as a studio. In a meadow beside the road two cows were grazing in
the blue shadow of overhanging woodland.

[Illustration]

Over the road leans a flat outcrop of stone, known locally as "The Bum's
Rock." An antique philosopher of those parts assured the wayfarer that
it is named for a romantic vagabond who perished there by the explosion
of a can of Bohemian goulash which he was heating over a small fire of
sticks; but one doubts the tale. Our own conjecture is that it is named
for Jacob Boehm, the oldtime brewer of Germantown, who predicted in his
chronicles that the world would come to an end in July, 1919. From his
point of view he was not so far wrong.

Above Boehm's Rock, in a grassy level among the trees, a merry little
circle of young ladies was sitting round a picnic supper. The twilight
grew darker and fireflies began to twinkle. In the steep curve of the
Cinder and Bloodshot (between Fisher's and Wister stations) a cheerful
train rumbled, with its engine running backward just like a country
local. Its bright shaft of light wavered among the tall tree trunks. One
would not imagine that it was less than six miles to the City Hall.

       *       *       *       *       *

A quarter to one A. M., and a hot, silent night. As one walks up
Chestnut Street a distant roaring is heard, which rapidly grows louder.
The sound has a note of terrifying menace. Then, careering down the
almost deserted highway, comes a huge water-tank, throbbing like an
airplane. A creamy sheet of water, shot out at high pressure, floods the
street on each side, dashing up on the pavements. A knot of belated
revellers in front of the Adelphia Hotel, standing in mid-street, to
discuss ways and means of getting home, skip nimbly to one side, the
ladies lifting up their dresses with shrill squeaks of alarm as the
water splashes round them. Pedestrians plodding quietly up the street
cower fearfully against the buildings, while a fine mist envelops them.

After the tank comes, more leisurely, a squad of brooms. The street is
dripping, every sewer opening clucks and gurgles with the falling water.
There is something unbelievably humorous in the way that roaring
Niagara of water dashes madly down the silent street. There is a note of
irony in it, too, for the depressed enthusiasts who have been sitting
all evening in a restaurant over lemonade and ginger ale. Perhaps the
chauffeur is a prohibitionist gone mad.

       *       *       *       *       *

While eating half a dozen doughnuts in a Broad Street lunchroom at one
o'clock in the morning, we mused happily about our friends all tucked
away in bed, sound asleep. There is one in particular on whom we thought
with serene pleasure. It was charming to think of that delightful,
argumentative, contradictory, volatile person, his active mind stilled
in the admirable reticence of slumber. He, so endlessly speculatory, so
full of imaginative enthusiasms and riotous intuitions and troubled
zeals concerning humanity, lost in a beneficent swoon of
unconsciousness! We could not just say why, but we broke into chuckles
to think of him lying there, not denying any of our statements,
absolutely and positively saying nothing. To have one's friends asleep
now and then is very refreshing.

       *       *       *       *       *

Off Walnut Street, below Fifth, and just east of the window where that
perfectly lovely damsel sits operating an adding machine--why is it, by
the way, that the girls who run adding machines are always so
marvellously fair? Is there some secret virtue in the process of adding
that makes one lovely? We feel sure that a subtracting engine would not
have that subtle beautifying effect--just below Fifth Street, we started
to say, there runs a little alley called (we believe) De Silver Court.
It is a sombre little channel between high walls and barred windows, but
it is a retreat we recommend highly to hay fever sufferers. For in one
of the buildings adjoining there seems to be a warehouse of some company
that makes an "aromatic disinfector." Wandering in there by chance, we
stood delighted at the sweet medicinal savour that was wafted on the
air. It had a most cheering effect upon our emunctory woes, and we
lingered so long, in a meditative and healing ecstasy, that young women
immured in the basement of the aromatic warehouse began to peer upward
from the barred windows of their basement and squeak with astonished and
nervous mirth. We blew a loud salute and moved away.

       *       *       *       *       *

We entered a lunchroom on Broad Street for our favourite breakfast of
coffee and a pair of crullers. It was strangely early and only a few of
the flat-arm chairs were occupied. After dispatching the rations we
carefully filled our pipe. With us we had a copy of an agreeable book,
"The Calamities and Quarrels of Authors." It occurred to us that here,
in the brisk serenity of the morning, would be a charming opportunity
for a five-minute smoke and five pages of reading before attacking the
ardours and endurances of the day. Lovingly we applied the match to the
fuel. We began to read:

     Of all the sorrows in which the female character may participate,
     there are few more affecting than those of an authoress----

[Illustration]

A stern, white-coated official came over to us and tapped us on the
shoulder.

"There's a sign behind you," he said.

We looked, guiltily, and saw:

POSITIVELY
NO SMOKING

       *       *       *       *       *

The cocoateria on Eighth Street closes at one A. M. Between
twelve-thirty and closing time it is full of busy eaters, mostly the
night shift from the Chestnut Street newspaper offices and printing and
engraving firms in the neighbourhood. Ham and eggs blossom merrily. The
white-coated waiters move in swift, stern circuit. Griddle cakes bake
with amazing swiftness toward the stroke of one. Little dishes of baked
beans stand hot and ready in the steam-chest. The waiter punches your
check as he brings your frankfurters and coffee. He adds another
perforation when you get your ice cream. Then he comes back and punches
it again.

"Here," you cry, "let it alone and stop bullying it!"

"Sorry, brother," he says. "I forgot that peach cream was fifteen
cents."

One o'clock. They lock the door and turn out the little gas jet where
smokers light up. As the tables empty the chairs are stacked up on top.
And if it is a clear warm evening the customers smoke a final weed along
the Chestnut Street doorsteps, talking together in a cheery undertone.

       *       *       *       *       *

No man has ever started upon a new cheque-book without a few sourly
solemn thoughts.

In the humble waters of finance wherein we paddle we find that a book of
fifty cheques lasts us about four months, allowing for two or three duds
when we start to make out a foil payable to bearer (self) and decide to
renounce that worthy ambition and make it out to the gas company
instead.

It occurs to us that if Bunyan had been writing "Pilgrim's Progress"
nowadays instead of making Christian encounter lions in the path he
would have substituted gas meters, particularly the quarter-in-the-slot
kind that one finds in a seaside cottage. However----

Four months is quite a long time. It may be weak of us, but we can never
resist wondering as we survey that flock of empty cheques just what
adventures our bank account is going to undergo during that period, and
whether our customary technique of being aloof with the receiving teller
and genial and commentary with the paying ditto is the right one. We
always believe in keeping a paying teller in a cheerful frame of mind.
We would never admit to him that we think it is going to rain. We say,
rather, "Well, it may blow over," and try not to surmise how many
hundreds there are in the pile at his elbow. Probably we think the
explanation for the really bizarre architecture of our bank is to keep
depositors' attention from the money. Unquestionably Walt Whitman's tomb
over in Harleigh--Walt's vault--was copied from our bank.

The cheques in our book are blue. We have always regretted this. If we
had known it beforehand perhaps we would have inflicted our problems
upon another bank. Because there are so many more interesting colours
for cheques, tints upon which the ink shows up in a more imposing
manner. A pale pink or cream-coloured cheque for $2.74 looks much more
exciting than a blue cheque for $25. We have known gray, pink, white,
brown, green, and salmon-coloured cheques. A friend of ours once showed
us one that was a bright orange, but refused to let us handle it. But
yellow is the colour that appeals to us most strongly. When we were very
young and away from home our monthly allowance, the amount of which we
shall not state, but it cost us less effort than any money we ever
received since, came to us by way of pale primrose-coloured cheques.
For, after all, there are no cheques like those one used to get from
one's father. We hope the Urchin will think so some day.

       *       *       *       *       *

We like to pay homage to the true artist in all lines. At the corner of
Market and Marshall streets--between Sixth and Seventh--the collar-clasp
orator has his rostrum, and it seems to us that his method of harangue
has the quality of genuine art. He does not bawl or try to terrify or
bully his audience into purchase as do the auctioneers of the
"pawnbrokers' outlets." How gently, how winningly, how sweetly he pleads
the merits of his little collar clasp! And there is shrewd imagination
in his attention-catching device, which is a small boy dressed in black,
wearing a white hood of cheesecloth that hides his face. This peculiar
silent figure, with a touch of mystery about it, serves to keep the
crowd wondering until the oration begins.

[Illustration]

With a smile, with infinite ingratiation and gentle persuasion, our
friend exhibits the merits of his device which does away with the
traditional collar-button. His art is to make the collar-button seem a
piteous, almost a tragic thing. His eyes swim with unshed tears as he
describes the discomfort of the man whose collar, fastened by the
customary button, cannot be given greater freedom on a hot, muggy day.
He shows, by exhibition on his own person, the exquisite relief afforded
by the adjustable collar clasp. "When the day grows cool," he says,
"when you begin to enjoy yourself and want your collar tighter, you just
loosen the clasp, slide the tabs closer together, and there you are. And
no picking at your tie to get the knot undone. Now, how many of you men
have spoiled an expensive tie by picking at it? Your fingers come in
contact with the fibres of the silk and the first thing you know the tie
is soiled. This little clasp"--and he casts a beam of affection upon
it--"saves your tie, it saves your collar, and it saves your patience."
A note of yearning pathos comes into his agreeable voice, and he holds
out a handful of the old-fashioned collar-buttons. "You men are wearing
the same buttons your great-grandfathers wore. Don't you want to get
out of collar slavery? _Don't_ you want to quit working your face all
out of shape struggling with a collar-button? Now as this is a
manufacturing demonstration----"

       *       *       *       *       *

On a warm evening nothing is more pleasant than a ride on the front
platform of the Market Street L, with the front door open. As the train
leaves Sixty-ninth Street it dips down the Millbourne bend and the cool,
damp smell of the Cobb's Creek meadows gushes through the car. Then the
track straightens out for a long run toward the City Hall. Roaring over
the tree tops, with the lights of movies and shops glowing up from
below, a warm typhoon makes one lean against it to keep one's footing.
The airy stations are lined by girls in light summer dresses, attended
by their swains. The groan of the wheels underfoot causes a curious
tickling in the soles of the feet as one stands on the steel platform.

This groan rises to a shrill scream as the train gathers speed between
stations, gradually diminishing to a reluctant grumble as the cars come
to a stop. In the distance, in a peacock-blue sky, the double gleam of
the City Hall tower shines against the night. Down on the left is the
hiss and clang of West Philadelphia station, with the long, dim, amber
glow of the platform and belated commuters pacing about. Then the smoky
dive across the Schuylkill and the bellow of the subway.

       *       *       *       *       *

From time to time humanity is forced to revise its customary notions in
the interests of truth. This is always painful.

It is an old fetich that the week-end in summer is a time for riotous
enjoyment, of goodly cheer and mirthful solace. A careful examination of
human beings during this hebdomadal period of carnival leads us to
question the doctrine.

[Illustration]

When we watch the horrors of discomfort and vexation endured by
simple-hearted citizens in pursuit of a light-hearted Saturday and
Sunday, we often wonder how it is that humanity will so gleefully
inflict upon itself sufferings which, if they were imposed by some
taskmaster, would be called atrocious.

We observe, for instance, women and children standing sweltering in the
aisles of trains during a two-hour run to the seashore. We observe the
number of drownings, motor accidents, murders, and suicides that take
place during the Saturday to Monday period. We observe families loaded
down with small children, who might have been happy and reasonably cool
at home, struggling desperately to get away for a day in the country,
rising at 5 A. M., standing in line at the station, fanning themselves
with blasphemy, and weary before they start. We observe them chased home
by thunderstorms or colic, dazed and blistered with sunburn, or groaning
with a surfeit of ice cream cones.

It is a lamentable fact (and the truth is almost always lamentable, and
hotly denied) that for the hard-working majority the week-end is a curse
rather than a blessing. The saddest fact in human annals is that most
people are never so happy as when they are hard at work. The time may
come when criminals will be condemned, not to the chair, but to twenty
successive week-ends spent standing in the aisles of crowded excursion
trains.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration]

Strolling downtown to a well-known home of fish dinners, it is
appetizing to pass along the curve of Dock Street in the coolness of the
evening. The clean, lively odours of vegetables and fruit are strong on
the air. Under the broad awnings of the commission merchants and
produce dealers the stock is piled up in neat and engaging piles ready
to be carted away at dawn. Under the glow of pale arcs and gas lamps the
colours of the scene are vivid. Great baskets of eggplant shine like
huge grapes, a polished port wine colour; green and scarlet peppers
catch points of light; a flat pinkish colour gleams on carrots. Each
species seems to have an ordered pattern of its own. Potatoes are ranged
in a pyramid; watermelons in long rows; white and yellow onions are
heaped in sacks. The sweet musk of cantaloupes is the scent that
overbreathes all others. Then, down nearer to the waterfront, comes the
strong, damp fishy whiff of oysters. To stroll among these gleaming
piles of victuals, to watch the various colours where the lamps pour a
pale silver and yellow on cairns and pyramids of vegetables, is to
gather a lusty appetite and attack the first oyster stew of the season
with a stout heart.

It being a very humid day, we stopped to compliment the curly-headed
sandwich man at Ninth and Market on his décolleté corsage, which he
wears in the Walt Whitman manner. "Wish we could get away with it the
way you do," we said, admiringly. He looked at us with the patience of
one inured to bourgeois comment. "It's got to be tried," said he, "like
everything else."

       *       *       *       *       *

We stopped by the Weather Man's little illuminated booth at Ninth and
Chestnut about 10 o'clock in the evening. We were scrutinizing his
pretty coloured pictures, wondering how soon the rain would determine,
when a slender young man appeared out of the gloom, said "I'm sorry to
have to do this," switched off the light, and pulled down the rolling
front of the booth. It was the Weather Man himself.

We were greatly elated to meet this mythical sage and walked down the
street a little way with him. In order to cheer him up, we complimented
him on the artistic charm of his little booth, with its glow of golden
light shining on the coloured map and the bright loops and curves of
crayon. We told him how almost at any time in the evening groups of
people can be seen admiring his stall, but his sensitive heart was
gloomy.

"Most of them don't understand it," he said, morosely. "The women are
the worst. I've gone there in the evening and found them studying the
map eagerly. Hopefully, I would creep up behind to hear their comments.
One will say, 'Yes, that's where my husband came from,' or 'I spent last
summer over there,' pointing to some place on the map. They seem to
think it's put there for them to study geography."

We tried to sympathize with the broken-hearted scientist, but his spirit
had been crushed by a long series of woes.

"The other evening," said he, "I saw a couple of girls gazing at the
map, and they looked so intelligent I really was charmed. Apparently
they were discussing an area of low pressure that was moving down from
the Great Lakes, and I lent an ear. Imagine my chagrin when one of them
said: 'You see the colour of that chalk line? I'm going to make my next
knitted vestee just like that.' And the other one said: 'I think the
whole colour scheme is adorable. I'm going to use it as a pattern for my
new camouflage bathing-suit.'"

"Thank goodness," cried the miserable Weather Man: "I have another map
like that down at the Bourse, and the brokers really give it some
intelligent attention."

We went on our way sadly, thinking how many sorrows there are in the
world. It is grievous to think of the poor Weather Man, lurking with
beating pulses in the neighbourhood of Ninth and Chestnut in the hope
of finding someone who understands his painstaking display. The next
time you are standing in front of his booth do say something about the
Oceanic High in the South Atlantic or the dangerous Aleutian Low or the
anticyclonic condition prevailing in the Alleghenies. He might overhear
you, and it would do his mournful heart good.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration]

It was eight o'clock, a cool drizzling night. Chestnut Street was gray
with a dull, pearly, opaque twilight. In the little portico east of
Independence Hall the gas lamp under the ceiling cast a soft pink glow
on the brick columns.

Independence Square was a sea of tremulous, dripping boughs. The quaint
heptahedral lamps threw splashed shimmers of topaz colour across the
laky pavement. "Golden lamps in a green night," as Marvell says,
twinkled through the stir and moisture of the evening.



ON GOING TO BED


One of the characters in "The Moon and Sixpence" remarked that he had
faithfully lived up to the old precept about doing every day two things
you heartily dislike; for, said he, every day he had got up and he had
gone to bed.

It is a sad thing that as soon as the hands of the clock have turned ten
the shadow of going to bed begins to creep over the evening. We have
never heard bedtime spoken of with any enthusiasm. One after another we
have seen a gathering disperse, each person saying (with an air of
solemn resignation): "Well, I guess I'll go to bed." But there was no
hilarity about it. It is really rather touching how they cling to the
departing skirts of the day that is vanishing under the spinning shadow
of night.

This is odd, we repeat, for sleep is highly popular among human beings.
The reluctance to go to one's couch is not at all a reluctance to
slumber, for almost all of us will doze happily in an armchair or on a
sofa, or even festooned on the floor with a couple of cushions. But the
actual and formal yielding to sheets and blankets is to be postponed to
the last possible moment.

The devil of drowsiness is at his most potent, we find, about 10:30
P. M. At this period the human carcass seems to consider that it has
finished its cycle, which began with so much courage nearly sixteen
hours before. It begins to slack and the mind halts on a dead centre
every now and then, refusing to complete the revolution. Now there are
those who hold that this is certainly the seemly and appointed time to
go to bed and they do so as a matter of routine. These are, commonly,
the happier creatures, for they take the tide of sleep at the flood and
are borne calmly and with gracious gentleness out to great waters of
nothingness. They push off from the wharf on a tranquil current and
nothing more is to be seen or heard of these voyagers until they
reappear at the breakfast table, digging lustily into their grapefruit.

These people are happy, aye, in a brutish and sedentary fashion, but
they miss the admirable adventures of those more embittered wrestlers
who will not give in without a struggle. These latter suffer severe
pangs between 10:30 and about 11:15 while they grapple with their fading
faculties and seek to reëstablish the will on its tottering throne. This
requires courage stout, valour unbending. Once you yield, be it ever so
little, to the tempter, you are lost. And here our poor barren clay
plays us false, undermining the intellect with many a trick and wile. "I
will sit down for a season in that comfortable chair," the creature
says to himself, "and read this sprightly novel. That will ease my mind
and put me in humour for a continuance of lively thinking." And the end
of that man is a steady nasal buzz from the bottom of the chair where he
has collapsed, an unsightly object and a disgrace to humanity. This also
means a big bill from the electric light company at the end of the
month. In many such ways will his corpus bewray him, leading him by
plausible self-deceptions into a pitfall of sleep, whence he is aroused
about 3 A. M. when the planet turns over on the other side. Only by
stiff perseverance and rigid avoidance of easy chairs may the critical
hour between 10:30 and 11:30 be safely passed. Tobacco, a self-brewed
pot of tea, and a browsing along bookshelves (remain standing and do not
sit down with your book) are helps in this time of struggle. Even so,
there are some happily drowsy souls who can never cross these shallows
alone without grounding on the Lotus Reefs. Our friend J---- D----
K----, magnificent creature, was (when we lived with him) so potently
hypnoidal that, even erect and determined as his bookcase and urgently
bent upon Brann's _Iconoclast_ or some other literary irritant, sleep
would seep through his pores and he would fall with a crash, lying there
in unconscious bliss until someone came in and prodded him up, reeling
and ashamed.

But, as we started to say, those who survive this drastic weeding out
which Night imposes upon her wooers--so as to cull and choose only the
truly meritorious lovers--experience supreme delights which are unknown
to their snoring fellows. When the struggle with somnolence has been
fought out and won, when the world is all-covering darkness and
close-pressing silence, when the tobacco suddenly takes on fresh vigour
and fragrance and the books lie strewn about the table, then it seems as
though all the rubbish and floating matter of the day's thoughts have
poured away and only the bright, clear, and swift current of the mind
itself remains, flowing happily and without impediment. This perfection
of existence is not to be reached very often; but when properly
approached it may be won. It is a different mind that one uncovers then,
a spirit which is lucid and hopeful, to which (for a few serene hours)
time exists not. The friable resolutions of the day are brought out
again and recemented and chiselled anew. Surprising schemes are started
and carried through to happy conclusion, lifetimes of amazement are
lived in a few passing ticks. There is one who at such moments resolves,
with complete sincerity, to start at one end of the top shelf and read
again all the books in his library, intending this time really to
extract their true marrow. He takes a clean sheet of paper and sets down
memoranda of all the people he intends to write to, and all the plumbers
and what not that he will call up the next day. And the next time this
happy seizure attacks him he will go through the same gestures again
without surprise and without the slightest mortification. And then,
having lived a generation of good works since midnight struck, he
summons all his resolution and goes to bed.

[Illustration]


[Illustration]

THE COUNTRY LIFE PRESS

GARDEN CITY, N. Y.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Pipefuls" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home