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Title: The Crow's Nest
Author: Day, Clarence, 1874-1935
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.

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   located at the end of this text.



The
Crow's
Nest



  +-----------------------------------------------+
  |                                               |
  |             This Simian World                 |
  |                                               |
  |            By Clarence Day, Jr.               |
  |                                               |
  |  "One of the best pieces of satire from       |
  |  the pen of an American. As a recruiting      |
  |  pamphlet for the human race. 'This Simian    |
  |  World' cannot be surpassed."                 |
  |                                               |
  |                     --_New York Tribune._     |
  |                                               |
  |  "The most amusing little essay of the year.  |
  |  We like best his picture of the cat          |
  |  civilization. It is even finer than Swift's  |
  |  immortal description of a country governed   |
  |  by the super-horse."                         |
  |                                               |
  |                       --_The Independent._    |
  |                                               |
  |        _$1.50 net at all bookshops_           |
  |                                               |
  |         New York: Alfred A. Knopf             |
  |                                               |
  +-----------------------------------------------+



The Crow's Nest

_by_ Clarence Day, Jr.

With Illustrations by the Author

[Illustration]

[Illustration]

New York Alfred · A · Knopf Mcmxxi


COPYRIGHT, 1921, BY
CLARENCE DAY, JR.

PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


 _With Acknowledgments to the Editors of the Metropolitan Magazine,
Harpers Magazine, Harpers Weekly, The New Republic, and The Boston
Transcript._



[Illustration]


                         Contents

                                              PAGE

        The Three Tigers                         3
        As They Go Riding By                     7
        A Man Gets Up in the Morning            15
        Odd Countries                           18
        On Cows                                 26
        Stroom and Graith                       28
        Legs vs. Architects                     44
        To Phoebe                               49
        Sex, Religion and Business              51
        An Ode to Trade                         63
        Objections to Reading                   65


        ON AUTHORS

        The Enjoyment of Gloom                  77
        Buffoon Fate                            84
        The Wrong Lampman                       89
        The Seamy Side of Fabre                 93
        In His Baby Blue Ship                  101


        PROBLEMS

        The Man Who Knew Gods                  109
        Improving the Lives of the Rich        118
        From Noah to Now                       128
        Sic Semper Dissenters                  135
        Humpty Dumpty and Adam                 137
        How It Looks to a Fish                 142
        A Hopeful Old Bigamist                 147
        The Revolt of Capital                  154
        Still Reading Away                     161


        PORTRAITS

        A Wild Polish Hero                     165
        Mrs. P.'s Side of It                   173
        The Death of Logan                     183
        Portrait of a Lady                     190
        Grandfather's Three Lives              198
        Story of a Farmer                      217



The
Crow's
Nest



The Three Tigers


As to Tiger Number One, what he likes best is prowling and hunting. He
snuffs at all the interesting and exciting smells there are on the
breeze; that dark breeze that tells him the secrets the jungle has hid:
every nerve in his body is alert, every hair in his whiskers; his eyes
gleam; he's ready for anything. He and Life are at grips.

[Illustration]

Number Two is a higher-browed tiger, in a nice cozy cave. He has
spectacles; he sits in a rocking-chair reading a book. And the book
describes all the exciting smells there are on the breeze, and tells him
what happens in the jungle, where nerves are alert; where adventure,
death, hunting and passion are found every night. He spends his life
reading about them, in a nice cozy cave.

It's a curious practice. You'd think if he were interested in jungle
life he'd go out and live it. There it is, waiting for him, and that's
what he really is here for. But he makes a cave and shuts himself off
from it--and then reads about it!

       *       *       *       *       *

Once upon a time some victims of the book-habit got into heaven; and
what do you think, they behaved there exactly as here. That was to be
expected, however: habits get so ingrained. They never took the trouble
to explore their new celestial surroundings; they sat in the harp
store-room all eternity, and read about heaven.

They said they could really learn more about heaven, that way.

And in fact, so they could. They could get more information, and faster.
But information's pretty thin stuff, unless mixed with experience.

       *       *       *       *       *

But that's not the worst. It is Tiger Number Three who's the worst. He
not only reads all the time, but he wants what he reads sweetened up. He
objects to any sad or uncomfortable account of outdoors; he says it's
sad enough in his cave; he wants something uplifting So authors
obediently prepare uplifting accounts of the jungle, or they try to make
the jungle look pretty, or funny, or something; and Number Three reads
every such tale with great satisfaction. And since he's indoors all the
time and never sees the real jungle, he soon gets to think that these
nice books he reads may be true; and if new books describe the jungle
the way it is, he says they're unhealthy. "There are aspects of life in
the jungle," he says, getting hot, "that no decent tiger should ever be
aware of, or notice."

[Illustration: Book-lovers in Heaven]

Tiger Number Two speaks with contempt of these feelings of Three's.
Tigers should have more courage. They should bravely read about the real
jungle.

       *       *       *       *       *

The realist and the romantic tiger are agreed upon one point, however.
They both look down on tigers that don't read but merely go out and
live.



As They Go Riding By


What kind of men do we think the mediæval knights really were? I have
always seen them in a romantic light, finer than human. Tennyson gave me
that apple, and I confess I did eat, and I have lived on the wrong diet
ever since. Malory was almost as misleading. My net impression was that
there were a few wicked, villainous knights, who committed crimes such
as not trusting other knights or saying mean things, but that even they
were subject to shame when found out and rebuked, and that all the rest
were a fine, earnest Y. M. C. A. crowd, with the noblest ideals.

But only the poets hold this view of knights, not the scholars. Here,
for example, is a cold-hearted scholar, Monsieur Albert Guerard. He has
been digging into the old mediæval records with an unromantic eye, hang
him; and he has emerged with his hands full of facts which prove the
knights were quite different. They did have some good qualities. When
invaders came around the knights fought them off as nobly as possible;
and they often went away and fought Saracens or ogres or such, and when
thus engaged they gave little trouble to the good folk at home. But in
between wars, not being educated, they couldn't sit still and be quiet.
It was dull in the house. They liked action. So they rode around the
streets in a pugnacious, wild-western manner, despising anyone who could
read and often knocking him down; and making free with the personal
property of merchants and peasants, who they thought had no special
right to property or even to life. Knights who felt rough behaved as
such, and the injuries they inflicted were often fatal.

They must have been terrors. Think of being a merchant or cleric without
any armor, and meeting a gang of ironclads, with the nearest police
court centuries off! Why, they might do anything, and whatever they did
to a merchant, they thought was a joke. Whenever they weren't beating
you up they fought with one another like demons--I don't mean just in
tournaments, which were for practice, but in small, private wars. And to
every war, public or private, citizens had to contribute; and instead of
being thanked for it, they were treated with the utmost contempt.

Suppose a handsome young citizen, seeing this and feeling ambitious,
tried to join the gang and become a knight himself. Would they let him?
No! At first, if he were a powerful fighter, he did have a small chance,
but as time went on and the knights got to feeling more noble than
ever, being not only knights but the sons of knights, they wouldn't let
in a new man. The mere idea made them so indignant they wanted to lynch
him. "Their loathing for the people seemed almost akin in its intensity
to color prejudice."

[Illustration]

They were also extravagant and improvident and never made money, so the
more they spent the more they had to demand from the people. When every
one had been squeezed dry for miles around, and had been thumped to make
sure, the knights cursed horribly and borrowed from the Church, whether
the Church would or no, or got hold of some money-lender and pulled his
beard and never paid interest.

The Church tried to make them religious and partly succeeded; there were
some Christian knights who were soldierly and courtly, of course. But,
allowing for this (and for my exaggerating their bad side, for the
moment), they certainly were not the kind of men Tennyson led me to
think.

I do not blame Tennyson. He had a perfect right to romanticize. He may
have known what toughs the knights were as well as anybody, but loved
their noble side, too, and dreamed about it until he had made it for the
moment seem real to him, and then hurried up and written his idyls
before the dream cracked. He may never have intended me or any of us to
swallow it whole. "It's not a dashed bible; it's a book of verse," I can
imagine him saying, "so don't be an idiot; don't forget to read your
encyclopedia, too."

But verse is mightier than any encyclopedia. At least it prevails.
That's because the human race is emotional and goes by its feelings. Why
haven't encyclopedists considered this? They are the men I should blame.
What is the use of embodying the truth about everything in a precise
condensed style which, even if we read it, we can't remember, since it
does not stir our feelings? The encyclopedists should write their books
over again, in passionate verse. What we need in an encyclopedia is
lyrical fervor, not mere completeness--Idyls of Economic Jurisprudence,
Songs of the Nitrates. Our present compendiums are meant for scholars
rather than people.

Well, the knights are gone and only their armor and weapons remain; and
our rich merchants who no longer are under-dogs, collect these as
curios. They present them with a magnificent gesture to local museums.
The metal suit which old Sir Percy Mortimer wore, when riding down
merchants, is now in the Briggsville Academy, which never heard of Sir
Percy, and his armor is a memorial to Samuel Briggs of the Briggs
Tailoring Company. In Europe a few ancient families, in financial decay,
are guarding their ancestors' clothing as well as they can, but sooner
or later they will be driven to sell it, to live. And they won't live
much longer at that. The race will soon be extinct.

[Illustration]

Last year I got a bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art about
armor. It described how an American collector saw a fine set in Paris.
"A single view was quite enough to enable him to decide that the armor
was too important to remain in private hands." And that settled it.
These collectors are determined fellows and must have their own
way--like the knights.

But there were difficulties this time. They couldn't at first get this
set. The knightly owner of the armor, "in whose family it was an
heirloom, was, from our point of view, singularly unreasonable: he ...
was unwilling to part with it; the psychological crisis when he would
allow it to pass out of his hands must, therefore, be awaited." For
there comes "a propitious moment in cases of this kind," adds the
bulletin.

Yes, "in cases of this kind" collectors comfortably wait for that crisis
when the silent old knightly owner finally has to give in. They leave
agents to watch him while he struggles between want and pride, agents
who will snap him up if a day comes when the old man is weak. These
agents must be persistent and shrewd, and must present tactful
arguments, and must shoo away other agents, if possible, so as to keep
down the price. When the "propitious" time comes they must act quickly,
lest the knight's weakness pass, or lest some other knight send him help
and thus make them wait longer. And, having got the armor, they hurry
it off, give a dinner, and other merchants come to view it and measure
it and count up the pieces.

This sort of thing has been happening over and over in Europe--the
closing scenes of the order of knighthood, not foreseen at gay
tournaments! They were lucky in those days not to be able to look into
the future. Are _we_ lucky to be blind, at Mount Vernon or on some old
campus? The new times to come may be better--that always is
possible--but they won't be the kind we are building, and they may scrap
our shrines.

Some day when our modern types of capitalists are extinct, in their
turn, will future poets sing of their fine deeds and make young readers
dream? Our capitalists are not popular in these days, but the knights
weren't in theirs, and whenever abuse grows extreme a reaction will
follow. Our critics and reformers think _they_ will be the heroes of
song, but do we sing of critics who lived in the ages of chivalry? There
must have been reformers then who pleaded the cause of down-trodden
citizens, and denounced and exposed cruel knights, but we don't know
their names. It is the knights we remember and idealize, even old
Front-de-Boeuf. They were doers--and the men of the future will
idealize ours. Our predatory interests will seem to them gallant and
strong. When a new Tennyson appears, he will never look up the things
in our newspapers; he won't even read the encyclopedia--Tennysons don't.
He will get his conception of capitalists out of his heart. Mighty men
who built towers to work in, and fought with one another, and engaged in
great capitalist wars, and stood high above labor. King Carnegie and his
round directors' table of barons of steel. Armour, Hill and Stillman,
Jay Gould--musical names, fit for poems.

The men of the future will read, and disparage their era, and wish they
had lived in the wild clashing times we have now. They will try to
enliven the commonplaceness of their tame daily lives by getting up
memorial pageants where they can dress up as capitalists--some with high
hats and umbrellas (borrowed from the museums), some as golfers or polo
players, carrying the queer ancient implements. Beautiful girls will
happily unbuckle their communist suits and dress up in old silken
low-necks, hired from a costumer. Little boys will look on with awe as
the procession goes by, and then hurry off to the back yard and play
they are great financiers. And if some essay, like this, says the
capitalists were not all noble, but a mixed human lot like the knights,
many with selfish, harsh ways, the reader will turn from it restlessly.
We need these illusions.

Ah, well, if we must romanticize something, it had best be the past.



A Man Gets Up in the Morning


A man gets up in the morning and looks out at the weather, and dresses,
and goes to his work, and says hello to his friends, and plays a little
pool in the evening and gets into bed. But only a part of him has been
active in doing all that. He has a something else in him--a wondering
instinct--a "soul." Assuming he isn't religious, what does he do with
_that_ part of him?

He usually keeps that part of him asleep if he can. He doesn't like to
let it wake up and look around at the world, because it asks awful
questions--about death, or truth--and that makes him uncomfortable. He
wants to be cheery and he hates to have his soul interfere. The soul is
too serious and the best thing to do is to deaden it.

Humor is an opiate for the soul, says Francis Hackett. Laugh it off:
that's one way of not facing a trouble. Sentimentality, too, drugs the
soul; so does business. That's why humor and sentimentality and business
are popular.

In Russia, it's different. Their souls are more awake, and less covered.
The Russians are not businesslike, and they're not sentimental, or
humorous. They are spiritually naked by contrast. An odd, moody people.
We look on, well wrapped-up, and wonder why they shiver at life.

"My first interest," the Russian explains, "is to know where I stand: I
must look at the past, and the seas of space about me, and the intricate
human drama on this little planet. Before I can attend to affairs, or be
funny, or tender, I must know whether the world's any good. Life may all
be a fraud."

The Englishman and American answer that this is not practical. They
don't believe in anyone's sitting down to stare at the Sphinx. "That
won't get you anywhere," they tell him. "You must be up and doing. Find
something that interests you, then do it, and--"

"Well, and what?" says the Russian.

"Why--er--and you'll find out as much of the Riddle in that way as any."

"And how much is that?"

[Illustration]

"Why, not so very damn much perhaps," we answer. "But at least you'll
keep sane."

[Illustration: But why stay sane?]

"Why keep sane?" says the Russian. "If there is any point to so doing I
should naturally wish to. But if one can't find a meaning to anything,
what is the difference?"

And the American and Englishman continue to recommend business.



Odd Countries


When I go away for a vacation, which I don't any more, I am or was
appalled at the ridiculous inconveniences of it. I have sometimes gone
to the Great Mother, Nature; sometimes to hotels. Well, the Great Mother
is kind, it is said, to the birds and the beasts, the small furry
creatures, and even, of old, to the Indian. But I am no Indian; I am not
even a small furry creature. I dislike the Great Mother. She's damp: and
far too full of insects.

And as for hotels, the man in the next room always snores. And by the
time you get used to this, and get in with some gang, your vacation is
over and you have to turn around and go home.

[Illustration: The farmer who hates you on sight]

I can get more for my money by far from a book. For example, the
Oppenheim novels: there are fifty-three of them, and to read them is
almost like going on fifty-three tours. A man and his whole family
could take six for the price of one pair of boots. Instead of trying to
find some miserable mosquitoey hotel at the sea-shore, or an old
farmer's farmhouse where the old farmer will hate you on sight, and
instead of packing a trunk and running errands and catching a train I go
to a book-shop and buy any Oppenheim novel. When I go on a tour with
him, I start off so quickly and easily. I sit in my armchair, I turn to
the first page, and it's like having a taxi at the door--"Here's your
car, sir, all ready!" The minute I read that first page I am off like a
shot, into a world where things never stop happening. Magnificent
things! It's about as swift a change as you could ask from jog-trot
daily life.

[Illustration: Is she an adventuress?]

On page two, I suddenly discover that beautiful women surround me. Are
they adventuresses? I cannot tell. I must beware every minute. Everybody
is wary and suave, and they are all princes and diplomats. The
atmosphere is heavy with the clashing of powerful wills. Paid murderers
and spies are about. Hah! am I being watched? The excitement soon gets
to a point where it goes to my head. I find myself muttering thickly or
biting my lips--two things I never do ordinarily and should not think of
doing. I may even give a hoarse cry of rage as I sit in my armchair. But
I'm not in my armchair. I am on a terrace, alone, in the moonlight. A
beautiful woman (a reliable one) comes swiftly toward me. Either she is
enormously rich or else I am, but we don't think of that. We embrace
each other. Hark! There is the duke, busily muttering thickly. How am I
to reply to him? I decide to give him a hoarse cry of rage. He bites his
lips at me. Some one else shoots us both. All is over.

[Illustration: I wonder if I'm being watched?]

       *       *       *       *       *

If any one is too restless to take his vacation in books, the quaintest
and queerest of countries is just around the corner. An immigrant is
only allowed to stay from 8.15 to 11 P. M., but an hour in this country
does more for you than a week in the mountains. No canned fish and
vegetables, no babies--

[Illustration: Babies seem so dissatisfied]

I wonder, by the way, why most babies find existence so miserable?
Convicts working on roadways, stout ladies in tight shoes and corsets,
teachers of the French language--none of these suffering souls wail in
public; _they_ don't go around with puckered-up faces, distorted and
screaming, and beating the air with clenched fists. Then why babies? You
may say it's the nurse; but look at the patients in hospitals. They put
up not only with illness, but nurses besides. No, babies are
unreasonable; they expect far too much of existence. Each new generation
that comes takes one look at the world, thinks wildly, "Is _this_ all
they've done to it?" and bursts into tears. "You might have got the
place ready for us," they would say, only they can't speak the language.
"What _have_ you been doing all these thousands of years on this planet?
It's messy, it's badly policed, badly laid out and built--"

Yes, Baby. It's dreadful. I don't know why we haven't done better. I
said just now that you were unreasonable, but I take it all back.
Statesmen complain if their servants fail to keep rooms and kitchens in
order, but are statesmen themselves any good at getting the world tidied
up? No, we none of us are. We all find it a wearisome business.

Let us go to that country I spoke of, the one round the corner. We
stroll through its entrance, and we're in Theatrical-Land.

A remarkable country. May God bless the man who invented it. I always am
struck by its ways, it's so odd and delightful--

"But," some one objects (it is possible), "it isn't real."

Ah, my dear sir, what world, then, _is_ real, as a matter of fact? You
won't deny that it's not only children who live in a world of their own,
but débutantes, college boys, business men--certainly business men, so
absorbed in their game that they lose sight of other realities. In fact,
there is no one who doesn't lose sight of some, is there? Well, that's
all that the average play does. It drops just a few out. To be sure,
when it does that, it shows us an incomplete world, and hence not the
real one; but that is characteristic of humans. We spend our lives
moving from one incomplete world to another, from our homes to our clubs
or our offices, laughing or grumbling, talking rapidly, reading the
paper, and not doing much thinking outside of our grooves. Daily life is
more comfortable, somehow, if you narrow your vision. When you try to
take in all the realities, all the far-away high ones, you must first
become quite still and lonely. And then in your loneliness a fire begins
to creep through your veins. It's--well--I don't know much about it.
Shall we return to the theater?

The oddest of all entertainments is a musical comedy. I remember that
during the war we had one about Belgium. When the curtain went up,
soldiers were talking by the light of a lantern, and clapping each other
on the shoulder when their feelings grew deep. They exchanged many
well-worded thoughts on their deep feelings, too, and they spoke these
thoughts briskly and readily, for it was the eve of a battle. One of the
soldiers blinked his eye now and then. He was taking it hard. He said
briskly he probably would never see his mother again.

His comrade, being affected by this, clapped his friend on the
shoulder, and said, Oh yes he would, and cheer up.

The other looked at him, stepped forward (with his chest well expanded),
and said ringingly: "I was not thinking of myself, Jean. I was thinking
of Bel-jum."

It was a trifle confusing, but we applauded him roundly for this. The
light from the balcony shown full on the young hero's face. You could
see he was ready for the enemy--his dark-rouged cheeks, his penciled
eyebrows proved it. He offered to sing us a song, on the subject of
home. His comrade hurried forward and clapped him some more on the
shoulder.

[Illustration: Songs of home]

The orchestra started.

"_Muth-aw_,

"_Muth-aw_," roared the hero, standing stiffly at attention,

"_Let your arms en-fo-o-ho-old me._"

All was silent on the firing-line--except of course, for this singing.
The enemy waited politely. The orchestra played on. Then the song ended,
and promptly the banging of guns was heard in the distance--and a rather
mild bang hit the shed and the lantern went out.

The audience was left there to shudder alone, in the darkness, not
knowing whether the hero was dead--though, of course, we had hopes....
Then up went the curtain, and there he stood by a château, where a plump
Belgian maid, dressed in white silk, was pouring high tea.

[Illustration: In Belgium?]

An American war-correspondent appeared on the scene. He was the humorous
character of the performance. He was always in trouble over his
passports. He had with him a Red Cross nurse who capered about, singing
songs, as did also eight Belgian girls, from the neighboring farms.
Belgian girls are all young and tuneful, the audience learned, and they
spend their time during wars dancing with war-correspondents. They wear
fresh, pretty clothes. So do soldiers who come home on leave. Sky-blue
uniforms, gilt, shiny boots. All was smiling in Bel-jum.

Then the clock struck eleven. The curtain went down, like a wall. We
were turned out, like poor Cinderella, into the cold, noisy streets.
Dense pushing crowds. Newsboys shouting, "Great Slaughter in Flanders."
The wails of some baby attempting to get used to existence.



On Cows


I was thinking the other evening of cows. You say Why? I can't tell you.
But it came to me, all of a sudden, that cows lead hard lives. It takes
such a lot of grass, apparently, to keep a cow going that she has to
spend all her time eating, day in and day out. Dogs bounce around and
bark, horses caper, birds fly, also sing, while the cow looks on,
enviously, maybe, unable to join them. Cows may long for conversation or
prancing, for all that we know, but they can't spare the time. The
problem of nourishment takes every hour: a pause might be fatal. So they
go through life drearily eating, resentful and dumb. Their food is most
uninteresting, and is frequently covered with bugs; and their thoughts,
if they dwell on their hopeless careers, must be bitter.

[Illustration: If cows had time--]

In the old days, when huge and strange animals roamed through the world,
there was an era when great size was necessary, as a protection. All
creatures that could do so grew large. It was only thus they felt safe.
But as soon as they became large, the grass-eating creatures began to
have trouble, because of the fact that grass has a low nutritive value.
You take a dinosaur, for instance, who was sixty or seventy feet long.
Imagine what a hard task it must have been for him, every day, to get
enough grass down his throat to supply his vast body. Do you wonder
that, as scientists tell us, they died of exhaustion? Some starved to
death even while feverishly chewing their cud--the remoter parts of
their bodies fainting from famine while their fore-parts got fed.

This exasperating fate is what darkens the mind of the cow.



Stroom and Graith


[Illustration: When Graith was young]

    When Graith was young, and Stroom returned
      From conquering the Northern Stars;
    And showed to her the road he'd burned
      Across the sky, to make his wars;
    And smiled at Fear, and hid his scars--
      He little dreamed his fate could hold
    The doom of dwarfish avatars
      That Vega sent, when Stroom was old.

When you are talking things over with any one, you have to take some
precautions. If you have just come from a cathedral, and try to discuss
its stained glass, with the janitor of your apartment house, say,--why,
it won't be much use, because stained glass means to him bathroom
windows, and that's all his mind will run on. I am in exactly that
position at this moment. I don't mean bathroom windows, I mean what is
the use of my saying a word about Stroom and Graith, to any one who may
think they are a firm of provision dealers in Yonkers. Any woman who
began this essay thinking that Graith was a new perfume,--any man who
said to himself "Stroom? Oh, yes: that Bulgarian ferment,"--are readers
who would really do better to go and read something else.

Having settled that, I must now admit that until yesterday I knew
nothing about them myself. Yet, centuries ago, Stroom and Graith were on
every one's tongues. Then, I don't know what happened, but a strange
silence about them began. One by one, those who had spoken of them
freely in some way were hushed. The chronicles of the times became
silent, and named them no more.

We think when we open our histories, we open the past. We open only such
a small part of it! Great tracts disappear. Forgetfulness or secret
taboos draw the dim curtains down, and hide from our sight awful
thoughts, monstrous deeds, monstrous dooms....

Even now, in the bright lights and courage of the era we live in, there
has been only one writer who has ventured to name Stroom and Graith.

His name was Dixon; he was at Oxford, in the fifties, with that
undergraduate group which included Burne-Jones, William Morris, and on
the outside, Rossetti. Where he found what so long had been hidden, even
he does not say. But he wrote certain poems, in which Stroom and Graith,
and the Agraffe appear.

This fact is recorded in only one book that I know of, and that is in
the fifth volume of Mr. T. Humphry Ward's English Poets. When I opened
this book, I read for the first time about Dixon. I also read one of his
poems, which was wildish and weird:

                      "Go now from the shore,
    Far ruined: the grey shingly floor
    To thy crashing step answers, the doteril cries,
    And on dipping wing flies:
    'Tis their silence!"

Not knowing what a doteril was, I looked to see if the editor had
explained: but no, all he said was that Dixon was fond of such words.

He added that others such as Stroom, Graith, and Agraffe appeared in his
poems.

But he didn't print those poems in this collection, or explain those
strange names.

The sound of them fascinated me. I sat there and dreamed for a while;
and it was out of these dreamings that I wrote that verse at the head
of this essay. Some stern and vast mystery seemed to me about to enfold.
What part the Agraffe played in it (a mediæval beast I imagined) I could
not know, could not guess. But I pictured a strong-hearted Stroom to
myself as some hero, waging far, lonely fights, against foes on the edge
of the skies; and I dreamed of how Vega stood waiting, until Stroom
married Graith, and of how at the height of his majesty she inflicted
her doom--a succession of abhorrent rebirths as a grotesque little
dwarf.

[Illustration: Where the doteril cries]

Still, these were only my imaginings, and I wanted the records. I sent
to the public library, and got out all of Dixon they had. Great red and
gold volumes. But the one that I wanted--not there.... I sent to several
famous universities.... It was not to be found.

I turned my search over to an obliging old friend, a librarian, and sat
down feeling thwarted, to console myself with some other poet. There
were many in Volume V of the English Poets, but not a one of them calmed
me. I read restlessly every day, waiting to hear about Stroom. Then at
last, one rainy evening, a telegram came! It was from that old friend.
"Have found all those words Dixon used, in a dialect dictionary. It
gives: 'Stroom: rightly strom: a malt strainer, a wicker-work basket or
bottle, placed under the bunghole of a mash-tub to strain off the hops.'
Mr. Dixon used it because he loved its sound, I suppose. As to Graith,
it means 'furniture, equipment, apparatus for traveling.' And agraffes
are the ornamented hooks used to fasten Knights' armor. They are
mentioned in Ivanhoe."

Well, poets are always disappointing me.

I don't know why I read them.

       *       *       *       *       *

However, having bought Volume V to read, I tried to keep on with it.

I read what it said about Browning's father being a banker. Poor old
man, I felt sorry for him. Imagine the long years when he and his son
faced each other, the old father telling himself hopefully, "Ah, well,
he's a child, he'll get over these queer poetical ways,"--and then his
_not_ getting over them, but proposing to give his life to poetry! Make
a career of it!

[Illustration: MURDER!--All's right with the world.--Pippa passes.]

If there are any kind of men who want sons like themselves, it's our
bankers: they have their banks to hand on, and they long to have nice
banker babies. But it seems they are constantly begetting impossible
infants. Cardinal Newman for instance: his bewildered father too was a
banker. Fate takes a special pleasure in tripping these worthy men up.

Imagine Browning senior reading "Pippa Passes," with pursed lips, at his
desk. What mental pictures of his son's heroine did the old gentleman
form, as he followed her on her now famous walk through that
disreputable neighborhood?

I hope he enjoyed more "How They Brought the Good News from Ghent." For
example, where the man says, while galloping fast down the road:

    "I turned in my saddle and made the girths tight,
    Then shortened each stirrup, and set the pique right,
    Rebuckled the check-strap, chained slacker the bit--"

[Illustration: He made the girths tight]

The banker must have been pleased that Robert could harness a horse in
rhyme anyhow. I dare say he knew as we all do that it was poor enough
poetry, but at least it was practical. It was something he could tell
his friends at the club.

       *       *       *       *       *

Putting Browning aside with poor Stroom, I next tried Matthew Arnold.

The Arnolds: a great family, afflicted with an unfortunate strain.
Unusually good qualities,--but they feel conscientious about them.

If Matthew Arnold had only been born into some other family! If he had
only been the son of C. S. Calverley or Charles II, for instance.

He had a fine mind, and he and it matured early. Both were Arnold
characteristics. But so was his conscientiously setting himself to
enrich his fine mind "by the persistent study of 'the best that is known
and thought in the world.'" This was deadening. Gentlemen who teach
themselves just how and what to appreciate, take half the vitality out
of their appreciation thereafter. They go out and collect all "the best"
and bring it carefully home, and faithfully pour it down their
throats--and get drunk on it? No! It loses its lift and intoxication,
taken like that.

An aspiring concern with good art is supposed to be meritorious. People
"ought" to go to museums and concerts, and they "ought" to read poetry.
It is a mark of superiority to have a full supply of the most correct
judgments.

This doctrine is supposed to be beyond discussion, Leo Stein says. "I
do not think it is beyond discussion," he adds. "It is more nearly
beneath it.... To teach or formally to encourage the appreciation of art
does more harm than good.... It tries to make people see things that
they do not feel.... People are stuffed with appreciation in our art
galleries, instead of looking at pictures for the fun of it."

Those who take in art for the fun of it, and don't fake their
sensations, acquire an appetite that it is a great treat to satisfy. And
by and by, art becomes as necessary to them as breathing fresh air.

To the rest of us, art is only a luxury: a dessert, not a food.

       *       *       *       *       *

Some poets have to struggle with a harsh world for leave to be poets,
like unlucky peaches trying to ripen north of Latitude 50. Coventry
Patmore by contrast was bred in a hot-house. He was the son of a man
named Peter G. Patmore, who, unlike most fathers, was willing to have a
poet in the family. In fact he was eager. He was also, unfortunately,
helpful, and did all he could to develop in his son "an ardor for
poetry." But ardor is born, not cooked. A watched pot never boils. Nor
did Patmore. He had many of the other good qualities that all poets
need, but the quality Peter G. planned to develop in the boy never
grew. Young Patmore studied the best Parnassian systems, he obeyed the
best rules, he practiced the right spiritual calisthenics, took his
dumb-bells out daily: but he merely proved that poetry is not the
automatic result of going through even the properest motions correctly.

Still he kept on, year by year, and the results were impressive. Many
respected them highly. Including their author.

He grew old in this remarkable harness. Perhaps he also grew tired. At
any rate, at sixty-three he "solemnly recorded" the fact that he had
finally finished "his task as a poet." He lived for about ten years
more, but the remainder was silence. "He had been a practicing poet for
forty-seven years," Edmund Gosse says. Odd way for Gosse to talk: as
though he were describing a dentist.

One of this worthy Mr. Patmore's most worthy ideas was that the actual
writing of verse was but a part of his job. Not even professional poets,
he felt, should make it their chief occupation. No; one ought to spend
months, maybe years, meditating on everything, in order to supply his
soul with plenty of suitable thoughts--like a tailor importing fine
woolens to accumulate stock. And even with the shelves full, one ought
not to work till just the right hour.

His theories called for a conscientious inspection of each inspiration.
They also obliged this good gentleman to exercise self-control. Many a
time when he wanted to work he held back. Although "the intention to
write was never out of his mind" (Mr. Gosse says), Mr. Patmore had "the
power of will to refuse himself the satisfaction of writing, except on
those rare occasions when he felt capable of doing his best."

There once was a man I knew, who wooed his fiancée on those terms. He
used to sit thinking away in his library, evenings, debating whether he
had better go see her, and whether he was at his best. And after
fiddling about in a worried way between yes and no, he would sometimes
go around only to find that she would not see _him_. I think that she
loved the man, too, or was ready to love him. "His honesty has a
horrible fascination for me," I remember her saying, "but when he has an
impulse to kiss me--and I see him stop--and look as though he were
taking his temperature with a thermometer first, trying to see if his
blood is up--I want to hit him and scream!"

Mr. Patmore, however, was very firm about this being necessary. He had
many a severe inner struggle because of his creed. He would repulse the
most enticing inspiration, if his thermometer wasn't at just the right
figure. Neither he nor his inspirations were robust, but they were
evenly matched, and they must have wrestled obstinately and often in the
course of his life, and pushed each other about and exchanged slaps and
tense bloodless pinches. But whenever Mr. Patmore felt it his duty to
wrestle, he won.

[Illustration: He took his temperature first]

Consequently, looking backward he felt able to say when he was old: "I
have written little, but it is all my best; I have never spoken when I
had nothing to say, nor spared time nor labor to make my words true. I
have respected posterity, and should there be a posterity which cares
for letters, I dare to hope that it will respect me."

That last phrase has a manly ring. Imagine him, alone late at night,
trying to sum up his life, and placing before us what bits he had
managed to do before dying. We may live through some evening of that
sort ourselves, by and by. We may turn to look back at the new faces of
the young men and women who will some day be inheriting our world as we
go out its gate. Will they laugh at us and think us pompous, as some of
us regard Mr. Patmore? He doesn't seem very hopeful, by the way, about
our caring for letters, but he does seem to think, if we do, that we
will not make fun of him.

I don't think he ought to mind that, though, if we are friendly about
it. We certainly respect him compared with many men of his time--the
shifty politicians, the vicious or weak leaders of thought, who went
through life as softies, without rigid standards of conduct. He shines
out by contrast, this incorruptible, solemn old Roman.

Only--he was so solemn! "From childhood to the grave" he thought he had
"a mission to perform," with his poems. And what was this mission that
he was so determined to fill? "He believed himself to be called upon to
celebrate Nuptial Love."

Again it is his solemnity one smiles at, but not his idea. Nuptial Love?
Very good. The possibilities of episodic love have been hotly explored,
its rights have been defended, its spiritual joys have been sung. But
Nuptial Love, our queer breed of humans, inconstant at heart, believes
to be a tame thing by contrast: nearly all anti-climax. There are
delights at the beginning, and a gentle glow (perhaps) at the end: for
the rest it is a long dusty journey of which the less said the better.
Exceptional couples who do somewhat better than this, and not only get
along without storms but live contentedly too, are apt to congratulate
themselves and call their lives a success. Contentedly! Pah! Content
with mere absence of friction! No conception, apparently, of the depths
beyond depths two should find, who devote themselves deeply to each
other for all of their lives. I don't say this often is possible: I
think people try: but one or the other comes up against a hard place and
stops. Only, sometimes it's not that which prevents going further; it's
a waywardness that will not stick to any one mine to get gold. A man
slips away and runs about, picking up stray outcroppings, but loses the
rich veins of metal, far down in the earth.

Why is it that so few of us contentedly stick to one mate, and say to
ourselves, "Here is my treasure; I will seek all in her."

Well, this is a subject on which I should enjoy speculating--but Nuptial
Love happens to be a field in which I have had no experience, and
furthermore it is not my theme anyhow, but my friend Mr. Patmore's,
whose spirit has been standing indignantly by, as I wrote, as though it
were ordering me away, with a No Trespassing look. I will therefore
withdraw, merely adding that he himself didn't do any too well with it.

However, no poet can avoid an occasional slump. For all Mr. Patmore's
efforts, he needs to be edited as much as the rest of them. Some of his
little chance sayings were taking and odd:

    "How strange a thing a lover seems
    To animals that do not love."

But he always fell back into being humdrum and jog-trot. Take this
stanza, from his poetical flight entitled Tamerton Church Tower:

    "I mounted, now, my patient nag,
      And scaled the easy steep;
    And soon beheld the quiet flag
      On Lanson's solemn Keep.
    But he was writing jokes for Punch;
      So I, who knew him well,
    Deciding not to stay for lunch,
      Returned to my hotel."

May I ask why such verses should be enshrined in a standard collection
of poetry? The last four lines are good, they have a touch of humor or
lightness, perhaps; but what can be said for the first four? And they,
only, are Patmore's. The last four I added myself, in an effort to help.

"A man may mix poetry with prose as much as he pleases, and it will only
elevate and enliven," as Landor observed; "but the moment he mixes a
particle of prose with his poetry, it precipitates the whole."

       *       *       *       *       *

All but the vulgar like poetry. This is using vulgarity in the sense in
which Iva Jewel Geary defines it, as being "in its essence the
acceptance of life as low comedy, and the willingness to be entertained
by it always, as such. Whereas poetry," she says, "is the interpretation
of life as serious drama: a play, in the main dignified and beautiful,
or tragic."

Some readers take to poetry as to music, because it enraptures the ear.
Others of us feel a need for its wisdom and insight--and wings. It
deepens our everyday moods. It reminds us of Wonder. Here we are, with
our great hearts and brains, descended from blind bits of slime,
erecting a busy civilization on a beautiful earth; and that earth is
whirling through space, amid great golden worlds: and yet, being
grandsons of slime, we forget to look around us.

As Patmore expressed it:

    "An idle poet, here and there,
      Looks round him; but, for all the rest,
    The world, unfathomably fair,
      Is duller than a witling's jest.
    Love wakes men, once a lifetime each;
      They lift their heavy lids, and look;
    And, lo, what one sweet page can teach,
      They read with joy, then shut the book."



Legs vs. Architects


I don't know how many persons who hate climbing there are in the world;
there must be, by and large, a great number. I'm one, I know that. But
whenever a building is erected for the use of the public, the
convenience of a non-climbing person is wholly ignored.

I refer, of course, to the debonair habit which architects have of never
designing an entrance that is easy to enter. Instead of leaving the
entrance on the street level so that a man can walk in, they perch it on
a flight of steps, so that no one can get in without climbing.

The architect's defense is, it looks better. Looks better to whom? To
architects, and possibly to tourists who never go in the building. It
doesn't look better to the old or the lame, I can tell you; nor to
people who are tired and have enough to do without climbing steps.

There are eminent scholars in universities, whose strength is taxed
daily, because they must daily climb a parapet to get to their studies.

Everywhere there are thousands of men and women who must work for a
living where some nonchalant architect has needlessly made their work
harder.

I admit there is a dignity and beauty in a long flight of steps. Let
them be used, then, around statues and monuments, where we don't have to
mount them. But why put them where they add, every day, to the exertions
of every one, and bar out some of the public completely? That's a
hard-hearted beauty.

Suppose that, in the eye of an architect, it made buildings more
beautiful to erect them on poles, as the lake dwellers did, ages back.
(It would be only a little more obsolete than putting them on top of
high steps.) Would the public meekly submit to this standard and shinny
up poles all their lives?

Let us take the situation of a citizen who is not a mountaineering
enthusiast. He can command every modern convenience in most of his ways.
But if he happens to need a book in the Public Library what does he
find? He finds that some architect has built the thing like a Greek
temple. It is mounted on a long flight of steps, because the Greeks were
all athletes. He tries the nearest university library. It has a flight
that's still longer. He says to himself (at least I do), "Very well,
then, I'll buy the damn book." He goes to the book-stores They haven't
it. It is out of stock, out of print. The only available copies are
those in the libraries, where they are supposed to be ready for every
one's use; and would be, too, but for the architects and their effete
barricades.

This very thing happened to me last winter. I needed a book. As I was
unable to climb into the Public Library, I asked one of my friends to
go. He was a young man whose legs had not yet been worn out and ruined
by architects. He reported that the book I wanted was on the reference
shelves, and could not be taken out. If I could get in, I could read it
all I wanted to, but not even the angels could bring it outside to me.

We went down there and took a look at the rampart which would have to be
mounted. That high wall of steps! I tried with his assistance to climb
them, but had to give up.

He said there was a side entrance. We went there, but there, too, we
found steps.

"After you once get inside, there is an elevator," the doorkeeper said.

Isn't that just like an architect! To make everything inside as perfect
as possible, and then keep you out!

There's a legend that a lame man once tried to get in the back way.
There are no steps there, hence pedestrians are not admitted. It's a
delivery entrance for trucks. So this man had himself delivered there in
a packing case, disguised as the Memoirs of Josephine, and let them haul
him all the way upstairs before he revealed he was not. But it seems
they turn those cases upside down and every which way in handling them,
and he had to be taken to the hospital. He said it was like going over
Niagara.

If there must be a test imposed on every one who enters a library, have
a brain test, and keep out all readers who are weak in the head. No
matter how good their legs are, if their brains aren't first-rate, keep
'em out. But, instead, we impose a leg test, every day of the year, on
all comers. We let in the brainless without any examination at all, and
shut out the most scholarly persons unless they have legs like an
antelope's.

If an explorer told us of some tribe that did this, we'd smile at their
ways, and think they had something to learn before they could call
themselves civilized.

There are especially lofty steps built around the Metropolitan Museum,
which either repel or tire out visitors before they get in. Of those who
do finally arrive at the doors, up on top, many never have enough
strength left to view the exhibits. They just rest in the vestibule
awhile, and go home, and collapse.

It is the same way with most of our churches, and half of our clubs.
Why, they are even beginning to build steps in front of our great
railway stations. Yes, that is what happens when railway men trust a
"good" architect. He designs something that will make it more difficult
for people to travel, and will discourage them and turn them back if
possible at the start of their journey. And all this is done in the name
of art. Why can't art be more practical?

There's one possible remedy:

No architect who had trouble with his own legs would be so
inconsiderate. His trouble is, unfortunately, at the other end. Very
well, break his legs. Whenever we citizens engage a new architect to put
up a building, let it be stipulated in the contract that the Board of
Aldermen shall break his legs first. The only objection I can think of
is that his legs would soon get well. In that case, elect some more
aldermen and break them again.



To Phoebe


  It has recently been discovered that one of the satellites of Saturn,
  known as Phoebe, is revolving in a direction the exact contrary of
  that which all known astronomical laws would have led us to expect.
  English astronomers admit that this may necessitate a fundamental
  revision of the nebular hypothesis.--_Weekly Paper._

    Phoebe, Phoebe, whirling high
    In our neatly-plotted sky,
    Listen, Phoebe, to my lay:
    Won't you whirl the other way?

    All the other stars are good
    And revolve the way they should.
    You alone, of that bright throng,
    Will persist in going wrong.

    Never mind what God has said--
    We have made a Law instead.
    Have you never heard of this
    Neb-u-lar Hy-poth-e-sis?

    It prescribes, in terms exact,
    Just how every star should act.
    Tells each little satellite
    Where to go and whirl at night.

    Disobedience incurs
    Anger of astronomers,
    Who--you mustn't think it odd--
    Are more finicky than God.

    So, my dear, you'd better change.
    Really, we can't rearrange
    Every chart from Mars to Hebe
    Just to fit a chit like Phoebe.



Sex, Religion and Business


A young Russian once, in the old nineteenth century days, revisited the
town he was born in, and took a look at the people. They seemed
stupid--especially the better classes. They had narrow-minded ideas of
what was proper and what wasn't. They thought it wasn't proper to love,
except in one prescribed way. They worried about money, and social
position and customs. The young Russian was sorry for them; he felt they
were wasting their lives. His own way of regarding the earth was as a
storehouse of treasures--sun, air, great thoughts, great experiences,
work, friendship and love. And life was our one priceless chance to
delight in all this. I don't say he didn't see much more to life than
enjoyment, but he did believe in living richly, and not starving
oneself.

The people he met, though, were starving themselves all the time.
Certain joys that their natures desired they would not let themselves
have, because they had got in the habit of thinking them wrong.

Well, of course this situation is universal; it's everywhere. Most men
and women have social and moral ideas which result in their starving
their natures. If they should, well and good. But if not, it is a
serious and ridiculous matter. It's especially hard upon those who don't
see what they are doing.

I know in my own case that I have been starved, more than once. I'm not
starved at the moment; but I'm not getting all I want either. So far as
the great joys of life go, I live on a diet. And when something reminds
me what splendors there may be, round the corner, I take a look out of
the door and begin to feel restless. I dream I see life passing by, and
I reach for my hat.

But a man like myself doesn't usually go at all far. His code is too
strong--or his habits. Something keeps the door locked. Most of us are
that way; we aren't half as free as we seem. When a man has put himself
into prison it is hard to get out.

To go back to this Russian, he was in a novel of Artzibashef's, called
Sanine. I thought at first that he might release me from my little jail.
But it is an odd thing: we victims get particular about being freed.
We're unwilling to be released by just any one: it must be the right
man. It's too bad to look a savior in the mouth, but it is highly
important. This man Sanine, for instance, was for letting me out the
wrong door.

I didn't see this at the start. In fact I felt drawn to him. I liked his
being silent and caustic and strong in his views. The only thing was,
he kept getting a little off-key. There was a mixture of wrongness in
his rightness that made me distrust him.

Sanine was in his twenties, and in order to get all the richness that
his nature desired, he had to attend to his urgent sexual needs. He
wasn't in love, but his sexual needs had to be gratified. In arranging
for this he recognized few or no moral restrictions. His idea was that
people were apt to make an awful mistake when they tried to build
permanent relations out of these fleeting pleasures. Even if there were
babies.

These views didn't commend themselves to some of Sanine's neighbors and
friends, or to that narrow village. They believed in family-life, and in
marrying, and all that kind of thing, and they got no fun at all out of
having illegitimate children. They had a lot of prejudices, those
people. Sanine gave them a chill. Among them was a young man named
Yourii; he's the villain of this book. He was not wicked, but stupid,
poor fellow. He was pure and proud of it. I hardly need state that he
came to a very bad end. And when they urged Sanine, who was standing
there at Yourii's burial, to make some little speech, he replied: "What
is there to say? One fool less in the world." This made several people
indignant, and the funeral broke up.

A friend of Sanine's named Ivanoff, went with him to the country one
day, and they passed some girls bathing in a stream there, without any
bathing suits.

[Illustration: He was pure and proud of it]

"Let's go and look at them," suggested Sanine.

"They would see us."

"No they wouldn't. We could land there, and go through the reeds."

"Leave them alone," said Ivanoff, blushing slightly.... "They're
girls ... young ladies.... I don't think it's quite proper."

"You're a silly fool," laughed Sanine. "Do you mean to say that you
wouldn't like to see them? What man wouldn't do the same if he had the
chance?"

"Yes, but if you reason like that, you ought to watch them openly. Why
hide yourself?"

"Because it's much more exciting."

"I dare say, but I advise you not to--"

"For chastity's sake, I suppose?"

"If you like."

"But chastity is the very thing that we don't possess."

Ivanoff smiled, and shrugged his shoulders.

"Look here, my boy," said Sanine, steering toward the bank, "if the
sight of girls bathing were to rouse in you no carnal desire, then you
would have the right to be called chaste. Indeed though I should be the
last to imitate it, such chastity on your part would win my admiration.
But, having these natural desires, if you attempt to suppress them, then
I say that your so-called chastity is all humbug."

This was one of the incidents that made me dislike Mr. Sanine. I liked
his being honest, and I liked his being down on prudery and humbug. But
I thought his theory of life was a good deal too simple. "Don't repress
your instincts," he said. That's all very well, but suppose a man has
more than one kind? If a cheap peeping instinct says "Look," and another
instinct says "Oh, you bounder," which will you suppress? It comes down
to a question of values. Life holds moments for most of us which the
having been a bounder will spoil.

The harmonizing of body and spirit and all the instincts into one, so
we'll have no conflicting desires, is an excellent thing--when we do it;
and we can all do it some of the time, with the will and the brains to.
But no one can, all the time. And when you are not fully harmonized, and
hence feel a conflict--different parts of your nature desiring to go
different ways--why, what can you do? You must just take your choice of
repressions.

As to Sanine, his life is worth reading, and--in spots--imitating. But I
thought he was rather a cabbage. A cabbage is a strong, healthy
vegetable, honest and vigorous. It's closely in touch with nature, and
it doesn't pretend to be what it isn't. You might do well to study a
cabbage: but not follow its program. A cabbage has too much to learn.
How our downright young moderns will learn things, I'm sure I don't
know. Sanine scornfully says "not by repression." Well, I don't think
highly of repressions; they're not the best method. Yet it's possible
that they might be just the thing--for a cabbage.

       *       *       *       *       *

Long before Sanine was born--in the year 1440 in fact--there was a man
in India who used to write religious little songs. Name of Kabir. I
tried to read his books once, but couldn't, not liking extremes. He was
pretty ecstatic. I could no more keep up with him than with Sanine.

In his private life Kabir was a married man and had several children. By
trade he was a weaver. Weaving's like knitting: it allows you to make a
living and think of something else at the same time. It was the very
thing for Kabir, of course. Gave him practically the whole day to make
songs in, and think of religion. He seems to have been a happy
fellow--far more so than Sanine.

Sanine's comment would have been that Kabir was living in an imaginary
world, not a real one, and that he was autointoxicating himself with his
dreamings.

[Illustration: I couldn't keep up with Kabir]

Kabir's answer would have been that Sanine ought to try that world
before judging it, and had better begin by just loving people a little.
More love, and more willingness to deal with his poor fellow-creatures,
instead of flinging them off in impatience--that would have been Kabir's
prescription. And, as a fact, it might really have been an eye-opener
for Sanine.

Of the two, however, I preferred Sanine to Kabir. The trouble with Kabir
was, he wouldn't let you alone. He wanted everybody to be as religious
as he was: it would make them so happy, he thought. This made him rather
screechy.

He sang some songs, however, that moved me. Like many a modern, I'm not
religious; that is, I've no creed; but I don't feel quite positive that
this army of planets just happened, and that man's evolution from
blindness to thought was an accident and that nowhere is any
Intelligence vaster than mine.

Therefore, I'm always hoping to win some real spiritual insight. It has
come to other men without dogma (I can't accept dogmas) and so, I keep
thinking, it may some day come to me, too. I never really expect it next
week, though. It's always far off. It might come, for instance, I think,
in the hour of death. And here is the song Kabir sang to all men who
think that:

    "_O Friend! hope for Him whilst you
    live, know whilst you live, understand
    whilst you live; for in life deliverance
    abides._

    "_If your bonds be not broken whilst
    living, what hope of deliverance in death?_

    "_It is but an empty dream, that the soul
    shall have union with Him because it has
    passed from the body:_

    "_If He is found now, He is found then._

    "_If not, we do but go to dwell in the
    City of Death._

    "_If you have union now, you shall have
    it hereafter._"

       *       *       *       *       *

Both Sanine and Kabir should have read Tarkington's novel, The Turmoil,
which is all about the rush and hustle-bustle of life in America. It
would have made them see what great contrasts exist in this world. Kabir
thought too much about religion. Sanine, of sex. Nobody in The Turmoil
was especially troubled with either. Some went to church, maybe, and
sprinkled a little religion here and there on their lives; but none
deeply felt it, or woke up in the morning thinking about it, or allowed
it to have much say when they made their decisions. And as to sex,
though there were lovers among them, it was only incidentally that they
cared about that. They satisfied nature in a routine way, outside office
hours. No special excitement about it. Nothing hectic--or magical.

Now, sex is a fundamental state and concern of existence: it's a primary
matter. If it's pushed to one side, we at least should be careful what
does it. And religion, too, God or no God, is a primary matter, if we
stretch the word to cover all the spiritual gropings of man. Yet what is
it that pushes these two great things aside in America? What makes them
subordinate? Business. We put business first.

And what is this business? What is the charm of this giant who engrosses
us so? In Tarkington's novel you find yourself in a town of neighborly
people, in the middle west somewhere; a leisurely and kindly
place--home-like, it used to be called. But in the hearts of these
people was implanted a longing for size. They wished that town to grow.
So it did. (We can all have our wishes.) And with its new bigness came
an era of machinery and rush. "The streets began to roar and rattle, the
houses to tremble, the pavements were worn under the tread of hurrying
multitudes. The old, leisurely, quizzical look of the faces was lost in
something harder and warier."

"You don't know what it means, keepin' property together these days,"
says one of them. "I tell you when a man dies the wolves come out of the
woods, pack after pack ... and if that dead man's children ain't on the
job, night and day, everything he built'll get carried off.... My Lord!
when I think of such things coming to _me_! It don't seem like I
deserved it--no man ever tried harder to raise his boys right than I
have. I planned and planned and planned how to bring 'em up to be guards
to drive the wolves off, and how to be builders to build, and build
bigger.... What's the use of my havin' worked my life and soul into my
business, if it's all goin' to be dispersed and scattered, soon as I'm
in the ground?"

       *       *       *       *       *

Poor old business! It does look pretty sordid. Yet there is a soul in
this giant. Consider its power to call forth the keenness in men and to
give endless zest to their toil and sharp trials to their courage. It is
grimy, shortsighted, this master--but it has greatness, too.

Only, as we all know, it does push so much else to one side! Love,
spiritual gropings, the arts, our old closeness to nature, the
independent outlook and disinterested friendships of men--all these must
be checked and diminished, lest they interfere. Yet those things are
life; and big business is just a great game. Why play any game so
intently we forget about life?

Well, looking around at mankind, we see some races don't. The yellow and
black--and some Latins. But Normans and Saxons and most Teutons play
their games hard. Knight-errantry was once the game. See how hard they
played that. The Crusades, too,--all gentlemen were supposed to take in
the Crusades. Old, burly, beef-crunching wine-bibbers climbed up on
their chargers and went through incredible troubles and dangers--for
what? Why, to rescue a shrine, off in Palestine, from the people who
lived there. Those people, the Saracens, weren't doing anything very
much to it; but still it was thought that no gentleman ought to stay
home, or live his life normally, until that bit of land had been
rescued, and put in the hands of stout prelates instead of those
Saracans.

Then came the great game of exploring new lands and new worlds. Cortez,
Frobisher, Drake. Imagine a dialogue in those days between father and
son, a sea-going father who thought exploration was life, and a son who
was weakly and didn't want to be forced into business. "I don't like
exploration much, Father. I'm seasick the whole time, you know; and I
can't bear this going ashore and oppressing the blacks." "Nonsense, boy!
This work's got to be done. Can't you see, my dear fellow, those new
countries _must_ be explored? It'll make a man of you."

So it goes, so it goes. And playing some game well _is_ needful, to make
a man of you. But once in a while you get thinking it's not quite
enough.



An Ode to Trade


  "Recent changes in these thoroughfares show that trade is rapidly
  crowding out vice."--_Real Estate Item._


    O restless Spirit, from whose cup
      All drink, and at whose feet all bow
    May I inquire what you are up
                To now?

    Insatiable, I know, your maw,
      And ravenous of old your shrine;
    But still, O Trade, you ought to draw
                The line.

    Our health, our pride, our every breath
      Of leisure--do not these suffice?
    Ah, tell me not you're also death
                On vice.

    Ah, tell me not yon gilded hell
      That has from boyhood soothed my grief
    Must fall into the sere and yellow
                 leaf;

    That dens my wayward comrades know
      Must also share this cruel lot:
    That every haunt of sin must go
                To pot.

    I who have seen your roaring marts
      Engulf our aristocracy,
    Our poets, all who love the arts
                But me:

    I who have watched your bounteous purse
      Seduce, I say, the world's elect--
    I, in my clear and ringing verse,
                Object.

    You've stripped existence to the bone;
      You see us of all else bereft;
    You know quite well that vice alone
                Is left.

    You claim our every thought and prayer,
      Nor do we grudge the sacrifice.
    But worms will turn! You've got to spare
                Us vice



[Illustration]

Objections to Reading


When I was a child of tender years--about five tender years, I think--I
felt I couldn't wait any longer: I wanted to read. My parents had gone
along supposing that there was no hurry; and they were quite right;
there wasn't. But I was impatient. I couldn't wait for people to read to
me--they so often were busy, or they insisted on reading the wrong
thing, or stopping too soon. I had an immense curiosity to explore the
book-universe, and the only way to do it satisfactorily was to do it
myself.

Consequently I got hold of a reader, which said, "See the Dog Run!" It
added, "The Dog Can Run and Leap," and stated other curious facts. "The
Apple is Red," was one of them, I remember, and "The Round Ball Can
Roll."

There was certainly nothing thrilling about the exclamation, "See the
Dog Run!" Dogs run all the time. The performance was too common to speak
of. Nevertheless, it did thrill me to spell it out for myself in a book.
"The Round Ball Can Roll," said my book. Well, I knew that already. But
it was wonderful to have a book say it. It was having books talk to me.

Years went on, and I read more and more. Sometimes, deep in Scott,
before dinner, I did not hear the bell, and had to be hunted up by some
one and roused from my trance. I hardly knew where I was, when they
called me. I got up from my chair not knowing whether it was for dinner
or breakfast or for school in the morning. Sometimes, late at night,
even after a long day of play--those violent and never-pausing exertions
that we call play, in boyhood--I would still try to read, hiding the
light, until my eyes closed in spite of me. So far as I knew, there were
not many books in the world; but nevertheless I was in a hurry to read
all there were.

In this way, I ignorantly fastened a habit upon me. I got like an
alcoholic, I could let no day go by without reading. As I grew older, I
couldn't pass a book-shop without going in. And in libraries, where
reading was free, I always read to excess. The people around me
glorified the habit (just as old songs praise drinking). I never had the
slightest suspicion that it might be a vice. I was as complacent over my
book totals as six bottle men over theirs.

[Illustration: Ak and the striped Wumpit--]

Can there ever have been a race of beings on some other star, so
fascinated as we are by reading? It is a remarkable appetite. It seems
to me that it must be peculiar to simians. Would you find the old folks
of any other species, with tired old brains, feeling vexed if they
didn't get a whole newspaper fresh every morning? Back in primitive
times, when men had nothing to read but knots in a string, or painful
little pictures on birch bark--was it the same even then? Probably Mrs.
Flint-Arrow, 'way back in the Stone Age pored over letters from her son,
as intensely as any one. "Only two knots in it this time," you can
almost hear her say to her husband. "Really I think Ak might be a little
more frank with his mother. Does it mean he has killed that striped
Wumpit in Double Rock Valley, or that the Gouly family where you told
him to visit has twins?"

[Illustration: maiden in distress]

There are one or two primitive ideas we still have about reading. I
remember in a boarding-house in Tucson, I once met a young clergyman,
who exemplified the belief many have in the power of books. "Here are
you," he would say to me, "and here is your brain. What are you going
to put into it? That is the question." I could make myself almost as
good as a bishop, he intimated, by choosing the noblest and best books,
instead of mere novels. One had only to choose the right sort of reading
to be the right sort of man.

[Illustration: Scenes of Horror]

He seemed to think I had only to read Socrates to make myself wise, or
G. Bernard Shaw to be witty.

Cannibals eat the hearts of dead enemy chieftains, to acquire their
courage; and this clergyman entered a library with the same simple
notion.

But though books are weak implements for implanting good qualities in
us, they do color our minds, fill them with pictures and sometimes
ideas. There are scenes of horror in my mind to-day that were put there
by Poe, or Ambrose Bierce or somebody, years ago, which I cannot put
out. No maiden in distress would bother me nowadays, I have read of too
many, but some of those first ones I read of still make me feel cold.
Yes, a book can leave indelible pictures .... And it can introduce wild
ideas. Take a nice old lady for instance, at ease on her porch, and set
the ballads of Villon to grinning at her over the hedge, or a
deep-growling Veblen to creeping on her, right down the rail,--it's no
wonder they frighten her. She doesn't want books to show her the
underworld and blacken her life.

[Illustration: Dastardly attack by Veblen's latest.]

It's not surprising that some books are censored and forbidden to
circulate. The surprising thing is that in this illiberal world they
travel so freely. But they usually aren't taken seriously; I suppose
that's the answer. It's odd. Many countries that won't admit even the
quietest living man without passports will let in the most active,
dangerous thoughts in book form.

The habit of reading increases. How far can it go? The innate capacity
of our species for it is plainly enormous. Are we building a race of men
who will read several books every day, not counting a dozen newspapers
at breakfast, and magazines in between? It sounds like a lot, but our
own record would have astonished our ancestors. Our descendants are
likely to read more and faster than we.

[Illustration: The Underworld]

People used to read chiefly for knowledge or to pursue lines of thought.
There wasn't so much fiction as now. These proportions have changed. We
read some books to feed our curiosity but more to feed our emotions. In
other words, we moderns are substituting reading for living.

When our ancestors felt restless they burst out of their poor bookless
homes, and roamed around looking for adventure. We read some one else's.
The only adventures they could find were often unsatisfactory, and the
people they met in the course of them were hard to put up with. We can
choose just the people and adventures we like in our books. But our
ancestors got real emotions, where we live on canned.

[Illustration: Volume of morbid Geography attempting to enter Lone
Gulch]

Of course canned emotions are thrilling at times, in their way, and
wonderful genius has gone into putting them up. But a man going home
from a library where he has read of some battle, has not the sensations
of a soldier returning from war.

[Illustration: This book tells you all about how fighting feels]

Still--for us--reading is natural. If we were more robust, as a race, or
if earth-ways were kinder, we should not turn so often to books when we
wanted more life. But a fragile yet aspiring species on a stormy old
star--why, a substitute for living is the very thing such beings need.



On Authors



The Enjoyment of Gloom


[Illustration]

There used to be a poem--I wish I could find it again--about a man in a
wild, lonely place who had a child and a dog. One day he had to go
somewhere So he left the dog home to protect the child until he came
back. The dog was a strong, faithful animal, with large, loving eyes.

Something terrible happened soon after the man had gone off. I find I'm
rather hazy about it, but I think it was wolves. The faithful dog had an
awful time of it. He fought and he fought. He was pitifully cut up and
bitten. In the end, though, he won.

The man came back when it was night. The dog was lying on the bed with
the child he had saved. There was blood on the bed. The man's heart
stood still. "This blood is my child's," he thought hastily, "and this
dog, which I trusted, has killed it." The dog feebly wagged his tail.
The man sprang upon him and slew him.

He saw his mistake immediately afterward, but--it was too late.

When I first read this I was a boy of perhaps ten or twelve. It darn
near made me cry. There was one line especially--the poor dog's dying
howl of reproach. I think it did make me cry.

I at once took the book--a large, blue one--and hunted up my younger
brothers. I made them sit one on each side of the nursery fire. "I'm
going to read you something," I said.

[Illustration: "Keep all the wolves out now."]

They looked up at me trustfully. I remember their soft, chubby faces.

[Illustration: Reading about the poor dog.]

I began the poem, very much moved; and they too, soon grew agitated.
They had a complete confidence, however, that it would come out all
right. When it didn't, when the dog's dying howl came, they burst into
tears. We all sobbed together.

This session was such a success that I read it to them several times
afterward. I didn't get quite so much poignancy out of these encores
myself but my little brothers cried every time, and that, somehow, gave
me pleasure. It gave no pleasure to them. They earnestly begged me not
to keep reading it. I was the eldest, however, and paid little
attention, of course, to their wishes. They'd be playing some game,
perhaps. I would stalk into the room, book in hand, and sit them down
by the fire. "You're going to read us about the dog again?" they would
wail. "Well, not right away," I'd say. "I'll read something funny to
start with." This didn't much cheer them. "Oh, please don't read us
about the dog, please don't," they'd beg, "we're playing run-around."
When I opened the book they'd begin crying 'way in advance, long before
that stanza came describing his last dying howl.

It was kind of mean of me.

There's a famous old author, though, who's been doing just that all his
life. He's eighty years old, and still at it. I mean Thomas Hardy. Dying
howls, of all kinds, are his specialty.

His critics have assumed that from this they can infer his philosophy.
They say he believes that "sorrow is the rule and joy the exception,"
and that "good-will and courage and honesty are brittle weapons" for us
to use in our defense as we pass through such a world.

I'm not sure that I agree that that's Hardy's philosophy. It's fair
enough to say that Hardy's stories, and still more his poems, paint
chiefly the gloomy and hopeless situations in life, just as Mark Twain
and Aristophanes painted the comic ones. But Mark Twain was very far
from thinking the world was a joke, and I doubt whether Hardy regards
it at heart as so black.

He has written--how many books? twenty odd?--novels and poems. They make
quite an edifice. They represent long years of work. Could he have been
so industrious if he had found the world a chamber of horrors? He might
have done one or two novels or poems about it, but how could he have
kept on if he had truly felt the whole thing was hopeless? He kept on,
because although sorrows move him he does not feel their weight. He
found he could have a good time painting the world's tragic aspects. He
is somehow or other so constituted that that's been his pleasure. And he
has wanted his own kind of pleasure, just as you and I want our kinds.
That's fair.

I like to think that the good old soul has had a lot of fun all his
life, describing all the gloomiest episodes a person could think of. If
a good, gloomy episode comes into his mind while he's shaving, it
brightens the whole day, and he bustles off to set it down, whistling.

Somebody once asked him if he were as pessimistic as his writings would
indicate, and he replied that it wasn't safe to judge a man's thoughts
by his writings. His writings showed only what kind of things he liked
to describe. "Some authors become vocal before one aspect of life, some
another." (Perhaps not his exact words but close to it.) One aspect of
life may impress you, yet leave you in silence; another may stimulate
you into saying something; but what does that prove? It merely shows
what you like best to talk about, not your philosophy. A cat whose life
is principally peace and good food and warm fires makes hardly any noise
about those things--at most a mere purr. But she does become vocal and
wildly so, over midnight encounters. If another cat so much as disputes
her way on a fence-top, her tragic shrieks of anguish will sound like
the end of the world. Well, Hardy has spent his life in what was chiefly
a peaceful era of history, in a liberal and prosperous country; and he
personally, too, has had blessings--the blessing of being able, for
instance, to write really good books, and the blessing of finding a
public to read and admire them. Is any of this reflected in his themes,
though? Does he purr? Mighty little. No, he prefers looking around for
trouble in this old world's backyards; he prowls about at night till he
comes upon some good hunk of bleakness, and then he sits down, like the
cat, to utter long-drawn-out wails, which give him strange, poignant
sensations of deep satisfaction. They give us quite other sensations but
he doesn't care. In the morning he canters back in, pleased and happy,
for breakfast, and he basks in the sun, blinking sagely, the rest of the
day. And we say, with respect, "A great pessimist; he thinks life is
all sorrow."

The principal objection to pessimists is they sap a man's hope. As some
English writer has said, there are two kinds of hope. First, the hope of
success, which gives men daring, and helps them win against odds. That
isn't the best sort of hope. Many deliberately cultivate it because it
makes for success, but that is an insincere habit; it's really
self-hypnotism. It may help us to win in some particular enterprise,
yes; but it's dangerous, like drug-taking. You must keep on increasing
the dose, and blind-folding your reason. Men who do it are buoyant,
self-confident, but some of their integrity is lost.

The best kind of hope is not about success in this or that undertaking.
It's far deeper; hence when things go against you, it isn't destroyed.
It is hope about the nature and future of man and the universe. It is
this hope the pessimists would disallow. That's why they repel us. Some
lessen our hope in the universe; others, in man.



Buffoon Fate


Suppose that a lot of us were living aboard a huge ship. Suppose the
ship didn't rock much, or require any urgent attention, but kept along
on an even keel and left us free to do as we liked. And suppose we got
into the habit of staying below more and more, never coming up on deck
or regarding the sea or the sky. Just played around below, working at
little jobs; eating, starving, quarreling, and arguing in the hold of
that ship.

And then, maybe, something would happen to call us on deck. Some peril,
some storm. And we'd suddenly realize that our life between decks wasn't
all. We'd run up and rub our eyes, and stare around at the black waters,
the vast, heaving waves; and a gale from far spaces would strike us, and
chill us like ice. And we'd think, "By Jove, we're on a ship! And where
is our ship sailing?"

Wars, plagues and famines are the storms that make us run up on deck.
They snatch us up, out of our buying and selling and studying, and show
us our whole human enterprise as a ship, in great danger.

We want to scurry back below, where it's lighted and smaller. Down below
where our toys are. On deck it's too vast, too tremendous....

We want to forget that the human race is on an adventure, sailing no one
knows where, on a magical, treacherous sea.

We have fought our way up from being wild, houseless lemurs, or lower,
and little by little we have built up our curious structure--of
learning, of art, of discovery--a wonderful structure: at least for us
monkey-men. It has been a long struggle. We can guess, looking backward,
what our ancestors had to contend with--how the cavemen fought mammoths,
and their tough sons and daughters fought barbarism. But we want to
forget it. We wish every one now to be genial. We pretend that this
isn't the same earth that our ancestors lived on, but quite a different
planet, where roughness is kept within bounds and where persons wear
gloves and have neat wooden doors they can lock.

But it's the very same earth that old Grandpa Caveman once wrestled
with, and where old Grandma Cavewoman ran for her life twice a week.

We've varnished the surface.

But it's still wild and strange just beneath.

In a book called "The War in the Air," by H. G. Wells (1907) he pictures
the world swimming along quietly, when bang! a war starts! And it
spreads, and takes in East and West, smashes cities, stops everything.
And one of the young men in the story looks around rather dazed, and
says in a low voice: "I've always thought life was a lark. It isn't.
This sort of thing has always been happening, I suppose--these things,
wars and earthquakes, that sweep across all the decency of life. It's
just as though I had woke up to it all for the first time.... And it's
always been so--it's the way of life."

So that's what we need to get used to, that it's _that_ kind of a ship.
We ought to have a sense of the adventure on which we're all bound.

       *       *       *       *       *

It's not only war--not by a long shot--that gives men that sense. Great
scientists have it. Great sailors. You can sort out the statesmen around
you, the writers, the poets, according to whether or not they ever have
been up on deck.

Theodore Dreiser has, for instance; Arnold Bennett has not. Charles
Dickens did not, and that's why he is ranked below Thackeray. Compare
James Joyce's "Portrait of the Artist" with George Moore's
"Confessions," and if you apply this criterion, Moore takes a back seat.

       *       *       *       *       *

There's one great man now living, however, who has almost too much of
this sense: this cosmic adventure emotion. And that man's Joseph Conrad.
Perhaps in his youth the sea came upon him too suddenly, or his boyhood
sea-dreams awed too deeply his then unformed mind. At all events, the
men in his stories are like lonely spirits, sailing, spellbound, through
the immense forces surrounding the world. "There they are," one of them
says, as he stands at the rail, "stars, sun, sea, light, darkness,
space, great waters; the formidable Work of the Seven Days, into which
man seems to have blundered unbidden. Or else decoyed."

We all have that mood. But Conrad, he's given to brooding. And his habit
at night when he stands staring up at the stars is to see (or conjure up
rather) a dumb buffoon Fate, primeval, unfriendly and stupid, whom Man
must defy. And Conrad defies it, but wearily, for he feels sick at
heart,--because of his surety that Fate is ignoble, and blind.

It's as though the man told himself ghost stories about this great
universe. He feels that it ought to have a gracious and powerful master,
leading men along fiery highways to test but not crush them, and
marching them firm-eyed and glorious toward high goals. But instead
there is nothing. The gray, empty wastes of the skies beyond starland
are silent. Or, worse, their one sound is the footfall of that buffoon
Fate.

The way to meet this black situation, according to Conrad, is to face it
with grim steady courage. And that's what he does. It's stirring to
discover the fineness of this man's tragic bravery. But when I get loose
from his spell, and reflect, independently, I ask myself, "After all, is
this performance so brave?"

We must all weigh the universe, each in his own penny-scales, and decide
for ourselves whether to regard it as inspiring or hollow. But letting
our penny-scales frighten us isn't stout-hearted.

If I were to tell myself ghost stories until I was trembling, and then,
with my heart turning cold, firmly walk through the dark, my courage
would be splendid, no doubt, but not finely applied. Conrad's courage is
splendid--it is as great as almost any modern's--but it isn't courageous
of him to busy it with self-conjured dreads.



The Wrong Lampman


It is odd, or no, it's not, but it's note-worthy, that Shaw has had few
disciples. Here is a witty, vivacious man, successful and keen: why
isn't he the head of a school of other keen, witty writers? He has
provided an attractive form--the play with an essay as preface. He has
provided stock characters, such as the handsome-hero male-moth, who
protests so indignantly at the fatal attraction of candles. He has
developed above all that useful formula which has served many a
dramatist--the comic confrontation of reason and instinct in man. Yet
this whole apparatus lies idle, except for the use that Shaw makes of
it. It is as though Henry Ford had perfected an automobile, and then no
one had taken a drive in it, ever, but Henry.

The explanation that Shaw's is too good a machine, or that it takes a
genius to run it, is not sufficiently plausible. The truth probably is
that his shiny car has some bad defect.

It has this defect certainly: in all his long arguments, Shaw has one
underlying assumption--that men could be perfectly reasonable and wise
if they would. They have only to let themselves; and if they won't,
it's downright perversity. This belief is at the center of his being,
and he can't get away from it. He doesn't hold it lightly: he's really
in earnest about it. Naturally, when he looks around at the world with
that belief in his heart, and sees men and women making blunders which
he thinks they don't need to, he becomes too exasperated for silence,
and pours out his plays. Sometimes he is philosophic enough to treat his
fellows amusedly; sometimes he is serious and exacerbated, in which case
he is tiresome. But at heart he is always provoked and astonished at men
for the way they fend off the millennium, when it's right at their side.

He may have inherited this attitude from those economists, who
flourished, or attempted to flourish, in the generation before
him--those who built with such confidence on rationalism in human
affairs. Man was a reasonable being, they said and believed; and all
would be well with him, therefore, when he once saw the light. To
discover the light might be difficult, but they would do all that for
us, and then it would surely be no trouble to man to accept it. They
proceeded to discover the light in finance, trade, and matters of
government; and Shaw, coming after them, extended the field into
marriage, and explained to us the rational thing to do in social
relations. These numerous doses of what was confidently recommended as
reason were faithfully swallowed by all of us; and yet we're not
changed. The dose was as pure as these doctors were able to make it.
But--reason needs admixtures of other things to be a good dose. Men have
learned that without these confirmings it's not to be trusted.

The turn that psychology has taken during the last twenty years has
naturally been unlucky for Shaw as a leader, or influence. He appears
now as the culminating figure of an old school of thinkers, instead of
the founder of a new. And that old school is dead. It was so fascinated
by reason or what it believed to be such (for we should not assume that
its conceptions, even of reason, were right), that it never properly
studied or faced human nature.

Civilization is a process, not a trick to be learned overnight. It is a
way of behavior which we super-animals adopt bit by bit. The surprising
and hopeful thing is that we adopt it at all. Civilization is the slow
modification of our old feral qualities, the slow growth of others,
which we test, then discard or retain. An occasional invention seems to
hasten things, but chiefly externally; for the internal change in men's
natures is slower than glaciers, and it is upon the sum of men's natures
that civilization depends. While this testing and churning and gradual
molding goes on, some fellow is always holding up a hasty lamp he calls
reason, and beckoning the glacier one side, like a will-o'-the-wisp.

Shaw's lamp of reason is one that has an extra fine glitter; it makes
everything look perfectly simple; it shows us short-cuts. He recommends
it as a substitute for understanding, which he does not manufacture.
Understanding is slow, and is always pointing to the longest way round.

Shaw has studied the ways of mankind, but without enough sympathy. It is
unlucky, both for him and for us, this is so. Sympathy would have made
him humorous and wise, and then what a friend he'd have been to us.
Instead, being brilliant and witty, he has left us unnourished.

[Illustration: Which shall the Future belong to--man or the insects?]



The Seamy Side of Fabre


This is an essay on Fabre--that lovable and charming old Frenchman who
wrote about insects. _I_ don't say he's lovable, mind you, but that's
how he is always described.

He was one of those fortunate men who are born with a gift of some sort.
His gift was for interpretation, but it worked well in only one field.
Every animal, vegetable and mineral finds an interpreter, sooner or
later; some man who so loves them that he understands them and their
story, and finds ways of telling it to the rest of mankind--if they'll
let him. Fabre was born with a peculiar understanding of insects.

Even as a baby he was fascinated by grasshoppers and beetles. As a
child he wished to study them far more than anything else. He should
have been encouraged to do this: allowed to, at any rate. Any child with
a gift, even for beetles, should be allowed to develop it. But this
small boy was born in a place where his gift was despised; he was torn
away from his insects and put through the mill.

Our great blundering old world is always searching for learning and
riches, and everlastingly crushing underfoot all new riches and
learning. It tried to make Fabre, a born lover of nature, desert her; it
forced him to teach mathematics for decades instead. The first thing the
world does to a genius is to make him lose all his youth.

Well, Fabre, after losing his youth, and his middle age too, and after
being duly kept back at every turn, all his life, by the want of a few
extra francs, finally won out at sixty. That is to say, he then got a
chance to study and write about insects, in a tiny country home, with an
income that was tinier still. "It is a little late, O my pretty
insects," he said; "I greatly fear the peach is offered to me only when
I'm beginning to have no teeth wherewith to eat it."

As it turned out, however, this wasn't true. He had not only plenty of
time, but in my opinion, too much. He lived to be over ninety and he
wrote and he wrote and he wrote: he wrote more about insects than any
one man or woman can read. I consider it lucky that he didn't begin
until sixty.

Insects, as every one knows, are the worst foes of man. Fabre not only
studied these implacable beings but loved them. There was something
unnatural about it; something disloyal to the whole human race. It is
probable that Fabre was not really human at all. He may have been found
in some human cradle, but he was a changeling. You can see he has insect
blood in him, if you look at his photograph. He is leathery, agile,
dried up. And his grandmother was waspish. He himself always felt
strangely close to wasps, and so did wasps to him. I dare say that in
addition to Fabre's "Life of the Wasp," there exists, if we could only
get at it, a wasp's Life of Fabre.

If the wasp wrote as Fabre does, he would describe Fabre's birth, death,
and matings, but tell us hardly anything else about Fabre's real life.
He would dwell chiefly on Fabre's small daily habits and his reactions
to the wasp's interference.

"Desirous of ascertaining what the old Fabre would do if stung," writes
the wasp, "I repeatedly stuck my sting in his leg--but without any
effect. I afterward discovered however I had been stinging his boots.
This was one of my difficulties, to tell boots and Fabre apart, each
having a tough wizened quality and a powdery taste.

"The old Fabre went into his wooden nest or house after this, and
presently sat down to eat one of his so-called meals. I couldn't see an
atom of dung on the table however, and though there were some fairly
edible flowers he never once sucked them. He had only an immense brown
root called a potato, and a 'chop' of some cow. Seizing a prong in his
claws, the old Fabre quickly harpooned this 'chop' and proceeded to rend
it, working his curious mandibles with sounds of delight, and making a
sort of low barking talk to his mate. Their marriage, to me, seemed
unnatural. Although I watched closely for a week this mate laid no eggs
for him: and instead of saving food for their larvæ they ate it all up
themselves. How strange that these humans should differ so much from us
wasps!"

Another life of Fabre that we ought to have is one by his family. _They_
were not devoted to insects; they probably loathed them; and yet they
had to get up every morning and spend the whole day nursing bugs. I
picture them, yawning and snarling over the tedious experiments, and
listening desperately to Fabre's coleopterous chatter. The members of
every famous man's family ought to give us their side of it. I want more
about Tolstoy by Mrs. Tolstoy. And a Life of Milton by his daughters.
That picture of those unfortunate daughters, looking so sweet and
devoted, taking the blind poet's dictation, is--must be--deceptive. They
were probably wanting to go off upstairs, all the time, and try new ways
of doing their hair; or go out and talk their heads off with other
girls, or look in shop windows: anything but take down old Mr. Milton's
poetry all day. They didn't know their papa was a classic: they just
thought that he was the longest-winded papa in their street. I have no
warrant for saying this, I may add. Except that it's human nature....

Fabre has his good points. He is imaginative and dramatic, and yet has a
passion for truth. He is a philosopher, an artist. And above all he is
not sentimental. He is fond of his insects, but he never is foolishly
fond. And sometimes the good old soul is as callous as can be toward
caterpillars. He shows no more bowels towards caterpillars than do his
own wasps. Take, for instance, that experiment when he kept some on the
march for eight days, watching them interestedly as they died of
exhaustion. Or his delight at the way caterpillars are eaten by the
Eumenes wasp.

This wasp shuts its egg up in a large, prison-like cell, with a pile of
live caterpillars beside it, to serve as its food, first half-paralyzing
these victims so they will keep still. Alive but unable to move, the
caterpillars lie there till the grub hatches out. (Dead caterpillars
wouldn't do because this little grub loves fresh meat.)

The grub, hanging by a thread from the ceiling, now begins having
dinner. "Head downward it is digging into the limp belly of one of the
caterpillars," says Fabre. "The caterpillars grow restless," he adds.
(There's a fine brutal touch!) The grub thereupon, to Fabre's delight,
climbs back up its thread. It is only a baby; it's tender; and when
those wretched caterpillars get to thrashing around, they might hurt the
sweet infant. Not till "peace" is restored, Fabre adds, does Baby dare
to come down again. Hideous infantile epicure! It takes another good
juicy bite.

And if its dinner moans again, or wriggles, it again climbs back up.

Imagine some caterpillar reader shuddering at this horror--this lethal
chamber where prominent caterpillars are slowly eaten alive. Yet scenes
like this occur all through Fabre, and are described with great relish.
If he wrote of them in a dry professional way, it would sound
scientific, and I could read it in a cool, detached spirit with never a
flutter. But he does it so humanly that you get to be friends with these
creatures, and then he springs some grisly little scene on you that
gives you the creeps, and explains to you that the said little scene is
going on all the time; and it makes you feel as though there were
nothing but red fangs in the world.

Fabre at one time was offered the post of tutor to Napoleon III's son,
but he preferred to live in poverty in the country, where he could keep
up his studies. No money, no honors could tempt him away from his work.
Perhaps this was noble. But it seems to me he made a mistake. In fact,
this was the greatest and most fatal mistake of his life.

If he had gone to Napoleon, he might have moped awhile at first, and
felt guilty. But he would have gone right on loving insects and wanting
to study them. Hence he would have soon begun looking around the palace
for specimens. And this might have led to his discovering riches
indoors.

Suppose he had written about that bug that takes its name from our beds,
and helped us to understand its persistent devotion to man. According to
Ealand, the scientist, they are not wholly bad. They were once supposed
to be good for hysteria if taken internally. The Ancients gave seven to
adults and four to children, he says, "to cure lethargy." But the best
Ealand can do is to give us bits of information like this, whereas
Fabre, if he had lived in his bedroom, could have been their
interpreter.

That's his failure--his books are over-weighted with bugs of the
fields. I have plowed through long chapters without getting away for a
minute from beetles. In bugs of the field I take a due interest (which,
I may add, isn't much), but the need of humanity is to know about bugs
of the home.

[Illustration: They were said to cure lethargy]



In His Baby Blue Ship


There are some people who can't enjoy fairy-stories, and don't like
imagining. They are a bit too hard-headed. I don't blame such people;
they are all right enough in their way. Only they ought not to go around
saying fairy-stories are silly. They ought simply to let them alone and
live nice hard-headed lives.

It is the same way with soft-headed people who cannot enjoy the real
world. Not having much taste for it, and not getting on too well in it,
they are apt to call it pretty bad names and to wish it were different.
I think them too hasty. Before they abuse or advise it they should first
understand it. If they can't, they should let it alone more, and live in
their dreams.

Or in those of such dreamers as Maeterlinck, Dunsany, or Poe.

The Maeterlinck books constitute quite a beautiful country. They have
long been a favorite home for our soft-headed friends. And those of us
who are of a compound between hard and soft enjoy visiting the
Maeterlinck coast as we might a resort. It is pleasantly unreal; it is
varied. Gentle breezes of sweetness; blue seas, massive rocks; and
storms too. Here and there a crag, or dark castle of terrible grandeur.
Is it not picturesque? Don't poke at the castles with your umbrella; you
might go through the tin; but take it all in the right spirit as you
would Coney Island.

Human nature being what it is, there is certainly a need for this place.

There is one little difficulty about the situation however. Monsieur
Maeterlinck, the proprietor, although he makes his home in this region,
likes sometimes to visit the real world, if but for a change. Well, this
would be nothing to object to, though for him injudicious, but he is
such a stranger there that he does not at all know his place. He takes
himself seriously at his home; it is natural, I'm sure; but it leads him
to speak in the real world with a voice of authority. He is not in the
least offensive about it, no one could be more gentle, but he doesn't at
all realize that his rank here permits no such tone. On the Maeterlinck
coast, in the realms of romance, he is king. In the real world his
judgments are not above those of a child.

It would give me more pleasure (or at any rate it ought to, I know) to
dwell on his many abilities than on this one fault. But this excellent
man has the misfortune to resemble wood-alcohol. Wood-alcohol is a
respectable liquid; it is useful in varnish; when poured in a lamp it
heats tea; yes, it has its good side. Yet how little we dwell on its
uses, how much on its defect; its one small defect that it's fatal when
taken internally.

Maeterlinck has for years made a business of beautiful thoughts. With
some of them he built romantic tales that are or were a refreshment. But
others he embodied in sermons addressed to reality. He told us none
needed to go to his coast for romance, or for purity and beauty and
goodness, for we really were full of them. We were made in fact of just
these ingredients, at least in our hearts; and it followed, he said,
that our actions should be chosen accordingly. Without ever having
learned anything much of mankind, he described just the way that he felt
all mankind should behave. He put on the robes of a sage, and he
sweetened his looks, and his voice became tender and thrilling and
rather impressive; and he wrote about the Treasure of the Humble, and
Wisdom and Destiny.

The real world is not easy to live in. It is rough; it is slippery.
Without the most clear-eyed adjustments we fall and get crushed. A man
must stay sober: not always, but most of the time. Those of us who drink
from the flasks of the sages of dreamland become so intoxicated with
guff we are a peril to everyone.

We trust in Hague tribunals for instance, on the eve of great wars.

The flask that Wood-Alcohol Maurice, if I may so call him, held so long
to our lips in the years before 1914, produced the usual effects of joy
first, and then blindness and coma. I speak from experience. I took some
myself and was poisoned, and I knew other cases. But it poisoned poor
Maeterlinck more--I may say, most of all--for he had taken his own
medicine honorably as fast as he mixed it. Owing to this imprudence, he
found himself, in 1914, in such a deep coma it almost killed him to come
out of it. His anger at having to wake up and face things was loud. He
found himself compelled to live for a while in the midst of hard facts,
and his comments upon them were scathing; as all dreamers' are.

Since then he has gone part-way back to the land of romance, and if he
will stay there I shall not prefer charges against him. He is one of the
masters of fancy. He can mine fairy gold. But any time he comes to this
world we're now learning to live in, or offers us any more mail-order
lessons in sweetness, I think we should urge him to go and stay where he
belongs.

There is a poem by Joaquin Miller about Columbus that describes his long
voyage. It consists, as I remember, entirely of groans by the sailors,
who keep asking Columbus whether he will please let them turn back. But
Columbus never has but one answer, and that is "Sail on." He says "Sail
on, sail on," over and over again, at the end of each stanza. I grant
you it must have been monotonous enough to the crew, who after the first
week or two probably knew it by heart; but never mind, it sounds well to
us. It's especially good when declaimed. I don't suppose Columbus
himself climbed the poop and declaimed it; he merely stopped shaving,
stuck his head out of the chart-room and screeched it,--suitably mixed
with whatever profanities his day could command. But Time, which softens
all homely history, has beautified this. All the boy Columbuses _I_ ever
heard recite it, when I was at school, had as noble a way as one could
ask of telling their crews to sail on.

I did not mean to make so long a digression. To get back to Maeterlinck.
We ought to provide him with a beautiful baby-blue ship. Odd, charming
allegorical figures should sit on the decks, and fenders should hang
from the sides to ward off bumps of truth. Astern he might tow a small
wife-boat, as a mariner should, with its passenger capacity carefully
stamped on the bottom. And instead of Columbus, a honey-fed spirit of
dream should stand in his prow and adjure him to sail on, to dreamland.
"Dream on, dream on, dream on," she should patter, each time he grew
restless. I could not take a turn in the prow myself, it would be too
much honor; but I should be glad to take my stand in the gentleman's
rear, and do all I could to accelerate his progress from thence.

[Illustration]



Problems



The Man Who Knew Gods


His case illustrated the risks explorers run. Not the physical risks,
which are overestimated, but the psychological dangers. For years he had
lived among savages, observing their ways, and owing to this he had
fallen into a completely detached mental habit. When he returned to
civilization, he had become a confirmed looker-on. He couldn't get back
into touch with us. He remained an outsider.

I met him but once myself. I was in the publishing business at the time,
and, hearing that this man was in New York, I thought I might as well
see him about his next book. Telephoning him, therefore, at his hotel, I
asked him to dine with me on the following Friday.

"Fri-day?" he replied. "What is 'Friday'?" (He spoke English perfectly.)

"It is the twenty-sixth," I answered.

He said: "The twenty-sixth what? Oh, I know," he continued; "Friday is a
day of the week. Thank you very much, but I do not keep track of my
dinners so carefully as that."

This rather odd answer I passed over, at the moment, thinking I had
misunderstood him; and we arranged that he would come some day to my
office instead, after lunch.

The next that I heard, he had called there at a quarter to five, the
hour at which I always leave. My secretary explained to him that I had
gone.

He looked at my desk, on which lay some unfinished business, and said to
my secretary, "Why?"

The man courteously responded, "Because it is a quarter to five."

The explorer thereat laughed weirdly and went off.

I now perceived I had to deal with a most eccentric character; but that
being a necessary evil in the publishing business, I went to his hotel
at nine o'clock that evening. I found him down in the restaurant eating
oatmeal and succotash, and we then and there had the following
extravagant interview,--which I give without comment.

"The book _I_ mean to write," he said, staring at me, "is a study of
actual religions. Other writers have told the world what men of all
countries suppose their religions to be. I shall tell what they really
are."

I said that our house would prefer an account of his travels; but he
paid no attention.

"Men's real religions," he announced, "are unknown to themselves. You
may have heard of the Waam Islanders," he leisurely continued. "They,
for instance, would tell you that their deity was an idol called Bashwa,
a large crumbling stone thing which stands in a copperwood forest. They
worship this idol most faithfully, on the first of each lunar month. No
Waam Islander would ever acknowledge he had any other God but Bashwa.

"But a stranger soon notices that in every hut and cave in that country,
hanging beside the water-jar, is a long sleeping mat, and on that mat a
rough pattern is drawn, like a face. 'What is that?' I asked them. That?
oh, that's G'il,' they answered in an off-hand careless way, without any
of the reverence they would have used if they had thought G'il a god.
But nevertheless I noted that everywhere, throughout that whole island,
submissive remarks about G'il, were far more numerous than those about
Bashwa. That made me begin collecting those references; and presently I
found that most things of which that tribe approved were spoken of as
being g'il, or very g'il, and things they didn't like were damned as
na-g'il.

"It was a little difficult to understand their exact conception of G'il,
but apparently it typified the hut, or the hut point of view. Marriage
was g'il, and good manners and building materials, because they all made
for hut-life. Inhospitality was na-g'il, and the infidelity of women,
and earthquakes, and leaks.

"They sometimes personified G'il and talked of him as he. 'G'il loves
not Wheesha' (the wind); 'G'il comforts the weary'; 'G'il says, "Get
more children."' But all this was only in their fanciful moments. At
other times G'il was merely the mat that they slept on. When I said to
them, 'G'il is your real God,' they laughed at my stupidity--good
humoredly, as though there were something, perhaps, in my idea, yet with
a complacent assurance that I was preposterous. I did not argue with
them. One couldn't, you know. I simply continued my observations,
corroborating my theory at every turn. To give you an instance: Bashwa
is supposed to think highly of hunters and sailors, and the Waam-folk
always profess to think highly of them too. That attitude, however, is
only official, not real. Very few of them actually become sailors. The
life is na-g'il."

He came to a pause.

"I wonder whether we, too, have a G'il," I said, to humor him. "We shall
have to ask some of your Waam-folk to come here and tell us."

The explorer looked me over as though he were "continuing his
observations" of _my_ manners and customs. "Yes," he said, "there's a
white man's G'il."

I regretted having mentioned it.

"Can't you guess what he is?" he inquired. "I say 'he' because, like the
Waam G'il, he is sometimes personified. Come now! Apply the test. He
doesn't typify the Waam Islander point of view: he isn't a mat. But
examine your huts and your conversation, and you'll easily spot him. No,
I'm not talking of money, or power, or success: you may bow down to
these,--but not blindly. You at least know what you are doing. The
worship of a G'il is unconscious, and hence more insidious. Even when an
explorer points it out, you won't see its importance. It will seem
insignificant to you. And yet, while the Bashwa to whom you build
temples is only occasionally deferred to, this G'il of yours sways you
in all things. He is the first whom you think of when you rise, and the
last when you go to bed. You speak of your G'il hourly or oftener, all
day long. Those of you who heed him too little are disapproved of by
everybody, while the American who succeeds in life is the man who is
most careful of G'il.

"I have habits," he morosely continued, "of doing certain
things,--eating my meals for instance,--at quite different hours from
those that are prevalent here. I find that every one who hears of this
is surprised at my ways. Their attitude, while not openly intolerant, is
distinctly disapproving. When I ask them why, I get no answer--no
rational answer. They say simply, 'It's the wrong time.' Following up
this clue I have noticed that not only is the time for performing an act
supposed to be sometimes 'wrong' and sometimes 'right,' but that the
idea of time governs all of you, like an absolute tyrant. Even your
so-called free-thinkers, who lead a life without God, never dream of
daring to live without a clock and a calendar. And just as the Waam-folk
are unconsciously obsessed by their hut-thought, and see everything from
that angle, so you have drifted into an exaggerated pre-occupation with
time. No matter what you may want to do, you first look at the clock, to
see if it is the right time for doing it: if it isn't, you wait. You
feel that you 'ought' to.... And each caste among you has its own hours.
A difference of thirty minutes in the hour at which a family has dinner,
marks a difference in their social scale. 'There isn't time,' you sigh,
submissively, when you give up something you'd like to do. 'Time is
money,' is one of your phrases. 'Give me time,' is your prayer. Your big
books of maxims are full of the respect you feel toward him. 'The
greatest crime is loss of time.' 'Time flies.' 'Time waits for no man.'
These are only small instances, but their total effect is not small, for
it is life itself that you sacrifice to this fetish. Your G'il actually
won't let you take good full draughts of existence--he keeps you so busy
dividing it into months, days, and minutes. You imagine that it is
because you lead crowded lives that you do it. But it is because you're
always thinking of time that you lead crowded lives.

"You are smiling at me good humoredly, my friend. I see that, like the
Waam Islanders, you think I am preposterous. It is the old story. You
cannot view yourself from without. You will admit that considerations of
time enter into all your acts, and yet--this seems trivial? And it is
inconceivable to you that you are its slaves?"

"My dear sir," I interposed, "a strict observance of the laws of time
enables a man to live a much fuller life."

"It is what all devotees say of all gods," he murmured.

"We are not its slaves," I continued. "That's absurd. We have only a
sensible regard for it, as every one must."

"Ah! ah!" he cried. "But you do not say 'one must' when your Bashwa
speaks.

"Your Bashwa thinks highly of those who do good works without ceasing.
You profess to think highly of them too; that is your official attitude.
In reality, how very few of you lead that life. It happens to be
na-g'il, you see. You haven't the time.

"Look about you if you would convince yourself. The concrete evidence
alone is enough. On the breasts or the wrists of your women, and in
every man's pocket you see a G'il amulet, a watch, to remind them of
time every hour. What other god was ever so faithfully worshipped? In
every hut in the land you will find his altar, and in your large huts
you will find one in every principal room. No matter how free and
unconventional their owners may be, no matter how those rooms may vary
in their arrangement or furnishings, there stands always in the most
prominent place the thing called the mantel; on it, ceremonially flanked
by two candlesticks, or vases, sits G'il, the timepiece; and his is the
face of all others you most frequently consult. Blind and idolatrous
tribesman! time is your deity!"

Well, that's all there was to our interview, for at this point he came
to a pause and I rose to leave, explaining to him, soothingly (though I
must confess it had a strangely opposite effect) that I had to go
because it was getting so late.



Annual Report of the League for Improving the Lives of the Rich


To begin with, there is one objection that is constantly made to the
work of this League. Our critics do not understand why we do so much for
the rich. They grant that many rich people are unhappy and lead
miserable lives; but they argue that if they suffer from riches, it must
be their own fault. Nobody would have to stay rich, they say, if he
would just make an effort: and if he has too much money and yet won't
give it away, he must be a bad lot.

We believe these assertions are mistaken in every particular. The rich
are not really a bad lot. We must not judge by appearances. If it
weren't for their money they would be indistinguishable from the rest of
us. But money brings out their weaknesses, naturally. Would it not bring
out ours? A moderate addiction to money may not always be hurtful; but
when taken in excess it is nearly always bad for the health, it limits
one's chance of indulging in nice simple pleasures, and in many cases it
lowers the whole moral tone. The rich admit this--of each other; but
what can they do? Once a man has begun to accumulate money, it is
unnatural to stop. He actually gets in a state where he wants more and
more.

This may seem incomprehensible to those who have never suffered from
affluence, and yet they would feel the same way, in a millionaire's
place. A man begins by thinking that _he_ can have money without being
its victim. He will admit that other men addicted to wealth find it hard
to be moderate, but he always is convinced that he is different and has
more self-control. But the growth of an appetite is determined by
nature, not men, and this is as true of getting money as of anything
else. As soon as a man is used to a certain amount, no matter how large,
his ideas of what is suitable expand. That is the way men are made.

Meanwhile the mere having of money has the effect on most men of
insidiously making them more and more dependent on having it. Of course
a man will hate to believe that this is true of himself, but sooner or
later money affects him as drugs do a dope-fiend. It is not really much
joy to him, but it scares him to think of giving it up. When you urge a
rich man to pull himself together, to summon his manhood and try, only
_try_, for a while to depend on himself, he tells you he'd like to,
perhaps, but he hasn't the strength. He can't take life that way. He
can't face the world even a month without money in the bank.

Even so, why should the rest of us feel it's our duty to help? Why not
wait until the rich come to ask our advice, if they're troubled? Ah,
but they wouldn't. They couldn't. The rich have their pride. Their
unfortunate weakness for money may blacken their lives, but they suffer
in silence. They try to conceal it all from us. Their feverish attempts
to find some sunshine in life every evening, the desperate and futile
migrations they make each few months, and the pathetic mental deadness
of their gatherings, they try to keep private. We might never know to
what straits many rich folk have come, were it not for the newspapers
and their kindly society columns. Bless their noble insistence on
showing us the lives of the rich, their portraying with such faithful
care each detail of their ways!

It is no easy matter to reform these rich people offhand. Just to call
at their houses and advise them, when you aren't too busy--that would be
a kindness, of course, but quite far from a cure. Besides, they might
even resent your little calls as intrusions. A good-hearted reformer
would certainly endanger his comfort, and he might risk his life, trying
to get in past rich people's butlers. Don't go in those districts at
all, that is this League's advice. The drinking, bad language, the
quarrels and shooting affrays, armed watchmen, fast motors--all these
make those streets quite unsuited for decent folks' use.

What, then, shall we do? We can't just walk selfishly off and go mind
our own business. The rich are our brothers. How can the rest of us let
ourselves be truly happy when our brothers are suffering?

That's where this League steps forward. This League will provide ways in
which any reformer can help.

  (1) It plans to establish neighborhood houses in all the rich centers,
  where those who can stand it can go and live just like the rich. It
  will thus enable a few of us to mingle with them, day by day, and
  gradually brighten their outlook and better their standards.

  (2) It will send trained welfare workers to inspect the most desperate
  cases and gently reform one by one their conditions of living.

  (3) It will instruct volunteers in the best methods of rich relief
  work, especially methods of relieving the rich of their wealth.

The most common type we treat is the man who is making great efforts to
keep other people from getting his money away from him. Such a man is
always in a nervous, excitable state. In fact our statistics show that
many died from this strain. The typical case gets a temperature daily,
from what he sees in the papers, about the attacks which radical persons
are constantly making on property. Inflammation sets in, and his
outbursts grow more noisy and violent. He practically racks himself to
pieces. It is a most painful end.

Other men try to invest money securely. This is a strain too. It leads
to constant worries and losses, no matter what they invest in. Again,
every man of means is exposed to innumerable skillful appeals to devote
all he has to some new educational uses, or to lend it to friends in
great need, or give aid to the sick. These appeals are so pressing that
it wears out a man's strength to refuse them; and yet, since they are
endless, he must. He can't give to them all. He must practice ways of
dodging the determined askers who hunt him and trail him. Rich women,
alone with their mail on a bright sunny morning, must learn to throw
even the most pathetic circulars in the waste-paper-basket. In other
words they must harden their hearts. But that hardens their arteries. It
also gives them a disagreeable disposition; and that's quite a load.

It means much to the rich when our League takes these weights off their
minds.

But the best way to give an idea of the good we are doing, will be to
cite just a few special cases we have helped in the past:


CASE 102

Case 102 was a wealthy and ignorant girl who was found one cold morning
exhibiting toy dogs at a show. The dogs had been fed heartily, but the
poor girl had had nothing to eat but raw carrots, which she had been
told she must live on, to help her complexion. She had a hardened
disposition, dull outlook, and deficient physique. Her home was like a
furniture warehouse, especially her bedroom, a huge, over-decorated
chamber, where she slept all alone. After a friendly study had been made
of her case, her money was quietly taken away by degrees, this being
accomplished with the aid of an old family lawyer, who was genuinely
interested in helping his clients all he could in this way; and when
this girl had thus reached a healthfully destitute state, a husband was
found for her in the janitor of a Hoboken flat. This man is often kind
to her when she does well in her work. She is not yet happy, but she is
interested intensely in life. When we last saw this case, she was
occupying a dark but cozy sub-basement, where she was sleeping three in
a bed and had six children, though only four are now living with her,
the others having run off; and her days were filled to the brim with
wholesome toil.


Case 176

Case 176 was an elderly clubman who had for many years terrorized his
small family, his outbreaks being attributed by him to the coffee. He
said and believed that if his coffee were carefully made, he would be
content. Investigation showed that it wasn't this but his money which
was the root of the trouble. By nature a fighter, what he needed was
plenty of personal conflicts, but his money had led to his living a
sheltered life which gave him no scope. He had so much wealth that it
took two nerve specialists over six months, in fact it took them nearly
a year, before the amount of their bills had eaten up all his property.
When this was done, however, employment was secured for the old
gentleman on the police force, where his peculiar gift of ferocity could
find more room for use. The coffee in the station-house, fortunately,
was execrable, and this stirred him to a pitch which soon made him the
ablest patrolman in his ward. He was then sent to clean up the three
toughest districts in town, which he did with the utmost rigor in less
than four days, completely overawing, single-handed, their turbulent
gangs. At the police parade, recently, he was given a medal, the gift of
a citizens' committee which admired his work. At the head of this
committee, it may be added, was his former pastor, who had often
reproached him in the old days for his profanity and violence. It is
these very qualities that are now enabling him to do such good work, and
thus winning him a warm place in the community's heart. Meantime a
letter of gratitude has been received by the League from his family, who
have been removed to a quiet industrial farm in Connecticut, and whose
thankfulness is touching for the peace that has come into their lives.


CASE 190

Case 190 was a baffling one in some ways. It was that of a dyspeptic
society woman who spent her evenings at functions. She suffered greatly
from colds, yet felt obliged to wear large, chilly collars of diamonds,
and to sit in an open opera box unprotected from drafts. Although
fretful and unhappy, she nevertheless objected most strongly to trying a
life without money; so our district visitors had to devise other
methods.

They began by removing several disease-breeding pets from the home. They
then had the French chef deported, and taught the woman to live on a few
simple dishes. These alleviatory arrangements resulted in some slight
improvement. Like all half-way measures, however, they left her cure
incomplete.

Then, almost by accident, a dealer in investment securities lost most of
her fortune. The balance was taken by some cheery university presidents,
who made her build infirmaries for them in spite of rebuffs. Soon after
she thus had been thrown on her own resources at last, a place was found
for her to do ironing in a nice warm steam laundry, one of the
high-grade ones where all the corrosives are put in by hand. The light
exercise this work gives her has cured her dyspepsia. She now gets
through at nine-thirty evenings, instead of sitting up till past
midnight; and as she can wear a red-flannel undersuit, she has no more
colds.

       *       *       *       *       *

Other cases must be summarized instead of presented in detail. Anæmic
young belles who used to be kept in ill-ventilated rooms every night,
are sent for and taken to those open piers on the river, where they can
dance with strong, manly grocers, or aldermen even, and where the river
breezes soon bring back a glow to their cheeks. Gentlemen suffering from
obesity have been carried to an old-fashioned woodyard to work, or, if
entirely unskilled, they are given jobs helping plumbers. Hundreds of
desperate children have been rescued from nurse girls, who were
punishing them for romping and shouting, and shackling them in starched
clothing. These children we try to turn loose on the lively East Side,
where they can join in the vigorous games of the slums. Most rewarding
of all, perhaps, are the young men of means who have been saved from
lives of indescribable folly, and who, through the simple abolition of
inherited wealth, have been made into self-supporting, responsible
citizens.

I cannot say more of the League's work in this brief report. But I must
end by admitting that though we have done all we could, the hidden
distress that still exists in rich homes is widespread. Families
continue to engage in poisonous quarrels, idleness and chronic
unemployment remain unabated, and discontent is gradually darkening the
minds of its victims, depriving them of true mental vigor and even of
sleep.

On the good side we have the fact that the nation appears to be roused.
It is not roused very much, but it takes more interest than it once did,
at least. To leave the rich to wrestle with their fortunes, alone and
unaided, as was done in our grandfathers' times, seems unnatural in
ours.

On the other hand, frankly, there is as yet no cure in sight. The
difficulty is to devise legislation which will absorb excess wealth. At
first sight this seems easy, and many new laws have been passed which
the rich themselves have predicted would immediately reduce them to
indigence. But somehow no law has yet done this. So we must just
struggle on.



From Noah to Now


In the days of Father Noah life was sweet--life was sweet.
  He played the soft majubal every day.
And for centuries and centuries he never crossed the street,
  Much less supposed he'd ever move away.
But times grew bad and men grew bad, all up and down the land,
  And the soft majubal got all out of key;
And when the weather changed, besides, 'twas more than he could stand.
  So Father Noah he packed and put to sea.

And "Yo-ho-ho," with a mournful howl, said the poor old boy to Ham;
And "Yo-ho-ho," sang Japhet, and a pink but tuneful clam;
And "Yo-ho-ho," cried the sheep, and Shem, and a pair of protozoa:
"We're a-going to roam till we find a home that will suit old Father Noah."

There used to be rumors of a country that men called Atlantis. It was
said to lie far out at sea. A magnificent country. The people there were
happier and freer than anywhere else. It was also a land where it was no
trouble at all to be rich, and where strangers were treated as equals
and welcomed as friends. Until it disappeared so mysteriously it was
like an America, a land to which the people of those ancient times
longed to go.

I dreamed once that it had not disappeared, after all, but that it was
still to be found if you took a long voyage, and that it was happier and
freer and finer than ever. And I wanted to go there. I dreamed that
America had got itself in such trouble that thousands of people were
leaving to live in Atlantis. This part of my dream was a nightmare, and
not at all clear, but my recollection is that we'd elected Amy Lowell as
President. And she said her understanding was that she'd been elected
for life; and when any one disagreed with her, she sent a porter around
to cut off his head. And decade after decade passed by, and she danced
with the Senate, and made us sing to her at sunrise on the steps of the
White House. And she wrote all the hymns. So we wanted to move to
Atlantis.

But it wasn't at all easy to emigrate and give up America. In spite of
the way that Amy beheaded us, we were fond of our country. And we knew
if we went to another we mightn't come back. You can imagine how it
would feel, perhaps, if you yourself were leaving America, and looking
for the last time at all the little things in your room, and walking for
the last time in the streets or the fields you knew best. And the day
before sailing you would go around seeing your friends, and saying
good-by to them, knowing you wouldn't see them again. And then on the
last day you'd sit for a while with your mother, and she would talk of
your plans and your comforts, and you'd both be quite calm. And the hour
to go would come; and you'd kiss her. And she'd suddenly cling to
you....

[Illustration: A porter was sent around to cut off his head]

Then the ship, and the steam-whistles calling, and the gray, endless
sea. And you up on deck, day by day, staring out at the waters; and
seeing not them but your loved ones, or bits of your home: wondering if
you'd been courageous to leave it, or cold, and a fool.

But the sunsets and dawns, and the winds--strong and clean--would bring
peace. You would think of the new world you were sailing to, and of how
good it would be there, and of how you would prosper, and the long,
happy life you would lead.... And the voyage would come to an end, and
you'd sail up the harbor.

[Illustration: "Okkabab! See them clothes!"]

Then at the dock, men in strange clothing would shout orders at you;
"Peely wush, okka Hoogs! Peely wush! Okkabab!" and you would discover
that peely wush meant hurry up, and that okka was a swear word and that
when they said Hoog they meant you. It would be a comic nickname, you
know: as we say Chinks for Chinamen. And they'd hustle you Hoogs off the
ship, and shove you around on the pier, and examine your eyes and your
pocket-books, and at last set you free.

And there you would be, in Atlantis, where people were happy.

But you'd find at the start that Atlantis was busy and rough; and parts
of the city would be dirty and have a bad smell. And then you would find
that the Hoogs mostly lived in those parts, and had to work at pretty
nearly anything to pay for their lodging. You'd see Americans that you
knew; Senator Smoot, perhaps, sewing shirts; and the Rev. Samuel Drury
would be standing in the street peddling shoestrings. The reason for
this would be that until they knew what okkabab meant, and could read
and write the language of Atlantis, and spell its odd spellings, and
pronounce it without too much of an American accent, they couldn't get
any but unskilled and underpaid jobs. Meantime they would look to a
native like cheap, outlandish peddlers. Even their own fellow-immigrants
would try to exploit them. And instead of their finding it easy to get
rich, as they'd hoped, they would be so hard up that they'd have to
fight like wolves for each nickel.

Your American clothes would be another difficulty, because they'd be
laughed at. You'd have to buy and learn to wear the kind of things they
wore in Atlantis. And your most polite ways would seem rude in Atlantis,
or silly; so you'd have to learn _their_ rules of politeness, which
would strike _you_ as silly. And you'd have to learn habits of living
which would often amaze you; and if you were slow to adopt them, they'd
class you as queer. Their ideas of joking would also be different from
yours; and you'd slowly and awkwardly discover what was fun in Atlantis.

You'd have to change yourself in so many ways, your old friends wouldn't
know you. Pretty soon you wouldn't be an American at all any longer. And
yet you would never feel wholly an Atlantisan either. Your children
would look down on you as a greenhorn, and laugh at your slips. They
would seem unsympathetic, or different,--not quite your own children.

The natives of Atlantis would help you along, once in a while, by giving
you lectures and telling you not to read your home paper. But you, who
had felt so adventurous and bold, when you started, would have to get
used to their regarding you as a comic inferior. Not even your children
would know what you had had to contend with. Not one of the natives
would try to put himself in your place.

Yet how could they? How could any one who hadn't gone through the
experience? It is a complicated matter to learn to belong to a strange
country, when the process includes making yourself over to fit other
men's notions.

It was easy for Noah: all he had to get used to was Ararat.



Sic Semper Dissenters


Written during the war-time censorship of our late Postmaster-General.

    In the town of Hottentottenville an aged Hottentot,
      Whose name was Hottentotten-tillypoo,
    Was slowly hottentottering around a vacant lot,
      With a vacant look upon his higaboo.
    Now higaboo is Hottentot, as you may know, for face,
    And to wear a vacant look upon your face is a disgrace.
    But poor old Mr. Tillypoo, he had no other place--
      Though I understand it grieved him through and thru.

    He was grubbing up potatoes in an aimless sort of way,
      Which really was the only way he had,
    And an officer was watching him to see what he would say,
      And arrest him if the things he said were bad.
    For it seems this wretched Tillypoo had gone and had the thought
    That his neighbors didn't always do exactly as they ought;
    And as this was rank sedition, why, they hoped to see him caught,
      For it naturally made them pretty mad.

    So the men of Hottentottenville, they passed a little law,
      Which they called the Hotta-Shotta-Shootum Act,
    Which fixed it so the postman was a sort of Grand Bashaw,
      Who determined what was false and what was fact.
    And the postman sentenced Tillypoo, and wouldn't hear his wails,
    But gave him twenty years apiece in all the local jails,
    And said he couldn't vote no more, and barred him from the mails,
      And expressed the hope that this would teach him tact.

    Well, the last I heard of Tilly he was planning not to think,
      And he'd tied a piece of string around his tongue,
    And he never went within a mile of either pen or ink,
      And he always stood when _any_ song was sung.
    And maybe you are thinking that his fate was rather tough,
    But what I say is, not a bit, they didn't do enough.
    When anybody differs with you, dammit, treat 'em rough,
      Why, they ought to be bub-boiled alive and hung!



Humpty-Dumpty and Adam


It is not only every country that has its own language. It is each
generation. The books and family letters of our grandfathers are not
quite in our dialect. And so of the books of their grandfathers, and the
letters they wrote. These dialects are not so different from ours that
we can't make them out: they sound a little queer, that is all. Just as
our own way of talking and writing (and thinking) will seem so quaint to
our descendants that they'll put us away on the shelves.

A few books are written in a tongue that all times understand.

A few of us are linguists and have learned to enjoy the books of all
ages.

For the rest, agèd books need translation into the speech of the day.

The poets of each generation seldom sing a new song. They turn to themes
men always have loved, and sing them in the mode of their times. Each
new tribe of artists perpetually repaints the same pictures. The
story-men tell the same stories. They remain fresh and young.

The disguise is new sometimes, but never the story behind it. A few
generations ago, when some one wrote Humpty-Dumpty, he was merely
retelling an old story for the men of his era, one of the oldest of
stories, the first part of Genesis.

It is a condensed account--it leaves out the serpent and Eve and the
apple. Some editor blue-penciled these parts, perhaps, as fanciful
little digressions. "Stick to the main theme," said the editor, "don't
go wandering off into frills. Your story is about the fall of Adam. Get
on. Make him fall."

"I had intended to introduce a love-interest," the author of
Humpty-Dumpty explained.

"A love interest!" sneered the editor. "You should have waited to be
born in the twentieth century. These are manlier times. Give us men and
adventure and fate."

"And what about the garden," the author sighed. "Must that be cut too?"

"By all means. Change the garden. It's a pretty enough idea in romance.
But a realist who has worked in one, knows that a garden's no paradise.
Genesis got it just wrong. Adam should have been exiled from town as a
punishment, and put to slave in a garden."

"But town isn't paradise either. We've got to start him in paradise."

"Dear me," said the editor. "There's only one place left to put the
fellow, and that's on the wall. 'Adam sat on a wall.' Begin that way."

[Illustration: Cinderella]

"I'm calling him Humpty-Dumpty," the author said. "It makes it less
tragic. It suggests that the fall didn't hurt Man so much after all."

"Which is true," said the editor.

I wish I had known that author. He had a kind heart. He has changed even
the unforgiving cherubim in the Genesis story to those King's men who
try in such a friendly way to restore Humpty-Dumpty. But the story can't
let them. That would leave the hero back on his wall again--like some
Greek philosopher. This other way, we think of him as starting out to
conquer the world.

Humpty-Dumpty is a story for boys. Cinderella for girls. In Cinderella
five able females, two old and three young, contend most resourcefully
to capture one stupid young man. It is a terrible story. The beautiful
surface barely masks the hungry wiles underneath. But it's true. It
depicts the exact situation a marrying girl has to face; and, even while
she's a tot in the nursery, it reminds her to plan.

But these are examples of stories that live, and last for more than one
age. The mortality is heavier in other fields. For instance, philosophy.
Great philosophical works of past eras are still alive in a sense, but
they dwell among us as foreigners do, while Mother Goose has been
naturalized.

Modern philosophies are so different. Not many centuries ago, in those
eras when few changes took place, men thought of the world as something
to study, instead of to mold. It was something to appropriate and
possess, to be sure, but not to transform.

Humpty-Dumpty sat on the wall, then. He hadn't begun his new life.

There were few inventors in those old times, and few of those few were
honored. Edison among the Greeks would have been as lonely as Plato with
us.

Civilization was Thought. It was measured by what men knew and felt of
eternal things. It was wisdom.

Civilization to-day is invention: it is measured by our control over
nature. If you remind a modern that nature is not wholly ductile, he is
profoundly discouraged! "We _expect_ to make over and control our
world." We not only assume it is possible, we assume it is best.

What is democracy but a form of this impulse, says Professor George
Plimpton Adams, "bidding man not to content himself with any political
order thrust upon him, but actively to construct that order so that it
does respond to his own nature"?

"Not contemplation ... but creative activity," that is our modern
attitude.

Well, it's all very interesting.

Will and Wisdom are both mighty leaders. Our times worship Will.

[Illustration: Will and Wisdom]



How It Looks to a Fish


The most ordinary steamship agent, talking to peasants in Europe, can
describe America in such a way that those peasants will start there at
once. But the most gifted preacher can't get men to hurry to heaven.

All sorts of prophets have dreamed of a heaven, and they have imagined
all kinds; they have put houris in the Mahometan's paradise, and swords
in Valhalla. But in spite of having carte blanche they have never
invented a good one.

A man sits in his pew, hearing about harps and halos and hymns, and when
it's all over he goes home and puts on his old wrapper. "I suppose I can
stand it," he thinks. "I've stood corns and neuritis. But I just hate
the idea of floating around any such region."

[Illustration: "I've stood corns and neuritis--"]

Some persons may want to go to heaven so as to keep out of hell, or to
get away from misery here--if they are in great enough misery. Others
think of it as a place to meet friends in, or as a suitable destination
for relatives. But the general idea is it's like being cast away in the
tropics: the surroundings are gorgeous, and it's pleasant and warm--but
not home.

It seems too bad that heaven should always be somehow repugnant, and
unfit as it were for human habitation. Isn't there something we can do
about it?

I fear there is not.

[Illustration: "But I just hate the idea of floating"]

Assuming that we are immortal, what happens to a man when he dies? It is
said by some that at first the surroundings in his new life seem
shadowy, but after a bit they grow solid; and then it is the world left
behind that seems vague. You lose touch with it and with those whom you
knew there--except when they think of you. When they think of you,
although you can see them, and feel what they're thinking, it isn't like
hearing the words that they say, or their voices; it's not like looking
over their shoulders to see what they write; it's more like sensing what
is in their thoughts.

But at first you are too bewildered to do this. You are in a new world,
and you find yourself surrounded by spirits, telling you that you're
dead. The spiritualists say that many new arrivals refuse to believe
they are dead, and look around skeptically at heaven, and think they are
dreaming. It often takes a long time to convince them. This must be
rather awkward. It's as though no one who arrived in Chicago would
believe he was there, but went stumbling around, treating citizens as
though they weren't real, and saying that he doubted whether there was
any such place as Chicago.

But if there is any truth in this picture, it explains a great deal. If
the spirits themselves cannot clearly take in their new life at first,
how can we on this side of the barrier ever understand what it's like?
And, not understanding, what wonder we don't find it attractive?

You can't describe one kind of existence to those in another.

Suppose, for example, we were describing dry land to a fish.

"We have steam-heat and sun-sets," I might tell him--just for a
beginning.

And the fish would think: "Heat? Phew! that's murderous! And oh, that
sizzling old sun!"

"We have legs," I might add.

"What are legs?"

"Things to walk on. They're like sticks, that grow right on our bodies.
We do not use fins."

"What, no fins! Why, with fins, just a flicker will shoot me in any
direction. Legs are clumsy and slow: think of tottering around on such
stumps! And you can only go on the level with them; you can't rise and
dip."

"Yes, we can. We build stairs."

"But how primitive!"

Perhaps he would ask me what drawbacks there were to earthly existence;
and how he would moan when I told him about bills and battles.

"And is it true," he might say, "that there really are beings called
dentists? Weird creatures, who pull your poor teeth out, and hammer your
mouths? Bless my gills! It sounds dreadful! Don't ask me to leave my
nice ocean!"

Then, to be fair, he might ask, "What's the other side of the picture,
old man? What pleasures have you that would tempt me? What do you do to
amuse yourselves?" And I would tell him about Charlie Chaplin, and
Geraldine Farrar, and business, and poetry--but how could I describe
Charlie Chaplin from the fish point of view? And poetry?--getting
ecstasy from little black dots on a page? "You get soulful over _that_
kind of doings?" he would ask, with a smile. "Well, all right, but it
sounds pretty crazy to a sensible fish."

"Business is the main thing here, anyhow," I'd answer.

"And what's 'business'?"

"Well, it's--er--it's like this: Suppose you, for instance, were to go
and catch a great many flies--"

[Illustration: He smiled dreamily]

The fish would look pleased and smile dreamily.

"But then not eat them, mind you."

"Not _eat_ them?"

"No, but put them all out on a bit of flat rock, for a counter, and
'sell' them to other fish: exchange them, I mean--for shells, let us
say, if you used shells as money."

[Illustration: And what would I do with shells?]

The fish would look puzzled. "But what _for_, my dear sir?" he'd
inquire. "What would I do with shells?"

"Exchange them for flies again, see?"

"O my soul! what a life!"



A Hopeful Old Bigamist


There are any number of difficulties and bumps along the roads of this
world, and yet there are plenty of easy-going people who never prepare
for them. They take all such things as they come. Some are buoyant, some
fearless.

[Illustration: You may die any minute!]

But within the last hundred years, large companies have been organized
to go after these people, and catch them alone somewhere and give them a
good thorough fright. These companies hire men who are experts at that
sort of thing; men who make it their life-work to find fearless persons
and scare them.

But no matter how ambitious and active these experts may be, they cannot
catch every one personally. It would take too much time. So they write
gloomy advertisements which are designed to scare people in general.

These advertisements are a characteristic feature of our civilization.

Man goes down-town, whistling, sunny morning. Happens to pick up a
magazine. Immediately he gets hit in the eye with a harrowing picture.
Sometimes it is one that reminds him he may die any minute, and depicts
his widow and children limping around in the streets, hunting crusts. Or
it may be a picture of his house burning up, or his motor upsetting. Or
an illness, and there he is lying flat and weak on his bed.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: Ah!--Her husband didn't insure]

After he has seen a good many of such pictures, he grows quiet. Stops
whistling. He learns how to worry, and he worries off and on till it
hurts. Then, to get some relief, he makes a contract with one of those
companies, which provides him with what we call insurance, for an annual
tribute.

I hope no one will think I am disparaging insurance, which is a useful
arrangement. It enables many of us to pool our risks and be protected
from hardship. And the best companies nowadays handle the thing very
well. They scare a person as little as possible. They just gently
depress him. They inflict just enough mental torture to get him to put
in his money. It is only when he is stubborn about it that they give him
the cold chills.

Every century has some such institution. The Inquisition was worse.

Like insurance, it had high ideals, but peculiar methods.

Insurance men, however, are steadily improving their methods. Instead of
always reminding you how awful it is not to insure, they sometimes print
brighter pictures, which show how happy you will feel if you do. For
instance, a picture of a postman bringing a check to your widow. Your
widow is thanking the postman, her face full of joy. Sometimes the old
president of the company is shown in the upper left corner, writing out
the check personally, as soon as he hears of your death. Or maybe they
leave out the president and put in your infant son, for good measure.
He is playing in his innocent way with his dead father's cane, and the
widow, with a speculative eye on him, is thoughtfully murmuring, "As
soon as he is old enough I must insure my little boy too."

       *       *       *       *       *

In the days before it was possible to insure, there was even more gloom.
Light-hearted people may have worried less, but the rest worried more.
They could save enough money for the future if it was sufficiently
distant, but not for a serious disaster that might come too soon. This
darkened their outlook. They had no one to trust in but God.

There has always been a great deal of talk about trusting in God, but
human beings incline to be moderate and cautious in trying it. As a rule
no one does it unless he has to.

Not even the clergymen.

A few years ago a fund was formed, in the Episcopal Church, to pay agèd
ministers pensions, so they would never be destitute. This brought the
greatest happiness to many of them who were approaching decrepitude.
Letters came in from ministers who had worried in silence for years,
with no one to trust but the Deity, whose plans might be strange. They
described how they had wept with relief, when this fund was established.
Printed copies of these letters were mailed to all the good Christians
who had contributed, to show them how much true joy and happiness their
money had brought, and how thankful the clergy were to have something
solid to trust, like a pension.

When a pastor with a pension is in the pulpit, looking around at his
flock, suppose he sees that some of them are needy and have no pensions
coming? If imaginative enough, he will sympathize with their poor
fearful hearts, and advise them as wisely as possible. But there's not
much to say. The only course for such folk is to try to trust God, who
is mighty, and meantime be frugal and save every cent that they can.

Some day, he prays, we all shall have pensions.

       *       *       *       *       *

And suppose a man isn't religious, what had he better trust? His money,
or his own native mettle?

I should like to trust both.

But they tell me that that is impracticable. Won't work at all. I can
_have_ some of both, of course. Certainly. But I cannot _trust_ both.

Like all other men I have my own inner fountain of strength, and it's
been a faithful old thing; it has done a lot for me. It has vigor in it
yet--but it isn't big and fiery, or strong. I could only have made it
work abundantly if I had relied wholly on it. If I had done that, it
would have probably called out my full powers. But instead I have
relied partly on money, for fear my strength might desert me; and that
fear has naturally had an effect on my strength. I work hard, but with
less fire. Less eagerness. Progressively less. Any man who doesn't trust
his spirit will find it will ebb.

And the same's true of money. Unless you are in love with your wealth,
it will slip through your fingers. If you want to get a whole lot of
money, worship gold all your days.

This isn't a sure recipe, I must add, to get a whole lot of money. I
should be sorry to have my readers spring out of their chairs at these
words, and rush happily off to make money their god, so as to be
millionaires. It doesn't work so quickly or surely as that, I admit. But
this much is true, anyhow: if you do not care enough about money you
will hardly grow rich. You must be pretty devoted to win a jealous
mistress like gold.

They are both jealous mistresses, that's the worst of it.

It is an awkward predicament.

       *       *       *       *       *

I don't like to face this problem squarely. I don't get it settled. I
keep on, like a hopeful old bigamist, in love with both mistresses: my
money and my spirit or mettle.

I try to soothe each. I say to my mettle, "I care much more for you
than for money: it's true that I keep money, too; but it's you that I
love. You and I are one, aren't we? Very well, then. Come on. Let's be
happy."

And I say to my money, "Now be faithful: for God's sake be faithful:
don't slip off and desert me and leave me alone in the world." She looks
jealously at me. "Alone?" she says; "how about that mettle of yours,
you're so fond of?" "Ah, my dear," I say sadly, giving her an
affectionate squeeze, "my mettle is no better than she should be. I
don't like to talk of it. You are the one that I expect to comfort me in
my dark moments; and I hope you and I will be here together long after
my mettle has gone."

There you have my ménage. It's been difficult. But I cannot complain. As
a bigamist I suppose on the whole I've been fairly successful. Yet I
know I'd have more money to-day--I think a great deal more money--if I
had been more faithful to Mammon, as they call the poor creature. And
similarly I might have led an heroic, ardent life with my mettle, if I
had ever trusted it fully.

That's the trouble with bigamy.



The Revolt of Capital


Once upon a time all the large corporations were controlled by labor.
The whole system was exactly the opposite of what it is now. It was
labor that elected the directors, and the officers too. Capital had no
representatives at all in the management.

It was a curious period. Think of capital having no say, even about its
own rates! When a concern like the United Great Steel Co., was in need
of more capital, the labor man who was at the head of it, President
Albert H. Hairy, went out and hired what he wanted on the best terms he
could. Sometimes these terms seemed cruelly low to the capitalists, but
whenever one of them grumbled he was paid off at once, and his place was
soon taken by another who wasn't so uppish. This made for discipline and
improved the service.

Under this régime--as under most others--there was often mismanagement.
Those in control paid themselves too well--as those in control sometimes
do. Failures and reorganizations resulted from this, which reduced the
usual return to the workers and made them feel gloomy; but as these
depressions threw capitalists out of employment, and thus made capital
cheaper, they had their bright side.

The capitalists, however, grumbled more and more. Even when they were
well paid and well treated they grumbled. No matter how much they got,
they felt they weren't getting their dues. They knew that labor elected
the management; and they knew human nature. Putting these two premises
together, they drew the conclusion that labor was probably getting more
than its share, and capital less. President Hairy, of the Steel Co.,
explained to them this couldn't be true, because the market for capital
was a free and open market. He quoted a great many economic laws that
proved it, and all the professors of economy said he was right. But the
capitalists wouldn't believe in these laws, because they weren't on
their side, nor would they read any of the volumes the professors
composed. They would read only a book that an old German capitalist
wrote--a radical book which turned economics all upside-down and said
that capital ought to start a class war and govern the world.

Discontent breeds agitation. Agitation breeds professional agitators. A
few unruly loud-voiced capitalists climbed up on soap-boxes and began to
harangue their quiet comrades, just to stir up needless trouble. When
arrested, they invoked (as they put it) the right of free speech. The
labor men replied by invoking things like law and order. Everybody
became morally indignant at something. The press invoked the Fathers of
the Republic, Magna Charta, and Justice. Excited and bewildered by this
crossfire, the police one evening raided a Fifth avenue club, where a
capitalist named M. R. Goldman was talking in an incendiary way to his
friends. "All honest law-abiding capitalists will applaud this raid,"
said the papers. But they didn't. They began to feel persecuted. And
presently some capitalists formed what they called a union.

It was only a small union, that first one, but it had courage. One
afternoon President Hairy looked up from his desk to find four stout,
red-faced capitalists pushing each other nervously into his office. He
asked them their business. They huskily demanded that every capitalist
on that company's books be paid at least a half per cent more for his
money. The president refused to treat with them except as individuals.
They then called a strike.

The results of this first strike were profoundly discouraging. The
leaders were tried for conspiracy, those who walked out at their call
were blacklisted, and the victorious labor men soon secured other
capitalists in plenty, a private car-load being brought over from
Philadelphia at night. The labor leaders became so domineering in their
triumph they refused to engage capitalists who drank or who talked of
their wrongs. They began importing cheap foreign capital to supply all
new needs. But these measures of oppression only increased the class
feeling of capitalists and taught them to stand shoulder to shoulder in
the fight for their rights.

The years of warfare that followed were as obstinate as any in history.
Little by little, in spite of the labor men's sneers, the enormous power
of capital made itself felt. An army of unemployed capitalists marched
upon Washington. The Brotherhood of Railway Bondholders, being indicted
for not buying enough new bonds to move the mails, locked up every
dollar they possessed and defied the Government. The Industrial
Shareholders of the World, a still more rabid body, insisted on having
an eight per cent law for their money. All great cities were the scenes
of wild capitalist riots. Formerly indifferent citizens were alarmed and
angered by seeing their quiet streets turned into Bedlam at night, with
reckless old capitalists roaring through them in taxis, singing Yankee
Boodle or shouting "Down with labor!" For that finally became the cry:
labor must go. They still meant to use labor, somehow, they confusedly
admitted, but capital and not labor must have absolute control of all
industries.

As the irrepressible conflict forced its way into politics, Congress
made statesmanlike efforts to settle the problem. After earnest and
thoughtful debate they enacted a measure which made the first Monday in
September a holiday, called Capital Day. As this hoped-for cure did not
accomplish much they attempted another, by adding a Secretary of Capital
to the President's cabinet. Conservative people were horrified. But
Congress was pushed even further. It was persuaded to prohibit employing
the capital of women and children, and it ordered all Japanese capital
out of the country. On one point, however, Congress was obstinate and
would not budge an inch. They wouldn't give capital full control of the
railroads and mills.

The capitalists themselves were obliged to realize, gradually, that this
could be at best but a beautiful dream. It seemed there was one great
argument against it: labor men were a unit in believing the scheme
wouldn't work. How could scattered investors, who had not worked at an
industry, elect--with any intelligence--the managers of it? Even liberal
labor men said that the idea was preposterous.

       *       *       *       *       *

At this moment a citizen of East Braintree, Mass., stepped forward, and
advocated a compromise. He said in effect:

"The cause of our present industrial turmoil is this: The rulers that
govern our industries are not rightly elected. Our boards of directors
may be called our industrial legislatures; they manage a most important
part of our national life; but they are chosen by only one group of
persons. No others can vote. If Congress were elected by a class, as our
boards of directors are, this country would be constantly in a state of
revolution politically, just as it is now industrially." That was his
argument.

"Both those who do the work and those who put in the money should
rightfully be represented in these governing bodies." That was his cure.
If corporations would adopt this democratic organization, he said,
two-sided discussions would take place at their meetings. "These
discussions would tend to prevent the adoption of policies that now
create endless antagonism between labor and capital." And he went on to
point out the many other natural advantages.

This compromise was tried. At first it naturally made labor angry, labor
having been in exclusive control for so long. Many laborers declined to
have anything to do with concerns that were run by "low ignorant
speculators," as they called them, "men who knew nothing of any
concern's real needs." Ultimately, however, they yielded to the trend of
the times. Democratic instead of autocratic control brought about
team-play. Men learned to work together for their common good.

Of course capitalists and laborers did not get on any too well together.
Self-respecting men on each side hated the other side's ways--even their
ways of dressing and talking, and amusing themselves. The workers talked
of the dignity of labor and called capital selfish. On the other hand,
ardent young capitalists who loved lofty ideals, complained that the
dignity of capital was not respected by labor. These young men despised
all non-capitalists on high moral grounds. They argued that every such
man who went through life without laying aside any wealth for those to
come, must be selfish by nature and utterly unsocial at heart. There
always are plenty of high moral grounds for both sides.

But this mere surface friction was hardly heard of, except in the pages
of the radical capitalist press. There were no more strikes,--that was
the main thing. The public was happy.

At least, they were happy until the next problem came along to be
solved.



Still Reading Away?


[Illustration]

    Still reading away at your paper?
      Still sitting at editors' feet?
                (Clay feet!)
    Oh, why do you muse on their views of the news,
      When breezes are sweet in the street?
    There's a bit of cloud flying by in the sky.
      Tomorrow 'twill be far away.
    There's a slip of a girl, see her dance to my song!
      Tomorrow she'll be old and gray.
                Come along!
    There's music and sunshine and life in the street,
      But ah, you must take them today.



Portraits



A Wild Polish Hero and the Reverend Lyman Abbott


The books a man likes best are those with somebody in them like him. I
don't say it isn't a pleasure to read about others, but if he too is
there it's still better. And when he is the hero--ah! It's like living a
whole extra life.

[Illustration: Ah! when _I_ am the hero!]

But there is no drawing back, once you put yourself into some
character--you must do all that he does, no matter how you hate his
mistakes. I remember once identifying myself with a dissolute Pole, in a
novel, who led me a dance that I haven't forgotten yet. I ought never to
have let myself fancy that I was that fellow. He was moody, excitable,
he drank more brandy than I was prepared to; he talked most
bombastically. He made the most pitiful jokes. But what took my eye in
him was this: he was sincere with himself. He was only twenty-five years
of age, but though young, he was honest. When he was in love with two
women he never dodged facing it squarely. He deceived the two women, I
grant you, but most heroes deceive themselves, too. They tell themselves
some pretty story in dilemmas like that. This Pole always saw through
_his_ stories. He questioned his heart, and listened with reasonable
honesty to its responses.

[Illustration: He deceived the two women]

Our capacity for analyzing and criticizing our natures is wonderful.
When a man is without self-awareness, I feel toward him as
I do toward animals.

I admire the animals. I am glad I am not one myself--life in the wilds
must be awful--but animals are healthy and sound; and some are good, and
intelligent. Men who can't analyze themselves may be good and
intelligent also. But they are not advanced beings.

[Illustration: I'd hate to be a wild animal]

The test of a civilized person is first self-awareness, and then depth
after depth of sincerity in self-confrontation. "Unhealthy?" Why,
certainly! "Risky?" Yes; like all exploring. But unless you are capable
of this kind of thinking, what are you? No matter how able or great, you
are still with the animals.

Here and there is a person who achieves this in ways of his own. Not
through brain-work alone, or most surely, can insight be won. A few have
by nature a true yet instinctive self-knowledge. But that takes a pure
soul. The tricks of self-deceiving are too many and ingenious for most
of us....

Speaking of pure souls reminds me of the editor of the Outlook, good old
Lyman Abbott, although his is unfortunately the kind that is tastelessly
pure. He's as wholesome and good as oatmeal is, but the salt was left
out. An excellent person but wingless; not stupid, but dull.
Yet--there's something about him--he has an attractive integrity. He
puts on no airs. He is simple, unpretentious, and he's so
straightforward he makes me respect him.

Many people respect Lyman Abbott. Yet I was surprised to. Well, I had
the Rollo books given to me, as a child; I had to read them on Sundays;
and the author of those awful volumes was Lyman Abbott's father. He
wrote books for the young. People who write books for the young are a
tribe by themselves, and little did I suppose I should ever live to
respect one.

Rollo was a Sunday-school boy. Lyman Abbott's a Sunday-school man. He
combines in himself the excellencies and the colorlessness of the
Sunday-school atmosphere. When it comes time to group us as sheep or as
goats, I know this, there won't be any question that he is a regular
sheep. No capers for him, except the most innocent capers. No tossing of
that excellent head, no kicking up of his heels. There isn't the
faintest suspicion of goatiness in him.

Yet it's strange he's so hopeless: he likes certain forms of adventure.
He was a bill-collector once. And when Kansas was being settled so
bloodily, in our slavery days, he felt wishful to go there. He once did
some detective work too, and he greatly enjoyed it. But his tastes are
all heavily flavored with moral intentions.

"My recreations," he says in his book, "I took rather seriously. I
neither danced nor played cards, and after I joined the church very
rarely went to the theater." He liked music, liked playing the organ. He
implies that he played it however to add to his income. He was a lawyer
when he first felt a call in his heart to the ministry. "Had my wife
objected to the change I should have remained in the law." He has taken
ale or porter at times, "under doctor's counsel," but in general he has
been an "abstainer." ("From both fermented and distilled liquors," he
adds.) He never has shaved, never smoked. On the other hand, he says,
"I had no inclination to be a monk"; when not at work in the evening, "I
was likely to be out, perhaps at a concert or a religious or political
meeting, perhaps on a social call." His father kept a boarding school
for girls, and that was where Lyman made most of his social calls, as a
youth.

He never overdoes anything. "It is a wise hygienic rule to spend less
strength than one can accumulate." (That seems like the perfect recipe
for not being a genius.) A professional hypnotist once told him he was
not a good subject. "I never have been," he writes: "I have passed
through some exciting experiences ... but I have never been swept off my
feet. I have never lost my consciousness of self or my self-mastery. I
wonder why it is. I am not conscious of being either especially
strong-willed or especially self-possessed."

He reads with assiduity, he says, but without avidity. He seems to live
that way, too.

His sermons, his book tells us, have had merit, but have always lacked
magnetism. (You can't sweep other people off their feet, if you can't be
swept off your own.) He likes preaching, however. It comes easily to
him.

We are all of us so busy with the small bits of life we can envisage,
that we don't often think of how much we all fail to take in. Lyman
Abbott has been kept busy being a purifying influence. Certain other
phases of life, accordingly, simply do not exist for him. If romance
tried approaching the Reverend Lyman Abbott, at night, it would stand no
more chance than a rose would against disinfectants.

Suppose that a Board of Eugenics were in charge of this nation, what
would they do with the species this man represents? They would see his
good qualities--industry, poise, generosity. It would be too bad to
exterminate Dr. Abbott; it is plain we need some of him. "But," they
would reflect, "this species is apt to wax numerous. We must remember
Australia and the rabbits. This type might overrun the whole country. We
might even have to put up barbed-wire, or shoot the excess, for us to
stay human."

My own recommendation is to cross a few specimens with Poles.

[Illustration]

    Lyman Abbott, calm and dry,
    With your conscientious eye,
    Can it possibly be true
    He who made the Poles made you?

    In the forest, on the beach,
    You have pondered what to preach.
    Magic nights of piercing beauty,
    You have lectured us on duty.

    In your admirable heart
    Lives a Yearning to Impart;
    In your veins an earnest flood
    Of listerine instead of blood.

    Lyman, Lyman, do you think
    If you gambled, took to drink,
    Loved a Countess, lost your soul,
    You could _ever_ be a Pole?



Mrs. P's Side of It


  _So Prometheus, the Titan, seeing the great need that man had of fire,
  risked all and set out for Olympus, and brought thence the flame._

  _And warmth, comfort, art and inventions spread over the world._

  _But as to Prometheus, he was seized by the gods, in their wrath, and
  chained to a rock in the Scythian wilds, by the sea. There no ear
  heard his cries. There he raged on alone, year by year, with his
  eyelids cut off, while cold-hearted vultures with great beaks like
  horns tore his flesh._

It is an interesting thing that Prometheus, who is a hero to us, should
have been regarded so differently his contemporaries. Some thought of
him as merely a sort of social settlement-worker, living among men to
improve them, in a sleek, earnest spirit. Some thought him a common
adventurer. Others a radical.

As a matter of fact, he was really very much like the rest of us.

[Illustration: TAKE ONE]

The records seem to indicate he was a well-to-do prominent citizen, who
was active in getting the world of his day straightened out. I imagine
him going around town, in the real-estate business, a substantial,
respected man, planning highways and harbor facilities. Then he gets
this idea, about bringing down fire from heaven. At first he dismisses
it. But he thinks about the advantages of fire, and begins to believe he
could get it. He starts talking to others about it. Every one laughs. It
is a little too absurd, you know--this talk about fire from heaven! His
fellow businessmen call him a visionary. He of course resents that. He
defends his plan, and tries to explain why it's perfectly practicable,
but he does it so warmly they begin to lose some of their trust in him.
The word goes around not to elect him to the Chamber of Commerce. The
solid men of the community begin to avoid him. A famous university
silently changes its plans, and decides not to give Mr. Prometheus that
LL.D. degree. And finally one of his friends pays him a call, after
dark, and bluntly and worriedly warns him he's queering himself.

Prometheus goes upstairs, indignant, to talk to his wife. He doesn't
tell her anything about his friend, or the community's criticisms, but
he describes all over again what a boon fire would be to mankind. After
an hour of this he has reassured himself, and forgotten his friend. His
eyes shine. He looks almost handsome. His wife is quite thrilled. She
says he is wonderful, and no one ever had such a husband.

But she says it sounds awfully dangerous.

"Well," he owns, "there's _some_ risk, but we ought to look at it
impersonally."

She says: "Looking at it quite impersonally, I think you had better not
do it."

"_What?_" he shouts; "don't you realize what a tremendous help fire
would--"

"Oh _yes_, dear," she says: "the plan's _perfect_. But _you_ shouldn't
go. You have such important work to attend to, here at home, without
that. Some younger, less valuable person--"

"Ah, my dear," Prometheus laughs, "you're like every one else. You want
to see the world helped, and wars won, whatever the cost; but you don't
want either me or you to pay any part of the price. You think all
dangerous work should be done by some other woman's husband."

Mrs. Prometheus purses her lips and her face becomes obstinate. "I don't
think _any_ married man has a right to take such risks," she observes.

"Well, you ought to hear what the single men say about that," he
retorts. "It's pretty thick to expect _them_ to die, they say, for other
men's wives."

Mrs. Prometheus shrugs at the shallowness of those silly bachelors, and
doesn't bother even to comment on their point of view. Instead, she says
tactfully that she sees Prometheus has set his heart upon going, and she
wants him to feel perfectly free to do just what he likes. Only there
are certain practical matters that one must consider. There's the
mortgage, and the laundress--unless he'd like to have her do the washing
herself, which she'd be glad to do only he never took those stones out
of her way, in the brook--and there's the bill for that last set of
bear-skins that she got for the windows; and she doesn't see exactly how
she can keep the home up by herself, if he is to wander around
neglecting his real-estate business.

He says he won't be chained by his business.

She reminds him that she has already explained he's perfectly free. But
she just wants to know how he wishes her to arrange in his absence.

[Illustration]

"Very well, then," he blazes out, "I will give up my plan: let it go!
let men go to the devil! I'm a prisoner, that's what it comes to. Like
all married men. There isn't a damn one of us that's allowed to do what
the world needs, or anything fine and unselfish."

She says that's unjust. She'd _love_ to have him be a great hero, and
she always has said so, but she doesn't see why he can't be one without
leaving his wife.

[Illustration: Pegged down]

Prometheus, with a groan at his bondage, walks out of the house, leaving
her feeling injured and wondering at the hardness of men. And he stamps
up and down the yard, working himself up into a state, and filling his
mind with dark pictures. Must every married man sit at home with his
wife in his arms, yearning for roving and achievement, but yearning in
vain? Pegged down, with a baby as a peg, and a mortgage as jailer. Must
every young fellow choose between a fiancée and adventure? Even when he
does choose adventure, they won't let him alone. There will always be
some girl at a window as he passes by, who will tempt him to stop and
play dolls with her, and stay indoors for keeps, and wrestle with a
mortgage for exercise, and give up the road. Prometheus swears. He tries
to imagine what our epics would be like if wives wrote them: what
heroes they'd sing. Tidy, amiable, hearthstone heroes, who'd always wind
up the clock regularly, and never invent dangerous airplanes or seek the
North Pole. Ulysses knitting sweaters by the fireside. George Washington
feeding canaries....

[Illustration]

Mrs. Prometheus sticks her head out of the window: "I'll say just one
word. I had supposed we were partners, who had gone into the homemaking
business."

He says what good are homes if they emasculate spirited men.

She says what good are spirited men if they make the world homeless.

"_I_ don't intend to make the world homeless."

"No, only your wife."

Well, Prometheus gives in, of course, and abandons his plan, as
millions of others have done, after talks with their wives. But ah,
there is another great force besides wives in the world.

It happened, as you know, that Prometheus didn't get on well with Zeus.
They had different ideas as to how the world should be arranged.
Prometheus had more experience, but Zeus had the power. Rivalry,
combined with dislike,--that is the great force I speak of. Zeus didn't
wish men to have fire. That was enough for Prometheus. He told himself
how incompetent Zeus was to manage the world, how selfish he was, how
indifferent to men's need of fire. And that was what braced him, at
last, to escape from his wife, and bring down an ember from heaven, and
bestow it upon men.

"General Rejoicing on Earth," said the newspapers, when the deed had
been done. To get anything from heaven seemed as remarkable then as it
would now. Prometheus having accomplished something was immediately
ranked as a hero. The Chamber of Commerce still privately thought he had
been rather wild, but after a debate on the subject they gave him a
dinner. He was also presented with a loving cup and the keys of the
city. (He had no use for either, but those primitive men thought them
honors.) And after the public reception Prometheus went home, and had
another reception behind closed doors from Mrs. Prometheus, who had had
to sell preserves and take in sewing while he was away.

Meanwhile everybody was using this new-fangled thing, fire, except old
folks who were set in their ways and who said it was dangerous. And
presently men found it _was_ dangerous. It wasn't just a question of
scorched fingers--it burned out two caves. It roasted the toes of a lady
who went to sleep while cooking sliced elephant. And although Prometheus
had warned them and warned them about being careless, and had shown them
exactly how to use it, he was blamed for each burn.

Some citizens were sarcastic and wrote him elaborate letters, thanking
him so much for the suffering he had caused them and wishing him lots of
the same. Some were reasonable and patient, but said he ought to have
perfected this thing, before exposing the lives of the community to a
bungling device. Others were seriously angry. They wished him
imprisoned. Why should a man who had caused so much damage walk about,
free? They inquired where justice was, at that rate; and held a
mass-meeting.

It was owing to this that the gods discovered what he had done. A volley
of terrible thunder-claps at once shook the skies, and Zeus had
Prometheus arrested. He was led off to Scythia--the Siberia of those
times--without trial, and the police left him chained to a rock there,
and hurried back home. And everybody sympathized greatly with Mrs.
Prometheus, for having a husband who had wilfully disgraced his poor
wife. And they tried to be nice to her, but of course she was under a
cloud, and had to take in more sewing than ever, and was never asked
out. And a year or two later some books were written, psychoanalyzing
Prometheus; and a professor who had made a study of the economic
interpretation of heroes wrote an interesting paper discussing his
probable motives, pointing out that he must have had relatives who
wished to sell fire-insurance.

So his great deed ended in confusion. Like other great deeds. All he got
was a tumult of mixed praise and blame from the crowd; and in his dark
moments he must have felt completely discouraged, and wished that he'd
just lived along in comfort and minded his business.

His friend, who had warned him originally, thought of him at times. He
used to sit at home and feel glad that for his part he'd kept out of it.
Then he would stir up the fire in his grate and comfortably get into
bed, and forget about Prometheus, facing the winds and the vulture.



The Death of Logan


Cockroaches, like the Wise Men, originally lived in the East. They were
at first far from hardy--wretched travelers, hating changes of climate.
But when England began trading with the Orient, the cockroach grew
venturesome, and began putting to sea as a stowaway. It was thus he
reached England.

He settled down at first in her seaports. Remained there for years.
People inland heard of him, or saw him if they went to the coast, but
supposed themselves immune from his visits. Now he owns the whole
island. And wherever the Englishman has journeyed, or settled, or
trafficked, except perhaps on the ice-floes of Labrador, we now find the
cockroach.

We all know his habits. He prefers to live in kitchens and bakeries.
Eats all kinds of food. Eats shoes and the bindings of books. Also eats
his own relatives. Any relative that isn't good and lively is at once
eaten up.

You can tell the sexes apart (if you want to) by this: The males don't
drag their stomachs on the ground the way the females do, and they have
better wings. Their wings are not good enough to use much, but still,
they have little ones.

The most surprising thing about roaches is that they live several years.
Scientists say maybe five. Owing to this they get to know all of a
family's ways, and can't be caught napping; they have plenty of time to
study roach powders and learn to digest them. They dislike castor oil,
though, and keep away from where it has been rubbed.

Cockroaches are intelligent beings. Their natures are human. They are
not like other insects, any more than dogs are like other animals. I
wish some man of science and sympathy would interpret their lives.

That book that I dream of on roaches: will it ever be written? Brown
Beauty, or Only a Cockroach, by Mary Gook Twillee--a book that little
children would read with wet eyes Sunday evenings. No, that sounds like
a pamphlet from the Society for the Prevention of Stepping on
Cockroaches. We want nothing humanitarian. Still less, a Work on the
subject. We want a poet to do for the cockroach what Maeterlinck has
done for the Bee.

If nobody else will, I shall probably have to do it myself.

       *       *       *       *       *

Since boyhood (I shall begin) I have felt the injustice of men to the
roach. Or not men, no; but women. Men are in this matter more tolerant,
more live-and-let-live in their ways. But women have condemned the roach
not only unheard, but unjudged. Not one of them has ever tried petting a
roach to gain his affection. Not one of them has studied him or
encouraged him to show his good side. Some cockroaches, for instance,
are exceedingly playful and gay, but what chance have they to show this,
when being stepped on, or chased with a broom? Suppose we had treated
dogs this way; scared them; made fugitives of them!

No, the human race, though kind to its favorites, is cruel to others.
The pale little, lovable cockroach has been given no show. If a
housewife would call to her roaches as she does to her hens, "Here
chick-chick, here cock-cock, here roaches," how they would come
scampering! They would eat from her hand and lay eggs for her--they do
now, in fact.

"But the eggs are not legible--I mean edible," an excited reader
objects. How do you know, my poor prejudiced reader? Have you ever tried
them? And suppose they are not. Is that the fault of the cockroach or
God?

We should learn that blind enmity is not the attitude to take toward
strangers. The cockroach has journeyed from Asia to come to our shores;
and because he looked queer, like most Asiatics, he has been condemned
from the start. The charges are that he is dirty and that he eats the
food we leave lying around. Well, well, well! Eats our food, does he? Is
that a crime? Do not birds do the same? And as to his being dirty, have
you ever kept dogs in your home? One dog will bring in more dust and mud
and loose hairs in a day, than a colony, an empire, of cockroaches will
in a year.

It is easy enough to drive cockroaches away if you wish. Not with powder
or poison: this only arouses their obstinacy. The right way is to import
other insects that prey upon roaches. The hawk-ticks exterminate them as
readily as wimples do moles. The only thing to remember is that then you
have the hawk-ticks on hand, and they float around the ceiling, and
pounce down, and hide in your ears.

You may be sure that _some_ insects will live with you. It's only a
question which kind.

I remember Mr. Burbank once denied this when we talked of the matter.
Alluding to the fact that the cockroach likes to eat other roaches, he
said why not breed a roach that wouldn't eat anything else? When one
introduced these into the home they would first eat the old timers, and
then quietly devour each other until all were gone.

But how could a home remain bare of insects? Nature abhors such a
vacuum. Some men would like to cover the whole world with porcelain
tiles, and make old Mother Earth, as we know her, disappear from our
view. They would sterilize and scrub the whole planet, so as to make the
place sanitary. Well, I too feel that way at times: we all have finicky
moments. But in my robust hours I sympathize with Nature. A hygienic
kitchen is unnatural. It should be swarming with life. (The way mine
is.)

I see a great deal of the roach when I visit my kitchen. His habits, to
be sure, are nocturnal. But, then, so are mine. However, with a little
arranging, it is simple to prevent awkward clashes. I do not like
cockroaches on my table at supper, for instance. Very well, I merely get
me a table with carved spiral legs. The roach cannot climb up such legs.
To hump himself over them bruises him, and injures his stomach. And if
he tries to follow the spiral and goes round and round, he soon becomes
dizzy and falls with plaintive cries to the floor. He can climb up my
own legs, since they are not spiral, you say? Yes, but I rub castor oil
on them before I enter the kitchen.

The cockroach has a fascinating personality. He is not socialistic and
faithful, like the ant, for example: he is anarchistic, wild,
temperamental, and fond of adventure. He is also contemplative by
nature, like other philosophers. How many an evening, at midnight, when
I have wanted a sandwich, I have found him and his friends standing
still, lost in thought, by the sink. When I poke him up, he blinks with
his antennae and slowly makes off. On the other hand, he can run at high
speed when the cook is pursuing him. And he zigzags his course most
ingeniously. He uses his head. Captain Dodge, of the British Navy, who
first used this method to escape from a submarine, is said to have
learned how to zigzag from the cockroaches aboard his own ship. They
should go down in history, those roaches, with the geese that saved
Rome.

Again and again I have tried to make a pet of the cockroach, for I
believe under his natural distrust he has an affectionate nature. But
some hostile servant has invariably undone my work. The only roach I
succeeded in taming was hardly a pet, because he used to hide with the
others half the time when he saw me, and once in a fit of resentment he
bit a hole in my shoe. Still, he sometimes used to come at my call when
I brought him warm tea. Poor fellow! poor Logan!--as I called him. He
had a difficult life. I think he was slightly dyspeptic. Perhaps the tea
was not good for him. He used to run about uttering low, nervous moans
before moulting; and when his time came to mate, I thought he never
would find the right doe. How well I remember my thrill when he picked
one at last, and when I knew that I was about to see their nuptial
flight. Higher and higher they circled over the clean blue linoleum,
with their short wings going so fast they fairly crackled, till the air
was electric: and then, swirling over the dresser, their great moment
came. Unhappily, Logan, with his usual bad luck, bumped the bread-box.
The doe, with a shrill, morose whistle, went and laid on the floor; but
Logan seemed too balked to pursue her. His flight was a failure.

He rapidly grew old after this, and used to keep by himself. He also got
into the habit of roaming around outdoors at night. Hated to see other
roaches mating by the bread-box, perhaps. As he was too big to crawl
back in under the door when we shut it, he was sometimes locked out when
he roamed, and had to wait until morning. This in the end caused his
death. One winter evening, blocked at the door, he climbed the
fire-escape and tried to get in the bathroom window. But it chanced to
be shut. He hung there all night, barking hoarsely--and I heard him, but
never thought it was Logan. When I went to look at the thermometer in
the morning, there he lay in the snow.



Portrait of a Lady


Elsie has just got back from an expedition to the Sea Islands. She had
had her eye on those islands for a long time, she tells me. They lie off
the coast of South Carolina, out of the way of all traffic, and they
looked to her like a good hunting ground for African folk-lore. Her
ethnological field-work is always taking her off to such places. I
suppose that that Englishman, Selous, used to go around studying maps,
and questioning natives about the best jungles for lions, in much the
same way that Elsie constantly studies our continent, looking for some
corner of it that might interest an intelligent person. The parts that
are civilization to us, are mere jungle to her: the houses and street
cars are like underbrush that she must push through, to get to the
places where her quarry is, and where she really wakes up. In between,
she lives in New York with us,--she has to,--and conforms to our ways,
or to most of them anyhow, just as Stefansson does with the Eskimos: she
wears the usual tribal adornments, and beadwork, and skins; she's as
dazzling as any other beauty, in her box at the opera; and she sleeps
and eats in the family's big stone igloo near Fifth Avenue. An
unobservant citizen might almost suppose she was one of us. But every
now and then her neglect of some small ceremonial sets our whole tribe
to chattering about her, and eyeing her closely, and nodding their hairy
coiffures or their tall shiny hats, whispering around their lodge-fires,
evenings, that Elsie is queer.

When she went south this time, she first placed herself "in the hands of
the whites," as she detachedly puts it: that is to say, she became the
guest of a white family on one of the more civilized islands. This was a
mistake. They were interested in her plans, and they didn't in the least
mean to block them, but they felt it was necessary for them to go around
with her everywhere. They wanted to be sure nothing happened,--and Elsie
wanted to be sure something did. "They guarded me," she exclaimed, over
and over, when she told me this part of it. I got an impression of her
tramping off into the wilds, after breakfast, to look around for what
she was after, in her business-like way; and of worried hostesses
panting along, following her,--in spite of the cold looks they got.

There were also a number of small difficulties. Her smoking, for
instance. Her hostesses didn't mind--much; but they had a brother, a
clergyman, just back from France, where he had been in the Y. M. C. A.
service; and it would upset _him_, they said. So instead of smoking
downstairs, by the fire, she had to do it up in her room; and also burn
Chinese incense after each smoke, by request.

This clergyman held family prayer-meetings, regularly, which everybody
was supposed to attend; but Elsie did not object. She is always
interested in ritual. And the singing was often of negro spirituals,
which she is collecting. She has a recording phonograph nowadays, that
she takes around with her, to get them.

This wasn't what she had come down for, however. It wasn't enough. And
not being able to explore without being "guarded" made the country no
use to her. The game was too shy to be stalked with a whole crowd of
whites. So in order to make a new entrance, she decided on a preliminary
retreat. She left the islands, went back to the mainland, and took a
room in a boarding-house.

There was a lady in the neighborhood who once had collected a few negro
tales, but who told Elsie that the colored folk around there didn't tell
them now. The lady wanted to be obliging, and called in her cook to make
sure; but the cook corroborated her statement: didn't know any, no
ma'am.

Elsie formed the opinion that the cook probably knew plenty of stories,
but would not talk freely to whites. Few or none of them will. She kept
on making inquiries, however, as to possible sources, and finally heard
about one old negro who was said to be chock-full of folk-lore. Elsie
got on his trail. She found him one day in the street, and she soon won
him over. He not only told her all he knew, but he stopped a one-armed
man going by,--a dirty man with a wheel-barrow full of old bottles--who,
the old man said, knew other stories, and who promptly made good,
telling several that Elsie took down, while she sat on the curb.

This negro's name was Mr. Jack--at least that is how Elsie speaks of
him. He had lost his other arm after a man had shot him up, he said,
skylarking. But he could do remarkable things with his remaining one:
open an umbrella, for instance. He said that on one of the islands there
were people who knew lots of old tales. So Elsie engaged Mr. Jack to go
there with her, as guide, and off they sailed, like the owl and the
pussy-cat, only with quite other intentions, and they ultimately landed
on the beach of the island he'd chosen. There was no wharf. The Sea
Islands are primitive. They had to land in the surf. There were two or
three natives on the beach, just the way there were when Columbus
appeared, but they didn't fall down and worship Elsie--as I should have
done. They just stared, and shuffled away, and were lost in the bush.
So Elsie and Mr. Jack pushed on inland, and found a negro with a horse,
and Elsie gave him some sticks of tobacco and bright-colored cloth, or
whatever currency it is she uses, and added him to her expedition. His
name was James Bone, and he had a cart as well as a horse. They all got
in this cart and went cruising away into the interior.

It was raining like mad, I forgot to say, but they didn't much mind, and
besides it had a result in the end that was lucky for Elsie. There was a
store on this island, and James Bone was heading for it, with the idea
of depositing Elsie there so she could get shelter. But when they got
there, the white man who kept it said his wife was away, and probably
wouldn't be back that night because of the rain. Elsie wished to stay
anyhow, but he flatly declined to take her in unless his wife came.

After making a silent study of his moral ideas, which he expressed
loudly, and writing them down in her notebooks (I hope) for the Folkways
Society, Elsie quietly went out in the rain again to continue her
travels. It was now dark, however, and Mr. Jack and James Bone were
tired. The expedition conferred. James Bone said they could go to some
friends of his, named (I think) Peevie, who had a large house with five
rooms in it. So they steered for this landmark. But when they arrived,
very late, all the five rooms were found to be full. In addition to the
whole Peevie family, which was sufficiently numerous, there were several
Peevie relations and guests who had come on for a funeral. But James
Bone was insistent. He went indoors and stirred them up and made a lot
of talk and excitement, and never stopped until the funeral guests rose
and went away, in the rain; and with them all the relations except old
Aunt Justine and her nieces. These and the regular family somehow packed
themselves into three rooms, and gave up the two best to Elsie, who
promptly retired. I don't know where Mr. Jack slept. Maybe under the
cart.

This cabin was about the most comfortable place Elsie stayed. She could
smoke all she wished, she had a fireplace, and the cooking was good. Her
two rooms were only six by ten apiece, but all the more cozy. Old Aunt
Justine who at first had not liked it, thawed after a while, and sat
around with Elsie and smoked with her and told her old tales. She was a
picturesque ancient, Elsie says, and wore a large clean white turban.

Everybody came and told Elsie all the stories they knew. If any one
passed on the road, he was hailed to come in: "Hi, Numph, d'you wanter
make a quarter, telling this lady a story?"

"We wouldn't have told you any, though, if you had stayed at the store,"
James Bone said. "We don't have no traffic with the white folks, only
buying or selling. They keep to themselves, and we keep to ourselves,
'cept for that."

Elsie put it all down. "No nexus exists but the economic one between the
two groups," she wrote. Then, having exhausted this island, she packed
up her notebooks, and she and Mr. Jack put to sea again to visit one
other.

This other was an island where Mr. Jack said he had relatives, whom he
would love dearly to see again if they were alive. He had lived right
over on the mainland without visiting them for about twenty years, until
Elsie came along and roused his energies; but he now felt warmed up.
When they landed, however, none of his relatives were at all glad to see
him. He and Elsie wandered around for a while, getting a chilling
reception, until late in the day they met some women who were opening
oysters. One of these exclaimed at seeing Mr. Jack, and gave him a great
welcome. An old sweetheart, Elsie conjectured. Mr. Jack introduced her.
These women gave Elsie a handful of oysters to eat for her supper, and
she got out some of her own thick bran cookies which are so good for the
stomach, and they sat by the fire and talked together until it was
midnight. Then the oyster boat left for the mainland, with Elsie
aboard. And luckily there was a man on that boat who knew some valuable
stories, so Elsie sat up all night taking them down, by a ship's lamp,
as they sailed. The wind was light and it was five hours before they
reached port.

She parted with Mr. Jack, on the oyster-dock landing, at dawn. "I stayed
wid you to de en'," he said; and afterwards mailed her her rubbers.

There is more to this story, about her visiting the Cherokee Indians
down there. But I don't remember the Cherokee chapter as well as the old
Mr. Jack one. Still I hope this gives some kind of picture of Elsie's
real life.



Grandfather's Three Lives


A great Englishman died a few years ago, little known in America. His
name, Sir Charles Dilke. A statesman, a radical, a republican; and a
strong solid man.

There is one thing that strikes you about some of these leaders, in
England: the number of advantages they have when they're boys, growing
up. It gives them a tremendous head-start. Charles Dilke began meeting
great men when he was a mere child: the Duke of Wellington, Thackeray,
Dickens,--I could name a long list. And he had the close companionship
of a grandfather, a man of distinction, who treated him as an equal, and
devoted himself to his grandson's development.

A fortunate boy.

Think of other small boys, who show signs of fine brains and strong
characters. Are they ever introduced to Thackeray or treated as equals?
No, they're taught to respect their dull fathers and their fathers'
ideas. They are taught not to have any separate ideas of their own. Or
at best they run wild with no wise elder friend, like Charles Dilke's.

Here is one of his grandfather's letters. Shows the tone of their
friendship. The boy has just won an English Essay Prize, and "they say
that parts of my essay were vulgar," he writes. "My special interest,"
his grandfather answers, "is aroused by the charge of occasional
vulgarity. If it be true, it is not improbable that the writer caught
the infection from his grandfather. With one half the world, in its
judgment of literature and life, vulgarity is the opposite of gentility,
and gentility is merely negative, and implies the absence of all
character, and, in language, of all idiom, all bone and muscle.... You
may find in Shakespeare household words and phrases from every condition
and walk in life--as much coarseness as you please to look for--anything
and everything except gentility and vulgarity. Occasional vulgarity is,
therefore, a question on which I refuse to take the opinion of any man
not well known to me."

Good for Grandfather! Eh? He was a pretty interesting old boy. He might
have been a great man himself, if he could have brought himself up. But
Great-grandfather had been in the government's service in England, some
position in the Navy Department, or the Admiralty, as they call it. And
when his son grew up, he got him a place in the Admiralty too. He meant
well, but Grandfather might have done better without.

It gave him a berth, and a chance to lie back and look on. And while
that helped to ripen his wisdom, it sapped his initiative.

He had a fine mind; clear, impartial. Strong radical views. He had
character, integrity, insight. A man of much weight. But he saw there
was much to be learned and observed about life, and his instinct was to
go slow, and quietly study its problems. "Instead," you say, "of
immediately solving them like other young men!" But instead, too,--for
such was his instinct--of _handling_ the problems. He wished to know
more and feel wiser before he dealt with them. He had the preparatory
attitude.

The trouble with the preparatory attitude is there's no end to it. There
is so much to learn in this world that it won't do to wait. If you wait
to fit yourself before acting, you never will act. You will somehow lose
the habit of acting. Study too conscientiously the one hundred best
books on swimming, and of course you'll learn a great deal about it, but
you never will swim.

This was Grandfather's type. If he had been kicked out alone into the
world and found every one fighting him, and if he had had to fight back,
and fight hard, from his boyhood, it would have taught him the one thing
he needed--more force for his powers.

As it was, he remained in the Admiralty. Studying life.

[Illustration: The Preparatory Attitude]

Grandfather was thirty-seven years old when Great-grandfather died. He
(Grandfather) had been writing for the magazines for quite a long
time,--he was only twenty-six when the Quarterly Review editors began to
speak highly of him.

He now bought the London Athenaeum, which, though just born, was dying.
Under Grandfather's editorship it became an important authority. It was
known all over the world soon. But Grandfather wasn't. He never signed
one of his articles, not even pseudonymously. And during the sixteen
years in which he had control of the paper, this remarkable man withdrew
altogether from general society, in order, he said, to avoid making
literary acquaintances which might either prove annoying to him, or be
supposed to compromise the integrity of his journal.

That rings hollow, that reason. He doubtless thought it true; but it
wasn't. He withdrew from society, probably, because he liked
withdrawing. With the gifts of a great man he didn't have a great man's
robustness. Some kink in him held him back, and kept him from jousting
and tournaments. He should have been psychoanalyzed. It may have been
such a small kink.

I doubt if he ever would have married, but it happened quite young. He
was under nineteen, and the pretty girl he married still younger. Maybe
she married _him_. They had one son, soon after their marriage; but no
other children.

I wonder if Grandfather was a case of suppressed personality. It wasn't
a weak personality. It would not stay suppressed. But it didn't come out
boldly and naturally, and live a full life. Not as full a life as its
own wisdom and strength made appropriate. He achieved several things,
and they weren't unimportant or small, yet he constantly slighted his
life-work; in fact, hardly spoke of it. Modern psychologists do not call
this attitude modesty, like our nice naïve fathers. No, they say it
comes oftenest from the sexual errors of boyhood. For instance,
repression. Or shame at misguided indulgence.

This kind of boyhood is unfortunate, but it might do small harm, if it
weren't for the sad sense of guilt with which it stains a man's mind.
Men try to forget it, and do: but their subconsciousness never forgets.
To be cured, a man must face and remember his past, open-eyed, and see
his mistakes philosophically and understand better: understand what we
all are, and what human nature is made of, and how it is distorted in
youth by a rigid environment. The average moralist or parent won't tell
us these things. But until we have learned them, a good many of us feel
wicked, and can't put behind us the wretched mistakes of our youth. We
don't know enough to regard our young struggles with sympathy. Our
ignorance makes us believe we have blackened our souls. And the man who
keeps silent and never tells, and hence never learns, goes through the
world semi-subdued. Never gets what it owes him.

Was Grandfather Dilke such a case? I've no warrant for saying so. His
conscience may have troubled him, possibly, for some quite different
reason. He may have secretly hated some relative whom he should have
loved. He may have done some small wrong and unfortunately not been
found out. But whatever the reason was, he lived an odd, back-groundish
life--for a man of his caliber. And his life didn't satisfy him. And
this was his fault, not the world's.

The birth of a son, however, in a way gives a man a fresh chance. He
decides to live a second and far better life through his son. Whenever
a parent feels blue, or is not making good, he immediately declares that
his hopes are in his little son anyhow. Then he has a sad, comfortable
glow at his own self-effacement. Oh, these shirking fathers! They allow
_themselves_ to give way to weariness, or be halted by fears; but expect
a son, when _he_ comes to such moments, to find them quite jolly. He's
to make up for the weakness of his father, and carry his own burdens,
too!

I regret to say Grandfather Dilke sought relief in this way. Although
young, strong, and gifted, he said when his own son was born that he
then and there committed all his dreams of achievement to Baby. Baby was
to go out in the world and do his papa honor.

The child was called Wentworth, and it grew up sound, healthy, and kind.
But when poor Mr. Dilke bet on Wentworth, he backed the wrong horse.
Wentworth didn't have anything in him of the statesman or scholar. He
was idle at studies. No head for them. What he liked was athletics. He
liked comradeship and enjoying life generally--in a nice way, however. A
simple, conservative-minded and limited soul. During his early years in
London he was principally known to his friends for never missing a
night at the opera. And he was devoted to shooting-parties.

Later on, he became still more trying, it would seem, to his parent.
Instead of remaining in his place as a plain disappointment, he began to
be prominent; and, stupidly, in just the wrong field. He became a sort
of parody of the man his father had hoped he would be. He hadn't the
brains, for example, to do anything in the learned Athenaeum, but he
founded The Gardeners' Chronicle and the Agricultural Gazette. He did
well with them, too, which was irritating. He turned out to be a good
man of business.

About this time a National Exhibition of some sort was held, and
Wentworth was in on it. (It was an exhibition of "art manufacturers.")
Then somebody got the idea of repeating it on a large scale and
including foreign nations: in fact to make it the first of World's
Fairs. So Wentworth and the others met the Prince Consort, to get
Royalty's blessing.

The Prince Consort liked the plan immensely. He made it his hobby.
Numerous committees were appointed, in true simian style, and amid
endless speeches and palaverings, the thing was arranged. Wentworth,
except when on shooting-parties, worked hard for it.

This made a great noise; but I doubt if it impressed Mr. Dilke. It was
at bottom cheap stuff which any advertiser or promoter could do. It
sounded well; it made a man prominent, but it didn't take brains. What
Mr. Dilke had hoped or intended for his son I don't know; perhaps
nothing definite; but he certainly wanted something that counted. He
wanted him to make a contribution to the needs of mankind. Some
achievement in scholarship, or some hand in the steering of England.

Mr. Dilke was, potentially, anyhow, a big sort of man, like a nation's
prime minister: a publicist, not a mere showman. And for years he had
given all his thoughts to his son's career. His son had been the one he
first thought of when he woke in the morning, and the last one that
stayed in his mind when he got into bed. And he hadn't just mooned
around about him, he had worked for his welfare, planned each step of
his education, for instance, and pondered his plans.

And then the creature grows up to run The Gardeners' Chronicle, and work
for World Fairs.

There were some small advantages. The creature was brought into
relations with prominent men and kings throughout Europe, mostly
figureheads, perhaps, but not all; and these relations were destined to
be of use to the Dilkes later on. But it must have seemed awfully silly
to Grandfather to see Wentworth being presented with medals, and
honors, and gifts from foreign governments. And as though this weren't
enough, Queen Victoria wished to make him a baronet! Mr. Dilke, being a
radical, was opposed to his taking a title; so Wentworth, who was
fifty-one, declined it, like a dutiful child. But the Queen made a
personal matter of it, so he had to accept. It seems that he and the
Prince Consort had become quite good friends--both being pleasant,
gentlemanly, and wooden (at least in some ways), and having in common an
innocent love of World Fairs; and this had endeared Wentworth Dilke,
more or less, to the Queen. So, after the Prince Consort died, and while
she was feeling her grief, she pressed this small title on Wentworth
because the Prince liked him.

[Illustration: He had medals from potentates.]

Wentworth was now a powerfully connected person and a vastly more
important man in the public eye than Grandfather was. But he and his
father lived in the same house; and, although Mr. Dilke didn't say much,
he had his own scale of values; and, measured by any such scale,
Wentworth was a great disappointment. Their daily relations were kindly,
considering this; but Wentworth knew well, all the time, he was deemed
an inferior. When he was out and about, in the public eye, he may have
felt like a lord, but when he came home nights he had to check his pride
at the door.

Meantime he had married and had two sons; and Charles, the elder, was
bright. So Mr. Dilke, the incorrigible, began life all over again. He
hadn't been satisfied with his own life, and far less with Wentworth's,
but he planned a third career for himself in this promising grandson. He
didn't merely take an interest in the child, or just make him his hobby.
He centered his whole mind upon him. He made it his business in life to
develop that infant--in order that through him he might at last reach
the front row.

And this time he won. It looked doubtful at first; Charles was nervous
and frail, and hence backward. His mind was too excitable and his health
too poor to send him to school. That's a handicap in England; school
associations and training count much. However, the boy easily mastered
his studies at home, and he often met eminent men who came around to the
house, and he made some experiments in literature--in fact, wrote a
novel. And when sixteen, he met a beautiful girl, Emilia Strong, whom he
worshiped. And he traveled, and talked with his grandfather; and so he
grew up.

At eighteen his health grew much better: in fact, grew robust. He
immediately entered Cambridge, and there he began a new life. This was a
splendid thing for him, in a number of ways. For instance, one of the
first things he did was to go in for athletics. He had a flat, narrow
chest, sloping shoulders; but the rowing men trained him; and he worked
until he became a good oar, and could row on a crew.

He had lived almost entirely with grown-ups before going to college, and
was much more mature and well-informed than the fellows he met there.
But some parts of his nature had never had a chance to come out; his
sense of fun, for example. He now began having good times with boys of
his own age. He worked so hard at his rowing that he finally stroked the
first crew. And "nobody could make more noise at a boating supper," one
of his friends said. He even got into a scrape and was deprived of a
scholarship he had won.

All these new ways of Charles--except the scrape, possibly--must have
seemed right and normal, and even, perhaps, reassuring to his father,
Sir Wentworth. But Sir Wentworth became alarmed lest they shouldn't
please Mr. Dilke. He feared Mr. Dilke was going to be disappointed all
over again, by a student who found university life too full of pleasure.
The unfortunate baronet, therefore, wrote Charles for heaven's sake to
be studious.

He need not have worried. Charles became a wonder at studies. And it
wasn't just brilliance--it was long, steady hours, plus brains and
concentration, that did it. One thing that helped him do so much was
that he never wasted time--he used every spare minute for something. He
"would even get in ten minutes of work between river and Hall." He not
only became a prize scholar and oarsman, but won walking races; he
joined the Volunteers and became a crack rifle shot, and went in for
debating.

His votes and speeches in the debates show the trend of his mind, which
was balanced yet radical, like his grandfather's, and always
progressive. The American Civil War, which was then being fought, was
debated; and the undergraduates voted for the Confederate side, three to
one. This was the general feeling in England. But Charles was for the
North. Again, when Lord Palmerston was helping to start the Greek
monarchy, Charles spoke in favor of a Greek republic, in a college
debate.

He wrote long letters to his grandfather regularly about studies and
politics, and sent him able analyses and criticisms of articles in the
Athenaeum. The old man at first had been rather silent because of the
athletics; but as Charles' mind developed, and as he continued winning
prizes in studies, Mr. Dilke grew happier and happier. They were forever
corresponding, and were on the most affectionate terms.

Then, one day, a telegram came for Charles, and he hurried home.
Wentworth was on the lawn, crying. "He lives only to see you," he said.

"I went upstairs," Charles wrote afterward, "and sat down by the sofa on
which lay the Grand, looking haggard, but still a noble wreck. I took
his hand, and he began to talk of trivial matters.... He seemed to be
testing his strength, for at last he said: 'I shall be able to talk
to-morrow; I may last some weeks; but were it not for the pang that all
of you would feel, I should prefer that it should end at once. I have
had a good time of it.'"

The next day they had their last talk. Mr. Dilke made his boy a present
he had planned for his birthday, and entrusted him with the disposition
of his papers and manuscripts. And he told him, "I have nothing more to
say but that you have fulfilled--my every hope--beyond all
measure--and--I am deeply--grateful."

So he died.

Charles went back to Cambridge and finished his course with the greatest
distinction. He then began contributing to the Athenaeum, and planning
to write books. "A History of Radicalism," for example. "The Effects
Upon Radicalism of Increased Facility of Communication." "Development of
the Principle of Love of Country Into That of Love of Man." In politics
he took the Irish Catholic side of the Irish Question; he wrote strongly
in favor of removing the political disabilities of women, and he
criticized the severity of white men toward natives in the tropics.

He also had a row with his father. Sir Wentworth was vexed because
Charles didn't wish to come to his shooting-parties.

When he was twenty-two, Charles made a tour of the world, and recorded
his observations in a remarkable book. It was a solid, serious volume,
yet written in a vein of high spirits. It dealt with Canada, the United
States--East, South, and West--New Zealand, Australia, Ceylon and India;
it was a study of what Anglo-Saxons were doing in these great
civilizations. Charles mailed his MSS. to England, and Sir Wentworth
took it upon himself to correct the proofs, in order to hurry the book
through the press. The result was a crop of blunders. But still, it was
an enormous success. It ran through three editions rapidly, and brought
Charles the friendship of some great men.

Meantime in his twenty-fifth year he was elected to Parliament--at the
very election at which Sir Wentworth lost his seat, by the way. Charles
advocated laws ('way back in the Sixties) to prohibit child labor, to
recognize trades unions, and stop the buying of commissions in the army.
He advised English workmen not to join the regular political parties,
but to start a Labor Party of their own and gain influence that way. He
also upset his father a good deal by urging amendments to the game laws.
His first speech in Parliament was on some dry, technical subject, but
he showed himself so well-informed, so full of detailed knowledge and
foreign comparisons, that he was immediately put on a committee and
began to make his way in the House.

It's interesting to look back and see how able men get their start.

In his twenty-eighth year this able man got into frightful hot water. He
said publicly that a miserable moral and political tone resulted from
the nation's retaining a lot of sinecure offices--Hereditary Grand
Falconer, and all that sort of thing. He pointed out that the Duke of
Edinburgh had been given a naval command without much naval training,
and he advocated promotion by merit instead of by claims due to birth.
He allowed himself to criticize some large grants of money to the
monarchy. His remarks indicated that theoretically he preferred a
republic. For this he was denounced by the papers, and socially
shunned. He was accused of disloyalty and treason, with the greatest
heat, everywhere. His name was a byword. The Prince of Wales happened
about this time to get very ill, and this added still further to the
anger men felt at Charles Dilke.

He didn't back down. He went out and made speeches to workmen, repeating
his anti-King criticisms. There was rioting by Tory roughs--iron bars
thrown--men injured and killed. Crowds collected who swore that Dilke
should not get away alive from the hall. He waited till the excitement
was hottest, then came out the main door alone, stood quietly looking at
them, lit a cigar, and walked off.

He did, however, gradually calm down the nation in one way, by showing
them that, though he objected to monarchical errors, he didn't wish to
upset the monarchy while it suited the people. He thought it absurd, but
it would be still more absurd to upset it--that is to say, while those
governed wanted it. This attitude, and time (several years of it) slowly
stilled the excitement. The net result was to make this man a notable
and recognized power.

His power kept growing. His influence was great in the House. His views
were strong, but reasoned and sane, and his industry endless. He was now
forty-two. Gladstone, with whom he tilted at first, picked him as his
successor. It looked as though this great progressive would be premier
of England.

Then, in a night, the Fates crushed him. Returning home from a dinner in
his honor, he found a letter there, waiting.

It said that the wife of a member of Parliament had confessed to her
husband that she had been unfaithful to him with Charles Dilke soon
after her marriage.

This, of course, meant a scandal. And a scandal meant he couldn't be
premier. He couldn't even sit in the cabinet. His career was destroyed.

Sir Charles (as he now was) had been married, but his wife had soon
died. After ten years as a widower, he had become engaged to Emilia
Strong--you remember?--the same Emilia whom he had worshiped when he was
sixteen. (She had been married, too, in the meantime, but she now was a
widow.) His principal concern with this blow was not to let it hurt her.
He sent her the news, told her he was innocent, and added, "I feel this
may kill you--and it will kill me, either if it kills you or if you
don't believe me."

She stood by him, married him. They had nineteen years of each other. He
was sixty-one when she died in his arms. He lived to be sixty-eight.

He never could clear his name of the scandal, though he took it to
court. They failed to show he was guilty, but he couldn't _prove_ that
he wasn't. So he never was premier, and he never again sat in the
cabinet.

His friends said his whole career showed that the scandal was false.
They stood by him strongly. But the People, whom he would have served
with such courage, did not.



Story of a Farmer


There once was a tall husky fellow, big hands and feet; not much
education. (Though he came of a fairly good family.) He had very bad
teeth. His father had left him a farm, and that was his great
interest--farming. He had the kind of feeling about farming that a good
shoemaker has about shoes. Of course, he complained more or less, and
felt dissatisfied and discouraged, and threatened to give up his farm
when things went badly. But there was nothing else he could have
willingly turned to; and he was never weary of experimenting with
different ways of planting his crops.

He was a sound-thinking man, and men trusted him. He grew prominent.
Held some offices. As a result, when he was forty-three he had to go
away from home for some years. This was while he was managing an army.
And I ought to explain that it was a hard army to manage. It was not
only badly equipped and poorly trained, but sometimes the men would run
away in the midst of a battle. That made this man angry. He was
ordinarily composed and benign in his manner, but when he saw the
soldiers showing fear he used to become violently aroused, and would
swear at them and strike them. His nature loathed cowardice. He cared
nothing for danger himself, perhaps because of his teeth, and he
couldn't understand why these other men dreaded to die.

All his life, when he was at table with others, he used to sit there in
silence, drumming on the cloth with his fork. He seldom joked. He was
hardly ever playful. People said he was too dignified, too solemn. Well!
one isn't apt to be a comedian, precisely, with toothache. He was only
twenty-two when he began having his teeth pulled, they tortured him so;
and he kept on losing them, painfully, year after year.

About this army again. He didn't want to manage it. He had had quite a
liking for military work, as a youth, and had even gone on a small
expedition to see active service, though his mother had interfered all
she could, and tried hard to prevent him. But as this was all the
experience he ever had had, and as he had never studied warfare, he
didn't know anything about handling large bodies of troops.

However, he had a clear mind and a good natural insight; and in spite of
his ignorance, of which he was painfully conscious, he managed to win
the war, and then thankfully returned to his farm. He went back with
enthusiasm. He had been away for eight years altogether, and for six of
those years he did not once set foot on his fields. He had found time,
however, in between whiles, to talk with the farmers in the northerly
parts of his country, and collect new ideas. He now began to experiment
with plaster of Paris and powdered stone as fertilizers. He tried
clover, rye, peas, oats and carrots to strengthen his land. He tried
mud. He planted potatoes with manure, and potatoes without, and noted
exactly what the difference was in the yield. His diary speaks of the
chinch bugs attacking his corn, and of the mean way the rain had of
passing by on the other side of the river, falling generously there,
while "not enough fell here to wet a handkerchief." He laboriously
calculated the number of seed in a pound (this retired Commander!) and
found that red clover had 71,000, timothy 298,000 and barley 8,925.

He also began at this time to use false teeth, which fitted him badly.
And he was laid up occasionally with malaria, and fever and ague. And he
was called upon to help frame a constitution for his little nation. A
busy period. He had an attack of rheumatism, too, which lasted over six
months, and it was sometimes so bad he could hardly raise his hand to
his head or turn over in bed. And when the national constitution had
been adopted they elected him president. That meant a lot of outside
work for another eight years.

Some of this work he hated. He hated speech-making for instance. At his
inauguration he was so agitated and embarrassed that men saw he
trembled, and when he read his speech his voice was almost too low to be
heard. He was always very conscious of having a poor education, and
being a bad speller and so forth. But the people didn't care about that,
much: they trusted his judgment, and admired the man's goodness and
spirit.

A sculptor was sent to make a statue of him, late in his life. He
couldn't get him to pose satisfactorily. No noble attitudes. In vain did
the sculptor talk about state affairs and that war. Such things did not
stir him. He remained either stiff or relaxed. But one day they were out
on the farm together; and as this man watched his live-stock, he
unconsciously took a fine, alive attitude. So the sculptor made a statue
of him that way; and that statue is famous.

In spite of his usual benignity, this man had a temper. He used to get
very sore and warm at times, when unfairly criticized. At one of his
cabinet meetings, for instance, says a contemporary, he became "much
inflamed, got into one of those passions when he cannot command himself,
ran on much on the personal abuse which had been bestowed on him [and
said] that by God he had rather be in his grave than in his present
situation. That he had rather be on his farm than to be made emperor of
the world, and yet that they were charging him with wanting to be a
king. That that rascal Freneau sent him three of his papers every day,
as if he thought he would become the distributor of his papers; that he
could see nothing in this but an impudent design to insult him," etc.,
etc. Poor, stung human being; with all his serenity gone!

A great portrait painter said of him that his features were indicative
of the strongest and most ungovernable passions; and had he been born in
the forests, it was his opinion that he would have been the fiercest man
among the savage tribes.

This was the temperament that smoldered in him: the lurking flame that
he had to live with daily. But by reflection and resolution he obtained
a firm ascendancy over it.

One night when he was sixty-seven years old he woke up at about two in
the morning feeling very unwell. He had had a sore throat, and now he
couldn't swallow; felt suffocated. A miserable feeling. His wife would
have got up to call a servant; but he wouldn't allow her to do it lest
she should catch cold. He lay there for four hours in the cold bedroom,
his body in a chill, before receiving any attention or before even a
fire was lighted. Then they sent for the doctors. They bled the old hero
three times, taking the last time a quart. He was physically a vigorous
man, but this weakened him greatly. "I find I am going," he said. He was
in great pain, and said, "Doctor, I die hard." A little later he added:
"I feel I am going. I thank you for your attention, you had better not
take any more trouble about me, but let me go off quietly." His
breathing became much easier just at the end.

Did he look back over his life as he lay there, waiting, and what did he
think of it? That his farming had been interesting though difficult, and
much interrupted? That his fellow-men had really asked a good many
sacrifices of him, and not left him nearly as much time as he wished for
his fields? Or did he think that in death he would at least have no more
trouble with teeth? A set of dental instruments was found in one of his
drawers after the funeral. In others were memoranda about affairs of
state he had worked at, and various kinds of plows he had tried, and his
farming accounts.

His name was George Washington.



       *       *       *       *       *

Transcribers Notes:

A. Passages in italics are surrounded by _underscores_.

B. Table of Contents: Original text abbreviated some of the Chapter
   titles, specifically;

   1. "Improving the Lives of the Rich", (pg. 118) the full title is:
      "Annual Report of the League for Improving the Lives of the Rich";

   2. "A Wild Polish Hero", (pg. 165); the full title is: "A Wild Polish
      Hero and the Reverend Lyman Abbott"

C. Printers errors corrected;

  1. pg. 143 - "it" to "is" (I fear there is not.)
  2. pg. 180 - "he" to "be" (should be arranged.)

D. List of word variations appearing in this text which have been retained;

  1. "businesslike" and "business-like"
  2. "offhand" and "off-hand"
  3. "sunsets" and "sun-sets"
  4. "today" and "to-day"

E. In the words "Front-de-Boeuf" appearing once in this text on page 13,
   the printer used an [oe] ligature, which has been removed.





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