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

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


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

Title: Atlantic Classics
Author: Various
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Atlantic Classics" ***

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



produced from images available at The Internet Archive)



ATLANTIC
CLASSICS

The Atlantic Monthly Company
Boston

COPYRIGHT, 1916, BY THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY COMPANY

              TO

    The Pleasantest of Companions,
    Most Constant of Friends,
    Who Seeks not Flattery but Counsel,
    Provoked on Occasion only
    And never Vexing beyond Endurance,
    Wise with Ancient Wisdom,
    And Fresh from the Fountain of Youth--

              THE
       ATLANTIC CONTRIBUTOR



Preface


This volume, composed of essays which on their appearance in the
_Atlantic_ have met with especial favor and which from their character
seem to deserve a longer life than the paper covers of a magazine
permit, is published out of deference to a multitude of requests. Many
readers have asked that this essay or that be preserved in permanent
form, while many teachers both in college and high school have written
us that the usefulness of the _Atlantic_ in the classroom would be
enhanced by the appearance of an edition which, selecting from the
selection already made from month to month, should constitute a kind of
_Atlantic Anthology_, preserving the magazine's flavor and character and
offering, as it were, a sample of what it aims to be.

To give to this collection that variety which is the spice of a
magazine's life, the editor has selected a single contribution from each
of sixteen characteristic _Atlantic_ authors, making his choice from
material not greatly affected by the interests of the moment. In two or
three instances appears an essay which has already been published in
some collection of an author's work, and the _Atlantic_ wishes to
acknowledge with thanks permission from Houghton Mifflin Company to
print once again Professor Sharp's delightful "Turtle Eggs for Agassiz,"
which has been included in his volume "The Face of the Fields," and Mr.
Nicholson's agreeable delineation of the "Provincial American"; while it
gratefully adds its acknowledgment to Henry Holt and Company for the
reappearance of Mr. Strunsky's "The Street," already published in his
inimitable little volume, "Belshazzar Court."

Our chief thanks, now and always, are due to the _Atlantic's_
contributors, to whom we owe all we have or hope for. Were not our
design limited, we should gladly enrich this collection with much
material from our file, which is quite as worthy to represent the
magazine, but which, for one reason or another, we judge less suitable
for the purposes of the present volume.

THE EDITOR.



Contents


FIDDLERS ERRANT               _Robert Haven Schauffler_       1

TURTLE EGGS FOR AGASSIZ       _Dallas Lore Sharp_            23

A FATHER TO HIS FRESHMAN SON  _Edward Sanford Martin_        45

INTENSIVE LIVING              _Cornelia A. P. Comer_         59

REMINISCENCE WITH POSTSCRIPT  _Owen Wister_                  87

THE OTHER SIDE                _Margaret Sherwood_           110

ON AUTHORS                    _Margaret Preston Montague_   124

THE PROVINCIAL AMERICAN       _Meredith Nicholson_          130

OUR LADY POVERTY              _Agnes Repplier_              153

ENTERTAINING THE CANDIDATE    _Katharine Baker_             173

THE STREET                    _Simeon Strunsky_             181

FASHIONS IN MEN               _Katharine Fullerton Gerould_ 201

A CONFESSION IN PROSE         _Walter Prichard Eaton_       225

IN THE CHAIR                  _Ralph Bergengren_            243

THE PASSING OF INDOORS        _Zephine Humphrey_            252

THE CONTENTED HEART           _Lucy Elliot Keeler_          265



Fiddlers Errant

By Robert Haven Schauffler

I


MUSICAL adventures largely depend on your instrument. Go traveling with
a bassoon or clarionet packed in your trunk, and romance will pass you
by. But far otherwise will events shape themselves if you set forth with
a fiddle.

The moment I turned my back upon the humdrum flute and embraced the
'cello, that instrument of romance, things began happening thick and
fast in a hitherto uneventful life. I found that to sally forth with
your 'cello couchant under your arm, like a lance of the days of
chivalry, was to invite adventure. You tempted Providence to make things
interesting for you, up to the moment when you returned home and stood
your fat, melodious friend in the corner on his one leg--like the stork,
that other purveyor of joyful surprises.

One reason why the 'cellist is particularly liable to meet with musical
adventures is because the nature of his talent is so plainly visible.
The parcel under his arm labels him FIDDLER in larger scare-caps than
Mr. Hearst ever invented for headlines. It is seen of all men. There is
no concealment possible. For it would, indeed, be less practicable to
hide your 'cello under a bushel than to hide a bushel under your 'cello.

The non-reducible obesity of this instrument is apt to bring you
adventures of all sorts: wrathful sometimes, when urchins recognize it
as a heaven-sent target for snowballs; or when adults audibly quote Dean
Swift's asinine remark, 'He was a fiddler and therefore a rogue.'
Absurd, sometimes, as when the ticket-chopper in the subway bars your
path under the misapprehension that you are carrying a double-bass; and
when the small boys at the exit offer you a _Saturday Evening Post_ in
return for 'a tune on that there banjo.' But more often the episodes are
pleasant, as when your bulky trademark enables some kindred spirit to
recognize you as his predestined companion on impromptu adventures in
music.

I was at first almost painfully aware of my 'cello's conspicuousness
because I had abandoned for it an instrument so retiring by nature that
you might carry it till death in your side pocket, yet never have it
contribute an unusual episode to your career. But from the moment when I
discovered the exaggerated old fiddle in the attic, slumbering in its
black coffin, and wondered what it was all about, and brought it
resurrection and life,--events began. I have never known exactly what
was the magic inherent in the dull, guttural, discouraged protests of
the strings which I experimentally plucked that day. But their
songs-without-words-or-music seemed to me pregnant with promises of
beauty and romance far beyond the ken of the forthright flute. So then
and there I decided to embark upon the delicate and dangerous enterprise
of learning another instrument.

It was indeed delicate and dangerous because it had to be prosecuted as
secretly as sketching hostile fortifications. Father must not suspect. I
feared that if he heard the demonic groans of a G string in pain, or the
ghoulish whimperings of a manhandled A, he would mount to the attic,
throw back his head, look down upon me through those lower crescents of
his spectacles which always made him look a trifle unsympathetic, and
pronounce that baleful formula: 'My son, come into my study!' For I knew
he labored under the delusion that I already 'blew in' too much time on
the flute, away from the companionship of All Gaul, _enteuthen
exelaunei_, and Q.E.D. As for any additional instrument, I feared that
he would reduce it to a pulp at sight, and me too.

My first secret step was to secure a long strip of paper to be pasted on
the finger-board under the strings. It was all pockmarked with black
dots and letters, so that if the music told you to play the note G, all
you had to do was to contort your neck properly and remove your left
hand from the path of vision, then gaze cross-eyed and upside down at
the finger-board until you discovered the particular dot labeled G. The
next move was to clap your fingertip upon that dot and straighten out
your neck and eyes and apply the bow. Then out would come a triumphant
G,--that is, provided your fingers had not already rubbed G's
characteristically undershot lip so much as to erase away the letter's
individuality. In that case, to be sure, all your striving for G might
result only in C after all.

It was fascinating work, though. And every afternoon as the hour of
four, and father's 'constitutional,' approached, I would 'get set' like
a sprinter on my mark in the upper hall. The moment the front door
closed definitely behind my parent I would dash for the attic and
commence my cervical and ocular contortions. It was dangerous, too. For
it was so hard to stop betimes that one evening father made my blood run
cold by inquiring, 'What were you moaning about upstairs before dinner?'
I fear that I attributed these sounds to travail in Latin scholarship,
and an alleged sympathy for the struggles of the dying Gaul.

The paper finger-board was so efficacious that in a week I felt ready to
taste the first fruits of toil. So I insinuated a pair of musical
friends into the house one afternoon, to try an easy trio. They were a
brother and sister who played violin and piano. Things went so
brilliantly that we resolved on a public performance within a few days,
at the South High School. Alas, if I had only taken the supposed
rapidity of my progress with a grain of attic salt! But my only
solicitude was over the problem how to smuggle the too conspicuous
instrument to school, on the morning of the concert, without the
knowledge of a vigilant father. We decided at last that any such attempt
would be suicidal rashness. So I borrowed another boy's father's 'cello,
and, in default of the printed strip, I penciled under the strings notes
of the whereabouts of G, C, and so forth, making G shoot out the lip
with extra decision.

Our public performance was a _succès fou_,--that is, it was a _succès_
up to a certain point, and _fou_ beyond it, when one disaster followed
another. My fingers played so hard as to rub out G's lower lip. They
quite obliterated A, turned E into F, and B into a fair imitation of D.
These involuntary revisions led me to introduce the very boldest modern
harmonies into one of the most naïvely traditional strains of Cornelius
Gurlitt. Now, in the practice of the art of music one never with
impunity pours new harmonic wine into old bottles. The thing is simply
not done.

Perhaps, though, we might have muddled through somehow, had not my
violinist friend, during a rest, poked me cruelly in the ribs with his
bow and remarked in a coarse stage whisper, 'Look who's there!'

I looked, and gave a gasp. It might have passed for an excellent
rehearsal of my last gasp. In the very front row sat--father! He
appeared sardonic and businesslike. The fatal formula seemed already to
be trembling upon his lips. The remnants of B, C, D, and so forth
suddenly blurred before my crossed eyes. With the most dismal report our
old bottle of chamber music blew up, and I fled from the scene.

'My son, come into my study.'

In an ague I had waited half the evening for those hated words; and with
laggard step and miserable forebodings I followed across the hall. But
the day was destined to end in still another surprise. When father
finally faced me in that awful sanctum, he was actually smiling in the
jolliest manner, and I divined that the rod was going to be spared.

'What's all this?' he inquired. 'Thought you'd surprise your old dad,
eh? Come, tell me about it.'

So I told him about it; and he was so sympathetic that I found courage
for the great request.

'Pa,' I stammered, 'sometimes I think p'raps I don't hold the bow just
right. It scratches so. Please might I take just four lessons from a
regular teacher so I could learn all about how to play the 'cello?'

Father choked a little. But he looked jollier than ever as he replied,
'Yes, my son, on condition that you promise to lay the flute entirely
aside until you have learned _all_ about how to play the 'cello.'

I promised.

I have faithfully kept that promise.


II

Fiddlers errant are apt to rush in and occupy the centre of the stage
where angels in good and regular practice fear even to tune up. One of
the errant's pet vagaries is to volunteer his services in orchestras too
good for him. Not long after discovering that I would need more than
four lessons to learn quite all there was to know about the 'cello,--in
fact, just nine months after discovering the coffin in the attic,--I
'rushed in.' Hearing that _The Messiah_ was to be given at Christmas, I
approached the conductor and magniloquently informed him that I was a
'cellist and that, seeing he was he, I would contribute my services
without money and without price to the coming performance.

With a rather dubious air my terms were accepted. That same evening at
rehearsal I found that the entire bass section of the orchestra
consisted of three 'cellos. These were presided over by an inaudible,
and therefore negligible, little girl, a hoary sage who always arrived
very late and left very early, and myself. I shall never forget my
sensations when the sage, at a crucial point, suddenly packed up and
left me, an undeveloped musical Atlas, to bear the entire weight of the
orchestra on one pair of puny shoulders. Under these conditions it was a
memorable ordeal to read at sight 'The Trumpet Shall Sound.' The trumpet
sounded, indeed. That was more than the 'cello did in certain passages!
As for the dead being raised, however, that happened according to
programme.

After this high-tension episode, I pulled myself together, only to fall
into a cruel and unusual pit which the treacherous Händel dug for
'cellists by writing one single passage in that unfamiliar alto clef
which looks so much like the usual tenor clef that before the least
suspicion of impending disaster dawns, you are down in the pit,
hopelessly floundering.

I emerged from this rehearsal barely alive; but I had really enjoyed
myself so much more than I had suffered, or made others suffer, that my
initial impulse to rush at sight into strange orchestras now became
stereotyped into a habit. Since then what delightful evenings I have
spent in the old Café Martin and in the old Café Boulevarde where my
'cellist friends in the orchestras were ever ready to resign their
instruments into my hands for a course or two, and the leader always let
me pick out the music!

But one afternoon in upper Broadway I met with the sort of adventure
that figures in the fondest dreams of fiddlers errant. I had strolled
into the nearest hotel to use the telephone. As I passed through the
restaurant, my attention was caught by a vaguely familiar strain from
the musicians' gallery. Surely this was unusual spiritual provender to
offer a crowd of typical New York diners! More and more absorbed in
trying to recognize the music, I sank into an armchair in the lobby, the
telephone quite forgotten. The instruments were working themselves up to
some magnificent climax, and working me up at the same time. It began to
sound more and more like the greatest of all music,--the musician's very
holiest of holies. Surely I must be dreaming! My fingers crooked
themselves for a pinch. But just then the unseen instruments swung back
into the opening theme of the Brahms piano quartette in A major.
Merciful heavens! A Brahms quartette in Broadway? Pan in Wall Street?
Silence. With three jumps I was up in the little gallery, wringing the
hands of those performers and calling down blessings upon their
quixotism as musical missionaries. 'Missionaries?' echoed the leader in
amusement. 'Ah, no. We could never hope to convert those down there.' He
waved a scornful hand at the consumers of lobster below. 'Now and then
we play Brahms just in order that we may save our own souls.' The
'cellist rose, saluted, and extended his bow in my direction, like some
proud commander surrendering his sword. 'Will it please you,' he
inquired, 'to play the next movement?' It pleased me.


III

Fiddlers errant find that traveling with a 'cello is almost as good--and
almost as bad--as traveling with a child. It helps you, for example, in
cultivating friendly relations with fellow passengers. Suppose there is
a broken wheel, or the engineer is waiting for Number 26 to pass, or you
are stalled for three days in a blizzard,--what more jolly than to
undress your 'cello and play each of those present the tune he would
most like to hear, and lead the congregational singing of 'Dixie,'
'Tipperary,' 'Drink to me only,' and 'Home, Sweet Home'? A fiddle may
even make tenable one of those railway junctions which Stevenson cursed
as the nadir of intrinsic uninterestingness, and which Mr. Clayton
Hamilton praised with such _brio_.

But this is only the bright side. In some ways traveling with a 'cello
is as uncomfortable as traveling, not only with a baby, but with a
donkey. Unless indeed you have an instrument with a convenient hinged
door in the back so that you may pack it full of pyjamas, collars,
brushes, MSS, and so forth, thus dispensing with a bag; or unless you
can calk up its _f_ holes and use the instrument as a canoe on occasion,
a 'cello is about as inconvenient a traveling companion as the corpse in
R.L.S.'s tale, which would insist on getting into the wrong box.

Some idea of the awkwardness of taking the 'cello along in a sleeping
car may be gathered from its nicknames. It is called the 'bull-fiddle.'
It is called the 'dog-house.' But, unlike either bulls or kennels, it
cannot safely be forwarded by freight or express. The formula for
Pullman travel with a 'cello is as follows: First ascertain whether the
conductor will let you aboard with the instrument. If not, try the next
train. When successful, fee the porter heavily at sight, thus softening
his heart so that he will assign the only spare upper birth to your
baby. And warn him in impressive tones that the instrument is priceless,
and on no account to touch it. You need not fear thieves. Sooner than
steal a 'cello, the light-fingered would button his coat over a baby
white elephant and let it tusk his vitals.

I have cause to remember my first and only holiday trip with the
Princeton Glee, Mandolin, and Banjo Clubs. My function being to play
solos and to assist the Mandolin Club, I demanded for the 'cello an
upper berth in the special car. But I was overwhelmed with howls of
derision and assurances that I was a very fresh soph indeed. The first
night, my instrument reposed in some mysterious recess under a leaky
cooler, where all too much water flowed under its bridge before the
dawn. The second night it was compressed into a strait and narrow closet
with brushes and brooms, whence it emerged with a hollow chest, a stoop,
a consumptive quality of voice, and the malady known as _compressio
pontis_. Thereafter it occupied the same upper with me. Twice I overlaid
it, with well-nigh fatal consequences.

Short-distance travel with a 'cello is not much more agreeable. In
trolleys you have to hold it more delicately than any babe, and be ready
to give a straight-arm to any one who lurches in your direction, and to
raise it from the floor every time you jolt over cross-tracks or run
over pedestrians, for fear of jarring the delicate adjustment of the
sound-post. As for a holiday crush down town, the best way to negotiate
it with a 'cello is to fix the sharp end-pin in place, and then, holding
the instrument at charge like a bayonet, impale those who seem most
likely to break its ribs.

After my full share of such experiences, I learned that if you are a
fiddler errant it is better to leave your instrument at home and live on
the country, as it were, trusting to the fact that you can beg, borrow,
or rent some kind of fiddle and of chamber music almost anywhere, if you
know how to go about it.


IV

Only don't try it in Sicily!

For several months I had buried the fiddler in the errant pure and
simple, when, one sunset, across a gorge in Monte Venere, my first
strain of Sicilian music floated, to reawaken in me all the primeval
instincts of the musical adventurer. The melody came from the reed pipe
of a goat-herd as he drove his flock down into Taormina. Such a pipe was
perhaps to Theocritus what the fiddles of Stradivarius are to us. It was
pleasant to imagine that this goat-herd's music might possibly be the
same that used to inspire the tenderest of Sicilian poets twenty-three
hundred years ago.

Piercingly sweet, indescribably pathetic, the melody recalled the Largo
in Dvořák's New World Symphony. Yet, there on the mountain-side, with
Ætna rosy on the right, and the purple Mediterranean shimmering far
below, the voice of the reed sounded more divine than any English horn
or Boehm flute I had ever heard singing in the depths of a modern
orchestra. And I began to doubt whether music was so completely a
product of the last three centuries as it purported to be.

But that evening, when the goat-herd, ensnared by American gold, turned
himself into a modern chamber musician in our hotel room, I regained
poise. Removed from its properly romantic setting, like seaweed from the
sea, the pastoral stop of Theocritus became unmistakably a penny
whistle, with an intonation of the whistle's conventional purity. Our
captured Comatas seemed to realize that the environment was against him
and that things were going 'contrairy'; for he refused to venture on any
of the soft Lydian airs of Monte Venere, and confined himself strictly
to tarantellas, native dances, which he played with a magnificent
feeling for rhythm (if not for in-tuneness) while, with a pencil, I
caught--or muffed--them on the fly. One was to this effect:--

[Illustration: musical notation]

While this was going on, a chance hotel acquaintance dropped into the
room and revealed himself as a professor by explaining that the
tarantella was named for its birthplace, the old Greek city of Taranto
over yonder in the heel of the Italian boot; that dancing it was once
considered the only cure for the maddening bite of the spider known as
the Lycosa Tarantula; and that some of the melodies our goat-herd was
playing might possibly be ancient Greek tunes, handed down traditionally
in Taranto, and later dispersed over Calabria and Sicily.

This all sounded rather academic. But his next words sent the little
professor soaring in our estimation. He disclosed himself as a fiddler
errant by wistfully remarking that all this made him long for two
things: his violin, and a chance to play trios. Right heartily did we
introduce ourselves as pianist and 'cellist errant at his service. And
he and I decided to visit Catania next day to scout for fiddles and
music. We thought we would look for the music first.

Next day, accordingly, we invaded the largest music store in Catania.
Did they have trios for violin, violoncello, and piano? 'Certainly!' We
were shown a derangement of La Somnambula for violin and piano, and
another for 'cello and piano. If we omitted one of the piano parts, we
were assured, a very beautiful trio would result, as surely as one from
four makes three.

Finding us hard to please, the storekeeper referred us to the conductor
of the Opera, who offered to rent us all the standard works of chamber
music. The 'trios' he offered us turned out to be elementary pieces
labeled 'For Piano and Violin or 'Cello.' But nothing we could say was
able to persuade our conductor that 'or' did not mean 'and.' To this day
I feel sure that he is ready to defend his interpretation of this word
against all comers.

We turned three more music stores upside down and had already abandoned
the hunt in despair when we discovered a fourth in a narrow side street.
There were only five minutes in which to catch the train; but in thirty
seconds we had unearthed a genuine piece of chamber music. Hallelujah!
it was the finale of the first Beethoven trio!

Suddenly the oil of joy curdled to mourning. The thing was an
arrangement for piano solo! We left hurriedly when the proprietor began
assuring us that the original effect would be secured if the piano was
doubled in the treble by the violin and in the bass by the 'cello.

This piano solo was the nearest approach to chamber music that a
thorough search and research revealed in the island of Trinacria. But
afterwards, recollecting the misadventure in tranquility, we concluded
that it was as absurd to look for chamber music in Sicily as to look for
'Die Wacht am Rhein' among the idylls of Theocritus.


V

SCENE: a city composed of one department store and three houses, on the
forbidding shores of Newfoundland.

TIME: one of those times when a fellow needs a friend,--when he's in a
stern, strange land on pleasure bent--and has to have a check cashed. I
don't know why it is that one always runs out of ready money in
Newfoundland. Perhaps because salmon flies are such fleeting creatures
of a day that you must send many postal orders to St. Johns for more.
Perhaps because the customs officials at Port au Basques make you
deposit so much duty on your fishing tackle. At any rate, there I was
penniless, with the burly storekeeper scowling in a savage manner at my
check and not knowing at all whether to take a chance on it. Finally he
thought he wouldn't, but conceded that I might spend a night under his
roof, as there was really nowhere else to go.

At this pass something made me think of music. Perhaps it was the parlor
piano which, when new, back in the stone age, had probably been in tune.
I inquired whether there were any other instruments. The wreckage of a
violin was produced. With two pieces of string and a table fork I set up
the prostrate sound-post. I glued together the bridge and put it in
position. The technique of the angler proved helpful in splicing
together some strange-looking strings. The A was eked out with a piece
of salmon leader, while an old mandolin yielded a wire E.

When all was at last ready, a fresh difficulty occurred to me. The
violin was an instrument which I had never learned to play! But
necessity is the mother of pretension. I thought of that check. And
placing the small fiddle carefully between my knees, I pretended that it
was a 'cello.

So the daughter of the house seated herself at the relic of the stone
age, and we had a concert. Newfoundland appeared not to be over-finicky
in the matter of pitch and tone-quality. And how it did enjoy music! As
the audience was of Scotch-English-Irish descent, we rendered equal
parts of 'Comin' Through the Rye,' 'God Save the King,' and 'Kathleen
Mavourneen.' Then the proprietor requested the Sextette from _Lucia_.
While it was forthcoming he toyed furtively with his bandana. When it
ceased he encored it with all his might. Then he slipped out storewards
and presently returned with the fattest, blackest, most
formidable-looking cigar I ever saw, which he gravely proffered me.

'We like' he remarked in his quaint idiom, 'to hear music at scattered
times.' He was trying to affect indifference. But his gruff voice shook,
and I knew then that music hath charms to cash the savage check.


VI

This essay has rambled on an unconscionable while. The shades of
editorial night are already descending; and still I have not yet
described one of those unexpected and perfect orgies of chamber
music,--one of those little earthly paradises full of

    Soul-satisfying strains--alas! too few,--

which true fiddlers errant hope to find in each new place they visit,
but which usually keep well in advance of them, like the foot of the
rainbow.

One such adventure came to me not long ago in a California city, while I
was gathering material for a book of travel. On my first evening there I
was taken to dine with a well-known writer in his beautiful home, which
he had built with his own two hands in the Spanish mission style during
fourteen years of joyous labor. This gentleman had no idea that I was to
be thrust upon him. But his hospitality went so far as to insist, before
the evening was over, that I must stay a week. He would not take no for
an answer. And for my part I had no desire to say no, because he was a
delightful person, his home with its leaf-filled patio was most
alluring, and I had discovered promising possibilities for fiddlers
errant in the splendid music-room and the collection of phonograph
records of Indian music which mine host had himself made in Arizona and
New Mexico. Then too there were rumors of skillful musical vagabonds in
the vicinity.

Such an environment fairly cried aloud for impromptu fiddling. So, armed
with a note to the best violinist in that part of California, I set
forth next morning on the trail of the ideal orgy. At the address given
I was told that my man had moved and his address was not known. That was
a setback, indeed! But determined fiddlers errant usually land on their
feet. On the way back I chanced to hear some masterly strains of
Bach-on-the-violin issuing from a brown bungalow. And ringing at a
venture I was confronted by the very man I sought.

Blocking the doorway, he read the note, looking as bored as
professionals usually do when asked to play with amateurs. But just as
he began to tell me how busy he was and how impossible, and so forth, he
happened to glance again at the envelope, and a very slight gleam came
into his eye.

'You're not by any chance the fellow who wrote that thing about fiddlers
in the _Atlantic_, are you?' he inquired. At my nod he very flatteringly
unblocked the doorway and dragged me inside, pumping my hand up and down
in a painful manner, shouting for his wife, and making various kind
representations, all at the same time. And his talk gradually simmered
down into an argument that of course the only thing to do was to fiddle
together that very night.

I asked who had the best 'cello in town. He told me the man's name, but
looked dubious. 'The trouble is, he loves that big Amati as if it were
twins. I doubt if he could bring himself to lend it to any one. Anyway,
let's try.'

He scribbled a card to his 'cellist friend and promised, if I were
successful, to bring along a good pianist and play trios in the evening.
So I set forth on the trail of the Amati. Its owner had just finished
his noonday stint in a hotel orchestra and looked somewhat tired and
cross. He glanced at the card and then assumed a most conservative
expression and tried to fob off on me a cheap 'cello belonging to one of
his pupils, which sounded very much as a three-cent cigar tastes. At
this point I gave him the secret thumb-position grip and whispered into
his ear one of those magic pass words of the craft which in a trice
convinced him that I was in a position to dandle a 'cello with as tender
solicitude as any man alive. On my promising, moreover, to taxicab it
both ways with the sacred burden, he passed the Amati over, and the orgy
of fiddlers errant was assured.

And that night how those beautiful Spanish walls did resound to
Beethoven and Dvořák and Brahms, most originally interspersed with the
voice of the Mexican servant's guitar, with strange, lovely songs of the
aboriginal West and South,--and with the bottled sunshine of Californian
hill-slopes; while El Alcalde Maiore, the lone gnarled tree-giant that
filled the patio, looked in through the open windows and contributed, by
way of accompaniment, leafy arpeggios _sotto voce_. And sometimes,
during rests, I remembered to be thankful that I had once snapped my
fingers at the howling wolf, and at fat pot-boilers, while I scribbled
for the _Atlantic_ that little essay on fiddlers which had gained me
this priceless evening.



Turtle Eggs for Agassiz

By Dallas Lore Sharp


It is one of the wonders of the world that so few books are written.
With every human being a possible book, and with many a human being
capable of becoming more books than the world could contain, is it not
amazing that the books of men are so few? and so stupid!

I took down, recently, from the shelves of a great public library, the
four volumes of Agassiz's _Contributions to the Natural History of the
United States_. I doubt if anybody but the charwoman, with her duster,
had touched those volumes for twenty-five years. They are an excessively
learned, a monumental, an epoch-making work, the fruit of vast and
heroic labors, with colored plates on stone, showing the turtles of the
United States, and their embryology. The work was published more than
half a century ago (by subscription); but it looked old beyond its
years--massive, heavy, weathered, as if dug from the rocks. It was
difficult to feel that Agassiz could have written it--could have built
it, grown it, for the laminated pile had required for its growth, the
patience and painstaking care of a process of nature, as if it were a
kind of printed coral reef. Agassiz do this? The big, human, magnetic
man at work upon these pages of capital letters, Roman figures,
brackets, and parentheses in explanation of the pages of diagrams and
plates! I turned away with a sigh from the weary learning, to read the
preface.

When a great man writes a great book he usually flings a preface after
it, and thereby saves it, sometimes, from oblivion. Whether so or not,
the best things in most books are their prefaces. It was not, however,
the quality of the preface to these great volumes that interested me,
but rather the wicked waste of durable book-material that went to its
making. Reading down through the catalogue of human names and of thanks
for help received, I came to a sentence beginning:--

'In New England I have myself collected largely; but I have also
received valuable contributions from the late Rev. Zadoc Thompson of
Burlington; ... from Mr. D. Henry Thoreau of Concord; ... and from Mr.
J. W. P. Jenks of Middleboro'.' And then it hastens on with the thanks
in order to get to the turtles, as if turtles were the one and only
thing of real importance in all the world.

Turtles no doubt are important, extremely important, embryologically, as
part of our genealogical tree; but they are away down among the roots
of the tree as compared with the late Rev. Zadoc Thompson of Burlington.
I happen to know nothing about the Rev. Zadoc, but to me he looks very
interesting. Indeed any reverend gentleman of his name and day who would
catch turtles for Agassiz must have been interesting. And as for Henry
Thoreau, we know he was interesting. The rarest wood-turtle in the
United States was not so rare a specimen as this gentleman of Walden
Woods and Concord. We are glad even for this line in the preface about
him; glad to know that he tried, in this untranscendental way, to serve
his day and generation. If Agassiz had only put a chapter in his turtle
book about it! But this is the material he wasted, this and more of the
same human sort, for the Mr. Jenks of Middleboro' (at the end of the
quotation) was, years later, an old college professor of mine, who told
me some of the particulars of his turtle contributions, particulars
which Agassiz should have found a place for in his big book. The preface
says merely that this gentleman sent turtles to Cambridge by the
thousands--brief and scanty recognition. For that is not the only thing
this gentleman did. On one occasion he sent, not turtles, but turtle
_eggs_ to Cambridge--_brought_ them, I should say; and all there is to
show for it, so far as I could discover, is a sectional drawing of a bit
of the mesoblastic layer of one of the eggs!

Of course, Agassiz wanted to make that mesoblastic drawing, or some
other equally important drawing, and had to have the fresh turtle egg to
draw it from. He had to have it, and he got it. A great man, when he
wants a certain turtle egg, at a certain time, always gets it, for he
gets someone else to get it. I am glad he got it. But what makes me sad
and impatient is that he did not think it worth while to tell about the
getting of it, and so made merely a learned turtle book of what might
have been an exceedingly interesting human book.

It would seem, naturally, that there could be nothing unusual or
interesting about the getting of turtle eggs when you want them. Nothing
at all, if you should chance to want the eggs as you chance to find
them. So with anything else,--good copper stock, for instance, if you
should chance to want it, and should chance to be along when they chance
to be giving it away. But if you want copper stock, say of C & H
quality, _when_ you want it, and are bound to have it, then you must
command more than a college professor's salary. And likewise, precisely,
when it is turtle eggs that you are bound to have.

Agassiz wanted those turtle eggs when he wanted them--not a minute over
three hours from the minute they were laid. Yet even that does not seem
exacting, hardly more difficult than the getting of hen eggs only three
hours old. Just so, provided the professor could have had his private
turtle-coop in Harvard Yard; and provided he could have made his
turtles lay. But turtles will not respond, like hens, to meat-scraps and
the warm mash. The professor's problem was not to get from a mud
turtle's nest in the back yard to the table in the laboratory; but to
get from the laboratory in Cambridge to some pond when the turtles were
laying, and back to the laboratory within the limited time. And this, in
the days of Darius Green, might have called for nice and discriminating
work--as it did.

Agassiz had been engaged for a long time upon his _Contributions_. He
had brought the great work nearly to a finish. It was, indeed, finished
but for one small yet very important bit of observation: he had carried
the turtle egg through every stage of its development with the single
exception of one--the very earliest--that stage of first cleavages, when
the cell begins to segment, immediately upon its being laid. That
beginning stage had brought the _Contributions_ to a halt. To get eggs
that were fresh enough to show the incubation at this period had been
impossible.

There were several ways that Agassiz might have proceeded: he might have
got a leave of absence for the spring term, taken his laboratory to some
pond inhabited by turtles, and there camped until he should catch the
reptile digging out her nest. But there were difficulties in all of
that--as those who are college professors and naturalists know. As this
was quite out of the question, he did the easiest thing--asked Mr.
Jenks of Middleboro' to get him the eggs. Mr. Jenks got them. Agassiz
knew all about his getting of them; and I say the strange and irritating
thing is, that Agassiz did not think it worth while to tell us about it,
at least in the preface to his monumental work.

It was many years later that Mr. Jenks, then a gray-haired college
professor, told me how he got those eggs to Agassiz.

'I was principal of an academy, during my younger years,' he began, 'and
was busy one day with my classes, when a large man suddenly filled the
door-way of the room, smiled to the four corners of the room, and called
out with a big, quick voice that he was Professor Agassiz.

'Of course he was. I knew it, even before he had had time to shout it to
me across the room.

'Would I get him some turtle eggs? he called. Yes, I would. And would I
get them to Cambridge within three hours from the time they were laid?
Yes, I would. And I did. And it was worth the doing. But I did it only
once.

'When I promised Agassiz those eggs I knew where I was going to get
them. I had got turtle eggs there before--at a particular patch of sandy
shore along a pond, a few miles distant from the academy.

'Three hours was the limit. From the railroad station to Boston was
thirty-five miles; from the pond to the station was perhaps three or
four miles; from Boston to Cambridge we called about three miles. Forty
miles in round numbers! We figured it all out before he returned, and
got the trip down to two hours,--record time:--driving from the pond to
the station; from the station by express train to Boston; from Boston by
cab to Cambridge. This left an easy hour for accidents and delays.

'Cab and car and carriage we reckoned into our time-table; but what we
didn't figure on was the turtle.' And he paused abruptly.

'Young man,' he went on, his shaggy brows and spectacles hardly hiding
the twinkle in the eyes that were bent severely upon me, 'young man,
when _you_ go after turtle eggs, take into account the turtle. No! no!
that's bad advice. Youth never reckons on the turtle--and youth seldom
ought to. Only old age does that; and old age would never have got those
turtle eggs to Agassiz.

'It was in the early spring that Agassiz came to the academy, long
before there was any likelihood of the turtles laying. But I was eager
for the quest, and so fearful of failure, that I started out to watch at
the pond, fully two weeks ahead of the time that the turtles might be
expected to lay. I remember the date clearly: it was May 14.

'A little before dawn--along near three o'clock--I would drive over to
the pond, hitch my horse near by, settle myself quietly among some
thick cedars close to the sandy shore, and there I would wait, my kettle
of sand ready, my eye covering the whole sleeping pond. Here among the
cedars I would eat my breakfast, and then get back in good season to
open the academy for the morning session.

'And so the watch began.

'I soon came to know individually the dozen or more turtles that kept to
my side of the pond. Shortly after the cold mist would lift and melt
away, they would stick up their heads through the quiet water; and as
the sun slanted down over the ragged rim of tree-tops, the slow things
would float into the warm, lighted spots, or crawl out and doze
comfortably on the hummocks and snags.

'What fragrant mornings those were! How fresh and new and unbreathed!
The pond odors, the woods odors, the odors of the ploughed fields--of
water-lily, and wild grape, and the dew-laid soil! I can taste them yet,
and hear them yet--the still, large sounds of the waking day--the
pickerel breaking the quiet with his swirl; the kingfisher dropping
anchor; the stir of feet and wings among the trees. And then the thought
of the great book being held up for me! Those were rare mornings!

'But there began to be a good many of them, for the turtles showed no
desire to lay. They sprawled in the sun, and never one came out upon the
sand as if she intended to help on the great professor's book. The
embryology of her eggs was of small concern to her; her contribution to
the Natural History of the United States could wait.

'And it did wait. I began my watch on the 14th of May; June first found
me still among the cedars, still waiting, as I had waited every morning,
Sundays and rainy days alike. June first was a perfect morning, but
every turtle slid out upon her log, as if egg-laying might be a matter
strictly of next year.

'I began to grow uneasy,--not impatient yet, for a naturalist learns his
lesson of patience early, and for all his years; but I began to fear
lest, by some subtile sense, my presence might somehow be known to the
creatures; that they might have gone to some other place to lay, while I
was away at the school-room.

'I watched on to the end of the first week, on to the end of the second
week in June, seeing the mists rise and vanish every morning, and along
with them vanish, more and more, the poetry of my early morning vigil.
Poetry and rheumatism cannot long dwell together in the same clump of
cedars, and I had begun to feel the rheumatism. A month of morning mists
wrapping me around had at last soaked through to my bones. But Agassiz
was waiting, and the world was waiting, for those turtle eggs; and I
would wait. It was all I could do, for there is no use bringing a china
nest-egg to a turtle; she is not open to any such delicate suggestion.

'Then came a mid-June Sunday morning, with dawn breaking a little after
three: a warm, wide-awake dawn, with the level mist lifted from the
level surface of the pond a full hour higher than I had seen it any
morning before.

'This was the day: I knew it. I have heard persons say that they can
hear the grass grow; that they know by some extra sense when danger is
nigh. That we have these extra senses I fully believe, and I believe
they can be sharpened by cultivation. For a month I had been watching,
brooding over this pond, and now I knew. I felt a stirring of the pulse
of things that the cold-hearted turtles could no more escape than could
the clods and I.

'Leaving my horse unhitched, as if he, too, understood, I slipped
eagerly into my covert for a look at the pond. As I did so, a large
pickerel ploughed a furrow out through the spatter-docks, and in his
wake rose the head of an enormous turtle. Swinging slowly around, the
creature headed straight for the shore, and without a pause, scrambled
out on the sand.

'She was about the size of a big scoop-shovel; but that was not what
excited me, so much as her manner, and the gait at which she moved; for
there was method in it and fixed purpose. On she came, shuffling over
the sand toward the higher open fields, with a hurried, determined
see-saw that was taking her somewhere in particular, and that was bound
to get her there on time.

'I held my breath. Had she been a dinosaurian making Mesozoic
footprints, I could not have been more fearful. For footprints in the
Mesozoic mud, or in the sands of time, were as nothing to me when
compared with fresh turtle eggs in the sands of this pond.

'But over the strip of sand, without a stop, she paddled, and up a
narrow cow-path into the high grass along a fence. Then up the narrow
cow-path, on all fours, just like another turtle, I paddled, and into
the high, wet grass along the fence.

'I kept well within sound of her, for she moved recklessly, leaving a
trail of flattened grass a foot and a half wide. I wanted to stand
up,--and I don't believe I could have turned her back with a rail,--but
I was afraid if she saw me that she might return indefinitely to the
pond; so on I went, flat to the ground, squeezing through the lower
rails of the fence, as if the field beyond were a melon-patch. It was
nothing of the kind, only a wild, uncomfortable pasture, full of
dewberry vines, and very discouraging. They were excessively wet vines
and briery. I pulled my coat-sleeves as far over my fists as I could get
them, and with the tin pail of sand swinging from between my teeth to
avoid noise, I stumped fiercely, but silently, on after the turtle.

'She was laying her course, I thought, straight down the length of this
dreadful pasture, when, not far from the fence, she suddenly hove to,
warped herself short about, and came back, barely clearing me, at a clip
that was thrilling. I warped about, too, and in her wake bore down
across the corner of the pasture, across the powdery public road, and on
to a fence along a field of young corn.

'I was somewhat wet by this time, but not so wet as I had been before,
wallowing through the deep, dry dust of the road. Hurrying up behind a
large tree by the fence, I peered down the corn-rows and saw the turtle
stop, and begin to paw about in the loose, soft soil. She was going to
lay!

'I held on to the tree and watched, as she tried this place, and that
place, and the other place--the eternally feminine!--But _the_ place,
evidently, was hard to find. What could a female turtle do with a whole
field of possible nests to choose from? Then at last she found it, and
whirling about, she backed quickly at it, and, tail first, began to bury
herself before my staring eyes.

'Those were not the supreme moments of my life; perhaps those moments
came later that day; but those certainly were among the slowest, most
dreadfully mixed of moments that I ever experienced. They were hours
long. There she was, her shell just showing, like some old hulk in the
sand alongshore. And how long would she stay there? and how should I
know if she had laid an egg?

'I could still wait. And so I waited, when, over the freshly awakened
fields, floated four mellow strokes from the distant town clock.

'Four o'clock! Why, there was no train until seven! No train for three
hours! The eggs would spoil! Then with a rush it came over me that this
was Sunday morning, and there was no regular seven o'clock train,--none
till after nine.

'I think I should have fainted had not the turtle just then begun
crawling off. I was weak and dizzy; but there, there in the sand, were
the eggs! and Agassiz! and the great book! And I cleared the fence, and
the forty miles that lay between me and Cambridge, at a single jump. He
should have them, trains or no. Those eggs should go to Agassiz by seven
o'clock, if I had to gallop every mile of the way. Forty miles! Any
horse could cover it in three hours, if he had to; and upsetting the
astonished turtle, I scooped out her round, white eggs.

'On a bed of sand in the bottom of the pail I laid them, with what care
my trembling fingers allowed; filled in between them with more sand; so
with another layer to the rim; and covering all smoothly with more sand,
I ran back for my horse.

'That horse knew, as well as I, that the turtles had laid, and that he
was to get those eggs to Agassiz. He turned out of that field into the
road on two wheels, a thing he had not done for twenty years, doubling
me up before the dashboard, the pail of eggs miraculously lodged between
my knees.

'I let him out. If only he could keep this pace all the way to
Cambridge! or even half way there; and I would have time to finish the
trip on foot. I shouted him on, holding to the dasher with one hand, the
pail of eggs with the other, not daring to get off my knees, though the
bang on them, as we pounded down the wood road, was terrific. But
nothing must happen to the eggs; they must not be jarred, or even turned
over in the sand before they came to Agassiz.

'In order to get out on the pike it was necessary to drive back away
from Boston toward the town. We had nearly covered the distance, and
were rounding a turn from the woods into the open fields, when, ahead of
me, at the station it seemed, I heard the quick sharp whistle of a
locomotive.

'What did it mean? Then followed the _puff_, _puff_, _puff_, of a
starting train. But what train? Which way going? And jumping to my feet
for a longer view, I pulled into a side road, that paralleled the track,
and headed hard for the station.

'We reeled along. The station was still out of sight, but from behind
the bushes that shut it from view, rose the smoke of a moving engine. It
was perhaps a mile away, but we were approaching, head on, and topping
a little hill I swept down upon a freight train, the black smoke pouring
from the stack, as the mighty creature pulled itself together for its
swift run down the rails.

'My horse was on the gallop, going with the track, and straight toward
the coming train. The sight of it almost maddened me--the bare thought
of it, on the road to Boston! On I went; on it came, a half--a quarter
of a mile between us, when suddenly my road shot out along an unfenced
field with only a level stretch of sod between me and the engine.

'With a pull that lifted the horse from his feet, I swung him into the
field and sent him straight as an arrow for the track. That train should
carry me and my eggs to Boston!

'The engineer pulled the rope. He saw me standing up in the rig, saw my
hat blow off, saw me wave my arms, saw the tin pail swing in my teeth,
and he jerked out a succession of sharp halts! But it was he who should
halt, not I; and on we went, the horse with a flounder landing the
carriage on top of the track.

'The train was already grinding to a stop; but before it was near a
standstill, I had backed off the track, jumped out, and, running down
the rails with the astonished engineers gaping at me, had swung aboard
the cab.

'They offered no resistance; they hadn't had time. Nor did they have the
disposition, for I looked strange, not to say dangerous. Hatless,
dew-soaked, smeared with yellow mud, and holding, as if it were a baby
or a bomb, a little tin pail of sand.

"'_Crazy_," the fireman muttered, looking to the engineer for his cue.

'I had been crazy, perhaps, but I was not crazy now.

'"Throw her wide open," I commanded. "Wide open! These are fresh turtle
eggs for Professor Agassiz of Cambridge. He must have them before
breakfast."

'Then they knew I was crazy, and evidently thinking it best to humor me,
threw the throttle wide open, and away we went.

'I kissed my hand to the horse, grazing unconcernedly in the open field,
and gave a smile to my crew. That was all I could give them, and hold
myself and the eggs together. But the smile was enough. And they smiled
through their smut at me, though one of them held fast to his shovel,
while the other kept his hand upon a big, ugly wrench. Neither of them
spoke to me, but above the roar of the swaying engine I caught enough of
their broken talk to understand that they were driving under a full head
of steam, with the intention of handing me over to the Boston police, as
perhaps the easiest way of disposing of me.

'I was only afraid that they would try it at the next station. But that
station whizzed past without a bit of slack, and the next, and the next;
when it came over me that this was the through freight, which should
have passed in the night, and was making up lost time.

'Only the fear of the shovel and the wrench kept me from shaking hands
with both men at this discovery. But I beamed at them; and they at me. I
was enjoying it. The unwonted jar beneath my feet was wrinkling my
diaphragm with spasms of delight. And the fireman beamed at the
engineer, with a look that said, "See the lunatic grin; he likes it!"

'He did like it. How the iron wheels sang to me as they took the rails!
How the rushing wind in my ears sang to me! From my stand on the
fireman's side of the cab I could catch a glimpse of the track just
ahead of the engine, where the ties seemed to leap into the throat of
the mile-devouring monster. The joy of it! of seeing space swallowed by
the mile!

'I shifted the eggs from hand to hand and thought of my horse, of
Agassiz, of the great book, of my great luck,--luck,--luck,--until the
multitudinous tongues of the thundering train were all chiming "luck!
luck! luck!" They knew! they understood! This beast of fire and tireless
wheels was doing its very best to get the eggs to Agassiz!

'We swung out past the Blue Hills, and yonder flashed the morning sun
from the towering dome of the State House. I might have leaped from the
cab and run the rest of the way on foot, had I not caught the eye of the
engineer watching me narrowly. I was not in Boston yet, nor in
Cambridge either. I was an escaped lunatic, who had held up a train, and
forced it to carry me to Boston.

'Perhaps I had overdone the lunacy business. Suppose these two men
should take it into their heads to turn me over to the police, whether I
would or no? I could never explain the case in time to get the eggs to
Agassiz. I looked at my watch. There were still a few minutes left, in
which I might explain to these men, who, all at once, had become my
captors. But it was too late. Nothing could avail against my actions, my
appearance, and my little pail of sand.

'I had not thought of my appearance before. Here I was, face and clothes
caked with yellow mud, my hair wild and matted, my hat gone, and in my
full-grown hands a tiny tin pail of sand, as if I had been digging all
night with a tiny, tin shovel on the shore! And thus to appear in the
decent streets of Boston of a Sunday morning!

'I began to feel like a hunted criminal. The situation was serious, or
might be, and rather desperately funny at its best. I must in some way
have shown my new fears, for both men watched me more sharply.

'Suddenly, as we were nearing the outer freightyard, the train slowed
down and came to a stop. I was ready to jump, but I had no chance. They
had nothing to do, apparently, but to guard me. I looked at my watch
again. What time we had made! It was only six o'clock, with a whole
hour to get to Cambridge.

'But I didn't like this delay. Five minutes--ten--went by.

"'Gentlemen," I began, but was cut short by an express train coming
past. We were moving again, on--into a siding; on--on to the main track;
and on with a bump and a crash and a succession of crashes, running the
length of the train; on at a turtle's pace, but on,--when the fireman,
quickly jumping for the bell-rope, left the way to the step free,
and--the chance had come!

'I never touched the step, but landed in the soft sand at the side of
the track, and made a line for the yard fence.

'There was no hue or cry. I glanced over my shoulder to see if they were
after me. Evidently their hands were full, and they didn't know I had
gone.

'But I had gone; and was ready to drop over the high board-fence, when
it occurred to me that I might drop into a policeman's arms. Hanging my
pail in a splint on top of a post, I peered cautiously over--a very wise
thing to do before you jump a high board-fence. There, crossing the open
square toward the station, was a big, burly fellow with a club--looking
for me.

'I flattened for a moment, when some one in the yard yelled at me. I
preferred the policeman, and grabbing my pail I slid over to the
street. The policeman moved on past the corner of the station out of
sight. The square was free, and yonder stood a cab!

'Time was flying now. Here was the last lap. The cabman saw me coming,
and squared away. I waved a paper dollar at him, but he only stared the
more. A dollar can cover a good deal, but I was too much for one dollar.
I pulled out another, thrust them both at him, and dodged into the cab,
calling, "Cambridge!"

'He would have taken me straight to the police station, had I not said,
"Harvard College. Professor Agassiz's house! I've got eggs for Agassiz";
and pushed another dollar up at him through the hole.

'It was nearly half-past six.

'"Let him go!" I ordered. "Here's another dollar if you make Agassiz's
house in twenty minutes. Let him out; never mind the police!"

'He evidently knew the police, or there were none around at that time on
a Sunday morning. We went down the sleeping streets, as I had gone down
the wood roads from the pond two hours before, but with the rattle and
crash now of a fire brigade. Whirling a corner into Cambridge Street, we
took the bridge at a gallop, the driver shouting out something in
Hibernian to a pair of waving arms and a belt and brass buttons.

'Across the bridge with a rattle and jolt that put the eggs in jeopardy,
and on over the cobble-stones, we went. Half standing, to lessen the
jar, I held the pail in one hand and held myself in the other, not
daring to let go even to look at my watch.

'But I was afraid to look at the watch. I was afraid to see how near to
seven o'clock it might be. The sweat was dropping from my nose, so close
was I running to the limit of my time.

'Suddenly there was a lurch, and I dove forward, ramming my head into
the front of the cab, coming up with a rebound that landed me across the
small of my back on the seat, and sent half of my pail of eggs
helter-skelter over the floor.

'We had stopped. Here was Agassiz's house; and without taking time to
pick up the scattered eggs, I tumbled out, and pounded at the door.

'No one was astir in the house. But I would stir them. And I did. Right
in the midst of the racket the door opened. It was the maid.

'"Agassiz," I gasped, "I want Professor Agassiz, quick!" And I pushed by
her into the hall.

'"Go 'way, sir. I'll call the police. Professor Agassiz is in bed. Go
'way, sir!"

'"Call him--Agassiz--instantly, or I'll call him myself."

'But I didn't; for just then a door overhead was flung open, a great,
white-robed figure appeared on the dim landing above, and a quick, loud
voice called excitedly,--

'"Let him in! Let him in. I know him. He has my turtle eggs!"

'And the apparition, slipperless, and clad in anything but an academic
gown, came sailing down the stairs.

'The maid fled. The great man, his arms extended, laid hold of me with
both hands, and dragging me and my precious pail into his study, with a
swift, clean stroke laid open one of the eggs, as the watch in my
trembling hands ticked its way to seven--as if nothing unusual were
happening to the history of the world.'

       *       *       *       *       *

'You were in time then?' I said.

'To the tick. There stands my copy of the great book. I am proud of the
humble part I had in it.'



A Father to his Freshman Son

By Edward Sanford Martin


No doubt, my son, you have got out of me already what there was to help
or mar you. You are eighteen years old and have been getting it, more or
less and off and on, for at least seventeen of those years. I regret the
imperfections of the source. No doubt you have recognized them. To have
a father who is attentive to the world, indulgent to the flesh, and with
a sort of kindness for the Devil--dear son, it is a good deal of a
handicap! Be sure I make allowances for you because of it. _Ex eo
fonte--fons_, masculine, as I remember; _fons_ and _mons_ and _pons_,
and one other. Should the pronoun be _illo?_ As you know, I never was an
accurate scholar, and I suppose you're not--_Ex eo fonte_ the stream is
bound to run not quite clear.

My advice to you is quite likely to be bad, partly from the imperfection
of its source, partly because I am not you, and partly because of my
imperfect acquaintance with the conditions you are about to meet. When I
came to college my father gave me no advice. He gave me his love and
some necessary money, which did not come, I fear, as easy as the love.
His venerable uncle who lived with us--my great uncle--gave me his
blessing and told me, I remember, that so far as book-learning went, I
could learn as much without going to college. Still he did not
discourage my going. He was quite right. I could have got more
book-learning out of college than I did get in college, and I suppose
that you, too, might get, out, more than you will get, in. Of course,
that's not the whole story; neither is it true of all people. For me,
college abounded in distractions, and I suppose it will for you. And I
was incorrigibly sociable and ready to spend time to get acquainted, and
more, to stay acquainted, and if you have that propensity you needn't
think it was left on the doorstep. You come by it lawfully. Getting
acquainted is, for most of us, one of the important branches. But it's
only one of them, and to devote one's whole time to it is a mistake, and
one that the dean will help you avoid if necessary, which probably, if I
know you at all, it won't be.

It is important to know people, but it is more important to be worth
knowing. College offers you at least two valuable details of
opportunity: a large variety of people to know, and a large variety of
means to make yourself better worth knowing. I hope, my son, that you
will avail yourself of both these details.

This is a mechanical age, and the most obtrusive of the current
mechanisms is the automobile. It has valves and cylinders and those
things that give it power and speed, and rubber tires that it runs on,
and a wheel and steering-gear and handles and treadles by which it is
directed. Your body, especially your stomach, is the rubber tires; your
brains are the cylinders and valves; and your will and the spiritual
part of you are the chauffeur and his wheel.

I beg you to be kind to your stomach, as heretofore. It needs no alcohol
at your time of life--if ever--and the less you find occasion to feed
into it, the more prosperous both your physical and mental conditions
are likely to be. I am aware that life, and college life in particular,
has its convivial intervals; but you might as well understand (and I
have been remiss, or have wasted time, if you do not understand it
already) that alcohol is one of the chief man-traps, abounding in
mischiefs if you play with it too hard. Be wary, always wary, with it,
my son, and especially with hard liquor.

Your mind, like your body, is a thing whereof the powers are developed
by effort. That is a principal use, as I see it, of hard work in
studies. Unless you train your body you can't be an athlete, and unless
you train your mind you can't be much of a scholar. The four miles an
oarsman covers at top speed is in itself nothing to the good, but the
physical capacity to hold out over the course is thought to be of some
worth. So a good part of what you learn by hard study may not be
permanently retained, and may not seem to be of much final value, but
your mind is a better and more powerful instrument because you have
learned it. 'Knowledge is power,' but still more the faculty of
acquiring and using knowledge is power. If you have a trained and
powerful mind, you are bound to have stored it with something, but its
value is more in what it can do, what it can grasp and use, than in what
it contains; and if it were possible, as it is not, to come out of
college with a trained and disciplined mind and nothing useful in it,
you would still be ahead, and still, in a manner, educated. Think of
your mind as a muscle to be developed; think of it as a searchlight that
is to reveal the truth to you, and don't cheat it or neglect it.

As to competitive scholarship, to my mind it is like competitive
athletics,--good for those who have the powers and like the game. Tests
are useful; they stimulate one's ambition, and so do competitions. But a
success in competitive scholarship, like a success in competitive
athletics, may, of course, be too dearly bought. Not by you, though, I
surmise, my son. If you were more urgent, either as a scholar or as an
athlete, I might think it needful to warn you not to wear your tires out
scorching too early in life. As things are, I say to you, as I often say
to myself: Don't dawdle; don't scramble. When you work, work; when you
play, play; when you rest, rest; and think all the time.

When you get hold of an instructor who is worth attention, give him
attention. That is one way of getting the best that a college has to
offer. A great deal you may get from books, but some of the most
valuable things are passed from mind to mind, and can only be had from
some one who has them, or else from the great Source of all truth. I
suspect that the subtle development we call 'culture' is one of those
things, and the great spiritual valuables are apt to come that way.

You know you are still growing, both in mind and body, and will continue
so to be for years to come,--I hope, always. One of the valuable things
about college is that it gives you time to grow. You won't have to earn
any money and will have time to think and get acquainted with yourself
and others, as well as with some of the wisdom that is spread upon the
records. You would be so engaged, more or less, in these years, wherever
you might be. But in college, where you are so much your own man, and
are freed from the demands and solicitudes of your parents, the
conditions for it are exceptionally favorable. I suppose that is one
thing that continues the colleges in business, since I read so often
that at present they are entirely misdirected and teach the wrong things
in the wrong way.

But nobody denies that they give the young a breathing spell. Breathe,
my son; breathe freely. Remember that the aim of all these prospective
processes is to bring out the man there is in you, and arm him more or
less for the jousts ahead. It is not to make you over into somebody
else: that can't be done,--not in three or four years, anyhow; but only
to bring out, and train as much as possible of you. There's plenty in
most of us if we can only get it out; more, very much more, than we ever
do get out. So will you please think of college as a nursery in which
you are to grow a while,--and mind you do grow,--and then, presently, to
be transplanted. It is not as if college was the chief arena of human
effort. Nevertheless, for your effort, while you are there, it is the
chief arena, and I am far from giving you the counsel to put off trying
until you leave.

I hear a good deal about clubs and societies: how many there are, how
important they are; how it is that, if a youth shall gain the whole of
scholarship and all athletics and not 'make' a proper club, he shall
still fall something short of success in college. Parents I meet who are
more concerned about clubs than about either scholarship or deportment.
They are concerned and at the same time bothered: so many strategies and
chances the clubs involve; so bad it may be to be in this one; so bad to
be out of that; so much choice there is between them, and so much
choice exercised within them, by which any mother's hopeful may be
excluded.

There is a democratic ideal of a great college without any clubs, where
the lion and the lamb shall escort one another about with tails
entwined, and every student shall be like every other student, and have
similar habits and associates. This ideal is a good deal discussed and a
good deal applauded in the public press. Whether it will ever come true
I can't tell, but there has been some form or other of clubs in our
older colleges, I suppose, for one or two centuries, and they are there
now and will at least last out your time; so it may be you will have to
take thought about them in due time.

Not much, however, until they take thought of you.

You see, clubs seem to be a sort of natural provision, just as tails
were, maybe, before humanity outgrew them. I guess there is a propensity
of nature toward groups, and the natural basis of grouping seems to be
likeness in feathers and habits. The propensity works to include the
like and, incidentally but necessarily, to exclude the unlike. Whether
it is the Knights of the Round Table or the Knights of the Garter or the
Phi Beta Kappa, you see these principles working. The measure of success
in a club is its ability to make people want to join it, and that seems
to be best demonstrated and preserved by keeping most of them out.

Now the advantages of the clubs are considerable. To have a place
always open where you can hang up your hat, and where a hospitable
welcome always awaits you, and where there is enough of a crowd and not
too much, and where you can in your later years inspect at all times a
family of selected undergraduates,--all that is valuable and good, and
pleasant besides, and this continuity of interest that the clubs foster
among their members helps to keep up in those members a lively and
helpful interest in their college. The drawback to the clubs is their
essential selfishness, and their disposition to take you out of a large
family and limit you to a small one, and one that is not yours by birth,
or entirely by choice, but is selected for you largely by other persons.

In any club you yield a certain amount of freedom and individuality, the
amount being determined by the degree in which the club absorbs you.
Don't yield too much! Don't take the mould of any club! A college is
always bigger than its clubs, and the biggest thing in a college is
always a man. The object of being in college is to develop as a man. If
clubs help in that development,--and I think they do help some
men,--they are a gain; but, of course, if they dwarf you down to the
dimensions of a club-man, they are a loss. Some men take their club
shape, such as it is, and find a sufficient satisfaction in it. Others
react on their clubs, take what they have to give, add to it what is to
be had elsewhere, and turn out rather more valuable people than if they
had had no club experience.

At all events, don't take this matter of the clubs too hard. For those
youths, comparatively few, who by luck and circumstances find themselves
eligible to them, they are an interesting form of discipline or
indulgence, and I will not say that they are unimportant. Neither would
I have you keep out of them because of their drawbacks. If you begin by
keeping out of all things that have drawbacks, your progress in this
world will involve constant hesitations. Alcohol has numerous drawbacks,
but I don't advise you to be a teetotaller. Tobacco has drawbacks, but I
believe you smoke it. Money has drawbacks, and so has advertisement.
But, bless you, we have to take things as they come and deal with them
as we can. The trick is to get the kernel and eliminate the shuck. A
large proportion of people do the opposite. If you can manage that way
with the clubs,--provided you ever get a chance,--you will be amused to
observe in due time how large a proportion of your brethren value these
organizations chiefly for their shuck, and grasp most eagerly at that.
For the shuck, as I see it, is exclusiveness, which is not valuable
except to persons justly doubtful of their own merits. Whereas the
kernel is the fellowship of like minds which has always been treasured
by the wise.

The clubs, my son, some more than others, are recruited considerably
from what is known as the leisure class. To be sure, I don't see any
very definite or important leisure class about in our land. Everybody
who amounts to anything works, and always did and must, for you can't
amount to anything otherwise; but the people who have money laid up
ahead for them, are apt to work somewhat less strenuously than the rest
of us, and not so much for money. Don't get it into your head that you
want to tie up to the leisure class, or that the condition of not having
to work is desirable. Have it in mind that you are to work just about as
hard as the quality of your tires and cylinders will warrant. Plan to
get into the game if you have to go on your hands and knees. Plan to
earn your living somehow. Don't aim to go through life spoon-fed; don't
aim to get a soft seat. If you do, you won't have your fair share of
fun. There is no real fun in ease, except as you need it because you
have worked hard.

I say, plan to earn your living! Whether you actually earn the money you
live on, makes no great difference, though in your case I guess you'll
have to if you are going to live at all well. But if you get money
without earning it, it leaves you in debt to society. Somebody has to
earn the money you spend. In mine, factory, railroad, or office,
somebody works for the money that supports you. No matter where the
money comes from, that is true: somebody has to earn it. If you get it
without due labor of your own, you owe for it. Recognize that debt and
qualify yourself to discharge it. Study to put back into the world
somewhat more than you take out of it. Study to be somewhat more than
merely worth your keep. Study to shoulder the biggest load your strength
can carry. That is life. That is the great sport that brings the great
compensations to the soul. Getting regular meals and nice clothes, and
acceptable shelter and transportation, and agreeable acquaintances, is
only a means to an end, and if you accept the means and shirk the end,
the means will pall on you.

I said 'agreeable acquaintances.' A very large proportion of the
acquaintances you can make will be agreeable if you can bring enough
knowledge and a sufficiently hospitable spirit to your relations with
them. I don't counsel you to cultivate the arts of popularity, for they
are apt not to wash,--apt, that is, to conflict with inside qualities
that are vastly more valuable than they are. But keep, in so far as you
can, an open heart. There is no one to whom you are not related if only
you can find the relation; there is no one but you owe him a benefit if
you can see one you can do him.

Don't be too nice. It is such an impediment to usefulness as stuttering
is to speech,--a sort of spiritual indigestion; a hesitation in your
carbureter. By all means, be a gentleman, in manners and spirit, in so
far as you know how, but be one from the inside out.

If you had come as far as you have in life without acquiring manners,
you might well blush for your parents and teachers. I don't think you
have, but I beg you hold on to all the good manners you have, and get
more. Good manners seem to me a good deal to seek among present-day
youth, but I suppose they have always been fairly scarce, and the more
appreciated for their scarcity. Tobacco manners are uncommonly free and
bad in this generation; more so, I think, than they were in mine. Since
cigarettes came in, especially, youths seem to feel licensed to smoke
them in all places and company. And the boys are prone to too much ease
of attitude, and lounge and loll appallingly in company, and I see them
in parlors with their legs crossed in such a fashion that their feet
might almost as well be in the ladies' laps.

Have a care for these matters of deportment. Be strict with yourself and
your postures. Keep your legs and feet where they belong; they were not
meant for parlor ornaments. Show respect for people! Lord bless me! the
things I see done by males with a claim to be gentlemen: tobacco-smoke
puffed in women's faces; men who ought to know better, smoking as they
drive out with ladies; men who put their feet on the table and expect
you to talk over them! Show respect for people; for all kinds of people,
including yourself, for self-respect is at the bottom of all good
manners. They are the expression of discipline, of good-will, of respect
for other people's rights and comfort and feelings. I suppose good
manners are unselfish, but the most selfish people might well cultivate
them, they are so remunerative. In the details of life, in the public
vehicles, in crowds, and in all situations where the demand presses hard
on supply, what you get by hogging is incomparably less than what you
get by courtesy. The things you must scramble and elbow for are not
worth having; not one of them. They are the swill of life, my son; leave
them to swine.

You will have to think more or less about yourself, because that belongs
to your time of life, provided you are the sort that thinks at all. But
don't overdo it. You won't, because you will find it, as all healthy
people do, a subject in which over-indulgence tends rapidly to nausea.
To have one's self always on one's mind is to lodge a kill-joy; to act
always from calculation is a sure path to blunders.

Most of these specific counsels I set down more for your entertainment
than truly to guide you. You don't live by maxims any more than you
speak by rules of grammar. You will speak by ear (improving, I hope, in
your college environment), and you will live by whatever light there is
in you, getting more, I hope, as you go along.

Grow in grace, my son! If your spirit is right, the details of life
will take care of their own adjustment. Go to church; if not invariably,
then variably. They don't require it any more in college, but you can't
afford not to; for the churches reflect and recall--very imperfectly to
be sure--the religion and the spirit of Christ; and on that the whole of
our civilization rests. Get understanding of that. It is by far the most
important knowledge in the whole book, the great fountain of sanity,
tolerance, and political and social wisdom, a gateway to all kinds of
truth, a rectifying and consoling current through all of life.



Intensive Living

By Cornelia A. P. Comer


Said Honoria casually,--

'When I was in town yesterday, I went to see Adelaide in her new house.'

The others looked up alertly, Martha from her darning, Grace from her
Irish crochet.

'Oh, really? And how did you like the house?'

Honoria hesitated, looking to the wide view for clarification. The three
sat on a cottage veranda in the foothills of Southern California, one
February day. In front of them the landscape ran, laughing, down-hill to
the sea. Spread beneath them like a map were thirty miles of town and
country: orange orchards brave with fruit; eucalyptus groves appealing
to the sky; friendly roofs inclosed in deep-sheltering trees; great open
spaces where the wind moved free; round-topped hills, green near at hand
(for the rains had come and gone thus early), changing to a dusky blue
out yonder where the bright Pacific flashed at the end of the long,
delightful view. For love of this prospect Martha had lately left steep,
sturdy hills, brown brooks, elm-shaded streets and old friends, girding
at herself as she did so. Honoria had lived here many years, while Grace
was but a winter's guest in Honoria's home, whose hospitable brown
gables, low and wide-spreading, were visible beyond the cypress hedge
encircling Martha's cottage.

'It is a good-looking mansion. She had a capable architect. The building
is Tudor,--consistent, graceful, well proportioned. For two people it is
a very large house indeed, but it is a good house, and I see perfectly
how Adelaide means it to express the idea of dignified, comfortable
living. The decorator was not bad of his kind, either.'

'All this sounds like praise,' said Grace, 'yet I feel that you are
keeping something back. What is the matter with Adelaide's house?'

Again Honoria hesitated.

'It seems ungracious to find fault with such a perfectly worthy
performance, yet I came away chilled and uncomfortable, almost unhappy,
indeed. Thinking about the matter on the way home, it became clear to me
at last that the house is too large for Adelaide's personality. You know
how perfectly she pervaded that old house of hers. Old-fashioned, in
some respects inconvenient, with far less perfect fittings, it still was
thoroughly delightful, for where the rugs failed or the draperies
faltered, Adelaide's personality somehow stepped in and eked out all
insufficiencies, corrected all errors. It was hers entirely. In this
blameless achievement of architect and decorator, there are no
insufficiencies to be eked out, and so Adelaide's personality seems to
slip and slide helplessly upon a kind of glacial surface which it cannot
penetrate and make its own. I may be expressing myself very poorly, but
I know I have hold of something real. Adelaide's new house, good-looking
as it is, is not interesting,--that is what I mean,--and even the dear
woman herself seems less interesting, and less herself now that she is
enfolded in it.'

'Did you know,' interposed Martha, 'that the first winter in a new house
the heating actually requires more coal than is ever needed again?'

'No, I didn't know that--but I can well believe it. Why shouldn't it
take more coal to warm it when it evidently takes more vitality to cheer
it? It's a serious business, this breaking in of a large house to one's
self late in life, as so many Americans do. The draughts upon their
vital forces are more taxing than the coal bills.'

'We all ought to live in inherited homesteads,' suggested Grace,'where
the humanizing of the bricks and mortar has been done for us by our own
people.'

'Honoria,' Martha demanded, ignoring this unpractical suggestion, 'tell
me the truth! If you were in Adelaide's place and had _carte blanche_ to
incarnate your idea of a house for yourself and your family, wouldn't
you over-build and over-decorate too? I should enjoy doing it! The
furniture in my bungalow is altogether too sketchy at present, and I am
tired of eking it out with personality. You would feel differently if
you hadn't brought your old mahogany when you came West!'

Honoria set a few stitches, and looked at her friends with eyes in which
conviction flamed.

'I don't over-dress, and I don't over-eat, though I have abundant
opportunity,' she said, 'but it may be that I would over-build and
over-decorate, or at least that I would have done so until yesterday. I
don't think I would do it to-day--now that I know what ails Adelaide's
house. As for your bungalow, Martha, it is comfortable and it is alive.
There isn't a picture on the wall nor an ornament on the mantel that
hasn't a reason for being exactly where it is. That is triumph, and you
know it. I don't believe you would really exchange your house for
Adelaide's.'

'Try me and see! I would like just for once to ignore beauty and
suitability, and go in for size and sheer, luxurious comfort.'

'You would go distracted in two weeks in a place that was "sheer,
luxurious comfort" and nothing else,' returned Honoria decidedly. 'You
would hate it as you hate everything smug and fat and complacent. I have
known you too long, Martha, not to know the ways of you with a house. To
satisfy you, a domicile has to be livable. If you consider all the
houses, little and big, of your friends, you will see that there are
fixed limits to the amount of space in them that is truly and pleasantly
habitable. You can't get the lovable "lived-in look" in rooms where you
do not actually live, and you can't live all over a house that is bigger
than your needs. Why! life isn't long enough, especially if you seldom
stay at home! Think how dreary are most of the great houses we know.
Consider Mrs. King's new marble palace with its commanding site and its
ninety rooms. There isn't a single spot in it except her own bed-room
and sitting-room that wouldn't give your spirit a congestive chill if
you sat there for an hour. I know a woman in Colorado who so loathed her
big new house as it left the hands of a New York decorator, that she
would have moved back into the old one if she hadn't been afraid of her
friends' laughter. And, Grace, even inherited homesteads are sometimes
as difficult as uncongenial kin. Old houses have ways and wills of their
own.'

'Houses _are_ curious things,' said Grace. 'We take a morsel of
illimitable space and wall it in and roof it over. Suddenly it ceases to
be part of God's out-of-doors and becomes an entity with an atmosphere
of its own. We warm it with our fires, we animate it with our
affections, we furnish it with such things as seem good in our eyes. We
do this to get shelter for our bodies, but we acquire as well an
instrument for our spirits that reacts on us in its turn.'

'In other words,' returned Honoria, warming to her subject, 'as we live
our way into a house, adapting it to our need, the bricks and mortar,
the paint and plaster, cease to be inert matter and become alive.
Superficial sociologists have taunted woman with being "more anabolic or
plant-like" than man, but I count it her second glory. The plant is an
organism that "slowly turns lifeless into living matter," and this is
the thing that woman has done from the beginning with her shelter! In
our houses we achieve almost an organic extension of our very selves.
That is part of what I was trying to say. But, obviously, there should
exist some reasonable ratio between the self and its extensions. I take
it, the modern multitude of overgrown mansions, like the Kings' or the
Clays' or even Adelaide's smaller dwelling,--all these places whose
owners never find out why they are not at home in them,--are symptoms of
our modern disease of materialism. The essence of that disease is the
desire to grasp more matter than the spirit can fully animate. That the
infection can lay hold on Adelaide shows how all-pervading it is,
gripping the just as well as the unjust. When I saw her tired and
dissatisfied; when I felt the lack of charm and quality in the house,
and remembered how full of both her old house and garden had been, I
tried to think it out. It all works around to just this: you can't have
quality, you can't have charm in your material environment unless you
put them into it yourself. It is a plain question of your ability to
choose, arrange and vitalize things. And the latter requisite is by far
the most important of the three. For I have really seen, with these
eyes, poor, mean rooms where absolutely nothing was beautiful or
noteworthy, so charged with a gracious and comforting personality that
you forgot their shabbiness and said, "What a home-like place!" Please
note that that is the adjective we always use of places that draw us by
their personality--as if personality and nothing else were the essence
of home.

'Now Adelaide's old house had personality; it was completely vitalized.
It was all under her hand, and as high as her heart. But Adelaide's big
new house is as yet barren and chilly, for it is not vitalized at all.
Of course I know that after she has lived in it longer, it is bound to
improve, because it is her nature to humanize and modify all her
surroundings. But the crucial question is--_how big a house can she
humanize?_ Something bigger than a cottage probably--but certainly
something much smaller than a hotel. The longer I looked at this
question, the more it seemed to me that unconsciously I had put my
finger on the vital query that, in the ideal state, should underlie all
property, all education, all privilege.

'I have been talking about houses,--they are the most intimate, the
most organic of a woman's possessions,--but the argument applies to all
we own. It is the mark of our era to want more of everything than we can
use, yet when we get the Too-Much we demand, we are crushed by it, as
Tarpeia was crushed by the shields.'

'I have often thought' said Grace, 'that the sheer, brute mass of
life--of people to know, of books to read, of plays to hear, of pictures
to see, of things to do, buy, learn, enjoy--within reach of the
well-to-do person in the modern world, far outruns the capacity of any
human being to take it in and make of it the sane whole that a life
should be.'

'Yes--yet we go crazily on, trying to expand to illimitable
possibilities, thinking we shall be happier so soon as we have discarded
all our present belongings and opportunities for bigger, newer, richer
ones. How many people do you know who have not met a substantial
increase of income with a corresponding enlargement of their whole scale
of living, a senseless expansion sometimes out-running their increased
ability to provide for it? There is no future but chaos for a society
with such ambitions. They are centrifugal and can only lead to
disintegration.

'The truth is, we have no notion of the value and necessity of a
doctrine of limitations. Just as an illustration--not once in all the
mass of matter printed in the last twenty years about the gyro-car, the
aeroplane or other inventions capable of enormous swiftness, have I
seen the faintest intimation that human beings could not intelligently
direct a speed of two hundred miles an hour--yet the railroads are now
tardily discovering that the capacity of engineers is seriously taxed by
sixty miles!

'Don't mistake my meaning. I am not preaching the moral value of
poverty. I am no convert to asceticism. That method of ridding one's
self of the overweight of the material life is too extreme to the
correct solution. I am simply calling attention with all my might to the
æsthetic and vital value of Not-Too-Much. I am not afraid of Enough. I
am greatly afraid of Too-Much. And the reason I am afraid is this:--

'Just as the capacity of the human stomach is limited to a certain
quantity of food, so also is limited the capacity of the human spirit
for appropriating and assimilating property in its different forms.
Beyond a certain somewhat variable point, material possessions _do the
holder no more good_. The common saying, "All you get in this world is
your board and clothes," is the popular acknowledgment of this
restricted capacity. The affirmation of bounds to our capacity holds
good as regards the property of the mind--education, cultivation,
æsthetic satisfactions--just as it does of material goods. There is a
definite limit to what we can effectively make our own. Beyond that
limit, possession is a detriment.'

'The direct result of helping ourselves to too much of anything is to
coarsen and degrade. We can see this clearly as regards the primal
necessity of food. Nature promptly writes it, in large letters, all over
the man or woman of gross appetites.'

'It is as plainly printed, if in smaller type, on the faces of those who
want too much of other things,--houses, notoriety, money, power,--what
you will. The porcine brand is there, however disguised. Personally, I
fear the Mark of the Pig as I fear nothing else on earth. Shaler says
that certain lines of evolution terminate in such grotesque effects that
one almost believes the guiding thought behind the process was humorous.
I never see a stye with its squealing, shouldering inhabitants, without
thinking how tremendously satiric it is--a master-caricature of human
greed, not over-drawn! And I say, "Brother Pig, Heaven grant that I keep
my voracities better concealed than thou."'

Her companions regarded Honoria, in type thin, nervous, ardent, with a
keen and vivid face. The comparison was certainly not apparent--but the
heart knoweth its own gluttonies.

'You are doing fairly well at it thus far,' said Martha dryly. 'What's
the next step in your argument, Honoria?'

'Since our capacity is limited, and since to glut ourselves beyond it
burdens and degrades, clearly the thing for each individual with
intelligence to do is to find out where, for him, lies the golden point
beyond which riches turns to the poverty of burden. When even the wise
and earnest Adelaides get their houses too big and don't know what is
the matter, it is time to formulate the principles of First Aid to the
Prosperous. I believe the point from which the women of the comfortable
classes should attack the problem of a saner living is this doctrine of
limitation and selection, and that we should attack it first of all in
our homes.

'Now, we human beings really do something to our immediate material
surroundings which I can best describe as charging them with our
personality. With the revolution of the days, personality accumulates in
the things we handle and love and live with, much as electricity gathers
upon the accumulator of a static machine with the revolution of the
plates. This idea has always been popular with the poets and artists,
but people who advance it in everyday life always do so apologetically,
with the air of saying, "I know this is slightly fantastic, but doesn't
it seem true?" Yet most housekeepers know its utter truth. I never
doubted from the time I consciously began to care for old furniture, old
rugs, old china--all the beautiful cast-offs of vanished lives--that a
vast part of their charm was atmosphere, something imparted to them by
the affection of those forgotten ones and now inhering, for the
perceptive vision, in their very substance. The craftsman of those elder
days is not the only creator of the beauty that has come down to us.
Whoever has loved another's work has thereby added something to it. Is
it not so? And I, in my turn, ought to be beautifying my belongings for
those who come after me.'

Grace and Martha nodded readily enough, for this doctrine needs no long
expounding to any woman who has lived her way into her material
possessions, and distilled atmosphere from them for the comfort of her
household. She knows what she has done, and knows, though she says
little about it, that this business of turning lifeless into living
things is one of her important natural functions.

'When I studied physics,' Honoria went on, 'I learned that science had
been compelled to posit ether, an all-pervading, absolutely elastic,
wave-bearing substance, to explain the commonest facts of our physical
experience. Later yet, I learned that the passage of thought-waves
through ether had found defenders among men of the exact sciences.
Naturally I said to myself, "Ah, the scientists are growing 'warm.'
Next, they will be demonstrating some of the things women have always
known. They will show how we send out vibrations that get caught and
entangled in our intimate belongings, never to be wholly freed again.
The thing will be worked out and demonstrated like a problem in
geometry. Doubtless they will be measuring everybody's wave-lengths and
teaching children in the Eighth Grade easy ways of charging their
belongings with their personality so unmistakably that stealing will
have to become a lost art." Well! They haven't done it yet. In fact,
they don't seem so near doing it as they once did. The mechanism of the
process by which I take a chair fresh from Grand Rapids and in the
course of years make it _my_ chair and no other woman's, is a secret
still, but I don't have to argue with anybody who ever had a favorite
chair that the thing is as I have stated it. Neither do I have to argue
that I could not so appropriate and make my own the output of an entire
factory. It must be equally obvious that the dignified, proper
environment for me and my family contains what we can thus make our own,
and not much more.'

'Of course there are people,' said Martha reflectively, 'the routine of
whose living demands large and formal apartments, impossible to do
anything with from your point of view.'

'Assuredly there are such people,' Honoria admitted, 'just as there are
people whose entertaining must be in the line of banquets rather than
little dinners. I am not predicating a world full of model cottages,
even though I think it might prove the happiest world. Still, outside of
official circles, the need of state drawing-rooms is certainly not
general, and it is of the very gist of my argument--my argument isn't
all developed yet, Martha, don't think it!--that for the sake of
developing a finer and more individual quality in our possessions, we
should cut off some superfluous ones. Please listen patiently while I
carry the idea to its logical limit, even though that limit lies beyond
the bounds of practicability.

'Economists profess that, in an ideal distribution of goods, each man
would have as much as he could consume without waste. But this takes no
account of the differing needs of men, developed through ages of the
upward struggle, nor of their different capabilities of turning goods to
account. If you are going to dabble at all in theories of ideal
distribution, why not have one that is genuinely ideal--that is,
non-material? _The true distribution would require that each man should
possess what goods he could animate and vitalize._ Even so, how vastly
would possessions differ in amount and quality!

'If life could be adjusted on this basis, it would automatically become
simplified, charged with beauty and with character. We should slough off
ugly and useless possessions, or, if we retained through affection
things ugly in themselves, that very affection would impart to them a
certain importance and distinction. We should then, at least, live in a
world in which everything had significance. Think of the infinite
satisfaction of that!'

'What do you mean when you say, "if life could be adjusted on this
basis," Honoria?' Grace inquired. 'Are you implying some kind of a final
socialistic state which calls for an omniscient Distributor of Goods who
shall know how much each man can vitalize?'

'Really, Grace, I am not a fool, even when I am evolving a reformed
society!' returned Honoria promptly. 'Most conceptions of an improved
state demand God for their Chief Executive and an enormous force of
government officials with the fine honor which, thus far, has only been
developed in human nature by conditions entirely different from those
the visionaries are forecasting. Unquestionably we have fallen into the
habit of thinking that if we only pass a law, any wrong at which we aim
is regulated. In fact, however, so long as that law only expresses the
practice of a minority, its enforcement will be evaded. Legislation
without character is as helpless as a motor without fuel,--and my little
reform, like every other effective change, must proceed from within
outward.

'So I believe that if I wish to live in a world where nobody has more
food, clothes, houses, wealth, power, than he can make significant and
vital use of, it is up to me to remake my own life on that basis first.
I am, if not the only woman whom I can reform, at least the most
suitable subject for my experimentation. And I admit that I have too
many possessions. Sometimes I am ridden to exhaustion by the care of my
"things," modest as they are when compared to the goods of my
neighbors. I know that if thousands of people did not feel as I do, the
"simple life" slogan would never have acquired the popularity it had
some years ago. We no longer hear much of the simple life, but we need
it increasingly. Personally, I am persuaded that the method I am trying
to set forth is workable.

'Why shouldn't a human being, seeking to get the most out of life, take
lessons from the husbandman seeking to get the richest returns from the
soil? It used to be thought that to cultivate many acres superficially
was the way to feed the world and enrich the farmer. But the study of
the soil as a science has taught us that we must resort, instead, to the
intensive farming which gives greater returns from reduced acreage. What
is true of the returns earth makes to our granaries, is true of the
returns life makes to our spirits. We need a science of intensive living
that we may get the larger crop from the smaller field. It will be
worked out by women, and it must begin in their domain, which still is,
in spite of the sociologists, the home.'

'The Norwegian maid who cared for my rooms at the hotel last winter had
figured out something of the sort for herself,' said Grace. 'After I had
put a few bits of things about, she said to me, "I like dis room. It
looks like Norway. Dere iss more moneys in America, but in Norway t'ings
iss more pretty. Even de kitchen iss good to see. Dere iss shelves an'
copper cooking-dishes all shiny, all so happy-looking. I like dem way
best. It iss better not so much moneys to haf, but to be more happy wit'
one's t'ings!"'

'That is the doctrine in a nutshell! In its poorer, more restricted
days, the world learned that secret of the art of living, and it still
lingers in corners that our blatant, crashing "civilization" passes
by--so that a Norwegian peasant's daughter may know far more than an
American girl "who has always had everything" about the priceless secret
of being "happy wit' one's t'ings." It is the richest knowledge a woman
can possess.'

'What is the real rock-bottom reason why people go on piling up money
after they have enough?' Martha demanded.

'I imagine,' said Honoria, 'that excessive accumulation is a form of
egotism. Now, if public opinion, the race-ideal, or what you please,
once demanded that we vitalize all our possessions; if it were once
admitted to be unspeakably gross to demand more property than we can
animate, as gross as it now is to over-eat, then the stress upon
possession would be transferred at once from "How much" to "How," and
large possessions would really become what some of the undistinguished
rich now fondly imagine them to be--a direct and sensitive register of
the finer qualities.'

Martha suddenly and irresistibly chuckled.

'I have a story for you, Honoria,' she said. 'A lot of ranchers over
there,' she vaguely gestured toward the southwest across the hills,
'have grown suddenly rich, raising sugar beets, and have bought
motor-cars and other paraphernalia proper to their improved condition.
One of them was heard to say, "I b'lieve these college graduates that
teach school 'round here really think they're as good as us rich folks."
That is the real attitude of your "undistinguished rich" toward the
gifts of culture and the finer qualities!'

'Honoria,' said Grace, 'haven't the sages always said, "Give me neither
poverty nor riches"? Why should your propaganda succeed where Job and
Socrates have failed? Job lived a long while ago! If the race were going
to be converted to his view, the process ought to be more advanced. You
will need very strong arguments for your doctrine of limitations.'

'Arguments are to be had for the picking up,' returned Honoria. 'What
kind will you have? Reasonable limitation on the material side always
brings some amazing flowering of mind or spirit like the blossoming of a
root-bound plant. If you want a racial argument, consider the Irish--the
poorest people in Europe and _therefore_ the richest in spirit. Poverty
forced them to concentrate their attention upon their neighbors; there
resulted an astonishing increase in sympathy, wit, and general
humanness.--If you want an argument from Art, consider the Middle Ages.
Peering out of a narrow world, hemmed in by ignorance and squalor, the
mediæval artist caught sight of beauty and immediately loved it with
such fervent, personal passion that everything he made in its image was
vital and wonderful. As his world broadened in the Renaissance, much of
his art grew florid and meaningless, lacking that marvelous, intimate
quality of the earlier, restricted day.--If you want an argument from
literary material, there's the _Picciola_ of Saintine. You can make an
imperishable literary masterpiece out of a convict's love for a tiny
plant struggling up between two stones in a prison-yard, but you cannot
make men listen to tales of great possessions. The interest in Monte
Cristo centres upon the process of _acquirement_, and it is the same in
any successful money-romance. Midas is only fit to point a moral, never
to adorn a tale.--If you want an argument from philology, consider that
the diminutives in every language show the lesser thing to be the dearer
thing, always. Remember Marie Antoinette and the Little Trianon!
Consider the increasing specialization in science--science which always
falls on its feet! I know a thousand arguments! The thing I am in need
of is converts!'

'If you could get them,' said Martha, 'there might really be a Woman's
Reformation, only it would begin at home instead of at the polls.'

'What other permanent thing is there in life but the hearthstone?
Nations rise and fall, laws and institutions come and go--but that
remains, the one fixed point in human society. I take it, therefore, it
is the one point from which the lever can successfully be brought to
bear on human society. If anything is to be moved or altered, the force
must be applied there.'

'But human society _has_ changed, Honoria,' urged Grace. 'Look at all
our new powers and possessions! Steam and electricity have remade the
world, and we are not yet adjusted to the alteration. No generation ever
lived under our conditions; thus we have no traditions for handling our
new environment. No heritage of ancestral wisdom tells us what of the
hundreds of new opportunities to accept, what to reject. Save in so far
as we are thinking beings--and that is not very far--we are as much at
the mercy of our desires as babies in a toy-shop, grabbing now this and
now that, heaping up a lapful of futilities and calling it a life.'

'Yes. But why should we make steam and electricity serve our greed only?
Why use them chiefly to darken the world and make life a horror? Dare
you affirm that we women and our demands are not at the very centre of
the tragic tangle of modern living? Isn't all this horrible speeding-up
of business largely an outgrowth of our exactions? What do men do
business for, anyhow, except to get us what we want! Homes are to other
material possessions what souls are to the bodies--the centre from which
the life moves outward. If there is no greed in the home, is there not
bound to be less greed in the offices?'

'I'm not so sure, Honoria,' Grace returned. 'No amount of intensiveness
in the home would eliminate man's love of power for its own sake.'

'Perhaps. Yet isn't the lust for power a secondary development? We begin
by being greedy because we want things; we keep on after we have more
things than we know what to do with, because greed has created the
power-lust. It is the aftermath from that ugly root. If the pressure the
home puts on the man for money were suddenly slackened all along the
line, above the point of poverty, might not the matter of unseemly
accumulations correct itself? If we women of the more favored classes
avowedly undertook to give quality to our belongings, instead of
demanding belongings which we hope will confer quality upon us, there
would surely be both a lessening in the stress of life and an
improvement in its texture. I can think of nothing else but the Golden
Rule that would help to solve so many menacing problems, such as the
high cost of living, the commercialization of life, and the divorce
problem. Oh, it would be very far-reaching, that attitude, if we could
only achieve it!'

'Why wouldn't plain Christianity do all your reforming, and do it
better?' demanded Martha abruptly.

'Assuredly it would--if Christianity were more generally a condition
instead of a theory among us. I wouldn't undertake to say off-hand why
the sanctions of common sense seem more precious to the present
generation than the sanctions of religion, when in so many points they
are identical, but I must conform my theorizings to the fact. Yet with
all our neglect of religion the traditions of the spirit have not
changed! They are the same from everlasting to everlasting. And one of
the things the nineteenth century most wonderfully made clear was that
the evolution of the spirit is the thing Nature has been seeking for
hundreds of millions of years. I don't suppose that age-long process
with the tremendous impetus of all creation behind it is really going to
be upset by the turmoil of one materialistic generation. But I do
believe that if we go with the current of materialism, we and all our
works shall be tossed aside as refuse, thrown into Nature's garbage-can.
I tell you, I can't bear the disgrace of it.'

'Honoria, you almost persuade me to be intensive,' said Grace, 'but I am
not reconciled to the doctrine at one point--the question of beauty. I
admit that one cannot vitalize a lot of senseless luxury. I admit, too,
that comfort and a certain amount of beauty can always be successfully
domesticated and charged with personality, as you phrase it, and that
the result is completely satisfying. But is one never to indulge one's
self in _all the beauty money will buy_, never to have everything of an
absolute perfection? You are against great houses, but there is Mountly
House, at home. It is big, but so beautiful that you are at home in it
all over. What of it, and others like it?'

'Big and beautiful it is, but it is on my side of the argument, none the
less. If you remember, the architect was also the decorator. It is the
triumph of his imagination. He designed it as a background for a woman
of opulent beauty and domestic tastes. He ransacked Europe for the
furnishings, tapestries, all sorts of exquisite, ancient things. He was
a great artist and he created a work of art. The family fit into the
picture more or less awkwardly. It is his house, not theirs at all. And
I truly believe that the ultimate purpose of our houses excludes our
going up and down another's stairs.

'Yet I believe in all the beauty one can vitalize. It is essentially
wholesome. It does not lend itself to morbid demands. The collector's
passion looks like greed, and doubtless for a time it is greed. But,
sooner or later, Too-Much sickens them. Their adorable possessions teach
them there is profanation in having more wonderful things than they can
enter into personal relation with. Therefore the inevitable end of all
overgrown collections is the museum or the auction-room. I have seen it
too often not to know it is true!--If you want a perfect illustration of
this in literature read Mrs. Wharton's _The Daunt Diana_. It cuts down
like a knife to the essential fact that our relations with beauty must
be limited enough to have the personal quality. And--don't you
see?--this automatic destruction of greed that beauty finally teaches to
the collector, is the same automatic destruction of it that I dare think
intensive living in our homes might bring to all greed. It is a proof of
the theory on another plane.'

'I think one might own a Mountly House without greed,' persisted Grace
wistfully. 'Having no house at all, I naturally refuse to think of
myself as ending my days in any less perfect domicile. What do you mean
by the "ultimate purpose" of our houses?'

'Ah! that,' said Honoria, with a quick indrawing of her breath, 'is the
very core of all my thought, and I don't know how to make you see it!'

She rose abruptly and walked to the end of the veranda. She stood there
a while, looking across at the spreading gables of her own brown
bungalow, with the yearning on her face that only house-mothers know.
Yonder was her home. Set on a mighty shoulder of the earth, facing the
sunset and the sea, it clung to the soil as the brown rocks cling.
Behind it were the mighty Sierras with their crests of snow; before it,
the sweetest land God ever smiled upon; within it, all the treasures of
her eyes, her mind, her heart. Just as it stood there in the February
sun, it was an abode compact of love, of aspiration, of desire. The
ancient love of man for his shelter had gone into it, and the love of
woman for the place of her appointed suffering. Desire for beauty and
hope of peace were in its making. Its walls had heard the birth-cries;
her children had played about its doors; out from it had been borne her
dead. Inconsiderable speck on the vast hill-shoulder that it was, it
could defy time and the elements, even as she defied them, for she had
given it of her own immortality.

'I have not yet said it all,' she said a little thickly. 'It is hard to
say, even to you. I have found an attitude of mind, a path, a way of
life I call intensive, for lack of a better name, and I believe in it,
not only because it increases my sane satisfaction in living, but also
because it finally leads _out_--out of all this tangle of our material
lives, into the eternal spaces.

'I see the world of men's business activities chiefly as a place of
wrath and greed, and yet even the most grasping must be blindly seeking
through their greed an ultimate satisfaction--not more houses or more
automobiles, or railroads, or mines, or even power, but something dimly
apprehended as beyond all these and more than they--something that is
good and that _endures_. For we all want the Enduring Thing. One man
sees it here, another there. As for me, I see it in my house. I tell
you, the Greeks and Romans did not make a religion of the hearthstone;
they merely recognized the religion that the hearthstone _is_. Under
that quiet roof I have learned that it is a woman's business to take
stones and make them bread. Only she can make our surroundings live and
nourish us.

'Beyond the need for bread, a woman's needs are two; deeper than all
cravings save the mother's passion, firm-rooted in our endless past, is
the heart-hunger. The trees that sweep my chimney have their roots at
the world's core! The flowers in my dooryard have grown there for a
thousand years! What millenniums have done, shall decades undo? We are
not so shallow, so plastic as that! We will go into the mills, the
shops, the offices, if we must, but we know we are off the track of
life. Neither our desire nor our power is there.

'I have talked glibly enough about restricting superfluous possessions
for the sake of developing a finer quality in those we have; I have said
only personality gives that quality to our surroundings--but I have not
said the final thing. It is this: I believe that in the humble business
of loving the material things that are given to us to own and love, in
shaping our homes around them, in making them vital and therefore
beautiful, so that they serve our spirits in their turn, we are not only
making the most of our resources in this life, but are doing more than
that. Somehow, I cannot tell you how, I know that we are _getting them
across_--into the timeless places! In making them vital we are making
them enduring.

'Christ tells us to lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven. What did
that mean to you when you were young? I thought it meant a procession of
self-denials and charities, more or less lifeless because the offering
was made slightly against the grain! I had no idea that when I loved
somebody very much or pitied somebody very much, when I shared my heart
or shared my roof eagerly, that I was doing the commanded thing. Still
less did I realize, when I worked hard to make my home more comfortable
or more beautiful, that I was sending vibrations from my everyday world
right into the eternal one--every deed an actual hammer stroke on my
house not made with hands. But so sure as that our mortal shall put on
immortality, I now hold it that what we first find in the eternal world
will be the things into which we have unstintingly flung our vitality,
our _feeling_, while we are briefly here.

'_Here we have no continuing city_. But when I am making my house live,
I and no other, putting into it as I best may something of the serenity
of Athens and the sacredness of Jerusalem and the beauty of Siena, then
it is taking its place beside my greater loves. Then I am creating a
home, not only in this world, but in the next. I have put something over
into the eternal world that fire cannot burn, nor floods destroy, nor
moth and rust corrupt. It is safe, even from myself, forever! No Heaven
can be holy to me if I have not made this spot holy. I shall not ask,
even from the mercy of the Merciful, a heavenly mansion if I have failed
to make this earthly dwelling live. Eternity begins beside my hearth,
shaped by my will. A woman knows!'



Reminiscence with Postscript

By Owen Wister


I

Not alone because of their good meat and drink are three meals shrined
at the heart of these following impressions. Singly, each one did
delightfully engage the palate, but the three together speak appealingly
to sentiment. It is of a great house, a little inn, and of the fair
region round about them that I shall mainly discourse--and whether I do
or don't give a final _x_ to the name of the house, there are people and
documents to say I have spelt it wrong: which comes very near to saying
that both ways are right. The _x_ shall remain, the majority seems to
favor it, and I at once beg that you share my relish of these posturing
Renaissance lines, written by royal command in honor of Chenonceaux:--

    Au saint bal des dryades,
    A Phœbus, ce grand dieu,
    Aux humides nayades
    J'ai consacré ce lieu.

This highly plaster-cast lyric was recited during the 'triomphe' held at
Chenonceaux to celebrate the arrival there of François II and Mary
Stuart. The hostess was as distinguished as her visitors; and never,
before I went to Chenonceaux, did I associate naiads and dryads and
poems of welcome with Catherine de'Medici. But we must allow this
monstrous personage an eye for good houses. She preferred Chenonceaux to
all her dwellings--she preferred it so much, indeed, that she made
another lady get out of it, exchanging for it the decidedly inferior
residence of Chaumont. And we have Catherine to thank (I fear) for the
strangely felicitous fancy that placed upon the arches built from the
rear of the house to the farther side of the river by her rejected
predecessor, Diane de Poitiers, that enchanting hall or gallery, which
rises three stories high, if you count the nine windows in the steeply
and gracefully pitched slate roof.

    Basti si magnifiquement
    Il est debout, comme un géant,
    Dedans le lit de la rivière,
    C'est-a-dire dessus un pont
    Qui porte cent toises de long.

These verses bump down heavily upon the bridge, and, despite their
scrupulous statistics as to its length, they scarcely measure the
excellence of Chenonceaux, but rather the gap between French verse and
French architecture in the sixteenth century. Villon could have come
nearer the mark; but Villon was long gone before the ancient mill on the
river Cher was transfigured by its purchaser into the château he did not
live to complete. 'S'il vient à point' said Thomas Bohier, and he graved
it in many ornamental places of his edifice, 'me souviendra.'

And here am I writing his name and thinking about him, three hundred and
ninety-two years after his death. What a pleasant reason for being
remembered! What a quietly illustrious introduction to posterity: the
originator of the mansion whose sheer beauty brought a succession of
kings and queens and other great people to sojourn in it, whose walls
have listened to the blandishments of François I, the sallies of
Fontenelle and Voltaire, the sentimentalities of Rousseau. Do their
ghosts walk here upon these terraces? Do they meet in the long gallery
over the Cher? If they don't, they are less wise in the next world than
they were in this. Almost might one envy some figure in a well-preserved
piece of tapestry, hanging in any hall or chamber here and commanding a
view out of any window that looked up or down the placid river.
Embroidered thus for ever, amid high company, ladies and gentlemen of
importance with hawks and feathers and armor and steeds richly
caparisoned, ministered to by esquires and serfs, one would exist
admired, valued, and carefully dusted. Daily sight-seers from all lands
would be conducted into one's presence (Sundays included, 10-11 A.M.,
2-6 P.M.), thus animating one's feudal leisure with sufficient variety.
There one would be, an acknowledged masterpiece, for ever aloof from the
unstable present, nevermore driven to enlist against the restless evils
of the world. The trouble is, somebody from Pittsburg might buy one. Now
I could no more brook living as tapestry in America than I could live as
an American in Europe, expatriated and trivially evaporating amid
beauties and comforts that were none of my native heritage.

Do you know the country where Chenonceaux stands? Do you know the river?
Have you ever gone there from Tours, or come there the opposite way,
from Bourges through Vierzon and Montrichard?

The region shares a secret with certain rare people, whom all of us are
glad to count among our acquaintance. Certain men and women, immediately
on our first meeting them, make us desire to meet them again; not
because they have uttered remarkable thoughts or reminded us of Venus or
Apollo: perhaps they have said nothing that you and I couldn't say, and
we may know people much better looking. But they radiate--what is it
that they radiate? We feel it, we bask in it, it flows over us. It isn't
sunlight or moonlight, but a fairy-light of their own. When these
shining creatures come into the room, happiness enters with them. How do
they do it? It gets us nowhere to say that there is 'something' in the
tone of their voice, or 'something' in the look of their eyes: what is
the something? I'm glad I don't know; mystery is growing so scarce, that
I am thankful for anything which cannot be explained.

Now this rare quality (and don't flatter yourself that you understand it
because you happen to know its name) is possessed not only by men and
women, but also by places; and, no more than with people, has it
anything to do with their being remarkable or beautiful. The White
Mountains in New Hampshire haven't a trace of it; it fills the mountains
of North Carolina; there is almost none along our Atlantic seaboard, but
it hangs over and haunts nearly every foot of our Pacific Coast.

Whenever one of these happy spots has been long known to man, man has
invariably cherished it in word and deed. His chronicles celebrate it;
he sets it lovingly like a jewel in his romances, dramas, verse, prose,
song; he graces it with his best in architecture; his roads and gardens
bring it alike into his hours of work and of ease; in fine, he garlands
it with his imagination, weaves it into his life century after century,
until it comes to smile upon him from the heart of his History and
Literature, as well as upon his daily present. That is what mankind has
done beneath the spell of a place which has charm.

Thus Touraine to the Frenchman,--_beau pays de Touraine_, as the page in
Meyerbeer's _Huguenots_ sings of it in that opera's second act, which
takes place at Chenonceaux. I suppose--indeed I remember--that rain
falls in that country; yet, when I think about it, sunshine invariably
sparkles through the picture--not the kind that glares and burns, but
the kind that plays gently among leaves and shores and shadows; sunshine
upon the twinkling, feathered silver of the poplars, the grapes in
sloping vineyards, the green islands and tawny bluffs of the Loire, the
quiet waters of the Indre and the Cher; a jocund harmony seems to play
about the very names,--Beaulieu, Montrésor, Saint-Symphorien,--but were
I to begin upon the music in the names of France, I should run far
beyond the limits of Touraine and of your patience. Say to yourself
aloud, properly, Amboise, Châteaurenault, La Chapelle-Blanche,
Saint-Martin-le-Beau, and then say Naugatuck, Saugatuck, Pawtucket,
Woonsocket, Manayunk, Manunkachunk, and you will catch my drift.
Stevenson's joy in our names was at bottom purely that of the collector.

But have you ever seen the Loire and its tributary realm? I have already
owned myself (together with all other men) as unable to explain the
mystery of charm. No Niagara is hereabouts, nor Matterhorn, nor anything
you could call sublime; nothing so lustrously beautiful as Bar Harbor,
or the Berkshire Hills. Wildness is wholly absent, but so is tameness
too. It is somehow through its very moderation that the glamour of this
land is wrought. But we must nicely distinguish between the poetry and
the prose of moderation: Princeton Junction, New Jersey, is perfectly
moderate, and is also the type and pattern of hundreds of thousands of
square, comfortable, unoffending miles in the United States which you
would never wish to see again--indeed which you would never wish to see
once; whereas, even as I write, I am homesick for Touraine, though it
isn't my home.

Once again I must draw the parallel between human qualities and the ways
of our mother earth. We place at the top of our esteem those people who
take chivalrously the heavy blows of life, who are not brave merely, but
gallant. We draw scant inspiration from the sight of somebody who is all
too obviously and dutifully bearing something; who goes, day after day,
with a set and sombre expression that says as plainly as words: 'Just
watch me carrying my Cross. Just wait till you have one.' We prefer
those whose gayety so conceals the fact that they're behaving well, that
we should never suspect it, did we not know what they have passed, and
are passing, through. Thus also does Touraine conceal the tears and the
blood she has known. Louis the Eleventh, Catherine de' Medici, the
gibbet balcony of the Salle des Armes at Amboise, the iron cage and the
black dungeons of Loches,--Touraine, with her smiling, high-bred
elegance, keeps all this to herself, and gives you a bright welcome.
Often as she has been the scene of Tragedy, often as the glaive and not
the lute has been the instrument of her drama, she might well look in
her glass and exclaim with Richard the Second,--

          Hath sorrow struck
    So many blows upon this face of mine,
    And made no deeper wounds?

Wearing no crape, betraying no scars, hinting naught of its dark
experience of life, this realm, this _beau pays_, more than any in
Europe, to my thinking, lies in the true key of high comedy, of masque
and pastoral. If, here and there above its trees or upon its hills, the
brooding frown of some tower, the gaunt stare of some donjon in ruins,
fierce with memories, brings one up short, so that in joy's mid-current
some smack of the bitter wells up--this is not Nature's doing. Look away
from these works of man to the feathered poplars, the vineyards, the
gentle waters, and see the earth's countenance, smiling and serene.
Decorous it is always; only the irregularities of the Loire and its
channel seem to bear any reference to the conduct of those beautiful
historic ladies who dispersed their reputations in the vicinity. Even
man did not always build a Langeais or a Loches. Urbane and gracious
amid their parks or on their bluffs rise those dwellings planned when
France's architectural genius was in its happiest mood--though not its
loftiest. They look like the good society which once assembled in them;
their mere aspect suggests the wits, the brilliant talkers and listeners
of a day when conversation was a living art still, the day which
furnishes us even now with those letters and memoirs which are the
dainty wainscotting and mantelpieces, the interior decorations of
Literature. You may wander almost anywhere among the poplars and the
chestnuts in the valleys of the Loire's quiet tributaries; you can
hardly go wrong; if the turrets of Ussé against their rising woodland do
not regale your eye, it will be Azay-le-Rideau, or something less
famous, or, best of all, Chenonceaux, to which I now return.


II

I saw it first upon an afternoon when no air was stirring, even in the
poplars, when the green of Touraine was changing to gold: golden fruit,
pears, and apples, where summer's fruit had been; golden leaves
flickering down from high branches, or raked into golden heaps; while
the faint, sweet smoke of burning twigs hovered in the autumn day. It
was the moment and scene of the year when, just because other things
have ceased to grow, memories blossom in the mind; and on every golden
heap of leaves retrospect seemed to be sitting. We visitors were three.
I can recall the first sight of the château's yellow façade, framed by
the distant end of the high, formal avenue into which we turned to
approach it. All sorts of feet had stepped where we were walking:
almost four centuries of distinguished feet had gone in and out of that
beautiful front door; but over its appealing associations the still more
appealing aspect of the wonderful house triumphed. If I knew about _Le
Devin du Village_ then, the scene of its first performance interested me
much more because that long and many-windowed gallery was built right
over the water, right across the Cher, upon arches that the glassy
surface of the stream reflected symmetrically. I was captured then and
for ever by the beauty and the originality of this residence. Our best
country houses take earth and air into partnership, but this abode of
grace possessed, embraced, a little river. To go in at your front door
on one green margin and come out of your back door on the other; to
dwell in a masterpiece that was house and bridge in one--I can still
recover my first sensations of delight at this triumph of French art.
Only--the concierge didn't let us go out of the back door; and my
disappointment was cherished through long years, until its sequel, which
I shall presently reach. This first afternoon became a chapter in the
most delightful of guide-books, from which I quote the following:--

'We took our way back to the Grand Monarque, and waited in the little
inn parlor for a late train to Tours. We were not impatient, for we had
an excellent dinner to occupy us; and even after we had dined we were
still content to sit a while and exchange remarks upon the superior
civilization of France. Where else, at a village inn, should we have
fared so well?... At the little inn at Chenonceaux the _cuisine_ was not
only excellent, but the service was graceful. We were waited on by
mademoiselle and her mamma; it was so that mademoiselle alluded to the
elder lady, as she uncorked for us a bottle of Vouvray mousseux.'

On another page of this same guide-book you may read how, at the Hôtel
de l'Univers in Tours, the château of Amboise was described to us by an
English lady of a type that I sadly miss to-day. One met her everywhere
then. She was a more fragile sister of that robust, brick-complexioned
spinster who used to climb all the Alps in practical but awful garments.
She didn't often venture to speak to you for fear you weren't
respectable, or might think she wasn't. When she did, it was apt to be
with explosive shyness, running all her words together, as she did about
Amboise. 'It's-very-very-dirty-and-very-keeawrious!' Curious and furious
she always pronounced to rhyme with glorious and victorious; and it
invariably made me think of 'God Save the Queen.'

In my interest as to whether we should again have the excellent fare and
graceful service which I so well remembered at the little inn, and
whether now at last my long-cherished wish to step out of that back door
on the river's farther side were to be gratified, Chenonceaux itself had
so dropped out of my thoughts that it fairly burst upon my sight.
Bursting is, of course, a thing which that delicate and restrained
edifice could never really do, only I wasn't thinking about it as our
party (we were four on this second visit, and it was spring-time) came
into the avenue. There at the other end stood the fair, gay vision of
the château, and its beauty and wonder so suddenly waked my admiration,
that I exclaimed, 'How young it looks!'

Yes; it didn't look new, but it looked young: youth is the particular
and essential note of this enchanted building. None of its neighbors
have it, not even Azay-le-Rideau or Blois, which are its rivals, though
never its equals. Chenonceaux was four hundred years old in January,
1915. Age makes one type of person decrepit, and so it is with houses.
But Chenonceaux, if ever it come to show its years, will belong to the
other type: it will look venerable. Did it, do you think, catch its
secret from the ring of Charlemagne, by whose sorceries its mistress,
Diane de Poitiers, was accused of preserving her youth? This lady's
success with François Premier so disconcerted the amiability of the
Duchesse d'Etampes, that she constantly reminded Diane she was born on
the day Diane was married.--But I resist the temptation to dwell upon
Diane and everybody else linked to Chenonceaux by history; it's all
accessible to you in books; and I proceed with the visit our party of
four made, this spring day.

Touraine was now all delicate in green; as lovely, as gracious, as
discreet in its budding leaves as when the leaves had flickered down,
spangling the air and grass and garden-walks with their gold. We had met
at the little inn the same welcome, the same excellent _cuisine_, the
same agreeable Vouvray mousseux. Mademoiselle was not there, but mamma
was. Her premises and herself showed no ill effect from the prosperity
brought to her through the guide-book I have already quoted. No
guide-book in its author's plan, it was now become established as one,
and he, petitioned in a letter from mamma, had corrected a certain
error. In the first edition, page 60, you may read that we took our way
back to the Grand Monarque; in later editions it is the Hôtel du
Bon-Laboureur. The confusion to travelers, the injury to her custom,
ensuing from the wrong name, madame had represented to the author; and
now all was well. The inn wasn't any larger, but more and more each
season were pilgrims with expectant appetites led to her door.

'Tenez, monsieur,' she said to me eagerly, when I narrated to her how I
had been present at the germination of her renown, 'tenez. Voilà!' She
showed me the precious guide-book. She treasured it, though she couldn't
read it, because it was in English. And I came in for her smiles and
cordiality, which really belonged to the author.

You will have perceived, our party this time took their _déjeuner_, not
their dinner, at the Bon-Laboureur. The good omelette and cheese and
fruit and wine, mamma's prosperity and her well-preserved state,--for
now she was really an elderly woman,--all this had brought us in
peaceful and pleased spirits to the château. When we had seen the rooms
downstairs and the concierge was conducting the other sightseers--some
ten or twelve--to the second story, our party under my guidance stole
away to the back door.

'Back door' implies no dishonorable passage through pantry and kitchen;
we simply didn't go up the staircase in the wake of the concierge, but
independently along the hall instead, and thus across the Cher through
Catherine's celebrated gallery. _Le Devin du Village_ came into my mind,
and I wondered which figure was the more diverting, Jean-Jacques
Rousseau composing opera, or Richard Wagner dabbling in philosophy.

The door was open. I emerged, the happy leader of my party, upon stone
steps, crossed a little draw-bridge, and our triumphant feet trod the
grass beneath the trees which shaded the river's bank. I had my wish;
and as my obedient band followed me, I fear my complacent back and
Anabasis manner expressed some sentiment like this: 'Only observe how it
pays to see France with a person who knows the ropes!' We sauntered, we
expatiated, we paused before what I'll call by metonymy the tocsin--a
great bell and chain suspended from strong framework; from this point
the château, with its fine, detached, cylindrical donjon tower of the
fifteenth century, looked, in the afternoon light, particularly well:
those poor sheep with the concierge weren't getting this view. We must
have lingered by the tocsin a quarter of an hour, enjoying ourselves,
before returning to the back door.

It was shut. It was locked. Rattling made no impression upon it, nor
shaking, nor kicking. We knocked then, fancying this to be an accident.
Next we called, or rather, I, the party's personal conductor and
competent guide, began to call. Nothing happened. I augmented my
efforts. Catherine's gallery, famous scene of the first performance of
Rousseau's _Devin du Village_, responded with cavernous echoes. Between
these reigned silence, and a gentle breeze rustled the young leaves of
the chestnuts. We abandoned the door and went a few steps down the river
to where our gesticulations could be seen from the windows of
Chenonceaux. We made these gesticulations with our four umbrellas,
whilst I shouted continually. Not a window blinked. It might have been a
sorcerer's palace, and we his four new victims, presently to be roasted,
boiled, or changed into cats. We looked down the river--no escape; up
the river half-a-mile was a bridge; but what impediment mightn't lie
between? And even if the way were clear, to go round by the bridge would
lose us our train to Tours. One of us, in her deep voice, said that she
hoped the robin-red-breasts would find her body and cover it with
leaves. Again we flourished our four umbrellas, during vociferations
from me, at the imperturbable château. Then, quite suddenly, something
did happen. Out of a window in the donjon tower of the fifteenth century
was thrust a head, and from across the river it wagged at us
malevolently.

It was the concierge. The shock of discovering he had locked us out
purposely in punishment of our independent excursion, threw me into
extreme rage. My Anabasis manner had already dropped from me; but
Xenophon got his party successfully back, and this same task was now
searchingly, compellingly, 'up to me.' More malevolent wagging from the
tower was all that resulted from my next demonstrations. In these I was
now alone; my party, at the apparition of the concierge, had become
abruptly quiet, thinking doubtless that loud calls and wavings would
diminish my dignity less than theirs, whose years and discretion were
more than mine. Therefore my companions brandished their umbrellas no
more, but stood upon the banks of the Cher decorously, in a reserved
attitude, patient yet stately, as if awaiting the tumbril; I, meanwhile,
hurled international threats across the river. These wrought no change.
In repose my French halts, but when roused it acquires both speed and
point; yet none of my idioms disturbed the concierge at his window. And
now I was visited by inspiration. I seized the chain and rang the
tocsin. It sounded as if Attila were coming at once. Somebody would have
come, undoubtedly,--the whole _arrondissement_ I should think,--but
after a few moments of that din, the head disappeared; in a few more the
door was unlocked, and my companions preceded me with restraint yet with
celerity across Catherine's gallery and out of Chenonceaux's front door
and away, down the avenue to the railway, whilst I delivered some final
idioms to the concierge. I am happy to record that these made him livid,
and in the presence of a highly attentive audience. But--we had in truth
small idea with whom we were dealing. Some time later we got final news
of him. He had committed a murder, been caught, tried, convicted,
sentenced, and executed.

You will remember the British lady at the Hôtel de l'Univers in Tours,
who, in her description of Amboise, pronounced curious to rhyme with
glorious. Her kind was still pervading the quieter hotels of the
continent (the Hôtel de l'Univers was still quiet) while her more
muscular sister was still climbing all the Alps in valiant weeds. This
time, another of the identical type sat next me at the table d'hôte, and
from the corner of my eye I perceived her to be making endless and
surreptitious dives with her head at my bottle of Vouvray mousseux.
Becoming sure that this was neither St. Vitus's dance nor kleptomania,
but a desire to learn the name of my wine, I made her a slight bow,
turning my bottle so that she could more easily read its label; at which
she squeaked skittishly, 'I-didn't-think-you'd-see-me!'


III

The mid-Victorian spinster was gone, the automobile was come, the much
expanded Hôtel de l'Univers was quiet no more and had abandoned the
table d'hôte for small tables when next I saw Chenonceaux. Eager as I
had been to return to it, still more did I desire to enjoy that
particular pleasure which one takes in introducing a scene one delights
in to a friend. We were, this time, as we had been the first time, a
party of three, and the day was July 4, 1914; but in the Cathedral of
Bourges that morning, and at Montrichard and along the Cher that
forenoon, firecrackers seemed remote. Later, the Hôtel de l'Univers had
illuminations and national melodies for the benefit of its American
patrons--these having now swelled to the lucrative proportions of
invasion.

But Chenonceaux hadn't changed, Chenonceaux looked just as young as
ever. Its bright, serene aspect showed no confusion at changing masters
so often. To my friends it more than fulfilled my promises for it, while
for me it was even fairer than my memory. The concierge, a woman this
time, told her band of sightseers enough, but much less than she knew.
She had acquired (one somehow divined and discerned) a certain scorn
for her sightseers. She had found (one saw) the affluent automobile to
be the chariot of well-informed stomachs, but seldom of intelligences
which had ever heard, or would ever care to hear, about Madame Dupin and
her many distinguished guests. They knew their Michelin, where to buy
_pétrol_ along the road, which roads to avoid; and the road they had
particularly avoided was the one conducting to civilization. Some of
them were present on this occasion with their goggles, their magenta
veils, and their brass voices. To these the concierge imparted what she
deemed them able to digest. She didn't mention the _Devin du
Village_--but I did! This brought an immediate _rapprochement_, as we
lingered with her behind the departing goggles. She knew and loved her
Chenonceaux; her scorn fell from her; but she told us nothing so
interesting as the fact that during the last twelvemonth _twenty
thousand_ visitors had given each their required franc to see the place.
The château, at this rate, will pay its way down the ages.

But what of the Bon-Laboureur? If the mid-Victorian spinster and the
table d'hôte hadn't survived the pace of the new century, what had the
automobile done to the innocent village inn? I hope you will be glad to
learn that it hadn't--as yet--done much. I have now reached the third of
those meals which I mentioned at the outset. The Bon-Laboureur seemed a
little larger,--people were lunching in two rooms instead of one, and
out behind, kitchenward, there was a hint of bustle and of chauffeurs,
and perhaps the personal note of welcome was fainter. But it wasn't
quite absent; and still the food was excellent, still the service was
courteous, a pleasant young woman waiting; and I felt that here was a
good, small tradition still somewhat holding out against the
beleaguering pressure of the wholesale. So I spoke to the pleasant young
woman and inquired if the old _patronne_ were still living.

'Mais si, monsieur!' I was, to my astonishment, answered. 'A deux pas
d'ici.'

The personal note of welcome warmed up on learning that I was an old
visitor here; the patronne would value a call from one who remembered
her good cooking; she was now very old; she had sold the business and
the good-will; she lived very quietly; would I not go to see her? And
her house was pointed out to me.

Along the street of the little white village I went, slowly, in the
midsummer warmth. The grape-leaves, trailing and basking on the walls,
the full-leaved trees, the light and laziness of earth and sky, conveyed
the same hush of repose that had exhaled from the golden autumn and the
delicate spring I remembered so well; in this July sunshine, also, the
pleasant land lay dreamy and unvexed. At a door standing slightly open,
I knocked. Though a pause followed, I felt I had been heard; then I was
bidden to enter, by a very old voice. Two rooms were accessible from the
tiny hall, but I entered the right one, and there by the window sat the
patronne. I had remembered her as moving alertly round her table, quiet
and vigorous, above average height. All of this was gone; and as her
dark, feeble eyes looked at me, I felt in them a certain apprehension,
and found myself unpremeditatedly saying,--

'Madame, I trust you will not think ill of an intruder when you learn
why it is that he has ventured to knock at your door. They assured me
you would like my visit. Here is my little story: One Sunday afternoon
in September, 1882, three travelers came to the Bon-Laboureur. I was one
of them; and never forgetting your excellent meal and service, I
returned at my first opportunity, in April, 1896. Meanwhile that good
meal of yours, and you its hostess, had been mentioned in a book by
another of those three guests; and you told me of the prosperity this
had brought you. Since that visit, thirty-two years ago, I have become a
writer of books too. Of me you will not have heard, but you cannot have
forgotten Mr. Henry James, whose praise brought so many guests to the
Bon-Laboureur.'

Her eyes, during my speech, had awakened, and now she stood up.

'My servant is absent,' she said, 'or you would not have had to come in
so. But my son lives close by in that large place. He will like very
much to see you. I will call him.'

She would have gone for him on her trembling feet, but this I begged she
would not do; I had but five minutes; friends were waiting for me.

'I am ninety years old,' she said. 'Ah, monsieur, il est bien triste de
vieillir. One has nothing any more.' She became suddenly moved, and
tears fell from her.

I need not recall the little talk we had then. Strangers though we were,
we did not speak as strangers; the memories that rose in each of us, so
separate, so different, flowed together in some way, united beneath our
spoken words, and made them sacred. But I may record that she got out
her old books to show me, her registry-books of the Bon-Laboureur,
little, old, modest volumes, where in many handwritings through many
years the names of her guests had been inscribed. They had come from
almost everywhere in the world. No longer strong enough, she had parted
with the business and the good-will; but from these tokens of her past
she could not part. She clung to the inanimate survivals of her good
days and her renown. And on a blank page of the last volume which she
placed before me, putting a pen in my hand, I wrote briefly for her of
my three pilgrimages to her _petit pays_. Of the international
distinction of her son she was touchingly and justly proud: famous
peonies have spread his name wide as their cultivator and producer. For
this, too, was the Bon-Laboureur in its way responsible.

Perhaps I may not see it again, or its grand neighbor, the château, that
secular shrine of a vivacious and select Past. But I shall need no
Michelin, or Baedeker, or Joanne, to guide my memories thither. They are
with me, every moment and breath of them, for my perpetual delight, a
safe possession, unweakened and undimmed; and to conjure them before me
it needs no more than the haunting syllables of Chenonceaux and the
quaint, cherished volumes of the patronne.

                  IN CHENONCEAUX

    My noiseless thoughts, if changed to their just sound
      Amid these courts of silence once so gay
    With love and wit, that here full pleasure found
      Where Kings put off their crownèd cares to play,
    Would shake in laughter at some jest unheard;
      Would sing like viols in a saraband;
    Would whisper kisses--but express no word
      That would not be too dim to understand.

    Like to a child, who far from ocean's flood
      Against his ear a shell doth fondly hold
    To hear the murmur that is his own blood,
      And half believes the fairy-tale he's told,
    So I within this shell mistake my sea
    Of musing for the tide of History.



The Other Side

By Margaret Sherwood


Like every other attentive reader of our periodical literature, I am
increasingly aware of our persistent exposure of sin and wrong-doing in
high places and in low; like many another attentive reader, I am growing
a bit rebellious against this constant demand and supply in the matter
of information regarding recent evil. Have we not grown over-alert in
the search for this special kind of news? We take vice with our
breakfast porridge; perjury with our after-dinner coffee; our essayists
vie with one another in seeing who can write up the most startling story
of crimes; and it is a bankrupt family nowadays that cannot produce one
member to expose civic or political corruption. Undoubtedly much genuine
ethical impulse lies back of all this; undoubtedly, too, much of the
picturesque and spectacular treatment springs from a desire to startle,
and ministers, in many a reader who would scorn paper-covered fiction,
to a love of the sensational. Surely it must seem to the people of other
countries that we take pride in the immensity of our sins, as we take
pride in Niagara, in the length of the Mississippi, in the extent of our
western plains.

Many may be, and must be, the good effects of throwing the searchlight
upon dark places, but the constant glare of the searchlight bids fair to
rob us of our normal vision of life. My poor mind has become a
storehouse of misdeeds not my own. I am sick with iniquity; I walk
abroad under the shadow of infamy, and I sup with horrors. I shrink from
meeting my friends,--not that they are not the best people in the world,
but I dread lest they pour into my ears some newly acquired knowledge of
wrong-doing. For me, as for others, the sun of noonday is clouded by
graft, bribery, treachery, and corruption; and I fear to close my eyes
in the dark because of the pictured crimes that crowd before them.
Suppose poor Christian had had to drag after him not only his own bag of
transgressions, but those of Mr. Worldly Wiseman, Mr. Facing-both-ways,
and all the denizens of Vanity Fair, what chance would he ever have had
of getting out of the Slough of Despond?

It is not that I wish to shirk; I am not afraid of facing anything that
I ought to know, and I have not the slightest doubt that we are all, in
great measure, responsible for our neighbors' sins. But I am not sure
that we are taking the wisest way to mend them. It seems to me
incontestable that, with the large issues of individual and of national
well-being in mind, we are over-doing the exposure, and slighting the
incentives to right action; emphasizing the negative at the expense of
the positive; and that, with our weakening convictions regarding the
things that are right, it is dangerous to go on loudly proclaiming the
things that are wrong. We are much in the position of a village
improvement society which has pulled down a bridge because it is
rotting, and is impotent to build another and a better. We have invested
our national all in wrecking machinery, and have nothing left for
constructive tools. It is said that in our explosive setting forth of
civic and national wrong-doing, we are all too prone to stop with the
explosion, as if mere knowledge of these things would set them right.
Mere knowledge never yet set anything right; only the ceaselessly
active, creative will can fashion a world of law out of chaos.

Of the criticism often made that exposure of wrong should be followed,
more closely than is done here, by constructive action, if anything is
to be really effected, it is not my task to speak. The aspect of the
matter which interests me especially concerns the youth of the land; it
is the educational aspect. Not through loud wailing over evil can a
nation be built, but through resolute dwelling with high ideals. In
certain ugly tendencies of recent years among the young, as, for
instance, the unabashed sensuality of much of the modern dancing, may we
not detect, perhaps, a cynical assumption that life is at basis
corrupt,--a natural result of continued harping on evil things, and of
failure to keep before them images of moral beauty? Our magazine writers
would be far better employed, if, instead of making our ears constantly
resound with reports of civic iniquities, they were, part of the time at
least, studying Plato's _Republic_, and filling mind and soul with the
hope of the perfect state. Wrong things we dare hope are of small and
fleeting consequence as compared with the right; it is not the sin of
Judas Iscariot, but the righteousness of his Master, that has brought
the human race a gleam of hope and possible redemption. When I was told,
not long ago, of a student in one of our great universities who had
elected 'Criminology 16,' I could not help reflecting that he might far
better have taken Idealistic Philosophy I.

Whether or not our study of evil should be lessened, our study of the
good needs to be vastly strengthened. We are losing the vision! 'Your
old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions,' said the
prophet, in promising wonders in the heavens and in the earth, after his
account of fasting, weeping, mourning, and beating the breast. There is
a time for beating the breast and for tearing the hair, and of this we
have had our day, but perpetual sitting upon the ash-heap and howling
will not raise the walls of state. Sitting there may, in time, even
become a luxury; can it be that we are doing so much of it partly
because it is easier, and because the heaven-sent task of building up
and shaping is too hard for us?

Take away from youth the power of seeing visions, of dreaming dreams,
and you take away the future. It would behoove us to remember, perhaps,
that the eras of great deeds have not been eras of analysis, but eras
when the creative imagination was at work. Yet our modern mental habit
is overwhelmingly a habit of analysis, for which science, in teaching us
to pick the world to bits, is partly, though not wholly, responsible. It
has brought us an immense amount of interesting information; it has
brought also a danger whose gravity we can hardly estimate, in the
constant lessening of the synthetic power. The power to image, to
fashion high ideals, and to create along the line of the imagining, is
weakening, instead of growing more strong. In the glorious days of Queen
Elizabeth, in the unparalleled days of Periclean Athens, great ideals
formed themselves before men's eyes and great achievements followed;
emotion, hope, vision, shaped human nature to great issues. I wonder
what influence those perfect marble representations of perfect form had
upon the very bodies of the youths and the maidens of Athens, what
creative force they exercised,--the imaginative grasp of the perfect
reaching forward toward perfectness in the human being. I wonder what
influence the character of Sir Philip Sidney alone, with 'high-erected
thoughts seated in a heart of courtesy,' has had upon succeeding
generations of English youth. 'A man to be greatly good,' said Shelley,
'must imagine intensely and comprehensively.'

Here my quarrel with our present intellectual trend and our present
system of education becomes more acute. We are not only losing the habit
of mind that fosters idealism, but we are more and more breaking with
the past. The door of that storehouse of noble thought and noble example
is being slowly but firmly closed, and there is little in modern
teaching that can meet the inroads made by the devastating knowledge of
evil of which we have been speaking; little that can build up where this
tears down. Study of Greek life, with its incomparable power of shaping
existence toward the beautiful, is all but cast aside; most
unfortunately now, when, with the rush of ignorant peoples to our
shores, it might have a far-reaching potency never attained before. The
ignorance of contemporary youth regarding that other and finer
loveliness of 'Gospel books' is amazing. More and more we are stripped
of the humanities; the incredulity of science in contemplating
philosophy, art, literature, as part of the educational curriculum, is
full of menace. There has never been, I think, in the history of the
civilized world, a time when people were so anxious to cast off the
past. In our eager Marathon race of material and physical progress we
want to go as lightly equipped as possible. The æroplane carries small
luggage; our light modern mind is ever ready to throw overboard even its
precious heritage, in its eagerness for swift flight. As earlier days
have reverenced the old, we reverence the new, and are all too
insistently contemporaneous.

We need, as we never needed before, a broader and deeper study of
history, of philosophy, of literature; for most of our young, a
knowledge of the mental and spiritual past of the race is of far greater
importance than a knowledge of the physical past, at the amœba stage,
or any other. Science, much as it can do for us, can never meet our
deepest need; the world of imaginative beauty and the world of ethical
endeavor are apart from its domain. It has no spring to touch the will,
yet that which has, the magnificent inheritance of our literature, is
more and more neglected for the latest machinery that applied science
has devised, or the most recent treatise on insect, bird, or worm. It is
well to study insect, bird, and worm, for they are endlessly
interesting, but I maintain that neither the full sum of knowledge
concerning them, nor even the ultimate fact about the ultimate star, can
be a substitute for knowledge of the idealism of Thomas Carlyle, of the
categorical imperative of Kant,--for that study of the humanities which
means preserving, for the upbuilding of youth, that which was best and
finest in the past, as we go on toward the future.

If the swift retort should come, from those who think the present the
only era of attainment and the physical world the only source of wisdom,
that the past is full of villainies, of lapses from high standards, one
can but say that for ethical purposes our study should be frankly a
selective study, emphasizing the fine and high, subordinating the evil.
There is no hypocrisy in such selection; there is deliberate choice of
the higher upon which to dwell, as a formative power, quickening feeling
and imagination. I have heard it said that a woman, by resolute dwelling
on things noble and pure, may shape the inner nature of her unborn
child, and I have faith to believe it. Even so should the nation yet to
be be shaped by resolute dwelling on the good. It was not all cowardice,
as many a present writer thinks, that led the mothers of earlier days to
say little to their sons and daughters regarding evil things, and much
regarding right things. Doubtless greater frankness would have been
better, yet I doubt if our protracted dwelling on the evil will produce
better results.

Should any one object that this emphasis on the good means suppression
of the truth, we can but reply that, for the rational soul, the truth is
not necessarily the mechanically worked-out sum of all the facts. That
we have forgotten the distinction between fact--that which has indeed
come to pass, but which may be momentary--and truth, which endures, is
one of the many signs of what William Sharp calls the 'spiritual
degradation' of our time. Much of our modern thinking and teaching, much
of our realistic fiction, rests upon a failure to make the distinction;
much that is indisputable in individual instances of wrong-doing may be,
thank God! false in the long run.

'That is not true, scientifically true,' we hear often in regard to some
fine hope or aspiration of the race; but in the real import of the term
there is no such thing as scientific truth. It is a pity that a word of
such profound and distinctive meaning should come to be more and more
exclusively identified with the observation of physical phenomena, and
the formulation of physical laws, whereas the very root-meaning of the
word true, from Anglo-Saxon _treowe_, signifying faithful, gives
justification for the idealist's belief that vital truth is partly a
matter of the will, not of mere perception and of intellectual
deductions drawn therefrom. We have need of deeper truth than that of
mere fact; and the truth that shall set us free is a truth of choice, of
selection; it embraces that part of human thought and human experience
which is worth keeping.

Faithfulness to the best and finest in the past and in the present,
rather than horrified gaping at the present's worst, is the attitude
that means continued and bettered life, for we become what we will. What
are we offering, in the way of concrete examples, or of finely expressed
thought about virtue, to the young, to the ignorant nations who are
pouring in upon us, that will help them form their vision of the
perfect? With our narrowing knowledge of the greater past, our choice of
heroes becomes more and more local and national, yet our hierarchy of
sacred dead is too small to afford that variety of heroic action and
heroic choice that should always be kept before the minds of youth. We
teach them that George Washington never told a lie; we teach them
something--and there could be nothing better--of Lincoln; but those two
figures are lonely upon Olympus, and the great tragic story of the way
in which Lincoln faced the greatest crisis in our history will not alone
suffice to help the everyday citizen shape his thought and action toward
constructive idealism. The lesser heroes of our young republic have
acquitted themselves nobly in this struggle and in that, but the
struggles have been too closely akin in nature to give the embryo hero
that breadth and depth of nurture that he requires. We need an enlarged
vision of history, and the sight of great men of all ages faithful to
small tasks as to great; we need the companionship of heroes of other
times and of other nations, and not of military heroes alone. Saint
Francis with his unceasing tenderness to man and beast, Father Damien at
work among the lepers, might far better occupy the pages of our
magazines, than the pictured deeds of criminals and the achievements of
contemporary multimillionaires.

If we need a wider range of concrete examples of the good, we need
still more a wider range of nobly expressed ideals. Our thought grows
narrow; we smother for lack of breathing space. Benjamin Franklin's
philosophy was far from grasping the best of life, yet we remember him
better than we do our Emerson, whose plea for spiritual values as the
only real ones is lost in the louder and louder groaning of the wheels
of our machinery. The idealism that is taught the young in Sunday
schools is too often inextricably bound up with unnecessary theology;
and many and many a pupil, in discarding the latter, discards the other
also. The ideal of success upheld in much journalistic admonition is
often rather mean and low; the young of this country need no printed
incentives to urge them into commercialism and the victories of trade.
The best influences that are being brought to bear upon them are those
which concern social responsibilities and the needs of the poor. Yet all
this thought and endeavor should supplement and not supersede, as it is
doing, a deep concern with the things of the spirit; and no admonition
regarding hygiene for one's self or others is a substitute for--

                            A sense sublime
    Of something far more deeply interfused,
    Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
    And the round ocean, and the living air,
    And the blue sky, and in the mind of man;
    A motion and a spirit, that impels
    All thinking things, all objects of all thought
    And rolls through all things.

The great things of the past in all nations, history can teach us; the
possible, both literature and philosophy can teach us. We must forego no
noble expression of idealistic faith, lest we impoverish our own souls,
and beggar those who come after us. The pure intellectual passion of
Bacon's _Advancement of Learning_, the noble stoicism of Marcus
Aurelius, the spiritual vision of Plato, of Spenser, the heroic strain
of Wordsworth's 'Liberty Sonnets' and his 'Happy Warrior,' Shelley's
ardent and generous sympathy, Browning's dynamic spiritual force, should
make up part of our life and thought, checking our insistent impulse
toward mechanical things, and correcting the evil within and without.
More than anything else, we need a revival of interest in great poetry.

'Now therein of all sciences,' said Sir Philip Sidney, 'is our poet the
monarch. For he doth not only show the way, but giveth so sweet a
prospect into the way as will entice any man to enter it.... He cometh
to you with words set in delightful proportion, either accompanied with,
or prepared for, the well-enchanting skill of music; and with a tale,
forsooth, he cometh unto you, with a tale which holdeth children from
play, and old men from the chimney-corner, and, pretending no more, doth
intend the winning of the mind from wickedness to virtue.'

The poet's 'perfect picture' of the good, the great image, causes noble
passion, wakes us out of our 'habitual calm,' and stirs us almost
beyond our possibilities. The imagination is the miracle-working power
in human nature; through it alone can the human soul come to its own.
Only that which is fine and high can feed it aright, while baseness can
make of it a destructive tool of terrible power. As I think back to
childhood, I can remember the devastating effect that one tale of
cruelty had upon my mind, haunting me by day in vivid pictures, turning
my dreams to horror, and making me, while the obsession lasted, believe
that the world of grown folk must be all alike cruel. So, too, the
compelling vision of the good came through concrete instances; and the
people, both the living and the dead, in whom I passionately believed,
shaped all my faith.

The imagination of youth,--there is no power like it, no machine that
can equal it in dynamic force, nothing so full of power, so full of
danger. We become that which we look upon, contemplate, remember; it is
for this that I dread the ultimate effect of the long, imaginative
picturing of our neighbor's sins now presented in our periodicals.
Images of evil can hardly help dimming and tarnishing the bright ideals
of youth; is there no way--with all our modern wisdom can we find no
way--of limiting our exposure of crime to the people who can be of
service in helping check it, and keeping it from those who cannot help,
but can only be silently hurt? A moment, an hour of some fresh vision,
and a child's destiny is perhaps decided for good or for ill. One
afternoon's reading of Spenser made the boy Keats a poet; who, knowing
the potency of brief experience in the flush of youth, can doubt the
lasting wrong wrought again and again by the sudden shock of contact
with things evil?

Many images of wrong must of necessity come to the young; let them not
be multiplied in our feverish and morbid fashion of to-day. Above all,
let them be crowded out by constant suggestion of noble images and noble
thought, which will work both consciously and subconsciously, shaping
the dream when the dreamer is least aware. To hold up before the ardent
and impressionable young that which they may become in strength, in
purity, would surely be better than placing before them this perpetual
moving-picture show of our civic and national transgressions. I can but
believe, as I read article after article of exposure, that this
continued presentation to youth of the unholy side of life, with our
increasing tendency to make education a mere matter of the intellect and
of the eye, is bound to lessen the moral energy of the race. Would it
not be better if we were more diligent in searching history, philosophy,
literature, for 'whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are
lovely, whatsoever things are of good report,' and in bidding the young
think on these things?



On Authors

By Margaret Preston Montague


I write myself; therefore I feel free to say what I please about
authors; but if you, sir, or madam, who read, but do not write, were to
give voice to the reflections that are even now beginning to distill
from my pencil, I should doubtless resent them. And here, indeed, I am
faced by the sudden reflection that much of what I say myself I might
resent in the mouths of others. This leads to a whole new train of
thought, which, however, I refuse to take, and board instead the one I
set out for,--The Authors' Unlimited. There are many things to be
remarked about authors, but in so short a paper it is possible to touch
upon only a very few. One of the first facts that strikes the
investigator in this field is that members of my profession do not
always appear to endear themselves to those with whom they have
dealings.

'What do you think of authors?' I once asked an editor.

'I hate 'em!' he answered without a moment's hesitation.

Another editor assured me, with a weary sigh, that authors were 'kittle
cattle.' This affords a writer a little leap of amusement. So editors
suffer from authors, even as authors from editors! Well, yes, we _are_
kittle cattle! But some of this is due, no doubt, to what people expect
of us. I was presented once to a lady who immediately fixed me with an
eager eye.

'I am making a study of the habits of authors,' she announced. (Here a
dreadful sinking of the heart assailed me.) 'Kindly tell me at what hour
you retire.'

'Usually at half-past ten,' I answered wretchedly.

At that, as I had expected, her eyebrows went up. 'The author of _When
All Was Dark_,' she informed me, 'sits up all night. She says she cannot
sleep until she has savored the dawn.' However, she was kind enough to
give me another chance. 'What do you eat?' she asked.

'Three hearty meals a day,' I answered.

'Not _breakfast_!' she pleaded. 'Why, St. George Dreamer _never_ takes
more than three drops of brandy on a lump of sugar in the morning. Just
the sight of a coffee cup will upset his work for a week.'

And then she left me, sure, I have no doubt, that no real author could
confess to such distressingly normal habits as mine.

Doubtless she is an eager reader of all those little paragraphs
informing us how authors write. How this one has to have his black mammy
rub his head for an hour before he can even think of work; and that one
confesses that to write a love scene she must have the odor of decayed
bananas in the room. Well, the world would be a sadder place without
these little paragraphs. Would that I had something of a like nature to
offer! But alas! I have no black mammy, and the smell of over-ripe fruit
leaves my hero cold. Also, to give forth such gems of information one
must be able to observe a certain rule. It is, Don't laugh or you might
wake up. This rule is always sacredly in force at literary gatherings.
The fact of being an author, and of being at an authors' meeting,
induces, it appears, an intense seriousness. In my younger days I did
not realize this, and once at a gathering of this nature, I asked a
carefree question. 'Do you think,' I inquired of the author next me,
'that it is possible for an unmusical person to write verse?'

I confess now that I put the question somewhat in the spirit of the
Irishman, who, asking after his friend's health, added, 'Not that I care
a damn, but it makes conversation.' Heaven defend me from ever again
making so much conversation! A gleam shot up in my author's eye. 'Let us
go over and ask Professor ---- ' he cried. 'He wrote _What Poets Cannot
Do_. He's just the man to tell us!' And before I could escape, he
dragged me through the press of authors, and flung me before the
professor, with the tag, 'Unmusical, but aspires to write verse,--is
this possible?'

I know now how the beetle feels beneath the microscope. Seeing the
little group we made, two young authors 'hurried up, and more, and more,
and more.' They surrounded me to listen, to inspect, to comment; they
asked one another eager questions about me, they compared notes, they
appealed to the author of _What Poets Cannot Do_, and always their
dreadful eyes were fixed upon me. Never, never again will I dare the
dreadful seriousness of an authors' meeting with an idle question!

I have also learned another lesson. It is how to converse with authors.
I shudder now to think of my early and crude attempts in this matter.
The remembrance of one particular occasion stands out with dreadful
vividness. I had been introduced to a distinguished writer. She raised
her eyes to mine for a wan instant, a pale flicker of recognition passed
over her face, and then--silence. Readers,--nay, let me call you friends
while I make this terrible confession,--_I broke that silence!_ I was
young; I did not understand. I do now. I have never been able since to
read 'The Ancient Mariner'--I know too well the awfulness of having shot
an albatross. 'The lady,' I said to my inexperienced self, 'does not
care to converse; she expects you to do so.' Accordingly, I broke into
light and cheerful talk, something in conversation corresponding, I
fear, to what in dry goods the clerk recommends as 'a nice line of
spring styles.' I realize that only a series of illustrations can make
the situation clear. Imagine then, if you please, a tinkling cymbal
serenading a smouldering volcano; a puppy trying to woo the Sphinx to a
game of tag; sunlit waves breaking upon a 'stern and rock-bound coast,'
and you may get a faint idea of the situation. I began almost
immediately to experience that far-from-home sensation of which
Humpty-Dumpty speaks with so much feeling. As I beheld one after another
of my little remarks dash itself to nothingness against that stern and
rock-bound coast, only the time and the place kept me from bursting into
tears. Fortunately it did not last too long. In another minute one or
the other of us would have shattered into the maniac's wild laughter.
And I have every reason to fear that I should have been that one.
Others, however, realizing the awful thing I was doing, rushed up and
separated us. Sympathetic hands were stretched to her; low words were
murmured, and she was drawn into a secluded corner where her silence
might be preserved from any further onslaughts of a like sacrilegious
nature. But no one stretched a hand to _me_; no sympathetic words were
murmured in _my_ ear!

I now know that in conversations with authors there should be long
pauses. This is because every remark, after being received by the ear,
must be submitted to a strict brain analysis, and then given a soul-bath
before it is proper to venture a reply. I have found, also, that in
answering too quickly, I myself lose caste. I now make it a point never
to respond to a question addressed to me by an author until I have
counted twenty. If the author is very distinguished, I make it fifty for
good measure.

Much more remains to be said about authors. I realize that I have, as it
were, merely scraped the surface of the subject. Space, however, allows
me only room to add one last anecdote. But this one may indeed prove
more illuminating than all that has gone before. Once, then, in a
certain city where I was visiting, I was invited to attend a meeting of
its authors' club. 'Now at this meeting,' I instructed myself before
going, 'you will probably encounter the most serious species of author
native to this climate.' Accordingly I set forth with a light and
expectant heart. As I entered the hall I was aware of another person
entering from an opposite door,--a serious, awkward person, with just
that peculiar, vague, and almost feeble-minded expression that I have
come to associate with writers in general. 'Behold, my child, the
SERIOUS AUTHOR,' I commented happily to myself. I looked again, and saw
it was _myself in a mirror_!



The Provincial American

By Meredith Nicholson

    _Viola._ What country, friends, is this?

    _Captain._                       Illyria, lady.

    _Viola._ And what should I do in Illyria?
                    My brother he is in Elysium.

    _--Twelfth Night._


I am a provincial American. My forbears were farmers or country-town
folk. They followed the long trail over the mountains out of Virginia
and North Carolina, with brief sojourns in Western Pennsylvania and
Kentucky. My parents were born, the one in Kentucky, the other in
Indiana, within two and four hours of the spot where I pen these
reflections, and I was a grown man and had voted before I saw the sea or
any Eastern city.

In attempting to illustrate the provincial point of view out of my own
experiences I am moved by no wish to celebrate either the Hoosier
commonwealth--which has not lacked nobler advertisement--or myself; but
by the hope that I may cheer many who, flung by fate upon the world's
byways, shuffle and shrink under the reproach of their metropolitan
brethren.

Mr. George Ade has said, speaking of our freshwater colleges, that
Purdue University, his own alma mater, offers everything that Harvard
provides except the sound of _a_ as in father. I have been told that I
speak our _lingua rustica_ only slightly corrupted by urban contacts.
Anywhere east of Buffalo I should be known as a Westerner; I could not
disguise myself if I would. I find that I am most comfortable in a town
whose population does not exceed a fifth of a million,--the kind of
place that enjoys street-car transfers, a woman's club, and a post
office with carrier delivery.


I

Across a hill-slope that knew my childhood, a bugle's grieving melody
used to float often through the summer twilight. A highway lay hidden in
the little vale below, and beyond it the unknown musician was quite
concealed, and was never visible to the world I knew. Those trumpetings
have lingered always in my memory, and color my recollection of all that
was near and dear in those days. Men who had left camp and field for the
soberer routine of civil life were not yet fully domesticated. My bugler
was merely solacing himself for lost joys by recurring to the vocabulary
of the trumpet. I am confident that he enjoyed himself; and I am equally
sure that his trumpetings peopled the dusk for me with great captains
and mighty armies, and touched with a certain militancy all my youthful
dreaming.

No American boy born during or immediately after the Civil War can have
escaped in those years the vivid impressions derived from the sight and
speech of men who had fought its battles, or women who had known its
terror and grief. Chief among my playthings on that peaceful hillside
was the sword my father had borne at Shiloh and on to the sea; and I
remember, too, his uniform coat and sash and epaulets and the tattered
guidon of his battery, that, falling to my lot as toys, yet imparted to
my childish consciousness a sense of what war had been. The young
imagination was kindled in those days by many and great names. Lincoln,
Grant, and Sherman were among the first lispings of Northern children of
my generation; and in the little town where I was born, lived men who
had spoken with them face to face. I did not know, until I sought them
later for myself, the fairy tales that are every child's birthright; and
I imagine that children of my generation heard less of

       old, unhappy, far-off things
    And battles long ago,

and more of the men and incidents of contemporaneous history. Great
spirits still on earth were sojourning. I saw several times, in his last
years, the iron-willed Hoosier War Governor, Oliver P. Morton. By the
time I was ten, a broader field of observation opening through my
parents' removal to the state capital, I had myself beheld Grant and
Sherman; and every day I passed in the street men who had been partners
with them in the great, heroic, sad, splendid struggle. These things I
set down as a background for the observations that follow,--less as text
than as point of departure; yet I believe that bugler, sounding charge
and retreat and taps in the dusk, and those trappings of war beneath
whose weight I strutted upon that hillside, did much toward establishing
in me a certain habit of mind. From that hillside I have since
ineluctably viewed my country and my countrymen and the larger world.

Emerson records Thoreau's belief that 'the flora of Massachusetts
embraced almost all the important plants of America,--most of the oaks,
most of the willows, the best pines, the ash, the maple, the beech, the
nuts. He returned Kane's arctic voyage to a friend of whom he had
borrowed it, with the remark, that most of the phenomena noted might be
observed in Concord.'

The complacency of the provincial mind is due less, I believe, to
stupidity and ignorance, than to the fact that every American county is
in a sense complete, a political and social unit, in which the sovereign
rights of a free people are expressed by the courthouse and town hall,
spiritual freedom by the village church-spire, and hope and aspiration
in the school-house. Every reader of American fiction, particularly in
the realm of the short story, must have observed the great variety of
quaint and racy characters disclosed. These are the _dramatis personæ_
of that great American novel which some one has said is being written in
installments. Writers of fiction hear constantly of characters who would
be well worth their study. In reading two recent novels that penetrate
to the heart of provincial life, Mr. White's _A Certain Rich Man_ and
Mrs. Watts's _Nathan Burke_, I felt that the characters depicted might,
with unimportant exceptions, have been found almost anywhere in those
American states that shared the common history of Kansas and Ohio. Mr.
Winston Churchill, in his admirable novels of New England, has shown how
closely the purely local is allied to the universal. 'Woodchuck
sessions' have been held by many American legislatures.

When _David Harum_ appeared, characters similar to the hero of that
novel were reported in every part of the country. I rarely visit a town
that has not its cracker-barrel philosopher, or a poet who would shine
but for the callous heart of the magazine editor, or an artist of
supreme though unrecognized talent, or a forensic orator of wonderful
powers, or a mechanical genius whose inventions are bound to
revolutionize the industrial world. In Maine, in the back room of a shop
whose windows looked down upon a tidal river, I have listened to tariff
discussions in the dialect of Hosea Biglow; and a few weeks later have
heard farmers along the un-salt Wabash debating the same questions from
a point of view that revealed no masted ships or pine woods, with a new
sense of the fine tolerance and sanity and reasonableness of our
American people. Mr. James Whitcomb Riley, one of the shrewdest students
of provincial character, introduced me one day to a friend of his in a
village near Indianapolis who bore a striking resemblance to Abraham
Lincoln, and who had something of Lincoln's gift of humorous narration.
This man kept a country store, and his attitude toward his customers,
and 'trade' in general, was delicious in its drollery. Men said to be
'like Lincoln' have not been rare in the Mississippi Valley, and
politicians have been known to encourage belief in the resemblance.

Colonel Higginson has said that in the Cambridge of his youth any member
of the Harvard faculty could answer any question within the range of
human knowledge; whereas in these days of specialization some man can
answer the question, but it may take a week's investigation to find him.
In 'our town'--a poor virgin, sir, an ill-favored thing, sir, but mine
own!--I dare say it was possible in that _post bellum_ era to find men
competent to deal with almost any problem. These were mainly men of
humble beginnings and all essentially the product of our American
provinces. I should like to set down briefly the ineffaceable impression
some of these characters left upon me. I am precluded by a variety of
considerations from extending this recital. The rich field of education
I ignore altogether; and I may mention only those who have gone. As it
is beside my purpose to prove that mine own people are other than
typical of those of most American communities, I check my exuberance.
Sad indeed the offending if I should protest too much!


II

In the days when the bugle still mourned across the vale, Lew Wallace
was a citizen of my native town of Crawfordsville. There he had amused
himself in the years immediately before the civil conflict, in drilling
a company of 'Algerian Zouaves' known as the Montgomery Guards, of which
my father was a member, and this was the nucleus of the Eleventh Indiana
Regiment which Wallace commanded in the early months of the war. It is
not, however, of Wallace's military services that I wish to speak now,
nor of his writings, but of the man himself as I knew him later at the
capital, at a time when, in the neighborhood of the federal building at
Indianapolis, any boy might satisfy his longing for heroes with a sight
of many of our Hoosier Olympians. He was of medium height, erect, dark
to swarthiness, with finely chiseled features and keen, black eyes, with
manners the most courtly, and a voice unusually musical and haunting.
His appearance, his tastes, his manner, were strikingly Oriental.

He had a strong theatric instinct, and his life was filled with
drama--with melodrama, even. His curiosity led him into the study of
many subjects, most of them remote from the affairs of his day. He was
both dreamer and man of action; he could be 'idler than the idlest
flowers,' yet he was always busy about something. He was an aristocrat
and a democrat; he was wise and temperate, whimsical and injudicious in
a breath. As a youth he had seen visions, and as an old man he dreamed
dreams. The mysticism in him was deep-planted, and he was always a
little aloof, a man apart. His capacity for detachment was like that of
Sir Richard Burton, who, at a great company given in his honor, was
found alone poring over a puzzling Arabic manuscript in an obscure
corner of the house. Wallace, like Burton, would have reached Mecca, if
chance had led him to that adventure.

Wallace dabbled in politics without ever being a politician; and I might
add that he practiced law without ever being, by any high standard, a
lawyer. He once spoke of the law as 'that most detestable of human
occupations.' First and last he tried his hand at all the arts. He
painted a little; he moulded a little in clay; he knew something of
music and played the violin; he made three essays in romance. As boy and
man he went soldiering; he was a civil governor, and later a minister to
Turkey. In view of his sympathetic interest in Eastern life and
character, nothing could have been more appropriate than his appointment
to Constantinople. The Sultan Abdul Hamid, harassed and anxious, used
to send for him at odd hours of the night to come and talk to him, and
offered him on his retirement a number of positions in the Turkish
government.

With all this rich experience of the larger world, he remained the
simplest of natures. He was as interested in a new fishing-tackle as in
a new book, and carried both to his houseboat on the Kankakee, where, at
odd moments, he retouched a manuscript for the press, and discussed
politics with the natives. Here was a man who could talk of the _Song of
Roland_ as zestfully as though it had just been reported from the
telegraph office.

I frankly confess that I never met him without a thrill, even in his
last years and when the ardor of my youthful hero worship may be said to
have passed. He was an exotic, our Hoosier Arab, our story-teller of the
bazaars. When I saw him in his last illness, it was as though I looked
upon a gray sheik about to fare forth unawed toward unmapped oases.

No lesson of the Civil War was more striking than that taught by the
swift transitions of our citizen soldiery from civil to military life,
and back again. This impressed me as a boy, and I used to wonder, as I
passed my heroes on their peaceful errands in the street, why they had
put down the sword when there must still be work somewhere for fighting
men to do. The judge of the federal court at this time was Walter Q.
Gresham, brevetted brigadier-general, who was destined later to adorn
the cabinets of presidents of two political parties. He was cordial and
magnetic; his were the handsomest and friendliest of brown eyes, and a
noble gravity spoke in them. Among the lawyers who practiced before him
were Benjamin Harrison and Thomas A. Hendricks, who became respectively
President and Vice-President.

Those Hoosiers who admired Gresham ardently were often less devotedly
attached to Harrison, who lacked Gresham's warmth and charm. General
Harrison was akin to the Covenanters who bore both Bible and sword into
battle. His eminence in the law was due to his deep learning in its
history and philosophy. Short of stature, and without grace of
person,--with a voice pitched rather high,--he was a remarkably
interesting and persuasive speaker. If I may so put it, his political
speeches were addressed as to a trial judge rather than to a jury, his
appeal being to reason and not to passion or prejudice. He could, in
rapid flights of campaigning, speak to many audiences in a day without
repeating himself. He was measured and urbane; his discourses abounded
in apt illustration; he was never dull. He never stooped to pietistic
clap-trap, or chanted the jaunty chauvinism that has so often caused the
Hoosier stars to blink.

Among the Democratic leaders of that period, Hendricks was one of the
ablest, and a man of many attractive qualities. His dignity was always
impressive, and his appearance suggested the statesman of an earlier
time. It is one of immortality's harsh ironies that a man who was a
gentleman, and who stood moreover pretty squarely for the policies that
it pleased him to defend, should be published to the world in a bronze
effigy in his own city as a bandy-legged and tottering tramp, in a frock
coat that never was on sea or land.

Joseph E. McDonald, a Senator in Congress, was held in affectionate
regard by a wide constituency. He was an independent and vigorous
character who never lost a certain raciness and tang. On my first timid
venture into the fabled East I rode with him in a day-coach from
Washington to New York on a slow train. At some point he saw a peddler
of fried oysters on a station platform, alighted to make a purchase, and
ate his luncheon quite democratically from the paper parcel in his car
seat. He convoyed me across the ferry, asked where I expected to stop,
and explained that he did not like the European plan; he liked, he said,
to have 'full swing at a bill of fare.'

I used often to look upon the towering form of Daniel W. Voorhees, whom
Sulgrove, an Indiana journalist with a gift for translating Macaulay
into Hoosierese, had named 'The Tall Sycamore of the Wabash.' In a
crowded hotel lobby I can still see him, cloaked and silk-hatted, the
centre of the throng, and my strict upbringing in the antagonistic
political faith did not diminish my admiration for his eloquence.

Such were some of the characters who came and went in the streets of our
provincial capital in those days.


III

In discussions under captions similar to mine it is often maintained
that railways, telegraphs, telephones, and newspapers are knitting us
together, so that soon we shall all be keyed to a metropolitan pitch.
The proof adduced in support of this is of the most trivial, but it
strikes me as wholly undesirable that we should all be ironed out and
conventionalized. In the matter of dress, for example, the women of our
town used to take their fashions from _Godey's_ and _Peterson's via_
Cincinnati; but now that we are only eighteen hours from New York, with
a well-traveled path from the Wabash to Paris, my counselors among the
elders declare that the tone of our society--if I may use so perilous a
word--has changed little from our good old black alpaca days. The hobble
skirt receives prompt consideration in the 'Main' street of any town,
and is viewed with frank curiosity, but it is only a one day's wonder. A
lively runaway or the barbaric yawp of a new street fakir may dethrone
it at any time.

New York and Boston tailors solicit custom among us biennially, but
nothing is so stubborn as our provincial distrust of fine raiment. I
looked with awe, in my boyhood, upon a pair of mammoth blue-jeans
trousers that were flung high from a flagstaff in the centre of
Indianapolis, in derision of a Democratic candidate for governor, James
D. Williams, who was addicted to the wearing of jeans. The Democrats
sagaciously accepted the challenge, made 'honest blue jeans' the
battle-cry, and defeated Benjamin Harrison, the 'kid-glove' candidate of
the Republicans. Harmless demagoguery this or bad judgment on the part
of the Republicans; and yet I dare say that if the sartorial issue
should again become acute in our politics the banner of bifurcated jeans
would triumph now as then. A Hoosier statesman who to-day occupies high
office once explained to me his refusal of sugar for his coffee by
remarking that he didn't like to waste sugar that way; he wanted to keep
it for his lettuce. I do not urge sugared lettuce as symbolizing our
higher provincialism, but mayonnaise may be poison to men who are
nevertheless competent to construe and administer law.

It is much more significant that we are all thinking about the same
things at the same time, than that Farnam Street, Omaha, and Fifth
Avenue, New York, should vibrate to the same shade of necktie. The
distribution of periodicals is so managed that California and Maine cut
the leaves of their magazines on the same day. Rural free delivery has
hitched the farmer's wagon to the telegraph office, and you can't buy
his wife's butter now until he has scanned the produce market in his
newspaper. This immediacy of contact does not alter the provincial point
of view. New York and Texas, Oregon and Florida, will continue to see
things at different angles, and it is for the good of all of us that
this is so. We have no national political, social, or intellectual
centre. There is no 'season' in New York, as in London, during which all
persons distinguished in any of these particulars meet on common ground.
Washington is our nearest approach to such a meeting-place, but it
offers only short vistas. We of the country visit Boston for the
symphony, or New York for the opera, or Washington to view the
government machine at work, but nowhere do interesting people
representative of all our ninety millions ever assemble under one roof.
All our capitals are, as Lowell put it, 'fractional,' and we shall
hardly have a centre while our country is so nearly a continent.

Nothing in our political system could be wiser than our dispersion into
provinces. Sweep from the map the lines that divide the states and we
should huddle like sheep suddenly deprived of the protection of known
walls and flung upon the open prairie. State lines and local pride are
in themselves a pledge of stability. The elasticity of our system makes
possible a variety of governmental experiments by which the whole
country profits. We should all rejoice that the parochial mind is so
open, so eager, so earnest, so tolerant. Even the most buckramed
conservative on the Eastern coastline, scornful of the political
follies of our far-lying provinces, must view with some interest the
dallyings of Oregon with the Referendum, and of Des Moines with the
Commission System. If Milwaukee wishes to try Socialism, the rest of us
need not complain. Democracy will cease to be democracy when all its
problems are solved and everybody votes the same ticket.

States that produce the most cranks are prodigal of the corn that pays
the dividends on the railroads the cranks despise. Indiana's amiable
feeling toward New York is not altered by her sister's rejection or
acceptance of the direct primary, a benevolent device of noblest
intention, under which, not long ago, in my own commonwealth, my fellow
citizens expressed their distrust of me with unmistakable emphasis. It
is no great matter, but in open convention also I have perished by the
sword. Nothing can thwart the chastening hand of a righteous people.

All passes; humor alone is the touchstone of democracy. I search the
newspapers daily for tidings of Kansas, and in the ways of Oklahoma I
find delight. The Emporia _Gazette_ is quite as patriotic as the
Springfield _Republican_ or the New York _Post_, and to my own taste,
far less depressing. I subscribed for a year to the Charleston _News and
Courier_, and was saddened by the tameness of its sentiments; for I
remember (it must have been in 1884) the shrinking horror with which I
saw daily in the Indiana Republican organ a quotation from Wade Hampton
to the effect that 'these are the same principles for which Lee and
Jackson fought four years on Virginia's soil.' Most of us are
entertained when Colonel Watterson rises to speak for Kentucky and
invokes the star-eyed goddess. When we call the roll of the states, if
Malvolio answer for any, let us suffer him in tolerance and rejoice in
his yellow stockings. 'God give them wisdom that have it; and those that
are fools, let them use their talents.'

Every community has its dissenters, protestants, kickers, cranks, the
more the merrier. I early formed a high resolve to strive for membership
in this execrated company. George W. Julian,--one of the noblest of
Hoosiers,--who had been the Free-Soil candidate for Vice-President in
1852, a delegate to the first Republican convention, five times a member
of Congress, a supporter of Greeley's candidacy, and a Democrat in the
consulship of Cleveland, was a familiar figure in our streets. In 1884 I
was dusting law-books in an office where mugwumpery flourished, and
where the iniquities of the tariff, Matthew Arnold's theological
opinions, and the writings of Darwin, Spencer, and Huxley were discussed
at intervals in the day's business.


IV

It is constantly complained that we Americans give too much time to
politics, but there could be no safer way of utilizing that extra drop
of vital fluid which Matthew Arnold found in us. Epithets of opprobrium
pinned to a Nebraskan in 1896 were riveted upon a citizen of New York in
1910, and who, then, was the gentleman? No doubt many voices will cry in
the wilderness before we reach the promised land. A people which has
been fed on the Bible is bound to hear the rumble of Pharaoh's chariots.
It is in the blood to feel the oppressor's wrong, the proud man's
contumely. The winter evenings are long on the prairies, and we must
always be fashioning a crown for Cæsar or rehearsing his funeral rites.
No great danger can ever seriously menace the nation so long as the
remotest citizen clings to his faith that he is a part of the
governmental mechanism and can at any time throw it out of adjustment if
it doesn't run to suit him. He can go into the court-house and see the
men he helped to place in office; or if they were chosen in spite of
him, he pays his taxes just the same and waits for another chance to
turn the rascals out.

Mr. Bryce wrote: 'This tendency to acquiescence and submission; this
sense of the insignificance of individual effort, this belief that the
affairs of men are swayed by large forces whose movement may be studied
but cannot be turned, I have ventured to call the Fatalism of the
Multitude.' It is, I should say, one of the most encouraging phenomena
of the score of years that have elapsed since Mr. Bryce's _American
Commonwealth_ appeared, that we have grown much less conscious of the
crushing weight of the mass. It has been with something of a child's
surprise in his ultimate successful manipulation of a toy whose
mechanism has baffled him that we have begun to realize that, after all,
the individual counts. The pressure of the mass will yet be felt, but in
spite of its persistence there are abundant signs that the individual is
asserting himself more and more, and even the undeniable acceptance of
collectivist ideas in many quarters helps to prove it. With all our
faults and defaults of understanding,--populism, free silver, Coxey's
army, and the rest of it,--we of the West have not done so badly. Be not
impatient with the young man Absalom; the mule knows his way to the oak
tree!

Blaine lost Indiana in 1884; Bryan failed thrice to carry it. The
campaign of 1910 in Indiana was remarkable for the stubbornness of
'silent' voters, who listened respectfully to the orators but left the
managers of both parties in the air as to their intentions. In the
Indiana Democratic State Convention of 1910 a gentleman was furiously
hissed for ten minutes amid a scene of wildest tumult; but the cause he
advocated won, and the ticket nominated in that memorable convention
succeeded in November. Within fifty years Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois
have sent to Washington seven presidents, elected for ten terms. Without
discussing the value of their public services it may be said that it has
been an important demonstration to our Mid-Western people of the
closeness of their ties with the nation, that so many men of their own
soil have been chosen to the seat of the presidents; and it is
creditable to Maine and California that they have cheerfully acquiesced.
In Lincoln the provincial American most nobly asserted himself, and any
discussion of the value of provincial life and character in our politics
may well begin and end in him. We have seen verily that

    Fishers and choppers and ploughmen
    Shall constitute a state.

Whitman, addressing Grant on his return from his world's tour, declared
that it was not that the hero had walked 'with kings with even pace the
round world's promenade';

  But that in foreign lands, in all thy walks with kings,
  Those prairie sovereigns of the West, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois,
  Ohio's, Indiana's millions, comrades, farmers, soldiers, all to the
    front,
  Invisibly with thee walking with kings with even pace the round
    world's promenade,
  Were all so justified.

What we miss and what we lack who live in the provinces seem to me of
little weight in the scale against our compensations. We slouch,--we are
deficient in the graces, we are prone to boast, and we lack in those
fine reticences that mark the cultivated citizen of the metropolis. We
like to talk, and we talk our problems out to a finish. Our
commonwealths rose in the ashes of the hunter's campfires, and we are
all a great neighborhood, united in a common understanding of what
democracy is, and animated by ideals of what we want it to be. That
saving humor which is a philosophy of life flourishes amid the tall
corn. We are old enough now--we of the West--to have built up in
ourselves a species of wisdom, founded upon experience, which is a part
of the continuing unwritten law of democracy. We are less likely these
days to 'wobble right' than we are to stand fast or march forward like
an army with banners.

We provincials are immensely curious. Art, music, literature,
politics--nothing that is of contemporaneous human interest is alien to
us. If these things don't come to us we go to them. We are more truly
representative of the American ideal than our metropolitan cousins,
because (here I lay my head upon the block) we know more about, oh, so
many things! We know vastly more about the United States, for one thing.
We know what New York is thinking before New York herself knows it,
because we visit the metropolis to find out. Sleeping-cars have no
terrors for us, and a man who has never been west of Philadelphia seems
to us a singularly benighted being. Those of our Western school-teachers
who don't see Europe for three hundred dollars every summer get at least
as far east as Concord, to be photographed by the rude bridge that
arched the flood.

That fine austerity, which the voluble Westerner finds so smothering on
the Boston and New York express, is lost utterly at Pittsburg. From
gentlemen cruising in day-coaches--rude wights who advertise their
personal sanitation and literacy by the toothbrush and fountain-pen
planted sturdily in their upper left-hand waistcoat pockets--one may
learn the most prodigious facts and the philosophy thereof. 'Sit over,
brother; there's hell to pay in the Balkans,' remarks the gentleman who
boarded the inter-urban at Peru or Connersville, and who would just as
lief discuss the papacy or child-labor, if revolutions are not to your
liking.

In Boston a lady once expressed her surprise that I should be hastening
home for Thanksgiving Day. This, she thought, was a New England
festival. More recently I was asked by a Bostonian if I had ever heard
of Paul Revere. Nothing is more delightful in us, I think, than our
meekness before instruction. We strive to please; all we ask is 'to be
shown.'

Our greatest gain is in leisure and the opportunity to ponder and brood.
In all these thousands of country towns live alert and shrewd students
of affairs. Where your New Yorker scans headlines as he 'commutes'
homeward, the villager reaches his own fireside without being shot
through a tube, and sits down and reads his newspaper thoroughly. When
he repairs to the drug-store to abuse or praise the powers that be, his
wife reads the paper, too. A United States Senator from a Middle
Western State, making a campaign for renomination preliminary to the
primaries, warned the people in rural communities against the newspaper
and periodical press with its scandals and heresies. 'Wait quietly by
your firesides, undisturbed by these false teachings,' he said in
effect; 'then go to your primaries and vote as you have always voted.'
His opponent won by thirty thousand,--the amiable answer of the little
red schoolhouse.


V

A few days ago I visited again my native town. On the slope where I
played as a child I listened in vain for the mourning bugle; but on the
college campus a bronze tablet commemorative of those sons of Wabash who
had fought in the mighty war quickened the old impressions. The college
buildings wear a look of age in the gathering dusk.

    Coldly, sadly descends
    The autumn evening. The field
    Strewn with its dank yellow drifts
    Of withered leaves, and the elms,
    Fade into dimness apace,
    Silent; hardly a shout
    From a few boys late at their play!

Brave airs of cityhood are apparent in the town, with its paved streets,
fine hall and library; and everywhere are wholesome life, comfort, and
peace. The train is soon hurrying through gray fields and dark
woodlands. Farmhouses are disclosed by glowing panes; lanterns flash
fitfully where farmers are making all fast for the night. The city is
reached as great factories are discharging their laborers, and I pass
from the station into a hurrying throng homeward bound. Against the sky
looms the dome of the capitol; the tall shaft of the soldiers' monument
rises ahead of me down the long street and vanishes starward. Here where
forests stood seventy-five years ago, in a state that has not yet
attained its centenary, is realized much that man has sought through all
the ages,--order, justice, and mercy, kindliness and good cheer. What we
lack we seek, and what we strive for we shall gain. And of such is the
kingdom of democracy.



Our Lady Poverty

By Agnes Repplier


I

The last people to read the literature of poverty are the poor, and this
fact may be cited as one of the ameliorations of their lot. If they were
assured day after day that they were degraded and enslaved, it would be
a trifle hard for them to cherish their respectability, and enjoy their
freedom. If their misery were dinned into their ears, they would
naturally cease being cheerful. If they were convinced that tears are
their portion, they would no longer have the temerity to laugh. Indeed
their mirth is frankly repellent to the dolorous writers of to-day.

    A burst of hollow laughter from a hopeless heart

is permitted as seemly and in character; even the poet of the slums
grants this outlet for emotion; but the rude sounds which denote
hilarity disturb the sympathetic soul. One agitated lady describes with
shrinking horror the merriment of the scrub-women going to their labor.
All the dignity, all the sacredness of womanhood are defiled by these
poor old creatures tramping through the chill dawn; and yet, and
yet,--oh, mockery of nobler aspirations!--'The scrub-women were going to
work, and they went laughing!'

The dismalness of serious writers, especially if humanity be their
theme, is steeping us in gloom. The obsession of sorrow seems the most
reasonable of all obsessions, because facts can be crowded upon facts
(to the general exclusion of truth) by way of argument and illustration.
And should facts fail, there are bitter generalizations which shroud us
like a pall.

    Behind all music we can hear
    The insistent note of hunger-fear;
    Beyond all beauty we can see
    The land's defenseless misery.

Mr. Percy MacKaye in his preface to that treatise on eugenics which he
has christened _To-Morrow_, and humorously designated as a play, makes
this inspiriting statement: 'Our world is hideously unhappy, and the
insufferable sense of that unhappiness is the consecration of modern
leaders in art. Realism is splendidly their incentive.'

This opens up a cheering vista for the public. If the dramatists of the
near future are to have no finer consecration than an insufferable sense
of unhappiness, we must turn for amusement to lectures and organ
recitals. If novelists and poets are to be hallowed by grief, there will
be nothing left for light-hearted readers save the study of political
economy, erstwhile called the dismal science,' but now, by comparison,
gay. No artist yet was ever born of an insufferable sense of
unhappiness. No leader and helper of men was ever bedewed with tears.
The world is old, and the world is wide. Of what use are we in its
tumultuous life, if we do not know its joys, its griefs, its high
emotions, its call to courage, and the echo of the laughter of the ages?

Perhaps the only literature of poverty (I use the word 'literature' in a
purely courteous sense) which was ever written for the poor is that
amazing issue of tracts, _Village Politics_, _Tales for the Common
People_, and scores of similar productions, which a hundred years ago
were let loose upon rural England. The moral in all of them is the same,
and is expressed with engaging simplicity: 'Don't give trouble to people
better off than yourself.' The fact that many of these tracts had a
prodigious sale points to their distribution--by the rich--in quarters
where it was thought that they would do most good. They were probably
read in the same spirit as that in which a Sunday-school library was
read by two small and unregenerate boys of my acquaintance, who worked
through whole shelves at a fixed rate, ten cents for a short book,
twenty-five cents for a long one,--the money paid by a pious
grandmother, and a point of honor not to skip.

The smug complacency of Hannah More and her sisterhood was rudely
disturbed by Ebenezer Elliott, who published his _Corn-Law Rhymer_,
with its profound pity and its somewhat impotent wrath, in 1831. England
woke up to the disturbing conviction that men and women were
starving,--always a disagreeable thing to contemplate,--and the Corn
Laws were repealed; but the 'Rhymes' were probably as little known to
the laborer of 1831 as was _Piers Plowman_ to the laborer of 1392.
Langland--to whom partial critics have for five hundred years ascribed
this great poem of discontent--was keenly alive to the value of
husbandry as a theme; and his ploughman came in time to be recognized as
the people's suffering representative; but the poet, after the fashion
of poets, wrote for 'lettered clerks,' of which class he was a shining
example, his praiseworthy purpose in life being to avoid 'common men's
work.' In the last century, _Les Misérables_ was called the 'Epic of the
Poor'; but its readers were, for the most part, as comfortably remote
from poverty as Victor Hugo himself, and as alive to the advantages of
wealth.

In this age of print, the literature of poverty has swollen to an
enormous bulk. Statistical books, explicit and contradictory. Hopeful
books by social workers who see salvation in girls' clubs and refined
dancing. Hopeless books by other social workers who believe--or, at
least, who say--that the employed are enslaved by the employer, and that
women and children are the prey of men. Highly colored books by
adventurous young journalists who have masqueraded (for copy's sake) as
mill and factory hands. Gray books by casual observers who are paralyzed
by the mere sight of a slum. Furious books by rabid socialists who hold
that the poor will never be uplifted while there is left in the world a
man rich enough to pay them wages. Imaginative books by poets and
novelists who deal in realism to the exclusion of reality. All this
profusion and confusion of matter is thrust upon us month after month,
while the working-man reads his newspaper, and the working-girl reads _A
Coronet of Shame_, or _Lost in Fate's Fearful Abyss_.

It was Mr. George Gissing who, in his studies of the poor, first made
popular the invective style; who hurled at London such epithets as
'pest-stricken,' 'city of the damned,' 'intimacies of abomination,'
'utmost limits of dread,'--phrases which have been faithfully copied by
shuddering defamers of New York and Chicago. Mr. John Burns, for
example, after a brief visit to the United States, said that Chicago was
a pocket edition of hell; and subsequently, without, we hope, any
personal experience to back him, said that hell was a pocket edition of
Chicago.

Americans have borrowed these flowers of speech from England, and have
invaded her territory. Was it because he could find no poverty at home
worthy of his strenuous pen, that Mr. Jack London crossed the sea to
write up the streets of Whitechapel and Spitalfields, already so
abundantly exploited by English authors? Was there anything _he_ could
add to the dark pictures of Mr. Gissing, or to the more convincing
studies of Mr. Arthur Morrison, who has lit up the gloom with a grim
humor, not very mirthful, but acutely and unimpeachably human? Mr.
Gissing's poor have money for nothing but beer (it would be a bold
writer who denied his starvelings beer); but Mr. Morrison sees his way
occasionally to bacon, and tea, and tinned beef, and even, at rare
intervals, to a pompous funeral, provided that the money for mutes can
be saved from the sick man's diet. He is the legitimate successor of
Dickens, and Dickens knew his field from experience rather than from
observation. The lighthouse-keeper sees the storm, but the cabin boy
feels it.

In the annals of poverty there are few pages more poignant than the one
which describes the sick child, Charles Dickens, taken home from work by
a kind-hearted lad, and his shame lest this boy should learn that 'home'
for him meant the debtors' prison. In vain he tried to get rid of his
conductor, Bob Fagin by name, protesting that he was well enough to walk
alone. Bob knew he was not, and stuck to his side. Together they pushed
along until little Charles was fainting with weakness and fatigue. Then
in desperation he pretended that he lived in a decent house near
Southwark bridge, and darted up the steps with a joyous air of being at
last in haven, only to creep down again when Bob's back was turned, and
drag his slow steps to the Marshalsea.

Out of this dismal and precocious experience sprang two results,--a
passionate resolve _not_ to be what circumstances were conspiring to
make him, and an insight into the uncalculating habits which deepen and
soften poverty. Dickens--once free of institutions--wrote of the poor,
even of the London poor, with amazing geniality; but it cannot be denied
that his infallible recipe for brightening up the scene is the timely
introduction of a pot of porter, or a pitcher of steaming flip. If we
try to think of him writing in a prohibition state, we shall realize
that he owed as much to beer and punch as ever Horace did to wine.
Imagination fails to grasp either of them in the rôle of a
water-drinker. The poor of Dickens are a sturdy lot, but they are jovial
only in their cups. His wholesome hatred of institutions would have been
intensified could he have lived to hear the Camberwell Board of
Guardians decide--at the instigation, alas! of a woman member--that the
single mug of beer which for years had solaced the inmates of Camberwell
Workhouse on Christmas Day, should hereafter be abolished as an immoral
indulgence. The generous ghost of Dickens must have groaned in Heaven
over that melancholy and mean reform.


II

'To achieve what man may, to bear what man must,'--since the struggle
for life began, this has been the purpose and the pride of humanity. We
Americans were trained from childhood to believe that while, in the
final issue, each of us must answer for himself, the country--our
country--gave to all scope for effort, and chance of victory.

This was not mere Fourth of July oratory, nor the fervent utterances of
presidential campaigns. It was a serious and a sober faith, based upon
some knowledge of the Constitution, some inheritance of experience, some
element of democracy which flavored our early lives. The mere sense of
space carried with it a profound and eager hopefulness. Those of us
whose fathers or whose grandfathers had crossed the sea to escape from
more cramping conditions, felt this atmosphere of independence keenly
and consciously. Those of us whose fathers or whose grandfathers brought
up their families in an alien land with decent industry and thrift, were
aware, even in childhood, that the Republic had fostered our growth.
Therefore am I pardonably bewildered when I hear American workmen called
'slaves' and 'prisoners of starvation,' and American employers called
'base oppressors,' and 'despots on their thrones.' This fantastic
nomenclature seems immeasurably removed from the temperate language in
which were formulated the temperate convictions of my youth.

The assumption that the American laborer to-day stands where the French
laborer stood before the Revolution, where the English laborer stood
before the passing of the first Reform Bill and the repeal of the Corn
Laws, shows a lack of historical perspective. The assumption that all
strikes represent an agonized protest against tyranny, an agonized
appeal from injustice, is a perversion of truth. The assumption that
child-labor in the United States is the blot upon civilization that it
was in England seventy years ago, denies the duty of comparison. If the
people who write verses about 'Labor Crucified' would make a table of
the wages paid to skilled and unskilled workmen, from the Chicago
carpenter to the Philadelphia street-cleaner, they might sing in a more
cheerful strain. If the people who to-day echo the bitterest lines of
Mrs. Browning's 'Cry of the Children' would ascertain and bear in mind
the proportion of little boys and girls who are going to school in the
United States, how many years they average, and how much the country
pays for their education, they might spare us some violent invectives.
Even Mr. Robert Hunter permits himself the use of the word 'cannibalism'
when speaking of child-workers, and this in the face of legislation
which every year extends its area, and grows more stringently
protective.

There is a great deal of loose writing on this important theme, and it
stands in the way of amendment. It is assumed that parents are seldom or
never to blame for sending their children to work. The mill-owner
snatches them from their mothers' arms. It is assumed that the child who
works would--if there were no employment for him--be at school, or at
play, happy, healthy, and well-nourished. No one even alludes to the
cruel poverty of the South, which, for generations before the cotton
mills were built, stunted the growth and sapped the strength of Southern
children. They lived, we are told, a 'wholesome rural life,' and the
greed of the capitalist is alone responsible for the blighting of their
pastoral paradise.

There is no need to write like this. The question at issue is a grave
and simple one. It makes its appeal to the conscience and the sense of
the nation, and every year sees some measure of reform. If a baby girl
in an American city, a child of three or five, is forced to toil all
day, winding artificial daisy stems at a penny a hundred, let the name
of her employer and the place of her employment be made public. The
Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children can deal peremptorily
with such a case. It is not even the privilege of parents to work a
little child so relentlessly. If the pathetic story is not supported by
facts, or is not in accord with facts, it is neither wise nor well to
publish it. Why should a sober periodical, like the _Child-Labor
Bulletin_, devoted to a good cause, print a poem called 'A Song of the
Factory,' in which happy children are portrayed as sporting in beautiful
meadows,

    Idling among the feathery blooms,

until a sort of ogre comes along, builds a factory, drives the poor
innocents into it, and compels them to

    Crouch all day by the spindles, wizened, and wan, and old,

earning 'his bread.' Apparently--and this is the gist of the
matter--they have no need to earn bread for themselves. The accompanying
illustrations show us on one page a prettily dressed little girl sitting
daisy-crowned in the fields, and, on the other page, a ragged and
tattered little girl with a shawl over her head going to the work which
has but too plainly impoverished her. Hansel and Gretel are not more
distinctly within the boundaries of fairyland than are these entrapped
children. The witch is not more distinctly a child-eating hobgoblin than
is the capitalist of such fervid song.

The sickly and unreasoning tone which pervades the literature of poverty
is demoralizing. There is nothing helpful in the assumption that effort
is vain, resistance hopeless, and the world monstrously cruel. The
dominating element of such prose and verse is a bleak despair, unmanly,
unwomanly, inhuman. Out of the abundance of material before me, I quote
a single poem, published in the New York _Call_, reprinted in the
_Survey_, and christened mockingly,--

              THE STRAIGHT ROAD

    They got y', kid, they got y', just like I said they would;
      You tried to walk the narrow path,
      You tried, and got an awful laugh;
    And laughs are all y' did get, kid, they got y' good!

    They never saw the little kid,--the kid I used to know,
      The little bare-legged girl back home,
      The little girl that played alone,
    They don't know half the things I know, kid; ain't it so?

    They got y', kid, they got y',--you know they got y' right;
      They waited till they saw y' limp,
      Then introduced y' to the pimp,
    Ah, you were down then, kid, and couldn't fight.

    I guess you know what some don't know, and others know damn well,
      That sweatshops don't grow angel's wings,
      That working girls is easy things,
    And poverty's the straightest road to hell.

And this is what our Lady Poverty, bride of Saint Francis, friend of all
holiness, counsel of all perfection, has come to mean in these years of
grace! She who was once the surest guide to Heaven now leads her chosen
ones to Hell. She who was once beloved by the devout and honored by the
just, is now a scandal and a shame, the friend of harlotry, the
instigator of crime. Even a true poet like Francis Thompson laments that
the poverty exalted by Christ should have been cast down from her high
caste.

            All men did admire
    Her modest looks, her ragged, sweet attire
    In which the ribboned shoe could not compete
    With her clear simple feet.
    But Satan, envying Thee thy one ewe-lamb,
    With Wealth, World's Beauty and Felicity
    Was not content, till last unthought-of she
    Was his to damn.
    Thine ingrate, ignorant lamb
    He won from Thee; kissed, spurned, and made of her
    This thing which qualms the air,
    Vile, terrible, old,
    Whereat the red blood of the Day runs cold.

These are the words of one to whom the London gutters were for years a
home, and whose strengthless manhood lay inert under a burden of pain he
had no courage to lift. Yet never was sufferer more shone upon by
kindness than was Francis Thompson; never was man better fitted to
testify to the goodness of a bad world. And he did bear such brave
testimony again and yet again, so that the bulk of his verse is alien to
pessimism,--'every stanza an act of faith, and a declaration of good
will.'

The demoralizing quality of such stuff as 'The Straight Road,' which is
forced upon us with increasing pertinacity, is its denial of kindness,
its evading of obligation. Temptation is not only the occasion, but the
justifier of sin,--a point of view which plays havoc with our common
standard of morality. When a vicious young millionaire like Harry Thaw
runs amuck through his crude and evil environment, we sigh and say, 'His
money ruined him.' When a poor young woman abandons her weary
frugalities for the questionable pleasures of prostitution, we sigh and
say, 'Her poverty drove her to it.' Where then does goodness dwell? What
part does honor play? The Sieur de Joinville, in his memoirs of Saint
Louis, tells us that a certain man, sore beset by the pressure of
temptation, sought counsel from the Bishop of Paris, 'whose Christian
name was William.' And this wise William of Paris said to him: 'The
castle of Montl'héry stands in the safe heart of France, and no invading
hosts assail it. But the castle of La Rochelle in Poitou stands on the
line of battle. Day and night it must be guarded from assault, and it
has suffered grievously. Which gentleman, think you, the King holds high
in favor, the governor of Montl'héry, or the governor of La Rochelle?
The post of danger is the post of glory, and he who is sorely wounded in
the combat is honored by God and man.'


III

There are those whose ardor for humanity finds a congenial vent in the
denouncement of all they see about them,--all the institutions of their
country, all the laborious processes of civilization. Sociologists of
this type speak and write of an ordinary American city in terms which
Dante might have envied. Nobody, it would seem, is ever cured in its
hospitals; they only lie on 'cots of pain.' Nobody is ever reformed in
its reformatories. Nobody is reared to decency in its asylums. Nobody
is--apparently--educated in its schools. Its industries are ravenous
beasts, sucking the blood of workers; its poor are 'shackled slaves';
its humble homes are 'dens.' I have heard a philanthropic lecturer talk
to the poor upon the housing of the poor. She threw on a screen enlarged
photographs of narrow streets and tenement rooms which looked to me
unspeakably dreary, but which the working-women around me gazed at in
mild perplexity, seeing nothing amiss, and wondering that their
residences should be held up to this unseemly scorn. They did not do as
did the angry Italians of a New Jersey town,--smash the invidious
pictures which shamed their homes; they sat in stolid silence and
discomfiture, dimly conscious of an unresented insult.

It is hard to grasp a point of view immeasurably remote from our own;
but what can we understand of other lives unless we do this difficult
thing? Old women in the out-wards of an almshouse (of all earthly abodes
the saddest) have boasted to me that their floors were scrubbed every
other day, and their sheets changed once a week; and this braggart humor
stunned my senses until I called to mind the floor and the bed of one of
them (an extraordinarily dirty old woman) whom I had known in other
years. Last winter the workers in a settlement house were called upon at
midnight to succor a woman who had been kicked and beaten into
unconsciousness by a drunken husband. The poor creature was all one
bleeding bruise. When she was revived, her dim eyes traveled over the
horrified faces about her. 'It's pretty bad,' she gasped, 'it's mighty
bad'; and then, with another look at the group of protecting, pitying
spinsters, 'but it must be something fierce to be an old maid.'

The city is a good friend to the poor. It gives them day nurseries for
their babies, kindergartens for their little children, schools for their
boys and girls, playgrounds, swimming-pools, recreation piers,
reading-rooms, libraries, churches, clubs, hospitals, cheap amusements,
open-air concerts, employment agencies, the companionship of their kind,
and the chance of a friend at need. In return, the poor love the city,
and cling to it with reasonable but somewhat stifling affection. They
know that the hardest thing in life is to be isolated,--'unrelated,' to
use Carlyle's apt word; and they escape this fate by eschewing the
much-lauded fields and farms. They know also that in the country they
must stand or fall by their own unaided efforts, they must learn the
hard lesson of self-reliance. Many of them propose to live, as did the
astute author of _Piers Plowman_, 'in the town, and on the town as
well.' Moreover, pleasure means as much to them as it does to the rest
of us. We hardly needed Mr. Chesterton to tell us that a visit to a
corner saloon may be just as exciting an event to a tenement-house
dweller, as a dinner at a gold-and-marble hotel is to the average
middle-class citizen; and that the tenement-house dweller may be just as
moderate in his potations:--

    Merrily taking twopenny rum, and cheese with a pocket knife.

Poverty, we are assured, is an 'error,' like ill-health and crime. It is
an anachronism in civilization, a stain upon a wisely governed land. But
into our country which, after a human fashion, is both wise and foolish,
pours the poverty of Europe. Hundreds of thousands of immigrants with
but a few dollars between them and want; with scant equipment, physical
or mental, for the struggle of life; with an inheritance of feebleness
from ill-nourished generations before them,--this is the problem which
the United States faces courageously, and solves as best she can. What
she cannot do is miraculously to convert poverty into plenty,--certainly
not before the next year doubles, and the third year trebles the
miracle-seeking multitude. She cannot properly house or profitably
employ a million of immigrants before the next million is clamoring at
her doors. Nor is she even given a fair chance to accomplish her giant
task. The demagogues who are employed in the congenial sport of railroad
baiting, and who are enjoying beyond measure the fun of chivying
business interests into dusty corners, are the ones to lift up their
voices in shrill appeal for the army of the unemployed. They refuse to
connect one phenomenon with the other. The notion that crippling
industries will benefit the industrious is not so new as it seems. Æsop
must have had a clear insight into its workings when he wrote the fable
of the goose that laid the golden egg.

The City of New York expends, according to a recent report of the
Hospital Investigating Committee, more than a million of dollars a year
for the care of sick, defective, and otherwise helpless aliens. It
expended in 1913 nearly four hundred thousand dollars for the care of
aliens who had been in this country less than five years. This is the
record of our greatest city, the one in which the astute immigrant takes
up his abode. The education she gives her little foreign-born children
comprises for the most part manual and vocational training, clinics for
the defective, schools for the incorrigible, free or cost-price lunches,
doctoring, dentistry, the care of trained nurses, and a score of similar
attentions unknown to an earlier generation, undreamed of in the
countries whence these children come. In return for such fostering care,
New York is held up to execration because she has the money to pay the
taxes which are expended in this fashion, because she lays the golden
egg which benefits the poor of twenty nations. Her unemployed
(reinforced hugely from less favored communities) riot in her streets
and churches, and agitators curse her for a thing of evil, a city of
palaces and slums, corroded with the

          Shame of lives that lie
    Couched in ease, while down the streets
          Pain and want go by.

The only people who take short views of life are the poor, the poor
whose daily wage is spent on their daily needs. Clerks and bookkeepers
and small tradesmen (toilers upon whose struggle for decency and
independence nobody ever wastes a word of sympathy) may fret over the
uncertainty of their future, the narrow margin which lies between them
and want. But the workman and his family have a courage of their own,
the courage of the soldier who does not spend the night before battle
calculating his chances of a gun-shot wound, or of a legless future. It
is exasperating to hear a teamster's wife cheerfully announce the coming
of her tenth baby; but the calmness with which she faces the situation
has in it something human and elemental. It is exasperating to see the
teamster risk illness and loss of work (he might at least pull off his
wet clothes when he gets home); but he tells you he has not gone to his
grave with a cold _yet_, and this careless confidence saves him as much
as it costs. I read recently an economist's sorrowful complaint that
families, in need of the necessities of life, go to moving-picture
shows; that women, with their husbands' scanty earnings in their hands,
take their children to these blithesome entertainments instead of buying
the Sunday dinner. It sounds like the citizens who buy motor cars
instead of paying off the mortgages on their homes, and it is an error
of judgment which the working man is little likely to condone; but that
the pleasure-seeking impulse--which social workers assign exclusively to
the spirit of youth--should mutiny in a matron's bones suggests
survivals of cheerfulness, high lights amid the gloom.

The deprecation of earthly anxiety taught by the Gospels, the precedence
given to the poor by the New Testament, the value placed upon voluntary
poverty by the Christian Church,--these things have for nineteen hundred
years helped in the moulding of men. There still remain some leaven of
courage, some savor of philosophy, some echoes of ancient wisdom (heard
oftenest from uneducated men), some laughter loud and careless as the
laughter of the Middle Ages, some slow sense of justice, not easy to
pervert. These qualities are perhaps as helpful as the 'divine
discontent' fostered by enthusiasts for sorrow, the cowardice bred by
insistence upon trouble and anxiety, the rancor engendered by invectives
against earth and heaven. No lot is bettered by having its hardships
emphasized. No man is helped by the drowning of his courage, the
destruction of his good-will, the paralyzing grip of

    Envy with squinting eyes,
    Sick of a strange disease, his neighbor's health.



Entertaining the Candidate

By Katharine Baker


Bag in hand, brother stops in for fifteen minutes, from campaigning, to
get some clean shirts. He says the candidate will be in town day after
to-morrow. Do we want him to come here, or shall he go to a hotel?

We want him, of course. But we deprecate the brevity of this notice.
Also the cook and chambermaid are new, and remarkably inexpert. Brother,
however, declines to feel any concern. His confidence in our power to
cope with emergencies is flattering if exasperating.

There is nothing in the markets at this time of year. Guests have a
malignant facility in choosing such times. We scour the country for
forty miles in search of green vegetables. We confide in the fishmonger,
who grieves sympathetically over the 'phone, because all crabs are now
cold-storage, and he'd be deceiving us if he said otherwise.

Still we are determined to have luncheon prepared in the house. Last
time the august judge dined with us we summoned a caterer from a hundred
miles away, and though the caterer's food was good, it was late. We
love promptness, and we are going to have it. Ladies knew all about
efficiency long before Mr. Frederick Taylor. Only they couldn't teach it
to servants, and he would find he couldn't either. But every mistress of
a house knows how to make short cuts, and is expert at 'record
production' in emergencies.

The casual brother says there will be one or two dozen people at
luncheon. He will telephone us fifteen minutes before they arrive. Yes,
really, that's the best he can do.

So we prepare for one or two dozen people, and they must sit down to
luncheon because men hate a buffet meal. We struggle with the problem,
how many chickens are required for twelve or twenty-four people? The
answer, however, is really obvious. Enough for twenty-four will be
enough for twelve.

Day after to-morrow arrives. The gardener comes in to lay hearth-fires
and carry tables. We get out china and silver. We make salad and rolls,
fruit-cup and cake. We guide the cook's faltering steps over the
critical moments of soup and chicken. We do the oysters in our own
particular way, which we fancy inimitable. We arrange bushels of flowers
in bowls, vases, and baskets, and set them on mantels, tables,
book-cases, everywhere that a flower can find a footing. The chauffeur
comes in proudly with the flower-holder from the limousine, and we fill
it in honor of the distinguished guest.

Then we go outside to see that the approach to the house is
satisfactory. The bland old gardener points to the ivy-covered wall, and
says with innocent joy, '---- it, ain't that ivory the prettiest thing
you ever saw in your life?' And we can't deny that the lawn looks well,
with ivy, and cosmos, and innumerable chrysanthemums.

The cook and chambermaid will have to help wait on the table. The
chambermaid, who is what the butler contemptuously calls 'an educated
nigger,' and so knows nothing useful, announces that she has no white
uniform. All she has is a cold in her head. We give her a blouse and
skirt, wondering why Providence doesn't eliminate the unfit.

We run upstairs to put on our costliest shoes and stockings, and our
most perishable gown. The leisurely brother gets us on the wire to say
that there will be twenty guests in ten minutes.

Descending, we reset the tables to seat twenty guests, light the
wood-fires, toss together twenty mint-juleps, and a few over for luck,
repeat our clear instructions to the goggling chambermaid, desperately
implore the butler to see that she keeps on the job, drop a last touch
of flavoring in the soup, and are sitting by the fire with an air of
childish gayety and carelessness when the train of motor-cars draws up
to the door.

Here is the judge, courteous and authoritative. Here is his assiduous
suite. The room fills with faces well known in every country that an
illustrated newspaper can penetrate. From the Golden Gate and the Rio
Grande, from New York and Alabama, these men have come together, intent
on wresting to themselves the control of the Western Hemisphere. Now
they are a sort of highly respectable guerillas. To-morrow, very likely,
they will be awe-inspiring magnates.

Theoretically we are impressed. Actually they have mannerisms, and some
of them wear spectacles. We reflect that the triumvirs very likely had
mannerisms, too, and Antony himself might have been glad to own
spectacles. We try to feel reverence for the high calling of these men.
We hope they'll like our luncheon.

The butler brings in the juleps and we maintain a detached look, as
though those juleps were just a happy thought of the butler himself, and
we were as much surprised as anybody. The judge won't have one, but most
everybody else will. The newspaper men look love and gratitude at the
butler.

That earnest youth is the judge's secretary. The huge, iron-gray man
expects to be a governor after November fifth, if dreams come true. The
amiable old gentleman who never leaves the judge's side, has come two
thousand miles out of pure political enthusiasm, to protect the
candidate from assassins. He can do it, too, we conclude, when we look
past his smiling mouth into his steely eyes.

Here is the campaign manager, business man and man-of-the-world.

This pretty little newspaper-woman from Utah implores us to get an
utterance on suffrage from the judge. Just a word. It will save him
thousands of votes. Well, she's a dear little thing, but we can't take
advantage of our guest.

Luncheon is announced. Brother, slightly apologetic, murmurs that there
are twenty-three. Entirely unforeseen. He babbles incoherently.

But it's all right. We women won't come to the table. Voting and eating
and things like that are better left to the men anyway. Why should women
want to do either, when they have fathers and brothers to do it for
them? We can sit in the gallery and watch. It's very nice for us. And
exclusive. Nothing promiscuous. Yes, go on. We'll wait.

Whoever is listening to our conversation professes heartbreak at our
decision, and edges toward the rapidly filling dining-room.

We sit down to play lady of leisure, in various affected attitudes. We
are not going near the kitchen again. The luncheon is simple. Everything
is perfectly arranged. The servants can do it all. It's mere machine
work.

From afar we observe the soup vanishing. Then one by one we
stammer,--'The mayonnaise--'--'I wonder if the rolls are hot--'--'Cook's
coffee is impossible,'--fade silently up the front stair, and scurry
down the kitchen-way.

We cover the perishable gown with a huge white apron, we send up a
fervent prayer for the costly shoes, and go where we are needed most.

We save the day for good coffee. With the precision of a juggler we
rescue plates from the chambermaid, who is overcome by this introduction
to the great world and dawdles contemplatively through the pantry door.
Charmed with our proficiency, she stands by our side, and watches us
clear a shelf of china in the twinkling of an eye. If she could find a
stool, she would sit at our feet, making motion studies. But she
couldn't find it if it were already there. She couldn't find anything.
We order her back to the dining-room, where she takes up a strategic
position by the window, from which she can idly survey the mob outside,
and the hungry men within.

The last coffee-cup has passed through the doorway. Cigars and matches
are circulating in the butler's capable hands. No more need for us.

We shed the enveloping aprons, disappear from the kitchen, and
materialize again, elegantly useless, in the drawing-room. Nobody can
say that luncheon wasn't hot and promptly served.

Chairs begin to clatter. They are rising from the table. A brass band
outside bursts into being.

Brother had foretold that band to us, and we had expressed vivid
doubts. He said it would cost eighty dollars. Now eighty dollars in
itself is a respectable sum, a sum capable even of exerting some mild
fascination, but eighty dollars viewed in relation to a band becomes
merely ludicrous.

We said an eighty-dollar band was a thing innately impossible, like
free-trade, or a dachshund. Brother attested that the next best grade of
band would demand eight hundred. We justly caviled at eight hundred. We
inquired, Why any band? Brother claimed that it would make a cheerful
noise, and we yielded.

So at this moment the band begins to make a noise. We perceive at once
that the price was accurately gauged. It is unquestionably an
eighty-dollar band. We begin to believe in dachshunds.

To these supposedly cheerful strains the gentlemen stream into the
drawing-room. They beam repletely. They tell us what a fine luncheon it
was. They are eloquent about it. All the conditions of their
entertainment were ideal, they would have us believe. They imply that we
are mighty lucky, in that our men can provide us with such a luxurious
existence. They smile with majestic benignity at these fair, but
frivolous pensioners on masculine bounty. American women are petted,
helpless dolls, anyway. Foreigners have said so. They clasp our useless
hands in fervent farewells. They proceed in state to the waiting cars.
They hope we will follow them to the meeting. Oh, yes, we will come,
though incapable of apprehending the high problems of government.

Led by the honest band, surrounded by flags, followed by cheers, they
disappear in magnificent procession. Now we may straggle to the
dining-room and eat cold though matchless oysters, tepid chicken, and in
general whatever there is any left of.

The chambermaid has broken a lovely old Minton plate. We are glad we
didn't use the coffee-cups that were made in France for Dolly Madison.
She would have enjoyed wrecking those.

We hurry, because we don't want to miss the meeting altogether. We think
enviously of the men. In our secret souls, we'd like to campaign. We
love to talk better than anything else in the world, and we could make
nice speeches, too. But we must do the oysters and the odd jobs, and
keep the hearth-fires going, like responsible vestal virgins. It's
woman's sphere. Man gave it to her because he didn't want it himself.



The Street

By Simeon Strunsky


It is two short blocks from my office near Park Row to the Subway
station where I take the express for Belshazzar Court. Eight months in
the year it is my endeavor to traverse this distance as quickly as I
can. This is done by cutting diagonally across the street traffic. By
virtue of the law governing right-angled triangles I thus save as much
as fifty feet and one fifth of a minute of time. In the course of a year
this saving amounts to sixty minutes, which may be profitably spent over
a two-reel presentation of 'The Moonshiner's Bride,' supplemented by an
intimate picture of Lumbering in Saskatchewan. But with the coming of
warm weather my habits change. It grows more difficult to plunge into
the murk of the Subway.

A foretaste of the languor of June is in the air. The turnstile
storm-doors in our office building, which have been put aside for brief
periods during the first deceptive approaches of spring, only to come
back triumphant from Elba, have been definitively removed. The
steel-workers pace their girders twenty floors high almost in
mid-season form, and their pneumatic hammers scold and chatter through
the sultry hours. The soda-fountains are bright with new compounds whose
names ingeniously reflect the world's progress from day to day in
politics, science, and the arts. From my window I can see the long black
steamships pushing down to the sea, and they raise vague speculations in
my mind about the cost of living in the vicinity of Sorrento and
Fontainebleau. On such a day I am reminded of my physician's orders,
issued last December, to walk a mile every afternoon on leaving my
office. So I stroll up Broadway with the intention of taking my train
farther up-town, at Fourteenth Street.

The doctor did not say stroll. He said a brisk walk with head erect,
chest thrown out, diaphragm well contracted, and a general aspect of
money in the bank. But here enters human perversity. The only place
where I am in the mood to walk after the prescribed military fashion is
in the open country. Just where by all accounts I ought to be sauntering
without heed to time, studying the lovely texts which Nature has set
down in the modest type-forms selected from her inexhaustible fonts,--in
the minion of ripening berries, in the nonpareil of crawling insect
life, the agate of tendril and filament, and the 12-point diamond of the
dust,--there I stride along and see little.

And in the city, where I should swing along briskly, I lounge. What is
there on Broadway to linger over? On Broadway, Nature has used her
biggest, fattest type-forms. Tall, flat, building fronts, brazen with
many windows and ribbed with commercial gilt lettering six feet high;
shrieking proclamations of auction sales written in letters of fire on
vast canvasses; railway posters in scarlet and blue and green; rotatory
barber-poles striving at the national colors and producing vertigo;
banners, escutcheons, crests, in all the primary colors--surely none of
these things needs poring over. And I know them with my eyes closed. I
know the windows where lithe youths in gymnasium dress demonstrate the
virtue of home exercises; the windows where other young men do nothing
but put on and take off patent reversible near-linen collars; where
young women deftly roll cigarettes; where other young women whittle at
sticks with miraculously stropped razors. I know these things by heart,
yet I linger over them in flagrantly unhygienic attitudes, my shoulders
bent forward and my chest and diaphragm in a position precisely the
reverse of that prescribed by the doctor.

Perhaps the thing that makes me linger before these familiar sights is
the odd circumstance that in Broadway's shop-windows Nature is almost
never herself, but is either supernatural or artificial. Nature, for
instance, never intended that razors should cut wood and remain sharp;
that linen collars should keep on getting cleaner the longer they are
worn; that glass should not break; that ink should not stain; that
gauze should not tear; that an object worth five dollars should sell for
$1.39; but all these things happen in Broadway windows. Williams, whom I
meet now and then, who sometimes turns and walks up with me to
Fourteenth Street, pointed out to me the other day how strange a thing
it was that the one street which has become a synonym for 'real life' to
all good suburban Americans is not real at all, but is crowded either
with miracles or with imitations.

The windows on Broadway glow with wax fruits and with flowers of muslin
and taffeta drawn by bounteous Nature from her storehouses in Parisian
garret workshops. Broadway's ostrich feathers have been plucked in East
Side tenements. The huge cigars in the tobacconist's windows are of
wood. The enormous bottles of champagne in the saloons are of cardboard,
and empty. The tall scaffoldings of proprietary medicine bottles in the
drug shops are of paper. 'Why,' said Williams, 'even the jewelry sold in
the Japanese auction stores is not genuine, and the sellers are not
Japanese.'

This bustling mart of commerce, as the generation after the Civil War
used to say, is only a world of illusion. Artificial flowers, artificial
fruits, artificial limbs, tobacco, rubber, silks, woolens, straws, gold,
silver. The young men and women who manipulate razors and elastic cords
are real, but not always. Williams and I once stood for a long while
and gazed at a young woman posing in a drug-shop window, and argued
whether she was alive. Ultimately she winked and Williams gloated over
me. But how do I know her wink was real? At any rate the great mass of
human life in the windows is artificial. The ladies who smile out of
charming morning costumes are obviously of lining and plaster. Their
smug Herculean husbands in pajamas preserve their equanimity in the
severest winter weather only because of their wire-and-plaster
constitution. The baby reposing in its beribboned crib is china and
excelsior. Illusion everywhere.

But the Broadway crowd is real. You only have to buffet it for five
minutes to feel, in eyes and arms and shoulders, how real it is. When I
was a boy and was taken to the circus it was always an amazing thing to
me that there should be so many people in the street moving in a
direction away from the circus. Something of this sensation still besets
me whenever we go down in the Subway from Belshazzar Court to hear
Caruso. The presence of all the other people on our train is simple
enough. They are all on their way to hear Caruso. But what of the crowds
in the trains that flash by in the opposite direction? It is not a
question of feeling sorry for them. I try to understand and I fail. But
on Broadway on a late summer afternoon the obverse is true. The natural
thing is that the living tide as it presses south shall beat me back,
halt me, eddy around me. I know that there are people moving north with
me, but I am not acutely aware of them. This onrush of faces converges
on me alone. It is I against half the world.

And then suddenly out of the surge of faces one leaps out at me. It is
Williams, whose doctor has told him that the surest way of fighting down
the lust for tobacco is to walk down from his office to the ferry every
afternoon. Williams and I salute each other after the fashion of
Broadway, which is to exchange greetings backward over the shoulder.
This is the first step in an elaborate minuet. Because we have passed
each other before recognition came, our hands fly out backward. Now we
whirl half around, so that I who have been moving north face the west,
while Williams, who has been traveling south, now looks east. Our
clasped hands strain at each other as we stand there poised for flight
after the first greeting. A quarter of a minute perhaps, and we have
said good-bye.

But if the critical quarter of a minute passes, there ensues a change of
geographical position which corresponds to a change of soul within us. I
suddenly say to myself that there are plenty of trains to be had at
Fourteenth Street. Williams recalls that another boat will leave Battery
Place shortly after the one he is bound for. So the tension of our
outstretched arms relaxes. I, who have been facing west, complete the
half circle and swing south. Williams veers due north, and we two men
stand face to face. The beat and clamor of the crowd fall away from us
like a well-trained stage mob. We are in Broadway, but not of it.

'Well, what's the good word?' says Williams.

When two men meet on Broadway the spirit of optimism strikes fire. We
begin by asking each other what the good word is. We take it for granted
that neither of us has anything but a chronicle of victory and courage
to relate. What other word but the good word is tolerable in the lexicon
of living, upstanding men? Failure is only for the dead. Surrender is
for the man with yellow in his nature. So Williams and I pay our
acknowledgments to this best of possible worlds. I give Williams the
good word. I make no allusion to the fact that I have spent a miserable
night in communion with neuralgia; how can that possibly concern him?
Another manuscript came back this morning from an editor who regretted
that his is the most unintelligent body of readers in the country. The
third cook in three weeks left us last night after making vigorous
reflections on my wife's good nature and my own appearance. Only an hour
ago, as I was watching the long, black steamers bound for Sorrento and
Fontainebleau, the monotony of one's treadmill work, the flat
unprofitableness of scribbling endlessly on sheets of paper, had become
almost a nausea. But Williams will know nothing of this from me. Why
should he? He may have been sitting up all night with a sick child. At
this very moment the thought of the little parched lips, the moan, the
unseeing eyes, may be tearing at his entrails; but he in turn gives me
the good word, and many others after that, and we pass on.

But sometimes I doubt. This splendid optimism of people on Broadway, in
the Subway and in the shops and offices--is it really a sign of high
spiritual courage, or is it just lack of sensibility? Do we find it easy
to keep a stiff upper lip, to buck up, to never say die, because we are
brave men, or simply because we lack the sensitiveness and the
imagination to react to pain? It may be even worse than that. It may be
part of our commercial gift for window-dressing, for putting up a good
front.

Sometimes I feel that Williams has no right to be walking down Broadway
on business when there is a stricken child at home. The world cannot
possibly need him at that moment as much as his own flesh and blood
does. It is not courage; it is brutish indifference. At such times I am
tempted to dismiss as mythical all this fine talk about feelings that
run deep beneath the surface, and bruised hearts that ache under the
smile. If a man really suffers he will show it. If a man cultivates the
habit of not showing emotion he will end by having none to show. How
much of Broadway's optimism is--But here I am paraphrasing William
James's _Principles of Psychology_, which the reader can just as well
consult for himself in the latest revised edition of 1907.

Also, I am exaggerating. Most likely Williams's children are all in
perfect health, and my envelope from the editor has brought a check
instead of a rejection slip. It is on such occasions that Williams and
I, after shaking hands the way a locomotive takes on water on the run,
wheel around, halt, and proceed to buy something at the rate of two for
a quarter. If any one is ever inclined to doubt the spirit of American
fraternity, it is only necessary to recall the number of commodities for
men that sell two for twenty-five cents. In theory, the two cigars which
Williams and I buy for twenty-five cents are worth fifteen cents apiece.
As a matter of fact they are probably ten-cent cigars. But the
shopkeeper is welcome to his extra nickel. It is a small price to pay
for the seal of comradeship that stamps his pair of cigars selling for a
single quarter. Two men who have concluded a business deal in which each
has commendably tried to get the better of the other may call for
twenty-five cent perfectos or for half-dollar Dreadnoughts. I understand
there are such. But friends sitting down together will always demand
cigars that go for a round sum, two for a quarter or three for fifty (if
the editor's check is what it ought to be).

When people speak of the want of real comradeship among women, I
sometimes wonder if one of the reasons may not be that the prices which
women are accustomed to pay are individualistic instead of fraternal.
The soda fountains and the street cars do not dispense goods at the rate
of two items for a single coin. It is infinitely worse in the department
stores. Treating a friend to something that costs $2.79 is
inconceivable. But I have really wandered from my point.

'Well, be good,' says Williams, and rushes off to catch his boat.

The point I wish to make is that on Broadway people pay tribute to the
principle of goodness that rules this world, both in the way they greet
and in the way they part. We salute by asking each other what the good
word is. When we say good-bye we enjoin each other to be good. The
humorous assumption is that gay devils like Williams and me need to be
constantly warned against straying off into the primrose paths that run
out of Broadway.

Simple, humorous, average American man! You have left your suburban
couch in time to walk half a mile to the station and catch the 7.59 for
the city. You have read your morning paper; discussed the weather, the
tariff, and the prospects for lettuce with your neighbor; and made the
office only a minute late. You have been fastened to your desk from nine
o'clock to five, with half an hour for lunch, which you have eaten in a
clamorous, overheated restaurant while you watched your hat and coat. At
odd moments during the day the thought of doctor's bills, rent bills,
school bills, has insisted on receiving attention. At the end of the
day, laden with parcels from the market, from the hardware store, from
the seedman, you are bound for the ferry to catch the 5.43, when you
meet Smith, who, having passed the good word, sends you on your way with
the injunction to be good--not to play roulette, not to open wine, not
to turkey-trot, not to joy-ride, not to haunt the stage door. Be good, O
simple, humorous, average suburban American!

I take back that word suburban. The Sunday Supplement has given it a
meaning which is not mine. I am speaking only of the suburban in spirit,
of a simplicity, a meekness which is of the soul only. Outwardly there
is nothing suburban about the crowd on lower Broadway. The man in the
street is not at all the diminutive, apologetic creature with side
whiskers whom Mr. F. B. Opper brought forth and named Common People, who
begat the Strap-Hanger, who begat the Rent-Payer and the Ultimate
Consumer. The crowd on lower Broadway is alert and well set up. Yes,
though one hates to do it, I must say 'clean-cut.' The men on the
sidewalk are young, limber, sharp-faced, almost insolent young men.
There are not very many old men in the crowd, though I see any number of
gray-haired young men. Seldom do you detect the traditional signs of
age, the sagging lines of the face, the relaxed abdominal contour, the
tamed spirit. The young, the young-old, the old-young, but rarely quite
the old.

I am speaking only of externals. Clean-cut, eager faces are very
frequently disappointing. A very ordinary mind may be working behind
that clear sweep of brow and nose and chin. I have known the shock of
young men who look like kings of Wall Street and speak like shoe clerks.
They are shoe clerks. But the appearance is there, that athletic
carriage which is helped out by our triumphant, ready-made clothing. I
suppose I ought to detest the tailor's tricks which iron out all ages
and all stations into a uniformity of padded shoulders and trim
waist-lines and hips. I imagine I ought to despise our habit of wearing
elegant shoddy where the European chooses honest, clumsy woolens. But I
am concerned only with externals, and in outward appearances a Broadway
crowd beats the world. Æsthetically we simply are in a class by
ourselves when compared with the Englishman and the Teuton in their
skimpy, ill-cut garments. Let the British and German ambassadors at
Washington do their worst. This is my firm belief and I will maintain it
against the world. The truth must out. _Ruat cœlum. Ich kann nicht
anders. J'y suis, j'y reste._

Williams laughs at my lyrical outbursts. But I am not yet through. I
still have to speak of the women in the crowd. What an infinitely finer
thing is a woman than a man of her class! To see this for yourself you
have only to walk up Broadway until the southward-bearing stream breaks
off and the tide begins to run from west to east. You have passed out of
the commercial district into the region of factories. It is well on
toward dark, and the barracks that go by the unlovely name of loft
buildings, are pouring out their battalions of needle-workers. The crowd
has become a mass. The nervous pace of lower Broadway slackens to the
steady, patient tramp of a host. It is an army of women, with here and
there a flying detachment of the male.

On the faces of the men the day's toil has written its record even as on
the women, but in a much coarser hand. Fatigue has beaten down the soul
of these men into brutish indifference, but in the women it has drawn
fine the flesh only to make it more eloquent of the soul. Instead of
listlessness, there is wistfulness. Instead of vacuity you read mystery.
Innate grace rises above the vulgarity of the dress. Cheap, tawdry
blouse and imitation willow-plume walk shoulder to shoulder with the
shoddy coat of the male, copying Fifth Avenue as fifty cents may attain
to five dollars. But the men's shoddy is merely a horror, whereas woman
transfigures and subtilizes the cheap material. The spirit of grace
which is the birthright of her sex cannot be killed--not even by the
presence of her best young man in Sunday clothes. She is finer by the
heritage of her sex, and America has accentuated her title. This
America which drains her youthful vigor with overwork, which takes from
her cheeks the color she has brought from her Slavic or Italian peasant
home, makes restitution by remoulding her in more delicate, more
alluring lines, gives her the high privilege of charm--and neurosis.

Williams and I pause at the Subway entrances and watch the earth suck in
the crowd. It lets itself be swallowed up with meek good-nature. Our
amazing good-nature! Political philosophers have deplored the fact. They
have urged us to be quicker-tempered, more resentful of being stepped
upon, more inclined to write letters to the editor. I agree that only in
that way can we be rid of political bosses, of brutal policemen, of
ticket-speculators, of taxi-cab extortioners, of insolent waiters, of
janitors, of indecent congestion in travel, of unheated cars in the
winter and barred-up windows in summer. I am at heart with the social
philosophers. But then I am not typical of the crowd. When my neighbor's
elbow injects itself into the small of my back, I twist around and
glower at him. I forget that his elbow is the innocent mechanical result
of a whole series of elbows and backs extending the length of the car,
to where the first cause operates in the form of a station-guard's
shoulder ramming the human cattle into their stalls. In the faces about
me there is no resentment. Instead of smashing windows, instead of
raising barricades in the Subway and hanging the train-guards with
their own lanterns about their necks, the crowd sways and bends to the
lurching of the train, and young voices call out cheerfully, 'Plenty of
room ahead.'

Horribly good-natured! We have taken a phrase which is the badge of our
shame and turned it into a jest. Plenty of room ahead! If this were a
squat, ill-formed proletarian race obviously predestined to subjection,
one might understand. But that a crowd of trim, well-cut, self-reliant
Americans, sharp-featured, alert, insolent as I have called them, that
they should submit is a puzzle. Perhaps it is because of the fierce
democracy of it all. The crush, the enforced intimacies of physical
contact, the feeling that a man's natural condition is to push and be
pushed, to shove ahead when the opportunity offers and to take it like a
man when no chance presents itself--that is equality. A seat in the
Subway is like the prizes of life for which men have fought in these
United States. You struggle, you win or lose. If the other man wins
there is no envy; admiration rather, provided he has not shouldered and
elbowed out of reason. That god-like freedom from envy is passing
to-day, and perhaps the good-nature of the crowd in the Subway will
pass. I see signs of the approaching change. People do not call out,
'Plenty of room ahead,' so frequently as they used to.

Good-natured when dangling from the strap in the Subway, good-natured
in front of baseball bulletins on Park Row, good-natured in the face of
so much oppression and injustice, where is the supposed cruelty of the
'mob'? I am ready to affirm on oath that the mob is not vindictive, that
it is not cruel. It may be a bit sharp-tongued, fickle, a bit
mischievous, but in the heart of the crowd there is no evil passion. The
evil comes from the leaders, the demagogues, the professional distorters
of right thinking and right feeling. The crowd in the bleachers is not
the clamorous, brute mob of tradition. I have watched faces in the
bleachers and in the grand-stand and seen little of that fury which is
supposed to animate the fan. For the most part he sits there with folded
arms, thin-lipped, eager, but after all conscious that there are other
things in life besides baseball. No, it is the leaders, the baseball
editors, the cartoonists, the humorists, the professional stimulators of
'local pride,' with their exaggerated gloatings over a game won, their
poisonous attacks upon a losing team, who are responsible. It is these
demagogues who drill the crowd in the gospel of loving only a
winner--but if I keep on I shall be in politics before I know it.

If you see in the homeward crowd in the Subway a face over which the
pall of depression has settled, that face very likely is bent over the
comic pictures in the evening paper. I cannot recall seeing any one
smile over these long serials of humorous adventure which run from day
to day and from year to year. I have seen readers turn mechanically to
these lurid comics and pore over them, foreheads puckered into a frown,
lips unconsciously spelling out the long legends which issue in the form
of little balloons and lozenges from that amazing portrait gallery of
dwarfs, giants, shrilling viragos and their diminutive husbands,
devil-children, quadrupeds, insects,--an entire zoölogy. If any stimulus
rises from these pages to the puzzled brain, the effect is not visible.
I imagine that by dint of repetition through the years these grotesque
creations have become a reality to millions of readers. It is no longer
a question of humor, it is a vice. The Desperate Desmonds, the
Newly-weds, and the Dingbats, have acquired a horrible fascination.
Otherwise I cannot see why readers of the funny page should appear to be
memorizing pages from Euclid.

This by way of anticipation. What the doctor has said of exercise being
a habit which grows easy with time is true. It is the first five minutes
of walking that are wearisome. I find myself strolling past Fourteenth
Street, where I was to take my train for Belshazzar Court. Never mind,
Forty-Second Street will do as well. I am now on a different Broadway.
The crowd is no longer north and south, but flows in every direction. It
is churned up at every corner and spreads itself across the squares and
open places. Its appearance has changed. It is no longer a factory
population. Women still predominate, but they are the women of the
professions and trades which centre about Madison Square--business women
of independent standing, women from the magazine offices, the publishing
houses, the insurance offices. You detect the bachelor girl in the
current which sets in toward the home quarters of the undomesticated,
the little Bohemias, the foreign eating-places whose fixed _table
d'hôte_ prices flash out in illumined signs from the side streets. Still
farther north and the crowd becomes tinged with the current of that
Broadway which the outside world knows best. The idlers begin to mingle
with the workers, men in English clothes with canes, women with plumes
and jeweled reticules. You catch the first heart-beat of Little Old New
York.

The first stirrings of this gayer Broadway die down as quickly almost as
they manifested themselves. The idlers and those who minister to them
have heard the call of the dinner hour and have vanished, into hotel
doors, into shabbier quarters by no means in keeping with the cut of
their garments and their apparent indifference to useful employment.
Soon the street is almost empty. It is not a beautiful Broadway in this
garish interval between the last of the matinée and shopping crowd and
the vanguard of the night crowd. The monster electric sign-boards have
not begun to gleam and flash and revolve and confound the eye and the
senses. At night the electric Niagara hides the squalid fronts of ugly
brick, the dark doorways, the clutter of fire-escapes, the rickety
wooden hoardings. Not an imperial street this Broadway at 6.30 of a
summer's afternoon. Cheap jewelry shops, cheap tobacconist's shops,
cheap haberdasheries, cheap restaurants, grimy little newspaper agencies
and ticket-offices, and 'demonstration' stores for patent foods, patent
waters, patent razors.

O Gay White Way, you are far from gay in the fast-fading light, before
the magic hand of Edison wipes the wrinkles from your face and
galvanizes you into hectic vitality; far from alluring with your tinsel
shop windows, with your puffy-faced, unshaven men leaning against
door-posts and chewing pessimistic toothpicks, your sharp-eyed newsboys
wise with the wisdom of the Tenderloin, and your itinerant women whose
eyes wander from side to side. It is not in this guise that you draw the
hearts of millions to yourself, O dingy, Gay White Way, O Via Lobsteria
Dolorosa!

Well, when a man begins to moralize it is time to go home. I have walked
farther than I intended, and I am soft from lack of exercise, and tired.
The romance of the crowd has disappeared. Romance cannot survive that
short passage of Longacre Square, where the art of the theatre and of
the picture-postcard flourish in an atmosphere impregnated with
gasolene. As I glance into the windows of the automobile salesrooms and
catch my own reflection in the enamel of Babylonian limousines I find
myself thinking all at once of the children at home. They expand and
fill up the horizon. Broadway disappears. I smile into the face of a
painted promenader, but how is she to know that it is not at her I smile
but at the sudden recollection of what the baby said at the
breakfast-table that morning? Like all good New Yorkers when they enter
the Subway, I proceed to choke up all my senses against contact with the
external world, and thus resolving myself into a state of coma, I dip
down into the bowels of the earth, whence in due time I am spewed out
two short blocks from Belshazzar Court.



Fashions in Men

By Katharine Fullerton Gerould


Never, I fancy, has it been more true than it is to-day, that fiction
reflects life. The best fiction has always given us a kind of
precipitate of human nature--_Don Quixote_ and _Tom Jones_ are equally
'true' and true, in a sense, for all time; but our modern books give us
every quirk and turn of the popular ideal, and fifty years hence, if
read at all, may be too 'quaint' for words. And to any one who has been
reading fiction for the last twenty years, it is cryingly obvious that
fashions in human nature have changed.

My first novel was _Jane Eyre_; and at the age of eight, I fell
desperately in love with Fairfax Rochester. No instance could serve
better to point the distance we have come. I was not an extraordinary
little girl (except that, perhaps, I was extraordinarily fortunate in
being permitted to encounter the classics in infancy), and I dare say
that if I had not met Mr. Rochester, I should have succumbed to some
imaginary gentleman of a quite different stamp. It may be that I should
have fallen in love--had time and chance permitted--with 'V. V.' or The
Beloved Vagabond. But I doubt it. In the first place, novels no longer
assume that it is the prime business of the female heart (at whatever
age) to surrender itself completely to some man. Consequently, the men
in the novels of to-day are not calculated, as they once were, to hit
the fluttering mark. The emotions are the last redoubt to be taken, as
modern tactics direct the assault.

People are always telling us that fashions in women have changed: what
seems to me almost more interesting is that fashions in men (the stable
sex) have changed to match. The new woman (by which I mean the very
newest) would not fall in love with Mr. Rochester. It is therefore 'up
to' the novelists to create heroes whom the modern heroine will fall in
love with. This, to the popular satisfaction, they have done. And not
only in fiction have the men changed; in life, too, the men of to-day
are quite different. I know, because my friends marry them.

It is immensely interesting, this difference. One by one, the man has
sloughed off his most masculine (as we knew them) characteristics. Gone
are Mr. Rochester, who fought the duel with the vicomte at dawn, and
Burgo Fitzgerald (the only love of that incomparable woman, Lady
Glencora Palliser), who breakfasted on curaçao and pâté de foie gras. No
longer does Blanche Ingram declare, 'An English hero of the road would
be the next best thing to an Italian bandit, and that could only be
surpassed by a Levantine pirate.' Blanche Ingram wants--and gets--the
Humanitarian Hero; some one who has particular respect for convicts and
fallen women, and whose favorite author is Tolstoï. He must qualify for
the possession of her hand by long, voluntary residence in the slums; he
may inherit ancestral acres only if he has, concerning them, socialistic
intentions. He must be too altruistic to kill grouse, and if he is to be
wholly up-to-date, he must refuse to eat them. He must never order
'pistols and coffee': his only permitted weapon is benevolent
legislation.

I do not mean that he is to be a milk-sop--'muscular Christianity' has
at least taught us that it is well for the hero to be in the pink of
condition, as he may any day have a street fight on his hands. And he
should have the tongue of men and of angels. Gone is the inarticulate
Guardsman--gone forever. The modern hero has read books that Burgo
Fitzgerald and Guy Livingstone and Mr. Rochester never heard of. He is
ready to address any gathering, and to argue with any antagonist, until
dawn. He is, preferably, personally unconscious of sex until the heroine
arrives; but he is by no means effeminate. He is a very complicated and
interesting creature. Some mediæval traits are discernible in him; but
the eighteenth century would not have known him for human.

What has he lost, this hero, and what has he gained? How did it all
begin? In life, doubtless, it began with a feminine change of taste.
Brilliant plumage has ceased to allure; and, I suspect, the peacock's
tail, as much as the anthropoid ape's, is destined to elimination. We
women of to-day are distrustful of the peacock's tail. We are mortally
afraid of being misled by it, and of discovering, too late, that the
peacock's soul is not quite the thing. Never has there been among the
feminine young more scientific talk about sex, and never among the
feminine young such a scientific distrust of it. Before a young woman
suspects that she wants to marry a young man, she has probably discussed
with him, exhaustively, the penal code, white slavery, eugenics, and
race-suicide. The miracle--the everlasting miracle of Nature--is that
she should want, in these circumstances, to marry him at all. She
probably does not, unless his views have been wholly to her
satisfaction. And with those views, what has the perpetual glory of the
peacock's tail to do?

So much for life. In our English fiction, I am inclined to believe that
George Eliot began it with Daniel Deronda. But, in our own day, Meredith
did more. Up to the time of Meredith, the dominant male was the
fashionable hero. Tom Jones, and Sir Charles Grandison, and Fairfax
Rochester, and 'Stunning' Warrington are as different as possible; but
all of them, in their several ways, keep up one male tradition in
fiction. It is within our own day that that tradition has entirely
changed. Have you ever noticed how inveterately, in Meredith's novels,
the schoolmaster or his spiritual kinsman comes out on top? Lord Ormont
cannot stand against Matey Weyburn, Lord Fleetwood against Owain Wythan,
Sir Willoughby Patterne against Vernon Whitford. The little girl who
fell in love with Mr. Rochester would have preferred any one of these
gentlemen (yes, even Sir Willoughby!) to his rival; but I dare say the
event would have proved her wrong. Certainly the wisdom of the ladies'
choice was never doubtful to Meredith himself. The soldier and the
aristocrat cannot endure the test they are put to by the sympathetic
male with a penchant for the enfranchised woman. Vain for Lord Ormont to
accede to Aminta's taste for publicity; vain for Lord Fleetwood to
become the humble wooer of Carinthia Jane: each has previously been
convicted of pride.

Now, in an earlier day, no woman would have looked at a man who was not
proud--who was not, even, a little too proud. Pride, by which Lucifer
fell, was the chief hall-mark of the gentleman. Moreover, in that
earlier day, women did not expect their heroes to explain everything to
them: a certain amount of reticence, a measure of silence, was also one
of the hallmarks of the gentleman. If a bit of mystery could be thrown
in, so much the better. It gave her something to exercise her
imagination on. Think of the Byronic males--Conrad, Lara, and the rest!
If they had told all, where would they have been? Think of Lovelace and
Heathcote and Darcy and Brian de Bois Guilbert!

Heroes, once, were always disdaining to speak, and spurning their foes.
Nowadays, no hero disdains to speak, and no hero ventures to spurn
anyone--least of all, his foes. He is humble of heart and very
loquacious. Mrs. Humphry Ward has inherited from George Eliot; and the
latest heroes of Mr. Galsworthy and Mr. Hewlett, for example, are the
children of Vernon Whitford, Matey Weyburn, and Owain Wythan (of whom it
is not explicitly written that they had any others). They are
humanitarian and democratic; they are ignorant of hatred; they are
inclined to think the ill-born necessarily better than the well-born;
and they are quite sure that women are superior to men. True, Mr.
Galsworthy always seems to be looking backward; he never forgets the
ancient tradition that he is combating. His young aristocrats who eschew
the ways of aristocracy are unhappy, and virtue in their case is 'its
only reward.' Perhaps that is why his novels always leave us with the
medicinal taste of inconclusion in our mouths. But take a handful of
heroes elsewhere: the Reverend John Hodder, the ex-convict,'Daniel
Smith,' 'V. V.', or even Coryston, the Socialist peer. Where, in the lot
of them do you find either pride or reticence in the old sense? Where,
in any one of them, do you find the Satanic charm? Which one would
Harriet Byron, or Jane Eyre, or Catherine Earnshaw, or Elizabeth
Bennett, have looked at with eyes of love?

The 'Satanic charm.' The phrase is out. Milton, I suspect, is
responsible for the tradition that has lasted so long, and is now being
broken utterly to pieces. Milton made Satan delightful, and our good
Protestant novelists for a long time followed his lead, in that they
gave their delightful men some of the Satanic traits. Proud they were
and scornfully silent, as we have recalled; and conventional to the last
degree. 'Conventional,' that is, in the stricter sense; by which it is
not meant that as portraits they were unconvincing, or that, as men,
they never offended Mrs. Grundy. They were conventional in that they
followed a convention; in that they were, to a large extent, predicable.
They were jealous of their honor, and believed it vindicable by the
duel; they had no doubt that good women were better than bad, and that
pedigree in human beings was as important as pedigree in animals; and
though they might be quixotic on occasion, they were not democratic
_pour deux sous_. The barmaid was not their sister, nor the stevedore
their brother. (The Satan of _Paradise Lost_, as we all remember, was a
splendid snob.)

Moreover, they were sophisticated--and not merely out of books. The
Faust idea, having prevailed for many centuries, has at last been
abandoned--and perhaps, our sober sense may tell us, rightly; but not so
long ago there was still something more repellent to the female
imagination about the man who chose not to know than about the man who
chose not to abstain. I do not mean that we were supposed always to be
looking for a Tom Jones or a Roderick Random--we might be looking for a
Sir Charles Grandison, no less; but at least, when we found our hero, we
expected to find him wiser than we. Nowadays, a girl rather likes to
give a man points--and often (in fiction, at least) has to. Meredith
railed against the 'veiled virginal doll' as heroine. Well: our heroines
now are never veiled virginal dolls; but sometimes our heroes are.
Lancelot has gone out, and Galahad has come in. I suspect that there is
a literary law of compensation, and that, Ibsen and Strindberg to the
contrary notwithstanding, there has to be a veiled virginal doll
somewhere in a really taking romance. Perhaps it is fair that the
sterner sex should have its turn at guarding ideals by the hearthstone,
while women make the grand tour.

Let me not be misunderstood. I am not referring particularly to that
knowledge which any man is better without, but to the Odyssean
experience which, in their respective measures, heroes were wont to have
behind them:--

    And saw the cities, and the counsels knew
          . . . . . . . .
    Of many men, and many a time at sea
    Within his heart he bore calamity.

They had at least seen the towns and the minds of men, and their morals
were the less likely to be upset by a conventional assault upon them.
Does any one chance to remember, I wonder, Theron Ware, led to his
'damnation' by his first experience of a Chopin nocturne? It would have
taken more than a Chopin nocturne to make any of our seasoned heroes do
something that he did not wish to. They knew something of society, and
_ergo_ of women; they had experienced, directly or vicariously, human
romance; and they had read history. Nowadays, they are apt to know
little or nothing--to begin with--of society, women, or romance, except
what may be got from brand-new books on sociology; and they pride
themselves on knowing no history. History, with its eternal stresses and
selections, is nothing if not aristocratic, and our heroes nowadays must
be democratic or they die. It is an age of complete faith in the
superiority of the lower classes--the swing of the pendulum, no doubt,
from the other extreme of thinking the lower classes morally and
æsthetically negligible. 'Privilege' is as detestable now in matters of
intellect and breeding as in matters of finance and politics. The man
with the muck-rake has got past the office into the drawing-room. If
your hero has the bad luck not to have been born in the slums, he must
at least have the wit to take up his habitation there as soon as he
comes of age. We have learned that riches are corrupting, but (except in
the special sense of vice-commission reports) we have not yet learned
that poverty is rather more corrupting than wealth.

Sophistication, whether social, intellectual, or æsthetic, is now the
deadly sin. If we are sophisticated, we may not be good enough for Ellis
Island. And there goes another of the hallmarks of the gentleman as he
was once known to fiction. Our hero in old days might not have
condescended to the glittering assemblies of fashion, but there was
never any doubt that, if he had, he would, in spite of himself, have
been king of his company as soon as he entered the room. He might have
been hard up, but his necktie would not have been 'a black sea holding
for life a school of fat white fish.' He might have been lonely or
gloomy, but he would not have been diffident, and he would never, never,
_never_ have 'blinked' at the heroine. 'My godlike friend had carelessly
put his hair-brush into the butter' says Asticot, at the outset, of the
Beloved Vagabond. Now in picaresque novels, we were always meeting
people who did that sort of thing; but they were not gentlemen. Whereas,
the Beloved Vagabond is of noble birth, and despite his ten years'
abeyance, finds the countess quite ready to marry him. She does not
marry him in the end, to be sure, but we are permitted to feel that
there was something lacking in her because Paragot's manners at tea did
not please her.

The hero of old had what used to be called 'a sense of fitness,' and a
saving sense of humor, which combined to prevent his entering a ballroom
as John the Baptist. The same lucky combination would have prevented
him--in literature, at least--from wooing the millionaire's child with
dusty commonplaces of the Higher Criticism or jeremiads against the
daughters of Heth. But perhaps millionaires' children to-day take that
sort of thing for manners. To the argument that a performance of the
kind takes courage, one can only reply that, judging from the enthusiasm
with which the preaching hero is received by the heroine, it apparently
does not. And in any case, the hero is too sublimely ignorant of what
socially constitutes courage to deserve any credit for it.

Sometimes, of course, like Mr. Galsworthy's men, he perceives, with some
inherited sense, that his kind of thing is not likely to be welcomed;
and then he goes sadly and sternly away, leaving the girl to accept a
wooer with more technique. But usually he cuts out everybody. For the
chief hall-mark of a gentleman, now, is the desire to reform his own
class out of all recognition.

Women, as we know, have long wanted to be talked to as if they were men;
and the result is that heroines now let themselves be lectured at in a
way that very few men would endure. Alison Parr marries the Rev. John
Hodder, and Carlisle Heth would have married V. V. if he had lived.
Well: Clara Middleton married Vernon Whitford, and Carinthia Jane
married Owain Wythan, and Aminta married Matey Weyburn.

I may have seemed to be speaking cynically. That, I can give my word of
honor, I am not. It is well that we have come to realize that there are
some adventures which, in themselves, add no lustre to a man's name. It
is well that we take thought for the lower strata of humanity--though
our actual reforms, I fancy, show their authors as taking thought not
for to-morrow but for to-day. Certainly brutality, or the indifference
which is negative brutality, is not a beautiful or a moral thing; and
certainly we do not particularly sympathize with Thackeray shedding
tears as he went away from his publishers because they had obliged him
to save Pendennis's chastity. That dreadful person, Arthur Pendennis,
would surely not have been made any less dreadful by being permitted to
seduce Fanny Bolton.

It is right to think of the poor; it is right to bend our energies, as
citizens, to the economic bettering of their lot. No one could sanely
regret our doing so. But there is always danger in saying the thing
which is not, and in pretending that because some virtues have hitherto
not been recognized, the virtues that have been recognized are no good.
One sympathizes with Towneley (in that incomparable novel _The Way of
All Flesh_) when Ernest asks him,--

'"Don't you like poor people very much yourself?"

'Towneley gave his face a comical but good-natured screw and said
quietly, but slowly and decidedly, "No, no, no," and escaped.

'Of course, some poor people were very nice, and always would be so, but
as though scales had fallen suddenly from his eyes he saw that no one
was nicer for being poor, and that between the upper and lower classes
there was a gulf which amounted practically to an impassable barrier.'

It is a great pity that Samuel Butler did not live longer and write more
novels. But in regretting him, we shall do well to remember that though
publication was delayed until some time after the author's death, the
bulk of _The Way of All Flesh_ was written in the '70's. _The Way of All
Flesh_ is not sympathetic to the contemporary mood; it is one of those
books so much ahead of its time (except perhaps in ecclesiastical
matters) that the time has not yet caught up with it. It was doomed
inevitably to an interval of oblivion. The case reminds one of _Richard
Feverel_.

Only in one way is _The Way of All Flesh_ quite contemporary. The hero
thinks so well of the prostitute that he marries her. On the other hand,
to be sure, he bitterly regrets it, which is not contemporary. I do not
mean that the hero's marrying her is especially in the literary
fashion, but his thinking well of her is. You will notice that in our
moral fever we do not leave the prostitute out of our novels--no,
indeed: she must be there to give spice, as of old. Only now, instead of
being entangled with her, the young gentleman preaches to her; and she
loves him for it. Perhaps this is what happens nowadays in real life. I
do not pretend to know; but I suspect it is true, for I fancy the only
kind of person who could invent the contemporary plot is the kind who
would live it. The wildest imaginings of the people who are made
differently would hardly stretch to it. And not only does the hero find
himself immensely touched by the tragedy of the disreputable
woman,--which is, after all, in certain cases plausible enough,--he
burns to introduce his fiancée to her. Now that, again, may be
life,--Mr. Winston Churchill, for example, should know better than
I,--but it is certainly a world with the sense of values gone wrong. And
when we have lost our sense of values, we shall presently lose the
values as well. The girl herself is often to blame: did not the fiancée
of Simon de Gex go of her own initiative to see the animal-tamer, and
come away to renounce him, convinced that the animal-tamer was the
nobler woman? Which, emphatically, she was not. But then, as we know
from long experience of Mr. Locke, he cannot keep his head with
circus-people about; and sawdust is incense to him. Let Mr. Locke have
his little foibles by all means; but even Mr. Locke should not have
made the spoiled darling of society marry the animal-tamer (one side of
her face having been nearly clawed off) and _then_ go with her into city
missionary work. Yet I do not believe it is really Mr. Locke's fault.
The public at present loves as a sister the woman with a past; and loves
city missionary work, if possible, more.

The fact is that with all our imitation of Meredith--and every one who
is not imitating Tolstoï is imitating Meredith--he has failed to save
us. We have taken all his prescriptions blindly--except one. We have
emancipated our women and emasculated our men; we have cast down the
mighty from their seats and exalted them of low degree; we have learned
all the Radical shibboleths and say them for our morning prayers; and we
have faced the fact of sex so squarely that we can hardly see anything
else. But we have not learned his saving hatred of the sentimentalist.
Miss May Sinclair has admirably pointed out in her study of the _Three
Brontës_ that Charlotte Brontë was exceedingly modern in her detestation
of sentimentality. Modern she may have been--with Meredith; but not
modern with the present novelists, for they are almost too sentimental
to be endured. And there is the whole trouble. We think Thackeray an old
fool for being sentimental over Amelia Sedley; but how does it better
the case to be sentimental, instead, over the heroine of _The Promised
Land_? Amelia Sedley was all in all a much nicer person, if not half so
clever. She may have sniveled a good deal, but she was capable of loving
some one else better than herself.

Of course, I have cited only a few instances--those that happened to
come most easily to mind. But let any reader of fiction run over
mentally a group of contemporary heroes, and see if the substitutions I
have named have not pretty generally taken place. Has not pride given
way to humility, reticence to glibness, class-consciousness to a wild
democracy, the code of manners to an uncouth unworldliness, and honor in
the old sense to a burning passion for reform--'any old' reform? Do not
these men lead us into the heterogeneous company of the unclassed of
both sexes--and ask us to look upon them as saints in motley? Has not
the world of fiction changed in the last twenty years? The hero in old
days sometimes fell foul of the law by getting into debt. But we were
not supposed, therefore, to be on his side against the law. Now, the
hero does not, perhaps, get into legal difficulties himself, but he is
always passionately on the side of the people whom laws were devised to
protect the respectable from. The scientific tendency to consider that
aristocracy consists merely in freedom from certain physical taints has
permeated fiction. 'Is not one man as good as another?' asked the
demagogue. 'Of course he is, and a great deal better!' replied the
excited Irishman in the crowd. We are in the thick of a popular mania
for thinking all the undesirables 'a good deal better.' The modern hero
is, to my mind, in intention, if not in execution, an admirable figure;
and though one rather expects him any day to give his whole fortune for
a gross of green spectacles, one will not, for that, find him any less
likable. Some day he will rediscover the Dantesque hierarchy of souls
implicit in humanity. And then, perhaps, he will get back his charm.

Some one is probably bursting to observe that we have a school of
realists at hand; and that no one can accuse Mr. Wells and Mr. Bennett
of sentimentality--also that we have Mr. Shaw and Mr. Granville Barker
and Mr. Masefield as mounted auxiliaries in the field. I grant Mr.
Bennett; I am not so sure about Mr. Wells. But certainly Mr. Wells is
not sentimental as Mr. William de Morgan, Mr. Winston Churchill, Mr.
Meredith Nicholson, Mr. Theodore Dreiser, Mr. H. S. Harrison, and Miss
Ellen Glasgow are sentimental. If he is sentimental at all, it is rather
over ideas than people. (Mr. Masefield, I am inclined to think, is
simply catering to the special audience that Thomas Hardy, by his
silence, has left gaping and empty.) Let us look into the matter a
little. 'Sentimental' is one of the most difficult catchwords in the
world to define; and you can get a roomful of intelligent people
quarreling over it any time. Perhaps, for our purposes, it will serve
merely to say that the sentimentalist is always, in one way or another,
disloyal to facts. He cannot be trusted to give a straight account,
because his own sense of things is more valuable to him than the truth.
He has come in on the top of the pragmatic wave, and the sands of
Anglo-Saxondom are strewn thick with him. He serves, in Kipling's
phrase, the God of Things as They Ought to Be (according to his private
feeling). His own perversion may be æsthetic, or intellectual, or moral,
or sociological, but he is always recognizable by his tampering with
truth.

Now, Mr. Wells does tamper with truth. He did it, for example, in the
case of Ann Veronica. He wanted Ann Veronica to be a nice girl under
twenty, and he wanted her, even more, to be unduly awakened to certain
physical aspects of sex. It was sentimentality that made him draw her as
he did: determination to prove that the girl who loved as he wanted her
to love was just as conventional as any one else. You cannot have your
cake and eat it too; but the sentimentalist blindly refuses to accept
that. Accordingly, we get the unconvincing creature that Mr. Wells
wanted to believe existed. Mr. Wells's heroes may not seem to bear out
my argument so well as Mr. Galsworthy's. To be sure, Mr. Wells is not so
sentimental as Mr. Galsworthy, and he has not, like the author of _The
Man of Property_, and _Fraternity_, and _Justice_, one--just one--fixed
idea. Mr. Galsworthy always deals with a man who is in love with some
other man's wife; and his world is thereby narrowed. Mr. Wells is
interested in a good many things, and his politics are not purely
philanthropic as most of our novelists' politics are. But Mr. Wells's
heroes, even when they are fairly fortunate, are preoccupied with their
own notions of sociological duty, even more than they are preoccupied
with passion, though their passion is 'special' enough when it comes.
Would any one except a Wells hero take a trip to India and come away
having seen nothing but the sweat-shops of Bombay? Always the author's
sympathy is with the under dog; whether it is Kipps or Mr. Polly living
out his long foredoomed existence, or George Ponderevo analyzing
Bladesover with diabolic keenness and aching contempt. 'I'm a spiritual
guttersnipe in love with unimaginable goddesses,' says Ponderevo in a
burst of frankness. There you have the Wells hero to the life. And Mr.
Bennett's people are only spiritual guttersnipes who are _not_ in love
with unimaginable goddesses.

The point is that the guttersnipe is having his turn in fiction: if our
American heroes are not guttersnipes themselves, it is their sign of
grace to be supremely interested in guttersnipes. In one way or the
other, the guttersnipe must have his proper prominence. Of course, there
are differences and degrees: a few heroes get no nearer the lower
classes than a passionate desire for reform tickets and municipal
sanitation. But ordinarily they must go through Ernest Pontifex's state
of believing that poor people are not only more important, but in every
way nicer than rich people; and few of them go back utterly on that
belief, as Ernest did. Perhaps that, more than anything else, marks the
change of fashion in men. For gentlemen were always, in their way,
benevolent; but formerly they had not achieved the paradox that the
object of benevolence is _ex officio_ more interesting than the
bestower.

Books have been written before now in the interest of reform. They tell
us that _Justice_ set the Home Secretary to thinking. Well: Marcus
Clarke actually caused the reform of the Australian penal settlements by
his now forgotten novel, _For the Term of His Natural Life_. The hero of
Marcus Clarke's book was innocent and unjustly condemned; the hero of
_Justice_ is guilty. Wanton cruelty is wicked whether the victim be a
bad man or a good one; but the difference between these two heroes is
not so purely accidental as, at first blush, it may seem. The author of
_His Natural Life_ starting out to capture sympathy, showed the brutal
system wreaking itself on an innocent man, of good family, condemned for
another's guilt. Mr. Galsworthy, equally eager to capture sympathy,
makes his protagonist guilty of the theft, having tried in vain to
incriminate an innocent person. Each writer depended, doubtless, on
public sentiment for his effect. In Marcus Clarke's time, public
sentiment--however unfortunate the fact may be--simply could not have
been aroused to such a pitch by the sufferings of a liar and a thief as
by the sufferings of an innocent man who is consciously paying another
person's penalty. The Humanitarian Hero had not come into fashion--nor
yet the guttersnipe. But Marcus Clarke's book did its work--proof that
even in the '50's we were not so callous as we seemed.

I said earlier that in life, as well as in literature, men had changed.
One's instances, obviously, must be from books, and not from one's
acquaintance; but I spoke truth. Philanthropy is the latest social
ladder, but it would not be so if the people on the top rung were not
interested in philanthropy. There has been, for whatever reason, a
tremendous spurt of interest in sociological questions. Our hard-headed
young men, of high ideals, find themselves fighting, of necessity, on a
different battlefield from any that strategists would have chosen thirty
years ago. Moreover, philanthropy being woman's way into politics, women
have been giving their calm, or hysterical, attention to problems which,
thirty years since, did not, as problems, exist for them. I said that
the change of taste in women would probably account for much of the
change of fashion in men. A schoolmate of mine, writing me some years
since of her engagement, said (in nearly these words), 'He is
tremendously interested in city missionary work; it wouldn't have been
quite perfect if we hadn't had that in common.' Both were spoiled
darlings of fortune, but the statement was quite sincere. Undoubtedly,
without that, it would not have been 'quite perfect' in the eyes of
either.

The mere conversation of the marriageable young has changed past belief.
'Social service' has usurped so many subjects! Have many people stopped
to realize, I wonder, how completely the psychological novel and the
'problem' play (in the old sense) have gone out of date? The psychology
of hero and heroine, their emotional attitudes to each other, are
largely worked out now in terms of their attitudes to impersonal
questions, their religious or their sociological 'principles.' The
individual personal reaction counts less and less. If they agree on the
same panacea for the social evils, the author can usually patch up a
passion sufficient for them to marry on. Gone, for the most part, are
the pages of intimate analysis. No intimate analysis is needed any
longer. As for the 'problem play,' we have it still with us, but in
another form. _The Doll's House_ and _The Second Mrs. Tanqueray_ are
both antiquated: we do not call a drama a problem play now unless it
preaches a new kind of legislation. And as for sex,--in its finer
aspects it no longer interests us.

There was a great deal more sex, in its subtler manifestations, in the
old novels and plays, than in the new ones. Not so long ago, a novel was
a love story; and it was of supreme importance to a hero whether or not
he could make the heroine care for him. It was also of supreme
importance to the heroine. The romance was all founded on sex; and yet
sex was hardly mentioned. Our heroes and heroines still marry; but when
they consider sex at all, they are apt to consider it biologically, not
romantically. We, as a public, are more frankly interested in sex than
ever; but we think of it objectively, and a little brutally, in terms of
demand and supply. And so we get often the pathetic spectacle of the
hero and heroine having no time to make love to each other in the good
old-fashioned way, because they are so busy suppressing the red-light
district and compiling statistics of disease. Much of the frankness,
doubtless, is a good thing; but beyond a doubt, it has cheapened
passion. For passion among civilized people is a subtle thing: it is
wrapped about with dreams and imaginings; and can bring human beings to
salvation as well as to perdition. But when it is shown to us as the
mere province of courtesans, small wonder that we turn from it to the
hero who will have difficulty in feeling or inspiring it. Especially
since we are told, at the same time, that even the courtesan plies her
trade only from direst necessity.

After all, the only safe person to fall in love with nowadays _is_ a
reformer: socially, financially, and sentimentally. And most women, at
least, could (if they would) say with the Princesse Mathilde, 'Je n'aime
que les romans dont je voudrais être l'héroïne.' Certainly, unless for
some special reason, no novel of which one would not like to be the
heroine--in love with the hero--will reach the hundred thousand mark. If
there are any of us left who regret the gentlemen of old--who still
prefer our Darcy or even our Plantagenet Palliser--we must write our own
novels, and divine our own heroes under the protective coloring of their
conventional breeding. For they are not being 'featured,' at present,
either in life or in literature.



A Confession in Prose

By Walter Prichard Eaton


Unlike M. Jourdain, who had been speaking prose all his life without
knowing it, I have been writing it nearly all of mine, quite
consciously, and earning my living thereby since I was twenty-one years
old. I am now thirty-four. I have been a professional writer of prose,
then, for thirteen years--or shall I say a writer of professional prose?
Much of this writing has been done for various American magazines; still
more has been done to fill the ravenous columns of American newspapers;
some, even, has been immured between covers. I have tried never to write
sloppily, though I have of necessity often written hastily. I can
honestly say, too, that I have tried at times to write beautifully, by
which I mean rhythmically, with a conscious adjustment of sound and
melody to the sense, with the charm of word-chiming further to heighten
heightened thought. But I can also as honestly say that in this latter
effort I have never been encouraged by a newspaper editor, and I have
been not infrequently discouraged by magazine editors. Not all
magazines compel you to chop up your prose into a maximum paragraph
length of ten lines, as does a certain one of large circulation. Not all
newspapers compel you to be 'smart,' as did one for which I worked
compel us all. But the impression among editors is prevalent, none the
less, that a conversational downrightness and sentence and paragraph
brevity are the be-all and end-all of prose style, or at least of so
much of prose style as can be grasped by the populace who read their
publications; and that beautiful writing must be 'fine writing,' and
therefore never too much to be avoided. So I started out from the
classroom of Professor Lewis E. Gates, one of the keenest and most
inspiring analysts of prose beauties this country has produced, to be a
professional writer of prose, and dreamed, as youth will, of wrapping my
singing robes about me and ravishing the world. I was soon enough told
to doff my singing robes for the overalls of journalism, and I have
become a writer of professional prose instead.

These remarks have been inspired by a long and wistful evening just
spent in perusing Professor Saintsbury's new book, called _The History
of English Prose Rhythm_. I shall hold no brief for the good professor's
method of scansion. It matters little to me, indeed, how he chooses to
scan prose. What does matter to me is that he has chosen to scan it at
all, that he has brought forward the finest examples in the stately
procession of English literature, and demonstrated with all the weight
of his learning, his authority, his fine enthusiasm, that this prose is
no less consciously wrought to pleasing numbers than is verse. We who
studied under Professor Gates knew much of this before, if not in so
detailed and would-be methodical a fashion. Charles Lamb knew it when he
wrote, 'Even ourself, in these our humbler lucubrations, tune our best
measured cadences (prose has her cadences) not unfrequently to the charm
of the drowsier watchman, "blessing the doors"; or the wild sweep of
winds at midnight.' Sir Thomas Browne was not exactly unaware of it as
he prepared his _Urn Burial_ for the printer; nor the authors of the
King James Version of the Bible when they translated--or if you prefer,
paraphrased--the rhapsodic chapters of Isaiah. But it is pleasant, and
not unimportant, to be once more reminded, in a generation when written
speech has sunk to the conversational level of the man in the street,
that 'prose has her cadences'; and to me, at least, it is melancholy,
also. For I would strive to write such prose, in my stumbling fashion,
were I permitted.

Writing about a fine art, as I am so often called upon to do, I would
endeavor with what might lay in me to write about it finely. Suppose
that art chances to be the drama. Why, when some compact, weighty, and
worthily performed example comes to our stage, should I be expected to
toss off a description of it in a style less compact and weighty and
worthily conducted? On the rare occasions when a new play chances to be
poetic, am I not justified in writing of it in poetic prose? How else,
indeed, can I truly render back to my readers the subtler aspects of its
charm? But for such writing there is little room in our hurrying and
'conversational' press, though now and then a despised dramatic editor
is found who understands. Even the drama itself strives to be
'conversational' at all costs, under the banner of 'realism,' and
profanity flourishes on our stage in what we must infer to be a most
life-like manner, while we have almost forgotten that the spoken word
can be melodious or imaginative. Criticism cries at its heels, and helps
with flippant jest and broken syntax and cacophonous combinations of our
poorest vernacular, in the general debasement. Do not tell me that men
do not exist who could write differently of the stage, as men exist who
can, and do, write differently for it. Every worthy dramatist can be
paralleled by at least one worthy critic, and more probably by three or
four, since the true creative instinct in drama is perhaps the rarest of
human attributes, save only charity. But the editors appear to have
determined that the public does not want such critics--and perhaps the
editors are right. At least, the public does not often get them.

We are speaking now of prose, not of opinions, and we may safely
introduce the name of a living critic, William Winter. For nearly half a
century Mr. Winter has written prose about the theatre, and although
that prose was produced for a morning newspaper it was carefully and
consistently balanced and welded, and, when the subject demanded it,
rose, according to its creator's ideas of beauty, into the heightened
eloquence of sentence rhythm and syllabic harmony. Leisure may improve,
but haste cannot prevent the rhythm of prose, provided the instinct for
it resides in the writer, and the opportunity exists for practice and
expression. Two examples of Mr. Winter's use of rhythm come to my
memory, and I quote only phrases, not whole sentences, merely because I
am sure of no more. Writing one morning of a new and very 'modern' play,
presented the previous evening by a well-known actress, he said: 'Sarah
Bernhardt at least made her sexual monsters interesting, wielding the
lethal hatpin or the deadly hatchet with Gallic grace and sweet
celerity.' Again, in reviewing Pinero's _Iris_, he took up two of Henry
Arthur Jones's phrases, recently made current in a lecture, and played
with them, ending with mellifluous scorn, 'Such are "the great realities
of modern life," flowers of disease and blight that fringe the charnel
house of the "serious drama."'

These are certainly examples of rhythmic, or cadenced prose, and they
are examples taken from journalistic reviews. They admirably express the
writer's point of view toward his subject matter, but they also reveal
his care for the manner of expression, they satisfy the ear; and
therefore to one at all sensitive to literature they are doubly
satisfying. The arrow of irony is ever more delightful when it sings on
its flight. The trick, then, can be done. Mr. Winter, too often perhaps
for modern ears, performed it by recourse to the Johnsonian balance of
period and almost uniform, swelling roll. But that is neither here nor
there. The point is that he performed it--and that it is no longer
performed by the new generation, either in newspaper columns, or, we
will add at once, anywhere else. Rhythmic prose, prose cadenced to charm
the ear and by its melodies and harmonies properly adjusted to heighten,
as with an under-song, the emotional appeal of the ideas expressed, is
no longer written. It appears to be no longer wanted. We are fallen upon
harsh and colloquial times.

No one with any ear at all would deny Emerson a style, even if his
rhythms are often broken into the cross-chop of Carlyle. No one would
deny Irving a style, or Poe,--certainly Poe at his best,--or, indeed, to
hark far back, Cotton Mather in many passages of the _Magnalia_, where
to a quaint iambic simplicity he added a Biblical fervor which redeems
and melodizes the monotony. Mather suggests Milton, Irving suggests
Addison, Emerson suggests Carlyle, Poe, shall we say, is often the too
conscious workman typified by De Quincey. But thereafter, in this
country, we descend rapidly into second-hand imitations, into rhythm
become, in truth, mere 'fine writing,' until its death within recent
memory. Yet we do not find even to-day the true cadenced prose either
uninteresting or out of date. Emerson is as modern as the morning paper.
Newman's description of the ideal site for a university, in the clear
air of Attica beside the blue Ægean, charms us still with its perfect
blend of sound and sense, its clear intellectual idea borne on a
cadenced undersong, as of distant surf upon the shore; and the exquisite
epilogue to the _Apologia_, with its chime of proper names, still brings
a moisture to our eyes. The triumphant tramp of Gibbon, the headlong
imagery and Biblical fervor of Ruskin, the languid music of Walter
Pater, each holds its separate charm, and the charm is not archaic.

Is such prose impossible any more? Certainly it is not. The heritage of
the language is still ours, the birthright of our noble English tongue.
Simply, we do not dare to let ourselves go. We seem tortured with the
modern blight of self-consciousness; and while the cheaper magazines are
almost blatant in their unblushing self-puffery, they are none the less
cravenly submissive to what they deem popular demand, and turn their
backs on literature, on style, as something abhorrent to a race which
has been fed on the English Bible for three hundred years. Their ideal
of a prose style now seems to consist of a series of staccato yips. It
really cannot be described in any other way. The 'triumphantly
intricate' sentence celebrated by Walter Pater would give many a modern
editor a shiver of terror. He would visualize it as mowing down the
circulation of the magazine like a machine gun. Rhythm and beauty of
style can hardly be achieved by staccato yips. The modern magazine
writer, trying to be rhetorically effective, trying to rise to the
demands of heightened thought or emotional appeal, reminds one of that
enthusiastic German tympanist who wrote an entire symphonic poem for
kettle-drums.

I read one of the autumn crop of new novels the other day. Curiously
enough, it was written by a music critic who, in his reviews of music,
is constantly insisting on the primal importance of melody and harmony,
who is an arch foe of the modern programme school and the whole-tone
scale of Debussy. But the prose of his novel was utterly devoid of these
prized elements, melody and harmony. A heavy, or sometimes turgid,
journalistic commonplaceness sat upon it. I will not be unfair and tear
an illustration from some passage of rightly simple narration. I will
take the closing sentences from one of the climactic chapters, when the
mood had supposedly risen to intensity, and, if ever, the prose would
have been justified in rising to reinforce the emotion.

The house was aroused to extravagant demonstrations. Across the
footlights it looked like a brilliantly realistic piece of acting, and
the audience was astonished at the vigor of the hitherto cold Americano.

'But Nagy was not deceived. Crushed, dishevelled, breathless, she knew
that her dominion over him was gone forever. She had tried to show him
his soul and he had begun to see the light.'

Now, an ear attuned to the melodies of English prose must surely find
this commonplace, and the closing sentence of all actually as harsh as
the tonalities of Strauss or Debussy seem to the writer. Let us, even if
a little unfairly, set it beside a passage from _Henry Esmond_, again a
climactic passage, but one where the style is climactic, also, rising to
the mood.

'"You will please, sir, to remember," he continued, "that our family
hath ruined itself by fidelity to yours: that my grandfather spent his
estate, and gave his blood and his son to die for your service; that my
dear lord's grandfather (for lord you are now, Frank, by right and title
too) died for the same cause; that my poor kinswoman, my father's second
wife, after giving away her honor to your wicked perjured race, sent all
her wealth to the King; and got in return that precious title that lies
in ashes, and this inestimable yard of blue ribbon. I lay this at your
feet and stamp upon it; I draw this sword, and break it and deny you;
and had you completed the wrong you designed us, by Heaven I would have
driven it through your heart, and no more pardoned you than your father
pardoned Monmouth. Frank will do the same, won't you, cousin?"'

This justly famous passage, be it noted, is dialogue. To-day we
especially do not dare to rise above a conversational level in dialogue.
We should be accused of being 'unnatural.' Does no one speak beautifully
any more, then, even in real life? Are the nerve-centres so shattered in
the modern anatomy that no connection is established between emotions
and the musical sense? Does an exquisite mood no longer reflect itself
in our voice, in our vocabulary? Does no lover rise to eloquence in the
presence of his Adored? If that is the case, surely we now speak
unnaturally, and it should be the duty of literature to restore our
health! Nor need such speech in fiction float clear away from solid
ground. Notice how Thackeray in his closing sentence--'Frank will do the
same, won't you, cousin?'--anchors his rhetoric to the earth.

We are, let it be said again, in the grasp of realism, and realism but
imperfectly understood. Just as our drama aims to reproduce exactly a
'solid' room upon the stage, and to set actors to talking therein the
exact speech of every day, so our oratory, so-called, is the
reproduction of a one-sided conversation, and our novels (when they are
worthy of consideration) are reproductions of patiently accumulated
details, set forth in impatiently assembled sentences. But all this does
not of necessity constitute realism, because its effect is not of
necessity the creation of illusion, however truthful the artist's
purpose. Of what avail, in the drama, for example, are solid rooms and
conversational vernacular if the characters do not come to life in our
imaginations, so that we share their joys and sorrows? Of what effect
are the realistic details of a novel, whether of incident or language,
if we do not re-live its story as we read? Surely, the answer is plain,
and therefore any literary devices which heighten the mood for us are
perfectly justifiable weapons of the realist, even as they are of the
romanticist. One of these devices is consciously wrought prose. For the
present we plead for its employment on no higher ground than this of
practical expediency.

But how, you may ask,--no, not you, dear reader, who understand, but
some other chap, a poor dog of an author, perhaps,--can consciously
wrought prose aid in the creation of illusion? How can it be more than
pretty?

Let us turn for answer to Sir Thomas Browne, to 'The Garden of Cyrus,'
to the closing numbers:--

'Besides, Hippocrates hath spoke so little, and the oneirocritical
masters have left such frigid interpretations from plants, that there is
little encouragement to dream of paradise itself. Nor will the sweetest
delight of gardens afford much comfort in sleep, wherein the dulness of
that sense shakes hands with delectable odours; and though in the bed of
Cleopatra, can hardly with any delight raise up the ghost of a rose.'

That is archaic, perhaps, and not without a certain taint of quaintness
to modern ears. But how drowsy it is, how minor its harmonies, how
subtly soothing its languid melody! It tells, surely, in what manner
consciously wrought prose may aid in the creation of illusion. The mood
of sleep was here to be evoked, and lo! it comes from the very music of
the sentences, from the drowsy lullaby of selected syllables.

We might choose a quite different example, from a seemingly most
unlikely source, from the plays of George Bernard Shaw. One hardly
thinks of Mr. Shaw with a style, but rather with a stiletto. His
prefaces have been too disputative, his plays too epigrammatic, for the
cultivation of prose rhythms. Yet his prose is almost never without a
certain crisp accuracy of conversational cadence; his ear almost never
betrays him into sloppiness; and when the occasion demands, his style
can rise to meet it. The truth is, Mr. Shaw is seldom emotional, so that
his crisp accuracy of speech is most often the fitting garment for his
thought. But in _John Bull's Other Island_ his emotions are stirred, and
when Larry Doyle breaks out into an impassioned description of Ireland
the effect on the imagination of the heightened prose, when a good actor
speaks it, is almost startling.

'No, no; the climate is different. Here, if the life is dull, you can
be dull too, and no great harm done. (_Going off into a passionate
dream._) But your wits can't thicken in that soft moist air, on those
white springy roads, in those misty rushes and brown bogs, on those
hillsides of granite rocks and magenta heather. You've no such colors in
the sky, no such lure in the distances, no such sadness in the evenings.
Oh, the dreaming! the dreaming! the torturing, heart-scalding,
never-satisfying dreaming, dreaming, dreaming, dreaming! (_Savagely._)
No debauchery that ever coarsened and brutalized an Englishman can take
the worth and usefulness out of him like that dreaming. An Irishman's
imagination never lets him alone, never convinces him, never satisfies
him; but it makes him so that he can't face reality nor deal with it nor
handle it nor conquer it: he can only sneer at them that do, and
(_bitterly, at Broadbent_) be "agreeable to strangers," like a
good-for-nothing woman on the streets.'

This, to be sure, is prose to be spoken, not prose to be read. Different
laws prevail, for different effects are sought. But the principle of
cadence calculated to fit the mood, and by its melodic, or, as here, its
percussive character to heighten the emotional appeal, remains the same.

But beyond the argument for cadenced prose as an aid to illusion,
employed in the proper places,--that is, where intensity of imagery or
feeling can benefit by it,--is the higher plea for sheer lingual beauty
for its own sake. Shall realism preclude all other effects of artistic
creation? Because the men on our streets, the women in our homes, talk
sloppily, shall all our books be written in their idiom, all our stage
characters reproduce their commonplaceness, nearly all our magazines and
newspapers give no attention to the graces of style? I am pleading for
no Newman of the news story, nor am I seeking to arm our muck-rakers
with the pen of Sir Thomas Browne. I would not send Walter Pater to
report a football game (though Stevenson could doubtless improve on most
of the 'sporting editors'), nor ask that Emerson write our editorials.
But there is a poor way, and there is a fine way, to write everything,
and inevitably the man who has an ear for the rhythms of prose, who has
been trained and encouraged to write his very best, will fit his style
appropriately to his subject. He will not seek to cadence his sentences
in bald narration or in exposition, but he will, nevertheless, keep them
capable of natural and pleasant phrasing, he will avoid monotony,
jarring syllables, false stress, and ugly or tripping terminations which
throw the voice as one's feet are thrown by an unseen obstacle in the
path. His paragraphs, too, will group naturally, as falls his thought.
But when the subject he has in hand rises to invective, to exhortation,
to the dignity of any passion or the sweep of any vision, then if his
ear be tuned and his courage does not fail him he must inevitably write
in cadenced periods, the effectiveness of his work depending on the
adjustment of these cadences to the mood of the moment, on his skill as
an artist in prose.

And just now the courage of our young men fails. The unrestrained
abandonment of all art to realism, of every sort of printed page to bald
colloquialism, has dulled the natural ear in all of us for comely prose,
and made us deaf to more stately measures. The complete democratizing of
literature has put the fear of plebeian ridicule in our hearts, and the
wider a magazine's circulation, it would seem, the more harm it does to
English prose, because in direct ratio to its sale are its pages given
over to the Philistines, and the dignity and refinement of thought which
could stimulate dignity and refinement of expression are unknown to its
contributors, or kept carefully undisclosed.

I have often fancied, in penitential moments, a day of judgment for us
who write, when we shall stand in flushed array before the Ultimate
Critic and answer the awful question, 'What have you done with your
language?' There shall be searchings of soul that morning, and
searchings of forgotten pages of magazines and 'best sellers' and books
of every sort, for the cadence that may bring salvation. But many shall
seek and few shall find, and the goats shall be sorted out in droves,
condemned to an eternity of torture, none other than the everlasting
task of listening to their own prose read aloud.

'What have you done with your language?' It is a solemn question for all
of us, for you who speak as well as for us who write. Our language is a
priceless heritage. It has been the ladder of life up which we climbed;
with it we have bridged the sundering flood that forever rolls between
man and man; through its aid have come to us the treasures of the past,
the world's store of experience; by means of it our poets have wrought
their measures, our philosophers their dreams. Bit by bit, precious
mosaic after precious mosaic, the great body of English literature has
been built up, in verse and prose, the crown of that division of
language we call our own. Consciously finding itself three centuries
ago, our English prose blossomed at once into the solemn splendors of
the King James Bible and then into the long-drawn, ornate magnificence
of Sir Thomas Browne, never again till our day to lose consciousness of
its power, to forget its high and holy task, the task of maintaining our
language at full tide and ministering to style and beauty. There were
fluxes in the fashions, naturally; little of Browne's music being found
in the almost conversational fluency (but not laxness) of Addison, even
as the suave Mr. Addison himself has vanished in the tempestuous
torrents of Carlyle. But there always was an Addison, a Carlyle, a
Newman, a Walter Pater, whose work loomed large in popular regard, whose
influence was mighty in shaping a taste for prose style. Who now, we may
ask, looking around us in America, looms large in popular regard as a
writer of ample vision, amply and beautifully clothed in speech, and
whose influence is mighty in shaping a taste for prose style? It is not
enough to have the worthies of the past upon our shelves. Each age must
have its own inspiration. Again we hear the solemn question, 'What have
you done with your language?' Only Ireland may answer, 'We have our
George Moore, and we had our Synge not long ago--but we stoned his
plays.'

We have stifled our language, we have debased it, we have been afraid of
it. But some day it will reassert itself, for it is stronger than we,
alike our overlord and avatar. Deep in the soul of man dwells the lyric
impulse, and when his song cannot be the song of the poet it will shape
itself in rhythmic prose, that it may still be cadenced and modulated to
change with the changing thought and sound an obligato to the moods of
the author's spirit. How wonderful has been our prose,--grave and
chastely rich when Hooker wrote it, striding triumphant over the pages
of Gibbon on tireless feet, ringing like a trumpet from Emerson's white
house in Concord, modulated like soft organ-music heard afar in Newman's
lyric moods, clanging and clamorous in Carlyle, in Walter Pater but as
the soft fall of water in a marble fountain while exquisite odors flood
the Roman twilight and late bees are murmurous, a little of all,
perhaps, in Stevenson! We, too, we little fellows of to-day, could
write as they wrote, consciously, rhythmically, if we only cared, if we
only dared. We ask for the opportunity, the encouragement. Alas! that
also means a more liberal choice of graver subjects, and a more
extensive employment of the essay form. Milton could hardly have been
Miltonic on a lesser theme than the Fall of the Angels, and Walter Pater
wrote of the Mona Lisa, not Lizzie Smith of Davenport, Iowa. It is
doubtless of interest to learn about Lizzie, but she hardly inspires us
to rhythmic prose.



In the Chair

By Ralph Bergengren


About once in so often a man must go to the barber for what, with
contemptuous brevity, is called a haircut. He must sit in a big chair, a
voluminous bib (prettily decorated with polka dots) tucked in round his
neck, and let another human being cut his hair for him. His head, with
all its internal mystery and wealth of thought, becomes for the time
being a mere poll, worth two dollars a year to the tax-assessor: an
irregularly shaped object, between a summer squash and a canteloupe,
with too much hair on it, as very likely several friends and
acquaintances have advised him. His identity vanishes.

As a rule the less he now says or thinks about his head, the better: he
has given it to the barber, and the barber will do as he pleases with
it. It is only when the man is little and is brought in by his mother,
that the job will be done according to instructions; and this is because
the man's mother is in a position to see the back of his head. Also
because the weakest woman under such circumstances has strong
convictions. When the man is older the barber will sometimes allow him
to see the haircut, cleverly reflected in two mirrors; but not one man
in a thousand--nay, in ten thousand--would dare express himself as
dissatisfied. After all, what does he know of haircuts, he who is no
barber? Women feel differently; and I know of one man, returning home
with a new haircut, who was compelled to turn round again and take what
his wife called his 'poor' head to another barber by whom the haircut
was more happily finished. But that was exceptional. And it happened to
that man but once.

The very word 'haircut' is objectionable. It snips like the scissors.
Yet it describes the operation more honestly than the substitute 'trim,'
a euphemism indicating a jaunty habit of dropping in frequently at the
barber's, and so keeping the hair perpetually at just the length that is
most becoming. For most men, although the knowledge must be gathered by
keen, patient observation and never by honest confession, there is a
period, lasting about a week, when the length of their hair is
admirable. But it comes between haircuts. The haircut itself is never
satisfactory. If his hair was too long before (and on this point he has
the evidence of unprejudiced witnesses), it is too short now. It must
grow steadily--count on it for that!--until for a brief period it is
'just right,' æsthetically suited to the contour of his face and the cut
of his features, and beginning already imperceptibly to grow too long
again.

Soon this growth becomes visible, and the man begins to worry. 'I must
go to the barber,' he says in a harassed way. 'I must get a haircut.'
But the days pass. It is always to-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow.
When he goes, he goes suddenly.

There is something within us, probably our immortal soul, that postpones
a haircut; and yet in the end our immortal souls have little to do with
the actual process. It is impossible to conceive of one immortal soul
cutting another immortal soul's hair. My own soul, I am sure, has never
entered a barber's shop. It stops and waits for me at the portal.
Probably it converses on subjects remote from our bodily consciousness
with the immortal souls of barbers, patiently waiting until the barbers
finish their morning's work and come out to lunch.

Even during the haircut our hair is still growing, never stopping, never
at rest, never in a hurry: it grows while we sleep, as was proved by Rip
Van Winkle. And yet perhaps sometimes it is in a hurry; perhaps that is
why it falls out. In rare cases the contagion of speed spreads; the last
hair hurries after all the others; the man is emancipated from
dependence on barbers. I know a barber who is in this independent
condition himself (for the barber can no more cut his own hair than the
rest of us) and yet sells his customers a preparation warranted to keep
them from attaining it, a seeming anomaly which can be explained only on
the ground that business is business. To escape the haircut one must be
quite without hair that one cannot see and reach; and herein possibly is
the reason for a fashion which has often perplexed students of the
Norman Conquest. The Norman soldiery wore no hair on the backs of their
heads; and each brave fellow could sit down in front of his polished
shield and cut his own hair without much trouble. But the scheme had a
weakness. The back of the head had to be shaven, and the fashion
doubtless went out because, after all, nothing was gained by it. One
simply turned over on one's face in the barber's chair instead of
sitting up straight.

Fortunately we begin having a haircut when we are too young to think,
and when also the process is sugar-coated by the knowledge that we are
losing our curls. Then habit accustoms us to it. Yet it is significant
that men of refinement seek the barber in secluded places, basements of
hotels for choice, where they can be seen only by barbers and by other
refined men having or about to have haircuts; and that men of less
refinement submit to the operation where every passer-by can stare in
and see them, bibs round their necks and their shorn locks lying in
pathetic little heaps on the floor. There is a barber's shop of this
kind in Boston where one of the barbers, having no head to play with,
plays on a cornet, doubtless to the further distress of his immortal
soul peeping in through the window. But this is unusual even in the city
that is known far and wide as the home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

I remember a barber--he was the only one available in a small town--who
cut my left ear. The deed distressed him, and he told me a story. It was
a pretty little cut, he said--filling it with alum--and reminded him of
another gentleman whose left ear he had nipped in identically the same
place. He had done his best with alum and apology, as he was now doing.
Two months later the gentleman came in again. 'And by golly!' said the
barber, with a kind of wonder at his own cleverness, 'if I didn't nip
him again in just the same place!'

A man can shave himself. The Armless Wonder does it in the Dime Museum.
Byron did it, and composed poetry during the operation, although, as I
have recently seen scientifically explained, the facility of composition
was not due to the act of shaving but to the normal activity of the
human mind at that time in the morning. Here therefore a man can refuse
the offices of the barber. If he wishes to make one of a half-dozen
apparently inanimate figures, their faces covered with soap, and their
noses used as convenient handles to turn first one cheek and then the
other--that is his own lookout. But human ingenuity has yet to invent a
'safety barber's shears.' It has tried. A near genius once made an
apparatus--a kind of helmet with multitudinous little scissors inside
it--which he hopefully believed would solve the problem; but what became
of him and his invention I have not heard. Perhaps he tried it himself
and slunk, defeated, into a deeper obscurity. Perhaps he committed
suicide, for one can easily imagine that a man who thought he had found
a way to cut his own hair and then found that he hadn't would be thrown
into a suicidal depression. There is the possibility that he succeeded
in cutting his own hair, and was immediately 'put away,' where nobody
could see him but the hardened attendants, by his sensitive family. The
important fact is that the invention never got on the market. Until some
other investigator succeeds to more practical purpose, the rest of us
must go periodically to the barber. We must put on the bib--

Here, however, there is at least an opportunity of selection. There are
bibs with arms, and bibs without arms. And there is a certain amount of
satisfaction in being able to see our own hands, carefully holding the
newspaper or periodical wherewith we pretend that we are still
intelligent human beings. And here again are distinctions. The patrons
of my own favored barber's shop have arms to their bibs and pretend to
be deeply interested in the _Illustrated London News_. The patrons of
the barber's shop where I lost part of my ear--I cannot see the place,
but those whom I take into my confidence tell me that it has long since
grown again--had no sleeves to their bibs, but nevertheless managed
awkwardly to hold the _Police Gazette_. And this opportunity to hold the
_Police Gazette_ without attracting attention becomes a pleasant feature
of this type of barber's shop: I, for example, found it easier--until my
ear was cut--to forget my position in the examination of this journal
than in the examination of the _Illustrated London News_. The pictures,
strictly speaking, are not so good, either artistically or morally, but
there is a tang about them, an I-do-not-know-what. And it is always
wisest to focus attention on some such extraneous interest. Otherwise
you may get to looking in the mirror.

Do not do that.

For one thing, there is the impulse to cry out 'Stop! Stop! Don't cut it
all off!

    'Oh, barber, spare that hair!
      Leave some upon my brow!
    For months it's sheltered me!
      And I'll protect it now!

'Oh, please! P-l-e-a-s-e!--' These exclamations annoy a barber, rouse a
demon of fury in him. He reaches for a machine called 'clippers.' Tell
him how to cut hair, will you! A little more and he'll shave your
head--and not only half-way either, like the Norman soldiery at the time
of the Conquest! Even if you are able to restrain this impulse,
clenching your bib in your hands and perhaps dropping or tearing the
_Illustrated London News_, the mirror gives you strange, morbid
reflections. You recognize your face, but your head seems somehow
separate, balanced on a kind of polka-dotted mountain with two hands
holding the _Illustrated London News_. You are afraid momentarily that
the barber will lift it off and go away with it. Then is the time to
read furiously the weekly contribution of G. K. Chesterton. But your
mind reverts to a story you have been reading about how the Tulululu
Islanders, a savage but ingenious people, preserve the heads of their
enemies so that the faces are much smaller but otherwise quite
recognizable. You find yourself looking keenly at the barber to discover
any possible trace of Tulululu ancestry. And what is he going to get
now? A krees? No, a paint-brush. Is he going to paint you? And if
so--what color? The question of color becomes strangely important, as if
it made any real difference. Green? Red? Purple? Blue? No, he uses the
brush dry, tickling your forehead, tickling your ears, tickling your
nose, tickling you under the chin and down the back of your neck. After
the serious business of the haircut, a barber must have some relaxation.

There is one point on which you are independent: you will not have the
bay rum; you are a teetotaller. You say so in a weak voice which
nevertheless has some adamantine quality that impresses him. He humors
you; or perhaps your preference appeals to his sense of business
economy.

He takes off your bib.

From a row of chairs a man leaps to his feet, anxious to give _his_ head
to the barber. A boy hastily sweeps up the hair that was yours--already
as remote from you as if it had belonged to the man who is always
waiting, and whose name is Next. Oh, it is
horrible--horrible--horrible!



The Passing of Indoors

By Zephine Humphrey


Indoors is going. We may just as well make up our minds on this
revolutionary point, and accept it with such degree of hardy rejoicing
or shivering regret as our natures prompt in us.

The movement has been long under way, gradually working the perfect
ejection which seems now at hand. We might have recognized the
dislodging process long ago, had we been far-sighted enough. It
began--who shall say when it did begin? Surely not in the shaggy breasts
of those rude ancestors of ours whom we hold in such veneration, and to
whose ways we seem to ourselves to be so wisely returning. They dragged
their venison into the depths of a cave darker and closer than any
house, and devoured it in great seclusion. Perhaps it began in the San
Marco Piazza at Venice, with the little open-air tables under the
colonnades. "So delightful! So charming!" Thus the tourists, as they
sipped their coffee and dallied with their ices. They were right; it was
delightful and charming, and so it is to this day, but it was perhaps
the thin edge of the wedge which is turning us all out now.

Supper was the first regular meal to follow the open-air suggestion,
country supper on the piazza in the warm summer evening. That also was
delightful, of course, and not at all alarming. All nations and ages
have practiced the sport of occasional festive repasts out of doors when
the weather has permitted. But breakfast was not long in following suit;
and when dinner, that most conservative, conventional of meals,
succumbed to the outward pressure and spread its congealing gravies in
the chilly air, we were in for the thing in good earnest, the new custom
was on. No longer a matter of times and seasons, the weather had nothing
to do with it now; and in really zealous families the regular summer
dining-room was out of doors. Summer dining-room--that sounds well;
since summer and warmth go together traditionally. But not always
actually in New England, where bleak rains overtake the world now and
then, and clearing north-west winds come racing keenly. It was soon
essential to introduce a new fashion in dinner garments: overcoats,
sweaters, and heavy shawls, felt hats and mufflers.

'Excuse me while I run upstairs to get a pair of mittens?'

'Finish your soup first, dear; it will be quite cold if you leave it.'

The adherents of the new doctrine are very conscientious and faithful,
as was only to be expected. We are a valiant race in the matter of our
enthusiasms and can be trusted to follow them sturdily, buckling on
armor or overcoats or whatever other special equipment the occasion
demands. Conscientiousness is a good trait, but there is perhaps more of
the joy of life in some other qualities.

Sleeping outdoors was the next great phase in the open-air movement.
That also began casually enough and altogether charmingly. One lingered
in the hammock, watching the stars, musing in the still summer night,
until, lo! there was the dawn beginning behind the eastern hills. A
wonderful experience. Not much sleeping about it truly,--there is
commonly not much sleeping about great experiences,--but so beautiful
that the heart said, 'Go to! why not have this always? Why not sleep
outdoors every night?' Which is of course exactly the way in which human
nature works; very reasonable, very sane and convincing, but
unfortunately never quite so successful as it should be. That which has
blessed us once must be secured in perpetuity for our souls to feast on
continually; revelation must fold its wings and abide with us. So we
soberly go to work and strip all the poetry of divine chance, all the
delight of the unexpected, from our great occasions by laying plans for
their systematic recurrence.

    He who bends to himself a joy,
    Does the winged life destroy;
    But he who kisses a joy as it flies,
    Lives in eternity's sunrise.

It is a pity that William Blake could not teach us that once for all. As
a matter of fact, of course, great occasions care nothing at all for our
urging; and a plan is an institution which they cordially abhor. The
stars and the dawn do not condescend to such paraphernalia for waylaying
them as sleeping-bags, rubber blankets, air-pillows, and mosquito
netting, with a stout club close at hand in case of tramps or a skunk.

One experience of my own recurs to my memory poignantly here, and I
think I cannot do better than set it forth. I had passed an
unforgettable night all alone in a meadow, detained by the evening
almost insensibly into 'solemn midnight's tingling silences,' and thence
into the austere dawn. It was an episode such as should have sealed my
lips forever; but I profanely spoke of it, and at once the contagion of
interest spread through the little village.

'What fun! Did you have your rubbers on? Did you sit in a chair? I
should think you would have sat in a chair--so much more comfortable!
Well, I tell you what, let's do it together,--a lot of us, so we won't
be afraid,--and let's climb a mountain. The sunset and dawn will be
beautiful from a mountain.'

We did it; I blush to confess that some twenty-five of us did it. It
was an excursion planned and discussed for a matter of two weeks (a full
moon being part of the programme), and there was no accident unforeseen,
no event unprovided for. The procession that wended its way, toiling and
puffing, up the ascent of Haystack,--the favored mountain selected for
the high pedestal of our rapture,--on the auspicious night, was about as
sad, and withal as funny, an affront as the secrecy of beauty ever
received. Blankets, steamer-rugs, pillows, shawls, hammocks,
whiskey-flasks--how we groaned beneath the burden of all these things.
We lost the way, of course, and had to beat the woods in every
direction; we were tired and hot and--cross? Perhaps. But we knew what
our rôle was, and when we reached the top of the mountain, we all of us
stood very solemnly in a row and said, 'How beautiful!'

It was beautiful; that was just the fineness of the night's triumph over
us--over me at least; I cannot speak for the other twenty-four. To this
day, be it said in parentheses, whenever we mention that night on
Haystack we lift our eyes in ecstasy, and no one of us has ever
confessed any sense of lack. But honestly, honestly at the last (dear
stalwart relief of honesty!), that experiment was a failure--so
beautiful that the spirit should have been lifted out of the body, and
would have been, had it stood alone, had it not already exhausted itself
in plans and expectations. Beneath us, a far-spreading sea of misty,
rolling hills, all vague and blended in the light of the soaring moon;
above us, such a sweep of sky as only mountain-tops command; around us,
silence, silence. Yet the unstrenuous orchard at home, with its tranquil
acceptance of such degree of sunset light as was granted to it, and of
the moon's presence when she rose above the apple trees, would have
conveyed the night's message a thousand times more clearly.

It is seldom worth while to describe any failure of the spirit very
minutely, and tragedy is not the tone this paper would assume; but one
slight episode of the dawn following that fatal night must be related.
We were gathered on the eastern edge of our mountain top, a tousled,
gray, disheveled lot, heavy-eyed and weary. Does the reader understand
the significance of the term 'to prevent the dawn'? He does if he has
stood and waited for the sun to rise--or the moon or any of the
constellations, for that matter. All heavenly bodies retard their
progress through the influence of being waited for. 'Surely now!' a
dozen times we warned one another there, with our faces toward the
quickening east; yet no glittering, lambent rim slid up to greet our
eyes.

At last a decent comely cloud came to the rescue of the sun, halting and
embarrassed, and settled snugly all about the mountain of the
day-spring. Into this the sun was born, so obscurely that it rode high
above the mountain's edge, shorn and dull, a rubber ball, before we
discovered it. 'Why--why--' some one began, stammering; and then there
was a dramatic pause. Brave and determined though we were in our pursuit
of ecstasy, we could not burst forth into song like Memnon statues at
the sight of that belated orange, 'Lo, the Lord Sun!' Not at all. It was
the merest varlet. In this dilemma of our hearts, a funny little wailing
cry came from the cliff's edge: 'I want my money back! I want my money
back!' It was a perfect commentary on the whole situation, as fine and
humorous and true an utterance as could be asked on the foiled occasion.
We laughed at it, and all the air was straightway clearer for us. Then
down the mountain-side we trooped, and went home to bed.

Of course I am not unaware of the impatience of some readers, if they
have taken pains to scan so far this earnest exposition. The outdoor
movement is not one primarily of sentiment, but of health and happiness;
and the story just related is aside from the point. That may be true. I
certainly stand in respect of the great claims of the physical side of
the subject, and would not deal with them. By all means, let all people
be as well as possible. But it is still the other side, the side of
sentiment and rapture, which is most pleadingly often brought home to
me.

It is pitiful how helpless we are against the invasions of a new
enthusiasm like this--we sober, conservative folk. I still sleep in my
bed, in my room, but the satisfaction I used to take in the innocent
practice is broken of late by haunting fears that I may not be able to
keep it up. My friends will not let me alone.

'Of all things! why don't you sleep out here, on this little upper
piazza? Precisely the place! I can't understand how you can ignore such
an opportunity.'

'Well, you see,'--my answer was glib at first,--'the piazza overhangs
the road, and the milk-wagons go by very early. I don't want to get up
at four o'clock every morning.'

'They couldn't see much of you, I should think,'--with a thoughtful
measuring glance,--'not more than your toes and the tip of your nose.'

'Oh, thank you, that's quite enough!'

'Well, you might saw off the legs of a cot, to bring it below the
railing. Or just a mattress spread on the floor would do very well.'

Just a mattress spread on the floor! That closes the argument. I have no
spirit left to prefer any other objections to these dauntless souls,
such as the rain (the piazza has no roof). But what would a cold bath be
if not distinctly so much to the good in view of the toilet operations
of the following morning? There is no course left me but that final
one,--which should in honesty have come first,--of damning myself by the
hopeless assertion, 'I don't want to sleep out of doors.' This locks the
argument, and the barrier stands complete, shutting me off in a world by
myself, interrupting the genial flow of sympathetic friendship. But I
love my friends. Therefore it follows that I tremble for my further
repose in my bed. I fear I shall yet utter midnight sighs on that piazza
floor.

Indoors, dear indoors! I would I might plead its cause a little here.
Does no one ever pause to reflect that there was never any outdoors at
all until indoors was created? The two had a simultaneous birth, but it
was an appurtenance of the latter that marked the distinction and gave
the names. A little humiliating that might have seemed to any creatures
less generous than woods and mountains--to have been here really from
the beginning, ages and ages in glorious life, and then to take their
first generic name, find their first classification, all of them in a
lump together (what a lump!) as the other side of a fragile barrier to a
mushroom construction. One wonders that those who exalt the outdoors as
everything nowadays, do not find some better title for it than its
dooryard term. But those who love the indoors too, though they may smile
at the calm presumption of its dubbing the universe, accept the
conclusion without any question. Man is after all the creature of
creatures, and his life is of first importance. We do not hear that the
woodchuck speaks of _out-hole_, or the bird of _out-tree_.

Such life of man is an inner thing, intensely inner; its essence lies in
its inwardness. It can hardly know itself 'all abroad'; it must needs
have devised for itself a shelter as soon as it came to
self-consciousness, a refuge, not only from storm and cold but from the
distracting variety of the extensive world. Indoors is really an august
symbol, a very grave and reverend thing, if we apprehend it rightly. It
stands for the separate life of man, apart from (though still a part of,
too) the rest of the universe. Take any one room inhabited daily by a
person of strong individuality,--how alive it is! How brisk and alert in
the very attitudes of the chairs and the pictures on the walls! Or, more
happily, how serene and reposeful! Or how matter-of-fact! Morbid and
passionate, flippant, austere, boisterous, decorous,--anything,
everything a room may be which a human creature may be; and that range,
as most of us know, is almost unlimited.

It is hard to understand how any person can fail to respond to the warm
appeal of his own abode. Say one has been abroad all day (another term
that assumes the house as a starting-point), climbing the mountains,
exploring the woods, ravishing eyes and heart with the beauty of the
excellent world. Night comes at last, and weariness droops upon the
flesh. Enough! Even the spirit's cry finds a pause. Enough, enough! The
wide world suddenly spreads so vast that it overwhelms and frightens;
there is something pitiless in the reach of the unbounded sky. Then, as
fast as they can, the lagging feet make for a point on the hillside
where the eyes can command the valley, and swiftly, eagerly flies the
glance to one dear accustomed goal. A white house nestled among the
trees,--that is all, yet it thrills the heart with a potent summons
which mountain-peaks and sunsets do not know. Home! Ah, hurry, then!

Down the hill, across the pasture, in at the white gate, and up the two
marble steps. The front door stands open unconcernedly. The house makes
no stir at receiving its inmate back,--its inmate whose life it has held
and brooded during his absence, waiting to reinvest him with it when he
wants it again,--but there is a quiet sense of welcome, a content of
returning, which is among the sweetest and most establishing of human
experiences. The clock ticks steadily in the hall, its hands approaching
the genial hour of supper-time. Within the open library door, the books
dream on the shelves. Little sounds of a tranquil preparation come from
the dining-room; the tea-kettle sings, the black kitten purrs. Blessed
indoors! It draws a veil gently over the tired head, bewildered with
much marveling, lays a cool hand over the eyes, says, 'Now rest, rest.'
Indoors is like the Guardian Angel in Browning's poem.

After supper, one sits by the lamp and reads peacefully. Aunt Susan
reads, too, on the other side of the big table, and Cousin Jane sews.
The books and the pictures look on benignly, and even the furniture is
instinct with a mute eloquence of companionship. The song of the night
insects throbs without, and millers hurl themselves with soft thuds
against the windows; an owl mutters to himself in the maple tree. But
not for anything would one go out, not for anything would one leave this
glowing, brooding, protecting indoors which one has regained. After a
while, one goes upstairs and lays one's self in the safe white bed in
one's own room. The windows are open to the night, but solid walls are
all round about; and, before the sleepily closing eyes, gleam one's own
peculiar cherished belongings in the creeping moonlight. Into the very
heart of one's life one has returned at the close of the day, and there
one goes to sleep. 'In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in
quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.'

And we will not? Is the discouraged clause, promptly succeeding to that
most beautiful verse of Isaiah, true, then, of us? Are we going to
despoil ourselves of all the poetry, the intimate meaning of our indoor
life?

'A place in which to dress and undress--that is all I want of a house,'
an energetic young woman said.

A bath-house would suit her perfectly. Perhaps that is what we are
coming to--rows of bath-houses, with sleeping-bags stored up in them
against the night. Alas for the pictures! Alas for the music! Alas for
the books!

The books! There is a happy suggestion. I believe the books will save
us. There is certainty nothing that objects with greater decision and
emphasis to sleeping out of doors than a book--yes, even a volume of
Walt Whitman. Books are obstinate in their way; they know their own
minds, and there are some things which they will not do. The effect of
leaving one in the orchard inadvertently over night has a final
melancholy about it which most book-lovers understand poignantly. Could
books be printed on india rubber and bound in water-proof cloth?
Perhaps; but the method does not sound attractive enough to be feasible
even in these practical days. No, I believe the books will save us. They
are a great army and they have power; a steady conservative hold is
theirs on their restless owners. Other threatening situations, they have
saved and are constantly saving.

'I sometimes think I'd give up housekeeping, and not have a home any
more,' one woman said, 'if it weren't for my books. But I can't part
with them, nor yet can I get them all into one room; so here I stay.'

'Buy books?' exclaimed a New York man. 'No; it hurts them too much to
move them.'

Which innocent implication has caused me many a thoughtful smile.

Essentially human,--with the humanity of the ages, not of a few
decades,--books understand what man really wants, and what he must have,
better than he does himself. In the serene and gracious indoors, they
took up their places long ago, and there they remain, and there they
will always make shift to abide. Perhaps, if we sit down close at their
feet, we, too, may abide.



The Contented Heart

By Lucy Elliot Keeler


_Cœur Content, grand Talent_, runs the motto of one of my friends;
which early led me to dub her, Contented Heart. Is it not human nature,
such easy assumption of an interesting aspiration as a fact to be
posted? As logical as to expect Mr. Short to check his stature at five
feet two; as humanly contrary as for the Blacks to name their girls
Lily, Blanche, and Pearl. They usually do. I remember a Bermudian
rector, leaning down to inquire the name of the black baby to be
christened, suddenly quickened into audibility by the mother's reply:
'Keren-Happuck, sir, yes, sir, one of the Miss Jobs, sir.' Now Job's
daughters were fairest among the daughters of men.

Contented Heart has obsessed my mind of late. I like to take the other
side: everybody does. Does like to and does; and because the air to-day
is redolent of unrest and discontent, I put in the assertion that,
nevertheless, the great majority of my acquaintances possess that great
talent,--translate it knack, or translate it acquirement,--a contented
heart. I seldom talk intimately with anybody but I hear something like
this:--

'I have been visiting at the X's. What a superb place! but I do not envy
them. Think of the care and expense and the servant question. Simple as
my cot is, I honestly prefer it.' Or, 'What a fortune the H's appear to
have. It would be comfortable to get what one wants and go where one
wishes; not to worry at tax-paying time and new-suit time. Still I doubt
if they get half the enjoyment from their acquisitions that we do who
have to save and plan for ours.' Or, 'You do not use eye-glasses? How
fortunate! they are such a nuisance. But hush--such a boon. I should be
helpless without them. I am not sure but it is even a good thing to be
born with them on, so to speak. My contemporaries who are beginning to
use them are most unhappy, while glasses are just a part of my face.'
Or, 'It is a great affliction to be deaf in even one ear. The person on
that one side of you thinks you prefer the conversation of the person on
the other side. Yet, as my brother said when he saw me struggling to
make out a dull speaker's words, "Why abuse your natural advantage?"

How do people with two good ears sleep? They cannot bury them both in
the pillow. Suppose our ears were so sensitive that we noticed every
footstep on the street! Being deaf is merely to enjoy some of the
advantages that the society to prevent unnecessary noises seeks to
confer on a normal public. We admire a beautiful face and then add, 'But
how she must hate to grow old; a tragedy of the mirror that we homely
souls are spared.' All my life I envied persons with straight noses till
I began to observe that with age the straight nose droops into a beak,
whereas the youthful tip-tilt and concavity kind straightens its end to
a fair classicism. Thus others than the Vicar of Wakefield draw upon
content for the deficiencies of fortune.

Of course content is dilemma enough to have its two horns: the double
peaks of taking life too easily, and of taking it too hard. In his
statue of Christ, Thorvaldsen expressed his conviction that he had
reached his culminating point,--since he had never been so satisfied
with any work before,--and was 'alarmed that I _am_ satisfied.' That
'the people ask nothing better' is the slogan of the grafter. No reform
comes without its preceding period of discontent; dissatisfaction is the
price to be paid for better things; a revolutionary attitude must be
maintained. Stevenson knew a Welsh blacksmith who at twenty-five could
neither read nor write, at which time he heard a chapter of _Robinson
Crusoe_ read aloud in a farm kitchen. Up to that moment he had sat
content, huddled in his ignorance; but he left the kitchen another man.
There were day-dreams, it appeared, divine day-dreams, written and
printed and bound, and to be bought for money and enjoyed at pleasure.
Down he sat that day, painfully learned to read Welsh, and returned to
borrow the book. It had been lost, nor could he find another copy, only
one in English. Down he sat once more, learned English, and at length
with entire delight read _Robinson_.

As there is a noble way of being discontented, so there is an ignoble
content. The Contented Heart is not a phrase to soothe us, but a power
to work results. It must constantly emerge upon a higher plane, or it
will fall. Few of us would be willing to retain just the personal habits
that we have now. Sir Gilbert Elliot drove his sister out of her
literary inertia when he bet gloves to ribbons that she could not write
a modern ballad on the _Flowers of the Forest_. The result is one of the
most popular songs of Scotland. There is also a sham content whose
practitioners often get their 'cumuppances' as effectively as did Thomas
Raikes. The Duchess of York led him about her garden, where was a
menagerie crowded with eagles and some favorite macaws. A herd of
kangaroos and ostriches appeared and a troop of monkeys. Next morning a
kangaroo and a macaw strolled into Raikes's bedroom. He was too much of
a courtier to tell his terror. At breakfast he said, 'If I like one
creature more than another it is a kangaroo, while there is nothing so
good for a bedroom sentinel as a strong-legged macaw.' The good Duchess
smiled pleasantly and put Raikes down in her will for two macaws.

A certain kind of content enlivens us with the bliss of others'
ignorance. Tacitus was one of the first historians in our modern sense,
yet he described a motionless frozen sea in the north from which a hiss
is heard as the sun plunges down into it at night; and Pliny noted that
the reflection of mirrors is due to the percussion of the air thrown
back upon the eyes. Kipling laughed slyly at the traveler in India who
spent his time gazing at the names of the railway stations in Baedeker.
When the train rushed through a station he would draw a line through the
name and say, 'I've done that.' Satisfaction with our learning is
confined to no age or nation. Two Frenchmen in a restaurant showing off
their English opined, 'It deed rain to-morrow.' 'Yes, it was.'
Satisfaction with virtue was rebuked by Francis de Sales when he told
the nuns, who asked to go barefoot, to keep their shoes and change their
brains. Satisfaction with our importance recalls Harlequin, who when
asked what he was doing on his paper throne replied that he was
reigning. Satisfaction with our future is the satisfaction of the eighth
square of the chessboard where we shall all be queens together, and it's
all feasting and fun.

I would not, as advocate of the Contented Heart, go so far as Walt
Whitman when he said that whoever was without his volume of poems should
be assassinated; but his remark suggests that extreme measures are
frequently curative. Stanislaus of Poland did not hesitate to recall to
his daughter the bad days they had undergone. 'See, Marie, how
Providence cares for good people: you had not even a chemise in 1725,
and now you are Queen of France.' To take up Dante and read about devils
boiled in pitch must by comparison cheer morbid humans. The spectacle of
tragedy in the lives of kings and favorites of the gods such as the
Greek stage presented was believed to be wholesome because beholders
thereby faced a scale of misfortune so much exceeding anything in their
own lives that their mishaps appeared of slight importance in
comparison. I know that after seeing _Œdipus Rex_ given by the three
Salvinis and others in the old amphitheatre in Fiesole, I went off
murmuring, 'What does it matter if my trunk is lost!' a state of mind to
which no slighter argument had sufficed to bring me. Surely life is too
interesting to spend it all knocking off its pretty scallops by aimless
exaggeration of small troubles, or hanging out our large ones to flap
the passer-by. Besides which, we get no more sympathy from the passer-by
than did Giant Despair who sometimes, in sunshiny weather, fell into
fits.

Captivating as a 'born,' a fortuitous, untrained content may be, trained
content is of a finer type. One is quantity content, the other quality
content. Not to smash things up and make them over just as we want them,
which we should like to do but cannot; not to waste our time fighting
against conditions, but to take up those conditions, that environment,
and out of them forge the _œs triplex_ of a contented heart--that, I
take it, is to be an adept in the fine art of living, and I for one am
votary.

That the most restless heart can train itself to find content in simple,
commonplace things, like work, nature, health, books, meditation, and
friends,--illustrations are bewilderingly abundant. Burne-Jones said he
would like to stay right in his own house for numberless years, the hope
of getting on with his painting was happiness enough. Macaulay would
'rather be a poor man in a garret with plenty of books than a king who
did not love reading'; and King James said that if he were not a king he
would be a university man, and if it were so that he must be a prisoner
he would desire no other durance than to be chained in the Bodleian
Library with so many noble authors. Carlyle's chief luxury was 'to think
and smoke tobacco, with a new clay pipe every day, put on the doorstep
at night for any poor brother-smoker or souvenir-hunter to carry away.'

All Diogenes wanted was that Alexander and his men should stand from
between him and the sun. Goethe found content in Nature and earnest
activity; and the happy Turk told Candide that he had twenty acres of
land which he cultivated with his children, work which put them far from
great evils: ennui, vice, and need,--'Il faut cultiver notre jardin.'
Diocletian, one of the cleverest of the Roman emperors, reigned
twenty-two years and then retired to private life in Dalmatia, building,
planting, and gardening. Solicited by Maximian to resume the imperial
purple, he replied that if he could show Maximian the cabbages which he
had planted with his own hands he would no longer be urged to relinquish
his enjoyment of happiness for the pursuit of power. Fanny Kemble lived
all summer in the Alps, the guides describing her exquisitely as the
lady who goes singing over the mountains. Pedaretus, being left out of
the election of the three hundred, went home merry, saying that it did
him good to find there were three hundred better than himself in the
city. St. Augustine on his thirty-third birthday gave his friends a
moderate feast followed by a three days' discussion of the Happy Life.
Bunyan wrote _The Pilgrim's Progress_ not to please his neighbors, but
his own self to satisfy; in prison, too.

Catherine of Siena, whatever her sufferings, was always jocund, 'ever
laughing in the Lord.' The blind Madame du Deffand rejoiced that her
affliction was not rheumatism; Spurgeon's receipt for contentment was
never to chew pills, but to swallow the disagreeable and have done with
it; Darwin's comfort was that he had never consciously done anything to
gain applause; and Jefferson never ceased affirming his belief in the
satisfying power of common daylight, common pleasures, and all the
common relations of life. Essipoff, when commiserated on the smallness
of her hands, insisted that longer ones would be cumbersome. Robert
Schauffler's specific for a blue Monday is to whistle all the Brahms
tunes he can remember. Dr. Cuyler, when very ill, replied to a
relative's suggestion of the glorious company waiting him above, 'I've
got all eternity to visit with those old fellows; I am in no hurry to
go'; and old Aunt Mandy, when asked why she was so constantly cheerful,
replied, 'Lor', chile, I jes' wear this world like a loose garment.'

Acts, all these, the flinging out of hand or tongue against adverse
fortune. The brain can do it, too. One of the most remarkable statements
I ever heard is Mary Antin's that she never had a dull hour in her life.
Now, outside things, doings, could not so have thrilled her days. Her
spirit kept dullness distant. On the rafters of Montaigne's tower-room
was written in Greek, 'It is not so much things that torment man as the
opinion that he has of things.' Our opinions then make the contented or
the discontented heart. Coleridge affirmed the shaping power of
imagination to be so vitally human that the joy of life consists in it.
Haydon's chief pleasure was 'feeding on his own thoughts.' 'Make for
yourselves nests of pleasant thoughts,' Ruskin urged. 'Whether God gave
the Venetians St. Mark's bones does not matter,' he says elsewhere, 'but
he gave them real joy and peace in their imagined treasure, more than we
have in our real ones.' Lord Rosebery urges people to garden in winter
in the imagination. Stevenson writes of the ease and pleasure of travels
in the calendar and a voyage in the atlas; and Keats thought that a man
might pass a very pleasant life by reading certain pages of poetry and
wandering with them and musing and dreaming upon them.

It is the mood that makes the contented heart, just as the eye makes the
horizon, and we ourselves make the light that we see things by. Clothes
warm us only by keeping our own heat in. 'Everyone is well or ill at
ease,' says Epictetus, 'according as he finds himself; not he whom the
world believes but himself believes to be so is content.' To be
concrete, take riches. 'Greedy fools,' sings the modern poet,

    'Measure themselves by poor men never;
    Their standard being still richer men
    Makes them poor ever.'

The rich man is merely one who has something to spare; and the really
poor one he who has nothing over. If you can give anything you are rich.
Try it. An old man tells me how Mark Hopkins used to examine the boys in
the Westminster Catechism: 'What is the chief end of man?' 'To glorify
God and enjoy him forever.' 'Well,' he burst forth, 'why don't you do it
then?' It is not conceit, but hygiene of the soul, to 'enjoy one's
self,' taking the conventional phrase literally. The trick of happiness,
says Walt Whitman, is to tone down your wants and tastes low enough;
and Stevenson puts in his say that the true measure of success is
appreciation: 'I stand more in need of a deeper sense of contentment
with life than of knowledge of the Bulgarian tongue.' What would the
possession of a thousand a year avail, asks Thackeray, to one who was
allowed to enjoy it only with the condition of wearing a shoe with a
couple of nails in it?

Take knowledge, not to be confounded with wisdom,--'I have none,' sang
Keats's thrush, 'and yet the evening listens.' It did not hurt Horace

                if others be
    More rich or better read than me,
    Each has his place.

Montaigne would rather be more content and less knowing; and there is
Lessing's great confession of faith: that if God in his right hand held
all truth, and in his left the striving for truth, 'if he should say to
me, "Choose," I would say, "Father, give me this striving, pure truth is
for thee alone."'

Take work. Do you complain of it? Try doing more, of a productive sort.
An engine-builder received complaint that his engine burned too much
coal. 'How many cars on the train?' was the telegraphed query, with the
reply, 'Four.' 'Try twelve,' went the prescription, and the train drew
twelve with economy of fuel. 'Your brain tired?' William James echoed a
student. 'Never mind, work straight on and your brain will get its
second wind.' I myself do not know of any anodyne surer and quicker
than that found in the garden. When all the world is askew, dibbling in
seedlings in straight rows is a wonderful solace. Why do so many women
treat domesticity as drudgery? Its infinite variety, so unlike the
monotonous tasks of men, often wearies the mind, but like Chesterton I
do not see how it can narrow it. And socialism, with its cry of
armchairs for workingmen! Armchairs, as Creighton nobly says, will bring
no lasting happiness; but to quicken a human being, even one's self,
into a sense of the meaning of his life and destiny, that is a real
happiness.

Take sorrow. Is it not infinitely better to have loved and lost than
never to have loved at all? Are there not many good moments in life
which outweigh its greatest sorrows?

Take overpressure. Luther advised Melanchthon to stop managing the
universe and let the Almighty do it; and Dr. Trumbull preached 'the duty
of refusing to do good.'

Take the grief caused by others. One of the bravest women I know used in
times of anxiety to gather her little children about her and say gayly,
'Now I will make some graham gems, and open some marmalade, and we will
take a little comfort.' Solomon or Aristotle could have done no more.

Take, for a smile's sake, the weather. It may be bad, but as we cannot
change it, the thing is our attitude toward it; and as dark enshrouds
us, 'The sun is set,' said Mr. Inglesant, cheerfully; 'but it will rise
again. Let us go home.'

In such ways as these the right-minded person will meet his discontents
face to face, and one by one eliminate them. He will also take stock of
his assets. St. Teresa said that by thinking of heaven for a quarter of
an hour every day one might hope to deserve it. Why do we not
deliberately devote some minutes each day to saying to ourselves, 'I am
tolerably well; I have food and shelter; everybody so far as I know
respects me, and a few persons love me truly. I have books and a garden,
the stars and the sea. I enjoy this and that, and before long the other.
The thing so long dreaded has never come to pass. I will embark at any
rate for the land of the Contented Heart.' Would not such a conscious
recapitulation be an actual force building up this thing of which we
talk?

Can content be conveyed? Can it be passed from one who has it to one who
has it not--as one lamp lights another nor grows less? I wonder what
would be the effect of a group of young women, lately conning over in
college class--

    With what I most enjoy contented least--

if they should resolve to stop all that, and, undeterred by others'
estimate of values, be trustees of their own content, not suffering it
to be contingent upon the manners and conduct of others? I believe that
it would act like the magnet, which not only attracts the needle but
infuses it with the power of drawing others. Great-heart so inspired the
travelers that Christiana seized her viol and Mercy her lute, and, as
they made sweet music, Ready-to-Halt took Despondency's daughter, Mrs.
Much-Afraid, by the hand and together they went dancing down the road.

Which is apropos of my contention that the Contented Heart is not so
rare!


THE END

The Riverside Press

CAMBRIDGE. MASSACHUSETTS

U. S. A.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Atlantic Classics" ***

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

We also ask that you:

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

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

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

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



Home