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Title: Plum Pudding - Of Divers Ingredients, Discreetly Blended & Seasoned
Author: Morley, Christopher, 1890-1957
Language: English
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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 "Plum Pudding - Of Divers Ingredients, Discreetly Blended & Seasoned" ***

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PLUM PUDDING

Of divers Ingredients, Discreetly Blended & Seasoned

by

CHRISTOPHER MORLEY

And merrily embellished by WALTER JACK DUNCAN

Printed at Garden City, New York,
by Doubleday, Page & Co'y
and are to be sold by All Worthy
Booksellers, together with Other
Works by the Same Author, thus
modestly offered to your Attention

1921

Copyright, 1921, by
Doubleday, Page & Company

All Rights Reserved, Including That Of Translation
Into Foreign Languages, Including The Scandinavian

Copyright, 1910, by Public Ledger Company
Copyright, 1920, 1921, by the New York Evening Post, Inc.
Copyright, 1920, by the Outlook Company
Copyright, 1921, By the Atlantic Monthly Company

Printed at Garden City, N.Y., U.S.A.

First Edition



       *       *       *       *       *


              BOOKS BY
          CHRISTOPHER MORLEY

          PARNASSUS ON WHEELS
          THE HAUNTED BOOKSHOP
          SHANDYGAFF
          MINCE PIE
          PIPEFULS
          KATHLEEN
          TALES FROM A ROLLTOP DESK
          SONGS FOR A LITTLE HOUSE
          THE ROCKING HORSE
          HIDE AND SEEK
          CHIMNEYSMOKE
          TRAVELS IN PHILADELPHIA
          PLUM PUDDING



       *       *       *       *       *



        THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED
                  TO

          DAVID WILLIAM BONE
             DON MARQUIS
           SIMEON STRUNSKY

            MEMBERS OF THE
      THREE HOURS FOR LUNCH CLUB



      [Illustration]


Almost all these sketches were originally published in the New
York _Evening Post_ and the _Literary Review_. One comes from
_The Outlook_, one from _The Atlantic Monthly_, one from the
_Haverford Alumni Quarterly_, and one from the Philadelphia
_Evening Public Ledger_. The author is indebted to these
publishers for permission to reprint.

Roslyn, Long Island
July, 1921



      [Illustration]



CONTENTS

   The Perfect Reader
   The Autogenesis of a Poet
   The Old Reliable
   In Memoriam, Francis Barton Gummere
   Adventures at Lunch Time
   Secret Transactions of the Three Hours for Lunch Club
   Initiation
   Creed of the Three Hours for Lunch Club
   A Preface to the Profession of Journalism
   Fulton Street, and Walt Whitman
   McSorley's
   A Portrait
   Going to Philadelphia
   Our Tricolour Tie
   The Club of Abandoned Husbands
   West Broadway
   The Rudeness of Poets
   1100 Words
   Some Inns
   The Club in Hoboken
   The Club at Its Worst
   A Suburban Sentimentalist
   Gissing
   A Dialogue
   At the Gasthof zum Ochsen
   Mr. Conrad's New Preface
   The Little House
   Tadpoles
   Magic in Salamis
   Consider the Commuter
   The Permanence of Poetry
   Books of the Sea
   Fallacious Meditations on Criticism
   Letting Out the Furnace
   By the Fireplace
   A City Note-Book
   Thoughts in the Subway
   Dempsey _vs._ Carpentier
   A Letter to a Sea Captain



PLUM PUDDING



      [Illustration]



THE PERFECT READER


On Christmas Eve, while the Perfect Reader sits in his armchair
immersed in a book--so absorbed that he has let the fire go out--I
propose to slip gently down the chimney and leave this tribute in
his stocking. It is not a personal tribute. I speak, on behalf of
the whole fraternity of writers, this word of gratitude--and envy.

No one who has ever done any writing, or has any ambition toward
doing so, can ever be a Perfect Reader. Such a one is not
disinterested. He reads, inevitably, in a professional spirit. He
does not surrender himself with complete willingness of enjoyment.
He reads "to see how the other fellow does it"; to note the turn of
a phrase, the cadence of a paragraph; carrying on a constant
subconscious comparison with his own work. He broods constantly as
to whether he himself, in some happy conjuncture of quick mind and
environing silence and the sudden perfect impulse, might have
written something like that. He is (poor devil) confessedly selfish.
On every page he is aware of his own mind running with him, tingling
him with needle-pricks of conscience for the golden chapters he has
never written. And so his reading is, in a way, the perfection of
exquisite misery--and his writing also. When he writes, he yearns to
be reading; when he reads, he yearns to be writing.

But the Perfect Reader, for whom all fine things are written, knows
no such delicate anguish. When he reads, it is without any _arrière
pensée_, any twingeing consciousness of self. I like to think of one
Perfect Reader of my acquaintance. He is a seafaring man, and this
very evening he is in his bunk, at sea, the day's tasks completed.
Over his head is a suitable electric lamp. In his mouth is a pipe
with that fine wine-dark mahogany sheen that resides upon excellent
briar of many years' service. He has had (though I speak only by
guess) a rummer of hot toddy to celebrate the greatest of all
Evenings. At his elbow is a porthole, brightly curtained with a
scrap of clean chintz, and he can hear the swash of the seas along
his ship's tall side. And now he is reading. I can see him reading.
I know just how his mind feels! Oh, the Perfect Reader! There is not
an allusion that he misses; in all those lovely printed words he
sees the subtle secrets that a lesser soul would miss. He (bless his
heart!) is not thinking how he himself would have written it; his
clear, keen, outreaching mind is intent only to be one in spirit
with the invisible and long-dead author. I tell you, if there is
anywhere a return of the vanished, it is then, at such moments, over
the tilted book held by the Perfect Reader.

And how quaint it is that he should diminish himself so modestly.
"Of course" (he says), "I'm only a Reader, and I don't know anything
about writing----" Why, you adorable creature, _You_ are our court
of final appeal, you are the one we come to, humbly, to know
whether, anywhere in our miserable efforts to set out our unruly
hearts in parallel lines, we have done an honest thing. What do we
care for what (most of) the critics say? They (we know only too
well) are not criticising _us_, but, unconsciously, themselves. They
skew their own dreams into their comment, and blame us for not
writing what they once wanted to. You we can trust, for you have
looked at life largely and without pettifogging qualms. The parallel
lines of our eager pages meet at Infinity--that is, in the infinite
understanding and judgment of the Perfect Reader.

The enjoyment of literature is a personal communion; it cannot be
outwardly instilled. The utmost the critic can do is read the
marriage service over the reader and the book. The union is
consummated, if at all, in secret. But now and then there comes up
the aisle a new Perfect Reader, and all the ghosts of literature
wait for him, starry-eyed, by the altar. And as long as there are
Perfect Readers, who read with passion, with glory, and then speed
to tell their friends, there will always be, ever and anon, a
Perfect Writer.

And so, dear Perfect Reader, a Merry Christmas to you and a New Year
of books worthy your devotion! When you revive from that book that
holds you in spell, and find this little note on the cold hearth, I
hope you may be pleased.


      [Illustration]



THE AUTOGENESIS OF A POET


The mind trudges patiently behind the senses. Day by day a thousand
oddities and charms outline themselves tenderly upon consciousness,
but it may be long before understanding comes with brush and colour
to fill in the tracery. One learns nothing until he rediscovers it
for himself. Every now and then, in reading, I have come across
something which has given me the wild surmise of pioneering mingled
with the faint magic of familiarity--for instance, some of the
famous dicta of Wordsworth and Coleridge and Shelley about poetry. I
realized, then, that a teacher had told me these things in my
freshman year at college--fifteen years ago. I jotted them down at
that time, but they were mere catchwords. It had taken me fifteen
years of vigorous living to overhaul those catchwords and fill them
with a meaning of my own. The two teachers who first gave me some
suspicion of what lies in the kingdom of poetry--who gave "so sweet
a prospect into the way as will entice any man to enter into
it"--are both dead. May I mention their names?--Francis B. Gummere
and Albert Elmer Hancock, both of Haverford College. I cannot thank
them as, now, I would like to. For I am (I think) approaching a
stage where I can somewhat understand and relish the things of which
they spoke. And I wonder afresh at the patience and charity of those
who go on lecturing, unabated in zest, to boys of whom one in ten
may perhaps, fifteen years later, begin to grasp their message.

In so far as any formal or systematic discipline of thought was
concerned, I think I may say my education was a complete failure.
For this I had only my own smattering and desultory habit of mind to
blame and also a vivid troublesome sense of the beauty of it all.
The charm of the prismatic fringe round the edges made juggling with
the lens too tempting, and a clear persistent focus was never
attained. Considered (oddly enough) by my mates as the pattern of a
diligent scholar, I was in reality as idle as the idlest of them,
which is saying much; though I confess that my dilettantism was not
wholly disreputable. My mind excellently exhibited the Heraclitean
doctrine: a constant flux of information passed through it, but
nothing remained. Indeed, my senses were so continually crammed with
new enchanting impressions, and every field of knowledge seemed so
alluring, it was not strange I made little progress in any.

       *       *       *       *       *

Perhaps it was unfortunate that both in America and in England I
found myself in a college atmosphere of extraordinary pictorial
charm. The Arcadian loveliness of the Haverford campus and the
comfortable simplicity of its routine; and then the hypnotizing
beauty and curiosity and subtle flavour of Oxford life (with its
long, footloose, rambling vacations)--these were aptly devised for
the exercise of the imagination, which is often a gracious phrase
for loafing. But these surroundings were too richly entertaining,
and I was too green and soft and humorous (in the Shakespearean
sense) to permit any rational continuous plan of study. Like the
young man to whom Coleridge addressed a poem of rebuke, I was
abandoned, a greater part of the time, to "an Indolent and Causeless
Melancholy"; or to its partner, an excessive and not always tasteful
mirth. I spent hours upon hours, with little profit, in libraries,
flitting aimlessly from book to book. With something between terror
and hunger I contemplated the opposite sex. In short, I was
discreditable and harmless and unlovely as the young Yahoo can be.
It fills me with amazement to think that my preceptors must have
seen, in that ill-conditioned creature, some shadow of human
semblance, or how could they have been so uniformly kind?

Our education--such of it as is of durable importance--comes
haphazard. It is tinged by the enthusiasms of our teachers, gleaned
by suggestions from our friends, prompted by glimpses and footnotes
and margins. There was a time, I think, when I hung in tender
equilibrium among various possibilities. I was enamoured of
mathematics and physics: I went far enough in the latter to be
appointed undergraduate assistant in the college laboratory. I had
learned, by my junior year, exploring the charms of integral
calculus, that there is no imaginable mental felicity more serenely
pure than suspended happy absorption in a mathematical problem. Of
course I attained no higher than the dregs of the subject; on that
grovelling level I would still (in Billy Sunday's violent trope)
have had to climb a tree to look a snake in the eye; but I could see
that for the mathematician, if for any one, Time stands still
withal; he is winnowed of vanity and sin. French, German, and Latin,
and a hasty tincture of Xenophon and Homer (a mere lipwash of
Helicon) gave me a zeal for philology and the tongues. I was a
member in decent standing of the college classical club, and visions
of life as a professor of languages seemed to me far from unhappy. A
compulsory course in philosophy convinced me that there was still
much to learn; and I had a delicious hallucination in which I saw
myself compiling a volume of commentaries on the various systems of
this queen of sciences. "The Grammar of Agnostics," I think it was
to be called: it would be written in a neat and comely hand on
thousands of pages of pure white foolscap: I saw myself adding to it
night by night, working _ohne Hast, ohne Rast_. And there were other
careers, too, as statesman, philanthropist, diplomat, that I
considered not beneath my horoscope. I spare myself the careful
delineation of these projects, though they would be amusing enough.

But beneath these preoccupations another influence was working its
inward way. My paramount interest had always been literary, though
regarded as a gentle diversion, not degraded to a bread-and-butter
concern. Ever since I had fallen under the superlative spell of
R.L.S., in whom the cunning enchantment of the written word first
became manifest, I had understood that books did not grow painlessly
for our amusement, but were the issue of dexterous and intentional
skill. I had thus made a stride from Conan Doyle, Cutcliffe Hyne,
Anthony Hope, and other great loves of my earliest teens; those
authors' delicious mysteries and picaresques I took for granted, not
troubling over their method; but in Stevenson, even to a schoolboy
the conscious artifice and nicety of phrase were puzzingly apparent.
A taste for literature, however, is a very different thing from a
determination to undertake the art in person as a means of
livelihood. It takes brisk stimulus and powerful internal fevers to
reduce a healthy youth to such a contemplation. All this is a long
story, and I telescope it rigorously, thus setting the whole matter,
perhaps, in a false proportion. But the central and operative factor
is now at hand.

       *       *       *       *       *

There was a certain classmate of mine (from Chicago) whose main
devotion was to scientific and engineering studies. But since his
plan embraced only two years at college before "going to work," he
was (in the fashion traditionally ascribed to Chicago) speeding up
the cultural knick-knacks of his education. So, in our freshman
year, he was attending a course on "English Poets of the Nineteenth
Century," which was, in the regular schedule of things, reserved for
sophomores (supposedly riper for matters of feeling). Now I was
living in a remote dormitory on the outskirts of the wide campus
(that other Eden, demi-paradise, that happy breed of men, that
little world!) some distance from the lecture halls and busy heart
of college doings. It was the custom of those quartered in this
colonial and sequestered outpost to make the room of some central
classmate a base for the day, where books might be left between
lectures, and so on. With the Chicagoan, whom we will call "J----,"
I had struck up a mild friendship; mostly charitable on his part, I
think, as he was from the beginning one of the most popular and
influential men in the class, whereas I was one of the rabble. So it
was, at any rate; and often in the evening, returning from library
or dining hall on the way to my distant Boeotia, I would drop in at
his room, in a lofty corner of old Barclay Hall, to pick up
note-books or anything else I might have left there.

What a pleasant place is a college dormitory at night! The rooms
with their green-hooded lights and boyish similarity of decoration,
the amiable buzz and stir of a game of cards under festoons of
tobacco smoke, the wiry tinkle of a mandolin distantly heard, sudden
clatter subsiding again into a general humming quiet, the happy
sense of solitude in multitude, these are the partial ingredients of
that feeling no alumnus ever forgets. In his pensive citadel, my
friend J---- would be sitting, with his pipe (one of those new
"class pipes" with inlaid silver numerals, which appear among every
college generation toward Christmas time of freshman year). In his
lap would be the large green volume ("British Poets of the
Nineteenth Century," edited by Professor Curtis Hidden Page) which
was the textbook of that sophomore course. He was reading Keats. And
his eyes were those of one who has seen a new planet swim into his
ken. I don't know how many evenings we spent there together.
Probably only a few. I don't recall just how we communed, or
imparted to one another our juvenile speculations. But I plainly
remember how he would sit beside his desk-lamp and chuckle over the
Ode to a Nightingale. He was a quizzical and quickly humorous
creature, and Keats's beauties seemed to fill him not with
melancholy or anguish, but with a delighted prostration of laughter.
The "wormy circumstance" of the Pot of Basil, the Indian Maid
nursing her luxurious sorrow, the congealing Beads-man and the
palsied beldame Angela--these and a thousand quaintnesses of phrase
moved him to a gush of glorious mirth. It was not that he did not
appreciate the poet, but the unearthly strangeness of it all, the
delicate contradiction of laws and behaviours known to freshmen,
tickled his keen wits and emotions until they brimmed into puzzled
laughter. "Away! Away!" he would cry--

                For I will fly to thee,
          Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,
          But on the viewless wings of Poesy,
          Though the dull brain perplexes and retards--

and he would shout with merriment. Beaded bubbles winking at the
brim; Throbbing throats' long, long melodious moan; Curious
conscience burrowing like a mole; Emprison her soft hand and let her
rave; Men slugs and human serpentry; Bade her steep her hair in
weird syrops; Poor weak palsy-stricken churchyard thing; Shut her
pure sorrow-drops with glad exclaim--such lines were to him a
constant and exhilarating excitement. In the very simplicity and
unsophistication of his approach to the poet was a virgin naïveté of
discernment that an Edinburgh Reviewer would rarely attain. Here, he
dimly felt, was the great key

          To golden palaces, strange minstrelsy,
          ... aye, to all the mazy world
          Of silvery enchantment.

And in line after line of Endymion, as we pored over them together,
he found the clear happiness of a magic that dissolved everything
into lightness and freedom. It is agreeable to remember this man,
preparing to be a building contractor, who loved Keats because he
made him laugh. I wonder if the critics have not too insistently
persuaded us to read our poet in a black-edged mood? After all, his
nickname was "Junkets."

       *       *       *       *       *

So it was that I first, in any transcending sense, fell under the
empire of a poet. Here was an endless fountain of immortal drink:
here was a history potent to send a young mind from its bodily
tenement. The pleasure was too personal to be completely shared; for
the most part J---- and I read not together, but each by each, he
sitting in his morris chair by the desk, I sprawled upon his couch,
reading, very likely, different poems, but communicating, now and
then, a sudden discovery. Probably I exaggerate the subtlety of our
enjoyment, for it is hard to review the unself-scrutinizing moods of
freshmanhood. It would be hard, too, to say which enthusiast had the
greater enjoyment: he, because these glimpses through magic
casements made him merry; I, because they made me sad. Outside, the
snow sparkled in the pure winter night; the long lance windows of
the college library shone yellow-panelled through the darkness, and
there would be the occasional interruption of light-hearted
classmates. How perfectly it all chimed into the mood of St. Agnes'
Eve! The opening door would bring a gust of lively sound from down
the corridor, a swelling jingle of music, shouts from some humorous
"rough-house" (probably those sophomores on the floor below)--

          The boisterous, midnight, festive clarion
          The kettle-drum, and far-heard clarionet
          Affray his ears, though but in dying tone--
          The hall-door shuts again, and all the noise is gone.

It did not take very long for J---- to work through the fifty pages
of Keats reprinted in Professor Hidden Page's anthology; and then
he, a lone and laughing faun among that pack of stern sophomores--so
flewed, so sanded, out of the Spartan kind, crook-knee'd and
dewlapped like Thessalian bulls--sped away into thickets of Landor,
Tennyson, the Brownings. There I, an unprivileged and unsuspected
hanger-on, lost their trail, returning to my own affairs. For some
reason--I don't know just why--I never "took" that course in
Nineteenth Century Poets, in the classroom at any rate. But just as
Mr. Chesterton, in his glorious little book, "The Victorian Age in
Literature," asserts that the most important event in English
history was the event that never happened at all (you yourself may
look up his explanation) so perhaps the college course that meant
most to me was the one I never attended. What it meant to those
sophomores of the class of 1909 is another gentle speculation. Three
years later, when I was a senior, and those sophomores had left
college, another youth and myself were idly prowling about a
dormitory corridor where some of those same sophomores had
previously lodged. An unsuspected cupboard appeared to us, and
rummaging in it we found a pile of books left there, forgotten, by a
member of that class. It was a Saturday afternoon, and my companion
and I had been wondering how we could raise enough cash to go to
town for dinner and a little harmless revel. To shove those books
into a suitcase and hasten to Philadelphia by trolley was the
obvious caper; and Leary's famous old bookstore ransomed the volumes
for enough money to provide an excellent dinner at Lauber's, where,
in those days, the thirty-cent bottle of sour claret was considered
the true, the blushful Hippocrene. But among the volumes was a copy
of Professor Page's anthology which had been used by one of J----'s
companions in that poetry course. This seemed to me too precious to
part with, so I retained it; still have it; and have occasionally
studied the former owner's marginal memoranda. At the head of The
Eve of St. Agnes he wrote: "Middle Ages. N. Italy. Guelph,
Guibilline." At the beginning of Endymion he recorded: "Keats tries
to be spiritualized by love for celestials." Against Sleep and
Poetry: "Desultory. Genius in the larval state." The Ode on a
Grecian Urn, he noted: "Crystallized philosophy of idealism.
Embalmed anticipation." The Ode on Melancholy: "Non-Gothic. Not of
intellect or disease. Emotions."

Darkling I listen to these faint echoes from a vanished lecture
room, and ponder. Did J---- keep his copy of the book, I wonder, and
did he annotate it with lively commentary of his own? He left
college at the end of our second year, and I have not seen or heard
from him these thirteen years. The last I knew--six years ago--he
was a contractor in an Ohio city; and (is this not significant?) in
a letter written then to another classmate, recalling some
waggishness of our own sophomore days, he used the phrase "Like Ruth
among the alien corn."

In so far as one may see turning points in a tangle of yarn, or
count dewdrops on a morning cobweb, I may say that a few evenings
with my friend J---- were the decisive vibration that moved one more
minor poet toward the privilege and penalty of Parnassus. One cannot
nicely decipher such fragile causes and effects. It was a year later
before the matter became serious enough to enforce abandoning
library copies of Keats and buying an edition of my own. And this,
too, may have been not unconnected with the gracious influence of
the other sex as exhibited in a neighbouring athenæum; and was
accompanied by a gruesome spate of florid lyrics: some (happily)
secret, and some exposed with needless hardihood in a college
magazine. The world, which has looked leniently upon many poetical
minorities, regards such frenzies with tolerant charity and
forgetfulness. But the wretch concerned may be pardoned for looking
back in a mood of lingering enlargement. As Sir Philip Sidney put
it, "Self-love is better than any gilding to make that seem gorgeous
wherein ourselves be parties."

       *       *       *       *       *

There is a vast deal of nonsense written and uttered about poetry.
In an age when verses are more noisily and fluently circulated than
ever before, it might seem absurd to plead in the Muse's defence.
Yet poetry and the things poets love are pitifully weak to-day. In
essence, poetry is the love of life--not mere brutish tenacity of
sensation, but a passion for all the honesties that make life free
and generous and clean. For two thousand years poets have mocked and
taunted the cruelties and follies of men, but to what purpose?
Wordsworth said: "In spite of difference of soil and climate, of
language and manners, of laws and customs, in spite of things
silently gone out of mind, and things violently destroyed, the Poet
binds together by passion and knowledge the vast empire of human
society, as it is spread over the whole earth, and over all time."
Sometimes it seems as though "things violently destroyed," and the
people who destroy them, are too strong for the poets. Where, now,
do we see any cohesive binding together of humanity? Are we nearer
these things than when Wordsworth and Coleridge walked and talked on
the Quantock Hills or on that immortal road "between Porlock and
Linton"? Hardy writes "The Dynasts," Joseph Conrad writes his great
preface to "The Nigger of the _Narcissus_," but do the destroyers
hear them? Have you read again, since the War, Gulliver's "Voyage to
the Houyhnhnms," or Herman Melville's "Moby Dick"? These men wrote,
whether in verse or prose, in the true spirit of poets; and Swift's
satire, which the text-book writers all tell you is so gross and
savage as to suggest the author's approaching madness, seems tender
and suave by comparison with what we know to-day.

Poetry is the log of man's fugitive castaway soul upon a doomed and
derelict planet. The minds of all men plod the same rough roads of
sense; and in spite of much knavery, all win at times "an ampler
ether, a diviner air." The great poets, our masters, speak out of
that clean freshness of perception. We hear their voices--

     I there before thee, in the country that well thou knowest,
     Already arrived am inhaling the odorous air.

So it is not vain, perhaps, to try clumsily to tell how this
delicious uneasiness first captured the spirit of one who, if not a
poet, is at least a lover of poetry. Thus he first looked beyond the
sunset; stood, if not on Parnassus, tiptoe upon a little hill. And
overhead a great wind was blowing.


      [Illustration]



THE OLD RELIABLE


"Express train stalled in a snowdrift," said one. "The irascible old
white-haired gentleman in the Pullman smoker; the good-natured
travelling salesman; the wistful young widow in the day coach, with
her six-year-old blue-eyed little daughter. A coal-black Pullman
porter who braves the shrieking gale to bring in a tree from the
copse along the track. Red-headed brakeman (kiddies of his own at
home), frostbitten by standing all night between the couplings,
holding parts of broken steampipe together so the Pullman car will
keep warm. Young widow and her child, of course, sleeping in the
Pullman; white-haired old gentleman vacates his berth in their
favour. Good-natured travelling salesman up all night, making
cigar-band decorations for the Tree, which is all ready in the
dining car in the morning----"

       *       *       *       *       *

"Old English inn on a desolate moor," said another. "Bright fire of
coals in the coffee room, sporting prints, yellow old newspaper
cutting framed on the mantelpiece describing gruesome murder
committed in the house in 1760. Terrible night of storm--sleet
tingling on the panes; crimson curtains fluttering in the draught;
roads crusted with ice; savoury fumes of roast goose, plum pudding,
and brandy. Pretty chambermaid in evident anxiety about something;
guest tries to kiss her in the corridor; she's too distrait to give
the matter proper attention. She has heard faint agonized cries
above the howling of the gale----"

       *       *       *       *       *

"I like the sound of hymns," ventured a third. "Frosty vestibule of
fashionable church, rolling thunders of the organ, fringes of
icicles silvered by moonlight, poor old Salvation Army Santa Claus
shivering outside and tinkling his pathetic little bell. Humane
note: those scarlet Christmas robes of the Army not nearly as warm
as they look. Hard-hearted vestryman, member of old Knickerbocker
family, always wears white margins on his vest, suddenly touched by
compassion, empties the collection plate into Santa's bucket. Santa
hurries off to the S.A. headquarters crying 'The little ones will
bless you for this.' Vestryman accused of having pocketed the
collection, dreadful scandal, too proud to admit what he had done
with it----"

       *       *       *       *       *

"Christmas Eve in the Ambrose Channel," cried a fourth. "A blizzard
blowing. The pilot boat, sheathed with ice, wallowing in the teeth
of the blinding storm, beats her way up to the lee of the great
liner. The pilot, suddenly taken ill, lies gasping on the sofa of
the tiny cabin. Impossible for him to take the great liner into
port; 2,000 passengers eager to get home for Christmas. But who is
this gallant little figure darting up the rope ladder with
fluttering skirts? The pilot's fourteen-year-old daughter. '_I_ will
take the _Nausea_ to her berth! I've spent all my life in the Bay,
and know every inch of the channel.' Rough quartermaster weeps as
she takes the wheel from his hands. 'Be easy in your mind, Captain,'
she says; 'but before the customs men come aboard tell me one
thing--have you got that bottle of Scotch for my Daddy?'"

       *       *       *       *       *

"Big New York department store," insisted the fifth. "Beautiful
dark-haired salesgirl at the silk stocking counter. Her slender form
trembles with fatigue, but she greets all customers with brave,
sweet courtesy. Awful crush, every one buying silk stockings. Kindly
floorwalker, sees she is overtaxed, suggests she leave early. Dark
girl refuses; says she must be faithful to the Christmas spirit;
moreover, she daren't face the evening battle on the subway.
Handsome man comes to the counter to buy. Suddenly a scream, a thud,
horrified outcries. Hold back the crowd! Call a physician! No good;
handsome man, dead, murdered. Dark-haired girl, still holding the
fatal hat-pin, taken in custody, crying hysterically 'When he gave
me his name, I couldn't help it. He's the one who has caused all the
trouble!' Floorwalker reverently covers the body with a cloth, then
looks at the name on the sales slip. 'Gosh,' he cries, aghast, 'it's
Coles Phillips!'"

       *       *       *       *       *

The gathering broke up, and the five men strolled out into the
blazing August sunshine. The sultry glow of midsummer beat down upon
them, but their thoughts were far away. They were five popular
authors comparing notes on the stories they were writing for the
Christmas magazines.


      [Illustration]



IN MEMORIAM
FRANCIS BARTON GUMMERE


I often wonder what inward pangs of laughter or despair he may have
felt as he sat behind the old desk in Chase Hall and watched us
file in, year after year! Callow, juvenile, ignorant, and
cocksure--grotesquely confident of our own manly fulness of worldly
_savoir_--an absurd rabble of youths, miserable flint-heads indeed
for such a steel! We were the most unpromising of all material for
the scholar's eye; comfortable, untroubled middle-class lads most of
us, to whom study was neither a privilege nor a passion, but only a
sober and decent way of growing old enough to enter business.

We did not realize how accurately--and perhaps a trifle grimly--the
strong, friendly face behind the desk was searching us and sizing us
up. He knew us for what we were--a group of nice boys, too sleek,
too cheerfully secure, to show the ambition of the true student.
There was among us no specimen of the lean and dogged crusader of
learning that kindles the eye of the master: no fanatical Scot,
such as rejoices the Oxford or Cambridge don; no liquid-orbed and
hawk-faced Hebrew with flushed cheek bones, such as sets the
pace in the class-rooms of our large universities. No: we were a
hopelessly mediocre, well-fed, satisfied, and characteristically
Quakerish lot. As far as the battle for learning goes, we were
pacifists--conscientious objectors.

It is doubtful whether any really great scholar ever gave the best
years of his life to so meagrely equipped a succession of
youngsters! I say this candidly, and it is well it should be said,
for it makes apparent the true genius of Doctor Gummere's great
gift. He turned this following of humble plodders into lovers and
zealots of the great regions of English letters. There was something
knightly about him--he, the great scholar, who would never stoop to
scoff at the humblest of us. It might have been thought that his
shining gifts were wasted in a small country college, where not one
in fifty of his pupils could follow him into the enchanted lands of
the imagination where he was fancy-free. But it was not so. One may
meet man after man, old pupils of his, who have gone on into the
homely drudging rounds of business, the law, journalism--men whose
faces will light up with affection and remembrance when Doctor
Gummere's name is mentioned. We may have forgotten much of our
Chaucer, our Milton, our Ballads--though I am sure we have none of
us forgotten the deep and thrilling vivacity of his voice reciting:

      O where hae ye been, Lord Randal, my son?
      O where hae ye been, my handsome young man?
      I hae been to the wild wood; mither, make my bed soon,
      For I'm weary wi' hunting and fain wald lie doun.

But what we learned from him lay in the very charm of his
personality. It was a spell that no one in his class-room could
escape. It shone from his sparkling eye; it spoke in his
irresistible humour; it moved in every line of that well-loved face,
in his characteristic gesture of leaning forward and tilting his
head a little to one side as he listened, patiently, to whatever
juvenile surmises we stammered to express. It was the true learning
of which his favourite Sir Philip Sidney said:

     This purifying of wit, this enriching of memory, enabling of
     judgment, and enlarging of conceit, which commonly we call
     learning, under what name soever it come forth or to what
     immediate end soever it be directed, the final end is to lead
     and draw us to as high a perfection as our degenerate souls,
     made worse by their clay lodgings, can be capable of.

Indeed, just to listen to him was a purifying of wit, an enriching
of memory, an enabling of judgment, an enlarging of imagination. He
gave us "so sweet a prospect into the way as will entice any man to
enter into it."

He moved among all human contacts with unerring grace. He was never
the teacher, always the comrade. It was his way to pretend that we
knew far more than we did; so with perfect courtesy and gravity, he
would ask our opinion on some matter of which we knew next to
nothing; and we knew it was only his exquisiteness of good manners
that impelled the habit; and we knew he knew the laughableness of
it; yet we adored him for it. He always suited his strength to our
weakness; would tell us things almost with an air of apology for
seeming to know more than we; pretending that we doubtless had known
it all along, but it had just slipped our memory. Marvellously he
set us on our secret honour to do justice to this rare courtesy. To
fail him in some task he had set became, in our boyish minds, the
one thing most abhorrent in dealing with such a man--a discourtesy.
He was a man of the rarest and most delicate breeding, the finest
and truest gentleman we had known. Had he been nothing else, how
much we would have learnt from that alone.

What a range, what a grasp, there was in his glowing, various mind!
How open it was on all sides, how it teemed with interests, how
different from the scholar of silly traditional belief! We used to
believe that he could have taught us history, science, economics,
philosophy--almost anything; and so indeed he did. He taught us to
go adventuring among masterpieces on our own account, which is the
most any teacher can do. Luckiest of all were those who, on one
pretext or another, found their way to his fireside of an evening.
To sit entranced, smoking one of his cigars,[*] to hear him talk of
Stevenson, Meredith, or Hardy--(his favourites among the moderns)
to marvel anew at the infinite scope and vivacity of his
learning--this was to live on the very doorsill of enchantment.
Homeward we would go, crunching across the snow to where Barclay
crowns the slope with her evening blaze of lights, one glimpse
nearer some realization of the magical colours and tissues of the
human mind, the rich perplexity and many-sided glamour of life.

     [* It was characteristic of him that he usually smoked _Robin
     Hood_, that admirable 5-cent cigar, because the name, and the
     picture of an outlaw on the band, reminded him of the 14th
     century Ballads he knew by heart.]

It is strange (as one reviews all the memories of that good friend
and master) to think that there is now a new generation beginning at
Haverford that will never know his spell. There is a heavy debt on
his old pupils. He made life so much richer and more interesting for
us. Even if we never explored for ourselves the fields of literature
toward which he pointed, his radiant individuality remains in our
hearts as a true exemplar of what scholarship can mean. We can never
tell all that he meant to us. Gropingly we turn to little pictures
in memory. We see him crossing Cope Field in the green and gold of
spring mornings, on his way to class. We see him sitting on the
verandah steps of his home on sunny afternoons, full of gay and
eager talk on a thousand diverse topics. He little knew, I think,
how we hung upon his words. I can think of no more genuine tribute
than this: that in my own class--which was a notoriously cynical and
scoffish band of young sophisters--when any question of religious
doubt or dogma arose for discussion among some midnight group,
someone was sure to say, "I wish I knew what Doctor Gummere thought
about it!" We felt instinctively that what he thought would have
been convincing enough for us.

He was a truly great man. A greater man than we deserved, and there
is a heavy burden upon us to justify the life that he gave to our
little college. He has passed into the quiet and lovely tradition
that surrounds and nourishes that place we all love so well. Little
by little she grows, drawing strength and beauty from human lives
around her, confirming herself in honour and remembrance. The
teacher is justified by his scholars. Doctor Gummere might have gone
elsewhere, surrounded by a greater and more ambitiously documented
band of pupils. He whom we knew as the greatest man we had ever
seen, moved little outside the world of learning. He gave himself to
us, and we are the custodians of his memory.

Every man who loved our vanished friend must know with what
realization of shamed incapacity one lays down the tributary pen. He
was so strong, so full of laughter and grace, so truly a man, his
long vacation still seems a dream, and we feel that somewhere on the
well-beloved campus we shall meet him and feel that friendly hand.
In thinking of him I am always reminded of that fine old poem of Sir
Henry Wotton, a teacher himself, the provost of Eton, whose life has
been so charmingly written by another Haverfordian--(Logan Pearsall
Smith).

            THE CHARACTER OF A HAPPY LIFE

          How happy is he born and taught
            That serveth not another's will;
          Whose armour is his honest thought,
            And simple truth his utmost skill!

          Whose passions not his masters are;
            Whose soul is still prepared for death
          Not tied unto the world by care
            Of public fame or private breath;

          Who envies none that chance doth raise,
            Nor vice; who never understood
          How deepest wounds are given by praise;
            Nor rules of state, but rules of good;

          Who hath his life from rumours freed;
            Whose conscience is his strong retreat;
          Whose state can neither flatterers feed,
            Nor ruin make oppressors great;

          Who God doth late and early pray
            More of His grace than gifts to lend;
          And entertains the harmless day
            With a well-chosen book or friend;

          This man is freed from servile bands
            Of hope to rise or fear to fall:
          Lord of himself, though not of lands,
            And having nothing, yet hath all.

Such was the Happy Man as Sir Henry Wotton described him. Such, I
think, was the life of our friend. I think it must have been a happy
life, for he gave so much happiness to others.


      [Illustration]



ADVENTURES AT LUNCH TIME


This window by which we sit is really very trying to our spirit. On
a clear fluid blue day the sunlight pours over the cliffs and craggy
coves and angles of the great buildings round St. Paul's churchyard.
We can see the temptation of being a cubist painter as we study all
those intersecting planes of light and shadow. Across the way, on
Fulton Street, above the girl in a green hat who is just now
ingurgitating a phial of orangeade, there are six different roof
levels, rising like steps toward the gold lightning bolts of the
statue on top of the Telephone and Telegraph Building. Each of
these planes carries its own particular impact of light or shadow.
The sunshine seems to flow like an impalpable cataract over the top
of the Hudson Terminal, breaking and shining in a hundred splashes
and pools of brightness among the stone channels below. Far down the
course of Church Street we can see the top floors of the Whitehall
Building. We think of the little gilt ball that darts and dances so
merrily in the fountain jet in front of that building. We think of
the merry mercators of the Whitehall Club sitting at lunch on the
cool summit of that great edifice. We think of the view as seen from
there, the olive-coloured gleam of the water, the ships and tugs
speckled about the harbour. And, looking down, we can see a peaceful
gentleman sitting on a bench in St. Paul's graveyard, reading a
book. We think seriously of writing a note, "_What are you
reading?_" and weighting it with an inkwell and hurling it down to
him. This window continually draws our mind outward and sets us
speculating, when we ought to be answering letters or making
inquiries of coal dealers as to whether there is any chance of
getting a supply for next winter.

       *       *       *       *       *

On such a day, having in mind that we ought to write another chapter
of our book "How to Spend Three Hours at Lunch Time," we issued
forth with Endymion to seek refreshment. It was a noontide to stir
even the most carefully fettered bourgeois to impulses of escapade
and foray. What should we do? At first we had some thought of
showing to Endymion the delightful subterranean passage that leads
from the cathedral grottoes of the Woolworth Building to the City
Hall subway station, but we decided we could not bear to leave the
sunlight. So we chose a path at random and found ourselves at the
corner of Beekman and Gold streets.

Now our intention was to make tracks toward Hanover Square and there
to consider the world as viewed over the profile of a slab of
cheesecake; but on viewing the agreeable old house at the corner of
Gold Street--"The Old Beekman, Erected 1827," once called the Old
Beekman Halfway House, but now the Old Beekman Luncheonette--no
hungry man in his senses could pass without tarrying. A flavour of
comely and respectable romance was apparent in this pleasant place,
with its neat and tight-waisted white curtains in the upstairs
windows and an outdoor stairway leading up to the second floor.
Inside, at a table in a cool, dark corner, we dealt with hot dogs
and cloudy cider in a manner beyond criticism. The name Luncheonette
does this fine tavern serious injustice: there is nothing of the
feminine or the soda fountain about it: it is robust, and we could
see by the assured bearing of some well-satisfied habitués that it
is an old landmark in that section.

But the brisk air and tempting serenity of the day made it seem
emphatically an occasion for two lunches, and we passed on, along
Pearl Street, in the bright checkerboard of sunbeams that slip
through the trestles of the "L." It was cheerful to see that the
same old Spanish cafés are still there, though we were a little
disappointed to see that one of them has moved from its old-time
quarters, where that fine brass-bound stairway led up from the
street, to a new and gaudy palace on the other side. We also admired
the famous and fascinating camp outfitting shop at 208 Pearl Street,
which apparently calls itself WESTMINSTER ABBEY: but that
is not the name of the shop but of the proprietor. We have been told
that Mr. Abbey's father christened him so, intending him to enter
the church. In the neighbourhood of Cliff and Pearl streets we
browsed about enjoying the odd and savoury smells. There are all
sorts of aromas in that part of the city, coffee and spices, drugs,
leather, soap, and cigars. There was one very sweet, pervasive, and
subtle smell, a caressing harmony for the nostril, which we pursued
up and down various byways. Here it would quicken and grow almost
strong enough for identification; then again it would become faint
and hardly discernible. It had a rich, sweet oily tang, but we were
at a loss to name it. We finally concluded that it was the bouquet
of an "odourless disinfectant" that seemed to have its headquarters
near by. In one place some bales of dried and withered roots were
being loaded on a truck: they gave off a faint savour, which was
familiar but baffling. On inquiry, these were sarsaparilla. Endymion
was pleased with a sign on a doorway: "_Crude drugs and spices and
essential oils._" This, he said, was a perfect Miltonic line.

Hanover Square, however, was the apex of our pilgrimage. To come
upon India House is like stepping back into the world of Charles
Lamb. We had once lunched in the clubrooms upstairs with a charming
member and we had never forgotten the old seafaring prints, the
mustard pots of dark blue glass, the five-inch mutton chops, the
Victorian contour of the waiter's waistcoat of green and yellow
stripe. This time we fared toward the tavern in the basement, where
even the outsider may penetrate, and were rejoiced by a snug table
in the corner. Here we felt at once the true atmosphere of lunching,
which is at its best when one can get in a corner, next to some old
woodwork rubbed and shiny with age. Shandygaff, we found, was not
unknown to the servitor; and the cider that we saw Endymion beaming
upon was a blithe, clear yellow, as merry to look at as a fine white
wine. Very well, very well indeed, we said to ourselves; let the
world revolve; in the meantime, what is that printed in blackface
type upon the menu? We have looked upon the faces of many men, we
have endured travail and toil and perplexity, we have written much
rot and suffered much inward shame to contemplate it; but in the
meantime (we said, gazing earnestly upon the face of Endymion), in
the meantime, we repeated, and before destiny administers that final
and condign chastisement that we ripely merit, let us sit here in
the corner of the India House and be of good cheer. And at this
point, matters being so, and a second order of butter being already
necessary, the waiter arrived with the Spanish omelet.

Homeward by the way of South Street, admiring the slender concave
bows of fine ships--the _Mexico_ and the _Santa Marta_, for
instance--and privily wondering what were our chances of smelling
blue water within the next quinquennium, we passed in mild and
placid abandonment. On Burling Slip, just where in former times
there used to hang a sign KIPLING BREW (which always interested us),
we saw a great, ragged, burly rogue sitting on a doorstep. He had
the beard of a buccaneer, the placid face of one at ease with
fortune. He hitched up his shirt and shifted from one ham to another
with supreme and sunkissed contentment. And Endymion, who sees all
things as the beginnings of heavenly poems, said merrily: "As I was
walking on Burling Slip, I saw a seaman without a ship."


      [Illustration]



SECRET TRANSACTIONS OF THE THREE HOURS FOR LUNCH CLUB


The doctor having been elected a member of the club, a meeting was
held to celebrate the event. Bowling Green, Esq., secretary, was
instructed to prepare carefully confidential minutes. Weather: fair
and tepid. Wind: N.N.E. Course laid: From starting line at a Church
Street bookshop, where the doctor bought a copy of "Limbo," by
Aldous Huxley, to Pier 56, N.R. Course made good: the same.

The doctor was in excellent form. On the Fourteenth Street car a
human being was arguing fiercely and loudly with the conductor about
some controversial matter touching upon fares and destinations. The
clamour was great. Said the doctor, adjusting his eye-glass and
gazing with rebuke toward the disputants: "I will be gratified when
this tumult subsides." The doctor has been added to the membership
of the club in order to add social tone to the gathering. His charm
is infinite; his manners are of a delicacy and an aplomb. His
speech, when he is of waggish humour, carries a tincture of Queen
Anne phraseology that is subtle and droll. A man, indeed! _L'extrême
de charme_, as M. Djer-Kiss loves to say what time he woos the
public in the theatre programmes.

The first thrill was when Bowling Green, Esq., secretary, cast an
eye upward as the club descended from the Fourteenth Street
sharabang, and saw, over the piers, the tall red funnels of the
_Aquitania_. This is going to be great doings, said he to himself. O
Cunard Line funnels! What is there that so moves the heart?

Bowling Green, Esq., confesses that it is hard to put these minutes
into cold and calculated narrative. Among ships and seafaring
concerns his heart is too violently stirred to be quite _maître de
soi_.

The club moved forward. Welcomed by the suave commissionaire of the
Cunard Line, it was invited to rise in the elevator. On the upper
floor of the pier the members ran to the windows. There lay the
_Aquitania_ at her pier. The members' hearts were stirred. Even the
doctor, himself a hardened man of the sea, showed a brilliant spark
of emotion behind his monocular attic window. A ship in dock--and
what a ship! A ship at a city pier, strange sight. It is like a lion
in a circus cage. She, the beauty, the lovely living creature of
open azure and great striding ranges of the sea, she that needs
horizons and planets for her fitting perspective, she that asks the
snow and silver at her irresistible stern, she that persecutes the
sunset across the purple curves of the longitudes--tied up stiff and
dead in the dull ditch of a dockway. The upward slope of that great
bow, it was never made to stand still against a dusty pier-end.

The club proceeded and found itself in a little eddy of pure
Scotland. The _Columbia_ was just in from Glasgow--had docked only
an hour before. The doctor became very Scots in a flash. "Aye,
bonny!" was his reply to every question asked him by Mr. Green, the
diligent secretary. The secretary was addressed as "lad." A hat now
became a "bonnet." The fine stiff speech of Glasgow was heard on
every side, for the passengers were streaming through the customs.
Yon were twa bonny wee brithers, aiblins ten years old, that came
marching off, with bare knees and ribbed woollen stockings and
little tweed jackets. O Scotland, Scotland, said our hairt! The wund
blaws snell frae the firth, whispered the secretary to himself,
keeking about, but had not the courage to utter it.

Here the secretary pauses on a point of delicacy. It was the purpose
of the club to visit Capt. David W. Bone of the _Columbia_, but the
captain is a modest man, and one knows not just how much of our
admiration of him and his ship he would care to see spread upon the
minutes. Were Mr. Green such a man as the captain, would he be
lowering himself to have any truck with journalists and such petty
folk? Mr. Green would not. Mark you: Captain Bone is the master of
an Atlantic liner, a veteran of the submarine-haunted lanes of sea,
a writer of fine books (have you, lovers of sea tales, read "The
Brassbounder" and "Broken Stowage"?) a collector of first editions,
a man who stood on the bridge of the flagship at Harwich and watched
the self-defiled U-boats slink in and come to a halt at the
international code signal MN (Stop instantly!)--"Ha," said Mr.
Green, "Were I such a man, I would pass by like shoddy such pitifuls
as colyumists." But he was a glad man no less, for he knew the
captain was bigger of heart. Besides, he counted on the exquisite
tact of the doctor to see him through. Indeed, even the stern
officials of the customs had marked the doctor as a man exceptional.
And as the club stood patiently among the outward flux of authentic
Glasgow, came the captain himself and welcomed them aboard.

Across immaculate decks, and in the immortal whiff, indefinable, of
a fine ship just off the high seas, trod the beatified club. A ship,
the last abiding place in a mannerless world of good old-fashioned
caste, and respect paid upward with due etiquette and discipline
through the grades of rank. The club, for a moment, were guests of
the captain; deference was paid to them. They stood in the captain's
cabin (sacred words). "Boy!" cried the captain, in tones of command.
Not as one speaks to office boys in a newspaper kennel, in a voice
of entreaty. The boy appeared: a curly-headed, respectful stripling.
A look of respect: how well it sits upon youth. "Boy!" said the
captain--but just what the captain said is not to be put upon vulgar
minutes. Remember, pray, the club was upon British soil.

In the saloon sat the club, and their faces were the faces of men at
peace, men harmonious and of delicate cheer. The doctor, a seafaring
man, talked the lingo of imperial mariners: he knew the right things
to say: he carried along the humble secretary, who gazed in
melodious mood upon the jar of pickled onions. At sea Mr. Green is
of lurking manners: he holds fast to his bunk lest worse befall; but
a ship in port is his empire. Scotch broth was before them--pukka
Scotch broth, the doctor called it; and also the captain and the
doctor had some East Indian name for the chutney. The secretary
resolved to travel and see the world. Curried chicken and rice was
the word: and, not to exult too cruelly upon you (O excellent
friends!), let us move swiftly over the gooseberry tart. There was
the gooseberry tart, and again, a few minutes later, it was not
there. All things have their appointed end. "Boy!" said the captain.
(Must I remind you, we were on imperial soil.) Is it to be said that
the club rose to the captain's cabin once more, and matters of
admirable purport were tastefully discussed, as is the habit of us
mariners?

"The drastic sanity of the sea"--it is a phrase from a review of one
of the captain's own books, "Merchantmen-at-Arms," which this club
(so it runs upon the minutes), as lovers of sea literature,
officially hope may soon be issued on this side also. It is a
phrase, if these minutes are correct, from a review written by H.M.
Tomlinson, another writer of the sea, of whom we have spoken before,
and may, in God's providence, again. "The drastic sanity of the sea"
was the phrase that lingered in our mind as we heard the captain
talk of books and of discipline at sea and of the trials imposed
upon shipmasters by the La Follette act. (What, the club wondered
inwardly, does Mr. La Follette know of seafaring?) "The drastic
sanity of the sea!" We thought of other sailors we had known, and
how they had found happiness and simplicity in the ordered combat
with their friendly enemy. A virtue goes out of a ship (Joseph
Conrad said, in effect) when she touches her quay. Her beauty and
purpose are, for the moment, dulled and dimmed. But even there, how
much she brings us. How much, even though we do not put it into
words, the faces and accents of our seafaring friends give us in the
way of plain wisdom and idealism. And the secretary, as he stepped
aboard the hubbub of a subway train, was still pondering "the
drastic sanity of the sea."


      [Illustration]



INITIATION


Allured by the published transactions of the club, our friend Lawton
presented himself at the headquarters toward lunch time and
announced himself as a candidate for membership. An executive
session was hastily convened. Endymion broke the news to the
candidate that initiates in this select organization are expected to
entertain the club at luncheon. To the surprise of the club, our
genial visitor neither shrank nor quailed. His face was bland and
his bearing ambitious in the extreme. Very well, he said; as long as
it isn't the Beaux Arts café.

The itinerary of the club for this day had already been arranged by
the secretary. The two charter members, plus the high-spirited
acolyte, made their way along West Street toward the Cortlandt
Street ferry. It was plain from the outset that fortune had favoured
the organization with a new member of the most sparkling quality.
Every few yards a gallant witticism fell from him. Some of these the
two others were able to juggle and return, but many were too
flashing for them to cope with. In front of the ferry house lay a
deep and quaggish puddle of slime, crossable only by ginger-footed
work upon sheets of tin. Endymion rafted his tenuous form across
with a delicate straddle of spidery limbs. The secretary followed,
with a more solid squashing technique. "Ha," cried the new member;
"grace before meat!" Endymion and the secretary exchanged secret
glances. Lawton, although he knew it not, was elected from that
moment.

The ritual of the club, while stern toward initiates, is not brutal.
Since you are bursar for the lunch, said the secretary, I will buy
the ferry tickets, and he did so. On the boat these carefree men
gazed blithely upon the shipping. "Little did I think," said Lawton,
"that I was going for a sea voyage." "That," said the club, "is the
kind of fellows we are. Whimsical. As soon as we think of a thing,
we don't do it."

"Is that the _Leviathan_ up there?" said one of the members,
pointing toward a gray hull on the Hoboken horizon. No one knew, but
the secretary was reminded of an adventure during the war. "One time
I was crossing on this ferry," he said, "and the _Leviathan_ passed
right by us. It was just at dusk and her camouflage was wonderful.
Her blotches and stripes were so arranged that from a little
distance, in the twilight, she gave the impression of a much smaller
vessel, going the other way. All her upper works seemed to fade out
in the haze and she became a much smaller ship." "That would be a
wonderful plan for some of these copious dowagers one sees," said
the irreverent Lawton. "Yes," we said; "instead of a stout lady
going in to dinner, you would see a slim flapper coming out."

Something was then said about a good friend of the club who had at
one time worked for the Y.M.C.A. "What is he doing now?" asked one.
"He's with Grace and Company," said the secretary. The candidate was
unabashed. "Think," he said, "of a Y.M.C.A. man getting grace at
last."

The club found the Jersey City terminal much as usual, and to our
surprise the candidate kept up his courage nobly as he was steered
toward the place of penance, being the station lunch counter. The
club remembered this as a place of excellent food in days gone by,
when trains from Philadelphia stopped here instead of at the Penn.
Station. Placing the host carefully in the middle, the three sat
down at the curving marble slab. The waiters immediately sensed that
something unusual was toward. Two dashed up with courteous
attentions. It was surmised by the club that the trio had happened
to sit at a spot where the jurisdictions of two waiters met. Both
the wings of the trio waved the waiters toward the blushing novice,
making it plain that upon him lay all responsibility. "It is
obvious," remarked the secretary, "that you, Lawton, are right on
the boundary line where two waiters meet. You will have to tip them
both."

The new member was game. "Well," he said, without a trace of
nervousness; "what'll you have?" The choice fell upon breast of
lamb. The secretary asked for iced tea. Endymion, more ruthless,
ordered ginger ale. When the ginger ale came, Lawton, still waggish,
observed the label, which was one of the many imitations of a
well-known brand. "The man who invented the diamond-shaped label,"
said Lawton, "was certainly a pathfinder in the wilderness of the
ginger ale business. This ginger ale," said Lawton, tasting it, "is
carefully warmed, like old claret."

The club sought to keep their host's mind off the painful topic of
viands. "Sitting here makes one feel as though he ought to be going
to take a train somewhere," said one. "Yes, the express for
Weehawken," said the vivacious host. From this it was only a step to
speaking of Brooklyn. The secretary explained that the club had
outlined a careful itinerary in that borough for proximate pursuit.
Lawton told that he had at one time written an essay on the effect
of Brooklyn on the dialogue of the American drama. "It is the butt
end of Long Island," he cried, with cruel mirth. Lovers of Brooklyn
in the club nearly blackballed him for this.

With ice cream and cottage pudding, the admirable menu proceeded.
The waiters conferred secretly together. They carefully noted the
cheerful carving of the host's brow. They will know him again. A man
who bursts in suddenly upon a railroad lunch counter and pays for
three such meals, here is an event in the grim routine! But perhaps
the two charter members were feeling pangs of conscience. "Come,"
they said, "at least let us split the ginger ale checks." But
Lawton was seeing it through. Not a drum was heard, not a funeral
note, as our host to the cashier we hurried. The secretary bought a
penny box of matches and lit the great man's cigarette for him.
Endymion, equally stirred, ran to buy the ferry tickets for the
return voyage. "This time," he said, "I will be the ferry
godmother."

On the homeward passage a little drowse fell upon the two charter
members. They had lunched more richly than was their wont. "Oh,
these distressing, heavy lunches!" as Aldous Huxley cries in one of
his poems. But Lawton was still of bright vivacity. At that time the
club was perturbed by the coming Harding-Cox election. "Which of the
vice-presidents are you going to vote for?" he cried, and then said:
"It looks to me like Debs or dubs."

Endymion and the secretary looked at each other solemnly. The time
had come. "I, Endymion," said the chairman, "take thee, Lawton, to
have and to hold, as a member of the club."

And the secretary tenderly pronounced the society's formula for such
occasions: "There is no inanition in an initiation."


      [Illustration]



CREED OF THE THREE HOURS FOR LUNCH CLUB


It has been suggested that the Three Hours for Lunch Club is an
immoral institution; that it is founded upon an insufficient respect
for the devotions of industry; that it runs counter to the form and
pressure of the age; that it encourages a greedy and rambling humour
in the young of both sexes; that it even punctures, in the bosoms of
settled merchants and rotarians, that capsule of efficiency and
determination by which Great Matters are Put Over. It has been said,
in short, that the Three Hours for Lunch Club should be more
clandestine and reticent about its truancies.

Accordingly, it seems good to us to testify concerning Lunches and
the philosophy of Lunching.

There are Lunches of many kinds. The Club has been privileged to
attend gatherings of considerable lustre; occasions when dishes of
richness and curiosity were dissected; when the surroundings were
not devoid of glamour and surreptitious pomp. The Club has been
convened in many different places: in resorts of pride and in
low-ceiled reeky taphouses; in hotels where those clear cubes of
unprofitable ice knock tinklingly in the goblets; in the brightly
tinted cellars of Greenwich Village; in the saloons of ships. But
the Club would give a false impression of its mind and heart if it
allowed any one to suppose that Food is the chief object of its
quest. It is true that Man, bitterly examined, is merely a vehicle
for units of nourishing combustion; but on those occasions when the
Club feels most truly Itself it rises above such considerations.

The form and pressure of the time (to repeat Hamlet's phrase) is
such that thoughtful men--and of such the Club is exclusively
composed: men of great heart, men of nice susceptibility--are
continually oppressed by the fumbling, hasty, and insignificant
manner in which human contacts are accomplished. Let us even say,
_masculine_ contacts: for the first task of any philosopher being to
simplify his problem so that he can examine it clearly and with less
distraction, the Club makes a great and drastic purge by sweeping
away altogether the enigmatic and frivolous sex and disregarding it,
at any rate during the hours of convivial session. The Club is
troubled to note that in the intolerable rabies and confusion of
this business life men meet merely in a kind of convulsion or horrid
passion of haste and perplexity. We see, ever and often, those in
whose faces we discern delightful and considerable secrets, messages
of just import, grotesque mirth, or improving sadness. In their
bearing and gesture, even in hours of haste and irritation, the Club
(with its trained and observant eye) notes the secret and rare sign
of Thought. Such men are marked by an inexorable follow-up system.
Sooner or later their telephones ring; secretaries and go-betweens
are brushed aside; they are bidden to appear at such and such a time
and place; no excuses are accepted. Then follow the Consolations of
Intercourse. Conducted with "shattering candour" (as one has said
who is in spirit a member of this Club, though not yet, alas,
inducted), the meetings may sometimes resolve themselves into a
ribaldry, sometimes into a truthful pursuit of Beauty, sometimes
into a mere logomachy. But in these symposiums, unmarred by the
crude claim of duty, the Club does with single-minded resolve pursue
the only lasting satisfaction allowed to humanity, to wit, the
sympathetic study of other men's minds.

This is clumsily said: but we have seen moments when eager and
honourable faces round the board explained to us what we mean. There
is but one indefeasible duty of man, to say out the truth that is in
his heart. The way of life engendered by a great city and a modern
civilization makes it hard to do so. It is the function of the Club
to say to the City and to Life Itself: "Stand back! Fair play! We
see a goodly matter inditing in our friend's spirit. We will take
our ease and find out what it is."

For this life of ours (asserts the Club) is curiously compounded of
Beauty and Dross. You ascend the Woolworth Building, let us say--one
of man's noblest and most poetic achievements. And at the top, what
do you find, just before going out upon that gallery to spread your
eye upon man's reticulated concerns? Do you find a little temple or
cloister for meditation, or any way of marking in your mind the
beauty and significance of the place? No, a man in uniform will
thrust into your hand a booklet of well-intentioned description (but
of unapproachable typographic ugliness) and you will find before you
a stall for the sale of cheap souvenirs, ash trays, and hideous
postcards. In such ways do things of Beauty pass into the custody of
those unequipped to understand them.

The Club thinks that the life of this city, brutally intense and
bewildering, has yet a beauty and glamour and a secret word to the
mind, so subtle that it cannot be closely phrased, but so important
that to miss it is to miss life itself. And to forfeit an attempt to
see, understand, and mutually communicate this loveliness is to
forfeit that burning spark that makes men's spirits worth while. To
such halting meditations the Club devotes its aspirations
undistressed by humorous protest. If this be treason...!


      [Illustration]



A PREFACE TO THE PROFESSION OF JOURNALISM

(BEING AN ANSWER TO A LETTER FROM A COLLEGE STUDENT,
ASKING ADVICE AS TO TAKING UP WRITING AS A CAREER)


Your inquiry is congenial, and I feel guilty of selfishness in
answering it in this way. But he must be a poor workman, whether
artisan or artist, who does not welcome an excuse now and then for
shutting out the fascinating and maddening complexity of this
shining world to concentrate his random wits on some honest and
self-stimulating expression of his purpose.

There are exceptions to every rule; but writing, if undertaken as a
trade, is subject to the conditions of all other trades. The
apprentice must begin with task-work; he must please his employers
before he can earn the right to please himself. Not only that, he
must have ingenuity and patience enough to learn _how_ editors are
pleased; but he will be startled, I think, if he studies their
needs, to see how eager they are to meet him half way. This
necessary docility is in the long run, a wholesome physic, because,
if our apprentice has any gallantry of spirit, it will arouse in him
an exhilarating irritation, that indignation which is said to be the
forerunner of creation. It will mean, probably, a period--perhaps
short, perhaps long, perhaps permanent--of rather meagre and stinted
acquaintance with the genial luxuries and amenities of life; but
(such is the optimism of memory) a period that he will always look
back upon as the happiest of all. It is well for our apprentice if,
in this season, he has a taste for cheap tobacco and a tactful
technique in borrowing money.

The deliberate embrace of literature as a career involves very real
dangers. I mean dangers to the spirit over and above those of the
right-hand trouser pocket. For, let it be honestly stated, the
business of writing is solidly founded on a monstrous and perilous
egotism. Himself, his temperament, his powers of observation and
comment, his emotions and sensibilities and ambitions and
idiocies--these are the only monopoly the writer has. This is his
only capital, and with glorious and shameless confidence he proposes
to market it. Let him make the best of it. Continually stooping over
the muddy flux of his racing mind, searching a momentary flash of
clearness in which he can find mirrored some delicate beauty or
truth, he tosses between the alternatives of self-grandeur and
self-disgust. It is a painful matter, this endless self-scrutiny. We
are all familiar with the addled ego of literature--the writer whom
constant self-communion has made vulgar, acid, querulous, and vain.
And yet it is remarkable that of so many who meddle with the
combustible passions of their own minds so few are blown up. The
discipline of living is a fine cooling-jacket for the engine.

It is essential for our apprentice to remember that, though he begin
with the vilest hack-work--writing scoffing paragraphs, or
advertising pamphlets, or freelance snippets for the papers--that
even in hack-work quality shows itself to those competent to judge;
and he need not always subdue his gold to the lead in which he
works. Moreover, conscience and instinct are surprisingly true and
sane. If he follows the suggestions of his own inward, he will
generally be right. Moreover again, no one can help him as much as
he can help himself. There is no job in the writing world that he
cannot have if he really wants it. Writing about something he
intimately knows is a sound principle. Hugh Walpole, that greatly
gifted novelist, taught school after leaving Cambridge, and very
sensibly began by writing about school-teaching. If you care to see
how well he did it, read "The Gods and Mr. Perrin." I would propose
this test to the would-be writer: Does he feel, honestly, that he
could write as convincingly about his own tract of life (whatever it
may be) as Walpole wrote about that boys' school? If so, he has a
true vocation for literature.

The first and most necessary equipment of any writer, be he
reporter, advertising copy-man, poet, or historian, is swift,
lively, accurate observation. And since consciousness is a rapid,
shallow river which we can only rarely dam up deep enough to go
swimming and take our ease, it is his positive need (unless he is a
genius who can afford to let drift away much of his only source of
gold) to keep a note-book handy for the sieving and skimming of this
running stream. Samuel Butler has good advice on this topic. Of
ideas, he says, you must throw salt on their tails or they fly away
and you never see their bright plumage again. Poems, stories,
epigrams, all the happiest freaks of the mind, flit by on wings and
at haphazard instants. They must be caught in air. In this respect
one thinks American writers ought to have an advantage over English,
for American trousers are made with hip-pockets, in which a small
note-book may so comfortably caress the natural curvature of man.

Fancy is engendered in the eyes, said Shakespeare, and is with
gazing fed. By fancy he meant (I suppose) love; but imagination is
also so engendered. Close, constant, vivid, and compassionate gazing
at the ways of mankind is the laboratory manual of literature. But
for most of us we may gaze until our eyeballs twitch with weariness;
unless we seize and hold the flying picture in some steadfast
memorandum, the greater part of our experience dissolves away with
time. If a man has thought sufficiently about the arduous and
variously rewarded profession of literature to propose seriously to
follow it for a living, he will already have said these things to
himself, with more force and pungency. He may have satisfied himself
that he has a necessary desire for "self-expression," which is a
parlous state indeed, and the cause of much literary villainy. The
truly great writer is more likely to write in the hope of expressing
the hearts of others than his own. And there are other desires, too,
most legitimate, that he may feel. An English humorist said recently
in the preface to his book: "I wrote these stories to satisfy an
inward craving--not for artistic expression, but for food and
drink." But I cannot conscientiously advise any man to turn to
writing merely as a means of earning his victual unless he
should, by some cheerful casualty, stumble upon a trick of the
You-know-me-Alfred sort, what one might call the Attabuoyant style.
If all you want is a suggestion as to some honest way of growing
rich, the doughnut industry is not yet overcrowded; and people will
stand in line to pay twenty-two cents for a dab of ice-cream smeared
with a trickle of syrup.

To the man who approaches writing with some decent tincture of
idealism it is well to say that he proposes to use as a trade what
is, at its best and happiest, an art and a recreation. He proposes
to sell his mental reactions to the helpless public, and he proposes
not only to enjoy himself by so doing, but to be handsomely
recompensed withal. He cannot complain that in days when both
honesty and delicacy of mind are none too common we ask him to bring
to his task the humility of the tradesman, the joy of the sportsman,
the conscience of the artist.

And if he does so, he will be in a condition to profit by these
fine words of George Santayana, said of the poet, but applicable to
workers in every branch of literature:

"He labours with his nameless burden of perception, and wastes
himself in aimless impulses of emotion and reverie, until finally
the method of some art offers a vent to his inspiration, or to such
part of it as can survive the test of time and the discipline of
expression.... Wealth of sensation and freedom of fancy, which make
an extraordinary ferment in his ignorant heart, presently bubble
over into some kind of utterance."


       [Illustration]



FULTON STREET, AND WALT WHITMAN


At the suggestion of Mr. Christopher Clarke, the Three Hours for
Lunch Club made pilgrimage to the old seafaring tavern at No. 2
Fulton Street, and found it to be a heavenly place, with listing
brass-shod black walnut stairs and the equally black and delightful
waiter called Oliver, who (said Mr. Clarke) has been there since
1878.

But the club reports that the swordfish steak, of which it partook
as per Mr. Clarke's suggestion, did not appeal so strongly to its
taste. Swordfish steak, we feel, is probably a taste acquired by
long and diligent application. At the first trial it seemed to the
club a bit too reptilian in flavour. The club will go there again,
and will hope to arrive in time to grab one of those tables by the
windows, looking out over the docks and the United Fruit Company
steamer which is so appropriately named the _Banan_; but it is the
sense of the meeting that swordfish steak is not in its line.

The club retorts to Mr. Clarke by asking him if he knows the
downtown chophouse where one may climb sawdusted stairs and sit in a
corner beside a framed copy of the _New-York Daily Gazette_ of May
1, 1789, at a little table incised with the initials of former
habitués, and hold up toward the light a glass of the clearest and
most golden and amberlucent cider known to mankind, and before
attacking a platter of cold ham and Boston beans, may feel that
smiling sensation of a man about to make gradual and decent advances
toward a ripe and ruddy appetite.

Fulton Street has always been renowned for its taverns. The Old
Shakespeare Tavern used to be there, as is shown by the tablet at
No. 136 commemorating the foundation of the Seventh Regiment. The
club has always intended to make more careful exploration of Dutch
Street, the little alley that runs off Fulton Street on the south
side, not far from Broadway. There is an eating place on this byway,
and the organization plans to patronize it, in order to have an
excuse for giving itself the sub-title of the Dutch Street Club. The
more famous eating houses along Fulton Street are known to all: the
name of at least one of them has a genial Queen Anne sound. And
only lately a very seemly coffee house was established not far
from Fulton and Nassau. We must confess our pleasure in the
fact that this place uses as its motto a footnote from The
_Spectator_--"Whoever wished to find a gentleman commonly asked not
where he resided, but which coffee house he frequented."

Among the many things to admire along Fulton Street (not the least
of which are Dewey's puzzling perpetually fluent grape-juice bottle,
and the shop where the trained ferrets are kept, for chasing out
rats, mice, and cockroaches from your house, the sign says) we vote
for that view of the old houses along the south side of the street,
where it widens out toward the East River. This vista of tall,
leaning chimneys seems to us one of the most agreeable things in New
York, and we wonder whether any artist has ever drawn it. As our
colleague Endymion suggested, it would make a fine subject for
Walter Jack Duncan. In the eastern end of this strip of fine old
masonry resides the seafaring tavern we spoke of above; formerly
known as Sweet's, and a great place of resort (we are told) for
Brooklynites in the palmy days before the Bridge was opened, when
they used to stop there for supper before taking the Fulton Ferry
across the perilous tideway.

The Fulton Ferry--dingy and deserted now--is full of fine memories.
The old waiting room, with its ornate carved ceiling and fine,
massive gas brackets, peoples itself, in one's imagination, with the
lively and busy throngs of fifty and sixty years ago. "My life then
(1850-60) was curiously identified with Fulton Ferry, already
becoming the greatest in the world for general importance, volume,
variety, rapidity, and picturesqueness." So said Walt Whitman. It is
a curious experience to step aboard one of the boats in the drowsy
heat of a summer afternoon and take the short voyage over to the
Brooklyn slip, underneath one of the huge piers of the Bridge. A few
heavy wagons and heat-oppressed horses are almost the only other
passengers. Not far away from the ferry, on the Brooklyn side, are
the three charmingly named streets--Cranberry, Orange, and
Pineapple--which are also so lastingly associated with Walt
Whitman's life. It strikes us as odd, incidentally, that Walt, who
loved Brooklyn so much, should have written a phrase so capable of
humorous interpretation as the following: "Human appearances and
manners--endless humanity in all its phases--Brooklyn also." This
you will find in Walt's Prose Works, which is (we suppose) one of
the most neglected of American classics.

      [Illustration: Drawing of "Lightning" statue]

But Fulton Street, Manhattan--in spite of its two greatest triumphs:
Evelyn Longman Batchelder's glorious figure of "Lightning," and the
strictly legal "three grains of pepsin" which have been a comfort to
so many stricken invalids--is a mere byway compared to Fulton
Street, Brooklyn, whose long bustling channel may be followed right
out into the Long Island pampas. At the corner of Fulton and
Cranberry streets "Leaves of Grass" was set up and printed, Walt
Whitman himself setting a good deal of the type. Ninety-eight
Cranberry Street, we have always been told, was the address of
Andrew and James Rome, the printers. The house at that corner is
still numbered 98. The ground floor is occupied by a clothing store,
a fruit stand, and a barber shop. The building looks as though it is
probably the same one that Walt knew. Opposite it is a sign where
the comparatively innocent legend BEN'S PURE LAGER has been
deleted.

The pilgrim on Fulton Street will also want to have a look at the
office of the Brooklyn _Eagle_, that famous paper which has numbered
among its employees two such different journalists as Walt Whitman
and Edward Bok. There are many interesting considerations to be
drawn from the two volumes of Walt's writings for the _Eagle_, which
were collected (under the odd title "The Gathering of the Forces")
by Cleveland Rodgers and John Black. We have always been struck by
the complacent naïveté of Walt's judgments on literature (written,
perhaps, when he was in a hurry to go swimming down at the foot of
Fulton Street). Such remarks as the following make us ponder a
little sadly. Walt wrote:

     We are no admirer of such characters as Doctor Johnson. He was
     a sour, malicious, egotistical man. He was a sycophant of power
     and rank, withal; his biographer narrates that he "always spoke
     with rough contempt of popular liberty." His head was educated
     to the point of _plus_, but for his heart, might still more
     unquestionably stand the sign _minus_. He insulted his equals
     ... and tyrannized over his inferiors. He fawned upon his
     superiors, and, of course, loved to be fawned upon himself....
     Nor were the freaks of this man the mere "eccentricities of
     genius"; they were probably the faults of a vile, low nature.
     His soul was a bad one.

The only possible comment on all this is that it is absurd, and that
evidently Walt knew very little about the great Doctor. One of the
curious things about Walt--and there is no man living who admires
him more than we do--is that he requires to be forgiven more
generously than any other great writer. There is no one who has ever
done more grotesquely unpardonable things than he--and yet, such is
the virtue of his great, saline simplicity, one always pardons them.
As a book reviewer, to judge from the specimens rescued from the
_Eagle_ files by his latest editors, he was uniquely childish.

Noting the date of Walt's blast on Doctor Johnson (December 7,
1846), it is doubtful whether we can attribute the irresponsibility
of his remarks to a desire to go swimming.

The editors of this collection venture the suggestion that the
lighter pieces included show Walt as "not devoid of humour." We fear
that Walt's waggishness was rather heavily shod. Here is a sample of
his light-hearted paragraphing (the italics are his):--

     Carelessly knocking a man's eye out with a broken axe, may be
     termed a _bad axe-i-dent_.

It was in Leon Bazalgette's "Walt Whitman" that we learned of Walt's
only really humorous achievement; and even then the humour was
unconscious. It seems that during the first days of his life as a
journalist in New York, Walt essayed to compromise with Mannahatta
by wearing a frock coat, a high hat, and a flower in his lapel. We
regret greatly that no photo of Walt in this rig has been preserved,
for we would like to have seen the gentle misery of his bearing.


      [Illustration]



McSORLEY'S


This afternoon we have been thinking how pleasant it would be to sit
at one of those cool tables up at McSorley's and write our copy
there. We have always been greatly allured by Dick Steele's habit of
writing his Tatler at his favourite tavern. You remember his
announcement, dated April 12, 1709:

     All accounts of gallantry, pleasure, and entertainment, shall
     be under the article of White's Chocolate-house; poetry, under
     that of Will's Coffee-house; learning, under the title of The
     Grecian; foreign and domestic news, you will have from Saint
     James's Coffee-house; and what else I have to offer on any
     other subject shall be dated from my own apartment.

Sir Dick--would one speak of him as the first colyumist?--continued
by making what is, we suppose, one of the earliest references in
literature to the newspaper man's "expense account." But the
expenses of the reporter two centuries ago seem rather modest.
Steele said:

     I once more desire my reader to consider that as I cannot keep
     an ingenious man to go daily to Will's under twopence each day,
     merely for his charges; to White's under sixpence; nor to The
     Grecian, without allowing him some plain Spanish, to be as able
     as others at the learned table; and that a good observer cannot
     speak with even Kidney[*] at Saint James's without clean linen:
     I say, these considerations will, I hope, make all persons
     willing to comply with my humble request of a penny-a-piece.

                                          [* Evidently the bus boy.]

But what we started to say was that if, like Dick Steele, we were in
the habit of dating our stuff from various inns around the town, our
choice for a quiet place in which to compose items of "gallantry,
pleasure, and entertainment" would be McSorley's--"The Old House at
Home"--up on Seventh Street. We had feared that this famous old
cabin of cheer might have gone west in the recent evaporation; but
rambling round in the neighbourhood of the Cooper Union we saw its
familiar doorway with a shock of glad surprise. After all, there is
no reason why the old-established houses should not go on doing a
good business on a Volstead basis. It has never been so much a
question of what a man drinks as the atmosphere in which he drinks
it. Atrocious cleanliness and glitter and raw naked marble make the
soda fountains a disheartening place to the average male. He likes
a dark, low-ceilinged, and not too obtrusively sanitary place to
take his ease. At McSorley's is everything that the innocent
fugitive from the world requires. The great amiable cats that purr
in the back room. The old pictures and playbills on the walls. The
ancient clocks that hoarsely twang the hours. We cannot imagine a
happier place to sit down with a pad of paper and a well-sharpened
pencil than at that table in the corner by the window. Or the table
just under that really lovely little portrait of Robert Burns--would
there be any more propitious place in New York at which to fashion
verses? There would be no interruptions, such as make versifying
almost impossible in a newspaper office. The friendly bartenders in
their lilac-coloured shirts are wise and gracious men. They would
not break in upon one's broodings. Every now and then, while the hot
sun smote the awnings outside, there would be another china mug of
that one-half-of-1-per-cent. ale, which seems to us very good. We
repeat: we don't care so much what we drink as the surroundings
among which we drink it. We are not, if you will permit the phrase,
sot in our ways. We like the spirit of McSorley's, which is decent,
dignified, and refined. No club has an etiquette more properly
self-respecting.

One does not go to McSorley's without a glimpse at that curious old
red pile Bible House. It happened this way: Our friend Endymion was
back from his vacation and we were trying to celebrate it in modest
fashion. We were telling him all the things that had happened since
he went away--that Bob Holliday had had a fortieth birthday, and
Frank Shay had published his bibliography of Walt Whitman, and all
that sort of thing; and in our mutual excitement Endymion whisked
too swiftly round a corner and caught his jacket on a sharp
door-latch and tore it. Inquiring at Astor Place's biggest
department store as to where we could get it mended, they told us to
go to "Mr. Wright the weaver" on the sixth floor of Bible House, and
we did so. On our way back, avoiding the ancient wire rope elevator
(we know only one other lift so delightfully mid-Victorian, viz.,
one in Boston, that takes you upstairs to see Edwin Edgett, the
gentle-hearted literary editor of the Boston _Transcript_), we
walked down the stairs, peeping into doorways in great curiosity.
The whole building breathed a dusky and serene quaintness that
pricks the imagination. It is a bit like the shop in Edinburgh (on
the corner of the Leith Walk and Antigua Street, if we remember)
that R.L.S. described in "A Penny Plain and Twopence Coloured"--"it
was dark and smelt of Bibles." We looked in at the entrance to the
offices of the _Christian Herald_. The Bowling Green thought that
what he saw was two young ladies in close and animated converse; but
Endymion insisted that it was one young lady doing her hair in front
of a large mirror. "Quite a pretty little picture," said Endymion.
We argued about this as we went down the stairs. Finally we went
back to make sure. Endymion was right. Even in the darkness of Bible
House, we agreed, romance holds sway. And then we found a book shop
on the ground floor of Bible House. One of our discoveries there was
"Little Mr. Bouncer," by Cuthbert Bede--a companion volume to "Mr.
Verdant Green."

But Dick Steele's idea of writing his column from different taverns
round the city is rather gaining ground in our affections. There
would be no more exciting way of spending a fortnight or so than in
taking a walking tour through the forests of New York, camping
for the night wherever we happened to find ourself at dark,
Adam-and-Evesdropping as we went, and giving the nearest small boy
fifty cents to take our copy down to the managing editor. Some of
our enterprising clients, who are not habitual commuters and who
live in a state of single cussedness, might try it some time.

The only thing we missed at McSorley's, we might add, was the
old-time plate of onions. But then we were not there at lunch time,
and the pungent fruit may have been hidden away in the famous tall
ice box. Hutchins Hapgood once said, in an article about McSorley's
in _Harper's Weekly_: "The wives of the men who frequent McSorley's
always know where their husbands have been. There is no mistaking a
McSorley onion." He was right. The McSorley onion--"rose among
roots"--was _sui generis_. It had a reach and authenticity all its
own.

We have said a good deal, now and then, about some of the taverns
and chophouses we enjoy; but the one that tingles most strongly in
our bosom is one that doesn't exist. That is the chophouse that
might be put in the cellar of that glorious old round-towered
building at 59 Ann Street.

As you go along Ann Street, you will come, between numbers 57 and
61, to an old passage-way running down to a curious courtyard, which
is tenanted mostly by carpenters and iron-workers, and by a crowded
store which seems to be a second-hand ship-chandlery, for old
sea-boots, life preservers, fenders, ship's lanterns, and flags hang
on the wall over the high stairway. In the cellars are smithies
where you will see the bright glare of a forge and men with faces
gleaming in tawny light pulling shining irons out of the fire. The
whole place is too fascinating to be easily described. That
round-tower house is just our idea of the right place for a quiet
tavern or club, where one would go in at lunch time, walk over a
sawdusted floor to a table bleached by many litres of slopovers,
light a yard of clay, and call for a platter of beefsteak pie. The
downtown region is greatly in need of the kind of place we have in
mind, and if any one cares to start a chophouse in that heavenly
courtyard, the Three Hours for Lunch Club pledges itself to attend
regularly.


      [Illustration]



A PORTRAIT


"My idea of life," said my friend S----, "would be to have a nice
lawn running down to the water, several deck-chairs, plenty of
tobacco, and three or four of us to sit there all day long and
listen to B---- talk."

I suppose that B----,--I wish I could name him, but it would be an
indecency to do so, for part of his charm is his complete
unconsciousness of the affection, and even adoration, of the little
group of younger men who call themselves his "fans"--I suppose that
B----'s talk is as nearly Johnsonian in virtue and pungency as any
spoken wisdom now hearable in this country. To know him is, in the
absolute truth of that enduring phrase, a liberal education. To his
simplicity, his valorous militancy for truth, he joins the mind of
a great scholar, the placable spirit of an eager child.

I said "Johnsonian"--yet even in the great Doctor as we have him
recorded there were a certain truculence and vehemence that are a
little foreign to B----'s habit. Fearless champion as he is, there
is always a gentleness about him. Even when his voice deepens and he
is well launched on a long argument, he is never brutally dogmatic,
never cruelly discourteous.

The beauty of B----'s talk, the quality that would make it a
delight to listen to him all a summer afternoon, is that he gives,
unconsciously, a perfect exhibition of a perfect process, a great mind
in motion. His mind is too full, too crowded, too ratiocinative, for
easy and frugal utterance. Sometimes, unless one is an acute listener,
he is almost incoherent in his zeal to express all the phases and
facets of the thought that flashes upon him. And yet, if one could
(unknown to him) have a stenographer behind the arras to take it all
down, so that his argument could be analyzed at leisure, it would show
its anatomical knitting and structure. Do you remember how Burke's
speech on Conciliation was parsed and sub-headed in the preface to the
school-texts? Just so, in I and II and III, A. B. and C, ([alpha]),
([beta]), and ([gamma]), i, ii, and iii, we could articulate the
strict and bony logic that vertebrates B----'s talk. Reservations,
exceptions, qualifications, parentheses, sub-clauses, and humorous
paraphrases swim upon him as he goes, and he deals with each as it
comes. Sometimes, one thinks, he has lost the spine of the discourse,
is mazed in a ganglion of nerves and sinews. But no! give him time and
back he comes to the marrow of his theme!

What a happiness this is to listen to--he (bless his heart) now and
then apologizing for his copiousness, little dreaming that we are
all better men for hearing him; that his great gray head and clear
kindly eye ("His mild and magnificent eye": whose is that phrase?)
are to us a symbol of Socratic virtue and power; that there is not
one of us who, after an hour or so with him, does not depart with
private resolutions of honour and fidelity to wisdom. How he
irrigates his subject, whatever it is.

I'll tell you who Time gallops withal! It is when B---- sits down at
a corner table of some chophouse, and (the rest of us seeing to it
that the meal gets ordered, and now and then saying something about
the food so that he will remember to eat) we marvel to watch the
glow and business of a mind so great paired with a heart so simple.

"My idea is this," he says, "subject to an exception which I will
state in a moment." Taking up his exception, he makes it so lucid,
so pregnant, so comprehensive, so irresistible, that it seems to us
the whole and satisfying dogma; and then, suddenly turning it
inside-outward, he reveals the seams, and we remember that it was
only a trifling nexus in the rational series. He returns to his main
thesis, and other counterpoising arguments occur to him. He outlines
them, with delicious Æsopian sagacity. "Of course this analysis is
only quantitative, not qualitative," he says. "But I will now
restate my position with all the necessary reservations, and we'll
see if it will hold water."

We smile, and look at each other slyly, in the sheer happiness of
enjoying a perfect work of art. He must be a mere quintain, a poor
lifeless block, who does not revel in such an exhibition, where
those two rare qualities of mind--honesty and agility--are locked in
one.

Of course--it is hardly necessary to say--we do not always agree
with everything he says. But we could not disagree with _him_; for
we see that his broad, shrewd, troubled spirit could take no other
view, arising out of the very multitude and swarm and pressure of
his thought. Those who plod diligently and narrowly along a country
lane may sometimes reach the destination less fatigued than the more
conscientious and passionate traveller who quarters the fields and
beats the bounds, intent to leave no covert unscrutinized. But in
him we see and love and revere something rare and precious, not
often found in our present way of life; in matters concerning the
happiness of others, a devoted spirit of unrivalled wisdom; in those
pertaining to himself, a child's unblemished innocence. The
perplexities of others are his daily study; his own pleasures, a
constant surprise.


      [Illustration]



GOING TO PHILADELPHIA


I

Every intelligent New Yorker should be compelled, once in so often,
to run over to Philadelphia and spend a few days quietly and
observantly prowling.

Any lover of America is poor indeed unless he has savoured and
meditated the delicious contrast of these two cities, separated by
so few miles and yet by a whole world of philosophy and metaphysics.
But he is a mere tyro of the two who has only made the voyage by the
P.R.R. The correct way to go is by the Reading, which makes none of
those annoying intermediate stops at Newark, Trenton, and so on,
none of that long detour through West Philadelphia, starts you off
with a ferry ride and a background of imperial campaniles and
lilac-hazed cliffs and summits in the superb morning light. And the
Reading route, also, takes you through a green Shakespearean land of
beauty, oddly different from the flat scrubby plains traversed by
the Pennsy. Consider, if you will, the hills of the idyllic
Huntington Valley as you near Philadelphia; or the little white town
of Hopewell, N.J., with its pointing church spire. We have often
been struck by the fact that the foreign traveller between New York
and Washington on the P.R.R. must think America the most flat,
dreary, and uninteresting countryside in the world. Whereas if he
would go from Jersey City by the joint Reading-Central New
Jersey-B.&O. route, how different he would find it. No, we are not
a Reading stockholder.

We went over to Philly, after having been unfaithful to her for too
many months. Now we have had from time to time, most menacing
letters from indignant clients, protesting that we have been
unfaithful to all the tenets and duties of a Manhattan journalist
because we have with indecent candour confessed an affection for
both Brooklyn and Philadelphia. We lay our cards on the table. We
can't help it. Philadelphia was the first large city we ever knew,
and how she speaks to us! And there's a queer thing about
Philadelphia, hardly believable to the New Yorker who has never
conned her with an understanding eye. You emerge from the Reading
Terminal (or, if you will, from Broad Street Station) with just a
little superbness of mood, just a tinge of worldly disdain, as
feeling yourself fresh from the grandeur of Manhattan and showing
perhaps (you fondly dream) some pride of metropolitan bearing. Very
well. Within half an hour you will be apologizing for New York. In
their quiet, serene, contented way those happy Philadelphians will
be making you a little shame-faced of the bustling madness of our
heaven-touching Babel. Of course, your secret adoration of
Manhattan, the greatest wild poem ever begotten by the heart of man,
is not readily transmissible. You will stammer something of what it
means to climb upward from the subway on a spring morning and see
that golden figure over Fulton Street spreading its shining wings
above the new day. And they will smile gently, that knowing, amiable
Philadelphia smile.

We were false to our credo in that we went via the P.R.R., but we
were compensated by a man who was just behind us at the ticket
window. He asked for a ticket to Asbury Park. "Single, or return?"
asked the clerk. "I don't believe I'll ever come back," he said, but
with so unconsciously droll an accent that the ticket seller
screamed with mirth.

There was something very thrilling in strolling again along Chestnut
Street, watching all those delightful people who are so unconscious
of their characteristic qualities. New York has outgrown that stage
entirely: New Yorkers are conscious of being New Yorkers, but
Philadelphians are Philadelphians without knowing it; and hence
their unique delightfulness to the observer. Nothing seemed to us
at all changed--except that the trolleys have raised their fare from
five cents to seven. The Liberty Toggery Shop down on Chestnut
Street was still "Going Out of Business," just as it was a couple of
years ago. Philip Warner, the famous book salesman at Leary's Old
Book Store, was out having lunch, as usual. The first book our eye
fell upon was "The Experiences of an Irish R.M.," which we had
hunted in vain in these parts. The only other book that caught our
eye particularly was a copy of "Patrins," by Louise Guiney, which we
saw a lady carrying on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania.

But perhaps New York exerts its own fascination upon Philadelphians,
too. For when we returned we selfishly persuaded a friend of ours to
ride with us on the train so that we might imbibe some of his ripe
orotund philosophy, which we had long been deprived of. He is a
merciless Celt, and all the way over he preached us a cogent sermon
on our shortcomings and backslidings. Faithful are the wounds of a
friend, and it was nice to know that there was still someone who
cared enough for us to give us a sound cursing. Between times, while
we were catching breath, he expatiated upon the fact that New York
is death and damnation to the soul; but when we got to Manhattan
Transfer he suddenly abandoned his intended plan of there catching
the next train back to the land of Penn. A curious light began to
gleam in his mild eyes; he settled his hat firmly upon his head and
strode out into the Penn Station. "I think I'll go out and look
round a bit," he said. We wonder whether he has gone back yet?


II

The other day we had a chance to go to Philadelphia in the right
way--by the Reading, the P. and R., the Peaceful and Rapid. As one
of our missions in life is to persuade New York and Philadelphia to
love one another, we will tell you about it.

Ah, the jolly old Reading! Take the 10 o'clock ferry from Liberty
Street, and as the _Plainfield_ kicks herself away from the slip
with a churning of cream and silver, study Manhattan's profile in
the downpour of morning sun. That winged figure on the Tel and Tel
Building (the loveliest thing in New York, we insist) is like a huge
and queerly erect golden butterfly perched momently in the blue. The
10:12 train from Jersey City we call the Max Beerbohm Special
because there are Seven Men in the smoker. No, the Reading is never
crowded. (Two more men did get on at Elizabeth.) You can make
yourself comfortable, put your coat, hat, and pipecleaners on one
seat, your books, papers, and matches on another. Here is the stout
conductor whom we used to know so well by sight, with his gold
insignia. He has forgotten that we once travelled with him
regularly, and very likely he wonders why we beam so cheerfully. We
flash down the Bayonne peninsula, with a glimpse of the harbour,
Staten Island in the distance, a schooner lying at anchor. Then we
cross Newark Bay, pure opaline in a clear, pale blue light. H.G.
Dwight is the only other chap who really enjoys Newark Bay the way
it deserves to be. He wrote a fine poem about it once.

But we had one great disappointment. For an hour or so we read a
rubbishy novel, thinking to ourself that when the Max Beerbohm
Express reached that lovely Huntington Valley neighbourhood, we
would lay down the book and study the scenery, which we know by
heart. When we came to the Neshaminy, that blithe little green
river, we were all ready to be thrilled. And then the train swung
away to the left along the cut-off to Wayne Junction and we missed
our bright Arcadia. We had wanted to see again the little cottage at
Meadowbrook (so like the hunting lodge in the forest in "The
Prisoner of Zenda") which a suasive real-estate man once tried to
rent to us. (Philadelphia realtors are no less ingenious than the
New York species.) We wanted to see again the old barn, rebuilt by
an artist, at Bethayres, which he also tried to rent to us. We
wanted to see again the queer "desirable residence" (near the gas
tanks at Marathon) which he did rent us. But we had to content
ourself with the scenery along the cut-off, which is pleasant enough
in its way--there is a brown-green brook along a valley where a
buggy was crawling down a lane among willow trees in a wealth of
sunlight. And the dandelions are all out in those parts. Yes, it was
a lovely morning. We found ourself pierced by the kind of mysterious
placid melancholy that we only enjoy to the full in a Reading
smoker, when, for some unknown reason, hymn tunes come humming into
our head and we are alarmed to notice ourself falling in love with
humanity as a whole.

We could write a whole newspaper page about travelling to Philly on
the Reading. Consider those little back gardens near Wayne Junction,
how delightfully clean, neat, domestic, demure. Compare entering New
York toward the Grand Central, down that narrow frowning alleyway of
apartment house backs, with imprisoned children leaning from barred
windows. But as you spin toward Wayne Junction you see acres and
acres of trim little houses, each with a bright patch of turf. Here
is a woman in a blue dress and white cap, busily belabouring a rug
on the grass. The bank of the cutting by Wayne Junction is thick
with a tangle of rosebushes which will presently be in blossom; we
know them well. Spring Garden Street: if you know where to look you
can catch a blink of Edgar Allan Poe's little house. Through a
jumble of queer old brick chimneys and dormers, and here we are at
the Reading Terminal, with its familiar bitter smell of coal gas.

Of course we stop to have a look at the engine, one of those
splendid Reading locos with the three great driving wheels. Splendid
things, the big Reading locos; when they halt they pant so
cheerfully and noisily, like huge dogs, much louder than any other
engines. We always expect to see an enormous red tongue running in
and out over the cowcatcher. Vast thick pants, as the poet said in
"Khubla Khan." We can't remember if he wore them, or breathed them,
but there it is in the poem; look it up. Reading engineers, too,
always give us a sense of security. They have gray hair, cropped
very close. They have a benign look, rather like Walt Whitman if he
were shaved. We wrote a poem about one of them once, Tom Hartzell,
who used to take the 5:12 express out of Jersey City.

Philadelphia, incidentally, is the only large city where the Dime
Museum business still flourishes. For the first thing we see on
leaving the Terminal is that the old Bingham Hotel is now The
World's Museum, given over to Ursa the Bear Girl and similar
excitements. But where is the beautiful girl with slick dark hair
who used to be at the Reading terminal news-stand?

How much more we could tell you about travelling on the Reading! We
would like to tell you about the queer assortment of books we
brought back with us. (There were twelve men in the smoker, coming
home.) We could tell how we tried to buy, without being observed, a
magazine which we will call _Foamy Fiction_, in order to see what
the new editor (a friend of ours) is printing. Also, we always buy a
volume of Gissing when we go to Philly, and this time we found "In
the Year of Jubilee" in the shop of Jerry Cullen, the delightful
bookseller who used to be so redheaded, but is getting over it now
in the most logical way. We could tell you about the lovely old
whitewashed stone farmhouses (with barns painted red on behalf of
Schenk's Mandrake Pills) and about the famous curve near Roelofs, so
called because the soup rolls off the table in the dining car when
they take the curve at full speed; and about Bound Brook, which has
a prodigious dump of tin cans that catches the setting sunlight----

It makes us sad to think that a hundred years hence people will be
travelling along that road and never know how much we loved it. They
will be doing so to-morrow, too; but it seems more mournful to think
about the people a hundred years hence.

When we got back to Jersey City, and stood on the front end of the
ferryboat, Manhattan was piling up all her jewels into the cold
green dusk. There were a few stars, just about as many as there are
passengers in a Reading smoker. There was one big star directly over
Brooklyn, and another that seemed to be just above Plainfield. We
pondered, as the ferry slid toward its hutch at Liberty Street, that
there were no stars above Manhattan. Just at that moment--five
minutes after seven--the pinnacle of the Woolworth blossomed a ruby
red. New York makes her own.


III

You never know when an adventure is going to begin. But on a train
is a good place to lie in wait for them. So we sat down in the
smoker of the 10 A.M. Eastern Standard Time P.R.R. express to
Philadelphia, in a receptive mood.

At Manhattan Transfer the brakeman went through the train, crying in
a loud, clear, emphatic barytone: "Next stop for this train is North
Philadelphia!"

We sat comfortably, and in that mood of secretly exhilarated mental
activity which is induced by riding on a fast train. We were looking
over the June _Atlantic_. We smiled gently to ourself at that
unconscious breath of New England hauteur expressed in the
publisher's announcement, "_The edition of the Atlantic is carefully
restricted._" Then, meditating also on the admirable sense and skill
with which the magazine is edited, and getting deep into William
Archer's magnificent article "The Great Stupidity" (which we hope
all our clients will read) we became aware of outcries of anguish
and suffering in the aisle near by.

At Manhattan Transfer a stout little man with a fine domy forehead
and a derby hat tilted rather far aft had entered the smoker. He
suddenly learned that the train did not stop at Newark. He uttered
lamentation, and attacked the brakeman with grievous protest. "I
heard you say, This train stops at Newark and Philadelphia," he
insisted. His cigar revolved wildly in the corner of his mouth;
crystal beads burst out upon the opulent curve of his forehead.
"I've got to meet a man in Newark and sell him a bill of goods."

The brakeman was gentle but firm. "Here's the conductor," he said.
"You'll have to talk to him."

Now this is a tribute of admiration and respect to that conductor.
He came along the aisle punching tickets, holding his record slip
gracefully folded round the middle finger of his punch hand, as
conductors do. Like all experienced conductors he was alert,
watchful, ready for any kind of human guile and stupidity, but
courteous the while. The man bound for Newark ran to him and began
his harangue. The frustrated merchant was angry and felt himself a
man with a grievance. His voice rose in shrill tones, he waved his
hands.

Then began a scene that was delightful to watch. The conductor was
magnificently tactful. He ought to have been an ambassador (in fact,
he reminded us of one ambassador, for his trim and slender figure,
his tawny, drooping moustache, the gentle and serene tact of his
bearing, were very like Mr. Henry van Dyke). He allowed the
protestant to exhaust himself with reproaches, and then he began an
affectionate little sermon, tender, sympathetic, but firm.

"I thought this train stopped at Newark," the fat man kept on
saying.

"You mustn't think, you must _know_," said the conductor, gazing
shrewdly at him above the rims of his demi-lune spectacles. "Now,
why did you get on a train without making sure where it stopped? You
heard the brakeman say: 'Newark and Philadelphia'? No; he said
'North Philadelphia.' Yes, I know you were in a hurry, but that
wasn't our fault, was it? Now, let me tell you something: I've been
working for this company for twenty-five years...."

Unhappily the noise of the train prevented us from hearing the
remark that followed. We were remembering a Chinese translation that
we made once. It went something like this:

             A SUSPICIOUS NATURE

         _Whenever I travel
          I ask at least three train-men
          If this is the right train
          For where I am going,
          Even then
          I hardly believe them._

But as we watched the two, the conductor gently convincing the
irate passenger that he would have to abide by his mistake, and the
truculent fat man gradually realizing that he was hopelessly in the
wrong, a new aspect subtly came over the dialogue. We saw the stout
man wither and droop. We thought he was going to die. His hat slid
farther and farther upward on his dewy brow. His hands fluttered.
His cigar, grievously chewed, trembled in its corner of his mouth.
His fine dark eyes filled with tears.

The conductor, you see, was explaining that he would have to pay the
fare to North Philadelphia and then take the first train back from
there to Newark.

We feared, for a few minutes, that it really would be a case for a
chirurgeon, with cupping and leeching and smelling salts. Our rotund
friend was in a bad way. His heart, plainly, was broken. From his
right-hand trouser emerged a green roll. With delicate speed and
tact the conductor hastened this tragic part of the performance. His
silver punch flashed in his hand as he made change, issued a cash
slip, and noted the name and address of the victim, for some
possible future restitution, we surmised, or perhaps only as a
generous anæsthetic.

The stout man sat down a few seats in front of us and we studied his
back. We have never seen a more convincing display of chagrin. With
a sombre introspective stare he gazed glassily before him. We never
saw any one show less enthusiasm for the scenery. The train flashed
busily along through the level green meadows, which blended exactly
with the green plush of the seats, but our friend was lost in a
gruesome trance. Even his cigar (long since gone out) was still,
save for an occasional quiver.

The conductor came to our seat, looking, good man, faintly stern and
sad, like a good parent who has had, regretfully, to chastise an
erring urchin.

"Well," we said, "the next time that chap gets on a train he'll take
care to find out where it stops."

The conductor smiled, but a humane, understanding smile. "I try to
be fair with 'em," he said.

"I think you were a wonder," we said.

By the time we reached North Philadelphia the soothing hand of Time
had exerted some of its consolation. The stout man wore a faintly
sheepish smile as he rose to escape. The brakeman was in the
vestibule. He, younger than the conductor, was no less kind, but we
would hazard that he is not quite as resigned to mortal error and
distress. He spoke genially, but there was a note of honest rebuke
in his farewell.

"The next time you get on a train," he said, "watch your stop."


      [Illustration]



OUR TRICOLOUR TIE


We went up to the composing room just now to consult our privy
counsellor, Peter Augsberger, the make-up man, and after Peter had
told us about his corn----

It is really astonishing, by the way, how many gardeners there are
in a newspaper office. We once worked in a place where a
horticultural magazine and a beautiful journal of rustic life were
published, and the delightful people who edited those magazines were
really men about town; but here in the teeming city and in the very
node of urban affairs, to wit, the composing room, one hears nought
but merry gossip about gardens, and the great and good men by whom
we are surrounded begin their day by gazing tenderly upon jars full
of white iris. And has not our friend Charley Sawyer of the dramatic
department given us a lot of vegetable marrow seeds from his own
garden and greatly embarrassed us by so doing, for he has put them
in two packets marked "Male" and "Female," and to tell the truth we
had no idea that the matter of sex extended even as far as the
apparently placid and unperturbed vegetable marrow. Mr. Sawyer
explained carefully to us just how the seeds ought to be planted,
the males and females in properly wedded couples, we think he said;
but we are not quite sure, and we are too modest to ask him to
explain again; but if we should make a mistake in planting those
seeds, if we were to---- Come, we are getting away from our topic.
Peter had told us about his corn, in his garden, that is, out in
Nutley (and that reminds us of the difficulties of reading poetry
aloud. Mr. Chesterton tells somewhere a story about a poem of
Browning's that he heard read aloud when he was a child, and
understood the poem to say "John scorns ale."

Now Mr. Chesterton--you understand, of course, we are referring to
Gilbert Keith Chesterton--being from his very earliest youth an
avowed partisan of malt liquor, this heresy made an impression upon
his tender cortex, and he never forgot about John, in Browning's
poem, scorning ale. But many years afterward, reading Browning, he
found that the words really were: "John's corns ail," meaning
apparently that John was troubled by pedal callouses.) Peter, we
repeat, and to avoid any further misunderstanding and press
diligently toward our theme, having mentioned his garden, who
should come up to us but Pete Corcoran, also of the composing room
force, and a waggish friend of ours, and gazing on us in a manner
calculated to make us feel ill at ease he said, "I suppose you are
going to write something about that tie of yours."

Now we were wearing a scarf that we are very fond of, the kind of
tie, we believe, that is spoken of as "regimental stripes"; at any
rate, it is designated with broad diagonal bands of colour: claret,
gold, and blue. It was obvious to us that Pete Corcoran, or, to give
him his proper name, Mr. Corcoran, had said what he did merely in a
humorous way, or possibly satiric, implying that we are generally so
hard up for something to write about that we would even undertake so
trifling a subject as haberdashery; but as we went downstairs again
to our kennel, _au dixième_, as Mr. Wanamaker would call it, we
thought seriously about this and decided that we would cause Pete's
light-hearted suggestion to recoil violently upon his friendly brow,
and that we would write a little essay about this tie and tell its
story, which, to be honest, is very interesting to us. And this
essay we are now endeavouring to write, even if it has to run in
several instalments.

It was curious, incidentally (but not really more curious than most
human affairs), that Pete (or Mr. Corcoran) whether he was merely
chaffing us, or whether he was really curious about a scarf of such
wanton colour scheme, should have mentioned it just when he did, for
as a matter of fact that tie had been on our mind all morning. You
see to-day being warm (and please remember that what we call
to-day, is now, when you are reading this, yesterday) we did not
wear our waistcoat, or, if you prefer, our vest; but by the time we
had decided not to wear our waistcoat we had already tied our scarf
in the usual way we tie that particular scarf when we wear it, viz.,
so as to conceal a certain spot on it which got there we know not
how. We do not know what kind of a spot it is; perhaps it is a soup
stain, perhaps it is due to a shrimp salad we had with Endymion at
that amusing place that calls itself the Crystal Palace; we will not
attempt to trace the origin of that swarthy blemish on the soft silk
of our tie; but we have cunningly taught ourself to knot the thing
so that the spot does not show. (Good, we have made that plain: we
are getting along famously.)

Since the above was written we have been uptown and had lunch with
Alf Harcourt and Will Howe and other merry gentlemen; and Will Howe,
who used to be a professor of English and is now a publisher, says
we ought to break up our essays into shorter paragraphs. We are fain
and teachable, as someone once said in a very pretty poem; we will
start a new paragraph right away.

But when our tie is tied in the manner described above, it leaves
one end very much longer than the other. This is not noticeable when
we wear our waistcoat; but having left off our waistcoat, we were
fearful that the manner in which our tie was disposed would attract
attention; and everyone would suspect just why it was tied in that
way.

And we did not have time to take it off and put on another one,
because we had to catch the 8:06.

So when Pete Corcoran spoke about our tie, was that what was in his
mind, we wondered? Did he _infer_ the existence of that spot, even
though he did not see it? And did he therefore look down upon, or
otherwise feel inclined to belittle our tie? If that were the case,
we felt that we really owed it to ourself to tell the story of the
tie, how we bought it, and why; and just why that tie is to us not
merely a strip of rather gaudy neckwear, but a symbol of an
enchanting experience, a memory and token of an epoch in our life,
the sign and expression of a certain feeling that can never come
again--and, indeed (as the sequel will show), that should not have
come when it did.

It was a bright morning, last November, in Gloversville, New York,
when we bought that tie. Now an explanation of just why we bought
that tie, and what we were doing in Gloversville, cannot possibly be
put into a paragraph, at any rate the kind of paragraph that Will
Howe (who used to be a professor of English) would approve. On the
whole, rather than rewrite the entire narrative, tersely, we will
have to postpone the dénouement (of the story, not the tie) until
to-morrow. This is an exhibition of the difficulty of telling
anything exactly. There are so many subsidiary considerations that
beg for explanation. Please be patient, Pete, and to-morrow we will
explain that tie in detail.


II

It was a bright and transparent cold morning in Gloversville, N.Y.,
November, 1919, and passing out of the Kingsborough Hotel we set off
to have a look at the town. And if we must be honest, we were in
passable good humour. To tell the truth, as Gloversville began its
daily tasks in that clear lusty air and in a white dazzling
sunshine, we believed, simpleton that we were, that we were on the
road toward making our fortune. Now, we will have to be brief in
explanation of the reason why we felt so, for it is a matter not
easy to discuss with the requisite delicacy. Shortly, we were on the
road--"trouping," they call it in the odd and glorious world of the
theatre--with a little play in which we were partially incriminated,
on a try-out voyage of one-night stands. The night before, the
company had played Johnstown (a few miles from Gloversville), and if
we do have to say it, the good-natured citizens of that admirable
town had given them an enthusiastic reception. So friendly indeed
had been our houses on the road and so genially did the company
manager smile upon us that any secret doubts and qualms we had
entertained were now set at rest. Lo! had not the company manager
himself condescended to share a two-room suite with us in the
Kingsborough Hotel that night? And we, a novice in this large and
exhilarating tract of life, thought to ourself that this was the
ultimate honour that could be conferred upon a lowly co-author. Yes,
we said to ourself, as we beamed upon the excellent town of
Gloversville, admiring the Carnegie Library and the shops and the
numerous motor cars and the bright shop windows and munching some
very fine doughnuts we had seen in a bakery. Yes, we repeated, this
is the beginning of fame and fortune. Ah! Pete Corcoran may scoff,
but that was a bright and golden morning, and we would not have
missed it. We did not know then the prompt and painful end destined
for that innocent piece when it reached the Alba Via Maxima. All we
knew was that Saratoga and Newburgh and Johnstown had taken us to
their bosoms.

At this moment, and our thoughts running thus, we happened to pass
by the window of a very alluring haberdasher's shop. In that window
we saw displayed a number of very brilliant neckties, all rich and
glowing with bright diagonal stripes. The early sunlight fell upon
them and they were brave to behold. And we said to ourself that it
would be a proper thing for one who was connected with the triumphal
onward march of a play that was knocking them cold on the one-night
circuit to flourish a little and show some sign of worldly vanity.
(We were still young, that November, and our mind was still subject
to some harmless frailties.) We entered the shop and bought that
tie, the very same one that struck Pete Corcoran with a palsy when
he saw it the other day. We put it in our pocket and walked back to
the hotel.

Now comes a portion of the narrative that exhibits to the full the
deceits and stratagems of the human being. This tie, which we liked
so much, thinking it the kind of thing that would add a certain dash
and zip to our bearing, was eminently a metropolitan-looking kind of
scarf. No one would think to look at it that it had been bought in
Gloversville. And we said to ourself that if we went quietly back to
the hotel and slipped unobtrusively into the washroom and put on
that tie, no one would know that we had just bought it in
Gloversville, but would think it was a part of our elaborate
wardrobe that we had brought from New York. Very well. (We would not
reveal these shameful subterfuges to any one but Pete Corcoran.) No
sooner said than done; and behold us taking the trolley from
Gloversville to Fonda, with the rest of the company, wearing that
tie that flared and burned in the keen wintry light like a great
banner, like an oriflamme of youthful defiance.

And what a day that was! We shall never forget it; we will never
forget it! Was that the Mohawk Valley that glittered in the morning?
(A sunshine so bright that sitting on the sunward side of the smoker
and lighting our pipe, the small flame of our match paled shamefully
into a tiny and scarce visible ghost.) Our tie strengthened and
sustained us in our zest for a world so coloured and contoured. We
even thought that it was a bit of a pity that our waistcoat was cut
with so shallow and conservative a V that the casual passerby would
see but little of that triumphant silk beacon. The fellow members of
our company were too polite to remark upon it, but we saw that they
had noticed it and took it as a joyful omen.

We had two and a half hours in Albany that day and we remember that
we had set our heart on buying a certain book. Half an hour we
allotted to lunch and the other two hours was spent in visiting the
bookshops of Albany, which are many and good. We wonder if any
Albany booksellers chance to recall a sudden flash of colour that
came, moved along the shelves, and was gone? We remember half a
dozen book stores that we visited; we remember them just as well as
if it were yesterday, and we remember the great gusto and bright
cheer of the crowds of shoppers, already doing their Christmas
pioneering. We remember also that three of the books we bought (to
give away) were McFee's "Aliens" and Frank Adams's "Tobogganing on
Parnassus," yes, and Stevenson's "Lay Morals." Oh, a great day! And
we remember the ride from Albany to Kingston, with the darkening
profile of the Catskills on the western side of the train, the tawny
colours of the fields (like a lion's hide), the blue shadows of the
glens, the sparkling Hudson in quick blinks of brightness, the lilac
line of the hills when we reached Kingston in the dusk. We remember
the old and dilapidated theatre at Kingston, the big shabby dressing
rooms of the men, with the scribbled autographs of former mummers on
the walls. And that night we said good-bye to our little play, whose
very imperfections we had grown to love by this time, and took the
3:45 A.M. milk train to New York. We slept on two seats in the
smoker, and got to Weehawken in the brumous chill of a winter
dawn--still wearing our tie. Now can Pete Corcoran wonder why we are
fond of it, and why, ever and anon, we get it out and wear it in
remembrance?


      [Illustration]



THE CLUB OF ABANDONED HUSBANDS


AJAX: Hullo, Socrates, what are you doing patrolling the streets at
this late hour? Surely it would be more seemly to be at home?

SOCRATES: You speak sooth, Ajax, but I have no home to repair to.

AJAX: What do you mean by that?

SOCRATES: In the sense of a place of habitation, a dormitory, of
course I still have a home; but it is merely an abandoned shell, a
dark and silent place devoid of allure. I have sent my family to the
seashore, good Ajax, and the lonely apartment, with all the blinds
pulled down and nothing in the icebox, is a dismal haunt. That is
why I wander upon the highway.

AJAX: I, too, have known that condition, Socrates. Two years ago
Cassandra took the children to the mountains for July and August;
and upon my word I had a doleful time of it. What do you say, shall
we have recourse to a beaker of ginger ale and discuss this matter?
It is still only the shank of the evening.

SOCRATES: It is well thought of.

AJAX: As I was saying, the quaint part of it was that before my wife
left I had secretly thought that a period of bachelorhood would be
an interesting change. I rather liked the idea of strolling about in
the evenings, observing the pageant of human nature in my quiet way,
dropping in at the club or the library, and mingling with my fellow
men in a fashion that the husband and father does not often have
opportunity to do.

SOCRATES: And when Cassandra went away you found yourself desolate?

AJAX: Even so. Of course matters were rather different in those
days, before the archons had taken away certain stimulants, but the
principle is still the same. You know, the inconsistency of man is
rather entertaining. I had often complained about having to help put
the children to bed when I got home from the office. I grudged the
time it took to get them all safely bestowed. And then, when the
children were away, I found myself spending infinitely more time and
trouble in getting some of my bachelor friends to bed.

SOCRATES: As that merry cartoonist Briggs observes in some of his
frescoes, Oh Man!

AJAX: I wonder if your experience is the same as mine was? I found
that about six o'clock in the evening, the hour when I would
normally have been hastening home to wife and babes, was the most
poignant time. I was horribly homesick. If I did go back to my
forlorn apartment, the mere sight of little Priam's crib was enough
to reduce me to tears. I seriously thought of writing a poem about
it.

SOCRATES: What is needed is a Club of Abandoned Husbands, for the
consolation of those whose families are out of town.

AJAX: I have never found a club of much assistance at such a time.
It is always full of rather elderly men who talk a great deal and in
a manner both doleful and ill-informed.

SOCRATES: But this would be a club of quite a different sort. It
would be devised to offer a truly domestic atmosphere to those who
have sent their wives and juveniles to the country for the benefit
of the fresh air, and have to stay in the city themselves to earn
what is vulgarly known as kale.

AJAX: How would you work out the plan?

SOCRATES: It would not be difficult. In the first place, there would
be a large nursery, with a number of rented children of various
ages. Each member of the club, hastening thither from his office at
the conclusion of the day's work, would be privileged to pick out
some child as nearly as possible similar in age and sex to his own
absent offspring. He would then deal with this child according to
the necessities of its condition. If it were an extremely young
infant, a bottle properly prepared would be ready in the club
kitchen, and he could administer it. The club bathroom would be
filled with hilarious members on their knees beside small tubs,
bathing such urchins as needed it. Others would be playing games on
the floor, or tucking the children in bed. It ought to be quite
feasible to hire a number of children for this purpose. During the
day they would be cared for by a competent matron. Baby carriages
would be provided, and if any of the club members were compelled to
remain in town over the week-end they could take the children for an
airing in the park.

AJAX: This is a brave idea, Socrates. And then, when all the
children were bedded for the night, how would the domestic
atmosphere be simulated?

SOCRATES: Nothing simpler. After dinner such husbands as are
accustomed to washing the dishes would be allowed to do so in the
club kitchen. During the day it would be the function of the matron
to think up a number of odd jobs to be performed in the course of
the evening. Pictures would be hung, clocks wound, a number of tin
cans would be waiting to be opened with refractory can openers, and
there would always be several window blinds that had gone wrong. A
really resourceful matron could devise any number of ways of making
the club seem just like home. One night she would discern a smell of
gas, the next there might be a hole in the fly-screens, or a little
carpentering to do, or a caster broken under the piano. Husbands
with a turn for plumbing would find the club basement a perpetual
place of solace, with a fresh leak or a rumbling pipe every few
days.

AJAX: Admirable! And if the matron really wanted to make the members
feel at home she would take a turn through the building every now
and then, to issue a gentle rebuke for cigar ashes dropped on the
rugs or feet elevated on chairs.

SOCRATES: The really crowning touch, I think, would lie in the
ice-box raids. A large ice-box would be kept well stocked with
remainders of apple pie, macaroni, stewed prunes, and chocolate
pudding. Any husband, making a cautious inroad upon these about
midnight, would surely have the authentic emotion of being in his
own home.

AJAX: An occasional request to empty the ice-box pan would also be
an artful echo of domesticity.

SOCRATES: Of course the success of the scheme would depend greatly
on finding the right person for matron. If she were to strew a few
hairpins about and perhaps misplace a latch key now and then----

AJAX: Socrates, you have hit upon a great idea. But you ought to
extend the membership of the club to include young men not yet
married. Think what an admirable training school for husbands it
would make!

SOCRATES: My dear fellow, let us not discuss it any further. It
makes me too homesick. I am going back to my lonely apartment to
write a letter to dear Xanthippe.


      [Illustration]



WEST BROADWAY


Did you ever hear of Finn Square? No? Very well, then, we shall have
to inflict upon you some paragraphs from our unpublished work: "A
Scenic Guidebook to the Sixth Avenue L." The itinerary is a frugal
one: you do not have to take the L, but walk along under it.

Streets where an L runs have a fascination of their own. They have a
shadowy gloom, speckled and striped with the sunlight that slips
through the trestles. West Broadway, which along most of its length
is straddled by the L, is a channel of odd humours. Its real name,
you know, is South Fifth Avenue; but the Avenue got so snobbish it
insisted on its humbler brother changing its name. Let us take it
from Spring Street southward.

Ribbons, purple, red, and green, were the first thing to catch our
eye. Not the ribbons of the milliner, however, but the carbon tapes
of the typewriter, big cans of them being loaded on a junk wagon.
"Purple Ribbons" we have often thought, would be a neat title for a
volume of verses written on a typewriter. What happens to the used
ribbons of modern poets? Mr. Hilaire Belloc, or Mr. Chesterton, for
instance. Give me but what these ribbons type and all the rest is
merely tripe, as Edmund Waller might have said. Near the ribbons we
saw a paper-box factory, where a number of high-spirited young women
were busy at their machines. A broad strip of thick green paint was
laid across the lower half of the windows so that these immured
damsels might not waste their employers' time in watching goings on
along the pavement.

Broome and Watts streets diverge from West Broadway in a V. At the
corner of Watts is one of West Broadway's many saloons, which by
courageous readjustments still manage to play their useful part.
What used to be called the "Business Men's Lunch" now has a tendency
to name itself "Luncheonette" or "Milk Bar." But the old decorations
remain. In this one you will see the electric fixtures wrapped in
heavy lead foil, the kind of sheeting that is used in packages of
tea. At the corner of Grand Street is the Sapphire Café, and what
could be a more appealing name than that? "Delicious Chocolate with
Whipped Cream," says a sign outside the Sapphire. And some way
farther down (at the corner of White Street) is a jolly old tavern
which looked so antique and inviting that we went inside. Little
tables piled high with hunks of bread betokened the approaching
lunch hour. A shimmering black cat winked a drowsy topaz eye from
her lounge in the corner. We asked for cider. There was none, but
our gaze fell upon a bottle marked "Irish Moss." We asked for some,
and the barkeep pushed the bottle forward with a tiny glass. Irish
Moss, it seems, is the kind of drink which the customer pours out
for himself, so we decanted a generous slug. It proved to be a kind
of essence of horehound, of notable tartness and pungency, very like
a powerful cough syrup. We wrote it off on our ledger as experience.
Beside us stood a sturdy citizen with a freight hook round his neck,
deducing a foaming crock of the legitimate percentage.

The chief landmark of that stretch of West Broadway is the tall
spire of St. Alphonsus' Church, near Canal Street. Up the steps and
through plain brown doors we went into the church, which was cool,
quiet, and empty, save for a busy charwoman with humorous Irish
face. Under the altar canopy wavered a small candle spark, and high
overhead, in the dimness, were orange and scarlet gleams from a
stained window. A crystal chandelier hanging in the aisle caught
pale yellow tinctures of light. No Catholic church, wherever you
find it, is long empty; a man and a girl entered just as we went
out. At each side of the front steps the words _Copiosa apud eum
redemtio_ are carved in the stone. The mason must have forgotten the
_p_ in the last word. A silver plate on the brick house next door
says _Redemptorist Fathers_.

York Street, running off to the west, gives a glimpse of the old
Hudson River Railroad freight depot. St. John's Lane, running across
York Street, skirts the ruins of old St. John's Church, demolished
when the Seventh Avenue subway was built. On the old brown house at
the corner some urchin has chalked the word CRAZY. Perhaps this is
an indictment of adult civilization as a whole. If one strolls
thoughtfully about some of these streets--say Thompson Street--on a
hot day, and sees the children struggling to grow up, he feels like
going back to that word CRAZY and italicizing it. The tiny
triangle of park at Beach Street is carefully locked up, you will
notice--the only plot of grass in that neighbourhood--so that bare
feet cannot get at it. Superb irony of circumstance: on the near
corner stands the Castoria factory, Castoria being (if we remember
the ads) what Mr. Fletcher gave baby when she was sick.

Where Varick Street runs in there is a wide triangular spread, and
this, gentle friends, is Finn Park, named for a New York boy who was
killed in France. The name reminded us also of Elfin Finn, the
somewhat complacent stage child who poses for chic costumes in
_Vogue_. We were wondering which was a more hazardous bringing up
for a small girl, living on Thompson Street or posing for a fashion
magazine. From Finn Square there is a stirring view of the Woolworth
Tower. Also of Claflin's packing cases on their way off to Selma,
Ala., and Kalamazoo, Mich., and to Nathan Povich, Bath, Me. That
conjunction of Finn and Bath, Me., suggested to us that the empty
space there would be a good place to put in a municipal swimming
pool for the urchins of the district.

_Drawn from the wood_, which legend still stands on the pub at the
corner of Duane Street, sounds a bit ominous these wood alcohol
days. John Barleycorn may be down, but he's never out, as someone
has remarked. For near Murray Street you will find one of those
malt-and-hops places which are getting numerous. They contain all
the necessary equipment for--well, as the signs suggest, for making
malt bread and coffee cake--bottle-capping apparatus and rubber
tubing and densimeters, and all such things used in breadmaking. As
the signs say: "Malt syrup for making malt bread, coffee, cake, and
medicinal purposes."

To conclude the scenic pleasures of the Sixth Avenue L route, we
walk through the cool, dark, low-roofed tunnel of Church Street in
those interesting blocks just north of Vesey. We hark to the merry
crowing of the roosters in the Barclay Street poultry stores; and we
look past the tall gray pillars of St. Peter's Church at the flicker
of scarlet and gold lights near the altar. The black-robed nuns one
often sees along Church Street, with their pale, austere, hooded
faces, bring a curious touch of medievalism into the roaring tide
that flows under the Hudson Terminal Building. They always walk in
twos, which seems to indicate an even greater apprehension of the
World. And we always notice, as we go by the pipe shop at the corner
of Barclay Street, that this worthy merchant has painted some
inducements on one side of his shop; which reminds us of the same
device used by the famous tobacconist Bacon, in Cambridge, England.
Why, we wonder, doesn't our friend fill the remaining blank panel on
his side wall by painting there some stanzas from Calverley's "Ode
to Tobacco?" We will gladly give him the text to copy if he wants
it.


      [Illustration]



THE RUDENESS OF POETS


The poet who has not learned how to be rude has not learned his
first duty to himself. By "poet" I mean, of course, any imaginative
creator--novelist, mathematician, editor, or a man like Herbert
Hoover. And by "rude" I mean the strict and definite limitation
which, sooner or later, he must impose upon his sociable instincts.
He must refuse to fritter away priceless time and energy in the
random genialities of the world. Friendly, well-meaning, and
fumbling hands will stretch out to bind the poet's heart in the
maddening pack-thread of Lilliput. It will always be so. Life, for
most, is so empty of consecrated purpose, so full of palaver, that
they cannot understand the trouble of one who carries a flame in his
heart, and whose salvation depends on his strength to nourish that
flame unsuffocated by crowding and scrutiny.

The poet lives in an alien world. That is not his pride; it is his
humility. It is often his joy, but often also his misery: he must
dree his weird. His necessary solitude of spirit is not luxury, nor
the gesture of a churl: it is his sacrifice, it is the condition on
which he lives. He must be content to seem boorish to the general in
order to be tender to his duty. He has invisible guests at the table
of his heart: those places are reserved against all comers. He must
be their host first of all, or he is damned. He serves the world by
cutting it when they meet inopportunely. There are times (as Keats
said and Christ implied) when the wind and the stars are his wife
and children.

There will be a thousand pressures to bare his bosom to the lunacy
of public dinners, lecture platforms, and what not pleasant
folderol. He must be privileged apparent ruffian discourtesy. He has
his own heart-burn to consider. One thinks of Rudyard Kipling in
this connection. Mr. Kipling stands above all other men of letters
to-day in the brave clearness with which he has made it plain that
he consorts first of all with his own imagination.

As the poet sees the world, and studies, the more he realizes that
men are sharply cut in two classes: those who understand, those who
do not. With the latter he speaks a foreign language and with
effort, trying shamefacedly to conceal his strangeness. With these,
perhaps, every moment spent is for ever lost. With the others he can
never commune enough, seeking clumsily to share and impart those
moments of rare intuition when truth came near. There is rarely any
doubt as to this human division: the heart knows its kin.

The world, as he sees it around him, is almost unconscious of its
unspeakable loveliness and mystery; and it is largely regimented and
organized for absurdity. The greater part of the movement he sees is
(by his standard) not merely stupid (which is pardonable and
appealing), but meaningless altogether. He views it between anger
and tenderness. Where there might have been the exquisite and
delicious simplicity of a Japanese print, he sees the flicker and
cruel garishness of a speeding film. And so, for refreshment, he
crosses through the invisible doorway into his own dear land of
lucidity. He cons over that passport of his unsociability, words of
J.B. Yeats which should be unforgotten in every poet's mind:

     Poetry is the voice of the solitary man. The poet is always a
     solitary; and yet he speaks to others--he would win their
     attention. Thus it follows that every poem is a social act done
     by a solitary man. And being an alien from the strange land of
     the solitary, he cannot be expected to admonish or to
     sermonize, or uplift, as it is called; and so take part in the
     cabals and intrigues in other lands of which he knows nothing,
     being himself a stranger from a strange land, the land of the
     solitary. People listen to him as they would to any other
     traveller come from distant countries, and all he asks for is
     courtesy even as he himself is courteous.

     Inferior poets are those who forget their dignity--and, indeed,
     their only chance of being permitted to live--and to make
     friends try to enter into the lives of the people whom they
     would propitiate, and so become teachers and moralists and
     preachers. And soon for penalty of their rashness and folly
     they forget their own land of the solitary, and its speech
     perishes from their lips. The traveller's tales are of all the
     most precious, because he comes from a land--the poet's
     solitude--which no other feet have trodden and which no other
     feet will tread.

So, briefly and awkwardly, he justifies himself, being given (as
Mrs. Quickly apologized) to "allicholy and musing." Oh, it is not
easy! As Gilbert Chesterton said, in a noble poem:

          The way is all so very plain
            That we may lose the way.


      [Illustration]



1100 WORDS


The managing editor, the city editor, the production manager, the
foreman of the composing room, and the leading editorial writer
having all said to us with a great deal of sternness, "Your copy for
Saturday has got to be upstairs by such and such a time, because we
are going to make up the page at so and so A.M.," we got rather
nervous.

If we may say so, we did not like the way they said it. They
spoke--and we are thinking particularly of the production
manager--with a kind of paternal severity that was deeply
distressing to our spirit. They are all, in off hours, men of
delightfully easy disposition. They are men with whom it would be a
pleasure and a privilege to be cast away on a desert island or in a
crowded subway train. It is only just to say that they are men whom
we admire greatly. When we meet them in the elevator, or see them at
Frank's having lunch, how full of jolly intercourse they are. But in
the conduct of their passionate and perilous business, that is, of
getting the paper out on time, a holy anguish shines upon their
brows. The stern daughter of the voice of God has whispered to them,
and they pass on the whisper to us through a mega-phone.

That means to say that within the hour we have got to show up
something in the neighbourhood of 1100 words to these magistrates
and overseers. With these keys--typewriter keys, of course--we have
got to unlock our heart. Milton, thou shouldst be living at this
hour. Speaking of Milton, the damp that fell round his path (in
Wordsworth's sonnet) was nothing to the damp that fell round our
alert vestiges as we hastened to the Salamis station in that drench
this morning. (We ask you to observe our self-restraint. We might
have said "drenching downpour of silver Long Island rain," or
something of that sort, and thus got several words nearer our
necessary total of 1100. But we scorn, even when writing against
time, to take petty advantages. Let us be brief, crisp, packed with
thought. Let it stand as drench, while you admire our proud
conscience.)

Eleven hundred words--what a lot could be said in 1100 words! We
stood at the front door of the baggage car (there is an odd irony in
this: the leading editorial writer, one of the most implacable of
our taskmasters, is spending the summer at Sea Cliff, and he gets
the last empty seat left in the smoker. So we, getting on at
Salamis, have to stand in the baggage car) watching the engine rock
and roar along the rails, while the rain sheeted the level green
fields. It is very agreeable to ride on a train in the rain. We have
never known just why, but it conduces to thought. The clear trickles
of water are drawn slantwise across the window panes, and one
watches, absently, the curious behaviour of the drops. They hang
bulging and pendulous, in one spot for some seconds. Then, as they
swell, suddenly they break loose and zigzag swiftly down the pane,
following the slippery pathway that previous drops have made. It is
like a little puzzle game where you manoeuvre a weighted capsule
among pegs toward a narrow opening. "Pigs in clover," they sometimes
call it, but who knows why? The conduct of raindrops on a
smoking-car window is capricious and odd, but we must pass on. That
topic alone would serve for several hundred words, but we will not
be opportunist.

We stood at the front door of the baggage car, and in a pleasant
haze of the faculties we thought of a number of things. We thought
of some books we had seen up on East Fifty-ninth Street, in that
admirable row of old bookshops, particularly Mowry Saben's volume of
essays, "The Spirit of Life," which we are going back to buy one of
these days; so please let it alone. We then got out a small
note-book in which we keep memoranda of books we intend to read and
pored over it zealously. Just for fun, we will tell you three of
the titles we have noted there:

     "The Voyage of the Hoppergrass," by E.L. Pearson.
     "People and Problems," by Fabian Franklin.
     "Broken Stowage," by David W. Bone.

But most of all we thought, in a vague sentimental way, about that
pleasant Long Island country through which the engine was haling and
hallooing all those carloads of audacious commuters.

Only the other day we heard a wise man say that he did not care for
Long Island, because one has to travel through a number of
half-built suburbs before getting into real country. We felt, when
he said it, that it would be impossible for us to tell him how much
some of those growing suburbs mean to us, for we have lived in them.
There is not one of those little frame dwellings that doesn't give
us a thrill as we buzz past them. If you voyage from Brooklyn, as we
do, you will have noticed two stations (near Jamaica) called
Clarenceville and Morris Park. Now we have never got off at those
stations, though we intend to some day. But in those rows of small
houses and in sudden glimpses of modest tree-lined streets and
corner drug stores we can see something that we are not subtle
enough to express. We see it again in the scrap of green park by the
station at Queens, and in the brave little public library near the
same station--which we cannot see from the train, though we often
try to; but we know it is there, and probably the same kindly lady
librarian and the children borrowing books. We see it again--or we
did the other day--in a field at Mineola where a number of small
boys were flying kites in the warm, clean, softly perfumed air of a
July afternoon. We see it in the vivid rows of colour in the
florist's meadow at Floral Park. We don't know just what it is, but
over all that broad tract of hardworking suburbs there is a secret
spirit of practical and persevering decency that we somehow
associate with the soul of America.

We see it with the eye of a lover, and we know that it is good.

Having got as far as this, we took the trouble to count all the
words up to this point. The total is exactly 1100.


      [Illustration]



SOME INNS


The other evening we went with Titania to a ramshackle country hotel
which calls itself _The Mansion House_, looking forward to a fine
robust meal. It was a transparent, sunny, cool evening, and when we
saw on the bill of fare _half broiled chicken_, we innocently
supposed that the word _half_ was an adjective modifying the
compound noun, _broiled-chicken_. Instead, to our sorrow and
disappointment, it proved to be an adverb modifying _broiled_ (we
hope we parse the matter correctly). At any rate, the wretched fowl
was blue and pallid, a little smoked on the exterior, raw and sinewy
within, and an affront to the whole profession of innkeeping.
Whereupon, in the days that followed, looking back at our fine mood
of expectancy as we entered that hostelry, and its pitiable collapse
when the miserable travesty of victuals was laid before us, we fell
to thinking about some of the inns we had known of old time where
we had feasted not without good heart.

To speak merely by sudden memory, for instance, there was the fine
old hotel in Burlington, Vermont--is it called the _Van Ness
House_?--where we remember a line of cane-bottomed chairs on a long
shady veranda, where one could look out and see the town simmering
in that waft of hot and dazzling sunshine that pours across Lake
Champlain in the late afternoon: and _The Black Lion_, Lavenham,
Suffolk; where (unless we confuse it with a pub in Bury St. Edmunds
where we had lunch), there was, in the hallway, a very fine old
engraving called "Pirates Decoying a Merchantman," in which one
pirate, dressed in woman's clothes, stood up above the bulwarks
waving for assistance, while the cutlassed ruffians crouched below
ready to do their bloody work when the other ship came near enough.
Nor have we forgotten _The Saracen's Head_, at Ware, whence we went
exploring down the little river Lea on Izaak Walton's trail; nor
_The Swan_ at Bibury in Gloucestershire, hard by that clear green
water the Colne; nor another _Swan_ at Tetsworth in Oxfordshire,
which one reaches after bicycling over the beechy slope of the
Chilterns, and where, in the narrow taproom, occurred the fabled
encounter between a Texas Rhodes Scholar logged with port wine and
seven Oxfordshire yokels who made merry over his power of carrying
the red blood of the grape.

Our friend C.F.B., while we were meditating these golden matters,
wrote to us that he is going on a walking or bicycling trip in
England next summer, and asks for suggestions. We advise him to get
a copy of Muirhead's "England" (the best general guidebook we have
seen) and look up his favourite authors in the index. That will
refer him to the places associated with them, and he can have rare
sport in hunting them out. There is no way of pilgrimage so pleasant
as to follow the spoor of a well-loved writer. Referring to our
black note-book, in which we keep memoranda of a modest pilgrimage
we once made to places mentioned by two of our heroes, viz., Boswell
and R.L.S., we think that if we were in C.F.B.'s shoes, one of the
regions we would be most anxious to revisit would be Dove Dale, in
Derbyshire. This exquisite little valley is reached from Ashbourne,
where we commend the _Green Man Inn_ (visited more than once by
Doctor Johnson and Boswell). This neighbourhood also has memories of
George Eliot, and of Izaak Walton, who used to go fishing in the
little river Dove; his fishing house is still there. Unfortunately,
when we were in those parts we did not have sense enough to see the
Manyfold, a curious stream (a tributary of the Dove) which by its
habit of running underground caused Johnson and Boswell to argue
about miracles.

Muirhead's book will give C.F.B. sound counsel about the inns of
that district, which are many and good. The whole region of the
Derbyshire Peak is rarely visited by the foreign tourist. Of it,
Doctor Johnson, with his sturdy prejudice, said: "He who has seen
Dove Dale has no need to visit the Highlands." The metropolis of
this moorland is Buxton: unhappily we did not make a note of the inn
we visited in that town; but we have a clear recollection of
claret, candlelight, and reading "Weir of Hermiston" in bed; also a
bathroom with hot water, not too common in the cheap hostelries we
frequented.

We can only wish for the good C.F.B. as happy an evening as we spent
(with our eccentric friend Mifflin McGill) bicycling from the
_Newhaven Inn_ in a July twilight. The _Newhaven Inn_, which is only
a vile kind of meagre roadhouse at a lonely fork in the way (where
one arm of the signpost carries the romantic legend "To Haddon
Hall"), lies between Ashbourne and Buxton. But it is marked on all
the maps, so perhaps it has an honourable history. The sun was dying
in red embers over the Derbyshire hills as we pedalled along. Life,
liquor, and literature lay all before us; certes, we had no thought
of ever writing a daily column! And finally, after our small
lanterns were lit and cast their little fans of brightness along the
flowing road, we ascended a rise and saw Buxton in the valley below,
twinkling with lights--

          "_And when even dies, the million-tinted,
            And the night has come, and planets glinted
              Lo, the valley hollow
                Lamp-bestarred!_"

Nor were all these ancient inns (to which our heart wistfully
returns) on British soil. There was the _Hotel de la Tour_, in
Montjoie, a quaint small town somewhere in that hilly region of the
Ardennes along the border between Luxemburg and Belgium. Our memory
is rather vague as to Montjoie, for we got there late one evening,
after more than seventy up-and-down miles on a bicycle, hypnotic
with weariness and the smell of pine trees and a great warm wind
that had buffeted us all day. But we have a dim, comfortable
remembrance of a large clean bedroom, unlighted, in which we duskily
groped and found no less than three huge beds among which we had to
choose; and we can see also a dining room brilliantly papered in
scarlet, with good old prints on the walls and great wooden beams
overhead. Two bottles of ice-cold beer linger in our thought: and
there was some excellent work done on a large pancake, one of those
durable fleshy German _Pfannkuchen_. For the odd part of it was
(unless our memory is wholly amiss) Montjoie was then (1912)
supposed to be part of Germany, and they pronounced it Mon-yowey.
But the Reich must have felt that this was not permanent, for they
had not Germanized either the name of the town or of the hostelry.

And let us add, in this affectionate summary, _The Lion_--(_Hotel
zum Löwen_)--at Sigmaringen, that delicious little haunt on the
upper Danube, where the castle sits on a stony jut overlooking the
river. Algernon Blackwood, in one of his superb tales of fantasy (in
the volume called "The Listener") has told a fascinating gruesome
story of the Danube, describing a sedgy, sandy, desolate region
below the Hungarian border where malevolent inhuman forces were
apparent and resented mortal intrusion. But we cannot testify to
anything sinister in the bright water of the Danube in the flow of
its lovely youth, above Sigmaringen. And if there were any evil
influences, surely at Sigmaringen (the ancient home and origin of
the Hohenzollerns, we believe) they would have shown themselves. In
those exhilarating miles of valley, bicycled in company with a
blithe vagabond who is now a professor at Cornell, we learned why
the waltz was called "The Blue Danube." So heavenly a tint of
transparent blue-green we have never seen elsewhere, the hurrying
current sliding under steep crags of gray and yellow stone, whitened
upon sudden shallows into long terraces of broken water. There was a
wayside chapel with painted frescoes and Latin inscriptions (why
didn't we make a note of them, we wonder?) and before it a cold gush
sluicing from a lion's mouth into a stone basin. A blue crockery mug
stood on the rim, and the bowl was spotted with floating petals from
pink and white rose-bushes. We can still see our companion, tilting
a thirsty bearded face as he drank, outlined on such a backdrop of
pure romantic beauty as only enriches irresponsible youth in its
commerce with the world. The river bends sharply to the left under a
prodigious cliff, where is some ancient castle or religious house.
There he stands, excellent fellow, forever (in our memory) holding
that blue mug against a Maxfield Parrish scene.

Just around that bend, if you are discreet, a bathe can be
accomplished, and you will reach the _Lion_ by supper time, vowing
the Danube the loveliest of all streams.

Of the _Lion_ itself, now that we compress the gland of memory more
closely, we have little to report save a general sensation of
cheerful comfort. That in itself is favourable: the bad inns are
always accurately tabled in mind. But stay--here is a picture that
unexpectedly presents itself. On that evening (it was July 15, 1912)
there was a glorious little girl, about ten years old, taking supper
at the _Lion_ with her parents. Through the yellow shine of the
lamps she suddenly reappears to us, across the dining room--rather a
more luxurious dining room than the two wayfarers were accustomed to
visit. We can see her straight white frock, her plump brown legs in
socks (not reaching the floor as she sat), her tawny golden hair
with a red ribbon. The two dusty vagabonds watched her, and her
important-looking adults, from afar. We have only the vaguest
impression of her father: he was erect and handsome and not
untouched with pride. (Heavens, were they some minor offshoot of the
Hohenzollern tribe?) We can see the head waiter smirking near their
table. Across nine years and thousands of miles they still radiate
to us a faint sense of prosperity and breeding; and the child was
like a princess in a fairy-tale. Ah, if only it had all been a
fairy-tale. Could we but turn back the clock to that summer evening
when the dim pine-alleys smelled so resinous on the Muehlberg, turn
back the flow of that quick blue river, turn back history itself and
rewrite it in chapters fit for the clear eyes of that child we saw.

Well, we are growing grievous: it is time to go out and have some
cider. There are many other admirable inns we might soliloquize--The
_Seven Stars_ in Rotterdam (Molensteeg 19, "nabij het Postkantoor");
_Gibson's Hotel_, Rutland Square, Edinburgh ("Well adapted for
Marriages," says its card); the _Hotel Davenport_, Stamford,
Connecticut, where so many palpitating playwrights have sat
nervously waiting for the opening performance; the _Tannhäuser
Hotel_ in Heidelberg, notable for the affability of the
chambermaids. Perhaps you will permit us to close by quoting a
description of an old Irish tavern, from that queer book "The Life
of John Buncle, Esq." (1756). This inn bore the curious name _The
Conniving House_:

     The _Conniving-House_ (as the gentlemen of Trinity called it in
     my time, and long after) was a little public house, kept by
     _Jack Macklean_, about a quarter of a mile beyond Rings-end, on
     the top of the beach, within a few yards of the sea. Here we
     used to have the finest fish at all times; and in the season,
     green peas, and all the most excellent vegetables. The ale here
     was always extraordinary, and everything the best; which, with
     its delightful situation, rendered it a delightful place of a
     summer's evening. Many a delightful evening have I passed in
     this pretty thatched house with the famous _Larrey Grogan_, who
     played on the bagpipes extreme well; dear _Jack Lattin_,
     matchless on the fiddle, and the most agreeable of companions;
     that ever charming young fellow, _Jack Wall_ ... and many other
     delightful fellows; who went in the days of their youth to the
     shades of eternity. When I think of them and their evening
     songs--_We will go to Johnny Macklean's--to try if his ale be
     good or no_, etc., and that years and infirmities begin to
     oppress me--What is life!

There is a fine, easy, mellow manner of writing, worthy the subject.
And we--we conclude with honest regret. Even to write down the
names of all the inns where we have been happy would be the
pleasantest possible way of spending an afternoon. But we advise you
to be cautious in adopting our favourites as stopping places. Some
of them are very humble.


      [Illustration]



THE CLUB IN HOBOKEN


The advertisement ran as follows:

          Schooner _Hauppauge_
          FOR SALE
          By U.S. Marshal,
          April 26, 1 P.M.,
          Pier G, Erie R.R.,
          Weehawken, N.J.
          Built at Wilmington, N.C., 1918; net
          tonnage 1,295; length 228; equipped with
          sails, tackle, etc.

This had taken the eye of the Three Hours for Lunch Club. The club's
interest in nautical matters is well known and it is always looking
forward to the day when it will be able to command a vessel of its
own. Now it would be too much to say that the club expected to be
able to buy the _Hauppauge_ (the first thing it would have done, in
that case, would have been to rename her). For it was in the slack
and hollow of the week--shall we say, the bight of the week?--just
midway between pay-days. But at any rate, thought the club, we can
look her over, which will be an adventure in itself; and we can see
just how people behave when they are buying a schooner, and how
prices are running, so that when the time comes we will be more
experienced. Besides, the club remembered the ship auction scene in
"The Wrecker" and felt that the occasion might be one of most
romantic excitement.

It is hard, it is very hard, to have to admit that the club was
foiled. It had been told that at Cortlandt Street a ferry bound for
Weehawken might be found; but when Endymion and the Secretary
arrived there, at 12:20 o'clock, they learned that the traffic to
Weehawken is somewhat sparse. Next boat at 2:40, said a sign. They
hastened to the Lackawanna ferry at Barclay Street, thinking that by
voyaging to Hoboken and then taking a car they might still be in
time. But it was not to be. When the _Ithaca_ docked, just south of
the huge red-blotched profile of the rusty rotting _Leviathan_, it
was already 1 o'clock. The _Hauppauge_, they said to themselves, is
already on the block, and if we went up there now to study her, we
would be regarded as impostors.

But the club is philosophic. One Adventure is very nearly as good as
another, and they trod ashore at Hoboken with light hearts. It was a
day of tender and untroubled sunshine. They had a queer sensation of
being in foreign lands. Indeed, the tall tragic funnels of the
_Leviathan_ and her motionless derelict masts cast a curious shadow
of feeling over that region. For the great ship, though blameless
herself, seems a thing of shame, a remembrance of days and deeds
that soiled the simple creed of the sea. Her great shape and her
majestic hull, pitiably dingy and stark, are yet plainly conscious
of sin. You see it in every line of her as she lies there, with the
attitude of a great dog beaten and crouching. You wonder how she
would behave if she were towed out on the open bright water of the
river, under that clear sky, under the eyes of other ships going
about their affairs with the self-conscious rectitude and pride that
ships have. For ships are creatures of intense caste and
self-conscious righteousness. They rarely forgive a fallen
sister--even when she has fallen through no fault of her own.
Observe the _Nieuw Amsterdam_ as she lies, very solid and spick, a
few piers above. Her funnel is gay with bright green stripes; her
glazed promenade deck is white and immaculate. But, is there not
just a faint suggestion of smugness in her mien? She seems thanking
the good old Dutch Deity of cleanliness and respectability that she
herself is not like this poor trolloping giantess, degraded from the
embrace of ocean and the unblemished circle of the sea.

That section of Hoboken waterfront, along toward the green
promontory crowned by Stevens Institute, still has a war-time
flavour. The old Hamburg-American line piers are used by the Army
Transport Service, and in the sunshine a number of soldiers, off
duty, were happily drowsing on a row of two-tiered beds set outdoors
in the April pleasantness. There was a racket of bugles, and a squad
seemed to be drilling in the courtyard. Endymion and the Secretary,
after sitting on a pier-end watching some barges, and airing their
nautical views in a way they would never have done had any pukka
seafaring men been along, were stricken with the very crisis of
spring fever and lassitude. They considered the possibility of
hiring one of the soldiers' two-tiered beds for the afternoon.
Perhaps it is the first two syllables of Hoboken's name that make it
so desperately debilitating to the wayfarer in an April noonshine.
Perhaps it was a kind of old nostalgia, for the Secretary remembered
that sailormen's street as it had been some years ago, when he had
been along there in search of schooners of another sort.

But anatomizing their anguish, these creatures finally decided that
it might not be spring fever, but merely hunger. They saw the statue
of the late Mr. Sloan of the Lackawanna Railroad--Sam Sloan, the
bronze calls him, with friendly familiarity. The aspiring forelock
of that statue, and the upraised finger of Samuel Sullivan Cox ("The
Letter Carriers' Friend") in Astor Place, the club considers two of
the most striking things in New York statuary. Mr. Pappanicholas,
who has a candy shop in the high-spirited building called Duke's
House, near the ferry terminal, must be (Endymion thought) some
relative of Santa Claus. Perhaps he _is_ Santa Claus, and the club
pondered on the quite new idea that Santa Claus has lived in Hoboken
all these years and no one had guessed it. The club asked a friendly
policeman if there were a second-hand bookstore anywhere near. "Not
that I know of," he said. But they did find a stationery store where
there were a number of popular reprints in the window, notably "The
Innocence of Father Brown," and Andrew Lang's "My Own Fairy Book."

But lunch was still to be considered. The club is happy to add The
American Hotel, Hoboken, to its private list of places where it has
been serenely happy. Consider corned beef hash, with fried egg,
excellent, for 25 cents. Consider rhubarb pie, quite adequate, for
10 cents. Consider the courteous and urbane waiter. In one corner of
the dining room was the hotel office, with a large array of push
buttons communicating with the bedrooms. The club, its imagination
busy, conceived that these were for the purpose of awakening
seafaring guests early in the morning, so as not to miss their ship.
If we were, for instance, second mate of the _Hauppauge_, and came
to port in Hoboken, The American Hotel would be just the place where
we would want to put up.

That brings us back to the _Hauppauge_. We wonder who bought her,
and how much he paid; and why she carries the odd name of that Long
Island village? If he would only invite us over to see her--and tell
us how to get there!


      [Illustration]



THE CLUB AT ITS WORST


A barbecue and burgoo of the Three Hours for Lunch Club was held,
the club's medical adviser acting as burgoomaster and Mr. Lawton
Mackall, the managing director, as jest of honour. The news that
Lawton was at large spread rapidly through the city, and the club
was trailed for some distance by an infuriated agent of the Society
for the Deracination of Puns. But Lawton managed to kick over his
traces, and the club safely gained the quiet haven of a Cedar Street
chophouse. Here, when the members were duly squeezed into a stall,
the Doctor gazed cheerfully upon Endymion and the Secretary who held
the inward places. "Now is my chance," he cried, "to kill two bards
with one stone."

Lawton, says the stenographic report, was in excellent form, and
committed a good deal of unforgivable syntax. He was somewhat
apprehensive when he saw the bill of fare inscribed "Ye Olde Chop
House," for he asserts that the use of the word "Ye" always involves
extra overhead expense--and a quotation from Shakespeare on the back
of the menu, he doubted, might mean a couvert charge. But he was
distinctly cheered when the kidneys and bacon arrived--a long strip
of bacon gloriously balanced on four very spherical and
well-lubricated kidneys. Smiling demurely, even blandly, Lawton
rolled his sheave of bacon to and fro upon its kidneys. "This is the
first time I ever saw bacon with ball bearings," he ejaculated. He
gazed with the eye of a connoisseur upon the rather candid works of
art hanging over the club's corner. He said they reminded him of Mr.
Coles Phillips's calf-tones. The Doctor was speaking of having
read an interesting dispatch by Mr. Grasty in the _Times_. "I
understand," said Lawton, "that he is going to collect some of his
articles in a book, to be called 'Leaves of Grasty'."

Duly ambered with strict and cloudy cider, the meal progressed,
served with humorous comments by the waitress whom the club calls
the Venus of Mealo. The motto of the club is _Tres Horas Non Numero
Nisi Serenas_, and as the afternoon was still juvenile the gathering
was transferred to the waterfront. Passing onto the pier, Lawton
gazed about him with admirable naïveté. Among the piles of freight
were some agricultural machines. "Ha," cried the managing director,
"this, evidently, is where the Piers Plowman works!" The club's
private yacht, white and lovely, lay at her berth, and in the
Doctor's cabin the members proceeded to the serious discussion of
literature. Lawton, however, seemed nervous. Cargo was being put
aboard the ship, and ever and anon there rose a loud rumbling of
donkey engines. The occasional hurrying roar of machinery seemed to
make Lawton nervous, for he said apprehensively that he feared
someone was rushing the growler. In the corridor outside the
Doctor's quarters a group of stewardesses were violently
altercating, and Lawton remarked that a wench can make almost as
much noise as a winch. On the whole, however, he admired the ship
greatly, and was taken with the club's plans for going cruising. He
said he felt safer after noting that the lifeboats were guaranteed
to hold forty persons with cubic feet.

By this time, all sense of verbal restraint had been lost, and the
club (if we must be candid) concluded its session by chanting, not
without enjoyment, its own sea chantey, which runs as follows:--

          I shipped aboard a galleass
            In a brig whereof men brag,
          But lying on my palliass
            My spirits began to sag.

          I heard the starboard steward
            Singing abaft the poop;
          He lewdly sang to looard
            And sleep fled from the sloop.

          "The grog slops over the fiddles
            With the violins of the gale:
          Two bitts are on the quarterdeck,
            The seamen grouse and quail.

          "The anchor has been catted,
            The timid ratlines flee,
          Careening and carousing
            She yaws upon the sea.

          "The skipper lies in the scupper,
            The barque is lost in the bight;
          The bosun calls for a basin--
            This is a terrible night.

          "The wenches man the winches,
            The donkey men all bray--"
            ... I hankered to be anchored
            In safety in the bay!


      [Illustration]



A SUBURBAN SENTIMENTALIST


That wild and engaging region known as the Salamis Estates has
surprising enchantments for the wanderer. Strolling bushrangers, if
they escape being pelleted with lead by the enthusiastic rabbit
hunters who bang suddenly among thickets, will find many vistas of
loveliness. All summer long we are imprisoned in foliage, locked up
in a leafy embrace. But when the leaves have shredded away and the
solid barriers of green stand revealed as only thin fringes of
easily penetrable woodland, the eye moves with surprise over these
wide reaches of colour and freedom. Beyond the old ruined farmhouse
past the gnarled and rheumatic apple tree is that dimpled path that
runs across fields, the short cut down to the harbour. The stiff
frozen plumes of ghostly goldenrod stand up pale and powdery along
the way. How many tints of brown and fawn and buff in the withered
grasses--some as feathery and translucent as a gauze scarf, as
nebulous as those veilings Robin Herrick was so fond of--his mention
of them gives an odd connotation to a modern reader--

          So looks Anthea, when in bed she lyes,
          Orecome, or halfe betray'd by Tiffanies.

Our fields now have the rich, tawny colour of a panther's hide.
Along the little path are scattered sumac leaves, dark scarlet. It
is as though Summer had been wounded by the hunter Jack Frost, and
had crept away down that secret track, leaving a trail of
bloodstains behind her.

This tract of placid and enchanted woodland, field, brake, glen, and
coppice, has always seemed to us so amazingly like the magical
Forest of Arden that we believe Shakespeare must have written "As
You Like It" somewhere near here. One visitor, who was here when the
woods were whispering blackly in autumn moonlight, thought them akin
to George Meredith's "The Woods of Westermain"--

          Enter these enchanted woods,
            You who dare.
          Nothing harms beneath the leaves
          More than waves a swimmer cleaves,
          Toss your heart up with the lark,
          Foot at peace with mouse and worm.
            Fair you fare.
          Only at a dread of dark
          Quaver, and they quit their form:
          Thousand eyeballs under hoods
            Have you by the hair.
          Enter these enchanted woods,
            You who dare.

But in winter, and in such a noonday of clear sunshine as the
present, when all the naked grace of trunks and hillsides lies open
to eyeshot, the woodland has less of that secrecy and brooding
horror that Meredith found in "Westermain." It has the very breath
of that golden-bathed magic that moved in Shakespeare's tenderest
haunt of comedy. Momently, looking out toward the gray ruin on the
hill (which was once, most likely, the very "sheepcote fenced about
with olive trees" where Aliena dwelt and Ganymede found hose and
doublet give such pleasing freedom to her limbs and her wit) one
expects to hear the merry note of a horn; the moralizing Duke would
come striding thoughtfully through the thicket down by the tiny pool
(or shall we call it a mere?). He would sit under those two knotty
old oaks and begin to pluck the burrs from his jerkin. Then would
come his cheerful tanned followers, carrying the dappled burgher
they had ambushed; and, last, the pensive Jacques (so very like Mr.
Joseph Pennell in bearing and humour) distilling his meridian
melancholy into pentameter paragraphs, like any colyumist. A bonfire
is quickly kindled, and the hiss and fume of venison collops whiff
to us across the blue air. Against that stump--is it a real stump,
or only a painted canvas affair from the property man's
warehouse?--surely that is a demijohn of cider? And we can hear,
presently, that most piercingly tremulous of all songs rising in
rich chorus, with the plenitude of pathos that masculines best
compass after a full meal--

          Blow, blow, thou winter wind,
          Thou art not so unkind
          As man's ingratitude--

We hum the air over to ourself, and are stricken with the most
perfect iridescent sorrow. We even ransack our memory to try to
think of someone who has been ungrateful to us, so that we can throw
a little vigorous bitterness into our tone.

Yes, the sunshine that gilds our Salamis thickets seems to us to
have very much the amber glow of footlights.

In another part of this our "forest"--it is so truly a forest in the
Shakespearean sense, as all Long Island forests are (e.g., Forest
Hills), where even the lioness and the green and gilded snake have
their suburban analogues, which we will not be laborious to
explain--we see Time standing still while Ganymede and Aliena are
out foraging with the burly Touchstone (so very like that well-loved
sage Mr. Don Marquis, we protest!). And, to consider, what a place
for a colyumist was the Forest of Arden. See how zealous
contributors hung their poems round on trees so that he could not
miss them. Is it not all the very core and heartbeat of what we call
"romance," that endearing convention that submits the harsh
realities and interruptions of life to a golden purge of fancy? How,
we sometimes wonder, can any one grow old as long as he can still
read "As You Like It," and feel the magic of that best-loved and
most magical of stage directions--_The Forest of Arden_.

And now, while we are still in the soft Shakespearean mood, comes
"Twelfth Night"--traditionally devoted to dismantling the Christmas
Tree; and indeed there is no task so replete with luxurious and
gentle melancholy. For by that time the toys which erst were so
splendid are battered and bashed; the cornucopias empty of candy
(save one or two striped sticky shards of peppermint which elude the
thrusting index, and will be found again next December); the
dining-room floor is thick with fallen needles; the gay little
candles are burnt down to a small gutter of wax in the tin holders.
The floor sparkles here and there with the fragments of tinsel balls
or popcorn chains that were injudiciously hung within leap of puppy
or grasp of urchin. And so you see him, the diligent parent,
brooding with a tender mournfulness and sniffing the faint whiff of
that fine Christmas tree odour--balsam and burning candles and
fist-warmed peppermint--as he undresses the prickly boughs. Here
they go into the boxes, red, green, and golden balls, tinkling glass
bells, stars, paper angels, cotton-wool Santa Claus, blue birds,
celluloid goldfish, mosquito netting, counterfeit stockings,
nickel-plated horns, and all the comical accumulation of oddities
that gathers from year to year in the box labelled CHRISTMAS TREE
THINGS, FRAGILE. The box goes up to the attic, and the parent blows
a faint diminuendo, achingly prolonged, on a toy horn. Titania is
almost reduced to tears as he explains it is the halloo of Santa
Claus fading away into the distance.


      [Illustration]



GISSING


Our subject, for the moment, is Gissing--and when we say Gissing we
mean not the author of that name, but the dog. He was called Gissing
because he arrived, in the furnace man's poke, on the same day on
which, after long desideration, we were united in holy booklock with
a copy of "By the Ionian Sea."

Gissing needs (as the man said who wrote the preface to Sir Kenelm
Digby's _Closet_) no Rhetoricating Floscules to set him off. He is
(as the man said who wrote a poem about New York) vulgar of manner,
underbred. He is young: his behaviour lacks restraint. Yet there is
in him some lively prescription of that innocent and indivisible
virtue that Nature omitted from men and gave only to Dogs. This is
something that has been the cause of much vile verse in bad poets,
of such gruesome twaddle as Senator Vest's dreadful outbark. But it
is a true thing.

How absurd, we will interject, is the saying: "Love me, love my
dog." If he really is my dog, he won't let you love him. Again, one
man's dog is another man's mongrel. Mr. Robert Cortes Holliday, that
quaint philosopher frequently doggishly nicknamed Owd Bob, went to
Washington lately to see President Harding. His eye fell upon the
White House Airedale. Now Owd Bob is himself something of an
Airedale trifler, and cherishes the memory of a certain Tristram
Shandy, an animal that frequently appeared in the lighter editorials
of the _Bookman_ when Mr. Holliday (then the editor) could think of
nothing else to write about. And of Mr. Harding's dog Mr. Holliday
reports, with grave sorrow: "I don't think he is a good Airedale. He
has too much black on him. Now Shandy had only a small saddle of
black...."

But such are matters concerning only students of full-bred dogs, of
whom we are not who.

As to Gissing: we were trying to think, while writing the preceding
excursion, how to give you his colour. Yellow is a word too violent,
too vulgarly connotative. Brown is a muddy word. Sandy is too pale.
Gamboge is a word used by artists, who are often immoral and
excitable. Shall we say, the colour of a corncob pipe, singed and
tawnied by much smoking? Or a pigskin tobacco pouch while it is
still rather new? Or the colour of the _Atlantic Monthly_ in the old
days, when it lay longer on the stands than it does now, and got
faintly bleached? And in this colour, whatever it is, you must
discern a dimly ruddy tinge. On his forehead, which is not really a
forehead, but a continuation of a long and very vulpine nose, there
is a small white stripe. It runs upward from between his eyes, but
cants slightly to one side (like a great many journalists). There
is a small white patch on his chin. There is a white waistcoat on
his chest, or bosom if you consider that a more affectionate word.
White also are the last twelve bristles (we have counted them) on
his tail (which is much too long). His front ankles bend inward
rather lopsidedly, as though he had fallen downstairs when very
young. When we stoke the furnace, he extends his forward legs on the
floor (standing erect the while in his rearward edifice) and lays
his head sideways on his paws, and considers us in a manner not
devoid of humour.

Not far from our house, in that desirable but not very residential
region which we have erst described as the Forest of Arden, there is
a pond. It is a very romantic spot, it is not unlike the pond by
which a man smoking a Trichinopoly cigar was murdered in one of the
Sherlock Holmes stories. (The Boscombe Valley Mystery!) It is a
shallow little pond, but the water is very clear; last winter when
it was frozen it always reminded us of the cheerful advertising of
one of the ice companies, it was so delightfully transparent. This
pond is a kind of Union League Club for the frogs at this time of
year; all night long you can hear them reclining in their armchairs
of congenial mud and uttering their opinions, which vary very little
from generation to generation. Most of those frogs are Republicans,
we feel sure, but we love them no less.

In this pond Gissing had his first swim one warm Sunday recently.
The party set out soon after breakfast. Gissing was in the van, his
topaz eyes wild with ambition. Followed a little red express-wagon,
in which sat the Urchiness, wearing her best furry hat which has,
in front, a small imitation mouse-head with glass eyes. The Urchin,
wearing a small Scotch bonnet with ribbons, assisted in hauling the
wagon. Gissing had not yet been tested in the matter of swimming:
this was a sober moment. Would he take gladly to the ocean? (So the
Urchin innocently calls our small sheet of water, having by a
harmless ratiocination concluded that this term applies to any body
of water not surrounded by domestic porcelain.)

Now Gissing is passionate in the matter of chasing sticks hurled
abroad. On seeing a billet seized and held aloft with that sibilant
sound which stirs his ingenuous spirit to prodigies of pursuit, his
eyes were flame, his heart was apoplexy. The stick flew aloft and
curved into the pond, and he rushed to the water's edge. But there,
like the recreant knight in the Arthurian idyl, he paused and
doubted. There was Excalibur, floating ten feet from shore. This was
a new experience. Was it written that sticks should be pursued in
this strange and alien element? He barked querulously, and returned,
his intellect clouded with hesitation. What was this etiquette? He
was embarrassed.

Another stick was flung into the trembling mere. This time there was
no question. When the gods give the same sign twice, the only answer
is obey. A tawny streak crossed the small meadow, and leaped
unquestioningly into the pond. There was a plunging and a spattery
scuffle, and borne up by a million years of heredity he pursued the
floating enemy. It was seized, and a large gulp of water also, but
backward he came bearing it merrily. Then, also unknowing that he
was fulfilling old tradition, he came as near as possible to the
little group of presbyters and dehydrated himself upon them. Thus
was a new experience added to this young creature. The frogs grew
more and more pensive as he spent the rest of the morning churning
the pond hither and thither.

That will be all about Gissing for the present.


      [Illustration]



A DIALOGUE


It was our good fortune to overhear a dialogue between Gissing (our
dog) and Mike, the dog who lives next door. Mike, or Crowgill Mike
II, to give him his full entitles, is a very sagacious old person,
in the fifteenth year of his disillusionment, and of excellent
family. If our humble Gissing is to have a three-barrelled name, it
can only be Haphazard Gissing I, for his ancestry is plainly
miscellaneous and impromptu. He is, we like to say, a synthetic dog.
He is young: six months; we fear that some of the errors now
frequently urged against the rising generation are plainly
discernible in him. And Mike, who is grizzled and grown somewhat
dour, shows toward our Gissing much the attitude of Dr. Eliot toward
the younger litter of humans.

In public, and when any one is watching, Mike, who is the Dog
Emeritus of the Salamis Estates, pays no heed to Gissing at all:
ignores him, and prowls austerely about his elderly business. But
secretly spying from a window, we have seen him, unaware of notice,
stroll (a little heavily and stiffly, for an old dog's legs grow
gouty) over to Gissing's kennel. With his tail slightly vibrant, he
conducts a dignified causerie. Unhappily, these talks are always
concluded by some breach of manners on Gissing's part. At first he
is respectful; but presently his enthusiasm grows too much for him;
he begins to leap and frolic and utter uncouth praises of things in
general. Then Mike turns soberly and moves away.

On such an occasion, the chat went like this:

GISSING: Do you believe in God?

MIKE: I acknowledge Him. I don't believe in Him.

GISSING: Oh, I think He's splendid. Hurrah! Hullabaloo! When He puts
on those old khaki trousers and smokes that curve-stem pipe I always
know there's a good time coming.

MIKE: You have made a mistake. That is not God. God is a tall,
placid, slender man, who wears puttees when He works in the garden
and smokes only cigarettes.

GISSING: Not at all. God is quite stout, and of uncertain temper,
but I adore Him.

MIKE: No one knows God at your age. There is but one God, and I have
described Him. There is no doubt about it, because He sometimes
stays away from the office on Saturdays. Only God can do that.

GISSING: What a glorious day this is. What ho! Halleluiah! I don't
suppose you know what fun it is to run round in circles. How
ignorant of life the older generation is.

MIKE: Humph.

GISSING: Do you believe in Right and Wrong? I mean, are they
absolute, or only relative?

MIKE: When I was in my prime Right was Right, and Wrong was Wrong. A
bone, buried on someone else's ground, was sacred. I would not have
dreamed of digging it up----

GISSING (_hastily_): But I am genuinely puzzled. Suppose a motor
truck goes down the road. My instinct tells me that I ought to chase
it and bark loudly. But if God is around He calls me back and
rebukes me, sometimes painfully. Yet I am convinced that there is
nothing essentially wrong in my action.

MIKE: The question of morals is not involved. If you were not so
young and foolish you would know that your God (if you so call Him,
though He is not a patch on mine) knows what is good for you better
than you do yourself. He forbids your chasing cars because you might
get hurt.

GISSING: Then instinct is not to be obeyed?

MIKE: Not when God is around.

GISSING: Yet He encourages me to chase sticks, which my instinct
strongly impels me to do. Prosit! Waes hael! Excuse my enthusiasm,
but you really know very little of the world or you would not take
things so calmly.

MIKE: My dear boy, rheumatism is a great sedative. You will learn by
and by. What are you making such a racket about?

GISSING: I have just learned that there is no such thing as free
will. I don't suppose you ever meditated on these things, you are
such an old stick-in-the-mud. But in my generation we scrutinize
everything.

MIKE: There is plenty of free will when you have learned to will the
right things. But there's no use willing yourself to destroy a motor
truck, because it can't be done. I have been young, and now am old,
but never have I seen an honest dog homeless, nor his pups begging
their bones. You will go to the devil if you don't learn to restrain
yourself.

GISSING: Last night there was a white cat in the sky. Yoicks,
yoicks! I ran thirty times round the house, yelling.

MIKE: Only the moon, nothing to bark about.

GISSING: You are very old, and I do not think you have ever really
felt the excitement of life. Excuse me, but have you seen me jump up
and pull the baby's clothes from the line? It is glorious fun.

MIKE: My good lad, I think life will deal hardly with you.

            (_Exit, shaking his head._)


      [Illustration]



AT THE GASTHOF ZUM OCHSEN


Looking over some several-days-old papers we observe that the truant
Mr. Bergdoll was discovered at Eberbach in Baden. Well, well, we
meditate, Herr Bergdoll is not wholly devoid of sense, if he is
rambling about that delicious valley of the Neckar. And if we were a
foreign correspondent, anxious to send home to the papers a complete
story of Herr Bergdoll's doings in those parts, we would know
exactly what to do. We would go straight to the excellent Herr
Leutz, proprietor of the _Gasthof zum Ochsen_ in Eberbach, and
listen to his prattle. Herr Leutz, whom we have never forgotten
(since we once spent a night in his inn, companioned by another
vagabond who is now Prof. W.L.G. Williams of Cornell University, so
our clients in Ithaca, if any, can check us up on this fact), is
the most innocently talkative person we have ever met.

A great many Americans have been to Alt Heidelberg, but not so many
have continued their exploration up the Neckarthal. You leave
Heidelberg by the Philosophers' Way (_Philosophenweg_), which looks
over the river and the hills--in this case, lit by a warm July
sunset--and follow (on your bicycle, of course) the road which
skirts the stream. There are many springs of cold water tinkling
down the steep banks on your left, and in the mediæval-looking
village of Hirschhorn you can also sample the excellent beer. The
evening smell of sun-warmed grass and a view of one of those odd
boats grinding its way up-current by hauling a chain from the
river-bed and dropping it again over-stern will do nothing to mar
your exhilaration. It will be getting dark when you reach Eberbach,
and if you find your way to the Ox, Herr Leutz will be waiting (we
hope) in his white coat and gold pince-nez, just as he was in 1912.
And then, as you sit down to a cold supper, he will, deliberately
and in the kindest way, proceed to talk your head off. He will sit
down with you at the table, and every time you think a pause is
coming he will seize a mug, rise to his feet (at which you also will
sadly lay down your tools and rise, too, bowing stiffly from your
hips), and cry: "_Also! ich trinke auf Ihr Wohl!_" Presently,
becoming more assured, the admirable creature abbreviates his
formula to the more companionable "_zum Wohl!_" And as he talks, and
his excitement becomes more and more intense, he edges closer and
closer to you, and leans forward, talking hard, until his dark
beaming phiz quite interposes between your food and its destination.
So that to avoid combing his baldish pate with your fork you must
pass the items of your meal in quite a sideways trajectory. And if,
as happened to our companion (the present Cornell don), you have no
special taste for a plump landlord breathing passionately and
genially upon your very cheek while you strive to satisfy a
legitimate appetite, you may burst into a sudden unpremeditate but
uncontrollable screech of mingled laughter and dismay, meanwhile
almost falling backward in your chair in an effort to evade the
steady pant and roar of those innumerable gutturals.

After supper, a little weary and eager to meditate calmly in the
delicious clear evening, and to look about and see what sort of
place this Eberbach is, you will slip outside the inn for a stroll.
But glorious Herr Leutz is not evadable. He comes with. He takes
position between you two, holding each firmly by an elbow so that no
escape is possible. In a terrific stream of friendliness he explains
everything, particularly expatiating upon the gratification he feels
at being honoured by visitors all the way from America. The hills
around, which stand up darkly against a speckle of stars, are all
discussed for you. One of them is called _Katzenbuckel_, and
doubting that your German may not be able to cope with this quite
simple compound, he proceeds to illustrate. He squats in the middle
of the street, arching his back like a cat in a strong emotion,
uttering lively miaowings and hissings. Then he springs, like the
feline in fury, and leaps to his feet roaring with mirth. "You
see?" he cries. "A cat, who all ready to spring crouches, that is of
our beautiful little mountain the name-likeness."

Yes, if Bergdoll has been staying in Eberbach, the good Herr Leutz
will know all about it.


      [Illustration]



MR CONRAD'S NEW PREFACE


Joseph Conrad, so we learn from the March _Bookman_, has written a
preface to a cook book about to be published by Mrs. Conrad.

We like to think about that preface. We wonder if it will be
anything like this:


I remember very well the first time I became aware of the deep and
consoling significance of food. It was one evening at Marlow's, we
were sitting by the hearth in that small gilded circle of firelight
that seems so like the pitiful consciousness of man, temporarily and
gallantly relieved against the all-covering darkness. Marlow was in
his usual posture, cross-legged on the rug. He was talking.... I
couldn't help wondering whether he ever gets pins and needles in his
legs, sitting so long in one position. Very often, you know, what
those Eastern visionaries mistake for the authentic visit of
Ghautama Buddha is merely pins and needles. However. Humph. Poor
Mrs. Marlow (have I mentioned her before?) was sitting somewhere in
the rear of the circle. I had a curious but quite distinct
impression that she wanted to say something, that she had, as people
say, something on her mind. But Marlow has a way of casting
pregnancy over even his pauses, so that to speak would seem a quite
unpardonable interruption.

"The power of mind over matter," said Marlow, suddenly, "a very odd
speculation. When I was on the _Soliloquy_, I remember one evening,
in the fiery serenity of a Sourabaja sunset, there was an old
serang...."

In the ample drawing room, lit only by those flickering gleams of
firelight, I seemed to see the others stir faintly--not so much a
physical stir as a half-divined spiritual uneasiness. The Director
was sitting too close to the glow, for the fire had deepened and
intensified as the great logs slowly burned into rosy embers, and I
could smell a whiff of scorching trouser legs; but the courageous
man dared not move, for fear of breaking the spell. Marlow's tale
was a powerful one: I could hear Mrs. Marlow suspire faintly, ever
so faintly--the troubled, small, soft sigh of a brave woman
indefinably stricken. The gallantry of women! In a remote part of
the house a ship's clock tingled its quick double strokes.... Eight
o'clock, I thought, unconsciously translating nautical horology into
the dull measurements of landsmen. None of us moved. The discipline
of the sea!

Mrs. Marlow was very pale. It began to come over me that there was
an alien presence, something spectral and immanent, something empty
and yet compelling, in the mysterious shadow and vagueness of the
chamber. More than once, as Marlow had coasted us along those
shining seascapes of Malaya--we had set sail from Malacca at tea
time, and had now got as far as Batu Beru--I had had an uneasy
impression that a disturbed white figure had glanced pallidly
through the curtains, had made a dim gesture, and had vanished
again.... I had tried to concentrate on Marlow's narrative. The dear
fellow looked more like a monkey than ever, squatting there, as he
took the _Soliloquy_ across the China Sea and up the coast of
Surinam. Surinam must have a very long coast-line, I was thinking.
But perhaps it was that typhoon that delayed us.... Really, he ought
not to make his descriptions so graphic, for Mrs. Marlow, I feared,
was a bad sailor, and she was beginning to look quite ill.... I
caught her looking over her shoulder in a frightened shudder, as
though seeking the companionway.

It was quite true. By the time we had reached Tonking, I felt sure
there was someone else in the room. In my agitation I stole a
cautious glance from the taff-rail of my eye and saw a white figure
standing hesitantly by the door, in an appalled and embarrassed
silence. The Director saw it, too, for he was leaning as far away
from the fire as he could without jibing his chair, and through the
delicate haze of roasting tweed that surrounded him I could see
something wistfully appealing in his glance. The Lawyer, too, had a
mysterious shimmer in his loyal eyes, but his old training in the
P. and O. service had been too strong for him. He would never speak,
I felt sure, while his commanding officer had the floor.

I began to realize that, in a sense, the responsibility was mine.
The life of the sea--a curious contradiction. Trained from boyhood
to assume responsibility, but responsibility graded and duly
ascending through the ranks of command. Marlow, an old shipmaster,
and more than that, our host--a trying problem. If it had not been
for the presence of Mrs. Marlow, I could not have dared. But the
woman complicates the situation with all sorts of delicate reactions
of tact, conduct, and necessity. It is always so. Well. Humph!

But the apparition at the other end of the room was plainly in
trouble. A distressing sight, and I divined that the others were
relying on me. Mrs. Marlow, poor soul, her face had a piteous and
luminous appeal. It was, once more, the old and shocking question of
conflicting loyalties. There was nothing else to do. I shoved out
one foot, and the stand of fire-irons fell over with an appalling
clatter. Marlow broke off--somewhere near Manila, I think it was.

"Charlie, my dear," said Mrs. Marlow, "Don't you think we could
finish the story after dinner? The roast will be quite spoiled. The
maid has been waiting for nearly two hours...."


      [Illustration]



THE LITTLE HOUSE


After many days of damp, dull, and dolorous weather, we found
ourself unexpectedly moving in a fresh, cool, pure air; an air
which, although there was no sunlight, had the spirit and feeling of
sunlight in it; an air which was purged and lively. And, so
strangely do things happen, after days of various complexion and
stratagem, we found ourself looking across that green field, still
unchanged, at the little house.

Wasn't there--we faintly recall a saccharine tune sung by someone
who strode stiffly to and fro in a glare of amber footlights--wasn't
there a song about: "And I lo-ong to settle down, in that old Long
Island town!" Wasn't there such a ditty? It came softly back,
unbidden, to the sentimental attic of our memory as we passed along
that fine avenue of trees and revisited, for the first time since
we moved away, the wide space of those Long Island fields and the
row of frame cottages. There was the little house, rather more spick
and span than when we had known it, freshly painted in its brown and
white, the privet hedge very handsomely shaven, and its present
occupant busily engaged in trimming some tufts of grass along the
pavement. We did not linger, and that cheerful-looking man little
knew how many ghosts he was living among. All of us, we suppose,
dwell amid ghosts we are not aware of, and this gentleman would be
startled if he knew the tenacity and assurance of certain shades who
moved across his small lawn that afternoon.

It was strange, we aver, to see how little the place had changed,
for it seemed that we had passed round the curves and contours of a
good many centuries in those four or five years. In the open meadow
the cow was still grazing; perhaps the same cow that was once
pestered by a volatile Irish terrier who used to swing merrily at
the end of that cow's tail; a merry and irresponsible little
creature, she was, and her phantom still scampers the road where the
sharp scream of the Freeport trolley brings back her last fatal
venture to our mind. It was strange to look at those windows, with
their neat white sills, and to remember how we felt when for the
first time we slept in a house of our own, with all those Long
Island stars crowding up to the open window, and, waking in drowsy
unbelief, put out a hand to touch the strong wall and see if it was
still there. Perhaps one may be pardoned for being a little
sentimental in thinking back about one's first house.

The air, on that surprising afternoon, carried us again into the
very sensation and reality of those days, for there is an openness
and breezy stir on those plains that is characteristic. In the
tree-lined streets of the village, where old white clapboarded
houses with green or pale blue shutters stand in a warm breath of
box hedges, the feeling is quite different. Out on the Long Island
prairie--which Walt Whitman, by the way, was one of the first to
love and praise--you stand uncovered to all the skirmish of heaven,
and the feathery grasses are rarely still. There was the chimney of
the fireplace we had built for us, and we remembered how the
wood-smoke used to pour gallantly from it like a blue pennon of
defiance. The present owner, we fear, does not know how much
impalpable and unforgotten gold leaped up the wide red throat of
that chimney, or he would not dream of selling. Yes, the neighbours
tell us that he wants to sell. In our day, the house was said to be
worth $3,000. Nowadays, the price is $7,000. Even at that it is
cheap, if you set any value on amiable and faithful ghosts.

Oh, little house on the plains, when our typewriter forgets thee,
may this shift key lose its function!


      [Illustration]



TADPOLES


Near our house, out in the sylvan Salamis Estates, there is a pond.
We fear we cannot describe this pond to you in a way to carry
conviction. You will think we exaggerate if we tell you, with honest
warmth, how fair the prospect is. Therefore, in sketching the scene,
we will be austere, churlish, a miser of adjectives. We will tell
you naught of sun-sparkle by day where the green and gold of April
linger in that small hollow landskip, where the light shines red
through the faint bronze veins of young leaves--much as it shines
red through the finger joinings of a child's hand held toward the
sun. We will tell you naught of frog-song by night, of those
reduplicated whistlings and peepings. We will tell you naught of....
No, we will be austere.

On one side, this pond reflects the white cloudy bravery of fruit
trees in flower, veterans of an orchard surviving an old farmhouse
that stood on the hilltop long ago. It burned, we believe: only a
rectangle of low stone walls remains. Opposite, the hollow is
overlooked by a bumpy hillock fringed with those excellent dark
evergreen trees--shall we call them hemlocks?--whose flat fronds
silhouette against the sky and contribute a feeling of mystery and
wilderness. On this little hill are several japonica trees, in
violent ruddy blossom; and clumps of tiger lily blades springing up;
and bloodroots. The region prickles thickly with blackberry
brambles, and mats of honeysuckle. Across the pond, looking from the
waterside meadow where the first violets are, your gaze skips (like
a flat stone deftly flung) from the level amber (dimpled with
silver) of the water, through a convenient dip of country where the
fields are folded down below the level of the pool. So the eye,
skittering across the water, leaps promptly and cleanly to blue
ranges by the Sound, a couple of miles away. All this, mere
introduction to the real theme, which is Tadpoles.

We intended to write a poem about those tadpoles, but Endymion tells
us that Louis Untermeyer has already smitten a lute on that topic.
We are queasy of trailing such an able poet. Therefore we celebrate
these tadpoles in prose. They deserve a prose as lucid, as limpid,
as cool and embracing, as the water of their home.

Coming back to tadpoles, the friends of our youth, shows us that we
have completed a biological cycle of much import. Back to tadpoles
in one generation, as the adage might have said. Twenty-five years
ago we ourself were making our first acquaintance with these
friendly creatures, in the immortal (for us) waters of Cobb's Creek,
Pennsylvania. (Who was Cobb, we wonder?) And now our urchins, with
furious glee, applaud their sire who wades the still frosty quags
of our pond, on Sunday mornings, to renew their supply of tads. It
is considered fair and decent that each batch of tadpoles should
live in their prison (a milk bottle) only one week. The following
Sunday they go back to the pond, and a new generation take their
places. There is some subtle kinship, we think, between children and
tadpoles. No childhood is complete until it has watched their sloomy
and impassive faces munching against the glass, and seen the gradual
egress (as the encyclopædia pedantically puts it) of their tender
limbs, the growing froggishness of their demeanour.

Some time when you are exploring in the Britannica, by the way,
after you have read about Tactics and William Howard Taft, turn to
the article on Tadpoles and see if you can recognize them as
described by the learned G.A.B. An amusing game, we submit, would be
to take a number of encyclopædia descriptions of familiar things,
and see how many of our friends could identify them under their
scientific nomenclature.

But it is very pleasant to dally about the pond on a mild April
morning. While the Urchiness mutters among the violets, picking blue
fistfuls of stalkless heads, the Urchin, on a plank at the
waterside, studies these weedy shallows which are lively with all
manner of mysterious excitement, and probes a waterlogged stump in
hope to recapture Brer Tarrypin, who once was ours for a short
while. Gissing (the juvenile and too enthusiastic dog) has to be
kept away from the pond by repeated sticks thrown as far as possible
in another direction; otherwise he insists on joining the tadpole
search, and, poking his snout under water, attempts to bark at the
same time, with much coughing and smother.

The tadpoles, once caught, are taken home in a small yellow pail.
They seem quite cheerful. They are kept, of course, in their native
fluid, which is liberally thickened with the oozy emulsion of moss,
mud, and busy animalculæ that were dredged up with them in clutches
along the bottom of the pond. They lie, thoughtful, at the bottom of
their milk bottle, occasionally flourishing furiously round their
prison. But, since reading that article in the Britannica, we are
more tender toward them. For the learned G.A.B. says: "A glandular
streak extending from the nostril toward the eye is the lachrymal
canal." Is it possible that tadpoles weep? We will look at them
again when we go home to-night. We are, in the main, a kind-hearted
host. If they show any signs of effusion....


      [Illustration]



MAGIC IN SALAMIS


Why is it (we were wondering, as we walked to the station) that
these nights of pearly wet Long Island fog make the spiders so
active? The sun was trying to break through the mist, and all the
way down the road trees, bushes, and grass were spangled with
cob-webs, shining with tiny pricks and gems of moisture. These damp,
mildewy nights that irritate us and bring that queer soft grayish
fur on the backs of our books seem to mean high hilarity and big
business to the spider. Along the hedge near the station there were
wonderful great webs, as big as the shield of Achilles. What a
surprising passion of engineering the spider must go through in the
dark hours, to get his struts and cantilevers and his circling
gossamer girders properly disposed on the foliage.[*] Darkness is no
difficulty to him, evidently. If he lays his web on the grass, he
builds it with a little tunnel leading down to earth, where he hides
waiting his breakfast. But on such a morning, apparently, with
thousands of webs ready, there can hardly have been enough flies to
go round; for we saw all the appetent spiders had emerged from their
tubes and were waiting impatiently on the web itself--as though the
host should sit on the tablecloth waiting for his guest. Put a
finger at the rim of the web and see how quickly he vanishes down
his shaft. Most surprising of all it is to see the long threads that
are flung horizontally through the air, from a low branch of a tree
to the near-by hedge. They hang, elastic and perfect, sagged a
little by a run of fog-drops almost invisible except where the
wetness catches the light. Some were stretched at least six feet
across space, with no supporting strands to hold them from
above--and no branches from which the filament could be dropped. How
is it done? Does our intrepid weaver hurl himself madly six feet
into the dark, trusting to catch the leaf at the other end? Can he
jump so far?

     [* Perhaps the structural talent of our Salamis arachnids is
     exceptional. Perhaps it is due to the fact that the famous
     Engineers' Country Club is near by. Can the spiders have
     learned their technology by watching those cheerful scientists
     on the golf greens?]

All this sort of thing is, quite plainly, magic. It is rather
important to know, when you are dealing with magic, just where
ordinary life ends and the mystery begins, so that you can adjust
yourself to incantations and spells. As you make your green escape
from town (which has magic of its own, but quite different) you must
clearly mark the place where you pierce the veil. We showed it to
Endymion lately. We will tell you about it.

There is a certain point, as you go out to Salamis on the railroad,
when you begin to perceive a breath of enchantment in the landscape.
For our own part, we become aware of a subtle spice of gramarye as
soon as we see the station lamps at East Williston, which have tops
like little green hats. Lamps of this sort have always had a
fascination for us, and whenever we see them at a railway station we
have a feeling that that would be a nice place to get off and
explore.

And, of course, after you pass East Williston there is that little
pond in which, if one went fishing, he could very likely pull up a
fine fleecy cloud on his hook. Then the hills begin, or what we on
Long Island consider hills. There are some fields on the left of the
train that roll like great green waves of the sea; they surge up
against the sky and seem about to spill over in a surf of daisies.

A quiet road runs up a hill, and as soon as you pass along its green
channel, between rising thickets where rabbits come out to gape, you
feel as though walking into a poem by Walter de la Mare. This road,
if pursued, passes by a pleasing spot where four ways cross in an
attenuated X. Off to one side is a field that is very theatrical in
effect: it always reminds us of a stage set for "As You Like It,"
the Forest of Arden. There are some gigantic oak trees and even some
very papier-maché-looking stumps, all ready for the duke, "and other
Lords, like Foresters," to do their moralizing upon; and in place of
the poor sequestered stag there is a very fine plushy cow, grazing,
hard by a very agreeable morass. At the back (_L.U.E._) is
discovered a pleasing ruin, the carcass of an ancient farmstead,
whose stony ribs are thickset with brambles; and the pleasant
melancholy of an abandoned orchard rounds off the scene in the
wings, giving a fine place for Rosalind and Celia and the leg-weary
Touchstone to abide their cue.

Choosing the left-hand arm of the X, and moving past wild rose
bushes toward the even richer rose-garden of the sunset, the
fastidious truant is ushered (as was our friend Endymion the other
evening) upon a gentle meadow where a solitary house of white stucco
begs for a poet as occupant. This house, having been selected by
Titania and ourself as a proper abode for Endymion and his family,
we waited until sunset, frogsong, and all the other amenities of
life in Salamis were suitable for the introduction of our guest to
the scene. This dwelling, having long lain untenanted, has a back
door that stands ajar and we piloted the awe-struck lyrist inside.
Now nothing rages so merrily in the blood as the instinct of picking
out houses for other people, houses that you yourself do not have to
live in; and those Realtors whom we have dismayed by our lack of
enthusiasm would have been startled to hear the orotund accents in
which we vouched for that property, sewage, messuage, and all. Here,
we cried, is the front door (facing the sunset) where the postman
will call with checks from your publishers; and here are the
porcelain laundry tubs that will make glad the heart of the
washerwoman (when you can get one).

Endymion's guileless heart was strongly uplifted. Not a question did
he ask as to heating arrangements, save to show a mild spark in his
eye when he saw the two fireplaces. Plumbing was to him, we saw, a
matter to be taken on faith. His paternal heart was slightly
perturbed by a railing that ran round the top of the stairs. This
railing, he feared, was so built that small and impetuous children
would assuredly fall headlong through it, and we discussed means of
thwarting such catastrophe. But upstairs we found the room that
caused our guest to glimmer with innocent cheer. It had tall
casement windows looking out upon a quiet glimpse of trees. It had a
raised recess, very apt for a bust of Pallas. It had space for
bookcases. And then, on the windowsill, we found the dead and
desiccated corpse of a swallow. It must have flown in through a
broken pane on the ground floor long ago and swooped vainly about
the empty house. It lay, pathetically, close against the shut pane.
Like a forgotten and un-uttered beauty in the mind of a poet, it lay
there, stiffened and silent.


      [Illustration]



CONSIDER THE COMMUTER


When they tell us the world is getting worse and worse, and the
follies and peevishness of men will soon bring us all to some
damnable perdition, we are consoled by contemplating the steadfast
virtue of commuters. The planet grows harder and harder to live on,
it is true; every new invention makes things more complicated and
perplexing. These new automatic telephones, which are said to make
the business of getting a number so easy, will mean (we suppose)
that we will be called up fifty times a day--instead of (as now) a
mere twenty or thirty, while we are swooning and swinking over a
sonnet. But more and more people are taking to commuting and we look
to that to save things.

Because commuting is a tough and gruelling discipline. It educes
all the latent strength and virtue in a man (although it is hard on
those at home, for when he wins back at supper time there is left in
him very little of what the ladies so quaintly call "soul"). If you
study the demeanour of fellow-passengers on the 8:04 and the 5:27
you will see a quiet and well-drilled acceptiveness, a pious
non-resistance, which is not unworthy of the antique Chinese sages.

Is there any ritual (we cry, warming to our theme) so apt to imbue
the spirit with patience, stolidity, endurance, all the ripe and
seasoned qualities of manhood? It is well known that the fiercest
and most terrible fighters in the late war were those who had been
commuters. It was a Division composed chiefly of commuters that
stormed the Hindenburg Stellung and purged the Argonne thickets with
flame and steel. Their commanding officers were wont to remark these
men's carelessness of life. It seemed as though they hardly heeded
whether they got home again or not.

See them as they stand mobbed at the train gate, waiting for
admission to the homeward cars. A certain disingenuous casualness
appears on those hardened brows; but beneath burn stubborn fires.
These are engaged in battle, and they know it--a battle that never
ends. And while a warfare that goes on without truce necessarily
develops its own jokes, informalities, callousnesses, disregard of
wounds and gruesome sights, yet deep in their souls the units never
forget that they are drilled and regimented for struggle. We stood
the other evening with a Freeport man in the baggage compartment at
the front of a train leaving Brooklyn. We two had gained the
bull's-eye window at the nose of the train and sombrely watched the
sparkling panorama of lights along the track. Something had gone
wrong with the schedule that evening, and the passengers of the 5:27
had been shunted to the 5:30. As fellow mariners will, we discussed
famous breakdowns of old and the uncertainties of the commuter's
life. "Yes," said our companion, "once you leave home you never know
when you'll get back." And he smiled the passive, placable smile of
the experienced commuter.

It is this reasonable and moderate temper that makes the commuter
the seed wherewith a new generation shall be disseminated. He faces
troubles manifold without embittered grumbling. His is a new kind of
Puritanism, which endures hardship without dourness. When, on
Christmas Eve, the train out of Jamaica was so packed that the aisle
was one long mass of unwillingly embraced passengers, and even the
car platforms were crowded with shivering wights, and the conductor
buffeted his way as best he could over our toes and our parcels of
tinsel balls, what was the general cry? Was it a yell against the
railroad for not adding an extra brace of cars? No, it was
good-natured banter of the perspiring little officer as he struggled
to disentangle himself from forests of wedged legs. "You've got a
fine, big family in here," they told him: "you ought to be proud of
us." And there was a sorrowing Italian who had with him a string of
seven children who had tunnelled and burrowed their way down the
packed aisle of the smoking car and had got irretrievably scattered.
The father was distracted. Here and there, down the length of the
car, someone would discover an urchin and hold him up for
inspection. "Is this one of them?" he would cry, and Italy would
give assent. "Right!" And the children were agglomerated and piled
in a heap in the middle of the car until such time as a thinning of
the crowd permitted the anxious and blushing sire to reassemble them
and reprove their truancy with Adriatic lightnings from his dark
glowing eyes.

How pleasing is our commuter's simplicity! A cage of white mice, or
a crated goat (such are to be seen now and then on the Jamaica
platform) will engage his eye and give him keen amusement. Then
there is that game always known (in the smoking car) as
"pea-knuckle." The sight of four men playing will afford
contemplative and apparently intense satisfaction to all near. They
will lean diligently over seat-backs to watch every play of the
cards. They will stand in the aisle to follow the game, with
apparent comprehension. Then there are distinguished figures that
move through the observant commuter's peep-show. There is the tall
young man with the beaky nose, which (as Herrick said)

          Is the grace
          And proscenium of his face.

He is one of several light-hearted and carefree gentry who always
sit together and are full of superb cheer. Those who travel
sometimes with twinges of perplexity or skepticism are healed when
they see the magnificent assurance of this creature. Every day we
hear him making dates for his cronies to meet him at lunch time,
and in the evening we see him towering above the throng at the gate.
We like his confident air toward life, though he is still a little
too jocular to be a typical commuter.

But the commuter, though simple and anxious to be pleased, is
shrewdly alert. Every now and then they shuffle the trains at
Jamaica just to keep him guessing and sharpen his faculty of judging
whether this train goes to Brooklyn or Penn Station. His decisions
have to be made rapidly. We are speaking now of Long Island
commuters, whom we know best; but commuters are the same wherever
you find them. The Jersey commuter has had his own celebrant in
Joyce Kilmer, and we hope that he knows Joyce's pleasant essay on
the subject which was published in that little book, "The Circus and
Other Essays." But we gain-say the right of Staten Islanders to be
classed as commuters. These are a proud and active sort who are
really seafarers, not commuters. Fogs and ice floes make them blench
a little; but the less romantic troubles of broken brake-shoes leave
them unscotched.

Of Long Island commuters there are two classes: those who travel to
Penn Station, those who travel to Brooklyn. Let it not be denied,
there is a certain air of aristocracy about the Penn Station clique
that we cannot waive. Their tastes are more delicate. The train-boy
from Penn Station cries aloud "Choice, delicious apples," which
seems to us almost an affectation compared to the hoarse yell of our
Brooklyn news-agents imploring "Have a comic cartoon book, 'Mutt
and Jeff,' 'Bringing Up Father,' choclut-covered cherries!" The
club cars all go to Penn Station: there would be a general apoplexy
in the lowly terminal at Atlantic Avenue if one of those vehicles
were seen there. People are often seen (on the Penn Station branch)
who look exactly like the advertisements in _Vanity Fair_. Yet we,
for our humility, have treasures of our own, such as the brightly
lighted little shops along Atlantic Avenue and a station with the
poetic name of Autumn Avenue. The Brooklyn commuter points with
pride to his monthly ticket, which is distinguished from that of the
Penn Station nobility by a red badge of courage--a bright red
stripe. On the Penn Station branch they often punch the tickets with
little diamond-shaped holes; but on our line the punch is in the
form of a heart.

When the humble commuter who is accustomed to travelling via
Brooklyn is diverted from his accustomed orbit, and goes by way of
the Pennsylvania Station, what surprising excitements are his. The
enormousness of the crowd at Penn Station around 5 P.M. causes him
to realize that what he had thought, in his innocent Brooklyn
fashion, was a considerable mob, was nothing more than a trifling
scuffle. But he notes with pleasure the Penn Station habit of
letting people through the gate before the train comes in, so that
one may stand in comparative comfort and coolness downstairs on the
train platform. Here a vision of luxury greets his eyes that could
not possibly be imagined at the Brooklyn terminal--the Lehigh Valley
dining car that stands on a neighbouring track, the pink candles
lit on the tables, the shining water carafes, the white-coated
stewards at attention. At the car's kitchen window lolls a young
coloured boy in a chef's hat, surveying the files of proletarian
commuters with a glorious calmness of scorn and superiority. His
mood of sanguine assurance and self-esteem is so complete, so
unruffled, and so composed that we cannot help loving him. Lucky
youth, devoid of cares, responsibilities, and chagrins! Does he not
belong to the conquering class that has us all under its thumb? What
does it matter that he (probably) knows less about cooking than you
or I? He gazes with glorious cheer upon the wretched middle class,
and as our train rolls away we see him still gazing across the
darkling cellars of the station with that untroubled gleam of
condescension, his eyes seeming (as we look back at them) as large
and white and unspeculative as billiard balls.

In the eye of one commuter, the 12:50 SATURDAY ONLY is the
most exciting train of all. What a gay, heavily-bundled, and
loquacious crowd it is that gathers by the gate at the Atlantic
Avenue terminal. There is a holiday spirit among the throng, which
pants a little after the battle down and up those steps leading from
the subway. (What a fine sight, incidentally, is the stag-like stout
man who always leaps from the train first and speeds scuddingly
along the platform, to reach the stairs before any one else.) Here
is the man who always carries a blue cardboard box full of chicks.
Their plaintive chirpings sound shrill and disconsolate. There is
such a piercing sorrow and perplexity in their persistent query that
one knows they have the true souls of minor poets. Here are two
cheerful stenographers off to Rockaway for the week-end. They are
rather sarcastic about another young woman of their party who always
insists on sleeping under sixteen blankets when at the shore.

But the high point of the trip comes when one changes at Jamaica,
there boarding the 1:15 for Salamis. This is the train that on
Saturdays takes back the two famous club cars, known to all
travellers on the Oyster Bay route. Behind partly drawn blinds the
luncheon tables are spread; one gets narrow glimpses of the great
ones of the Island at their tiffin. This is a militant moment for
the white-jacketed steward of the club car. On Saturdays there are
always some strangers, unaccustomed to the ways of this train, who
regard the two wagons of luxury as a personal affront. When they
find all the seats in the other cars filled they sternly desire to
storm the door of the club car, where the proud steward stands on
guard. "What's the matter with this car?" they say. "Nothing's the
matter with it," he replies. Other more humble commuters stand in
the vestibule, enjoying these little arguments. It is always quite
delightful to see the indignation of these gallant creatures, their
faces seamed with irritation to think that there should be a holy of
holies into which they may not tread.

A proud man, and a high-spirited, is the conductor of the 4:27 on
weekdays. This train, after leaving Jamaica, does not stop until
Salamis is reached. It attains such magnificent speed that it always
gets to Salamis a couple of minutes ahead of time. Then stands the
conductor on the platform, watch in hand, receiving the plaudits of
those who get off. The Salamites have to stand patiently beside the
train--it is a level crossing--until it moves on. This is the daily
glory of this conductor, as he stands, watch in one hand, the other
hand on the signal cord, waiting for Time to catch up with him.
"_Some_ train," we cry up at him; he tries not to look pleased, but
he is a happy man. Then he pulls the cord and glides away.

Among other articulations in the anatomy of commuting, we mention
the fact that no good trainman ever speaks of a train _going_ or
_stopping_ anywhere. He says, "This train _makes_ Sea Cliff and Glen
Cove; it don't make Salamis." To be more purist still, one should
refer to the train as "he" (as a kind of extension of the engineer's
personality, we suppose). If you want to speak with the tongue of a
veteran, you will say, "He makes Sea Cliff and Glen Cove."

The commuter has a chance to observe all manner of types among his
brethren. On our line we all know by sight the two fanatical checker
players, bent happily over their homemade board all the way to town.
At Jamaica they are so absorbed in play that the conductor--this is
the conductor who is so nervous about missing a fare and asks
everyone three times if his ticket has been punched--has to rout
them out to change to the Brooklyn train. "How's the game this
morning?" says someone. "Oh, I was just trimming him, but they made
us change." However thick the throng, these two always manage to
find seats together. They are still hard at it when Atlantic Avenue
is reached, furiously playing the last moves as the rest file out.
Then there is the humorous news-agent who takes charge of the
smoking car between Jamaica and Oyster Bay. There is some mysterious
little game that he conducts with his clients. Very solemnly he
passes down the aisle distributing rolled-up strips of paper among
the card players. By and by it transpires that some one has won a
box of candy. Just how this is done we know not. Speaking of card
players, observe the gaze of anguish on the outpost. He dashes
ahead, grabs two facing seats and sits in one with a face contorted
with anxiety for fear that the others will be too late to join him.
As soon as a card game is started there are always a half dozen
other men who watch it, following every play with painful scrutiny.
It seems that watching other people play cards is the most absorbing
amusement known to the commuter.

Then there is the man who carries a heavy bag packed with books. A
queer creature, this. Day by day he lugs that bag with him yet
spends all his time reading the papers and rarely using the books he
carries. His pipe always goes out just as he reaches his station;
frantically he tries to fill and light it before the train stops.
Sometimes he digs deeply into the bag and brings out a large slab of
chocolate, which he eats with an air of being slightly ashamed of
himself. The oddities of this person do not amuse us any the less
because he happens to be ourself.

So fares the commuter: a figure as international as the teddy bear.
He has his own consolations--of a morning when he climbs briskly
upward from his dark tunnel and sees the sunlight upon the spread
wings of the Telephone and Telegraph Building's statue, and moves
again into the stirring pearl and blue of New York's lucid air. And
at night, though drooping a little in the heat and dimness of those
Oyster Bay smoking cars, he is dumped down and set free. As he
climbs the long hill and tunes his thoughts in order, the sky is a
froth of stars.


      [Illustration]



THE PERMANENCE OF POETRY


We heard a critic remark that no great sonnets are being written
nowadays. What (he said morosely) is there in the way of a recent
sonnet that is worthy to take its place in the anthologies of the
future beside those of Sir Philip Sidney, Milton, Wordsworth, Keats,
Mrs. Browning, Louise Guiney, Rupert Brooke, or Lizette Reese?
(These were the names he mentioned.)

This moves us to ask, how can you tell? It takes time for any poem
to grow and ripen and find its place in the language. It will be for
those of a hundred or more years hence to say what are the great
poems of our present day. If a sonnet has the true vitality in it,
it will gather association and richness about it as it traces its
slender golden path through the minds of readers. It settles itself
comfortably into the literary landscape, incorporates itself subtly
into the unconscious thought of men, becomes corpuscular in the
blood of the language. It comes down to us in the accent of those
who have loved and quoted it, invigorated by our subtle sense of the
permanent rightness of its phrasing and our knowledge of the
pleasure it has given to thousands of others. The more it is quoted,
the better it seems.

All this is a slow process and an inscrutable. No one has ever given
us a continuous history of any particular poem, tracing its history
and adventures after its first publication--the places it has been
quoted, the hearts it has rejoiced. It could only be done by an
infinity of toil and a prodigal largesse to clipping bureaus. It
would be a fascinating study, showing how some poems have fought for
their lives against the evaporation of Time, and how they have come
through, sometimes, because they were carried and cherished in one
or two appreciative hearts. But the point to bear in mind is, the
whole question of the permanence of poetry is largely in the hands
of chance. If you are interested to observe the case of some really
first-class poetry which has been struggling for recognition and yet
shows, so far, no sign of breaking through into the clear light of
lasting love and remembrance, look at the poems of James Elroy
Flecker.

Generally speaking, one law is plain: that it is not until the poet
himself and all who knew him are dead, and his lines speak only with
the naked and impersonal appeal of ink, that his value to the race
as a permanent pleasure can be justly appraised.

There is one more point that perhaps is worth making. It is
significant of human experience that the race instinctively demands,
in most of the poetry that it cares to take along with it as
permanent baggage, a certain honourable sobriety of mood. Consider
Mr. Burton E. Stevenson's great "Home Book of Verse," that
magnificent anthology which may be taken as fairly indicative of
general taste in these matters. In nearly 4,000 pages of poetry only
three or four hundred are cynical or satirical in temper. Humanity
as a whole likes to make the best of a bad job: it grins somewhat
ruefully at the bitter and the sardonic; but when it is packing its
trunk for the next generation it finds most room for those poets who
have somehow contrived to find beauty and not mockery in the inner
sanctities of human life and passion. This thought comes to us on
reading Aldous Huxley's brilliant and hugely entertaining book of
poems called "Leda." There is no more brilliant young poet writing
to-day; his title poem is nothing less than extraordinary in pagan
and pictorial beauty, but as a whole the cynical and scoffish tone
of carnal drollery which gives the book its appeal to the humorously
inclined makes a very dubious sandal for a poet planning a
long-distance run. Please note that we are not taking sides in any
argument: we ourself admire Mr. Huxley's poems enormously; but we
are simply trying, clumsily, to state what seem to us some of the
conditions attaching to the permanence of beauty as arranged in
words.

It is not to be supposed that you have done your possible when you
have read a great poem once--or ten times. A great poem is like a
briar pipe--it darkens and mellows and sweetens with use. You fill
it with your own glowing associations and glosses, and the strong
juices seep through, staining and gilding the grain and fibre of the
words.


      [Illustration]



BOOKS OF THE SEA


The National Marine League asks, What are the ten best books of the
sea? Without pondering very deeply on the matter, and confining
ourself to prose, we would suggest the following as our own
favourites:

    _Typhoon, by Joseph Conrad
     The Nigger of the "Narcissus," by Joseph Conrad
     The Mirror of the Sea, by Joseph Conrad
     Captains Courageous, by Rudyard Kipling
     The Brassbounder, by David W. Bone
     Salt of the Sea, by Morley Roberts
     Mr. Midshipman Easy, by Captain Marryat
     The Wreck of the "Grosvenor," by Clark Russell
     Moby Dick, by Herman Melville
     An Ocean Tramp, by William McFee._

If one is allowed to include books that deal partially with salt
water, one would have to add "Treasure Island," "Casuals of the
Sea," by McFee, and "Old Junk," by Tomlinson. The kind of
shallow-water sea tales that we love to read after supper, with our
feet on the nearest chair and a decent supply of tobacco handy, are
the delicious stories by W.W. Jacobs. Dana's "Two Years Before the
Mast," which is spoken of as a classic, we have never read. We have
always had a suspicion of it, we don't know why. Before we tackle it
we shall re-read "The Water Babies." We have always found a good
deal of innocent cheer in the passages in John Woolman's Journal
describing his voyage from Philadelphia to London in 1772. Friend
Woolman, like the sturdy Quaker that he was, was horrified (when he
went to have a look at the ship _Mary and Elizabeth_) to find
"sundry sorts of carved work and imagery" on that part of the vessel
where the cabins were; and in the cabins themselves he observed
"some superfluity of workmanship of several sorts." This subjected
his mind to "a deep exercise," and he decided that he would have to
take passage in the steerage instead of the cabin. Having our self
made use of the steerage aforetime, both in the _Mauretania_ and
humbler vessels, we feel a certain kindred sympathy for his
experiences. We have always enjoyed his remark: "The wind now blew
vehemently, and the sea wrought to that degree that an awful
seriousness prevailed."

To come to poetry, we suppose that the greatest sea-poet who never
ventured on anything more perilous than a ferry-boat was Walt
Whitman. Walt, one likes to think, would have been horribly sea-sick
if he had ventured out beyond the harbour buoy. A good deal of
Walt's tempestuous uproar about the glories of America was
undoubtedly due to the fact that he had never seen anything else.
Speaking of Walt reminds us that one book of the sea that we have
never read (for the best of reasons: it has not been written) might
be done by Thomas Mosher, the veteran tippler of literary minims.
Mr. Mosher, we understand, "followed" the sea in his youth. Not long
ago, when Mr. Mosher published that exquisite facsimile of the 1855
"Leaves of Grass," we asked him when and how he first came in
contact with Whitman's work. He said:

     I don't suppose there was anything particularly interesting
     about my first acquaintance with Whitman, which at 14 years of
     age I made in my old family mansion situated at Smith's Corner,
     America. I had been taking "The Galaxy" from its start, only a
     few months previous to the date I mention. I can still see
     myself in the sitting room of the old house. Smith's Cor.,
     America, I will remind you, is a portion of Biddeford, Me. An
     extra "d" has got into the old English name--which, by the way,
     only a year later I passed through after a shipwreck on the
     Devonshire coast. (That was in 1867.) No one ever told me
     anything about Walt.

These amateurish speculations on maritime books are of no value
except for the fact that they elicited an interesting letter from an
expert on these matters. William McFee wrote us as follows:--

     "The first thing I laid my hands on this evening, while hunting
     for some forgotten nugget of wisdom in my note-books filled
     with Mediterranean brine, was that list of books for a
     projected sea library. Perpend....

                   _The Sea Farer's Library_

          Tom Cringle's Log             Michael Scott
          Two Years Before the Mast              Dana
          Midshipman Easy                     Marryat
          Captains Courageous                 Kipling
          The Flying Cloud             Morley Roberts
          The Cruise of the Cachalot  Frank T. Bullen
          Log of a Sea Waif           Frank T. Bullen
          The Salving of a Derelict     Maurice Drake
          The Grain Carriers             Edward Noble
          Marooned                      Clark Russell
          Typhoon                              Conrad
          Toilers of the Sea                     Hugo
          An Iceland Fisherman                   Loti
          The Sea Surgeon                  D'Annunzio
          The Sea Hawk                       Sabatini


     "A good many of these need no comment. Attention is drawn not
     to the individual items, but to the balance of the whole. That
     is the test of a list. But there is a good balance, a balance
     of power, and a balance of mere weight or prestige. It is the
     power we are after here. Regard for a moment the way 'Tom
     Cringle' balances Dana's laconic record of facts. No power on
     earth could hold 'Tom Cringle' to facts, with the result that
     his story is more truly a representation of sea life in the old
     navy than a ton of statistics. He has the seaman's mind, which
     Dana had not.

     "Then again 'Captains Courageous' and 'The Flying Cloud'
     balance each other with temperamental exactitude. Each is a
     fine account of sea-doings with a touch of fiction to keep the
     sailor reading, neither of them in the very highest class. 'The
     Cruise of the Cachalot' is balanced by the 'Log of a Sea Waif,'
     each in Bullen's happier and less evangelical vein. I was
     obliged to exclude 'With Christ at Sea,' not because it is
     religious, but because it does not balance. It would give the
     whole list a most pronounced 'list,' if you will pardon the
     unpardonable.... I regret this because 'With Christ at Sea' has
     some things in it which transcend anything else Bullen ever
     wrote.

     "Now we come to a couple of books possibly requiring a little
     explanation. 'The Salving of a Derelict' is a remarkably able
     story of a man's reclamation. I believe Maurice Drake won a
     publisher's prize with it as a first novel some years ago. It
     was a winner among the apprentices, I remember. 'The Grain
     Carriers' is a grim story of greedy owners and an unseaworthy
     ship by an ex-master mariner whose 'Chains,' while not a sea
     story, is tinged with the glamour of South American shipping,
     and is obviously a work written under the influence of Joseph
     Conrad. 'Marooned' and 'Typhoon' balance (only you mustn't be
     too critical) as examples of the old and new methods of telling
     a sea story.

     "'The Sea Surgeon' is one of a collection of stories about the
     Pescarese, which D'Annunzio wrote years ago. They are utterly
     unlike 'II Fuoco' and the other absurd tales on which
     translators waste their time. In passing one is permitted to
     complain of the persistent ill-fortune Italian novelists suffer
     at the hands of their English translators.

     "Assuming, however, that our seafarer wants a book or two of
     what is euphemistically termed 'non-fiction,' here are a few
     which will do him no harm:

     "Southey's 'Life of Nelson.'

     "'The Influence of Sea Power Upon History,' Mahan.

     "Admiral Lord Beresford's 'Memoirs.'

     "The Diary of Samuel Pepys, F.R.S., Secretary to the Admiralty
     in the Reign of Charles II and James II. It is most grievously
     overlooked that Samuel was the first to draft a naval Rate
     Book, which is a sort of indexed lexicon of everything one
     needs 'for fighting and sea-going efficiency.' And it is a
     pleasure, chastened by occasional fits of ill-temper, to
     discover that the present British Naval Rate Book hath in it
     divers synonyms coeval with Samuel and his merry monarchs. As
     when the present writer tried to order some hammer-handles and
     discovered after much tribulation that the correct naval
     equivalent for such is 'ash-helms.' Whereupon he toilfully
     rewrote his requisitions 'and so to bed.'

     "Another suggestion I might make is a volume to be compiled,
     containing the following chapters:

         I. "Landsmen Admirals," Generals Blake and Monk.
        II. "A Dutch Triumvirate," Van Tromp, De Witt and De Ruyter.
       III. "Napoleon as a Sea Tactician."
        IV. "Decatur and the Mediterranean Pirates."
         V. "The Chesapeake and the Shannon."
        VI. "The Spanish-American Naval Actions."
       VII. "The Russo-Japanese Naval Actions."
      VIII. "The Turko-Italian Naval Actions."
      Conclusion. "Short Biography of Josephus Daniels."

     "Only deep-water sailors would be able to take this suggested
     library to sea with them, because a sailor only reads at sea.
     When the landward breeze brings the odours of alien lands
     through the open scuttle one closes the book, and if one is a
     normal and rational kind of chap and the quarantine regulations
     permit, goes ashore."

Gruesome as anything in any seafaring pirate yarn is Trelawny's
description (in "Recollections of the Last Days of Shelley and
Byron") of the burning of Shelley's body on the seashore near Via
Reggio. The other day, in company with two like-minded innocents, we
visited a bookshop on John Street where we found three battered
copies of this great book, and each bought one, with shouts of joy.
The following day, still having the book with us, we dropped in to
see the learned and hospitable Dr. Rosenbach at his new and
magnificent thesaurus at 273 Madison Avenue. We showed him the book,
because every time one shows the doctor a book he can startle you by
countering with its original manuscript or something of that sort.
We said something about Shelley and Trelawny, in the hope of
starting him off. He smiled gently and drew out a volume from a
shelf. It was the copy of "Prometheus Unbound" that Shelley had
given Trelawny in July, 1822, with an inscription. As the poet was
drowned on July 8, 1822, it probably was the last book he ever gave
away.

One wonders what may have become of the log of the American clipper
that Shelley and Trelawny visited in the harbour of Leghorn shortly
before Shelley's death. Shelley had said something in praise of
George Washington, to which the sturdy Yankee skipper replied:
"Stranger, truer words were never spoken; there is dry rot in all
the main timbers of the Old World, and none of you will do any good
till you are docked, refitted, and annexed to the New. You must log
that song you sang; there ain't many Britishers that will say as
much of the man that whipped them; so just set these lines down in
the log!"

Whereupon Shelley autographed the skipper's log for him, with some
sentiments presumably gratifying to American pride, and drank some
"cool peach brandy." It was his last drink.

We ourself, just as much as Shelley, enjoy visiting ships, and have
had some surprising adventures in so doing. We remember very clearly
our first call upon William McFee, when he was First Assistant
Engineer in S.S. _Turrialba_. But getting aboard vessels is a much
more complicated and diplomatic task than it was in Shelley's day.
Even when armed with Mr. McFee's autographed card, it was by no
means easy. We went dutifully up to the office of the United Fruit
Company at Pier 9, to apply for a pass, and were surveyed with grim
suspicion. Why, we asked gently, in these peaceful times is it so
difficult to visit a friend who happens to be in a ship?
Prohibition, said the candid clerk, and a whole province of human
guile was thereby made plain to our shrinking mind. Mortals incline
readily to sin, it seems, and apparently evil and base men will even
go so far as to pretend a friendship with those who go down to wet
territory in ships, simply for the sake of--well, we cannot bring
ourself to mention it. "How do you know Mr. McFee wants to see you?"
we were asked. Luckily we had Mac's card to prove it.

We had long wanted to see Mr. McFee in his sea-going quarters,
where he writes his books and essays (so finely flavoured with a
rich ironical skepticism as to the virtues of folk who live on
shore). Never was a literary sanctum less like the pretentious
studios of the imitation litterateurs. In a small cabin stood our
friend, in his working dungarees (if that is what they are called)
talking briskly with the Chief and another engineer. The
conversation, in which we were immediately engulfed, was so
vivacious that we had small chance to examine the surroundings as we
would have liked to. But save for the typewriter on the desk and a
few books in a rack, there was nothing to suggest literature.
"Plutarch's Lives," we noticed--a favourite of Mac's since boyhood;
Frank Harris's "The Bomb" (which, however, the Chief insisted
belonged to him), E.S. Martin's "Windfalls of Observation," and some
engineering works. We envied Mac the little reading lamp at the head
of his bunk.

We wish some of the soft-handed literary people who bleat about only
being able to write in carefully purged and decorated surroundings
could have a look at that stateroom. In just such compartments Mr.
McFee has written for years, and expected to finish that night (in
the two hours each day that he is able to devote to writing) his
tale, "Captain Macedoine's Daughter." As we talked there was a
constant procession of in-comers, most of them seeming to the opaque
observation of the layman to be firemen discussing matters of
overtime. On the desk lay an amusing memorandum, which the Chief
referred to jocularly as one of Mac's "works," anent some problem
of whether the donkeyman was due certain overtime on a Sunday when
the _Turrialba_ lay in Hampton Roads waiting for coal. On the cabin
door was a carefully typed list marked in Mr. McFee's hand "Work to
Do." It began something like this:

       _Main Engine Pump-Link Brasses
        Fill Up Main Engine Feed Pump and Bilge Rams
        Open and Scale After Port Boiler
        Main Circulator Impeller to Examine
        Hydrokineter Valve on Centre Boiler to be Rejointed_

The delightful thing about Mr. McFee is that he can turn from these
things, which he knows and loves, to talk about literary problems,
and can out-talk most literary critics at their own game.

He took us through his shining engines, showing us some of the
beauty spots--the Weir pumps and the refrigerating machinery and the
thrust-blocks (we hope we have these right), unconsciously
inflicting upon us something of the pain it gives the bungling jack
of several trades when he sees a man who is so fine a master not
merely of one, but of two--two seemingly diverse, but in which the
spirit of faith and service are the same. "She's a bonny ship," he
said, and his face was lit with sincerity as he said it. Then he
washed his hands and changed into shore clothes and we went up to
Frank's, where we had pork and beans and talked about Sir Thomas
Browne.


      [Illustration]



FALLACIOUS MEDITATIONS ON CRITICISM


I

There are never, at any time and place, more than a few literary
critics of genuine incision, taste, and instinct; and these
qualities, rare enough in themselves, are further debilitated, in
many cases, by excessive geniality or indigestion. The ideal
literary critic should be guarded as carefully as a delicate thermal
instrument at the Weather Bureau; his meals, friendships, underwear,
and bank account should all be supervised by experts and advisedly
maintained at a temperate mean. In the Almost Perfect State (so many
phases of which have been deliciously delineated by Mr. Marquis) a
critic seen to become over-exhilarated at the dining table or to
address any author by his first name would promptly be haled from
the room by a commissionaire lest his intellectual acuity become
blunted by emotion.

The unfortunate habit of critics being also human beings has done a
great deal to impair their value to the public. For other human
beings we all nourish a secret disrespect. And therefore it is well
that the world should be reminded now and then of the dignity and
purity of the critic's function. The critic's duty is not merely to
tabulate literary material according to some convenient scale of
proved niceties; but to discern the ratio existing in any given work
between possibility and performance; between the standard the author
might justly have been expected to achieve and the standard he
actually attained. There are hierarchies and lower archies. A pint
pot, full (it is no new observation), is just as full as a bathtub
full. And the first duty of the critic is to determine and make
plain to the reader the frame of mind in which the author approached
his task.

Just as a ray of sunshine across a room reveals, in air that seemed
clear, innumerable motes of golden dancing dust and filament, so the
bright beam of a great critic shows us the unsuspected floating
atoms of temperament in the mind of a great writer. The popular
understanding of the word _criticize_ is to find fault, to pettifog.
As usual, the popular mind is only partly right. The true critic is
the tender curator and warden of all that is worthy in letters. His
function is sacramental, like the sweeping of a hearth. He keeps the
hearth clean and nourishes the fire. It is a holy fire, for its fuel
is men's hearts.

It seems to us probable that under present conditions the cause of
literature is more likely to suffer from injudicious and excessive
praise rather than from churlish and savage criticism. It seems to
us (and we say this with certain misgivings as to enthusiasms of our
own) that there are many reviewers whose honest zeal for the
discovering of masterpieces is so keen that they are likely to burst
into superlatives half a dozen times a year and hail as a flaming
genius some perfectly worthy creature, who might, if he were given a
little stiff discipline, develop into a writer of best-readers
rather than best-sellers. Too resounding praise is often more
damning than faint praise. The writer who has any honest intentions
is more likely to be helped by a little judicious acid now and then
than by cartloads of honey. Let us be candid and personal. When
someone in _The New Republic_ spoke of some essays of our own as
"blowzy" we were moved for a few moments to an honest self-scrutiny
and repentance. Were we really blowzy, we said to ourself? We did
not know exactly what this meant, and there was no dictionary handy.
But the word gave us a picture of a fat, ruddy beggar-wench trudging
through wind and rain, probably on the way to a tavern; and we
determined, with modest sincerity, to be less like that in future.

The good old profession of criticism tends, in the hands of the
younger generation, toward too fulsome ejaculations of hurrahs and
hyperboles. It is a fine thing, of course, that new talent should so
swiftly win its recognition; yet we think we are not wholly wrong in
believing that many a delicate and promising writer has been
hurried into third-rate work, into women's magazine serials and
cheap sordid sensationalism, by a hasty overcapitalization of the
reviewer's shouts. For our own part, we do not feel any too sure of
our ability to recognize really great work when we first see it. We
have often wondered, if we had been journalizing in 1855 when
"Leaves of Grass" appeared, would we have been able to see what it
meant, or wouldn't we have been more likely to fill our column with
japeries at the expense of Walt's obvious absurdities, missing all
the finer grain? It took a man like Emerson to see what Walt was up
to.

There were many who didn't. Henry James, for instance, wrote a
review of "Drum Taps" in the _Nation_, November 16, 1865. In the
lusty heyday and assurance of twenty-two years, he laid the birch on
smartly. It is just a little saddening to find that even so
clear-sighted an observer as Henry James could not see through the
chaotic form of Whitman to the great vision and throbbing music that
seem so plain to us to-day. Whitman himself, writing about "Drum
Taps" before its publication, said, "Its passion has the
indispensable merit that though to the ordinary reader let loose
with wildest abandon, the true artist can see that it is yet under
control." With this, evidently, the young Henry James did not agree.
He wrote:

     It has been a melancholy task to read this book; and it is a
     still more melancholy one to write about it. Perhaps since the
     day of Mr. Tupper's "Philosophy" there has been no more
     difficult reading of the poetic sort. It exhibits the effort of
     an essentially prosaic mind to lift itself, by a prolonged
     muscular strain, into poetry. Like hundreds of other good
     patriots, Mr. Walt Whitman has imagined that a certain amount
     of violent sympathy with the great deeds and sufferings of our
     soldiers, and of admiration for our national energy, together
     with a ready command of picturesque language, are sufficient
     inspiration for a poet.... But he is not a poet who merely
     reiterates these plain facts _ore rotundo_. He only sings them
     worthily who views them from a height.... Mr. Whitman is very
     fond of blowing his own trumpet, and he has made very explicit
     claims for his book.... The frequent capitals are the only
     marks of verse in Mr. Whitman's writing. There is, fortunately,
     but one attempt at rhyme.... Each line starts off by itself, in
     resolute independence of its companions, without a visible goal
     ... it begins like verse and turns out to be arrant prose. It
     is more like Mr. Tupper's proverbs than anything we have
     met.... No triumph, however small, is won but through the
     exercise of art, and this volume is an offence against art....
     We look in vain through the book for a single idea. We find
     nothing but flashy imitations of ideas. We find a medley of
     extravagances and commonplaces.

We do not know whether H.J. ever recanted this very youthful
disposal of old Walt. The only importance of it at this moment seems
to us this: that appreciation of all kinds of art is so tenderly
interwoven with inherited respect for the traditional forms of
expression by which they are conveyed that a new and surprising
vehicle quite unfits most observers for any reasonable assessment of
the passenger.

As for Walt himself, he was quite unabashed by this or any other
onslaught. He was not gleg at argument, and probably rolled up the
issue of the _Nation_ in his pocket and went down to Coney Island to
lie on the sand and muse (but no, we forget, it was November!). In
the same issue of the _Nation_ he doubtless read, in the "Literary
Notes," that "Poems Relating to the American Revolution," by Philip
Freneau, was "in press under the scholarly editing of Evart A.
Duyckinck to form a complete presentment of the genius of an author
whose influence in the affairs of his time would alone impart a
lasting value to his works." At this Walt smiled gently to himself,
wondered how soon "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloomed" would
get into the anthologies, and "sped to the certainties suitable to
him."


II

These miscellaneous thoughts on the fallibility of critics were
suggested to us by finding some old bound volumes of the _Edinburgh
Review_ on a bookstall, five cents each. In the issue for November,
1814, we read with relish what the _Review_ had to say about
Wordsworth's "Excursion." These are a few excerpts:

     This will never do.... The case of Mr. Wordsworth, we perceive,
     is now manifestly hopeless; and we give him up as altogether
     incurable, and beyond the power of criticism ... making up our
     minds, though with the most sincere pain and reluctance, to
     consider him as finally lost to the good cause of poetry....
     The volume before us, if we were to describe it very shortly,
     we should characterize as a tissue of moral and devotional
     ravings, in which innumerable changes are rung upon a few very
     simple and familiar ideas.

The world of readers has not ratified Jeffrey's savage comments on
"The Excursion," for (to reckon only by the purse) any frequenter of
old bookshops can pick up that original issue of the _Edinburgh
Review_ for a few cents, while the other day we saw a first edition
of the maligned "Excursion" sold for thirty dollars. A hundred years
ago it was the critic's pleasure to drub authors with cruel and
unnecessary vigour. But we think that almost equal harm can be done
by the modern method of hailing a new "genius" every three weeks.

For example, there is something subtly troublesome to us in the
remark that Sinclair Lewis made about Evelyn Scott's novel, "The
Narrow House." The publishers have used it as an advertising slogan,
and the words have somehow buzzed their way into our head:

     "Salute to Evelyn Scott: she belongs, she understands, she is
     definitely an artist."

We have been going about our daily affairs, climbing subway stairs,
dodging motor trucks, ordering platters of stewed rhubarb, with that
refrain recurring and recurring. _Salute to Evelyn Scott!_ (we say
to ourself as we stand in line at the bank, waiting to cash a small
check). _She belongs, she understands._ And then, as we go away,
pensively counting the money (they've got some clean Ones down at
our bank, by the way; we don't know whether the larger denominations
are clean or not, we haven't seen any since Christmas), we find
ourself mumbling, _She is definitely an artist._

We wonder why that pronouncement annoys us so. We haven't read all
Mrs. Scott's book yet, and doubt our strength to do so. It is a riot
of morbid surgery by a fumbling scalpel: great powers of observation
are put to grotesque misuse. It is crammed with faithful particulars
neither relevant nor interesting. (Who sees so little as he who
looks through a microscope?) At first we thought, hopefully, that it
was a bit of excellent spoof; then, regretfully, we began to realize
that not only the publishers but even the author take it seriously.
It feels as though it had been written by one of the new school of
Chicago realists. It is disheartening that so influential a person
as Mr. Lewis should be fooled by this sort of thing.

So there is something intensely irritating to us (although we admire
Mr. Lewis) in that "_She belongs, she understands, she is definitely
an artist._" In the first place, that use of the word _artist_ as
referring to a writer always gives us qualms unless used with great
care. Then again, _She belongs_ somehow seems to intimate that there
is a registered clique of authors, preferably those who come down
pretty heavily upon the disagreeable facts of life and catalogue
them with gluttonous care, which group is the only one that counts.
Now we are strong for disagreeable facts. We know a great many. But
somehow we cannot shake ourself loose from the instinctive
conviction that imagination is the without-which-nothing of the art
of fiction. Miss Stella Benson is one who is not unobservant of
disagreeables, but when she writes she can convey her satire in
flashing, fantastic absurdity, in a heavenly chiding so delicate and
subtle that the victim hardly knows he is being chidden. The
photographic facsimile of life always seems to us the lesser art,
because it is so plainly the easier course.

We fear we are not acute enough to explain just why it is that Mr.
Lewis's salute to Mrs. Scott bothers us so. But it does bother us a
good deal. We have nourished ourself, in the main, upon the work of
two modern writers: Robert Louis Stevenson and Joseph Conrad; we
like to apply as a test such theories as we have been able to glean
from those writers. Faulty and erring as we are, we always rise from
Mr. Conrad's books purged and, for the moment, strengthened.
Apparent in him are that manly and honourable virtue, that strict
saline truth and scrupulous regard for life, that liberation from
cant, which seem to be inbred in those who have suffered the
exacting discipline of the hostile sea. Certainly Conrad cannot be
called a writer who has neglected the tragic side of things. Yet in
his "Notes on Life and Letters," we find this:

     What one feels so hopelessly barren in declared pessimism is
     just its arrogance. It seems as if the discovery made by many
     men at various times that there is much evil in the world were
     a source of proud and unholy joy unto some of the modern
     writers. That frame of mind is not the proper one in which to
     approach seriously the art of fiction.... To be hopeful in an
     artistic sense it is not necessary to think that the world is
     good. It is enough to believe that there is no impossibility of
     its being made so.... I would ask that in his dealings with
     mankind he [the writer] should be capable of giving a tender
     recognition to their obscure virtues. I would not have him
     impatient with their small failings and scornful of their
     errors.

We fear that our mild protest is rather mixed and muddled. But what
we darkly feel is this: that no author "belongs," or "understands,"
or is "definitely an artist" who merely makes the phantoms of his
imagination paltry or ridiculous. They may be paltry, but they must
also be pitiable; they may be ridiculous, but they must also be
tragic. Many authors have fallen from the sublime to the ridiculous;
but, as Mr. Chesterton magnificently said, in order to make that
descent they must first reach the sublime.


      [Illustration]



LETTING OUT THE FURNACE


The prudent commuter (and all commuters are prudent, for the others
are soon weeded out by the rigours of that way of life) keeps the
furnace going until early May in these latitudes--assuming that
there are small children in the house. None of those April hot waves
can fool him; he knows that, with cunning management, two or three
shovelfuls of coal a day will nurse the fire along, and there it is
in case of a sudden chilly squall. But when at last he lets the fire
die, and after its six months of constant and honourable service the
old boiler grows cold, the kindly glow fades and sinks downward out
of sight under a crust of gray clinkers, our friend muses tenderly
in his cellar, sitting on a packing case.

He thinks, first, how odd it is that when he said to himself, "We
might as well let the fire go out," it kept on sturdily burning,
without attention or fuel, for a day and a half; whereas if he had,
earlier in the season, neglected it even for a few hours, all would
have been cold and silent. He remembers, for instance, the tragic
evening with the mercury around zero, when, having (after supper)
arranged everything at full blast and all radiators comfortably
sizzling, he lay down on his couch to read Leonard Merrick,
intending to give all hands a warm house for the night. Very well;
but when he woke up around 2 A.M. and heard the tenor winds singing
through the woodland, how anxiously he stumbled down the cellar
stairs, fearing the worst. His fears were justified. There, on top
of the thick bed of silvery ashes, lay the last pallid rose of fire.
For as every pyrophil has noted, when the draught is left on, the
fire flees upward, leaving its final glow at the top; but when all
draughts are shut off, it sinkst downward, shyly hiding in the heart
of the mass.

So he stood, still drowsily aghast, while Gissing (the synthetic
dog) frolicked merrily about his unresponsive shins, deeming this
just one more of those surprising entertainments arranged for his
delight.

Now, on such an occasion the experienced commuter makes the best of
a bad job, knowing there is little to be gained by trying to cherish
and succour a feeble remnant of fire. He will manfully jettison the
whole business, filling the cellar with the crash of shunting ashes
and the clatter of splitting kindling. But this pitiable creature
still thought that mayhap he could, by sedulous care and coaxing,
revive the dying spark. With such black arts as were available he
wrestled with the despondent glim. During this period of guilty and
furtive strife he went quietly upstairs, and a voice spoke up from
slumber. "Isn't the house very cold?" it said.

"Is it?" said this wretched creature, with great simulation of
surprise. "Seems very comfortable to me."

"Well, I think you'd better send up some more heat," said this
voice, in the tone of one accustomed to command.

"Right away," said the panic-stricken combustion engineer, and
returned to his cellar, wondering whether he was suspected. How is
it, he wondered, that ladies know instinctively, even when vested in
several layers of blankets, if anything is wrong with the furnace?
Another of the mysteries, said he, grimly, to the synthetic dog. By
this time he knew full well (it was 3 A.M.) that there was naught
for it but to decant the grateful of cinders and set to work on a
new fire.

Such memories throng in the mind of the commuter as he surveys the
dark form of his furnace, standing cold and dusty in the warm spring
weather, and he cleans and drains it for the summer vacation. He
remembers the lusty shout of winter winds, the clean and silver
nakedness of January weather, the shining glow of the golden coals,
the comfortable rustling and chuckle of the boiler when alive with a
strong urgency of steam, the soft thud and click of the pipes when
the pressure was rising before breakfast. And he meditates that
these matters, though often the cause of grumbles at the time, were
a part of that satisfying reality that makes life in the outposts a
more honest thing than the artificial convenience of great apartment
houses. The commuter, no less than the seaman, has fidelities of his
own; and faithful, strict obedience to hard necessary formulæ
favours the combined humility and self-respect that makes human
virtue. The commuter is often a figure both tragic and absurd; but
he has a rubric and discipline of his own. And when you see him
grotesquely hasting for the 5:27 train, his inner impulse may be no
less honourable than that of the ship's officer ascending the bridge
for his watch under a dark speckle of open sky.


      [Illustration]



BY THE FIREPLACE


We were contemplating our fireplace, in which, some of the
hearth-bricks are rather irregularly disposed; and we said to
ourself, perhaps the brick-layer who built this noble fireplace
worked like Ben Jonson, with a trowel in one hand and a copy of
Horace in the other. That suggested to us that we had not read any
Ben Jonson for a very long time: so we turned to "Every Man in His
Humour" and "The Alchemist." Part of Jonson's notice "To the Reader"
preceding "The Alchemist" struck us as equally valid as regards
poetry to-day:

     Thou wert never more fair in the way to be cozened, than in
     this age, in poetry; wherein ... antics to run away from
     nature, and be afraid of her, is the only point of art that
     tickles the spectators ... For they commend writers, as they do
     fencers or wrestlers; who if they come in robustuously, and put
     for it with a great deal of violence, are received for the
     braver fellows.... I deny not, but that these men, who always
     seek to do more than enough, may some time happen on some thing
     that is good, and great; but very seldom ... I give thee this
     warning, that there is a great difference between those, that
     utter all they can, however unfitly; and those that use
     election and a mean. For it is only the disease of the
     unskilful, to think rude things greater than polished; or
     scattered more numerous than composed.

Ben Jonson's perpetual allusions to tobacco always remind one of the
odd circumstance that of two such cronies as he and Will
Shakespeare, one should have mentioned tobacco continually, the
other not at all. Undoubtedly Ben smoked a particularly foul old
pipe and was forever talking about it, spouting his rank strangling
"Cuban ebolition" across the table; and Will, probably rather nice
in his personal habits, grew disgusted with the habit.

At any rate, Shakespeare's silence on the subject has always been a
grief to smokers. At a time when we were interested in that famous
and innocent way of wasting time, trying to discover ciphers in
Shakespeare's sonnets, we spent long cryptogrammarian evenings
seeking to prove some anagram or rebus by which the Bard could be
supposed to have concealed a mention of tobacco. But the only
lurking secret we ever discovered seemed to suggest that the sonnets
had been written by an ex-President of the United States. Observe
the 131st sonnet:

      *T*hou art as tyrannous, so as thou art
      *A*s those whose beauties proudly make them cruel;
      *F*or well thou know'st to my dear doting heart
      *T*hou art the fairest and most precious jewel.

And evidently Shakespeare intended to begin the 51st sonnet with the
same acrostic; but, with Elizabethan laxity, misspelled Mr. Taft's
name as TOFT.

Reading Elizabethan literature always encourages one to proceed,
even though decorously, with the use of the pun. Such screams of
mirth as (we doubt not) greeted one of Ben Jonson's simpletons when
he spoke of Roger Bacon as Rasher Bacon (we can hear them laughing,
can't you?) are highly fortifying.

But we began by quoting Ben Jonson on poetry. The passage sent us to
the bookcase to look up the "axioms" about poetry stated by another
who was also, in spirit at least, an habitué of The Mermaid. In that
famous letter from Keats to his publisher and friend John Taylor,
February 27, 1818, there is a fine fluent outburst on the subject.
All Keats lovers know these "axioms" already, but they cannot be
quoted too often; and we copy them down with additional pleasure
because not long ago, by the kindness of the two librarians who
watch over one of the most marvellous private collections in the
world--Mr. J.P. Morgan's--we saw the original letter itself:--

     1st. I think poetry should surprise by a fine excess, and not
     by singularity. It should strike the reader as a wording of his
     own highest thoughts, and appear almost a remembrance.

     2d. Its touches of beauty should never be half-way, thereby
     making the reader breathless, instead of content. The rise, the
     progress, the setting of Imagery should, like the sun, come
     natural to him, shine over him, and set soberly, although in
     magnificence, leaving him in the luxury of twilight. But it is
     easier to think what poetry should be than to write it--and
     this leads me to

     Another axiom--That if poetry comes not as naturally as the
     leaves to a tree, it had better not come at all.

Some people can always find things to complain about. We have seen
protests because the house in Rome where Keats died is used as a
steamship office. We think it is rather appropriate. No man's mind
ever set sail upon wider oceans of imagination. To paraphrase Emily
Dickinson:

          Night after night his purple traffic
            Strews the landing with opal bales;
          Merchantmen poise upon horizons,
            Dip, and vanish with fairy sails.

Another pleasing fact is that while he was a medical student Keats
lived in Bird-in-Hand Court, Cheapside--best known nowadays as the
home of Simpson's, that magnificent chophouse. Who else, in modern
times, came so close to holding unruffled in his hand the shy wild
bird of Poetry?


      [Illustration]



A CITY NOTE-BOOK


Well, now let us see in what respect we are richer to-day than we
were yesterday.

Coming down Fifth Avenue on top of a bus, we saw a man absorbed in a
book. Ha, we thought, here is our chance to see how bus reading
compares to subway reading! After some manoeuvering, we managed to
get the seat behind the victim. The volume was "Every Man a King,"
by Orison Swett Marden, and the uncrowned monarch reading it was
busy with the thirteenth chapter, to wit: "Thoughts Radiate as
Influence." We did a little radiating of our own, and it seemed to
reach him, for presently he grew uneasy, put the volume carefully
away in a brief-case, and (as far as we could see) struck out toward
his kingdom, which apparently lay on the north shore of Forty-second
Street.

We felt then that we would recuperate by glancing at a little
literature. So we made our way toward the newly enlarged shrine of
James F. Drake on Fortieth Street. Here we encountered our friends
the two Messrs. Drake, junior, and complimented them on their thews
and sinews, these two gentlemen having recently, unaided, succeeded
in moving a half-ton safe, filled with the treasures of Elizabethan
literature, into the new sanctum. Here, where formerly sped the
nimble fingers of M. Tappe's young ladies, busy with the compilation
of engaging bonnets for the fair, now stand upon wine-dark shelves
the rich gold and amber of fine bindings. We were moved by this
sight. We said in our heart, we will erect a small madrigal upon
this theme, entitled: "Song Upon Certain Songbirds of the
Elizabethan Age Now Garnishing the Chamber Erstwhile Bright With the
Stuffed Plumage of the Milliner." To the Messrs. Drake we mentioned
the interesting letter of Mr. J. Acton Lomax in yesterday's
_Tribune_, which called attention to the fact that the poem at the
end of "Through the Looking Glass" is an acrostic giving the name of
the original Alice--viz., Alice Pleasance Liddell. In return for
which we were shown a copy of the first edition of "Alice in
Wonderland." Here, too, we dallied for some time over a first
edition of Dr. Johnson's Dictionary, and were pleased to learn that
the great doctor was no more infallible in proofreading than the
rest of us, one of our hosts pointing out to us a curious error by
which some words beginning in COV had slipped in ahead of words
beginning in COU.

       *       *       *       *       *

At noon to-day we climbed on a Riverside Drive bus at Seventy-ninth
Street and rode in the mellow gold of autumn up to Broadway and
168th. Serene, gilded weather; sunshine as soft and tawny as
candlelight, genial at midday as the glow of an open fire in spite
of the sharpness of the early morning. Battleships lay in the river
with rippling flags. Men in flannels were playing tennis on the
courts below Grant's Tomb; everywhere was a convincing appearance of
comfort and prosperity. The beauty of the children, the good
clothing of everybody, canes swinging on the pavements, cheerful
faces untroubled by thought, the warm benevolence of sunlight,
bronzing trees along Riverside Park, a man reading a book on the
summit of that rounded knoll of rock near Eighty-fourth Street which
children call "Mount Tom"--everything was so bright in life and
vigour that the sentence seems to need no verb. Joan of Arc, poised
on horseback against her screen of dark cedars, held her sword
clearly against the pale sky. Amazingly sure and strong and
established seem the rich façades of Riverside Drive apartment
houses, and the landlords were rolling in limousines up to Claremont
to have lunch. One small apartment house, near Eighty-third or
thereabouts, has been renamed the Château-Thierry.

After crossing the long bridge above Claremont and the deep ravine
where ships and ferryboats and coal stations abound, the bus crosses
on 135th Street to Broadway. At 153d, the beautiful cemetery of
Trinity Parish, leafy paths lying peaceful in the strong glow. At
166th Street is an open area now called Mitchel Square, with an
outcrop of rock polished by the rearward breeks of many sliding
urchins. Some children were playing on that small summit with a toy
parachute made of light paper and a pebble attached by threads. On
168th Street alongside the big armoury of the Twenty-second
Engineers boys were playing baseball, with a rubber ball, pitching
it so that the batter received it on the bounce and struck it with
his fist. According to the score chalked on the pavement the "Bronx
Browns" and the "Haven Athletics" were just finishing a rousing
contest, in which the former were victors, 1-0. Haven Avenue, near
by, is a happy little street perched high above the river. A small
terraced garden with fading flowers looks across the Hudson to the
woody Palisades. Modest apartment houses are built high on enormous
buttresses, over the steep scarp of the hillside. Through cellar
windows coal was visible, piled high in the bins; children were
trooping home for dinner; a fine taint of frying onions hung in the
shining air. Everywhere in that open, half-suburban, comfortable
region was a feeling of sane, established life. An old man with a
white beard was greeted by two urchins, who ran up and kissed him
heartily as he beamed upon them. Grandpa, one supposes! Plenty of
signs indicating small apartments to rent, four and five rooms. And
down that upper slant of Broadway, as the bus bumbles past rows of
neat prosperous-seeming shops, one feels the great tug and pulling
current of life that flows down the channel, the strange energy of
the huge city lying below. The tide was momentarily stilled, but
soon to resume action. There was a magic touch apparent, like the
stillness of a palace in a fairy tale, bewitched into waiting
silence.

       *       *       *       *       *

Sometimes on our way to the office in the morning we stop in front
of a jeweller's window near Maiden Lane and watch a neat little
elderly gentleman daintily setting out his employer's gauds and
trinkets for the day. We like to see him brood cheerfully over the
disposition of his small amber-coloured velvet mats, and the
arrangement of the rings, vanity cases, necklaces, and precious
stones. They twinkle in the morning light, and he leans downward in
the window, innocently displaying the widening parting on his pink
scalp. He purses his lips in a silent whistle as he cons his shining
trifles and varies his plan of display every day.

Now a modern realist (we have a painful suspicion) if he were
describing this pleasant man would deal rather roughly with him. You
know exactly how it would be done. He would be a weary, saddened,
shabby figure: his conscientious attention to the jewels in his care
would be construed as the painful and creaking routine of a victim
of commercial greed; a bitter irony would be distilled from the
contrast of his own modest station in life and the huge value of the
lucid crystals and carbons under his hands. His hands--ah, the
realist would angrily see some brutal pathos or unconscious
naughtiness in the crook of the old mottled fingers. How that
widening parting in the gray head would be gloated upon. It would be
very easy to do, and it would be (if we are any judge) wholly false.

For we have watched the little old gentleman many times, and we
have quite an affection for him. We see him as one perfectly happy
in the tidy and careful round of his tasks; and when his tenderly
brushed gray poll leans above his treasures, and he gently devises
new patterns by which the emeralds or the gold cigarette cases will
catch the slant of 9 o'clock sunlight, we seem to see one who is
enjoying his own placid conception of beauty, and who is not a
figure of pity or reproach, but one of decent honour and excellent
fidelity.

       *       *       *       *       *

One of our colleagues, a lusty genial in respect of tobacco, has
told us of a magnificent way to remove an evil and noisome taste
from an old pipe that hath been smoked overlong. He says, clean the
bowl carefully (not removing the cake) and wash tenderly in fair,
warm water. Then, he says, take a teaspoonful of the finest vatted
Scotch whiskey (or, if the pipe be of exceeding size, a
tablespoonful of the same) and pour it delicately into the bowl.
Apply a lighted match, and let the liquor burn itself out. It will
do so, he avouches, with a gentle blue flame of great beauty and
serenity. The action of this burning elixir, he maintains, operates
to sizzle and purge away all impurity from the antique incrustation
in the bowl. After letting the pipe cool, and then filling it with a
favourite blend of mingled Virginia, Perique, and Latakia, our
friend asserts that he is blessed with a cool, saporous, and
enchanting fumigation which is so fragrant that even his wife has
remarked upon it in terms complimentary. Our friend says (but we
fear he draws the longbow nigh unto fracture) that the success of
this method may be tested so: if one lives, as he does, in the
upward stories of a tall apartment house, one should take the pipe
so cleansed to the window-sill, and, smoking it heartily, lean
outward over the sill. On a clear, still, blue evening, the air
being not too gusty, the vapours will disperse and eddy over the
street; and he maintains with great zeal that passersby ten tiers
below will very soon look upward from the pavement, sniffingly, to
discern the source of such admirable fumes. He has even known them,
he announces, to hail him from the street, in tones of eager
inquiry, to learn what kind of tobacco he is smoking.

All this we have duly meditated and find ourselves considerably
stirred. Now there is only one thing that stands between ourself and
such an experiment.

       *       *       *       *       *

There are some who hold by the theory that on visiting a restaurant
it is well to pick out a table that is already cleared rather than
one still bearing the debris of a previous patron's meal. We offer
convincing proof to the contrary.

Rambling, vacant of mind and guileless of intent, in a certain quiet
portion of the city--and it is no use for you, O client, to ask
where, for our secrecy is firm as granite--we came upon an eating
house and turned inward. There were tables spread with snowy cloths,
immaculate; there were also tables littered with dishes. We chose
one of the latter, for a waiter was removing the plates, and we
thought that by sitting there we would get prompter service. We sat
down and our eye fell upon a large china cup that had been used by
the preceding luncher. In the bottom of that cup was a little pool
of dark dregs, a rich purple colour, most agreeable to gaze upon.
Happy possibilities were opened to our mind. Like the fabled Captain
X, we had a Big Idea. We made no outcry, nor did we show our
emotion, but when the waiter asked for our order we said, calmly:
"Sausages and some of the red wine." He was equally calm and uttered
no comment.

Soon he came back (having conferred, as we could see out of the wing
of our eye) with his boss. "What was it you ordered?" he said.

"Sausages," we replied, urbanely, "and some of the red wine."

"I don't remember having served you before," he said. "I can't give
you anything like that."

We saw that we must win his confidence and we thought rapidly. "It's
perfectly all right," we said. "Mr. Bennett" (we said, seizing the
first name that came into our head), "who comes here every day, told
me about it. You know Mr. Bennett; he works over on Forty-second
Street and comes here right along."

Again he departed, but returned anon with smiling visage. "If you're
a friend of Mr. Bennett's," he said, "it's all right. You know, we
have to be careful."

"Quite right," we said; "be wary." And we laid hand firmly on the
fine hemorrhage of the grape.

A little later in the adventure, when we were asked what dessert we
would have, we found stewed rhubarb on the menu, and very fine
stewed rhubarb it was; wherefore we say that our time was not
ill-spent and we shall keep the secret to ourself.

But we can't help feeling grateful to Mr. Bennett, whoever he is.

     *       *       *       *       *

Occasionally (but not often) in the exciting plexus of our affairs
(conducted, as we try to persuade ourself, with so judicious a
jointure of caution and hilarity) we find it necessary to remain in
town for dinner. Then, and particularly in spring evenings, we are
moved and exhilarated by that spectacle that never loses its
enchantment, the golden beauty and glamour of downtown New York
after the homeward ebb has left the streets quiet and lonely. By six
o'clock in a May sunset the office is a cloister of delicious peace
and solitude. Let us suppose (oh, a case merely hypothetic) that you
have got to attend a dinner somewhere in the Forties, say at
half-past seven; and it is requisite that evening clothes should be
worn. You have brought them to the office, modestly hidden, in a
bag; and in that almost unbelievable privacy, toward half-past six,
you have an enjoyable half hour of luxurious amusement and
contemplation. The office, one repeats, is completely stripped of
tenants--save perhaps an occasional grumbling sortie by the veteran
janitor. So all its resources are open for you to use as boudoir.
Now, in an office situated like this there is, at sunset time, a
variety of scenic richness to be contemplated. From the President's
office (putting on one's hard-boiled shirt) one can look down upon
St. Paul's churchyard, lying a pool of pale blue shadow in the
rising dusk. From the City Room (inserting studs) one sees the river
sheeted with light. From the office of the Literary Editor (lacing
up one's shoes) one may study the wild pinnacle of Woolworth,
faintly superfused with a brightness of gold and pink. From the
office of one of our dramatic critics the view is negligible (being
but a hardy brick wall), but the critic, debonair creature, has a
small mirror of his own, so there one manages the ticklish business
of the cravat. And from our own kennel, where are transacted the
last touches (transfer of pipe, tobacco, matches, Long Island
railroad timetable, commutation ticket, etc., to the other pockets)
there is a heavenly purview of those tall cliffs of lower Broadway,
nobly terraced into the soft, translucent sky. In that exquisite
clarity and sharpness of New York's evening light are a loveliness
and a gallantry hardly to be endured. At seven o'clock of a May
evening it is poetry unspeakable. O magnificent city (one says),
there will come a day when others will worship and celebrate your
mystery; and when not one of them will know or care how much I loved
you. But these words, obscure and perishable, I leave you as a
testimony that I also understood.

She cannot be merely the cruel Babel they like to describe her: the
sunset light would not gild her so tenderly.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was a great relief to us yesterday evening to see a man reading a
book in the subway. We have undergone so many embarrassments trying
to make out the titles of the books the ladies read, without running
afoul of the Traveller's Aid Society, that we heaved a sigh of
relief and proceeded to stalk our quarry with a light heart. Let us
explain that on a crowded train it is not such an easy task. You see
your victim at the other end of the car. First you have to buffet
your way until you get next to him. Then, just as you think you are
in a position to do a little careful snooping, he innocently shifts
the book to the other hand. This means you have got to navigate,
somehow, toward the hang-handle on the other side of him. Very well.
By the time the train gets to Bowling Green we have seen that it is
a fattish book, bound in green cloth, and the author's name begins
with FRAN. That doesn't help much. As the train roars under the
river you manage, by leanings and twistings, to see the publisher's
name--in this case, Longmans. At Borough Hall a number of passengers
get out, and the hunted reader sits down. Ten to one he will hold
the book in such a way that you cannot see the title. At Nevins
Street you get a seat beside him. At Atlantic Avenue, as he is
getting off, you propose your head over his shoulder in the jam on
the stairs and see what you are after. "Lychgate Hall," by M.E.
Francis. And in this case, success left us none the wiser.

Atlantic Avenue, by the way, always seems to us an ideal place for
the beginning of a detective story. (Speaking of that, a very jolly
article in this month's _Bookman_, called "How Old Is Sherlock
Holmes?" has revived our old ambition to own a complete set of all
the Sherlock Holmes tales, and we are going to set about scouring
the town for them). Every time we pass through the Atlantic Avenue
maelstrom, which is twelve times a week, we see, as plain as print,
the beginning of two magazine tales.

One begins as the passengers are streaming through the gate toward
the 5:27 train. There is a very beautiful damsel who always sits on
the left-hand side of the next to last car, by an open window. On
her plump and comely white hand, which holds the latest issue of a
motion picture magazine, is a sparkling diamond ring. Suddenly all
the lights in the train go out. Through the open window comes a
brutal grasp which wrenches the bauble from her finger. There are
screams, etc., etc. When the lights go on again, of course there is
no sign of the criminal. Five minutes later, Mr. Geoffrey Dartmouth,
enjoying a chocolate ice cream soda in the little soft-drink alcove
at the corner of the station, is astonished to find a gold ring, the
stone missing, at the bottom of his paper soda container.

The second story begins on the Atlantic Avenue platform of the
Lexington Avenue subway. It is 9 A.M., and a crowded train is
pulling out. Just before the train leaves a young man steps off one
of the cars, leaving behind him (though not at once noticed) a
rattan suitcase. This young man disappears in the usual fashion,
viz., by mingling with the crowd. When the train gets to the
end of the run the unclaimed suitcase is opened, and found to
contain--_continued on page_ 186.

     *       *       *        *        *

Every now and then we take a stroll up Irving Place. It is changing
slowly, but it still has much of the flavour that Arthur Maurice had
in mind when he christened It "the heart of O. Henry land." Number
55, the solid, bleached brownstone house where O. Henry once lived,
is still there: it seems to be some sort of ecclesiastical
rendezvous, if one may judge by the letters C.H.A. on the screen and
the pointed carving of the doorway. Number 53, next door, always
interests us greatly: the windows give a glimpse of the most
extraordinary number of cages of canaries.

The old German theatre seems to have changed its language: the
boards speak now in Yiddish. The chiropractor and psycho-analyst has
invaded the Place, as may be seen by a sign on the eastern side. O.
Henry would surely have told a yarn about him if he had been there
fifteen years ago. There are still quite a number of the old brown
houses, with their iron railings and little patches of grass. The
chocolate factory still diffuses its pleasant candied whiff. At
noontime the street is full of the high-spirited pupils of the
Washington Irving High School. As for the Irving house itself, it is
getting a new coat of paint. The big corset works, we dare say, has
come since O. Henry's time. We had quite an adventure there once. We
can't remember how it came about, but for some reason or other we
went to that building to see the chief engineer. All we can remember
about it was that he had been at sea at one time, and we went to see
him on some maritime errand. We found that he and his family lived
in a comfortable apartment on the roof of the factory, and we
remember making our way, with a good many blushes, through several
hundred or thousand young ladies who were industriously working away
at their employer's business and who seemed to us to be giggling
more than necessary. After a good deal of hunting we found our way
to a secret stair and reached our seafaring engineer of the corset
factory in his eyrie, where (we remember) there were oil paintings
of ships on the walls and his children played about on the roof as
though on the deck of a vessel.

Irving Place is also very rich in interesting little
shops--laundries, tailors, carpenters, stationers, and a pleasant
bookshop. It is a haunt of hand-organ men. The cool tavern at the
corner of Eighteenth, where Con Delaney tended the bar in the days
when O. Henry visited it, is there still. All along the little byway
is a calm, genteel, domestic mood, in spite of the encroachments of
factories and apartment houses. There are window boxes with flowers,
and a sort of dim suffusion of conscious literary feeling. One has a
suspicion that in all those upper rooms are people writing short
stories. "Want to see a freak?" asks the young man in the bookshop
as we are looking over his counters. We do, of course, and follow
his animated gesture. Across the street comes a plump young woman,
in a very short skirt of a violent blue, with a thick mane of bobbed
hair, carrying her hat in her hand. She looks rather comfortable and
seemly to us, but something about her infuriates the bookseller. He
is quite Freudian in his indignation that any young woman should
habit herself so. We wonder what the psycho-analyst a few blocks
below would say about it. And walking a few paces further, one comes
upon the green twitter, the tended walks and pink geranium beds of
Gramercy Park.

       *       *       *       *       *

There is no time when we need spiritual support so much as when we
are having our hair cut, for indeed it is the only time when we are
ever thoroughly and entirely Bored. But having found a good-natured
barber who said he would not mind our reading a book while he was
shearing, we went through with it. The ideal book to read at such a
time (we offer you this advice, brave friends) is the "Tao" of
Lao-Tse, that ancient and admirable Chinese sage. (Dwight Goddard's
translation is very agreeable.) "The Tao," as of course you know, is
generally translated The Way, i.e., the Way of Life of the
Reasonable Man.

Lao-Tse, we assert, is the ideal author to read while the barber is
at his business. He answers every inquiry that will be made, and all
you have to do is hold the book up and point to your favourite
marked passages.

When the barber says, genially, "Well, have you done your Christmas
shopping yet?" we raise the book and point to this maxim:

     _Taciturnity is natural to man._

When he says, "How about a nice little shampoo this morning?" we are
prompt to indicate:

     _The wise man attends to the inner significance of things and
     does not concern himself with outward appearances._

When, as we sit in the chair, we see (in the mirror before us) the
lovely reflection of the beautiful manicure lady, and she arches her
eyebrows at us to convey the intimation that we ought to have our
hands attended to, old Lao-Tse is ready with the answer. We reassure
ourself with his remark:

     _Though he be surrounded with sights that are magnificent, the
     wise man will remain calm and unconcerned._

When the shine boy offers to burnish our shoes, we call his
attention to:

     _He who closes his mouth and shuts his sense gates will be free
     from trouble to the end of life._

When the barber suggests that if we were now to have a liberal
douche of bay rum sprayed over our poll it would be a glittering
consummation of his task, we show him the words:

     _If one tries to improve a thing, he mars it._

And when (finally) the irritated tonsor suggests that if we don't
wait so long next time before getting our hair cut we will not be
humiliated by our condition, we exhibit Lao-Tse's aphorism:

     _The wise man is inaccessible to favour or hate; he cannot be
     reached by profit or injury; he cannot be honoured or
     humiliated._

"It's very easy," says the barber as we pay our check; "just drop in
here once a month and we'll fix you up." And we point to:

     _The wise man lives in the world, but he lives cautiously,
     dealing with the world cautiously. Many things that appear easy
     are full of difficulties._

       *       *       *       *       *

To a lot of people who are in a mortal scurry and excitement what is
so maddening as the calm and unruffled serenity of a dignified
philosopher who gazes unperturbed upon their pangs? So did we
meditate when facing the deliberate and mild tranquillity of the
priestly person presiding over the bulletin board announcing the
arrival of trains at the Pennsylvania Station. It was in that
desperate and curious limbo known as the "exit concourse," where
baffled creatures wait to meet others arriving on trains and
maledict the architect who so planned matters that the passengers
arrive on two sides at once, so that one stands grievously in the
middle slewing his eyes to one side and another in a kind of
vertigo, attempting to con both exits. We cannot go into this matter
in full (when, indeed, will we find enough white paper and enough
energy to discuss _anything_ in full, in the way, perhaps, Henry
James would have blanketed it?), but we will explain that we were
waiting to meet someone, someone we had never seen, someone of the
opposite sex and colour, in short, that rare and desirable creature
a cook, imported from another city, and she had missed her train,
and all we knew was her first name and that she would wear a "brown
turban." After prowling distraitly round the station (and a large
station it is) and asking every likely person if her name was
Amanda, and being frowned upon and suspected as a black slaver, and
thinking we felt on our neck the heated breath and handcuffs of the
Travellers' Aid Society, we decided that Amanda must have missed her
train and concluded to wait for the next. Then it was, to return to
our thesis, that we had occasion to observe and feel in our own
person the wretched pangs of one in despair facing the gentle--shall
we say hesychastic?--peace and benevolent quietness of the man at
the bulletin board. Bombarded with questions by the impatient and
anxious crowd, with what pacific good nature he answered our doubts
and querulities. And yet how irritating was his calmness, his
deliberation, the very placidity of his mien as he surveyed his
clacking telautograph and leisurely took out his schoolroom eraser,
rubbed off an inscription, then polished the board with a cloth,
then looked for a piece of chalk and wrote in a fine curly hand some
notation about a train from Cincinnati in which we were not at all
interested. Ah, here we are at last! Train from Philadelphia!
Arriving on track Number--; no, wrong again! He only change _5
minutes late_ to _10 minutes late_. The crowd mutters and fumes. The
telautograph begins to stutter and we gaze at it feverishly. It
stops again and our dominie looks at it calmly. He taps it gently
with his finger. We wonder, is it out of order? Perhaps that train
is already coming in and he doesn't know it, and Amanda may be
wandering lost somewhere in the vast vistas of the station looking
for us. Shall we dash up to the waiting room and have another look?
But Amanda does not know the station, and there are so many places
where benches are put, and she might think one of those was the
waiting room that had been mentioned. And then there is this
Daylight Saving time mix-up. In a sudden panic we cannot figure out
whether Philadelphia time is an hour ahead of New York time or an
hour behind. We told Amanda to take the one o'clock from
Philadelphia. Well, should she arrive here at two o'clock or at
four? It being now 5:10 by our time, what are we to do? The
telautograph clicks. The priestly person slowly and gravely writes
down that the Philadelphia train is arriving on Track 6. There is a
mad rush: everyone dashes to the gate. And here, coming up the
stairs, is a coloured lady whose anxiously speculating eye must be
the one we seek. In the mutuality of our worry we recognize each
other at once. We seize her in triumph; in fact, we could have
embraced her. All our anguish is past. Amanda is ours!


      [Illustration]



THOUGHTS IN THE SUBWAY


I

We hear people complain about the subway: its brutal competitive
struggle, its roaring fury and madness. We think they have not
sufficiently considered it.

Any experience shared daily and for a long time by a great many
people comes to have a communal and social importance; it is
desirable to fill it with meaning and see whether there may not be
some beauty in it. The task of civilization is not to be always
looking wistfully back at a Good Time long ago, or always panting
for a doubtful millennium to come; but to see the significance and
secret of that which is around us. And so we say, in full
seriousness, that for one observer at any rate the subway is a great
school of human study. We will not say that it is an easy school: it
is no kindergarten; the curriculum is strenuous and wearying, and
not always conducive to blithe cheer.

But what a tide of humanity, poured to and fro in great tides over
which the units have little control. What a sharp and troubled
awareness of our fellow-beings, drawn from study of those thousands
of faces--the fresh living beauty of the girls, the faces of men
empty of all but suffering and disillusion, a shabby errand boy
asleep, goggling with weariness and adenoids--so they go crashing
through the dark in a patient fellowship of hope and mysterious
endurance. How can one pass through this quotidian immersion in
humanity without being, in some small degree, enriched by that
admiring pity which is the only emotion that can permanently endure
under the eye of a questioning star?

Why, one wonders, should we cry out at the pangs and scuffles of the
subway? Do we expect great things to come to pass without
corresponding suffering? Some day a great poet will be born in the
subway--spiritually speaking; one great enough to show us the
terrific and savage beauty of this multitudinous miracle. As one
watches each of those passengers, riding with some inscrutable
purpose of his own (or an even more inscrutable lack of purpose)
toward duty or liberation, he may be touched with anger and contempt
toward individuals; but he must admit the majesty of the spectacle
in the mass. One who loves his country for a certain candour and
quick vigour of spirit will view the scene again and again in the
hope of spying out some secrets of the national mind and destiny.
Daily he bathes in America. He has that curious sense of mystical
meaning in common things that a traveller feels coming home from
abroad, when he finds even the most casual glimpses strangely
pregnant with national identity. In the advertisements, despite all
their absurdities; in voices humorous or sullen; even in the books
that the girls are reading (for most girls read books in the subway)
he will try to divine some authentic law of life.

He is but a poor and mean-spirited lover--whether of his city, his
country, or anything else--who loves her only because he has known
no other. We are shy of vociferating patriotism because it is callow
and empty, sprung generally from mere ignorance. The true
enthusiast, we would like to think, is he who can travel daily some
dozen or score of miles in the subway, plunged in the warm wedlock
of the rush hours; and can still gather some queer loyalty to that
rough, drastic experience. Other than a sense of pity and affection
toward those strangely sculptured faces, all busy upon the fatal
tasks of men, it is hard to be precise as to just what he has
learned. But as the crowd pours from the cars, and shrugs off the
burden of the journey, you may see them looking upward to console
themselves with perpendicular loveliness leaping into the clear sky.
Ah, they are well trained. All are oppressed and shackled by things
greater than themselves; yet within their own orbits of free
movement they are masters of the event. They are patient and
friendly, and endlessly brave.


II

The train roared through the subway, that warm typhoon whipping
light summer dresses in a multitudinous flutter. All down the
bright crowded aisle of patient humanity I could see their blowing
colours.

My eyes were touched with Truth: I saw them as they are, beautiful
and brave.

Is Time never sated with loveliness? How many million such he has
devoured, and must he take these, too? They are so young, so
slender, so untutored, such unconscious vessels of amazing life; so
courageous in their simple finery, so unaware of the Enemy that
waits for us all. With what strange cruelties will he trouble them,
their very gayety a temptation to his hand? See them on Broadway at
the lunch hour, pouring in their vivacious thousands onto the
pavement. Is there no one who wonders about these merry little
hostages? Can you look on them without marvelling at their gallant
mien?

They are aware of their charms, but unconscious of their loveliness.
Surely they are a new generation of their sex, cool, assured, even
capable. They are happy, because they do not think too much; they
are lovely, because they are so perishable, because (despite their
naïve assumption of certainty) one knows them so delightfully only
an innocent ornament of this business world of which they are so
ignorant. They are the cheerful children of Down Town, and Down Town
looks upon them with the affectionate compassion children merit.
Their joys, their tragedies, are the emotions of children--all the
more terrible for that reason.

And so you see them, day after day, blithely and gallantly faring
onward in this Children's Crusade. Can you see that caravan of life
without a pang? For many it is tragic to be young and beautiful and a
woman. Luckily, they do not know it, and they never will. But in
courage, and curiosity, and loveliness, how they put us all to
shame. I see them, flashing by in a subway train, golden sphinxes,
whose riddles (as Mr. Cabell said of Woman) are not worth solving.
Yet they are all the more appealing for that fact. For surely to be
a riddle which is not worth solving, and still is cherished as a
riddle, is the greatest mystery of all. What strange journeys lie
before them, and how triumphantly they walk the precipices as though
they were mere meadow paths.

My eyes were touched with Truth, and I saw them as they are,
beautiful and brave. And sometimes I think that even Time must be
sated with loveliness; that he will not crumble them or mar their
gallant childishness; that he will leave them, their bright dresses
fluttering, as I have seem them in the subway many a summer day.


      [Illustration]



DEMPSEY vs. CARPENTIER


The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong; but as
Frank Adams once remarked, the betting is best that way. The event
at Boyle's Thirty Acres in Jersey City was the conclusive triumph of
Reality over Romance, of Prose over Poetry. To almost all the
newspaper-reading world--except the canny fellows who study these
matters with care and knowledge--Carpentier had taken on something
of the lustre and divinity of myth. He was the white Greek god, he
was Mercury and Apollo. The dope was against him; but there were
many who felt, obscurely, that in some pregnant way a miracle would
happen. His limbs were ivory, his eyes were fire; surely the gods
would intervene! Perhaps they would have but for the definite
pronouncement of the mystagogue G.B. Shaw. Even the gods could not
resist the chance of catching Shaw off his base.

We are not a turncoat; we had hoped that Carpentier would win. It
would have been pleasant if he had, quite like a fairy tale. But we
must tell things as we see them. Dempsey, in a very difficult
situation, bore himself as a champion, and (more than that) as a man
of spirit puzzled and angered by the feeling that has been rumoured
against him. Carpentier entered the ring smiling, perfectly at ease;
but there was that same sunken, wistful, faintly weary look about
his eyes that struck us when we first saw him, at Manhasset, three
weeks ago. It was the look of a man who has had more put upon him
than he can rightly bear. But with what a grace and aplomb he stood
upon that scaffold! Dempsey, on the other hand, was sullen and
sombre; when they spoke together he seemed embarrassed and kept his
face averted. As the hands were bandaged and gloves put on, he sat
with lowered head, his dark poll brooding over his fists, not unlike
Rodin's Thinker. Carpentier, at the opposite corner, was apparently
at ease; sat smilingly in his gray and black gown, watching the
airplanes.

You have read the accounts of the fight to small purpose if you do
not realize that Carpentier was utterly outclassed--not in skill or
cunning, but in those qualities where the will has no part, in power
and reach. From the first clinch, when Dempsey began that series of
terrible body jabs that broke down the Frenchman's energy and speed,
the goose was cooked. There was nothing poetic or glamorous about
those jabs; they were not spectacular, not particularly swift; but
they were terribly definite. Half a dozen of them altered the scene
strangely. The smiling face became haggard and troubled.

Carpentier, too, must have been leaving something to the gods, for
his tactics were wildly reckless. He was the aggressor at the start,
leading fiercely for Dempsey's jaw, and landing, too, but not
heavily enough to do damage. Again and again in that first round he
fell into the fatal embrace in which Dempsey punished him busily,
with those straight body strokes that slid in methodically, like
pistons. Georges seemed to have no defence that could slacken those
blows. After every clinch his strength plainly ebbed and withered.
Away, he dodged nimbly, airily, easily more dramatic in arts of
manoeuvre. But Dempsey, tall, sullen, composed, followed him
steadily. He seemed slow beside that flying white figure, but that
wheeling amble was deadly sure. He was always on the inner arc,
Carpentier on the outer; the long, swarthy arms were impenetrable in
front of his vitals; again and again he followed up, seeking to
corner his man; Carpentier would fling a shining arm at the dark
jaw; a clinch would follow in which the two leaned together in that
curious posture of apparent affection; and they hung upon each
other's necks--Carpentier, from a distance, looking almost like a
white girl languishing in the arms of some dark, solicitous lover.
But Mr. Dempsey was the Fatal Bridegroom, for at each union he would
rivet in several more of those steam punches.

There was something almost incredible in the scene--so we had been
drilled in that Million-Dollar Myth, the unscathability of
Carpentier. Was this Gorgeous Georges, this blood-smeared, wilting,
hunted figure, flitting desperately from the grim, dark-jowled
avenger? And then, in the latter part of the second round, Georges
showed one flash of his true genius. Suddenly he sprang, leaping (so
it seemed) clear from the canvas, and landed solidly (though not
killingly) on Dempsey's jaw. There was a flicker of lightning blows,
and for an instant Dempsey was retreating, defensive, even a little
jarred. That was the high moment of the fight, and the crowd then
showed its heart. Ninety thousand people had come there to see
bloodshed; through several humid hours they had sat in a rising
temperature, both inward and outward, with cumulating intensity like
that of a kettle approaching the boil. Dempsey had had a bigger hand
on entering the ring; but so far it had been too one-sided for much
roaring. But now, for an instant, there was actual fighting. There
were some who thought that if Georges could have followed up this
advantage he still had a chance. We do not think so. Dempsey was not
greatly shaken. He was too powerful and too hard to reach. They
clinched and stalled for a moment, and the gong came shortly. But
Carpentier had shown his tiger streak. Scotty Monteith, manager (so
we were told) of Johnny Dundee, sat just in front of us in a pink
skirt, and had been gathering up substantial wagers from the
ill-starred French journalists near by. Scotty was not in any doubt
as to the outcome, but even he was moved by Carpentier's gallant
sally. "No one knew he was a fighter like that," he said.

The rest is but a few words. Carpentier's face had a wild, driven
look. His hits seemed mere taps beside Dempsey's. In the fourth
round he went down once, for eight or nine counts, and climbed up
painfully. The second time he sprawled flat; Dempsey, still with
that pensive lowered head, walked grimly in a semi-circle, waiting
to see if that was the end. It was. Greek gods are no match for
Tarzans in this game.

It was all over in a breathless flash. It was not one lucky blow
that did it, but a sequence of business-like crushing strokes. We
shall not soon forget that picture before the gong rang: Carpentier,
still the White Knight of legend and glory, with his charming upward
smile and easy unconcern; and Dempsey's dark cropped head, bent and
glowering over his chest. There was in Dempsey's inscrutable,
darkling mien a cold, simmering anger, as of a man unfairly hounded,
he hardly knew why. And probably, we think, unjustly. You will say
that we import a symbolism into a field where it scarcely thrives.
But Carpentier's engaging merriment in the eye of oncoming downfall
seemed to us almost a parable of those who have smiled too
confidingly upon the dark faces of the gods.


      [Illustration]



A LETTER TO A SEA CAPTAIN
(To D.W.B.)


DEAR CAPTAIN:

You are the most modest of men, but even at the risk of arousing
your displeasure we have it on our mind to say something about you.
We shall try not to be offensively personal, for indeed we are
thinking not merely of yourself but also of the many others of your
seafaring art who have always been such steadfast servants of the
public, the greatness of whose service has not always been well
enough understood. But perhaps it is only fair that the sea captain,
so unquestionable an autocrat in his own world, should be called
upon to submit to that purging and erratic discipline which is so
notable a feature of our American life--publicity!

It is not enough understood, we repeat, how valuable and charming
the sea captain is as an agent and private ambassador of
international friendship. Perhaps we do not know you until we have
seen you at sea (may the opportunity serve anon!). We have only
known you with your majesty laid aside, your severity relaxed. But
who else so completely and humorously understands both sides of the
water, and in his regular movements from side to side acts so shrewd
a commentator on Anglo-American affairs? Who takes more keen delight
in our American ways, in the beauty of this New York of which we are
so proud, who has done so much to endear each nation to the other?
Yours, true to your blood (for you are _Scot Scotorum_), is the
humorist's way: how many passengers you have warmed and tickled with
your genial chaff, hiding constant kindness under a jocose word,
perhaps teasing us Americans on our curious conduct of knives and
forks, or (for a change) taking the cisatlantic side of the jape,
esteeming no less highly a sound poke at British foibles.

All this is your personal gift: it is no necessary part of the
master's equipment to be so gracefully conversable. Of the graver
side of the sea captain's life, though you say little, we see it
unconsciously written in your bearing. Some of us, who know just a
little about it, can guess something of its burdens, its vigils, and
its courages. There is something significant in the obscure instinct
that some of your friends have to seize what opportunity they can of
seeing you in your own quarters when you are in port. For though a
ship in dock is a ship fettered and broken of much of her life and
meaning, yet in the captain's cabin the landsman feels something of
that fine, faithful, and rigorous way of life. It is a hard life, he
knows; a life of stringent seriousness, of heavy responsibilities:
and yet it is a life for which we are fool enough to speak the
fool's word of envy. It is a life spared the million frittering
interruptions and cheerful distractions that devil the journalist;
it is a life cut down to the essentials of discipline, simplicity,
and service; a life where you must, at necessity, be not merely
navigator but magistrate, employer, and priest. Birth, death, and
all the troubles that lie between, fall under your sway, and must
find you unperturbed. But, when you go out of that snug cabin for
your turn of duty, at any rate you have the dark happiness of
knowing that you go to a struggle worthy your powers, the struggle
with that old, immortal, unconquerable, and yet daily conquered
enemy, the Sea.

And so you go and come, you go and come, and we learn to count on
your regular appearance every four weeks as we would on any stated
gesture of the zodiac. You come eager to pick up the threads of what
has been happening in this our town, what books people are talking
about, what is the latest jape, and what (your tastes being so
catholic!) "Percy and Ferdie" are up to. And you, in turn, bring
news of what they are saying in Sauchiehall Street or Fleet Street,
and what books are making a stir on the other side. You take copies
of American books that catch your fancy and pass them on to British
reviewers, always at your quixotic task of trying to make each side
appreciate the other's humours. For, though we promised not to give
you away too personally, you are not only the sea captain but the
man of letters, too, eminent in that field in your own right.

There must be some valid reason why so many good writers, and
several who have some claim on the word "great," have been bred of
the sea. Great writing comes from great stress of mind--which even a
journalist may suffer--but it also requires strictness of seclusion
and isolation. Surely, on the small and decently regimented island
of a ship a man's mind must turn inward. Surrounded by all that
barren beauty of sky and sea, so lovely, and yet so meaningless to
the mind, the doomed business of humanity must seem all the more
precious and deserving of tenderness. Perhaps that is what old
George Herbert meant when he said, _He that will learn to pray, let
him go to sea_.

THE END


       *       *       *       *       *

_This and the following are advertisements of Mr. Morley's books._


A modern humorist with the tang of an Elizabethan

CHRISTOPHER MORLEY

Once upon a time Christopher Morley was coerced, against the
objections of a well-nigh blushing modesty, to dictate some notes
which we may go so far as to call autobiographical. In part they
were:

"Born at Haverford, Pa., in 1890; father, professor of mathematics
and a poet; mother a musician, poet, and fine cook. I was
handicapped by intellectual society and good nourishment. I am and
always have been too well fed. Great literature proceeds from an
empty stomach. My proudest achievement is having been asked by a
college president to give a course of lectures on Chaucer.

"When I was graduated from Haverford in 1910, a benevolent posse of
college presidents in Maryland sent me to New College, Oxford, as a
Rhodes scholar. At Oxford I learned to drink shandygaff. When I came
home from England in 1913 I started to work for Doubleday, Page &
Company at Garden City. I learned to read Conrad, and started my
favorite hobby, which is getting letters from William McFee. By the
way, my favorite amusement is hanging around Leary's second-hand
book store in Philadelphia. My dearest dream is to own some kind of
a boat, write one good novel and about thirty plays which would each
run a year on Broadway. I have written book reviews, editorials,
dramatic notices, worked as a reporter, a librarian, in a bookstore,
and have given lectures." Mr. Morley should have added that he is
now conductor of "The Bowling Green" on the editorial page of the
New York _Evening Post_.


PLUM PUDDING

By CHRISTOPHER MORLEY

"_And merrily embellished by Walter Jack Duncan_"

Thus Mr. Morley entitles his new volume, in which he has occupied
himself with books in particular, but also with divers other
ingredients such as city and suburban incidents, women, dogs,
children, tadpoles, and so on.

_Plum Pudding, $1.75_



THE HAUNTED BOOKSHOP

We have just found an advertisement for "The Haunted Bookshop" which
was never released, though it was written before the book was
published. Can you guess the writer of it? We're not at liberty to
tell, for he would never forgive our mentioning his name.

                    "THIS SHOP IS HAUNTED!"

     Such was the sign that met the eyes of those who entered
     _Parnassus at Home_, a very unusual bookshop on Gissing Street,
     Brooklyn. Roger Mifflin, the eccentric booklover who owned the
     shop, only meant that his shop was haunted by the great spirits
     of literature, but there were more substantial ghosts about, as
     the story tells. Read the curious adventures that befell after
     Titania Chapman came to learn the book business in the mellow
     atmosphere of the second-hand bookshop of this novel. There was
     mystery connected with the elusive copy of Carlyle's _Oliver
     Cromwell_, which kept on disappearing from Roger's shelves.
     Some readers may remember that Roger Mifflin was the hero of
     Mr. Morley's first novel, _Parnassus on Wheels_, though this is
     in no sense a sequel, but an independent story.

_The Haunted Bookshop, $1.75_



SHANDYGAFF

This is the book at the beginning of which its author has placed
this bit of explanation:

     _SHANDYGAFF_: a very refreshing drink, being a mixture of
     bitter ale or beer and ginger-beer, commonly drunk by the lower
     classes of England, and by strolling tinkers, low church
     parsons, newspaper men, journalists, and prizefighters....
                              JOHN MISTLETOE:
                     _Dictionary of Deplorable Facts_

Published in the war period, "Shandygaff" brought this humorous
letter from J. Edgar Park, of Massachusetts, Presbyterian pastor and
author of "The Disadvantages of Being Good":

"This book of Morley's is absolutely useless--mere rot. It has
already cost me not only its price but also two candles for an
all-night séance and an entire degeneration of my most sad and sober
resolutions. Money I needed for shoes, solemnity I needed for my
reputation--all have gone to the winds in this nightmare of love,
laughter, boyishness, and tobacco-smoke!"

_Shandygaff, $1.75_



PIPEFULS

"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."
                                                 _The Author_

"Envelops in clouds of fragrant English many quaint ideas about
life, living, and literature ... A belated Elizabethan who has
strayed into the twentieth century! These piping little essays are
mellow and leisurely!"--_The Sun_, New York

_Pipefuls, $1.75_



KATHLEEN--_a story_

"Kathleen" is about an Oxford undergraduate prank. Members of a
literary club, _The Scorpions_, agree to write a serial story on
shares. They invent a tale around certain names in an accidentally
found letter signed "Kathleen." Their romantic fervor soon takes
them off together in search of the real author of the letter. One
suspects that Mr. Morley, as a Rhodes scholar at Oxford, might have
been up to just such pranks. Anyway, consider this dedication: "TO
THE REAL KATHLEEN--_With Apologies_." His comedy is as interesting
as his essays, its humor pointed by the rapid flow of action.

_Kathleen, $1.25_





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